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In the Waiting Room

Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class — please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but I’d really like to know about it.

This was my last 9×9 show. I was so busy at the time. I don’t remember the names of the actors or director — but I remember their performances well. I don’t think I’ve every been more grateful for such talent and effort. They were absolutely excellent — especially the gentleman who played Harris.

In the Waiting Room
Copyright 2008. Samuel M. Post

Setting
A waiting room in an veterinarian’s office.

Characters
Mitzy. A woman in her 20′s.
Harris. A black man in his 60′s.
Receptionist

Props
A tiny dog (stuffed soft toy)
A cat carrier
A paper bag
apple
little bag of tuna

Mitzy sits, waiting to see the vet. She holds in her arms a small dog. As she sits, she strokes the top of the dog’s head, giving it an occasional scratch behind the ear. Enter HARRIS. He has a brown bag and a cardboard cat carrier.

He sits next to Mitzy and puts the cardboard box between them. He puts the paper bag down on top of the box. Trying to be subtle, such that he doesn’t notice, Mitzi scoots sideways a bit, away from him. She pulls her dog closer and gives it a kiss on the top of its head.

For a moment they sit, as people often do in waiting rooms, staring straight ahead, ignoring each other. Mitzy begins to steal glances in Harris’s direction, sizing him up, checking out the box and the hidden cat it contains.

After a moment, without pretense or apology, he turns and stares at her dog. He focuses entirely on the dog, not on her. After a moment, she warms to this and relaxes a bit.

HARRIS: (looking at his watch) Been waitin’ long?

MITZY: Just a minute. I’m early.

HARRIS: I’m a little late.

He leans in and makes an even closer study of the puppy.

HARRIS: How old’s that puppy?

MITZY: Eight months.

HARRIS: Bi. . . uh. . . girl dog?

MITZY: Uh huh.

HARRIS: Is that a pure bred dog?

MITZY: Oh no. Not Peru. She’s a. . .

HARRIS: Mutt. Best kind.

MITZY: She’s not exactly a mutt. She’s. . .

HARRIS: A mix.

MITZY: She’s part. . .

HARRIS: Lemme guess. I’d say it’s a cross between a Jack Russel and Shitzu.

MITZY: No, the mother was a Shnoodle and the father — they think — was maybe a Chihuahua?

HARRIS: Now that little dog’s gonna stay small.

MITZY: I wouldn’t want a big dog.

HARRIS: Don’t blame you. Take up too much room in the bed.

MITZY: Exactly!

Ne nods.

MITZY: She sleeps with me.

HARRIS: That’s a cute dog. Real calm.

MITZY: Not always.

Mitzi gives her puppy a loving squeeze.

MITZY: But she’s precious.

HARRIS: Small dog doesn’t mean small trouble though.

MITZY: I know! I tried leaving her out of the crate — one time! — and she pulled up about five feet of carpet. It was everywhere!I was furious!

HARRIS: I’ll bet you were.

MITZY: I could’ve killed her!

HARRIS: Carpet ain’t cheap.

Harris takes the bag off the cat box and sets it onto his lap. He looks inside the bag and reaches into it. He leaves his hand there for a moment. She watches. He pulls out a pinch of tuna. He opens his cat’s box and gives the tuna to his cat.

HARRIS: There you go, baby.

to Mitzy

HARRIS: Your dog’s name is. . . you say. . . Peru?

MITZY: Yep. Peru.

HARRIS: Pay-Ru! Solid name.

MITZY: I’ve just always loved Peru.

HARRIS: The country?

MITZY: Something about it.

HARRIS: Have you been to Peru?

MITZY: No — but I’m dying to go. You know, one of these days.

HARRIS: I’d like to visit Mexico.

MITZY: I’ve been there.

HARRIS: Always meant to just plan a trip and go. Hard to get away.

MITZY: I know.

HARRIS: Never had the urge to visit Peru.

MITZY: I don’t know. It seems like such an interesting country! Something about the people and culture that I’ve just longedfor — since I was a little girl, ya know?

HARRIS: In this world, it’s not far.

MITZY: Further than Mexico.

He reaches into the bag again. He pulls out two apples. He offers one to Mitzy.

MITZY: No thanks.

HARRIS: Sure?

MITZY: Not hungry. Thanks.

He puts one apple back and takes a bite of the other. He chews.

HARRIS: Is Peru getting her shots today?

MITZY: Rabies.

HARRIS: That dog’s got a good soul. You can see it in the face.

MITZY: She’s a sweetie! So what’s your cat here for?

HARRIS: This ol’ cat’s not feeling so good. Not her best day.

MITZY: What’s the matter?

HARRIS: Sick. Sick and old. This is the day we gotta put her down.

MITZY: Oh my God! What’s wrong with her?

HARRIS: Very sick. Mostly old.

MITZY: That’s no reason to. . .

HARRIS: She’s tired of suffering.

MITZY: How do you know?

HARRIS: I know. My cat’s got cancer.

MITZY: Can’t they treat it!

HARRIS: We’re tired of suffering.

He opens the box and speaks to his cat.

HARRIS: Real tired. Ain’t we, baby?

He looks at his cat.

HARRIS: Seventeen years old.

He reaches into the bag and pulls out a bit of tuna.

HARRIS: She’s good as blind. Not much appetite. Don’t know if she can even smell anything.

He gives the tuna to his cat.

But she still takes her bite of tuna. Hard to imagine tomorrow, without this old cat. It’s gonna be a little different around the house — making meals for one instead of two.

long pause

MITZY: What’s her name?

HARRIS: Never had a name. I was sittin’ at home, in my chair, and heard this crying — just a little tiny far off little tiny cry. It was June, 1991 — the year the Bulls won their first. At first, I thought it was coming from the TV. Then I thought it was in my own head. But it kept on for a few minutes and I knew some little baby was crying for real — either in my basement or somewhere outside. So here it was right there in overtime — game three — and I went to the front door and opened it and there’s this little fuzzy gray kitten. No bigger than my fist. Looking straight up at me — trying to get up on her hind legs and wave — mouth wide open — and giving out this little meow. I brought it inside and fixed that sweet kitty a bowl of milk. Missed the end of the game! Forgot it was on!But no — every so often I thought, “Maybe this ol’ cat should have a name. ” Never given me any trouble. Maybe she deserves a name. But no — never came up with one. Guess it don’t matter now.

long pause

MITZY: Maybe a name. . . if you gave her a name now. . . it would make it easier to remember.

HARRIS: Remember what?

MITZY: Your cat.

HARRIS: I’ll never forget my cat. She’s in me the same as everything else that don’t have a name. You see, a cat won’t come to you and do tricks like a dog. Don’t need a name. The name is for you, not the cat.

MITZY: That’s what I mean — you could name her for you.

HARRIS: I’m fine. It’s time, that’s all.

MITZY: You gonna get a new kitty?

HARRIS: I didn’t get this kitty. She got me.

MITZY: It might help if you get a new kitten. Right away!

HARRIS: If I feel like it.

MITZY: It would be so cute.

HARRIS: I don’t think so.

Mitzy starts to cry. He scolds her gently.

HARRIS: Darlin, it’s my cat, not yours.

MITZY: Don’t tell me how to feel.

HARRIS: Gotta show proper respect. This cat had a good life.

MITZY: Maybe there’s something they can do.

HARRIS: He shakes his head.

Enter RECEPTIONIST

RECEPTIONIST: Harris, would you like me to take her, or did you want to be present?

He stands, picks up the box.

HARRIS: I’m comin’.

He begins to follow her.

MITZY: (scolding the Receptionist) I was here before him!

RECEPTIONIST: Excuse me?

MITZY: I got here first!

RECEPTIONIST: His appointment is before yours.

MITZY: I was here!

RECEPTIONIST: We’ll come get Peru in just a minute.

MITZY: Me first!

RECEPTIONIST: Excuse me?

MITZY: Please!

RECEPTIONIST: It’ll be just a minute.

MITZY: I was here before him!

HARRIS: It was right about the same time.

MITZY: (sharp, accusing) Why are you in such a hurry!

HARRIS: Darlin’, I’m just trying my best to handle what’s in front of me.

MITZY: How can you do this!

He approaches her and gives Peru and gentle pat on the head and a scratch behind the ear.

HARRIS: Everything’s gonna be okay.

MITZY: Why don’t you want a kitten?

RECEPTIONIST: (turning to exit) Now that’s an idea.

HARRIS: (following her off) One thing at a time.

Exit Receptionist and Harris.

Mitzy clutches the dog and kisses its head.

end of play

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