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The Rock Knows

Copyright 2001, by Samuel M. Post.
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.

Characters:
COFFEE DRINKER — a young man with a backpack
WAITRESS — a young woman with a pot of coffee
Scene: A restaurant

Suggestion to director and actors from the playwright: To me, there’s humor here, but not comedy. As a possibility, underplay, straight. Don’t work for laughs. Allow irony to surface. Just a possibility. If you want something different, that’s okay too.

COFFEE DRINKER sits with his coffee. Enter WAITRESS. She offers him coffee.

COFFEE DRINKER: One last cup.

She pours him a cup of coffee.

WAITRESS: Anything else?

COFFEE DRINKER: Nope. I’m good.

WAITRESS: Then maybe I could ask a favor.

COFFEE DRINKER: Sure.

WAITRESS: Can I sit down here a minute while I’m on break and have myself a cup of coffee? You mind?

COFFEE DRINKER: Sure.

WAITRESS: (indicating the backpack) You’re traveling.

COFFEE DRINKER: I know that.

WAITRESS: I like travel.

COFFEE DRINKER: You travel a lot?

WAITRESS: I like talking with people who travel.

COFFEE DRINKER: Why so?

WAITRESS: I don’t know. Maybe ’cause I’m stuck here. Like a big rock in the bottom of the stream — watching the water go by.

COFFEE DRINKER: People passing through are safe.

WAITRESS: I hope you’re safe.

COFFEE DRINKER: I mean safe, like, you don’t have to see ’em again. You see ’em once and anything goes.

WAITRESS: I like seeing people again.

COFFEE DRINKER: How often does that happen?

WAITRESS: Sometimes they come back.

COFFEE DRINKER: I’m not coming back.

WAITRESS: It’s just in a manner of speaking.

COFFEE DRINKER: A manner of speaking what?

WAITRESS: Just a manner of speaking about people.

COFFEE DRINKER: And seeing them again.

WAITRESS: When I can.

COFFEE DRINKER: You won’t see me again. This is it.

WAITRESS: You don’t know that.

COFFEE DRINKER: I think I do.

WAITRESS: How could you?

COFFEE DRINKER: I know where I’m going.

WAITRESS: When?

COFFEE DRINKER: Whenever!

WAITRESS: That’s what I’m talking about. There are too many possibilities for you to know where you’ll be whenever. As a manner of speaking. Where you going?

COFFEE DRINKER: Salisbury.

WAITRESS: You like it there?

COFFEE DRINKER: Never been there. You been there?

WAITRESS: No.

COFFEE DRINKER: They say it’s crazy.

WAITRESS: That’s what I hear.

COFFEE DRINKER: A wild place.

WAITRESS: I know.

COFFEE DRINKER: But you don’t really know until you’re there. It might be about the same as it is here.

WAITRESS: You’ll find out.

COFFEE DRINKER: I’ll only be there one day.

WAITRESS: Then you won’t see much of Salisbury.

COFFEE DRINKER: Unless I do.

WAITRESS: You’ll get an impression.

COFFEE DRINKER: That can be everything.

WAITRESS: Why are you going to Salisbury?

COFFEE DRINKER: Lee Street Theatre’s ten minute play.

WAITRESS: You going there to see a ten minute play?

COFFEE DRINKER: I guess I am.

WAITRESS: What’s it about?

COFFEE DRINKER: It’s about stopping for coffee while traveling to Salisbury to see a ten minute play.

WAITRESS: You’re going to see a play about me?

COFFEE DRINKER: Sort of.

WAITRESS: We’re both in it?

COFFEE DRINKER: Yeah!

WAITRESS: That’s all that happens in the play?

COFFEE DRINKER: Possibly.

WAITRESS: And you’re driving all that way for ten minutes.

COFFEE DRINKER: Eight.

WAITRESS: For a trip like that, shouldn’t it be at least ten?

COFFEE DRINKER: It only takes eight minutes. See this coffee?
(he holds his coffee)
Eight minutes.

WAITRESS: But you and I can talk for two more minutes.

COFFEE DRINKER: About what?

WAITRESS: About a rock in the stream, watching water go by.

COFFEE DRINKER: But if the rock doesn’t move — and it can’t — then how does it know anything about where the water goes?

WAITRESS: It’s a big long stream — all the way to the ocean.

COFFEE DRINKER: The rock has no clue.

WAITRESS: It does if it listens to the water.

COFFEE DRINKER: The water can’t talk.

WAITRESS: It’s a manner of speaking.

COFFEE DRINKER: You listen to water?

WAITRESS: I try.

COFFEE DRINKER: And what does the water say?

WAITRESS: It hardly says anything because it’s gone so fast.

COFFEE DRINKER: That’s what I’m talking about. If the stream goes for miles and miles, all the way to the ocean, and even into the ocean
and underneath the ocean, even if it goes to another continent and then through that whole continent and then into another ocean and then under that ocean and to another
continent and back to where it came from and passes right over the same rock again — the rock doesn’t know about all that travel.

WAITRESS: You’re assuming the rock knows only what it sees.

COFFEE DRINKER: What else does it know?

WAITRESS: It knows what it knows. Not what you think it knows.

COFFEE DRINKER: Does it know it’s a rock?

WAITRESS: A rock knows it’s a rock. That’s my whole point. You gotta believe a rock knows it’s a rock.

COFFEE DRINKER: Okay. I do. I’m a stream and you’re a rock.
She drinks her coffee.
Too bad you’re a rock.

WAITRESS: I’m not a rock.

COFFEE DRINKER: You said you were a rock.

WAITRESS: You said that. For me, it’s a manner of speaking!

COFFEE DRINKER: Then it’s too back you’re stuck.

WAITRESS: I’m not stuck.

COFFEE DRINKER: You said you were stuck. Like a rock.

WAITRESS: That’s a manner of speaking.

COFFEE DRINKER: For you, everything’s just a manner of speaking.

WAITRESS: That’s just a manner of speaking.

COFFEE DRINKER: So you’re not stuck.

WAITRESS: I sat down here, didn’t I?

COFFEE DRINKER: I guess you did.

WAITRESS: Can I ask you another favor?

COFFEE DRINKER: Sure.

WAITRESS: Can I come along?

COFFEE DRINKER: Is that a manner of speaking?

WAITRESS: It is, but I’d like to go.

COFFEE DRINKER: I guess you can.

WAITRESS: Since I’m now in the play.

COFFEE DRINKER: You’ve always been in it.

WAITRESS: So what happens?

COFFEE DRINKER: You never know what will happen.

WAITRESS: Isn’t there a script?

COFFEE DRINKER: As a manner of speaking. But inside that script, you don’t know.

WAITRESS: What’s inside the script?

COFFEE DRINKER: What happens. There’s no guarantee.

WAITRESS: I don’t want a guarantee.

COFFEE DRINKER: As long as you know. I mean, the play might not even be in the play.

WAITRESS: Why not?

COFFEE DRINKER: It’s only eight minutes.

He stands up. Puts on his backpack. She stands. They face each other and experience a moment of quiet intimacy.

WAITRESS: Is eight minutes different from ten?

COFFEE DRINKER: Only if you’re a clock.

WAITRESS: I’m not a clock.

COFFEE DRINKER: Or a rock.

WAITRESS: We can slow down.

COFFEE DRINKER: We already did.

WAITRESS: We can forget our lines.

COFFEE DRINKER: We already have.

WAITRESS: We can talk a little more.

COFFEE DRINKER: We don’t need to.

WAITRESS: It’s cold, being a rock.

COFFEE DRINKER: There’s cold and there’s cold.

WAITRESS: It’s a manner of speaking.

end of play

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