Copyright 2003, by Samuel M. Post.
Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class â€” please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but I’d really like to know about it.
BETH stands, frozen, listening. We hear a thump. ERIC enters.
BETH: What was that?
ERIC: Yeah, what?
BETH: That noise!
ERIC: I didnâ€™t hear a noise.
BETH: How could you not hear it?
ERIC: What noise?
BETH: You didnâ€™t hear that?
ERIC: I was outside.
BETH: Itâ€™s a weird noise.
Thereâ€™s a tapping.
There. Be still.
Did you hear it that time?
ERIC: Of course I heard that.
BETH: What was it?
ERIC: I donâ€™t know.
BETH: Thereâ€™s something in the wall.
He goes to the wall and pounds it, hard. No response.
ERIC: Could be a squirrel.
BETH: Could be a rat.
ERIC: I donâ€™t think so.
BETH: You donâ€™t know.
ERIC: Well, it could be a rat.
ERIC: Calm down. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s a rat.
BETH: Having a breakdown.
I canâ€™t stand this!
ERIC: You know, weâ€™re not on this planet alone. There are creatures in this world besides humans.
BETH: My motherâ€™s coming here tomorrow, and thereâ€™s a rat in the wall.
ERIC: Sheâ€™ll know what to do about it.
BETH: Why would she know?
ERIC: Your mother knows about a lot of things.
BETH: She doesnâ€™t know what to do about this! You should know what to do about it, and you should do it â€“ before she gets here. Sheâ€™s coming here for a visit, not to get rats out of our wall.
ERIC: Iâ€™m pretty sure itâ€™s not a rat.
BETH: How can you be sure?
He pounds the wall. Nothing happens.
ERIC: It doesnâ€™t move. I think weâ€™d hear it scurry.
A squirrel would scurry.
ERIC: Squirrels scurry more than rats.
BETH: We need an exterminator. Squirrels carry rabies!
ERIC: So do rats.
sound of a thump
BETH: Over there. Itâ€™s in the vent.
She points. ERIC moves slowly to the corner, gets on his hands and knees, and looks in the vent.
ERIC: I think I can see it. Get me a flashlight.
She scurries to bring him the flashlight. He shines it into the vent.
Look at that.
BETH: I donâ€™t want to look. What is it?
ERIC: Thatâ€™s a possum. Look.
ERIC: Itâ€™s looking right at me. Right straight at me. Itâ€™s really breathing hard. I saw that thing run across the street the other night. What a tail!
BETH: Can you kill it?
ERIC: I donâ€™t want to kill it. But Iâ€™ll try to get it to leave.
He exits and returns with a chopstick.
BETH: Can you get rid of it with a chopstick?
ERIC: Iâ€™m going to try.
He pokes it.
Damn. They really do play possum.
BETH: Can you get it to leave?
ERIC: Not now. Itâ€™s playing possum. Look at this.
The next day. CAROL, BETHâ€™S mother, sits, reading a book. BETH, with the flashlight, is on her hands and knees, studying the possum.
CAROL: Itâ€™s not hurting anybody. Why donâ€™t you just leave it alone?
BETH: Sometimes it moves around.
CAROL: Itâ€™s not moving now.
BETH: Thatâ€™s because itâ€™s playing possum.
CAROL: Itâ€™s not playing possum. It is a possum.
BETH: If I quit bothering it, itâ€™ll act alive and run around in the ductwork.
CAROL: Maybe itâ€™ll run outside.
BETH: Mom, it lives in there!
CAROL: Itâ€™ll leave when itâ€™s hungry. It has to eat.
BETH: No it doesnâ€™t. It might hibernate there for the winter.
CAROL: Do they hibernate?
BETH: I donâ€™t know. They could. Theyâ€™re mammals.
CAROL: Iâ€™m a mammal. I donâ€™t hibernate.
BETH: I donâ€™t know if they hibernate. Iâ€™m just saying itâ€™s possible. Itâ€™s warm in there.
CAROL: Then itâ€™ll leave in the spring.
BETH: Iâ€™m gonna get it outaâ€™ there.
She exits and returns with a baseball bat.
CAROL: Beth, no. Let Eric handle this.
BETH: He wonâ€™t do anything. He called animal control and they said if we came down to the police station theyâ€™d give us a trap.
CAROL: Then trap it.
BETH: Then what?
CAROL: Then you could take it somewhere.
BETH: And carry it around? In a trap?
She looks again.
Mom, look at this. Itâ€™s showing me its teeth. Itâ€™s mocking me. Mom, look. Itâ€™s smiling at me.
She slams it with the baseball bat, puts the bat down, and looks again.
Now itâ€™s playing possum again.
CAROL: It is a possum. Doesnâ€™t have to play.
BETH: Quit saying that!
CAROL: Itâ€™s the equivalent of someone accusing you of playing human.
BETH: Would you shut up and come look at this?
CAROL: I donâ€™t care to see it.
BETH: Mom! Look!
CAROL: I trust you.
Three days later. CAROL, using the flashlight, stares into the vent. ERIC sits, flipping channels with the remote.
CAROL: Have you noticed its hands?
ERIC: It doesnâ€™t have hands.
CAROL: Oh yes it does. Take a look.
ERIC: Iâ€™ve seen it. Theyâ€™re feet.
CAROL: They look just like hands. Theyâ€™re cute.
ERIC: Can we forget about it? It left for two days. Iâ€™m sure itâ€™ll leave again.
CAROL: It came back because it likes it here. Have you kept the lids on the garbage?
ERIC: It doesnâ€™t care about garbage.
BETH: It likes hanging out in the ductwork.
CAROL: If it has babies in there, youâ€™ll be sorry.
BETH: Itâ€™s the insulation. Itâ€™s warm and cozy.
CAROL hears a noise.
CAROL: Did you hear that?
BETH: I didnâ€™t hear anything.
CAROL: It sneezed.
ERIC: I didnâ€™t hear it.
BETH: to CAROL
You think itâ€™s got a cold?
CAROL: Sounds like it.
BETH goes to the vent. The two of them study the possum. They hear another noise.
BETH: I heard it that time. It has a cold.
CAROL: Could be an allergy.
They hear another noise.
ERIC: That was a cough.
CAROL: Itâ€™s not a deep cough.
CAROL: to ERIC, accusingly
Have you changed that filter?
ERIC: Last week.
BETH: Could be bronchitis.
CAROL: Iâ€™m thinking itâ€™s a cold.
BETH: Probably from the change in temperature. Coming in and out of the house.
ERIC: Iâ€™m not gonna worry about it.
BETH: How can you be that way?
ERIC: Itâ€™s a possum!
BETH: A possum is living creature.
ERIC: They live outside. In nature. Who cares if they get a cold?
CAROL: When somebodyâ€™s sick, I canâ€™t help but to worry.
ERIC: Maybe itâ€™s playing sick. They play dead.
CAROL: Youâ€™ll be sorry if it dies in there.
BETH: Mom, donâ€™t pay attention to him. He has no feelings for people who are less fortunate than he is.
ERIC: Itâ€™s not gonna die. Theyâ€™ve been around since the dinosaurs. Theyâ€™re tough.
BETH: He is so callous. I wonder if we should call a doctor.
ERIC: A doctor? A few days ago, you wanted me to call an exterminator.
BETH: Thatâ€™s before I got to know it.
ERIC: You donâ€™t know it.
CAROL: speaking to the possum
Baby, are you okay? Do you need a little Robitussin?
BETH: to ERIC
Go get the Robitussin.
ERIC: Please. If you ignore it, itâ€™ll leave. Itâ€™s probably got a home and a family somewhere.
BETH: It doesnâ€™t have a family. Possums are wanderers.
ERIC: Then itâ€™ll wander to somewhere else.
BETH: I donâ€™t think itâ€™ll make it.
ERIC: Who cares?
BETH: I do.
CAROL: So do I. Get the medicine. Do you have a little funnel?
BETH: Yes we do. Second drawer next to the sink. Hurry up.
He exits. To CAROL
Bronchitis could turn to pneumonia. Especially in those little lungs.
CAROL: Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m thinking.
End of play