0.Henry Perfect - Three Short Plays by David Mauriello from O.Henry


This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

- a one-act play based on THE RANSOM OF MACK,
a short story by O'Henry


MACK early forties, wise, gentle demeanor, self-effacing

ANDY twenties, overly sure of himself, good guy

REBOSA REED late teens, pretty, sexy, gaudy dresser

TIME the early 1900s

SETTING a small town thirty miles from Denver

The action of the play takes place on a minimally set stage. A rocking chair, and other miscellaneous
properties indicate the interior of Mack and Andy's cottage as necessary. Other action takes place in
the imaginary outdoors, on a road, etc.

As lights come up, Andy walks onto stage carrying a small, well worn leather suitcase. He stops center stage,
puts suitcase down, and addresses the audience. He wears an old tweed suit, carries the jacket over his free arm.

This isn't where the story begins, but it is where the beginning of
the end of the story began. Everything else you might call prologue
or prolusion. See, I had received a telegram from Speight, the man
that was working a mine I had an interest in out in New Mexico. I had
to get out there and I was gone two months. I was anxious to get
back to the little town of Pina and the two room cabin I shared with my
friend Old Mack Lonsbury and enjoy life once more. But two events
shattered any hope of that. As I approached the humble abode I shared
with Old Mack…

Rebosa runs on stage, giggling

Her attire is on the gaudy side - tight fitting showing her very nice body.
Her hat is large and decorated to overfull with pansies

Rebosa ignores Andy, stops, looks back off stage, giggles some more
and exits other side of stage, still giggling

That was event number one! Event number two has to do with
Old Mack himself. Now I say "old" but Mack wasn't really old, he
was forty-one, but he always seemed old, quiet, thoughtful, wise ...
but sometimes as a body ages the mind recogitates its youth, and
sometimes the mind gets stuck in that recogitation and thinks it IS
youth! And that's why we got the saying "there's no fool like an old
fool." Anyway, here's a good place for that prolusion I mentioned
And that will bring us right back to the event number two, event
number one you will remember was the high strung young lady
running that-away full of some high spirited secret looked like to me.

Lights start to dim

Now me and old Mack, we got out of that Little Hide and Seek gold mine affair with about $40,000 apiece.

Andy starts to walk backwards, suitcase in hand, as Mack enters, also suitcase in hand, and
walking in place until Andy is side to side with him and also walking in place.

They stop.

Mack wears old style overalls and a loose fitting jacket.

Lights to full.

Andy, I'm tired of hustling. You and me have been working hard together for three years.
Say we knock off for awhile and spend some of this idle money we've coaxed our way.

The proposition hits me just right. Let's be nabobs2 for awhile and see how it feels.
What'll we do, take in the Niagara Falls or buck at faro?

For a good many years, I've thought that if I ever had extravagant money I'd rent a
two-room cabin somewhere, hire a Chinaman to cook and sit in my stocking feet and
read Buckle's History of Civilization.3

That sounds self-indulgent and gratifying without vulgar ostentation. And I don't see how
money could be better invested. Give me a cuckoo clock and a Sep Winner's Self-Instructor
for the banjo, and I'll join you.

Well look at that sign there. We are about to enter a town called Pina. Denver, it says, is
thirty miles thataway.

ANDY (reading the sign) Pop 340.

Sounds friendly enough for me. (looking at sign, he notices
something, squints eyes, crouches a bit forward for a better look)
Why look at that, that little sign underneath, hanging like an
anecdote. See what it says?

"Elegant two room house for rent." I think they saw us coming.

Lights dim.

In the semi darkness, actors leave suitcases off, move a rocking chair
and an easy chair onto stage, and hang an outlandish cuckoo clock from a wire.
(the cuckoo clock is optional, but if there is none, there can still be the sound effect.)

Mack removes his clothes down to loose fitting long johns and blue yarn socks

Andy removes his jacket and brings a banjo onto stage

Mack sits in rocker with a thick book.

Andy sits in easy chair and starts plucking banjo.

They both light up pipes.

After a short pause the cuckoo sings out, once, raucously.

(closing his book as if on cue) If that isn't the darndest thing. Just when it gets
too dark to read that darnded bird lets you know it.

A nocturnal varmint it is. Diurnal too, seeing how it croaks when the
sun comes up. Actually, the mechanism is so thin with age it's become
time sensitive. Kinda like people, don't you think?

The men look at each other with blank expressions.

After a pause Andy speaks.

It's your turn.

Mine. You sure? Let's see. Science… that was you. Pearl diving, me. Sciatica, you.
Egypt, me. Spelling, you. Fish, me. Tradewinds, you. Leather, me. Gratitude, you,
Eagles, me.

A slight error. Fish AND Tradewinds, you. That made Leather, me, Gratitude, you.
Eagles, me. Your turn to pick the subject for discussion.

There is a pause.

Hmmm, well.

As Mack ruminates, Lights dim a bit.

Andy steps out of the scene and talks to the audience.

Now, listen closely, because the subject old Mack is about to broach is
intimately connected to(holds up one finger) the first event, which you may
remember was the young pretty thing giggling that-away, and prologue to
(holds up a second finger) the second event, which is yet to come. And this
on the very eve of the day I am going to New Mexico for two months.

He re-enters the scene and sits as before.

Lights full.

Andy, friend, are you much apprised in the habits and policies of women folks?


You heard. Women.

Why, yes. I know 'em from Alfred to Omaha. The feminine
nature and similitude is as plain to my sight as the Rocky
Mountains is to a blue-eye burro. I'm onto all their little
sidesteps and punctual discrepancies.

I tell you Andy (he sighs) I never had the least amount of
intersection with their predispositions. Maybe I might have had
a proneness in respect to their vicinity, but I never took the time.
I made my own living since I was fourteen and I never seemed
to get my ratiocinations equipped with the sentiments usually
depicted toward the sect. I sometimes wish I had.

Andy glances at Mack surreptitiously.

Hmm. They're an adverse study and adapted to points of view.
Although they vary in rationale, I have found 'em quite often
obviously differing from each other in divergences of contrast.

It seems to me that a man had better take 'em in and secure his
inspirations of the sect when he's young and so preordained. I
let my chance go by; and I guess I'm too old now to go hopping
into the curriculum.

Oh, I don't know. Maybe you better credit yourself with a barrel of money
and a lot of emancipation from a quantity of uncontent. Still, I don't regret
my knowledge of 'em. It takes a man who understands the symptoms and
by-plays of women-folks to take care of himself in this world.

Hmm, I suppose. (gets up tiredly) Time to turn in. You have a good trip
tomorrow to New Mexico.

He exits.

Lights dim.
Andy exits, and then re-enters exactly as he did at the opening wearing his jacket and carrying his suitcase.

Lights up.

He stops centerstage and addresses the audience.

Prolusion is now over. And here, again, comes the first event that shattered
my hopes of a happy homecoming.

Rebosa Reed runs across the stage giggling just as she did but this time she
stops at far edge of stage and freezes.

Lights up on rocking chair and easy chair and cuckoo.

The place is empty..

Andy walks to it, looks around.

Mack… MACK!

BRIGHT spot on Mack who enters sheepishly.

Andy does a double.

Mack is dressed elegantly as if for a dress ball (see description that Andy gives.)

Hello Andy. Glad to see you back. Things have happened since
you went away.

You're telling me! You are a spectacle. An undertaker's coat,
shiny shoes, (walks around Mack, looks under coat) a white
vest. A high silk hat! and what's this (indicates flower Mack has
pinned to his jacket ), a geranium as big as an order of spinach.
And look at you, smirking and warping your face like an
infernal storekeeper or a kid with colic.

Like I said, things have happened since you went away.

Happened, HAPPENED! Why I nearly fainted when I saw you.
If angels ever wept, I see no reason why they should be smiling
now. You are a sacrilegious sight, you are. God never made you
this way Mack Lonsbury. Why do you scarify his works with
this presumptious kind of ribaldry?

Why Andy, they've elected me justice of the peace since you left.

Andy studies Mack closely.

Mack is smiling and spirited.

A justice of the peace ought to be disconsolate and assuaged.

Rebosa giggles and jiggles, turns to the men, giggles some more.

(to Mack) You are restless and (looks at Rebosa) and, inspired.

Rebosa giggles some more. Mack raises his hat to her and bows.

Rebosa curtsies, giggles and exits.

Mack, Mack. (shakes his head) No hope for you if you've got the Mary-Jane
infirmity at your age. I thought it wasn't going to take on you. And patent leather
shoes? All this in two little short months!"

(in a kind of flutter) Tonight, I'm going to marry the young lady who just passed by.

[end of extract]


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