Selling Off by Harris Freedman

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must not be Performed, Copied or Sold without the Author’s prior consent


        ACT ONE

      (In the Black out we hear…
      SOUND – a cell-phone is ringing to the tune of the Sailors
      Hornpipe.)

      (Now we see the morning light coming through the window of ALAN’S
      private office.)

      (ALAN ENTERS his office and switches on the light.  He is carrying his
      attaché case, a newspaper, the morning mail and a brown paper bag
      containing a container of coffee and a large jelly donut.)

      (He rushes to his desk, which is covered with papers and client files,
      and he begins to try to put things down.  The brown paper bag is
      leaking coffee.)
      (ALAN’S cell-phone continues to ring.)

      ALAN:        Damn!
      (In his rush to put everything down the brown bag begins to fall over.
      He manages to catch it, but the coffee spills onto his papers. He
      tries to contain the damage.)
                Goddamnit!
      (His hands are wet with coffee, but he manages to put the hands-free
      wire of his cell-phone into his ear.)
                Hello?

      (During the telephone conversation he finds a napkin in the bag - it
      is soaked.  He looks at the writing on it, shakes his head, and
      spreads it on his desk to dry.  He takes out a Kleenex and wipes the
      coffee from his hands and papers.)

      (Lights come up on another area of the stage: MAURICE HUGHS, wearing a
      suit, is standing on a street corner.  His cell-phone is in his pocket
      and he has the hands-free wire hanging from his ear.  He is looking
      through binoculars at a window of an apartment building across the
      street while sipping from his container of coffee.  His attaché case
      is on the pavement next to him on top of which is a brown paper bag
      containing a huge jelly donut.  As he speaks and looks through the
      binoculars, while he grabs sips of coffee and bites into his donut.)

      MAURICE:      They’re doing it standing up!

      ALAN:  Who?

      MAURICE:      Dorothy and what’s-his-name?  She just gave me the finger!
                      (He gives her the finger.)
                I can’t take it anymore!

      ALAN:  Maurice, you’ve been divorced more than five years.  You have to
      get used to Dorothy sleeping with other men.

      (MAURICE bites into his donut and talks with his mouth full.)

      MAURICE:      That’s not it.  You know that’s not it.

      ALAN:  I know.  I know.  The money.

      MAURICE:      It’s the money, Alan.  The money.  No one should have to go
      through what I’m going through.  Something has to be done.

      ALAN:  The law is on her side.  You’ve consulted the best lawyers.

      MAURICE:      Screw the lawyers!  Alan, you’re a clever guy.  You always
      come up with a solution.  I’m counting on you.  I can’t go on like
      this.  Alan?  Are you there?

      ALAN:  I’m here.  I’m here.  Maurice, I know your problem, but you have
      to learn to live with it.

      MAURICE:      I can’t. I won’t!

      ALAN:  You have to.

      MAURICE:      She’s doing it on purpose.

      ALAN:  She’s just going on with her life.  It has nothing to do with
      you.

      MAURICE:      She’s doing it to punish me.  She’s a bitch.  That’s what
      bothers me.

      ALAN:  We’ve had this conversation a hundred times.

      MAURICE:      We have to go over it again, for my mental health.  I have to
      be sure we haven’t missed something.

      ALAN:  I’m only an accountant, not a lawyer.

      MAURICE:      Don’t be modest.  You’re an experienced man.  You’re clever.
      She’s screwing that leech.  They’re living together in my apartment.

      ALAN:  It’s not your apartment anymore, Maurice.  It’s hers.  Get that
      through your head.

      MAURICE:      They’re living together on my money.

      ALAN:  You can’t prove they’re living together.  The man’s clever, he
      still keeps his own apartment.  And there’s no law against Dorothy
      sleeping with someone without marrying him.

      MAURICE:      Don’t tell me that!  I don’t want to hear it!  Do you hear
      me?!  Alan?  Do you hear me?!  Alan?  Fuck!

      (The connection is lost.  MAURICE hangs up the phone.)

      (LIGHT on MAURICE goes out.)

      ALAN:  It’s the truth Maurice.  Maurice?  Hello?
                (ALAN hangs up.  He begins to straighten out his desk.)
      (The desk phone rings.  He pushes the hands free button as he
      continues to clear his desk and look at the mail.)
          Hello Maurice.

      (LIGHTS come up on SYDNEY, an attractive woman with an unusually deep
      voice.  She has a tendency to mix eroticism with evangelical fervour.
      She is sitting at a dressing table wearing a negligee and slowly and
      sensuously applying creams and ointments to her face and various parts
      of her shapely body.  She has the hands-free wire of her cell-phone in
      her ear.  The dressing table is decorated in tropical colours and
      artifacts from a primitive native island.)

      SYDNEY: I knew you’d be there.

      ALAN:  You did?

      SYDNEY: You had to be there.

      ALAN:  Who is this?

      SYDNEY: Sydney O’Leary.

      (ALAN tries to take the lid off the coffee, and spills some on his
      desk.  He moans.)

      ALAN:  Ohhhhhmm.  Do I know you?

          (ALAN uses a Kleenex to wipe off the coffee.)

      SYDNEY: You’re Alan Cobb.

                      (SYDNEY is enjoying applying her creams to her legs and thighs.)

      ALAN:  Yes.

      (ALAN takes off his suit jacket and places it on the back of his
      chair.)

      SYDNEY: Thank God I’ve found you.

      ALAN:  You’ve been looking for me?

      SYDNEY: Yes. We’ve just come back from Pago Pago..

      (As ALAN speaks, he picks up the napkin, tries to read what is written
      on it, but it is too soaked with coffee.  He places it on the
      window-ledge to dry.)

      ALAN:  Listen Mr. O’Leary, I’m very busy.

      SYDNEY: Miss.

      ALAN:  Sorry, Miss O’Leary.

      SYDNEY: Sydney.

                      (ALAN begins to eat his donut and sip the coffee.)

      ALAN:  Sydney.

      SYDNEY: My husband and I did missionary work for seven years.

      ALAN:  In Pago Pago?

      SYDNEY: Yes, and now we’re back.

      ALAN:  Welcome back.

      (ALAN places his attaché case on his desk, opens it, takes out a
      large envelope, and his hand-held dictation machine.)

      SYDNEY: And we have this wonderful idea for a new business.

      (ALAN takes a bite of his donut, the jelly squirts out, his reflex is
      to protect his clothing, and he accidentally drops his hand-held
      dictation machine onto the telephone and cuts SYDNEY off.)

      ALAN:  Damn! . . Hello?  Shit.

                      (SYDNEY doesn’t realize she is cut off.)

      SYNDEY: We’re going to sell natural — Hello?  Mr. Cobb?  Hello?

          (Lights out on SYDNEY.)

      (ALAN wipes his hands, picks up the large envelope and takes out a
      document.  He plays his dictation machine.)

      ALAN’S RECORDED VOICE:  “. . . This is a letter to Lionel Silver.
      Dear Lionel comma new paragraph Your offer arrived last night period I
      have . . .

      (ALAN stops the tape, rewinds to the word “night” and then
      dictates)

      ALAN:        Period I have studied your offer very carefully and find your
      formula basically consistent with our discussions period As you know
      comma my partnership agreement obligates me to offer my partner the
      right of first refusal to match or better the terms and conditions in
      your offer. . .

      (Desk Phone rings.  ALAN turns off the dictation machine and pushes
      the hands free button of his desk phone.)

      ALAN:  Hello.

      (LIGHTS come up on SYDNEY in her bedroom.  SYDNEY continues to
      sensually apply her herbal creams.)

      (During their discussion, ALAN will eat his donut and drink his
      coffee.)

      SYDNEY: It’s Sydney.

      ALAN:  Sydney, listen, I came in early because I have important work to
      do.

      SYDNEY: We’re going to sell natural herbal cosmetics and we thought
      that if we’re going to start a real business we need an accountant.

      ALAN:  Sounds reasonable.

      SYDNEY: But we didn’t know any in New York City.  So we decided to put
      our trust in Jesus.

      ALAN:  Oh, good.

                      (SYDNEY is becoming sexually aroused.)

      SYDNEY: So we opened the Yellow Pages to “Certified Public
      Accountants” and we held hands and we closed our eyes and prayed,
      “Please, Lord Jesus, send us a good one”.  And I put my finger down
      onto the page and there you were; Alan Cobb & Company.

      ALAN:  That’s me.

      SYDNEY: Jesus sent you to us.

      ALAN:  He did?

      SYDNEY: Yes.  And we’re coming to see you today.

      ALAN:  You and Jesus?

      SYDNEY: Me and Harold.

      ALAN:  Harold?

      SYDNEY: My husband Harold.

      ALAN:  Harold O’Leary?

      SYDNEY: Harms.

      ALAN:  Harms?

      SYDNEY: Harold Harms.  He kept his name and I kept mine.  I didn’t
      want to lose my identity.

      ALAN:  No, of course not.

      SYDNEY: To Jesus, yes.  To Harold, no.

      ALAN:  I understand.

      SYDNEY: And of course Jesus will be with us when we meet.  That’s why
      Harold is so good with medicinal plants.  It’s really Jesus.

      ALAN:  Of course.

      SYDNEY: You have no idea what Harold can do with Pago Pago herbs.

      ALAN:  I’m sure I don’t.

      SYDNEY: Mr. Cobb.  This was no ordinary introduction.

      ALAN:  I seem to have come highly recommended.

                      (SYDNEY’S arousal is increasing.)

      SYDNEY: We’re coming to see you.

      ALAN:  How about 3:00 P.M?

      SYDNEY: It was meant to be.

      ALAN:  You have the address?

      SYDNEY: 666 Fifth Avenue.

      ALAN:  26th floor.

                      (SYDNEY is hot now.)

      SYDNEY: Oh, Mr. Cobb, three 6’s are the numbers of the Devil.

      ALAN:  I have to go Sydney.

      SYDNEY: Mr. Cobb.

      ALAN:  Alan.

      SYDNEY: Alan.

      ALAN:  Yes, Sydney.

                      (SYDNEY is reaching orgasm.)

      SYDNEY: We’ll come on time.

      ALAN:  I’m sure you will.  Goodbye.

                      (ALAN hangs up)

      SYDNEY: Goodbye, Mr. Cobb.
                      (She hangs up and speaks to herself.)
                See you at three Mr. C.

      (LIGHTS OUT on SYDNEY.)

      (MAURICE rushes into ALAN’s office carrying his attaché case and
      binoculars, puts his attaché case down and moves DS and laterally
      from window to window with his binoculars trying to get the best
      view.)

      ALAN:  Maurice, how did you get in here?

      MAURICE:      They’re feeding each other, Alan.

      ALAN:  Dorothy and what’s-his-name.

      MAURICE:      Look!  They’re fucking feeding each other.
      (ALAN joins MAURICE at the window.  MAURICE offers ALAN the binoculars
      and points to where ALAN should look.)
                Sidewalk café — first table on the left.
      (As ALAN lifts the binoculars to his eyes MAURICE grabs them and peers
      through them.)
                I’m not paying that bloodsucking bitch another penny!

      ALAN:  You tried that and it cost you her legal fees and yours, and you
      still had to pay with interest.  Maurice, you’re the managing director
      of a bank.  Go to your bank.  Go on with your life.

      MAURICE:      It’s easy for you to say.  When you got your divorce you got
      away with murder.

      ALAN:  My deal cost me, and it’s still costing me, but I’ve got to live
      with it and so do you.

      MAURICE:      I am going to strangle that bitch!

      ALAN:  Forget Dorothy.

      MAURICE:      I try, I try, but then I have to write her check every month
      and it all comes back to me.

      ALAN:  So pay her by bank transfer from your account to hers.

      MAURICE:      The bank will put the goddamn money into the wrong account
      and I’ll have to spend a week on the phone with her lawyer on my back
      trying to straighten it out.  There’s got to be something I can do.
      I’m a doer, Alan!  A doer!  I have to do something!

      ALAN:  Why don’t you start by doing something about my last invoice.

                      (MAURICE is again looking through the binoculars.)

      MAURICE:      They’re playing fucking footsie under the table!  I’m
      suffering real suffering, and all you can talk about is your fucking
      fee!?  I have a right to question the fee.

      ALAN:  I only charged you for the meetings we had about your personal
      taxes.  I haven’t charged for these daily visits and phone calls.

      MAURICE:      I pour my heart out to you and you want to charge me for
      every goddamn minute?!  Mercenary bastard!

      ALAN:  Maurice, you’re a client.  Do you understand?  A client!  I’m
      not your fucking psychiatrist!

      MAURICE:      You can’t talk to me like that!
      (MAURICE grabs his attaché case and rushes to the door.)
                I run an important fucking bank!

      (MAURICE EXITS slamming door behind him.)

      (ALAN shakes his head as he speed dials a number on his cell phone.)

      ALAN:        Hello, this is Mr. Cobb.  Please ask Sally Lowell to call me
      when she gets in – Alan Cobb - thanks.

      (He hangs up.)

      (ANNA ENTERS.)

      ANNA:  Alan, I have to talk to you.

      ALAN:        Mother!  What are you doing here?  Who’s minding the shop?

                      (He goes to her and gives her a kiss.)

      ANNA:  The Klutz.  So I have to go back soon or she’ll trip over her
      own feet and knock every dress off the racks.  Anyway at least she’s
      honest.  Alan, are you eating?  Are you sleeping?

      ALAN:  Yes, I’m eating and sleeping.
                      (Picks up intercom and dials.)
      Tracy, good morning…
      Tracy, would you please bring in black coffee for me and -
      (To ANNA)  Mother, tea or coffee…

                      (ANNA’S cell-phone rings, she answers it.)

      ANNA:  Hello. . . Murray, I told you, $37.50 not a penny more . .

      ALAN:  Mother?

      ANNA:  (to ALAN) Tea.

      ALAN:  (Into the phone.) Tracy, bring tea for my mother.

      ANNA:  (To ALAN) In a glass.

      ALAN:  (Into the phone.) In a glass.

      ANNA:  Two lumps.

      ALAN:  (Into the phone.) Two lumps. .

      ANNA:  (Into her cell-phone) Murray, I don’t care if Herman may he
      rest in peace used to pay $45.

      ALAN:  (To ANNA) Tracy doesn’t have lumps, only loose.

      ANNA:  (to ALAN) Two lumps.  On the side, not in.
                (Into her cell-phone) Between you and Lester the Lecher I’ll go
      Machulla - Machulla, broke, bankrupt!  $37.50 Murray, I’m running a
      dress shop not a charity!

      ALAN:  (Into the phone.) Tracy, see if someone on the floor has lumps.
      And hold my calls.

                          (ALAN hangs up)

      ANNA:  (Into her cell-phone) I know how much material goes into a dress
      for big women . . . cash, cash, don’t worry, $37.50, and don’t
      short count me Murray or I’ll call your mother.

                      (ANNA hangs up.)

      ANNA:  In a glass.

      ALAN:  I told her.

      ANNA:  She heard?

      ALAN:  (Picks up the intercom.)  Tracy, the tea should be in a glass
      and the lumps on the side not in. . . I know I told you already. . .
      no, I don’t think you’re stupid. . . Tracy?. . .
                      (Hangs up)
                She’s angry.  Whenever she gets angry I can’t get a decent letter
      out of her.

      ANNA:  So, do you at least speak to Muriel?

      ALAN:  Once and for all, I divorced her because we just didn’t like
      each other.

      ANNA:  Since when does a married couple like each other?  Don’t you
      miss the children?

      ALAN:  Of course I miss them, but the divorce has nothing to do with
      it.  They’re away at college, mother, you know that.

      ANNA:  Alan, go back for the children, they need a father.

      ALAN:  What Scott and Penny need is a paymaster not a father.  Money,
      mother, that’s what I am, a money machine.  I talk to them on the
      phone.  They have a father.

      ANNA:  That’s not a father.  That’s a voice.

      ALAN:  You can’t live my life for me.  Mother, now that you’re here, I
      have something to tell you.
      (ALAN’S intercom rings.  ALAN goes to his desk to answer the
      phone.)
                Yes?. . . Tell Harry I’m in a meeting . . . With him it’s always
      urgent. . . Thank God I didn’t give him my new cell-phone number. .
      . .Just do it Tracy. Please.
                          (ALAN hangs up.)
                Mother, I have two important pieces of news.

      ANNA:  You’re going back with Muriel?

      ALAN:  No, I have a girlfriend.

      ANNA:  You’re a married man!

      ALAN:  I’m divorced.

      ANNA:  To me you’re married so you’re married.  I don’t believe in
      divorces.  Who is this bimbo!

      ALAN:  She’s not a bimbo.  She is a lovely, beautiful, warm,
      compassionate woman.

      ANNA:  Do I know her?

      ALAN:  No.

      ANNA:  You’re ashamed?

      ALAN:  Of what?  Of trying to find some happiness?

      ANNA:  Who is this home-breaker?

      ALAN:  She is not a home-breaker!  I met her after Muriel and I were
      separated.

      ANNA:  What’s the home-breaker’s name?

      ALAN:  She is not a home-breaker!

      ANNA:  You’re yelling.

      ALAN:  I am not yelling!

      ANNA:  What’s her name?

      ALAN:  Sally.

      ANNA:  That’s not a Jewish name.

      ALAN:  So what, neither of us are religious.

      ANNA:  Your father would be sick from such talk, may he rest in peace.

      ALAN:  The second piece of news is that I’m selling my practice, my
      business.

      ANNA:  Are you crazy, Alan?!  What will you do?

      ALAN:  I don’t know yet.

      ANNA:  You’ll get a job?

      ALAN:  No.

      ANNA:  Only a crazy-man would want to be unemployed!

      ALAN:  The buyer will be paying me out over five years.

      ANNA:  How much?

      ALAN:  Enough.

      ANNA:  And what happens after the money stops?

      ALAN:  I’ll have time to decide, but at least I’ll be free of the
      business and all the tension.

      ANNA:  And what about money for Muriel and the children?

      ALAN:  I told Muriel last night over the phone.  I assured her I would
      meet my obligations.

      ANNA:  This isn’t your idea.  Who talked you into it?  Your bimbo?

      ALAN:  Sally is not a bimbo!  And no one talked me into anything!  In
      fact I haven’t told Sally yet.  She’s been out of town.

      ANNA:  So where’s the tea?

      ALAN:  Tracy’s angry.  I’ll have to make the tea myself.  I’ll be
      right back.

                          (As ALAN begins to EXIT, ANNA calls after him.)

      ANNA:  Two lumps.

      (ALAN calls back.)

      ALAN:  On the side.  Not in.

                      (ALAN EXITS.)

      (ANNA takes her cell-phone out of her bag and dials.)

      ANNA:        So is my store still in one piece?  . . . who do you think it
      is, genius?  Put in the book there’s a delivery tomorrow morning
      from Murray the Ganiff . . .
      (ALAN’S cell-phone rings to the tune of the Sailors’ hornpipe.  It
      is on his desk.  ANNA hangs up her cell-phone and picks up ALAN’S.)
                Hello.

      (LIGHTS come up on SALLY’s office.  Advertising and graphics design
      agency.)

      (SALLY is dressed in a smart business suit.  She is standing at a
      Graphic Design table looking through the drawings.  The hands-free
      wire of her cell-phone is in her ear so she can work while she
      speaks.)

      SALLY:  I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number.

      ANNA:  No you don’t.

      SALLY:  Is this Alan Cobb’s phone?

      ANNA:  Yes.

      SALLY:  Whom am I speaking with?

      ANNA:  You’re Sally.

      SALLY:  Yes, how did you know?

      ANNA:  I know.

      SALLY:  How?

      ANNA:  I know.

      SALLY:  You’re not Tracy.

      ANNA:  No.

      SALLY:  How do you know my name?

      ANNA:  I have my sources.

      SALLY:  What sources?

      ANNA:  Never mind.

      SALLY:  Who are you?

      ANNA:  Never mind who am I.

      SALLY:  Is this Muriel?

      ANNA:  So you know about Muriel?

      SALLY:  Yes, of course.

      ANNA:  Muriel doesn’t know about you.

      SALLY:  Who are you?

      ANNA:  One of the many women in Alan’s life.

      SALLY:  I beg your pardon.

      ANNA:  Why don’t you leave my Alan alone?

      SALLY:  Oh, are you Alan’s mother?  Mrs. Cobb?

      ANNA:  That’s me.

      SALLY:  How do you do?  Alan has told me so much about you.

      ANNA:  So what did he tell?

      SALLY:  He - well he admires you - loves you very much - thinks you’re
      the most wonderful cook.  I look forward to meeting you.

      ANNA:  Alan’s a married man.

      SALLY:  He’s divorced, Mrs. Cobb.

      ANNA:  He’s a married man with children, and you’re a home-breaker!

      SALLY:  He’s divorced.  He told me. . . he. . . Mrs. Cobb, are you
      saying that he’s not. . . I mean. . .

      ANNA:  Alan’s a good boy, and you’re a bad influence.  It’s your fault
      Alan is selling.

      SALLY:  Selling?

      ANNA:  Selling.  Selling.  Don’t you know what’s selling?

      SALLY:  I know what selling means, but what is he selling?

      ANNA:  You don’t know?

      SALLY:  No.

      ANNA:  So he didn’t tell you?

      SALLY:  Tell me what?

      ANNA:  He’s selling.

      SALLY:  Selling what?

[end of extract]

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