The Curse of the Monkey's Paw by David Mauriello


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


SON
It seems to me then, that everything we want or desire should also be
conditioned upon "Thy will be done." It attests our faith in
something beyond our finite selves. Is that what you are saying,
Morris?

Morris hesitates then rises with deliberate purpose.

MORRIS
I am not sure. But what I am sure of is that I should destroy this
wretched thing!

He moves to throw the paw into the fire but Father stills his hand by
reaching out and taking Morris' arm.

MORRIS
No, you must not stop me.

He moves to throw the paw but Father stops him again.

MORRIS
I tell you it is infectious, this curiosity, and it will come to no
good. The power to get whatever we want by simply wishing makes us
arrogant.

FATHER
IF there are such powers. I don't believe there are. I do believe in
the power of suggestion, and that drink and flames can play tricks
with a man's imagination, or that storm clouds can behave in a
manner that imitate the shapes of animals and demons. Why just earlier
Mother and Herbert were speaking of the clouds acting like criminals.
A word, a single word, or in this case, this paw, can influence the
mind, especially when a man is a soldier, in a foreign place, with
death all around.

Morris places the paw on the table.

MORRIS
Perhaps. If I wore my uniform you would see it emblazoned with medals
and decorations. A soldier kills, without being held responsible.
Perhaps, it is my own guilt that gives power to the paw.


SON
Morris, I say this humbly and sincerely. Father is correct when he
says the paw, because of the circumstances in which it came to be
yours, has shaped your attitude towards
it. What I wonder is, if you've had your three wishes, it's no
good to you now. So why do you keep it?

MORRIS
Why do I keep it? At first it was fancy, I suppose. Then I did have
some idea of selling it, but I don't think I will. It has caused
enough mischief already, I tell myself. Besides, people won't buy.
They think it's a fairy tale, some of them, and those who do think
anything of it want to try it first and pay me afterward. So, you see,
in a way, it keeps you. That is the truth. IT keeps you until it finds
a way of crawling into the life of another victim.

He stares at the paw, his body rigid.

FATHER
If you could have another three wishes, would you have them?

MORRIS
NO!

He grabs for the paw and throws it into the fire. The three gasp in
shock. Father with a cry reaches into the flames, gingerly, fingering
the paw out onto the floor.

MORRIS
Let it burn.

FATHER
If you don't want it, Morris, give it to me.

MOTHER
"Chances", Father. Please throw it into the flames.

MORRIS
I won't give it to anyone. I threw it into the fire. Don't blame
me for what happens. Pitch it into the fire again like a sensible
man.

MOTHER
Father, do as he says.

SON
Father, if it his desire that the thing be burned

MOTHER
Wanting things desperately, taking chances

FATHER
Don't you see? We are giving it power by fearing it.

He stares at them then picks up the paw and holds it high for all to
see.

SON
Yes, FEAR. There is your answer, Morris. Fear circumvents the natural
law. You say, "Never view ourselves as separate
from each other." Well, if we are all connected, if your hands are
in a sense my hands, where is there room for fear? Do we fear a part
of our own selves?

FATHER
Of course we don't.

Still holding the paw up as if it is a holy relic

FATHER
How do you do it?

Mother reaches for Son.

MOTHER
No, do you think

SON
Ah, Father, careful.

FATHER
Of what? Ourselves? Come Morris, how do you make it work?

MORRIS
The one who owns it holds it up in their right hand. The wish must be
made aloud.

Mother and Son gasp as quickly Father adopts an orator's position,
the paw held out in front of him

MORRIS
But you do not own it. And I will not give it to you. You asked why I
carry it upon my person. To prevent the transfer of its power to
another. To prevent another from making desperate wishes that lead to
tragic ends.

Slowly, Father lowers his hand. The others relax.

SON
"Desperate wishes" you say. But if the wish is sensible

MORRIS
The wishes begin with benign intent. But without fail the consequences
are tragic and completely unforeseeable.

There is a silence.

Later in the play


FATHER
Are you ready to survive the truth? Mother.

He hugs her tenderly

FATHER
Oh, my dear, sweet wife and friend. Are you sure?

He turns her face to his

FATHER
Our son is

Suddenly, OFF, the gate clangs abnormally loudly. They both jump,
startled, but Mother rises up, maniacally a hopeless person clutching
for that last iota of hope.

MOTHER
THE POSTMAN! A letter has come!

She laughs/cries, pulls at Father practically lifting him to his feet

MOTHER
You go! Get the letter. Quickly, dear, quickly!

Unconsciously she pats her hair and smooths her dress. Father
hasn't moved

MOTHER
QUICKLY!

The gate clangs again.

MOTHER
A letter, in the box, just at the porch steps. I know there's a
letter in the box.

She laughs quietly, her hysteria beginning to show. She stands
rigidly, while Father exits slowly. We hear his footsteps on the
porch. They stop then start again, coming towards the front door.
Father enters and approaches her with a letter in his hand. Mother
gasps when she sees it. She reaches for it desperately.

FATHER
Nothing. Just a bill our tax bill. I'm sorry.

Mother starts to tremble

MOTHER
He's dead. He's dead.

She moans, her body racked by sobbing as she slowly sinks to her
knees.

Father kneels and hugs her.

Light go down slowly to half.

As they do, Father guides Mother to the easy chair where she sits like
a statue. Father brings on a sweater and lays it over her
shoulders.


Lights come up but the stage is now filled with shadows. Note: the
fireplace should be dark.

Mother seems to be squinting as if she is in deep thought trying to
puzzle out a mystery.

FATHER
It is cold. Let me light the fire now.

Angrily Mother pulls the sweater away

MOTHER
It is colder for my son.

FATHER
Come to bed. You have been sitting all day.

MOTHER
Sitting? It appears I am immobile. But I am searching.

Her lips make a tight angry line. Father studies her.

FATHER
Searching?

MOTHER
I am searching HELL, for an answer.

FATHER
Mother, please.

MOTHER
Where is the power of love? Of a Mother's sacrifice? Does family
laughter and the millions of sweet and tender sounds of innocent
people leave no imprint in the angel's register while the agonies of
mankind are given full hearing and hurled back to us like spears to
split our hearts into a million pieces? So, yes, it is HELL I search.
I disown Heaven, a heaven so weak it is prey to a filthy dead relic.

Suddenly, she is up with a triumphant cry

MOTHER
HAAA!

She turns to Father

MOTHER
THE PAW. THE MONKEY'S PAW!

FATHER
What, what do you mean?

MOTHER
Heaven may turn from me but Hell will not.
She grabs Father by the arms

MOTHER
Mean? What do I mean? I mean to cast my lot with the devil.

FATHER
Mother! Stop! Stop, NOW! Who are we to question Providence?

MOTHER
I want it, the paw! You've not destroyed it.

FATHER
It's where you placed it. Why?

MOTHER
Why? Are you so blind? Why didn't I think of it before? Why didn't
YOU think of it?

FATHER
Think of what for heaven's sake?

MOTHER
Heaven, ha! The other two wishes. The OTHER TWO WISHES!
We've only had one.

FATHER
No, we've had no wish. Coincidence, mere coincidence.

MOTHER
It moved in your hand. You said it MOVED IN YOUR HAND!
It did your bidding.

FATHER
And if it did, was one wish not enough?

MOTHER
No. We'll have one more. Go and get it. Quickly. And

FATHER
And?

MOTHER
And wish our boy alive again!

[end of extract]



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