When You Have No Class by William Griggs


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


ACT I

      Time: Monday, 9:30 a.m.

      Scene:

      The entire action of the play takes place in the faculty lounge of
      Campbell Regional High School, which serves students from both a poor
      rural section and a small urban section of Burlington County New
      Jersey. Two small conference tables split down stage center. They are
      cluttered with papers and folders. Three chairs sit behind each table.
      An entrance door leading to the lounge is down right. A small,
      outdated copy machine sits on a table upstage center. The stage right
      wall features a banner that reads: “KNOW YOUR NUMBERS.” Below the
      sign is a table holding yet more forms, and memos. A microwave oven
      and an empty coffee machine sit on a table up right.  A small
      refrigerator and a plastic container marked “ART SUPPLIES” sit on
      a table up left. A door leading to the only restroom in the lounge is
      up center and a sign taped to it reads: “PLEASE! KNOCK BEFORE
      ENTERING.” An intercom speaker hangs above the door to the restroom.
      A rather large open window is on the up left wall. Another table at
      left is cluttered with yet more paper and two computer monitors with
      signs saying “OUT OF ORDER” and “CALL SERVICE: 1-800- NO WORKY.
      All of the walls are plastered with outdated memos and announcements.

      At Rise:

      U.S. History teacher BEN STEINMETZ, early fifties, places the master
      to his “Original Colonies” test on the copier’s glass, closes
      the lid and presses the start button. Nothing happens. He presses
      start again, nothing. He pulls out the paper tray, checks it, pushes
      it back in, presses start. Nothing. He kneels, pulls the copier’s
      plug from the wall socket, replaces the plug, stands and presses start
      again. Nothing. He shakes his head, puts his hands in his pockets,
      turns his back to the machine and walks away calmly. Now at center, he
      turns, faces the machine and charges it.

      BEN
      (Pounding on the Start button of the copier)

      YOU MOTHER, SON-OF-A-LOUSY PIECE OF CRAP…

      (Walking away from the machine, catching his breath)

      Three years…Just keep telling yourself…Three years and you’re
      out of this dump they call a high school.

      ENTER, through door, English teacher LARRY MCCORMICK, early fifties,
      carrying a cooler and two large shopping bags filled with groceries.


      LARRY
      (Placing bags and cooler on left conference table)

      Hey, Benny, how’s it shakin’?… Where were you Saturday?

      BEN
      (Starting to pay attention)

      Saturday?

      LARRY
      What happened? You haven’t missed a tee time since your last
      divorce?

      BEN
      Oh?….Er…I lost my clubs.

      LARRY
      How the hell did you lose your clubs? They’ve been in the trunk of
      your car since Ronald Reagan was president.

      BEN
      (Taking a seat at the conference table)

      Well, technically, they’re not lost. They’re in the river behind
      my townhouse. I shot a lousy game last week, so I went home and tossed
      them in the river.

      LARRY
      Are you nuts? A fifteen-hundred-dollar set of clubs, and you threw
      them in the river?

      BEN
      (Standing, begins to pace and then stare into space)

      What’s the point, Larry? What’s the point of playing golf every
      week when you know you’re never going to play like Tiger Woods?
      After eighteen holes of pure torture, you know what you’re gonna’
      do? You’re gonna’ go home to your empty three-bedroom townhouse,
      turn on the TV and watch Tiger Woods play like Tiger Woods, that’s
      what you do. And after Tiger reminds you that you play golf like a
      girl scout, you swallow as many pills as it takes to sleep until
      Monday morning, just in time to go to work so you can make enough
      money to pay for the pills and the mortgage on the empty house. So,
      what’s the point, Larry? What’s the point?

      LARRY
      (Perplexed)

      What point? I actually forgot what we were talking about. Are you
      okay?

      BEN
      Oh, I’m just fine…. If people ask, just tell them I lost my clubs,
      all right?


      LARRY
      (Remembering the conversation)

      Oh, right. The clubs. The clubs.

      BEN
      (Noticing the shopping bags)

      What’s all this? Are we having a picnic?

      LARRY
      (Removing several items from one of the bags)

      I quit smoking today.

      BEN
      (Searching through the other bag)

      Except for feminine napkins, you’ve got the entire third aisle of
      Shop Rite in this bag. Is this how Martha Stewart quit smoking?

      LARRY
      (Still removing items)

      Whenever I try to quit, instead of smoking I eat.

      BEN
      (Examining the items as they come out of the bags)

      Yeah, but you always go back to smoking.

      LARRY
      Because I always run out of food. (Pointing to the bags, cooler and
      food) That won’t happen this time. Do me a favor and put the
      mayonnaise, the diet soda and the ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not
      Butter’ in the fridge.

      BEN
      (Picking up the mayonnaise, the diet soda and the ‘I Can’t Believe
      It’s Not Butter’)

      I can’t believe they let you out of the house every morning. (He
      walks to the fridge and begins placing the groceries in it.)

      LARRY
      You may think I’m crazy, but my doctor says that by quitting today,
      I’ll add twenty years to my life. Besides, smoking costs me more
      than ten dollars a day.

      BEN
      (Back at table)

      You’re right. It makes perfect sense.

      LARRY
      Damn right it does.

      BEN
      Yessiree. You’re a bright guy, Larry. You’re replacing a
      ten-dollar-a-day habit with one that costs fifty dollars and’ll give
      you a heart attack by Thursday….(HE takes a seat at the table and
      looks at his watch) I hate this new schedule.

      LARRY
      (Opening a bag of pretzels)

      What’s not to like? Instead of six classes a day, we have three. And
      how can you not like a ninety-minute free period and a forty-minute
      lunch? (HE starts eating a pretzel.)

      BEN
      (HE stands and starts pacing again)

      Because it’s just not right, that’s why. And because that moron
      Bettis, that creep of a new principal, started this ninety-minute
      crap.

      LARRY
      (Alarmed, looking in all directions as if someone might be listening)

      For Christ sakes keep it down, will ‘ya? (Pointing to intercom
      speaker, whispering) You know he likes to listen in on things up
      here.

      BEN
      (To Intercom)

      I hope you’re taking notes you crazy son of a bitch! It’s me, Ben
      Stein-METZ, not Stein-FELD! (To LARRY) You know, he’s sent me twelve
      memos since he’s been here. Twelve memos in two weeks, and he
      hasn’t got my name right once. (Turning again to the intercom) You
      god damn nazi!

      LARRY
      (Standing, grabbing BEN by the arm and placing him in a chair)

      All right, all right….just calm down, will ya? Before we both get in
      trouble just calm down…(Reaching for pretzels) Here. Have a pretzel.
      You want a pretzel? Or how about some cheese curls?

      BEN
      No. I don’t want to eat. Keep your pretzels, your cheese curls and
      your Baby Ruth bars to yourself. I’ll gain enough weight watching
      you eat.

      LARRY
      Hey! Don’t take whatever’s bothering you out on me…(He unwraps a
      Baby Ruth bar and takes a bite)…Anyway, what did you do to make
      Bettis send you twelve memos?

      BEN
      Forms. I’m not sending the thirty-two daily forms he wants to his
      office. And the forms I do send aren’t filled out right. Forms and
      memos. That’s all he cares about. He’s got the personality of a
      paper clip.

      LARRY
      That reminds me. (Standing, walking right to the table of forms) I
      need some late forms. (Searching the table) Hey, what’s the number
      on the late forms?

      BEN
      Eighty-three-fourteen. They used to be difficult to find because the
      first two words in capital letters said ‘LATE FORM.’ Welcome to
      the world of Bettis: there are no words, just numbers.

      LARRY
      (Finding only one eighty-three-fourteen)

      Ah Jeez! There’s only one left. (Walking to copier) I guess I’ll
      have to make copies. (He walks to the copy machine)

      BEN
      Have fun.

      LARRY
      (Retrieving BEN’s master from the copier’s glass)

      Is this your Original Colonies test?

      BEN
      That would be mine, yes.

      LARRY
      (Walking to Ben’s side and placing the test on the table)

      I’m always picking up after you. I have an entire folder filled with
      your tests in my desk. Did you know that?

      BEN
      You’re starting to sound like my ex-wife.

      LARRY
      Which one?

      BEN
      The schizophrenic.


      LARRY
      (Placing the eighty-three-fourteen on the copier’s glass)

      Hee, hee…That one was a real piece of work. (He presses the start
      button and nothing happens) Hey, what’s with this copier? (He pulls
      out the paper tray and pushes it back in. He presses start again to no
      avail. To BEN) Can you help me with this? You’re good at these
      things.

      BEN
      (Looking straight ahead)

      Pull the plug.

      LARRY
      But if I pull the—

      BEN
      Just pull the plug.

      (LARRY stoops and pulls the plug. HE stands up, puts his hands on his
      hips)

      LARRY
      There. I pulled the plug.

      (BEN, in deliberate fashion, stands, turns, walks to the copier, picks
      it up in his hands, gives LARRY a look, walks to the open window, and
      heaves the copier. LARRY, who has followed him to the window, brushes
      him aside, looks out the window. A crashing sound is heard. LARRY
      turns back from the window and gives BEN a serious look.)

      LARRY
      (Walking swiftly back to left table, taking another bite out of the
      Baby Ruth bar)

      And I had to pick today to quit smoking.

      BEN
      (Examining his hands)

      I’ve got to wash my hands. (He walks to the bathroom door)

      LARRY
      Do us all a favor, Chief Bromden, and leave the sink attached to the
      wall.

      (Pops the remainder of the candy bar in his mouth and chews
      nervously)


      BEN
      (Waving LARRY’s comment asside)

      Ahhh…

      (BEN opens the bathroom door without knocking. A WOMAN screams. HE
      slams the door shut.)

      WOMAN
      (OFF)

      Can’t you read!?

      LARRY
      (Matter-of-factly)

      Who was it this time?

      (Sound of toilet flushing)

      BEN
      Carol.

      LARRY
      Oh, boy! You should have knocked.

      BEN
      It’s not like I saw anything. What’s the big deal?

      (ENTER, from bathroom, CAROL VANHOLT, a shapely 38-year-old history
      teacher who hides her beauty with an ankle-length skirt and a fully
      buttoned blouse. She wears “cat’s-eye” rimmed glasses and her
      hair is tied tightly in a bun.)

      CAROL
      Really, Mr. Steinmetz, where are your manners?

      BEN
      I left them in my car…I’m sorry, Carol. I should have knocked.

      CAROL
      (Pointing to sign on bathroom door)

      You should have read. (Walking to right table) Signs are placed for
      reasons, you know. (She takes a seat at the table)

      (BEN EXITS to bathroom. CAROL begins to massage her neck)

      LARRY
      (HE unwraps an Italian hoagie and is about to take a bite when he
      notices that CAROL is in pain.)

      Are you all right, Carol?

      CAROL
      He scared me to death. I think I suffered a whiplash.


      LARRY
      Can I get you something?

      CAROL
      Do you have a tylenol or, perhaps, a muscle relaxer.

      LARRY
      Sorry, no pills. (Offering her his hoagie) How about an Italian
      hoagie? I’ve got one with extra oil and one with mayonnaise.

      CAROL
      I take it you quit smoking again.

      LARRY
      You don’t miss a trick, do you Carol? You know, you were the
      brightest student I ever had. (Whispering) And the smartest teacher
      here, I might add. (He takes a large bite from the hoagie)

      CAROL
      Thank you, Mr. McCormick. That’s quite kind of you. (She stands and
      takes a few steps toward bathroom) I’m worried about him.

      LARRY
      (His mouth is full)

      Bahh?

      CAROL
      I’m afraid he’s losing his mind.

      LARRY
      (His mouth is still full. Waving off CAROL’S concern.)

      Ah, hi mof hif mah yif ahmo.

      (Somehow, CAROL understands that LARRY just said, “Ah, he lost his
      mind years ago.”)

      CAROL
      Of course. Everybody thinks he’s been crazy since birth. But
      lately—

      (CAROL stops talking when BEN exits the bathroom. THEY stare at each
      other.)

      BEN
      What?

      CAROL
      Oh, nothing. Nothing. (She turns and walks back to center right table.
      Massaging her neck, she takes a seat and begins grading papers.)


      BEN
      (To LARRY)

      What’s wrong with her?

      LARRY
      (He has finally swallowed)

      She pulled a muscle in her neck when you barged in.

      BEN
      Ah Jeez! (He takes a few steps toward CAROL) Are you okay Carol?

      CAROL
      (Turning toward BEN, she feels a sharp pain in her neck.)

      Ow!

      BEN
      (Moving quickly to her side)

      Damn! I’m sorry Carol. Here, let me massage it for you. My ex-wife
      said I gave great massages.

      LARRY
      Which one?

      BEN
      The older twin…(HE begins to massage HER neck. CAROL takes pleasure
      in the massage, but only briefly, then SHE removes HIS hands.)
      What’s the problem? Did I hurt you?

      CAROL
      No…I just think that it isn’t proper for you to be touching me in
      that manner.

      BEN
      What manner? Jesus, Carol, I didn’t mean anything by it. I felt bad
      about your neck, that’s all.

      CAROL
      Well, Mr.—

      BEN
      (Raising his voice)

      It’s Ben. When are you going to stop calling me by my last name? I
      stopped being your teacher twenty years ago, and you’ve been
      teaching with me for fifteen years.

      LARRY
      Oh, boy. Here we go again.


      CAROL
      (Raising her voice.)

      What is so wrong with showing my colleagues the respect they deserve?

      BEN
      Stop it with the ‘colleague’ nonsense! In case you haven’t
      noticed, the walls of this dump aren’t covered in ivy. Plenty of
      bird crap, but no ivy!

      LARRY
      Settle down, both of you!

      CAROL
      Why must you constantly criticize the language I use and the manner in
      which I choose to communicate?

      BEN
      What happened to you Carol? Twenty years ago you were this bright,
      vivacious hippie cheerleader. Four years at Dartmouth and you come
      back looking and sounding like William F. Buckley.

      LARRY
      All right, that’s enough, Ben. You’re way out of line. Why don’t
      you go for a walk and calm down. Or how about some M&Ms? (Searching
      through bag.) I’ve got plain and peanut.

      BEN
      Offer me food one more time and I’ll shove a bag of peanuts up your
      nose.

      LARRY
      (Retrieving two bags of peanuts from bag)

      Shelled or unshelled?

      (ENTER mathematics teacher SIDNEY BAUMGARTNER. HE is in obvious pain,
      groaning and holding HIS stomach.)

      SIDNEY
      I think I just crapped a frying pan!

      BEN, LARRY & CAROL
      Ah, Jeez! Can’t you see I’m eating here? You are disgusting!

      SIDNEY
      I couldn’t even make it up here. I had to use the boys’ room down
      stairs, the one with the open stalls. Talk about embarrassing…Oh,
      God, I think I have to go again.

      BEN
      (Returning to center left table.)

      Good. Larry could use a crock-pot.

 

[end of extract]



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