Another jaunt into the 24 hour theater genre
By Elizabeth Puckett
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Inspiration: Rabid bunnies
Characters: John, Vanessa, Sam, Bunny
Setting: A pet store, interior. There is a “cage” upstage center. Black boxes stand around the stage which the actors can use for business: feeding fish, stocking shelves, etc.
In the cage, a bunny stands looking bored. He is watching two humans stock shelves, feed animals, etc. Vanessa is humming quietly to herself.
Bunny: Oh, my god. You two are SO boring! It boggles the mind to think that any animal of even average intelligence could survive around you for very long.
John: Vanessa, can you go grab some crickets? The lizards are about to eat their own tails.
She disappears into the backroom and reemerges with a plastic bag. She hands it to John and, humming, goes back to what she was doing. John stares after her for a moment. Bunny doesn’t notice the look.
Bunny: I mean, seriously. How is a bunny supposed to complete appropriate research? The way you two behave, it’s hard to believe there is anything anybunny could refer to as ‘human sexuality’.
Vanessa: John, how many white mice are we supposed to have on hand?
John: Oh, crap! Did some escape again?
Vanessa: I don’t know ‘til you give me the count, do I?
John: (pulling a list out of his pocket) Umn… Thirteen.
Vanessa: That’s odd.
John: Yes, thirteen IS an odd number.
Vanessa: No. We have fourteen.
John: That is an even number. But very strange.
John goes across to the mouse cage and they stand side by side, counting mice silently.
John: That can’t be right. (They count again, slowly, aloud.)
Bunny: Really, guys, really? (Bunny pulls out a pad of paper and a pencil and begins jotting notes.) Daytime subjects are completely dull and apparently can’t count. There is nothing of interest here.
John: Huh. Weird. I’ll note it on the inventory report.
Bunny: Absolutely nothing.
Vanessa moves to another cage and starts counting. John stares after her again. This time, Bunny catches the look.
Bunny: Wait a second. What is this?
John: Inventory’s almost done.
Vanessa: Thank god. This is the worst part of my week. When I was a kid, I never thought I’d get paid peanuts to count crickets.
John laughs a little too hard at this. He notices Vanessa’s weird look and stops.
John: Umn, yeah. Me either.
Vanessa: Are you okay?
John: Yes. I’m fine. It just struck me as funny. You know. Peanuts. Crickets.
John: I must be getting punchy. End of shift, etc. etc.
Vanessa: You must. Well, it’s almost over.
Vanessa: What’s left?
John: (pulling out the list) Let’s see- food, grooming, habitat. We’ve finished just about everything. We still have pet beds-
Vanessa: Those are quick. I’ll take those.
John: And cat and dog toys.
Vanessa: Oh! I’m sorry. That’s the worst part!
John: It’s okay.
Vanessa: I’d stay and help, but-
John: No, really. It’s okay.
Bunny: And we’re back to boring.
Sam wanders in, wearing a tweed hat and jacket.
John and Vanessa: Welcome to PetsWorld!
Vanessa: What can I help you find?
Bunny: Please say a bunny!
Sam: I’m not sure. I’m looking for something for a friend.
Bunny: Bunnies are perfect for friends!
Vanessa: Feel free to look around and let me know if I can’t help you with anything.
Sam: Thank you.
Sam wanders the store, Vanessa steals glances at him.
Bunny: Please get me away from these boring humans. Your friend wouldn’t happen to be a serial monogamist, would they? Maybe a polygamist? Please say they’re into tawdry sex games with chains and whips! I’m missing huge chunks of research!
Vanessa: Finding anything that interests you?
Sam: Not really. The bunny is really friendly but my friend is allergic.
Sam: I do know something you can help me with, though.
Vanessa: I’m happy to help!
Sam: I’m glad to hear that! Would you give me the pleasure of your company for coffee after you get off work?
Bunny: Oh! Here we go!
Vanessa: With anything except that.
Bunny: Damnit, woman!
Vanessa: I’m sorry. I already have a date after work.
Sam: Well, maybe another time?
Vanessa: I think I’d like that!
Bunny: You strumpet!
Sam: I’m Sam.
Vanessa: I’m Vanessa.
John: (muttering) I’m shocked.
Sam: Maybe next weekend?
Vanessa: Saturday? I’m off at 4:30
Sam: ‘Til then! (Sam exits)
Vanessa and John: Have a great day, and thank you for coming to PetsWorld.
Bunny: (writing in notebook) Note: 4:15 pm. The female subject is apparently a trollop. I approve. The male subject may be a love struck nitwit. I do not approve. Further, closer observation is warranted.
John: That happens to you a lot.
Vanessa: I suppose.
Bunny: Say something, you nitwit.
John: Well, back to work.
Bunny: Anything but that.
Vanessa: What was I doing again? Oh, yes. The dog beds!
Vanessa hurries off into the back room and John stands downstage, organizing and counting pet toys.
John: Pet. Toys.
Bunny: Nit. Wit.
John: (muttering) “That happens to you a lot”. Wow, John. You’re super smooth.
Bunny: (writing in notebook) Based on the behavior of this male subject, it is a wonder the species has managed to propagate at all.
John: Three months. You’ve been working with her for three months. She’s gone out with every tough Tom, slick Dick and handsome Harry that’s come in here.
Bunny: Procreative prowess seems to be based on alliterative or rhyme-able naming conventions. Perhaps my subject cannot get a date because he is just John.
John: And you- you just sit back and watch her wander off with other men. Men who disappear by the next week. Men who can’t see –
Vanessa: (From the back room) Thirty-two!
John: What? You’re done already?
Vanessa: (coming out) Yep.
John: That was quick.
Vanessa: I’ve got places to be and people to see.
Bunny: Or do! You hussy!
John: You didn’t miss any?
Vanessa: No. Of course not.
John: Okay. (Checking his watch) You’ve got ten minutes left on your shift. Mind watching the front for a minute?
Vanessa: That’s fine.
John: Feel free to count the Kong toys while you’re waiting.
John disappears into the back room. Vanessa wanders to the “rack” where John had been working and immediately wanders away again. She pulls out her phone and starts taking selfies.
Bunny: He’s back there counting the beds you know.
Vanessa: Hashtag Lizard Selfie!
Bunny: He thinks you’re unreliable. Because you don’t see what’s right in front of you.
Vanessa: Hashtag parrot selfie!
Bunny: I mean, based on the evidence, he’s sort of right. You’re always chasing something. Like one of those silly damn hamsters on their silly damn wheel.
Vanessa: Hashtag turtle selfie!
Bunny: Plus, you never take pictures with me!
Vanessa: Hashtag me selfie!
Vanessa: John? You okay back there?
John: Yeah. Give me a second!
Bunny: I’m telling you. He’s counting the beds.
Vanessa: Hashtag scary spider selfie!
Bunny: Oh, for hell’s sake, woman. I’m empirically cuter than a spider!
John: (coming out) There are thirty three.
Vanessa: Thirty three beds?
Vanessa: Why did you double check?
John: Because the inventory says thirty three. There was one behind the rack. You missed it.
Vanessa: You could have told me how many were supposed to be there before I went back.
John: No. It skews the results.
Bunny: Why, John! That was almost science!
Vanessa: Whatever. There are only a couple of minutes left on my shift. May I go?
John: Did you count any of the toys?
Vanessa: No. You were too quick.
John: Yeah. Go.
Vanessa: Thanks! See you tomorrow.
Bunny: No! You nitwit! Don’t let her go on a date with someone else!
John returns to counting and sorting toys on the rack downstage. Vanessa heads for the door but stops just short and takes out her phone, looking at it as if she has received a text.
Bunny: (writing) Though this species has, in the past, been incredibly fecund, this researcher is currently seeing little hope for the continuation of their breeding lines. In my observations, the female is oblivious to any but the most obvious of signals. The male is either prone to peacockery and an unreliable mate, or is too reserved and circumspect to attract the attention of the female.
Vanessa: My date just dumped me.
Bunny: Confirmed: The male of the species is unreliable.
John: Well, that’s just dumb.
Vanessa: Yes, it is.
John: Huh? No, I meant the placement of these toys. Whoever stocked this shelf should be fired. Though dumping you is dumb too.
Vanessa: Thanks. I think. Mind if I hang out for a bit? He was supposed to pick me up from here, so now I have to get a ride.
John: Sure, I guess. I get off in about an hour. I can give you a ride home if you’d like.
Vanessa: That’s sweet of you. That would be good, if I’m still here.
Bunny: Good job! Way to hop to the chance, John!
John: What were you supposed to go do?
Vanessa: (texting) I’m not sure. He said it was a surprise.
John: Surprise! He stood you up!
Vanessa: Ha. Ha. Honestly, I am not shocked. He probably told me it was a surprise because he didn’t have anything planned.
John: Well, let me finish this up. Maybe if the evening shift comes in early we can leave.
Throughout the next monologue, Vanessa continues to text, but looks up occasionally and smiles at John. John is feeling good about developments and is working quickly, though he stops occasionally and looks at Vanessa as if checking to see that she is still there.
Bunny: Now, we watch. (Takes out his notepad) Observation is the key to good science. Here we have the male and the female beginning to make a connection. Though they have shared the same work burrow for several months, the female has been continually distracted by the attentions of the showier members of the stock. The unobtrusive male, having sensed an opening due to the unwarranted cruelty of the female’s former mate, has finally taken some initial steps in the courting ritual. Though they are not openly communicating, visual signals seem to indicate that the interest is mutual. According to previous observation, the next steps would be actual eye contact, followed most often by blushing on the part of both parties, and perhaps an offer of dinner on the way home.
Sam comes back into the store and smiles broadly when he sees Vanessa
Bunny: Or- that could happen.
Sam: Vanessa! I was hoping you’d still be here. I forgot to get your number.
John: Oh, good.
Vanessa: My date for tonight actually just cancelled on me.
John: You’ve got to be kidding me!
Vanessa: Did you say something, John?
John: Oh, sorry. Just the placement of another bunch of toys. Pay me no mind.
Sam: So you’re free?
Vanessa: I am!
Bunny: Normally, I would not stoop to intervening (begins hopping and waving arms) but my observations were valid, damnit! John! Don’t let her leave!
John: You two have fun.
Bunny: John! Really! Stand up for yourself!
Sam: Is that bunny alright?
Vanessa: He’s fine, I’m sure.
John: Probably just hungry. I’ll go grab some rabbit food.
John quickly goes to the back room while Sam and Vanessa exchange numbers. When he returns, he tries to drop some food in the cage, but Bunny bites him.
John: Ow! What the hell?
Vanessa: Are you alright?
John: No! The bunny bit me!
Sam: Is the bunny rabid?
Vanessa and John: It is against PetsWorld’s policy to sell animals for pets which have not been checked over by a veterinarian.
Sam: Wow. Okay.
Vanessa: Sam, I think I should help John with this. Can we plan for next Saturday?
Sam: Sure. Text me later?
Sam exits. Bunny, having settled back down, pulls back out his notepad and pen. John and Vanessa sit on a bench near the door, where Vanessa checks out the bite on John’s hand.
Vanessa: I think you’ll be okay. The skin only broke a little.
John: Thank you. Dumb bunny.
Bunny: No. Actually, I’m a very smart bunny.
Vanessa: Are you okay? It seems like there’s more wrong than the bunny bite.
John: I’m fine. I just-
Vanessa: Just what?
Bunny: Oh, for god’s sake, tell her!
John: Listen, Vanessa. We’ve worked together for three months. I think you’re pretty amazing. I think we get along well. I think-
Bunny: And thus the male begins to show his plumage. Though in this case, it is somewhat apologetically.
Vanessa: Finish your thought, please.
John: I think I like you and you’re sort of a dumb bunny for dating all these men who don’t appreciate you.
Bunny: Though I don’t appreciate the allusion to any member of my species as anything other than brilliant, I have to say- way to go, John!
Vanessa: I thought you hated me! You’re always double checking my work.
John: It’s my job to check your work. I’m the supervisor. I’m always double checking everybody’s work. You just see me double checking your work because we’re on the same shift.
Bunny: The use of repetitive vocal patterns must be meaningful to the mating ritual.
Vanessa: I think I like you, too.
Bunny: There it is again. I really must look into that.
Vanessa leans over and kisses John.