Twenty Second Birthday

By CRAIG J. CLARK


A young man, name of RODERICK, is asleep in bed. His bedroom is very spare, not much character to it. Beside the bed is a table with an alarm clock on it. The door to the bedroom opens and in shuffle a man in a SUIT, around 50; a slightly younger, 40-ish WOMAN in a frock, holding a cake with lit candles on it; a 16-year-old BOY and a 10-year-old girl, both holding presents. They wait a second and then a loud bell is rung. RODERICK is instantly jolted awake and sits up.

SUIT - Good morning, Roderick Percival Gribble, and happy twenty-second birthday.

RODERICK looks bewildered -- heís still in a fog. He looks at the clock beside his bed. Meanwhile, the SUIT takes out a stopwatch, plays a note on a pitch-pipe, and the family starts to sing.

FAMILY - "Happy twenty-second birthday to you. Happy twenty-second birthday to you."

Suddenly RODERICK realizes what is going on.

FAMILY - "Happy twenty-second birthday dear--"
RODERICK (frantic) - No, wait. Thereís no time for that. Just give me my cake and presents, please.

The family has stopped singing and they all look to the SUIT.

SUIT - Cake and presents? Why, certainly.

He motions to the others who step forward to hand over the goodies as RODERICK reaches out for them. Just then, the bell is rung again and the WOMAN, BOY and GIRL quickly file out, taking the cake and presents with them, leaving the SUIT behind with RODERICK.

SUIT (putting stopwatch away) - Oh, Iím sorry, Roderick Percival Gribble, but we appear to have run out of time for your birthday. Better luck next time.

He starts to go but stops at the door.

SUIT - If you have any complaints about the handling of your twenty-second birthday, you may address them to the State through the usual channels. Thank you very much.

He closes the door and is gone. RODERICK is still frozen with his hands reaching out, a look of expectation plastered on his face. His face and arms drop and he just sits there, depressed. After a few seconds, he hears -- in an adjoining room -- pretty much the same thing being done to someone else. A bell is rung and the SUIT starts with a greeting.

SUIT - Good morning, Charles Hubert Ignatowitz, and happy twenty-second birthday.

Sighing, RODERICK lies back down and closes his eyes. A pitch-pipe is heard. Blackout.

This, like "Right Now" and "Dreaming in German," was also submitted for the Brick's Night of 1000 Plays. Unlike "Right Now" and "Dreaming in German," however, this one actually made the cut. This was good because, out of all the one-minute plays I submitted, this one was my favorite. It's a shame the audiences never quite got it, though.


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P.S. All materials on this page are copyright 1998 by Craig J. Clark, in case you didn't know.