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MAN, a dark-haired middle-aged man, wearing a coat for most of the play.
WIFE, the MAN’s wife, also middle-aged and has brunette hair
POLICEMAN, a young policeman working the night shift
RECEPTIONIST, a young woman with blonde hair. She wears a casual white dress.
It is just past sunset and the stage is dimly lit.
Scene takes place on a street lined with trees in the
middle of nowhere. It is snowing lightly. The
MAN’s car ran into one of the trees, and is
resting to the left of the stage. MAN climbs
out of the driver’s seat, disoriented.
S***. (pause while he looks at his car) Now I’ll be late for sure. (begins to pace around the car) Well, the damage doesn’t seem to be too bad. But it will take a while to get home... (takes out his cellphone and it rings a few times before it is picked up)
Hello? Who is it?
Susan! Susan, it’s me. I’m gonna be a little late getting home, I—
Is anyone there? Hello?
Yes, yes! Susan! It’s Mark!
This better not be a prank, I’m really not in the mood.
This isn’t a joke! Susan! I’ve been in an accident and I—
Go bother somebody else; I have a dinner to cook for my family. (hangs up)
Feh, the reception here is terrible. How could she not hear me? (looks up and down the street) And there’s no one in sight. (sighs) Just perfect.
Suddenly, a bright light is visible offstage to the right.
Wha—? Maybe there’s someone over there that can help me... (before exiting stage right, MAN begins to limp)
END SCENE ONE
MAN enters stage right. He is still limping a bit.
There is a building in front of him (stage left).
On the building is a sign that says “Heavenly Hotel”.
There is a payphone in front of the hotel.
Oh thank God. (hobbles up to the payphone) I can call for help now. (dials a number, but receives no dial tone) F***, is this phone busted too? (he pulls out his cellphone again) Ugh, this piece of junk says I have perfect service. I guess I’ll try it again. (he dials the police)
POLICEMAN picks up the phone.
Hello, Teufore Police. What is your emergency?
Yes, hello. I’ve been in an accident and I need to be towed. My leg is also—
Is anybody there? Hello?
(obviously angry) Are you kidding me?! Yes, I’m here! Listen to me! Please! I need help, I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere and I—
(talking to somebody in the police station) Yeah, you’re right. It’s probably just another drunk.
(practically screaming) I am not drunk! I’m in trouble! My leg, the pain is spreading to the rest of my body...
The POLICEMAN hangs up the phone.
The MAN sinks down to his knees and cradles his aching legs.
He lets out a small sob before using the payphone
as a crutch to lift himself off the ground.
He turns to the hotel door and walks in.
END SCENE TWO
MAN enters stage left and surveys his surroundings.
There is a desk between center and right stage,
facing diagonally towards the audience.
RECEPTIONIST sits at the desk, sifting through piles
of papers, looking worried. Two potted
plants are on each side of the desk.
The room is dimly lit, with the only light on
being a warm glowing lamp on the desk.
(looks up from papers with a sigh of relief) Ah, good, you must be Mark Mitzler. We’ve been expecting you. I’m surprised you arrived so late. Did you run into some trouble on the way here?
(walking towards the desk, baffled) Excuse me? You’ve been expecting me? What the hell does that mean? How do you even know me? I just need a phone that works so I can call my wife and get some help.
Oh, that won’t be necessary. You’ll be staying with us for a while. Now if you’ll just sign in, (she shows him a small light blue book) we can—
(sternly) No. I won’t be staying with you for a while. It’s Christmas Eve and I need to get home before I miss dinner. And you didn’t answer my question. How the f*** do you know me?
Please watch your language, sir. And I’m terribly sorry, but you cannot return home. I don’t think you understand what’s happening. You see—
Not understand what’s happening? Oh, I can see what’s happening! You’re not letting me leave, is that it? Well, that’s a pretty cheap way to get customers.
(insulted) Customers? (about to yell, but takes a deep breath to calm down) No, I mean that you cannot go back because—
Because you’re keeping me here against my will? I’d like to see you try!
MAN hobbles quickly towards the door and yanks at it,
but the door refuses to budge. Eventually, MAN falls
to the floor when his grip slip off the handle.
(watches MAN with an unamused look) If you’re done interrupting me once again, I would love to explain what’s going on.
(rushes over angrily, slamming his palms on the desk once ) I’m listening.
Fine. I’ll be blunt. The truth is you can’t leave because you’re in limbo right now. This isn’t really a hotel; this is indeed where souls go before they are sent to heaven or hell.
(laughts awkwardly) Ha, good one. Now seriously, why can’t I leave?
The RECEPTIONIST shows him the light blue
book again. It says “Heaven” on the front.
You can leave once you sign in.
And by leave, you mean I can go back to my family?
(shaking head) No. You will be going to heaven. Unless... (pulls out red book labeled “Hell”) Well, unless you want to go to hell instead.
Whoa, whoa, wait. Limbo? The hell does that mean? Is that why no one hears me when I call them?
Call them? You tried calling people? Mr. Mitzler, that’s a risky act to do in limbo. The living don’t respond well to messages from the dead. Of course you’ve heard of ghost stories...
Messages from the dead? What do you mean? Those messages were from me!
(Pause) I’m very sorry, but I thought you knew. (she looks at the papers on the desk) Says here you were in a pretty bad car wreck.
Wh—what are you trying to say?
I won’t sugar coat it anymore, Mr Mitzler, but you passed away in that car wreck.
(becoming hysterical) No. No! It wasn’t even that bad of a wreck, I— I’m fine. (yelling) I WAS FINE! I walked away from my car, walked away from the wreck too! I need to get home! I need to see Susan, and my children! (runs to the door, yanking on the handle) No, no. LET ME OUT! (continues to babble as he slips to the floor, crying) There must be a mistake...
We don’t make mistakes, Mr. Mitzler. Now please just sign in and you can leave.
No! I don’t want to leave! If I’m really dead then—then why am I in so much pain? My leg, I can barely even walk on it anymore. And my arms are growing numb. If I’m really dead, then why am I feeling this way? The dead can’t die again so why—
Even though it’s true you can’t die again, you are feeling pain because your soul is falling apart. In limbo, there is no satisfaction or purpose. Unlike heaven or hell, limbo isn’t meant to be inhabited, so the soul withers away until there is nothing left. Now please, sir, you have to go...(her voice trails away)
Will my wife know what’s happened?
Of course. The police will arrive at the scene soon, and she will be notified, I’m sure.
I don’t have much of a choice, either, do I?
I’m afraid not, sir.
The MAN reaches for the book and opens it up slowly.
He turns a few pages and sees the blank where his name should go.
He pauses a moment before writing.
(bluntly) My mother’s and father’s names are in this book.
Of course. They’re both waiting for you. They have been for quite some time now. It’s been about—
Twelve years, I know. (he smiles sadly and writes his name down)
(smiles softly) It’ll all be okay.
Once again, a light offstage to the right shines brightly
The MAN looks at the RECEPTIONIST for reassurance
and she motions him towards the light.
As he leaves the stage, RECEPTIONIST waves to him.
The lights dim and the curtain falls.
END SCENE THREE