Other People's Organs

January 3, 2011
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Carlton: Is a precocious middle school girl. She is very quick witted and tests the boundaries. Her clothes do not display a common fashion thread. She wears skinny jeans and a short flowery dress. She wears flip flops and her hair is in a high pony-tail.

Mom: Carlton’s mother is struggling to keep the secret of her husband’s institutionalization from Carlton. Her other concern is maintaining her image. She wears a pastel, button down, cashmere sweater. Her hair is in a clamp, her pants are conservative khakis and she is wearing heels. She does not change throughout the play.

SET:
The play takes place in the living room of their house. There is a sofa, a coffee table, a lamp and a box (used as a chair etc.) The lighting should be a neutral/ warm wash, unless a spot light is indicated, in which case there should be little to no lighting on all other areas of the stage. The props include an O Magazine and a poster board.





























The Only light that comes up on stage is that of the floor lamp.
Carlton

Dad told me that making friends is like making pasta. You have to throw a lot of soggy noodles against the wall before you find the right texture. And once one sticks, then you have to act really quick to keep it that way. But what if they don’t want to stick back? What if they slide off the wall? You have to do something really crazy to keep your friends from slinking away. Dads taught me that you have to get people’s attention in order to get them to stick to your wall.


(All lights on stage come up- fast. The song “I Wanna Be Bad- Willa Ford” starts playing. Carlton starts air guitaring on the lamp and signing along )

Mom
(Watches for a second until she gets loud)
Carlton! Quite down
Carlton
Never! (keeps singing loudly and badly)
Mom
I’m still the parent and you still need to listen to me
Carlton
Come on. You know the words. (keeps singing)
Mom
Of course I know the words. It doesn’t mean this is the right time.
Carlton
It’s never the right time. (keeps singing)
Mom
(gets up on the table with her)
Carlton this is your last warning
Carlton
Not until you tell me the truth
Mom
I’m going to count to five and then privileges are going to be taken away
Carlton
Ooo privileges (waving her hands in mock fear)
Mom
One
Carlton
Just tell me the truth
Mom
Two
Carlton
At least I got you attention
Mom
Three
(Music stops)
Carlton
You know, you only care when it’s convenient.

Mom
You only try and analyze me when you’re feeling insecure
Carlton
And you say I put up walls
Mom
We’re done with this discussion. Four.
Carlton
Wall
Mom
You can’t play a lamp.
Carlton
Why? Would it blind you? Enlighten you?
Mom
Because its porcelain.
Carlton
Aren’t we all porcelain?
Mom
It’s not what it’s meant for. Plug it in, flick it on-
Carlton
To me, it sounds like a guitar. Music and light, one in the same
Mom
Profound.
Carlton
Uh-huh
Mom
(Flipping through an Oprah magazine on the coffee-table)
According to Oprah, that would make you a type-six personality
Carlton
Don’t categorize me
Mom
Well, according to O magazine, a type six will not have lasting relationships because she’s too impulsive.
Carlton
(Furrows her brows) Tell Oprah to stuff it
Mom
(keeps reading) She will not regret her life, but will probably “job hop”
Carlton
I don’t need my horoscope
Mom
Then drop the lamp
Carlton
(raises her eyebrows and extends both arms in front of her with the lamp)
Mom
(quickly) Set, PLACE the lamp on the ground
Carlton
(Sets down the lamp and picks up the broom) Shelly-
Mom
Try Mom
Carlton
Shelly, what do brooms sound like?
Mom
Brooms sound like your brain splattering against the wall if you call me that one more time.
Carlton
Good parenting
Mom
You want parenting? OK. Talking about souls may be a deep concept to some of your pre pubescent buddies, but here- in this living room we talk about how your day at school was, what you’re going to do to improve your math grade and that you don’t want broccoli for dinner. But instead you want Mac ‘n Cheese. And no you may not have Mac ‘n Cheese. And I don’t care that those Buddhist parents you read about in Mr. Frank’s class throw their kids into the jungle with nothing but a loin cloth and a digging stick and wave their 10 year olds on their merry way. My deepest hope is that they all find their god within soon.
Carlton
It’s called an atman.
Mom
(continuing)
But you need to make friends, Carlton! Talking about what sound a broom makes does not make friends. So, in this house hold, I don’t tell you about souls or how brooms sound. I tell you to brush your hair and get your clothes out of the dryer.
Carlton
Just let it all out
Mom
I know you’re satisfied with my frustration. I get it. Middle School sucks, you need to define yourself, good. Solid. Healthy. But you need to be able to listen Carlton! Form bonds I just don’t want you to make yourself invisible.
Carlton
Just because your husband doesn’t see you doesn’t mean I’m invisible. I am certainly not invisible.
Mom
(firm) Ok, I accept the husband comment. That was supposed to sting. Fine. But I hate to break it to you. Pretending to be a lost soul doesn’t make you invisible. You have two parents, streetlights and a mailbox You do not lead a life of depth and tragedy.
Carlton
(bitter now) Did Oprah tell you that?
Mom
You actually heard that.
Carlton
(Sets down the broom)
Duh
Mom
(runs her fingers through her hair)
Carlton
(disparagingly) I don’t blame him though. I wouldn’t want my wife to have eye bags and saggy boobs.
(Lights down on Mom and Spot on Carlton)
Carlton
(Music is 00:39-1:17 Icky Thump by the White Stripes)
Dad’s eyes were always blood shot and he would come home late on school nights and sometimes he just wouldn’t be done “partying” or that’s what mom called it. But anyway, he would plug the Gibson into the amp by his bed. The second I heard it plug in I’d always here Mom scream, “not right now” “she’s sleeping” “Does ‘school night’ mean nothing to you?!” And he’d just say “Aw, Shel, sit down” And I knew she always listened because he would start playing. So I would get out of bed and open the door. And I would stand up on my bed and rock out. And when it was over he would come to tuck me in in his socks and his eyes all squinty when he saw my light was still on and I’d be standing on the bed holding my bedside lamp in my Christmas pajamas and all he told me was “Keep on practicing that G cord kiddo”
(Lights up on both)
Mom
Ok. I understand that that comment came from a place of anger, and resentment, and insecurity and-
Carlton
But he’s really not with a dirty mistress?
Mom
Language.
Carlton
You swear all the time
Mom
Carlton, we’ve discussed this, your father is in the hospital with kidney failure
Carlton
How come we never visit him?
Mom
Carlton, I’ve told you, he’s in the Intensive Care Unit-
Carlton
(Suddenly pressing her)
How many tubes are hooked up to him?
Mom
I’m not su-
Carlton
5 or maybe twenty like some Sci-Fi movies. Does he have another guy in his room?
Mom
Probably-
Carlton
Or do you even know?
Mom
(Sits cross legged across from Carlton)
He has one tube hooked up to him. And he has another man in his room, but they never talk because of the…uh…curtain. You know the big blue dividers that hang from the ceiling?
Carlton
Nope
Mom
Let’s talk about something else right now, okay? How are the girls at school?
Carlton
Dumb w****s
Mom
Carlton!
Carlton
What? Jessica was talking about how she was wearing this new Victoria’s secret thong and how it was super uncomfortable and she didn’t think I was listening. But I told her, “Well duh it’s uncomfortable when you shove underwear up your butt crack”
Mom
And what’d she say?
Carlton
Maybe Carlton would wear sexy underwear if she ACTUALLY LIKED BOYS!
Mom
Well why don’t we go buy you a thong?
Carlton
No. I need to go buy some new pants.
Mom
Pants?
Carlton
I got up to leave and spilled my cranberry juice. But there was no one else sitting at my table to help me. I had to clean it up with all those stupid girls watching.
Mom
(BEAT raises her eyebrows)
Carlton
Seriously? They had the best seats in the house.
It was CRANBERRY JUICE on WHITE PANTS.
(BEAT)
Mom
Oh…Oh! Damn that sucks
Carlton
B****es
Mom
(sympathetically)
F***ing B****es
Carlton
Maybe tomorrow I’ll sit with the theatre kids...
Mom
You need someone to look out for those nasty cranberry juice spills.
(BEAT)
Carlton
Look
(Pulls out a poster- House cleaning services/ no cash or checks accepted/ Please pay with a Kidney)
Mom
(Reads the poster out loud)
A kidney? Oh right.
Carlton
I plan to use my youthful appeal.
Mom
I thought we were going to go shopping
Carlton
No time. There are organs to harvest!
Mom
I don’t think you understand the situation
Carlton
Sure I do. Dad needs a kidney, we need to get one, let’s rely on people’s good graces. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Isn’t that the general message you try to pound into my thick head every week at church?
Mom
Of course, it’s just not so simple
Carlton
How do you like the sign? Catchy, huh?
Mom
Honey you can’t get kidneys like you get money at a cheerleading carwash.
Carlton
Right. Should I raise my stakes?
Mom
No honey, your stakes are fine. We just need to find a, err, donor who’s a, um, match and that’s tricky is all.
Carlton
Ah.
Mom
Don’t worry.
Carlton
(not at all concerned)
Ok. Hey mom?
Mom
Yeah?
Carlton
I’m sorry I insinuated that your husband left you for a younger mistress. It was wrong.
Mom
Don’t worry honey. I forgive you.
Carlton
Blackout on Mom, Spot on Carlton
(Song: Life in Technicolor- Coldplay)
Dad wasn’t exactly reasonable. But, from what I remember, he was loud, but if you yelled at him he would whisper back. Like once I was making this diorama of Pluto or Mercury, whatever, some planet. And I remember getting super p***ed off and started screaming about hating school, stupid Pluto, because I was trying to punch a billion holes in the black construction paper to be stars and it was taking forever. And dad came down in his bathrobe with his toothbrush in his mouth to see what the problem was. And I screamed right at him- There are just too many damn stars! And instead of yelling at me to “watch your language Carlton”, he took the tooth brush out of his mouth and flicked the white toothpaste all over my solar system. Stuck the toothbrush back in his mouth and said Goodnight Sweetie pie.
(Lights up on both)
Mom
I give you the chance to talk to me and you don’t take it; that is putting up a wall Carlton.
Carlton
Remember how he used to play the guitar? And then when he would turn the radio up really loud and he would pretend all the furniture were different instruments. And that’s what I was trying to remember. I was trying to remember what sound a lamp made.
Mom
I’m serious Carlton (more to herself)
Carlton
Remember those pills he used to take?
Mom
What are you-
Carlton
The ones he said would make him happier
Mom
You mean his vitamins?
Carlton
Call them what you want. He stopped taking them. He stopped taking them a few days before he left.
Mom
Where is this coming from?
Carlton
Or what about that one time he walked up to that homeless guy? And he started playing that guitar with like three and a half strings and dad grabbed a couple sticks and picked up the bass line and it was like boom boom chick-a boom (she starts making a beat on the box on stage)
Mom
Cut it out (exhaustedly)
Carlton
It was amazing and all those people started throwing money in his case and then you made me leave….Why’d we have to go?
(Mom turns to leave, exasperated)
Carlton
(Carlton chases her and blocks her exit, waving her hands and trying to keep her focused)
Hey! Hey Mom! Yeah You, Sheeeelly- Hellooo!
Mom
(Turns)
Because it is illegal to inhabit the streets in downtown Chicago. And the police were coming around that day and collecting and “examining” all the homeless people in the city. (BEAT) The same day your father was pretending to be homeless.
Carlton
You can visit people with kidney problems.
Mom
So-
Carlton
We haven’t visited him in months. And I may not understand Oprah, or why boys like thongs, but I do understand this. Dad does not have kidney failure.
(Pause, mom stares at her. Again with confidence)
I know my dad does not have kidney failure.
(BEAT)
Mom
Carlton, furniture does not make noise and your dad does not need a kidney transplant. He needs a brain transplant. He is a crazy man. He is not crazy like your math teacher. His mind is lost…he drifts is more it, he drifts like a kite that’s lost its string. His head is like an ornament. Can you understand that? Your dad says things he does not mean and he did things for attention. He does things without thinking. Your dad needs help. And while he’s getting help we are not going to ask people for their organs. And we are not going to play the furniture but we are going to brush our hair and button your uniform and be very very polite.
Carlton
Blending in?
Mom
Yes.
Carlton
Dad didn’t
Mom
(pause)
Your father has stood out for all of us for long enough.
Carlton
My friends wouldn’t care.
Mom
Yes they would.
Carlton
How do you know?
Mom
Because I’ve been trying to make friends and it always gets tough when I need to explain where my husband is.
Carlton
So that’s why you don’t wear the leather pants anymore! And that shirt with all the safety pins! Dude!
Mom
Honey, you have no leg to stand on when it comes to wardrobe changes.
Carlton
I have very unique style, thank you
Mom
Last week you were, what did you call it, oh –Goth? And this week I suppose its punk. And the beginning of the year you were going to go out for the cheer squad-
Carlton
(Smiles, like she has just won. Replies, kidding)
So I can stop asking other people for their organs? Because they’re starting to look at me funny-
(Mom laughs and takes her hair out of the clamp and messes it up)
Carlton
(Carlton gets up and turns on the radio.)
Let’s find some nice oldies. We don’t want you to undergo too much shell shock in one day.
(Song: “The Anthem Pt 2” – blink 182)
Mom
You call this an oldie?!
(The stand facing each other for a moment until Carlton hands Mom a piece of furniture. They start head banging, air guitaring and singing along, they fall to the floor laughing and exclaiming)
Carlton
So he’s insane?
Mom
Yeah
Carlton
So now what?
Mom
I don’t know.

Blackout





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