A ten minute play
Originally produced by "Eight 10's at Eight" in Santa Cruz, Calif
Beezie, a woman in her sixties who has lived most of her life in an iron lung
Present day. A small, almost bare living room.
A single chair sits empty next to an iron lung occupied by a woman who looks to be in her sixties. A mirror placed over her head allows the audience to see her face. She and the machine are in the spotlight. On the side of the iron lung it reads, "GLORY". At the back of the stage is an old wood-framed screen door. Through the screen we can see tree branches, leaves blowing in the breeze.
On a tall stool next to the iron lung sits a stack of National Geographic magazines, their yellow covers highlighted by the spotlight.
A large clock on the wall is visible to all. It reads 2:50.
A loud gun shot rings out. Beezie flinches then looks at the audience
Beezie: There used to be a lot of us, back in the 50's. We were parent's nightmares come to life.
(She chuckles, almost a cackle)
Beezie: There's power in that. Being the living, almost breathing, scariest thing in the world. The Brothers Grimm had nothing on me. Amateurs!
(She can only speak on the exhale, so there are pauses. A rhythm, a pattern, begins to present itself)
Beezie: Halloween was always somethin', parents bringing their kids to see the poor polio girl, using me as a lesson in how to be kind to the less fortunate. (Again, she smirks, and her tone is filled with sarcasm)
Beezie: But sure as shit, once the poor little buggers had their fists filled with candy their mothers or fathers would start in on those frightened little cowboys and pirates;
"This is why we don't let you swim in the pond. This is why we tell you you can't eat ice cream"
Beezie: Oh for fuck sake. Ice cream. That was one of the more hair brained ideas someone had. More kids contracted polio in the summer and more ice cream is eaten in the summer so, Voila! Ice Cream=Polio!
(A pause. All we can hear is the machine pressing oxygen into Beezie's lungs)
Beezie: I do not dream of running. People always ask me that. Or used to, when I had more people. I think it made them feel better to imagine me free of this machine and feeling the wind in my hair, the grass brushing against my strong, tan, calves.
Blah, blah, blah. On occasion I have lied about it. Seems to give them some kind of relief. And I do aim to please. I'm glad I don't have those dreams. I'm glad I can't imagine running. I don't want to wake up feeling trapped, which I have to believe I would if I spent the night feeling free.
(Pause, machine noises)
Beezie: I have had sex dreams. I mean who hasn't? I can't move but I'm not dead. And I've seen porn. One of my caregivers used to rent videos and we watched them together. I swear sometimes I thought his head was gonna pop clean off. And we experimented. You see those round openings in the side of my lung? Well, they lead to… me.
Beezie: He'd get here and light a big old doobie and set up the VCR and away we'd go. Poor man. Trying to "please me" even though I couldn't tell you if he was tickling my toes or tickling my fancy. I faked it. What would you do? My mother always taught me to be polite. Can you imagine being in such a position? Trying to shore up a man's ego when he has failed to pleasure you? But that was years ago. I don't know what ever happened to him. Now I have Boo.
(A slight pause again, machine noises fill the silence)
Beezie: Oh his real name isn't Boo, its Calvin. But Boo is what I call him. Reminds me of Boo Radley in Mockingbird. Quiet type, never goes out. Was an engineer with NASA for Christ sake. All brains but no social skills. Lives just next door. Keeps this boat afloat. Comes by every day after he has had his lunch and a short nap. I believe I am his only friend. You may think my world is small, but his is smaller. A depressive, is what I would say he is. I worry about him.
(Pause again, machine noises)
Beezie: The things I would do if I were in his shoes. And could walk, obviously. But that's not gonna happen. In my imagination, I explore the world. I am in lust with Anthony Bourdain. The traveling! The food! The drinking! And he is easy to look at. That man wears his jeans. His jeans don't wear him!
(Beezie looks at the clock on the wall)
Beezie: Boo retired a few years ago. That's when I met him. He moved up here to this tiny burg to find some solitude. He'd been under a lot of stress. I tried to tell him that solitude isn't all it's cracked up to be.I am his project. He keeps the lung tuned up, so to speak. Not too many folks know how to fix her when she gets crotchety. No one around here does, except Boo. He brings in Thai food and we watch Bourdain and I wish I could be out there and Boo is thrilled he isn't. We complement each other. I like to think I broaden his world.
(Pause again, now we hear the clock ticking)
Beezie: I placed an ad in the newspaper. Remember ads in newspapers? I said "independent woman looking for a man who is good with his hands." I figured the interviews would be entertaining. They were. Oh I wish I'd had a camera when they walked in the house and saw me in my Glory. But then there was Boo. Didn't seem the least bit surprised to see nothing but a head sticking out of a large cylinder. He just removed his hat, sat down in the chair opposite my head, introduced himself and asked me how he could be of assistance.
(Pause, while Beezie looks at the clock and listens to outside noises. Branches brushing against the screen. It is 3 pm exactly)
Beezie: He has been coming here every day ever since. Eleven years now. In those eleven years my world has grown while his has gotten smaller and smaller. I have the internet! I read blogs! I can't believe what some people write about! Fascinating, human beings are, (she says while shaking her head). TED Talks! Although some of those speakers are a bit to smug for my taste. Did you see the one about black holes? Watching that one was Boo's idea. Boy, it kept me awake, I'll tell you. He seemed pretty agitated by it too. Ask me, I think that is what has scared Boo. Being so close to actually understanding space and what is out there. I think that's what sent him up here to hide out. Like an astroid could never find him if he stayed here in this small town under his small roof.
(Pause, breathing sounds)
Beezie: I can't even get Boo to buy a computer. He claims that once he walked away from technology he wanted nothing more to do with it ever again. But he does watch my Netflix and we have been known to finish off a bottle of Napa white doing so. He does everything for me. All the personal, intimate things and shows me nothing but respect and kindness. My favorite thing is when he scratches my head. Who doesn't love to have perfectly trimmed nails raked over their scalp? I can't imagine sex feels any better than that. It has caused me to moan out loud! Boo tells me I give his life purpose. Isn't that just something? I don't know what will become of him after I'm gone. I worry.
(Pause, now a siren is heard outside. It stops somewhere close. Beezie listens)
Beezie: Course if anything ever happens to him I'd be in quite a pickle.
He could be the last man on the planet who knows how to keep this thing pumping. You know that song, "Take My Breath Away"?, well, there you go.
(She is quiet now, listening. There are voices outside but she can't make out what they are saying. She hears what she assumes are ambulance doors as they are shut. She is fully aware that there is no siren as the vehicle pulls away. She turns her head to look directly at the audience. She is without expression. The machine pumps)
Beezie: Boo will be here any minute. You'll like him.