Ladder


There is a local theater that holds a yearly event where they present multiple plays. At the last minute, I decided to send in something.  I had a premise for an idea which started off really good, but then fell flat.  I waited until the last minute to write it and panicked. It was not accepted for the performance and I do not blame them one bit. It's flat and stereotypical.  

So, instead of letting it fester, I thought I would at least share it with you.

LADDER

At RISE:                                                        
(Lights up on a REAL ESTATE AGENT, WIFE and HUSBAND walking entering the stage. There is an A-Frame ladder center stage in the dark.)


REAL ESTATE AGENT
Well, this is the last place on my list for us to look at. They taught us not to say this in Realtor school, but if you don’t like this one, I think you’re going to have to find yourself another agent.

HUSBAND
We’re very picky.

WIFE
I’m sorry. It’s just that we are looking for the perfect home that is within our budget…

REAL ESTATE AGENT
Of 150 dollars.

HUSBAND
$150 and 50 cents, yes.

WIFE
We just want to find the perfect house for us.

REAL ESTATE AGENT
Well, here it is.

(SPOT LIGHT on an A-frame Ladder.)


WIFE
This?

REAL ESTATE AGENT
Yep. This is a 1994 Wilson’s Ladder Company, A-frame ladder. Built from oak and metal reinforcement in Hughuaha China. It’s 8’ tall when extended. Entered the United States in California. It’s had two previous owners. It could use some paint to cover up the paint splotches all over it. At $145, it comes in under your budget.

WIFE
This is…

HUSBAND
This is…

WIFE
This is…

HUSBAND
This is PERFECT!

REAL ESTATE AGENT
I knew you’d love it.

HUSBAND
Bedfords Oak?

REAL ESTATE AGENT
The listing just says Oak.

HUSBAND
Hmmmmmm. The grain looks like Bedfords. Termites love Bedsford.

WIFE
Are these back steps usable?

REAL ESTATE AGENT
Oh, no. Those are not structural. You can hang lightweight items on there, but those are not zoned as steps.

HUSBAND
The paint tray. I’m not sure I like it.

REAL ESTATE AGENT
I think you can learn to love it. I was thinking you would use this bottom step as a man cave.

WIFE
Or a nursery!

HUSBAND
I’m just not sure…

REAL ESTATE AGENT
Tell you what; I’ll get the seller to throw in a doormat.

WIFE
I’m not sure…

HUSBAND
Deal!!

FADE TO BLACK

LIGHTS UP and the scene is the ladder with HUSBAND and WIFE spending an afternoon together. HUSBAND flips through the paper. The WIFE sips a cup of tea with a saucer.

HUSBAND
This is the life.

WIFE
You said it. Tea?

HUSBAND
Sure. Don’t worry yourself, I’ll get it.

The HUSBAND makes a show of folding the paper, dusting himself off, navigating around his WIFE and then grabbing a cup of tea off the back side. He gets back into position and then grimaces…

HUSBAND
Forgot the sugar.

WIFE
I can…

HUSBAND
I won’t hear of it.

They tango for a brief moment and he adds sugar.

WIFE
You know honey, I was thinking that maybe I should start looking for a job.

HUSBAND
Nonsense!  I don’t want you to have to slave away at some job when I make plenty for the both of us. Besides, I thought you were working on a few projects on fixing up the home?

WIFE
Well, I’ve painted the living room, the guest room, both bathrooms and the observatory…

HUSBAND
Yes…

WIFE
And that was all this morning.


HUSBAND
Of course.

WIFE
I was thinking that if I get the left side painted and fix that squeaky rung, we might be able to, you know...

HUSBAND
Yes?

WIFE
We could put it up for sale. You know… flip it. Make some money and buy an actual house.

HUSBAND
Dear, you know money is tight.

WIFE
Didn’t you just say I didn’t need to get a job?

HUSBAND
I can tell you are upset. Listen… this isn’t just a ladder… it’s our home. It has everything we need. Steps. Rungs.  When a relationship is as strong as ours, we don’t need much more than that.

WIFE
I guess you’re right.

HUSBAND
Of course, dear. Now, drink your tea.

Lights down.

Lights up and the HUSBAND is walking towards the ladder with a suitcase sized package.

HUSBAND
Honey, I’m home early! I’ve got something to show you.

As he gets closer, lights up on the ladder to reveal WIFE and THE OTHER MAN near the middle of the stairs.  They are both disheveled. She tries to put herself together as THE OTHER MAN quickly gatherers his clothes and sneaks down the back.

WIFE
Jim! Um, hold on there’s wet paint.

HUSBAND is oblivious of the man climbing down the back.


HUSBAND
Are you painting in those clothes? Those lack of clothes?

All three react as a loud creak comes from the back of the ladder.

HUSBAND
What was that? Is someone here?

The HUSBAND begins to climb up the rungs and THE OTHER MAN finishes climbing to the bottom.

HUSBAND
You there! What are you doing!

The HUSBAND climbs to the top safe rung of the ladder.

WIFE
Honey, be careful, please come down.

HUSBAND
It looks like he stole a pair of underwear. He’s dropped a pair on the lawn.

The HUSBAND climbs down and meets the WIFE about ¾ the way up.

WIFE
He wasn’t stealing underwear.

HUSBAND
Is he the rung repairman?

WIFE
No! He’s my lover. I’m having an affair.

HUSBAND
An affair?

WIFE
I just feel like I’m missing something in my life.

The WIFE starts to step down one rung at a time, distancing herself from him.

HUSBAND
But I’ve given you everything you need. Love. A ladder. What else is there?


WIFE
I don’t know.  I just know that I feel empty. And I can’t keep living here like this.

HUSBAND
Maybe we can drape a canvas over the back?

WIFE
I can’t keep living with you.

HUSBAND
You mean…

WIFE nods

The HUSBAND starts climbing to the top.

HUSBAND
So this is it then.

WIFE
Honey, be careful.

HUSBAND
What do you care?

WIFE
Be careful, Jim. That’s not a step!

HUSBAND
Pah!  It’s just a sticker! The ladder people just put that on there so people have to go out and buy bigger and more expensive ladders!

WIFE
Don’t do this.

HUSBAND
I don’t know what else to do.

WIFE
Are you coming down?

HUSBAND says nothing.

WIFE
I’ll go.


As she steps down and starts to go, she sees the package.

WIFE
Do you want me to put this in the garage before I leave?

HUSBAND
Open it.

The WIFE tears off the wrappings. It is a smaller step ladder.

WIFE
Is this…

HUSBAND
I used our savings to buy that. I thought maybe you might paint it pink or blue depending on what the baby turned out to be. Most couples do that with their nurseries.

WIFE
I didn’t know you wanted children.

HUSBAND
I wanted you to be happy.

WIFE
Oh Jim!

The WIFE climbs the ladder and they embrace.

Lights Down

Lights up and the little ladder is next to the big ladder.  There is a clearly labeled pink bucket of paint on the small ladder. The HUSBAND and WIFE lounge on the rungs. The WIFE is fully pregnant.

HUSBAND
This is the life.

WIFE
You said it. Water.

HUSBAND
No thank you, dear.

WIFE
No, water. My water just broke.

HUSBAND
Here! Let me help you to the car.

WIFE
There’s not time.

HUSBAND
I’m glad I added that birthing room. Here, let’s get you to the birthing room.

They step down one rung.

HUSBAND
Breathe…

WIFE screams!

Lights go down.

A baby cries.

THE END


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The top rung is not a step. A step, by definition, leads to somewhere else. The top "step" is actually a plateau.

Don't worry about what the local theater says. I liked it.

-A.J.