Imaginary Friend: a 10 min. play by Tim West

Imaginary Friend

IN THE BLACK, we hear rain. The first light we see is the glow from a television set, downstage left. From it, we hear the dull volley of a tennis game.

At LIGHTS UP, we see a breakfast nook upstage: rain-streaked bay windows, if possible; three chairs and a small table, set with a china coffee service.

AUDIE, a spindly teenage boy, sits in the middle chair, his legs to one side, one arm on the back of the chair and his head resting on that arm, with a remote control device in his hand. A tennis racket droops from his other. He is sporting incongruous summer white tennis togs. One leg has a metal brace.

AUDIE: (to the audience)
“You do my murder, and I do yours… Criss-cross.”

LAURA, AUDIE’s mother, enters stage right, wearing a chiffon housecoat and carrying a portable electronic device in one hand and a fashion magazine in the other.

LAURA:
What’s that, darling?

AUDIE turns down the volume of the TV tennis.

AUDIE:
I said “You are my mother and I love you. Kiss-kiss.”

LAURA:
Oh, sweetie! I love you too, darling. Yes: Kiss-kiss.

LAURA busses him on the top of his head. AUDIE licks his palm, straightens his cow-lick.

AUDIE:
Kiss-kiss.

LAURA sits SR, places her magazine on the table. AUDIE hands her a napkin, which she absent-mindedlytakes from him and uses as a pot-holder to pour
herself a cup of coffee from the pot while she continues multi-tasking between magazine and electronic device. LAURA sips the coffee, scowls.

LAURA:
Bitter.

AUDIE:
You could use some of Dad’s sweetener.

LAURA:
No, it’s fine the way it is. Oopsie!

LAURA has spilled a bit of coffee, but deftly takes the napkin and blots the spill, sparing the magazine. Then she returns to her device.

ALLAN, AUDIE’s dad, enters stage left, dressed for the office, carrying a briefcase in his right hand.

ALLAN sets the briefcase on the table, looks at his wristwatch, and takes a small portable electronic device from his shirt pocket and examines it.

AUDIE:
Morning.

ALLAN looks up, regarding his son pleasantly.

ALLAN:
Morning, sport! How’s my little Bjorn Borg? Illie Nastaze? Ivan Lindel? No, the other one, what’s his name? The one you like so much? Why can I never remember his name?

AUDIE:
Guy Haines.

ALLAN:
No, that’s not it. Give me a minute. It’ll come to me. Andre Aggasiz? Boris Becker!

ALLAN looks at his watch, then goes back to his device as he sits, googling tennis stars.

Throughout the following, LAURA and ALLAN do not look up from their respective devices when they address each other.

LAURA:
You’ll be late for work.

ALLAN:
No I won’t. Is there coffee?

LAURA
In the pot

ALLAN puts his hand of the coffeepot, checking to see if it’s warm. He reacts.

ALLAN:
It’s hot!

(He looks at his fingertips, rubs them together)

It seared my fingertips.

(To LAURA)

Why didn’t you warn me?

LAURA:
It’s hot.

ALLAN:
It seared my fingertips.

(To AUDIE:)

Why didn’t you warn me?

AUDIE:
I got you a decaf.

AUDIE holds out a metallic portable car cup in his hand, which ALLAN accepts gratefully.

ALLAN:
Hm? So you did! Thank you, son.

ALLAN sips his coffee, returns to his devise.

LAURA
Don’t drink too much, you know it only keeps you up.

AUDIE:
It’s okay. It’s decaf.

A pause while we listen to the rain.

ALLAN:
What’s the weather like today?

LAURA
Why?

ALLAN:
I got golf.

LAURA
It’s supposed to rain.

ALLAN sighs, shakes his head, and texts his golf date.

ALLAN:
Anything interesting in the paper?

AUDIE:
It’s a fashion magazine.

ALLAN:
Anything interesting?

LAURA
It’s supposed to rain.

ALLAN:
Good.

ALLAN finishes texting, looks at his watch, sips his coffee. He looks at his wife.

ALLAN:
Could I have the Sports section?

LAURA
Please.

Without looking up, LAURA hands ALLAN an ad insert, which he accepts and places on the table. Both parents return to their portable electronic devices.

AUDIE:
How’s your team doing, Dad?

ALLAN looks up from his device, stares at AUDIE.

ALLAN:
Hm? What’s that, Sport?

AUDIE:
How’s your team doing?

ALLAN:
What team?

AUDIE:
Say, football team?

ALLAN:
NFL or fantasy league?

AUDIE:
Fantasy league.

ALLAN:
Let’s check!

ALLAN goes back to his device to check scores.

LAURA:
You’re going to be late for work.

ALLAN:
I’ve got time.

LAURA:
Did you see there was a thing?

ALLAN:
A what?

LAURA:
A thing.

ALLAN:
Oh. No.

LAURA:
Five car pile-up. Highway 8.

ALLAN:
I didn’t see it. Where was that?

LAURA:
Highway 8.

AUDIE:
www dot Traffic Tracker dot-com.

ALLAN goes to his portable device to check traffic. After a moment, he frowns.

ALLAN:
It’s raining.

We listen to the rain for a moment, while both parents stay immersed in their devices. AUDIE fidgets with his good leg. After a moment,
he stops to announce:

AUDIE:
I need another tennis racket.

LAURA looks up from her device, really for the first time.

LAURA:
We’ll get you a new one, sweetie.

ALLAN: (not looking up from his device)
We’re not made of money, kids.

LAURA:
Oh poo! We’ll buy you a dozen rackets. We’ll buy you a hundred. From you settlement.

LAURA rises, kisses AUDIE on the head again, daubs his face with the napkin. AUDIE avoids letting her wipes his mouth. LAURA takes the napkin and polishes AUDIE’s leg-brace instead.

ALLAN:
That money is not for sporting equipment. It’s to get my little man the best doctors money can buy.

LAURA:
I know that. Don’t you think I know that?

LAURA sighs, checks his watch, takes a sip of coffee, puts his device in his shirt pocket, and rises.

ALLAN:
Sorry. I gotta go. I’ll be late.

AUDIE leaps up, as best he can, to preclude this.

AUDIE:
Don’t go yet, Dad!

ALLAN:
Oh, Sport! But I gotta. The traffic.

AUDIE:
Take me golfing.

ALLAN:
What? Oh, kiddo, you know I can’t do that.

AUDIE:
Why not?

LAURA
Mummy will take you to the mall with her, sweetheart.

AUDIE:
Just stay a minute more, please!

LAURA and ALLAN stand looking at each other over AUDIE’s head, then reluctantly return to their seats. AUDIE hops back onto his chair. AUDIE looks at ALLAN, who pockets his device, looks at his watch, sips his coffee. AUDIE looks at LAURA, who closes her magazine and, with just a tad of regret, turns her device off, giving AUDIE her full attention. AUDIE looks at ALLAN, who looks down at the ad insert, scratches it, sniffs his finger, scowls.

ALLAN:
What’s the second racket for, Sport?

AUDIE:
My tennis partner.

ALLAN:
Your what?

AUDIE:
I have an imaginary friend.

ALLAN:
Aren’t you a little old for that?

AUDIE:
No.

LAURA:
What’s his name, dear?

AUDIE:
Bruno.

LAURA
Bruno?

AUDIE:
Anthony.

ALLAN:
Well, which is it, Bruno or Anthony?

AUDIE:
Bruno Anthony.

ALLAN:
Your imaginary friend has a last name for a first name?

LAURA
Oh, leave the boy alone. What difference does it make?

ALLAN looks at his watch, goes to sip some coffee, but finds it cold. He sets it down, and rises.

ALLAN:
Well, I must be going. Maybe you me and Bruno can go golfing someday, eh?

AUDIE:
Bruno prefers tennis.

ALLAN enjoys this, tossles AUDIE’s hair, starts to go.

ALLAN:
Hey, that’s great, Sport!

AUDIE:
Don’t forget your briefcase.

ALLAN looks at the briefcase, but LAURA retrieves it, meeting ALLAN on his way to the door.

LAURA
He packed it himself. I told him I wouldn’t bother with it. That you’d be lunching at the club.

ALLAN:
What’s that supposed to mean? I’m sure I don’t know.

LAURA
I’m sure I don’t, either. Goodbye, then.

ALLAN:
Goodbye, dear.

ALLAN busses LAURA on the cheek, and exits. We hear a door close, off. LAURA sighs, crosses the table, gathers up the coffee pot and cup. AUDIE uses the remote to turn up the volume on the TV. We hear another tennis volley.

LAURA crosses toward SR with the coffee service. Suddenly, she drops it. She gasps as she looks at the broken dishes, then glares off in the direction ALLAN exited. We hear the sound of a car starting and pulling out of a driveway, off, as LAURA gasps for breath. She crawls toward the AUDIE just a bit, and finally collapses.

AUDIE, wide-eyed, limps to her side, then pokes her with his tennis racket. She lies there staring, not moving. In the distance, we hear an explosion, and then a rain of metal debris.

AUDIE limps back to his chair and straddles it. The tennis volley ends, and we hear clapping.

REFEREE V.O.:
Game, Mr. Haines. He leads, one game to love, third set.

ANNOUNCER V.O.
Well, Guy Haines has copped the first two sets very easily, and if he keeps going, it’ll be a straight set
for him, sure.

AUDIE looks out at the audience.

AUDIE:
Criss-cross.

BLACKOUT.

END OF PLAY.

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