Friday, May 5, 2017

First Drama Scene - The Eighth Wonder


Mr. Moore, middle-aged businessman.
Mr. Henry, young traveler.

Setting: a crowded train in the 1930s.

Act 1, Scene 1

(Mr. Moore shoulders his way to the back of a crowded train, travelling coat slung over his left arm, clutching a suitcase and newspaper in his right hand. Mr. Henry follows closely behind, holding five huge suitcases and a rolled up oriental rug under one arm, a big black camera hanging from a strap around his neck. Conductor sees Mr. Henry and runs to meet him).

            (Grabs handle of massive suitcase).
CONDUCTOR: Mr. Henry! If it isn’t the Adam J. Henry – world traveler!

MR. HENRY: It's been a while, Conductor!

CONDUCTOR: Quite a while! I'll give you a hand there -
            (Takes biggest suitcase).

MR. HENRY: Thank you!

(Mr. Moore tucks solitary suitcase into overhead loft and sits down near Mr. Henry and train Conductor. He looks grumpily at the suitcases on the floor, one of which has large gold lettering spelling out ADAM J. HENRY).

CONDUCTOR: Paris was nice?

MR. HENRY: As was India.

CONDUCTOR: Making the big trip today?

MR. HENRY: Yes, the Eighth Wonder of the World! 

CONDUCTOR: The other seven weren't enough for you, of course.
(Leans elbow against luggage rack overhead and pounds suitcase with his fist).

MR. HENRY: What are the seven to the eighth?

CONDUCTOR: You must be excited, Adam.

MR. HENRY: Oh, I’m beyond excited! Do you know how long I’ve waited for this? Far longer than I should have!

CONDUCTOR: You’ve been very patient. And you’ve seen plenty of amazing places in the meantime!

MR. HENRY: Yes, I have, and I’ve enjoyed those places, but I’ve never been so happy to board a train as I am today!

CONDUCTOR: Well, you enjoy yourself! Good to see you again, Adam!

MR. HENRY: Good to see you!

(Conductor walks back up the train, interacting with other passengers. Mr. Moore coughs into a handkerchief. Mr. Henry notices him and beams, holding out his free hand).

MR. HENRY: Adam Henry!

MR. MOORE: Charles Moore.

MR. HENRY: On holiday?

MR. MOORE: For a short time.

MR. HENRY: It’s a round trip then?

(Mr. Moore nods curtly).

            (Packing suitcases in luggage rack overhead).
MR. HENRY: One-way for me!


MR. HENRY: I’m there to stay for a long while, I hope.


MR. HENRY: It’s by far the greatest place I’ve been to yet, in all my years of travel!
(Tosses large stamp-covered case into overhead compartment. Clasp pops open and photos and letters fall on Mr. Moore's head).

MR. HENRY: Oops! Sorry about that!

MR. MOORE: No trouble.
            (Bends over and starts picking up his things).
MR. HENRY: These cases get so full! It’s all I can do to get them shut all the way when everything’s in!

MR. MOORE: Indeed.
            (Tipping an envelope off of his hat).

(Mr. Henry shuffles around in a mess of papers. He picks up a black and white
photo of a ruin. He waves it at Mr. Moore).
MR. HENRY: The Parthenon!

            (Looking down at photo)
MR. HENRY: Thought I’d never see it. But I’ve been there three times now!

            (Unfolds his newspaper).

MR. HENRY: Machu Picchu… and the Hanging Gardens! I thought I’d lost this one!

           (Mr. Moore turns a page).

MR. HENRY: I haven’t read a paper in years! Haven’t had the time, what with all the moving about from one place to the next, getting settled here and then uprooted to move over there – There’s my old college professor! We met up at the Lighthouse of Alexandria –

MR. MOORE: Excuse me.
            (Gets back up and walks over to the conductor).

MR. MOORE: Listen, can you find me a seat somewhere else on this train? I don’t think I can take an entire train ride seated next to Mister, over here.
(Jabs a thumb over his shoulder at Mr. Henry, who is still collecting the contents of his suitcase).

CONDUCTOR: Who, Adam? I’m sorry, but we’re pretty tightly packed. You go on and have a seat. He’s alright!

MR. MOORE: Rather spritely.

CONDUCTOR: Know where he’s off to? Ask him; you’ll understand.

MR. MOORE: Yeah, I heard. Eighth Wonder, wherever that cheer-inspiring monument may be.

(Mr. Henry begins to whistle loudly as he slams trunk closed and swings it back into the luggage rack).

MR. MOORE: This is my first out-of-country experience and I’ve already had the wind completely taken out of my sails! He may be a world traveler at the age of – what – twenty-eight – but does he have to shout about it everywhere he goes? I’m finally leaving the country, and I get to make this grand travel at the side of some guy who’s been there and back a hundred times, who’s so used to the sight of the entire world that he needs an eighth wonder to make his travel collection complete! Well, I’ll ask him what this wonderland is and wherever it is I’m going too!

CONDUCTOR: Oh, but –

MR. MOORE: I don’t care how far away it is! I deserve it after fifty years stuck in the states!

CONDUCTOR: Well, I think you’re being a bit rash, after all –

MR. MOORE: I’m going to make things right starting today! Any place that self-important-twenty-some-year-old thinks he can gloat about to me, I’ll – I’ll – Well, if there is such a thing as an Eighth Wonder of the World, I’ll see to it that I’m not the last one there!

(Stumps away. Mr. Moore returns to his seat, looking annoyed. He sees a photo lying facedown on his seat and bends to pick it up. He then freezes in mid-act while turning it over to hand back to Mr. Henry. His face softens).

MR. HENRY: Ah! I must have missed one! I’ll take that, thank you!
            (Takes photo back).
I apologize again – I’ve been dropping things all day!

MR. MOORE: …No trouble.

(Moment of quiet. Mr. Moore watches a young couple with three small children near the front of the train, happily setting their things in order. Mr. Moore turns back to Mr. Henry who smiles).

MR. MOORE: Where did you say you were headed?

MR. HENRY: I didn’t!

MR. MOORE: Sorry?

MR. HENRY: I didn’t say!

MR. MOORE: You mentioned the Eighth Wonder?

MR. HENRY: Ah, yes! I’ve been to the other seven already – I’ve been to just about every place. And now I’m returning to the one place I can’t visit enough.

MR. MOORE: You’ve been there before?

MR. HENRY: Many times, yes. I leave it only when I have to, which is more frequent than I’d like.
(Mr. Henry looks somber and he stops speaking, looking out the window. After a while, he looks down at the photo still in his hand).

MR. HENRY: Do you know, I’ve walked the sands of Egypt, cruised the waters of Venice, stood atop the Eiffel tower, seen the giant falls of South America – I’ve seen every place I ever wanted to, but no place satisfies me except – except that tiny little house set apart in the country… there’s a small boy there with brown eyes that just match his mother’s… and a tiny toddling little thing with big blue eyes and dark curls. Lucy will be talking full sentences now.
            (Stows photo away in inside pocket of coat).
No ruin, no city, no mountain can ever take the place of –

MR. MOORE: Home.

(Short silence).

MR. HENRY: It’s been two years…

CONDUCTOR: All aboard!
            (Train whistle).

MR. HENRY: And what about yourself? Where are you going?

(Mr. Moore stands up).
MR. MOORE: Home.
(He pulls his suitcase out from the luggage rack and strides back up the train, swinging his arm).

CONDUCTOR: All aboard!

(Train whistle).

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