Fiction Page 1
Book Review Page 1
The Blog Bog
More Plays by:
Matthew Paris� P- 2
DO NOT CALL
a monologue play by Austin Alexis
DELIA BARBOUR, mid-forties, dressed in pajamas and a bathrobe
TIME AND PLACE:
The present. DELIA’S bedroom. Early afternoon.
The actor may pause whenever he feels a pause is needed. She may pace, sit, stretch on tiptoes and/or perform any physical choices she feels are appropriate for the character and situation.
As the lights come up, DELIA is running into the bedroom to answer a ringing landline phone.
(speaking into the receiver)
Hello? What? Who is this? Yes, this is DELIA Barbour speaking. Oh, no. Not one of you telemarketers. Nearly killed myself getting to the phone just to hear your stupidness. I’m not interested. I don’t have time for this. If you’re not selling something then you’re calling to ask me a bunch of questions, dumb-ass questions that get personal and too in my face. Or you’re gonna tell me about somebody running for the city council who you think I should support. Well, I don’t care about the city council. When did those clowns ever do a thing for me? (Pause) I’m not into free tickets; anything that doesn’t have a price is either not worth a dime or straight from the devil. Keep whatever it is. (Pause) No, I don’t want to help rate anything. (Pause) Look, I’m on the ‘do not cal list.” You’re not supposed to be calling me. I should report you to the Better Business Bureau or something. Better yet, to your precious city council--how about that? I’ve been on the do not call list for two months. How long does it take before the do not call order kicks in? It’s a ridiculous agency if it can’t protect people from the likes of you. Listen, I can’t talk with you. There’s someone sick here. My great aunt. She’s in the other room. On
the pull-out bed in my living room. When they let her out of the hospital I took her home with me. Her husband died a year ago and there was no one else to look after her all day and night. Now, it looks like she might be dying. Of the c-word, what else? Seems like everybody has it these days. I’m going to check on her. (DELIA goes to the stage right wall and peers off stage) She’s sleeping, no thanks to your ringing phone. But I have to keep an eye on her. Both eyes, actually. No, I’m not making this up, you twit. Why would I make up such a horrible thing? (Pause) Well, you have a point: to get away from you. Off the phone with you. But no, it’s really happening. Thanks for feeling bad about it, but your calling here, at random, all you telemarketers--oh, okay, not marketer: phone workers, then—how’s that?—all you phone workers disturb delicate situations people are living through in their homes. People deserve the peace and quiet of their own homes without being bothered, bombarded, hounded by you and your kind. I, and everyone else, don’t deserve to have the quiet and the privacy of home invaded by your irksome ringing and your buzzy voices. Your shy, bold treble: “Hello? Is Delia Barbour there?” (Pause) I always answer my phone. I don’t ignore people: I’m a compassionate person--sometimes---when I want to be. I’m even compassionate to myself, give myself a rest when I need it, take my weary bones and plop them right down here, on this soft mattress. I thought you were the nurse calling. And I always try to fulfill her needs, help her out. She left here an hour ago, and I thought she might be calling to ask if she left something by accident. She leaves things here a lot. I don’t mind. She comes here every morning for three hours, but now it’s one in the afternoon and I’m here alone with my aunt, so lonely, so miserable, so scared. Don’t you
understand: I’m freaked out and jittery? (Pause) No, I’m still not glad you called. Don’t try to trick me! You people call at all hours of the afternoon. Sometimes you even have the gall to call at night: 7:15, 8:00, 8:15 p.m., 9:10 p.m. Once, one of you dared to call on the Academy Awards night and couldn’t understand why I got so upset about
being interrupted. Why would I want to miss my favorite stars--Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks--arriving at the Oscars, walking the red carpet, to bore myself speaking with one of you? Life is interesting except when it’s boring. And it’s boring when I have to listen to your pitches about credit cards and auto insurance. I don’t even own a car; I don’t even know how to drive for God’s sake! And I rarely use my credit card. I don’t even look at it for weeks at a time. Not looking at your credit card is a good habit; that’s a practice that keeps money in my pocket and not the banks’. The banks have pockets as wide as…as Canada. Oh, now I’m not being a good capitalist or a good consumer or whatever. (Sarcastically) Will I get arrested? Is the government listening in on this phone call, making note of a non-conformist? More likely the corporations are the ones taking note. I’ll take the government over the corporations anytime. But that’s just me. To each his own, as my neighbor across the street likes to say all the time. (Pause) Are you apologizing? You sound shaky. You sound upset. Oh, pull yourself together. Wait; let me check on my great aunt again. (DELIA goes to the side of the stage again and peers into her living room) She isn’t snoring, which she sometimes does. But her chest is still moving up and down, which is a good sign. (Pause) Yes, I’m sure. I know what I’m seeing. (Pause) Yeah, I get testy! You can’t blame me. I’m her primary caregiver and a good one at that, if I say so myself. I’m here, taking time off
from job to tend to her and I demand full credit for that. Don’t kneel in a church: kneel at a bedside. I believe in that. At least I have some beliefs, other than trying to swindle folks or manipulate public opinion--like some people. On my job I help people: guide them as they fill out their social security forms and stuff like that. I feel good when I give comfort to people. Like my great aunt. She struggles to open her eyes, but when she does, and she sees me standing there, she says, “Delia, sit down. Stay with me.” And I say: “I’m here, Aunty.” (Pause) Why do you get upset when I speak about my great aunt? She’s as comfortable as she could possibly be. My apartment is well heated. My aunt has tons of blankets and quilts. I’m clean. I’m organized when speaking with her doctors, jotting down their tips-- (Pause) Are you crying? (Pause) You’re helping to pay your grandpa’s medical bills? With this job? This lousy telephone job? Yeah, we’re in the same boat. Okay, stop crying. Now stop it. (Pause) Please, stop weeping. Of course I feel for you. What kind of a monster would I be if I didn’t? I’ll answer your survey or whatever the hell it is. I’ll help you get a good rating, so you won’t lose your job. I promise. I understand you. I want to help you. We’re in the same canoe, as my neighbor across the street says constantly. Life is hard on everyone, and it’s even harder when you feel alone. I know what it is to feel lonely, isolated. And bitter, but in a way that hurts you and no one else. (Pause) I’m not acting; I really do care. Now I’m here for you. Yes, I’m not going anywhere. Don’t sob. That’s not necessary. I can’t bear sobbing--hearing it. I can’t deal with it. (Pause) The work you’re doing is okay. It really is. I’m not just saying that. (Pause) Are you still here? (Short pause) Do you believe me? (Pause) Please believe me. Questionnaires are necessary. Statistic
gathering isn’t idiotic. Even selling things over the phone is fine. I’m sitting down to catch my breath, gather my nerves. I’m sitting down and being very patient. As they say: I’m all ears.
Quick Fade to Blackout