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"Ghost of a Chance"

by D. Chapelle

Some Excerpts:

(Gram enters singing, “Home on the Range,” and crosses to the closet with her hat.)

GRAM:  (Entering.)  “Oh give me a home, where the bu-bu-buffalo roam.  And the deer and the antelope play.  Where seldom is heard ... a discouraging word ... (Big finish.)  And the skiiiiiiies are not a cloudy all day-ee-ay! Ahh, there is nothing like a good morning’s work to work up a good morning’s appetite.  (Crossing to kitchen.)  I wonder what that beautiful and sweet granddaughter of mine has cooking?  (Pause in her tracks.)  Sooo ... why don’t I smell anything cooking.  (Rubs her nose.)  Oh dear me, I hope I’m not coming down with something.  May?  (She enters the kitchen.)  May?  What?  WHERE‘S MY BREAKFAST!!!!  (A horrible clatter of pots, pans, and shattering glass is heard from off-stage.  Gram storms back on stage in a very ill temper then has a slow burn.)  Well isn’t this just wonderful.  Poor little-old-feeble woman like me wants a little breakfast, and what does she get?  (Ranting.)  Nothing!!!  No ... no pancakes, no waffles, no sausages, no bacon, no cereal, no milk, not ... not ... not even a stinking cup of coffee!  Is a stinking cup of coffee too much for a poor little-old-feeble woman like me to ask!!!  (Calmly.)  I don’t think so. (Ranting.)  When my son Houston, lord rest his weary soul, passed on I left my home and my life in Beaver Crossing to help them out.  I rushed right over here to Chubbyburg take care of his beautiful and sweet daughter, and ... and that woman he married.  I give, and I give, and I give, and what ... what do I get?  NOT EVEN A STINKING CUP OF COFFEE!!! (When the line, “lord rest his weary soul” is spoken all present become suddenly subdued and respectful, bow their heads for the saying of the line, and then resume.)

MAY:  (Entering with a metal pail and an arm full of flowers.)  Good morning, Grandmother.

GRAM:  (Sweetly.)  Good morning, dear.

MAY:  (Making herself busy with the flowers and the vase on the table.)  How is your morning going?

GRAM:  Just fine dear.  I plowed the back forty, plowed the south forty, painted the barn, and painted the half mile of fence that runs from the orchard to the pond.

MAY:  That’s nice Gram.  Wait a minute.  We don’t have a fence between the orchard and the pond.

GRAM:  Well, we do now and the paint’s wet.

MAY:  It sounds like you had a busy morning.

GRAM:  Oh, I did.  I did.  Very, very, busy.  And ... and I was just wondering how you spent your morning?

MAY:  (Avoiding an answer.)  I ... I was doing ... things ... here and there ... doing things.

GRAM:  You didn’t happen to make any breakfast did you?

MAY:  I was just about to ... I ... I was getting to breakfast, Gram.

GRAM:  Oh, you were were you?

MAY:  Yes, Ma’am.

GRAM:  Well, I was just out in the kitchen and I couldn’t find one single, solitary thing that even looked like food.

MAY:  No, no we don’t have very much in the pantry right now.

GRAM:  And nothing in the ice box either.

MAY:  Things are a little lean in the kitchen right now, but ...

GRAM:  No!  A skinny pig is lean, but empty is empty.  Why haven’t you gone to the General Store to get supplies?

MAY:  Mr. Floggharder won’t extend us anymore credit.

GRAM:  What about taking some money out of savings?

MAY:  There’s nothing left in savings, Gram.

GRAM:  So what you’re telling me is we have next to nothing?

MAY:  Well no.  This morning I ... I went out to milk Bessie and … (She hands her Grandmother the pail.)

GRAM:  (Taking the pail, looking inside, and turning it upside down.)  Next time you milk Bessie you should sit a little closer.

MAY:  Bessie’s sort of ... gone.

GRAM:  Sort of gone?  Honey, either the cow is out in the barn or she isn’t.

MAY:  She isn’t.

SMEDLY:  What I need to say to the young lady should be said in private.

TODD:  It wouldn’t be polite to leave you alone with her.

MAY:  What would people say?

SMEDLY:  I need to speak to you about a family matter.

TODD:  You’re not part of the family.

MAY:  He’s got you there.

SMEDLY:  But I am the family banker.

MAY:  He’s got you there.

TODD:  May, I really don’t think I should leave you alone with Mr. Floggharder.

MAY:  Why is that?

TODD:  His name for one.  (Aside.)  What sort of name is Floggharder, anyway?

SMEDLY:  Young man, I may be the only hope to save this young woman’s home!

TODD:  I thought you were the one who would throw them out of their home.

MAY:  He’s got you there.

SMEDLY:  Could you ... could you just be ... be quiet.  Please?  (Aside.)  And to think this is the girl of my dreams.  (To Todd.)  Me?  I would never do such a thing.

TODD:  But I heard you telling your head teller just the other day that you’d toss the Decembembers into the street if they didn’t pay their mortgage.

MAY:  Mr. Floggharder!

SMEDLY:  You have good ears, my boy.  Yes, well, you must understand that even though I own the bank I do have stockholders to answer to.  It would be those rotten money grubbing stockholders who would make me throw the ladies out of their home.

MAY:  Really?

SMEDLY:  Cross my heart.

TODD:  When did you get a heart?

SMEDLY:  Mail order!  Monte Ward catalog.  Now then, I think you have other business to attend to.  I know I do.  I think it’s high time we both got on with our business.

MAY:  I’ll be all right Todd.

TODD:  Are you sure?

SMEDLY:  Weren’t you listening?

TODD:  (Aside.)  I’m not really sure I should leave May alone with this man.  I ... I sense there is something wrong with him.  Something dark, and evil.  Still, it is broad daylight.  What could go wrong?  (To May.)  Well, if you’re sure you’ll be all right I’d best be getting off to school.  It’s time to fill young minds with knowledge!