Five Pinkies: a one-page play by Tim West


FIVE PINKIES   a one-page play by Tim West

   LIGHTS UP. SHE sits next to a cardboard box, holding a washcloth and an eyedropper. 

   HE enters carrying a brown grocery bag. His pinky finger has a conspicuous bandage on it.

SHE: There you are! I thought you just walked out to the trash-cans. What took you so long?

HE: I went for a walk. Up to the 7-11. To get baby formula. And the other stuff that web-site said.

SHE: Oh. That was… That was nice of you. Did you, um… Did you dispose of the mother?

HE: I didn’t know what else to do with it. Her. So I just set her in the trash-can, rat-trap and all.

I didn’t know how to… you know, undo it. Anyway, I don’t suppose we’ll ever be using that again.

SHE: I’m not blaming you, you know. There’s no way you could have known that she had babies.

HE: (removes items from grocery bag) I know. And I can see, that’s probably why she bit me. She was a mother protecting her nest. Protecting her… her young. How many of them have you fed since I left?

SHE: Two. This is the second. He’s okay now, but he wouldn’t take the milk at first. He squirmed. I think this is the one I call Squirmy.

HE: I thought Squirmy was the runty one.

SHE: The runty one, I call Runty.

HE: Well… They’re all pretty runty, Hon.

SHE: Two of them are even runtier than the others. Squirmy is lively, but he doesn’t take the milk. Runty doesn’t move much, but he puts his paw on the dropper. To balance it so he can take the milk. He was really hungry, too. He took almost a whole eye-dropper full of milk. What’s Climber doing?

HE: (looking in box) Climbing. He almost got out again. Maybe I should wrap them in another towel.

SHE: We need to keep them warm, the website said. That’s what their mother does, in the nest. And three haven’t eaten since you went out. The web-site said pinkies nurse in series, almost constantly. If they don’t, they’ll die. Even if they do, without their mother they may die, but… At least we can try.

HE: Pinkies?

SHE: (nodding) Pinkies. It’s what you call baby rats. Before their eyes open, when they’re the size of…

HE: Size of your pinky. And they are pink. Makes sense. Okay, let’s see what we can do for her pinkies.

(taking a washcloth from the box) Wow, they are tiny. Okay! Here we go, little dude. Come on… that’s it.

  She watches as HE takes an eyedropper full of milk and joins her in nursing the babies in the washcloths.

SHE: Do you think they’ll live? The web site said the odds are against it when they’re orphaned. Maybe this is just stupid. I mean, you set the trap because you got bit by a rat. Does it really make sense for us to…

HE: Snap their mother’s back in a trap, then bend over backwards trying to save her babies from starving?

SHE: I never wanted to set a trap.

HE: Well, you didn’t get bit by a rat.

SHE: Would it make more sense to let them starve to death now? Or flush them down the toilet? Or what?

   HE doesn’t reply, but applies himself to the task of feeding the one he’s been holding. After a pause…

HE: Am I doing this right?

SHE: You’re doing fine.

   SHE looks at him and smiles. HE remains engrossed in the nursing. After a moment, HE smiles, too.

HE: It’s kinda neat how you can see the milk in their tummies right through their little pink skin. I got it now. You have to kind of figure out the best way to go at it. This one likes to lick it off my finger.

SHE: I think this one has had enough, finally. Okay, milk-belly. Back to the nest you go. And… Next!

   SHE exchanges the washcloth she’s been holding for another from the box. HE clears his throat.

HE: Uh, this one… This one has stopped taking the milk, at all. And he’s not moving very much. Is he…?

SHE: (looking in his washcloth) Maybe he’s just had enough milk already, and he’s fallen asleep.

HE: Hey, Little Dude, wake up! Okay! There we go! He’s taking the milk again. No, come on now! You were doing so good. He’s… he’s twitching. His color’s changing. He was warm and pink, now he’s… He’s… he’s dead, isn’t he? (gently folds the washcloth and sets it aside) What did I do wrong?

SHE: Nothing. You… We did the best we could. And we might still be able to save the other four.

HE: Let’s see how they’re doing. (looks in box) Hon, they’re not moving. They’re not moving at all.

SHE: This one’s still alive. And he’s taking the milk. Here. I’ll get Climber. Maybe we can save these two.

   HE takes her washcloth, SHE takes one from the box. They are intense but silent for a moment, working.

HE: I’m trying, but it’s… it’s not working. He’s not taking any milk at all. He’s just… laying there.

SHE:  Climber too. He’s… he’s turned blue. It’s no use. Oh god. They’re… they’re not going to make it.

   First SHE, then HE set aside their eyedroppers and washcloths. HE appears to be fighting back tears.

HE: We never even named this one.

SHE takes his hand in hers, raises it to her face, kisses his bandaged finger as LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.


Valkerie: a one-page play by Tim West

Valkerie   a one-page play by Tim WestSlide3

    K sits slightly up-right of center at a bar, perched on a barstool, with her legs crossed primly and her hands folded over one knee.

Incongruously, she is wearing a horned helmet; long, braidedpigtails of flaxen hue; an ample breast-plate with short chain mail skirt, and leather knee-boots, like opera singer Kirsten Flagstad. Downstage left, a dwarf is at his anvil, holdin  g a large golden ring in his tongs, beating it into shape.

He should be a real dwarf, but we learn to make compromises.

 K: The other night, I’m sitting at the bar and this guy comes up to me -completely unsolicited, you understand– and asks if he can buy me a drink. Slides up to the bar, smiles at me over his gin & tonic or scotch & soda or whatever-it-was, rattles the ice in his empty glass and says “Can I buy you a drink?”

    Suddenly she breaks into Brunnhilde’s song from Die Walkure: the four-note scale, repeated.  Then just as suddenly she resumes her monologue as if nothing had happened. Simultaneously, the dwarf takes several stokes with his hammer clanging against his anvil, then freezes again.

I wrote my master’s thesis in musicology on Richard Wagner. Der Ringen das Nibulungen: Das Rhinegeld, Die Walkure, Siegfried, and the end of the cycle, the Gotterdammerung.Wagner used the cycle to develop his theory of leitmotif in characterization, harmonically related themes with the uncanny power to affect his listeners on a subconscious level. He also used it to promote his ideals of strident nationalism and racial consciousness.

    Again, the four-note scale, the dwarf at his anvil; and again, he freezes as she resumes.

 He was tall, handsome; blond, with bright-blue eyes: good-looking. And very GQ.

    She holds up a finger, “hold that thought,” then takes a long, slow drink, eyes closed. Then she opens her eyes, considers her glass, rattles the ice.

I don’t know why, but I just don’t seem to be attracted to Jewish men…

(she sighs)

…much to my mother’s disdain –uh, “dismay.” 

    Again, the four-note scale, the dwarf at his anvil; and again, he freezes as she resumes.

Anti-Semitic? Of course. Wore gloves when he conducted Mendelssohn. He’d finish a concert, lay down his baton, peel the gloves from his fingers and throw them to the floor as if they were soiled.

    She arches her eyebrows, then considers her glass, rattles the ice. Without looking up.

But he counted many Jews among his friends and admirers. Levi, the conductor at Bayreuth, was a the son of a rabbi. Joukowsky and Brandt, his principle designer and technical director, were Jews. It was Mahler, a Jew, who first popularized his works in Vienna. (she shrugs slightly) I find that rather interesting…

    She pauses. Then, directly to the audience: 

Finally, I let him buy me a drink.

    She rattles the ice in her glass, then freezes. 

    Albrecht the dwarf takes the large gold ring from his forge with a pair of tongs, crosses up, offers the ring to her. She does not move as we FADE TO BLACK.



The In-the-Middle: a one page play by Tim West


The In-The-Middle   a one-page play

  ELLA, in her 70s, is in a wheelchair, silhouetted down-stage next to a park bench. LIGHTS FADE UP as ERNEST, the same age, enters carrying flowers. He looks about. Removing his hat, he approaches ELLA.

ERNEST: Good morning!

ELLA: Good morning to you.

ERNEST: It’s a lovely view.

ELLA: Yes, it’s my favorite.

ERNEST: Mine as well.

ELLA: I like the pond in the afternoon, when the ducks are there. But the garden is nice in the morning.

ERNEST: Is it alright if I join you?

ELLA: Oh yes. Please do.

   ERNEST dusts the park bench with his hat, then sits and places the flowers on the bench beside him.

ELLA: Those are very pretty flowers. Those are… Don’t tell me, I know… Are they… ranunculus?

ERNEST: They are. Very good!

ELLA: I remember them from my mother’s garden when I was a girl. They are a particularly pretty flower.

But she had so many! She had… gladiolas. And… and… pop-eyes? Is that the name? And roses, of course, that aphids always ate. Is that the word, “aphids”? She got so mad at those bugs! Ranunculus, is that right?

ERNEST: Yes, quite so. (beat) Would you like these for your room?

ELLA: Oh, but I think you brought these for someone else, didn’t you?

ERNEST: I brought them for my wife. But they tell me that she is not in a way to receive visitors today.

ELLA: Oh, I am sorry. How sad.

ERNEST: For me, or for her?

ELLA: For both of you.

ERNEST: Well, that depends on your point of view. If memories are what make us happy, then I’m happy.

ELLA: Memories can make you happy or sad, I suppose. It depends. I have problems with my memory.

ERNEST: It happens, sometimes, at our age.

ELLA: A lot, with me.

ERNEST: It happens.

ELLA: I can remember the far-away, when I was a girl. I can remember every flower in my mother’s garden. And I remember the now: What they had here for breakfast, the medicine that they brought me.

I particularly remember those ducks by the pond in the afternoon. I remember what’s happened recently.

But the in-the-middle, not so much. I try to remember it, but mostly, there’s only the far-away and the now.

ERNEST: That must be very difficult for you.

ELLA: It used to be difficult. If I didn’t remember something, didn’t recognize someone, I got very upset, very angry. But now, I try to remember the happy times when I was young, ranunculus in the garden and so forth, and happy times like now, like looking at the ducks in the pond in the afternoon. I try to remember that the times that I’ve forgotten were probably very happy too. And I try to enjoy what I can.

ERNEST: That’s a good way to look at it.

ELLA: I guess, if memories make us happy, that’s a good thing. But if they make us sad, we should just

live for the now, you know? And not worry about the in-the-middle.

ERNEST: You’re a very wise woman.

ELLA: Most days, I don’t even remember my own name!

ERNEST: My name is Ernest. But you needn’t remember it.

  ERNEST pats her hand, rises, dons his hat, and bows.

ERNEST: And now, if you’ll excuse me, I fear I must go. I’m not really supposed to be here. I don’t enjoy visitors privileges today, you see. I don’t want these nurses to create an upset.

ELLA: I understand. Thank you for the flowers.

ERNEST: You are truly most welcome to them.

ELLA: I hope your wife is feeling better the next time you come.

ERNEST: I hope so, too. It has been a great pleasure talking with you, Ella.

ELLA: Yes, I enjoyed talking with you… Ernest.

ERNEST: Good Morning.

ELLA: Good morning to you.

  ERNEST smiles, tips his hat, and exits at once without looking back. ELLA watches him go, then sits looking out at the garden, smiling.