One Act Play

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A 10-Minute One Act Play
Help Wanted
By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2003 Geralyn Horton

JAKE: 40's, managerial type.

TERESA: late 50's, a gentle elementary school teacher.

MERRIK: late 30's, a born-again Christian.

DEBBIE: 30's, bright, tough, and angry.

KIM, 20's, waif like, depressed.

Time/Place/Scene: A suburban church basement, used as the office of a nonprofit support service for the unemployed, with a couple of desks, an elaborate answering machine with two phones: one real, one facade with a recorded message saying "executive offices" -- which this obviously isn't. There is a card table, folding chairs, newspapers, trade magazines.

TERESA is sitting on a folding chair at the desk , talking to JAKE, who is consulting THE JOB FINDER'S GUIDE and taking notes in a notebook from his briefcase.

DEBBIE enters, looks around.

TERESA I wear an extra sweater and a hat. That's what my mother did when she was a girl, during the Depression. The kitchen stove was their heat. (notices DEBBIE) Can we be of help, dear?

DEBBIE Group's supposed to be at 10:30, isn't it?

TERESA Yes, but--

DEBBIE I'll wait. ( DEBBIE sits, takes out newspaper, begins reading.)

TERESA (to JAKE) How is Janet doing?

JAKE Better. Takes her a couple weeks to bounce back from chemotherapy. But she's up and around, now. Cleaning out the kitchen drawers.

TERESA And your boy?

JAKE I told Park School I was going to have to pull Jason out of there. (sits) They came up with a scholarship.

TERESA (pats JAKE's shoulder) Well, now. That's good news.

JAKE Is it? Jason's grades are dropping. He's out too late, comes back with bullshit --sorry. You'd think that being out of work I'd have time to ride herd on him, but with hustling a job and taking care of Janet--.

TERESA A boy that age can be a real pill. Especially at a time of crisis.

JAKE You're telling me this is normal?

TERESA I saw it my boys. There's stress, and a boy feels he ought to be pitching in to help. But there isn't much he can do, really, is there?

JAKE He can at least not add to our worries!

TERESA That's true, but at his age-- . Probably the guilt is driving him wild.

JAKE School's Jason's job. Seems to me it's that simple.

DEBBIE Maybe your kid's just not the kind who can block out the real world.

JAKE (rises, turns to DEBBIE) Seems to me a person can at least try!

(pause. DEBBIE hides behind newspaper)

TERESA ( brings JAKE back) It was a real shame about that position in Nashua.

JAKE Yeah. I thought they'd--. But--. You know --I could never mention this to Janet, it'd kill her--- but I wonder. Can a personnel office find out about cancer? Go though medical files?

TERESA Doctors' records are confidential.

DEBBIE (lowers paper) Ha! Sure. And Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. (pause) Sorry. S'none of my business.

JAKE Maybe it's my age. I'm fit, but -- do you think I should get a hairpiece?

DEBBIE (laughs, loud. JAKE and TERESA look at her. She holds up the comic page) Dilbert. (they turn back)

MERRIK (enters ) Good morning.

JAKE (goes to Merrik) Hey, look, it's Merrik back! How's it going, big guy?

MERRIK (shaking hands) Good. It's going good, praise the Lord.

JAKE I thought you had a job.

MERRIK I did. I mean, I do. Just taking longer than we figured.

JAKE Georgia, wasn't it?

MERRIK Right. Georgia for training, and then traveling between the territories.

TERESA But your wife's career--.

MERRIK Secretarial stuff. A woman can do that anywhere.

DEBBIE Anywhere there's a job.

MERRIK There's secretarial in Georgia. Alice says, "At $5.15 an hour?" But money goes farther down there. No oil bills, housing's less than half. ...

JAKE I'd say, sell while you can! This market is so overpriced--

MERRIK Alice says the company will fold: a job that can be done cheap in Georgia will be done even cheaper in Pakistan or Prague.

JAKE Well, if you do...
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