Where is Hope?
by John Cosper
Ed- a guy paranoid about disease, terrorism, sharks, clones, etc.
Joe- A business man laid off at Christmas
Lisa- A hopelessly single young woman
Paige- A mother whose husband died September 11
(Ed enters in a hazmat suit.)
ED- Oh sure. Go ahead and laugh. Go ahead. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Because in the end, I’ll be alive and you’ll be… not alive. So there! Yeah, I hear the government tell me not to panic. Go about your business as usual. So people go back to work, back to the ball game. Back to the movies, never knowing when they’re going to turn a corner and run right into a… a… a giant… killer… clone… landshark… with anthrax! It could happen! I’ve seen the research on gene manipulation, and we all know it isn’t safe to open the mail any more. Just the other day–
ED & JOE- I got a letter–
JOE- From my dear employer. The place I’ve worked for nearly fifteen years. That’s unheard of in most industries, and near impossible in telecom. But I’ve been there a long time, worked hard to get where I am. And I was proud of the work that I did. In an industry where customer service is usually farmed out, I built a top notch CS group rated number one in the country. The churn rate was one third the industry standard thanks to the hard working people I trained and managed. So naturally, when the boss called me in I was thinking Christmas bonus all the way. Then I opened the envelope.
(Lisa enters, holding her cell phone.)
JOE & LISA- And you know what it said?
LISA- “Lisa, Not sure how to say this so thought I’d write. I think we should see other people. Sorry. Merry Christmas. Ryan.” I was so stunned, I couldn’t even finish my dinner. There I sat, in Red Lobster, with my parents and grandparents, all there to meet the man of my dreams. And the scum bag breaks up with me. No– With my cell phone! He broke up with me in a text message. I should have known something was up–
LISA & PAIGE- –when he didn’t call.
PAIGE- Jim was up and at work in his New York office before the sun shone on our little Seattle home, but it was tradition for him to call and wish the kids a good day before school when he was out of town. The kids were rather disappointed that morning not to hear from him, but it wasn’t the first time. I assured him he was probably caught in a meeting and couldn’t get away. I sent them out the door, poured my morning coffee, and settled in on the couch.
PAIGE & ED- I couldn’t believe what I saw.
ED- Now I not only have to worry about anthrax, sharks, and clones, but these terrorists have nuclear bombs? Who’s selling them the stuff? And if they’re crafty enough to build nukes, what’s to say they won’t do something even more drastic… like bringing back disco.
ED & JOE- Talk about a major shocker!
JOE- And with two weeks before Christmas. I and my entire department, 43 people, were out the door. Two weeks severance, no Christmas bonus. “We’re in a recession,” the lady from HR reminded me. I can’t blame her for what happened. Hers is an even more unpleasant job than customer care. But I wanted someone to hear my complaints. It’s not smart to get rid of such a valuable department. But more than that, it’s not right to fire people at Christmas. For the first time in my professional life–
JOE & LISA- I felt completely alone.
LISA- Truth be told, I expected that night to end with Ryan on one knee, asking me to be his bride. But once again, I would be spending Christmas alone, waking up with only my cats to say Merry Christmas to. Then once I had bathed and unwrapped a gift or two I bought for myself, I’d go to my parents house, and watch my married siblings’ eyes twinkle as their children played with the gifts Santa brought.
LISA & PAIGE- The children…
PAIGE- How was I supposed to tell the children? They would probably already know by the time I reached them. Tears burned my eyes as I drove to the school, the horrid image of the burning buildings where my husband… I couldn’t even complete the thought in my mind. He couldn’t be… I had to keep some semblance of hope. For the kids. For my husband. For my own sanity. But my faith was shattered that morning.
PAIGE & ED- What has happened to our world?
ED- It’s no longer a safe place for a guy to trot down to the 7-11 to buy his weekly comics and a Slurpee. If I so much as see someone with a tan, I hold my breath and make a beeline for the door.
ED & JOE- How can anyone expect me to go on with life as usual?
JOE- Santa’s entire budget was based on that annual Christmas bonus. Now that’s gone, and with only two weeks severance, I’ll be depending on unemployment by–
JOE & LISA- New Year’s Day.
LISA- I don’t even want to think about that holiday right now. Another New Year without a midnight kiss. Every year, I think this is surely going to be the last one I spend alone. But every year, it gets harder to believe that I’ll ever find that special someone.
LISA & PAIGE- I’m so afraid of being alone.
PAIGE- Of having to work all the time, and not being as involved in the lives of my children. And I don’t want to raise them without a father. But we can’t even put Jim to rest. His body has yet to be identified. And until it is, the insurance company won’t give us a dime.
ED- The doctor says my worry is causing ulcers. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about. But in this crazy world, how can I ever relax again?
JOE- No one hires new employees in December. But we’re now officially in a recession. How long will it be before I can find another job?
LISA- People tell me the more I worry about finding love, the less likely it is to come along. People should mind their own business. Or get me a mail order groom.
PAIGE- They say Christmas is a time of hope. But how can I pass hope on to my children when I don’t have any of my own?
ED- My only hope is that I don’t get any anthrax in my stocking.
JOE- I just hope I can find a way to give my kids a Christmas this year.
LISA- I have a really nice men’s watch and a Cleveland Browns sweater. Any takers? Anyone?
PAIGE- Gifts are not a problem. We’ve got a tree surrounded by presents this year. From family, friends, even total strangers. But my kids and I would trade them all just to have Jim back with us.