Monday, January 28, 2013


Susan Moneymaker, Large and Small

a ten-minute play
by Stacey Levine






(all of middle age)


Susan, a young woman

Lad, a young man

An extended family sits in a living room.

AUNT: ...and what more need I tell you?

FATHER: (aside; others ignore) Everyone has disappointments.

UNCLE: I need only add that she was born beautiful and smart too.

MOTHER: Absolutely. But still, I’m waiting and wishing.

UNCLE: Soon enough, she’ll be making what they call a “power salary.” Ho-ho! Add ‘em up,

folks, add ‘em up!

FATHER: Mil, pass me those things, you know...the toasty cakes.

UNCLE: She’ll show up those damn neighbors. Can’t take the neighbors.

AUNT: (Rooting in purse.) Here’s the little telephone. She’ll use it as soon as she’s able!


MOTHER: What a magnificent girl and woman she’ll be someday--only...only....

FATHER: Only what?

MOTHER: Only, Howard, everyone, I’m afraid she’ll change, do you know? Then where

would we be?

UNCLE: What--

FATHER: Well, I should say--

MOTHER: How, don’t interrupt your brother-in-law.

UNCLE: Nonsense: she’s not going to change.

AUNT: I hadn’t even thought of it.

GRANDFATHER: Shut up about her! She’ll be fifteen tomorrow: what does she know?

UNCLE: (Pause; chewing.) Say, I thought she was older than that.

MOTHER: She is, I think. Older.

FATHER: Much older!

UNCLE: Now, never mind all that. Our Susan is outstanding and always will be—that’s

what matters! Straight A’s, captain of all the teams...

MOTHER: Nonetheless, I’ll be a little worried if changes! She’s so awfully smart right now.

What if she goes downhill?

UNCLE: Downhill would be rotten.

MOTHER: What if she changes?

AUNT: Anyone want another toasty?


AUNT: My, are these chewy!


Eating) Listen: I said my niece is not going to change.

MOTHER: I hope to God you’re right, Sal.


UNCLE: Now, now--it goes without saying that she’s in the lead and primed to get ahead.

And she’ll always be at the top in her class.

AUNT: But how do you know?

UNCLE: Because the numbers are in—haven’t you heard? Those who are at the top of their

class early in life stay there!

MOTHER: Oh, wonderful!

AUNT: Whoopee! Ha-ha.


Eating.) Humph.

UNCLE: Ha ha! Yeah, terrific!

GRANDFATHER: You pack of cretins! Get out of town!

FATHER: Oh, Father, go back to your cot! Someone take him to bed.

UNCLE: Now, let’s start from the beginning: Our Susan will make it big. She’s ripe for it; so

are we. Big money and fame, be it in New York or Hollywood... Uh, listen: We’ve

got the computer, don’t we? The Wagoneer? We’ve got the little phone too. Are we


MOTHER: Absolutely, Sal.

AUNT: Y’know, she has always made us proud.... Where the hell is she?

FATHER: In the attic.

MOTHER: Have some more toasties, everyone!

UNCLE: Now that we’re sure about everything, we can relax.

MOTHER: (Slower now, more thoughtfully.) Say, did I ever tell you about the eels?


Eating.) Eels?

UNCLE: Which eels were those now?

MOTHER : That was the day I lost my shoes. I’ve been remembering that time lately. The sun

was so hot on the cement; the day was just boiling—circles of heat. I couldn’t

escape. That was the week we moved to Georgetown. Gosh, I missed the house by

the river! The smell of it. The city was more like office buildings and fancy shops,

so sophisticated and full of pretend! I hated it. I walked a ways and passed the


market; I was pregnant then. There was a tank of eels in there, clear bubbling air

and water, the smell of brine. The eels—they were like slick, thick gray cables--

monsters really, muscled enough to choke a man! I had a crisis of confidence, as it

were. I couldn’t imagine why those awful eels lived on and cold and

terrible.... And I thought, what if my baby became like that, or if I did? I must have

fainted, because the next thing I remember I was looking into a policeman’s

nostrils. He calmed me with his smile. I really miss a nice, strong, smiling man like

that (

looks to FATHER.). I was unsure in myself after that.

GRANDFATHER: It wouldn’t surprise me if you gave birth to an eel, a real asshole of an eel,


UNCLE: That’s enough outta you. Get into your robe! Bring his medicine, someone. Get

the cotton balls!

MOTHER: Life is too strong, do you know? Too full of energy. Look at the eels, or even the

garden behind the house. The plants are so eager to grow; they won’t stop.

Monsters are like that, do you know? Something in it makes me sick, Sal...How?

Sis? Who can stop life for a while? Who’s going to?

FATHER: Well, no one can, Mother.

MOTHER: I got so distressed at the market that I lost my shoes.

FATHER: Ah, yes.

MOTHER: Well, I couldn’t help it! Later someone brought them to me--

AUNT: Goodness, I remember those shoes! Their color was of oxblood. With creases like

the palms of someone’s hands on the leather tops.

UNCLE: Say, didn’t the milkman find those shoes?

MOTHER: He brought them back the next day--

GRANDFATHER: The milkman was a terrible liar! A real shithead!

FATHER: Quiet!

MOTHER: …And do you know, I never got the odor out of those shoes?

AUNT: Well, I liked him. Young milkman. I talked to him every day before we moved. He

was part of us, in a way. Susan liked him.

UNCLE: Ah, our Susan sees the good in everyone.


AUNT: Oh, my, yes.

GRANDFATHER: I hate milk.

FATHER: I heard he died a few years back, of a split arm.

MOTHER: He did? Good night.


Turns away.)

FATHER: The milkman had a son.


AUNT: What...what did the son do?

UNCLE: Let’s see...oh, I remember--the milkman’s son was in school! He was studying to

be something big and good. He was going to be rich someday, I though. Ho-ho!

AUNT: Sal...are you thinking what I’m thinking?

UNCLE: Yes. Do you think our Susan would like this boy? What was his name?

MOTHER: What was it, what was it....oh, yes: Lad. Milk Lad, we called him.

UNCLE: Milk Lad—sure as shootin’, our Susan will love him to death! At twenty, she’s ripe

for this kind of thing! Get on the phone, someone! Ha! Bring him here by horse or

air! Where is our Susan, anyway?

GRANDFATHER: Where do you think, you little moron?

MOTHER: ...the way it went…a few years after Susan was born, I wasn’t as jittery anymore--

not about critters or plants, anyway. I got stronger, Sal. The new neighbors didn’t

bother me, nothing did. Do you remember how the neighbor actually came up to me

one day and asked me if I was uncomfortable on the street!?

UNCLE: Ah--hate the neighbors. Psychologists, probably. Look like rats.

AUNT: Now, now—no anger please, no opinions—let’s be cheery! I know: we’ll have a

party. For Susan and Lad. To show how we’ll be beside them all the way, for the

rest of their natural lives!

MOTHER: Oh, yes! Absolutely! ....But wait, wait. While everyone’s here, let me just ask

you all: In the end, what do you think our Susan will be?


UNCLE: Y’know, I was thinking about that just yesterday. I say she’ll be a beautiful news

anchor! She’s got the bones for it. Or some sort of property owner.

FATHER: Sal, you don’t know. Those are guesses.

AUNT: Oh, but they’re wonderful guesses! No one will top Susan!

MOTHER: ...Or stop her, because she’s ours! Oh, I’m just so excited about her life!

AUNT: Exactly. And I think even Wall Street....

UNCLE: Well, precisely. I’ve always thought so... She’s ours, isn’t she? She’ll reward us!

AUNT: ...What about a veterinary?


UNCLE: Listen. That’s not for our Susan! After all, she’ll have her whole life ahead of her.

Does she want to be covered in dog hair?

MOTHER: Listen, listen, she could lecture in physics!

UNCLE: That’s not exactly what I had in mind, either--

AUNT: Oh, isn’t it fun, being here together, all of us, every day?

MOTHER: It is, Mil. And you’re right: a party would say it best.

UNCLE: Ha! We’ll bring hats!

FATHER: Crackerjack.

MOTHER: Oh, we could hire a puppet show!

GRANDFATHER: God, I hate this! How could you bunch of *fools* have come

from my balls? Oooh, the shame of it is disgusting.

UNCLE: I was never near your balls.

AUNT: Let’s see...we’ll have pound cake....

FATHER: It’s a party?

GRANDFATHER: Go get her, someone, and let her face you sorry-ass excuses for a bunch of

mules! She’s up in the attic, dammit! Susan! (coughs.)


MOTHER: What about Susan?


FATHER: Will Susan be at the party?


AUNT: Milk Lad must come, so Susan must come too!

UNCLE: Anyone have a transistor? I forgot about the ballgame!

AUNT: Quiet, Sal. Of course she’ll come, How. Everything she should do, she does. Why

wouldn’t she come? Oh, the party will be a smash hit! What fun! Who’s saying

she won’t come? She’s ours, isn’t she? (Her arms spread wide.)


MOTHER: The front door opened! Someone flung it open!


UNCLE: Could it be---

AUNT: I don’t think so.

MOTHER: It might be her! Oooh, it’s the beginning of her success, her birth! I mean, her life.

GRANDFATHER: It’s not the front door, you idiots! It’s the wind, or a goddamn wounded


UNCLE: I say--

AUNT: Well, I really don’t think there should be a skunk at the party. I’d rather--

MOTHER: Wait! Look!

UNCLE: Shhh! It is Susan!


SUSAN walks in from behind top stairs and stands, dully surveying the scene as family gathers.

MOTHER: Susan? Oh, Susan Lynne Moneymaker! We’ve been chatting and planning, do you

know? We want so much for you, angel.



AUNT: Susan, we’ve just been talking and thinking about what you’ll be in life; oh, we

have our guesses and what-not, but the upshot is: we just can’t wait! Milk Lad is

coming tomorrow for your birthday. Won’t it be fun? I know you’re just going to

love him and all of it—the party, the revelry…. We’ll go quite late, I’m sure, so

please take a nap tomorrow afternoon.... I really thought Scrabble could be our

game of choice, if we’re up to it. …Such a cruel, overly-complicated game—

Martie, you know my best friend, she died last year after playing it--she was

holding the letter “W” in her have you been, Susan dear?

SUSAN quietly looks at all.

SUSAN: [in a strange light] That attic has been moldy, but it’s blue. I had a little to say, then

a lot to say, and now, nothing. Just streaks of dull thought. A flat shard of a body

isn’t my real self. A silhouette in this amazing cerulean blue, but my eyes feel

darker than water for drowning. Some shards are always falling off of me. Give me

that attic and seventy years to think about the color blue.

MOTHER: Well, dear, what we’re actually wondering is--

SUSAN : White and blue, that’s me. Which way is the way to think? Could I have chosen all

those lives to lead, uncle, auntie? A life on the street in spit and leather, a life at a

desk in a metal tower; in either case, a wide life, far too open-ended. There’s no

choice in choosing. Mother, Uncle, I get frozen sometimes; I’m on a mountain

between myself. Are you? I get frozen with myself and embryos; what are their

names? Francie, Sharon, or John? When you have to choose a life, the lives you

don’t choose get forfeited and dirty and you hate them. What was there to choose,

anyway? I forgot.

MOTHER: ...Uh, Milk Lad is on the way, dear. I know it’s earlier than expected, but this is

getting very important, so we’ve arranged it. (

Doorbell.) Oh, gosh, there he is!


Milk Lad enters door and is ushered in. He and Susan are arranged on the couch

side by side. The Family gathers behind couch and opposite chair, crouching, halfhiding,

looking on.


UNCLE: Tonight after the party, you and Lad’ll sleep on the rollaway, Susan, snugger ‘n

bugs! Won’t that be nice?

AUNT: And you’ll wake up in the morning together—isn’t that—won’t that be--

UNCLE: Oh, it’ll be—

FATHER: He’ll be hard as boulders then.

MOTHER: The point is, isn’t it wonderful to wake up next to the one you love?


Susan and Milk Lad remain motionless on couch. Susan momentarily gapes at Grandfather, then

Lad, then away.

UNCLE: They’ll proceed soon enough.

AUNT: They’ll do marvelously. (

Calling.) Don’t be nervous, dear.

GRANDFATHER: I lied. It’s not like I said--I didn’t hate the milkman! He tried to tell me

something, I remember.

FATHER: (pulling GRANDFATHER back.) Please, Father. Quiet now!

MOTHER: Susan, Susan, take your time.

AUNT: Aren’t they wonderful together?

UNCLE: Why aren’t they moving?

MOTHER: Well, because...they’re at the beginning of life, when one is still, and one waits,

and it is all so thrilling, do you know?

GRANDFATHER: The milkman loved the river!

AUNT: Stop about the milkman.

GRANDFATHER: --It’s true. We talked for a long time on the porch. That milkman told the

truth! He said there’s a house so fine and brilliant it seemed no human could have

built it. It was near the river, down where it got wide and cold. Glassy-like. He

knew where the brilliant house was and so did we--can’t you remember? It was

close to our own home, all right. Close enough. But then we had to move away, you

pack of louses. The milkman always got to go inside it, though, because he was the

milkman. He went into the foyer but he didn’t get in much farther. But he got in. He

told me the rooms were in balance, gentle in some way, and they even swayed a

little, like you would move in a tree. There were hanging bridges up high in that that as you walked, so you nearly floated! And something up there nearly

like a green forest with birds in the windows, and I mean birds—big, bright, talking

ones. The more I heard, the more I recognized that it was right, that house. The

milkman said it. He told me not to move away from the river, and I told you not to,

but we did, dammit! Gosh he knew so much about that house.

UNCLE: Well, he probably visited there on his day off, that’s all.

FATHER: Milkman.


GRANDFATHER: Ah, I wish I’d never heard of a milkman. (Turns to them.) Why did you

make me leave?!

FATHER: We’d never have gotten into that fine house, Father. Besides, that was such a long

time ago. Too weird for a house.

AUNT: Everyone, everyone, look at Susan and Lad!

MOTHER: So still. They’re like angels, aren’t they?

UNCLE: Soon their life will begin.

FATHER: Oh yeah.

AUNT: I say it’s sweet!


AUNT: Could they be dead?


UNCLE: They’re not moving.

Oh-ho, give ‘em a minute. They’re tigers. Their lives’ll begin in a moment, I’m

telling you.

MOTHER: We’ll be so proud.

You can visit Stacey Levine's fiction site below:

Copyright 2005 Stacey Levine

1 comment: