|Here's some good advice for us... and for the characters in my dumb play.|
A Spot of Tea
A Short Horror Radio Play
By Joe Blevins
A suburban home.
HOST Man, mid-30s. Insane but also very much in control of himself. Eerily calm.
GUEST Man, early-20s. Just a young, clueless meth addict.
MUSIC: Light classical, somewhat tinny, from boombox. (Continues under scene)
GUEST: (groggy, groaning, mouth has been gagged) Hmm...? Unnnnh....?
FX: Victim struggling at bonds – legs and torso duct-taped to chair, wrists and ankles handcuffed.
HOST: (also somewhat distant) Hello? Hello? Are you awake?
GUEST: (more muffled groaning sounds)
HOST: (voice coming closer) Oh, good. You're awake. Hello. It's so kind of you to visit me in my loneliness. I so rarely have visitors these days. You're probably still a little groggy, so let me bring you up to speed. (pauses for effect) You're in some deep shit. (laughs, recovers) Ah, but seriously, you ARE in some fairly deep shit here. You broke into my house last night. Do you remember? (pause, then louder) Do you remember breaking into my house last night?
HOST: Well, you did. Judging from the state of your teeth, you probably intended to rob me in order to feed your meth habit. Dontcha know that stuff'll kill ya? (chuckles mirthlessly) I'm not trying to pass judgment or anything here, but I don't think I'm too far wrong in my assessment. Well, as you have probably guessed by now, you picked the wrong house to rob. Oh, did you ever pick the wrong house to rob. First off, as you can plainly see, I have nothing even remotely worth stealing except maybe the tape player over there, but I'm not sure what they're paying for twenty-year-old cassette decks at the pawn shops these days. Secondly and more importantly, I am a seriously twisted and extremely dangerous son of a whore.
GUEST: (whimpers, now getting disturbed)
HOST: As you have no doubt noticed by now, you are nude. I had to do it. The duct tape sticks better to skin than it does to fabric. So it's not a sex thing, it just makes everything easier on my end, and plus I can make absolutely damned sure you're not hiding anything. I'm not gonna try and put my jimmy-hoo-hah up your whatzit, so you canbreathe easy on that count. By the way, I'm sorry about the chair. I realize it's a little small. It was my daughter's. She had this little table and chair set. Used to have little tea parties on it. Isn't that cute? It's some of the only furniture I've got left now. I eat my goddamned frozen dinners on that little table. She and her mom, they left over a year ago when I lost my job and everything turned to shit. (pauses thoughtfully, then chuckles) Listen to me, ramblin' on about my problems when you've got plenty of your own to worry about. Like, what is this sick fuck going to do to me?
GUEST: (whimpering more intensely now)
HOST: (calming, soothing) Shhhhhh! Shhhhhh! Calm down. Calm down. Hold on there, big boy. Hold on!
GUEST: (ceases whimpering)
HOST: That's it. Thaaaaat's it. Tell ya the truth, I hadn't really thought this thing through. I'm not much of a planner, as you can see. Some people, they know what they're gonna do today, and tomorrow, and next week, and next year. Not me. Judging from that “Bringing Sexy Back” tattoo you got on your arm, I'm guessing you aren't big on long- term planning yourself. Am I right? (pause; there is no response) (sighs) Oh, I do make the occasional attempt to get my shit together, so to speak. Like right after I saw that movie The Bucket List. You see that movie? (pause; no response) Eh, it was pretty good, though I wouldn't advise you to rush out and see it anytime soon. (chuckles) Anyway, after I saw that movie, I sat down and made me my own bucket list. I wrote all kinds of shit on there, stuff I wanted to do before I died. Crazy shit! Run a marathon. See Paris. Hug my daughter again. Just crazy, blue-sky shit. But you know, uh.... as you can see, my lifestyle has become a bit more modest in the last few months, so I scaled back my list a little bit. Made it a little more, shall we say, realistic. Paris – out. Marathon – out. Daughter (longish pause here) – out. (heavy sigh, then excited again) Would you like to see my bucket list? Hold on. I'll go get it. You wait right here.
FX: Footsteps walking away quickly. Sound of a drawer being opened, someone rifling through the contents.
HOST: (calling from other room) Hang on! I think I left it in here somewhere! Ah! Here it is.
FX: Drawer being closed. Footsteps returning, host coming closer to the guest. Then paper being unfolded and manhandled.
HOST: See here? This is my bucket list. I wasn't making that up. See? You'll notice all the crossouts. That was the unrealistic shit I had to get rid of. “Jump out of an airplane.” I'm never gonna do that. What the hell was I thinking? Ha! Look at this one – “Reconcile with Jenny.” Jenny, that's my wife. Ex-wife, I guess now I should say. I must've added that one to the list when I was drunk. I wouldn't take that old sow back now if you paid me a million dollars. Well, maybe if you paid me a million dollars... (laughs) You married?
HOST: Good. Good! That's real goddamned good. So at least you've made ONE smart decision in your life. That's one time I zigged when I should've zagged. But we make the decisions we make in life, and then we have to live with the consequences. Right? That's what life is. I mean, take your situation as an example. You had to know it was a risk breaking into my place, but you took a gamble and did it anyway. And now here you are. You rolled the dice, and it came up snake eyes. It happens. Forgive me for saying so, but it's no great tragedy. I think the world will get along just fine without you, and it's not like you're going to leave behind a grieving widow or anything. You got kids?
HOST: Good! You're a goddamned genius at making life choices! A regular Albert Fuckin' Einstein, right here in my own home. How 'bout that? Well, Mr. Einstein, let me tell you about the last item left on my bucket list.
FX: Manhandling the paper some more.
HOST: See this here? “Have a tea party.” A tea party – can you believe that? A grown-ass man like me wanting to throw a tea party. But I remember Chrissy – Chrissy's my daughter you understand – having little pretend tea parties for her dolls, and I dunno... it looked like fun to me. So now that I've got a guest – i.e. you – I'm finally gonna get to do it. And I'm all prepared. See?
FX: Picking up a paper bag, rifling through it.
HOST: I got the tea and everything. Lipton. That's a good brand, right? See?
FX: Shaking the box of teabags.
HOST: I know what you're probably thinking: this guy's gonna poison me or slip me a roofie or something. I'm gonna level with ya. I am a sick fuck, and you are in some serious fucking trouble, but this is just gonna be a tea party with regular tea. No poison. No roofies. No poisoned roofies. Just tea. Do you trust me? (pause; no answer; then louder) Do you trust me?
HOST: Great! Because you're gonna drink that tea one way or another, even if I have to pour it down your gullet through a fucking funnel. Now, let's see here... the instructions say to pour boiling water over the tea bags and let 'em brew for 3 to 5 minutes. I don't have an actual teakettle – Jenny took that – but there's nothing in here that says you can't just microwave the water, right? So you sit tight. I'll be right back. (starts humming “Tea for Two”)
FX: Footsteps leaving room. Pouring water into cups, setting them in microwave oven. Beeping. Then the hum of a microwave oven.
HOST: (singing “Tea For Two” from kitchen) “Nobody near us... to see us or hear us... No friends or relations on weekend vacations... We won't have it known, that we own a telephone....”
FX: Microwave beeps. Water poured into cups. Teacups set on metal tray. Footsteps and slight rattling as host carries tray into room. Sets tray onto table.
HOST: Ah! Here we go! Sorry there's no cookies or anything. I had some Vienna Fingers, but they went stale so I just ate 'em for dinner one week. Now for some practicalities. In order for you to enjoy this fine Lipton tea I'm serving, I'm going to have to take off your gag temporarily. You think you can handle that?
HOST: Okay, now don't make a monkey outta me here. I'm just gonna remove the gag ever so gently. Here... we... go....
FX: Tape being removed from face.
GUEST: (panting, softly) Ahhh... ahhhhh....
HOST: Okay, it's off. It's off. There, now that wasn't so bad, was it? (pause, louder) Was it?
HOST: Listen to that! He can talk! (chuckles) Now, I'm gonna let you have one – ONE! – arm free. Think you can handle that?
GUEST: (softly) Uh-huh.
HOST: That's what I like to hear.
FX: Unlocking handcuffs. Ripping off tape.
HOST: Okay, your arm's free. Seriously, though, don't try anything. You'll really, really regret it. You're nude and totally unarmed. Trust me on this. And here, good sir, is your teacup. How long you think this tea's been brewing.
GUEST: I dunno. Forty seconds maybe?
HOST: Close enough. Bottom's up.
FX: Host heartily sipping tea.
HOST: Don't be shy, little bunny. I swear to god. It's just tea. Have some.
FX: Guest reluctantly sipping tea.
HOST: There you go. Oh my god. This is just like the song. (singing) We will raise a family. A boy for you a girl for me. Can't you see how happy we would be? (speaking again) Enjoying the tea?
HOST: There's something I need to tell you.
SFX: Guest spitting out tea.
GUEST: (coughing, sputtering)
HOST: Tsk, tsk! Such a doubting Thomas! I TOLD YOU, there's nothing in your tea except tea. I didn't put any poison in your cup. (pause) I put it in mine.
SFX: Tea cup dropped onto carpeted floor.
HOST: This is no kind of life for a person to be living. I mean, how far do you have to sink for THIS to count as an item on your fucking bucket list? Pretty fucking far. So, like the selfish and melodramatic prick I am, I've decided to End It All, as they say. Goodbye cruel world, I'm off to join the circus. (laughs)
SFX: Host stands up from his chair. Sound of tape ripping from roll. Guest's mouth being
GUEST: (muffled) Oh, no. No, no no no no.
FX: A hard slap to the face.
HOST: (loud and angry for the first time) SHUT UP! (normal voice again) Sorry to do that, but I can't have you messing up my big death scene. This isn't about YOU, dipshit. This is about ME! Okay, tea time's over. The floor show's about to begin.
SFX: Re-locking the handcuffs, re-taping the arm.
HOST: Your job? Your job is to be my audience. Oh, and by the way, good luck getting out of here after I'm dead. I assume you'll simply starve to death in that miserable little chair in my living room. Lousy way to go, but again, you rolled the dice and came up snake eyes. So, uh, tough titty basically for you. But enough of that. I have a show to put on before this nasty medicine kicks in. “Will he make it, folks?” I'll understand if you don't applaud. (chuckles)
FX: Footsteps crossing room. Classical tape being stopped. Tapes being switched.
GUEST: (indistinct groaning)
MUSIC: Instrumental version of “Tea For Two.”
HOST: (singing) Picture you upon my knee. Just tea for two and two for tea....
MUSIC: Fades out.