The Book 2

© 2014 Lyf Stolte

! WARNING: language !

The room is dark except for the nearly dead light emanating from the lamp on the side table in the corner. There’s a glass of water, an ashtray, a spoon which has recently been used in the processing of reality altering substances, and a little red book. The sound of light rain and a gentle, brash breeze are heard. SLAM! a door opens and closes and there is a stomping of feet off stage.

JILL (o.s.)

Woah. Where did that come from?

BOB (o.s.)

Lucky for us we were only a block away eh?!

JILL (o.s.)

Yeah. I hope nothing has changed.

BOB (o.s.)

We weren’t gone for that long. Besides, if I cooked the chicken properly then we shouldn’t need to worry about it for at least another several hours.

BOB and JILL make their way into the room. Their coats are off, but their heads are wet and their pants are slightly wet as well. They got caught in the mild storm, but you can’t really tell. They were sensible in how they dressed when they left. JILL puts on her house coat. BOB is trying to warm up and JILL hands him his house coat. They both look cozy and BOB goes to light the fireplace. A gentle glow lets us know that the fireplace is lit and the room is begining to warm up.

JILL walks over to the lamp, fiddles with the cord to see if she can make the light brighter, but it’s no use. The lamp flickers, and so JILL decides it’s better to stop while she’s ahead.

JILL

I wish this damn thing would work properly.

(notices something is amiss)

Hey Bob?

BOB

Yeah babe?

JILL

Umm, are you sure you cooked the chicken properly?

BOB

(a little annoyed)

I cooked it the way I always have.

JILL

Fair, however it’s been a while since you cooked anything for yourself. You sure —

BOB

(a little more annoyed)

Yeah, I’m sure, ok? Now wouldja please just relax? We’ve got time.

BOB is feeling much warmer now and goes over to JILL and gives her a hug.

BOB

(trying to relax himself)

I know you’re concerned babe, and I appreciate your concern. I really do. I’m sorry if I sounded annoyed just then. You’re right, it has been a while, but I do remember how to do it.

JILL hugs BOB, but she’s not entirely present. Her gaze wanders to the lamp, the spoon, the glass and the book.

JILL

I am sure that you do Bob, but look…(she tries to direct his gaze to the table)…it doesn’t look right.

BOB is not paying attention to the table, he is fully and completely in the embrace and only glances haphazardly at the table, and then looks back at JILL. He studies her face longingly and moves in for a kiss.

JILL

(noticing BOB’s advance)

Oh Bob. Not now please.

BOB

(very annoyed)

Would you stop it with the “Bob” nonsense? I mean c’mon! We’ve been together for 11 years now.

JILL

(unimpressed)

11 years is not that long, not when it comes to this. And please LOOK!

JILL grabs BOB’s head and directs it at the table. BOB takes JILL’s hands from his head and grunts reluctantly, but does look at the table.

BOB

I don’t know what’s gotten into you but it looks fine. It looks just like how we left it.

JILL

Look carefully.

BOB

PLEASE! Stop being so cryptic! I can’t STAND it!

JILL

Fine. Look at the glass and the spoon.

BOB

The glass and the spoon. Ok.

BOB looks closely. He makes a show of it, getting his face ridiculously close to the spoon and then to the glass. After a long, theatrical examination, he straightens up.

BOB

I honestly can’t see what you’re talking about. Why can’t you just tell me.

JILL grabs BOB by the elbow and takes him close to the fireplace. As she pretends to warm her hands by the fire, she whispers to BOB.

JILL

(whispering)

Because it might hear us.

BOB

(not whispering)

Who cares?

JILL

(whispering)

Lower your voice!

BOB

(still not whispering)

I honestly don’t know what’s gotten into you.

JILL

(whispering)

Please, please, please whisper!

BOB

(finally whispering)

O-K!? That better? Now, seriously, tell me what’s wrong.

JILL

It’s not as “out of it” as we think. I think it’s more aware than it should be.

BOB

That’s impossible. The shit I cooked — (JILL shoots him a look) — Sorry, the “chicken” I cooked was nearly 100% organic. There’s no way it’s “aware” (mostly to himself) whatever the fuck that means.

JILL has heard this and stares daggers at BOB who bows his head, mumbles a phrase of something in a wrinkled english, gestures gently and blows on the fire.

BOB

Happy?

JILL

Thank you Bo-, I mean hon.

JILL puts her hand on BOB’s cheek and he looks delightfully surprised. It’s amazing how little it takes for BOB to be contented.

BOB

Ok. So. Um. Well, what needs to be done? I need to cook more of the organic elements?

JILL

No! Sorry. I just think that would look to conspicuous.

A moment. A long, chilly moment. The lamp flickers, BOB jumps, JILL becomes like a statue. BOB grabs onto JILL’s shoulder, steadying himself. Something’s not right though. BOB’s hand hurts and he takes it off her shoulder as though it burned him. He shakes it out, and looks at JILL who has not moved yet. He puts his hand to her cheek. A flicker from the lamp and BOB is hurled, wickedly on the ground. His hand won’t move, it’s petrified. The lamp dims, not flickers, and then brightens exponentially more than before.

The fireplace dims slowly, and then dies. The only light left in the room is that provided by the lamp. BOB is suddenly cold, very cold, he clutches his housecoat about him and stands up slowly. He’s thirsty. He makes his way to the glass, but just as he reaches out for it, there is a boom of thunder and then there is blackness. Utter and total and consuming blackness. This lasts for far too long. In the midst of the blackness we can hear BOB shuffling away from the lamp, the book, the glass and the spoon. A door opens and closes. Then silence.

The fireplace slowly begins to glow again. As the light begins to expose the gloom and chase the darkness away, we see a woman in a housecoat, in BOB’s housecoat, but it’s not BOB. NOT BOB goes to the fireplace, mumbles in a smooth and clear not-english, closes her eyes and touches JILL’s cheek with her finger. JILL crumples to the ground, but she’s breathing. NOT BOB kneels beside her, takes her head in her hands and kisses her lips, breathing into her. JILL’s eyes flutter open. She slowly takes in the woman before her and her eyes bulge open! She scoots away from her as fast as she can. JILL leaps up, looks at the fireplace, at NOT BOB, then looks at the table. Nothing has changed.

NOT BOB

I agree babe. There is something odd going on over there.

JILL

Are we —? Is this —?…

NOT BOB

(whispering)

We are. This is.

JILL

(whispering)

Do we need to start over?

NOT BOB

(whispering)

Not as such. A simple replacement was all that was required. Look.

NOT BOB gestures towards the table. JILL looks and the lamp is still off, the book is there, the spoon is still burned, but the glass is now full.

NOT BOB

(whispering)

See? A minor reset was all that was needed.

JILL

(sure, but not quite sure)

I see.

(breathes deeply)

In that case…

(not quite knowing what to do next)

Shall we…Um, well, I mean, there is still some chicken left.

NOT BOB

I do not think that would be wise.

JILL

Why are you talking like that?

NOT BOB

Ok. So maybe more than a little reset was needed. The chicken wasn’t organic.

It dawns on JILL and she goes white as a ghost. Her eyes become huge and she backs away. NOT BOB smiles knowingly, goes over to JILL and takes her in a hug. She holds her close, but she doesn’t hold her back.

NOT BOB

(whispering)

I know what you’re thinking. Hug me. It is advisable.

(JILL puts her arms around her)

Good enough. Now. We will put our jackets back on, go outside and look for the quill. That’s what’s out of place here. THAT is what you noticed.

(JILL nods in mechanical agreement)

Good. Now. (She pulls back a bit and kisses JILL, she lets her) There.

JILL smoothes her house coat, so does NOT BOB. They look at each knowingly and then laugh. The lamp begins to come back on, imperceptibly slowly. JILL’s laugh almost becomes manic, before NOT BOB touches her cheek gently and affirmingly. JILL calms down and begins to leave. NOT BOB follows her out. As she is about to exit, she looks back at the lamp which is now as bright as it was in the beginning. NOT BOB goes to the table, takes the spoon, and the glass.

NOT BOB

I will let you sort this out between the two of you. Clearly there is unfinished business. Leave our partners out of it next time.

NOT BOB drinks the water, and places the spoon and the water in her pockets. She leaves. The sound of the front door opening and closing echoes in the space. The lamp glows, flickers, and steadies itself. There is no response. The lamp dims slowly and then brightens again. The book suddenly falls off the table and the fireplace goes out in a puff.

* FIN *

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