Time

Lights up on a bare stage. JOE and KIP sit cross-legged in the center of the void. They wear nice dress clothes that nonetheless look like they have been worn (and slept in) for quite some time. JOE sits with his head in his hands, bored. Kip seems a bit more upbeat.

KIP: What time is it, Joe?

Joe does not respond at first, but quickly comes to and looks at his watch.

JOE: Four-ten.

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four-ten.

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four-ten!

KIP: What time is it?

JOE (sighs): Four-eleven...

He takes some cash out of his pocket, hands it over to Kip along with the watch. Kip counts his money excitedly. Joe puts his head back into his hands. There is a long silence.

KIP: Hey Joe, guess what time it is?

JOE: Four-eleven...

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four-eleven.

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four-eleven!

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four twelve?

Kip applauds. Joe angrily grabs more money out of his pocket, hands it over to Kip. Kip hands him back the watch.

KIP: What time is it, Joe?

JOE: Four-twelve.

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four-twelve.

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four-twelve!

KIP: What time is it?

JOE (sighs): …four-thirteenn...

He takes the money back out of his pocket and hands it to the elated Kip, along with the watch. He puts his head back into his hands. After Kip has finished counting his new riches and placed it into his pocket, he looks at the watch.

KIP: Hey Joe, guess what time it is?

JOE (bolts up): That's it, that's it - I can't do it anymore!

He storms away from Kip, all the way to the edge of the stage.

KIP: What's the matter, Joe?

JOE: This stupid game! I don't…I can't...

KIP: But I thought you liked our game, Joe. It's fun - look.

He holds up his winnings as evidence. 

JOE: Of course it's fun for you - you always win!

KIP: I like winning.

JOE: It's not fair.

KIP: What's not fair?

JOE: There must be something I'm missing...

He turns to Kip.

JOE: Unless you're cheating...

Kip is busy counting his money, barely paying attention.

KIP: What's that, Joe?

JOE: What are the rules, Kip?

KIP: Did you wanna win, Joe? Is that it? It's your turn...

JOE: I just want you to explain the rules to me, if you can do that. Can you do that? Huh? Are there even any rules? Because if so, I'd really be interested in hearing them.

Joe walks back across the stage as he says this, hitting every word harder and harder and leaning in expectantly towards Kip, who just stares back up at him, equally expectant. 

JOE: Well?

KIP: "Well" what?

JOE: You can't do it, can you?

KIP: Do what?

JOE: I knew it! There are no rules, are there?

KIP: You just think to much is all, Joe. You need to be more intuned with matters of the heart. Sometimes you just have to follow your gut. Be more…intuitary.

JOE: Intuitary?

KIP: Yeah…?

JOE: Do you even have any idea what in the hell you're talking about?

KIP: Sure. You know, like from the intuitary gland.

He points to the back of his head.

JOE: My god...

KIP: Didn’t you ever take science, Joe?

JOE: All this time...

KIP: Hang on, Joe, it’s my turn...

JOE: How long has it been?

KIP: Let me just...

He snaps the watch on his wrist. 

JOE: I thought you were outsmarting me...

KIP: I’m ready - go!

JOE: You’re just a cretin, aren’t you?

KIP: What’s a cretin, Joe?

JOE: How can I have been so blind?

Joe now paces in despair as Kip waits, fingers one the watch.

KIP: Is that like those things that you put on salad?

Joe stops.

JOE: Wait a minute...if that’s the case...

He claps his hands together triumphantly.

JOE: That’s it!

He runs and slides back into position next to Kip.

JOE: Alright, I’m ready - let’s play!

KIP: Do you mean it?

JOE: Of course I do! But, do you mind if you go again?

KIP: I don’t know...

JOE: I just want a fair chance to win my money back. You don’t mind, do you?

KIP: I guess not...

He takes off the watch, hands it and the money back over to Joe. Joe throws the watch around his wrist and stares at it intently.   

JOE: Are you ready?

KIP: I guess so...

JOE: All right - go!

KIP: What time is it, Joe?

JOE: Four-sixteen.

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four-sixteen.

KIP: What time is it?

JOE: Four-sixteen.

KIP: What time is it?

JOE (disbelief): ...four-seventeen...

KIP: I won again?

JOE: ...four-seventeen...

KIP: Twice in a row?

JOE: ...four-seventeen...

KIP: Has that ever happened before?

JOE: ...four-seventeen...

Lights go down.

Lights come back up. Joe and Kip sit in motionless silence for what feels like a very long time.

JOE: ...four-seventeen...

Lights go down.

Lights come back up. Joe and Kip sit motionless.

KIP: I’m bored, Joe.

JOE: That’s too bad.

KIP: Why can’t we play anymore?

JOE: Because I said so, that’s why. That game’s no good, anyway. We’re not playing that game ever again. We need to think of a new game. 

KIP: I have another game.

JOE: Is this a real game, or some stupid thing that you just made up?

KIP: Um...

He trails off into silence.

A beat.

KIP: How much longer do we have to wait?

Joe looks at the watch, shakes it and holds it up to his ear.

JOE: I don’t know - I can never get this damn thing to work...

Lights go down.

Lights come back up. Joe and Kip sit in silence for a beat.

KIP: Hey - I just thought of another game!

JOE: Kip...

KIP: A real one this time, Joe. I swear!

JOE: Really?

KIP: It’s perfect. Much better than the last one. I think you’re really going to like it.

JOE: I don’t know, I don’t think I feel up for another game...

KIP: Trust me, Joe, it’s great for you. More thinky, more serious. Me and my brother used to play it all the time. I think you would have liked my brother, Joe - he was a lot like you. Gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t even think about it until now. I guess I can be kind of a dope sometimes, huh, Joe?

JOE: Well...

KIP: Okay, I’ll start, and then once you get the hang of it, it can be your turn.

JOE: I guess so...

KIP: Cheer up, Joe - this is going to be lots of fun. Plus, if you’re good enough at it, you can win a lot of monies, like me.

JOE (Getting excited, despite himself): Really?

KIP: Absolutely. Are you ready?

JOE: I guess so.

KIP: Okay, here we go...

He takes a long pause, heightening the tension. Joe leans in, eagerly anticipatory.

KIP: What time is it, Joe?

Joe stiffens with shock and fury. His whole body clenches. There is a long silence.

KIP: Joe? What’s the matter? Are you confused, Joe? Do you need me to explain some of the rules?

Joe does not answer. He merely sits still, shaking with rage. A ball of fury. 

KIP: Joe...?

Lights go down. 

Lights come back up. Joe still motionless.

KIP: You’re never going to win if you just sit there and don’t even try.

No response.

KIP: Someone’s just a lazy bones, is all.

Lights go down.

Lights come back up. Joe still fumes, Kip still waits. 

KIP: Maybe I should go first. Do you think that would help?

No response.

KIP: I think maybe that would help.

He reaches over, takes the watch off of Joe’s wrist and places it on his own. 

KIP: Okay, now just pay attention, Joe, because this really easy and I think you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. 

He looks intently down at the watch, then back up at Joe.

KIP: Are you ready?

No response.

KIP: Okay...guess what time it is, Joe.

He looks up in anticipation of Joe’s response, but there is none.

KIP: Hey Joe, guess what time it is.

Nothing.

KIP: Do you know what time it is, Joe?

Zilch.

KIP: Joe...?

Joe jumps up, rushes towards Kip and wraps his hands around his throat, strangling him. His eyes burn with an inhuman fury as Kip tries to resist.

KIP: Ugh, Joe, this isn’t...I can’t...this isn’t how you play...Joe, these aren’t...can’t breathe...the rules...Joe, you’re...you’re hurting...I can’t...Joe...

JOE: What time is it, Kip?

KIP: ...Joe...

JOE: What time is it? What time is it? What time is it?! WHAT TIME IS IT?!

KIP: ...don’t...wanna...play...anymore...

The life slowly drains from Kip. His eyes roll back, and he goes limp. Dead. Joe holds onto his neck a little longer, just be sure, throttling one or two extra times, and then lets down and lets him drop to the ground with a dull THUD. He looks down at the body, runs a hand through his hair, tries to catch his breath. He stares down at Kip, just waiting for him to jump back to life and start talking again.

JOE: Well? 

No response. Kip is dead as dead can be.

JOE: Hah!

He claps triumphantly, sits back down next to the body, finishes catching his breath. He begins to breathe big, deep, meditative breaths, completely absorbing the newfound silence around him.

JOE: Oooooh, boy. That’s much better Don’t you think? Absolutely. I mean, just listen to that peace and quiet. Boy, in fact, I’d say that this is the most rewarding time we’ve spent together in...well, ever! 

He laughs, loudly. It echoes and bounces back to him, scaring him a little bit. He instinctively moves closer to Kip’s body then, realizing what he has done, slides back even further away. He once again begins to enjoy the solitude, but slowly starts to get fidgety, anxious, repositioning himself a lot in order to find a spot that’s comfortable. After a while he starts to get bored, check his watch.

JOE: Hmm...

He starts whistling to himself, but quickly stops, as if fearful of the possible echo. He looks around at his vast surrounding, starts to feel a bit overwhelmed. He once again scoots just a little bit closer to Kip’s body. He checks his watch again. Shakes it, holds it up to his ear. 

JOE: Son of a bitch doesn’t ever wanna...

He steps back towards Kip’s body, starts tapping him on the shoulder as if to wake him up. 

JOE: Kip? Come on, Kip, wake up already. Quit screwing around, this isn’t funny anymore. Wake up. Come on, Kip, dammit, I mean it. This isn’t funny! Come on now, will you--?

He shakes him, softly at first, but with increasing aggression. Still no luck.

JOE: Well fine, goddammit, be that way!

He turns away, grunts petulantly. He sits with his back to Kip for a beat, but soon breaks down and turns back.

JOE: I’m sorry, Kip, I just...Look, I didn’t mean to yell at you, okay? Now come on, do you want to play, or not? Huh? Let’s play again, it’ll be fun. Come on. I’ll go this time, how about that? I think I’ve got it down, now. That’ll be fun, won’t it? If I start? Huh, Kip? Kip!

Silence.

JOE: Well fine, then, if you’re going to be a baby about it, who needs you?! That’s fine with me - it’s not going to stop me from having fun, that’s for goddamn sure. You sure as hell’ve got another thing coming if you think it is. Don’t you? 

With a bit of strain, he is able to lift Kip’s stiffening body into a sitting position and prop him roughly into his old position. He takes off the watch, places it on Kip’s wrist.

JOE: There, you see? I told you. Now, are you ready? Okay, that’s more like it. And...what time is it, Kip? What time is it? What time is it? What time is it? Hah!

He claps triumphantly, reaches into Kip’s pocket and takes out the money. 

JOE: You see? I told you that I’d figure it out eventually. You better watch out - you’re not the best around anymore, are yah? Thought you were invincible, I bet. Huh. What’s that? Sure, why not? I’m nothing if not fair.

He takes the watch off of Kip’s wrist, places it on his own.

JOE: All right, are you ready? Eleven-o-five. Eleven-oh-Five. Eleven-o-five! Eleven-o-six. Damn it!

He takes out the money, stuffs it back into Kip’s pocket.

JOE: Okay, fine, maybe I spoke too soon, no need for you to get cocky about it, is there? I gave you a chance to win your money back, you did fair and square, and I didn’t welch, did I? That’s right, so there, you see? Everything’s fine. No hard feelings. Just like old times...

There is a long silence.

JOE: All right, look, I’m sorry, Kip, all right? Come on, is that better? Is That what you wanna hear? Well, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Okay? God, you really know how to make a fella feel guilty, don’t you? Jesus. I didn’t mean any of it, I just...well, okay, so I kind of lost my temper there for a while, I’ll admit that. I was just frustrated because you kept on winning is all. You can understand that, can’t you? I guess I was just jealous, is what it boils down to. All right? Are you happy now? Well come on, goddammit, answer me! It’s really shitty of you to just sit there while I pour my heart out to you like this and not even acknowledge it, you know? Think of how that makes me feel, you just sitting there after I’ve apologized and everything, just trying to make me keep feeling bad. You know what’s even kind of funny about it? I was just kidding about the whole thing anyway? Heheheh. You big baby - I was never really angry at you at all. And you make me go off and do all this. I really is hilarious, the more I think about it. Hate the game. Hate the game? Hah, how coul d I--? Hahahaha, it’s really...I mean, just think about it...hahahahaha

He succumbs to an extended fit of laughter. It slowly fades and leads into a long silence. 

JOE: No, come on, you’re not an idiot. What kind of talk is that? I know I said it, but what did I just tell you? Of course I knew it was a joke. “Those things you put in salad.” That’s pretty hilarious, I have to give you that. You’re almost as funny as me, really. No, I’m serious, I mean it. Yes, of course I take it all back, now will you stop? I know, I suppose I did go a little too far there at the end, what with the choking and all, but, you know...you’ve got to learn to take a joke a little better, is all. You know? Hey, it’s okay, there’s no reason you have to apologize to me for it, I just want you to know so that you can learn to do better. Well, I appreciate it, but really, it’s not necessary. All right, all right, fine - if you absolutely insist. Apology accepted, I forgive you. Now let’s just drop it at that, okay? All right. Well good, I’m glad that we got that all settled and squared away, too. What? Oh, well, I don’t...well, okay, I mean, if you insist...

He leans over and hugs Kip’s dead body, for quite a long time, then he carefully sets it back into place.

JOE: Yeah, I know - I love you too, buddy. I just hope that we can put this whole mess behind us and just forget about it all and move on. Hell, I mean, when you think about it it’s probably for the best that it happened, in the end. You know? Give us a chance to get all of this shit off of our chests, clean out some of the bad blood. Yep, nothing but smooth sailing from here on it, right buddy? Blue skies all the way, pal. Hey, hey, you know what? I’ve got an idea - let’s celebrate. Let’s play a game, huh? No, trust me, you’ll like it, it’ll be lots of fun, I swear. Me and my brother used to play it all the time. Are you ready? All right, let’s go...four-ten. Four-ten. Four-ten! Four-eleven. Hot damn, buddy - you won your first time out! That’s pretty impressive - are you sure you’ve never played this before? No, no, no, I know,  know, I’m just kidding...

He hands Kip the money and the watch.

JOE: See, I told yah. Now we’re having fun, huh? Just like old times...

Lights go down. Curtain falls.

END OF PLAY.

- cs