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A Parody Outline of History(24)

2006-09-07 21:56

  Scene II

  A bare room in a boarding house. To the left is a bed, to the right a grand piano——the latter curiously out of keeping with the other cheap furnishings. The room is in partial darkness.

  The door slowly swings open; the Angel and the Professor's Son enter.

  The Angel——And here you have the room of your friend the Pawnbroker's Son—— the musical genius——with a brilliant future.

  They hide in a closet, leaving the door partly open.

  Enter Jean, the Pawnbroker's Son. He has on a cutaway suit—— a relic of his first and last public concert before the war. His shoulders sag dejectedly and his face is drawn and white. He comes in and sits on the bed. A knock——a determined knock—— is heard at the door but Jean does not move. The door opens and his landlady——a shrewish, sharp faced woman of 40——appears. He gets up off the bed when he sees her and bows.

  The Landlady——I forgot you was deef or I wouldn't have wasted my time hitting my knuckles against your door.

  Jean gazes at her.

  The Landlady——Well Mr. Rosen I guess you know why I'm here—— it's pay up today or get out.

  Jean——Please write it down——you know I cannot hear a word you say. I suppose it's about the rent.

  The landlady takes paper and pencil and writes.

  The Landlady——(Reading over the result of her labor)—— "To-day——is——the——last day. If you can't pay, you must get out "

  She hands it to Jean and he reads.

  Jean——But I cannot pay. Next week perhaps I shall get work——

  The Landlady——(Scornfully)——Yes——Next week maybe I have to sell another liberty bond for seventy dollars what I paid a hundred dollars for, too. No sir I need the money NOW. Here——

  She writes and hands it to him.

  Jean(Reading)——Sell my piano? But please I cannot do that——yet.

  The Landlady——A lot of good a piano does a deef person like you. That's a good one——( She laughs harshly). The deef musician——ho ho—— with a piano.

  Jean——Madam, I shall pay you surely next week. There has been some delay in my war risk insurance payment. I should think that you would trust a soldier who lost his hearing in the trenches——

  The Landlady——That's old stuff. You soldiers think just because you were unlucky enough to get drafted you can spend the rest of your life patting yourselves on the back. Besides——what good did the war do anyway—— except make a lot of rich people richer?

  She scribbles emphatically "Either you pay up tonight or out you go."

  Handing this to Jean with a flourish, she exits.

  He sits on the bed for a long time.

  Finally he glances up at the wall over his bed where hangs a cheap photo frame. In the center is a picture of President Wilson; on one side of this is a crude print of a soldier, on the other side a sailor; above is the inscription "For the Freedom of the World."

  Jean takes down the picture and looks at it. As he replaces it on the wall he sees hanging above it the bayonet which he had carried through the war. He slowly takes the weapon down, runs his fingers along the edge and smiles——a quiet tired smile which does not leave his face during the rest of the scene.

  He walks over to the piano and plays the opening chords of the Schumann concerto. Then shaking his head sadly, he tenderly closes down the lid and locks it.

  He next writes a note which he folds and places, with the key to the piano, in an envelope. Sealing and addressing the envelope, he places it on the piano. Then, walking over to the bed, he picks up the bayonet, and shutting his eyes for an instant, he steps forward and cuts his throat as the curtain falls.

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