Dale Andersen

27702 Crown Valley Parkway
Suite 117, D-4
Ladera Ranch, CA 92694
(562) 508-5820
andersen.dale@gmail.com

A BETTER PLACE
By
Dale Andersen

Cast of Characters
Ali………………Mongrel
Artie…………Pug
Becky…………Australian Cattle Dog
Brick…………Akita
Cyril…………German Shepherd
Shawna………Cocker Spaniel
Coyote1……Coyote
Coyote2……Coyote
Note 1: Becky doubles as Marine in Act II,
scene 5.
Note:

The factory can be an actual prop, set of
props, or something as simple as a set of
chairs tied together. Or it can be mimed.

2
Synopsis
Introducing Becky, the high-spirited and courageous
Aussie Cattle Dog. She arrives at the pound, having
been dumped there by her owners and immediately sets
about shaking things up. There's also Cyril, the
sinister, power-hungry German Shepherd. And Artie, the
irrepressible Pug. And Brick and Shawna and Ali. How
these six interact to keep clear of the Grim Reaper
serves to conjure up the magic of the play.
A Better Place was developed at the South Coast
Repertory Practicum. It made the O’Neill Playwrights
Conference short list. It’s had staged readings in Las
Vegas and Off-Broadway.
Logline
Six dogs trapped in a pound. What is a pound, but a kind of
death camp in which the culture is up or out, move up to a
new owner or be carried out paws first? A dog eat dog world.

Cast of Characters
Ali………………Mongrel
Artie…………Pug
Becky…………Australian Cattle Dog
Brick…………Akita
Cyril…………German Shepherd
Shawna………Cocker Spaniel
Coyote1……Coyote (doubling)
Coyote2……Coyote (doubling)
Marine………Bearded (doubling)
Note 1: Becky doubles as Marine in Act II,
Note 1: Ali doubles as Coyote1 in Act II, scenes 4 & 5.
Shawna doubles as Coyote2 in Act II, scene 4.
Becky doubles as Coyote2 and Marine in Act II,
scene 5.
scene 5.
Note 2: The factory can be an actual prop, set of
props, or something as simple as a set of
chairs tied together. Or it can be mimed.
Setting & Time/Place
The setting is the common outdoor area of an animal shelter.
Visible are (1) a fence marking the border, (2) a central
meeting space and (3) a factory. The time is now. The place
is here.

3
ACT I
Scene 1
(Big sign high up: “This Is Your Animal
Shelter” Most prominent feature: huge
brightly-colored windowed lockable mailboxes
on back wall with a space above each for
sliding a name plate in or out. The name
plates read: ARTIE, BRICK, ALI, NATALIE,
SHAWNA. A trash can next to mailboxes. On
back wall away from mailboxes is a door
leading to “Room 101” A lone mailbox
labeled CYRIL is next to door. A crude
factory at center stage with a huge clock
and a factory whistle. Clock reads 5PM.
CYRIL stands next to his mailbox, singing to
himself, as is his wont)
CYRIL:
Doowah
Doowah
Bum ba bum
Ba bum bum
Doowah
(Enter ARTIE, with hair slicked back and a
clip-on bow tie. Tries sneaking past CYRIL)
CYRIL:
That’s Artie. He’s a pug. Pugs dig. Gardeners hate
them. Hey there, Artie! How’d it go, little guy?
ARTIE:
(Screeches to halt)
Oh hi Cyril. Uh, not real good.
guess it was okay.

No wait uh I mean uh

CYRIL:
Can’t be both not good and okay.
ARTIE:
Oh uh um yeah you’re right there. Well uh at first it
was not real good. Then later it got okay. A little
boy really liked me, but he didn’t take me.
I see, okay, well.
Um Cyril?

CYRIL:
Better luck next time.

ARTIE:
You seen my mom?

CYRIL:
Your mother wasn’t with you?

4
Uh uh.

ARTIE:
All by myself. I’m kinda worried.

CYRIL:
Why didn’t you say something?
ARTIE:
Thought she’d turn up.
CYRIL:
I’ll keep an eye out for her. Next time you let me
know. I’m responsible. Capish?
Sure.

ARTIE:
You think she’s okay?

CYRIL:
She’s fine.
(Points to the Room 101 door)
I’m sure she’s there in the big house with Maxeen.
get on the line. You’ll cover for your mother.
Of course.

Now

ARTIE:
Kay.
(ARTIE goes to mailbox, checks mail, then to
factory and sits at workstation. Begins
fiddling with buttons, switches and levers)
Careful there.

CYRIL:
Don’t start up the line yet.

(ARTIE stops fiddling.

Drums fingers)

CYRIL:
Doowah
Doowah
Bum ba bum
(Enter SHAWNA, very upset. Her hair is
overly done up and she has tons of makeup)
CYRIL:
Shawna. Cocker spaniel. Always on pins and needles.
Hi there Shawna. How’d it go?
SHAWNA:
(Storms past CYRIL as if he’s not there)
I am losing it. I am so losing it.
CYRIL:
What’s the matter, Shawna?
She has issues.
keep her on a short leash.

I try to

5
(SHAWNA goes to mailbox, checks mail, then
spots ARTIE, makes a beeline for him)
SHAWNA:
That little boy was mine. You had no right.
ARTIE:
Didn’t steal him.
Don’t lie, you did.

SHAWNA:
He was mine, mine!

He was mine!

ARTIE:
Wasn’t!
SHAWNA:
Was
ARTIE:
Wasn’t!
SHAWNA:
Was! He was looking at me. Then you jumped up in
front of him. That’s forced recognition. That’s a no
no, you little sneak.
ARTIE:
Wasn’t jumping, foot went to sleep. I was shaking it.
Cyril.

SHAWNA:
Please explain the rules to Artie.
ARTIE:

I know the rules!
SHAWNA:
It’s so unfair. He was set to choose me. He would’ve if
Artie hadn’t butted in. It’s not fair, not fair.
ARTIE:
Didn’t do nothin.
SHAWNA:
Liar!
CYRIL:
Time for me to step in. Shawna, please calm down.
SHAWNA:
You see? It’s always me. What about him?
always on his side. I have a side too!
(SHAWNA, crying, exits)

Everyone’s

6
CYRIL:
Here we go again. Shawna, you get back here! Do you
hear me? Get back here! She has to come back here.
Sooner or later. There’s no other place to go.
(Enter BRICK & ALI,
over by the exiting
elaborate pompadour
French braid. They

who are nearly bowled
SHAWNA. BRICK has an
and ALI’s hair is in a
both look ridiculous)

ALI:
Hey, watch it there, willya?
BRICK:
Was that Shawna?
Typical cocker.

ALI:
Going in fifteen directions at once.

CYRIL:
Doowah. Bum ba bum. Ba bum bum.
Ali. Paragons of domestic bliss.

Doowah.

Brick and

ALI:
Hi Cyril.
BRICK:
Cyril.
ALI:
Nobody came by our cage.
BRICK:
Well, technically, one person did.
Maxeen doesn’t count.

Maxeen came by.

ALI:
She’s not going to adopt us.

BRICK:
Our cage was way at the other end
ALI:
As far away as you can get from the front
BRICK:
Without bumping into coyotes.
ALI:
When you barked
BRICK:
You could hear an echo.

7
ALI:
And poor Brick worked so hard on his appearance.
BRICK:
Tell you the truth, I feel silly in this.
(Re-enter SHAWNA, head down. Eyes red from
crying. CYRIL glares at her)
ALI:
Oh Brick, that style makes you look very distinguished.
Like one of those televangelists.
(SHAWNA pushes by BRICK & ALI)
Excuse us! We were standing here!
(SHAWNA goes to her workstation and sits)
BRICK:
Hair styling is for poodles and artsy-fartsies.
ALI:
Grooming is important.

Brick, dearest.
Ali’s right.

CYRIL:
My Lord, is he ever henpecked!

(ALI & BRICK go to mailboxes, check mail)
ALI:
Take two dogs. Everything equal, temperament, posture,
markings. The dog who minds his looks wins.
BRICK:
She right, Cyril?
She’s right.

CYRIL:
Please don’t tell him I used the h-word.

BRICK:
Cyril says you’re right, darlin.
ALI:
Course I’m right.
(ALI & BRICK go to factory and sit at their
workstations. CYRIL blows on a whistle)
CYRIL:
People, you had the afternoon off. Time to make it
up. We have a tip top production line. We produce
first-rate grommets. Three sizes. Eight colors. Thus
we pay back you who through your taxes make this stateof-the-art facility possible. Go ahead, Artie!

8
(Factory clock 6PM. ARTIE presses button,
whistle sounds. ARTIE, SHAWNA, ALI & BRICK
commence working line. Set darkens with
lights flashing. Factory sounds. BRICK
calls out numbers over factory sounds……one,
two, three…up to twenty-four. When he calls
out a number, ARTIE repeats it. When they
get to twenty-four, the lights come back up,
factory sounds cease. Clock reads 9PM)
CYRIL:
How many, Artie?
ARTIE:
Uh, twenty-four.
CYRIL:
That right, Brick?
BRICK:
Check.
CYRIL:
Shut it down.
(ARTIE presses button, shuts down line)
CYRIL:
Nine o’clock, people. Time to break it off.
one and all, chop chop. Bed time.

Come on,

ALI:
Cyril, next time please give us a better cage.
Sure, Ali.

CYRIL:
No problem. Next time, we’ll do better.

And remember.

ALI:
Brick and I go as a couple.
CYRIL:

Sure, Ali.
ALI:
They can’t take one of us without the other.
CYRIL:
No problem.
ALI:
Our cage should be front and center. After all,
Brick’s an akita. That should count for something.
BRICK:
Awwww.

Stop it, Ali.

9
(ARTIE gets up and quietly begins to exit)
ARTIE:
G’night, folks.
CYRIL:
(Taps ARTIE as he passes)
I’ll watch for your mom, Artie.
BRICK:
Stop bugging Cyril, willya darlin?
CYRIL:
It’s no problem, Brick. She’s a pain in the butt.
ALI:
Is something wrong with Natalie?
CYRIL:
Oh Jeez, here we go. No, Natalie’s fine, Ali.
Maxeen’s probably got her in the Big House.
ALI:
Not serious, is it? Poor Artie. Pup needs his mom.
(Pats ARTIE’s head. Gives him a squeeze)
Don’t you, Artie?
BRICK:
Darlin.

Calm down.

CYRIL:
I’m sure it’s something very routine.
ALI:
I’ll say a prayer. Just in case.
CYRIL:
When I find out, I’ll let you know.

Promise.

ALI:
Let’s all say a prayer for Natalie.
Darlin.

BRICK:
Cyril said it’s not serious.

Come on now.

ALI:
You never know. It can happen just like that.
(Snaps her finger)
Cyril, our cage has to be close to the front next time.
You’ll remember, won’t you?
CYRIL:
I won’t forget.
Come on, darlin.

BRICK:
Night, Cyril.

Night Shawna.

10
ALI:
Artie, dear. You come with us, poor little boy.
(Produces a milkbone, gives it to him)
Here, I saved this from last night. You take it.
ARTIE:
Gee, thanks.
CYRIL:
Night.
(BRICK, ALI & ARTIE exit.

ALI snubs SHAWNA)

SHAWNA:
Um look.

I’m sorry.
CYRIL:

Doowah
Doowah
Bum ba bum
SHAWNA:
Um. I know what you’re gonna say. I fly off the
handle. I’m working on self-control. I really am.
CYRIL:
(Still not looking at her)
Bum ba bum.
She needs to sweat a bit.
SHAWNA:
I admit it. I’m feeling lotsa pressure. Not getting
any younger.
And they always go for young ones. Like
Artie. Sorry. I just lost it in there when he.
CYRIL:
Fact is, you’ve lost it a lot lately, haven’t you?
We like happy dogs. Cooperative dogs.
Dogs that can
fit in and contribute to the general weal. A dog that
keeps losing it. That’s not a happy dog. Capish?
(Silence)
I didn’t hear you, Shawna.
SHAWNA:
Yes.
CYRIL:
Fact. Fewer than half make it out of here. Imagine two
dogs running in the field. One is taken, one is left.
Two dogs napping side by side. One is taken, one is
left. Watch yourself. Be alert. For you know not the
when, the how or the why. I’ll be watching you,
Shawna. I’ll be expecting a measureable change in your
conduct, capish?
Capish?

11
SHAWNA:
Yes.

All right.

CYRIL:
You may go.
(SHAWNA starts to exit)

CYRIL:
The next three days, you’ll give Artie your milk
biscuit.
SHAWNA:
But.
CYRIL:
Any questions?
SHAWNA:
No, sir.
CYRIL:
Then go.
(SHAWNA exits. CYRIL switches off a light
and exits in opposite direction. Blackout)
End of ACT I

Scene 1

12
Scene 2
(Midnight. Chicken wire fence bisects
stage. Stage left, a cactus bush. Stage
right, sign up high reads “Dog Pound.”
Insect sounds. Two shadowy figures enter
stage left leading BECKY on leash. She
follows. They tie leash to fence. One
whispers in BECKY’s ear and pats her head.
BECKY smiles, nods. They exit, leaving her
alone. Silence. Coyote howl. BECKY looks
nervous. Another howl, this time closer.
Shadows. More nervous reaction. CYRIL
enters stage right. He looks back, makes a
hurry-up gesture to someone offstage. BECKY
scrunches down to hide)
CYRIL:
Doowah. Doowah. Bum ba bum. Dee dee dee. Come on
now. Let’s shake a leg there.
(BRICK enters stage right. He’s combed his
hair out. He holds up deck of cards)
Ah yes, the cards. Very good there, Brick my man.
BRICK:
Ali worries too much. She went out like a light.
(CYRIL switches on light. They build a table
and seats from materials at hand. A howl)
Shhhh. Listen.
(They both listen. A coyote howls)
Hear that, Cyr?
CYRIL:
Barely.
Coyotes out there.

BRICK:
Maybe three or four of ‘em.

(Another howl, closer.

Shadows dance)

CYRIL:
I can’t make out where they are.
BRICK:
Just over there. Not far. They’re coming closer.
(Another howl. ARTIE enters & stands
silently. Presently, BRICK senses ARTIE)
Artie! Aren’t you supposed to be asleep?
(Coyote howl.
Uh.

Can’t sleep.

Shadows dance)

ARTIE:
Owoooooooooooo!

13
BRICK:
(Winks at CYRIL)
Shouldn’t have done that, boy. Now they heard.
they know where you are. You better go hide.

Now

(CYRIL & BRICK complete the table & seats.
They sit. BRICK shuffles the deck)
Um whatcha gonna do?

ARTIE:
Play cards?

BRICK:
Naaaah, we’re just gonna sit here and pick our feet.
Course we’re gonna play cards. Whatdja think?
ARTIE:
Kay if I play?
BRICK:
(BRICK sets shuffled deck on table)
I dunno, it’s a little late. Checked with your mom?
It’s okay, Brick.
I dunno.

CYRIL:
Let him play.

BRICK:
Natalie’s kinda strict.

His mom won’t mind
She back yet?

CYRIL:
Still in the big house. If Nat fusses, I’ll vouch.

Oh boy!

ARTIE:
(Takes a seat at the table)
Thanks!

BRICK:
(Indicates CYRIL should cut)
Kind of a switch. Usually, you shoo the pups away.
CYRIL:
(Cuts deck)
Well, Artie’s growing up. Time he learned about life.
(BRICK deals)

Yeah!

ARTIE:
(Takes his cards, arranges them)
Life!
(They ante up, ARTIE sneaks peek)
CYRIL:

Dee dee dum De dum

14
ARTIE:
Awooooooo.
BRICK:
Stop baiting the coyotes.
CYRIL:
Let him be, Brick
(ARTIE grins)
Dum de dum De dum De dum.
Buncha thugs.

BRICK:
Kill you as quick as look at you.

CYRIL:
I heard somewhere coyotes are monogamous
ARTIE:
What’s monog?
CYRIL:
Means they take a single mate and stay loyal
ARTIE:
Like humans?
BRICK:
God help you they catch you alone, they just pile on.
CYRIL:
I heard they go for the neck
BRICK:
Nawww, they go for the gut.
ARTIE:
If I see one, I’ll bite ‘im on the foot.
The gut?

Like chomp!

CYRIL:
You certain of that?

BRICK:
(Tosses in a chip)
Neck’s too small. Could miss. The gut’s right there.
Rip you open. Your blood, innards and organs spilled
all over the ground and it’s kiss-your-tail-bye-bye.
(ARTIE copies BRICK.

Tosses in a chip)

ARTIE:
I’d go “Chomp.” He’d go “Ouch!” Then he’d bend down.
Then I’d bite his nose. Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!

15
CYRIL:
Got to disagree. I was told it was the neck.
BRICK:
Who told you?
Maxeen.

CYRIL:
Maxeen said so.
(BECKY coughs)
ARTIE:

What was that?
BRICK:
Maxeen said so?
Well, maybe she’s right.
all the knowledge. Maybe it is the neck.

Humans have

(BECKY coughs louder)
ARTIE:
What was that?
BRICK:
What was what?
ARTIE:
That cough.
(BECKY coughs again)
There it is! At the fence!
(BRICK & ARTIE start to run to the fence)
CYRIL:
Wait!
(They stop)
Always think safety first. Brick, you go first.
Stop!

(BRICK takes a closer look.
BRICK:
Well, look here.
ARTIE:
Oh wow!

A lady.

CYRIL:
Well goodness gracious sakes alive
She’s beautiful.

ARTIE:
Look at her red fur.

Sees BECKY)

16
BRICK:
Well now, darlin. Who might you be? What’s the
matter, darlin, cat got your tongue? I’m Brick, the
German Shepherd is Cyril, the little pug is Artie.
ARTIE:
Wow.

You’re pretty.

BECKY:
Thank you. G’day and my name is Becky. My owners, Chip
and Crystal, told me wait for a staff representative to
process my admittance to this facility.
(Coyote howl, very close)
Uh hey, you guys!

ARTIE:
Coyotes out there!
CYRIL:

Ever hear of barking?
BECKY:
I’m an Australian Cattle Dog. Bred not to bark unless
it’s urgent. Barking for its own sake is bloody silly.
BRICK:
Darlin, first rule of doghood is, when in doubt, bark.
BECKY:
Thank you. And don’t worry, I shan’t be here long.
Just until the paint dries at my owners’ house. I’ll
stay out of the way and be quiet as a mouse.
BRICK:
Good plan, darlin. I always say, if you can’t run with
the big dogs, stay on the porch.
Hellooo!

Coyotes!

ARTIE:
Uh can we get her inside?

(A coyote howl, close by.

Shadows dance)

BECKY:
(Suddenly becoming frightened)
Yes, please, hurry!
CYRIL:
Yes! Brick, you stand guard here with her!
I will bark for the security guard.
(CYRIL & ARTIE exit.

Loud barks.

End of ACT I Scene 2

Artie and
Blackout)

17
Scene 3
(Enter SHAWNA. She goes straight to her
mailbox, takes key on string from around her
neck and opens it. She takes out several
letters. Opens one & reads)
SHAWNA:
Booster shots on Friday. Hate shots.
(Tosses letter in trash can. Opens next
envelope. Removes contents)
Junk mail. Toss.
(Tosses letter in trash can. Opens next
envelope. Removes contents. Reads)
Science Diet. Hmmmmmm.
(Checks herself in mirror. Tears coupon from
letter. Tosses letter in trash. Opens last
envelope. Removes bright red dog collar)
Oooooooh nice. I like. I like.
Akkkkkkkk!

(Dons collar.

Likes it.

Enter BECKY)

BECKY:
G’day.
SHAWNA:
Hello?
BECKY:
G’day!

Uhhhh.

SHAWNA:
(Backs away, assumes defensive stance)
May I help you?

BECKY:
(Circles her, grinning)
I say, that is a nice collar.

Collar?

SHAWNA:
(Continually turning to face her)
What collar?

BECKY:
The collar around your neck.
SHAWNA:
Oh, you this?
Just remember it’s mine!
You’re making me dizzy.
BECKY:
(Stops circling)
Sorry.

Mine!

18
SHAWNA:
(Stops turning. Dizzy)
Whoo!
(Regains her equilibrium)
Do I know you?

There.

BECKY:
Rebecca’s the name, but you may call me Becky.
Australian Cattle Dog. ACD for short.
Oh.

Oh yeah.

I’m an

SHAWNA:
I’ve heard something about ACDs.

BECKY:
Of course you have. Everyone has. We’re the smartest,
most beautiful, most loyal, most affectionate, hardest
working dogs in the world. Practically in the entire
universe. Did you know the real Lassie was an ACD?
No collie could cross a river of burning pitch with a
secret message in her mouth. We almost sued for
identity theft.
SHAWNA:
What I heard was, you herd cattle.
BECKY:
Herd cattle? Well yes, we do that on occasion. It’s
certainly part of our job description. In fact, we are
undoubtedly without peer at herding cattle.
SHAWNA:
Well, how hard's that? Keeping cows from wandering.
It’s not like what cockers do. Flushing game from dense
brush. Retrieving waterfowl from icy streams. Walking
behind cows, stepping in their poop. Ewwwwww!
BECKY:
What did you say?
SHAWNA:
The groatiest mongrel in China can herd cattle.
BECKY:
You take that back!
SHAWNA:
Try and make me.
BECKY:
(Circling again, growling. Loud)
All right. That’s it. Brace yourself for a bust up.

Come on!

SHAWNA:
(Circles her, bares teeth, growls. Loud)
Bring it right in here, big mouth!

19
(Enter CYRIL from Room 101 door. Door stays
open with shadowy outline of MAXEEN inside)
Stop, you two!

CYRIL:
Maxeen heard!

Pipe down right now!

(They ignore him, circling and growling)
SHAWNA:
You come any closer, I’ll tear a hole in that nose!
BECKY:
Prepare to say ta-ta to your ears, Floppy!
about to get the what for!

You’re

CYRIL:
Stop it. Now!
I said now!
Shawna, is that you
causing trouble again?
I’m very disappointed in you.
(They pay no attention, as they are focused
on their fight. The shadow makes a sudden
move and a shoe sails past BECKY’S head)

Oh God.

SHAWNA:
(Sees shoe. Sees Cyril)
I’m in trouble again.

BECKY:
(Pointing to the shoe. Excited)
Oh good-o! I know. I’ll go fetch the shoe.
SHAWNA:
(Loud whisper out of side of mouth)
No!
BECKY:
But don’t they want me to fetch the shoe?
SHAWNA:
(Loud whisper out of side of mouth)
They want you to shut up.
CYRIL:
(Stepping between BECKY & SHAWNA)
Break it up! I say break it up!
(CYRIL gestures menacingly at SHAWNA)
Back away from her now! Now means now! Back off!
(SHAWNA backs away. CYRIL gestures
menacingly at BECKY)
And you! Back away and stand right there! Stand still
and pay attention!
(BECKY backs away)
Hear me now. No more fighting. No more bad words. Be
nice or be locked in the cage.

20
(Room 101 door slams shut)
CYRIL:
All right, she’s gone back to her reading, thank God.
You have explaining to do, Shawna. What was it all
about this time?
BECKY:
Oh, well now. Just a small matter. My fault actually.
Nothing to get worked up over. I can explai - CYRIL:
(Overlaps)
Excuse me. This happens to be my domain.
BECKY:
But she - CYRIL:
(Overlaps)
I suggest you keep out of this. You’re new here, no
doubt unfamiliar with the performance deficiencies of
certain of my charges. Now stand aside and be still.
Oh.

Well.

Yes.

I’m.

BECKY:
I’m sorry.

CYRIL:
(Points to SHAWNA’s collar)
Give me that! I can only assume you stole it.
(She removes it quickly)
You’re a thief at heart. I'm growing tired of this.
(He throws collar on ground)
I'm in charge. Yet you persist in acting like nothing
I do is important. You think it’s all a silly game.
You’re a stupid idiot!
You can’t see the trouble you
cause. Why am I saying this?
What can one expect
from a cocker? You’re a sorry excuse for a dog.
You've really done it
this time. You’ve gotten me in dutch with Maxeen.
After I went to bat for you. I assured her you were
improving. I guaranteed her you were changing. And
now this.
SHAWNA:
I’m sorry.

I was.

CYRIL:
(Overlaps)
Shut up! I get so very frustrated with you when you
ignore me. Shawna, learn to keep your mouth shut. The
way to get my approval is to avoid temptation.
To
turn your face away. Now don’t deny it. You started
this fight. Am I right?

21
SHAWNA:
Yes, sir.
CYRIL:
To improve, you must work at it. Improvement takes
effort. Effort and discipline. To that end, you will
devote thirty minutes each night to writing “I will
avoid trouble” on the chalkboard. Do you understand?
SHAWNA:
Yes, sir.
CYRIL:
Your efforts have been pitiful. Stand in the corner!
(SHAWNA stands in corner.

She whimpers)

CYRIL:
Sorry you had to see that, but it was necessary.
you are Becky. Have you settled in?

So

BECKY:
I think so, yes. Everyone’s been quite nice. But
please don’t make a fuss. I shan’t be here long.
Yes.

CYRIL:
I recall your mentioning painters.

BECKY:
My owners, Chip and Crystal, want a green theme for the
house. Green signifies wisdom.
CYRIL:
Exactly. As in Dante’s Inferno, where the noble pagans
like Socrates dwell in a meadow, spending their days
philosophizing on the green, as it were.
BECKY:
My, you’re quite cultured.
CYRIL:
My mistress was a professor of classical philosophy.
Miss Rosa. Everyone called her that.
(Tears up briefly)
Miss Rosa.
Brilliant woman. She had a wonderful
technique for remembering anything. She called it the
two word method. Here, let me demonstrate.
BECKY:
Oh no, you don’t have to. It’s all right.

22
CYRIL:
Oh, but I insist. Take names of philosophers, for
example. Socrates. Two words. Socks and boxes. Take
socks. What is the singular of socks? Sock. Next
boxes. What is another word for boxes? Crates. Ergo,
Sock crates. Accent on the last syllable. Socrates.
Miss Rosa said you can do that with any Greek name.
Are your owners that clever?
BECKY:
Oh no doubt. Chip’s an accountant. He’s always flying
somewhere. He counts things for people. It’s all very
abstruse, numbers not being my strong suit, but they
pay him to count, and we do have a blue BMW. You have
to have at least a PhD to have a blue BMW. I heard
that somewhere. But Chip can really be overbearing
sometimes. Always saying we can’t possibly understand
his work. My word! As if we’re poor demented children.
Crystal gets very upset when Chip goes into his
superiority act. And who can blame her? She’s has a
tip top mind. Absolutely tip top. She’s my very closest
gal pal. We watch TV together. And every afternoon at
three, while she’s on the treadmill, we listen to books
on tape. I’ve learned about John Stuart Mill, J. D
Salinger, Danielle Steele. And Dante.
CYRIL:
I am impressed.
BECKY:
Well, it’s simply we ACD’s are ultra curious. Which is
why we’re so intelligent. But, I must admit, half the
time we find a way to muck it up. Curiosity kills more
than just cats, you know. Crystal said, “Rebecca C.
Poindexter.” The C is for canine. “Rebecca C.
Poindexter, you’re so curious there’ll be green paint
all over your paws.” So voilà! Here I am. Just till
the paint dries. Now don’t worry. We ACDs are famous
for our work ethic. If there are any chores to be done,
just whistle. Now please don’t take this wrong, but
isn’t it a bit dreary in here? At Mutt Mansion, where I
stayed when Chip and Crystal went sky diving, they had
a jolly human with milk bones in his pocket.
CYRIL:
We have an overnight security person.
BECKY:
One human on the mid watch?
At Paws and Claws, where
I stayed when they went white water rafting, there were
three girls named Charlotte, Emily and Ann.
CYRIL:
After the Brontë sisters.

23
Exactly.

BECKY:
Their sole task was to pet the dogs.
CYRIL:

Indeed?
BECKY:
The cats, too. But you know cats. So je ne sais quoi.
CYRIL:
If I recall, your owners will be back to get you soon.
BECKY:
Yes.

That’s right.
CYRIL:

Do we know when?
BECKY:
Crystal said soon.
CYRIL:
But we don’t know exactly what time.
BECKY:
However long it takes for paint to dry.
CYRIL:
Of course. I asked about the exact time because I want
to be up and about when they return.
BECKY:
Oh?
CYRIL:
To say a proper good bye.
BECKY:
How very courteous of you.
Enjoy your stay.

Cyril.

CYRIL:
Remember, my name is.

BECKY:
(Overlaps)
I remember from the fence.

And thank you.

(CYRIL exits. Silence. Then...)
SHAWNA:
Is he gone?
BECKY:
Yes.

24
SHAWNA:
Thank God.
(SHAWNA turns away from wall)
BECKY:
Aren’t you supposed to keep looking at the wall?
SHAWNA:
Yeah.

Right.

BECKY:
He’s certainly giving you the rough end of the
pineapple. What did you do?
SHAWNA:
(Picks up collar. Puts back it on)
Nothing.
Oh come now.

BECKY:
You must have done something.
SHAWNA:

Nothing, I tell you.
BECKY:
Hard for me to believe a cultured and educated person
like Cyril would be unfair.
SHAWNA:
Yeah, well, believe what you want. No one’s holding a
gun to your head. Anyway, you’ll learn in time.
BECKY:
Afraid not. I’m going to be here for just a few hours.
I heard Cyril call you Shawna. That’s a nice name.
SHAWNA:
It’s not a nice name. It’s an okay name.
name, is all. Becky’s an okay name too.

It’s my

BECKY:
Thank you. My owners, Chip and Crystal, gave it to me.
So.

SHAWNA:
They feed you and pet you?

BECKY:
Oh yes. They take me for walks to show me off. People
would point and say, “What kind of dog is she?.” Chip
would say, “She’s an ACD.” “Oh, she’s beautiful.”
SHAWNA:
My owners used to take me for walks.

25
BECKY:
What happened?
SHAWNA:
One day I was there, the next day I was here.
BECKY:
How long have you been here?
I don’t know.

SHAWNA:
Two months maybe.

BECKY:
Two months? Cripes! What’d your owners do? Go on
safari to the moon?
(SHAWNA begins sobbing)
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. Please don’t cry.
SHAWNA:
I tried so hard. Gave them everything. I thought they
liked me. I thought I was doing really good. Then the
woman said I made her nervous when I stared at her.
All I was doing was watching her. I thought they liked
that.
BECKY:
It’s all right. Cheer up. You’ll bounce back. You
will. Those people don’t deserve a clever dog like
you. Don’t cry. Please don’t cry.
I hate crying.
Tell you what. I’m going to do you a favor. When Chip
and Crystal get back, I’m putting in a good word. They
do whatever I say.
They know many quality people.
We’ll get you someone who deserves a world-class dog.
Get you set up in a nice home pronto.
SHAWNA:
You’d do that for me?
BECKY:
I am so giving. But then, it’s common knowledge ACDs
are the most generous and brave of all breeds.
Did
you know we were decorated for gallantry and valor in
World War II and Korea AND Viet Nam? Giving that last
full measure of.
(SHAWNA rolls her eyes)
Sorry. Get carried away. You and I, Shawna. We’re
going to be friends. Mark my words, with my charisma
and your uh um whatever, the sky is the limit. My
stars, it’s been hours and hours since I had a nap.
And I am dog tired. Think I’ll have a lie down.
(Blackout)
End of ACT I Scene 3

26
Scene 4
(CYRIL enters through Room 101 door, leaves
door open. Inside, shadowy outline of MAXEEN
is seen)
CYRIL:
(Speaking not in his normal voice. He is
“channeling” MAXEEN’s voice)
What you do is, if the dog’s really out of control, you
throw a towel over him. Then you can grab him by the
neck and stick him in the ribs up here. You wanna get
the heart or something so they go out like a light. I
learned you never name them. ‘Cause if you name them
and then you have to put them down. That's a hard
thing to do. Remember, the dog does not suffer. It's
a very humane way of going. We sound like such fools
sitting there with them, hugging them, whispering, it's
okay, angel, you're going to a better place, there’ll
be chewtoys and you can run and play all day and a
little girl named Stephanie will hug you and love you.
Don’t cry, angel, please don’t cry. It calms them
down. At first I never said what it was I did. Now I
say, you know, we all die. It’s a fact of life.
(A milkbone is tossed out the door onto the
ground. CYRIL picks it up, eats. Door
closes. Spotlight on ARTIE in a cage. A
flashing red light above Room 101, lasting
three to five seconds, accompanied by an
ominous sound, then back to normal. CYRIL &
ARTIE stare and shiver)
ARTIE:
Did you see that, Cyril?

Wha!

What was that?

Yes.

CYRIL:
(Now in his normal voice)
I saw, Artie. I saw

Well.

Well, what.

ARTIE:
What was it?

CYRIL:
How would I know? How would anyone know? It may be
the wind or sparks in the air or it may have to do with
the configuration of the stars and planets and their
relationship one to another. Now be still. Hold your
questions and give me some peace.
(Snaps fingers, blackout on ARTIE’s cage.
Slides NATALIE’s name plate out from above
her mailbox, leaving it blank)

27
CYRIL:
Dum de dum. Dum de dum. De dum. Doowah. Natalie’s
gone, gave up the ghost. I for one will not miss her.
Not miss her bad manners or her puggish disputatious
ways. To be blunt she’d worn out her welcome. And I’m
not ashamed to admit I played a part in sending her to
another level of existence. Be assured it was for her
good and ours. Look. Don’t be quick to judge me.
People always say how they’re not being judgmental, but
you and I know better, don’t we? In any event, judging
or no, I know about place. I know about karma. I know
of discretion. And I know of survival.
(CYRIL snaps fingers. Spotlight on ARTIE’s
cage)
ARTIE:
Uh hey Cyril.

Cyril!

(CYRIL exits without acknowledging ARTIE)
Mom.

ARTIE:
Mom, are you there?

Mom.

(Enter BECKY)
I know you.
Oh yeah.

BECKY:
You’re Artie. You’re the pug.

ARTIE:
And you’re Becky. You’re pretty.

BECKY:
My, you do know how to flatter.
ARTIE:
Have you seen my Mom?
BECKY:
I’m not quite sure. I’m still a bit of a blow-in here,
you know. Still meeting everyone. So many dogs here
to say g’day to. And while we ACDs are noted for our
prodigious memory, I’ve had so many names and faces
thrown at me, to be honest, it’s been all such a blur.
Tell me, what does your mum look like?
ARTIE:
Kinda like me, except she’s darker and kinda old.
she snaps at people.

And

BECKY:
No, sorry. Don’t believe I’ve met her. Oh, and by the
way, I want to express my gratitude to you for
rescuing me from the coyotes.

28
ARTIE:
S’okay.
BECKY:
I can’t help but notice you’re in a cage.
ARTIE:
I’m, you know, just kinda hanging around.

Oh, this?

BECKY:
Never heard of hanging around inside a cage. Certainly
not one this primitive. My owners, Chip and Crystal,
built a cage for me. They call it a dog run and it’s
where I work out. It has speakers so I can jazzercise.
Are you up the creek with Maxeen?
ARTIE:
No.
BECKY:
It’s all right, Artie. You can tell me. Did you upset
her? Is she punishing you?
What did you do?
ARTIE:
Nothing.
BECKY:
You’re saying, she put you here for no stated reason?
ARTIE:
I was sitting licking myself thinking about my mom and
she came up, grabbed me by the neck and here I am.
Hmmmm.

BECKY:
Seems to me you’re not in a good wicket.
(Silence)
ARTIE:

Becky?
BECKY:
Yes, Artie.
ARTIE:
Do me a favor?
Of course, Artie.

BECKY:
Anything for my favorite pug.
ARTIE:

Check my mail for me?
I’ll try.

BECKY:
How would I do that?

29
ARTIE:
(Points to mailboxes)
Just go up there, find the box marked “Artie” and peek
inside the little window.
(BECKY does so)
BECKY:
Nothing inside the box, Artie.
ARTIE:
Okay.

Thanks. Becky.

BECKY:
Were you expecting something?
ARTIE:
No.

Guess not.
(Silence)

ARTIE:
Listen, couldja do one more thing for me?
BECKY:
Certainly.
ARTIE:
Couldja check my mom’s mailbox?
Okay.

BECKY:
I think I can do that.

What’s your mum’s name?

ARTIE:
Natalie.
Natalie.

BECKY:
That’s a lovely name.
(Scans all the mailboxes)

BECKY:
I see Artie, Brick, Ali, Shawna. I don’t see a
Natalie. Are you sure this is where hers is?
ARTIE:
Thought it was.
BECKY:
Perhaps it’s somewhere else.
Yeah.

Somewhere else.

ARTIE:
Maybe Maxeen moved it.

30
BECKY:
Are you going to be all right, Artie?
ARTIE:
Yeah, I’ll be fine.
BECKY:
I’ll be back later to visit you.

Cheerio.

ARTIE:
Thanks, Becky.
(She exits)
Where are you, mom?

ARTIE:
Where are you?

(Blackout)
End of ACT I

Scene 4

31
Scene 5
(BRICK, ALI and SHAWNA enter. BRICK has an
elaborate pompadour and ALI’s hair is in a
French braid. They both look ridiculous.
SHAWNA’s hair is overly done up and she has
tons of makeup)
ALI:
(Dripping with sarcasm)
Marvelous. Just absolutely marvelous. Now that was a
really quality viewing. Say what you will about
Maxeen, her people sure know how to put on the dog.
BRICK:
I am disappointed in Maxeen and Cyril. Our cage should
have been up front. I expected a better spot.
ALI:
No one came. Not one person. How is that possible?
You would think someone would drop in by accident. How
could no one come? Don’t these people ever advertise?
Haven’t they heard of the Penneysaver?
BRICK:
Darlin, didn’t we ask Cyril to get us front and center?
I remember we did. I remember he said he would.
ALI:
There was no one there to answer questions. No one
there to help with the adoption paperwork. No
brochures. No coffee. No cookies. No doughnuts.
This is no way to run a railroad.
BRICK:
I recall your asking Cyril for a better cage for us.
ALI:
It was just one big typical government snafu.
BRICK:
You could not see the main entrance from our ca - ALI:
Oh, will you shut up about the cage?! Who cares about
the cage?
Who cares about the cage when no one comes?
BRICK:
Well, darlin, I was just saying how Cyril prom - ALI:
(Overlaps)
Cyril promised?! Cyril promised?! To heck with Cyril’s
promises! Cyril’s promises aren’t worth diddly!

32
SHAWNA:
Hey! Careful what you say about.
(Looks around to check for lurkers.
stage whisper)
About Cyril.

In

ALI:
(Turning on SHAWNA. Bellowing)
Listen, cocker. I say what I want. Anytime.
Anyplace. Anywhere. No one tells me.
SHAWNA:
(Overlaps. In stage whisper)
That big mouth of yours will get us in trouble.
BRICK:
Yes, you need to be careful, darlin.
ALI:
You shut up, Brick. Listen, cocker, I say what’s on my
mind. I say what me and Brick are thinking.
As for
you.
SHAWNA:
(Overlaps. In stage whisper)
As for me, do me a favor? Next time you decide to fly
off the handle, include me out.
ALI:
Hunh! I’ll bet you’re thinking about sneaking off to
tell Cyril. I know your kind. You’re a scheming
little snake. Anything to keep the pot bubbling.
SHAWNA:
Look, I’m just a dog trying to do what it takes to get
out of here. What I don’t need is a big mouth getting
me in Maxeen’s dog house.
ALI:
You little worm. Keep talking like that, you’ll get
yours. As for the dog house, what I heard was, you’re
already in it. And I heard you did it all by yourself.
Grrrr.

SHAWNA:
That was a mean thing to say.

ALI:
Oh, you haven’t seen mean yet. I can be mean as a
junk-yard dog. Come on, Brick.
Yeah.

BRICK:
Guess it’s time to get back to the line.

33
(BRICK & ALI exit in one direction. SHAWNA
exits in the other)
BRICK:
(From offstage)
Uh, Darlin, can’t you try to get along with Shawna?
ALI:
(From offstage)
Oh Brick, you’re so wishy-washy.
you around by the nose.

No wonder Cyril leads

BRICK:
(From offstage)
Cyril does not!
(Enter CYRIL with book and framed photo.
Holds up framed photo. Spotlight on CYRIL)
CYRIL:
Taken a year before she passed on.
(Sets photo aside. Holds up book)
Her favorite book. Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
Miss Rosa said Marcus was the smartest man ever.
Smarter than Martin Luther King. Smarter than Albert
Einstein. Smarter than Socrates. Do you see these
pages folded over?
She called them dogears. That was
her joke. She’d find a passage she liked. She’d read
it and then she’d say, let’s dogear that page, Cyril.
And I’d bark and she’d say, good boy. She never cursed
me. She never kicked me. She never scolded me. She
always said, good boy, good dog.
(Opens book)
From Book Seven of the Meditations.
(Reads)
“A play on the stage, flocks of sheep, herds of cattle,
exercises with spears, a bone cast to the dogs, a bit
of bread into the fish-pond, the laborings of ants,
puppets pulled on strings. All these are alike.”
(Closes book)
Puppets pulled by strings. How very apt. I awoke before
dawn. I heard the cats in the kitchen, hissing and
growling. Something wasn’t right. I walked in and
there she was on the floor. Barely moving. I drew
close. She was breathing with difficulty. Water. Her
lips formed the word, water. I gave her my tongue.
She licked and smiled. She whispered, good boy. Oh
please don’t die, Miss Rosa. Please don’t. Please.
What would happen to me? Where would they send me?
How would I get by? But she couldn’t hear and sometime
in the next hour, she crossed the bridge. What do you
do when the one you love dies before your very eyes?
Well, you stay. You show respect. So I and the cats
formed ourselves into a kind of honor guard. Marcus
Miss Rosa.

34
CYRIL(Cont):
Aurelius, being a soldier, would have approved. We
stayed till noon, fending off the bugs and the rats.
Then her son came. And she went away forever.
(He snaps his fingers. Behind him, the
darkened stage with lights flashing and
sounds of the factory running. Sound of
BRICK calling out numbers over the factory
noise……fifteen, sixteen, seventeen……up to
twenty. When he calls out a number, SHAWNA
repeats it. When they get to twenty, the
stage lights slowly come up and the factory
sounds cease. BRICK, ALI and SHAWNA at
workstations. The clock reads noon straight
up. CYRIL stands next to his mailbox,
keeping watch and looking important)
CYRIL:
How many, Brick?
BRICK:
Twenty.
CYRIL:
That right, Shawna?
SHAWNA:
That’s a roger.
CYRIL:
(Nods to BRICK)
Very well.
Shut it down.
(BRICK presses button, shuts down line)
CYRIL:
Twelve o’clock noon, people. Time to break for lunch.
Come on, one and all, chop chop.
(ALI & BRICK groan as they stand up at their
workstations & stretch. SHAWNA ducks out of
her work station and exits running)
ALI:
(Watches SHAWNA exit)
Shawna’s turning into a big time stick in the mud.
Thinks she’s too good for us.
CYRIL:
Dum de dum
De dum

35
Look.

ALI:
He’s alone, Brick. Go talk to him.

BRICK:
All right, all right. Stop pushing me.
(To CYRIL)
Uh Cyr. Got a minute?
CYRIL:
For my good friend Brick, anything.
BRICK:
What’s going on with Artie?
CYRIL:
What about Artie?
BRICK:
Maxeen’s got him in a cage.

What about him!?

CYRIL:
Yes, I see she does.
BRICK:
Well?
CYRIL:
Well what, Brick?
ALI:
Tell him.

Tell him, Brick.
Well look.

BRICK:
It’s wrong.

Uh.

It’s just not right.

CYRIL:
Not right. Perhaps it’s not right.
it’s not necessarily cruel
Not cruel?

It’s.

ALI:
Tell him it’s inhuman.
BRICK:

Inhumane.
ALI:
Yeah!
So.

Inhumane.
BRICK:
So whatcha gonna do?
CYRIL:

Do?

But then again,

36
ALI:
Tell him he’s a pug, Brick.
without. Without this.

Pugs got enough problems

BRICK:
Cyr please, you gotta do something.

Be quiet, Darlin!

CYRIL:
But what can I do?
BRICK:
You’re tight with Maxeen. You can put a bug in her
ear. If Artie’s in the doghouse, you can maybe - CYRIL:
(Overlaps)
I really don’t see how - ALI:
(Overlaps)
Push him harder. C’mon now. Get him to help. Cyril
can do it, just needs a push. Stop being so humble.
BRICK:
Don’t call me humble.

I’m not humble!

ALI:
You’re supposed to be an akita.
Stand up and say your piece.
Okay okay.

I will.

Start acting like one.

BRICK:
Now just let me handle this.

ALI:
As long as you handle it.
BRICK:
I said I’ll handle it. Look darlin, why don’t you just
wander off and let me and Cyril talk turkey.
ALI:
Well.

Okay.
BRICK:

That’s my darlin.
(She wanders out of earshot)
CYRIL:
She certainly doesn’t have much patience.
BRICK:
She’s one of those emotional female types. Volatile.
Like a cat on a hot tin roof. Wears me out.

37
CYRIL:
Sometimes I find her to be a disruptive influence.
BRICK:
I’ll have a talk with her. I promise.
Do that.

CYRIL:
Why this sudden concern for Artie?

BRICK:
Aww, you know.
Artie’s little guy and he looks small
and helpless. And these chicks. They get all mistyeyed and their hearts go out. He’s like a baby seal.
CYRIL:
It’s the mothering instinct
BRICK:
Bingo. She made me swear to bring it up to you.
Fine.

CYRIL:
I’ll look into it
(ALI returns)
ALI:

Well?
BRICK:
He’s gonna look into it, darlin.

Aincha, Cyr?

CYRIL:
Yes, absolutely
ALI:
Thank you, Cyril.
(Enter SHAWNA and BECKY.
nose up in the air)

SHAWNA has her

ALI:
Well, look who’s back. Miss Too Good To Talk To Us.
She’s with that windy Aussie.
(CYRIL blows on a police whistle)
Gather around, people.

CYRIL:
I have news about Natalie

ALI:
Oh, let’s pray it’s good news.
SHAWNA:
All I know is, Natalie snapped at me.

For no reason.

38
No reason?
People.

ALI:
You tried to swipe her milkbone.

Hah!

Quiet please.

CYRIL:
I have news

SHAWNA:
Up your patootie, Ali.
ALI:
In your dreams, shark bait.
People please.
Shark bait?
Hey hey!

CYRIL:
A few minutes of quiet.

SHAWNA:
Grrrrrrr!

BRICK:
Pipe down, everybody!
BECKY:

What’s going on?
SHAWNA:
Shush!
BRICK:
SHUT! UP!
(Angry stare until everyone shuts up)
OK, Cyr, you got the floor.
HEY!

CYRIL:
First I want you all to know Natalie passed away.
Oh God, no!

SHAWNA:
Oh noooooooooo! Poor Artie.
ALI:

I’m so sorry.
CYRIL:
Her passing was peaceful. She’s in a better place now.
Be assured she is happy
(ALI starts to quietly sob)
Let us not be sad for her. Let’s celebrate her
passing. Let’s join her and say good bye to fear,
(ALI sobs louder)
good bye to frustration
BRICK:
Amen!

39
ALL THE OTHERS EXCEPT BECKY:
Amen!
(BECKY looks confused. ALI glares at her.
SHAWNA jabs her in the ribs)
CYRIL:
Rejoice with our sister in her new life of joy and
peace
ALI:
(Crying)
Amen!
CYRIL:
Let us celebrate her new life where the perishable
puts on the imperishable. Where the mortal dons a new
coat of immortality
BRICK:
Amen!
ALL THE OTHERS INCLUDING BECKY:
Amen!
CYRIL:
They say when the world was new, the Creator carved
a chasm in the earth separating animals from humans.
To make the chasm impassable, He shaped a raging river
to run through it. At the last moment, before the
floodgates opened, first the dogs, then the cats jumped
across to join the humans, the only animals to make
that leap
BRICK:
Amen!
EVERYONE:
Amen!
CYRIL:
When your time comes, I challenge you to be like sister
Natalie. I challenge you, go for it. For there’ll be
one more giant leap. And over there will be the things
for which we yearn: peace, joy, respect, love. Yes, I
said love. As you stand at the edge, looking across,
hesitating, I say, go for it.
Go for it!

ALI:
Oh yes amen!

CYRIL:
Go for it with a loud bark and a strong leap!

Amen!

40
EVERYONE:
Amen!
SHAWNA:
(Sucking up)
That was lovely, Cyr. So inspired. One of the best
you’ve ever done. I know Nat heard you.
CYRIL:
(As if to a small, not very bright child)
Of course she did, Shawna. Now I must go and reflect.
(CYRIL turns to leave)
BRICK:
We’re counting on you for little Artie.

Hey Cyr!

CYRIL:
(Nods)
Dum de dum
De dum
(CYRIL exits. They open lunch boxes, sit
down to eat. SHAWNA shares hers with BECKY)
ALI:
Hey everyone, let’s take up a collection for little
Artie. Just so he knows we care.
(ALI and Brick each donate a milkbone)
SHAWNA:
Sorry, I just got enough for me and Becky.
BECKY:
Oh well now, he can have mine.
SHAWNA:
It’s okay Becky. Artie’s not gonna starve.
feeds us all real good.

So.

ALI:
(Glares at SHAWNA)
What’d you say your name was?

Maxeen

Baily or Britney?

BECKY:
Becky. Rebecca actually, after the great feminist
author, Dame Rebecca West.
ALI:
La-de-da. I was named after Ali Baba and the 40 thieves
BECKY:
(Not sure if she’s being put on)
You can call me Becky.

41
BRICK:
You are so hot, darlin. Sure your name’s not Summer?
ALI:
Brick!
BECKY:
No, sorry. Not Summer. My owners, Chip and Crystal,
named me Rebecca. Rebecca means charming.
BRICK:
Well, you are definitely charmin and disarmin.
ALI:
So, what’s your story?

Brick!

How did you get here?

BECKY:
My owners drove me here. I’m just here for the day.
ALI:
You mean they’re coming back?

For the day?

BECKY:
After the paint dries.
BRICK:
Well, say, could they use an akita? I’m very handy. I
always clean up after myself and females adore me.
ALI:
Get real, they’re not coming.

Brick!

She was dumped.

BRICK:
Oh, so she’s a drop off.
Drop off?

Dumped?

Yeah, dumped.

ALI:
What we have here is a case of denial.

BRICK:
Whadja do to torque your owners off?

Too bad.
What?

BECKY:
Whatever do you mean, dumped?

No!

BECKY:
They love me. I’m not a drop off.
(ALI and BRICK laugh)

ALI:
You still don’t get it. Hey, Becky or Rebecca or
whoever you are. Denial is not a river in Egypt!
Welcome to the Drop Off Club. We’re all in the club.

42
BECKY:
No!
SHAWNA:
I wanted to tell you earlier, but you were going on in
your own little zone and I couldn’t. Ali is right.
ALI:
Course I’m right.
SHAWNA:
Ali, you don’t have to rub her nose in it.
ALI:
Bug off, Shawna.
You are such a.

SHAWNA:
Who died and made you queen bitch?
BRICK:

Break it up, girls.
ALI:
You little worm, you!
SHAWNA:
You fat pig!
BRICK:
I SAID BREAK IT UP!
BECKY:
You’re all wrong! They’ll come for me. They’ll come
to get me in their blue BMW. And then I’ll stick my
head out the window as we drive off and I’ll laugh!
(ALI and BRICK laugh)
BECKY:
They love me. Chip and Crystal love me.

You’ll see.

(ALI, BRICK & SHAWNA laugh. BECKY stands,
moves off to side, spotlight on her.
Blackout on the others eating lunch)
BECKY:
They love me.
(Blackout on BECKY. CYRIL enters from Room
101 door. Spotlight on him. He pads to the
mailboxes and slides BECKY’s name plate in
above the vacant mailbox. Blackout)
End of ACT I Scene 5

43
Scene 6
(Near midnight that same day. Spotlight on
ARTIE’s cage)
ARTIE:
Becky?

Becky?
(Spotlight on BECKY sitting at edge of
stage)
ARTIE:

Becky?

Is that you?
BECKY:

Yes.
ARTIE:
You said you were coming back to see me.
awake for you. Are you okay?

I stayed

BECKY:
Yes.
ARTIE:
Did you find my mom?
BECKY:
Yes.
ARTIE:
Is she okay?
BECKY:
Yes.
ARTIE:
Okay, thanks, Becky. Gosh, it’s late.
(ARTIE lies down)
G’night, Becky.

Time to sleep.

(Blackout on ARTIE’s cage)
BECKY:
G’night.
(Blackout on BECKY. Spotlight on BRICK and
ALI gazing at the stars)
ALI:
(Deep sigh)
Brick?

44
BRICK:
Yeah?
ALI:
Do you ever wonder?
BRICK:
What about?
ALI:
Those lights.
What’s to wonder?

BRICK:
They go on.

ALI:
You’re so meat and potatoes.
Sure, Ali.

They go off.

Don’t you ever wonder?

BRICK:
Can’t sleep nights wonderin.

ALI:
There’s no call to be sarcastic.
BRICK:
Well, what the heck am I s’posed to say?
ALI:
You might try expressing some interest.
OK.

Sure.

BRICK:
So I’m interested.

ALI:
You don’t sound interested.
Um.

BRICK:
What’s interested sound like?

ALI:
I think at minimum you should be paying attention.
OK.

Hey, see me?

BRICK:
Payin’ attention.

Growl, growl.

ALI:
And trying to be helpful.
Right.

Helpful.

BRICK:
Growl, growl.
ALI:

Enthusiastic.

Helpful, check.

45
Okay.
Brick.

Woof woof.

BRICK:
I got enthusiasm.

Check again.

ALI:
This isn’t a checklist.
BRICK:

Doing the best I can.
ALI:
You seem distracted tonight.

Is something wrong?

BRICK:
It’s nothin.
ALI:
It must be something.
It’s nothin, Ali.

BRICK:
It’s just - -

ALI:
You can tell me.

Just what?

I’m here for you.

BRICK:
Well.
ALI:
Go ahead.

Say it.

Well, sure.

Okay.

BRICK:
It’s. It’s Becky.
ALI:

Becky.
BRICK:
I’m worried about her.
ALI:
I see.
She seems so.

BRICK:
So crushed. So broken.

So - -

ALI:
(Overlaps)
Sorry to hear that. Excuse me, I feel a sudden chill.
BRICK:
Where you going?
ALI:
Good night, Brick.

46
(ALI exits)
BRICK:
And she calls me distracted.
(Blackout on BRICK.
Enter Cyril)

Spotlight on BECKY.

CYRIL:
You and Ali had words.
BECKY:
She hates me.
I’d be careful of her.

CYRIL:
She tends to carry grudges

BECKY:
That I throw it in and run away?

What does she want?

CYRIL:
She can be quite vindictive.
BECKY:
If that’s what it is, she’s riding for a fall.
sort it in a way she won’t like.

I’ll

CYRIL:
My advice is let sleeping dogs lie.
BECKY:
If she thinks I’ve dropped my bundle, she - CYRIL:
(Overlaps)
Let her talk, words can’t hurt. She’ll be digging
herself in deeper. Besides, barking dogs never bite.
BECKY:
If I back away, what’s to keep her from - CYRIL:
(Overlaps)
I’ll see she doesn’t.
disruptive elements.

I have ways of addressing
BECKY:

You’d do that for me?
CYRIL:
I want to help you.
I.

BECKY:
I can’t see how you - -

47
CYRIL:
(Overlaps)
Becky, dear one. Listen. I very much want to help
you. It grieves me to see you unhappy like this. Let
me protect you. Let me keep you safe
I don’t know.

BECKY:
This is so sudden.

I must think.

CYRIL:
Think? Think about what? Listen to me. When the Gods
give you a gift, you don’t think about it. You take
it. Remember, she who hesitates is lost. At my side
you would be respected.
BECKY:
You push so hard.
Be mine, Becky.

CYRIL:
Please.
BECKY:

I must think.
CYRIL:
You’re not rejecting me, are you? You’re not saying
no, are you?
I know you’re not, because I refuse to
believe you’re naïve. Are you aware of my authority?
Are you aware of the trust Maxeen places in me? Are
you aware that I am empowered to speak and act in her
name? Most females would leap at the chance to stand
at my side. And I don’t think you’re different from
most females on that score.
BECKY:
Let me be.

Please!

CYRIL:
(Advances on her)
With a wink and a nod I can change anyone’s fortune,
command anyone’s fate.
(CYRIL draws very close to BECKY, tries to
take her into his arms. She draws back. He
persists. She slaps his face)
CYRIL:
That's a response I did not expect. Think it over.
Don’t be stubborn. Stubbornness does not become you.
(BECKY bursts into tears & begins to run
away from CYRIL)
You’re far too pretty to end up like Natalie.
(Blackout on CYRIL.

Lights up on BRICK)

48
BRICK:
Well, hi there darlin. Didn’t know you were up.
Oh.

BECKY:
I couldn’t sleep.

Hello Brick.

And it’s cold.

BRICK:
You’ve been crying. Come over here to me. Let me dry
those tears. And we’ll keep each other warm.
BECKY:
(Keeps her distance)
Where’s your girl friend?
BRICK:
You mean Ali?
BECKY:
Yes.

Ali.

BRICK:
Aww, she got upset and stomped off. She’s always
snapping at me about something. That’s just Ali.
BECKY:
She hates me.
BRICK:
No, darlin, she doesn’t.
She hates me.

BECKY:
I know she does.

BRICK:
You gotta understand Ali. She’s blunt and gruff and
she has a temper and she’s kind of in your face, but
she doesn’t hate you. It’s just her way. She has a
heart of gold.
Don’t patronize me.

BECKY:
I know when I’m not liked.

BRICK:
Aww, come on, don’t talk that way. Come over here.
BECKY:
No!
BRICK:
Please, darlin. I’ll be nice. We’ll just sit
together. We’ll just look at the lights. And talk.
BECKY:
You stay away from me.

49
BRICK:
We don’t hate you.
BECKY:
I know you all do. Even Shawna hates me. I thought
she was my friend.
(She edges her way toward him)
How could they? How could they? Do they know how much
this hurts, how deep this cut goes? Damn them!
Same with my owners.

BRICK:
I know how you feel.

BECKY:
You can’t possibly know how I feel. You’ve no concept.
BRICK:
Believe me, I know.
BECKY:
Liar!
(Leans against him)
I wish I was dead. Oh damn them. Damn. Damn. Damn.
Damn them. I want to die. Damn them! Why didn’t they
just kill me? I feel so worthless. I don’t know who I
am anymore. Oh damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.
Brick, I just want to die. Help me die.
(Blackout)
End of ACT I Scene 6
End of ACT I

50
ACT II
Scene 1
(Darkened stage. CYRIL stands center stage,
spotlight on him. Enter ARTIE, spotlight on
him, dressed like a gangsta. He hands CYRIL
a note. CYRIL reads)
So.

Ali is locked up.

CYRIL:
It’s an absolute shock to me.

ARTIE:
Yeah, well. Just one of those things. Remember what
Ali said.
She said, you never know. It can happen
just like that. And she snapped her fingers.
(Snaps fingers)
Remember, Cyr?
CYRIL:
Exactly, Artie. Ali was lucky. Lucky to have Brick
fending for her. Most loud disruptive females spend
their lives lonely and bitter, having only themselves,
or other lonely bitter females, as company. Ali, with
Brick at her side, at least had some normalcy. Of
course, it was bound to end.
ARTIE:
So whatcha gonna do?

Hey, stuff happens.

CYRIL:
Do?
Yeah.

ARTIE:
Whatcha gonna do about Ali?

You leave that to me.

CYRIL:
I’ll address Ali’s situation.

ARTIE:
Hey, you the king, Cyr.
CYRIL:
Yes, I am.
(Hands him back the note)
Destroy this, my boy. As nature abhors a vacuum, that’s
Aristotle by the way, so do I abhor a paper trail. And
get me a milkbone. I’ll be at the coyote fence.
(ARTIE exits. CYRIL snaps fingers. Late
evening, cricket sounds. BRICK sits at the
coyote fence dealing cards for poker. CYRIL
walks to him, sits, picks up cards. Coyote
howls in distance)

51
CYRIL:
Doowah doowah
Bum ba bum
Ba bum bum
Doowah
BRICK:
You gonna lay a card down?
CYRIL:
Dum de dum. Hold your horses. Just hold your horses.
Just let me study these cards some more. Dum dum dee
dee dum
Go ahead.

BRICK:
Study ‘em till the cows come home.

CYRIL:
He’s proud he always wins. I let him. Don’t tell him
that. May I remind you every dog has his day?
BRICK:
No one believes that.
CYRIL:
Dum dum dum. May I remind you the sun doesn’t always
shine on the same dog's behind?
BRICK:
Will you please just lay a card down.
CYRIL:
He’s adjusting poorly to bachelorhood.
edge.

You seem on

BRICK:
Nothing wrong here.
CYRIL:
You seem to have some agitation churning within you.
I’m fine, Cyr.

BRICK:
Just fine.

CYRIL:
Well, Just remember what Marcus Aurelius said: it is
within one’s power to keep one’s mind at peace.

Wait!

BRICK:
(Bolts upright. Stares off in distance)
Shh!
CYRIL:

What?

52
BRICK:
Shh!

Listen!
CYRIL:

What?
BRICK:
You don’t hear it?
CYRIL:
No.

Nothing

Coyotes out there.

BRICK:
Six, maybe seven.
CYRIL:

I do not hear them
BRICK:
Fresh kill. They’re eating. And snapping at each
other. Thugs. Got no table manners. Darn coyotes!
Relax, Brick .
Don’t like ‘em.

CYRIL:
Think of them as your wild brothers.
BRICK:
Don’t trust ‘em.

CYRIL:
Did you know the coyote is a digitigrade?
You got so many facts.

BRICK:
Where do you store it all?

CYRIL:
Digitigrade means, unlike us, they walk on their toes.
BRICK:
Don’t care if they fly on their toes.

They’re thugs.

(ARTIE enters, dressed gangsta style)
ARTIE:
Hey, wassup peeps?
CYRIL:
Artie
Well look.

BRICK:
Look who’s back in the land of the living.

53
ARTIE:
(Hands CYRIL a milkbone)
Hey Brick, my man.
BRICK:
Heard you got sprung.
ARTIE:
Yeah.

Got sprung.

Kind of a rare thing.

BRICK:
Must have been your lucky day.
ARTIE:

Musta been.
CYRIL:
Let’s just say Cyril worked some of his magic.
Yeah.

Magic.

ARTIE:
Like abra-cadabra.

CYRIL:
Cyril did go to Maxeen. And did say to her like Moses
to the Pharoah, yea verily, this incarceration of
Brother Artie is wrong and will come to no good end.
Props to you, Cyr.

ARTIE:
You one smooth dude.

CYRIL:
(Breaks milkbone in half, gives BRICK half)
And I see you mastered the lingo while in the cage.
ARTIE:
Yo, I be talkin the talk. I be rippin an’ poppin.
Okay, clockin out, homes. Goin’ to da hood to cause
some static.
That’s right, boy.
peeled.

CYRIL:
Go out there and keep an eye
ARTIE:

Peace out, dudes.
(ARTIE exits.

CYRIL goes back to his cards)

CYRIL:
Dum de dum.
BRICK:
You got him working for you now.

54
Dum de dum.

CYRIL:
Certainly looks like it.

BRICK:
Think you might be able to do something for Ali?
CYRIL:
Dum de dum.
(Enter SHAWNA, looking very sexy)
SHAWNA:
Hello Brick.
BRICK:
Hi Shawna.
SHAWNA:
Can I get you anything?
BRICK:
No thanks.
SHAWNA:
I got nothing else to do right now.

You’re sure?

BRICK:
Thanks anyway.
SHAWNA:
I just heard about Ali. I know how alone you must feel
right now. If you need someone to talk to, just
whistle.
(SHAWNA exits, BRICK watches her leave)
CYRIL:
Well she’s obviously making a play for you. You hear
it in her words. You see it in her movements
BRICK:
Yeah.
CYRIL:
You know the Zen proverb. Ears hear. Eyes see. What
then does the mind do?
Perhaps you’ve just been
presented with an opportunity to move beyond Ali.
(BRICK nods, gets up, exits. Blackout)
End of ACT II Scene 1

55
Scene 2
(BRICK, ALI and BECKY enter. BRICK has an
elaborate pompadour and ALI’s hair is in a
French braid. They both look ridiculous.
BECKY’s hair is done up in pigtails and she
has tons of makeup)
BECKY:
Do they always pick us up and turn us over?
SHAWNA:
Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
really unpredictable that way.

Humans are

BECKY:
I don’t mind so much their picking me up. But I must
say that I, for one, can’t abide these blithering
idiots who toss you around like a football. The next
time a bloke does that to me, I’ll settle his hash good
and proper. Depend on it.
BRICK:
(To BECKY)
You must be a broom cause you swept me off my feet.
SHAWNA:
Brick!
(Enter CYRIL)
CYRIL:
How did it go, people?
SHAWNA:
Don’t ask.
CYRIL:
That bad, eh?
BRICK:
A lab and a poodle from E Block were adopted.
SHAWNA:
A lot of good that does me.

Oh great!

Okay, people.

BRICK:
Time to get back on the line.
CYRIL:

Do as Brick says.
SHAWNA:
Yeah, yeah.

56
(CYRIL exits. SHAWNA, BECKY & BRICK go to
their workstations. Factory clock reads
10AM. SHAWNA presses button, whistle
sounds. They commence working the line. Set
darkens with lights flashing & factory
sounds. Sound of factory running at full
speed. Sound of BRICK calling out numbers
over the sounds of the factory……one, two,
three and so on.
When he calls out a
number, BECKY loudly repeats it. When they
get to seven, sound of grinding the gears.
Lights come up quickly and factory sounds
cease. The clock reads 11AM)
BRICK:
Awwwww shucks. Gearbox busted.
up the part number.

I’ll have to go look

SHAWNA:
(Unfriendly look at BECKY)
Okay if I come with you, sweety?
BRICK:
Sure, darlin.
(To BECKY)
Don’t go wandering off, darlin.

We’ll be right back.

(BRICK & SHAWNA exit)
SHAWNA:
(From offstage)
Okay, now explain to me why you call me darlin and her
darlin.
BRICK:
(From offstage)
Awwwww come on, darlin, it don’t mean nothing.
(BECKY sits, looking tired and depressed.
Lights on ALI in cage)
ALI:
Well, what do you know? Look here. Becky’s sad.
Becky’s down in the dumps. Becky’s got problems. A
whole new side of Becky. Will wonders never cease?
(Enter ARTIE in gangsta garb and garish hat)
ARTIE:
Yo.

Wassup, Becky?
BECKY:
(Not looking up)

Hi Artie.

57
ALI:
Oh now, that’s good. Very good. She’s got her gloomy
girl act down to a T. Good. See how she slumps
forward like she’s carrying the weight of the world on
her back?
And check that hangdog face. Definite nine
on my card.
Bet she practiced it in front of a mirror
to get it just right. If I didn’t know better, I’d
think she was being hounded into despair.
ARTIE:
(Indicating his hat)
Hey Becky.
Scope out my head gear, girl.
(BECKY continues brooding)
ALI:
Isn’t turnabout amazing? Seems like just yesterday she
was gliding in here like she owned the place.
Quicker’n a dog can lick a dish, she had everyone
kowtowing to her. Since she’s gotten her comeuppance,
she wants us all to feel sorry for her. Hey, Becky or
Rebecca or whoever you are, can’t have it both ways.
Yo, Becky!

ARTIE:
Ya gotta leastwise look at me.

ALI:
Oh, go on, look at him, you phony.
BECKY:
(Flares up)
I am not a phony, you - ARTIE:
(Overlaps. To BECKY)
Hey chill, girl. Chill.
(To ALI)
Check me out, Ali. I’m free.
ALI:
Hope you noticed I’m not. Free, I mean.
ARTIE:
I hear ya. Stuff happens.
Not for long, though.
Cyril gonna spring ya.
He said that?

ALI:
You heard him say that?

ARTIE:
You gonna be outta here quick, girl. He told me, “I’ll
address Ali’s situation.” Quote unquote.

58
ALI:
Did you see Brick?
ARTIE:
Yeah.
Oh Brick.

ALI:
I miss him so much.

How is he?

ARTIE:
Seemed cool.
(Enter CYRIL)
CYRIL:
Good morning, people.
ARTIE:
Yo, Cyr.
ALI:
Hi, Cyril.
My my.

CYRIL:
What have me here?
BECKY:

Good morning Cyril.
CYRIL:
(Pointedly snubbing BECKY)
What’s going on here, Artie?
We just kickin’.

ARTIE:
You know, easin’ back.

BECKY:
We’re talking to poor Ali. Nothing more than that.
CYRIL:
(To BECKY, pointing to the factory)
Aren’t you supposed to be working on the line?
The line broke.

BECKY:
Something in the gear box.

Like she said, Cyr.

ARTIE:
We were just chillin’ with Ali.

(CYRIL motions ARTIE off to the side)
CYRIL:
You are working for me now, boy.
of my organization, capish?

Remember, you’re part

59
ARTIE:
Part of Cyril’s crew. Yeah.
CYRIL:
Yeah, what?
ARTIE:
Yeah, sir.
It’s yes sir.

CYRIL:
Not yeah sir
ARTIE:

Yessir!
CYRIL:
I have one rule, my boy
ARTIE:
Yessir.
CYRIL:
One rule. Listen carefully.
Me. Ever.

You do not contradict

ARTIE:
But I didn’t!
There you go.

CYRIL:
Contradicting me.
ARTIE:

Yessir.

Sorry sir.

CYRIL:
Becky is someone I’m keeping an eye on. I was
surprised to hear you take her side against me
ARTIE:
I didn’t know, sir.
CYRIL:
(Walks back to BECKY & ALI.
Well, now you do

ARTIE follows)

ARTIE:
Yessir.
CYRIL:
Artie my boy. Why don’t you and Becky go take a break,
so Ali and I can have a chat.
ARTIE:
Yessir.

C’mon Becky.

60
BECKY:
But - ARTIE:
(Overlaps. Loud, grabbing her hand)
C’mon Becky! Let’s go!
(ARTIE pulls BECKY away. They exit.
Silence as CYRIL studies ALI. Then)
ALI:
Artie says you’re gonna get me out of here.
(Silence as CYRIL continues to study her)
Artie said “Ali, you gonna be outta here quick, girl.”
CYRIL:
Artie misspoke
ALI:
Oh, you mean it’ll take longer? Hey, that’s okay. I
got lots of things to do. I can wait. No problemo.
The fact is.

CYRIL:
Brick and Shawna.
ALI:

(Overlaps)
And Shawna??
CYRIL:
Brick and Shawna are in the process of.
ALI:
(Overlaps)
My Brick??
And that??

That tramp??

CYRIL:
Tramp is an unfortunate choice.

Shawna and Brick are.

ALI:
(Overlaps)
I’ll kill her! I swear I’ll kill her. I’ll rip her
throat!
CYRIL:
Are you quite finished?
ALI:
(Sobbing softly)
That bitch. That thieving bitch.
CYRIL:
Brick and Shawna are together right now.
together as we speak.

They are

61
ALI:
No.
CYRIL:
I’m afraid so.
ALI:
Please let me talk to Brick.

Please let me out.

CYRIL:
What do you think you could do?
ALI:
I have that right.

I could talk to him.

He’s mine.

CYRIL:
He’s not anyone’s. Did it ever occur to you that
your relationship with him has run its course?
That Brick has moved on?
ALI:
That’s not true!
CYRIL:
Brick and Shawna. Two people in love. Love is such a
fragile emotional state. It’s like holding a dove.
Too tightly, you crush it. Too loosely, it flies away.
Do you see how inconvenient you’ve become?
(CYRIL begins to walk off)
Cyril, let me out!
do this! Cyril!

ALI:
Cyril! Cyril!

Cyril!

You can’t

(He exits. She collapses, sobbing. Blackout.
ALI sobs. Lights up. Enter BECKY & ARTIE)
ALI:
He’s not going to free me.
No way!

ARTIE:
Cyril told me was gonna - -

ALI:
(Overlaps)
I tell you, he’s not gonna.
Brick and Shawna can - -

So Brick and Shaw.

So

ARTIE:
(Overlaps)
No way, girl, Cyril’s legit. If he says it’s going
down, it’s going down. Don’t you go baggin’ on him.

62
ALI:
Oh, you little fool. You’re so wrapped up in yourself
and your new role, you haven’t a clue.
BECKY:
Ali’s right, Artie.
ALI:
Course I’m right.
BECKY:
I tell you, he is the exact opposite of what you think.
Cyril only cares about Cyril!
ARTIE:
No way. He cares about all of us. And. And he said
you were trouble. He’s keeping an eye on you. He said
how you go around talking jive. I thought, no way,
Becky’s cool. But now, I dunno. You better have some
proof, girl, or I’m goin straight to Cyril.
BECKY:
He came on to me.
Whoa!

Came on to you.

ARTIE:
And that makes him bad?

BECKY:
It was way he came on. Frightening. He talked about
all his power he wields. He proposed using his power to
protect me. When I protested, he grew angry and said he
could change my fortune or command my fate with a wink
and a nod.
A wink and a nod.

ARTIE:
What he mean by that?

BECKY:
He said what happened to Natalie could happen to me.
ARTIE & ALI:
What?!!
ARTIE:
My Mom?!
ALI:
Natalie?!
BECKY:
I’m sorry, Artie.
ARTIE:
Oh, poor Mom!

63
ALI:
Poor Natalie!
BECKY:
I slapped him and he said, “You’re too young and pretty
to end up like Natalie.” His very words.
ARTIE:
Wait a minute! How do we know you’re keepin’
How do we know you’re not frontin’?

Hold it!
it real?

BECKY:
(Holds out hand)
I slapped him with this hand.

Go ahead.

Smell it.

(They smell her hand)
Smells like a slap.
Hmmm.

Yes.

ARTIE:
And yeah, that’s Cyril allright.

ALI:
Definitely. Definitely Cyril.
BECKY:

There’s more.
ALI:
Go ahead.
BECKY:
(To ALI)
I told him you hated me. And I said I was frightened
of incurring more of your wrath. To that he said, she
is only digging her hole deeper.
ALI & ARTIE:
What?
ALI:
Oh God!
BECKY:
And then he said you were a disruptive influence.
That word.

Dis.

ARTIE:
Disruptive.

I heard Cyril say that.

BECKY:
The very same word?
Yeah.

ARTIE:
He was talking about Ali.

64
ALI:
Oh my God!
ARTIE:
What does it mean, Becky?
BECKY:
It means, I think, we must find a way to get Ali out.
ALI:
Oh God yes please!
BECKY:
We must hide her someplace.

She’s not safe here.

ALI:
Oh, God!

Uh Becky?
BECKY:

Yes?
I’m sorry.

About.

ALI:
I thought you and Brick were - -

BECKY:
(Overlaps)
Brick’s just not for me. You know the saying, one dog’s
chewtoy is another dog’s fire hydrant.
ARTIE:
C’mon, girls, let’s get moving!

Time’s wasting.

BECKY:
Don’t worry, Ali. We will persevere.
(Raises hand, presses it against cage)
For Natalie.
ALI:
(Does the same)
For Natalie.
ARTIE:
(Does the same)
For Mom.
Too right, mates.

BECKY:
All right, let’s to it.
ARTIE:

Let’s roll.
(They exit.

Blackout)

End of Act II Scene 2

65
Scene 3
(CYRIL enters and pads to his mailbox.
There is a note taped to it. A Chinese gong
near the Room 101 door)
CYRIL:
(Reads, emphasis on “Death”)
Death to Cyril.
(Reads, emphasis on “to”)
Death to Cyril.
(Reads, emphasis on “Cyril”)
Death to Cyril.
(To himself)
I could be philosophical with respect to this, this.
Uhh this missive. I could do that. I’ve had ample
training. I’m sure there’s a pithy passage somewhere
in Marcus Aurelius on maintaining a placid disposition
in times of personal crisis. I can’t think of one at
the moment but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
Seneca said if you live long, you’re bound to suffer
hardships every so often. Goes with the territory. “A
long life includes troubles, just as a long journey
includes dust and mud and rain.” Why doesn’t that make
me feel better?
Well, no matter. On to the nuts and
bolts. First question, who?
Second question, why?
And now that I think on it, the why is largely
immaterial. A why can’t crush. A why can’t ruin. A
why can’t destroy. A why is meer words. We all know
the saying, sticks and stones can break my bones, but
words can’t hurt.
So that leaves who. Question: who
has means, motive and opportunity? Artie? Too timid,
no imagination, besides, the poor boy can’t write.
Pass on Artie. Brick?
Too humble, too easily
manipulated and a bit thick. Pass. Shawna? Hmmmmm.
Well, she certainly hates me.
Normally, I’d say
Shawna, but for one little fact. She and I have an
arrangement touching on the aforementioned Brick.
Brick is her ticket out. And I do not think Shawna
wants that ticket pulled. So let’s pass on Shawna.
That leaves Becky. Becky. Regarding whom the slap
still smarts. I do think it’s time to give this place
a shakeup. Artie! Artie! Oh Artie, my boy!
(Exit CYRIL. Spotlight on SHAWNA & BRICK
sitting together staring at the stars)
SHAWNA:
Brick?
BRICK:
Yeah, Shawna.

66
SHAWNA:
We need to talk.
BRICK:
What about?
SHAWNA:
This.
BRICK:
This?
Yes, this.

SHAWNA:
This spot. I don’t feel comfortable.

BRICK:
But it’s my favorite spot. I come here every night.
SHAWNA:
You and she used to look at the lights together here.
BRICK:
Oh, for Pete’s sake, Shawna!
SHAWNA:
Her scent is on every blade of grass, as if she’s
watching, listening.
BRICK:
It’s only your imagination. She’s gone.
SHAWNA:
As if I’m your Ali substitute.

It feels strange.

BRICK:
You’re not!
SHAWNA:
Your Ali replacement.
BRICK:
Stop talking crazy!
SHAWNA:
I can’t be her.
BRICK:
You’re not.
SHAWNA:
It really is over with you and Ali.
(Silence)
It’s over, isn’t it? Brick?

Isn’t it?

67
BRICK:
Ye.

Yes.

SHAWNA:
I don’t wish bad things for her.
BRICK:
No.
SHAWNA:
I wish her well. I wish her the best. But I want
what’s mine. I want my share. I deserve happiness.
deserve to be loved, don’t I? Don’t I? Everyone
deserves to be loved. Everyone.
(Coyote howl. She shivers)
I feel cold. Let’s go inside.

I

(They exit. BECKY enters. Then CYRIL enters)
BECKY:
(Gazes at stars)
Of life, time is a point, substance is in flux,
perception dull, the soul a whirl, and fortune hard to
divine, and fame a thing devoid of judgement. And, to
say all in a word, everything which belongs to the body
is a stream, and what belongs to the soul is a dream.
Life is a warfare, a stranger's journey.
(Senses someone near. Turns)
What? Did you follow me?
CYRIL:
That was Marcus Aurelius you were quoting. I’m not a
bad person, you know. You shouldn’t be judging me.
BECKY:
I leave the judging to others.
CYRIL:
Oh do you? I hear you’ve drawn some negative
conclusions about me. I hear you’re talking to the
others about me. In my book, that’s judging.
BECKY:
An opinion is not a judgment.
CYRIL:
Whatever. Bear in mind I’ll defend myself.
it’s a dog eat dog world.
BECKY:
You’re threatening me.

Remember,

68
CYRIL:
Do you think a word from you will cause all this to
blow away? Do you think we who built this will sit on
the porch and let it fall?
BECKY:
Yes, if you would only step back and let it be.
Oh right.

CYRIL:
Step back and let be.

BECKY:
The language of truth is simple.

How simple.
Seneca.

CYRIL:
Miss Rosa never liked Seneca. As for stepping back and
letting be, don’t you think I’d like to? Don’t you
think I want to walk away?
Were it that simple. Then
I’d be a scholar. Then I would teach.
BECKY:
You?

A teacher?
CYRIL:

You find that amusing?
BECKY:
What would you teach?
CYRIL:
I sat at Miss Rosa’s feet for three years. Memorized
every lesson. I know Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza. I’d
give lectures on wisdom, justice, courage.
BECKY:
Professor Cyril.
CYRIL:
He who does evil injures himself.

Marcus Aurelius.

BECKY:
From The Meditations.
CYRIL:
I tell you, for two cents, I’d chuck it. I’d have a
class of young pups, see their bright eager faces light
up as I explain Plato’s Cave or Pascal’s Wager.
BECKY:
Why don’t you?

69
CYRIL:
I could walk away from this right now. I’ve made this
community a better place. There’s a body of work here
of which I am proud. A body of work to which I can
point and say, “I did that.” But the time is never
right. There’s always work left undone.
Let it go.
finish it.

BECKY:
Step away and let it go.

Let someone else

CYRIL:
No! Truly, I sense a force out there poised to undo my
work the moment I step aside.
BECKY:
Oh, please Cyril!
Yes, I feel it.
be you.

CYRIL:
Feel it in my bones.

I think it might

BECKY:
Now who’s judging?
CYRIL:
Thanks to me, this is a better place. But no one says,
thank you, Cyril. Gratitude. It’s like water in the
desert. I deserve to be thanked for my work. But.
BECKY:
(Overlaps)
What you’ve done, you’ve done for yourself. All we’d
be doing if we thanked you would be feeding your ego.
CYRIL:
Then I guess I won’t be a teacher after all. There’s a
saying, those who can, do, those who can’t, teach.
(Snaps his fingers. Lights up)
Artie, my boy! Front and center!
(Artie enters.

Sullen, brooding expression)

ARTIE:
Yessir.
Summon the residents.

CYRIL:
I have some remarks prepared.
ARTIE:

Yes sir.

(ARTIE bangs
SHAWNA enter
form up in a
last minute,
SHAWNA grabs

70
the Chinese gong. BRICK &
running and, with ARTIE, they
neat military line. At the
just before CYRIL speaks,
BECKY, pulls her into the line)

CYRIL:
(Holds up death threat)
I found this notice on my mailbox today.
(Audible gasps and cries of surprise and
shock from BRICK & SHAWNA)
Thank you. Your concern and support are most
gratifying. Note the fact this is an unsigned
document. Lacking a name, it signifies nothing. I ask
myself, what sort of shadowy scribbler spews this out?
Clearly a coward. A sort of vagabond, rascal and
runaway, a scum of the earth, a base lackey peasant, a
famished beggar weary of life but for dreaming on this,
who for want of means, the poor rat had fallen on a
sword. If I be threatened, let it be from one with
substance and a name. Then, I assure you, he, or she,
will see what mettle Cyril has. Until then, this
notice, and all such, are to be deplored and ignored.
(Cheers from BRICK & SHAWNA)
Nevertheless, no leader not cognizant of nor sensitive
to the views and opinions of his charges can be
regarded as prudent. Therefore, in the interests of
openness, I am prepared to entertain at this time any
questions and comments you may have. Ask anything.
SHAWNA:
You mean anything?
CYRIL:
Anything at all. My stewardship is an open book.
Mao Zedong said, "Let the hundred flowers bloom."
(Awkward silence.

Then……)

I.

SHAWNA:
I really like the food here.

Ummm.

Well.

Ummm.

BRICK:
Yeah, the milkbones are pretty much okay.
SHAWNA:

We have two kinds.
BRICK:
Regular and high fiber.
May.

SHAWNA:
Maybe we could have another flavor?

As

71
CYRIL:
Good suggestion, Shawna. I knew this town meeting was
a good idea.
SHAWNA:
Make it chicken.

Chicken.
Naah.
beef.

BRICK:
Chicken is for artsy-fartsies.

Chicken is lean meat.

SHAWNA:
Chicken is good for you.

BRICK:
Dogs eat beef.

Good.
cows.

Schmood.

That.

Is so stupid.

Real dogs eat

That’s why God gave us

SHAWNA:
CYRIL:
Shawna, I think we can make a point without labelling.
That was a hurtful remark.
SHAWNA:
Sorry, sir.
CYRIL:
All right. Great suggestion. I’ll look into beef- and
chicken-flavored milkbones. I’ll see what I can do.
SHAWNA:
All right!
CYRIL:
Well now, good. We’ve had democracy in action. You’ve
all expressed yourself very responsibly on a cuttingedge issue. If there’s nothing else, it’s getting late
and I guess we can.
BECKY:
(Overlaps)
Tell us what really happened to Natalie!
CYRIL:
I’m sorry, Becky. I was about to say, these
proceedings are closed.
BECKY:
Tell us what happened to Natalie!
SHAWNA:
Becky, why bring this up now?

72
BRICK:
It’s not respectful.
BECKY:
What happened to her, Cyril?
CYRIL:
This is done!

Didn’t you hear?

You’re out of order!

SHAWNA:
See what you’re doing to poor Artie here!
Let Natalie be!

BRICK:
Let her rest in peace!

BECKY:
Tell us what happened, Cyril!
BRICK:
Be quiet, Becky!
CYRIL:
Shut her up!
SHAWNA:
Shut that bitch up!
BECKY:
No!
(BRICK & SHAWNA move to lay hands on BECKY)
CYRIL:
Get her!

Gag her!
(Lights on ALI’s cage)

ALI:
(Stands, points an accusing finger at CYRIL)
Cyril killed Natalie! Cyril is a murderer!
(BRICK & SHAWNA stop and stare)
What?

BRICK:
Is that you?

Ali!

Hello-o!

SHAWNA:
What is going on?!

Ali’s right!

ARTIE:
You killed my mom!
ALI:

Murderer!

Murderer!

73
BRICK:
Oh, Ali!
CYRIL:
This is insane!
ARTIE:
Murderer!
SHAWNA:
Brick, don’t look at her!
ALI:
Brick!
BECKY:
Murderer!
(ARTIE and BECKY move toward CYRIL)
ARTIE:
You told Becky you killed Mom!

You murderer!

CYRIL:
Becky’s a liar! Keep them away from me! Keep them
away!
(BRICK & SHAWNA protect him from ARTIE &
BECKY)
Stay away, I tell you! Keep them back!
BRICK:
(Growling menacingly)
Stay back! I mean it! Stay back!
ALI:
Brick!
Traitors!

Keep away!

CYRIL:
Get me out of here!

SHAWNA:
Don’t look at her! Look at me!

Brick!

BECKY:
Murderer!
I’m sorry, Ali!

BRICK:
I’m sorry!

SHAWNA:
Don’t look at her, Brick!
ARTIE:
Murderer!

74
Brick!

Stay!

Please!

ALI:
Don’t leave!

(BRICK, SHAWNA & CYRIL exit)
ALI:
Brick!
.

Brick!
(Blackout)
End of ACT II Scene 3

75
Scene 4
(Early morning. Enter BECKY & ARTIE,
stealthily. They begin searching the
premises, using hand signals instead of
voices. Suddenly, CYRIL enters. BECKY gasps
in surprise, hides, unseen by CYRIL.
COYOTE1 and COYOTE2 enter right behind
CYRIL. ARTIE warily regards them)
CYRIL:
Ah, Artie my boy, there you are. Been searching high
and low for you. If I didn’t know better, I’d say
you’re avoiding me.

Uh.

ARTIE:
(Taken by surprise. Blocks BECKY’s hiding
place)
It was early. Didn’t want to wake anybody.
(COYOTE1 and COYOTE2 look about, furtively
nudging one another, pointing at things)

CYRIL:
I’ve been meaning to have a word with you, boy.
(Takes him aside. Takes out an officiallooking report, pages through it)
Here. This is for you. A report detailing Natalie’s.
I mean your mother’s. Your mother’s last days. The
time frame just before she crossed the bridge.
(ARTIE takes the report. He turns it over
in his hands, while, out of the corner of
his eye, watching the coyotes)
Oh, dear me, I quite forgot. You can’t read, can you?.
Well. No matter.
(Takes report back, flips throught it)
I’ll summarize. It says she went quickly and
painlessly. Truth to tell, her passing was quite a
surprise. She was taken away from us in her prime.
Definitely gives one pause, doesn’t it? Can happen
just like that.
(Snaps his fingers)
Her last words were, “Cyril, you are a true friend.
Watch after my son, Artie.”
ARTIE:
How do I know that’s true? I just got your say-so.
CYRIL:
Believe me, boy, I do understand your anger.
ARTIE:
Becky says you killed my mom. Becky says you
threatened to kill her just like - -

76
CYRIL:
(Overlaps)
Not true. Becky’s a liar. And a natural born trouble
maker. It’s a well-known fact ACDs are a bad breed.
Nothing good ever came out of breeding with dingoes.
Do you know what they do with dingoes in Australia?
ARTIE:
What?
CYRIL:
They shoot them.
ARTIE:
You trying to scare me?
CYRIL:
If the facts scare you, so be it.

I’m stating facts.

ARTIE:
All I know is, Becky’s my only true friend, the only
one I can trust.
CYRIL:
Boy, I’m hoping you’re not about to say you don’t trust
me. I’ll say this one more time. I did not kill your
mother. Natalie was my friend. I would never do
anything to - ARTIE:
(Overlaps)
But Becky has proof.

Becky said you.

(On a silent signal from CYRIL, COYOTE1 &
COYOTE2 move in and stand on either side of
ARTIE, growling menacingly)

Wha.

ARTIE:
(Suddenly frozen with fear)
What are you gonna do, Cyril?

I don’t know, Artie.

CYRIL:
What do you think I should do?

(ARTIE says nothing. COYOTE1 & COYOTE2
continue to menace him and restrict his
movements)
CYRIL:
Look at it from my perspective. You see a young fellow
who’s in a bit of a fix. You get him out of the fix,
you clean him up, give him a job. Now he has some
status and a sense of self worth. And how does he
repay? He starts listening to one of the local

77
CYRIL (Cont):
malcontents and next thing you know, he’s accusing his
benefactor of capital crimes. You see my point, yes?
ARTIE:
Yessir.
CYRIL:
I didn’t hear you, boy.
ARTIE:
(Louder)
Yessir.
CYRIL:
Glad to hear you agree.
ARTIE:
(Very still now. Scared)
Uhh, please ask them to let me go. Please, Cyril.
Tell them to let me go?
CYRIL:
(Ignores ARTIE’s entreaties)
So, all this anger and finger pointing and accusing on
your part was actually a misguided and baseless
exercise, isn’t that right?
ARTIE:
Yeah, I guess so.
CYRIL:
You guess so?
ARTIE:
Yes, it was!

It was!

CYRIL:
Just so we understand. I’ll have them release you.
(To COYOTE1 & COYOTE2)
Tōsh. Tōsh.
(They release him, step back, glare)
CYRIL:
(COYOTE1 taps CYRIL on shoulder, makes a low
growling sound)
What?
Oh yes, of course. Sorry.
(Gestures toward ARTIE)
Heenah shib ashro Artie. Nege asefa dek’eya shappa.
(COYOTE1 & COYOTE2 nod, smile, gesture to
ARTIE. CYRIL to ARTIE)
Artie! Where are your manners? They want to be
friends. This is Garuh.

78
COYOTE2:
Garuh.
CYRIL:
And that’s Manjo
COYOTE1:
Manjo.
ARTIE:
Uh.

Hello.

CYRIL:
Garuh and Manjo are from the coyote den.
ARTIE:
Oh. Oh.

I.

I see.

(COYOTE1 taps CYRIL on shoulder, growls)
CYRIL:
They want to apologize for frightening you.
Yeah.

ARTIE:
Well, it’s okay.

CYRIL:
I’ll translate. I’ll massage the words a bit.
them more palatable. Ha memi na’o ne.

Ha memi!

Make

COYOTE1 and COYOTE2:
(Smile at ARTIE. Nod vigorously)
Ha memi!

CYRIL:
It seems they like you. I’ve made you some friends.
(COYOTE1 & COYOTE2 wander off, exploring
this strange new world. Calls after them)
Amah tuk shwa yi’tiyo.
(They exit)
I told them to go on ahead. I’ll catch up. I’ve made
a study of their culture. I find coyotes fascinating.
They’re canines, you know. Like us. But with us,
everything’s so complex, so many hangups, so much
baggage. I find strength in their simplicity.
ARTIE:
I was so frightened.
CYRIL:
It’s fear of the unknown, boy. Fear of the strange and
the exotic. Fact is, coyotes are no different from us.

79
ARTIE:
Re.

Really?

CYRIL:
They’ve been cheated and lied to. They used to range
all over here. Then civilization encroached on them,
pushing them up into the hills and out into the desert,
making their life very hard. Even so, they’ve
maintained their pride and sense of identity. Granted,
they’re bitter. But wouldn’t you be, were you forced
from your home and family and defrauded of your
inheritance and orphaned in your native land?
ARTIE:
I.

I guess so.

CYRIL:
Of course you would, boy.
(CYRIL begins to leave, stops)
Oh, and boy, I suggest in future you choose your
friends more carefully. The rule of paw should be,
what would Cyril do? Capish?
ARTIE:
Yessir.
CYRIL:
I’m glad we had this little talk.

Ciao.

(CYRIL exits)
BECKY:
(From her hiding place, loud whisper)
Is he gone?
ARTIE:
Yes.
BECKY:
Thank you, Artie.
ARTIE:
For what?
BECKY:
For not giving away my hiding place.
ARTIE:
Ahhhh, it’s okay.
BECKY:
You’re very brave, Artie.

80
ARTIE:
Piece of cake.
BECKY:
Artie, Cyril can be very dangerous. If you feel you
have to cut off our friendship, I will understand
completely.
ARTIE:
Becky, we gotta help Ali. Like I said, let’s roll.
BECKY:
That sounds my favorite pug! Okay! Let’s keep
searching. Go have a look at the mailboxes.
(ARTIE runs to the mailboxes. Finds a
notice. Holds it up and waves it)
ARTIE:
I found this taped to Ali’s mailbox.
What does it say?
I can’t.

BECKY:
Read it.

ARTIE:
I can spell it, but I can’t read it.

BECKY:
(Runs to ARTIE, takes it, reads)
“Cyril, don’t forget to remove Ali’s name plate and
clean out her mailbox tomorrow. Maxeen”
Tomorrow!
Oh no!
There’s not much time. Can you dig a hole?
ARTIE:
Can I dig a hole?! Does a bear go poop in the woods?
Of course I can! I’ll have you we pugs are superior
diggers, hated by gardeners everywhere.
BECKY:
I need an escape hole dug at the coyote fence.
ARTIE:
That won’t be easy. Cyril’s starting to send patrols
out there. He’s put Brick in charge of security.
BECKY:
The hole is for Ali. If we don’t get her out, she’ll
end up like your mother.
ARTIE:
In that case, consider it done!
I’ll stay here.

BECKY:
I’ll keep an eye out for Brick.

81
(ARTIE exits. Enter BRICK & SHAWNA, carrying
clipboards. A key hangs from BRICK’s neck)
BRICK:
(Studies his clipboard, brushes past Becky)
Out of the way, Becky.
SHAWNA:
What’s she doing here?
BECKY:
Bloody hell! You just blow right on by, don’t you?
Just give me the flick and walk on. Turn it up, mate!
Where’s the clever pick up line?
(Does a bad impersonation of BRICK)
Hey, darlin, do you believe in love at first sight? Or
shall I walk by one more time?
Not now, Becky.

BRICK:
Not now. We’re busy.
SHAWNA:

Very busy.
BECKY:
Oh, too busy is it now?
Too busy with donkey work for
a bit of chat?
All at sixes and sevens, are we?
Important work.

BRICK:
Cyril’s commissioned me as his deputy.

I’m a deputy, too.

SHAWNA:
We’re both deputies.

BECKY:
(Low whistle)
Oh, deputy.
My, aren’t we moving up the food chain?
BRICK:
Cyril’s given me the master key to the facility.
BECKY:
Master of the key, so now you’re part of the problem.
SHAWNA:
We have so many responsibilities.
Ah yes.

BECKY:
Responsibilities.

BRICK:
Please step aside. We’re testing the security system.
(Reads aloud from clipboard)
“Verify adequate lighting at exit points.”

82
SHAWNA:
(Turns light switch on and off.
flash on and off)

Exit lights

Check.
BRICK:
“Verify alarm system functioning properly.”

Check.

SHAWNA:
(Presses button. Alarm sounds)
Check.
BRICK:
“Verify windows clean, clear, free of defects.”

Check.

SHAWNA:
(Raps knuckles on windows)
Check.
BRICK:
Check. “ Verify emergency action plan.”
BECKY:
(Overlaps)
Is there anything on those clipboards about Ali?
BRICK:
(Flinches, then……)
“Verify emergency action plan posted on wall.”
SHAWNA:
(Walks to wall-posted emergency action plan.
Touches it)
Check.
Ali thinks about you.

BECKY:
She asks about you all the time.

SHAWNA:
Get this through your head, you bitch! Brick and Ali
are over! It’s over. Tell her, Brick.
(Silence)
Brick, Tell her!
BRICK:
Yes.

It’s over.

You can’t mean that.

BECKY:
I don’t believe you.

SHAWNA:
How stupid are you anyway? What part of “over” don’t
you understand?
Cyril is right. You ACDs do nothing
but stir up trouble.

83
BECKY:
Brick can speak for himself.
Okay, that’s it!

SHAWNA:
Brick, tell her to leave.

BECKY:
Akitas are supposed to be strong, intelligent and
aggressive. But somewhere along the way, you’ve
mislaid a part of your self. And you’ve turned into
something not very appealing.
You bitch!

SHAWNA:
You get out of here!

BECKY:
I suspect it has to do with the company you keep,
Brick. You know the saying, if you lie down with
certain kinds of dogs, you’re bound to get up with
fleas.
SHAWNA:
Fleas!? Are you going to let her talk like that about
me, Brick?
(Long silence)
Brick?
(He doesn’t respond)
All right, that’s it. You can have him. And keep the
fleas, too.
(SHAWNA exits. Long silence)
BRICK:
How is Ali?
BECKY:
(Hands him the notice)
See for yourself, Mister Akita.
Oh my God!

BRICK:
I had no idea.
(Enter Cyril with COYOTE1 & COYOTE2)

CYRIL:
Ah, Becky in trouble again. Good detective work there,
Brick.
BRICK:
I’m getting ready to write up a report, sir.
CYRIL:
Do that. Document eveything.
every t. Weight of evidence.
forget Ali’s mailbox.

Dot every i. Cross
Oh and Brick, don’t

84
(Exit Cyril with COYOTE1 & COYOTE2)
BRICK:
What do you want me to do?
That key.

BECKY:
Does it unlock the cage?
BRICK:

Yes.
BECKY:
Drop it on the floor as if you lost it. When you come
back in an hour, it will be where you dropped it.
(BRICK takes key from neck, drops it on the
floor. He winks, exits. Blackout. Lights
up. Night, cricket sounds, coyote howls.
ARTIE, ALI & BECKY stand by hole)
BECKY:
Come with us, Artie.
ARTIE:
Sorry, girls. Coyotes scare the heck out of me. Even
those ones Cyril brought in. Anyway, I got some
unfinished business here.
ALI:
The hole is perfect.
ARTIE:
Toldja us pugs could dig holes. And don’t worry, I’ll
be back later and fill it in. They’ll never know.
BECKY:
We’ll miss you, Artie.
ARTIE:
(Pumps fist)
Hey, for Mom.
ALI:
(Pumps fist)
For Natalie.
BECKY:
(Pumps fist)
For Natalie.
(They hug and ARTIE exits)
ALI:
You don’t have to come along, Becky.

85
BECKY:
But I must. Without me, you’d never make it. Someone
bold and daring has to be a decoy to draw the coyotes
away.
ALI:
You’re quite a girl, Becky. Chip and Crystal were
crazy to dump you. You deserved better. Much better.
BECKY:
Thank you. All right, let’s get cracking! This is all
in a day’s work. I’m going out now. You count to
fifteen. Then you go. By that time, they’ll all be
chasing me.
ALI:
Becky, are you sure you can make it past them?
BECKY:
Certainly I’m sure. I’m an ACD. I’m half dingo.
There’s no dog in the world that can run me down. Did
you know the Australians brought ACDs along for the
North Africa campaign in World War II? They used us to
carry explosives into the German camps at night. We
had to slip past the guard dogs, plant the bombs and
run clear of the blast. Seven ACDs were posthumously
awarded the - (ALI rolls her eyes and groans)
All right, sorry. Hard to be humble. Right, now pay
attention to me. We’ll meet on the other side.
ALI:
Where on the other side?
BECKY:
We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Focus first
on getting past the coyotes. And remember. Count to
fifteen.
(BECKY exits. Silence, then coyotes howling)
One. Two.
Becky, go!

ALI:
Three. Four. You go, girl!
Five. Six. Seven. Eight.
(Coyote howls get louder.
End of ACT II Scene 4

You go,

Blackout)

86
Scene 5
(Morning next day. CYRIL sleeps, COYOTE1 &
COYOTE2 stand guard with spears. A Chinese
gong, a chair & a stool. ARTIE enters)
ARTIE:
Look. See how scared he is? See how frightened?
Sleeping with guards posted. Sleeping the sleep of the
guilty. See him twist and turn?
(CYRIL groans like one having a nightmare)
And look again. See how his victims’ ghosts torment
him?
(CYRIL cries out in his sleep)
His guards can protect him for the time being. But
sooner or later someone, perhaps I, will step forward
to exact revenge. For did he not kill my mother?
That can never be forgiven. And he has no doubt done
the same to other mothers, other fathers, other sisters
and brothers. Countless ghosts cry vengeance.
(CYRIL tosses and turns in his sleep)
Sleep, Cyril, sleep. I can wait. For there will come
a day when you are drunk. Or in your rage. Or in the
pride of your station or in some careless act. And
when that time comes, I’ll be there to bring you to
book.
(ARTIE exits. CYRIL awakens, slaps at the
air as if at a demon. COYOTE1 & COYOTE2
back away from him. They look on worried.
Finally, he arises, glares at COYOTE1 &
COYOTE2, bangs the gong)
CYRIL:
(Walks toward exit, motioning for COYOTE1
and COYOTE2 to attend him)
Everyone up! Everyone get up!
(Exits escorted by COYOTE1 and COYOTE2)
Everyone up! Everyone Up!
Everyone up! Everyone Up!
(Enter BRICK with clipboard and key on cord
around neck)
BRICK:
(Stares off in the direction CYRIL exited)
Coyotes! Taking over the darn place. I swear I can’t
get used to them.
(Enter ARTIE, with a letter)
What’s that you have there, Artie?
ARTIE:
A message.

87
BRICK:
A message?
ARTIE:
(Hands letter to BRICK)
In my mail box.
BRICK:
(Reads, then……)
Good God! Listen to this! Ali made it!
ARTIE:
Did she!

All right!

BRICK:
Says here a little girl found her. Lots of cuts on her
feet from the sharp rocks. She was bleeding, hiding
among the reeds at the riverbank. The little girl said,
“Daddy, look! Over there. A dog!” The father rushed
over, “She’s hurt, princess. She’s bleeding” “Can we
take her home, daddy? Can we?” “Of course, princess.”
Ali did the right thing. She got to the river and ran
in the shallow water. The coyotes lost track.
ARTIE:
Is there anything in there about - BRICK:
No.

(Overlaps)
Nothing.
ARTIE:

What do you think?
BRICK:
Well, Becky has dingo blood.

That’s always a plus.

ARTIE:
Let’s hope for the best then.
BRICK:
Maybe we’ll hear something tomorrow, or the day after.
ARTIE:
Or the day after the day after.
Good for you, Ali.

BRICK:
Good for you.
ARTIE:

Keep the letter, Brick.
BRICK:
Thanks, Artie.

88
Oh oh.

ARTIE:
(A jerk of the head)
Careful. Look who’s coming.
(ARTIE exits. BRICK hides letter on his
clipboard. Enter Cyril with COYOTE1 &
COYOTE2)

CYRIL:
Keeping things shipshape around here?
BRICK:
Yup. Everything’s copacetic.
things.

I’m staying on top of

CYRIL:
(A sly expression)
On top of things, you say? You quite sure about that?
Reason I’m asking is. I was just over at the coyote
fence. And guess what I saw?
I saw what appeared to
be a filled-in hole.
What?

But that.

BRICK:
That’s impossible!

CYRIL:
Impossible? There’s no such thing as impossible.
Everything can be explained. Marcus Aurelius said,
“The Universe loves nothing so much as change.” Now
take that hole over by the fence. Before there was a
hole, there wasn’t a hole. And then, by chance or
design, there was a hole. And then, once again, there
wasn’t a hole. A series of changes. And we’ve already
agreed the Universe loves change. You see that, don’t
you?
BRICK:
(Not really following this)
Uh, right yeah. Sure.
CYRIL:
Now mind you, the Universe is strictly big picture.
Meaning the Universe doesn’t do the pick and shovel
work. Therefore, another entity must have acted as the
agent of change. Because, let’s face it, you and I
both know holes
don’t get dug by themselves, nor do they get undug by
themselves. Capish?
(Turns to COYOTE1, chuckling)
Heenah. Sahafee terapessa naht?
COYOTE1
Awon.

(Laughs)
Sahafee naht.

89
(BRICK thinks the laughing is at his
expense. Of course, he’s right)
CYRIL:
Manjo agrees with me.

You see?

BRICK:
(Glares at COYOTE1)
Well, guess I’d best go and investigate.
CYRIL:
Yes. Do that. Sooner the better. Can’t have security
breaches.
People won’t respect us.
(BRICK exits in a huff. CYRIL sits in chair
& broods. COYOTE1 takes small book from
back pocket. Opens book and begins
practicing English with COYOTE2)
COYOTE1:
(Heavy Coyote accent)
Chair.
COYOTE2:
(Heavy Coyote accent)
Chair.
COYOTE1:
(Heavy Coyote accent)
Shoe.
COYOTE2:
(Heavy Coyote accent)
Shoe.
COYOTE1:
(Heavy Coyote accent)
Book.
COYOTE2:
(Heavy Coyote accent)
Book.
(COYOTE1 points to chair CYRIL is sitting
in)
COYOTE2:
Shoe.
(COYOTE1 growls at COYOTE2, shakes head)
Uh. Chair!
(COYOTE1 grunts approval, flashes okay high
sign)

90
CYRIL:
I say, you two are starting to get pretty good.
(COYOTE1 & COYOTE2 nod enthusiastically and
grin)
COYOTE1:
Brave.
COYOTE2:
Brave.
COYOTE1:
Mohammed Ali.
COYOTE2:
Mohammed Ali is brave.
COYOTE1:
Vin Diesel.
COYOTE2:
Vin Diesel is brave.
COYOTE1:
Cyril.
COYOTE2:
Cyril is brave.
Well, thank you.

CYRIL:
I’m truly touched.
COYOTE1:

Becky.
COYOTE2:
Becky is brave.
CYRIL:
What’s that you said?
COYOTE2:
Becky is brave.
CYRIL:
You said Becky? Listen to me now. Becky is a
troublemaker and a rebel against all established order.
I do not want to hear her name. Heenah mungid mūk
Becky yellam!
COYOTE2:
Yeebakwo Becky ha mehmee fwafwagun?

91
CYRIL:
Didn’t you hear what I just said? I don’t want to hear
that name in this place. Heenah bakah Becky na’oneh!
COYOTE2:
Henah kun Becky bakah!
CYRIL:
Don’t you talk back to me, you stupid savage! You
better learn some respect. Innatkin yet Becky abbat!
COYOTE2:
(Responding to a mortal coyote insult.
Growls and hisses. To COYOTE1, indicating
CYRIL with a jerk of the head)
Ashro yihtyo kejo Becky yet aydellim?
COYOTE1:
(Trying to stay neutral)
Ashro yellam.
CYRIL:
(Angry)
Excuse me! I didn’t quite catch that.
(COYOTE1 nods and smiles to CYRIL)
COYOTE2:
(To COYOTE1)
Amah tuk shwa yi’tiyo!
(Throws spear on ground.
Yet Becky aydellim!

To CYRIL)

CYRIL:
Why that little turncoat! How dare!
(Overlaps.
Nege asefa!

COYOTE2:
Begins to exit)
CYRIL:

You can’t quit!
COYOTE2:
(Makes gesture of contempt. Starts to exit)
Kejo yet! Becky! Becky! Becky!
Becky! Becky!
Wait!

Stop!

Garuh!

CYRIL:
You can’t!

(COYOTE2 exits)
CYRIL:
Damn!

Garuh left.

92
(COYOTE1 picks up spear on ground)
Manjo, go after Garuh.

CYRIL:
Talk some sense into him.

(COYOTE1 mimes refusal, indicating with hand
signals that COYOTE2 is in a violent mood)
CYRIL:
Please go after Garuh.

Please.

(COYOTE1 mimes refusal)
Uh listen.

CYRIL:
You’ll stay with me, won’t you?

You.

(COYOTE1 mimes uncertainty, neither yes or
no)
Manjo, I need you.

CYRIL:
You can’t leave me.

(COYOTE1 mimes uncertainty, neither yes or
no)
CYRIL:
Look, how about? I. I’ll give you Garuh’s food
ration. In addition to your own. How about that?
(COYOTE1 mimes uncertainty)
Well.

CYRIL:
Well, what else do you want, for God’s sake?
COYOTE1:
(Heavy Coyote accent)

Chocolate.
CYRIL:
Chocolate?
COYOTE1:
Chocolate.
CYRIL:
But dogs don’t eat chocolate.
(COYOTE1 begins to leave)
Okay okay! Chocolate. You’ll get chocolate.
(COYOTE1 stops, grins)
All the chocolate you want.
But.

(Enter ARTIE, brooding demeanor. CYRIL snaps
his finger, COYOTE1 assumes guard role)

93
CYRIL:
Dum de dum. Doowah. Artie, my boy. You look down in
the dumps. You look sad as a hound dog's eye. Can’t
have that. You work for me. I like my people upbeat,
full of pep, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed. Come on. Lose
that tragic mask. Capish?
ARTIE:
Yeah, I guess you’re right.
CYRIL:
Course I’m right. Look, boy. I know losing your Mom
left a big hole in your heart. I know it takes time to
heal. Now smile for me, boy. Remember, we all die.
Fact of life.
ARTIE:
Even you?
CYRIL:
(Flares up, slaps him, snarls)
You best watch your mouth, boy.
(
COYOTE1 advances on ARTIE snarling. CYRIL
laughs it off, pretends it was a joke. Hugs
ARTIE. COYOTE1 backs off)
CYRIL:
I like your spirit, boy. I truly do. You and me, we’re
going to be great partners. The sky’s the limit.
Now summon the people. I have some remarks prepared.
(ARTIE blows whistle)
Please everyone. Gather around. I have news.
(SHAWNA enters, snubs BRICK.

MARINE enters)

SHAWNA:
What’s up?
ARTIE:
Shhhhhhh.
Pipe down, everybody!

BRICK:
Okay, Cyr, you got the floor.

(ARTIE, BRICK, SHAWNA & MARINE form up in a
line. CYRIL stands on the stool. BRICK gives
MARINE an odd look. SHAWNA gives MARINE big
smile. CYRIL is too busy to notice)
CYRIL:
Thank you. First of all, Two new residents were
dropped off this morning: an airedale named Courtney
and a beagle named Dagmar. When you see them, please

94
CYRIL (Cont):
shout out a big Animal Shelter welcome. Secondly,
Garuh the coyote had to go back home for uh personal
reasons. She’ll be sorely missed by one and all.
(BRICK loudly clears throat)
Third, last month’s grommet production was down twentyfour percent from a year ago. I have approved
unlimited overtime to make up the shortfall.
(Groans from ARTIE, SHAWNA & BRICK)
Brick and Shawna will cross-train Courtney and Dagmar
on production methodology until we’re up to speed.
Questions?
(There are none)
Comments?
(There are none)
Any other business?
(MARINE comes to a snappy attention,
executes a left face, produces a letter,
holds it out. BRICK takes letter. MARINE
executes exaggerated salute, another left
face and exits marching. SHAWNA & BRICK
watch MARINE exit with wonder)
SHAWNA:
Well, open the letter!
BRICK:
Just hold your horses.
(He opens it, takes out official document)
Hurry!
House.

SHAWNA:
Read it! It might be Publisher’s Clearing
Or an offer for a free red leather collar.

BRICK:
I’m going as fast as I can.
(Clears throat. Reads)
“The President of the United States to Cyril the German
Shepherd, Greeting.”
Wow. The President!

SHAWNA:
For Cyril.

CYRIL:
I’m sure it’s to pick my brain on some leadership
matter. The President is always networking with
cutting edge innovators.

95
BRICK:
Wait.

There’s more.
(Reads)
“You are hereby ordered for induction into the United
States Armed Forces. You are directed to report to the
Assembly Room, 17th Floor, Federal Building.”
What?

CYRIL:
I’ve been drafted?

BRICK:
It says report tomorrow.
(BRICK hands letter to CYRIL)
CYRIL:
Tomorrow?!?
Wow!

ARTIE:
They sure don’t give you much time.

SHAWNA:
I’ll bet it’s some kind of secret mission.
BRICK:
Special Ops.
ARTIE:
Behind enemy lines.
Remember.

BRICK:
Give only your name, rank, serial number.

SHAWNA:
The President will disavow all knowledge.
ARTIE:
Eyes only.
SHAWNA:
Oh, this is so so cool!
But.

But I.

CYRIL:
I can’t go!

Oh, you have to.

BRICK:
President’s orders.

SHAWNA:
Yes, your patriotic duty.
ARTIE:
Who would respect you if you refused?

96
CYRIL:
But. But my work. All the work I’ve done to make this
a better place. What about my work?
BRICK:
We’ll watch over things.

Don’t worry.

SHAWNA:
We’ll make sure everything stays the same.
ARTIE:
We’ll even name the shelter after you.
SHAWNA:
In your honor.
BRICK:
The Cyrilic Animal Shelter.
ARTIE:
The whole world will know about you.
CYRIL:
Well, I am extremely touched.
ARTIE:
It’s the least we can do. We owe so much to you.
SHAWNA:
So very very much.
BRICK:
Ditto on that from me.
CYRIL:
Well, my goodness. For once, I’m at a loss for words.
So, I have nothing to worry about.
ARTIE:
Hey, you haven’t much time. You better get cracking.
CYRIL:
Oh my goodness. You’re right.
(Looks at letter)
7 am.

I have to report by

ARTIE:
You know what they say about the army. They do more
before morning chow than most people do all day.
CYRIL:
(Begins to make his exit, gestures to
COYOTE1 to accompany him)
Well, thank you all. I will write when I can.

97
SHAWNA:
Oh yes, write often. Postcards are best.
BRICK:
So long, Cyril.
ARTIE:
Adios!
(CYRIL & COYOTE1 exit. ARTIE, SHAWNA &
BRICK watch, continuing to wave)
ARTIE:
As soon as they’re outside, lock it. Are they outside?
BRICK:
Not yet. A few more feet. Wait.

Wait.

Not yet.

Geez!

SHAWNA:
This suspense is driving me crazy!

Okay.

Okay.

BRICK:
Just a little more.
SHAWNA:

Will they hurry up?
BRICK:
Okay, NOW!
(They exit. Sound of a gate slamming.
Silence. MARINE enters, removes mask,
revealing BECKY)
BECKY:
Ta-da! Well, what did you expect from the smartest,
most beautiful, most loyal, hardest working dog in the
world? After all, I’m half Dingo. There’s no dog in
the world that can match me, one on one. But maybe I
should tone it down. There’s some who might think I’m a
braggart. Can’t see how they’d get that, but you just
can’t tell about some. I know. Hard to be humble. But
we ACD’s can out-modest anyone. Say, did you hear about
ACD’s in Desert Storm?
(Music in background, slowly building)
No? Well, it’s all in a day’s work. Saving lives, top
secret dispatches, reconnaissance behind enemy lines.
(Music drowns out monologue.
End of ACT II Scene 5
THE END

Blackout)

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