‘You Should Have Known Beta,’ a One-Act Play

A true story. Scene, a Brooklyn pet store. A customer, a beautiful woman, is buying a beta fish. She is also interrogating a store clerk, a thick-necked man, about why her previous fish died unexpectedly. The action is joined in the middle of the conversation:

CUSTOMER, worriedly: So you don’t think temperature was the problem?
CLERK, with confidence: Well, temperature is a problem. You don’t want it to be too cold or too hot.
CUSTOMER: So do you think that was it?
CLERK: Temperature? No.
The clerk pauses and looks ahead thoughtfully.
CLERK: Well, it is hard to say. You know, from what I saw of your fish.
CUSTOMER: Why’s that?
CLERK, gesturing to the back of the store: Because it was in four or five pieces.