‘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.


Two-Word (Revised) Farewell Speech

Good riddance.

Four-Word Farewell Speech
Good riddance, you prick.

Eight-Word Farewell Speech
Good riddance, you prick. And don’t come back.

Sixteen-Word Farewell Speech
Good riddance, prick. You know, we assume, we’re going to miss you. But don’t come back.

Thirty-Two-Word Farewell Speech
Prick. Don’t come back. But, seriously, we’re going to miss you. I don’t know how we’ll replace your diligence and wisdom. You were such a bastard, I don’t know why we’d try.

Sixty-Four-Word Farewell Speech
Prick. Don’t come back. We’ll miss you. But we’re not going to replace you. You did some good things while you were here. That’s not what we’ll remember you for, of course, but I could list a few of them right now, I’m sure. The problem is I am running out of words, so I will end with this: The door is that way.

Go West — Please

Time: About halfway through the film “Birdman of Alcatraz.”
Scene: The office of the editor of The Kansas City Star. A woman is explaining to the editor her relationship to Robert Stroud, the famous “birdman of Alcatraz.”

Newspaper editor (quizzically): Let me understand you, now. Are you trying to tell me that you married a man serving a life term in solitary at Leavenworth Penitentiary?

Stella (haltingly): Yes. Yes.

Newspaper editor: And where did the ceremony take place?

Stella: At the penitentiary.

Newspaper editor: At the, uh, prison chapel, no doubt.

Stella (with indignity): No, sir. It was a civil ceremony.

Newspaper editor: And are you further trying to tell me that it is now nearly an hour and a half into the film “Birdman of Alcatraz” and we are not even in California yet?!