THE PRODIGAL SON
By Debra Moolenaar
( a short play inspired by Camus’ “The Outsider”)
NARRATOR: (to us.) Listen up. Your life may depend on it. Think you can play around and not get burned? Think again.
MRS NOVAK: Let me get this straight, Mr Kermak. You want me to believe you once lived here in this stinking hole of a town?
KERMAK: That’s right, ma’am. Indeed I did. Must have been, oh, twenty years ago, now, since I left Ustecky Kraj. Doubtless, I look quite different, especially in this fine hand-made cashmere suit from Savile Row. When I went away, I was wearing nothing but denim rags. I’ve done quite well for myself in London. But surely you must remember me?
MRS NOVAK: I’ve got a photogenic memory, Sir, and you’re not in it.
ANICKA NOVAK: What my ma is a saying, mister, is that this here village is so small there’s no way we wouldn’t know ya if you’d have lived here like you say.
MRS NOVAK: That’s right precious child. You know, Mr What’s-Your-Name, I had another child once, a son, whom I loved more than anything. I worked three jobs to put him through school and how did he reward me? He ran off. One snowy night, just like tonight, he disappeared without a word and I ain’t heard heads nor tails of him for nigh on twenty years.
KERMAK: There might have been a good reason for that.
MRS NOVAK: Ain’t no reason good enough for breaking a poor old woman’s heart.
KERMAK: Are you religious ma’am?
ANICKA NOVAK: What kind of question is that to put to a complete stranger?
MRS NOVAK: Why do you ask?
KERMAK: If you were religious, then you’d know the biblical story of the prodigal son.
MRS NOVAK: Never heard of it.
ANICKA NOVAK: You mean the one where the fool of a father welcomes his even more foolish son home after having disappeared for years? Best I recall, the stupid old geezer even killed a fattened calf for a celebration and didn’t that piss off the older brother, who’d stayed at home and worked his tail off for the old man. Bet he got his revenge.
KERMAK: Perhaps like the father in the story, Mrs Novak, you might forgive your own son should he show up here some snowy night to surprise you.
ANICKA NOVAK: What a stupid suggestion. Just goes to show, mister, that you ain’t from these parts after all, else you’d know that’s not our way.
KERMAK: What is your way then, if I might ask.
MRS NOVAK: You may not ask, Mr Busy Body. Didn’t your ma teach you to mind your own business?
KERMAK: My mother didn’t have much time to teach me anything when I was growing up, although I daresay she thinks otherwise.
MRS NOVAK: Probably working her fingers to the bone to take care of you.
KERMAK: Perhaps. At any rate, I’d like to stay the night here in your hotel. I’ll pay cash for the room. As you can see here, I’ve plenty of that.
ANICKA NOVAK: Wooo, baby. I ain’t seen so much money in all my life.
KERMAK: As I mentioned I’ve been quite successful in business.
ANICKA NOVAK: Ain’t you scared carrying around a wad like that? I would be especially in a place like Ustecky Kraj.
KERMAK: Of course not. Nothing untoward will happen to me.
MRS NOVAK: Why do you want to stay here, Mr Show-off? With money like that to burn, I’d think the newly tarted up Hotel Royale across the street would be more to your taste. They’ve got a ballroom and a grand piano.
KERMAK: I like it here and, besides, I’d like to share my good fortune with you.
ANICKA NOVAK: You playing around with us? Cause if you are….
KERMAK: I…I’d never do a thing like that Miss Novak.
MRS NOVAK: I don’t want your good fortune, Mr Nobody, but I do want your cash. Christmas is in less than a week and I haven’t a single booking. Anicka, take this key and show the gentleman upstairs to the presidential suite. A man of such quality must sleep like a king.
ANICKA and KERMAK exit.
MRS NOVAK: I’m going to kitchen to sharpen my butcher’s knife on account of I think, thanks to God, we’ve just been delivered our own fatted calf. (exits).
NARRATOR: (to us.) Prodigal son indeed.
(to be continued)