#31plays31days Y6 #26. The Fowl Trick

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THE FOWL TRICK – A Short Play By Paul Hagen

 

Lightning illuminates an abandoned railway car, in which sits CHARLIE — a middle-aged gentleman in a rain-splattered trench coat and fedora. Roused from quiet contemplation by a rolling thunder, he stumbles center stage looking rather frazzled.

 

CHARLIE: I don’t know how long ago, I’ve lost all track of time,

Since someone did this to me — this truly heinous crime.

But I will tell the story of what happened, that I’ll do.

In hopes that no one someday does the same damn thing to you.

I was walking one night through a none-too-wealthy part of town:

Mostly I was moving forward, keeping my head down

When suddenly a creature in a window caught my eye.

I stopped there in my tracks. I had to. I will tell you why:

She was seated in a storefront window, with a sparkling curtain,

Staring out into the street — she seemed determined, just so certain

That once she caught my eye I’d enter, and that’s what I did.

There was something that I had to see, that in her lap she hid.

“What have you got there?” I wondered after stumbling in the door,

Even though I wasn’t really sure what I’d gone in there for.

Why I needed it revealed to me, I didn’t understand,

Then she pulled it from her garment and I saw it in her hand:

At first I thought: This can’t be real — this lovely little thing

But then it turned its face up at me and began to sing.

It trilled and tittered, I was charmed by every chirp and peep

It seemed to beg me: “Take me home!” I watched it squirm and leap

From one hand to the other of the strange, shadowy lady

I asked, her “Will you sell it to me?” though she seemed quite shady.

“I will,” she whispered in a rasp that struck me as quite queer.

“Except it’s very special; so the price is rather dear.”

“It’s just a little bird,” I said. “How pricey can it be?”

“It’s more than just a bird. It’s magic. Watch and you will see.”

With that the bird – who was a rather shocking shade of pink

Became a bold bright blue within the quickness of a blink.

Now that was something that I’d never seen a birdie do.

“But how?” I asked. “I wished for it,” she answered. “So can you.”

And in that moment all these possibilities occurred

The things that I could do if it were my wish-granting bird.

She quoted me a price I found to be, frankly, too high.

I handed her my credit card. “Declined,” she said. “But why?”

I asked. “Have you another card, perhaps?” I had a debit.

“Put in your pin and that should do — since you can’t use your credit.”

I did. She said, “That’s incorrect. Perhaps you could pay cash?”

I emptied out my wallet; she took the entire stash.

And she caged up the birdie, who still seemed to be quite mellow

And by this point had turned a fascinating shade of yellow.

Concerned my cards had not gone through I rushed into the night

Realized I’d left my gloves, I turned – the store was gone from sight

And furthermore, to heighten my alarming state of plight,

The bird had lost all color — now a dull and greyish white.

I tried to call an Uber but it wouldn’t take my card.

And neither would the ATM. I took it pretty hard.

So angrily I called my credit company about

The situation and they said that my card was maxed out.

And desperately I called my bank, for I now feared a con.

They told me my account had been already overdrawn.

Wearily I started walking home, then came the rain.

I wandered here into this railyard, feet aching in pain.

I fell asleep here, on this dusty old cargo car’s floor.

When I awoke after a while my whole body was sore

And then I noticed somehow — on the bird’s crate — that the door

Was open, the bird: gone! I cursed that woman and her store!

For now I had no cash, no credit, my phone’s charge was dead!

How could I let this happen? Had I no sense in my head?

 

CHARLIE hangs his head in shame, takes a handkerchief out of his pocket and wipes his brow before addressing the crowd again.

 

So if you’re ever in a none-too-wealthy part of town,

And someone tries to sell you something strange, please turn them down.

Don’t give away your credit card or pin — it could be theft!

Don’t give away your cash — it might be all that you have left!

And if you see a woman in a window — don’t you go!

And if you see my birdie — well… I hope you’ll let me know.

 

CHARLIE picks up an empty cage and begins to looks forlornly around the railcar for his missing bird as LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

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About misterpaulhagen

Editor-in-Chief of Metrosource Magazine - http://www.metrosource.com. Contributor to Sirius/XM's The Focus Group - http://focusgroupradio.com. Co-creator and Master of Ceremonies of the "Casual Fridays" podcast, which you can download free here - http://itun.es/i6t6b6 - Graduate of Fordham University
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