#31plays31days Y6 #26. The Fowl Trick


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.


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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