DEATH & TAXES - A Play in Two Acts

DEATH & TAXES - A Play in Two Acts

Act 1 : The curtain opens on a man seated at his dining room table surrounded by piles of income tax paperwork. He is dressed in dark blue sweatpants and a white t-shirt. His hair is a mess and his face unshaven. The only sounds are the ticking of the clock on the wall and the scribbling of the man at the table. Suddenly, there is a loud snap as the pencil breaks.

Man (aloud): "Damn! Not another broken pencil! I'll never finish these damn taxes!"

He arises to retrieve another pencil from the kitchen. As he fumbles through the junk drawer he turns to the audience...

Man (aside): "It's April 15th! Good grief! April 15th is known for three things - the death of Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic, and the day taxes are due! Of the three, I think I'd choose the Titanic ... at least I'd have the option of dressing like a woman and sneaking aboard one of the lifeboats! With death and taxes - there's no escape. Death, I have no control over. And taxes ... why do I always wait until the eleventh hour?"

The man's thoughts are interrupted by three loud knocks at the front door.

Man (to himself): "Great ... what could this be?"

He opens the door on a tall stranger wearing a black hooded cloak and holding a sickle. 'Tis Death.

Man: "Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying.  Goodbye."

Death: "I am not selling anything."

Man (Impatiently): "Well, then what can I do for you?"

Death: "I am Death. I have come to collect you."

Man: "I think you have the wrong house." (Tries to shut the door)

Death (Holding open the door): "Sir, I am at the correct house. I am here to collect you and take you away to the afterlife."

Man (Laughs): "The afterlife. That's a good one. Listen buddy, I'm right in the middle of doing my taxes. How about if you come back next week." (Tries again to shut the door)

Death: "I do not think you understand. I am Death. You are dead. You died last night ... you choked on a humongous piece of chicken! Perhaps you remember the gagging fits?! And the fruitless gasping for air?! (Pushes open door and steps inside) Now, if you don't mind, I'm running a bit late and I still have to pick up a little old lady in the next town who snuffed it earlier today while drinking her morning cup of coffee ... spilled coffee all over the rug ... such a same, it was an expensive Oriental."

Man: "Okay, Death ... or whoever you are ... you see, the thing is, I've got all these tax forms to fill out and ..."

Death: "Sir, you are not listening. You are dead. Deceased. Kaput. There is no need to fill out any more of these earthly tax forms." (Death waves his hand and the tax forms fly off the table)

Rather long silence.

Man (Hesitating): "Are you trying to tell me ... that I'm dead?"

Death: (Sighing) "Yes, that is exactly what I am trying to tell you."

Man: "And that you're Death?"

Death: "Right again."

Man: "The Death?"

Death: "The one and only."

Man: "And that I don't have to finish my taxes?"

Death: "Right-o."

Man: "Wow ... this must be my lucky day. What are we waiting for? Hey, am I dressed okay for the afterlife?"

Death: "You look fine."

Man: "Great ... let's get going."

The man and Death walk off stage together. Curtain closes.

Act 2: Curtain opens on the man in the afterlife, at some sort of resort, wearing trendy beach apparel, taking dips in the pool and sipping champagne. He settles into a lounge chair. Strangely, he is alone except for a waiter wearing a red jacket and black pants ... who approaches. 

Man (Smiling): "Boy, this afterlife is fantastic!"

Waiter: "I'm glad you're enjoying yourself, sir. May I get you another drink?"

Man: "Sure. Another glass of champagne!"

After a few moments the waiter returns with a tray holding the lone glass of champagne. He hands the glass to the man. As he turns to leave, the man calls after him.

Man: "Excuse me ... waiter ... I have a question."

Waiter: "Yes, sir."

Man: "Am I the only person here? Besides you, of course."

Waiter: "No, there are many others."

Man (Looking around him): "Where? I don't see anybody."

Waiter: "They're all in their rooms."

Man: "In their rooms? For heaven's sake, why? It's a beautiful day. They should be out here basking in the sun and swimming in the pool and drinking champagne cocktails."

Waiter: "Well, sir, they're all busy."

Man: "Busy? Busy doing what?"

Waiter: "Doing their taxes, of course."

Man: "Huh? What do you mean doing their taxes?"

Waiter: "Well, sir, after all it is April 15th."

Man: "April 15th?! I don't understand - this is the afterlife!"

Waiter: "Everyday here is April 15th. Completed tax forms are due by midnight. And ... (smiling) ... you don't want to know what the penalty is if you're late."

Man: "Late?! Taxes?! What do you mean every day is April 15th?! What is this place?!!!"

The waiter laughs a long hideous laugh. The man, realizing his predicament, screams. The curtain closes.                                                                           The End.

Jack Sheedy

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