Number Three

(One act play)

 

SCENE: A warehouse office. Classically industrial. It is night outside, but no way to tell, even through the one large picture window along one of the long walls which looks down on a vast production filled with a web of convey belts on every level, high, medium and low, which carry cartons from aisles of pallet racks where an army of men pick boxes off pallets and onto the convey belts.

Roger, the warehouse manager, and the son of the companyís owner, stands before the window looking out. Hank, a supervisor, stands slightly to one side. Around them, a number of desks are piled high with paper work, and are cluttered with ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, and coffee cups half full with abandoned coffee. Near the window are several wall phones as well as a public address system, and several speakers.

 

ROGER: (Slamming down his clip board onto the cluttered surface of a desk)

††††††††††† Two days.

††††††††††† You tell me youíd been futzing with that belt for two days and didnít tell me it needed fixing.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† We thought we could hold off to the weekend and fix it then.

††††††††††† You know your father. Heíd have a fit if we tried to halt production.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† And nobody heard the tearing.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Not until it was too late.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† And you say we canít get the parts to fix it.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† They donít exist.

††††††††††† These conveyors are sold ancient; somebodyís going to have to cannibalize another system to get parts for us.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Meantime, weíre going to have to do something to keep up production.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† What can we do?

††††††††††† We canít have people carting the stuff to the loading dock with hand trucks.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† We can start up number three until we get number nine fixed.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Number three?

††††††††††† Do you want to give your old man a heart attack?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Itís that or fall further behind. You know how my old man hates that.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† But number three?
††††††††††† None of the old timers will go near it.


ROGER: (looking up at the conveyor closest to the ceiling)

††††††††††† Then reassign some of the newer men.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Thatís asking for trouble.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Youíre not telling me you believe all that old guff

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Youíre father does.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† My father believes a lot of things.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† People have seen things.

††††††††††† Some got hurt.

††††††††††† Some have even died.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Itís still superstitious crap.

††††††††††† People get hurt, even die in this industry all the time.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Youíve never worked number three.

††††††††††† So you donít know what itís like.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Damn it, Hank.

††††††††††† Iíve heard all this since I was a kid, mysterious voices and shapes.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† The spirits of the dead.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Echoes and a vivid imagination.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Youíre father knows better.

††††††††††† He saw them, too.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† My own man believes in leprechaun, too.

††††††††††† Just get on the phone and get someone up there.

††††††††††† We have a schedule to keep

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Maybe you should call your father first.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Iím boss here now.

††††††††††† If I have to do it myself, I wonít need you as a supervisor.

††††††††††† Call somebody to start up number three or I will.

 

HANK: (grabbing for a phone)

††††††††††† All right, Iím calling.

(then into the phone)

The boss says we have to start up number three

††††††††††† Donít give me lip.

††††††††††† Send up Kelly andÖ

††††††††††† Tell him to be careful.

(hangs up the phone and turns to Roger)

††††††††††† I sure hope you know what youíre doing.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† I know what my father will say if we fall behind.

††††††††††† Heís say Iím incompetent, even though heís the one who pushed and pushed for me to take over here.

††††††††††† Heís never really had any faith in my ability to make decisions.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† He may question your abilities more after this.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† †Maybe.

And maybe its time when came out of the dark ages and stopped believing in old wives tales.


HANK:

††††††††††† Sometimes thereís wisdom in those tales.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† About ghosts and demons?

††††††††††† Are you crazy, too?

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Being cautious is not crazy.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Leaving a whole line empty for years because someone once said they saw a ghost there is crazy.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† It was more than one person.

 

 

(The phone rings. Hank grabs it up,

 

††††††††††† Are you sure?

 

( then holds his hand over the mouth piece to speak with Roger)

 

††††††††††† We got trouble.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† What kind of trouble?

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Itís Kelly.

††††††††††† Heís up top on number three, but heís freaking out.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Whatís the matter with him, is he scared of heights?

 

HANK:
††††††††††† Scared of ghosts is more like it.

 

ROGER: (Grabbing the public address microphone)

††††††††††† Kelly, get your ass down from there right now.

 

HANK: (listening to the phone but speaking to Roger)

††††††††††† Thatís not helping anything, Boss

††††††††††† Billy says, Kellyís too scared to move. He keeps going on about the ghost killing him if he moves.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† For Christís sake

††††††††††† Is every body in this place crazy?

 

(speaks into the PA system again)

 

††††††††††† You come down from there, Kelly, or youíre fired.

 

HANK(relaying from the telephone)

††††††††††† Billy says, Kelly wonít come down.

††††††††††† Better no job than no head.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† This is insane!

††††††††††† Canít we send someone up to bring him down?

 

HANK:

††††††††††† No one else will go.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† So weíre just going to let him sit there?

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Maybe nowís a good time to call your father.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† What the hell for?

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Heís been through this before. Heíll know what to do.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† No way.

††††††††††† My old man already thinks Iím the worldís biggest screw up. Iím not going to give him any more evidence to use against me.

††††††††††† I have to deal with this myself.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† You canít solve this by shouting at Kelly.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Do you expect me to go up there and get him down myself?

 

HANK:

††††††††††† You sent him up there.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Look Iíve heard all the stories my father tells, about the poor fool Ė what was his name, Johnson -- †who lost his head when the belt broke, and how he hung there like that for hours as people scrambled to get him down.

††††††††††† But I donít believe that the manís ghost haunts number three collecting heads of others in hopes of finding his own.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† And yet you have to admit other people have lost their heads.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† One other. A coincidence

 

HANK:

††††††††††† But a lot more have fallen or gotten hurt.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† So?

 

HANK:

††††††††††† So youíre afraid to go up there and see for yourself.

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Iíve been up there Ė once.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† You have? When?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† When I first started here. I was young and foolish, and wanted to see if there was any truth to all the talk.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† And was there any truth to the stories?

 

ROGER: (laughs uncomfortably)

††††††††††† I thought so at the time.

††††††††††† I know I heard things when I climbed up, strange voices, maybe laughing.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Did you see anything?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Nothing I would admit to later.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† But you did see something?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† I was young, and impressionable.

††††††††††† All those stories my father told filled my head.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† What did you think you saw?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Mist or smoke.

††††††††††† I donít know.

††††††††††† At least, thatís what I thought I saw at first.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† And then?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Faces and shapes.

††††††††††† Iím sure it was just my imagination.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Thatís all?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† I thought they were whispering at me.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† What did they say?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† They kept calling my name.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Your name?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† They thought I was my father.

††††††††††† Thatís who they really wanted, I think.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Youíre father? Why?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† They seem to be blaming him for something.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Youíre father was up there when Old Johnson lost his head.

††††††††††† Do you think thereís a connection?

ROGER:

††††††††††† I asked my father that later. He went into a rage.

††††††††††† At the time I thought he was angry about risking my life by going up there.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Now you think differently?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† I donít know what I think.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† What do we do about Kelly?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† Have Billy ask him if he hears any voices.

 

HANK: (Into the phone)

††††††††††† Billy, you there?

††††††††††† Ask Kelly if he hears any voices.

††††††††††† You sure?

(Holds his hand over the mouth piece as he turns to Roger)

††††††††††† Billy says Kelly keeps hearing your name Ė of if your right, your fatherís name.

††††††††††† You think maybe we should call your old man NOW?

 

ROGER:

††††††††††† My father has managed to avoid going up there all these years, I donít think heíll do so now, not even to save Kellyís life.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† We canít just leave Kelly up there.

††††††††††† Billy says heís scared enough to jump.

 

ROGER: (putting down his clip board on one of the desks, then heads towards the door

††††††††††† We wonít leave him up there

††††††††††† I sent him up there, Iíll get him down.

 

HANK:

††††††††††† Even if it means losing your head?

 

ROGER (Pauses, and nods)

††††††††††† Iím my fatherís son.

 

(fade)

 

 


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