PAGES 1-10 PAGES 11-20 PAGES 21-30 PAGES 31-44
PAGES 45-54 PAGES 55-64 PAGES 65-74 PAGES 75-83


[The sound of breathing, then a speeding car. Lights up on a hotel room. JOHN and GREG, two young salesmen in sports-coats, are holding drinks, staring at each other. GREG is standing. JOHN sits on the bed. GREG is also holding a gun. Silence.]

GREG: Answering questions is frightening shit John. The fact of the matter is---I get scared.

[GREG offers the gun to JOHN, holding it out for him to take.]

JOHN: The frames?

GREG: After.

JOHN [JOHN thinks. Then...]: Well, beats trying to de-scramble the porno channel.

[JOHN takes the gun. Hip theme music for JOHN'S DAD begins to rise.]

GREG [After raising his glass and clinking it to John's, he downs his drink.]: I gotta piss.

JOHN: By all means, please, piss.

GREG: Then we'll leave. [He exits.]

[JOHN ponders gun for a moment.]

[Light up on DAD wearing a white suit and holding a martini. JOHN sees him, his eye twitches.]

DAD [Addressing the audience.]: GET your palm off that remote! DON'T you dare touch a button. "You could be missing the opportunity of a lifetime." How many times have salesmen like yourselves reiterated that line? Well I'm here to tell you that THIS time ALL you hear is true! Why? I'm John Pacentini, honest and successful sales rep for over thirty years and I believe in my methods of salesmanship to such an incredibly high degree that I bought time in my very own son's subconscious to tell you ‘bout it.

[JOHN puts the gun to his head.]

DAD: Sitting in another anonymous hotel room? Exhausted? Chasing leads down dead end streets, repping lines nobody wants? Well for the next two hours I'm gonna give you back that twinkle, back that magic that you thought was lost with my new [produces book] Survival Guide for the Traveling Salesman. Regular 29.99, this Bible on the dos and don'ts, ins and outs, of the American Salesman can be yours right now for the incredibly low price of 19.99 if you call the number right now currently running along the bottom of your screen.

[BABE has strutted in now, holding a 1-800 number. JOHN twitches.]

DAD: Now I know what you're thinking—you're thinking "I don't believe it"—

BABE: "I don't believe it!"

DAD: "The old man's a salesman like me, I know the type, he knows how to work me for a patsy, why should I trust him?" [BABE tosses the number offstage.] Well, not only am I one of the few, the true, the proud, and the last of the honest salesmen…but I'm dead! I'm a corpse! I no longer exist, what the hell do I want money for? I'm doing this for you! [He turns to JOHN.] and for you.

[The music stops. DAD and BABE look at JOHN with the gun to his head.]

JOHN: [To the audience.] I never thought it would come to this.

BABE: [After a beat.] Welcome to scenic Utah!

[Light change. DAD exits.]

JOHN: I think my insanity became undeniable by the time I rolled into Utah.

[DICK appears at the restaurant booth eating burgers.]

DICK: Welcome to scenic Utah!

JOHN: I had an appointment with Dick.

DICK: Did you bring your skis?!

JOHN: Dick's a frame rep like me.

DICK: Young buck like you must want to do some skiin'!

JOHN: Except my territory is Washington.

DICK: Its God's country is what it is!

JOHN: And to my father I was doing something unholy—

DICK: Johnny dad gummit, it's good to see you!

JOHN: People in Utah never swear. [To DICK:] Good to see you too Dicky, how are ya? Say—how's that Limpkin's workin'?

DICK: Limpkin's?

JOHN: Limpkin's Deck Seal! Still got some in my trunk!

DICK: That crud? I'd just as soon urinate on my deck—dan-nabbit John that oil and vinegar couldn't protect my porch from a mosquito terd.

JOHN: A mosquito terd—

DICK: No! I only bought that stuff because of your father—say you drive here Johnny?

JOHN: I'm drivin' from now on Dick.

DICK: Now just because your father died in a plane wreck by no means figures that you will too! How many times does TWA fall out of the sky? Huh? You gotta have trust in the Good Lord. The Good Lord will protect you— Now Johnny, I don't have a job for ya.

JOHN: I didn't think you did Dick—

DICK: Now, sure, sure, sure you didn't—But I don't need an outside sales rep—

JOHN: I'm not lookin' to be—

DICK: I know, I know, but you drive all the way down here…

JOHN: Dick!— I'm done with sales. —I don't want to be in sales anymore.

DICK: Well actually I figured…

JOHN: Traveling, hotels, throwing burgers down my throat. I'm not cut out for it. I thought I'd write a book about it instead. [Laughs.] What do you think?

DICK: [A beat. Serious.] What are you doin' here, Johnny?

JOHN: [Also serious.] You need a little extra money, Dicky?

DICK: I'm listenin'.

JOHN: When you quit repping a line, what's the first thing you do?

DICK: You get another line.

JOHN: Before that.

DICK: You wait for your final check.

JOHN: And what do you have to do to get your final check?

DICK: What is this? A quiz?

JOHN: Work with me Dick.

DICK: To get your final check you got to send back your samples.

JOHN: Exactly! [JOHN pulls out an attaché case and opens it. It's filled with eyeglass frames.] I got another sample case exactly like this in my trunk.

DICK: With the Limpkin's? [A laugh. He's interested now.] You never sent these back?

JOHN: They mailed me my final check—and then never asked for ‘em.

DICK: Oliver Peoples, Harley Davidson, Guess, Armani? These are expensive, Johnny—

JOHN: Your small dealers? Mom and Pop's? You could sell these frames all over the tri-state area…

DICK: I could use some extra cash…

JOHN: Atta boy Dicky…

DICK: I'll take a couple of these gold wires…

JOHN: Aach! [He slams the case shut.]

DICK: What?

JOHN: No onesey-twoseys— no cherry pickin' on this one Dick—Deal!

DICK: No counter? Johnny, Johnny you're givin' in too early. Now my checkbook's at home so you're goin' to have to follow me. You remember my wives: Marge, Doris, Barb…

JOHN: Yes, how are Marge, Doris, Barb…

DICK: Oh fine, fine, fine-- So, tell me, what's this book you're goin' to write?

JOHN: It's a how-to book on sales.

[DICK begins to laugh. He laughs hard. He feels his heart and then dies in his French fried potatoes.]

JOHN: Dick? Dick? Shit.

[DAD theme music. A light up on DAD with a book. He closes curtain on the scene.]

DAD: Survival Guide for Salesmen by John Pacentini Senior. Forward. If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck don't be tellin' me it's a damn chicken. Everyone is in the sales business. If you think you aren't you're fooling yourself-- everyday everyone is selling a product, a service, or themselves and if you don't, you don't eat. Anyone with a nice car has sold a lot of product-- But there's a right way and a wrong way [Shutting book: To John:] It's actually a good thing Dicky died today. Honesty John. It wasn't an honest sale. [Looking at John's eye.] What's wrong with you?

JOHN: I don't know. An eye flutter. Began this morning.

DAD: See?! That's your conscience!

[Light up on BABE with a book, her theme music kicks in.]

BABE: [To JOHN:] Don't be a pussy! [To audience:] Survival Guide for SalesPEOPLE by Babe Dupree. Forward. Three words for ya: Contacts, contacts, contacts. Use those connections! Any sale is a good sale. Any big sale is a great sale. And a conscious man is a broke man. [Shutting book: To JOHN:] Honesty?! You're a sales representative! You don't even sell your own products-- you're a manufacturer's ass boy!

DAD: Being dumped was a good thing John. Nobody liked her.

BABE: If you thought I was going to spend the rest of my life in some beach shack in Bum-fuck Oregon burning pellets to keep warm you've got to be living in the Eisenhower Administration.

JOHN: [To audience:] I got the house I want all picked out.

[Sounds of the beach: waves, seagulls, surf…]

BABE: Oh boy, here we go.

JOHN: It's just off the Oregon Coast, south of Cannon Beach.

DAD: Your age I was on a beach too-- except mine was in Korea…

JOHN: It's beautiful. In the back yard there's this path that winds through some trees, past a couple cabins to a staircase--

DAD: --you need a good war--

JOHN: --that descends five tiers down a cliff to the white sand and churning surf--

DAD: --you should have signed up for that Gulf thing over there--

JOHN: --it's a two-bedroom cabin. Nothing fancy. Washer/Dryer hookup, dishwasher, hardwood floors--

BABE: P-lease.

DAD: You can have it John-- but honestly.

JOHN: --composting area, room for a garden and this great doggie door flap on the back door--

BABE: --that's it I'm outta here--

JOHN: --that's just big enough to fit a smiling black lab after a long day of chasing seagulls-

BABE: Little House on the Prairie's been cancelled John, Michael Landon is dead!

JOHN: It's ten minutes to town--

DAD: [Grabbing Babe.] You loved him. I saw you. [DAD exits.]

JOHN: --and an hour from Portland if you feel the need for some city life. It's a lot of money, but if I sell these frames plus the money I've saved I'll have well over ten percent down--

BABE: John?

JOHN: Add in an FHA loan? I could cover a thirty-year mortgage payment with bag boy wages.

BABE: John.

JOHN: Plus the sales of my book! Don't forget that!

BABE: John?


BABE: Do you like pie?

JOHN: Do I like pie?

BABE: Do you like pie?

JOHN: Pie, like apple pie?

BABE: Yea.

JOHN: Do I like it? [A beat.] Babe I loved you I really…

BABE: Fuck that and answer the question! Do you like pie!

JOHN: Yes! I like pie!

BABE: Well so do I. [A beat.] But I like cake too. [She exits.]

JOHN: [Storm noises begin.] I want that house! I want that house you hear me! And I'll have it-- I want my house, and I want my black lab, and my morning paper, and my punch bowl sized coffee mug and I'm gonna sit on my favorite log with my dark glasses and a big umbrella and I'm gonna sip my coffee and pet my dog and---

[Light on GREG lighting a cigar.]

GREG: Merely preoccupation.

JOHN: Can't breathe-- Don't want to be this person.

GREG: Answering questions can be frightening shit John. [Light fades out.]

JOHN: I just want to be able to breathe. Stand there facing west into a Pacific storm. Eyes closed. And it'll come to me. Rain pelting my skull, sand stinging my face, and the wind whistling high pitched and fast in my ears. And I'd breathe. And then I'd see him. Myself. I'd see the person I want to become. [Crosses to bed and lies down.] In and out. And if not? Those storms on that coast have been turning rock into sand for eternity. You can breathe, see, smell, and you can feel on that coast… beat you to sand.

[The sound of breathing has risen. The lights become low. DAD pops in and tiptoes up to JOHN'S ear.]

DAD: [Loudly.] Survival Guide for Salesmen Chapter One. [A buzzer goes off, JOHN wakes up and gets ready.] Any salesman whose worth his salt is going to wake up every morning and not know where the hell they're at. You've narrowed your ass down to a position on the earth, in a hotel room, in I'll Be Damned if I Know USA and that's about it. Looking out the window used to give you a clue, but now all you get is a strip mall-- just ‘cause you see a Boston Market by no means indicates you're in friggin' Beantown. Instead just pick up one of them handy dandy travel brochures that's usually lying on the end table next to the bed.

[DAD hands brochure to JOHN and exits.]

JOHN : Welcome to Cheyenne? Wyoming? I'm supposed to be in Denver!

[JOHN fumbles out the door. Sound of a speeding car. Light change. JOHN fumbles back in, drops his suitcase and runs to end table and picks up brochure.]

JOHN: Ah! Welcome to Denver.

[Light up on BABE.]

BABE: Survival Guide for Salespeople Chapter Two. [JOHN does the following:] The first thing you want to do when you enter your room whether you're in the Hilton or Motel 6 is to take the bedspread off the bed and throw it in the corner as soon as possible. Immediately. Hotels and Motels will wash the sheets of course, and occasionally the blankets, but rarely, if ever will they wash the bedspread. The last thing you want at night next to your face is something that has been intimate with millions of other people's stinky feet and genitalia. That thing has been farted on, fucked on, and was probably used to wipe up spillage of one kind or another be it baby barf or some sweaty truck driver's Pabst Blue Ribbon. Or probably both.

[JOHN falls to the floor, a bit frazzled.]

JOHN: Now where was I?

BABE: Oh, allow me.


Back to E.T.A.: Phoenix Index

Copyright © 2004 by Nick Zagone

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that E.T.A.: Phoenix is subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional and amateur stage performing, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

Inquiries concerning all rights should be addressed to the author at zagonenick@icloud.com

Home · Full-Length Plays · One-Act Plays · 10 Minute Plays · Monologues · Email · © 2000 TheatreHistory.com