Leaping to Conclusion

by Christopher Dunning


Scene: Almost dusk at a beach resort somewhere on the US east coast. The only scenery required is as follows: an L-shaped rail up left to represent an upper floor wrap-around balcony at the corner of an ocean-view condo. Behind the balcony is a half open sliding door and drape to represent the entrance from the balcony to the apartment. On the balcony are a chair and to its left a small table. Down right there is a straight rail to represent an upper floor balcony of another condo across the street. Observed anxiously by the YOUNG MAN and the YOUNG WOMAN from the balcony down right, the OLD SENIOR stands somewhat precariously on the chair on the balcony up left. Oddly, rather than face the beach, the OLD SENIOR faces the corner wall of his building. As the curtain rises, the OLD SENIOR is slowly raising his left hand to a horizontal position so that it almost touches the wall, then lowering it again. He does this repeatedly much to the puzzlement of the YOUNG MAN and the YOUNG WOMAN who, as evening draws on, are trying to figure out what he is doing. In the distance, there is the sound of the ocean and children playing on the beach. A light breeze occasionally ruffles the drape behind the sliding door.

THE YOUNG MAN (concerned, pointing)
There he goes again raising, lowering his hand. What the heck’s he doing? Tai Chi? He’ll fall for sure.

THE YOUNG WOMAN (squinting into the fading light)
There’s something in his hand. I think he’s painting the wall.

I can’t see a brush. It’s more like a metal extension to me, like a claw. That’s it. An artificial hand. I once knew a mountaineer…

(While the onlookers are talking, the OLD SENIOR gets down off his chair and moves left behind the table to the half open balcony door.)

THE YOUNG MAN (leaning forward over the rail and staring)
Now what’s he up to?

(The OLD SENIOR pops his head inside the door, withdraws it and closes the door. He then goes to the table and does something unclear to the onlookers.)

THE YOUNG WOMAN (frowning)
I think he’s wiping, dipping the paint brush.

THE YOUNG MAN (shaking his head)
You and your paint brush! It’s a pen. He’s writing something. Now that’s done, he’s –
(he bangs his forehead with his hand and begins to talk agitatedly as he watches the OLD SENIOR go back to the chair, rise once more like an aged statue and begin to raise his left hand again towards the wall.)
– oh my God, I see it all now – he closed the door to witnesses – wrote a suicide note – now he’s going to push himself off backwards – into oblivion.

THE YOUNG WOMAN (screaming at him)
Then for God’s sake do something, don’t just stand there talking! Call 911.
(She sobs, hiding her eyes.)
Poor Grandpa, I can’t look.

(The OLD SENIOR, hearing the woman’s cry and mistaking it for a halloo, turns, sees the YOUNG MAN and THE YOUNG WOMAN on the balcony over the street, removes his hand from the wall and waves. As he does so the light breeze finally catches the plastic wand in his left hand and a stream of bubbles cascades across the stage towards the two onlookers like translucent nebulae. Children open the sliding door and come out onto the OLD SENIOR’S balcony. They laugh and clap.)

THE YOUNG MAN (angry now)
Stupid old buzzard! He might have told us.


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