Syndic No.30 ~ July 2020 “Table of Contents”
Syndic Literary Journal

Syndic No.30 ~ July 2020 “A Play In One Act” (Ladd)

 

“THE BOYS OF ‘76”

 

A Play in One Act

 

by

John Ladd

(Copyright  ©  John Ladd 2020)

 CHARACTERS

(In Order of Appearance)

 

JOHN ADAMS

THOMAS JEFFERSON

 

SETTING

            Somewhere in the hereafter.  There is a table and two chairs at center, downstage.  On the table there is a full- and open- bottle of red wine and two glasses.

 

 

AT RISE

            Enter from stage-left, JOHN ADAMS. He is dressed in pajamas, a bathrobe and is wearing slippers.

 

JOHN ADAMS

                        (calling out, semi-softly)

            Tom?

 

                        (pause to listen, then a bit louder)

 

            Tom?

 

                        (pause to listen)

 

            You awake?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        (from right, off-stage)

            I am, John

 

JOHN ADAMS

                        (walks to a chair and pulls it out)

            Why don’t you join me?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        (calling out)

            Sure, be right there.

 

 

                        [Enter THOMAS JEFFERSON from right-stage.  He, too,

                        is dressed in sleep clothes.  As he walks toward the table, he is yawning,

                        shaking the cobwebs out of his head and rubbing his eyes. 

JOHN ADAMS and THOMAS JEFFERSON sip and pour wine

throughout the play.]

 

JOHN ADAMS

                        (indicating to the other chair)

            Please, have a seat.

 

 

                        [JOHN ADAMS sits down as THOMAS JEFFERSON makes his way

                        to the table.]

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        (pulling out the other chair, sitting down and stretching)

            After all these years, I’m still trying to get used to the way that time passes.

 

                        (pause)

 

            Anyway, so, what’s up, what’s on your mind?

 

JOHN ADAMS

                        (nodding knowingly, but with concern)

            You been watching what’s been going on down there?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            How can I not?

 

JOHN ADAMS

            Disturbing?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            Of course it is.

 

                        (pause)

            How about you?

 

JOHN ADAMS

            I am- to say the least- bothered-

 

                        (pause)

 

            very bothered.

 

                        (pause)

 

            I feel like they’re undermining our grand design.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        (with a stifled laugh)

            That’s being kind.

 

JOHN ADAMS

            What?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            Your choice of words-

 

                        (pause, then with slow emphasis)

 

            undermining.

 

JOHN ADAMS

            How would you describe it?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        (with great certainty)

            With a word somewhere between abusing and destroying.

 

 

                        [Both JOHN ADAMS and THOMAS JEFFERSON become engaged

                        a silent process of trying to determine what word might be the most

                        appropriate.]

 

 

JOHN ADAMS

            Corrupting?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            Debasing?

 

JOHN ADAMS AND THOMAS JEFFERSON

                    (together in an insightful and self-satisfied tone)

            Desecrating!

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            Yes, desecrating-

 

JOHN ADAMS

                        (interrupting)

            What we gave them.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            This beautifully splendid opportunity-

 

JOHN ADAMS

                        (interrupting)

            Almost a birthing.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            A child brought into the world.

 

JOHN ADAMS

            Your child that you brought into the political world.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        (quickly to make a point)

            Our child- John.

 

JOHN ADAMS

                        (acknowledging the point)

            Yes, our child.

 

                        (pause)

 

            They are desecrating our child- the child that all of us created!

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        (thinking, then, finally)

            We did, we did- they are, they are.

 

 

JOHN ADAMS

            And, as such, what they are bringing down upon themselves is almost Biblical in nature.

 

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            You are referring to the plagues?

 

JOHN ADAMS

            Indeed, but specifically, the plagues-

 

                        (pause)

 

            the plagues of these United States of America.

 

JOHN ADAMS

            Distrust!

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            Dissension!

 

JOHN ADAMS

            Greed!

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            Intolerance!

 

JOHN ADAMS

            Mayhem!

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            Violence!

 

JOHN ADAMS

            Hatred!

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        (sitting up straight and pausing)

            John-

 

                        (pause)

 

            -maybe-

 

 

JOHN ADAMS

                        (quickly interrupting)

Here’s a thought-

 

            (pause)

 

-that part in the Declaration that extols life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (waiting)

What?

 

            (pause)

 

What about it?

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (a slight laugh)

Well, maybe it should have been presented the other way-

 

            (pause)

 

-sort of in reverse-

 

            (pause)

 

Maybe they should have been told what to avoid.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Like?

 

JOHN ADAMS

Like-

 

            (pause)

 

So, instead of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness-

 

            (pause)

 

How about wording that told them to avoid death, confinement and the pursuit of

revenge?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (smiling and thinking)

You know, seeing as we have the vantage point of eternity, maybe you’re right.

 

            (pause)

 

Maybe- historically- they would have had a better time of it if we had spurred them to

work at avoiding the pitfalls.

 

            (pause)

 

Then, again, maybe they just can’t handle the freedom.

 

JOHN ADAMS

Which puts them where?

 

            (pause)

 

Huddled-down in small-mindedness?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (shrugs)

Maybe.

 

            (pause)

 

What you just said, would- could- possibly mean that they have so much freedom, so

much information and freedom of thought that instead of it all making them have open-

mindedness- just the opposite is happening.

 

JOHN ADAMS

Close-mindedness.

 

            (pause)

 

Resentful-

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (interrupting)

Ungrateful.

 

JOHN ADAMS

Itching for a fight.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Of course, maybe we shouldn’t have put those lines in there about the government

becoming destructive-

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (interrupting)

And we unwittingly went on to tell them that they had the right- the Right of the People-

to alter or abolish it-

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (interrupting)

…and institute new government.

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (reflectively)

Do you really think they’re that smart?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

They- all– don’t have to be very smart at all- just a few of them.

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (a pause to acknowledge the subtlety of the point)

Like the few of us.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Yeah, exactly.

 

JOHN ADAMS

Wow!

 

            (pause)

 

What a mess.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

But you know, they have a way out.

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (nods knowingly)

You mean-

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (interrupting)

Yes, all they have to do is go back to what we created- back to the Declaration itself.

 

JOHN ADAMS

Well, that’s the solution, but, in the meantime they still have this mess.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Speaking of a mess-

 

            (pause, then pointing out and down)

 

the “successor-in-chief” is going to be having a press conference before long-

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (interrupting to change the subject)

You hungry?

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (shrugs)

I suppose, sure.

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (standing up from the table)

All right, I’ll make a deal with you.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Like what?

 

JOHN ADAMS

I will make us breakfast, if you-

 

            (pause)

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (interrupting in a suspiciously)

Should I not like where this is all going?

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (laughs)

No, no- it’s a small little thing between old friends.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (even more suspicious)

John, are you going to tell me?

 

 

JOHN ADAMS

            (with certainty of conviction)

I will make us breakfast, if you break out one- or two- of those bottles of

Chateau Haut-Brion you’ve stockpiled.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

            (standing up from the table, pleasantly surprised)

That’s it?

 

JOHN ADAMS

Yep!  That’s it.

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Done deal!  I’ll get the wine!

 

JOHN ADAMS

I’ll get cooking!

 

                        [JOHN ADAMS exits at stage-left.  THOMAS JEFFERSON

                        exits at stage-right.]

 

CURTAIN

 

BLACKOUT

 

END OF PLAY

 

 

                       

 

 

 

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