Dramatic Texts >> Aramashot Babayan >> Be Nice, I'm Dead

BE NICE, I’M DEAD by Aramashot Babayan,  translated by Nishan Parlakian

Characters
DARIN, a pensioner
SOFIE, his neighbor
ROBERT, his older son
ALEX, his younger son
LILY, Robert’s wife
ANGELA, Alex’s wife
DAVID, Sophie’s son
ROSIE, David’s wife
DOCTOR, physician attending Darin

Setting
The time is the present. The action is set in Yerevan, Armenia.

Act I

A modestly furnished home in an old building soon to be demolished. A table cluttered with unwashed dishes and silverware, giving the impression that a party has taken place recently. An apparently paralyzed DARIN sits in an easy chair with his eyes glued to the door impatiently waiting for SOFIE, his neighbor. After a moment, as though reviving in spirit, Darin debates with himself in soliloquy.

DARIN
Soon they’ll be popping in—all excited and agitated—from here and there to see their paralyzed father. But you Darin, did you really figure things out clearly? Are you being cruel in what you’re doing? But how long am I going to stay in these four walls all alone? You’ve got sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren. And still my aching heart hopes someone will come through that door for a visit. And when they do, it’s for a half hour. They stand about fluttering and flitting here and there and patronize me with a yes poppa, of course poppa. Then they give me a kiss and a blessing and bye, bye. And I sit here for weeks again and wait. And once a year, they gather for my birthday party, like when they came yesterday. They sang, danced, wished their father long life and left…And the table…they didn’t clear it off. Who can take this kind of life? I can’t anymore. I want to see my grandchildren play and hear my sons talk and my daughters-in-law laugh. They’ll have to forgive me for faking paralysis so I can get to live with them. So, I’m wrong for doing this. If I had been a good salesman, I would have talked them into giving me my dream a long time ago. Ah, but it’s better done this way. They’ll come, see my condition and goodbye to my cold and lonely life.

(DARIN, having stood despite his apparent incapacity, throws himself into the armchair upon hearing footsteps and assumes his former paralyzed manner. A concerned SOFIE enters quickly)


SOFIE
How are you, brother Darin?


DARIN
(In a musical voice, ironically.) I’m still breathing.


SOFIE
No, no. You’re all right. You’ve passed the worst of it.


DARIN
Did you telephone my family?


SOFIE
Yes. I told them their father’s gotten paralyzed.


DARIN
You said it just like that? You probably scared the life out of them.


SOFIE
So, should I have told them some sort of pleasant fairy tale? Your son Alex started begging me: “Momma Sofie, don’t leave his side. I’ll be right over with my brother.” And your daughter-in-law Angela gave me a hard time: “But poppa was singing and dancing at his birthday party only yesterday.” I said: “Angela, I don’t know how it happened. I dropped in on him and saw that his arms and legs had gotten weak and he was gasping for air.”


DARIN
Gasping? What gasping?


SOFIE
What do you know? You were out cold. You didn’t say two words in a half hour. You had just gotten your speech back. When I came in the first time, I had the shock of my life. Your chin was twisted, your eyes watery; you’d swallowed your tongue. If I’d come in a little later, you’d have been a guest in the next world. And you thank me by grumbling.


DARIN
I’m eternally grateful.


SOFIE
Are you hungry?


DARIN
No.


SOFIE
Do you have to go?


DARIN
Go where?


SOFIE
I mean, do you have pressure? Do you want to lighten yourself?


DARIN
Uh, no.


SOFIE
We’ve been neighbors for fifty years. You don’t have to be ashamed. Think of me as your sister. I’ll bring the pan. Lighten up.


DARIN
No, no. I already…


SOFIE
You did? Good. Bless you. That means your illness isn’t serious. Between you and me, I’ve seen a big change in you in this one hour. Sometimes it seems that you’re completely well. If you continue to improve like this, you’ll soon be on your feet.


DARIN
I fell that way too.


SOFIE
What a pity. We won’t be neighbors much longer.


DARIN
Why not?


SOFIE
Your sons won’t let you come back here after they take you away.


DARIN
Well, I suppose you’re right. After all, they’ve asked me, begged me to live with them a hundred times, I used to worry that I’d be too much trouble, be a burden on them.


SOFIE
Listen, my friend. You’re not dependant on them for bread or water. Your pension is adequate for you. And you’ve enough to spare of it for them. But I don’t think they can get you a free servant like me. These days good help costs more than a cheap doctor. And you can’t find decent help even if you’re willing to pay. Eh, but maybe you’re thinking of a way to get yourself a free servant.


DARIN
I don’t know what you mean.


SOFIE
A wife. You want to get married, huh?


DARIN
Shame on you. You think I’d go and find someone new to love after all those years with my dear departed wife Natalie?


SOFIE
Well, you must be hinting at something when you start looking like a dead tree stump. You’ve got to shape up whether you like it or not and give up living like a hermit. Now if you ask me, that’s the cause of your illness.


DARIN
What is?


SOFIE
Loneliness. Longing. That’s what’s paralyzed you.


DARIN
Then you think I should go with my sons…and stay.


SOFIE
Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to stay considering your condition.


DARIN
No, no. I’d stay without a doubt. But with whom should I stay?


SOFIE
There’s room for you wherever you want to go. Thank God the government has given your sons ample space. Each of them has four or five rooms.


DARIN
But if I got o my older son’s place, the younger one gets hurt. If I go to the younger one’s, the older one gets annoyed.


SOFIE
You go to the one who’s first to say: “Poppa dear, I’m taking you.”


DARIN
I guess you’re right.


SOFIE
Then by turns: for a while with the older, then with the younger. And what about your daughter-in-laws? They won’t make trouble, will they?


DARIN
What are you talking about? They love me more than my sons do.


SOFIE
I’ll bet. They love you so much, they left you to clean up after yesterday’s party.


DARIN
No harm in that, Sofie. They’re young. Sometimes they forget. Do me a favor before they get here. Clean off the table, will you?


SOFIE
You’ll have to excuse me this time. My father used to say: “Better give them sass than be an ass.” They do the eating and I get the beating. No sir.


DARIN
But like this…it’s a shame.


SOFIE
Whoever’s to blame should clean up his shame.


DARIN
Sounds like someone’s coming.


SOFIE
(Looking out the window.) It’s only David and my daughter-in-law. She picked up the children form kindergarden.


DARIN
My people are late in coming.


SOFIE
They need time to think things through. They’ve probably deciding whose house you’re going to stay at, what room you’ll settle into. Eh, brother Darin. Everybody who used to live around here is gone. You and I are the oldest ones left. And now you’re going. Ah, but even if you stayed, we would have been separated one of these days. Soon they’ll be tearing down these houses.


DARIN
Ah yes. This was a wonderful neighborhood once. Little by little, they relocated most of us. Sent us all over the map.


SOFIE
Darin, look this way, will you? Your jaw goes out of joint; then straightens out. There. Right now, it went out.


DARIN
Huh. I didn’t feel anything.


SOFIE
Fine, then. That means you can’t be that sick. Sometimes you seem fine, sometimes you look so-so. All right, I’m going now. (She exits.)


DARIN
I’m lucky she didn’t notice. I’ve got to watch my step or I’ll be caught in my act. But getting paralyzed before cleaning off the table was stupid of me.

He quickly goes to the window, then hastens to take the soiled plates to the kitchen. He returns with a tray to clean off the rest of the table but, when he nears it, SOFIE appears in the doorway.


SOFIE (Surprised.)
What? Are you well?


(DARIN, caught in his error, stands immobile. Then, as though he has not seen Sofie, he shakes all over, drops the tray and falls flat on the floor.)


DARIN
Ooh!


SOFIE (Amazed; rushes toward Darin.)
You fool, you finally did it! Have you given up on life? Why did you get up?


DARIN (Speaking with difficulty.)
Ooh…I wanted…the dishes.


SOFIE
Damn the dishes. You were getting better. And now you went and did it again.


DARIN (Tries to get up.)
Help me get up.


SOFIE (She tries to help.)
I can’t. You weigh a ton. Wait, I’ll get David to help.


DARIN
No. It’s not necessary. I can…me myself.


SOFIE
“Me myself!” You look like a kufta, like a meatball lying there. Don’t move Mr. “Me-myself.” I’ll call David. (Calling, as she exits on the run.) David, oh David! Come here, right away. We’ve got an emergency here.


DARIN (Lifts head cautiously.)
If Sofie didn’t catch on this time, it means I’m putting on a good act.

SOFIE enters with DAVID.


SOFIE
Help me get this man seated in his chair.


DAVID (Surprised.)
Is it poppa Darin?


SOFIE
Who else?


DAVID
What happened?


SOFIE
He’s paralyzed.


DAVID
How did he get paralyzed?


SOFIE
His arms and legs got weak, that’s how.


DAVID
Since when?


SOFIE
How would I know? I came in this morning. I’m calling Darin, Darin, Darin. He didn’t know I was here. Then he started getting better. I left him alone a minute to go back to the house. He fell apart again.


DAVID (On his knees.)
Poppa Darin, how are you?


DARIN (Gasping.)
Oh…fine.


SOFIE
He’s getting out of hand altogether.


DAVID
You came home and didn’t say a thing about any trouble here.


SOFIE
I didn’t want to spoil you dinner. I thought it was best to tell you later.


DAVID
If he was in such bad shape, why did you leave him? We could have eaten without you.


SOFIE
What am I, a slave? Who told him to get up? Help me get him up.


DAVID
I’ll handle it.


SOFIE
He’s heavy. You’ll pop your navel.


DAVID
I can’t. Remember, it’s double knotted. (He puts DARIN into an easy chair.) Poppa Darin, how are you?


DARIN
Oh, I’m all right.


SOFIE
All right? You can hardly breathe. But you think you can get up and dance a jig.


DAVID
What’s the matter with you, momma?


SOFIE
He’s ruined everything. He was all right for a while there. What devil possessed him? Look here, old man. If you don’t feel sorry for yourself, then pity us. You’ve worn out my soul since this morning. Stay put until your people come. Then do what you want. Turn somersaults, belly dance. Anything. In the meantime, stop showing off. Your system’s out of balance.


DAVID
I don’t know what’s with you, momma. Why are you getting so excited? Don’t worry about poppa Darin. There’s really nothing wrong with him. Maybe he’s had a very mild stroke or something. It’ll pass. I’ll go get the doctor.


SOFIE
His children will be coming any minute now. Let them call the doctor or whoever else they want.


DAVID
Poppa Darin, don’t take what momma says to heart. She’s got a bitter tongue, but a sweet soul.


DARIN
I…I know.


SOFIE
But he was well. You see now he can hardly breathe.


DAVID
It’s all right. It happens. It’ll pass. (To SOFIE) We can’t leave him until they come. He’s probably hungry. I’ll stay with him. You hurry up and get his meal. He’s got to eat.


SOFIE
Rosie will be bringing it any minute now.


DAVID
Poppa Darin, forgive me. I’ve got to get on the job. We just received some new earth bores for the Yerevan subway. We’re going to test them, today. They tell me they’re not just machines; they’re miracle makers. They eat up mountains and rocks in the wink of an eye. I’ll tell you all about it when I return. If there’s anything you want, let me know and I’ll bring it.


SOFIE
By the time you return, he won’t be here.


DAVID
How come?


SOFIE
When his sons come, they won’t let him stay here, anymore.


DAVID
But how can they take him in this condition? Let him stay here for a while.


SOFIE
Who’ll look after him?


DAVID
He’s got his family. His sons. Their wives. And there’s us.


ROSIE brings DARIN’S meal.


ROSIE
Hello, poppa Darin.


DAVID
You feed him. I’m going now.


SOFIE
But you didn’t finish eating.


DAVID
It’s late. I’ll eat when I get back. Poppa Darin, momma’s made a great soup. You eat it and your pains will disappear. Hold on now. We’re supporting you one hundred percent. And remember, we’ve got a deal on. You’re going to be the first passenger on the Yerevan subway when it’s finished. Momma, please don’t hurt poppa Darin’s feelings.


SOFIE
All his nonsense burns me up.


DAVID
Burn up all you want. But don’t burn him up.


DAVID kisses his wife and mother, smiles, waves goodbye to Darin and exits.


SOFIE
See what happened? Because of you, my son went off hungry.


DARIN
That’s terrible.


SOFIE
Now, I’m telling you for the last time. If you get up again, in the shape you’re in, I’ll let the devil take you.


DARIN
So what happened that’s so bad?


SOFIE
He gets up to clear the table.


ROSIE
How could you, poppa Darin? You know you’re not supposed to move around. We’re alive and well to take care of things, thank God. We don’t want you to clear off the table in your condition.


DARIN
I thought it would be shameful for them to come and see the mess.


SOFIE
Oh, it’s a shame, is it? All right, get up. Go and wash the dishes. Go on!


ROSIE
What are you talking about, momma?


SOFIE
I’ve had it. He’s driving me crazy. To hell with the damned dishes. He just about had it. I’ll show you what I’ll do with those damn…(Agitated, she goes into the kitchen, returns with the dishes and slams them onto the table.) Let his daughters-in-law come and clean up. Shut up and sit still!


ROSIE
Just rest, poppa Darin. I’ll clean up.


SOFIE
You go take care of your kids. I can clean up, too. But you know what my father used to say.


ROSIE
“Better to give them sass then be an ass.”


SOFIE
God rest his soul. They play mistress, I play maid? Never. What’s it to us if one daughter-in-law’s husband is a politician and the other’s is a song writer. Bring it here.


ROSIE places a chair near Darin and puts a plate of soup and bread on it.


DARIN
I’m not hungry.


SOFIE
Force yourself. I don’t want to waste my breath. Rosie, hold the plate up. (Extending a spoonful of soup to Darin’s mouth.) Open up.


DARIN
I can feed myself.


SOFIE
You’re in no shape. We don’t have time to sit and wait for hours. The way you move, you’ll swallow one spoonful and spill ten. Open up. That’s it. Just like that. (He mouths a spoonful of soup.) Now another. (He swallows.) That’s good. Now one more. (He swallows.) That’s good.


ROSIE
Do you like it, poppa Darin?


SOFIE (As she feeds him.)
Why ask? It’s not the first time he’s eaten my cooking. Don’t rush. Chew, then swallow. (To ROSIE) I thought you were going to your mother’s. Take the children and go.


ROSIE
It doesn’t matter. I can go tomorrow.


SOFIE (Still feeding Darin.)
That’s good. Did you bring the ice cream?


ROSIE
Oh my, I forgot. (She rushes out.)


DARIN
I’m tired.


SOFIE
That’s good. Rest a bit. You see your chin straightened up again. Now if you’re smart and listen to me, you’ll be on your feet in a day or two.


DARIN
Sister Sofie, do you believe I’m sick?


SOFIE
What else? Are you putting on an act?


DARIN
Do I really look sick?


SOFIE
What are you raving about?


DARIN
Don’t I look well?


SOFIE
Oh sure. That’s why you’re acting like a three year old. You’ve had your rest. Open up. (Putting a spoonful of soup into his mouth.) That’s good.


DARIN
Listen, Sofo. If I look that bad, I could scare the kids.


SOFIE
No, no. Just the opposite. You’re beautiful. Open up.


DARIN
No more. I’m full.


SOFIE
Come on, this one too. (Bringing up a last spoonful.) And this is the last. There now, you were a good boy. (ROSIE enters with ice cream.) Let’s feed him his ice cream and be done with it.


ROSIE
I’ll give it to him.


SOFIE
Fine, fine. I’ll take a rest.

The door opens. Troubled and discomfited, ALEX, ANGELA, and LILY enter.


ALEX
Poppa, what’s happened to you?


ANGELA
How are you, poppa sweet?


LILY
It’s nice to see you, poppa dear.

They surround Darin and hug and kiss him.


ANGELA
But you look fine, poppa.


LILY
Oh poppa dear, you gave us a fright.


ALEX
What happened to you? I mean, yesterday you were dancing and singing.


SOFIE
He’s feeling pretty good at this moment. He just ate his fill and now he’ll have his dessert.


ALEX (Looking at the dish.)
Rosie, what is this?


ROSIE
Ice cream.


ANGELA
Can poppa have ice cream?


SOFIE
Oh, for God’s sake!


ANGELA
What did he have to eat?


ROSIE (Sharply.)
Beef noodle soup.


ANGELA
What’s wrong with you? Beef is hard to digest.


DARIN
Oh no, it was good.


ANGELA
No, poppa. It can’t be. Soup is too heavy for you.


SOFIE
His legs may be weak, but his stomach isn’t, thank God. He’s got a mill stone in there that grinds up anything.


ALEX
Momma Sofie, we’re certainly grateful for all you’ve done.


LILY
Don’t mind us, momma Sofie. It’s just that we’re very worried about poppa. We’re afraid he’ll suddenly take a turn for the worse.


ANGELA
What’s there to get mad about? Poppa’s condition is such that we’ve all got to be careful. Really, the soup was unnecessary. Something light would have been preferable.


ROSIE
Well now, you can feed him something light.


LILY
We…we haven’t brought anything.


SOFIE
So you’ve come empty-handed. Couldn’t you have set aside a bowl of what you cooked and brought it with you?


LILY
To tell the truth, the idea never crossed my mind.


ANGELA
I didn’t cook anything today.


ROSIE
Well then, isn’t our soup better than whatever it is you didn’t cook and didn’t bring?


ALEX
Touche, Rosie. Let me finish feeding him.


LILY
I’ll…I’ll feed him.


ANGELA
I’m his favorite daughter-in-law. He can only be fed by my hand.


ROSIE
Stop arguing. This is the last spoonful.


LILY
Did you enjoy it, poppa?


ANGELA
Poppa, let me wipe your lips.


SOFIE (To ROSIE)
Pick up our dishes.


LILY
I’ll take them in.


ANGELA
Leave them, Rosie. We’ll wash them.


SOFIE
You can wash yesterday’s dishes.


ANGELA
Oh poppa, you didn’t let us clear off the table and neither did you!


SOFIE
By the way, where’s Robert?


ALEX
He’ll be here any minute now.


LILY
He went to get a doctor.


SOFIE
Brother Darin, forgive us if anything was lacking. I hope you get better soon. Little by little. Don’t forget us.


ALEX
We thank you for everything, momma Sofie. You’ve been more than a neighbor. You’ve always looked after him like a relative.


SOFIE
Not only your father. You, too. I’ve rocked you and your brother in my arms many a time. Now that you’ve become respectable and responsible men, you come and go without even saying hello.


ALEX
I guess I just forget.


ANGELA
Alex is always preoccupied. Sometimes he doesn’t even see me when he walks into the house.


ALEX
We’ve always loved and respected you like a mother.


SOFIE
Oh sure. That’s why you didn’t even invite us to your father’s birthday party.


ALEX
It was an oversight.


ANGELA
You don’t invite neighbors to birthday gatherings. Those who feel congratulations are in order, drop in.


ROSIE
We dropped in and offered our congratulations before the party started.


LILY
You should have stayed.


ROSIE
We’re modest folk. We don’t go about crashing parties.


ALEX
Rosie, you know you have a standing invitation for all our get-togethers. We’re like family. I grew up with David.


SOFIE
And you were born on the same day.


LILY
Really?


ROSIE
That’s right. Twins from different mothers.


ROBERT appears in the doorway with the doctor.


ROBERT
Enter please, doctor. Hello, father. Oh, you look good. What was all the excitement about?


SOFIE
He almost died. David and I just about revived him. Darin, your chin just twisted out again. That’s the way it’s been—out-in, in-out.


ROBERT
Don’t worry about anything, father. You know whom I’ve brought? The best doctor in the country. He’s going to wave a wand and get you on your feet miraculously.


DOCTOR
The patient cures himself.


SOFIE
He’s got weak arms and legs.


DOCTOR
You can’t move your legs at all?

(DARIN nods.)

And your arms? Lift them. Good. It’s plain to see. (He examines Darin’s eyes.) Stick out your tongue.


SOFIE
Doctor. His arms and legs are paralyzed. Why are you looking at his tongue and eyes?


DOCTOR (Smiling at Darin.)
Is she your wife?


SOFIE
His neighbor. His wife got sick and passed away years ago.


DOCTOR
Does your father live alone?


ROBERT
He always has.


DOCTOR
I see. How long has he been in this condition?


SOFIE
Since yesterday.


ANGELA
No, no. Yesterday until late at night, he sang and danced.


DOCTOR
Oh, you had a party last night?


ROBERT
Yesterday was father’s seventieth birthday. We came over to cheer him up and celebrate his jubilee.


ANGELA
Poppa is the light of our family. As a rule we gather around him every year—sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.


LILY
And you should have seen how poppa danced yesterday.


DOCTOR
And after the party, you all went home and left him all by himself. Has your mother been dead a long while?


ROBERT
A long while.


DOCTOR (To Darin.)
Do you love your grandchildren?


DARIN
A lot.


DOCTOR
Your daughters-in-law?


DARIN (Nodding.)
Yes.


DOCTOR
Robert, why doesn’t your father live with you? I suppose you don’t have adequate space.


ROBERT
If we didn’t have the space, we’d create it for father. Either at my place or at my brother’s, our doors are always open to him.


SOFIE
Doctor, he doesn’t want to go. I don’t know how many times we’ve told him to. We can’t force him.


DARIN (Nodding.)
That’s true. That’s true.


DOCTOR
Tell me truthfully. Wouldn’t you like to live with your sons?


DARIN (With difficulty.)
I would. If they’d have me.


ALEX
What are you saying, poppa? What do you mean: if we’d have you?


ROBERT
We’ll have you right now. You can go with either Alex or me.


DOCTOR
Without a doubt. You can’t just leave him here all alone in this condition. (With a searching expression, he looks at Darin; then from his pocket, he takes out a small rubber hammer and without hesitating strikes Darin’s knee.) Uh huh. Have you ever been hospitalized?


SOFIE
We’ve been neighbors for forty years. I’ve never heard a moan out of him.


ANGELA
Poppa’s always had the strength of an elephant.


LILY
He’s always been in perfect health.


DOCTOR (Taking Darin’s pulse.)
Any problems with his heart?


ANGELA
Poppa’s got the heart of a lion.


DOCTOR
How’s his appetite?


SOFIE
Just a little while ago my daughter-in-law and I forced him to eat.


DOCTOR
He absolutely needs good nourishment. (Looks compassionately at Darin.) How shall I put it? It’s more than likely a mild stroke. It’s given him a slight paralysis on the left side. (Finishing his examination, he stands; then changes his mind.) Where’s the bedroom. Move your father in there. I want to examine his spine.


ROBERT
Alex, take father’s other arm.


DOCTOR
Not like that. Take him in the chair. You father’s carried you when you were young; now it’s your turn to carry him.

ALEX and ROBERT lift DARIN in his chair and with the doctor enter the next room.


ANGELA
Poor poppa.


LILY
Ah poppa, who would have expected this to happen?


ANGELA and LILY
begin to clear the table.


ANGELA (Stacking the dishes.)
Momma Sofie, help me take the dishes into the kitchen.


SOFIE (Hand to her back.)
Ooh!


LILY
What’s the matter, momma Sofie?


SOFIE
A pain in my back. Rosie, quick give it a rub. Keep in mind what my father used to say and rub.


Restraining a laugh,
ROSIE goes to SOFIE and gives the appearance of being occupied with her. ANGELA takes the dishes into the kitchen with LILY. In a moment, the sound of dishes crashing to the floor.


SOFIE
An earthquake.

Excited, ANGELA rushes in.


ANGELA
Oh, my foot. (Brushing a soiled spot on her dress.) I fell on the dishes.


SOFIE
It’s all right. I’ll come out with water.


ANGELA
Oh, my dress, my brand new dress. Rosie be a dear and bring me some vinegar to clean off the spots.


ROSIE
Right away. (She rushes out.)


ALEX enters.


ALEX
Momma Sofie, do you have a thermometer?


SOFIE
Right away. (She exits.)


ANGELA
What’s going on? Did he finish the examination? We don’t want to be late for the concert.


ALEX
How can you think about the concert now?


ANGELA
Oh, come on. What could be wrong? He’s just feeling his age.


ALEX
Try to understand, Angela. It’s not proper.


ANGELA
What’s not proper is canceling a date we made with Charlie and Rosalind over a week ago. You know I’ve been running around for days trying to find a proper dress to wear to the concert. And why did I rush to get my hair done and nails manicured this morning?


ALEX
Darling…


ANGELA
Alex, if I’m your darling…


ALEX
Angela, don’t be stubborn.


ANGELA
This is a good opportunity to get close to Charlie. He’s a terrific contact. You’ll be graduating soon. If anybody can get you on the right road, he can.


ALEX
If it’s so important, you go.


ANGELA
Without you?


ALEX
Angela. Try to understand. I can’t. It’s my duty to stay with my father.


ANGELA
He’s been a father to me, too. You know how much I love and respect him.

(LILY enters.)

Let’s ask Lily to stay with poppa until we return from the concert.


LILY
I can’t stay. Robert’s got to attend a dinner in honor of Vietnamese guests.


SOFIE bring in a thermometer and vinegar.


SOFIE
Here’s your thermometer and here’s your vinegar.

The DOCTOR and ROBERT enter.


DOCTOR
For the time being, we’ll diagnose it as a mild stroke. For this type of patient it’s important to have emotional support. Once his temperature goes down, he’ll be on his feet.


ROBERT
Any medicine?


DOCTOR
For now, only care.


ANGELA
So poppa’s really well. He doesn’t need any medicine.


DOCTOR
No. Poppa’s not that well. His medicine for the time being is your love.


LILY
Poppa gets lots of that.


DOCTOR
That’s fine.


ROBERT
Maybe it’s best we put him in a hospital.


DOCTOR
I wouldn’t do that. He might get worse there.


ANGELA
I don’t understand. If our poppa is really ill, we ought ot take him to the hospital right away.


LILY
That’s right. They’ve got all kinds of equipment at hand…diathermy machines, whirlpool baths…


ROBERT
I think, doctor, that’s what we’ll do. The hospital. There, he’ll be under the continual observation of doctors.


DOCTOR
But it’s difficult to get this type of patient admitted into a hospital.


LILY
Why is that?


ANGELA
Are you trying to say they admit only healthy people?


DOCTOR
What I’m saying is that all sick people don’t belong in a hospital. Your stomach bothers you, the hospital; you bruise your nose, the hospital. Minor illnesses can be easily cured at home. Not to mention the fact that care at home is more attentive. Now your father doesn’t need a doctor so much as he needs you. That’s my course of treatment for him. From now on, don’t leave your father by himself.


LILY
I’ve never heard of such a course of treatment in all my life.


ANGELA
That’s an odd way to cure someone.


DOCTOR
Forgive me. Please take me seriously. Keep me informed of your father’s condition. Goodbye for now.


ROBERT
Doctor, the car’s outside. I’ll take you home.


DOCTOR
Ride to the patient. Walk home. Thank you. (He exits.)


ALEX (After a pause.)
Now what have we decided?


ANGELA
The hospital, of course.


ROBERT
That’s what I think, too.


ALEX
But the doctor said they might not admit a patient with this type of problem.


ROBERT
We don’t have to worry about such things. My assistant, Mr. Champion, will find a way to get father settled into a private room.


ANGELA
Terrific! That Mr. Champion of yours can fix anything.


ALEX
Maybe it’s not right to take poppa to a hospital just yet.


ROBERT
Where then?


ALEX
I’ll take him to our place.


ANGELA
Alex dear, yes, I’d take him this minute. But getting your father well is more important than taking him to our place. What more can you want—a private room, the best doctors? Robert, telephone Mr. Champion to make the arrangements.


ROBERT
That’s it then. Mr. Champion will come and we’ll take father to the hospital. I’ll telephone him from the corner. (He exits.)

Darin’s voice can be heard from the adjoining room.


DARIN (Off stage.)
Where is everybody? Are you there?

ALEX enters the adjoining room and after a moment pulls the chair in which his father is sitting to the doorway. ANGELA and LILY got to help.


ANGELA
Oh, dear poppa.


LILY
Poor sweet poppa.


DARIN (With difficulty.)
You just went and left me.


ANGELA
Poppa, we were having a meeting.


LILY
We decided, poppa, to take you away from here.


DARIN
To where?


SOFIE
To the hospital.


DARIN
But why to the hospital?


LILY
They’ll examine you there and make you well.


DARIN
I won’t go to the hospital.


ANGELA
But poppa, you must…to find a cure.


DARIN
My cure is you, to go with you, to be with you.


LILY
Poppa dear. We’ll come visit you every day.


DARIN
It’s not right putting me in the hospital.


ALEX
Calm down, poppa. You’ll come to our place.


ANGELA
He’s sick. He doesn’t understand. But you should. Poppa dear, you need serious medical treatment. You’re very precious to us. We can’t take any risks where your life is concerned.


ROBERT returns.


ROBERT
Everything’s arranged. Mr. Champion will be waiting for us in a private room. Let’s go father.


DARIN
No.


ALEX
He doesn’t want to go to the hospital.


ROBERT
Father, dear father. You’re going to have a great time there. It’s enough for anyone to know that you’re my father. All the doctors will give you VIP treatment. You’ll have the run of the place and love it.


DARIN
I’m healthy. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’ll be on my feet in a couple of days.


ROBERT
All the better. The faster you get well the quicker we’ll bring you back.


DARIN
No. I’m not sick. You want to see me walk and dance?


SOFIE
Are you playing hero again? We just about brought you back from the dead.


DARIN
Oh, Sofie.


SOFIE
Don’t say another word. You’ve never been to a summer resort in all your life. Just imagine that you’re going to a summer resort. You’ll get better and be back soon.


ROBERT
Alex, lets get father moving.


ALEX and ROBERT lift DARIN in his chair and begin moving off as ROSIE enters carrying a playing portable radio.


ROSIE
Poppa Darin, here’s your favorite song. It’s a beautiful melody. Where are you going?


DARIN
To a summer resort.

To the accompaniment of the music, the sons, directed by their wives, take DARIN out in his easy chair in solemn fashion.


CURTAIN


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