FIRST PERFORMED NOVEMBER 18, 2005 AT THE SHUBIN THEATRE, PHILADELPHIA, PA. BY THE AUTHOR
JUST THE SKY is one-person, one-act performance piece developed and first performed by Armen Pandola.
The play begins in prison where the narrator spends his last night, waiting to be executed in the morning for being found guilty of killing his wife and her chiropractor - they were having an affair, or at least he hopes they were because if they weren't, well, it would all be just too sad.
A prison cell. Metallic noises. Harsh light. Paul is dressed in orange prisoner overalls. He’s in his mid-forties, with a prison slouch. At first, he speaks in a monotone, very matter-of-factly. Slowly, as he warms to his topic a glimpse of the old Paul can be seen: brash, edgy and a little nuts. He sits on a cot with a tray of uneaten food on the floor.
I killed my wife and her chiropractor. They were having an affair. At least, I think that they were. Hey, I hope they were because it would be just too sad if I killed them and they weren't.
I found out about it through my HMO. The greedy son of a bitch was not only screwing my wife three times a week, he was charging my insurance company ninety-five bucks a shot. They sent me a letter about the excessive chiropractor visits, and the rest is history, as they say.
It’s been a long time since all of this happened – ten, no wait, twelve years? Anyway, longer than I can remember in any detail. I mean, I remember ....but I can't say I’m sure. Anyway, I know tomorrow they’re going to inject me.
They make a big thing of the last night – the meal and all that – but really it’s pretty dull. Hey, get this
– they have this guard sitting up with me all night because – get this – they want to make sure I don’t
commit suicide. Yeah, really. They want to make sure I’m here to kill tomorrow. Execute, I mean.
I was waiting to put all this down until the crowd left – to make a final record of it – an honest record of what
really happened. Well, there hasn’t been any crowd and I just spent my last night waiting for something that
never happened. Typical. And now I only have about an hour or so to get it all down.
(While he is talking, Paul slips out of his overalls and is wearing a shirt and tie and dress slacks underneath. The tie is pulled down and the shirt collar is open. Also, he moves aside the cot and takes out a small table with a glass and a bottle of Scotch on it.)
I guess I should start at the beginning. I mean when it happened – not at the real beginning. If I went back that far – well, I’d be dead before I even get to the part where I met Tricia - my wife – Tricia. Patricia, of course. Her family called her Pat - I hated that name - Pat. It sounds so, well, Pat.
Next month would be twenty-five years since I met Trish at a dentist’s office when I asked her if she really flossed or just lied to make the dentist feel better and she said – well, I better skip ahead to the night it really all started. Ended, I mean.
I had no intention of killing her – really.
That night, we’re standing in our kitchen. I just came home from work and she’s fixing herself something to eat. Me – I’m having my usual meal of Cutty and water. The girls Athena and Artemis, they’re just ten and twelve, they’re at a pajama party so for the first time in months, we’re alone in the house.
That’s why all this happened – I mean, you shouldn’t be left alone with your wife – it can lead to – well, murder.
Just that day I got one of those ‘this is not a bill’ letters from our health insurance company. I figure I’d tell her since it was about her. The HMO - they say they won’t pay anymore chiropractor visits – excessive is the word they used.
(In a women’s voice)
‘I need them – ever since I fell trying carry you out of that party last New Year’s Eve –‘
Why don’t you see a real doctor?
(In a women’s voice) ‘And why don’t you just pay them yourself you cheap –'
I’m not as dumb as you think.
(In a women’s voice) ‘Nobody’s that dumb.’ I know what you’re doing.
(In a women’s voice) ‘And what’s that?’
I know you’ve been cheating on me with that chiropractor of yours.
(In a woman’s voice) ‘It’s not cheating when you don’t sleep with the person you’re married to anymore.’
It’s cheating – and I want you to stop –
(In a woman’s voice) I’ll do whatever I want – ‘
(Back to us) Well, you get the picture. This goes on for a while until we’re screaming at each other. She’s calling me every name in the book – and I’m (Puts his forefinger and thumb a quarter inch apart) this close to bopping her – something I never did – and never would do. But I had to win this one – just once I had to make her back down.
(Reaches up and grabs a gun from the top of a shelf.)
I keep a gun on the top shelf of a cabinet we never use – I bought it the year before because this cop I know gave me such a great deal on it – I mean I didn’t really want a gun but I just couldn’t turn down this great deal. Anyway, I remember the gun and take it out and – point it at her. (Yelling.)
Now tell me the truth – you’re screwin’ him, right – right!
I just meant to scare her, but she’s from like pioneer stock – they don’t scare - instead she laughs. So I fire it near her head – bang! It goes right through the wall next to the kitchen window – and later the police found it in a tree out on the lawn – they make these new houses out of cardboard.
Anyway, she jumps then laughs -
(In a women’s voice) ‘Now I know you can’t shoot straight with you pecker or a .45.’ That’s when I shoot her – just in the leg.
That gets her attention and she starts screaming:
(In a women’s voice) ‘You’re going to jail for this. I’ll get you for every penny you have and I’ll spend my whole day screwing anyone I want. You’re going to jail and you’ll never see the girls again.’ It’s nerve-racking to hear her like this – I mean, she’s right – this was a big mistake. But she keeps on repeating what’s going to happen to me – over and over. I know it was a mistake I keep thinking – but just shut up!