A Short, Silly Valentine’s Day Play

 

BE MY GHOUL

A struggling ad agency pitches an unusual pro bono account.

 

CHARACTERS:

OLIVER – 30-something male, high-energy and confident

ALLEGRA – 30-something female, a bit shy and conservative

ROMERO – An “ageless” well-dressed zombie in a suit who shuffles when he walks

SETTING: Contemporary small ad agency board room.

TIME: Present day, afternoon

AT RISE: Oliver and Allegra scurry about, setting up the conference room table for their next meeting.

OLIVER: How do I look?

ALLEGRA: Killer, as always.  You’ll knock ‘em dead.

OLIVER: Not sure that’s necessary with this client.  Or even possible.

ALLEGRA: You’re so talented.

OLIVER: Why should that stop us?

ALLEGRA: What?

OLIVER: You know what.  The money.  Do I have to ask again?

ALLEGRA: I won’t start off in debt.  Financial problems are the leading cause of failed marriages.  I’ve seen the stats.

OLIVER: Statistics have nothing to do with the heart.

ALLEGRA: The heart has nothing to do with paying the bills.  Let me put it this way, if we don’t land this account, we’re goners.

OLIVER: As in dead meat?

ALLEGRA: The deadest. … Don’t worry. He’ll love the campaign.

OLIVER: My dear, I hope so. You inspired the campaign.

ALLEGRA: You did such a great job with the nail biters group.

OLIVER: I did, didn’t I?

ALLEGRA: Getting Nine Inch Nails to perform at the closing ceremony was brilliant.

OLIVER: Didn’t do so well with the Hemlock Society.

ALLEGRA: What do you mean?  Reusable membership cards is saving them thousands of dollars each year.  And those Hemlock action toys for seniors you placed in the fast food hamburger chain boxes?  Big hit.  Huge.

OLIVER: Perhaps.  But organizing their Christmas Party was a disaster.

ALLEGRA: Guests should have known better than to drink from the punch bowl.  I mean it was the Hemlock Society.  Hello!

OLIVER: Allegra?

ALLEGRA: Yes?

OLIVER: Would you help me with the pitch?

ALLEGRA: You know better, Oliver. You’re the creative genius around here.  I’m just the bean counter.  I answer the phone, order supplies, do the books.  You do all the magic.

OLIVER: It’s the kind of pitch that would work better with a partner.  You wouldn’t have to say much, just read a slogan or two from the comp boards.  Besides, he’s not a very talkative client.  He mumbles and groans a lot and feels a little insecure because of it, I suspect.  Nice man, though, with a great sense of humor.  They have a huge budget for the campaign and the deep pockets to back it up.  This could be the break we’re looking for.

ALLEGRA: Who is it again?

OLIVER: Mr. Romero.  He’s the publicity director for ZONA, Zombies of North America.  They’re trying to upgrade their image.

ALLEGRA: And I inspired this campaign?  I don’t know whether to be proud or to run for the door.

Several clumsy KNOCKS on the door.

OLIVER: He’s here.  Please let him in.

Allegra opens the door and is startled by what she sees: a Zombie in a suit.  He enters stiff and zombie-like, because that’s what he is.

ALLEGRA: Oh!  [beat]  Welcome.  Please come in.

ROMERO: (Mumbles a greeting)

Romero leans in to kiss her on both cheeks.  She’s appalled. 

OLIVER: Welcome, Mr. Romero.  I trust you had an enjoyable flight?

ROMERO: (Mumbles a response)

OLIVER: I share your pain.  The TSA lines can take forever.

Oliver shakes Romero’s right hand and the zombie’s arm falls off.  It drops to the floor.

ROMERO: (Groans)

Allegra gasps.  Oliver picks up the arm and hands it back to his client.

OLIVER: So very sorry.

ROMERO: (Moans)

OLIVER: Yes, I imagine it does happen all the time.  But we all have our little embarrassments, don’t we?  Sometimes I whistle when I talk.  Don’t mean to.  Never could as a kid.

ALLEGRA: I always spill food on my blouse.

ROMERO: (Mumbles)

OLIVER: No.  The campaign’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg.  Good one, though.

ALLEGRA: Could I get you something to drink, mineral water perhaps?  Coffee?

ROMERO: (Mumbles)

OLIVER: I hear you, staying awake is not your problem.  The last thing you need is caffeine.  I’ll get right to the point.

Romero sits, puts his detached arm in front of him.  Oliver stands next to the flip chart, ready to turn the first page.

OLIVER (CONT’D): Our market research indicates that most people associate zombies with Latin America, especially Haiti, and not the United States.  I can imagine your organization is tired of living in the shadow of your cousins to the south.

ROMERO: (Moans)

OLIVER: We have found that one of the best ways to improve a group’s image is to tie the group to a holiday.  Mothers have Mother’s Day.  Fathers Father’s Day.  There’s Veteran’s Day.  Boss’ Day.  Labor Day.

ALLEGRA: Groundhog Day.

OLIVE: Guy Fawkes Day.

ROMERO: (Mumbles)

OLIVER: I’m not sure who he was but he has a whole day to himself. He’s listed on our events calendar.

ROMERO: (Mumbles)

OLIVER: Well, no.  I’m not proposing a Zombie’s Day per se.  I suspect that would be a little too ambitious at this point.  Instead, I’m proposing –

Romero raises his one good arm.

ROMERO: (Mumbles)

OLIVER: Yes.  I know your group is normally associated with Halloween but that’s one day a year and there’s so much competition, what with monsters, witches, animal masks, masks of former presidents.  It’s hard for you and your fellow zombies to get the attention — and respect, I might add — you all deserve.  The Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico, for example, lasts for two-three days.  That’s why I’m proposing we think out of the box.

ROMERO: (Mumbles)

OLIVER: No pun intended, sir.  Out of the box is, yes, well, what I recommend is that your organization actively promote zombies during …

Finally, Oliver lifts the first sheet off the flip chart to reveal the words: Valentine’s Day.

OLIVER (CONT’D): Valentine’s Day.

Romero grabs his severed arm and stands.  He’s heard enough.  Allegra jumps in.

ALLEGRA: Picture it, sir.  It’s that time of year again.  Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  What better time –

OLIVER: What better time to crawl out of the grave and celebrate with that significant other?

ALLEGRA: And now you can.  With… with …

Allegra flips the next page and it has the word “Zombieseez” on it.  She stares at it for a moment.

ALLEGRA (CONT’D): … with Zombieseez. [pause]  Oliver?

OLIVER: Zombieseez.  The love candy created by Zombies for Zombies.  Just for you and what’s left of yours on that special Night of the Living Dead.

Romero sits.

ALLEGRA: Remember, anyone can give decaying flowers –

OLIVER: — But it takes a special someone to give rotten candy.  Zombieseez.  When you care enough to say, “Because you’re dead and I’m grateful.” Now with sixteen decomposing colors!

ROMERO: (Mumbles)

OLIVER: Yes, we took into account the special dental problems of your membership.  I assure you, these candies, unlike the typical hard Valentine’s Day message candies, will be soft and chewy, almost fleshy in texture.

Oliver and Allegra are on a roll.  When one flips, the other reads.  On each page is a different saying for a piece of candy, similar to Valentine’s Day heart-shaped message candy. 

OLIVER (CONT’D): Be My Corpse!

Oliver flips another sheet.  Allegra reads.

ALLEGRA: You Look Like Death Warmed Over.

Allegra flips, Oliver reads.

OLIVER: You Make My Skin Fall Off.

Oliver flips, Allegra reads.

ALLEGRA: Let’s Go Gnaw On Someone.

Allegra flips, Oliver reads.

OLIVER: I’ll Be Your Ghoul Fool.

Oliver flips, Allegra reads.

ALLEGRA: Let’s Share Some Worms.

Allegra flips, Oliver reads.

OLIVER: Be My Mummy.

Oliver flips, Allegra reads.

ALLEGRA: Zombies Rule The Night.

Allegra flips.  They read it together.

OLIVER/ALLEGRA: Your teeth are rotten. Your eyes are missing. Your limbs are forgotten. Let’s do some kissing.

Oliver and Allegra embrace and kiss.  They knock over the chart. 

ROMERO: (Coughs)

OLIVER: My apologies, Mr. Romero.  But do you understand where we’re going with this, sir?  The campaign?  Love conquers all.  Love and Death.  It’s as simple as that.  Love.

ROMERO: (Grunts and nods in approval)

OLIVER: It’s nothing less than Romeo and Juliet.

Romero stands, walks over to Oliver. 

ROMERO: (Mumbles)

OLIVER: I’m very pleased to hear that, sir.

Oliver extends his hand to Romero’s as if to shake on it.  Romero shakes his head No and holds up his severed arm as a reminder.

OLIVER (CONT’D): Of course.  How silly of me.  It’s a deal then?

Romero nods Yes and shuffles off.  Oliver opens and closes the door for him and returns to the room. He’s expressionless. Beat.

ALLEGRA: Oliver?

OLIVER: What a team!  We got the account!

They kiss, then separate.

ALLEGRA: If love can conquer everything, even death, it can surely conquer our financial problems.

OLIVER: It’s just money.

ALLEGRA: And not much of it at that.  Now it’s my turn to ask.  Will you marry me?

OLIVER: You mean be together forever?

ALLEGRA: For better or for worse.

OLIVER:  In sickness and in health.

ALLEGRA: Till death do us part.

OLIVER: We’ll stay together even after death.

ALLEGRA: Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  I’ll be your ghoul.

ROMERO: (O.S. Groans)

OLIVER: And I’ll be yours.

Lights down.

(End of Play)

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2 comments

  1. Muchas gracias, Marty. We miss you both and look forward to seeing you again. If you get a chance, watch “Schitt’s Creek,” a Canadian sitcom that stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. Onward and upward, sideways and sideways!

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