The Grandfather Clock

by Duncan Wells

The Grandfather Clock was inspired by the song of the same name,
written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work (1832 - 1884)

Marlene attempts to get up from her chair to go after Robert but falls.

Mar: Oh really? Is that a fact? Then if I'm a bitch….shit!

Jen: Oh for the love of God.

Robert: Ha! Had a little too much to drink did we Mar?

Jen: Robert help her up for God's sake!

He holds his hand out for her to grab onto

Robert: Aww Christ! Here, get up.

Mar: You keep your hands away from me.

She clamors her way back into her chair

Robert: I'm just trying to help you up.

Mar: Just…just, get the hell away from me. Damned buzzard, damned…damned vulture!

She sits, drinks back the rest of her drink and pours herself another

Jen: All I got to say is you two better smarten the hell up!

Robert: It's her whose doin' all the yellin'.

Jen: And it's you who called her a stupid bitch.

Robert: Well, she is…

Jen: Stop it! Just…just, shut up.

Mar holds the bottle

Mar: Robert how would you like this bottle shoved up your…

Jen: I said shut up!

Mar: Yeah, well he…

Jen: I said shutup!

Mar: Who…

Jen: Ah!!

Mar: But he…

Jen: Ah!!!

Pause. Mar resigns, shakes her head in disgust and says no more. Robert pours for himself and Jen

Jen: Thank you Robert. (Pause) Now…the way I see it is that you two have a problem. Me? I have no problem. None at all. I understand and I even agree with you Marlene that after 42 years of taking care of the house, paying the bills, maintaining the property and making sure that daddy was cared for…feeding him, washing and ironing his clothes, making sure he made it to his medical appointments on time…

Robert: But Jen, she…

Jen: Robert, I said shut up! You two had your say. Now it's my turn. (Pause) Now….as I was saying…I understand and I agree that after 42 years that Marlene has every reason to expect that this house and everything in it should be left to her without interference from anyone…you, me, anyone!

Robert: Yeah but…

Jen: But shut up, ok?

Robert: Oh for Christ sake!

Jen: Of that 42 years, 20 of them had to be hell because once daddy turned 70 his health really began to go downhill. He spent two months in the hospital that time and almost died of pneumonia…and who took care of him when we all thought he was on his death bed? Not me! Not you! Uh uh! It was Marlene. She was here through it all…never complained and never once called to ask you or me for help. And for the last 10 years of his life, daddy was on daily medication.

Mar: 14 years.

Jen: Ok then, 14 years. The point is, who made sure he took his medication every single day during those 14 years? Marlene, that's who! Marlene! She was the only person that took the time, who actually dedicated her entire life to taking care of daddy. It wasn't me because I had my own life to live and, Robert, it wasn't you either. And you know, Marlene's right when she says we came here only because we had to, only because daddy died. Out of guilt? Absolutely! Because of greed? Well, maybe you Robert, but not me. We were all well aware that daddy didn't have a proper will prepared and so we just can't simply make one up out of thin air, right here, right now. That would be stupid. (She sighs) I dunno…, Robert….he thinks the house should be sold and the proceeds divided up between the three of us. I agree… but, again, there's no will.

She looks to the floor on both sides of her chair.

Where's my purse? Oh, there it is! Now…….I don't want to complicate things but I have to ask, do either of you have anything in writing that states the house will be passed on to all three surviving children.

Mar: What are you talkin' about?

Jen: It's a very simple question Marlene. Do you have anything in writing from daddy that mentions how the house and it's contents are to be divided up among the surviving children?

Mar: No.

Jen: Robert?

Robert: No, of course not Jen and you know that.

She removes an envelope from her purse

Jen: Well, I do.

Robert: What?

Jen: A birthday card, Robert. A birthday card! Daddy sent me a birthday card with two twenty dollar bills in it for my 40th birthday. On the inside of the card he wrote me a letter and I wanna read it to both of you.

Robert: What kind of BS is this?

She puts on her reading glasses

Jen: …let's see….it says….."Happy Birthday sweetheart…..I just wanted to send you this card and money…one dollar for every candle on your cake. It's been so long since you've visited that sometimes I wonder if you are still alive. Ha! Ha! Just kidding of course. Jennifer" - and by the way, that's me, Jennifer ……."Jennifer, I haven't forgotten how fond you were as a little girl of the old clock in the living room and how you used to help me dust and polish and keep it looking good. I want you to know that, because of how much you loved that clock, that as a remembrance, I will be leaving it to you after I'm gone".

Robert: What?

Jen: That's what it says…right here…in Daddy's hand writing.

Mar: I don't care what it says. You're still not getting the clock.

Jen: "Happy Birthday, yada, yada, yada….. signed….Daddy."

Robert: You're making that up. You wrote that yourself just so you could get the clock.

Mar: Nobody's getting the clock!

Jen: I have it right here. And it's daddy's writing too. Have a look for yourself.

Robert takes the card and reads it

Mar: I said nobody's getting the clock!

Jen: Sorry Mar but I do have it in writing.

Robert: This is crazy.

Jen: The clock is mine.

Mar: The clock stays right where it is.

Jen: The clock comes with me. I already spoke to a lawyer friend and he said the card is just as good as any legal document, as long as there's not another document to dispute it's contents. Do either of you have a document to dispute it's contents?

Robert: You're out of your mind!

Jen: Well, what can I say? I have it I writing!

Robert: Oh yeah?

He rips it to shreds …then maybe you'd like to prove it.

Jen: What are you doin'?

She attempts to wrestle it from him. He forces her back into her chair but she gets back up and goes after him.

Robert: You just go ahead and try proving that you have it in writing.

Jen: You evil rotten no good bastard!

She slaps him

Mar: Stop it you two!

Robert: What Jen, you didn't make a copy?

Jen: You no good son of a bitch!

She slaps him again

Robert: Humph! Obviously you didn't make a copy. Gee whiz, too bad.

She jumps him and they both go to the floor. Jen is on top and getting the best of him. Mar exits

Mar: Ok, that's it! I'm callin' the cops.

Jen: The clock is mine.

Robert: Get offa me! Get…shit! Get the hell offa me!

Jen: Daddy promised….me!

Robert: Mar? Shit! Ouch!

Jen: He said…

Robert: Damn!

Jen: …the clock…

Robert: Ouch! You bitch!

Jen: …was mine!

Robert: Stop hitting me….damn! Marlene call the cops or somethin'. Ow! Shit I'm bleeding! Marlene?

Jen attempts to reach for the rum bottle while still on top of him. He is able to push her off and escape. She follows him off with the rum bottle in hand.

Jen: You bastard! The clock is mine! Robert? You hear me?

Pause. The clock begins to tick. The old man is obviously very satisfied with his work. Voices heard off stage

Jen: Robert?

The thud of the bottle is heard and a body falling to the ground

Jen: Robert? (Pause) Oh shit! I think he's dead.

Long pause. The clock continues to tick throughout. The old man leaves his tools where they are and returns to his chair. He picks up the paper and returns to his death position. Enter Marlene with a glass of water and a pill. She now has an apron on and any signs of intoxication have disappeared.

Mar: Daddy? (She gives him a shake) Daddy, wake up! It's time for your pill. Here, open up. Take a drink of water. That's good!


Daddy, what are all these tools doing out on the floor?

He reads his paper, doesn't respond, doesn't even look up. She takes his cup.

You want more tea?

No response

I'll get you another cup, ok?

She begins exit and stops

Oh yeah daddy, by the way…Robert and Jen called. They just wanted to wish you a happy birthday.

Lights Fade

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