Aaron Levy

 

BOLT-CUTTER MAN

 

(We hear the metronome beat of a motorized baby’s swing. KAREN, mid 20s stands nervously at the door and keeps watch.)

 

KAREN

You’re clear! Hurryhurryhurryhurryhurry—hi.

 

(Enter a completely out of breath KEITH, mid 20s, KAREN’S husband.)

 

KEITH

I—I—I—I—

 

KAREN

Just tell me, tell me! But hurry up, it’s almost 5:30 and you know what that means.

 

KEITH

Whoo—I can’t catch my breath here.

 

KAREN

I will just order some decongestion bronchial spray and they will deliver it through the slot in the door just like the baby’s medicine, groceries and clothes and how it all comes to us.

 

 KEITH

I’m just a little out of shape is all.

 

KAREN

Oh sure. Sure. I hadn’t noticed.

 

KEITH

I can’t run with that kind of urgency. When was the last time we got some exercise?

 

KAREN

Well, I had the baby almost a year ago. That was strenuous. And remember, you had to hold my legs while I pushed.

 

KEITH

Yeah, yeah, that works the triceps and and I think the trapa-thingies.

 

KAREN

Now, did you do it, Keith? Were you successful?

 

KEITH

Oh, oh! Yes. I did it. It’s locked. The front gate is completed bolted. Nobody’s gettin’ in and nobody’s gettin’ out.

 

KAREN

(very relieved) Oh thank you thank you thank you.

 

KEITH

I just want to make sure we have a key to it in case we ever do want to get out.

 

KAREN

With our job situation being totally internet-ed, I think we’re in the clear there.

 

(Beat. Then KEITH grabs her wrist and looks at her watch.)

 

BOTH

Ahhhhh!!

 

(THEY bolt for the t.v.)

 

KAREN

I think we just missed the opening credits with our chitter-chatter—hurry, turn it on!

 

KEITH

Where’s the God-damned fucking remote?!

 

KAREN

It’s a clicker and it’s right here and don’t use that kind of tone because the baby is repeating tones lately.

 

(SHE clicks on the NEWS. We hear the report given in Peanuts- Adult style. After a blurb of news BOTH gasp in horror. Another blurb, another gasp of horror. One more blurb-gasp, and then BOTH exhale – the flurry, for now, over.)

 

KAREN

Weird for weather to be next this early in the news broadcast.

 

KEITH

No, no, dear. It’s Halloween… Although, our child doesn’t really do Halloween—

 

KAREN

He’s watching Elmo in the swinging thing that shuts off in exactly seven minutes.

 

KEITH

Right. (slightly disappointed) Elmo. (sighs)

 

KAREN

Shame on you, Keith. Babies need routines they can depend on. What? Do you want to start breaking things, Keith? I think the garbage disposal still works. Why don’t we stuff a pumpkin down in it? Then it will feel just like Halloween. Is that what you want?

KEITH

You’re right. You’re right. It’s just…

 

KAREN

That’s it—get the list.

 

KEITH

The list? I don’t think—

 

KAREN

It will be good for us to review the list and then you can tell me all of your feelings. C’mon before it gets too dark outside. C’mon.

 

(THEY move to a spot on the stage where KEITH removes a secret floorboard and retrieves a piece of paper. He unfolds and opens it. She reads:)

 

Okay. “Things that scare us.” Let’s read responsively, Keith. You do the first one.

 

KEITH

People.

 

KAREN

Right. In general. Not all people just ones we don’t know and/or ones we’ve known for a long time.

 

KEITH

Do we have to do this now?

 

KAREN

Next – afraid to teach – that’s for both of us, former teachers in buildings.

 

KEITH

Afraid of snipers…that one was mine.

 

KAREN

That’s a good one, Dear. Afraid of poisons. Like in the air and also your basic general cleaning products, which are full of toxins. You know, even sidewalk chalk has toxic dust particles.

 

KEITH

Afraid to get gas…for the car that is. Afraid of…gas.

 

KAREN

That was mine and now it’s yours too! Afraid to drive on the freeway. Afraid to merge onto the freeway too, you know, afraid to merge.

 

KEITH

Afraid of bodies of water, even puddles, puddles can kill. You can’t put a self-contained gate around every God-damned puddle.

 

KAREN

Afraid of baby books and doctors that say you should let your baby cry it out.

 

KEITH

Afraid of breast pumps.

 

KAREN

Afraid of your mother. And etc. Okay, now, tell me your feelings.

 

KEITH

Oh, well, ah, it’s Halloween. And, and soon it will be dark…It’s just Halloween is all.

 

KAREN

Maybe you have forgotten the scale of things, dear, AND our lengthy discussions during pillow talk night after night about the responsibilities of starting a family AND our duty to protect and serve our family while we wait patiently for the government, who we trust, to clean up all of the chaos. Does pillow talk mean nothing to you anymore?

 

KEITH

No. Yes. I mean I know, sugar fly, I don’t doubt what you’re tellin’ me. It’s just sad.

 

KAREN

We don’t have the freedom to judge it—no, go ahead, express your feelings, dear. (deep collecting breath) You’re sad, go ahead, express.

 

KEITH

I just think about how one year as a kid I dressed up like Darth Vader and went to school and did the breathing thing and thought for a little while at least that I could control the dark side of things. It was quite, I don’t know… wonderful.

 

KAREN

And what happened right before you went trick-or-treating that night or don’t you choose to remember?

 

KEITH

What do you mean?

 

KAREN

Oh, c’mon Keith. Who ruined it?

 

KEITH

Nobody.

KAREN

Keith? Who ruined it?

 

KEITH

(reluctant to admit) My mom.

 

KAREN

Ah-huh. And how did she do that?

 

KEITH

(reluctant to admit) She made me put on a winter coat.

 

KAREN

Keith, can I tell you something? I will never do that to you. I will never make you wear a winter coat.

 

KEITH

But we never go outside anymore.

 

(The doorbell rings.)

 

BOTH

Aahhhhh!

 

KAREN

I thought you locked the front gate!

 

KEITH

I did, you saw me!

 

(A beat as they stare at each other in perfect silence and then bolt in opposite directions to check the baby. They enter running.)

 

KEITH KAREN

Oh sweet mother Lord of Jesus. The baby’s fine, he’s okay, he’s stationary.

 

KEITH

It’s a sniper! Gotta be.

 

KAREN

No snipers don’t make house visits. We googled it. They shoot you through the window.

 

KEITH

We boarded up the windows.

 

(Doorbell.)

BOTH

Aaaah!

 

KAREN

It’s a raper, ah, ah, rapist!

 

KEITH

No, honey, we’ve read about this too. Rapers only get you in dark stairwells and they don’t take mothers because they think it’s gross to violate the birth canal.

 

KAREN

It’s a kidnapper then!

 

(Doorbell.)

 

KEITH

No, kidnappers only kidnap when the people try and help other people and we never help other people on purpose.

 

(Doorbell.)

 

KAREN

Who is it then and how did they get past our locked gate?! Barbed wire doesn’t go bad. Right? They can’t just climb over, right?! (Doorbell.) Just shhhhh. We’ll act like we’re not home. But maybe it’s a robber and they have been casing the joint then they’ll know when we come and go.

 

KEITH

But we don’t come and go. We don’t go at all.

 

KAREN

Don’t you sound spiteful, Keith. That was a family decision we made a long time ago when you were working on the computer and I was watching the news with the baby who we have both committed to loving unconditionally.

 

(Beat. Doorbell. Beat.)

 

KEITH

I’m going to answer it.

 

KAREN

What?

 

KEITH

I’m going to answer it. It’s probably just, just an innocent trick-or-treater.

 

KAREN

Keith Jonathan Miller, if you answer that door you had better be prepared to deal with the consequences of going against a pact that we made as a family.

 

(Doorbell.)

 

KEITH

It will be okay, Karen. Go be with the baby.

 

KAREN

Wait! No. I am watching your back, Mister.

 

KEITH

(To the door.)

Ah, who is it?

 

VOICE

(menacing Darth-Vader like)

Trick or treat.

 

KEITH

(to KAREN) Go get this kid an apple.

 

KAREN

Alright, Mr., but you stall until I come back with that apple.

 

(SHE goes.)

 

KEITH

(to door)

Ah, yes, we’re not doing that this year, kiddo. (Doorbell) Ah, yes, we’re not doing—

 

VOICE

Trick or Treat.

 

(KAREN returns with apple.)

 

KEITH

It’s just a kid. I think I’m going to open the door.

 

KAREN

Wait. I love you. Wait. Okay. Wait. Okay. What ever happens, I love you.

 

KEITH

Me too. I mean, I love you too. Whatever happens.

 

(KEITH opens the door. A teen in costume that looks like Death with a cape. In one hand is a trick-or-treat bag with a skull and cross bones on it. In the other are bolt cutters. The TRICK OR TREATER breathes like Darth Vader.)

 

KEITH

And, and who are you supposed to be, Sport?

 

(IT just breathes like DARTH VADER.)

 

KAREN

Here’s an apple for you, Sporto.

 

(IT then drops a bolt-lock and chain in front of the COUPLE.)

 

TRICK OR TREATER

I am Bolt Cutter Man…man. (breathes) I am here to destroy all peace and release your children from tyranny.

 

KEITH

Look, honey, it’s, it’s Bolt Cutter Man. He just cuts through locks.

 

TRICK OR TREATER

You can not lock up evil and expect to throw away the key, man.

 

KEITH

It’s, ah, part of his costume to just, just cut through locks, honey. And we happened to have one on our gate.

 

TRICK OR TREATER

(breathes) If there’s a razor blade in that apple, if you gave me a bad apple, man, my mother will find you. (breathes)

 

KEITH

That’s a deal.

 

KAREN

Deal.

 

(He breathes and retreats. THEY close the door and breathe sighs of relief.)

 

KAREN

Oh my God.

 

KEITH

That was close, close as it gets.

 

KAREN

(recovering, beat) Keith?

 

KEITH

Yeah.

 

KAREN

What was it like out there? You know, when you were out there earlier?

 

KEITH

Oh. Well, I’ll tell you I’m not in the kind of shape I used to be.

 

KAREN

That’s my fault. I should be watching your fatty acid intake.

 

KEITH

I think I saw a neighbor.

 

KAREN

Really?

 

KEITH

And I saw some kids starting to trick-or-treat. The younger ones before it gets dark.

 

KAREN

With their little costumes and you could see their masks and all?

 

KEITH

This year the popular one is Spider Man.

 

KAREN

(getting excited) Because of the movie, right. Oh, that is so cute. I’ll bet Keith Jr. will love Spider Man. He already loves all the insects in his insect book. Plus he looks so good in red, I can see him being Spider Man when he’s old enough. I mean if he ever, you know, I mean if he…

 

(Pause. We hear a couple more beats from the baby’s swing and then we hear it end. Beat. The couple notices and then:)

 

BOTH

Oh my God! The baby!!!!

 

(Blackout)

Aaron Levy currently teaches Creative Writing and English at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, GA. His award-winning plays have been produced nationally and internationally, and published by Dramatic Publishing and Smith & Kraus. Levy’s most produced play to date, Pizza With Shrimp On Top (Dramatic Publishing) has enjoyed several dozen nationally and internationally productions, and was nominated for the Distinguished National Play Award by The American Alliance for Theatre in Education (AATE). Recently he has had or will have flash fiction pieces appear in Black Heart Magazine, The Kennesaw Review, and Apollo’s Lyre. “Bolt-Cutter Man” was originally developed and given a staged reading production by Actors Theatre of Phoenix in their 10-minute play festival.