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Vanessa's Gonna Be Prepared
by Marcus Del Greco
Originally produced at the University of New Hampshire 1/98 with the following cast:
Directed by Travis Bedard
(The scene is Vanessa's bedroom, decorated with the U.S. flag, posters of military machinery, a sign that says "Anarchy Is Coming," photographs of mushroom clouds, toy guns, and a large banner reading "John the Baptist Knew What Was Up." She is a radical Armageddonist, a very intelligent but morose fourteen year-old girl.)
(Lights up on Vanessa, pretending to clean a toy gun. She is in olive drab or even camouflage, with combat boots. The lights are not yet full. She is listening to loud music, perhaps "I Don't Live Today" by Jimi Hendrix. She may even dance to it, and present at first to the audience a picture of a comic teenager. She continues cleaning her gun eventually. There is a knock on her door after a few moments, and she turns off the music abruptly.)
VANESSA (calling): Who goes?
CINDY: Your sister goes! What gives? Open up, you little Nazi!
VANESSA: Password please!
VANESSA: No password, no admittance. You know the new rule.
CINDY: I'll give you a new rule. How's this? (at the very top of her lungs) Mom!!! Mom!!! Vanessa's locked herself in her room again!!!
VANESSA: Alright, alright, you can come in. Just shut up, okay?
VANESSA (unlocking door and letting her in): Shut up! Why do always want to get me in trouble?
CINDY: Because you ask for it, little sis,
VANESSA: I'm not your "sis." If anyone's a sissy around here, it's you.
CINDY: You mean, if anyone realizes she was born a girl around here, it's me.
VANESSA (brandishing gun): I'll waste you.
CINDY: I double dare ya.
PATRICIA (entering) Vanessa! NO POINTING GUNS AT PEOPLE!
VANESSA: It's just a toy-
PATRICIA: You know that doesn't matter a bit. Give it to me.
PATRICIA: Give it to me
(a standoff, and Vanessa gives in)
PATRICIA: Thank you. None of the others are to come down off that wall. Not to clean, not to polish: for one week. Understand me?
PATRICIA: That's too many times now. You've got to learn.
VANESSA: But Mom-
PATRICIA: You wanna go live with your father? (a pause) I think we're agreed, then.
(she exits, but sticks her head back in for a last word)
PATRICIA: And Cindy... stop provoking her. You're older than she is. (she's gone)
VANESSA: I hate her.
CINDY: Don't say that. Can't you see what all this does to her? You're very inconsiderate.
VANESSA: I think I'm the only one who really considers things around here. (confidentially, in a whisper) If people would just listen, we could prevent the global anarchy that's imminent!
CINDY: Vanessa, don't start again. It doesn't sound like you,
VANESSA: It isn't me. I've done my research. Just listen to this. (cracking a book, clearing her voice) "There is little debate that the prophecy of Armageddon will indeed come true. From Christian readers of Revelations to secular Doomsday-ists, the only question that remains is how the end of the world will come about.,,
CINDY: It's just a book written by a crazy person.
VANESSA: Oh, yeah? Well howls this for a crazy person? (she cracks a different book) "Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire..." Robert Frost.
CINDY: Your brain is frosted, sis'. You've got to lighten up a little!
(Vanessa's phone rings just then, a red phone like the Washington to Moscow line.)
VANESSA: I think that's for me. (picking up) Hello? Sure, c'mon over. Okay. Bye.
CINDY: Oooooooooh! Was that-
VANESSA (sternly): That was Sargeant Thomas Masons, my direct inferior in the Anti-Anarchy Militia.
CINDY: Otherwise known as... drum roll please... Vanessa's boyfriend!
VANESSA (begins chasing her): Is not!
CINDY (running out): Vanessa's got a boyfriend!
VANESSA: Do not.
(Cindy is out of sight)
CINDY: Boyfriend, boyfriend!
(she closes the door)
VANESSA: They don't understand yet.
(she puts her ear to the door to make sure nobody's coming, and locks it. The lights grow almost imperceptably dimner. Vanessa is very silent as she moves to her bed and recovers a handgun from underneath. Vanessa's respect for it indicates that it is real. She admires it in awe for a few moments, then a knock comes on the door. The lights bump back up at the knock and she scrambles to hide the gun again.)
VANESSA: Just a minute!
TOMMY: Preparation is the only defense!
VANESSA: Hold on! Don't scream the password like that! (she unlocks door)
TOMMY (entering): Sargeant Thomas Masons, reporting for duty!
VANESSA: Good to see you, Sgt. Masons. (kisses him coyly on cheek)
TOMMY: When my superior calls, I come.
VANESSA: This is an important day, Sargeant. I just received my first copy of the John Birch Society newsletter.
TOMMY: Lemee see. (she hands it to him)
VANESSA: The most interesting article in there is about the urban Conspiracy. It has already changed my thinking about what we're up against.
TOMMY: I don't get it.
VANESSA: Sgt. masons, we may have stumbled upon a plausible theory of what will actually happen to bring about the end of the world! The article talks about the exploding ghettos in the big cities, and how mass anarchy will result when the minority races become the majority and seek retribution.
TOMMY: I dunno, Vanessa.
TOMMY (coming to attention): Sorry. Major Vanessa Kiljoy.
VANESSA: What this is trying to say is that Armageddon will eventually come about as a result of a race war!
VANESSA: What are you going to do when a gang of niggers comes knocking on your door, wanting blood. (she has scared the boy sufficiently) Well, Vanessa's gonna be prepared.
VANESSA: How much can I trust you?
TOMMY: You can trust me.
VANESSA: Kiss me first. (he does, quickly on the lips) Again, longer. (they kiss romantically, and she pauses after) I'll never let you do that again if you ever tell anybody about what I'm going to show you.
(Tommy looks scared as she pulls out the gun)
TOMMY: Is that real? (she nods) Shit. Where did you get it?
VANESSA: I stole it.
TOMMY: From where?
(a knock a t the door)
BOTH: Shit! (they scramble to hide the gun, and Vanessa sticks it in her dresser drawer)
PATRICIA: Vanessa, it's your mother! You know you're not supposed to close the door with a friend over.
VANESSA: He's not my boyfriend!
PATRICIA: I didn't say he was. Just open this door.
PATRICIA: Thank you. Tommy, how have you been?
TOMMY (still nervous about the gun experience): Good.
PATRICIA: How's your mother?
PATRICIA: Good. (pause) Vanessa, is there anything wrong?
VANESSA (nudging Tommy): No.
PATRICIA: You two behave. And keep the door open.
TOMMY: You know, 'Nessa, I'm not sure about all this.
VANESSA (viscious): What are you talking about?
TOMMY: I mean... the whole Militia and everything. It seems a little weird.
VANESSA (stern): Tommy.
TOMMY: You've just been talking real funny lately. I mean, I like the whole "fighting against the forces of anarchy," and "preparing for the worst as soldiers of true fortune," but today... I don't know.
VANESSA (retrieving gun): Well I guess you'd better find out, because now we're dealing with some pretty serious firepower now. We're a Blood Brotherhood.
TOMMY: Put it away, 'Nessa.
VANESSA: Are you really that big of a pussy?
TOMMY: Well, my dad daid-
VANESSA: maybe your dad's a pussy, too! Did you ever think of that?
TOMMY (near tears): You're a jerk
VANESSA (training gun on him): Address me properly.
TOMMY: You're a jerk, Major Kiljoy.
VANESSA: Thank you. Now, Sargeant Masons, I know the doctrine of the Militia may seem... extreme. But that's what I feel is called for right now. Something inside me tells me the end is coming, and I don't know why.
TOMMY (suddenly defiant): You're a nut-case!
(she puts gown down, confident she has regained control)
VANESSA: Sticks and stones will break my bones. See what I mean? You gotta have real muscle if you're going to survive.
(she turns her back to him as she delivers this building monologue slowly enough for him to take his action. it is his turning point.)
VANESSA: I don't know how it'll happen, Tommy. But it will. I feel it. It started when I used to be depressed all the time. I wore dark clothing and thought I was so cool for knowing what everybody else didn't. But now I'm doing something about it. When shit hits the fan out there, I'll be ready to defend myself. When all is said and done, when that hideous "something" starts slouching towards Bethlehem, I'll be ready for it!
(she turns and sees he has retrieved the gun and trained it on her)
TOMMY: Don't move.
TOMMY: You heard me. Move an inch and I'll shoot. I swear.
VANESSA: Sgt. masons, this is an extremely poor show of your loyalty to the Militia.
TOMMY: You could say that.
VANESSA: Don't do anything stupid.
TOMMY: Like steal a gun, and go around pointing it at people? That is kind of stupid, isn't it? we can get into some serious trouble for this. My dad would shoot me himself if he knew.
VANESSA: Then put the gun down, and then we'll get rid of it.
TOMMY: I don't believe you. I don't believe you'll get rid of it
VANESSA: Of course I will. We will.
TOMMY: No closer. (he cocks the gun)
(at that moment Patricia and Cindy enter, thinking only that the kids are up to their old "war games.")
PATRICIA: Alright, Vanessa, the Peace Treaty's been signed. All must put down their weapons. Tommy, give me the gun, please. Vanessa, you're grounded.
VANESSA: Tommy, don't point it at them!
TOMMY: She's gone crazy, Mrs. Kiljoy. Don't come closer, she's totally insane!
VANESSA: You're the one with the gun!
CINDY: You twolve got quite a routine worked out. You could be actors.
VANESSA: We're not acting.
TOMMY (still pointing gun at Patricia): She's right. We're totally serious, and we're prepared for any eventuality. If either of you tell my father about this, I'll blow you away right where you stand. Now Vanessa stole this-
VANESSA: Shut the fuck up, Tommy.
PATRICIA (approaching Tommy to take gun): Vanessa, the both of you are to cease playing with your guns this instant or else you won't see the light of day until-
VANESSA: Tommy, don't!
(Vanessa runs at him, thinking he will shoot her mother. He is startled, and shoots Vanessa instead. Cindy screams. Vanessa falls to the ground and Tommy stands where he is, stunned. Patricia runs to her fallen daughter, hysterical.)
(Tommy drops the gun)
(The red phone rings and goes unanswered as Patricia and Cindy mourn loudly)
Marcus Del Greco has been writing for the page, stage, and record since 1992. He founded mindmined.com in 1998 and continues as editor and developer of this domain and a small network of other creative websites. He lives in Alton, New Hampshire.
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