Sunday, April 8, 2007

One Acts: Keeper of the Keys

[Curtain rises to reveal Barry Lewis, a recently deceased rug salesman from Plainsboro, New Jersey, as he emerges from an escalator that recedes into a fluffy mass of clouds. The dulcet tones of Rod Stewart can be heard wafting through the air. He finds himself facing a giant portal perfectly rendered from flawless pearl and backlit by a bright white light. In front of the gate stands an elderly man dressed in flowing white robes. The man squints into a massive, leather-bound book resting on top of a wooden lectern. He removes a ballpoint pen from behind his ear and yawns lazily. People are standing in front of the lectern and grouped behind a yellow line three feet away from it.]

St. Peter: Lew-, Lewin? Aw, for Christ's sake, look at this handwriting. Is that an "s"? Lewis? Do we have a Barry Lewis?

Barry: That's me!

St. Peter: Approach the counter please. Do you have form 3L filled out already?

Barry: Uh, they just told me to come here. Was there a sign or something?

St. Peter: It shoudla come by post. Was the package shaped like a large string instrument or more like a pitchfork? Crap, I knew I should've sprung for delivery confirmation.

Barry: It might have went to my P.O. box. They can't accept large packages. Can I fill it out up here?

St. Peter: [grunts] Well, move to the side so that I can get some more people through.

[Barry takes a pen attached to the lectern by a rubber band and madly starts scribbling on the form. In the meantime an emaciated young African girl hands St. Peter a form and is waved through. She is followed by a jowled man in a business suit, who is pointed in the direction of a large trap door flanked by a large red lever and emanating sulphuric clouds. Muffled screams periodically leak out of the door.]

Barry: Alright, done. I wasn't sure what to put for line 64 because I haven't filed this year's taxes yet, so I just left it blank.

St. Peter: [squints at sheet] Hmm, so you're a rug salemsan from Plainsboro? Well at least if you get the trap door it won't be a major step down.

Barry: Har, har. Listen, can we get down to business?

St. Peter: Sorry. Ok, well since you don't have all the forms with you I have to ask you a series of questions. Most of this stuff is pretty pro forma, but we gotta keep appearances you know.

Barry: Hey, I tried to get a tattoo in Massachusetts on a Sunday once, I understand what you mean.

St. Peter: Have you ever used performance enhancing drugs? This includes, but is not limited to, human growth hormone, winstrol, and androstenedione.

Barry: No..are you sure you have the right Barry? The last name is Lewis...

St. Peter: Look, buddy, I'm just reading off the sheet. If Mother Theresa was here, she'd get the same questions. Can I continue?

Barry: Yeah, let's get through this as quickly as we can though. I think I made the mistake of inhaling somehwere in the troposphere and I really need to use facilities.

St. Peter: Have you ever been convicted of crime or been held liable for damages in any of the civil torts covered under Table 3.A? [St. Peter mutters, pulls a giant tome out from under the lectern, and starts flipping through the pages] They really need to index these things.

[St. Peter continues to flip as a line starts forming behind Barry. "Come on!" shouts someone from the queue]

Barry: Look, I think I got a DUI and a few missed credit card payments. One time I ate at Chevy's and split before the bill arrived. Shouldn't that cover it?

St. Peter: [Ignoring him] I really should call the county about this one...

Barry: It's 5:03, no one's gonna be answering phones now in a public office. They work French hours. Besides, do I look like Eichmann here? Is my name Pol Pot? Can we move on?

[The crowd is practically in full rebellion now, and some begin to push their way down the escalator. Barry grabs his crotch and starts lightly jogging in place]

Barry: Look, how much more do we have left? I'm about two minutes away from renal failure here.

St. Peter: [to Barry] Wait a second. [To the crowd] Stop there, you can't go down that way! [He starts moving towards the jostling crowd. A wayward elbow sweeps his glasses off and he drops to his knees, groping]

Barry: Look, Pete, I'm going to head in and take a leak. I'll settle with you tomorrow. If you need some new lenses, I know a great guy in West Windsor who can get you a great deal.

[Barry pushes open the gate and jogs inside, grabbing his crotch. The crowd continues to surge down the escalator, except for a few people carrying homemade knives and wearing prison jumpsuits, who make a beeline for the pearly gates. A lawyer can be seen writing and crossing out in the leather-bound book. St. Peter is still groping around for his glasses.]