Death and Louise

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young girl gets hit by a bus and doesn't realize she's dead.

Submitted: July 09, 2010

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Submitted: July 09, 2010

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Death and Louise
 
 
SETTING:
A bus stop across the street from Aldgate East tube station in London’s new financial district—Whitechapel.
 
CHARACTERS:
Death. Male. Mid 30s. Cockney. Old soul. Jaded by the world. Doesn’t care or notice much.
 
Louise. Female. 20s. Posh Londoner. Inquisitive about the world around her. Hates poor grammar.
 
Kifa. Female. Late 50s. Sassy and feisty, but pretends to be wise. Looks down on humanity. Only person who can put Death in his place.
 
TIME:
2030 ad.
 


 
Scene One
(Two characters, Death and Louise, are sitting on a bench staring at something the audience can’t see. They are silent for a moment.)
 
Louise:
Does this happen a lot?
 
Death:
Does what happen a lot?
 
Louise:
This.
 
Death:
What?
 
Louise:
This. Car accidents.
 
Death:
In the history of the world? No, car accidents are pretty rare. Then again, cars were pretty rare until about 1900….and even then…
 
Louise:
Pretty rare? I think you mean nonexistent.
 
Death:
Tomahto, tomahto
 
Louise:
You mean tomato, tomahto?
 
Death:
Who the fuck says toe-may-toe?
 
Louise:
Lots of people?
 
Death:
Anyway, the ancient Chinese? Advanced as fuck.
 
Louise:
They had cars?
 
Death:
Cars? Shit, they had submarines.
 
Louise:
I didn’t know that.
 
Death:
Because they didn’t want you to know that.
 
Louise:
Who’s they?
 
Death:
…I don’t know.
 
(long pause)
 
Louise:
Who are you?
 
Death:
Oh, right, sorry—I’m Death.
 
(Death extends hand, but instead of shaking it, Louis just stares at it)
 
Louise:
What kind of name is that?
 
Death (putting his hand down):
The one my mom gave me…..it’s not much of a name really, so much as it is an adjective.
 
Louise:
It’s a noun.
 
Death:
What?
 
Louise:
Death. It’s a noun.
 
Death:
Fine, whatever. The point is, it describes me.
 
Louise:
How does it describe you?
 
(Death stares at Louise, unable to figure out if she’s taking the piss or not.)
 
Death:
So what brings you out here on this fine summer day?
 
Louise:
I just finished work and went to meet my boyfriend at the Brick Lane Beigel Bake. I was coming back to catch the bus home when…(she can’t remember)
 
Death:
The bus caught you?
 
Louise:
What?
 
Death:
Nothing. Go on.
 
Louise:
Well, I don’t really remember what happened after that. Bit of a blur really. But now I’m here, at my bus stop, chatting with you.
 
Death:
What bus are you waiting for?
 
Louise:
The 205.
 
Death:
Oh, me too. What’s your stop?
 
Louise:
Hampstead.
 
Death:
I didn’t know the 205 went to Hampstead.
 
Louise:
It doesn’t. I change at King’s Cross for the 46.
 
Death:
Oh. You know, I think the Hammersmith and City line goes to King’s Cross…why don’t you just take the tube?
 
Louise:
Why don’t you? I like the bus anyway. It’s nice to take a seat on the top deck and wind down after a long day. Don’t get that so much with the tube. Just a bunch of teenagers, tourists, and nasty old grannies. Not my cup of tea.
 
Death:
Cabs?
 
Louise:
Do I look like I’ve got 70 quid to my name, let alone on me? I’m a secretary for god’s sake. And on top of that, I spend my days hanging around people I don’t particularly like, talking to people I don’t know. In cabs it’s awkward when you don’t talk, especially when I don’t want to talk to anyone.
 
Death:
So why are you talking to me? You don’t know me.
 
Louise:
Haven’t the slightest why. ‘Spose it’s because I could walk away at any moment. This isn’t a confined space like a cab is.
 
Death:
That’s true. I get you mad and you’re got the whole wide world to walk through.
 
Louise:
Yep. (Beat. Louise stares intently at the accident in front of them.) This accident really is taking a long time to clean up.
 
Death:
Looks like someone got hit.
 
Louise:
How horrible.
 
Death:
Of course it’s horrible. Someone got hit by a bus. That’s going to do a lot of damage.
 
Louise:
Do you think they’re okay?
 
Death:
You ever known anyone who got hit by a bus and was okay?
 
Louise:
I’ve never known anyone who got hit by a bus in the first place.
 
Death:
I have.
 
Louise:
That’s not surprising, what with you being Death and all. You reap souls for a living.
 
Death:
I do.
 
Louise:
Are you going to reap that person’s soul?
 
Death:
I have.
 
Louise:
So then why are you--? (Realization overcomes her. A siren is heard in the background.) So I’m dead and you’re here to reap my soul….why didn’t you say something?
 
Death:
Ah, here comes the ambulance. Taking your body to the Royal London, no doubt. You know, it speaks volumes about the state of our country that an ambulance dispatched from a hospital roughly 500 meters from here takes over 5 minutes to arrive. Not like it would have helped you though, since you died about .001 milliseconds before impact.
 
Louise:
You killed me? It wasn’t the bus? It was you?
 
Death:
Well, technically yes, but—
 
Louise:
You fucking cow! (standing up and smacking Death repeatedly) Why did you fucking kill me? Why the hell would you do that?
 
Death:
Ow! (stands up, grabs Louise’s hands to stop her from hitting him.)Will you stop bloody hitting me? It’s not like it’s going to make you any less dead! And it bloody fucking hurts! People always think “oh, you’re death, you don’t have any emotions, you can’t feel pain.” You know some fucker tore my arm off once? Ripped it right off and started smacking me with it. There we were, having a nice curry and he loses it. Got blood all over my biryani. (they sit down) And I love biryani. Public relations nightmare, let me tell you. The big guy upstairs had all his little minions down here working double time, making sure humans forgot they saw something invisible rip my arm off and hit me with it.
 
Louise:
Invisible?
 
Death:
It’s what I was trying to tell you, love before you so rudely interrupted me: things are different now that you’re dead. I mean, aside from the whole ‘you’re dead’ thing. You need to know come things before you can…move on.
 
Louise:
Move on?
 
Death:
Don’t worry, I’ll get to that. First, about this me killing you business. Yes, I killed you. No, no one will know that. Everyone who dies in some horrible accident dies just a millisecond early. Doctors for some reason think it’s the body going into shock before being killed by impact. It’s a load of bollocks, but I’m not going to correct them. We all consider it a sort of act of mercy or whatever. Back in the day we didn’t do that. Now we’ve got a lot of pissed off dinosaurs up in heaven. Literally, they’re fucking dinosaurs.
 
Louise:
Dinosaurs? There’s animals in heaven?
 
Death:
First of all, dinosaurs are reptiles—not animals. Second of all, yes there are animals in heaven. Why bloody hell wouldn’t there be?
 
Louise:
You just always hear about animals not having souls….
 
Death:
Load of bollocks. Everything has a soul.
 
Louise:
Everything?
 
Death:
Why the fuck do humans think they’re so much more special than other animals? That humans on a pedestal shit is so ridiculous. Congratulations, you guys haven’t figured out how minds of other animals work and you have opposable thumbs. You do realize that no other species has ever invented anything as deadly as the nuclear bomb, right?
 
Louise:
Okay, I get it. Humans aren’t better than anyone. But you must be awful busy, right?
 
Death:
I am, but it’s not like I’m the only reaper in the world. There are literally millions of reapers in the world. Billions, probably. Every species has millions of reapers within it.
 
Louise:
Oh.
 
Death:
Anyway, now that I’ve got your soul taken, we have to chill until your entire body has been taken away. Can I just say, you were lucky you died in one piece. Some of the more gruesome ones…well, they take a bit longer to you know, piece together….Right, so when the ambulance takes your body away, I take you away to wherever we have to move on to. As for being seen, humans see me, it’s a perk of the job, but they can’t see you. I mean, if you saw someone’s dead body and then looked up and saw the same person standing 5 feet away looking totally fine? That’s shit even therapy won’t fix. So as of now, you can’t touch anything, feel anything, pick up anything, etc. unless I hand it to you first. Your turn to make an imprint on earth is over. Now that you’ve reached the end of this world and your day of judgment is upon you (Louise opens her mouth to say something, but Death sees her) No, it’s not the apocalypse, though for you it might as well be. Now, do you mind? I’ve got a lot to get through. (Pause, waits for Louise to allow him to go on) Good. As I was saying, judgment is upon you. Well, almost. Soonish. Like, in the next few hours or days or something. We’ve got some business to take care of first. You and me, we were assigned to work together for a reason. Just like it’s fate that you would die today—it really is, don’t argue with me—it is fate that I should be your reaper. (Louise opens her mouth to speak)
Moving on, from here on out it’s essential that we be completely 100% honest with each other at all times. By the time we’re done, I need you to want to go to the afterlife and to have come clean to me about everything you’re having trouble letting go of on earth. So you see where the need for open communication lies? I need to be able to trust that you’re telling me the truth to I can do my job and you need to trust that I’m telling the truth so that you can move on to the next world. Souls that don’t move on—that’s where ghosts come from.
 
Louise:
Ghosts?
 
Death:
Yes. People so attached to their earthly things, things ultimately worthless in the spirit world, that they gave up an eternity in whatever afterlife awaits them to keep those things. Trust me, that’s not something that should be given up so lightly. I know you haven’t been there, but heaven? It’s a pretty sweet place. I can’t tell you exactly what it’s like though, since it kind of surpasses all expectations. It’s so great, there’s not actually a word for it in any language. The Sami of Finland probably had it the closest, but that’s irrelevant. So like I said, it’s fate that you and I were put together. We were matched because it’s meant to be, so that in the long run we can be happy forever. You’ll get eternal happiness in your heaven or eternal damnation in your hell, I’m not here to pass judgment on your life, just help you detach from it. When you get detached from your life, I get to leave your case behind. That’s where my happiness comes in, because I’m up for tenure and if you haven’t already guessed it, I’m not a huge people person…reaper…whatever. The point is I don’t like people. So I have to do a great job getting them to move on or I don’t get tenure. Specifically, I have to do a great job of making you move on. That means I have to be thorough yes, but also quick and I can’t finish with your case until you’re happily in your afterlife.
 
Louise:
Tenure? You won’t be able to get fired?
 
Death:
If you want to dumb it down, yes.
 
Louise:
So if I make this hard for you—
 
Death:
Before you decide to do that, keep in mind I'm still death. I can still travel with ease between realms and you’d be surprised the amount of sway I have in hell.
 
Louise:
Why you?
 
Death:
Lucy owes me a favor.
 
Louise:
Lucy? You mean Lucifer? The devil owes you a favor?
 
Death:
Yeah. Did a bit of reaping for him back in the sixties. He was getting a lot of overflow, what with everyone selling their souls for pot or whatever. Long story short, his business ended up sorted, and I ended up in rehab with a nasty cocaine habit.
 
Louise:
But how can you expect him to stick to it? He’s the devil! He’s evil!
 
Death:
No, Lawyers are evil. Lucy’s a businessman.
 
Louise:
Aren’t businessmen evil too?
 
Death:
You’ll probably find out soon enough.
 
Louise:
I’m going to hell?
 
Death:
Well, if I get any say in it. Can we please move on now?
 
Louise:
I guess.
 
Death:
Good. Like I was saying, it’ll be hard for you. You may not know what all you’re attached to on earth. But that’s okay, because that’s why I’m here. I’m your guide to the afterlife, in a sense. Like the Divine Comedies, but less…hell-ish…. (beat) You can talk. I’m done now.
 
Louise:
Finally. So what do we do now?
 
Death (handing Louise a sheet of paper and a pencil):
Figure out what you love the most.
 
SCENE TWO
(Louise is now laying on the bench, Death leans against the side of the shelter. Louise has a sheet of paper in front of her, which she is staring perplexedly at. Death pays no attention to her.)
 
Louise:
How the fuck do I know who I’ll miss this most?
 
Death:
I don’t know. Never really had to deal with that sort of thing. Can’t really die when you’re already dead you know…or undead as the case may be.
 
Louise:
…undead?
 
Death:
Ignore that.
 
Louise:
Undead?
 
Death:
For a dead broad you sure do talk a lot.
 
Louise (offended):
Pardon?
 
Death:
Never mind. You want to get the fuck out of here or not? Now get back to your list.
 
(Louise stares for a moment at her paper, then gives up)
 
Louise (sitting up):
This is fucking useless.
 
Death:
You seriously can’t think of a single thing in your life that you’re going to miss?
 
Louise:
Nope.
 
Death (sitting down by Louise):
What about your mum?
 
Louise:
Haven’t spoken to my mum in 3 years, not particularly looking to start now. She’s a batty old cow, really.
 
Death:
Your dad?
 
Louise:
Dead.
 
Death:
Oh yeah, think I might have reaped him actually.
 
Louise:
Seriously?
 
Death:
Yeah. Stay in the business long enough and you get lots of family members. Can you believe I got both Abe and Mary Todd?
 
Louise:
….Lincoln? You reaped the Lincolns? How the fuck old are you?
 
Death:
Enough. Now back to list. What about the rest of your family?
 
Louise:
I don’t have any siblings, my grandparents are long gone, was never particularly close to my cousins or aunties or uncles.
 
Death:
Any friends?
 
Louise:
Aside from Lewis?
 
Death:
Yeah.
 
Louise:
Do I seem like the sort with lots of good friends?
 
(Death looks her up and down for a second)
 
Death:
Guess not.
 
Louise:
Besides, once I started dating Lewis, most of the just kind of left me behind or whatever. That’s life, I guess.
 
(they sit there puzzled for a moment)
 
Death:
What about Lewis? He’s your fiancé right? Surely you at least love him. (Silence) You don’t love him?
 
Louise (choosing her words cautiously):
Lewis was my high school sweetheart. We dated from year 10 and up. We even went to university together. My parents loved him. But you know, I never even kissed another guy? He was a great guy. I had our future all planned out. Two kids, a car, a house in the suburbs, all that ridiculous crap. I thought I loved him. I did love him, but then we graduated and got jobs at separate places…I’ll miss him. I will, please don’t think I won’t, but people fall out of love, it’s not uncommon. I’ve been ready to let go of him for a while.
 
Death:
Well shit, that’s depressing. And completely inconvenient. Significant others are usually shoe-ins for this sort of thing….
 
(Kifa enters and, without looking at Louise, sits by Death. Louise stares openly at her but Death ignores her. There are a few moments of silence.)
 
Kifa: (gesturing toward accident)
What happened over here?
 
Death:
Someone got hit by a bus.
 
Kifa:
Shame. Such a lovely day too. Much too lovely to get hit by a bus.
 
Louise:
It’s not like I planned to get hit by a bus, you know.
 
Death: (Not reacting to Louise)
Really is.
 
Kifa:
Any idea who it was?
 
Death:
Some really obnoxious girl.
 
Kifa:
Oh, did you see it?
 
Death:
No, I’m just guessing.
 
Louise:
You’re a dick, you know that?
 
Death:
Bet she really had it coming though. People don’t just randomly get hit by buses. Karma, you know.
 
Louise (smacking Death):
What?
 
Kifa:
That’s awfully rude.
 
Death:
Not really.
 
Kifa:
No, it really is. I bet the dear had lots of family who loved her, who miss her.
 
Death:
You think?
 
Kifa:
Sure. I mean, the girl must have a mama right? Could you imagine losing a child? I’ve got three boys at home and the idea of losing any of them….
 
Louise:
Wouldn’t my mum missing me imply she liked me in the first place?
 
Death:
Something tells me her mum won’t miss her much.
 
Kifa:
Well, what about her dad? You don’t know, maybe she was a daddy’s girl.
 
Louise:
The only time I’ve ever been close to my dad was the time I had a picnic on his grave.
 
Death:
You had a picnic on your dad’s grave?
 
Kifa:
Excuse me?
 
Death:
Oh, never mind. Ignore that.
 
Louise:
Of course I did. Only place my mum would never think to find me.
 
Death:
God, you are all kinds of crazy.
 
Kifa:
What did you say?
 
Death:
Sorry, talking to myself.
 
Kifa:
I should say so.
 
Death:
Anyway, what were you saying? About people missing her or something?
 
Kifa:
I was just saying that surely there is someone who will miss her. Friends, family, someone. Maybe she had a boyfriend? A best friend?
 
Death:
Probably not.
 
Kifa:
Really?
 
Death:
Something’s telling me she wasn’t the most loveable sort. (Louise hits him) Ow! (to Kifa, who is staring curiously) It’s nothing. Must’ve pulled a muscle or something.
 
Louise:
Quit insulting me! It’s not helping!
 
Kifa:
Really, it’s not nice to say such things about someone you didn’t know. And about a dead girl of all people.
 
Death:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that people don’t deserve respect just because they’re dead. It’s not like dying is some huge accomplishment. If anything it’s a pretty massive fail.
 
Kifa:
Literally hundreds of cultures worship their dead ancestors. You aren’t suggesting they’re all wrong?
 
Death:
Not really wrong so much as misinformed.
 
Kifa:
Because there’s such a huge difference?
 
Death:
There really is.
 
Kifa:
Well what pray tell is it?
 
Louise:
Excuse me? Can we please get back to the problem at hand? I’d like to get out of here, please.
 
Death:
Fine.
 
Kifa:
What was that?
 
Death:
Fine. You’re right. I give up.
 
Kifa:
Thank you.
 
(a pause)
 
Death:
So what would you miss the most if you died?
 
Kifa:
Why do you ask?
 
Death:
I was just thinking. I mean, we always worry about people who miss the dead, but who concerns themselves with the dead who will miss people?
 
Kifa:
The dead who will miss people?
 
Death:
Well, you said it yourself: hundreds of cultures worship the dead. If they worship the dead than doesn’t that imply they think the dead are somehow cognizant beyond the grave?
 
Kifa:
I suppose.
 
Death:
And if someone is cognizant beyond the grave, than surely there must be something from their life that they’ll miss, right?
 
Kifa:
Okay.
 
Death:
So, if you were to die, what would you miss the most?
 
Kifa:
My boys.
 
Death:
Yeah, we covered that, try again.
 
(Kifa stares at him, confused)
 
Kifa:
You asked what I would miss—
 
Death:
Yeah, but I meant stuff we haven’t talked about yet.
 
Kifa:
We haven’t talked about yet?
 
Death:
Yeah, like your mum, dad, sons, whatever. What else would you miss?
 
Kifa:
My home, I guess.
 
(Louise looks at Kifa. Death notices.)
 
Death:
Like, your house?
 
Kifa:
No. I’m Somalian. I’d miss Somalia the most. If I could never go back there….well, I’d miss that.
 
Death:
So you’d miss the place you love most on earth.
 
Kifa:
Yes. I would.
 
(Death looks at Louise.)
 
Death (whispering):
Anything?
 
Louise:


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