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Odd Bowl of Chicken Soup
[Angie, Tyler and John are sitting by the dining table. Margo lightly taps her spoon against the edge of her bowl]
MARGO: Hey dad...the soup is kind of odd today?
[Margo spits out piece of meat from mouth onto a napkin. John raises one eyebrow and slowly puts a spoon of soup into his mouth while talking]
JOHN: What’s wrong? It tastes exactly like your mom’s soup. (pause) Even better actually.
[Margo rolls her eyes]
MARGO: Maybe you missed something from the recipe…
[Tyler rushes putting soup into his mouth with a disgusted face]
TYLER: Mmmm…. This chicken soup is amazing!
MARGO: You’re only saying that because you want dad to “unground” you.
[Tyler kicks Margo’s right foot under the table]
JOHN: Anyways...your mother’s working her late shift again.
[John brushes through his hair and looks down]
TYLER: Really? Again?
MARGO: Mom told us that she isn’t working the late shift anymore because she wants to spend more time with us.
JOHN: Yes, but you know how our financial situation is going.
[Margo wipes her mouth with napkin]
JOHN: You’re done eating already?
MARGO: Yes, dad. (pause) It’s horrible. It’s sooo bland and oddly chewy for chicken. Tastes more like pork.
JOHN: Maybe I forgot to season. I’ll grab some spices from the cabinet.
[John gets up from his chair and is about to walk away. Margo grabs John’s right wrist]
MARGO: No, please! I don’t want to eat this. The color is off and it smells horrible, seasoning won’t do anything!
[Tyler takes final sip of soup]
TYLER: Look I ate your delicious soup, can I play now? Please! (no response)
JOHN: Just f***ing eat it! You're not going to snack on junk food after. Almost all week you haven’t gotten a real, nutritious dinner!
MARGO: Well, maybe if you didn’t buy cheap chicken that tastes like dog food from the grocery, I would be able to eat it!
[Margo tosses spoon across the table toward John. Tyler looks down at his lap. John gulps loudly and stares directly at Margo]
JOHN: You know that’s the only thing we can afford.
MARGO: It’s the only thing YOU can afford because you don’t have a decent f***ing job unlike mom!
[John bangs dinner table with right hand. John bows head and clenches forehead, quietly mumbling. Tyler stands up and grabs soup bowl]
JOHN: It’s your mother’s MEAT.
[Tyler drops soup bowl and the bowl shatters]
MARGO: What? What are you TALKING about?
[Tyler giggles and nudges Margo’s arm]
TYLER: Dad’s just kidding, right dad?
[John stands up and looks down]
JOHN: No….I’m not. Come here guys, closer.
[Margo and Tyler step away from John. Margo raises her arms halfway]
JOHN: Come on, let’s hug! I need some emotional support. Your mother was an amazing person but--
[Tyler runs into the kitchen and vomits into a trashcan in]
MARGO: Get the f**k away! But what?!
JOHN: You know we’re in debt because of her. She was the one that bought this expensive house. We really need to sell it, we already paid half of our mortgage. You know she would never be willing to sell it.
[Margo’s face turns red and clenches her fist. Tyler weeps loudly. Margo wraps her arm around Tyler and strokes his hair.]
MARGO: You are sick! How could you…
JOHN: When we sell this house, we will have so much money! I won’t even have to work!
MARGO: That won’t be enough money for the rest of our lives! Especially for all of us! Look, dad tell me the actual reason. I know it wouldn’t just be over this!
[John looks up and his eyes get watery]
JOHN: I’m….I’m....I’m a cannibal. A cannibal.
[Margo looks away]
MARGO: Oh my….
TYLER: We need to call the police!
[John stomps his right foot and points his right hand at Tyler]
JOHN: No no no. No, you aren't. Right now it appears that your mother was murdered by anyone but me! You don’t want your father to go to jail…. come on.
[John calmly picks up soup bowls and places them slowly into the sink]
MARGO: We? We! (pause) No no no, this is all YOU!
JOHN: No relative would adopt you guys, you can’t live without me!
[Margo takes a deep breath]
MARGO: Have… have you killed some (pause) someone else?
[John’s eyes widen and touches the wedding ring on his ring finger]
[Tyler shrieks and runs upstairs]
MARGO: Where are they…. the other (pause) dead bodies?
JOHN: They are buried in the backyard. Most of the flesh is gone, it’s just bones. Please don’t dig them out, it’s pointless. I covered the dirt patches with our grill and old kiddie pool.
MARGO: You ate THEM too?
JOHN: Yes, I told you that I’m a cannibal. I’ve fantasized to eat human flesh for years.
MARGO: Dad! (pause) How could YOU!?
[Tyler stares down from the top of the stairs]
TYLER: I called the police! We are going to be okay!
[John slams hand on the dining room table]
JOHN: WHAT! I trusted YOU guys!
[Margo and Tyler look at each other and gasp. John pulls Margo’s hair and shoulder towards him]
Margo pulls away fast. Margo runs to the top of the stairs. Margo and Tyler bolt into Tyler’s room and lock the door. John grabs a knife from the kitchen drawer. John gets up the stairs and bangs on the door multiple times]
JOHN: Come on guys, can’t we work this out?
[Margo and Tyler sit down on the floor together and huddle]
TYLER: Leave us alone!
[John kicks door multiple times. Margo and Tyler stand up. Margo opens Tyler’s bedroom window. Margo slightly budges Tyler.]
MARGO: Jump. You can do this Tyler. WE will get through this.
TYLER: But, I’m scared! I don’t want to get hurt!
MARGO: It’s better than being here. I believe in you.
[Tyler jumps out of the window onto their garden shed. John busts open the door]
JOHN: Come here, sweetie.
[John lends out left hand while tightening the grip of his knife on his right hand]
MARGO: NO! GET AWAY!
[John throws knife at Margo and misses. Margo jumps out of window]
[Margo gets down from garden shed and looks down for Tyler. Tyler rapidly waves and jumps. Margo and Tyler smile]
TYLER: They’re here! They’re here!
[Margo turns to the flash of police sirens. Tears fall down Margo’s cheeks. Tyler wipes Margo’s tears with his sweater. Margo hugs Tyler firmly]
TYLER: You know I was lying… right? That was a disgusting bowl of chicken soup!
MARGO: (pause) I know.
[Margo and Tyler laugh]
Winterville, North Carolina
Old Tappan, New Jersey
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