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"Don't Choke" (a short comedy) by George Freek

Updated: Apr 3, 2022



THE CHARACTERS



LORRIE MANION, in her 20s


PETER WOOD, Her boy friend, 20s


CAPTAIN SVEN JOHANSSON, An old suitor of Christine’s, 50s


CHRISTINE MANION, Lorraine’s mother, 50s



THE SCENE



The Manion living room



THE TIME



Recently



(The Manion’s living room: entrance door on the left. There is a portrait of a stern-looking man in a dark suit, hanging on the back wall. At rise, PETER looks uneasy as LORRIE places a stethoscope on him)



PETER

Where did you get that?


LORRIE

I found it in a nurse’s kit I had when I was a kid.


PETER

(Very uneasy) Lorrie, I don’t know about this.


LORRIE

You’ll look more authoritative.


PETER

But I’ll feel ridiculous.


LORRIE

Wear it!


PETER

But how can I look authoritative when I feel like an idiot?


LORRIE

All right, fine, Peter. I don’t need your help.


PETER

You don’t? Then what am I doing, playing doctor for you?


LORRIE

I thought you were volunteering to help me rid mother of that troublesome Captain Johannson, but apparently I was mistaken.


PETER

I’m not sure volunteer is the right word.


LORRIE

Okay, then go away! And don’t bother to come back.


PETER

Now hold on a minute, Lorrie—


LORRIE

I don’t have a minute. I got mother out of the house and I expect Captain Johannson any second now, so if you won’t help, get out!


PETER

(Weakening) But do you really think he’ll believe I’m a doctor.


LORRIE

I wouldn’t say he was the brightest captain in the fleet, Peter. Of course he’ll believe it, and furthermore, do you think I’d ask your help if I didn’t think you could do it?


PETER

And you want me to tell him your mother is crazy?


LORRIE

Not crazy, for heaven’s sake! Look, Peter, my father was a wonderful man. Just tell this Captain that mother is still in love with him. You could say she has a mania about him.


PETER

(Looks at the painting, shivers slightly) I can believe that.


LORRIE

(Sharply) What does that mean?


PETER

Even though he’s been dead for two years, he sort of makes his presence felt, doesn’t he?


LORRIE

(Nodding, somewhat misty-eyed) You’re so right. That’s the sort of man he was.


PETER

But are you sure your mother wants to get rid of this Captain Johannson?


LORRIE

Of course she does! She’s just stringing the poor buffoon along because she’s too kind to tell him to get lost. I’m simply helping her out. Now are you going to help me do it? Because if you’re not, then I have to—


PETER

All right, all right, if you really think I can play the part.


LORRIE

(Cajoling) Of course you can. You look wonderful as a doctor. And Peter, I can’t tell you how grateful I am about this. (She kisses him on the cheek).


PETER

(Tries to grab her) Can’t you be a little more grateful than that?


LORRIE

No, not right now I can’t—


PETER

Listen Lorrie, there’s something I want to say to you—


LORRIE

Peter, I’m not in the mood to listen to another one of your ultimatums.


PETER

You’re not?


LORRIE

We don’t have time for any foolishness!


PETER

Foolishness! Now hold on, Lorraine Manion! You could at least hear me out. It’s been quite a while since I gave you my last ultimatum. And I’m warning you this will absolutely be the very last one. I’ve been darned patient, but everyone has his limit and I’ve reached mine! So we set a date for our wedding, or else we just call the whole thing off, and I think that’s fair!


LORRIE

I agree.


PETER

You do?


LORRIE

Yes. So I think we’d better call it off.


PETER

Huh?


LORRIE

Peter, I cannot marry you until I know mother has gotten rid of this Captain Johansson. And I don’t think it’s fair to string you along any longer.


PETER

But look, if you think getting rid of this Captain Johansson will help, I take back that final ultimatum.


LORRIE

No. The situation isn’t fair to you.


PETER

Who says it isn’t?


LORRIE

I just said it.


PETER

For Pete’s sake, Lorrie, it would be pretty insensitive of me to leave you high and dry at a time like this! What kind of person do you think I am?


LORRIE

Well—I think you’re awfully kind to be helping me.


PETER

Oh heck, that’s nothing.


LORRIE

(Playing with the stethoscope) I sure won’t forget it.


PETER

Can I count on that? (He tries to embrace her).



LORRIE

(Employing the stethoscope to hold him off, she drops it) Oops.



(Then there is a knock at the door. PETER bends for the stethoscope)



LORRIE

That must be Captain Johansson now!


PETER

I’m already annoyed with him! (He sits).


LORRIE

(Letting him in) Hello Captain Johansson, please come in.


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

(Nervous) Hello, Miss Lorrie. Vhy you ask me to come over? Is something wrong vith your mudder?


LORRIE

Captain, I’d like you to meet Dr. Riggerman. He has something to tell us. I think you’d better sit down. (They both sit down. LORRIE looks with irritation at PETER, who immediately stands again).


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

(To PETER, very nervous) Doctor? Vhat is it you got to tell me, doctor?


PETER

(He hems and haws) Um—this is not easy to say, Captain.


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

I ain’t heard you say nuttingk yet.


LORRIE

(Losing patience) Captain, mother has been under Dr. Riggerman’s care.


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

(Alarmed) Then there is something wrong vith Christy?


PETER

(Hems and haws once more) You could put it that way, Captain.


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

Okay, but how vould you put it?

LORRIE

For heaven’s sake, Peter! I mean Dr. Riggerman! Why don’t you get to the point?


PETER

Yes, I should do that. And I will. I will get right to it. I mean I will get to the point, that is--


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

Vell now, you know maybe I yust got it figgered out for myself—


LORRIE

What do you have figured out?


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

Vell, I’m thinkingk it has to do vith your fadder. You see, I vas in love vith your mudder, and I figgered she and me vould be married, but I had no right to ask her vhen I was yust a poor sailor boy, and your fader he was a rich and respected fella. But I vork hard and finally I made it to Captain, but by dat time, your mudder had already married your fadder. (He shrugs) So it was pack to the sea for me, until I heard dat your fadder dropped dead.


LORRIE

It was a terrible shock to us all, Captain, but mainly to my mudder—I mean my mother. She was so much in love with him. So now maybe you see what’s upsetting her. Isn’t that right, Dr. Riggerman? (She gives a sneak kick in the shin to PETER, who has been listening to CAPTAIN JOHANSSON rather open-mouthed).


PETER

Ouch—I mean, yes it is. (They wait for him to continue, but he doesn’t).


LORRIE

I think what he wants to tell you, Captain, is that mother is so distressed seeing someone from her past that it makes her even more unhappy. You can understand that.


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

(He shakes his head sadly) Yah. And I tink you’re telling me to get lost.


PETER

That’s putting it a little harshly, Captain. (Another sly kick from LORRIE)

But that’s about the gist of it.

CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

Vell, I’d do anytink for Christy, Miss Lorrie. But if she ever needs anyting, vell den you tell her—(He blows his nose, perhaps to hide his feelings).


PETER

(Affected) I think she just needs peace and quiet for a while, Captain.


LORRIE

Do you mean a long while, Doctor? (Another kick at PETER, who suddenly moves, so she falls from her chair)



(But at that moment, CHRISTINE MANION enters with a large package)



CHRISTINE

(Smiling cheerfully) Why Sven? What are you all up to?


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

Hello, Christy. Now I tink I better be goingk. Goodbye, Christy.


CHRISTINE

Oh no, you don’t! I’m glad you’re here because I have something very important to tell you.


LORRIE

(She smiles at CHRISTINE) We’ve already told him mother.


CHRISTINE

You told him?


PETER

That’s right, Mrs Manion. Um, Lorrie told me—


LORRIE

Yes, mother. We’ve already told Captain Johansson how upset you are about father’s death.


CHRISTINE

But how could you know what I’ve really been feeling is guilt—about the fact that I’ve been in mourning for a man I only married for his money. That was terribly wrong.


LORRIE

What?


CHRISTINE

I know you worshipped your father, Lorrie.


LORRIE

Didn’t you?


CHRISTINE

Let’s just say whatever I felt I’ve gotten over it.


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

You haf? Poy, dat vas qvick!


CHRISTINE

And the first thing I want to do now is get rid of that morbid painting! (She tears open the package she’s holding. It’s a painting of a ship at sea).


CAPTAIN JOHANSSON

Py Golly, Christy! Dat looks like my ship ‘The Mermaid’.


CHRISTINE

That’s right. And now Sven my answer to your question is yes. I’m ready to marry you whenever you like.


LORRIE

What? Marry? Peter, this is your fault! You’re a rotten actor! (She bolts, choking back her bile).


PETER

(He looks at CAPTAIN JOHANSSON and CHRISTINE) Er, congratulations. (Then he runs after LORRIE). Darn it, Lorrie, wait a minute—


CHRISTINE

(Shakes her head) I’m afraid that girl has a lot of her father in her. (She and the CAPTAIN look at each other. A BLACKOUT and)


THE PLAY IS OVER



George Freek has been playwright-in-residence at The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre; Southern Methodist University; Southern Illinois University; and Eastern Illinois University. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc; Blue Moon Plays; and Lazy Bee Scripts (UK)





















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