A one-act play in surreal despair
Scene: The Lincoln bedroom in the White House. The president and his wife, Mary, are lying in bed, their faces dimly illuminated by the flickering oil lamps on the rosewood nightstands crafted by his father, a cabinetmaker. Abraham looks profoundly demoralized, and curiously, is wearing his trademark tophat and one shoe. Mary’s arm is resting on his chest, and the worry lines on her face indicate she’s concerned about her famously morose husband’s state of mind.
Mary, whispering: Abe, where’s your other shoe?
Abe, sighing heavily: I don’t know. I lost it.
Mary: And you didn’t try to find it?
Abe: No. I’m really bummed out, Mary.
Mary: Is it this awful Civil War?
Abe: God no. We’ll have the war won in a month or two. There’ll be some rough years ahead as the nation mends, but America won’t be this ineffective and bitterly divided again until President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner are in office.
Mary: Who’s Boehner?
Abe, shaking his head: I’m not sure. I think he must a own a spray-tanning salon, though. Either that, or Republicans are orange in the future. Wouldn’t surprise me. We are the party of morons. I’ve no idea how I got elected.
Mary: So if it’s not the war that’s got you down, why are you so blue?
Abe: I crave a decent blintz.
Mary: A what?
Abe: A blintz. Like a crêpe, filled with sweet cheese or sour cream. Jewish confection. I used to treat myself to them at little delicatessen near the statehouse in Illinois whenever the arguing over slavery harshed my mellow. It was like taking lithium salts in a pastry. Delicious, and I can’t stop thinking about them. But I can’t find them here in D.C. Do you know where I can get a decent blintz?
Mary, her brow furrowed: Aren’t we going to be a Ford’s Theater to see a play tomorrow night?
Abe, his voice tinged with frustration: Yes. What’s that got to do with it? I just hope we’re not seeing Phantom of the Opera. I hate musicals. Nobody sings their way through life. And if it’s Momma Mia!, just shoot me on the spot.
Mary, sitting up and playfully slapping his hollowed cheek: Oh, Abe, don’t be such a Gloomy Gus. We’re seeing a comedy — Our American Cousin. And I for one can’t wait to hear that scamp Harry Hawk utter the riotous line to Mrs. Mountchessington, “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap.” We’ll laugh so hard people’s faces will be falling off well into the second millennium.
Abe, sighing heavily: Yeah, sure. Haha. But no blintz.
Mary, smiling: No, no, that’s the best part! There’s a little delicatessen just around the corner from the theater. Saul’s Deli. I’ll send a messenger and tell them to expect the president and his wife for blintzes and apéritifs after the show.
Closing: The lights fade until only the president’s face can be seen, smiling happily for once. And then the stage goes completely black as the curtain drops.
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