Melanie Kiehl | Ten Minutes

CHARACTERS

REAPER (gender nonspecific)

NATE MCNATTA (male)

Lights up on the REAPER looking at a clipboard.  REAPER is dressed all in black and

standing in the living room of NATE MCNATTA’s house.  NATE is lying on the floor,

unconscious.

REAPER: (reads off clipboard) Next on the list, Nathan McNatta, thirty-nine years old, single,

cause of death: heart attack.

 

(NATE wakes up and looks around.  Upon seeing the REAPER, he jumps up.)

 

NATE:  (Demanding) Who are you and what are you doing in my house?

 

REAPER:  Nathan McNatta?

 

NATE:  Wha . . . How did you know my name?

 

REAPER:  (bored) So sorry to inform you, but you just had a heart attack.

 

NATE:  Yeah, real funny, pal.  Now get out.  I’m calling the cops.

 

REAPER:  Mr. McNatta, you can’t call the cops.  You’re dead.

 

NATE:  (clearly shaken) No seriously, get out.

 

REAPER:  Mr. McNatta—

 

(NATE goes to the phone, but can’t pick it up)

 

NATE:  What . . .

 

REAPER:  I told you, you’re dead.

 

NATE:  (to himself) Why can’t I pick it up?

 

REAPER:  (deadpan) Well, generally speaking, dead people can’t pick up random

objects . . . You’re non-corporeal.

 

NATE:  Who the hell are you?

 

REAPER:  I’m your Reaper.

 

NATE:  My . . . my what?

 

REAPER:  Your Reaper.  (bluntly)  I’m here to collect your soul.

 

NATE:  Collect my . . . Oh hell no!

 

REAPER:  Well, somebody’s gotta do it.

 

NATE:  There will be no soul collecting here!  (starts pacing) I can’t believe this . . .

 

REAPER:  (looks at watch) Look, can you just hurry up and accept your death?  I’m

running behind and I’d really like to get home by ten.

 

NATE:  Hurry up and accept my . . .  What, is my death not important enough for you?  You

got plans or something?

 

REAPER:  Well actually I’ve got a date tonight and I—

 

NATE:  None of this makes sense!

 

REAPER:  Look, I’m like . . . a mailman for dead people.  I pick you up from wherever you are

and deliver you to somewhere that needs you more.

 

NATE:  I can’t be dead!

 

REAPER:  Everybody’s gotta go sometime.

 

NATE:  But I don’t have time to die!  I’ve got . . . important . . . stuff and . . . things to do.

 

REAPER:  What kind of stuff and things?

 

NATE:  Why would I tell you?

 

REAPER:  Who am I going to tell?

 

NATE:  Who are you going to . . . That’s not the point!  You’re here to kill me!  I’m not telling

you anything!

 

REAPER:  I’m not here to kill you.  I’m here to collect your soul.

 

NATE: (beat) Is there really that much of a difference?

 

REAPER: . . . well you were dead when I got here, so . . .

 

NATE:  Oh, well then, that’s fine!

 

REAPER: . . . Are you being sarcastic?

 

NATE:  Of course I’m being sarcastic!  God, this can’t be happening . . .

 

REAPER:  (trying to be sympathetic) Are you upset about your stuff and things?

 

(Beat.  REAPER glances at watch again.)

 

NATE:  Really?  Do you think you could be a little more considerate?

 

REAPER:  Well, I asked you about your stuff and things!  What else do you want me to do?

 

NATE:  How about not kill me?

 

REAPER:  I told you, you’re already dead.  Not my fault or my problem.

 

NATE:  If I’m not your problem, why are you here?

 

REAPER: (exasperated)  You either come with me or you don’t.  I don’t have to stick around

forever, you know.

 

NATE: . . . Well, what happens to me if you leave?

 

REAPER:  You stay.  Forever.  I’ve been assured it gets really boring.

 

NATE:  And if I go?

 

REAPER:  Can’t say.  Sorry.

 

NATE:  Why not?

 

REAPER:  How am I supposed to know where you’ll end up?

 

NATE:  Aren’t you supposed to be taking me there?

 

REAPER:  Nope, I just take you to the people who decide where you go.

 

NATE: Oh . . .

 

REAPER:  Like I said: mailman.

 

NATE: . . . So can you at least tell me why I had a heart attack?

 

REAPER:  Eh, probably stress.  That’s what you get for being a lawyer.  (shuffling

through papers on clipboard)  But if it’s any consolation, your childhood rival, Eddy

Thompson, gets hit by a bus next week.

 

NATE:  (incredulous)  That paper tells you who my childhood rival is but not why I had a heart

attack?

 

REAPER: (shrugs) Doesn’t it make you feel better?

 

NATE:  No! Why would that make me feel better?

 

REAPER:  You know, there is just no pleasing you.

 

NATE:  I’m dead!

 

REAPER:  Yeah, and I’m late, so if we could just move this along!

 

(REAPER looks at watch again.  Beat)

 

NATE: . . . What time is it?

 

REAPER: 8:45.

 

NATE:  Oh, 8:45?  That’s plenty of time till ten.  I don’t know what you’re so worried about.

 

REAPER:  Well, you aren’t the only soul I need to collect.  I’ve got, like, ten more people after

this and I really gotta get ready for tonight.

 

NATE:  Oh yeah, your date right?

 

REAPER:  Right.

 

NATE:  Anything special?

 

REAPER:  Yeah, I . . . I’m gonna propose tonight.

 

NATE:  Ooo really?  How long have you been dating?

 

REAPER:  About three years.

 

NATE:  So how’re you gonna do it?

 

REAPER:  Well I was thinking . . . (suspiciously) Wait, you’re dead, what do you care about

my love life . . . or what time it is?

 

NATE:  Well, I just . . . um . . .

 

REAPER:  Yup, that’s what I thought.  Now quit stalling.

 

NATE:  No, but really, this is interesting stuff!  I mean, you’re proposing!

 

REAPER:  (clearly not buying it) Are you coming or not?

 

NATE:  Oh well . . .  (rambling) I don’t really want to stay but that’s not to say I want to go either.

I think that maybe there’s a slight possibility that I left some clothes in the dryer and it would be pretty irresponsible to just leave those there so I should take care of that.  Also I forgot to feed the cat so I should probably get on that too.  And maybe I should turn down the heat or something ‘cause that bill does not need to be huge, let me tell you—

 

REAPER:  Really?  You’re dead.  You can’t get your laundry, you can’t feed your cat, and you can’t

turn down the heat.  Who cares how high your heat bill is?  You don’t have to pay it.  And do you even have a cat?  Cause I’ve been here for a while now and I have not seen any sign of a cat.

 

(Beat)

 

NATE:  Ok, fine, I made up the part about the cat . . . and the laundry.

 

REAPER:  Thought so.

 

NATE:  Can’t you just give me a minute?  Like, I dunno, come back later or something?

 

REAPER: . . . Clearly I’m getting nowhere with you.  Final offer: stay or go?

 

NATE:  (deep breath) Ten minutes?  Just to look around?  I, uh, I’m going to miss this place.

 

REAPER:  (looks at watch once more, speaks gently)  Ten minutes.

 

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