(Lights up. A small table sits center stage, with a pink tablecloth with “Bonko’s Wondyful Wurld” on it, covering the table. An alligator puppet sits on top of the table, watching and talking to the people that pass by.)
BONKO: Great job today guys. The show went great. Hector! The lighting? Spectacular! Phyllis! Could you have done better with that music? I think not! Everything was perfect. Now go get some rest and we’ll do it all again tomorrow.
(Tom walks up to the table with a clipboard in his hand.)
BONKO: And Tom! Whose the best director in the world? Who is he? Who he is?
TOM: Barry . . .
BONKO: Who? My name is Bonko, and I want to know who the best director in the whole wide world is.
TOM: (pause, and then monotone) Me.
BONKO: HAHAHAHA, I’d say so, hahahahaha, I’d take that to the bank and cash it, hahahahaha, I’d take that to the church and marry it, hahahaha, I’d put that in my pipe and –
TOM: Look, Barry, how long are you going to keep doing this?
BONKO: Who is this Barry?
TOM: Would you stop that?
BONKO: Stop what?
TOM: The Bonko routine. The show is over, you can go back to normal.
BONKO: Routine? I don’t understand, Bonko is my name and that is who I am.
TOM: It’s embarrassing.
BONKO: Why Tom, what are you talking –
TOM: Look, I know you haven’t left the building in two weeks.
BONKO: (still in character) What do you mean?
TOM: The guards at the gate say that they haven’t seen you leave for a while. Others have seen you around the building after hours.
BONKO: Obviously they are mistaken.
TOM: The janitors tell me that you walk the halls completely naked, eating snacks from the vending machines and muttering to yourself with that stupid puppet on your hand.
BONKO: But –
TOM: People are starting to talk Barry. And not just the night crew. Everybody has noticed that you smell more pungent these days.
BONKO: Well, I’m a crocodile who lives in a swamp, what do they expect?
TOM: Is there a problem at home?
BONKO: The bayou? No everything is fine there, in fact Cousin Rabbit told me this great joke the other day –
TOM: Did Cindy throw you out again? (pause) Well?
BARRY: (no longer in character but still speaking through the puppet) Yeah.
TOM: What was it this time?
BARRY: She said that she can’t handle living with a child anymore, that if she wanted to be sleeping next to an immature son of a bitch, she would just have a few shots and go ‘round to the playground across the street.
TOM: Well, you’ve been through rough patches before.
BARRY: Not like this. She had the divorce papers on the table and my stuff in garbage bags on the lawn.
TOM: Did you sign the papers?
BARRY: I drew hippos and daisies on them.
TOM: Where is your stuff?
BARRY: Still on the front lawn, I think. Though she probably threw them away by now.
TOM: They were already in garbage bags.
BARRY: I took the one with my ice cream maker though.
(Barry’s other hand pops up from the table, holding a messy and not very appealing ice cream cone.)
TOM: Where did you get the ingredients to make ice cream?
BARRY: From the fridge in the lounge. Would you like some? It’s Cheetos flavor.
BARRY: Okay. (The hand holding the cone goes back behind the table.)
TOM: Look, I know you are going through a hard time right now and that you are having somewhat of a break down –
BARRY: Break down? I’m not having –
TOM: Let me smell your breath.
(The puppet opens its mouth and “breathes” on Tom.)
TOM: Just what I thought; bourbon.
BARRY: I quit drinking seven years ago Tom, are you saying I fell off the wagon?
TOM: No, I’m saying you bought a bottle of bourbon and then poured it down your puppet’s throat. This is not normal behavior Barry. You have to get your life together.
BARRY: But –
TOM: They’ll take the show away from you Barry.
BARRY: What? But they can’t! I made this show from the ground up and for six years it has been the number one children’s show in Northern Montana! For christsakes, I’m Bonko!
TOM: So what? They’ll replace you with another person.
BARRY: Another person? The audience wouldn’t stand for it!
TOM: Our audience can’t write their names with a crayon and still shit their pants. And it’s not like they have actually ever seen Barry Pukowski, all they’ve seen is a puppet alligator –
TOM: They won’t even notice that you have been replaced with someone else.
BARRY: But who could replace me?
TOM: She moonlights as a babysitter for producers. The kids love her.
BARRY: But they can’t! They can’t replace me with Phyllis, a bitch who can’t even play but three chords on a guitar! They can’t Tom, they can’t take the show away from me . . . it’s all I have left.
TOM: I know Barry. They’re not kicking you off the show, but they will if you don’t get your act together. How much money do you have on you? Do you have enough to get into a motel?
BARRY: Yeah, I think so.
TOM: Okay, go check yourself into a room and get something to eat. Take a shower, put on some clothes and take it easy. Then we’ll figure out some temporary living arrangements till you can get back on your feet again. We’ll take it step by step, alright?
BARRY: (pause, and then a sniff.) Okay.
TOM: And the first step is taking that god damn thing off your hand. Give it here.
(At first there is some hesitation, but the Barry relinquishes Bonko. The puppet flops onto the table, and Tom takes it and puts it in his pocket.)
TOM: Good. Now go ahead and get cleaned up. I’ll be waiting in the parking lot.
(Tom leaves. Silence on the stage. Then another puppet, this time a dog, pops from behind the table. He looks around.)
BARRY: I’m not having a nervous breakdown, am I Barkly?
BARKLY: (looking down behind the table at Barry) No Barry, you’re as stable as a rock. Tom is just an asshole.
BARRY: Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Lights fade to black.