The Phone Shop
by Colm Nicholl (age 14, Dublin)
If you live in care or in other situations away from home, you have the right to have these living arrangements looked at regularly to see if they are the most appropriate
Character 1: Mark
Character 2: Sean
Setting: Modern day phone shop in inner city Dublin, called Alfonso’s Phone Shack. The walls are lined with all kinds of phones, from smartphones to flip phones. There are two seats in the shop; one behind the counter and one in front of it. The one behind is a computer chair and the one in front is an armchair. Behind the counter is a young man wearing a shirt, jeans, and glasses. He’s playing with his phone waiting for customers. This is Mark . An elderly man in his mid 60s walks in. He looks around, wide-eyed, like a child in a sweet shop. He is wearing a flat cap, a short-sleeved shirt, and beige trousers. This is Sean.
Mark: Welcome to Alfonso’s Phone Shack, where we’ve Al the Fons for yo.
Sean: What’d you say?
Mark: (sighs) Welcome to Alfonso’s Phone Shack, where we’ve got Al the Fons for yo.
Mark: (slightly irritated) Welcome to Alfonso’s – please don’t make me say it again.
Sean: Why are you saying that?
Mark: Look, I’m contractually obligated to say that every time someone walks through that door (gestures to door).
Sean: That’s not very smart.
Mark: Can you please stop insulting my occupational choices and just tell me why you’re here?
Sean: Okay fine. My phone is broken. It won’t receive any calls.
Mark: Okay, can you please show me the phone?
Sean: (takes out phone and hands it to Mark) Here you go.
Mark: (sighs) I need it unlocked to check it.
Sean: (chuckling) Oh I almost forgot. Now, what was it again? (pauses) . . . Ah yes, the year my daughter, Sally, got married. Oh, that was one of the best days of my life. It was held in the same church she was baptised in and the same one where her mother and I were married. Saint Bernadette’s, such a lovely church. High, soaring towers, a beautifully engraved tabernacle, lovely stonework all round. When I first saw Sally on her big day, she looked so beautiful. She had a lovely white dress on, and her hair was done up in a way, oh how delicate she looked. The proudest moment of my life has got to be walking her up that aisle. I was smiling so much I thought my face would stay that way forever. She has had three children so far: Michael, Luke, and Annie. Oh Annie is the image of her mother. Such a good little girl. Well, she was the last time I saw her. It’s been about three years since I’ve seen any of them.
Mark: Excuse me sir, the code?
Sean: Ah yes, two-zero-zero-one, I think. Sorry for my rambling. It’s just that I get carried away sometimes.
Mark: Well, I’m afraid the code didn’t work.
Sean: Oh. Well it might be the year my son, Jack, was in the lead in his school musical. Oh, it was such a good show.
Mark: (mumbling) Oh god, not again.
Sean: They were doing Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. He played Joseph. Oh he was so amazing. He’s got the voice of an angel, I’ll tell you. When we heard him sing that song about how any dream will do, oh his mother started crying with joy. We loved every second of it. He got the biggest standing ovation anyone has ever seen. Oh, how they loved him. He actually has a job on the West End now. Nothing important, mainly supporting roles.
Mark: I’m sure he is great and all, now what year was this?
Sean: Why it was . . . (he stops, and his face drops, as Mark reaches towards the phone). It has been three years since I’ve seen or talked to him too.
Mark: I’m uh, I’m sorry.
Sean: Don’t be. (Sean’s face changes back to a smile) The code is one-nine-nine-six.
Mark: Okay, we’re in now. What’d you say your problem was again?
Sean: The phone won’t take any calls.
Mark: Well, it doesn’t look broke, and the last call you received was from someone called . . . Susan.
Sean: (starts to tear up and his face turns to a frown) That was my wife. She died about three years ago. Her funeral was the last time I saw my kids. Anyways, could you please get back to the job at hand?
Mark: I . . . I’m sorry about your wife, sir, but there’s nothing wrong with your phone.
Sean: But . . . but that doesn’t make sense.
Mark: I’ve checked twice. There’s nothing wrong with it. Why aren’t you happy?
Sean: My kids. They said they would call me at least once or twice a month. Why wouldn’t they call me? Oh, God. (Sean sits down in the armchair and puts his head in his hands) They’ve forgotten me!
Mark: No, they haven’t. They’re probably just (hesitates) they’re problem just busy. Your daughter has three kids and your son has a job on the West End, that’s a really demanding job.
Sean: No. It has been three years. Three years! How can my children be so busy to not visit or even call me for three whole years? Having kids isn’t that time demanding. I had two and still managed to visit my parents at least once a month. And Jack, being an actor doesn’t excuse you from contacting your family. It’s not enough to warrant three . . . (he stops and starts sobbing)
Mark: Look pal, I’m not gonna let you feel that way. Now, you’re gonna call up your kids, and you’re gonna give out hell to them, and then you’re gonna invite them to brunch or something.
Sean: Can you please call them? I don’t think I’m in any state to talk to my children.
Mark: Okay. Your son or your daughter first?
Sean: Call Sally first, please.
Mark: (picks up the phone and starts pressing it before putting it to his ear. The phone rings for a few seconds before a man’s voice comes from the wings. This is Sally’s husband. Only Mark can hear him, Sean just watches him from the chair).
Sally’s Husband: Hello?
Mark: I’m looking for Sally. Her father would like a word.
Sally’s Husband: Oh God, not again.
Mark: What do you mean, “again”?
Sally’s Husband: Sean does this every few months. He goes into a different phone shop, says his phone is broken, says his kids haven’t talked to him in years, gets the tech guy to call Sally’s phone. It’s all his way of dealing with the grief.
Mark: (murmuring) Grief? What grief?
Sally’s Husband: His wife, his son, his daughter, they all died in a car crash three years ago. They had a shared funeral. His wife’s death was the only one he could come to terms with. He actually managed to convince himself that his daughter and son were attendants at the funeral, not the focus of it. When in reality, all they saw was their coffins.
Mark: (whispering) Holy shit.
Sally’s Husband: Just tell him the phone didn’t answer. It doesn’t matter that he heard you talk to me, he will just believe anything you tell him. All that matters is he saw you call. He’ll probably just walk away and get on with his life, he’ll probably just forget he ever met you.
Mark: Oh . . . okay. (Mark slowly pulls his phone away from his ear, presses the end call button. He looks at Sean). There was uh . . . there was no answer. No one picked up.
Sean: Oh well. Thank you for trying. (Sean takes his phone and exits the shop slowly. As he leaves, Mark collapses into a chair. Lights fade).
If you live in care or in other situations away from home, you have the right to have these living arrangements looked at regularly to see if they are the most appropriate.