Chutzpah

In this short drama scene, SANDRA is a teen who has just left home after a horrible physical confrontation with her Mother.  She passes AGNES, who is the neighborhood homeless lady.  This is their first actual verbal encounter.

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Agnes: Hello.

Sandra: …Hey.

Agnes: Nice day today.  Sunshine.  Cool enough to be comfortable and warm enough to feel the sunshine touch your face gently.

(agnes notices blood on Sandra’s arm)

Oh dear…let me give you a tissue for that cut on your arm.

Sandra: That’s okay.

Agnes: No, no, here.

Sandra: I don’t want it because I don’t feel like saying thank you…to anyone for anything.

Agnes: You don’t have to say thank you, but please, take the tissue.

(Sandra takes it)

You don’t owe anyone anything.

Sandra: What you sayin’ lady?  You don’t know me.

Agnes: But I do know you, I know you very well, actually.

Sandra: You’re just a crazy old homeless lady.  You sit on this bench all day, everyday.  I never see you move, accept for picking in the trash.  Maybe you’ve seen me, but you don’t know me.

Agnes: You’re an interesting one.  Lots of chutzpah.

Sandra: What’s chutzpah? You making fun of me old lady?

Agnes: No, I’m afraid not.  Cutzpah is a word for guts.  I like your guts and your heart.  You’ve got a good heart on you.

Sandra: Stop acting like you know me!

(Sandra stands up)

Agnes: Sit down.  Relax.  The dogs bark enough around here all night. Howling in the wind, begging for someone, anyone to hear them, to care enough to scold them quiet…no one ever does.

Sandra: I don’t hear no dogs barking at night?

Agnes: That’s because your ears are closed.

Sandra: Excuse me, I hear just fine, okay?  How old are you, ninety? Maybe it’s you whose hearing is off.

Agnes: Maybe, that’s true.

(pause.)

I lost my hearing years ago.

Sandra: Huh?

Agnes:  My hearing.  Shot to nothing.  Can’t hear a damn thing out of them.

Sandra: Are you a crazy person?  Why are homeless people crazy people?

Agnes: I’m not crazy.  I can’t speak for homeless people, but I’m certainly not crazy.

Sandra: You have to be.  You’re the only white lady I ever seen in this neighborhood, ever…that’s crazy, but what I don’t get is why you still here? Why ain’t nobody ever dispose of you?

Agnes: Dispose of me? (she laughs)  That’s a good one.  I need a good laugh.  Cleans out the cobwebs in my lungs.  Haha.  Dispose—

Sandra: How? Why nobody ever mug you or rape you or…kill you?

Agnes: This neighborhood isn’t what everyone seems to make it out to be.

Sandra: Now I know for sure you’re crazy old woman.

Agnes: Agnes.

Sandra: Agnes?

Agnes: I’d prefer you call me by my actual name.  Agnes.

Sandra: Well, Agnes, I’m out…

Agnes: You will be back and I will be here, anytime you want to talk.  Sandra, right?

Sandra: Yeah.

Agnes: Okay.  I thought it was Sandra.  You look like a Sandra to me.  Good.  Bye bye.

(Sandra walks away)

Joseph Arnone

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