Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


A play for Keith

Setting: Lee, 61, is sitting comfortably in a cushioned chair on his mother’s enclosed porch on a warm late afternoon. To his left is his friend Keith, a good-looking man in his late 60’s with warm eyes and a voice touched by honey and silk. Also present, Lee’s mother, aged 98, and her old friend Sue.

Lee (to Keith.): It’s nice to see you.

Keith (cheerily.) It’s nice to be here!

Lee sips coffee from a flowered teacup, part of his mother’s set that she’s used for thirty or forty years or more. Keith also has a cup, as do Sue and Mom.

Lee: Did you hear me on National Public Radio today?

Sue: I did!

Mom: I did too!

Keith:  Sorry, no.

Keith’s phone buzzes. He looks at it.

Keith (cont.): Sorry, I have to take this. It’s London.

He rises, phone in hand. He starts to walk inside.

Lee(calling after.): Keith, wait. Wait! Keith! Before you go!

Keith comes back in, barely.

Lee: Before you go. Didn’t you… die? I remember you dying. A few months ago. Didn’t you die?

Pause. Finally:

Keith (it dawning on him.): I… do remember that.

Lee: Me too.

Now no one knows what to say. 

Lee (Cont.): Go take your call, then we can talk. But you come back, hear? You come back.

Keith:  Okay.

Keith goes back inside.

 Mom: I thought he was dead. That’s why when I heard he was coming over I waxed the floors!

 Lee: Yeah, he died in January. I don’t think either of us expected it.

Sue: Who is he again?

Lee: One of my closest friends, for a period. We did a lot of plays together. I really loved him and miss him. I didn’t expect him to die!

Sue: Oh, nobody ever expects it.

Keith returns.

Lee (re the phone call.): Well?

Keith: It was nothing.

Lee: I was just telling Sue and my mom how much I miss you. Miss knowing you’re around. Really didn’t expect you to go.

Keith: No, me neither.

Mom: That’s what Lee was sayin’!

Lee: It’s nice that you came back to say hi.

Mom (to Keith.): Did you eat yet?

Keith: I’m good, thanks. (He gets up.) Well….

Lee: Well. (A beat.) Is it nice?

The setting melts away, and Mom and Sue with it. Now Lee and Keith are in a mausoleum of sorts: Keith’s final resting place as envisioned by Lee in this dream.

 Lee (cont.): Looks nice! For… y’know.

They walk down three steps, taking it in, and come to Keith’s casket, tucked around an inside corner. It’s open. Keith runs his hands over the fabric within.

Keith (with appreciation.): Velvet…!

Lee: Very nice.

Keith: Feels soft. 

Lee: (ruminating.) I just realized that Mom is dead too.

Keith: Really.

Lee: Yeah. One month before you. But she was 98! Sue died a long time ago; I always liked her.


Keith (eyeing his coffin.): Well….

Lee: Nice seeing you, Keith! Didn’t think I’d get the chance. Be well.

Keith: You too.

The setting shifts again, to the morning of May 13, 2024. Now Lee is in his bed, having just awakened.

Lee (To us.): Hah! I guess I got to do one last play with Keith. (A beat.) Although given the chance, I would’ve done better. Given them more to say to each other. It was just so nice to see him that we didn’t need to say much.


One Response to “A play for Keith”

  1. Dan Says:

    I got really involved with this. So much that I started giving advice to the Lee character. Something like:
    “You spend too much time with that crowd. Get yourself some live friends. Next thing you know, they’ll invite you over to spend the night, and you’ll go gentle….”

Leave a Reply