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The Incomplete Worlds Of Billy Shakespeare | BillyShakespeare.com: It's like Shakespeare...only in English.

Billy Plays With Himself

one-act plays

What’s Your Handicap?

Dramatis Personae

MAN WITH NO ARMS, the customer

BLIND MAN, the salesperson

DEAF MAN, store owner

INT. EMPTY DEPARTMENT STORE

A man with NO ARMS pushes open the front door with his behind. He walks up to the counter where the cash register sits unattended.

NO ARMS: Hello? Is anyone back there?

NO ARMS looks down and notices for the first time a small bell. A sign says: Ring For Service. After mumbling a curse or two, the man manages to ring the bell several times with his nose. A stereotypical blind man with sunglasses on jumps up from behind the counter, startling NO ARMS.

BLIND MAN: Can I help you?

NO ARMS: Do you mean to tell me you were behind the counter all the time? Didn’t you hear me calling?

BLIND MAN: I did.

NO ARMS: Then why didn’t you say something?

BLIND MAN: Do you see that little sign? It says: Ring For Service. Ring, sir. Not holler for it. Now, then...may I help you?

NO ARMS: I have my doubts. Do you have mechanical arms?

BLIND MAN: No, sir. Just blind.

NO ARMS: So I see. However, I meant for me. I am without arms. I would like to purchase some mechanical arms. You are designed to accommodate the handicapped, are you not?

BLIND MAN: Yes, sir! That’s what our sign says: Department Store For The Handicapped. Now, then...what’s your problem?

NO ARMS: At the moment, a distinctly blind merchant. As I stated previously, I am without limbs. Do you have any in stock?

BLIND MAN: Well, sir...to be honest, I couldn’t really tell you what we’ve got in the store.

NO ARMS: I beg your pardon?

BLIND MAN: I mean, we could be selling ladies underwear for all I know, sir.

NO ARMS: Yes, I see.

BLIND MAN: I’m afraid I don’t, sir. We don’t, do we?

NO ARMS: Don’t what?

BLIND MAN: Sell ladies underwear...

NO ARMS (irritated): I couldn’t tell you, really. You haven’t anything lying about that one could even laughingly call merchandise. In fact, your store is completely empty except for your sign in the window.

BLIND MAN: I imagine that’s a good sign then.

NO ARMS: What? The one in the window?

BLIND MAN: No, I meant it’s a good sign we don’t sell ladies underwear if we haven’t got any out front.

He smiles pleasantly.

NO ARMS: I see. May I inquire then, what it is you do around here?

BLIND MAN: I let the owner know when somebody rings the bell.

NO ARMS: Why does he need you for that?

BLIND MAN: He’s stone-deaf, sir.

NO ARMS: I see. Could you get him then?

BLIND MAN: Yes, sir. That’s my job, sir.

BLIND MAN half-turns toward the back room and screams at the top of his lungs.

BLIND MAN: HARRY! GET OUT HERE! YOU GOT A CUSTOMER!

NO ARMS (backing up, startled): Jesus! I thought you said he was deaf!

BLIND MAN: He is.

NO ARMS: Well if he wasn’t before, he sure as hell is now.

A man appears from the back room and speaks.

DEAF MAN: Yes, sir. You rang?

BLIND MAN (half-whispering to NO ARMS): Oh, sir. He doesn’t know you know he’s deaf. Go along with him.

NO ARMS: What? You mean pretend he’s not deaf? That’s insane! I won't do it.

BLIND MAN: Oh, please, sir. It would make him so happy.

NO ARMS: Oh...very well.

He faces the DEAF MAN and begins to speak to him.

NO ARMS: I would like to purchase some mechanical limbs, please.

DEAF MAN: Come again?

NO ARMS (raising his voice): I would like to buy some mechanical limbs! Do you have any?

DEAF MAN: Mechanical lips? I've never heard of such a thing!

NO ARMS (yelling now): Mechanical arms! I need arms!

DEAF MAN: Well, why didn’t you say so?

NO ARMS (to BLIND MAN): Why hasn’t he got a hearing aid?

BLIND MAN: He doesn’t know where he can buy one.

NO ARMS: Doesn’t he have any here? Isn’t this a store for the handicapped?

BLIND MAN: Yes, sir! That’s what our sign says: Department Store For The Handicapped.

NO ARMS: Yes. You’ve said that already.

BLIND MAN: Have I, sir? I really don’t recall.

NO ARMS: In any case, I still have no idea whether or not you sell mechanical arms.

BLIND MAN: I’m sure we must. But, Harry’s the one you really should be talking to...

NO ARMS: He’s deaf as a post!

DEAF MAN: Toast? We don’t sell toast, either.

BLIND MAN (in a normal tone of voice): Never mind, Harry.

The DEAF MAN nods, understanding the BLIND MAN perfectly.

NO ARMS: Now why is it I’m the only one who has to yell for him to hear?

BLIND MAN: I imagine he’s used to the sound of my voice.

NO ARMS: What?! Now look here, you’re supposed to cater to the handicapped, am I right?

BLIND MAN: Yes, sir! That’s what our sign says: Department Store For The Handicapped.

NO ARMS: You’ve said that three times already!

BLIND MAN: Have I, sir? I really don’t recall.

NO ARMS: Have you, in fact, got any artificial limbs in this store?

BLIND MAN: You’d really have to speak to Harry...

NO ARMS (yelling again): HARRY! DO YOU HAVE MECHANICAL ARMS?

DEAF MAN: No. Just deaf.

NO ARMS: Is that a running gag around here?

BLIND MAN: I’ll be perfectly frank with you, sir...the handicapped people the sign is referring to...?

NO ARMS: Yes...?

BLIND MAN: Well...that would be us, sir.

NO ARMS: I see. No artificial limbs then. Am I correct?

BLIND MAN: I’m reasonably sure. Yes, sir.

NO ARMS: Might I inquire, then, the nature of your business?

BLIND MAN: We sell canes to blind people. However, I must admit that you are the first person to ever walk in our store.

NO ARMS: And how long have you been in business?

BLIND MAN: Three years in this location, sir.

NO ARMS: Has it ever occurred to you, being blind yourself, that the average blind person has difficulty reading your sign in the window display?

BLIND MAN: Yes, sir, it has. I was mentioning it to Harry just the other day. I was thinking of having a larger sign made...one with flashing lights. Do you think that would attract them?

NO ARMS: Like flies to shit, I’m sure. Good day, gentlemen, and thank you for wasting my valuable time.

BLIND MAN: Don’t mention it, sir. Here...have a business card!

The BLIND MAN holds out a business card, waiting for NO ARMS to grab it. NO ARMS of course is unable to take the card and only stares at the two men in disgust. He looks heavenward as if pleading with God for strength, then exits the store.

DEAF MAN: Come again!

A moment after NO ARMS leaves, BLIND MAN throws the card away and takes off his sunglasses. The two men begin laughing.

BLIND MAN: You were right, Harry. This was a helluva lotta fun!

DEAF MAN: You know, I’ve been thinking...maybe we could do the same thing, only while running a limousine service. What do you think?

BLIND MAN: Hey, yeah. Maybe we could make some tips, too.

The two men discuss their plan, laughing occasionally, and finally they disappear into the back room.

FADE TO BLACK.