A Harrowing Decision (short play)

April 28,2009

SETTING: NY building top.


JEFF – Brother

MIKE – Father

ROBIN- Mother

KAITLYN – Sister

VILLIAN- Villian

A thick rain blankets the Konkle Family’s faces. They are all on top of a building in New York City near the edge.  A shadow of sky, a plunging depth to the ocean of concrete and automobiles several miles below halts the building’s edifice.  The situation seems to be taken out of a tragic Disney movie and the Konkle parents now face a harrowing decision.

The unnamed villain dangles both of the Konkle children over the edge of the building by the scruffs of their necks.

VILLIAN: Well?  Who will it be?  Which one of your precious children will live and which one will die?

JEFF: Dude, how strong are your delts?  You’ve been dangling us for a few minutes now.

VILLIAN: I work out a lot.  But seriously stop wiggling.  That makes it hard.

KAITLYN: Oooh! Big tough guy!  He goes to the gym!

Her verbal barb drips with poisonous sarcasm.

VILLIAN:  Silence!

Lightning crashes like angels playing a Neil Peart-sized drum set.   The family dutifully notes that they had never seen such an obtuse cliché occur in nature.

ROBIN: Why are you doing this?

VILLIAN: Because…I’m just a jerk I guess!

Satisfied with the answer, their minds turn again to the pressing question.  Which of the children would walk away unfettered and which would they allow to plummet loudly to their death.

MIKE: We can’t pick.  We’re stuck.

The VILLIAN changes his tone to a more helpful and productive one.

VILLIAN: Well try this: talk me through the decision.  I’m an arbitrator in my day job so I help people come to resolutions all the time.  Just start bouncing some ideas off of me.

MIKE: Well…Jeff is the boy; he would at least be able to carry on the family name.


ROBIN: Uhh!!  That is so like men.  Kaitlyn is the youngest.  She has more life to live.

JEFF: She’s only a few years younger!

MIKE: (to ROBIN) What makes you think that she’ll live longer?

ROBIN: Wikipedia.

MIKE: Oh you can’t trust that website!  People can edit it themselves.  I could change the entry on beans to read “a musical fruit.”

VILLIAN: Actually, those articles are pretty well fact-checked.  I think they do say that women live longer than men.

JEFF: Well wait a minute.  You should see who is going to have the better life, not the longer one.  I mean I am smarter and better at sports.

KAITLYN: Psssh!  Smarter?  I had a higher GPA than you in High School!  And I was on a competitive cheerleading team all throughout that time.

JEFF: Oh yea that has practical real world applications.  I’ll tell you what, why don’t you somersault yourself out of this problem.

KAITLYN:  Boy, you know I would have loved to, if you, Mr. Captain-of-the-Wrestling-Team, would have been able to takedown and pin the guy who initially attacked us and is now dangling us over this building. Don’t you know Judo or something?

JEFF: Shut up!  (trailing off)  I’m only a green belt.  It’s a lower level.

KAITLYN: And what level “belt” are you, Guy-About-to-Kill-One-of-Us?”

VILLIAN: Me?  Oh, I’ve never studied judo.

Smiles and glances snidely at her older sibling.

KAITLYN: MmmmHmmmm.

JEFF: OK fine!  Mom, Dad; I want you to pick me!  I’ll sacrifice myself for my little sister.

KAITLYN: Uhh…no way?  Then I have to live forever with that hanging over my head. My brother died for me?  No way!  I’m not doing that!

JEFF: Fine, I retract my previous offer.

KAITLYN: Yeah let’s see how you like it.  Mom, tell this guy to drop me.

JEFF: Yeah Mom, save me.  Drop her.

Out of the blue booms a squeaky yet powerful voice.


Oh crap!  Everyone with Konkle DNA recognizes the voice.

VILLIAN: Who was that?

KIDS: Grandma?

GRANDMA: You’d better re-choose yourself, young man!

GRANDPA is in the background adjusting his hearing aid.


GRANDMA: Not you Bob!  (returns attention to JEFF) Now do it!  Say you’ll die for your sister!

JEFF: Why do I have to sacrifice myself?

GRANDMA:  Because she’s your little baby sister and you’re supposed to protect her!

ROBIN: Mom!  You always do this!  This is Mike and I’s terrible decision to make. We don’t need you adding your two cents!

GRANDPA: Ah!  You’re all a bunch of crazy people.

KAITLYN: Ha Ha! (sing-songy) Grandma yelled at you.

The villain’s arms tremble from muscle strain.  No one’s delts could withstand this.  His ears hurt from all the yelling.  His brain hurts from the bickering.

JEFF: Look!  Grandma!  Mom!  She’s being an idiot!

KAITLYN:  God, aren’t a little old for name calling? (beat) And anyways, you’re the idiot.  You failed your Driver’s License Exam three times.

JEFF: Our cat likes me better!!!

Mike has had enough.

MIKE: Jeez!  Just drop them both!

KIDS & VILLIAN: (In unison)  WHAT!?!?

The VILLIAN is confused.

VILLIAN: It doesn’t really work like that.  What makes this whole scenario so terrible is that you need to pick one child.

MIKE (half-laughing): Well if they’re going to be like that to each other, get rid of them both.

KIDS: Don’t do that!

ROBIN: Well, Jeff, you’re being immature and Kait, you’re being ungrateful.

JEFF: Wait now how am I being immature?  Explain that to me.

KAIT: (sing-songy) Mom called you immature!

JEFF: (sing-songy right back) She called you ungrateful!

The villain can’t support the weight anymore.  He pulls both Konkle kids back in from the ledge, and abandons his plot.

VILLIAN: (dejectedly) You all are freaking exhausting…

VILLIAN walks off stage.  His voice trails off.

VILLIAN: You know, you come up with this great scheme and people just don’t appreciate it.

The family rejoins each other at the top of the building and the rain stops and the clouds clear.  They pause to bask in each other’s presence.  The pause is long.

ROBIN: (shrugs) Want go to Max and Erma’s?

JEFF rubs his hands together and licks his lips.

JEFF:  Oooh yea!  Tortilla soup!

The family happily walks off into the sunset.  They all put their arms around each other.

KAITLYN: That guy was a douche-bag.

MIKE: Yep.

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