Artwork: ghost

One Man Show

Author: EPS '24
As seen in: One Last Dance #

The janitor was diligently color-coding dust when the director burst in. “Mort, none of the actors showed up. We need you to be King Lear.”

Mort, who rarely opened his mouth except to smoke and second-hand smoke, was taken aback. “You tellin’ me’s I’s got to play broads’s and blokes’s? You tellin’ me’s I’s gotta express themes of political complexity’s whilst juggling vocals of every range?” 

It was a tall order, but Mort took it with the easy swagger he had since his family died in a similarly brazen theatrical challenge. Some say the facade of casual confidence hid what was deep inside: incomprehensibly extreme confidence. 

“Just tell me where’s I gotta stand and what’s I’s gotta do and you won’t hear no complaining from me,” Mort mumbled, having unconsciously walked on stage.

“You know’s what I hate’s most about’s the New York Metro?” He asks the crowd. The audience is mesmerized, having never seen a more working class man. Mort chose to leave that question rhetorical.

Mort turns out his pockets.  “See’s? More nickels than’s quarters just like’s I thought.” Confident he’s nailing it with just about anything, he struggles to parse the lyrics to “Seventy Six Trombones.” “Don’t help’s me!” He warns the audience, who try to chip in. 

The play ended as abruptly as Mort’s intermittent smoke breaks had started. The lights turned back on, revealing a stunned Simon Cowell. “Mort, you son of a bitch,” he said, starting a slow clap that spread through the audience. Mort brushed it off with a few “yeah yeah’s” and returned to playing with his dusts.
The director was desperate. “Mort, please, for the love of God. Go out there. Be Somebody. Anything Mort. Please, they want, no, need more.” Mort gave the director a look he saved only for his ma and passing cattle. “Little ol’ me? Wheezy ol’ janitor Mort who ain’t’s never up to nothin’? Get real boss. I don’t’s even know’s the difference between’s a jack pipe and’s a dweller receiver pipe.” Then Mort grinned. He knew the difference all too well.