HARRY THE CHAIR
by Edward Crosby Wells
The characters are Gladys (the chairís wife) and Blanche (her friend and neighbor). They are both ordinary middle-aged women of modest means.
The setting is Gladysí living room. There is a comfy overstuffed recliner with a TV table next to it covered with an open pizza box and empty beer cans or bottles. Somewhere there are two occasional chairs separated by an end table with tea things on itólittle else.
AT RISE: A conversation is in progress. GLADYS and BLANCHE are pondering the comfy chair.
GLADYS: I swear on my . . . (Trying to think of something.) . . . whatever is most precious to me. I canít think of anything at the moment.
BLANCHE: Your teapot collection?
GLADYS: Yes. My teapot collection. I canít believe how I almost lost one of them to Margieís temper tantrum. The mess she made. Had to throw out the tablecloth. Canít never get the stains outóOrange Pekoe. Almost lost the teapot. As it is, thereís a chip on it now.
BLANCHE: Still, I canít believe it.
GLADYS: What? That Harry turned into a chair or that Margieís a destructive bitch who shouldnít wear maternity clothes just because sheís fat? All poor Sharon Weeks wanted to do was to see if the baby was kicking. Well, there wasnít any baby. Just a big olí tub of blubber. It all goes to show you should never wear deceptive clothing.
BLANCHE: Sharon Weeks shouldnít go around touching and feeling people.
GLADYS: I think that may have broken her of the habit.
BLANCHE: One can only hope. (After a thoughtful pause.) Did Harry . . . you know . . . leave you? You neednít be ashamed to tell me.
GLADYS: For Peteís sake, Blanche! Iím not ashamed. I told you. Harry metamorphosed.
BLANCHE: Excuse me?
GLADYS: He metamorphosed into a chairólike that man who turned into a cockroach.
BLANCHE: (Incredulous.) What man? Nobody turned into a cockroach.
GLADYS: Itís in a book.
BLANCHE: That doesnít make it so. (A pause to scrutinize.) Gladys, youíre not taking those diet pills again, are you?
GLADYS: Of course not!
BLANCHE: This is all too inexplicable.
GLADYS: Thatís why Iím trying to explain it to you. Harry wanted a beer, so I got up and went into the kitchen to get him one and when I came back . . . (Wipes a tear from the corner of her eye.) . . . he was gone.
BLANCHE: That doesnít explain anything.
GLADYS: Certainly does. The chair was a chair one minute and the next minute . . . (Wipes another tear.) . . . it was Harry.
BLANCHE: How can you tell?
GLADYS: (Caresses chair.) I can tell. I know my Harry. I know his smile, his chins, his hairy chest . . . (Sniffing chair.) . . . his smell.
BLANCHE: Gladys, he lives, eats and sleeps in that chair. Of course it smells like him; cigarettes, beer, Old Spice and stale farts.
GLADYS: Blanche, thatís enough! Either you believe me or you donít. (Glances at end table.)
BLANCHE: Well, I donít!
GLADYS: Suit yourself. TeaóOrange Pekoe? (Crosses to the occasional chairs and sits.)
BLANCHE: Sure. (Following her, sits.) I love this tea pot. Isnít this the one that Margie almost broke?
GLADYS: It sure is. (Holding it up and showing.) See the chip?
BLANCHE: (Looking.) No . . . ah, yes. There it is. ĎThough itís hardly noticeable. No one would ever know.
GLADYS: I know.
BLANCHE: Of course you know. I meant anyone else.
GLADYS: I canít look at it without seeing it.
BLANCHE: Try not to look and donít let Margie near it . . . Whatís happened to her, by the way? I havenít seen her since the tea pot fiasco.
GLADYS: Iím sure sheís around. Sheíll turn up . . . (A pause to pick up the tea pot.) . . . sooner or later. (Filling both cups with tea.)
BLANCHE: They always doóher kind.
GLADYS: Yes, they always doóher kindósooner or later. (Sips tea.) Nice.
BLANCHE: (Sips tea.) Very nice. (After a pause to sip more tea.) So . . . Gladys, tell me the truth. Whereís Harry?
GLADYS: I told you. (Pointing to chair.) How many times do I have to tell you, Blanche? There . . . thereís Harry.
BLANCHE: Just doesnít seemó
GLADYS: I donít care how it seems. Nothing ever is as it seems. He turned into a chair and thatís it, plain and simple.
BLANCHE: Not so plain and not so simple.
GLADYS: Look at Harry. (To chair.) Whatís it like being a chair, Harry?
BLANCHE: Youíve lost your mind.
GLADYS: Iím talking to Harry.
BLANCHE: Youíre talking to a chair!
GLADYS: He only looks like a chair! (Rises and crosses to Harry.) But, heís the man I love. When I came back with the beer, Harry was gone and the chair smiled at me.
BLANCHE: The chair smiled? (Following her.)
GLADYS: Thatís how I knew it was Harry.
BLANCHE: Come to think of it, that chair is the only place Iíve ever seen himóonly in that chair, always.
GLADYS: Precisely. He practically lived in it. I brought him his meals while he sat all weekend watching his shows. As soon as he came home from work, there heíd be until it was time to go to bed. And now . . . (Wiping tears.) . . . Harry is the chair.
BLANCHE: Figuratively speaking, I can see it. I mean, we do become the things we are attached to.
GLADYS: Whatís that supposed to mean?
BLANCHE: You knowólike you are the things you eat.
GLADYS: Blanche, I eat kumquats! Does that make me a kumquat?
BLANCHE: (Coyly.) Maybe. (Staring at the chair.) He does look comfortable, doesnít he? (She is about to sit in the chair.)
GLADYS: NO! Donít sit on Harry!
BLANCHE: I just thoughtó
GLADYS: What? That you could sit on my husband without me giving a wit . . . like we were one of those . . . those . . . swinger couples. We donít swing, Blanche. The nerve! Trying to have your way with my husband? And right under my nose. Shameless.
BLANCHE: What on Earth are you talking about?
GLADYS: Harry. You always had your eyes onó
GLADYS: Just because he vibrates.
GLADYS: He vibrates.
BLANCHE: Harry vibrates?
GLADYS: The chair did. I assume that Harryó
BLANCHE: Vibrates, too?
GLADYS: Well, yes. Heís kind of a massage chair.
BLANCHE: Have you checked to see if he does vibrate?
GLADYS: Not yet. When Iím alone Iíll slip into his lap, sniff his arms . . . his back . . . his seat.
BLANCHE: Good, God, Gladys! Itís a chair. Itís a big, old, smelly La-Z-Boyóthat vibrates.
GLADYS: Thatís my husband youíre talking about, Blanche!
BLANCHE: Itís a chair, Gladys. Itís a goddamn chair and thatís all there is to it.
GLADYS: Itís Harry! The goddamn chair is Harry.
BLANCHE: Would you like me to call a doctor?
GLADYS: You think I need a doctor?
BLANCHE: Nobody turns into a chair, Gladys. Now whatís going on here?
GLADYS: Iíve lost my husband!
BLANCHE: Maybe he just went out to pick up something.
GLADYS: I lost him the day before yesterday. Heíd be back by now.
BLANCHE: Well . . . Iím sure thereís a perfectly good explanation.
GLADYS: There is. He became a chair. One day you, too, might become something.
BLANCHE: It wonít be a chair.
GLADYS: Iím only sayingó (Addresses the chair.) Harry, say something. Do you love me, Harry? BLANCHE: Gladys, you need . . . God! I donít know what you need. How about we have some more tea? (Puts her arm around GLADYS and walks her to the chairs by the tea things.) Now you sit down, Sweetie, and have another nice cup of tea.
GLADYS: Are you patronizing me?
BLANCHE: I believe so, yes. (Picks up tea pot and pours.) I really like this teapot, Gladys. Itís my second favorite.
BLANCHE: The hand-painted Russian one is my favorite.
GLADYS: Really? Then the next time weíll have to use the Russian one and Iíll keep Margie on the shelf.
BLANCHE: (Drinking tea Ė stops abruptly.) What!?
GLADYS: Didnít you notice? Itís Margie. She turned into that teapot shortly after ruining my tablecloth. Orange Pekoeócanít never get the stains out. (Drinks tea.) Blanche, why donít you take these tea things into the kitchen and as soon as I have a talk with Harry, Iíll make us a nice pot of tea in the Russian teapot?
BLANCHE: (Rises.) I donít know what game youíre playing, but I think you need professional help. (Picks up the tray of tea things.) You need help. We need to do something about these hallucinations.
GLADYS: Yes, we do, indeed. Take this stuff to the kitchen and Iíll be right in.
(BLANCHE exits into the kitchen while GLADYS heads towards Harry the chair.)
GLADYS: (To the chair.) Harry, why did you do it? (Listens a bit.) I miss you. I love you, Harry. I donít care if you are a chair.
BLANCHE: (Calling from kitchen.) I canít find the Russian teapot. Where is it, Gladys?
GLADYS: (Calling back.) For Peteís sake! Itís on the shelf overó
BLANCHE: Help! (Then silence.)
GLADYS: (To kitchen.) Iíll be right there! (To Harry the chair.) Iíll be right back. Donít go anywhere. (Disappears into kitchen.) Okay, Blanche. Whatís your problem? Where are you? Whereíd you go? Blanche? Oh no. Oh, Blanche. What did you do? (Enters carrying the Russian teapot. To teapot.) Blanche, Blanche, Blanche. What did you do? (Quickly turns towards Harry the chair.) Whatís that, Harry? (After a pause to listen to Harry.) Yes, itís Blancheóa teapot. This was her most favorite. Well, things happen. (To the teapot.) I hope youíre happy, Blanche. See, Iím not crazy now, am I? (Looking around.) Where should I put you? (Goes to table and sets the teapot down.) Sit here for a while, Blanche, until I figure out what to do with you. I donít think youíd like sitting next to Margie. Stay here while I think about it. (Crosses to Harry the chair.) Hello, Harry. Finally alone. Wait a minute. (Crosses back to the Russian teapot and turns it around so the spout is in the back.) There. I need a private moment with my husband, Blanche. Weíll talk later. You just sit there and face the wall for awhile. (Shouts to kitchen.) Margie, relax. Iíll wash you later. You donít want me to put you in the dishwasher, do you? (Returns to Harry the chair.) Where were we? Well, of course. Iíd love to Harry. (She caresses the chair lovingly, sniffs the arms and then a quick sniff of the seat cushion before she sits. She then moves in the chair, swaying with pleasure. She flips the vibrator switch and begins to vibrate as the LIGHTING FADES.) Oh, Harry! Oh, oh, Harry. Yes . . . yes . . .