The Sounds of Silence

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE

Characters:

Herman
Wife
Child #1
Child #2
Salesperson
The Fly (voice only)

Setting: A living room with a recliner in the center. There needs to be a back wall, with a door and window. Other necessary props are indicated in the script, including a large hardback book, a wind-up alarm clock, a notepad & pen, an end table, trash can, various electronic devices (TV with remote, radio, videogame console), a talking baby doll with batteries, a vacuum, and a salesman’s case with household implements.

As the lights fade up, we hear the loud blaring of music, TV, videogames, etc. A tired-looking man in a tie, HERMAN enters, obviously just arriving home from work.

He sighs heavily, glancing around the room for his absent family, shrugs and moves sluggishly over to the RADIO. He shuts it off. He then moves to the VIDEO GAME CONSOLE, examining the controller, and punching a button to turn it off. He then moves to the TELEVISION, and grabbing the remote, points it at the set and emphatically shuts it off. We’re left with one remaining sound, a crying TOY BABY DOLL.

Herman moves over to it and shakes it, it continues to cry, “Mama, mama, mama…” He snaps open a panel on the doll’s back, removes the batteries, drops them in the trash can, and breathes a sigh of relief, assessing the room, and confidently relishing in the quiet. He loosens his tie, and moves to the RECLINER, positioned in the center of the room. He picks up a BOOK from the END TABLE, and settles in to enjoy a nice read.

He starts to read a few lines to himself, and then we hear the loud TICKING OF A CLOCK. He notices it too. But tries to ignore it. He can’t concentrate! He gets up and finds the clock across the room. He examines it, making the “Shush” sign with his finger over his lips. He takes the clock and looks for somewhere to stash it. He tries to cover it up with the baby doll. No good. STILL TICKING! He puts it under the cushion on his chair. Uncomfortable. STILL TICKING. He puts it in the DRAWER. No ticking.

He sits down, within seconds, the phone begins RINGING, RINGING. It’s a high-pitched, irritating phone sound. He rolls his eyes, sighs deeply, and hops up, moving over to the phone. He picks it up, we hear SHRILL SQUEAKING MOUSE SOUNDS, rapidly issuing from the receiver. He nods, then shakes his head, then nods again, jots down a quick note (taking a message) and then hangs up the phone. He makes a move toward the chair, and then pauses, with a gesture of inspiration, moves back to the phone and unplugs it emphatically.

He settles back into the chair. The look on his face says, “Ah, I can read now.” Suddenly, there’s the CAWWWW, CAWWWW, CAWWWW, of a crow, from outside the WINDOW. It stops for a moment. He waits to hear it again. No sound for a beat. He returns to reading.

CAWWWW! CAWWWW! That’s it!! He’s had enough. He goes out the door. We hear this: CAWWWW! THUD! ERK!!! (DOWNWARD WHISTLE, PLOP!)

He comes back in (with one missing shoe – it’s obvious by his limp that he took off his shoe and hurled it at the crow.) He settles back into the chair. Gruffly, he grabs the book. A moment into the reading and WHIRRRRRRRRRRRR, here comes HIS WIFE vacuuming the living room. He stands up, reaches over to the machine, and gestures for her to flip the switch off.

She reacts – hostile – nagging him, but instead of sounding like a female voice, it sounds like a JUNGLE OR ZOO, OR A FIGHT BETWEEN WILD ANIMALS, shrieks and hooting, maniacal barking, etc., rising above the sound of the vacuum. The noise is so loud, we can’t make out what they are saying, but it’s clear from the exchange that he pleads with her to leave the room so he can read. She gives a “whatever” flip of her head, turns on her heel and exits, the WHIRRING fades.

Almost immediately, in come TWO KIDS, playing tag, dodging each other, darting in and out around Herman. Instead of hearing their voices, we hear the sounds of an OLD WEST STAMPEDE, WITH BUGLES BLOWING, HORSES GALLOPING, ETC. He gestures to the kids pointing to the book and implying “Get out, I’m trying to read!” They leave, still making noise – it fades.

He’s just about to sit on the cushion in the chair when the DOORBELL RINGS, ACCOMPANIED BY INCESSANT KNOCKING. He opens the door, and in breezes a DOOR TO DOOR SALESPERSON, spreading out a DISPLAY CASE and showing her samples – all different types of toilet brushes, rubber gloves, and household implements – instead of hearing her talk, we’re hearing a mixture of noises from TRAFFIC JAM AND POLICE SIRENS INTERCUT WITH THE SOUNDS OF A CASH REGISTER.

Herman moves away, the salesperson follows him; Herman gestures “NO!” and the salesperson pulls out another round of samples. There’s an awkward dance as Herman tries to indicate that he’s not interested, but the salesperson is oblivious. Herman grabs the salesperson’s samples and briefcase, throwing them out the door, and then pushes the salesperson out the door too, and pause a beat and throws his shoe out after her. He looks around. Cups his hand to his ear, listening for something, anything. No sound. He smiles broadly, satisfied.

Herman moves to the chair, with a flourish, he settles into the seat, adjust his pillow ever-so-gently, and with great relish, opens the book. He reads for a moment, and THEN…

THE NOISE OF A HOUSEFLY BUZZES INTO THE ROOM, he swats at it, THE BUZZING DASHES AWAY, he swats again, looking for the fly, (the book is open on his lap) — the BUZZING COMES AND GOES SUGGESTING THE FLIGHT PATH, as Herman swats and waves. He smashes his palm down on the end table after the fly, and the BUZZING STOPS. He holds it there a moment, grins, then releases his hand, the fly zooms away, Arrggh!! and THE BUZZING RESUMES. Agitated, Herman swats and tosses, swings and punches at the air, THE BUZZING CONTINUES.

Suddenly, THE BUZZING SLOWS TO A SIMPLE HUM, and he notices, in front of him in the open book, it’s the fly. He cautiously moves his hands into position, grips the sides carefully, and …

… SLAMS THE BOOK SHUT!

 

FADE TO BLACK.