It’s that time of year when I like to share my history of Christmas in five 1-minute plays. Here’s another…
A Hotel Clerk Changes Christian History By Acting Like One, or, “Now What Goes UNDER the Tree?”
(A new comedy by Neil Simon Peter)
Lights up slowly on the lobby of small inn. Faded, chipped sign says, “Inn of Bethlehem.” Fresher, newer hand-painted sign – with misspelling — says, “Welcome Censis Travellers.”
Man behind desk leans back in chair, dozing. Young couple, Joseph and Mary, enter wearily. Young woman is extremely pregnant. They do not speak, but their noise upon entering startles the hotel clerk, who responds comically, knocking over cup. He grumbles and gripes as he reaches for a cloth to clean up the spill.
We are sorry.
Not as sorry as me. I have to tell you, we’re all booked.
Joseph & Mary are defeated, exhausted.
Everybody is full. (Sighs.) Can my wife at least sit for a moment?
Of course. Are you here for the census?
What else? Looks like it’s good for your business.
And bad for mine. I have twelve chairs to build. The wood is in Galilee. But I am here.
Mary becomes still. She has quickly fallen asleep. Both men notice and are quiet.
She’s at peace.(Pause.) My friend from Galilee, I have a little space in the back, if you don’t mind a friendly sheep or two…
Mary’s sleep deepens, her breathing is louder, nearly a snore. Joseph’s head hangs in weariness.
What am I saying! You’ll take my room. It’s the best in the inn.
The best? I have very little money.
Consider it an early Christmas present.
Lights fade with Mary’s rhythmic breathing the only sound against a backdrop of stillness.
See the other four 1-minute Christmas plays here.
Mark Morelli is a New York Times Bestseller reader.