A 10-Minute One Act Play

Best Practice

By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2008 Geralyn Horton

MARION CRADDITCH an old woman, quite sick
EVELYN BIDDICK, a social worker, 30-50
Neither of these characters is necessarily caucasian

A hospital room. MARION CRADDITCH is in bed, hooked up to various tubes and drips. . EVELYN, a medical social worker, is at the door, making sure the coast is clear for her to talk to MARIAN in private.

MARION: Where's Melissa? My daughter’s supposed to be here by now.

EVELYN: Your family is waiting downstairs. We have some things to talk about and we really should have privacy.

MARION: I want Melissa!

EVELYN: The nurse just checked your drips, didn’t she? Looks like they’re full.

MARION:  They're full, all right. But what the hell are they full OF?

EVELYN: This one is glucose. To build up your strength.

MARION: Sugar water at 200 bucks a pop. Big business. Are you drugging me?

EVELYN: No painkillers. The doctor ordered them stopped for an hour. So you can answer my questions and take the tests.

MARION: No tests! Where's my daughter? Where's my son-in-law?

EVELYN: The rule is that-

MARION: It's my rights you're talking about, bitch! Pet murderer. How many dogs have you had killed, would you say?

EVELYN: I’m trying to talk to you about the law! You may think that you don't have to listen, that you don't have to answer questions. But you do.

MARION: I won't put up with it. You've harassed me and harassed me.

EVELYN: But Marion! How have I harassed you? Tell me; how?

MARION: Calling the cops, for a start. Bossing my family around. I want my daughter! She's the one who does what I tell her I want-- not some damn other thing !

EVELYN: I'm trying to figure out how to explain to you, why it is that we're involved. 

MARION: Right! "Explain" to me! But not let my family catch on to what you're up to!

EVELYN: When you were bought into the hospital you were pretty sick, and I-- Well, we've already talked about how doctors thought you were going to die. Remember?

MARION: Better die, than let you torture me. Plus call the police down on my family?-- what the hell kind of help is that!?!

EVELYN: We got involved because there are some folks who have concerns about how sick you'd gotten. And about the terrible way the house looked when they went in to bring you to the hospital. Okay?

MARION:  Well, my God! You never seen a messy house? How about yours?

EVELYN: It doesn't look anything like what you live in!

MARION: That's right. Pour on the insults. Humiliate me.

EVELYN: I just want to sit down and show you the pictures, and ask you about how-

MARION: Shove your f-ing pictures! Who the hell are you to take pictures? Of my house?

EVELYN: Okay, that's fine. But the conditions. Your room. When's the last time you…?

MARION: Oh, bullshit! My room!? Where's the pictures of yours?

EVELYN: I don't--

MARION: Of course you don't. A “nice” lady like you don't have to prove anything!

EVELYN: The things we're concerned about... Mice, for instance.

MARION: Oh, dear. Did you catch a bunch of mice?

EVELYN: No we didn't catch them, but we-- we saw the droppings.

MARION: Isn't that sweet. Did you sweep them up in little plastic evidence bags?

EVELYN: I just wish you weren’t living with rodents. Or cockroaches, or piles of dog feces--

MARION: Don't tell me how to live! This is a free country.

EVELYN: Well, you know… you had vomit all over your face, and vomit all down your side, and you were lying in your own feces. And not just at that moment. There was every sign that you’d been lying in filth for a long time. That’s why my department--

MARION: What I do is none of your damn business!

EVELYN: Well, the court has the power to say. And, they will probably rule that you can't go back to those conditions. 

MARION: Can you do that to me? keep me from going home? (EVELYN nods) Well, I'll go some place else-

EVELYN: Where would you like to go? I can help you.

MARION: I'd rather go to hell. You're a lying scheming dog murderer.

EVELYN: All right, all right. Let's talk about the dog.

MARION: What dog?

EVELYN: You asked me how many dogs I'd killed.


EVELYN: Now, I didn't do anything to your dog.

MARION: I don't have a dog.

EVELYN: Is it Melissa's dog?

MARION: Well, it's not mine. I've never owned a dog.

EVELYN: Not your dog?

MARION: Nope. Never. Had six cats one time. Or was it a couple of sick cats? With nine lives?

EVELYN: It was the police officers who called animal control. The dog was tied up, couldn't get to food and water.  I didn't have anything to do with it.

MARION: Isn't it great how everybody has a job to do? Breaking in to my house! Destroying-- somebody's-- Best Friend. Aren't you proud?

EVELYN: All I did was to go before the Judge and get an order. Okay? 

MARION: Housebreaker!

EVELYN: We knocked on the door for, like, 15 minutes! Then the locksmith opened the door, we took our pictures, and left.  Animal control was just pulling up. I wasn't even there. Now will you listen, please? There's, um, there's some tests that we have to get done before--

MARION:  Not with me you don't!

EVELYN: Your doctors need the results. They need to figure out if.. um…if you are understanding what's going on around you.

MARION: Well, Mrs. Ma'am, I sure am!

EVELYN: You're pretty pissed at me, so I guess you understand that part.

MARION:  You bet I do.

EVELYN: Well… given the condition you were in…they're concerned.

MARION:  Bullshit! Can I say bullshit?

EVELYN: Well, you can say anything you want to me. You're entitled to your opinion.

MARION:  You stick your nose where it's not wanted. That's my opinion.

EVELYN: Well, my opinion is, we have good reason. Do you realize what it means that you lost your swallow ability? If you don't get it back within the next day or two, you’ll need a tube put into your stomach.

MARION:  You're making this up.

EVELYN:  A tube is surgically put in, and, and it...uh... comes out your stomach and there's tubes and stuff on the outside. You'd have to go to skilled nursing care.   There was the possibility that Melissa could care for you. But not once we’d seen the house.  One look at these pictures, and No Way!

MARION:  F-! your pictures! (knocks pictures out of EVELYN’s hand) Wherever I go, my daughter goes right along with me!

EVELYN: (gathering the pictures up) Well, that's fine. You know, your daughter can be…your daughter has only left the hospital once since you were brought in. We know how upset you get when she leaves. You don't know who to trust, or what the doctors are thinking.

MARION:  I don't trust any of you.

EVELYN: I know that. I knew that about you within the first five minutes. So you won’t look at the pictures, and Melissa doesn't want to answer my questions. Well, it doesn’t matter. The conditions are self-explanatory.  Do you want the nurse in to adjust your medication?

MARION: Don't give me any dope!

EVELYN: We let your pain medication wear off so that you could take the mental tests, but since you won't--

MARION: I'm not consenting to anything. No damn "truth serums" to trick me.

EVELYN: Wouldn't you rather be comfortable than--?

MARION: No, dammit! No!

EVELYN: So, the big question left hanging is, where do you go when you leave here?  Okay?  You do have the right to an attorney....

MARION:  You bet I'll have one! One of the best!

EVELYN: That's okay. Not everybody agrees with us when we get involved. But if the doctor says he wants you to go to a skilled nursing facility and you don't want to, then--.

MARION: I don't want to hear this! You people aren’t God!

EVELYN: Marion, when you came in you had a reddened area, with feces in it. The start of a bedsore. And now that you've been lying on your back that area is a bigger bedsore.  That's where we put cream on you.

MARION: What cream? You don't put any cream on me!

EVELYN: It's on the chart. That's care you're going to need later, too: besides dressing and bathing, and hair care, and all -

MARION:  How about I just die?

EVELYN: Nobody wants that.

MARION:  No! You want to hang to me until you've sucked every penny out of me and Medicare, and more from my family. You don't fool me.

EVELYN: We just want to make sure that you get the best care. Okay?  And I can tell you with complete certainty that it won't come from Melissa. It won't be Melissa.  Okay?

MARION:  You think you can take my daughter away?

EVELYN: That's not what I said. I just mean that she should not be the primary person. To get you clean and medicated.  Okay?  I know you’re angry--

MARION: Damn right I’m angry! If I could get my hands on a pistol, I'd shoot you dead.

EVELYN: That's okay. I told you early on that you can say anything you want to me and I... I'm not going to take it personally.  I’m doing what we believe is best for you. My guess is that you have no idea how bad your situation was.  Pretty hard to clean when you're in bed, right? When you're sick you may not even notice...

MARION:  Hard, sure. But don't blame my daughter. I love my daughter.

EVELYN: I know that you do. but assuming the doctors recommend skilled 24 hour nursing, the next step is to fill out an application for Medicaid. Okay?  You are not able to take care of yourself. If you say "no" to treatment, then I’ll go into court and get an order where a Judge says that you have to. I know you don't want to hear that, but Melissa can't be allowed-

MARION:  What the hell are you talking about?

EVELYN: You know what I've learned in doing my job for so long? It's that sometimes, an old person, people take advantage. I'm not saying that's what your daughter's doing. But I see it all the time. Old people taken advantage of by their families.

MARION: Melissa loves me! Once you people get your hooks in, you’ll never let go!

EVELYN: I'm just doing my job! After treatment, and therapy, who knows? Sometimes, people do come out and go home. But mostly they don't. So we have to plan. Okay? Now, I'm sorry it started out so badly, but--

MARION: Gimme a picture. (EVELYN looks puzzled) One of your evidence pictures. Of my room or my home or--

EVELYN: I've been trying to -- (offering all)

MARION: Just one! You can spare that! Plenty left to prove your "case".

EVELYN: Here. (MARION looks at picture)

MARION: My home. What a dump! It's gonna take getting used to, the idea that I can't--. It's my life! You see? My life. You shouldn't blame my daughter. I talk to her on the phone, all cheerful. Tell her I’m going out or taking a nap or just came back from the doctor's . You think I wanted Melissa to see my place? Like that? To see me like that? Can't a body die in peace, with a few shreds of dignity? Get the hell out of here. You've got me. I'm helpless. Just leave me alone, will you? Send my family away, too. I don’t want to see them. Just gimme an hour or so, will ya?. One blessed hour of peace, with nobody poking or pitying or passing judgment. (falls back on the bed and closes her eyes)

EVELYN: You have a nice rest now, Marion.

(When EVELYN leaves, MARION struggles to sit up. She rips out the drip tubes and pulls herself to a standing position, looking around fiercely for some way to take control of her death as the lights fade)


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