A Wholesome Autumn Picnic
By Chase Pucini
Susan played by Catherine Freud
Calvin played by Kenneth Kim
Jason Smith played by Jason “The Cunt” Smith
CALVIN This is a wonderful day for a picnic…
SUSAN Agreed. So many birds are singing. And the breeze through the trees…
JASON I’m bored. Someone change the subject. Now.
SUSAN I have a surprise for you guys.
SUSAN reveals a Pyrex container of cookies from her bag.
SUSAN When I told my mom about our picnic, she whipped up a dozen cookies.
CALVIN Oh my gosh! Your mom is amazing. She loves you so much.
JASON Meh… she’s okay. A dozen isn’t that many. She could’ve easily made two dozen. Or, better yet, use your dad’s money from the divorce proceedings to bribe the NYU drama department into casting you for every single leading role, leaving your close friend Chase to pick from the scraps and become a starving, invisible writer while mommy buys you an unearned spot in the limelight.
SUSAN Are you saying my mom doesn’t love me?
JASON Oh, no! Of course she loves you. Her hormones force her to love you. She doesn’t even have a choice in the matter. I’m just saying that, in the grand scheme of
things, some mothers are better than others.
JASON and CALVIN each snatch a cookie from the Pyrex. JASON chokes briefly and coughs.
SUSAN leaps up to help, but JASON swiftly sucker punches her kneecap so that she sits back down. He then pulls a cutting board and saran-wrapped pufferfish out of his backpack.
CALVIN takes a bite of his cookie and begins to speak.
CALVIN Hey guys… do you ever feel like you don’t actually matter?
SUSAN glances up to share a meaningful gaze with CALVIN. JASON starts to sharpen a hefty kitchen knife.
SUSAN What do you mean?
CALVIN I don’t know… I guess sometimes I’m just nervous that no one actually cares about me… that people just let me come along because they don’t even care enough to dislike me. I’m just floating here until I die, and I’ll leave no mark. Just fade into nothingness.
JASON averts his eyes from his knife to look at CALVIN.
SUSAN & JASON Wow…
SUSAN …that’s not true…
JASON …your insecurities are cliché. No wonder you’re worried you’re fading into the background—even your emotional turmoil is unoriginal. You should really try and develop a personality before everyone finally gets bored and leaves you.
JASON switches his focus to the pufferfish lying on his cutting board and begins to make incisions. Slightly north of the pufferfish sits JASON’s iPad reading: “Wikihow: Preparing Fugu.”
JASON It’s like I always tell my screenwriter friend: your wife is never going to respect you unless you disregard your emotions and cater yourself to the lowest common denominator. That’s what I did and look at me! He’s all about artistic honesty and what does that buy him? Sure, all of our mutual friends—including his high school crush Linda who never made a move but everyone knows there was a spark there so if you’re watching this Linda please reach out I’d love to meet up for coffee or something—may rave about how he’s such a funny and intelligent guy, yet his wife loves me way more than him! An egotistical troglodyte. The fact is, no one appreciates sensitive artist types, even though they have large dicks and mine is very, very small.
CALVIN gasps. JASON sets down his knife, stares directly through the fourth wall, and lifts a sign reading “Linda—I kept my high school email. Shoot me a message.” CALVIN’s bottom lip begins to tremble.
CALVIN Am I really that boring?
JASON nods his head, only half listening. He lifts the knife back up to continue meal prep.
SUSAN starts to speak a couple times but cuts herself off to ponder. Eventually, she shakes her head, as if clearing it.
SUSAN It’s weirdly warm for autumn.
JASON Some would say it’s global warming. I’m not sure I buy into the hype, though.
JASON’s knife slips inside the pufferfish. He shrugs and pulls out a sliver.
SUSAN I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of evidence that—
JASON —But for the sake of the thought experiment, I wrote a poem about it:
JASON, whilst eating his freshly-prepared fugu.
Hark! The bluebird sings:
What is that shiny thing?
The sun! O! The sun!
It shines like some other planet’s sun.
It gives us shiny light
But burns us alive
JASON Thanks for asking! I don’t think I believe in ‘true love’. Everyone says you can’t really love others until you love yourself, but I love myself a lot and don’t think I’ve ever felt “love” or “compassion” or “empathy” for anyone else. I prefer to just fuck my best friend Chase’s wife for thirteen years until the circumstances of our affair are revealed on said friend’s baba’s funeral as his casket is being laid in the ground. But, yeah, that proves love isn’t possible—by the transitive property, I think.
JASON Time for me to go. And no, I don’t plan to do any lines over, because I don’t care about artistic integrity. Who has my paycheck? I’m throwing a party on my friend’s yacht. He doesn’t know about the party. I’m just friends with him for the boat. I like to use people.
SUSAN looks up at JASON was a blank smile. CALVIN rests his face I his palms, the sound of sniffling rising from him and echoing through the silence of the stage.
JASON Anyway, thanks for the free lunch, you dolts.
JASON walks through the picnic spread, stepping on every single peanut butter and jelly sandwich triangle, including the ones without crust.
Once JASON is off screen, SUSAN, still smiling, stares blankly into space.
SUSAN This was nice.
JASON returns silently, picks up Susan’s Pyrex of cookies, open it, and spits onto them. He then dropkicks the entire container and prowls away.