I've written comic sketches ever since I was in grade school. Some have been performed at Rochester's Fringe Festival and Writers & Books. A couple have won awards from Rochester Movie Makers.

Here's one example: Unassisted Living. It's dedicated to my mother, Patricia Watson Shaw, a woman who would not let her increasing, age-related infirmities cramp her style.

I'm moving on to feature-length screenplay projects now.  But there was a time in my life when my dream job was to write for SNL. 

P.S. Thanks to Richard C. Harrington for the use of his sketchbook. And if you're not familiar with his amazing paintings, visit http://www.richardcharrington.com.

Go ahead. You have time.

***

Unassisted Living

Marlene--an old woman in her 80s--lies sleeping in a recliner, covered by several blankets. A small table nearby is covered with pills bottles in a state of disarray. There’s a knock at the door.

MAN (O.S.)

           Mom?

BOB and DEBRA—a couple in their mid-40s—enter hesitantly. They glance at each other with concern.

BOB

           Mom?

DEBRA

            Shhh. I think she’s sleeping.

Marlene snaps her head up, startled. She looks around, confused.

MARLENE

Who’s there! Captain Kirk?

The young man and woman look at each other again. The young man gives a barely noticeable shake to his head.

BOB

Mom, it’s me…Your son…Bob.

MARLENE

My son Bob?

BOB

Yes. Your son Bob.

MARLENE

Well, I don’t have any other sons but Bob. So who else could it be?

DEBRA

I’m here too, Marlene.

MARLENE

You too?

DEBRA

Yes, it’s me, Debra.

MARLENE

Of course it’s you Debra. Who else would be hanging out with Bob? Unless he’s having an affair or something. And Bob. You’d better not be having an affair. You’re not old enough.

BOB

Mom, we can only stay a few minutes. But I wanted to see you…We heard about your fall….They called us.

MARLENE

Yeh, well, I can’t feel my feet. And I turned around too fast. It was only a few stitches.

BOB

They said it was fifty stitches, Mom. 

MARLENE

At my age, fifty is a small number.

BOB

You gotta be careful, Mom. You gotta hold on to things when you’re moving around. You gotta use your walker…

MARLENE

I use it most of the time. Whenever I feel like using it…

BOB

You need to use it all the time, Mom.

MARLENE

I said I use it most of the time. What are you trying to do? Sell walkers?

DEBRA

Marlene, while I’m here, would you like me to help you set up your pillbox for the week?

MARLENE

Do I look like I need help setting up my pillbox?

DEBRA

No, of course not. I just thought…

MARLENE

You know, I’m an old woman with a bad heart, bad feet, one useless arm, failing kidneys, and my back hurts all day long. But I’m not stupid. And I still know the days of the week. (PAUSE) Bingo Day. Movie Day. Balloon Volleyball Day…

DEBRA

Well, if you ever need help, I’ll come right over. I’ll be happy to do it. I’m not traveling that much now at work. And besides, your doctor says it’s really important to take all your medicine…

MARLENE

I’m thinking of selling it. I bet I could make good money around here as a pusher.   

BOB

No, Mom. We’re serious. You’ve got to use your walker. You’ve got to take your medicine. And I know it’s getting harder for you to read. So maybe I should come over and help you pay your bills and balance your checkbook. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about those things anymore.

MARLENE

And if I don’t worry about those things, what do you want me to worry about? Gunslingers from outer space?

BOB

We don’t want you to worry about anything. We just want you to…enjoy life.

Marlene suddenly sits up as if startled. She leans forward and squints her eyes, staring at her son as if she doesn’t recognize him, only inches from his face. Then she looks at her daughter-in-law.

She opens her mouth in what appears to be a serious  state of confusion. Then she drops her head back against the recliner, closes her eyes and lets out a monstrous snore.

Bob and Donna look at each other in surprise.

DEBRA

Is she OK?

BOB

She’s all right. It just happens sometimes. I’ll be talking to her, and she’ll just fall asleep, just like that. Come on. Let’s go home. I’ll come back tomorrow and check on her.

Bob and Debra get up and leave, trying not to make a sound. The door closes slowly then there’s the final click of the latch.

The room is silent, except for Marlene’s breathing. Then she snaps one eye wide open and twists her head from side to side, looking around.

She sees the coast is clear and reaches under her blanket, pulling out an air horn. She lets out a powerful blast, loud enough to fill up a stadium. Then she struggles to get to her feet.

MARLENE (shouting)

Let’s boogie!

A group of aging seniors rushes into the room, limping and pushing walkers. One woman’s in a wheelchair. They’re wearing plastic party hats and carrying balloons.

One man, bent forward at the waist, is carrying a boombox. He hits a button and the room fills with disco music. Strobe lights flash in time with the music.

MARLENE

Boy, I thought they’d never leave.

The seniors start to dance, showing off their moves.

OLD MAN

Get down Marlene!

MARLENE

I am getting down, Carl. Mind your own business.

Blackout.