[He materializes outside a lowly cottage and strikes the door with his scythe. Geoffrey, who is Marketing Director of Uro-Pacific Ltd, opens the door. From inside the house comes the sound of a dinner party.]
[Pause. The Reaper breathes death-rattlingly.]
Is it about the hedge?
Look, I’m awfully sorry but…
Grim Reaper: I am the Grim Reaper.
I am Death.
Geoffrey: Yes well, the thing is, we’ve got some people from
America for dinner tonight…
[Geoffrey’s wife, Angela is coming to see who is at the door. She calls:]
Angela: Who is it, darling?
Geoffrey: It’s a Mr Death or something… he’s come about the reaping…
[To Reaper.] I don’t think we need any at the moment.
Angela: [appearing] Hallo. Well don’t leave him hanging around
outside darling, ask him in.
Geoffrey: Darling, I don’t think it’s quite the moment…
Angela: Do come in, come along in, come and have a drink, do.
[She returns to her guests.]
It’s one of the little men from the village… Do come in, please.
This is Howard Katzenberg from Philadelphia…
Angela: And his wife, Debbie.
Debbie: Hallo there.
Angela: And these are the Portland-Smythes, Jeremy and Fiona.
Fiona: Good evening.
Angela: This is Mr Death.
[There is a slightly awkward pause.]
Well do get Mr Death a drink, darling.
[The Grim Reaper looks a little startled.]
Angela: Mr Death is a reaper.
Grim Reaper: The Grim Reaper.
Angela: Hardly surprising in this weather, ha ha ha…
Katzenberg: So you still reap around here do you, Mr Death?
Grim Reaper: I am the Grim Reaper.
Geoffrey: [sotto voce] That’s about all he says… [Loudly]
There’s your drink, Mr Death.
Angela: Do sit down.
Debbie: We were just talking about some of the awful problems
facing the –
[The Grim Reaper knocks the glass off the table. Startled silence.]
Angela: Would you prefer white? I’m afraid we don’t have any beer.
Jeremy: The Stilton’s awfully good.
Grim Reaper: I am not of this world.
[He walks into the middle of the table. There is a sharp intake of breath all round.]
Geoffrey: Good Lord!
[The penny is beginning to drop.]
Grim Reaper: I am Death.
Debbie: [nervously] Well isn’t that extraordinary?
We were just talking about death only five minutes ago.
Angela: [even more nervously] Yes we were.
You know, whether death is really… the end…
Debbie: As my husband, Howard here, feels… or whether there is…
and one so hates to use words like ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’…
Jeremy: But what *other* words can one use…
Grim Reaper: You do not understand.
Debbie: Ah no… obviously not…
Katzenberg: Let me tell you something, Mr Death…
Grim Reaper: You do not understand!
Katzenberg: Just one moment. I would like to express on behalf of
everyone here, what a really unique experience this is…
Jeremy: Hear hear.
Angela: Yes, we’re *so* delighted that you dropped in, Mr Death…
Katzenberg: Can I finish please…
Debbie: Mr Death… is there an after-life?
Katzenberg: Dear, if you could just wait please a moment…
Angela: Are you sure you wouldn’t like some sherry?
Katzenberg: Angela, I’d like just to say at this time…
Grim Reaper: Be quiet!
Katzenberg: Can I just say this at this time, please…
Grim Reaper: Silence!!! I have come for you.
[Pause as this sinks in. Sidelong glance. A stifled fart.]
Angela: … You mean to…
Grim Reaper: … Take you away. That is my purpose. I am Death.
Geoffrey: Well that’s cast rather a gloom over the evening hasn’t it?
Katzenberg: I don’t see it that way, Geoff. Let me tell you what I think
we’re dealing with here, a potentially positive learning
Grim Reaper: Shut up! Shut up you American. You always talk, you
Americans, you talk and you talk and say ‘Let me tell
you something’ and ‘I just wanna say this’, Well you’re
dead now, so shut up.
Grim Reaper: Dead.
Angela: All of us??
Grim Reaper: All of you.
Geoffrey: Now look here. You barge in here, quite uninvited, break glasses
and then announce quite casually that we’re all dead.
Well I would remind you that you are a guest in this house and…
[The Grim Reaper pokes him in the eye.]
Grim Reaper: Be quiet! You Englishmen… You’re all so fucking pompous
and none of you have got any balls.
Debbie: Can I ask you a question?
Grim Reaper: What?
Debbie: … How can we all have died at the *same* time?
Grim Reaper: [pointing] The salmon mousse! [They all goggle.]
Geoffrey: [to Angela] Darling, you didn’t use tinned salmon did you?
Angela: [unbelievably embarrassed] I’m most dreadfully embarrassed…
Grim Reaper: Now, the time has come. Follow… follow me…
[Geoffrey suddenly runs forward with a revolver. He looses four shots at the Grim Reaper from about three feet. They pass through him. Pause. Everyone is rather embarrassed.]
Geoffrey: Sorry… Just… testing… Sorry… [He sits.]
Grim Reaper: Come!
[Out of their bodies, spirit forms arise and follow the Grim Reaper.]
Angela: The fishmonger promised me he’d have some fresh salmon
and he’s normally *so* reliable…
Jeremy: Can we bring our glasses?
Fiona: Good idea.
Debbie: Hey I didn’t even eat the mousse…
[They follow the Grim Reaper out of the house.]
Angela: Honestly, darling, I’m so embarrassed… I mean to serve salmon
with botulism at a dinner party is social death…