The 3 Men
SCENE: Three men (strangers to one another) are seated at separate corners of the stage (a tavern setting with a hearth). One of the men (MAN 1) rises from his seat to crack the window. Another man (MAN 2), seated closest to the fire, thanks MAN 1 before returning to his reading. The man farthest away from the warmth (MAN 3), seated pensively, appears to be dissecting something in his mind. The man who had opened the window to air out the room (MAN 1), once returning to his corner, recommences his writing, dropping a coin from his pocket.
MAN 1: (looks to the fallen coin, waiting patiently for the coin to settle.) (turns to MAN 2.) If it’s a tails, I’ll buy you a beer. If it’s a heads, you buy one for me?
MAN 2: (ponders.) Deal.
(MAN 1 retrieves the coin from the floor, smiles, then shows the result to MAN 2, who nods in agreement. MAN 2 goes to the bar and orders three beers.)
MAN 2: (returning.) Well, that was rather fun. (hands a beer to MAN 1, fulfilling the bet; then hands the remaining beer to MAN 3 out of courtesy.) Shall we continue?
MAN 3: (placing his book face down on the table.) Continue?
MAN 2: I believe it is safe to say that we strangers are in this room for a reason – what other reason than to continue?
MAN 1: (energetically.) Continue we shall! (pauses.) Or shall we flip this here coin? (countenance of MAN 2 encourages a coin toss; man 3 appears to be uncertain.) Well then, gentlemen – heads, we continue (looks to MAN 3.), that is, if you wish to partake.
MAN 3: We shall let the coin decide. (pauses.) If it is heads, we shall continue.
MAN 1: (flips the coin, retrieves it from the floor, grins, then reveals the result (heads) to the other men.) (smiling.) Well, it seems we are to continue.
(The men make a toast. They then gather their belongings upon exiting.)
SCENE: Melancholy winter afternoon. The men walk side-by-side a bare and moody street until coming upon a beggar.
MAN 1: (gesturing to the beggar.) Heads, you give that beggar your coat.
MAN 2: But it is freezing outside.
MAN 1: Let us depend on the coin. The coin will guide us as we continue. The coin is now the path.
(MAN 1 flips coin: tails.)
MAN 2: (nestling into his coat.) Thank God.
MAN 1: Are you a praying man then, fellow?
MAN 2: I’ve been baptized.
MAN 1: I also. (looks to man 3.) And what about you?
MAN 3: I’ve been to church.
MAN 1: (broods a moment, scratching at his beard.) Well – heads, we each retract our belief in God.
MAN 2: (vehemently.) Are you mad?
MAN 1: (calmly.) We all chose to continue.
MAN 2: That is true.
MAN 3: Yes, true indeed.
(Coin is tossed by MAN 1; all watch the coin in the air; all hurriedly hunch in unison to see the result: heads. The men rise in unison. MAN 2 and MAN 3 look to MAN 1.)
MAN 1: We are now godless, gentleman.
MAN 2: But who will I now pray to?
MAN 1: I suppose the coin is now our God.
MAN 2: It is a rather nice coin.
MAN 1: God is the coin. (pauses; looks to coin and rubs it.) Now, gentlemen, let us continue.
(The men walk the street side-by-side until coming upon a bank. The men stop, huddle, and whisper. Following an agreement, MAN 1 flips the coin from inside the huddle. They each look at the result, then follow MAN 1 – who picks up the coin – into the bank.)
SCENE: Bank lobby. Present are a man and woman being served and a well-built security guard at the door. Abreast the security guard is a couch serving as a waiting seat. Enter men.
MAN 1: Tails, we rob this bank for all its worth.
(MAN 1 flips the coin poorly and it skips across the lobby, nestling itself beneath the sofa by the security guard. The retrieval of the coin requires MAN 1 to near hyper-extend his arm upon all fours with his face touching the floor. The security guard observes.)
MAN 1: (returning.) Fault?
MAN 2 & MAN 3: Agreed.
MAN 1: Gentlemen, I have a proposition . . . In the future, I believe the coin should be flipped, caught, and then turned onto the back of one’s hand to avoid the re-occurring of such a tedious event. (pauses; looks at coin; plays with the coin in hand.) Also, I believe the power of God should be shared, with each man taking a turn performing the coin toss. (looks up from the coin.) Deal?
MAN 2 & MAN 3: Agreed.
MAN 2: Did you see what it was?
MAN 1: It was tails . . . However, a fault is a fault.
MAN 2: Yes, you’re right.
MAN 3: Indeed.
SCENE: Night has fallen. The street is empty. Men walk side-by-side until coming upon a casino. The men huddle and whisper. MAN 1 flips the coin using the new agreed-upon method. The men enter the casino, returning swiftly with money bags. The men, all smiles, recommence walking, coming upon a tavern. The men huddle and whisper. Ceremoniously, MAN 1 hands the coin to MAN 2. MAN 2 flips the coin. The men enter the tavern, returning speedily bereft of their money bags and drunk. The night-time breeze has become much more biting. The men pull their coats tight while walking and speaking nonsense. MAN 3 begins sniffling. Chance would have it that it was his turn to flip the coin.
MAN 3: Heads, we enter that home there. (points in the distance.)
MAN 2: (squints eyes.) Which home?
MAN 1: Yes, which one exactly?
MAN 3: That one there. (points in the distance.) The one with the chimney breathing as though it were a dragon. It’ll be warm in there . . . I don’t want to catch a cold. (sniffles.)
MAN 1: Right. Well, give her a toss.
(MAN 3 flips the coin and smiles at the result. The men enter the home.)
SCENE: A nice family home, warm atmosphere – soup upon the stove. Within the home are a husband and wife and their daughter. Enter men.
HUSBAND: (indignantly.) What is it you want? Why have you barged into our home uninvited? MAN 3: (showing the coin.) This here coin has permitted our entry. (kisses the coin then passes it to MAN 1.)
HUSBAND: Coin? What do you mean, coin? Are you mad?
MAN 3: The coin is the path, and we must continue.
(HUSBAND at once comes to the realization the three men are insane. He goes nervously for his revolver.)
MAN 1: Heads, we take the revolver off him. Tails, we let him kill us.
(HUSBAND stops still, in shock from hearing how the three strange men spoke. HUSBAND turns to MAN 1. The coin is flipped high in the air; as if a sculpture, transfixed, HUSBAND watches the coin flutter within its flight. The coin orders the men to strip HUSBAND of his weapon. MAN 1 tosses the coin to MAN 2.)
MAN 2: Heads, we rape the daughter.
(The coin does not permit it. MAN 2 passes the coin to MAN 3.)
MAN 3: Tails, we rape the wife.
(The coin has other plans. MAN 3 tosses the coin to MAN 1.)
MAN 1: Heads, we kill ourselves.
(The coin owns the power to say no. MAN 1 tosses the coin to MAN 2.)
MAN 2: Tails, we leave.
(The coin does not allow the three men to depart. MAN 2 tosses the coin to MAN 3.)
HUSBAND: (sweating bullets.) Gentlemen, I believe each of you is utterly mad to let a coin dictate your actions. Please, leave us. We are peaceful, God-fearing people.
MAN 1: We are also God-fearing.
MAN 2: Indeed we are. Our God is this here coin. (shows the coin to HUSBAND.)
MAN 3: The coin is our God.
HUSBAND: God is not but a coin. (glances at wife and child who are shaking with fear.) (vehemently.) Please, please, leave us.
MAN 3: We shall continue and let the coin decide. Heads, we leave. Tails, we stay. (flips the coin, then reveals the result (tails) of his now excellent toss to the room.) It seems our God has something to reveal to us here in your home. Otherwise, we would not still be present. We do not choose our path. (passes the coin to MAN 1.)
HUSBAND: (nervously.) Madness! Madness! All three of you! Mad! God is in the heavens, you fools!
MAN 1: (physiognomy expresses an important thought has arisen.) Heads, I shall speak. (The coin offers MAN 1 the stage. Stage spotlight illuminates MAN 1.) The heavens, the aloft beyond, a mystical wonder no doubt. But what about the persons who see wonder below? Have you forgotten about us? (stage spotlight diminishes slowly. MAN 1 hands the coin to MAN 2.)
HUSBAND: What is this devilish speech?! You must part from that coin, or you will ruin yourselves!
MAN 2: Man is ruined. The coin is the path.
MAN 1 & MAN 3: The path! (pause.) The path!
MAN 2: (looks into the coin as though it possesses eyes.) Heads, I kill all three of them. The mother, the husband, and the child. (MAN 2 smoothly flips the coin. MAN 2 condones a protracted investigation of the result. Shows no one.) The coin was always going to land on whichever side it did land. Therefore, my killing you all with this here revolver is not of my doing but that the of the coin.
MAN 1: The doing of God!
MAN 3: Of God!
(The revolver does not misfire.)