You Should Live and Be Well
By Tom Bostock
The scene is a New York bakery with a table, 3 chairs, 3 coffee cups, a tray, and a portable heater. Ira Kaufman, the slightly pudgy bakery owner is just letting two strangers, Dr. Chief and Dr. Abo, two eminent geologists, dressed in heavy winter coats, in, out of a massive blizzard after their rental car crashed into a sign and they had been walking aimlessly for hours in the storm.
IRA: Come in, come in already. You should live and be well. Sit, sit, a table and some chairs I got.
(Sitting down Chief and Abo remove their heavy jackets, shoes and wet socks, warming their feet by the space heater.)
IRA: (noticing their bare feet by the heater) What are you, a couple a schmedricks? Too close (pointing to the heater) you shouldn’t get. You want your toes should fall off?
(Both men pull their feet away from the heater)
ABO: Right now, I would give anything for a brickhouse (referring to a hot dry Australian wind)
IRA: So, a bakery ain’t good enough for you, now a schmuck I am?
ABO: No, I didn’t say that. I am from Australia and a brickhouse is a hot, dry wind that blows across of the southern part of my country. We, Dr. Chief and I, can’t thank you enough for your hospitality. We …
IRA: (interrupting him before he has a chance to finish.) A warm place I got. So, what, you think I’m a shlemeil, I should let you stay out in this meshugena slop? So, what’s your shtick? You should live and be well. Ira the baker here, so how’s by youse?
CHIEF: My friend and I are geologists on our first trip to New York. He is Dr. Abo from Australia and I am Dr. Chief from New Mexico. We met on one of his rock sites and decided to visit New York while he is still in this country. We got trapped by the storm when our rental car skidded into a sign post.
IRA: Mazel Tov. A pair of docs, I got. Mama would be so proud, she should live and be well.
(Ira studies both men carefully.)
IRA: (ignoring the previous conversation about where the men originate) So, youse a wetback and you skinny friend, he should eat and be well, is from India?
(Abo shakes his head, unsure where the ethnic choices came from.)
CHIEF: Dr. Abo is an aborigine from Australia, a native Australian and I am an Indian, more specifically, a native American.
IRA: And youse both GEO-LI-JISTS? (Ira emphasizes each syllable.) So, what means dis?
CHIEF: We study rocks and other minerals.
IRA: Vitamins too?
CHIEF: No, just minerals.
IRA: I got it. Youse docs, so you study sick rocks.
(Chief defers to Abo.)
ABO: No Ira. It’s a little more complicated than that. I studied at Eton in England and then matriculated at Harvard University here in the US to refine my knowledge of minerals.
IRA: (looks blankly, then adds) Did you get any of that matriculating stuff on ya? I bet a good stain it could give ya. Vinegar you should try. Like magic.
ABO: (looks at the ceiling and quietly surrenders) Your turn, Chief.
CHIEF: We study rocks and their substrates.
IRA: (At substrates, he responds) Subways we got. Three blocks from here, but, a dogsled you gonna need!
CHIEF: (holds up his hands in surrender) Yeah, that’s it Ira.
IRA: (gets up and begins to walk stage right) You wanna nosh? Some strudel or maybe a nice apple turnover, I should get you? Them’s I got in spades, you should live and be well. Shmooze, schmooze. Comin right up.
CHIEF: Great Ira. Why don’t you just surprise us.
(Ira exits stage right)
CHIEF (turning to Abo, still shaking his head) We could always go back out into the snow and freeze. Does any of this remind you of nails or squeaky chalk on a chalkboard.?
ABO: No Chief, I’m actually enjoying this. He’s a great guy, taking in two strangers. It’s like biting into a real slice of Americana. Except in Ira’s case, it would be a slab!
CHIEF: Yeah or a chunk.
(Both men laugh.)
(Ira returns, stage right, with a platter of pastry.)
IRA: I knowed youse was hungry when you was talking about eatin’. I heard youse guts makin noises.
(Chief and Abo turn and stare at each other.)
ABO: (snapping his fingers in realization) No, Ira Eton is a …. Oh, never mind.
(The three now friends, heads together, talk throughout the night.)
IRA: Youse saved. Dat noise? Dem’s snowplows. (pointing stage right).
ABO: (to Chief) I’m calling an Uber. We can share one final ride to the airport.
CHIEF: Sounds good to me.
(Moments later the Uber arrives)
(The three men stand up from the table, pushing back their chairs).
IRA: It was nice havin’ you. Was it nice bein had?
ABO: This has been, to say the least, unusual.
CHIEF: Unforgettable, my friend. (Agreeing)
(The three men shake hands and walk stage right. Abo and Chief walk off stage.)
IRA: (calling to the men offstage) Careful, you should be with the stairs and the ice and all. I don’t want I should have to call you no ambulance.
IRA and ABO (offstage and in unison) We’re good, (followed by a loud thud)
IRA: You want I should call youse an ambulance? (chuckling) Okay. Youse an ambulance! And …
IRA and ABO: (in unison) We know IRA. We should live and be well.