The God Shop

The God Shop

I’ve had a bit of a mental paper jam, in that it appears I’m not to write anything of particular substance without first I should relieve myself of a play that’s been taking space in my head for the better part of two years, now. And so — tadaa! — I’m writing a play.

The following is *not* that play, but instead is a sketch that I tapped out in the course of testing the scriptwriting mode of the writing app I’ve taken to. It’s more than fair to say this piece has got a bit of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Sketch in its DNA, and a certain gleeful irreverence for the Sunday morning after the night before.

Enjoy.

CHARACTERS:
SHOPKEEPER, the proprietor of a typical storefront.
MARTY, a patron.

SETTING:
A typical, traditional English (or merry old New England) storefront. Prominent among its features is a wooden counter, behind which is found the SHOPKEEPER. It is mid-morning, on the Sabbath Day.

ACT I 

The SHOPKEEPER is cheerfully doing vaguely work-like actions behind the counter of The God Shop.

Enter MARTY. He is well-dressed, but nonetheless a dull-eyed, round-looking man.

MARTY.

Greetings. I’m shopping for a new god.

SHOPKEEPER

(Narrows his eyes.)

Say, you’re not dyslexic are ya?

MARTY

I beg your pardon?

SHOPKEEPER

Sorry. You wouldn’t believe. So, what sort of god might you be looking for?

MARTY

I’m not sure, really. I haven’t given it a tremendous lot of thought. Something sort of… traditional.

SHOPKEEPER

Traditional? There’s lots of traditions, mate. There’s the tradition of having a beer and a walk in the woods, trippin’ over a tree root and sayin’ “O me. I musta pissed off the tree god when I wee’ed over yonder.”

MARTY

(Pauses.)

I might have done…

SHOPKEEPER

And there’s the tradition of having too much beer and not enough tree roots and then it’s all “O god, o god, lemme get through this and I’ll ne’er drink so much again!”

MARTY

(Pales, visibly.)

Er. I was thinking something sort of Father Christmas like?

SHOPKEEPER

Rolly polly, big beard, lots of gifts sort of thing?

MARTY

Right!

SHOPKEEPER

Dime a dozen. Say… I can get you a great deal on a slightly used vengeance demon.

MARTY

No…

SHOPKEEPER

Elephant god?

MARTY

No. No, I’m in the market for something mainstream. An everyman’s sort of god.

SHOPKEEPER

Right. Well then, let’s scare up some details. What sort of belief system do you adhere to?

MARTY

I beg your pardon?

SHOPKEEPER

What do you believe?

MARTY

I don’t know – I suppose I believe whatever my god tells me to believe.

SHOPKEEPER

(Pauses. Scrutinizes MARTY’s face.)

That’s. Well… that’s not how it works.

MARTY

Whatever do you mean?

SHOPKEEPER

Well, it’s the other way ‘round, really. The opposite of that.

MARTY

S’cuse me?

SHOPKEEPER

It’s the reverse. It’s not, “Oh dearie me, I’ll believe whatever that ol’ fellow up there tells me.” No, it’s more, “Hey, I believe I’ll have me another beer, ‘cause by golly hops is divinely inspired let me tell you.”

MARTY

(A little too quickly.)

But… Burning bushes. Tablets. Verses. Laws!

SHOPKEEPER

(Dead stare. A beat passes.)

Laws isn’t the point. Point is, gods just echo back what you pitch at ‘em, yeah? Your mate says, “My god says your god is arse”, well it’s your mate what’s sayin’ it, right?

MARTY

(Completely without guile.)

They echo it?

SHOPKEEPER

Are you following me?

MARTY

They echo?

SHOPKEEPER

(Peeved.)

You’re a right funny man, aren’t ya? Alright now… let’s take a stab at your creed.

MARTY

Creed?

SHOPKEEPER

Your canon. Though shalt whatnot.

MARTY

Oh! Commandments! I’m very much in favor of ‘em.

SHOPKEEPER

Any particular favorites?

MARTY

Er. Why yes… Um. Oh!

(Thunderous! Arms waving.)

Thou shalt have no other god before me!

SHOPKEEPER

This your *first* god, then? Gods can be a bit tetchy ‘bout that sort of thing.

MARTY

Oh. Yes. Never mind that one. What else?

SHOPKEEPER

Murder?

MARTY

Against. Mostly. ‘Cept when it’s very well deserved. Honorable like.

SHOPKEEPER

Very well, then. Stealing?

MARTY

Bad.

SHOPKEEPER

Good!

MARTY

Oh, is it? Good then.

SHOPKEEPER

Adultery?

MARTY

You’re not my type.

SHOPKEEPER

What’s your stance on idolatry?

MARTY

Wide.

SHOPKEEPER

(Droll.)

And I’m not your type?

MARTY

Not remotely.

SHOPKEEPER

How are you on coveting?

MARTY

Very good, indeed. Covet like nobody’s business.

SHOPKEEPER

Bearing false witness?

MARTY

(Levers an arm behind his back.)

Oh, certainly not.

SHOPKEEPER

I’m sorry, what was that gesture?

MARTY

What?

SHOPKEEPER

That thing you just did behind your back?

MARTY

(Reveals his crossed fingers.)

Er? This? It’s for luck.

(Pauses. And with a gleam in his eye…)

That’s what my god says, anyhoo.

SHOPKEEPER

Ah. Well, then. That’s that. There’s only let’s us settle up. And how will you be paying for your new god?

MARTY

(Outraged!)

Pay? What do you mean pay?

SHOPKEEPER

Payment. It’s the exchange-of or compensation-for valuable goods or services.

MARTY

I know what paying is… but why would I pay you?

SHOPKEEPER

(A vacant, toothy smile.)

Oh, mercy. No, it’s not for me. It’s for your god.

MARTY

Oh. Well that’s different, then. Here’s my wallet.

(END SCENE.)