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The Landlord
by Ben Willis
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This is a skit designed to help people understand the nature of addiction regardless of the substance. The setting is an apartment that has become run down due to overindulgence and lack of maintenance. Some of the furniture is broken in places, there are dishes everywhere. It becomes clearer during the skit, but this damage to the apartment is the result of drug-induced blackouts by the tenant, a young woman in her late twenties.
Setting: The scene opens with the young lady sitting at the kitchen table staring blankly out the window. The table is crooked because one of the legs was broken while she fought with one of her several recent boyfriends. She hears a loud knock at the door and the noise does nothing but make her blink. She sits silently for a few more seconds and then sulks over to the door. She looks in the peephole and opens the door without emotion. Standing in the doorway is a short, dark man with narrow eyes and a nervous temperament. The young lady sits back down at the table without a word while leaving the door open.
Stranger: WellÖ. Do you want me to come in?
Lady: (sighs) yes. (he scurries into the seat next to her and sits down). Why do you ask me that every time you come over?
Stranger: Call it courtesy. Now, (he produces a small bag of pills from inside his jacket) shall it be the usual order?
Lady: No.
Stranger: AhhÖ, more this week. We can do that!...
Lady. No. (interrupting him) I mean I donít want any. I donít want to do this anymore.
Stranger: Oh yeah right, like you can go a day without a fix! (laughing). Are you trying to get me to take the price down? Because if you are, thatís just brilliant.
Lady: I wouldnít take those pills if you were giving them away.
Stranger: Laughs (confused) You donít just quit! (Becoming very angry) You donít justÖ. (he stands and begins to pace around the apartment) What do you think the Landlord of your building would say if he knew about your little habit? You know his rules. I donít know why he even lets you live here youíre so worthless! (laughing)
Lady: Youíre wrong! I wonít go one more day living like this! Now get out!
Stranger: Youíre pathetic, and youíll be back! (He whispers the second part loudly into her ear)
Lady: Get out! (He proudly struts out of the apartment and slams the door behind himself. The lady sits back down at the kitchen table, she had stood while arguing with the dealer. She begins weeping bitterly and does so alone for several seconds. She then stops crying for a moment when she thinks she hears someone knocking at her door. She listens for a second and hears nothing else. She begins crying even harder because she thinks she is going crazy until she hears the gentle tap, tap, tap on the door. She stops crying and tiptoes over to the door to look through the peephole.
Lady: Oh, no! Itís him! Iíll just be quiet and heíll go away. (Silence for a couple of seconds, then tap,tap,tap.) Shoot! (she covers her mouth and knows she must open the door now. She cracks open the door to see the landlord wearing a tool belt.)
Landlord: I knew you would answer eventually (smiling)
Lady: Youíre very persistent
Landlord: Only when there is work to be done
Lady: What do you mean?
Landlord: Few people would guess it by looking at the exterior of you apartment, but the inside needs a lot of work.
Lady: How did you?....
Landlord: May I come in?
Lady: Yes, please do. You know, I was planning on cleaning up this mess myself. I really donít need any help with it.
Landlord: Is that so? (he taps a book under a broken table leg with his foot) You know, I would be happy to help you for free, all you need to do is ask, and admit that you need my help.
Lady: I really donít need any help, Iím perfectly capable ofÖ. (she begins getting choked up and soon returns to sobbing. The landlord helps her back to the table to sit down). Iíve tried cleaning this mess up several times butÖ.my life is out of control! (She says exasperated. Landlord begins working on the table leg).
Landlord: Tell me about it. (nonsarcastically)
Lady: Iíve wasted everything I have and thereís nothing to show for it. Iíve had so many boyfriends, and we always move too fast and get way too serious and they end up disrespecting me and leaving, but not before they steal something from me. My parents wonít even answer the phone when I call anymore because they are so ashamed of how Iíve turned out, along with the rest of my family, and thereís more. Iíve been doing drugs. Here in the building. I donít know why Iím telling you this, but I feel so guilty, I have to confess it. (She is wiping tears from her eyes, and the landlord puts his screwdriver back in his belt and walks over to her).
Landlord: You made a decision to stop
Lady: How did you know?
Landlord: I know everything that happens in my building, even when a tenant has a broken table.
Lady: Hey (walking over to the damaged table leg) You fixed my table!
Landlord: (smiling) Yes. I would like to help you fix everything thatís damaged inside your apartment.
Lady: Why?....er wonít you charge me? Is there nothing else I have to do?
Landlord: The only thing that I ask is that you let me in when I knock at your door. Do you want me to come back?
Lady: YesÖ.. Iíd like that
Landlord: Good, Iíll see you tomorrow. (he leaves and she returns to sit down at the table, this time she looks around at her apartment tests the sturdiness of her table, and smiles).
Lady: Ha! Itís as good as newÖ..even better.
(spotlight fades out)

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