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The Adventures of HENRY PARTRIDGE

by Ron Kurtus (1972)

(Note: This is a take-off on the classic radio show Henry Aldridge. I had written this play for a proposed show at the Timbers Playhouse, but then I cancelled out when the director tried to rewrite everything. In hindsight, it wasn't too good of an idea anyways.)

CHARACTERS:

  • MOTHER
  • ANNOUNCER
  • HENRY
  • ARCHIE
  • POLICEMAN

MOTHER: (Calling Out) Hen-ry! Henry Partridge!

HENRY: (Off-stage) Coming Mother.

ANNOUNCER: "The Henry Partridge Show", presented by those wondeffal people who make that wonderful breakfast treat "French Fried Krispies". I eat 'em. Henry eats 'em. We all eat 'em. And we'd better, or else we'd lose our:Jobs. So you eat 'em too. They're goo-od. Scientists claim that "French Fried Krispies" have the highest cholesterol of any other breakfast cereal. We're number one. So, if you eat 'em, you'll be number one too.
And now, for the adventures of Henry Partridge:

(Henry is carrying an armload of books. He is met by his pal Archie. Both slowly walk across the stage and back. Center stage there
is a mailbox.)

ARCHIE: Hey, Henry! Where ya going?

HENRY: Hi, Arch. Got to drop off these library books for my dad. They're due today.

ARCHIE: But the library ain't open still noon. You got another hour, at least.

HENRY: I.know. I'm going to put them in the book drop, near the library. Come on along. Then we can go over to some of the stores downtown and fool around.

ARCHIE: I ain't supposed to go to the stores and fool around anymore. Not since I got kicked out of Doberman's Pharmacy last week. Mr Doberman called my mom, and she got real mad. She says I always get in trouble when I go to the stores with you and fool around. HENRY: I didn't tell you to get kicked out of Doberman's. He didn't kick me out, and I was making just as much noise as you.

ARCHIE: Yeah, but you were chicken to play tag up and down the aisles.

HENRY: I didn't tell you to knock down his display.

ARCHIE: Well, I ain't supposed to go fooling around in the stores. Mr Doberman said he'd call the cops the next time I came in.

HENRY: We don't have to go to Doberman's. We'll go to some other stores.

ARCHIE: OK.,,Let's go drop off those books. We'll fool around in that sporting goods store. I bet you'll be chicken to play catch with some of their balls in there.

HENRY: Well see who's chicken! (pause) Ah, here we are at the book-drop. I'll just put the books in here, and we can go.

ARCHIE: Henry.

HENRY: Give me a hand, Archie.ARCHIE: Sure. But Henry...

HENRY: Come on. Let's get these things in here. Then we can go to the sporting goods store.

ARCHIE: Henry, I want to tell you something...

HENRY: Yeah, yeah... There. They're all in the box. Now, what is it you want?

ARCHIE: That box, Henry. It isn't the book-drop box. It's the mailbox!

HENRY: Oh, no! Why didn't you say something?

ARCHIE: I tried to...

HENRY: Oh, no. Am I in trouble. They both look alike, only it's the wrong color. I wasn't even thinking. Am I in trouble!

ARCHIE: I tried to tell you.

HENRY: What am I going to do now? Dad'll murder me. Especially if he has to pay all those fines. What if they mail those books to China? Or Russia?

ARCHIE: Or New York.

HENRY: Then we'll never get them back.

ARCHIE: Your dad will be paying fines for the rest of his life.

HENRY: What a thought!

ARCHIE: They'll accuse him of stealing the books and maybe throw him in prison.

HENRY: What a thought!

ARCHIE: And then you'll have to take over the payments of the fines.

HENRY: Will you stop thinking! We've got to do something. We've got to get those books out of the mailbox and into the library box.

ARCHIE: How are you going to do that?

HENRY:.It's simple. Just reach in the mailbox and take out the books, one at a time. Here, you hold the door open, and I'll reach in and get the books out.

(Henry struggles, trying the reach the books, but he is unable to get ahold of any of them. He reisgns in frustration.)

HENRY: Darn! I just can't reach them. They're too far down in the box.

ARCHIE: I know what. Why don't you get a coat hanger and bend it into a hook and then fish them out?

HENRY: Brilliant idea! For a guy who couldn't pass the 5th grade the first time around, you sure come up with the good ideas.

ARCHIE: Shucks, it was nothin'.

HENRY: I'll go run over to that house down the street and ask the lady if I can have a coat hanger. You stay here and guard the box. Right-o.

(Henry runs off. Soon a police officer comes over and stands near the box. Archie tries to act nonchalant by standing nearby with his hands behind his back and whistling. The officer scowls at him. Then Henry comes running back with the straightened coat hanger, but he screeches to a halt when he sees the policeman.)

HENRY: (Whispering) What's going on?

ARCHIE: I don't know. He just came a few minutes ago, and he's been standing over by the mailbox.

HENRY: We'll have to get him away from there, otherwise we'll never get those books out. I know what. You distract him,and get him away from the box, and I'll hook the books out then.

ARCHIE: (Worried) What should I do?

HENRY: Just get him away from the mailbox. Keep him occupied. Ask him for help or something.

ARCHIE: OK, I guess so.

(Archie folds his hands behind his back, whistles, and goes over to the officer, who is leaning on the mailbox.)

ARCHIE: (About 10 feet from cop.) Officer.

POLICEMAN: Yes.

ARCHIE: Could I talk to you?

POLICEMAN: Sure, kid. What do you want?

ARCHIE: No, would you come here, away from the mailbox.

POLICEMAN: Huh? (Goes over to Archie.) OK, what do you want? (Henry sneaks over to box and starts fishing for books.)

ARCHIE: Want?...Oh. Want. Yes. Ah - I'm lost. I don't know how to get home.

POLICEMAN: You're lost?

ARCHIE: Yeah. I'm lost. I don't know how to find my way home.

POLICEMAN: You're kind of big to be lost, aren't you2 What's your address?

ARCHIE: 223 South... ah... I don't know my address.

(Archie glances around Policeman to see how Henry is doing; not very good.)

POLICEMAN: You must be putting me on. A big boy like you, doesn't know his address?

ARCHIE: I forgot it. I'm new around here. That's right. I'm new around here.

POLICEMAN: Well, in that case, I'll just have to bring you into the station, and we'll call your parents to come and pick you up.

ARCHIE: Oh, I just remembered it! I just remembered it! It's 223 South Elm St.

POLICEMAN: Oh. That's only a couple of blocks away. Just go down the street here until you get to Elm, and then turn to the right. It should look familiar, once you get there.

ARCHIE: Oh, thank you, officer.

(Policeman starts to turn to go back to the mailbox. Henry is still fishing for the books, in vain.)

ARCHIE: (Quickly) Oh, officer.

POLICEMAN: Yes? You forget your address again?

ARCHIE: No, I still remember it. It's 223 South Elm St.... Say, officer...

POLICEMAN: Yes?

ARCHIE: Ah, er... ah, what do you think about crime?

POLICEMAN: I'm against it, of course.

ARCHIE: What are the worst crimes you can commit?

POLICEMAN: Federal offenses are the most serious. They range from kidnapping all the way down to tampering with the mail.

ARCHIE: Gulp. Tampering with the mail? (Glances towards Henry.)

POLICEMAN: Yes. Even something like that will get you 10 years.

ARCHIE: 10 years? (Glances toward Henry.)

POLICEMAN: I know of a case where even the accomplice to the crime got 5 years.

ARCHIE: Accomplice?

POLICEMAN: He didn't commit the crime. He was just a lookout.

ARCHIE: (Takes one more obvious look at Henry struggling by the box.) Well, I've got to get going.

(Officer turns to see what Archie is always looking at and sees Henry straining to get the books out of the mailbox.)

POLICEMAN: Hey, what the...! WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?!!

ARCHIE: I've got to get going.

POLICEMAN: (Points at Archie.) You stay put! (To Henry) And you. What are you doing there?

(Henry has a sheepish look on his face. He comes over to the officer.)

HENRY: Oh, nothing. Nothing at all, officer.

POLICEMAN: It looks to me as if you were trying to steal some mail!

ARCHIE: I've got to get going. I think I hear my mother calling.

POLICEMAN: (To Archie) You stay put! Are you two partners in this deal?

ARCHIE: I never saw the guy in my life. I've got to get going, before I forget my way home.

POLICEMAN: (To-Henry) Do you know this fellow?

ARCHIE: I never saw the guy in my life.

HENRY: Archie!

POLICEMAN: Oh, so you two are in cohoots with each other. What were you doing in that mailbox?
HENRY: Honest officer, we weren't -trying to steal anything...

ARCHIE: I never saw the guy in my life.

HENRY: I was just trying to get my books out of there.

POLICEMAN: Your books?

HENRY: They're really not my books - they're my father's books. And they're really not his books - they're the library's books.

POLICEMAN: Huh?

HENRY: You see they're due today, and I brought them here to put into the drop-off box, but I put them in the mailbox by mistake, because it looks the same, except it's a different color, and I didn't notice that until it was too late. (Takes a breath) So I got a coat hanger from the lady down the street, because my arms wouldn't reach the books, and I tried to get the books out of the mailbox before they came and shipped them to who knows where.

POLICEMAN: Hmmm. I see. And this character was supposed to keep me busy, while you were trying to steal things from that mailbox.

HENRY: Oh no, you see...

ARCHIE: I never saw him in my life. I'm just an innocent bystander.

HENRY: No, I was just trying to get the library's books out of the mailbox before they lose them. That's all. Honest.

POLICEMAN: Well, I guess I'll have to believe you. You look a liitle young to be mail thieves. But you know, it is still against the law to be tampering with the mail boxes. I'm sorry, but I can't let you try to get those books out of the box.

HENRY: But...

ARCHIE: Couldn't we just take the books out when the mailman comes to pick them up?

HENRY: Hey, that's a great idea.

POLICEMAN: (:To Archie) I thought you didn't know this fellow.

ARCHIE: Oh. Well, I just recognised him.

POLICEMAN: Yes.

HENRY: But that's a terrific idea, Archie. We'll just wait for the mailman to make the pick-up, and then take the books out.

POLICEMAN: I'm sorry to disappoint you boys, but I know for a fact that once an item had been mailed, an individual may not interfer with it. This is for everyone's protection. In other words, you will just have to let the post office handle the matter.

ARCHIE & HENRY: Aw guy!

POLICEMAN: I'm sorry, boys.

(Boys walk away despondently. Police exits other direction.)

HENRY: Well, what are we going to do now, Arch?

ARCHIE: I don't know, Henry. I guess you can just kiss those books goodbye.

HENRY: Yeah. Kiss them goodbye.

ARCHIE: (Cheering up) Why don't we go down to the sporting goods store and fool around?

HENRY: Naw. I don't feel like fooling around anymore. I just think I'll take a walk. You go down there yourself. I'll see ya.

ARCHIE: OK, Henry. I'll see ya. Don't let it get you down. (Boys exit, separately).

(Enter Mother, from other wing. She is sweeping floor.)

(Enter Henry, walking slowly across stage.)

MOTHER: Henry. I've been looking for you. where was a phone call from the library.

HENRY: (Aside) Gees. They're missing the books already! How did they find out?

MOTHER: It was about Father's books - the ones you were supposed to turn in today.

HENRY: I couldn't help it, Mom. I put them in the mailbox by mistake. Did they find out where they're mailing them? Maybe we can still
get them back before the fines get too high. Boy, Dad'll murder me when he finds this out.

MOTHER: The postman who emptied the mailbox on that corner, Mr. Gleason, noticed the books had been put in the mailbox by mistake. Apparently this had happened once before. So he was nice enough to bring them to the library for us. He explained the situation to the librarian, and she called me to notify us that the books had been returned.

HENRY: They've been returned?!

MOTHER: Yes. And I think that you should give Mr Gleason a call and thank him for what he did. It was very nice of him.

HENRY: (Elated) Wow! They've been returned! You bet I'll call him and thank him. I thought for sure I was a goner. Wait 'till
I tell Archie.

(He starts to run off, but then he stops and turns.)

HENRY: Mom? Just to play it safe, let's not tell Dad about this trouble. OK?

MOTHER: Sure, dear. I understand.

(Henry runs off. Mother sweeps off stage.)

END.