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by Jeanette D. Farr

FRANK: 68 years old. Recently retired. Former police officer.
HELEN: 66 years old. Spirited. Loving. Positive.

Helen's modest home. There is a substantially overgrown cannabis plant that has a place of distinction.

FRANK: (in mid-sentence) So it’s actually the orchid that does all the work.

HELEN: Exactly.

FRANK: You have taught me so much, Helen.

HELEN: It’s a part of life, Frank. The next time, I’ll tell you the Queen Bee’s role in the process of making honey.

FRANK: We’re in your house - Honey.

HELEN: (cheeky) It’s Helen, and yes, well, I did ask you in, after all.

FRANK: An important step for us, wouldn’t you say?

HELEN: I think, maybe.

(FRANK moves in for a kiss.)

HELEN: Ah – but before we get too comfortable. How about…

FRANK: A little television?

HELEN: Some tea or something? With honey.

FRANK: Sounds nice.

(HELEN exits)

FRANK: (Calling after her) You know. I’ve enjoyed our time together. It’s not often that I click with someone. Like two Legos that fit. (he cringes at the metaphor) I’ve been retired from the force for a while and the days get lonely, you know, with no one to share things with. I’ve tried to travel on my own. It’s just not the same. Now it’s not that I like you just because I’m lonely mind you. But the risks of being a police officer are just too much – you begin to realize what life really means, you know? I was lucky.

(HELEN returns with some cookies on a tray)

HELEN: Tea should be done in a minute. Just waiting for the water to boil. You were saying?

FRANK: Like I said, I know this is a big step.

HELEN: We can just have tea if you want.

FRANK: NO! I mean. What I mean is. You are such a lovely woman.

HELEN: You already got me, Frank.

FRANK: I’m glad to hear that. I mean, I’ve dated and…well, I don’t want to be out there any more. I like that you make me laugh. I like that you read, and can do the crossword in no time at all, and that we like the same things, and your knowledge of the garden and exotic plants – you’re your own woman, Helen.

HELEN: Oh Frank, that’s sweet.

FRANK: What I am trying to say, is…(noticing plant) Oh my god!

HELEN: I don’t think I’ve had a man be so passionate in expressing himself.

FRANK: Is that what I think it is?

HELEN: What? (looking at plant) Oh. It’s hard not to notice, isn’t it?

FRANK: I’ll say. Do you know what that is, Helen?

HELEN: It always seems to be the topic of conversation.

FRANK: But, I don’t think you know-

HELEN: I’m told that it’s called cannabis.

FRANK: Nevermind - You know.

HELEN: I acquired it shortly after my husband died. I decided to name it after him, actually. Meet Henry Two.

FRANK: You can’t have that growing in here.

HELEN: Henry Two grows just fine. I’m thinking this is the best room for him to flourish. In fact, I have to trim it back every once in a while. Last spring it actually had the most fragrant blooms. Here, smell.

FRANK: I’ll pass.

HELEN: (smelling the leaves) Lovely. So you were saying.

FRANK: (distracted – then…)  Helen. I have been on the force for many years. I’ve seen many things. (looking at plant) After a man has seen such things, he wants to settle down, enjoy life with one special woman. I never thought I would love again, until… what I mean to say is… (looking at plant) For gods sake will you please get rid of it!?

HELEN: Good grief, Frank. What on earth is the matter?

FRANK: I adore your – crossword - what do they call it – some fancy French word for ignorant.

HELEN: Naivite?

FRANK: Yes! But some things are just too… too… well, darn it – it’s illegal!

(The TEA KETTLE whistles)

HELEN: Hold that thought.


HELEN: Let me get it and come right back. It’s a bit distracting, don’t you think?

(FRANK is left with the plant. It almost takes on a human quality, leaning toward him.)

FRANK: (Terrified) Helen!

HELEN: (with teapot in hand) I had to take the pot-

FRANK: Oh, god – it’s worse than I thought! You’re addicted! What else are you into that you haven’t told me about? I never would have thought you were that kind of woman. I mean I knew you were modern and all – and hey, who am I to judge. I fought for the rights of all people. I cheered my ex wives when they burned their bras.

HELEN: I had to take the pot off the stove. What on earth is wrong with you?

FRANK: So, do you… smoke Henry Two?

HELEN: Henry One was cremated, but to get rid of a perfectly healthy living thing? That’s absurd. I think that’s a bit too much to ask, let alone see any benefit to it.

FRANK: Some might find it relaxing. So how do you do it, then?

HELEN: Do what?

FRANK: Do you smoke it? Eat it – bake it into brownies. (gasps) make tea?!

HELEN: It’s chamomile, you idiot – and I hope that it comes out of my rug. You ought to have some, it might calm you down.

FRANK: I’m a retired police officer, I can’t very well smoke something illegal.

HELEN: I think you are getting worked up over nothing. Mountains out of molehills, I’d say.

FRANK: It’s the difference between a bonsai and a birch. That’s not a little plant, Helen. It’s huge.

HELEN: Let me let you in on something. A little secret.

FRANK: Yes – please. Let’s be completely honest.

HELEN: Henry used to smoke a Cuban cigar on occasion. I didn’t mind.

FRANK: I don’t know how this is the same.

HELEN: So it’s ok if you want to smoke. Cigars, cigarettes. Henry died of lung problems. So I can’t say that it wouldn’t bother me, but…

FRANK: It bothers me that you have that plant in your house. I mean – if we’re going to take things to the next level.

HELEN: Henry Two is not going to bother you. Are you telling me you are afraid of a plant? In all actuality, he is cleaning the air. Filling it full of oxygen.

FRANK: Quit calling it “he”! Don’t you know that much marijuana is enough to put us both away, not to mention if you distribute it?

HELEN: Marijuana? Do you mean like on Cheech and Chong?

FRANK: What do you think it is?

HELEN: I think it makes them act stupid and giggly. Why would anyone want to smoke that?

FRANK: Believe me, they do.

HELEN: This isn’t used for that.

FRANK: But you have to get rid of it.

HELEN: I’m not ready to get rid of it.

FRANK: Helen. I don’t think I’m making myself clear – this plant is-

HELEN: Special to me.

FRANK: That’s fine – it’s also illegal and I can’t be in the house with it.

HELEN: That’s fine – I don’t think this is your house.

FRANK: What are you saying? I thought we were…

HELEN: We were. It just… that plant reminds me of Henry.

FRANK: I know - You named it after him.

HELEN: In the end, when Henry was hurting really bad, it was our gardener that suggested it, you know, to help with the chemotherapy.


HELEN: Henry didn’t want to try it. Actually he had the same feelings about it as you.

FRANK: So you do know what it does.

HELEN: You said I was a smart woman. Of course I knew. I begged and pleaded with Henry to at least try it – no one wants to see their loved one hurting.

FRANK: I know what you mean.

HELEN: So, in some strange way if I look at it every day, I don’t hurt so much.

FRANK: (Putting his arm around her) Another little secret, hm? Look, we’ll plant a tree – something legal – and unassuming. Something that bears fruit, maybe. I know you like to bake.

HELEN: (pulling away) So every time I eat a slice of apple pie I can think of him? That’s rich.

FRANK: Or something like it. Please Helen. Maybe, we can work on that hurt, together.

HELEN: I don’t know. Henry Two has been with me for almost five years.

FRANK: I understand. But I can’t be in the room with an illegal substance, let alone love a woman who is still stuck on her first love. Besides, I plan to be around for a long time. If you let me. Just think about it.

(FRANK sets a small box on the table next to HELEN.)

HELEN: Frank, please wait-

FRANK: Call me when you are ready.               

(FRANK EXITS. HELEN looks at HENRY TWO. It appears to weep a bit. Then beckons her over with a branch.)

HELEN: Stop looking at me like that. We’ve had a great time together. You’ve listened to me when I’ve needed you the most.

(HENRY TWO shakes)

HELEN: And I’ve in turn nurtured you. Remember the last summer? Those were the prettiest blooms.

(HENRY TWO loses a couple of leaves.)

HELEN: I wish I could give you away, too. It wouldn’t be right. I’m afraid he’s right. I’ve never met anyone like Frank. I’ll still remember Henry… and you. That won’t go away. There just won’t be enough room for the three of us.

(HENRY TWO extends a branch. Helen shakes it like a hand.)

HELEN: You’ve been a great help. That’s what friends are for. And a real friend would be able to let go of the past.

(HENRY TWO returns looking like a plant in a container)

HELEN: You know. Lemons and honey don’t make a bad pairing. Perhaps your memory would be better suited in a lemon tree, Henry. You always were a bit sour about the world.

(HELEN takes out a pair of sheers and begins to snip the branches of the cannabis bush as lights fade.)

Copyright © 2006 by Jeanette D. Farr

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that A Growing Problem is subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional and amateur stage performing, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

Inquiries concerning all rights should be addressed to the author at jfarr@glendale.edu



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