Dear Cruel World—a ten-minute play

by Kevin Drzakowski

CURT, twenties to forties, a rather depressed man.
DOUG, twenties to forties, Curt’s friend, just as depressed but a lot less subdued.
ANDREA, twenties to forties, Doug’s girlfriend and an acquaintance of Curt.

SETTING:  A drab, poorly lit bedroom. The only important piece of scenery is a desk with a rolling swivel chair.
TIME:  The present.

(CURT enters the bedroom. He closes the
door, then lightly bangs his head against it.
He leans with his back on the door and

I can’t believe I ran over that cat.
(He crosses to the rolling swivel chair
behind his desk. He stares blankly for a bit.)
My whole entire life is a disaster.
Well, this is it. The final straw. I’m done.
(He opens the desk drawer and takes out a
gun. He then takes out a box, opens it, and
pulls out one bullet. He loads the gun. He
sets the gun on the desk and studies it for a while.)

I guess I probably should write a note.
(CURT rummages through his desk drawer
for a while. He comes up with a notepad.
He studies the notepad with a frown.)
I can’t use Garfield paper for this note.
(He digs through the drawer a little more,
then searches the room in a futile effort.
Finally, he looks back at the notepad in his
But then again, it’s Monday, so it works.
(He half shrugs, then sits down and pulls a
pen out of the drawer. He starts to write on
the notepad, but the pen won’t write. He
scratches the pen on the paper in frustration.)
Why don’t I have a single pen that writes?
(He finds a pencil somewhere in the room,
then sits back down to the note.)

Who do I even write this to?  “Dear...
(He frowns, pulls the paper off the notepad,
then throws it in the trash. He writes again.)
“To Whom It May Concern.”  No, that’s no good.
(He rips off that page, too. He rolls his eyes
and shrugs.)
Whatever. I’m not writing poetry.
(He writes, this time resolutely.)
“Dear Cruel World.”
(He looks at the paper.)
                 Is that how you spell cruel?
(This clearly bothers him. He wrestles with
himself, keeps looking over at the bookshelf,
then finally goes over to get the dictionary.
He quickly finds the word.)
(He looks at the notepad.)
          Why did I think it was E-U?
(He scratches his first line out, then keeps
writing on the same sheet of paper.)
“D-E-A-R-C-R-U-E-L World.”
“I’m very sorry to resort to this.”
(He stops.)
I can’t have that scratched out word at the top.
My friends will think that I’m killing myself
because of my lackluster spelling skills.
(He throws the whole notepad away.)
Forget the note.
(He picks up the gun once more.)
                           OK. So this is it.
(He inhales deeply and shuts his eyes. A
noise outside the door surprises him.
Someone knocks at the bedroom door.
CURT quickly shoves the gun in the desk
drawer and closes it, just as his friend
DOUG enters the room.)

(Not looking happy.)
Hey, Curt. You got some time to talk with me?

I’m kind of in the middle of something.

(Sitting on the bed.)
To tell the truth, things aren’t so good for me.

Me neither, Doug.

                              No, man, I got real problems.
I cheated on my girlfriend. You know that.
And Andrea deserves better than that.
I feel like there’s a dark pit in my stomach
that’s eaten its way through into my soul.
I don’t know how to say this, Curt, but you’re
the only one I feel like I can talk to.
The situation bothers me so much...
(He leans close to CURT and whispers.)
I’ve actually thought of suicide.
(CURT looks back at the desk, then turns to
DOUG. He speaks rather half-heartedly.)

No, don’t do that.

                              You tell me why I shouldn’t.

Because…we all have just so much to live for.

Oh yeah?  Like what?

                                        Like…Garfield cartoons.

Garfield cartoons?  That comic sucks!
That cat hates Mondays, man. But he’s a cat!
Cats don’t get up and have to go to work
or get stuck in a morning traffic jam.
What reason could a cat possibly have
for caring whether people drive to work?

There’s definitely one reason I know.

(Getting up and pacing.)
It’s me who should be hating days like Monday.
I have to go to work. I hate my job.
And by the way, today is Monday, Curt.
Now I feel even worse about my life.

I kind of have my own things going on.

Oh, sorry!  What a selfish thing to think,
that I could come here in my hour of need,
to my best friend to open up my soul! 
‘Cause after all, when someone is depressed,
the last one he should count on is his friend.
You really are an awful person, Curt.

Thanks, Doug. That’s just what I needed to hear.

I’m contemplating suicide, but you’re
so self-absorbed, so focused on yourself,
you fail to recognize when your best friend
needs help. So thanks a lot for nothing, pal.

I’m sorry, Doug, it’s just...
                                             I wrote a note.

A note?

             I did. About my suicide.

So tell me what you wrote.

                                           At first, I wrote
“dear cruel world,” but then I figured I
could come up with a less pathetic line.
(DOUG takes a piece of paper out of his back pocket. He takes a deep breath, then begins reading.)
“You’re probably wondering how it came to this.
I wish that I could offer better reasons.
The truth is that I have no real excuse.
I write this only as a means of saying
how truly sorry I am to cause pain.
(As DOUG reads, CURT discreetly reaches
into the trash can and pulls out one of his
crumpled up pieces of paper. He unfurls it
and starts to write, copying down what
DOUG is saying.)
If I had strength, I would try to continue.
But ever since I…”
(Seeing what CURT is doing.)
                               Hey!  What are you doing?
(CURT throws the piece of paper into the
desk drawer and shuts it in a hurry.)
Don’t tell me you were copying that down!

(After a pause.)
I might have been.

                              You must be kidding me!
 I told you this in confidence, okay?
(Crossing to the desk to open it.)
Give me that paper!

                                  No! You stay away!
(CURT tries to block the desk drawer from
DOUG as he sits. DOUG struggles to get
around him, then succeeds in doing so by
pushing away the rolling chair with CURT
still in it. He flings open the desk drawer
and pulls out the piece of paper.)

“You’re probably wondering how it came to this.
I wish that I could offer better reasons.”
(Holding up the paper to CURT.)
I knew it!  You were copying my note!
(He gasps, seeing the gun and pulling it out
of the drawer.)
You’d better tell me why you have a gun.

I couldn’t say.
(DOUG takes a deep breath, then holds
the gun up to his head. CURT jumps out
of his chair and holds up his hands.)
                 Doug, no!  Don’t pull that trigger!

You give me one good reason why I shouldn’t.

Because I only have one bullet left.
I need it.


                            I need that one for me.

(Lowering the gun.)
You mean to tell me you were going...


That’s such a stupid thing to even think!

This coming from a guy about to do it.

You have to understand, it’s not the same.

Don’t tell me that. I always mess things up.
Just now, for instance, I ran over a cat.

Nobody cares. It’s just a stupid cat.
I’m horrible. I cheated on my girlfriend.

My life is worse!

                            No, mine is more screwed up!
(DOUG raises the gun back up to his head,
but not before CURT dives toward him and
grabs his arm. They both wrestle over the
gun, slamming into the desk, then rolling
around on the ground.)

(As they wrestle.)
Let go!  You’ve got so much to live for, Doug!

(As they wrestle.)
You’ve got way more than me. Give me that gun!

(They are now both on their knees, playing
a game of tug of war with the gun. A voice
from outside the door surprises them.)

Where are you, Curt, you bastard?
(ANDREA enters the door in a hurry, eyes
blazing. She is furious. DOUG and CURT
hurriedly stand up and hide the gun behind
their backs, even though neither relinquishes
his hold on it.)


Doug!  You’re here, too?
(This only seems to make Andrea angrier.)

                                 What are you doing here?

I’m gonna kill you both, you idiot!

But why?

           I heard you’re cheating on me, Doug!

Hey, Andrea…

                        And Curt…that was my cat!
I’m sorry, look...

                              The two of you are dead!
I’m so not even joking. If I had
a gun, I swear I’d kill the both of you.
What’s that you guys are hiding over there?

It’s nothing.

            Yeah, Curt’s right. There’s nothing here.

Don’t lie to me!  What is that?
(ANDREA pushes between them and pulls
the gun away from them. She looks at it.)
                                                  How ‘bout that?


Wait, Andrea, I think you should calm down.
(ANDREA points the gun at him.)

Hey I’m the one who cheated, broke your trust.
If you kill someone, you’d better kill me.
(She turns the gun to DOUG.)

I ran over your cat. It should be me!
(She points the gun at CURT again.)

I think it’s pretty clear I wronged you more.

Your issue here is obviously with me.

The cheating, by the way?  Yeah, it was great.

Your cat deserved it!  Cats deserve to die!
(ANDREA keeps pointing the gun back
and forth, unable to decide. She lowers the

You two are sick.
(ANDREA exits, taking the gun with her.)

                         Well. That was quite the rush.
Can you believe that she was gonna kill us?

I can’t believe she’d want to see us die.

(Taking his note out of his pocket.)
Let’s not give her the satisfaction.

(DOUG rips his note into pieces. CURT
does the same with the copied note on his

When someone wants you dead, then it’s no good
to kill yourself. It messes up the point.

I hear you, Doug.

                      We’ve got too much to live for.

You’re right, my friend. We both have way
too much.

(End of play.)