Literary as hell.

“Soulmate Inc.,” a short play by Neil McGowan

WILSON nervously sits in front of a desk holding a computer (or laptop). GENE knocks and enters and greets Wilson with a smile, hand extended for a handshake.

GENE

Mr. Newman.

WILSON

Call me Wilson, please.

GENE

Call me Gene. So glad you came in to see us here at Soulmate Incorporated.

Gene sits behind the desk.

WILSON

I just hope you can deliver on what your company promises.

GENE

I understand submitting to a blood sample, skin sample, semen sample and a very thorough 25-page questionnaire can be invasive and taxing –

WILSON

Not to mention a pretty hefty fee.

GENE

– but I’m very confident you’ll be pleased with the results.

WILSON

Good. I can’t take the single life anymore. It’s worse than ever. All these dating apps? They’re worthless. But at the same time, completely consuming. I met an attractive woman at a bar last night, and before I could stop myself I swiped her face to the right.

GENE

You’ll be very pleased to hear that based on all the data we’ve accumulated, we were able to identify for you a direct analogue.

WILSON

Direct analogue?

GENE

A 100% match. Very rare. You’d think that out of the entire population of the world, finding someone’s direct equivalent wouldn’t be so difficult, but the best we’re usually ever able to do is around 94%. Most clients end up in the 80th percentile range. This is very exciting for all of us here at Soulmate Inc.

WILSON

Wow! So…who is she?

Gene smiles at Wilson and takes a brief pause, amping up the drama before he launches in, confidently and calmly.  

GENE

Her name is Iset. You’re literally perfect for each other. She’s the kind of woman that gets your sense of humor, and our data tells us how important that is to you. More importantly, she’s the kind to understand that it’s important to you that she doesn’t just get your jokes, but can add to them and make them better instead of simply laughing at them. Before you know it, the two of you would be bouncing quips off of each other, seeing how far you can mutually climb that hill until it reaches its peak. And after it does, starting over again with a new topic.

WILSON

What a rare and beautiful thing.

GENE

And it’s not just a simple sharing of humor, obviously. You possess the same values and general sense of morals, both love cats, and quite simply would enjoy a physical chemistry that’s totally off the charts. We here at Soulmate Incorporated find that it’s really those little ineffable qualities that make that one person so special. Other companies similar to this one aren’t quite able to pinpoint them, but we can. And our huge database of nearly every single person to ever exist is unmatched in this field.

Wilson is almost too awed to speak, his mouth agape but with a smile, shaking his head. He pulls it together.

WILSON

I can’t wait to meet h-

GENE

She was quite special. She was born in 1253 BC in northeastern Africa, the area we now call the country of Egypt. She existed in quite an exciting era there around the Nile River valley. She started out as a slave under Ramesses the Great, but was able to work her way up-

WILSON

Wait just a second. My soulmate…is dead?

GENE

Oh, well yes. But don’t worry, she had a long and fruitful existence, dying at the ripe old age of 42. That’s basically like living to 100 in our day. And records show that she died peacefully of natural causes, not by being bitten by a camel or a heavy piece of pyramid falling on her or something crazy like that.

WILSON

What good does that do me? You’re telling me my perfect match existed centuries ago. And?

GENE

And you two would have really hit it off.

Silence.

GENE

So, was there anything else I could do for you?

WILSON

Um, yeah. Can you maybe give me a more…practical result? Someone who exists in this timeframe, per se?

Gene looks a bit flustered, adjusts his glasses, thinks.

GENE

That’s definitely going to change the results. I mean, we’re going from a selection from trillions of people to about six billion. Three billion actually, since you’re not sexually fluid.

He turns to the computer and types, then looks at the screen and sees the results.

GENE

Okay, then. Gretchen. She’s only a 85% match but…you know…what are you gonna do, considering these new parameters? She lives in a small town on the southern tip of Australia, only accessible by a small airport 140 miles away and a long, treacherous drive through area mostly controlled by bandits. She enjoys crossword puzzles and-

WILSON

Isn’t there anyone nearer?

GENE

How near?

WILSON

Dateably near. Like, able to take her to dinner without booking a flight and fighting desert hooligans.

Gene just stares at Wilson for a moment, a mixture of confusion and disappointment on his face. Then he turns back to the computer, types in some data, then reads the results.

GENE

All righty then. Gladys lives 20 miles away, if that’s not too terribly far away for you. A 74% match. She won’t quite jibe with your sense of humor in the same manner as that Egyptian woman, but you kind of have to take what you can get at this point. She enjoys bingo, crocheting, watching daytime game shows and only driving when absolutely necessary.

WILSON

And how old is Gladys?

GENE

76. Let me guess: That’s an issue for you.

WILSON

As a matter of fact, I-

GENE

Then we have Cindy. 67% match. Enjoys playing hopscotch at recess, Pokemon, asking her mother when she can get her ears pierced-

WILSON

PASS!

Gene slaps the desk with his hand in frustration, takes deep breaths in and out, returns to the keyboard and reads the results without looking at Wilson.

GENE

Vera. 35 years old. Lives 8 miles away.

He has to swallow some bile before reading the next part.

GENE

54% match. She’ll probably laugh at your jokes even though she doesn’t actually quite fully get them, without much follow-up or banter. But look, you’ll get along just fine. There will actually be moments when you actually think it might be really great, because at least you’re not alone. You’ll curtail a lot of your habits, rituals and behaviors that you know she simply won’t understand, because it will be easier than trying to explain them, much less helping her to see how they make you special and unique. Little will you know that she’s doing the same, perhaps even more so than you. Two people refashioning themselves into the most palatable version for someone else’s taste.

He pauses for a moment.

GENE

She also wants to travel, so there’s that. Although not to the same places as you, but you’ll work that out. All in all, it’ll be just fine. There will be many times when you’ll wonder if you can do better, be happier with someone else out there. But because of Soulmate Inc., you’ll know for certain that you cannot. Not in the place and time in which you exist.

Gene hits a single key on the keyboard.

GENE

I printed out her information. You can pick it up at the front desk. Good luck to you.

Wilson nods and Gene, stands, and the lights crossfade as Wilson leaves the scene behind and comes forward to address the audience.

WILSON

I contacted Vera the next day, explained who I was and why we should meet. Turns out she’s been married for ten years and has three kids. Gene probably should have mentioned that.

Lights fade to black.

 


Neil McGowan is a writer and actor based out of Los Angeles, CA. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from West Virginia University in Theatre. Neil is a member of the Pacific Resident Theatre Writers Group in Venice, CA. His short films, Like Old Times and Trip and Sloan, both of which he wrote and stars in, have appeared in many film festivals across the country, including the Austin Film Festival. His screenplay, Numbered, won the Slamdance Screenplay Contest, and was a finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenplay Contest and the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Contest. (A novelization of Numbered available for purchase on Amazon.) His play Tracks in the Snow won the 2008 Mildred and Albert Panowski Playwriting Award and was produced at Northern Michigan University. His play Lone-Anon, produced at award-winning Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles, was named one of the Top Ten plays of 2013 by L.A. Weekly Magazine. He has adapted Lone-Anon to a screenplay called Loners which will be released in 2018. His play My Girlfriend is an Alien! by Keith DeFacto had its world premiere at Pacific Resident Theatre in 2016 and was published by Stage Rights.

Twitter: @NeilMcGowan3
NPX webpage: https://newplayexchange.org/users/1878/neil-mcgowan

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