The UnXmas Story was originally written for "A Triple-XXXmas Special" - a holiday show which debuted in Chicago in 2001.

The UnXmas Story

by Jeff Goode

copyright © 2001

Scene: A Hillside

(Enter a SHEPHERD-type.)

Shepherd. Okay, stop me if you've heard this one. Angel walks into a bar. Angel of the Lord. Glory shone round about, the whole deal. Walks into a bar. Bartender goes, "You just fly in from the coast?" Angel goes, "Yeah, how'd you know that?" Bartender goes, "Your arms look tired." But seriously, so this Angel - Angel of the Lord, right? - looks around this bar. Little dive bar, 'bout a mile out of town. You take the south road, you can't miss it. Looks around the bar, the Angel. Looks around. What do you think? Table in the corner. Shepherd. Just sittin' there. Minding his own business. Isn't hurtin' nobody. Angel walks up to him. Angel of the Lord. Walks up to the table. Glory all around. Shepherd is like, "Now what?" Angel turns around, motions toward the door: Boom! Heavenly host. Praisin' God in the highest, peace on earth. You know the drill. Bartender goes, "Hey! Let's see some I.D." Angel goes, "Aw, c'mon!" Bartender goes, "Let's see some I.D." So the host is all over at the bar going through their wallets. And it's all, like, out-of-state and "this doesn't look like you" and "left mine at home" juvenile kind of shit.

Angry Voice. (offstage) Hey!

Shepherd. So the Bartender's thinking, "Sorry I asked." And the Angel is like, to the Shepherd, "Whaddaya say we get outta here?" And the Shepherd is like, "What?? I just got here. I got a table. You know how hard it is to get a table in this place?" And the Angel is like, "Yeah, but… I gotta talk to you a minute." And the Shepherd is like, "So talk." And the Bartender goes, "Hey! This one's under age." And there's this host - one of the host - can't be more than 15, swear to God. Busted, totally. And the Angel's like, "No, wait, no wait." And the Bartender's like, "You think I'm playin'?" So the Angel, to the Shepherd, is like, "You wanna step outside?" And the Shepherd is like, "Oh, so now you're gonna kick my ass?" And the Angel is like, "No, no, it's not like that." And the Bartender is like, "Out! Out!" And he's chasin' this little host around the bar. Got a broom. Chasin' the little guy around. And he's running under tables, knocking over chairs. Complete mess. And then he ducks behind the bar. Which you do not do. Bartender is like, last straw, goes ballistic, "That's it! Everybody out!!" (SHEPHERD looks irritated) …So now I lost my table.

Angry Voice. (offstage) Get on with it!

Shepherd. I'm just sayin'.

Angry Voice. (offstage) All right, already!

Shepherd. So this Angel - Angel of the Lord - goes to the Shepherd. Shepherd still a little pissed.

Angry Voice. (offstage) All right!!

Shepherd. Goes to the Shepherd. "Fear not." (SHEPHERD rolls his eyes.) Goes, "I bring you good tidings of great joy." Shepherd is like, "Yeah, it better be good." Angel goes, "For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord," right? And the Shepherd is like, "Yeah? So?" And the Angel is like, "Whaddaya mean, 'So?'" And the Shepherd is like, "What do you want me to do about it?" And the Angel is like, "The Savior, man! You gotta check it out." And the Shepherd goes, "I'm on my break." "You're on your break?" "I'm on my break. I stopped by for a quick drink. I get a table at the bar. I had a table at the bar. Now I don't got a table at the bar. I got 20 minutes before I gotta be back at the herd because I picked up a double from Joab because he needed off to take care of his taxes. So now I'm gonna be up all night with the sheep." And the Angel goes, "Don't worry, I'll watch the sheep."

(Enter a fed-up ANGEL-type.)

Angel. All right, that's enough! I did not say--

Shepherd. You said--

Angel. I did not say I would watch the sheep.

Shepherd. All right, well, I don't know where I heard it.

Angel. That doesn't even make sense. I'm an Angel. Of the Lord.

Shepherd. Oh, and I'm just a Shepherd, is that it? So fuck me?

Angel. I am not-- That's not what I'm saying.

Shepherd. Okay, well, I guess I'm hearing things again.

Angel. I am not here to watch your flock while you go to town.

Shepherd. Going to town was not my idea.

Angel. This is the greatest-- The single greatest… Event in the history--

Shepherd. Right, but who's watching the flock?

Angel. Would you let me finish? In the history of the entire planet.

Shepherd. Right, and who's watching the flock?

Angel. It doesn't matter who's watching the flock.

Shepherd. It does to the sheep. Do you know how sheep get? No, you probably don't. Because you're all, "I'm an Angel. Hark unto me. I got a message from God."

Angel. That's right! I've got-- (before the SHEPHERD can interrupt) Would you shut up? I've got a message from God about possibly the single greatest-- Definitely the biggest thing that's going to happen in your lifetime, anyway.

Shepherd. What if they're missing? What if I take off for Bethlehem and see this thing and come back the next day and they're gone. The sheep are just gone. They're lost. Or wolves got 'em. Or, I don't know, maybe one of you Angels took 'em.

Angel. That would never happen.

Shepherd. How do I know? Maybe this is some kind of "test". From "God".

Angel. Would you rather you didn't go? Everybody else is going. All the other fucking Shepherds in town - I'm sorry, but you're really pissing me off. Everybody else has seen it, and they all come back the next day, and they're like, "You should have seen it." And you're like, "Oh. Yeah. Heard about it. Thought I'd get in some quality time with the flock instead."

Shepherd. I get plenty of quality time with the flock, thank you very much.

Angel. Well then?

Shepherd. All I'm sayin'--

Angel. I know what you're saying, and all I'm saying is that what I said. What I tried to stress to you is that this is a big deal. That unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And compared to that, I just wouldn't worry about the sheep, if I was you.

Shepherd. (to the audience) So I went to Bethlehem to see the newborn king.

Angel. Thank you.

Shepherd. And the next day my sheep were gone.

Angel. (grumbles) Jesus Christ.


Scene: A Barn

(Enter a VIRGIN MARY-type. Right behind her, a JOSEPH-type, carrying some luggage.)

Mary. No room at the inn, my ass!

Joseph. Honey, calm down.

Mary. You saw that guy they let in right after us.

Joseph. Maybe he wanted a single.

Mary. A single? You think I wouldn't take a single? I wouldn't rather squeeze into a single than sleep out in the fucking barn?!

Joseph. Honey, lower your voice.

Mary. "Sorry, no vacancies. But the barn's available. We also have a lovely pig sty opening up in a few minutes, if you can wait."

Joseph. They didn't offer us the pig sty.

Mary. No, because that's extra. The in-room mud bath, you pay extra for that. I'm telling you, this isn't a "no room" thing, it's a "no money" thing. This wouldn't happen if you'd got that nice carpenter job like I told you.

Joseph. They weren't hiring.

Mary. They were hiring, you just took too long getting down there and they went with someone else.

Joseph. They wanted experience.

Mary. They wanted punctuality is what they wanted.

Joseph. Okay, this is not my fault.

Mary. I don't see anybody else sleeping in a barn because they couldn't get a job. Oh, except for me.

Joseph. Did you ever think that maybe they have rules at the inn about letting two people share a single together when they're not married? Did you ever think of that?

Mary. And whose fault is that, Mr. Cold Feet? Mr. I-don't-know-if-I'm-ready-for-this. Mr. It's All Happening So Fast I Think We Both Need Time To Think.

Joseph. You are unbelievable.

Mary. You didn't even check in under your own name, for God's sake. Mr. "Of Nazareth" and friend. What is that?! I'm your friend??

Joseph. You're not my wife.

Mary. I am your wife. Eyes o' God, and don't you forget it.

Joseph. That is not my child.

Mary. Okay, we're not going to get into this again.

Joseph. Well, it's not!

Mary. I don't know if I'd go there if I were you, considering I see a lot of farming tools around here and you do have to sleep some time.

Joseph. I wasn't going to bring it up.

Mary. You did bring it up.

Joseph. I wasn't going to, but you keep…

Mary. Watch it.

Joseph. Well, you do.

Mary. Careful.

Joseph. Sound like your mother.

Mary. What??

Joseph. You heard me.

Mary. You asshole!!

Joseph. See! You got a mouth like a fisherman. You get that from your mother.

Mary. You weren't complaining about my mouth when I was 8 months pregnant and you still wanted to get biblical every single night.

Joseph. (covering his ears) Okay, I don't want to hear this. La la la la…

Mary. You're going to hear it!

Joseph. La la la la…

Mary. You don't think I have enough to worry about being 8 months pregnant and my boyfriend can't afford a ring, so he wants to hold off on the wedding and it makes me look like the town whore? Oh my God, the baby! The baby!

Joseph. What?

Mary. Where's the baby?

Joseph. Oh shit.

Mary. Oh my God, you lost the baby again!

Joseph. He's around here somewhere.

Mary. He's up at the inn. You left him on the counter.

Joseph. I don't think so.

Mary. Go back and get him!

Joseph. Okay!

Mary. Go get my baby!!

Joseph. All right!

(He exits. She watches him outside.)

Mary. What are you doing?

Joseph. (offstage) He's right here with the luggage. He's fine.

(JOSEPH re-enters with a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.)

Mary. He's not fine. You left him outside with the luggage. My God!

Joseph. He was on top.

Mary. (taking the baby) Oh you poor thing. You poor baby.

Joseph. I don't know what's the big deal. He's fine.

Mary. No thanks to you, you bastard.

Joseph. I don't think that's a word you want to be tossing around.

Mary. Oh! You are so lucky I have this baby.

Joseph. Yeah, he's brought me nothing but good fortune.

Mary. Okay, as soon as I find some place to set him down, you're a dead man.

Joseph. I'll get the rest of the bags.

(He goes out to get the rest of the luggage.)

Mary. I'm serious! When you get back in here, you're gonna get it.

(She looks around the barn for a place to put the baby. She doesn't find one. She starts to cry. JOSEPH comes back in with the rest of their bags.)

Joseph. Now what's wrong?

Mary. There's no place to put him.

Joseph. What do you mean? There's some straw.

Mary. He's not going to sleep on a pile of straw.

Joseph. We're going to sleep on a pile of straw.

Mary. He's a baby. He needs a crib.

Joseph. Fine. So lay him in the manger.

Mary. I can't put him in a manger!

Joseph. Why not?

Mary. Because it's a trough! For animals! To eat from!!

Joseph. Yeah, and it's also exactly the same construction as a crib. I know. I was almost a carpenter, remember?

Mary. And what if a cow wanders in here in the middle of the night looking for a snack?

Joseph. Oh, please.

Mary. And eats him?!

Joseph. I'll bolt the door.

Mary. He's not going in the manger.

Joseph. He's going in the manger.

Mary. He's not!

Joseph. (fed up) Fine. Give him to me. I'll hold him.

(JOSEPH takes the baby.)

Mary. What are you going to do?

Joseph. What's it look like? I'm going to stand here, and hold him, all night. While you get some sleep. While the two of you get some sleep, I'll be right here, holding the baby.

(He rocks the baby and sulks at the same time.)

Mary. Are you sure?

Joseph. You better get some rest. We've got a long day tomorrow.

(She watches him rocking the baby. It's very touching.)

Mary. You're going to make a wonderful father.

Joseph. I don't think you want to play that card right now.

Mary. Honey?

Joseph. I should hear sleeping right about now.

Mary. I know you don't like to talk about women's issues.

Joseph. (cringing) Oh, God, don't say "cramps".

Mary. But do you remember the time last spring when we went on that picnic out to Galilee? And we stayed out late and watched the sun set. And you told me stories about Moses and the Israelites. And parting the Red Sea.

Joseph. And you said sometimes I remind you of Moses.

Mary. And sometimes I remind you of the sea.

(JOSEPH blushes.)

Mary. Do you remember what we did that night?

(He blushes again and nods.)

Mary. Honey… That's how you make babies.

(JOSEPH is stunned.)

Joseph. No fucking way!

Mary. Uh huh.

Joseph. Oh God, I think I'm gonna be sick.

Mary. Honey?

Joseph. You did that with those Romans???

Mary. No! That's what I've been trying to tell you. Nothing happened. Okay, I flirted with some Romans. But that's it.

Joseph. That's it?

Mary. And I waved at one of them.

Joseph. And that's it?

Mary. And maybe I gave him one of these.

(She gives a coy smile and a wink.)

Joseph. You are such a slut.

Mary. Okay, I made a mistake, I admit it. I'm not perfect. I was mad at you and I wanted to make you jealous. But that's all the further it went. The things you and I did that weekend in Galilee…

(He blushes again.)

Mary. The parting of the seas. The turning staffs into snakes.

Joseph. The coveting my neighbor's ass?

Mary. The burning bush. The plague of "lick us". I've never done any of that with anyone else but you.

Joseph. Not even the Romans?

Mary. Not even the Romans.

Joseph. Not even the cute one?

Mary. Not even the cute one.

Joseph. That kept coming by your house? Because I saw him.

Mary. No one.

Joseph. Why didn't you tell me this before?

Mary. Because every time I so much as mention reproductive--

Joseph. Okay okay okay!

Mary. And because you were being such a jerk about the wedding, and I wanted to get back at you. And maybe I carried things a little too far. But, Honey, the baby? You're the father. He's your son.

Joseph. Really?

Mary. Uh huh.

(JOSEPH looks at the baby in his arms.)

Mary. Honey, why don't you put the baby in the manger and come to bed?

Joseph. Can I hold him a little longer?

Mary. There'll be time for that tomorrow.

(MARY takes the baby and puts it in the manger.)

Joseph. I don't know, I think one of us ought to stay up and watch for cows.

Mary. We'll both watch.

(They kneel next to the manger and watch over the baby.)

Joseph. Did I ever tell you about the time Moses wanted to keep his staff up in the air all night but his arms were getting tired, so Aaron had to help him out?

Mary. (smiles) A few times.

(They start to make out behind the manger. Suddenly they hear someone pounding on the door.)

Joseph. What's that?

Mary. Someone's at the door. Go see who it is.

(JOSEPH hurriedly puts his clothes back on and goes to the door as MARY hides behind the manger.)

Joseph. Coming!

(JOSEPH opens the door and an ORIENT KING-type bursts in.)

King. That fucking Angel!

Joseph. Angel?

King. Yeah. I think she told everybody in town. There must be a thousand shepherds out there. Don't try to tell me none of them has work to do.

Joseph. (looking outside) Jeez, look at that.

King. They're everywhere. Everybody's running every which way. I got separated from my buddies. I don't know where they went. I'm never gonna find it now.

Joseph. What are you looking for?

King. Oh no! I'm not tellin' you. Then you'll be out there blocking traffic with the rest of them.

Joseph. Must be really cool, whatever it is.

King. Well, it's not! It's boring. Forget it. Put it out of your head.

Joseph. Okay, sure.

King. You know how hard I worked for this?

Joseph. Nuh uh.

King. Three years! For three years I've charted stars, planets, phases of the moon. Went through decks and decks of tarot cards. Sacrificed God knows how many perfectly good goats, just to crosscheck my findings with the entrails. Oh and God, the tea leaves! There's 6 months of my life I wish I could have back.

Joseph. What can you tell from tea leaves?

King. Nothing! The whole field is complete horseshit. I don't know what I was thinking. The stars are cosmologically linked to the four elements. There's a basis in science, at least. But what does a cup of tea know? But it just goes to show how badly I wanted this. How desperately I wanted to be the first. Or one of the first. The top five at least. To be the first to meet Him. To welcome Him into this world. This God-forsaken desert world.

Joseph. Yeah. World kinda sucks.

King. But now, after coming thousands of miles out of my way… Because, could he be born in the East and save me a trip? Nooooo! It's gotta be Bethlehem. City of David, house of David, line of David. And it's the middle of winter! So after tracking this stupid star across mountains and deserts. And more mountains and more deserts. And then this last desert which is the one that really pissed me off.

Joseph. Yeah, you don't want to come in from the East. You gotta take the first exit around to the South.

King. I go through all that, just to be the first. Not even the first, because Gaspar figured it out, too. And he told Balthasar. And whoever that other guy is. (confidentially) But I don't think he knows. I think he just saw us packing and was like, "Dude! Road trip!" So he came along. So, okay, maybe I'm third if I'm lucky. So we're almost here after 3 years and 3000 miles, right? And the day before we get here, this fucking Angel just goes and tells everybody! Everybody in town knows. The place is a madhouse. There's Shepherds running around looking for him who don't know shit. They didn't have to do trig equations. They didn't have to design and construct their own primitive telescope out of bamboo. They didn't have to translate vague Jewish prophecies from the original ancient Hebrew. And I think they stole my camel. Or maybe not. I shouldn't accuse. But I got down for one minute to take another reading on this stupid star and I can't because the town is packed, and everyone's bumping into me, because they're all running around looking for him, and I can't get a good read. So he could be anywhere. He could be in any one of these barns. And I turn around… Gone. My camel's gone. And Gaspar and the guys are gone. And I got Shepherds rubbing into me. And I know some of 'em are doing it on purpose. Because anything's gotta look sweet after you've been doing the menage á flock for 3 months. And now my agoraphobia is starting to kick in. And I just had to get out of there.

Joseph. Wow. That's terrible. Well, you're welcome to stay in here with me and my wife, if you need to chill.

Mary. Honey!

King. Your wife?

Joseph. Well, my fiancé. Honey, come here and meet… I didn't catch your name.

King. What are you doing in the barn?

Joseph. Oh. There was no room at the inn.

Mary. There was room, but my "husband" is unemployed, you see, so they stuck us out here.

Joseph. Now do you have to do that?

King. And your child? You have a child, don't you?

Mary. How did he know that?

King. (spotting the baby) He's in the manger!

Mary. Okay, it's not how it looks.

King. You laid him in the manger!

Joseph. She did, actually.

King. Of course! The virgin.

Mary. (blushes) Oh, stop.

King. You laid him in the manger because there was no room at the inn.

Joseph. Actually, we laid him in the manger because the wife and I were about to get busy when you came in.

Mary. Honey!

King. This is wonderful! This is magnificent! There is a God! And no one else is here? I'm the first?

Joseph. Whoa, buddy! I'm the first. And we're gonna keep it that way.

King. Oh, this is marvelous! This is such a privilege. Such an honor to meet you. And you. Both of you. (going to the manger) And you

Mary. (nudging JOSEPH) He's touching the baby.

King. Look at you. You little miracle. You little piece of heaven. You little King of King and Lord of Lords. (to JOSEPH) And you're sure we're alone? It's just the three of us?

Mary. But I will scream.

King. No, no, don't do that. There's no need for that. Let's just keep this quiet. Just keep this between the three of us. No one else needs to know.

(The SHEPHERD pokes his head in the barn door.)

Shepherd. Anybody missing a camel?

King. Get out! …Wait, a camel?

Shepherd. Yeah, I found this camel.

King. What's it look like?

(The SHEPHERD glances outside.)

Shepherd. Brown.

(He takes another look.)

Shepherd. Got a really hot ass.

King. That's her! Come in.

(The KING pulls the SHEPHERD inside and closes the door.)

King. Don't let anybody else in. I'll be right back.

(The KING goes out. The SHEPHERD notices MARY and JOSEPH.)

Shepherd. Hi.

Mary & Joseph. Hi.

Shepherd. Some night, huh?

Joseph. Yeah.

Shepherd. At least you're not out in the street. Crazy out there.

Joseph. Yeah, what's the deal?

Shepherd. Oh, there's this big thing. Angel of the Lord getting everybody all hyped up. Personally I wish I'd stayed home. Got a flock to watch, you know.

Joseph. Sure. A man's got responsibilities.

Shepherd. That's what I said. Angel said she'd watch 'em, though, so I figure, "What the heck?" I mean, it's kind of a once in a lifetime thing, right?

Joseph. What is?

Shepherd. Oh, you haven't heard?

Joseph. No, we had kind of a long day. And taxes tomorrow, you know.

Mary. And no room at the inn.

Joseph. So we thought we'd just hit the hay.

Shepherd. Oh, well it's a child is what it is. Born today.

Joseph. Really? Our child was born today. Well, yesterday.

Shepherd. Oh, is that your kid? He's cute.

(Enter the KING toting as much gold as he can carry. He goes to the manger and starts laying out the gifts.)

King. Okay, here we go. A little gold. Little more gold. Nice, huh? This used to belong to my grandmother. Antique. And frankincense. Very expensive. I'm going to give that to your mom, what do you say?

Mary. Thank you.

Joseph. Mister, what is all this for?

King. Gifts, of course. For the newborn King.

Joseph. But this looks like gold.

King. It is gold.

Joseph. We can't accept this.

King. Of course you can.

Mary. Honey, we could think about it.

Joseph. No, it's too much.

King. Nonsense. Nothing is too much for a King. In fact, you shouldn't accept anything less. In fact, if someone were to come in here later with a buttload of myrrh, for example. I would throw him out on his ass if I were you.

Joseph. (not sure what he's talking about) Yeah, okay.

Mary. This is incredible. How can we ever repay you?

Joseph. My wife will sleep with you.

Mary. Honey!! I will, though.

King. No, you don't understand. They're gifts. For your son. For the newborn King.

Mary. Yeah, you said that. He's not really a King, though.

Joseph. Well, we are related to David.

King. You see!

Mary. This is the City of David. Everybody in town this weekend is related to David.

Joseph. Still.

King. No, now this will all come to pass in time, you'll see. One day, your son will be as mighty as any ruler on Earth. And when that day comes, you just make sure he remembers the name Aabednegash.

Mary. Oh we will. We will. Thank you. Thank you so much. This is the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to us.

King. It's nothing. My pleasure, really.

(As MARY and JOSEPH go back to the baby, the KING chuckles avariciously. The SHEPHERD comes over.)

Shepherd. Wow. That was really nice of you. You really made those people's day.

King. Yes. Well, you know what they say. What goes around comes around.

Shepherd. Well, in that case you got something big comin' around, buddy.

King. You have no idea.

Shepherd. I've never seen anything like it. Here everyone in town is rushing around buying last-minute gifts to heap on that couple up the hill just to suck up to this Jesus kid. And you take time out to come down here and help out a poor family that really needs it, for nothing in return. That's amazing. I'm really glad I got to be here to witness this.

King. Jesus kid?

Mary. Oh, Jacob, this is the answer to our prayers.

Joseph. I know, Miriam. I think there's enough here to pay off the mortgage on the house.

Mary. And we can have a real wedding now.

Joseph. And I'll start my own carpentry business. Screw that Joseph.

Mary. And we'll be able to put little Seymour through college.

Joseph. Oh, Mr. Aabednegash. Thank you again. We'll never forget this. You've changed our lives. And honestly if you need a place to spend the night, you're more than welcome to stay here with us.

King. I think I need to sit down.

(The KING kneels next to the manger with MARY and JOSEPH. The SHEPHERD joins them in the tableau. The ANGEL enters in front of the scene to deliver the epilogue.)

Angel. And it came to pass that King Aabednegash did not wait until everyone else had gone to sleep to take back the gold and sneak away on his camel. Instead, he spent the evening worshipping with Jacob and Miriam Goldmeier and their son Seymour in that little barn at the bottom of the hill. And in the morning he began the long lonely trek back to his own country. He never did find out what happened to his three friends or the Christ child. But he kept in touch with the Goldmeiers over the years, and their son, who grew to be a fine, upstanding young carpenter, and the first in his family to go to a 4-year college. And so it was that a holiday which had begun in a spirit of greed and opportunism, and spawned from an unprecedented whirlwind of publicity had come to mean - for at least that one night - something just a little bit more.

(The ANGEL smiles benevolently. The SHEPHERD starts to say something.)

Angel. And I did not say I would watch your sheep.



The End