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On the Forty-First Day: A Comedy in One Act

by Jan Ackerson  
3/27/2007 / Skits and Plays

As the curtain rises, Noah is walking the decks of the ark. He stops by several animal enclosures and speaks in low tones. When he reaches the porcupines' pen, he stops, a puzzled look on his face.

NOAH: Shem! Come here, son, I want to show you something.

Shem jogs to his father.

SHEM: What is it, Pop?

NOAH: Take a look at the porcupine. Does it look like he's missing several quills, there?

SHEM: Gee, Pop, I dunno. Ham's in charge of the porcupines. Get it? Ham? Pork-upines? (Shem laughs heartily, pleased with his joke.)

NOAH: (sighing) All right, all right. Where's Ham, then?

SHEM: Last time I saw him, he was on the top deck, getting some air. You know, Pop, now that the rain has stoppedit's getting pretty ripe in here. You can't blame him.

NOAH: (another sigh) Run along then, son. Go check on the cats, will you? They've been eyeing the mice recently

Shem exits. Noah climbs a rough wooden ladder to the upper deck, where he finds Ham, sitting with his feet over the edge of the ark. Ham is holding a long stick, and there is a line dangling into the "water." A bandage is wrapped around his hand.

NOAH: What are you doing up here, Hammie?

HAM: You're gonna love this, Pop! II don't want to complain or anything, but I was getting kinda tired of those barley cakes Mom brought. 'What's for breakfast?' 'Barley cakes.' 'What's for lunch?' 'Barley cakes'

NOAH: I get it, boy. Don't tell your mother, but I'm tired of them, too. (They sit in pensive silence for a beat.) So what's this, then?

HAM: Well, I'm trying to catch a fish. (with mounting enthusiasm) I've got this stick, see, and I tied this line to it

NOAH: (very interested) Where'd you get the line?

HAM: Yeah, about that. (sheepishly) You might want to stay away from the back end of the female horse for a while. Her tail might be a little bit sore. AnywayI figured if I dangled this in the water, and a fish saw it, the fish might bite it, and I could pull him up! But

NOAH: But what?

HAM: I needed something to hook the fish. So(he holds up his bandaged hand) I visited the porcupines. I'm pretty sure quills grow back, Pop.

NOAH: Hammie, I'm amazed. What do you call thisthis thing you're doing?

HAM: I've been thinking about that. How 'boutfishing?

NOAH: No, no, that's not right. When I used to go hunting for deer, before the rain, I didn't call it 'deering.' I didn't call hunting for boar 'boaring.'

HAM: Well, it was pretty boring.

The two laugh at the pun. There are several seconds of silence, as they continue to gaze toward the water. Suddenly, something occurs to Noah.

NOAH: How can you be sure the fish will grab that hook?

HAM: Bait, Pop!

NOAH: Not one of your mother's barley cakes

HAM: Nahfish don't like those, either. I used a worm.

NOAH: What? We've only got two!

HAM: Chill, Pop. We HAD two worms, forty days ago. There's a zillion of them now.

NOAH: Oh. Right.

Another minute of silence, then there is a flurry of activity, as Ham struggles with the line. Eventually, he hauls up a fish, which flops on the deck at their feet.

NOAH: So--how're we going to eat this thing?

HAM: Grilled? With some butter and onion?

NOAH: Son, I am NOT going to light a fire on this ark. (They look at the fish again. It is draped in seaweed) I wonderdo you suppose your mother could cut it up real small, and wrap it in some of that seaweed?

HAM: Raw fish? Gross, Pop.

NOAH: Well, let me know if you have a better idea, Mr. Fishing-With-Porcupine-Quills. Where's Japheth?

HAM: It's his turn for tiger litter detail.

NOAH: I'm going to go get him. I want you boys to do some more fishing. This just might catch on.

HAM: (looking at the fish again) It's kinda pretty, isn't it? Look at those colors, all in a row. We should call it aI dunno. I've never seen anything with colors all lined up like that.

NOAH: (eyes toward the sky) It IS pretty. Maybe the Lord God will show us what we should call it. It worked for Adam. Some kind of trout, maybe

He exits, as Ham casts another line into the water.

Jan is a Christian who has traveled through sorrow and depression, and has found victory and grace. She dedicates all writings to her Heavenly Father. Check out Jan's website at
Copywrite Jan Ackerson--2006

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