(An office building in New York City, one of many, many desks are arranged in a small area and a large office is situated at one end. At each of the desks, boxes of product are stacked and men sit, typing away at typewriters. At one desk, HAPPY LOMAN, a grown man past the days of childhood, sits and pounds at a typewriter. The boss, HOWARD WAGNER, a man of similar age, pokes his head out of the large office.)
HOWARD: A word, Loman?
HAPPY: Yes, sir --
HOWARD: Don’t bother with all that ‘sir’ nonsense. Our fathers were friends; hell, your father named me!
HAPPY: Of course, s- Howard.
(HOWARD smiles at HAPPY, they move into the office.)
HOWARD: Now, Harold. You’ve been working for us for a few years now and well, sales haven’t been great.
HAPPY: I know, sir, but I only --
HOWARD: I let you take over your father’s job because he was one of the best salesmen we had, but I’m expecting a bit, well, more, you understand?
HAPPY: Yes, of course, but --
HOWARD: Perfect! Glad we’re on the same page! Now I just need to go over a few things...
(HOWARD drops a pen. HAPPY goes to pick it up but stops. The voice of Willy is heard, ‘And if anything falls off the desk while you’re talking to him—like a package or something —don’t you pick it up. They have office boys for that.’ HAPPY visibly shakes it off and picks the pen up, handing it to HOWARD.)
HOWARD: Thank you, Harold, now then. You just finished a trip for us?
HAPPY: Ah, yes sir. I’m just coming back from New Haven. I’ll be headed out to Boston next week - just like you asked.
HOWARD: Perfect, and you sold how many units?
HAPPY: Ah, well, you see, sir, I sold, well, three.
HAPPY: Three hundred. Sir.
HOWARD: Well then! And that makes the total number of sales you’ve made this year?
HOWARD: Perfect! And of course, you’ll be coming over this weekend for the barbecue? The wife’s looking forward to it, loves hosting things that woman.
HAPPY: Yes, I’ll be there. I might bring my mother if that’s alright with you. She barely gets out nowadays.
HOWARD: Yes, that’s fine. I’m sure you’ll continue to be a great addition to the team Harold.
HAPPY: It’s Happy.
HAPPY: P-please call me Happy. It’s what my friends call me.
HOWARD: Of course Harold, of course! Now, if you don’t mind, I have to see some people.
HAPPY: Ah, yes, absolutely.
(HOWARD exits. The scene changes to a bar, STANLEY enters, cleaning tables. HAPPY finds his seat and STANLEY brings him a drink.)
STANLEY: A champagne for you Mr. Loman, one of our best sellers. Thanks to you of course.
HAPPY: No, Stanley. I can’t. I don’t sell champagne anymore.
STANLEY: Well, that shouldn’t stop you from pulling off one of those old Happy Loman maneuvers! See that bird over there?
HAPPY: The looker in the red?
STANLEY: Yeah. She’s been sitting in that spot for two hours. She’s been stood up, I’ll bet ya a tenner on that.
HAPPY: (scoffs) A fool’s bet. (He puts a ten-dollar bill on the table anyway.)
STANLEY: Now a woman like that has to be pretty desperate for company. All you’ll have to do is offer her a sample - then she’ll be all yours. She’ll practically fall right in your lap.
HAPPY: Thanks, Stan.
(HAPPY stands up and straightens his tie, walking over to the LADY.)
LADY: May I help you, sir?
HAPPY: Actually, miss, I was hoping you would try some of this champagne? (He offers her his glass.) You see, It’s my own personal brand. I would love to know what you think of it. (She takes a sip and smiles.) Of course, I can offer, uh, compensation?
LADY: Oh, really? And what kind of compensation is that?
HAPPY: (Flustered) You get to keep the bottle.
HAPPY: Sorry ma’am. I know it’s a lot to drink on your own but surely a pretty lady like you can find a friend.
(The LADY exits. HAPPY stands up, intending to leave. STANLEY stops him.)
STANLEY: What was that? Happy Loman losing a bird? What happened?
HAPPY: I don’t know Stan. Wish I did.
STANLEY: What happened to the old Happy Loman?
HAPPY: I don’t know. Just, I don’t know. If she comes back, give her these. (He throws a pair of stockings on the table.) Tell her it’s her compensation.
(The scene changes, the old Loman house appears, still surrounded by ever-growing buildings. LINDA is out the front of the house, going through the mail at the mailbox. She finishes her stack and sighs.)
(LINDA takes a seat on the stoop, defeated. Beat. She walks to the side of the house, a garden is thriving. She takes a hoe out of a nearby bucket of gardening tools and begins working in the garden. From stage right, HAPPY enters.)
HAPPY: Evening Mom, I brought you some flowers. Lilies from Mr. Marwood’s.
LINDA: Oh Happy, thank you. Just put them in a vase from under the sink. I’ll be in in a minute. I just need to finish this row.
HAPPY: Ma, why do you keep doing this? You never liked gardening.
LINDA: Your father could never get this garden going, I owe it to him.
HAPPY: You don’t owe that man anything.
LINDA: Yes, I do. He was your father and he worked so hard. He tried so hard for you and your brother.
HAPPY: And now Biff hasn’t come home in months. Have you gotten a letter?
LINDA: Nothing. Not even a mailing address.
LINDA: Do you want some lemonade?
HAPPY: I’m fine, Mom. Don’t fret over me.
LINDA: I’m your mother, I’ll always fret over you - it’s my job.
(They enter the house, LINDA takes lemonade out of the new refrigerator, a practical model. HAPPY goes to the cupboard and places two glasses on the table, LINDA cuts a lemon and places slices in each glass; HAPPY pours the lemonade. They sit in silence for a moment.)
HAPPY: Do you think I've become too much like dad? Every day I just --
LINDA: You just what?
HAPPY: I just - I'm beginning to understand him. I'm beginning to understand why.
LINDA: (enraged) Why what, Happy? Why that man, why he - (sobs) I've lost your father, I've lost your brother. I won't - I can't lose you too.
HAPPY: You're not gonna lose me. I just said that I understand. This job is worthless. Sure it puts money in the bank and food on the table but it doesn't put a fire in my soul. It's not what I wanted. I don't want to do this anymore. I should've gone off and done something. I should've done something more. Biff-
(LINDA breathes sharply)
Biff had the right idea.
LINDA: Oh Happy. I know you have regrets but you're comfortable! You just need to find a nice girl!
HAPPY: I’ve tried. By God, I’ve tried. But I can’t. I have every opportunity to go out with girls, out to dinner and the movies, but I just can’t find the energy. I spend all day trying to sell a product for a ridiculous price. The only time I lose any of them is when I give one away to some girl I don’t sleep with.
(Suddenly embarrassed, he realizes this is his mother he is talking to. LINDA sits at the table, looking away from him.)
HAPPY: Look, Mom, I better go. I shouldn’t have --
LINDA: No. You shouldn’t have. I am your mother and I will always be there for you but I won’t have you going down the same path as your father. You’re all I have left.
HAPPY: Mom --
LINDA: No. We’re not talking about this, I can’t go putting ideas in your head.
HAPPY: Mom. I need to go.
LINDA: Hap --
HAPPY: I need to go. Make sure to put the lilies in the vase.
LINDA: I love you.
HAPPY: I --
LINDA: I love you because you are my son, you are my family.
HAPPY: I love you too. Good night.
LINDA: Good night.
(HAPPY exits, LINDA cleans the lemonade up and begins gardening once again. LINDA freezes. The sound of an engine starting is heard and a car runs for a moment before stopping. The stage is silent and LINDA resumes movement. LINDA goes to the mailbox once again and sorts through the stack of mail.)
(LINDA resumes her spot gardening. A phone dials and rings twice. HOWARD appears and begins knocking on the door.)
HOWARD: Mrs. Loman? Mrs. Loman?
(LINDA approaches from the side of the house, hoe in hand.)
LINDA: Oh. Mr. Wagner, what are you doing here?
HOWARD: Ah, Mrs. Loman! Have you seen Harold? He hasn’t been to the office in quite a few days.
LINDA: Isn’t he on one of those business trips? Maine? No, New Haven? No. I’ve got it! Boston! Isn’t he supposed to be in Boston?
HOWARD: You haven’t seen him then?
LINDA: No. Is he not in Boston?
HOWARD: We can’t find him anywhere. I’m sorry Mrs. Loman but I was hoping that you knew.
The lights turn blue, LINDA sits on the stoop. The sound of a car motor is heard. HOWARD exits. The sound of a horse’s neigh is heard. A phone rings. LINDA exits. The mailbox falls. The lights return away from blue. Beat. The lights go out.