A Remembered Argument

A man sits on the floor of his apartment, throwing a small blue ball against the wall and catching it as it bounces off.  His face is blank, and he stares off into space, not watching what he is doing.  The sound of the ball hitting the floor, the wall and being caught echoes through the apartment.

(The following scene is only heard as the man replays the events in his head.  We only see the scene through the furniture, objects and aftermath of the argument, as well as hear the sounds [shown in bold brackets] taking place around the argument.  And throughout the entire thing, we can still hear the sound of the ball hitting the wall.)

We see a dinner set up on the dining table.  The meal is over and we see one of the plates is almost empty.  There are two bottles – one champagne, the other sparkling cider – open on the table.  One  champagne flute is standing, mostly full, near the woman’s place.

MAN: [bottle popping open] And a glass of normal bubbly for me . . . [twist-off bottle opening] and a glass of non-boozey bubbly for you.  [Two glasses are filled.]
WOMAN:  I don’t get the normal bubbles?
MAN:  Not when you drink for two.  I won’t be lording it over you; this is my last drink until it’s over.  After that, we can go on a week bender.  We can bathe in the stuff.
WOMAN: Is that what all this is about?
MAN: All . . .?
WOMAN:  The dinner.  The sparkling cider.  The fact that the apartment is clean for once.

The apartment is very clean.  There are rose petals strewn across the floor and table.  On the walls are pictures of the couple: at parties, different locations, laughing, dancing, kissing.

MAN:  This apartment is always clean.
WOMAN:  The fact that I didn’t clean the apartment for once.
MAN:  I walked into that one.  I’m trying to get used to doing more housework for when your ankles are swollen and all you’ll want weird food like ice cream and mustard.
WOMAN: I like ice cream and mustard now.
MAN:  See?
WOMAN:  I’m not a blimp yet.
MAN: Practice.  You want me trying to figure out how to do this once the water breaks?
WOMAN:  Hmmm.  And is the dinner practice too?
MAN:  As well as a preemptive celebration to you saying, “I do.”
WOMAN:  Hmmmm.
MAN:  You said “a week” a week ago.  I realize it was kind of sudden, looking back on it, but seeing as we’re stuck together now we might as well, right?  . . . what?  [The ring is pushed across the table.]

We see the table from a different angle, reveiling the engagement ring that is between the bottles.

MAN:  Oh.  Guess ‘preemptive’ was the word.

We return to the man at the door, bouncing the ball.  His eyes have gotten watery.

MAN:  I mean, there’s nothing saying we have to get married; plenty of people have kids out of it.  I guess I just don’t understand.  We’ve been together eight years, lived together for five.  I just don’t –
WOMAN: Because I couldn’t.  I thought about it, I thought about it a lot, and I was having trouble breathing and  I couldn’t focus at work.  I yelled at my assistant the other day for no real reason. I just . . . I can’t.  I just –
MAN:  Okay.  It’s all right.  Umm.  I love you, that’s all that matters.  If you don’t want to get married –
WOMAN: – it’s not that –
MAN:  – if you don’t want to, that’s all right.  And it’s probably for the best.  We have a lot on our plate right now, and a wedding would just get in the way. As long as you’re here, it doesn’t matter what we call ourselves.  Maybe in a few years, thing’ll be different, maybe you’ll feel different and –
WOMAN:  No.  I won’t feel different.  That’s it.
MAN:  What?
WOMAN:  I’m . . . I’m going to be staying with Stacey for the next few nights.
MAN:  What are you saying?
WOMAN:  I’ll give you a call after that and we can figure out –
MAN:  No.  No.  You can’t do this, you can’t walk out.  [The woman gets up and takes her plate with her.]

One place at the table is empty, save the napkin that has been left.  

WOMAN:  I’m sorry –  [Running water.]
MAN:  You can’t just walk out.  Eight years, eight years together.  Were they bad?
WOMAN:  No.
MAN:  Then?  How long have you felt like this?
WOMAN:  Not long.
MAN:  Since I proposed?  [Running water shuts off.]

The woman’s plate and utensils sit on a drying rack near the kitchen sink.  They are still dripping onto the counter.

WOMAN:  Yes.  No.  It was before that.
MAN:  Why didn’t you talk to me?
WOMAN:  We’re talking now.
MAN:  Before now!  This is not talking!  This is not an exchange of ideas to come to a conclusion, to find a compromise, to work it out.  You’ve already worked it out!  [She walks back towards the dining room.]
WOMAN:  Baby, please –
MAN:  Baby!  We’re having a baby together, and you’re walking out because you got cold feet about a wedding you’ve said no to?
WOMAN:  No.
MAN:  No?
WOMAN:  No, that’s not why I have to leave.
MAN:  Then , “No,” what?
WOMAN:  No.  We’re not having a baby.
MAN:  Pardon?
WOMAN:  I’m not having a baby.  [Glass breaking.]

The man’s glass of champagne is broken on the floor.  Tiny bubbles can still be seen in the liquid.  The man at the door wipes tears away from his eyes without disturbing the cadence of the ball hitting the wall.

MAN:  What did you do?  [The woman grabs a towel and walks towards the spill, and starts to clean it up.]
WOMAN:  I’m not ready to have a kid.  I don’t know if I even want to have a kid –
MAN:  So you just up and have an abort – stop cleaning that and look at me!  [The man grabs the towel and throws it across the room.  The sound of something falling, and then of breaking glass.]

One of the pictures of the couple on the way was hit by the towel and fell to the floor, breaking the glass.  The towel sits, half wet with champagne, next to the broken picture.

WOMAN: – and then you proposed, and I couldn’t stand the thought of . . . of this happening, so –
MAN:  Well, it is.
WOMAN:  I just thought –
MAN:  You thought.  You would have known if you talked to me about it.
WOMAN:  You would have just guilt-tripped me into keeping it and into staying and then three, five, eight years down the road I would have wasted more of my life –
MAN:  Wasted?
WOMAN:  That’s not what I meant –
MAN:  What did you mean?
WOMAN:  It was just too much.  If it had just been the marriage, or maybe just . . . I could have managed.  But you just laid both on me –
MAN:  [The man stands.]  Don’t blame this shit on me!  I’m not the one who killed our baby and then tried to sneak away.
WOMAN:  I’m not blaming you.
MAN:  Without one word, not ONE word with me until it was too late to do anything about it.
WOMAN:  It’s my body –
MAN:  And it was my child!  A part of me was in there.  I may not have had to carry the thing, but you can’t say I wasn’t invested.  This isn’t about that.  Yes, I wanted you marry me; yes, I wanted a baby; I would’ve have fought for either of those, would’ve been hurt if you still decided to go that way, but I would have backed off after seeing you, hearing you.
WOMAN:  Please –
MAN:  But you couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me, could you?
WOMAN:  Oh god –
MAN:  Did you terminate before or after I asked you to marry me?  [The woman walks to the coffee table, picks up her purse.]
WOMAN:  I have to go.
MAN:  Why?  Stay here.  Talk to me.  I’m upset as shit, but I can forgive.  I still love you –
WOMAN:  No, you don’t –  [The woman opens the front door.  The man grabs her and turns her around.]
MAN:  I love you.
WOMAN:  You can’t.  Not after this.  I knew you wouldn’t be able to –
MAN:  We can work through this –
WOMAN:  Let me go.
MAN:  Not until you sit down and tell me why.
WOMAN:  I told you why, let me go –
MAN:  Bullshit.  Stay.
WOMAN:  Let me go.
MAN:  Please, don’t.
WOMAN:  Let me GO!  [Slap.]

Seeing a new angle on the man, we see that on one side of his face is a red mark in the shape of a hand.

WOMAN:  I’m sorry.  I can’t stay.  You say you can forgive . . . but you won’t.  You can’t.  I can’t . . . do it myself.  I can’t stay after this, it’s too much.  Let me go.  I’m sorry.  [The door closes.]

We now see the room and the chaos that was caused.  Half of the table is empty, an engagement ring sits alone between two bottles, a broken glass of champagne spreads across the floor, a picture of the couple is broken next to a used towel.  The man continues to hit the ball against the wall.  Cut to black.man-alone-empty-room-2854988828-1s00n2u

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A Scene from “Vigil” – Bobby & Mark Meet Up

FADE IN:

INT. BAR – NIGHT

MARK and BOBBY walk into the bar.  Mark is in his late 20’s early 30’s, unshaven and wearing a beat up baseball cap.  Bobby, in his mid-20’s, is a little more clean cut and well dressed.  The bartender walks over to them.  Mark is in an upbeat mood.  Bobby, however, is solemn and distant.  They walk up to the bar.

BOBBY
Thanks for coming out tonight.

MARK
Eh, what are drinks among friends, right?
(to bartender)
I’ll have a Bud Lite and Mr. Happy-Funtime here will have a –

BOBBY
A shot of whiskey.

MARK
See?  Happy-Funtime.  Bud Lite and two shots of whiskey.

The bartender gets the beer and pours two shots.  Mark picks up his shot and raises to toast.  Bobby downs the shots.

BOBBY
Another.

MARK
To long life?

Bobby takes the shot.

BOBBY
Another.

MARK
I think he’s okay for right now.

Bobby shoves his shot glass closer to the bartender.  The bartender pours another shot.  Bobby looks at the shot, and then downs it like the rest.

MARK (CONT’D)
Okay, big man, what’s eating you?

BOBBY
Mark, do you –

MARK
Yeah?

Mark takes his shot.

BOBBY
Do you ever think about that day?

MARK
Jesus, Bobby.

BOBBY
Do you really think about it?

MARK
It was more than a year ago.  I miss her too, but you need to let go.

BOBBY
But do you ever really think about?  Think about why –

MARK
There is no why, Bobby.  You can search the world for a meaning, in the end all it is was a gunshot at a wedding.

BOBBY
I’ve been going over every detail, everything that I can remember, hoping to find something new.

MARK
Over a year ago, and you think you’re going to find something new?

BOBBY
I remembered a license plate.

MARK
Buoy for you.

BOBBY
I checked online and I was able to find a match and I went to the address that was listed there.

MARK
How many different combinations of letters and numbers could your brain put together?  For all you know you went to the photographer’s house.

BOBBY
It’s him.

MARK
Bobby –

BOBBY
I knocked at his door, and looked him in the eye.  I spoke with him.  Heard his voice.

MARK
This was supposed to be a couple of drinks –

BOBBY
You remember that voice, don’t you?  Screaming for people to get out of the way.  “A wedding gift.”  I know you remember it.  I found him Mark.

MARK
So then, call the police.

BOBBY
They’ve been working on this for a year and all they have done is say my fiancé is dead from a bullet to the chest.

MARK
So what are you going to do?

BOBBY
She was my wife, Mark.

MARK
I know Bobby.  I was there.

BOBBY
And I never stopped.  While you and everyone else got on with their lives, I stayed behind to rustle through what was left, to find who did this.  And now –

MARK
Now what?  Thinking you might go vigilante a little bit and expend your own justice?  Jesus, Bobby, where’s your head?  You’re not that, you don’t have the steel for that.

BOBBY
But you do.

MARK
Fuck you.

BOBBY
You said that if you ever found the bastard you would kill him.  That you would never stop until –

MARK
Fuck you.

BOBBY
– and I figured with your past –

MARK
What about it?  I’ve been through some shit and I dealt more than I like, and I know that it doesn’t get you justice.  Don’t you dare go and say that I stopped caring, you little prick.  Yeah, she was your wife, but she was my sister, and she was that a hell of long time before she met your fancy city ass so you wipe that indignant look off your face.

BOBBY
You don’t know what we had.

MARK
Who do you think you’re talking to?  I knew her for her entire life.  I don’t know?  Let me tell you something about this lady that I don’t have a goddammned clue about; she would have rather taken her own life than to ever raise a hand against another person, no matter what the justification. She was the best person I will ever know, and I hate facing the fact that I’ll never hear her laugh again.

Mark drinks the rest of his beer.

MARK (CONT’D)
She wouldn’t have wanted it.  You dishonor her memory by considering it. You do this, the only thing that will happen is that you will have gotten yourself killed and piddled away what little family I have left.  And to lose you after . . . after everything, Bobby . . . she wouldn’t have wanted it.

Bobby gets up to leave.

BOBBY
I’m going to see him again.  You can’t stop me.

Bobby takes out money and tosses it on the bar.

BOBBY (CONT’D)
Drinks are on me.  Good-bye Mark.

Bobby leaves.  Mark sits in silence.  Then he looks to the bartender.

MARK
Hey, how much for that rest of that whiskey?  It’s happy-fucking-funtime.

END OF SCENE

An Exercise In Arguing The Other Side

Preface – The following monologue does not represent my own beliefs.  A couple of years ago I was tasked with writing and performing a piece at a small theatre, of which I was having some difficulty with.  I talked with the director and he said that he had an idea that would be perfect for me.  There are times when you are talking with a person and you are getting a long perfectly, when they suddenly give an opinion or make a statement that it so drastically opposite of your own that it completely breaks your perception of that person.  Lawrence Kasdan called it “The Big Chill” and based an entire movie off of it.  So I set to write a monologue that argued a viewpoint that was in opposition of my own, and it really worked.  Writing and performing this monologue was uncomfortable for me and the audience responded just how I wanted them to (shocked and disturbed).  By putting a human voice to the issue, by making that voice a good person, it’s harder to demonize the opposition which is something we all tend to do on these sorts of issues.  But just remember, the following is in no way representative of my own beliefs.  Honestly, the only thing I care about marriages and the law is I think there should be a federal fund to have a required open bar at every wedding, and I’m willing to pay any tax to reach that end.

Jerimiah: So, what do you think about gays getting married?

(waits for audience reaction/silence)

Jerimiah:  Hmmm.  That’s what most people say.  Some believe that people are afraid to say what they think on the matter because you may never know who will turn out to be gay.  That guy right there might be gay.  The girl in the revealing outfit might be a big lesbo.  Who knows?  It’s almost trendy to be homosexual now.  So no one wants to say what they really feel about the subject of gay marriage because they are afraid they might offend the person sitting next to them.  But that’s not the real reason.  The real reason is because people just know it’s wrong, but they can’t explain why it is.  They understand it is a sin and a crime against nature, but they don’t have the words to express this feeling.  It’s trendy to be a queer, and peer pressure has a way of . . . crippling morals.

Now I’m not some nut case on a power trip, or a closet-case trying to hide myself by railing against my own kind.  I don’t buy into the bullshit that, “If you let a man marry another man today, you’ll get a man marrying a Chihuahua tomorrow.”  The homosexual and the zoophile have nothing in common, unless the zoophile wears stylish tight jeans.  And frankly, if you have to resort to fornication with a small rodent-like animal, I would presume that you do not have enough fiduciary stability for fashion.  And I’m not a homophobe.  Some of my dearest friends are gay, good people, people I trust with my life, the life of my children.  They, like anyone else on this earth, can be the most courageous examples of humanity.  But of divinity?  The smartest kid in my class room is gay, and he is going to go places.  Big places.  And at the end, one low, dark, horrible place.

Because homosexuality, in all its forms (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) are against God’s law.  It is stated clearly in the Bible, in the word of God.  Leviathans 18:22.  “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”  Leviathans 20:13.  “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act.”  And Corinthians.  6:9.  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, nor homosexuals, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Do I think it’s fair?  Fuck no, I don’t think it is fair, but damned if it isn’t simple.  Because I don’t get to make the decision.  I don’t get to write the book.  We don’t get to pick and choose which rules we follow.  We don’t get to decide what laws to abide by and what laws to upend, especially not His law.  So if that means that God says that some of my friends have to be damned, then they will be.

So what do I think about gay marriage?  Officially, I am against it, because who ever said faith was easy?

A Carpenter Speaks His Mind

Based off of a conversation I overheard years ago.

Mike the Carpenter:  Are you kidding me?  Those people aren’t LA folks.  You don’t know any true LA folks except me.  Los Angeles is a hub for the interstate immigrant.  All these people from across the country, across the fucking globe, come here in hopes for the quick bucks and star dreams.  They come out here, trying to be LA, act LA, but they don’t know the first thing about what it’s like because the people they learn from aren’t people who are from here!  They come out here and take our jobs, eat our food, live off our land, pack our freeways, drink our liquor and sleep with our women.  They flick their cigarette butts out their windows and pee in our oceans.  They act like dicks all in the name of “Pursuing the Dream” or some horseshit like that.  They give us a bad name.  And then after seven to fifteen years they realize they are nothing but a bunch of boring, country bumpkins and that they never stood a chance out here.  Then they move back to Bumfuck, Iowa or wherever they come from, marry the fat girl across the street, poop out a few kids and then live out the rest of their lives waiting for their children to put them in a home.  And what are we left with?  Scars.  They’ve turned a gorgeous land of boardwalks and orange groves into a dried husk.  And they’ll tell their friends back home, “Oh yeah, I hate LA.  It’s a shitty town covered in glitter and asphalt.”  But they know it was because it was filled with people just like them, fucking parasites.  And they’ll feel a pang of guilt, as they should!  But it won’t last long, because they never took the time to love this city.  Not like I do.

Phil the Student:  So what is the real Los Angeles?

Mike the Carpenter:  Not your Hollywood clubs or film openings, I can tell you that.  Los Angeles is the palm tree silhouette at sunset.  It’s sharing a cervesas with a few immigrants who don’t speak much English that you’ve hired to help you build a fence, and laughing together for no real reason.  It’s culture reinvented.  It’s the pull of the Pacific surf that carries away your troubles.  It’s good, hard working people who come here not to live the dream but to simply live.  It’s heat and sea breeze.  It’s a blooming rose all year long.   It’s all of that, piled under the trash left by tourists.

Phil the Student:  Do you have to be born here to be true LA?

Mike the Carpenter:  No, but the odds aren’t in their favor.

Phil the Student:  So . . . which one am I?

Mike the Carpenter: (pauses, swings his beer, stares at Phil)  How long have you been here?

Phil the Student:  About five years.

Mike the Carpenter:  Hmm.  Give it three more, and then we’ll see. 

Miss By An Inch – Part 2

The music changes to another stringy ballad.

Samantha:  Oh damn, time is just going by so fast.  Help me get my borrowed old new blue shit on.

She rushes to the desk and picks up a blue necklace, a ribbon, earrings and a ring and goes back to the mirror.  She hands the necklace to Barry.

Barry:  I almost asked you out to that prom.

Samantha:  Really?

Barry:  Yeah.  Neither of us had dates just yet, and I figured who else would be better to go with.  But Neil got to you first.

Samantha:  We ended up spending most of it together anyway.

Barry:  Yeah.  (Pause)  I almost asked you out dozens of times.

Sam stops putting on the little gifts.

Samantha:  Really?

Barry:  Yeah.

Samantha:  When?

Barry:  All of high school.  The one I remember the most is Valentine’s Day our senior year.  I hid roses in my locker, along with a bull fighter’s tuxedo, two of those little finger clapping things and some cologne.  We had just learned the tango in our dance class and I was going to dance up to you, with a rose in my mouth and those little clappers clicking, pick you up and dip you, take the rose out of my mouth and ask (suavely)  Do you want to go to dinner?

Samantha:  Really?

Barry:  And if you said yes, I would put the rose in your mouth, and we would’ve tangoed all the way down the hall.

Samantha:  Wow.  That would have been great.  Why didn’t you?

Barry:  I don’t know.  Chickened out I guess.  I was all dressed up, practicing my moves so I wouldn’t fall, rose all prepared, cologne making me smell like a man.  And then I saw you walk past, and I was going to go for it but . . .

Samantha:  But?

Barry:  I started on the wrong foot, or you were walking the wrong way.  Towards me.  Or away from me.  I don’t really remember.  All I know is I suddenly felt wrong, so I just hid in the corner, waited for everyone to get to class, snuck out to my locker, changed and went home.

Samantha:  Oh.  That’s sad.  You should have asked me.  I would’ve said yes.

Barry:  Seriously?

Samantha:  Yeah.  Even with Michael, no one else can take my breath away quite the way you can.

Barry:  Well . . . fuck.  Too late now.

Samantha:  Yes.  Now would not be the appropriate time to ask me on a date.  (Pause)  Do you ever regret it?

Barry:  Not asking you out that day?

Samantha:  Yeah.

Pause.

Barry:  Everyday of my life.

Pause.  Sam turns around.  They are both suddenly aware of how close they are standing next to one another.

Samantha:  What are you saying?

Barry:  Not much.  I love you.  Nothing new.

Samantha:  What type of love?

Barry:  I don’t know.  Ask Oprah.  For me, loving you has always been enough, I never questioned what type.

Sam turns around again, and looks at herself in the mirror.

Samantha:  This must be hard for you.

Barry:  No.  And yes.

Samantha:  And now it’s hard for me.

Barry:  Yeah.

Samantha:  Do you want to do this?  I can walk myself down.

Barry:  No.  Do you still want me to?

Samantha:  (Pause)  Yes.

Pause.

Barry:  Like I said, giving you away is the greatest gift I could think of.  Besides, I’m keeping the toaster I bought you, and I ain’t buying another one.

They hug each other.

Barry:  I’m sorry Sam.  I never had trouble with anything in my life, but I was always one step behind you.  Just an inch off, and I was too scared to jump it.

Samantha:  It’s all right.  I’m happy the way my life is turning out.  Are you happy?

Barry:  Yeah actually.

Pause.

Samantha:  The perfect match, missed only by an inch.

Barry:  Well, it’s only an inch.  Close enough for me.

Samantha:  Me too.

The church bells start to ring.  The time has come, the cue is up.

Barry:  Ready?

Samantha:  (wiping her eyes.)  Yes.

Barry:  Let’s go.

Barry turns to go, but Sam stays for a second.  She pulls him in to kiss him, but he stops.  She puts his hands on both sides of her face and kisses his forehead.  They hug each other.  Sam smiles, checks herself in the mirror, and then goes.  Barry stays behind, looks at himself in the mirror.

Barry:  That was you one chance to kiss her you know.

He puts his hand up to his face and measures how far his forehead is from his mouth.

Barry:  Close enough.

Barry walks out and closes the door.  The Bridal March starts.  Lights fade.

Missed By An Inch – Part 1

Lights up.  Samantha is getting ready for her wedding in a private room in a church.  The sun is coming through the stain glass windows which are bright colors of red, green, yellow and blue making the floor look like a mosaic.  Above each stain glass window is a small, round window of normal glass, filling the room with regular noon sunlight creating a very heavenly look about the place.  There is a desk near the window with a bible, a pad of paper and a pen on it.  To the left is a full length mirror which Samantha is checking herself in.  To the right is the door to the rest of the church.  Samantha takes a deep breathe and loses her eyes in preparation.  There is a knock on the door.

Samantha:  Come in.

In walks Barry, who is dressed in a nice suit but not a tuxedo.

Barry:  How you feeling?

Samantha:  (rapidly.)  I’m not sure this dress looks right.  I told Michael I didn’t feel right wearing white, I would rather wear yellow.  I don’t feel right in this color.  I don’t feel right in this church.  I’m not Christian and I’ve told him I am not converting.  I haven’t done anything morally wrong in my life, but even if I did, I wouldn’t want to be saved by the likes of the Catholics.  Or Baptists.  Or born again, whatever the hell these people are.  I mean it doesn’t really matter to me one way or the other.  I want to get married, any way is fine with me, but it just doesn’t feel right.  And white is definitely NOT my color.

Barry:  I thought orange wasn’t your color.

Samantha:  It isn’t, at all.  It is a disgusting color that should be stricken from the spectrum, but anything would have been better than white.  This dress makes me look paler, or redder, or something.

Barry:  So you’re nervous?

Samantha:  No.  Not really.  Maybe a little.

Barry:  It’s okay to be, you know.

Samantha:  I’m kinda nervous.

Barry:  I mean, this is a big thing.  Being nervous is natural.

Samantha:  I’m a bit edgy, but I still have control.  I’m not sweating and that is always a sign that I am nervous.  I mean, my palms are a little sweaty, but I have had them clinched up in fists all morning, so that is natural.  So no, I am not nervous.  Not.

Barry:  I think you look beautiful.

Samantha:  (Pauses, letting out a breath.)  I’m really scared.

Barry:  That’s all right.

Samantha:  It has nothing to do with the dress being white.

Barry:  The dress is fine.

Samantha turns and faces Barry.

Samantha:  How am I getting married?  I never thought I would.  I always wanted to, but I never thought I would.  It’s insane.  What if we don’t get along?  What if we fight all the time?  What if he starts to beat me?

Barry:  Mike won’t beat you.

Samantha:  What if I start to beat him?

Barry:  Sam . . .

Samantha:  What if I can’t bare children?  Or miscarry?  Or they turn out to be mutants that can shoot birds out of the sky with laser beam eyes and catch flies with their tongues like frogs?

Barry:  Yeah, you’re going to give birth to mutant babies.

Samantha:  What if his parents don’t like me?

Barry:  I thought you said his parent loved you?

Samantha:  They do.  And I love them, they’re great.  But I don’t know them.

Barry:  You’ve known them for two years.

Samantha:  Yes, but don’t know them.  Not like your parents.

Barry:  You’ve known my parents for more than fifteen years.  You know them better than I do.

Samantha:  I’m just saying there are tons of things that can go wrong.  What if it doesn’t work out?  What is the church falls down before we kiss?  What if I have bad breath?  What if there is a nuclear explosion?  (Pause)  What if I trip?

Barry:  You won’t trip.

Samantha:  But what if I do?

Barry:  Well, I will be right next to you.  I will catch you, do some twirly, dipping dance move and then we will keep walking.  It’ll be like we planned it.

Samantha hugs Barry.

Samantha:  Thank you for being here.  For doing this.  My father is supposed to walk me down the aisle, not my best friend.  I wouldn’t have asked you, but I couldn’t ask my father.  He’d likely be drunk and grab my ass all the way down to the altar.

Barry:  Well hey, who wouldn’t?

Samantha leads Barry to the chair at the desk and sits him down.

Samantha:  It’s a lot of responsibility giving me away.  To me at least.  As far as I know, this is my last walk as a single woman.  Beyond those last thirty or so steps, I have to think about more than just myself.  I have to think about my husband, my family.  It won’t be “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” anymore, it’ll be . . . I don’t know . . . “The Cosby Show”.  My world is suddenly narrowing and expanding horribly at the same time.  You are the one that has to stand by me and witness it.  The church is filled with people, spectators, but you . . . you are the witness, my witness.  You are the only other person that matters to me.  It matters to me.

Barry:  Sam . . .

Samantha:  You were the only really good man in my life till I met Michael.  You are still the best man I know.  You’ve been more than my best friend.  I couldn’t trust anybody else with this other than you.  I need you here.  I need you Barry.  I think I always will.

Barry stands up, but says nothing.  Samantha is tearing up a little.

Barry:  Wow.  That came out all at once.

Samantha:  What?

Barry:  I mean, I knew, I know all of that.  But I thought it would’ve come out, like, little by little over the span of like, ten minutes.  We have so much time to kill now.

Samantha:  (A little hurt)  Is that all you have to say?

Barry:  No, I just needed some think time.  I would do anything for you Sam.  Giving you away is the least of it.  I wouldn’t be anywhere else.  I would even skip my wedding to be here.  I’m glad you asked me.

Samantha:  Really?

Barry:  Yes.  I was just going to get you a toaster, but this is a much better gift I think.

They hug again.  Sam then turns around to look into the mirror again.

Samantha:  Awww shit.  I’m crying.

She goes over to the desk, which has a box of tissues on it, takes one and starts to wipe her eyes.

Samantha:  You don’t think God hates me for cursing in a church, do you?

Barry:  Well isn’t forgiveness his big game?

Samantha:  Fuckin’ A.

Sam blows her nose, throws the tissue away and then takes out a compact mirror from her purse and fixes her make-up.  Barry goes to the mirror and fixes his tie.

Barry:  I can’t believe I wasn’t able to get a tuxedo.

Samantha:  The suit looks fine.

Barry:  Every other person is wearing a tuxedo.  Even some of the girls.

Samantha:  What happened to yours?

Barry:  My dad is wearing it.  He refuses to wear rented clothes.  Something about “dignity” and “kids today aren’t what they used to be.”  He could have bought his own if he wasn’t such a tight ass.

Samantha:  That sounds like him.

Barry:  He might be a little cold to you today.  He’s a little hurt that you didn’t ask him to do this.  He feels that he has become a dad to you over the years.

Samantha:  I thought about it.

Barry:  He was surprised is all.  So was I.

Samantha:  It would have been cool to have Gerald walk me down, but when I thought of you, that was that.

Music starts to play in the church.  It is not the bridal march, but some soft stringy music.

Barry:  There is the prep song.  Got about six minutes before things start rolling.

Samantha:  Oh God.  How do I look?

Barry:  Super.

Samantha:  You mean it?

Barry:  What else am I supposed to say?

Samantha:  Help me put my veil on.

Sam goes over to the desk, picks up the veil and then stands in front of the mirror.  Barry stands behind here helping her put it on.

Samantha:  They haven’t opened any of champagne have they?

Barry:  No.

Samantha:  I could really use a drink.

Barry:  We’re in a house of God.

Samantha:  They drink wine.

Barry:  The wine is blessed.

Samantha:  We can bend the priest’s arm to bless the champagne.  It’s just sparkling wine, anyway.

Barry:  Holy bubbles in the blood of Christ.  I dig it.  (pause.)  Is this right?

Samantha:  It looks a little lop-sided, don’t you think?

They continue to adjust it.

Barry:  You know you asked me for a drink before the prom?

Samantha:  Did I?

Barry:  You weren’t sure if Neil Bynum liked you enough, and that maybe a shot of whiskey would help “lube” you up.

Samantha:  That’s disgusting.

Barry:  You said it.

Samantha:  Did you give me one?

Barry:  You don’t remember?

Samantha:  I have erased all memories of Neil.

Barry:  I ended up giving you a shot of cough syrup.  Took the edge right off of you.  We went and had a grand old time, you, Neil, Stacy and I.  You were so funny, had everyone on the floor laughing.  You said it is how you became prom queen and why you got lucky that night.

Samantha:  (With fondness)  I remember that part.

Barry:  It’s funny though because the cough syrup was the non-drowsy type. Complete placebo.  I tried a couple of experiments over the years and found out all I have to tell you is that something is a drug and you’ll fall for it every time.

Samantha:  What?  What experiments?

Barry:  First time you tried pot it was oregano.  First time you took a valium it was an aspirin.  Powdered sugar, instead of cocaine.  Got an actor friend of mine to buy bags of powdered sugar, put them in little baggies and sell them to you.  He ended up having to buy more than ten bags of powdered sugar.

Samantha:  Shit.  I can’t believe you did that to me.

Barry:  It was the only way to keep an eye on you.  Remember your 21st birthday, when we went to that bar and you got smashed and picked a fight with that biker by breaking a beer bottle on his head?  You can’t handle your substances, so I would make sure your substances were condiments.  Like a safety net.

Samantha:  Back fired though, didn’t it?

Barry:  So you gained twenty pounds.  You thought the cocaine was doing it to you, and stopped.  That’s a good thing.

Samantha:  But it was powdered sugar.

Barry:  You didn’t know that.  It was a personal triumph for you, beating your addiction.

Samantha:  What did you do with all that money that I spent on it?

Barry:  Bought you stuff.

Samantha:  Really?

Barry:  Yeah.  You never lost a cent.  (Pause)  Well, I took this one girl to Tahiti, but it was only for a week.

Samantha:  You’re not still doing this are you?

Barry:  Me?  No.

Samantha:  Good.  Cause I can take care of myself.

Barry:  Yes, I know.

Pause.

Barry:  Is that good?

Samantha:  Yes.  Yes.

The music changes to another stringy ballad.

Samantha:  Oh damn, time is just going by so fast.  Help me get my borrowed old new blue shit on.

She rushes to the desk and picks up a blue necklace, a ribbon, earrings and a ring and goes back to the mirror.  She hands the necklace to Barry.

Pandas – Part 2

A dart shoots out of the tress and hits Gena, who fall down asleep.  Another dart shoots out at Baebo, but misses.  Two men walk out on either side.  Baebo slashes at them and roars.  They each shoot him, but Baebo keeps on fighting, trying to protect Gena.  One man shoots him again, and Baebo finally lies down.  A Woman walks out and looks at the two bears.  She kneels down and tags them.

WOMAN
All right.  Call them, and tell them to bring the crates.

The humans walk out as the sound of a helicopter descends.  Three concrete walls descend from the sky and cage the two bears.  The light and trees, looking alive and full of wonder before, now look fake.  On top of the wall, people and tourists walk past, stop, look down and continue walking.  Gena wakes up first.

GENA
Whoa.  What’s going on?  Baebo?  Baebo?!

She searches through the leaves until she finds him, knocked out cold.  She shakes him.

GENA
Baebo?  Are you okay?

Baebo stirs a little, and then wakes up with vicious speed.  He puts Gena behind he back and slashes at the air around them.  He spins in a circle quickly to get a basic view of the place.  He stops and looks around again, noticing the walls.  He then looks up.

GENA

Baebo?

BAEBO
Gena, are you all right?

GENA
I’m not sure.  I feel like I am in a dream.  What’s going on?

BAEBO

I don’t know.  (he looks around)  I don’t know what’s going on.

He starts to walk over to the wall.

GENA
What are you doing?

He goes up to the wall and pats it lightly.  Then he knocks on it with his paw.  He scratches at it, but only faint marks are left.

GENA
What is it?

BAEBO
It’s stone.  Hardest thing I have ever felt.

GENA
It’s so flat.

Baebo follows the walls with his eyes.

BAEBO
They’re all around us.  We can’t get out.

Gena spins to look with him.

GENA
What is this?  I don’t understand.

Voices can be heard from atop the wall.  A group of people, led by Woman, walk along.

WOMAN
. . . and here are our prize possessions, one male, Ling Ling, and one female, Xang Xang.  We found these two at least 20 miles from the nearest pack in a secluded part of the forest.  If we had not come along and they might have been lost forever.

BAEBO
What are those?  I’ve never seen anything like them before.

GENA
They’re only walking on their back legs, and so little hair.

BAEBO
Do you hear those noises they’re making?

WOMAN
And we are hoping that these two will mate, creating cubs that can reel in big media coverage and maybe even be used as trade with other countries to ease international relations.  We are hoping to have our own little panda family.  And if you continue walking with me, I can show you another animal that makes this collection very special . . .

The group of humans walks off.  Gena and Baebo stand there, still looking up.

GENA
They were just looking at us.  I don’t like this.

Silence.  Baebo suddenly runs at the wall and tries to climb it, but he can not do it.  The more and more he tries to climb, the more and more frustrated he starts to become.  He gets so angry that he stops trying to climb and starts to slash at the trees.

BAEBO
LET US OUT!!!  YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO KEEP US!!!

Gena crawls into a corner and out of Baebo’s path.  People have started to gather and watch Baebo enraged.

BAEBO
MAY OCACIEA STRIKE YOU DOWN!!!  WHO ARE YOU TO IMPRISON US?!  MAY SHALOOWE STRIKE YOU DOWN!!!

By the time he runs out of steam he has stripped many of the leaves from the trees.  He falls to his knees.  Gena goes behind him and puts her arms around him and shushes him.  Gena looks up to the human crowd that gathered to watch Baebo’s fit.  Pause.

GENA
Why are they doing that?

Baebo looks up at them.  Pause.  The crowd disperses.

GENA
I’ve never seen such a reckless animal.  If you can even call them animals.

BAEBO
We should have never left the pack.  That “paradise” was a trap set up by these monsters.  We would have been safe if we had stayed put.

GENA
I think, one by one, we all would have ended up here.

Gena looks around at the new habitat.

GENA
Trees, sunlight, protection from the outside dangers.  Not a bad place to raise a family.

BAEBO
What?  Gena, nothing about this place is real.  It’s like you said, like we’re in a dream.  A bad dream.  Yes, there are leaves . . .

Baebo picks up some leaves, eats it, and grimaces at the taste.

BAEBO
They might keep us alive, but they won’t fill us up.  They won’t satisfy us.  It tastes dead, like dried mud.

He hands Gena the leaves and she eats them.  A grimace soon comes across her face.

BAEBO
Even the sunlight doesn’t feel good.  It’s not warm, it’s not bright.  It’s like an imitation of Quada’s light.  Like the Gods don’t live here.  How could they?  There’s no open space, no balance to be upheld.  How could they, in this stone tomb?  How could we?

GENA
But we’re still alive.

BAEBO
Not if we stay here.  We’ll end up like these leaves, only a dream.  We have to get out.

Gena sits beside Baebo and lays her head down on Baebo’s lap.  He scratches her ear.

GENA
I’m really scared.

BAEBO
I know.  But they can’t keep us forever.  We’ll find a way out of here and then a way back home.  We’re going to start our own tribe, just like we planned.

GENA
Really?

Baebo nods his head.  Pause.

GENA
You won’t leave without me?

BAEBO
Never.  Never in life.

Pause.  Suddenly, the woman’s voice comes out over a loud speaker system.

WOMAN’S VOICE
Welcome to The Zoo!  Have fun watching lions and tigers play in their natural environment.  Watch elephants and giraffes as if they are in your own living room.  And make sure to catch our panda exhibit over by the Green Pits, a new addition to our family that will hopefully be with us for a looooooooooooooooong tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime . . .

Source – Pilchinsky’s World: Panda Bears Tour in Xian

Fade to black.