by K. Acker
Sometimes it's hard to be with family; Sometimes, it's even harder to escape them.
|(The scene opens in a dim light on an empty living room of a cozy winter cabin. In the middle of the stage there is a couch and coffee table. Stage left in the far corner is a small bare tree and close to the edge of stage is a door leading to the rest of the cabin. Against the far wall is a window and to the side several chests or cabinets. Stage right near the wall is a hansom wooden front door. Near edge of stage is another cabinet. Through the window the audience can see snow piled all the way up to the top of the window. A faint whistling can be heard from the door. The walls and floor are wooden)
(Grady enters from left door and flips light switch to fully light stage. He walks in leaning on his cane dressed in pajamas. He goes to the window and looks out at the piled snow. He tries to tap the window and shake the snow off, but nothing happens.)
Grady: Jiminy Cricket… (calls) Kevin, come out here!
(Kevin walks in fully dressed in jeans and a warm sweater)
Grady: (pointing at window) Look at this. Must have been a huge storm that blew in last night.
Kevin: More like a blizzard.
Grady: I’ve never seen so much snow.
Kevin: I have, in New York.
Grady: Good for you and New York. I’m sure you have a lovely time there.
Kevin: I do, until I have to travel 300 miles North to see you.
Grady: (hallow laugh) Trust me, it wasn’t my idea. Why’d you agree to this anyway?
Kevin: Why’d you?
Grady: I still live with your mother. I don’t have a choice. You still have a chance to rebel…why in the world did you come?
Kevin: (changing subject) That was some uh, storm last night- I mean, blizzard.
Grady: No kidding. I’m going to get firewood.
Kevin: You can’t go out now!
Grady: Don’t tell me what I can’t do! I’ll do what I want.
Kevin: Are you not looking at this? (pointing out window) You won’t make it to the wood pile.
Grady: Kevin, trust me, I’ve been through worse.
Kevin: Look, the woods probably covered in snow and even if it isn’t it’ll be too wet to use for the stove.
Grady: If I can survive the war, I can get some stupid firewood.
(Stubbornly, Grady goes to a corner and starts to put his boots and a thick jacket on, facing away from Kevin. While he does this, Kevin sighs and glances out the window then goes to the door and tries to open it. It doesn’t budge. He tries again, harder. Still it doesn’t move.)
Kevin: Oh, no… (tries again) No, no, it can’t be stuck!
(He continues trying until he’s worn out and proceeds to collapse on the couch. A few moments later Grady finally has his boots and jacket on and goes to door. He tries it himself but it’s still stuck)
Grady: Um, Kevin…
Grady: The doors stuck.
Kevin: Yes, I noticed. It probably froze shut. What’s your ‘war expertise’ say about this?
Grady: Well, if it was an enemy base, we would knock it down, or blow it up…get some dynamite or a tank…cherry bombs even…
Kevin: That’s not funny.
Grady: Well sor-ry son, I guess I was just trying to help.
Kevin: (laughing) Helping…right.
Grady: Jiminy Cricket, Kevin, why are you so difficult? (after silence for an answer) We were supposed to leave this afternoon.
Kevin: Leave or go insane… (in undertone) or commit murder.
Grady: (hopelessly) We were supposed to leave.
Kevin: I know, we would leave after this pointless trip, and go back to the city and complain about how pointless this trip was. I would stay five more days until Christmas, then leave and try to ignore you until mom makes me visit next year. Just like clockwork.
Grady: (forcefully) You got it… (pause) I can’t believe your mother made us do this.
Kevin: ‘It’ll be good bonding’…yeah right.
(Both share a small chuckle)
Grady: Yeah… I still don’t get why you agreed to this.
Kevin: It was…
Grady: You know, if you didn’t come, I would be home watching Jeopardy.
Kevin: Still watching that?
Grady: Yeah, when your mom doesn’t have something else for me to do. I don’t know what she’s trying to accomplish with this.
Kevin: We’ve never gotten along, never will.
Grady: Course not, I hate you.
Kevin: I hate you too. (after a pause) I’m going to finish packing…I’m getting out of here today.
Grady: Oh, you’re getting out. So you have some power I don’t?
Kevin: Well, just because your technology impaired doesn’t mean that I’m not. I brought a cell phone.
Grady: (laughs) Okay smart guy, use your phone.
(Grady smiles patiently while Kevin pulls a cell phone out. He frowns as he looks at the screen)
Kevin: (mumbling) Out of service.
Grady: Way to use your technology Mr. 21st century.
Kevin: You know what? Just stop. I will get us out.
Grady: Oh, I’m included now?
Kevin: Don’t be like that.
Grady: Me? You’re the one who is so stuck up and stubborn…
Kevin: You know, I have trouble with that. You seem to be looking at yourself.
Grady: See? You’ve never given me a chance.
Kevin: Yes, I’ve gotten so many chances to be with you. You were never there.
Grady: I was in the war! What was I supposed to do?
Kevin: I don’t know, write to us? Come home when you got time off, instead of hitting every bar from here to New York…
Grady: (quietly) You don’t know anything.
Kevin: What don’t I know? While mom and I were at home, you were gone.
Grady: If you would listen, you would see. I try, I really do.
Kevin: You’ve never tried to do anything!
Grady: Oh, over my pink-pimply a-
Kevin: Father, please, you never explained any of your attitudes. You kept thinking that everyone would take care of you.
Grady: Don’t you think I care? You never gave me a chance. I showed you, but you didn’t see it…ever.
Kevin: What do you mean? When you came home from the war… after the tank explosion…after everything, the only reason mom let you stay was because she felt sorry for you. I was smart, I left as soon as I could.
Grady: (quietly at first) Don’t you get it? I didn’t want sympathy, I didn’t need sympathy, I needed time. Your mother understood that. You have no idea of the things you see, the things you do…(trails off, then gets louder) You couldn’t understand then, and you won’t understand now!
(Grady stops suddenly and quickly turns to the nearest cabinet and starts looking through it)
Kevin: (quietly) That’s not true.
Grady: (looking through cabinet) Isn’t there any rum in this place?
Kevin: Dad that is not true!
Grady: I need a drink.
Kevin: Dad! I cared, I loved you…before the war, I did. But then you became this monster, some sorry jerk- to everyone! Stop trying to change now- it’s too late.
Grady: (stops looking in cabinet, but doesn’t move position) Go away.
Kevin: Excuse me?
Grady: Go away! Leave me alone, I don’t need to listen to one of your guilt speeches.
Kevin: (softly) Come on now, let’s talk about this. (after no answer) Father, it’s almost Christmas… look how we are acting.
Grady: Just go. (Kevin storms angrily out of the room and we hear a door slam offstage) (to self) Oh, Grady, what are you doing?
(Fade out. End of Scene 1)
* * * *
(As the scene fades in, Grady is sitting on the couch reading a book. Kevin walks in from left and goes directly to the door, trying to open it again. Still, nothing happens.)
Grady: (Without looking up) You’ve been checking that door every five minuets for the last hour. It’s not going to open.
Kevin: (exiting the way he came) Yeah well, and the first five minuets I don’t check, the doors going to open.
(As soon as Kevin leaves, Grady looks around then stands and tries to open the door himself)
Grady: (to door) Please open, I swear I’ll do anything.
(He closes his eyes and firmly tugs on the door. It opens. Grady stands quite shocked, and then quickly look around.)
Grady: Jiminy Cricket
(He turns his head from door to door deciding…finally, he shuts the door and sits back on the couch. After a moment, Kevin walks back in.)
Kevin: Don’t say anything.
Grady: Kevin, don’t try the door.
Kevin: (stopping) Why?
Grady: Just come and sit down, please.
Kevin: We’re not talking to each other, remember? (Kevin goes to the door andputs a hand on it)
Grady: Kevin, please sit down.
Kevin: (suspecting) It opened.
Grady: (insisting) No, just sit!
Kevin: No, I’m going to find a way out and then we can leave and hate each other for the rest of our lives.
Grady: Kevin, just listen to me. I know I’ve been difficult, just please sit, and we’ll talk.
(Kevin’s hand hesitates for a moment on the knob, then slowly removes it and sits on the couch with Grady.)
Kevin: Very well. I want to make this work, more than you.
Grady: …Good, now, I want you to know that I know that I’ve been selfish, and whatever else…I’ll admit to that, but I think we need to resolve this right now.
Kevin: Why do you say that?
Grady: Because you’re mother is always right. She had reason to send us out in the middle of nowhere.
Kevin: We’re only five miles outside the city.
Grady: Yes well…listen son, from the day I met your mom in the war, she’s always had this gut instinct…
Kevin: You met mom in the war?
Grady: Oh yeah, she was nurse at my base. I got shot in action and she treated me. She was the most beautiful thing in the world. Everyone wanted her. She was my green light at the end of the dock.
Kevin: I did not know you could be so romantic.
Grady: Back then, you bet. But I was poor, and she was rich and popular. But that only made me want her more. I knew I was going to marry her.
Kevin: What did you do?
Grady: Made her think I came from a rich family.
Kevin: Mom fell for that lame excuse?
Grady: I was quite the charming fellow. Anyway, by the time she found out who I was, she liked me well enough to stay in touch. We did, for three years. I spent that time making sure I could support her.
Kevin: And then you married her.
Grady: Eventually, yes. My rank rose in the military and we settled down, had you.
Kevin: Alright, that’s a nice story. What does it have to do with anything?
Grady: Everything. You don’t know the rest. Everything was fine until I volunteered for another duty of combat. I went out for a one year stretch in some deserted. Peter-
Kevin: My name is ‘Kevin’ dad.
Grady: No, Peter. He was my buddy in the war. We came from the same city. I’ll never forget it.
(All of a sudden the stage lights dim and change to mimic a battle field as Grady tells his story)
(Movements around stage should continue, but at this point, Kevin should be standing)
Grady: The city was called Petersville. I teased him constantly about it. It was around three p.m.-scorching hot. Peter and I were waiting up in a house, ammo all ready to go.
(Kevin should slowly sit down and body language should show interest in the story)
Grady: Then I heard the war horn. I shook Peters hand right there and told him that he was a great friend. I did that before every battle, just in case… Then the gunfire started and I felt like I was dreaming. So many bullets flying and loud explosions…People running around like madmen. You could hardly tell your allies from the enemy. We decided to move our position so I ran across the street for cover and somehow in all the smoke, I lost Peter in the confusion. It was bad, I knew from the sounds of guns and tanks we would never win and that we would all die…and I would never see my wife, or my boy again. What happened after that I don’t perfectly recall. But I remember the tank explosion, and my legs feeling …weird. It didn’t hurt, not at first. And then there was Peter. He lifted me up and took me to some kind of cover. After a while I looked up and saw him laying there…there was blood on his neck and he was staring at me with lost eyes. I looked back at him, but I couldn’t say anything. Then he closed his eyes and…(trail off)
(Lights resume to normal)
Kevin: (quietly) You got out of there.
Grady: Yeah, I did. And I guess I kind of sunk into a shadow of pure guilt, not being able to save Peter. I made sure his body made it back to Maine, to his family.
Kevin: How come I never knew this? Why did you hide it?
Grady: I wasn’t hiding. It was a hard transition to be back living at home. You…were to young to understand what I was feeling. I couldn’t burden my son with my problems. I’m sorry I wasn’t there, but it was hard for me to be around you.
Kevin: I shouldn’t have judged.
Grady: Yah you should have. I would expect nothing less from a Collins.
Kevin: You told me…I didn’t listen,-
Grady: You listened now, and that’s what counts. Now I can die knowing that I made things right with my son…your mother will be proud.
Kevin: I’ll always care about you.
Grady: I know… me too.
(They sit in silence for a moment, reflecting over what was just said)
Kevin: Dad, I think we should visit Peter.
Grady: Kevin, he’s…dead.
Kevin: I know, we can visit his grave. For decades you have been carrying around his burden, and I think…I think that it’s time to be relieved of it.
Grady: Son, you’ve grown into such an honorable man. If you think it will help, well then I trust you completely.
Kevin: I think it will. I don’t think friends want friends suffering for them for so many years.
Grady: (sighing) Maybe your right
Kevin: I know, you know, and Peter knows that it’s not your fault. I don’t think he blames you.
Grady: (laughing) Look, we’re talking here like he lives next door…like he’s still here.
Kevin: It doesn’t even matter dad. It only matters whether you’re going to take this guilt trip to your grave. (pause) This reminds me…I’ve got something to explain to you.
Kevin: I came here because…because I guess I really wanted to make things right with you. It may not seem like it, but even if you have a hard shell, you’re still my father and I can’t keep avoiding that fact.
Grady: I appreciate it son. Now… I’ve got something to tell you. You know the door that was stuck?
Kevin: (realizing) Oh, no.
Grady: It opened.
Kevin: Are you kidding? (goes and opens door) You…
Grady: (teasing) Oh, don’t be grouchy now, we like each other, remember?
Kevin: (smiling) You were holding out on me. That’s wrong.
Grady: But I love you son.
Kevin: (laughing) Go get your bags.
Grady: Hey, don’t you love me back?
Kevin: (exiting through left) You are too much…freaking door.
Grady: (shaking head and smiling) Jiminy Cricket.
(He exits the same way. Fade out. End)