A short play about a high school reunion. I don't like it, but maybe you will.
|Betty: Oh my God! Derek Acorah, is that you?|
Derek: Let me guess, Betty Fraiser? Wow, it has been so long! I was hoping you would come to the reunion.
Betty: Well, I remember, back in the day, you said that you would never come. But, you were never able to stick to plans. Look at you, though! What have you been doing?
Derek: Oh, I haven’t been doing much. I joined the Peace Corps for three years. After a few months in southern Africa I got cholera and I had to be sent back home.
Betty: [With some jealousy.] The Peace Corps? Really? How exciting.
Derek: Yeah. It was rewarding too. I feel like I did something worthwhile with my life.
Betty: That is something to be proud of.
Derek: What about you? You went off to college, how was that for you? You were always the smart one.
Betty: Well...[Another man comes limping up to them.] It wasn’t –
Derek: Betty, look at who this is! It’s Harold Kingsley!
Harold: Hello. Betty and Derek, good to see you both. Large turnout, isn’t it? [Betty and Derek nod, followed by a short pause.] There are so many people that I used to dislike here. I was full of so much angst...
Derek: Harold, you didn’t dislike people, you used to hate people. I remember you were such a bully. You were always stealing money from Bill Tinsdale, and you beat that one kid senseless in our junior year. What was his name? G, it started with a G –
Harold: [Sadly.] George Franklin. He was our salutatorian at graduation, a real smart kid.
Betty: Harold, I bet George doesn’t even remember what happened. I was just talking with him a little while ago; he’s become an engineer or something. You shouldn’t worry. We’re all such different people now. You have nothing to feel sorry for.
Harold: Yes, we are different.
Betty: Derek told me that he was in the Peace Corps!
Harold: Really? You never did anything constructive in high school, but after you graduated you did something like that?
Derek: I was only in for three years before I got sick and had to come home. Then...well, things got a bit tough then.
Harold: Good for you, Derek. It’s so rewarding to do things for others. I bet you got a lot of satisfaction.
Derek: Enough about me. What have you been doing, Harold?
Harold: Well, as you might remember, I joined the army after graduation. At that time there wasn’t much else for me to do, I was getting in trouble every other day. So, the first few years were simple training and what not. After that, I was shipped out. I spent a few years back and forth between Afghanistan, Iraq, and home. I got shot just above the knee, here [He points to the spot.] and I came home for good.
Derek: You talk about me doing something rewarding, I bet you feel pretty good about what you did for you’re country.
Betty: [Resentfully.] Yeah, Harold, you should be proud.
Harold: Well, I suppose that’s how anyone would think until they’re out there. Killing people is not my idea of doing a service. Anyway, at first I was really screwed up. I had post-traumatic stress and I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was in a rut. A few of my buddies told me about this group that they heard about at a church, and I decided to join. Things turned a complete 180. God did a lot of good for me, and I was able to move on into a normal life.
Betty: You’re a lucky guy. Some people are messed up for life over things like that.
Harold: Yes, and I realized that. I decided to create other support groups for veterans, so that they could cope with the things that happened back there. Let me tell you, the response has been amazing.
Derek: [Laughing.] Are you serious? I mean, I don’t want to be rude, but you used to be an atheist. Then, you tried to go into devil worship and Wicca just to creep people out.
Harold: I’m serious, Derek. I had a real awakening. God came into my life and changed things around completely.
Derek: Alright, Harold. Say what you want. Anyway, I was asking Betty about college before. Let’s have a seat and hear about it. [They sit.]
Harold: How did it turn out, Betty?
Betty: Well, um...It wasn’t what I had expected. It was a lot of work, and it was a lot of money, over –
Derek: What were you going into?
Betty: I went into business management. I should have thought things out better. When I graduated I tried to create my own printing and graphics company, but it failed miserably. It sent me into a load of debt. I don’t know how I’m going to pay it off.
Harold: That’s too bad.
Betty: To be honest, I think that college is a load. You can’t learn anything about anything unless it’s hands on. I went for four years of my life, and I have nothing to show for it. I’m working as an at-home sales representative for this unknown corporation now. It’s terrible. I’m calling people up all the time, getting hung up on, and yelled at. I might as well be a telemarketer, people can’t tell the difference between us. I just ask dumb questions all the time.
Derek: Wow, Betty, I’m sorry to hear that.
Harold: You know, I could help to get you involved in my –
Betty: Thanks, Harold, but your church thing really isn’t for me.
Harold: Now, I know that we haven’t talked in a while, but you shouldn’t feel bad –
Betty: Oh, no, it’s not that. [Uncomfortably.] I just, well, I have my own religion, you know. That Born Again stuff really isn’t for me.
Harold: Well, when you change your mind, God is ready.
Harold: You said that you were going through tough times. The offer stands for you, too.
Derek: Oh, no thanks. I sort of started up my own thing. [He shifts in his seat.]
Betty: What’s that?
Derek: Paranormal stuff. I’m a psychic, or at least I tell people that I am. Then I do investigations and get possessed; sometimes I throw things or yell. It’s a nice act.
Betty: You can do that as a job?
Derek: You’d be surprised at how much people are willing to pay to have their fortunes read, or their homes investigated for spirits. It’s not hard either - people are really easily fooled.
Harold: You went from the Peace Corps to fraud! Derek, that’s not right!
Derek: Well, people are being entertained. And they’re always telling me how satisfied they are, and they refer me to other clients. It’s great. I’m not gypping people; I’m giving them exactly what they want. It’s a lot like you with your Born Again –
Harold: [Offended.] I’m not fooling anyone with that! That’s solid faith, the real thing. I’m spiritually guiding people onto the straight arrow, showing them how to repent for their sins! Do you really believe that that is an act?
Betty: We haven’t seen each other in years, there’s no need to argue now. We were all such good friends –
Harold: People change. He never used to be so cynical.
Betty: He was always sarcastic.
Derek: I’m just talking here. I don’t mean anything by it...[Pause.]
Harold: Let’s just put all that behind us, alright? Just a minor disagreement is all.
Betty: [Pause.] College to telemarketing failure, Peace Corps to fraud, and military to church charity - It looks like nothing worked out well for any of us, or at least not as we expected.
Harold: Yes, not as we expected.
Derek: George Franklin turned into an engineer, that’s no surprise. But Holly Mackday...Did you hear about her?
Betty: No, I don’t even remember her.
Harold: Me neither. What happened?
Derek: Oh, you remember her! She was the first in our class; we all thought that she was a goody-goody. She went on to Penn State and then to Yale for law school. Somehow or another she was elected as a judge in New York City, right? A few months after she was sworn in, or whatever, the police find out that she was behind a major murder cover up. Apparently her husband killed his wife so that he could marry her, and she counseled him to try and make sure he wasn’t caught. She was in on the whole thing. So, she went to court, and of course she’s guilty. Both her and her husband slit their wrists in jail.
Betty: I remember her, but there’s no way that’s true.
Derek: Why not?
Betty: That’s not at all like Holly. She was always doing the right thing. She’d never end up in a spot like that.
Derek: Do you think that George would still cry if he got a 95 on a chemistry test? Well, maybe he would – who knows. But, it has been a few years, you know. Anything can happen...
Betty: I guess you’re right, but to slit her wrists? –
Harold: I don’t want to talk about something so morbid.
Derek: You’re right...So, has anyone tied the knot, yet?
Harold: No. But, there is this very nice woman who volunteers at the church, we’ve been going out for a while. She’s really nice, and she’s always at the church, which is great - I see her all the time.
Betty: Why didn’t you bring her?
Harold: [Leaning back in his seat.] She had plans to visit her sister; she’s staying for two weeks. She wanted me to go with her, and I wanted her to come here. We just decided it was best to do our own things. Our relationship is like that, you know. Trusting, honest -
Betty: That’s too bad, I would have liked to meet her.
Harold: Some other time, maybe.
Derek: Yeah, right.
Derek: Oh, I was just thinking about my wife...I have a wife. Well, we’re actually in the process of being divorced. It was really short lived. To be honest it all started in Vegas.
Harold: [Astonished.] You’re not serious?
Derek: Yeah. I went out to Vegas to live with a friend of mine for three months, and I came home married to Sofia. I’m not really sure how it happened. We were in the same apartment building, and we kept seeing each other at the slots. I said a few words to her, she said a few to me, and we fell in love – or at least we thought we did. I took her back here, started up the psychic thing, and it all fell apart from there. I have a son, too. It looks like Sofia’s going to get custody; [Angrily.] the courts don’t seem to think that my position is stable. I’m telling you, I have reliable customers. They don’t know anything.
Harold: [Holding himself back.] Well, that’s too bad, Derek. But, they do try to do what’s best for the child.
Betty: How old is he?
Betty: You’re son.
Derek: Oh, he’s only two. His name is Terry. He’s a great kid – I mean, he’s a lot of work, but he’s great. At least I got one good thing out of Sofia.
Betty: [Sulkily.] I bet you’re a great dad. You have all that energy, you know? I wish that I had kids...
Derek: Oh, yeah. It’s awesome.
Harold: [Quickly changing the subject.] Do you have anyone, Betty?
Betty: [Bitterly.] No, no. Not right now, anyway. [Pause.] Do you two still like music? You were working on that band for a while, do you remember? I sucked at music.
Derek: What are you talking about? Our music was great!
Harold: No, it really wasn’t. I got rid of my drum set years ago. I found it in my old garage, and I gave it to charity.
Derek: It’s probably just rock that you don’t like. I bet if we started up a gospel choir you’d be saying it was the best music you’d ever heard. Anyway, I’m done with the guitar and piano - I kept up on them. I’ve gotten a lot better since high school.
Betty: [Rolling her eyes.] I need another drink. I’m going to get another drink. [She walks off. There is a short pause as she disappears.]
Derek: What’s her problem?
Harold: Oh, I’m sure she’s fine.
Derek: [Shakes his head for a moment.] Anyway, did you give up completely?
Harold: Give up?
Derek: Music, did you keep up or stop?
Harold: Sometimes I’ll play guitar in church and strum a little tune for the people. Song is a wonderful boost, and a great way to praise –
Derek: I get it. [They both pause.] I think she’s jealous. Her life didn’t turn out to be anything special, and she went to college. You and I are set, and she’s probably working all the time to pay off her debts, and she’s all alone.
Harold: [In a condescending tone.] Derek, you know gossip is a tool of Satan.
Derek: When are you going to say that the joke is over, huh?
Derek: I mean, what is it that you’re trying to prove?
Harold: What are you talking about? Can’t you just accept that I’ve found religion, now?
Derek: The only reason why I came today was to see you and Betty, to talk about the old days. [Betty re-enters.] Now, you’re a constantly preaching Jesus freak, and she’s a bitter-
Harold: [Angry.] Quiet, she’s back.
Betty: A bitter what?
Harold: [Sneeringly.] See, she heard you...that’s what you deserve. Maybe you’ll learn.
Betty: [Laughing with surprised anger.] Is that what you think, that I’m bitter? That I resent the lives that you have? Look at you! You’re a fraud who married the first woman he saw, and he’s, well -
Harold: Why are you talking bad about me? I’m not saying anything. And why is what I’m doing so detestable? He brought a poor child into the world that now has to live a life divided between two parents; do you know how hard that is?
Derek: Don’t act surprised! I’ve always been mixed up. When did I ever do anything by the books? Meanwhile, you two -
Betty: [With sarcasm.] Well, I’m so happy that I came here tonight. I got to see my old friends just so that they’d have a good time at mocking me behind my back. Thank you.
Derek: There – there you are with your self-pity, Betty. And, by the way, I’m sure Harold is going to say that God doesn’t appreciate sarcasm.
Harold: And so what if I would?
Betty: I don’t have self-pity. I’m just telling the truth.
Derek: It’s weird, Harold.
Harold: What’s weird, that I have faith? That I –
Betty: Are you going to pay attention to me?
Derek: Yes, that’s what’s weird; you’re not the religious type.
Betty: [Shaking her head.] This is exactly what I mean. I’m always left behind, and left out...
Harold: I wasn’t the religious type in high school, you mean.
Derek: You’re not the religious type at all. Some day, you’re going to wake up –
Betty: They just keep going on, and what am I supposed to do?
Derek: and you’re going to realize that all of it was fake! You just needed something to help you to sleep at night.
Harold: That’s not true! I believe! The only one that needs to wake up is you, Derek. You’re not in high school anymore, we’re not in high school anymore. We’re different people, now.
Betty: Fine! If you’re not even going to listen, I’m leaving. And I’m not coming back to the next reunion, either!
Harold: Threats, now?
Derek: Good! This was a mistake, anyway.
Betty: You’re right it was! Me, jealous of you – ha!
Harold: We agree on something. God help you both.
Derek: Oh, shut up. [They all exit.]