After a long night, a young cop kills an innocent kid, and is forced to live on.
(The Lights Come Up on Charlie, who is seated in a chair, across from Dr. Ahart. Dr. Ahart is a stern, older gentleman, with a notepad in hand. Charlie is clearly not enjoying his time here.)
CHARLIE: Yeah, Doc, and it's all because my mother didn't hug me enough?
AHART: Charlie, I understand your frustration but your attitude isn't helping matters.
CHARLIE: Can I go, now?
AHART: No, Charlie, you can't. We need to take a calm, measured approach to this. I'm being paid by your employer to work with you, and you're being paid by your employer to be here, Charlie. We don't want to be wasting the Police Department's money, and frankly, I don't want to be wasting my time.
CHARLIE: Well, you are. I didn't do anything wrong.
AHART: Perhaps you didn't. I don't know, because you won't talk to me about this.
CHARLIE: What do you want me to say to you?
AHART: Well, anything would be a start.
AHART: Very witty, Charlie, I've never heard that one before.
CHARLIE: I do my best, Doc.
AHART: Well, if we're going to sit here, we may as well talk about something. (he shuffles his papers, before finding something that interests him) It says here that you're married. Myra-formerly-Connelly?
CHARLIE: Yes, I'm married. Eight years in.
AHART: Oh my, you're certainly making me feel like I'm something of a relic. Would you mind telling me about your wife?
CHARLIE: Myra is the light of my life. For all my flaws, she loves me. She's an advertising manager downtown. She's probably the smartest person I know. She's funny, she's spontaneous, she's kind. Pretty much the opposite of everything I am, or at least the way I've been treating you.
AHART: Charming, how did you meet her?
CHARLIE: She's a friend of my brother's friend, I think. Some New Year's party a decade back, Arthur, that's my brother, had a bunch of people over and drinks were had. I remember that we had both had a little more than we had intended to, and it was bearing down on midnight. At midnight, we kissed, like everyone does, you know? Her lips tasted like strawberries. It was just a New Year's thing, but I asked her out anyway.
AHART: Cute story, Charlie.
CHARLIE: It's a story, Doc.
AHART: Charlie, there's an elephant in the room that we need to address, you know that, don't you?
CHARLIE: I'm aware of that Doc.
AHART: Charlie, you filed a report of the night we're talking about, and I have it, right here. If you want, I can read it beat, by beat. Or we can just have a dialog. That's entirely up to you.
CHARLIE: (sighing hard) It was a cold night, you know those nights in December when the cold just chews away at your edges, no matter how much you wrap yourself up. It was one of those. I was getting near the end of my shift, it was around midnight, and I got off at two. I turned down McHale Avenue and the radio chirps up. Connie on dispatch wants the nearest car to get to the Gas-n-Gulp on Freemont, there's a possible two-eleven, and the clerk had hit a silent alarm.
AHART: If you'll excuse my ignorance, what is a 'two-eleven?'
CHARLIE: It's code for an armed robbery, and frankly, that can be something of a misnomer. Friend of mine on the force got called to one and saw that the guy was armed with a shoe and a belt, which apparently still counts, since he was using them as weapons. But today, I wasn't so lucky. I'd have been happy with a shoe and a belt, but instead I got a couple of punk kids with pistols. I pull in, lights flashing. I look in, through those big glass windows, I see the clerk, hands in the air. I see a girl on the floor, she's not moving. From where I'm standing, I can't tell if she's cowering or if she's been hit, but at that point it really stopped mattering. I radio back to dispatch that there's a young woman on the floor and I don't feel that I can wait for backup, she's possibly hurt and I have to go in. I walk through the parking lot, the kid inside is too busy trying to threaten the clerk to see me. I unsnap the top of my holster, I don't want to have to use my firearm, but if it comes down to it, there are two innocent people in there.
AHART: That's entirely reasonable.
CHARLIE: As I'm walking through that parking lot, I realize how alive I am in that moment. Before the call, I was dogging it. I was really dragging, I hadn't slept well the night before. But as soon as the call came in, I was... alive. I could feel the air around me, I could feel the blood pumping through my arteries. Every hair on my head was alive, electrified. As I'm walking through that parking lot, the only thing I can think of is what I'm going to have to do to end this without hurting anyone. I burst through the door, pulling my gun. The kid who was hassling the clerk just about wets himself. I tell him to drop the gun, and he does. From the back room, this kid, comes screaming. The clerk yells that “It's the other one!” The kid has his hand in the pocket of the hooded sweatshirt he's wearing and he's headed for the door. His eyes are wild, like a scared animal. He starts pulling his hand out, and I see what I'm sure is the handle of a pistol. Without a second thought, I crack off three rapid shots. It's terrifying, as he was running, things were happening so fast, and as soon as I hit the trigger... time stopped. The first bullet... it tore through the kid's knee, I hear him begin to scream. I hear the wet pop of the bullet ripping his cartilage apart... (he pauses, nearly wretching) The second bullet, it misses him, hits the ATM behind him, with a hard metallic clang. The third bullet... Right in the throat. The kid didn't have a chance. I aimed too high, and... Right in the throat. I feel a wet spray as I run up to the falling kid, no part of my brain even bothers to register what it is. The cell phone he was reaching for clatters to the floor. I try and stop the bleeding, but the kid's a mess. In minutes, he's bled out. His friend, behind me is bawling. The girl on the floor is sobbing, but she's unhurt. The clerk is doing everything he can not to get sick. The perp is dead before the ambulance can even leave the garage.
AHART: Taking someone's life is... never easy, Charlie. Even in a situation like the one you were in. How have you been dealing with it?
CHARLIE: Fine. I didn't do a damn thing wrong.
(Myra is picking up the plates from a just finished dinner, Arthur is seated at the table, clearly having enjoyed the recent meal. He stands, placing tinfoil over a dish, before handing it to Myra.)
ARTHUR: Not a problem, it's just nice change of pace not to cook for myself for once.
MYRA: Andouille sausage practically serves itself, it was no problem.
ARTHUR: Well, be that as it may.
(Myra carries the final dishes offstage, as Arthur settles back into his chair. From offstage, a moan from Charlie can be heard. Arthur moves toward the door, but Myra steps back onstage, calling out to him.)
MYRA: I wouldn't worry too much about that. He does that when he sleeps. He has as long as I've known him.
ARTHUR: Huh, he never did that when we were kids.
MYRA: He does it less when I sleep next to him, I just think he's lonely.
(Charlie moans again.)
ARTHUR: What do you think he's dreaming about?
MYRA: I don't want to know.
ARTHUR: The shooting?
MYRA: Probably, I try not to ask.
ARTHUR: How is he dealing with that anyway?
MYRA: Not well, Art. He's apparently making progress, according to Dr. Ahart, but I guess there are some really serious issues that lead to this.
ARTHUR: Like what?
MYRA: You tell me, the doctor said that it may trace back to his childhood.
ARTHUR: Oh, Christ. I mean, that's a loaded question if there ever was one.
MYRA: Sorry, I don't mean to press you.
ARTHUR: No, no, anything I can do to help Chuck. Um. Well, Dad died when we were young.
MYRA: He was a cop, too, right?
ARTHUR: Yeah, he was a cop. He... tried to stop a robbery. Didn't see a punk kid in the back of the store with a gun, cost him his life.
ARTHUR: Charlie was real young, eight or so. It was really tough on him, he was always with Dad. I think Charlie was a little disappointed that I didn't follow in Dad's footsteps like he did. He did everything to live up to his idea of what Dad would have been. He played football and basketball and ran track, not because he wanted to, but because he knew it'd make him tougher, a better cop. He studied obsessively, because he wanted to be attractive to the academy. He got a black belt in three martial arts, just because he wanted to be what Dad was. Nothing Mom and I could give him filled the whatever hole he had in his heart.
MYRA: He... never told it to me like that.
ARTHUR: When he met you, it all sort of came into focus. He sort of became himself again, that drive became secondary, he was happy. He loves you.
MYRA: I still don't think it's enough lately.
ARTHUR: He's having a hard time. He'll get better.
MYRA: You think?
ARTHUR: Of course he is, he's too damn stubborn for anything else.
(Charlie is chattering away on the phone, he's clearly upset. He's ready to break down and just start jabbering.)
CHARLIE: Dr. Ahart, listen, I know this is short notice, but I think I'm losing it. I... I can't sleep at night. I'm starting to... watch the people around me. M-more than I should. I just need to get in and talk to you, Doc... (He pauses, breathing deep.) I think my brother is trying to kill me, Doc. Just please get back to me.
(He settles on to the couch behind him, hanging up the phone, head in his hands. From offstage, his brother, Arthur enters, wringing his hands.)
ARTHUR: Hey, hey, hey. Everything alright, there? You look like hell, Chuck.
CHARLIE: (raising his head from his hands) I feel worse, I can't remember the last time I slept through the whole night.
ARTHUR: Yeah, it sounded like you were rooting around in your den when I got home last night. Bad dreams?
CHARLIE: I wish. More like no dreams. I close my eyes and nothing happens.
ARTHUR: Heh, I suppose telling you to try and count sheep would sound trite.
CHARLIE: Past trite. Insomnia doesn't work like that, Artie. When I try to sleep, all I can think about is that punk kid in the gas station. ...Wait.
CHARLIE: Where were you last night? Out so late that I was in my den, instead of tossing and turning next to Myra?
ARTHUR: (eyes Charlie) Some of the boys from the firm felt like tying one on. You know how wild office workers can get on a Friday night.
CHARLIE: I don't, actually. (he pauses, frowning) It's Friday, already?
ARTHUR: Saturday, now.
CHARLIE: Not sleeping turns everything into one, long blur. I'm not keeping the best track of time.
ARTHUR: Is there anything I can do?
CHARLIE: A cup of coffee would be spectacular. Sugar is in the cupboard above the stove.
ARTHUR: Oh, yeah. I'd kill for a cup, myself.
(Arthur ambles off the way he came, allowing Charlie to settle back on the couch a bit, he's completely unable to get comfortable. So he stands and fiddles with the lamp on the end table, rather mindlessly. After a moment, he stops and calls out to Arthur in the next room.)
ARTHUR: (offstage) Yeah?
CHARLIE: Where is Myra anyway?
ARTHUR: She said she felt cooped up and had to get out of the house. I'm not sure where she went.
CHARLIE: (to himself) Lovely.
(The phone rings, Charlie nearly jumps out of his skin. He reaches for it, fumbling it a couple of times before putting it to his ear.)
CHARLIE: Hello? (he pauses, and is apparently greeted by silence.) Hello? (another pause, waiting for an answer, he's growing incredibly upset) Hello?! Say something for God's sake! (He violently slams the phone down, just as Arthur reappears with two cups of hot coffee in his hands.)
ARTHUR: What's wrong, what happened?
CHARLIE: Phone rang. No one was there, again.
ARTHUR: So, it was a telemarketer. It happens to everyone. Just... drink your coffee. (he extends a cup toward Charlie, who eyes it)
CHARLIE: What did you put in it?
ARTHUR: Two sugars, no cream. Just like dad used to drink it, right? “Black as the night and sweet as sin,” isn't that what he used to say?
CHARLIE: (still examining the coffees) What did you put in yours?
ARTHUR: Same thing. I'm normally a cream guy, but my stomach is a bit too queasy for dairy after last night.
CHARLIE: Give me your cup.
CHARLIE: I want the other mug.
CHARLIE: I just.. do. Give me it.
ARTHUR: Excuse me?
CHARLIE: Are you going to give me the godforsaken mug, or not?
ARTHUR: Fine, take it. (he hands Charlie the other mug, who takes it)
CHARLIE: (while sniffing the coffee cautiously) Well?
ARTHUR: Well, what?
CHARLIE: Aren't you going to drink yours?
ARTHUR: Eventually, it's still hot.
CHARLIE: Fine, I can wait.
(Arthur stares at Charlie for a moment, before moving toward the door that he originally entered from.)
CHARLIE: Where are you going now?
ARTHUR: I need to look over some papers. They're in my briefcase. Upstairs.
CHARLIE: Leave your coffee on that table. (he points) That table, right there. Go get the papers, and come right back. ...I don't want to be left alone, right now.
(Arthur sighs, nodding slightly. He sets his coffee on the table, before he turns a quick about face, and leaves through the door. The moment he's gone, Charlie stands, looking around the room. He rushes toward a potted plant, taking no care to hide his heavy steps. He empties his mug into the plant, before returning to the couch, and settling in the spot he was previously seated. Seconds later, Arthur returns, briefcase in hand.)
CHARLIE: Great coffee, really.
ARTHUR: You drank it all? Just while I ran upstairs?
CHARLIE: I guess I was craving it more than I thought.
ARTHUR: It was still pretty hot, Chuck. (he pauses, looking over Charlie) How are you feeling?
CHARLIE: I feel just fine.
(Arthur settles into his chair, clearly concerned at Charlie's behavior. He sits down, briefcase on his lap. Before he opens it, he reaches over and picks up his mug, sipping his coffee.)
CHARLIE: As a matter of fact. I couldn't be better.
ARTHUR: Somehow, I doubt that.
(Myra is seated at the table, head down, shuffling through a pile of mail. She is clearly deep in work, filling out a ledger or checkbook. She's mumbling to herself as she marks down expenses, possibly typing away on a calculator or a writing on cratch paper.)
MYRA: And paycheck, I hardly knew ya'. (she chuckles to herself) Even on the edge of abject poverty, I still have it.
(She sighs deeply, busying her self in the bills. From the other room, Charlie slinks in. He smiles, before walking up to her from behind, and kissing the top of her head. She looks up and grins.)
MYRA: Well, hello there, sir. I'm glad to see my loving husband in place of the ogre that's been haunting this house for the last few days.
CHARLIE: Laugh it up, darling. I'm glad to see you haven't lost your acerbic sense of humor.
MYRA: Well, a woman does what she must.
(Charlie takes a seat across the table from her, a hint of a smile on his face.)
CHARLIE: Speaking of what one must do, how are the bills, m'dear?
MYRA: Well, I won't pretend that we're not missing your paycheck, but I think we'll live to toss away our money another day. Unless of course, we're hit with some unexpected expense, then we're just fucked, for lack of a better term.
MYRA: You fell in love with me for my mouth.
CHARLIE: Tell me about it.
CHARLIE: Someone has to be around here. (he stands and reaches into the cupboard, procuring a glass, with a slight flourish. He then opens the freezer and begins noisily cracking ice cubes from the tray.)
MYRA: Thirsty, dear?
CHARLIE: (he finishes, dropping a couple of cubes in) Craving, I guess. (he begins rooting around in the refrigerator)
MYRA: Are we pregnant?
CHARLIE: (still in the fridge)You tell me. I hope not, we can't afford any “unexpected expenses”, can we? (he finally pops out) Did you drink the carrot juice that was in here?
MYRA: Excuse me?
CHARLIE: The carrot juice I bought this morning. Did you drink it?
MYRA: You left the house this morning?
CHARLIE: Yeah, right around sunup.
MYRA: (making a face) Are you sure that was today, love?
CHARLIE: Yes, I'm sure.
MYRA: (stepping toward the window, pushing the curtain aside) Your car is covered in snow, hun. It hasn't snowed since yesterday afternoon. Did you walk?
CHARLIE: No. (he's confused) I drove. I'm sure I drove.
MYRA: Hun, we haven't had any carrot juice in a week at least.
CHARLIE: Are you sure? (he's visibly shaken, he sets the glass down)
MYRA: I'm sure. You were sleeping, Charlie.
CHARLIE: I must have been dreaming, huh?
MYRA: At least you were sleeping.
CHARLIE: I don't think it much matters at this point. I'm still so tired that my body hurts. Top to bottom, hell, hun, I can't tell you what day of the week it is. I just wanted a glass of carrot juice.
MYRA: I can go to the store, and get you carrot juice, Charlie.
CHARLIE: You know what the funny thing is? I don't even like carrot juice. I just wanted it because I thought I bought it.
MYRA: Oh, babe. (she laughs)
CHARLIE: You think that's funny?
MYRA: A little, don't you?
CHARLIE: No. No I don't. I think it's about the most depressing thing that I could go through. I don't know what's real, Myra.
MYRA: It's just carrot juice, Charlie. It's nothing to worry about. The doctor is making you feel better, right?
CHARLIE: Is he? I'm still not sleeping.
MYRA: Well, you're eating again, when you walked in the room, you were actually smiling.
CHARLIE: You make me smile.
MYRA: You're insufferable, you know that?
(She moves to kiss him, he embraces her, smirking. From the other room, Arthur enters.)
ARTHUR: Oh, pardon me. There seems to be some marital bliss occurring in here.
(He turns on his heel, disappearing from whence he came. Charlie frowns, breaking the embrace. He follows his brother, looking out the door that his brother came from, making sure that he had disappeared.)
CHARLIE: Has Artie been acting odd around you?
MYRA: What do you mean?
CHARLIE: (frenzied) He's coming and going at all hours of the night. And did you ever notice how he never has a girlfriend? Or even a boyfriend? I wouldn't mind if my brother was gay, hell, I wish he was gay, it'd scare me less.
MYRA: Scare you less?
CHARLIE: Doesn't my brother strike you as the kind of guy that the neighbors say was “So quiet,” while the police haul the bodies of thirteen butchered hookers out of his basement? I mean, he has all the classic signs, Myra.
MYRA: The classic signs?
CHARLIE: Of being a serial killer! He's a white male, smart, but can't apply himself to much of anything, most of all, a woman. He keeps to himself, and never makes trouble, he lives alone. And worst of all, I think he knows I'm on to him, Myra.
MYRA: Charlie, this is your brother!
CHARLIE: Don't you think I know that! But, over the last three years, how many young women have gone missing in the city and the 'burbs? Do you know? Six prostitutes have gone missing since Arthur moved into town! And worse? There's a similar pattern back in--
MYRA: Charlie. Stop, you're scaring me!
CHARLIE: I'm scared, too! You don't think he's above killing me to stop from being found out?
MYRA: He's your flesh and blood, for the love of God. Get a hold of yourself, you're letting your paranoia drive your thought process.
(Charlie turns toward her, seething.)
CHARLIE: I am not paranoid. I am a damn good cop. And I am not stupid. You don't think I've noticed you coming and going at all sorts of odd times? Appointments come up with no notice! The phone rings, I answer, and I hear breathing, but no one speaks! (He steps toward her, menacingly.)
MYRA: What are you hinting at, Charles?
CHARLIE: (He steps toward her again, clearly encroaching on her personal space.) You know exactly what I'm saying. I know I'm not healthy, and I know that I haven't been exactly intimate with you, but it takes less than a month for you to start screwing someone behind my back?
MYRA: Charlie, you... you bastard! (she's bawling, clearly just crushed at this insinuation)
CHARLIE: Don't you blame me for this! (he grabs her wrist, she recoils in pain.)
MYRA: Stop! You're hurting me!
(She pulls away, he refuses to yield, and she slaps him hard across the face.)
MYRA: Jesus, Charlie, I'm-I'm sorry, but you... you hurt me.
(She scurries out of the room, holding her wrist. Charlie watches her, a hand slowly going to his cheek.)
CHARLIE: (coldly) Only because you hurt me first, Myra.
(Myra enters Dr. Ahart's office first. She smiles at the seated doctor and is followed by a scowling Charlie.)
AHART: You must be Mrs. Rodor, Charlie has told me some wonderful things.
MYRA: Thank you, but please, call me Myra.
AHART: Of course. And Charlie, how are you doing this afternoon?
CHARLIE: Not well, doc. That's why I'm here, remember?
AHART: Yes, well. Myra, I've brought you into this session for a very specific reason. And it is with Charlie's consent, of course.
CHARLIE: Consent is a funny word for it. You twisted my arm, Doc.
AHART: I certainly encouraged this, I'll admit.
MYRA: Well, Doctor Ahart, what would you like to discuss with me?
AHART: To be frank, Myra, Charlie is sure that several very unlikely things are occurring, and I'd like your help in illustrating their flaws to him.
MYRA: Well, of course, Doctor, anything I can do to speed his recovery along.
AHART: Lovely. Well, first of all, Charlie believes that his brother is the man who has been kidnapping the local prostitutes that have gone missing.
CHARLIE: Kidnapping, my eye! He's killing them and I'll prove it!
AHART: Second of all, Charlie is convinced that I'm somehow manipulating him, as part of a sick gambit to make him more ill.
(Charlie merely gives Ahart a glare.)
AHART: Finally, Charlie is entirely convinced that you are, in some way being unfaithful, possibly with a co-worker.
MYRA: Yes, doctor, I was aware of all of this.
AHART: Oh! You were? Well... that certainly makes this much simpler than I had thought.
(For no apparent reason, Charlie snaps, standing rapidly, and shouting.)
CHARLIE: You know, I am in the room, people! Don't talk about me like I'm not here, or I won't be!
AHART: Actually, Charlie, perhaps that would be the most beneficial at the moment, have a seat in the waiting room, and I'll send Myra back out in a few minutes, yeah?
(Without a word, Charlie rushes out.)
AHART: I can't imagine that we'll have a lot of time before he bursts back in, so I'll be brief. Charlie is only going to get worse until he can admit to himself that he made a mistake.
AHART: Charlie has spent his entire life trying to be something remarkable, in a pursuit of justice for his father's death, Myra. Now, in a situation that is remarkably similar to the one that claimed his father, he's failed his oath to “Protect and Serve.” To Charlie, this is impossible. He cannot have possibly failed. The perpetrator had to have done something to deserve this, so rather than blame himself for the mistake, he's created reasoning for his actions. And this, of course, extends to the other people in his life. This is putting strain on your marriage, it has to be. Rather than that being the fault of Charlie's moods, it's your fault for cheating on him. His brother isn't trying to help him, he's a devious serial killer, and so on.
MYRA: So what can we do?
AHART: We wait, and we slowly guide him to the realization.
MYRA: Why can't we just tell him?
AHART: Because it will be catastrophic enough if he comes to it slowly.
(Arthur is seated, feet up, reading the paper. He's very clearly at ease with the world, and is the model of personal tranquility. We enjoy this moment of silence with him for a brief second before it is shattered; Charlie bursts in the front door, clad in a coat, and yelling back at Myra.)
CHARLIE: You're the one who made me feel this way!
MYRA: (offstage) What did I do, Charlie?
CHARLIE: You can't keep your legs closed!
(Myra finally bursts in the door, face reddened with rage.)
MYRA: You take that back!
CHARLIE: I would, if I didn't mean it!
(At this point, Arthur sees a need to intervene, he sets his paper down gingerly, and stands, addressing his brother.)
ARTHUR: Hey, hey, hey, Chuck, let's not say something we won't be proud of.
CHARLIE: Of course I'm not proud of my whore of a wife, but I won't just stand here and pretend it's not happening.
MYRA: (clearly less enraged, now more crushed at Charlie's accusations) Why would I cheat on you? I've loved you more completely than I've ever loved anything else.
CHARLIE: I don't know why you did it, but you did, didn't you?
MYRA: No, of course not!
ARTHUR: Charlie, talk to me, talk this out, okay? Let's just look at this logically.
CHARLIE: (stiffening) Okay. Logic.
ARTHUR: Why do you think Myra is being unfaithful?
CHARLIE: She comes and goes, all different hours.
ARTHUR: (cutting her off) I know you want to talk Myra, just let him finish.
CHARLIE: I haven't been intimate with her since this whole thing... happened. I just can't bring myself to feel something so good, and so pure. And I know she has needs.
MYRA: Charlie, honey, I'm working extra hours because we, you and me, need the money right now. And admittedly, I'm spending some time away from the house, but that's because... (she trails off)
CHARLIE: Because what?
MYRA: Because, it's hard to be around you right now.
(Charlie is just floored at this.)
MYRA: It's not that I don't love you, because you know I do. I just miss seeing you smile, I miss seeing you act like something matters beside whatever ghost is haunting you right now.
CHARLIE: I can't help the way I feel, and I need your support. It's not easy to act like this. I don't want to question every move I make, and then question every move the two of you make.
ARTHUR: Wait, you don't trust me?
CHARLIE: You've been acting funny.
ARTHUR: What do you mean 'acting funny?'
CHARLIE: I don't mean that you've been acting like a clown, that's for damn sure.
ARTHUR: (bristling) If you have something to say to me, you ought to say it, little brother.
CHARLIE: Are you threatening me?
ARTHUR: What if I am?
CHARLIE: You're asking for a beating. You're a middle manager who's more than soft around the middle.
ARTHUR: And I suppose you're just the opposite?
CHARLIE: Of course I am. I'm the best thing the Police Academy could hope to put together, with ten years field experience, and more than enough reasons to drag you downtown for questioning.
MYRA: Questioning? Are you out of your mind?
CHARLIE: Don't you think the disappearances coinciding with his location is more than a little suspect?
MYRA: Stop it.
ARTHUR: Disappearances? What are you getting at?
CHARLIE: I know you killed those girls, Art. And I'm a watching every move you make. I may not have evidence now, but I promise you, you will slip up, and I'll be there to prove it, whether I have my badge or not.
MYRA: Just stop it, both of y--
ARTHUR: (cutting Myra off) Oh, oh, I get it now. You spent your whole life trying to be what Dad was, maybe even better. And now that you've failed, you're inventing white whales to blame everyone else for the things that are wrong in your life. There's no way that your wife doesn't want to be around you, there has to be another man, right? And of course, I'm a murderer, there's no way that you're just a paranoid ball of psychoses! Or, God forbid, not a good enough detective to admit that you can't find a lead on where these girls are. It's Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation is –
CHARLIE: Don't give me that philosophical trash. You're trying to confuse me. I know what you're doing and I will prove it.
ARTHUR: Making me a murderer isn't going to bring Dad back, Chuck.
CHARLIE: What did you say?
MYRA: Charlie, don't.
CHARLIE: Shut up, Myra. (he turns back to Arthur)What did you just say about my father?
ARTHUR: I said that *our* father would be ashamed to see his youngest son acting like an obsessed loon because he screwed up and shot a kid at a convenience store robbery.
(Charlie stares a hole through his brother's chest, before turning and heading for the door. Myra tries to stop him.)
MYRA: Charlie, where are you going?
CHARLIE: I don't know. Not here. I'll be back later. (he slams the door behind him)
MYRA: Was that necessary?
ARTHUR: I don't know... I just don't know what to say to him anymore. Maybe thinking about Dad will put him back on the straight and narrow.
ARTHUR: Because we both know that Dad wouldn't want this.
(The scenery has shifted. This is the first time we see Charlie outdoors in the whole play. It's night, and he's seated on a park bench, under a glowing street light. Charlie frowns and sighs to himself, pulling his coat tighter around him.)
CHARLIE: Cold tonight, real cold. Heh, the last night I was out on a night like this, I was working. Sitting in a squad car, sipping hot coffee, just waiting for some poor shmuck to speed past my car. Spent the last three hours sitting behind a billboard, hoping for call. Of course, I'm in no condition to handle anything like that now. I don't think I could even look at the reflection of my face in my badge anymore. I spent my entire life trying to protect innocent people, and I can't even do that. I did everything in my power to become something Dad could be proud of, something the city could be proud of, something I could be proud of, and I...
(He stops, unable to continue. His face falls and he stands.)
CHARLIE: I did what, exactly? I shot a criminal. To protect and serve, I honored that. I did my job, the kid was a... criminal. He was an accessory in a robbery, just like the robbery that got Dad. And if I hadn't taken action he would have killed me. I was protecting myself. I was protecting that clerk and the girl who they had on the floor.
(He pauses, pacing.)
CHARLIE: I did what Dad should have done, I shot first and took care of the people around me. That kid forfeit his rights when he decided to infringe on the rights of the store owner. When those kids decided that drug money was more important than the lives of the other people in the world, they lost whatever rights they had. Sure, maybe I overreacted, but it was a split second decision, I did what I had to. I can't doubt myself. With everything collapsing around me, I can't doubt myself. If I was wrong about that... God.
CHARLIE: If I was wrong about that, what have I been right about? If I made this mistake, who's to say that every decision I've made since then hasn't been just as flawed? I've mistreated my brother... my wife, all because... I killed an innocent boy.
(A long pause, punctuated by sobs.)
CHARLIE: That's it. That's the root of it. I had one purpose through my entire life,and I've failed that. I've made the biggest mistake that I ever could have. And because of that, here I am. Freezing on a park bench, while my wife is at home hating me. I oughta just... quit.
(From offstage, a woman's scream is heard, and without a second thought, Charlie charges off, toward the sound.)
(With a sob, Myra sits in the only lighted corner of the stage. She dials her cell phone, holds it to her ear, listens and then breaks down.)
MYRA: Answer, goddamit! Charlie, where the hell are you?
(She speedials Charlie again, listens, and is greeted again by his voicemail.)
MYRA: Please! I know you're pissed, I know I'm pissed, just pick up!
(Starting on the edge of the shadow, Arthur slowly steps into the light. Myra refuses to look at him.)
MYRA: What do you want, Arthur?
ARTHUR: I heard you yelling, I thought it was a good idea to check on you.
MYRA: Well, I'm just fine. Go back to bed.
ARTHUR: I'm worried, too, Myra.
MYRA: Are you? It's your big fucking mouth that sent him out into the cold. And now, it's the middle of the goddamned night, and I don't know where my husband is. So, unless you're going to get your happy ass outside and look for him, I need you to get away from me.
ARTHUR: Myra, I--
MYRA: Leave, Arthur. Now.
(Without further objection, Arthur fades back into the shadows, and the lights come up on the other side of the stage, revealing Arthur, a young man, subdued on the ground and a woman. Myra remains, lost in thought.)
WOMAN: (earnestly, between sobs) I can't thank you enough, sir. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't shown up.
CHARLIE: It was nothing, ma'am. Just let me make a call downtown, and someone will be here in a few minutes to make a report and pick up our young friend here.
YOUNG MAN: You're not better than those pig cops, man.
CHARLIE: I'll take that as a compliment.
YOUNG MAN: Yeah, you would.
(Charlie pulls a cell phone out from his pocket, and both the young man and woman cry out.)
WOMAN: You're not really going do bother with that, are you?
YOUNG MAN: Yeah, wait. What?
WOMAN: This vicious little bastard tried to violate me, he came at me with a knife, you saw it!
CHARLIE: I did. That's why I'm calling the boys downtown.
WOMAN: This piece of scum doesn't deserve that! He doesn't deserve the chance to do this to anyone, every again. He forfeited his right to health when he infringed on mine, dammit!
YOUNG MAN: Hey, calm down, lady.
WOMAN: I am calm. I'm totally calm, and rational. And I can't come up with one logical reason why I shouldn't pick up that knife you came at me with, and I shouldn't make sure you never hurt another woman, ever again. Can you, mister? (she turns to Charlie, and for a moment, he stands dumbfounded)
CHARLIE: I, uh, I...
(Across the stage, Myra picks her head up and speaks.)
MYRA: God, I hope you're not hurt.
(Charlie places himself between the thug and the woman.)
MYRA: Or hurting someone. Please, baby, just be smart.
CHARLIE: Ma'am, you need to stop.
CHARLIE: Ma'am, this isn't going to happen. I'm going to have to ask you to sit down, and just... think about what you're about to do.
WOMAN: He's trash, he'd have done unmentionable things to me, and then he'd have killed me. What makes him worth saving?
CHARLIE: He's not. You are. Killing someone does something to you, miss. I can tell you that first hand. It's not up to us judge what this man deserves. I've spent my entire life trying to find justice and order in this world, and until tonight, I didn't understand what I was really searching for. Killing this man isn't gonna fix anything, it's not going to make you feel safe at night, it's not going to bring back what he and every person like him has taken from you. I killed some woman's son, some girl's brother, because somewhere within me, I was angry.
WOMAN: You're angry? I'm-
CHARLIE: Angry, but you'll live. And maybe, somewhere in the world, someone set this dumb kid on a path that wasn't fair to him. And it's not my place to judge that, but I can't let this cycle continue. I made my mistake, and I'm not going to allow this to continue. Even if it's just you, even if it's just tonight. This has to happen. You're not doing this. I'm going to call the police, and they're going to arrest this gentleman and you're not going to do something you regret. He's not worth throwing your life away for. Violence and rage make more violence and rage. Break the chain.
WOMAN: Fine, fine you're right, I can't do this.
CHARLIE: I have some things I need to work out. I would not wish this on anyone, at all. Life is precious, and it's all we can do to keep it sacred.
(The lights go out on Charlie, The Woman and the Young Man. Myra sits alone, from the shadows, Charlie steps into the circle of light. She looks at him wordlessly. He reaches out and brushes a hand against her cheek. She grabs his hand, slowly leading him out of the light, which goes to black.)