(On Tuesdays, for the next five weeks, END ZONE, a play by Bob Shuman, will be serialized on the Stage Voices blog. It was first developed at Hunter College and then given readings at The Lark Play Development Center and Second Stage Theatre. It is excerpted in two anthologies from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books. In the first scene, a father and his two sons are reunited after eight years. )
A Play by Bob Shuman
A motel. It’s about a mile down the road from a prep school in the Northeast.
A while back, in November. Before dinner.
LUCIAN “LUCE” TRAINER: A legendary prep-school football coach and former dean of the Masters School. Late 70s.
ARTHUR TRAINER: LUCIAN’s youngest son. A freelance composer and percussionist who emphasizes environmental sounds in his work. Late 30s.
NORM TRAINER: LUCIAN’s oldest son. A sporting goods salesman in his late 40s. He has a slight Southern accent.
(Norm helps Arthur fix his pants.)
ARTHUR: Jesus Christ.
NORM: Get out of the way so I can look.
ARTHUR: I can’t get it to catch.
NORM: Will you stop moving so I can see?
ARTHUR: I knew this would happen.
NORM: What the hell did you do to it?
ARTHUR: I told you I didn’t want to wear it.
NORM: This is a Mauritzio suit.
ARTHUR: Haven’t even seen the guy in—
NORM: Got the whole fly coming apart.
ARTHUR: You’re the one who wanted to arm wrestle.
NORM: Eight years! It’s been eight years since you’ve seen him.
(Arthur furiously tries to fix the fly again.)
ARTHUR: Where is this mother?!
NORM: So you gotta act right this weekend.
ARTHUR: Get this clasp . . . .
NORM: Your father spent forty years at this school.
ARTHUR: . . . so I can zip . . . up . . .
NORM: Somebody better recognize him.
ARTHUR: . . . my . . . pants . . .
NORM: MY pants.
ARTHUR: . . . get these runners . . .
NORM: Just get him over to the campus in the morning.
ARTHUR: . . . like THAT.
(Pause. The fly is fixed. Norm looks at Arthur, unbelieving.)
NORM: You’re kidding.
ARTHUR: (About the pants.) You can take them back to the thrift shop when you get home.
NORM: You actually got that to work?
ARTHUR: Got all this baggage.
NORM: You need to go through it.
ARTHUR: I could beat you if we arm wrestled.
NORM: Can’t even talk to him.
(Pause. Norm takes the CD Arthur has been wrapping.)
ARTHUR: What do you think you’re doing?
NORM: I need it for Clayt.
ARTHUR: That’s not for him.
NORM: He saw you playing the industrial piping in New Hope.
ARTHUR: I want it back.
NORM: Quite the musical aficionado, this headmaster.
ARTHUR: It’s for Coach.
NORM: I don’t want to hear about you being an artist, we’ve all seen how far you’ve come with that.
LUCIAN: (From his bed, in his sleep.) Who you talking to?
NORM: (Suddenly.) He’s up.
LUCIAN: Who’s that?
NORM: You woke him.
ARTHUR: (Calling.) You all right, Coach?
NORM: Be quiet, will ya!
ARTHUR: Should we get him?
NORM: Shut. Up!
ARTHUR: (Quietly.) Is that you, Coach?
(Silence. Norm checks on Lucian.)
NORM: He’ll sleep a little longer. . . .
(Norm drinks—a diet soda he’s put a shot of alcohol in.)
ARTHUR: I’d like to help but . . .
NORM: I really don’t think . . .
ARTHUR: I don’t have any money. . . .
NORM: . . . it’s worth talking about
ARTHUR: You keep bringing it up.
NORM: Pull up your pants!
ARTHUR: I’m out of work.
I could beat you!
NORM: Yeah, right.
ARTHUR: I don’t want to beat an old man.
NORM: I’ll kill you!
ARTHUR: That’s my CD!
NORM: Send him another one.
ARTHUR: Last one’s for Coach!
NORM: That’s mine!
(Norm and Arthur begin arm wrestling, grunting and groaning through their dialogue.)
NORM: (NORM’S wife is named Tom-asia–like the continent.) My wife–Thomasia can’t take it—
ARTHUR: You said you’d take care of him—
NORM: We need you to help us—
ARTHUR: He can’t come to New York—
NORM: Then move back to Georgia.
ARTHUR: You know what it would be like?
NORM: I can’t pay taxes.
ARTHUR: You can’t expect me—
NORM: I haven’t paid my taxes in two years.
NORM: You’re dead!
(Norm slams down Arthur’s hand on the table and wins.)
ARTHUR: That’s not fair.
NORM: Beat ya!
ARTHUR: You lied!
NORM: His bawling and moaning and his emphysema, flushing his medication down the toilet.
ARTHUR: You pay your taxes. . . .
NORM: Everything I’m telling you is true.
LUCIAN: You’re here, aren’t ya, Norm?
NORM: (To ARTHUR.) Don’t believe me.
(NORM goes to help LUCIAN; LUCIAN sits on the edge of the bed. He is sick and looks old.)
LUCIAN: Who’s talking like that?
NORM: (Going to help LUCIAN.) There we go. That’s a little better.
LUCIAN: (Groggy.) Thought I lost you . . .
NORM: You warm enough?
LUCIAN: You went away, boy.
NORM: I don’t want you to get cold. (Finding a sweater for LUCIAN.)
LUCIAN: Didn’t know where you went . . .
NORM: (With sweater.) Let’s get this around you.
LUCIAN: (About the sweater.) Nothing wrong with me.
ARTHUR: . . . Coach.
LUCIAN: This weather’s good for you.
NORM: Somebody’s come to visit you.
LUCIAN: I don’t want to see ‘em.
NORM: This guy here came all the way to see how you were doin’, Coach.
LUCIAN: Tell ‘em to go away.
NORM: It's all right. It’s nobody that matters.
LUCIAN: They don’t want to see me.
ARTHUR: Do you know who it is?
NORM: (To ARTHUR.) Don’t you get him all excited now . . .
ARTHUR: (Coming forward.) Recognize me, Coach?
NORM: I said I don’t want you getting him all upset!
NORM: It’s Arthur, Coach. Arthur.
(ARTHUR steps forward, not knowing what to say. Pause.)
ARTHUR: You hear it might . . . .snow?
ARTHUR: I heard it might snow.
NORM: Who said that?
ARTHUR: That’s what they said.
NORM: It’s not going to snow.
ARTHUR: On the radio.
NORM: Get out of here.
ARTHUR: On my way up here.
NORM: Are you crazy?
NORM: Oh, well, flurries, that doesn’t matter. It’s not going to snow. They’re not going to cancel the game because of flurries–I was just going to tell him about the limo, Coach.
NORM: And the Tiffany trophy.
ARTHUR: That’s pretty neat, Tiffany . . .
NORM: (Imitating ARTHUR.) Yeah, that’s pretty neat.
ARTHUR: Anybody want a Lifesaver?
NORM: (Refusing Lifesaver.) I’m not paying for the Limo, too.
ARTHUR: One of the alumni?
NORM: Yeah, kinda.
ARTHUR: (Having a Lifesaver.) What pigeon are you going to get to pay for a limo so we can drive around campus?
NORM: That’s something I wanted to talk to you about.
NORM: Driver gets here at 11:00 tomorrow morning.
LUCIAN: It’s as if . . . nothing has ever changed, isn’t it, Art?
NORM: Get out of here. Everything’s completely different.
(END OF SCENE)
(END ZONE is excerpted in One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century and in the upcoming Duo!: The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century—both from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)
(END ZONE, © 2008, before being revised, was entitled GLORY DAYS © 1994 and then DEDICATION. All rights, including but not limited to professional, amateur, motion pictures, recitation, lecturing, public reading, all forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, including information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Permission for the use of END ZONE or any portion thereof must be secured in writing prior to such use from the Author’s agent, Marit Literary Agency, 3801 Hudson Manor Terrace, Suite 6I, Bronx, New York 10463; Maritagency@gmail.com; 646-667-8512; ATTN, Bob Shuman.)