What follows is the third scene of END ZONE, a play by Bob Shuman; its serialization on Stage Voices will continue to run on Tuesdays for the next two weeks (Scene 1 and Scene 2 were posted on June 23 and June 30; they can also be read in the blog’s archives under: Full-length Plays: Drama Serial).
The play 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 following scene, Lucian is alone with his youngest son.
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.
9:15 PM. In LUCIAN’s motel room: Papers are strewn all over as LUCIAN has been working on his speech. At rise, he is reciting Shakespeare; ARTHUR is making a call on the motel room phone (the audience will be hearing the electronic sounds the phone makes). The remnants of take-out food lie on the table.
LUCIAN: “Frrrriends . . . Rrrromans . . . . Countrrrymen! Lend me your earrrs!”
LUCIAN: “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is often interred with their bones . . .”
ARTHUR: (Hearing something on the phone, listening to receiver.) Oh.
LUCIAN: “So . . . let it be with Caesar.”
ARTHUR: That’s pretty good.
LUCIAN: “The noble Brutus hath told you that Caesar was ambitious;”
LUCIAN: . . . if it were so, it were a grievous fault, and grievously hath Caesar answered it.
(ARTHUR dials his number again–the push-buttons make an annoying high-tech sound.)
(ARTHUR hangs up the phone.)
LUCIAN: “Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–for Brutus is an honorable man, so are they all, all honorable men–
ARTHUR: (The phone signal is busy.) Heyy.
LUCIAN: Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.”
(ARTHUR slams down the phone but picks it up and starts dialing again.)
LUCIAN: “He was my friend, faithful and just . . . to me.”
ARTHUR: (To LUCIAN.) You know the whole thing?
LUCIAN: Course I do. What do you think I am? A football coach?
ARTHUR: Maybe you should put it in the speech. (Rethinking.) No. Let me try Thomasia again. Keep going. . . .
(ARTHUR picks up the phone and starts dialing.)
LUCIAN: “But Brutus says he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honorable man. He hath brought many captives home to Rome, whose ransoms did the general coffers fill;”
ARTHUR: Where is she, Christ?!(Suddenly, leaving a message on the answering machine.) Oh, hiii there, Thomasia. . . . This is Farty, I mean Fart. Norm’s brother, Art, you know, Arthur again
LUCIAN: (Running to his pads.) I gotta mention Thorpe.
ARTHUR: I just was . . . calling to see if you . . . got back yet. We were . . . trying to find the paper with Coach’s speech . . . and thought you might know . . . where it is. . . . So we’d really appreciate your calling. . . . If you get this message . . . thanks so much. Bye.
(HE hangs up the phone.)
LUCIAN: Assisted me all those years.
ARTHUR: Don’t go so fast.
LUCIAN: How could I be forgetting him?
ARTHUR: You gotta take your medication.
LUCIAN: (Scribbling) Jimmy Bligh and Von.
ARTHUR: No more messing around, you’ve been putting it off all night.
LUCIAN: Bobby Talbot.
ARTHUR: . . . We’ve had our dinner now.
LUCIAN: (Writing.) Bobby Talbot, Bobby Talbot. . . . How could I forget. . . ?
ARTHUR: Let me see what we have here.
(ARTHUR is going through LUCIAN's pill case.)
LUCIAN: (Seeing ARTHUR.) Hey, what are you doing in there?
ARTHUR: (About the pills, going through LUCIAN’s dop kit in his luggage.) Get it over with.
LUCIAN: Those are my things.
ARTHUR: (Opening up empty bottles.) What are all these bottles . . .?
LUCIAN: You hear me?
ARTHUR: There aren’t any pills.
LUCIAN: Get out of there.
(ARTHUR finds several vials either empty or almost empty; he shakes them.)
ARTHUR: Where are they?
(LUCIAN begins collecting the bottles.)
LUCIAN: Don’t belong to you.
ARTHUR: I didn't . . .
LUCIAN: You just don’t worry . . .
ARTHUR: Where are your pills?
LUCIAN: Just like Thomasia . . . going through my things . . . don’t know what you’re doing!
ARTHUR: What are you . . . ?
(LUCIAN grabs one of the bottles which has a few remaining pills, swallows them down, goes to get a drink of water. Silence.)
ARTHUR: (Getting LUCIAN a sweater.) Not used to the weather up here.
LUCIAN: I’ll get a sweater if I want it.
ARTHUR: Don’t want you to catch a cold.
LUCIAN: What was I going to write down?
LUCIAN: (Remembering and going to write it down.) Bobby Talbot, Bobby Talbot.
ARTHUR: Tift said that he might stop by.
ARTHUR: Piano player.
LUCIAN: Never heard of him.
ARTHUR: Pianist on the CD . . .
LUCIAN: Oh, oh. I don’t know him.
ARTHUR: It was probably . . . well. Maybe . . . four or five years ago now when we did that.
LUCIAN: Norm had it on.
ARTHUR: Clayt liked it.
LUCIAN: (Back to his speech.) Norm was playing that.
ARTHUR: Some drums, huh? Like those drums?
LUCIAN: Thought you were pretty good, is that it?
ARTHUR: (Demonstrating.) I played all the drums, all those off-tempo escalations.
LUCIAN: Norm put it on while I was taking a bath.
ARTHUR: Clayt thinks it sounds like something from Black Mountain in North Carolina.
LUCIAN: Sounded like a . . . . . . cowboy and Indian movie!
ARTHUR: My CD sounded like a. . . ?
LUCIAN: Some noise.
ARTHUR: Cowboy and Indian movie?
LUCIAN: Sounded like people screaming.
ARTHUR: Those are periodic and aperiodic shamanistic groupings of beats . . .
LUCIAN: I hear you, Arthur.
ARTHUR: . . . individual tempi that influence changes in heart rate . . .
LUCIAN: That's what you're saying is it?
ARTHUR: . . . and brainwave patterns!
LUCIAN: Don't believe a word of it.
ARTHUR: Do you know how long it took me to. . . ? (ARTHUR's recording would have had the sound of rain in it.) Do you have any idea how long it took me to get the rain right?
LUCIAN: (Eating several French fries.) I think I’ll try some of those French fries.
ARTHUR: . . . I’ve recently spent months in maternity wards and midwife centers listening to the sounds of birth . . .
(ARTHUR is drumming with his hands now.)
LUCIAN: (About French fries.) Pretty good, aren't they?
ARTHUR: . . . I go to emergency rooms to record death Rattles.
LUCIAN: (Back to the speech.) Now let's see where we were.
ARTHUR: . . . to find acoustic events that can’t be taken back!
LUCIAN: (Finding another piece of paper, to himself.) Here, here it is . . . Jack Duffy, right here in front of you.
ARTHUR: . . . It’s a new series called The Sounds of Irrevocable Actions.
LUCIAN: (To himself, about the speech.) That’s a little better. Put in Duff. (LUCIAN writes a note on his speech.)
ARTHUR: . . . sounds that disturb and assault or can’t even be heard!
LUCIAN: Here we go.
(ARTHUR pounds his fists on the table and screams. The following 4 lines overlap.)
What do you think you're doing?
We gave you the chance to make something of yourself
crashing around with those things . . .
You really don’t think you can get anywhere. . . ?
(Overlapping, ARTHUR does a huge Indian yell.)
LUCIAN: Wake up the whole building.
ARTHUR: (Laughing.) It really is good to see you. . . . I mean, you and me . . .
LUCIAN: Disturb people.
ARTHUR: Always dropping me off . . . one thing I’ve never forgotten . . .
LUCIAN: Why do you have to do that?
ARTHUR: You said we didn’t see eye to eye.
LUCIAN: I know what I’m talking about.
ARTHUR: I always remembered you saying that.
LUCIAN: Don’t understand it.
ARTHUR: I always wondered . . .
LUCIAN: Could never understand . . .
ARTHUR: . . . did you want it that way?
LUCIAN: Give me your car keys.
ARTHUR: I don’t have any car keys.
LUCIAN: I'll drive.
ARTHUR: I don't have a car.
LUCIAN: We'll go to the rally and get Norm.
ARTHUR: Who said I would let you drive . . . ?
LUCIAN: Norm was supposed to be back here by now.
ARTHUR: . . .even if I had one?
LUCIAN: Of course you have a car.
ARTHUR: Are you out of your mind?
LUCIAN: Everyone has a car . . .
ARTHUR: You can’t drive a car.
LUCIAN: (About NORM.) I don’t see him.
ARTHUR: Coach, listen to me!
LUCIAN: How'd ya get here then?
ARTHUR: I hitchhiked!
LUCIAN: How'd you get dinner?
ARTHUR: I ran!
LUCIAN: I want Norm to help me with my speech.
ARTHUR: We don't need him!
LUCIAN: You take me down there!
ARTHUR: I'll do it.
LUCIAN: Making it up.
ARTHUR: Whaddaya mean?
LUCIAN: You don't know how to do this.
ARTHUR: Why not?
LUCIAN: Let me do it.
ARTHUR: Why don’t I know how to do it?
LUCIAN: Get out of my way.
(LUCIAN takes his papers and goes to work on them.)
ARTHUR: I brought clothes, you know.
LUCIAN: You finish eating those French fries.
ARTHUR: Let me show you.
LUCIAN: (Having finished his French fries.) I've had enough.
ARTHUR: I have a coat and tie to wear tomorrow, don’t you worry about me.
(ARTHUR goes to his bags and pulls out a horrendous red-orange suit.)
LUCIAN: (Taking a few more French fries for himself.) You have some more of these French fries.
ARTHUR: (Showing his new tie.) Wait till you see this.
LUCIAN: What's that you've got there?
ARTHUR: Let me show you.
LUCIAN: You're not going to wear that, are you?
ARTHUR: (Showing a skinny, skinny tie.) Silk.
LUCIAN: You can’t wear that . . .
ARTHUR: Beautiful tie, right there.
ARTHUR: What do you mean? Look at it.
LUCIAN: Looks like hell.
ARTHUR: Latest thing.
LUCIAN: (Talking about Arthur.) Take them off.
ARTHUR: This is a good suit!
LUCIAN: Put them away.
ARTHUR: There’s nothing wrong with this.
(LUCIAN grabs tie.)
LUCIAN: All the money we spent on you.
ARTHUR: Take a look.
LUCIAN: . . . tens of thousands of dollars.
ARTHUR: There's nothing wrong with this.
ARTHUR: Bought in Chelsea.
LUCIAN: Money, long after I should have stopped giving it to you.
LUCIAN: Apartments not worth the good money paid for them . . .
ARTHUR: See this? Designer!
LUCIAN: Classes and more academics. He starts in engineering and decides to be a . . . MUSICIAN.
ARTHUR: (Taking the clothes back.) Give it back to me if you don’t like it then!
(LUCIAN uses his forefinger, pretending to shoot his temple twice with appropriate sound effects.)
ARTHUR: Better than this thrift shop suit Norm wants me to wear.
LUCIAN: (Turning on the TV.) Must be a game on.
ARTHUR: (Showing his clothes.) Better than having a broken fly . . .
(LUCIAN turns on the TV.)
LUCIAN: (Switching channels with the remote. To himself. ) Should be a game on, isn't there?
ARTHUR: (Talking about the clothes NORM gave him.) That isn’t a Mauritizio suit.
LUCIAN: (Still looking for a game) . . . Must be one on here somewhere.
ARTHUR: It’s from Robert Hall. (About the TV.) Too much racket.
LUCIAN: I thought the Dolphins were playing . . .
ARTHUR: Let’s not watch TV.
LUCIAN: Go on and watch it.
ARTHUR: There's nothing wrong with my clothes! I WANT TO TALK TO YOU!
(Not finding the game, LUCIAN turns off the TV. THEY face one another. Silence.)
ARTHUR: . . . I had an appointment with Clayt a few months ago.
LUCIAN: The only reason I keep giving you things was because of your mother . . .
ARTHUR: There’s a job for me
here in the spring. . . .
LUCIAN: She made me promise her.
ARTHUR: As part of the faculty
LUCIAN: You didn't even attend her funeral . . .
(the mother’s name🙂 Rose Mary . . .
ARTHUR: (About his store purchases.) I thought you’d like the Old Fizgerald and lemon, I brought you.
LUCIAN: Couldn’t go anywhere without her when you were little.
ARTHUR: They think I know something about music even!
LUCIAN: Don’t show up on my doorstep.
ARTHUR: I never thought Clayt would be the one to support it.
LUCIAN: I know all about it.
ARTHUR: WHY WEREN'T THERE ANY PILLS IN THOSE BOTTLES?!
LUCIAN: . . . Drifting from one place to another and after a while you won’t even be able to stop doing that!
ARTHUR: This is what I get for telling you about the job . . .
LUCIAN: You couldn’t be part of this school . . . wouldn’t know what you’re doing . . . all hours, weekends, driving them in busses to games, carting them to church, offering them words of . . . when they’ve fallen seven flights of stairs . . . when they die . . .
(A bell, the campus bell, chimes ten times. Silence. ARTHUR takes his new tie and puts it around LUCIAN'S neck, lightly pulling it back.)
ARTHUR: I know what I was to you.
LUCIAN: You don’t know anything about me.
ARTHUR: A dog, a pet, or something.
LUCIAN: What it was like for me.
ARTHUR: Something that got forgotten.
LUCIAN: Don’t know where I came from.
ARTHUR: That’s what I was.
LUCIAN: Don’t know anything!
ARTHUR: Wipe his nose. Pull up his pants. Leave him in a parking lot.
LUCIAN: Making it up!
ARTHUR: . . . I started running away, you remember that? Seven, eight years old maybe.
LUCIAN: Needed to be toughened up.
ARTHUR: It was better than waiting for someone to come home.
ARTHUR: The guy who painted in the boiler room . . .
LUCIAN: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
ARTHUR: . . . Dwight– master of oil and canvas. Always in the dark, waiting for his pictures to dry . . .
LUCIAN: Don’t even know what you’re talking about!
ARTHUR: Painting without models; used dirty magazines instead.
LUCIAN: Always getting lost.
ARTHUR: Building a yard, carting sand and bricks in the wheelbarrow.
LUCIAN: You’re too old to be talking like this.
ARTHUR: Ivy, mountain laurel, replica Greek Stauary, the Brussels “Statue of Piss!”
LUCIAN: You’re thirty-seven years old.
ARTHUR: You could never wait to get rid of me!
(ARTHUR flings the tie away. )
LUCIAN: Grown man like you.
ARTHUR: I don’t care what anybody thinks—mi ’aswell teach like you wanted, Coach. Been fired four times, I keep telling people the truth!
LUCIAN: You’re not a little boy anymore.
ARTHUR: (About the drink.) Old Fitzgerald and lemonade, you can have one drink. The truth is you liked that I kept running away.
LUCIAN: Looking up at me, into my eyes.
ARTHUR: I’m supposed to watch you two from the magnolia tree. Rhododendron being planted. Pretend I’m sweeping leaves. “Don’t come over here, stay over there, get out of the way!” No more power-house trips, no more rafting, no more hikes across the bridge. Drifting farther off on the hot grass, and . . .
LUCIAN: What did you think I would be able to give you?
ARTHUR: . . . walk right into town, just like that, past bullies and vagrants, Mr. Jackson delivering groceries, end up petting the Dalmatian in the firehouse. (About the drink.) This is too sweet! they don’t make that kind of lemonade, looked all over for it. Shoulda gotten mint.
I was so afraid you were going to die, Coach. I don’t know why. There wasn’t anything wrong with you, I just found out people . . . die. Mom in India studying the Taj Mahal. Norm says when that number comes up you’re on your own . . . you were all we had.
LUCIAN: Everyone makes their own life.
ARTHUR: Out to the overpass to break bottles. Balancing on planks at the lumber yard.
LUCIAN: You were old enough to take care of yourself.
ARTHUR: You and me were playing hide and seek except you didn’t know about it..
LUCIAN: Can’t worry about it now.
ARTHUR: Flatten coins on the tracks, pumping my arm up and down for the conductors to blow the whistle. Over to the woods where that boy and girl from the high school committed suicide . . . Rumors among the faculty, Dwight molested a kid.
LUCIAN: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
ARTHUR:(In his father’s voice.) “Don’t know what’s the matter with you, become a nuisance!”
LUCIAN: I know what you’re trying to do.
ARTHUR: You grab my hand tight.
LUCIAN: Don’t know what you’re saying.
ARTHUR: Sometimes picking me up, walking so fast, “get you home.”
LUCIAN: I never did anything to you.
ARTHUR: Past cookouts and 4-H clubs, ghosts in the graveyard. Back to the construction of maximum security pen–destined to become the place where I’d be dumped after school while teams made championships and Mother’s Anthropology clubs won prizes.
LUCIAN: Don’t you talk about her!
ARTHUR: To think that your continually growing creation of intricately designed
Brickwork with window boxes, slate landings, mini-turrets, a sundial, and birdbath–even an ice-skating area, as well as white picket fencing—should have been built to rein in one lousy pain-in-the ass kid!
LUCIAN: WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!
ARTHUR: (Pause.) It really wasn’t though, was it?
LUCIAN: WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU!
ARTHUR: It wasn’t for Mom—
LUCIAN: STOP TALKING ABOUT HER!
ARTHUR: . . and it wasn’t even for sitting outside—
LUCIAN: Stop talking about her.
ARTHUR: . . . and having bourbon and lemonade. It was something during a summer;
demonstrating the deep bonding between a father and son:
you and Norm. (Pause.)
Come on, let’s get you set up! One drink isn’t going to hurt you.
This is a celebration. To Clayt offering me a job, back here
for the spring. (Silence.)
LUCIAN: After all you were given . . .
ARTHUR: I want to visit Dwight.
LUCIAN: You never used to act like this . . .
ARTHUR: Purples, dark canvases, umbers.
LUCIAN: Not when you were little . . .
ARTHUR: My days are numbered . . .
LUCIAN: That’s enough now . . . .
ARTHUR: . . . the new yard almost complete . . . (Pause.)
LUCIAN: We’ve heard enough . . .
ARTHUR: I know the route where I won’t get caught–find a feather, blow a
dandelion’s top off.
LUCIAN: Stop now, that’s enough, I said.
ARTHUR: Past the Quonset huts, across the campus gravel walks.
LUCIAN: None of that is true!
ARTHUR: (Suddenly, loud.) “HEY! YOU GET OUT
LUCIAN: YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO TAKE
CARE OF YOURSELF.
ARTHUR: (As if seeing him:) Norm.
LUCIAN: STOP THAT NOW, LEAVE US ALONE!!
ARTHUR: Both of us stop. (Pause.)
He knows where I’m headed.
ARTHUR: Chasing me, blood pulsing through my neck.
LUCIAN: Stop looking at me.
ARTHUR: “DOWN BY THE LAKE!” Running me down, shoving me, on top.
LUCIAN: STOP LOOKING AT ME, I SAID.
ARTHUR: Pulling, won’t let me go, I’m falling, pushing me.
LUCIAN: GET AWAY FROM ME, GO IN THE OTHER ROOM!
ARTHUR: It’s you! Heard him. Hold my hand, dragging me,
find rope, I’m biting.
Against the magnolia, “Put him up there.”
Norm telling me to “eat that bark.”
No wonder somebody called the cops!
Tying, pulling it tighter!
No wonder they called!
“Won’t run away again!”
Vomit across the sidewalk.
I can’t breathe . . . like now!
I’m glad somebody called . . .
I’m glad they saw it. (Pause.)
I wanted you to die.
(ARTHUR throws the glass, shattering it.)
(LUCIAN’s cell-phone rings. LUCIAN starts into the other motel room–the
one where NORM will be sleeping that night.)
LUCIAN: Thomasia? Thank you for calling. . . . I was . . .
I was wondering if you could look . . .
seemed to have left my speech for the dedication. . . .
(ARTHUR goes to LUCIAN’s drafts of the speech.
He ends up on the floor reading them.)
LUCIAN: (On phone.) Yes, in the envelope . . .
LUCIAN: Please open it if you’d be so kind.
ARTHUR: (Picking one of the papers.) What is this?
LUCIAN: It’s not a good time for me to talk.
ARTHUR: (As he reads.) What is it?
LUCIAN: There's someone here.
ARTHUR: “Yellow hand, wax mouth.”
LUCIAN: Arthur’s with me.
ARTHUR: “dried sweat . . .”
LUCIAN: I didn’t know Norm had contacted him about coming back.
ARTHUR: (Not understanding what he’s reading.) Hey, what is this?
LUCIAN: (To THOMASIA.) I can’t talk about the other now.
ARTHUR: It’s all gibberish.
LUCIAN: (On phone.) Excuse me, I have to close the door.
ARTHUR: (Seeing LUCIAN close the door.)
Doesn’t make any sense.
LUCIAN: . . . he's outside the door.
ARTHUR: “My corpse lies on the truck like yellow . . . wax.”
LUCIAN: Norm isn’t back yet . . .
ARTHUR: IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING!
LUCIAN: They’re my medications.
(ARTHUR is crawling on the floor with LUCIAN’S papers.)
ARTHUR: . . . “his mind is infected with the fever . . . ”
LUCIAN: They’re my painkillers!
ARTHUR: “of a fallen man . . .”
LUCIAN: I was watching you!
(ARTHUR goes to the door between the bedrooms,
knocking on it, opening it a bit.)
ARTHUR: Everything all right in there, Coach?
LUCIAN: (To ARTHUR) . . . Go on, go in the other room!
ARTHUR: You sure?
LUCIAN: YES, FINE!
LUCIAN: (Back on phone.) Please read me the speech.
(ARTHUR partially closes the door.
HE listens to LUCIAN's phone call.)
LUCIAN: (On phone, like an explosion) NO,
YOU'RE THE ONE,
YOU’RE THE ONE WHO STARTED . . .
TAKING MY PILLS, STOP TRYING TO MAKE
UP LIKE YOU DON’T KNOW. . .
YOU'RE THE ONE TELLING HIM,
YOU’RE THE ONE DOING IT . . .
WANT HIM TO PUT ME AWAY, YOU’D
LIKE THAT, WOULDN’T YOU!
LUCIAN: Norm doesn't have to tell me you're taking them,
FIND YOUR OWN MONEY,
GET YOUR OWN—I CAN HEAR IT
IN YOUR VOICE,
I KNOW BY THE WAY THAT YOU’RE TALKING WHAT YOU’RE DOING.
HE CAN HEAR IT,
HE KNOWS WHAT YOU’RE DOING,
OF COURSE HE CAN HEAR IT—
IN YOUR VOICE– !
(Dial tone of the cell-phone. Thomasia has hangs up. LUCIAN turns and sees ARTHUR.)
LUCIAN: (Seeing Arthur.) . . . How long have you been standing there?
LUCIAN: I ASKED YOU
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN THERE?!
(ARTHUR does not answer.)
LUCIAN: How long you been listening?
How long you been watching?
How long you been watching me?
What did you hear?
(The high-pitched sound of a busy signal.)
(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.)