Monologues are posted as a recurring feature on Stage Voices.
End Zone by Bob Shuman
While HE mixes drinks and unwraps takeout food, ARTHUR TRAINER–a freelance composer and percussionist (late 30s)–talks to his father (late 70s). THEY haven’t seen each other in seven years.
Time: Several years ago, in November.
Place: A motel. It’s about a mile down the road from a prep school in the Northeast. Two adjoining rooms have been rented.
ARTHUR: You go ahead and eat if you can’t wait. I thought you’d like Old Fitzgerald and lemon, Dad, like sitting out in your garden. You and Norm during the summer, building, digging–boxwood: a Jeffersonian ideal. Seven years old. Running away. You remember me? Down by the lake to the power house–(About his drink.) Should make this a little stronger. The man who painted in the boiler room. Always in the dark, waiting for his pictures to dry. Dwight. Painting without models; used dirty magazines instead. (Pause.)
Carting sand and bricks in the wheelbarrow. Ivy, mountain laurel, replica Greek statuary, the Brussels “Statue of Piss!” (Pause. Continuing to make drink.) I don’t care what anybody thinks of me, Dad—mi’aswell teach like you wanted. Been fired four times, I keep telling people the truth! (About the drink.) What’s the matter? This is your favorite. Old Fitzgerald and lemonade. (Pause.)
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 . . . 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. (Pause.)
I was so afraid you were going to die, Dad. 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.
Out to the overpass to break bottles. Balancing on planks at the lumber yard. We were playing hide and seek, Dad. 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. (Pause.)
(In his father’s voice.) “Don’t know what’s the matter with you, become a nuisance!” You grab my hand tight. Sometimes picking me up, walking so fast, “get you home.” Past cookouts and 4-H clubs, ghosts in the graveyard. Back to the construction of my 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. 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! (Pause.) It really wasn’t though, was it? It wasn’t for Mom—and it wasn’t even for sitting outside 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. Clayt offered me a job, back here for the spring. They think I know something about music even. (Silence.)
I want to visit Dwight. Purples, dark canvases, umbers. My days are numbered, the new yard almost complete . . . (Pause.) I know the route where I won’t get caught–find a feather, blow a dandelion’s top off. Past the Quonset huts, across the campus gravel walks. (About the drink (Suddenly, loud.) “HEY! YOU GET OUT OF THERE!” (As if seeing him:) Norm. Both of us stop. (Pause.) He knows where I’m headed. Chasing me, blood pulsing through my neck. “DOWN BY THE LAKE!” Running me down, shoving me, on top. Pulling, won’t let me go, I’m falling, pushing me. 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.)
(Reprinted from One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century. All rights reserved.)