What follows is the fourth scene of END ZONE, a play by Bob Shuman; its serialization on Stage Voices will end next Tuesday (Scene 1, 2, and 3 were posted on June 23, June 30, and July 7; 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 and his sons are together after a rally.
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.
1:00 AM. LUCIAN, NORM, and ARTHUR are in NORM’S motel room. NORM has just gotten back from the pep rally.
(The Brothers are drinking. Throughout the scene, as they slug back shots, they pound the bottle or glass down hard—and quickly refill their glasses.)
NORM: (Ignoring Lucian, saying the pep-rally speech.) "We’re not saying . . .
ARTHUR: (Catching on that NORM is saying Lucian’s speech) Right, right . . . (trying to remember what LUCIAN said at the rally)
NORM: Put your hand over your heart.
(NORM and ARTHUR put their hands over their hearts and try to give part of LUCIAN’s pep-rally speech.)
(The next two lines are spoken at the same time.)
NORM: “That the challenge be . . .”
ARTHUR: ”That the challenge be . . .”
(The next two lines are spoken at the same time.)
NORM: (To ARTHUR, forcing Arthur’s hand over his heart for him.) Put your hand over your heart!
ARTHUR: Oh, right.
NORM and ARTHUR: . . . WE’RE JUST DOING . . .
(NORM and ARTHUR put their hands over their hearts. Pause.)
LUCIAN: Something, aren’t you?
NORM and ARTHUR: WHAT WE SAID WE WERE GOING TO DO!
ARTHUR: Like holy shit, man, I coulda had a V-8 . . .
LUCIAN: That’s enough now, off to bed with you.
NORM: He doesn’t need someone writing him a speech, he’s best on his feet.
LUCIAN: I hear you.
ARTHUR: Clayt was bawling, crying . . .
NORM: Just put him out there . . .
ARTHUR: Tears streaming down his face . . .
NORM: . . . and tell him to start talking!
NORM and ARTHUR: We’re just doing what we said we were going to—
(NORM is using ARTHUR’s hand to punch ARTHUR.)
NORM: Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself.
NORM: When are you going to stop hitting yourself?
ARTHUR: Watch it.
(The next four lines overlap.)
front of the bon fire with the
flames . . .
Let’s go Defense!
Defense, let’s go!
(LUCIAN turns out the lights on NORM and ARTHUR. Pitch black.)
Heyyy, what’re you doing?
Hold it, hold it!
LUCIAN: Time for sleep.
NORM: What’s goin on here?
LUCIAN: Got to get up in the morning.
ARTHUR: Hey, turn the lights on!
LUCIAN: Quiet you two down
NORM: What do you think you’re doing?!
LUCIAN: NORMAN, I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU TOMORROW!
(The next four lines overlap.)
Can’t see a fucking thing . . .
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey hey, hey.
You don’t have to talk like
that, do you?!
ARTHUR: Practically kill myself.
LUCIAN: I never taught my sons to speak like . . .
(ARTHUR knocks into the wall.)
(LUCIAN turns the lights on. Silence.)
ARTHUR: (Going to the window) I just want to see if I see Clayt coming.
NORM: What’s that?
ARTHUR: Clayt’s coming to shake Coach’s hand.
NORM: (Unbelieving) Clayt’s coming over?
LUCIAN: What’s that you’re saying.
NORM: You invited Clayt over here?
ARTHUR: Hired me at the school.
NORM: Come on, Coach. A light one. A light one.
LUCIAN: I don’t want anything.
NORM: Course you do.
LUCIAN: None for me.
ARTHUR: TWO OF US WORKIN AT THE SCHOOL!
LUCIAN: Andy Dugan picked us up.
ARTHUR: Dugan’s funeral home.
NORM: DOWN. SET.
ARTHUR: Andy was driving a dead body.
(The next three speeches should be said at the same time.)
Say that again?
Hadn’t seen him since
the eighth grade.
He recognized Coach.
LUCIAN: He pulls up to us and says, “Mr. Trainer, could I offer you a lift?”
ARTHUR: He was going to a viewing.
LUCIAN: Had me sitting on top of the coffin!
(ARTHUR pours another drink.)
ARTHUR: We hitchhikedout to the rally.
NORM: With a corpse . . . ?
ARTHUR: We didn’t see you comin.
NORM: You got him out on the highway hitchhiking?
ARTHUR: You didn’t come to pick us up.
LUCIAN: I don’t want you getting all upset.
ARTHUR: Who else was going to take us out there?
LUCIAN: I know what you do . . .
NORM: What’s wrong with you?
ARTHUR: I had to get him out there, didn’t I?
NORM: No, no, you didn’t have to get him out there.
ARTHUR: Best pep rally they ever had!
NORM: You didn’t have to get him out there. He was supposed to stay here and get some rest, so he can make his speech tomorrow.
ARTHUR: I didn’t hear anyone complaining.
NORM: I told you to wait for me.
LUCIAN: I don’t want you getting excited.
ARTHUR: I had to get out there myself.
NORM: I told you I was coming.
ARTHUR: I had people I needed to see, too!
NORM: You could watch him for one night.
ARTHUR: I had people I needed to see, too.
NORM: You put him in a hearse.
ARTH UR: GOT TO SEE CLAYT DIDN’T YOU!
NORM: (Pulling ARTHUR by the scruff of the neck) He could have gotten killed.
ARTHUR: He wasn’t going to get killed.
NORM: (To ARTHUR) I mean fuck off! How much longer you think he's got?
LUCIAN: That’s enough now . . .
NORM: . . . How much longer you think he’s going to have anyway?
LUCIAN: You heard what I just said!
NORM: You just stay back.
LUCIAN: Let him go.
NORM: Coach knows it.
LUCIAN: Stop it!
NORM: (About how much longer LUCIAN has to live:) Answer me.
LUCIAN: That’s enough.
NORM: Six months?
ARTHUR: I don’t know.
NORM: Fifteen years?
ARTHUR: I DON’T KNOW, I JUST SAID!
NORM: How much longer you think he’s going to live?
LUCIAN: You’re not supposed to be . . .
(LUCIAN heads to the other room, turning off one of the lights.)
ARTHUR: I’m going outside . . .
(ARTHUR goes to put on his jacket.)
(Drunk, to LUCIAN.) Come on back here, Coach, I didn’t mean it.
ARTHUR: Get some fresh air .
NORM: (Drunk, but meaning it, to LUCIAN.) We didn't mean it.
ARTHUR: Clayt should have been here by now.
LUCIAN: No use talking to you.
NORM: Supposed to have a good time . . .
ARTHUR: Clayt will just stop in for a quick drink . . .
NORM: (To LUCIAN, still apologizing.) Best pep rally ever.
ARTHUR: Clayt said we ought to get together . . .
NORM: (Talking about LUCIAN) Just have to put him on his feet.
ARTHUR: Don’t even know if Clayt knows what he’s talking about, it’s past 2:00.
NORM: Come onnn, sit down. Still be living after all the rest of us are long gone, right Farts?
(NORM downs his shot.)
NORM: I said to Clayt . . .
LUCIAN: Go ahead and get a good night’s sleep.
NORM: I said to him, I don’t want to see your secretary.
LUCIAN: Look at you.
NORM: I don’t want to see the Director of Athletic Development.
LUCIAN: A mess.
NORM: I’m not seein’ Zant.
LUCIAN: Smell . . . When I think . . .
NORM: (As if to Clayt) I just want to see you!
LUCIAN: How others looked up to you.
NORM: Say to him, I say to him, if you and me are gonna work together . . . you gotta explain to me . . .
LUCIAN: (Knowing that NORM is lying to him) . . . No reason to lie . . .
NORM: This is really what I said to him. This is what I said . . . . If you and me are going to work together you gotta explain to me why this goddamn prep-school is the best keep secret in the whole goddamned country!
LUCIAN: You never saw him.
NORM: Whaddaya mean? Sure I did.
LUCIAN: I talked with Clayt myself.
NORM: (Thinking Clayt is calling.) There he is. See this, Coach? Here’s Clayt right here. I knew it. Don’t tell me. He’s right here! Hello? (Static on the other end.) Hello?
LUCIAN: (To NORM) You’re lying to me.
(The next two lines overlap.)
What do you mean,
I’m lying to you.
I know what you're doing.
NORM: What do you mean?
LUCIAN: I’ll never let you do it.
NORM: What are you talking . . . about?
LUCIAN: Look me in the eye, so I can see. Look at me so I can see whether you’re lying or not. Look at me! To my face. To your own father! You can’t even look at me . . . I know you would do that to me with everything I have . . . Put me there!
NORM: I CAN’T TAKE IT ON ANYMORE, COACH! I CAN’T MAKE IT WORK. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAY IT, BUT I’M NOT THAT STRONG. CAN’T YOU SEE THAT? CAN’T YOU SEE THAT? STOP LOOKG AT ME AS IF I’M SOMETHING I’M NOT. NORM WILL TAKE CARE OF THAT, NORM WILL FIX THAT—I CAN’T, COACH—AND I HAVEN’T EVER BEEN ABLE TO!
(ARTHUR enters with a note.)
ARTHUR: Clayt left this downstairs.
LUCIAN: (To NORM) Tomorrow you need to talk to me.
ARTHUR: (Reading note) “Sorry we didn’t connect.”
NORM: (About Clayt) Let me see it.
(NORM takes the note.)
ARTHUR: He was here.
NORM: (Reading) “Good to chat with Luce . . . Glad to have Arthur on board.”
NORM: Where’s your cigar?
ARTHUR: Sounds like we should have another drink, shouldn’t we?
NORM: You don’t have a job unless Clayt gives you a cigar.
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
NORM: It’s true. That’s the way he signs off on things. He kept promising me for the longest time.
LUCIAN: Don’t listen to him.
NORM: No matter how many promises he was giving me. No matter how many times he spoke to me, all that time I was following him around!
(Suddenly, NORM rushes at ARTHUR, giving him a Mohawk.)
NORM: (Tickling ARTHUR in a children's game) Are you the monk that told the monk that I'm the monk who told the monk that he's the monk . . .?
NORM: . . . that told the monk that you're the monk—
ARTHUR: What are you doing?
NORM: . . .that I'm the monk he’s the monk that hit the monk around the corner?
ARTHUR: What are you doing? Knock it off!
NORM: I don’t care.
ARTHUR: Cut it out will you? Stop that.
NORM: Go back to the East Village if you want!.
LUCIAN: (To his dead wife.) Can you hear me, Rose Mary?
NORM: Doesn’t matter to me! It’s better if you don’t take any RESPONSIBILITY!
LUCIAN: You’re here with me now, aren’t you?
NORM: (To ARTHUR) I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T MAKE IT. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PEOPLE WHO AREN’T LUCKY ENOUGH—WHO BELIEVED THE HORSE SHIT THAT THEY SHOULD BE HELPING SOMEONE!
LUCIAN: I feel your hands, running over my face . . .
NORM YOU’VE JUST LET SOMEONE ELSE TELL YOU WHAT TO DO . . . ALL YOU’VE DONE IS LET SOMEONE ELSE GET AWAY WITH IT!.
LUCIAN: . . . Like cobwebs.
NORM: I could go up to some rough city.
LUCIAN: Could I meet you Rose Mary? Could I meet you?
NORM: Some tough city. I could show up there.
LUCIAN: (As if to Rose Mary) When will I be able to meet you?
NORM: Tomorrow. (About LUCIAN.) He never had any money, he was a teacher!
LUCIAN: How much longer must I wait.
NORM: Coach doesn’t have any pension.
ARTHUR: You all right, Coach?
NORM: Maybe I’d never come back.
LUCIAN: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
NORM: He takes you out for lunch if he hires you. I know he does that.
(NORM is drinking.)
NORM: (To ARTHUR) Tell me what you’re hiding.
ARTHUR: Nothing. I’m not hiding anything..
NORM: You’re hiding something . . .
ARTHUR: I’m not hiding anything . . .
NORM: You’re hiding something!
LUCIAN: (To ARTHUR) You talk to me.
NORM: . . . you’re hiding something from me!
LUCIAN: (To ARTHUR) . . . I want you to talk to me!
NORM: Like that job for Farts, you’re hiding something!
ARTHUR: I thought you . . . ?
(Suddenly, NORM starts arm wrestling with ARTHUR.)
NORM: (As they wrestle) You’re dead!
ARTHUR: WATCH IT!
NORM: What are you hiding?!
NORM: I’ll kill you!
ARTHUR: Watch it—
NORM: What are you hiding from me?
ARTHUR: (As they arm-wrestle) Thomasia!
NORM: SAY IT!
LUCIAN: You’ll stay with me now, won’t you, Art?
ARTHUR: I can’t–
NORM: YOU’LL NEVER BEAT ME!
LUCIAN: Do you hear me, Art?
NORM: You’ll never beat me. You’ll never beat me. You hear me?!
LUCIAN: Maybe you could stay with me?
NORM: You understand me?! Think you’re so good. What have you ever given him? . . . I could have shown up and disappeared into some tough city . . .
LUCIAN: Give Norm and Thomasia a little break?
(ARTHUR wins the arm wrestling.)
(LUCIAN goes to his coat, take out a cigar and puts it on the table.)
(For the rest of the scene LUCIAN will be coughing due to the cigar smoke; it becomes more and more severe as the scene progresses.)
NORM: . . . I’ll take Coach up to the speakers stand tomorrow and be done . . .
LUCIAN: (To ARTHUR, coughing.) Pour us a drink.
NORM: I’ll be on my way.
LUCIAN: Bourbon and lemonade.
NORM: We’ve given enough to the Master’s school, haven’t we, Coach?
LUCIAN: (Coughing.) . . . Come on, this is supposed to be a celebration, isn’t it?
NORM: All the time we’ve spent being grown up.
LUCIAN: Think of a toast.
NORM: (About the note) No such thing. We never grow old, other people just think we did. Inside we’re exactly the same, we just have more experience.
LUCIAN: . . .Yale man’s been hired new Alumni Director . . .
NORM: PROPOSE THE TOAST!
ARTHUR: . . . Alumni Director.
LUCIAN: To us being together!
NORM: Coach’s facility arrangements at the home have been made, it’s . . . been done.
LUCIAN: (As a toast) TO US ALL BEING TOGETHER AGAIN!
LUCIAN: TO ALL OF US BEING HERE WITH EACH OTHER!
NORM: Watch the smoke.
ARTHUR: Whad you call me?!
LUCIAN: (About a drink) I can have another one.
NORM: CAN’T YOU SEE HE CAN”T BREATHE THAT?!!
(Suddenly, NORM turns on ARTHUR and tackles him to the ground. The following should be brutal.)
(The next 3 lines overlap.)
Can’t fuckin breathe!
Whad you call me?!
You’d take care of me.
NORM: What the fuck are you doing, can’t fuckin . . .
(The next 2 lines overlap.)
DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK
GET OFF ME, WILL YOU
FUCKIN GET OFF ME?
LUCIAN: HOLD IT!
(NORM overturns the table in the room, the lamp on it shatters and the lights go out. The audience now hears the scene better than they can see it—there is only the faint flickering of outside light.)
NORM: YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO FUCKING CARE FOR HIM,
LUCIAN: STOP THAT!
LUCIAN: THAT'S ENOUGH!
NORM: DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE DOING!!
ARTHUR: GET OFF ME!
LUCIAN: YOU HEAR ME!
NORM: FUCKING MAKE IT WORSE —
ARTHUR: Turn on the lights . . .
LUCIAN: GET OFF!
NORM: YOU DON’T KNOW —
ARTHUR: My head!
NORM: (About the lights) Turn them on!
LUCIAN: (To NORM) GET UP OFF THE FLOOR!
(ARTHUR’s head is bleeding.)
(ARTHUR tackles NORM.)
ARTHUR: (ARTHUR is bleeding.) Fucking . . .
LUCIAN: Stop it.
NORM: YOU DON'T KNOW HOW . . .
LUCIAN: Get up before I turn them on.
LUCIAN: GET HIM UP!
ARTHUR: Turn on the lights.
NORM: CAN'T TAKE CARE OF HIM!
ARTHUR: I’ll get them myself!
LUCIAN: Pull him up!
NORM: You get back here.
(ARTHUR covers his hand in blood and forces into NORM’S face.)
ARTHUR: See that?
NORM: You want me to stop it?!
LUCIAN: STOP IT!
ARTHUR: Fucking blood?!
LUCIAN: THAT'S ENOUGH!
(The next 3 lines overlap).
Eat it! Eat that fucking blood!
Stop fucker, stop it.
Get up both of you.
ARTHUR: Think you’re fuckin gonna kill me?
(ARTHUR turns on the lights. Both NORM and ARTHUR is bleeding.)
ARTHUR: (To NORM) Thomasia.
NORM: What are you . . .?
ARTHUR: She’s started again!
LUCIAN: No . . .
What are you?!
ARTHUR: THE PRICE OF FUCKING LEAVING
ARTHUR: I’LL TELL YOU SOMETHING!
NORM: SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU HEAR ME?!
ARTHUR: While she was down there . . .
NORM: You never meant anything to Coach!
ARTHUR: Without him watching her. Thomasia.
NORM: YOU WANT ME TO DO IT AGAIN?!
(NORM tackles ARTHUR again.)
(LUCIAN begins hyperventilating.)
(The next 2 lines overlap.)
Don’t you ever say that –
How you like it if I do that?
Huh? How about if I do
LUCIAN: (Gasping.) I. CAN’T. LET.
NORM: STARTED AGAIN!?
LUCIAN: YOU. LEAVE. ME!
NORM: Don't you say that . . .
NORM: Don't say that!
LUCIAN: CAN'T. LEAVE. ME.
(LUCIAN and ARTHUR are on the floor, sprawled out.)
(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.)