You’ll Just Love My Dad by Peter Schuyler

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must not be Performed or Copied without the Author’s prior consent


     
      ACT 1

      SCENE 1
      Stage lights up.  Hank breaks into the house.  Mutters obscenities
      and leaves the front door wide open. 
     
      The house is packed up.  Boxes everywhere.  Hank pushes a grocery
      cart in with him containing a sleeping bag, clothing and various
      unidentifiable things.  A large, cardboard, sandwich board is tied
      onto the upstage side of the cart.  He looks the room over. Sighs.
      Leaves the cart in the center of the room.
     
      He stretches painfully.  Sits for a moment and takes in the room.
      Takes off his shoes, rubs his feet and sighs in relief. 
     
      Hank opens a box, looks things over, discards them on the floor.
      Finds a pair of Doc Martin’s.  Holds them up to his feet. They are
      too small.
     
      Tries a second box.  Nothing of interest.  In a third box, he finds a
      wool scarf.  Puts it in his cart.  He empties a trash basket onto the
      floor and sorts through it. 
     
      Finds a journal still in its wrapping film.  Pulls his old journal
      out from his coat.  Appraises them side by side.  He puts the old one
      in the cart, peels the wrapping from the new. Tosses the wrapping on
      the floor and puts the journal in his coat. 
     
      Empties another box.  Gives up.  Walks into the bathroom and starts a
      bath.  Returning to the living room, turns on the television, sits for
      a moment. 
     
      He walks into the kitchen off stage.  Rummages through the fridge.
      Returns munching a sandwich.  Sits back down, sticks his feet up on
      the coffee table and watches television. 
     
      Nods to himself.  Picks up the new journal, pulls a pen out of a
      pocket and writes.
     
      Leaving the TV on, Hank goes to the bathroom with the new journal.
      He dims the lights in the bathroom.  After testing the water, he
      disrobes and eases himself into the water. 
     
      Jennifer approaches the front door.  Very cautiously peers into the
      room.
     
      JENNIFER
      (alarmed)
      Jesus.  Oh, God.
     
      Touches 911 on her cell.
      She sees the grocery cart and backs out of the house.
      Re-enters her house and creeps up to the shopping cart.  She looks at
      a large piece of cardboard on the upstage side of the cart.
      Recognizes it immediately.  A look of disbelief comes over her. 
     
      JENNIFER
      (on the phone)
      9-1-1!  Oh, I’m sorry.  I thought…It was a mistake.  Sorry.
     
      Hangs up. 
      While carrying the cardboard sign, she looks over the wreck that was
      her living room.  Purse still over her shoulder, she creeps into the
      kitchen.  She returns to the living room and walks a little more
      regularly.
     
      JENNIFER
      Hank?
     
      She turns off the TV and leans the sandwich board against the TV
      facing downstage.
     
     
      It is not important whether the sandwich board is totally legible to
      the audience but it should be block lettered so that those who can see
      it can read it.  The sandwich board reads:
     
      AMERICANS BEWARE!
     
      Corporations want you to think about:
      Warfare…..................Instead of…...........Medicare
      Money…....................Instead of…...........Human value
      Homeland security…........Instead of…...........Owning your home
      Drug companies…...........Instead of…...........Health
      Religion….................Instead of…...........Sex Education
      Marijuana…................Instead of…...........Alcoholism
      Tax rebates…..............Instead of…...........Honest
      government
      Fancy Cars…...............Instead of…...........Air pollution
      Cheap goods…..............Instead of…...........Sweat shops
      Erectile dysfunction….....Instead of…...........World Hunger
      Drilling for oil….........Instead of…...........Alternative
      energy
      A Dollar Bill…............Instead of…...........Bill of Rights
     
      YOUR FREEDOM HAS BEEN STOLEN BY THE CORPORATIONS AND THE MEDIA.
      `
      HANK
      I was watching that.
     
      Jennifer spins around toward the sound of his voice.  She is frozen
      to the spot.
     
      JENNIFER
      (hesitantly)
      Hank?
     
      She moves toward the bathroom uncertainly.  Enters as if a monster is
      inside.
     
      JENNIFER
      Hank?
     
      HANK
      Nice tub.  No jets.
      (shakes his head)
      Should have jets.
      (beat)
      What’s it been?
      (beat)
      Seven years?
     
      JENNIFER
      You’re alive?
     
      HANK
      Get me a coke, will ya?
     
      Hank waves her away like an unwanted waitress.  Jennifer stares at
      him as if he were an apparition.  After he stares back at her for a
      moment, she moves quickly out of the room.
     
      HANK
      Hey, eightball.
     
      Jennifer cringes as the name
     
      HANK
      You’re still wearing your hair that way from when you were a kid.
     
      She hurries to fetch his coke.
     
      HANK
      Bring the T-V in here.
      (to himself)
      It’s just like the hospital.  If you need it, you can’t have it.  If
      you don’t need it, you got more of it than you know what to do with.
     
      She hurries back with the coke.
     
      HANK
      You know coke is bad for you.
     
      JENNIFER
      (uncertainly)
      Didn’t you ask for a coke?
     
      HANK
      (IGNORING HER)
      Just rots your guts.  A glass?
     
      JENNIFER
      What are you doing here?
     
      HANK
      Hospital kicked me out.  That’s what I’m doing here.  Three heart
      attacks.  Went to the VA.
     
      Jennifer hustles to the kitchen.  Hank is playing with something in
      the tub.  At first, we suspect that he might be masturbating but it
      becomes clear that he is playing with a loofah, making a submarine or
      airplane or waterfall out of it.
     
      HANK
      Got some lentil soup? Hey, bring the T-V in here will ya?
     
      JENNIFER
      (TO HERSELF AS SHE CROSSES THE LIVING ROOM)
      What did I ever do to you, God?  Why couldn’t he be a burglar or a
      psycho-killer?
     
      HANK
      (ANGRILY)
      Everybody thinks life owes him something.
     
      Jennifer stops in the living room and listens to him.  She sits on
      the sofa and puts her head in her hands and shakes it sadly.
     
      HANK
      Every one driving around in the fancy jeepolacs, buying stuff they’ll
      throw away before they get home.
      (sinks into the water.  Comes up)
      You think you ignore me long enough you can throw me away too.  Just
      another hamburger wrapper to be shit canned.
     
      Jennifer stands, straightens up and returns.
     
      JENNIFER
      Here’s the glass.
     
      HANK
      I already drank it.  Ya got any soup?
     
      JENNIFER
      I’m sorry.  I’ve got to…
     
      HANK
      What have you got to do other than talk to your old man?
     
      JENNIFER
      I thought you wanted a T-V?
     
      HANK
      I do.
     
      Jennifer sets her purse down on the toilet, walks out of the room and
      brings a personal TV.  She plugs it in near Hank. 
     
      JENNIFER
      What are you doing here?
     
      She waits for a reply but he’s busy surfing the channels.  She backs
      out of the room and goes into the living room.
     
      JENNIFER
      (TO HERSELF)
      I can’t believe this.
      (to Hank)
      How did you get here?
     
      HANK
      Walked.
     
      JENNIFER
      From where?
     
      HANK
      Long way.
     
      JENNIFER
      Why?
     
      HANK
      Don’t you got cable?
     
      JENNIFER
      You broke into my house.
     
      HANK
      Do I have a key?
     
      JENNIFER
      (with trepidation)
      How long you plan on staying.
     
      HANK
      Jennifer, just come in here and talk to your old man, for Christ
      sakes.
     
      JENNIFER
      (THOROUGHLY ANNOYED)
      In a minute.
     
      HANK
      Always, “in a minute.”  I can wait.  Been waiting all my damn
      life, that’s for sure.
     
      She paces the living room.
     
      JENNIFER
      Why did the hospital throw you out?
     
      HANK
      Jennifer.  You got an ashtray?  They wouldn’t let me smoke in the
      hospital.
     
      JENNIFER
      They threw you out for smoking?
     
      HANK
      Just get me an ashtray.
     
      JENNIFER
      I don’t have ashtrays.  I don’t smoke.
     
      HANK
      Television is the machine of war.
     
      Jennifer angrily grabs all of the magazines from the table and
      marches into the bathroom.
     
      JENNIFER
      (MEEKLY)
      Here are some magazines.
     
      HANK
      Did I ask for magazines?  Just put them there.  Did you forgot
      something?
     
      JENNIFER
      (FEARFUL)
      What?
     
      HANK
      Ashtray.
     
      JENNIFER
      Use the coke can.
     
      HANK
      You get money for cans. 
     
      She leaves the room goes to the kitchen and returns with a plate.
     
      HANK
      (APPRAISING HER)
      Looks like you’ve put on a few pounds.
     
      Jennifer crosses her arms in front of her protectively. 
     
      HANK
      Nah, it looks good on you.
     
      Appraising her again
     
      HANK
      Change your hair, though, it makes you look like your mother.
     
      Jennifer stands there not knowing what to do.  She has become slack
      except for rubbing her arm.
     
      JENNIFER
      What’s wrong with my hair?
     
      She looks in the mirror and fluffs her hair.
     
      JENNIFER
      What’s wrong with the way my mother looked?
     
      HANK
      You’re a good looking woman.
      (beat)
      Got something to eat? Soup.
     
      JENNIFER
      I can’t, Hank.  I’m busy.
     
      HANK
      You keep saying that but I don’t see you doing anything.  You know
      the French say, “aide-toi.”  You know what that means?
      (doesn’t wait for an answer)
      It means heaven helps those who do something for themselves cuz no
      one else is gonna do nothin for them. 
     
      JENNIFER
      (BUILDING UP HER COURAGE)
      I need to go pack now.
     
      Regrets it as soon as she says it.
     
      HANK
      (VERY INTERESTED)
      Where you going?
     
      JENNIFER
      (doesn’t want to tell him)
      To Paris.  I’m moving.  I’m opening my company’s office there.
     
     
      HANK
      Then it’s a good thing I’m here.  I can teach you French.
     
      JENNIFER
      (DEFENSIVELY)
      I speak French.  Besides, where did you learn French?
     
      HANK
      You didn’t seem to know what “aide-toi” meant.  I’m hungry.
      (beat)
      Crackers?
     
      Jennifer goes to the kitchen
     
      HANK
      Did you ever meet that broad I hung with in California?  We both gave
      up drinking the same time and so we shacked up for a while.  She kept
      saying, “aide-toi” to me over and over again.
     
      She returns with crackers.
     
      JENNIFER
      Wonder why.
     
      HANK
      Used to teach school or some shit in Lyon until the bottle got her.
      You know, alcohol gets all kinds of people.  From popes to peons.
     
      Likes it.  Reaches for his pad and writes it down
     
      JENNIFER
      I can’t believe you actually listened to a thing she had to say. 
     
      HANK
      Lords to lardasses.
     
      Nods happily, writing.
     
      JENNIFER
      You never listened to your own flesh and blood.
      (beat)
      So, why didn’t you stay with her?
     
      HANK
      Who?
     
      JENNIFER
      This French woman.
     
      HANK
      Pascal?  She was too much of a drunk.
     
      JENNIFER
      (LAUGHS)
      That’s the pot calling the kettle black.
     
      HANK
      If she would’ve switched to pot, we could have had a fine old time.
     
      JENNIFER
      (STARES AT HIM OPEN MOUTHED)
      Tomorrow.  I’m leaving tomorrow.
     
      HANK
      I don’t think I’ve eaten anything ‘cept that coke since
      yesterday…maybe the day before, I don’t know.
     
      JENNIFER
      Looks like you ate my dinner.
     
      HANK
      Bologna?  That stuff’ll kill you.
     
      JENNIFER
      It was all I had left.  Hank, I have to pack.  Movers are coming
      tomorrow morning. 
     
      HANK
      I’ll take care of your house.
     
      JENNIFER
      (HARSHLY)
      No
      (relenting a bit)
      No. 
     
      HANK
      No problem.
     
      JENNIFER
      You, you can’t stay here.  I sold it. 
     
      HANK
      Now you don’t have to do that.
     
      JENNIFER
      Hank.  I sold it.  It’s not mine any more.  I’m moving. 
     
      HANK
      So, what? You’re throwing me out?
      (beat)
      Like the hospital.

[end of extract]

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