“Running away will never make you free.”
Editor’s note: the previous installment (Act One, Scene II & III) is here, also check out the first installment (Act One, Scene I) which features character backgrounds. Look for parts 4 through 5 soon!
Time/Place: Tuesday, November 8, 2016—NYC.
Note about the Set: Less is always more. Don’t you think?
Act One, Scene IV
A basement apartment in Washington Heights.
Steve is alone. He makes a call.
Steve: It’s me.
Steve: I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m in New York. City.
He plays with the wallpaper.
Steve: I miss you too.
He does a calf stretch.
Steve: We need to figure this out, Rachel, together. You don’t get to make this decision by yourself anymore.
Steve: Well, that’s the first thing. Do you want to move in with me? I know it’s small but I own it and it’s close to your job and to that noodle place you like.
Steve: Rachel I’m ready to make this happen.
Eric: Sorry old friend.
Steve: Rachel? Hello?
Eric: Didn’t mean to interrupt.
Steve: Eric I don’t understand the world we live in.
Eric: When I’m in the ER the world seems pretty cut and dry: if you’ve been stabbed you will bleed. If I apply pressure, it will slow the bleeding down. Etc. etc. etc. But outside of the ER, it is an entirely different ballgame, old friend, and speaking of ballgame. I have acquired the baseball.
Steve: Shouldn’t we wait for Charleston?
Eric: He bought his own goodie bag. He’s making smores with Sam in the kitchen.
Steve: Sammy: .
Eric: Would you like to have some baseball?
Eric: You sure?
Steve: Whatever you got in your hand, I don’t care what it is, if it will take the edge off of what I’m feeling right now I would like to have some.
Eric: Sorry old friend.
Eric: I overheard a bit of that.
Eric: Do you want to talk about it?
Steve: So are we going to do this baseball or what?
Eric: Have you ever done cocaine before?
Steve: It’s cocaine?
Eric: We call cocaine baseball here in Washington Heights.
Steve: What do they call it in Chinatown?
Eric: You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. I won’t think less of you for turning down drugs.
Steve: Just show me how.
Eric: Alright old friend.
Eric does a line.
Eric: Ahh there she goes.
Steve: Just like this?
Eric: Just like that.
Steve does a line.
Steve: I don’t feel anything.
Eric: You will, oh you will. Like a warm orgasm climbing up your spine, ready to be shot off into space.
Steve: My heart is beating very fast.
Eric: This basement has so much potential, don’t you think?
Steve: Feel like it’s beating a bit too fast, Eric.
Eric: This could be an excellent bed and breakfast.
Steve: Do you think that the right things happen to us? Or do things just happen to us and we make them the right things?
Eric: Put a screen up down the middle to separate the bed from the breakfast part.
Steve: Eric, I don’t want to go back home to Richmond.
Eric: Oh, Steve, old friend. You will never, ever have to go home again. You can come work with me at the ER and do physical therapy—
Eric: And you can live with me and we can help Charleston and Valerie raise their child—
Steve: I’ve always wanted to be a Godfather—
Eric: We can get this bed and breakfast business going here and take the money and go somewhere warm for the New York winter—
Steve: Like Napa!
Eric: Or Haiti if they aren’t expecting any natural disasters that season and hell, we could start a bed and breakfast there too—
Steve: And I could train the guests and make them personalized diet and meal plans and teach morning kickboxing classes on the beach—
Eric: Then when I have enough money maybe she’ll love me, right?
Steve: Promise me I don’t have to go home to Richmond, Eric.
Eric: I promise old friend, I promise. You will never, ever have to go back home.
Steve: Rachel’s pregnant. She wants to have an abortion.
Eric: Oh I’m sorry.
Steve: I want us to keep it. I want her to move in with me. I want us to get married and have a family. But she’s not looking for all of those things yet…or she is…she just doesn’t want those things with me.
Eric: That’s why you took the bus here, isn’t it?
Steve: She say that it’s, “her body and her choice,” and I respect that. I just wish that her choice was to be with me and start a family. Says more about me than it does about her. I’m not against women’s rights. I just love her. I want to make a life with her.
Eric: I’m sorry, old friend.
Steve: I know if she really loved me she’d want those things too.
Eric: Love is a tricky thing these days.
Steve: She wants to get her yoga certification and travel the world. Writing yoga and travel blogs.
Eric: Elise wants to win a Golden Globe.
Steve: To her I’m what. Her fuck buddy with a title? What’s the point? Why can’t things be permanent. Why are we so afraid of permanence? Is it because of the internet?
Eric: IT IS SO BECAUSE OF THE INTERNET.
Charleston enters with Sammy 25. They are also both high on baseball.
Sammy: If he fucking wins we’re moving to Quebec.
Charleston: He’s not going to win.
Sammy: Steve you’re from the South, right?
Steve: Yes. But I’m never going home.
She high-fives him.
Sammy: Fuck yeah, Steve. Because they don’t get it down there. They are stuck in the 1950s. It’s like who are these people? Are they really that stupid? As a psychology student I don’t understand the psychology.
Steve: People are afraid of change.
Sammy: Fucking white rich men. If she doesn’t win, New York City is going to riot.
Eric: She’s going to win.
Sammy: Like maybe even secede.
Eric: Sam how can you afford this palace?
Sammy: I deal a lot of drugs.
Sammy: I wish I lived in the sixties. I wish I was part of it, you know? I would be a photographer and I would have sex with everyone, men and women and I would document it.
Steve: The sex?
Sammy: No. The vibe.
Charleston: New York was brutal back then.
Sammy: Yeah cause Disney hadn’t cleaned it up yet. It wasn’t brutal. It was real. We’ve lost that realness. And pinterest, pinterest is the fucking root of it all.
Eric: Why all the blame on pinterest?
Sammy: We are pinning fake shit on a virtual board. It’s evil. It’s I can’t even talk about it. I’m doing another line.
She does another line.
Sammy: So you guys want to come to this beer garden in Brooklyn?
Charleston: That sounds so fun.
Eric: Sadly, we must get to the theatre.
Sammy: Fucking theatre. They’re as bad as pinterest.
Steve: Sam, it was a pleasure.
He goes to shake her hand.
Sammy: I don’t shake hands.
Steve salutes to her awkwardly.
Eric: As always Sam, a pleasure.
Sammy: Text me if you guys want to do paint ball sometime. My buddy is starting a paint ball / karaoke collective in Queens. We could really use your support. Thursday’s are open mic night. The proceeds go to support victims of Lyme disease.
Charleston: Later Sam.
Sammy: This was eye opening.
Eric: I fucking love your basement.
Act One, Scene V
Eric sits. He has flowers in his lap.
Charleston and Steve enter with pizza boxes.
Eric: You can’t eat that here.
Charleston: John’s pizzeria is the best, Steve, I’m telling you.
Steve: Oh my God. It smells like the best.
Charleston: Dude. It is the best.
Eric: This is the theatre. You can’t eat pizza at the theatre.
Charleston: Want a slice, Eric?
Eric: This is disrespectful. To Elise and the performers.
Steve: Oh. My. God.
Eric: Can’t take you all anywhere.
Charleston: Eric. Take the stethoscope out of your ass and have a slice.
Eric: I’m not hungry.
Charleston: You’re doing too much blow, man.
Eric: Look whose calling the kettle black—
The lights dim. It suddenly gets very spooky and eerie. Make a smoke machine. Weird, creepy music.
Announcer: (Pre-recorded) Thank you, thank you for joining us tonight for the opening performance of The Boarding House on Nightmare Hill (Thunder). This show, is not for the faint of heart.
Charleston: Yo, you didn’t tell me it was scary.
Eric: It’s not scary – Elise said it is based off of a children’s fairytale.
Announcer: We ask that you turn of your cellphones, write your last will and testaments, and take any blood thinners or heart medications before the performance starts.
Charleston: Kids fairytales can be scary as fuck man.
Announcer: Enjoy the performance. It could be your last chance. To enjoy. The theatre.
Steve: I’m a little nervous, here.
Charleston: Can we leave after Elise goes on?
Steve: Yeah, do you mind Eric?
Eric: Yes, of course, old friends, we can leave as soon as Elise finishes.
Steve: When does she come on?
Eric: End of Act III.
Charleston / Steve: Oh God / What? / Good God, dude!
Announcer: Are you ready to transport yourself to another time?
Charleston looks at his phone before he turns it off.
Charleston: What? This has got to be wrong?
Eric: What, old friend?
Charleston: They’re predicting he’s gonna win Florida.
Announcer: A time before vaccines, when cholera and vampires ran wild through the streets, killing midwives and carpenters and Jehovah-witnesses—
Charleston: Oh God.
Eric: He’s not going to win Florida. What site are you on?
Announcer: A time when the King on his mighty throne would rape his pretty subjects—
Charleston: Guys this is really happening.
Eric: He can’t win! He’s unelectable.
Steve: I don’t know, Eric, that little girl in the bodega, she predicted this.
Charleston: They’re saying he’s going to take Wyoming and Pennsylvania.
Eric: Wyoming doesn’t count, we knew that—
Announcer: A time when condoms were illegal, when the night watchmen murdered their prisoners, when Jews lived in caves, hiding from the mighty King—
Charleston: Guys, I can’t sit through this.
Eric: We have to sit through this! Elise is in this!
Announcer: A time when demons walked the earth amongst us, disguised as members of the King’s Court—
Charleston: But, he’s not going to win, right?
Steve: I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Eric: He’s not going to win.
Announcer: A time when—
Charleston: Oh shit Arizona too—
Announcer: GENTLEMAN IN THE FRONT WITHT THE PIZZA – WILL YOU TURN OFF YOUR FUCKING CELLPHONE!
End of Act I.
Sarah Congress graduated in 2013 with a BFA in Dramatic Writing from the Conservatory at SUNY Purchase College. She spent a year working as the Literary Manager of the New Jersey Repertory Company before moving to New York City to pursue her playwriting career. Her plays The Legal Secretary, Master Matthew, and The Death Play…or What is Brad Doing in the Supply Room Closet? have all been published on the indie theatre now website (http://www.indietheaternow.