Hi. This is a rough draft of a play this writer wrote. It is his first attempt at scriptwriting. It is supposed to be approximately 15 minutes long. Hope you like it.
THE BONES OF EMILY’S FATHER
EMILY (A young woman)
DARREN (A young man. Emily’s brother.)
HAL (An old man. Emily and Darren’s grandfather.)
LUKE (A young man. Work associate/protégé of Emily’s father.)
(House lights are up. WRITER stands DSR, greeting audience individual members/improving small talk for a minute or two while audience settles and performers get ready. Houselights down. Spotlight WRITER, DSR.)
WRITER: (Monologuing to audience). So I’m a writer. And, uh- being a writer, I’ve only done a good job when I’ve drawn you into the story. It takes a little bit of courage, sometimes more than I have, to tell a story. Sometimes it’s more than I can bear. (gazes off toward CS)
(Lights up, CS. Using a minimal number of props, such as folding chairs etc. and no back drops, there are four characters positioned as though sitting in a living room. From left to right: HAL (with bottle of scotch), LUKE, EMILY, and DARREN. They sit as though frozen in time/place. It is now apparent that WRITER was gazing at EMILY.)
WRITER: (reverting his gaze to audience, and gesticulating to each character as he goes over them) So in the interest of time… that young man on the right, there. Darren. Militant Atheist. Punk rock. You know this guy. Sitting next to him, his sister, Emily. Their father has recently passed away. (WRITER pauses a moment, and then continues.) That upright looking fella, next to Emily, is Luke. He worked with Emily’s father, kind of like a protégé. And then there’s Grandpa, single handedly insulating Johnny Walker from the effects of a bad economy. (A little uncertainly) Ok, then…
(Spotlight down. WRITER crosses through darkness to lit CS, perhaps looking back a bit at the audience. He stands behind LUKE and taps him on the shoulder. LUKE begins his line and the characters are unfrozen. WRITER, behind all of them, slinks off stage unnoticed.)
LUKE: (Gesticulating toward mimed coffee table) Em, you’ve got to eat something. You look like you’re wasting away.
EMILY: … Maybe.
DARREN: Really went all out, buying her that Big Mac.
LUKE: It just seemed like-
DARREN:A hunk of processed meat is never the answer.
(The conversation devolves into silence for a moment.)
HAL: (Hearing a ticking offstage) Goddammit, what’s that damn cat doing!
EMILY: Grandpa, that’s the clock in the kitchen.
HAL: I told your mother not to get that goddamn cat! I hate it. One time I kicked that thing so good… (Irritability slowly grows to amusment). All the way across the kitchen. I come in later and I hear your father whisperin’. When I peek around the corner he’s curled around the washing machine trying to get her to come out. Says its my fault, I kicked her. Just crooked around the machine, whispering sweet nothins to a cat. The goddamn thing wouldn’t come out for three days. Every night your father spent fifteen minutes sweet talkin’ the cat. Eventually I says ‘give it up Jimmy. I can tell when they ain’t gonna put out.’
(DARREN bursts into laughter. LUKE, who has been smiling at the old man’s memory of his son, is speechless.)
EMILY: That’s really gross, Grandpa.
DARREN: (Still laughing) Like a boss.
HAL: … lord, do I miss Jim. He was a good son.
HAL: He did good with you kids. (Gestures at LUKE) And did his best with old stiffy here.
LUKE:I owe that man so much. Some of my best memories are of being in the office with him, just working. Just trying to get through the day.
EMILY: (taking LUKE’s hand) He thought you had potential.
DARREN: Yeah, right. McMuffin over there was dad’s charity case ***** boy.
LUKE: I respected him. That’s all.
DARREN: Oh, there was no other reason you wanted to be around all the time? (DARREN conspicuously eyes LUKE and EMILY holding hands. When EMILY realizes this, she lets go. Conversation lapses.)
EMILY: (looking at bag on coffee table)… I’m not really hungry right now. I’m going to put this up for later.
(EMILY stands and mimes picking up the McDonald’s bag. She crosses DSR, where WRITER is sitting on the edge of the stage far right. Spotlight DSR on EMILY, who mimes busying herself about the kitchen with dishes, etc.)
EMILY: (Over her shoulder, toward the other characters) You know, it might be the little things I miss most.
(WRITER stands and edges into spotlight, observing EMILY.)
EMILY: (Now, perhaps to herself) Just stupid little things. When I was a little girl, the way he held me. (WRITER approaches, lovingly brushes a strand of hair out of her face, caresses her jawline with his fingertip.) I felt safe. He was towering, a lighthouse, a beacon in the dark. (WRITER removes dishes from EMILY’s hands, and then removes her hands from the kitchen sink). And whenever I hugged him (EMILY offhandedly turns and embraces WRITER) I held on like no storm could sweep me away.
(Spotlight goes dark. EMILY crosses back to CS to reclaim her seat.)
HAL: You say somethin’, kiddo?
EMILY: … No. Nothing, grandpa.
HAL: I know it’s hard, Em.
DARREN: It shouldn’t be. He isn’t worth what you’re putting yourself through. He’s gone, so what. One less *******.
LUKE: I know he was hard on you Darren but it was only because-
DARREN: Put that **** away. You’re only here because you want to bang my sister.
HAL: The hell kind of way is that to talk. I’ve heard enough of your mouth.
DARREN: And I’m tired of being here. (Gets up to leave)
(WRITER freezes the scene, and crosses from DSR to CS to get DARREN and escort him DCS. The two stand looking at each other for a moment.)
DARREN: Are… are you…
WRITER: Nope. Just a mediocre writer. Close though.
DARREN: But… wh-… why…?
WRITER: You tell me.
DARREN: It’s just that… sometimes it feels like being in complete darkness. Like I don’t how to be or what to do and there’s no one to tell me.
WRITER: Seems like you need a Father. Funny. It’s always the ones who scream the loudest that they don’t.
DARREN: Well, now I have you. You know about all of this confusion.
(WRITER remains silent).
DARREN: … Hello?
DARREN: Why won’t you answer?
(Slowly, WRITER returns DSR into the darkness. After watching him go and lingering a moment, EXIT DARREN DSL. WRITER claps. Characters unfreeze.)
EMILY: (Reflectively)‘He isn’t worth it.’
HAL: Don’t you let that goddamn boy make you think that for one second, Em.
EMILY: No- no I don’t think that. It’s just, Darren talks like Dad’s still here. He doesn’t mean to. We can’t even speak to each other anymore.
LUKE: It’s been hard on everyone. Especially you two.
HAL: But it’s right.
LUKE: Not sure I understand what you mean. What could possibly be right about any of this?
HAL: Everything goes away, dumbass. In time. People, the world, the starch in your drawers. My father kicked over. Their father kicked over. It should’ve been my turn. It’s a sad day that I’ve outlived my boy. A cruel fluke. But whatever the order, it’s right in the grand scheme of things.
EMILY: Grandpa, why are you saying this?
LUKE: His memory hasn’t gone anywhere. He showed me the way. He gave me the rules.
HAL: Hah. Great job he did. Spend the rest of your life livin’ by somebody else’s rules. Do you ever think for yourself, stiffy?
LUKE: That’s uncalled for.
HAL: No it isn’t. No, I think it’s just what the doctor ordered. (HAL gets up to leave, scotch in hand. The other characters freeze. Spotlight up DSR. HAL meets WRITER DSR. They are jovial together, paling around. HAL pours WRITER a scotch and they continue like old friends reunited. They both sit on the edge of the stage, grinning, quiet and contemplative. A long moment passes.)
(WRITER gives no vocal confirmation; perhaps nods a little.)
HAL: It’s just that, the arthritis and what not… a little harder every day, you know.
WRITER: (After regarding him a long moment) With as sauced up as you are all the time, I doubt you feel a thing.
(Spotlight off. EXIT HAL DSR. Characters unfrozen. LUKE sits in contemplation.)
EMILY: He can be so hard sometimes.
LUKE: … Yeah. Look, Em… Whatever I feel about- I don’t even know anymore- but whatever I feel, I really loved your father. And that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m around.
EMILY: … Is it the only reason?
(LUKE looks at her. CS Lights down. Spotlight up DCS. LUKE meets WRITER DCS.)
LUKE: It would’ve been wrong to tell her.
LUKE: Her father just died.
LUKE: I loved him.
WRITER: Of course.
LUKE: I love her.
LUKE: I follow the rules. I’m a good person. I deserve her.
WRITER: Assuming that there are rules, and that you’re a good person for following them. And that ‘deserve’ means moral currency.
LUKE: It’s like stumbling in a dark room-
WRITER: I’ve heard this one-
LUKE: And not knowing how to get through, or what is right. But it’s also like you’re being watched. Maybe one pair of eyes, maybe a thousand.
WRITER: (Looking at the audience) I know the feeling. (WRITER takes LUKE by the shoulders and points him toward DSL. LUKE wanders off as though in a fog. EXIT LUKE DSL. Spotlight down DSC. Spotlight up DSR. EMILY is in the kitchen, busying herself again. WRITER edges into the light).
WRITER: (watching EMILY) It’s just the way some people work through things, I guess. Maybe pain is some shaping force. Maybe some people get pushed on and molded, perhaps into something finer than they were before. But sometimes… it just seems so arbitrary. (EMILY mimes opening the refridgerator and taking out the McDonald’s bag). Some sacrificial lamb toward the idea of beauty. Because there’s a kind of beauty to pain. (After contemplating the food, EMILY discards it without a single bite. EXIT DSR EMILY. WRITER steps fully into spotlight). She can’t know that. But I do. We do. Sometimes it's more than I can bear. This streak of cruelty about our lives is the hard stuff diamonds are forged of. But even still, even if I am just a writer, probably a writer without a writer, and it’s all invention…
WRITER: I’m so sorry, Em.