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Friday, May 30, 2014

End Up Alone, Part 3

III
            I made it through work without further incident, thank God. I take the elevator to the lower level rather than the first floor after work. I figure I can exit the building through the manager parking lot and avoid Mr. It on my way out. It’ll cost me an extra half block of walking time, but it’ll be more than worth it. As I trek back up Jackson Street to Wisconsin Avenue though, I really don’t feel like going back to my car. I got to the parking garage in time for the early bird parking special, so I’ll pay the same rate whether I leave now or in an hour. As long as I’m not there overnight, I’ll still pay the same.
            I turn toward Lake Michigan when I hit the intersection. I haven’t had a good walk over winter and I can’t turn down the first nice day of the year. I’m not used to walking downtown and I don’t really have a plan, I just really want to find a park bench and look out at the lake.
[Placeholder: I want to add description of the narrator’s walk and events, but I haven’t quite conceived of them yet.]
            Nearly three miles later I end up at Veteran’s Park. I find the least vandalized park bench and take a seat. The lake doesn’t give much of a show, but I take in the tranquility of the scene. It’s starting to get dark and a little cooler. I kind of wish I had a better jacket. One’s lying in the backseat of my car; maybe I should have stopped there first to grab it before taking my walk. For now I’ll endure the cold. It’s too soon to walk back. There’s a little bit of an ache in my legs from the winter disuse. The feeling offsets the calm of the lake, but I don’t mind it much. Then there’s a disturbance on the bike trail behind me.
            “Hey, hey,” a man’s voice yells. I look behind me and see a young Milwaukee Police Department cop running toward a homeless man walking the trail. I can’t really make out the cop’s features except to tell that he’s young, but the homeless man is an older black man in an olive green stained jacket and jeans frayed at the cuffs. His clothes seem ratty and tattered, but he wears boots that look like they’ve recently been spit shined; I can see that even from my vantage point. “Every day I see you out here, man,” the cop says. He’s stopped running and the homeless man has turned to face him. “You need to get to a shelter or something. I’m getting tired of seeing you out here, and I’m sure I ain’t the only one.”
            “Yes sir,” the homeless man says.
            “Don’t just yessir me, man,” the cop says. “You need to get out of here and stay out of here, you hear me?”
            “Yes sir,” the homeless man says.
            “Now I’m serious,” the cop says. “I don’t want to see you on my beat no more.”
            “What are you doing?” a third voice says loudly from down the trail. I look down there and see another cop lumbering down the trail. This cop is older and looks out of breath. As he gets closer, he looks like he’s been walking the beat for half his life. Maybe he’s had one or two too many donuts before taking his shift this evening.
            “Seriously,” the first cop says, “if I see you down here again, me and you are going round and round. I ain’t going to be so nice”
            “Yes sir,” the homeless man says.
            “So what you gonna do now?” the cop asked.
            “I’m going to find some shelter, on the double,” the homeless man says.
            “That’s right,” the cop says. “And don’t let me catch you on my beat again.”
            The homeless man walks away, moving faster than he was previously. The older cop catches up to the young cop.
            “What’s wrong with you?” the older cop asks through a graying walrus mustache. “That the kind of shit they teaching you in the academy these days.”
            “We can’t just let these dudes...” the younger cop begins.
            “What you know about that guy?” the older cop interrupts. When the younger cop doesn’t respond he says, “Jack shit, that’s what. He’s got as much of a right to this park as anyone else walking around here.”
            “But he’s always...” the younger cop says.
            “Just walking around minding his own business,” the older cop interrupts for a second time. “Now if you see him again, you aren’t going to fuck with him, you got that?”
            The younger cop nods, looking defeated.
            “Now you go on,” the older cop says. “Look for real shit, I need to catch my breath.”
            The younger cop looks at him ruefully and then walks up the bike lane.
            Having heard the exchange, I feel there’s a story the older cop isn’t telling his partner. I know I probably shouldn’t get involved, but my curiosity gets the best of me. “Officer?” I call.
            I can’t quite see it, but I can feel the cop roll his eyes as he walks toward me. He rounds the bench and looks at me. “How can I help you?”
            “What’s the deal?” I ask. “Your partner was just warding off another homeless person, isn’t that a good thing?”
            “Do you mind if I have a seat?” the cop asks gesturing to the bench.
            Immediately I regret calling him over. “Sure,” I say.
            “Thanks,” he says as he takes a seat. There’s a coffee stain on his MPD jacket, and he’s still breathing heavy. He takes off his MPD hat and wipes his brow. He’s sweating like a stuck pig even though the temp is falling to the low forties from what I can tell. His gray and black flecked hair is starting to fall below his ears; it’s probably time to get a cut by police standards. “It’s tough work, dealing with a rookie, but my last partner retired a week ago and this new guy is all we got. Doesn’t have a sense of the beat yet.”
            “You seem to know more about that homeless man than he did though,” I say. “What didn’t you tell him?”
            The older cop laughs. His laugh is devoid of humor, the kind of laugh that tells you he’s been through it, or that he knows the homeless person has. “Yep, can’t teach a rookie everything they need to learn for themselves,” he says. “I’ve dealt with Mike Winters quite a bit. A couple of years ago we get a call at the precinct that his daughter Alyssa was looking for him. We got a description of him, and it matched the guy you just saw duckin’ out of here. I was on shift and working this beat back then, so I was tasked with trying to find him only he hadn’t been this way for quite a while.
            “We ran him through the database, and found out that he did indeed have a home. Not just a home, he had an apartment on the goddamn Milwaukee River. Anyway, I went up there and couldn’t catch him. I told the landlord the deal and he was a peach and let me in. The place was immaculate; almost looked like it wasn’t lived in at all. It was a studio, but a huge studio. His bed was perfect, military hospital corners. You could bounce quarters off the sheets. He had an entertainment center with a big screen TV, bookshelves, and a dresser all made of real wood. Maple, I think.
            “Anyway, the catcher was the stack of checks sitting on his dresser.”
            “Checks?” I asked.
            “Yeah,” he said. “All from the Department of Defense. All uncashed. I still had nothing to go on though. No clue where to find him. So I put out an All-Points Bulletin for him. It didn’t take long though, I finally saw him walking through the park one day. I got him and brought him in. Took me a while to get the full story, and I couldn’t get it all from him, but it turns out his wife died a few years back. They had plans of traveling around the world off of his retirement checks.”
            “The checks you found were retirement checks?” I asked.
            “Yeah,” he said. “He did a couple of tours in Vietnam, served in the Marine Corp for nearly 40 years. Got out as a Gunnery Sergeant. Those checks were his retirement checks from the Corp. After his wife died he wanted none of it though. He got rid of a lot of shit and moved into a studio apartment. Then he just started wandering the streets. It got to the point that he would practically be homeless and only cash his checks to pay his rent. The only times he would clean up was when he know his daughter was coming to town. That time he just forgot to check in with her.”
            “Does she know any of this?” I asked.
            “Nope,” he said. “He didn’t want her to know about it, so no one told her. I don’t know what he told her. He’s a good guy and deserves to be treated like one; so I do my part to make sure it happens that way. I figure there are things my new partner doesn’t need to know just yet though. He’s still green and needs to learn a badge isn’t a right to fuck with people.”
            I sat stunned for a few minutes. I wasn’t sure how to process the story I just heard. “Damn, that’s...” but the words were lost to me. I couldn’t find what to say.
            “Yeah, it is,” he replies, knowing what I meant. We sit there in silence mulling over the story. Finally, he says, “Well, have a good night. Try not to stay out here too late. We’ll be further on up the park, so there’s not telling if we’ll be in the area to help if you need it.”

            “Yeah,” I say, “I’ll keep that in mind.” The cop gets up from the bench and walks up the bike lane. I feel numb.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

End Up Alone, Part 2

II
            I pull into the parking garage at the corner of Mason and Jefferson. Signs are plastered all over the yellow ticketing kiosks saying the parking rates are increasing effective next week. I tap a button in the center of the kiosk; it spits out a ticket and the yellow stop bar in front of me rises. I take the ticket and drive up the ramp.
            There’s not a spot open in this concrete mess until I reach the fourth level. All the spaces on the first three levels are full, even the handicap spaces. I don’t reach this one open spot until I’m almost at the fifth level. They’re definitely not having any problems pack this place in, and the signs didn’t say anything about renovations. I’ll just assume this is a case of greedy management.
            The guy who parked next to this spot parked like a sausage. When I finally get into the spot with no damage to my car, no easy feat, I consider keying the Mercedes that parked like an idiot. Mercedes, huh? No wonder they don’t feel bad about jacking the prices. I’ll leave the Mercedes alone. I get out of my car very carefully, and reach back in to grab my audiobook of Stephen King’s It.
            I take the elevator down to the first floor and exit the building onto Jefferson Street. As I cross Mason I see a fat dirty gray seagull standing next to the Ward’s House of Prime party shuttle in a parking lot outside Bank Mutual. He ruffles his feathers at me. I don’t think he can fly. “Don’t worry, I’m not flying anywhere either,” I tell him. He waddles away. I take a left on Wisconsin Ave and shortly I’m in the arms of work.
            I walk through the glass turnstile into the modest lobby. A framed aerial photograph of downtown Milwaukee and a contemporary painting hang on the dark blue wall opposite the lobby entrance on either side of the elevators. An elderly Native American man in a blue suit sits behind a desk framed by two rubber tree plants next to the elevators. His face reminds me of the Indian chief with the tear in those anti-littering commercials from the ‘70’s. I pull a security badge out of my pocket and flash it at him. He nods. I hit the button on the elevator and watch for the overhead notification light to flash on.
            “You listen to audiobooks?” the security guard asks, pointing to my copy of It.
            “Yeah,” I say, “with school in, I don’t really get a chance to read what I want, so I listen when I can.”
            “I listen to books too,” he says.
            “Oh cool, what are you listening to now?” I ask, trying to be polite.
            He holds up a copy of Awaken the Giant Within. I think my polite smile is faltering a little. “Just some Tony Robbins,” he says. The response is so nonchalant that I get the impression he thinks everyone listens to Tony Robbins, or at least should. This elevator is taking forever.
            “Oh nice,” I say. I try to keep up the pretense, but I think my facade is falling. “I’m listening to Stephen King’s It.”
            “How do you like It so far?” There’s a big grin on his face. He found the funniest joke in the universe.
            “Just starting It today,” I say. Mercifully, the elevator doors open. I hadn’t been watching the light.
            “Well, let me know how It goes,” he says. He looks fit to burst.
            “Will do,” I say as I enter the elevator. I hit the button for the second floor and the “Close Doors” button.
            There’s a reason I try to avoid talking to people at work. During the semester I’m here three days a week and I have to see these people when I’m here. In small doses they’re perfectly pleasant people. I don’t need them dispelling my fantasy image of them by giving them more of my time in this building. I used to think that security guard was a decent fellow. Now I can’t unlive that horrid experience.
            I step out of the elevator on the second floor into a sea of cubicles. Quickly, I make my way to my cubicle before more human contact makes me too ill to work the rest of the day. I already don’t feel like staying here, but if I left early I’d still have to pay full price at the parking garage.

            I sit down in the seat at my desk and turn my computer on. There’s a multicolored mini-slinky next to the monitor on my desk; I pick it up and juggle it a little. It’s like my totem. I put the slinky down and I reach into a drawer and pull out a set of ear buds and plug them into the computer’s headphone jack. I open the CD tray and pop in the first disc of It.

Monday, May 26, 2014

End Up Alone, Part 1

I
            The cool breeze rushes through the window of my ’97 Dodge Neon, ushering in the clean refreshing scent of post-rain air from earlier this morning as I drive down Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s mid-March in Milwaukee, surprisingly warm enough to open the car windows, but still cold enough to warrant the “Go Panthers” hoodie I bought from the campus merch shop a week or so ago. The sun plays peekaboo through the clouds done pissing rain and ready to move on and the branches of trees pretending to give shelter to the road I’m driving on.
            I look down at my speedometer: 25 MPH. The speed limit is 30. The Sunfire in front of me has a bumper sticker on its back left bumper that reads “You Just Got Passed By A Girl!” I want to shout at her, “You ain’t passin’ no one at this speed, honey!” I want to pass her myself, but as we pass The Pet Outpost, I realize my turn is only a block away.
            The turn down North Hollywood Avenue is marked by a change from the light red brick apartment complexes of Milwaukee to the beautiful spacious homes of Whitefish Bay. I hate driving through here. It’s like a commercial for everything you could ever want but can never have.
            As I pass by Fairmount Avenue I see a beautiful two story brown brick home that, even though it sits on less than an acre of land, could still be described as sprawling. On the corner of Henry Clay, two voluptuous women in loose tanks and yoga pants stand in front of $200 strollers that hold their cute little Aryan babies. Suburbia at its finest! I like to think that the women are discussing their affairs with their husbands’ business partners; it helps break up the monotony of their perfection.
            A couple of blocks down I reach the cream colored two story villa of my Armenian landlord. I’m two weeks late on rent, and I’ve been dodging him for the last week and a half. Of course, if he didn’t over-inflate the cost of his shitty Riverwest properties I might be on time with my rent regularly. Looking up at his beautiful house as I drop the rent check in the mailbox I think he could easily afford for me to be a few days late on the rent.
            I drive back the way I came on North Hollywood and see the two Scandinavian broads still chatting it up on the corner of Henry Clay. I’m fairly certain they go jogging, running or walking every morning to regain the bodies they had when they were head cheerleaders at Hot Body High. The impulse to yell, “It ain’t happenin’, ladies,” comes and goes as I hear a single line from the song playing on the radio: “Round and round my head she goes/ In the good dreams though she wears no clothes.” Isn’t that the truth? I think to myself.
            I reach Santa Monica and hang a left. Once again I’m stuck behind some porker doing twenty-five. No, wait, they’re doing twenty. It appears to be an old lady who most likely can’t see above the steering wheel of her equally old Buick station wagon. Luckily, I’m distracted with the thought of whether to go to work or go home.

            It’s the first nice day of the year; I shouldn’t be subjected to sitting at work all day. On a day like this if I’m going to be indoors I should be at home. I’ll wait till I reach Capitol Drive before I make a decision. We’ll see which way the winds take me.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Story Behind "Dead by Midnight"

I wrote this version of this story for my Playwriting class in 2012, but the seeds for the story existed long, long, long before that.

Around 2002 I really started to get into Quentin Tarantino films. The character of Demetrius was designed as the son of Marcellus Wallace. I didn’t make it explicit, and since it was set in the Midwest that wouldn’t hold up. That’s okay, though; the story had more cathartic needs for my writing. Although concepts like dialogue, style, method, etc. were inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s films at the time (Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers, Four Rooms, and From Dusk Till Dawn).

The actual content of the story was inspired by my roommate. I don’t want to mention names, but he was a moocher to the extreme. He was a bartender at a bar I frequented when I was 19 and 20 when I was in a band called Tenfold. I didn’t come to the bar with the band often, but that’s how people in the area new me. This guy was also a singer, a huge Jim Morrison revivalist. He was a decent musician, but he was so much of an anti-materialist that he wouldn’t pay a dime for rent.

We’re still quasi-friends but he was the meaning behind Chad. I’ve become much more forgiving since then, but at the time I was pissed off that he lived with me but claimed he never had the money to pay the rent. I really wanted to reenact retribution, but I knew I couldn’t do it in the physical sense (although I did know several biker clubs in the area who did not like him as well and would have been happy to do something about it, and as a singer in a metal band I was friends with them all; hence the bikers in the play).

I originally planned the concept as a film shot in real time, similar to High Noon. I wanted to come up with a cheap concept that I could shoot on little to no money. It was also meant to tie into two other films that I was scripting: Wisconsin Death Trap and The World Revolves Around Me. Being a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, I wanted to do the same kind of cinematic world building that they engaged in. I wouldn’t say that I’ve completely abandoned the idea, but it’s not foremost in my mind like it once was. (The three film concept was actually going to form the name of a production company I was considering: Dead World Trap Productions. I still like the name!)

The original concept took place over two hours. Originally, it was going to be Dead by Noon, but that would be too expensive. Then I figured changing it to Dead by Midnight would work better for cost. Wisconsin Death Trap was the film I was most interested in making, and would help me in making Dead by Midnight. My avenues for making Wisconsin Death Trap kind of dried up though, so I was just left with several ideas and nowhere to go and no way to make them.

When taking my Playwriting class, I was having a hard time coming up with a one-act play. I decided to take the concept of Dead by Midnight and use it for my one-act. When I was working on the screenplay the part that was the hardest was coming up with the material that happened between the first and final acts. By using the play ideal I could imply what happened in the first and final act and just show those two acts.


I really like how this idea turned out, but I do feel at least one revision is needed. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dead by Midnight, Part 2

Scene Two

Chad sits on the sofa with a beer between his legs. He is sleeping. On the coffee table there are assorted beer bottles and a half empty bottle of whiskey. On the floor of the stage are broken pieces of a smashed cell phone strewn around. Demetrius, followed by the two bikers, enter the room. Demetrius smiles. He prepares to take his former seat on the recliner.

Demetrius – (To one of the bikers) Wake ‘em up.

The biker walks over to Chad and slaps him. Chad jumps and stares wildly around the room before his eyes land on Demetrius. He looks back at the clock and then to Demetrius.

Chad – I still have some time.

Demetrius – If you still need time then you too late son. You ain’t left the house since I been here, so’s I think you ain’t takin’ this serious-like.

Chad – What the fuck was I supposed to do? I had nowhere to go, nothing I could have done! I was fucked from the start!

Demetrius – I knew you wasn’t the enterprisin’ type, but I thought you might still got self-preservation somewhere in there.

Chad – I guess not.

Demetrius – (Looks around) Where your butterfly at? She done left you too, huh.

Chad – That was you.

Demetrius – How you figure?

Chad – You called me out about the brakes!

Demetrius – So the brakes was fine! Son of a bitch, I knew it from the moment you ran that stop sign! So you ain’t tell her the truth neither?

Chad – I couldn’t, she would have left me before now.

Demetrius – So you blamin’ me for you fibbin’ to your old lady?

Chad – You could have just taken me to court or something, you didn’t need to show up here.

Demetrius – I ain’t from ‘round here. My pops figured the best way for me to get my teeth cut was to go off on my own, take responsibility, and grow the family business. Family business bein’ scratchin’ someone else’s back so they gots to scratch yours. For my shit to work, everyone’s got to take responsibility for theyselves though. Sounds to me like you someone who don’t know much about that.

Chad – Listen, it was an accident, I can try …

Demetrius – That was no accident. Accident implies that there is no fault. You was at fault, pure and simple. What was you doin’ anyway?

Chad – Smokin’ a joint.

Demetrius – You dropped that shit didn’t you?

Chad nods.

Demetrius – (Laughs) Damn! Wish you would have saved that shit now, huh!

Chad – I guess. Look, I’ll do whatever I can to pay you back, I just can’t take care of it right this second.

Demetrius – You had two months to reach out to me nigga! I ain’t heard boo from you for two months! Now you want to work out somethin’. Naw, it don’t work like that. See, I know you, I know your type. Unless someone backs you into a corner there ain’t nothin’ you gonna do to rectify the problem. You know Greg Stevenson?

Chad – Yeah, but how …

Demetrius – Used to be your best friend, right? Cat told me you owe him fifteen hundred he lent you to buy your car. What about your ex, Chelsie Barnard?

Chad – Where the fuck …

Demetrius – That broad couldn’t didn’t know how many times she bailed your ass out on rent, electric, or cable before she dropped you like an Acme anvil. Then there’s your old roomy, Andrew Peer. Dude covered the rent for both of you for six months straight before he realized you ain’t gonna pay shit. Your landlord Michael Mosley had to let you stay in that apartment for four months to get a court order when you refused to leave ‘cause you was evicted for not payin’ rent. Those just the ones I remember off the top of my head.

Chad – How the fuck do you know all of that?

Demetrius – I study people, it’s what I do. I gots money, I gots means, and I gots to know who needs my help so eventually they reciprocate. I also need to who the worthless fucks is. When you smashed up my Lexus, I started asking ‘round ‘bout you. Not a single damn good word could be heard. You, dog, are a worthless fuck.

Chad – Fuck you!

Demetrius – Fuck me, huh? This ain’t ‘bout you and me no more, holmes. I ain’t got no need for your money. I call my pops and tell him some jackass totaled my car, he’ll ship me a car or transfer the cash. Naw, this is ‘bout a favor for the peeps you done fucked, I’m settling their score. Fiddy grand is what you owe them, after interest. I ain’t even countin’ whatever burden you put on your butterfly. If you had the money or the car right now, your accounts with them and me would be settled. If you put in some effort, I might have worked with you on the rest. You ain’t done nothin’ to make this better but sit here and drink your life away. You want to say fuck me cause I called you a worthless fuck, but that’s all on you nigga.

Chad – We can still work something out!

Demetrius – (Ignoring Chad’s plea) I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned my boys that been with me. You should recognize them, they bar is one of your digs.

Chad – I don’t …

Demetrius – Rocket and Rattlesnake, they club owns Outlaw Saloon. A lot of the people you fucked are regulars at their establishment. You got a tab a mile long there. Shit, I usually gotta pay these hard hitting motherfuckers for they services, but not tonight. Tonight, they said it’s they pleasure. Tonight, I ain’t even gotta do nothin’, I just planned this shit, and what happens after. They doin’ the heavy liftin’ though.

Chad – (To the bikers, on the verge of tears) Please, I will do whatever you want me to do to make this right, I swear to God!

Demetrius – You be trippin’ if you think they’s gonna talk to you right now. Naw, they’s in character. You already a corpse to them boy.

Chad – Demetrius, please, is there anything I can do? I swear, I can change I can …

Demetrius – Short of handin’ me fiddy grand, there ain’t shit you can do.

Demetrius looks at the clock and stands up.

Demetrius – (To the bikers) It’s ‘bout that time boys. You figured out who’s gonna do it?

The bikers nod.

Demetrius – (To Chad) I’m sure you heard this before, but this ain’t personal, it business. You ain’t gonna take care of your debts, you ain’t nothin’ but a burden. All there is to it. (To bikers) Try not to make too much of a mess. I got Mace comin’ by to clean up, but he’ll be pissed if he got too much work to do. When you done I’ll meet you down by Walt’s, he’ll take care of the rest.

Demetrius takes one last look at Chad and shakes his head, and exits stage right. The two bikers move into position facing Chad in front of the coffee table. One of them pulls a gun as the stage goes dark or the curtains come down. A gun shot goes off.


The End

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dead By Midnight, Part 1

Setting: Living room. A coffee table in the middle of the room, sofa behind it, recliner to the right. Decorations can be as sparse or as lush as the director and stage designer feel necessary. Stage left near the entrance to the stage is a fridge and a dining room table.

Clock on wall above the sofa should depict time of scene. Scene One starts a little before 10:00 PM, rehearsals should determine the time so that Demetrius’ arrival is right at 10:00 PM Scene Two should be timed out in rehearsals to set the clock at the beginning of the scene so that it ends just before the clock strikes midnight.

Characters

Chad: Young white man, mid to late twenties, type of guy to throw on the first thing he picks out of his closet. Average slacker type, nothing special.

Demetrius: Young black man, mid to late twenties, dresses like he’s in control. Speaks in slang that hides a deeper intelligence and cunning.

Alicia: Young white girl, mid to late twenties, lives with Chad, but looks like she’s way out of his league.

Bikers: Two bikers that follow Demetrius, dressed in leather vests with the patches of a biker club. The club is unimportant, and could be picked by the director or costume designer.













Scene One

Sounds of slight moans heard off stage left, that of a Chad and Alicia. As the moans heat up the sound of a cell phone ring tone cuts them off.

Chad – Fuck!

Alicia – Well, don’t answer it!

Chad – What if it’s important?

Alicia – I don’t know what could be so important right now. You keep sayin’ one of these days you’re gonna get me off, but I’m still not feelin’ it.

Chad – Who the fuck is this?! Hello … Who is this? … Oh, what’s up? … Yeah right! Do you want that in cash or check … Well, I know I fucked up but … Now! … What’s that going to help, can’t you just take me to court or some shit … Well, no matter what, it’s going to take time … Right now isn’t a good time … Hello? Hello? Fuck!

The sound of rustling clothes and the opening and closing of dresser drawers is heard off stage left.

Alicia – What’s going on?

Chad – Demetrius is on his way over here.

Chad enters stage left while putting on a shirt, Alicia follows shortly behind him. Chad stops by the fridge, pulls out a beer, and walks over to the couch and plops down while taking a gulp of the beer.

Alicia – Who the fuck is Demetrius?

Chad – Remember that car accident I got into a couple months back?

Alicia – (With a sense of resentment) How can I forget? I’ve been late for work how many times over the last couple months because you were using my car for god knows what.

Chad – (Ignoring Alicia’s comment) Demetrius was the owner of the other car.

Alicia – Oh. (Beat) What’d he want?

Chad – The money for his totaled Lexus.

Alicia – Wait a minute, you totaled his Lexus?

Chad – Yeah, I told you that.

Alicia – The hell you did! How did you get into that accident again? Your breaks went out, right?

Chad – Something like that,it doesn’t matter anyway. (Beat) I don’t even have the money to replace my Geo Metro let alone a Lexus. I told him that, but he said he’s on his way here, now.

Alicia – What for?

Chad – I don’t know, he just asked if I had his money, and when I said no he said he was on his way over.

Alicia – How does he know where you live?

Chad – I don’t know, police report, maybe. I wouldn’t put anything past him though, this dude freaks me the fuck out.

Alicia – How?

Chad – I don’t know, there’s just something about him.

Chad downs the last of his beer then goes to the fridge to grab another one.

Alicia – What do you think he’s going to do?

Chad – No clue, I’ll be freaked out if he walks in and starts quoting Ezekiel 25:17 though.

Alicia – Maybe he just wants to freak you out a little bit, some pressure on you. He could even have court papers and just wants to give them to you in person.

Chad – I guess it’s possible, but I think there’s got to be more to it than …

A knock can be heard coming from stage rightChad and Alicia look at each other for a minute in shock before Chad goes just off stage right to answer the door.
Chad – Umm, hi Demetrius …

Demetrius enters the living room followed by the two bikers. He stops just inside the door and looks at Alicia.

Demetrius – God damn, Chad, this your old lady?

Chad – (Unsure how to respond) Yeah, that’s my girlfriend Alicia.

Demetrius – Whew boy, ain’t seen that shit comin’, that’s some fine piece of work you got there.

Demetrius takes a seat in the recliner, while Chad sits back down on the sofa.

Demetrius – You gonna offer your guests somethin’ to drink, or should we get it ourselves? If so, I’ll take a beer. (Looking at the bikers) You cats want somethin’?

The bikers shake their heads no.

Demetrius – One beer then.

Chad – (Looks to Alicia) Do you mind getting Demetrius a beer?

Alicia rolls her eyes and goes to the kitchen and gets a beer and slams it on the coffee table in front of Demetrius. Demetrius smiles at her as he opens the beer.

Demetrius – Such hospitality from the lady of the house!

Chad – How did you get into the apartment complex? I thought I was going to have to buzz you in?

Demetrius – (Beat) I get it, you think I’m some hard hittin’ nigga bustin’ my way in here like a coked up bitch lookin’ for money for my next score.

Chad – That’s not …

Demetrius – Oh, so you think these cats is some mindless Hell’s Angels thugs who be breakin’ down doors and shit.

Chad – No, I didn’t mean …
Demetrius – You had to be thinkin’ somethin’, and I sure as hell don’t like whatever you implyin’ …

Alicia – Can you just get on with whatever you came here for?

Demetrius stares at her long and hard.

Demetrius – Chad, I recommend you shut up your caged butterfly before I do it for you, it would be a shame to fuck up somethin’ so beautiful.

Alicia – What do you mean: caged butterfly?

Demetrius – What do a caged butterfly do? Nothin’. It sits in a cage and looks pretty, but it ain’t goin’ nowhere. Like you, which is obvious by the company you keep. Now, shut your mouth, the men is talkin’. (Beat) How long it been since you fucked my shit up, man?

Chad – About two months.

Demetrius – I ain’t heard shit from you neither. Where you been?

Chad – I’m sorry, I’ve just been really busy.

Demetrius – I ain’t ask you if you been busy. I ask you where you been. My pops always taught me to square my shit away right away. Your parents ain’t teach you that shit?

Chad – They did, but …

Demetrius – I don’t think they did. Or you didn’t listen. You let this kind of shit lie, eventually you gonna mess with the wrong nigga.

Chad – I know, and I’ve been meaning to call you but …

Demetrius – I don’t wanna hear no buts man. You gots to take responsibility for this shit man. I been patient wit you, but fuck man. I ain’t even mentioned that bullshit about your brakes yet.

Chad – What?

Demetrius – You said your brakes gave out, but there ain’t no problem with your brakes man.

Chad – My brakes gave out, that’s the truth.

Demetrius – Dog, I know where your car was towed, I got one of my peeps to check it out. Ain’t shit wrong with your car besides the fact that it’s a pile.

Chad – I don’t know who checked it out for you, but maybe they just told you what you wanted to hear.

Demetrius – Don’t you be accusin’ my boys of lyin’ to me, I’ll add that to the shit list against you. Don’t matter none anyway, you got work son. I’m sick of waitin’ for your ass, so here’s the deal: you got to midnight tonight to get me fiddy grand or a brand new Lexus GX 460.

Chad – That’s less than two hours, how am I supposed to pull this off?

Demetrius – Do I look like a give a fuck? If you gots to rob a bank, steal a car, or whatever man. This ain’t my problem, and you ain’t the only problem I gotta deal with tonight. You just be wastin’ time fightin’ me on this, and I ain’t backin’ down and I don’t got time to waste.

Demetrius stands up and walks to the stage right entrance.

Demetrius – (To the bikers) Let’s get outta here and let this chump get to work. (Turns to Chad) And don’t get no stupid ideas neither, ‘cause no matter where you think you’ll end up by fuckin’ me, you’ll just end up worm shit six feet under.

Demetrius and the bikers exit stage right.

(Beat)

Chad – What the fuck? How am I going to come up with that kind of money by midnight?

Alicia – How did you get into that accident?

Chad – What?

Alicia – He said your breaks were fine, so how did you get into that accident?

Chad – Demetrius was just trying to get in my head! I’m sure he was just trying to rattle both of us.

Alicia – He seems like a lot of things, but a liar isn’t one of them. You on the other hand.

Chad – What’s that supposed to mean?

Alicia – That means this wouldn’t be the first time that you’ve lied to me.

Chad – So a stranger comes into our home accuses me of lying and you’re automatically going to believe him?

Alicia – What does he have to lie about? You owe him, he has no reason to lie to you! The truth, Chad!

Chad huffs and puffs before finally looking at the ground in defeat.

Chad – I had been at Stephen’s, we had been smokin’ out. He gave me a joint when I left and I was tokin’ in the car. I dropped my roach and when I bent down to pick it up I didn’t see the stop sign.

(Beat)

Alicia – You are un-fucking-believable, you know that!

Alicia exits stage left and re-enters with an overnight bag. As she speaks she exits and re-enters with clothes and other things needed when staying away from home.

Alicia – When we first started dating you said that you were going to quit that shit. Here we are, you lost your car for it, you’ve almost cost me my job, and now it might just cost you your life. Was it worth it, Chad? Was it fucking worth it? Fuck, he could have just killed us both because you’re a selfish fucking prick! I’m done, you can clean up your own mess.

Chad – But I need you.

Alicia – Of course, you do. You needed me when you lost your apartment. You needed me when you wrecked your car. You need me when you want food or beer or to go out and party it up. But what about when I need you? You barely pay any of your fair share around here, and you brought this bullshit in here.

Alicia grabs her overnight bag and walks stage right.

Alicia – What I don’t need is you. Your name isn’t on the lease for this apartment, so if you survive tonight I want you gone by tomorrow afternoon.

Chad – But …

Alicia – You seem to be full of buts tonight, but they aren’t gonna fly anymore. Part of me loves you, but part of me knows you’re the worst person I could have ever chosen to be with. Good luck, Chad. And lock the door when you leave.

Alicia gives Chad one last long look and exits stage right. Chad sits in contemplation for a few minutes, beer in hand. After a few minutes he drains it, sets the bottle on the coffee table, and goes to the fridge for another. As he goes back to the sofa he opens the bottle and takes a long gulp of beer. After a few more minutes of contemplation, Chad pulls a cell phone from his pocket and begins going through the contacts. After picking the right number he puts the phone to his ear.

Chad - Hey Mom … I’m doing okay … Well, I’m actually in a little bit of trouble … I know Mom … I got into a car accident a couple months ago … Aren’t you even going to ask me if I’m okay? … I don’t care if I’m calling you, but I haven’t spoken to you in months I could have been in a coma for all you know … No I don’t need you to help with hospital bills, I’m okay … Yeah, I know that’s what you just said … I’m calling because the guy I got into an accident with came by here asking for the money to replace his car by midnight tonight … Can’t you wire me some money? … No I didn’t try to set up a payment plan before now … How many times have I ever asked you to help me out in the past? … I know I haven’t called and I’m sorry, but you haven’t called me either … Please don’t do this right now I don’t have time for this … I know it’s late, but I didn’t know it was going to come to this now … I’m sorry, okay … Yeah, I’ll figure something else out … Whatever … bye.

Chad pushes the button to end the call on his phone and throws the phone down on the coffee table. He shows signs of frustration, anger, and sorrow before picking up the beer and draining it and going to get another one.


End of Scene One