Prose Header

What We Do Together

by Charles C. Cole

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Installment 4

“I’m Not a Complete Idiot”

Scene 6: Week Two, Wednesday

The rec room. DEEGAN sits on the floor with his eyes closed. SID sits nearby.

DEEGAN: I don’t see the point. Is this supposed to turn me into a high school ninja?

SID: You’ve heard of a wireless headset.

DEEGAN: Of course. And a wireless mouse and a wireless printer.

SID: Well, this is so powerful it doesn’t need batteries or the Internet, and you can do it anywhere.

DEEGAN: Anywhere?

SID: You can do it alone in your room if you want.

DEEGAN (Snickers.)

SID: Deegan! Get your hands out of the gutter.

DEEGAN: I’m a teen-aged boy; I live in the gutter.

SID: Let’s pretend you live in a glass fishbowl, without hands, and everyone can see you all the time.

DEEGAN (Pretends to choke.)

SID: Are you all right?

DEEGAN: I don’t have hands and I’m in a fishbowl.

SID: I didn’t say there was water!

DEEGAN: No water: right. Please don’t start talking about using my imagination because I’ve got original stories at home where raindrops turn into cats and dogs literally, and another where a cursed boy and girl accidentally swap bodies while making love. I’m plenty imaginative.

SID: I know, even when you don’t need to be. When you look at me, what do you see?

DEEGAN (Looks.)

SID: Not now. Close your eyes.

DEEGAN: Honestly? Are we still pretending honesty’s the best policy or has that gotten old?

SID: Tempered honesty. Honesty to inform, not to hurt or cut someone down in their tracks.

DEEGAN: Okay. Honestly, I see a real old guy who has to live in a group home because he can’t take care of himself anymore.

SID: That’s not who I am.

DEEGAN: That’s a crock. You’re here, aren’t you?

SID: Because I got tired of mowing the lawn and painting the house and snowblowing the driveway. I can still do those things if I want to, but when you don’t have a lot of time left, you want to enjoy the time you have. Home maintenance was always a necessary evil for me.

DEEGAN: Snowblowing? Wait, are you talking power tools? I wish we had a snowblower. Have you ever used a chainsaw or a tablesaw? The only thing I’ve ever used with a motor was a vacuum cleaner and I felt like my mom’s maid. (Getting excited.) They tell me in woodshop, there’s this cool saw where you can—

SID: Focus. Did you know I once bowled a three hundred.

DEEGAN: That’s good, isn’t it? It sounds good.

SID: It’s a perfect game.

DEEGAN: Fucking A! High five. So, obviously, this was when you were my age, right?

SID: No, I was fifty-nine.

DEEGAN: Geez, that’s older than my mom.

SID: Exactly. Thank you. Now open your eyes.

DEEGAN (Opens eyes.)

SID: The point I’m trying to make is: sometimes you use your imagination when you don’t need to. You see what you want to see. Yes, I’m old, but I haven’t always been old. And when exactly did I become old, for you?

DEEGAN: I don’t know, at sixty. I guess then.

SID: “Then?” You think it happened all at once, like that, (snaps fingers) like a curtain dropping down?

DEEGAN: I guess.

SID: No! Getting old is the marathon of marathons. Hell, there shouldn’t even be a thing called “getting old,” it’s just called “living life.”

DEEGAN: Should I be writing this stuff down, because I’m never going to remember everything.

SID: You look at me, and I feel like you see so much less than what I see. It sounds like you see someone coming apart at the seams who’s quit the world, but I see someone who’s lived a full life and has earned the right to take a rest, to pass the baton on to someone else.

DEEGAN: Isn’t that a relay race?

SID: Well, it’s that, too.

DEEGAN: Okay, but what about me? What do you see when you look at me?

SID: What do you see?

DEEGAN: Fine. You want me to go first, I’ll go first. I see a kid who can’t drive, who doesn’t have any money to live on his own, who has to do what other people say because he’s this far (hands apart “fishing tale” gesture) from being an adult and restless as hell.

SID: Well, I see a boy who loves his mother and wants to the right thing, but sometimes gets impatient looking for a shortcut. He doesn’t have any idea why he wants to be grown up, except that he thinks it’s a better world.

DEEGAN: Because it is.

SID: Deegan, what did your dad do for a living? Can I ask?

DEEGAN: You can ask and I’m not going to freak out this time, but I’m going to have to answer after I go to the bathroom, which by the way is code for “smoke a butt.” I’ll be right back.

NORMAN (Enters from the opposite side of the stage.)

NORMAN: Was that the kid? I just saw his back. I’m going bored out of my mind. When do I get to meet him?

SID: How about tomorrow? I just got him convinced that we’re all sweet old men, thoughtful and grandfatherly. Let him enjoy the moment before you come plowing in like a bulldozer in a china shop. I’m sorry. Where’ve you been keeping yourself?

NORMAN: Today? Elaine’s room, off and on. (Smirking.) Remember when you told me the kid had been looking under her bed for a secret stash?

SID: She didn’t have anything, did she? Did she?

NORMAN: No, but he did. I think it’s a smoke bomb. I don’t know for sure: I haven’t seen one in a long time. Anyway, it must have been a dud.

SID: You lit it?

NORMAN: The temptation was killing me.

SID: Not inside!

NORMAN: No, I’m not a complete idiot: outside. I swear the hair went up on the back of my neck and my palms got all sweaty, like when I was pranking one of the guys in junior high. Crazy times!

SID: You’re a moron. This is why I kept you away from him. What did you do with it?

NORMAN: I threw it away, in the dumpster.

(Approaching fire engine sirens.)

NORMAN: You don’t think that’s because of me, do you? It was a dud! Or was it? Oh my God! It’s kind of funny. It’s a little funny. (Hitting home.) Mrs. Kingsley’s going to kill me. I hate this! We can say the kid did it.

SID: That’s just what he needs. Get out of here while I think of something.

ESTHER: (From off-stage.) Deegan! I know it was you!

NORMAN: You’re not going to rat me out? Sid, I need you, man. I’m on the outs with her already. She’d kick me out over this, I know she would.

SID: Norm, I’m not going to tell “the coppers.” I will figure this out. Go to your room and don’t cause any other trouble.

NORMAN: I thought it was a dud! (Insulted) Whatever you say, “Dad.” (EXITS.)

ESTHER: (Entering from the opposite side.) Where is he?

SID: Who?

ESTHER: Deegan.

SID: He went to the bathroom. He should be right back.

ESTHER: How convenient. I thought you were watching him.

SID: I was. I am. Is something wrong?

ESTHER: (Not pleased.) No, nothing at all.

SID: I can tell him you’re looking for him, send him back up to the office.

ESTHER: I’ll wait, if it’s all right with you.

SID: Of course. Is it about the fire engines?

ESTHER: You hear them, too. Everyone hears them! I wanted it to be my imagination.

DEEGAN: (Hyper.) Someone talking about (Exaggerating.) imagination? I didn’t think anything could make you leave your office.

BRYAN: (Sniffing.) Where’ve you been?

DEEGAN: Bathroom. You can feel my hands: they’re still wet from washing them. And yes, I used soap: “A Touch of Lilac.” What’s up?

ESTHER: You’re sure you weren’t washing the smell of smoke off them?

DEEGAN: (Defensive.) No, why? (Forced humor.) Are my clothes on fire? (To SID.) How’s that for funny?

ESTHER: Do you hear those sirens?

DEEGAN: They sound pretty close.

ESTHER: That’s because they’re here!

DEEGAN: You lose another resident? Sorry, Mom. That just sucks. I don’t know how you get used to it.

ESTHER: We don’t use fire engines for that; there’s no hurry when they’re already dead. You couldn’t have just a little common sense? (Sharply.) Someone dropped a smoke bomb in the dumpster.

DEEGAN: Huh. Well, it wasn’t me; I’ve been right here with Sid, like, all day. (To SID.) Tell her before she has me arrested.

SID: (“In his head,” so more subdued than natural.) It’s true. All day.

ESTHER: Except right now. And you smell like smoke.

DEEGAN: I went to the bathroom, I told you. That’s not smoke; it’s methane gas. Ba-dum-bump. (Pretends to hit a snare drum.)

ESTHER: If I find you had something to do with this...

DEEGAN: Mom, I didn’t do anything! I haven’t touched a smoke bomb since... Oh, crap! Somebody probably found it! That’s the only thing that makes sense.

ESTHER: Found what?! What are you saying?

DEEGAN: A spare. I brought a spare.

ESTHER: Here?! Why here?

DEEGAN: I bought two. One was a backup in case I got caught in the act and they took it away. I was going to outsmart ’em, you know? But I didn’t use it. I hid it in Elaine’s room.

ESTHER: Why would you do that?

DEEGAN: I figured you wouldn’t want in the house. Duh. Let me go check. I’ll be right back.

ESTHER: Don’t you go anywhere!

DEEGAN: If it’s not there, then we know someone found it.

ESTHER: Someone?

DEEGAN: I didn’t do it. Why would I have done it?

ESTHER: Why did you do it the first time?

DEEGAN: I’m not gonna stand here and be accused of something I didn’t do.

ESTHER: You realize how much trouble you’re in? They’re not going to want you back at school after this. They’ll probably send you to Long Creek and throw away the key.

DEEGAN: Stop talking! I’m going home before you embarrass yourself.

ESTHER: No, you’re not.

DEEGAN: Yes, I am.

ESTHER: How are you going to get there, teleport?

DEEGAN: I don’t care. I’ll walk. Or hitchhike, if I have to.

ESTHER: That’s crazy! And dangerous. And straight out of the Deegan Kingsley playbook.

DEEGAN: You watch, you’re going to find out it wasn’t me and you’re gonna hate yourself for accusing me.

ESTHER: Is that so?

DEEGAN: I had nothing to do with it!

ESTHER: Then you won’t mind talking to the fire marshal outside.

DEEGAN: I’m not doing it. They’ll take me away and ask questions later. You know they will. Sid, tell her it wasn’t me!

SID: It wasn’t him.

DEEGAN: A little more conviction, Sid, if you don’t mind. You’re all that stands between me and life behind bars.

ESTHER: This is between you and me. It has nothing to do with Sid.

DEEGAN: The hell it doesn’t. You set me up with him because you look up to him or something. So, if you’re not going to listen to me, listen to the man.

SID: Mrs. Kingsley, I understand how agitated you must feel.

DEEGAN: Screw that! (To SID.) Defend me! You know it wasn’t me.

SID: Deegan, you brought a smoke bomb here and you threatened to use it. I should have told your mother, but I didn’t.

ESTHER: You threatened to use it?

DEEGAN: I was trying to make a point. But I didn’t light it. Not then. Not now.

SID: The point is this wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t brought it. And I share the blame. Let me do this my way.

DEEGAN: What does that even me? Your way. I thought you were on my side! (To ESTHER.) I told you this wasn’t going to work. His kind and my kind are never going to see things the same way. I’m out of here. (EXITS.)

ESTHER: Deegan, don’t you dare!

SID: Mrs. Kingsley, there are some mitigating circumstance you need to know about.

ESTHER: Sid, now is not the time.

SID: It wasn’t him.

ESTHER: It’s nice of you to defend him, but he doesn’t deserve it.

SID: I know for a fact that it wasn’t him. I’m not defending him.

ESTHER: How? You? You did this?

SID: No, of course not, but I know who did. They’ve already confessed. It was an accident.

ESTHER: But why?

SID: Temptation. Curiosity. Stupidity. I promised I wouldn’t “rat them out.”

ESTHER: It really wasn’t Deegan?

SID: Not this time. You have my word, which is supposed to be worth something, right?

ESTHER: But it was a smoke bomb, I know it.

SID: I’m afraid so. He must have thought it was safely hidden.

ESTHER: What do I do?

SID: Forget it happened.

ESTHER: Forget? Easier said than done. He’s going to be so mad at me.

SID: (Trying.) Tell him, now you’re even. He made a mistake, you made a mistake.

ESTHER: I wish you’d spoken up.

SID: I did.

ESTHER: So who was it?

SID: I promised.

ESTHER: (Defensive.) I’m not a bad guy, Sid. I’m not that scary. Just tell me.

SID: Let’s just say you’d make a great sheriff in one of those old frontier towns.

ESTHER: I like things orderly. Is that a crime? We’re going to get through this, aren’t we?

SID: Of course we are. He’s okay. Just a little confused and hurt.

ESTHER: Thank you for spending time with him. I’ll talk to him - but I’ll be damned if I’m going to apologize; he never has. (Remembering.) I guess I should go have a talk with the fire marshal. Someone’s got to. You promise it wasn’t him.

SID: I’d bet our friendship on it. We’ll patch things up and make it all better tomorrow. Talk to me on Friday about the letter. I have a draft, but we still need to finish the week, don’t we?

ESTHER: “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Who said that?

SID: I believe it was Dr. Bruce Banner.

ESTHER: (Impressed with herself.) I got that: The Hulk. See, I’m hip. You tell Deegan I got that. I have a feeling you might see him before I do. He’s going to be avoiding me like the plague. I better leave him bus money for tomorrow; there’s no way he’s riding in with me. I’m sorry for putting you in the middle.

SID: Don’t worry about me; I’m fine. You could apologize to him; make it go away.

ESTHER: I could, but so could he. (EXITS.)

Proceed to installment 5...

Copyright © 2016 by Charles C. Cole

Home Page