Hello or Goodbye: Part One

p1020030Photo: Eternal Solitude of the Restless Mind

***I wrote this play in the fall of 2001. It was performed that year at Goucher College, under the title ‘The Lonely Roy.’ I will be posting it here in four parts.

An empty stage.

ROY, a young man in his twenties walks to center stage. He’s incredibly average, and that’s what makes him different.

ROY

I’ve got about five (scrounges through his pockets.), five dollars and ten cents to my name. Pretty much my life savings. How far can a person go…on five dollars and ten cents? I can’t even go see a movie on a Friday if I wanted too. The best I can do is stand outside of the theater and ask the exiting viewers what they thought of the movie. I’ve done that before, and it usually results in either A) they ignore me, B) they mumble “good” and keep on trucking or C) violence. Violence, a horrific blood bath. No, I’m just kidding…just joshin’ with ya. Sometimes though, I wish a violent blood bath would in sue. Get me out of here. It’d be a change, something new to worry about. And at this point, I’d take any change that comes walking down the street. I’m a big fan of change. Yet I’m also a big fan of stability and routine. I know, it doesn’t make sense. Then again, as many people might tell you, I don’t make much sense. It’s true, I don’t. I’d love to know what the hell was going inside this head of mine. I used to have an idea, but as of late, it’s sort of become somewhat…faded. It’s not like there is a lot of confusion going on in my life, no more than your Average Joe. I would say that my life is a tad bit askew. (pause) Askew…now there is a great word. I like the word askew. Recently, I’ve popped it back into my daily vocabulary. My daily vocabulary being the words that I use most often on a daily basis.

The lights go out. A few moments later they come back up. ROY is sitting on the floor.

KATHLEEN, a female in her twenties enters and approaches ROY. She’s also very average, and that what makes her beautiful.

KATHLEEN

 Excuse me, do you have the time?

 ROY

 The time?

 KATHLEEN

The time, do you have it? I’m supposed to meet my friend here and I was wondering if I am late or early.

 ROY
(standing and looking at his watch)

Two-thirty…pm.

KATHLEEN

I’m early! This is great, I’m never early. I guess my tardiness is my worse feature. Well maybe this can be taken as a sign that things are starting to look up for me.

ROY

I think that maybe you’re jumping to conclusions here. You’re early. Everyone is early once in a while.

KATHLEEN

Everyone except me! I’ve never been early, never. I guess I first realized it in first grade when my teacher, Ms. Krauss told me that I’d be late for my own funeral. Now to me that seems a bit harsh to tell a first grader. It made me start thinking about death too. Can you believe that? I was thinking about death in the first grade. Not spelling bees or recess. Death!

ROY
(disinterested)

 That’s too bad.

KATHLEEN

Oh well, works out for the best. That’s what I always say, about everything. Works out for the best. (pause) It made me a more realistic child.

ROY

Obviously.

KATHLEEN

I didn’t have to waste time dreaming about never-ending rainbows or big, beautiful meadows. I read a lot as a child. By the time I reached the third grade I was reading Shakespeare. I read Hamlet the summer before fifth grade. Nobody believed me though. They said it was a “crude attempt for attention” and sent me to the school psychiatrist. She asked me what I dream about and I told her that I dream about death. (quoting a line of Ophelia’s) “O, woe is me, T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!” Well, that wasn’t quite the answer she was expecting and they sent me to this special school for over-developed minds. More like a school for kids who were considered too dangerous for public schooling. Did you here about that cult in Missouri about two years ago? The leader of that cult went to my school. He graduated three years before me. A real smart kid. President of the band, captain of the math team, varsity lettermen, the whole nine yards. A real good-looking boy. Who would have thought that he could convince two hundred people too drink some Kool-Aid spiked with poison? Isn’t that always the case? It’s the ones that you least expect that you have to look out for.

ROY

I guess so.

KATHLEEN

My name’s Kathleen by the way. I’m sorry. Usually the first thing I do is introduce myself. What’s your name?

ROY

Roy.

KATHLEEN

Roy. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Roy before. How’s it going Roy, and what are you doing here?

ROY

I’m pondering the world and what it means…and suicide.

KATHLEEN
(ignoring the severity of the suicide comment)

I’ve considered suicide before. But each time I realize that it’s just not that original anymore. Such an easy way out of this shit hole. Not me, I’m sticking it out until the end. Some people might not want me too, but fuck ‘em. Sorry for the profanities. I usually am not a big user of the curse words, only on special occasions.

 ROY

Meeting me is a special occasion?

KATHLEEN

Meeting any new person is a special occasion.

ROY
(cautiously)

Ok.

KATHLEEN

So Roy, where are you from in the world?

ROY

New England.

KATHLEEN

No way, New England! What part?

ROY

Connecticut. Mystic, it’s on the coast.

KATHLEEN

Well, this is another first for me. I’ve never met someone from New England. Man, it must be cold up there. How cold does it get in the winter?

ROY

Pretty damn cold. Not that bad though, if you’re used to it.

KATHLEEN

I’d die in that cold weather. I was born in Pennsylvania, but my dad was in the military so we moved all over. Mostly throughout the south. Have you ever stayed on a base before? Not the most exciting of places in the world, that’s for sure.

ROY

I went to Puerto Rico when I was in high school. I went with my friend and his family. His dad was in the navy. We stayed at one of the naval bases down there. I liked it, mainly because of the water and the sun. Other than that, it was pretty boring.

KATHLEEN

Let me guess. Roosevelt Roads?

ROY
(thinks for a minute)

Yeah, that’s it.

KATHLEEN

I lived there for about two and a half years. I love it down there! So beautiful.

ROY

I had dreams of living there after I became famous and had a fortune.

KATHLEEN

You had dreams? You don’t have them anymore? Where’d they go?

ROY
(reluctantly)

I’m somewhat of a dreamer. I guess I never have really had a good, firm grip on reality.

KATHLEEN

I’m sorry Roy, but that’s terrible. The whole point of dreaming is to escape the world around you and move on to a better one.

ROY

You dream about death!

KATHLEEN

That’s exactly the point! Death fascinates me. It’s one of the last uncharted worlds. It’s like, what’s beyond door number two? You never know until you go through. Man, I love dreams.

ROY

Do you know that when you’re tripping…you’re dreaming while you are awake?

KATHLEEN

I did not know that. I’m not much of a drug user. Are you?

ROY
(looking around the stage)

 When is your friend getting here?

 KATHLEEN

In a little bit. Man, Roy, how come you have no place to sit around here? My back is starting to hurt.

ROY

Sorry. It’s not really my permanent residence. I’m not really looking to furnish the place.

KATHLEEN

I’ll be right back.

KATHLEEN disappears off stage, the same side she came on.

ROY

Who is this girl? Of all the desolate wastelands that I decided to settle down in, she comes wandering right in. I hope she’s gone soon. She talks a mile a minute. I’ve been timing her for crying out loud. She’s seriously going a mile a minute. Solidarity is a lost art.

KATHLEEN reenters, pushing a big couch.

KATHLEEN

Move it or lose it buster! (ROY moves and she places the couch center stage. She plops down on it.) This is nice. Have a seat Roy.

ROY
(sits at the other end of the couch)

Nice couch. (pause) Where’d this come from?

KATHLEEN

Tell me a story, Roy. Something with adventure, romance and a good plot. I hate mindless drivel. Where does it put us…nowhere.

ROY

I’m not that great of a storyteller.

KATHLEEN

Nonsense. Everyone can tell a story. It’s not that hard. Make one up. Let the creative juices flow!

ROY

I’ll try and make one up.

KATHLEEN

That’s what we like to hear! Class participation scores points with the teacher.

ROY

You’re the teacher?

KATHLEEN

Yup. Now, let’s hear this story.

ROY

Ok. (he thinks for a couple of moments) I can’t think of one.

KATHLEEN

Terrible Roy, just terrible. Just think of one. It’s not that hard. Make it about you, just change it a little. Everyone wants to change some little thing about his or her life, here’s your chance.

Pause as he thinks of a story.

ROY

There was a man known for his discreet insecurities who everyday would walk up and down the main street of his town…at least ten times a day. No one knew exactly why he did this, mainly because no one asked. The town’s people just stood and stared as this man, dubbed Crazy Harry, walked up and down Main Street. Well, one day, in mid-trek up Main Street, Crazy Harry stopped and turned his head ever so slightly in the direction of the his audience. He didn’t say a word, he just stared right back at those staring at him. Then, out of nowhere, he erupted into laughter. He laughed for almost twenty minutes while his audience just looked, now more confused than before. A couple of the little kids in the audience joined him laughing. The parents of these kids had no clue what to think. Were their kids becoming as crazy as Crazy Harry? This may sound crazy, but we’re talking about suburban parents, they’re afraid of everything. So, as Crazy Harry continued laughing and the parents continued worrying, the local sheriff came by and asked an audience member what was going on? The audience member said that Crazy Harry had finally lost it and he was bringing the town’s kids with him. Now, for some reason, the sheriff saw this as a reason to arrest poor Crazy Harry. It didn’t take long for Crazy Harry to be convicted and he was sentenced to life in prison. To some, this seemed like somewhat of a harsh penalty, but to most, it was simply justice and what Crazy Harry deserved. Crazy Harry died two years into his prison sentence. No one was sure what it was that killed Harry. A severe case of cabin fever? Loneliness? A broken heart? No one knew. The autopsy couldn’t tell either. The doctors just chalked up his death as natural causes and that was the end of it. They buried Harry in the farthest corner of the town’s cemetery and a grand total of…two people showed up for the funeral, a little boy by the name of Crowe and an elderly woman who no one knew. Not even a priest showed up to send poor Harry off to heaven. About six years later, the cemetery caretaker was driving his tractor pass Harry’s grave and saw that it had been dug up. He stopped his trusty tractor and ran over to the grave. He looked down deep into the hole and saw that the casket had been opened and Harry’s body was not in it. As he quickly drove his tractor back to his house, he noticed that something was dangling from the cemetery sign. He went up to look and saw Harry’s mangled dead corpse hanging from the sign. Tied to his rotted foot was a piece of paper. The caretaker ripped it off and read it. “I know many things, but one thing I’ve never been sure of is, how does one die of laughter?”

KATHLEEN
(proud)

That was a good story.

ROY
(nonchalantly)

Thanks.

KATHLEEN

Was it about you? Did you take my advice and just change something?

 ROY

Crowe was my father.

KATHLEEN

The little boy at the funeral?

ROY

He respected Crazy Harry. Saw him as some sort of prophet.

KATHLEEN

Did you see him as a prophet?

ROY

Crazy Harry or my dad?

KATHLEEN

Your dad.

ROY

Yeah. He taught me a lot.

KATHLEEN

Would you say he’s your hero?

ROY
(thinks for a minute)

Yeah. Yeah he is.

KATHLEEN

That’s so sweet. Barely anyone ever admits that one of their parents is their hero anymore. When we were young we did it all the time. Maybe it’s because we had yet to be affected by the harshness of reality.

ROY

I guess.

KATHLEEN

Do you have a girlfriend, Roy?

ROY

Nope.

KATHLEEN

Why not? You’re a strapping young lad?

ROY

Because I think the cards are against me having a girlfriend.

KATHLEEN

Why the hell do you say that? That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.

ROY

It’s a proven fact. Pretty much every time I like a girl she likes someone else, usually one of my friends. So not only do I have to deal with the fact that she doesn’t like me, but I also have to see the mating process take place. As if the pain of rejection wasn’t enough, I have to deal with the extra little pinprick. It really gets to a guy after a little while.

KATHLEEN

Oh, that’s just bad luck. How many girlfriends have you had in your life, Roy?

ROY

Seven or eight maybe.

KATHLEEN

And why is that number so low? Because that’s just the way it is. If every time you liked a girl, she liked you, then the problems with relationships would be solved.

ROY

You make it sound so simple.

KATHLEEN

Everything in life is simple, Roy. People just tend to add on more frosting than they need too.

ROY

More frosting?

KATHLEEN

Excess bullshit…if you will.

ROY

“Excess bullshit…” that a technical term?

KATHLEEN

No one likes a wise-ass.

ROY

 I’ve been told that once or twice.

To be continued.

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3 thoughts on “Hello or Goodbye: Part One

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