I create context. I also write blog posts:

Moving On

Posted: August 6th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

I had a day off today, so I took the time to rework an old short that I wrote in January.

Moving On
a play
by Peter C. Shelly

Characters
GUY, somewhere in his 20s
FRIEND, also in his 20s



 

SCENE ONE

LIGHTS UP ON:

The stage is set with the living room of a Los Angeles apartment and, off to the left, a balcony accessible through a sliding door from the living room. Throughout the apartment, boxes overflow with clothes and books and toiletries and all manner of stuff. Somebody’s moving out. Behind the living room is the kitchen, deep in the background. GUY and FRIEND stand on the balcony, looking out at the back side of the Hollywood Hills, drinking beer and sharing a joint. Coming from the living room, a radio is tuned to a Dodger’s game.

GUY

Have you ever noticed that nobody in Los Angeles has an accent?

FRIEND

The guy at the Mexican place did.

GUY

He was Mexican. I mean people from LA. The Los Angelenos.

FRIEND is disinterested.

GUY

Ha. Actually, that’s kinda funny.

FRIEND

How so?

GUY

The Los Angelenos. “The the Angelenos.”

FRIEND

We’re not called “Los Angelenos.” We’re just “Angelenos.”

GUY

Oh.

FRIEND

Yeah.

GUY

Well, I guess I can’t recycle that joke anymore.

FRIEND

Yeah.

In the background, Dodgers announcer Vin Scully continues announcing the play-by-play as he has throughout the scene, but now we hear it clearly for the first time as GUY and FRIEND are quiet. There’s a routine ground ball or another play that wouldn’t be otherwise noticeable except for through the silence on the balcony.

GUY

(Changing the subject...)

Sorry I skipped that Dodgers game last month.

FRIEND

What?

GUY

Your birthday, when everyone went to see them play the Mets. I wanted to have dinner with Steph and that was the only time she could that week and I lost the argument.

FRIEND

You explained this before, it’s cool.

GUY

Well, I wanted to say “sorry” again.

FRIEND

(There’s nothing he can say to make GUY feel better.)

Yeah. Thanks, then. I appreciate it.

(A beat.)

Was it at least a good night?

GUY

No. I mean, all things considered, yeah.

He thinks before explaining.

GUY

Dinner was nice and all but... By then, I think we both knew it was over. She didn’t care all that much, but I didn’t want it to be--which is why I picked that over the ballgame.

Talking real slowly now, he’s not even looking at FRIEND. It’s like he’s staring down a telephone pole or something else in the distance.

GUY

I think she knew that, so she tried to put on a good show of it. But she didn’t want the same things I did. And that made it hard, for me, for her. You can’t expect someone to just carry you, ya know? And you can’t tell them where to go if they are.

FRIEND continues listening, letting him talk it out. Truth be told, he probably doesn’t even need to be here. But he is, and you can’t just leave in the middle of these things, and anyways, it’s a confession Guy’s never made to him before.

GUY

And she was carrying me. But it was too much for her and still not enough for me.

(A big sigh to purge the rest of the emotion.)

So that’s why I didn’t go to the Dodger’s game. I’m sorry for that.

FRIEND

I didn’t ask you to explain it.

GUY

Yeah. I know, I just thought I should--

FRIEND

I mean, I didn’t need you to explain it.

GUY

I know.

Another one of the many awkward pauses we’ll sit through.

GUY

(Now that that’s over...)

Anyways, we should probably start carrying this shit out to the car.

FRIEND

(Hems and haws)

Nah. I don’t think I want to.

Not the answer GUY was expecting.

GUY

What? You said you would.

FRIEND shrugs it off.

GUY

In fact, I know you did, because you said, “I’ll help you carry this shit if you buy dinner.” I thought about it for a minute and then said, “yes.” And then you said, “I want to go to that Mexican place on Franklin,” and I said, “but that’s all the way out in fuckin’ Hollywood,” and you said, “so?”

FRIEND

So?

GUY

So we just got back from the goddamned Mexican place on Franklin! Now help me carry this shit!

FRIEND

I changed my mind.

GUY

You can’t change your mind! You-- That’s not how it works!

FRIEND

Why don’t we leave all of your stuff in the living room for a second and talk about this.

GUY

I had enchiladas. You had a chicken burrito with no cilantro and extra guac.

FRIEND looks at him blankly, wondering what his point is.

GUY

There’s nothing left to talk about! The deal was this: I buy dinner, you help me carry shit. No talking, no negotiating, no mind changing.

FRIEND

I meant, let’s talk about why we’re carrying this shit.

GUY

Because it all needs to go in my car.

FRIEND

Why?

GUY

So I can take it to my new apartment.

FRIEND

Where’s your new apartment?

GUY

(sighs.)

Not in LA.

FRIEND

(thinks for a second.)

So, like, Anaheim?

GUY

No, not Anaheim. Somewhere not in California.

FRIEND

Where then?

GUY

I’ll let you know when I figure it out. I’ll send you a postcard or something.

FRIEND

All right. Let’s go back for a second. This is all very sudden, and I have to think about it.

GUY

I told you two weeks ago!

FRIEND

I didn’t think you would actually go through with it, so I didn’t give it a second thought!

GUY

(starting to get annoyed with the conversation.)

Well I did and now my bags are packed. Now, let’s take them to the car.

GUY walks back into the apartment. FRIEND follows, if only to keep the conversation going.

FRIEND

Why are we doing this again?

GUY

(boils over.)

JESUS CHRIST! Because. I’m. Leaving.

FRIEND

What, do you think I’m dumb? I know that. “Why are you leaving” is what I’m asking. I feel like you haven’t mentioned that.

GUY

You’re right, I haven’t.

FRIEND

Why not?

GUY

Because it’s a lot of things, and I don’t feel like going through it all.

FRIEND picks up a picture frame that was set down on its face.

FRIEND

Maybe it’s because of her.

GUY takes the frame away and places it -- face down again -- on a laundry basket of stuff.

GUY

Maybe it’s a lot of things! Maybe it’s this city and these people and my job and my parents and everything! ... but don’t blame her... that’s unfair.

FRIEND

I’m just guessing here, but I think you’re worried that if you come out and say it, that if you come out and say “this is why I’m leaving,” you’re worried that it’s not gonna be enough. That at some point, you’re going to look back and say, “shit. I pissed away a good thing.” And so you’ve come up with this “it’s a lot of things” line so you can defend yourself when you start to regret it. Maybe.

GUY stares at him hard as the LIGHTS GO DOWN.

SCENE TWO

LIGHTS UP ON:

We’re in the living room of the apartment again, with the kitchen in the background and the balcony to our left still. About half of the boxes from before are now gone. GUY and FRIEND enter from the apartment door on the right, coming back from a trip to the car. They each grab a box and start to head out again. GUY carries a tortilla steamer box.

GUY

Why do I even have all this stuff?

FRIEND puts his box down and takes a swig from his bottle of beer, which is sitting on a coffee table in the middle of the room.

FRIEND

We have a burrito steamer?!

GUY

Had. Do you think people starving in Africa have burrito steamers?

FRIEND

No, but they don’t need them. They know how to survive without all that shit.

(Another swig.)

People in Africa feel bad for us, dude.

GUY puts down the box and sighs.

GUY

Let’s take a break for a few minutes.

FRIEND

Mind if I roll another one?

GUY

Out on the balcony...

FRIEND goes outside. GUY goes to the kitchen, grabs a beer from the fridge, and joins him. FRIEND licks his finger, closes the joint, and passes it over to GUY.

FRIEND

I just want to make sure of one thing.

That’s enough to make GUY curious as he lights it.

FRIEND

It’s got nothing to do with me, right?

GUY

No. Of course not.

(Suspiciously)

Should it?

FRIEND

Hey, hey... just makin’ sure! That time I put hair bleach in your shampoo bottle, we laughed about that, right? Here’s the thing though. I knew it was going to turn your hair yellow. I just didn’t know that Jimmy put pink coloring in the conditioner. We got our wires tangled on that one, sorry.

GUY

You got your what--?

FRIEND

Uh, nothing. Just... we didn’t think it would last so long.

GUY

Yeah, no, whatever. We’re cool. I got you back for it anyways. I sent your mom that YouTube video of you bombed off your ass, pissing in her flowers last time we were home.

FRIEND

You what--? She never mentioned that!

GUY

She was probably too embarrassed. You dropped trou right there in the garden!

FRIEND

(Taking his lickin’.)

All right, I suppose that’s fair. I’m just sayin’...

GUY

What?

FRIEND

A lot of people would be angry if their roommate slept with someone in their bed and didn’t tell them.

GUY

No... When! And with whom?

FRIEND

Last week. With that girl Jessica.

GUY

Last week?

FRIEND

Hey, you said you were leaving! I figured you weren’t taking the bed with you so it was fair game!

GUY

That’s gross. That’s-- That’s really gross.

(thinks a beat.)

Wait. I thought you said you didn’t think I was actually going to leave.

FRIEND

I didn’t.

GUY

But you used it to justify sleeping with someone in my bed?

FRIEND

I’ve used worse excuses.

GUY

What do you mean!? Have you done it before?

FRIEND

You know, let’s not... go there.

GUY

(Letting it go.)

I guess so! No use fighting about it now... Not like I’ll be sleeping in that bed ever again... after tonight, I guess.

FRIEND

Just so we’re clear then: this is all absolutely and completely because you broke up with Stephanie and has nothing to do with me.

GUY

God, like I said, it’s a lot of things.

FRIEND

But none of them related to me.

GUY

No.

FRIEND

No, none of them related to me, or no, that’s not true?

GUY

No, none of them related to you.

FRIEND

Ok, that’s all I wanted to hear.

They stare out at the blinking lights at the top of the hills, and the headlights moving along the freeways in the valley.

FRIEND

It’s not gonna be the same out here.

GUY

Nope.

More staring.

FRIEND

Nice night.

GUY

I guess.

FRIEND

You guess? Come on, it’s beautiful out here...

GUY

It’s March! Why is it nice out at one in the morning?!

FRIEND

Because this is Southern California, and that’s what happens.

They stand for a second, still passing the joint back and forth.

FRIEND

What about that girl Nikki from the coffeeshop?

GUY

What about her?

FRIEND

She likes you...

GUY

You think she likes me?

FRIEND

She digs you, dude!

GUY

You’ve never even met her! You’re just making that up! When’s the last time you even spoke to her?

FRIEND

(He’s almost offended. Almost.)

I don’t have to, I know these things.

GUY

So you haven’t.

FRIEND

Spoken to her? Well, no. But I know these things. She digs you.

GUY

Bullshit. And besides, I’m moving. There wouldn’t be any point in finding out.

FRIEND

Risky.

GUY

(Imitating FRIEND.)

“Risky” what?

FRIEND

You don’t want to find out?

No response from GUY. FRIEND shrugs it off and chokes as he inhales.

FRIEND

Ok, fine. Cute girl like that, though? I’d want to know.

GUY

How would she change the fact that this place makes me miserable?

FRIEND

I could think of a few ways.

GUY

Shut up.

FRIEND

What? You came out here to work and it turns out they’re not just handing out jobs. You had a girlfriend, but now you don’t. So it’s been a tough couple of months. What’s leaving gonna help?

GUY

This place makes me miserable.

FRIEND

You’re gonna be miserable anywhere you go with a track record like that.

GUY

Don’t joke. Not about that.

They stare out again. The joint’s dead, and FRIEND flicks it over the railing.

FRIEND

(With almost no emotion.)

You know what? You should go.

GUY

No, don’t... Don’t try reverse psychology or guilt or anything. Be with me or don’t, but don’t fake it.

FRIEND

Hey, you argued with me when I said not to go. So now I’m telling you what you want to hear. It’s easier.

GUY

Don’t do that! Don’t roll over on me! I don’t want the easy way out. Friends don’t do that; have my back when I need it, and kick me when I’m pissing something away.

FRIEND

You don’t want me to tell you to stay.

GUY

But you should anyways.

FRIEND

I don’t think you should stay.

GUY

You mean that?

FRIEND

I do. I think you’re pissing something away, but you should leave.

A beat passes while they both think it over.

GUY

You hear that? The freeway never stops.

In the audience, we hear nothing. It could just be his imagination, for all we know.

FRIEND

We’re in the Valley, the sound echoes.

GUY

No, it’s just always moving. Everything in this city is always moving, like this constant fuckin’ droning.

FRIEND

(Ignoring where the conversation’s going.)

You gonna miss anything from out here?

GUY

You really think I’m pissing something away?

FRIEND

I do.

GUY

Yeah, there are things I’m going to miss. But I’m okay with that.

CURTAIN.

 

The amazing scrippet plugin from johnaugust.com, found now on scrippets.org/.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

One Comment on “Moving On”

  1. 1 don said at 3:48 pm on August 6th, 2010:

    Nice dialog, friend. Ahhh . . . the things we think we know when we don’t want to face up to what we REALLY know.


Leave a Reply