A new play in ten scenes.  Our cast of characters: Annie Ellis, Garrett Molloy, Gibson Maguire; together in a Capra-corn for the millennial age.

New to FOUR BUCKS A NAME?  Read scenes onetwothreefourfive, six and seven.

ANNIE ELLIS: Garrett, take my hand.

Pause.

Look me in the eyes and just breathe, okay?

Pause.

Listen, my job isn’t to take risks on people. I take my cues from those paid to plan. I’m sure you get that, Garrett. I spend my words wisely and I do not, I do not ever throw pearls before swine.

ANNIE sighs.

When you came in here, when I saw you, when I looked into your eyes…when I really saw you, I saw the pain in your eyes. I know you’re scared. I witnessed it. Now, you can discount that however you like. You could even say that my assessment of things doesn’t matter. It’s a small thing, just a tiny observation.

Pause.

But, I’ve been forced to learn that small decencies matter. Energy ain’t wasted, my friend. It all matters. Every little thing.

Pause.

I’m scared too. Sometimes, I don’t know how long I can hold together.

Slight pause.

Last year, this boy was murdered around the corner from where I live. This kid, this high school football star…this guy was buying pot late at night from a friend. From a friend. This friend was planning on ripping him off, so his buddies were waiting behind a bush.

Pause.

They lit up his car, shooting the boy and leaving him for dead. Everyone was shaken. The boy’s family didn’t see anything like this coming. We held a small wake at the playground where his body was found. Everyone sobbing, praying; holding each other.

Pause.

My neighbor, Marlene, she was the one who told me the details of what happened that night. She was close to the family. Marlene immediately placed a few candles around the street light at the entrance to the playground. Those little votive candles.

Pause.

But, you couldn’t miss this roadside monument, this memorial. Every day someone seemed to add more to it. First, some flowers; then cards and messages taped to the pole. Marlene would light more candles each night. Other people added bouquets of flowers and eventually it was lined beautifully with bricks. Now, I can’t imagine it not being there. It’s as permanent a thing as things get.

Pause.

This little nothing but a good intention is now something real. It’s a warm kindness holding a family in their loss. It matters.

Slight pause.

I trust Gibson. I have no idea if his plan will work, if any of this will rise or fall. No idea. But, I trust Mr. Maguire to play straight with you. You know, this office…we work the low brow. All of the projects I manage cultivate the street-level opportunities. Gibson has other offices working up the high-rises. But, in the end…we collect everyone. We’re no respecter of persons.

Pause.

Sometimes, most times, we lose sight of the reasons we exist. Our articles of incorporation are dusty. But, we ain’t here to make money for people. The truth is: no one exists for that. As big and loud as that calling for endless growth can get, it’s always a distraction. It calls us away from what always matters, from people.

Pause.

Garrett, we can be evil and we mostly are; but we can be kind. We could be kind. It would matter.

Slight pause.

When I first moved here, when I first started working for Gibson, before I even took the job…I visited for the weekend. Brought my kids and trekked down in a car that barely made the ten-hour drive. Stayed in a hotel on Busch boulevard that has since been shuttered…closed for years now. Well, this motel was the resort that my new potential employer was putting us up in, to woo me aboard.

Pause.

My kids were upstairs in our room, eating pizza and watching Toy Story. I ran downstairs to the car, to get something for the next day, for the interview…some reading material that I thought would be all-important, some last minute, nervous preparation.

Pause.

On my way up the stairs, I saw a man…a young man, he was just maybe out of high school… This guy was waiting for me at the top of the stairs. I wasn’t scared until I stepped on the landing and he reached over and grabbed my hand, to take the car keys I was holding. He squeezed my hand hard and ordered me to give him the keys. I screamed “no” and he seemed a little shocked. I held those keys so tightly that they cut into my palm.

Pause.

This kid told me that he was fresh out of jail and was prepared to stay out, telling me he had a gun. I don’t remember what I said. I have no idea what it was that I said to make him…what moved him to let go of my hand and step back. But, while I was speaking whatever strange words were pushing him away, I could see nothing but pain in his eyes. I was terrified and praying to see my kids and he let go and stepped back, still threatening me with his words.

Pause.

I ran inside the hotel room, called the police, bandaged my hand and then held my kids forever.

Pause.

Gibson offered me the job the next morning and I said “yes”. Garrett, we’re all begging, we’re all asking impolitely for the right to exist. I don’t know if any of this will work; but, boy, we can do so much more together. You must see that.

Slight pause.

You can count on losing control. That much I will guarantee. None of this will look like what you envision, my friend. But, I do see courage in you. We can be brave together. That’ll be something.

###

Read what happens in Scene Nine “Exploration”.

Spread the word about FOUR BUCKS A NAME to your amigos.  Please & gracias.

(JSJ)

YHF13.08

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About The Author

J. Stephen Jorge

Please, give my latest book a read. It's called AMIGO: Small Stories and Tall Tales of Hope. I'd love to hear what you think. Connect with me at http://www.jsjorge.org sometime. Gracias.

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