C. L. BLEDSOE

Finite

a ten minute play

 

Cast of Characters

Eric: early twenties college student, a country mouse trying to shake the hay out of his fur. He is not proud of his roots. Eric speaks without a discernable accent, because he is hiding his southern accent. Eric is a little repressed, a little frustrated with life. Eric has a sardonic sense of humor that slips through from time to time. Eric wears a watch. 

Julie/ The Night Doctor: Eric's sister, slightly older than Eric, mid twenties. She's a DJ. She is less concerned with her roots and actually takes pride in them, so that we hear the country in her voice. Julie is very outgoing. She enjoys life much more than Eric. She gets annoyed at him for being such a stick in the mud, sometimes, but he's her brother and that means a great deal to her.  

Mr. Haberstorm: Eric's next door neighbor. He is having a troubled relationship at the moment.  

Woman Next Door: Frustrated because she's in a dead end relationship. 

Time

Now

Place

An Apartment

SCENE: An apartment.

AT RISE: ERIC is talking on the phone. We come to HIM attempting to end a conversation with HIS father so that HE can study. JULIE is reading a magazine in a chair. During ERIC'S phone conversation, HE gives JULIE frustrated gestures and makes faces.

                                                                        

                                                                      ERIC

...yeah Dad...okay. So everyone's okay? Mom doing alright? No one's died or anything? Well that's good...I have to go, Dad. I have a big test tomorrow in finite...no, that's math...

Can't you just tell her later?

            JULIE takes an interest. 

                                                                        ERIC (CONT'D)
Dad...you can tell it to her later...I have to go study...

            (To JULIE)(Not pleased)

Dad has a joke.

                                                                        JULIE
Lets hear it. Lay it on me.

                                                                        ERIC

            (Repeating this from the phone)

So, apparently, there was this man who went down to the local lumberyard...and he went up to the foreman and told him he needed some two by fours...and the foreman asked him, how long do you need them? And the man said, oh I'm going to need them for a long time; I'm going to build a house with them.

            JULIE laughs.  

                                                                        ERIC
That's very humorous, Dad...no, no, one's enough. One joke is my limit, I'm driving later ...I have to go, Dad. It was good to hear from you. Julie sends her love...she has to go play some Devil Music on her radio show...okay... bye. Okay...yes. okay...yeah, Dad, I know...Okay bye.

            (HE hangs up the phone.) 

                                                                        JULIE
Eric, you're my brother, and I love you, but you suck at telling jokes.

                                                                        ERIC
Look at what I have to work with. The man is a couple slices short of a loaf of bread.

            ERIC turns his attention back to HIS books.

                                                                        JULIE
You know how he is. He has a hard time with you, Eric. He doesn't know how to take you. He's just...happy to talk to you...and he doesn't know what to say...so he tells jokes.

                                                                        ERIC

Huh. Yeah. You know what he told me the last time he called?

            (Half Beat)

He said that he'd read an article in Newsweek about the university, about how we were making all sorts of scientific advancements. And here I am getting actually interested in what he's saying.

                                                                        JULIE
First time for everything.

                                                                        ERIC

And he said that they had taught a monkey how to talk. I said, Wow, you know. I don't remember hearing anything about that. But I'm buying it, hook, line and sinker, I'm thinking, Wow, here I am having an actual, interesting conversation with the man. So he says, yeah, they taught a monkey how to talk, but all it wants to talk about is the price of bananas.

            JULIE laughs. 

                                                                        ERIC (CONT'D)

What does that even mean? The price of bananas? A monkey. He infuriates me.

                                                                        JULIE
It's a farmer joke. Farmer's are always talking about the price of beans, or rice or something. If you'd spent more time on the farm, you'd get it.       

                                                                        ERIC
Exactly. That's what it's always about. If I'd spent more time on the farm, instead of going off to college.

                                                                        JULIE
He wanted you to go to college. He wanted you to have a future.

                                                                        ERIC
But he still has to ridicule me...That's what learning is to him. It's not trying to better oneself, or gain knowledge and understanding of the world, it's teaching monkeys how to talk like farmers. That's all we're doing in his mind, Julie, break out the bananas.

We're wasting our time, when we should be working in a rice field for a living.

                                                                        JULIE
He's just...trying to relate to you. You take everything so seriously. The world...God, Eric

everyone isn't out to get you. Jesus. The world's not as bad a place as you think it is...and even if it is, how would you know? You haven't seen enough of it.

                                                                        ERIC
That's not the point. And at least I'm trying to see more of it...to grow...

During the next few lines, arguing is heard from the apartment next door. This is MR. HABERSTORM.   The arguing rises in intensity and should be improvised, something along the lines of: "You idiot. You're full of shit. You're lying." Etc.                                                                                 

                                                                        JULIE                                                

Well, good. But you can't escape your roots.                        

                                                                        ERIC                                      

I can try.

                                                                        MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

Well fuck you, how's that?

                                                                        JULIE

Maybe someday you'll think Dad is a good man who did a lot for you. He's family. He loves you. And he tries. That's more than a lot of people. At least he talks to you now.

                                                                     

 ERIC   

You'd call that positive, I assume. 

MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

Oh for fuck's sake! Are you starting that shit again?

                                              

                                                                        JULIE
You're not going to get far without family.

MR. HABERSTORM'S voice becomes louder and more coherent. ERIC and JULIE stop talking and look towards the wall.

                                                                        MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

...GO TO YOUR GOD DAMN MOTHER'S THEN! YOU SILLY BITCH! GO! I'M DONE WITH YOU!

            There is a loud crash. MR. HABERSTORM is quiet. No more noise is heard.

                                                                         JULIE

Jesus.

                                                                        ERIC
Oh. Oh, just great. I have a finite test tomorrow and my neighbors are trying to kill each other. Just my luck.

                                                                        JULIE
Who is that?

                                                                        ERIC

Some couple. I think their name is...Haberstorm? Something like that. I met the man on the stairs once. He's hardly ever there. I think he works nights or something.

                                                                        JULIE
You want me to, like, call the cops?

                                                                        ERIC
I don't know...they've stopped now.

                                                                        JULIE

Yeah. Probably cause one of them's dead or something.

                                                                        ERIC
As long as that keeps them quiet, I really don't care.

            ERIC looks back down at HIS books for a beat.

                                                                         JULIE

Oh, hey, what time is it?

                                                                        ERIC
            (Checks HIS watch)

Seven forty three.

                                                                        JULIE
Oh, I gotta go.

            JULIE jumps up, gives ERIC a hug, then starts to exit.

                                                                         JULIE
Love you.

                                                                        ERIC
Have a good show.

                                                                        JULIE
Thanks. Good luck on your Finite exam. And try not to be so hard on Dad, okay? You only have to talk to him once in a blue moon. It's good to have family. They can come in handy, if you ever get in a jam.

                                                                        ERIC
All right...I know, he just...frustrates me.

                                                                        JULIE
Yeah, I know. You know who frustrates me?

            (SHE smiles sweetly at ERIC)

Love you.

            SHE exits.

            ERIC grabs a book, sits and begins to study.

            BLACK OUT

AT RISE: ERIC is sitting, studying hard. Maybe an hour has passed. All is quiet.  After a moment, the arguing begins again. It is a low, droning argument. The words are hard to make out, but a male and a female voices are heard. ERIC tries to ignore the noise, and it appears that HE may succeed for a moment. Then the arguing overwhelms HIM. HE rises and paces a little, tries to go back to studying.

                                                                         WOMAN (O.S.)

You're sorry, you know that?

                                                                        MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

Fuck you.

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)                                            

Not till you sober up. You can't get it up anyway.

            (Half Beat)

You get away from me. I swear to God, you better

                                                                        MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

What're you gonna do? Breathe on me? Shut the fuck up, you damn whore.

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)

Don't you tell me what to do

                                                                        MR. HABERSTORM
Shut the fuck up!

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)

Come on! Fucking do something! You sorry motherfucker!

                                                                        MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

Oh, I'm sorry, huh? What the fuck are you?

                                                                        ERIC

            (Overwhelmed)
Will you please be quiet! Please!

The noise quiets down. We hear stomping, then the click of a radio followed by music. ERIC relaxes, gathers up his book and notes, and again attempts to study. HE focuses on the book but the radio is playing loudly. HE finally gets frustrated, but then listens hard to the music and suddenly recognizes it. A breathless JULIE cuts in as the song ends.

                                                                        JULIE (O.S.)

            (In a DJ voice)

Hey everybody, this is the Night Doctor, here to help you through the end of one more day. I just made it through the door a couple minutes ago, so how about I play something to give me a chance to catch my breath.

            Music begins playing quietly. ERIC grabs HIS phone, dials.             

                                                                        ERIC

Hey sis, guess who's listening to your show? Mr. and Mrs. Haberstorm. Yeah. They turned it on to cover their arguing after I yelled at them...I'm losing my mind here. I'm going to bomb this finite test if I don't get some peace and quiet to study. I'll lose my scholarship if I fail finite!

                                                                        MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

Don't fucking start.  

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)

Oh fuck you!

                                                                        MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

Whoever's first in line, huh?

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)

What is wrong with you? Were you some sort of defective child?

                                                                        ERIC (CONT'D)

            (A little loud to compensate for the arguing)

What? I know. I wish I could think of something too. Well, anyway, I just wanted to let you know you have a captive audience of at least one...What? Yeah, I've got a request, how about you play something to inspire them to quit arguing.

            ERIC hangs up.

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)

Yeah? Who you been fucking? You gonna go fuck her now? Im surprised anybody wants your sorry ass.                                                                                

ERIC begins talking to HIMSELF, but it grows into HIM yelling at the noisy neighbors. Towards the end of his rant, THEY yell at HIM to shut up. And yell at each other, drowning ERIC out.

 

                                                                         

ERIC

Jesus. There's nobody else in the whole world but you two. Nothing important going on here.   Nobody trying to study?  Go ahead! Rip each other apart! Make all the noise in the world! Keep it up all night!!

MR. HABERSTORM (O.S.)

I ain't fucking nobody. You got a lot of room to talk. What do you think I'm fucking stupid?  I'm blind? Is that it?

                                                                            

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)

Shut up! Shut the fuck up!

The song on the radio is cut off by JULIE'S voice. ERIC is quiet and listens. The arguing continues until MR. HABERSTORM'S name is heard, then it's replaced by stunned silence.

                                                                 

JULIE (O.S.)

This is the Night Doctor, DJ MD and I just got a dedication for a love song, from Mr. Haberstorm, to Mrs. Haberstorm. He says, I'm sorry, baby. I love you. Let's work it out.  Sounds good to me. I'd give him a chance, what do you say?

WOMAN (O.S.)

You stupid motherfucker, I'm gonna call the law on your stupid  ass...

Music starts playing quietly. It plays   for a few beats, and then we hear clomping footsteps and the radio is turned off. We hear a different tone in the voice of the WOMAN next door. ERIC is  enthralled by this.

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)

Mrs. Haberstorm? So you love her, huh? You want to work it out? You son of a bitch! You told me you were leaving that bitch!

 

We hear more clumping, and the heavy thud of someone throwing something. There is an element of delight for ERIC as he realizes that the WOMAN is not MRS. HABERSTORM.

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.) (CONT'D)

I can't believe I wasted 6 months of my life on your sorry ass! You sorry bastard! Go back to your God damn wife, then! Go! Get the hell out of my house!

                                                                        MAN (O.S.)

What the fuck are you talking about? I didn't ...I don't know what the fuck is going on, but there must be some other Haberstorm, or something.

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)
I ain't fucking stupid, you son of a bitch!

 

More crashing, stomping feet. ERIC   is frightened but still enthralled.  It's like watching a train wreck.

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.) (CONT'D)
Go! Get the fuck out! And don't you ever show your sorry face around here again!

                                                                        MAN (O.S.)

But I didn't...look you silly bitch, I didn't fucking request that song! It was someone else! Did you see me fucking call the radio?

                                                                        WOMAN (O.S.)

I don't give a shit, I'm tired of you. You want your fucking wife, go back to her! Get out!

There is the sound of a loud, final door slam. Quiet settles over everything. ERIC picks up HIS phone, dials it.

                                                                        ERIC
Hey sis...yeah, hey thanks a million, it worked like a charm. Great show, tonight. I'm going to have to start listening more often. Love you.

HE hangs up, settles down once more with HIS book, then savors the quiet for a moment and begins studying.

 

            BLACK OUT

 

 

 

Garvin Flowers
by Richard Stephens

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