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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Short Play #3: "At Loon Lake"


“At Loon Lake”

a new one-act play

by

Kirby Fields

Produced as part of the New York 15-Minute Play Festival on April 29, and May 6-7, 2011, featuring Sue Berch, Dave Brown, Jeffrey Nauman, and Scott Sowers, directed by Kel Haney.

The Characters

MITCH – male, 40’s

MAUREEN – female, 40’s, Mitch’s wife

ROBIN – male, 40’s

CODY – male, teenager, Robin’s severely disabled son
 
The Place

The beach at Loon Lake.
 
The Time

The present.

“At Loon Lake”

At rise: Sounds of birds chirping, water lapping, children playing. MITCH and MAUREEN on a blanket on the beach. Assorted beach-appropriate items are scattered. MAUREEN holds a tube of sunscreen.

MITCH
Fucking Loon Lake. I’ve got to be as crazy as one to be out here. How’d you ever talk me into this anyway?

MAUREEN
I didn’t talk you into anything. You’re here because you love me.

MITCH
Is that so?

MAUREEN
And because you forgot our date night on Friday and instead played poker with the boys.

MITCH
Ah, right.

                        (Beat.  MITCH sighs, discontentedly.)

MAUREEN
Why don’t you go get in the water or something?

MITCH
Are you kidding me? It’s one of the most polluted lakes in the state.

MAUREEN
Don’t be ridiculous. Look at all the people out there.

MITCH
I’m telling you, it’s a fucking cesspool. When their doctors diagnose them all with Hepatitis C, they’ll be sorry.

MAUREEN
Since when do you know about polluted lakes anyway?

MITCH
I read an article.

MAUREEN
Since when do you read?

MITCH
Since your meatloaf gave me plenty of time to do nothing but.

MAUREEN
My meatloaf. As if you need an excuse.
           
MITCH
I’ll tell you one thing right now though, next weekend, this keister isn’t moving so much as an inch from the couch, certain biological obligations notwithstanding.

MAUREEN
Mitch!  Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten. Cody gets in next weekend.

MITCH
Cody?

MAUREEN
He’s only got two weeks after the semester before summer school.

MITCH
You didn’t tell me.

MAUREEN
I was hoping you two could—.

MITCH
Nobody told me, Maureen. Not you and damn sure not—.

MAUREEN
Well, I’m telling you now. His last final is on Thursday. He’ll be home on Friday.

MITCH
That fucking kid.

MAUREEN
Mitchell!

MITCH
No. He’s been at that school for, what, two years now? And he’s called me a grand total of one time, and that only because the battery on your phone had died and he needed someone to send him some money.

MAUREEN
I’m sure that’s not—.

MITCH
One time, Maureen.

MAUREEN
Well, maybe if you would actually have a conversation with him when he did call.

MITCH
I have a conversation.

MAUREEN
“Hello, son. How are your grades? Don’t fuck up. Here’s your mother.”

MITCH
That’s a conversation.

MAUREEN
No “How are you doing? What did you do today? Are you seeing anyone?”

MITCH
It’s implied.

MAUREEN
In which part? The “don’t fuck up” or the “here’s your mother”?

MITCH
It’s implied. He understands. Men understand.

MAUREEN
Well maybe boys don’t.

He’s changing his major. I don’t know why he never called you before, but this time it’s because he’s changing his major and he’s afraid of what you’re going to say.

MITCH
He’s changing his major? To what?

MAUREEN
To Sociology.

MITCH
The fuck he is.
 
MAUREEN
See.

MITCH
I’m sorry, Maureen, but—.

MAUREEN
This is exactly why—.

MITCH
What’s wrong with Business?

MAUREEN
There’s nothing wrong with Business, except, apparently, that it’s not Sociology.

MITCH
It’s a perfectly respectable career path.

MAUREEN
It is.

MITCH
You know what they say, don’t you?

MAUREEN
No.

MITCH
You want to help people, study Sociology. You want to get a job, study Business.

MAUREEN
I’m not sure they say that.

MITCH
Well, they should. Or something like it, anyway. Fucking Sociology. It just doesn’t make any sense. Do you know what I would have given to have the opportunity that boy has?  A diploma, Maureen. A college degree. He’s going straight to the top, not stall halfway up the corporate ladder.

MAUREEN
Oh, baby, you haven’t stalled.

MITCH
I wasn’t talking about—.

MAUREEN
Of course you weren’t.
(MITCH sees something offstage.)
He’s 20 years old. I’m sure he’s just—.

MITCH
Hey. Check it out.

(MAUREEN looks off. Sound of an inarticulate moan from offstage.)

MAUREEN
Oh my god. There but for the grace of god go—.

MITCH
I know, right? Can you believe this shit? I mean, like you said, we’re trying to have a day here. We’re trying to have a good fucking day.

                        (another piercing moan)

MAUREEN
I just don’t know what I would have done. I just—.

MITCH
I know what you would have done. You wouldn’t have let it get to that point in the first place.

MAUREEN
But—.

MITCH
No buts about it. It’s unconscionable. Bringing something like that into the world. After all, there are tests for these kinds of things nowadays. After a certain point, the only ass you should be required to wipe is your own.

MAUREEN
Hush up. They’re coming this way.

(ROBIN enters. He’s a pleasant-looking, middle-aged man. Behind him is CODY. CODY is a severely disabled teenage boy. His face, hands, and body are contorted. He communicates via yelps and moans.)

                        (CODY bellows.)
 
ROBIN
That’s right. We’re going to go for a swim in the lake.
                        (CODY)
Oh, I don’t know. I suppose it will be a little on the cold side, but it’s so hot out, I bet it’s going to feel good.
                        (CODY)
Colder than your bath, yes, but with less soap in your eyes.
                        (CODY)
No. You’ll still have to get a bath.
                        (CODY)
Because bathing and swimming are two different things, that’s why. One is hardly a substitute for the other.
                        (CODY)
True. But they’re different kinds of water. Think about it. After you’ve taken a bath, you hardly feel like you’ve gone swimming, right? Well, the same idea works in reverse.
(ROBIN makes eye contact with MITCH and shakes his head as if to say, “The questions just never stop, do they?” Then, to MITCH:)
Beautiful day, isn’t it?

MITCH
It is.

ROBIN
I’m telling you, the sky on days like this.

MITCH
Supposed to be turn by the end of the week.

ROBIN
Is that so?

MITCH
What the news says, anyway.

ROBIN
Well, enjoy it while it lasts.

MITCH
You too.

ROBIN
Thanks. Come on, Cody.

MAUREEN
Mitch.

MITCH
I heard, Maureen.

ROBIN
I’m sorry, did I—?

MITCH
No.

MAUREEN
It’s just—.

MITCH
It’s just nothing.

MAUREEN
It’s just that we have a son named “Cody,” too.

ROBIN
Is that right?

MAUREEN
We do.

ROBIN
My Cody is named after his grandfather, my father.

MAUREEN
That’s so sweet. Ours is named Cody because it’s the only name Mitch and I could agree on.

ROBIN
That’s important too.

MAUREEN
He’s thinking about changing his major, our Cody is. He’s starting his junior year at college and he’s—.

MITCH
He’s not changing his—.

MAUREEN
He’s thinking of changing from Business to Sociology.

ROBIN
That’s quite a change.

MAUREEN
It is. I tell him whatever makes him happy.

MITCH
Provided it keeps him out of the line at the soup kitchen.

(CODY whimpers. He stares at MITCH. MITCH stares back, uncomfortably.)

ROBIN
Well, I can’t speak too much to the business angle—I teach math to sixth graders, myself—but Cody here has taken a real shine to his caretaker. He’s almost become like a member of the family like. It’s a little different than briefcases and spreadsheets and, well, whatever it is business people do, but it’s rewarding in its own right, I suppose. You said it best, yourself: Whatever makes him happy.
                        (CODY continues staring at MITCH.)
Speaking of taking a shine. I think he likes you.
                        (CODY bellows.)
Yeah. He likes you.

MITCH
You can really understand him?

ROBIN
As much as anybody understands anyone, I guess. You can respond to him, you know. He is capable of carrying on a conversation.

MITCH
I wouldn’t know what to say.

ROBIN
Just say whatever pops into your head.

MAUREEN
That’s not a good idea.

ROBIN
I’m sure it’s—.

MITCH
No, she’s right. That’s probably not a—.
 
ROBIN
Come on… Whatever pops into your head. Really. It makes his day.

(Beat as MITCH looks at MAUREEN. She shrugs.)

MITCH
Cody. Now, you listen to your dad now, you hear. I read an article, you see, and that lake there is one of the dirtiest in the state. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out there and enjoy yourself. A little dirt comes with life. And on a day like today, it should cool you off something real good. But you make sure when you get home that you get yourself a bath tonight, you understand? I know it may not make much sense to you now, but your dad is just watching out for you, just making sure you do what’s best.
(MITCH stares at CODY, searching for some kind of recognition.)
Are you sure he’s able to—?

(CODY reaches toward MITCH’s face. MITCH recoils.)

ROBIN
It’s OK.

(CODY reaches up and strokes MITCH’s cheek. He moans loudly.)

MITCH
Yeah. You too.

                        (After a pause, ROBIN takes CODY by the hand.)

ROBIN
Come on. We don’t need to impose on these fine people anymore than we already have.

                        (ROBIN and CODY begin to exit.)

MITCH
Hey.

ROBIN
Yes?

MITCH
You decided to name him after your old man before he was born?

ROBIN
When we learned it was a boy, yes.

MITCH
And you knew that…. You knew he was going to be that way?

ROBIN
Yes. We knew.

MITCH
How’d that make him feel? Your pops?

ROBIN
Are you kidding me? He was honored. Have a nice day.

                        (ROBIN and CODY exit.)

(Pause as MITCH and MAUREEN listen to CODY’s cries recede into the distance.)

MITCH
See. What I fucking tell you, huh? I mean, talk about a buzzkill. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be let out of the house. I won’t go so far as to say that, but I will say—.

MAUREEN
Shut up, Mitch.

MITCH
Excuse me.

MAUREEN
I said shut the fuck up.

                        (She reaches into her purse and pulls out a cell phone.)

MITCH
Hey. Just because they ruined your day at the beach doesn’t mean—.

                        (MAUREEN holds the phone to MITCH.)

MAUREEN
Call.

MITCH
What?

MAUREEN
You heard me. Call.

MITCH
What are you talking about? Who am I supposed to—?

MAUREEN
You know damn well who.

MITCH
And what am I supposed to say? We just saw a retard on the beach and thought of you.

MAUREEN
If that feels right.

MITCH
Maureen.

MAUREEN
You’ll think of something.

MITCH
He’s not going to answer.

MAUREEN
It’s my phone. He’ll answer.

MITCH
But what am I supposed to—?

MAUREEN
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you call. Now.

                        (MITCH takes the phone.)

MITCH
Why don’t you get into the water or something?

MAUREEN
In that water? No way. I hear it’s a cesspool.

MITCH
Oh, for Christ’s—.

MAUREEN
But I’ll tell you what, I will take a stroll along the shore, if you promise.

MITCH
I promise.

MAUREEN
There are records, you know, on the phone. There are ways of knowing.

MITCH
I know.

MAUREEN
Logs that list numbers called, even lengths of conversations.

MITCH
I know, Maureen. I know. Go take your walk.

                        (She kisses him on the cheek.)

MAUREEN
You’re a good man, Mitchell. Or at least there’s a good man in there somewhere.

                        (She exits.)

                        (MITCH looks at the phone. After a few seconds, he calls.)

MITCH
Hello. Cody? No. It’s your dad. I said, It’s your dad. Yes, I know. No. She’s fine. We’re at the beach, actually. I know, right. How she ever talked me into this one. Hey, listen. I know you’re busy and all, and I’ll let you talk to your mom in just a minute, but first I wanted to…first I just wanted to say….
                       
(MITCH pauses, searching for the right words, searching for any words. He is unable to find them. After faltering for a few seconds, he rocks his head back—the phone still to his mouth—and unleashes a primal scream.)

                        (end of play)