Freedom Behind Bars

Act One
Prologue: Political Conference

Lights up on a podium on a stage. Cameras flash as MR. FISCHMAN walks onto the stage and begins his speech.

MR. FISCHMAN: Good evening. Today is going to be a very significant day in American history…

Downstage, we see a teenage boy, TIMMY, running from two police officers. MR FISCHMAN freezes in his speech.

OFFICER #1: Stop!

The officers raise their guns. TIMMY turns around, his hands in the air, holding his pistol limply.

OFFICER #2: Knees on the floor and drop the gun!

The officers and TIMMY freeze and MR. FISCHMAN continues.

MR FISCHMAN: …Probably more significant than most of you think. With this new law, this policy, we enter a new age for those citizens of this great country that might have made mistakes at some point in their lives. We’re giving them a choice…

He freezes in his speech, and the officers and TIMMY spring to life.

OFFICER #1 :You heard him! Put the gun down!

TIMMY looks up and stares at the officers with a menacing glint in his eyes.

TIMMY: Cops. Not the most eloquent name for what you guys do, is it?

Freeze, unfreeze.

MR FISCHMAN: …And a choice they can make for themselves, but are just as well aided in making. With this policy, the job of criminal psychiatrist will be a whole new position, on a whole different level. It will be a position that serves as a conscience to the criminal mind, and it will be a position that decides whether a man lives or dies.

Freeze, unfreeze.

TIMMY: But I suppose it’s a better title than what you really are. Dogs. Dogs on the longest leash in the world. Leashes that trail all the way back to Washington D.C. And the man on the end of these leashes?

Freeze, unfreeze.

MR. FISCHMAN: Obviously, only the best and most trustworthy will be chosen for these jobs. (pause as he takes a sip of water) So, on this day, December 25, 2016, I, Mr. Henry Fischman, am here to announce that the law, granting every criminal contained within a prison within American soil a single gun with a single bullet, so that they may choose to take their life if they wish.

Freeze, unfreeze. The officers pin TIMMY down and read him his rights.

OFFICER #2: Timmy Baker, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. (add emphasis) If you are convicted by a jury, according to the law established by Mr. Fischman two years ago, you will be offered the chance to commit suicide by gunshot, if you so choose.

Freeze, unfreeze.

MR. FISCHMAN: Thank you and goodnight.

Blackout.

Scene 1: Daily Routine

Lights up on a split stage. On one side, DONALD and NANCY at breakfast as home. She makes eggs. On the other, a jail cell.

NANCY: Fried or scrambled, honey?

DONALD: Hmm?

NANCY: Your eggs, sweetie.

DONALD: Oh, scrambled

NANCY: How many? (He doesn’t respond.) Donald

DONALD: Hmm?

NANCY: One or two eggs?

DONALD: Two eggs, please.

NANCY: So, Sharon and her new boyfriend wanted to know if they could come over for dinner next week. She told me that he’s some sort of politician, passed a law a few years ago. Pretty impressive. Not nearly as impressive as my criminal psychologist, though.

DONALD: Hmm.

NANCY: Donald, what’s wrong?

DONALD: What?

NANCY: You haven’t been listening to a single thing I’ve said all morning. What’s wrong?

DONALD slides the paper over to her. She folds it and reads the article aloud.

NANCY: “…twenty more homes for the juvenile closed last week, transferring over 200 children and young adults to orphanages and county prisons across the country…” Oh, Donald, I’m sorry.

DONALD: Why? Why do they have to move the kids? They can’t be subjected to the kind of environment a prison has. Ever since the Bullet Act it’s been like this. For almost two years they’ve been closing those homes, and now… I mean, how can they do this? I…I don’t want to have to come into work one day and tell a kid that he should kill himself.

NANCY: But you try to save them, right?

DONALD: Of course, but…it’s more complicated than that Nancy…I don’t know if can do this job anymore.

NANCY: Then quit. God knows it would be a lot less dramatic for me. You coming home late at night, your shirt punctured by bullets…

DONALD: I can’t quit.

NANCY: Why not?

DONALD: Have you already forgotten about Andrea?

NANCY: Of course not! How could I? How can I not think about her, everyday when I get up in the morning, every night when I go to sleep, (misspeaking) every month when I look at our bills…(DONALD turns away from her and begins to gather his things) I didn’t mean it like that.

DONALD: Of course not.

NANCY: But it’s been more than two years. First the tests are positive, then negative, then positive the next month and on and on and on. Longer than the Bullet Act has been active. What if we stopped paying those bills? What if we just stopped?

Neither of them speak. A beat, two, three, four. DONALD notices the time on his watch.

DONALD: Dammit, I’m late!

NANCY: What about your eggs?

DONALD: Save them for dinner!

NANCY: We’re not having eggs for dinner!

DONALD races out of the apartment and over to the prison cell. TAMMERY looks in on a short, skinny man with frizzled hair. Note: in this next sequence, DONALD’s hand shakes unnaturally throughout all exchanges, a nervous tic caused by his time in the prison. The tic becomes more and more noticeable and rapid as the scene progresses until TAMMERY mentions it.

DONALD: Sorry I’m late.

TAMMERY: No problem. This guy isn’t exactly an urgent matter. You know the policy, though. (He hands DONALD a sealed box)

DONALD: Yeah, sure thing Warden Tammery.

TAMMERY: Donald, how long we been doing this every day? My name’s Bob.

DONALD: In the middle of a prison? Warden makes me feel a bit safer.

He walks into the cell and closes the door. He sits in the chair across from the prisoner. He drops a file onto the table. He opens it up and starts flipping through it.

BRIT: What’s it say in there?

DONALD: Oh, not much.

BRIT: Don’t bloody mess with me, now. What does it say in there?

DONALD: Oh, just stuff. What’s your name?

BRIT: Don’t it say there in your “stuff”? (DONALD shrugs in response) My name’s Brit.

DONALD: Why “Brit”?

BRIT: (BRIT imitates him shrugging.)‘Cause, you know, I’m British. At least, they call me Brit. Never went by it before they did. Just sort of stuck.

DONALD: Who’s “they”?

BRIT: You know, the guys I got picked up with. (DONALD gives him a puzzled look.) Alright, fine then. It all started little less than a month ago, back when I was working at this video store.

He gets up from his chair and begins to reenact the scene. He sorts a stack of videos on a table.

BRIT: Regular Monday afternoon, slow business. Then these three goons walked in. They had knives and all sorts. Came up to the counter with a chocolate bar they had picked up from the counter. Paid with a fiver. I mean, a five dollar bill. I was gonna give them their change when they said to me:

GOON: How’d you like to make more than the two bucks an hour they’re paying you at this joint?

BRIT: And I figured, sure, why not? So the next evening they came in, right when my shift was finished, and shoved me into a van.

The goons grab BRIT and shove him into a large cardboard box, a “van”.

BRIT: Take me down to the docks, they do, and show me this huge warehouse of dough. I mean, huge. So anyways, they tell me to take a small stack as payment, and put the rest of it in the van. What choice do I have? But as I’m loading it up, I see the copper sign on the inside of the van. I didn’t know what was going on! So I just continue loading the money up, and after a while they drive off with it all. I go home and think its over. Then, a week later, they show up to my house, throwing me around, saying someone ratted them out. Then the cops show up and arrest them, and take me in for questioning. That’s how I’m here!

DONALD: Here…in prison?

BRIT: What now?

DONALD: Brit, you’re in a prison cell. Right now.

BRIT: You’re off your rocker.

DONALD: You were in possession of an illegal firearm, with a closet full of shells. And later, a closet full of skeletons. The cops showed up to your house and arrested you for the murder of these “goons”. Six days earlier, you were the one that ratted them out to the police.

BRIT: You’re bloody mad!

DONALD slides a photo out of the folder and across the table. The scene in BRIT’s head changes as the goons walk up to the door and are shot.

BRIT: You’re lying! I didn’t kill nobody! They were gonna kill me, they was. I was just…

DONALD: Brit, you’re a smart man. (He removes a box from under the table and places it between the two of them.) You killed those men.

BRIT: I didn’t do it, I swear!

DONALD: I’ll let you take your time.

BRIT: It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me who did it! You got the wrong guy! It wasn’t me!

Donald stands and walks out of the cell, turning out the lights. A beat, two, three, and from the darkness comes a deafening gunshot.

TAMMERY: Did you make all that up? The whole story about him killing them?

DONALD: No. The guy’s a low-level schizophrenic and a high-level drug addict. Usually a deadly combination.

TAMMERY: Not bad. I think you’ll be ready for the inspection on Christmas.

DONALD: Why wouldn’t I be ready?

TAMMERY: Doesn’t matter. You will be.

DONALD: When’s Christmas?

TAMMERY: Three weeks, Donald.

DONALD: Three weeks? Man, where does autumn go… (pause) Bob, you know this isn’t right, don’t you?

TAMMERY: What’s that supposed to mean?

DONALD: This is all a scam! We’re just telling criminals to kill themselves to save a couple of bucks!

TAMMERY: A couple thousand bucks. Each. And as I seem to remember – Donald, your hand. (DONALD notices his tic and uses his other hand to reach over and stop the shaking) And as I seem to remember, the last time you had a problem with it was when you were first recruited. Now, almost two years later, you got a problem again?

DONALD: It’s just…what if we’ve been the ones in the dark all along, the ones with blood on our hands, instead of them?

TAMMERY: Stop it. You start thinking like that, this whole prison gets shut down. Stick with me, Donald – at least until after Christmas. (DONALD looks down at his feet. TAMMERY puts his arm around him) C’mon, buddy. I’ve got a bottle of bourbon with your name on it.

The final lights go out, and DONALD walks back to his home. The lights in the kitchen are very dim. He stumbles over to the fridge and opens it. NANCY approaches from upstairs.

NANCY: Donald?

DONALD: Do we have any eggs?

NANCY: No, honey.

DONALD: What happened to the eggs?

NANCY: You were supposed to eat them.

DONALD: But I didn’t. So…

NANCY: Come on, sweetie. It’s late.

DONALD: I don’t want to…

NANCY: But it’s past midnight!

DONALD: No, I mean, I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to help people. Because that’s not what I’m really doing. I’m just pushing them farther away. How can you make the criminally insane worse? Put them in a room with a shrink, that’s how. I mean, these people didn’t want to talk to their family, their friends, in the first place. Why would they commit a crime just so they could talk for an hour a day?

NANCY: Sweetie, it’s late, just…

DONALD pushes her arm away, reaching around his shoulder.

DONALD: You never cared about her.

NANCY: What?

DONALD: You never cared about Andrea. You hated my last wife, and you could never stand having a kid. Every time those bills come in the mail, you wonder if I wouldn’t notice if we stopped paying for her.

NANCY: Sweetie, is that alcohol I smell?

DONALD: Bourbon.

She doesn’t say anything. She just takes DONALD by the hand and begins to lead him upstairs.

Scene 2: Small Talk

Lights up on the same setting, save for a small change. The downstage area is now mocked up to appear to be the helm of a ship. DONALD walks out of his house (lights out) and walks over to the jail cell. A janitor mops up the floor. TAMMERY sits in the chair BRIT once sat in. DONALD stops at the door to the cell, taking in the haunting air yet to leave the room. TAMMERY acts as if he doesn’t notice him. Note: DONALD’s nervous tic is once again apparent here, his hand shaking more and more rapidly until TAMMERY stops him.

TAMMERY: Dragged out the body about two hours ago. Jose here’s been mopping up the mess your little pea shooter left. (looking up) You’re here early.

DONALD: Wanted to make up for yesterday. Feel awful, though. (to Jose) Hi, Jose.

TAMMERY: Hah! That’s my father’s imported bourbon at work. Yessir, made in our own basement!

DONALD: I thought you said it was imported.

TAMMERY: Hmm? Ah, well, he always said it was. Then again, he also said the Russians would invade Chicago. That only almost happened. (pause) So, are you over that breakdown you had yesterday?

DONALD: That wasn’t a breakdown.

TAMMERY: It was a pretty bad breakdown.

DONALD: No, a pretty bad breakdown was when you strangled a prisoner.

TAMMERY: When did I do that?

DONALD: Remember the third Philson brother?

TAMMERY: Oh yeah! Ah, well, I was drunk then.

DONALD: You’re drunk everyday.

TAMMERY: Not every day…every other day.

DONALD: So, when’s the inspection?

TAMMERY: Less than three weeks, Doc. Christmas Day.

DONALD: Three weeks? I better clean up my act.

TAMMERY: Word is the Big Fish himself will be coming around this year, “to celebrate the glorious second anniversary of the Bullet Act!”

DONALD: Him? I’d like to give him a piece of my mind about this whole dilemma.

TAMMERY: Dilemma? There isn’t a dilemma.

DONALD: Of course there is! The first year they closed the smaller prisons, last year it was the asylums, now they’ve gone and done the same to the homes for the juvenile! And the orphanages! They’re sending orphans to prison!

TAMMERY: Donald, look – there is no dilemma.

DONALD: Are you listening to me?

TAMMERY: Donald! There is no dilemma. (DONALD shuts up and sulks back in his chair) You’re hand is shaking again.

DONALD: (Reaches over and calms his hand) Sorry.

TAMMERY: Don’t be sorry, just get someone to look at that goddamn thing.

DONALD: I’ve got it under control.

TAMMERY: It’s clearly getting worse, Donald. I haven’t seen you shake more than you did during the session yesterday.

DONALD: It’s this place. Every time I step into this building, the only thing I want is to get out.

TAMMERY: So it only happens to you in here.

DONALD: Right.

TAMMERY: And to solve the problem you…shake your hand.

DONALD: I don’t know how nervous tics work, Bob.

TAMMERY: You’re a psychiatrist!

DONALD, defeated, sighs and crosses his arms.

TAMMERY: You’re starting to get sloppy. (he hands him a file) Something to polish up your act.

TAMMERY walks out of the room. JAMILE is walked into the cell and thrown into the chair across from DONALD. JOSE walks in with a tray of food and places it next to JAMILE.

DONALD: Morning, Jose.

JOSE nods to DONALD, then files out of the room. The door shuts and they are alone.

JAMILE: Where’s my phone call?

DONALD: You didn’t get a phone call?

JAMILE: I want my…I want another phone call.

DONALD: You can negotiate with the Warden later in the –

JAMILE: It was all the kid’s fault!

DONALD: What kid?

JAMILE: …Just give me my phone call!

DONALD: Tell me who this “kid” is and maybe we can negotiate.

JAMILE: It was him! He sold us out!

DONALD: A child sold you out?

JAMILE: Yeah!

DONALD: Look, I’m not sure if you know how things work in jail, but when your crime is foiled by a child, you don’t exactly brag about it.

JAMILE: You listen, this is no kid. (whispering) He’s got some brains.

DONALD: Jamile, you –

JAMILE: He’s here! He’s in this prison. I gotta get out. He’s gonna find me, and he’s gonna find you, and get us both!

A beat, two, three, four, then:

DONALD: You’ve been arrested on grounds of armed robbery.

JAMILE: No, you listen to me!

DONALD slides the box over to JAMILE.

DONALD: You have the right to take your life if you so wish.

JAMILE: Don’t make me –

DONALD: You have as long as you like to make your decision.

DONALD gets up to leave. JAMILE eyes the gun, picks it up, and shoots DONALD in the chest. DONALD falls to the floor and remains there. JAMILE panics and backs into a corner. Two men come in and take him by the arms. He screams in horror as they carry him out of the cell and away.

DONALD awakes in a blue light. He walks over to the ship’s helm and dreamily spins the wheel, steering the mighty vessel as it rocks back and forth. He looks off into the great blue with a carefree spirit. From stage left walks a young girl. She pulls on DONALD’s pant leg to get his attention.

ANDREA: Daddy? Where are we going now?

DONALD: Well, where would you rather go; Spain, Africa, or Italy?

ANDREA: Spain!

DONALD: Why Spain?

ANDREA: Because then I can speak Spanish to the people.

DONALD: You can speak Spanish?

ANDREA: Yeah! Momma taught me! Hola, senor.

DONALD: Hola, senorita. Que hora es?

ANDREA: Um…si?

DONALD bursts out laughing. He picks up ANDREA and points toward the horizon.

DONALD: Alright, then. To Spain!

ANDREA: Spain!

Lights out on the ship helm. DONALD cross over and awakes in the cell, TAMMERY shaking him awake.

TAMMERY: Donald? Donald, are you okay?

DONALD sits up and opens his shirt, revealing his bulletproof vest. He feels the spot where the bullet hit him, square in the chest.

DONALD: Glad I wore this today.

TAMMERY: Jesus, you gave me a scare. You were out for a minute! Where the hell were you?

DONALD: Somewhere…interesting.

TAMMERY: Get the hell off the floor and take the day off. We’ll start with someone else tomorrow.

DONALD: Hold on a minute. That’s it? You’re just going to send me home? I got shot five times in a day last year! You were there!

TAMMERY: You should take some time off.

DONALD: No, no, you listen to me! There was something that guy said, something about a kid. How many children have been admitted in the last week?

TAMMERY: I don’t think I should tell you.

DONALD: I asked you a question, Warden! As chief psychiatrist, I have access to any and all files detailing anything in or about this prison.

TAMMERY: I don’t have to do what you say.

DONALD: No, but while you may give the orders around here, you know I can do a hell of alot more damage to your job than a bullet can to me.

A beat, two, three, four, five, then TAMMERY hurries out of the room. DONALD sighs and sits down in one of the chairs. TAMMERY hurries back in with a file and hands it to DONALD.

TAMMERY: In the last week, there have been seven kids admitted into the prison. Six of them chose the gun. One’s still in his cell.

DONALD skims the file. He picks it up and hurries out of the room. TAMMERY yells to him:

TAMMERY: No one’s offered him the gun yet!

Scene 3: The New Patient

TAMMERY exits, and DONALD renters as if entering a new room. By this point the ship’s helm has been moved. From stage right enters TIMMY, who lays down on the bed in the corner. DONALD sits down in the chair across the room. He places the box with the gun in it under the table. Note: after flashing back to reality after TIMMY’s story, DONALD’s hand shakes uncontrollably.

DONALD: Timmy Baker?

TIMMY looks up at the man in the chair.

TIMMY: Who wants to know?

DONALD: I’m Dr. Donald Hoffman, the chief psychiatrist of this prison.

TIMMY sulks out of bed and over to the chair across from DONALD.

TIMMY: So? Where is it?

DONALD: I’m sorry?

TIMMY: Y’know. (makes a gun with his hand and “shoots” himself in the head)

DONALD: I’m not here about that.

TIMMY: Of course you’re not. You’re gonna talk to me first, and then I’m gonna kill myself. So you don’t have to cut your payroll for my lunch money.

DONALD: And how exactly do you know this?

TIMMY: Logical course of action. I mean, you’re not the one who passed this dumb Bullet Act two years ago. You had dreams. Dreams require a payment. You’re not gonna sacrifice your dreams for (said totally deadpan) a barrel full of goo made of all the proteins and vitamins an average prisoners needs for a good, healthy day.

DONALD: …I’ve been hearing about you from some of my other patients.

TIMMY: You gave up your dreams, Doc. I can tell. What were your dreams?

DONALD: Listen, you obviously don’t want to talk to me, so why don’t you just tell me why you’re so popular among the criminal class and this will all be over.

TIMMY: No, Doc, I do wanna talk to you. You, man, you seem pretty anxious to get out of here. Y’see, I can read people. I’ve been able to since I was a kid. Must’ve been, I dunno, eight? Figured out that Frank was leaving my mom.

DONALD: And Frank was your dad?

TIMMY: No dad of mine beats his wife like a wiffle ball every night and gives more shit to his son than his toilet bowl.

DONALD: Tell me more about your mother.

TIMMY: My mom? Not much to tell. Nice smile. Blonde. Great cook. Pretty. Dead.

DONALD: I’m sure she was a very nice woman. What about your…Frank? You mentioned him leaving you and your mom?

TIMMY: No, not me. He took me.

He steps out of his seat and downstage. He begins to act out the story as he tells it.

TIMMY: They had been fighting seriously for about two weeks now. I already knew what was going on.

FRANK steps onto the stage and stands frozen as TIMMY analyzes him.

TIMMY: Before then, he just wore tank tops and sweatpants, but he started dressing in an army jacket and jeans. He was ready to make a run for the border if he needed. In his closet was a suitcase full of clothes, a couple DVDs, and of course his drug stash. He left it open so it’d be easy to stuff the rest of his things in. He was constantly sober, as well. A man on the run can’t be drunk.

DONALD: Was he running?

TIMMY: I mentioned the drugs? He was probably more worried that, if Mom called the cops, they would take his stash rather than charge him for abuse.

DONALD: How do you know so much about the criminal mind?

TIMMY: (Knocks on his own head) What do you think I’m doing in here?

DONALD: So, when did he leave?

TIMMY: There was this one night. My mom had done something, I don’t know what, but Frank…he wasn’t happy about it. He came storming into the living room.

FRANK unfreezes and rushes at TIMMY, grabbing him by the ear.

FRANK: That’s it! I’m taking Timmy and moving to Montauk, you crazy bitch!

TIMMY: (childishly) Ow! Stop it! Mom!

FRANK: Shut your mouth, boy! Your mother’s not gonna bother us men anymore.

TIMMY: Mom! Make him stop!

MOTHER: (offstage) Frank, just stop this, please.

FRANK: Get away from that phone!

MOTHER: I wasn’t –

FRANK: You aren’t calling the cops on me. I’m taking what’s rightfully mine! You can’t stop me!

FRANK freezes again and TIMMY steps out of the scene.

DONALD: That’s…

TIMMY: Horrible? Depressing? Miserable?

DONALD: …Psychologically intriguing. How does Frank treating you as nothing but a possession make you feel?

TIMMY: Aren’t we all just someone else’s possession, Doc?

DONALD sits silent, at a loss for words. A beat, two, three, four.

TIMMY: (noticing hand) You got the jitters, Doc?

DONALD reaches over and stops his hand. Embarrassed, he gets up and begins to gather his things.

DONALD: I have another patient. We’ll continue this again tomorrow.

TIMMY: Great. See ya then, Doc.

DONALD nods awkwardly and strolls slowly out of the cell. He unconsciously leaves the box with the gun in it under the table. The door slams shut behind him. Blackout.

Scene 4: The Wife Problem

Lights up in the household kitchen. NANCY once again prepares scrambled eggs for DONALD, who reads a book quietly at the table.

NANCY: I ironed that nice shirt that your aunt gave to you, sweetie. I think you should wear it next week for dinner.

DONALD: What? Why?

NANCY: Donald! Sharon and her boyfriend are coming over. Don’t you remember?

DONALD: Of course I do.

NANCY: No you don’t. You forget everything I say. You know, if you didn’t have your head in so many books –

DONALD: Nancy! I leave for work in ten minutes. Can I just eat my eggs?

NANCY: Here! Help yourself!

She tosses an uncooked egg onto the table. It cracks and the yolk spills everywhere.

DONALD: Nancy!

NANCY: Donald, I am tired of you talking to my as if I’m a brick wall!

DONALD: Nancy, I am a very busy man, with a whole prison-full of criminals as my clients, so excuse me if I don’t always have time to talk.

NANCY: It’s not just that, Donald. Our relationship is as broken as those eggshells.

She storms off upstairs. DONALD wipes the egg off of the table with a dishtowel. He picks up his belongings and heads out the door hastily. After the door slams, a ssssss sound is heard as the eggs begins to overcook. Lights out.

Lights up on the jail cell. TIMMY sits in the chair, awaiting DONALD. He stumbles in and stops when he sees the boy in the chair.

TIMMY: You’re up early.

DONALD: I was going to say the same thing (he sits down).

TIMMY: You ever tried sleeping in a church? That’s sort of what its like here. Loud with echoes even without sound.

DONALD: That must have been the first time I’ve ever heard a prison compared to a church.

TIMMY: Don’t seem so different. A church is where people go because of their sins. What’s a jail?

DONALD: A place people go to because of how they’ve sinned.

TIMMY: A confessional is a tiny, dark room where you think about what you’ve done. What’s a cell?

DONALD: A place for you to rethink your crimes.

TIMMY: A churchyard is filled with dead bodies. What’s this prison?

DONALD goes silent, the mild joy from this exchange washed quickly away. TIMMY leans back, satisfied with what he’s said.

TIMMY: Where were we yesterday?

He steps out of his chair and walks downstage.

TIMMY: Frank was in the process of dragging me away…

FRANK rushes in and continues the scene.

FRANK: I’m taking what’s rightfully mine! You can’t stop me!

MOTHER: Frank…please…

FRANK: Or what? You’re gonna shoot me?

A gun clicks offstage and FRANK suddenly becomes uneasy.

FRANK: Why do you have that?

MOTHER: Shut up, Frank.

FRANK: Where the hell did you get that?

DONALD: Wait, why did your mother have a gun?

TIMMY: (breaking character) She may have been desperate, but she wasn’t stupid. She bought it about a week before this night.

DONALD: Continue.

MOTHER: Timmy, baby, come to Mama.

FRANK: You put that down right now.

TIMMY: Mama.

FRANK: Shut up!

MOTHER: No, you shut up, Frank!

FRANK: Are you gonna shoot me? Are you? Then do it! Just –

The door to the cell opens and GUARD #3 walks in with a tray of food.

GUARD #3: Um…

DONALD: What are you doing here?

GUARD #3: Jose had to take work off. Told me to fill his spot.

TAMMERY: (outside the cell) Who the hell is Jose?

GUARD #3: The janitor. Worked here for ten years.

TAMMERY: Never heard of him.

DONALD: All right. Leave it there.

The guard brings the food to the table and sets it next to TIMMY’s chair. He then files quickly out of the room.

DONALD: (to TIMMY) Continue.

FRANK: Are you gonna shoot me? Are you? Then do it! Just do it! Keep your stupid kid and bury me in the ground!

A beat, two, three, four, five, then crying from offstage. The gun is tossed onto the floor.

FRANK: (to Timmy) Stay here. I’ll be pulling up the truck.

TIMMY: (breaking character) At this point, my mom was a mess. She had just given up. But not me. I couldn’t give up for her. I saw the gun on the floor and I took it. (he reaches over and pockets the firearm) Frank came back into the room and grabbed me. We drove off. We were about to cross the border. Traffic was piled up. We must’ve been stuck there for fifteen, twenty minutes before I did it.

FRANK walks up to TIMMY and stands face-to-face with him. TIMMY slowly removes the gun from his pocket and brings it to FRANK’s chest. A gunshot is heard, and FRANK drops to the ground, dead.

DONALD: What did you do?

TIMMY walks back into the cell and sits down across from DONALD.

TIMMY: We’ll get to that. But what’s important was how I shot him. He left his guard down. A man is most vulnerable when he’s on the run. Because while his feet haven’t given up, his will has. Frank wanted me to shoot him. He had been convinced that it was the easiest thing. He had the gun, the urge to do it. But who gave him the bullet? Who allowed him to actually carry out that fantasy?

DONALD gapes in disbelief at what TIMMY has just said.

TIMMY: Your hand’s pretty calm today.

DONALD looks down at his hand. He feels it with the other, troubled.

TIMMY: I think you like talking to me, Doc. You see some of yourself in me. Or what you would be if you didn’t have so many rules.

DONALD: (fumbling) Could you give me a minute?

TIMMY: Take your time.

DONALD gets out of his seat and walks out of the cell. TIMMY strolls over to his bed and lies back. DONALD walks over to TAMMERY, who’s waiting outside of the cell bars.

TAMMERY: Damn, this kid’s crazy.

DONALD: (reassuring himself) Yeah, he’s crazy.

TAMMERY: We can give one of the newbies to him. You need better practice for next week.

DONALD: No, I need to work with him.

TAMMERY: Why?

DONALD: Because, Bob, I know what makes people crazy. But I can’t read anything on this kid. So how can I work when I know that I don’t know enough?

TAMMERY: May I suggest the Philson Maneuver?

DONALD: No, not yet.

TAMMERY: I mean, now is the time –

DONALD: I don’t want to shoot him, Bob, not yet. If we’re in this prison for our sins, I’d rather have a good reason for committing another.

TAMMERY: I never knew you as a religious man.

DONALD: I’ll believe in a man in the sky watching us all until someone convinces me that he can’t strike lightning upon my head.

TAMMERY: Just do your job.

DONALD recomposes himself and walks back into the cell.

DONALD: So, you were saying –

TIMMY: We’re done here today, Doc.

DONALD: What?

TIMMY: We’re done. Go home. Take a shower. Kiss your wife.

DONALD, baffled, retreats back out of the cell and closes the door. He turns to TAMMERY and simply shrugs, then walks out of the scene. Lights out.

Lights up again on the house. NANCY stands in the kitchen. DONALD walks in quietly. They stare each other down.

DONALD: I was out of line.

NANCY: Yes, you were.

DONALD: And I’m sorry.

NANCY: Sorry’s not good enough anymore.

DONALD: Well, what do you want?

NANCY: I want respect.

DONALD: I’ve given you respect.

NANCY: You haven’t given me a thing, Donald! You don’t listen to me, you don’t have any manners around me. I mean, it’s as if I’m not even your wife anymore.

DONALD: You know it’s not like that.

NANCY: But it is! You’re so invested in your work you don’t even talk to me! It’s always just rant after rant about whatever dumb thing they’ve done to expand the Bullet Act! You’ve become so selfish and arrogant –

DONALD: Hey! You know why the Bullet Act pisses me off? Because I had a plan, I had dreams, and then everything changed. Then the Bullet Act was passed, and I was locked up just like another damn prisoner in a jail for twelve hours a day. So don’t you dare tell me that I’ve been selfish, and that I’ve been arrogant, when I’ve been doing everything I can for our daughter!

NANCY doesn’t say anything. She just looks at DONALD sadly, then turns around and walks upstairs. Blackout.

End of Act One

Act Two
Scene 5: Philson Maneuver

Lights up on the prison cell. TIMMY sits in the chair, awaiting DONALD, who walks in and over to TAMMERY.

DONALD: Let’s do it.

TAMMERY: Do what?

DONALD: You know what.

TAMMERY takes a handgun out of his back pocket and hands it to DONALD.

TAMMERY: You sure about this?

DONALD: You suggested it.

TAMMERY: That was before. This is now.

DONALD: That kid’s worse than crazy. We need to control him. This is the easiest way.

TAMMERY: But is it the best way? Donald, I’m afraid this kid’s been messing with you. He’s telling you stuff, twisting your mind.

DONALD: Bob, I’m a psychiatrist. I think my degree speaks for itself when I say my mind is just fine.

DONALD begins to walk away from TAMMERY. He grabs DONALD’s arm and looks him in the eye.

TAMMERY: Donald, Nancy called me. If something’s wrong –

DONALD: (furious) Nancy is – (calms down) not part of the problem. Don’t bring my family into business. So why don’t you let me do what I’m getting paid for?

DONALD walks into the cell and closes the door. He whips out the gun and points it right at TIMMY.

TIMMY: Doc, you’re late for our appointment.

DONALD: I’ve got a gun, just like all the others. One bullet. Now how do you like the odds if the gun’s in my hand?

TAMMERY: Donald, come on, this isn’t right.

TAMMERY tries to open the cell door, but it’s locked shut. He begins to look for his keys, but stops when he sees DONALD drop them onto the floor – inside the cell, just out of his reach.

TAMMERY: Donald, let me in this instant! Donald!

TIMMY: I believe you psychiatrists refer to this as the Philson Maneuver? The name comes from the infamous Philson brother, tried for multiple counts of murder. Two of them walked, the third imprisoned in this very facility. If I remember correctly, the other two brothers broke into this prison for the sole purpose of killing their third sibling, so he couldn’t talk. When they got caught, the second brother pointed a gun at the first and convinced him to shoot himself. This worked, and after the second brother killed himself in turn, psychiatrists realized they could apply this to Bullet Treatment. Use it to get specific information out of patients in the event they weren’t talking. Flip the tables on them. Only see, right now this isn’t working in your favor. You don’t want anything. Well, nothing besides one key answer to your burning question, Doc: What am I doing to you?

Outside the cell, TAMMERY scrambles for his radio.

TAMMERY: I need guards and a set of keys down in the psych room. Now!

His confidence waning, DONALD’s hand begins to shake.

TIMMY: Oh, I’m sorry, Doc. Are you getting the jitters again? Did I scare you? (changing tactics) Did you think you were actually in charge here?

Suddenly, TIMMY removes a gun of his own from under the table and points it right at DONALD. The two have a standoff with each other as TIMMY continues:

TIMMY: You’re probably wondering how I got this, aren’t you? Well, here comes the big twist, Doc: You left it here. That first day when you came to see me? What was that other guys name, Jamile? Oh, I remember him. Helped him out with a bank robbery. When he went looking for workers, I pointed him towards this schizophrenic guy, or whatever. I think his name was Brit? Oh, you had him too, didn’t you? Anyways, Brit killed most of the robbers and ratted out Jamile without even knowing it. He kept his stash of the money in the basement, so I snuck in and took it before the cops got there. Of course, I got seen sneaking away by two officers driving by.. Next thing I know, the verdict’s been passed and I’m lying on a bed made of metal while boys upstairs serenade me with their screams as thugs treat them like their least favorite toy.

Outside, two guards come in with a huge rings of keys and begin to search through them with TAMMERY.

TIMMY: Anyways, you came looking for me after you connected all of the dots. You knew something was up. And then I began to tell you my story. And you loved it. You loved it so very much. And you noticed something. I was giving you some perspective. And then you had the gun in your hand. The urge to do it. And I gave you the ammo. You left the gun there without even noticing it. You probably didn’t even realize you brought it in the first place. Because you wanted it, Doc. You wanted me out of this hellhole.

TAMMERY and the two guards rush in and grab TIMMY. The two guards drag him out of the room, but he falls flat on the floor. They pick him up and take him offstage.

TAMMERY: What the hell was that? Have you lost your mind? He could’ve…you left a gun? Donald, that’s a crime punishable for up to forty years! What am I supposed to do, just let that slide? Donald? Donald, inspection is in two days! If the Big Fish comes by, what do I tell him? Donald?

DONALD sits in the chair and doesn’t say a word. TAMMERY becomes frustrated and leaves. From out of the shadows appears TIMMY, a ghost in DONALD’s head.

TIMMY: Oh, and now I’m in your head, too? I’ve really gotten to you, haven’t I? You don’t deserve clarity, Doc. What you deserve is much worse.

Lights slowly dim, filling the stage with darkness until a solitary spotlight focuses on DONALD’s hand, nervously shaking. Then, blackout.

Scene 6: The Inspection

Lights up on the cell, empty. From offstage a door is heard opening, and DONALD, TAMMERY, and two politicians walk in. DONALD sets up his stuff on the cell table while the men take their seats behind the bars.

TAMMERY: So, we’re just gonna forget what happened?

DONALD: Is there another option?

TAMMERY: Y’know, Donald, there is. I just haven’t taken that path because you’re my friend.

DONALD: Maybe you should’ve chosen better friends.

DONALD turns away.

TAMMERY: Hold it.

TAMMERY reaches into his pocket and pulls out a tiny earpiece. He takes DONALD’s hand and places it in his palm.

DONALD: What’s this?

TAMMERY: Earpiece communicator. I need to be able to talk to you without letting our audience know that we’re conspiring.

DONALD: Sure this isn’t just to keep me in check?

TAMMERY doesn’t respond, but simply walks out of the room and joins the gentlemen. A guard brings in a prisoner and sits him down across from DONALD.

DONALD: Merry Christmas, gentlemen. My name is Dr. Donald Hoffman, chief psychiatrist here at Barrowman Prison. Now that you’ve taken a tour of the facilities, we have a special demonstration for you. I will be analyzing this man, Mr. Simon Bearmont, who we have saved just for you. At the end of this session, he will be offered the choice.

DONALD sits down in the chair. As he prepares, the door opens and MR. FISCHMAN walks in, taking his seat in the audience.

DONALD: Hello there, Simon.

SIMON doesn’t speak. He just sits and looks at his lap.

DONALD: Simon?

Silence. DONALD puts his hand to his ear.

DONALD: (to TAMMERY) What’s wrong with him?

TAMMERY: (responding) His tongue’s been cut out, probably by himself.

DONALD: (to SIMON) Sorry about that, Simon.

An imaginary TIMMY jumps into the scene and stands behind SIMON.

TIMMY: Why are you apologizing?

DONALD: I understand you are here under charges of…sexual assault?

TIMMY: You can’t be taking this seriously. Tammery’s giving you an easy job.

DONALD: Does that have any relation to your medication?

TIMMY: He’s a mute nuthead seduced by narcotics! This isn’t worth your time!

DONALD: Your doctor was encouraging you to overdose, right?

TIMMY: Nobody respects you anymore. You’re just a tool. A possession.

DONALD: How does that make you feel?

TIMMY: I’ll bet you one grand this is a setup. Turn around to leave and he’ll shoot himself in the head.

DONALD: Why don’t you take some time to think about it?

DONALD slides the box over to SIMON. He turns around to leave. SIMON grabs the gun and shoots himself right in the head. A beat, two, three, then the politicians get to their feet and applaud. DONALD turns around to face the imaginary TIMMY.

TIMMY: You owe me one grand. Look at them! They don’t know the difference between a good psychiatrist or a bad psychologist. Tammery’s turned against you for his own personal gain. Feel your pocket.

DONALD reaches into his pocket brings out a single bullet.

TIMMY: You see that? A single bullet. The gun’s still on the table. All you have to do is pick it up pull the trigger.

DONALD picks up the pistol and loads it.

TIMMY: Who will it be? The friend who’s taken your trust for granted? Or him? That there’s the Big Fish himself. He’s the one that’s brought all of this pain and suffering.

DONALD turns around and aims the gun at MR. FISCHMAN.

TIMMY: He’s the one who crushed your dreams. Dreams are equal in blood.

DONALD fires the gun. The lights go out, then come back on moments before he took the shot. He eyes the gun once again. TAMMERY comes up behind and pats him on the back.

TAMMERY: Nice job.

DONALD smiles and puts the gun back on the table. He gathers his things and begins to walk quickly out of the cell when MR. FISCHMAN interrupts him.

MR. FISCHMAN: Dr. Hoffman?

DONALD: Yes?

He puts out his hand. DONALD takes and shakes it.

MR. FISCHMAN: Hi. I’m Henry Fischman.

DONALD: I know who you are.

MR. FISCHMAN: Well, it’s easily possible that you might not.

DONALD: Believe me, I know who the man responsible for every paycheck that goes towards my job and this prison is.

MR. FISCHMAN laughs vigorously at this. DONALD, however, keeps a straight face.

MR. FISCHMAN: So, Dr. Hoffman, if you don’t mind me asking…you see a lot of dead bodies every day, right?

DONALD: Sure.

MR. FISCHMAN: May I ask how many men you’ve killed?

DONALD: I wouldn’t say that I’ve killed them.

MR. FISCHMAN: No, of course not. But…how many would you say bite the bullet every day? Just curious.

DONALD: Maybe a couple dozen.

MR. FISCHMAN: A couple dozen…(his eyes gleam at this remark) That’s an impressive number.

DONALD: Of course, it’s a number counting men that have died.

MR. FISCHMAN: Right, of course…(a beat, two, three, then:) Great talking with you, Doc.

He turns and leaves the cell. The other men leave the room and the lights turn off.

Scene 7: Dinner Party

Lights up on the house. Downstage, a table has been set up, with SHARON already seated. DONALD walks into NANCY working frantically in the kitchen, wearing a nice dress.

NANCY: There you are! Put your stuff down and help me out.

DONALD: What for?

NANCY: Donald! Sharon and her boyfriend are over. They’re already waiting for us in the dining room. Put on a new tie or something.

Lights out in the kitchen. DONALD and NANCY walk downstage together and enter the dining room. NANCY hands a glass of wine to SHARON.

SHARON: Donald, so nice to see you.

DONALD grunts and smiles at her.

NANCY: Sharon, what happened to Henry?

SHARON: Oh, he went to go find the bathroom. He probably got lost or something. So, Donald, how’d the inspection go today?

DONALD: Fine. How did you –

NANCY: Oh, that’s right! Henry was there, wasn’t he? Honey, I’ve been trying to remember this for weeks.

MR. FISCHMAN walks into the dining room from stage right. Both SHARON and NANCY get up to greet him.

SHARON: Oh, Henry! Meet Dr. Donald Hoffman. Donald, this is my boyfriend, Mr. Henry Fischman!

DONALD remains seated, refusing to get up.

DONALD: Hi.

MR. FISCHMAN: Donald! Nice to see you again. May I just say, you did very well in the inspection today.

DONALD: Thank you, sir.

MR. FISCHMAN: Oh, please, Donald. Call me Henry!

DONALD: Sure.

MR. FISCHMAN: Although, I must say, it was a bit of a hasty job. I mean, I remember this one guy over at Sile Prison went deep into this one guy’s past and dug up some memories that made him want to save himself. Can you believe it? Of course I suppose it would’ve saved some money to just convince the prisoner to kill himself, but that’s not the line of work we’re in, is it?

Everyone laughs at this comment, except for DONALD. Once all the laughter has died down, he simply gives a quiet:

DONALD: Heh.

SHARON: Oh, Henry, tell the story about how you thought up the idea for the Bullet Act!

NANCY: Oh, I don’t know if he should –

SHARON: Oh, no, you have to hear this story, Nancy.

MR. FISCHMAN: Well, alright…

MR. FISCHMAN gets up from his seat and begins to tell the story.

MR. FISCHMAN: I was walking down the street one day in a bad part of town. All around me, I saw the homeless and depressed. Nothing but street trash for as far as the eye could see. A crowd of ragged men stood in a circle, cheering and yelling as one man hit another relentlessly. I saw a pair of children playing in a dumpster. And then I saw this one man. Must’ve been, I don’t know, twenty-two? Probably an art school dropout who had big dreams until his family disowned him and he couldn’t pay for college. Wound up on the streets just by bad luck. And in his hand was a gun. Over and over again he unloaded and reloaded the single bullet that was in the gun. Over and over again he did this. And he had this look in his eye. Like it wasn’t just him that had given up; everything had given up. He couldn’t take it anymore, he wanted to kill himself. But like any other man, he was scared. He didn’t know what was waiting for him on the other side. Then he looked up, right at me. And I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I could do. So I just gave him this little look, that I would’ve interpreted to mean, “It’s okay. You can do it”. I turned the corner and kept walking. A minute passed, and from around corner I heard a gunshot go off. Just one. And with that gunshot came a realization. I realized that no one wants to live like that, and that every man or woman on this earth should have their own gun, with their own bullet, to take their life if they so wish.

He takes his wine glass and chugs the rest of it. SHARON bursts into applause.

SHARON: Isn’t that just the best?

MR. FISCHMAN retaks his seat and settles in.

DONALD: You asshole.

MR. FISCHMAN: What?

DONALD: (rising to his feet) You think you know what that man wanted? I’ll tell you what he wanted: he wanted to be saved. He wanted someone to take him off the streets and save him from that miserable life, so he wouldn’t have to use that gun! He wasn’t asking you for approval, he was asking you for help! And you turned him away! Worse, you killed him! You killed him!

MR. FISCHMAN: I would expect a better analysis from a psychiatrist.

DONALD: I don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know murder when I see it!

MR. FISCHMAN: You know how many lives I’ve helped outside and inside prisons around the country?

DONALD: Killing orphans is helpful?

MR. FISCHMAN: They made their own choice!

DONALD: But you made them make it!

SHARON starts to cry. Both men stop. A beat, then MR. FISCHMAN drags DONALD to a corner.

MR. FISCHMAN: (whispering) Look, we both know the reality of the situation. America’s crime rate has gone nowhere but up since 2013. There are just too many convicted men to keep track of in those cells. That’s the real purpose of the Bullet Act. So we can diminish the herd. Off a couple of them, leave enough alive (overlap) so the public doesn’t turn against for men who just made some bad decision. There isn’t any other option! What do you think we should do?

DONALD: (overlapping) You started this? This scam is all because of you? Those men were given another chance and it turns out that you’ve been lying to their faces the whole time? What kind of monster are you? (pause) How about you do this: get out of my house?

NANCY: What? Donald –

DONALD: You get out of my house, buy your own gun and shoot yourself in the goddamn face. I bet you’ll relish in it, you shit!

NANCY: Donald, what are you –

DONALD: You heard me! You two! Get out!

MR. FISCHMAN and SHARON get up hastily and leave the room. MR. FISCHMAN turns to DONALD before exiting.

MR. FISCHMAN: You just lost your job, Doctor.

He exits. DONALD is left standing in the dining room, with NANCY in the chair next to him, her face in her hands. DONALD walks out of the room and walks back in with his coat.

NANCY: Where are you going?

DONALD: To the prison. I’ll be back before midnight.

NANCY: Donald?

DONALD: What?

NANCY: Don’t come back.

A beat, two, three, then DONALD leaves the room. Blackout.

Scene 8: Breakout

Lights up on the cell. The table and chairs have been removed. TIMMY is on his knees in the center of the floor, his hands and ankles cuffed. Jose sits at a desk outside the cell. Two guard enter the room.

JOSE: Leave your keys here, boys. We’ve got this kid under maximum security. Your guns, too.

The guards each remove their own key rings and handguns from their belts and leave them on the table. JOSE unlocks the door for them and they enter. The door slams shut behind them.

GUARD #1: So, who’s this kid, then?

GUARD #2: He’s the boy that tried to shoot the doc.

GUARD #1: Shoot him? We don’t allow that kind of behavior around here.

GUARD #2: Guess we’ll have to teach you a real lesson, huh?

TIMMY mumbles inaudibly. GUARD #1 leans to hear him.

GUARD #1: What’s that, squeaky?

TIMMY: You know what you two are?

GUARD #1 looks at #2 and laughs.

GUARD #1: No, squeaky. What are we?

TIMMY: You’re thugs. Just a shell of a man with a club. You’ve got brawn, but no brain. You know what I am?

GUARD #2: No. What are you?

TIMMY: I’m a criminal. I hurt people for fun. I exploit businesses for personal gain. Acts of violence are just a means to an end for me. I’m the one that’s been locked in here for more than a month. You prison guards have grown soft. I bet you don’t even have any riot gear locked in this place. Your armory’s got maybe a dozen guns? You don’t even wear facemasks anymore. Suppose a criminal with a gun didn’t shoot for the chest. What if they aimed for your head, shooting a hot piece of lead right into your face, drilling into your flesh until it lodged in your brain. What then?

GUARD #1: Well, I guess I’m just lucky, punk.

TIMMY mumbles quietly again.

GUARD #1: What’s that, now?

When GUARD #1 leans down to his face, TIMMY chokes him with the chain of his handcuffs. TIMMY swings GUARD #1 around and breaks his neck. TIMMY throws the body of GUARD #1 at GUARD #2, distracting him.. He rushes towards GUARD #2 and throws him against the wall, smashing his face against it again and again and again. GUARD #2 collapses. TIMMY then pulls out a set of keys from within his shoe. He unlocks the handcuffs and runs out of the room. JOSE runs at him and tries to stop him, but TIMMY picks up on of the guards’ guns and shoots him. HE runs offstage in a hurry.

Seconds later, TAMMERY runs in.

TAMMERY: Dammit!

DONALD runs in after him.

DONALD: What happened?

TAMMERY: Baker busted out. Killed these guys. (into his radio) Guard tower! We’ve got an escaped prisoner! Stop him!

Lights up on downstage, where a prison guard sits in the tower, talking into his radio.

GUARD #3: ‘Fraid I can’t do that, sir.

TAMMERY: Say what?

GUARD #3: Well, ol’ Timmy Baker can’t exactly break out of a prison like this without some help, can he?

TAMMERY: Dammit! The guard’s working with him!

Downstage, TIMMY walks in on GUARD #3.

GUARD #3: Hey, man, what are you doing up here? They’re gonna –

The lights go out downstage and GUARD #3 is heard screaming. The radio transmits static.

TAMMERY: How the hell did he get out?

DONALD: I don’t know! You’re the warden! I’m just a…

TIMMY pops up in DONALD’s head.

TIMMY: …A psychiatrist.

Two guards pop into DONALD’s memory, holding TIMMY.

TIMMY: When we were having our little Mexican standoff in the cell, you dropped the keys. When my buddy the prison guard threw me on the ground (TIMMY and the guards reenact the scene) I grabbed the keys and hid them in my shoe. It could’ve just stole one of the keys off the guards if you hadn’t raised security, but you were always a tough egg to crack, Doc.

TIMMY and the guards drift off into the shadows. DONALD jumps at the sound of his phone ringing he picks it up and answers:

DONALD: Hello?

TIMMY: What’s up, Doc?

TAMMERY: Who’s that?

DONALD: How’d did you get this number?

TIMMY: From your file.

DONALD: What file?

TIMMY: Oh, doesn’t matter. We can discuss that when you find me.

DONALD: Where are you?

TIMMY: I believe you’re familiar with Southern County Hospital?

DONALD’s eyes widen. His hand, still holding the phone, shakes uncontrollably. A beat, two, three, four, then:

TIMMY: Doc?

DONALD closes the phone and heads out the door.

TAMMERY: Where are you going?

DONALD: To get the boy.

TAMMERY: Why?

DONALD: Because he has hurt me, my family, these men at your feet, and now he’s gone and killed Jose!

DONALD exits. TAMMERY shakes his head and sighs. A puzzled look crosses his face.

TAMMERY: Who the hell is Jose?

Blackout.

Scene 9: Southern County Hospital

DONALD runs out from a corner of the stage, a spotlight on him. The rest of the stage is in darkness. DONALD runs about the stage, searching frantically.

DONALD: Timmy!

TIMMY’s voice echoes through the darkness

TIMMY: Hey there, Doc.

DONALD: Where are you?

TIMMY: I’m in your head, Doc. And you can’t get me out.

DONALD: Get out here!

TIMMY: But I’ve always been here, Doc. For longer than you know.

DONALD: Listen…just let her go, and I’ll cover for you! You won’t get sentenced for this!

Lights up on the downstage area, where TIMMY is standing behind a hospital bed. Lying in the bed is ANDREA, with TIMMY’s knife against her neck.

TIMMY: Let who go, Doc? After all, you’ve been acting as if you never had a daughter.

ANDREA: Daddy?

DONALD: Andrea, it’s going to be all right.

TIMMY: You never even told me about her.

DONALD: Then how did you find this place?

ANDREA: Daddy!

TIMMY: Ssh! (pressing the knife to her neck) You think prisons just keep files on their prisoners? After the Bullet Act, they realized the power they had just handed out. So they collected information on you. All of you. The psychiatrists. In case any number of you decided to go psychopath. Look at you, Doc. Look how far you’ve come. You’re just like me now! (DONALD pulls out his gun and points it at TIMMY) Ah, is that the bullet I gave you? That’s really sweet! Now here’s my Christmas present to you, Doc. (TIMMY flips the knife and points the handle at DONALD) Look at her. This thing you call your daughter. You’ve already left your wife, your job and your friends. This is the last thing between you and your dream, Doc. Cut if off.

DONALD: You’re sick. You think I would’ve thrown away my whole life, all my money, that retirement fund that I had built for twenty years, just so my little angel and I could spend everyday together if I didn’t care about her? You think I’m going to kill a child? My child?

TIMMY: No…but you can let me. That bullet was never meant for Tammery. Or Fischman. Or anyone else other than your daughter. That’s why you saved it. You understood it’s purpose. You may have saved that money for a lot longer, but saving that bullet took so much more work. And now you’re here. This is what it’s all been building towards. Everything. Choose, Donald. And please, make the right one.

TAMMERY walks out of the shadows and into the room.

TAMMERY: He may be an idiot, Baker, but I’m afraid I can’t let him be one. Because he still has one friend. And that friend is the warden of Barrowman Prison, where men like you belong.

TIMMY: Oh! Good ol’ Tammery has arrived to save the day!

TAMMERY: I’m not here to save anyone. I’m here to stop you, and help Donald save himself. (to DONALD) Donald, there’s no way out of this. You’re out of the job. Heck, you’ll probably never have a job ever again. Your wife is gone, and I don’t think she’s coming back. And every day it looks more and more apparent that you’re going to jail for the stunts you pulled over the last few weeks. But you still have one thing keeping you from turning into him (pointing to ANDREA) and that’s the girl lying on that bed. You always told me about how you wanted to go to faraway places. Africa, Italy – Spain, in particular. You were saving up a fund, and you were going to take Nancy and Andrea with you. (pause) And then Andrea was diagnosed with cancer. You put that entire fund into curing Andrea. Look how far that money has gotten you! She’s managed to make an extra two years! Don’t throw that away. Please. You can still go on that adventure. Heck, I’ll come with you. Please, put that gun down.

A beat, two, three, four, five. DONALD turns to TAMMERY, but then, in a twist hands TIMMY the gun and nods to him. TIMMY takes it from him.

TIMMY: You never let me finish my story. There’s not any significance to it. Just clarity. After I killed Frank, I ran. I ran as fast as I could. I’ve been running ever since then. Because even after I had been brave, after I had the courage to stand up to this man that had ruined my childhood, I was still a coward. (TIMMY turns and takes aim at ANDREA) And so are you. Just a little, cowardly psychologist who means nothing to the world.

DONALD: Wrong. I’m a psychiatrist.

DONALD grabs TIMMY’s knife, still in his hand, and jabs it into the boy’s chest again and again and again. TIMMY’s dead body falls to the ground at DONALD’s feet. A beat, two, three, four, then cops storm the room, pointing guns at DONALD. They push TAMMERY away from him and cuff DONALD. ANDREA watches in tears, her hand outstretched to her father. They carry him away and place him in the cell.

Scene 10: Clarity

DONALD is left sitting in the cell, on the prisoner side. DOC walks in and sits in the psychiatrist’s chair. TAMMERY watches from behind the bars.

DOC: Hello there. My name is Dr. Jason Frier. (DONALD says nothing as the doctor asks him a series of questions) How does being here make you feel? Did you have a good childhood? Tell me about your mother? What about family? Kids? What crimes did you commit? What emotions caused you to commit these crimes? (DOC sighs and gets up to leave) I’ll let you take your time.

He exits. TAMMERY stands and stares at DONALD. A beat, two, three, four, five, six, then he leaves as well. From out of the shadow pops the imaginary TIMMY. He steps up and puts a box in front of DONALD. The box has red wrapping and a gold bow tied around it. TIMMY steps back into the shadows as he whispers:

TIMMY: Merry Christmas.

DONALD sits and looks at the box. A beat, two, three, four, then fade to blackout.

End of Play

Alec Montgomery, Age 14, Grade 8, Hunter College High School, Gold Key

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s