The Funeral Scene
by Dean Browell
a new one-act play , in draft form
part two of two
part one available
(Click for Spanish translation by Google)
This is Part Two. Part One is available here. A second draft will be available in the future in HTML and Word form.
(Interior of TOMs car. The Polices So Lonely begins with the scene, abruptly from black. TOM and JOY, ride back to the house where TONY is with windows down and music audible. Dressed in relatively short shorts and summer-weather top, JOY closes her eyes and plays with the air of the open window with her hand. TOM talks on the cell phone to J. Music continues throughout scene, rising and falling at appropriate times.)
TOM: What? Yeah. Yeah things are fine. Four, yeah four days here so far, counting the one I drove in one. And yeah! Yeah things are okay. He's doing fine. Yeah. Can we not go over this now? Right. I don't know. No idea. Oh I'm sure I'm fired by now. Hey, let me call you back- what are you doing today? Well I don't feel like going home just yet and there are some places I want to see on the way home. Want to meet me somewhere? Well hey I'll call you back, I'll consult the map...Yeah, Time Bandits style. Cool. See ya.
(TOM turns off the phone and shoots JOY a look. TOM tossed the phone nonchalantly into the back seat and brings that hand back down onto JOY's leg, which he slightly rubs. JOY practically purrs. TOM guides the car into the driveway, honks the horn, and parks. JOY kisses TOM for a quick peck and exits the car. TOM exits slower, and sees TONY coming to meet him as JOY buzzes by TONY to get inside. TONY still looks very tired. TONY speaks slowly, out of synch with the energy of TOM.)
TONY: Well you two are cozy... (Once JOY is inside) Damn man, she's like 18...
TOM: She is? Thank God!
(TOM and TONY laugh)
TONY: Good one. And you know shes 20-
TONY: Just checking Well fling or no, its good to see her smiling again. I wish Sandy's other sister was taking it that well.
TOM: Well I thought after your suggestion of sleeping with the bereaved-
TONY: Dude you didn't sleep with her, did-
TOM: I'm kidding. Jesus, I have some morals...
TONY: Since when?
(TOM retrieves a map from the backseat and spreads it on the hood or trunk for TONY to see.)
TOM: Hey I was thinking of meeting J somewhere on my way back. I'm gonna take the long way home but I want to set a course, go by some places I've never been.
TONY: Out here? What, you need a tour of the distilleries?
TOM: Well I was thinking more like Appomattox. Never been there.
TONY: That should be a good drive from here. (Points out on map) Yeah just take this to 460, then 24 up into Appomattox. You mean like the historical part, right?
TOM: Yeah. Something different.
TONY: Well it'll be a good hour and a half I bet. Maybe more if you get stuck anywhere. But it's a pretty drive.
TOM: Cool. Cool. Thanks.
(TOM continues to look at the map for a moment, but TOM half-grins and becomes a bit solemn. There is a pause.)
TONY: No man. Thank you. For staying so long, and being so cool around both families. It was really great to have you around. Gives me someone to hang with.
TOM: No problem man. I'm glad I could be here. (Puts a hand on TONY's shoulder) And you have my new number so you call me if you need anything, okay?
TONY: Will do. Will do. You want anything to eat, take on the road? Sandwich? Coke?
TOM: I might grab a drink- I have to get a few things inside still. Say good-bye to everyone. Oh- um, let me call J back real fast...
(TOM fishes the cell phone out from inside the car. TOM uses speed dial to call J and TONY goes inside ahead of TOM.)
TOM: Hey! It's me. Yeah. (Grabs map and starts inside.) Ever been to Appomattox?
(Interior and/or exterior shots of TOMs car traveling the route to Appomattox. A road-trip montage of pictures, preferably to "Keep On Burning" by Edwyn Collins, if you can get it, carry the short scene. Shots all round car, sweeping and rolling with tires, head bobbing of TOM, possibly with some shots of him writing notes and posting them to the dash, possibly leading to his attempted control of notes flying out the window with windows open. Possibly some shots of him staring at passing cars, and reactions of people inside could be included. Food consumption of various types would help. Montage could last the 4 minutes of the song, if the variety is appropriate.)
(Exterior. Parked at Appomattox, with the slight grades of green and cars whipping by Route 24, J and TOM lean up against the back of TOMs car. J Is playing breakout on his iPod as TOM waxes poetic about God knows what.)
TOM: I want to travel into the sunset, a firey explosive mess behind me and an electric guitar strapped to my back.
J: Do you even know how to play guitar?
TOM: No, but that's a great image, huh?
J: Yeah but at some point, somewhere, someone is gonna want you to play that guitar for them, and then you're screwed.
TOM: I'll say I'm just carrying it for a friend.
J: Right. They asked you to hold it right before you blew them up.
TOM: Oh my god we're talking about just an image here!
J: Well its certainly devoid of any plot, context or justification.
TOM: You grew up without MTV didn't you?
J: Guilty as charged.
TOM: J, you ever get tired of all the forms we fill out on a daily basis?
J: Never really thought about it.
TOM: On the net alone: Signatures, addresses, passwords...God I've got so many passwords... Im so tired of having to think up words and dates that are important to me just so I can read an article or play tic-tac-toe with someone from Korea.
J: You play tic-tac-toe on the Internet?
TOM: No, I meant Pong.
J: Ah. Hehe.
TOM: And what is with the names of everything on the web? Everythings hack this ad slash that And when it isnt misused D&D verbs its metal or plastic sounding. I mean, my Mom drives a Neon, Dad uses a Titanium Powerbook and I read Iron Man. My lifes a walking periodic table...
J: Man what was in your drink today? Youre even odder than normal.
TOM: Its all about perspective. You hear birds and think of spring. I hear birds and think of the Ganges riverfront where there are bird sounds you won't hear anywhere else. Travel makes you take more steps...the depth of life triples...
I get all sensitive and nostalgic when I travel. I start thinking about everything
J: And then I get to hear about it.
TOM: For example: I taste dinner, mostly mashed potatoes, when I hear Tom Brokaws voice. I think of that full feeling of dinner as I watched the news with my dad; he taped it because we were eating when it was on. I can hear water loudly running in the background since Mom is washing dishes (and I'm watching the news with Dad partially to get out of helping). Sipping on a quarter-full iced tea glass until Mom calls for it....
Christ, look at us two twenty-somethings wandering around Appomattox talking about life... It's like Ken Burns directing My Dinner With Andre.
J: Were not wandering and youre the only one talking
TOM: Our entire lives are defined somewhere between Mallrats and Office Space Or, My entire life rests uncomfortably between the themes in Mallrats and Office Space. Wait, better yet: Our entire lives are driven by experiences either encouraged or woefully predicted by the movies Mallrats and Office Space. It's like-
J: Please kill the dual analogies Tom...Jesus!
TOM: Tom Jesus, that's a good one- is that his full name?
J: Shut up!
TOM: Dude, alright-
J: No dude, not alright Look, you just got back from a damn funeral and you can only talk about yourself. Ive been sitting here waiting for you to either break down or at least tell me something about it, but instead Im treated to your rambling on like some drunk sportscaster!
TOM: Good one.
J: Shut up!
TOM: Look, what do you want me to say? Tell you how totally devastated Tony was? How supremely shitty it was that no one showed up but me? That it made me wonder just what the hell Ive been doing all this time?
While weve been out bitching about the work force and sleepwalking through relationships Tony went out and actually lived, for someone, through someone, and he lost that. How fair is that?
J: Tom, its not fair but its also not anyones fault. Look, if you learned a lesson out there, thats great, but dont damn my life trying to figure out what you dont have
TOM: J, what do you live for?
J: What do you mean, like biologically? Passionately? What the heck are you talking about?
TOM: Do you live for a baseball team, a good book, your family, a great kiss ?
J: Im still figuring that out, and theres nothing wrong with that. I dont just live for things I like, like chocolate or something-
TOM: But can you imagine feeling and needing someone so bad that youre alive as much because of the breaths they draw as your own?
J: If youre asking if Ive ever been in love, you know the answer to that. And Im really close to my family-
TOM: Right...but do you actually live for anyone?
J: Okay. Okay I see your point. No.
TOM: Me neither. But I saw what it looked like in Tony. And I saw how asthmatic his life is without her. And how beside himself he is.
J: You think hell be okay?
TOM: Yeah, yeah. I think he will. Hell need people, us, his family, but hell be okay.
J: Good, good.
TOM: But I wont.
J: How do you figure?
TOM: I just wonder where we are all supposed to get our drive. We act like weve lost all kinds of innocence in the last while. What innocence did we have? We graduated high school, then college, and are now stuck in the same place we swore we wouldnt be. And we dont even like ourselves very much, much less anyone else.
J: Speak for yourself. I love myself.
TOM: Not that kind of self love, Im trying to be serious.
J: Me too, jerk! I wasnt talking about that kind.
J: (Gets up, puts iPod away.) All right, I know what Im doing.
J: Ive been teetering on a decision lately and I think Ive decided. Talking with Doug and some other people helped, but chatting with you here now has cleared it up.
TOM: Well .spill it
J: Im moving. I think I have a gig up north, Boston. Ive got some family to crash at, and theyre cool having me so itll probably be sooner rather than later.
TOM: Well, when did you make that decision?!?
J: Just now. I think youre right, we need to take more risks-
TOM: Thats not exactly what I-
J: Yeah but thats what it is for me, man. I need to figure some things out, and I dont want to sit around here twiddling my thumbs trying to figure it out.
TOM: Well okay
J: Look, Id ask you to go with me, but you sound pretty tied up in things here. But if you want, you can come. But Ill be honest, you need to figure some things out for yourself. Im not sure moving with me will do it for you.
TOM: No, youre right. I, I was thinking about seeing what Tony was up to, if hed want to do anything together, maybe move in.
J: Be careful of his space though man. Hes been through a lot.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah I know.
J: Itll be cool man. Everythings going to work out. Sounds like youre coming to some decisions.
TOM: Sounds like youre the one making decisions-
J: We both are.
TOM: So, who the hell is going to listen to me ramble on about life and analogies and irony?
J: Its called a cell phone, man. You sure you dont want to think about Boston?
TOM: Not right now. I have a few more funerals to go to until I figure out whats going on.
J: Cool. Well, I gotta get going. Im supposed to meet my Mom for dinner, drop the bomb on her
TOM: Hey, can I ask you a question?
J: Yeah, sure.
TOM: Did you only meet me to tell me you were leaving?
J: No man. Ive been thinking about it for awhile, like I said. I thought I might decide, and hearing you talk about life and missed opportunities I just decided Id go for it.
TOM: Cool. Okay. Ill uh, give you a call before you leave?
J: Yeah, Ill shoot you an email tomorrow man. I wont get out of here for another week or two I imagine.
And, in case I forget to say it, it was really cool, really good of you to go see Tony and be there for the funeral. I know that must have meant a lot to him.
TOM: Yeah. Thanks.
J: See ya. (They half-hug. J exits, via his car visibly or off stage/camera.)
(Same place, scene, only time is passing as TOM leans or sits on a bench in Appomattox. Time can be seen passing through lighting or other effects until late afternoon or evening is achieved.)
TOM: (Sigh.) Huh.
(TOM hops off the bench, goes over to the car, retrieves the cell phone, a pack of Post-It notes and a pen. TOM returns and dials TONY. We only hear TOM speaking.)
TOM: Tony. Hey, its Tom. Hey I was wondering, I was going to write the great American comic book story and Ive decided to scrap it. Huh? Yeah, hooray, huh? Well, no, Ive just changed subjects. Im gonna write the great American love story now. Yeah. Yes, me. Well, I wanted to see if youd help me. Yeah. For real.
(Pause as TOM listens, scribbles on a Post-It.)
Well, you ah I just think you could help me understand it. Ive Ive always wanted something to write about. Yeah, a writer with nothing to write about, thats me. So, how bout it will you write it with me?
(Pause. Fade begins.)
Great Awesome I was hoping youd say yes Hey, what are you doing tonight?
(Fade out, scene and play end. For effect, a screen or camera shot would be appropriate of one of the discarded Post-It notes, which would read: Between Here and Heroes crossed out, with Between Here and Her written hurriedly after it. The End.)
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For more work by Dean Browell try: 23
For more Skewed Stage try: "River Walk Waterfall" by Charles Raffetto
play copyright 2002 Dean Browell; all images copyright 2002 skewed perspective ; as always, as it has been since Sept. 12, 2000: for Alec.