The Huddle

A One Act Play By Patty Hackett

2

Cast of Characters (In order of appearance) Funeral Home Director – (can be played by the Stage Manager or other back stage crew as the role is very limited) Mr. (Richard) Owens - A man in his mid 60’s and known to be very opinionated and out of touch with the current world. He is the father of the deceased, Sara Owens. Andy Watkins - Sara’s fiancée. He is somewhat insecure and physically a small man who is quick to get emotional. He is in his late 40’s to early 50’s. Ben Edwards - Sara’s ex-boyfriend. He is outgoing, self assured, and politician like. He is in his 40’s. Charlie Roberts - Sara’s ex-husband and ex-best friend to Ben. He is pompous, egotistical and self-centered. He is also in his 40’s. Grant Holloway - Sara’s friend and part-time lover. He is black, and in his mid 20’s. He is easy going, unpretentious, attractive and physically fit. Ethan Stoddard - Sara’s son, whom she gave up for adoption when she was 16 years old. He is in his mid 20’s. He is a pleasant person. He is sensitive, intuitive and gay.

The play takes place over a four hour period in one afternoon.

3 Scene 1 SETTING: At a funeral parlor, in a viewing room. There is an open casket (Sara’s) on one end of the stage, some flower arrangements, a table with a photo album, a visitor’s sign in book, and an Ipod hooked to a stereo system, playing music. There are a few chairs around the room and two doors, one stage left, leading out into the main foyer of the funeral home and another stage right, which leads to a back office. Both doors are shut at the beginning of the play. A rock/hip hop song is heard in the background. Someone is attempting to open the door to stage left that leads to the foyer of the funeral home. The door suddenly opens and the Funeral Home Director stumbles in with Mr. Owens behind.

AT RISE:

FH Director Sorry about that Mr. Owens. I’ll find that door jam to keep the door open because I’m not sure I’ll get it open again if it shuts. But other than the door, I think you will find this room quite nice for Sara’s viewing. I’ve put the sign in book over there, and per Sara’s final wishes, we have her Ipod hooked up to the stereo system.

Mr. Owens I may be hard of hearing, but how come I always seem to be able to hear that trashy rock music. Kids today have no appreciation for good music.

FH Director Well, that is the great thing about Ipods – they are easy to change, and from what I could tell, there are several different playlists to choose from. I’ll switch to another playlist which looks to be more appropriate for your taste.

4 (The music changes to 1940’s big band music, also totally inappropriate for a funeral home but Mr. Owens lights up the minute he hears it).

Mr. Owens Now that’s music! (He crosses to the coffin) Who picked out this dress? She looks like her mother in that thing! (Before the Director has a chance to answer, Andy walks in)

Andy I did Mr. Owens. I thought it made Sara look elegant. (The two men stare at each other as if it is a contest)

FH Director Well, I’ll just leave you now. Let me know if I can be of further service. (FH Director leaves the room. Andy drops his stare as it is evident he is no match for Mr. Owens).

Mr. Owens I should have figured you’d pick an unflattering dress for her. Jesus Andy, are you scared someone’s going to hit on her, even now that she’s dead?

Andy Please! Can we be somewhat respectful here? You may not care that your daughter is dead, but she was my fiancée and I do! And what in Gods name is this music?

5 (He sees the Ipod, walks over to it and changes it to another playlist that plays Sara McLauchlan or some other woman pop singer with soft pleasant music). There, that is better.

Mr. Owens Hey, I liked what was playing, change it back!

Andy (Walks away from the Ipod) Go ahead – change it yourself.

Mr. Owens (Rushes over to the Ipod, picks it up not knowing how to work it and not realizing that Andy has locked it. He starts pushing on the wheel and nothing happens). Stupid device. What is wrong with a simple record player? (He sits in a chair and sulks).

Andy (Walks confidently to the casket and looks in. Sadness spread across his face.) God, she was beautiful.

Ben (entering the room) Yes she was. She was the best looking woman in my life. (He walks over to Mr. Owens)

6 Mr. Owens, I’m sorry for your loss. Although we all knew that Sara was not well, I’m sure it is a horrific experience to have your only child taken from you.

Mr. Owens Thank you Ben, it is good to see you. I’m glad you came. I know Sara is very glad you are here.

Ben (Walking over to Andy) Andy, sorry for your loss as well. Sara was a special person to all of us, most obviously to you.

Andy (Andy feels somewhat threatened by Ben, but because of his demeanor, he can’t help but be nice in return) Thank you, Ben. And I know you miss her too. She still considered you one of her best friends.

Ben As I did her. (He looks around) Small crowd for Sara. She had so many friends and people who cared for her in her life.

Mr. Owens What do you mean? She was a loner in her last few years – she never had time for her friends and family.

7 Andy That is not true! Sara had lots of friends. I’m surprised that this place isn’t packed. But there’s a 2nd viewing tomorrow, right before the funeral, so I imagine others will come then.

Ben That’s interesting. I was told this was the only viewing so I specifically flew in a day early for it.

Mr. Owens I was told that too. What’s wrong with this funeral home? They’re messed up – they give us this windowless room with a stuck door, they play outrageous music and now they don’t even know how many viewings they are having for my daughter. (Charlie walks in during Mr. Owens line. He stops after stepping just inside the door waiting for someone to notice him).

Ben God, look what the cat dragged in. Who the hell invited you?

Charlie Good question, who is running this gig? (crosses to Andy) You must be Andy, Sara’s latest victim. I’m Charlie. (Crosses to where Mr. Owens is sitting) Mr. Owens, sorry about Sara. (Looks towards Ben) And Ben, you are not worthy of any words, even sarcastic ones.

8 Ben Charlie, Charlie – how long has it been? Five years now? So just how long are you going to hold a grudge against me for stealing Sara away from you?

Charlie Don’t you mean, how long will I hate you because you fucked my wife in my bed for over 3 months before you were stupid enough to get caught?

Ben Six or one half dozen – doesn’t matter how you say it, that is all ancient history.

Andy Precisely. You are both ancient history. Sara was my fiancée. (Pointing to Ben and then to Charlie) She was your ex-girlfriend and your ex-wife.

Ben At least she and I managed to stay friends, even after I moved to the west coast. So Charlie, just when was the last time you talked to Sara? Did you even know she had cancer? She was diagnosed almost two years ago.

Charlie Fuck you Ben. You think I’m going to carry on any sort of conversation with the asshole who ruined my marriage?

9 Ben Check your timeline Charlie. I seem to remember you screwing around on Sara with quite a few women by the time she and I got together. I’d say she was exercising her marital rights of retribution.

Mr. Owens Both of you – just shut up! Do you think I want to hear this? Please! And to think you two used to be best friends.

Ben Yeah, hard to believe. (Looks around) Andy, who else are you expecting?

Andy I didn’t plan anything; everything was set up in advance by Sara. Since she knew her time was short, she made the arrangements for her own funeral.

Ben That’s Sara for you, organized to the end, and then some.

Charlie More like controlling to the end, right down to her own god damned funeral.

10 Mr. Owens Who the hell invited this idiot? Andy, kick him out! (Grant walks in during this conversation and wanders over to the sign in table and signs in. He is dressed more casually than the others. The others don’t seem to even notice him as they continue the discussion)

Charlie Yeah Andy, come on, kick me out of here! (He walks up to Andy, daring him. Andy is looking worried, thinking things have gone too far)

Ben Pick on someone your own size Charlie. I’ll kick you out if you really want me to - but actually, I find this quite entertaining, just figuring out why you even bothered to show your face.

Charlie Don’t any of you get it? I didn’t ask to come, or even want to come – I was practically threatened. I got this note in the mail dictating my presence here today. (He starts to feel his pockets, looking for something).

Mr. Owens Likely story! You showed up to cause trouble. You were nothing but trouble for Sara.

Andy What note? Who would send you a note? Who in the world wants you here?

11 (Ethan walks in during this last exchange and slams the door shut at the end of Andy’s line).

Ethan I invited him! (Everyone stops arguing and turns first to look at Ethan, then at Grant)

Charlie (To Ethan) Who the hell are you? And for that matter – Who is he? (Pointing at Grant) Ethan (To Charlie) Hello Mr. Reynolds. My name is Ethan. Ethan Stoddard. I am Sara’s son. (Charlie and Mr. Owens are shocked. Grant, Andy and Ben are not)

Ben (To Charlie) Well, I guess that answers the question on how long it’s been since you’ve talked to Sara! You didn’t know, did you?

Mr. Owens Who is this kid? Sara never had any children!

12 Andy Actually she did, when she was 16 years old. She gave the child up for adoption. And after she got diagnosed with the cancer, she and Ethan managed to find each other. (Ethan and Andy hug each other)

Ethan (Ethan crosses to Ben to shake his hand) Nice to finally meet you in person, Ben.

Ben Same here Ethan. Sara wasn’t exaggerating when she said you had her eyes.

Mr. Owens (Still in shock) How could she have a kid I didn’t know about? 16? She was still in high school!

Charlie This is crazy; I was married to her for 10 years! She never mentioned a past pregnancy or giving a child up for adoption. Are you sure he isn’t a scam artist after Sara’s estate? (Looking to Andy and Ben)

Andy Mr. Owens, Sara and her mom hid the pregnancy from you because Sara said you would have disowned her. Do you remember after her junior year in high school, when she spent the summer with her aunt? That was when she gave birth and arranged for the adoption.

13

Mr. Owens I can’t believe this! (Studying Ethan) Well, looking at you, I can see you are definitely an Owens. God, you look just like my younger brother when he was about your age. So, that answers that question. (Gets up and hugs Ethan. Turning to Grant) But who are you? And you better not tell me you are Sara’s son too!

Grant No sir. I’m just a good friend of Sara’s. Anyone mind if I change the music on this thing? (He changes the Ipod to Marvin Gaye singing “Let’s Get it On”) Hey everyone, my name is Grant.

Ben You’re Grant? (Starts laughing hysterically and looks into the coffin) Sara – you go girl! (Lights out. End of Scene 1)

14

Scene 2 (Mr. Owens and Ethan are sitting together talking. Charlie is looking through the photo album. Andy is frantically trying to open the door. He looks like he needs some fresh air badly. Another R&B song is playing on the Ipod. Ben and Grant are standing and talking together).

Ben Grant, I’m Ben. (they shake hands) And how are things with you?

Grant All is good. All is good, considering.

Ben You know, Sara was quite fond of you. I hope you know that.

Grant Yeah, I do. She was a pretty cool lady. I miss her a lot.

Ben I’ll be honest, she never mentioned that you were…

15 Grant Black?

Ben Yes - that, but also how young you are. Well, I hope this goes without saying, but Andy doesn’t need to know that your, ahh… “relationship” continued up until her death.

Grant But it didn’t, we hadn’t slept with each other for the last 6 months, since she got really sick. I’d still go over and hang out some, but we didn’t…um…do it or nothin.

Ben Well, if Andy asks, you haven’t “known” Sara - in the biblical sense - for well over a year, since before they got engaged, ok?

Grant Yeah, that’s cool.

Andy What is wrong with this door? (he is banging on it and struggling to open it) We are trapped in here! Don’t any of you care??

16 Charlie Looks like Andy can’t handle the fact that his blushing bride-to-be had carnal relations with a black man. At least it was well after I ever touched her!

Ben Charlie, in case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you that you are a racist!

Charlie Bullshit. I have nothing against blacks, but some things that are just plain wrong, like interracial or homosexual relationships.

Ben But screwing around with half the secretarial pool at the law office is ok? Classy, Charlie.

Charlie At least I didn’t stab my best friend in the back by sleeping with his wife!

Mr. Owens Charlie, I can’t believe I actually agree with you on something. Not about your fight with Ben, but with the whole gay thing. Two men together – that is just wrong. The bible says so. (Ethan suddenly stands up and moves away from Mr. Owens and towards the door. Andy stops playing with the door and gives Ethan an understanding look).

Ethan It’s not going to open. I know it.

17

Andy We just need for someone to hear us. What is through that other door? Can someone check?

Charlie I will. (He exits through the other door, leaving the door open. Yelling back into the main room) It’s an office of some sort, there is a bathroom in here if anyone needs one, and a refrigerator. Good, we won’t die of thirst – plenty to drink in here. But it is a dead end, not even a window.

Ben (Pulls out his cell phone) I have an idea on how to reach somebody. I’ve got a weak signal but let’s give it a try. (He dials a number)

Andy Good thinking Ben. I left my cell in my car.

Grant Me too.

Mr. Owens I left my Morse Code machine back at the office…

18 (A phone ringing in the distance is heard. Ben smiles at himself, proudly. The phone continues to ring several times and Ben gets a worried look on his face).

Charlie Hello? (He walks out of the office with a land line phone in one hand and a six pack of beer in another. The ringing stops).

Ben Oh shit. Please don’t tell me that’s the only phone in this place? (Charlie shrugs, puts the six pack on the table, opens one for himself) Charlie The bar is open gentlemen! First round is on me. (He goes back to return the phone to the office)

Mr. Owens Ben, try 911. Until someone else tries to attend the viewing, we are stuck.

Ethan No one else is coming to the viewing. I know it.

Ben I don’t think this warrants 911 quite yet. Plus, I just lost all signal. (Puts his phone away) But don’t worry. I’m sure the Director will check on us soon.

19

Ethan No he won’t, I know it.

Andy Stop saying that Ethan, you are starting to scare me!

Ben (Ben changes the music on the Ipod to jazz music) There, that is much better. I love this music.

Grant Well, if we arn’t getting out of here, we might as well pay our respects properly. (He crosses to the coffin, knells before it and starts to pray.)

Andy (To Ethan, about Grant) I don’t understand what Sara saw in him.

Ethan (Looking at Grant) I do.

Ben Anyone want a beer?

20 Ethan Sure, I’ll take one. (Ben opens two beers and hands him one) So Ben, mom never finished the story about what happened with you two. She said you were in love, and then it was over. What broke you two up?

Charlie She was probably screwing another man, right Benny?

Ben Jesus Charlie, how can you hate her so much, after everything you did to her first?

Ethan From what mom said, she was crushed when the relationship changed. She referred to you as “the love of her life.”

Andy (Andy reacts by going back to the door and pounding on it again) Let us out of here!!

Ethan No one is going to open that door.

Andy Why does he keep saying that?

21 (He goes back to pounding on the door)

Mr. Owens Andy, cut it out will you? This is starting to get interesting. I’d like to hear more about Ben and Sara. Andy Maybe if you had been part of Sara’s life in the last several years, you’d already know what happened. This can’t be happening to me! I’m stuck here trying to show my respects for my fiancé and I’m trapped with Daddy Dearest, the Ex Husband from Hell, The Love of her Life, Her Boy Toy and her Illegitimate Son. God, I need a beer! (He crosses to the table and opens a beer and chugs it down)

Charlie (whispering to Ben) Let’s not forget the star attraction – the wimpy fiancé that Sara only agreed to marry after finding out she had terminal cancer!

Ben (trying to stifle back a laugh) Andy. Calm down, and slow down on that beer! It hasn’t been that long, someone will be by soon and open the door. (Ethan starts to say something but get’s interrupted by Andy)

Andy I swear, I’ll punch you if you say anything!

22 (Ethan shuts his mouth and sits next to Mr. Owens)

Grant Amen. (He stands up, kisses his fingers, leans over and touches his fingers to Sara’s mouth)

Mr. Owens So tell me young man…Grant, right? What do you do for a living?

Grant Right now, I’m a painter.

Mr. Owens Portraits? Landscapes? Water colors? Oils?

Grant Walls, ceilings, houses; you know, latex paints and stains. That’s how I met Sara; she asked me to paint her deck ‘bout 3 years ago.

Charlie So that’s what happened. Sara dumped Ben for a Boy Toy? Three years ago - isn’t that when you two split?

23 Ben Nice try Charlie. But we broke up in the spring. I don’t believe Sara hired Grant until the fall, when she started renovating her house.

Grant Had to be, cause I was still with the Falcon’s, up until September. I got cut then, moved back here and then started painting. Sara was the 2nd job I got.

Andy (impressed) You played professional football?

Grant Yeah. Two seasons. Special teams mostly. My big 15 minutes of fame was in my second year - I had a punt return for a 90 yard TD.

Andy Holy shit! I remember you! Grant Holloway? Yeah – I had the Falcon’s defense that year on my Fantasy Football team. That touchdown won me some money! (they high five) So, what happened man?

Grant I got injured in practice right before the season started. Compound fracture - my leg.

24 Andy Wow, what a shame. Isn’t that’s the same injury that forced Joe Theismann to retire?

Grant Yeah. I was just a little kid when that happened but I remember the replay – in slow mo – the hit by LT and Theismann’s leg breakin’. (Shudders at the thought) Man, I swear, having it happen wasn’t nearly as painful as watching it on TV!

Ben So, why didn’t you play again after your leg healed?

Grant I’m planning on it. I went to open combines last year, but nobody picked me up. I got to start training again, get back in playing shape and I’ll try out again this next year coming up.

Charlie (Charlie walks over to the table and changes the Ipod to different music. We now hear country music and it is apparent that he appreciates the music). Yes! Country music! At least Sara still had some good taste in music.

Ethan Ben, can I ask you one more question about mom? You two loved each other, were even talking about getting married and suddenly it is over. I know you initiated the split but it couldn’t have been because mom did anything wrong, otherwise, why would you stay close friends?

25 Ben Gee kid, nothing like putting me on the spot.

Charlie I’d like to hear this answer too. Ben, the all American guy. A man everyone looks up to, whom everyone respects, someone you would trust with your life savings or your wife…

Ben (To Ethan and trying to ignore Charlie’s sarcasm) Ethan, Sara was the best thing that ever happened to me. Not a day goes by where I question what I did three years ago. Or six years ago, when we first fell in love. (Angrily) Charlie – you have no idea, because you were blind, you still are! Sara tried desperately to get you to stop fooling around. I helped her. Don’t you remember all of those times I told you about some girl you had your eye on, and I said she was trailer trash? I knew you’d never sleep with anyone with a reputation! I did it to try and discourage you from cheating on Sara. God – she was at wits end and she came to me wanting to know what she could do about it. And I didn’t know how to answer her. You were my best friend but I had no idea why you felt the need to step out on this perfect woman. She was bright, fun to be with, full of feminine energy and loyal. (Charlie makes a grunt in disbelief). Yes, she was loyal. But she could only take so much from you Charlie. She and I didn’t plan to fall in love. I know – everyone says that after it happens. But we didn’t. We fell in love with each other well before we ever fell into bed. The mental affair started about a year before we were ever intimate. (Calmer)

26 When you discovered what was going on and confronted her, I was terrified that she would end our affair and stay with you. When she chose me over you, it was the hardest day of my life. I was incredibly relieved to still have her but I felt the intense guilt of what I did to you. And no matter how much I loved her, no matter that I could justify it because I knew what an ass you had been to her, that guilt never went away. I knew I needed her in my life but the price of the guilt was something I couldn’t keep paying.

Charlie Maybe you should have thought about that before climbing into her bed…our bed. (In Ben’s face) You know, I can forgive Sara because you are right, you are all right – I treated her like dirt for most of our marriage. But you? What the fuck did I ever do to you? We were like brothers! (Turns away from him)

Mr. Owens (Trying to break the obvious tension in the room) So Ethan, bring me a beer and tell me about your life. What is your family, your adoptive family like?

Ethan (Gets a beer and hands it to Mr. Owens, who attempts to open it but can’t due to his arthritis. Ethan sees this and takes the beer back, opens it and hands it back to Mr. Owens) Well, they live in Texas, my dad and my sister. My mother, my adopted mother, died when I was 5 years old, so I really don’t know or remember her well. I guess that is why I wanted to find

27 Sara, I mean mom, because I didn’t... Anyway, my father tried to raise us alone but it was hard. He spent too much time making money so that we had nice things and never took the time to get to know us until it was too late.

Mr. Owens And how did you manage to find my daughter?

Ethan My sister Gail, she’s two years older than me, she left home when she was 19 and started searching for her birth parents. It took her 4 years but when Gail finally found her mom, she called me and told me about this adoption search website online. I went in and signed up and mom was already registered, so I was lucky, I didn’t have to wait at all.

Ben What did your father think about that?

Ethan I don’t know. He doesn’t know I’ve even left the state. I haven’t seen or talked to him since my 20th birthday. He basically kicked me out of his house, and out of his life. He doesn’t understand me.

Grant Man, I hear ya. My old man didn’t get me either. “What you wanna to go play football for? That’s a waste of time! Come work at the steel mill. That’s real man’s work!” He didn’t complain when football paid my way through college, though.

28

Ethan My father would have loved it if I had played football. I just never had any interest in sports.

Andy God, I always wanted to play football, or have a son who played football. I was always smaller than most men – height wise – so…

Mr. Owens Who cares about sports? An education is what is important!

Ethan I had to drop out of college when I left home. But I started attending classes after I moved here, mom was paying for it. I’m working on a degree in computer technology.

Mr. Owens So, you got a girlfriend here? If you really are like my younger brother, you have the girls hanging all over you!

Ethan No, no girlfriend here, though I have someone special in Texas. Does anyone want more beer? (He gets up and takes another beer)

Mr. Owens Well, tell me about her? What is she like?

29

Andy (purposely interrupting) Ethan, I’ll take another beer but the six pack is out. Can you get another one?

Ethan No, not yet. I might as well get this off my chest and say it now.

Andy Ethan, I don’t think that is a good idea.

Mr. Owens What are you two talking about?

Andy Nothing!

(overlapping)

Ethan I’m gay!

Charlie Mary Mother of Jesus. (looking in Sara’s coffin) And just what other surprises do you have in store for us darling? (Lights Out)

30 Scene Three: (An Hour Later) (The room looks the same; the rock/hip hop music is back on. Mr. Owens and Charlie are sitting off to one side together. Ethan is hip hop dancing to the music while the other men watch. There are now three 6 packs of beer on the table and empty beer bottles scattered about the room. )

Andy Who cares if you can’t play football? Wow Ethan, I’m impressed! You are a great dancer!

Ethan (stops dancing) Thanks. Yeah, it is a lot of fun. I’ve learned so many new moves since coming up to this area. Hip Hop isn’t that popular in Texas.

Charlie Why didn’t you learn a real man’s dance, like the country 2-step then? Oh yeah, never mind… (Ethan retreats away not knowing how to reply)

Ben Charlie, not only are you a racist, but also a bigot.

Mr. Owens Listen Ethan, you are my grandson. That, itself is, hard enough to accept right now, but I can’t understand why you chose to be homosexual.

31

Ethan That’s good, because I didn’t choose it. It is not a decision anyone makes. It just is.

Charlie That is bullshit, if you wanted to; you could like women. You folks just don’t have the proper morals to know any better.

Ben Charlie, you are so wrong. And because you are not only ignorant, but stubborn, I’ll direct my comments to Mr. Owens. Ethan is right; homosexuality is not something you grow into or out of. It isn’t a path you chose to take, it was determined well before Ethan was even born.

Charlie Just because his lifestyle doesn’t bother you Ben, doesn’t -

Ethan IT ISN’T A LIFESTYLE! How come no one ever says straight people have a ‘lifestyle”? Why am I the only one here defined by my sexuality? Rather than look at who I love, isn’t it more important that I am a loving person, and that includes loving lots of people, including mom? Which is something we all have in common, in case anyone has forgotten!

Mr. Owens I’ve never known anyone gay before. I mean, not personally. Back in my day – when I was your age Ethan, we didn’t have these issues in our face every day. I suppose there were folks who

32 were gay, but they kept it quiet. But you are family now, and God help me, I don’t want to screw up my relationship with the only living descendant I’ve got, so let me try and help you. Tell me, have you really tried? I mean with girls, that is. Maybe you haven’t met the right one yet?

Ben Ethan, can I answer this one? (Ethan shakes his head yes, relieved to be getting help). Mr. Owens, you believe that this is a choice for Ethan?

Charlie Damn right it is a choice! (Mr. Owens shakes his head yes, but not as sure as he once was).

Ben Well, that means we all have the choice, right? If Ethan chooses to be gay, then I’ve chosen to be straight. Right? Does that make sense?

Charlie (Stands up) Exactly! Just like the rest of us – we made the right choice.

Ben So, just like I decided to wear my blue suit today rather than my black one, sexual orientation is another – albeit more complicated - choice that we all make. That also means I can change my mind, right? After all, that is the definition of having a choice, and you both feel that Ethan could

33 change his mind, if he wanted to. So that means I too have the free will to change my mind. Right? So, I’m going to exercise that choice right now. I am going to change my mind and decide to be gay, and with that decision, I’ll now be attracted to men. Got it?

Charlie If that is what you want to do, go for it! Too bad you didn’t do that 6 years ago when - (Ben grabs Charlie by the suit collar, pulls him close and kisses him straight on the lips. Charlie is so stunned, it takes him a couple of seconds to realize what has happened and to pull away) Jesus, what the fuck are you doing? You stay away from me! (Everyone but Charlie and Ben are laughing)

Ben Nope…it didn’t work. I tried to change my mind but I’m still not attracted to men. Sorry, just isn’t going to happen, even if you were a good kisser Charlie, it just can’t happen.

Mr. Owens (Still laughing) Excellent point Ben! Ok, so if I believe that homosexuals have the ability to chose their sexual attraction, than that means I too have a choice. But I don’t. That is something I couldn’t change no matter what.

Grant But , ya know, in some ways Charlie is right. (Charlie looks shocked to hear someone agree with him).

34 You too, Ben. You see, the choice is our action, not our desire. The choice we got to make is whether or not we gonna lay down with someone and get all sweaty and swap bodily fluids. Right? No one put a gun to your head Charlie, when you screwed all those women, and no one forced Ben, me or Andy to sleep with Sara, yet none of us were married to her. We chose too cause we wanted to. But, if we had different morals, we mighta said no.

Andy I know what you are trying to say Grant, Ethan can chose not to act on his desires. None of us chose our desire or attraction to women, just as Ethan didn’t choose his to men. But, although he may decide to never sleep with another man, it won’t make him any less of a homosexual, because the desire is still there. That desire is within our soul and what ever is right for you, is right for you. No one is going to change it.

Mr. Owens Ethan, I’m sorry son. I can’t pretend to fully understand all of this right now, but I can certainly make an effort to try. I hope that is good enough.

Ethan More than enough. Thank you. (They hug. Ethan looks at Charlie who refuses to acknowledge his stare. He then walks over to the coffin, looks at Sara and whispers to her) You were right mom, thanks.

35 Scene 4: (About an hour later) (The men are all noticeably getting drunk, and none of them seem to mind the fact that they are still trapped in the room with a dead body. Soft music is back on the Ipod.)

Andy Only you and me are old enough to remember that Superbowl! Damn Joe Namath! He sure had some balls to pull that win off! Good choice Mr. Owens.

Mr. Owens Call me Richard, ok? All this Mr. Owens stuff makes me feel old. So, how about you Ben, name your favorite Superbowl play.

Ben How about when Refrigerator Perry actually scored a touchdown?

Andy Yeah, that was Superbowl XX. Good one. OK Grant, Mr. Football, how about you?

Grant I was in college. The Titans/St. Louis game. Mike Jones has the perfect tackle on Kevin Dyson. Man, Dyson was a maniac on the field! So here it is, the very end of the game. (he acts this part out)

36 Dyson catches McNair’s pass and was stretchin’ to cross the end zone and time runs out on the clock. He looks up but no touchdown signal and they lost the game! Man, what a heart breaker.

Charlie Yeah, I remember that game.

Grant Just one more inch and the Titans would have won!

Andy Actually, that would have tied the game sending it into overtime. Funny thing, no Superbowl has ever gone to overtime. Did you guys know that? Ok, Charlie – your favorite?

Charlie I’ll pick one where the Pats actually won. 2002 – Vinatieri kicking that long field goal on the final play of the game beating…I can’t remember who they beat, but it was a great game!

Andy Yeah, that was a 48 yarder – not an easy kick - he was smoking that day! It was against the Bills. Good one, good one.

Ethan I don’t watch SuperBowls, but I do know a trivia fact about SuperBowl 30.

37 Andy That was Dallas vs. Pittsburg. Let me guess – First time the MVP award went to a cornerback? Larry Brown got it that year.

Ben Andy, you are a machine. Is there anything about football you don’t know?

Grant Yeah man, you are scary! I thought I knew a lot about football!

Andy It’s just a passion with me, what can I say? So, Ethan, what was it about SuperBowl XXX?

Ethan Well, because they number SuperBowls using Roman Numerals, the official website for SuperBowl 30 was a locked out website for many commercial internet proxy servers.

Charlie Because of the triple X for the number 30? They thought it was porn?

Ethan Yep! Servers were reconfigured to allow the word Superbowl preceded by the triple X.

Mr. Owens (Proud of his grandson’s intelligence)

38 Isn’t that fascinating. So what exactly is a server? Never mind, I’m sure I don’t want to know.

Grant Ok Andy, what’s yours favorite SuperBowl?

Andy Well, I’m a big Redskin fan so it has to be Superbowl XVII against the Dolphins. They’re down by 7. It’s 4th and 1 and Theismann hands off the ball to “The Diesel”, John Riggins, who not only gets the first down, but manages to hit the sideline escaping the grip of the DB and runs 43 yards for a TD! (Grant interjects with an “oh yeah!” and the two act out the run, and missed tackle and TD in slow motion. The two guys are high fiving each other whiles the rest of the guys mimicking crowd cheering noises). What a game! (Andy and Grant are leaning on the coffin, “recovering” from their football moment).

Mr. Owens Anyone mind if we change the music again? I think all this testosterone calls for something more upbeat! (murmurs of “no problem”, “sure”, “go for it”. Mr. Owens stands up and goes to the Ipod.) Ethan, you think you could help me with this?

39 Ethan Sure, no problem. First you have to unlock it, then we can look and see what other songs or playlists are on it. (He continues to show Mr. Owens and we hear several snippets of music as they cycle through the playlists, finally settling on a classic rock playlist).

Ben I’m going to see if I can get some signal for my phone in the other room (He walks into the other room, leaving Grant and Andy standing at Sara’s coffin, from everyone else).

Andy (Looks around first before talking to Grant) You know Grant, I know that you and Sara were, um, lovers.

Grant Yeah man, but that was over when you got together.

Andy No it wasn’t. I know that for a fact. Because I told her it was ok to continue to see you.

Grant You did? Why?

40 Andy (not wanting to admit it) Because I couldn’t please her. And I wanted her to be happy.

Grant Hey man, she loved you. We talked all the time bout you; man, you rocked her world.

Andy Really? She talked about me all the time? Wow. God, she was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was incredibly lucky to have her in my life, even if it was for such a short period of time. You know, we met in the doctor’s office. She had just gotten diagnosed with cancer and I was recovering from my cancer treatments. I have…had…prostrate cancer and unfortunately, the treatments and the follow-up medications have left me impotent.

Grant Wow man, she never said anything to me about that. What a bummer. Sorry bout that.

Andy I’m lucky to be alive, so it didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time I had all those radical treatments. And after we met, I fell in love with Sara so fast, but knew I would lose her if I couldn’t keep her happy in every respect. She was simply too vibrant of a woman.

Grant I feel bad man. I mean, she was really sexy…I’m sorry, I shouldn’t say things like that to you. But she was. We had a great connection between us, but we both had our walls up too. I was still

41 in love with football after being cut and she still was in love with Ben, hurt from him walking out, so neither one of us wanted anything deep or emotional. Even if we did, nothing would have…cause of how old she was…I mean, how young I am. But we were both cool with that… (Grant starts to get emotional) You know, she made me feel special, for who I was as a person, not just cause I was good in bed or cause I played football. She was so easy to talk to…I miss that. I figured when you two started getting tight, that she’d tell me to get lost, but she never did. But then the cancer got real bad…I’m sorry man. You know, if I had met you while she was alive…

Andy No apologies needed. Like I said, I gave her permission. It is interesting, she talked a little about you but never gave me a clue about who you are. I didn’t know much besides your name and when and how you met. Not that I wanted any details, but I wished she had told me more about you. At least that you played football! But I could tell that she admired you and that you held a special place in her heart. I guess that is why I freaked out so much when I met you. I’ve had this fantasy in my head that you were just like me. When I met you and saw how different you were…well, I started to doubt her love for me.

Grant Don’t man. You were the answer to her prayers. You made the last year of her life – as hard as it was – worth living. And you and me ain’t all that different, we both love the game!

Andy Maybe so. So, she really talked about me all the time?

42 Grant Yeah, but she forgot to tell me you’re a football genius. Ok - Superbowl XXII?

Andy Giants over the Broncos; 39-20!

Grant Damn…how you do that?

Andy I don’t know. Football and Sara. My two passions in life.

Grant Ya know, you’re a maniac. That’s a good thing. I mean, it’s like you live and breathe football but you never played the game. I don’t know if I could handle that. I mean, to know for sure that I’ll never play again? But maybe I’m just fooling myself, cause no one is knocking on my door now.

Andy Look at me - I could have never been a pro athlete. Ok, maybe a jockey, but not football! And even the best players in the league don’t play forever. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be passionate about the game. Every fall I coach a pee-wee football team and every spring, I referee a girl’s flag football league. And I run a fantasy football league as well. How much more involved could I be? I love it.

43 Grant Damn. That’s awesome man. You are the man! (Grant/Andy bump knuckles and Grant walks away to get another beer)

Andy (looking in the coffin, talking to Sara) I guess I am, aren’t I darling?

(Lights Out)

44

Scene 5: (A short time later) (Everyone but Ben is seen on stage, Mr. Owens is sitting with Ethan. Andy and Grant are looking through the photo album. Charlie is alone, near the open office door that Ben exited in the last scene).

Charlie Jesus, what is that smell?

Mr. Owens (Sniffing and then reacting) Oh, is something dead in here? (A toilet flushes)

Charlie Oh God, I know what it is! Big Ben is attacking again!

Andy What?

Charlie (laughing) Ben had this reputation for being able to clear the dorm out when ever he went to the bathroom. I can’t believe this.

45

Grant It’s pretty rank, man.

Charlie Trust me, it is only going to get worse! He usually flushes twice and thus he’s only half way through this dump!

Mr. Owens What should we do? There are no windows to open.

Ethan I guess we can all breathe through our mouths.

Andy (Walking towards the office door) Wow – stay back guys. It’s really bad in there!

Grant Man, I need to let a few farts go – it might help improve the smell in here.

Ethan Yeah, maybe if we all did, we could get rid of the Big Ben Bomb!

46 Mr. Owens We should all fart in Ben’s face, give him a taste of his own medicine.

Grant Ain’t nothing we could do that is this bad. Give me another beer. (Ethan hands him one, and Grant holds one beer bottle beneath each nostril). There, that’s better.

Mr. Owens Give me two beers, I want to try that! (All the men quickly open another beer or two and end holding beer bottles beneath their noses when the toilet flushes again and Ben walks out of the office)

Ben What are you all doing?

Charlie Counter attack against the legendary pungent Big Ben! What else are we to do, no windows to open and no way out!

Ben Oh give me a break. Charlie you exaggerate so much. It isn’t that bad.

Everybody but Ben Yes it is!

47

Ben Sorry! I turned on the fan!

Mr. Owens Well, shut the door too, keep as much in there as possible. (Ben shuts the office door) You want to hear something funny? The worst gas I ever smelled was from Sara’s mother. Man, she could fart like an elephant!

Grant Yeah, how come girls always pretend they don’t fart? They do, they just try and hide it. Who cares, man? We all do it!

Charlie One of those masculine traits. Like guys not talking about their feelings or admit that they cry.

Ethan I cried when mom died, and also when I met her for the first time.

Mr. Owens I cried when Sara’s mom died. Of course that was very sudden and unexpected. And I cried when Sara was born. But knowing for so long that she was going to die, and then having her actually hang on longer than expected…no tears this time.

48 Andy I had enough for both of us. Floodgates. I guess I secretly thought she’d beat the odds and prove all those doctors wrong.

Ethan You know guys, I feel there is so much about mom that I don’t know. And I don’t know where to begin to find out. But this seems like a pretty good group to start with. Mr. Owens, tell me a story about Sara, something from her childhood.

Mr. Owens (Thinking, then a smile breaks across his face) OK. I remember back when she was just 10 years old. I wasn’t around much then. You know – typical dad - left the parenting to her mom while I went out and earned a dollar or two. I came home late from work one night and the living room was a mess. Paper and magic markers all over the place. I knew it was Sara, there were drawings of horses and rainbows, stuff that 10 year olds draw. But there were also pages and pages with writing on them. She had written the names of some of her friends, and then added words next to each letter – sort of her description of those friends. Like her friend Pat, she wrote: perfect, awesome, terrific, for P – A – T. They were cute. As I was cleaning up, I found this one. (He pulls out his wallet, opens it and pulls out an old piece of paper with the word RICHARD written on it and hands it to Ethan who reads it outloud)

Ethan “RICHARD – Reliable, Interesting, Cool, Handsome, Awesome, Responsible, Dad…I love you Daddy”. Wow, pretty neat.

49 (Ethan hands the note back to Mr. Owens)

Mr. Owens Keep it Ethan. I’ve got it memorized and will never forget it. It’s probably the only thing of your mom’s that I have from when she was young, besides photos.

Ethan Thank you. That means a lot.

Grant I have this memory of Sara...it’s nothing, but, ya know, I’ll always remember it. It was the third day on the job for her. She was always home, hanging inside, but was good about bringing me stuff to drink, or offering me food. She was cool that way, didn’t know me from Adam, yet treated me with a lot of respect. This one day, I took a break and was sitting on the deck, away from where I was painting. And I could see straight into the house through these glass doors. Sara was there, she was wearing her Ipod, and dancing and singing to some song. Man, she was sexy…I don’t mean to be disrespectful or anything, but she was. She was dancing, sort of slow and sexy, like she didn’t give a shit about anything but the music. After a couple of minutes of watching her, she sees me. I felt bad, like I was a peeping Tom or something, so I quickly looked away. She started walking towards me and came out on the deck. I thought she was gonna fire me on the spot. But she didn’t. She just said, “You like to dance?” I said, “Yeah,” and then she asked if I liked Stevie. She don’t say Stevie Wonder or nothing, just Stevie, like she on a first name basis with the man. I said “Yeah” and she said, “Ok then, let’s dance.” She come over to me, takes one of those ear things out of her ear, puts it in mine, then put her arms around my

50 neck and starts dancin’. Here we are, strangers and slow dancing to Stevie Wonder, and no one but us hears the music. Damn. I’ll never forget that.

Ben I remember a time, early on in our relationship. You know how you go through that stage where you have to be on your best behavior, you don’t want your new woman finding out how weird you are – Charlie Or how obnoxious your bathroom habits are?

Ben Yeah, what ever Charlie. Don’t get me started on your habits. Anyway, I was totally smitten with Sara and feeling like a kid who had just won the lottery. I left her sleeping in bed and I went downstairs to the kitchen to make us breakfast. Grant - your dancing story made me think of this moment. I’m there in the kitchen, chopping peppers for an omelet, and I’m singing some silly song and dancing around, because I’m so damn happy I can’t stand it. But I can’t sing worth shit. And my dancing isn’t much better, I’m sure I looked and sounded like a horse who just broke his leg or something. Sure enough – I turn to get something out of the refrigerator, and there she is, standing on the stairs watching me. And the look on her face was not one of shock, concern, or even amusement, but - how do I say this…she had this look of pure acceptance, appreciation, and love. She later told me that was the moment when she realized that she was in love with me.

Charlie Ok, I guess since I am the skirt chasing, foul mouthed, horrible ex-husband, you guys don’t think I can come up with something positive to say about Sara, huh? But I can. Sara was one of the

51 most compassionate people I’ve ever met, when it came to animals. She could run over a grandmother, if the old lady took too long crossing the street, but if it was a snake in the road, she’d wait and let it slither out of the way first. I remember this one Sunday, we were dropping off some mail at the post office. We were parked in the parking lot and Sara got out of the car with the letters and walked across to the mailboxes. I see her drop the mail suddenly and rush over to the edge of the parking lot, near this big tree. She’s on her knees looking at something. Then she got up, looked up into the tree, then turned toward me and with a frantic look on her face, waved me over. I got out of the car and by the time I got over to her, she was almost hysterical. It seems this baby bird fell out of a nest in the tree. And Sara is crying because it is helpless. The mother bird is no where around so I tell her to just pick it up and we’ll get it on the grass so that it is comfortable. She tells me we can’t do that. If we touch the bird, the mother will know and will ignore him and let him die. So I say leave it, and she’ll come back. Sara says no, a cat could come and kill it or someone will come into the parking lot and run him over. By this time, she’s really crying she is so upset. She asked if we could stay. Sara wanted to sit in the car, far enough away so the mother bird wouldn’t be scared, but close enough to watch over him and make sure that nothing bad would happen to him. And that is what we did. We got back into the car, and she curled up in my arms, and cried softly for this tiny bird. I remember stroking her hair, holding her tight and telling her how much I loved her. I think it was the last time I said those words to her.

Ethan So what happened with the bird?

52 Charlie Funny thing, we both fell asleep. I woke up around midnight, didn’t see the bird anywhere. So I woke her up and told her the mother bird finally came back and the baby was now safe. I had to lie to her. If I had told her that I too had fallen asleep and didn’t know where the bird was, I swear she would have put out a search party for it. And I was too scared to walk over there and see feathers or whatever.

Ben Interesting. Sara told me that same story Charlie. In her version, you were the hero. You were the one who insisted on staying to make sure the bird would be ok, not her. I guess she wasn’t the only compassionate person there that night.

Andy I have too many memories to mention. Plus, if I hear any more stories about this amazing woman, I’m going to lose it again. (Andy stands up, moves away from the men and starts to cry) Sorry guys, too much beer, too many memories and the realization that I’ll never see or talk to her again. Ah shit. I don’t what I’m going to do without her. I miss her so much! (As Andy continues to cry, Grant stands first, walks over to Andy and hugs him. Ethan follows, then Mr. Owens, then Ben and finally Charlie. They are all huddled together in a hug, comforting Andy). Ok, ok…I can’t breath, you guys can stop hugging me now!! (the huddle slowly breaks apart)

53 Grant Come on Andy, if you wanna be a football player, you got learn to enjoy a good huddle!

Charlie Yeah, and I was finally getting comfortable with the whole gay thing. (Looks at Ben who is ready to make a smart remark) Don’t even think about it. You weren’t that good of a kisser either! (both men laugh)

Ethan Thanks guys. For the stories about mom. I think we all got a lot out of them, especially me. And I can now say I know my mom and what made her a special person. (Ethan pulls something out of his pocket) Wow, look at this! I think this is the key to the door.

Charlie What the? The door is locked from this side? And how did you happen to have the key? (All of the men besides Ethan suddenly turn and look over to the casket and exclaim things like “Sara, how did you pull this off?” and “even dead, you manage to have your way”, as Ethan walks over and unlocks the door)

Ethan Sorry guys. I hated to trick you all, but mom had specific instructions on who to have here and what to do.

54 Ben She’s a pretty clever woman, that’s for sure.

Mr. Owens I see it runs in the family.

Charlie I guess we can all get out of here now.

Grant Yeah, good timing. The beer’s gone. (No one leaves the room. Finally, Ben walks over to Sara’s coffin.)

Ben So, hey you, the love of my life and best friend – I’m going to miss you. Hell, I already do. Thank you for being part of my life, and thanks for….today. (Charlie joins him at the coffin)

Charlie Damn, she was something, wasn’t she? Looking at her now, I can finally understand how you couldn’t help but fall in love with her. (Charlie walks away, goes to put his coat on and starts to leave) It was nice…no let’s say very interesting meeting all of you. Take Care. (Farewell comments from the other men can be heard)

55 Ben Charlie, wait up. I’ll walk out with you. Grant, it was nice to meet you. Mr. Owens, it was good to see you again. Andy, you too. Take care. Ethan, you have my phone number and email address, I expect you to keep in touch. Good night everyone, see you tomorrow at the funeral. (He follows Charlie out. Grant walks to the coffin)

Grant Sara, Sara…sexy lady. You are too much! (He kisses his hand and touches her lips. As he is leaving, Andy approaches him)

Andy Grant, it was great meeting you. You know – I’ve been to an NFL open combine tryout, as a spectator, obviously. Let me know when you go, I’d love to see you try out.

Grant Yeah? Well we may both be going as spectators this year. I’m starting to think about hanging up my shoulder pads for a while. Maybe forever. But I ain’t giving up the game. (Grant starts to leave, then turns back to Andy) You know, I still got connections in the league. I’m sure I could scrape up a couple of Redskin tickets if you want to go to a game before the season ends.

Andy Wow. Really? Of course! I would love that! (pause) See you tomorrow?

56 Grant You bet, I’ll be here. Mr. Owens, Ethan…be cool. Later. (Grant leaves the room)

Mr. Owens Well, I have to say this has been more fun than I’ve had in years! Who would have thought it? And although I’ve lost a daughter, I’ve gained a grandson. Ethan, I’d like it if you would come to the house and visit with me on occasion. I can show you pictures of your mom from when she was growing up and you can tell me how school is going. Ok?

Ethan I’d love that Mr. Owens.

Mr. Owens Please! Call me Richard, or better yet, Grandpa. (They hug each other) Andy. Take care. And consider putting another dress on her before she gets buried. God, she looks so matronly! (Mr. Owens leaves. Andy looks into the coffin at Sara.)

Andy You could never look matronly darling. Good bye, and I love you. (Andy turns to Ethan and is starting to leave the room) I’ve got to talk to the funeral home director about tomorrow’s service. I’ll be back in a few minutes. You ok here alone?

57

Ethan I’ll be fine. (Andy leaves the room) I’m not alone. I’m with my mom. And I’ve got new friends and family surrounding me. All thanks to you. I love you mom. (Lights out)

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