01. WRITER

John Duffy


02. THEME

Balance


03. MUSIC INSPIRATION

Alex Cameron:
Politics of Love


04. WRITING

White Knight

A play in one act

 

Before long children will see
what their parents have hidden in them.

History won’t wait a hundred years to settle accounts,
and the poor will descend on your cities
to satisfy their hungers.

Then I want to see you, amigos of progress.

                                                                                          —Arqueles Morales
                                                                                                                                                                    

CHARACTERS

Michael Marvash - 35
Bill Marvash - Michael’s father, business owner, 65

SCENE— A nondescript restaurant. Downstage center is a table with two chairs. Michael and Bill are enjoying beers.

______

MICHAEL-So any family news?

BILL-Oh, shit. Well, not family news but personal news, I guess. You know that girl I wanted to adopt?

MICHAEL-Yeah, the one whose mom was having trouble?

BILL-Yeah, we were giving the mom propane cause she didn’t have any heat and her trailer park wasn’t doing shit. So, I kinda fudged some info with the county to get her $4000 and we’ve been supplying her with free heat for a while. Anyway, she come in a while back, responding to an ad we placed in the newspaper for the apartment above the office.

MICHAEL-You guys rent that out? I thought it was just like two small rooms and a bathroom?

BILL-Yeah, it is, but we figured, shit, let’s rent it. So this gal come in and I’m like, hey, you’re Heaven’s mom, right? That’s her daughter’s name, Heaven. And she was like yeah, that’s right. I’m here about the room. So we rented it to her and she was up there for probably six months. Anyway— think you know where this is going.

MICHAEL-Oh, god. Lemme guess. Things didn’t work out.

BILL-Well Child Protective Services was on her ass something terrible, so we hooked her up with all sorts of dishes and stuff from Target. Things seemed cool and CPS cooled down, so we figured everything was OK. But then money started going missing downstairs and we were like, shit, Who’s the thief?  Brandon, my yard guy, found out about these cameras that you can use with your phone, so we set one up and sure enough, she was breaking in downstairs in the middle of the night and fuckin stealing everything out of the cash drawer! Shit, we lost a lot of money.

MICHAEL-So, what happened? You kicked her out? So what?

BILL-We kicked her out, but… [beat]I wanted to do everything I could to get her to stay with her daughter. That kid of hers was the sweetest kid. Debbie and I were gonna adopt her, too. Shit, we were actually gonna adopt her and take her home with us so the mom could get herself together and have a stable place. Deb even said it might strengthen our marriage.  You know, help us to refocus or something.

MICHAEL-OK, but what happened after she got kicked out?

BILL-Well, I’ve kinda been supporting her for a while.

MICHAEL-Like, how long?

BILL-A while...

MICHAEL-OK, so where is she now?

BILL-Well, she was living in some other apartment nearby, and things got to be pretty good. I always wondered about her friends—you know, some of them were pretty rough. But she managed to get a car somehow. Someone else musta helped her, and she managed to get some furniture and some of the shit you need when CPS workers come through to make sure that you’ve got a stable place. So they came through and this gal was ready. Everything looked good and she got to keep Heaven.

MICHAEL-If her friends were kinda shady, how did she manage to get a car and furniture for the apartment?

BILL-I dunno...

MICHAEL-OK, you obviously bought it all for her. Why did you do that?

BILL-I may have had something to do with it. But anyway, this gal was in trouble and she needed some serious help. 

MICHAEL- Oh my god, but you—

BILL-You know those funds you see on TV? Give to this place and they’ll help people? That’s all bullshit. Total fucking scam. I figure, just reach out to people individually and help out, you know? Reach them directly. So I helped this gal, and things were looking pretty good.

MICHAEL-So where is she now?

BILL-Well, my buddy who's a Flint cop called a few weeks ago, middle of the night. Ugh! He said, man, I hate to do this to ya, but this gal’s seven months pregnant and she’s sleeping on bare concrete tonight. We picked her up and she needs some help. The apartment’s in your name, so is there anything you can do? I said shit, called my bail bonds guy, got her outta there. Cost me about $1500 bucks.

MICHAEL-Holy shit, what? You bailed this woman out of jail? You have a bail bonds guy?!

BILL-I know. I know! It looks bad, but she’s seven months pregnant and she’s in fuckin jail. I mean, Christ, what are you gonna do? You’re able to help someone, you help ‘em. So she got out, and she settled back into her place. Few months later she had her kid. His name was AJ.

MICHAEL-Was CPS involved? I mean it seems like they would be.

BILL-Well, she had a tough relationship with them. She said she’d never let them come and take her kid and sure enough, she was dropping dirty and they knocked on her door one night. She was fuckin dropping dirty and she’d been droppin dirty for a while. That means she wasn’t passing her drug tests.

MICHAEL-I gathered that, yeah.

BILL-I mean she had to give regular samples to the state and she was dropping dirty, so they came. And before they could get to the point where they were gonna take the kid, she packed her shit up and went to Alabama.

MICHAEL-Wait, what? she just fuckin uprooted everything and moved to fucking Alabama? Does she have family down there or something?

BILL-Family, friends, yeah, I guess. Someone down there was helping her out. It was tough for her. Her son is, eh, Afro-American, and she was trying to get away from the baby daddy as much as CPS, so Alabama seemed like a good bet. But she was only there for a few weeks. On my way home from Florida last week, she called me out of the blue, wanted to know if I wanted to take the long way back to Flint, drive through Alabama and meet up.

MICHAEL-Jesus, I bet you actually did that, too.

BILL-No way, couldn’t take things that far. Anyway, by the time I was loading the truck up to drive back home, she called me again and said she was back in Michigan. Real erratic sounding, too, like something was wrong. I told her we’d meet up when I got back and we set up a time to sort things out. She said she was worried about CPS and that she’d kill anyone who ever took her kids from her. Anyone who even tried to take her kids away, she’d kill em. She said it just like that. That’s when I said, whoa, I don’t know about this program. I gotta get off a this porch, if you know what I mean. So I said we’d meet up in Michigan, but I wasn’t really cool with this new thing about killing people, you know? Something was up.

MICHAEL- So is she back in the apartment now?

BILL- I got a call… [long pause] from a state cop. Monday night. He said the landlord of the apartments called him, said someone had kicked the door in. It was the baby daddy. He’d come by, and… [struggling]

MICHAEL-And what?

BILL-She’s dead.

MICHAEL-Jesus, what!? You just learned about all of this three nights ago?

BILL-[crying now] She’s dead. Guy killed her. Apparently the neighbors heard everything going down. He went in there, evening time, and around 3am someone finally called the cops. Neighbors said they thought it was some kinda fuck fest thing going on, but this guy raped the shit out of her and killed her before taking off. Cops said there was heroin all over the place, stains on the walls, everything.

MICHAEL-Oh my god, I’m so sorry. Do you think—

BILL-So, I called Brandon, got him and his helper buddy Zach to go over there and replace the door. They had to replace some louver doors inside, too. Landlord was real cool about it, didn’t say anything and let us get out of the lease. We still had seven months left on it too, but they were like, just pay us for the rest of the month and get the fuck out of here. I just threw down bills, glad they were willing to work with us. Brandon’s carpentry work was great, but he told his gal friend who just so happens to be Debbie’s sister. Shit! I was like, to Zach when we were at work, I was like Zach, I gotta bone to pick with your boss. How the hell did he tell Debbie’s sister about the apartment? Zach was like, Shit man, Brandon said: Hey, Bill’s got me over at that murdered woman’s apartment changing out doors’ and then she was like, ‘What?’ And then he told her. So that’s how it went. Debbie knew, so it wasn’t like—I mean she knew about this gal, she just didn’t know about the apartment and everything else.

MICHAEL-She knew that you were supporting this person but she didn’t know the extent to which you were supporting her?

BILL-The extent, yeah. She didn’t know, but she’s a very understanding person and she was cool with it. She just said, damn Billy, I just hope that kid of hers doesn’t look like you! Ha! Can you believe it? After all that.

MICHAEL- Eek. So this whole thing just played out over the last few days? Where are her children? Where’s the boyfriend?

BILL-They’re with foster care. The guy’s on the run. [beat] I went over there, to the apartment, when Brandon and Zach were finishing up, and I looked around, looked at how they were living. It was awful. Shit everywhere. They even had bills that they’d rolled up, like, for narcotics and shit. [imitates what he believes is doing narcotics] I took one that was rolled up with a rubber band and I put it in my desk drawer at home—

MICHAEL-Why the hell would you do that!? You touched it? The coke bill? Isn’t that, like, something the police have to catalogue or something?

BILL-I kept it as a reminder. I gotta stop helping people. I gotta stop this shit. I gotta get balanced out. Kill this white knight shit. Kill the horse. Sell the armor. I’m not helping anyone anymore. I can’t do this. Only family.

MICHAEL-Well, I think—

BILL-Only family, everyone else, fuck ‘em. You’re on your own.

MICHAEL-Look, you remember that time that that rock band from California came through town? They were in that RV and they came by because they had a propane leak and another three weeks on the road. Their fridge, cooktop, none of that worked. You remember? You worked underneath that RV for two hours to fix a ruptured hose, you refilled their tank, and you only charged them cost on the propane. It was like six bucks. For better or worse, this is what you do. You help people in trouble.  To give that up because of this whole thing would be a mistake. Plus, no one in your family needs the kind of help you’re talking about. We should be thankful for that, if anything.

BILL-[Lost in thought] A gal came in the other day looking for a storage unit. I was like, OK. She got one. I gave her a deal. Then she said her chimney was collapsing, needed a guy. So I called Brandon, and he went out to her place and said it’d be like five grand. So she came back in and said she needed help moving her furniture. I was like, sorry, honey, I don’t know anyone. Maybe you can call your friends. I mean shit, can you believe it? I can’t help ‘em, man. I can’t help ‘em. None of ‘em.  Next day I told Brandon about her wanting help, and you know what? He congratulated me for saying no. Said if she wanted stuff, she could get a job like the rest of us. Make an honest living, that kind of thing.

MICHAEL-How did that make you feel?

BILL-Good. It was good. I paid him a little extra for his trouble, which he seemed to appreciate. He’s almost done paying off that piece of shit truck I sold him, too. You know I made a grand on that deal? Spiffed it up, sold him the note and he’s making payments. Said I shoulda charged him more! Seriously? Can you believe it? I’m not too concerned, anyway. I’ll get it out of him. I’ll get it out of him.

[Fade out. Curtain falls.]