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HARRY'S TRUTH - A Play in One Act

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Harry’s Truth

 

The truth might not set you free,

but it can sure make you unpopular

 

A ONE ACT PLAY

[
**]

by Rod Raglin

 

 

This play is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the playwrights imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

HARRY’S TRUTH

Copyright © 2016 Rod Raglin

Published by Rod Raglin

ISBN:

http://www.rodraglin.com

[email protected]

Cover art by Rod Raglin

 

“I am convinced, from experience, that to maintain oneself on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we live simply and wisely. Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only dispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

SCENE ONE

Setting

Lights come up on an expensively decorated living room. There’s a modern loveseat upholstered in white fabric. An ornate, fragile antique style chair is opposite. Harry enters from down stage right. He’s wearing dirty hiking shorts, a short-sleeved t-shirt, fleece vest and hiking boots. A colourful bandana headband holds His hair is in disarray with bits of leaves and evergreen needles in it and held out of his eyes by a colourful bandana. He has several days growth of beard and is carrying a large knapsack over one shoulder. He stands at the entrance of the room looking at it as if it’s the first time he’s seen it.

DEIDRE

(Calls from off stage left) Harrison? Harrison, is that you?

Harry doesn’t respond and continues to stand still, staring.

DEIDRE

(Enters from up stage left. She’s wearing a dark skirt, white blouse and carrying the matching suit jacket.) Harrison? You’re back, late as usual. (She puts on the jacket and checks her hair and make-up in the wall mirror.) I’ve got to run. There’s a hospital fundraising committee meeting and Grace MacDonald is chairing it. She’s a stickler for time – still thinks she’s a provincial cabinet minister – the way she runs this committee is absolutely autocratic. Still, she’s an influential person and I want to make a good impression. (She picks up her purse and attaché case by the door, moves to give him an air kiss then stops abruptly) Do get yourself cleaned up. .

HARRY

(Harry has been staring at her like he’s seeing her for the first time as well.) Deidre? (He drops his backpack and a small cloud of dust erupts from it)

DEIDRE

Harrison! I’ve told you about putting that dirty thing down on the carpet. You’re supposed to leave it in the locker downstairs.

HARRY

Deidre, I need to talk to you. Something’s happened.

DEIDRE

(Startled) What’s happened? Are you alright? (She puts down her briefcase) You look strange. Harrison, you’re frightening me.

HARRY

(Harry moves towards her and clasps one of her arms) I’ve had this experience. It’s… it’s… Let me tell you about it.

DEIDRE

Harrison! (She pulls away from him and brushes the sleeve of her jacket) Your hands are filthy. Just look at the sleeve of my jacket.

Harry takes no notice of her jacket, but in a trance-like state moves to the loveseat and begins to sit.

DEIDRE

Harrison!

Harry jumps up

DEIDRE

Don’t sit on the loveseat in those clothes. What’s a matter with you?

HARRY

(Remains standing) I’m not sure, Dee. (He staggers a little)

DEIDRE

(Takes his arm and steers him to the antique chair, deftly placing a piece of newspaper from the rack on the seat before she helps him settle) Gently, it’s very old and very expensive.

(Harry pulls off his bandana and some foliage cascades onto the floor. Deidre resists the urge to reprimand him yet again, but can’t suppress a frustrated sigh. She perches on the loveseat opposite him anxious to be on her way)

DEIDRE

Are you sure you’re alright? Did you hit your head or something out there?

HARRY

(Begins to relate his experience to her but not as a response to her question) I’d gone for a swim in this alpine lake. I remember it was icy cold. I pulled myself up on to a flat rock and lay there drying in the sun.

DEIDRE

You were naked? Oh, for goodness sake, Harrison! What if someone saw you and recognized you? A grown man. And leading member of the business community. Tell me no one saw you?

HARRY

My entire body began to… to … tingle. Everything went blurry, kind of out of focus. There was a pulsing – it kept building and increasing in tempo. It became a hum and then … a buzz. No, more of a chord. Yes, a harmonic chord.

DEIDRE

Are you sure you didn’t hit your head?

HARRY

Then I just seemed to melt … blend …. with the rock, the sky, the water. (He looks right into her face) Dee, I thought I was dying.

DEIDRE

It sounds horrible! Were you afraid?

HARRY

Afraid? No. I didn’t care. There was an overwhelming feeling of contentment. Of peace, of understanding.

DEIDRE

I think I should make an appointment for you with Dr. Shapiro. Did you drink the water out there? I’ve told you not to drink the water from those streams.

HARRY

Then suddenly, I was back. And he was there, looking right into my eyes. I could feel his breath on my face, smell it.

DEIDRE

Oh, for goodness sakes, Harrison. He probably thought you were injured. What did he say when he found out you were only sleeping “naked” on a rock?

HARRY

It wasn’t a man. It was a bear.

DEIDRE

A bear!

HARRY

A bear. Inches from my face. We looked into each other’s eyes. And … I know this sounds strange, but we connected. We communicated. It was so powerful … He shared something with me, Dee. Now I understand. (He chuckles) It’s so obvious, so simple, but so liberating. Let me tell you…

DEIDRE

(Checks her watch, stands and moves towards the door. She picks up her purse and attaché case) You didn’t eat any mushrooms when you were out there, did you Harrison?

HARRY

Dee, please stay with me. This is important. What I found out, what I now know, it will change our lives.

DEIDRE

Advice from a bear? Change our lives? No, I don’t think so. I’ll be back about ten. (She exits down stage right)

Harry is crestfallen, he leans forward and places his head in his hands.

DEIDRE

(Looks back in) And Harrison …

Harry looks up expectantly

DEIDRE

Don’t touch “anything”, until you’ve cleaned yourself up.

SCENE TWO

Setting

Light comes up on a desk with two chairs in front of it. Sitting behind it in a high-backed executive chair is Harry’s partner in the public relations firm, Philip. He’s short and pudgy with a receding hairline and glasses. He’s wearing a white shirt with a loud tie and dark suit pants and tossing a tennis sized stress ball up and down. Harry is wearing a sports jacket over a polo shirt and slacks. Harry stands behind Phil, looking out a window. His back is to the audience.

PHILIP

(Enthusiastically) That went well. Some good ideas came out on the new computer system we’ll need and the recruitment of additional staff. We definitely need someone who can speak Mandarin. Speaking of Asians, I met with the leasing agents about the new offices. You should see the views, Harry. From my office it looks like I could dive into English Bay, and yours has the view of the mountains you’re so crazy about.

HARRY

Already got the layout planned, Phil? I thought the terms were a bit extravagant.

PHILIP

Leave it to me, Harry. I’m the brains behind the business end, you’re the creative genius. I just got to grind them a bit, but that location definitely says success and that’s what we want to convey.

HARRY

Do we? (Still looking out the window)

PHILIP

(Swiveling around in his high-backed executive chair) We’re in the big leagues now. We’ve got to start acting and looking like we belong there.

HARRY

(He moves back to a chair in front of the desk. Turns it around and straddles it, his chin resting on his arms across the back of the chair) Phil, I’m thinking maybe we should reconsider taking on FutureCorp.

PHILIP

(Continuing to toss the ball) Yeah, I thought the same thing. Can we handle all of it? But I’m convinced we can. We’ll have to put our shoulder to the wheel for a while, commit to longer hours, but hell, we’ve been there before, you and I, we can do it.

HARRY

But do we want to do it?

PHILIP

(Stops tossing the ball. Defensive) What the hell are you saying, Harry? This is what we’ve been working for. It’s taken eighteen years of busting our ass to achieve this. Do we want it? Goddam right we want it.

HARRY

(Gets up and begins pacing) Phil, just indulge me a bit here, okay. Calm down and listen. That’s all I’m asking. Just listen.

PHILIP

I am calm, goddam it. But this is bullshit, Harry. I mean … (begins kneading the ball)

HARRY

Phil, you said you’d listen.

PHILIP

(Reluctantly) Okay, alright.

HARRY

Remember when we were growing up in the old neighbourhood? Our families didn’t have much–

PHILIP

At least your old man had a job.

HARRY

But we still had great times, you and I.

PHILIP

We sure as hell did. Remember how we would shinny along the supports under the railway bridge over the Cut–

HARRY

… and snatch the baby pigeons from their nests and then sell them to the restaurants in Chinatown–

PHILIP

… and we’d hitch a ride on the tailgates of a delivery truck to get us down there. What did we get for those squabs?

HARRY

I think a quarter each.

PHILIP

Like a fortune then.

There’s a moment of silent reverie

HARRY

(Comes and sits on the edge of the desk) Remember how we started?

PHILIP

(Laughs) Working out of the extra bedroom in the apartment Joan and I were renting. Of course, I remember. Christ, we worked hard.

HARRY

Sure, it was a struggle, but we still made time to do the things we enjoyed. We use to go sailing on that leaky boat of yours …

PHILIP

(With fondness) That was a great little boat. Not quite as well equipped as the Pegasus …

HARRY

Yeah, but you got out in it a lot more. When’s the last time you went sailing in the Pegasus?

PHILIP

Joan and I are planning a weekend … hmm… maybe that will have to wait.

HARRY

Remember how you, Joan, Alexus and I would pack up my old van on the weekends and just drive. When we got tired we’d pull over and make camp.

There’s silence as they both are momentarily lost with their own thought.

PHILIP

(Gruffly) Enough about “the glory days”, what’s this got to do with the here and now?

HARRY

(Harry gets up and walks to the window) I think we were better off then, Phil.

PHILIP

(Defensive) What are you talking about? It’s a miracle we survived to reach puberty. And that van? Have you forgotten how it was constantly breaking down and leaving us stranded. Now you drive a Land Rover. And the apartments we lived in. Yours was so small you had your climbing gear in a heap in the corner of the living room. Come to think of it, until you moved in with Deidre you only had a living room. How big is our condominium now? Three thousand square feet? Camping? It was okay when it was all you could afford but I’d rather be on the Pacific Princess off Ocho Rios. You’re suffering from selective memory syndrome, Harry. Better off? Get real.

HARRY

But we were happier, more content.

PHILIP

Speak for yourself, Harry. I like what I do. (Begins to toss the ball again)

HARRY

No you don’t, Phil. You just think you do. In fact, what you do is killing you. You got high blood pressure and chronic indigestion. You don’t have time for Joan and Lexie, you hardly ever sail, you hardly do anything you enjoy. All you do is work. You’ve been conditioned to think you enjoy this insane way of living. From the time you can remember you’ve been told the key to happiness is to make a lot of money. The way make a lot of money is to have a successful career. The way to have a successful career is to work your ass off, but the basic premise is wrong. Money, and the things it brings you, don’t make you happy. So there’s no need to work yourself into an early grave, is there Phil?

PHILIP

So what do we do, Harry? Put on a goddam loin cloth and walk out into the wilderness?

HARRY

If that’s what makes you happy, Phil, then do it.

PHILIP

Oh, for Chrissakes …

HARRY

Hear me out, Phil. Have I ever steered you wrong?

PHILIP

Well, as matter of fact …

HARRY

Come on, Phil. Give me a chance here.

Philip is silent.

HARRY

Rather than gear up, why not gear down. Here’s what I propose. We analyze our client list, take the ones that are most profitable and compatible and dump the rest. We layoff the entire staff and only hire them on a contract basis when we need them. With no staff we don’t need the office so we let the lease expire. We work from home connected by computer and telephone to, well, the entire world. (He pulls out some sheets of paper with projections on them. He spreads them on Phil’s desk) I’ve got it figured we could service our remaining clients by only working three days a week and our take home pay would still be about two-thirds what it is now.

There’s silence between the two men. Philip swivels back in forth in his executive chair while tossing and catching the stress ball. Finally, Harry reaches across and snatches the ball in mid-toss. Harry waits for a reply.

PHILIP

Why, Harry? Why would we want to do that when we can gear up, get the big bucks and then after a few years step back with everything you want.

HARRY

(Patiently) It doesn’t work that way. Every time we’ve had an increase in revenue, we’ve matched it with an increase in expenditures. And the truth is the more things you acquire, the less time you have. It doesn’t matter what it is – clients, staff, overhead, mortgages, vehicles, expensive toys – they’re all consuming us. Managing them, maintaining them, protecting them – they’re eating away at our most precious commodity, and that, Phil, is time. There is only a finite amount of time and we’re wasting it.

PHILIP

A few years more of hard work is not too much to sacrifice to be on easy street. Besides I’m not ready to go out to pasture.

HARRY

(Becoming exasperated. Slams the stress ball on the desk and leaves it there) Wake up, Phil! It’s a con. There’s not big payoff at the end. You work hard and then you die. The richest corpse doesn’t win, but I’m telling you it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s not suppose to be that way.

PHILIP

(Angry) Look, even if I believed what you say, that working less and spending more time to … I don’t know … smell the goddam roses, I couldn’t afford to live on two-thirds of my salary and I doubt you could. We both have financial obligations, commitments, responsibilities. We’ve got lifestyles to maintain. I have a kid to put through college and–

HARRY

(Holds up his hand) I agree. I agree. There would have to be some adjustments, I agree.

PHILIP

Goddam big adjustments. (He picks up the stress ball again and begins kneading it)

HARRY

But the people who love us, Phil, those who really love us, they don’t care what position we hold or how much money we have.

PHILIP

Is that how Deidre feels?

HARRY

I hope so, Phil. I really hope so.

PHILIP

(Condescending) So you haven’t talk to her about this “gearing down” idea yet? (Begins tossing the ball)

HARRY

No.

PHILIP

(Patronizing) Harry, you sound like you’re having an acute mid-life crisis, or some goddam thing. Maybe you need some counseling, but I bet a little heart to heart with you wife will snap you out of it. In the meantime, don’t say a goddam thing to anyone. This kind of flakiness from a partner in the firm could really screw things up. Promise me, Harry. You owe me this. Talk to Deidre first, then come back and we’ll discuss it.

HARRY

You really don’t understand, do you? (Pause. Conceding) Okay, I promise. (Starts to exit upstage left. Stops and returns to Phil’s desk) In return I want you to promise me something. Try to remember when life was an adventure. When we weren’t weighted down with all these responsibilities. Responsibilities we took on ourselves and you know what, Phil? We can just as easily dump them. People who love us want us to be happy because we really can’t make anyone else happy unless we are ourselves. And happiness is about freedom. The freedom to make choices. To do what we want to do …even if it’s to do nothing.

Scene fades to black

SCENE THREE

Setting

Spotlight comes up on a small table for two set for dining. Deidre and Harry are seated at the table. Deidre is immaculately coiffed and impeccably dressed in a tailored suit and blouse. Harry appears the same as at the office. Deidre’s body language wreaks of tension. She is leaning forward across the table to accentuate a point she’s making.

DEIDRE

Not only did you embarrass me, you hurt my chances of getting elected to the board of directors. You know how important it is to me and yet with an insensitive remark you offended the head of the nominating committee.

HARRY

It was meant to be a joke. The woman is totally without humour. Really Dee, you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill. (Takes a long drink of wine)

DEIDRE

That woman, Harrison, and I’ve asked you at least a million times not to refer to me as a letter in the alphabet, that woman, as you refer to her, has more influence in social circles than anyone in this city. Her family has been–

HARRY

Who gives a shit?

DEIDRE

(Hiss-like whisper) Will you watch your language. The people at the next table will hear you. This isn’t a pub in the old neighboourhood.

HARRY

Who gives a shit about them either. Let them hear? (Reaches for his wine and knocks the glass over)

DEIDRE

(Immediately uprights the glass and mops the spilt wine with her napkin) Harrison! You’re embarrassing me. Please don’t drink anymore. And keep your voice down.

HARRY

Your problem Dee, is you’re just too damned concerned about what other people think. Who cares what they think? It doesn’t matter what they think.

DEIDRE

Of course, it matters. You don’t want people to think you are without sophistication, without manners or etiquette do you? You don’t want people to think you’re a–

HARRY

… daughter of an alcoholic?

Deidre jerks her head back as if she has been struck. She folds and unfolds her napkin, all the while looking down at the table.

HARRY

Harry reaches across and tries to take her hand. She withdraws it and stares down at her lap. He’s apologetic) Don’t you see Dee, it doesn’t matter. Your worth as a human being is so much greater than what “these people” might think of you. These expectations you have, they are just so much bullshit–

DEIDRE

Harrison!

HARRY

We need to be happy with who we are, not what we do, or what positions we hold, or how much money we have, or how far our families go back. You’re worthy of love and respect by the simple fact that you exist. Nothing more is necessary. A street person is worthy of the same love and respect and dignity as that rich bitch you were trying to impress tonight. Not more, not less.

DEIDRE

Oh, really? Let me tell you something about respect and dignity. The daughter of the neighbourhood drunk got a lot less than the rest of the kids on the block. And when she didn’t have money for the stylish clothes and the fashionable hairdos the girls in her class didn’t treat her with dignity. They said get lost loser. And the boys? They seemed to think that because her dad was a drunk she would be an easy lay. Where’s the respect for just being a human being you’re talking about? You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to work for it. Oh damn, my mascara’s running.

HARRY

Deidre, I’m sorry I upset you. I know I’m as much to blame as you are. I’ve been caught in this insane competition as well, just a different game. Our life is like riding an exercise bike, we keep peddling but we’re getting nowhere and it’s wearing us down. But the truth is, we can just get off the damn bike.

DEIDRE

What are you talking about, Harrison? You’ve just acquired this international client that is going to finally give the firm some prominence and you’re talking about … what? Retirement? We have expenses. The condo in Whistler needs redecorating, if we had a larger apartment we could entertain more comfortably and what about a place in the desert? That’s where everybody goes once they’ve had enough of winter. Besides, what would I say you do? Nothing?

HARRY

There are lots of things to do. Interesting, worthwhile things, but we just haven’t even considered them because… well, there was never the time. There would be period of adjustment, I agree, but it would be beneficial–

DEIDRE

(Becoming even more upset) This is a crazy idea, Harrison. We’re finally getting somewhere and you want to throw it all away.

HARRY

Where are we getting? Higher on the social register?

DEIDRE

I’m not going backwards. I’ve been there and …well, let’s just leave it at that. (She reaches down and retrieves her handbag. She takes a compact from it and dabs around her eyes. She puts it back and stands up) I’ll do whatever it takes to keep what I’ve got, with or without you. (She walks out leaving Harry alone at the table. He reaches over and finishes off her wine)

Stage goes to black

SCENE FOUR

Setting

The scene opens on a modern, attractive living room with a couch, matching chair, and coffee table. Joan, a woman in her forties is busy straightening up. She is dressed appropriately for housework– jeans and a sweatshirt. She fluffs the pillows on the couch and then begins to dust the coffee table. Her daughter, Alexus, enters the room. She’s in her late teens and is wearing a black jumper over a black sweater and black jeans. Her ensemble is completed with high, laced up black boots. Her hair is a vibrant purple and she has several ear rings and a nose stud. She moves to the patio doors and begins to open them.

JOAN

Don’t open those doors! (She rushes to the patio doors and closes and relocks them.) There’s a bear in the neighbourhood!

ALEXUS

Don’t worry, Mom. They’re harmless. Uncle Harry and I see them all the time when we’re out hiking.

JOAN

Well this one seemed very bold. Your father and I spotted it this morning when we went for our walk. It was at the edge of the woods, just at the end of the cul-de-sac. It just stared at us. I was terrified.

Then later in the morning, you were still asleep, an RCMP officer knocked on the door and warned us to keep our doors locked and our pets in until they could deal with “an aggressive black bear”. I just wish they would stay where they belong.

ALEXUS

This is where they belong. Or it was until five years ago when this sub-division was carved out of the mountainside. If you want to live up here you have to expect visitors.

JOAN

Well, let’s just keep the patio doors closed so it doesn’t drop in for a snack.

ALEXUS

Mom, can I talk to you for a minute?

JOAN

Sure, honey. What is it? (She continues to clean, rearranging ornaments and pictures.)

ALEXUS

. Mom, can you stop that for a minute?

JOAN

I’m running a bit behind and there’s still lots to do …

ALEXUS

What’s the big deal if for once it’s not perfect? We make too much unnecessary work for ourselves. The majority of the things we do, don’t need to be done.

JOAN

So we should be lazy and do nothing? (She begins to fluff the pillows on the loveseat next to her)

ALEXUS

We should stop doing meaningless things like fluffing pillows and enjoy ourselves more.

JOAN

(Joan stops in mid-fluffing and slowly puts down the pillow. She turns to her daughter and perches on the arm of the loveseat, anxious to continue with her cleaning.) Okay, what is it?

ALEXUS

I want to follow my heart.

JOAN

And just what is that supposed to mean?

ALEXUS

In the end it’s not what we failed to achieve that haunts us, but what we never attempted.

JOAN

You have things that haunt you? You’re only nineteen.

ALEXUS

I’m nearly twenty and I’m tired of waiting. I feel my entire life up until now has been about getting prepared to live. Well, I’m tired of preparing. I’m ready. I want to experience life.

JOAN

You know your father and I always said you can achieve anything you set your mind to. (Impatient) Is this what you want to talk about? Because if it is, perhaps we could schedule a more appropriate time–

ALEXUS

I want to move out.

JOAN

You want to do what?

ALEXUS

I’m moving out. Or rather, I’m moving in with Shelly.

JOAN

And just where is Shelly living these days?

ALEXUS

She has a basement suite. It’s really big. It has an extra bedroom and–

JOAN

Alexus, can’t this wait?

ALEXUS

Wait for what? Until the house is a little tidier?

JOAN

Don’t be smart. How can you move out? What will you live on? You’ll never get a job looking like that.

ALEXUS

Looking like what?

JOAN

Honestly, honey. Your appearance might be acceptable at college, but no employer is going to hire you.

ALEXUS

If I can do the job what difference does it make whether my appearance is “acceptable”?

JOAN

Do you see anyone else with purple hair and… and… that paraphernalia holding down a responsible job?

ALEXUS

Yes.

JOAN

Maybe in rave clubs or coffee bars. We would have help you out financially and–

ALEXUS

I don’t want your help. I’ve got a job.

JOAN

A job? Where? Doing what?

ALEXUS

At the Tribune.

JOAN

(Condescending) But that’s not a real job, honey. You were just working there for fun, for … whatever.

ALEXUS

Mr. Forst has asked me to come on full time.

JOAN

But what would you do?

ALEXUS

(Excited) A little bit of everything. I’ll start rewriting press releases, do some soft news … he’ll even teach me page make-up and–

JOAN

But honey, if you want to go into journalism, consider majoring in it at college, get a degree and then get a job at a real newspaper, not a neighbourhood rag?

ALEXUS

It’s a good place to start. It’s hands-on job training. Besides, I’m not sure it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.

JOAN

You’ll never make any money without a degree. And even then, journalism doesn’t pay very well. Why do you think you’re father went into public relations? No, you have to go to college.

ALEXUS

But why, Mom?

JOAN

Why? Why? Well … so you can make a good living and have all the things you want.

ALEXUS

Like what?

JOAN

A nice home, nice clothes, a car, exotic vacations … really, honey, the same things your father and I have worked so hard to provide for you.

ALEXUS

I’m sorry you’ve worked so hard but I couldn’t help it, I was just a kid, remember. I didn’t know any better. Now I do and I’m telling you “stuff” is not important to me. Having a lot of things doesn’t make you happy. Just look at you and Dad.

JOAN

(Jolted by this accusation) I’d say your father and I are reasonably happy. I mean, as happy as can be expected.

ALEXUS

(Ignoring her mother) All your possessions do is take up your valuable time maintaining them, worrying about them, cleaning them. In fact, possessions rob you of psychic energy.

JOAN

You say that now, honey, because you’ve got all those things, but try doing without. Try going without your car that your father bought you, or the credit card we provide. You’ve never had to pay rent or buy groceries. Believe me it’s hard for a woman alone, without anyone to look after you. You’re very vulnerable to all kinds of things.

ALEXUS

Mom, I think going to college will just be a waste of your money…

JOAN

Nonsense. We want you to have every advantage. Our sacrifices don’t matter.

ALEXUS

I don’t want you to sacrifice anymore, okay? I want you and Dad to stop doing what you think you should be doing and start doing what you really want to do, you know? Like what if one of you should die suddenly, or get real sick or something. I know there are things you still want to do, to try, to see ….

JOAN

Of course there are, honey, but those are just dreams. I don’t know what the world would be like if people just followed their dreams. You can’t just go and do what you want to do.

ALEXUS

Yes you can. You just need to have the courage to break out, to overcome the fear of failure, to break the bonds of convention. Uncle Harry says you haven’t really failed if you’ve learned something from the experience.

JOAN

(She’s silent. Then begins with resolve) So this is where you’ve been getting these wild ideas. I’ve heard this sort of nonsense from Harry before. Sometimes he says things he doesn’t mean, things he can’t live up to. It sounds very appealing and romantic, but it has nothing to do with real life. People have responsibilities … .He shouldn’t be putting these thoughts in your head? I’m going to talk to him about this–

ALEXUS

Mom. Mom! It’s not Uncle Harry.

JOAN

Of course it is. He’s never really grown up and now, according to your father, he’s having some mid-life crisis. Well, that’s alright for him but I’m going to tell him to just leave my daughter out of it.

ALEXUS

Mom! Listen to me! It’s not Uncle Harry. Sure he’s made me think about things, but it’s me. I want to follow my heart. And I want to start now.

JOAN

There’ll be plenty of time to follow your heart after you’ve finished college. (Softer) Don’t be in such a rush, honey. You’re only young for a short time, and when you’re grown up …, well, that’s all there is. Now tell me, what kind of cake do you want for your going-off-to-college dinner party?

ALEXUS

(Alexus sighs) Whatever. (She turns and leaves the room stage left. She passes Philip entering on the way out).

PHILIP

(To Alexus as she brushes by him) Have you seen my briefcase?

Alexus doesn’t respond and exits

PHILIP

Alexus. I’m speaking to you. . Have you seen my briefcase? There’s some files in it I brought from the office.

JOAN

Philip, are we happy?

PHILIP

What? Happy? Reasonably, I’d say.

JOAN

That’s what I told Alexus.

PHILIP

Alexus? How did that come up?

JOAN

Are we, Philip? Are we happy? Have we ever been?

PHILIP

Oh for chrissakes, Joan. Are we going to get into that again? I’ve got a ton of work to do with this FutureCorp deal.

JOAN

We did love each other, didn’t we?

PHILIP

Joan, we’ve got a good life. Let’s not put it under a microscope.

JOAN

What do you mean, good life?

PHILIP

You’ve got everything you want, don’t you? And soon you’ll have even more. Why do you go on about this esoteric bullshit? Are we happy? Look around you, for chrissakes. Now, please, have you put my briefcase somewhere?

JOAN

Alexus wants to move out.

PHILIP

Move out? How will she pay her way?

JOAN

She says she’s got a job.

PHILIP

A job? Where? Making how much?

JOAN

Enough to get by. She says she’s not interested in accumulating “stuff”.

PHILIP

And just what stuff is she talking about?

JOAN

Look around you, Philip. The stuff you say makes our life happy.

PHILIP

Stuff like her car, allowance, clothes, a state of the art television and stereo system not to mention a college education. She wants none of that?

JOAN

She doesn’t sound too keen on the college education.

PHILIP

Maybe that’s just as well.

JOAN

Why do you say that?

PHILIP

Things didn’t exactly work out for you at college.

JOAN

You bastard. Things didn’t exactly work out when you asked me to marry you either.

PHILIP

At least you got a roof over your head.

JOAN

And for that I’m supposed to be eternally grateful?

PHILIP

Look, forget it. She’s young. You spoil her. Maybe a year in the trenches would teach her to appreciate some people around here more.

JOAN

No! If she takes a year off she might never get to go. Things happen. She’s got to go to college and I want you to support me on this. Without a career she won’t be independent. I don’t want her trapped in a life with no way out.

PHILIP

Like you? I guess you just answered your own question.

JOAN

What question?

PHILIP

Are we happy? Now do you have an answer to mine? Where is my goddam briefcase? Maybe I left it in the car? (Exits stage right)

Stage goes to black.

SCENE FIVE

Setting

Smal, outdoorl cafe style table with a plastic tablecloth and two chairs. Joan is sitting watching for someone. She appears nervous. She’s carrying a portfolio of sketches and a canvas bag with art supplies. Harry appears carrying a gym bag.

JOAN

(Joan sees him, stands and calls out) Harry. Harry.

HARRY

(Surprised to see her.) Joan? Imagine running into you at the club this time of day. What are you doing here?

JOAN

I take a course in water colours, but it was over a half hour ago. I remembered you often come here for a workout at lunch and I was waiting to see if I could talk with you.

HARRY

Of course, you can. Is everything alright?

JOAN

(Standing – shifting from foot to foot, self-conscious) Nothing to worry about.

HARRY

(Smiling at her) Have you got time for coffee? Why don’t you sit down while I get us some coffee.

Joan sits back down at the table while Harry exits. Joan opens her portfolio and examines a sketch she was working on at class. Harry returns with two coffees.

HARRY

It’s good to see you Joan. You’re certainly looking good. Is that what you’re working on? May I see it?

JOAN

(Reluctantly passes it to Harry) It’s just a sketch of a painting I want to work up.

HARRY

Well, you haven’t lost your talent. This is really superb.

JOAN

(Very pleased with his comments) It’s nothing, Harry. Some of the other women in the class have real talent.

HARRY

You were very good in college, but this has maturity, a distinct and unique style. Have you ever thought of showing your pieces.

JOAN

Harry! You’re embarrassing me. (She takes the sketch and returns it to her portfolio)

HARRY

Seriously, Joan, I would be honored to have one of your works hang in my home.. How come you never finished that Fine Arts Program at college? You really have talent.

JOAN

(Abruptly her mood turns cold) Don’t you remember, Harry? I got married and had a baby.

HARRY

Of course, of course, but what about now. Alexis is getting ready to go to college. You have more time.

JOAN

Thanks for the encouragement, Harry, but I didn’t come here to talk about my art work.

Harry waits smiling and sipping his coffee.

JOAN

I want you to impress upon Alexis how important it is to go to college.

HARRY

She doesn’t want to go to college?

JOAN

(Angry) You know damn well she doesn’t and you’re the reason. She wants to “follow her heart”, and “experience life”. Does that sound familiar, Harry? Is this the kind of stuff you put into her head when the two of you are out wandering in the wilderness?

HARRY

Well, I don’t know how much of it has to do with me.

JOAN

It has everything to do with you, Harry, and you know it! She idolizes you.

HARRY

Joan, Lexie is an intelligent young woman. She’s got a mind of her own–

JOAN

Oh for Chrissakes, Harry. She’s still an impressionable adolescent, and you’re taking advantage of her as a sounding board for some ridiculous retro philosophy.

HARRY

I resent that, Joan. You know I love Lexie like a daughter, and I would never do or say anything I thought would hurt her. What we talk about are alternatives. Alternatives to … well, to the way you and I have lived – and are still living. Are you so happy with your life that you would deny her the opportunity to look at a different lifestyle, a different way of viewing the world and her position in it?

JOAN

This is the same irresponsible stuff I heard twenty years ago back in college just before you up and abandoned your friends and went on some personal search for enlightenment. And what did it prove? When you came back you fell right in step with the rest of us.

HARRY

Who specifically do you think I abandoned? As I recall I asked you, I begged you, to come with me and at the last minute you refused.

JOAN

People have responsibilities, Harry, to their friends, to their families. What about our college education? What about the future? You can’t just go running off “experiencing” life. There are consequences.

HARRY

The college education you mentioned obviously wasn’t that important. By the time I got back two years later, you had dropped you, married my best friend and had a baby.

JOAN

What was I supposed to do? Wait around for you?

HARRY

I thought you would, Joan. I really did.

JOAN

I don’t believe you, and I won’t let you do this to Alexus. You say you love her like a daughter? Then show it. Tell her what any decent father would. Convince her college is the right thing for her. You’ve ruined one life, Harry, don’t ruin another one.

HARRY

Life is about choices, Joan. You’ve got to stop blaming me for the ones you made twenty years ago.

JOAN

(Joan gathers up her stuff and prepares to leave) Go to hell, Harry.

Scene fades to black

SCENE SIX

Setting

A small table in a coffee bar. Harry is nursing a cappuccino. Another one sits across from him. He’s wearing a sweat shirt under a leather jacket, blue jeans and runners. Alexus enters, sees Harry and energetically approaches. She’s wearing an army surplus jacket over a black sweater, skirt and tights. Her shoes are clunky with oversized soles.

ALEXUS

Hi, Uncle Harry. (She gives him a kiss on the cheek and sits down)

HARRY

Hi, Lexie. I got you your cappuccino. Extra cinnamon, right?

ALEXUS

How did you remember that? (She’s very pleased)

HARRY

I remember everything about you, including the day you were born and–

HARRY AND ALEXUSTOGETHER

… your/my natural hair color. (They both laugh)

ALEXUS

Your sweet Uncle Harry. (She takes a sip of her coffee.) So, like what’s up.

HARRY

(Uncomfortable. Adjust his position in his chair, stirs his coffee. Alexus waits) Your mother tells me you’ve decided you’re not going to college.

ALEXUS

Not right away, anyhow. I’ve got a job. I’m going to move out.

HARRY

(Harry pauses in mid-sip) Really? And support yourself?

ALEXUS

Yeah, why?

HARRY

(Harry shrugs. Reconfigures his chair) You don’t think you’ll have a difficult time making your car, credit card and rent payments?

ALEXUS

Mom said that?

HARRY

No, I’m saying that.

ALEXUS

You know it really pisses me off that she brought you into this. I mean, shit, who does she–

HARRY

She thinks it’s my fault.

ALEXUS

I’m nearly twenty. I can decide my own future.

HARRY

The future’s a long time. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give college a try.

ALEXUS

(Trying to contain her anger and disappointment. She starts to say something then stops) Like, I don’t believe this.

HARRY

Now don’t get all upset, Lexie.

ALEXUS

(Sarcastically) So like what happened to, you know, following your heart?

HARRY

You’re still young. Your heart doesn’t even know which directions are available.

ALEXUS

So what? You said there was no such thing as failure if you… if you–

HARRY

If you learn something from the experience. And that’s true, but–

ALEXUS

But what, Uncle Harry? But what?

HARRY

Sometimes a mistake, well, it can set you back. Sure you learn from it, but …

ALEXUS

There’s that “but” again. I want to experience life, like you said. Not keep on preparing for it.

HARRY

There’s nothing wrong with a little more preparation considering your parents are prepared to–

ALEXUS

Stop it! What you’re saying is just so … so…

HARRY

Hypocritical?

ALEXUS

Hypocritical, right. I don’t want to start conforming to what society dictates and then when I’m forty wonder why I’m unhappy and can’t break away.

HARRY

Like me?

ALEXUS

(Pause) I believed in you, Uncle Harry. When you said life should be about accumulating experiences and not material things, it made sense. When you said success should be measured by how full your heart is and not your bank account well, you know, it sort of took the pressure off.

HARRY

And it’s true. Lexie. There’s just something wrong in the way I’m approaching it. I’ve got a message of hope and instead of recruiting followers, I’m alienating those I love. (Pause) I don’t know… I think I’ll go to the mountains for a couple of days. I need to clear my head.

ALEXUS

(Sarcastically) Maybe you’ll have another “vision”.

HARRY

(Ignores her sarcasm and gives her a smile) Maybe.

ALEXUS

So?

HARRY

Go to college, Lexie. Just try it out. You might find–

ALEXUS

(Collects her purse and gets up) You shouldn’t say things you can’t live up to, Uncle Harry. You shouldn’t make people believe in you.

(Harry looks up into her face and noticeably jerks his head as he accepts the verbal blows. She exits upstage left.

Scene fades to black.

SCENE SEVEN

Setting

The scene opens on an modern, attractive living room with a couch, matching chair, and coffee table. A doorbell rings. Off stage right we hear Alexus answer the door.

ALEXUS

Hi, Aunt Deidre, where’s Uncle Harry today?

DEIDRE

Hello, sweetheart. He’s out in the bush again but he should be a long shortly.

ALEXUS

Out hiking again? Where did he head this time?

They enter the living room from stage right. Deidre is immaculately turned out in a tailored blouse and full, calf length skirt. She sits on the couch and pats a spot indicating she would like Alexus to sit beside her.

DEIDRE

Oh, I don’t know dear. The “widow-maker” or some dreadful sounding place like that. He leaves me a note, but I never take notice.

ALEXUS

I know where that is, the north face of Crown Mountain.

DEIDRE

I don’t understand why a grown man, a successful man, with responsibilities, wants to wander in the wilderness, climbing treacherous cliffs, sleeping outside, not having a shower for three days . I can’t imagine anything more … more … disgusting.

ALEXUS

Sounds cool to me.

DEIDRE

More like crazy.

ALEXUS

How long has he been gone for?

DEIDRE

He left at some impossible hour yesterday morning. It was still dark for goodness sake. But he promised he’d be back in time for your dinner tonight. He wasn’t home when I left. I certainly hope he doesn’t come directly here. When he returns he’s such a mess – a scruffy beard, with quite a bit of grey in it too, matted hair, dirty fingernails … Well, I won’t even let him in the living room, not to mention near me, until he had cleans himself up. And, of course, there’s that wild look in his eyes.

ALEXUS

He calls it a state of grace.

DEIDRE

Lately he’s been going on about some “experience” he had out there.

ALEXUS

(Sarcastically) He told you about his “mystical” experience?

DEIDRE

He’s talked about it and tried to make me understand it, but really, I just haven’t the patience for such incoherent ramblings. What has he said to you?

ALEXUS

He said he had this experience with a bear, but I think maybe the bear was just a vision. But anyway, it left him with an understanding that, well, let me see if I can explain it. The simple fact that we exist means we have just as much right – that we are just as important as – everything and anything else in the universe. And like, everything else we achieve or, you know, accumulate compared to this truth, is meaningless.

DEIDRE

“Which of you by thought can add one cubit to his stature?”

ALEXUS

Uncle Harry said that?

DEIDRE

No dear, it was another seeker of the truth, and he paid a terrible price. You see, the truth doesn’t necessarily set you free, as your Uncle Harry seems to believe. It can just make you very unpopular.

ALEXUS

I know what you mean. Uncle Harry is pretty unpopular with me right now too. After telling me to follow my heart, he sided with my parents and forced me to go to college. But, like even if Uncle Harry is sort of, you know, a hypocrite, and maybe he can’t follow through on his ideas, that doesn’t mean the idea is wrong? He says I’m as important as say, Albert Einstein, because while he was an important man and made a contribution to society and stuff, he’s no more important in the universe than I am, … sort of. I mean the universe wouldn’t be the same without him, but it would also be different if I wasn’t here. Isn’t that, well, liberating? We no longer have to prove our worth by working twenty-four/seven so we can accumulate more than the other guy. We can just, you know, kind of enjoy life.

DEIDRE

Well… That’s all very interesting, Alexus. (Pause) What’s this about not going to college?

ALEXUS

I wasn’t going to go but Mom freaked out and then Dad said he’d cut off my credit card and I’d have to make my own car payments if I didn’t go. Then Uncle Harry joined the conspiracy, which really pissed me off–

DEIDRE

Alexus!

ALEXUS

Sorry, Aunt Deidre. Anyway, it was very unfair, but I guess I’m going.

DEIDRE

College is a good idea if only to make contacts dear. What you learn amounts to nothing but who you meet can shape your life. (Pause) Are there going to be any other guests or is it just the five of us?

ALEXUS

Just the family. Well, you and Uncle Harry aren’t biologically family, but you know what I mean. Dad’s in his office – working, of course. And Mom’s in the kitchen. I’ll tell her you’ve arrived. (She gets up and exits stage left)

(Joan enters from stage left carrying a tray of hor d’oeurves. She is wearing a sweater and tailored slacks.)

DEIDRE

Those look delicious, Joan. Did you bake them yourself? (Rises and gives Joan an air kiss)

JOAN

As a matter of fact I did.

DEIDRE

You’re such a little home-body. I wish I had time for things like baking.

JOAN

(Lets the slight pass) Where’s Harry?

DEIDRE

He hasn’t returned from one of his childish adventures, but he’ll be here shortly. He wouldn’t miss Alexus’ dinner.

(Joan begins to return to the kitchen)

DEIDRE

Joan, do you mind if I ask you something? It’s rather personal.

JOAN

(Wary) I guess.

DEIDRE

Have you noticed anything, well, strange, about Harrison lately?

JOAN

I never see Harry except for when the four of us get together. What do you mean, strange?

DEIDRE

Really? An acquaintance said she saw you and my husband having a heated discussion at the club just the other morning.

JOAN

(Defensive) That was about Alexus. I wanted him to try to convince her to go to college. What are you getting at Deidre? You surely don’t believe there’s anything going on between Harry and myself?

DEIDRE

Of course not, Joan. That would be too ridiculous. I just thought you might have some insight to this nonsense that Harry has been ranting about. I know you and he were quite close in college, before you married Philip. And … well, I just don’t understand …

JOAN

Harry’s always been “out there”, Deidre. It will pass, don’t worry.

DEIDRE

Do you really think it will? There’s a tremendous amount at stake. He’s hinting about abandoning his career, leaving the firm … I thought if it was another woman it might be something I could deal with. But this is … well, very disturbing to say the least.

JOAN

(Compassionate. She sits beside her on the couch) Have you tried discussing it with him?

(Philip enters the room from stage left)

PHILIP

Hello, Deidre. Where’s your husband? Is anything wrong?

JOAN

She’s worried about Harry.

PHILIP

She isn’t the only one.

JOAN

Something’s wrong with Harry? Tell me?

PHILIP

You might as well be in on this. If everything goes to shit it will affect you too. He’s trying to screw up the FutureCorp deal.

JOAN

But why would he want to do that?

PHILIP

Because he has some insane notion that we would be better off?

JOAN

Better off? How so?

PHILIP

(Exasperated) I don’t know, Joan. We could spend more time on leisure activities.

JOAN

Like sailing? When’s the last time we went sailing in the Pegasus? We should go out. You and I, Harry and Deidre and Alexus. Over to Pirate’s Cove.

DEIDRE

You obviously forgot the last excursion.

PHILIP

It got a bit rough and Deidre got ill.

JOAN

Maybe we could just head to the beach then. Remember how the four of us – not you Deidre – Alexus was born then, would pack up Harry’s old van on the weekends and just drive. When we got tired we’d pull over and make camp. I don’t know if you could say we were better off. Maybe more content.

DEIDRE

Joan. I can’t believe you would want to go back to that sort of life? (Disgusted) Camping?

There’s silence as they both are momentarily lost with their own thoughts.

Alexus appears from stage left.

ALEXUS

You’re all so quiet. What are you thinking about?

JOAN

We’re worried about your Uncle Harry.

ALEXUS

Has something happened to him?

PHILIP

He’s having male menopause or some goddam thing.

DEIDRE

He’s threatening all our livelihoods with some adolescent quest for truth and freedom.

ALEXUS

What terrible things is he suggesting that we work less, acquire less and spend more time doing things that are important, things we really enjoy?

JOAN

What I don’t understand is why now? A few more years of work is not to much to sacrifice for security and peace of mind.

DEIDRE

I know. It’s just irresponsible. Selfish.

PHILIP

Even if I believed what Harry says, that working less and spending more time to … I don’t know … smell the goddam roses, we couldn’t afford to live on two-thirds of my salary, and I doubt you and Harry could either, Deidre.

ALEXUS

What do we need the money for?

JOAN

For all those things we talked about before, Alexus.

PHILIP

We both have financial obligations, commitments, responsibilities. We’ve got lifestyles to maintain. You have to be educated.

ALEXUS

I don’t even want to go to college.

PHILIP

Of course you do.

JOAN

Please. We’ve had that discussion.

DEIDRE

There would have to be some very uncomfortable adjustments.

PHILLIP

Goddam big adjustments. The clubs, the cars, the boat …

JOAN

The Pegasus? But we never take it out?

PHILIP

Do you have any idea what it costs to moor?

DEIDRE

Our standing in the community would be diminished considerably.

ALEXUS

I don’t care about what standing you have in the community, Aunt Deidre. And Mom’s right about the boat. It’s just status. We never go out in it. We never go anywhere as a family anymore. Maybe Uncle Harry is right. Maybe the things you’re working so hard for and think are so important, aren’t, I mean, important. Maybe you’d be happier if you had more freedom. Freedom to maybe just hang out. I think the people who love you really don’t care what position you hold or how much money you make.

JOAN

I heard that speech before.

ALEXUS

It’s not a speech. It’s how I feel.

JOAN

Don’t you mean it’s how Harry feels. He was saying the same nonsense twenty years ago in college.

ALEXUS

If it’s the truth, it doesn’t matter who said it or when.

JOAN

(Angry) Oh, Alexus, you’re so naive! The truth is just, just … an accumulation of comprises. Rationalizations that help us justify what we do each day. That’s what Harry’s truth was about then and probably what’s behind all this nonsense now. No greater good, no higher power, no cosmic cause.

ALEXUS

No! It’s real. It has meaning. It’s universal, it’s–

JOAN

It’s a cop-out! He used it then and he’s using it now to avoid his responsibilities.

ALEXUS

Why are you dumping on Uncle Harry? What’s he ever done to you.

DEIDRE

As a matter of fact, I’m a little curious myself.

PHILIP

It doesn’t matter. It’s ancient history. It’s all worked out for the best.

JOAN

Do you really believe that, Philip? That it’s all worked out for the best? The resentment you have towards me. The bitterness you have towards Harry.

ALEXUS

Mom, what are you talking about? What resentment?

PHILIP

I don’t resent you, Joan. Look, why don’t you just leave it alone.

JOAN

Well, you obviously don’t love me.

PHILIP

(Angry) I loved you once, but you just wouldn’t let him go. We could have been happy, but you just kept holding on. How do you think it made me feel? How do you think it still makes me feel?

JOAN

How it makes you feel? How it makes you feel! You never let me forget. Do you? Do you know what a burden it is to be expected to be eternally grateful?

ALEXUS

(Confused) You mean, are you saying that you and Uncle Harry had… had, like an affair?

JOAN

At college. Harry and I were in love at college.

PHILIP

In love? (Laughs) Maybe you were, but not Harry.

DEIDRE

Really, Joan. You’re not still carrying a torch for Harry? It was a college fling. We all had them.

JOAN

(Screams) We were in love! (Breakdowns and begins to sob. There is a stunned silence.) But he wanted his freedom. Freedom he said to make choices. (Angrily) Does this sound familiar, Alexus?

Alexus sits down.There is pain and bewilderment on her face.

The telephone rings.

PHILIP

Hello? Yes, she is. Who’s calling? (Hands the telephone to Deidre) It’s the RCMP enquiring about Harry.

DEIDRE

Hello? This is she. No. Not really, he often stays away a little longer than planned. A bear attack. Oh, dear. No. No, I don’t know what area he was hiking in. (Alexus looks up abruptly. She begins to speak but Deidre turns away from her) Yes, I certainly will. Thank you. (Deidre hands Philip the telephone. They wait for her to speak but she is silent, contemplating what she has just been told. She begins rather lightly, not taking it seriously) Some hikers heard what they thought was a man being attacked by a bear. The RCMP are investigating and found Harrison’s truck parked at the trailhead. They were asking if he was headed for the area where the attack took place.

ALEXUS

Where did the attack take place?

DEIDRE

Somewhere called Crown Pass.

ALEXUS

Uncle Harry would have to travel through the pass to get to the Widow Maker. (Suddenly anxious) He could be injured and bleeding. Every minute counts. We have to get in touch with search and rescue right away and tell them where he was heading.

PHILIP

Hold on, Alexus. Deidre, did the other hikers actually see anything?

DEIDRE

No. The RCMP said they heard noises – growls and screams and then (pause) nothing. I gathered it was some distance away and they were too frightened to investigate.

PHILIP

This sounds like a prank to me. Let’s give Harry a couple more hours before we push the panic button.

ALEXUS

No, Dad. We can’t wait. If he survived the attack, he’s probably in shock and losing blood. Every second counts.

DEIDRE

(Offhandedly) Maybe your father is right. Don’t these searches cost an awful lot of money? And the television just loves this high drama. It would be very embarrassing to initiate this action with the media coverage and everything, and find out it’s a false alarm.

ALEXUS

(Incredulous) I don’t believe you people. Mom, make them do something.

JOAN

It’s almost dark, honey. What can they do in the dark?

ALEXUS

They can get organized so they can head out at first light. Uncle Harry wouldn’t miss my going away dinner. Something’s happened to him. (Frantic) He could be out there dying. We have to let the RCMP and search and rescue know he’s overdue and where he went.

DEIDRE

He’s actually not overdue. Dinner was to be at six and it’s just ten to.

PHILIP

And it’s not like he hasn’t strolled in late before.

JOAN

I’m going to check on dinner. We’ll eat in a half hour. (Exits stage left)

ALEXUS

I don’t believe this. You’re all willing to risk his life because you might be embarrassed? Or it will cost the taxpayers a few thousand dollars? Well then, I’ll call. I’ll take responsibility.

PHILIP

(Picks up the cordless telephone) I think we have a consensus here, Alexus. We’re not going to overreact. We’ll just wait a few hours and if Harry doesn’t show up, I’ll make the call then.

ALEXUS

(Gets up and tries to tear the telephone from her Philip’s hand.) Give me the phone, Dad.

PHILIP

(Philip holds her away with an outstretched arm) Alexus, calm down. (She grabs hold of his shirt and tears a button off. They bump into the table coffee table and a glasses fall.)

ALEXUS

Give me the fucking phone! (She’s hysterical)

DEIDRE

Alexus, get control of yourself. (Deidre grabs her by the shoulders and tries to pull her away from Philip. Alexus lets go and pushes Deidre who falls back on the couch. Alexus turns back on Philip who now uses his free hand to slap her hard across the face. Alexus is stopped in her tracks. She falls to her knees and sobs. Joan who has heard the commotion rushes in and kneels to comfort her daughter)

PHILIP

(Shaken) I’m sorry I had to do that, but you were out of control. I blame Harry for causing this situation. Goddam him to hell.

ALEXUS

(Sobbing) You all hate him. You want him dead.

PHILIP

That’s nonsense. It’s not like we’re responsible for the predicament he’s in.

Harry appears in the doorway upstage left. During the commotion no one has heard him come in. He’s wearing shorts, hiking boots and a sleeveless t-shirt.

HARRY

You’re right, Phil.

ALEXUS

Uncle Harry!

DEIDRE

You’re alright then. Well, that’s a relief.

PHILIP

You see. You see. I told you all we should just wait. You bastard, we were all worried sick.

HARRY

I’m sorry I upset you. And not just this evening, but for the last little while. I have something I’d like to say to all of you.

PHILIP

Forget it, Harry. We all have moments when we want to stop the world and get off. But remember, (laughs) you’re a long time dead, right?

DEIDRE

(Moves close to him and whispers) Really, Harrison. Couldn’t you have stopped home before coming here? You’re a disgrace.

JOAN

Well, perhaps we can have dinner now and things can get back to normal.

HARRY

(Loudly) Please! Could you please just listen?

Everyone’s startled by the outburst. There’s silence.

DEIDRE

There’s no need to shout, Harrison.

JOAN

Alright, Harry. We’re listening.

PHILIP

That’s what we’ve been doing for the last few weeks, Harry. Listening to you. And waiting for you to start making sense.

ALEXUS

Tell them, Uncle Harry. Explain it to them.

HARRY

I’m sorry, Alexus, but I’m afraid I’ve failed you. Failed all of you. You four are the ones I love most and I’ve failed you.

PHILIP

No harms done, Harry. FutureCorp is still on track.

DEIDRE

Thank God for that.

JOAN

How have you failed us?

HARRY

In the way I’ve tried to force this … this change on you.

PHILIP

If that’s how you failed us, then we’re all better of for it, if you ask me.

DEIDRE

You really didn’t expect us to go along with this nonsense, did you?

JOAN

(Bitterly) So you’re back. Just like before. This was just another aberration. We all forget it and carry on?

ALEXUS

Is Mom right? Was it just a … mistake?

HARRY

No, it wasn’t … it’s not a mistake. The mistake was in how I tried to convey what I found out to all of you. It’s not the message that was wrong, just the messenger.

PHILIP

Don’t beat yourself up, Harry. Nobody took you seriously.

ALEXUS

I did.

JOAN

Well, I think it’s outrageous. It’s emotional intimidation. You can’t keep doing that, Harry, coercing people who care for you. Your partner, your wife, Alexus – they need to rely on you.

HARRY

You’re right, Joan. And I understand that now. I admit, my approach was wrong but it doesn’t change the fact that I believe I’ve been shown a better way to live. A way that is happier, healthier and… and more fulfilling. A way that is simple, easy, friendly. A way that is kind to the planet, but there I go, proselytizing. I have to walk the talk. I have to lead by example.

DEIDRE

(Exasperated) For godsake, Harrison! Why don’t you just give it up? The world’s wrong and you’re right? Is that it? Did you ever think some of us might like the finer things in life? That to find “fulfillment” we don’t have to go back to being primitive. It can be found in sophistication and refinement.

JOAN

This may be your truth, Harry, but it may not be for everyone.

HARRY

But it is for everyone, Joan. That’s just the point. All I can say is wait and see.

PHILIP

Well, I can’t “wait and see”, Harry. We’re meeting with the FutureCorp people tomorrow. I need to know if you are going to be there and, more importantly, if you’re one hundred and ten per cent behind this deal. You should know I’ve talked to the junior partners and the bank. They’re ready to move against you – squeeze you out. There’s careers at stake, people’s futures.

DEIDRE

Listen to Philip. We’ve got a good life. We’re respected, have standing in the community. If you want some changes, well … we can talk about them, but I guarantee if you throw it all away, you’ll regret it.

HARRY

I’m not suggesting throwing it all away, Dee. There’s lots that’s good in our life, but it could be better if we focused more on what really matters and less on accumulating material goods and acquiring artificial status. But how can we take the time to explore new possibilities unless we make some major changes in the way we now live?

PHILIP

Well you do what you have to do, Harry, but I hope you’ve carefully considered the consequences.

DEIDRE

I hope you have, Harrison.

JOAN

This time you won’t be able to skip out, Harry. They’re going to land squarely on your shoulders. Are you up to it, Harry? Are you?

HARRY

I don’t know … but I’ve got to try. I think the only way change will be accepted is if people can see living proof that it works … actually see it’s a better way. They need to have it revealed to them by … by example. Then they will say “of course” and, “why didn’t I see it before”, or “it’s been staring me right in the face”. It will resonate with them … in their very being. They will know it’s good and natural. Yes, natural. A natural law, and do you know what that law is? That each one of us is essential –that’s right, absolutely essential to this universe. And in being so, all our needs must be met.

. That’s it. It’s the ultimate blessing. It just doesn’t get any better. It doesn’t matter what we do. All our efforts amount to “snow upon a dessert’s dusty face. Lighting a little hour or to, is gone.” And what does this little hour or two cost us? Ulcers, heart disease, unhappiness, conflict.

. You don’t trust me. I understand that. Joan’s right. Perhaps I did, unintentionally, try to coerce you into accepting this… this truth. Now you’re suspicious of me and, I suppose, you’ve got a right to feel that way. But believe me, there’s no hidden agenda, no ulterior motives.

. I’ve got to do this, don’t you see? It’s not a betrayal, it’s a … sacrifice. I’m alone, I’m afraid, (wavers) this is very hard, but I know there’s a better way and I’ll show you it. I’ll show you a better way because I love you.

Harry looks at them all. They all turn away from him. Deidre exits stage right, Joan and Phil exit stage left. Alexus hesitates, then follows her parents out stage left. Harry watches them go then turns and looks out into the audience.

Scene fades to black.

END


HARRY'S TRUTH - A Play in One Act

Harry's Truth - A Play in One Act The truth may not set you free, but it can make you very unpopular. Are there cosmic truths? Harry thinks there are and he's discovered one which will make life easier, simpler and more fulfilling. He wants to share this epiphany with those he loves but not only do they not want to share in his enlightenment, they feel threatened by what he has to tell them. Much is at stake – careers, lifestyles, power – if Harry pursues his truth. For Deidre, his wife - all her life she has worked to overcome the stigma of being the daughter of the neighbourhood drunk. She has struggled for social status, “respectability” and to have “nice things”. Now she has attained it and more is within her grasp. She can’t allow Harry to jeopardize it. For Philip, his partner - his aggressive manner, lack of sophistication, short stature, balding pate, pudgy midriff and loud ties have made him a subject of derision among his colleagues, but landing this multi-million dollar client will change all that. Soon Harry’s condescension and the humiliation of his marriage will be overshadowed by the respect and power corporate success will bring. The “truth” is he only needs Harry to keep it together until the deal closes. After that, he can goddam well wander off into the wilderness if that’s what he wants. For Joan, Phil's wife - the bitterness of her affair with Harry twenty years ago in college has shaped and defined her life, But not Harry’s. No, he just up and left her in search for “the truth” and she had to survive as best she could on her own. Now he’s about to do it again – turn her world upside down with the same selfish, irresponsible behavior. Maybe she can’t stop this middle-age flight of fancy but she isn’t going to let him influence her teenage daughter with all his nonsense about “following your heart”. For Alexus, Joan’s daughter - her parent’s marriage is empty of love but filled with material possessions. How could “Uncle Harry’s” truth make anything worse? Her mom’s pushing her to go to college but that’s just more “preparing for life”. Uncle Harry’s truth sounds far more appealing. Better to fill your life with experiences than just more “stuff”.

  • ISBN: 9781310382581
  • Author: Rod Raglin
  • Published: 2016-07-10 07:50:09
  • Words: 11262
HARRY'S TRUTH - A Play in One Act HARRY'S TRUTH - A Play in One Act