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The Smarter One
by Marcus Del Greco
Originally presented 12/97 at the University of New Hampshire with the following cast:
Directed by Gianni Downs
(Lights up on RANDY in the family farmhouse kitchen, arms spread and making engine noises. RANDY is in his late twenties, but mentally slow. He runs around the room in flight. CHESTER, the attorney, sits at the table going over his papers.)
RANDY: I'm flying in a big plane!
CHESTER (humouring him, not looking): Oh, yeah, Randy?
RANDY: Yeah. Look how high!
CHESTER (still not looking): That's impressive, Randy.
RANDY (stopping): When's Eddie coming?
CHESTER: Your brother and his wife are going to be late, Randy. Remember?
RANDY: Oh, yeah.
CHESTER: Now try to be calm when they arrive, okay. This is a very stressful time for everyone.
RANDY: I know.
CHESTER: Your daddy was a good man.
RANDY: He really not coming back?
CHESTER: No, Randy,
RANDY (sad): Yeah. I know,
CHESTER: Your daddy was a great man, Randy. He made his share of mistakes, but I never met a man with a bigger heart. He made provisions so that you'd be taken care of.
(enter EDWARD and his wife MARIE)
RANDY (running up and hugging him): Eddie!
EDWARD (hugs him back half-heartedly): Hey, Randy.
RANDY (burying his head in his brothers shoulder): Oh, Eddie.
EDWARD: Okay. Calm down.
RANDY: How come you never call me?
EDWARD: I've been very busy, Randy. My office is crazy.
MARIE: He's a very busy man, Randy.
RANDY (coy): Oh. Hi, Marie.
CHESTER: Eddie- good to see you.
EDWARD (shaking hands): Chester.
CHESTER: Glad to catch you around these parts again. I'm just sorry it has to be for such a sad occasion.
EDWARD: Well, you know-
CHESTER: I know this must be hard for you, Eddie.
MARIE: Edward and I were broken up when we heard.
CHESTER: I'm aware that your brother (indicating RANDY) has missed you an awful lot.
RANDY: Eddie's very busy.
EDWARD: Right. Chester, Marie and I have some concerns about the inheritance.
MARIE: Yes, we have questions
CHESTER: Why don't we sit?
EDWARD: Marie has been very intent on putting the money in a trust fund-
MARIE: For the education of our two kids.
EDWARD: Right. I think it's a good idea. I think Dad would have agreed.
CHESTER: Let's not get ahead of ourselves. There are issues concerning Randy that are going to affect this whole process.
RANDY: Eddie- will you go flying with me? (he buzzes about the room)
EDWARD: What, Randy?
CHESTER: He's been doing this "airplane" thing ever since you're father passed.
EDWARD (sarcastic): Charming.
RANDY: But Eddie-
EDWARD: Not now, okay? (RANDY backs off, the quieted child) We have some things to talk about, you understand? (RANDY nods)
MARIE (to CHESTER): What do you mean, "issues concerning Randy?" We were under the impression that he'd become a ward of the State.
CHESTER: That hasn't changed, however-
EDWARD: And only the money from selling this farm would go to his living fund. Everything else would be ours.
CHESTER: That's right. But... I'm afraid there is no other money.
MARIE: This isn't funny.
CHESTER: I'm not kidding you. Perhaps we'd best hear the Will. (he takes the will from an envelope) Your father testified to this will two years ago, with myself as witness.
EDWARD: This had better be good.
CHESTER: I'll read it slowly; I think he explains everything. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you earlier, by my oath to the Bar-
EDWARD: We know, we know. Just read what the old man has to say.
RANDY: Eddie, I want to tell you about the airplane!
EDWARD: I don't want to hear about any airplanes right now, Randy! We're doing something important here; can you please just shut up for awhile?
(RANDY backs off ashamed) Go ahead, Chester.
CHESTER (clearing throat): "To My Boys, after I am gone. I have long considered these last words to you, and I hope..."
(the lights dim and a white light from above shines on the table. The OLD MAN'S voice fades in over CHESTER'S as the actors go into tableau.)
VOICE OF THE OLD MAN: "...and I hope you are in good enough spirits to receive them. I don't imagine you'd shed too many tears over my tired bones, anyhow. Whatever the case, there are some things I have to tell you. When a man passes off he likes to think he's handing down his kingdom. But I don't have a kingdom for you. I had money once, money you may have been counting on, Edward, but I invested it poorly and lost everything a few years ago. I was too ashamed to tell you before. I'm sorry."
"Of course the farm will have to be sold to provide for my Randy, who stayed with me and worked this land by my side for so many years. Randy: I love you, boy. Remember all the things I told you. I wish you could stay and work this farm like I know you want to, but you just can't and we both know why. You're the best boy a man could ask for, Randy."
"Eddie, you were the smarter one, and as I write this I am comforted knowing that you can always take care of yourself. If you were man enough to take responsibility for your brother Randy, too, this farm would have been yours. But as it is, the family land will be lost and your brother will turn a ward of the State. Though this is a grave disappointment to me, I am nonetheless very proud of you and your successful career. All my love, Pop."
CHESTER (simultaneous, as the lights switch back): "...and your successful career. All my love, Pop."
EDWARD (stunned and angry): Well. I guess that's about it, then.
MARIE: Edward, don't be mad. It isn't the end of the world
EDWARD: To Hell it isn't! I've just been screwed by my own father and you're telling me it isn't the end of the world.
CHESTER (indicating boxes): You still have your father's personal belongings to sift through.
EDWARD: Sell them with the house. Marie, let's get back to the hotel.
RANDY (approaching, upset): Eddie!
EDWARD: Don't... touch. (RANDY recoils) I'll call you some time at the group home, Randy. Chester, you have my number.
CHESTER: I'm... sorry, Eddie.
(EDWARD just looks at him for a moment:, then at RANDY, and then they exit)
RANDY (sad): Eddie's mad at me.
CHESTER: No he isn't. I think Eddie's mad at your Daddy.
RANDY (admitting this next fact to himself): Daddy was mad at Eddie a lot, too.
CHESTER: I imagine he was, Randy. Listen, let me give you a ride to the home. How about it?
RANDY: No, I can walk. It's not far. I like to walk.
CHESTER: Well, I suppose it isn't that far. A man can walk if he wants to.
RANDY: Yeah. I want to look for some of my things here, anyhow.
CHESTER: You do that. Take care, Randy,
CHESTER: I'm sure I'll see you from time to time
CHESTER: Chin up, Boy Scout.
(RANDY waits where he is until CHESTER leaves with his papers, watching to make sure he is gone. The lights dim once again, with the white light shining on the table. The OLD MAN'S voice begins as RANDY runs to the cabinet and opens it.)
VOICE OF THE OLD MM: Now Randy, you don't fetch that money till there's not a soul around, hear me? Don't let anyone see you.
(RANDY looks around once more, paranoid. Pulling aside a plank, he pulls a small briefcase from hiding.)
VOICE OF THE OLD MAN: You don't never let anyone know you have that money, Randy. You hide it like a squirell hides nuts.
(cautiously, RANDY brings the briefcase to the table and opens it)
VOICE OF THE OLD MAN: Ain't no son of mine gonna live in no halfway house for the half-witted. Get on the bus, boy, and go to the airport. Use a little of that money to buy a ticket to the city, and bring that case on the plane with you. Remember to bring the case on the plane. Got it?
RANDY (putting a few bills in his pocket, remembering): I can remember that, Daddy.
VOICE OF THE OLD MAN: Nobody's gonna look twice at you in the city, boy. When you get there, find yourself a nice little room and start looking for a job right away. You have to get a job so people don't wonder how you're living.
RANDY (pleased with himself): I can do any job!
VOICE OF THE OLD MAN: Right you can. And if anyone asks you, Randy, you tell lem you do just fine on your own. You hear that? Just fine, you do.
RANDY: I don't want to go without you, though, Daddy.
(RANDY waits a moment, and listens)
RANDY: Daddy? Daddy?
(it dawns on him that he was only remembering)
(the lights come back up and RANDY hesitates, not sure what to do. A smile crosses his face as he recalls, and he closes the briefcase)
RANDY: I'm going flying!
(He runs out the door with the briefcase. Blackout.)
Marcus Del Greco has been writing for the page, stage, and record since 1992. He founded mindmined.com in 1998 and continues as editor and developer of this domain and a small network of other creative websites. He lives in Alton, New Hampshire.
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