If You Love Him
Written by Logan Toftness
KATE: a young woman, works at the bar.
SAM: Kate’s brother. He is child-like, but is not stupid or (god forbid) retarded. He lives in a mixed state of innocence and anger without much in between. He is sweet when he is happy. He is scary when he is angry, mostly because he doesn’t understand what his anger means. Think Lenny from Of Mice and Men.
LIZA: a woman about the same age as Kate, owns the bar.
TORSTEN: an old man, gravedigger. He is creepy, but needs to be incredibly kind. He is not malicious—he honestly believes he is helping.
RORY: a male stripper, works at the bar. He can be kind of stupid.
(An empty bar. LIZA is filling the pretzel bowls. KATE enters.)
LIZA: Well, there you are! I was worried you were going to be late for your shift again. You’re lucky this place isn’t popular.
KATE: Sorry—we had some issues getting here…
LIZA: (As SAM enters. Not impressed.) We?
(SAM goes directly to the bowl of pretzels LIZA just filled.)
SAM: Mmm, pretzels!
LIZA: (Gently to SAM.) Those are for paying customers, hon. There’s a whole bag in the back if you’d like to eat some.
SAM: Through here?
LIZA: Yep, you know where I keep them.
SAM: Thanks, Liza! You’re the best!
(SAM exits to the back.)
LIZA: Why is he here?
KATE: I had to bring him.
LIZA: Why? Kate, I’m your employer not your brother’s babysitter. We talked about this—you can’t take him with you everywhere you go!
KATE: I know, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t leave him with mom…
Liza, something bad happened.
LIZA: What do you mean?
KATE: It’s my mom. She’s dead.
LIZA: I’m so sorry. What happened?
KATE: It was an accident.
LIZA: What do you mean?
KATE: I went to visit them—my mother and Sam. She was cooking dinner, chopping onions for dinner, I mean. It was one of her bad days. She was angry at Sam because he broke a plate setting the table. He was just trying to help and she was telling him what an awful son he was and that she wished he would just die and leave her in peace so she could have her life back. And she had that big knife and she was getting all worked up and waving it around and Sam was getting so upset. He ran up to his room—didn’t see anything, thank god. Anyway, she fell. Hit her head on the corner of the table and didn’t get back up.
LIZA: Oh my god.
I need a drink. Lucky we’re in a bar, right?
(LIZA pours herself a drink.)
KATE: I’m sorry—I didn’t know who else to go to.
LIZA: Did the police never even cross your mind? God damn it, Kate.
KATE: It’s just…he’s my brother. I couldn’t leave him there—he’s like a child.
LIZA: Look, I know you never really liked the woman, but just leaving her there? Just let me call the cops. Just tell them what you told me.
LIZA: What? Why not?
KATE: Maybe she didn’t fall.
LIZA: Kate, did she or didn’t she?
KATE: I don’t know.
LIZA: How can you not know?
Kate, did you push her?
KATE: No, I--
LIZA: Oh god…It was Sam.
KATE: Liza, please…
LIZA: It was Sam! Oh god, okay. So what are you going to do?
KATE: I called someone to help me take care of…of things. He should be here soon. He called himself Torsten. After he does what he does, I’m leaving town. We are leaving town. Sam and me.
LIZA: What did you tell Sam?
KATE: Nothing…I told him I was inviting him to come stay with me for a little while. I made it sound like a special little vacation, just for him. He sounded excited.
LIZA: What if he finds out she’s dead?
KATE: He won’t. He’ll forget all about mom once he’s away from that place. He won’t even know the difference.
LIZA: Kate, maybe we should call someone about this—about him.
KATE: What do you mean?
LIZA: Don’t you ever get sick of taking care of him? Don’t you ever want a life of your own?
KATE: Liza, he’s my brother. It doesn’t matter what I want. He needs me.
LIZA: But what about what you need?
(SAM enters the room with a half-eaten bag of pretzels.)
LIZA: You’re back! I see you found the pretzels.
SAM: Yep! They’re great. And salty.
LIZA: Are you thirsty? I’ll get you some juice.
(LIZA gets some juice from behind the bar and takes it to SAM. He sits at a table and drinks it like it’s the best thing ever.)
KATE: (To LIZA.) Now, when Torsten gets here, don’t give him any details. It should be impersonal, business—that’s it. We give him the address. He’s in and out. Simple as that.
SAM: Who’s Torsten?
KATE: A friend. You’ll meet him. But I don’t want you to talk to him, okay?
SAM: Why can’t I talk to him. I want him to be my friend too!
KATE: It’s okay. I didn't mean--
SAM: WHY CAN’T HE BE MY FRIEND TOO?
KATE: Sam, calm down. You can be his friend too. But you have to be on your best behavior, okay? You know what? I bet Mr. Torsten would like to play a game with you. Remember the games we played when we were kids?
SAM: Yeah! What game?
KATE: We’ll play Lies and More Lies. Do you remember the rules?
SAM: Yes! You make up a story. You become someone else. I loved that one! When do we get to play?
KATE: As soon as Torsten gets here.
(A crotchety old man enters.)
LIZA: Congratulations, sir. You’re our first customer all week. What can I get you?
TORSTEN: I’m not a customer.
LIZA: No, no, of course not. Silly me, a stranger walks into my bar and I think maybe he’ll buy some alcohol. Ridiculous. Next someone’s going to tell me my cat is dead.
SAM: Your kitty died? Aww, not the kitty. I love kitties.
(SAM begins to get genuinely upset.)
KATE: No one’s cat is dead.
SAM: Oh? Really? (Very sadly serious. Does not yell.) Katie, don’t even joke about those things. That’s too sad.
TORSTEN: Like I said, I’m not here for a drink. I’m looking for someone.
KATE: Speak of the devil! You must be Torsten. You sounded younger on the phone…
TORSTEN: I’ll have you know, I am the very best at what I do. You can’t beat fifty years of experience.
LIZA: Wow, fifty years…and just what exactly is it that you do?
TORSTEN: Well, I’m a gravedigger by day. But at night I like to take on special side projects like this one. It never fails to spice things up a bit. Besides, I like helping folks out of a rough place. And the money ain’t bad either.
SAM: Is that him? Is that your friend? Can we play the game now?
KATE: I don’t know if that’s such a good idea…
SAM: I want to play. Do you want to play, Mr. Torsten?
TORSTEN: It’s just Torsten. What kind of game is it?
SAM: Ask me what my name is!
TORSTEN: All right, what is your name, young sir?
SAM: Uh…Fellatio Del Toro.
(SAM starts to do a little awkward wiggle.)
TORSTEN: I’m sorry, what did you say?
LIZA: (To KATE.) Does he know what he just said?
(SAM wiggles a little more intensely throughout the next line.)
KATE: Look, it’s not important—we have some business for you. A side job, I guess. Sam, stop dancing around—you’re freaking me out.
SAM: I can’t help it.
KATE: What are you doing?
SAM: I have to pee!
KATE: Then go pee.
(SAM exits to the bathroom.)
TORSTEN: He’s not quite right, is he?
TORSTEN: Nice boy though. Now, we were talking business.
KATE: Oh, yes! It’s about my mother. I need you to--
(RORY enters, shirtless, from the back. He goes over to LIZA and gives her a kiss on the cheek.)
RORY: Hey, babe. Kate. What’s this about your mother?
LIZA: She’s dead.
RORY: Oh? That’s rough. But hey, you never liked the bitch anyway, right? Anyway, who’s this? I’m late for one shift and suddenly we’re popular?
LIZA: Not at all. He’s not even a customer.
KATE: Did you sleep here? Liza!
LIZA: You kill your mother and you’re judging me for sleeping with a guy?
KATE: He’s a stripper!
LIZA: You’ve seen his show—he’s got a damn fine body. Somebody ought to be enjoying it.
TORSTEN: I know I sure am!
RORY: I’m going to go get dressed, I think…
(RORY exits to back.)
TORSTEN: Well, that got rid of him. Now, about that business. What were you saying about your mother? Are you putting a hit on her? It’s been a while, but I still know a thing or two…are we thinking poison—make it look accidental? Or do you want to send somebody a message? I do have knives and guns available. If you’d like to do the dirty work yourself, I can always rent you a few things…
LIZA: You do that? Yikes.
KATE: No, I don’t want any of that. You see, she’s dead already.
TORSTEN: Ah, so you just need me to dispose of the body. I see.
KATE: Yes. Exactly.
(SAM returns from the bathroom.)
SAM: Can we finish the game now?
KATE: Maybe a little later. I think Torsten was just about to--
(RORY enters, fully dressed.)
RORY: Oh, Sam’s here too? Sorry to hear about your news man. So, how’d your mom die anyway?
SAM: What? Our mom’s not dead.
TORSTEN: This should be interesting.
(He grabs a bowl of pretzels and eats it like popcorn at the movies, leaning against the bar watching the action until his next line.)
RORY: But Kate just said--
(The following should be increasingly verbally violent. No physical violence. If possible, he could break a glass or something.)
SAM: She’s not dead—she was just at home! I saw her! She told me I was bad because I broke that plate. I said I wouldn’t do it again. I WON’T DO IT AGAIN! DON’T SEND ME AWAY! PLEASE! I JUST WANT TO STAY HERE WITH MY FRIENDS! I WON’T BE BAD! I WON’T BE BAD!
(SAM exits to the back, still screaming.)
KATE: Sam. Sam. SAM!
(KATE follows him.)
LIZA: (Low. And still. Almost a growl.) What the hell are you doing, Rory?
RORY: What? How was I supposed to know he’d react like that?
(LIZA puts her hands on RORY’s shoulders.)
LIZA: (A quiet threat. Intense, not loud.) It’s SAM, you idiot. It’s SAM.
RORY: Okay, cool it. I’m sorry, okay?
(LIZA’s grip on RORY’s shoulders tightens slightly.)
LIZA: Get out.
(LIZA’s fingernails are digging in a little.)
LIZA: You heard me. Get out. Now.
RORY: Ow, god, stop it. You’re hurting me. My pain is real too!
(LIZA releases RORY. She takes a few steps back.)
(RORY leaves out the front.
The is an awkward silence.)
LIZA: So, uh, how did you get into this line of work?
TORSTEN: Job security. People never stop dying. People never stop wanting people dead. And it’s interesting. You don’t see shit like this everyday.
(KATE enters from back.)
LIZA: How is he?
KATE: He’s better—not very calm, but better. He’s eating all your pretzels.
LIZA: There are worse things he could do.
TORSTEN: Kate, can I ask you a question?
KATE: I guess so.
TORSTEN: What’s the plan with him?
KATE: What do you mean?
TORSTEN: I mean, what’s the plan? You can’t take him with you everywhere you go. You can’t spend your entire life tiptoeing around him.
KATE: What are you saying?
TORSTEN: I’m not saying anything. I’m asking you a question. Kate, is this who you want to become? Your brother’s babysitter? He’s never going to get any better. You can’t protect him from the one thing that is most dangerous to him.
KATE: What’s that?
KATE: He’s my brother.
TORSTEN: He could be free.
(SAM enters with an empty pretzel bag.)
SAM: I ate them all.
TORSTEN: Well, that’s my cue to leave. I’m off to bury your mother.
(TORSTEN starts to leave out the front.)
KATE: Sam. Do you want to play a game?
SAM: Yeah! What game are we playing?
KATE: It’s a brand new one.
SAM: What do I do?
KATE: I need you to stand behind the bar and close your eyes.
(Sam stand behind the bar facing away from KATE and closes his eyes.)
KATE: Are you ready?
(KATE slowly stands behind him, the bar separating them.)
(KATE picks up a bottle from the bar. Her hands are shaking.)
KATE: Sam. I love you, okay?
(KATE raises the bottle.)
KATE: I love you.
(KATE cracks SAM over the head, hard. He falls behind the bar. He does not move.)
TORSTEN: I’ll bury him too.
KATE: Let him be free.
© Logan Toftness 2013