Randy Ford Author- ICKY’S TOOLBOX

ICKY’S TOOLBOX

by Randy Ford

CHARACTERS
Jane
Tommy
Icky (An infant)
Bartender

(A couple of weeks before Christmas: interior and exterior of a back unit of Paradise Motel.  Paradise Motel is not paradise. A seedy room in a seedy motel, with a door to bathroom prominently placed in center. A double bed with bare mattress sits downstage and up against invisible wall and next to door. To one side there is a closet; on other side, odd table and couple of chairs. The room also comes with hot plate and tiny refrigerator and small, black-and-white television. There’s running water in bathroom and running water in large sink that occupies small alcove in rear. There’s always water running, running in toilet and dripping in shower. Consequently, besides dirt and grime, walls are covered with mold. Smelly, crowded, and cluttered, and with belongings of occupants and garbage and trash thrown on floor, room couldn’t hold much more.

At rise: Sounds of birth of child come from bathroom. Jane is in there, alone, giving birth to a boy while sitting on toilet. Because she has been drinking, she endures incredible pain.  Audience knows what’s going on from sounds.  It becomes clearer to them when a baby cries.  Jane curses throughout process of giving birth.

Tommy enters from street, carrying rake, hoe and six- pack of beer. Dressed in shabby work clothes, he looks dirty and beat. He doesn’t rush because he doesn’t know girlfriend’s situation. He fumbles for his key and drops rake and hoe. Having worked all day and walked a fair piece, he decides to rest for a minute in a lawn chair outside room.

Meanwhile, Jane shuffles in, carrying her newborn swaddled in a sheet. Having given birth by herself, she has stopped bleeding with a towel, tied it in place with a shredded piece of a slip. She doesn’t own robe, so she’s in faded muumuu. With her eyes transfixed and in pain, all her attention and concern is focused on infant. She is exhausted, inebriated, and pleased.)

Jane
Oh, my! My baby! My baby! Don’t cry baby. Baby, baby.  Don’t cry.
(Walking through trash, she coos.)
Googoo gaga! Googoo! Daddy won’t forget you.  Daddy won’t forget us.  He’s at work.  He has to work for us.
(She places infant in center of bed.)
Sweeeetie, don’t you go anywhere! Don’t go pee-pee poo-poo. Mommy will be right back. Daddy forgot Pampers. Won’t he be surprised!  Surprised, surprised, surprised, you’re here.  Don’t go anywhere.  Don’t move!
(She is sore and moves slowly. She goes to bathroom, flushes toilet, and reemerges with another towel.)
Hellooo, sweeetie! Goo, goo, goo.
(Laying the towel out on the bed)
Smiiile, pretty baby! Pretty baby. Where did you get your blue eyes? Not from me. Not from Tommy. Let me see!
(She places the infant on the towel and removes swaddling.)
Cootchie! Cootchie goo! Don’t cry! No binkie. I’m sorry. No binkie. No Pampers. Oh, my God! A ding dong! Oh, my God. A ding dong. And blue eyes. Tommy! Tommy! A ding dong!
(She yells and cries at the same time. Tommy finally hears commotion and can’t unlock door fast enough.  Then he stops.  By then Jane has placed a pacifier in her infant’s mouth.

Jane

How was it?

Tommy

Hard.  Hot.  And for you?

Jane

I haven’t had a good day.  I haven’t had help.  Well, I needed help.

Tommy

Here I am.

Jane

He has a dang dong.  He’s a boy.  A boy.  Tommy, you have a boy.  Not a girl.  Tommy, you wanted a boy.

(Tommy sits on bed, takes his son, and begins counting his fingers and toes.  Jane watches him with a big smile.)

Tommy

Ten toes, ten fingers, and one dang dong.

Jane

Yes.  Yes, you have a son, Tommy.  Now what kind of day did you have?

Tommy

Still hard, hot, and long.  And you haven’t had a good day.

Jane

I’ll tell you what, though.  It was also a glorious day.

Tommy

Yes.  Go on.

Jane

Why do I need to explain?  Why?  Only a while ago, where were you?  I know … I know …  Where were you when I needed you.  I know … I know.  You were working, and I didn’t ask for help.  I didn’t need your help.  Then I needed your help.  It wasn’t a good day.  Then it was a glorious day.

Tommy

I have to work.  I had to work.  Work, work, work.  There is no work, so I had to work.  We moved from Prescott because there was no work.  Now we’re here, and there is nt work.  So I work, work, work, work in heat.  Work day by day without knowing if I’m working tomorrow.  But of course, you know this.

Jane

I know you had to work.  I know you needed to work.  I know you work hard.  I know you had a hot, long day.  Then when I could’ve used you, you weren’t here.  I know, I know, you needed to work.  We needed you to work.  We needed money.  We need money to live.  You need to work.  Work, work, work.  You needed to work.  We needed you to work.  But I worked, worked, and worked and worked and worked … pushed, pushed, and pushed today … today too.

Tommy

I’m sorry.

Jane
I’m sorry.  But see what you did!  It’s a boy with a ding dong! And blue eyes! Oh, my! Where did he get blue eyes?

Tommy
Idiot! Why didn’t you tell me! I would’ve stayed home, stayed home from work today.

Jane

You heard me tell you, didn’t you?

Tommy

Yes.

Jane

Well?

Tommy

Yes.  It’s a boy.

Jane

Well?  What do you say?  You get to hold him.

Tommy

It’s different when you’re a father.  I’ll work hard.  I’ll have to work harder, but there aren’t jobs here … no work.

Jane

Yes, there are no jobs, and you have to work.  But I just had a baby, stupid.

Tommy

Yes, a baby.  I am stupid.  I thought I was sensitive.

Jane

Are you?  Then do you part.

Tommy

I do.  Where does our money come from?  And where does it go?  Now I have to work more, when there are no jobs.  I was lucky to get picked today.  I was lucky today.  He’s crying.

Jane
And no binkie.  And no Pampers.

Tommy
I noticed.

Jane
And no Pampers.
Tommy
Yes.  No Pampers.  I’ll run get some.

Jane

Okay.

Tommy

I’m in charge.

Jane

You are head of the household, are you?  Yes, I’ve noticed.  We should’ve had Pampers.  I thought you would’ve thought of it.

Tommy

I did.  Only I didn’t expect … not today … not here today … today … today, or else I would’ve stayed home.  Pampers?

Jane

Pampers.  And a binky, if they have them.

Tommy

Right.

(Tommy hand Jane baby, runs out door, and off stage.}

Jane

Let me down again.  Up in Prescott; now here.  We’re not married, see.  We have a baby, and we’re not married, see.  I met this guy, Tommy.  And I fell in love with this guy, Tommy.  We couldn’t wait to get married, so we didn’t wait until we got married, and I got pregnant.  Well, it has been an inconvenience, an inconvenience.  I’m trying, trying, trying to make the best of it, and trying to make it the best inconvenience I have ever had.  Always kind to me.  Anytime I asked Tommy has always been kind to me.  Very kind to me.  He has been my best boyfriend.  I have never been without a boyfriend.  Now Tommy has been my best boyfriend.  He’s gone now.  Went.  I am alone now.  I am alone again.  Went to get Pampers.  And left me alone with this.  What am doing with this?  What am I doing with a baby?  He knew we would need Pampers.  Pampers?  Why didn’t he think of Pampers?   My life now depends on Pampers.  It’s life and death to me: Pampers.  I had to get pregnant.  Now this.  What happened to Tommy?  I used to know Tommy.  He was my best boyfriend.  Do you know what that bastard did to me?  See what that bastard did to me.  See what that bastard left me with.  Can’t change it now.  Nothing worse.  I said to Tommy, look, we have to make the best of it.  I said to Tommy, look, you’re no good for me, but we have to make the best of it.  Look, look, look, what you did, what you did to me, and we have to make the best of it.  Now, look I’m your old lady, for better or worse, I’m your old lady and look where we are.  Look what you are doing.  Look here, I said, I’m not asking for much but now look where we are … look at what you are doing.  Working temporary labor because you can’t find a job.  There are no jobs, so you are working temporary labor.  Get out and find a find a job, a real job, and now it cost you to work.  You have to work, so you can’t find a job.  There are no jobs.  I went out looking for job, see.  Job they wouldn’t give me.  Job they wouldn’t give me because I’m p g, p g, and whose fault is it?  Some stranger, some stranger took me to his bed.  I ran away with some stranger.  I ran away with some stranger and didn’t finish school.  Right, I got p g because of a stranger.  I ran away with a stranger.  I didn’t finish school because of a stranger. Then I said “what does that make me?  What?  Who am I?  Now tell, who am I?  Tommy, tell me, who am I?  To run off with a stranger, who am I?  To get p g by a stranger, Tommy, tell me, who am I?  I’ve got a mind to report you to my parents.  I’ve a mind to report you, Tommy.  Tommy, I’ve a mind to report you for not taking care of me.  Look!  Look around!  Look, look, what do you see?  Look, what you did to me!

(Tommy comes into room with Pampers.)

Tommy

Here I am!  Pampers!   They are right, right?  They had only one brand.  Pampers!  Where’s my boy?  My boy.

Jane

Here.

(Jane hands him his son)

Tommy

Cootchie! Cootchie goo! How you doing son? How do you like this world? Special, isn’t it? Jane! What are we going to do?  Jane, what are we doing here?  Jane, what are we doing with a baby?

Jane
Hell, I don’t know. But you going to run the store. He’s already squirted.

Tommy
He’s hungry. You haven’t fed him yet? And he’s mad. See he’s all red and screaming.
Jane
My milk hasn’t come in yet.  I can let him suck, but my milk hasn’t come in yet.

Tommy

Ay, well then … I’ll run and get some milk.

Jane

No!  No, I’ll get it sorted out.

Tommy

Meanwhile, he’ll starve.  Pretty soon, we’ll have to start thinking about college.

Jane

My milk will come soon … pretty soon now.  Breast milk is the best for babies.

Tommy

Where will he sleep?

Jane

Here.

Tommy

Not in our bed.

Jane

Then where?

Tommy

We’ll get a crib.  We need a crib.  I should have of it.  We need a crib.

Jane

Oh, I see.  Well, it’s good that you’re thinking of it now.  I tell you what … No, I’ll let you do the thinking.  You’re the thinker of this household.

Tommy

I’ll pick up one tomorrow.  I’ll work tomorrow and pick up a crib after work.

Jane

A crib should come in handy.  Meanwhile?

Tommy

Meanwhile, he sleeps here.  Meanwhile, our son sleeps with us.

Jane

I’m glad that’s settled.  Little things like that upset me.

Tommy

Now what?

Jane

What?  He’s yours.  I’m exhausted.                                                                                                                                            (She gives him the infant.)
You don’t care about me.  You don’t care about our son.   Here I’m split open, still bleeding, and you don’t care.

Tommy
I do. I do care.  What you did was heroic.

Jane
You think so? He scared me. He came too fast. My water broke. The joke was on me. I thought I had time.

Tommy
I’m sorry … very sorry.  What can I do?

Jane
Take care of him, while I rest.

Tommy
I don’t know about this. He’s a baby.  He’s your baby.  He’s my baby.  He’s our baby.  Look healthy.  Healthy in unhealthy situation.  You need a car, man.  You’ll need a job to buy a car.  You’ll need a job to raise a family.  You don’t deserve this mess … this dump … this mess.  Son, I like working with my hands.  But son, you don’t have to be like me.  Son, you can be whatever you want to be.  Son, you do what you want to do.  Son, you can be who you are.  Son, you don’t have to be like me.  It’s your choice … your choice.  What do you think?  It’s okay.  It’s okay with me.  Yes, I was pleased when I heard you were coming.  It made me happy.  This is where you will sleep.  Here.  With daddy on one side and mommy on other side and you in middle.  You’ll keep mommy and daddy separated.  I give you my hand.  Here.

Jane
That’s right Tommy! He’s our baby. Yours and mine. A baby. Our baby.  We don’t deserve one. I’m a mess. You’re a mess. And in there…there’s a bigger mess in the bathroom. A big mess!

Tommy
(Indicating the room) And we share it
Jane
You see … you see, Tommy, we can’t live like this.  With a baby we can’t live like this.

Tommy
I know.  I’ll clean it up.

Jane
Clean it up?  It’s too much.  That’s what you always say.  You always say you’ll clean it up,  You’ve said it for weeks.

Tommy
This could be a nice place.  We could clean, clean, clean it up.

Jane
Oh, yes.  Yes, yes, yes.   Welcome to Heaven on earth. Welcome to paradise …  Paradise Motel.

Tommy
Don’t worry about anything.

Jane

Tommy, what are we going to do?  We can’t live without money.  We can’t live here.   We can’t raise a child without money. We can’t raise a child here.   How can we raise a child without money?

Tommy

Well … if you want the truth.  We can’t live without money.  We can’t raise a child without money.  We need money.  We’ll need money.

Jane

Thank you!  I’m glad we have that straight.

Tommy

It’s what it is.  I’ll work.  I’ll find a steady job, and I’ll work.  I’ll start tomorrow.  I’ll start looking for a real job tomorrow.  Yes, it’s what it is.

Jane
If only something would turn up.  Look at me. Look! I’m bleeding. Little man ripped me apart.  I’m a bloody mess.

(Jane goes into the bathroom, leaving the infant with Tommy.)

Tommy
Where you going?

Jane
I’m going cookoo!

Tommy

Your what?

Jane

I’m going crazy?

Tommy

Should I call 911?  Why didn’t you call 911?

Jane
911? And have them see this! See this mess.  We live in a mess!  We are a mess.  I want to keep him, so I didn’t call 911.

Tommy
Mess.
(Beat)
Jane, what do you call him?

Jane
Boy.  I call him boy.

Tommy
You can’t call him just Boy. He needs a real name, a real name.  He needs a real name.

Jane
(Appearing briefly in the bathroom door)
Tommy!  I want to call him Tommy.

Tommy

Tommy.  We can’t call him Tommy.  If we call him Tommy, there will be too much confusion.  There will be too much confusion in the family if we call him Tommy   I have rights to the name.  Look, let’s call him something else.  Let’s give him some other name.  But I can live with it.  I can live with calling him Tommy.  I don’t have strong feelings about it.

Jane

You do.

Tommy

I don’t.

Jane

You do, or else you wouldn’t have objected, objected to begin with

Tommy
We will name him Tommy.  We will name him after me.  It’s settled.  We will name after me.  He will be honored.

Jane
I know it will do no good to object.  But I didn’t have anything to do with it.

Tommy

Do you have a better name?

Jane

Of course not.

(Pause}

Tommy
From the beer cans, it looks as if you had quite a party.

Jane
If only you were here!  We would have so much to share.  But you had to work.  You took a hole, you took a rake, and you went to work.  You worked all day without a break.  You get it implanted in your brain.  I worked all day, I worked all day long, and gave you a son without help.

Tommy

How long did it take you?

Jane

All day long.

Tommy

All day long.

Jane

All day long without help.

Tommy

How long?

Jane

All day long without help, and I’m exhausted.

Tommy

Anytime you want to go to bed, I’ll take care of our son.

Jane

Well, I think I will.  I think I will.  I’m exhausted.

Tommy

(Indicating the Pampers)

Should I put … yes, I should.  I see I should.  Squirted.

Jane

Yes, but wait ..  I see he squirted.  God, I’m exhausted.  You know nothing about exhaustion.  You know nothing about pain.  You don’t know what it means to be a mother.  You weren’t around when Icky decided to come. Now it’s your turn.  But you have to be careful with him.  He had already had a rough time. Tommy, or Icky, take your pick!

(He struggles with a pamper.)

Tommy
Let me do it.

Jane
He needs tubby-time.

Tommy
We all do! We all do! We’ll clean, and we’ll clean.

II

(Six days before Christmas.  Physical location hasn’t changed; only now motel room has been spruced up with a new coat of paint. Debris has been removed. Belongings of occupants are in closet and out of sight. There are clean sheets on bed. No more leaks. No running toilet. In contrast with previous scene, everything is clean, neat, and orderly.
Room has been rearranged to accommodate, along with supplies for the baby, a crib, changing table, and rocking chair. There is also small, fully decorated Christmas tree, and placed around it are a small number of presents. Finally, in a prominent place, is a large photo of smiling couple and their infant with Santa Claus.

At rise: with his infant son in his arms, Tommy is rocking. As he talks, he smiles, while audience also hears shower.)

Tommy

What?  How long has it been, Tommy?  My how you’ve grown.  Must be … must be weeks … three weeks … three weeks old.  Any time you want to … any time you want to walk … any time you want to crawl … any time you want to run.  Eh, well Tommy, I’m proud of you.  Tommy, Tommy … your old man is proud of you.  Guess what?  Tommy, your old man got himself a job … a real job … not a temporary job … a real job, a real job as a carpenter’s helper.  Well, well, what do you think?  A carpenter’s help, a real job, a real paycheck and a real tool box.  A real tool box, and I’ll soon have my own tools: hammer, saw, level, plumb line … my own tools.  Not bad.  Not bad.  I have it from certain sources Tommy: your old man is about to become a carpenter’s helper.  Not bad.  Not bad. And then he’s moving up.  And guess what, I’ll bring you something for Christmas.  And I’ll bring home a ham for Christmas … a ham for Christmas.  A big ham for Christmas.

Jane
(Coming out of the bathroom in a robe and drying her hair with a towel)
Were you dreaming or something?

Tommy
Dreaming?

Jane
Yes, it’s like a dream, isn’t it?

Tommy
Yes.  Yes, I have a job.
(He gives her the baby.)

Now you have a job.

Jane

Tommy!

Tommy

Just kidding.

Jane

You don’t kid.

Tommy

I do now.

Jane

Now wait a minute.

Tommy

Why are you laughing?

Jane

Me?  Not me.  I wasn’t laughing.

Tommy

Caught you.

Jane

Caught?  Me?

Tommy

Yes.

Jane

I don’t laugh.  What would I be laughing about?  Why would I be happy?

Tommy

I don’t know.

Jane

Oh, Tommy.  I’m so happy.

Tommy

Maybe.  Maybe, we can move out of here.  Maybe, maybe, soon.

Jane

Do you think…think…maybe … maybe …?  I’ll go with you.

Tommy

Where?

Jane

Wherever you go. Wherever you want,

Tommy

Anywhere that’s up.  That’s my opinion.

Jane

I better go with you.

Tommy

You better.  I love you, Jane.

Jane

And I love you, Tommy.  And you Icky.  I love you Icky.  So I wasn’t dreaming.  I never dream.

(Tommy moves to door.)

Where are you going?  Going somewhere?  I better come with you.  We’re going up.  Going somewhere?

Tommy

No.

Jane

Why?

Tommy

Well, I don’t want to tell you.  Maybe it’s a secret.

Jane

A secret?  We don’t have secrets.

Tommy

Secrets can be … can be …

Jane

Can be what?

Tommy

I think I’ll take a stroll.

Jane

And do what?

Tommy

Stroll and …

Jane

Stroll and what?

Tommy

It’s a secret.

Jane

Bastard.

Tommy

Maybe I’ll buy something that’s very useful.

Jane

Buy?  Buy? Buy?  That’s it.  You’re going to spend money we don’t have.

Tommy

If I buy, buy something, I will only spend money we don’t have yet.

Jane

Wait!  Wait!  Wait at least until you have a paycheck … until you have your first paycheck.

Tommy

I’ll buy a ham.  I’m going to buy you a ham.

Jane

On credit?

Tommy

Credit.  Well, well, if it comes down to it.  Remember it’s Christmas, and I know where they are giving away hams.  Jane, do you have a recipe for ham.

Jane.

You know, I was sitting here watching television the other day.  I happen to be sitting here nursing Icky.  Well, we were watching a cooking show about cooking for the upcoming holidays; it was here that I learned how to fix a ham.  You need cloves and pineapple, toothpicks and pineapple.  Anyway, we were just sitting here, having this conversation … Icky and me talking.  He was telling me stuff, telling me stuff about what he wanted to be when he grows up … then suddenly the cooking lady started explaining how to fix a ham … so she said it was easy.  So get out of here.  And don’t hurry.

Tommy

Well, I’ll hang around for a while.

Jane

I hope so.

Tommy

Well, I’ve been around, you know.

Jane

I knew it.

Tommy

You didn’t mind.

Jane

I did, and I didn’t.

Tommy

I was …

Jane

I know what you were.  I knew.

Tommy

I’m not proud of it.  Going back … I’m not proud of it.  Not a good way … you know … not a good way … not a good way to start.

Jane

What do you want me to say?

Tommy

Nothing.  You don’t have to say anything.  It wasn’t a good way to start.  Women.

Jane

Stop.  I don’t want to know.

Tommy

You said you knew.

Jane

I did, and I didn’t.  Tommy, he’s ours. Icky is ours.

Tommy

I wish you would stop calling him Icky.

Jane
Life’s good. It’s sure good to have a baby.

Tommy
And it’s good to have my baby back.

Jane
What do you mean?  What do you mean by “it’s good to have my baby back?”

Tommy
You’re smiling.  You’re smiling more.

Jane
Well, how about that?
(Looking at her baby.)
Hiiii, sweeetie. I’m so proud of you. Gosh, yes. I know it must sound funny hearing me talk to him like that. But it’s true! I’m proud of him.  I’m proud of our son.

Tommy
I don’t get credit … credit I deserve it.  Credit, credit, we deserve it.

Jane
Yes, we did it.  He’ll do better than us.

Tommy
Smarter! So that he won’t end living at the Paradise.

(Tommy leaves)

Jane
Helloooo, sweeeetie. Give me a big, big smiiile. I bet you’ll be just like your old man. Ornery and good. You better be. Here’s your binkie. No, Icky wants his cow. And then you’re gunna learn your abc’s for mommy. You’ll love animals just like I love daddy. Someday you’ll go googoo and gaga and go googoo and gaga over some gal. Oh, yes you will. Play perty. Poop and…poop …. Oh, my God, I think you’ve pooped a stinky poo.
(She places her son on the changing table, removes the full Pamper and replaces it with a fresh one.)
Talk to me. Say poop! That’s what you do best. Poop!

III

(Christmas Eve of ’82: bar at Cow Palace. It’s late, and the place is empty except for Jane and bartender. She sits on a stool at bar, while bartender listens to her sorrow. While drinking, she has cried and cried until she can’t cry anymore. Jane is now smartly dressed in black pants and a black top. She also wears a flat, black hat with a wide brim, which she refuses to take off.)

Bartender
That’s it for you Miss.

Jane
Go away.

Bartender
Eh?

Jane

Yes. Go away.

Bartender

This might be Christmas Eve.

Jane

Christmas Eve.  Is this Christmas Eve?

Bartender

Yes.

Jane

I’m glad it’s Christmas Eve for you.  It’s nice it’s Christmas Eve for you, but it’s not nice for me.

Bartender

Sorry.

Jane

Terrible!

Bartender

I didn’t stay open so some fool could get drunk and kill someone.

Jane
Kill someone.  No, no, no, go away.  You remind me it’s Christmas Eve.  You won’t let me get anymore drunk.  This is a bar, and you won’t let me have more to drink, so go away.   Have to forget.  Want to forget, forget, forget, forget.  Go away.

Bartender

Okay.

Jane

No.  No, no, don’t leave me.  You don’t know.  You can’t know.  You don’t know.  You can’t know.  Very much like his dad.  That was it.  Very much like his dad.  But he didn’t get a chance.  Icky didn’t get a chance.  Didn’t get a chance to crawl.  Didn’t get a chance to walk.  Didn’t get a chance to run.  Didn’t get a chance.  Didn’t get a chance.  Didn’t get a chance to grow up.  Day after he was born … day after Icky was born everything changed, everything changed for us.  Day after Icky was born Tommy changed, I changed, we both changed.  Couldn’t live in a mess anymore.  Couldn’t live in filth, filthy mess anymore.  Icky needed changing table.  Icky needed crib.  Icky needed talcum powder.  Icky needed Tommy.  Icky needed me.  Icky needed his daddy.  Icky needed his mommy.  Icky needed this.  Icky needed that,

Bartender
Listen!  I don’t know who you are!  Listen, I stay open on Christmas Eve for people like you.  I stay open because …

Jane

I don’t care.  Icky slept in his crib.  Icky always slept in his crib.  Police asked us … Icky always slept in his crib.  Icky never slept with us.   Police asked if Icky slept with us, Tommy and me.

Bartender

I don’t know who you are.  I haven’t seen you before.  You haven’t been in here before.  I know you haven’t been in here before.  I would remember you … remember your face … if you had been in here before.  I never forget a face.

Jane

Believe it or not.  Police asked us all kinds of questions.  Actually I think they thought we did something to Icky.  Actually I think they thought we hurt him, hurt Icky, hurt our baby.  Actually thought we neglected our baby.  Actually thought we allowed something to happen to our baby. Well, of course, we felt guilty.  We feel guilty, guilty of something, guilty of hurting our son, guilty of neglecting our son, guilty of allowing something to happen to our son.  Police came, police came and asked questions.  Naturally we look guilty.

Bartender

What’s the matter Miss? I watched you all night, and …

Jane

What?  I’ve cried?

Bartender

Yes.

Jane

Cried, cried and cried all night?

Bartender

Yes, you cried, cried all night.

Jane
I cried.

Bartender
Shouldn’t you go home?

Jane
I don’t have a home.

Bartender
You were brought here.

Jane
Tommy.  Where’s Tommy?  My boyfriend. My little… He was supposed to be back by now.

Bartender
Who’s Tommy?

Jane

The man I live with.  He …

Bartender

He dropped you off …

Jane

That was Tommy, the man I live with …

Bartender

And you don’t have a home?

Jane

He was working.  We had a place to live … a place to live … in the Paradise … Paradise Motel.  He brought me here.

Bartender

And he will pick you up?

Jane

Are you worried about it?

Bartender

No.  But it is getting late, and I’ll be closing soon.

Jane

You from around here?

Bartender

Yes.

Jane

Born and raised here.

Bartender

Yes.   And you?

Jane

No.  Prescott.  Tommy went to the bus station to buy two tickers … no, buy three … and do something else.

Bartender
Going far?

Jane
No, just to Prescott.   Have I been sitting here long?

Bartender

A long time, and drinking.

Jane

What time is it?  We’ll miss our bus.  And you’re closing soon?

Bartender

Soon.

Jane

And he’ll hate me.  He hates me.  He’ll hate me all right … he …  I’ve come to the conclusion Tommy will hate me.  I wasn’t a good mother, and he’ll hate me because I wasn’t a good mother.  You were meant to be a mother.  You don’t have what it takes to be a good mother.  You got no business thinking you could be a mother.  I know, I know, I know I didn’t havea chance.  One day I had Icky, one day I could hold Icky, One I day I could feed Icky … then, then … I went to his crib.  In the morning, I went to his crib and …  But my milk never came through.  Here I am, and my milk didn’t come through.  Does it embarrass you when I tell you my milk didn’t come through?  I don’t why it should embarrass you.  If you are at all inquisitive you would want to know why my milk didn’t come through.  Tell me, don’t you want to know why my milk didn’t come through, why I was dry and couldn’t breastfeed Icky?  Tell me, I would like to know.  I’m sure police would like to know.  They were looking for answers.  I wanted answers.  They questioned us and questioned, questioned us.  There were no answers, no answers, no answers, and no proof, no proof that we did anything, anything wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Well, we’ll miss our bus, and he’ll hate me.

Bartender

You can’t stay here.  If he doesn’t come for you, you can’t stay here.

Jane

He’ll come.  He’ll come.  I know he’ll come   Another beer!  What good are you? Can’t you see this is the hardest thing that I’ve ever had face in my life!  Can’t you see that this was the hardest day of my life?

Bartender
I can see you’re upset.

Jane
Upset! Shit!

Bartender
Shit?

Jane
More than shit.

Bartender
I won’t unless you tell me. But you don’t have to. I stay open on Christmas Eve for a few stragglers like you. To listen. Christmas can be pretty tough.  Christmas can be pretty sad.

Jane

Right! Tough! Real tough!  Sad!  Real sad!   I hate Christmas. It’s supposed to be a happy time. No they got it wrong about Christmas. The police came. They waited for medical guys to make a case against us. SIDS that was what it was. SIDS.  SIDS was what they said it was.  Couldn’t pin it on us.  Couldn’t pin anything on us.

Bartender
SIDS?

Jane
You know babies die from SIDS. When they can’t find an explanation they say it was SIDS.  That’s what got Icky! SIDS! And they tried to blame us.  They tried to blame it on us.

Bartender
I’m sorry.

Jane
Sorry? You can’t know how it feels.  You can’t know how it feels to be accused of something.  You can’t know how it feels when you were accused when you did nothing.   How numb it makes you when you can’t cry any more! Tommy should be back. Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, he hates me. No, you don’t know what it’s like to lose a kid. And police came. He was so handsome. Icky was so beautiful. You don’t say a boy’s beautiful…you don’t do it.  No you don’t.  You don’t say a son is beautiful.  Tommy would throw a fit if you did. Don’t you see how terrible it is to lose your baby? So terrible that … I might … I might. You don’t know what I might do. I guess Tommy is taking care of everything. There! Now you see why I’ve cried so much. At the same time, I drink and drink and can’t get drunk, can’t get drunk enough.

Bartender

Where are you going now?

Jane

We’ll get down at Prescott.  We’re going home.  And right now Greyhound owns the rest of the world. Tommy should be back by now.

Bartender
Just to Prescott?

Jane
It’s what I said.  You’re not listening.  It shows what kind of bartender you are.

Bartender
If you drink anymore, they won’t let you on the bus.

Jane
I like you.

Bartender
It won’t work.
Jane
Okay. Tommy and I were truthful. We told the police the truth. I was always nervous about Icky. He didn’t get a good start.  I told the police the truth.  Icky didn’t … didn’t … only once slept with us and that was before we had a crib.

Bartender
Sorry.

Jane
Yeah. It wasn’t his fault.  It wasn’t Tommy’s fault.

Bartender
I don’t imagine it was.

Jane
Icky didn’t get a good start.  You don’t know what it feels like.

Bartender
No, I don’t know what it feels like.

Jane

You don’t know how it feels like to be a mother.  You don’t know what it feels like to be a mother and lose a child.  You don’t know what it feels like to be a mother and see your baby for the first time … to hold your baby for the first time.  I never knew such joy.  I never knew such sadness.  I never knew.  Now it’s something I can take with me.  Now it’s something I will always remember.  Now it’s something I will always have.  You know, you see, I have something you’ll never have.  Pain … pain of birth and pain of death … pain of a mother during birth and pain of a mother because death of a son … death of a son … death of son before he had a chance to live.  I had a queer feeling before I went to check on him in his crib.  I knew something wasn’t right before I went to check on him in his crib. I knew something was wrong.  Mommy didn’t forget you.  Mommy didn’t abuse you.  Mommy didn’t neglect.  Icky, Mommy didn’t hurt you.  Mommy wouldn’t hurt you.  He was already cold … blue … stiff … stiff … blue … cold.   I was scared.  I screamed.  I screamed.  Cops came. They took him away.  They pulled …  cut my heart out. Of course they asked a lot questions and did a lot of things to Icky.  I think they did a lot of things to Icky … you know … you know … cut him up and things … weighed his heart … weighed his little heart and things.  I can imagine a lot of things, you see, if I let my mind go there.  And they found nothing … nothing … nothing … so they called it SIDS.  And even before they gave his body back to us, we had a yard sale in front of the motel to buy a little casket … sold everything we had to buy a casket and pay for bus tickets.

Bartender
Nothing wrong with that.

Jane
No, there’s not. No, no, no!  Now we’re trying to get him to Prescott, so that we can bury him alongside my folks. They told me that I never should’ve placed him on his stomach and let him go to sleep that way. They were trying to blame me. No, no, no.  No, they can’t blame me.  I would never hurt my baby.  I never abused my baby.  I never neglected my baby.  I am a good mother.

Bartender
Yes … well, I don’t know about that sort of thing, you see.  Things like that are not within my domain.  They say bartenders often take the place of priest, but things like that are not within my domain.  That’s what I know.  All I know is that we can’t be right all the time.  And we have to forgive ourselves.

Jane
So here I wait. I hope Tommy won’t leave me.   I hope Tommy will stand by me.

Bartender
He won’t leave you.  He’ll be back for you.

Jane
You don’t know him.  You don’t know Tommy.

Bartender
Tomorrow is Christmas.

Jane
For me it won’t be a holiday.

Bartender
I suspect not. It won’t be for me either.

Jane
We don’t have nothing else better to do than to get little Icky to Prescott … our little man.  We’ve lost everything now. And now that you won’t serve me another beer … God knows I have nothing … But what’s it to you?

Bartender
To me? You’re right. When I close up tonight, I’m going home. Died of SIDS?

Jane
Yeah! Go ahead and tell me I’m a rotten person.  Tell me I’m not a good mother.

Bartender
That’s not me.  It’s not for me to say.

Jane
Who are you then?

Bartender
Listen, and I know this is not the same thing at all but… I remember what happened to me when my best friend died. Didn’t expect it, and it blew me apart. Now, when my dad died, it set a bomb off under me, and that’s how come I’ve got this bar.

Jane
We can’t all be lucky. There I was with no wipes, no Pampers, no crib, nothing. Crap all over the place. So Icky decides to come! I was alone.  Tommy was working, and I was alone.  I was alone and afraid to call 911.  I was afraid to call for help.  Afraid, afraid, scared, afraid.  You don’t know what a mess he made! He tore me apart.  There were hours that I didn’t care if he lived or died. It seemed like hours, like hours that I didn’t care if I … he lived or died. Then he was a healthy baby.  Then he died.  Then he died.  And it has to be my fault.  I wanted to be a good mother.

Bartender
I don’t know. I’ve heard lot of theories and listened to lot of people who think they know … lot of people who think they know.  I don’t know though.  I can only hope.  I hope. I hope. I hope. I hope for your little boy’s sake that he’ll have a place to play. With swing sets, slides, and hobbyhorses. Personally, if there is a Heaven, I hope it’s not stuck way out there somewhere. You’d like to have your kid close by, wouldn’t you?

(Jane nods. Tommy enters the bar, carrying a small coffin on his shoulder.)

Jane
Here’s Tommy now.

Bartender
What’s that?

Jane
Icky.  And he still has…

Tommy
(After setting the coffin on the bar.)
The coffin. There. I’m Tommy

Bartender
How heavy is it?

Tommy
Not very. But he’s not an it! He was only weeks old, but healthy.  But dead.  Dead now.  Died.

Jane
Tommy!

Tommy
If I haven’t introduced myself, I’m Tommy.

Jane
He’s Tommy. Tommy, you look sick.

Tommy
I am sick.
Jane
What’s going on? I thought you left without me. We’ll miss our bus. Are we set?

Tommy
No. If we were set, I wouldn’t be carrying little Tommy around, would I? I didn’t want to come back with him. I know how you’d be. So I sat there in a café at the bus station trying to figure something until they ran me off and closed shop. For Christmas Eve, they were really grumpy.

Jane
You still have him.

Tommy
They won’t accept a coffin on the bus.

Jane
My poor baby.

Tommy
People were standing in line, a long, long time, and the ticket guy was so, so slow. There were kids, and a long-haired cowpoke with a guitar. It’s not my fault, Jane. We’re screwed. Really screwed. Greyhound and their stupid rules! Laws!  Stupid laws!  The ticket guy told me they only transport live bodies. Ha! Ha! Screw him!

Jane
Now I am upset. Shit! Before I was just upset. Now I’m really, really upset, more than really, really upset. What are we going to do?

Tommy
I wish I knew.

Jane
We can’t leave Icky. Leave without him.  I am not going to leave Icky.

Tommy
Jane, stop it! Icky! His name is Tommy. What are you thinking?

Jane
I’m tired of thinking. I just want to go home.  I want to go to Prescott.  I want to take Icky to Prescott.

Tommy
We don’t have a home anymore.

Jane
I know. So we got to get him to Prescott. We’ve got to bury him in Prescott.  We’ve got to bury our son in Prescott.  That’s it.

Tommy
I’ve got tickets. But they won’t take Tommy.  We can’t take Tommy.  They won’t ship a body.  It is against the law to ship a body on a bus without … I don’t know.  I don’t know what.  It’s Christmas Eve, and I don’t know what.

Jane
I’m not going without Tommy. What are we going to do?

Tommy
I don’t know.

Bartender
I have an idea.

Jane
What?

Bartender
I’ve solved your problem. Excuse me.

(For the purpose of the performance, wrapping paper, tape and scissors should be handy so that a break in action is kept at a minimum. Throughout his last speech, the bartender carefully wraps the casket.)

Butcher paper. Christmas wrapping paper. Tape. Scissors.
(To himself and pleased with himself)
Oh, yes, you’re too generous. Too, too generous. Just so happens that you bought your dad a toolbox for Christmas. I always play Santa Claus and wrap a lot of presents. Now you’re looking at a professional … a professional wrapper.  You also need a good story. Let’s say you bought your dad a heavy box of tools.

Tommy

A tool box … hammer, level, plane, saw, and plumb line.  Yes, a heavy tool box.

Bartender

And your dad deserves it. He’s a wonderful man, who has worked hard all his life and loves tools. We’ll fool the bastards. How’s my wrapping? Let’s hope the bus is crowded. And if paper doesn’t tear, we’ll be in good shape. My dad loved tools. Just say it’s a toolbox full of something precious and your dad loves tools. Let’s hope bus is crowded. And don’t…don’t look driver in eye … don’t look driver in eye, remember.   Sorry about paper. Rudolph, red nose reindeer. Well, I don’t believe there’s anyone same as Rudolph to get us through. Mostly we got to get there by ourselves. It’s sad, but it’s true. Except maybe ever once awhile. You know…like tonight. Hearts do seem to open up on Christmas, when they don’t otherwise. You know what I’m saying? That’s kind of why I stay open on Christmas Eve. I could talk on and on about it, and you’d miss your bus. After this, what kind of Christmas would it be? Well, I want to be cremated. No box for me. I don’t care what they do with my ashes. That much I know and the rest we can negotiate. If I behave, I may have something to look forward to. But I’m not religious. No, sir, I’m not. I can’t visualize a real Heaven or Hell. But I don’t think you care what I think. You just want to get on a bus and get this puppy safely home. Just remember me. You know that guy who wrapped Icky’s toolbox…I mean, Tommy’s toolbox. You’ve got to take care of tools, and if you don’t, well… But if you do, well, they’ll last you a lifetime. So here’s wishing you good luck. Here, like a professional, I finished. Now, get out of here. You’ll miss your bus. I’ve done my bit. I’m closing as soon as I get rid of my last customer. And I hate it when people thank me.
(As the bartender finishes speech, he finishes wrapping coffin. Tommy picks it off the bar and, because of the wrapping carries it in his arms.)

Jane
Thank you.

Bartender
Get out of here before I report you to the police. Just remember: it’s a toolbox. And if you want to get in trouble with me, look driver in the eye. And there’s something else: just remember I hate Christmas. Ask me why: it’s just too sad for too many people.

CURTAIN

Randy Ford

 

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