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Eddie Rides the Metro

[Eddie, wearing a puffy winter jacket, a beanie, and headphones, enters the rear of a train. The train is mostly empty. Eddie sits down with his hands tucked inside his jacket pockets. A woman smoking a cigarette is standing, gripping a subway pole. Silence while the woman eyes Eddie, who stares at the subway floor in deep thought.]

WOMAN: Somewhere you need to be?

EDDIE: Yes.

WOMAN: It's nine-thirty. Why aren't you at school, kid?

EDDIE: 'Cause I did something.

[Pause.]

WOMAN: What'd you do – clog a toilet? [The boy does not reply.] You running away? [The boy shakes his head 'yes.'] Hmph. What do you have to run away from? You're, like, ten.

EDDIE: Thirteen.

WOMAN: Heh, 'scuse me.

[The boy, irritated, raises his head.] EDDIE: Somewhere you need to be, lady?

[The woman takes a long drag from her cigarette.] WOMAN: Yes, as a matter of fact. I'm gonna be about $25,000 richer by tonight.

[The train screeches to a halt.]

This is me. Catch ya later, kid. [The woman strolls away. A young girl with a backpack and book in-hand enters. The train starts off again.]

GIRL: Oh, hey Eddie. Going home?

EDDIE: Hi, um, no. Shouldn't – shouldn't you be in school?

GIRL: No dude, we were dismissed early. Did you even go to school today? [The girl sits on the bench with Eddie.]

EDDIE: Right, right. I'm just … not used to seeing you riding the train.

GIRL: Well, here I am. Headed home as soon as we were let out. I'm not really sure what even happened.

EDDIE: Yeah, me neither. I was outside, in P.E.

GIRL: One minute I'm on the brink of death due to boredom, the next we're being rushed out of the building with help from a dozen police officers. Crazy.

EDDIE: Crazy.

[Silence.]

GIRL: What are you listening to?

EDDIE: Pearl Jam.

GIRL: Never heard of him. [Pause.] So – what do you think happened at school?

EDDIE: I'm really not sure.

GIRL: Hmph. Sure it'll be on the news. [She opens her book, looks at a page, then looks back at Eddie.] Have you ever read this?

[Eddie looks at it.] EDDIE: A Farewell to Arms? Nah.

GIRL: I've only just started it, but my mother tells me it's rather heart-wrenching. He shot himself, you know. Seems to be a common trend among artists. “Suffering artists,” they're called.

EDDIE: Who's to say they aren't suffering?

GIRL: I just think it's cowardly. How could you abandon the people who love you like that?

[Pause.] EDDIE: Hemingway actually suffered from depression, among other things.

GIRL: Oh, depression's just a fancy word invented by men who aren't allowed to be “upset.”

[Silence.]

EDDIE: My – father's friend, Theodore, used to be a painter. Could never get museums to buy his paintings, but he sold some to small shops regularly. Whenever he'd come over for dinner he would always have something to show us. A dog, a kite. Over the years he really improved, said he'd teach me when he had time. Eventually he ended up on the streets. Just him and his art supplies. My parents tried to get him to stay in our guest room, but he refused. Said that hitting rock bottom would help his artistic drive. I would come by every so often, look at his newest paintings. After each visit, they seemed to grow darker and darker. He'd sketch ropes and paint blood-stained pavement. His living condition must've been getting to him, because weeks later he accepted my parents' invitation. The night he moved in, after dinner and a shower, he hung himself with one of my father's belts.

[Silence.]

GIRL: Was – there a note?

EDDIE: Yeah - “Throat Insist.”

GIRL: What does it mean?

EDDIE: It's an anagram: “This is not art.”

[Silence.]

I saw – pieces – of myself in him, I think. He was so misunderstood and confined by silence. To me, his head was transparent. At times I felt the same inexplicable emotions.

GIRL: Wasn't he just a – family friend? I mean, it's pretty terrible what happened, but … you didn't know him that well.

EDDIE: But I related to him excessively. Looked up to him. Do you understand the heartbreak of losing someone to suicide? Someone you admired? [The girl's head turns.] What – does that say about me?

[The train squeaks to a stop. The girl stands.] GIRL: This is my stop. I'll – see you at school, Eddie.

[The girl exits. Eddie is alone momentarily, before a man with a police scanner enters and grips the subway pole. The train starts again. The man is indecisive about where to stare as the train moves, and eventually decides to make conversation.]

MAN: Say, isn't it a school day? [No reply. The man assumes that Eddie's music is too loud and waves his hand in front of him, getting his attention. Eddie looks up at him.] Isn't it a school day?

EDDIE: It is.

MAN: Hmm. What's in the pack? Anything good?

EDDIE: Books.

MAN: A young reader! You're a sight for sore eyes. Any of my books in there?

EDDIE: Um.

MAN: Don't be so stiff, friend! I'm a writer. [Pause.] I write short stories mostly, but I published a novel just last spring. It Takes Two To Tango – you like the title? It took me two whole days to come up with it. Just ask Pixie!

[Pause.] EDDIE: Pixie?

MAN: My corgi! [The man pulls out his wallet and shows a picture of a corgi.] Isn't she a beauty? Some say she's gained a little weight over the years, but I swear, she's the pickiest eater I've ever seen! All she'll eat is bacon. [Pause. The man looks at the photo himself.] Sometimes I'll come home and she'll have pooped all over the front lawn. It's like a minefield, I'll tell ya!

[Silence. The man puts the picture back in his pocket.]

My apartment was recently infested with ladybugs, and mother tells me the little buggers are a symbol for good luck, so I believed her. I'm real superstitious like that. But last week, I found a family of the red sonofabitches dead in my headlamp! Can you believe it? I guess that sums up my luck, ha-ha. Dead luck.

[The man looks down at his police scanner.]

Do you know what this is?

EDDIE: A – calculator?

MAN: No, silly – it's a police scanner. Gives me the juicy 411 scoop on all things crime-related. It's almost like listening to an audiobook. Just now I heard about a crime duo, married couple, running away with 25K! “K” as in thousand.

[The man looks at the scanner one last time fondly and stuffs it into his pocket.]

Can I tell you a story?

EDDIE: A story?

MAN: From the mind of yours truly.

EDDIE: Go ahead.

MAN: Excellent! Once upon a time, there lived a boy named Eddie.

[Eddie's head raises.]

He loved his family, did his homework – Eddie was a real catch. Then one day, distressed and delirious, Eddie grabbed his daddy's pistol and murdered his parents. Then, he brought it to school for show-and-tell. Later during math class, he pulled it out and – [The man makes a gun with his fingers.] Pop! Pop!

[Eddie watches intensely with his hands still in his pockets.]

Eddie made a break for it. But silly little Eddie forgot about his school's surveillance cameras. Then! Our strong hero, yours truly, makes his grand entrance! Are you listening Eddie? This is where it gets good! Yours truly tracks this little bugger down and finds him sitting alone on the metro. Like a duckling that's lost its way. Where's your mother, Eddie? Where is she-

EDDIE: Let's cut the crap.

[Eddie pulls his hand out from his jacket pocket, revealing a pistol. He points it at the man. The man pulls out his own gun, and flips his wallet to show off a badge.]

MAN: Eddie Thompson, you are under arrest for the murder of Mrs. Packer, Mr. Thompson, Mrs. Thompson, and for killing my mood.

[Eddie raises his gun higher at the man. The man points his gun back at him. The stage fades to black. A “BANG” is heard.]


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