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  • Nathan David Smith

Honesty in an Apology


Honesty in an Apology

By Nathan David Smith


Characters


Dave - male, late 20’s, a neurotic writer and son of Ron


Ron - male, early 50’s, an alcoholic father with a giant suitcase of baggage he’s unable to open


Joyce - female, mid 30’s, a nurse just trying to do her job



Time

Present


Setting

A hospital room.


(A hospital room. The fluorescent lights bounce off the pristine white walls and cabinets giving the room an almost ethereal glow. Ron lays on the bed, motionless. Joyce and Dave enter.)


Joyce

Here you are.


Dave

Thank you. How’s he been?


Joyce

Still some bouts of short term memory loss, but otherwise all of his vitals have been stable.


Dave

Short term memory loss? How do you know --


Joyce

He’s woken up a few times. Each for only a couple minutes. But he hasn’t been able to remember any of the previous occurrences.


Dave

So what happened exactly?


Joyce

The doctor found excessive amounts of alcohol in his system. That mixed with his valium prescription caused his body to go into this state.


Dave

But things are looking good?


Joyce

Things look promising. However, you should know with any incident like this there may be lingering effects cognitively and physically. He may be a little different than he was before.


Dave

Honestly, that might not be such a bad thing. Sorry, that was uh, weird, to say. We just, uh, didn’t have the best relationship, ya know, it’s fine, I’m fine.


Joyce

Well let me know if there’s anything you need.

(Joyce starts to exit.)


Dave

Did he mention anything about the drinking?


Joyce

Oh, uh, no, he didn’t.


Dave

I mean, uh, do you think that he remembers it or…?


Joyce

Honestly I don’t know.


Dave

Oh, uh, yeah okay.


Joyce

I know that events like this can be very traumatic so if you need to talk to someone, we do have a psychiatric facility on floor two.


Dave

Oh, yeah, no, I mean, I’m good. Thank you though.


(Joyce exits)

Hey dad.

(Dave sits in the chair next to his father’s bed.)

Not gonna lie, it’s weird seeing you right now. Even speaking to you for that matter. This isn’t how I pictured our reunion. In a hospital room. Unable to actually communicate.(Beat) I, uh, never got around to telling you, but I got into the graduate writing program at Columbia. It’s going well so far. Nothing too crazy. Just... writing pretty much all the time. I, uh... actually had to do this writing exercise last week. It was to write a list of 10 things I never told someone that I wished I had. The professor wanted us to use it to find some sort of catharsis. “Without catharsis your writing will only reside in the realm of resentment.” I don’t know if I fully believe it, but I understand the sentiment. (Beat) He suggested mailing it as a letter. I thought about doing that, until I heard… you were, uh, here. So I thought I’d come keep you company and, uh, honestly, for my own selfish reasons, read it... to you. Uh… yeah.


(Dave pulls out the letter.)

“Things I never told my father…”

(Ron starts to mumble and wake from his stupor.)

Dad?


Ron

Dave…


Dave

Uh -- hey.


Ron

Hey son…


Dave

Do -- do you want me to get Joyce?


Ron

Who?


Dave

Joyce? The nurse?


(Ron shakes his head “No”.)


Okay. Do you need anything?


Ron

Water..


Dave

Uh yeah definitely -- Uhmm…


(Dave pulls a water bottle out of his backpack.)

Here ya go.


Ron

How long have you been here?


Dave

Not long. 5 minutes maybe?


(Ron starts into a coughing fit.)


You sure you don’t want me to get Joyce?


Ron

No. It’s fine. I’m fine.


Dave

How are you feeling?


Ron

Tired.


Dave

You should go back to sleep.


Ron

I’m fine, really.


Dave

Do you, uh, want any jello or anything?


Ron

No -- you’re here that’s all I need.


(silence)


I never would’ve expected you to be here.


Dave

Honestly, me neither.


Ron

So… uh, how’ve you been? What’s new?


Dave

Uhmm… uh, things are good. Honestly, I -- I don’t even know where to begin.


Ron

What’ve you been up to?


Dave

I’m in a Creative Writing program at Columbia. The graduate program.


Ron

Really? That’s great, Dave.


Dave

Yeah. I mean it’s kind of silly. Like, I don’t know how I’m gonna make a living as a writer. But I’m gonna try, I guess.


Ron

At least you’re pursuing your passion.


Dave

Yeah, I don’t know, sometimes it feels like I didn’t need to pay $200k to pursue my passion. Ya know?


Ron

It’s okay to make an investment in yourself.


Dave

Only if I can make a return on it.


Ron

You will, I know you will.


Dave

You’re not a fair judge. You’ve never read anything I’ve written.


Ron

Well I’d love to read something sometime.


Dave

Oh, uh, yeah, we can make that happen… sometime.


Ron

I would love that.


(Awkward silence)


I’ve missed you.


Dave

Yeah? I, uh, missed you too.


Ron

I’m hoping to get out of here soon. Maybe we can spend more time together in the future?


Dave

Uhm.. yeah.. That could be… good, I guess.


Ron

I know I haven’t always been the best dad, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fix things now.


Dave

Uh, yeah, no that’d be great.


Ron

Yeah, it really would be.


(Silence)


So what else has been going on?


Dave

Oh-- well uh, I stopped drinking.


Ron

Oh yeah?


Dave

Yeah it’s been six months.


Ron

Nice.


Dave

It was the right choice for me. Have you, uh, been drink--


Ron

Do you still smoke?


Dave

Oh, uh, yeah a bit. Why?


Ron

I don’t know. Just curious.


Dave

Yeah, I mean, I’d love to stop. It’s just… hard. Ya know, addiction and what not.


Ron

I get it.


Dave

Yeah, definitely.


Ron

We all have our vices.


Dave

Exactly. So, have you, uh, been drinking?


Ron

Nope.


Dave

Really?


Ron

Yeah, really. I can’t tell you the last time I had a drink.


Dave

Uhm, you know you can tell me the truth.


Ron

I am.


Dave

Because if you have been drinking I’d rather you tell me then lie to protect me, or whatever.


Ron

I haven’t.


Dave

Dad…


Ron

Yeah, son?


Dave

Have you been going to any meetings lately?


Ron

What? Like AA?


Dave

Yeah, or like, uh, therapy, or... anything?


Ron

Why would I need therapy?


Dave

I don’t know. I mean… I’ve been going to therapy. It’s been really helpful.


Ron

You don’t need therapy.


Dave

You had a different opinion of that when I was in second grade.


Ron

You’re still upset about that?


Dave

I had to go to the guidance counselor every week.


Ron

You were depressed. You said you wished you were never born.


Dave

I was eight! I wasn’t actually going to hurt myself!


Ron

How was I supposed to know that?


Dave

It’s not my fault you were too drunk to have any sense.


Ron

I’ve already apologized about this.


Dave

Not that it really matters, but I don’t think you did…?


Ron

Well… I’m sorry that you had to go to therapy.


Dave

Uh, thanks... I guess.


(Silence. Beat.)


Do you know how you ended up in here?


Ron

I have a bad heart.


Dave

Uh, okay.


Ron

Yeah, and it, uh… gave out.


Dave

That’s not why you’re here.


Ron

Yes it is.


Dave

You were drinking on your valium.


Ron

No. I wasn’t.


Dave

Stop. Just tell me the truth.


Ron

No, I, uh, I… don’t know.


Dave

Well the doctor found alcohol and valium in your system when you were brought in.


Ron

They’re lying.


Dave

No they’re not. That doesn’t even make any sense.


Ron

They want my money.


Dave

No, dad, stop. That doesn’t even correlate.


Ron

Cause the longer they keep me here the more money they get.


Dave

No, dad. Please. Just tell me the truth.


Ron

What? What do you want? What do you want me to say? That I’m sorry? That I hate myself and wish that everything was different? That my life is a pile of trash and that I’m sorry that I wasn’t the dad that I should’ve been? What? What do you want from me?


Dave

I just want you to tell me the truth!


Ron

The truth is… yeah. I’ve been drinking. I honestly don’t know if that’s what caused all of this, but I have been.


Dave

Okay.


Ron

It was a mistake.


Dave

Yeah. I know.


Ron

Is that what you wanted? Do you feel better now?


Dave

No.


Ron

(Getting more agitated)

I did what you wanted. I’m sorry that I made a fucking mistake!


Dave

It’s not the fact that you made a mistake, dad, it’s that you continuously make the same mistake! I gave you so many goddamn chances to tell the truth. It never changes. The lying. The drinking. I mean seriously, look at yourself. You’re literally hospitalized from getting too fucked up.


Ron

Tell me how to fix this.


Dave

It doesn’t mean anything if I tell you what I want to hear.


Ron

Then how can I make it right?


Dave

You should’ve known how to make it right before this talk.


Ron

I didn’t.


Dave

Okay.


(Dave starts to exit)


Ron

Where are you going? Wait. Don’t leave.


Dave

I can’t do this. I’m sorry. I tried. I wanted to give you another chance, but I can’t right now.


Ron

(Ad-lib with a gradual build.)


Dave. Dave, no, please stop. STOP! DAVE!


(Ron starts to go into a state of emotional distraught, hysteria. His heart monitor is pulsing at an extreme rate. Ron goes on like this for some time before Joyce rushes in.)


Joyce

Ron, Ron you’re okay. Everything’s okay. I need you to take some deep breaths. Can you do that with me?


(Joyce grabs Ron’s hand and starts taking some deep breaths with him. He slowly calms down. And falls back to sleep.)


Dave wanted me to give this to you.


(Joyce lays the note next to Ron. The lights go out, blackout, on the hospital room and spotlight reveals Dave at the front of the stage.)


Dave

Things I never told my father… I forgive you.


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