OAK TREE LANE

By Johnny Culver

 

 

917 691 6884

johnnyculver@yahoo.com

www.pineyforkpress.com

 


 

CHARACTERS

MOTHER ĖTrapped, clawing to escape

FATHER Ė Blind, just getting by

BOY Ė Young, innocent

NEIGHBOR Ė Kind elderly woman

 

The front concrete stoop of a worn Levittown home. The yard is brown and treeless with a few shrubs close to the house.A trash can is off to the side of the house.

 

It is a spring afternoon in the early seventies.

 


After a short pause, BOY approaches the door, carrying his schoolbooks and wearing a schoolbag. He lifts the doormat, searching for a house key, but finds nothing He feels under the windowsill but finds nothing there.

 

BOY

Where is that key? I put it here this morning!

Goes to the door.

Maybe itís open. Maybe she didnít lock-

As he reaches for the front door knob, it swings open and MOTHER appears in the doorway, coat and purse in hand. She is not expecting the BOY.

 

MOTHER

IÖwhat are you doing here? Why arenít you at school? I should call your father and tell him.

 

BOY

Donít call him againÖI didnít feel good. The nurse sent me house. She said she tried to call you.

 

MOTHER

The telephone hasnít rung all day. You canít come home now. You canít be here.

 

BOY

The nurse said the line was busy. She tried to call a lot of times.

 

MOTHER

Youíre trying to get out of school arenít you? You arenít really sick are you? The telephone didnít ring. You came home to watch television, didnít you?

 

BOY

No! I was in the classroom and I didnít feel good and the teacher sent me to the nurse.

 

MOTHER

I donít want you in the house when Iím not here. Iím going out. No television for you.

 

BOY

Out? Where?

Mumbles

Maybe you had the telephone off the hook, like you always do...

 

MOTHER

Where Iím going is none of your god damn business! I donít need your backtalk! I can hear everything you say. After all the work I had to do this morning. Your work. Your chores. Again!

She looks out, up and down the street

Where are they? I have to get goingÖ

 

BOY

Going where? What work did you have to do?

Looks up at sun

Itís getting hot. I donít feel too good. What chores? I did everything you asked -

 

MOTHER

Did you clean the cat box? That damned cat box?

 

BOY

No. I was late. I had to get to school. Iíll do it now.

 

MOTHER

Get to school so you could sneak out early? Well, I cleaned out that cat box. And we wonít have this problem again, will we?

 

BOY

No.

 

MOTHER

Thatís right. That cat has taken a little vacation. A little trip. Sheíll be back when you change your ways. Stop being so lazy.

 

BOY

Where is she? Where is Toodles?

Drops books and looks around the yard

Toodles? Toodles?

Gets down on hands and knees and looks in bushes

Toodles?

 

MOTHER

Get off your knees. Get up. Stop being such a sissy. You arenít going to find that damned cat. There are going be some changes around here!

BOY starts to cry

Oh stop it, stop crying.

A horn is heard

There they are! Go around the side of the house if you are going to cry. Go look in the trash can and see what your mother had to clean up! Go!

BOY goes around the side of the house, and looks in the trash cans, partially of sight.

Maybe your little cat is in the back of the house, playing in the dirt! Go and see. That sweet little cat of yoursÖ

BOY disappears. Horn honks again.

Iím coming! Get off the horn.

MOTHER opens door and pulls out suitcase. She takes purse, coat and suitcase in one hand and slams shut front door with the other.

There. Finally!

Stepping off porch, she looks back at house.

Goodbye Oak Tree Lane. Good bye, you hell hole house. Crummy Levittown shack. I hope to never see you or your-

Looks around

-your dismal neighborhood ever again!

Horn honks again.

Allright! For godís sake. Goodbye old life and hello new life!

She runs off towards waiting car. Her wallet and an envelope drop from her purse to the ground, unnoticed. We hear the car speeding away. After a pause, BOY enters from the other side of the house

BOY

Toodles? Toodles?

Notices he is alone in front of the house.

If she locked me out again. How can she...

Goes to door. It is locked.

Hey! Let me in! Let me in!

Bangs on door with fists

Let me in!

Bangs on the door, kicks it. Rings doorbell over and over.

Iíll be good! Iíll do my chores!

Starts to cry and slumps down in front of door.

I want Toodles!

There is a pause and the NEIGHBOR walks quickly towards the porch. She kneels in front of the BOY

 

NEIGHBOR

Whatís wrong, what happened? Why are you crying?

 

BOY

Toodles...MotherÖ.locked out-

 

NEIGHBOR

Your mother locked Toodles out? Nonsense. Toodles is safe in my garage. Once you are better, you can have the cat back. Your mother said the poor thing was making you sick. Very ill.

 

BOY

Looks up at neighbor

You have Toodles? No, Mother locked me out of the house.

Bangs on door

See, she wonít even answer me! Itís so hot out here.

 

NEIGHBOR

Feels BOYís forehead

My, you are sick. Of course your mother canít answer the door. Canít open the door. She is gone. Left a few minutes ago. In big car. She told me this morning she was going on a trip. I have a key to your front door, back at my house. Iíll get you inside. Youíll feel better. Iíll look out for you and your father until your mother gets back. What a nice man he isÖ

Stands

You stay right here. Look, sit in the bushes where itís cool. Iíll be back with the key to the front door.

Moves BOY into bushes

BOY

Standing

NO! Take me with you. I want to see Toodles!

 

NEIGHBOR

Pushes BOY back into bushes.

You stay here, and keep cool. Toodles is fine where he is. In my nice clean garageÖ

Heads off

What kind of a cat makes a boy sick like that? Poor boy most likely got sick from being in that ditty house. What kind of woman keeps such a dirty houseÖ

She is off

The BOY waits until the NEIGHBOR is out of sight, then darts from the bushes into the small yard. He trips over his motherís wallet, and envelope, stops, turns and picks it up and glances inside.

 

BOY

Wow! Look at all this money! Where did she-how did she-?

He notices someone approaching and runs back into the bushes. After a moment, FATHER appears. He is dresses in a suit and hat, and carries a briefcase in one hand. On the other hand is a white cane. He taps his way up the walk. As he approaches the porch, his cane hits the school books belonging to the BOY. He bends down and touches the books.

 

FATHER

Loudly

Someone seems to have dropped their schoolbooks. Maybe in a rush to get home from school and watch television? Is it true what his mother says? What she tells me every day when she calls me at work?

Listens for the television. To himself.

I guess not. Then who-

The BOY rustles in the bushes

Toodles? Is that you? Did you drop your schoolbooks? Rushing to hide in the bushes? A cat in the bushes?

The boy comes out of the bushes.

 

BOY

Comes out of bushes without schoolbag

Father, itís not Toodles, itís me.

He goes to FATHER and leads him to the porch. The father sits on the stoop.

Why are you here? Why arenít you at work?

 

FATHER

I think the question is why are you in the bushes, and not at school?

 

BOY

I was sick and they sent me home, but Mother left and our neighbor went to get a key. To let me in the house.

Starts to cry

And Toodles is gone!

 

FATHER

Pulling BOY close

Donít cry, Iím sure your mother will be right back. If I had a key, Iíd let you in. Your Mother never goes anywhere for long, unfortunately-

Feels wallet and envelope in BOYS hand

Your motherís wallet? Where did you get this? Where is your Mother? Did you take it? Today is not a good day for this-

 

BOY

She left, a few minutes, in a big car. She must have dropped this. This envelope and her wallet. Thereís money inside.Where did all the money come from?

 

FATHER

That womanÖI have an idea where it all came from. Sit down; I have to tell you something.

Hands boy his hat

Put on my hat, to keep the sun away from you.

BOY puts on hat

 

BOY

What do you have to tell me?

 

FATHER

Wiping his brow with rag

Your father lost his job. I am out of work. Donít worry, I have enough savings to last quite a while.

 

BOY

Why? Did I do something?

 

FATHER

No, itís not your fault. They grew tired of your mother calling me every day, yelling at me, taking me away from my work. And now your mother tries to take all of my money away from me! Take it and run away? I donít like her very much right now.

 

BOY

After a pause

I donít like her either.

 

FATHER

Well, at least sheís gone now. We wonít have to hear her any more-

MOTHER appears in yard. She motions for the boy to keep quiet

I can get another job, weíll move away, away from here. From this house and those memories of your mother, terrible memories. Until then, I can go back to selling soap, door to door. We can take care of each other-

 

MOTHER

Terrible memories? Iíll tell you about terrible memories! A terrible marriage! And you teo canít even take care of yourselves, let alone each other!

looks around for wallet and envelope

 

FATHER

Stands

No! I didnít mean that. I-

 

MOTHER

What did you mean? That you didnít spend days away from home, leaving me alone withÖ

Points to BOY

Öhim? That you embarrassed me in front of the neighbors. Asking them if they could drive you somewhere? Selling soap door to door. I couldnít show my face. Everyone on Oak Tree Lane was laughing at me. What a terrible wife I was! I am! Trapped at home. Trapped in that-

Points to house

-dump of a house. This crummy tract house neighborhood-

 

FATHER

You sure had enough bottles to keep you company. You liked what was in those bottles more that you liked me, or us.

Boy stands. A horn is heard

Your new friends are waiting for you. Go, go join them. Youíre not welcome here. Weíll get alongÖ

 

MOTHER

Jingles housekeys

Get along? With no keys?

Calls off

I will be right there! Wait!

 

FATHER

Holds out wallet and envelope.

Did you forget something?

Boy rises and stands in front of FATHER

Did you forget my money? My savings? Without this, I have nothing, no future! I saved my entire life, worked my entire life and now you try to take it! Steal from a blind man!

 

MOTHER

I deserve that money; after all you put me through. I donít know how much is in there, but itís all I need, will need-

Steps closer

 

FATHER

Was losing my sight my fault? Did I ask to be sightless? Did I ask to never see your face again? To never see my little boy? To have to work like a pauper, just to keep you happy, to keep you supplied with bottles? Full of drink?

 

MOTHER

Give me the money and Iíll go away. Iíll never come back. Let me go. I never want to see this place ever again.

The BOY grabs the wallet and envelope from father, and goes to MOTHER

 

BOY

Take it. Take it and go. I donít like you. We donít like you. Go away.

 

FATHER

No! Wait!

 

MOTHER

Taking wallet and envelope, and tosses house keys to porch

Take the keys to that dirty house, fool. That kid is as stupid as you are. Goodbye. Good luck, you fools. Youíll need it.

She runs off

 

FATHER

Sitting on porch

Well, now what. What do we do now, son? No money, no job.

 

BOY

Picks up keys.

But no more mother!

Goes to FATHER and hands him keys

You have your keys, Father. Now we can go inside.

 

FATHER

Thank you.

 

BOY

I opened the envelope, when I was in the bushes, Father. I saw all the money in the envelope.

Goes to bushes and crawls in quickly then out with schoolbag.

I took money out of the envelope, Father. Donít be mad at me.

Hands wad of bills to FATHER

This is for us. Mother got just what she deserved.

 

NEIGHBOR

Appearing with keys

Oh! I see your father is here. Your wife left, you know. Sped away in a big car. Donít worry; I have keys to your house. I can help you get inside.

 

FATHER

She left for good. I hope she left for good.

puts envelope in suit pocket

 

BOY

Picks up books

I want to go inside. Out of the sun.

 

NEIGHBOR

Let me open the door for you.

Goes to front door and open it with keys

Left for good? Well, Let me get started cleaning up in here.

FATHER and BOY go inside

A nice man like you deserves a good clean house. So does a nice boy .Iíll take care of you both.

She goes in house and closes the door.

 

CURTAIN