Friday, August 9, 2013

Soldier and Sister

From Royal Hotel

A soldier dressed in full uniform walks in holding a gun. He looks around, sees no one, and has a seat on the sofa/lounge. He loosens his tight collar and takes deep breaths. He puts his hand, still attached to the gun, in his lap.

He sits for a good while.

A woman runs in carrying high heels and stops suddenly when she sees him. Overcome with relief, she takes a minute to pull herself together. It is not easy. She walks over and sits down next to him. They look at each other carefully. This is her brother. They do not have to speak to be able to have a full conversation. She sees the gun in his lap and is startled, but neither one says anything.

They sit until finally her breath starts to slow and she puts her hand on his. They just sit.

Soldier: Is everyone freaked out?

She nods.

Sister: Are you okay?

The question stuns him. He is both moved that she has asked, and horrified to speak the true answer. He tries to hold back from crying. He has not been okay for at least six years.

Soldier: Yeah.

She studies him.

Sister: I’m here.

They sit.

Sister: Can you just put that thing on the floor?

He doesn’t move.

Sister: Please?

He tightens his grip but makes sure the barrel is pointing away.

Soldier: I can’t let go.

His head drops, his shoulders drop. The wind is knocked out of him.

Soldier: I can’t.

He bucks up quickly, sniffs and pulls himself together but it’s hard for him to swallow.

Sister: Do you need some— Wait, let me get you some--

She gets up and goes to look for water.

Soldier:  It’s just my head, my— I can’t make it---

He hangs his head over and pounds it with his fists. He is still holding the gun.

Sister: (OC) Just hold on. Just--  Oh look Jake, oh my god, they still have these sandwiches here. I can’t believe it, do you remember these. Here, there’s some milk too. It’s still cold.

She takes a while getting things together but then walks back to couch where he is still sitting hunched over. He is crying and she doesn’t know what to do.

Sister: Do you remember that time we came here with Nana, you were like 3 or 4 and it was real late at night.

He takes the glass of milk she has offered, but he just holds it.

Sister:  We were…We were right, I think , over there. There used to be a different chair here, and we were all crushed in and Nan was sitting in the middle and we were waiting…I forget what we were waiting for but then Nan got up, really it was like we were all wedged in like sardines and she managed to get up and when she walked over to the front area we could see she’d sat on one of these peanut butter and jellies,  it was flat as a card stuck to the back of her skirt. I laughed so hard the milk came through my nose. That was so funny. She never knew it.

Soldier: I was 6.

Sister: You were 6? No.

Soldier: Yeah I was 6 and you were 9.

Sister: No you were younger. We came here a bunch of times after that.

Soldier: -But that was after Nana died…I was 6 and I remember because it was my birthday. That’s why we came here because it was my birthday and Dad was supposed to come but he never showed up. We waited up really late but he never came, so Nana brought us here.

Sister: What?

Soldier: Don’t you remember she made me that crown? That, you know, that thing for my head, “I’m taking this prince to the Royal Inn.”

Sister: Oh my god. I can’t believe you remembered that. Yeah, I do, you’re right.

Soldier: It was like almost midnight. We never got to stay up that late.

They each look at the chair where they sat years before, the sister chewing slowly, the soldier holding his glass of milk. He sets it down on the table.

Sister: You have a good memory.

He shrugs.

Soldier: I may have a good memory but I’m a liar so what difference does it make.

Sister: What do you mean you’re a liar?

Soldier: And anyway, it fucking sucks having a good memory.

Sister: --How are you a liar?

Soldier: This uniform, these shoes, these stripes, this, this, all this. I don’t even want to be here. I shouldn’t be here. I’m…  I don’t know..all the time..I can’t, I just don’t want to, my head, I mean Jesus, my head won’t stop. I’m not this. I’m not—

Sister: Jake, you have to--I want to help you, I’m here. I know I can’t stop you from hurting but can’t you just… You’re not a liar. You’re a good person and everything you—I mean I don’t know what you have in your head but I know what it is to need peace. There’s good in there too. Can’t you just find peace in that?... I wish you would just put that damn thing on the floor.

Soldier:  There’s no bullets in here Cass. I’m not crazy. (He reaches it over to let her have a look)

Sister: I don’t want to touch that thing.

Soldier: Go on.

Sister: Quit it Jake.

Soldier: It’s just a… just a thing. I need it. It’s nothing.

They are quiet.

Sister: I knew I’d find you here.

Soldier. Yeah.

Sister: Just come back Jakey, please.

Soldier: I can’t.

Sister: They’ll  just think you were drunk.

Soldier: No I mean… I really can’t. I just need to sit here.

Sister: Okay.

They sit quietly.

Sister: Are you shaking?.. You are.

He reaches for the glass of milk and knocks it over.

Sister: Oh shit, here, don’t worry, I’ll—

She gets up to pick up the glass and walk back to the counter where the tray was. She looks for a trashcan and sees one behind the counter and drops the broken glass and pieces into it. She grabs a stack of napkins.

Soldier: I’m sorry Cassie.

He puts the gun to his head.


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