BANSHEE Sneak Preview

BANSHEE sneak peek. I’m **hoping** to bring this into NY this summer as part of the Fringe festival.

Banshee
by Brian C. Petti
bcpkid@gmail.com
Copyright © 2010 by Brian C. Petti

ACT I
Scene 1

A bed is illuminated in low light.  A man is in it, clutching his pillow to the side of his head, eyes open.  He is terrified into motionlessness by a female VOICE, which sounds as if it is coming from a dropped phone receiver.

VOICE
Hello…

Hello…?

Hello…Mr. Sullivan?

Is anyone there?

Are you there, Mr. Sullivan?

Mr. Sullivan if you are there, please pick up the phone.  

Hello…?

(I think I can hear somebody breathing…)

Sir!?  Can you hear me?

I have your case in front of me.  I wish you would pick up the phone.

Mr. Sullivan?

Hello?

Sir, I know how to help you if you will let me.

Please pick up the phone if you are there.

Sir?

Lights fade.

Scene 2

The kitchen of a railroad apartment in Chelsea, New York, 1981. There is a table center with a burning cigarette in an ashtray. Stage left of the table is a small gas range. Upstage of the range is the front door of the apartment, adorned with an aging bumper sticker that reads “Kennedy For President”.  The stage right wall has an ancient Frigidaire with an equally ancient clock radio on top of it.  Downstage right of the Frigidaire is the suggested doorway to the unseen rest of the apartment. Upstage right of it is an open door to the bathroom, where JUNIOR is in the process of shaving in an unseen mirror. He is forty, with sad blue eyes and high Irish cheekbones on an otherwise weathered face.  He is dressed in blue uniform pants and a tee shirt. KIT, his mother, cooks at the range, humming a barely audible Irish tune. She is 57 but appears older in a housecoat and kerchief. She speaks in an Irish brogue. 

JUNIOR
Ma!  Ma, did you iron my shirt.

KIT
Of course I ironed your shirt.

JUNIOR
Where is it?

KIT
Can’t you see it in there?

JUNIOR
No. I looked.

KIT
Sure, isn’t it hanging up on the curtain rod right next to you?

JUNIOR searches behind him and pulls out a hanger with a blue dress shirt with an insignia on the pocket.

JUNIOR
Sorry, Ma.

KIT
Ah the creature, you’re just nervous is all.  Finish your shaving and have some eggs and tea.

JUNIOR
Nah, just the tea today.

KIT
Sure, you’ll be needing something on your stomach for your first day, and for the medicine and all.

JUNIOR
I can’t eat Ma.

KIT
I’ll just make the eggs.

JUNIOR
I’ll eat lunch later.

KIT
Well, the eggs will be here if you want them.

JUNIOR
Don’t waste them, Ma.

KIT
You’ll be the one wasting them.

JUNIOR
Ma, just the tea. Okay?

KIT
Is that the way you want to start a new job, then?  Sure, you’ll be starving all morning.  After everything you put me through the past two months, would you have me worrying all day about you?

JUNIOR
I’m all right, Ma.  There’s nothing to worry about.

KIT
“Nothing to worry about” says he! Spoken by someone who’s never had a child. (beat) At least you’ll be better off working down the docks. Won’t be out God-knows-where until all hours of the night. Would you be wanting toast as well?

JUNIOR
No, Ma.  No toast. (beat) I liked reporting.  It suited me.

KIT
Chasing the police all over the city, seeing all manner of debauchery…it’s not a wonder you ended up where you did.

JUNIOR
If they’d kept my job for me I’d be doing it still.  And isn’t Neilie a cop himself?

KIT
He’s different.

JUNIOR
Why?  He sees all sorts of awful stuff.

KIT
Ah, but he don’t let it wear on him the way you do.  He’s got his family and such to keep him straight.

JUNIOR
Who needs psychiatrists when you’ve got everything figured out.

KIT
A mother knows her own sons, for-the-love-of-God. 

NEIL enters through the front door. He is dressed in an NYPD uniform.  He resembles his brother JUNIOR, but is two years younger and has a smiling, optimistic bearing. 

Ah, there’s the boy!

NEIL
Hiya Ma.  How you doing, Junior?

KIT
He’s still talking about that horrible reporting.  After you go through all you went through to get him this job.

NEIL
It was nothing Ma. Jun?

JUNIOR
Fine.  I’m fine.

KIT
Sure he couldn’t find his shirt two inches from his nose not a minute ago.

NEIL
You cooked, huh?  I haven’t eaten…

KIT
This is for Junior.

JUNIOR
I told ya I just wanted tea Ma.

KIT
Ah, come off it!

NEIL
You sure Jun?

JUNIOR
Go ahead.  I told her I can’t eat.

KIT
Ah, he does it just for spite.  Whatever I tell him to do he does the opposite.  God forbid the man should listen to his mother and get a decent meal in his stomach.

NEIL
Maybe he’s just not hungry Ma.

KIT
Who’s not hungry after sleeping all night?  Going off to face the world with nought but a cuppa tea…

NEIL
Ma.  Lay off.

KIT
What am I doing but speaking the truth in me own kitchen?  Sure, doesn’t he know how I worry about him after what he put me through?  What have I ever done but try to help…

JUNIOR
(sharper) I can’t eat, Ma.  My stomach’s a mess.  Alright?

KIT
Have you your gloves?  You’ll be sure to freeze yourself solid out there in that wind.

JUNIOR
They’re in my room.  I’ll go get them.

JUNIOR exits stage right.

KIT
(quickly to NEIL) You have to look after him.

NEIL
I am.  I got him the job, didn’t I?

KIT
All the way out there on 11th Avenue with the mutant fish in the Hudson?

NEIL
It’s steady work. 

KIT
He was a writer!  What is he going to do with himself out there with nothing to do but think and eat
himself up.

NEIL
I’m sure they’ll keep him busy doing what they’re paying him to do, Ma. Why don’t you try to relax. 

KIT
Relax?  What if he’s not ready?

NEIL
They wouldn’t have let him out if he wasn’t ready.

JUNIOR reenters, in his full uniform (blue pea coat with the same insignia on the pocket and a hat with a badge on the front of it.)

JUNIOR
I’m ready.  Gloves, hat and long johns. 

KIT
Don’t forget your lunch.

JUNIOR
Thanks Ma. (to NEIL) You finished eating my breakfast?

NEIL
I’m done.  Good eggs Ma. 

KIT
You keep your jacket up around your neck, do you hear me?  You’ll catch your death.

JUNIOR
I will. 

NEIL
He’ll be fine.  C’mon Jun, we don’t want to be late.

KIT
But what about the…

NEIL
I got this, Ma.  He’ll have a police escort.

KIT
You eat your lunch.

NEIL
He’ll eat his lunch.  Say goodbye Junior.

JUNIOR
Goodbye Junior.

KIT
Not goodbye. Goodbye’s forever…say “so long”.

JUNIOR
So long Ma.  I’ll see you later.

JUNIOR kisses KIT’s cheek.

NEIL
OK Ma, take care.

KIT
(to NEIL) You…you remember what I said.

NEIL
No problem. 

They exit as lights fade.

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    • Terry
    • January 25th, 2011

    Hey Brian! Gotta work together soon ok? You’re the only one I would go out of my way to work with. I mean that sincerely.

  1. Hey Terry! Hope the holiday were good for you. We definitely should soon.

    • Joe Petti
    • February 3rd, 2011

    You HAD to go and write this one. You KNOW Grandma was my hero, and I was her “Sailor Boy.” And hockey star! As I read this, I was actually sitting in the cramped corner seat at the kitchen table next to the refrigerator, by the tiny window where you could literally reach over INTO the neighbor’s window, listening to every word and watching their every move. Like it was yesterday. I remember Uncle Jerry sleeping during the day, and we would sneak into his closet (was it a closet? no, it wasn’t even close.), and we would take his ‘police hat’ with the big badge on it and play cops and robbers in the hallway. Well, at least me and cousin Mike would.
    I miss that time of our lives terribly. I miss THEM terribly. It was the ONLY happy time of my childhood….going to Grandma’s house in the big city. Among other things that you’re aware of, I think most of my adulthood problems stem from not grieving from when Grandma died. I’ll NEVER forget the phone call from you telling me she died. I was in the “restricted barracks” in San Diego…in trouble for beating the life out of some poor shipmate of mine (one of my good friends LOL!). I cried in front of 50 sailors. But in the military, we all go through something like that at some point. It’s not like grade school, where you’d be laughed at or made fun of. The whole open barracks just fell silent, and guys came by my bunk, one by one, and just patted me on the back as I sat there on my “possessions chest,” where I kept my clothes, pistol and all my other belongings.
    Anyway, I’d love to hear more like this. Although painful, I love to hear Grandma’s brogue. It makes me cry, laugh and feel good all at once.

  2. We did a reading of this in Cairo and someone asked me if Kit was based on somebody real–I said my real Grandma was WAY nicer than Kit is. We’re looking to do this one in NYC in August as part of the Fringe Festival. Love for you to see the whole thing.

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