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Weekend Away From Yourself
Two men in their twenties step off a curb and run across the street to a sidewalk. They are unmistakably lost, as they spin around squinting at street signs and building titles. The rain had just begun and characteristically, neither of them had brought umbrellas. They are in their low twenties, and they definitely look it. The man with near black hair, Ralph is getting increasingly frustrated. Paul is slighter taller and more guarded, this reflects the year and half of age he has on Ralph. He is ignoring Ralph's grumbles because he understands body language better than most. Paul has a talent for shutting off all of his emotions until his body and mind can catch up to the circumstance. Paul and Ralph are stranded somewhere in the streets of Manhattan on freshly cold Friday night.
Ralph: Why are we here, again?
Paul: (sighs) You know why.
Ralph: Yeah, well why'd you bring me?
Paul: Look, I thought you'd thank me, okay? The guy at the office said his friend always throws great parties and you just turn 21.
Ralph: Please, you think I've never been to a party? I go to parties all the time, I love to party. I live to party.
Paul: I get it, I get it. Shut up. ( A brief silence while they walk along the sidewalk, looking around for any familiar place. Even a person- the streets are deserted.)
Ralph: What time is it?
Paul: Haven't got a watch. What does that sign across the street say?
Ralph: I don't know Paul, it's in Chinese
Paul: Great. Where the hell is this place?
Ralph: I don't know, do I? All I know is we've been searching for an hour, here is no one here and I'm getting soaked. Plus my feet are killing me.
Paul: (is about to retort when he here something) Hey did you hear that?
Ralph: What? Dude, there is no one around. You-
Paul: Shut up, one sec, I knew I heard something.
Silence, while they listen. All of a sudden: “SLAM.”
Paul: C'mon, it's coming from in that alley ahead. Lets go check it out. (The two run ahead. They crouch outside, backs against the wall, and peer in.)
Ralph: I can't see anything...wait, what are those guys doing?
(The rain was coming down harder now and it was impossible to make out what the three men in the alley looked like. Two were wearing dark clothing, while the other had on a what used to be a white t-shirt. The shirt front was stained a deep red, while the back of his shirt was covered in blotches of dirt and oil from being held on the ground. The man was now being forced against the wall by one of the darkly dressed men.)
Man #1: “Where is he?”
Man #1: “I SAID, WHERE IS HE?”
(He punches the man against the wall twice in the jaw. The bloody man starts to slip but the other holds him up by both hands at the collar of his soiled shirt. The other man's phone rings, he talks for about 20 seconds.)
Man #2: Yo Charlie we gotta go. Marley needs us now.
Man #2: (looks at his partner and then at the man against the wall) This isn't over. We're coming back to find you. (The men start to turn away.)
Man #3: (yell, voice disfigured by the rain and his broken jaw) No, I'm going to find you. One mans spins back to face him. When Sal finds out-he'll kill all of you! All of-
(Ralph and Paul watch as the man crumples to the ground and smacks on the concrete, the water around him ran red into the street and down the curb of the sidewalk.)
Ralph: We need to go. C'mon, Paul!
Ralph: No we gotta go, NOW.
(The too men run north until they can see cars and people around them. They stop to catch their breath.)
Paul: Hey Ralph?
Paul: You okay?
Ralph: Me? Yeah. It's just..
Paul: Yeah I get it, don't worry. I'll see you tomorrow at work then.
Ralph: Wait what? What about the police?
Paul: Doubt we have enough evidence. It would come to nothing. Anyway, wanna spilt a cab?
Ralph: We just witnessed a murder and you're going home?
Paul: Actually I thought I'd get something to eat first.
Ralph: What? You crazy psychopath we just saw someone get killed!
Paul: Hey lower you're voice. If you're not hungry, that's fine.
Ralph: Of course I'm not HUNGRY. Do you honestly think I'm still HUNGRY?
Paul: I don't know Ralph, I''m not you. Listen I'm going home, maybe I'm not hungry either. (Paul turns and starts to hail a cab.)
Ralph: You're insane! What the hell wrong with you? You're honestly, mentally sick!
(Paul slides into a cab without so much as a backward glance)
Ralph: 'You reached Paul Washington's phone. Leave a message and I'll get back to you. Beep-'
Hey man, its Ralph. Where are you? I've called you a bunch already and you haven't answered my calls so... Also, your sister Claire is really worried too. Anyway, just get back to me when you can. Please.
Ralph: '-You reached Paul Washington's phone. Leave a message and I'll get back to you. Beep-'
Hey Paul, its me Ralph. Look I haven't seen you anywhere in the past couple days. You didn't show up for work So uh, just wondering where you are...And listen, I just wanted to talk about the thing that happened. I'm standing in front of you're place right now. If you could come down, that'd be great . And I'm....Sorry for what I said that night. People deal with things in different ways I didn't mean to- BEEP-
Damn. (Ralph's Phone rings)
Ralph: Hello? Oh hey Claire. No he didn't answer. He hasn't called you either? Right. Any idea where he may be? No, not really. Well, actually...Hey Martha let me call you back. I gotta be somewhere.
Ralph: Hey Paul! Paul! Where are you? (Ralph has found the block they were on that night, but there seems to be no sign of Paul)
Paul: What? J**** Ralph, why are you shouting so loud?
Ralph: Paul? Paul what are you doing in this alley?
Paul: Why? Is it the wrong one? Is this not where it happened? Look there is some blood next to where you're standing. Well actually, maybe that's fresh from last night, who knows?
Ralph: No, I think this is the right alleyway.
Paul: Well good, because if it wasn't I just wasted an entire day siting on a bag of garbage. Hey, help me up, will you?
Ralph: Yeah sure, hey be careful. Have you...have you been drinking?
Paul: No, never touch the stuff! 'Cept for a bit, a half hour ago, well actually more like half a bottle but I doubt it'll cause any effect. Look at me, I'm fit as a fiddle.
Ralph: Wait, really? I just- you don't usually act like this.
Paul: Funny, isn't it? Seeing me act crazy. Look at me! I'm Mr. Unpredictable Psychopath!
Ralph: Hey, I've been meaning to tell you I'm sorry about what I said, but you haven't necessarily been around. I know you're sisters worried, she just called me.
Paul: Look I don't know why I am the way I am, it's just me. But it's my problem, so if you don't mind I'd like to hang here for a while by myself.
Ralph: Are you kidding? I'm not leaving without you.
Paul: Well, I'm not leaving either. So, pop a squat.
Ralph: (Ralph sits) Look, I don't know why you're here but this isn't helping anything. (Silence)
Paul: I wonder where they took him, where they dragged his body. Do you think he's somewhere around here? I'm going to look. (Paul gets up and starts to rummage through the garbage along the alley walls.)
Ralph: What are you doing man? Stop it. He's not here!
Paul: How do you know? Did you hide him? Huh? Did you? (Ralph reaches over his hand to Paul's shoulder.) Don't touch me!
Ralph: Paul, come on, snap out of it!
Paul: No. It's our fault. Simple as that. So I- I need to find him! Did they mention his name. I heard Charlie, Sal and Marley, but never the dead guy's name.
Ralph: They had a gun. (Paul stops rummaging and faces Ralph)
Paul: I don't care, I could of-
Ralph: Could of what?
Paul: Don't yell at me! (Paul punches Ralph in the face. Not enough to hurt very much, but Ralph has backed up against the wall.)
Paul: Hey look its raining. Wanna reenact? You can be the guy in white since you're already against the wall...
Paul: Fine, fine, you're right it's not fair. I did hit you already I'll go against the wall. (Paul goes and stands next to Ralph)
Ralph: What are you do, Paul? (Silence while Paul looks away, and then back at Ralph)
Paul: I don't know. (Paul slides down the wall and sits on the wet concrete. Ralph joins him.)
Ralph: I've been meaning to tell you thanks. For saving my life.
Paul: (does not answer, but looks at Ralph)
Ralph:If you hadn't gotten us out of there right after they shot him, we could have been dead too.
Paul: Don't remind me.
Ralph: Hey, look at me. It's not you're fault.
Paul: Can you promise me that, Ralph?
Ralph: I don't know, I-
Paul: You need to promise me.
Ralph: Okay Paul, I promise.
(Paul nods, wipes his hands on his jeans and gets up to leave.)
Paul: (Before he reaches the street, he looks back) See you tomorrow at work, Ralph.
Ralph: (His head is bent down, and is staring at the blood on the concrete against the wall) Yeah, see you.
Paul: And Ralph?
Ralph: (lifts his head up and smiles) No problem.
(The two men exit. Paul in front at the beginning, but then he slows down as Ralph run to catch up with him.)