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The Wednesday Man This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Phineas Webb-39. Sharp, black hair. 5 o’ clock shadow, green eyes. Wears a nice collared shirt and corduroy pants. Works as a literary professor at an all boy’s boarding school. Despises the do-gooders in his class. In fact, despises students in general. Depressed.
Atlas Montey- 65. Janitor. Much older than Phineas but has managed to find a friend in the depressed schoolteacher. Listens to the problems of the middle-aged man and gives useful advice. An older gentleman with blue eyes that are magnified by his large glasses, and a warm smile. Dressed in a full janitorial suit with mop in hand.
D.B.- 18. A brown mop of hair and a bushy beard that hides his smug smile. Always wears some form of flannel, even in the summer. And shorts, even when it snows. A knit hat in winter, summer or fall complete his eclectic look.

THE TIME- Current day, October, a Wednesday

THE PLACE- Inside the office of Professor Phineas Webb.

AT RISE: A room with a view of nothing but a changing tree outside. It is a warm office, a few dozen stacks of books here and there. A large desk used for PHINEAS, a chair across from the desk used for both D.B. and MONTEY. A pot of tea and a few staggered cups on his desk. PHINEAS stands, pacing, a cup in hand, speaking to Montey.

THE WEDNESDAY MAN

SCENE ONE

PHINEAS- (Gripping his black hair and tilting his head toward MONTEY) Is this a grey hair, Mont? Is it grey?!? God dammit. Montey! I’ll tell ya, these kids are turning me grey. I’m not even forty yet, for christssakes. (He pauses, takes a sip of tea, thinking all the while.) You know what I wanna know? Why do these kids hate Wednesdays? Honestly. Why are they never able to function on Wednesdays? It’s no different than any other day. It’s not like the day is longer or the sun is brighter. It isn’t colder or sadder on Wednesdays. Why do they always slump?!? I love Wednesdays. They are the center of my week. Well… I suppose they are the center of everyone’s week. But what I mean is that Wednesday is the epitome of my productivity. (He pauses again) Have you been counting how many times I’ve said WEDNESDAY already? 5 times Montey. Five times. Six including that last one. Is it healthy to repeat a word that many times in such a short span? You know what, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. (He pauses and sits at his desk, his forehead in his palm) You wanna know what’s got me so frazzled? I’ll tell you what’s got me so frazzled. Barry Newton has got me so frazzled. Barry Newton the goddamn valedictorian. He’s a damn parasite, Montey. Have you ever had a parasite? They are DRAINING. These thickheaded boys in this dim-witted school are so draining. (He sighs) Sometimes I feel like the more I teach, the less I learn. (Takes a sip of tea and sits half-heartedly on the edge of his large desk.)

MONTEY- The less you learn, huh? Well I ain’t never taught a day in my life but these boys teach me something new every day.

PHINEAS- Enlighten me Montey, please.

MONTEY- Well, they are a constant reminder to me that youth is not eternal.

PHINEAS- How so?

MONTEY- Those young handsome men that pass by your window? I was one of them once. I had that muscular body once and a skip in my step. There was even a time when I could see my toes without having to suck in my gut. (Taps his belly.) Every time I see them, just one of those chipper boys, I think of how quickly time passes. How short of a gap there is between 20 and 70. (Phineas smiles widely and snickers.) Hey! You’ll lose it too Phineas Webb! Just you wait! That lovely blonde hair isn’t grey just yet but it will be. Wait a week. And by the time you’re my age it’s too late to be wishing you saw some good in these boys.

PHINEAS- Montey, honestly. You speak to me like I’m terminal or something. I’m not dead, I’m not dying, I’m not grey just yet, and (Looks down) I can still see my toes with ease. (He smiles)

MONTEY- Wise guy huh? (Smiles back) I was like you once too you know (Playfully punches him) Still young, (punch) still good looking, (punch) still a raging pot of testosterone. But I fell from that cloud like a rock, mister.

PHINEAS- You fell from that cloud cause you’re a fat sonuvabitch Montey! (He laughs and punches Montey back.)

MONTEY- At least when I fell there were people I loved to catch me. Who will catch you Phineas?

PHINEAS- Why, Barry Newton of course. He’d do anything for me as long as I give him a passing grade and a good ole pat on his brainy little head.

MONTEY- I said people you love not people you bribe. Plus, Barry will be outta here in a few months when he graduates anyway, and he’ll probably never think of you again. Honestly, who will catch you when you’re a fat old bastard like me? Honestly?

PHINEAS- Well… I suppose… no one will catch me.

MONTEY- Then you’ll be battered and bruised when you land. That’s not a good way to be. Give these boys a fighting chance Phineas. Let at least one of them catch you, or when it’ll be mighty lonely when you land.

PHINEAS- (A short silence, he almost whispers) What if I end it all before I have a chance to fall?

MONTEY- (His face more angry than sympathetic) Then that’s even more pathetic than landing alone.

PHINEAS- (Holds his head in his hands and runs his fingers through his hair. He sighs. Silent for a while. Then looks up at Montey.) I guess I just… talk like that sometimes. I don’t know if I’d ever really off myself. I think I’d be too yellow to even try. I just think it would be easier that way. Being gone. I might be happier, you know? Don’t go getting all concerned. I’m just talking is all. I do that sometimes. Just talk. Nevermind Mont. Anyway, let’s change the subject huh? How about I ask you a question, can I ask you a question, Montey?

MONTEY- Sure

PHINEAS- Do you like Wednesdays?

MONTEY- More of a Sunday man myself. (Still concerned with the speech Phineas just gave.)

PHINEAS- Is there a reason you’re a Sunday man?

MONTEY- Is there a reason you’re a Wednesday man?

PHINEAS- I asked first.

MONTEY- Hmm. I suppose I’m a Sunday man because Sunday is the day I go to church with Sophie. Sometimes one of the kids will even come for a visit and go to church with us. And Sunday nights, Sophie makes a big dinner and we invite the neighbors over for game nights.

PHINEAS- You only said Sunday three times. That seems healthy enough.

MONTEY- I’m not too worried.

PHINEAS- Hmm. Is Sophie your wife?

MONTEY- The very same. The most beautiful lady in the world. She’s aged like a fine wine that woman has. Never met another that struck me more.

PHINEAS- I’d like to meet her.

MONTEY- No you wouldn’t.

PHINEAS- Pardon me?

MONTEY- My wife hates Wednesdays. (They look at each other, silent for a moment. Then they both burst out laughing.)

PHINEAS- Well God bless you and your Wednesday hating wife.

MONTEY- God? Hah! I’ll bet you my right arm you have no belief in God.

PHINEAS- How’d you know? (He winks)

MONTEY- Because you are eternally selfish.

PHINEAS- (Defensive now) I may be selfish but that has nothing to do with my disbelief in some big man in the clouds. Don’t give me that crap Montey. Don’t guilt me into believing in God. He has done nothing for me.

MONTEY- Do you have a home? A warm home? And food and water? God gave you all that.

PHINEAS- I EARNED THAT! I work all day with these blasted schoolboys and live a mediocre life. GOD has given me nothing.

MONTEY-He gave you that mediocre life.

PHINEAS- Yeah? And soon he’ll take it back.

MONTEY- (Pauses, mops the floor around him, then says:) Sorry Phineas, I really am.

PHINEAS- Sorry for what.

MONTEY- That I brought all this up. It’s just been on my mind a while. That’s all. I worry about you sometimes. And I hope someday, when you’re old and grey, that you find someone to catch you.

MONTEY EXITS.

PHINEAS- (Gets up, book in hand, and starts to pace. He constantly mumbles to himself until knocking interrupts him.) Who’s there?

D.B. - (Offstage) Uhm, it’s me. D.B. I’m in your AP English class, 3rd period.

PHINEAS- You are? Well what do you want D.B?

D.B. - You don’t remember me?

PHINEAS- It’s a large class.

D.B. - There are only 25 students.

PHINEAS- What do you want?

D.B. - I have a detention. Will you please let me in?

PHINEAS- Kid, I give out detentions like Halloween candy. They mean almost nothing. I give out the detentions as warnings, no one ever comes in, and I don’t want them to come in. In fact, no one’s served a detention with me since 1994.

D.B. - This is the first detention I’ve ever gotten and I intend to serve it. May I please come in?

PHINEAS- If you must.

D.B. ENTERS
(D.B. comes in and sits at a chair in front of Phineas’ desk. He wears a wide smile and looks comfortable.)

D.B.- So how does this work?

PHINEAS- (Looking up from his work.) You sit there, quietly, and I work.

D.B.- Okay. (He sits there quietly for a moment, twiddling his thumbs, then asks) Aren’t you curious what I got a detention for?

PHINEAS- No, but I assume you’re going to tell me anyway.

D.B.- Wishful thinking. You gave me a detention for wishful thinking.

PHINEAS- Honestly?

D.B.- Honestly.

PHINEAS- What kind of wishful thinking?

D.B.- Well. You were having us take a pop quiz and it was raining. Someone complained that it was a bad day because we had a quiz and the weather was bad. And I said hopefully it would stop raining. And you told me to be quiet because I had my quiz and hoping that it would stop raining was just wishful thinking because it never stops raining here. And I said we could always hope. And you said I was arguing with you so you gave me this detention.

PHINEAS- I see. Do you have an A in my class?

D.B.- No. I have a C- because you said I talk too much in my essays.

PHINEAS- (Sarcastically) How could I have EVER thought that?

D.B.- I know I talk too much, but you think too much and that’s just as bad.

PHINEAS- I think just the right amount, thank you.

D.B.- You’re welcome.

PHINEAS- I’m sorry?

D.B.- You thanked me, so… you’re welcome.

PHINEAS- Are you playing a game with me or are you just stupid?

D.B.- Maybe a bit of both.

PHINEAS- (Stares at D.B. a while.) Do you believe in God, JD?

D.B.- It’s D.B. and why are you asking?

PHINEAS- I’m playing along.

D.B.- Along with what.

PHINEAS- I’m playing along with your little game.

D.B.- Oh, it’s no game, sir.

PHINEAS- Do you, or do you not believe in God, boy?

D.B.- No Professor Webb, I do not believe in God.

PHINEAS- Do you find that you are selfish because of your disbelief in a higher power?

D.B.- Hey. I said I don’t believe in God. You failed, however, to ask my beliefs in a higher power.

PHINEAS- Alright, do you believe in a higher power.

D.B.- No sir, I do not.

PHINEAS- Then why did you make me ask you?

D.B.- Because, I’m learning how to play your game Professor Webb. It’s quite tough to grasp. You have a lot of walls up. Quite frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if there was no one with you on the other sides of those walls.

PHINEAS- We’re reaching capacity there are so many people back here. Now, can you please just answer my question? Do you find that you are more selfish because you don’t believe in God?

D.B.- Yes, because I feel less weight of consequence for my actions than the true believer, but no, because I feel in a way that God is just a comfort and I feel selfless enough not to hide behind it.

PHINEAS- I’m not quite sure that made sense.

D.B.- I haven’t made much sense since I arrived have I? Why start now?

PHINEAS- I suppose so. At least you’re consistent.

D.B.- I’m not actually. I’ve lied on and off.

PHINEAS- What have you lied about?

D.B.- For starters, I’m not here because of wishful thinking. I only said that because you always ignore me and I wanted to grab your attention early on. It worked too. I also said it as a test, to see if you remembered the real reason I’m here. Do you?

PHINEAS- I do not. This feels like the first time I’ve met you.

D.B.- It isn’t. I sit in the way back everyday. A direct line behind Barry Newton, the valedictorian. You always ignore me and call on Barry.

PHINEAS- I hate Barry.

D.B.- We have that in common.

PHINEAS- Hmmm. D.B is your name right? What the hell does that stand for?

D.B.- Take a guess. If you’re right, I’ll tell you.

PHINEAS- Donald Bradford?

D.B.- Nope.

PHINEAS- Duncan Blueberry?

D.B.- That one is just ridiculous.

PHINEAS- Just tell me, D.B.

D.B.- Darius Bird. I’ve been told it’s quite an attractive name. You’d know what it was already if you looked at the attendance sheet in front of you, I’m at the top.

PHINEAS- Darius Bird? Wow. Phineas Webb, nice to meetcha. (They shake hands.)

D.B.- (They sit in silence a moment longer. D.B. stares at Phineas all the while.) You know, you seem a little down to me. That thorny humor is just a façade I think.

PHINEAS- Oh really? Are you an amateur psychologist?

D.B.- Just good at reading people.

PHINEAS- No you’re not. I’m perfectly content.

D.B.- Content is not the same as happy. Are you happy or content?

PHINEAS- I suppose I’m content… what the hell does it matter to you anyway?

D.B.- It doesn’t. But I can tell you’re not happy. The world doesn’t excite you anymore, does it? Not as young as you once thought, you were? (He pauses, looks at PHINEAS’S head.) Hey! Is that a grey hair?

PHINEAS- (Gropes his head, shivers at the thought of turning grey. He stares coldly at D.B.) Oh. And what would you know about it? You’re only 18 for god sakes.

D.B.- Mature for my age. Look here. I’ve managed a full beard. (Scratches nervously at his bearded neck.) Just because your aging doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy you know.

PHINEAS- I haven’t changed. I’ve been unhappy since I was young…. (He pauses, noticing what he’s said. Becomes angry.) Wait. I AM young. And I’m not unhappy! I’m happy and young! UGH. You’re... you’re putting words in my mouth!

D.B.- I’m just giving you a chance to say what you mean, Phineas.

PHINEAS- I am your teacher. Address me as Professor Webb.

D.B.- Sounds a little OLD to me? Don’t you think?

PHINEAS- Darius!

D.B.- It’s D.B. Don’t call me Darius.

PHINEAS- Fine… D.B. Let’s just relax. Move on okay? (He pauses, then asks) Do you like Wednesdays?

D.B.- (Surprised at first.) I do not. I like Friday’s. Everything happens on Fridays. Why do you like Wednesdays?

PHINEAS- I’m just a Wednesday man.

D.B.- There is always a logical reason why.

PHINEAS- Not this time.

D.B.- Or you’re ashamed of the reason…

PHINEAS- What do you do on Friday’s then huh?

D.B.- You’re a teacher. You’d report me. We’re not always ethical, you know. (D.B. winks)

PHINEAS- I was 18 once too.

D.B.- I’ll bet you were and someday I’ll say that to some punky kid to get him to tell me HIS weekend plans too.

PHINEAS- You’re smarter than you look D.B.

D.B.- I’d say the same to you but you look pretty smart already.

PHINEAS- Look?

D.B.- Yes you look smart. I see all those stacks of (D.B. puts on a fancy voice) “classic literature” on your desk, but there is only one that has any wear in the spine. That means you read the same book over and over. Is it comforting to have the repetitive cycle or is it compulsive? Why don’t read you read the other books?

PHINEAS- (Defensive) Why do you ask so many questions? Why don’t you like your own name? Why do you lie about detentions? To seem more interesting to me? Hell, kid, I barely remember your goddamn name!

D.B.- You’ll remember my name now. I guarantee it.

PHINEAS- I’ve had enough of you. Go in the hall and write an essay till you have to leave.

D.B. EXITS

D.B.- Gladly. (D.B. goes into the hallway. Phineas sits, reading his one book, sipping tea when Montey comes in.)
MONTEY ENTERS

MONTEY- Who’s the kid in the hall?

PHINEAS- D.B. Apparently he got a detention for wishful thinking that he lied about.

MONTEY- (Looks confused about the previous statement, but ignores it and moves on.) And how is he?

PHINEAS- A real wise guy, I’ll tell yah. Kept playing all these games with me. Anyway, why are you here? School’s long over, you should go home.

MONTEY- I was just worried about what you said earlier so I came to keep you company, but I see you already have somebody.

PHINEAS- Don’t worry about me. Oh, and D.B. is no company. He’s just a smartass.

MONTEY- Sounds a lot like you.

PHINEAS- We are nothing alike.

MONTEY- Sure. Well, if you’re all set, I’m gunna scram. Enjoy your Wednesday.

PHINEAS- Wait.

MONTEY- Yeah?

PHINEAS- Do you think I could come to your Sunday dinner this weekend?

MONTEY- Why?

PHINEAS- I’d like to meet your wife.

MONTEY- I don’t see why not. See you then, Wednesday man.

MONTEY EXITS.

PHINEAS- (Walking around, picking up all of his books and examining them.) Why don’t I read any of these? There is nothing wrong with any of them. (He pauses again, D.B. enters, standing in the doorway, unseen by Phineas) Why don’t I believe in God? Why DO I like Wednesdays? Why am I so unhappy? Is my humor really just a façade? Why was I so rude to D.B.?

D.B.- Yes. Why were you? (Phineas is silent, looks at D.B. for a long period of time not knowing what to say. He looks forlorn.) No matter… erm… here’s your damn essay.

PHINEAS- It’s quite short.

D.B.- So was Napoleon, and look what he conquered.

PHINEAS- Napoleon wasn’t actually short. That is just a myth.

D.B.- Maybe my essay is taller than it seems too. See you tomorrow, Professor.

D.B. EXITS.

(Phineas throws the essay on his desk pretending not to care about its existence. But moments later, picks it up and a recorded voice overhead reads it as though it is a voice in Phineas’ head.)

ESSAY (D.B.’s character should do a voice over for this.)
Professor Webb, You gave me no regulations on this essay so I chose a topic that has recently sparked my interest. That topic would be you. I’ve deducted so far that you ARE a selfish man but not because of your belief or disbelief in a higher power. You are a selfish man because you are a product of whatever environment you happen to be in. Oh. And I lied again. Friday nights I don’t do anything illegal like I implied. I visit my mother in the home. She’s not that old yet, just far gone. A little nutty, and I felt no need to tell you at the time. I lie a lot, you see. It’s in my nature. For I, too, am a product of my environment. We are alike. No matter how much I would like to say we aren’t, I suppose it is inevitable to admit the truth eventually. And so, as my own form of apology, and the only way I know to sum up my short detention with you, I’d like to take a guess at why you like Wednesday’s so much. I doubt if I’ll ever truly understand but I believe you are a Wednesday man because Wednesday is the relief point of your week. If you make it through another Wednesday you promise yourself you wont end it all. The reason I know this is because we ARE very similar you and I. We have the same thoughts sometimes, we feel the same. You’re not the only one who feels alone or even ready for it all to end. But there are ways to stop that feeling. I speak from experience, for I know, there are ways to feel happiness again, and although I may not be a Wednesday man anymore, I may always be able to sympathize with one. Happy Wednesday, Wednesday man.
- D.B.
P.S. I said Wednesday 7 times in that essay, eight counting that last one. It’s just not healthy.

PHINEAS- Huh. I knew there was something about him, about Darius Byrd. (He gives a laugh, almost relieved that he figured it out.) And that was it. He was a Wednesday man all along, or at least… he used to be. He’s even shown me why I am a Wednesday man… (pauses) in an essay as short as Napoleon himself. Now, all that’s left, is to allow myself to be happy. To allow myself (picks up a book) to read the other stacks of books and… give these boys their fighting chance. (He pauses.) So happy Wednesday, Wednesday man. (Starts to walk off stage, lights still up. Then pauses, laughs to himself and casually shakes his head.) Have you been counting how many times I’ve said Wednesday? Four times. Five including that last one. (Smiles to himself and walks off.)

END.



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siglo15 said...
Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm
I like the humor and how strong and consistant your characters' personalities are. I really enjoyed reading this.
 
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