General Script posted December 5, 2021 Chapters: 1 1 -1- 2 


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Brother Love

A chapter in the book The Challenge

The Challenge, Act 1, Scene 5

by Jay Squires

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Previous Scene, in a nutshell: Phillip Dellaney met with Arthur DelaTurie in his (Phillip’s), upstairs bedroom where they had an awkward conversation about a kiss they shared eight years earlier when they were freshmen at Notre Dame. It was a focal point upon which Phillip insisted the kiss was born of his confused, frightened, and lonely state in a new environment … while Arthur contended the kiss meant something and that Phillip was denying his true (homo)sexuality.

CHARACTERS:

Phillip Dellaney: Age 26, a behemoth of a man, at a height of 6' 7", and pushing 300 pounds, having thick, muscular shoulders and hips, and with thighs like sinewy, coiled springs, not just capable of carrying such a load through life, but carrying it at a lively pace. A recent seminary graduate, he will be an odd duck as a priest. He is at a cross-road in his life.

James Dellaney: Phillip’s brother, two years younger. Also tall, at 6' 4", but thin. James had mapped out his future from a young age to be a politician and as a start to his career, is already on the ballot for the Worcester city council. Alcohol seems a solution to recent stresses.

Margaret Dellaney: Phillip’s, James’s, and Susan’s mother. Very close to being the archetypal mother we all wish we had. Her family’s happiness is her happiness. Her tragic flaw is the exclusivity of her love.

Susan Dellaney: The youngest Dellaney sibling, at age 20. She is wheelchair-bound, a gentle soul. Her body is twisted; she can’t speak and she is under the constant care of her mother. Susan has enormous eyes that seem to take in everything, giving others the impression that she can see into their souls.

Setting: The Dellaney family front room. Upstage Right, seven or eight steps of the second-floor stairway, but with the remaining steps hidden above, offstage. Upstage left, door to kitchen, equipt with a wheelchair-friendly swinging door. Up Center, a door leading to the interior of the house, also with a swinging door. A comfy couch sits, Center Stage with a coffee table in front of it. Downstage Right, double-door entrance to the house from outside.

Time: 1953

At Rise: MARGARET stands between the coffee table and the wheelchair-bound SUSAN, her hand on her daughter’s arm. JAMES, his body swaying, faces his mother and sister.


MARGARET:
Such a sad boy.


JAMES:
(Standing, unsteadily, beside his mother and sister)
Queschun-a-bul.

MARGARET:
He seemed sad to me. Deep down.


JAMES:
S' not what I meant.


PHILLIP:
(Whose voice comes from above, from what would be the second story landing)
Mom?

MARGARET:
Yes, dear.


PHILLIP:
Has Arthur left?


MARGARET:
A few minutes ago. I was telling James—


PHILLIP:
(Interrupting in a louder voice)
I’m sorry—what?

MARGARET:
(Crossing to the foot of the stairs and looking up)
I was just telling James that Arthur looked so sad when he was leaving.

PHILLIP:
Oh … yes. Okay, I’ll be right down.


MARGARET:
Lovely. Susan and I will go brew some tea.

(Returning to Susan and wheeling her to the kitchen’s swinging door)

JAMES:
(Calling to her before she enters the kitchen)
None f' me, Mother.

MARGARET:
(Over her shoulder as she wheels SUSAN through the swinging door)
I figured as much, Jamie.

JAMES:
(Loudly, to the closed door)
Wha’s that supposed to mean?

[
PHILLIP descends the stairs, stops briefly at the bottom, and catches JAMES eyes; he shakes his head]

PHILLIP:
It means …

(Waiting until he’s facing his brother, then lowering his voice)
It means she knows you don’t want to lose your buzz.

JAMES:
Tha’s ridic ’lus.

(Offering a crooked smile)
Ree-dick-you-lusss—ah, fuck it!

PHILLIP:
Watch your tongue!


MARGARET:
(From within the kitchen)
What’s that, dear? Cake? I don’t think we have … I think—I'll check, but I think we only have some cookies …

[
The brothers stare at the door, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, then erupt in laughter. PHILLIP easily wrestles JAMES to the floor and they roll around like two puppies. At last, PHILLIP pins his brother’s arms to the floor]

PHILLIP:
Say it! Brother, say it!


JAMES:
(Struggling to pull out from under PHILLIP’S much larger body)
Ree-dick—

PHILLIP:
Oh, no, no! Say it, Jimmy-Jim.


JAMES:
(With a final burst of energy …)
Don’t call me that!
(… then in inevitable defeat)
Uncle, damn you! Uncle!*

[
At that moment the kitchen door opens and MARGARET, pushes SUSAN’S wheelchair through, a tray containing tea, cups, and cookies sitting securely on SUSAN’S lap]

MARGARET:
No more roughhousing, boys. There’s still one more guest arriving. I don’t want you knocking over a lamp or something.


JAMES:
Tell that to this—this elephant on me!


[
Standing, PHILLIP playfully brushes the dust off each shoulder, then helps his unsteady brother to his feet]

PHILLIP
Well, you did say Uncle …. Sometimes little brother needs to know his place.


MARGARET:
(Smiling down on SUSAN, she lifts the tray from her daughter’s lap, sits it on the coffee table, and speaks while she pours tea)
I certainly hope professor Fitzimonds won’t be late … and won’t stay long. We haven’t much time before the dinner.

PHILLIP:
It’ll be fine, Mother. It’ll give some of us …

(Giving JAMES a sidelong glance)
 … time to take a cold shower and get ready.

JAMES:
Wha’s that s’posed to mean?—cold shower …


MARGARET:
Now boys!

(Beat)
So, drink your tea …

JAMES:
Said I didn’t want tea …


MARGARET:
You drink
your tea, Phillip … and you have a cookie Jamie—couldn’t find cake, but you have a cookie. Phillip, if you wait here for Professor Fitzimonds, I’ll go and give Susan her shower …. Now …
(eying each of her sons)
You two be good, you hear?

PHILLIP:
(Smiling)
We’ll be good, Mother.

JAMES:
N’if we can't be good, we’ll name the first after you—


PHILLIP:
What the—! James! That’s just stupid …stupid!


JAMES:
(Scrunching up his face, turning beet-red)
I know … Sooor-ree! Jus’ kidding!

[
As MARGARET wheels SUSAN toward the door exiting the room, PHILLIP stares at JAMES with a look of barely contained rage on his face. He waits until his mother pushes SUSAN through the swinging door]

PHILLIP:
Do you realize what you just said!? Do you, James!?


JAMES:
Truth hurts—don’ it?


PHILLIP:
I don’t even know how to respond to that! That you’re queer? That you’re homo?


JAMES:
Noooo … Noooo … Not me!


PHILLIP:
For God’s sake, James!

(Beat)
Listen to yourself, Brother.… Don’t you hear it? Don’t you see it? Don’t you see this isn’t you talking? This isn’t the one who’s running for the city council. This isn’t the one who would someday be President of the United States. Can’t you see that?

JAMES:
No, no, no, no, no! I’ll go take my col’ shower, brother. But when I come out all sober and smellin’ pretty … you’re still … gonna be … whooo you aaare.


[
JAMES staggers to, and through, the same exit as his mother and sister. PHILLIP stands, staring at the door for a prolonged period. Then he stares down at the teacup. Slowly, deliberately, he drops two sugar cubes in the cup, picks up the spoon, and begins stirring. He glances back at the door, then to his cup, continuing to stir. There is a rapping at the door. Phillip straightens up, checks his watch, manufactures a smile, and goes to the front door]


END OF SCENE 4
 

* This has me wondering if “saying ‘uncle’” has any meaning to my friends across the pond, or whether it has any meaning anywhere, anymore. It was very popular when I was a kid as a playful (but real) declaration of defeat.


 




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