PLAYHOUSE OF THE DAMNED

"My Brother's Keeper"

                                                               by Richard Nathan

All the stage lights are out except for a spotlight on our host, GUS THE GHOUL.  Gus introduces this story, which takes place in the living room of a small apartment which is shared by two brothers, JOHN and STEVE NOLAN.  It is inexpensively furnished, but nicely maintained.  The only essential pieces of furniture are two chairs.  

                                                            GUS
                                    Do you ever worry about losing your 
                                    sanity?  If so, please check the lost and 
                                    found in our lobby.  If you can't find your 
                                    sanity there, you can probably find mine!  
                                   
And if you've never worried about losing 
                                    your sanity, don't be concerned.  Our 
                                    show is just getting started!  This schizoid 
                                    skit is called "MY BROTHER'S KEEPER."  
                                   
Imagine that you are in the home of John 
                                    and Steve Nolan.  You don't see this stage. 
                                   
You see their small, modestly furnished 
                                    apartment.  Can you see their apartment?  
                                   
You can?  Really?  Then you're hallucinating!  
                                   
You've gone stark, raving mad!  

Gus exits.  The spotlight goes out, and during the blackout John and Steve enter.  They sit in their chairs.  As the lights come up, Steve is trying to read a newspaper, but John, who is insane, keeps interrupting his brother.  

                                                            JOHN
                                    I had trouble sleeping last night, with all the 
                                    rabbits screaming.  I think they must have 
                                    been frightened by the demons.  Did you 
                                    see the demons last night?  

                                                            STEVE
                                    I didn't even hear the rabbits.

                                                            JOHN
                                    You are lucky.  I thought they would drive 
                                    me crazy.  Perhaps you will see the demons 
                                    today.  

                                                            STEVE
                                    No, John, seeing demons is your specialty.

                                                            JOHN
                                    The air will be filled with screaming demons 
                                    this afternoon.

                                                            STEVE
                                    The paper predicts rain.

                                                            JOHN
                                    They will be inside.  I will let them in.  

                                                            STEVE
                                    How kind of you.  

                                                            JOHN
                                    The demons like me.

                                                            STEVE  
                                    Why doesn't that surprise me?

                                                            JOHN
                                    They do not like you.  I like you.  You are 
                                    my brother.  But I must let the demons in, 
                                    even if they do not like you.  The moon 
                                    has insisted upon it.  

Steve can't take it anymore.  He snaps his paper down and glares at his brother.

                                                            STEVE
                                    John, I'm trying to read the paper!

                                                            JOHN
                                    Does it say what time the world will end?

                                                            STEVE
                                    I'm reading the classifieds, trying to find a 
                                    decent job so I can get us out of this dump!

                                                            JOHN
                                    I thought we had no stay here forever.  
                                   
That is what the demons told me.  

                                                            STEVE
                                    No wonder you call them demons.

                                                            JOHN  
                                    Anyway, I like it here.  Did you know 
                                    there is a man on the first floor who also 
                                    sees the demons?  I think you will see 
                                    them soon.  

                                                            STEVE
                                    Knock it off John!  There are no demons!

                                                            JOHN
                                    Dad said there are.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Oh right.  Dad!  Dear old Dad.  The man 
                                    who kept telling me there were bugs pouring 
                                    out of my ears.  I was only eleven years old, 
                                    and he scared me spitless!  

                                                            JOHN
                                    He could not help it.  It was his turn.  

                                                            STEVE
                                    People do not take turns going crazy.  

                                                            JOHN
                                    Dad said they did.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Dad was a loony.  You are a loony.  I am 
                                    not a loony!  

Steve settles down and resumes reading his newspaper.

                                                            JOHN
                                    Not yet.

Steve throws down the paper.

                                                            STEVE
                                    If you don't stop talking like that, I'm going 
                                    to call Dr. Thompson and have her take 
                                    you back to the hospital!  

                                                            JOHN
                                    If you stare too long at Dr. Thompson, she 
                                    turns to blood.

                                                            STEVE
                                    John, I don't want to send you back there, 
                                    but I hate it when you talk like this.  What 
                                    happened to you?  You used to be so 
                                    normal.  

                                                            JOHN
                                    I know.  That was before my turn.

                                                            STEVE
                                    There are no turns!  I don't care what Dad 
                                    said!  

                                                            JOHN
                                    How do you know?  

                                                            STEVE
                                    Because I am rational!  And I will stay that 
                                    way because I will never let myself get like 
                                    you or Dad.  I will not give in to insanity, 
                                    not to the bugs in my ears, or the demons 
                                    or the screaming rabbits!  

                                                            JOHN
                                    Can you do that?

                                                            STEVE
                                    Almost everyone does it!  Every day.

                                                            JOHN
                                    I do not like being crazy.  I do not like my 
                                    turn.  

                                                            STEVE
                                    Then your turn is over, okay!  I declare that 
                                    your turn is over!  

Steve snaps his fingers.  Joy and relief shine on John's face.

                                                            JOHN
                                    It is?  It's about time!  I can't tell you how 
                                    long I've been waiting for this!  

                                                            STEVE
                                    What did you just say?  You just said a 
                                    whole bunch of contractions.

                                                            JOHN
                                    So?

                                                            STEVE
                                    You never use contractions!

                                                            JOHN
                                    I do too!  

                                                            STEVE
                                    You do not!  Dad never used them either!  

                                                            JOHN
                                    Sure he did!

                                                            STEVE
                                    No!  Not at the end!  The whole last year 
                                    of his life, when he had to be straight-
                                    jacketed, he never once used a contraction!  

                                                            JOHN
                                    I hadn't noticed.

                                                            STEVE
                                    He used to scare me so much I'd go to 
                                    my room and say every contraction I could 
                                    think of!

                                                            JOHN
                                    Just because you can say contractions 
                                    doesn't mean you're sane.

                                                            STEVE
                                    I know!  I know!  But why is it you can 
                                    say them all of a sudden?  

                                                            JOHN
                                    I guess it's because my turn is over.  I'm 
                                    sane now.

                                                            STEVE
                                    No, I have bad news for you, little brother.  
                                   
If you still believe in turns, that means you 
                                   
are still a lunatic.

                                                            JOHN
                                    No, that means you are a lunatic.  After all, 
                                    if my turn is over, and you said it was, then 
                                    it must be your turn now.

                                                            STEVE
                                    There are no turns!  

                                                            JOHN
                                    Then why did you say my turn was over?  
                                   
That's a pretty crazy thing to say if there are 
                                    no turns!  

                                                            STEVE
                                    I was humoring you!!!

                                                            JOHN
                                    I don't need to be humored!  I've been 
                                    perfectly calm all day.  You're the one who 
                                    keeps getting excited.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Why am I trying to talk rationally to you?  

                                                            JOHN
                                    Beats me.  It's not your turn to be rational.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Do you want us both to be crazy and helpless?

                                                            JOHN
                                    I'm not crazy.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Yes you are!  Because you still believe in turns!

                                                            JOHN  
                                    You know something?  You're absolutely right.  
                                   
I don't believe in turns anymore.  

                                                            STEVE  
                                    Good.  

                                                            JOHN
                                    Now it's your turn to believe in turns!

                                                            STEVE
                                    I do not!  I will never believe in turns!  And 
                                    you do, or why would you tell me to take 
                                    my turn believing in turns!!!

                                                            JOHN
                                    What are you raving about now?  

                                                            STEVE
                                    You told me to take my turn believing in 
                                    turns!

                                                            JOHN
                                    I don't want you to believe in turns!  I want 
                                    you to be rational.  

                                                            STEVE
                                    I am rational!!!

                                                            JOHN
                                    I'm very happy to hear that, Steve.  And I 
                                    think Dr. Thompson will be happy to hear 
                                    it too.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Dr. Thompson is going to put you away.

Steve picks up his paper and tries to read it.

                                                            JOHN
                                    May I please have a section of the paper?  

Steve hands John a section of the paper, and they both read in silence for a moment, until Steve throws down his section and screams at his brother.

                                                            STEVE
                                    You have always hated me for staying sane!

                                                            JOHN  
                                    I don't hate you.

Steve erupts, letting out all the pain and anger he has kept bottled up inside.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Well I hate you!  I hate all the years I lost 
                                    looking after you!  I hate all the years of
                                    living with your demons.

                                                            JOHN
                                    Please, Steven, I am trying to read the 
                                    newspaper.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Do you want me to see demons?  All right!  
                                   
I see them!  There they are!  Fluttering and 
                                    swooping through the air on their pink and 
                                    green leather wings!  Look at them, stabbing 
                                    at my eyes with their claws.  

There's a knock at the door.  John goes to answer it!

                                                            STEVE  
                                    Wait!

                                                            JOHN
                                    Why?

Steve can't answer.  He runs to the door and stands in front of it.  John calmly pushes him aside and opens the door.  DR. THOMPSON, a psychiatrist, enters.  Steve goes back to his chair.  

                                                            JOHN  
                                    Dr. Thompson!  How nice to see you!

                                                            DR. THOMPSON  
                                    Good evening, John.  How are you feeling 
                                    today?

                                                            JOHN
                                    Quite well, thank you.  But I'm afraid Steven 
                                    isn't any better.  

Dr. Thompson goes to examine Steve, who is covering in his chair.

                                                            DR. THOMPSON
                                    Oh?  I thought he was doing very well last 
                                    week.  

                                                            JOHN
                                    It's time we faced the truth, Doctor.  Steven 
                                    has been insane for years, and he's never 
                                    going to get any better.

                                                            DR. THOMPSON
                                    I see.  It's his turn now.

                                                            JOHN
                                    There are no turns, Doctor.

                                                            DR. THOMPSON
                                    There don't have to be, But that doesn't 
                                    seem to stop you two from taking them!  

                                                            JOHN
                                    I don't know what you're talking about!  
                                   
Are you going to take him back to the 
                                    hospital?

                                                            STEVE
                                    No!  No!  I will not go there again!  

                                                            DR. THOMPSON
                                    You don't have to.  You can both stay here 
                                    in the halfway house.  That's what it's here 
                                    for.  

                                                            JOHN
                                    Maybe Steven can stay, but I'm going to find a 
                                    job and get out of here!

Dr. Thompson moves closer to Steve, and takes his hand.

                                                            STEVE
                                    Please help me, Dr. Thompson.  I do not want 
                                    to see the demons.

                                                            DR. THOMPSON  
                                    You don't have to, Steven.  Not if you don't 
                                    want to.

                                                            STEVE
                                    I cannot help it.  It is just my turn.

                                                            DR. THOMPSON
                                    No, Steven!  It is not your turn!  Listen to me!  
                                   
It is not your turn!

                                                            STEVE
                                    It isn't?  Then it must be yours!

BLACKOUT!  Steve, John, and Dr. Thompson exit in the darkness, and GUS THE GHOUL comes back on.  A spotlight picks up Gus.  

                                                            GUS
                                    Get it?  Steve and John have been sharing 
                                    a psychosis for years.  You might call it a 
                                    bi-psychosis.  You might even call it a 
                                    bi-psychosis built for two!

THE END

 

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2000 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

The author grants all internet users to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use.  No other use may be made without the author's permission.  Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express  permission.

Send e-mail to the author at Richard-Nathan@att.net.