No one to blame

 

SCENE 1:† a snowed in house in the mountains with Ken looking out one of the windows. Inside, Ken is at the window, his uncle, Frank, is seated at a table. Playing cards, cups of coffee, cigarettes are strewn over the table.

 

KEN (still looking out the window)

††††††††††† Doesnít the snow ever stop?

 

FRANK:† The forecasters called it the storm of the century.

 

KEN:† (Turning towards his uncle)

††††††††††† Leave it to Mother Nature to dump on us while weíre in the middle of nowhere.

 

FRANK: This isnít nowhere. This is my home.

 

KEN:† A refuge far from civilization.

 

FRANK:† If we have a problem we can call someone on the citizenís band radio and theyíll come get us.

 

KEN: † I donít see what you get out of all this communing with wolves and bears.

 

FRANK:† Donít be silly, this is the wrong season for bears.

 

KEN: † †You know what I mean. You have raccoons rooting through your trash and God knows what else wanders through your yard at night.

 

FRANK: Which is why I moved here.

 

KEN: You can see all the wild animals you like in the zoo

 

FRANK: I hate seeing nature caged.

††††††††††† I thought your time wandering out west would have taught to appreciate those things.

 

KEN: The only thing I learned on the road was how to avoid the police

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† You must have learned more than that. After all, you turned yourself in.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† I was sick of hiding all the time, and figured sooner or later, they would catch me anyway and put me in jail

 

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† You could wind up in jail anyway.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† I thought the family arranged everything. If I get married and settle down, the judge will give me probation.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† We think thatís what will happen.

††††††††††† The question is: Is that the only reason you want to get married?

 

KEN:†

The family has a lot to do with it Ė only I thought the girlís family held shotgun weddings, not the groomís.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† You wouldnít need a wedding if you hadnít come back with a kid.

††††††††††† Do you love the girl?

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Of course I do.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† But youíre scared about marrying her?

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Scared is the wrong word. Trapped fits better.

 

 

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Trapped?

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Itís the husband and father bit. Once Iím hitched Iíll have to get a job to survive.

 

FRANK:†††††††††

††††††††††† Donít worry about a job. The family has that all arranged for you.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† You mean Iíll be working at the store?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Thatís the plan.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† And you brought me up here to sell me on it?

 

FRANK:

I brought you up here to warn you against it.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Now thatís a shock.

††††††††††† You would go against the conventional wisdom of the family?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† I have done that more than you think, and several times on your behalf.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Why would you do that?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Because you and I are more similar than even you could imagine. You have great ambitions to do something creative, write music or plays.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Something on that order. Although I know Uncle Ed would tell me I should have thought of that before I went a knocked up a girl and that doing anything creative now that I have a family to support would be impractical.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Ed and Pop told me I was being impractical when I said I wanted to be an artist, and I never knocked up anybody.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† You wanted to be an artist?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Once Ė long ago Ė some teachers at school said I had a talent for it.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† So why didnít you pursue it?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Because the family said they needed me to work.

††††††††††† The war had just ended. Pop had just bought a new house.

††††††††††† I was the biggest of the boys and he said he couldnít afford to waste my broad shoulders on a paint brush, unless it was on that painted the inside or the outside of a house.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† I never knew any of this.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† There are a lot of things you donít know.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Why are you telling me.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Because I donít want you to make the same mistakes I did.

†††††††††††

KEN:

††††††††††† I donít see a way of out it after all that I did.

You didnít steal money from the family, I did. They also bailed me out and paid to get me an apartment. Iím not sure I can look them in the eye and tell them I wonít work in the store if they ask.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† But you can look me in the eye?

††††††††††† You clearly donít understand the full impact your theft had. While you were gallivanting around the country spending our hard-earned money, we had to scramble to make ends me.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Didnít the insurance cover it?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Only if we pressed charges against you.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Isnít that why Iím going to court? Because you and the family filed charges?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† We didnít do it at first.

††††††††††† Ed, Rich and Harry wanted to hang you out. But I fought them. I said we should look for your ourselves first in the hopes we could drag you back. No one needed to know what you did but us.

††††††††††† When we couldnít find you, we called the police.

††††††††††† Then it took months for the insurance to pay up. In a business like ours, cash flow is everything.

††††††††††† My whole life was tied up in that business. If it went under, I went broke.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† But you always said how much you hated that business and hoped it would go under so you could get a real job.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† True.

††††††††††† But at that moment I couldnít afford to go back to driving a truck. I had plans to marry.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Marry?

††††††††††† Why didnít I hear about this before?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Because I kept it secret.

††††††††††† I knew if our family found out they would find a way to ruin it.

††††††††††† I never thought you would be the one to ruin it instead.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† How can you blame me?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† With the business in such dire straights, I had to put off my plans.

The girl wouldnít wait and wandered off.

††††††††††† I doubt Iíll ever see her again.

 

KEN: (Looking out the window at the snow)

††††††††††† I stole the money because I didnít want to get trapped in this life, now it looks like I trapped both of us.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Nobodyís to blame.

††††††††††† I didnít tell you about it to hang you on a cross, but to show you how the pieces of peopleís lives can sometimes get put together wrong. Iím trying to stop it from happening to you.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Isnít it already too late for me?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Almost but not quite

 

KEN:

††††††††††† So what do you think I should do?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Once you get through with court, pack up everything and go back west where you came from.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Why couldnít I just get a job around here

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Because the family would always be waiting like vultures for things to go bad, the way they did with me, then in the guise of kindness, they will offer help, and then they would have you.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† I could always refuse the help

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† But you wouldnít. You would be tempted and you would give in. And then you would be trapped.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† And you?

††††††††††† What would my running away do for you?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† It would give me hope, knowing that one of us got out of this alive.

††††††††††† Now get back here. We have cards to play. The snow wonít stop for hours yet

 

KEN: (sighs) I suppose so

 

 


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