Sad September


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A treatment for a stage or TV play



George Rehberger (father)

Ethel Rehberger (mother)

Margaret Rehberger (sister)

Billy Rehberger (protagonist)

Uncle Dennis

Aunt Daisy

Nicky Halka

Mr. Hal Halka

Officer Bryant

Old Man Fane

Susie Kinzee

Hand Garber


The story occurs the September after Billy Rehberger�s graduation from high school in a small town outside New York City in the mid 1980s.

Billy has no job. He has no thought for the future. He has spent the summer enjoying the freedom and the prestige of being out of school. Now he is faced with deciding his future. His father wants him to work with him in insurance at the office.

Billy�s mother, however, has dreams about his being something more, a doctor maybe. But Billy doesn�t want to do either. He just doesn�t know what he wants.


His goal is to find out what he is meant to be.


His growth in the storm must be from a frivolous youth with no idea or desire for the future to a young adult going out into the world to conquer it.


The final conflict centers on following his mother�s dream (college), his father�s idea of something practical (a job), or some other alternative.


In the end, his decision must be made on what he feels is right, more than what he is told to do. This is a matter of what direction he feels his life should go, not entrapment.


Scene one:


Billy comes to the house accompanied by Officer Bryant. He has just wrecked the car on the Thru Way, but doesn�t know how to tell his father. Mother tried to comfort the boy, but she is too worried herself to be much help and fumbles around until Billy wants to get out of the house again.

The police officer leaves. Billy is not in any serious trouble, but after a summer of accumulating such slights, Billy knows his father will be very angry.

Margaret, his sister, has already gone to school. She is a year behind him so that she has had to hear about his exploits for most of her time at school. She tells him the report of his accident has already circulated among the school kids who look upon him as a kind of rebel. She is peeved about it, too.

Billy told the police that he was alone in the car when he hit the telephone pole. But since the telephone pole was across the street from the school, there were lots of witnesses when Hank Garber got out and ran away.

Hank Garber, in fact, was hanging out the window on the passenger side screaming at a girl named Susie Kinzee� which distracted Billy and caused the car to crash.

If the confrontation with his sister was not enough, Billy soon found more reason for concern when Uncle Dennis and Aunt Daisy show up. They are a friendly, but slightly whacky couple which grinds on Billy�s nerves.

Billy continues to worry about what his father is going to say. So is his mother. Uncle Dennis tries to comfort them both by saying these things happen sometimes, then immediately launches into a story about a fishing trip he took when he was young that has no apparent relevance to Billy�s situation, which only caused Billy more agitation.

Aunt Daisy, on the other hand, tells Billy sweetly but over and over, that she is certain her brother (Billy�s father) will understand.

�After all, he was a devil himself when he was your age,� she says.

This makes Billy furious. He knows his father better than his aunt does. While the car he wrecked was the family�s second car, one used mostly by mother for shopping, it has been entrusted to Billy, and it would have to be replaced.

To make things worse, there was another car involved. An elderly couple was driven off the road and into Old Man Fane�s yard. The car wasn�t damaged much. The couple was shaken but not serious, but the fence suffered significantly. And Old Man Fane came running out immediately screaming about his fence, his lawn and his prize roses.

Hank stirred up Old Man Fane by calling him a nasty name, and Fane immediately called the police � promising to press charges. Billy figured Fane would have called the police anyway. He was always calling the police, even when there was nothing wrong.

Uncle Dennis, again seeking to comfort Billy, says it would have been far worse if someone had gotten hurt. Then, he launches into another unrelated story about a gentleman he once knew who used to walk everything to the center of the George Washington Bridge to stare down, thinking he might like to jump.

Billy gets more and more impatient. He just wants his father to come home to get it over with, yet at the same time, he doesn�t want his father ever to come home.

Mother � mumbling to herself � that this would not have happened if Billy had gone to college like she wanted.

Billy reminds his mother that he would not have started college for another two weeks and he would have wrecked the car anyway.

Margaret laughs and says that Hank should go to college to and then the city would be safe. She teases Billy by reminding him that Susie Kinzee is going to college.

Billy gets angry and tells his sister to get lost.

She leaves with a shrug and another laugh.

Aunt Daisy, in her amiable style, tells Billy children shouldn�t be fighting like this.

Angrily, Billy storms out saying he�s not a child. Mother shouts after him that his father will be home shortly and things would be even worse if Billy wasn�t around.

Billy shouts that he�ll be back.


Scene two


He goes three blocks down the street to Hank�s house where he sits with Hank to discuss the situation.

Hank tells Bill that his father is sending him away to military school.

Billy wants to know why.

Hank explains that is father is hung up on this thing about manhood and how a body had to be fit and a mind, sharp.

Hank says he doesn�t like the idea, but he�s resigned to it.

Billy says he�s in such a pickle that he might be forced to work with his father. �The only way I see out of it is if I run away,� he says.

Hank�s eyes light up. �Why don�t we?�


�Run away. You�re always talking about how you would like to go to California. Maybe we should.�

Billy says if things go too badly at home that night, he would sneak out and they would head off to California together.


Scene Three:


Meanwhile back home, mother serves tea and cake to Aunt Daisy and Uncle Dennis, telling them that Billy is really a good boy. She just wishes sometimes that he would find himself. She always pictured him as a doctor.

Uncle Dennis admires this, but tells mother these things can�t be forced. Billy would have to make up his own mind.

Margaret, who is passing by, laughs and says Billy won�t do anything unless Hank says it�s okay. �And then there is Susie Kinzee. She can make Billy do just about anything.�

Mother chases the girl out of the room, saying this is adult talk.

With that, the telephone rings. It is father. Old Man Fane already called him at the office telling him about Billy and the accident.

Mother listens, grows paler, then hangs up and looks at Aunt Daisy and Uncle Dennis. �He said he�s coming right home. He said he needs to settle things with Billy.�


Scene four:


����������� Father waits in the kitchen for his son, pacing, then sitting, talking to himself.

����������� Mother is upstairs with Aunt Daisy. The poor aunt had a reaction to the cake. Father mumbles she was never one for sweets.

����������� Uncle Dennis has gone to look for Billy. Naturally, the man will get lost and father, telling himself, he will have to go out and look for them both.

����������� He talks about his wish for his Billy to take after him, to work with him, to become someone father can be proud of. A solid job will make the future seem less dim, he tells himself. But I have a son that sees no future. �I�m surprised he even stopped wetting the bed. Saves the trouble of needing to take a bath.

����������� He admits that he was like his son at that age. �But that�s nothing to be proud of.�

����������� He remembers Virginia Graves and that summer after the senior prom.

����������� Mother walks in. He coughs and yells at her, claiming this is all her fault.

����������� �How it is my fault?� she asks.

����������� �If you hadn�t coddled the boy with all those silly dreams about his being a doctor, he would be on the straight and narrow right now,� he says.

����������� �He says he doesn�t want to be a doctor,� she says, clearly upset. �In fact, he doesn�t want to be anything at all.�

����������� She starts to cry. Father holds her and asks about Aunt Daisy.

����������� Daisy is taking a nap, mother says.

����������� Uncle Dennis comes in. Father makes a snide remark about how his dear brother-in-law managed to avoid getting lost.

����������� Dennis smiles careful and inquires about Daisy. Mother says she is upstairs resting.

����������� Father says maybe Dennis should consider a full time doctor for Daisy. �After all, she�s been through this at least once a week since she was born,� father says.

����������� Dennis shrugs and says it was the way she was raised.

����������� Father gets angry at this and tells Dennis not to say back things about his and Daisy�s parents.

����������� Margaret comes to the kitchen door. A worried mother chases her out, whispering, �Your father really isn�t angry.�

����������� Margaret laughs and says she�ll know that when Bill gets home.

����������� This attracts father�s attention and he shouts, �Where is that boy?�

����������� Billy enters still glum, sees his father and shrinks back. But his father bids him in, and Billy complies.

����������� Dennis rises and says he�s going to see about his wife.

����������� At first, mother makes no move, but father tells her she should accompany Dennis.

����������� �I want to be alone with the boy for a while,� father says.

����������� Mother still hesitates, but she leaves, too.

����������� Father turns to his son, telling the boy that it is time to grow up. School is over, those pranks which were once childish are now criminal.

����������� Billy says that he is entitled to that last summer with his friends.

That summer, father scolds and stands and towers above Billy, is over now.

�Someone could have been seriously hurt,� his father says.

����������� �But no one was,� Billy argues.

����������� �Lucky for you,� father says. �That was the last straw. I�ve made up my mind. You will come to work with me in the morning. It is about time you learned a profession.�

����������� Billy sighs.

����������� But father isn�t through yet and turns and says there is still the matter of the car. �It has to be replaced and that will come out of your salary every week,� father says.

����������� There is a knock on the back door. Mr. and Mrs. Halka enter. Each is heavily bandaged, wearing neck braces and casts, doing their best to hold each other up.

����������� Father takes a step towards them, sputtering as he says, �I had no idea that it was this bad!�

����������� �It wasn�t,� Bill insists.

����������� The elderly couple tells father that they have suffered severely and are forced to sue.

����������� Old Man Fane enters, too, saying he would rather take it out in the old fashioned way than let a pack of lawyers do his business for him, but since the boy is only a boy, he can�t expect to fight him, so he�ll be suing, too.

����������� Billy stares at them all and says if he has to pay for all of them, he�ll be working forever.


Scene Five:


����������� When everyone is asleep, Billy sneaks through the kitchen with a bag over his shoulder. He mumbles about how fast the summer has gone and how he knows nothing will ever be the same here or on the road.

����������� �The good times are lost forever,� he moans. �But I don�t have to stay here in this trap. Me and Hank can make it on the road. We�ll find a life in California.�

����������� Mother enters the kitchen just as the door closes and he is gone.

����������� �He didn�t have to be a doctor,� she says. �I just wanted him to turn out better than we did, to get something out of life that we couldn�t find. But he�s a man now, whether I like it or not. And he�s made up his mind. Who can stop him?�


Scene six:


����������� Billy throws stones at Hank�s bedroom window until the light comes on.

����������� �What do you want?� the weary Hank asks.

����������� �Aren�t you ready?� Billy asks.

����������� �For what?� Hank asks.

����������� �To leave. Like we planned. For California.� Billy said.

����������� �I�ll be right down,� Hank says, closes the window and after a long time appears at the back door. �I meant to call and tell you that I can�t go.�

����������� �Why not?� Billy asks.

����������� �Because I have to go to military school in the morning. My dad called the academy and set it all up.�

����������� �What about California?� Billy asks.

����������� �It�ll still be there when I get out,� Hank says.

����������� �And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?�

����������� �Go without me,� Hank says.

����������� �I can�t go without you. You were part of the reason I wanted to go in the first place.�

����������� �Then go home.� Hank suggests.

����������� �I can�t go home either.�

����������� �Then I don�t know what to tell you,� Hank says. �But I have to get some sleep. So good night.�

����������� For a long time, Billy stands alone, staring out at empty space. Then, finally with a sigh, he shoulders his back, and walks away.


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