BY: KAYLA HAMBEK

CHARACTERS:

REBECCA HELLER (30 years old.  Middle daughter, has anxiety.)

CATHERINE HELLER (50s/60s.  Mother.)

JACK HELLER (32 years old.  Oldest son, deadbeat “entrepreneur” living in Catherine’s basement.)

AUDREY HELLER (27 years old.  Youngest daughter, incredibly reliant on her boyfriend.)

KEITH BECKER (Late 20s-30s.  Audrey’s boyfriend.)

SETTING: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

TIME: Shifting

(Note for the actor playing Rebecca: Anxiety is a quiet, paralyzing torment, not a loud or active one.  Hers especially is internalized, displayed in tense muscles, breathing patterns, perhaps a small tick with one of her hands.  It is not until scene that she exhibits “large” behavior.)

Lights up on REBECCA, 30, C, sitting on a white couch in an entirely white living room.  There are two exits, one SR to the garage, and one SL to the rest of the house. Rebecca is dressed in a short white dress with a radiating red stain in the center.  She sits erect, facing forward, not blinking.

Overlapping voiceovers from the following:

NOTE: These lines should not be read by the same actors as the lines in Scene 1.)

VOICES: (OS)

Rebecca?

Rebecca, this is your mother.

Rebecca Jean Heller, you open this door.

Becks, what have you done?

Becky, help me.

Rebecca, fantastic.

RJ, where’d you go?

What happened to you?

What’s wrong with you?

It’s just in your head.

Get over it.

You’re failing, you’re a failure.

You didn’t pray enough, you need to pray more.

I need money, give me money.

I don’t need you.

You need me.

Rebecca.

(The voices overlap and crescendo until Rebecca stands abruptly.  A knife tumbles out of her hand and hits the ground with a loud clatter.

Lights down.

For the remainder of the play, scenes move continuously, though separated for logistics.

Lights up.  There are a few new elements of color in the white room – a throw on the back of the sofa, a framed family photo, and a book on the white end table. Rebecca enters with her mother, CATHERINE HELLER, 50s, carrying white shopping bags.  Rebecca is wearing the same white dress, stainless, with a crimson ribbon at the waist.  Catherine, like all other characters, is dressed in color. Catherine pulls flowers from one of the bags and puts them in a white vase.)

CATHERINE: You didn’t have to be so rude to Wanda.

REBECCA: I wasn’t rude.

CATHERINE: She deserved a straight answer.

REBECCA: She asked when I was finally going to “pop one out,” I think “None of your damn business” was a perfectly acceptable response.

CATHERINE: It is not.

REBECCA: She hasn’t seen me in over ten years.  No “How’s life, how’s work, how about those Vikings?”  Nope, right to the sex life.

CATHERINE: Don’t be crass, Rebecca.

REBECCA: Wanda was the one being crass.

CATHERINE: She’s almost 80, she’s allowed.

REBECCA: Then she should know better.

CATHERINE: Take the food out, it’ll spoil.

(Rebecca begins unpacking the second shopping bag.)

CATHERINE: Did you lock the car?

REBECCA: Yes, Mother.

(CAR ACTION: Rebecca takes out an automatic lock car key and taps it twice.)

CATHERINE: Are you sure?

(Rebecca repeats the Car Action.)

REBECCA: Yes, Mother.

CATHERINE: I swear I bought ten bottles of soda.  I tell you, that idiot bagger at Michelson’s steals.  I can always tell when someone steals.

(Rebecca holds up the tenth bottle.)

CATHERINE: Well don’t just stand there with it, put them away.  Then go get your brother.  He needs to look presentable when our guests arrive.

(Rebecca drops the bottle.)

REBECCA: Guests?

CATHERINE: Did I mumble?  Guests.

REBECCA: Plural?

CATHERINE: I swear, Rebecca, you never listen.

REBECCA: You said it’d just be us, you promised, just family.  I don’t want other people here.

CATHERINE: I don’t break my promises.  I’m not your father.  Now go get your brother.

REBECCA: I’m not a child.

CATHERINE: You are my child.  Go get him.

(Catherine exits with the vase of flowers.)

REBECCA (Calls OS): Jack!

(Rebecca puts away the rest of the food, except for a few bottles of soda.)

JACK, Rebecca’s older brother, enters.  He’s 32 but dresses like he’s fifteen – hoodie, headphones, pajama pants.  He has a handgun in his downstage pocket.

A NOTE ABOUT JACK’S GUN: The gun is a part of him.  He is visibly wearing or holding it at all times.  Occasionally he should take it out, gesture with it, maybe scratch the back of his head with it.  Never does another character acknowledge the existence of the gun.)

REBECCA: Mom said you needed to look presentable.

REBECCA: We’re having guests.

REBECCA: She didn’t say who.

REBECCA: You owe me money for those concert tickets.

JACK: No I don’t.

REBECCA: Yes you do.

JACK: Those were a gift.

REBECCA: I bought them for you because you said Mom’s internet was down.  You said you would pay me back.

JACK: I said, you said, who remembers what happened?

REBECCA: I do.

JACK: Come on, Becky, don’t make a big deal out of this like you do everything else.  Let it go.

REBECCA: They were $200.

JACK: I’m in-between jobs right now.

REBECCA: You’ve been “in-between jobs” for three years.  What, are you going to live with Mom forever?

JACK: You’re right, you should send more money home.

REBECCA: That’s not what I meant.

JACK: You’re the one with the college degree.  Why don’t you get a better job, make more money.  Four hundred dollars a month doesn’t get us very far.

REBECCA: Or maybe if you got a fucking job—

JACK: Oh, hey, Mom got soda.  This is the good stuff, too.  Organic.

REBECCA: Have you eaten actual food today?

JACK: Brownies.

REBECCA: Herbal brownies?

JACK: I’ve gotta keep my strength up for the Invitational.

REBECCA: The what.

JACK: The Call of Duty Regional Invitational.  I qualified, you know.  400th out of 400.  So, you’re looking at the 400th best Call of Duty player in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.  Combined.

REBECCA: Little sister’s so proud.

JACK: It only cost $200 to enter.

REBECCA: $200.  My $200?

JACK: Those tickets were a gift.  You wanted me to have them.

REBECCA: I was trying to help you.

JACK: The winner of the Invitational gets $5000.

REBECCA: You think you’re going to beat 399 other losers?

JACK: Not if I keep standing here talkin’ to you.  I’ve gotta practice.  Nine hours a day, nine days a week.

REBECCA: That’s not possible.

JACK: It’s a full-time job, Becky.  I finally found something I really care about, something I’m good at.

REBECCA: It’s completely worthless.

JACK: You should have a brownie.  Make you feel better.

REBECCA: I don’t want one of your damn pot brownies, Jack.  Does Mom know you’re doing that shit?

JACK: (Imitating Catherine) “As long as Henry and I can’t smell it, Jacky.”

REBECCA: Who’s Henry?

Jack, who the hell is Henry?

JACK: Did you lock the car?

(Rebecca repeats the Car Action.)

REBECCA: Yes.

JACK: Are you sure?

(Rebecca repeats the Car Action.)

REBECCA: Yes.  Now who the hell is Henry?

(AUDREY, 27, enters.  She is the youngest – and loudest – Heller.)

AUDREY: Surprise!

REBECCA: Audrey?

(Audrey hugs Rebecca.)

AUDREY: It’s so good to see you, Beks!

JACK: I’m just going to take these.

(Jack takes all the organic soda and starts to exit.)

AUDREY: Where are you going?

JACK: Back to the basement.  I have to work.

AUDREY: Stay and chat.

JACK: Duty calls, Aud.

Hah, that’s pretty funny.

(Jack exits.)

REBECCA: What are you doing here?  I thought you and Keith were staying in the Cities.

AUDREY: People change their minds, Beks.  They’re under no obligation to tell you.

REBECCA: Where’s Keith?

AUDREY: Still talking to the police.  We got into a little fender bender.

REBECCA: Oh my God, are you okay?

AUDREY: Of course.  It was the other driver’s fault.  Texting.

REBECCA: Oh.

AUDREY: He’ll just get a new car.  His work provides his car, you know.  A Mercedes.  It’s so nice having someone to drive me everywhere.

REBECCA: I like driving.

AUDREY: Not downtown.  Parking?  Gross.  That’s why our apartment has a free garage.  It’s so nice having a rich boyfriend.  I really don’t know what I’d do if I had to live on just my salary.

(Laughs)

AUDREY: I barely make anything at the theatre, but at least I love what I do.  I couldn’t stand it if I hated my job.  And if I had to live alone?  No thanks.

REBECCA: I love living alone.

AUDREY: Yes, but we live on the first floor, you know what would happen if a rapist or a burglar broke in.  I saw this news report last week—

(Rebecca is a wreck.  She pulls out very colorful wireless earbuds and pops them in.  Audrey keeps talking, silently.  Instead of Audrey, we hear: SFX: Classical music, maybe “Waltz of the Flowers” by Tchaikovsky.  It is light, upbeat, soothing. Rebecca visibly relaxes; we realize how tense she has been.  After a moment, she realizes Audrey is still talking, so she takes out one earbud.)

AUDREY: —And the neighbors heard screaming, but they thought it was just the TV, so—

(Rebecca puts the earbud back in.  As Audrey keeps “talking,” Rebecca dances around the room, happy in the music, happy in herself.  After a time, Rebecca lands back on the couch, a satisfied grin on her face.  Audrey is still “talking.” Resigned, Rebecca takes out the earbuds and tucks them away.)

AUDREY: —And I have perfect pitch, so you can only imagine how awkward that was!

REBECCA: Yes, that must have been…awful.

Do you know a Henry?

AUDREY: Who?

REBECCA: Jack said something about a “Henry,” “Mom and Henry.”

AUDREY: Maybe she’s dating again.  Dad’s been gone two years.

REBECCA: They were married for thirty.

AUDREY: Some people grieve faster than others.  Like when my cat died, Bella, I still got up the next morning and went to work.  Gotta help those people.

REBECCA: You work at the Ordway box office.

AUDREY: Yeah, helping people get tickets.  God, just because you have some shitty corporate job, don’t be jealous of mine.

(The door opens.  It is KEITH BECKER, Audrey’s boyfriend.)

AUDREY: Keith!

(She runs to him like he’s a soldier returning from war.  They kiss noisily. Jack reenters, grabs the last of the food off the counter, and exits again. Keith pulls free.)

KEITH: Babe, babe.

AUDREY: Oh my God, I thought you’d been shot, or run over, or killed.

KEITH: No, I was giving the officer my recommendations for the station’s new HVAC system.  Nice guy.  A salesman’s work is never done.

AUDREY: How’s the car?

Car.  Beks, did you lock the car?

(Rebecca repeats the Car Action.)

REBECCA: Yes.

AUDREY: Are you sure?

(Rebecca repeats the Car Action.)

REBECCA: Yes.

KEITH: It’s totaled.  I can’t represent my company with a scratch like that on the back bumper.

REBECCA: Can’t that be fixed?

KEITH: …Who are you?

AUDREY: Keith, this is Beks—Rebecca.  My older sister.

REBECCA: Thank you for pointing that out, Audrey.

KEITH: Yeah, that wasn’t necessary, I’m not blind.

REBECCA: Nice to meet you too.

AUDREY: Well, we should go get our room set up.  Beks, I talked to Mom, and you’ll sleep on the couch.

REBECCA: I’ll sleep in my room.

AUDREY: That’s where Keith and I are sleeping.

REBECCA: What about your room?

AUDREY: Mom turned it into a gym.

REBECCA: A treadmill and a Costco box of Twizzlers is not a gym.

AUDREY: Don’t argue with Mom.  The couch folds out anyway, stop complaining.  Come on, Keith.

(Audrey pulls Keith out of the room, taking the throw from the couch with her. Rebecca looks around, grabs the book, and starts reading as we hear Audrey and Keith climb the stairs.  Soon we hear their muffled – but understandable – voices through the ceiling.)

KEITH: (OS) I’m not staying in here, this room looks like shit.

AUDREY: (OS) Well, it’s either this or the pullout couch, so deal with it.

KEITH: (OS) You are such a bitch.  I don’t even know why we came in the first place.

AUDREY: (OS) We’ve been dating for seven months, it’s about time you met my family.

KEITH: (OS) Some family, your sister’s even more tightly wound than you are.

AUDREY: (OS) You never complained about my being tight before.

KEITH: (OS) You know that’s not what I meant.

AUDREY: (OS) Come on, haven’t you always wanted to do it on a window seat?

REBECCA: No, no, please no.

KEITH: (OS) Oh, God yes.

(And now we’re hearing them have sex.  Poor Rebecca. Rebecca quickly grabs for her earbuds and puts them in, but the classical music fails to drown out the ruckus upstairs.  She clamps her hands over her ears and closes her eyes, humming or singing along to the music.)

 

Kayla Hambek is a playwright and actor whose work has been published in the Santa Ana River Review, and seen onstage at the Wellstone Center, Theatre Garage, and Sabes JCC in Minneapolis, MN.  Her most recent world premiere is Persuasion, adapted from the Jane Austen novel.  Kayla is an MFA Playwriting candidate at Augsburg University, and lives in Minneapolis with her cat, Charlotte, and more Sherlock Holmes paraphernalia than any human should ever own.