By Allen M. Price

EXT: ROCKY POINT PARK – AFTER WORK – NIGHT

In view of the coastline, but a distance away. The unlit amusement park rides hug the night sky.

A SHIP HORN SOUNDS

Ezekiel and Patience and Matthew sit on the rock wall, cartons of clam chowder and clam cakes and beer are next to them. The moon and the stars reflect in the ocean. The ocean waves slap against the rock wall; it’s high tide. A light breeze blows.

Patience takes her sandals off, dips her feet into the water. Ezekiel lights a joint then passes it to Patience. Matthew’s drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette.

None of them has touched their food.

Ezekiel gazes out at the black sea that we can only hear, silently trying to free himself from his troubles when he says:

                       EZEKIEL
I wish I could swim.

                        PATIENCE
Let me teach you, Zeke. You’re not too old. I wish you’d stop saying that.

                        EZEKIEL
I’m afraid of the water.

Patience gives Ezekiel an I-don’t-believe-you look.

                        EZEKIEL
It’s true. When I was seven, just before y’all moved in, Deborah took me to the “Y” for lessons. They strapped a piece of Styrofoam to my back and put me in the deep end of the water. I was the only kid who freaked out and sank to the bottom.

Patience and Matthew start laughing.

                       EZEKIEL
(lightly laughing)
It’s not funny. I thought I was gonna die. All I remember is some woman bringing me to the top. I never went back.

                        MATTHEW
(laughing)
All I can picture is a little black boy with a big white thing of Styrofoam on his back.

                        EZEKIEL
If I weren’t so damn afraid, I’d swim right to the other shore and start a new life. Just let the water wash away my sins. I could drown them all.

                        PATIENCE
Stop that.

                        EZEKIEL
Why? If I drown then my sins’ll wash away before I die. My body’ll wash up onto the other shore and I’ll be able to start my life again.

                        MATTHEW
That’s bullshit. Nigga just be you.

                        PATIENCE
Matthew’s right. We don’t give a shit that you’re gay.

                        EZEKIEL
How you know what I am when I don’t know what the fuck I am! I just want everyone to be fuckin’ happy and back the fuck off me!

                        MATTHEW
OK, OK. Chill, nigga. Aight.

Silence engulfs them, only to be interrupted by Patience taking off her shirt, jumping off of the rocks, and into the water.

                        PATIENCE
Come on guys.

Matthew strips down to his underwear.

                        MATTHEW
Here I come!

Matthew does a cannon ball into the water splashing everyone.

                        EZEKIEL
Nice! Real nice!

                        MATTHEW
Come on STUD!

Matthew splashes Ezekiel.

                        EZEKIEL
Quit splashin’ me, nigga. And quit calling me that.

                        MATTHEW
Zeke, YOU STUD!

                        EZEKIEL
No one thinks you’re gay when you yell that shit out to me in the goddamn school corridors.

                        PATIENCE
That’s because he’s on the football team.

                        MATTHEW
It’s a joke, nigga. You need to stop letting Dante fuck with you. That motherfucker don’t fuck with me because he knows I kick his motherfuckin’ ass. Piece of shit. He’s the motherfuckin’ faggot.

                        EZEKIEL
Tell you this: if that fucker was drowning I’d let that motherfucker drown. He ain’t the only one I’d let drown either. Some motherfuckers don’t deserve to live. I’m sick of motherfuckers getting away with shit and not being held accountable for the shit they do. Put their shit on everyone else.

                        PATIENCE
I don’t think he’s talkin’ about Dante anymore.

                        EZEKIEL
You goddamn right I ain’t.

                        MATTHEW
Who ya talkin bout?

                        EZEKIEL
I don’t know why people are so fuckin’ bad to each other. It don’t make no fuckin’ sense.

                        MATTHEW
THE FUCK YOU TALKIN’ ‘BOUT!?

                        EZEKIEL
TEACHERS. PARENTS. PEERS. SOCIETY. CRAZY ASS SPECIES.

The haunting melody of a whale appears in the distance.

                        PATIENCE
GOOD LORD! WHAT IS THAT?!

                        MATTHEW
A whale.

                        PATIENCE
Sounds like it’s crying.

Patience swims to the shore, a bit freaked by the sound.

The whale cries again.

                        EZEKIEL
It sounds so peaceful.

                        PATIENCE
Peaceful!? I’m gonna go sit in the car.

                        MATTHEW
Damn, Dog, you’d never know she gets her ass kicked at home. She be hidin’ that weed real good. Like everything be all good in shit.

                        EZEKIEL
She don’t talk about it. Not even with me.

                        MATTHEW
She don’t want anyone to know.

EXT: ROCKY POINT PARK – LATER THAT NIGHT

Patience is sound asleep in the backseat of Matthew’s car. Matthew is laying passed out drunk and high on the rock wall.

We hear the sound of a loud splash; it wakes Matthew up. He peers around once he is able to focus, sees Patience in the car, but cannot find Ezekiel. In an instant, he puts it together that the splash was Ezekiel. Matthew runs to the dock where he heard the splash and jumps in and disappears under the water.

He emerges a few long minutes later with Ezekiel, helping him swim to the dock. Matthew pulls Ezekiel up onto the dock. They both catch their breaths.

                        MATTHEW
WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING!?

                        EZEKIEL
I went for a swim.

                        MATTHEW
A SWIM?!

                        EZEKIEL
You and Patience were sleeping, I didn’t wanna bother you.

                        MATTHEW
OH, AND JUMPING OFF A FUCKIN’ DOCK, NOT KNOWING HOW TO SWIM WON’T BOTHER ME!?

Ezekiel sits looking at the rippling water.

                        EZEKIEL
I can’t do it anymore, Matthew. I can’t keep fighting just to stay alive. I ache and I’m tired of trying to live a life that I don’t wanna live. Every day I go to school with the threat that someone’s gonna beat the shit outta me. And then I come home and watch Patience get the shit beat outta her. My head is barely above water. It only makes sense to let it go under. I’ll stop ruining everyone’s life.

                        MATTHEW
Killing yourself WILL ruin everyone’s life!

                        EZEKIEL
My mother won’t have to work three jobs, you won’t have to defend me, and Patience can live with my mother as her own and get away from her shithead mother.

                        MATTHEW
You ain’t thinkin’ clearly. We need you here nigga. I need you here. You’re my nigga. It’s you and me. Gay, straight, I don’t give a fuck. We’ve known each other too goddamn long to let something like that fuck up our friendship.

Ezekiel doesn’t speak. He, for the first time, wonders if Matthew might be gay. Matthew picks up the cross around Ezekiel’s neck and says:

                        MATTHEW
What you wear this for? You think He’ll save you? You haven’t even met him.

                        EZEKIEL
Not yet. Came close once before. I never told you this, but in ninth grade I slit my wrist in the back of Art class. It didn’t go deep. We were making ceramics and I took the razor across my wrist.

Matthew punches Ezekiel in the shoulder.

                        MATTHEW
The fuck’s wrong which you?! I can’t lose you, Zeke. I’m serious. Talk to me if you need to talk. Just say you won’t do that again.

Ezekiel stares up at the sky and says:

                        EZEKIEL
I just wanna be free. Like the moon and the stars and the endless sky. All good things are wild and free…like Thoreau said.

                        MATTHEW
Stop fuckin’ around. I’m serious.

                        EZEKIEL
What’re you saving me for? My mother don’t want me, my father don’t want me, the kids at school don’t want me. I’ll be better off when I’m gone. Y’all be better off when I’m gone.

                        MATTHEW
I want you. And I want you to want to be here. I don’t give a shit about what people say about us. It’s just me and you.

Ezekiel pauses, looks at Matthew perplexed.

                        EZEKIEL
Me and you?

                        MATTHEW
People talk. Say that you and me faggin’ out with each other. I don’t give a shit.

Ezekiel is taken aback, unsure what to say. He stares at Matthew’s legs.

                        MATTHEW
You’re always looking at my legs.

                        EZEKIEL
They’re jacked.

                        MATTHEW
(laughing)
And hairy as fuck.

Ezekiel gazes at them.

                        EZEKIEL
All that running…

                        MATTHEW
You used to run too. Sixth grade. Holliman. They had the running program we joined.

                        EZEKIEL
Yeah. I only did it ‘cause I didn’t wanna go home after school. You got to do 200 laps around the school to get the t-shirt.

                        MATTHEW
I got four bars on each sleeve, more than anyone else in the whole sixth grade. I feel free when I run. Can escape everything and everyone. My mind goes blank. Man I friggin’ love it.

                        EZEKIEL
Like you’re running from something.

                        MATTHEW
You’re a buzzkill, you know that?

                        EZEKIEL
Gotta have a buzzkill for the buzz, right?

Matthew grabs the back of Ezekiel’s head and kisses him. Patience watches as they kiss for long seconds. Ezekiel appears shocked when Matthew lets go. Matthew looks relieved.

                        PATIENCE
(appearing suddenly)
Well, it’s about time.

One by one they start laughing.

THE WHALE CRIES again.

Its cry silences each of them as they all stare out into the dark ocean night.

FADE TO BLACK


Allen M. Price is a writer from Rhode Island. Excerpts of the book he is writing appear in River Teeth, The Fourth River (chosen by guest editor Ira Sukrungruang) and Jellyfish Review, and The Coachella Review. His fiction and nonfiction work appears in Sou’wester, Cosmonauts Avenue, Gertrude Press, Columbia Journal, The Adirondack Review, Tulane Review, The Saturday Evening Post, and others. His chapbook ‘The Unintended Consequences of Haitian Reparation’ appears in Hawai’i Review.He has an MA in journalism from Emerson College.