JEFFERSON STREET

 

A hospital room at Franklin General.  In bed is Billy Ryan, an out-of-shape and once-handsome man in his forties.  Visiting him is a big man in his sixties, Raymond Ryan.

BILLY

So, for lunch I had the shrimp and chicken with black bean sauce—

UNCLE RAY

Where?  Ming’s Garden?

BILLY

No.  I go to Hop Won on Pierce.

UNCLE RAY

That place any good?

BILLY

Shit, yeah.  Szechuan dumplings with peanut sauce, unbelievable.  Stuffed with shrimp and pork or crabmeat—

UNCLE RAY

How do you know what they’re stuffed with?  They could say anything.

BILLY

Come on.  And there’s this place over on Monroe, Mackie’s, just opened, that for nineteen ninety-five you get soup, salad, a small lobster and a potato.

UNCLE RAY

That’s not a bad deal.  Might hafta check it out myself.

BILLY

Tell the guy ya know me.  He’ll take good care a’ya.

UNCLE RAY

I bet.   So, two big meals like that.  Not includin the bacon ya had for breakfast.

BILLY

I gotta have my bacon.

UNCLE RAY

Have a fuckin salad for god’s sake.

BILLY

I can’t eat no fuckin salad.

UNCLE RAY

Ya gained a lotta weight, Billy.  Face it.

BILLY

There’re a lotta guys fatter than me, Uncle Ray.

UNCLE RAY

I’m not talkin about them, I’m talkin about you.  Layin in the hospital.  With tubes runnin up yer nose, comin out your dick.  Stuck up yer—

BILLY

Okay.  Look, I’m stressed, alright?  I gotta lotta stress.

UNCLE RAY

It’s your own doin.

BILLY

I know that, Uncle Ray.  I know.  Thanks for comin.

(An attractive, young doctor, Asian, enters holding a clipboard.)

DR. KIM

Mister Ryan?

BILLY

I just had my blood pressure checked a half-hour ago.  You guys gotta communicate—

DR. KIM

I’m Doctor Kim.

BILLY

Oh.  I’m sorry.  I thought—

(He checks her out.)

Hello.

DR. KIM

I’m a resident here in ICU.

BILLY

How old’re you?  Nineteen?  Twenty?

DR. KIM

We have your tests.

BILLY

(Smiling.)

How’d I do?

DR. KIM

Well, you did have a heart attack.  Your right coronary artery was ninety percent blocked—

BILLY

Ninety percent.  That’s a lotta percent.

DR. KIM

—we performed an angioplasty and put in a stent, but we need to do more tests.

BILLY

Doctor, my heart’s beatin really fast now.

DR. KIM

(A short beat.)

I expect you’ll be here at least a few more days, but your condition is stable.  And you’re being carefully monitored, so if there is an event—

BILLY

An event?

DR. KIM

If something changes it’ll show up on the monitor and we’ll see it.

BILLY

I can see I’m pretty well hooked-up.

DR. KIM

Try not to move around.  Try to stay calm.

BILLY

With you in the room?  I dunno.

DR. KIM

Doctor Aarons will be in later to take a look at you.

(Dr. Kim exits.  Billy laughs.)

UNCLE RAY

Still the same Billy Ryan.  A fuckin idiot.

BILLY

She loved me, Uncle Ray!  Couldn’t ya tell?

 

UNCLE RAY

No.  Those people’re takin over the world.

 

BILLY

C’mon.  You gotta admit she was cute, huh?  Tall.  Slim.  Nice, right?  Stand-offish.  A little mysterious.

 

UNCLE RAY

Our inscrutable friends from the East.

 

BILLY

Yeah.  Kinda cold.  I’ll warm her up.  Waddaya think?

 

UNCLE RAY

What do I think?  I think you’re outa your fuckin mind.  That’s what I think.  Pain in the ass gettin up here.  They closed the Van Buren.

 

BILLY

Oh yeah?

 

UNCLE RAY

Construction.  Next time ya pick a hospital, don’t pick this one.  Fuckin dump, anyway.

 

BILLY

This is where they took me.  I didn’t pick it.

 

UNCLE RAY

Franklin General isn’t for people like you and me.  Understand?

 

BILLY

No.  I don’t understand.  I’m stupid.  Could you explain it to me, Uncle Ray?

 

UNCLE RAY

I’ll draw ya a blueprint.  When’s Sharon comin?

 

BILLY

Who the fuck knows?

 

UNCLE RAY

Nice.

 

BILLY

Hey, I dunno.  They said she called.  Left a message.  Can’t make it today.  Call tomorrow.  Gotta get Billy from soccer, then Jill and Jenny from dance class.  And then she’s gotta dump ‘em off somewhere, and then go meet… I dunno… Jamál—

 

UNCLE RAY

Shut the fuck up.

 

BILLY

—or Ramón or—

 

UNCLE RAY

Hey!  She’s a good kid.  She’d never do anything like that and you know it.  Daddy’s in the hospital and the kids are playin ball and dancin.  Nice.

 

BILLY

What’re they gonna do here?  They’ll aggravate me and I’ll have another heart attack.

 

UNCLE RAY

Hey.  How come you don’t bring ‘em around anymore?  Don’t they wanna see their Uncle Ray?

 

BILLY

Course, they do.  They like the presents.

 

UNCLE RAY

Then why dontcha…?

 

BILLY

Talk to Sharon, she’s the one with the bug up her ass.

 

UNCLE RAY

About what?

 

BILLY

About everything.  She’s crazy.  I toldja.

 

UNCLE RAY

I don’t—?

 

BILLY

Just talk to her.  I don’t wanna get—

 

UNCLE RAY

Is it—

 

BILLY

—involved in this bullshit.

 

UNCLE RAY

—somethin I—

 

BILLY

Naah.

 

UNCLE RAY

—did?  Or said?

 

BILLY

It’s nothin.  She’s a little…

 

UNCLE RAY

What did I—?

 

BILLY

Nothin.  Really.  She’s got a vivid—

 

UNCLE RAY

Billy, I—

 

BILLY

—imagination.

 

UNCLE RAY

Imagination?

 

BILLY

Don’t worry about it.  Really.

 

UNCLE RAY

I’m worried.  I love those kids.

 

BILLY

I know ya do.

(A short beat.)

They zapped me, Uncle Ray.

 

UNCLE RAY

Wha?

 

BILLY

Twice with those fuckin pads.  Zzzzzappp!  I flew in the air!  When they did that on E.R.—

 

UNCLE RAY

I liked that show.

 

BILLY

Me too.  The girl.  That type.  Whatsername?  Black hair.  Glasses.  Right?  She’s a little stiff.  A little too smart for her own good.  Take the glasses off and she’s hot.  Right?  I like that.  You, Uncle Ray?

 

UNCLE RAY

Yeah.  Me likey.  Me likey.  What’s not to like?

 

BILLY

Tell me about it.

 

UNCLE RAY

Just so long as the broad keeps her mouth shut, we’ll get along fine.

 

BILLY

You’re the best, Uncle Ray.  Hey, how come you never married?

 

UNCLE RAY

Look at me.  Who the fuck would be crazy enough to marry me?  Come on.

(He does his signature dance.)

 

BILLY

Yeah!

(They both laugh.)

What were we talkin about?

 

UNCLE RAY

I dunno.  E.R.?

 

BILLY

No.  No.  Before that.

 

UNCLE RAY

The kids?

 

BILLY

No.  After.  Shit.  I forgot.  Prob’ly wasn’t important anyway.  Fuckin place.  Kill for a cigarette.  A bourbon.  Little ice.  Cracked.  Nice.  Fuck.  Uncle Ray, howsabout gettin me a ciga—

 

UNCLE RAY

You’re in the hospital, ya idiot!

 

BILLY

I know.  I know.  I know.  Can’t believe I’m laid-up in this shithouse.  Maybe I got one—?

(He feels around for his cigarettes.  He touches a sore spot.)

Ow, oh yeah, the pads!  That’s it.

 

UNCLE RAY

Yeah.

 

BILLY

Yeah.  When they zapped me.  The pad thing.

 

UNCLE RAY

Yeah.  That was it.  Yeah.

 

BILLY

When they did the pad thing, I’m like “it’s over.”  I’m shakin like this:

(He shakes.)

That was a new one on me, tell ya that.  Fuckin terror.

 

UNCLE RAY

Ya wanna talk terror?  I’ll give ya terror.  When ya got some fuckin Viet Cong gook bastard—

 

BILLY

Uncle Ray.  Come on.

 

UNCLE RAY

—in a tree lobbin hand grenades and shootin at ya and ya can’t find him.  And yer best friend’s head explodes and lands in your lap and bits of skull and bone—

 

BILLY

I know.

 

UNCLE RAY

—and blood get all over ya face, in ya mouth and his fuckin eyeball’s bouncin around and shit’s flyin everywhere—

 

BILLY

I know!  I know, Uncle Ray.  Nam sucked.  I know.  Jesus.

 

UNCLE RAY

I hadda eat bugs.

 

BILLY

I know.  They took so much blood.  I told the nurse, blond hair, little chunky, (nice rack, though), “Sweetheart, could ya leave a couple pints for me?”  She was laughin.  Pretty cute, too.

 

UNCLE RAY

They’re all cute.

 

BILLY

Jesus, I hope this is covered, cause if it ain’t, I’m done.  Ya know, in a way I’m lucky it was a heart attack and they admitted me, else I woulda hadda pay out-the-nose.  I freaked out, so they hadda gimme somethin to relax me.

 

UNCLE RAY

I’ll give ya somethin to relax ya.

(He makes a fist.)

 

BILLY

Yeah.  You’re real funny.  How can ya relax when the bill’s gettin higher and higher?

 

UNCLE RAY

How can ya relax when every minute might be yer last?

 

BILLY

Thanks, Uncle Ray.  What if the tests come back and say I gotta get a bypass or somethin and I’m out for months?  What if those motherfuckers at Mutual won’t pay?  What if—

 

UNCLE RAY

Take it easy, Billy-boy.  Your Uncle Ray’s got it all figured out.  City gives ya a good health plan.  You’ll go out on Disability for a while.  Take some time off.  Recuperate.  You’ll be up and runnin in no time.

 

BILLY

I sure hope so.

 

UNCLE RAY

Ya know, I saw Tommy McHenry the other night.  You remember Tommy, dontcha?

 

BILLY

No.  I’m stupid.  I don’t remember Tommy McHenry.  Gimme a break, Uncle Ray.

 

UNCLE RAY

Ya know, they got him an office in that blue building with all the glass.

 

BILLY

Yeah, I know.

UNCLE RAY

By the Armory.

 

BILLY

Yeah, I know.  He’s got your buddy, Frank’s old job, right?

 

UNCLE RAY

Frank’ll be back.

 

BILLY

Yeah.  In five-to-ten.

 

UNCLE RAY

Hey—

 

BILLY

Frank’s a crook—

 

UNCLE RAY

Frank’s no crook.

 

BILLY

—face it.

 

UNCLE RAY

And he’s been very good to you, whether you know it or not.

 

BILLY

Fine.

 

UNCLE RAY

And didja know Tommy’s a silent partner at The Blue Room, The Pink Pussycat, Gents—

 

BILLY

Gents?

 

UNCLE RAY

Yeah.  Kid’s made it, far as I’m concerned.

 

BILLY

Guess the scumbag’s doin pretty good.

 

UNCLE RAY

What’s wrong with Tommy all of a sudden?

 

BILLY

Nothin.  He’s a stellar individual.  Yeah.  Tommy McHenry, a purveyor of spirits and a pimp to boot.  Good man.  Someone for your kids to look up to.  A role model.

 

UNCLE RAY

Thanks for the commentary.  Well, he sends his best.  “Get well quick.  Speedy recovery.”

 

BILLY

Nice.

 

UNCLE RAY

Wants ya to call him one of these days.  Catch up.

 

BILLY

I will.  Not quite up-to-it, Uncle Ray.  Me bein… ya know… sick—

 

UNCLE RAY

I know.

 

BILLY

—in the hospital.

 

UNCLE RAY

When ya can.  No rush.  Why ya gettin so worked-up?

 

BILLY

I’m not. I’m…

UNCLE RAY

What?

 

BILLY

I’m just… tired, Uncle Ray.  I’m sorry…

 

UNCLE RAY

Yeah.  Go to sleep.  I’ll see ya… whenever.  I’ll tell Tommy ya said “hello.”

(Billy closes his eyes.  Uncle Ray gets up to leave.  A beat.)

Billy?

 

BILLY

Yeah?

 

UNCLE RAY

Don’t try to bullshit your Uncle Ray.

(The lights fade on them.)

End of Excerpt

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