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LITTLE UNIVERSE

 

Scene One.  Lights up on a middle-aged man in a booth at the Galaxy Diner.  He’s reading the paper.

SEAN

Dammit.  Like I haven’t felt bad enough?  Pete!  Ya see this?  Our old friend just made a return engagement!  By Popular Demand!  Damn, I’m one sick bastard.  Terrible.

(Reads.)

And if anyone has any information they should call…  Right.  If ya don’t like livin.

(He laughs and puts the paper down.)

Not good, Sean.  Not good.  Jokin bout this.  Gettin to me.  Too much. Three meals at this shithole, then home to my shithole.  Sorry Pete!  The Galaxy’s not a shithole.  Shithole’s a term of endearment.  Really.  The Galaxy’s a fine establishment!

(To himself.)

Used to be somethin, right Pete?  The old days?  Damn.  Rollin in at four in the morning; walkin in; toasted; after the gig—those were the days, right?  The boys.  The girls.  We had some cool ones, right?  We gotta good crowd, right?  Damn.  Shit.  Gotta stop this shit.  Makin myself crazy.  Daydreaming.  Every fuckin day.  Same booth.  Same toasted corn muffin with a little butter.  Same coffee regular.  Same bullshit.  I can’t live here anymore!  Gotta get outa this neighborhood!  Too many memories.  I hate livin here!  It’s too— too… clean.  Not for me.  Clean is not for me.  I should be livin in a dirty little room with paint peelin offa the walls and the ashtrays are full and there’s roaches when I open the kitchen cabinets; swarmin all over the boxes of crackers and cookies and cans of soup.  I kill ‘em with with my shoe.  Yeah.  Gotta remember to get down to the bodega and pick up a couple motels; can of Raid.  Spray that shit.  Kill every living thing.

(A beat.)

Every living thing…

Living in a little universe of their own… seein what they see, takin up that space that only they can take up.  I’m takin up my space in the universe; seein it through my eyes; feelin it through my nervous system; my heart; my soul; thoughts and feelings are mine and mine alone.  I can tell you about ‘em, but no matter what I say, you can never feel what I feel; you can never know what I know.  Maybe we strike a chord in each other?  A deep one, a g-minor seventh with an augmented fifth or somethin, and it resonates and maybe you say “Yeah!  That’s it!  I feel that too!”  But that’s as close as you’re gonna get.  We’re all alone in our little universe.

(Sean pays his check and leaves.  Lights out on him.)

Scene Two.  Up on a storefront in Hell’s Kitchen.  Two men sipping coffee.  Lorenzo is in his sixties.  Ray is in his late thirties.  Ray is reading the paper.

RAY

Surprise.  Surprise.  You see this?

(Ray hands Lorenzo the paper.)

 

LORENZO

What?

 

RAY

You know where they’re buildin that co-op?

 

LORENZO

Where?

 

RAY

Eleventh Avenue.  By the tracks.

 

LORENZO

Yeah.

 

RAY

Couple workmen found that kid.

 

LORENZO

What kid?

 

RAY

The freak.  Remember?  We buried him near the tracks.

 

LORENZO

No.

 

RAY

Come on.  You did quite a job on the little motherfucker.

 

LORENZO

When was…?

 

RAY

Fifteen-twenty years ago.  Remember?  We were dealin.  He called you a wop.

 

LORENZO

Don’t ring a bell.

 

RAY

He kept starin at you and you lost it.

 

LORENZO

Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  Yeah.  Hate when they stare.  Makes me feel very bad about myself.

 

RAY

Well, he finally turned up.

(Lorenzo peruses the article.  A beat.)

 

LORENZO

Don’t worry about it.  They don’t even know who the fuck he is.

 

RAY

They got DNA and dental records and computers.  They can figure it out.

 

LORENZO

They ain’t gonna figure out shit, cause there’s nothin to figure.

RAY

(Reading.)

Love this “his eyes were gouged out, gangland style.

 

LORENZO

They can’t prove we did it.

 

RAY

You did that.  Not me.

 

LORENZO

He’s a skeleton by now.  Couple bones.  They’re just gonna put him in Potter’s Field and be done with it.  Drink your coffee.  No one gives a shit about this guy.

 

RAY

You’re the best.  You don’t worry about nothin.

 

LORENZO

I got my worries.  Don’t worry.

 

RAY

I know.  I can see it on ya.

 

LORENZO

Oh yeah?

 

RAY

Ya been lookin tired.

 

LORENZO

Haven’t been sleepin well.

 

RAY

I knew somethin was up.  When ya been workin together long as we have, ya get to know, ya know, your friends, their moods.

 

LORENZO

Really?  We’re friends?  When did this happen?

 

RAY

Come on, Larry!  We’ve been workin together—

 

LORENZO

Workin together does not constitute a friend.

 

RAY

Oh.  So now I’m not your friend?

 

LORENZO

I didn’t say that.

 

RAY

Paper piss you off?

 

LORENZO

No.

 

RAY

Well, you’re not yourself.

 

LORENZO

So, who am I?

 

RAY

Huh?

 

LORENZO

You say I’m not myself, so if I’m not myself, who am I?

 

RAY

Stop it.  You’re scarin me now.

 

LORENZO

That’s always been your problem.

 

RAY

What?

 

LORENZO

You scare too easy.

 

RAY

Fuck you!

 

LORENZO

Everybody knows it Ray.  Ya like to bully the little guy, but when it comes to—

(Stops.  Short pause.)

I didn’t mean that.

 

RAY

I know ya did.

 

LORENZO

I’m sorry, Ray.  I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.  You’re a good man.  A great partner.  I don’t know what I woulda done without ya all these years.

(Short pause.)

I gotta bad temper and I say things I don’t mean sometimes.

 

RAY

Uh-huh.

 

LORENZO

Do things I don’t wanna do sometimes.  Well, things’re gonna be different from here on in.  Time you knew.

 

RAY

What’s gonna be different?

 

LORENZO

I’m… uh… makin some changes.  Personal in nature.

 

RAY

Yeah?

 

LORENZO

Yeah.

(Short pause.)

 

RAY

What kinda changes?

 

LORENZO

I’ve decided that I’m… uh…

(Pause.)

I’m gonna be…

 

RAY

What?

 

LORENZO

…try to be— uhhhmmm…

 

RAY

Yeah?

(Short pause.)

 

LORENZO

S’not easy for me…

 

RAY

I can see that.

 

LORENZO

Wanna change things.  Ya know, I made some choices along the way, some good, some bad, and now I wanna be…

 

RAY

What?

(Short pause.  Lorenzo exhales.)

 

LORENZO

Kind.

 

RAY

What?

 

LORENZO

Kind.  I’m gonna be kind.

(Silence.)

 

RAY

You?

 

LORENZO

Yeah, me!  I’m gonna be a kind person.  Somethin wrong with that?

 

RAY

No.

 

LORENZO

Fuck.  It’s ingrained in me.

 

RAY

What is?

 

LORENZO

Nothin.

 

RAY

(Pause.  A joke.)

Well, can ya loan me fifty bucks, oh kind soul?

(Ray laughs.)

 

LORENZO

Sure.  Ya need fifty bucks?

 

RAY

No.

 

LORENZO

Coz I’ll give it to ya.  Ya need a hundred?  I’ll give ya a hundred.  Coz that’s the new me.

 

RAY

You can't be kind.  You're an outlaw.  A criminal.  Criminals can’t be kind.

 

LORENZO

Pretty Boy Floyd used to buy poor people turkeys on Thanksgiving.

 

RAY

That’s a myth.

 

LORENZO

No, it ain’t.

 

RAY

It is!  Besides, kindness ain’t your style.  You're mean.  That's what makes you so good at what you do.  You're ruthless.

 

LORENZO

Those days—

 

RAY

Remember that—

 

LORENZO

—are behind me.

 

RAY

—fat Jew bastard who ran the fuckin… what was it?

 

LORENZO

The topless place on forty-third.

 

RAY

Yeah.  —was skimmin and fuckin alla girls.  We come in, he’s on toppa one of ‘em, sees us, shits himself, you grab a video, say—

 

RAY & LORENZO

—this looks interesting, Anal Adventure—

 

LORENZO

Yeah…

 

RAY

—and then ya jammed yer gun right up his fat ass—

 

LORENZO

Ray!  Please!

 

RAY

—and bam!

(Laughing.)

What a mess!

 

LORENZO

My piece stunk so bad.  Hadda throw it out.

(They laugh.)

 

RAY

And you don’t lose your sense of humor either.  That’s very important in our line of work.

(A beat.)

I think ya killed the girl too.

 

LORENZO

I don’t remember.

 

RAY

Don’t fuck with Lorenzo Salvatore!  It is this kinda class and individuality that makes you, you.  You don't care about your fellow man.  Or woman for that matter.  In fact, I'd say you even enjoy inflicting pain on them.

 

LORENZO

I have to admit, I do get a…

(Short pause.)

…thrill from it.  Yeah.

 

RAY

And let’s face it, pain is a language they all understand, and you speak it good.  They could be beggin and pleadin for mercy.  They could be shittin themselves, tears, nothin from you.  If anything, you get meaner.

 

LORENZO

It’s tough to look at that shit.  Makes me nuts.

 

RAY

That’s what makes you great!

(A beat.)

 

LORENZO

I wonder why that is?

 

RAY

Why what is?

 

LORENZO

Why I’m such a sick fuck?

 

RAY

Larry.

 

LORENZO

Why the sight of human misery makes me even harder?  Why I don’t feel any compassion?  Nothin.  I just get meaner and meaner.  One day, I’m gonna drown in it like Yul Brynner did.

 

RAY

Who?

 

LORENZO

Yul Brynner.  In the Ten Commandments.  The more the people hurt, the meaner Brynner got.  Until God hadda drown him and his whole fuckin army.  What does that tell ya?

 

RAY

Don’t mess with the Jews?

 

LORENZO

What it tells ya is that ya can drown in your own meanness.  And I don’t want that to happen to me.  I'm turnin over a new leaf.

 

RAY

What does that mean?  Turnin over a new leaf?

 

LORENZO

Makin a new start.

 

RAY

Yeah, I know that, but what do leaves have to do with it?

 

LORENZO

Like in a book.  A leaf is like a page in a book.  I’m turning the page.

 

RAY

Hhhh…

 

LORENZO

I’m turning the page of my life.  Beginning a new chapter.  A blank page.  Nothin on it.  Not yet.

 

RAY

I never knew that.  A leaf is a page in a book.  That’s so true.  Never knew that.

 

LORENZO

Now ya do.

(He takes out fifty dollars.)

Take it.

 

RAY

You're kiddin.

 

LORENZO

No.  I know you need it.  Take the fifty.

 

RAY

I don't really need it.  I was just kiddin with you.

 

LORENZO

Take it.

 

RAY

I don't need the fifty.

 

LORENZO

This is not about you or what you need.  It’s about me giving it to you.  Understand?

 

RAY

Yeah.  It’s just I don’t need—

 

LORENZO

All the more reason to give it to you.  Enjoy it.  Buy a new shirt for God’s sake.

 

RAY

What’s wrong with my shirt?

(Lorenzo stuffs the fifty in Ray’s pocket.)

No!  No!  Why’re you doin this?

 

LORENZO

I just told you—

 

RAY

I won’t let you do this!  What the fuck is kind?  You’ve never been kind in your whole life!

 

LORENZO

I know.

 

RAY

(Grabbing the newspaper.)

You gouged that poor kid’s eyes out!

 

LORENZO

That was no kid.

 

RAY

He was screamin in pain!  You knew right off you hadda kill him!  You didn’t hafta gouge—

 

LORENZO

I know!

 

RAY

You set fire—

 

LORENZO

Don’t bring back—

 

RAY

—to that bodega—

 

LORENZO

—bad memories!

 

RAY

—when they were late with the money—

 

LORENZO

Three months!

 

RAY

—and you ended up killin that whole family!  Three little kids layin in their beds!  Terrible.

 

LORENZO

Don’t remind—

 

RAY

And you laughed!  Remember?  Hard too.  You laughed hard!

 

LORENZO

I regret it, Ray.  I regret the fire, the laughing, everything.  I regret almost everything I’ve ever done.

(Long pause.)

I’m all alone, Ray.  All alone in this world.

 

RAY

No you’re not.

 

LORENZO

I am, Ray.  I got no one.  No one loves me.  I don’t think anybody even likes me.

 

RAY

I like you.

 

LORENZO

No ya don’t.  Nobody does.

 

RAY

I do.

 

LORENZO

(A challenge.)

Why?  Why do you like me?

 

RAY

I don’t know.  I just do.

 

LORENZO

No.  You gotta have a reason.  I’ve been a good friend.  I’ve done something for you.  I’m there for you.  Somethin.

(Pause.)

 

RAY

You’re strong.

 

LORENZO

I am strong, but that’s not enough.  I can’t go on this way; bein an enemy to everyone; everyone scared of me.  I can’t even have a normal conversation!  They’re all too busy tremblin!  It’s killin me, Ray.  When I die, no one will mourn me.  No one will be sad that I’m gone.  No one will miss me.  In fact, most people who’ve come in contact with me will be glad I’m dead.

(Short pause.)

My soul is black.  I’m not a person, Ray.  I’m a monster.

 

RAY

You’re not a monster!  Jesus!

 

LORENZO

I am.  There’s no light inside of me, just darkness.  Everything’s money and guns and… that’s my world, my little universe; guns and money and drugs and prostitutes… it’s fucked-up, Ray.  Fucked-up.

 

RAY

Oh, Larry, what happened to you?

 

LORENZO

This is a very ugly world we live in, Ray.  I don’t know that I can live in it anymore.

 

RAY

You’re wrong, Larry.  This is the best world there is!  It really is!  It’s exciting!

 

LORENZO

It’s violent.  It hurts people.  It hurts me.

 

RAY

True.  That’s the downside, but besides that, we live well.  We do whatever the fuck we want!  We don’t punch a clock.  What could be worse than punchin a clock?

 

LORENZO

Punchin a person.

 

RAY

A scumbag, Larry.  Scumbags deserve to be punched and kicked and killed.  Believe me.  We wouldn’t be doin it if it was wrong.

 

LORENZO

Can I tell ya a secret?

 

RAY

Sure.

 

LORENZO

I see their faces.

 

RAY

Who’s faces?

 

LORENZO

All the people I killed.  They come in my dreams.

 

RAY

Yeah?

 

LORENZO

Yeah.  And they say “What did I ever do to you?  Why did you kill me?  And then they start chantin.  “Why?  Why?” over and over again.  And I tell‘em I hadda.  But they keep goin “why?’  Louder and louder.  And they start closin in on me, real slow, and I can’t breathe.  Gettin closer and closer until they’re right on toppa me.

 

RAY

Wadda they do?  Pound ya?

 

LORENZO

No.  They just keep chantin.  Except for one.

 

RAY

Who?

 

LORENZO

The kid without the eyeballs.

 

RAY

The one who’s eyes you —

 

LORENZO

Yeah.

(A beat.)

He just stands there.  He don’t move.  He don’t do nothin.  He just bleeds and bleeds from the sockets.

 

RAY

Damn.

 

LORENZO

And now he’s back.

(A beat.)

I gotta go.  Gotta get away from—  I gotta—

 

RAY

Larry, I— You gonna be okay?

 

LORENZO

Yeah.  I’m fine.  Don’t worry about me, Ray.  Spend the money.  Have a good time.

(Lorenzo gets up.)

 

RAY

Where ya goin?  Larry, I thought we—

 

LORENZO

Calm down, Ray.  I’m just gonna set some things straight.  If I don’t do it now, I ain’t never gonna do it.

(Lorenzo leaves as the lights fade on Ray.  End of scene.)

.