BURTON: (door openingóhalf awake) Hello.
OFFICER: Is this the residence of a Mr. Burton T. Jefferson?
BURTON: (not fully awake yet) Yes, thatís me.
OFFICER: Are you any relation to a William Timothy Jefferson?
BURTON: (quite a bit more awake) Yes, thatís my son. Whatís happened?
OFFICER: Well thereís been an accident and we need you to come down to the hospital toó
BURTON: Let me wake up my daughter and get my coat and weíll be right there.
(Lights up. The scene is a hospital waiting room with the obligatory magazine coffee table and perhaps a TV that is alluded to. A coffee maker is probably onstage as well. BURTON and TINA sit in waiting room chairs CS.)
TINA: (She looks through a magazine rather rapidly, puts it down, picks up another does the same) Boring magazines. Itís bad enough that they are not interesting, but they're over two months old as well. Whatís on TV? (She picks up the remote and clicks on the TV)
BURTON: (He is in a silent mode and staring straight ahead and sipping coffee. He senses that he has just been asked a question) What was that?
TINA: Nothing. I was just wondering what was on TV. (BURTON goes back to his coffee and TINA back to her TV)
TINA: (coldly) Dad. Heís going to be alright. Weíve been through this before. Will gets drunk and raps himself around a telephone pole, you pay his hospital bill and he rides off into the sunrise without so much as a thank you.
BURTON: That was three years ago. Besides, the officer already confirmed that alcohol wasnít involved. He fell asleep at the wheel and veered off the road.
BURTON: He was on his way home. I know it.
TINA: He lives halfway across the state. (pause) Oh, you mean he was on his way home. I doubt it.
BURTON: (hopefully) Why else would he be in town?
TINA: Dad, is your memory that short? Heís probably run out of money again and come to see if he can squeeze some more out of you.
BURTON: No. This time heís come back for good. Heís my son.
TINA: (reminding, not scolding) Thatís not what you said when you kicked him out of the house. You said he wasnít your son anymore.
BURTON: That was three years ago. Heíll always be my son. Will wasnít acting like my son though. I didnít have a problem with him living at home while he went to college. I didnít have a problem when he dropped out of college. I didnít approve of it, but he had the freedom to make that choice. It was those friends that he started hanging out with. They started him on some bad habits. Coming in at all hours of the night, the drinking binges. I tried to help him, but he didnít want my help. Iíd get him out of trouble, Iíd pay for his tickets and hope that he would start acting like my son again. It wasnít like open rebellion. Heíd always say he was sorry, but got right back to it. I raised Willie different than that! Things looked like they were getting better and then I found out he was just getting better at hiding it from me. He had lost his job and had been using my credit card to support his habit. (feels like he has to convince his daughter) Donít you see, I had to kick him out of the house. Things were too easy for him here. I had to send him out into the real world of consequences that daddy no longer covered. It hurt me to have to do that.
TINA: (sternly, but holding back emotion) Daddy, Iím not upset that you kicked him out. I think that you made the right decision. Will needs to pay for what heís done.
BURTON: Iím sure heís changed now. Heís come back for good. God, please let my son live
TINA: (canít believe what she is hearing) Dad how can you say that? He stole from you to support his drinking habit. And all the other things. How can you want him to back home after all heís done? It was his fault that mom ó (she cuts herself off before she can say the rest).
BURTON: (standing) Your mother had a heart condition, and
that wasnít her first attack. She was easily upset. Will didnít
make her have a heart attack. You know that. I cherish the time that
had with her. I no longer blame Will for that, either should you.
It was inevitable. Your mother would want Will to be back.
TINA: Heís got to make up for that first!
BURTON: For breaking Momís heart or yours.
BURTON: Heís your brother and heís my son.
TINA: You keep saying that. He hasnít acted like heís your son.
BURTON: That doesnít change the fact that he is.
TINA: OK. Prove it. Prove that heís your son.
BURTON: Tina, donít you think that youíre being ridiculous?
TINA: No, I mean it. Apart from a blood test, what evidence is there that he is your son?
DOCTOR: Mr. Jefferson?
DOCTOR: The situation is rather serious, but heís going to pull through. He needs some rest right now, but in the morning you should be able to visit. Oh, he had this clutched in his hand at the scene of the accident. (He hands BURTON a blood streaked envelope that has been opened) He was holding it against his chest. He wouldnít let go of it until we told him he was going to be all right. Your name was on the return address so I thought Iíd give it to you. (DOCTOR exits)
BURTON: Thank you. (He briefly looks at it. His eyes well up.)
TINA: What is it?
BURTON: Itís proof that Will is my son. (gives letter to daughter, she opens it) This is a letter that I sent him a month ago, asking him to come back home. I told him that I forgave him for the grief that heís caused our family. I told him that if he was willing to let me help him with his problems and submit to my authority, that he was welcome to come back home. He had this letter clutched in his hands at the accident. (getting a little choked up) He thought he was going to die and his last hope was in the words of his father which he held close to his heart. Yes, heís my son.
TINA: Oh Dad. Iím so sorry. (hugs BURTON)
BURTON: Itís alright. You have your brother back now as well.
TINA: (a little teary eyed as well) He is more than my brother now.
BURTON: Oh, whatís that.
TINA: Heís my fatherís Will
© Eric Stapleton, All rights reserved
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