Bronx River Road: 4th segment

INT. FATHER APT – morning

TS

Weeks pass. Dad and Mama Clar work day and night shift sometimes, so I never know when I’m gonna see them. Sometimes when I wake up in the mornings, daddy’s on his way to bed, and other times he’s leaving to pick up Mama Clar from work. One morning when I get up, I see him fumbling with the door. He’s using some tools from his toolbox.

Steve

Morning, dad.

father

Morning. Letter from your mother.

Steve’s father hands him an envelope.

steve

Thanks dad. Hey dad, how can I get in contact with Geneva?

father

What kind of stupid question you asking me? Don’t you know how to contact your mother?

steve

No dad, I mean my sister.

father

Which sister is that?

steve

Your daughter Geneva. Remember last time we were talking? You told me you had a daughter, Geneva. You named her after my mom?

father

I never had any such conversation with you.

STEVE

What are you talking about dad?

FATHER

The only Geneva I know is your mother.
TS

It’s true. Mama Clarissa IS right: my father IS crazy. I mean, one minute he’s laughing and friendly with me, and the next minute it’s like I’m the enemy. I can’t figure this guy out, but I’ll take this over the churchyard any day.

steve

I’m going for my morning walk dad.

TS

Dad opens the door for me.

father

I’ll be here.

ts

I go outside and walk up to White Plains Road. This is getting boring now. When will I start going to school? I open the envelope from my mom.

mom

Dearest son, I hope that when these few lines reach you, they may find you in the best of health. It was a pleasure to receive your letter the other day. The Lord has answered my prayer for journeying mercies. I asked Him to watch over you and cover you in his blood while you were on the plane.

ts

(trails off, scans 4 pages)

Her handwriting is beautiful, but Jesus! This is four double-sided pages! I skip to the end.

MOM

And remember to stay away from drugs, and give your heart to the Lord.

TS

Give my heart to the lord. Yeah, I’ve been hearing that for 15 years now. “Sincerely, Mom.”

(shakes head, beat)

Guess I’ll just head back upstairs and read the encyclopedia some more. I stick my key in the apartment door.

steve

(shakes key)

Dad, dad! Dad it’s me, my key’s not working.

ts

I go back downstairs to check my father’s parking spot. That’s his car heading up the road. Maybe he just went on an errand. It’s freezing out here. I’ll just go back upstairs and wait by the apartment door until he comes back.

Steve lays down and falls asleep. Beat.

CLARISSA

Steve, what yu doin out here sleeping in the hallway?

Steve sits up.

TS

Man, how long was I sleeping?

STEVE

Uh, I couldn’t get in Mama Clar.

CLARISSA

How you mean you couldn’t get in? Did you lock yourself out?

STEVE

I have my key but it’s not working.

clarissa

What you mean your key not working. Junior how come Steve’s key not working?

My father opens the door with his key.

FATHER

Because I changed the locks, that’s why.

CLARISSA

Bancroft Anthony DeCorcia Bryan, why are you doing this to this poor child?

FATHER

Because I don’t want him here. I called the army today for them to take him, but they said he has to be 18. So the only place for him to go is right back to Jamaica.

TS

Jamaica? He wants to send me back? This is crazy. My father and Clarissa walk in. I try to follow, but my dad stops me at the door.

father

Yu tink I’m joking? Is joke yu tink I’m joking? I don’t want you in mi house.

clarissa

Junior, he just got here five weeks ago. After almost ten years to get him here. Are you coocoo in the head? Going back to Jamaica to do what? To sit on his ass and smoke ganja? I got this kid in this country and over my dead body he’s not going back.

(beat)

Steve, never mind you hear sweetheart? Yu father need to get him head checked. Come on inside.

Steve

You don’t trust me, dad? Is that why you changed the locks?

FATHER

This is why I don’t want you here. The trouble with you is you have too much talk.

STEVE

I think the trouble with YOU dad, is you’re an irrational person.

Steve’s father attempts to slap him. Steve blocks the slap.

father

This is my apartment, I pay the rent. I can do whatever I want. I can put a lock on the refrigerator if I want to. You know what Clarissa, this boy definitely has to go. Tomorrow we’re taking him straight to the airport.

ts

My dad hisses his teeth and storms off into his bedroom. He puts a new lock on his bedroom door and then leaves the apartment. He slams the door behind him.

Steve

Mama Clar, why does my dad hate me so much?

clarissa

Steve? Your father is mentally ill.

(beat)

Let me tell you something, he didn’t even want you here in the first place.

Steve

Really?

clarissa

Why do you think it took so long to get you here? Because he kept dragging his feet. I got you here. I figured If I’m going to sponsor my own children, I would not be able to live with myself knowing you’re down in Jamaica suffering and I’m married to your father.

ts

And all this time I thought it was my dad who got me here?

clarissa

Don’t worry mi son, there is nooooooo way in my lifetime you are going back to any Jamaica. Except if you want to go back.

Steve

No way! I’d jump out the window before I go back to my mother and that churchyard.

clarissa

But Steve, I have an idea. I’m going to tell your father to let you go and visit your mother’s family in Colorado before he sends you back. And when you go to Colorado…

(whisper)

…now this is between you and me, when you go to Colorado, don’t come back.

Steve

Are you serious?

clarissa

I’m as serious as diarreah! That man is the devil himself. He doesn’t have a decent bone in him. The things your he has done. Your father took advantage of my daughter when she was only 17 years old. For 2 years, he was having sex with her in this very apartment. I didn’t find out until she was pregnant and had to have an abortion. You have no idea the tyrant that man is. He’s ruined my credit trying to live big with all of these expensive cars and stereo equipment, this fancy lifestyle that he can’t afford. I’ve wasted 13 years of my life with this man.

Steve

Mama Clar, why are you still with him? Why don’t you leave?

clarissa

(reflect)

Au boy, easier said than done. Stevie, you don’t know the half of it, you hear?

(beat)

Believe you me, you’ll be much better off with your mother’s family in Colorado. Get some sleep and be ready to leave here tomorrow.

TS

So much for my fantasies of my dad teaching me how to drive, long trips together. The only long drive I’m having is on a Greyhound bus to Denver. My Aunt Ann, my mom’s sister meets me at the bus station when I get there.

int. aunt ann’s apartment – colorado

TS

I stay with Auntie Ann in Colorado. I start high school and tell everyone to call me Stefhen, not Steve anymore. It’s time to turn a new page. After several weeks, I call my dad to tell him what’s been going on.

Stefhen puts a phone to his ear.

Stefhen

Dad it’s me. I have some good news.

father

Who is this?

Stefhen

It’s me, dad. Guess what, I got a girlfriend. She’s 12 years older than me.

FATHER

How did you get this number?

Stefhen

Mama Clarissa gave it to me. I also dropped out of high school, but I got a really good job at the newspaper paying me 10 bucks an hour plus overtime.

FATHER

Why you calling to tell me this? Don’t call my house again. You will never amount to anything.

Father hangs up the phone. Stefhen does too.

TS

Half of me believes him, that I’ll never amount to anything. But I’ll show him. Fuck him. Over the years, Mama Clar regularly calls with their new numbers. She begs me not to tell him that she gave them to me. I start calling him just to piss him off. I’d hear his voice for a moment when he picks up. But when he finds out it’s me, he hangs up and changes the number immediately.

(beat)

I spend the rest of my teenage years pissed off at my dad. I hate him, but I find myself trying to be like him. At 18, I buy McIntosh stereo components I can’t afford. I wear plaid boxer shorts and white T-shirts around the house. I try smoking so I can smoke Kool brand cigarettes.

(smokes, coughs a fit)

I try drinking, so I can drink Beck’s beer.

(drinks, cringes)

Tastes like piss! When I turn 19, I even buy a Lincoln Town Car, with the diamond in the back and the sunroof top, just like the one dad got after he torched his Mercedes to collect insurance money before I left New York. But mine gets repossessed when I can’t make the payments.

(beat)

Every time I look in the mirror I see my father. I’m disgusted and pleased at the same time. The part of me that hates my dad, makes me want to be better than him. So I do what my dad never did. At 22, I start going to community college and psychotherapy.

int. grandmother’s house – jamaica

TS

When I’m 25, I visit Jamaica during Spring break from school. This is my fourth time back. Every time I go, I revel in my newfound status. Everyone calls me “foreigner” and treats me like I’ve made it. Whenever I go back, I stay with my grandmother. She lives in a nicer neighbourhood. I hate staying in the ghetto with my mom.

grandma

Boy, you look so much like your father. When last you heard from that wretch?

Stefhen

I haven’t talked to him in years, grandma. He keeps changing his number so I can’t get in touch with him. I don’t know what his problem is. I’ve stopped trying.

grandma

Dat no good, good for nothing cruff! I would wring his neck if he was standing in front of me. Dat dirty rapist.

Stefhen

Rapist? Did his wife tell you what he did to her daughter before I lived with them in New York?

GRANDMA

No, what did he do?

Stefhen

I was just wondering because you called him a rapist.

grandma

Bancroft Bryan IS a rapist. If he wasn’t a rapist, you wouldn’t be here. Did he rape Clarissa’s daughter too?

ts

Wait, what? My dad raped my mom? I’m the product of a rape? Man… what a fucking asshole. He raped my mom and then he treats me like shit?

Stefhen

Yeh, he raped Clarissa’s daughter when she was 17. And got her pregnant.

grandma

Lord have mercy! Poor child. What a heartless and worthless scum of a human being your father is. So how old is your brother or sister?

Stefhen

She had an abortion.

grandma

That ole dirty dog! You should know who your father really is. The first time I left Jamaica to do domestic work in Nassau, dat bastard held down your mother. Right after I left, he tore off Gene’s clothes and took advantage of her. That poor girl was never the same after that.

TS

I want to beat the shit out of my dad. I want to introduce the back of his head to the blunt side of a shovel, then finish him off with a pick axe.

grandma

Then then, hear him nuh when I came back from Nassau. Hear him nuh. “Sista D, a did a terrible ‘ting while you were gone. I did a terrible ting.”

ts

Man, I wish I could see this fucker right now. I’d stomp on his head until his brain comes through his ears and nose. If I had known that while I was living with him, I would’ve killed him.

(beat)

I’ve gotta talk to my mom about this.

int. mom’s two room dwelling

TS

I walk in through mom’s tenement yard.

MOM

Is that my foreign son?

TS

That’s what she likes to call me: her foreign son.

stefhen

(smiles)

Yes, in the flesh.

MOM

Thought you’d be on the North Coast like all the other tourists.

TS

I try to hug her and she actually hugs me back. What’s this? She’s actually softening up. We go inside and sit on her trunk bed.

mom

You want some brown stew chicken?

STEFHEN

(laugh)

Nothing’s changed. That’s ok, mom. I just had dinner at grandma’s.

MOM

I know you never liked my cooking.

STeFHEN

Yes, that is true.

STEFHEN

So Mummy, I was talking to grandma just now, and she told me something I had to ask you about. Grandma just told me that… my father… raped you… and that’s how… Is that true, or is grandma just senile?

Silence.

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One Response to Bronx River Road: 4th segment

  1. dondopa says:

    Oh this is a play?

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