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Mark Fullerton as Ben, Shane Regan as Neil. Photo by John Ulman.

Wrestling Match

produced at the 14/48 festival, 7/29/11. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Fenced In." My random actor draw: write a play for four men and zero women.

Lights up on SAM and WILLIAM, in patio chairs on an outdoor patio, listening to the end of a ballgame on a transistor radio and drinking beers. A low fence separates them from another outdoor patio next door.

WILLIAM: That was just insane. Third time in his career he's thrown a no hitter. We shoulda been at the park today. Shuts the radio off.

SAM: At least it's finally nice out...

WILLIAM: I'll get you another beer.

William exits. Shortly after he leaves, we hear angry, loud shouting from off stage the other direction. NEIL finally charges out onto the neighboring patio, closely followed by BEN, who is holding a rocks glass of bourbon.

BEN: I would appreciate the courtesy of you not storming out on me when we're talking.

NEIL: We're not “talking,” we're fighting, you drunk moron! Turns to see Ben. You actually fixed yourself a fucking drink on your way out here? You seriously did that? I have been shouting at you for half a fucking hour about you being an alcoholic and you MADE A FUCKING DRINK?

BEN: I'm not an alcoholic.

NEIL: Then give me your fucking drink.

BEN: I'm not giving you my drink.

NEIL: Because you're an alcoholic.

BEN: Because quality bourbon is wasted on you.

NEIL: You're also an ASSHOLE!

William enters with a beer for Sam and stops when he notices Ben and Neil.

BEN: I'm not fighting in front of the neighbors.

NEIL: This isn't fighting, you drunk moron! This is our entire relationship collapsing!

BEN: I'm not doing that in front of the neighbors either. He exits.

NEIL finally notices Sam and William: Sorry about that.

WILLIAM: Girl troubles?

NEIL: I'm gonna kill that bitch.

WILLIAM: Want a beer?

NEIL: I want whiskey, but under the circumstances, I think that would evaporate my moral high ground.

WILLIAM pulls out a flask & hands it to him: Not at all. Neil drains it. Maybe I'll just refill this, yeah? He exits.

Neil and Sam regard each other awkwardly.

SAM: Sorry about your...

NEIL: My what – my shitty relationship? My piss poor life? My uncontrollable itching? Spit it out.

SAM: Sorry.

NEIL sees Sam's reaction, feels guilty: Don't be sorry. You didn't fall in love with a drunk. At least I assume you didn't.

SAM: Nope.

NEIL: Lucky you. Keep up your winning streak, junior. He exits, leaving Sam uncomfortably alone for a few beats.

William reenters with his flask – sees that Neil is gone, sits back down.

WILLIAM: Forgot to mention – I live next door to the drama club.

SAM: Yeah, I picked up on that.

WILLIAM: Nice guys usually. We barbecue sometimes.

SAM: Did you see this... whatever it is... did you see it coming?

WILLIAM: I wasn't looking too closely, to tell you the truth.

A loud smash of glass off stage, then Ben storms on without his rocks glass.

BEN: William, I hate to trouble you – but someone seems to have inadvertently smashed my last bottle of Basil Hayden. I don't suppose I could trouble you for some bourbon?

WILLIAM: Sure that's a good idea, Ben?

Another loud smash of glass off stage.

BEN: Quite.

Ben smiles, takes the flask from William, begins to drink heavily from it. Neil enters.

NEIL: You have got to be kidding me. Do you want the rubbing alcohol too? Do you want the cough syrup?

BEN roaring: What I want is some peace and quiet to enjoy an adult beverage without you chasing me around like Mary Poppins!

NEIL: Don't you dare bring Mary Poppins into this.

Ben hands the flask back to William.

BEN: Thank you, sir. Then he charges past Neil on his way off stage.

NEIL: Do you have to enable him?

WILLIAM: He seems perfectly enabled already. When did all this start?

NEIL: Who cares. Is that flask empty?

WILLIAM: I can refill it.

SAM: Actually maybe we should move inside, William, catch the after game on TV.

WILLIAM: Nah, the neighbors might need moral support. Besides, this is more fun than replays.

SAM: You think your neighbors fighting is fun?

WILLIAM: Hilariously – I do. I will, however, duck inside to fill up the flask for you, Neil, since apparently your bourbon is all over your floor now. He exits.

Sam eyes Neil carefully before deciding to try to talk to him.

SAM: You guys been together long?

NEIL: Who cares.

SAM: Was he always an alcoholic?

NEIL: No, he started off as a perfectly pleasant social drinker. And then he became a nightly drinker. And now he's drinking before work. But he's so god damn charming that he gets away with it. Pause. Can I ask you a question?

SAM: Sure.

NEIL: Who the fuck are you?

SAM: Friend of William's.

NEIL: I think I figured that part out, genius. I mean, I haven't seen you here before.

SAM: Met him out a couple nights ago. Sort of... planted the idea he should invite me over. For beers.

NEIL a wicked smile developing: Oh is that a fact. Didn't think... Suddenly grim: Some unwanted advice. Get everything out in the open immediately. Don't fuck around for years like I did, waiting to say what's on your mind until suddenly you don't even recognize the fat asshole you wake up next to every morning and it's too late for anything you say to mean fuck all.

Ben appears just in time to hear that. Sam sees him – Neil turns, stares Ben down coldly.

BEN: Maybe you'd rather wake up somewhere else.

NEIL: No, Ben. No, I wouldn't.

BEN long pause: I'm not fat.

NEIL sharp: Not yet, but you're getting there. You smell like a distillery, and you haven't gotten hard without Viagra in years. You're starting to die inside. Maybe you're already dead and I can't tell the difference. He turns to Sam. See how productive honesty is? He pushes past Ben and exits.

BEN: Sorry about the racket.

SAM: No worries.

BEN: You two gentlemen were having a leisurely afternoon until we burst onto the scene I'm sure.

SAM: It's finally nice out.

BEN: Could I... trouble you...

Sam follows Ben's eyes toward his beer, which he has hardly touched. He hands it to Ben, who slams most of it, then hands it back.

BEN: Good day, sir. He exits.

Sam sits uncomfortably alone for a few beats until finally William reappears with an actual bottle of scotch. William seems mildly disappointed that the neighbors are gone.

WILLIAM: Who won the wrestling match?

SAM: Think it was a draw.

WILLIAM sits, hands the bottle to Sam: Dug out the good stuff. Macallan. 18-year-old Highland scotch.

Sam takes a long pull from the bottle, then hands it back to William.

WILLIAM notices Sam starting at him: What?

They eye each other carefully as William takes a big pull from the bottle.

WILLIAM: Starting to get hammered. How about you? Offers Sam the bottle.

SAM: Absolutely. Takes a big pull, screws up some courage from somewhere. Why'd you ask me over here, William?

WILLIAM shrugs: Listen to the ball game.

SAM: That's it?

WILLIAM: Sure, that's it. Why?

SAM: Just wondering.

Fade to black.

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