A Felon and His Subconscious
A Shop Owner
The setting is a dingy living room apartment. Stage left is a television with a sofa in front of it. A few tables and chairs and a radio against the wall upstage.
(The play opens with Felon, 28, and Felon’s Subconscious arrives home, Mother, 67, heavy-set, and Brother, 22, drug addict, are watching the “Jerry Springer Show.” Felon closes the door and sets his bag on the floor then looks at Mother and Brother. His Subconscious, basically a caricature—who represents the withered and afflicted psyche of prisoners and speaks internal thoughts of Felon, steps in front of Felon and acts animated as he addresses Felon.)
Subconscious: Look at all these people at your homecoming party. Standing room only.
(A loud cheer goes up from Mother and Brother)
They’re cheering for you and everything. All you need now— (As Felon walks toward Mother and Brother, Subconscious quickly jumps back and appears annoyed at being ignored. Subconscious follows Felon.)
Felon: Mom . . . Bro.
(Felon anticipates a joyous response to his presence but receives none. His Subconscious gets close to Felon like a boot camp sergeant.)
Subconscious: Open your eyes and see the writing on the wall.
Felon: Not wanted.
Felon: (Ignores Subconscious and walks up behind Mother) Mom.
(He puts hand on her shoulder. Startled, Mother jolts to strike, then sees Felon, who quickly jumps back. She smiles at him as if an afterthought.)
Mother: Come on, you’re about to miss the best part. Jerry’s about to bring this guy’s girlfriend, but she’s a guy and he don’t know it.
Brother: (Focused on show) Yes! Hey Bro. You got to see this—they’re back! (Pumps fist to join TV audience) Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!
(Mother also pumps fist as she joins the chant. Subconscious acts like a cheerleader by doing splits and cartwheels while shouting.)
Subconscious: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! (Felon joins Mother and Brother. As he sits on the sofa. He waits for them to acknowledge him, but they’re too engaged with the show.)
Mother: (Snaps without taking eyes off TV) Hush!
Subconscious: (Barking at Felon) They don’t care about you. Jerry’s their god right now. (Goes to other side of Felon)
Might as well kick back and wait for the lotto drawing and hope that ticket you bought with your last two dollars hits the big one.
Brother: (To TV) Take him, fool. (As the show goes to commercial, Mother and Brother are disappointed. Mother turns to Felon.)
Mother: Have you had something to eat?
Felon: Grabbed a burger when I got out.
Subconscious: (Gloats) Two burgers to be exact. Fries and a jumbo drink.
Mother: Good. We don’t have much right now. Money’s tight, you know.
Brother: What she means is that Club Pen is over. Time for you to get a job and support the family, Bro.
Subconscious: (Barks like a sergeant at Felon) Club Pen? Did that fool say Club Pen? Mopping floors and scrubbing toilets sixty hours a week without pay. Hustling for a shot of coffee or a stamp to write home. You ought to.
(Subconscious becomes annoyed by Felon’s passiveness and stomps around the room searching for a way to make Felon respond. Brother returns to watching TV. Uncle, 61, enters. He sees Felon and is not too happy to see him.)
Uncle: Back among the living, huh? (Felon stands and hugs Uncle, who stiffens his body; Subconscious observes the cold treatment) They didn’t treat you too bad, I see. How you feeling?
Uncle: So, what do you want to do with the fifty dollars you got on release?
Subconscious: (Appalled, puts hands on hip) Another gold digger. Tell him where to stick the fifty—
Felon: Got forty cents left.
Uncle: (Steps back) What? (Mother and Brother turn and watch Felon and Uncle as if they are on the “Jerry Springer Show”) How’d you waste fifty dollars so fast?
Subconscious: Tell him you blew it on booze and hookers.
Felon: Had to buy a bus ticket because you didn’t show.
Subconscious: That’s it. Unload on the fool. You ought to body slain his fat ass for what he put you through.
Uncle: Yeah, well . . . I thought it was tomorrow.
Subconscious: (Stands beside Felon) He’s lying. Tomorrow’s Saturday. Don’t know one get out—
Felon: It’s okay. I’m home now. I need a job, though.
Uncle: (Rubs chin) Job? Well, let me think. What can you do?
Felon: Anything. I’m a quick learner.
Subconscious: The jury’s still out on that.
Felon: Don’t you have something at one of your dry cleaners?
Uncle: Business is slow. Money’s tight, you know. I just can’t see an opening anytime soon.
Subconscious: Five dry cleaners and no job opening. And you’re his favorite nephew? I smell a lying crook.
Felon: What about one of your friends?
Uncle: To be honest with you . . .
Subconscious: (Mimes a baseball player swinging) Here comes the number one.
Uncle: And I say this with a heavy heart.
Subconscious: (Mimes baseball player swinging) Lie number two.
Uncle: I love you like a son.
Subconscious: (Mimes umpire calling an animated third strike) And you’re out! Next batter.
Uncle: No one want to hire an ex-con . . .
Subconscious: Including you.
Felon: But I wouldn’t have gone to prison…
Subconscious: (Rubs hands together) Say it. Say it. Let ‘em hang boy. (Felon takes a deep breath then exhales; Subconscious is animated) Tell, ‘em, tell ‘em—he’s the reason you went to prison in the first place. You took the rap for him! He owes you.
Felon: (To Mother) I’m going to take a shower.
Subconscious: (Jumping) No! No! No! Tell ‘em why you went to prison. Tell ‘em your brother and uncle were busted dealing drugs, but you took the rap to keep them from going to prison. Tell ‘em!
(Ex-Wife, 26, enters and scrutinizes Felon head to toe.)
Ex: Looks like they feed pretty good in prison. You look better coming out than going in.
Felon: Just seems that way because you haven’t seen me in seven years.
Subconscious: You’ve lost forty pounds in seven years. You’re lucky to have enough meat for your skin to hang on to. (Points to Ex’s belly) And look at her, she looks like she’s carrying twins.
Brother: Maybe I ought go to Club Pen. Lift a few weights, gain a few pounds and come back looking good.
Mother: (Slaps Brother on the back of the head) Hush. (To Ex) Don’t give my children any bad ideas.
Subconscious: (To Mother) You need to slap them fools.
Felon: (To Ex) You haven’t changed much. (Ex vainly makes model—like poses.)
Subconscious: (Points to stomach) ‘cept for that fifty-pound watermelon. (Shields eyes) Somebody stop her before I heave.
Mother: (To Ex) What d’you want? I ain’t got no money or food in the house.
Ex: Just came by to see him.
Uncle: Don’t have a penny to his name.
Subconscious: Time for you to donate my boy.
Ex: (Disappointed) Well, I got to run some errands. So see you later. (She turns to leave.)
Subconscious: Goodbye and good riddance. (Felon grabs Ex’s hand and moves to the kitchen area. He notices everyone watching them. He turns on the radio to drown their conversation.)
Subconscious: (Pleas to everyone) For god’s sake, somebody stop him.
Mother: (Strains ear to eavesdrop on Felon) Boy, don’t you start no kissing stuff in this house.
Brother: (Joins Uncle) If they start necking, we won’t have to rent any porno.
(Uncle and Brother start snickering while ribbing each other.)
Ex: (Pulls hand away) I ain’t got much time.
Felon: How about you and me?
Ex: You’re broke.
Felon: That’s not going to last forever.
Subconscious: Keep wagging your tail around this bitch, you’ll be broke in places nobody’s going to help fix.
Radio (V.O): And your lotto numbers for today are 44-47-26-67-2.
Subconscious: 44-47-26-67-2? 44-47-26-67-2. (Excitement grows) 44-47-26-67-2. (Break dances) 44-47-26-67-2. (Shouts hysterically at Felon) 44-47-26-67-2. You won! You won!
Ex: Look, I can barely make ends meet. I can’t take care of you.
Felon: You won’t have to. I’ll have a job before you know it.
Subconscious: (Jumps around like a madman) Hello? You won the lotto. 44-47-26-67-2. Check your—
(A Shop Owner, 42, burly, barges into the apartment. He is breathless and struggles to speak.)
Mother: Told you I don’t have the money this week.
(Still trying to catch his breath, Shop Owner points to Felon.)
Brother: (To Felon) Quick Bro, run.
(Felon reacts without thinking and runs for the door. Subconscious follows.)
Subconscious: (Prances like a fairy) Oh God, I don’t want to go back to prison. I’m innocent. (Composes self then jogs beside Felon and screams like a sergeant) Get them feet moving soldier, or our butts will be in the big house again.
(As Felon attempts to run, Shop Owner grabs his arm.)
Subconscious: Oh God, no! (Yells at Felon) Break free soldier. I’m giving you a direct order. Now, break free. Kick him in the family tree.
(Felon tries but fails. Shop Owner bear hugs him.)
Mother: (Gets up pointing at Shop Owner) Get off my baby you . . . you heathen.
(As Shop Owner catches his breath, Ex jumps on his back and starts pounding on him.)
Ex: Let him go you overweight turd. (Pulls Shop Owner’s hair) Let go!
Subconscious: (Cheers Ex on) Pull harder. His hold is loosening. Harder girl. Fight for you Sugar Daddy. Yeah, come on.
(As Brother and Mother approach, Shop Owner tries to shake Ex without letting go of Felon.)
Subconscious: Hold on buddy. Gang’s coming.
(Brother kicks Shop Owner in the shin. When Shop Owner bends because of the pain, Ex flies off and lands on Mother. Both women topple to the floor. Felon pries loose and sprints for the door. Subconscious follows.)
Subconscious: (continued) Run soldier run. Don’t you look back. Get that tail moving. (Felon runs around stage to avoid capture.)
Shop Owner: (Shouts at Felon) Stop running! Just came to say you hit the lotto. (Felon continues to run.)
Subconscious: Winning the lotto. (To Felon) You won the lotto. Stop running. You’re rich. (He starts dancing.)
Shop Owner: Hey, I said you won the lotto. Stop running.
(Felon finally hears Shop Owner and stops. Subconscious sighs in relief.)
Felon: (To Shop Owner) Are you sure?
Subconscious: Is he sure? Why else would he bear hug you? Well, he might be trying to get his freak on. You being a pretty boy and all.
Shop Owner: Yes, I’m sure. (Pulls out paper) I even wrote it down. (He shows it to Felon as Felon enjoys the moment, Mother shoves Ex off and quickly smothers Felon with a hug and rain of kisses.)
Mother: My baby. All my troubles are over. I’m rich. I’m rich.
(Ex tries to join them, but Mother pushes her away by thrusting her hip. Brother wraps his arms around Mother and Felon.)
Brother: I’m rich. I’m rich.
Subconscious: (To Brother) No you’re not. You’re not getting—
Uncle: (Claps to get everyone’s attention) Everyone calm down. Let’s find out how much we won. (To Shop Owner) How many numbers match?
Shop Owner: Let me see. (Acts like he’s thinking, everyone’s anticipation grows.)
Uncle: (Annoyed by the stalling) For god’s sake man, how many?
Shop Owner: (Whispers as if letting out a well-guarded secret.) All of them.
Subconscious: (Dancing like a mad man) All of them. (He laughs hysterically. Mother faints. Brother and Uncle barely react in time to catch her. Ex starts fanning Mother. Felon has tears in his eyes.)
Uncle: (To Shop Owner) What’s the pay off?
Shop Owner: Don’t know. Probably in the millions.
(Mother, who was slowly recovering, faints again when she hears the news.)
Brother: (To Ex) Get some water.
(Ex nods and hurries to the kitchen.)
Uncle: (Wraps arm around Felon then whispers) You and I should take a trip around the world. Give us a chance to bond. Catch up on old times. Besides, I’m your favorite uncle, right?
Subconscious: (Tries to pry Uncle away) Let go! Get your claws off.
Felon: What about your dry cleaners?
Uncle: I’ll hire a manager.
Subconscious: Thought you said business was slow?
Uncle: I’ve been working too hard. It’s time for someone to take the load off.
Subconscious: (Holds up his fist as if to box) Come on. Put ‘em up. I’ll take that load off. (Shadow boxes around Uncle.)
Felon: Hire me as your manager.
Uncle: Sure, why not. It’s the least I can do for my favorite nephew.
(As Ex makes her way back to Mother, she trips and the glass of water spills on Mother, who jolts awake.)
Ex: (Sheepishly) Sorry.
Mother: (Gets up with anger) Your lazy behind is going to feel sorry in a minute.
Shop Owner: (Intervenes) No time to fight. You have to get ready for a big party.
(This calms Mother. Not wanting to be left out, Ex quickly makes her way to Felon and drags him to the corner of the room. Subconscious follows.)
Subconscious: (To Felon) Beware, bitch at work.
Ex: (Passionately kisses Felon) How about you and me going back to my place and make love like wild animals.
(Subconscious tries to suffocate himself.)
Felon: I don’t know. There—
Ex: (Grinds herself against Felon) You want me, don’t you? You haven’t had any in so long—
Felon: How about a rain check for later tonight?
Ex: (Acts disappointed) Okay. Buy me something sexy to wear for you. (Rubs her neck) Wouldn’t mind having a little sparkle around my neck either.
Subconscious: Gold digging wench. (Extends hands out as if to choke her) I wouldn’t mind having my hands around that chicken neck.
Brother: (Whisks Felon away) Listen Bro, I’ll get you all the gals you can handle. All we have to do is make an investment in this white powder, and they’ll come flocking to us. The dough will be rolling in. I know some—
Subconscious: (Does karate chops) Get away from him. (To Felon) He’s a one-way ticket back to the joint.
Mother: (Pries Felon away) You hungry? I can fry some chicken or—
Felon: Thought we didn’t have any food?
Mother: (Hugs Felon) You didn’t think I’d let my baby starve, did you? I’ve missed you.
Subconscious: Then why didn’t you write? Visit? Or send any money?
Felon: I’ve missed you too.
Shop Owner: (Shouts) Everybody . . . (Points to TV) The news is about to show the numbers again.
(Everyone gathers near the TV. As the numbers are posted, Felon checks his ticket.)
TV Reporter (V.0.) 44-47-26-76-2. If you have the winning ticket, contact . . .
Felon: (Wads ticket and throws it across the room) I didn’t win.
(Everyone quickly is disappointed. Shop Owner continues to watch TV in disbelief.)
Mother: (To Felon) People like you are meant to work and live the hard life.
Uncle: Well nephew, maybe next time. Keep playing the lotto. We’ll win somebody.
Felon: Can I still count on that manager’s job?
(Uncle ignores Felon and goes to Brother.)
Subconscious: That means your S.O.L soldier.
Uncle: (To Brother) How about you and me go out?
Brother: Sure. Let me get something first. (He winks at Uncle who nods.)
Felon: (To Ex) How about you and me cash that rain check?
Ex: (Snobbishly) Got a headache. See you later.
(She turns to leave as Shop Owner turns up the TV volume)
TV Reporter (V.0.): Due to this station’s error, we incorrectly posted one of the lotto numbers. (Brother returns and joins everyone else to watch broadcast.)
TV Reporter: The correct numbers are 44-47-26-67-2 . . .
(Felon runs for the wadded ticket at the corner of the room. Subconscious sees everyone else going for the ticket too.)
Subconscious: (Gives desperate shout to Felon) GO! GO! GO! Grab that ticket.
(As Felon runs, Brother shoves Uncle to the side. Mother grabs Ex’s hand and swings her away.)
Subconscious: (Cheering) GO! GO! GO! (Felon grabs the ticket, and runs
away. Subconscious follows.)
Subconscious: See you later losers.