darth vader

Steven Bond was awarded Second Place in Drama in the 2017 Prison Writing Contest. Bond is currently incarcerated at the Northpoint Training Center in Kentucky.

Every year, hundreds of inmates from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. On November 28, PEN America will celebrate the winners of this year’s contest with a live reading, Breakout: Voices from the Inside. Participants including 2016 PEN/Bellwether Award-winner Lisa Ko and 2010 National Book Award-winner Terrance Hayes will read from the prize-winning manuscripts.

Characters

I. FRANNY 41*
SIMON 21^

II. JUNIOR 23^
VIR-A Female voice, preferably recorded
LUCAS 64*

III. DAD 29*
SIMON 9

*FRANNY, LUCAS, and DAD should be played by the same person.
^SIMON remains on stage at the conclusion of I, changing clothes and hairstyle to become JUNIOR for II.

SETTING
A living room with a door US and another DS; décor changes for each scene to reflect the characters and time.

NOTES
Scene II: The hat should be ostentatious, preferably a Star Wars helmet of some kind.
Scene III: The LEGO set should include a LEGO Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

I.
(FRANNY and SIMON are standing CS, face-to-face, taking turns downing a slug of beer.)

FRANNY
I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear that!

SIMON
It is every bit its equal! And then some! Ya hear me?

FRANNY
—There’s no comparison!

SIMON
Wrath. Of. Kahn. All day, son!

FRANNY
What’d you say to me, you little punk?

SIMON
—Wrath. Of. Khan. All day, son! Best damn sci-fi movie! Ever!

FRANNY
(Beat.) Why you gotta say such hurtful things to me like that.
(Someone gives in and laughs. A ringtone is heard.)
You might wanna slow down on the liquid courage there.

SIMON
Didn’t I get it right this time?
(He walks to where his phone earbud is.)
That is what they sound like in there, isn’t it?
(Now in an overly masculine voice)
“All day, son!”
(He puts the ear-bud in, presses on the screen of his watch, and talks)
Hey. Okay-okay. Why’re you so mad—I . . . I know what’s happening—I’ll . . . I’ll be done in a minute—bye . . . hung up.
(He takes the earbud out. Holds up his bottle.)
Recharge! Franny?

FRANNY
(Uncomfortable at hearing his name)
Yeah.
(SIMON exits the doorway US.)
Shifting gears pretty fast, aren’t you?

SIMON
(Off-stage)
What?
(Enters with two beers)
Hey—you hear about them new kitchen modules? 3D printing, automated assembly cooking. Straight out of—

FRANNY
Don’t wanna hear it.

SIMON
Did Han get his meatloaf . . .
(makes a sound effect)
instantaneously on the Millennium Falcon? I think not. Shoulda flown the Enterprise instead.

FRANNY
You alright?

SIMON
Huh? Oh. You know, just ‘cause ‘bots do all the landscaping now, don’t mean I got a cake job. (Presenting his bottle.)
I needs my power-down time. Check it—caught one of my mowers driving itself downtown the other—

FRANNY
Hey. I know this . . . ? It’s a lot, Simon.

SIMON
A little deep, Franny?

FRANNY
—Ya don’t have to call me—

SIMON
—It’s your name.

FRANNY
At the bar. After my shift. With my buddies.

SIMON
You just. Showed up. Today.

FRANNY
I know.

SIMON
Don’t remember there being a pause button—

FRANNY
I get it!

SIMON
There’s the guy! Took more beer than usual. Anytime, you can bring me up to speed.

FRANNY
What?
(Beat.)
You know where I’ve been.

SIMON
—I ain’t nine anymore, Franny. You been out for two years. Mom’s gone through every cuss word explaining why you’re hiding—

FRANNY
Not hiding.

SIMON
—and some in languages . . . not sure they’re from this planet. Anytime you’re ready.

FRANNY
—I’ve been . . . ! No. Not gonna sugarcoat it. I was scared. There you have it. Plain and simple. I didn’t know. If you even wanted to see me. Anymore. Just, like . . .

SIMON
Like you’re fishtailing down an ice road and the steering wheel just popped off.

FRANNY
Really. Really? I was thinking more like . . . the undiscovered country.

SIMON
You mean . . . like when Spock reunited with his older brother?

FRANNY
—You’re not gonna let it go, are you?

SIMON
My bad—didn’t know I was drinking with Plato today.

FRANNY
That saying has been around a lot longer than some crappy movie sequel. Might wanna pick up a book every once—

SIMON
What’s that word—a “book”? What kind of battery does it take?

FRANNY
My name’s not Lazarus—they still got those, Squirt!
(A beat at the mention of the “S” word.)
You got that little wrinkle going on, up there, again.

SIMON
Did you know the state charges paren—I mean people for all public school supplies now? Everything! Lunches. Transportation? On top of the taxes! Ladies and Gentlemen, the future is here, and it ain’t the Jetsons—it’s the Flintstones!

FRANNY
. . . You going back to school?
(A ringtone interrupts FRANNY. SIMON lets it ring for a second before putting the earbud in and pressing on the screen.)

SIMON
(Looking at his wristwatch)
No—I haven’t . . . yelling’s not gonna . . .
(He exits the door US. From OS)
I know what we planned for!
(Enters with an overly-stuffed duffel bag.)
I’m . . . I’m packing the bag right now—you wanna see it? Okay, then, I’m . . . hung up again.
(Takes the earbud out.)

FRANNY
(Beat.)
You going . . . ? That wasn’t your—

SIMON
—it wasn’t Mom.

FRANNY
Whew. Sounded like it.

SIMON
You two talking again?

FRANNY
Thought you knew.

SIMON
What’s in the bag?

FRANNY
Simon—

SIMON
—Just . . . tell me.

FRANNY
(Milks the moment.)
A 12-year-old promise.
(He pulls a DVD out.)
You know what it is.

SIMON
(He looks, and smiles)
Have to say, I disagree with you. The Ewoks were kinda cool.

FRANNY
(A beat, as he is genuinely disappointed)
You saw this one now, too?

SIMON
Check it—I definitely know what you meant now. I told Mom—

FRANNY
And you watched it with her?

SIMON
Yeah—I told her I gotta watch it one day with my own—

FRANNY
—Again?!

SIMON
How old were you when it came out?

FRANNY
Are you ever gonna think of me as your “dad” again?

SIMON
—C’mon—I . . . it’s just . . . calling you . . . hey—we can still watch that—let me dust off my dual DVD slash I’m-an-out-of-touch-old-man viewing machine.
(FRANNY downs the rest of his beer.)
Where’d you get that thing—they stopped making those five years ago!

FRANNY
Refill.
(Begins to exit doorway US.)

SIMON
Hey—let me crank it up, though—just takes a minute!

FRANNY
Yuck it up.

SIMON
—Because it is old!

FRANNY
Whatever.

SIMON
C’mon, Franny—

FRANNY
—Not helping!
(He exits.)

SIMON
Ay—I gotta admit—did not see that coming. He was his father!
(Sings “dum-dum-du-u-um!”)
Man, what was that like, when that movie first came out?

FRANNY
(Enters with a beer.)
I am not that old!

SIMON
How old were you when the third one came out?

FRANNY
There’re nine movies now, Simon, three of which are “prequels,” a word that means the same as “sucks,” and three . . . redeemable ones—

SIMON
Jesus—I forgot who I was talking to—Return of the Jedi?

FRANNY
Okay—I’m that old—you know what, whippersnapper? I can’t wait to be there when you have this very same conversation with your kid—

SIMON
Who said I’m having a kid? Mom? Knew it.

FRANNY
Nobody . . . did—Are you . . . having . . . ?

SIMON
You know what I liked about that movie? More than the first one? It wasn’t the big reveal—but it was—big! It was the fact that Luke wasn’t mad that Vader was his father. He was mad, because he knew, he might turn out just like him. Like dark overlord, like son, right?
(A ringtone. SIMON lets it ring till it stops.)

FRANNY
Are you having a baby, Simon? Today? Now?!

SIMON
Simon Junior.

FRANNY
Simon! Son!
(He hugs SIMON, who does not reciprocate immediately.)
That’s! . . . I’m going to be a grandpa! What’re we—wait—that was your girl on the—why are we still—oh—whoa—you can’t drive—we can’t drive—we’re ripped—

SIMON
We’re not going anywhere.

FRANNY
Yeah—we should call an Autocab, but man, I don’t trust ‘em—they get lost so easily—EM interference screws them up—you got money for an Uber? I can lend you—

SIMON
(Picks up his bag.)
I’m heading out.

FRANNY
You got your own car? It’s a selfie, right—you don’t need to be—

SIMON
You can do whatever. It’s been . . . weird, Franny.

FRANNY
Hold on—what’re you . . . ?
(Beat.)
You don’t want me to come.

SIMON
I’m not going to the hospital.

FRANNY
What?

SIMON
—Look! (Laughs) Of all the days . . . you gotta show up today!

FRANNY
I thought . . . we were working through—

SIMON
—We’ve been having problems. Me and her. Ain’t nothing new. Mom’s fixed more of “us” than I have! I was packing this bag right before you got here. For the overnight stay. But I just kept putting more and more of my own clothes in it, and then, something I haven’t laid eyes on in over a decade. Somewhere in this thick head, I must’ve known you were coming.

FRANNY
You’re bailing? On your . . . ?

SIMON
Why so surprised? Like father, like son, right Franny? Remember that day, our last weekend together? I knew it wasn’t Mom. On the phone. The Force ain’t a real thing, you know. You didn’t fog that little nine-year-old brain. I knew what your “job” was. All the way back home, I sat in Mom’s van, listening to that damn muffler rattling, praying you’d just . . . but it didn’t work, did it? Vader never came home! (He takes a small box out of his duffel bag.) Mom gave it to me. After she got my toy from your place. After you were gone. (He tosses the box to FRANNY.)

FRANNY
(He catches it.)
What it . . . ?
(He opens the box and contemplates the contents for a beat.)
Wondered if you’d smashed it. She took a picture, of this, did you know that? Sent it to me.

SIMON
Yeah.

FRANNY
She wrote on it . . .
(chuckles)
the same thing you just—

SIMON
I wrote that. Me. She didn’t wanna send it—I cussed up a storm. She busted my ass. But she mailed it. Vader didn’t come home, did he?

FRANNY
That’s . . . why you never visited. That picture? I put it on my locker door. Those dumb-asses laughed at me, for 10 years. I didn’t give a shit. They had naked chicks, contorted in every way imaginable, plastered all over their lockers, and I had that picture. It worked better than you imagined, Simon.

SIMON
Not so much the last two years, though, right?
(Beat.)
Do you have any idea how hard—

FRANNY
—I do.

SIMON
While you were gone? Mom?

FRANNY
I know.

SIMON
—The crying? You know how many times I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and opened the door to some dude taking a crap?

FRANNY
I know.

SIMON
—And the one who wanted me to watch?

FRANNY
I—

SIMON
No, you don’t! Look at me—I’m a drunken son of a . . . ! Bastard. Maybe, if that kid don’t know me, the cycle’s broken.

FRANNY
You do this, Simon—you think you’re gambling with his future now? You walk away, you’re just playing a game by a different name, and odds are he’s the one that’s gonna lose.

SIMON
You mean like me.
(Beat. Finally, FRANNY is about to speak when SIMON continues.)
Save it. The son don’t tearfully reunite with his Dad in this sequel. Matter of fact . . .
(With his bag over his shoulder, opens the door DS.)

FRANNY
Simon—please—

SIMON
—No, no, just—

FRANNY
Son, you’re not driving . . . ?

SIMON
Please leave, Franny.
(FRANNY stands there.)
Get the hell out!

FRANNY
(FRANNY takes the box, walks to the door, and stops.)
Your Mom never told you, did she? Why I got arrested that day.

SIMON
That’s a 12-year-old question I don’t need answered anymore.

FRANNY
Before you do anything stupid, Squirt, call her. Ask her.
(SIMON stands at the doorway watching FRANNY exit. A ringtone, he looks at his wristwatch, closes the door, puts the ear-bud in, presses on the screen.)

SIMON
Hey—I’m sorry, I’m . . .
(Beat.)
Oh my god. Is that . . . ? He has . . .
(he struggles to maintain composure)
he has your eyes. Our little Junior. What? I’m . . . I’m—yeah—I’m alright—I . . . just got lost in the past for a minute—no . . . I’ll explain later. Yeah. I love you, too. . . . I’m on my way. I’ll be there as fast as I can.

II.

(JUNIOR is piling things CS, drinking a beer, going in and out a door US. Loud music is playing. Just as he returns CS, there’s a chime—the music stops and an automated, yet pleasant, female voice is heard overhead.)

VIR-A
(Her recorded voice appears to be skipping.)
Your-your chicken casserole is ready.

JUNIOR
(Stops moving; to the ceiling)
I didn’t ask you to make anything.

VIR-A
Your chicken casserole is the door-is ready.

JUNIOR
Look. I’ve been cool with you, haven’t I? I only tried ripping your circuits out, like, twice this month—I swear—why you gotta be so mean to me? Is it because you’re a cheap piece of—

VIR-A
Your-your chicken—at the door-there-casserole-at the door.

JUNIOR
My chicken casserole must be at the door. (Heads to the door DS.)

VIR-A
Chicken at the door—

JUNIOR
—Yeah I got it—the chicken, VirA!

(The music resumes as he opens the door. LUCAS is standing there, holding a small box.) That my casserole?

LUCAS
(Can’t hear him)
What?

JUNIOR
Hold on—VirA! Turn the music down!

VIR-A
(A chime. The music stops.)
I detect no methane. The odor is unidentifiable.
(The music resumes.)

JUNIOR
(To LUCAS)
Women. Am I right?

LUCAS
(Letting himself in)
You got more problems than women.

JUNIOR
—Ho—where you think you—
(LUCAS indicates he can’t hear.)
VirA—turn off—

LUCAS
(Like he’s done this before)
—VirA, Set Rep m4alpha, protocol 346niner.
(A chime. The music stops.)

VIR-A
Authorization.

LUCAS
FRM ID 3906726, Sanjay’s Everything AI, store code 468.

VIR-A
Scanning.
(Maybe a spotlight shines on LUCAS.)
Confirmed. Standby.

JUNIOR
Okay. Thank you?

VIR-A
Main cognition module compromised.

LUCAS
Run diagnostic.

JUNIOR
I’m not paying for this, just so we’re clear. Freebee.

VIR-A
Code 38z7

LUCAS
(To JUNIOR)
MCM is definitely corrupted. Virtual assistants in these cheap places are always glitchy.

JUNIOR
—I know. Who’re you again?

LUCAS
(Making himself at home)
You know, the next time you hack a FedEx delivery drone to steal for you—

JUNIOR
—Aw man—

LUCAS
—make sure you disable the onboard camera first.

JUNIOR
I ain’t doing this again.

LUCAS
Was that the Macarena you were doing? That come back again?

JUNIOR
This is police harassment.

LUCAS
How’d you get it in the toy store—that’s what I want to know. The video feed cut out—

JUNIOR
—Yeah I . . . Scan it—I already—

LUCAS
(Pointing to a hat on a table)
That the hat I saw you wear, on the news? Way to be incognito. Very plain. At least you hid your face.

JUNIOR
(Closes the door. Hastily putting the hat away)
I already got ‘rogated by the cops, foger.

LUCAS
—got what’s that?

JUNIOR
—Interrogated, Colonel Sanders! Uh-oh. You gonna arrest me now? For hurtin’ your feelings, officer? I know my rights—you don’t got no warrant.

LUCAS
Chill, Junior.
(Proud of his use of slang. Gesturing to himself)
Do I look like a cop?

JUNIOR
All you fogers dress like crap.

LUCAS
Thank you. AI handyman. Fix VirAs for a living.

JUNIOR
Why’d you call me that?

LUCAS
What? A moron?

JUNIOR
Quick. For your age. You fogers call my chaps ‘Junior’ all the time, but . . . for some reason . . . you look familiar.

LUCAS
Yeah, I’m close friends with your foger—uh—your old fogey—your grandmother!—geez—can we speak English?

JUNIOR
Grammy Yoda.

LUCAS
So funny you call her that.

JUNIOR
Calls me Simon. Ma does too. Hey VirA—what do you call me?

VIR-A
Unable to assist with your prostate.

JUNIOR
(To LUCAS)
That’s my Indian name. I come from the lost tribe of proctologists.

LUCAS
Your father? You remind me of him. Didn’t he call you “Junior”?

JUNIOR
Before I was born, yeah. You knew him?

LUCAS
He’d probably say otherwise.

JUNIOR
Wow. Cue the sappy soundtrack. Who are you, foger?

LUCAS
You can cal
l me Lucas, Squirt.

JUNIOR
Ew—look, don’t be up in here calling me your weird old man terms of bodily functions, Lucas. So. Um. Yeah. You want something to drink, or something? A beer?

LUCAS
Twenty-three years sober.

JUNIOR
Long as I been alive.

LUCAS
I could do some water. It was a long trip here.

JUNIOR
Yeah, ‘trip’ is right—isn’t that what you fogers used to say? Think I’ll bring it back.
(Heading to the doorway US. To the ceiling)
VirA—drop me a beer and a glass of water.
(The music plays.)
No—beer, VirA, you . . . forget it.
(He exits. OS)
How’d you hear about the drone?

LUCAS
Can’t hear you!
(JUNIOR enters with a bottle of beer and a glass of water.)
Can you—never mind—VirA—

JUNIOR
—VirA, Jedi Zeta6 Simon bypass.
(A chime. Music stops.)
(To LUCAS)
Got my own tricks.
(To VirA)
For the ninth time, you hunk of crap you, please engage repair protocol delta8 theta.

VIR-A
Authorization.

JUNIOR
(Hands the glass to LUCAS)
Love classic rock.

LUCAS
Fast learner. I got this FRM ID 3906726—VirA, engage repair protocol delta8 theta.

VIR-A
Standby. Approximate repair time seven minutes. Commencing.

JUNIOR
Yeah, Ma says tech stuff runs in the family. On my other biological’s side. So, how’d you know about the drone, I mean besides from the news? Only a couple of my chaps know I . . . well, I mean . . .

LUCAS
You this honest with the cops, too, Junior?

JUNIOR
Simon. Why are you here, Lucas?

LUCAS
(Looking around)
You moving out?

JUNIOR
You do know Grammy Yoda. Questions within questions.

LUCAS
Speaking of, you cracked GNNs top 10 funniest drone hacks last week.

JUNIOR
Slick, right? Whoever, uh, decided to break the law, like that, is what I’m . . .

LUCAS
Nothing like a collector’s edition Darth Vader doll mugging the camera, flying over the city. Good choice.

JUNIOR
First off, they’re called action figures—second—why do I feel you’re buttering my bagel for your next—

LUCAS
—You’re leaving town, aren’t you?

JUNIOR
And there it is, CSI Am Old. What’d you—pull a Snowden on my Facehouse?
(LUCAS is clueless.)
Did you hack my Facebook VR beach house, foger?

LUCAS
Remember something called basic analog informational exchange?

JUNIOR
Is it contagious?

LUCAS
Otherwise known as talking face-to-face in the English language?

JUNIOR
Why would I do that when I can pop my VR shade on and be cooly with my chaps on my deck overlooking the dunes on Tatooine? Speaking of . . . pause it.
(He puts a pair of shades on, and puts in an earbud)
Hey! Greetings, my chaps—how’s it prossing? Who brought the beauties? Smart play—they love that twin sunset. Scan it—I forgot—I got the new Wookie translator—let me turn it on.
(He gestures in the air like he’s pressing buttons, then proceeds to growl like a Wookie)
Raar! Raar? Raar!

LUCAS
Hey!

JUNIOR
(Pulls his glasses off)
What?!
(LUCAS gestures to the pile on the floor. JUNIOR puts his glasses back on. Again, growling like a wookie, but conveying with hand gestures that he’s saying ‘bye,’ and that he’s talking to a crazy person.)
Raar! Raar Raar. Raar.
(Laughs)
Raar!
(He takes the glasses off, and takes the earbud out.)
Look. Lucas.
(Walking to the door DS and opens it)
I appreciate you working on VirA and all, but . . .
(his eyes linger on the box.)
You gots to go.

LUCAS
Sorry. Can’t. Told my Autocab to recharge. It’s one of them old ‘27 models—got the brain of a chihuahua—might stop at a couple of fire hydrants before swinging back around, you know?

JUNIOR
(Sighs in resignation, then closes the door.)
Then sit—quietly—and enjoy your water. Let me pack in peace.
(Again, noticing the box.)

LUCAS
(Watching JUNIOR)
I dig your taste in sci-fi. The original space opera—the quintessential Freudian villain. Very old school.

JUNIOR
(Resumes packing)
That makes me so happy that you “dig it.”

LUCAS
It’s still the best.

JUNIOR
Which one?

LUCAS
Jesus—really?

JUNIOR
There’s twelve movies, foger. Three TV shows—

LUCAS
—Why’s this sound familiar?

JUNIOR
—two VR series, a musical—

LUCAS
—and a partridge in a crappy pear tree. The original. The first—the only one that matters.

JUNIOR
Oh—because sequels can’t possibly be better than the original.

LUCAS
So you’re saying a TV show . . .
(in a movie trailer voice)
In a world, where underwater crime runs rampant, and only one amphibian can bring justice with a little dose of high jinx: Detective Bam Bam Binks—son of Jar Jar . . . as good as the original?

JUNIOR
Sounds like you’ve been watching.

LUCAS
I . . . keep tabs, Junior.

JUNIOR
(Stops packing.)
Jessie Jesus—it’s Simon—Why. Are. You here? You even know my Grammy? You drop in here, rewinding my personal business, bringing up strangers dead before I could say “da-da”—

LUCAS
I know his favorite movie. Despite a broken promise.
(Beat.)
Maybe because of it. I know he wanted to watch it—

JUNIOR
—to watch it with me, yeah, I know the story. Ma told me. Should’ve known his limits if it was so important—

LUCAS
It wasn’t his fault.

JUNIOR
What wasn’t? What’s Grammy Yoda been telling you? Look. Straight answer time. What’s she to you?

LUCAS
She’s my Wendy.

JUNIOR
Who? What? A . . . who?

LUCAS
Ask her.

JUNIOR
Oooh—all right!—definitely not drunk enough for this. Look! Just! Answer! Clearly! One question. Today. Please. Since it looks like—maybe—it’s why you came here in the first place. What’s in the box?

LUCAS
Why’re you leaving your family?

JUNIOR
Jessie Jesus.

LUCAS
Where’d you learn to curse?

JUNIOR
Questions in questions!

LUCAS
Wasn’t your grandmother; that’s for sure. Jesus always had two middle names, with her.

JUNIOR
I—I’m married with a six-year-old kid, all right! Chaps my age are swimming in beer and beauties, and I’m pulling triple shifts! You know how expensive elementary school is now?!
(Beat.)
So I screwed with a drone. They’re disappearing all the time! It’s FedEx—I think they can survive one. . . . It was for my kid, okay? For her birthday. It’s her favorite character, from all the movies, all the TV shows—even who I named her after! It’s kinda cooly, actually. I think so.

LUCAS
Because it drives her mother crazy?
(JUNIOR is surprised that LUCAS understands.)
Just a wild guess. It’s a felony now. Hacking drones.

JUNIOR
I know that! Now!

LUCAS
(Beat.)
They don’t know, do they, that you’re leaving?

JUNIOR
My boss don’t know about the cops. I get charged—arrested? Game over. Can’t let my kid see me like that. Why not make a preemie move?
(LUCAS is clueless.)
Upload! Jet! Use my walking cane to skedaddle!
(Downs the rest of his beer.)
Recharge!
(Heads to the doorway US.)

LUCAS
(Chuckles) Life can be funny sometimes.

JUNIOR
I don’t care!
(Exits. OS)
I’ll tell you what—I’ll make a deal with you.
(Enters with another beer)
Scan it. I’ll give you to the count of this soon-to-be empty bottle to tell me what’s in that box before I, maybe, just toss you out the door and find out for myself. You know, because you’ve been such a wonderful guest. Go.

LUCAS
(Picks up the box.)
Why’re the bad guys—
(JUNIOR laughs out loud.)
—so often the most attractive, colorful character in a story, even if he’s dog-crap ugly?

JUNIOR
(Getting comfortable)
Oh this is going to be good—I can already . . . okay. Okay.
(Thinks for a moment.)
I don’t know—who wants black and white? Who wants ordinary? Bad guys make the story worth watching.

LUCAS
Because they want what they want. Right now. However they can get it.

JUNIOR
Yeah? And? Who hasn’t felt that way at least once in their boring life? It’s human nature. It’s me.

LUCAS
Exactly. Hades grabbing Persephone. Loki killing Baldur. Vader building the Death Star. Damn the consequences.

JUNIOR
Okay. ‘Cept that last one, don’t know what you said there. Always did like Vader’s fashion sense, though. A psychotic shade of black.

LUCAS
Those other two—classic mythology. Had time to read in prison.

JUNIOR
What d’you know ab—

LUCAS
—What you don’t. They’re filled with Vaders—rulers of cinder-block closets, hunched over little clear plastic TVs like they’re crystal balls, predicting the bad guy in this week’s action movie’s actually going to get away this time. He doesn’t. He dies. Usually in some gruesome, spectacular way. Right? Forgotten, in the happy ending blah blah blah the boring, less colorful guy gets the blah. Then they flip the channel. And do it again. Why?

JUNIOR
Because they’re idiots?

LUCAS
Nobody likes the boring guy in the story. Not until he gets the girl, or guy . . . or maybe his family back.

JUNIOR
I’m cramping up!

LUCAS
I—What matters, is worth the effort, the time. Worth the sacrifice, Junior—

JUNIOR
(Sighs)
—Simon—

LUCAS
—and it ain’t always attractive. Had to lose my own family before I figured that out.

JUNIOR
(Downs the beer.)
Cue the sappy soundtrack. End of the movie—credits rolling.
(Gets up)
Time to leave the theater.

LUCAS
Yeah. But you’re staying this time.

JUNIOR
You fogers get brave when the Reaper’s around the corner, don’t ya?

VIR-A
Repair protocol complete. MCM restored to 87 percent operability.

LUCAS
Right on time. Here’s what’s going to happen. Give me the doll.

JUNIOR
Scan it—I don’t—

LUCAS
—Not again! Do you hear me—not this time! You are going to give me that doll or so help me . . . !

JUNIOR
Okay! Okay! Don’t stroke out!
(He begins to exit the door US.)
It’s an action figure.
(He exits and returns with a Darth Vader doll. LUCAS snatches it.)

LUCAS
VirA—Online Express Judicial Center, please.
(The stage lighting might reflect a foreboding vibe.)

VIR-A
(In a stern, masculine voice)
Connected. Scanning in 10 seconds. 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . .

JUNIOR
(Heading for the door DS)
What’re you—I knew it—VirA—

VIR-A
. . . 6 . . . 5 . . .
(As JUNIOR watches, LUCAS grabs the hat and puts it on. He holds up the doll and faces the ceiling.)
. . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1. Commencing scan.
(Brief spotlight on LUCAS from above.)
Complete. Francis Raphael Miller, SSN 486362829, you are required to report to the nearest police precinct immediately for questioning in the burglary of Terry’s Cool Toys and Collectibles and the destruction of a Federal Express aerial delivery drone on March 9, 2051.
I repeat. Report immediately.

LUCAS
Don’t have to be a dick about it.

VIR-A
You have one hour. Failure to comply will result in a warrant for your arrest. Have a nice day.
(If the lighting changed, it returns to normal.)

LUCAS
(To JUNIOR)
Fast food justice. Wonder if it comes with a free cavity search on the side.

JUNIOR
Why did you . . . ? What just . . . ? Who’s ‘Lucas’?

LUCAS
Not that quick with the movie references, are you?

JUNIOR
Miller. That’s Grammy Yoda’s name.
(A beat, as he realizes who LUCAS really is.)
Where’ve you . . . ?

LUCAS
Can you maybe finish that sentence before I leave?

JUNIOR
She told me. What happened. The day I was born. It wasn’t your fault.

LUCAS
Simon, you don’t know the whole story.

JUNIOR
Don’t I? What’s there to know? He drank—he drove.

LUCAS
Do not blame your father! Do not!
(Beat.)
Damnit—I could’ve stopped . . .!
(A chime is heard. He looks at his wristwatch.)
My Autocab’s back.
(He begins to exit.)

JUNIOR
Wait—you’re not really going through with this? I just found . . . we . . . why are you—

LUCAS
—It’s worth the sacrifice.
(Tosses the box to JUNIOR.)
My escape was too late. Don’t make the same mistake.
(He opens the door DS, and stops.)
Boring guys can be as colorful as they damn well please. Remember that, Squirt.
(He exits.)

JUNIOR
(He opens the box, and contemplates the contents for a beat.)
VirA?

VIR-A
(In the original, feminine, voice)
Yes, Simon?

JUNIOR
(Lets a sigh of relief at hearing her voice.)
Call Grammy Yoda, VirA.

VIR-A
Calling.
(A dial tone for a beat.)
Voicemail. Leave a message, Simon?

JUNIOR
Yeah, VirA.
(Beat.)
Well? Hello? VirA?

VIR-A
Leave a message, Simon?

JUNIOR
Just don’t make me a casserole.

VIR-A
Leave a—

JUNIOR
—VirA! Yes!

VIR-A
You may begin when ready.

JUNIOR
Hey, it’s me. I’m bringing back your suitcase. Did you happen to . . . share with a certain someone, what I told you, about that thing that I did? Think we need to have another talk about keeping secrets . . . but thanks. Hey—uh, tell Leia Daddy’s coming to pick her up. He’s got a very special present for her. Remember that story you told me about . . . my dad, when he was a kid, what he made for Grandpa? You’re never gonna believe this . . .

VIR-A
You may begin when ready.

JUNIOR
Damnit—I’m getting the wire cutters!

III.

DAD (O.S.)
You done poopin’ yet?

SIMON (O.S.)
Dad!

DAD (O.S.)
Hurry up!
(A toilet flush, then a beat. SIMON, aged nine, stomps CS from US door, wiping hands on his t-shirt.)

SIMON
I’m done, dammit!

DAD
(DAD appears in the doorway US, holding a beer and something behind his back.)
Hey! Watch that mouth!
(Walks to join SIMON, CS)
Your mother’s mouth, I swear. You ready?
(He produces a new box of LEGOs.)
Ta-da!
(SIMON is not impressed.)
You see what it’s from? My favorite movie!
(SIMON remains unimpressed.)
We can do it together?

SIMON
No.

DAD
All the pieces are there.

SIMON
I’m too old for LEGOs.

DAD
Whatever. LEGOs all day, son!
(Cellphone rings with the Darth Vader theme song/“Imperial March.”)
Go ahead and open it. I gotta get this.
(Answers the phone)
Yeah? Wait a . . . I got another hour. . . . Why is he your son every time it’s my weekend? . . . Yeah, it’s a real job—I’m—easy! Don’t cuss at me! I’m paying the support on time, right? Don’t hear you complainin’ ‘bout that. . . . I’m a private contractor now—I go . . . I go to where the . . . Yes—it’s a real job! . . . Fine, fine—whatever! I’m . . . she hung up. Didn’t see that coming.

SIMON
Mom’s mad at you again.

DAD
She’s been mad at me ever since I wanted to name you “Darth.”

SIMON
(Simultaneously)
wanted to name you “Darth.”

DAD
Yeah, real funny. Why’d you say you’re too old for LEGOs? Still got that dragon I built?

SIMON
Why’s that song on your phone?

DAD
It’s your mom’s theme song. So?

SIMON
So what?

DAD
(Play-wrestling with SIMON)
You a big man now?

SIMON
I’m almost 10!

DAD
Guess you ready to get a job, Mr. “Almost 10”—

SIMON
—Maybe!

DAD
—‘cause maybe you can start paying for your own toys!

SIMON
And pay for you to come . . . back.
(They stop mid-wrestle, DAD about to say something, when his cell phone rings again; this time with a generic ringtone. He answers it.)

DAD
I told you to wait for me to call you. . . . Yes.
(Looking at SIMON)
It’s fine, al—I gotta back-up plan . . . no—yeah—quit bitchin’—I told you—look, this can wait.
(He hangs up. Takes a long drink of beer.)

SIMON
You cussed.
(DAD is lost in his thoughts.)
Was that Mom again? That’s a different ringer.

DAD
(Grabs the box)
Let’s tear into this!
(Opens the box, dumps out the LEGOs.)

SIMON
I thought you moved away so you wouldn’t fight anymore.

DAD
(Holds up LEGO Luke)
“I’m going to be a Jedi. Like my father before me.” “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some converters!” Whiny little dude.
(SIMON is in his own world.)
Squirt, Mommy’s coming to get you early, so—

SIMON
—but I just got here!

DAD
Tell it to your mother. She’s the ball bust.
(Starts putting LEGOs together)
C’mon.

SIMON
I learned a new word today. Can spell it, too.

DAD
Give it to me.

SIMON
(Thinks hard)
S . . . Y-N-D-R-O-M..E. Syndrome.

DAD
Aye, Squirt! You take after your old man!

SIMON
Mom says you suffer from . . .
(remembering)
Peter Pan Syndrome. She told me to ask you what it means.

DAD
It means your mother’s got too much damn time on her hands.

SIMON
You did it again.
(The generic ringtone. DAD is obviously reluctant to get it.)
Do you want me to—

DAD
—I got it. Put that piece together with that one.
(Hands SIMON a LEGO creation, and answers the phone)
You just called—yeah I know that time it is—what did I—! What did I say?
(Looks at SIMON)
I been thinking, maybe we should call it . . . I don’t give a shit—

SIMON
—Dad!—

DAD
—a crap what he said. He’s not coming! Look—late . . . later!
(Hangs up, Starts putting LEGOs together.)

SIMON
(Beat.)
I don’t like him, either.

DAD
Who?

SIMON
Mom’s friend. That’s who you guys are talking about, right?

DAD
Does Mommy’s friend hang around a lot?

SIMON
Are you still taking me to the zoo tomorrow?

DAD
Listen, Simon, I been meaning to tell you. . . . What? What’s with the face?

SIMON
Whenever you guys say “Listen, Simon,” something bad’s about to happen.

DAD
It’s just, my new job.

SIMON
Can I come to work with you again?

DAD
I don’t know. I travel a lot now.

SIMON
Can I?

DAD
Different places.

SIMON
Can I?

DAD
(Gestures with his hand, Jedi-style)
I travel a lot now. Different places. Different clients. You will listen.

SIMON
C-L-Y . . .A . . .

DAD
Guess it didn’t work.

SIMON
C-L-I . . . E . . . N-T-S. Clients. What’s that?

DAD
People who give your dad money for doing a job.

SIMON
Enough to stay home?

DAD
It doesn’t work that way.

SIMON
I didn’t take the dragon apart—I promise. It’s just like you built it.

DAD
Squirt. Mommy and I . . . we’re not . . . Simon—

SIMON
—Why damn not?!

DAD
(DAD’s phone rings—the generic tone. He waits till the last second to answer it.)
Why are you calling—you’re not even coming! No, I’m not puss—I’m not chickening out.

SIMON
Dad.

DAD
(To SIMON)
Hold on.
(on the phone)
This was my idea! It’s open till six today—it’s payday . . . enough to be the last one.

SIMON
You getting paid today, Dad? Can we go to the zoo?

DAD
Either one of you calls me again . . . ?
(He hangs up, finishes his beer. He puts some LEGOs together. SIMON stops.)

SIMON
When’s Mom getting here?

DAD
What? Why?

SIMON
You’re drinking again.

DAD
Jesus—what does that have to . . . ? Your mother tell you to say that?

SIMON
(Beat.)
Why do grown-ups pretend one thing, when they really want to be somewhere else?

DAD
(He picks up LEGO Darth Vader)
You see this guy here? He had a tough thing going with his son, too.

SIMON
(Starts building his own thing)
I don’t care.

DAD
Yeah. He kinda said the same thing. He had plans. To make the coolest, baddest clubhouse in the galaxy.

SIMON
I don’t care.

DAD
It was big as hell, let me . . .
(SIMON gives him the look.)
big as heck.

SIMON
What about his son?

DAD
He ended up . . . hating his dad. At least at first. See, his dad had to do some things, he thought at the time, was the right way, to build that clubhouse. Then he blew up a couple of planets. Not cool. He became the bad guy.

SIMON
I thought he only blew up one planet.

DAD
What?

SIMON
(Holding up LEGO Luke)
That’s why Luke Skywalker blew up the clubhouse, right?

DAD
What?

SIMON
I’ve seen the movie.

DAD
She let you . . . ?

SIMON
I watched it with her, yeah.

DAD
Knowing it’s my favorite.

SIMON
Guess so.

DAD
I swear . . .

SIMON
Why are you always mad at us?

DAD
I’m not mad at you! I’m not mad at you.

SIMON
(Continues building, then picks up LEGO Darth Vader)
What happened in the other movie? To his son? It is good?

DAD
It’s all right. Not as good as the first one—got these stupid, furry little things called Ewoks—but the ending, it’ll . . .
(gesturing like his head explodes.)

SIMON
Can we?

DAD
Watch it? You and me. I promise. Even the new ones—the prequels.

SIMON
What’s a pre . . . preacle?

DAD
Prequel: P-R-E-Q-U-E-L. It’s another word for milking every drop they can get outta it.

SIMON
(Still holding LEGO Darth Vader)
I know he’s a bad guy, but if I was his son, I’d bust him outta jail.

DAD
What d’ya mean, Squirt? He, uh, doesn’t get caught.

SIMON
(Holding LEGO Luke in his other hand)
Family sticks together. That’s what the knight told his son before they fought the dragon, remember?

DAD
(Taking the LEGO Darth Vader from SIMON, and now in Vader’s voice, with heavy breathing)
Simon, I am your father.

SIMON
(With LEGO Luke)
Then stop blowing up planets, Dad.
(Beat.)
Wouldn’t it be funny if Luke really was his son?
(Phone rings. The “Imperial March” again. As DAD answers the phone, he takes the LEGO Darth Vader and puts it in what he was building.)

DAD
(On the phone)
Alright.
(Hangs up.)
Time’s up, Squirt.

SIMON
Can I leave my new set here, for when I come back?

DAD
Sure.
(He walks SIMON to the DS door and opens it.)

SIMON
(Handing DAD what he’s been building.)
Here.

DAD
What’s this?

SIMON
It’s an escape pod. In case the bad guy wants to come back home.
(They hug.)
Bye, Dad.
(Exits.)
(DAD waves, then closes the door. He sits down, opens SIMON’s LEGO creation, and takes out the LEGO Darth Vader. Looking at it, he picks up his phone and dials a number.)

DAD
Yeah. I’d like to speak to somebody about blowing up a couple of planets? Don’t hang up—Sorry! Sorry. Look, I did a couple of robberies—what? Sure—what—
(looks at the phone)
ever.
(Holding up LEGO Darth Vader, now in his voice, with heavy breathing)
Put me on hold? How dare she! I am Lord Vader!
(He sings the “Imperial March”)
Dum, dum, da-dum, dum, da, dumdumdumdumdum . . .

END SCENE