by: L.B. Hamilton

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Copyright © 2001 by L.B. Hamilton

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that A Midnight Clear is subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional and amateur stage performing, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

Inquiries concerning all rights should be addressed to the author at LBH@LBHamilton.me

NOTE: "A Midnight Clear" premiered as "Good Friday" in a Poor Playwrights' Theatre Production at the Copioh Coffee House Theatre in April 1998, under the direction of Curtis C., and starring John Lysaght and Jake Bendel; The play was further developed at the 9th Annual New Play Development Workshop, under the direction of Judith Royer, at the August 1998 Meeting of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education in San Antonio, Texas (made possible, in part, through a grant from the Nevada Arts Council); – and through a staged reading, produced by BrazenHeart Productions, and under the direction of Abbe Levin, at the Pulse Theatre on 42nd Street, in New York City, September, 1998.


A small examination cubicle in a hospital emergency room
Pre-dawn. X-mas Eve.

[LUKE stands in a hospital gown, back to audience. He moves gingerly, in obvious pain. PAUL enters. He wears an inexpensive, plain black suit, and carries an old gym bag. LUKE becomes aware he's being watched.]

LUKE: Lay one latex finger on this body before that magic elixir of yours kicks in, and you eat mistletoe, Nurse Ratchet. [Pause.] ‘Matter Ratchet? You losing your --

PAUL: Luke?

LUKE: Paul?

PAUL: I . . .they called that you were here and --

LUKE: What?

PAUL: I -- I'm still listed as emergency contact on your records.

LUKE: Oh. I didn't know . . . [He turns to PAUL revealing severe bruising on his face.] They shouldn't have---

PAUL: My G--...what hap--?

LUKE: Yeah, well. . . I guess somebody else will have to hang the decorations at the Annual Christmas "do" - but I don't think I require Divine Intervention. [Silence.] Sorry -- about the mix up..

PAUL: It's no problem. Luke, what --?

LUKE: No, really, I'll have them update the records. Sorry.

PAUL: They said you needed clothes. I brought a running suit. . . It's blue . . .

LUKE: Blue's nice. Blue goes with my eyes.

PAUL: I didn't bring shoes, I figured they wouldn't fit.

LUKE: [Grinning.] No, I guess they wouldn't. [Silence.] So . . . how's the Straight, White Way and all?

PAUL: Don't. [Beat.] What happened, Luke?

LUKE: They didn't tell you? [Pause.] Ah well, ya know how it is in the wild and woolly Westside. Ah'm just moseying along and some cowboys sidle-on-up-longside me and get all bitchy-like, hurtin' my pride – so's I gotta teach 'em a lesson. [LUKE giggles, falters and stumbles. PAUL rushes to help.] Whoa there, Nelly. [Pause.] I think the shot's kicked in. It's some mighty fine ambrosia. Mighty fine. [His giggling threatens to take him over.] You know how ridiculous you look in that get-up?

PAUL: Yeah, well...you'd better sit down, Pahdner.

LUKE: No! No. I'll just . . . I'm fine. Fine! [Supporting himself on the examination table.] Whew. There now. You should try some of this shit, Pauley - loosen you right up.

PAUL: Uh huhn. Look, is there someone I can call for you? -- A... friend . . .?

LUKE: "Friend?" Oh, hey, that's a euphemism. Right?

PAUL: Let's not do this, okay?

LUKE: As in we used to be "friends" but now you've got a new "friend" – oh, and you've got God too - so we're not "friends" anymore? How very P.C. of you, Paul.

PAUL: Should I call your folks?

LUKE: No! [Beat.] Thanks.

PAUL: You can't be alone in your condition.

LUKE: May I please have that running suit now?

PAUL: I could take you to our house, but. . . we've been. . . well --

LUKE: Hell, don't worry about me, Sweetheart. I'm sure you have better -- well look at that, it's Christmas Eve! You'll have sermons to write, Turkeys to give away for the big day and all. Besides - wouldn't want to get Maryjane's tits in an uproar.

PAUL: Maryanne.

LUKE: Whatever.

PAUL: She's not like that.

LUKE: Then she's a better man than I am, "Friend."

PAUL: Damn it, Luke! [LUKE grins at the profanity.] I didn't mean that. Look, no matter what happened between us all, I - we - Maryanne and I -- still care . . .You can come to our place. It'll be fine . . . I was just concerned that . . .well, Maryanne's been a little under the weather. We--

LUKE: Uh huhn. Can you get nurse Ratchet for me? I need to call a cab.

PAUL: I'm going to be a father, Luke. [Silence. LUKE takes the running suit and fumbles with his gown's ties.]

LUKE: A daddy. Well, Well, Merry Christmas. [Pause.] Dreams do come true, huhn? Well, well, well.

PAUL: Maryanne would want us to be there for you, in spite of everything.

LUKE: In spite of everything. [Pause.] Well, well, well.

PAUL: You need help?

LUKE: No. I've always gotten out of my clothes just fine. Thanks.

PAUL: Yeah, well... Okay, I'll just step out there, until --.

LUKE: I've got my boxers on - you're safe. [LUKE takes of the gown he reveals bandaged ribs and more bruises.]

PAUL: Sweet Jesus. [LUKE dresses carefully.]

LUKE: Don't think Sweet Jesus had a thing to do with this, Preacher Paul. At least I hope he didn't.

PAUL: Why would someone..? Luke, what did you get yourself into now?

LUKE: A man's got to do what a man's got to do. Isn't that right, Pauley? Hey, you woulda been proud of old manly me. [LUKE feigns a macho shadow boxing match punctuating his words.] Yeah? Yeah? Yeah? Yeah! [He wobbles, PAUL rushes to him but is waved off. LUKE giggles then stops abruptly.] Get the fuck out of here. Okay? [PAUL hovers a moment, gives up and leaves. Improv: Calling for nurse.] Pauley? [LUKE attempts to finish dressing, then gives up. After a long moment, PAUL returns. LUKE quickly begins dressing again.]

PAUL: Is it true?

LUKE: You need to go home.

PAUL: The nurse said that they think you . . .that you were . . .

LUKE: Maryjane's waiting.

PAUL: Look at me, Luke. . . .

LUKE: Please go now, Pauley. Please?

PAUL: Were you raped?

LUKE: [Pause.] I had a rough date. Okay? [Pause.] Yeah. --- So...don't worry about the running suit, Sweetheart. I'll buy you a nice new clean one. In blue. Of course, brown would go better with your --

PAUL: Luke..How did . .? I'm sorry. I mean . . . why?

LUKE: "Why?" Why?

PAUL: I mean...why you? Where were you, what were you doing?

LUKE: "Doing?" [Laughs.] Oh, doing. Let's see, I was walking down the street naked - holding a sign that said "Spread the joy of the season - fuck a fag."

PAUL: [Pause.] I'm sorry... that wasn't...I'm sorry. [Pause.] Did you-- Do you know him?

LUKE: You know? We decided to forgo the introductions and got right down to business.

PAUL: But how --? I don't understand. You're always so caref-- Did he have a gun? There was only one. Right? … Jesus, Luke. How many --?

LUKE: Coulda been the whole fucking rodeo for all I know. Guess the ambrosia's making me a little fuzzy on the details.

PAUL: Did you recognize any of them?

LUKE: Ah, hell, Pauley, you straight guys all look alike to me.

PAUL: Don't. [Pause.] Okay, okay, look, first we'll need to call the police.

LUKE: Yeah. I know! Why don't invite all the other cops over from the neighboring bergs for a couple of donuts and a few laughs while were at it?

PAUL: I'll go with you. They'll listen to m - -

LUKE: Do you still live on this planet? My "date" had stickers all over a big yellow truck saying "I support the NRA, Philip Morris, and the local fucking police!" Oh, I forgot God. They probably support Him too. Right? [Pause.] Our world's just a bit too small here, Paul.

PAUL: I don't think our world is half as small as you make it.

LUKE: And lucky you made the big switch before you had to experience its finiteness first hand.

PAUL: Just shut up and listen for once ---!

LUKE: You know what, Paul? Take your do-gooding, sanctimonious self, go back to sweet little Maryanne, raise Gilligan, Jr., and leave me in peace.

PAUL: We just . . we've always just wanted to help you . . We just want to –

LUKE: You just want to pray, Preacher Paul. You just want to see me humbled before the lily white alter of your Almighty Lord; begging His Almighty mercy, and - "in spite of everything" - be forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit of Testosterone. Glory, Glory! Upon which event, I will give up my ignorant, evil ways and swagger over to the choir - Hallelujah - grab me a buxom, blond, soprano - hopefully a female and still a virgin - and without further ado - Sing it out now! - fill her with my hitherto errant seed and commence begetting. Then, and only then, Brothers and Sisters... will I be a real man, a manly man, just like the wondrous, miraculous, hypocritical, Phenomenon of the 90's - my former "friend" - Preacher Pauley! Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, Joy to the world, Amen!

PAUL: Fuck you, Luke! [LUKE laughs, then sways. PAUL catches LUKE who strikes out. PAUL helps him gently to the examination table and cuddles him.] Okay . . . it's okay. Shhhh. [Pause.] Why is it that every time I get within ten feet of you, I start swearing?

LUKE: ‘Cause I make you feel like a manly man. I do believe it's my calling. [They share the moment and a laugh then LUKE stops in pain.] They hurt me, Pauley. They wouldn't stop ... they--

PAUL: I know . . . I know. Shhh.

LUKE: I wasn't careful... I shouldn't have shot off my big mou --

PAUL: Shhh. It's not your fault. Something like this isn't your . . . [Pause.] What can I do?

LUKE: Nothing. Nothing, I guess. Just . . . just . . .talk to me. [PAUL nods. For a moment they relax in and old comfortable way.]

PAUL: We'll get through this, okay? Lucas?

LUKE: Mmm?

PAUL: Why the boxers?

LUKE: Because I know you hate boxers?

PAUL: [Laughing.] Did we always fight like this?

LUKE: More or less. – Maybe less.

PAUL: Did I always lose?

LUKE: Never had a chance. [PAUL laughs then kisses LUKE on the head.] Paul --- I --

PAUL: Shh. It'll all turn out okay.

LUKE: Pauley –?

PAUL: You'll see. Life can turn out okay. It's not easy, but . . . I mean, things are turning out for me now. I wasn't sure they ever would, you know...but... [LUKE struggles upright and PAUL moves away.] See, it used to be that I was always yearning for something when we -- I mean after I left the world I'd always known. It was like I was only half-alive -- only half a person - always hungry deep down inside. No matter how good things were between us, there was always that hunger, you know? Like I was always on the outside, looking in, or looking back at my old world, or something. ... I just wanted... So, one day it came to me. Maybe a person can't have everything, but he can have a choice in his life - or about his life - whatever ... and I had to really think about things - about family, and, and about my beliefs -- and about choices and about...Damnit, Luke, I needed the world I knew best ... and I ... I ...

LUKE: ...just couldn't choose love?

PAUL: ...chose a different kind of love.

LUKE: So, now you're happy. Really happy?

PAUL: [Pause.] It's a boy, Lucas. I'm having a son.

LUKE: Yes. Well, I need to dress now. Nurse Rachet will be needing the torture chamber.

PAUL: I was thinking just the other day how I hope I'll be as good a teacher as you. No, I mean it. You taught me a lot. How to ski, how to dance, even how to laugh -- but nothing more profound than how important it is that a man have courage in his convictions. [Silence.] You ever been happy, Lucas? Really happy?

LUKE: [Softly.] Yes. -- But then you made a choice.


PAUL: Yeah. Okay...I'll just...Let me give Maryanne a call.

LUKE: Don't bother! -- I mean ... She needs her rest. I hear that securing the future of Mankind is hard work for the ladies. Just get me a cab.

PAUL: It's Christmas Eve, you need . . .

LUKE: I need to be in my own little bed, Paul. In my own little bed, in my own little room – in that little world I know best. [Pause.] Call a cab. Please? [PAUL struggles, then surrenders and slowly moves to exit.] Paul? [PAUL pauses, but does not turn.] Tell Maryanne...tell her… Merry Christmas…tell her….congratulations for me. [PAUL nods and moves closer to the exit.] Pauley?! . . . Pauley . . . I . . .I'll always . . . [PAUL stops agains.]

PAUL: I know, Lucas. I know. [Pause.] Me too.

[PAUL exits. LUKE watches a moment, then finally smiles.]



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