Penny & Sam by H G Brown

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

CHARACTERS:

SAM is 25, about 5’8” tall, walks with a limp in his
left leg and his left hand is stiffened in a claw. He has muscular
dystrophy

PENNY is 20 and around 5’ tall. She has mild Down Syndrome, and
would today be considered “high functioning”

SETTING:

A residential garage on an alley in Willow Park, Illinois, a suburb of
Chicago. The garage has been modified into a room, with a table and
two chairs, a cot and a wood-burning stove

A small alcove with a curtain contains a toilet and sink. A door is in
the stage right wall. A window is in the back wall

AT RISE:

A few boxes in the room hold SAM’s possessions. Trousers,shirts, a
jacket and winter coat are on the cot. A small table radio sits on one
of the boxes. SAM has lived in this converted room for nearly ten years

Today is moving day, a mild October afternoon in 1956

Enter PENNY, bursting through the door

PENNY (breathless)
Sam! Oh! I was afraid. Afraid you be gone… before I could say goodbye.

SAM
Joe’s comin’ to pick me up in about an hour. Give me a lift in his
pickup truck. Soon as he finishes at the yard.

PENNY
Still gonna work there, at the lumber yard?

SAM
Oh, sure. It’s a good job, why would I leave?

PENNY
Yeah, why would you? I was afraid I wouldn’t be here. In time to say goodbye.

SAM
You’re in time, Penny, but I don’t like goodbyes. I'm not leaving
town. The rooming house isn’t far away.

PENNY
I'll be far away! The place I'm going is in Aurora. That's pretty far.

SAM
Just a train ride, that's all. Maybe an hour on the “Roarin' Elgin.
I'll come out and see you.

PENNY
Oh, will you?

SAM
Sure thing. I think the train's still running. There is talk of
shutting down the line.

PENNY
They better not. I miss you already.

SAM
Not any more. Grandma Gorki dies and the world turns upside down.
That's what happens.

PENNY
Aunt Madge says they're gonna tear down the garage and build a new one.

SAM
That's right. Big enough for two cars, a Hudson and a little Nash
Rambler. Hey, maybe Croft and Jones will get some of the business.
They're gonna need lumber for the new garage. Your Aunt Madge could be putin'
money in my pocket, how about that!

(SAM busies himself sorting clothes.)

PENNY
You been here a long time, Sam.

SAM
Ten years. Maybe it's for the best. Time to move on. You too, huh?

PENNY
Yeah. Me too. I'm gonna to miss you, Sam.

SAM
You're a sweet girl, Penny. Anyone ever tell you that?

PENNY
Oh, sure. Lot's of people. They think I'm real sweet at the A&P.

SAM
(more a statement than a question) You're gonna miss that job, aren't
you.

PENNY
Yeah. It was only a half-day job, 'cause I had to take care of
grandma. But they liked me there, Mr. Goody, Jill and Tony and all the
others. I'm gonna miss them, and the customers. Most of them, anyway.

SAM
They'll miss you, too.

PENNY
You gonna miss me, Sam?

SAM
You know I will. How long we been friends now?

PENNY
Forever.


SAM (laughing)
It only seems that long. Gosh, you were just ten years old when I
moved in. Look at you now! A young woman!

PENNY
You should know! You had plenty of cake and ice cream at my last
birthday. And you took me to the movies.

SAM
Twenty years old and all set to go off on your own.

PENNY
No. Aunt Madge is stickin' me in that asylum out in Aurora. She says I
can work there, like I did for grandma and earn my keep -- doing work
I know how to do.

SAM
Yeah. Yeah, that's what I heard.

PENNY
You did?

SAM
Your Aunt Madge talking over the fence to Mrs. Elkin, next door. Only
I don't think she used the word “asylum.”

PENNY
That's what it is. I heard her whisper it to my cousins. “Don't
worry girls, she's not staying with us. She going to an
asylum.” That's where they stick people like me, the mentally sick
people.

SAM
You are not mentally sick.

PENNY
I know that! Even if I was, it isn't something people can catch, like
the measles.

SAM
Or polio. Remember the epidemic a couple years ago?

PENNY
Yeah. That was scary.

SAM
All the pools closed. Summertime and the kids staying indoors –

PENNY
It was awful.

SAM
People looked at me funny, cause I'm lame from muscular dystrophy.
Like I had polio, and they could catch it from me.

PENNY
That's how my fancy cousins look at me, like I've got a disease.

SAM
That's how it is with us. We look different, and people naturally
wonder, until they get to know us.

PENNY
Well, Madge knows me. A lot of good that does.

SAM
She doesn't know you like I do. She doesn't know how smart you
are. She should ask at the A&P.

PENNY
All she knows is a I can't stay here. And I can't stay with her and
Uncle Albert and those damn cousins.

SAM
Penny!

PENNY
(more statement than question) Didn't know I could swear, did you.

SAM
Did you learn that at the A&P?

PENNY
No worse than the lumber yard, I bet.

SAM
You could be right about that.

PENNY
I'm gonna miss you. I'm gonna miss working at the A&P and bringing
home a paycheck for grandma. I'm gonna miss getting grandma ready
before I go to work, and bringing home the bag of groceries when I'm
done. I'll miss seeing you when you come home from the lumber yard.
And after supper listening to the radio while you smoke your pipe and
we have coffee... in Sam's Garage.

SAM
You were just sixteen the first time you stuck your head in here. I
was listening to “Sargent Preston of the Yukon.”

PENNY
Grandma said “Don't you pester that young man.” Then when I turned
sixteen she stopped saying it.

SAM
You never pestered me. And you always went back in the house at nine
o'clock on the dot – week nights and Saturdays.
(pause)
Sixteen. That's how young I was when Chuck brought me here to live.
(pause)
No, you were never a pest. Just the opposite!

PENNY
I wanted to stay later. (pause) I wanted to hear the next program.

SAM
They are going, going gone. All the programs are going over to television.

PENNY
I think that's awful.

SAM
I bet they have television at the... you know... where you're going.
That's something to look forward to.

PENNY
Yeah. Howdy Doody every afternoon. I miss the radio shows. I miss
grandma and my good job and I'm gonna miss you. Too many things are
changing.

SAM
I'm lucky. I still have my job, my friends, and I'll come out to visit
you whenever I can. Tell you the truth, I don't like the rooming house
where I'm going. I can't smoke my pipe and I can't play the radio
after ten o'clock at night.

PENNY
That's terrible!

SAM
That's house rules. Oh, I don't mind the pipe so much. I can always
catch a smoke outside.
But I like to lay back and listen to “Music Till Dawn” –
classical music - and I'd put the sound down low, so it wouldn't get
too rowdy. Sometimes the music would be gentle and quiet. Then I'd
fall asleep till I woke up early in the morning, between five-thirty
and six. Like I had a clock inside me. Just like that.

PENNY
Music till dawn.

SAM
Jay Andres is the host. He plays the music, talks about what he's
going to play. People call in, ask him to play a favorite piece.

PENNY
You never told me about that program.

SAM
It comes on way late, Penny, you would already be asleep. I don't
listen all the time. I just tune it in when I have trouble getting to
sleep.

PENNY
I have trouble too, sometimes. I really enjoyed coming down here,
listening to a show with you.

SAM
(apologizing)
I'm sorry. I'd make some coffee, but everything's packed.

PENNY
That's okay. You know, grandma thought we were foolin' around down
here.

SAM
No! Go on!

PENNY
(giggling)
She did! I told her no, but she just smiled.

SAM
Yeah, she would. What a gal.

PENNY
I mean! Imagine!

SAM
Well, sure. After all, you are a pretty woman.

PENNY
Oh, Sam! You're just teasin' me.

SAM
No, I'm saying that, because you are. Some day you'll meet a nice fellow.

PENNY
Oh sure, Prince Charming. Me cooped up in an asylum, cleaning, doing
the laundry, washing dishes – I had a good job at the A&P, and if I
worked full-time I could have advanced.
That's what they told me.

(Pause. SAM looks at her; she looks away.)

I'm not saying it was all nice. Some of the help
– the come-and-go help – they'd stare at me and poke fun. They
were careful not to do that in front of Mr. Goody, 'cause he wouldn't
stand for that.

SAM
I wouldn't either. It's just plain mean. People like that never amount
to much. I use to get that when I was a kid, mostly because I couldn't
play sports and I was a little slow at school.

(He lifts an empty box to the cot.)

Hey, give me a hand with this, huh? I want to pack my clothes in this
box. I ought to have a suitcase, but I don't.

(They get the box on the cot and start folding and packing the clothes)

PENNY
Do you mean it, Sam? That I'm pretty?

SAM
Sure you are.

PENNY
You mean pretty for a mongoloid person.

SAM
That's not what I said and that's not what I mean. You're like the
song:
(singing)
“Five-foot two, eyes of blue, Oh what those two eyes could do! Has
anybody seen my girl?”

PENNY
I'm more like five-foot nothing. Tall for my type.

SAM
And if I had a good leg I'd ask you to dance. We are what we are. And
in my eyes you are a pretty woman. You think I'd take a girl to the
movies who wasn't pretty?

PENNY
I am really gonna miss you. You always say such nice things.
(pause)
I don't think it was “Sargent Preston.”

SAM
What? Oh, when you first... ? No? Maybe it was “The Shadow.” Or
“The Green Hornet.” All gone now.

PENNY
Grandma liked the soaps in the morning, and Robert Q. Lewis. I was at
work by then.

SAM
Sargent Preston of The Yukon – “On, King! On, you huskies!” I
always wanted to see The Yukon. My brother said we could go there for
a visit. Once we settled in California we'd go up there, just to look
around, you know? That was before Korea. We had plans.
(pause, looks at his watch) Joe should be here, soon.

PENNY
Aunt Madge, too. Then it's really good-bye.

[End of Extract]

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