The Choice by Gene Ruffini
This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent
FATHER PETER DUNNE… He is 60. Military bearing, burdened,
MRS. HELENE FRIEDRICH .....She is 52, efficient, but weary, cynical,
driven, yet compassionate.
FATHER MICHAEL NORRIS .....He is 43, idealistic, loyal, but with a
ROSLYN GOLD…. Late teens, bitter and defensive.
NELLY PRENTICE…. Black, vulnerable, teens, streetwise.
TYRONE MORGAN…. Late teens, black, streetwise, his
bravado hides his fears and insecurities.
EDDIE PALMER ...La t e teens., a wounded snarling animal of the streets.
The setting is the day room of The Resource, a shelter'
for' teenage runaways in Greenwich Village in New York
City. There is a large crucifix angled, stage right.
At right rear is a kitchen area. At left rear is a
billiard table. In act one, there is a dining table
with chairs at stage right. In Act two
the Dining table has been moved to stage center and
platforms and boxes have been arranged to make an arena.
It is Spring. A late Sunday afternoon. Before the
lights come up, slivers of light criss-cross the
stage showing bits and slices of two teenage boys
circling each other, knives drawn , One is black.
'l'he other is white. A black Girl and a white girl
watch, circling in a counter direction to the combatants.
The black girl says: .“Kill Him. Kill Him.”
(Gesturing “corneon” with his free hand)
Come one rne , you bLack son son of a bitch ...come and get it.
(Slashing, but missing)
I'll kill you, you bastard.
Ataway, Eddie ...make him miss—make him miss.
Corne on .come on ...
(Jabs with the knife, but misses)
Son of a bitch ..
He's a black pimp, Eddie .. get him.
Shut up, Jew bitch ...
Who's a Jew bitch, you black whore!
(Tyrone rushes him. He and Eddie struggle
in the center of the stage, each holding
the other's knife hand. They fall on the
floor, roll.about. Nelly tries to help
Tyrone but Roz pulls her off. They join
Oh, no~ you don't.
(The Rev. Peter Keller appears at stage right
with the Rev. Michael Norris).
(Both rush to pull Tyrone and Eddie apart.
Roz and Nelly stop fighting).
Stop! That's 'enough!
What the hell got into you guys?
Knook it off!
Take it easy!
Son of a bitch! I'm gonna kill him.
You not gonna kill anybody!
Will you watch it with that knife, for Chrissakes!
Give me your knife.
(Eddie hesitates, then gives Keller the
KELLER (turns to Tyrone).
Give me your knife.
Shit! I ain't gonna give nobody my knife.
Give it to me.
Give it to h,m…
Give it to him ..
(He gives the knife to Keller)
That's a switch. The whore tells the pimp what to do.
(Starting toward Eddie)
You white mother ......
Enough, I said!
Haven't the both of you caused enough trouble?
He started it.
The hell I did.
I'm talking to Roz here ...getting acquainted and that
dude cnmes muscling in. .
He don't need no white chick. He got me.
You'd like to believe that, eh?
I told him to layoff and he wouldn't.'
Christ, she was giving me the big eye!
I just smiled at you!
It doesn't take much to get Tyrone rolling. He was the
biggest lover man in the South Bronx.
(Winking, making his fingers into a gun)
Quick on the trigger, man, Old Dead Eye Dick .
Old Dead Dick you mean.
It doesn't take much for you guys to cut each other up, '
does it? ,When are you going to learn?
I suppose you think it's my fault.
Nobody said that.
Sure! Everything is always 'my fault. Look, if you
don't want me here, I'll leave. I don't give a damn.
(She starts toward the door, but Keller
stops her with his banda8ed arm).
Take it easy. Nobody is going to give you a hard time.
Hell, let her go. Girl not here more than half an hour
and she cause trouble.
Right, Tyrone? Well, I'm an old trouble shooter.
Lucky you didn't cut me. It would have been on my drinking -
arm. God might have forgiven you, but not me.
Hey, how about a little shot tonight, or you going to
keep it all to yourself.
You just never mind. The day you graduate out of here
which is probably never—I'll let you have a sniff,
but not before.
Hey, you 're a mean priest man I never seen a priest as
mean as you, man I mean - mean!
Man. he's so mean ...he drinks beer and piss out whiskey.
Nell, you got it wrong. I drink Holy Water and piss out
. (To Roz)
Whe;re .you come from?
My aunt used to work in Scarsdale. She was a cook for'
some white folks.
We had a cook, Constance.
Little rich white girl had herself a nigger cook .probably
a nigger maid and 'a nigger chauffeur ..somebody to wipe her ass.
Listen, you ...
Cut. _it, everybody ..
Okay ..Roslyn's father is a doctor. She ran avvay from
home and got into trouble. Just like you did. She's here
and needs help—just like you. That's what's important.
Let's cut the other crap.
When can I leave this dump?
It's no dump ...and you leave when you're ready ...
Who. says when I'm ready?
You do and we do
(He indicates the whole group)
We all decide. Everybody here is responsible for each
Just sweetness and light. I got a sample of that
(She indicates Eddie and Tyrone)
Nobody is a saint.. But we try—-right people?
(Slapping his hand)
Right on ..
I heard about this place. You don't hassle the kids here.
You let them alone. Why do they call this place “'The
We try to help kids to help themselves—-find something
in themselves—they didn't know~ they had—a resource.
This place is like a zoo.
You just another animal like us, baby ..don't you forget
it..college girl ...
I was supposed to go to college, but then I had my baby
You had a baby?
Oh, that's alright ..I don't mind.
A boy. They took it away from me
mine you know. I mean, the first
just mine. His name was Aaron
my parents. It was
thing that was actually
(She starts to cry)
They wanted me to have an abortion. They thought I was.
having the baby to spite them .shame them in front of
their friends and neighbors as my belly got bigger and
bigger. They put me in a special home to hide me. And
when I had my baby—they took it and wouldn't tell me
where he was.
.(His arm around Roz)
We know where your baby is.
Oh, God, do you?
It's a matter now of proving you're fit enough to keep
I'll do anything .anything .
You '.make it.
Where is he? Tell me!
It's a court thing ...Father Norris is working on it. It
will take time ..
Gee, I'm sorry…
How long ynu been on the street?
Eleven months..Ran away twice.
Got caught twice. Sent home twice.
You ever been in Tomlinson Hall?
Place is full of fags ...
(Looking around slyly)
So true .So true . . , .~. .
You're the fag-homo man, not me ..
I wish we had more homo sapiens here—that means people
who think ..
Well we got plenty of homo saps anyway ...
How 'long you been on the steeet, Nelly?
Three years before I came here and I been here a year
and a half.
I been here for three months. And this is the best man.
I mean, I was in them all. Bellevue, Highlands, Jefferson,
Tomlinson Hall. Used to take eight a day when I came
here. Higher than the moon.
I was on H—200 bucks a day ...and selling my ass
to make it…
I was on coke .. blowing up a snow storm…
With me, it was beanies, greenies, whities, blackies,
the whole damn rainbow and I would wash 'em down with
sweet wine ..~sweet, sweet wine ...
Man, that sweet wine ...Now, that stuff will really kill
Yeah, just ask Father Norris.
You see how l they pick on me? Mr. Nice Guy always gets
it in the end.
'If that'-s where you want it, baby , that's where you're
gonna get it..
You're gonna have to confess that on Saturday, dude
(Mrs HELENE FRIEDRICH enters carrying a bulging, battered briefcase.
[end of extract]
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