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Today's Prodigal
by Dale Davis
03/12/05
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Characters:
John: Father
Linda: Mother
Michael: The faithful son
Robby: The prodigal son

Scene/Setting:
The living room of this familyís home.

Plot:
Family discussion gets heated about the son who left three years ago and how it has affected the entire family.

Message:
Unconditional love, a family can still hold on to hope in a crisis.

Props:
Newspaper, apron, dishtowel, sofa, chair, end table with lamp, picture frame on end table, legal size writing pad and pen.

-------------------------------------------------
LIGHTS UP

(John is sitting on living room sofa reading the newspaper. Linda enters STAGE LEFT wearing a small/half apron wiping her hands on a dish towel. And takes a seat next to John on sofa Ė but not too close.)

Linda: The dishes are done and the kitchenís clean. (Pause) I let Melba go home early today.

JOHN: (Uninterested) Oh?

LINDA: Well, thereís only the three of us now. So, thereís less for her to do. And ever since Michaelís been running the ranch, heís usually only here for dinner.

JOHN: Maybe, itís time to cut back Melbaís hours.

LINDA: No, I donít want to do that. She really needs the money. Besides, I can always find something for her to do around here.

JOHN: Fine.

LINDA: Did I tell you next Tuesday is my turn to host the womenís Bible study?

JOHN: (Half listening) I donít think so.

LINDA: (Angry) I told you Sunday in the car on the way home from church. I knew you werenít listening!

JOHN: Is that why you brought it up again? Just to test my listening skills?

LINDA: Well, letís face it, John, if it doesnít have to do with your business then youíre not interested.

JOHN: Here we go.

LINDA: I thought maybe we could talk tonight.

JOHN: We are talking.

LINDA: No! W-e-e are not talking. Iím talking and youíre hardly responding which is pretty much the norm around here. Have you even heard a thing Iíve said since I walked into the living room?

JOHN: (Agitated) Yes! Melba needs money so youíre going to keep finding things for her to do and youíre hosting the womenís Bible study next Thursday.

LINDA: Tuesday!

JOHN: Whatever. Just remind me again so I can make sure Iím not here.

LINDA: You see? Thatís what I mean, John! Why canít you remember anything I say to you?

JOHN: Linda, right now I just want to sit here, read my newspaper and relax.

LINDA: Thatís all you ever want to do.

JOHN: Iím tired, thatís all

LINDA: Well, you should be since you didnít get home until the wee hours of the morning.

JOHN: What's that supposed to mean?

LINDA: I m-e-a-n, why were you out so late last night?

JOHN: We closed an enormous deal yesterday. This is our biggest contract ever. Itís going to keep us in business for the nextÖI donít know, four years. The managers at the shop wanted to go out and celebrate. Those guys bust their butts for me. The least I can do is take them out once in a while to show my appreciation. If it wasnít for their hard work and loyalty we wouldnít be where weíre at today.

LINDA: Thatís why you didnít come home until two-thirty in the morning? Smelling like whiskey? Gee, itís been a long time since Iíve had the pleasure of that aroma in the bedroom.

JOHN: I didnít think I woke you.

LINDA: Well you did! I mean, really, John! Who could sleep with you coming in and stumbling over everything?

JOHN: Iím sorry.

LINDA: I donít like you drinking, John. I donít ever want to go through that again. I donít think I could handle it. And youíve come so far.

JOHN: (Apologetic and consoling) Linda, you donít have to worry about that. Last night? I went too far. Youíre absolutely right. And Iím sorry.

(Short pause)

LINDA: You know what yesterday was, donít you?

JOHN: (Pause and sigh) YesÖI know. Of course, I know.

LINDA: Itís been three years, John. Three years since Robby left.

JOHN: (Confessing) I know thatís why I kept right on drinking last night. I just wanted the day to be over.

LINDA: Why donít we ever talk about it anymore?

JOHN: IÖI donít know, Linda.

LINDA: (Crying) Why donít you care about him anymore?

JOHN: (Angry) Why donít I care about him? Why donít I care about my own son? Do you think one day goes by and I donít think about him? Wondering what he looks like now? What heís doing? Constantly worrying about him? Feeling guilty that maybe I did something to hurt him and thatís why he doesnít come home? Does he think I donít love him for some reason? Did I do something or say something that caused him to leave? Every single day I imagine him walking through that door. (Tearfully) Every single day my heart aches with a pain I canít even describe. Iím just exhausted. (PauseÖthen continue building up anger) Do you know why I have to read the paper everyday? Iím looking for headlines with Robbyís name in them. Iím checking the police reports. Iím reading the obituaries, for Godís sake!

LINDA: Iím sorry, John. Iím really sorry. It just seems like youíve given up on him.

JOHN: I will never give up on Robby!

LINDA: (Sigh) I canít stop asking myself, why did we ever let him go?

JOHN: How could we stop him, Linda? He was of legal age. I had to give him his trust fund. After all, it was his. We set that money aside for the boys. We canít tell them how to use it. You and I could have never kept him from leaving. His mind was made up. That was his decision.

LINDA: I wish weíd at least hear from him. A letterÖa phone callÖanything.

JOHN: I just keep hoping and praying heís alright.

LINDA: Shh, I think I hear Michael.

(Michael enters STAGE LEFT whistling ďOff to Work I GoĒ)

BOTH: (Cheery and fake) Hi, Michael!

MICHAEL: Howdy! (Plops down on chair)

JOHN: Howís my favorite, son?

MICHAEL: Favorite son? Ha! Donít even go there, big guy. Your favorite son is out whoriní around town, spending all your money. Me? Your hard-working, dependable son? Well, Iím just dandy? (Noticing their mood) Uh, oh. Whatís wrong?

JOHN: Nothing. Your mother and I are justÖdiscussing some things.

MICHAEL: BULL! You two havenít talked in ages.

JOHN: Well, weíre talking now.

MICHAEL: Gee, does it have anything to do with the fact that yesterday was the big three-year anniversary?

LINDA: Stop it, Michael.

MICHAEL: (Angry, hurt) No! Iím not going to stop it. Iím sick of this. Robbyís an idiot. An ungrateful, no good loser! Iím so tired of this entire family revolving around him. Especially since he hasnít even been here for three years!

JOHN: Michael, yelling is not going to make you feel any better about the situation. I realize how angry you must be toward your brother.

MICHAEL: You have no idea what I feel! I hardly ever see you. Itís been months since youíve stopped by to see how weíre doing with the ranch. The guys down there wonder if youíre even still alive.

JOHN: Weíve got our hands full at the shop, Michael. You know this is our busiest time of year. Iím putting in a lot of hours. As soon as things settle down a bit Iíll be able to spend more time with you at the ranch.

MICHAEL: Oh, Iíve heard that one before. In fact, I think I hear it every year on this date. Itís your annual ďRobbyís still gone, our lives are miserable, Iíll be around moreĒ speech.

LINDA: Michael, please.

MICHAEL: And Mom, youíre just living in your little fantasy world. Always pretending everythingís just fine in this house. God forbid, anyone would ever find out what itís really like to live here. Which is exactly why I moved into the guesthouse a year ago.

JOHN: Michael.

MICHAEL: Tell me, mom, how many times have you remodeled Robbyís room now? Three? Four times? Is Melba still cleaning it everyday Ė just in case? (Obvious look from Linda) Yeah, I thought so.

JOHN: (Raised voice, yelling) Michael, thatís enough and I mean it!

(Silent pause)

MICHAEL: (Regretful) Iím sorry.

LINDA: We know.

MICHAEL: No, I mean, Iím really sorry, mom. Dad?

JOHN: I know you are. Itís okay.

MICHAEL: I just get so mad at him. (Pleading to his parents) He - left - us. He left me! He left me alone to run the ranch andÖall the work that goes along with it. Sometimes I just get so mad that I hope he never comes back. But, I know I donít really mean that. I miss him. I wish he were here to see how the ranch has grown. I miss him most on our birthdays. (Chuckle) We used to have some great parties, didnít we?

JOHN: Yeah, you sure did. (Laughs) Pretty, expensive parties, too.

LINDA: (Picking up picture on end table) This picture of the two of you was taken at your last party together. Hmm. I gave him that haircut.

JOHN: (Laughs) He hated that haircut.

MICHAEL: Thatís probably why he left. Iím kidding!

LINDA: I canít stop wondering what he must be feeling. Does he think he went too far? Does he think heís gone to a place where I wouldnít go to find him? Does he have any idea how much I love him?

JOHN: I wonder the same thing. Does he know I love him? Does he know thereís nothing he can do to change my love for him? And then I wonderÖdoes my son love me?

MICHAEL: Of course, he loves you. You gave him two million dollars! Heck, Iíll love you forever for that kind of cash!

JOHN: Michael, you know that everything I have is yours. And Iíd give it all up to have Robby back.

MICHAEL: Not if itís mine, you wonít.

LINDA: Can you remain serious for at least five minutes?

MICHAEL: Yes, I can. (Pause) Look, I didnít know when to bring this upÖbutÖI know how to get a hold of Robby.

BOTH: What?

JOHN: You know where he is?

MICHAEL: Not exactly. He called at the ranch house about six months ago.

LINDA: Why didnít you tell us?

MICHAEL: Because I promised him I wouldnít.

LINDA: How is he? Is he alright?

MICHAEL: He soundedÖokay. I meanÖphysically, he said he was fine. He said he was healthy. But, he was hurting for money, big time. He went through the trust fund about a year ago. He told me he was living with some friends he met. ButÖI got the impression that meant a shelter with other homeless people.

JOHN: Why didnít you tell him to come home?

MICHAEL: I tried, Dad. Heís scared. He feels very ashamed. I told him none of that mattered. We just wanted him home.

LINDA: What did he say?

MICHAEL: He asked how the two of you were doing. So, I lied, of course. (Mocking) ďAllís fine in John and Lindaís world.Ē He really just wanted some money. So I sent him some cash. Iíve been sending him money every month.

JOHN: Where is he, Michael?

MICHAEL: I donít know for sure. I mean...heís in New Orleans. But, exactly where? I donít know. He gave me a post office box to send the money.

LINDA: What should we do, John? Can we find him? Is that enough to go on?

JOHN: It might be. But, if we track him down and heís not ready to come homeÖwhat good will that do? At least we know heís alive.

LINDA: Maybe we should write him a letter. Maybe we can convince him to come home.

MICHAEL: Itís worth a shot.

JOHN: Michael, have you talked to him since that first phone call?

MICHAEL: No. He never called again. I usually send the money in a card with a note. ButÖheís never responded.

JOHN: Then I think we should write Robby a letter. A letter from all of us. Weíll tell him how much we miss him. How much we love him. Then weíll pray. As a family. Like we used to. We have to trust God to protect him and keep him safe. I think thatís all we can do until he decides to come home.

(PLAY SONG: The Prodigal (Iíll be Waiting) performed by Amy Grant from the CD titled Unguarded. The song will be acted out as a HUMAN VIDEO. All three will take turns writing the letter, standing up, pacing, hugging/consoling each other, and then finally praying together. Each actor(s) should move to STAGE FRONT as they act out their part noted below. At other times the actors are seated as if taking turns writing the letter.)

THE PRODIGAL (Iíll Be Waiting)

FATHER (John)
I face the day again
Against the window pain
I remain your closest friend
And wish you back again

MOTHER (Linda)
You wonder how I feel
You think youíve pushed to far
If only you could see this pen
Scribbling down my heart

FATHER AND MOTHER
Iíll be waiting
I may be young or old and gray
Counting the days
But, Iíll be waiting
And when I finally see you come
Iíll run when I see you
Iíll meet you.

BROTHER (Michael)
But still the days drag on
Why did you decide to go
Did you only need to see
What only time can show

ALL IN PRAYER
Iíll be waiting
I may be young or old and gray
Counting the days
But, Iíll be waiting
And when I finally see you come
Iíll run when I see you

INSTRUMENTAL and FADE

(Robby enters STAGE RIGHT looking very dirty and ragged. SONG FADES OUT. He has a key in his left hand. They notice him standing there.)

JOHN: Robby?

ROBBY: (Tearfully and frightened, holding key up) My key still works.

JOHN: Yes. Of courseÖof course it does!

LINDA: Robby! Oh, thank you, Jesus!

(As they all approach him, Robby backs off.)

ROBBY: Donít touch meÖplease. Iíve beenÖI canít tell you where Iíve been.

JOHN: None of that matters, son. It doesnít matter where youíve been or what youíve done. (Embraces him) All that matters is that your home. And that we love you. I love you.

LINDA: (Hugs him) Iíve missed you so much. Oh, Robby!

MICHAEL: Brother, (Puts his arm around his shoulder) Iíve got three years worth of manure with your name on it. (Serious) Hey, thanks for coming home. I love you, brother. (Hug)

JOHN: We are going to throw the biggest party Texas has ever seen. (To audience) My son has come home!

(Fade lights, play song at 3:56 and fade)

END

Copyright C. 2004 by Dale L. Davis

THE PRODIGAL (Iíll Be Waiting)
By Amy Grant, Gary Chapman, Robbie Buchanan
Copyright C. 1985 Bug & Bear Music/Riverstone Music/Nanacub Music


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