John Hall

                    JOHN HALL – SYNOPSIS 

BUD SIMS, a white man of forty, is not too happy with JOHN HALL, a black man of fifty because HALL won’t pay back the $75 HE owes HIM.  Although the money owed SIMS is minimal, BUD is concerned with the principle of the whole affair—especially since HALL himself has criticized “other black gang-banger low-lifes” who don’t repay their debts.  Bud has therefore decided to go after his loan.  He wages a massive mail and phone campaign against JOHN HALL, but to no avail.  The play begins with BUD going out to mail some more letters to JOHN HALL when JOHN arrives unexpectedly to repay the money.  JOHN does not at first meet BUD, but rather his wife, JEAN SIMS.  SHE is frightened of HIM because HE acts rather peculiarly, but SHE eventually discovers that HE is only waiting for BUD to return so HE can pay BUD back in person.  However, JOHN HALL has a surprise for BUD AND HIS WIFE… 

————– 

JOHN HALL – A Ten-Minute Play

 

SETTING:     

A large room.  Up right, an over-crowded office spilling over with papers.  Up left, a well-kept kitchen.  Down center, a den with a large TV.

AT RISE:     

West Los Angeles, late Saturday afternoon.  A WHITE MAN, around forty, emerges from the office up right with a huge box of envelopes. HE makes his way through the kitchen to a door down left.  His wife, a WHITE WOMAN in her early thirties, stops washing the dishes.                    

                           JEAN

You’re not going to send those?

                           BUD

Goddamn right I am.

                           JEAN

Don’t you have anything better to do?

                           BUD

These letters’ll get a response from the bastard!  I can just see his face when the mailman rings the door bell.

                           JEAN

But he only owes you seventy-five dollars.  How much did you pay for those stamps?

                           BUD

Ten bucks.  And that’s not including envelopes and paper –

                           JEAN

Plus your time.  All for a guy you can do nothing about.  What’s the matter with you?

                           BUD

It’s the principle of the thing.  Do you understand that?  Do you realize it’s been three months?

                           JEAN

You’ve been wasting your time for three months on this?

                           BUD

He keeps lying to me, telling me he’s going to send it Monday or Tuesday.  Why does it have to be Monday or Tuesday?  Is

BUD (cont.)

that when he goes to work or something?  Is that the start of his work week?  Is –

                           JEAN

I think you’re losing it, I really do.

                           BUD

(pointing to something on the sink)

You’re going to lose that down the drain if you don’t watch it!  That canary diamond cost fifteen grand!

                           JEAN

You’re driving me crazy with this bozo!  Mail those if you have to, but –

(But BUD is out the door)

                      JEAN   (cont.)

Moron!

(SHE walks into the office and kicks some of his papers.  Then SHE returns to her dishes when there is a KNOCK on the door.  SHE walks to the door and opens it)

NOW what do you –

(A BLACK MAN, around fifty, promptly walks in and closes the door)

– want?

                        BLACK MAN

Jean Sims?

                           JEAN

What are you doing –

                        BLACK MAN

Mrs. or Ms. Sims?

                           JEAN

Who are you?  What are you doing in my house?

                        BLACK MAN

Ms. Sims, I’m John Hall.  Pleased to meet you.

(HE extends his hand.  SHE ignores it)

               JOHN HALL (cont.)

How are you?

                      JEAN

The “John Hall” Bud has been talking about?

                    JOHN HALL

I think so.

(HE wanders around the main room and office touching things.  Then HE moves into the kitchen where HE runs his hand over the appliances.  HE stops to wash his hands, glances round, then finally takes a seat in front of the TV.  SHE remains standing)

                        JOHN HALL

Nice place you have here.

                           JEAN

Glad to see it meets your approval.

                        JOHN HALL

Real nice.  Lived here long?

                           JEAN

A couple of years or so.

(HE settles into a large armchair, then FLICKS the television set on and off with the remote control.  JEAN continues to stand)

You got some nerve.

                        JOHN HALL

No.  I got a heart condition.

                           JEAN

Oh really?

                        JOHN HALL

I’ve had it for the past twenty years.  Doc told me I should take it easy.  That’s what the Doc said. 

                           JEAN

Doctors are usually right.

                        JOHN HALL

You want to sit down with me?  I’ll tell you what else my doc told me.

                           JEAN

Thank you, but I don’t have much time.  I’ll be going out soon.

                        JOHN HALL

Is that right?  Where’ll that be?

                           JEAN

If it’s any of your business, Bud and I are going to the movies.

                        JOHN HALL

The movies?  That’s wonderful.  What are you goin’ to see?

                           JEAN

Look, Mr. Hall, Bud’ll be home any minute now, and I’m sure he won’t want to find you here, so why don’t you give me the money you owe him, and we’ll call it a day.

                        JOHN HALL

What are we drinkin’?

                           JEAN

We don’t drink.

                        JOHN HALL

How about a Jack Daniels, easy on the ice, touch of soda?

(HE flicks on the TV again)

                      JEAN

Please, make yourself at home.

(SHE goes to the kitchen and makes HIM his drink)

               JOHN HALL

Nice set you have here.  Did it cost a lot?

                           JEAN

Actually, it did. 

                        JOHN HALL

I’m sure it did.

                           JEAN

That’s why Bud’s been hounding you for the money you owe him.  He’s got expenses too.

                        JOHN HALL

You know where I live, we thank God every mornin’ for what we have.  You don’t see televisions like these down there –

                           JEAN

Bud works very hard –

                        JOHN HALL

We got drug addicts bustin’ in our homes, stealin’ stuff –

                           JEAN

Sounds like they wouldn’t have much to steal –

                        JOHN HALL

– We can’t leave our kids out in the yard.  Might get shot up by some gang banger lookin’ for a fix.  Our wives aren’t safe neither.  When they try to protect the family home, them gang bangers just mow ’em down –

                           JEAN

I sympathize very much, Mr. Hall, but what are you trying to tell me?

                        JOHN HALL

Just that you gotta appreciate what you got up here, that’s all.  Not everyone find a nice place to live like you – with antique furniture, genteel people, a quiet neighborhood.  I’m from the ghetto.  We don’t have it so good down there.

                           JEAN

If you’re trying to tell me you don’t have Bud’s money, why did you come up here?

                        JOHN HALL

Oh, I got the money.  Got plenty of money.  Got my own business.  Built it up from scratch.  That’s what I was tryin’ to tell your husband there.  But he don’t seem to understand that.  I contribute to my community.

                           JEAN

Then why have you taken so long to pay him?

                        JOHN HALL

Everybody wait for their money!  That’s the way it goes.  Even my secretary.  I pay her seventy-five grand a year, but once awhile she’s got to wait.  I got two other businesses besides the one in Carson.  But the difference with me is I recycle the profits back to the community where I come from. I owe somethin’ to these people.

                           JEAN

I don’t know why you’re telling me all this, Mr. Hall.

                        JOHN HALL

‘Cause I don’t think you white people appreciate the nice life you got.  You one of the ‘haves’.  You ain’t no minority like me.  Even in the army, you a minority.  You know what it’s like, have some honkie mother on your ass?  I remember this one time, I felt like bustin’ this guy’s brains all over the sidewalk with my bayonet, but he was a white man, this lieutenant.  Shi-i-it man, today, only difference between me and some gang banger is dollars and cents.   Hell, today I ‘have’, but he still ‘has not’.  Come over here.

                           JEAN

I beg your pardon.

                        JOHN HALL

I want to show you somethin’.

                           JEAN

What do you want to show me?

                        JOHN HALL

Come over here.  I want to show you what I got.

(A VOICE offstage CALLS OUT)

                  BUD   (Off)

I sent ’em off, hon’.  That bastard’s going to get a shitload of mail tomorrow. 

(BUD enters)

John!

                        JOHN HALL

Hello, Bud!

                           BUD

I was just thinking about you.

                        JOHN HALL

I bet you were.

                           BUD

Don’t tell me you’re hand-delivering my money?

                        JOHN HALL

I’m here, ain’t I?  Sorry it’s taken so long.  Normally, I give every cent I own to my community…

                           BUD

That’s what you were telling me…

                        JOHN HALL

Every cent of your seventy-five dollars.  I got to put it up as protection against these gang bangers, drug addicts and pimps preyin’ on the nigger.  I was tellin’ your wife here, you got a nice address.  You white people don’t need no money like people where I’m from.

                           BUD

But you do have the money?

                        JOHN HALL

Oh, I got your money.

                           BUD

Good.  I thought you were setting me up –

                        JOHN HALL

But that’s why you had to wait until now.  I’ve been havin’ a real hard time.

                           BUD

So you’ve been telling me.

                        JOHN HALL

Just one thing after the other.  And now, my heart’s been playin’ up.  I don’t know what to do about it.  The doctor told me to take it easy, but they’re thieves, those guys, take the shirt right off your back –

                           BUD

Tell me about it –

                        JOHN HALL

And my oldest kid, Lord – my pride and joy – I’m tryin’ to keep him out of this gang, see, but they got more influence

on him than me, and I’m losin’ ground.  “Peer pressure”, I think you sociologists call it –

                           JEAN

Sounds like a horror story –

                        JOHN HALL

– And my wife, see, she had this drinkin’ problem – we both had – that’s why my liver’s screwed up – but now she’s gone back on it, see, and her and these goddamn doctors’re robbin’ us blind.

                           JEAN

But you said you had a successful business?

                        JOHN HALL

I do, but I give all my money away — to my community.  I even give to the S.B.M. – that’s the Society for Blind Minorities.  Anyway, don’t want to bore you no longer with my troubles.  Here’s your check, Bud. 

(HE pulls out a pre-written check from his pocket)

You did a great job for me.  And thanks for the drink, Mrs. Sims –

                           JEAN

Jean.

                        JOHN HALL

– Jean.  Sorry to be such a trouble for you.

                           BUD

That’s okay, John, just ignore your mail tomorrow.

                        JOHN HALL

Okay buddy, I will.  You take care now.

(JOHN HALL exits)

                           JEAN

I was getting scared there.  I thought you’d never get back.

                           BUD

Pretty nice guy, really.  Maybe I misjudged him.

                           JEAN

Nice guy?!  He thinks we’re loaded, but really, that money arrived in the nick of time.  I’ll be able to pay for that

toenail wax shiner after all. 

(BUD picks up the telephone.  Punches in some numbers)

                  BUD

(on telephone)

Hello?…First Federal?…This is Bud Sims…I just

received a check from one of your clients made out to my order…Yes, I wanted to know if it was good?

                           JEAN

Good idea. 

                           BUD

(on telephone)

That’s account number 057-111855…It’s from John Hall…That’s right.  Seventy-five dollars…Ok…What?!…No!…Yes, thank you.

(HE hangs up)

The check’s no good.

                           JEAN

You’re kidding me! 

                           BUD

Son of a bitch!  I’m going to get him!

(SHE grabs his hands and holds HIM)

                      JEAN

Please, Honey, just forget about him.  You can’t change these people.

                       BUD

Are you kidding me?  I’m going to blow his head off!

                      JEAN

Bud!  Now promise me you’re never going to talk like that again!

(SHE glues HERSELF to HIM)

Maybe it was an honest mistake?  Maybe he forgot to put some money in this account?

                           BUD

They just love to screw the white man, don’t they? 

                           JEAN

Come on, Bud, don’t talk that way.  You’re a sociologist. 

(SHE kisses Bud and puts her hands up around his neck and rubs against him.  LIGHTS START TO DIM.)

                  BUD

What are you doing?

                           JEAN

Why not?  You’re kind of cute when you get mad.

                           BUD

For God’s sake!  How can you think of that after what we’ve been through?

                      JEAN

I don’t know.  I guess you ghetto males make me sort of nasty.

(SHE pushes into HIM)

Plus, it’s Saturday afternoon.  We always do it on Saturday afternoon, and we skipped last Saturday.

                           BUD

(BUD notices her ring finger)

Jesus Christ!  Where’s your ring?!

                      JEAN

What?  It’s over by the sink.

                       BUD

I told you to keep your ring on!

                      JEAN

Oh, my God, you’re right!

(SHE runs to the sink and starts flailing about looking for her ring)

Oh, no!

(FULL LIGHTS, as SHE throws on a switch.  SHE throws her hands about desperately, looking)

That son of a bitch!

(to BUD)

Well, don’t stand there, Asshole!  Go get him!

(BLACKOUT)

(END OF PLAY)

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