By J. Allen Wilson
Synopsis Of Going Home:
Going Home is a tale of a journey on the road of life, where two strangers meet at an unknown intersection in time, and ends with a new found understanding of love.
Opening and concluding scene is that of an old man on a park bench clutching an unseen object in his hand. (The background lighting is low and a soft fussed light is on the old mans face). His look is that of weariness and his tired eyes carry the look of one who has seen too much life. Entering from the old mans left, comes a young jogger out of breath from his morning’s run. (The light now expands to capture both the jogger and the old man) While resting on the bench, the young man strikes a conversation with the old man. Little did he know that he would receive a gift far greater than he could imagine.
Charlie O’Brien, (old man)
Thomas Page, (young jogger)
Cora O’Brien, (old mans wife)
An old man is sitting alone on a park bench, as heavy foot steps approach from his left.
Young Jogger: Hey pops, how you doing? Don’t mind if I share your bench do you? (He then huffs a bit and collapses on the bench next to the old man, but is only greeted with silence.)
Young Jogger: I jog this park every morning and I don’t remember seeing you here. Are you new to the neighborhood? (The old man turns and speaks in almost a whisper)
The Old Man: Just passing through son, but the name is Charlie, not pops.
The Jogger: Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you pops…uh I mean Charlie. My name is Thomas Page, but all my friends just call me Tom for short.
Charlie: Nice to make your acquaintance son…uh I mean Tom.
Tom: See that new high rise? (Tom points into the distance.) There used to be a bunch of brownstones on that block. That’s where I grew up.
Charlie: Do you still live in the area?
Tom: No, I live in mid town now. I come back here every morning to jog before going to work. I was just thinking, there seems to be some truth to that old saying “you can never go back home”.
Charlie: Can’t go home huh? Hmm…I disagree, for that is where I’m headed. I’m going home to see my Cora.
Tom: Cora? Is that your wife?
Charlie: Yes she is. She’s been gone two years now getting things ready.
Tom: Two years? I can’t imagine being apart from my wife that long. You do stay in touch I suppose?
Charlie: Yeah, I talk to her almost every day, and sometimes, she will even call me in the night.
Tom: Well all that sounds great, but why such sad look? I mean if you are going to see your wife…?
Charlie: Tom; it’s like this. We got married in 1943 just before I went off to war. I came home in 1945. We’ve been married 61 years, but these last two years apart have been very hard (Tears well up in the eyes of Charlie)…. you’ll understand someday how I feel.
Tom: My wife and I have been married almost two years and there is nothing that could ever keep us apart; I don’t think I could even live if Leah and I were apart for two years. By the way, if you don’t mind me asking, what is that that you are holding in your hand? (Charlie opens his hands to reveal a small music box.)
Charlie: Oh! This is what I brought home to Cora from Germany after the war ended. (Charlie lifts the lid) It used to play the sweetest song, but it stopped playing when Cora left, and for the last two years, it has set on the mantel of regret.
Tom: Mantel of regret?
Charlie: Yes a mantel of regret, but that’s a long story, and I am running short of time, but in nutshell, there are things in this life that I promise you will live to regret. If you live long enough, you will then understand, but remember this, you can never love too much.
Tom: Do you mind if I have a look at that music box? I’m pretty handy at fixing things.(Charlie closes the lid of the box and pull slightly away)
Charlie: Oh no, I can’t do that. I’m taking this back to Cora. I can’t wait to see the look on her face when I give it to her.
Tom: That’s fine, I understand.
Charlie: I’m sorry Tom; it’s just that it’s so special to Cora. I remember when I gave it to her. She sat for hours listening to the song that this little box played.
Tom: What song did it used to play?
Charlie: Beethoven’s Fur Elise, and from that day, Cora called me “THE MUSIC MAN”, she said that that I had put a song in her heart that not even death could take away.
(lights soften on Tom and Charlie and dimly lit in the background appears Cora speaking to Charlie in an ethereal voice…Charlie gazes now into the distance as he and he alone hears Cora’s voice)
Cora: Charlie, honey, oh sweet Charlie, I have missed you so much. Everything’s in order dear and its time to come home.(Charlie’s eyes brighten, and a soft smile comes to his face)
Charlie: Cora? Is that you?
Cora: Yes Charlie, it’s me, but there is one thing that I want you to do before you come home please. Will you give Tom the music box? I’m ready for you now Charlie, come to me. (Charlie nods his head in agreement with Cora and turns to Tom.)
Charlie: Tom, I just spoke with Cora. (Tom looks a little puzzled) She said that I was to give this to you. She said that the gift of music will always be in her heart and she wants to share this with you and Leah.(Charlie stretches out his arm and hands Tom the music box.)
Tom: Are you sure Charlie? I mean, well, what I am trying to say is that this means so much to you both.
Charlie: Take it. Give it to your wife and tell her that if she will listen real close, she might, just might hear that once sweet melody play.
Tom: Thank you so much Charlie. Let me at least give you something for it. I don’t have any cash on me right now, but if you will give me your address, I’ll be glad to send you a check in the mail.
Charlie doesn’t answer and when Tom looks up from the box he sees Charlie slumped on the bench. He reaches over and shakes Charlie by the shoulder but realizes that the light is forever gone from his eyes. He then reaches for his cell phone and calls 911. The lights go bright around Charlie and then fade to black.
Tom: 911? (Chokingly) This is Thomas Page. I’m at the Westside Park. I believe an old man on a park bench just passed away. Yes, what was that, yes I will wait no problem, thank you.
(Tears well up in Tom’s eyes now as he lifts the small lid of the music box, and it begins to play Fur Elise. Inside the box are two gold wedding rings. Tom with tears streaming down his face takes out the rings and cups them in his hand. He Then looks toward the heavens and proclaims.)
Tom: Have a safe journey Charlie. Give Cora my best, for she was right, you are “THE MUSIC MAN”. You have put a song of love and understanding in my young heart that will never leave. Goodbye my friend, Goodbye. (Lights fade to black as the song of the music box continues to play.)