A Scene With Howard and Jeff



Jeff knocks lightly and enters through a stage-left door to find Howard sitting at a desk center-stage. Howard glances up but goes right back to sifting through papers on the desk, making notes on some.

HOWARD: You’re late.

JEFF: You know where I’ve been tonight? Do you? I’ve been on a conference call to the West Coast with Nancy Fulton trying to learn about some of the particulars in producing for stage and film.

HOWARD: Good for you. She does a very good job.

JEFF: She does actually. But how come I had to go to somebody else to try to learn to do what you should have taught me, oh, I don’t know, about twenty years ago?!

HOWARD: Do you see all those LinkedIn notifications up there in the top right corner of the screen?

Howard points to the ceiling above stage-left.


JEFF: Yeah, so?

HOWARD: You know why they’re popping up there?

JEFF: Yeah, because I just sent invitations to connect to all the people in my contact list. I kind of did it on impulse. I was looking up Nancy Fulton to connect with her on LinkedIn. I’m not even really sure how LinkedIn works.

HOWARD: Well, be that as it may, the point is, you got some results because you took some action.

Howard points toward the door.


HOWARD: But for tonight, it’s late.

Jeff walks dejectedly toward the door. Stops in his tracks, manifests a handheld mirror and marches back over to Howard. He holds the mirror in Howards face.


Tight shot of mirror. In the mirror we see a crying 12-year-old boy, kneeling by a bed.


JEFF: I’m late? I’m late? You’re late Howard!

Jeff smashes the mirror on the desktop.

JEFF: You’re about fifty! fucking! years! late!

Jeff punctuates each of these words with fist pounds to the desk. Shards of mirror are now embedded in the side of Jeff’s hand.


JEFF: You know who that little motherfucker is praying to, Howard? He’s praying to you! Desperately pleading for help, lost and alone in this shitty world that you created, a world full of vicious cruelty fueled by rampant stupidity. You left him hanging you piece of shit! You left him in pain so often and so much that he ended up doing every single thing he could find just to try to feel better enough to take the next step so he could continue to take emotional responsibility for all the fucked-up adults in his life who just seemed hell-bent on destroying his life! He was begging you Howard, begging! Where the fuck were you then?! In fact, where the fuck were you ten years before that, when this brilliant, imaginative, sensitive, BEAUTIFUL little creature needed you so badly? Were you on some kind of god vacation, Howard? What exactly was so important that had your attention so rapt that you couldn’t get off your lazy, complacent ass and do something, anything, to make people keep their you-damned hands off of him and out of him? What the fuck you sick pervert? Did you actually get off seeing him there naked, crying, begging? I wish to God I knew how to punish you appropriately Howard because at this point I just don’t see how I’ll ever get over all this.

Jeff turns to exit the stage. Turns back to Howard with an afterthought.


JEFF: You know what, Howard? I could almost forgive it. I could almost forgive it all if I thought you were simply too busy with more important things. If I thought you’d been off trying to square away the rest of your fucked up creation– but apparently you’re just a lazy fuck. During my lifetime, millions of innocent people have died in war– all sides usually mesmerized by the idea that they are being compelled by some version of you. People drop dead with disease while billions are spent to keep the greediest, nastiest people on earth living like royalty. You sit by and do nothing while racial minorities, sexual minorities, women, handicapped, the sick, the different, the smart, the kind, the sensitive, the queers in every single sense of that word get shat on by the rest of the world!

Jeff gestures wildly with his hands, slinging blood droplets onto the stage floor and walls.



JEFF: There is no kindness in you Howard! There is no justice in you Howard! You are a cruel and sadistic bastard yourself Howard so actually it is abso-fucking-lutely no wonder you allow those who are created so disgustingly in your image to thrive!

Jeff exits the stage with an earthshaking slam of the door but not before turning to the audience to angrily deliver one final line:


JEFF: (aside) See y’all tomorrow!




In the dark wings, Jeff stands quietly sobbing. Because of the darkness and because his eyes are flooded with tears, he can’t see anything. Suddenly, he realizes that Howard is standing patiently, silently, in front of him.


HOWARD: (consoling) Shhh, it’s okay. That was very good work.

Howard lifts Jeff’s right hand to see the embedded pieces of mirror, the blood. Howard blows lightly on the wounds. The glass splinters are vaporized, the wounds immediately healed. Howard hands Jeff and neatly folded clean white handkerchief. Jeff dries his eyes, blows his nose.


JEFF: (feeling better after the catharsis) Oh Howard, I need help. I’m just insane. I’ve done every single thing I know to get better for a quarter of a century now and I’m just tired of trying. I need you to restore me to some sort of sanity–if there ever was any sort of sanity there to begin with.

HOWARD: There was, buddy, there was.

JEFF: I need you to help me sort out this money thing. I absolutely have to figure out a way to sustain myself by using the talents you lent me. You have to help me be able to see the bigger picture, to have a greater understanding of all this, to find some peace. I need you to help me stop doing the myriad things I do as emotional Band-Aids, the things that end up just making all of it worse. I can’t do this on my own. If there was any amount of “bootstrap pulling” or “self-made-edness” that could make it happen, I would have already accomplished it. I’m not lazy Howard. I’ll do the work. I’m just so terrified. Help me with my fear, Howard. Help me do the things I need to do to move forward with this. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want to hurt people in that way. And somewhere deep inside there I think I might even not want to kill myself because I think I’m worthy of living, that I might actually have something to offer the world, if I can just get out of this prison. Spring me, Howard. I’m locked in here and I don’t have the key. I need help with the emotional distress, with the compulsive self-medication. Howard, I need help with the anger! I’m so very, very angry Howard. And you gotta do something about this depression! It’s disabling. Help me not to care about what people think, the people who can’t possibly understand how I got to this place. Please, Howard, take me to Hollywood or New York. Hell, take me to both. I have so much inside my heart, Howard. It’s so full it literally hurts. I can’t get past the fear. Please magic the fear away.

Jeff grabs Howard roughly by the labels, pulls their faces close together, looks deeply into Howard’s eyes.


JEFF: Please help me Howard. You’re the only one who can.

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