The Church Of St. Luke In the Fields

Author | Jim Shankman

Cast:

Jonah and Sally, two New York City prep school seniors, both troubled souls.

Place: a bench on the grounds of St. Luke In The Fields in Greenwich Village. 

Time: late afternoon in the fall.

(At rise: Jonah is sitting on a park bench in the courtyard of St. Luke’s. Sally enters.)  

JONAH
Oh. (Pause.) Hey.  

SALLY
Hi.  

JONAH
What?  

SALLY
Nothing. I wasn’t sure if we were speaking to each other.

JONAH
Apparently we are.

SALLY
Ok. What I meant was –

JONAH
I know what you meant.  

SALLY
Mind if I sit here?

JONAH
You sure you can handle it?

SALLY
I can handle it. What’s that supposed to mean?

JONAH
I don’t know, it just means what it means.  

SALLY
Fine, I’ll go. What are you even doing here?  

JONAH
Field trip.  

SALLY
Yeah right.

JONAH
I was thinking about maybe going home and then again I was also thinking about maybe not going home.

SALLY
Oh yeah?

JONAH
What are you doing here?

SALLY
We belong here.  

JONAH
St. Luke’s? Oh you worship here? This is your house of worship?

SALLY
My parents do.

JONAH
Right.

SALLY
I do stuff here. After school sometimes.  

JONAH
Like what?

SALLY
Just stuff. They have these programs. And you can get involved. Or not.  

JONAH
I bet it looks great on your transcript.

SALLY
No.

JONAH
No, I just meant. 

SALLY
I know what you meant. Why don’t you want to go home?

JONAH
No reason.

SALLY
Aren’t they gonna like miss you?  

JONAH
Yeah they’re gonna miss me completely. That’s exactly what they’re gonna do.

SALLY
So mind if I sit? I’m early.  

JONAH
Fine.

SALLY
I thought I was the only one who knew about this place.

JONAH
Used to play on the swings over there when I was a kid. Playdates.

SALLY
I used to come out here with a bottle of Jack sometimes, actually it was a bottle of snapple but it had Jack in it. Don’t look at me like that.  

JONAH
What does it mean when you feel like you’re about to scream at everybody all the time?

SALLY
I think it probably means you’re stressing.

JONAH
Like today I almost went off on Weiss and punched him in the face and he’s my broski.

SALLY
What happened?

JONAH
I don’t know. Nothing. He said something.

SALLY
What?

JONAH
I don’t even remember. And Mr. Kohler with his freakin’ History of Communism, he gave us all the exact same grade in Euro Civ and I should have had a 99 and he says hey you all get and 80 cause that’s Communism, everybody gets the same. I want to tear his fucking head off.  
(Sally laughs at this.)
It’s not a joke. He’s a jackass. Why am I so goddamn angry all the time?

(Silence. Sally puts her head on his shoulder.)

JONAH
Hey could you not….

SALLY
What? Sorry.

JONAH
I just, you know, I really came out here to be alone.

SALLY
Fine. You can be alone on that side and I’ll be alone on this side.  
(Pause.)

JONAH
Can I tell you about this thing that happened?

SALLY
I thought you wanted to be alone.

JONAH
I do but since you’re here.

SALLY
What happened?

JONAH
You’re not going to freak?

SALLY
No. What is it?

JONAH
I had this dream.  

SALLY
You want to tell me a dream?

JONAH
Yeah.

SALLY
I think I can handle that.

JONAH
Well I was on this cruise ship in the middle of the ocean—

SALLY
When was this?

JONAH
In my dream.

SALLY
No, when did you have the dream?

JONAH
I’ve had it a couple times.

SALLY
Oh.

JONAH
And somebody fell overboard from this boat and I threw the life preserver thing over the railing and I was trying to save their life only I couldn’t see who it was in the water.  

SALLY
Yeah, that’s creepy.

JONAH
Yeah, and then I got a tug on the other end of the line so I started hauling them in with all my strength. And it was very emotional which is unusual because I am not an emotional person, but I was screaming and shouting and cursing and crying and I was hauling them in hand over hand and my hands were burning and the rope was cutting me and I couldn’t see who it was I was trying to save and every muscle in my body was on fire and my arms felt like lead like they were about to fall off and just when I finally had them all hauled into the boat and I was going to see who it was…. I let go. I let go of the rope and they fell back into the water--- 

SALLY
Ooooh.

JONAH
Yeah.

SALLY
That’s awful.

JONAH
Yeah, and the boat sailed away and they disappeared into a little dot on the waves and they were lost at sea.  

SALLY
Wow.

JONAH
Yeah, and then what’s weird is I started to laugh. And I was laughing hysterically. I was laughing my fool head off. And I woke up laughing. I mean I never woke up laughing in my life. I mean isn’t that weird?

SALLY
So who was it?

JONAH
Well that’s the whole thing. I mean I just have no idea.

SALLY
Why not?

JONAH
Well it could be anybody. My mother, my father, my sister. It could even be you.

SALLY
Me?

JONAH
Sure why not.  

SALLY
What about you? 

JONAH
Me?  

SALLY
Yeah.  

JONAH
You think it’s me?

SALLY
I don’t know.

JONAH
No that’s ridiculous. That makes no sense at all.

SALLY
Fine fine.  

JONAH
No why would you say that?  

SALLY
I don’t know I just thought….

JONAH
What….?

SALLY
I don’t know.  

JONAH
Excuse me but that is a totally perverse and fucked up interpretation of my dream, ok?

SALLY
Ok fine.

JONAH
Last time I tell you a dream.

SALLY
Ok I’m sorry.  

JONAH
Save if for my shrink. It’ll make his day.

SALLY
You see a shrink?

JONAH
No. Why would I see a shrink?

SALLY
Look I gotta go.

JONAH
Ok ok.

SALLY
I have this meeting.  

JONAH
Here at St. Luke’s?

SALLY
Yeah.

JONAH
Right now?

SALLY
Yeah.

JONAH
Dude, there is only one meeting at St. Luke’s on Friday afternoon. And everybody knows what it is. It’s common knowledge.

SALLY
Yeah Well. That’s my meeting. 

JONAH
That’s your meeting?

SALLY
I was up at Harvard at the Summer Academy…

JONAH
Oh yeah? I was thinking of going there this summer.

SALLY
Yeah, and I started having these attacks where ---

JONAH
American history?

SALLY
French and Philosophy.

JONAH
Seriously?

SALLY
Yeah, listen, and I had these attacks where I would wake up in the middle of the night and I would be sweating like a pig and my heart would be pounding and my vision would be all blurry and I was having these major panic attacks. Like anxiety disorder only I didn’t know it.  

JONAH
Did you have disassociation?

SALLY
Well the worst part was I’d get this weird thing where I had this feeling like I wasn’t me, like my body was dissolving and the part of me that was me was like draining away. And I would curl up in the bed with my arms around my knees and cry hysterically till it went away. One time it lasted for like hours and I had no idea who I was or where I was or what was going on except that everything was all wrong and nobody could help me.

JONAH
Yeah that’s called disassociation. Didn’t you have a roommate?

SALLY
My roommate drank Jack Daniels and passed out every night.

JONAH
Oh.

SALLY
So I started drinking Jack and passing out.  

JONAH
That’s pretty fucked up.  

SALLY
Yeah I had a really bad summer. And Fall. And when my parents finally figured it out they were like “Oh your grades your grades” (like they could care less about my mental health) “they’ll look at your transcript and every school will know what it means.” And I was totally a mess, so they made me promise to go to the meetings because they thought it would scare the hell out of me. 

JONAH
Alone?

SALLY
No they went too. It was either that or a camp in the Berkshires with no windows. 

JONAH
Yeah I heard of that place. Why don’t I know about this?

SALLY
We kinda lost touch, didn’t we?

JONAH
What about the panic attacks?

SALLY
They put me on Xanax.

JONAH
Sounds like fun.

SALLY
It’s not.  

JONAH
If you ever want to sell some….

SALLY
I don’t.

JONAH
Weiss takes it for tests.

SALLY
So take his.

(A moment.)
JONAH
So where are they?

SALLY
I go by myself now.

JONAH
They make you go by yourself?

SALLY
No I just go cause….I don’t know. I just go.

JONAH
So what’s it like?  

SALLY
None of your business.

JONAH
Right. Exactly. I have my problems. You have your problems. Nobody’s really interested in the other guy’s problems.  

SALLY
They teach you this one thing, I mean, you learn one thing, I mean the first thing you learn, if you learn anything, and believe me there are people there who clearly do not have the capacity to learn anything anymore, like old dogs you know.

JONAH
Yeah, right. 

SALLY
You have to admit you have a problem. You have to stand up in front of everybody and say you have a problem.  

JONAH
And then what?

SALLY
They applaud.  

JONAH
God, that’s ridiculous.

SALLY
Well I stopped.  

JONAH
Going?

SALLY
Drinking.

JONAH
Ah ha.

SALLY
Yeah. You should try it.  

JONAH
Drinking?

SALLY
No.

JONAH
What?

SALLY
J-Dog. Admit you have a problem.  

JONAH
Will you applaud?

SALLY
I might. 

JONAH
You know excuse me for living but I have had just about enough of everybody telling me what is wrong with me and what my problem is when in fact they are the problem not me.  

SALLY
I’m the problem? Oh excuse me I didn’t know I was the problem.

JONAH
See like right now.  

SALLY
What?

JONAH
I feel like I am going to….ahhhhh.

SALLY
It’s ok. I’ll shut up.

JONAH
No it’s not. What’s ok about it? It’s fucked up, man.  

(Silence.)

SALLY
How’s your sister?

JONAH
She talks about you all the time. How’s your girlfriend, she says. She’s not my girlfriend, I tell her. Ok she says how’s your friend who’s a girl.  

SALLY
No she doesn’t. She hardly speaks. She’s autistic, isn’t she. I mean you should have mentioned that, don’t you think? Before you invited me over? Like isn’t she supposed to be in an institution?
(A moment.)

JONAH
So these are all your colleagues?

SALLY
No these are the dealers.

JONAH
Seriously?

SALLY
Second best place to score is outside the meeting. They’re like vultures.

JONAH
What’s the first?

SALLY
Outside the rehab center at St. Vincent.

JONAH
You know this?

SALLY
You learn a lot.
(Silence.)
I’m sorry about Saturday. It just kinda….  

JONAH
Yeah it kinda did. Like I said, we all have our own…

SALLY
It’s just that I didn’t…. I wasn’t expecting….

JONAH
Yeah, expect the unexpected, that’s my new ad campaign.

SALLY
She scared me. She’s kind of scary. She’s like an alien life form.

JONAH
Could we leave her out of it.  

SALLY
How do we leave her out of it?

JONAH
I don’t know I don’t know but I just think we should try. Ahhhhhhh! Goddammit. Goddammit.  

SALLY
What?

JONAH
See like out of nowhere….

SALLY
Is it?

JONAH
Like all day long. I can’t go home like this.  

SALLY
Look the thing is, I have to go. If I miss this meeting. You want to come?

JONAH
No. Isn’t it members only?

SALLY
No. It’s really for any kind of addiction.

JONAH
What does that mean? What’s my addiction? I’m so straight I’m a laughingstock.  

SALLY
You’re not a laughingstock. 

JONAH
I am not addicted. I do not have an addictive personality. I took that test. In Health.  

SALLY
So did I and I had blood alcohol 2.0

JONAH
So what do you do? You stand up there and you….

SALLY
You ask for help.  

JONAH
That’s ridiculous. That’s just totally ridiculous.

SALLY
Yeah maybe. Hey I gotta go.  
(She leans in to give him a kiss.)

JONAH
Hey could you not….I’ve already got a mother.

SALLY
I wasn’t being your mother. Jesus. I was just saying goodbye.  

JONAH
Sometimes I want to kill her.  

SALLY
Jonah?

JONAH
They say it’s perfectly natural. It’s a normal human response. Rage is human. Fantasy is human. It’s just a fantasy. 

SALLY
Right.

JONAH
I would never do it.

SALLY
No of course not.  

JONAH
But I have this urge. These urges.  

SALLY
I think you should come with me.  

JONAH
I don’t need your help. I don’t need your intervention. It’s not a reality show. It’s my life.  

SALLY
Wow I guess so. Guess I was really wrong about that.
(She goes.)

JONAH
Goddammit. Godammit.  

(Blackout.)


About the Author | Jim Shankman is a playwright, novelist and actor. His play Heartless Bastard had its world premiere in August 2017 at HERE in NYC. His musical Billy And The Killers had its world premiere at HERE in November, 2017. The Screenwriter Dies Of His Own Free Will won the Award for Outstanding Excellence in Playwriting in the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival. Suicide Math had a successful run in the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival. He performed his solo piece Kiss Your Brutal Hands in the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. Alien Child: staged readings at The New Group and The Abingdon Theatre and a workshop production at T. Schreiber Studio. Sleep With Me (a play with music): workshop production at The Emerging Artists Theatre Notes From A Page Festival. His novel Tales Of The Patriarchs is available at Amazon.com. BA from Princeton in Philosophy, MFA in Fiction from the Writing Program at Sarah Lawrence College.