OCEANIC: A Step Ahead By Matt Powers

Word: OCEANIC
Word Count 453

A Step Ahead
By Matt Powers

AT RISE: Todd stares at a small headstone in a graveyard.
TODD
I wanted to be a great dad. I never wanted to raise my voice. Never lose my cool. It didn’t turn out that way. I’m sorry.

(Beat. Enter Ike.)

No one ever tells you how hard…
IKE
You know that person died in 1990.
TODD
Oh. Yeah. I’ll get back to work.
IKE
What’re you doing?
TODD
(Pause) Rehearsing my lines.
IKE
You…in some sort of play?
TODD
You could say that.
IKE
You know…
TODD
I know it looks weird. I thought I was alone. I’m sure there’s plenty of things you do when you think you’re alone.
IKE
(Finishing his thought) I was in a play once.
TODD
Oh.
IKE
Yup.
(Beat.)

TODD
I’m not in a play. I have these thoughts sometimes, what-if scenarios, that I lose myself in. What if I lost my wife? What if my son was killed? So I prepare. And why not, right? The whole world is a sea of problems. Just look at this place. A sea of green strewn with boxes and corpses. Don’t get me wrong we do a great job of making it look nice, but underneath…We never know. You know? I’m sorry. I miss him.

IKE
Who?
TODD
(Pointing to the marker) Dad.
(Beat.)

His favorite line was, “The readiness is all.” Said it all the time. (Laughs to himself) When I was a kid, we went to Friendly’s for ice cream. One day he damn near jumped in the booth and took up a spoon like a sword, pointed at the waitress, and said “The readiness is all.” I laughed so long I forgot about ice cream. He was ready for anything. Broken carburetors. Cold camp nights. Mom’s terrible lasagna. Not like me, but I try. Try to imagine grief deeper than mine.
(Pause.)
IKE
Hamlet.
TODD
What?
IKE
That line is from the play Hamlet.
TODD
It is?
IKE
Yup.
TODD
Huh.
IKE
You should read it.
TODD
Thanks.
(Ike nods and starts to leave.)
What if I don’t understand it?
IKE
You will. When you’re ready.
TODD
This doesn’t get easier.
IKE
No. (pause.) No matter how much you prepare for a storm at sea, how much you expect it, when it does happen you’re never really ready. But, if you hadn’t prepared, you’d be dead. So there’s that.
TODD
Right.
IKE
Cold comfort. But that’s life.
TODD
(After some time) Right.
(Beat.)
IKE
Hey…if you’d ever like to run lines with me, I’d be happy to help. I can be a script tyrant when needed.
TODD
Yeah?
IKE
Yeah.
TODD
Thanks. I’d like that.
IKE
Anytime. And who knows? Maybe you’ll learn Hamlet.

Curtain.

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