*We open at the hospital, where we see Slip fussing with his new sling in bed, while the other guys & Sally stand around the bed.*

Sally: (Shakes her head) Honey, leave it. Your arm isn't that bad, but you will need it for a while.

Louie: How long did Bernard say you'd be here, Slip?

Slip: Too long.

Chuck: Exactly how long is "too long," Slip?

Slip: Overnight, so Bernie can keep an eye on me. I think he's just tryin' ta get back at me for som'en I did when we was kids.

Sally: I doubt it. He's a doctor, Slip, and from what Josie says, a good one. He knows what he's doing.

Sach: See, Chief? You'll be out before you know it!

Butch: (Nods) And we'll all be waiting for you at Louie's. Sheila and Zelda said they wanted to meet you there after you got out of the hospital. Something about the Milk Fund money.

Slip: Oh, good, som'en to look forward to.

Louie: Gabe was around this morning. Did you see him on TV? He got an exclusive interview with Alabama O'Malley, Miss Saunders, and Miss London, along with a great review of our play. He said it was "really unique."

Slip: That's one word for it.

Butch: O'Malley's already at work on another play. Says it's going to be a comedy about a couple of guys who spend their lives trying to find the next big score at the local drugstore counter.

Sach: Ehh, who would wanna watch somethin' like that?

Slip: *Makes a face* What kinda idiots would do that?

Butch: Who knows? Anyway, that's what he said he's writin'. (Makes a face) And I have the feelin' we won't be appearin' in it. He didn't have too many nice things to say 'bout us.

Louie: I'm surprised they let him say those words on television!

Slip: Now I'm sorta wishin' I had seen it.

Butch: Blamed us for making a mockery of his magnum opus. He still thinks is script is the greatest thing ever.

Slip: It was the greatest som'en, all right.

Sach: It was dumb. It didn't make any sense, even before we ended it three times.

Butch: I liked those three endings. I think movies ought to have three endings, so you have a choice.

Chuck: It was fun placing blame on different characters.

Sally: And making sure the right women got the right men in the end. (Leans over Slip and gives him a kiss on the cheek.)

Slip: *Grins* Though I think yer aim was a little off there, Sal.

Sally: I'll aim right when we don't have an audience.

Sach: Awww!

Louie: (He looks left and right and pulls out a container) I snuck in some of my Chicken Matzo Ball soup for you, Slip. I know what hospital food tastes like. You need real, nourishing food.

Slip: *Grins widely* Now yer talkin', Louie! Yer a real life saver!

Louie: I wouldn't feed a dog hospital food. This should be a much better dinner. Maybe you could even share it with Bernard. He was always a nice boy.

Sach: Did Bernie jab ya a lot when he fixed your arm?

Slip: *Makes a face* Can we not talk about that.

Sach: Did they hear you up and down the hall when you screamed?

Chuck: *Sees the murderous look in Slip's eyes; turns to Sach* Sach, I really don't think Slip wants to talk about it.

Sach: Ok, ok! (Sighs) I can't wait for you to come home. I miss your Irish Stew. Chuckie's cooking isn't the same.

Butch: Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out what we had for breakfast this morning.

Louie: And I miss you around the store. It's too quiet in there.

Sally: (Smiles) And I miss our dates.

Slip: *Still making a face, though he's turning red* Quit yer blubberin'. Yer all prob'ly enjoyin' not havin' me around.

Whitey: *Shakes his head* That's not true, Chief! We do miss ya!

Chuck: Why would we say we miss ya if we didn't?

Sally: Slip, don't do this to yourself.

Louie: (Nods) You're blaming yourself again. Cut that out.

Sach: Chief, everyone's talkin' about the show...and most of the talk is good, other than it ran too long. People think we're funny!

Slip: Yeah, right.

Sally: (She cups Slip's face in her hands) Terrence Mahoney, you listen to me. What happened last night was NOT your fault. Those women are vicious, cruel, spoiled, and nasty. You are a better person than they could ever hope to be. Don't do this to yourself. You don't deserve it.

Slip: *Frowns* Maybe not, but old habitats are hard to break.

Sally: Well, it's time you started breaking them. Don't let these bitches hurt you. You're too good of a man for that.

Sach: Chief, she's right. Why do you think we call you "chief?"

Slip; *slight grin* Cuz I told ya you had to years ago.

Sach: Other than that. (Smiles) We think you're a great guy.

Butch: We value your leadership.

Sally: And your love.

Chuck: *Leans over close to Slip* Because you're a great brother.

Slip: *Grins* You even think of kissin' me, and yer gonna have a fat lip.

Chuck: *Backs off, but he's grinning* Nope, wasn't thinking that.

Sally: No, I'll do that. (She kisses him lightly on the lips this time) Better?

Slip: Much.

Louie: (Pats Slip on the shoulder) I have to get back to the store.

Slip: See ya later, Louie. An' bring more soup.

Louie: I will. You get better soon! Tell Bernard I said "hello."

Slip: I will, Louie.

Butch: (He turns to the others) Guys, I have somethin' I wanna say to Slip. Could we be alone for a few minutes?

Chuck: *Claps Butch's shoulder* Sure, Butch. We'll be right outside.

Sach: Sure! I wanna go to the cafeteria downstairs and get somethin' to eat, anyway. I'm starved!

Whitey: I'll go with ya, Sach!

Sally: I'll go see if I can find a magazine. (Kisses him again) I'll talk to you later, honey.

Slip: Okay, Sal.

(They all head out. Butch sighs and turns back to Slip.)

Butch: Slip...Chief...I'm really sorry. You shouldn't be blaming yourself. (Frowns) I'm the one who almost yanked your arm clean off. I deserve the blame.

Slip: Butch, I ain't blamin' ya. You didn't know what you were doin'. Yer a good guy, someone I can count on.

Butch: (Nods) Thanks, Chief. (Sighs) On one hand, I do miss bein' able to play. These days, I feel like I only play for you guys an' my folks.

Slip: An' maybe I haven't given you guys enough of a chance to do yer own things.

Butch: Chief, I do want to be with you guys. You're my friends... (shakes his head) ...no, you're my family. You're my brothers. (Shrugs) But even brothers have other things they do outside of the family. I just want to play music. That's all I ever wanted to do.

Slip: I ain't been a good friend or brother. You wanna play, so play. Don't let me hold ya back. I know yer still gonna be around.

Butch: Actually, I was thinkin' of lookin' for a job playin' piano for local saloons, or maybe even teachin' it to little kids. It's the one thing I really know, 'sides fightin'. (Smiles) But I'll always come back to you guys. You've always had my back. Chuck's my best friend, and you...I always looked up to you. When I was really little, you were one of my idols. You always seemed to know everythin'. There wasn't nothin' you couldn't handle.

Slip: *Sighs* Butch... that's nice ta hear, even if there is stuff I can't handle.

Butch: Ok, so you're human. I still look up to you. You're tough, you're smart, and you always come up with ideas.

Slip: You ain't kissin' me, neither.

Butch: Nahh. Sally would kill me, not to mention Jane.

Slip: Butch, like I said, yer a great friend, someone I can count on to be there for me. Ya got a lot of talent, an' I don't wanna see it wasted cuz of me. Let me know what ya decide on, okay?

Butch: (Smiles) Ok, Chief. (Pats him on the shoulder) Don't waste your talent, either. You got a good mind. Find some way to really use it.

Slip: *Sighs* I'd sure like to. I don't think ruler of the world is an opinion, though.

Butch: (Laughs) How about just a small corner of it? ;)

Slip: Think I'd like that.

Butch: You get better, Chief. We'll be waiting for you when you do. (As he heads out, Chuck heads in.)

Butch: He's all yours.

Chuck: You mean you left me a piece?

Butch: Are you kidding? There's a line waiting to talk to him going half-way around the building. I'd probably be jumped on if I didn't!

Chuck: Yeah, you're right. My mistake.

Butch: Good luck, Chuck! I'll be out in the waitin' room when you're done. (He heads out, leaving Chuck with his brother.)

Chuck: Hi, bro. How are you really feelin'?

Slip: *Shrugs his good shoulder* Like crap. Shoulder's still sore, I hate hospitals, and if I hadn't opened my big mouth, we wouldn't have gotten into this mess.

Chuck: Slip, don't start. You did the right thing. If they hadn't hired you, it would have been someone else who might have let them get away with that money.

Slip: We did stop 'em, so that's som'en.

Chuck: Exactly. It's more than "som'em." They were doing something wrong, Chief. They said that money was for the Milk Fund, and that's where it should go...where it needs to go. They're the last people who need it.

Slip: Yeah an' they sicced Butch on me an' made you start questionin' me.

Chuck: Ok, so they did mess with Butch. He would never have done that on his own in a million years. He's not like that. (Sighs) Slip, Zelda didn't put those thoughts in my head. I've been thinkin' 'bout them a lot lately.

Slip: So think about 'em out loud some more. I wanna know what yer thinkin'.

Chuck: Slip, I really like my copyboy job at the Examiner. It's a hundred times better than bein' some newsboy. I'd love to become a real reporter someday. Trouble is, you expect me to be at your beck and call even when I'm at work.

Slip: Butch said pretty much the same about me. I told him to do what made him happy, an' I'm gonna tell you to do the same thing.

Chuck: You can count on me to not try to tear your arm off, though. For one thing, I ain't strong enough. For another, I know you'd tear mine off in retaliation. (Sighs) And it's not just a matter of jobs. You have to learn to be more flexible...and to let us go. None of us are really kids anymore, Slip, even Butch. We aren't a bunch of children running around on the streets getting into mischief. We're adults. Most guys our age are married with six kids and a house in the suburbs. Now, I don't wanna get married anytime soon, or move away from the Bowery...but it's time we all admitted that we're growing up. Including you.

Slip: Me an' change don't exactly get along.

Chuck: You can learn, Slip. No matter what anyone says, you ain't stupid. You're far from stupid. You're one of the smartest guys I know. You just have to learn to roll with the punches as they come.

Slip: You of all people oughta know I don't do that well.

Chuck: (Pats his shoulder) Everyone can learn. We're all here to help you...even when you don't want it.

Slip: *Sighs* I could use the help.

Chuck: You'll get it. If not from me or Butch, from Whitey or Sach or Buddy or Junior or Sally, or even Louie. Just because we have other jobs doesn't mean we ain't still friends, Slip (smiles) or brothers.

Slip: It just means I can really be a pain in the ass sometimes. *grins* I hear what yer sayin', Chuck.

Chuck: That's how you are. I wouldn't know what to do without you pushin' me. None of us would be who we are without you pushin' us.

Slip: Someone's gotta keep you guys on yer toes.

Chuck: Exactly. That's what you're good at, Slip. That's your talent...and you're as much of a protege at it as Butch is with his music.

Slip: *Sighs* It don't help wit' the jobs, though.

Chuck: I think you're right in creating your own business. You have to be a boss, or you're not happy. You just need to find the right business. (Nods) And I'll write your first press book when you do.

Slip: Thanks, Chuck. An' I know I don't say it enough, but I'm glad yer my brother. I love ya, kid.

Chuck: Me too, Slip. You're the best big brother any guy could have.

Slip: Don't let that get out, though, hmmmm?

Chuck: (Laughs) Don't worry. I won't ruin your tough-guy reputation.

Slip: Anythin' else ya wanna tell me while I'm a captive audience?

Chuck: Yeah. Just remember that you have friends and a woman who loves you...people who are waitin' for you to get well. You're a pretty good guy. Don't be so hard on yourself. You ain't perfect, but you're a good friend and a good brother, and that puts you head and shoulders above Sheila Saunders and anyone else who tries to take a swing at us.

Slip: *Nods* I appreciate that, Chuck.

Chuck: You must. You actually said "appreciate" right. All those missed words are an act, aren't they? You know darn well what you're sayin'.

Slip: *Slight smirk* 'Course I know what I'm sayin'. Messin' up my words keeps people on their toes so I know if they're actually listenin' to me or not.

Chuck: (Grins) Sure. (He pats Slip on the shoulder) I've gotta get to the newspaper, but I'll visit you later tonight, ok?

Slip: I'll be here.

Chuck: I hope you feel better. (He heads out just as Sally comes in.)

Sally: (She has a copy of "The Wall Street Journal" tucked under her arm) Hi, honey. (Pulls up a chair next to him) I wish I could grab those bitches who did this to you and tear them into shreds. I can't stand seeing you like this.

Slip: Sal, we'll get back at them soon enough. *nods* That the Journal under yer arm?

Sally: Yeah. I always read it. (She pulls out a second copy) Yes, I brought a copy for you, too.

Slip: *Grins* Yer too good to me, Sal. *takes the paper and puts it down on the bed next to his leg.*

Sally: Wanna go dancing once you feel better? After all, it was your arm that got hurt, not your leg.

Slip: I'd love to, Sal. Soon as I get outta here. I got a feelin', though, yer sweet talkin' me before ya get down to what ya really wanna say to me.

Sally: First of all, I want to say that I'm proud of you. You handled everything that happened really well.

Slip: Ya think so?

Sally: Yes. The three endings idea was brilliant...and a lot more interesting than what was in the original script.

Slip: *Shrugs* We needed more time for the fellas to search for the money.

Sally: Slip, you're so intelligent. I wish there was a way I could help you find a job you could keep. You should be doing something with that good mind of yours.

Slip: Chuck said basically the same thing, but that I should be runnin' som'en of my own and not workin' for someone.

Sally: (Nods) That's what you do best. Chuck's a writer. Butch is a pianist. Sach is a chemist. You're a leader.

Slip: It's just figurin' out WHAT to do.

Sally: You'll figure it out. (She squeezes his hand) And you have all of us to help you. I'm not going anywhere. I wouldn't mind running a business of my own someday. I took business courses in school, but I don't want to just be some secretary. Maybe I'll own my own diner or soda shop, like Uncle Louie's place.

Slip: *sighs* I just feel like it ain't gonna happen. I can't even decide on what to try.

Sally: You have time. You're still pretty young, no matter how many jokes Sach makes about your age.

Slip: Thanks, I think. *sighs* Maybe I should've stayed in boxing.

Sally: I know you loved it, honey, but it's a brutal sport. Even the best can only take it for so long.

Slip: Yeah, but I never even gave myself a chance. I could've earn enough to put away and wouldn't be scraping by at least. An' I'd feel better about not knowin' what do now.

Sally: Well, you didn't. You didn't get into that accident on purpose. Accidents are accidents. It set you back, but it didn't stop you.

Slip: Yeah, it set me back an' I've been just draggin' along ever since.

Sally: That's not quite true. You've done a lot more than you think. You boys have stopped half the gangsters in the Bowery from causing many people harm.

Slip: I can't exactly make a livin' off of that.

Sally: Maybe you can. Have you thought of joining your brother at the newspaper? You did pretty well both times you tried that.

Slip: An' I ended up leavin' both times.

Sally: Maybe you can try again. We're in New York. Even with all the newspapers that have been shuttering, there's still lots of them around. And radio and TV needs newsmen, too.

Slip: I just dunno right now, Sal.

Sally: You think about it, ok? (She smiles) I really do love you, but if you're not ready for marriage yet...I can wait. I'm young.

Slip: I'll think about it. Trust me, it ain't you that's makin' me not ready, cuz I love ya, too.

Sally: No, I understand. It's a big decision for you...for both of us.

Slip: *Shakes his head* Y'know, sometimes I still can't believe how much ya like me. I ain't exactly the easiest person ta get along with.

Sally: I think I like you because I'm not, either. We're a lot alike.

Slip: How many times do I som'en that pisses you off versus you doin' som'en that pisses me off, hmmmm? I think the scale's tipped heavily towards what I do.

Sally: I'm not so sure about that. Sometimes, I think we're even. I can be a terrible shrew. Just ask Uncle or my girls.

Slip: All right, so we piss each other off equally. *picks at the sling* Guess I'm still just tryin' to figure myself out.

Sally: Most of us are, honey. That's part of what makes life exciting. You learn something new every day.

Slip: Y'know, yer really difficult to to be self-deprecating around.

Sally: (Grins) Your smarts are showing. You said that right.

Slip: *Shrugs* Ain't no one around to put on a show for. An' I know yer payin' attention.

Sally: I always pay attention to you. You're' just usually...well, you're usually caught up in some idea or the other.

Slip: Which I do a lot.

Sally: Well, it certainly makes things interesting around here.

Slip: Interesting. Yeah, yer bein' nice.

Sally: How about "fun, crazy, and downright dangerous?" I never know what wild story you guys and Uncle Louie are going to come to me with next!

Slip: It's that "downright dangerous" one that worries me.

Sally: Face it, honey. We Bowery folk just can't help getting involved...and getting into trouble.

Slip: More like in over my head. I don't know when to leave things alone.

Sally: If you're talking about last night, you did the right thing. (Shakes her head) You're still alive and you're not in jail, so you must be doing something right.

Slip: Until I screw up and get myself or someone else killed.

Sally: (Shrugs) You haven't yet.

Slip: That does not set my mind at ease.

Sally: Maybe it will set your mind at ease to know that I honestly don't think you were a bad director. I don't think it should be your first career choice, but you did your best with the material at hand. (Makes a face) Such as it was. I can't believe O'Malley was deluded enough to think that play was a masterpiece.

Slip: I ain't doin' any more directin'. 'Sides, I completely lost any concentration I had after the injury.

Sally: I don't think I'll ever be doing any more acting, either. I'm too willful to be a servant. (Sighs) Though I understand now why I wasn't your leading lady. (Makes a face) I wish that Sheila and Zelda would leave us all the hell alone. Butch spent most of last night upset. He even told Jane, though she took it really well. If this is anyone's faults, it's theirs. Theirs and their greed.

Slip: *Hods* Even though I was physically injured, they did worse to Butch. I told him I'd never blamed him for what happened. I know it's still botherin' him, though.

Sally: I hope they didn't really...hurt him more than in his head. He's a lot younger than the rest of us, and he really, truly loves Jane. He doesn't need that. He says he doesn't remember a lot about what happened.

Slip: I'm really hopin' he doesn't remember cuz what Zelda likes to do is bad enough. Gabe said Sheila's worse.

Sally: I've heard about what they like to do. If I tried repeating it here, the ratings for this story would go sky-high.

Slip: *Gives as innocent of a look as he can muster* It wouldn't be turned away, though.

Sally: Keep that thought in mind for after your arm heals.

Slip: I gotta wait that long?

Sally: You need to be in one piece for what I have in mind.

Slip: *Eyebrows go up* What DO you have in mind, hmmmm?

Sach: Chiefy! (He and Whitey barge in the room) We're done with our lunch! (He holds up a bag) And we brought you the leftovers!

Slip: *Blinks, distracted; turns to them* Leftovers?

Whitey: Yeah, they had some good stuff!

Sally: (Grins) Hi, Sach. (Pats Slip on the cheek) I'll tell you what I have in mind later, when you're out of the hospital.

Slip: *Turns back to her* But, Sal...

Sally: (She gives him a big kiss, then says) I'll see you later. I love you. (She picks up her newspaper and waves to Sach and Whitey on her way out) Later, boys!

Sach: (Waves) Bye, Sal! (Turns to Slip) So, did you and Sal have a nice talk?

Slip: *Eyes narrow* I am gonna kill you two.

Whitey: What'd we do?

Slip: Whadaya want?

Sach: We just wanted to bring you some real food and see how you're doin'. Everyone else got to talk to ya. You're my best friend. I was worried about 'ya.

Whitey: Yeah, Slip. You took an awful lot of abuse. We wanted to make sure you're okay.

Slip: *Sighs* Other than the fact I've lost my appetite and could really use a cold shower right now, I'm about as okay as someone with a separated shoulder could be.

Sach: You look good. Matter of fact, you look red. You been drinkin' a lot of spicy tomato juice?

Slip: No, Sach, it's just warm in here.

Whitey: *Shrugs* I thought it felt kinda cool myself.

Sach: Yeah. I'm freezin'! Anyway, Chief, we just wanted to say we both had a great time last night, even with all the running around.

Whitey: Yeah!

Slip: At least someone did.

Sach: Ok, so you got hurt. Ok, so Sheila got to Butch. Chuck told me that nasty Zelda didn't really get to him, and no one's mad at you, not even Louie. Well, except for that Alabama guy, but I think he's mad at everyone after last night.

Slip: An' you spent the whole show not knowin' what was goin' on! Ya didn't get one line right!

Sach: (Shrugs) So I'm not a great actor! I still had a great night. How often do we all get to go onstage together?

Slip: *Starts picking at the sling again* All right, other than all the crap we had to endure, it was sorta fun.

Sach: And that's what matters in the end. We all had fun with it and made some money, and the Milk Fund will be gettin' their money. (Smirks) An' we got to stick it to the bad ladies. (Pats Slip's hand) We'll be waitin' for you when you get out of the hospital, Slip. Me n' Whitey are your men. We ain't gonna leave ya, at least, not now.

Slip: I ain't sure if that's a comfort or a threat.

Sach: Well, whatever it is, just know that you've got people who care who are waitin' for ya.

Whitey: Absolutely, Chief!

Slip: Thanks, fellas.

Sach: Anytime, Chief. (He nods at the door) We're gonna get outta here, before Josie comes in and says visitin' hours are over. You have a good night, Chief!

Whitey: Night, Chief!

Slip: Night.

(The two head out. The camera moves back to Slip as he leans back in his bed. He looks at the sling, then at the chicken soup and the bag of leftovers and the newspaper...and he smiles a bit thoughtfully as we fade out.)