(We open right back where we left off, at Louie’s as the remaining four Bowery Boys join the party.)
Louie: (He gulps) Slip, I'm sorry! I told him not to drink so much, but one drink lead to another, and...
Slip: *Groans* He gets tipsy on ONE drink! *looks around* Now, where'd he go?
Sach: I hope he didn't run away!
Butch: He's probably hiding somewhere.
*Chuck peeks out slightly from under a booth and ducks back in.*
Sach: (Points to the booth) There he is, Chief! He's playin' hide n' seek!
Slip: *Smirks* Thanks, Sach! *looks under the booth* Chuck, c'mon out...
*Chuck pushes as far back under as he can.*
Slip: Chuck, get out here!
Sach: (He leans under the booth) We ain't gonna hurt ya, Chuckie!
Butch: Well, some of us ain't.
Chuck: *Wiggles his feet, which are extended in front of him* No!
Sach: Ain't your neck gettin' sore, bendin' under that table?
Chuck: No, silly! I'm not as tall as you!
Sach: Well, I know that! (Frowns) Chuckie, if ya come out, Louie'll give ya a cookie.
Chuck: *Wiggles his feet again* What kinda cookie?
Louie: (Mutters) If he comes out, I'll give him a gallon of black coffee.
Sach: Uhh...chocolate chip!
*Chuck's feet disappear. He pokes his head out, looking hopeful.*
Chuck: Chocolate chip?
Louie: Yeah! There's a plate of chocolate chip cookies right over by the door!
*Chuck darts out from under the booth, looking for the cookies.*
Louie: (Leads him over to plates of cookies on a table) They're right here, my boy. (Mutters to Slip) I'll get him the coffee.
Slip: *Nods* Take all ya want, Chuckie.
Sach: We'll split 'em. (He starts loading cookies onto his plate)
*Slip goes to help Louie with the coffee.*
Slip: Louie, what happened ta him? :P
Louie: He came over to me. He seemed really upset, really angry. Kept asking for champagne. I gave it to him. I shouldn't have, but I didn't think it would do this!
Slip: He overheard us talkin' about him.
Louie: Talkin' 'bout what? He's a famous playwright now!
Slip: He thinks we wanna change him. We're just tryin' ta get him ta open up more. Ya know, not be such a tight ass...sorry.
Louie: That's all right. Why would he think that? He's a nice boy. Why would we want to change him?
Slip: We were tryin' ta figger out why his evil side came out like it did during the play.
Louie: His evil side came out? I thought that was good acting!
Slip: *Sighs* No, it wasn't actin'. Sheila and Zelda got into his head and somehow separated his evil side from his good side.
Louie: They separated his evil side? That's who was onstage? How is that possible?
Slip: I don't know how, Louie. They keep goin' ta him cuz they know he's still dealin' with things.
Louie: (Nods) He's so sensitive. He doesn't know how to keep 'em out like you n' me.
Slip: He can't help it. We just wanna help him learn how to fight them off. Okay, so maybe what he overheard us sayin' was the wrong ta go about things, but we needed ta talk it out, y'know?
Louie: (Nods) I understand that. My mama always did say that it was better to talk problems out.
Slip: Louie, I'm at a loss. He's my own brother an' I just dunno what ta do ta help him. I need help.
Louie: You know I'll do whatever I can for all of you. Ma Kelly, too, an' the girls. Not to mention, all of you have parents and relatives you can talk to. Is there anything the girls or I can do now?
Slip: Do you have any suggestions? You know I'm hardly ever at a loss for ideas, but this has me stumped.
Louie: Have you gotten him to write out his feelings? That's what he does best.
Slip: We haven't really had the chance to ask him that. Would you ask him to, Louie?
Louie: (Nods) I could try, but I'll see if we can sober him up first.
Slip: A good place ta start.
Louie: You go spend time with Sally. She misses you.
Slip: *Gives Louie a real smile* Thanks, Louie. I dunno what I'd do without ya.
Louie: Have fewer people to owe IOUs to.
Slip: Yeah. *pauses and gives Louie a kiss on the forehead, then goes over to Sally*
Louie: (He goes over to Chuck, who is now at a booth with Sach and Whitey) Chuck?
Chuck: *Looks up, much calmer now; gives a tired smile* Hi, Louie.
Louie: Chuck, I'd like to talk to you in the back room.
Sach: Yeah. Why don't ya chat with Louie? He might give ya more coffee for ya head.
Chuck: Okay, Louie. *pats Sach's arm as Whitey helps him out of the booth; he claps Whitey's shoulder & goes to Louie, swaying a little*
Louie: (He sighs and takes Chuck's arm as best he can) I should never have given you all those glasses of champagne.
Chuck: *Makes a face* How many did I have?
Louie: (Sighs) Six, I think. You kept asking for them, and I knew I shouldn't have given them to you, but you're an adult, and...well, you were acting like you needed them.
Chuck: *Bows his head* Sorry.
*They walk into the back room where Louie sits Chuck on the cot set up there & then turns back to close the door.*
Louie: It's partially my fault. I shouldn't have given you so many. I never was much of a bartender.
Chuck: *Puts his head in his hands* I took advantage of that.
Louie: Don't start in on yourself! Trust me, that does no one any good. Have you thought of writing your feelings down?
Chuck: *Moves his chin into his palms* I haven't been thinking about much lately. *looks up at Louie* Did someone tell you what happened to me?
Louie: Slip told me.
Chuck: *gives a slight nod* I thought he would.
Louie: Chuck, you're a good writer. Writing is how you think things through.
Chuck: After that play, I'm a little afraid to, now.
Louie: You should never be afraid of your gifts, Chuck my boy. (He hands Chuck a pad of paper and a pencil from the table) Here. I use these to keep inventory.
Chuck: *looks up at Louie again; his eyes a little glazed* I can try... *he turned to the pad and began scribbling on it*
*Chuck concentrates on his writing. His hand, however, reacts poorly to the alcohol he'd ingested. His handwriting suffers, becoming angular and shaky, but he is writing. He props his forehead in his free hand, almost holding it up as he wrote with the other.*
(Louie putters around the room, trying to give him space.)
*Chuck groans, unhappy with his handwriting, but he keeps going.*
(Louie starts to peek over Chuck's shoulder, but then decides that would distract him too much. He returns to shelving canned fruit...but every now and then, he'll lean over to try to catch a glimpse of what Chuck wrote.)
*Chuck doesn't notice Louie trying to peek. He's too busy just trying to write and write legibly. He groans again at the messy look of it, which is also when he realizes he's having grammar issues. While Louie's back is turned, Chuck Frisbees the pad onto the floor behind the older man and tips over onto the cot, his face buried in the pillow.*
Louie: Chuck? Chuck, what's wrong? (He hurries over to the young man)
Chuck: *Turns his head to face Louie; he frowns* I can't...my hand and brain, they won't... *sighs and puts his fingers to the bridge of his nose*
Louie: You need more coffee. I'll get you some.
Chuck: *Sits up a little* Louie, wait, no more coffee, please. I feel like I'm floating away already.
Louie: Is there anything I can do to help you now, then?
Chuck: Just...sit next to me.
Louie: Ok. (He sits next to Chuck, trying to stay upright on the tippy cot)
Chuck: *Rests his head on Louie's shoulder; he speaks, but not technically to Louie* What did I ever do to deserve these problems? Everybody says how nice and courteous I am. I mind my own business. I wouldn't hurt a fly!
Louie: I often ask myself the same thing when all of you are hitting me up for ice cream sodas you can't pay for.
Chuck: I'm just so tired. It feels like nothing's ever gonna go right. I'm trying to stay on the bright side, but it's really tough.
Louie: It's not always easy for me to stay on the bright side when all of you are throwing IOUs in my face, either. I know how you feel, Chuckie.
Chuck: I always liked it when dad called me Chuckie. *pauses and sniffs* I miss that.
Louie: You miss your dad, don't you? I miss my dad. He never left the old country. Lived and died there.
Chuck: *Whispers* Yeah, I really miss him. *his voice cracks* I love Ma, but I really miss Dad.
Louie: I miss mine, too. I can't even call him or send him a postcard. Jews...we weren't highly regarded in the old country. My brother had to hide his religion to get a good position in the military.
*Chuck just wipes at his eyes with his palm.*
Louie: That's why I wanted to come here. I could practice my religion and get a real job and make money, and no one could tell me that I could or couldn't do those things.
Chuck: *Whispers* That's all I wanna do.
Louie: And there's no one tellin' ya that you can't do those things but you. You're the only one holdin' yourself back.
Chuck: *Lifts his head and looks at Louie with wet eyes* Am I holdin' myself back?
Louie: (Nods) Yeah.
*Chuck bows his head and wipes his eyes again.*
Louie: Why don't you try writin' your feelin's again tomorrow?
*Chuck nods, not trusting his voice, and swipes at his eyes again. He leans against Louie.*
Louie: Are you up for going back to the party? Rachel's out there. You really should talk to her, too.
*Chuck shakes his head. He really wants to talk to her, but not just yet.*
Louie: Well, maybe you should talk to the other boys first.
Chuck: *Shakes his head harder; whispers, his voice cracking* Jus' few more minutes...
Louie: Why don't you come back out here? Maybe we could just get you some water, and you could talk to some of the other boys.
*Chuck sniffs and wipes his eyes. He looks really tired and care-worn.*
Louie: Come on. It might help to be around the others. (He leads Chuck out to the main room as we fade out)