god loves ugly
A Play About Suicide in One Act
by bj draKe
by bj draKe publishing.
Cast of Characters
Derek: A man in his early 20s.
Dad: A man in his early 50s.
Present time, late night.
Audience is looking into Derek’s
On the back wall –middle-back stage-
there are three posters; Marilyn
Monroe, Jim Morrison and a poster of
James Dean smoking a cigarette against
from the 1955 movie “Rebel Without a
To the far-left of stage is
Derek’s bed, neatly made.
A nightstand is stage left; it has a
lamp and a glass half-full of dark
A few feet stage right of bed is an old wooden chair, worn in appearance.
Along back of stage is a dresser with four drawers and a mirror.
Taped to the top corner of the mirror is a picture of a middle-aged woman.
On the dresser are two orange pill
bottles and a rack of CDs.
To the right of the dresser is a
garbage can on the floor.
(DEREK is sitting on the edge the bed,
concentrated on the floor, lost in though.
His elbows rest on his knees. His palms
hold up his head.)
I wake up wondering if the dream has ended, or if it’s just beginning. Awake or asleep, I’m a passenger to the chatter-box narrator of my mind, who won’t let me speak. The voice that reminds me I’m not
I’m a passenger to the commentators of my mind. They criticize, mock, ridicule and downplay every choice I make. Until I swallow a sleeping pill, call in sick and go back to sleep. But, they still win. Those thoughts will always win. They don’t sleep. Eat. They don’t even have to pause for a breath …
(DEREK inhales deeply.)
in between a manic rant. word soup, my counsellor calls it. There is no point on arguing with these thoughts. They win. The more I resist, the louder they yell. Sometimes, people on the bus look at me oddly and I think they can hear what I’m thinking. And, they feel sorry for me, pity me as a survivor.
(slowly begins rolling up the left sleeve
of his sweatshirt, exposing a medical
bandage saturated in blood that’s
Why did you do it? Maybe I was bored. I have been isolated in this room for a while. I’ve ran out of books and watched what the internet has to offer. Then what? Now what? The boredom I’ve experience is what rallies seniors behind legalizing euthanasia. I’m only twenty-seven.
(slowly, gently massages bloody bandage,
staring at it in disbelief, disgust,
forgets to blink.)
It’s like …
It’s like …
When you’re a kid at the amusement park and you’re about to ride the last rollercoaster of the day and you think to yourself, while waiting in line …
after this the fun stops. After the seatbelt is unbuckled, you’re done. There’s nothing left. Nothing is new. There is no more excitement. It’s all been done before. No matter how hard you try to make the second and third time feel like the first, you’re only fooling yourself at best. It’s not fun, anymore.
(slowly begins unravelling the bandage
with his right hand.)
Cancer scares me. Always has. As a kid, I remember having to go to at least one funeral a year. It wiped out my relatives. I got used to it though. You go numb to something when exposed too often. The site of dead relatives laying lifeless inside a flimsy coffin made it hard to cry. I envied them. Applauded them, in a way. Their tragedy was over. Cut.
(finishes unravelling the bandage, wads
it into a ball and throws it towards the
garbage can. It unravels in the air. He
feels the fresh stitches along his wrist
and his hand keeps reaching, into his
pocket and grabs a cigarette. He flicks
the pack open and lifts it to his mouth,
bites out a cigarette. He drops the pack,
picks up the lighter and takes a long drag.
He holds the smoke in, deep. Exhales.)
I was smoking up to three packs a day. The way I looked at it, my relatives were getting cancer despite their genuine interest in life. Some of them hadn’t ever smoked a cigarette in their life. Seemed like an easy way out. Minimal effort and no one notices the slow suicide. It’s public until the show’s over.
(takes another long drag and exhales)
I smoked heavy for a year straight, until I realized everything other than my body felt the perils of nicotine. My blankets, clothes, and couches were all scared from dropped cigarettes. My teeth and my finger tips were tinged yellow, but I didn’t want to light myself to fire in my sleep, so I stopped.
(takes one last long inhale of the
cigarette and drops the butt into the
cup on his nightstand. The liquid
inside burns. Calmly, DEREK extends
his injured hand towards the glass.
Instead of picking it up, his hand
limply bangs the cup closer to the
edge. He keeps nudging it, until it
falls and shatters on the ground.
He watches the flame burn out and
drags a piece of glass towards him
with his foot. He bends over and
picks it up. He dries the piece
of glass off on his pants and drags
it across his bumpy stitches.)
I’m not sure if it was the sleeping pills, or some sort of natural tolerance I’ve built up against pain
But, it didn’t hurt. Not at all. I had one of the most intense adrenaline rushes I’ve ever experienced after the first cut, when bright red blood started rushing down my arm, puddling on the floor. That’s why I kept going. It was euphoric. And intense surge of energy flowed through my body.
(he pushes the glass down on his wrist
with more pressure. He holds it there
for a few seconds and releases it, let’s
out a sigh and throws the piece of
glass towards the garbage can.)
It’s funny how I didn’t want to cut too deep. I didn’t want to hurt myself. I tried to kill myself, but I’m worried about getting hurt.
(let’s out a forced, nervous laugh.
Slowly stands up from the bed and
makes his way towards the dresser.)
Now I might never be able to make a fist again. Permanent damage to the tendons. I guess you can’t do something wrong and expect there to be no consequences.
(stands in front of the dresser and
reaches out and grabs a bottle of
pills with his right hand and shakes
I should’ve known about the consequences of a botched attempt.
(makes eye contact with himself in
the mirror, quickly diverts stare
back to the bottle of pills, sigh.)
Debbie McGinister. The love of my life. Actually, she was more than the love of my life. She was my soul mate. Or, at least that’s what she always told me. I believed her. I had to. I didn’t know what a soulmate was, even. I didn’t think I had a soul, but she could see it, feel it and hear it’s heart beating in me.
But, everything good must come to an end, right?
(shoves the pill bottle into his pant
pocket. He reaches out to grab the
other bottle of pills on the dresser.
He reads the label and drops them
in the trash.)
After her friend, Becky, called me and told me it was over between me and Debbie, snickered and hung up before I could ask why.
She must’ve unplugged her phone.
(beat, hold back tears.)
And my life came to a standstill. Over. Done. The curtain has dropped. My stomach flipped. I was nauseated and I wondered if that was my broken soul producing those feelings. Then, it left. Flew away.
She discovered the beauty in me and stole it. Pinned it to a twig inside a scenic bell jar. Finders keepers, I guess.
(stares at himself in the mirror.)
I saw no reason to stay here. None. I couldn’t think of one. Everything had lost it’s meaning. Everything I touched felt dead. Maybe there was no life left in me.
(walks over to the wall and looks at
the poster of Marilyn Monroe.)
Debbie was beautiful. In a classic, effortless way. I told myself she was different from those other girls. She wasn’t. I only fell in love because she noticed me. Spoke to me. I trapped her for a few months. Guilted her into feeling like it was her responsibility to fix me. It’s their tendency to repair the hurt. Find the vulnerable and pull out the rotted roots. But, my scarecrow heart – or lack of one – scared her away. I was rotten.
(looks down at the ground, embarrassed.)
So, I swallowed a bottle of Tylenol that night and laid on my bed waiting for it to all end.
(rips down the poster of Marilyn
Monroe, crumbles it and tosses it
towards garbage can).
All that accomplished was giving me an ulcer that dad told me I’d have to “live with” because his insurance wouldn’t accept medical claims caused by failed attempts at suicide. It was my own fault and the excruciating pain was my punishment. That was polite of him, really.
(looks at his wrist while he rips
down the Jim Morrison poster,
crumples it against his stomach
and tosses it towards the garbage
Twelve in the afternoon on a school day when I regained consciousness. I woke up with a nostril full of vomit and tubes shoved down my throat and my arms strapped to a bed with wheels. Hovering over me was my father with a smirk and the smell of malt liquor on his breath.
(walks over to the mirror and carefully
grabs the photo of his mom. A smile
spreads, but as soon as he sees it in
the mirror he frowns and speaks in a
You spent so much time with your mommy in the kitchen
(beat, tears, still looking at picture.)
You’d think you know how to use a knife properly, kid.
(he puts the picture back.)
Jesus Christ. Then he tells me he’s going to “steal a smoke,” seeing as I’m finally awake.
(raises the picture to his lips and
kisses it. Wipes away a tear from
his face. Lowers the picture and
stares at it, reminiscing.)
She loved that weeping willow tree. It was her only escape from the hellhole he’d convinced us was home. ‘Til death do us part, or so it goes.
(Walks up to the poster of James Dean.)
She was the little innocent girl next door. She’d watch my dad and his buddy’s bullshit back and fourth in his parent’s driveway. She said she used to sit in her room and peak out the blinds, waiting for him to roll himself from under the muscle cars he’d work on. She’d have to fan herself down as she watched him wipe the sweat from his brow, his face covered in grease and grim.
Now all that’s left is the grime. That’s what you get for marrying the cool kid with no goals in life other than to drive fast, drink beers and party.
(rips down the Rebel Without a Cause
poster. He crumples it and tosses
it towards the garbage can).
She fucking loved that weeping willow tree, dad.
(trying to hold back tears.)
He used to complain that it kept her from doing her job in the house. Cleaning up after that fucking sloth, I guess. Or, cooking meals he’d reject after a single bite and crack open a can of Labatt’s, instead.
(he picks up the picture from the
One day I came home and she was crying in the kitchen. When I asked her why, she just pointed out the kitchen window, sobbing. She was always emotional, but this felt real. I looked out the window and her tree
(he begins shaking in anger)
that fucking weeping willow was laying on it’s side, the chainsaw still laying on the grass to cool. She was hysterical. It was where she’d go to relax with a book. Dad said it had to be done. There were crows beginning to nest in it and that’s a bad omen. I went outside to look for the nest. There was no nest. When I came back in he was complaining that he was hungry.
(walks towards the wooden chair and
sits down, slowly, gently, as if his
weight might collapse it. Places his
shoulders on his knees and rests his
head in his hands, hunched over with
his eyes closed.)
As I walked down the stairs later that night, I could feel the silence. Then I saw dad sitting on the stairs with two empty beers on the step beside him. He was shaking and mumbling to himself.
(His head falls out of his hands and
bops between his legs, as he rocks the
chair back and forth.)
I asked what was wrong and he told me that I’ll have to cook my own dinner.
(he removes his head quickly from his lap
and glances quickly towards the door, as
if something caught his attention.)
Before I could figure out what he meant, there was a ang on the door and the paramedics rushed in, along with a few cops.
She slit her wrist and was laying on the kitchen floor, dead. The potatoes still boiling on the stove.
(gets up and walks back towards the
dresser. Stares in the mirror for a
beat, puffs out his chest and
straightens his posture. He exhales
and returns to a defeated slouch. He
reaches for the top drawer and opens it.
He pulls out a rope that has been
knotted into a noose. He holds it up
against the light and looks at the
reflection in the mirror of him holding
it. He walks towards the wooden chair,
pushing it with his food, testing it’s
durability. He slowly sits down on the
chair and places the rope in his lap.)
I made this in grade six. Grade six! On the way to school that very same morning
the radio played Nirvana on repeat and after each song had ended the radio host was “saddened to inform listeners that Kurt Cobain’s body had been found in his Seattle home, early this morning.”
(dangles the rope beside him, staring
off into the void.)
I’d only just learned what suicide meant. Tommy Charlie, a kid a few years older than me who I’d never met, but will never forget, killed himself a few months before my hero took his own life. Hung himself in his bedroom closet. His soul had been broken by a girl he loved.
(begins swaying the rope. Builds
up momentum and then releases the
noose and it swings towards garbage
Not even three months later, I walk into class after learning about Nirvana breaking up to find out we have a Boys Scout leader teaching us how to tie knots today. We learned all sorts of knots, that day. But, I only remembered the noose. I asked why they’d teach kids to tie that knot without explaining the necessity of using a longer rope so you could fracture the different parts of the cervical vertebrae. If they’d had taught Tommy that, it might not have been so painful because when you don’t break your neck during strangulation, you suffocate to death. Regardless of how much you want to die, the body wants to breathe, which is why Tommy was found with gouge marks in his neck as he tried to free himself from his shoestring noose.
(gets up and throws the chair at the
wall. Breathing deeply, he walks back
towards the dresser, his good hand
clenched in a fist. He reaches towards
his CD rack and begins pulling CDs out,
one by one.)
Nirvana; Never Mind. Kurt Cobain. Self-inflicted gunshot wound.
(tosses CD into the trash and grabs
Pennywise. Full Circle. Lead singer Jason Thirk. Self-inflicted gunshot wound to the heart.
(tosses CD into the trash and grabs
Joy Division. Closer. Ian Curtis. Hung himself.
(tosses CD into the trash and with
both hands knocks everything off
dresser, onto the floor. He begins
stomping on the CDs.)
Jimi Hendrix! Janis Joplin! Fucking Gin Blossoms! No wonder I’ve been so depressed my entire life!
(leans against the dresser, crying
head down. Lifts head and sees
himself in the mirror).
Ever since I was ten years old I didn’t want to just be LIKE them. I wanted to BE them. They had the money. The women. But, more than that, they wrote what I tirelessly tried to mimic. I aspired to create music, literature, anything! as powerful as what they’d created. But, that wasn’t enough for them. Slowly, all my idols disappeared. Overdoses. Self-inflicted gun shot wounds. What was the point of creating something if in the end it leads you to destruction? To be remembered?
(he wipes spit from mouth, and opens
bottom drawer of dresser and pulls out
a small box. He opens it and pulls out
two shotgun shells and stands them up
on the dresser, in front of the box.)
Maybe remembering me isn’t what I want. It’s hard to maintain face when you’ve been prescribed every single fucking anti-depressant that’s on the market, like you’re the psychiatrist’s fucking guinea pig. Lexapro. Luvox. Prozac. Zoloft. Serzone. Desipramine. It’s funny how it is easier to name the medications I’ve taken than remember the names of friends I’ve had.
(reaches into his pocket and retrieves
the bottle of pills he put there earlier.
Holding the bottle with his good hand, he
shoves the lid under his armpit and twists,
the lid pops off and he dumps the pills
onto the dresser beside the shotgun shells,
and drops the bottle in the garbage can.
He scoops a handful of pills, and goes to
grab the drink on his nightstand,
remembering it is broke. With look of
defeat, he slowly drops the pills to the
floor, on top of the shattered glass.
All except one, which he swallows and
struggles to swallow.)
You have to love being an American. Thank God for the second amendment. Where else can you pick up a prescription, liquor and loose cigarettes and walk into a gun shop and buy a handgun, all before noon? That’s democracy, baby. That’s what we’re fighting for, motherfucker.
(he walks toward dresser and reaches
behind. Pulls out something wrapped
in towels. He lays it on the bed and
unwraps it. It is a shotgun. He picks
it up and puts it under his arm, grabs
bullets from dresser and gently sits
down on wooden rocking chair. He drops
the gun in between his legs and loads it.)
No background check. Didn’t ask why I was sweating. Didn’t ask what was in the pharmacy bag, or what was in the brown paper bag. Didn’t ask if I’d slept for the last three days, or if I’d had any documented attempts of suicide. I’ve been turned down for jobs because of it. My dad doesn’t believe me. Thinks it’s an excuse. But, I can get a gun, no questions asked.
(lifts the gun and aims it towards his
reflection in the mirror, balancing
it steady on his limp wrist.)
I mean, I’ve been going to therapy since I was ten and I managed to buy a gun with cash in less time that it takes to sign up for a credit card on campus.
(lets his arm limp and the gun drops.
He smiles as he rests the barrel on
his chin. His eyes grow wide as his
hands begin to tremble, remembering
that it’s loaded.)
For another two-hundred I could’ve bought something more high-powered. I thought about loaded it with a hollow tip bullet. They’re known to completely explode the skull. Traumatic to the person who finds you, which excited me in a sick way.
(squints down the barrel of the
This is devastating enough.
(deep breath and exhale to rant)
But, in some ways, if I sacrifice myself, he wins. That’s what he wants. He wants to puff out his chest and act as though he was the alpha male who was surrounded by inferiors who couldn’t handle the masculinity of his presence. He was the provider who crippled those whose lives he promised to care for. With all the loved ones around him, dead, he’s got the perfect excuse for never amounting to shit and for being an unbearable asshole while he drudges along his joke of a life.
(he points the gun towards the
mirror, again, taking aim at his
Stupid, fat, lazy, fucking asshole, piece of shit, cowardly, useless fucking grease-sloth!
(he bashes the gun into the mirror,
shattering the glass.)
You killed mom and you’ve almost killed me. Never have you encouraged me, you fucking slob!
(his voice begins to raise as he
steady’s the aim of his gun at the
shattered mirror, his breathing
becomes quick, short, body sways
into the mirror, lurches forward,
unable to stand still with the
adrenaline surging thru his veins.)
Nothing anyone does is good enough for you, yet all you’ve ever done for other people is guilt them with unrealistic demands and expectations. Everyone is your servant. You’re lucky I didn’t kill myself those other times. Who else would you have to criticize and take out your own life’s aggressions on to feel better about you’re worthless, pathetic, useless existence? You can’t yell at the television or newspapers all night. They can’t listen, it doesn’t hurt. You need me. Without me I think you’d be dead. But, without you
maybe then I’d have a chance to live.
(all of a sudden, his bedroom door is
burst open and it’s his dad, angry at
the noise, while DEREK – still aiming
shotgun at mirror – directs gun towards
his bedroom door, startled.)
what in the hell is going on in here, for fucks sake?
(the lights go off, the stage is black
and three beats later there is a gunshot).