Twilight. The outside of a large estate in the country. It’s a warm evening with a pleasant breeze carrying snatches of music, laughter, and delicious-smelling smoke over the walls. A man is sitting by himself on a bench outside the gate to the property, fiddling with something in his hands. He pauses from his thinking to watch a dusty traveler slouch down the road towards the house. The man on the bench reflects briefly to himself that this newcomer looks to be in much the same shape as the last wayfarer to pass by. The traveler pauses at the bench. Neither feels like talking, but eventually the traveler speaks.
2: (Nods) Evening. Are you alright?
1: No, no, I’m fine. It’s just that… well, do you have any food? I haven’t eaten in at least three days, unless you want to count some very bad sushi, and it’s being more than generous to call it that. (Hastily) Normally I wouldn’t ask at all; I wouldn’t have to ask; I mean, I’m not usually… like this. I’ll be sure to send some money along when I get back to Joppa.
2: Oh, you’re from Joppa?
1: Well, actually no, but I was travelling through there—boat trip, you know—and I’ve got some good connections there. It’s just that on this trip… well… geez, how to put it? I… My travel plans got changed suddenly. Anyway, I feel awful asking, but really could I get something to eat and maybe a change of clothes? I’ll pay you of course… Just let me know where to send it.
2: Wow. Joppa. I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s alright. More than alright. (He starts to drift off into his own thoughts, but catches himself.) Sorry. Yes, of course we can help you out. Really, don’t worry about it. There’s plenty of food. (Rising) And we’ll get you some clothes; honestly, you look, well, you look pretty chewed-up-and-spit-out if you ask me.
1: Ha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Oh boy. Hahahahahahahaha. Yes, you could say that. You could say that…
(They’re at the gate to the property now, but 2 stands at the latch, still fiddling with something in his hand.)
1: What’s that? That’s quite a ring.
2: Oh? Oh, yes. This. Yeah, my father gave it to me some time ago. I don’t often think about it, I’ve had it for so long… But tonight… Well. I don’t know. My brother, he… I mean, where’s his ring? We had the same one! And where’s his ring now?
1: Calm down, man.
2: Whores… That’s where it went. Whores… He just thinks he can come back like nothing happened? Like nothing happened to him around Nineveh? (1 jumps at the name and 2 laughs bitterly.) You too? Yeah, just the name of that place gives me the creeps, but he… well, I didn’t need to go myself to see how that would end up. But now? He smelled like a pig when he came home, you know. But Dad… didn’t he notice? You know I don’t even go out on my nights off?
1: Well, yes, I’d more or less figured that.
2: (Not really listening) And now Dad just hauls off and gives him his own ring? I don’t know why I care about the ring at all. It’s just a ring, and look at everything else that the old man’s throwing at this kid!
1: I’m sorry, I really have no idea what you’re talking about.
2: Sorry. It’s just my kid brother. He ran off a while back, had himself a good time, but just now he’s dragged his sorry self back when it got too hard because he ran out of Daddy’s money.
1: Ha. I know what you mean. Ungrateful. Man, that makes me angry. They don’t really change you know.
1: Yeah, they can talk all they want about how they’re sorry and they’ll never do it again and please give me another chance. It really is pathetic how people grovel… the things they do. I mean, have you ever seen a cow with sackcloth on before?
2: What? (He has clearly never considered this before.)
1: I mean, pathetic. Never mind. It’s just that I know how you feel. But how is it that you and I know what’s going on, clear as day, but the ones who matter, the ones in charge, they’re just fine with it! Like nothing ever happened! And then they want you to go and make it all better! Like those people are going to listen to you! I mean really listen. Sure, anyone can say they’re sorry when it helps them, but come on, are we really that naive? Seriously, it makes me so mad I wish I was dead sometimes. Good Lord, I don’t understand him sometimes.
An awkward pause. Mixing with the sound of a tambourine, a little girl’s laughter sweeps over the wall and both men hear it. There’s a longer pause.
1: Well… Should we go in?
2: I don’t know.