I DON’T SEE MY SHADOW
A Play for Teenagers and Their Families
Michael Krysiuk and Frank S. Petrilli
Based on the Book “Why Me? Why Now?”
Copyright by Michael Krysiuk and Frank S. Petrilli
All Rights Reserved.
AT RISE: a person walks to a podium carrying a folder under their arm; they step up to the podium, turn on the light, and open the folder and starts reading.
NARRATOR: Hello everyone and welcome, the play you are about to see is based on a true story. This is about a young man named Michael, attending his senior year in high school. As you know the senior year in high school is a high point in a person’s life filled with many exciting things like graduation, proms, dates, parties and planning the course you would like to travel in your pursuit of obtaining a successful career and satisfying life.
Let’s sit back now and see how Michael’s story about his senior year in high school develops.
AT RISE, we see a young man in his early twenties. He is athletic, strong. He could be a Major League Baseball pitcher. As he speaks, we see he is physically “stiff.”
MICHAEL: (speaking directly to the audience) Hi guys. I’m Michael. When I was a teenager, like you, I was a senior in high school. Everything looked good in my life. My grades were so-so; I was getting by, enjoying the ease of being a senior…“the last year of high school.” I had good friends. We played on the same ball teams…raised a little hell Uh? Uh? ….partied hearty “Part-tay!” …chased the girls (he chuckles)…and if we couldn’t be with the one we loved, we loved the one we were with! Ha ha ha! Like you guys, we just tried to lead a typical young American life ‘till graduation day.
Michael puts on a High School baseball cap picks up a glove and starts pitching to someone off stage as he speaks. He is no longer “stiff.”
That year, a scout from the New York Mets came to see my buddy, Jeff pitch a game. Shit I was so damn jealous I could almost spit. Here was a guy who never let them see him sweat…crap just rolled right off his back….like Robert Redford in that movie “The Way They Were.” Me, I had to work hard for every damn thing I got, and always came in second. Don’t get me wrong…I was routing for him, but I still felt second rate.
This one Thursday, will be a day and night I will never forget, never. Classes finished up for me at 12:35, and I drove home in my car, a 1970 Chevy. I parked my car in the garage because that day, I was riding to the game with my friends Teddy and Steve, in Teddy’s Triumph GT6. I had a light supper because I didn’t want to get filled up having to be pitching in a couple of hours. I did my homework, packed my gym bag with my uniform, cleats and glove, then read the sports pages.
About 2:30 Teddy and Steve came by to pick me up. Now a Triumph GT6 has 2 front seats and a small place for storage where the back seat is supposed to be. The space can be used for storage or a passenger can ride in this compartment as long as the journey is not that far. Steve and I flipped a coin and as it turned out I had to ride in the back. Oh well the luck of the flip I guess. So in I climbed in and off we went to play some ball.
The game that afternoon was a tough game…Jeff didn’t pitch that well. He choked under pressure of the Scout from New York and gave up a lot of hits…the other team knew this, too and took advantage of his weakness, scoring run after run….in the fifth inning, the coach sent me in to relieve Jeff. I wasn’t even sure if the Met’s Scout was still in the bleachers, actually, at this point, I really didn’t give a care…I just wanted to “stop the bleeding” and give our offense a chance to try and win the game. I did my best. I held their hitters down (pause) but we lost anyway.
I found out that the Met’s Scout stayed to watch the whole game, too. I was ticked off…especially when I saw him talking and smiling with Jeff…and they were laughing together…we lost the game and Jeff was laughing…man, that ticked me off even more! “Why me?” I asked myself, “Why now?” I kicked at the dirt… “This lousy guy couldn’t come up from New York to watch us play on a good day? No way! Not my luck.”
Then I heard coach call my name. Coach told me the Met’s Scout wanted to speak to me! To me! I hustled over to Jeff and the Scout, I thanked him for coming from New York to watch us loose…he simply said “good effort, son…I’d like to come back and see you pitch a game”…and as fast as he said it was as fast as he was gone. My head was spinning…I was in the clouds…he wanted to come back and watch me pitch a game…I could get signed to the New York Mets!
Now here we were, just got beaten by a team that we thought we were going to run off the field. Jeff just got face to face with the New York Mets despite loosing a game, then got sweet talked by the New York Mets and to top it off he was coming back to watch me pitch, too — we had some celebrating to do!
Michael throws his last pitch takes off his glove and pulls a bottle of beer out of a cooler. He opens it and begins to drink it during the following.
So as a team, we decided to go to cross state lines, buy some beer…quench our thrusts and blow off some steam. The reason we were going to cross state lines for beer was that it was after 8:00 PM and in my state, you can’t buy beer after 8:00 PM- but over the State line beer was still for sale…so it wouldn’t take us long at all.
This time I was riding in the front seat of Teddy’s car and Steve rode with Dave in his Mom’s station wagon. Off we went and made it there in a short time, met in the parking lot to pool our money and discuss our purchasing power. After we bought the beer we got together in the parking lot to have a nice cold one or two and talk about the game that night and to figure out why we lost to “those guys”. As it turned out, we never came to a conclusion why we lost, and decided to take care of it tomorrow.
He opens a second beer.
I was riding home with Teddy sitting in the front seat and Steve was going to ride with Dave. Teddy and I left the parking lot first leading the way. We were flying, racing down the road, not a care in the world. It reminds me now of a verse from a song I heard on the radio from time to time. It goes something like this, “the telephone poles looked like a picket fence.”
I looked across at the speedometer and the needle was between 90 and 100 miles per hour, so we had to be doing over 100 mph because I was seeing the meter on an angle from the passenger side.
All of a sudden he lost control of the car. So he tries to down shift. The gears lock. He hits the brakes. The brakes lock. We begin to skid. I will never forget that screeching sound of those tires trying to stop that car. While this was happening we didn’t utter a word or make a sound while the car was trying to stop, we were just holding on trying to survive the ride.
We were skidding across to the other side of the road heading off onto the shoulder of the road. Lucky for us no one was coming in the other direction because we would have gotten into a terrible accident. We were sure “Lucky”. Yeah, lucky.
My next move was out of desperation and reflex. I pulled my legs out from under the dashboard and placed them on top of the dashboard kind of coiling into a ball. I saw in front of us we are heading for a pile of dirt and a big black shadow. Just before we hit I coiled up as tight as I could get. Sort of trying to make sure nothing would get torn off. I remember clenching my teeth like a vice grip. You would have needed a crowbar to pry my teeth apart.
As we hit the pile of dirt it flipped us into the big black shadow. My face felt like it exploded. All of a sudden I was in a state of complete peace; like my body shifted into neutral, but I will get into that later.
Now getting back to the big black shadow, this happened to be a bulldozer parked in front of a big pile of dirt. We hit the pile of dirt in front of the bulldozer flipping us into the plow, head on, at full speed. I was lucky that I had put my feet up on the dashboard of the car because from the angle of the way the car smashed into the bulldozer, the engine of the car smashed through the car’s engine wall coming to a stop at the bottom of my seat. If I didn’t make the move of putting my legs on the dashboard I would have lost both legs at the sockets. But lucky me, I stayed in one piece falling into a coma from the impact of the car hitting the bulldozer and my head slamming against the ceiling of the car when it flipped. The rear-view mirror flew off the metal holder and hit me right between the eyes cutting my face in half which felt like my face exploding. You’re probably thinking, “Well, it serves them right those fools drinking and driving. But you have to remember we were kids and nothing like this is ever going to happen to us. No way it’s never going to happen to us. Or so we thought.
He puts down the beer, takes off the baseball cap, and leaves them with the baseball glove. He stands alone in a single, stark, condensed overhead spotlight.)
Now I would like to tell you what it’s like being in a coma. The last thing I remember before the lights went out was hearing those screeching tires, followed by a loud smash when we hit the bulldozer. I mentioned before that feeling of my face exploding and suddenly everything around me, especially me, was in a state of complete peace; like my body shifted into neutral. I felt like I was just floating along. Not really knowing what was going on or what happened to me. I guess you might say I was in for the time of my life. I just didn’t know that it was going to be a bad, very bad time of my life.
I kept telling myself that everything was all right and that nothing was wrong. Hey, I had to go to school tomorrow and hand in my extra make-up homework for extra credit that I needed. I finally got caught up and I wanted to hand that homework in. But it felt like this was kind of a dream. Things were not really making any sense. They say dreams come true sometimes, even the bad ones. At that moment my journey began. A journey I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
Being in a coma was very confusing. My thoughts started drifting like changing channels on a television set. People, places, and things started popping in and out of my mind like some crazy slide show. I saw my car parked in my Dad’s garage. Hey maybe if I took my car that night instead of riding with my buddy this would have never happened. Oh yeah sure. There are so many variables to choose from; where am I going to start?
Like playing baseball and making the all-star team in little league. My favorite sport -baseball. I always had a dream of pitching in the major leagues of professional baseball. I was playing on the high school CYO basketball team with my cousin who lives next door. Parties I went to in my life…birthdays, weddings, Christmas, anniversaries, and high school dances. My thoughts never really settled on one particular party or event. They were all just smashed together. A little here and a little there, jumping around in time. Buying my first car, but then I was riding in my boat. I’m not sure why I was in my boat. I was either fishing or water-skiing. But there I was on the water.
Now I was getting confused and a little worried. I don’t know why but I felt a little uneasy. So much was going through my mind at once. Time was passing by very fast. It was kind of all falling into a pattern. Everything was happening too fast. You see, “time” as we know it, in a coma, means absolutely nothing. It’s kind of like dominos falling, one right after the other. Believe me, there is no turning back the hands of time.
He moves to hospital gurney. The gurney has monitors, IV’s, etc attached to it. He gets in it. As he continues, the background lights change color and intensity.
I’m fading in and out, what’s really going on? I hear my Mom and Dad talking. I recognize their voices. I can’t make out what they were saying, it’s all just a low mumble but I can tell they’re there. I want to reach out and touch them and let them know I am right here and everything is all right. But I can’t. I can’t. Mom, I’m trying but I can’t!
He whimpers quietly,
Pause. The background color change.
I keep telling myself to wake-up, get up and get moving, I’ve got places to go, people to see, but my body won’t listen to me. I guess I have a break in the flow of internal communication. I finally realize something’s wrong. Too many strange things are going on in a short period of time. My mind is working but my body shifted into neutral and won’t operate no matter what I do or say. My body is not responding. I guess you might say my body’s dead. I am trapped in here and I want to get out. Please God, please, I don’t want to be like this, I want to walk. Please Gaaaaaah………!
My mind starts drifting again. My mind is like changing channels on a television set; only I didn’t know what station or what was going to happen next.
I’m playing basketball with my buddies…those games are always a lot of fun and I’m playing over at my friend Teddy’s house. He had the best basketball court. It was set up in his father’s tennis court. It wasn’t a clay floor; it was this new type of outdoor foam flooring for tennis courts, which were great for basketball courts.
What? Oh wow! I can hear my Dad. He just came into the hospital room. I recognize his voice. (he laughs) What, Dad? (he laughs) He says, “Hi Mike, how are you today?” as he visits me each day. I guess he asks this with the hope that I’ll answer him someday, someday soon, real soon. What, Dad?? He’s talking to me. Ha ha ha. He’s telling me what was going on at home…in town…in the news. Kind of keeping me up to date on the latest and the greatest. He’s reading me the sports page every day. Yes! Ha ha ha! “The Yankees won again!” Ha ha ha, ha ha ha! “
Laughter turns to tears,
Ah God! Please help me! Why Me? Why Now? Tell me why does it have to be me? I know I’ve done some bad things in my life…goofed around in school, got in a couple of fights Yes, God, when I was younger threw eggs at cars on Halloween. (angering) I confess, OK? I know who stole a tape deck from a car and helped cover it up by lying about it. (bartering) Come on, God, everybody has done something in their life that breaks the rules every now and then. But tell me, why do I have to suffer like this? I have been pretty good my whole life. I thought I crossed all of the T’s and dotted all of the I’s, But Why do I have to pay for such small mistakes in my life? (anguishing) I’m sorry, oh dear God I am so sorry. (offering) OK!
I hear my sister and mom talking in my hospital room. I recognize their voices, although it is just a mumble to me. I pick up a word here and there, but not a full sentence. They are crying and I feel their tears hit my face when they lean over me. My heart is breaking for them. Mom, I’m sorry I wish I could tell you I am right here and that everything is all right. I just wish I could reach out and touch both of you and tell you that I am here with you, right here. I just wish I could talk to you, but I can’t, I can’t. I’m sorry to hurt you like this. I’m so sorry!
Suddenly I am running. Where? Why? Who to? I don’t have a clue. I am running in a big field of grass. I think its grass. It is all green around me but I can’t feel my feet hit the ground while I am running. I guess its grass by color association and what else could it be? I am pretty sure it’s daytime because it’s brightly lit all around me. I can’t see the sun in front of me or to either side, so it must be behind me. But if I was running with the sun at my back there should be my long shadow on the ground in front of me. I don’t see a shadow on the ground anywhere…be it in front or on either side of me.
I don’t see my shadow anywhere! I can’t figure this out. So, I just keep running.
These four words keep running through my mind in big bold letters like on a roadside billboard:
Why Me Why Now?
Take a Deep Breath,
I Don’t See My Shadow
Light comes up on the Narrator standing at the podium.
NARRATOR: You have just seen and heard the story about Michael, a student in his senior year in high school. This story is classified as a casualty or better yet a statistic of a young person living bigger and faster than they should. Michael was a good student; he crossed all his “T’s” and dotted all his “I’s”. He just wanted to be one of the “guys”, a follower; he didn’t think something bad could ever happen to him – “NEVER”. But instead of becoming a statistic or follower in someone else’s life, he should have shot for the SUN in everything he did, because even if you miss, you land among the STARS – and that isn’t a bad place to be.