Category: Jude

Jude Gets Away

A front yard, kind of scrappy. There’s more dirt than lawn, although one or two well-attended flower pots are visible, chock full of geraniums. The front door is a little battered, it has been splintered and kicked in the past. The curtains are drawn. The roof is low. The driveway is blacktop that could use some re-surfacing.

Seated on a lawn chair, bare chested and belly flopping, is DENNY. He wears a baseball cap and is whistling quietly, kind of a whisper-whistle.

The morning is overcast, gray and foggy. Denny should be cold, but if he is, the option to go in probably isn’t his. Denny’s in the doghouse.

The scene starts with a young girl, JUDE, jetting out the front door and shutting it just as fast and quiet as she can. She carries a small cloth shopping bag. DENNY watches her with detached, ready amusement, waiting for his cue. JUDE, thinking she’s free, turns away from the door. DENNY, her mother’s boyfriend, ensues.

DENNY
Why, look who’s here of a morning!

JUDE yelps, stifling a scream. She’s startled and confused.

JUDE
Where’s my bicycle?

DENNY
Your what?

JUDE
Where’s my bike?

DENNY
What do you need your bike for?

JUDE
(Takes a pause) Nothing.

JUDE turns toward the garage. DENNY speaks, JUDE stops.

DENNY
It’s not there.

JUDE
What’s not?

DENNY
Your bike, dummy.

JUDE
That’s not what I’m looking for.

DENNY
It’s not?

JUDE
It’s not.

DENNY
Not your bike? Interesting.

JUDE
I want my scooter.

DENNY
Your scooter, is it?

JUDE doesn’t move and doesn’t answer. DENNY drinks his beer. It’s a 40 ouncer, so he’s set for the time being. It’s not 7am.

DENNY
What’re you doing up so early?

JUDE
Where’s my bike, Denny? What’d you do with it?

DENNY
Who said I did anything?

JUDE
It was right here.

DENNY
Your mom doesn’t like your bike in yard, you know. She’s talked to you before.

JUDE
(Whining, not up to Denny’s reindeer games) Denny…

DENNY
What?

JUDE
(Frustrated) Why aren’t you asleep?

DENNY
I ain’t ready. Where you going?

JUDE
You’re not my mother!

DENNY sits up, pushing back his cap, assuming the position of what he presumes to be fatherly determination.

DENNY
Excuse me?

JUDE is resistant, but not a fool; she knows she’s close to the flame and better be cautious.

JUDE
I’ll just get my scooter.

DENNY
Who said there’s something wrong with your bike?

JUDE
I don’t want it.

DENNY
Who said your bike is gone?

JUDE
I’m going for a ride. Mom said I could.

DENNY
Did she?

JUDE
Yes.

DENNY
Did you ask her?

JUDE
Yes, I did.

JUDE still stands by the door. She shifts her bag from one hand to another.


DENNY settles back in his chair.

DENNY
We just had some fun last night. Your bike’s fine. We put it away.

JUDE
Is it in the garage?

DENNY
Go see.

A long, long, long pause, time enough for DENNY to take a few swigs of beer. JUDE doesn’t move. DENNY sighs, lets out one mean burp, and giggles.

DENNY
Ohhh yes sir. Yes sir. Go look and see.

JUDE steps toward the lawn chair, which puts DENNY off, it might even startle him. She feints another step toward him, then just as he starts to get up, takes off running like a deer. DENNY, of course, is left standing. He’s not going anywhere; he hasn’t finished his beer. He elicits a laugh, which betrays an angry, disgusted man.

DENNY
(Still standing, calls after her) Where you going?
Jude! Jude!
Why don’t you go look, you little shit?
Why don’t you go take a look?!
JUDE! Get back here!

DENNY finishes his beer and crushes the can.

He pulls a t-shirt from his back pocket, where it had been tucked like a long handkerchief. It’s probably got stains, it’s definitely stretched out, maybe ripped. He puts it on. Looks out. JUDE’s about as gone as any swift eight- year-old can be.

DENNY
Better tell your mother.

BLACKOUT

Jude of a Morning

It was early Saturday morning. Jude’s favorite cartoons would be on in an hour. The air was damp, the fog hadn’t lifted, it was just warm enough to take a bike and ride and ride and ride, jacketless, breezy, and cool. Jude was in the living room marking her exit, which meant steering clear of pizza boxes, candy wrappers, newspapers, beer cans, and a snoring man flopped the couch, whose name she wasn’t told. In fact, he’d told her that. He’d laughed and told her she didn’t need to learn another name.

Jude’s mother was snoring in the back bedroom, more loudly than her boyfriend Denny. The evening had been full of harsh laughter, drinking contests, music trivia games and scary quiet pauses. At each pause, the ones that had a little length, Jude would cautiously exhale, her seven year-old muscles would begin to relax and, just as she began to drift, someone would hoot, or laugh and once a glass broke. Jude didn’t remember falling asleep.

The birds woke her. She’d left the window open to listen to the rain. Her clothes were laid out and there was an apple, some sliced cheese and a snack bag of pretzel sticks in a quiet cloth shopping bag. Jude liked pretzel sticks. She sucked the salt off first, then bit them in half, then ate. She could make a bag last a long time.

With her breakfast in her hand and the front door in sight, Jude stepped with each honking snore and paused when the nameless man exhaled. Turning the knob was easier than expected: no one had latched the chain or secured the bolt. All that stood between Jude and a dreamy morning was an expert twist of the knob, of which she was an expert. Jude knew the slight angle that left just enough room get her out, but did not elicit the creaking noise that occurred when fully opened. And, while it was startling, the couch man’s violent lurch and grunt propelled Jude out the door, fast and furious and perfectly sleek. She felt like a warrior, an athlete. She had survived enemy territory. The road and the day were hers.