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©The Hard Way

The characters:

Jess Operson (about 50) Widowed father in hospital waiting room while his only son is in the emergency room. Dressed very casual. Was probably working in yard when the call came.

Bill (mid to late 40s) Jessí best friend. Also dressed casually.

Stevie (19) Jessís son. Dressed in defiant youthful attire and hair style.

Doctor (any age over 35) Dressed in operating scrubs with mask dangling at neck.


††††††††††† (Jess is sitting in waiting room when Bill enters. Jess sees him and stands. They embrace.)

Jess:†††† Thanks for coming.

Bill:†††††† Howíre you holding up, Jess?

Jess: ††† (Fighting back tears.) IímÖIím sitting out here trying to remember if Stevie ever asked Jesus into his heart.

††††††††††† (Deep breath as he fights onslaught of emotion.) I meanÖmy sonís in there on the operating table fighting for his

†††††††††††† life and Iím out here worrying that he might die without Jesus. (frantically) I just canít remember. I donít know if

†††††††††††† my son is saved.

Bill: ††††† (Hugs Jess and lets him cry on shoulder.) You and Carol raised Stevie in church. He was in the youth group for

†††††††††† many years. You know he was saved. Iím sure I remember you telling me about it when he was about 8 or 9.

Jess:†††† I want to believe he was. I think he did, but I justÖI just canít remember a specific moment. (pause) You know

††††††††††† Stevie had to learn everything the hard way.

††††††††††† (frustrated laughter) Just like his old man. I didnít surrender my rebellious, stubborn life to Jesus until I was 30

††††††††††† years old. I never asked him about his salvation. (struggles with more emotion) If Stevie goes to hell itíll be my

††††††††††† fault.

Bill:†††††† Stop doing this to yourself, Jess.

Jess:†††† (Looks Bill in the eyes and speaks with determination) Why shouldnít I? I can close my eyes and I can see every

††††††††††† mistake I made raising my son. (takes a deep breath fighting more tears) After his mother died I totally emerged

††††††††††† myself in my work, trying to keep my mind off of my loss. Somehow, it never dawned on me that it was Stevieís

††††††††††† loss, too. He was 18 about to graduate and he loses his mother and basically, his father at the same time.

††††††††††† (sarcastically) After all, he was grown. He could take care of himself. (beat) I abandoned my son.

Bill:†††††† Listen to me, Jess. You did not abandon your son. Lynn and I were there. Remember? You and Carol raised

††††††††††† your son right. And after she died you were there for him.So stop trying to change history.

Jess:†††† (forces a smile through the tears) I remember when Stevie was about 4 and he was

††††††††††† watching me drill a hole through one of the bricks in the wall of our house. When I laid the drill down I pointed to

††††††††††† the bit and said, ďDonít touch that. Itís hot.Ē No sooner were the words out of my mouth before he touched the

††††††††††† bit and grilled the end of his finger. As he cried and I put ice on his burn, I told him, ďYouíre gonna have to learn

††††††††††† everything the hard way, just like your daddy.Ē I think heís still got a scar on his finger shaped like a masonry bit.

††††††††††† I think he was about 6 one of the many times he and I went to the grocery store together when was too sick to

††††††††††† go. Stevie was sitting on the rack under the shopping cart and he was real quiet. Then after a while his little voice

††††††††††† said, ďDaddy, I learned something the hard way.Ē He ††† held up his bloody finger he had caught in the wheel

††††††††††† bracket. He didnít even cry. I just grabbed him and held him and I cried. (breaks up) Now heís lying on that ††††††††††† operating table and I canít hold him. I canít put ice on it and make the pain go away. I canít kiss it and make it

††††††††††† better. (pause) I always talked openly with him about drugs. He knew all the dangers, but I guess he had to

††††††††††† learn the hard way.

Bill:†††††† Let me pray with you, Jess.

Jess:†††† Thatís all thatís left isnít it, prayer?

Bill:†††††† (Nods with a sad smile and puts his hand on Jessí shoulder.) Heavenly Father, I lift up my friend to you today

††††††††††† and I pray thatÖ(Prayer becomes barely audible as Stevie appears from the darkness, stage right and stops

††††††††††† beside his dad.)

Stevie:Dad? (Jess turns and looks as Bill continues praying.)

Jess:†††† (Smiles with recognition.) Son! Youíre okay.

Stevie:Yea, Dad, Iím okay. And donít worry. I did ask Jesus in my heart when I was 8 years old, up in childrenís

†††††††††††† church. And Heís still there even though I donít live like it sometime. You know me. I learn everything the hard

†††††††††††† way. (holds up his finger) See. Iíve still got the scars. (Doctor enters stage right.)

Doctor: Mr. Operson? (as Jess looks at doctor Stevie fades back into the darkness)

Jess:†††† (happy, smiling as Bill quits praying and looks at the doctor.) Yes, doctor.

Doctor: Iím sorry. We did everything we could.

Jess:†††† (smile turns to confusion as Bill put his arm around him.) What do you mean?

Doctor: Your son died about 10 minutes ago.

Jess:†††† ButÖ(looks around for Stevie) But IÖ.

Doctor: We did everything we could. We just couldnít save him.

Jess:†††† (Looks at doctor and back where Stevie had been, then back at the doctor. Smiles through tears as realization

†††††††††††† sets in.) Donít worry, Doctor. You didnít have to save him. Jesus already did.



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