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The Final Interview

Updated on May 20, 2017

ACT ONE
SCENE ONE.
LIGHTS UP ON:

JOSEPH CAPELLI walks into the room. He is in his early forties, but carries himself like a much older man, beaten down by life. The room is empty except for a chair set off to the right. As he makes his way towards the chair, he looks around cautiously. Joseph is startled by a loud, soothing, female voice. As the voice begins to speak, a bright, white light illuminates Joseph.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Welcome Joseph, please have a seat.

(Joseph looks up at the source of the voice. He shades his eyes from the light.)

JOSEPH

Excuse me ma'am, but where the hell am I?

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

You’re among friends Joseph. There is nothing to fear.

(Joseph looks down at the chair then back at the source of the voice, he slowly sits.)

VOICE (CONT.)

How are you feeling today Joseph?

JOSEPH

I’m alright I guess.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

I am pleased to hear that. Now, I just have a few questions to ask you and I need you to be as honest as possible.

JOSEPH

Excuse me. Just who the hell are you?

(Joseph sits straight in his chair. He looks up angrily at the voice. The Voice replies in a firm but comforting tone.)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

I am here to learn more about you Joseph. Who I am is not important?

(Joseph sits back in his chair and runs his fingers through his hair. After pausing for a moment,he addresses the Voice.)

JOSEPH

We'll see about that. I better get some damn answers, and soon!.

(Joseph relaxes, though he is still apprehensive about the situation.)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

All will be explained in time. Now the purpose of this inquiry is to ascertain what kind of life you have lived. I will be simply asking you a few simple questions.

JOSEPH

Just what exactly would you like to know?

(Joseph sits back in his chair and folds his hands over his belly, feeling strangely at ease.)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Let us start at the beginning. What can you tell me about the early years of your life.

JOSEPH

How early are we talking about?

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Why don’t you start with your first memory.

JOSEPH

I might as well start with the day I was born. I’d heard the story so many times from my father that I felt like I was there.

(Joseph pauses and thinks about what he just said. )

JOSEPH (CONT.)

Now that I think about it, I guess I was. Anyway, It was a cold day in November...

LIGHTS DIM:

(As Joseph begins to speak, the light on him dims and another light catches the corner of the room as two people in their late thirties enter. They are Joseph’s parents.The two walk to the middle of the room and stop. Both are dressed in clothing from the nineteen thirties. They both look over at Joseph, his mother smiles, his father crosses his arms and gives a nod.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

The Great Depression was changing everything. My parents moved our family to Niagara Falls in hopes of beginning a new life for all of us. Dad was a tough but fair man who loved us even if he never showed much affection. My mother was not only the best house wife you ever saw, her cooking could make the great chefs of the world jealous. Her Manicotti makes my mouth water just thinking about it. She would spend hours making the sauce just ri...

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Joseph, I’m sorry to interrupt but we are on a tight schedule. Can you please continue with your story.

(Slightly irritated for being cut off, Joseph composes himself and continues. Joseph’s father puts his arm around his wife. He then whispers something in her ear which makes her blush.)

JOSEPH

Our family didn’t have much money, so I was born at home. During my birth, there were complications that put me and my mother in trouble. Being that there wasn’t a hospital near by, my father rushed me to the nearest church for help. This church just happened to be St. Joseph Cathedral. So when it came time to name me, you can guess where they got their inspiration.

(Joseph’s parents look at each other then down at Joseph. His Father begins to leave, gently pulling Joseph’s Mother with him. As she walks away she blows Joseph a kiss.The couple walked out of the room and the light on them extinguishes, the light on Joseph however returns to its original brilliance.)

LIGHTS UP ON:

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Did you get along with your parents?

JOSEPH

Yes, for the most part. See you have to understand, for families in my day it was more about respect than love. I knew they loved me, even if they never said it. It was a different time.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Was your family close?

JOSEPH

Yes and no. It was hard for us to spend time together. From early on my brothers and I worked to help support the family by either picking fruit for the local farmers or doing odd jobs around the neighborhood. Both of my brothers left home when I was young, leaving me with my three sisters. Heck, my brother Tony left to go work for my uncle before I was born. Every time he came over to visit I thought he was a salesman trying to sell my mother something.

(Joseph laughs to him self then continues.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

My sisters and I spent the most time together. They left me alone for the most part, but when I needed them they were there, especially when it came to school.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

How did you do in school?

JOSEPH

Well, lets just say I tried. For most guys my age, school was a joke. In our world, what we learned about life, we learned from our parents or on the streets. My time in school was spent mainly running with the local gangs and chasing girls.

VOICE(OFF STAGE)

I’m glad you mentioned girls, I have a question about one in particular.

JOSEPH

Who’d you have in mind?

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

What can you tell me about Marie?

(Joseph moved slightly in his chair, obviously taken aback by the current question.)

JOSEPH

Marie. I... I wouldn’t know where to start.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

When did you both meet?

JOSEPH

It was when I was sixteen. We both worked at the Lewis Street Center.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Lewis Street Center?

JOSEPH

It was a neighborhood Rec. Center. Kind of like the Boys and Girls Club. Just a place for kids to play.

LIGHTS DIM:

(The lights dim and two young girls walk into the room. One is a small 6 year old child, the other is 16 year old Marie. A light follows the two girls into the middle of the room. Both sit and silently begin playing with a toy.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

I was helping Mr. Lydal build a new swing set for the children. I had worked for him on other sites, he was sort of a superintendent for the place. It was just after noon, and he sent me into the pantry to get some snacks for the crew. That’s when I saw her. My Marie. She was the prettiest girl I'd ever seen.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

What was she doing at the Rec. Center when you both met?

JOSEPH

She worked in the office as a secretary, but occasionally she would help out with the children. The other counselors loved her approach and patience when dealing with the kids. She was always so gentle.

(Joseph can’t help but smile as he speaks of Marie. He wipes the tear from the corner of his eye)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Had you ever seen her before that day?

JOSEPH

No, I usually spent my time doing grunt work outside. I didn’t have much contact with girls. Besides, most girls wanted to get married after the first date. The whole marriage idea was not for me. I was a young buck, I wanted to be free. It was fate that I was there that day, and when I saw Marie, none of that mattered anymore. So I walked right up and asked her out.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

What was her response?

JOSEPH

No. She looked me right in the eye and told me she was not interested. Then she turned around and continued playing. It was as if a truck had hit me, was then put in reverse and rolled over me a couple times. But i persisted and eventually wore her down. It was only after we began dating that I found out she was lying about not being interested. I never would have guessed it,but she was just as shy as I was.

(Joseph takes out his wallet and removes a photo. He looks at the photo for a beat.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

Five years later, she became my wife.

(Both girls stand, Marie takes the young girl by the hand and they walk towards the door. Marie stops and turns to look at Joseph, she smiles, then exits the room.)

LIGHTS UP ON:

(Joseph’s attention remains fixated on the photo.)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

I’m sorry Joseph, but we have to move on. We have very little time together, and there’s more we need to cover.

(Tears are streaming down his face. He retrieves a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his nose.)

JOSEPH

Okay.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

How long were you and Marie married?

JOSEPH

Twenty-two years. From the day we met until the day she passed, I can only think of a few moments which we weren't together.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Did you have any children?

JOSEPH

Yes. We had a daughter, Sara.

(Joseph puts the handkerchief away and sits up in his chair. He puts the picture of Marie back into his wallet and takes out a photo of a small child.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

She was my angel. I still remember the day she was born. I never thought that I could feel that happy..

VOICE(OFF STAGE)

How was your relationship with Sara?

(Joseph looks down at his hands and sighs.)

JOSEPH

When she was young we were inseparable. I can remember taking her to the beach every summer.

(Joseph looks up smiling from ear-to-ear.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

We would love to play this one game. Sara would make me close my eyes and lay down on the sand. Each time I did, she would pour cold water on my back and run away laughing and I would have to catch her. Sara’s laughter was the most beautiful music I had ever heard. I miss that

(Joseph wiped tears from the sides of his eyes.)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

What’s wrong Joseph?

JOSEPH

I was just thinking about the last time I spoke to her.

LIGHTS DIM:

(The lights dim as an eighteen year old Sara walked into the room. A light catches her as she entered and followed her to the middle of the room. She is dressed in a long poncho, beads hanging from her neck. She folds her arms in anger and turns from her father.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

She was home from college for the weekend, that’s when everything went wrong. Marie had passed earlier that year and we both were having a hard time dealing with it.

VOICE(OFF STAGE)

What happened?

JOSEPH

She wanted a break and tried talking me into letting her go off to Europe with her new boyfriend. We got in an argument, said some stupid things and she told me she wished it was me who had died and not her mother. Being a hot head, I told her to get the hell out of my house. She did, and never came back after that. As soon as she was gone, I knew she was right.

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

About what?

JOSEPH

If it was me who had died, everything would have been alright. Marie would have known what to do. She always did. I was just an ignorant old fool.

LIGHTS UP ON:

(Joseph begins to weep as Sara turns towards him, she looks remorseful after hearing what Joseph had just said. She turns and runs out of the room. The lights return to their normal level, the scene fading away in the background. )

JOSEPH (CONT.)

I just wanted things to go back to the way they were. After Marie passed its as if our whole world ended.

(Joseph looks down at the picture of Sara.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

I miss both of them so much. I just hope Sara gives me the chance to talk to her. I need to tell her how sorry I am. How foolish I was. She was the last piece of Marie that I had left and I chased her away.

(Joseph breaks down. After a few seconds he takes a deep breath and tries to compose himself. He puts Sara’s picture back in his wallet and puts his wallet away.)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Joseph, there is something I need you to see.

LIGHTS DIM:

(Joseph turned as the light dims. Sara walks back into the room, but this time she is dressed all in black. The light follows her to the middle of the room. She is holding a tissue and sobbing. She stops and looks over at Joseph. Joseph turns and looks at Sara. He can see her. Confused, he turns back towards the Voice.)

JOSEPH

What is this? I don’t understand. What is Sara doing here?

(Joseph stands and tries to walk to her only to be stopped just short. An invisible barrier between the two. They both reach out, trying to touch hands.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

What the hell is going on!!?

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

I wanted to show you this. I needed you to see.

JOSEPH

See what! Why won’t you give me a straight answer?

(Joseph turns back towards Sara, his voice trailing off as he turns.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

Why can’t I touch her?

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Think of her as a ghost, a memory you will never have. Joseph, what is the last thing you remember before we began our discussion?

JOSEPH

I remember going to sleep and then showing up here. I thought this was just a bad dream. Why? What does that have to do with anything?

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

You’ve passed on from the life you knew, this is the first step on your new journey. I’m sorry Joseph.

(This revelation stuns Joseph. He stumbles back to the chair and grabs the back, keeping him from collapsing.)

JOSEPH

So this isn’t a dream? Then who are yo..?

(Just then Joseph realizes who he had been speaking to. He stared up at the light with fear in his eyes.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

Are you... God?

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Consider me a friend.

(Joseph looks from the voice back to Sara. She mouths the words “I love you daddy.” , and walks towards the door. Joseph jumps to his feet and follows her the whole way. Before she disappears through the doors Joseph calls to her. Sara turns and looks back at her father.)

JOSEPH

Sara! I’m so sorry. I love you more than I could ever tell you, and I’m so very proud of you.

(Sara smiles back at Joseph and walks out of the room. The lights return their focus on Joseph. He slowly walks back and sits down. He wipes the tears from his eyes and looks up at the Voice.)

LIGHTS UP ON:

JOSEPH

So. Where do I go from here?

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Let me ask you one more question. (Pause) Have you lived a good life?

(Joseph wipes his nose with his handkerchief, he looks worn down by what has transpired here. He speaks softly.)

JOSEPH

I don’t know how to answer that. I spent the first half of my life obtaining all the love and success I could, then lost it or watched it walk out of my door.

(Joseph falls from the chair onto his knees. He looks up at the voice and folds his hands together.)

JOSEPH (CONT.)

I’ve never been a religious man, so I’m not really sure how this goes. I don’t pretend that my life has been perfect by any means.If it was possible to return to every point in my life that I was either foolish or stubborn I would in a second. Wherever I’m going doesn't matter to me, the only thing I ask is to see my Marie once more. Please ma’am, I just want to hold her again, to kiss her. Please, I beg you.

(Joseph lowers his head sobbing. Marie slowly walks into the room from the left side. She moves to Joseph and touches his head gently.)

MARIE

Joe. Its time.

(Joseph looks up, tears running down his face and turns to face Marie. She is now a woman in her early forties, but still very much the girl we saw in the beginning. Joseph slowly gets to his feet and embraces Marie. He holds her with all his strength and sobs uncontrollably. Marie steps back and wipes the tears from his cheeks. She grabs his hand and leads him towards the light. As they approach the door, Joseph’s parents appear. His mother embraces him as his father looks on, beaming with pride.)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)

Joseph.

(Joseph looks up and turns towards the light.)

VOICE (OFF STAGE)(CONT.)

Go in peace, and welcome home.

(Joseph smiles, turns and walks out of the room with his family.)

LIGHTS FADE:

THE END

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