SAM, a man, well groomed, thirty-something
WARREN, a man, sloppy and unshaven, same age
(Front room of a beautifully furnished house or apartment. The doorbell rings. SAM gets up and opens the door. WARREN is waiting outside.)
WARREN: I’m Warren Crawford.
WARREN: And I believe you’re Sam James.
SAM: Do we know each other?
WARREN: Don’t you remember me? Warren Crawford?
SAM: Warren Crawford. Warren. …Worm?
WARREN: Yeah, Worm Crawford! You do remember me.
SAM: Okay, what do you need, Crawford?
WARREN: Man, it’s been fifteen years. Fifteen long years.
SAM: Not long enough.
WARREN: I knew you’d feel that way. I came to apologize. I’m sorry.
SAM: Okay, you’re sorry.
WARREN: No, really. I was a dork in high school and I want to make it right.
SAM: It’s fine, Warren. It’s water under the bridge. Forget about it.
WARREN: I can’t forget about what I called you. I think about it all the time.
SAM: Well, now you can forget it. You apologized.
WARREN: You remembered it all these years, too.
SAM: Well, you yelled it out when I walked across to get my diploma. It was pretty memorable.
WARREN: It was lousy. But I didn’t mean it that way.
SAM: How the hell did you mean it, then? It was a widely recognized categorical insult.
WARREN: I didn’t mean it as an insult. I didn’t—I didn’t know what I was saying.
SAM: You knew exactly what you were saying.
WARREN: No, I was as surprised as you were. It just came out of my mouth.
SAM: I seriously doubt you could have been as surprised as me. But I’ve forgotten about it. Thanks for the apology and goodbye.
WARREN: No, I want you to hear my story.
SAM: Oh, crap! Go away! Leave me alone!
WARREN: See? You’re still mad!
SAM: Now I am. Will you go away and never come here again?
WARREN: First you have to listen to my story.
SAM: (Pause.) Okay. You have one minute.
WARREN: Two minutes.
SAM: One minute.
WARREN: Okay. Ever since graduation I felt like scum. The whole town heard me yell that. I needed to find a job, but I didn’t want to work in that town where everybody knew me. I went to Belleview, where nobody knew me. But nobody would hire me because—because…
SAM: Because you look like a slob.
WARREN: Kind of. Maybe. People in Melmont knew me and knew I wasn’t a slob.
SAM: But now they knew you were a jerk.
WARREN: Basically. I couldn’t work there.
SAM: No one would hire you? Weren’t there any other jerks in Melmont?
WARREN: (Acknowledging the insult with a steady look in SAM’s eyes.) Yes, there were a few people who would hire me. I just didn’t want to stay in Melmont after that.
SAM: (Pause.) You’ve got 15 seconds.
WARREN: I’ve never had a good steady job since that night. I’ve never had any good friends.
SAM: Maybe you should stop being a jerk. Goodbye. Time’s up.
WARREN: Wait! I’m not a jerk anymore. Yes, I was a jerk. But I’m really sorry. I want to be friends.
SAM: Friends? You want me to be your first friend in 15 years?
WARREN: We were friends once.
SAM: (Pause.) Yes. Yes, before you yelled out that thing in commencement.
WARREN: We were good friends once.
SAM: No: we were friends. Just okay friends. Medium friends.
WARREN: Good friends.
SAM: Medium. Medium to small.
WARREN: Okay. Okay. (Pause.) But I want to be friends now.
WARREN: So we can erase the whole thing.
SAM: Erase it?
WARREN: Put it behind us.
SAM: It’s already behind us. Thanks and goodbye.
WARREN: It never affected you?
SAM: Of course it affected me! (More calmly:) It pissed me off. It embarrassed me in front of the whole town. It depressed me. Maybe you noticed there aren’t many people like me in Melmont, and suddenly I didn’t know how many people there had been feeling like you all those years.
WARREN: I tell you, I didn’t feel that way! I just yelled it for some reason.
SAM: You forgot to yell that you didn’t mean it. So I began to feel like I was living in a town full of bigots. I got the hell out of there. Best thing I ever did, too. I worked like a dog so I’d never have to live in a crap town like that again. I must say I succeeded.
WARREN: Looks like you did.
SAM: I did. I did. In fact I probably ought to thank you. You got me out of that town. If I’d stayed there I would have wound up a loser like you.
WARREN: Loser like me.
SAM: Sorry. That was uncalled for.
WARREN: I had it coming.
SAM: No, it’s been fifteen years. I don’t know you anymore.
WARREN: Yes, you know me. I’m a loser.
SAM: No, I’m sorry. People change. We gotta allow each other to change.
WARREN: Then you’ll accept my apology?
SAM: (Uncomfortably) I already thanked you.
WARREN: I know. But do you accept my apology?
SAM: (Even more uncomfortably:) Yes. I accept your apology.
WARREN: And we can be friends now?
SAM: Oh, for—
WARREN: We have to be friends!
WARREN: Because if we’re not, you didn’t mean it.
SAM: Well, do you mean it?
WARREN: Yes! I’m sorry!
SAM: Okay. All right… all right. Friends.
WARREN: Shake? (With growing impatience, SAM accepts the handshake.) Good. Friends.
WARREN: Good friends.
SAM: (Pause.) Friends.
WARREN: You know, we’re a lot alike, in a way.
SAM: How’s that?
WARREN: That one night changed both of our lives.
SAM: I wouldn’t go that far.
WARREN: It did. I insulted you, and it turned me into a loser.
SAM: It didn’t turn me into a loser.
WARREN: No, it turned you into a winner. So I guess we’re the same, but the opposite.
SAM: (Pause.) I kind of think I was already a winner.
WARREN: (Pause.) Maybe I was already a loser. (SAM doesn’t answer.) Anyway, my life went downhill from there.
SAM: Well… now you can forget about it.
WARREN: I’ll never forget about it. I owe you.
SAM: Forget it. Go, and sin no more. (Starts to close the door.)
WARREN: Don’t make jokes. I’ve waited fifteen years to get this off my mind. Forgive me?
SAM: I already accepted your apology.
WARREN: But you didn’t forgive me.
SAM: Listen, I thanked you for apologizing, and I accepted your apology.
WARREN: And you said we’re friends.
SAM: And I said we were friends. What else do you want out of me?
WARREN: Forgive me.
SAM: I accepted—
WARREN: It’s not the same thing.
SAM: It’s plenty.
WARREN: No. It’s not enough. There’s something unsettled.
SAM: There is?
WARREN: I still feel lousy until you forgive me.
SAM: You do? …Look, just get over it.
WARREN: Please. Please say you forgive me.
SAM: And if I don’t?
WARREN: I’ll keep feeling bad about it.
SAM: Maybe you should feel bad.
WARREN: I don’t want to feel bad.
SAM: Then do something about it.
WARREN: I am doing something about it.
SAM: No, you’re asking me to do something about it.
WARREN: Yes. Forgive me.
SAM: (Long pause.) Okay, Worm. Just this once, just for you, I’m going to do something I don’t want to do. I’m going to do you the biggest favor anyone ever did you in your life, so I hope you appreciate it and then leave me alone. And I’m only doing this, you understand, for old times’ sake. Fifteen years ago you did me a big favor. You got me out of that town, so thanks. And this will make us even. Agreed?
SAM: All right, so ask me to forgive you again.
WARREN: Please forgive me.
SAM: No. I don’t forgive you. I’ll never forgive you as long as I live.
WARREN: That’s… what a jerk.
SAM: Yes. What a jerk.
WARREN: Some favor.
SAM: Yes. Now you’ll have to go get a life somewhere else. The world is your oyster.
WARREN: I… but I still feel lousy.
SAM: Good. Get over it. (Shuts the door.)