Please Say You Forgive Me


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.)

SAM: Yes?

WARREN: I’m Warren Crawford.

SAM: Yes?

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.

SAM: Why?

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!

SAM: Why?

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.

SAM: Yes.

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?

WARREN: Agreed.

SAM: All right, so ask me to forgive you again.

WARREN: Please forgive me.

SAM: No.


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.)


© 2012 Greg Bryant under the Creative Commons


About Greg Bryant

I teach writing and literature at Highland Community College in northeast Kansas.
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3 Responses to Please Say You Forgive Me

  1. ericroberts20 says:

    I’m really curious. what did Warren call Sam in the past?

    • Greg says:

      Well, I left that ambiguous on purpose. It could have been any “well-known categorical insult.” A racial epithet, something about sexual preference, something about ancestry or former nationality or educational placement or income level or just about anything someone phrases deliberately to make it sound shameful. It doesn’t matter to me; it’s all hate, hurtful, and hard to forgive. Eventually forgiveness is for the benefit of the forgiver. The offender just has to live down own his errors. I need to work on that theme, though, and bring it out more clearly so the category of insult won’t seem so important.

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