A darkened room, Ted sits in a chair staring at a knapsack table on the other side of the room. Jason slowly paces around him, arms folded, breathing heavily.
TED: I don’t know why you insist on being here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that you took the time to stop by. I hope you know that. But you really don’t need to be here. I’ll be fine. And besides, this is none of your concern. I’ll sleep this off and, you know… tomorrow I’ll be OK.
JASON: Is that right?
TED: Yeah… yeah in fact it is.
JASON: This is not alright.
TED: OK, listen Jason – I don’t need you in here telling me what I can and can’t do. You’ve been doing this for the last 15 years.
TED: You can’t possibly think that you can help me now, can you?
JASON: Why else would I be here? It sure is not for my own amusement, I can tell you that. Is it really that hard for you to accept that I would rather not see you like this? Maybe I want to see you to get better.
TED: Better! Yes! I love it! Better. Tomorrow, I’ll tidy up, dust myself off and become a functioning member of society. Pinstriped suit. Power tie. Ha! (Taking a sinister turn to a whisper.) Or maybe I’ll inspire myself enough to get off the couch, grab a rifle and start picking people off on the overpass above the Pomona Freeway.
JASON: Jeez, Ted. You’re crazy when you're like this.
TED: Oh, please.
JASON: We talked about this last time and d’you remember what I suggested?
TED: No, what?
TED: (Smirks.) Funny.
JASON: I don't think so. I'm serious as a heart attack.
TED: You don't understand. I need this. (Motions to a knapsack on the table.)
JASON: You think you do.
TED: Why do you have to condescend?
JASON: You have a problem.
JASON: Listen, I'm here to help.
TED: If only you saw things the way I do. Then we both wouldn’t be here.
JASON: You don’t mean that.
TED: Yes, I do.
JASON: What about Karen? Don’t you think she wants to see you back on your feet?
TED: Right, Karen. She’d side with you I suppose. But she’s smart enough to know a lost cause when she sees it.
JASON: You underestimate people, Ted. I think that’s part of the problem.
TED: Here we go.
JASON: Don’t you remember the steps?
TED: The steps? I hope you're kidding. The best numbers statistically say that it works half of the time. If that. I'm supposed to surrender over to those odds? Are you serious?
JASON: You're not thinking straight, listen…
TED: And another thing—why is it that you have it out for me?
JASON: I don’t have it out for you.
TED: Well, I think you do.
JASON: You really think that?
TED: Sometimes, yes.
JASON: Sometimes? Like when? Now?
TED: Because you’re always trying to—
JASON: Trying to what? Help you out of a rut?
JASON: And you take exception?
TED: I’m uncomfortable with it sometimes. That’s all.
JASON: But you’re comfortable with all of this! (Flailing his arms, motioning around the room.)
TED: I am.
JASON: (Pauses. Changes to a sympathetic tone.) Well the old Ted wouldn't, I know that. We used to laugh at people who threw away their entire lives for nothing. Like Sam Moss. You remember him?
TED: (Snickers.) Of course.
JASON: Chased around that girl Anna for what, two years of high school? When he finally got his chance to take her out—well, you know.
TED: Yeah, I know. She shot him down. Then he drank himself silly and fell off the face of the earth.
JASON: Yeah. Last I heard Sam was still living at his aunt's place, cooped up in her basement. He never leaves.
JASON: Point is, he let his obsession take over. And it ruined him.
TED: (Grins slightly) Well, you've got a point there.
JASON: That’s what I’m saying. Do you wanna end up like him?
JASON: You know that nothing is going to change until you want it to change. Where is your resolve? You used to have it.
TED: I know.
JASON: Don’t you wanna just live your life?
TED: Sometimes. (Pauses.) Sometimes I don't. There I said it. How’s that?
JASON: Oh yeah? Tell that to your knapsack over there. (Points to the knapsack on the table.)
TED: Believe me, I have.
JASON: Uh-huh. And what’d it have to say?
TED: Nothing, predictably enough.
JASON: Right. (Leaning over Ted’s shoulder.) And where did that get you?
TED: (Looks up, no response.)
TED: (Pauses.) Here.
JASON: (Jason walks slowly around the room.) I don’t think you really want to see this all come to an end. Somewhere, deep down, you know that I’m right. You know Karen’s right. You don’t want to continue to do this, Ted. (Puts a hand on Ted’s shoulder.) It’s time to put an end to all of this madness.
TED: Whatever you say, pal.
(Jason paces around the room murmuring to himself. Ted subtly scoffs at Jason.)
JASON: I wish you’d just snap out of it already.
TED: C’mon, Jason. There’s nothing I have to look forward to. No dreams, no prospects. You know and I know it. Hell, even Sam Moss’d know it. Whenever I wake up in the morning, whenever I distract myself during the day, and whenever I go to sleep at night, all I have to look forward to is this. (Points to the knapsack on the table.)
JASON: Listen, if you wanna ruin your life, go right ahead, but don’t expect me to go along with all this nonsense.
TED: Nonsense. (Pauses.) I happen to think the exact same thing.
JASON: Enough. I give up.
TED: You give up? (Laughs.) Then what chance do I have?
JASON: You’ve very bright. You know what you need to do. I’ve said all I have to say. (Good luck, friend.
Jason walks out the door. Ted stands to his feet. He walks to the other side of the room and retrieves the knapsack. He brings it back to his chair, sits down and puts the knapsack on his lap. He sighs and looks around the room. He slowly opens the knapsack, sticks his hand in, pauses and then looks up.