Author's note: This is actually the version of Scene Five that I originally wrote for the first draft of this production. The major difference is that in this version, when I read and interpreted the profile that had been given to me for Jeremy's character, I inferred that he never turned from a life of crime and died without having had a family, still in his old ways. It was only after Justin, who wrote and plays Jeremy's character, read the original version of the script that he told me he had had something different in mind for the character. He said that Jeremy actually did settle down and have a family, gave up the crime empire after a while, and ended up going to church and getting saved. When I revised the script into the final version, I made the appropriate changes in the funeral speeches and in the part where David and Jenna confront Jeremy; these changes were included in the final version of the script, the one that we are actually going to perform. What you see here, however, is a slightly darker version of how the play and Jeremy's life might have ended. The parts with Chloe and Isabelle, Susan and Rae, and Brooke and Peter did not change between these two versions, and so I have omitted them from this alternate ending, as they would be redundant. Also, the original script from which this scene came was written before the creators of Dax and Harrison gave me the profiles of their characters, which is why neither of them are included in this scene, and the group of friends is referred to as nine people instead of eleven.
(Lights up. All characters but JEREMY are standing together onstage, with PETER at the center. They are all dressed nicely and looking somber. Some may be crying slightly. ISABELLE has a book under her arm. They are all sixty-eight.)
CHLOE: (she should be next to ISABELLE.) Hi, Isabelle. It's good to see you. Well, I mean—
ISABELLE: I understand what you mean, Chloe. It's always nice to see you, too…just not considering the circumstances.
CHLOE: Of course. It's so terrible what happened…
DAVID: It certainly is terrible, but still, I had always had a feeling that it might happen sometime. Didn't we warn him about that, Jenna?
JENNA: David, don't say things like that. At least try to respect him, now of all times…
DAVID: Of course I respect him. We all do. I'm just saying it really is a tragedy, because we warned him so much…
SUSAN: Things…won't be quite the same anymore.
RAE: Even though none of us see that much of each other these days, it still feels like he was still another part of the old group.
SUSAN: He was still part of the group…he was always part of the group…
BROOKE: Do you think it's about time to get started now, Peter?
PETER: (looking at his watch.) Yes, I suppose it is. (Clearing his throat, taking on a manner of authority) First of all, I'd like to thank you all for taking time out of your schedules to be here today. As you all know, we are gathered here to celebrate the life of Jeremy Donald O'Doyle, who passed away two weeks ago. Sadly, Jeremy's passing was not to due natural causes that often accompany old age. Rather, he was killed in a drive-by shooting by a young man who committed this heinous act for initiation into a gang.
(The other characters ad-lib slight crying or lamenting for JEREMY in some way.) It is quite possible that the eight of us here today were some of Jeremy's only true friends. His parents and most of his siblings passed away years ago, and he never married or had children. We all knew of Jeremy's connections to the mob, a line of work whose members are usually allied only for the purpose of monetary gain, and which probably bred no true friends for Jeremy. Some might find it ironic that this sort of man happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up dying at the hands of one who was trying to gain acceptance into his very organization. However, even though we all tried to discourage Jeremy from his criminal activity throughout the time we knew him, it will do us no good to try to blame or accuse him now. We can only remember the times we all spent with him throughout elementary and middle school, high school, college, and beyond, and regret that he did not change his dangerous and illegal lifestyle while he had the chance. Throughout the earlier stages of our lives, before Jeremy became so caught up in his crimes, he was a good and caring friend to us all. Even after that, throughout the later stages of life, we all stood by him and tried out best to still be true friends and have a positive moral influence on him. Jeremy was with us all through some very joyful, and some very difficult, times of our lives. He shall be missed.
(Lights down. When they come up, JENNA and DAVID are onstage talking to each other. They are in their late forties or fifties.)
DAVID: (awkwardly) I'm still not sure how we're gonna do this, Jenna. I mean, Jeremy is his own person, and we have to let him do what he wants—
JENNA: To the point of breaking the law and endangering other people? I don't think so. Come on, David, you've been his friend for a long time. You can't tell me you're comfortable letting him go on like this.
DAVID: Well, no, I'm not comfortable with it…it's just that he's been at it so long that I don't think he'll be very open to the possibility of change.
JENNA: We have to at least try, David. I know we've all tried to talk to him about it by ourselves before, but maybe having a couple of us together, and for the sole purpose of confronting him gently, will have some sort of effect.
DAVID: Maybe, but—
JENNA: Shh! He's coming! (JEREMY enters.)
JEREMY: (cheerfully) Hey! David, Jenna! After all the people I deal with, it's great to see a couple of friendly faces again. Long time no see, huh?
DAVID: (nervous but trying to act casual) Uh, yeah, long time no see, buddy! (He and JEREMY slap each other on the back in greeting.) How've you been?
JEREMY: Me? I've been great. Raking in lots of dough…just finished a deal last night, actually…How about you?
DAVID: Hey, you know me. Everything is just great—
JEREMY: Are you doin' okay, man? You sound kinda nervous.
JENNA: He's fine, Jeremy. Listen, the reason we asked you to meet us here is because we needed to talk to you about something.
DAVID: (trying to sound confident) Uh, yeah. Something important.
JEREMY: Okay. Shoot.
DAVID: Well, it's…it's…
JENNA: It's your criminal activities, Jeremy. They've got to stop.
JENNA: Look, I know you think you're invincible and that it'll never catch up with you, but even if it doesn't, what you're doing is still plain wrong. You're making very dangerous things available to anyone who has enough money to pay for them.
JEREMY: Look, I don't tell you guys how to live your lives—
JENNA: You're putting everyone you know, and lots of people you don't, in danger! Doesn't that mean anything to you?
JEREMY: Whaddya mean, everyone I know? I know you guys, but do you ever see cop cars or rival gang members comin' after ya?
DAVID: (mustering courage) It's more than just us, Jeremy. This is seriously bad stuff. We don't want you to get hurt.
JEREMY: (sarcastically) Well, your concern is just touching. But if that's all you had to say, I think I'm through wastin' my time here. (Begins to exit.)
JENNA: Jeremy, wait! We're your friends—we just want to help you!
JEREMY: Well, maybe I don't want no help. See you later, friends. (The last word carries a tone that shows he is annoyed and frustrated with them. He exits.)
DAVID: (to JENNA, trying to make the best of things.) Well…we tried.
JENNA: Yeah, we tried. (sighs) Come on, David, let's go.
(Lights down. When they come up, everyone except JEREMY is onstage once again, in the same positions as at the beginning of scene V.)
PETER: Would anyone like to say a few words? (There is a pause. Then CHLOE steps forward.)
CHLOE: I remember when Jeremy first came to our school, and he didn't know anyone. I went over to go talk to him.
SUSAN: And I came, too.
CHLOE: Yes, that's right. We were always friends with Jeremy after that.
SUSAN: I'm going to miss him.
CHLOE: Me, too.
DAVID: Jeremy had always been a great friend to me. On my wedding day, I told him that he had never let me down, and I meant it. It's really a shame that he never got out of the crime business. But still, he was a friend.
BROOKE: He was part of our group. The nine of us have been friends for as long as we all can remember.
RAE: It'll be hard to get used to not being able to talk to him anymore.
JENNA: These days, especially with us getting older, it seems like a lot of us have had people die in our lives. Some through car accidents, some through cancer—whatever. But that doesn't make any of the deaths easier to deal with. We'll remember Jeremy just like each of our other loved ones. (There is a pause.)
PETER: Thank you, everyone. Would anyone else like to say anything? (Another pause.)
ISABELLE: Well…I'd like to read something, if that's all right.
PETER: Go ahead. Please.
ISABELLE: (stepping forward.) This is from my autobiography. I finished it recently. (She opens the book she has been holding and appears to be flipping to a certain page. Then she begins to read.) It's funny how life works sometimes. You never really know what it will bring next. You may be the happiest person in the world for days, even weeks in a row, only to be brought down by some unexpected disaster. Something like being diagnosed with cancer, or losing a friend. You'll cry out in despair. You'll feel like giving up. You'll wish that you could do something—anything—to change the way things are. (Pause for emphasis.) Unfortunately, you can't always change what's going on around you. That's just a fact of life. But you don't have to let your circumstances change the way you live your life. Take comfort in your friends and family, the ones who will care about you and support you despite all the hard times you're going through. Rest in the promise of a loving God who is big enough to help your situation and real enough to strengthen you when you feel like you can't move on. Don't forget that your life is short and that however things are, whether good or bad, it's likely to change before you know it. You'll have good times, and you'll have bad times, but you only have a certain number of days in your life, so press forward, and don't spend any of them in sadness and despair. (She closes the book.)
PETER: Thank you, Isabelle. (He resumes his tone of authority and addresses everyone else.) My friends, none of us are as young as we used to be, and, not to be morbid, but Jeremy's death is a reminder of just how short our time here might be. So today, we are faced with a choice. We've all faced some form of tragedy or hardship, possibly several, in our lives, and this is just one more instance of such a thing. But should we spend our remaining days bitter, heartbroken, and lonely, or should we enjoy and make the best of the time we have left? Should we continue to run from the tragedies of the past, or is it time instead to run towards the God who created us, who knows the rest of our days, and has good plans for us? In this swirling, shifting hourglass that we like to call time, is it too late for our lives to have meaning? Is it too late for us to make a difference in someone else's life? Is it too late to let go of the past and embrace the years we have left? No, my friends, it is not too late. This is not the end. In fact, this is just the beginning…of the rest of our lives.