A play by Zoe Tengan
Grant: A Mexican American eighteen year old. His skin is slightly darker than the other characters, and his hair is unkempt.
Brady: A Caucasian twenty two year old. He is taller and more muscular than Grant. He has a genuine smile and friendly demeanor.
Greg: A bitter Caucasian man in his late 50s. His hair is turning gray, and is overweight. He has signs of being a chronic smoker and alcoholic.
Time and Place:
Some time in winter. Present.
Brady and Grant stand stage right of the living room, with the front door behind them. Upstage is the stairs to the second floor of the apartment setting. Upstage left is the kitchen while the dining table is center stage. Grant moves to leave up the stairs behind him, as Brady pulls him back.
Brady: Grant, come on, I've told you this a million times. You're not a murderer.
Grant: [He scoffs] Sure, and the sky is purple.
Brady: Grant, it was a car accident.
Grant: Yeah, an accident I caused. [Angrily] Face it, Brady. I killed her. You shouldn't have taken me to the grave today. It felt wrong to go on this day. Whatever happened to resting in peace?
Brady: I figured she'd want to see you more, especially on your eighteenth birthday. We haven't gone in forever. I'd figured it'd be nice to visit her.
Grant: That's where you're wrong. You know I hate my birthday. [Softly] Besides, it's not like she can see us anymore, Brady.
Brady: [Pause] Look, I'm sorry I dragged you out there today. [He grabs hold of Grant's shoulders to look him in the eyes] I just wish you could see what really happened out there. There's no way this was your fault. Da—Greg just wants you to believe you did it. He's trying to blame you for something you couldn't control. You were seven, for crying out loud! It's not your fault that there was heavy snow and slippery roads. It was that drunk driver's fault for speeding in those kinds of conditions. You were just having the time of your life singing those Christmas songs with mom when it happened. Greg wasn't even there; it was just Mom and us in the car!
Grant: Still. [Forcefully, as if he's trying to convince himself] Maybe if I hadn't been so loud and obnoxious in the car, she'd still be alive, and you wouldn't have broken your arm in the accident. Or maybe if I hadn't told her I wanted to go on a joy ride around town to see the snow and Christmas lights. [Pause, then angrily] Why are you even defending me? Greg's your father; you should be taking his side.
Brady: Because I'm your brother.
Brady: And Greg wanted nothing to do with us.
Grant: No. He wanted nothing to do with me. He wanted you to leave and live with him after you became eighteen and put me up for adoption. Yet, you declined. You had the option to leave and be with your actual father, and you turned him down. You didn't have to put up with me.
Brady: [Scoffs] And what, who'd take care of you if I lived with Greg?
Grant: I would've been fine on my own. Besides, you wanted nothing to do with me either.
Brady: You were fifteen when Greg left. You wouldn't have been able to survive on your own if I had gone with him. [Angrily] And if I really wanted nothing to do with you, why would I still be here supporting your ass?
Grant: Then maybe you should leave. I'm eighteen now, so I don't need a guardian. Go. Be with Greg. I'm sure he'd love to see you again; you're his poster child. [A long pause as Grant stares at the ground as Brady frowns at him] I get it, okay. I'm not wanted; I ruined your chance of having a legitimate family. It's not the first time someone walked out of my life.
Brady: [Worriedly] Your father didn't have a choice in leaving, Grant. You know that. He wanted to stay here with you and Mom, but the ICE agents found out he was undocumented at his workplace. He hadn't realized his temporary visa expired.
Grant: He could've tried harder. Why couldn't he fucking follow protocol with his documentation if he really wanted to stay? He made it all the way across the border but couldn't fucking sign some documents.
Brady: It's not that simple. Deportation is tricky to avoid, Grant.
Grant: It should be simple though.
Brady: I know. [Pause] Besides, I wouldn't really call Greg a great father. All he cared about was making sure I was winning sports events and doing well in school. It's like he wanted to prove to Mom that he was better than your dad. I felt like he meant well, but he just made things worse, especially after your dad left and he had to move in with us to support us financially.
Grant: But Greg was here to watch you grow up. That's something special. I didn't get that. Mom was too afraid to show too much affection to me in front of Greg, and Greg absolutely despised me. My dad left before I turned three.
Brady: Your dad loved you, too. He would hold you for hours and hours when you were an infant, whispering in Spanglish how much he loved you. I envied that. Greg never hugged or praised me; only criticized. It was always mom who had to explain that Greg was just like that. [Pause] So when I saw that he was treating you like shit, I couldn't take it. It's one thing to treat your own son that way, but your stepson? Blaming you for something like that? I snapped. I didn't care that we were in the hospital or that he was my dad; I needed him to realize how much of a jerk he was.
Grant: [Bewildered] You snapped at him?
Brady: Yeah. I couldn't take it anymore, so I yelled at him, and punched him. He took it out on you from the very day she died. Both of your parents were gone, and you weren't even able to grieve. He kept blaming you when he hadn't been there. Calling you slurs; making racial remarks. It was infuriating. [Pause] It's like he didn't even care that mom died. He just wanted to make an excuse to rid himself of you. So, yeah, of course I snapped, and hit him.
Grant: But now he's gone. Don't you want to stay in touch? He's your dad.
Brady: Sure, I miss him, but he needs to change first. He needs to apologize first, and then I'll talk to him.
Grant: [To himself] You still should at least talk to him. [To Brady] You were talking about Mom's will?
Brady: Oh, yeah. I have a copy of it upstairs. I still have to work on the papers you have to sign from the attorney, but I can show you what she gave us. [Animatedly] I think you'll be pretty happy to hear what she's written. In the meantime, let's make Mom's favorite dish tonight.
Grant: [Smiles and walks toward the kitchen upstage left] Enchiladas?
Brady: [Nods] Enchiladas.
Lights dim as Brady exits to go find their mother's will. He returns with the papers in hand as Brady puts the enchiladas in the oven. Brady opens the packet of papers and places them on the kitchen counter.
Brady: Grant, come look at this for a sec. [Grant takes off his oven mitts and walks over to Brady who points at a line from the will]
Grant: [Grips the paper] What's so exciting? What does it say?
Brady: Read this part.
Grant: Okay. [Clears his throat and reads aloud] I give absolutely all my real and personal property to my children, Grant and Brady Jones. Wait. Greg's not mentioned.
Brady: Exactly. She mentions him as her spouse; but doesn't give anything to him. She gave everything to us.
Grant: [Stares incredulously] That can't be right, she loved Greg. Why would she exclude him from everything?
Brady: There's a difference between love and trust, Grant. She knew he was an untrustworthy father and husband.
Grant continues to read the paper, frowning. Brady notices, and pats him on the back.
Brady: What's wrong?
Grant: [Puts the paper down] All her possessions? So, the house? Everything?
Brady: That's what that line means.
Grant: [Pause] But why? I don't understand. Why give anything to me?
Brady: [He looks him in the eyes] What are you talking about?
Grant: You're Greg's son. You guys were an actual family.
Brady: No. We are a family, Grant. Mom loved you. Mom loved us both equally. She loved your dad just as much as she did with Greg before he became a different person.
Grant looks away, then a brief pause. He turns to go tend to the enchiladas in the oven, when Brady spins him around and envelops him into a hug.
Brady: You know I love you, too. You'll always be my little brother, no matter what happens. [Grant mumbles something but muffled by Brady's chest. Brady steps backwards] What is it?
Grant: The enchiladas are burning. [He picks up the mitts and opens the oven door] And Brady?
Grant: Don't do that. [He pouts] I don't like hugs.
Brady: [He laughs] I know.
Brady sets up the table and enchiladas on the dining room table center stage. Grant goes to grab the utensils, when knocking is heard from the front door.
Grant: I'll get it.
Grant moves stage right out of Brady's sight as Brady sets the utensils and goes to grab the drinking glasses from a cabinet. From the front door, a man shouts profanities. Greg enters through the doorway and shoves Grant, causing Grant and a vase resting on a side table to crash to the floor A picture frame of Grant's dad and mom has shifted to one side. Brady, alarmed, goes toward the door
Brady: Grant, who is it? Are you all right? [As Brady turns toward the front door, Grant is on the ground as Greg stands above him, fist clenched. Brady scowls at the sight of Greg] What are you doing here? [To Greg]
Grant groans on the floor as Brady moves to sit him up properly. Greg lunges towards them, pointing at Grant.
Greg: [Threatening] What is this wetback doing here?
Brady: Excuse me? [He puts himself in front of Grant, as Grant tries to recollect himself from the fall] This is our house now. I should be asking you that question. Why are you here?
Greg: I'm here to collect her things. They're mine. All of it.
Greg: Ally's things. I'm here to collect what she gave to him [He points at Grant] it belongs to me.
Brady: [Approaches his father] No. They belong to him. It says so on the will. You can't just come in here and take what you want.
Greg: Yes I can. I am your father, and I'm in charge of all of her belongings. So, I'll be taking all of it. Including this old house.
[Grant moves further and further away from them slowly, as Brady begins to raise his voice.]
Brady: I am the executor of the will, and your name is not mentioned in any section other than whom she is survived by. Everything belongs to us, as shown on her will. Now, you better leave, before I call the cops for trespassing.
[Greg slaps Brady across the face, but Brady recovers quickly. Grant looks in horror, but remains quiet, unsure what to do.]
Greg: You better watch who you're talking to boy. That's no way to talk to your father
Brady: [Glares] You're not my father. You never were. It's no surprise that she left you out of the will. You never cared for us in the first place. At one point, I thought you would change. I thought you would man up after mom died and step up and be an actual parent. [Scornfully] As if; you became a spineless prick the day you left. Wallowing yourself into cigarettes and alcohol to pretend that you're not a coward. What a slob. [He glances over at a tilted picture frame on the wall with a picture of Grant's dad and their mom. Pause] Or maybe, you're just embarrassed that you are a shittier father than the "border rat" you call Grant's dad.
Greg: You little sh—
Brady: I want you out of this house in five seconds, or I will call the police, and tell them how you physically assaulted my brother and I, and trespassed onto our property.
[Greg sneers for a second before storming out of the house. Grant approaches his brother slowly as Brady physically relaxes.]
Grant: You all right?
Brady: [Sighs] Yeah. You?
Grant: I'll be fine. You took a mighty blow there.
Brady: [Chuckles] It'll heal. Our enchiladas, however, will probably need another round in the oven.
[Grant and Brady glance over at the dining table with the untouched dinner.]
Brady: I don't know about you, but I'm starving.
Grant: Me too.
[Lights focus on center stage as they sit down to eat their food at the dining room in piece. The broken vase is cleaned up and the picture frame is no longer crooked.]
Grant: So, I take it you won't be reconciling with Greg anytime soon.
Brady: [Smirks] After that incident? Nope. I doubt he'll ever change.
Grant: Even though he's your father?
Brady: I don't think there's a way for him to even begin to mend the things he's done, Grant.
Grant: [Pause, then slowly] Well, thanks. You didn't have to stand up for me, you know.
Brady: That's what brothers are for, Grant. [Pause] I was thinking, maybe we should take care of the paperwork sooner than later.
Grant: Of course.
Brady: And maybe we can stop by Mom's grave more often.
Grant: [Glances over at the picture frame of his mom and his father] Maybe I should find him. You know, to see how much we've grown, and try to stay in touch?
Brady: I think he'd like that a lot.