Dan Duling

Hard Road Home

[full length play, 2 acts]

[Produced, 8/99 Sanford Meisner Theater Center, North Hollywood, CA, and Theatre Shed., L.A. Workshopped A.S.K. Theatre, L.A. Produced, Columbia Theater, Portland; New City Theatre, Seattle.]

Committed to making his marriage work this time around, a house painter returns to the motel he once called home, only to find his estranged wife trading sex for siding from an aluminum siding salesman. ďI hope you have some idea just how sick you are, Shirl.Ē ďSome idea.Ē Excellent acting challenges in this surprisingly complicated dark comedy. [cast 1 w, 2 m]

SHIRLEY: You do want your siding on my exterior, donít you? Well, hereís my fine print: Iíll sign whatever you want me to sign, but you have to stay here tonight.


JAKE: Thereís something about the road at night, the road and speed. And itís not just the feeling of having a place to go or of getting away from someplace else. It has to do with dreaming. The road moves faster than the eye...changing...The billboard on the horizon, the billboard nearer, passing the billboard, the billboard vanished...a dream of the road. When your brain wants to dream, your eyes start moving, fidgeting back and forth. But the road can do that for you, move for your eyes. It is the dream, the dream of moving, the dream of leaving, the dream of getting somewhere. On the road, you still need sleep, but you donít need dreams...I know...Because when I pull over for some shut-eye, I either donít dream at all, or I dream about the road...


SHIRLEY: Hold me. It wonít hurt. If you want to think itís just business, if that helps, then think that. If you want it to be love, then think that. Or donít think at all. Thatís all I want...to not think at all...with you holding me.

CAL: Donít expect any miracles.


JAKE: Why do you think I came back?

CAL: I donít know!

JAKE: Thatís right, you donít. And yet youíre standing there holding a gun on me while you finish your business. No ďhi, hello, how are you, thanks for the use of your wife.Ē No nothing, Cal. Just a gun in the face and a contract for some of that ugly no-painting-ever aluminum shit thatíll end up costing more than the whole damn place is worth!

JAKE: You can put down the gun. Looks pretty silly.

CAL: Hey, I didnít know what else to do. When a husband walks through the bedroom door, sometimes itís hard to be very original.

JAKE: Youíre being very helpful, Cal. Thereís a lot to be said for having somebody hold a gun on you. It helps you get your priorities straightened out. No beating around the bush.


JAKE: Tell me, Cal, was it a little like making love to somebody in a coma?...Donít mince words in front of Shirley. She can take the truth. Every day of our marriage I was doing things I regret out of respect for truth...for what she made me think was truth. Itís doubtful she took anything you did or tried to do tonight personally anyway. I used to call it her ďgraveside manner.Ē


SHIRLEY: You taught me something last night, Jake. You taught me itís not enough to just understand. Iíve got to feel everything, too!


SHIRLEY: Now Iím thinking about something else you said last night, something about loving something enough to kill it. Well, let me tell you something. That is so...so STUPID! Marla was never gonna kill you. She just wanted to maim you! Thatís what loveís about. Wounds that wonít ever heal the same again, crying that never stops even after the tears are gone, bloodstains that never wash out no matter how hard you try...

Looking ahead in 2012.

All screenplays are registered with the WGA–West and are fully protected property of the author.

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A little extra...

Dulingís plays have been produced throughout the United States. Most recently, ďMonstrosityĒ received staged readings at the Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the Inkubator reading series by the Katselas Theatre Company. Before that, ďMonstrosityĒ also received a staged reading at Innovation Theatre Works in Bend, Oregon. The search for theatres interested in producing ďMonstrosityĒ continues in earnest in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.