Homework Help

Ramey Harper-Mangels '21
(As the lights rise, we see a split stage. On one side is Charlie’s room, as well as Charlie. This side of the stage is a bedroom. There is a desk upstage and a bed downstage, perhaps a chest of drawers or a bookshelf. Everything is neat and efficient. There are a modest number of scholastic awards, as well as a keyboard, music stands, and a couple of instruments. Charlie is working at the desk, and finishes with a flourish. Charlie sighs, stands, files the homework, then crashes on the bed exhausted. On the other side of the stage is Riley's room and ... Riley? The room has much the same furniture as Charlie’s, but it is difficult to tell that Riley is present as the entire room is strewn with papers, writing utensils, mugs, coffee stains, etc. Underneath the pile, it is difficult to see Riley at the downstage desk. Riley’s head is laying on the desk. Defeated, Riley dials the cell phone on the desk without looking. The phone on Charlie’s desk rings. Charlie rolls  over to look at the phone, then rolls back over. There are a few more moments of ringing, then silence. Riley dials again, and Charlie’s phone rings again. Charlie shoots up.)

Charlie: (Just wanting to sleep) Arghhh! (Goes to the phone) Sal! I’ve told you before: I don’t know where your beary-wugsy is, so will you plea-

Riley: (Not listening) Charlie?

Charlie: -se stop ... (starts to realise this isn’t Sal) stop ... (awkward pause, only Charlie cares)

Riley: Charlie?

Charlie: (Quite surprised by the caller, and a little embarrassed about the Sal outburst) Riley? (Curious) Why are you calling?

Riley: Charlie? Could you ... (this is difficult to say)would you be willing to do a favor?

Charlie: (Reflexively cautious) That depends.

Riley: (immediately apologetic, sitting up now) Of course! Of course! I completely understand if you’re not available. I’m sure I-

Charlie: (Cutting off the stream) Riley?

Riley: Yeah?

Charlie: What’s going on?

(Riley gathers the strength to speak, Charlie sits back down on the bed.)

Riley: (Riley has no idea where to begin) I, I...  I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know whether it's bad luck, bad timing, or just bad judgement, but I’m buried in work (literally, as the audience can see).

Charlie: (Aware that it would take a very serious predicament for Riley to reach out for help) What’s the damage?

Riley: (A short, bitter laugh) What isn’t? I have two papers, three projects, regular homework, all due within the three-day period consisting of yesterday to tomorrow. Not to mention the lines I have to memorize and ... (choosing words very carefully) other things.

Charlie: Wow.

Riley: It's even gotten to the point where I’ve considered the unthinkable.

Charlie: (Alarmed) Riley? Do I need to contact Doctor-

Riley: No. No, no, no. (These “No”s with almost a genuine laugh). I was referring to plagiarism, not... no. 
Charlie: (Relieved) Well, that’s better than the other option, though still not ideal. (Genuinely) Look, I want to help, but what do you want me to do?

Riley: Quite honestly I’m at a point where I don’t know how to begin. I need you to help me begin.

Charlie: Certainly, though I know you’re a fine organizer yourself.

Riley: Yeah, well... I’ve needed to spend that energy elsewhere lately.

Charlie: Elsewhere?

Riley: Well… (tries to decide how much to tell) There, there’s been a death in the family.

Charlie: (Sympathetic and concerned) A death?


Riley: (A relief to tell someone) Lou.


Charlie: Oh Riley. (Both sit in silence). I’ll be right over.



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