The Boys Next Door
from the play written by Tom Griffin
"The Boys Next Door" is a play about four mentally handicapped men who live in a
home together in New England. Their social worker, Jack, is becoming burned out with his job, and
his life. Lucien P. Smith and Norman Bulansky are mentally retarded. Barry
Klemper is a brilliant schizophrenic who fantasizes that he is a golf pro, and
Arnold Wiggins, the ringleader, is a hyperactive, compulsive chatterer, who
suffers from deep seated insecurities and a persecution complex.
(Barry's father is coming to visit him. Barry and his father don't have a good past, and it's probably the reason why Barry has been institutionalized several times. He begins this monologue as he reflects on memories of the institutions.)
Barry: Every Christmas, no matter what he sent me those chocolates. But, and I guess Dad just forgot this, but I never really liked chocolate very much. I'd get stomachaches from it, you know. So I gave it to all the other guys on the ward. Every Christmas. We had this one guy named Wally something, who'd eat the chocolate part and save all the insides in a box he had. And he'd keep th box with him all the time. Until one day he died and one of the attendants just threw the box away. I mean, it was all Wally owned, this box of the insides of all the chocolates he'd ever had, and they just threw it away. They didn't even ask his family or anything. I don't understand that. They didn't even look to see inside. They just threw it away. (Barry breaks down and sobs)
(Lucien P. Smith is a mentally retarded man who is serving as a witness to his own case.The state claims Lucien is capable of supporting himself without government help. Lucien of course has no idea what is really going on, but in this monologue, there is a "Time Freeze" if you will, where Lucien comes out of his retarded state, in a rather dramatic monologue. As soon as he is finished, he returns to the retarded state, and the rest of the world goes along, as if it had never happened.)
Senator Clarke: Mr. Smith.... uh.... I'll tell you what, why don't you tell us a little about where you live, your home. Could you do that for us Mr. Smith?
Lucien P. Smith: (singing proudly) A B C D... L M N O P... (stops disoriented, starts again) A B L M N O ... It's hard. You know, it's hard.....
(Silence. Clarke, touched, starts again)
Clarke: That was very nice Lucien. Please, why don't you tell us about your friends?
Lucien: (after a moment) Norman.. he be the doughnut man.
Clarke: Doughnut man? Why do you call him that?
Lucien: He be fat with doughnuts. Arnold's got rugs. He's like nuts or something. He's my friend too. And Barry. He golfs. He be gone now. I miss Barry. I do. I miss Barry. (pause, he sings again) A B C D E F....
(Silence. Lucien buries his head in his hands. He cannot continue. Clarke only watches. Lucien looks up. He stands. He is no longer retarded Lucien, but rather a confidence and articulate man. He takes the floor).
Lucien: I stand before you a middle-aged man in an uncomfortable suit, a man whose capacity for rational thought is somewhere between a five-year-old and an oyster. (pause) I am retarded. I am damaged. I am sick inside from so many years of confusion, utter and profound confusion. I am mystified by faucets and radios and elevators and newspapers and popular songs. I cannot always remember the names of my parents. But I will not go away. And I will not wither because the cage is too small. I am here to remind the speices.. of.. the species. I am Lucien Percival Smith. And without me, without my shattered crippled brain, you will never again be frightened by what you might have become. Or indeed, by what your future might make you.
(Lucien finishes, and sits. For Jack and Senator Clarke, no time has elapsed. The lights return)
Clarke: Lucien? Just one other question. Do you feel you could work outside of the sheltered workshop at the Center?
Jack: What do you think Lucien?
Lucien: Lucien P. Smith says it's hard.
Clarke: Thank you Lucien.
Lucien: (standing, showing Clarke) I got a library card. It's green. It's got my name. Lucien P Smith. It's green. I mean business!
Kudos and much thanks go to Brandon for these monologues, it is very much appreciated.