THUMPERTOWN THEATER PRESENTS… Bill and Bob Go to the Library
A Screenplay by Robert F. Beach
The scene opens on a living room. The furnishings are clearly of high quality but from another era. The date is May 12 1935 and it’s Mother’s Day. There are some gift-wrapped packages on the coffee table and an abundance of fresh flowers in vases around the room. Two tall men rise from their seats and are led from the room by a woman who appears to be the hostess.
A very brief Scene 1 ends and Scene 2 opens with the two men seated in a room that is clearly a library. The man who looks somewhat ill starts speaking.
BOB: My wife informs me that you want to…
BILL: SHUT UP!!
BOB: I beg your pardon?
BILL: You’re a washed-up souse – are you deaf as well? Look at you – you’re pathetic. I said, “SHUT UP!!” You have nothing to say, so don’t bother flapping your gums. As a matter of fact, though, I’m going to ask you to do me a little favor. Could you stand up for a minute, Doc?
BOB: I suppose. (The older man rises)
BILL: Excellent. Now, SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!!!! Yes, I like that. Those two belong together – “Sit down” and “shut up.” You got a pen, Bootleg Gin Breath? I want to write this down. Henrietta tells me you’ve got a problem with booze.
BOB: Well, I… you see… I…
BILL: Don’t worry, Doc. I’ve been there. I’ve been where you’re at. So, Bob, you’ve managed to hang onto your medical license… so far? Are you a GP?
BOB: No, I’m a surgeon.
BILL: What’s your area of specialty?
BOB: I’d rather not get into all that.
BILL: Oh My God!! You’re a proctologist, aren’t you?
BOB: Well, I… I… Er… I mean… Somebody has to do it!!
BILL: Oh My God!!! A proctologist!!! I’d guess you’re the butt of a lot of jokes!
BOB: Now see here!!
BILL: SHUT UP!!
BOB: What do you do for a living, Mr. Wilson?
BILL: That’s the thing. I’m here in Akron heading up a big proxy battle that could see me become president of a huge local concern.
BOB: Wow! Goodyear?
BILL: No. Never mind the details. They’re… uh… confidential. Yeah, that’s it – confidential… It’s a big deal though. Take my word for it.
BOB: So, I take it that you’re unemployed right now?
BILL: Well, yeah, but only for the past couple of years, or so.
BOB: Does your wife really work in a department store like Henrietta told me, Mr. “Sit down and shut up?”
BILL: SHUT UP about that, or I won’t cure you. Look, if you’ll agree to drop the department store stuff, I won’t say anything more about you being a proctologist. Deal?
BOB: Yeah, okay, But pour me another drink. How many men have you cured so far with your revolutionary new methods?
BILL: I don’t have the exact numbers here with me. My files are back in New York. But let’s get back to the main reason we’re both here. I can show you how to quit drinking one day at a time if you easy do it and keep coming back. It works if you work it.
BOB: Work what?
BILL: Well, you have to let go and let God and take all twelve steps by following the instructions precisely as they are outlined in our book.
BOB: What book?
BILL: Never mind about that. I haven’t written the book yet, but I will — I need to earn some money. Lois is threatening to cut off my allowance. Anyway, we can wing it for now. So, first things first, I need you to take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.
BOB: I don’t have any cotton in my ears! Why would ANYONE have cotton in their ears? What in the name of Holy Hell is wrong with you, man?
BILL: Back off, Sawbones! I’m still working some of this stuff out, okay? Ease up on me or I’m going back to the “Doctor Rectum, anusologist” talk. You really do that for a living? Hey, do you ever hand a guy your business card and say, “Give me a ring.”
BOB: Mrs. Wilson? Department store? You wanna talk about that some more, Mr. President? How’s the proxy thing going, by the way?
BILL: Look, I’m not here to discuss all that. If you want to quit drinking, I’m the guy who can help you do that. I used to drink like you and now I’m completely indifferent to alcohol. The problem has been removed. It doesn’t exist for me.
BOB: So, how come you were drooling when you poured me that last drink?
BILL: I WAS NOT!!
BOB: Yeah, you were. You wiped your chin with your sleeve. Right there. Look. It’s still a bit wet.
BILL: I have allergies, okay?!
BOB: Don’t give me that bullshit. I’m a physician. Your goddamn nose wasn’t running. It was spittle. It leaked out of your mouth and started running down your chin! You looked like Pavlov’s freaken dog!! AND, your hands were shaking!
BILL: I’m rubber and you’re glue. That bounces off me and sticks to you.
BOB: Can we get back to the quitting drinking thing?
BILL: Sure. SHUT UP!!
BOB: Why do you keep saying that?
BILL: Because that’s how it has to start! I’m here to bring you some harsh truth – you can’t quit drinking on your own. Besides that, I have terribly low self-esteem and pushing you around a bit makes me feel better. In any case, you’re going to need a spiritual experience and a Higher Power.
BOB: What’s a Higher Power?
BILL: You know – God, Baby Jesus, that sort of thing. My friend Ebby got saved by the Oxford Group, then he brought the good news to me.
BOB: I’ve been through all that Buchman mumbo-jumbo, Bill, but I get tight every night.
BILL: So, quiet time? Meditation? Praying to God a thousand times a day? Hanging out with the churchy folk?
BOB: Check, check, check and check.
BILL: Who’s Your Daddy?
BILL: Lord’s Prayer?
BILL: Hmmmm, this is a tough one. Have you ever pretended to have a life-altering spiritual experience?
BOB: No, why would I do that? And how would I do that?
BILL: It’s not hard, just start by thinking of your drunken granddaddy.
BOB: My grandparents did not drink.
BILL: Why am I not surprised? That doesn’t matter. It’s all in the imagining. Now close your eyes. I want you to picture a mountain on a bright, sunny day. Can you see it? Can you see yourself starting to climb it?
BOB: No, I can’t.
BILL: You’re carrying a jug of shine and you stop to take a swig.
BOB: I can see that! Yes, I can see it!! Gimme a fresh drink so I can re-enact the swigging part. Please.
BILL: Okay. That was pretty clever, by the way. Now – back to the mountain. The sky is clear, and the morning sun is blinding.
BOB: I noticed that when I was swilling down the shine. It hurt my eyes.
BILL: That’s the spirit. Can you feel the cool breeze a’blowin’?
BOB: Yes!!! It’s cold — I wish I’d have brought along a jacket.
BILL: Perfect! Now we ask God to remove the obsession to drink. Let’s kneel down together.
BOB: Oh, boy! Here we go!
BILL: I’ll give you a fresh drink.
BOB: You’re a sweet-talker, Bill. Kneeling it is.
(The two men kneel and pray together for two full minutes. Every ten or fifteen seconds, Dr. Smith opens one eye to see if they’re done. Finally, the New Yorker opens his eyes and the two men rise.)
BILL: Feel any different, Smitty? Think you can stop drinking now, for good and all?
BOB: Well, yes. Maybe. I really do want to stop drinking, you know. I feel sick constantly and the drinking is affecting all areas of my life.
BILL: Trouble looking your patients in the eye?
BOB: Stop it! Look, Bill, here’s the thing, the fly in the ointment, so to speak. Next month is the AMA Convention in Atlantic City. There’s this nurse from Akron City Hospital who’s agreed to go there with me. She’s a fun girl, a real partier, a heavy drinker. Could I get a pass that week?
BILL: I think we can arrange that. Hmmm… How do you like the sound of this? “Relapse is a part of recovery.”
BOB: I like it. I like it a lot.
BILL: Hey, Doc. You know this Henrietta woman much better than I do. Do you think she might let me sleep over tonight?
Robert F. Beach is no stranger to AA Agnostica. He has appeared here previously with The Watering Down of AA, The One and Only Kool-Aid, and the Bobby Beach classic, Freaken Big Book Fundamentalists Hate Freaken Everything.