A look back (Baltimore, 1984)

NOTE: In light of the Colts’ upcoming return to Baltimore, enjoy my ten-minute play about the moment when Indianapolis and Baltimore became forever linked by football.

(This play was selected for a public reading by the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.)

Why the Goddam Colts Left Baltimore in the Middle of the Goddam Night

Characters:
MARVIN—Late 40s, a steelworker and morning beer-drinker
GARY—40s-50s, Marvin’s co-worker
DORIS—Late 40s, Marvin’s wife

​​Setting:
It is early April of 1984, and we are in Dundalk, a blue-collar area in suburban Baltimore​​

AT RISE:

(The lights come up on a working-class living room. At center stage are worn and weary chairs. In those chairs sit two worn and weary men, MARVIN and GARY. Each has a beer either in hand or within reach. There are empties littered about the room. A cooler sits between them. Both men look extremely agitated. As they talk, we can see a third person, DORIS, moving in and out of the room, occasionally stopping to pick up the empties or getting something out of the hutch at the rear of the living room, near the door.. She seems very busy.)

MARVIN
I tell ya, Robert Irsay is a goddam bum!

GARY
You get no quarrel from me there, bud.

MARVIN
The man just has these people load up their moving trucks in the middle of the damn night and sneak out like some damn cowards. He don’t have the guts to face the people of this city.

GARY
He’s too ashamed. He should be.

MARVIN
Mayflower moving vans! Those Mayflower bastards should be ashamed, too, just for being mentioned with that sumbitch!

GARY
Yessir, they should.

(DORIS has entered the room and is now standing off to the side of the two men.)

DORIS
We need to talk, Marvin.

MARVIN
To go to Indiana, of all places! Who wants to be in goddam Indiana?

GARY
I thought the Midwest was known for its hospitality. Stealing a football team from someone doesn’t seem so hospitable.
DORIS
Marv, I said—

MARVIN
Oh, that hospitality stuff is bullshit! Those hoosiers’ll stick a fork in your eye and smile while you’re cryin’. Everybody knows that.

GARY
I think you’re right on that one.

DORIS
This isn’t working for me anymore. I can’t deal with it.

MARVIN
Irsay’s doin’ this whole song and dance about how terrible Memorial Stadium is. “It ain’t good for the fans,” he says. “Ten thousand seats where the view’s bad,” he says. Buncha goddam BS, you ask me.

GARY
Me too.

MARVIN
People been sittin’ in those “bad view” seats for forty damn years now! Ain’t nobody complained except that sumbitch, and he don’t even watch the game with the people, like a fan. He sits in some kinda glorified owner’s area ‘cause he thinks he’s too good for the regular folks!

GARY
You’re right. Man’s got no humility.

DORIS
Are you even listening to me?

MARVIN
And then it’s these regular folks that he wants to foot the bill to build the new stadium that he keeps sayin’ we need. Wants to use tax money! Can you believe that?

GARY
The man’s a crook. There’s no way around it.

MARVIN
You bought the damn team. Build your own damn stadium! Am I right?

GARY
Right as rain, friend. Right as rain.

DORIS
I’m leaving, Marvin. I’m going to my mother’s. I’ve had it.

MARVIN
He’ll move again. You watch. The sumbitch’ll up and leave Indianapolis as soon as that fancy new dome don’t suit him no more. He’s got no conscience.

DORIS
I’ve already packed a suitcase.

GARY
What’s to stop every single team from picking up and moving now? The taxpayer is held hostage by these people!

DORIS
I can’t overlook being ignored.

MARVIN
Goddam sumbitches.

DORIS
You work the third shift at Bethlehem and then you spend your mornings griping with Gary.

GARY
Mayor Schaeffer’s on the front page of the Sun paper, crying.

MARVIN
Oh, he’s a sumbitch, too, that Schaeffer faggot. Why didn’t he do more to keep the team here?

DORIS
We used to talk…

GARY
I think he did what he could, and he’s standing up for us, for the people. He’s not going to let these crooks bleed us dry.

DORIS
You used to confide in me.

MARVIN
Only ‘cause he wants to be the one to do that to us.

DORIS
I’m so damned lonely…

MARVIN
Run him out, I say. Let him move to Indianapolis with the rest of these damn bums! He can be mayor of that cornpone hick town.

GARY
You may be on to something.

(DORIS sighs deeply and walks out of the room. The men continue not to notice.)

MARVIN
And if I was the governor, I’da sent the state police out to stop them Mayflower trucks, I can tell you that. I’da told ‘em to shoot out the tires if the sumbitches wouldn’t stop.

GARY
Shoot to kill.

MARVIN
Yeah, that’s right, Gary! Shoot to kill. ‘Cause these are criminals we’re talking about here.

GARY
Fleeing the scene of the crime, no less.

MARVIN
Crossing the state line with stolen goods! That trophy from Super Bowl V belongs to the city of Baltimore, you bastards! I don’t want some pig farmers from Indiana getting’ their shit-covered mitts on it.

​​(beat)

Hey, you eat yet, Gary?

GARY
Well—

MARVIN
Want some breakfast? I’ll have Doris cook you up some.

​​(to DORIS)

Hey, Doris! Fry some bacon for Gary! You hear me?

​​(MARVIN turns back to GARY)

​​MARVIN
Bacon’s okay, right?

GARY
That’s fine.

MARVIN
You hear me, Doris?

​​(He waits for a moment, but hears nothing.)

She oughta answer, you know.

GARY
I bet she’s already putting the skillet on the stove. She’s a good woman. You’re lucky to have her.

MARVIN
Damn right, I am.

(GARY raises his beer. )

​​GARY
Here’s to good women! They’re more loyal than good football teams!

MARVIN
Hear, hear!

​​(They drink. DORIS re-enters, wearing a sweater carrying a suitcase.)

MARVIN
I tell you, I think Reagan oughta get involved here.

GARY
Oh yeah?

MARVIN
Of course! He’s a friend of the working man.

GARY
Not like Carter.

MARVIN
The point is, somebody’s gotta do something here. The goddam Colts snuck out of town in the middle of the goddam night, with three decades of tradition packed in their goddam vans!

DORIS
I’m going now, Marvin. Do you hear me?

GARY
It’s a shame.

MARVIN
A damn shame.

DORIS
It certainly is.

GARY
I heard some local attorneys were talking about a lawsuit, saying maybe they could force the team to come back.

MARVIN
Those ambulance-chasers are only in it for the dough. They don’t give a rat’s ass for the team or the city. They just wanna be on TV. I hate goddam lawyers!

DORIS
Twenty-eight years is a long time.

MARVIN
You know what, Gary? Even if the president or the lawyers or Jesus H. Christ himself got us the Colts back, I don’t think I’d go to the games anymore.

GARY
Why give Bob Irsay your money?

DORIS
You’d better set your alarm. I’m not going to be here to wake you up.

MARVIN
Not even gonna watch those bums on TV again. The hell with ‘em.

GARY
I’m with you.

DORIS
I wrote a note, Marvin. I’m leaving it on the hutch by the door.
(DORIS places the letter on the hutch.)

MARVIN
Goodbye, Colts. You useless bums.

DORIS
Goodbye, Marvin.

​​(DORIS exits. Neither man notices the sound of the door.)

GARY
I guess you have the Redskins.

MARVIN
You gotta be kidding me! The goddam Deadskins? Never!

GARY
They’re pretty good.

MARVIN
Washington is worse than Indianapolis when it comes to being assholes! I ain’t watchin’ those dirtballs!

(MARVIN finishes his beer and throws the empty over the back of his chair.)

GARY
But what are you gonna do on Sunday afternoons?

​​(MARVIN is rooting in the cooler, but not finding a beer.)

MARVIN
Guess I can take a nap. But—

​​(beat)

Hey Doris! We’re outta goddam beer! And where’s Gary’s bacon?

​​(Silence)

Doris? What the hell?

(beat)

Doris, goddammit! Never you mind! I’ll get the damn beer!

(MARVIN gets up. He makes his way around the chairs and the empties on the floor. As he walks by the hutch, he sees Doris’ note and stops to read it. GARY is watching all of this.)

GARY
What’s that? Did she go out to the store, Marv?

MARVIN
She left.

GARY
Yeah, but when is she coming back?

MARVIN.
She left, you ignorant sumbitch. She’s not coming back.

GARY
Jesus, I’m sorry.

MARVIN
She’s at her goddam mother’s.

GARY
Were you guys having problems? If you don’t mind me asking…

MARVIN
None that I’m aware of.

GARY
I bet it’s all this women’s lib crap. She’ll be back when she sees that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

MARVIN
Her goddam mother’s.

GARY
Where’s her mother live, Marv?

​​MARVIN
Indianapolis.

(FADE TO BLACK)

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About semiblind

Bringing you stark existentialism since 1981.
This entry was posted in entertainment, history and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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