Of The Fields, Lately – Monologue (Ben)

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A monologue from the play by David French

BEN

He rushed out the door and down to the school-yard, the first game he had ever come to, and my mother put his supper in the oven, for later … I hadn’t reminded my father of the game. 

I was afraid he’d show up and embarrass me. Twelve years old and ashamed of my old man. Ashamed of his dialect, his dirty overalls, his bruised fingers with the fingernails lined with dirt, his teeth yellow as old ivory. 

Most of all, his lunch pail, that symbol of the working man. No, I wanted a doctor for a father. A lawyer. At least a fireman. Not a carpenter. That wasn’t good enough … 

And at home my mother sat down to darn his socks and watch the oven … I remember stepping up to bat. The game was tied; it was the last of the ninth, with no one on base. 

Then I saw him sitting on the bench along third base. He grinned and waved, and gestured to the man beside him. But I pretended not to see him. I turned to face the pitcher. 

And angry at myself, I swung hard on the first pitch, there was a hollow crack, and the ball shot low over the shortstop’s head for a double. Our next batter bunted and I made third. 

He was only a few feet away now, my father. But I still refused to acknowledge him. Instead, I stared hard at the catcher, pretending concentration.

And when the next pitch bounced between the catcher’s legs and into home screen, I slid home to win the game. And there he was, jumping up and down, showing his teeth, excited as hell. 

And as the crowd broke up and our team stampeded out of the school-yard, cleats clicking and scraping blue sparks on the sidewalk, I looked back once through the wire fence and saw my father still sitting on the now-empty bench, 

alone, slumped over a little, staring at the cinders between his feet, just staring… I don’t know how long he stayed there, maybe till dark, but I do know he never again came down to see me play. 

At home that night he never mentioned the game or being there. He just went to bed unusually early…