Shem

96rxxm

Shem is about characters living up to their names in a time of gang related violence, living amongst gods and devils and the unique conflict for Victor Odalys and discovering the true nature of his name. Conqueror doesn’t have to mean rough and tough, just as wealth doesn’t have to mean currency.

Characters

ABRAM OLEK

ARDELIA RAE OSMAN/ ORA ERELAH

VICTOR KENNITH ODALYS

ERIN ERASMO ODALYS

TYSON OMAR

and others

Note

Meaning of names:

Shem—Hebrew name for name

Abram – Hebrew for Exalted Father– Olek­—Defender of Mankind

Ardelia – Warm—Rae — Wise Protector— Osman— Devine Protection

Ora— Hebrew for Light—Erelah—Hebrew for Angel

Victor—Conqueror—Kennith—Fire born/ Good-looking—Odalys—Wealth

Erin—Peace—Erasmo—Loved—Odalys—Wealth

Tyson—Fiery temperament & agitator—Omar–Hebrew for Eloquent & Speaker

Shem

ACT 1, Scene 1

(Night. Non-visible. There are loud noises coming from multiple directions. Small group of people fighting in the streets. Gunshot rings out and VICTOR yells)

VICTOR

(Visible now. Runs to man crouching on ground and tries to hold him steady)

Mr. Olek!

(pauses)

Mr. Olek, are you okay?!

(ABRAM OLEK says nothing. OLEK falls to the ground grasping at his chest with clear agony)

Mr. Olek, I’m sorry! Please! Answer me!!!

(Still no answer)

Somebody! Call an ambulance, now!!!

(Fades to black)

ACT 1, Scene 2

(Twenty-four hours earlier. Summer. A kitchen in a cheap apartment building somewhere in Washington D.C. Early morning. VICTOR, a twenty-one-year-old cleans up the dishes from breakfast. The TV is on. On the news, there is talk of increasing activity in gang violence within city limits. ERIN, twelve years old, walks in.)

ERIN

Hey, bro?

(VICTOR quickly turns off TV. ERIN picks up bag of chips)

VICTOR

Hmm?

(ERIN begins opening the bag of chips. VICTOR snatches bag away.)

Cut it out! You just had breakfast!

(VICTOR places bag back on table)

VICTOR (CONT’D)

Now, what do you want?

ERIN

(ERIN gives VICTOR a grin. VICTOR stacks dishes away.)

Gee, whatever!… Sooooooo, I was wondering…

VICTOR

Hurry up! What is it?!

ERIN

Could we possibly… go to the park today?

VICTOR

Cant. Sorry Erin, I’ve gotta work, you know that.

ERIN

But! We never get to have any fun!

VICTOR

Look kid, one day it will be different.

ERIN

But why not now? We have to live for today, right?

(VICTOR looks downcast.)

VICTOR

Erin, you know why I have to work like this. If mom and dad were still here, it would be different. Things will change… but not now.

ERIN

But I just really want to go to the park. Just today, please. Just take one day off, for me?

(VICTOR is getting frustrated now.)

VICTOR

I said no! Now that’s the end of it! I’m leaving for work now so stay here in the apartment and watch TV or something. I’ll be back later this evening. What do you want me to bring back for dinner?

(ERIN is despondent and doesn’t answer)

VICTOR (CONT’D)

Look! If you don’t answer then I’m ganna get what I want and you’ll just have to eat it without complaining!

ERIN

Fine… Chinese?

VICTOR

Fine. Remember, Mr. Olek is down the hall if you need anything. I’ll see you later, don’t get into any trouble.

ERIN

Fine.

(VICTOR leaves the apartment. ERIN plays around with different things. ERIN watches TV, plays with his cars, reads a magazine. ERIN is bored. Its early afternoon. ERIN decides to leave apartment and go to the park.)

ACT 1, Scene 3

(Early afternoon. Downtown near community park. Two rival gangs meet up, one led by TYSON OMAR. Trouble brews and a fight breaks out. ERIN is on his way back to the apartment when he accidently gets in the way of the brawl. Erin gets shot. Police arrive. Some gang members get caught while others escape.)

VICTOR

(VICTOR walks up the front steps of the apartment late after coming back from the hospital. VICTOR opens the door and slams it shut behind him. He screams an unhuman screech as he falls to the floor. ABRAM OLEK, a sixty-five-year-old man, the landlord of the apartment runs down the stairs towards VICTOR.)

ABRAM OLEK

Victor, is that you?! How’s Erin?

(He looks down at VICTOR)

VICTOR

(VICTOR tries to speak but is incoherent through the crying)

ABRAM OLEK

Come now son, I’m sure things will be alright. Tell me, how is Erin?

(VICTOR looks up at ABRAM and tries to stop crying and tries to speak. ABRAM sits down next to VICTOR.)

VICTOR

He’s… been… shot!

ABRAM OLEK

Yes, I know son. Tell me how he was when you saw him, what did the doctors say?

VICTOR

(VICTOR looks at ABRAM)

They said that he’d be okay, no lasting damage.

ABRAM OLEK

There, you see. Everything’s going to be alright.

VICTOR

It’s not though, is it? Mom and pop are gone, I have to take care of my little brother, we should be rich but we’re poor, I need to be good to my brother yet I hardly see him because I’m always working, there’s stupid gangs all over this city and the last thing I said to Erin before he got shot was “don’t get into any trouble”!

(VICTOR breathes heavily)

ABRAM OLEK

Son… I…

VICTOR

I should have just taken him to the damn park!!! It’s all my fault!!!

(VICTOR bangs his fist on the door)

ABRAM OLEK

Look son, I know things look bleak now, but situations like this always do. You are stronger than you think you are and you can get through this.

(VICTOR looks distracted and deep in thought)

During times like this, people look at all the little non-important aspects that led up to the tragedy and blame themselves or blame others. Sometimes life just happens and we must believe that it happens for a reason.

VICTOR

Yes, a reason… The reason was because those stupid gang fights all over! The police chief came to me in the hospital and said that they caught some guys but not all of them. He said that they know who shot my brother…

ABRAM OLEK

Son, I believe I know where you’re going with this but you mustn’t!

VICTOR

You know nothing! All I know is that my little brother wanted to go to the park to have fun and someone shot him for an admittance price…. and now… I’m going to pay off the balance.

ABRAM OLEK

You mustn’t Victor! Revenge may seem like it’s a good thing now, but I’m telling you that it will just lead to more unnecessary violence.

VICTOR

(VICTORS not really paying attention)

I’m sorry. This is something I must do.

ABRAM OLEK

No! You mustn’t do anything! Even Socrates, a great man who was condemned to death for no reason other than people’s misunderstandings did not seek revenge! Revenge will lead you down a dark path that you won’t be able to come back from!

VICTOR

I… can’t… I have to…

ABRAM OLEK

No! Go to your brother, he needs you now more than anything.

(VICTOR pushes the main door open. VICTOR starts walking down the steps. ABRAM starts to follow as far as the steps. ABRAM shouts to VICTOR as a last attempt to stop him)

Eventually you will see that vengeance is not just a straight line; a means to an end, it will come back to haunt and destroy you!

VICTOR

(VICTOR shouts back to ABRAM)

You don’t understand, this is something I have to do! I’m sorry!

(VICTOR disappears from view. ABRAM is standing alone. ARDELIA OSMAN, a thirty-two-year-old tenant, walks down from her apartment. Seemingly she has heard all that has transpired. ARDELIA walks over toward ABRAM and puts her hand on his shoulders. ABRAM looks at her and smiles as though somehow comforted.)

ABRAM

What are you thinking?

ARDELIA

I am thinking that there is no person on this earth more able not to hear than those who will not choose to listen. But don’t worry, I’m positive that someone will be looking out for Victor.

(ARDELIA pushes the door open and starts to walk out. ABRAM tries to stop her.)

ABRAM

Wait, where are you going?

ARDELIA

Oh, I’m just going to work. I’ll see you soon Abram.

(ARDELIA smiles at ABRAM and walks out. Fades to black. Downtown. Late afternoon. VICTOR walks away from a sketchy looking shop. He slips a brown bag into his jacket and walks away.)

ACT 2, Scene 1

(Night. Downtown near community park. Near alleyway. VICTOR is walking around looking for any sign of gang action. VICTOR hears quite noises hidden in darkness. TYSON OMAR and others are arguing.)

TYSON

Looks see, we’re ganna be fine. We just has to hide out for a while.

(TYSON pats kid on back for reassurance. Kid moves away.)

KID

Tyson! You shot a little kid! There’s no way this is ganna be alright! The cops are ganna find us and we’re all ganna pay for what you did!

(That was all VICTOR needed to hear. VICTOR tries to slowly walk towards the group.)

TYSON

Listen to me, trust me, no one’s ganna get the beat on us. I’ll take care of all of you.

(VICTOR reaches group and speaks)

VICTOR

Oh really? Is that what you believe?

(VICTOR looks like he’s calm but he’s really shaking)

TYSON

Who are you?! You’re no cop!

(VICTOR laughs.)

You’re right, I’m not a cop.

(TYSON slowly walks toward VICTOR)

I’m just the brother of that little kid you shot…

(TYSON smiles)

TYSON

Ahh! Look who we have here! How can we help you today?!

(VICTOR starts to take out what was in that brown bag. It appears to be a gun.)

VICTOR

Oh, you can definitely help me…

(The kid is getting anxious and tries to leave)

KID

I’m outta here!

(The kid starts to move but TYSON stops him)

TYSON

Naw kid, you’ll want to stick around for this! This is just a business transaction, this should be fun!

(The kid stays put. TYSON looks happy. VICTOR points the gun at TYSON)

TYSON

Look my son, what do you really want here? You won’t find peace here.

VICTOR

Yes, yes I will! You’re ganna pay for what you did!

(TYSON smiles)

TYSON

Well, then, do it. What are you waiting for?!

(Before VICTOR can fire a shot, two guys come from behind him and throw him on the ground. VICTOR struggles to get up. A fight breaks out and TYSON smiles. TYSON pulls out his gun amongst the ruckus and aims for VICTOR and fires. The sound of the shot rings out. ABRAM OLEK jumps in the way of VICTOR and takes the blow. VICTOR runs to ABRAM and screams for an ambulance. Police are on spot and arrest the gang members including TYSON OMAR. Scene fades to black.)

ACT 2, Scene 2

(ABRAM is sleeping in hospital bed while VICTOR is asleep in chair beside his bed. ABRAM stirs in bed and wakes VICTOR.)

VICTOR

Mr. OLEK! Wake up!

(ABRAM wakes up)

ABRAM

Victor, is that you?

VICTOR

Yes, Mr. Olek, it’s me.

(VICTOR yells for a doctor)

Why did you do that?! How did you find me?!

ABRAM

Oh Victor, I did it for you and Erin.

VICTOR

But how?

ABRAM

I knew you’d go looking for a gun. I just drove to a shop that I thought you might go to and I happened to see you walk out. After that I just followed you. I called the cops and told them where to go so that they could find you if there was trouble. I wanted to make sure you would be alright.

(Doctor comes in and explains that ABRAM will be okay)

VICTOR

I’m so sorry Mr. Olek. I never wanted this to happen. I just wanted Erin’s life to be better than it is now. It’s all my fault!

ABRAM

Oh Victor, you are too hard on yourself. Everything will be okay.

(ABRAM breaths heavily)

ABRAM

Osman… was right… someone was looking out for you…

(ABRAM passes out)

VICTOR

Doctor, please come quick!

(A nurse walks in. She checks his vitals and tells VICTOR that ABRAM is fine)

VICTOR

Thank you. Wait! Are you Ms. Osman? The tenant that lives across from me?

(ARDELIA smiles and walks toward VICTOR)

ARDELIA

Yes, I am. Don’t worry about Mr. Olek, he will be absolutely fine.

(VICTOR looks down)

VICTOR

It’s all my fault though! Both my brother and MR. Olek! I didn’t listen to either of them and they both paid the price…

ARDELIA

Mr. Olek was right, Victor. You are being too hard on yourself. True, you should have chosen to listen, but you were in grief. It is often hard to open yourself to others wisdom when you can’t even hear your own voice right.

VICTOR

I guess… But it’s still my fault and I will never forgive myself.

ARDELIA

Victor, listen to me now. This world is filled with good and bad things that are beyond any humans control, it is a war like no war. You are one man with the weight of taking care of your brother while walking amongst gods and devils. You must not take the whole world as your burden.

VICTOR

But I must! Ever since my parents died… I have to take care of my brother.

ARDELIA

Yes of course you must. But not in the way you think. Your name is Victor Kennith Odalys. It means Conqueror and Wealth. You may think that conqueror means that you have to be rough and against the world and protect you brother against all odds. You may think that wealth means that you have to make so much money so that you and your brother will want for nothing. But I tell you now that some things are not so simple. For you to be a conqueror, yes, always be there for your brother but you must endure the hardships and learn to not let the world beat you down. When the world does beat you down, get back up. Don’t let the world harden you so that you become something unrecognizable to Erin. For you to have wealth does not mean money, but to cherish the love you and you brother share. That is the greatest wealth a man can have.

(VICTOR looks shocked)

VICTOR

Um… wow… Yeah, I guess you’re right….

ARDELIA

You should go to your brother now, he’s been awake for a while.

VICTOR

Thank you, I will.

(VICTOR stands up. ARDELIA starts to walk out of the room)

VICTOR

Wait! How do you know so much about names, and my name?

(ARDELIA smiles)

ARDELIA

It’s just something I do.

VICTOR

What does your name mean?

ARDELIA

Well, my real name is Ora Erelah…

(ARDELIA walks out. VICTOR tries to follow but she’s nowhere in sight. VICTOR goes to see his brother. Scene fades to black.)

ACT 2, Scene 3

(VICTOR and ERIN get back to their apartment later that week.)

VICTOR

Erin, go straight to bed.

ERIN

But why? I’ve been in bed for a week!

VICTOR

Well you need a little more rest for tomorrow.

ERIN

What do you mean? What’s tomorrow?

VICTOR

Well…

ERIN

What?!

(ERIN looks impatient. VICTOR smiles.)

VICTOR

Well, you’ll need your strength if we’re going to the park tomorrow…

ERIN

Really? I thought you had work?

VICTOR

I do… But I’m taking a few days off to spend with you. Now go to bed. I’ll bring you some food in a little bit.

(ERIN goes off to bed. VICTOR straightens up the apartment a little bit. The phone rings.)

VICTOR

Hello?

ABRAM

Hello Victor.

VICTOR

Hey Mr. Olek! How are you?

ABRAM

I’m fine son. I’ll be out of the hospital and back home tomorrow.

VICTOR

That’s great!

(VICTOR continues to clean up. He picks up a note he sees.)

ABRAM

So, how are you?

VICTOR

I’m fine and Erin’s great…

(VICTOR reads the note. It has a verse from Amos. “Seek good and not evil­__ and live!” Amos 5:14 The note says it’s from ARDELIA. She also wrote that ORA ERELAH is Hebrew for Light Angel… VICTOR smiles and puts the note down.)

Mr. Olek, when you get back, would you like to go to the park with Erin and I?

ABRAM

Of course, I’d love to!

VICTOR

Me too! See you soon!

(Black out)

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