Rafi Abramowitz is a comedic storyteller that publishes a free short story every Sunday. He lives in Brooklyn with his large ego and considerable emotional baggage. 

    Rafi Abramowitz is a comedic storyteller that publishes a free short story every Sunday. He lives in Brooklyn with his large ego and considerable emotional baggage. 

Mr. Steve Rogers' Neighborhood -- One Act Play

Mr. Steve Rogers' Neighborhood -- One Act Play

Set of “Mr. Steve Roger’s Neighborhood.” All actors are in their seventies with the exception of MILES MORALES, who is twenty.  STEVE walks to the closet, takes out a cardigan and puts in on while facing the audience.

STEVE

“Until next time, children -- be kind to your neighbors, be grateful of your parents, and, today … be thankful to all the veterans who lost limbs and their lives for this country so you can buy ripped jeans half-off then spend the afternoon ignoring your family at a barbecue.”

CLINT (OFF)

Cut!

(entering)

This better not be one of your against-the-grain moments.

STEVE

It’s Memorial Day, Clint.

CLINT

And it is. So much for finishing early. Miles? Can you get Cap some water please?

STEVE

You can blame me.

CLINT

I intend to, but they’ll say “You’re the director, Mr. Barnes. You should have dealt with it.” If I were in charge I’d let you do whatever you wanted. You know I would. You’ve earned that right. Miles? Water for Captain America! Now!

STEVE

Don’t call me that.

CLINT

Where is that kid?

STEVE

This cardigan is the only uniform I wear now.

CLINT

I value this job just as much as you do, Steve. Much easier on my knees.

STEVE

Memorial Day is the one --

CLINT

I know, but --

STEVE

It’s the one time allotted each year that we are encouraged to thank veterans for their service, and it’s been corrupted into a public day for self-indulgence! Why is it okay for everyone to focus only on themselves, but not for me to focus on the people for whom this day was actually created?

TONY (OFF)

Because you’re missing the point. As usual.

Enter TONY STARK eating a donut from crafty.

CLINT

Now we’re definitely going overtime.

TONY

Why do you care? It’s my money I’m wasting.

CLINT

It’s moments like these I wish I still carried my bow.  

TONY

You’re seventy-five, Clint. I’d bet your pension you couldn’t get it up.

CLINT

I’d bet your three divorces you can’t either.

TONY

What was that?

CLINT

Everyone take a five.

TONY

That’s what I thought.

CLINT

And someone find me Miles Morales!

Clint exits.

TONY

(under his breath)

It doesn’t count as three divorces if they’re all with the same person.

(looks around)

Why is it that whenever I walk into a room, people stop talking? I’m mortal, people! As you were. How are ya, Cap?

They shake hands.

TONY

(Motioning to Steve rippling muscles)

You’ve let yourself stay. You should try these donuts. They work wonders on a flat belly.

STEVE

Which point am I missing, exactly?

TONY

The fact that Memorial Day was created to honor dead Veterans. Veteran’s Day was created to honor alive ones. If you wanted to celebrate that on air, I’d still be watching you from that office like Nick. But, as our marketing department pointed out, children find dead people a bit dark. And seeing as this is a show meant for children ...

STEVE

Tony, please. This is important to me.

TONY

(with sudden passion)

And it’s not for me? Cap, I appreciate your convictions -- more than I used to, anyway -- but I created this show to reboot one of the most wholesome programs in the history of television because it’s time to rebuild the world we helped destroy.

STEVE

Save.

TONY

Not this again.

STEVE

It’s not the same thing.

TONY

We had this fight already.

STEVE

It’s not, Tony!

TONY

For once we have the chance to do good without doing harm. You keep the line we wrote, and --

STEVE

We should be grateful for their service.

TONY

How old are you now? 150? You should be mulch by now, and yet -- here you are. That’s something to be grateful for.

STEVE

(taking off his cardigan)

If you’re not going to take this seriously, I’m going to film this message myself. Parker will do it -- he owes me for stealing my shield.

TONY

Stick to the line Wanda wrote and we can film a special segment for Veteran’s Day. It’s   only six months away. You can soften the edges of visiting veterans in a hospital. We’ll even film it in the hospital of your choice. How’s that? I’ll even come along. We all will. Me, Wanda, Mr. Cialis. Whaddya say, Cap? It’s a good compromise.

Steve lets out a sigh. He sits on the stairs. He’s smiling, as he remembers another conversation similar to this one they had years ago.

STEVE

Can’t we ever agree?

TONY

We agree that you’re old.

STEVE

(a beat)

I bet you hated me when I refused to sign the Sokovia accords.

TONY

I didn’t hate you. I hated your dated convictions. I hated your dated moral justifications for a modern problem. I don’t think you ever adjusted to the fact that the world you woke up to wasn’t what it was when you went to sleep.

STEVE

Would you?

Tony considers Steve while finishing his donut, then takes a seat next to him.

TONY

(softer)

What’s really bugging you, Steve? It can’t be a fight from twenty-five years ago. Is it really the Barbecuing and shopping?

(off Steve’s reaction)

Most of the world isn’t like us.

STEVE

No kidding.

TONY

They spend every day of their adult lives parked behind a desk working for someone infinitely less qualified than me and even less fun than you, and they often still don’t have enough money to pay off their debts until they’re as old as we are now. That’s a lifetime of monotony and climbing a never-ending ladder which we consistently set on fire with our exciting adventures as the League of Extraordinarily Selfish Superpeople. Don’t you see how self-serving it would appear for us to lecture people on their civil duties, no matter what language we use?

A beat.

STEVE

(without looking at Tony)

I was the first superhero.  

TONY

Really? No one ever told me that, especially not my father who, you know ... made you.

STEVE

I was the first superhero, Tony.

TONY

If you’ve got a point other than to compare accomplishments, let me know when I can tell you mine. I think you’ll be impressed with the size of my list.

STEVE

I softened the edge of war. That’s my legacy. I didn’t make the world safer. I inspired people to destroy it.

TONY

You can stop carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, Cap. You’ve earned your peace.

STEVE

I was the first superhero and the first super-soldier -- I can’t also be the first to publicly ignore the veterans!

TONY

Why not?

STEVE

Because they enlisted to be like me!

A beat. Tony hadn’t considered this.

CLINT (O.S.)

Where the fuck is that kid?!

TONY

(shooting Steve a sideways glance)

Language.

Steve smiles. He stands and goes back to his mark. 

CLINT

(entering)

MILES! GET OVER HERE BEFORE I --

Enter MILES MORALES, a black kid who looks a bit like Barak Obama. He’s out of breath and sweaty as he hastily jams in his ear-piece. Tony eyes him, a slight smile stretching across his lined face.

CLINT

Where have you been?! I’ve been calling for ten minutes!

MILES

(his mind working quickly)

I’m so sorry, Mr. Barnes. There was a -- I saw a, um ...

CLINT

Don’t you lie to me, Miles.

MILES

(a beat)

I was pooping.

A beat. Everyone stares at him. Tony shakes his head, half-amused, half-disappointed. Steve rolls his eyes and walks away. Clint simply looks embarrassed.

CLINT

(to Tony)

I’ll have a word with him later.

TONY

No need. I’ll do it.

CLINT

We’re going to be hot in thirty seconds, everyone! Steve -- back to your mark I’ll be right there to go over the approved lines. Tony -- sorry about Miles. And Miles -- eat more fiber for Christ’s sake.

MILES

Yes, sir!

(too ashamed to look Tony in the face)

Right this way, Mr. Stark. Tony looks over his shoulder -- Clint is busy talking to Steve. He pulls Miles aside.

TONY

(under his breath)

If you’re going to take up Parker’s post you better work on your excuses. Why didn’t you just say you were slinging webs across town to save an old lady?

MILES

I-I wasn’t doing --

TONY

We’re all superheroes here, kid. I know who you are and I told Parker -- he’s going to be thrilled there’s someone he can mentor, but he is not going to be pleased to find out you’ve been using his old costume. That’s tantamount to plagiarism in this business.  

MILES

I just wanted to be like my hero. 

 

STEVE

Tony? I’ll take you up on the Veteran’s Day segment.

TONY

(a brief beat, considering Miles)

We can do both.

STEVE

What about the people climbing the never-ending ladder?

TONY

They don’t watch our show anyway.

STEVE

And the marketing department?

TONY

They’re wrong. Just ... lighten the tone a bit, will ya? We don’t need any children repeating “lost limbs and their lives”. Speaking of which -- Come with me, Spiderbaby. Or do you prefer the Toilet-clogging Wonder?

MILES

Spiderbaby’s fine.

Tony and Miles exit. Steve removes the cardigan and replaces it on a hanger.

CLINT

Same energy as before, Cap.

TONY (OFF)

The academy loves you, Clint!

Clint mimes taking an invisible arrow from his invisible quiver, nooks it in an invisible bow, draws, and points it offstage at Tony.

CLINT

(under his breath)

No one would ever know.

Clint sighs, then exits. 

CLINT (OFF)

Action!

STEVE

(putting on his cardigan)

“Until next time, children -- be kind to your neighbors, be grateful of your parents, and, today … today, be thankful to all the veterans who ... who ... The measure of a hero isn’t the power of his punch, or the cunning of her counterattacks. More often than not, a hero is anyone who puts other people’s interests above their own. Go shopping with your friends, have a barbecue with your family ... by all means, have fun. But as you do so, take a moment to offer gratitude to those people who chose to fight so that we wouldn’t have to. Have a meaningful Memorial Day, and I’ll see you next time on Mr. Steve Roger’s Neighborhood.”

Lights down. 

The Ballad of Yeoman

The Ballad of Yeoman

A Dark and Stormy Night

A Dark and Stormy Night