PLAYHOUSE OF THE DAMNED
"My Brother's Keeper"
by Richard Nathan
All the stage lights are out except for a spotlight
on our host, GUS THE GHOUL. Gus
introduces this story, which takes place in the living room of a small apartment
which is shared by two brothers, JOHN and STEVE NOLAN.
It is inexpensively furnished, but nicely maintained.
The only essential pieces of furniture are two chairs.
Do you ever worry about losing your
sanity? If so, please check the lost and
found in our lobby. If you can't find your
sanity there, you can probably find mine!
And if you've never worried about losing
your sanity, don't be concerned. Our
show is just getting started! This schizoid
skit is called "MY BROTHER'S KEEPER."
Imagine that you are in the home of John
and Steve Nolan. You don't see this stage.
You see their small, modestly furnished
apartment. Can you see their apartment?
You can? Really? Then you're hallucinating!
You've gone stark, raving mad!
Gus exits. The
spotlight goes out, and during the blackout John and Steve enter.
They sit in their chairs. As
the lights come up, Steve is trying to read a newspaper, but John, who is
insane, keeps interrupting his brother.
I had trouble sleeping last night, with all the
rabbits screaming. I think they must have
been frightened by the demons. Did you
see the demons last night?
I didn't even hear the rabbits.
You are lucky. I thought they would drive
me crazy. Perhaps you will see the demons
No, John, seeing demons is your specialty.
The air will be filled with screaming demons
The paper predicts rain.
They will be inside. I will let them in.
How kind of you.
The demons like me.
Why doesn't that surprise me?
They do not like you. I like you. You are
my brother. But I must let the demons in,
even if they do not like you. The moon
has insisted upon it.
Steve can't take it anymore.
He snaps his paper down and glares at his brother.
John, I'm trying to read the paper!
Does it say what time the world will end?
I'm reading the classifieds, trying to find a
decent job so I can get us out of this dump!
I thought we had no stay here forever.
That is what the demons told me.
No wonder you call them demons.
Anyway, I like it here. Did you know
there is a man on the first floor who also
sees the demons? I think you will see
Knock it off John! There are no demons!
Dad said there are.
Oh right. Dad! Dear old Dad. The man
who kept telling me there were bugs pouring
out of my ears. I was only eleven years old,
and he scared me spitless!
He could not help it. It was his turn.
People do not take turns going crazy.
Dad said they did.
Dad was a loony. You are a loony. I am
not a loony!
Steve settles down and resumes reading his newspaper.
Steve throws down the paper.
If you don't stop talking like that, I'm going
to call Dr. Thompson and have her take
you back to the hospital!
If you stare too long at Dr. Thompson, she
turns to blood.
John, I don't want to send you back there,
but I hate it when you talk like this. What
happened to you? You used to be so
I know. That was before my turn.
There are no turns! I don't care what Dad
How do you know?
Because I am rational! And I will stay that
way because I will never let myself get like
you or Dad. I will not give in to insanity,
not to the bugs in my ears, or the demons
or the screaming rabbits!
Can you do that?
Almost everyone does it! Every day.
I do not like being crazy. I do not like my
Then your turn is over, okay! I declare that
your turn is over!
Steve snaps his fingers. Joy and relief shine on John's face.
It is? It's about time! I can't tell you how
long I've been waiting for this!
What did you just say? You just said a
whole bunch of contractions.
You never use contractions!
I do too!
You do not! Dad never used them either!
Sure he did!
No! Not at the end! The whole last year
of his life, when he had to be straight-
jacketed, he never once used a contraction!
I hadn't noticed.
He used to scare me so much I'd go to
my room and say every contraction I could
Just because you can say contractions
doesn't mean you're sane.
I know! I know! But why is it you can
say them all of a sudden?
I guess it's because my turn is over. I'm
No, I have bad news for you, little brother.
If you still believe in turns, that means you
are still a lunatic.
No, that means you are a lunatic. After all,
if my turn is over, and you said it was, then
it must be your turn now.
There are no turns!
Then why did you say my turn was over?
That's a pretty crazy thing to say if there are
I was humoring you!!!
I don't need to be humored! I've been
perfectly calm all day. You're the one who
keeps getting excited.
Why am I trying to talk rationally to you?
Beats me. It's not your turn to be rational.
Do you want us both to be crazy and helpless?
I'm not crazy.
Yes you are! Because you still believe in turns!
You know something? You're absolutely right.
I don't believe in turns anymore.
Now it's your turn to believe in turns!
I do not! I will never believe in turns! And
you do, or why would you tell me to take
my turn believing in turns!!!
What are you raving about now?
You told me to take my turn believing in
I don't want you to believe in turns! I want
you to be rational.
I am rational!!!
I'm very happy to hear that, Steve. And I
think Dr. Thompson will be happy to hear
Dr. Thompson is going to put you away.
Steve picks up his paper and tries to read it.
May I please have a section of the paper?
Steve hands John a section of the paper, and they
both read in silence for a moment, until Steve throws down his section and
screams at his brother.
You have always hated me for staying sane!
I don't hate you.
Steve erupts, letting out all the pain and anger he
has kept bottled up inside.
Well I hate you! I hate all the years I lost
looking after you! I hate all the years of
living with your demons.
Please, Steven, I am trying to read the
Do you want me to see demons? All right!
I see them! There they are! Fluttering and
swooping through the air on their pink and
green leather wings! Look at them, stabbing
at my eyes with their claws.
There's a knock at the door.
John goes to answer it!
Steve can't answer.
He runs to the door and stands in front of it. John calmly pushes him aside and opens the door.
DR. THOMPSON, a psychiatrist, enters.
Steve goes back to his chair.
Dr. Thompson! How nice to see you!
Good evening, John. How are you feeling
Quite well, thank you. But I'm afraid Steven
isn't any better.
Dr. Thompson goes to examine Steve, who is covering
in his chair.
Oh? I thought he was doing very well last
It's time we faced the truth, Doctor. Steven
has been insane for years, and he's never
going to get any better.
I see. It's his turn now.
There are no turns, Doctor.
There don't have to be, But that doesn't
seem to stop you two from taking them!
I don't know what you're talking about!
Are you going to take him back to the
No! No! I will not go there again!
You don't have to. You can both stay here
in the halfway house. That's what it's here
Maybe Steven can stay, but I'm going to find a
job and get out of here!
Dr. Thompson moves closer to Steve, and takes his
Please help me, Dr. Thompson. I do not want
to see the demons.
You don't have to, Steven. Not if you don't
I cannot help it. It is just my turn.
No, Steven! It is not your turn! Listen to me!
It is not your turn!
It isn't? Then it must be yours!
John, and Dr. Thompson exit in the darkness, and GUS THE GHOUL comes back on.
A spotlight picks up Gus.
Get it? Steve and John have been sharing
a psychosis for years. You might call it a
bi-psychosis. You might even call it a
bi-psychosis built for two!
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© 2000 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
The author grants all internet users to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use. No other use may be made without the author's permission. Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express permission.
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