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Dangerous Angels


A Play in 1 Act


Scott C. Sickles

Copyright © 1993

by Scott C. Sickles
75 Chapel Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Home: (412) 366-3239
VOX: (412) 734-8951

Cast of Characters

BEN: 50s, the deceased
MIRANDA: 40s, Ben's widow
KAREN: 20s, Ben's daughter
RANDY: 20s, Karen's fiance
TY: late 30s, Ben's brother in law
HELEN: Ben's sister and Ty's late wife, played by the actress
portraying KAREN, with minimal costume change

Ben's funeral, the reception, and after.


The stage is bare. Scene changes depend upon lighting and movement.

A light comes up gradually on Ben's face as he lies dead on the stage.
Eventually the light reveals his entire body prepared for the burial.

(Lights come up to reveal MIRANDA dressed in black. KAREN and RANDY enter
the light holding hands awkwardly. TY joins them, placing a hand on
Miranda's shoulder. KAREN leans toward BEN, looks him over pensively and
smiles slightly. The light on BEN fades out. TY exits the light, followed
shortly by RANDY and KAREN, leaving MIRANDA alone. The light fades on

(Spotlight comes up, elsewhere. KAREN enters it.)

KAREN (aside)
My father left me with so many memories. But, the best came to me when I
saw him lying in all that white.

(Spotlight rises elsewhere. RANDY enters the spotlight.)

RANDY (aside)
Ben and I never actually met. We spoke on the telephone. He reminded me of
my own father. He's passed on as well.

(Another spotlight rises. TY enters it. KAREN crosses to RANDY.)

TY (aside)
He took it hard when Helen died. I think he grieved more than I did. He
often pointed out she was his sister before she was my wife. Ben loved his
family. If anything, he loved them too much.

I'm worried about Mom. She's hardly touched food in days.

Are you sure? We haven't been with her constantly.

(MIRANDA enters Karen's abandoned spot light.)

You're right. Maybe she still sneaks into the refrigerator like she did
when he was at work.

(KAREN crosses to TY.)

MIRANDA (aside)
Well, Ben was a fanatical historian. Sometimes, I'm amazed at the number of
photographs we have. He's in so many of them too. In fact, I don't think we
have three that he's not. He was a wonderful provider, too. We had a lovely
home, a beautiful daughter. Doesn't she look radiant? She bears an amazing
resemblance to her Aunt Helen - God rest her soul.. I worried, when Helen
passed on, Ty wouldn't stay in touch. He and Ben never really hit it off.
You know how some brothers are with their baby sisters. No boy is ever good
enough. My brother was like that, too. I swear, sometimes they're worse
than fathers. I certainly am going to miss him.

(RANDY crosses to MIRANDA.)

I'm surprised what a void his passing leaves in me, after living away for
so long. I thought when it happened, Randy and I'd have grandchildren for
him. We would have bridged the distance with them.

I can't believe talking to my Daddy isn't just a decision anymore. Excuse
me, Uncle Ty. I think I'm needed in the kitchen.

(KAREN exits the spotlight.)

Karen and I panic whenever we have to do something about the wedding. We're
thinking about eloping. It's a romantic notion.

(KAREN enters Miranda and Randy's spotlight, trying not to appear upset.
She whispers in his ear and smiles at her mother.)

If you'll excuse me.

(RANDY exits while KAREN stands still in the third spot light with her back
top TY. TY addresses MIRANDA from his spot.)

It was like a deja vu, Miranda. When I came in, I thought I saw Helen.
(Crosses toward KAREN)
She looked young and vibrant as she did when we were dating. I was about to
call out her name. Then she faced me and said--

(When TY is halfway between his and her spot lights, she turns and opens
her arms.)
Uncle Ty.

(Karen and Ty's spots fade out. KAREN exits. TY joins MIRANDA in her spot
light. He speaks as he crosses to her in the shadows.)

Karen has her father's eyes. Deep, dark eyes that penetrate. I don't mean
to be morbid. What are you going to do now?

What is there to do? I'll clean the house, learn to cook and shop for one,
and mourn my husband. I'll pray for him a lot.

Not that he needs it.

He spent enough time with God. I was relieved when he stopped talking about
it so much: religion, that is. All that talk about penance and retribution
and purity of the soul - it gets on a person's nerves. In fact, the last
time I was in a church was� Not that long ago. Karen and I were looking at
a couple for her wedding. Isn't Randy precious? He's such a dear boy. Ben
wasn't too crazy about him, but you know how it is.

I recall.

I wonder if they're still planning a church wedding. It's so expensive! Ben
and I both love church weddings, but we also want something practical. We
can't afford to give them a big wedding anyway. Listen to me. I keep
talking like he's� I'm sorry, Ty. I'm tired suddenly.

(TY helps MIRANDA exit the spotlight. It fades out.)

(Lights rise on KAREN in a chair. MIRANDA enters the light in a bathrobe.)

How was your nap? Did you sleep at all?

I must have. I woke up.

I'm sure things are bound to get better.

What do you mean by that?

Nothing. Just, you know� You and sleep and food. Those sorts of things.
What did you think I meant?

I don't know. I can't forget how angry you are at your father.

I'm not angry anymore; just a little frustrated. We touched on as much as
we could. What doesn't get done, doesn't. But, I've been wanting to tell
you all evening. I've been wracking my brain, and finally it happened. I
thought of something.

Something good? About your father?

Surprised? One winter day when I was - I don't even know - I guess I came
up to his waist. He took me outside into the back yard. We didn't have a
dog then, so I must have been about six or seven. Anyway, he plopped down
in the snow and started waving his arms and legs. Then, he got me to do it,
too. When I was done, he got up, and helped me to my feet and told me to
look at what we made. And on the ground in the snow were two angels. One
big and one little. I was so impressed at this new artistic skill he'd
given me, I made

KAREN (cont'd)
about a dozen more. Then, we came inside and he made us hot chocolate with
real marshmallows. No little ones. No marshmallow fluff. The real thing.

Your father did this with you?

Isn't it unbelievable? Makes you wonder what went wrong. What could have
happened to the man who taught me the fine art of hot cocoa and snow

That's a very sweet memory.

It's the precious part of my inheritance. The kitchen's all cleaned up.
Uncle Ty saw the guests out. Everyone was very nice. Randy cleaned up the
living room and the dining room. He cleans, he cooks, he makes julienne
fries. What more could I ask for?

That's a very important question. Don't pass over it lightly.

Was there ever more you wanted from Daddy? Everybody knows he was "a good
provider." About a hundred people reminded me of that today. But, that's
not everything. Sometimes I wonder if Daddy ever realized that.

He did. You probably don't believe me. He knew happiness and love had a
place in people's lives. He just couldn't find room for it in ours. I never
told you this. I couldn't even bear thinking about it.
(Spotlight up on BEN.)
We came home after Helen and Ty's reception. I did my usual hustle and
bustle around the house. Later on, I found him in that chair of his.
Remember, the one we had to throw away after the house flooded in that
horrible storm. He was just staring down at the floor. I had to ask him,
"Are you alright?"

I'm sorry.

For what?

I know people don't always fall in love with the right one.

I think Helen and Ty will be fine together. I know you have doubts, but--

I know they'll have problems. If he still married her after how stubborn
I've been, I suppose he must love her.

And she loves him.

What I was saying is that we're not always able to marry who we truly love.
And I'm sorry.

I don't know what you're saying, Ben.

Just that we settled for each other. I know there's probably someone out
there that you wanted, but you ended up with me. You've been so gracious. I
can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I hope we can still make the best
of it. How about this? We go out, find a nice, new car and trade in your
old one. It's got almost seventy thousand miles on it anyway. Then, we'll
take the new car someplace nice and have a big dinner. You won't have to
worry about a thing tonight. What do you say?

(Spot fades on BEN.)

What could I say? I was in shock. I laugh thinking the number of times you
yelled at me for loving him too much. Every time I shrugged and made some
joke about you reading Cosmopolitan too much. But his apology reminded me
every "I love you" that escaped his lips was a lie. Or at least it didn't
mean what it was supposed to. But I thought you should know, you were

I didn't want to be.

Once the shock wore off I realized: If he doesn't love me, then who does he
love? Who did he�? I thought of everyone we knew, but you know how that
goes? First no one seems logical, then everybody does. Did he ever say
anything about it to you?

Dad said love wasn't a suitable topic for children.

(Lights cross fade to TY and RANDY who is seated.)

So, are you still doing the photography thing full time?

Yes, I am. In fact, I'm working at home now. I got a loan to build my
darkroom. Now I develop and process film for friends and they refer me to
people they know. It's working out rather well. How've you been keeping
yourself busy?

I haven't. I've become a couch potato. I've put on about twenty pounds from
all the take out food. I sit at home, watch our favorite movies. I cry

Would Ben have approved?

Probably not. What did he care? To him, I was just his "sister's husband."
I hadn't seen much of him since Helen. He never thought I was�

Good enough?

(Spotlight up on BEN.)

Proper. He was hung up on propriety, like he'd cornered the market. There
wasn't a thing he could find right with me. I was irresponsible because I
travelled before finishing school. Then I was "superior" when I did
graduate. I was a boxer in college, so I'd beat her. I was latently
homosexual because I wrote poetry. Thing is, I didn't even write poetry.
I'd just jot down little observations here and there. Thoughts and ideas.
Interesting things people said.

You haven't written down anything I said.


You better not.

No problem. I don't think you'll ever say anything interesting enough for
me to write down.

You think I give a shit if the B.M.O.C. doesn't find me interesting? Or do
you? Are you queer, Ty?

If I say yes, are you going to beat me up or ask me out?

It doesn't make a difference, when you're not--

Not what? Gay or engaged? Didn't Helen tell you? I thought you two were
close. She said she could tell you anything. Has that changed?

You're not right for her.

Are my feet too big or did someone tell you I picked my nose as a child?

You think you can love anybody you want. But you can't! It doesn't work
that way.

How does it work? Enlighten me.

Each of us has a partner in this life. Sometimes we think we've found that
person, but it's not true. Sometimes we never find them or it's too late.
You think it's crazy, but I believe this.

Good for you.

She believes it, too. She knows in her heart she belongs to someone, and
someone belongs to her; and she knows as well as you or I, that person sure
as hell isn't you.

And how do we all know this?

Because� It's obvious.

Ben. You've got a problem. Several, in fact. Let me make this clear. I am
not some boyfriend you can wave a baseball bat at and scare off. I'll stick
that bat up your ass first.

Are you threatening me?

Do you feel threatened? Look, Ben. I love Helen. She loves me. If we're
wrong about this, I hope to God it doesn't work out and we go our separate
ways before we become as bitter and angry as you. But if we're right and
you can't accept that she's happy with me, tough. I think you and I should
just stay clear of each other.

Or else what?

I'm not what's threatening you, Ben. I'll be damned if I know what is. I
hope you get over it.

KAREN (off stage as Helen:)
Ty. Could you come here a minute, please? Mom and Dad want to talk to us.

I'll be right there.
(to BEN:)
Helen needs me.

(spot fades on BEN)

I wish I could handle people like you do. Thing is, nobody'd believe I'd be
able to plug them with a baseball bat.

Well, you don't have to worry about that anymore. When's the big day?

Who knows? It was next spring, but now� He couldn't have been all that bad.
I see him in all these pictures. Everybody looks happy.

He wasn't. He was very temperamental and terribly misguided. No occasion
was perfect, therefore all of them were bad. He didn't know how to live
outside of extremes.

Karen told me the only fond memory she could recall was the time he taught
her to make angels in the snow.

I'm sorry. Who did you say taught her?

Her dad.

Oh. Funny how history reinvents itself. Miranda was complaining to me -
well, she mentioned to me -- Miranda never complained about Ben. Anyway,
she told me how upset Ben was when he thought Karen was a lesbian. First I
marry Helen and I'm gay and now Karen's going to marry you. Leave it to Ben
to think so ridiculously outside the boundaries of reality.

Well, actually�

(lights up on KAREN and MIRANDA, who is now seated. The following
conversations differ as follows: the conversation between KAREN and MIRANDA
is a mother-daughter argument; the one between TY and RANDY is a polite
exchange regarding every personal issues. These separate tones must be very
clear then both parties speak the same words.)

It's essentially a marriage of convenience.

Karen and I�

But you love each other.

We don't love each other the way married people are supposed to.

Sure. I'd die without him, but that's not necessarily a good basis for a

What I mean to say is�

So why are you getting married?

How do I put this?

Because no one else loves us.

Ben was sort of right.

I love you. Your uncle loves you.

Are you going to marry me, Mom?

So, when Ben had the ridiculous notion she was marrying a gay guy�

You have plenty of friends who love and care about you. Are you going to
marry them too?

On the nose.

Oh, God. So, do you think you'll be happy together?

I think so. We love and respect each other. We know each other better than
anyone else knows us. Realistically, it'll probably last longer than most
other marriages.

What if you finally find someone? Someone you fall in love with. Someone
you're supposed to fall in love with. What then?

It won't last.

Why not?

It never does.
(Spot light up on BEN)
Look. When I tried to tell my father, not even that I was this way, but
that I might be--

Oh, God. Have you told anybody else?


� no�

Don't. Especially your mother. How could you say something like this?

It's not like�

� like I did it on purpose.

I'll get you help. I'll find a doctor to help you. You know feelings like
this are wrong. They're against God and against nature.

Why bring God into this?

I'm not even religious.

Maybe that's where we failed. I won't let this happen to you. You know that
people are only supposed to love other people in certain ways. I know
sometimes people's feelings betray them. And it may seem okay to love
someone if it doesn't appear to hurt anybody else. But it does. That's why
everybody just can't go around pursuing whatever it is they want. Sometimes
it's wrong for no reason other than it is. I'll help you as best I can and
no one ever needs to know what you told me.



But, what? Do you want to go through the humiliation and degradation of
everybody knowing you're a freak? That you're wrong inside and your heart
has poisoned your soul? Hasn't it been bad enough for you carrying it
inside for so long? I love you too much to let this happen to you.

(Spot fades on BEN.)

Who could argue�

�with logic like that?

Why didn't you tell me first?

Why'd you tell your father, if he'd take it this badly?

When you hear so much about

loving thy neighbor,

accepting everyone for who they are,

so many nice, charitable

Christian things,

you want to think the mouth telling you believes them too

(Lights cross fade to two empty spaces elsewhere. MIRANDA and TY cross to
one; RANDY and KAREN to the other.)

The kids are upstairs packing. They want to stay another night, but I told
them it's not necessary.

I spilled the beans to my mother.

Maybe you should let them.

I kind of told your uncle.

The noise would just keep me up.

Oh, I wouldn't worry about that.

What did he say?

Probably the exact same thing your mother said. He seemed more surprised
when I told him about the angels.

I don't mean� I guess Randy told you.

Considering how we each got along with my dad, he's probably amazed I had
anything civil to say. The thought of an actual pleasant�

He mentioned it. He also told me Karen remembers Ben teaching her snow

Oh no.

It's her only pleasant memory of him.

God damn it! This must be the work of his God. Nothing else could be this

Twisted, isn't it. Not necessarily in a bad way.

What is it? What's wrong?

I try to salvage one moment - one, single fucking moment! - and those
angels rise from the ice and take it back!

I understand. Unfortunately.

It wasn't him! It wasn't even�

(RANDY holds her as she breaks down. During Miranda's next line, RANDY
calms KAREN and escorts her off stage. This should be done lovingly, giving
the impression of two people who know one anothers' emotions intimately.)

I'm used to a quiet house. Ben never got up in the middle of the night,
never snored. He'd lie there breathing so easy. It was strange to see him
peaceful. Even in the coffin, he seemed troubled. I used to lie awake and
watch him. He'd smile sometimes. He'd never talk in his sleep, so I never
knew why he smiled. If I could have found out what made him so happy in his
sleep, maybe I'd have been able to make him happier when we was awake.

Helen wasn't like that at all. She'd toss and turn. Once I'm asleep, I'm a
log. With her� Sometimes she'd keep me up half the night. Especially after
her arguments with Ben.

What did they argue about?

You know. Stupid, sibling things.

No, I don't know. There are some situations only children never have to
face. What did they--

I told you. Nothing--

Ty, I just buried my husband knowing he never loved me. It's not something
I figured out, either. He told me so - during, what I'm sure he considered
a tender moment between us. I was his compromise. I want to know who he had
to give up. I loved that man so much. I deserve to know what was missing.
Can you tell me? It's okay if you can't. I'll accept that - gladly. But, if
you honestly can�

(Sounds of BEN and HELEN arguing unintelligibly.)

I'd come home from work sometimes and they'd be screaming at each other.
They'd hear the car and quiet down, so I never could hear what all the
yelling was about. There'd be tears wiped all over her face. Ben would
stand there with his head hung low. This one time, things must have been
pretty bad. The screaming didn't stop, even as I got out of the car. I
stood in the doorway, but they were past anything specific.

(Lights fade to spots on TY and BEN. TY watches BEN argue with an off stage

God damn it! Don't you think I--

HELEN (off stage:)
You say it and say it! But you don't know how I feel!

(HELEN enters.)

Of course I do!

Then do something about it!

What would you have me do, Helen? There's nothing--

You seemed perfectly able to think of something when we were kids hiding in
the cellar.

It was still a sin. And what about that husband of yours you say you love--

Shut up! You know he has nothing to do with this! This is different! This
is� This is us.

And that's why it can't happen!

It's not unheard of, you know. If it happens, nobody gets hurt. But, this
way� all I feel is pain.

So do I, but--

Then stop it. Stop it from hurting.

It's wrong and that's why it hurts. Don't you see? We can't--

If that's how you feel, than get out! Just get the hell out!
(HELEN sobs and collapses into BEN. They go to the floor, holding each
other, crying.)

I let the door shut loud, so they'd know I was there. I hoped they wouldn't
realize how long I'd been listening. They were clinging to each other for
dear life in the middle of the floor. I opened my mouth to ask what
happened, but Ben looked up at me. His eyes were so full of� hate, remorse,
jealousy, you name it. She looked up at me too, finally, when he left. I
asked her if she wanted to talk about it, but she said, "Later." But
neither of us were courageous enough to bring it up again.

(KAREN and RANDY enter.)

Are you sure you don't want us to stay?

You should go. There's nothing here for you except a nagging mother and a
breakfast you can get just as well at Denny's.

As long as you're sure.

(Spotlight up on BEN standing with his back to the others, only
occasionally turning around to react to them.)

I wanted to say something to Karen before you left, but since Ty and I know
your situation, I'll say this right here. I know how deeply you feel about
each other. I think what you're doing is admirable. But your fathers are
dead. You have no one left to prove anything to. Randy, I'd love to have
you as my son-in-law. I'd just rather it be for the right reasons.

We know what we're doing. And we need each other, just like you needed

It's not like the way I needed your father and you know it. But, at least
you both know it. I don't want to meddle anymore. I'll just shut up. But,
please, both of you: think about it before you do anything more.

We've thought about it.

Then think about it some more. And cancel that church. It's the last thing
you need.

I better go now, so I don't fall asleep at the wheel.

Uncle Ty, I want to tell you� You probably think I don't realize how
important you are to me. But, I do. You've always been so much more to me
than my "father's sister's husband." No matter what anybody might have

(KAREN hugs TY.)

I love you too, pumpkin. Don't worry; I'll be around for a while. As a
matter of face, I've been thinking about taking up photography. Maybe you
can give me break, Randy?

No problem. I can even get you the camera.

I'll call you.
Take care of yourself.

Thank you for everything. Looking back, it's made things much clearer.

I was afraid it might.

Let me know what you decide about everything.

We will.

We'll visit again soon.

Oh, and one thing Karen. I don't know if you want to know this or not, but�
Your father never taught you--

I know, Mom. I guess I hoped a lie - even a little one - would give me an
heirloom instead of the truth giving me nothing. But I remembered: Daddy
hated snow. Thank Uncle Ty for me.

Thank him yourself.

I love you, Mom.

(They all kiss goodbye and KAREN and RANDY exit. MIRANDA stands in a
spotlight, not facing BEN who in his spotlight does face her.)

So what's left for me to do, Dear? The things you didn't say� Thank God the
kids could tell me their plans. If you were around, I hate to think what
might have happened. Don't imagine for a moment I've stopped loving you,
Ben, because I can't. I'm angry and exhausted and I feel like grandstanding
because everywhere I look is your face. You never looked away from a camera
in you life and now all ten million of your eyes are on me.
How could you tell me that? I never thought I settled for anything, Ben,
much less you. But, now� I had an identity. I had desires and passions and
needs and they all led to you. That was my responsibility. It would have
been nice if for one moment you recognized that. I guess I was in love with
my ideal of you. I hear from Karen that's a common mistake, but of course,
she reads Cosmopolitan too much. But, you. You never hit me, you never
drank or gambled, you were never actively unfaithful to me. Why is the sum
of our marriage all the things you didn't do, Ben? Why couldn't it be just
one thing: loving me back. Was it too much to ask, dear? You didn't even
have to go first.
I denied you were thinking of another woman when you made love with me. But
in my heart, I knew you were making love to someone else. Someone you
Maybe you loved the wrong person, Ben, but at least your wrong person loved
you back. Mine didn't. How dare it be my husband?
(MIRANDA faces BEN who turns away.)
God damn it, Ben! You turned your back on me when you were alive. I am not
going to let you do it now!
(BEN turns to her wearing the same smug grin in every picture in the
The tragedy of my life was loving you. So what if you gave me a beautiful
house. You filled with frames of you posing with our forced smiles. It's
like some mirage you hoped would convince people who didn't look too close.
So what if you gave us a beautiful daughter you made think was a freak? You
bought her things to convince her you were a good father. And what did all
your bribes amount to? The only good thing she could remember about you was
actually about someone else. Someone you couldn't stand. And why couldn't
you stand him,

MIRANDA (cont'd)
Ben? So what if you were fucking somebody else in your mind. Don't think I
don't know who it was. And Ty knows too. Who could blame you? Helen was a
beautiful woman. Karen's growing up to look just like her. I can't bear to
think what that might have led to. It doesn't provide much relief knowing
it was you who put the brakes on while her husband listened. I'm sure she
had to tell you "no" more than once. Now the two of you can spend eternity
strumming harps together, congratulating yourselves on your monumental self
control. Meanwhile, those you've left behind can sit in comfortable
furniture, alone, and be surrounded by innumerable pictures of you!
(Spotlight fades on BEN.)
What were you thinking, Benjamin? That I'd never know? Or did you know by
the time I found out there would be nothing left to do about it? There is
nothing left for me, Ben. Nothing. I spent so much of my life being Ben's
wife, I don't know anything else. And now this� I wish I were dead right
along with you, sweetie. I want to kill myself right now, but who am I
kidding? That's something Ben's wife would never do. So, I'll just clean
your house again. Where should I start?