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RICK meets Henry

RICK is hurrying into the school yard (Grammar School 22, at the corner of Stanton and Sheriff Streets, lower east side). He is late so he is running/jogging to make it into the classroom. He does not notice that a couple of his chess pieces (his chess set is always in his satchel) fall out to the ground behind him just as he enters the schoolyard. As he lines up to start into the school, a very tall boy taps him on the shoulder. It is Henry, the outsider RICK was discussing with Art. He mutely hands RICK the two chess pieces.

RICK

Thanks….

The boy nods and turns to walk away.

RICK (CONT’D)

Hey wait a sec…what’s your name?

Henry

(regarding RICK a little suspiciously)

Henry…

RICK

Well thanks again Henry…

(Henry turns and begins to walk away. RICK watches him for a second.)

Hey!

Henry

(turns around a little)

Yeah? What is it?

RICK

Well…I was just wondering if you wanted to learn to play chess?

Henry

Yeah? And why would I do that?

RICK

Well…I dunno…I figured since you returned the pieces, you might want to see how they are used….maybe after school sometime? I can teach you to play, if you’d like.

Henry

(hesitates…looks down at the ground)

Well I don’t know…

RICK

C’mon, I feel like it’s the least I could do.

Henry

Hey why are you being so nice to me?

RICK

(A little take aback)

Like I said, you gave me back the chess pieces. Hey look if you don’t want to, that’s fine. Suit yourself.

(turns to walk away, muttering to himself)

Sheesh I was just trying to be nice…

Henry

Hey kid!

RICK

Yeah?

Henry

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll meet you at the Fish Park. Three o’clock. Sound good?

RICK

Well ok…good! I’ll see you there.

Henry

Hey kid!

RICK

Yeah?

Henry

What’s your name?

RICK

Richard Blaine. But everyone calls me RICK.

RICK and henry play chess

Scene opens. The two boys are in Hamilton Fish Park, a chess set between them and a game in play. Both boys are studying the board intently.

RICK

Henry, I think it’s your move.

Henry

I know I know, I’m thinking…

(studies the board a little longer)

Hey who taught you how to play chess anwyays?

RICK

My uncle Art. And sometimes we talk in German while we play.

Henry

I’m trying to forget my German. But my ma makes me practice, especially when we go to church.

RICK

We don’t usually go to church. Sunday is the one day Uncle Art closes the shop and he would rather go play chess in the park. Speaking of chess, are you going to move any time soon?

 

Henry

How does this piece move again?

RICK

The rook? Well you can move him two squares up and one over to the left or the right.

Henry takes RICK’s advice. Once he moves, RICK moves his queen.

RICK (CONT’D)

Check!

Henry

Hey….why did you tell me to move there?

RICK

I didn’t tell you where to move; I just told you HOW to move.

Henry

Well shit….!

RICK

Another game? You get better by playing and practicing.

Henry

Naaahhh…I gotta get home. My Ma wants me back to help her with the laundry.

The boys start gathering up the chess pieces and the board. Everything gets dumped into RICK’s satchel. They start walking toward the entrance to the park.

Henry (CONT’D)

How come you never talk about your parents?

 

RICK

Parents? Shit I have never even met my parents. They never came back for me after I was born. I guess my Ma got sick or something. Who knows about my pa?

Henry

My pa died when I was really young. He was working down at the docks or something and he fell.

RICK

Where did he fall in to?

Henry

Don’t know…Ma never wants to talk about it.

RICK

Well Uncle Art and Miss Alice don’t tell me too much either. It makes me wonder though, why they never came back…by I have always stayed at Uncle Art’s, over the butcher shop.

Henry

Your uncle is really nice. He sometimes gives my ma extra meat pieces in order. I don’t think he knows that I know.

RICK

Yeah that sounds like Uncle Art. He likes doing stuff like that. I like playing chess with him. Still haven’t beaten him yet.

henry

Guess that’s why you have me around, huh?

RICK

Well you said it, not me…

Henry

Shuddup….

The boys continue to walk along.

 

RICK gets bullied

Bullies approach RICK as he plays chess by himself at a park chess table.

BULLIES

Which one of those whores is your mother?

They won’t tell him!

Right, nobody’ll claim him.

Ha!

My father says the one who runs the place looks to old to be his mother.

And his father?

Who’d admit to fathering such a weakling?

Don’t forget ‘ugly’.

You know, he sits there and plays with himself.

Yeah, he loses to himself at chess!

Whaddya got, chess-boy?

NB: here insert the scene we have in evernote about Henry coming to the rescue

As the boys surround Rick, taunting him, they then begin pushing and shoving him to get at his satchel with his chess set. Lots of shouting, dust kicked up. Rick ends up on the ground, satchel yanked from him.  He yells for them to stop but they ignore him. They rip open the satchel. Rick becomes enraged, gets up and charges the ring leader. The others grab him, laughing and taunting him, the ring leader starts to wind up to land a punch.

A hand reaches from behind the ring leader and grabs his wrist, hard. The boy looks back surprised.

Head Bully

“What the fuck!”

Before he can react any more Henry lands a huge left cross across his jaw and sends him down to the ground. The other boys are stunned. Henry does not say anything, just glares at them. One of them starts to charge him and Henry sends him to the ground. The other boys just stare at him.

Henry, stares down at the two groggy boys, who are finally beginning to stand.

Henry

(Looking up at the other two boys)

Fuck off!

They all skulk off.

Henry walks over to Rick who by now has stood up.

Henry (CONT’D)

You OK?

Rick

Yeah….

Henry

Let’s find your chess pieces.

Rick

Hey thanks. Ya now, I had everything under control though….just looking for ya know my opening..

Henry

oh I know…just felt like adding my 2 cents to those assholes.

They find all the chess pieces, chuckling.

RICK remains silent.Bully scatters chess pieces into the bushes.RICK stands up. Turns around. Starts to walk away. Bullies surround him. Start shoving. Other kid breaks into circle, turns head bully around, belts him. Other kids scatter. RICK and the kid who helped him, became friends.

SCHOOLBOY FRIEND OF RICK

Would you teach me how to play chess?

Sure

One day playing chess in park, kid beats RICK for the first time. They head to subway. Bullies follow them, jump turnstiles. No words exchanged, bully runs at friend from behind, pushes him into the tracks, third rail?

 

Rick and Henry become good friends

Fast forward 5-6 years. Henry and Rick continue to be friends and become even closer. Henry is frequently ar Ridge’s, playing chess with Art and Rick, and as he and Rick get older, around 15-16, Alice begins to let them help out at the bar, stocking bottles, helping with the kegs and bags of ice and food. Alice is now completely out of the “extra” business that used to take place upstairs. She now concentrates on serving beer, liquor, and simple meals that would appeal to dock workers, cops, firemen, postal workers, etc.

Henry and Rick begin working at the bar after school (as long as they get their homework done) and during the summers. They are both hard-working; Henry is taller than RIck, more physically strong but he is a deep thinker. Rick is wiry — working as a bar back and with the kegs and large chunks of ice have broadened his shoulders but he will never be a large specimen. Alice can see Rick’s natural ability with managing tasks and his curiousity reminds him of her as a younger girl. She begins to let him help her with the books and Rick begins to learn the ins and outs of running a bar: ordering, inventory, payroll, etc.

Rick also enjoys thinking of ways to attract more business to Ridge’s — little marketing ploys that leave Alice rolling her eyes in exasperation.

Alice

What do you mean — “2 for 1”?

Rick

So to attract more business, we advertise a couple hours out of each day, where someone can buy a drink and get the second for free.

Alice

Why would I give alcohol away?

Rick

Think of it Aunt Alice, someone comes in after work, orders one beer and then gets one for free or maybe one at half price. He will tell all his friends and they will all come and we we will double the foot traffic through here!

Alice

Where do you come up with these ideas?

(Show Art in the background, stifling a laugh)

 

Then one day, Henry and Rick come up to the back door, rolling an old upright piano in front of them.

Rick

Aunt Alice? Lookit what Henry and I found?

ALice

What the hell is that thing?

Henry

Well it’s a piano Miss Alice.

ALice

I can see that Henry. What’s it doing HERE? And where did you get it? You didn’t just take it did you?

Rick

Of course not, Aunt Alice…Old Man Casey down the street was hawking it. Three dollars is all I had to pay!!

Alice

Not sure you got a deal there. And where do you think you’re going to put it?

Rick

Well I thought….

Henry

“WE– we thought…”

Rick

Oh right, sorry Henry …WE thought it would fit right up against the wall next to the fireplace.

Alice

For what?

Rick

Well for music Aunt Alice.

Alice

And just who is going to play?

(Rick and Henry stop for a minute….)

Rick

Oh….well yeah guess I had not thought about that…I was so excited to get a hold of a piano — we could start having entertainment Aunt Alice and really bring the crowds in…

Alice

(Starts laughing)

You boys….OK…roll it on in there. No use wasting your $3.00. Guess it can collect dust for a while…

Rick

Hey maybe we could have a contest — take up a collection and have someone play for the pot….that way, we could get our entertainment.

Henry and Alice start rolling their eyes and groaning. Alice heads into the bar, shaking her head…Rick starts to protest —

Rick (CONT’D)

no no it could work…what we do is…

Scene fades as Rick is still talking.

Rick and HEnry meet Sam

Rick in the back office at Ridge’s, adding up money for the previous evening. Henry comes to the back door.

Henry

Hey Rick…got the tableclothes here from Ma.

Rick

OK Henry…can you get them onto the loading dock and I’ll get your Ma her money.

Henry

(Calls out the door)

)Hey kid, start putting the laundry up on the dock, will ya?

RIck

(Joining Henry at the door)

Hey, who’s the new guy? I haven’t seen around before…

Henry

His Ma helps my Ma with the laundry. His Ma wants him to start working with me. He seems OK but he can be a pain in the ass…

Rick

Oh?

Henry

Yeah he hums a lot and bats his fingers against the truck dash. Jesus it gets on my nerves.

Rick

Would it be better if he sang a little too?

Henry

Hmmmph…easy for you to make with the jokes. You don’t have to drive around with him humming and tapping out weird tunes on the dash…

Rick

Tunes, eh? Well what’s his name?

Henry

Oh I dunno….Sam I think….

Rick

(Calling out the door)

)Hey Kid!! Kid!! Sam!

Sam

(Looks up)

Yeah???

Rick

Could you get the tableclothes and napkins in?

Sam

OK….

(Starts unloading the truck humming)

Rick

(notices; makes a motion with his head toward the silent piano)

Hey kid…

Sam

Yeah?

Rick

What are you singing? Do you usually go around humming like that?

Sam

No not always — I mostly sing when I feel good or if I am in church.

Rick

Well can you play anything?

Sam

Play?

Rick

Yeah you know like — can you play the piano?

Sam

Well I noodle around a little.

Rick

Show me….

(gestures toward the piano)

Sam starts playing a rag number…he is good and a natural

Rick and Henry share a look…

Rick (CONT’D)

So ever think about playing in a joint?

Sam

Like for money?

Rick

No chucklehead — for Coney Islands! Of course for money…ever think about it?

Sam

Well uh not really…

Rick

Well start thinking about it. I want you to start playing here.

 

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