March 1999
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I Should Have Thought Harder About the Army

(inspired by the song "I Thought About the Army," written by Ben Folds)
by Ginger Nance

WALTER, a young man of about 25, is sitting in a jail cell. Nothing about him is distinctive-he's the type of guy you could walk by two times in a minute and not recognize the second time. He sits on the bed and addresses the audience.

WALTER Jail isn't so bad. I mean, you've gotta watch out for your back, but in a lot of ways it's easier than trying to deal with the real world. Take me, for instance, I didn't do so well in the real world. Nothing in high school really interested me, but I went on to enroll in the local community college anyway. Never got much done, of course…I was too busy smoking pot. Now I just smoke these.

Goes and looks out of cell, then pulls out a cigarette and lights it.

One day I was high as hell, smoking a bowl with my buddies in the basement and watching a porno, and my dad came home early. He was all pissed off, and told me I wasn't doing shit with my life. Said the army would be the boot-kick in the ass a no good sack of shit like me needed. So, I thought about the army. Hell, I wasn't doing anything in the community college and at least you got paid in the army, so I swore off the mary jane for a while and straightened my head out and joined the army. Dad was so proud that he bought me an old Firebird to fix up and drive.

Takes a picture of the wall, looks at it, and holds it up.

I loved that goddamn car. Ain't she beautiful? (chuckles) I guess you can't see her too well from all the way out there, can you? Once I got into the Army, though, booze replaced pot as my recreational drug of choice and I was a dumb enough fuck to wreck her about 6 months after I got her. Dropped out the Army pretty soon after that. I didn't feel like going back to college so I got a job at the Winn Dixie bagging groceries. Dad was more pissed off than ever, saying some shit how I should pay rent to live in his house and that he'd supported my sorry ass long enough. Mama has always seen what she calls "the goodness deep down in my heart" though, and she talked him out of that bullshit. Since I didn't have to pay for rent or food or anything, I started hanging out with my old buddies and smoking pot and drinking. We were at a bar, and I got into a fight with some guy who was flirting with my buddy's girl. I was doing good hitting him with just my hands, like this…

Gets up off the bed, stubs out the cigarette and makes some boxing-like gestures.

…but then he hit me with a beer bottle so I had to pull out my old carving knife. I was so fucked up that I stabbed the bastard, right there. Now I'm here…my old man literally had a heart attack when he heard the news, and now all Mama does is pray for my soul at the church. I think I should've thought harder about the army…


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