by Jonathan Joy
excerpt from The Prayer List

Setting:       front porch of a small home

Time:           present

Character:  DENISE, 27, a small town Southern Ohio girl with a heart full of gold and a head full of air

Denise is speaking to her best friends Lulu and Alma.


Mom never likes any of the guys I bring home.  Especially the ones that have been to prison.  She’s so judgmental.  The Bible says not to judge people even if they’ve been to prison.  You can’t read a book by its cover.  That’s what the Bible says.

Besides, I’ve dated a lot of nice guys that spent some time in the pen.  I mean not all of them are the pick of the litter.  Some are just misunderstood.  Joe was a real nice guy.  When I met him, he was at the tail end of three year probation for assault but I didn’t hold that against him.  Besides, you’d never know it to be around him.  He was as gentle as can be.  It’s hard to imagine him being violent at all.  Joe always took me out to eat at nice places and paid for everything.  On our third date, he took me to the mall and let me build my own bear at that toy store where you dig through the lifeless collapsed teddy bear bodies and choose one to stuff with cotton and a little red plastic heart.  I still got mine.  I call him Joe.  The human Joe got sent to Iraq just when things were going real good between the two of us.  He wrote me once but that was a year ago and I ain’t heard nothing since.

Some of them do turn out to be weirdoes though.  There was this one guy named Mark that I’d been seeing for a month or so.  Mark was a real gentleman.  He always opened up the car door for me and if we went out to eat he’d pull out my chair for me to sit down in.  He even bought me flowers once—orange roses—my favorite.  But I had to kick him to the curb when I found out he was on that sex offender list.  Turned out he did a stint up in Lucasville for some real bad stuff.  I don’t want to talk about it.

Sam was nice enough.  He was just real stupid and prone to making bad decisions.  I liked him a lot though.  He knocked over a couple Speedways when the cigarette tax went through the roof.  It was kind of sweet ’cause half of what he stole was Virginia Slims—the brand I used to smoke—but it was dumb nonetheless.  Shit for brains.  I miss him.  He’s gonna be gone for awhile now on account that it was his third felony conviction in ten years and we got that new three-strikes-and-you’re-out law.

After Sam went away, I met Frank and I was seeing him for five or six months.  Frank went to jail once for shooting a guy in the leg outside the dog track over in Cross Lanes.  From what he told me, it seemed justified, but I wasn’t there so who knows.  We got fixed up on a blind date by my little sister Betsy who used to date Frank’s dad.  All of our dates were at his house ’cause he had to wear one of those ankle bracelet things that the police give you that won’t let you leave the house.  House arrest, I think they call it.  Frank was a quiet guy.  Real intense, too.  He spent a lot of time staring off into space and reciting the alphabet backwards.  It was kind of strange but he was really good in bed.  Things changed after he got that ankle thing off.  He spent all his time going out with his buddies and then he left me for this stripper he met down at The Pink Pony.  Her name is Candy.  I hate her.  I stalked her for a good long while until she got that restraining order against me.

I’m gonna kill her.

Just kidding.  I’m over it now.  I’ve met somebody new and he ain’t never been to prison.  He’s got a real good job too.  Only thing is I can’t bring him around the house when Mom is here.  Mom doesn’t like him ’cause she thinks he’s mixed.  I tell her all the time he ain’t mixed.  He’s Italian.  He’s as white as you and me.  To hell with her.  Like I said she never likes any of the guys I bring home.

His name is Marco and he’s real sweet on me and he’s just gorgeous.  He’s got this long dark wavy hair and a thick black beard and beautiful olive skin.  He looks a lot like Jesus if Jesus was Italian … and had really big beautiful muscles.

Marco works as an importer and exporter of precious cargo going to and from all kinds of places in South America.  I don’t really know what all he does but I know he travels a lot.  He spent a few weeks in Columbia last fall.  It sounds real exciting.  When he’s in town, we get to drive all over the place delivering packages to people.  It’s real top secret.  He doesn’t like me to talk about it.  He got real mad once when I tried to look inside one of them boxes.  He said those boxes got medicine in them and he’s delivering that medicine to people in need.  I thought that was real nice of him and then I thought he’s kind of like a doctor in a way.  And he’s really helping people.  And he helps people in real bad neighborhoods too which is something that I don’t think a lot of doctors do.  I’m a real lucky girl to have a man like that.

He’s coming over this Friday and to celebrate our five month anniversary we’re gonna watch a Vin Diesel movie and have sex.  Mom’s working the night shift so she won’t be around.  I’m real excited.

I bet Frank and Candy don’t have fun like me and Marco do.  I bet they’d both be real jealous if they could see me now.

And as far as Mom goes, I think she’ll come around.  She just needs to get to know Marco and I think she’ll like him real good.  It’s like the Bible says, you gotta love your neighbor.  And when God said that I don’t think he just meant the person living right next door to you.  I think he meant everybody, you know.  And I think if I put it that way to Mom that she’ll agree and realize that she’s just being a horrible bitch.  I hope so ’cause I got the feeling that Marco’s gonna be around for a long time.  We’ve talked about getting a place together and he’s promised to help me out with my Survivor application video.  He’s got a real nice video camera.  I like him a lot.  It’s nice to finally meet a guy that has a real future ahead of him.

copyright © 2007 Jonathan Joy. All rights reserved.

West Virginia playwright Jonathan Joy is the author of twenty plays.  His work has been performed in nine states including stages in New York City and at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.  His plays have been featured in the New York Times and Southern Theatre Magazine, and published by the One Act Play Depot, Smith & Kraus, and Brooklyn Publishers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s