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Episode No. 25 - Myths & Heroes

written by E.R. Holdridge (Shobi)

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About this story

Published: 31 Jul 1997 | Size: 107 KB (19748 words) | Language: english | Rating: PG-13
Average: 4.4/5   4.4/5 (45 votes)

based on stories and characters created by Winnie Holzman

Black Screen-- "Fifteen Days Later"


Katimski’s literature class, during Rickie and Delia’s period.

KATIMSKI: Okay . . . aah . . . today we are starting a new section, on . . . Mythology. It sort of takes us back to the same period as . . . "The Odyssey", the same cultural background. Except we’ll be focusing on the gods and the goddesses, and of course, other mythic . . . heroes. (scans the room) Can anyone tell me what a myth is?

The class looks unenthused, unprepared, or both.

KATIMSKI: Oh come on! *Someone* must have done the reading.

DELIA: (raising her hand) Myths are like legends, aren’t they? Stories?

KATIMSKI: (giggles, snaps fingers) Yes! Stories. For our purposes, a myth is a story that is of unknown origin that supposedly relates historical events in a way that explains some practice, belief, or phenomenon. (hearing a definition, the studious in the class write this down) Some scholars say that the myths are just pseudo-science, and nothing more. Stories giving an etiological answer to the mysteries of the universe. (the words "etiology=cause, or origin" are on the board and he scratches at the board to emphasize them as he speaks) Like the weather, or what the sun is . . . (trails off) You get the idea. A good introduction is the myth of Demeter and Persephone, which explains the seasons. On page 228. Who will read aloud for us today?

No volunteers seem to be forthcoming. Rickie looks around and sees that no one else is going to volunteer and raises his hand.

KATIMSKI: (smiling kindly) Enrique! Thank You.

RICKIE: (VO) Persephone. Beloved daughter of the harvest-goddess, Demeter, Persephone led an enchanted life among the growing fields. Demeter gave her daughter a magic paint-box, which Persephone took among the spring flowers, coloring them according to her fancy and drawing upon them the faces they have worn forever.

(Visual--Starts out showing Rickie reading aloud, fades back to full shot of the classroom, Katimski apparently enthralled with the words. Fades to a shot of the empty hallway, fades to the guidance office, where Rayanne is drawing the circle with the diagonal line through it--the universal symbol for "Not!"--on a faded poster that says "Hugs, Not Drugs". As Rickie finishes, a door slams behind Rayanne, and she jumps away from what she was doing. She seems nervous and twitchy. She edges toward a seat, as Cathy Krzyzanowski throws some stuff on her desk, but takes a seat in front of it.)

K’NOWSKI: Hello, Rayanne. Sorry I got hung up.

RAYANNE: Hey. (plops down) No problem. How come you never sit at your desk?

K’NOWSKI: (pause, head-tilt) Well, I don’t like barriers in the way when I’m talking to students.

RAYANNE: (frowns) Oh. So you can see what’s in their hands or something?

K’NOWSKI: No. Actually, I was talking about psychological barriers. Talking like this allows the whole process to seem more . . . open.

RAYANNE: (nods) And, as an added bonus, no one can get the drop on you.

K’NOWSKI: (nods, vacantly) I suppose not. So how are you doing? Okay?

RAYANNE: Sure. (nods, looks down) It’s only been eighteen days. I’m fine. (looks up) My Mom’s doing great, too. Neither one of us has had a drink at all. But she’s smoking a lot more now.

K’NOWSKI: What about you? Have you replaced the alcohol with anything?

RAYANNE: (looks down) Yes. Candy again. But I’ve been on this chocolate kick lately. Instead of lollies. (speaking quickly, very stream of unconsciousness) I heard that scientists found that chocolate does the same thing to your head that pot does, only they said that chocolate isn’t *addictive*. (snorts) Yeah right! But I guess it’s true then, that drugs lead to other drugs, because whenever I used to smoke pot, I would get the weirdest cravings for Hostess Ho-Ho’s.

K’NOWSKI: What *about* drugs? You say you’ve stopped drinking, but what about drugs?

RAYANNE: No. I haven’t had those at all. Since that night.

K’NOWSKI: The night your stomach was pumped?


K’NOWSKI: Rayanne, I have to say that I’m a bit worried about you doing this all on your own. That was the route you chose last time, and . . .

RAYANNE: (defensive) Well, I’m *not* doing it alone this time. My Mom is quitting with me, and I have all my friends on notice. They know I *want* to stop, and they’re not going to look the other way if I drink . . .

K’NOWSKI: You mean, not *this* time.


K’NOWSKI: I think it’s great that your Mom is quitting with you, from what you’ve said, that is sure to help . . . *alleviate* some of the pressure you may feel . . .

RAYANNE: (sensing it) But?

K’NOWSKI: But I really think you should consider getting some other support too. *Outside* help.

RAYANNE: (disbelieving) You don’t mean, like, detox, or something? ‘Cause that test I took, it said that I wasn’t an alcoholic.

K’NOWSKI: (explaining) The test only said that you would be classified as a problem drinker, a binge drinker, and not really suitable for a detoxification program. But, being a problem drinker, at only sixteen, is a dangerous road. (Rayanne just looks back at her) But I didn’t mean you should go into a hospital. I was just thinking of a support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous, someplace that provides some sort of support, and maybe some structure.

RAYANNE: (frowning) I don’t know. I’ve known people in those groups. I don’t want to . . . *be* like them.

K’NOWSKI: (frowning, concerned) What do you mean?

RAYANNE: My Mom had this boyfriend once. He was a major coke-fiend, and eventually he got busted, and as part of his deal he had to go to NA. He became like this whole other person. He started talking about God all the time and kept telling my Mother that she was an alcoholic and that she wouldn’t be a worthwhile person unless she stopped. And it got so he went to a meeting, like, every night. It was like he got addicted all over again, but, like, to the *meetings*.

K’NOWSKI: Well, AA is a very powerful tool. Some people need that. A feeling of constancy, and of certainty.

RAYANNE: All I know is, those twelve steps aren’t for me.

K’NOWSKI: Why not?

RAYANNE: The first one. About how I’m powerless over my addiction. And that drinking is like a disease. I don’t even think that I *am* addicted, and even if I am, I’m not *powerless*. If I was powerless, I’d still be drinking right now. No one forced me to get help. Not like last time.

K’NOWSKI: Okay. You seem to feel strongly about this. But there are other groups that I’ve heard about. That don’t stress a religious aspect or use a disease metaphor and aren’t about needing anything outside of yourself to tackle your drinking problem. More of a self-help group, as opposed to AA, which is more like a support group, I suppose. What would you think about that?

RAYANNE: I don’t know. That sounds better, I guess. What are they like?

K’NOWSKI: One is called Rational Recovery. (using finger quotes) Like "AA", only it’s "RR". The other one that I’ve heard of has the initials SOS, but I forget what that stands for. I can get some more information and maybe make some calls, to see if these groups have any sessions around here. But they’ll be *smaller* groups, Rayanne. AA would enable you to go to meetings full of people your own age. Teenagers facing problems close to what you’re dealing with, rather than 40-year, hard-core alcoholics suffering from DT’s.

RAYANNE: (shaking her head) No. Those other groups sound good. Maybe I could try them. I’ll talk to Amber.

K’NOWSKI: (sighing) Okay. I’ll see what can find out about those groups. In the meantime, how is everything else holding up? Your schoolwork?

RAYANNE: (shrugs) Okay I guess.

K’NOWSKI: Actually, (smiling) I’ve been hearing reports that you’re doing somewhat better than usual lately.

RAYANNE: Yeah. I stopped ditching class so much. For the play. I guess going to class helps, or something. (shrugs) Who knew?

K’NOWSKI: (serious face again) About the play . . .

RAYANNE: (excited) What about it? Are you comin’? There’s still some tickets left, but not many, so you better hurry if you want a seat.

K’NOWSKI: Yes, I’m coming. Mr. Katimski tracked me down early on and . . . I don’t know . . . persuaded me, I guess, to buy some tickets.

RAYANNE: (short laugh) I know. He’s good, isn’t he, at getting what he wants?

K’NOWSKI: Yes, he is. Now about the play. There’s bound to be a lot of pressure, it’s only natural that you would feel some nervousness and pressure to do well.

RAYANNE: No. (shaking her head) It’s going to be great. Perfect even.

K’NOWSKI: That’s sort of the attitude I’m worried about, Rayanne. It’s great that you’re excited about something. But . . . it’s important to have . . . *realistic* expectations.

RAYANNE: (nodding) I do. I’ll be fine.

There is a knock at the door, and the intimidating form of Principal Foster enters, before Krzyzanowski even says anything. He looks foreboding, and is wearing a dark black suit.

FOSTER: Ms. Krzyzanowski? I’m sorry to interrupt. But I have to speak to you regarding (glances at Rayanne) a most *dire* situation.

K’NOWSKI: (taken aback) Of course. Rayanne, I’ll look into those programs we were talking about. If you could just stop by sometime tomorrow, okay?

RAYANNE: Sure. (standing) Thanks. (looks at Foster as she exits)

K’NOWSKI: (standing, getting behind desk, as if she is in need of barriers now) What is this about?

FOSTER: It’s about a student . . . and, I’m afraid to say, a teacher as well. I want to know everything that *you* know about Richard Katimski and one of our students, one Rickie Vasquez.

K’NOWSKI: (looks pale) Is there . . . I mean, is there some sort of problem?

FOSTER: (pause, sighs) I’m afraid there is.


Angela and Jordan in the tutoring room. They each work in silence.

ANGELA: (looks up) Did you hear about the prom?

JORDAN: (vacantly) What about it?

ANGELA: How the Juniors planning it booked this hall and promised like 400 people would show up. It’s a big hall. (laughs at their stupidity) They couldn’t even get that number if *every* junior and senior were going, *and* dating someone from another school, or something.

JORDAN: It’s not canceled, is it?

ANGELA: No. They just opened it up for the underclassmen to go too. I think that’s kind of a cool idea. But I hear the seniors are really, like, *distressed* about it, or something.


ANGELA: Have you ever thought about it? Going, I mean? (blank stare from him) You probably haven’t, right? That’s not your type of thing. (looks down) Forget it.

JORDAN: (shrugs) Some of my friends are going. Not Tino, though.

ANGELA: They are?

JORDAN: Yeah. (looks sad, or ashamed) I mean, my *senior* friends. As sort of the last big blowout before graduation. They have some wild plans.

ANGELA: Really. (with feigned indifference) Were you thinking of going with your friends?

JORDAN: No. They all have dates. Besides . . . I don’t really hang with them as much as I used to . . . before I got . . . held back, or whatever.

ANGELA: Oh. Right. That’s how you know them, isn’t it? You were, like, *in* that class, weren’t you? Originally? (pause) I sometimes forget.

JORDAN: (looks down, wanting to end this discussion) They do too. Sometimes. (he goes back to his work)

ANGELA: (VO, clearly studying Jordan) I wanted to say something then. Reassuring or comforting. Or tell him that I was *glad* he had been held back. Twice. Otherwise, I probably *never* would have met him. But that didn’t seem comforting, just sort of selfish. Meeting me couldn’t possibly mean as much to him, as meeting him did to me. And even if it did, it couldn’t possibly balance out all the other things he had missed. So I just . . . didn’t say anything at all. (she returns to grading something, as Jordan works on in silence)


The actors are on stage, including Rayanne and Abyssinia. Katimski is out in the seats. We can see Corey, Delia and Rickie in the wings.

RICKIE: (VO) One morning in May, as Persephone dipped her brush into the special shade of purple-blue that she used to bring the small flowers of the field to vibrant life, she heard a strange rumbling sound that seemed to be coming from beneath the field. The field opened.

(Visual--There is a loud "bang" from one of the auditorium doors. The actors stop mid-sentence, Katimski turns around in shock, and the crew peaks out of the wings in an unprofessional manner.)

RICKIE: (VO) From out of the pit surged six black horses drawing a black chariot, driven by a tall, black-bearded, black-robed figure.

(Visual--Principal Foster strides purposefully into the auditorium and up to Mr. Katimski. He does not smile.)

RICKIE: (VO) Before Persephone could call for help, she was snatched into the darkened chariot, which plunged again into the pit.

FOSTER: Mr. Katimski, I need to speak with you.

KATIMSKI: (absently) Oh, well, I’m in the middle of practice . . .


KATIMSKI: Ohh-kay. (turning to stage) Enrique! Will you come out here and make sure everyone is on their marks?

Rickie nods, but before he can get even halfway across the stage, Foster ushers Katimski out.

RICKIE: (VO) Persephone saw that she *knew* her abductor, it was her uncle, Hades, the lord of the underworld. But, she did not know he wanted of her.

(Visual--Katimski hurries to keep pace with Foster)


Foster sits behind his intimidating desk. It is clear from Katimski’s expression that he still has not guessed what this is all about.

KATIMSKI: (sheepishly) If this is about keeping the kids rehearsing too late, I’ve already spoken with Chee Kwan’s parents about . . .

FOSTER: (interrupting) No, Mr. Katimski, I’m afraid this is a little more serious than overworking our student-thespians. I’ve had some reports from the District’s Administrative Office. Directions, actually.

KATIMSKI: (confused) About what?

FOSTER: (clears his throat, embarrassed) Your . . . living arrangements, for lack of a better term.

KATIMSKI: My *living* arrangements? (with an edge) I don’t see how that is any concern of administration, or of the School Board.

FOSTER: Normally, I would agree with you one hundred percent. Your personal life is just that. Unfortunately, since this involves a student, it cannot and *will* not remain that way much longer.

KATIMSKI: (getting the whole extent of it) Ah. So this is about Enrique?

FOSTER: (raised eyebrow) Then you admit it? Rickie Vasquez *is* living with you? And your . . . (searching) <achem> *roommate*?

KATIMSKI: My partner. Joseph. Yes.

FOSTER: And this is the same Rickie Vasquez that has been warned seven times in the last year alone to *stop* going into the Ladies Room?

KATIMSKI: I have no idea as to the actual number, but yes.

FOSTER: I’m afraid this living arrangement has come to the attention of Martha Stone. And predictably, she has brought it to the attention of the School Board. I am sure that the media will not be far behind.

KATIMSKI: I’m sorry. Should I know that name, Stone? None of my students go by that name.

FOSTER: No. Mrs. Stone no longer has any children in this system. They are *privately* educated.

KATIMSKI: So who is this woman? Why does she care?

FOSTER: (sighs, wants to say something) It is not my place to editorialize about the constituents of this community. And as for why she cares, I am surprised you can’t see why yourself. The School Board is *very* concerned. And so am I. What is Rickie Vasquez doing at your house, in the first place?

KATIMSKI: That’s simple. He needed a place to stay.

FOSTER: When I spoke to Ms. Krzyzanowski I received a different impression. She said that she got Rickie on a waiting list for a halfway house and in the meantime he was assigned to a "temporary care facility". Is this incorrect? Has Ms. Krzyzanowski misled me?

KATIMSKI: No. Cathy had nothing to do with this. Rickie ran away from that shelter, those *barracks*, or whatever you call them. He said he couldn’t stay there. I told him that he could stay with me until he got into Pride House.

FOSTER: But not *just* with you, isn’t that correct?

KATIMSKI: (swallows) No. Joseph lives there too, of course.

FOSTER: Of course. (a bit patronizing) You *can* see why this is an issue.

KATIMSKI: No, actually. I can’t. When Rickie was kicked out of his house and living in an abandoned *warehouse*, there was no issue then. No one seemed to care at all. Why do they now?

FOSTER: It is my understanding, that at that point, Rickie had not told anyone about his . . . abandonment, therefore, Child Services was not involved yet. Once he spoke to you and Ms. Krzyzanowski, of course, the child welfare department was notified. It was they who assigned him to the care facility. However, they are under the impression that he ran away from that facility.

KATIMSKI: I suppose that’s one way to put it.

FOSTER: I see. (pause) And how would *you* put it, Mr. Katimski?

KATIMSKI: I believe Enrique used the term "escaped".

FOSTER: Yes, well. Neither you, nor Rickie himself, nor Ms. Krzyzanowski bothered to inform Child Services of his current whereabouts. He was listed as a runaway. That is why his entrance to Pride House has been delayed. They don’t admit unstable candidates to the house, teens who would disrupt the household, or who would run away again. I was with Ms. Krzyzanowski this afternoon when she called child services. Rickie is no longer on the waiting list for Pride House at all.

KATIMSKI: Wait a minute. That is the most backwards thing I have ever . . . Why didn’t child services do something about the fact that he was missing? Like come to school and *find* him? He’s been here every day, you know?

FOSTER: I do. His record since around the time he was assigned to the care facility has been exemplary. Although I now realize that has nothing to do with the care facility itself. As for the institutional inertia, well, the system is not a perfect one.

KATIMSKI: (angry now) You people seem really *fond* of pointing that out. What you don’t seem to be very good at is *doing* anything about it! That’s why people like me, and the Chases have to pick up the slack.

FOSTER: The Chases?

KATIMSKI: Yes. Rickie stayed with them for awhile too. Lots of people knew about that. Why didn’t anyone care about that?

FOSTER: I’m sure you can see the basic difference, Mr. Katimski. The Chases are obviously not . . .

KATIMSKI: (snapping) Gay? No they obviously are *not*!

FOSTER: Mr. Katimski, I was going to say "teachers in this district". (angry himself) Do not presume that because I am the person bringing you this news, that I am happy about it. I am not *unfamiliar* with prejudice myself. And I wouldn’t stand for it if I thought that’s what this were ultimately about. It may be Martha Stone’s motivation, but the board says, and I believe, that they would be just as concerned if you had a female student living under your roof.

KATIMSKI: (looks down) Maybe that’s true. Maybe not. What I *do* know is that the fact that Joseph and I are a *gay* couple has everything to do with why the School Board is so worried.

FOSTER: Perhaps. It certainly complicates things. Makes the picture worse for people looking in from the outside. It doesn’t help that Rickie himself is . . . *ambivalent*. Or that you seem to have some sort of *pet* name for him.

KATIMSKI: Enrique *is* his name. He likes me to call him that.

FOSTER: I am merely pointing out how this looks. How it *can* look in the hands of someone like Martha Stone.

KATIMSKI: Who *is* this woman?

FOSTER: I suggest you ask around. I shouldn’t think you will have to look far for answers. Mr. Katimski--Richard--I *must* urge you to resign, right now. It is really the only way the board sees for everyone to get out of this with some . . . dignity.

RICKIE: (VO) Persephone did not know what her abductor wanted from her. Finally, he showed her. His dark lips drank her tears as the fierce stallions thundered down the passage to Tartarus. But she was stubborn, this young goddess, and she refused to accept her captivity.

(Visual--Foster using his body language to subtly exert pressure and Katimski, deep in thought, clearly vacillating between two responses)

KATIMSKI: Dignity? You think quitting my job, for no real reason, for helping a student when no one else would, you think *that* lets me keep my dignity? You must be using some definition of the word "dignity" that I’ve been previously unaware of. And I’m a *language* teacher! So . . . no. I am *not* going to quit.

FOSTER: I’m sorry to hear that. (pause) But not really all that surprised. It is my duty to inform you that as of this moment, you are placed on suspension, pending review of this situation. (less formally) Richard, you are a good teacher, and an asset to this school. I urge you to reconsider your decision. If you force a hearing of any sort, the possibility of this remaining private is gone. (pointedly) There is more than yourself to consider.

KATIMSKI: Is that some sort of threat?

FOSTER: I can’t threaten you with things that I have no control over. Like the Board, or Mrs. Stone, or even the media. It’s a warning, Richard. If you are going to fight this, be prepared. Warn Joseph and young Rickie. You can’t protect them from this if it goes public. And get help. Friends. A lawyer. People on your side. You will *definitely* need them.

KATIMSKI: What about you? Are you a friend in this?

FOSTER: As I said Richard, you are an excellent teacher, and have created more enthusiasm about drama in this district than I have ever seen. I will point out these facts to anyone who will listen. . .


FOSTER: But it is the Board’s decision. Not mine. And just how interested do you think most people are going to be in *those* particular facts, when others of a more lurid nature come out?

KATIMSKI: I would guess . . . not very interested.

FOSTER: It is something to think about, Richard. A battle for battle’s sake won’t help anyone but Martha Stone.

KATIMSKI: I . . . I’ll think about what you’ve said. (he gets up to go)

FOSTER: Where are you going?

KATIMSKI: To the auditorium . . . to tell them.

FOSTER: I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.

KATIMSKI: But Enrique? How will he get home?

FOSTER: I’ll tell them to disperse. And I can send Rickie out to your car. But Richard, you should really think of getting Rickie to go to the care facility. I mean, they know where he is now, so he’s no longer listed as a runaway, but . . . (he throws up his hands) Or at least have him stay with someone else until this is over.

KATIMSKI: I can’t do that to Enrique.

FOSTER: Richard, this is your *life*, your livelihood that we are talking about here. At least think about it.

KATIMSKI: (grimly) I will.

--Early Evening

Katimski, Rickie and Joseph are seated around a small table. The mood is grim. Rickie looks frightened and guilty, and Joseph looks quietly angry.

KATIMSKI: (looking at the other two) So, that is the . . . situation.

RICKIE: (near tears) This is *my* fault. Because you helped me.

JOSEPH: Of course it’s not your fault, put that idea out of your head!

KATIMSKI: Joseph is right, Rickie. It’s just a bad situation. And we should have notified the shelter, I just, I mean . . . that was *my* fault more than anyone’s.

JOSEPH: Richard, laying blame won’t help anyone. We have to decide what to do.

RICKIE: We have to get help.

JOSEPH: He’s right. We need some advice. We need to know if they can do this to you. If they can fire you, or force you to quit.

RICKIE: (sniffles) I think I know someone who might be able to help.


Katimski and Joseph sit at the Chase dining table with Patty and Graham. Everyone has coffee.

KATIMSKI: Thank you again for speaking to us on such short notice.

PATTY: Of course.

GRAHAM: No problem.

PATTY: When Angela told us what happened, I just couldn’t believe it.

GRAHAM: Until we heard that Martha Stone was somehow involved.

KATIMSKI: Who is this woman, anyway?

PATTY: Well, she made a name for herself during the last school board election. She’s affiliated with some Christian Coalition-type groups. She entered the race at the last minute in a write-in campaign.

GRAHAM: Even so, she almost won a seat. This fall, she intends to try again. And this time she’s recruited several other candidates with the same views. It looks like they want to pack the board.

KATIMSKI: I hesitate to even ask . . . what are her views?

PATTY: (diplomatically) Well, she had a lot to say about curriculum issues. The types of things that are . . . (searches for a word) *suitable* for our kids. She was very concerned about any type of sex education.

GRAHAM: She also supported prayer in schools, but she hasn’t been talking much about that lately. She’s been relatively quiet, actually.

JOSEPH: Until now.

PATTY: (frowns) Yes. Until now. (looks at watch) Ethan should be here any minute. He said that he’d look into the issue and try to find out something about Martha Stone.

KATIMSKI: How do you know this man? I don’t think Enrique ever told us that.

PATTY: Actually, he’s a relative. He’s my brother.

KATIMSKI: I didn’t know you had a brother.

PATTY: (smiles briefly) That’s kind of complicated. He’s actually my half-brother. I didn’t even know him myself until recently.

JOSEPH: And he’s just a student?

PATTY: (nodding) Yes. But he graduates soon. He said he would try to find someone at school to help with the case, preferably a professor. (the doorbell rings, getting up) That’s probably him now.

As Patty goes to the door, Katimski looks off into space, and manages to look both scared and angry at the same time. He tries to pick up his coffee cup, but his hand is shaking so badly that he spills a little, and immediately sets it back down. Joseph quickly cleans up the mess with a napkin, and then takes Katimski’s hand, soothing him. Graham looks the other way and tries not to seem uncomfortable or rude. Patty reenters the room, with Ethan in tow. Ethan shakes hands with Katimski and Joseph and greets Graham warmly, if seriously.

KATIMSKI: Thank you for coming to see us.

ETHAN: It’s no problem. When Patty called me and told me about your situation, I knew right away that I could get someone to help, and I have. Professor Starson, one of the professors at the law school, does a lot of pro bono work in this area. And when I told her this story, she was so infuriated, that I knew she would help.

JOSEPH: That’s great. Is she . . . I mean . . .

ETHAN: (nodding slowly) Yes. She’s . . . *sympathetic* to your cause. She would be here herself, but she had a prior engagement, namely finishing writing her finals. She wants to meet with both of you tomorrow, at your convenience, but she wanted me to meet with you tonight, to get some of the background, so she will be up to speed tomorrow.

KATIMSKI: That’s wonderful. Thank you.

ETHAN: (looks concerned) Look, Mr. Katimski . . .

KATIMSKI: Call me Richard.

ETHAN: (smiles) Okay. Richard, I don’t want you to get your hopes up here. You are getting the best help you can find, but the research Professor Starson has done, and the information I’ve looked over today is not that encouraging.

GRAHAM: (a bit uncomfortable) I’m sorry to interrupt, but do you want me to put some more coffee on? It sounds like this may take awhile. Then Patty and I can get out of your hair.

ETHAN: Actually, if it’s all right with Richard and Joseph, I’d like you to stay. You two are familiar with Martha Stone, and though I’ve done some research, I want to know your personal impressions. More importantly, if this thing gets as big I Professor Starson thinks it will, we’re going to need some local residents to support Richard, particularly any that know him *and* Rickie.

KATIMSKI: Yes, by all means, stay. We need all the . . . help . . . we can get.

GRAHAM: Okay. I’ll just go put the coffee on. (exits)

ETHAN: (flipping pages on a yellow legal pad) Okay, from what I know about Martha Stone, it seems that her candidacy last year was sparked off by the fact that none of the other candidates were taking a hard enough line against sex education in the schools and the condom distribution program that was being talked about.

PATTY: That’s right. (Graham returns)

ETHAN: She received advice and a little money from the Coalition for Family Values, and that is no doubt where the idea to run probably came from as well. Groups like that are very effective at creating campaign packets for members to use when running for school boards, and the religious right has been quite successful at winning positions in school boards all across the country.

KATIMSKI: So then, this really has nothing to do with us, or Rickie at all? It’s just a way of getting publicity for the election?

ETHAN: I don’t know about that. Patty, does she seem insincere about her beliefs?

PATTY: (shaking her head) Not at all.

ETHAN: I think this just created a no-lose situation for her, that’s all. At worst, you could immediately cave or the Board could successfully fire you, and she gets the credit for bringing the "problem" to the attention of the district. At best, the current board will mishandle this, and she has even more reason to tout herself as just the kind of replacement this district needs. The board is going to a least look inattentive, and may end up looking, if you’ll pardon the expression, like they are allied with the devil himself.

KATIMSKI: (snorts, shakes head) So. I’m the devil now?

ETHAN: To these people, you’re that, and much worse. (sighs, rubs his eye under his glasses) You two are going to have to face some hostile accusations. This thing could get very ugly. Are you two both ready for this? Is Rickie?

RICKIE: I’m ready. (walks in from the front room)

JOSEPH: I thought you were upstairs with Angela?

RICKIE: I was. But this effects me too, and I want to help.

KATIMSKI: Of course . . . you’re right. What to do about this should be a group decision. (gesturing) The three of us. Of *course* it should.

ETHAN: Okay, so you think you’re ready for tough questions? (they nod) Fine. I have some questions that Professor Starson wanted answered. (looks at pad) What are the sleeping arrangements at the apartment?

KATIMSKI: (looks at Joseph) Rickie sleeps in the guest room.

ETHAN: And you and Joseph share a bed? (Katimski nods) And have either of you had any physical contact with Rickie?

JOSEPH: (angry, appalled) Certainly not!

ETHAN: Good.

JOSEPH: I can’t even believe you asked that!

ETHAN: Why? Do you honestly believe that the subject won’t come up? I think you’d better get used to talking about it. And what about you, Rickie? (Rickie squirms under Ethan’s scrutiny) (not nicely) Are you ready to answer questions about *your* sex-life?

RICKIE: (softly) I guess so.

ETHAN: Okay. (quick-fire barrage of questions) Are *you* a homosexual? Are you sexually active? Did you know that Mr. Katimski was gay *before* you chose to turn to him? Was that *why* you chose him?

Rickie looks dumbfounded and about to cry. Joseph jumps out of his seat, angrily.

JOSEPH: Now see here. This is not a game! This is not some little school project of yours! How dare you be so smug!

KATIMSKI: Joseph! Sit down. I think he did that on purpose. (to Ethan) Didn’t you?

ETHAN: (nodding) Yes. I *am* on your side. But I had to show you what this may be like, and I had to see how you would respond to those type of statements and questions. It might not be as bad as Professor Starson thinks, but if it is, you have to consider whether or not you still want to go through with it. (pause) Joseph, are you "out" at your job?

JOSEPH: (nods grimly, sits back down) Yes. They know.

ETHAN: Well at least *that’s* not a problem for you. What about you Rickie? Are you going to have a problem talking about your sexuality?

RICKIE: (softly) I don’t know. I guess not.

KATIMSKI: For goodness sake, he’s still a teenager! Why do they even need to ask about Enrique?

ETHAN: I don’t know that they will. But they might. We can try to shield him, but it’s better that the possible questions aren’t a surprise for anyone.

JOSEPH: How can they even do this at all?

ETHAN: No doubt if they try to fire Richard outright, it will be through the "Morals Clause" in his contract. This type of situation *could* fall under the rubric of "inappropriate student contact".

KATIMSKI: What does that even mean?

ETHAN: Different things in different towns. Teachers have been dismissed under that general theory for sexual contact with students, the use of corporal punishment, endangering students on field trips, or even having a party for students and allowing alcohol to be served. Under the more general morals clause, teachers have been fired for behavior that has nothing to do with students, such as producing pornographic videos--totally legally--in their spare time, or even for merely *appearing* on a videotape of that sort. And some have been fired simply for being homosexuals.

PATTY: And this is legal?

ETHAN: Unfortunately, yes. Some states or townships have specific statutes protecting homosexuals from discrimination in housing or in employment, but they are not the norm, and homosexuals don’t qualify as an identifiable or suspect class under the federal discrimination laws.

KATIMSKI: So they can get away with this?

ETHAN: (looks down) I’m afraid so, yes. Professor Starson wanted me to urge you to keep fighting however. She says that you have a very. . . *sympathetic* case.

JOSEPH: Ah. So that’s why she’ll help us for free. We’re a perfect little test case! And no matter if *we* win or lose, *she* gets a nice paper out of it, doesn’t she?

KATIMSKI: Joseph, please.

ETHAN: (shrugging) Nothing that you said is untrue. But trust me when I say that this is a battle she wants to win. She’s just not so unrealistic to think that she can win it the first time out. There has to be a litmus test. (simply) She wants you.

KATIMSKI: Well, I don’t want to resign. I need to work.

JOSEPH: (concerned) Richard, you know that it doesn’t matter to me if you work or not. My job is secure. I make a good living.

KATIMSKI: I know. (puts hand on Joseph’s leg) Thank you. But I didn’t say that I need the money, I said that I need to work--to teach.

JOSEPH: (nodding) Okay. I know. Just don’t worry about money.

KATIMSKI: I’m not. But what about insurance? Your company offers spousal benefits, but I can’t quite qualify for those, can I?

JOSEPH: (looks down) No. There was talk of adding a domestic partner clause, but there really wasn’t much demand. Even heterosexual couples who just live together generally have two incomes and two insurance plans these days.

KATIMSKI: Well, I’m not just going to roll over and quit to make it easy for them. (looking at Joseph and Rickie) I mean, not unless you two think . . . what *do* you two think about all this?

JOSEPH: It makes me angry. I don’t care what the Board says, if this were a husband and wife who were teachers and took Rickie in, this would *not* be an issue. (glares at Ethan) But I also don’t like the idea of being the puppet of some movement. I’m angry for *us*--not for some movement. I’m no crusader. Whatever you decide is fine with me. It is your job, after all.

KATIMSKI: Enrique? What about you?

RICKIE: I don’t know. (tearful) I just wish none of this ever happened. It’s all my fault. If only I hadn’t come to you. If only . . .

KATIMSKI: (puts a hand on Rickie’s shoulder) None of this is your fault. None of it.

RICKIE: No. You don’t know. I met with the people from child services once, and I told them that they didn’t have to keep me on the priority list for Pride House. That’s probably how they found out!

KATIMSKI: (gently) You never told me this. Why did you do that? I thought you were excited about Pride House?

RICKIE: I was, I mean, I *am*. It’s just, it’s just that I was having such a good time with you two. Like, the best I ever had. I thought I found somewhere where I finally fit in. (lengthy pause) For the first time in my life I felt like I found someplace where I, like, *belonged*, or something. I guess I didn’t want that to end. Not just yet.

The five adults regard Rickie with sympathy. Joseph and Katimski exchange a look and nod along in agreement, and Patty and Ethan glance at each other shyly. Patty smiles at Ethan broadly.

PATTY: (turning to Rickie) I think we all know how that feels.

RICKIE: I’m sorry I did that, Mr. Katimski, Joseph.

JOSEPH: Don’t be. We have no idea how they found out, and we probably never will, but it doesn’t matter. I think if they found out even after you went to Pride House, they still would have made an issue out of it. *They* have a larger agenda too. This Martha Stone person and her Coalition.

KATIMSKI: I just wish you had told me. Maybe there was something we could have done, petition for guardianship or something.

RICKIE: (sniffles) Well, I just want you to do whatever you can to keep your job. You’re a good teacher, Mr. Katimski. Besides, if you lose your job and the play is canceled because of me, (smiles) I think Rayanne would kill me. Literally. (pause) I wish there was a way I could stay with you, but I guess that’s not possible. I was talking with Angela, and we think it would be best if I moved out. At least for now.

KATIMSKI: Where would you go? Not back to that shelter? You hated that place.

GRAHAM: Well, Rickie is always welcome here.

RICKIE: Really?

PATTY: Of course. You were always welcome here. Just promise one thing.

RICKIE: Anything.

PATTY: Promise you’ll be a little more messy and surly to Graham and me once in a awhile. Danielle and Angela think you kind of . . . ruin the curve, or what have you.

RICKIE: (smiles) Sure. I’ll try to be more difficult.

ETHAN: (to Katimski) So you’re going to fight this thing?

KATIMSKI: It looks that way.

ETHAN: Okay. Just take some time to think about what your main objective here is, before you tell it to Professor Starson.

KATIMSKI: What do you mean? The objective is to keep my job.

ETHAN: Okay. But if that isn’t possible, you should consider about how you want to get out of this. I assume if it truly is hopeless, you’ll want to get out with as much decorum as possible, so you can still get another job in this area.

KATIMSKI: I suppose so.

JOSEPH: What about a settlement of some sort?

ETHAN: That really isn’t our call. You don’t have much to bargain with, (pause) accept for a promise to have Rickie move out for good. I don’t know if that’s what you want. If they make an offer then of course you should consider it, but they haven’t made any offer except to allow you out of your contract without penalty and let you bow out gracefully by quitting, rather than being terminated for cause. That’s something you can think about, but you have to remember that *they* have all the power here. We can only hope that they want to avoid publicity and grandstanding by Martha Stone as much as you do.

KATIMSKI: Do you think they will?

ETHAN: I have no idea. But I guess we’re going to find out, aren’t we?

RICKIE: (VO) When Persephone was abducted by Hades, there were no witnesses that came forward to inform her mother, Demeter. Demeter scoured the earth for signs of her daughter, but to no avail. Demeter went from town to town to enlist the aid of those who may know the fate of her daughter. Many of those Demeter questioned were eager to help in any way they could, but they had no news.

(Visual--quick shots of Katimski and Joseph speaking to Graham and Patty; Rickie eating supper with the Chases; Katimski and Joseph talking to Ethan and a thirty-something woman in a severe suit with short blond hair; and Rickie speaking with Delia, Angela and Rayanne in the washroom)

Black Screen-- "Five Days Later"


Rickie crosses the street to the Krakow’s house, the grass still wet with dew.

RICKIE: (VO) Demeter searched for Persephone, and the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. But Demeter would not rest, and searched everywhere for help.


Brian does not look better, but doesn’t look any worse, either. He is still ensconced in his sickness clothing and a bandanna. They sit in the living room.

BRIAN: I heard what’s happening, a little, from Angela. I’m really sorry.

RICKIE: (brave face) Thanks. That’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about.

BRIAN: (thinking aloud) I didn’t know that Mr. Katimski was . . . (embarrassed) I mean, I never would have guessed. (pause) So, you can just *tell*, or something? Y’know, when someone is, uhm, gay?

RICKIE: (outraged laugh) No. I didn’t know either, until I met Joseph.

BRIAN: (looks down) Oh. Sorry.

RICKIE: (kindly) Brian. It’s okay to talk about it. I mean, we’ve never really talked about it. If you have any questions?

BRIAN: (shaking head vehemently) No! No. It’s totally none of my business. (pause) I just hope that everything works out, you know, for Katimski. And you. You could have come to stay here, you know? I would have offered, but you were already at Angela’s, and I just thought you really needed her more right now.

RICKIE: I guess I do. But thank you. I’m sure Mr. Katimski would thank you too.

BRIAN: It’s no problem. (pause) He’s a good teacher. He actually *challenges* me.

RICKIE: Actually, I’m glad to hear you say that, because I was kind of hoping you could do me a favor and say something like that at the hearing tonight.

BRIAN: Tonight?

RICKIE: Yes. That lawyer that Angela’s Uncle knows, Ms. Starson, thinks the Board wants to just stall this out until the school year is over without coming to any decision and just not renew Mr. Katimski’s contract next year. She thinks we have the best chance if things happen quickly.

BRIAN: But why would you want *me* to speak?

RICKIE: You know me, and you have Mr. Katimski, and you like us both, right?

BRIAN: Sure. Of course.

RICKIE: And I know you can stand up to adults. They, like, listen to you.

BRIAN: What do you mean?

RICKIE: (looks down) Well, you’re really smart, and you can speak on their level. And you’re not afraid of adults.

BRIAN: (incredulous) Yes, I am!

RICKIE: Listen Brian, I know we don’t talk about it, and it’s better that we don’t, but you *lied* for me, about the gun, and I know Foster was pressuring you, and I know I never officially thanked you, but this isn’t like that. You *don’t* have to lie.

BRIAN: (frowns, pleading voice) Rickie, I don’t even know what I’d say. I haven’t been to class in almost two months, and I’ve only met with Katimski about working at home once. I hardly ever go out. I’ve just been in here for the last few weeks.

RICKIE: (slowly, carefully) I know. We’ve, like, noticed. Amber says that you probably could have started coming back to school, at least a little each day, a week or two ago. We’ve been kind of worried that you’re just shutting the world away.

BRIAN: (getting angry) What? Who are you talking about me with? And why would you listen to anything that *Amber* woman says? She’s not even a doctor, she’s just an x-ray technician.

RICKIE: (softly, hurt) Not everyone in the world has multiple degrees, Brian. That doesn’t mean that they don’t *know* anything. And Amber is just concerned about you because Rayanne is.

BRIAN: (scoffing) Rayanne barely cares about herself, much less anyone else.

RICKIE: That’s not true. She told me what happened that night during spring break. What you said. She’s worried about you, Brian. We all are. And you don’t have to be a doctor to know that depression and anger are perfectly natural reactions to cancer. We *know* that. We just don’t think it’s healthy for you to keep it bottled up inside all the time. Maybe you should ask your doctor about that. Or your parents. (pause, pointedly) *If* they were ever home.

BRIAN: (angry, tearful) Don’t you dare say anything about that! At least *my* parents didn’t leave me without a place to live!

RICKIE: (nodding) You have a roof over your head, that’s true. But having a house doesn’t mean that you have a home. Nobody knows that better than I do. Nobody.

BRIAN: (relenting, seems tired) Okay. Fine. Let’s not fight, okay? Please?

RICKIE: I didn’t think we were. We’re just talking.

BRIAN: (sighs) Look Rickie, I’m sorry that I yelled at Rayanne. And I’m sorry that I yelled at you just now. And I know I’m letting you down, but I . . . (looks down) I just don’t think I’m feeling well enough to come to the hearing tonight.

RICKIE: (stung, but covering it) Okay. That’s okay. Getting well should be your first priority. I just thought I’d ask.

BRIAN: Maybe you could get Angela to do it?

RICKIE: I think they want Mrs. Chase to speak. Two people from the same family is too much. At least that’s what the lawyers say.

BRIAN: Would it help if I wrote a letter, or something?

RICKIE: No. That’s okay. We were just hoping for some testimonials in case the other side has some. It’s no big deal. Listen, I should go. I’ll miss the bus.

BRIAN: Okay. I’m really sorry.

RICKIE: (softly, as he exits) It’s no problem.

RICKIE: (VO) As time wore on, fewer and fewer people had time to help Demeter in her search for her daughter, Persephone. Persephone did not give in to Hades, however. She did not speak to him, refused to eat, and regarded her captor only with loathing. Hades showered Persephone with gifts, tempted her with foods that rivaled ambrosia, and tried to entertain her with the finest artists the world had to offer. Still, Persephone did not give in. She refused to eat or speak.

(Visual--Quick shots of Rickie meeting Angela on the street and getting on the bus looking depressed; Katimski having some heated words with Ethan and Starson.)


Sharon enters the bathroom. Though still dressed in pink, she looks drab and lifeless, and she does not smile. Sharon goes to the sink and starts to absently wash her hands. One of the stall doors opens, and Rayanne comes into view.


SHARON: (looking like she wants to leave, but knowing she can’t do so now) Hi.

RAYANNE: For someone so fond of the phone, you’ve been remarkably hard to reach, lately. Are you doin’ okay?

SHARON: (looks down) I’m fine. I’ve really got to go.

RAYANNE: (jumping in front of her) Not so fast, Cherski. I know you said you needed some time alone, and I’ve gotten everyone to give you some space, even though you won’t *tell* anyone what happened. But you’re not the only one with problems around here. With what’s happening with Katimski, I’m going crazy.

SHARON: What do you mean?

RAYANNE: I mean, I’m trying to support Rickie and help him in any way I can, but all I can think about, and I know this is horrible, is what will happen if Katimski loses. What about the play? And when I think about that, I just get more depressed and want to get wasted. And it would help if I had someone to talk to about it, but everyone is focused on Rickie and Katimski--and they *should* be, but Ms. Krzyzanowski was supposed to find out about some support groups, but she is totally busy on this Katimski thing. And I don’t know what to do.

SHARON: (softly) Rayanne, I’m sorry. But I just can’t talk to you about this. I can’t, like, *be* what keeps you afloat right now. Because it’s what happens when weak swimmers try to save someone who’s, like, drowning. And I’m barely making it myself . . . barely treading water. (pause) I’m sorry.

RAYANNE: (nodding) Okay. Fine. But give me a name. Who *could* help me?

SHARON: Well, if you want information about groups, I bet Mrs. Krakow could help you. She’s a therapist. Just ask Brian to find out something for you.

RAYANNE: Brian and I really aren’t on speaking terms.

SHARON: Well, just stop worrying about your reputation and ask him for help.

RAYANNE: Actually, Brian isn’t talking to *me*. Not the other way around.


RAYANNE: That’s a long story. Can’t you think of *anyone* else?

SHARON: Well, for most of those groups, you get a sponsor, and your Mom really can’t do it for you, because she’s going through the same thing herself. You need someone who has been successful at quitting.

RAYANNE: Okay. Do you know anyone?

SHARON: Well, that new Uncle of Angela’s? He’s pretty young, and he doesn’t mind talking to Angela’s friends. He talked to me, about . . . you know--but he doesn’t know why. I mean, he thought we were talking, like, hypothetically. And my Mom says that he doesn’t drink anymore. Maybe you could talk to him.

RAYANNE: I guess. He’ll be there tonight. At the hearing. Are you coming?

SHARON: No. I just can’t. Please tell Rickie that I’m sorry, and that I’m thinking of him and Mr. Katimski, but I’m just not ready for that. I’m sorry.

RAYANNE: Don’t be. I understand. (pause) Well, actually, I don’t *understand*, but I guess I can make excuses for you. (as Sharon brushes past her to exit, softly) Sharon, why are you doin’ this to yourself?

SHARON: (stops by the door) What do you mean?

RAYANNE: I don’t get this. What you did, it was the *best* decision. And I’ve been there for you, as much as you’ll let me, and I know everyone else would be too, if you would just talk to them. And your parents aren’t giving you any grief. So why? Why all this, I don’t know, *exile* from life?

SHARON: (pause, thinking, she speaks slowly) It would almost be better, if someone just punished me for what I did. I could just face the consequences, and get it over with. Except there don’t seem to *be* any consequences. And *that* . . . feels wrong, somehow. So I guess that maybe . . . maybe *I* have to do it. Punish myself. Maybe I’m the only one who can, and if I do, maybe these *feelings* will finally go away . . .

Sharon trails off and exits on that line, leaving Rayanne staring at the bathroom door, confusion and concern etched into her face.


There is a knock at the door. Brian goes to it and opens it. Angela stands there, looking angry, with a book-bag in hand.

ANGELA: (stepping right past him) Hey. I brought your homework. (without fanfare, staring at Brian, she lets the bag drop with a "plunk")

BRIAN: (a little perplexed) Thanks. Is everything all right?

ANGELA: No. Everything is *not* all right (torn) But I have to treat you with these kid gloves, because it doesn’t feel right to yell at you when you’re sick.

BRIAN: (recoils a bit) Why would you . . .I mean, what did I do now?

ANGELA: (pacing) Rickie told me that he came to you, for, like, help. And you said "no". That’s so unlike you. (wheeling to face him) Helping people is, like, what you *live* for. So, why won’t you come to the hearing and help Rickie?

BRIAN: (looks embarrassed and ashamed, turns away) I just can’t.

ANGELA: But why? Do you agree with the board, or something? Do you think it’s *wrong* for Rickie to live at Katimski’s?

BRIAN: (quietly, shaking head) No, it’s not that.

ANGELA: (doesn’t believe his denial) Because it’s *not*. Rickie told me that he finally feels like he has a family of his own. A *home*.

BRIAN: I know. It’s not about that, Angela.

ANGELA: Then what is it? You are Rickie’s friend, right?

BRIAN: (losing patience) *Yes*! God, what do you even think I could do? Do you really think my presence at this hearing will have any *effect*? Do you think I’ll be able to change people’s minds?

ANGELA: I think . . . that people are going to believe what they *want* to believe.

BRIAN: At least *you* realize it. (pause) Nothing *I* can do will save Katimski’s job.

ANGELA: Even if that’s true, you will still have *some* effect. At least on Rickie. He believes in you, and he’s your *friend*, and he needs you. That should be reason enough. If you really care about him at all.

BRIAN: (looks down) I do.

ANGELA: (coldly) Then prove it. Show up at the hearing and say something.

BRIAN: (looks terrified at the prospect, his hand unconsciously goes up to his bandanna-covered head) I’m not ready yet. (pause) To face everybody.

ANGELA: (shakes her head, looks disgusted by him) I thought you were being so strong, and so brave, ever since you got sick. I, like, *admired* you. I should have known that when trouble doesn’t directly affect *you*, that you’re still just a coward. (pause) Like you always have been.

Angela turns away from him, just as his face crumbles into a hurt expression. She simply walks out, slamming the door behind her. Brian winces at the sound.


Katimski and Joseph walk alongside Ethan and the short-haired blonde we saw briefly earlier, Ms. Starson. They are all dressed conservatively and Ethan and Starson carry briefcases. There are a couple of television camera crews outside the main door to the School District’s Administration building. As the group walks by, reporters accost them and stick lights and microphones out at them.

REPORTER1: Mr. Katimski, what do you think of Martha Stone?

STARSON: (cuts off Katimski with a look) My client has no comment on Mrs. Stone at this time.

REPORTER2: Your client? Does this mean that you’re suing the school district?

STARSON: (looks disappointed) No. We are not. My client is just eager to get this cleared up and get back to work as soon as possible. If you’ll excuse us, we cannot be late. Perhaps there will be time *after* the hearing for us to make some sort of statement to the press.

With that, the foursome pushes through the throng of reporters, who all clamor at them for a moment, some shouting out questions.


The meeting room, where the School Board regularly meets, is not that large. There is a big oblong table in the middle where the School Board members, the superintendent and other administrators are sitting. The Board and District personnel are unremarkable aside from the fact that they are uniformly middle-aged and white, but of both sexes. An extra chair is alongside the table, and Principal Foster sits there, his face impassive. There are two smaller tables facing the Board’s table, and both are empty. There are chairs set behind the tables, and a miked podium on each side, presumably for audience questions or comments. The seats are full, and people stand along the makeshift aisles. A close up of the Board President, a trim, middle-aged balding man, reveals surprise and a little bit of fear at the sheer number of people that have turned out. In the front seats, there are some print journalists. As the foursome enters, most of the audience turns in their seats to look at them. Amongst the faces in the crowd, we can see mostly parents, but also some students. Recognizable faces include Ms. Krzyzanowski, Ms. Lerner (the geometry teacher), Delia, Corey, Abyssinia, and some other play participants. Rayanne is off to one side, standing in the aisle, with Amber. As the foursome walk up the aisle, near the front, seated, are Patty, Angela, and Rickie himself. Some secretarial-type person approaches the foursome and directs them to the table on the Board’s left, in front of the Chases. In the seats behind the table on the Board’s right is an attractive woman of indeterminate middle-age. Her hair is prematurely gray, and she has a smiling and open face. A close-up reveals that she is surrounded by parents with buttons that say: "Martha Stone for School Board," and they gather around her in a deferential way that makes it obvious that *she* is Martha Stone. Ethan, Starson, Katimski and Joseph take their seats at the table to the Board’s left.

STARSON: (standing to address the Board) Ladies and Gentlemen, should we begin?

PREZ: Actually, Ms. Starson, we’re still waiting for the District’s counsel to arrive.

STARSON: (smiling politely) Of course. (she sits)

MARTHA: (standing abruptly) Surely the Board can *begin* the meeting and hear from these concerned parents without an attorney present, can’t you? You *are* going to give your constituents a chance to be heard, aren’t you?

The President looks more than just a little annoyed. A shot of Joseph reveals that he is giving Martha Stone the evil eye.

ETHAN: (noticing Joseph’s animosity) We knew she would do this. She’s good at forcing people to give her the chance to talk. If the Board says no, they look bad.

PREZ: (sighing, glancing at other Board members) Of course there will be some time for parents to voice their concerns and opinions. But let me remind you, Mrs. Stone, that this is a *special* meeting with a very specific agenda. We won’t have time for any . . . new business tonight.

Martha smiles, nods and sits. The President looks pleased, as if he has successfully avoided some potential problem. A harried man in a suit trots up the aisle and seats himself at the table on the Board’s right.

PREZ: (smiling) The question has become moot, anyway, as I see that our counsel has arrived. (pause) All right, then. I call this meeting of the Three Rivers School Board to order. I thank all of the Board and administration for making themselves available on such short notice. I first move that we postpone the reading and qualifying of the last meetings’ minutes until our next regular meeting.

MEMBER1: (female) I second that.

PREZ: All in favor? (a chorus of "ayes" is sounded) Opposed? (silence) Motion passed. We all know why we are here tonight, to evaluate the suspension and continued employment of a teacher at Liberty High School. He has challenged that suspension and would like a chance to speak. (motioning) Ms. Starson?

STARSON: (standing) Thank you. My client, Richard Katimski, was properly suspended with pay from his teaching duties according to procedure, pending the review of an admittedly unusual situation involving a student. However, our contention is that the review of this situation reveals no reason to continue the suspension or any basis for action against my client. The student in question was separated from his guardians by . . . circumstances beyond his control. Eventually the student revealed this fact to my client, who properly followed the rules concerning such problems and accompanied the student to the guidance office to obtain help. At this point, my client could have abandoned the student to the whims of the system, and admits with some shame that he almost did just that. However, when the student left institutional care, and showed up at my client’s apartment, terrified, homeless and alone, my client did what any feeling person would do, and took the student in. To turn the student away could have resulted in possible liability for my client if anything had happened to the student; and more importantly, would have gone against every inclination of charity, kindness, and compassion that made my client originally choose teaching as a profession.

Some of the crowd murmurs and nods at this. The Board is unreadable.

STARSON: No one faults the Board for looking into this matter, especially since incidence of true homelessness in this particular community is relatively small. However, any examination of my client’s actions only reveals that he provided a student in need with a place to stay and food to eat at his own expense. There is no question of intentional interference with the student’s familial relations, for the student’s guardians have moved and cannot be found--not even by the state. I assert that my client’s actions are worthy of praise, not censure, and urge the Board to reinstate him. Immediately. (there is some applause and she looks triumphant)


Danielle and Graham sit together on the couch, apparently watching TV.

DANIELLE: (turning to face Graham) Dad, can I ask you something?

GRAHAM: (pressing the remote to mute the TV) Sure. What?

DANIELLE: It’s about being homosexual.

GRAHAM: (looks alarmed, but manages to choke out) Okay. What about it?

DANIELLE: Well, I know that Angela’s teacher is gay, and that other man that came here with him is too, and that they live together. How come they aren’t married?

GRAHAM: Well, (thinking) I think it’s because marriage has always been sort of defined by the fact that it included a man *and* a woman. And because of that, homosexual people can’t get married.

DANIELLE: But they can live together, like Uncle Neil and Marla?

GRAHAM: (nodding) Exactly.

DANIELLE: But which one is the wife? Which one does the cooking and the cleaning and which one makes the most money?

GRAHAM: (frowning) I’m pretty sure that they don’t make distinctions like that, Danielle. They probably just both do . . . whatever it is they’re comfortable doing. Or they share the work. Like partners in a business. (sighs) Do you understand?

DANIELLE: (nodding) Sure. Kind of like you and Mom.

GRAHAM: How do you mean?

DANIELLE: (shrugs) Most of my friends say that their Mom does most of the cooking and their Dad makes the most money. (seriously) They all know it’s different at *our* house. If Mom cooked, (rolls eyes) I’m pretty sure we’d all starve.

GRAHAM: (smiling) Your Mother and I each try to do what we’re best at, not just what’s . . . *expected* of us. I’m sure it’s the same for Mr. Katimski and Joseph.

DANIELLE: (confused or concerned) Well . . . then why are people so *mad* at Mr. Katimski, if he’s so much like you?

GRAHAM: (reaching an arm around her protectively) I just don’t know, honey.


RICKIE: (VO) Demeter continued her search for Persephone, and finally, in Eleusis, she heard the birds gossiping. Piecing together their chirps, she realized that it was her own brother, Hades, who had taken her daughter. She went to Zeus, king of the gods, looking for swift justice, but Hades had bribed Zeus, and Zeus informed Demeter that Hades wished to marry Persephone, and that Zeus intended to let them be wed. Demeter refused to accept Zeus’ judgment, and in her rage brought famine to the earth. She would not tend to the crops, and so the earth became parched, and crops failed and livestock died. Hunger stalked the land of man, and death stalked close behind.

(Visual--Shots of Rickie watching Starson speaking, and fielding questions from the Board. The Board is still mostly unreadable, but one or two of them are frowning at Starson. The crowd whispers back and forth. Rickie looks on nervously.)

PREZ: (looking around the table) Are there any more questions for Ms. Starson? (no response) All right, then. (squaring his shoulders) I suppose now would be the appropriate time to open the floor--*briefly*--for comments from others.

MARTHA: (standing up instantly, moving to podium) Thank you. With all due respect to (pronounces it "Miz") Ms. Starson, I don’t think she ever really hit on the issue here. The issue is not whether or not this student needed someplace to stay, or if Mr. Katimski followed *procedure* in helping the student. The issue is much more fundamental than that: the issue is whether Mr. Katimski is fit to teach in this district at all. And it is clear from his appearance here tonight flanked by his homosexual lover, that he does not intend to deny his homosexuality.

Joseph and Katimski look at each other. Joseph then looks at Martha with obvious loathing, and shuffles in his seat, as if to get up and respond. Starson puts a hand on Joseph’s knee, to indicate that he should control himself. He does, reluctantly.

MARTHA: And regardless of the *extent* of Katimski’s contact with students, it is clear that he does have *some* contact, from his work in the classroom and after school activities, to having meetings for students in his apartment. And apparently, that contact includes taking in students who run away from state sponsored facilities. I think that qualifies quite easily as inappropriate student contact, but even without that, all teachers in this district are subject to morals clauses in their contracts. Mr. Katimski is clearly in violation of that, has been for quite some time, and does not seem to intend to change his deviant behavior.

Katimski looks startled at Martha’s direct assault. Patty stands, and tossing Martha an irritated and incredulous look, moves to the opposite podium.

PATTY: I’m sorry, but isn’t the whole point of a morals clause to ensure we have teachers that are good role models for our kids? Richard Katimski showed *better* morals than the clause requires, not less. He stepped in to help someone, a child, in need, who no one else volunteered to help. Now, our family knows Rickie, and I’m ashamed to say that we did *not* do all we could to make sure that he was all right. Mr. Katimski did. What *better* example is there?

MARTHA: No one is denying that helping homeless children is a good thing. And I am *not* saying that Mr. Katimski’s motives in taking in this young *boy* are at all suspect. I am merely saying that it is still an open question of whether or not we are going to allow homosexuals to teach our children. That is not something that I feel comfortable with. Mr. Katimski is simply not an appropriate role model. (general murmuring of agreement from some of the crowd)

PATTY: What gives *you* the right to decide that for everyone? (Patty receives a smattering of applause as she sits down)

MARTHA: (superior) I am certainly not the only one who feels that way. (she turns to the crowd and motions someone forward) This is one of his students. Belinda? Go ahead, dear.

BELINDA: (the same girl we saw briefly in the last episode and in several crowd scenes amongst those in the play) I’ve been to Mr. Katimski’s apartment. We were sort of required to go there, for some meetings about the play. And sometimes his . . . *friend* was there, too. Seeing them . . . *together* made me really uncomfortable and I wanted to quit drama club, but my Mom said I had to honor my commitment. So I will. But I’m definitely not going to join again next year.

Katimski looks crushed by this. He looks down, almost as if in defeat. It is clear he did not know he had this effect on anyone.

MARTHA: I am certain that Mr. Katimski never *intentionally* meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable. But if Mr. Katimski was not aware of how he was making students feel with his homosexuality, isn’t it also possible he is having other. . .*influences* on our children that he doesn’t intend or even know about? Is that something we should risk with our impressionable children?

Many of the parents murmur, echoing Martha’s concerns, a few shake their heads in disagreement. From the back of the room, someone shouts, "Yes!" and everyone turns to see who is shouting. It is Brian, dressed up and with bandanna firmly in place, looking gaunt and pale, walking up the aisle to the podium Patty used. As he passes the Chase contingent, Patty looks surprised, Angela looks shocked, and Rickie smiles at Brian, with tears in his eyes. Brian nods at him.

BRIAN: All you’ve shown is that Mr. Katimski makes one student feel uncomfortable. Lots of my teachers make me feel uncomfortable. In fact, most of them do. That’s no reason to fire any of them. If Belinda was uncomfortable because a teacher was black, or a woman, we *wouldn’t* be having this discussion.

MARTHA: Young man, you cannot compare race with sexual orientation. We have no choice in the matter of our race.

BRIAN: Actually, the research *I’ve* read suggests that we don’t have any choice in the matter of our sexuality either. (pause) But let’s assume that you’re right, and that sexuality *is* a choice. Does that mean it would be okay to fire Mr. Katimski for being Jewish? Because religion is a choice, isn’t it? Didn’t you yourself choose a new faith when you were born again?

MARTHA: (flustered, unable to attack a child) Yes, but . . .

BRIAN: But nothing. I think that *you* are focusing on the wrong thing. I have Mr. Katimski for English, and I *never* knew anything about his personal life at all, before this week. I never got any of these signals that you’re so worried about. All I knew about Mr. Katimski was that he was a great teacher. He made learning exciting. And he knew how to talk *to* us, not *at* us. And he never treated us like we were a chore, or we were something to do until it was time to get in some coaching, like *some* teachers I could mention. I don’t care what he does at home, and I don’t understand why anyone else should either.

At that point, Brian loses steam, and steps away from the podium, towards the back of the room. There is some general agreement and applause from the room. As Brian returns to the back, Angela tries to catch his eye and smile at him, but he will not look at her. She turns in her seat to watch him go and overhears the couple behind her.

PARENT1: (to his wife) Why should we even listen to him? For one thing, he’s a kid, and for another, he’s obviously one of *them*. It looks like he already has AIDS.

Angela frowns, as the man shakes his head in disgust and the woman nods.

ANGELA: (VO) I wanted to say something to those people, about how wrong they were. I wanted to shake them and say that Brian is *not* gay and that he has leukemia, not AIDS, and watch their faces turn all ashamed and guilty. But I couldn’t say that Brian wasn’t gay without, like, endorsing the idea that if he was, they shouldn’t listen to him. And if I said something to them, it would be like confirming for them that being gay *is* a bad thing, and that I thought that too. (turns around) So I just turned around and ignored them, and didn’t say anything.

Martha Stone reluctantly moves away from the podium, but another parent, a man wearing one of her buttons, quickly takes up the vacated position.

PARENT2: That young man had a decent point, but I think we *have* to care about Mr. Katimski’s personal life because of the effect he is having on our children.

From the crowd, someone shouts out "What effect?"

PARENT2: (hedging) Well, I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard that the student that Katimski took in has exhibited sexual confusion since living there. Apparently Mr. Katimski gave him more than a roof and three squares. He also gave him ideas.

The crowd, somewhat riled up by the obviously planned performance-like words of Martha, Patty, and Brian, sort of rumbles into a cacophony of sound. It is obvious that even the semblance of control has disappeared, with people standing in the audience and shouting things out, and small arguments breaking out. A shot of Katimski and Joseph reveals them to be shocked by the stridency of the crowd, even their supporters. Ethan looks as if he fears that violence could break out, but Starson allows herself a small smile. The President begins to slap his hand against the table and call loudly for order.

RICKIE: (VO) Finally, the famine forced Zeus to yield, and he told Demeter that Persephone would be returned to her as long as she had eaten nothing in her sojourn to the underworld. But if Persephone had accepted food, then she must be considered a guest and not a captive, and remain as Hades’ bride. Fleet-footed Hermes was dispatched on his winged sandals to retrieve Persephone. Before Hermes could reach the underworld with news of Zeus’ decision, treacherous Hades told Persephone that since she had resisted this long, that he had decided to let her go. As a peace offering, he said, he offered Persephone a succulent pomegranate, and starved and thirsty, she ate six of the juicy red seeds. Just then, she heard Hermes heralding cry and saw him swoop forth to save her, but too late. Hades had already sped to Olympus and claimed Persephone as his bride.

(Visual--As Rickie’s voice-over continues to relate the Myth of the Seasons, a close-up of him reveals someone who is torn and nervous. As the President continues to pound on the table, calling for order, Rickie looks at the havoc all around him, and frowns, and slowly stands up. Angela and Patty turn to look at him with concern, but he does not notice them. He moves into the aisle and to the podium on the left. Katimski notices this and looks at him questioningly. When Starson notices him, her expression is more one of alarm.)

RICKIE: (softly, leaning meekly into the microphone) Excuse me?

The crowd does not quiet down very much

RICKIE: (loudly, using the mike) Stop it!

The crowd finally quiets down, and people retake their seats. Parent2 keeps his place near the other podium, regarding Rickie with unabashed curiosity.

RICKIE: (softly again) Thank you. (looking at the President) Can I say something?

PREZ: (sitting down again, he clearly knows who Rickie is) By all means.

RICKIE: Thank you. I wasn’t supposed to say anything tonight. Mr. Katimski was really concerned about maintaining as much . . . anonymity . . . for me as possible. But I can’t sit here and listen to people say things about him, or me. (looks directly at Parent2) I am not sexually *confused*. I am gay. And I have been for as long as I can remember. Years before I had even met Mr. Katimski. (pause, looks down) In fact, that’s why my parents used to . . . hit me . . . and it’s probably why they left me. I don’t know. But Mr. Katimski didn’t give me any ideas or anything like that. (pause) Except for the idea that it wasn’t my fault that my parents, like . . . *hated* me. I guess he gave me that. And a place to call home where I wouldn’t have to be afraid, like, *all* the time. He and Joseph gave me that too. I just don’t understand why all you people seem to want to take it away.

PARENT2: (not without sympathy) You have to understand that we’re concerned about your welfare. We’re doing this to *protect* you. Homosexuals are often promiscuous and predatory towards young men . . .

RICKIE: (frowning, angry) That’s not true! (pause, shakes head slowly) That’s just-- that’s just a *myth*. But it seems like all you people want to keep believing the myths, no matter how much evidence there is against them. You don’t want to know what Mr. Katimski and Joseph are really like, because it would remind you too much of yourselves. (smiles) If you saw how excited they were on their anniversary, or how after dinner they help me with my homework, then you’d know that they have the exact same hopes, dreams, and goals as any other family. (his face hardens) But none of you wants to see homosexuals as doting mothers or fathers, or as devoted husbands and wives, because then it would be harder to hate them. And that’s what you really want, whether you’ll admit it or not. It’s easier to hate someone if you truly believe that they are nothing like you. Well, Mr. Katimski and Joseph are more like parents to me than my *real* parents ever were. (smiles again) And I *deserve* that. I *know* that now. That’s another thing that Mr. Katimski taught me. I just hope he has the chance to teach more kids. Because he’s good at it. And I hate to think that he may lose his job because of me.

Rickie looks around at everyone. Many of the people allied with Martha Stone against Mr. Katimski cannot look him in the eye. Parent2 looks thoughtful and returns to his seat. Obviously, not everyone is swayed, but at least everyone does remain silent. Rayanne and Amber smile at Rickie and Rayanne gives him a quick thumbs up. Rickie turns further and sees that Patty is nodding at him. Angela is teary eyed and looks at him with respect and love, while far behind her Brian’s expression is virtually identical. Seeing them, Rickie allows himself a smile. Then Rickie turns to look at Katimski’s table. Starson and Ethan are quietly conferring over a legal pad. Katimski looks at Rickie with obvious thanks, tears in his eyes, and Joseph nods at Rickie, his hand on Katimski’s knee. Turning a little more, Rickie sees the Board looking at him expectantly, as if waiting for more.

RICKIE: (sheepish) That’s really all I had to say. (he moves to sit down)

PREZ: (standing, looking around at the Board) All right. I think that we’ve heard enough. I move that we adjourn with Mr. Katimski to executive session to conclude this matter.

MEMBER1: (piping up again) I’ll second that.

MARTHA: (jumping up) You’re going into executive session with this? What about the Open Meetings Act?

PREZ: (a bit snidely) I’m sure someone as familiar with the Act as you are, Martha, would remember that this type of private personnel decision is part and parcel of executive sessions. After announcing what we were meeting about we could have immediately gone into executive session with counsel and the employee in question. The *only* reason we did not was due to Mr. *Katimski’s* insistence that we hear his defense in public and allow people time to respond. (dismissively) Which we did.

Martha, glaring, sits back down as Professor Starson stands up.

STARSON: We’d like to request that my assistant and Mr. Katimski’s companion be allowed to accompany us into the closed session.

PREZ: Of course. Prior to the (glares at Martha) interruption, we were about to vote on whether to adjourn to executive session. All those in favor? (a chorus of "ayes") All opposed? (silence) Motion carried.

The Board stands and moves towards the door at the back of the room. The District’s counsel, sitting all this time at the table on the right, rises and accompanies them, as do Ethan, Starson, Katimski, and Joseph. After they all enter the back room, a secretarial-type shuts the door. Most of the crowd stands, some to leave, most just to stretch their legs. Rickie remains seated, staring, with worry, at the closed door. Rickie feels Angela touch his arm and breaks out of his reverie.

ANGELA: Rickie? I asked if you were okay?

RICKIE: (getting up, quick smile) I’m fine.

ANGELA: (still teary-eyed) You were great. I thought you lost your voice when you got nervous.

RICKIE: I guess I was too mad, or something, to be nervous.

ANGELA: I guess so. (smiles) Anyway, you were wonderful. (she hugs him)

RICKIE: (still in the embrace) Thanks. I just hope it helped.

PATTY: (touching his shoulder) I’m sure it did.

RICKIE: (lets Angela go, wipes his eyes) You helped too, Mrs. Chase. Thanks.

PATTY: I only told the truth, Rickie. (concerned) Rickie, Mr. Chase and I just want you to know that now matter what happens, you always have another home to come to. Ours. You will *always* be welcome there. I’m afraid we didn’t make that clear enough the last time, so I want to be very clear now. I was so proud of the way you handled yourself tonight, and when I tell Graham, I’m sure he will be too.

RICKIE: (smiles, softly) Thanks.

Delia bounds up to Rickie and squishes him in a tight hug. Angela smiles as Rickie overreacts, like he cannot breathe.

RICKIE: Okay, Delia, I get the hint!

DELIA: (giggles, lets go) You were *amazing*! Like Matlock or something!

RICKIE: (can’t help but smile) I do *not* think the world is ready for an ethnic, gay Matlock, but thanks, I guess.

Rayanne and Amber come up to the group, and Rayanne has Corey in tow, but is trying hard not to look like she does. Amber hangs back, and just sort of glares at Patty. Rayanne quietly insinuates herself near Angela.

RAYANNE: (shrugging) I bet Cherski is going to be mad she missed this.

ANGELA: Probably. Where is she anyway? It’s like she’s been avoiding me. Ever since you and I made up. Is she mad at me or something?

RAYANNE: (shakes her head) I don’t think so. She *wanted* us to make up. I just think something’s going on with her. She’s avoiding everybody. Maybe *you* should try to find out what’s wrong.

ANGELA: What about you?

RAYANNE: We’re friends and all, but sometimes you really need to connect with someone who you have, like . . . a *history* with, or something. I just think she needs *you* more than me right now.

ANGELA: (nods slowly) (VO) I felt really small at that moment. Because I *really* wanted that to be true. I mean, I had totally accepted the fact that Rayanne and Sharon were friends now too, and in a way it was kind of great, but in a way, I missed them, like, competing for my attention. It’s sort of disheartening to, like, *recognize* just how self-obsessed you are. Especially when you’ve accused someone else of being the most selfish, cowardly person on the earth. (she looks over towards the front door, and sees Brian just sort of lingering there) Because then you have to admit that you’re in direct competition for that title yourself.

Patty goes over to where Amber is standing.

AMBER: I know. You’re "Patty, Angela’s Mom." (rolls her eyes) I know.

PATTY: Hi Amber. I know that last time we . . . talked it didn’t go very well.

AMBER: (sarcastic) Hmm, I remember some accusations and insults, but not a whole lot of talking. Maybe *that’s* why it didn’t go so well.

PATTY: (eating crow) I know. You’re right. That’s why I wanted to come over and tell you how great I think it is that you’re going on the wagon with Rayanne.

AMBER: Oh, thank goodness. Because that’s *why* I did it. To gain *your* approval.

PATTY: (flustered) No. I just mean that I really admire that. (no response) I just mean that it really shows me . . . how . . . *wrong* I was before. Because I was wrong about you, and Rayanne, and I just wanted to apologize for butting in.

AMBER: (grudgingly) Really? Well, I have to say that I really admired what you did for Rickie tonight. Raynie and I thought about saying something, but she pointed out that neither of us would really have much credibility with the Jesus-Freak crowd, so we didn’t. Rickie’s lucky to have people like you on his side.

PATTY: Thank you.

AMBER: (looks away) And Rayanne is really lucky to have a friend like Angela. I mean, I *know* what happened, and that she could get past that, well, that just shows how special she is. (looks back at Patty, peace offering) I guess we both have some pretty cool kids.

PATTY: (nodding) That we do.

Rickie pulls away from Delia, searching the back of the room for someone. He finally sees Brian and walks over to him.

BRIAN: (nods at him) Hey.

RICKIE: Hey yourself. I thought you weren’t coming.

BRIAN: I wasn’t going to. But I had some time to think about it, and I decided that maybe you were right. Maybe I have been avoiding life, or whatever. (pause) And I didn’t want to let you down.

RICKIE: (looks like he wants to hug Brian, but just touches his arm) You didn’t.

BRIAN: (smiles shyly) Thanks. Well, I don’t mean to speak and run, but I’m going to have to get a good nights sleep, y’know, if I’m going to go to school tomorrow.

RICKIE: You are?

BRIAN: (nods) At least for the morning. I’ll see you there, right?


BRIAN: Good. I hope everything works out, with Mr. Katimski. (turns to go)

RICKIE: Me too.

BRIAN: (turns back) But no matter what happens, you should know, that what you said tonight . . . well, that was the *smartest* thing that anyone said all night.

RICKIE: (knowing it is the highest compliment Brian thinks he can give) Thanks.

Brian pushes open the door to go, and the camera pans back to where Angela and Rayanne stand.

RAYANNE: So, do you think you could tell your Uncle that I need to talk to him?

ANGELA: (distracted, watching something) Sure. I’ll be right back.

Angela rushes down the aisle, passing Rickie as some kid comes up to him, and pushes out the door after Brian.


ANGELA: Brian! Wait!

BRIAN: (stopping, turning around to face her) What?

ANGELA: What you said, what you did . . . that was a brave thing.

BRIAN: (defensive, still hurt and angry) I did it for *Rickie*. Not *you*.

ANGELA: I know. (he starts to walk away, she walks to him and gets in front of him) Brian, what I said to you this afternoon . . . I didn’t really mean it.

BRIAN: (he stops, and looks at her sadly) Yes, you did. (resigned shrug) You *did*. (he walks off into the night)


A young man approaches Rickie. He is slim, almost skinny, and he has longish straight brown hair that is cut asymmetrically and gets in his eyes. He has a earring dangling from one ear, and sticks out his hand, and says "Hi".

RICKIE: (taking the hand) Hi. You’re a junior, aren’t you?

ZACK: Yeah. My name is Zack Dobson.

RICKIE: I’ve seen you around a little.

ZACK: (nods) I’ve seen you too. (pause) Listen, I just wanted to tell you that . . . a lot of people really identify with what you said tonight. (pause) I mean, *I* do. I just don’t think I ever could have said it myself.

RICKIE: Well, thank you.

ZACK: (embarrassed) Well, maybe I’ll see you around at school, or something. Like, at lunch. Maybe we could talk . . . or whatever.

RICKIE: (smiles) I’d like that.

ZACK: (looks glad) So, okay. Good. I’ll see you at school, then. (he walks off)

DELIA: (sauntering up to Rickie with a wicked smile) Who was that?

RICKIE: (embarrassed) Just someone from school. His name’s Zack.

DELIA: He’s kind of cute.

RICKIE: Really? (nonchalant) I didn’t notice.

DELIA: Sure you didn’t. (pause) So, how long do you think this will take?

RICKIE: (looking towards the door) I have no idea.


The small meeting room has no windows. Everyone is clustered around a large table, and no one looks happy, Katimski least of all.

PREZ: We’ve heard what you have to say, Mr. Katimski, but we’ve also heard what the community has to say. Based on all that, the Board has decided to change the offer it made you concerning your resignation. Our counsel will explain.

COUNSEL: (shuffling papers) All right, Mr. Katimski. The offer we have is this. The Board still requests that you resign, but is willing to do three things for you. The District will pay out the rest of your year’s salary in a lump sum, including the summer payments you would receive since you chose the twelve-month pay schedule. The District will also pay out your accrued vacation and sick days, and the small amounts you have contributed to your retirement thus far. In addition, the District will authorize the continuation of your health insurance benefits for the rest of the school calendar year, and for one year thereafter or until you get another job, whichever comes first. In return, we ask that you sign this confidentiality clause stating that you will not discuss the details of the deal.

Katimski and Joseph look surprised by this. Starson looks angry.

STARSON: (shortly) Richard, they are only offering you this deal because they saw the crowd out there and they know that if you quit, you can’t sue them.

COUNSEL: If you will not resign, I have recommended that the Board fire you.

STARSON: If you do that, then we will sue you.

COUNSEL: And you’ll lose. Every case like this ends up in the District’s favor. Even cases where there is no allegation except open homosexuality. Here we also have the matter of Rickie Vasquez living there. You *know* that the law is on our side.

STARSON: The law should be changed. It *is* going to change.

COUNSEL: Even if that is true, Mr. Katimski may not want to be the one to change it. There is another consideration here. If you will not quit, and are able to successfully enjoin the District from firing you, you will still be affiliated with the District, and we will still have an interest in making sure that Rickie Vasquez is placed in institutional care, where he belongs. But, if you resign, and you’re a private citizen, (shrugs) we really don’t have any duty to keep track anymore . . .

STARSON: That is the *lowest* thing I have ever heard. You don’t even have the authority to make a threat like that.

COUNSEL: Child Services and this Board are both appendages of the state. No doubt our recommendation will hold some weight. I think that Mr. Katimski has shown that it’s in Rickie’s best interest to remain with him, with some semblance of a family, rather than be returned to institutional care. I’m sure the Board would agree that *is* the best place for Rickie and would be happy to say so in a confidential memo to Child Services, but only *if* Mr. Katimski resigns. They could hardly make such a recommendation if they have fired him for cause.

PREZ: (interrupting) But only if you *resign*. At least think about it.

KATIMSKI: (huddling with his three allies) Okay. What do you all think?

STARSON: I think his offer is a crock! This whole hearing tonight was a sham. All they want is for you and Martha Stone to go away with as little fanfare as possible.

JOSEPH: I don’t know, they seem pretty certain that they would win if we sued them for firing you.

STARSON: The law *is* on their side. I’ve always been honest about that. But the law needs to be changed, and that won’t happen if no one challenges the system.

ETHAN: Still, the offer seemed pretty good to me. You won’t lose any income, and you’ll have some paid time to look for a job, before you even have to think about unemployment. And you’ll have insurance if you need it. And then there’s Rickie.

STARSON: (glaring at Ethan) There is more at stake here that just one boy.

JOSEPH: (glares at Starson) Rickie is important to us. What do you mean, Ethan?

ETHAN: (regards Starson warily) Well, I’ve been looking into the idea of one or both of you becoming his legal guardians, and even though Rickie was abandoned, it would be an uphill battle. But if you were publicly fired for cause, that might make it impossible. On the other hand, if the Board is willing to state that it has no findings against you and that they support such a situation, well that would *have* to help. And I bet Patty and Graham could testify at any hearings, too.

KATIMSKI: And that would mean giving in to them.

STARSON: And giving up the cause. Of equality for *all* of us.

KATIMSKI: But, I can’t live my life for some cause. Especially not at Enrique’s expense.

ETHAN: Well, if you want Rickie to stay with you, the best thing to do is take their deal. Since Rickie is sixteen, a guardianship is more likely, because he can say what he wants, and he’s almost to the age of majority anyway.

JOSEPH: Richard, this *has* to be your decision. Not theirs. Not even mine.

KATIMSKI: (hand comes up to his chin) I know.

RICKIE: (VO) Demeter, enraged by Hades’ trickery, declared that no crops would ever grow again if her beloved flower-princess had to become the consort of death. Zeus mandated a compromise, and his word was final. Persephone would spend six months of the year with Hades in Tartarus, one month for each seed. The other half of the year she could spend with her Mother. But Demeter kept her word, too. For the six months that Persephone spent underground, no crops grew. In the spring, when Persephone returned, the fields could flower again, and the trees bear fruit.

(Visual--Katimski, in thought, looks from Starson to Ethan to Joseph to the Board)

KATIMSKI: (to the Counsel) I’ll take the deal.


The group comes out of the smaller meeting room into the larger one, where quite a few people are still waiting. It is clear that a significant amount of time has passed. Katimski, Joseph and Ethan walk immediately to where Patty, Rickie, and the others wait. The District’s Counsel and Starson go to the front of the room to make an announcement of the agreement reached.

KATIMSKI: C’mon everyone, let’s get out of here.

RICKIE: (worried) Wait. What happened?

KATIMSKI: We cut a deal. A compromise. A pretty good one, actually.

RICKIE: Really? Are you still going to teach?

KATIMSKI: Aah . . . no. (sadly) But let’s talk about this somewhere else. Why don’t you go to the Chase’s and get packed up, and Joseph and I will be over in a little bit. To take you *home*.

RICKIE: (disbelieving) Really? I get to stay with you?

KATIMSKI: It looks that way. Only if you want to, of course.

Rickie thrusts himself into Katimski’s arms. Katimski hugs him back, tightly.

PATTY: (sensing the pyrrhic nature of their victory) Well, why don’t we all go to our house. This is cause for a celebration. I can call Graham and tell him, and pick up some dessert on the way home.

AMBER: (kindly) We could pick it up, if we’re invited. (reverting to type) You probably want to rush home and *clean* before we get there, or something.

PATTY: Of course you’re invited. And thank you. I’d appreciate that.

AMBER: No problem. Okay, kids, c’mon! (she collects Rayanne, Delia and Corey and heads out)

KATIMSKI: (to Rickie) Why don’t you go with Angela and Mrs. Chase.

RICKIE: Why can’t I ride with you?

KATIMSKI: Joseph and I have something to do first. We’ll be along shortly.

RICKIE: Okay. I’ll see you there.

Angela crooks her arm into Rickie’s and they follow Patty and Ethan out. Katimski looks back at the two attorneys announcing his fate. Joseph puts an arm around Katimski and pulls him away from the scene. They walk away together and Katimski does not look back.


Joseph exits the school carrying a large cardboard box full of Katimski’s things. He balances it on his knee, while he tries to unlock the car. He has trouble. Out of nowhere, Jordan Catalano walks up.

JORDAN: Need some help?

JOSEPH: (clearly startled, maybe even frightened) No thanks.

JORDAN: Okay. Isn’t that Katimski’s car? I’m in his class.

JOSEPH: Yes. (almost fumbles the box, Jordan just grabs it) Thanks. (he opens the door and takes the box back from Jordan) Thanks again.

JORDAN: (hand behind head) He’s not comin’ back, is he?

JOSEPH: (shaking his head, sadly) No. He’s not.

KATIMSKI: (walking out with a box of his own) Jordan? What are you doing here this late?

JORDAN: (looks guilty) Nothin’. I was just driving around and I saw your car. I drove past the school building a couple of times, but I didn’t go in. (pause) I don’t really do that well, in crowds, or whatever.

KATIMSKI: That’s okay.

JORDAN: But I wanted to tell you that you’re a good teacher. When you came here, it was like, you didn’t (pause) *know* me. You didn’t know that I was supposed to be a senior, or that I was . . . the stupid one.

KATIMSKI: You’re *not* stupid, Jordan. You’ve made marked improvement this term. I hope that you’ll continue with that.

JORDAN: I don’t know. If you’re gone . . .

KATIMSKI: Do it for *me* then. Prove that I was a good teacher, and that some of what I said rubbed off on you. I *know* you can do it. I believe in you.

JORDAN: (looks down, shuffles feet) I’ll try.

Katimski turns to go.

JORDAN: And Mr. Katimski?

KATIMSKI: Yes, Jordan?

JORDAN: Thanks. For everything.

KATIMSKI: You’re welcome.


Late though it may be, the mini-celebration is in full swing. All four of the Chases mill about, acting as perfect hosts. The other guests include Rayanne, Amber, Delia, Ethan, Rickie, Joseph, and Katimski. Rayanne pulls Ethan aside.

RAYANNE: I wondered if I could talk to you, y’know, about being on the wagon.

ETHAN: Sure.

RAYANNE: Because I am. *On* it, I mean.

ETHAN: I know. Patty and Angela both told me. Congratulations.

RAYANNE: Thanks. Actually, I was wondering if you knew anything about recovery programs, like, *other* than AA. And about sponsors.

ETHAN: Sure. I think sponsors is an AA term, but it’s not exclusively an AA concept. Do you need a sponsor?

RAYANNE: (looks down) I guess so. But I don’t like AA that much. The guidance counselor said she would look into these other programs called RR and SOS, but she hasn’t been able to find out if they’re around here or not.

ETHAN: Well, I’ve never really heard anything about SOS being in this area, but I know of a Rational Recovery group. On campus. I used to go there myself.

RAYANNE: Really? Why did *you* go?

ETHAN: Well, because I’m an atheist, and AA sometimes made me uncomfortable. I went to AA too though, because it meets more often. They both help.

RAYANNE: Do they accept teenagers in RR?

ETHAN: They take anyone who wants to help themselves. I can give you the address where they meet. (shrugs) I really haven’t been all that much lately. Ever since I found Patty, I haven’t really had to fight the urge. But maybe I should start going again. They meet in the back of this coffeehouse/bookstore. It’s very casual. I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any other branches any closer. (he pulls out a pen and writes something down)

RAYANNE: That’s okay. Thanks. (pause) Have you ever thought of being a sponsor? Or is it best if you don’t know the person?

ETHAN: It’s okay to know the person. And I started drinking when I was about your age, so I know something about what that’s like. I could be your sponsor if you want. But only if you’re really serious about this. (pause) Are you?

RAYANNE: (sighs) Yes. And I guess I can’t do it alone.

ETHAN: (smiles) No one can do it completely alone. Let me give you my number, and you can call me, anytime, day or night. If you’re having a problem, or you just need someone to talk to. There’s no shame in asking for help if you need it.

RAYANNE: Okay. (nods) Thanks. And you’ll find out when the next meeting is?

ETHAN: I will. It’s about time I went back. I haven’t told anyone in the group about Patty yet, and they all knew I was looking. It’s been too long, I guess.

RAYANNE: Is it . . . is it *always* going to be this hard?

ETHAN: For awhile. Then it gets easier. But as hard as it is, I think it’s worth it.

RAYANNE: (looks around at her Mother and her friends) I think so too.

KATIMSKI: (standing with Joseph talking to Rickie) So we just moved all my stuff right out.

RICKIE: (pained) You had to do it right away?

KATIMSKI: No. It was just . . . easier that way. But there’s nothing to worry about.

RICKIE: But what about the play?

KATIMSKI: Aah, the play. (he claps for attention) I think everyone will want to hear this. The play will go on, as scheduled, in two weeks. I spoke with Ms. Lerner earlier this week, and she has agreed to be the interim faculty advisor for the play and drama club, because they probably won’t hire a replacement until next fall.

DELIA: Ms. Lerner, the *math* teacher?

KATIMSKI: Well, as you know, you have to supervised by *some* faculty member.

RAYANNE: But Lerner doesn’t know the first thing about drama.

KATIMSKI: True. She was worried about that as well. I told her she would just be there to supervise and that *Enrique* would make sure everything runs smoothly.


KATIMSKI: Yes. As the de facto assistant director you know how everything should go, and I’m sure you can get Delia or Corey or Angela or someone to expand their participation behind the scenes, since you’ll need to be out front more. Okay?

RICKIE: (overwhelmed) Okay.

KATIMSKI: So, Rayanne?

RAYANNE: (suspicious) What?

KATIMSKI: I expect that this will only work if you *refrain* from killing Enrique. I hope you can manage that.

RAYANNE: (mock-debating it with herself) I *think* that can be arranged.

RICKIE: Thank you, Mr. Katimski.

KATIMSKI: Aah, Enrique . . . I know you’ll do us proud. Just like you did earlier tonight. Joseph and I couldn’t be prouder of you, and of what you said. For us. So . . . you are . . .*very* welcome.


Katimski’s literature class, with a substitute, during Rickie and Delia’s period.

SUB: So can anyone tell me what the definition of a mythic hero is?

RICKIE: (raising his hand) I think I can.

RICKIE: (VO) A hero is a brave, unusual person who undertakes a large, important task and is, at least in the minds of his people, successful.

(Visual--Katimski, Joseph and Rickie at the dinner table, passing food, interrupting one another and laughing--in other words, behaving exactly like a *family*.)



--For a quick reference on mythology, the book Classical Mythology, by Morford and Lenardon, is heavily annotated and an excellent starting place. The story of Demeter and Persephone was summarized from Chapter 12 of the Third Edition. No doubt this popular text has gone through new editions since I purchased mine.

--It is unfortunate but true, that the situations portrayed in this script are all too real. The most unrealistic thing is not the rampant ignorance and prejudice concerning homosexuals; the zealousness and burgeoning power of the religious right in local elections; the bottom-line, callous pragmatism of school boards; or even the "true believer" extremism of *some* homosexual rights advocates. The most unrealistic thing is that the fictional School Board allowed any open meetings about this subject at all, and that it offered Mr. Katimski a much better deal than simple resignation. In most instances I have read about, when a teacher is involved in *any* scandal, they are simply fired or pressured to resign, and do so, with no resistance; or the school board will quietly suspend them from active teaching and simply fail to renew their (typically) one-year contract the next year. Some municipalities do protect homosexuals from discrimination in housing and employment, but such statutes are the exception, and not the rule. Since Three Rivers is a fictional township, I see no problem in postulating that it follows the majority rule, as Mr. Katimski himself worriedly implied in the sixteenth episode. The legal principles at work are merely an amalgam--or, perhaps more accurately, an overview--of the state of the law in this area. However, I make no claim that the text accurately reflects actual Pennsylvanian municipal, contract, or constitutional law precedents.

--For depressing accounts of the legal reasoning behind the upholding of such dismissals, see Ross v. Springfield Sch. Dist. No. 19, 641 P.2d 600 (1982) (upholding a dismissal based on the ‘resultant notoriety’ of homosexual activity); and Rowland v. Mad River Local Sch. Dist., 730 F.2d 444 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1009 (1984) (upholding the firing of a public high school guidance counselor based on her expression of her sexual preference).

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Episode No. 26 - Performance Anxiety by E.R. Holdridge (Shobi)
Published: 31 Jul 1997 | Size: 88 KB (16872 words) | Language: english english | Rating: PG-13
Average: 4.5/5   4.5/5 (32 votes)

Read this story now: Episode No. 26 - Performance Anxiety

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Reviews for this story

Rating Distribution:
Average: 4.4/5   4.4/5 (45 votes)
  • Scott commented on 20 Dec 1999:
    I thought this story was OK. It had it's moments, but the way Katimski's situation panned out was way too dramatic and typical. One of the things I liked about MSCL was it's realism. This seemed too contrived.
  • Elizabeth Wrigley-Field commented on 13 Aug 2001:
    I **loved** the use of the myth! This episode followed one subplot far more than most MSCL episodes.
  • anonymous author commented on 04 Jun 2002:
    This was far too dramatic for MSCL. It was a courtroom drama. if it were some other series, it would be interesting, but MSCL was never this soap opera-ish.
  • anonymous author commented on 05 Jun 2002:
    i don't think that the age grade thing is that big of a deal ith jordan because you know he was the kid who was friends with all of the juniors and seniors when he was a freshman.. having sex with older girls
    and hanging out with older guys
    Jordan never had a coneection with Katimski really, more with mr. Racine

    I have to sat, I loved you first episode your language and character representations were the best I have seen, but it is becoming harder to picture the characters actually saying these lines and it is becoming too melo-dramatic: the appearing long lost brother, the cancer, the dramatic getting fired MSCL wasn't like this, it sounds more like Party of Five, or Life Goes On, or 90210
  • anonymous author commented on 26 Jun 2002:
    I agree with anonymous above, these plots are terrible. long-lost brothers, cancer, gay rights, religious debates...MSCL often used real and original situations that so many teens face daily. it's not like anyone could ever re-create MSCL, but this is a good recreation of any episode of 90210 or dawsons creek. the writer definitely has a talent for story-telling, structure, a great use of symbollism, and character development, but a total lack of feel for the characters and the show as a whole.
    actually, i'm starting to be convinced that the writer's of Bsoton Public have read these scripts, because every episode of that show is teens in highly dramatic, unrealistic situations that come around once in a lifetime.
  • Saria commented on 23 Jul 2003:
    For gods sake! MSCL lasted one series. ONE. Nobody knows how the second series gets played out, its obvious that Rickies living arrangements are going to be disputed, and the whole Gay issue would come into context somewere in the following series. I think this writer did a fabulos job of creating what he/she thought the second series could end up being like. I love these stories, i think they ARE the second series. I wish the writer would do another series.
  • Jennifer commented on 19 Jan 2004:
    I completely agree with Saria.. 'nuff said.
  • Audrey commented on 18 Jun 2004:
    This was an excellent episode! I love the Persephone/Demeter myth, it's always been my favorite, and I loved the way you incorporated it in the story! Great job!
  • matt markevicz commented on 26 May 2005:
    I have to say i've really enjoyed your "episodes", all the way up to the point when you decided to make them a vehicle to harangue me about your various pinko causes. I am very tempted to poke holes in your gratuitous assertions, however i am (a)too lazy to write terrbly much more than i have already, (b)doubtful that this is an appropriate venue,and (c)painfully well aquainted with the inadequacy of plain fact when it comes to persuading those of your ilk.
    That being said, you're a talented writer, and ( with the exceptions that i doubt rickie would have gone from not being able to say the word "gay" one day to parading his boyfriend around at the prom the next...maybe he would reach that point at college or when he left "three rivers", but certaily not prior to that, and i felt that krakow was conniving, cowardly, manipulative and insensitive in the show, however sincerely he may have loved angela, and not the do-gooding, wise and compassionate teenaged yoda you've turned him into)i found your plot lines both believable and interesting,and i especially like the dialogue... the witty banter between graham and hallie was in fact witty, the rayanne dialogue is great-you can almost hear her saying it...i look forward to reading the rest of the work you've done here, i just hope you run out of pet issues before you run out of episodes.
  • Nick gave this story a 3.0/5 3.0/5 rating and commented on 04 May 2008:
    Up to this point, I have generally liked this author's writing. However, this one is too far too focused on one story, to the extent that each character has a completely different personality. The first few episodes were essentially true to the characters, so I liked reading them even when the scenes were not up to mscl standards, but here the scene takes over, and characters like Rayanne are completely different than they used to be. I'm also in agreement with many of the above commenters that cliches are running rampant...there should be no long lost brother, at least not one who is introduced in one episode and used for his legal skills in a ridiculous storyline in the next...I don't like that Brian has cancer either, because I think healthy brian was a vital component of almost every episode in the actual mscl. Seeing as this author is the best one on this site, I have to say that I'm almost glad mscl ended when it did...if it turned into Boston public, as some people above compared this episode to...its mystique would have been ruined.
  • zach gave this story a 4.0/5 4.0/5 rating and commented on 20 Aug 2008:
    This comment is mainly for the previous episode, but pertains to this one as well - I like the subtle self-referencing - Riki watching a "repeat of a cool show" on MTV - wonder what it is? Also, the use of "SOS" in this one works both ways - very clever!
  • porkchop gave this story a 3.0/5 3.0/5 rating and commented on 18 Mar 2011:
    I too think the cancer is going too far, and although I have been enjoying the drama unfold and there are all these 'moments' that ring true I think my biggest worry is you are losing the characters in order to create the story you want. Especially Angela, she like, has no personality anymore...I mean, you should be able to take some liberties, people do change after all, but there is just no point of view here.

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“My dad thinks every person in the world is having more fun than him.”

Angela Chase, Episode 1: "My So-Called Life (Pilot)"