Arthur Miller Could Not Have Written It Any Better

The Cast:

Person A: Female half of a couple

Person B: Male half of a couple

Person C: Mother of Person B

***

Act 1:

The sun shines down hot and bright inside the wide, blindless windows of a Roswell Steak n Shake. Person A awkwardly fiddles with her straw, swirling it around in her coke, while Person B and Person C argue. Shortly before this scene, it has come to light that Person C opened credit cards under Person B’s name without B’s knowledge. After a confrontation, Person B was asked to leave the house and has since been living with Person A’s family. Person C calls Person B for a favor, and agrees to further discussion about what happened.

Person B: Opening credit cards in my name without my permission and using them past the credit limit and not paying them on time or at all is harmful to me, Mom. I am trying to start a life for myself, and this is inhibiting me. I need them paid off immediately, in full, or I feel that I need to do something about it.

Person C: If this is how you’re going to be, to your mother who gave you life, I mean, I can’t believe you’re acting like this. I guess I’ll see you in court, if this is what you want.

Person B: I don’t want to get you in trouble. I definitely don’t want you to go to jail. But I would like to talk to someone, a lawyer, maybe and see what my options are. I want this off my record, it’s not my real credit history.

Person C: If you do that, fine, I’ll see you in court, but that’s it for me. We don’t have a relationship any more.

Person B: I just don’t feel that I should be punished for something that I haven’t done.

Person A: If I may interject?

Person C: Yeah, go ahead, you’re a smart girl, I respect your opinion.

Person A: Personally, if I were a mother and, you know, had to resort to this kind of thing, I would be able to recognize that those actions, while necessary at the time, have been harmful to my child, and if I were assured that jail time would not be a consequence I would be willing to go to court and take the fall for my child.

Person C: [silence] Look, I’ll pay them off. Just give me some time. There’s no need to make this worse.

All 3 leave the restaurant content, confident that a resolution to the problem has been reached.

***

Act II:

December 23. Chilly winds whip the leaves into a frenzied winter dance as Person A and Person B are preparing to go out do some last minute Christmas shopping. The phone rings. It’s Person C, calling to inquire if she can borrow Person B’s credit card, the same one confiscated after the initial drama from Act I. She wasn’t able to afford Christmas gifts this year, and just wants to buy a few things.

Person A: Do you think it’s a good idea to give her the credit card? I don’t necessarily think that she should have free reign with it, in light of the circumstances.

Person B: Come on, it’s Christmas. She couldn’t buy any gifts. What am I supposed to tell her?

Person A: Well, why don’t we offer to pick them up for her? Then she has the gifts she needs while we keep our peace of mind.

Person B: That sounds like a good idea.

Person C accepts the proposed idea. A and B run around until late in the night completing all of the errands. 

***

Christmas Eve morning arrives with a bright, chilly sun. A and B are due at C’s house to bake cookies with B’s 3 little sisters. Upon arrival, Person A is swept into a game of Uno with 2 little sisters. At the same time, Person C is informing Person B that she still needs to buy some items for Christmas dinner and a few more little gifts. C asks B if she can again borrow the card. B relents and hands over the card. B, ever the forgetful little bird brain, does not remember to regain possession of the card before A and B leave for the night. He continues to forget for the next month. The bill arrives in January, giving A and B quite a surprise.

Person A: Here’s your Am Ex bill. [holds out bill to Person B]

Person B: You can open it. It’s probably trash, anyway.

Person A rips open the envelope and scans the bill, finally stopping and staring in disbelief at the past 30 days of transaction information.

Person A: What…the…fuck…

Person B: What is it?

Person A: Your credit card is past the $2,000 limit again. Look at this fucking history…Walgreens, Target, a doctor… Did you give your mother the card again?

Person B: Yeah, at Christmas, I thought you knew that. I forgot to get it back from her…

Person A: Are you fucking kidding me? I thought we were keeping our peace of mind! Why in the hell would you ever do that? You should have known this was going to happen. Why didn’t you tell me?

Person B: I forgot.

Person A: Well, that’s not helpful, is it? Now you’ve fucked yourself. Call your mother. Ask her what the hell she was doing. And get the card back, for chrissake.

Person B [dialing the number] Alright. Mom? Hey, Mom, what are these charges on the credit card? I gave you that card for Christmas purchases; there are charges on here for way after Christmas, and definitely not for gifts. [silence, while B listens to C’s explanations] I don’t care Mom, you should have asked me before doing this again! I want the card back! [C hangs up the phone]

Person A: Well, that didn’t go well. How juvenile.

Person B: Yeah, she always does that.

Person A: You should go pick up the card… and call American Express. This needs to stop. Have her name taken off the account and have a new card, with a new number sent to you. I suggest taking complete control; if it were up to me, I wouldn’t even let her make a payment herself. She needs to earn your trust back.

Person B: I’ll stop in after class and talk about it with her.

***

Person B returns home to Person A. The talk with C did not go well; she refused to be ‘treated like a child’ and promised to only make payments over the minimum payment if she were allowed to do it herself. B gave in to that request in the hopes of quickly paying off the card, but called Am Ex to have her name removed and a new card sent to him.

***

Act III:

Person A has not been having a good day. Her allergies are causing her trouble breathing and sleeping. The couple have been plagued with petty arguments and accidents all morning. Then Person A opens Person B’s latest credit card bills.

Person A: [talking to self] She’s paying off Citi well… no fees, payment on time. Great. [Picks up Am Ex bill with some trepidation, fully aware that this bill is often the cause of controversy. Scans the payment+fees chart, then the transaction history.] Are you fucking kidding me? [To Person B, who just walked in the door] When did we get that card back from your mother?

Person B: Uh…. why?

Person A: WHEN? January, February? And you had her taken off the account right?

Person B: Yeah, late January, I think. Why?

Person A: Why are there charges on here from this month? KFC, Starbucks, Walgreens?

Person B: That can’t be right. Oh…

Person A: They didn’t fucking take her off the account, did they?

Person B: I saw that they sent her a card, but I was hoping the number change would fix that.

Person A: [Ignoring the stupidity of B’s answer and avoiding asking him why he didn’t tell her that a card was sent to his mother or at least call Am Ex himself to fix the issue immediately] This has GOT to stop. I cannot BELIEVE that this is STILL happening. You need to stand up for yourself. Call your mother, and then prepare to call the card company tomorrow; this is their mistake and they need to fix it.

Person B: [dials number] Mom? Mom, why have you been using the credit card again? …. No, Mom, don’t lie to me, I have the bill here and the charges are listed, KFC, Walgreens… It’s over the limit AGAIN, and you aren’t even paying minimum payment!

Person C: [faintly overheard from the phone] What do you want me to say? Fine. [hangs up]

Person A is infuriated. Having just moved into a new apartment, there are things that A and B need to buy, such as bedroom furniture. A’s credit has already been used nearly to the limits buying much-needed items for the new place. B has nothing to offer, due to his mother’s ruination of his credit. He has been declined for 2 credit cards due to delinquent balances. Person A is at the end of her rope. This credit card issue is not her problem, nor should it be Person B’s. Person A feels that things need to change immediately, or else….

Act IV may go something like this:

Person A and Person B are sitting on their brand new couch in the dim light of the lamp, the TV glowing Don Draper’s face in the background.

Person A: You need to take up for yourself. Get your life in order.

Person B: What do you want me to do? I can’t send her to jail!

Person A: I am more than aware of that. But this needs to stop. Your credit is RUINED. This is screwing us both over. You HAVE to get this fixed. I like your mother, I don’t want anything bad to happen to her. But I cannot stand by while this continues to happen.

Person B: What do you want me to do?! I’ll call her and demand she pays it off when she gets the tax refund.

Person A: That won’t happen. What are you going to do then?

Person B [silence]

Person A: We have a year’s lease, and I’ll stick it out through then. But if you don’t get this issue fixed, don’t expect me to stick around. I am so sick and tired of you letting everyone walk all over you. This is a life-destroying issue. Get it together.

Issue is never resolved and Person A and Person B part ways forever.

Fin.

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