To Be

Later that night, Anthony nervously paces around his apartment holding a play in hand.  Jimmy loafs on the couch, watching television.

ANTHONY:  To be or not to be, that is the question.To be, or not to be, that is the question.

JIMMY:  I like the first way you said it.

ANTHONY:  Which way?

JIMMY:  The first way.

ANTHONY:  To be or not to be, that is the question!

JIMMY:  No, that was terrible.

ANTHONY:  You’re breaking my concentration.

JIMMY:  Don’t blame me.

ANTHONY:  I’m not blaming you, I’m just frustrated.

JIMMY:  No kidding.

ANTHONY:  I’m not getting it!

Tony comes out of the bathroom, freshly showered, wearing a robe.

TONY:  Not getting what?

ANTHONY:  This monologue. Shakespeare. To be or not to be, I don’t get it.  It sucks! Shakespeare sucks.

Anthony flings the script across the room in anger.

ANTHONY:  My whole life sucks! My career is non-existent. I work at a newsstand! I have no money. I should just put a bullet in my head and put myself out of my misery.

TONY:  (calmly) Then why don’t you?

ANTHONY:  Why don’t I what?

TONY:  Put a bullet in your head.

ANTHONY:  Kill myself?

TONY:  Yeah, why don’t you kill yourself?

JIMMY:  Uncle Tone!

ANTHONY:  If you’re trying to help Dad, it’s not working.

TONY:  I’m serious, why don’t you kill yourself? Why doesn’t Jimmy kill himself? Why don’t we all just kill ourselves?

ANTHONY:  It was just a figure of speech, Dad.

TONY:  But it’s a good question. And it’s what that speech is

ANTHONY:  What speech?

TONY:  Hamlet. To be or not to be.


TONY:  Hamlet’s life sucks too. Worse than yours. His father died. And Hamlet just found out that his was his uncle who actually killed his father. And to top it off, his mother is fudging the uncle that did it!

JIMMY:  What a pig.


TONY:  So Hamlet is in so much pain that he’s thinking of killing himself over it. To be or not to be. To live or not to live.
Anthony and Jimmy are intrigued.

TONY:  All of us think about it at some point. But why don’t we do it?

ANTHONY:  I don’t know.

JIMMY:  I’m afraid to die.

TONY:  Why?

JIMMY:  You’re freaking me out Uncle Tone. Nobody wants to die.

TONY:  Some people do, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Do you believe in God, Jimmy?

JIMMY:  Yeah, who doesn’t?
Jimmy kisses his gold cross and holds it up to God.

TONY:  Anthony?

ANTHONY:  Most of the time.

TONY:  Then you both believe in heaven, right?

ANTHONY:  What are you getting at?

TONY:  If you knew you were going to heaven when you died, then why stay here on earth? Why work, pay bills, get sick, get old, suffer and then die? Why not cut right to the chase? Kill ourselves now, and fast forward to heaven. Why waste our time here?

ANTHONY:  I don’t know.

TONY:  Neither does Hamlet. Nobody does. That’s what makes the soliloquy so great. Hamlet is thinking about death, and in this case, suicide. But he answers his own question, and this is my favorite part, “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear these ills we have, than fly to others we know not of.”

JIMMY:  Huh?

TONY:  It’s simple. “The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns,” is death. No one has ever come back from the dead.  So death “puzzles the will.” It confuses man, and “makes us rather bear these ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of.”

Tony sees that they’re getting it, so he continues.

TONY: Not knowing what comes next, makes us deal with the pain and suffering on earth, rather than just killing ourselves now to escape all of that shit. 

To be or not to be, that is the question!

JIMMY:  To be.

TONY:  Exactly!

ANTHONY:  That’s awesome, Dad. How do you know all that?

TONY:  You think guys like me don’t appreciate artistic expression?  I live it!

Uzi lounges on a sofa, staring at a soap opera as Anthony walks in.

UZI:  What do you want? I’m watching my shows.

ANTHONY:  You told me a while ago you had a cousin in the jewelry business.

UZI:  My cousin Hymie. One of the biggest diamond dealers in Beverly Hills. The selfish prick! Why?

ANTHONY:  I have a friend who wants to sell some jewels.

UZI:  Why do you need me and my cousin? You can go anywhere.

ANTHONY: My friend wants to be as discreet as possible. Plus, if he’s your cousin, I won’t get taken advantage of, and I figured maybe you can make a few bucks.

The cash register inside Uzi’s head goes off. Cha-ching!

UZI:   I’ll call him.

Uzi picks up the phone.


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