Gas by Jose Rivera, Page 353
(CHEO starts to pump gas. As he pumps the gas, he notices something horrifying. He pulls the nozzle out of the car. Blood comes out of the gas pump. CHEO stares and stares at the bloody trickle coming out of the gas pump.) BLACKOUT.
Roman (gas attendant-who happens to be Cheo’s brother)
(Spotlight: Centre Stage-Cheo staring at the gas pump holding the nozzle as blood trickles out)
Cheo. Fucking sick, hey! Hello, YOU FUCKING DIPSHIT look at this mess; what do you got going on here? DIPSHIT COME OVER HERE! We got something BAD over here! we got BAD GAS here!
(Waves at the gas attendant)
Roman. Cheo old man. It’s not bad gas. Its my blood that’s spilled from Riyadh, my blood bro, my blood is spilled all over the desert dust.
Cheo. There is no time for jokes. Come and fix this gas pump here so that I can go on my way.
Roman. It’s me, Cheo, It’s me, Roman, your little brother.
(Spotlight on Roman flicker blue and gold lights)
Cheo. It finally happened, I fucking snapped, mom lost it too we’re losing our heads.
(He sits by the truck tire the gas nozzle dropped)
Roman. My death happened fast. We underestimated the Iraqi troops; we thought the previous attacks weakened them. We got it wrong; they prepared for a counter-attack. The weather was terrible. There was blowing sand and rain, we could hardly see the enemy lines. That’s when we got hit; our station exploded. That’s how my body got scattered over the sands of the desert. My blood pours out to you brother.
Cheo. It can’t be. I’m fucking losing it.
(Turns to look at Roman beside him spotlight shines on the two brothers Cheo traces Roman’s face)
But, you, you do look like my little brother. I was thinking about the time mom brought you home, you were so tiny. I thought you were like a doll or something. When she told me to sit down, and put you in my arms, I wouldn’t dare show it, but I loved you then, Roman. You grew so fast. You were the one that touched the heart of everyone. Unlike me, I had to make sure the family could eat, you know? That you had what you needed. You Lil Shit! What the fuck were you thinking about joining the army. Your family needs you, Roman not the President, not the country, us your family! Now your guts are spilled all over the fucking sands. You didn’t know this, but your ugly wife is pregnant. That’s right, trust me, it’s your baby!
Roman. I needed you to know that you were like a father to me Cheo. Whenever I had nightmares, you came into my room, holding me until mom got home Whenever I hurt myself, it was you bandaging me up because mom had to work so much. Cheo, before I got killed, God showed me your heart. You know, it’s okay to marry Dinah, she’s beautiful. She won’t make the cover of those magazines, but she’s got a good heart Cheo, and she loves you.
Cheo. We counted on those letters Roman, it told us you, you, were ALIVE. I’m thinking of the time I whooped your ass good when you gave our savings to the homeless guy down the street. You remember that?
Roman. He was a war veteran Cheo, lost his legs, who else was going to help him? You were so mad you chased me for blocks threating to kill me if I ever tried to come back home. But, there you were, driving all over the place trying to find me. It didn’t take you long. You knew all my hiding places. That’s when I could see that you loved me. You were crying like a girl, hugging me, telling me you would never kill me and that it’s ok.
Cheo. I need to apologize to you, Roman, I didn’t know how to be a big brother. There was a time that I felt overburdened, and I could see it hurt you. But once I got a job out of town and left for a few months. You were crying and screaming for me to come back, and I just ignored you. The thing is little bro, if I looked back, I wouldn’t have been able to go, and it would’ve kill me right then and there like a torpedo explosion.
Roman. I forgive you Cheo, you were hard on me, but that’s because you cared. When mom was in the hospital, you made sure she had the best care, and you coordinated round the clock family time to get her through. That’s your heart big brother, that is the kind of heart you have. When I was out there in the desert inside the tank, I swore that if anything happened to me that I would be able to tell you it’s going to be ok Cheo. You can be an uncle to my baby girl. I’ll watch out for her from heaven.
Cheo. Ok, no bringing up that nonsense religious fucking shit on me, Roman. It’s enough mom thinks I’m going to hell. But you? What’s Heaven Roman?
Roman. I had this dream out there in the desert when the bombs were going off in Kuwait. I was running in this field with tall grass, and there was this crazy windmill in the distant. I ran towards it, but it turned out to be this shack all boarded up. I peeked in the window and there was pure white sheets covering the furniture on the inside.
Cheo. The gulf war got to your head, Lil bro, come on now, this sounds like a dream. A dream this isn’t real.
Roman. I pried the door open and walked in. I walked through cobwebs, but once I was inside, the sheets were as white as snow. There was food left on the table, rotting. I walked towards the kitchen, there was this mummy case, you know, like the kind of King Tut tomb mummy? I was dazzled! All those colourful paints like gold and royal blue made that mummy case spectacular. I pried that thing open. I wasn’t afraid of no dead body. It flipped open, and there was Jesus Cheo; he took my hand and spoke to me without using his mouth. He took me outside, and it was so beautiful Cheo, the colors in Heaven are so vivid, nothing on earth can compare to that. There was this boat see? It was a red boat by the shore. I had this sense Cheo to row for him deep in my gut. Jesus took the oars and rowed the boat for me. I did nothing compared to what you did for our family Cheo. But I need you to know that there is a God, and he loves you. He wants you to help others and go to Church with mom. She’s going to need God right now when she finds out that I’m not coming home to give her HOPE Cheo. You got this. You can do this. Jesus is real, and everything is going to be okay. I want you to trust me.
(Crying holding onto Roman, I don’t want you to go, your my little brother, we need you hear man, we need you fucking here)
Roman. I’ll always be your little brother Cheo. I’m always going to be with you. We are going to see each other again. Trust me. You need to make sure mom knows that when you go back, and you tell her the news.
(background change – spot light shines in the back where the trees and flowers are. Roman is feeling an urgency)
It’s time, Cheo, I gotta go. God’s calling me home. You got to be strong for me, okay? Like you always were strong. You got this, Cheo!
(Brother’s hug 1 minute-music starts Roman goes towards the back and disappears. Spotlight on Cheo he falls to the ground on his knees as the light where Roman stood flickered black)
Fucking war, fucking Gulf fucking war, the fucking desert.
(He sees something shining and glowing on the ground. Spotlight on the ground. Cheo picks up his brother’s dog tags)
It’s fucking real, it’s fucking true. I’m going to make you proud, Roman. You watch from heaven little brother. I’m going to be the best fucking uncle and the best God father EVER!
(He puts the dog tags over his head . Picks up the gas pump and sticks it into his car. Fills the car with gas Spotlight fades to black)