The Old Man & The Stairs

OLD MAN: Yeah, I know you hate that picture. You’ve told me so since the day I put it up. [There is silence as the old man moves toward a stairway.] No, I ain’t gonna take it down. You can save your breath and stop askin’ me. [Silence again as the man pauses by the picture as if listening.] Well, I like it, and it’s my house. [He reaches the base of the stairs.] What the- [Grunts and straining sounds can be heard.] You stop that! [More strain.] You let me up the stairs right now, or so help me, I-

WOMAN: Dad? What’s the matter?

OLD MAN: [Glaring at the air in front of him.] Nothing’s the matter.

WOMAN: But… you were shouting. Do you need help up the stairs?

OLD MAN: I’m fine. Go back in the other room and watch your show.

WOMAN: But-

OLD MAN: Now, it’s my house. If I want to shout a bit, I can. You go leave me to it.

After giving him one last worried glance, she leaves.

WOMAN: He said he was fine.

MAN: He didn’t sound fine. If he’s having trouble with the stairs-

WOMAN: His doctor said he’s healthy as a horse!

MAN: But what about his mind? You heard him just now. It might be time.

WOMAN: He’d hate to leave this house…

The old man’s glare at the air hardens.

OLD MAN: [In a whisper] You ever try anything like that again, and I’ll burn this house down before I take down that picture.

The lights go down as the old man easily climbs the stairs.


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