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"You Gotta Love Your Kids!"

Act One

The play opens in a large sunny kitchen in the home of Dylan and Christina Wakefield in a middle-class suburban home in the springtime. It is six o'clock on a Sunday. Dylan Wakefield is cooking dinner while his wife is setting the table. There are four chairs at the table, one for each family member, which consists of Dylan, Christina and their two children. Their son, Sammy, is seven years old and their daughter, Julie, is five years old.

CHRISTINA, setting the last glass on the table: Is dinner about ready Dylan?

WAKEFIELD, draining the spaghetti: Yeah, everything is done.

CHRISTINA, picking up the phone: I better phone the Ballards then to send Sammy and Julie home. There is silence as she dials.

After two rings Mrs Jennifer Ballard answers the phone on the other end. Her voice is heard backstage, but she can not be seen.

Jen Ballard is married to Michael Ballard. They have a son named Joshua who is best friends with Sammy Wakefield and also seven. The Ballards live next door to the Wakefields, which makes the friendship, amongst the two children, very convenient. The nice thing about the boys is that they are always willing to include Julie Wakefield despite her two year age difference from the boys.

JEN: Hello, This is the Ballard residence.

CHRISTINA: Hi Jennifer, it's Christina Wakefield.

JEN: Oh hi Christina. Are you calling because you need to send Joshua home now?

CHRISTINA, chuckling: No, actually I was calling to ask you to send my children home. Aren't they at your house?

JEN: No, I haven't seen them in a couple of hours. I assumed they were at your house. Do you think they could be playing outside?

CHRISTINA: I suppose it's possible. Hold on... Placing the phone down and turning to face her husband... Dylan, the kids are not at the Ballards. Can you go look for them outside?

WAKEFIELD: Sure, I bet they're playing on the swing set.

CHRISTINA, talking into the phone again: Okay Jen, Dylan is going to go get them from outside and he'll send Joshua home because we were just sitting down to dinner.

JEN: All right. Later.

CHRISTINA: Bye - bye.

Christina walks around the kitchen making last minute dinner preparations. Several minutes later Dylan returns, flustered.

CHRISTINA: Where are the kids?

WAKEFIELD: That's a good question! I could not find them anywher- he is interrupted by the doorbell.

CHRISTINA: Well that must be them! She rushes into the foyer to the front door and finds Jennifer Ballard.

JEN: I thought Dylan was sending Joshua home?

WAKEFIELD, approaching to the door: I was. He pauses. But the children weren't outside. I can't find them.

JEN, becoming nervous: Well they have to be around here somewhere. I'll go back home and look for them and you two can search your house. I'm sure we'll find them easily.

CHRISTINA, halfheartedly: Yeah, that's a great plan.

The scene closes as the Wakefields close the door.

Act Two

Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield are sitting at their kitchen table with Mr. and Mrs. Ballard. The food from dinner is still on the table untouched. It is now 8 o'clock.

BALLARD: I don't understand where the children could have gone. I was working in my office all day and did not even notice them missing!

WAKEFIELD: I know what you mean. Christina and I were so absorbed in our own tasks that we did not look for them until dinner time.

CHRISTINA: And now we searched everywhere we could think of! We looked outside, in the garage, and the basement. The only place we didn't look in was the attic since the kids can't reach the door.

JEN: Yeah, Michael and I went through the same situation. The question now is what do we do?

BALLARD: I think it's time to call the police.

WAKEFIELD, trying not to show his fright: You think this is that serious?

BALLARD: Yes I do. They are not at either of our homes. I drove all around the neighborhood and they were nowhere to be found. I'm afraid that something horrible could have happened.

CHRISTINA, trembling: So you think it could be a kidnapping?

BALLARD: Well we can't rule out the possibility.

JEN: He's right. She walks to the phone and dials... Hello Sergeant Hillask. She continues to talk, but can't be heard by the audience.

WAKEFIELD: We should probably call the neighbors too. Just to make sure they have not seen the kids.

BALLARD: Well Jen called all the families in the neighborhood that the kids play with. None of them had heard or seen the kids today.

CHRISTINA, frightened: This is more serious than I ever imagined!

JEN, hanging up the phone: The police will be hear shortly. They said to remain calm and that the children usually turn up within a couple of hours in these situations.

CHRISTINA, trying not to panic: Well the children better turn up! It has already been a couple of hours.

The concerned parents continue to talk and try to calm each other down as they discuss the whereabouts of their children. The lights dim and then come back on to indicate that time has passed. It is now 8:30 and there is a knock at the front door.

WAKEFIELD: They're here. He walks in an attempt to look casual, but wants to run to the door. As he opens it- Hello.. Please come in and follow me. He leads them into the kitchen.

HILLASK: Hi everyone. I am Sergeant Hillask and this is Detective Copper. Please tell us exactly what we can do for you.

JEN, speaking from her heart: I spoke with you on the phone. My son and the Wakefield's two children are missing. We noticed that they were gone at six o'clock and have found no sign of them. We need your help.

COPPER, speaking mechanically: All right, I understand that this is a very frightening situation for all of you, but I would like you to try to keep from worrying too much. This is a safe neighborhood and I can't picture a kidnapping occurring here.

BALLARD: Detective Copper. We just want to find our children. Excitedly... Please just help us, rather than provide statistics on how likely a kidnapping is.

HILLASK: Hey, calm down.. We are here to help you.

COPPER, softening: No, he's right. I wasn't being understanding. The fact is that I have never lost my children so I just couldn't relate to what they must be going through tonight. Now tell me. Have you searched the neighborhood?

CHRISTINA, in a loud tone: Of course we have! We have looked everywhere!

WAKEFIELD: Christina, please calm down. Turning to the detective- We have searched everywhere in our house and on our property, as did the Ballards. The Ballards drove around the neighborhood and could not find the kids anywhere.

JEN: I also called all the houses that have children that the kids could possibly have been playing with. However, no one had seen them.

COPPER: Okay. It is a start. The next step is to talk to your other neighbors who may have seen the children. Sergeant Hillask and I will do that. Meanwhile all of you can either search the area or call more people. We will meet you back here in a half hour.

Wakefield shows them to the door. The scene closes. It reopens with Copper and Hillask standing on the front lawn of the house across the road with a middle-aged man.

CASEY: What can I do for you, officers?

HILLASK: I'm Sergeant Hillask and this is Detective Copper. What's your name, sir?

CASEY: Derek Casey. I saw you leave the Wakefields. I hope that everything is all right.

HILLASK: That is why we have come. Your neighbors the Wakefields and Ballards have reported that their children are missing. Can you offer us any help as to where they may be?

CASEY, thoughtfully: Well I would like to try and help. I have been outside all day between repairing my car and mowing the lawn. I remember seeing the kids sitting in a small circle under the shade of that willow tree. He gestures to the tree. Then I went in the house to get a drink because it was incredibly humid out this afternoon. When I came back outside, the children were no longer there.

COPPER: Do you know where they went?

CASEY: No sir.

COPPER: Did you see them again during the course of the day?

CASEY: No, I did not. When I saw them it was probably between- He pauses- four and five o'clock. So when I came back outside and saw the children were gone, I figured they had gone in the house.

COPPER: Okay. Well is there anyone else in your house that could help us?

CASEY: No sir. Just my wife, but she is not feeling well and did not leave her bed at all today.

COPPER: Well I would like to question her.

CASEY: I am truly sorry, but there is no reason to. She was sleeping all day and would not be any help to you.

HILLASK: Well thanks for your help. Do you know if the owners of that home- He gestures- could help us?

CASEY: Oh, the Richardsons went out right after I came back outside with my drink. They waved to me. They haven't been home since.

HILLASK: How about that house? He points to the house on the other side of Casey's.

CASEY: No, I saw them return home just a half hour ago. Besides, they left early this morning, so I don't think that they would be of service to you.

HILLASK: Well thank you for your help.

COPPER: We may need to contact you again.

CASEY: I will be here and am always willing to help my neighbors, especially in this situation.

The scene ends. The play starts again in the Wakefield kitchen. The food remains untouched on the kitchen table. The four parents and two officers are in the room. It is 9 o'clock. Everyone looks very concerned.

HILLASK, hopefully: Well did you have any luck?

BALLARD: slowly: NO! I sure hope you did.

JEN: Michael, please. Turning to Hillask. Forgive us, but we are all concerned. Did you find anything of use?

COPPER: Yes, we did. We spoke with your neighbor, Mr. Casey. He claims to have seen your children around five o'clock. Then he entered his house and they were gone when he came back out. We asked to question his wife and he would not let us because he says she is sick -

CHRISTINA, as if she has found her children she bursts out: She's not sick! Lauren Casey is the healthiest woman I know!

COPPER: I knew there was something suspicious about Casey. He did not even seem concerned.

HILLASK, perplexed: Are you suggesting that Mr. Casey has kidnapped the children?

WAKEFIELD: It makes sense. The Casey's never had their own children.

HILLASK: He seemed like a decent man to me. He said he would help however he could.

COPPER: Well he is our prime suspect. You heard him say how the Richardsons went out around five o'clock. Therefore, those neighbors were not involved.

JEN, smiling: That's it! The Richardson's kidnapped them. I always knew that household had a serious flaw. They just couldn't stand that our kids did not enjoy playing with theirs.

BALLARD: Honey, I think you may be right! They are the prime suspect, but we have to find them!

CHRISTINA: No, it's Casey. Let's all just go to his house and get our children back.

HILLASK, not believing his ears: You mean to tell me that you think you have neighbors that devious? Pretty soon you will be blaming each other for kidnapping. Have you concern enough for your children to look at the facts?

WAKEFIELD, in a scary shrill: Sergeant Hillask, you can not tell us that we are not concerned about our children! We just want them back and for justice to be served!

HILLASK: Well as long as you blame innocent people you will never find them.

COPPER: These families are on the right track. I'll take over from here. He pushes Hillask toward the door.

HILLASK, shoving Copper's arm off of him: I can not believe I am hearing this from a detective! I will leave you all, but I sincerely hope you find these children. If they do not turn up by tomorrow I will call in the FBI.

He leaves in a very upset state.

COPPER: Now, here is the plan. We will split up. I will take the Ballards to search for the Richardsons. Meanwhile, I would like you, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield, to go back to Casey's house and investigate. I will meet back here in two hours. Good Luck. Let's get these kids! The lights dim and the curtain falls, ending the scene.

ACT Three

It is an hour later. The curtain rises revealing the kitchen. In skip the three children. They are giggling.

SAMMY: Boy are we good at playing hide and seek!

JOSHUA: I know! They searched all night and never found us!

JULIE, in a soft whimpering voice: Well I wish we hadn't hidden in the attic. It was so very scary up there.

SAMMY: goes over and hugs her: Don't worry Julie, it was just so we'd win the game. Now we have the house all to ourselves!

JULIE, not totally convinced: What will we do now?

JOSHUA: Let's eat! I'm starving.

They sit at the table and start eating the dinner that was still there. Then the front door opens. The children hear a man calling "Hello? Who's here?" They look at each other not knowing what to do. The man comes into the kitchen and jumps for joy.

HILLASK, very pleased: You kids are here! I better find your parents and tell them. They started to go crazy while we were searching for you. You sure did frighten everyone!

SAMMY, JOSHUA, and JULIE, in unison, in a steady, calm, and inquisitive voice: Who are you?

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