Thumbs Up!

By Kenny Blade


While trying to run away from home, Lenny discovers that home is where God places you. Part 2 of the Follow the Lights series. (Can stand on its own, however.)


Deuteronomy 31:8 (The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.)


Lenny (Larry's brother),
Loni and Laura (Larry's daughters),


Store Front / Flea Market type store / Name of establishment: Light's House


Scene 1

(Scene opens with Lenny hitchhiking. Loni walks out and sees him. She has just awakened)

Loni: Uncle Lenny, what are you doing out here so early?

Lenny: Hitchhiking.

Loni: Oh. Dad says we aren't supposed to hitchhike.

Lenny: It takes too long to run away on foot.

Loni: Makes sense, I guess. Still you aren't supposed to.

Lenny: I know. Go back to bed.

Loni: I'm not sleepy. I was gonna get breakfast. Want to split a Pop-Tart? There's only one left.

Lenny: Better not. When I finally get a ride, they may not want me to get crumbs on their seat. I'll get something when I get there.

Loni: Ok. (Rubbing her eyes) See ya later. (Laura comes out sleepy as Loni turns to go in)

Laura: Morning Loni.

Loni: Morning Laura.

Laura: Morning Uncle Lenny.

Lenny: Morning.

Laura: Watcha doing?

Loni: He's running away.

Laura: Oh. You know, Dad says…

Lenny: … I'm not supposed to hitchhike. I know. Running away isn't really about doing what your big brother says to do.

Laura: I guess you're right. Still it's pretty dangerous.

Lenny: Danger is my middle name.

Loni: I thought your middle name was Myron.

Laura: Uncle Lenny, you are afraid to ride the Ferris wheel at the state fair.

Lenny: I am not! It's just not challenging enough, that's all. Besides, there are all different kinds of danger.

Loni: Yeah, Laura. Remember when we put that dead rat in Uncle Lenny's shoe as a joke? He just picked it up and played with it. I thought for sure that would scare him!

Lenny: (shrieking) That rat was real??? (Shivers, then seemingly disgusted with the girls) Ok, so my middle name is adventure, not danger! Either way, I'm busy here, so you two go back in the kitchen and leave me alone.

Laura: Ok. What do you want us to tell Dad?

Lenny: Tell him whatever you want . Tell him I have gone to live where no one can boss me around. Tell him I'm going to live where I don't have to answer to anybody. Tell him I've gone where I can wear what I want, and stay out as late as I want and…

Loni: (interrupting Lenny) Uncle Lenny!

Lenny: (frustrated) What Loni?

Loni: Do you mind if I go and get a pencil and a piece of paper? I need to write this down. I lost you back at "don't have to answer to anybody!"

Lenny: (visibly tired of the discussion) Just tell Larry whatever you want! I'll be soaking in the sun on some mysterious tropical island by the time he gets back from town.

Laura: Tropical Island?

Lenny: Of course. You don't think I'm going to stay in this hick town do you? I'm going to go where I only have to answer to me!

Laura: (getting interested) No rules?

Lenny: No rules.

Laura: No curfews?

Lenny: No curfews.

Laura: No chores?

Lenny: I won't even have to clean my room!

Laura: (obviously thinking it through) That sounds perfect!! (Stands beside Lenny and sticks out her thumb to "hitchhike") I'm going too!

Lenny: (amazed and a little angry) NO YOU AREN"T!

Laura: (determined) I am too! Loni, Tell Dad I went with Lenny.

Lenny: Tell him yourself!

Laura: Lenny, I can't tell him if I'm not here.

Lenny: Bingo! You can tell him because you are going to be here! You are not going with me.

Laura: So why can't I go too?

Loni: Yeah, why can't she go too? Why should you have all the fun?

Lenny: Loni, It's not just about having fun. You have to be really mature to make it out there on your own. Anyways, what are you worried about? You'll have your old room back.

Laura: … and you can have my room for a playroom. I won't need it.

Lenny: Yes you will! For the last time you can't go with me!

Loni: Hey! That's not fair!

Laura: What's not fair?

Loni: Leaving me here all by myself! I'll have to do all the chores with you two gone! (Thinks about it a minute) You guys are crazy if you think you're leaving me here! (Gets in line beside Laura and sticks her thumb out)

Laura: Loni, you can't go with us!

Lenny: Laura's right… you can't go with us… I mean me… you two go back in the house! (Catches his breath and tries to calm down - at that moment a "traveler" strolls up slowly with a suitcase in his hand - none of the three really notice him because they are caught up in their conversation) Now I am going to try and explain this one more time. (Breaths deeply) OK, I am running away. We are not running away. Only one person per family can run away.

Loni: Why is that?

Lenny: It's very simple. One person leaving is running away. Everybody leaving at one time is a family vacation!

Stranger: (sheepishly) Excuse me. Do you mind if I sit down here? (Loni and Laura have their back to the stranger. They do not look at him. Lenny answers but doesn't really look up)

Lenny: Sure. Go ahead.

Loni: I always liked family vacations, Uncle Lenny. You remember that time we went to the mountains and…

Lenny: Look, guys. This conversation is going nowhere. Now for the last time, go back into the house and wait for Larry to get back from town. Mrs. Lemon will looking in on you until he gets home.

Laura: We should probably leave her a note.

Loni: Why?

Laura: We don't want her to worry. She'll be ok if she knows we are with Lenny.

Lenny: I GIVE UP! You two do whatever you want to do! I have a ride to catch!

Laura: Keep your eye out for a mini van.

Loni: We'd be ok in a station wagon if they don't have to many kids…

(Lights fade)

Act 2

( Scene opens with Lenny, Loni, and Laura all standing side by side with their thumbs out - they are refusing to talk to each other - stranger is getting a sign out of his coat that reads: "Will work for food")

Stranger: (After looking at the kids a moment) If you don't mind me asking, where are the three of you headed?

Lenny: (Without turning his head - he appears to be looking for a car) We aren't going anywhere. I am running away and these two are acting crazy.

Stranger: I can see you're running away. My question was, where are you headed?

Lenny: What do you mean? Where does anyone go when they run away? I'm going to someplace better than here!

Stranger: Oh. (looks around) I would agree this ain't Trump Towers, but it looks pretty homey. These girls your sisters?

Lenny: Nieces. I live here with them and my big brother Larry. At least I used to. Starting today, the world is my home!

Stranger: Sounds exciting, I guess.

Loni: Hi. My name is Loni.

Laura: (whispering) Loni! You know what Dad said about talking to strangers.

Stranger: Your Dad's right, young lady. You shouldn't talk to strangers. Of course, you really should get used to talking to them. Once you get out there on that road, pretty much everyone you meet will be a stranger.

Lenny: They don't have to worry about that. They aren't going anywhere. I won't have time to baby sit once I'm on my way.

Loni: We aren't babies!

Stranger: Your uncle is right. Being out there on your own with no family or friends is no picnic. It can get pretty rough.

Lenny: Not as bad as being here!

Stranger: So you said. Tell me, what's so bad about here that you want to run away?

Lenny: You wouldn't understand.

Stranger: Try me. I have a few spare minutes.

Lenny: Well, to start with, it's not really my home. I'm only living here because my Dad left when I was little and my Mom and sister-in- law were killed by a drunk driver.

Stranger: Man, that's tough. I sure am sorry. Still, it sounds like you're pretty fortunate to have a brother who is there for you.

Lenny: I don't know if I'd call it fortunate or not. I mean, he's really been there for me, but you wouldn't believe the rules I live with. Not to mention the things I have to do without.

Stranger: Rules? What kind of rules?

Lenny: You wouldn't believe me if I told you.

Stranger: Try me.

Lenny: Well, like for instance, I have to help around the store every day. Even when my friends are hanging out at the park.

Stranger: Wow! You mean he makes you pitch in with the work like everybody else in the family?

Lenny: Just like everybody else? No way! Larry asks me to do a lot more than Laura and Loni, I can tell you that!

Stranger: Why do you think that is?

Lenny: He says it's because I am older and I can handle more responsibility.

Stranger: Get outta here!

Lenny: Crazy, ain't it! (Thinking) Of course he does pay me a little more allowance. He says that's because I am older and more is expected of me, so I should be paid more.

Stranger: Boy, I sure am glad I don't have someone making me work every day. No sir...I am my own boss!

Lenny: Yeah…. You do know what I mean! I want to make my own rules... just like you!

Stranger: Yes sir… I'm living the life. If I don't want to work, I just put my little sign away (picks up his sign to view) and nobody bugs me. If it weren't for an occasional policeman kicking me off someone's front steps or shopkeeper threatening to have me arrested for loitering, I wouldn't have to listen to anybody. (Pause, thoughtful) Well, I do have to listen to my stomach… but that's a small price to pay for the freedom I have.

Loni: Your stomach talks?

Stranger: Grumbles like an old bear when I haven't worked in a while.

Laura: Not working makes your stomach grumble?

Stranger: Not eating, actually. You see, if I don't work, I have no money. If I have no money, I can't buy food. But, hey, what's a little hunger compared to living the free life?

Lenny: (Thinking out loud) Hunger, huh?

Stranger: Sure, man. You can get pretty hungry between jobs sometimes. And the jobs never last more than a day or so. Yard work, window washing, cleaning garbage out of a back alley, that kind of thing. You see, with no address, nobody will hire you full time.

Lenny: That's cool, though. You get to do all different kinds of jobs. I'll be you never get bored!

Stranger: Don't you know it, young man! I've had some great jobs. Once I was hired to clean up the fish guts down at the pier… then there was the time I got a job scrubbing the toilets at a boy scout retreat facility… never a dull moment!

Lenny: But you do get to sleep under the stars…

Stranger: Unfortunately, I don't do that any more than I have to. Lost my toes when I got frostbite a few years back.

Lenny: (weakly) But you have seen the world…

Stranger: I'm afraid that's a little overrated too. Truth is, I spend so much time looking for work, food and shelter that I never really see much of the world.

Laura: I don't mean any offense, but your life sounds terrible. I'm don't think I want to run away after all.

Loni: Me neither! I'll never complain about chores again.

Lenny: ( pauses as he thinks a moment) Look, just because you've had a hard time doesn't mean I won't make it work for me.

Stranger: Who said life didn't work out for me? I still answer to no one and I get to go wherever I want. I think you need to give it a try. I had a buddy who ran away with me when the two of us were just a little older than you are. He always dreamed of finding a better place too.

Lenny: Did he?

Stranger: Not yet. He's in jail up in Kentucky right now. But he says as soon as he gets out in 2026, he's going to keep hunting for that better place!

Lenny: He's in jail?

Stranger: Yeah, but It's not so bad. He gets three meals a day and his cellmate almost never beats him up anymore!

Laura: Uncle Lenny, stay here with us. It's really not so bad here. Dad would be crushed if he got home and you weren't here.

Loni: (hugs him) Yeah. We love you Uncle Lenny. Don't leave us.

Stranger: Hey, kid. Don't listen to them. Go with me. We can look out after each other.

Lenny: Where would we be headed?

Stranger: Who knows? Nothing to worry about, though. We can sleep in the park if we don't catch a ride before dark. Speaking of which, we need to get moving toward the main highway. It'll be twice as hard to get a ride for two. (Gets up) It's early enough now, but it'll be night before you can blink. You coming with me?

Lenny: (hesitates) I don't know…

Stranger: But what about all the chores and rules and things? If I were you, I couldn't get outta here fast enough! You know, as long as you stay here all the stuff you hate will never change…

Lenny: (thoughtfully) … I guess you're right… (pause - looks at Laura and Loni) Now that I think of it, all the things I love about this place will never change either. (Pauses) Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll stay here. (Loni and Laura smile at each other)

(Loni and Laura hug Lenny)

Stranger: Your choice, kid. I gotta get going. (Tips his hat) Nice meeting you folks…

Loni: Hey! Wait! (runs into the store and back out) Take this food. It's not much, but it will keep the stomach grumbles away until you find some work.

Lenny: … And take my sleeping bag… It gets cold in that park.

Stranger: Thanks. Thanks a lot. God bless you folks. (leaves stage)

Laura: ( Watches Stranger leave stage, then gives Lenny a hug, followed by Loni on Lenny's other side) I really am glad you decided not to run away, Uncle Lenny.

Loni: Yeah...We really would have missed you.

Lenny: (As Larry walks onstage with two bags of groceries) Thanks girls. ( Seeing his brother Larry) You find everything?

Larry: I got most of the groceries. They were out of Cherry Pop-Tarts and bacon, but I think I found everything else. ( Noticing his daughters in their pajamas.) Hey, don't you two need to get dressed? We have a lot of work to do around the shop if we're going to be ready for the sale next week. (Holding out the bags to the two girls) Why don't you two take these bags in the kitchen. I want to talk to Lenny. (Girls take the groceries and head through the "Store" area and out backstage - Larry turns to Lenny) Lenny, I'm sorry we argued last night.

Lenny: It's cool.

Larry: (Picks up Lenny's suitcase) No, Lenny. Things are not cool. I know you're hurting. The girls and I are hurting too. A lot was taken from all of us when the accident happened. The girls lost their mother and grandmother. I lost a mother and the most incredible woman I have ever known. Leslie was my heart, and I felt like it was ripped from my chest that day. I guess I was so blinded by the pain the girls and I were going though that I neglected to see that you lost even more than we did.

Lenny: (Puzzled) What do you mean, "I lost more"? You lost your mother and your wife! The girls lost their mother and their grandmother!

Larry: ... and you lost everything. ( Puts down the suitcase and walks over and places his arm around Lenny's shoulder) You not only lost both of them, you lost your home. I thought it best at the time to have you to come and live with us. I guess I didn't think about what you were leaving behind. (Pauses) The girls and I love you and we want you to stay here with us. I'll understand if that's too difficult. I called Aunt Nellie and she said you could stay with her as long as you like. I know it's still not the same as living there with Mom, but at least you'll be back in Laughlin City where your friends are.

Lenny: Larry, I did some thinking today, too. If it's ok with you, I'd like to stay here.

Larry: (Smiling) Are you sure? I...I mean, the girls and I would love that, but what about going back home?

Lenny: I am home, big brother. (Steps away from Larry) Sometimes I miss the old neighborhood, but I could never go back and live there. Laughlin City quit being home the day Mom died. She always used to tell us that God was in control of things. I'm not gonna lie to you, Larry. I'm having a really hard time believing that right now. I just keep hanging onto the fact that she never lied to us. Ever. To be honest, right now I don't know if God has anything under control. I just know I believed in Mom, and if she said God's in control, then that will have to be good enough for now.

Larry: I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but Mom was telling us the truth. As hard as it is sometimes to understand the things going on around us, we have to trust God. God didn't take Mom and Leslie from us. A drunk driver did that. God hasn't lied to us, either. He said he'd never leave us or forsake us. The two of them are with Him now in Heaven. They're home now, too. You're not alone, little brother. God is with you. The girls and I are, too. ( lightly musses Lenny's hair) We're going to be ok. How about we get started in the store. We have a lot of re-pricing to do before the sale. (Looks over at Lenny's suitcase) I'm curious. If you weren't headed back to Laughlin City, what's with the suitcase.

Lenny: (Picks up the suitcase) Truth is, I was headed to a mysterious tropical island.

Larry: Tropical Island.... Sounds nice. What stopped you?

Lenny: Let's just say I'm not a big fan of fish guts, Boy Scout toilets or the Kentucky penal system. ( Larry looks puzzled - Lenny walks over and places his arm around Larry's shoulder) Come on, Big Brother. We'll get started and I'll explain everything. (The two walk into the "store" and offstage)


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