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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Adults
- Theme: Drama Stories / Human Interest Stories
- Subject: Courage / Heroism
- Published: 08/29/2012
Honestly - A Play in One ActBorn 1982, M, from Apple Valley, CA, United States
By Jeremy McCool
A play in one act
Setting: A 24/7 convenience store/drive through, interior
Time: the middle of the night. Midsummer.
OLIVER GENTRY: The only graveyard shift employee at the convenience store
KATHERINE (KAT) SMITH: A long-time acquaintance of OLIVER’s
MR. ROBBOTHAM: The owner of the convenience store Oliver works at
SLATER: A junkie
PICO: A regular customer
ROBBER: A man with a gun
[OLIVER is sitting on the barstool inside the counter next to the register, staring at the opposite wall with his chin in his hands, elbows on the counter. He looks like he’s about to fall asleep. KAT enters through the front door. The bells on the door tinkle. OLIVER stands up immediately and starts looking busy.]
OLIVER: Hey KAT. What are you doing here?
KAT: Oh, I was just passing by and I thought I’d stop in and say hi.
OLIVER: It’s two in the morning.
KAT: [leaning on the counter next to the register] Oliver, I just want to talk to you for a minute.
OLIVER: I’m busy right now.
KAT: You’re always busy Olly. [she twirls a curl of hair around her finger]
KAT: Listen, whatever your name is. You need to shape up. I hate seeing you like this. This job has made you a zombie. You sleep all day and work all night. Like a vampire, Olly. It’s not healthy.
OLIVER: I like it. [OLIVER begins wiping down the counters and doing piddly things around the shop.]
KAT: I talked to your mother today. She’s very concerned about you too. We both think you need to stop this nonsense. You’re going to kill yourself and then what are the rest of us going to do?
OLIVER: You could start by going home.
KAT: Don’t you ever want to settle down or anything? Like start a family or something? You’ve been living in that apartment for five years, Olly, five years!
OLIVER: And I’ve kept it clean for five years too.
KAT: Tsh. Well you can live your little serial killer life alone in your apartment if you want. I, for one, have a higher calling.
OLIVER: Hot dog. [He picks up a feather duster and starts dusting the cash register, flicking the dust in her direction]
KAT: You have no idea what it’s like to save a poor innocent puppy from certain death. Why, we’re just as important as fire fighters. Rescues play a vital role in a healthy society, you know.
OLIVER: You tell ‘em, kid.
KAT: I’m serious! I pick them up from the shelter all the time, these poor little puppies that nobody wants, sitting there on death row. When was the last time someone jabbed a foreign object into you and the prick hurt like hell and then they injected you with the poison that you knew would kill you unless somebody came and saved you?
OLIVER: When I was nine.
KAT: You’re so weird, Oliver. How did you turn out like this? Your brothers and sisters are all so normal. Betty even got a dog from me last week. It was Tillie, the Schnauzer mix. You know, the gray mottled one with the black stripe on her nose? I think that’s the one…It’s hard to keep track of them all sometimes…Well, anyway, she said that Tillie is doing just fine with her and Art and she thought that you might like a dog too, you know, to keep you company. Everyone knows you’re lonely.
OLIVER: No. [He looks at his watch] Looks like it’s time to clean the bathroom. [He walks into the bathroom and turns on the light (separate room on same stage, like a split screen with a toilet and a sink in it). He looks at a paper hanging on the wall and writes something on it. Then he starts cleaning the toilet with the bristle brush]
KAT: [Following him] OLIVER, what don’t you like about animals? They’re great companions. They love you no matter what, they’re loyal, they’re—
OLIVER: Animals, Kat. They’re animals.
KAT: Well they’re a lot easier to talk to than people like you.
OLIVER: So go talk to them.
KAT: No. I’m mad at them. They mess all over the house and eat all my furniture and I can’t ever have anything nice. [OLIVER smirks a little] You know, Olly, if you got married or something, you could have a couple of dogs. I could waive the fee for you, and get you the very best ones. Rotts, or maybe an Irish Wolfhound. I think that would do for you. I’ve got one right now. His name is Howard.
[OLIVER flushes the toilet loudly two or three times. He then goes over and tests the hand dryer]
KAT: [Yelling over the noise] You live such a depressing life, Olly. You’re 29. It’s time to start taking things seriously. When are you going to settle down?
OLIVER: When pigs fly. Or maybe monkeys. But they sure as hell won’t be in my house. [The sound of the bells on the door rings. PICO enters from stage left. OLIVER exits bathroom and walks into the store and behind the counter]
KAT: [following him] Don’t you ever want to know what it’s like? To be happy, I mean? To feel fulfilled?
OLIVER: Overrated [PICO goes to the refrigerator in the back of the store and grabs a case of beer. OLIVER watches him. PICO starts walking toward the door.] Hey! You didn’t pay for that! [PICO pulls a butter knife out of his shirt and points it at OLIVER from across the room. OLIVER waves his hand dismissively] Aaaah, take it. It’s not doing me any good.
PICO: [takes a couple of steps toward OLIVER and KAT, still waving his knife threateningly] Are you gettin’ fresh wit me kid?
OLIVER: [motions for KAT to sneak through the saloon doors and kneel by him behind the counter] Actually, I thought I was being kind of stale.
PICO: Don’t nobody call the cops or nothin’ or I’ll come back and slice ya all to shit. [he snickers]
OLIVER: Come on, PICO, don’t make promises you won’t keep.
KAT: [whispering] OLIVER, what are you doing? Get down!
PICO: Hey, come on kid; don’t say my name for the cameras.
OLIVER: We do this at least once a week, PICO. The cameras know how many nose hairs you have, and I’m not scared of your butter knife.
PICO: Come on, but don’t I look threatenin’? You gotta admit, it beats the old ‘no change for a five’ routine. [He holds up one of his fists]
OLIVER: Well, the boss says I gotta let you go. Taxes and all. But you should work on the act a little. I’m not convinced.
PICO: Alright, alright, I’m beatin’ it. [He pockets the butter knife, puts the case of beer under one arm, and starts running out the door] See you later, kid.
KAT: [Standing up, angry] What was that? You know that guy?
OLIVER: He’s a regular. [OLIVER marks down something on a little notepad next to the cash register]
KAT: Why didn’t you stop him if you weren’t scared? He just stole a whole case of beer!
OLIVER: What for? MR. ROBBOTHAM always tells me to let ‘em go. He says that beer is cheaper than a hospital bill.
KAT: I can’t believe this place! Aren’t you going to call the cops or anything?
OLIVER: Nah. He’s a harmless old man. Besides, he only steals the cheap stuff. It moves the inventory and makes the place look like it gets more business than it does. MR. ROBBOTHAM actually writes it off to charity, The Pico Foundation. We stock that brand because it’s his favorite.
KAT: OLIVER, you need a new job. This is ridiculous! You’re wasting your life here, with this fruitcake tax cutter. I can’t believe you just stand there and take this! Doesn’t anything ever upset you?
OLIVER: Not really. But I got work to do. It’s been swell.
KAT: I’m not leaving. I’ve had enough of you working here. This has gone too far!
OLIVER: So quit.
[They hear a horn honking offstage]
SLATER: [offstage, fuzzy sounding voice, as if through an intercom system] Hey! You in there? I need some munchies!
OLIVER: [puts on a pair of headphones] Thanks for choosing Robo-Burger. What’ll it be?
SLATER: Dude, I need MUNCHIES! I got the shakes, man. What do you have?
OLIVER: Read the menu.
SLATER: Just tell me dude. I told you, I got the shakes.
OLIVER: Well, I hear shellfish are good for that. You want a calamari burger? I got the squid boiled in their mothers’ ink on special today.
[KAT jabs at OLIVER’s ribs with a finger. He puts his hand out to shush her]
OLIVER: [covering the microphone] I’m working.
SLATER: Will that help, man? I need to cool off.
OLIVER: Oh yeah. It’ll help.
SLATER: OK. Give me one of those and a Blue Ribbon. Man, I got the shaaakkkesssses.
[OLIVER pulls out a huge jar of pickles, takes a couple out, cuts them into strips, puts them on top of a burger and then picks up a can of WD-40 and soaks the burger generously]
OLIVER: [while he works] Hey man, when you get to the window can you tell the girl that I really need to take a leak? I’ve been in here for days, man. They never let me out.
SLATER: Whoa whoa whoa. What do you mean, man?
OLIVER: I mean in this little box. I’m locked in and I really gotta take a leak. When you get to the window just do me a favor. Tell the girl there that the little guy in the box really has to take a leak, so could you please let him out?
SLATER: You mean….[silence] You’re in that little box?
OLIVER: Yeah, dude. It sucks in here. And I really gotta pee.
SLATER: How….how do you fit in there, man? This is crazy!
OLIVER: They have this machine that shrinks you down so you can get in. There’s a little door on the back. It gets lonely in here though when nobody’s ordering. There aren’t any windows or anything.
SLATER: Whoooooaaaahhhhh. Dude, this is heavy stuff. Of course I’ll help you out, bro! Man, I can’t believe you’re really in there! I always wondered how these things work.
[Sound of tires squealing. OLIVER takes off the headset quickly and hands it to KAT.]
KAT: No, Oliver. I won’t…
OLIVER: Shhhh. Just give him his food. I’ll go get the beer.
[KAT looks out the drive through window behind her, her back to the audience.]
SLATER: Hey! You need to let the little dude out of the box! He needs to take a leak, man!
KAT: [looks at her watch] Yeah, I guess he’s been in there about twelve hours now. I suppose it’s time for a break.
SLATER: Whhoooaahhh! Twelve hours! Geez! Yeah, let him out, man. Like he’s about to piss in that little box. I don’t want him to drown or anything. It must be TIGHT in there. You really should put a window in there or something. Poor guy says he gets lonely.
KAT: I’ll think about it. [She hands a paper bag out the window]
SLATER: Hey, where’s my Blue Ribbon?
[OLIVER comes back with the beer and motions to a stack of paper bags]
KAT: Do you want your drink in a bag?
SLATER: Yeah, so the cops don’t know I’m boozin’. Hehehe.
[OLIVER opens a paper bag, opens the beer, and pours it into the paper bag. He hands it to KAT. KAT shakes her head no, but OLIVER pushes her towards the window. She hands it out to SLATER]
SLATER: Hey, man! Watch the threads, ma—
[OLIVER closes the drive through window and latches it shut. He walks back over to the convenience store counter]
KAT: How can you be so cruel to people? That poor man just wanted some food.
OLIVER: He was a jerk.
KAT: He was a jerk? What about you?
OLIVER: You played along, angel.
[KAT sits down on the counter a ways from OLIVER, pouting]
KAT: I’m just starting to figure you out, OLIVER. You’ve always been an asshole. From the day I met you, and you told me that story about the chicken farm.
[OLIVER looks down and starts putting away the things he had pulled out to make the burger]
KAT: How you figured out that chickens are so dumb that they will lay paralyzed and stare at a line drawn in the dirt and won’t move until somebody claps. And then you went outside on your grandfather’s chicken farm before anybody was awake and laid all the chickens down all over the yard staring at lines on the ground.
OLIVER: [smirking a little] An anomaly of nature.
KAT: And then your grandfather came outside and thought that his entire stock, his whole farm, his livelihood, his paycheck, was all dead. What did he say to you when he found out? When he started clapping for the dogs and they all woke up?
OLIVER: I didn’t stick around to find out.
KAT: How could you? And your grandfather such a respectable man. That was the ultimate insult, OLIVER. [she pauses, expecting him to say something. He doesn’t] And him being a P.O.W. too. Like he hasn’t suffered enough?
OLIVER: Yeah, Colonel Gentry. The most American American of them all. The most patriotic patriot. Poor little Sam Gentry, walking the Bataan Death March from Corregidor and then stuck in Cabanatuan for three years.
KAT: He survived it all, OLIVER. And then he became a congressman! You should be proud that somebody from your family has such strength, such stamina. You know that a quarter of those poor soldiers died.
OLIVER: Spare me. I know all about the man. More than you know. Well, he’s dead now. So it didn’t matter much that he survived, did it?
KAT: Well you’d never have been born if he didn’t.
KAT: OLIVER! How could you be so cruel? To Colonel Gentry, and to yourself? You’re so cruel! When will you ever get over yourself? You’re living in this fantasy world where the sun never comes up. It does, OLIVER, every morning. You don’t have to live like this.
OLIVER: I don’t have to live at all, for that matter. [He sighs] I’ve heard it all before. You, my mom, Dennis, MR. ROBBOTHAM, everyone else in this stinking town! Colonel Gentry this, Colonel Gentry that, Colonel Gentry messiah.
KAT: What has gotten into you?
OLIVER: [stops working, his hands clenched tight on the counter top] I’m glad the bastard’s dead.[He starts working again]
[ROBBER enters stage left through the front door. The bells on the door ring. ROBBER goes and stands at the counter. OLIVER walks over to the register]
OLIVER: [wearily] What can I get you?
ROBBER: Camel Lights.
[OLIVER turns around to grab a pack of cigarettes from the shelf behind him. While his back is turned, ROBBER pulls out a gun and points it at OLIVER’s head]
ROBBER: Open up the cash register. Slow. No tricks.
[OLIVER slowly turns around with the cigarettes in his hand and his hands in the air]
OLIVER: Calm down, man.
ROBBER: DO IT! NOW!
KAT: [from across the room where she had been partially hidden] Gasp!
[ROBBER wheels around and points the gun at KAT. OLIVER stares for a minute]
ROBBER: Who’s the bitch? [There is a clicking sound as ROBBER cocks his gun]
OLIVER: Cool it, man. She’s fine. I’m getting your money. Just calm down.
[Oliver opens the cash register quickly and starts shoving the money in a paper drive through bag.]
ROBBER: [Still staring at KAT] Hurry up, man. I don’t have all night. [the barrel of the gun starts shaking a little]
OLIVER: Geez, I’m going.
ROBBER: What about the safe?
OLIVER: We don’t have a safe. What, you think this place actually turns a profit?
[OLIVER finishes putting the money in the bag and slowly walks around the counter]
ROBBER: Hey! What the hell are you doing? I didn’t tell you to move!
[OLIVER walks slowly and stops when he is standing between the gun and KAT. KAT is whimpering. He holds the money out.]
KAT: [Weakly] Olly!
ROBBER: Oh, wherefore art thou Romeo? Right?
[ROBBER grabs the money out of OLIVER’s hand]
ROBBER: That was slick, loverboy. You’re lucky I didn’t blow your brains out. I’m outta here.
[ROBBER runs to the fridge, grabs a case of beer, and then runs out, pocketing his gun. The sound of tires squealing. KAT runs into the bathroom (the light turns on) and is sick in the toilet. OLIVER picks up the phone and calls MR. ROBBOTHAM]
OLIVER: [into the phone] Yeah, hey. It’s me. That noise? Nah, it’s nothing. We just got robbed. Yeah. No, it wasn’t Pico. He was here earlier. No, I mean the money. Yeah, the money. The guy had a gun and everything. Real convincing. Alright. [He hangs up. KAT comes out]
[KAT runs across the room to OLIVER and hugs him tightly]
KAT: Oh my God! Did that just happen? Did that really just happen?
[OLIVER breaks the embrace and pushes her away, waving his hand in front of his face to the smell of her breath]
KAT: [Tightening up] What! Is he another regular?
OLIVER: No. I haven’t seen that one before. But I’m sure he’ll be back.
KAT: But Olly, you stepped in front of me!
OLIVER: Guy had a gun. I wasn’t thinking straight.
KAT: Why am I still here? Why did I even come tonight? To convince you to change your ways? To try to get you to m—
OLIVER: He left the door open.
KAT: Maybe I will leave! Maybe I’ll just walk right out of here—
[MR. ROBBOTHAM enters from stage left, the front door, at a decent clip]
MR. ROBBOTHAM: What happened? Oliver, are you alright? How much did he take?
OLIVER: Oh, hey Mr. Robo.
[MR. ROBBOTHAM sees KAT]
MR. ROBBOTHAM: [disapprovingly] What is she doing here, Oliver?
OLIVER: She’s just hanging around.
MR. ROBBOTHAM: This sow does nothing but hang around this store at night, and she never even buys anything! [MR. ROBBOTHAM turns to face KAT] You are loitering, ma’am.
OLIVER: I buy her things.
MR. ROBBOTHAM and KAT: [together] You do?
OLIVER: Sometimes. [he picks up a box of Cracker Jacks off the shelf and hands it to KAT. He takes a dollar out of his wallet and gives it to MR. ROBBOTHAM.]
KAT: I’m allergic to peanuts…
OLIVER: [Still staring at Mr. ROBBOTHAM] Shut up.
MR. ROBBOTHAM: [pocketing the dollar, but shaking his head in frustration] Well [he gives a long sigh] I guess it’s better than the empty cash drawer. You know, none of this would have happened if the Colonel was here. [MR. ROBBOTHAM turns and walks over to the cash register, opens it, looks at Oliver’s notes, and then leaves]
OLIVER: KAT, I got work to do.
KAT: What? But Ollie, you were being so sweet to me. [She sidles over to him]
OLIVER: [pulls out an air freshener can and sprays it in her direction] Nah, I just wanted you to leave with some dignity.
KAT: How do I keep falling for this? Oh my God! You’ll never change, will you? What happened to you to make you like this? This is not normal, Oliver. You’re—not–normal! Obviously something very bad happened to you. Will you never tell me what it is?
OLIVER: It doesn’t matter if I do or if I don’t.
KAT: Well, then tell me!
KAT: Jesus, Oliver, why are you running from the truth?
OLIVER: The truth? You want to know what the truth is? The truth is what everyone else will believe. That’s what the truth is. It’s the official story. If they won’t believe it, if they don’t want to believe it, it’s not the truth. So you might as well try as hard as you can to believe the truth too, or you’re left a ghost that no else can see but you. The truth is that Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. The truth is that Pearl Harbor couldn’t have been prevented. The truth is that my grandfather was a saint, and a great American. That’s the truth. A damn saint.
KAT: What does any of this have to do with the Colonel?
OLIVER: It doesn’t.
KAT: Well then what are you even talking about?
OLIVER: Ghosts. [OLIVER starts dusting the Lotto machine with a rag]
KAT: You know, Oliver, your eye is stuck on a line, just like those damn chickens. But you won’t tell anyone what will wake you up. Not me, not your mom, nobody. What’s the secret, OLIVER? How do I get you to stop playing dead?
OLIVER: [stops cleaning and looks at her, dead on] Me? I’m just a ghost. I’ve been dead for twenty years. And you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. Go find the Colonel and ask him. Maybe he’ll tell you.
KAT: He’s dead, OLIVER. [OLIVER remains silent. She pauses. Sadly] Is there no way to wake you up?
OLIVER: The truth is what you make it, KAT. You figure it out.
[OLIVER takes off his apron, hangs it delicately on the cash register, and then grabs a case of beer out of the fridge and walks out the door]