A Series of One-Act Plays: Twisted

03155_114Setting: A large chain grocery store in a poor part of a minor city. It is early afternoon on a late spring day, where the heat outside has forced most shoppers to wear shorts. The scene opens at the checkout lanes. Three of the lanes are staffed, but there are lines at all three. A middle-aged woman, by the name of Polly, with greasy hair and plaid shorts is on her cell phone as she arrives at the front of the express lane. Two items sit on the conveyor belt: a Twisted Tea can, still cold from the cooler, and a small bag of cat food.

Curtains open.

Polly: (talking into phone) No, really. This heat is gonna kill me. I’m sweating and I’m not even outside right now!

Cashier: I’m going to need to see some ID. You know, for the tea.

Polly: (still talking into phone) Yeah, I’ll be there soon. I gotta go. I’m checking out.

Cashier: I need to see your ID. For the tea.

Polly: (getting out her pocketbook) Um, yeah, I don’t know where my license is. Let me look for it.

[She pretends to look for the license, rifling through the pocketbook, including its pockets, but the search is rudimentary. The license is not in the bag. She keeps looking back at the cashier as if to ask a question, but says nothing.]

Cashier: (speaking into storewide intercom) Manager to lane 9. Manager to lane 9.

Polly: No, it’s okay. I just can’t find my license. It’s gotta be around here somewhere but I can’t find it. I’ll just leave the tea. But it’s so hot…

[She trails off at the end, as if waiting for an answer. The manager shows up at the end of the lane, but the cashier waves her off.]

Cashier: (speaking to the manager) We’re all good now. Sorry.

Polly: How much for the cat food?

Cashier: (scanning Twisted Tea) What’s your birthday?

Polly: 4/28/75.

Cashier: Four what?

Polly: 28/75. And thank you so much. I know I’ll find my license sometime. It’s got to be in here somewhere.

[She makes a big show of holding the pocketbook wide open and gazing down into its cavernous depths, then shakes her head like she’s mystified. She looks up at the tall, black guy behind her in line, who has been waiting patiently throughout the whole exchange.]

Polly: (speaking to the next guy in line, whose name is Gary) I’m sorry, dude. You know, for making you wait and stuff. It’s just so hot out there.

Gary: It’s all good. It’s not like I’m late for an appointment or anything.

[His tone is a sarcastic one, and Polly doesn’t miss it. She looks away, embarrassed, packages up her two items, and leaves the store. The cashier smiles at Gary, a knowing smile that both apologizes for her part in the delay and shows appreciation for his sarcasm. She slides his items over the register scanner as he looks out the large window into the parking lot, where Polly is standing next to a rusted out black car guzzling her Twisted Tea, the bag of cat food on the ground at her feet. He smirks, then gathers his own purchases, thanks the cashier, and heads in the same direction she just went.]

Curtains close.

Sam

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