This piece is a runner up in The River’s 2018 Dramatic Works Contest.
by Hannah Calkin
ALLISON MILLS: Late 20s. Plain, eccentric, anxious.
JASON FISHER: Mid 20s. Attractive, sly, immature.
OFFICER DANIELS: Early 40s. Burly, gruff, frank.
LANDLADY: Late 50s. Petite, soft-spoken, honest.
Outside apartment building.
[Exterior door to a shabby apartment building. ALLISON MILLS, dressed for a fancy wedding and carrying an extravagantly wrapped present, clearly a large bottle of wine/champagne and JASON FISHER, dressed casually save for a tie, appear in front of the door. ALLISON closes it, the click is heard.]
JASON: [gesturing to the present in ALLISON’s arm] Y’know I’d never drop two-hundred bucks on a wedding present.
[The pair make their way down the steps and across the stage while they converse.]
ALLISON: Hey, you know how important this is.
JASON: Of course I do.
ALLISON: Evelyn and I may have lost contact over the years, but she’s still my sister and now she’s marrying the COO of a bank. Her crowd is probably buying her gold chandeliers and stuff. They see I can afford an expensive gift, they might accept me. It’ll work, I promise you that.
[JASON stops and places his hand on ALLISON’s shoulder.]
JASON: Don’t try so hard to impress them. You don’t even know them yet. Who knows, Evelyn could have shit for friends. Focus on being there for her.
[ALLISON brushes his hand off.]
ALLISON: I’m know, I know. It’s not just about having friends. I want to have friends who respect me. And I don’t think they’ll respect me unless I can afford what they can. Oh!
[She shoves the present into JASON’s arms and starts frantically searching through her purse.]
ALLISON: Oh shit. The keys. I left them on the counter.
JASON: Shit, again?
ALLISON: [still searching through her purse] Yes, again.
JASON: You just did this last month.
ALLISON: Stop bringing that up!
JASON: Alright, alright. Sorry. Let’s just buzz Mrs. Evans when we get back.
ALLISON: No, no, no. Our door isn’t locked! Someone can easily break in and steal everything! We’re going back in and getting them now.
[ALLISON grabs the present back and turns and marches to the door. JASON shakes his head but follows. ALLISON dials a neighbor. Buzzing is heard. Nobody answers.]
JASON: C’mon. You think they’re gonna be all accepting if we show up late?
[Buzzing continues. Still no answer. She smacks her hand on the door in frustration.]
ALLISON: Shit. Nobody’s answering.
JASON: [growing more irritated] Well then maybe it’s time to get a move on? Christ, you didn’t even give me directions to where we’re going.
ALLISON: I told you I know where it is. Just–
[ALLISON breaks off, places her purse and the present on the ground. She starts pulling on the doorknob, rattling and shaking it.]
JASON: What the hell are you doing? That won’t do shit.
ALLISON: Maybe it’s only halfway locked and with a little gentle nudging it will–
JASON: Can we please just go?
ALLISON: [shouting] I said I’m getting this door open–
[The doorknob breaks off and smacks ALLISON in the face. She yelps in pain. JASON rushes to her side.]
JASON: Ah, shit! Move your hand.
JASON: Please, move your hand!
ALLISON: I can’t! My tooth will fall out.
JASON: Your tooth– Oh Christ. C’mon. You gotta let me see. Hold on, I’ll call 9-1-1.
ALLISON: No! Give me your tie.
[JASON stops himself, knowing better than to argue further with her. He hastily removes his tie and tries to press it to ALLISON’s face.]
ALLISON: Ow ow!
[JASON retracts his hand.]
ALLISON: Just let me do it.
[ALLISON snatches the tie away and holds it to her mouth, wiping away the blood. JASON watches.]
JASON: [awkwardly] Ready to go now?
ALLISON: No! I swear I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get this door open.
[Suddenly, JASON starts kicking and shoving on the door. The door breaks off its hinges and falls. ALLISON and JASON freeze for a moment before reality sinks in.]
ALLISON: Oh my god. You broke the door.
JASON: Shut up.
ALLISON: No. You broke the door. You actually broke the door!
JASON: Well now you can go get the fucking keys!
[ALLISON finally takes her hand away from her face. There is blood on her hand and mouth. She looks at her hand.]
ALLISON: It’s only chipped.
JASON: Let me see.
ALLISON: No, no, I said it’s fine. You were right– we’ll be late. Oh god, what are we gonna do? The door– the keys! If I get the keys now, get this cleaned up, how late– oh god, we’ll have to pay for this? Am I gonna have to return Evelyn’s present? How expensive will it be–
JASON: [putting his hands on her shoulders] Get the keys. There’s tissues in the car. You smile with your mouth closed, don’t say too much, nobody’ll suspect a thing.
ALLISON: [composing herself] The keys.
JASON: The keys, yeah?
ALLISON: Yes. I’ll just– I’ll go now. You know, just wait out here. I’ll be back with them. You will try to fix it, right? Anyone could just walk in and steal things– what if someone gets hurt?
JASON: I’ll call someone. Say it was an accident. Accidents happen all the time, right?
ALLISON: Maybe not all the time. It depends on your intentions. I was trying to open the door, you were trying to bash it off its hinges.
JASON: Oh god forbid I try and do something for you! Care to express your gratitude?
ALLISON: No, thank you.
JASON: For god’s sake, I said I’d fix it. Will you just go get the keys?
[ALLISON prepares to go inside but is interrupted by OFFICER DANIELS]
OFFICER DANIELS: [from offstage] Stop right there please ma’am!
[ALLISON and JASON both stop and look in the direction of the voice. OFFICER DANIELS enters and approaches the couple. ALLISON smiles in relief and meets him halfway.]
ALLISON: Sir! Can you help us? We’ve been trying to get back in and we just– we had a little accident here–
OFFICER DANIELS: Ma’am, I’m here to arrest you.
JASON: Oh, Christ.
[JASON covers his face with his hands and paces around in circles.]
ALLISON: What? Oh! Is it this? [picking up the present and holding it in the air] But– I’m not drinking and driving or anything. I mean, I’m about to drive. And I’m going to a wedding and I’ll be drinking there but he’ll be driving back and he doesn’t drink so that’s fine.
JASON: He’s talking about the fucking door!
OFFICER DANIELS: You see ma’am, when two people such as yourselves loiter around the entrance of a building with a beaten-down door, it’s kinda grounds for suspicion, wouldn’t you think? Now, I’m gonna need both of your names.
[OFFICER DANIELS takes out a pen and paper.]
ALLISON: [looking to JASON for help] But sir, we live here.
JASON: My name is Jason Fisher. She’s Allison Mills. She lives here, I don’t.
ALLISON: No, this is absolutely ridiculous. This is my apartment! I pay rent, I pay for laundry, electricity–
OFFICER DANIELS: I’ll need some proof of that.
[ALLISON reaches for her purse, then stops.]
ALLISON: My keys are inside. Sir, that’s why we tried to–
[She trails off, gesturing helplessly at the broken door.]
OFFICER DANIELS: What I’m guessing you’re trying to tell me, is that you forgot your keys, and that’s why you broke in?
ALLISON: [smiling] Yes, that’s exactly it.
OFFICER DANIELS: Why didn’t you call your landlord?
ALLISON: Well we were going to a wedding and I wanted to get the keys so we could get back in when–
OFFICER DANIELS: Why not just take care of it when you got home? Not like your keys would march off anywhere.
JASON: Exactly, exactly! That’s exactly what I kept fucking telling her.
OFFICER DANIELS: Besides, everybody’s late to weddings. Even their own. [to ALLISON] Can you tell me what happened to your face there?
JASON: Doorknob gave her a good wack. Took care of that thing all on her own.
OFFICER DANIELS: [gesturing to the broken door] She did all that?
JASON: We both did.
[ALLISON sputters. She is too stunned to respond. OFFICER DANIELS gauges her reaction.]
OFFICER DANIELS: I’ve gotta call the station. You two try to hold still for a minute.
[OFFICER DANIELS steps away from them but not enough to let them out of his sight. He is seen making a phone call but not heard. ALLISON and JASON don’t look or speak to each other for a moment. It is tense and awkward.]
ALLISON: You know this is about the time I’d want a cigarette.
JASON: You’re telling me.
ALLISON: I’m telling you because I’d like to shove it up your nose. What if he doesn’t let us go? What if this takes hours to sort out? I’ll never get to meet Evelyn’s friends and it’ll be all your fault.
JASON: My fault–
[OFFICER DANIELS hangs up the phone, turns back to the couple.]
OFFICER DANIELS: Alright, here’s the deal. Since I didn’t catch you in the act, you’re not going to jail. Not just yet. I’m gonna get in touch with the landlord here. He or she recognizes you two, you’re not going behind bars, but it’s likely that you’ll have to pay for the damages.
JASON: Thank you, thank you Officer.
ALLISON: You know, I’m really sorry, but I have to interject. We are not criminals, you get that? I’ll prove it to you. I received a college diploma from Yale. That’s right, Yale. I have a website. You can look me up on the internet. You see how I’m dressed? Why would someone dressed like me break into a building with bird shit all over the windows? What would a person like me would want to break into a place where gutter rats live when all I want is to get my fucking keys and go to a wedding?
OFFICER DANIELS: Ma’am, I’ve got some protocols to follow. Now this has nothing to do with the job, but I couldn’t walk on by when you two could be planning to kill some poor soul in good conscience. Normally I’d go a little “rogue” and let this shit slide, but since you can’t seem to stop running your mouth, I’m starting to get suspicious.
ALLISON: Screw this.
[She picks up the present and tears at the wrapping paper.]
JASON: What the hell?
ALLISON: [holding up the champagne] I don’t have any cigarettes. And it doesn’t look like we’re gonna be getting to the wedding anytime soon, if at all, so in that case, she won’t be missing it.
[She sits down on the steps, and uses the bottle opener still in the wrapping paper to open the champagne. JASON shakes his head. OFFICER DANIELS’ phone rings. He answers it. His dialogue is once again unheard.]
JASON: Gimme some.
[ALLISON takes a large gulp of the champagne.]
ALLISON: Wasn’t your money that paid for it.
JASON: You have to tell Evelyn that we’re gonna be late.
[ALLISON stands up, keeping the champagne tucked close to her body. She approaches OFFICER DANIELS who is just hanging up his phone. She opens her mouth to speak but he cuts her off.]
OFFICER DANIELS: Any guess as to how many people live here?
ALLISON: I-I hardly see any neighbors. I’m guessing most work, but, others are just bums who never leave. How much longer do we have to wait here?
OFFICER DANIELS: I have my station trying to get in touch with your landland, then we’ll see from there.
ALLISON: [feigning sweetness] May I make a phone-call?
OFFICER DANIELS: Nothing I can do to stop you.
[ALLISON pushes past OFFICER DANIELS, who still keeps an eye on her while she makes the phone-call. JASON sinks onto the front steps and hangs his head between his legs.]
ALLISON: Evie? Hey– Uh, no– No, not yet. We haven’t left yet. I know, I know, I am so, so so sorry. I– I’m really not sure. I can explain later, but– [taking another gulp of champagne] look, we’re being held by the police right now. [pause] Fuck, I don’t know how to tell you this, you’re gonna freak out.
[JASON stands up and walks towards ALLISON, close enough to overhear her conversation but not close enough for her to know he’s there.]
No of course we didn’t do anything! There was a robbery. [beat] No, just an attempted one. We’re not hurt. No, nobody’s hurt. Someone broke in but I called the police, and since we’re technically “witnesses” we have to stay, and they’re not telling us anything. Mhmm. Mhmm. [taking another gulp of champagne] Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m I’ve been begging him to let us go but they won’t let us go until all the questioning is complete– or something. [pause] So, I just don’t know. Evie, you know I’d give anything to be there. I just don’t know– Yeah. Yes. I know. I will. I love you too. Bye.
[ALLISON hangs up the phone and sighs, relieved.]
JASON: I’m not going to move in with you.
JASON: It’s done. Don’t say anything.
[JASON turns away from her and walks back to At that moment, LANDLADY enters through the broken doorway and takes in the scene.]
LANDLADY: Officer Daniels?
OFFICER DANIELS: Ma’am.
[They shake hands.]
OFFICER DANIELS: Do you recognize either of these two as your residents?
LANDLADY: Oh, Officer, this is nothing. That time she went out to pick up a package, she’d been in the shower, you know, figuring she’s just going to lean out the door and scoop it up, and she fell over, she’s got nothing on but a towel and she locked herself out! Did she tell you about graduating from Yale? She tells everybody she graduated from Yale. She locks herself out naked and now this. Apparently it doesn’t take much to graduate from Yale.
[ALLISON smiles, relieved and embarrassed at her honesty. She moves in close to JASON.]
OFFICER DANIELS: Locked yourself out naked, huh?
ALLISON: See? Not a criminal.
JASON: [to LANDLADY] I broke the door down. She didn’t have anything to do with it. It was all me. I’m fully responsible.
LANDLADY: Oh, well, of course I’ll have to press charges, but thank you for your honesty, young man.
OFFICER DANIELS: [to LANDLADY] We’ll be in touch about reparations.
[JASON holds his hands up to OFFICER DANIELS who leads him offstage.]
ALLISON: Wait! Are you kidding? He was my wedding date.
[Lights fade to black on ALLISON, standing alone.]
About the Author:
Hannah Calkin was born and raised by the coast of southern Maine. She is currently attending the University of Maine at Farmington and majoring in Creative Writing. This past summer she interned with Unwritten Roads, a multi-genre writing, art, and filmmaking camp based in the Portland area and worked closely with many enthusiastic and creative young students. She is currently an intern at Alice James Books and is working on completing an original poetry manuscript, titled “Pomegranate Odyssey.” Some of her favorite things include cats, boats, and Disney tunes. Following graduation, she hopes to settle down in Portland and work in a children’s library.