INT. FRAME SHOP: AT THE COUNTER. A customer (BILL) talks on his cel phone while he waits for the proprietor.
BILL (ON HIS CEL PHONE): "I'm in a frame store! You're not going to believe what happened! I found the perfect frame for that piece. It's green and looks like laminated cow skin. The only problem was the price: $300! That's more than I paid for the artwork! Anyway, the clerk orders it for me, and I put half the money down.
No, wait! There's more! I walk across the street and, lo and behold, I find another frame store that sells the exact same frame for half the price. I couldn't believe it! Half the price! So I ran back here to the original store to get my money back, only it occurs to me that they might not want to give it to me, so I make up a story. Yeah, a story. You're going to die when you hear it! It's brilliant! It should be on a pedestal in the Museum of Excuses. Wait a minute....here comes the guy who runs the place. I gotta go!"
He pockets the phone.
PROPRIETOR: "Hey! You just bought a frame. Don't tell me you want another one already!"
BILL: "Well, not exactly. See, what happened is...I got a parking ticket while I was in here. It's expensive, so...I hate to say it...I won't be able to buy the frame I was going to buy. I just can't afford it now."
PROPRIETOR: "Geez, that's too bad! It was a nice frame."
BILL: "Yeah. It's turning out to be one of those days."
PROPRIETOR: "How much was it for?
BILL: "How much was what for?"
PROPRIETOR: "The parking ticket. How much was it for?"
BILL: "Oh yeah, the ticket...it was, um, er...three hundred dollars."
PROPRIETOR: "THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!??" It's not supposed to be $300 here! This is Santa Monica. Two hundred and fifty is what you get for a ticket here!"
BILL: "Oh. Well, I could be mista..."
PROPRIETOR: "Let me ask my partner. DAVE, COME OUT HERE FOR A MINUTE!"
DAVE comes out with a big roll of plastic in his arms. He puts it down.
DAVE: "Bubble wrap. I'm making a place for it in the back. What can I do you for?"
PROPRIETOR: "It's not for me, it's for him. This guy just got a parking ticket for 300 bucks."
DAVE: "THREE HUNDRED BUCKS!!??? It's never three hundred in Santa Monica! It's 250! Everybody knows that! Do you know what that means?"
BILL: "Wait a minute, if you're trying to imply that I'm not telling the t..."
DAVE (TO THE PROPRIETOR): "That means fifty bucks for the cop!"
PROPRIETOR: "Yep, fifty bucks! If he does 10 of those in a day, that's $500 a day."
DAVE: "$2,500 a week!"
PROPRIETOR: (on a calculator) "That's $125,000 a year! That's a felony!"
BILL: "Well, I..."
DAVE: "Man, I hate to hear stuff like this! It really eats at me, ya know? It just tears my guts out! One dirty cop ruins it for everybody! Santa Monica's a good town, and it deserves better than this. I'm gonna take this up with the city council!"
BILL: "Well, there's no use bothering the city councilmen..."
DAVE: "Whaddaya mean? I AM A CITY COUNCILMAN! Lemme see the ticket."
BILL: "The ticket?"
DAVE, PROPRIETOR (TOGETHER): "The parking ticket!"
BILL: "Well...well...er...um, the cop took it away. I just gave him a check."
PROPRIETOR: "What!!?? A check??? He took a CHECK from you???""
DAVE: "Whoa! Hold on! He's not supposed to take a check from you. He's not supposed to handle any money at all! Geeeez! This is big! The police here get federal money. That means the F.B.I.'s gonna get involved!"
PROPRIETOR: "Congress, maybe! People are gonna get sent up for this!"
He reaches for the phone.
BILL: "What are you doing!?"
PROPRIETOR: "I'm gonna call the feds."
BILL (MORTIFIED): "No, no, wait!...put the phone down...
DAVE: "This is no time to be kind, sir! This guy's gotta go down!"
BILL: "PLEASE!!!! Just put the phone down!"
BILL: "I um...well, I might as well just...spit it out. I, uh.... I found a place across the street that sells the same frame for half the price. You charge $300 and they charge 150 for the same thing. I... just...wanted...to........to.... well...get-the-money-back-so-I-could-buy-it-from-them-instead. There, I said it."
AN AWKWARD MOMENT as all three stare at the floor in silence, then....
DAVE: "I gotta put this bubble wrap away!"
PROPRIETOR: "Aw, that wasn't nice."
BILL: "Look, I'm really sorry. Tell you what. I'll still take the frame from you. I gave you half before, and I'll pay you the rest now. You don't have to wait til the order comes in. It's the least I can do. "
PROPRIETOR: "Alright. I'll write up a receipt......here."
BILL: "Wait a minute! This for $400. That's a hundred dollars extra. It says here that you're giving me gold wire and platinum nails. I didn't ask for that!"
PROPRIETOR (LOOKS BILL IN THE EYE): "Sure you did."
DAVE (AFTER A BEAT, RESIGNED): "(sigh!) Sure I did."
BILL, broken, slowly folds the receipt and puts it in his wallet. Just as he does, a nervous woman enters.
WOMAN (TO PROPRIETOR): "Um, I was in here a little while ago and ordered a frame. I hate to ask for this, but I need my down payment back. The doctor just said that my poor mother is sick. She's...um...throwing up constantly. We'll need the money for medicine."
PROPRIETOR: "Gee, that's a shame. What kind of sickness does she have?"
WOMAN: "What kind? Er...well, um...rheumatism."
PROPRIETOR: "Rheumatism!!!?? Nobody throws up over rheumatism! Who is this doctor? Who did he tell you he was? Maybe he's a not a real doctor! Geez, I hate to see people get cheated! Let me ask my partner about this. DAVE, CAN YOU COME OUT HERE FOR A MINUTE!!???"
The play is copyright 2010 by Eddie Fitzgerald. Anyone can use it for non-commercial purposes without asking, as long as the authorship is attached.