TOUCH Act I, Scene 3

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(Lights up on an alley set. A man is perched on top of a dumpster with a hood pulled low over his face. He is the DEALER. The ENFORCER enters, approaches the dumpster, and taps the side of it with his night stick.)

DEALER: Can I help you, officer?

ENFORCER: Yeah. Didn't I tell you to leave a few hours ago?

DEALER: (Ever the charmer) Oh, I’m terribly sorry. You did indeed. Forgive me for not heeding your instructions. I would’ve moved on right away, if only it weren’t for my leg…

ENFORCER: What's wrong with your leg?

DEALER: War wound, sir. The pain flares up right before a big storm. (Looking up at the sky) Look at that. Dark clouds. Just as I thought.

ENFORCER: Can you put weight on it? The leg, I mean.

DEALER: A little, but it's awful. (Laying it on thick) People ask me if I would've gone to war knowing I'd come out like this. Of course I would have, I tell them. I wanted to serve my country. I would've gladly taken a bullet through the heart while protecting this nation. I feel blessed to have only been shot in the leg. (Sighing) What about you, officer? Are you a veteran?

ENFORCER: Oh, yes. It's nice to meet a fellow soldier.

DEALER: Likewise. (He salutes. The ENFORCER salutes back.)

ENFORCER: (Smiling) Tell you what, pal--why don't we pretend I never told you to leave? There's no point irritating your injury on a night like this. The streets are empty, so you won't be bothering anyone. The weather looks rough, though. Try to stay dry. (He waves and exits.)

DEALER: Thank you, officer. God bless you! (After the ENFORCER is offstage, the DEALER hops down from the dumpster, pushing his hood back.) Sucker. (The SEEKER and the ADDICT enter, catching the DEALER's attention.)

DEALER (Continued): Ladies, welcome. What brings you two to my neck of the woods?

ADDICT: I know that voice.

DEALER: Yes, you do. Don't say my name. (He walks over to the ADDICT, taking her hand off the SEEKER's and putting it on his own. He covers her hand with his, and she leans into him.) Let me guess, my dear, you want the usual?

ADDICT: Yes.

DEALER: (Looking at the SEEKER) What about your pretty friend? What does she want from me?

SEEKER: (Defensive) Nothing.

DEALER: (Laughing) Yeah, we'll see about that. Do you know who I am?

SEEKER: I can guess. You're a dealer.

DEALER: Smart girl. (He winks and focuses on the ADDICT. She reaches into her pocket, takes out a few bills, and puts them in his hand.) Perfect. (He counts the money and puts it away. Satisfied, he takes the ADDICT by the shoulders and pulls her into a hug. The SEEKER gasps, but the pair ignores her. The hug lingers for several moments. The ADDICT reciprocates the embrace, swaying slightly. She touches the DEALER's cheek. He breaks the contact abruptly, taking several steps backward.) You get what you pay for. No more. You know that.

ADDICT: Please, I need contact. Just touch my face.

DEALER: (Firmly) Can you afford that?

ADDICT: Please. (She lunges forward and he jumps back. She nearly topples over. The SEEKER rushes over to help her but the DEALER shakes his head.)

DEALER: That trick is getting old, my dear. We know you're not that clumsy. (She sinks to her knees.)

DEALER (Continued): Get up now. You're wasting my time. If you don't have any money, I can't give you what you want.

ADDICT: One touch, please. Just one more.

DEALER: Don't make me call the cops.

ADDICT: You wouldn't do that. They'd arrest you.

DEALER: They love me. Granted, they don't know what I do, but the adore me. (To the ADDICT) Go on. Get out of here. I'm sick of looking at you. (The ADDICT buries her face in her hands, ashamed. She stands and exits without looking back. The SEEKER is conflicted. She neither advances toward nor retreats from the charismatic DEALER. He, on the other hand, comes closer to her. When he speaks again, his voice is warmer.)

DEALER (Continued): What about you, sweetheart? You want something from me? First one's free for beautiful new customers like you.

SEEKER: I-I don't know. I don't think I should.

DEALER: That's the problem. You're thinking. You don't need to think, honey. That's what I'm here for. (He takes another step forward, holding a hand out to her. She reaches toward him but draws her hand back at the last second.)

SEEKER: I'm sorry. I can't. I have to go home.

DEALER: Disappointing, but I understand. Rain check?

SEEKER: Sure thing.

(She exits. The DEALER looks offstage after her for a moment. Then, he smiles to himself, leans against the dumpster, and hums to himself. Lights fade.)

To Be Continued...

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Thanks for reading my work!

Come back tomorrow for another installment of Touch, which I'm updating every weekday, and make sure you're following along with the blog and on Twitter so you don't miss an update!

If you enjoy my writing, consider reading my novel Blood and Water--you can read more about it here.

-Briana Morgan