Mr Vice Guy by Curus Keel (critique requested)

Mr. Vice Guy - A One Act Surprise
Curus Keel - 2015

SCENE: Convenience store within an unspecified metropolitan city. Jennifer, a woman in her thirties, is buying a soda and a bag of chips. She brings them up to the cashier/clerk, John, who is fairly handsome and in his twenties.

JOHN
That will be two dollars, please.
JENNIFER
Here you go. My son would love to have this, he’s been nagging me all day for it. Thanks, and be sure to have a nice day.

(Jennifer leaves the set. As soon as she is out, John sighs. Steve, a man in his forties, enters the store and approaches John.)

STEVE
John, how are you doing?
JOHN
I’m fine, but I’m also hungry. Really want to get custard and a burger from somewhere.
STEVE
Well, my shift starts in ten minutes. I’m sure you can hang in there a little longer. All I’m asking is to just be a little more patient. You never know what can happen.
JOHN
Fine. I’ll wait. Though, I noticed something weird earlier today.
STEVE
Oh?
JOHN
Well, there was this young man with a blue hoodie, a blue bandana, and bright red and yellow sneakers. Weirdly noticeable. He walked around the store, examining every part of the shop, and then decided to leave, without buying anything. I thought it was a customer who had a real tough time deciding whether to get anything at first, though on reflection, it does seem weird.
STEVE
Or he could have been looking for our bathroom. I’ve seen other customers do that from time to time.
JOHN
Could be. Didn’t look like he badly needed to go, but I guess I shouldn’t discount it right away.
(Steve chuckles a little at John’s unintentional pun.)
STEVE
I guess we really should make the bathroom more visible to others.
(A young man with a blue hoodie, blue bandana, and bright red and yellow sneakers walks in. He beelines towards the cases of beer.)
JOHN
I don’t think that’s needed.
(The man grabs two cases and attempts to head off the set. Steve and John notice.)
STEVE
Wait! What are you doing?
JOHN
Stop, thief! Drop the cases of beer, and put your hands up where I can see them!

(Surprisingly, the man, who is known as James, actually complies to John’s demand. He then looks directly at John.)

JAMES
Shit. I was going to rob this place, but I know you.
JOHN
Wait… you… you actually know me?
JAMES
Yes. Do you know me?
JOHN
No… no, no I do not know you. Please put the case of beer back where it was before.
JAMES
Good. You don’t even have to ask.
(James places the case of beer back where it was before, and walks out of the set, giving a thumbs-up back to John)
JOHN
Th… thanks?
STEVE
This apparently was a thing that just happened. A would-be robber recognizes you and then decides to forget it and just head straight of out this store. Is he going to try his luck with another place? Who knows. But let me get this straight: Do you actually know this person?
JOHN
Not really. I’ve only met him earlier in this store. Now that I think about it, he actually went and had a rather polite conversation with me. Seemed to be a nice enough guy, if a bit obsessed with beer and somewhat down on his luck. I just… well, I don’t know. To be honest.
STEVE
Should we call the cops?
JOHN
No. If he ends up being just a mere robber, he will be caught. If he is a truly good person at heart, then he won’t. Besides, he didn’t actually rob this store, so if
JOHN
Ah well. I need something to tide me over. Especially after what’s happened today.
STEVE
Sure. Just make sure you pay for it yourself.
JOHN
Right.

(John rings up a candy bar in the register.)

STEVE
That will be a dollar and fifty-three cents.

(John gives that exact amount to Steve. John leans against a wall and tried to relax, though he look very surprised.)

JOHN
Steve, after all of this, I practically deserve the biggest thing of custard. It feels like so much has happened today, and I feel we’ve got a very weird story to tell. This… this Mr. Vice Guy, I was not expecting something like him to come and act like he did. Hooo boy.
STEVE
Do tell the story. Maybe someone will make a short movie, a short story, or even a play about it.

(John laughs, feeling completely relaxed by now)

JOHN
We’ll see. I’m sure anything can happen.

(Police sirens start in the background, getting increasingly louder.)

BOTH
What’s going on?

(Jenifer and a policeman from earlier enter the set)

POLICEMAN
This woman, Jennifer Benner, reported that a man wearing red and yellow sneakers, a blue hoodie, and a blue bandana, who we later identified as James Hopkins, entered a pharmacy and got caught when he attempted to steal two cases of beer there. She says that a man matching the same description as Hopkins was earlier seen in this location. Do any of you know about this man?
JOHN
Well, yes, he was here. Tried to take two cases of beer, but decided not to because he recognized me. Asked if I knew him, then left with a thumbs up and nothing else.
POLICEMAN
Interesting. Do you actually know this man?
JOHN
No.. not personally, no. I’ve only seen him today. He first went to survey the store, and then returned in order to actually try and take the cases of beer. He didn’t go through with it, obviously.
POLICEMAN
Good. Have a nice day.

(The policeman leaves)

JENNIFER
Here, John. For your trouble.

(Jennifer hands John some money)

JOHN
I’m honored. But how did you know my name?
JENNIFER
I’m a frequent and friendly customer. And as the cop said, my name is Jennifer. Please use this money to get the custard that you deserve.
JOHN
Why, thank you, Jennifer. Say, it is the end of my shift. And I have to say, these were the most interesting ten minutes of my life. Steve, see you. And everyone, have a nice day.
JENNIFER and STEVE
You too, John. Have a nice day.
JOHN
And Jennifer, this is for you.

(John hands over his candy bar to Jennifer)

JENNIFER
Thanks!
JOHN
You are most certainly welcome. Thanks again for the money.

(John leaves, and gives both the others a thumbs-up. Steve smiles at that gesture, then turns back to Jennifer.)

STEVE
While you are here, would you like to get anything?
JENNIFER
Yes, my daughter really wants a soda and a bag of chips.

(Lights darken. End of play.)

Mr Vice Guy (critique requested)

Curus Keel

18 July 2016 at 14:01:17 MDT

This was a blast from the past and something that predates my active involvement in the furry community. Originally written during March 2015 and loosely based on a real news story, this one-act play was the most substantial thing to come out from that class by far.

Though it was entered into a local school competition to get read out by actual stage actors in the area, the play only got a runner-up position. Still, it is worth sharing to the site even if it's unrelated to the general content here.

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  • Link

    This feels artificial.

    • Link

      How so? Anything specific about this that makes it feel artificial?

      • Link

        "No. If he ends up being just a mere robber, he will be caught. If he is a truly good person at heart, then he won’t. Besides, he didn’t actually rob this store, so if"

        The wording of this feels robotic in particular, along with the description of the robber.
        I dont feel immersed.

        • Link

          Hmm, alright. Good to know.

          I'm not sure if and when I'll do a revision of this piece. IIRC, the section you extracted from was one of the last minute additions to the whole thing altogether. In retrospect, a second pass over.

          Also, heh, didn't realize I cut off some text in this when transferring it over. Will fix.

          • Link

            ...Actually, for whatever reason earlier me did not expand on the sentence at all, so... I don't know what's up there.

            If I get around to revising this I'll try and fix this issue.