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Championship parade

By RACHEL HODGES
STATIC and FEEDBACK editor

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of three plays.

As the curtain opens, the stage is divided into two separate areas. Upstage left sits a desk angled towards the audience, covered in a variety of papers and a computer. Behind the desk a poster is suspended displaying the warning “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose.” A few feet towards center stage sits a lone door without walls surrounding it. The door should be angled towards downstage right, matching the angle of the desk. Mitt Coidrey, a plainclothes police officer in his mid-forties, sits shuffling papers at the desk. He is wearing a short sleeved white button-down shirt, a red and possibly stained tie, and khaki pants that are slightly too tight over his paunch. There is nothing attractive about this man. After a moment, Jeff enters from downstage right. He is about 21 years old and is dressed in jeans and a polo shirt. He walks through the door and approaches Coidrey’s desk. As he approaches, Coidrey refuses to look up or acknowledge his presence.

JEFF: Excuse me? Is this where I appeal parking tickets?

COIDREY: What can I do for you?

Meanwhile, Katie, about 20 years old, enters from downstage right, where she stands waiting. She is wearing a tight Boston Bruins t-shirt, tight jeans, with her hair arranged loosely around her face. Periodically, she pulls a cell phone out of her back pocket, clearly checking the time.

JEFF: Well, I was given a ticket for parking in a permit parking area without a permit, but I had a guest permit sitting in the windshield.

COIDREY: (Still without looking up.) Which side of the car was it on?

JEFF: Um, I guess it was on the passenger side.

COIDREY: Well, our officers look for the permit on the driver’s side, as it says on the permit. Next time do it right.

JEFF: (Disbelieving.) But it was still in the windshield of my car. It was impossible to miss.

COIDREY: Obviously not, since somebody missed it. Pay the ticket. I have other appointments to take today.

JEFF: Are you kidding? C’mon, this is ridiculous. Can’t you make just one exception?

COIDREY: The permit is clearly marked. Go outside and pay at the front desk.

Jeff storms out through the door and past Katie, exiting down stage right. Katie checks her phone again and enters through the door. As she nears his desk, Coidrey sees her and stands abruptly, grinning hugely. As their dialogue begins, they remain standing awkwardly and at an uncomfortable distance. They are both extremely flirtatious, although Katie is significantly less sincere about it.

COIDREY: There’s my little hockey fan! How you doing sweetheart?

KATIE: Hi, Officer Coidrey. I’m alright… I’d be doing better if the Bruins had won last night.

COIDREY: Wouldn’t we all. And how many times do I have to tell you to call me Mitt. You make me feel like an old man.

KATIE: Oh a few more times, Officer Coidrey. I’d hate to be too casual with an important authority figure like you.

COIDREY: (Jovially.) Then you really ought to do what I say. So, what can I do for you today?

KATIE: Oh, I’m afraid it’s just business as usual. (She takes out an orange parking citation.) They gave me another ticket this Friday for parking too close to the corner, but there was nowhere else on the street, and I was scared to walk home by myself. It was pretty late.

COIDREY: All by yourself on a Friday night? You should have called me for a personal escort.

KATIE: (Smoothly.) I didn’t want to bother you – I’m sure you have plenty of better things to do than waste your time with me.

Meanwhile, Jen enters downstage right with a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. She looks at her watch and stands waiting, drinking. She is wearing a tight Boston Red Sox t-shirt with a short skirt, and is roughly 20 as well.

COIDREY: Trust me sweetheart; you wouldn’t have been bothering me. Pretty girl like you… you got a boyfriend?

KATIE: Not at the moment. They’re not worth the trouble.

COIDREY: (Laughing.) Atta girl, love ‘em and leave ‘em. Alright, gimme that ticket.

(Coidrey takes the ticket and sits at his desk, and begins typing on the computer.)

KATIE: Thank you so much, Officer Coidrey. You’re my hero. It won’t happen again.

COIDREY: You say that every time, but you know you’ll be back before the end of the month.

KATIE: Let’s hope not.

COIDREY: For my sake, I hope so. (Coidrey stands and walks over towards Katie, holding out a business card.) Here’s my card again, sweetheart. And I wrote my personal cell number on the back. Gimme a call if you want a tour of the station, or something.

KATIE: Thanks again, Mitt.

Katie exits, walking through the door, to where Jen is standing. The girls are only mildly surprised, but happy, to see each other. Meanwhile, Officer Coidrey sits at his desk and shuffles papers silently.

JEN: (Triumphantly.) I knew you’d be here today! I haven’t seen you since Nikki’s party last weekend. Did I miss anything leaving early?

KATIE: Danny and I had a screaming fight and broke up. I’m sure we were the entertainment of the evening.

JEN: Ohhhhh, what happened?

KATIE: Well, I had already drunk so much that I don’t entirely remember. Something involving vodka punch and wandering eyes on the surface of things. But I’m pretty sure it was accumulated frustration over the fact that he’s more interested in cocaine than conversation.

JEN: Good riddance. You OK?

KATIE: Yes. Luckily, I know better than to get too attached to addicts. They don’t tend to be the most reliable partners.

JEN: Smart girl. (Switching gears.) What kind of mood is Mitty in today?

KATIE: Same as always. I think this is the eighth time he’s given me his phone number. What time is your appointment?

JEN: Fifteen minutes. I feel ridiculous in this outfit.

KATIE: I know. But I swear it works better than anything else on him. He’s a good local boy who wants a good local girl to watch the game with him.

Jeff re-enters downstage right, holding a Polaroid photograph in his hand and looking disgruntled. He stops at Jen and Katie.

JEFF: Is this the line or something?

JEN: I’m waiting for my appointment. (Gesturing to Katie.) She just had hers.

JEFF: (Turning his attention to Katie.) Did he ruin your day too? Some cop with cataracts can’t see my giant parking permit and this jackass wants to make me pay twenty-five bucks for it.

JEN: We find Mitty quite charming.

KATIE: (To Jeff.) You have the unfortunate disadvantage of lacking tits. For any girl under the age of 64, however, Mitty is the definitive solution to the Boston-area parking problem.

JEFF: You must be joking. Don’t tell me he let you out of yours.

KATIE: Pretty much every week.

JEFF: What the hell! Don’t you feel at all guilty that you’re abusing the system? Not to mention this guy’s affections?

KATIE: Ugh, how guilty can we really feel? This system is corrupt whether we take advantage of it or not, and you said yourself that Mitty’s a jackass. Yes, he’s doing us a favor; but it’s only because he’s under the false impression that we’re infatuated with him. If we really want to analyze it, Mitty’s a corrupt, womanizing, superficially powerful official who’s making lecherous advances on women half his age. He’s the bully who couldn’t get a date in high school, who only joined the police academy because he wanted something to lord over the girls who ignored him. Besides, you’d do it too if you could.

JEFF: (Reluctantly.) Yes, I would. (Beat.) Do you think this photo of the prominently displayed permit will help at all?

Jen and Katie snicker with some sympathy.

JEN: It couldn’t hurt to try.

JEFF: (Woefully.) It’s probably not even worth it.

JEN: (Looking at her watch.) Looks like I’m up. Katie, gimme a call later.
Jen struts through the door and over towards Coidrey’s desk. As she enters, she and Coidrey pantomime a flirtatious interaction, aping the blocking used during Katie and Coidrey’s exchange. Meanwhile, Katie and Jeff continue conversing.

JEFF: Does every woman in this city know about this loophole?

KATIE: Word gets around.

JEFF: What would you do if he stopped letting you slide?

KATIE: You don’t think Mitty’s a skirt-chaser for life? In the unlikely eventuality that he joins the monk-hood, I would probably blackmail him with three years of sexual harassment and soliciting a minor.

JEFF: You seem pretty mature for someone who’s under 18.

KATIE: No no. I was under 18 three years ago.

JEFF: (Suddenly flirtatious.) So, since you’re legal …

KATIE: I’m definitely not dating.

JEFF: That is not how I would have finished that sentence. There were so many better options.

KATIE: It’s nothing personal. I think I’ve just seen too many Mitt Coidreys in the last year. I have this repulsive image of him going home every night to a hungry man dinner and sports center, reading the personal ads but never having the balls to place or contact one. It’s like he’s given up. He can’t be happy. If he were happy, he wouldn’t be hitting on 20-year-old women who want nothing to do with him. He wouldn’t be so desperate for the little power he has.

JEFF: Shouldn’t that make you more inclined to date? To be sure you don’t wind up like that?

KATIE: I’m inclined to be sure I don’t wind up with someone like that. Someone who will give up and take me down with him. You know, Mitty was married once.

JEFF: Surely you lie.

KATIE: I speak the truth. He told me once last year in a moment of weakness. Said my smile reminded him of the woman he cheated with.

JEFF: Charming.

KATIE: It’s stories like his that drive me towards the nunnery. I fully intend to die alone, but full of righteous life ambition.

JEFF: Did you hear what you just said? That doesn’t even sound pleasant.

KATIE: Better than dying with someone you hate. Or lamenting a lost love.

JEFF: So instead you’ll lament never knowing love?

A pause follows. Katie doesn’t quite know how to respond to this.

KATIE: I’m sorry. I didn’t catch your name.

JEFF: Jeff.

KATIE: Katie. You’re pretty presumptuous for a total stranger.

JEFF: Well, I wouldn’t be a total stranger if you were to go grab a cup of coffee with me.

KATIE: Did you steal that line from a cheesy movie? And honestly, where do you get the nerve after I already told you I wasn’t dating?

JEFF: Unfortunately, that cheesiness was all mine. And the nerve came from a sudden fear of frozen dinners and personal ads. (Beat.) We can keep it strictly platonic. In fact, I’m just curious to know what you intend to name the cats you plan on adopting to mask your loneliness.

KATIE: (Won over.) I was thinking I’d go with large, vicious dogs to squelch my senile paranoia of prowlers. A Rottweiler, Doberman mix might be perfect.

As they start to head towards the exit, downstage right, they practically bump into Nikki, wearing jeans and a New England Patriots jersey she has twisted up to show her flat stomach. She is also about 20 years old.

NIKKI: Katie! You left half a handle of vodka at my house last weekend!

KATIE: Consider it your gift for hosting.

NIKKI: Well, we’re having another gathering tomorrow night. You should drop by. (Looking at Jeff.) You should come by too.

JEFF: (Looking at Katie but speaking to Nikki.) Great! I’ll see you there.

Nikki, confused, goes to stand in front of Coidrey’s door, waiting for her appointment. Jeff and Katie exit stage right. Curtain.

E-mail Rachel Hodges at rachel@staticandfeedback.com