November 27, 2006

A Play A Day #228

The Bill


Setting: Checkout station at a nice restaurant.

(Darren and Beatrice approach, Beatrice putting her wrap around her shoulders, Darren holds out the bill, Misty, the well-dressed hostess, takes it and Darren's credit card)

Misty: Good evening, Sir. How was everything tonight?

Darren: Just fabulous... great. Great.

Misty: Wonderful!

Beatrice: Very, very good!

Misty: Excellent! (she starts processing the credit card, examining the bill) Oh, one of you had the scampi. How was it?

Beatrice: I loved it.

Misty: Great! The chef puts a special kind of olive oil in it.

Beatrice: I thought so.

Misty: You can drink that oil right out of the bottle by the quart!

Beatrice: Oh... wow!

Misty: (nodding, catching herself) Not that we do! (laughing)

(Beatrice and Darren laughing nervously)

Misty: We would never do that. We could, but we don't.

Darren: Of course not.

Misty: I mean, you didn't think that I meant...

Beatrice: No, no... don't worry. We know what you meant.

Misty: (checking bill again, checking on credit card process, no progress there) So, you must have had the Beef Wellington...

Darren: (overlap) Wellington, yes, that was me.

Misty: (tapping at the monitor where the credit card is processing) How did you like that?

Darren: Uhh... good, really quite good... almost surprisingly so.

Misty: (hitting monitor hard with her hand throughout this line, trying to act as if she isn't) Surprisingly, sir?

Darren: Well... it was so tender... and, I just mean... I... well, I wasn't expecting it to be that good!

Misty: (really whacking the monitor hard) Ow! (a beep) Oh!... ummm... I'm sorry, sir... the credit card isn't going through...

Darren: Really?

Misty: In fact, it's telling me to confiscate the card and call the authorities.

Darren: What?!

Beatrice: No! That can't be.

Darren: I assure you, I've done nothing to call the authorities about.

Misty: It says that the card was reported stolen earlier today.

Darren: Here... here's my driver's license... my picture, name... same as the credit card.

Misty: (comparing the two) Certainly are... weird.

Beatrice: Try the other card, dear.

Darren: Yes, yes... (takes out another credit card) Here. This should work.

Misty: Certainly, yes. (starts credit card processing, during this fight scene, Misty watches with growing apprehension, the card is also not processing, she taps nervously at first, then slowly builds until she is ferociously beating on the monitor by the end of the fight, her tempo and rhythms matching the argument)

Darren: (to Beatrice) Did you lose that card and call it in?

Beatrice: No.

Darren: You know how you lose track of things.

Beatrice: I didn't lose it, dear.

Darren: Wouldn't be the first time you lost one of the credit cards.

Beatrice: (fishing both cards from her purse) I have not lost the credit cards!

Darren: I wasn't saying you had; I was just saying.

Beatrice: You most certainly were saying that I lost them.

Darren: Just the one!

Beatrice: Why do you accuse me of being careless all the time!?

Darren: I don't, Bea; it's just that some times you're kind of... careless.

Beatrice: Listen, Darren, we were having a perfectly enjoyable night, and then this little credit card problem happens, and you switch into Mr. Blame Game mode!

Darren: I'm not blaming you; I just want to know why the credit card was reported as stolen. I didn't do it. Someone else must have, and you're the other person on the account; so it follows that... I'm not blaming you...

Beatrice: You're just saying I did it; that's so vaguely nuanced as to be... unfathomable!

Darren: Dear, I just want to know...

Beatrice: Get over it! You can't know everything, Darren. This little credit card mystery will not bow to your deductive reasoning or your personal attacks at me for what you perceive are my foibles.

Darren: It just seems to me...

Beatrice: The situation - gasp - is out of your control, and what's more, it's done! Done, Darren, done... we used a different credit card... when we get home, you can call the card's customer service center and sit on hold for twenty-seven hours, and find out what the problem is, because I most definitely am not!!

Darren: Bea, be reasonable... I don't know why you fly into rages everytime I suggest that you may have been involved in some little problem.

Beatrice: (stressing each of the first few words very hard) Because... you... always... insinuate that I am the source, not just a participant, but the actual source, the veritable font, of all minor and major difficulties which beset us as a couple. I am the dominatrix of doom, the mail carrier of malady, the malicious master of malfeasance, the merry mother of mischief, the haranguing handmaiden of happenstance, the be-all and end-all of messy counters, broken spatulas, cracked tiles, clogged pipes, flat tires, missed meetings, dropped balls, soggy sandwiches, high electric bills, poor radio reception, damp towels, and both over- and undercooked meat! I'm tired of listening to it. You know why, Darren? Do you know why I "fly into rages"? Because you fricking make me!!! So even if everything else really were my fault, even if I were responsible for all that causes us woe, I would still "fly into rages", because I Don't Need To Be Reminded Of It All The Time!! You make mistakes too, Darren! All the flippin' time. The difference between your mistakes and my mistakes is that I let you make them, and I only say something about them if it's absolutely essential! All I'm saying, Darren, is that I may be the reason that the credit card didn't go through. I don't even care. But even if I were, that's beside the point. It makes no difference here and now!

(Beatrice seethes, Darren looks a little embarassed, then they both look at Misty who abruptly ends her assault of the monitor, she is panting, sweaty. She tries to make up for her vehemence with cold nonchalance. Long pause.)

Misty: (terrified) Umm... this card's... not...

Darren: (to Beatrice) Your handiwork again?

(Beatrice simply turns her back, beyond anger)

Misty: (trembling) ... Reported stolen...

Darren: Damnit!

Misty: (mumbles) Confiscate... authorities...

Darren: No... listen, listen, do you take checks?

Misty: (great relief, way overcompensating) Checks? Yes! Yes! We take checks... checks are a form of payment! And we take them! All the time! People write us checks! They pay for meals with checks! It's great! We take (oops, lowers her voice) credit cards and (loud again) checks!! Good ol' American checks! Yes, sir! Any check you might have! We'll take it... We just love checks... the other day, I was talking with another hostess, and I asked her what her favorite form of payement was, and she said "Checks"! I couldn't agree more. Checks are awesome! We take all the checks we can get...

(Darren has taken his checkbook out and is writing, not amused by Misty's non-stop verbalizations, finishes tears off the check, hands it to Misty)

Misty: (her face collapses into pain, her buoyancy gone, very slowly, fearfully) ...within... a twenty-five... mile... radius of the restaurant.

Darren: What?

Misty: We take checks that originate within a twenty-five mile radius of the restaurant, sir... your address is in Tartanburg, that's almost thity miles away...

Beatrice: (spinning around, a great deal of pleasure on her face) Ahhh! Yeah!! That IS my fault! I was the one who really wanted to live in Tartanburg! Yippee for me! (pulls a fake sad face to Darren, speaks to him in a sarcastic sad manner) Mea culpa, my dear, mea culpa grande.

Darren: (to Misty) C'mon, you can't be serious?

Misty: I would get in big trouble, sir. I can't take checks from Tartanburg, or Berenz, or Prewitt, or...

Darren: (snatching the check from her hands) I get it, I get it, thank you. (opening up his wallet again, quite annoyed) I have cash... I have cash... should have just started there... none of this would have happened. It was a hundred eighty-nine...

Misty: And thirty-seven cents.

Darren: Don't care about the thirty-seven damn cents, here.

(He slaps two crisp one-hundred dollar bills on the counter, followed by a twenty)

Misty: Oh, hundred dollar bills, okay...

(Beatrice snaps to attention and turns back to observe, Misty searches in a drawer under the counter, comes back up opening a marker)

Misty: Just a little dot on each bill. (she marks each hundred, then waits a couple seconds, her face grows pale)

Beatrice: (over Misty's previous line, hissing to Darren) Where did you get those hundreds?

Darren: By my computer this morning.

Beatrice: Those were mine! You weren't supposed...

(Misty has pushed a button under the counter, she slowly backs away a little bit)

Darren: Well, if you weren't leaving things laying around... (Beatrice notices Misty's reaction, turns and runs from the restaurant) Beatrice... what the hell... Beatrice!

(Enter Chef, a large man, carrying a large knife, dressed in a chefly manner, Misty surreptitiously nods at Darren, Chef positions himself between Darren and the exit by which Beatrice has just left)

Chef: (using whatever funny Chef-like accent works for you) Good evening, sir. I am the chef.

Darren: Yes, I gathered.

Chef: How was your meal tonight, sir?

Darren: Great, great... (turns back to Misty) Can I just get a little change from all that. I need a five.

(Misty just looks at him, frightened)

Chef: What did you have to eat, sir.

Darren: Wha...? (turning back to Chef) The Beef... Wellington... (back to Misty) Listen, I really just need to pick up a couple papers on my way home, and...

Chef: And how did you like my Wellington?

Darren: It was very good, okay?! Please, my wife just ran out the door, my credit cards, the check, now... now, I paid my bill...

Misty: The yellow ink, Chef; it turned black!

Chef: I know it did, Misty.

Darren: Listen, forget the change.... I'm ... (starts to leave, Chef holds the knife a little more prominently, a distant siren is heard)

Chef: Sir, we won't forget your change; you've got a lot of it coming your way.

(lights fade)


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