April 4, 2007

A Play A Day #355



Setting: A diner.

(lights up, Mitchell, an unkempt man in his late fifties slouches in a booth, menu in front of him, he wears a suit in an uncomfortable manner, his suit is too messy and out-of-date to look good, but not so much so that he looks foolish. Daria enters, she is in her early twenties, very, very dark and brooding appearance, but she is quite excited to be here at this particular moment, she looks around, recognizing Mitchell, she tries to calmly walk to his booth)

Daria: Mr. Leon?

Mitchell: Yeah.

D: I'm Daria.

(holds out her hand, Mitchell ignores it)

M: Sit down.

(Daria sits opposite Mitchell)

D: Wow! I can't believe I finally get to meet you after so many years. You look a lot different in person.

M: In my line of work, that's pretty much a necessity.

D: Yeah, yeah... I'll bet.

M: For similar reasons, I can't meet for too long here, so...

D: Right, right... it's just, sorry, yeah, I know, I know, you must be such a busy guy...

M: (while she continues) Well, not so much busy, but...

D: ...but, it's just, you know, I mean, it's ... well, I mean, it's you! Mitchell Rutherford Leon! Man. Hard to believe, you know?

M: Not for me.

D: (laughing) Yeah, sure, right, I get it...

M: No laughing, please. People watch laughing. I can't have that.

D: Oh, right, sorry, Mr. Leon.

M: Mitch, just Mitch, is fine.

D: Okay.

M: Let's get going here, like I said. I read your statement of purpose; you've obviously done your homework.

D: It's more like my statement of worship. I've been watching your career since I was in junior high; I think I know more about you than anyone.

M: Well, that may be true, not many people know much about me.

D: I mean, even before I was born, all those cases in the 1970s. I mean, they solved every single one of them; because of how well you did your job. Five in 1976 alone.

M: Bicentennial. Good year. Yeah, the '70s, those were the days for my profession, real high-water mark. I learned from some of the best back then, true masters of the craft... not like the cheap knock-offs running around today. These guys today don't understand that it's a skill and an art. They don't really care anymore. But the '70s... well, that's when the world was wide open for me and a couple other guys. We were definitely the best.

D: You still are!

M: Thanks, Daria, but you and I both know that things are fading for me. I haven't had a decent high-profile case in five years. I'm too old to keep up with the rigors of the position. I can't survive on reputation alone. That's why my people contacted you. We've been watching you, and we like what we see.

(Daria gives a little shiver)

D: Whoa...

M: I need someone to pass the position to. You need to understand the risk that I'm taking.

D: Yes. Risk. I understand.

M: This is my life's work, and I can't just let it stop. But, it's a huge risk handing it off to a woman.

D: I know, I know.

M: This is a boys' club. I mean, yes, occasionally a woman makes a splash, but they're always just flashes-in-the-pan. It's been that way, and it remains that way. So I don't entertain transfering the role to a woman lightly. I'm taking a lot of heat in the community for even thinking about the possibility.

D: Of course, and I appreciate that. I've studied so hard for the part. I know the methods, the maneuvers, the motivations.

M: I believe in equal opportunity, and, as I move out of the role, I need to know that, if I hand the job off to a woman, she isn't going to set women in the profession back thirty years by screwing up.

D: Right. I won't. I'm totally ready.

M: People will be watching. There will be tough times for you; people saying that it's not as good as what I did. Screw'em, Daria. You know why? Because I believe in you. I believe you can do this, not just for me and my legacy, but for women everywhere.

D: You can count on me, Mitch.

M: Can I? You'll be a trailblazer. It's a huge responsibility.

D: I know I can do it.

M: It's not enough just to look gloomy; you have to be gloomy in ways that no one can ever understand.

D: I am. I already am.

M: Most of all, of course, you have to be creative, driven and methodical.

D: Of course.

M: Every case I've taken over these many years - every case - I've managed to observe the situation and pull off the deed in such a way as to frame an innocent person.

D: They've all been just pure genius.

M: Well, a little bit of luck every once in a while, but, yes, by and large, my success has come out of diligent work and preparation.

D: That's what separates you from the rest.

M: The jilted lover, the disgruntled former employee, the sibling cut from the will.

D: Beautiful.

M: You find a person who has a motive, find out who that person would want to kill given that motive, and you move in.

D: Yes.

M: I've never been like the rest, but look where the rest of them are: dead or in prison, forever on both counts.

D: Like I always tell people, you're the best.

M: That's because all the others out there go by their own motivations.

D: And you find those with the motivation...

M: That's right. I leave the motivation to someone else. I do the deed, someone else gets the punishment.

D: You find it and exploit it.

M: Consequently, I don't need to find another stereotypically crazy-loner serial killer type to replace me; because it isn't about my (makes air quotes) "sick psychological profile". It's about skill; it's about a trainable craft. All I need is someone with the artistic flair, the heart and the vision to handle the job. So, it can be a man or a woman. Give me the raw passion, I'll train the rest.

D: When can we start? I'm ready.

M: If you're asking questions like that, you're not ready. First rule: patience. That's what undoes most serial killers - they're just too itching to hack, slash and brutalize, and they make stupid mistakes. Patience. There's always time.

D: Right. I'm sorry.

M: Whoa, whoa... Second rule: never, never... ever... be sorry.

D: Right. Yes. That makes sense.

M: In this line of work, if you're sorry, you're dead. And, believe me, I mean that.

(lights fade out as they lean forward and start discussing the position further)


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