Fast, Friends (A Short Play)

31 Plays in 31 Days #20

Another one based on a dream… though this one came out nowhere near as long as that other one.

(Throughout the play there is the sound of chatter and a bustling crowd.)

(The stage has benches all across it. MENDEZ sits on a bench with a small suitcase underneath. There are suitcases under all the benches, too, but we don’t see anyone sitting with them the way MENDEZ sits with hers/his.)

(MENDEZ turns to the space above the suitcase to one side.)

MENDEZ
‘Scuse me.
‘Scuse me.
…Ahem.
Um.
(a little louder)
‘Scuse me.

(MENDEZ turns away embarrassed.)

(MENDEZ turns back.)

MENDEZ
Was it Ross? Ross? Oh hi-

I overheard you on your phone earlier, you said-

No I didn’t mean to interru-

Nevermind, sorry. Sorry.

(MENDEZ turns away embarrassed.)

MENDEZ
Oh. What?

Oh. Uh.
I…
I just wanted to-
Sorry, I just had a question-

O-okay, uh-
I just wanted to know if you knew what was-
What was going on-?

Yes.
Yes I don’t mean-
I wasn’t trying to be an asshole-
I know we’re being evacuated!
I didn’t mean like that-

I meant it like- I meant it like, do you know when they’re going to-

No, I just don’t know anyone here and maybe I missed out something, so I just thought it doesn’t hurt to ask, I hope.

Thanks.

Thank you, okay.
Me either.

Yes, I feel a little better.

I don’t know, just, knowing that I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what’s…

Yes, well, maybe? I heard it was some sort of… chain reaction… from the quake…

Oh really? Who said that?

(whispering)
Who said that?

Do you think he- she- whoever- actually knew that or were they just being crazy?

I’m sorry, I just want to know… I live on the other side of the channel and don’t know anyone over here…

I’m not asking you to help me.

Well, just telling me what you know helps me, even if you don’t know anything.

I don’t know. I guess I can’t offer anything. I ate my granola bars that I had. Do you think they’ll feed us?

Sorry. We can just sit here in silence then.

Yes, well, all those people seem to know other people here. You and I seem to be alone.

Fine.

No, I’m not upset at you.

Look, I know we’re strangers. I’m just trying to… I don’t know. Forget it.

Would you prefer if I move?

Fine.

Yes. I think ‘stressed’ is an understatement.

I apologize too.

Okay.

Let’s see what happens.

(MENDEZ sits in silence.)

(An ANNOUNCEMENT comes on.)

ANNOUNCEMENT
Please proceed into the atrium in an orderly fashion. Anyone who has a medical emergency report to one of the booths on the left.

(MENDEZ grabs his/her suitcase, stands up, and walks forward.)

(Enter ROSS. ROSS picks up her/his suitcase, the one that was next to Mendez, and walks forward next to Mendez.)

ROSS
Someone said they were going to make an announcement.

MENDEZ
Oh, it’s you.

ROSS
Sorry.

MENDEZ
Who said?

ROSS
I overheard someone.

MENDEZ
I assume they will do some sort of alphabetical thing to get people on the ferries.

ROSS
I’m fucked then.

MENDEZ
Why?

ROSS
“Ross,” R.

MENDEZ
How does that screw you over?

ROSS
I doubt they’ll make it that far in the alphabet.

MENDEZ
You mean you don’t think there’ll be enough room for everyone? You’ve seen those cabins, right? And the decks?

ROSS
The decks are off-limits during high-speed traversal.

MENDEZ
You know a lot about the big ferries.

ROSS
They’ll have to do it high-speed…

MENDEZ
Why do you-
Oh!

ROSS
What?

MENDEZ
Oh!
Ah. I am thick. I was confused about your name, and why that should put you late in alpha-

ROSS
What?

MENDEZ
I thought- Sorry-

ROSS
It was my first name?

MENDEZ
Yes.

ROSS
No, I was calling my work to let them know I wouldn’t be at the teleconference. They don’t like first names, too personal for the work we do.

MENDEZ
What do you do?

ROSS
Who’s asking?

MENDEZ
Oh! Sorry. I am sorry.
Mendez. If you’re Ross, I’m Mendez.

ROSS
You don’t want to give me your first name?

MENDEZ
I don’t want to give you the impression I’m trying to make friends or anything.

ROSS
Look, sorry. I just want to get out of here. I wasn’t trying to be rude, okay, dear?

MENDEZ
What do you do, Ross?

ROSS
Travel to faraway places in order to teleconference with people in other faraway places. You?

MENDEZ
Go to places that are not my home with my family and do whatever work they tell me to do on buildings. Usually a month or two per project.

ROSS
Pays well?

MENDEZ
It is alright. You?

ROSS
(indicating something Ross is wearing)
You saw this right?

MENDEZ
I don’t want to assume.

ROSS
Sorry. That sounded dickish.

MENDEZ
You like calling yourself unfortunate words.

ROSS
Yeah. Well.
They could really be smart and open those vending machines, it would stop the kids crying. Dammit, or provide ear plugs.

MENDEZ
They are scared.

ROSS
They have every reason to be. You can’t change that so just placate them with some snacks.

MENDEZ
Alright.

ROSS
Look, they can’t just keep us all waiting around. We’re bound to freak out. Rumors spread. No one knows for sure how long until it all goes up.

MENDEZ
Doesn’t the fact that they are not in a hurry suggest it won’t be soon?

ROSS
I’m not so optimistic as you are about-
What?

(ROSS and MENDEZ turn to one side and look at an empty space.)

ROSS

You sure?

MENDEZ
When?

ROSS

Don’t talk like that.

MENDEZ
That can’t be true.

ROSS
You’re going to upset people more. That’s the last thing we need.

MENDEZ

Why would they do that?

ROSS
That’d just lead to chaos.

MENDEZ
I think they will do it alphabetically, no one can argue with that.

ROSS

Well-

MENDEZ
They don’t seem to be in that much of a hurry at the moment.

ROSS

Great, a conspiracy theorist.

(ROSS ignores the unseen person.)

MENDEZ
Hey, don’t-

No, sorry, Ross here is-

ROSS
Hey!

MENDEZ
What?

ROSS
Jesus!

MENDEZ
We’re all in this together.

ROSS
Not if what our little theorist here is at all right.

MENDEZ
Where did you hear this?

ROSS

Well keep it yourself, okay?

MENDEZ
Yes, please.

ROSS

Because! Panic, stampeding, shitstorm.

Thank you. Good.

MENDEZ
Let’s just see what they actually say before we make any assumptions.

ROSS
Yes.

(ROSS pulls out a cellphone.)

ROSS
No connection.

MENDEZ
You’ll be fine.
Let’s just see.

ROSS
…Yes.

(They both look at the unseen person.)

MENDEZ
Great.

(An ANNOUNCEMENT comes on.)

ANNOUNCEMENT
Please begin moving up to the docks. The gangways are not lowered yet so do not attempt to board. Please gather your family or companions and your belongings and have them ready. Do not go to the bathroom at this time. Do not push and shove, allow the people in front of you to walk ahead and the people behind you to walk behind. Follow our instructions and obey and direct commands from any police officer or ferry attendant. Again, gather your family or companions and be sure you have a firm count on the number in your group.

(MENDEZ and ROSS step forward with their bags again. Enter GINA, who grabs a bag and joins the two of them.)

GINA
I lost my people.

MENDEZ
Oh no!

GINA
I went off to look for information and found out what I told you about the rush and everything and then I went back to the bench where they were sitting waiting for Tanda to get medical attention and they weren’t there.

MENDEZ
Well- Have you tried-

ROSS
Phones don’t work-

MENDEZ
No no no, standing on the rail and-

GINA
No no look they’ll push you off or they’ll arrest you or something, they’re just looking for a goddamn reason to keep anyone out they can, you can’t make trouble-

MENDEZ
You’re just looking for your-
Maybe if you talk to an officer they can-

GINA
Are you crazy?
What’s your name?

ROSS
I’m Ross. This is Mendez.

GINA
I’m Gina. Hi. Hi. I don’t know. I don’t know. If I go wandering off looking for them they might wander the other direction. I’m better off standing still and sticking with you two.

ROSS
Um-

MENDEZ
Yes of course.

GINA
They need to hurry up. It really could be any second now.

ROSS
No way. If it was any second now they’d say screw the civilians let’s get ourselves out of here.

GINA
They’re not that horrible. With all the ferries practically empty?

ROSS
They have families. It’s urgent but they know how much time they have. They’re just being way too lazy about it.

MENDEZ
The difference in taking everyone on and leaving by themselves isn’t enough.

GINA
A few miles could be life or death.

MENDEZ
Will it be that bad? Are you a scientist?

GINA
No. Well yes. Not that kind of scientist. I study people. I’m an anthropologist. That’s a kind of scientist who-

MENDEZ
I know, thank you.

GINA
Oh, sorry. I’m used to you know people looking at me like I have four heads when I say that, they’re like, isn’t that the thing that Jane Gooddall did or whatever, you’re telling me that’s your job? What are you studying, the hot dog vendors?

MENDEZ
What are you studying?

GINA
Falafel vendors.

MEDNEZ
Oh.

ROSS
Are those your people?

GINA
No.
Wait, yes!
Wait, no.
Same hair. I thought Ron’s hair was unique. But that’s not Ron’s face.

ROSS
Stress can change people.

GINA
Yeah, but that’s a girl. Ron’s not a girl.

ROSS
You really are probably better off squeezing through the crowd and trying to find them.

GINA
No way, I can’t lose this spot now, or you two. I’d be totally screwed. And does that mean you believe me?

ROSS
…I don’t believe you.

MENDEZ
It won’t be like you said.

GINA
Just watch.
Oh fuck.
We’re all going to die.

MENDEZ
Don’t-

GINA
No we’re not. Sorry. I just get that way sometimes. I have to say it out loud when I get scared because holding it in makes it worse. I say it and it sounds ridiculous and I feel better. They’ve got it under control and we’re close to the front.

MENDEZ
Everyone will get out.

GINA
No they won’t.
I’m sticking here.

MENDEZ
Yes, of course, Gina.

GINA
I didn’t think I needed your permission, it’s better for you two if I stay too.

MENDEZ
Well, yes. Ross?

ROSS
Huh?

GINA
Stay with it Ross. And strap your bag on somehow so you can move faster.

MENDEZ
Gina is with us.

ROSS
We’re an “us”?

GINA
Stay with it Ross.

ROSS
…Oh uh.
Sorry.
I think they’re making an announcement in a moment, see?

MENDEZ
Where are you pointing?

ROSS
The loudspeaker. Someone’s tweaking it.

GINA
Oh good.

MENDEZ
Pick up your bags, here it comes.

ROSS
I thought you expected orderly-

MENDEZ
Yes, that’s why we should be ready. They said be ready.

ROSS
Okay.

MENDEZ
Here it comes:

ANNOUNCEMENT
Quiet, please, quiet, please, listen closely as we will only repeat these instructions once. The gangways are being lowered. When they reach the docks, we will be loading on as quickly as possible. When we reach the channel, we will be travelling in high-speed hydrofoil mode. Those of you who have not traveled before on the ferries, realize that the decks are off-limits and very unsafe during a-
Therefore-
What?
One moment, pardon.

(Silence.)

MENDEZ
They can’t be saying-?

ROSS
Gina, you may be-

GINA
THERE THEY ARE!

MENDEZ
What?

GINA
HEY GUYS!

(GINA runs off.)

(ROSS and MENDEZ watch as GINA runs off.)

(ROSS and MENDEZ turn to people on either side.)

ROSS

What?

MENDEZ

She just found her friends-

ROSS

She said she thought- Uh-

MENDEZ

No we just met her and- Nevermind-
We should be silent-

ROSS

She just heard a rumor-

MENDEZ

They will tell us in a moment-

ROSS

I- What was it? Nothing, nothing. Let them announce.

MENDEZ
Yes, thank you.

ROSS
Okay.

(ROSS and MENDEZ look at each other and inch forward as much as they can.)

ROSS

Sorry, just trying to hear.

MENDEZ

Oh, my apologies, no, we’re not pushing.

ROSS

This is fine.

MENDEZ
Stay still. Here they come-

ANNOUNCEMENT
Unfortunately we do not have enough space for everyone who has gathered here; we expected more people to have gone with the voluntary evacuation yesterday before the news came out and we expected-
Nevermind- We don’t have time to go through the crowd and select the people most in need of evacuation- No, not the children either- Or the sick- We are sorry.
As soon as the gangways are opened please stick with your group and move to the cabins.
Please fill every cabin as much as possible. If you can not get into a cabin, move off the ship and try another. Do not remain on the decks when the ship sounds its horn because if you are not off by the time it launches we will not be able to remove you and you will be forced to jump in the water to avoid being swept off in the channel. Some of you may choose to take that chance, however.
Please move with your companions to the nearest open cabin. The doors will automatically close and lock when the cabin is at capacity.

ROSS
That’s what they were doing- Programming the-

MENDEZ
Quiet-

ANNOUNCEMENT
We are sorry that we will have to leave so many behind- We will attempt to return once the ships are unloaded. Do not push and shove and it will allow us to launch sooner and therefore return sooner. Repeat do not push and shove. Obey all orders from all officers. Officers are instructed to use tasers and pepper spray on anyone who attempts to shove anyone overboard.
Prepare for gangways.

MENDEZ
We need to stick together- Bigger groups will shove into the cabins-

ROSS
No- Individuals can slide through more easily, two people will get locked up-

MENDEZ
Do not abandon me, my friend-

ROSS
I am not your friend- I have a family to get to and I can’t get hung up on you-

MENDEZ
We both have families, and they both will appreciate-

ROSS
I am sorry-

MENDEZ
You will be sorry if you don’t stick with me!

(MENDEZ takes ROSS’s hand. ROSS pulls it away. MENDEZ abandons her/his suitcase and takes ROSS around the arm. ROSS gives in and abandons his/her bag as well.)

(As many PEOPLE as you can get onstage rush out and pick up suitcases. There is a mad crowd rush and MENDEZ and ROSS are carried along in it. Some people abandon their suitcases; some people exit on one side of the stage and enter on another and pick up some other suitcase; the crowd noise becomes cacaphonic. The ANNOUNCEMENT continually announces “don’t push, don’t shove, move into the cabins quickly, we are launching as soon as the engines are ready.”)

MENDEZ
That one!

ROSS
Closed!

MENDEZ
This is insanity.
They should have just formed a line.

ROSS
Would have taken too much time in the end. They are already gunning the engines.

MENDEZ
They didn’t need to take that time to program the-

ROSS
Without automatically closing doors, they would save no one, people would force them open-

MENDEZ
There!

ROSS
Let us in!

MENDEZ
…We can stand over there!

ROSS
Your door is open!

MENDEZ

Waiting for who?

ROSS
They are probably somewhere else!

(ROSS and MENDEZ are pushed back.)

MENDEZ
There!

ROSS
Hurry!

MENDEZ
Wait! A child!

(MENDEZ picks up a child and moves to a nearby cabin.)

MENDEZ
Take this one!

No NOT ME! JUST THE CHILD!
OPEN UP! I KNOW THAT WAS YOU AND NOT THE AUTOMATIC SENSOR! OPEN IT UP AND TAKE THE FUCKING CHILD YOU MONSTERS!

ROSS
Wait-

MENDEZ
Good thank you!

ROSS
LET US IN TOO! No-

MENDEZ
We had to get the child in.

ROSS
They haven’t set off the sensor yet-

MENDEZ
They won’t let us in, forget it!

ROSS
But-

MENDEZ
Forget it! Somewhere else!

ROSS
Oh Christ- That one, that one is still open, people don’t see it because of the netting- Hurry!

MENDEZ
Coming!

ROSS
Hurry!

MENDEZ
Hurrying! Excuse us, pardon us!

ROSS
Stop shoving, assholes!

MENDEZ
There-

ROSS
NO-

MENDEZ
Too late.

ROSS
That’s your fault! I could’ve gotten in!

MENDEZ
Ross-

ROSS
I could’ve gotten in! I could’ve-
You’re dead weight! You’re DEAD WEIGHT!

(ROSS runs off an exits. The number of PEOPLE on the stage has decreased somewhat but there is still panic and chaos.)

(The ship’s horn sounds.)

MENDEZ
Oh god.

(More PEOPLE exit the stage.)

MENDEZ
I can’t jump. I can’t swim.
I can just try to hold on.
Where?

(ROSS wanders back and forth. The other PEOPLE still onstage stop panicking and just hold on and wait in anticipation.)

(Suddenly, there is a lurching sound and the sound of engines gunning. Everyone is thrown back.)

MENDEZ
Here goes…

(Enter GINA.)

MENDEZ
Gina! Where are your-

GINA
In here! QUICK!

(GINA pulls MENDEZ offstage.)

(The few PEOPLE still onstage scream and the lights go down briefly.)

(When they come up, the benches have been arranged in a small rectangular shape with just a couple suitcases – the inside of a cabin. MENDEZ and GINA sit there with GINA’s FRIENDS.)

GINA
Just in time!

MENDEZ
I-
I can’t thank you enough
Ross-

GINA
I didn’t see-

MENDEZ
Dammit.
Maybe- Some other cabin-

GINA
You can’t worry about it.

MENDEZ
You worried about me.

GINA
Well, you were right there.

(MENDEZ holds back tears.)

GINA
Hey it’s cool we’re inside now and because I’m assuming they kept a close eye on their watches and everything they wouldn’t have left a second too late, so we’re almost definitely in the clear.

(In the distance, the sound of an explosion.)

(Everyone looks sad.)

MENDEZ
It will be a long ride.

GINA
Yeah…

So, uh, Mendez.

MENDEZ
Hmm?

GINA
These are my friends.
This is Ron. See, told you, crazy hair? This is Tanda. This is Ary. This is Bennie…

(Lights fade down as she continues naming her friends and introducing them to Mendez.)

(End of play.)

writing time: about 1:30

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One comment

  1. […] Came from having NO IDEA what to write and having ten minutes to do it before I had to leave 20) Fast, Friends – some people try to help each other out during an evacuation Came from a dream [not as vivid as […]

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