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The Fine Print

A friend of mine is putting together a play and asked me to write a segment of it. The idea for the play is quite an interesting one, one that uses various mixed media. But it tells stories from Greek drama in short contemporary situations adapted by writers like myself. The story I was adapting was that of a roadside charlatan, offering people the perfect nights sleep in a magical bed that fit whoever laid in it. What he didn't tell people was that if they were too tall, he'd cut their legs off and those that were too short were stretched on a rack.

It was an interesting moral that I had some fun adapting to the here and now, and the closest thing I could come up with for a contemporary setting were the used-car-salesmen and check cash emporium sorts of bastards that we see on every street corner now.


INT. A LIVING ROOM

A couch is in the middle of the stage, and a YOUNG MARRIED COUPLE cuddles on it, watching the audience as though they were a TV.

Faint audio can be heard of a no-money down, no credit, bankruptcy, no problem auto loan store as though it’s on the television.

The couple chats, as lovers do, preoccupied more with each other than the television, until...
A doorbell rings.

YOUNG MAN
You expecting someone?

YOUNG WOMAN
No...
(beat)
Are you?

YOUNG MAN
(checking his watch)
I wonder who it could be at this hour.

YOUNG WOMAN
(turning the “tv” off with the remote)
It’s probably one of your friends,
drunk again, wanting to crash...

YOUNG MAN
(getting up to answer the door)
That only happened once.

He gets just off stage, we hear a door open accompanied by the voice of a greasy salesman type, chewing gum.

The young woman stares off screen toward the voices, curious.

GREASY SALESMAN (O.S.)
‘ullo, ‘ullo.
(beat)
Are you Martin and Ellie
Stevens of 14 Wombat Row?

YOUNG MAN (O.S.)
(reluctantly)
Y--yes... Can I help you?

The greasy salesman bursts out onto the stage, completely uninvited. His har is slicked back, he has thick mutton chops and dark ray-ban glasses.

Think Michael Palin.

He’s taking in the look of the house, examining the imaginary decor.

GREASY SALESMAN
This place is really beautiful...
You have a lovely home.

YOUNG WOMAN
(confused)
Thank you...

GREASY SALESMAN
It’s a shame, really.

YOUNG MAN
A shame? What is this about?

GREASY SALESMAN
Well, it’s a simple matter of
repossession of allocated wealth.
(shouting)
Marco!
(beat, to the young couple)
My associate Marco, whom I believe
you’re familiar with, can fill you in
with all the nasty little details, but
don’t worry about fightin’,
you ain’t got a leg to stand on...

From the imaginary door comes MARCO, slowly and confidently. As he strolls to the center of the living room, he hands his greasy assistant a clipboard with papers and contracts on it.

YOUNG MAN
I know you...

MARCO
Indeed you do.

YOUNG WOMAN
You’re the guy who sold us our car.

MARCO
I was, and now, because of that,
I’m here to serve you an eviction notice.

YOUNG WOMAN
An eviction notice?

GREASY SALESMAN
Like I said, ma’am, there ain’t
no use disputin’ it...
(flipping through the
papers on the clipboard)
It’s all here in black and white.

MARCO
It was all written out clearly at the
time of signing. If you were to default
on your car payment for a period of
any longer than seven business days,
then you would be in forfeit of your house.

The greasy salesman sidles up next to the young man...

YOUNG MAN
We would never...

The greasy salesman flips to the last page on the clipboard, presenting it to the Young Man.

GREASY SALESMAN
That your signature?

YOUNG MAN
Yes, but...

MARCO
But? How did you think we could offer
someone with your kind of credit a loan
for a car like that without collateral
like this house?

YOUNG WOMAN
If we’d’ve known you were going to
take our car for a late payment we called
and told you was going to be late,
we’d’ve bought our car elsewhere.

MARCO
But you didn’t. You bought your automobile from me.
And you signed my contract. And I’m not
taking your car, I’m taking your
house, as is my legal right.

YOUNG MAN
But that’s not fair.

GREASY SALESMAN
Fair?
(beat)
You signed the contract, right?

YOUNG MAN
Well, yes, but...

GREASY SALESMAN
And you needed a car, and didn’t
have the credit to. And Marco here,
he was kind enough to give you credit...

YOUNG MAN
But, he...

GREASY SALESMAN
He didn’t do nothing out of the ordinary,
you just didn’t pay much attention
to the contract.

MARCO
And now, you have two days to leave this house.

GREASY SALESMAN
It’s the fine print...
(beat)
It’ll get you every time...

MARCO
I said I’d give you a car with no credit.
You should have asked me how I planned to do that.

YOUNG WOMAN
(who’s now crying)
But where will we go?

MARCO
Where will you go? That’s not my
concern. But I do know how you’ll get there.
(beat)
In your car. Now that we’ve taken possession
of the house, you own the car, lock, stock and barrel...

GREASY SALESMAN
So, at least you’ll be sleepin’ with a roof over your ‘ead.

The Young Woman sobs and the Young Man moves to the couch to comfort her.

YOUNG MAN
We’ll figure something...

MARCO
With that, we shall bid you adieu. We’ll
return two days hence to make
sure you’ve vacated the property.

GREASY SALESMAN
Have a good evenin’.

Marco and the Greasy salesman head off stage.

Leaving the young couple crying on the couch with nothing but the spotlight illuminating them.
The light fades on them.

END SCENE.
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