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Selected plays for the stage.

Michael Acciarino
Age Rating:

An Exercise in "Escalation"

January 2020 | Ten-Minute Writing Prompt

Setting: Diner


Tom (Patron)

Leo (Waiter)

[A lone customer eats a meal, keeping to himself. Tom sits across from Leo at the bar.]

TOM: You look down.

LEO: Never been lower.

TOM: What’s up?

LEO: Suits upstairs are cutting salaries.

TOM: Enough to get by? How low?

LEO: Never been lower.

TOM: That’s a shame, a damn shame. There’s an opening at the dealership if you’re looking for a career change.

LEO: How’s the pay?

TOM: Never been lower. Last month we were making budget cuts and I almost laid myself off.

LEO: (pause) I need a raise or I’m gonna do something drastic, I’m tellin’ ya. I’ve got bad ideas.

TOM: “Bad ideas” — Leo, don’t go thinking again.

LEO: I already did.

TOM: Did what?

LEO: Thinked. (pause) I’m thinking, if I don’t start making, I’m gonna start taking.

TOM: I don’t like the sound of that at all.

LEO: I’ve got a kid in college, he’s working hard and I’ve gotta live up to my end of the bargain. It’s a world of excess out there, Tom, and if you shave off the top, people won’t miss what they’re missing.

TOM: Sounds a lot like stealing, Leo.

LEO: That’s ’cause it is. Stealing — not to the point of bankruptcy, just temporary butterflies in the gut.

TOM: As a frequent customer — and maybe your friend, depending on where you’re going with this — I have to advise against it.

LEO: Buddy ol’ pal, it’s too late for advisement.

[The lone customer chokes on his tea and keels over. Leo walks to him and steals his wallet. Tom is shocked.]

LEO: A light poison, legal in five states.

TOM: Legal in this one?

LEO: I’m afraid not.

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