The Numbers Game

Setting: a small apartment

ACT I

Scene I

                                    BERNIE enters from the kitchen. She is on the phone.

BERNIE:        That’s right – available immediately. Your share would be 650 a month, plus 125 for utilities … Pets? Not                                 officially, but as long as it’s quiet. … A what? Who in their right mind has a lobster for a pet?  … No, it’s not                             that I don’t like them. I love them, especially with a little melted butter and some coleslaw … hello?

                                   She looks at the phone as if there’s something wrong with it, then puts it back in the cradle.

                                   She exits to the kitchen. There is a knock on the door which causes it to swing open. A few seconds                                       pass, and the door opens a little wider. PHIL sticks his head in.

PHIL:              Hello?

                                  PHIL takes a step in and stops. He is wearing dark dress pants and a white dress shirt. BERNIE                                              enters with a coffee mug in hand. She stops when she sees him.

BERNIE:        Oh, hi. You must be the new super. It’s this way.

                                  BERNIE exits back into the kitchen. PHIL doesn’t move. BERNIE re-enters.

BERNIE:        It’s the kitchen window – right through here.

                                  BERNIE waits; PHIL doesn’t move.

BERNIE:        You’re not the new super, are you?

                                  PHIL shakes his head.

BERNIE:        Then how did you get in the building?

PHIL:             The main door was propped open.

BERNIE:        Oh. Someone must be moving.

PHIL:             And when I knocked, the door opened by itself.

BERNIE:        I guess I forgot to close it when I took out the garbage. So are you a bill collector?

PHIL:             No.

BERNIE:        Repo agent?

PHIL:             No.

BERNIE:        If you’re selling something, I’m not exactly in buying mode.

PHIL:             I’m here about the ad in the paper.

                                    PHIL pulls a newspaper clipping out of his shirt pocket and reads it.

PHIL:             “Roommate wanted, available immediately, call Bernie.” Is he around?

BERNIE:        Keep reading. It says I’m looking for a female roommate.

PHIL:             You’re Bernie?

BERNIE:        I am. How did you even find this place? All I put down was a phone number.

PHIL:             I did a reverse lookup. I thought I should apply in person. I don’t come across as very dynamic over the                                  phone.

BERNIE:        Well, it would appear you’ve wasted your time.

PHIL:             (beat) You look familiar.

BERNIE:        Seriously? That old line?

PHIL:             What old line?

BERNIE:        You look familiar – that’s the oldest line in the book.

PHIL:             What book?

BERNIE:        Look, the ad says female roommate, so –

PHIL:             I’m sure we’ve met. I’ve got a good memory for faces.

BERNIE:        And I’ve got a Louisville Slugger for intruders, so how about you see if that door closes from the outside as                            easily as it opens.

PHIL:             I know; we went to high school together.

BERNIE:        I don’t –

PHIL:             Bernie is short for Bernadette, isn’t it? You’re Bernadette Davis. I mean, who could forget the most popular                              girl in all of Darwin High? You were a cheerleader, and the head of the social committee, and prom queen.                              Everyone knew you. Your locker was on the second floor, outside Mr. Scott’s classroom, third from the left.                              On the inside of the door, you had a poster from the high school production of Grease, and a picture of …                              oh, who was that famous actor …

BERNIE:        Forget who that was, who the hell are you?

PHIL:             James Dean!

BERNIE:        You’re James Dean?

PHIL:             No, I’m Phil Gibson. James Dean was in your locker. Well, a picture of him.

BERNIE:        I don’t remember any Phil Gibson from high school.

PHIL:             You wouldn’t. We travelled in different circles.

BERNIE:        You seem to know a lot about me.

PHIL:             I have a good memory for details. Don’t get the wrong idea; it’s not weird or anything. I mean, it’s not like I                              remember the combination to your locker. But I sure remember you. You were always the centre of                                          attention.

BERNIE:        Gee, I’m sorry I don’t remember meeting you.

PHIL:             We never actually met. About the only thing we had in common were the guys on the football team.

BERNIE:        But I knew all the guys on the football team.

PHIL:             Oh, I wasn’t on the team. I just used to hang around in the locker room … literally. They used to hang me                                by my underwear from a coat hook.

BERNIE:        Wait a minute. Are you Phyllis?

                                   PHIL just nods.

BERNIE:        I heard about you. Did they really hold you upside down and dunk your head in the toilet?

PHIL:             They called it a swirly.

BERNIE:        That’s terrible.

PHIL:             It was harmless enough.

BERNIE:        Harmless!? It was a toilet.

PHIL:             They always flushed it first.

Copyright © John Spurway 2013