Lights up.plays

JACKIE is bringing TAYLOR to her motel room.

It’s dingy and outdated.

TAYLOR is dressed well, but not too well–she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself.

JACKIE: (opening the door) Well, here you go.

TAYLOR: (lugging suitcases in) Thank you.

JACKIE: It’s not fancy, but it works if you need to lay low for a couple of days.

TAYLOR: This will do, thank you. (she attempts to give JACKIE a tip)

JACKIE: What the heck are you doing?

TAYLOR: Giving you a tip.

JACKIE: What for?

TAYLOR: For showing me to my room. Here, take it.

JACKIE: Listen, Miss Sass. I may own a run-down motel, but I know it is not customary to tip the owner of any establishment. Keep your money.

TAYLOR puts the money back in her pocket.

JACKIE: Unless, of course, you felt like donating to the local pet shelter. They can always use money. If that was money you didn’t have any use for and were just going to give away anyway.

TAYLOR takes the money out again.

JACKIE: I don’t want you to feel pressured to do it now, though, now that I said that stuff.

TAYLOR: Here is some money. (places it in JACKIE’s hands) Do with it as you will.

JACKIE: I will. Thanks. (beat) You talk like you went to college, you talk pretty nice.

TAYLOR: Thank you.

JACKIE: It’s just we don’t get many people like you visiting these parts.

TAYLOR: Lucky me.

JACKIE: Are you visiting family?

TAYLOR: Not exactly.

JACKIE: Then what–

TAYLOR: Ms. (looks at her name tag) Denton, is it? I want to thank you for your hospitality. I came to these parts to be alone. To spend some time on self-reflection. To aid in that, I would humbly ask that if anyone calls asking for me to simply say you haven’t seen me. I have paid you, in advance, for one week’s stay. And I will continue to pay you, in advance and in cash for subsequent weeks, should they occur. In exchange for this ahead of time, cash payment, I would simply ask for some peace and quiet in return. Peace and quiet and not asking too many questions.

JACKIE: I understand, ma’am.

TAYLOR: Good, I’m so very glad. (beat) I didn’t mean to be curt. I’m doing research for a book I’m writing.

JACKIE: Aww, I thought you were a writer! That was my guess in the back of my head.

TAYLOR: Good for you.

JACKIE: (searching) Miss–

TAYLOR: It’s Ms., and you don’t need to know. (beat) You can refer to me as Ms. X, if it suits you.

JACKIE: Oh, it does, ma’am, Ms.–it does. (beat) I suppose I couldn’t know what the book was about?

TAYLOR: I may interview you later in the week, if you’re willing. But at the present moment, it’s best that you don’t know. (beat, pointedly) For your own safety.

JACKIE: (looking at Taylor’s bags) Now, you wouldn’t be doing anything illegal–

TAYLOR: Ms. Denton, at any point during my stay, you would be free to search my belongings. I have no criminal record or history of violent behavior. I’ve never been pulled over by the police or given a parking ticket. I’m simply here to observe.

JACKIE: Observe, huh? (beat) Like Sherlock Holmes? The art of deduction, was it?

TAYLOR: (a faint smile) Something like that.

JACKIE: Well, there’s no harm in observing, I always say. Looking, but not touching! (She laughs at herself.) I will leave you to it, Ms. X. Let me know if you need anything. (She starts to leave.)

TAYLOR: Thank you for your hospitality. One question, before you go.


TAYLOR: Where’s the local watering hole? If someone were to be out gossiping about the goings on in this community, where would they go?

JACKIE: Finnegan’s, most likely. It’s a stone’s throw from here, about four blocks. Take a right as you head out of the parking lot, turn left onto Hickory Street and you’ll see the flickering neon sign. That’ll be it.

TAYLOR: Again, thank you so much.

JACKIE: My pleasure. I like helping people. And dogs. (She moves to the door, turns around before she goes.) Hey, maybe I’ll get to read your book some day.

TAYLOR: I’ll gladly send you an autographed first edition.

JACKIE exits.

TAYLOR gets out a small recorder and pushes a button.

TAYLOR: Entry number one. The subject is eager to please and may prove to be a valuable ally in executing this mission…

Lights out.