Short- Customer

NOTE: This is a short screenplay I wrote a while back that was published in a small literary journal in Minnesota . I’ve always enjoyed this piece because my main inspiration is the song “Customer” by The Replacements, a band I’ve admired for a very long time.

“Customer”

FADE IN

INT. STOP N GO CONVENIENCE STORE- AFTERNOON

The fluorescently lit interior of the Stop N Go resembles the most mundane shopping establishment ever conceived. Aisles are lined with overly processed foods that have been on the shelves since the store was erected. Behind the counter stands a very bored looking young woman with excessive makeup consisting exclusively of dark shades staring emotionlessly at a magazine. The only other person in the entire establishment is Mark. His hands are quivering and he’s trying to make it seem obvious that he’s staring at the girl behind the counter. Any time her head shifts even remotely Mark’s eyes go back to examining whatever junk food is in his hands. After several minutes of this torturous staring contest Mark gathers up the courage to check out. He has in his hands a hunting magazine and a lighter. Mark does not hunt and the lighter is for his roommate. The woman behind the counter doesn’t even make eye contact as she rings up his two items.

DREAM GIRL:

That’ll be eight dollars and seventy five cents.

MARK:

(No response)

Mark’s dream girl glances up at him, he can tell she’s getting confused. Mark begins to fumble his hands around inside his pockets dropping various coins, his cell phone, and his wallet on the counter. He hurriedly scrambles to shove everything back inside his pocket but drops the change on the floor. He leaves the change, grabs his credit card and hands it to his dream girl. The two of them stand in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes as they await for Mark’s card to be approved.

Inside Mark’s mind he’s relentlessly beating himself up. She hands him his card and speed walks out the front door. He walks inside his house, tosses his roommate Calvin the new lighter and Mark goes straight into his bedroom and collapses face first onto his bed.

INT. CALVIN AND MARK’S APARTMENT- AFTERNOON- THE NEXT DAY

A cool breeze blows through the open windows of Calvin and Mark’s apartment as they sit together on their tattered couch staring blankly at their flat screen television. Both of their faces have expressions of extreme boredom as Mark flips through every single channel attempting to find something of even remote interest while Calvin lights a cigarette. Both their expressions stay exactly the same as the stare emotionlessly at the TV. There’s never anything decent on. Calvin is the first to break the uncomfortable silence.

CALVIN:

Want to get high?

MARK:

Sometimes you sound like an after school special.

CALVIN:

What do you mean?

MARK:

We have nothing better to do with our time so as a remedy for our boring lives we must resort to drugs to make our lives seem fun and meaningful.

CALVIN:

That’s a lot to gather from one harmless question.

MARK:

Is it harmless?

CALVIN:

I like to believe so.

MARK:

That’s because you’re too high to know when something’s a bad idea.

CALVIN:

We smoke every day, I don’t see why this is suddenly an issue.

MARK:

When does it get to be too much, you know? I mean what do we do here?

CALVIN:

Right now I’d like to get high.

MARK:

It’s 2 o’clock.

CALVIN:

So?

MARK:

So! Isn’t it somewhat sad that the entirety of your day is centered on getting high?

CALVIN:

I wouldn’t say it’s the center of my day, just a very big part. Drugs are fun.

MARK:

You’re a true role model.

CALVIN:

Thank you.

(A couple seconds of awkward silence return, until Calvin speaks once again)

CALVIN:

So are you saying no to getting high?

(Cut to Mark taking a drag from a joint next to Calvin on the couch)

MARK:

I’m serious though, we really need to cut this shit out.

CALVIN:

Oh yeah, I completely agree.

INT. CALVIN AND MARK’S APARTMENT- TWO HOURS LATER

Calvin and Mark are still sitting in their exact same spots on the couch. Their living room has a vague yet mellow layer of smoke billowing throughout it as they both stare blankly at the home shopping network. Their eyes are red and slightly inflamed as if they’ve both suffered a serious allergy attack.

MARK:

Hey.

CALVIN:

(No response)

MARK:

Hey

(Nudges Calvin)

CALVIN:

What?

MARK:

Are you hungry?

CALVIN:

Not really, you?

MARK:

Yeah, I’m starving.

CALVIN:

When was the last time you ate anything?

MARK:

(Thinks for a minute)

I guess I haven’t, I slept till one, and then I’ve been out here since then.

CALVIN:

You should eat something.

MARK:

Yeah.

(Mark gets up and walks into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator door. He stares vacantly at the near barren interior of their pathetic food source)

MARK:

Hey.

CALVIN:

(No response)

MARK:

Hey!

CALVIN:

What?

MARK:

We don’t have any food.

CALVIN:

Really?

MARK:

Really.

CALVIN:

Well that’s a problem.

MARK:

No shit.

CALVIN:

We should do something about that.

MARK:

You think?

CALVIN:

Probably.

MARK:

Where should we go?

CALVIN:

How about the Stop-N-Go across the street?

MARK:

No I can’t go there.

CALVIN:

Why?

MARK:

(Returns to the couch)

I can’t.

CALVIN:

Yeah but why?

MARK:

Reasons.

CALVIN:

What reasons?

MARK:

I just can’t. Let’s just go to the market down the road.

CALVIN:

That’s a half mile away, I’m not walking that far, you may as well be asking me to run a marathon.

MARK:

I just don’t want people knowing I’m high.

CALVIN:

What people?

MARK:

You know, people. The kinds of people that go to stores.

CALVIN:

Is this about that chick?

MARK:

I assure you I don’t know what you’re talking about.

CALVIN:

Yeah! That’s it! You don’t want to be high in front of that weird Goth chick that works there.

MARK:

She’s far from Goth.

CALVIN:

Whatever, I’m right aren’t I.

MARK:

(No response)

CALVIN:

Your silence speaks volumes.

MARK:

Whatever man, can please just go somewhere else?

CALVIN:

No chance.

MARK:

Please?

CALVIN:

Nope. You need to conquer your fear of this girl. We go in there almost every day and I’m not about to take my business elsewhere because you can’t get over your irrational worries. Why not just ask her out?

MARK:

What if she says no? Then every time either of us would go in there it would be awkward.

CALVIN:

Well that’s a chance you’re going to have to take because it’s already awkward going in there now and watching you attempt to make small talk with her. Seriously bro, it’s painful.

MARK:

Whatever, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

CALVIN:

Listen, having a convenience store across the street is one of the main reasons why I wanted to get this place.

MARK:

Seriously?

CALVIN:

Sadly, yes. I have very low standards.

MARK:

Apparently.

CALVIN:

We’re going.

MARK:

We’re not going.

CALVIN:

We are going because we need food and you need to ask this girl out for your own sanity. Think about it, would you rather continue to stumble in there like a high idiot every day and wonder about what might happen, or would you rather be a man, take a chance and be the master of your own destiny?

MARK:

Will you shut up if I do it?

CALVIN:

Absolutely.

EXT. STOP-N-GO STOREFRONT- AFTERNOON

Mark and Calvin stop on the street corner just outside the store entrance. Mark stares at the store, his face is pale and he is visibly terrified.

CALVIN:

Moment of truth buddy.

MARK:

I changed my mind.

(Mark tries to run and run away, but he’s caught by Calvin)

CALVIN:

You’re not going anywhere. We came all this way and dammit we’re going to settle this right now. Now, do you want me to come in with you?

MARK:

Oh god no, that would be much worse.

CALVIN:

No problem, I’ll be right outside. It looks like you lucked out because she’s the only one in there. You ready?

MARK:

No. No part of me is ready for this.

CALVIN:

Well too bad, this is happening. Now get in there!

(Calvin shoves Mark towards the entrance)

CALVIN:

Don’t forget the food!

(He yells to Mark as he opens the front door, Mark frantically waves him off and gives him a murderous look)

Once inside, Mark notices his dream girl is indeed the only person in the entire building. She has a vague punk rock look, almost like she really enjoyed the music of The Clash in high school. Mark smiles and nods at her, she doesn’t pay any attention. Mark wanders over to the candy aisle and starts grabbing whatever looks tantalizing. He hears the bell ring for the front of the store and notices someone walk inside, Mark continues to look at random food items until the other person leaves. Mark slowly makes his way over to the soda coolers and starts frantically taking every kind of drink imaginable. His arms are now completely filled with miscellaneous snacks and beverages.

Mark drops all the food onto the counter in a heaping mass. He looks outside and sees Calvin staring directly at him with a devilish smirk on his face. Mark attempts to tell him to turn around but Calvin doesn’t listen.

DREAM GIRL:

That’ll be 35 dollars and 82 cents.

MARK:

(Nervously chuckles)

Sorry.

DREAM GIRL:

Would you like a couple bags?

MARK:

Yeah, that would be awesome.

(Hands her forty dollars and collects his change)

MARK:

Have a good one.

DREAM GIRL:

(Says nothing)

Mark starts walking towards the front door and stops. He looks out the window and sees Calvin giving him a death stare as if he can hear the entire interaction from outside. Mark sighs, turns around, and looks his dream girl in the eyes but she does not look back, in fact she doesn’t even notice him until he approaches her at the counter once again.

MARK:

Hey.

DREAM GIRL:

Yeah?

MARK:

This is going to sound really stupid, but I come in here all the time and I just have to ask this, but would you ever want to go out sometime?

DREAM GIRL:

(Without hesitation)

No.

MARK:

Oh… would you like to elaborate on why?

DREAM GIRL:

No.

MARK:

(Pauses)

Alright, you have a great day.

Mark steps outside and is met with Calvin wrapping his arm around Mark’s shoulders. Neither one of them says anything for about a minute until Calvin breaks the silence.

CALVIN:

Hey man, let’s go get high.

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