The Digit

When a mid-50s man goes shopping        31 July 2008

Characters

Frank 50-year-old journalist, divorced, in relationship with Sandy

Sandy (voice only) Frank’s partner

Woman shopper Early 40s, attractive blonde, dressed in white t-shirt, tight, faded denim jeans, boots

Man who parks in disabled bay 60-ish, fit-looking, stylish with long, neat silver hair, wears navy cord trousers and loafers, Viyella shirt with lemon-coloured cashmere pullover tied about his neck.

Shop assistant Funkily dressed late teenager, chewing gum

Old Man 70-80 walking with difficulty using a frame

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Frank is driving to a shopping centre, talking to his partner Sandy on speaker phone

Frank

I’d buy her clothes if I could stand going into one of those young people shops. …While we’re on that subject, why do all those women in Claremont wear that uniform?

Sandy

What are you talking about?

Frank

You know – white t-shirt, tight faded denim jeans, boots … and they’re mostly blondes.

Sandy

(resignedly) I don’t know Frank. Now back to Hannah’s present. – In Claremont there’s a shop called Brangeline….Even you should be able to handle that. – One of Lachlan’s friends manages it and she keeps her staff in line. It’s a bit funky for you – but you’ll cope.

FRANK TURNS INTO A BASEMENT CAR PARK AND MUMBLES DISAGREEABLY ABOUT THE NUMBER OF DISABLED BAYS BEFORE UNKNOWINGLY PARKING IN A BAY WITH ‘PRAMS ONLY’ PAINTED ON THE FLOOR. AS HE ALIGHTS HE IS CONFRONTED BY A PASSING SHOPPER, DRESSED IN WHAT HE PREVIOUSLY DESCRIBED AS ‘THE CLAREMONT UNIFORM.

SHOPPER FRENZY: PROGRESSIVE RAILS AGAINST OUR HERO Picture Alliance

Woman

What are you doing?

Frank

(looking surprised) Pardon me?

Woman

You heard me? – What are you doing?

Frank

I’m parking and I’m going shopping… Do we know each other?

Woman

No we don’t. That’s a prams only parking bay. – I’ll bet you haven’t got a pram in there.

Frank

(realising his error, replies sarcastically) No, but I may have soon. I think my eldest daughter is getting married.

Woman

People like you make me sick. – What gives you the right to park there?

Frank

I have no right because I made a mistake… but I’m out of the car now and I’m only going to be in here a few minutes so I think I’ll let it ride if you don’t mind?

Woman

Well, I do mind. – You should shift the car.

Frank

Who are you, the Police Commissioner’s mother? – I’ll move it when I leave, in a few minutes.

FRANK MOVES PAST THE WOMAN AS A RANGE ROVER PULLS INTO A NEARBY DISABLED BAY. A PERFECTLY FIT MAN GETS OUT AND WALKS INTO THE SHOPPING AREA. FRANK TURNS TO THE WOMAN. HIS MANNER QUESTIONS WHAT HER REACTION MIGHT BE TO THIS SCENARIO.

Frank

(looking back) What are you going to do about this guy? – Call in the SAS?

THE WOMAN GIVES HIM THE FINGER.

FRANK IS STANDING IN A CLOTHING SHOP THAT CATERS FOR TEENAGERS AND EARLY 20S. HE IS THE ONLY ONE IN THE STORE AND RAP MUSIC WITH PROFANE LYRICS IS BLARING. HE IS THUMBING THROUGH SOME SALE ITEMS ABOUT 10 METRES FROM THE SHOP COUNTER.  A SHOP ASSISTANT IS LISTENING TO AN IPOD AND READING A GOSSIP MAGAZINE. HE ADDRESSES HER OVER HIS SHOULDER.

Frank

(pleasantly) Do you play the music this loud to keep people my age out of the store?

THE SHOP ASSISTANT DOES NOT RESPOND AND FRANK SHAKES HIS HEAD. HE TAKES AN ITEM FROM THE RACK AND WALKS CLOSER TO MAKE AN INQUIRY. FROM ABOUT FIVE METRES AWAY HE SAYS.

Frank

Is there a size on this because I can’t see it?

THE SHOP ASSISTANT GIVES HIM A BLANK STARE, CONTINUES TO CHEW GUM AND READ HER MAGAZINE. FRANK MOVES CLOSER TO THE COUNTER AND SMILES. HE HOLDS THE CLOTHING ITEM UP TO SHOULDER HEIGHT.

Frank

I wonder if you could help me? Is there a size on this because I can’t see it?

THE YOUNG WOMAN TAKES ONE EARPIECE OUT.

Shop Assistant

What?

Frank

Is there a size on this because I can’t see it?

Shop Assistant

(returning earpiece) One size fits all.

SHE LOOKS BACK DOWN AT THE MAGAZINE.

Frank

(voice raised) You see I’ve never got that. – How can one size fit all? – Like Edith Piaf can wear the same top as Tiny Pinder? – I don’t get that?

Shop Assistant

(with slight scowl) What?

Frank

Do you people play this shit this loud to keep people my age out of the store?

Shop Assistant

No. – But perhaps we should.

THE STORE TELEPHONE RINGS, THE ASSISTANT BEGINS TALKING TO A FRIEND. THE CHAT IS ALL ABOUT LAST NIGHT AND WHAT SHE IS PLANNING TO DO THAT NIGHT.

FRANK WANDERS BACK TO THE COUNTER WITH ANOTHER GARMENT, HOLDING IT UP INQUIRINGLY.  THE YOUNG WOMAN TURNS HER BACK ON HIM AND CONTINUES TALKING. FRANK TAKES THE GARMENT AND WALKS TO THE FRONT OF THE SHOP, TAKING OUT HIS MOBILE.

AS HE IS ABOUT TO DIAL DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE HIS PHONE RINGS. IT IS HIS EX-WIFE ASKING FOR MONEY.

FRANK BLOWS OFF HIS EX AND GETS A NEGATIVE

Frank

(agitatedly) I can’t talk now. – I’m doing something.

HE HANGS UP AND BEGINS DIALLING BUT THE SCREEN LIGHTS UP WITH THE IMAGE OF THE FINGER.  HE WALKS BACK TO THE COUNTER.

Frank

(very loudly, walking towards counter) Is that Directory Assistance? Moda Alla Brangeline Claremont please…- thank you operator….9383 7575, thank you. I hope it’s not engaged because I am in a bit of a hurry… – Thank you again operator, that’s very considerate of you but I will dial the number myself thank you.

HE DIALS THE NUMBER AND PLAYS THE BUSY TONE IN THE SHOP ASSISTANT’S OTHER EAR BUT SHE TURNS AWAY AGAIN, GIVES HIM THE FINGER AND HE WALKS OUT OF THE SHOP, TOSSING THE GARMENT GAILY IN THE AIR.

FRANK WALKS TO HIS CAR AND AS HE PASSES THE RANGE ROVER, THE DRIVER IS STANDING PATTING HIS TROUSER POCKETS FOR KEYS. A WOMAN, UPPER BODY AND FACE OBSCURED BY A BIG, AWKWARDLY SHAPED PARCEL, COMES OUT OF THE SHOPPING CENTRE. SHE LOWERS THE PARCEL TO SEE WHERE SHE IS GOING, REVEALING THE ‘PRAMS ONLY’ WOMAN.

LOOK ALIKE: THE TENNIS PLAYER

Frank

Would you like a hand with that?

Woman

(about to say ‘Yes’ before realising who it is) I’d rather leave it here and have it run over by the trolley kid.

Frank

Fair enough. (pointing to the Range Rover whose driver is out of earshot) By the way, why aren’t you giving Richard Zachariah here a hard time?

Woman

He’s visually impaired.

Frank

How do you know that?

Woman

He’s in my tennis club. I’ve seen him around.

Frank

(sarcastically) Visually impaired – you mean blind? Plays the drop volley by Braille? (More forcefully) He drove in her like Jack Brabham. How can he be blind?

Woman

He was blind. He’s had the operation on his cornea. He can see again.

Frank

So if he can see again, he’s not disabled so he shouldn’t be in the spot. Me, – I’ve got five children. Maybe I’m making up for all the times I parked with a pram in the days when there weren’t prams-only spots?

Woman

Oh, fuck off.

FRANK GETS INTO HIS CAR.  THE WOMAN STRUGGLES TO GET THE PARCEL IN HER CAR BOOT. AS HE SLOWLY DRIVES OFF LOOKING AND LAUGHING AT HER, SHE PUTS DOWN THE PARCEL AND GIVES HIM THE FINGER.

AT THE SAME TIME AN ELDERLY MAN WITH A WALKING FRAME WALKS IN FRONT OF FRANK’S CAR. FRANK IS STILL LOOKING AT THE WOMAN WHEN A LIGHT THUD IS HEARD.

THE OLD MAN IS LAID OUT AT THE FRONT OF FRANK’S CAR. THE MAN’S WALKING FRAME HAS GONE FLYING AWAY FROM THE MISHAP.

FRANK JUMPS OUT OF THE CAR AND RUNS TO HIS AID.

Frank

Oh my God! – God! – Are you okay?

“GOD, THIS HURTS”

THE WOMAN HAS LEFT HER PARCEL ON THE CAR PARK FLOOR AND RUNS ACROSS TO ASSIST. THE TWO ATTEMPT TO LIFT HIM.

Old Man

No, I can’t stand. My legs are shot… and I’ve hurt my hand.

Woman

See what you’ve done. You shouldn’t have been in that spot.

Frank

Yeah right! – That made all the difference. If you hadn’t poked your head in where it didn’t belong, I wouldn’t have bothered to be looking at you and laughing.

THE OLD MAN MOANS.

Woman

Don’t worry we’ll help you. How did you get here?

Old Man

I parked over there (motions to back of car park). I need my frame.

Frank

Why were you parking over there? You should be in a disabled bay close to the doorway.

Old Man

I can’t get a disabled sticker. They reckon I’m not really disabled because it’s arthritis. I usually park there anyway but all the disabled bays were taken.

Frank

That’s fuckin’ ridiculous. There was a bloke over there in a ….

AS HE SPEAKS THE RANGE ROVER REVERSES, CRUSHING THE WOMAN’S PARCEL. IT THEN ROARS PAST WITH THE DRIVER STARING FIXEDLY AHEAD, NOT NOTICING THEM ONLY A FEW METRES AWAY. HIS VEHICLE RUNS OVER THE WALKING FRAME, MANGLING IT, AND CONTINUES UNABATED.

FRANK AND THE WOMAN LOOK ON IN HORROR, LOOK AT THE FRAME, LOOK AT EACH OTHER AND THEN LOOK DOWN AT THE OLD MAN.

HE LOOKS BACK AT THEM AND POINTS HIS MIDDLE FINGER UP DIRECTLY AT THEM BOTH.

Old Man

God, this hurts!

END

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