Indecent Exposure (excerpt)

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INDECENT EXPOSURE

 

A ten-minute play

 

By Tamsin K. Walker

 

 

 

 

 

CHARACTERS

Simon, the health and safety inspector (mid-forties)

Claudia, the bureaucrat (late-twenties)

Martin, the bureaucrat (mid-thirties)

Jenny, the bureaucrat (late-thirties)


An office. Nothing fancy, nothing modern. But very well ordered. It has the feel, the smell, the lighting of a bureaucratic place of work. Upon three identical desks sit three identical computers. The walls are lined with cupboards and drawers labelled things like: pens, hats, scarves, shoes, earplugs, coats.

A man (MARTIN) is sitting at one of the computers reading a newspaper). He is wearing slippers.

MARTIN: Oh my God! (reads on) This is a dark day for democracy. 

A woman (JENNY) enters. She is very warmly dressed.

JENNY: It’s freezing out there.

MARTIN: You got your thermals on?

JENNY: (taking off her coat and scarf etc. and putting them in the respective drawers/cupboards) Of course I have.

MARTIN: Best thing about winter, thermals.

JENNY: And hot water bottles.

MARTIN: And inhalation baths.

JENNY: And foot baths.

MARTIN: And heat cushions.

JENNY: And snow-lined boots.

MARTIN: Thermals are still the best though. I have a suit with incorporated gloves and balaclava. Almost impossible to get sick when I wear that.

JENNY: (puts on a pair of slippers identical to MARTIN’s) I ought to get one of them. I just have the standard trousers, vest, jumper, pants, socks, gloves and hat. And I’m sure the wind finds its way through the gaps. It must have done this morning because I can feel a chill coming on.

MARTIN: Uh-oh. And on this day of all days.

JENNY:  I’ll get through today, but don’t be surprised if I’m not here tomorrow.

MARTIN: Have you taken anything for it?

JENNY: Luckily I managed to get to the pharmacy last night. I have a seventh sense about illness-

MARTIN: Sixth.

JENNY: Pardon?

MARTIN: Sixth sense.

JENNY: Sixth then. Anyway, luckily I managed to get to the pharmacy to stock upon my winter medications. I doubt I’d be here now otherwise. They do provide for us remarkably well, don’t you think?

MARTIN: They do indeed.

JENNY: Have you been yourself yet?

MARTIN: I’m planning to go tonight actually. If I last that long.

JENNY: That sounds ominous.

MARTIN: I’m a bit ashamed to admit it Jenny, but I can trust you not to tell… can’t I?

JENNY: Of course. What is it?

MARTIN: I forgot to put my earplugs in this morning.

JENNY: Martin!

MARTIN: I know. I don’t know what got into me. Luckily I had some tissues in my pocket-

JENNY: I should jolly well hope so. We can’t afford to go anywhere without them.

MARTIN: (sheepish) Well quite… Anyway, I was at least able to fashion myself some earplug from the tissues. But the effect is not… it’s not as effective as the real thing. Not by a long shot and I know I’m going to have a fever before the day is out.

JENNY: Oh poor Martin. Shall I make you a hot water bottle? Or some tea?

MARTIN: Sweet of you Jenny but I think we’d each better make our own tea today. We don’t want to mix our germs up, do we? Who knows what kind of a hybrid they might create.

JENNY: I suppose you’re right. We don’t want to become headline news.

MARTIN: Certainly not… oh, and speaking of headlines, what do you make of today’s?

JENNY: I didn’t have time to look this morning. It’s not that man in the red jumper again is it?

MARTIN: No, they got him last week. But this is almost as bad. It’s that other man who set up a website to publish leaked government documents. You know the one?

JENNY: Not personally, but I know who you’re talking about.

MARTIN: Well he’s been sentenced to death.

JENNY: No?

MARTIN: Yes!

JENNY: Oh dear.

MARTIN: You can say that again. They’re calling it treason but I call it a scandal. An absolute scandal. He was framed, hung up by his balls… I can’t believe it. What he did was for the good of the people. He dared to step up to the line and stand for the freedom he believed in. He’ll go down in history he will and when he floats up to heaven, he’ll be welcomed into the ranks of the good and the great who died in the name of their cause. I bet Jesus is making a bed next to his own as we speak.

JENNY: I daresay the world would be a better place with more people like him in it.

MARTIN: People like him should be running the country… the world. They should be running places like this.

JENNY: Oh… I’m not so sure about that. I can see that he’d have been good at running the world, but I’m not convinced he’d have been so good at our helm.

MARTIN: Why ever not?

JENNY: Just because we have our own way of doing things.

MARTIN: There’s always room for change.

JENNY: I don’t think we need to be radicalized.

MARTIN: There’s nothing wrong with singing out of tune, Jenny.

JENNY: I know that, but there’s nothing wrong with singing in tune either. And we do it so beautifully in our office.

MARTIN: Indeed we do.

JENNY: And I hope we will be rewarded for that today.

MARTIN: What time is he due?

JENNY: 10.15.

MARTIN: We’ll do fine. Certainly ought to be given all the preparation we’ve done.

The door opens and another woman, CLAUDIA, enters. She too is dressed warmly.

CLAUDIA: Morning troops.

JENNY: Morning Claudia.

MARTIN: Hello.

CLAUDIA: (putting her clothes away in the correct places) It’s freezing out there this morning. I knew I should have bought the boots with triple fur lining. My feet get too cold in the double. I had to wait for the bus for six minutes! And now my throat feels like sandpaper.

MARTIN: Not you as well.

CLAUDIA: What, as well?

MARTIN: We’re both coming down with the flu.

CLAUDIA: Talk about timing.

JENNY: As long as we get through today. We can all call in sick tomorrow.

CLAUDIA: What time is he coming?

MARTIN: 10.15.

CLAUDIA: (putting on her slippers) We’ll be fine. We’ve spent long enough preparing.

MARTIN: That’s what I said. You heard the news, Claudi?

JENNY: Oh yes, it’s terrible. They’re going to execute the man who publishes leaked government papers.

MARTIN: Published. He doesn’t do it anymore, does he?

CLAUDIA: Fascists. I knew they would. From the moment they started talking about extraditing him, it was obvious. They wanted to get him somewhere they could murder him judicially. What a predictable bunch of fascists.

MARTIN: It’s a dark day for democracy.

CLAUDIA: Darker than dark.

JENNY: They should leave people like him alone and concentrate on real criminals.

CLAUDIA: (sneezing) You have never spoken a truer word than that, Jenny. You won’t believe what I saw this morning.

MARTIN: What?

JENNY: Not that man in the red jumper?

CLAUDIA: No, they got him last month. Didn’t they Martin?

MARTIN: Last week actually.

CLAUDIA: (to JENNY) They got him last week.

JENNY: I hope they put him in a straightjacket.

MARTIN: I think you can rest assured on that front.

JENNY: Serve him right. Thoughtless behaviour.

MARTIN: Absolutely. So come on, Claudi, what did you see this morning?

CLAUDIA: I saw a man with-

She is interrupted by a knock at the door.

JENNY: Who can that be?

MARTIN: Maybe it’s him.

CLAUDIA: But it’s only twelve minutes past ten. You said 10.15.

* * *

If you would like to read the rest of the play, feel free to contact me.

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