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Post Road Magazine #32

The Bakery Off Flatbush

Steve Monroe

In the Dark:


The sounds of slow moving traffic, breaks braking, tires rolling, maybe a horn blowing.


The lights rise to reveal the front of a bakery, nondescript, with a couple of windows and a door.


There are two benches facing each other. It is after the morning rush, about 10:30 AM. No one is there except A WOMAN, twenties, dressed for the office, sitting on one of the benches. She speaks into her cell phone.


WOMAN: She has the bigger room! That was the agreement, that she would keep the beast in her room with her.

That is why I let her have the bigger room. (Listens.) I've never called it that. I've never called it the beast in front of her. I'm calling it a beast now, to you, because I thought you were my friend and I thought you were on my side. (Listens.) Well it doesn't sound like it. It sounds like you're on her side. (Listens.) I have pet it. I've pet it enough for ninety-nine lifetimes. (Listens.) I do hate it. (Listens.) BECAUSE IT IS DEMENTED! (Listens.) Oh! It's nice to you when you're there. How sweet. You're there for twenty fucking minutes. You don't know anything! (Listens.) So I should keep my door closed? I should isolate myself? I should not feel the benefits of the air conditioning? (Listens.) Its face was right next to mine. I opened my eyes and it was right there. (Listens.) I didn't scare it! The fucking thing smiled and raised its left paw like a guillotine!

I've got a six-inch gash above my right breast. (Listens.) So you have talked to her. (Listens.) I didn't say I was going to poison it.

The door to the bakery opens with the dinging of a bell. A YOUNG MOTHER clumsily pushes out a bulky stroller while holding a white paper bag in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

MOTHER: (speaks to the unseen baby in the stroller.)

Mommy got us a croissant. Yes, Mommy did.

WOMAN: (turns on the bench and whispers.) I said I would poison it if it ever scratched me again.

MOTHER: A big fat flaky croissant. Can you say croissant?

WOMAN: (still whispering) It's not the same thing.

MOTHER: Say it. Croissant... croissant.

WOMAN: It's not.

The Mother settles on the bench directly across from The Woman.

MOTHER: Croissant. Say it. Can you say it? Croissant. (Her face lights up!) Very good! Very good!

WOMAN: Hold on. Hold on. (She lowers the phone into her lap.)

MOTHER: Daddy's going to be so proud. So proud.

She pulls a croissant out of the bag, breaks off a piece and feeds it to the still and never-to-be-seen baby.

WOMAN: (lifts phone again and turns away.) Yeah. Hello? No. Nothing.

MOTHER: Croissant's a hard word. Yes, it is.

WOMAN: It's...

MOTHER: Croissant's a very hard word.

WOMAN: Hold on. Just...

The Woman again lowers the phone to her lap.

MOTHER: And you said it. Yes, you did. You said it.

The Mother breaks off another piece of croissant and feeds the baby while The Woman looks at her.

The Mother notices the Woman looking.

MOTHER (cont'd): Can I help you?

WOMAN: Are you going to be long?

MOTHER: Excuse me?

WOMAN: Are you going to be sitting here long?

MOTHER: I was going to sit here and drink my cup of coffee and eat my croissant. Why?

WOMAN: I'm having a conversation. (The Woman holds her phone as proof.)

MOTHER: Forgive me for invading your phone booth.

The Mother turns her attention to the baby as if she just put an end to the conversation.

MOTHER (cont'd): Is it good? Is it good?

WOMAN: (back into phone.) Hold on. I know you have to go. Just...hold on. (To the Mother.) I was here first.

MOTHER: What?

WOMAN: You clearly saw that I was talking—

MOTHER: Are you even a customer?

WOMAN: And yet you plop yourself right across—

MOTHER: Did you buy anything?

WOMAN: This is the only spot I get reception between here and the subway.

MOTHER: Then get a better phone.

They stare at each other. A stand-off. Even though they're both still sitting.

Finally the Woman raises her phone to her ear, still keeping her eyes locked with the Mother's.

WOMAN: Jean, I'm going to have to—Jean? Jean?

She stands and holds the phone to the sky searching for bars.

WOMAN (cont'd): Hello? Hello?

Skyward again.

WOMAN (cont'd): Jean? Jean?

Jean is clearly gone. She disconnects and tries re-dialing. Nothing. No service.

WOMAN (cont'd): Shit.

She stuffs the phone in her purse.

The Mother meanwhile has returned to feeding the baby.

MOTHER: Isn't that good? So good. So good.

WOMAN: Thanks a lot. Thank you very much.

MOTHER: Oh, you're welcome.

The Woman starts off.

WOMAN: (slightly mumbles.) I hope your baby chokes on the croissant.

MOTHER (STANDS QUICKLY!)

What did you say?!

WOMAN: (turns to the Mother)

You and your fucking strollers, you're ruining the neighborhood!

The Woman exits.

MOTHER: (calls after her) Then move, sweetheart, cause we're not going anywhere!

She continues to stand looking after the Woman.

MOTHER (cont'd): (screams) Asshole!

She sits, clearly shaken.

MOTHER (cont'd): (half to herself, half to the baby) Do you believe that?!

She takes deep breaths trying to calm herself.

MOTHER (cont'd): I just want to sit here and have a nice cup of coffee.

Her cell phone rings. It startles her. She takes it out of her purse. She looks at it warily, as if it might somehow be the Woman calling.

MOTHER (cont'd): Hello...? Hello...? Oh, yes, yes. Sure. Two o'clock tomorrow? Great. And that's with Cherry? Yes. No. Cut and color. Cut and color. Yes. Thank you. See you then. Uh-huh. Bye.

She disconnects and puts the phone in her purse. She takes another deep breath. She is clearly still upset.

MOTHER (cont'd): What an asshole.

She turns and looks into the stroller.

MOTHER (cont'd): (small laugh) Asshole, yes. (Another laugh) You shouldn't say that but this time I'll make an exception. Asshole. Right.

The Mother doesn't see the Woman reenter.

MOTHER (cont'd): She was a total asshole.

WOMAN: Excuse me.

Startled, the Mother stands and places herself between the stroller and The Woman.

WOMAN (cont'd): (holding up her hands indicating she means no harm) I just want to say I'm sorry. You had every right to be here and I... should have never said that about your baby and I just wanted to say that I'm sorry.

The Mother puts her hand to her chest.

MOTHER: Thank you.

The encounter has clearly left both of them emotional.

WOMAN: Well... you have a nice day.

MOTHER: You too.

Again, the Woman exits.

The Mother sits. She pulls the stroller to the previous position. She tries to gather her emotions, maybe even wipes a tear.

She turns and looks to the stroller.

MOTHER (cont'd): No, she was not an asshole. It turns out she was not an asshole at all and you have to stop saying it.

Pause as she continues to look into the stroller.

MOTHER (cont'd): I know mommy said it but mommy was wrong.

Pause.

MOTHER (cont'd): Don't say it.

She holds up her finger to caution.

MOTHER (cont'd): I said to stop saying it.

Pause

MOTHER (cont'd): One more time and we're going home.

Pause.

MOTHER (cont'd): One more time.

Longer pause as the Mother stares.

MOTHER (cont'd): That's it! Let's go!

The Mother stands.


BLACK OUT


THE END



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