(Lights up on a dilapidated apartment. There are a few pieces of cheap furniture and a dirty mattress on the floor. A tower of books leans against the wall, teetering unsteadily and on the verge of toppling over. Several more books are scattered throughout the apartment. There are the only things that look new, clean, and well-cared-for. A single window with ratty curtains looks out over the city. The room is illuminated by lightning and street lights coming in through the window. The DEALER unlocks the door and holds it open for the SEEKER. Once she is inside, he shuts the door and locks it. The SEEKER surveys her new surroundings.)
SEEKER: (Sarcastically) You sure know how to impress a girl.
DEALER: I never said it was impressive. Convenient, I said, and safe. Never impressive.
SEEKER: It’s dry. That’s what counts. Do you bring many customers here?
DEALER: You’re the first.
SEEKER: You’re kidding.
DEALER: No. Are you surprised?
SEEKER: Yes. Am I special?
DEALER: Special to someone or special to me?
SEEKER: You know.
DEALER: I told you, you’re the first one I’ve brought back to my place. (He goes over to the mattress and pushes a pile of books to the floor.) Sorry for the mess. I’m a bibliophile.
SEEKER: You’re a what?
DEALER: Bibliophile. Book lover. It’s my secret shame, my cross to bear. What about you? Any secrets to confess?
SEEKER: Nothing comes to mind.
DEALER: Come on. There must be something.
SEEKER: I write in a diary.
DEALER: Oh, is that the best you’ve got?
SEEKER: I write a lot about touch. The idea of contact. I like to make up scenarios in which someone accidentally brushes against me and lingers a little too long to be appropriate. (Pause.) I have dreams about it, too, sometimes. I write those down as well. My mother found my diary the other day and she freaked out. She doesn’t want me getting caught up in the idea of–well, you know. You saw the way she acted.
DEALER: You knew she was reading your diary and you still wrote about me. Why?
SEEKER: I couldn’t get you off my mind. I had to tell somebody.
DEALER: I see. (He gestures to the mattress.) Have a seat, if you want. It’s not as dirty as it looks. It’s just somebody’s cast-off. I got it at the–okay, I guess it doesn’t matter. (Hesitantly, she sits down. He sits down beside her. They are not touching.) How are you feeling?
SEEKER: Nervous more than anything.
DEALER: You should be.
SEEKER: Gee, thanks.
DEALER: I mean it. (He touches her arm. She doesn’t flinch this time.) I want you to know what you’re getting yourself into. There are significant risks involved in our little arrangement. I hate to even say this, but should we get caught… you and I could both be facing serious jail time.
SEEKER: Ten years is ten years. It’ll pass all the same.
DEALER: Ten years for you would be fifteen for me–that is, if I’m lucky.
SEEKER: And what if you’re not?
DEALER: Maybe twenty or thirty. (Beat.) Needless to say, there’s a great deal at stake.
SEEKER: Do you think it’s worth it?
DEALER: I don’t know. Do you?
SEEKER: (She covers his hand with hers, smiling.) Where do we go from here?
DEALER: Wherever you like. You said you had some ideas?
SEEKER: Only a few.
DEALER: I can work with a few. After that, we can improvise. (He touches her face, strokes her hair, and slides his hands down her arms. She takes her hands in his and interlaces their fingers. She grins.)
SEEKER: I’ve been dying to try this. I mean, holding hands. I saw it in a movie once.
DEALER: Movie? What movie? I thought they edited all of them.
SEEKER: It was a long time ago, when I was a toddler. My mother had a video disc that she found in her closet. She put it into the player and skipped to the part where the couple was holding hands, standing on a hill, looking out over a city. She kept replaying that scene, over and over, and then she started crying. I didn’t know why. Her parole officer found the disc a little later but decided, for some reason, not to report her. That’s all I remember.
DEALER: Your mom was an addict?
SEEKER: Yeah, one of the first. She used to say that like it was something to be proud of. After some girls at my school got arrested, though… She told me the most awful stories of things she’d seen in prison, people at rehab, stuff like that. She didn’t want me to end up like her. She didn’t want me seeking some attention from a dealer.
DEALER: Hence the tension in the alley.
SEEKER: Right. That was awful. (She drops her hands from his and pulls him into a hug. He embraces her tightly, continuing to hold her when she doesn’t pull away.)
DEALER: Does this feel good to you?
SEEKER: It does.
DEALER: It does to me, too… Not that it matters. Was there anything else that you wanted to try?
SEEKER: There was one thing.
DEALER: What? (She pulls away and smiles shyly. He returns the smile.) I bet I could guess.
SEEKER: You could definitely guess. (He leans in and kisses her full on the mouth. She melts into the contact. They continue kissing and lie down on the mattress.)
DEALER: Am I getting warm?
DEALER: Are you sure you want to do this?
SEEKER: No, but I do want to. I’m scared and excited. (Pause.) I trust you.
DEALER: I’m glad.
(He leans over her and they kiss again. Lights fade.)
To Be Continued…
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