IF ONLY, a short play, by Brad Vance

I’m starting to write these specifically for actors in my class, on demand. Yes, I’m popular! Well, okay the plays are 🙂 Seriously, taking these acting classes is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. These little plays are tapping a creative side of me that doesn’t get to come out in the novels. I can write plays as absurd or off the rails as I want, and the crazier the better.

IF ONLY by Brad Vance

CHARACTERS

AGENT ONE, Counterfactual Intelligence Agent, any age/gender, person of color

AGENT TWO, Counterfactual Intelligence Agent, any age/gender, person of color

NARRATOR, male, very white, late 20s

LOCATION

A living room/the narrator’s subconscious.

TIME

Late at night.

NARRATOR sits in a comfortable chair. Behind him stage right is AGENT ONE, behind him stage left is AGENT TWO, both in folding metal chairs. The three chairs form a triangle. AGENT ONE and AGENT TWO both hold pads of paper and pens, making notes like therapists. NARRATOR drinks throughout the play, getting more maudlin. With one exception, NARRATOR looks straight ahead the entire time; the AGENTS are only voices in his head.

NARRATOR

(Heavy sigh. He hits himself in the forehead.)

Stupid, stupid, stupid. You always do this. You always fuck it up.

AGENT ONE

(Gently)

Let’s take a look at what happened, okay? Let’s walk through this non judgmentally and see where you took a wrong turn.

NARRATOR

She caught me looking at her. And she smiled. And I looked away as fast as I could. And when I looked back, she had that… blank look on her face, she wouldn’t look at me again. And now she thinks I’m a rude asshole.

AGENT ONE

Why were you so scared?

NARRATOR

Because… because she caught me looking!

AGENT ONE

Okay, and what’s so bad about that?

NARRATOR

You know.

AGENT TWO

Because you think she’s too good for you?

(AGENT ONE shoots him a dirty look. AGENT TWO throws his hands in the air as if to say, what do you want me to say?)

NARRATOR

She is way too good for me. Too smart, too pretty, and God she’s even nice, that’s the worst part.

AGENT TWO

So you’d rather she was a bitch, because that would make it easier?

AGENT ONE

(Tears off a piece of paper and throws it at AGENT TWO.)

NARRATOR

Yes!

AGENT ONE

Maybe she’s just polite. She smiled at you, that’s what normal people do when they see other people looking at them.

NARRATOR

Really?

AGENT TWO

(Sighs)

AGENT ONE

Really.

NARRATOR

Oh it doesn’t matter. I’m always going to be this ridiculously socially incompetent person. It’s too late for me now.

AGENT TWO

Dude. You’re 28 years old.

AGENT ONE

(to AGENT TWO)

Shut the fuck up!

AGENT TWO

(to AGENT ONE)

Come on. If you’re 18, you can act as awkward and shy as fucking Morrissey and it’s cute. When you’re 28, it’s a mental disorder.

NARRATOR

(Sighs)

If only…

AGENT ONE and AGENT TWO both sigh, lean back in their chairs, their faces saying, “here we go.”

AGENT ONE

Let’s not talk about what might have been. What can you do next time this happens?

NARRATOR

Don’t look. Don’t get caught looking.

AGENT ONE

Or you could smile back. What do you do when the clerk smiles at you in the grocery store?

NARRATOR

I smile back. But that’s different. I don’t have a crush on her.

AGENT TWO

She’s got one on you. And you’re oblivious to that.

AGENT ONE

Right, she does. So it stands to reason that this other girl has no idea you have a crush on her.

AGENT TWO

Well, the clerk doesn’t have that thundering desire for love written all over her face. Kinda makes a difference.

AGENT ONE

(shoots AGENT TWO a look. Then, to NARRATOR)

You’re an actor, right?

NARRATOR

Yeah…

AGENT ONE

Well then, just act the part of someone who’s not attracted to her. Like someone who’s just interviewing her for a job, or as a potential roommate.

NARRATOR

Oh God, seeing her all the time? I’d just die if she was my roommate.

AGENT TWO

So would she.

AGENT ONE

(to AGENT TWO)

You’re really fucking with my game here.

AGENT TWO

That’s my job, man. You stay on the sunny side and I’ll stay on the shady side.

AGENT ONE

Anyway.

AGENT TWO

(back to NARRATOR)

Seriously. Think just a little further into the future. You’ve got this image of her as so perfect and unattainable.

NARRATOR

She is, she’s so…

AGENT TWO

(cuts him off)

What if you go out with her, and you pick her up at her place, and she’s wearing a big ass fur coat. You’re an animal rights guy. Or you start talking at dinner, and she tells you how gross trans people are. You don’t believe that. You don’t know anything about her. She could be a terrible person. You could have dodged a bullet.

NARRATOR

No, I just know she’s not like that. It would be just my luck if she was the one for me, the perfect one, and I blew it.

AGENT ONE

Your luck’s not that bad. What about that time you nearly got busted outside that club? Your friends had you holding the drugs for them, remember? And the cops let you go, didn’t even search you? Because you looked like such a nice guy.

NARRATOR

(Hits himself in the forehead again.)

God, that was stupid. I was trying to impress them. If only I didn’t care what people thought so much…

AGENT TWO

Yeah and if only you were black, you would have been arrested.

NARRATOR

(Cocks his head slightly towards AGENT TWO)

What?

AGENT TWO

Nothing. Nothing of importance.

(Turns to AGENT ONE)

Objections?

AGENT ONE

Can’t argue with you there.

NARRATOR

I always blow my chances. Always! God, what about that guy I knew, who wanted to go into business with me, and he was so weird, he creeped me out.

AGENT TWO

Pot, kettle.

NARRATOR

I didn’t know what Asperger’s was! I could have got along with him, if only I’d known. God, I would be rich today, I’d be an Internet billionaire.

AGENT TWO

(To AGENT ONE)

This is what’s so boring about this job. It’s always money or sex.

AGENT ONE

Money or love.

AGENT TWO

Love, huh? Yeah, sure, whatever. You think he’s regretting that he didn’t fall in love, or that he didn’t get laid by that Marilyn Monroe lookalike?

AGENT ONE

Well, they’re not exclusive. Who knows, maybe they would have fallen in love if they’d…

AGENT TWO

(Jumps up)

HEY! Stop it. You’re sounding like him now.

AGENT ONE

(Gets up, shakes himself, sits down again.)

Damn, you’re right. That shit is really tempting, isn’t it.

AGENT TWO

Yeah man. I won’t report this, but, no more, okay? Just do your job.

AGENT ONE

(Back to Narrator)

But what do you think you would you have done, back then, if you’d had a billion dollars? With all your… issues?

AGENT TWO

Drugs and hookers.

AGENT ONE

Speak for yourself.

AGENT TWO

I wouldn’t have this job, that’s for sure.

NARRATOR

I don’t know. I would have… I would have…

AGENT ONE

Look. Do you know what Catch 22 is?

NARRATOR

No.

AGENT ONE

It’s an inescapable dilemma, because the rules are contradictory. The bank only loans money to people who can prove they don’t need it. The job that would give you experience won’t hire you until you have experience.

AGENT TWO

That’s some dark shit, coming from you.

AGENT ONE

(To AGENT TWO)

Let me finish.

(To NARRATOR)

It’s like this. Only the person you are now can decide what you’d change then, if you had the chance. But. If you could go back and change any of this, make a different decision, you’d be a different person now. And that person, that Internet billionaire for example, would regret something different in his life, would wish he could change something else. And he’d be sitting here saying, if only, if only.

NARRATOR

(Begins to sob.)

It’s hopeless then. No matter what I do, it’ll turn out wrong.

AGENT ONE

(To AGENT TWO)

I gotta see how many vacation days I have banked. I need one.

AGENT TWO

Hey, at least it’s not a Breaking Bad scenario, right? Walter White became the Bad Man because he got screwed by his friends, and they became billionaires and he had to teach high school chemistry. At least this guy just fucking sits around drinking and feeling sorry for himself, instead of you know, forming an international drug cartel.

AGENT ONE

See? You can be positive. You could fill in for me when I’m on a beach somewhere.

AGENT TWO

Fuck that. I’ll make you feel better, but no way am I doing your job for him.

NARRATOR

If only I hadn’t looked away, if only I’d smiled back, if only I’d…

(Falls asleep.)

AGENT ONE and AGENT TWO lean forward to whisper in his ear simultaneously.

AGENTS ONE AND TWO

If only you weren’t you.

BLACKOUT

2 Comments on IF ONLY, a short play, by Brad Vance

  1. OK, this one is *brilliant* Well done. Shop this one, honestly.

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