(short play script, written in 2014. Performed at the Let’s Act Showcase, 2014, at the University of Winchester. It was nominated for the Best Sketch PAW Award by Performing Arts Winchester, the University of Winchester Performing Arts Society)
Two Police Officers
Corridor of a police station. A single, folded chair leans against the wall. Enter GOOD COP and BAD COP, stage right, from the interview room where they have been interrogating the WRITER. Each can be any gender, age, build, etc. but Bad Cop towers over Good Cop. Both smartly dressed in simple, work clothing, such as suits. Bad Cop has a gun in a holster at their hip, or tucked into the back of their waistband. Good Cop is drinking coffee from a cardboard cup. Bad Cop smokes a cigarette. Bad Cop speaks with a noticeably “lower class” accent, whilst Good Cop is more “middle class”.
BAD COP: What do you think?
GOOD COP: Wassat?
BAD COP: Him in there. What do you think?
GOOD COP: Oh, him? Seems like an alright lot.
BAD COP: Signs of trauma?
GOOD COP: Nervous ticks.
BAD COP: Childhood?
GOOD COP: Nothing out of the ordinary?
BAD COP: Parents.
GOOD COP: They don’t make that sort of information available at this stage
BAD COP: He say anything?
GOOD COP: Wasn’t willing to.
BAD COP: Go find out. With this lot-
GOOD COP: (interrupting) Fans…
BAD COP: (continues) – it’ll be somewhere on the internet. He’ll have spilled something in an interview, or on his website. Stuck it in a blog post. That lot all have blogs, these days.
GOOD COP: (teasing) Not a fan?
Bad Cop snorts, flicks ash off the cigarette. Good Cop looks around, whispers nervously.
GOOD COP: Am I doing alright?
BAD COP: You’re doing okay.
GOOD COP: (disappointed) Just okay?
Bad Cop looks around, lowers voice.
BAD COP: You’re doing just fine. (coughs, straightens suit) You know, for being just out of uniform.
GOOD COP: You know, you could have just left it at “fine”…
Offstage, the WRITER gives a wail of despair.
GOOD COP: Do you think he’s-
BAD COP: No.
GOOD COP: Oh.
Bad Cop takes a long drag from the cigarette.
BAD COP: Your coffee is getting cold.
GOOD COP: Huh?
GOOD COP: Those things’ll kill you.
Bad Cop drops the cigarette and crushes it underfoot.
BAD COP: God, I hate writers.
GOOD COP: (gesturing to the crushed cigarette) What, and you need that to cope?
Writer wails again.
GOOD COP: Maybe he’s asthmatic…
BAD COP: Come again?
GOOD COP: Doesn’t matter.
GOOD COP: What do you make of… all this?
BAD COP: It’s obvious.
GOOD COP: It is?
BAD COP: Well, it’s a con, innit?
GOOD COP: It is?
BAD COP: Publicity stunt. Or possibly he’s just gone round the bend. I’ve heard that happens to his lot, sometimes.
GOOD COP: Writers?
BAD COP: Yeah, them.
GOOD COP: It does?
BAD COP: Well, yeah. It’s all cause of childhood trauma. They can’t deal with it so they get it all out into the world with books and shit.
GOOD COP: Actually, I think this guy does plays.
BAD COP: Same thing.
GOOD COP: You don’t do much reading, do you?
BAD COP: What’s that?
GOOD COP: Nothing. So, it’s a publicity stunt, right? Where did all the letters come from?
BAD COP: Wrote them himself, didn’t he? How’s handwriting doing on those?
GOOD COP: Probably sometime tomorrow morning.
BAD COP: Exactly. Then we’ll catch him. You can’t beat good, hard evidence.
GOOD COP: He’s done nothing wrong. You can’t press charges yet. Besides, he came to us. You wouldn’t do that if you’re guilty.
BAD COP: He’s delusional. He’s trying to be clever, by throwing us off the scent.
GOOD COP: Those are two different things…
BAD COP: I don’t know. You never can tell with writers. They’re like
GOOD COP: Why am I friends with you?
BAD COP: What?
GOOD COP: What?
GOOD COP: You know, he hasn’t actually killed anyone.
BAD COP: Yet.
GOOD COP: Could be a mad fan?
BAD COP: He has fans?
GOOD COP: A few. And He’s quite well known…
BAD COP: I’ve never heard of him.
GOOD COP: One day I am going to introduce you to a little thing called the internet. Anyway, it could be a mad fan. (gets excited) Oh! Or a… what do they call them? A troll or a hater or something?
BAD COP: Oh good lord…
GOOD COP: (ignores, giddy) Yes! That’ll be it! Some idiot who hates him decides to take things a step too far and sends a bunch of hate mail and death threats! (smug) It’s not unheard of.
BAD COP: Pretending to be one of his characters?
GOOD COP: (still smug) Well, they… (falters) Um…
BAD COP: Because that’s some dedication, for a “hater”.
They say the term with incredible sarcasm.
GOOD COP: It’s a theory. I’m proud of it. Don’t spoil the moment.
Offstage, Writer wails again, then sobs. This carries on over the next few lines.
BAD COP: Tell me, what kind of shit does this guy write, then?
GOOD COP: (thinks about it) Um… Murder stuff. Kind of “whodunit” type things…
BAD COP: Is that so?
Good Cop stands very rigid and speaks out towards the audience in a dull, robotic tone.
GOOD COP: Engaging and gripping mystery fiction. Plots with potential to be trite or clichéd are enlivened by stinging social satire and the occasional hint of the supernatural.
Bad Cop stares, bemused.
BAD COP: Read a lot of his work, do you?
Good Cop breaks out of their trance and hands their head, awkward and ashamed.
GOOD COP: (mumbles) Got it off Wikipedia…
Writer stops sobbing. Long pause. Absolute silence.
GOOD COP: Do you think he’s alright?
There is a quiet, unintelligible muttering. Only Bad Cop seems to hear it, tenses.
GOOD COP: (thoughtful) Maybe he’s going to extreme lengths for research?
Writer starts to laugh, quietly but maniacally. The muttering continues.
GOOD COP: Maybe he really is crazy…
BAD COP: Could you-
GOOD COP: That’ll put the internet into a frenzy…
BAD COP: – just stop –
GOOD COP: They’ll call it a scandal. Put a “gate” on the end of it
BAD COP: -talking for-
GOOD COP: Why is it always “gate” anyway?
BAD COP: -a few s-
WRITER (offstage): No! Nononononononono…
GOOD COP: Wassat?
The muttering stops. Writer gives a short scream.
BAD COP: Sweet mother of Jesus…
BAD COP: Give me a moment.
Bad Cop exits. Good Cop takes a long sip of coffee, pulls a face.
GOOD COP: Perhaps I should take up smoking?
Good Cop looks around, spots the chair, picks it up and brings it to the front of the stage. They have trouble unfolding it. Pause.
GOOD COP: Yeah. That might make things less stressful.
Pause. Good Cop unfolds the chair, sits down.
GOOD COP: Yeah…
Bad Cop slowly enters. Good Cop smiles broadly.
GOOD COP: Everything alright?
BAD COP: He’s dead.
GOOD COP: He what?
Bad Cop points off stage.
GOOD COP: Suicide?
Bad Cop shakes their head, continues to point. Good Cop frowns, exits, curious.
Good Cop enters, backwards, in shock. They mouth silently for a while.
BAD COP: Yeah?
GOOD COP: Yeah.
GOOD COP: There’s so much blood…
BAD GOOD: Yeah.
GOOD COP: How? How?
BAD COP: I don’t know.
Good Cop becomes frantic, as if something’s snapped in them, runs back and forth, checking the exits. Bad Cop stands still, in shock.
GOOD COP: But it’s not possible! There’s only one door! We were both here! No one came past us! How?
BAD COP: I know.
GOOD COP: It’s not possible!
BAD COP: You said that.
GOOD COP: So… So he did it himself, right? Must have done!
BAD COP: That’s not physically-
GOOD COP: (interrupts) No other way… Contortionist, perhaps?
BAD COP: Oh, don’t be so-
GOOD COP: (continues over Bad Cop) How did he get a knife in, past us? The security…
BAD COP: Doesn’t make logical sense.
GOOD COP: (paces across the stage) You were the one saying he’s crazy. Crazy people don’t do logical sense. Do they?
BAD COP: How am I supposed to-
GOOD COP: (wild) Quickly! Call the police!
BAD COP: We are the police!
GOOD COP: Oh thank god! (grabs hold of Bad Cop) Officer, I have a crime to report!
BAD COP: You’re in shock. I’ll fetch someone. Wait here.
Bad Cop pushes Good Cop down into the chair, makes to exit, stage left. Good Cop gets up to follow. Bad Cop puts them back in the chair, calms them, makes to leave again. This repeats perhaps twice. Finally Bad Cop exits, Good Cop stays in the chair, rocking and muttering.
BAD COP: (offstage, irritated) Can’t be right.
Bad Cop enters.
BAD COP: The door’s locked.
GOOD COP: It’s what?
BAD COP: Locked. We’re locked in.
GOOD COP: Well, do you have a key?
BAD COP: No. It’s not supposed to open from the inside.
GOOD COP: Is someone out there?
BAD COP: Wait here.
Bad Cop hurries off stage. Good Cop watches them. There is a loud hammering as Bad Cop knocks on the door.
BAD COP: Hey! Hey! We’re locked down here! Let us out! Hey!
Pause. A loud crash. Bad Cop has tried to ram themselves into the door. Pause. Bad Cop enters, nursing their hurt arm.
GOOD COP: I take it there’s no one out there.
BAD COP: Well done. It’s no wonder you made detective.
Bad Cop pulls out their phone and dials a number, waits for a few seconds. They get more and more annoyed as they talk. Good Cop watches for a while, then starts thinking to themselves.
BAD COP: Hello? Yes, hi, look… Yes, we are… There’s been a… Look, can you send someone down to the holding cells? No… we’re fine… The door’s been locked, we can’t get out… It’s difficult to explain… There’s been a murder… He’s… No… Right… Look, just send someone down here as soon as possible, please.
GOOD COP: (muttering to themselves, slightly overlapping Bad Cop’s phone conversation) But that can’t be… Why would you possibly?
BAD COP: Thank you. (hangs up, goes to Good Cop. Comforting) You hang in there, now, we’ll be out as soon as possible.
Good Cop gets up quickly and moves away.
GOOD COP: Don’t touch me, please.
BAD COP: Hey! What’s wrong?
GOOD COP: Well, the way I see it there’s only one explanation, isn’t there?
BAD COP: Can this wait until we’re out of here, please?
GOOD COP: I want you to admit it.
BAD COP: Huh?
GOOD COP: Just admit that you did it. There’s no other way.
BAD COP: Look, just calm down, okay. Breathe. You’re more scared that I thought… We need to get you to a doctor. Not a fan of blood? It’s okay, it’s fine. This is your first murder scene. It’s not nice, I know it’s not (they speak to Good Cop gently, as if calming a stressed animal). I couldn’t handle it at my first, myself. Barely keeping it together here, if I’m honest. But you’re going to be fine…
GOOD COP: You keep away!
BAD COP: I’ve been here the whole time. It was not me.
GOOD COP: You went in there first! You could have done it then!
BAD COP: (losing patience) With what? I don’t carry a knife with me.
GOOD COP: You could do!
BAD COP: (getting angry) Just sit down.
GOOD COP: But now I know! I know and… I’m next! Oh, god, I’m next! Was this your plan? To lock the door and kill the only witness?
BAD COP: There was no plan! I didn’t lock the door, the door doesn’t lock from the inside! I did not kill him! I’m not going to kill you!
The offstage muttering starts up again.
GOOD COP: I won’t let you get away with this! I won’t!
Good Cop throws themselves at Bad Cop. They grapple. Bad Cop pushes Good Cop away, but Good Cop has pulled the gun from the holster at Bad Cop’s back.
GOOD COP: What’s this, huh? What’s this? You were gonna shoot me?
BAD COP: Don’t wave that around! Put it down, you’ll hurt somebody!
GOOD COP: Stay away! Don’t come near me! Stay away!
Good Cop rushes offstage, stage right, into the holding cell.
BAD COP: Come back! Come back!
Bad Cop follows.
BAD COP: (offstage, shouts) Give me the gun! Give it here!
GOOD COP: (offstage, shouts) I won’t let you get away with this!
BAD COP: (offstage, shouts) Be careful, dammit!
GOOD COP: (offstage, shouts) Don’t touch me! I mean it! Don’t you dare-
BAD COP: (offstage, shouts) Don’t do that! You’re gonna-
GOOD COP: (offstage, shouts) What are you doing? What the hell are you-
Good Cop enters, slowly, staring at their hands, which are covered in blood. They tremble. Slowly, they make their way to the chair and sit down.
Two Police Officers enter, see Good Cop, look at each other, unsure.
GOOD COP: Officers. I wish to report a crime.
OFFICER 1: Sir (or ma’am) Are you okay?
GOOD COP: I am afraid that I have murdered somebody.
Officer one puts their hand on Good Cop’s shoulder, gestures to Officer 2 who runs offstage, then returns, nods. Good Cop stands up.
OFFICER 1: Sir (or ma’am), you are under arrest for murder-
GOOD COP, BOTH OFFICERS: (in unison) You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.
The officers lead Good Cop away.