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Follow the Leader
MELODY: Celebrity, early 20’s
JOSEPH: Homeless man, late 30’s
Bus stop, a few hours before dawn. Trash is scattered on the ground.
(MELODY walks down the street in a straight line wearing a scarlet red dress, red flats, and a matching jacket. She takes a seat at a bus stop and looks into the distance as if pondering something. JOSEPH takes a seat next to her, MELODY doesn’t notice.)
JOSEPH: What are you doing out here?
(MELODY jumps up, startled. She proceeds to sit on the side farthest away from JOSEPH.)
MELODY: Minding my own business, why? What do you want? Money?
JOSEPH:(Unphased by MELODY’s attitude) I know you. I’ve seen you on posters and on TV’s when I pass by fancy restaurants downtown. You’re famous, aren’t you? So why would you be out here in this dump? Where’s your limo? And your security guards?
MELODY: You ask a lot of questions. ( pauses) But if you must know, I’m out here to think.
(JOSEPH raises an eyebrow)
Melody: You wouldn’t understand…
JOSEPH: Of course you’d think that. You’re a big celebrity who thinks homeless people are just lazy bums who are dumber than a roc-
MELODY: (Shakes her head vigorously and interrupts) No! It’s just the fact that my thoughts are very confusing. Even I have trouble understanding them.
JOSEPH: (Runs a hand through his hair self consciously for assuming) Oh.. Well, maybe I can help.
MELODY: (Gives a doubtful look) It’s just that for awhile now, I’ve been thinking of how many things I’ll never get to experience.
MELODY: (Crosses her legs and sits up straight.) Think of it this way. Last week I was in Paris, the city of love and lights, for the premier of my brand new movie.(She plasters on a fake smile and does jazz hands for emphasis) A week before that I was in Hollywood doing everything from rehearsals for my new movie to interviews. Last week, somewhere else in the world there was a couple lying down and stargazing. A week before that, somewhere in the world there was a kid catching fireflies.
(JOSEPH pauses to think.)
JOSEPH: So kind of like being in New York City and all you get to do is smile and wave at cameras while someone else is getting to see the Statue of Liberty?
MELODY: Exactly… I guess what I’m saying is I just want to be free from expectations and just live my life. Whenever I want to go and do something else I’m told to just stop and listen. Sometimes I just wish I could st-
JOSEPH: (Finishing her sentence) Step out of line.
(MELODY simply nods. After a moment of silence JOSEPH speaks up.)
JOSEPH: That’s exactly why I quit my job.
(MELODY looks at JOSEPH shocked.)
MELODY: What? Why? Don’t you want new clothes, or food, or shelter? You know, the basic necessities of life!
JOSEPH: Of course I do, but I felt trapped. Bills needed to be paid. Taxes were going to be due. Presents need to be bought for special occasions and you lose more and more money until you have no money nor the time to travel or experience all the little things in life. I was behind on rent and living off nothing but Ramen Noodles when the landlord came knocking on my door and told me to pay...or leave. I walked back in my apartment, grabbed a small bag full of clothes and a few other items, and walked out.
MELODY: (Giggles) Are you serious?
JOSEPH: (Smiles) Yeah, but not before I grabbed my wallet and threw a five dollar bill in his face. Let’s just say he wasn’t very amused... Luckily for me, I’m a fast runner!
(They both laughed before it slowly faded back into silence.)
MELODY: So, what else do you do all day?
JOSEPH: I go to the library from time to time and read a few poetry books. Then I go to a sandwich shop or a convenient store and I get free food. People around here sure are nice. Of course, I always make sure to pay them back when I get enough money from standing around.
MELODY: Have you ever been downtown? I absolutely love driving through at night. The light from the skyscrapers look a lot like faded stars being engulfed by a shadow. And the music blaring from speakers as the homeless and the rich dance outside together in perfect harmony.
(MELODY closes her eyes, picturing the thought, and smiles.)
JOSEPH: (C***s an eyebrow) I’m assuming you only go on Friday and Saturday nights.
(MELODY opens her eyes and looks up at JOSEPH)
MELODY:Yeah, I do. That’s usually when my agent lets me go out. More crowds equals more recognition…
(JOSEPH rolls his eyes)
But that isn’t the point! What’s wrong with Fridays and Saturdays?
JOSEPH: You only get to see people when they’re looking for an escape from reality. And I can understand why they would want to.
(JOSEPH looks off into the distance)
Picture this: Business men and women dressed in dull colors rushing to work with a coffee in one hand, others shouting at the early morning traffic; knowing they’ll have to sit through it again after work. A lot of them walk in long lines just to stop and shout at someone over the phone or wait for the next bus that’s running late. But they keep going back because they think they have to. And you’re just like them.
(MELODY looks at JOSEPH as if he’s crazy.)
MELODY: Excuse me?
JOSEPH: You could escape the limelight just by walking away and changing your lifestyle. Yet you keep going back.
(MELODY opens her mouth to protest but is interrupted by JOSEPH.)
JOSEPH: I’m not saying you have to end up homeless like me...I’m just saying you should step out of line temporarily and do what you want. Or else you’ll just keep following everyone else,in one straight line, into the grave. Is that what you want?
MELODY: No, bu-
JOSEPH:(Interrupting again) I’m going to go downtown and watch people walk in an endless line while I eat my free bag of chips and then head off to the library.
(The sun begins rising. JOSEPH stands up, ready to begin his walk downtown, but not before turning to look at MELODY.)
JOSEPH: Do you want to come with me?
(JOSEPH reaches out a hand as MELODY stares at it, confused on what to do. After a few seconds JOSEPH pulls his hand away, sadly, and begins walking away.)
JOSEPH: (sighs and mumbles) Good luck on going back to follow the crowd…
(MELODY hears this and sighs before running to catch up to him.)
(JOSEPH stops and turns around.)
MELODY: I'll pay for the chips...and sit with you. But only for half an hour!
JOSEPH:(smiles) I'll accept that.
(The lights dim as they walk away,standing side by side.)