Strangers & Cigarettes // Ten-Page Stage Play

CHARACTERS:
VALENCIA – A woman in her mid-twenties.
HENRY – A man in his early thirties.


(SCENE: It is late in the evening, and the air is chilly.)
(AT RISE: Valencia is stood outside of the Cherry Moon bar. She smokes a cigarette. A man approaches.)

HENRY
(With his hands in his pockets.)

Excuse me? I am sorry to interrupt, but I need to use a phone. Could I use yours?

VALENCIA
And, what makes you think I own one?

HENRY
Oh, I’m sorry.

VALENCIA
(Rolling her eyes.)

I’m kidding! Here.

(She hands a sizeable black smartphone to the man. He starts calling a number, but there is no answer.)

HENRY
He never answers!

(Valencia chucks the cigarette butt on the ground and crushes it.)

VALENCIA
Let’s sit on the bench.

HENRY
(Handing the phone back.)
Ok.

(They walk a few yards to the bench.)

HENRY
It’s freezing!

(Henry rubs his hands together.)

HENRY
So, what do you do?

(Valencia opens a cigarette case and takes one out. Lighting it, she offers Henry a drag.)

HENRY
(Taking the cigarette.)
Thanks.

(After a long and heavy exhale, he hands it back.)

VALENCIA
I don’t have a job. I won the lottery a year ago, which means I am in a position where I don’t need one right now. I spend my time reading, for the most part anyway.

HENRY
(Nodding)
That’s cool. So, how much did you win? Actually… don’t answer that.

VALENCIA
(Smiling.)
Do you have a job?

HENRY
I’m a chef at a restaurant just on the outskirts. I’m in town for the market. I need some ingredients for a particular dish I’m preparing.

VALENCIA
That sounds fancy.

HENRY
I’m a bit nervous about it because I’m already on my final warning. My boss doesn’t like me, and if I lose this job, I can’t pay the rent.

VALENCIA
(Handing him the cigarette.)
I think you need this.

HENRY
I bet it’s nice not having to work. You get to live a carefree life.

VALENCIA
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

HENRY
(Coughing.)
Right. I bet you live such a stressful life!

(Valencia turns to face Henry fully.)

VALENCIA
Do you think I sit on a pot of gold? You have no idea! Our situations may be different, but this money won’t last forever.

(Henry stands up.)

HENRY
Come on! How could you possibly lose all of that? Let’s say you have a million. You could live off that for years!

VALENCIA
(Laughing.)
Please tell me you’re joking. It doesn’t replenish itself when it runs out, which it can in a very short amount of
time. You aren’t accounting for daily living expenses and possible bills that will come in.

HENRY
(Holding his hands up.)
Alright, I’m sorry. I guess I just get frustrated with having to play by their rules.

(Henry chucks the last part of the cigarette into the grass and sits back down.)

VALENCIA
I understand, but I am tired of being blamed for the misfortunes of others. People think it’s so much rosier on the other side, but we can still die. I’m not immortal.

HENRY
Well, I suppose it’s only human nature to want what others have.

(Valencia unbuttons her coat and lays it across her lap.)

VALENCIA
I can’t argue with that. I’ve looked at other girls and wished I had their figure or their jawline. I think we are all dreamers. We concoct this image of a situation in our heads and refuse to believe that it can be the complete opposite.

(Henry lifts his right leg and rests his chin on his knee.)

HENRY
You know, I think you may have an excellent point. Look, I don’t usually go off at strangers, but you’ve caught me on a troublesome day.

(Valencia pulls the cigarette case out of her pocket and flips the lid to reveal one last cigarette. They both stare at it.)

VALENCIA
I’ll probably be very sick later, but we should share this. You can light it if you want…

(Valencia lets the cigarette rest on her teeth while Henry cups his hands around it. After two tries, it lights.)

HENRY
I should probably thank you.

VALENCIA
For the phone?

HENRY
Yes, but mainly for the company. I’ve been feeling lonely, and I find it hard to connect with people.

VALENCIA
Maybe you just needed a refresher. We can be surrounded by people we cherish, but it can become stale. We all need a little excitement in our lives.

(Henry motions for the cigarette. Valencia takes one more drag and hands it over.)

HENRY
Totally. Take Jamie, my roommate, for example. I love the guy, but he doesn’t shut up sometimes. Then, when he feels a vibe from me, he gets agitated and ignores me for the rest of the day.

VALENCIA
Is that who you tried to call earlier?

HENRY
Yeah.

(Valencia gets up and puts one hand on her hip.)

VALENCIA
What did you do to upset him this time?

(Henry looks at her incredulously.)

HENRY
(Crossing his heart.)
Nothing! I cross my heart and hope to God I die.

VALENCIA
Oh, please don’t die on me. So, if you haven’t upset him, why won’t he answer?

(Henry rises from the bench and starts jumping up and down to warm up.)

VALENCIA
Oh, for goodness sake. Here, take my coat.

(Henry shakes his head vigorously.)

HENRY
It’s covered in glitter! Thanks, but no thanks.

VALENCIA
Suit yourself.

(Henry holds it up in the air and gives it a twirl before giving it back.)


HENRY
(Clasping his hands together.)
It’s just too feminine for me, that’s all. But, I thank you for your kindness.

VALENCIA
Do you want to try and call Jamie again?

HENRY
I guess I could try him again.

(Valencia hands over the phone and looks on as it rings out.)

HENRY
(Sighing.)
No answer, yet again.

VALENCIA
Do you fancy a little tipple?

HENRY
(Looking around.)
From the bar?

(Valencia takes a flask out of her bag and shakes it.)

VALENCIA
Don’t worry. I’m not an alcoholic.

HENRY
What’s in there?

(Valencia takes a swig.)

VALENCIA
Bourbon.
(She passes the flask to Henry.)

HENRY
I’m not usually a whisky fan, but I got to try some at work, and I’ve developed a taste for it.

(Valencia nods and swallows.)

VALENCIA
I wasn’t a fan until I met my ex. It’s all he would drink, but he would buy the expensive stuff.

HENRY
He sounds like a splendid fellow.

VALENCIA
He was until he moved away. He couldn’t keep up with talking to me. I don’t know where he is now, but I miss him.

HENRY
I’m sorry.

(Valencia moves closer to Henry, grabbing onto his arm.)

VALENCIA
Can we stay like this for a while?

(Henry strokes her hair.)

HENRY
Sure.

VALENCIA
How are you going to get home?

HENRY
I might have to call a taxi. Jamie is in for it when I get back.

(The pleasant echoing of a nearby choir can be heard.)


VALENCIA
Would you listen to that? How beautiful.

(Henry looks in the direction of the singing.)

HENRY
I used to sing in my school choir.

VALENCIA
Did you? I wouldn’t have taken you for a choir boy.

HENRY
(Singing.)
Really?

(Valencia hugs Henry tighter.)

VALENCIA
This is nice. Now it’s my turn to thank you for the company.

HENRY
You’re most welcome, Valencia.

(They gaze into each other’s eyes for a moment. Henry is the first to look away.)


HENRY
I still don’t have any ingredients. But, to be honest, I don’t care about the consequences. I’ll explain what happened, and I’ll deal with the fallout.

VALENCIA
Well, your boss would be a fool to fire you. We may have met just hours ago, but I know in my gut that you are destined for great things.

(Valencia releases herself from Henry and takes out her phone.)

VALENCIA
I’m going to pay for your taxi. Just tell them where you’re going when you get in.

(Henry stands up.)

HENRY
Don’t you want to know where I’m going?

VALENCIA
Do you want me to know?

(Before Henry can reply, the taxi company answers.)


VALENCIA
Five minutes? Fabulous, thank you ever so much.

HENRY
I won’t forget you, Valencia. Whenever I feel alone and afraid, I’ll picture your face.

(Valencia looks up at Henry with a sad look.)

VALENCIA
I won’t forget you either.

(Henry pulls Valencia up from the bench and kisses her hands.)


HENRY
Your ex was a fool to drift away from you. I hope whatever ocean he’s close to swallows him whole.

VALENCIA
And, when you get home, tell Jamie that he would be useless in an emergency!

(Henry laughs.)

HENRY
Oh, don’t worry, I’ll let him know.

VALENCIA
I’m sorry if you’re sick from all the cigarettes… and the whisky.

HENRY
I forgive you.

(The taxi pulls up in front of them. Henry grabs Valencia and hugs her tightly.)

VALENCIA
(Sighing.)
Take care of yourself, ok?

(Henry nods and gets into the taxi. As they pull away, Valencia looks on.)

VALENCIA
Goodbye.

CURTAIN


If you would like to produce the play, I would like to direct you to my profile on the New Play Exchange’s website: https://newplayexchange.org/users/67766/courtenay-s-gray

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