OVERHEARD IN A BROOKLYN BAR

 

 

Narrator: You know, every time I go to a bar in Brooklyn, weird things happen.  Iím not kidding.  Donít misunderstand me: I love Brooklyn.  But Brooklyn bars, man, I donít know.  Itís justÖweird.   The people in them seem somehow different than when I was growing up.  More peculiar.  Let me give you a few examples.  I had just got off my stool at the bar late one night and was heading for the menís room and some guy and some chick got into it.  So I delayed my trip to the menís room to listen.

 

 

Woman:  Why are you staring at me?

 

Man:  Oh, sorry, I didnít mean to stare.  Itís just that-

 

Itís just that Iím Asian and you thought you could get away with staring at an Asian woman but you wouldnít dare do that with a Western woman, right?  Because we Asian women are subservient and docile and mousey and wouldnít dare speak up or demand an explanation right?

 

Well, no, itís not like that.  I-

 

So just what is it like then?

 

Well, I was just wondering about your ethnic background.

 

My ethnic background?

 

Well, yes, I mean youíre obviously an Asian woman but I was just thinking you look more East Asian than Southeast Asian.

 

Oh, is that right?  So in addition to staring at Asian women you can tell where they are from.  Just from one long, lascivious stare.  So, go ahead.  Enlighten me.

 

Well, I mean if Iím right and you are East Asian it means you must be Chinese, Korean or Japanese.  And since you donít appear to be Japanese that leaves Chinese or Korean.

 

Very good.  So which is it?

 

Well, I would guess Chinese?

 

OK, not bad.  Is that it?  The best you can narrow it down?

 

If you donít mind I think I can narrow it down a bit more.

 

Really?  So go ahead, Sherlock, narrow it down.

 

Well, I would guess your ancestors were mainland Chinese of Hakka descent and most likely during the civil war in the 1950ís they fought with Chiang Kai-shek and your uncle was killed by a communist grenade during the battle of Huaihai.  As the communists advanced, on December 5th, 1949, they boarded an aircraft and fled Chengdu for Taiwan.  And your grandparents were just kids then and grew up in Taiwan and also your parents grew up there and then they had you there.  I would guess your grandparents were born in Fujian province, in a small village outside the town of Minchou, and you still have relatives there who speak the Hakka dialect and although you can speak Hakka you now speak perfect mandarin but with a Taiwan accent.

 

(She stares at him for several seconds.  Then moves closer to him.)

 

And just how the hell do you know all that about me!

 

(He takes flowers out of his bag and holds them out.)

 

Well, itís because today is our first wedding anniversary, remember?

 

Sweetheart!  You remembered!

 

(She embraces him and they kiss passionately)

 

I love you so much!

 

You know Iím crazy about you!

 

(With arms around one another, they move off stage.)

 

 

Narrator: You see what I mean?

 

Copyright Dean Barrett 2015

                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                         

 CAMARADERIE AT THE BAR

 A One-Act Play

 

Four Characters: Three males, One female

Bartender, Francine, Chuck, Narrator

Ages can vary but these are definitely blue collar people except perhaps for the Narrator.  Only the Narrator is a young man.  He is the same Narrator as in the first Brooklyn play, Overheard in a Brooklyn Bar. 

New York City (Brooklyn) 

It is late afternoon.  Four people are in the interior of a New York neighborhood bar, a bar for blue-collar working people and retired East European workers.  A WOMAN in her forties (FRANCINE) is sitting on a stool at the corner of the bar counter near the door.  Besides the NARRATOR, there is only one other CUSTOMER at the bar.  HE is a male in his mid-thirties or above (CHUCK).  The middle-aged BARTENDER is polishing glasses, wiping the bar, etc.  The NARRATOR is sitting a few stools apart from the others.  The atmosphere is subdued and quiet.

  

                                                                       FRANCINE

(to bartender)

...And so I decided to leave Philly and move back to New York.  Anyway, I used to live in the Big Apple for years.  I grew up in this area, f'Christ's sake.

 

(SHE speaks in a friendly manner and

attempts to include everyone in her

conversation)

 

                                                                       FRANCINE

(cont)

And, believe it or not, the thing I remember most is the way New York's Finest used to keep the streets safe.  I mean, they had patrols out all the time.  Everywhere!

 

                                                                  BARTENDER

(guffawing)

That must have been a long time ago.

 

                                                                     

FRANCINE

(nodding)

It was.  But, I mean, OK, this ain't the worst area of the city, but, you know, I been looking out the window now since I came in; what's that, maybe an hour, hour-and-a-half, and not once have I seen a cop out on that street.                 

                              

                                                                  BARTENDER

Well, don't hang by your thumbs until you do.  I been workin' here for about three years and I never seen no boys-in-blue pass by either.

 

                                                                       FRANCINE

You're puttin' me on.

 

                                                                  BARTENDER

(nodding toward CHUCK)

Ask him.  What say, Chuck?  New York's Finest been on patrol around here lately?

 

(CHUCK slowly takes a drink, puts

down the glass and motions for ano-

ther one)

 

                                                                    CHUCK

By helicopter, maybe.

 

                                                                       FRANCINE

(shaking her head)

I don't understand it.  This used to be a really well-patrolled area.  You mean the boys-in-blue never patrol here on foot?

 

                                                                  BARTENDER

Not since I been here. 

 

(FRANCINE rises and draws a revolver from

inside her jacket)

 

                                                                       FRANCINE

That's just fine, friend.  Thanks for your help.  Now, you boys relax and nobody's gonna get hurt.

 

(The BARTENDER stops wiping the glass

and stares. HE moves toward the

counter)

 

                                                                       FRANCINE

(menacingly)

I said relax!

 

(The BARTENDER moves back)

 

                                                                       FRANCINE

Right.  Now this will just take a minute.

(to the BARTENDER)

Empty the register...I mean fast!  I want all the money up on the counter.                                                     . 

(The BARTENDER unhurriedly opens the

cash register and scoops out the

money.  HE places it on the bar) 

(to the petrified NARRATOR)

You too, sweetheart.  Put your money, watch and phone on the bar in front of you.

(The NARRATOR quickly obeys)

                                                                FRANCINE

And your cell phones, boys.  Donít worry, I wonít tell your wives what I find!

 

(CHUCK continues to drink, ignoring her.

The BARTENDER sullenly places his

phone on the bar.  FRANCINE looks

over his cell phone.)

 

                        FRANCINE

Jesus, how old is this phone?

 

                                    BARTENDER

Old.  But I need it, so leave it.

 

                                    FRANCINE

Oh, you giviní the orders now?

 

                                    BARTENDER

You wonít get squat for that and you know it.  But I need the numbers.  You wanna rob the bar fine, we been robbed before, but that donít mean you gotta be a dick about it!

 

            (FRANCINE throws the phone on the bar counter.  The

            BARTENDER picks it up.)

 

                                                                       FRANCINE

Watches, too, folks.  (staring at CHUCK)  Hey!  You deef! 

This is a robbery and I ainít got all day.  Get your wallet out.  Now!

(CHUCK gives her a look of contempt)

 

CHUCK

I ainít giving you a damn thing!

                                                                    

(FRANCINE walks slowly toward him,

relaxing her arm, and lets the gun

point toward the floor.  SHE walks

up very close to him and leans toward

him, one hand on the bar)

 

                                                                       FRANCINE

(grinning) (loud whisper)

Are you nuts?  This is a stick-up.  This is a gun.  It shoots real bullets.  I am a bad person.  Don't you know the cops advise people to give up their money in situations like this?  You're not supposed to play hero; it ain't healthy. 

(CHUCK ignores her and speaks to the bartender)

CHUCK

Gimme a refill, I said.

(FRANCINE, puzzled, stares at him)

 

FRANCINE

Donít like beiní robbed by a woman, that it?  Well, macho-man, you- 

                                                                   

                                                                       CHUCK

Woman, hell!  Iím not beiní robbed with somebody got such fuckiní poor taste in weapons!

                                                                    FRANCINE

(taken aback)

Oh, I get it.  Iím a wheelie, right?  You donít like being robbed by somebody with a revolver; I suppose if I had a semi-automatic youíd be happy to be robbed, right?  A nice, new Glock 42 with all the bells and whistles, maybe?                                                       

                                                                     

BARTENDER (while refilling CHUCKís glass)

Hell, we been robbed before with both semi and wheelie; heís talking specifically about you using a Charter Arms.  Why the fuck donít you carry Smith & Wesson?  (The bartender pulls out a revolver from behind the bar and puts it down on the bar for Francine to look at)  Look at the fit and finish of this! 

(FRANCINE puts her weapon down and picks up the S&W;

the NARRATOR is freaking out)

 

FRANCINE

Yeah, nice and shiny.  But more recoil.  And I pull the trigger on mine and it goes bang; what do I care about-

CHUCK

Recoil, yeah, but with a little practice at the range you can keep it on site, no problem.  Yah gotta fucking practice!  And that model shoots low!  I had to file the front site on mine and if you send it to the factory thatís all they do.  Then send the damn thing back.  And you better keep your eyes shut when you do fire it because it spits out crap from the ports.  Iím telling you the snub-nosed son-of-a-bitch shaves lead!

                                                                    FRANCINE (defensively)

Yeah, well, itís light and the stock grips soak up the recoil.

 

CHUCK

Yeah, remind yourself of that when youíre in a firefight and sparks hit you in your pretty blue eyes every time you pull the fucking trigger which stacks a hell of a lot when you pull it, by the way.

(Chuck whips out his five-shot revolver from inside his jacket and places it on the counter in front of Francine; now the NARRATOR is really freaking out)

 

CHUCK (cont)

You wanna rob somebody you need something reliable:  Ruger SP101!  Double action, small frame, five-shot, .38 Special.  Bobbed hammer.

(FRANCINE picks up the gun and looks it over)

FRANCINE

 Yeah, a nice snubbie, but a heavy trigger pull.  Not a pocket gun. 

 

 

CHUCK

Hell, not much bigger than the piece of crap youíre using.  I stick it in a DeSantis Intruder Holster, throw the jacket over it, and poof itís invisible. 

FRANCINE

So what do you shoot?

CHUCK

Hornady 158 grain critical defense rounds.

 

FRANCINE

Yeah, a bit pricey. 

 

CHUCK

Yeah, the thing youíre carrying uses pricey ammo!  And how much is your life worth to you?  Spend the extra money and get a reliable concealed carry, for Christís sakes!  You rely on this piece of crap and you may not have a long lifetime.  And never drop below a 9-millimeter for a defensive handgun.  If youíre just gonna rob bars, what you got may be OK, it may not.  As for me, I would never use the Carter Arms as my primary defense weapon.  As a backup gun, maybe, yeah.  You wanna rob a convenience store with it, maybe fine.  (looking toward the bartender) What happened to my refill?  And Iím buying the lady a drink.

FRANCINE

The hell you say.  First rounds on me.

 

(As all three pick up their weapons, the frightened NARRATOR rises)

 

NARRATOR

Uh, cu-, could I have my bill, please?

 

(All three turn toward the NARRATOR with guns

still in their hands)

 

 

BARTENDER (ominously)

The lady said sheís buying.

 

(The NARRATOR sits back down)

NARRATOR

Uh, yeah, sure, I meanÖthatís great!  Thank you!

 

FRANCINE

And put your shit away, kid.  Leave money for the jukebox though.  Got a favorite? Otherwise, itís Randy Travis time again. 

 

BARTENDER

We got Don Ronk.

 

FRANCINE

No shit!  Letís hear him!

 

CHUCK

God, he was great!  ďAnd so weíve had another night of poetry and poses; but each man knows-

 

CHUCK/BARTENDER/FRANCINE

-heíll be alone when the sacred ginmill closes.Ē

 

NARRATOR

(rising from his stool)

Uh, I just have to go to the menís room.

 

(Lights dim on the bar as the three at the bar mimic conversation without sound. The NARRATOR walks slowly and carefully away from the bar and speaks to the audience in a kind of frightened whisper)

 

                                                                  NARRATOR

You see what I mean about Brooklyn?!

 

(And the NARRATOR runs off)

 

BLACKOUT

 

Copyright 2015 Dean Barrett

No part of this play may be performed or published without written permission from the playwright