Hitch

by James McLindon

Stageplay


 

CHARACTERS:
LANE: A white man, 30s, a little dorky.
DEE: A woman, any race or ethnicity, 18-ish..

SETTING:
Morning; a car on an interstate highway

 

Morning. LANE, thirties, drives a car along an interstate highway. He is in a good mood and a bit full of himself. Next to him in the passenger seat sits DEE, 18ish. Her clothes are rumpled and her hair mussed up. She is sullen and snarky, leaning against the door, as far away from LANE as the car’s confines allow, staring out the window.

LANE
Hardly anybody picks up hitchhikers anymore. Back in the day, people did it all the time. Now, everyone thinks it’s way too dangerous, I guess. It’s probably no more dangerous now than it ever was. People are basically good. That doesn’t change. People stay the same. It’s just like, I don’t know… child molesters.

DEE looks at him, then edges a little farther away.

DEE
What?

LANE
Oh, no, no, I mean, we’re just more aware of it now. Autism, that’s a better example. Newspapers, cable news, talk radio, they all do stories on it, right, and we get more aware of it, and being more aware just makes it seem like there’s more of it. But really, there isn’t. ’Cuz people are people are people and they don’t change.
(Beat)
You don’t have any opinion?

A long pause. She stares out the window, saying nothing.

LANE
Huh. Oh, yeah, I see your point. You totally persuaded me.

Still no response.

LANE
You’re not super friendly, are you? I could’ve just driven past you back there, y’know. The least you could do is talk a little since I’m giving you a ride.

DEE
Should I smile more, too?

LANE
What—? Oh, c’mon, I didn’t mean (it like that)—

DEE
Did I agree to talk?

LANE
Did you (agree)—? What?

DEE
Before I got in, did you say, “I will take you to Buffalo in exchange for you responding to whatever bullshit enters my head and exits my mouth,” and did I say, “Awesome, it’s a deal!”?

LANE
Wow.
(Beat)
It’s just, I don’t know, decency. Thankfulness. Appreciation for me taking a chance, picking you up, helping you out. You could just, you know… chat a little.

DEE
“Chat”?

LANE
Yeah. Chat.

DEE
Nope.

LANE
No, you won’t chat?

DEE
No to everything you just said. No, you don’t get to mansplain to me whatever topic you find interesting just because you’re giving me a ride. No, you didn’t pick me up because you’re nice, you picked me up because I’m a girl and you probably have some kind of old-man fantasy about what might happen if you pick up a girl in your car based on a bunch of unrealistic expectations from TV, movies, and porn, all created incidentally by men.

A pause.

LANE
Wow.

DEE
Yeah, you say that a lot.

LANE
I’m not old, you know, I’m only 36, just for the record—

DEE
That’s way old. Am I wrong about your fantasy?

LANE
(Lying)
Yeah. Totally.

DEE
And no, we’re not just more aware of it, it has gotten more dangerous. They’re more crazy white guys with guns than ever before so how could it not be more dangerous?

LANE
You think I’m a crazy white guy with a gun.

DEE
You’re two out of four so far. Still waiting on crazy and gun.

LANE
(Turning the wheel to the right)
Okay.

DEE
What’re you doing? Why are you pulling over!?

LANE stops the car. Upset, DEE pulls out a large rock.

DEE
Why are you stopping!? Cuz I will so fuck you up!

LANE
Get out. I’m throwing you (out)—
(Turning to her and seeing the rock before she can hide it)
Is that a rock?

DEE
Oh.
(Putting rock away.)
(Lying)
No. I mean, I thought you were going to (try something)—
(Beat; folding arms)
I’m not getting out.

LANE
Why do you have a rock?

No response.

LANE
What the hell is your problem? Why did you even get in my car?

DEE
I needed a ride.

LANE
Why did you take a ride from a white guy if you think we’re all armed and insane?

DEE
You left out sexual predator.
(Beat)
I didn’t have a choice. Women don’t pick up hitchhikers.

LANE
Well, sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable giving you a ride now.

DEE
Because I called bullshit on you!? How is that fair!?

LANE
I was not lying—! Do you do this to every guy who picks you up?

DEE
When I smell bullshit, yeah.

LANE
And let me guess: you always smell bullshit. Don’t you?

No response.

LANE
So, how far have you gotten with this attitude?

No response.

LANE
Where did you start from?

DEE
Utica.

LANE
I picked you up in Utica.

DEE
About a mile farther back in Utica.

LANE
What did the first guy do that you didn’t last a mile?

DEE
Started talking about how dangerous it is to hitchhike.

LANE
Well… he’s right.

DEE
You said it wasn’t dangerous.

LANE
I mean, it’s a logical first topic considering—

DEE
He had a very creepy vibe.

LANE
You have a rock! I’m sorry, you need to take the bus.

DEE
If I had the money for a bus, would I be hitchhiking?

LANE
How should I know? Why’re you even going to Buffalo anyway?

DEE
None of your business.

LANE
I’m trying to help you.

DEE
I’m not your stray puppy.

LANE
How much money do you need for the bus?

DEE
I don’t know.

LANE
You didn’t even check before you decided to hitchhike?

DEE
I’m not necessarily going to Buffalo. I’m just … going.

LANE
You’re just “going.”

No response.

LANE
Well … I’m not driving someone who doesn’t trust me.

DEE
Admit to your bullshit and maybe I will trust you.

LANE
I don’t have any bullshit!

She cocks her head and stares at him for several seconds.

LANE
Okay, fine, here’s a news flash for you because apparently you’ve been living in a convent. Every guy on this planet, or at least every single guy—okay, and divorced guys like me, and, yeah, probably a lot of the married ones—they all, if, you know, they were to pick up an attractive girl—

DEE
Oh my god, gross—

LANE
Would you let me finish!? I mean, they’re all gonna think, a girl who hitches a ride by the side of the road, she’s probably, I don’t know, a little… unconventional, uninhibited, a little bit of a free spirit, and you know, with a girl like that… you know…

DEE
No, I sure don’t know.

LANE
Any guy will get… I don’t know, a certain… hope.

DEE
A. Certain. Hope.

LANE
Yeah, a certain hope, okay?

DEE
You mean a certain fucked-up dream scenario.

LANE
But that doesn’t mean he’s gonna get, like, all handsy or anything.

DEE
Omigod, did you really just say “handsy”?

LANE
Yes, handsy! It’s just a hope. If nothing happens, nothing happens, he’s not gonna force anything, Jesus.

DEE
Ohhhh. Sad hope.

LANE
Yeah, sad hope, whatever.

DEE
You’re so pathetic.

LANE
Well, fuck you, then.

DEE
Oh, not you you. I meant all guys. But props, you were honest so now I trust you a little. So you can drive me.

LANE
Wow! I’m so honored!

DEE
And he’s back to “wow.” Hey, you said you weren’t comfortable, now I’ve made you comfortable. You’re welcome.

LANE
I’d be more comfortable if you lost the rock.

No response.

LANE
And if you think humiliating me makes me comfortable, you’re wrong.

DEE
C’mon, it was a little bit worth it. To be completely honest with a girl about, you know, your creepiness?

LANE
I’m always honest about—! I am not cree(py)—! God, I am so never picking up a hitchhiker again!

DEE
Admit it: Being honest was totally worth it.

LANE
Yeah? So, how about you be that honest, huh, you who won’t even say why you’re going to Buffalo or wherever, how about that?

DEE
I don’t have to say, I’m the vulnerable one, not the creepy one. Do you have any music?

LANE
(Beat)
You like Luke Bryan?

DEE
Jesus, shoot me now.

LANE
Fine! Silence it is.

He pulls out on the road. They drive for a while. LANE becomes uncomfortable.

LANE
You know I’m afraid to say anything right now for fear I’ll be “mansplaining” or something. When did it become a rule that if a man talks for more than 10 seconds, he’s—

DEE
You’re mansplaining.

LANE
Good! I meant to!

They drive for a few seconds. LANE gets over it.

LANE
Let me know if, y’know, you get hungry or anything.

DEE
I don’t have any money.

LANE
My treat.

DEE
Oh, right, buy a girl lunch, and maybe she’ll give you (what you want)—

LANE
I meant I’d drop you behind the McDonald’s so you could eat out of the dumpster! God, you’re such an asshole!

LANE steams. DEE is a little regretful. Very long pause as they just drive for a bit. She never looks at him as she tells her story with little affect.

DEE
My mother’s boyfriend bought a dress on his way home from work yesterday. A little, like, cocktail dress.

LANE
What, he’s a crossdresser?

DEE
My mom thinks his shit doesn’t stink. She worked second shift last night, wasn’t supposed to get off till midnight.

LANE
But she came home early and busted him wearing the dress?

DEE
He asked me to try it on for him. Told me to.

LANE
(Beat)
Oh.

DEE
I said okay ’cuz he’s got a temper, right, and I went to my room to change. But I snuck out the window instead and hid in the woods up by the interstate till dawn. Hitchhiking at night just seemed way too scary. He’s gonna be so pissed. And my mom will believe whatever he tells her. She always does. That’s why.

LANE turns and looks at her. She studiously ignores him.

DEE
You got any music that doesn’t suck?

LANE holds out a wire to connect her phone.

LANE
Um, y’know, play whatever you want off your phone.

DEE
I ditched my phone. You can track them.

LANE
Try the radio then?

DEE
(Sarcastically)
Awesome, we’ll kick it old school.

She finds something mellow. She leaves it on.

DEE
Your speakers suck.

She closes her eyes and curls up in the seat, exhausted.

DEE
I’m gonna nap. And I better not catch you staring at me.

LANE watches the road for awhile, then slowly turns to look at her. He slowly reaches into the back seat, keeping an eye on her as he struggles to find something. She stirs and he quickly pulls his arm back. She settles and he begins reaching again. He finds it, but it’s stuck. He struggles, then frees it and pulls it forward: a blanket. He tries awkwardly to cover her with it with one hand. DEE startles awake and sits up, the rock in her hand.

DEE
What the fuck!

LANE
It’s just a blanket, don’t hit me! Jesus. You looked cold.

DEE
(Seeing the blanket)
Oh.

She calms down as she adjusts the blanket and settles back in her seat. A pause.

DEE
Thanks.

LANE
Yeah. Sure.

She sleeps. Troubled, he drives on. The world turns for awhile.

Lights down slowly.

End of Play.

 


James McLindon is a member of the Nylon Fusion Theatre Company in New York. His play Salvation premiered in New York, Giovanna Sardelli directing, to critical acclaim in The New York Times and elsewhere. Comes a Faery was developed at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Sean Daniels directing; was a finalist for the Humana Festival; and premiered at the New Ohio Theatre last season. Distant Music has been produced seven times across the country, most recently at the Stoneham Theatre in Boston and the Independent Actors Theatre in Columbia, Missouri. Dead and Buried was premiered at the Detroit Repertory Theatre and the University of Miami. His plays have been developed and/or produced at theaters such as the O’Neill (selection and six-time semifinalist), PlayPenn, Victory Gardens, Lark, Abingdon, hotINK Festival, Irish Repertory, Samuel French Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, New Rep, Lyric Stage, Boston Playwrights, Local Theatre, Telluride Playwrights Festival, Great Plains Theatre Conference, and Seven Devils. His plays have been published by Dramatic Publishing and Smith and Kraus.

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