The Den

The Den

CHARACTERS
Olivia: a drunk regular at the bar. Age 32.
Owen: the young, hot bartender. Late 20’s.
Joe: the bar’s janitor. Late 60’s. White beard.
Steph: ECU junior. Tall, blonde, skinny. Age 20.
Friend 1
Friend 2

SCENE 1. Inside the bar is dark and dim. The neon sign displaying the name “Pirate’s Den” hangs crookedly in the only window off to the right by the front door, flickering and giving off little light. At center stands a long, chipped, wooden bar covered in sticky liquid from the leftover, half-empty glass cups and beer bottles. To the left are two round booths with torn seat covers, surrounding tables at the center covered with beer bottles and trash. Crumbled napkins and broken straws bury the floor around three stools up at the bar. The smell of leftover tequila and skunked beer looms in the air. Midday. Nobody is in the bar except for a janitor sweeping the floors, a young, hot bartender, and a middle-aged woman sitting on a stool. The woman has her head down, eyes fixed on the six shot glasses she has carefully lined up in a row in front of her.

OLIVIA: Hey, Owen, you gonna give me another round of tequila shots for me and my buddies, here? [She begins tapping her fingers along the wooden surface and looks up to find Owen, who is invisibly bent down stacking bottles of vodka behind the bar.] Excuse me, Owen? Where did you go, boy? The party ain’t over yet. Look, somebody lined up some shot glasses. Clearly, somebody’s ready for another round. [She points to the glasses.]

OWEN: Sorry, Miss Olivia, but your buddies are gone. [Owen stands up and walks over to Olivia. He starts removing the shot glasses and places them under the counter.]

OLIVIA: You lie. What are you talking about? They’re all right here. [She raises her arms and sways her head and body side to side, only to find that nobody is beside her, and the whole bar is empty.] Hey, where’d everyone go?

OWEN: Home. It’s twelve in the afternoon.

OLIVIA: Last time I checked it was one in the morning.

OWEN: Last time you checked you were up on the bar entering the hot body contest.

OLIVIA: (excited) Oh, oh! Did I win?

OWEN: (annoyed) Did you win. No, you didn’t win. You were disqualified because you were just a tad over the age limit. Don’t get me wrong, Liv, but I don’t know how you are still allowed to come in here. It’s a college bar for Christ’s sake, and you’re, like…what? [He placed both hands down on the bar, leaning now.]

OLIVIA: Twenty-five.

OWEN: Going on forty.

OLIVIA: Okay, fine, so I’m thirty-two. No biggie. Let me tell ya, it pays to know people. I came in here so much during my college years that the owner became like a second father to me. [She lights a cigarette and takes a drag, blowing the smoke in Owen’s face.]

OWEN: Or something else…

OLIVIA: Don’t be fresh, Owen…or jealous. [She takes another drag.] You know, I love our relationship. It’s actually quite unique. I let you tease me, and in return, you get me hammered. Works for me. Unless you want to be more… [She winks at Owen.] So how ‘bout that tequila?

OWEN: (Uninterested) No.

OLIVIA: Come on. What is it? You don’t want me to drink alone? Joe will drink some tequila with me. Isn’t that right, Joe? [She turned around at the sound of beer bottles clanking into the dustpan behind her, visibly hammered and falling off her seat.]

JOE: You know I can’t drink on the job now, Miss Olivia.

OLIVIA: I know, and I know you wouldn’t. You’re a good man, Joe.

JOE: Now, I wouldn’t say that. I’m just getting old now, and I need this job. Can’t be doing something stupid that’s gon’ get an old man fired. [Holding a broom, he walks over to Olivia and pats her on the back, helping her sit correctly back on the stool.] Now, you just sit your pretty little self right back down there.

OLIVIA: Thank you, Joe.

JOE: No problem, Miss. Besides, you know I’m more of a whiskey man. [He winks at Olivia and turns back around and starts sweeping, walking along and clanking the beer bottles in his dustpan as he goes.]

OLIVIA: So how bout you, Owen? You can take a shot with me.

OWEN: No more tequila shots for you.

OLIVIA: Tequila Sunrise?

OWEN: No. You don’t need another tequila anything.

OLIVIA: Fine, then…[She looks down and starts tapping her fingers, takes another drag of her cigarette and puts it out.] I’ll take vodka.

OWEN: Liv!

OLIVIA: Rum?

OWEN: Go home. [Looking at her, he grabs the last shot glass in front of Olivia and sets it under the counter.]

OLIVIA: For what? I have nothing to go home to…no one to go home to. [She pauses and lowers her head on the bar.] This is my home.

OWEN: Now I’m sure that’s not true.

OLIVIA: If I had a life, you think I’d be in this bar every day? [She lifts her head and stares at Owen.] Truth is, I lost everything I had a long time ago.

OWEN: You want to talk about it? [He takes a clean glass hanging overhead and puts it on the bar. He makes a Bloody Mary and places it in front of Olivia.]

OLIVIA: (With a quick sip from the glass) There’s nothing really to say. I messed up during my college years…never really got anywhere. (Sighing) And here I am today, sitting at your bar.

OWEN: Well, what happened?

OLIVIA: (Looking down at the drink swirling in circles as she moves the glass from left to right) It just sucks, you know. You have everything…all this potential…the world at your fingertips, and then you just piss it all away.

OWEN: It’s not too late, ya know. You’re only thirty-two. You’re still young.

OLIVIA: Ah, that’s what I love about you, Owen. [She takes another sip of her drink.] You’re young and naïve, as you should be. [She lights another cigarette.] Oh god, listen to me, I sound like my parents. See, I had all these dreams and goals for myself…and I really thought I was gonna get there, and so did my parents. Then this all happened.

OWEN: Slow down, buddy. Tell me the story.

OLIVIA: Well, it all started on my twenty-first birthday. Actually, a little before then…

The bell above the front door sounds, interrupting Olivia. Owen takes a napkin, wipes his hands and moves from behind the bar to the front door to be greeted by three college girls. The girls are young and clearly in a sorority, for their sweatshirts display Greek letters. Owen checks their IDs and allows them to pass, before walking back behind the bar. The girls come in and sit down at a booth in the left corner. Olivia has her back facing the girls.

OWEN: I’m sorry, Liv. So, where were we?

OLIVIA: Well, I was just saying how—

Olivia is cut off by the girls’ giggles in the corner. Both she and Owen turn to stare at the girls, eavesdropping on their conversation. Steph, the leader of the group, is sitting in the middle gladly accepting compliments from the other two girls. She looks around the bar.

STEPH: This place is such a dump. See, I told you, girls. They let anyone in. Our fakes worked like a charm. [She flips her long, blonde hair behind her one shoulder and begins applying more gloss to her perfectly, sparkling lips.] God, what does it take to get a drink around here? (Looking around) Excuse me, Mr. bartender, would it be impossible to get a drink around here?

OWEN: (Rolling his eyes and whispering to Olivia) What a bitch. [He looks up at the girl.] What can I get for you, miss?

STEPH: You can get me a glass of your top shelf Riesling, and a glass for both of my friends, here. (To her friends) This guy is ridiculous. (To Owen) And doing so in a timely manner would be great, thanks.

Owen pours three glasses and delivers them to the girls. He walks back to the bar to finish his conversation with Olivia—tipless.

STEPH: Cheers, girls, to being young and fabulous, to the future, and to being whatever we want to be—and to nothing being able to stop us.

The girls clank their glasses together and burst into a fit of giggles. They each take a swig from their glasses.

STEPH: Ah, nothing like a glass of wine at twelve in the afternoon. It’s five o’clock somewhere, right? Speaking of wine, that’s all I want there to be at my party on Friday. My twenty-first has to be classy, sophisticated and fabulous—just like me. Therefore, the only alcohol permitted at my party is wine.

FRIEND 1: Oh my God, like, your party is going to be amazing.
STEPH: I know.

FRIEND 2: Oh my God, like, everyone who is anyone will be there.

STEPH: Duh, I know. [She annoyingly looks back and forth at both girls, before glancing up to notice Owen and Olivia staring from across the bar.] Excuse me, lady, can I help you? What’s with the staring problem? I know you’re old and all, but didn’t your parents teach you any manners? [She and her friends start laughing.]

Olivia takes a look at Owen, puts her hands against the bar and tries to stand up.

OWEN: Live, don’t.

OLIVIA: I’m going to teach these girls a lesson, so they don’t end up like me.

OWEN: Liv— [He runs to the other side of the bar to help Olivia off the seat and, against his will, walks her over to the girls’ booth.]

OLIVIA: Hiya, ladies. How are ya’ll doing?

STEPH: Can we help you?

OLIVIA: That’s a nice glass of wine you got there.

STEPH: You probably can’t even afford a glass of this, boozy.

OLIVIA: See, that’s where you’re wrong. Come on, Owen, sit down. [She takes a seat, uninvited, next to the girls. Owen sits too.] See, I used to be just like you …came from a wealthy family…had everything I ever wanted. Then, on the night of my twenty-first birthday, life took a little swerve.

STEPH: Oh, is this supposed to be, like, a forewarning? I know you and bartender boy were listening in on our conversation. Well don’t worry, lady, I won’t be drinking Bloody Marys on my birthday.

OLIVIA: Listen, wino-girl, I used to be a Riesling drinker, too. Now, I know you girls aren’t twenty-one, so I’m gonna give you two choices: one, you can sit down and listen to my story, or two, I can call the cops—your choice.

STEPH: (With hesitation and annoyance) Fine.

END SCENE.

SCENE 2. Girly, college apartment living room: pink walls, flowery decorations, white wicker furniture. At center is a white couch with two loveseats on both sides of it. Everything is neat and in its place. A young Olivia is sitting on the couch putting on heels. She is fancily dressed. Her two friends enter and take seats next to her.

FRIEND 1: Liv! Are you almost ready, girl? It’s almost time. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get you plastered tonight.

FRIEND 2: Tonight is gonna be so fun. We’re taking you to P Den first, then we’ll hit Rumors, and if you’re still alive, possibly Still Life.

OLIVIA: P Den?

FRIEND 1: God, Liv. Do you ever go out. They’re bars.

OLIVIA: I know, guys, and I really don’t want to go out tonight. Can’t we just sit in and have a few glasses of wine. You know, just hang out.

FRIEND 2: Olivia, it’s your twenty-first birthday. Don’t be serious. We’re taking you out on the town. We’re doing it up tonight.

OLIVIA: I know, but you guys know me—I never go out and do this stuff. It’s just not my scene.

FRIEND 1: Umm, we know. That’s why we’re forcing you to go. Let loose once in a while. You’re always so serious and uptight.

OLIVIA: Well that’s what happens when you are a finance major, and you have all these big dreams, and you want to get somewhere. In ten years when I’m rolling in the money, managing Britney Spear’s bank account, I definitely won’t be looking back on tonight and thinking about all the memorable shots I took.

Friend 1 and friend 2 glance at each other, pause, and then look at Olivia.

FRIEND 1: Right.

FRIEND 2: (In unison with friend 1.) Right.

OLIVIA: I’m serious, guys. And you know I have that huge interview tomorrow for that internship in New York over the summer, and I don’t want to be hung over for it. What will they think of me if I roll in smelling like vodka?

FRIEND 1: You mean tequila, ‘cause that’s what we’re drinking tonight.

OLIVIA: Ew. I hate tequila. Well, whatever. I’m just saying, this is a huge, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My dad pulled some serious strings to get me this interview. [She pauses.] This is my shot. I can’t blow it.

FRIEND 1: Come on, let’s go. Tonight is going to be fun. And at any point during the night, if you want to come home, I swear to God I will bring you back.

OLIVIA: You promise?

FRIEND 1: Promise. [She winks at Olivia and gets up off the couch, pulling Olivia up with her. Both friends put their arms around Olivia and walk her out the door, looking at each other and giggling behind Olivia’s back.]

END SCENE.

SCENE 3. Early morning at the local police station. The lighting is dark and dim inside the lobby. The building is cold and uninviting. Olivia’s friends are sitting on two chairs in the left corner of the room, patiently waiting. A guard walks through the black door off to the right, bringing a drunken Olivia with him. He stops and delivers Olivia to her friends.

OLIVIA: (patting the guard on the back) Thanks, Mr. officer. You know what, I don’t care what anyone says. Jail isn’t so bad, once you get over the overwhelming smell of urine coming from your cell. (She hiccups.)

FRIEND 1: Olivia, what the hell is wrong with you?

OLIVIA: No worries, guys, they let me out. See, I told ya it would all be taken care of.

FRIEND 1: Yeah, the only reason they let you out is because I spent the money I worked for all summer bailing you out.

OLIVIA: I’ll make it up to you. Let’s go back to the bar, and I’ll buy you both a drink. [She stumbles over to her friends, falling in their arms for them to catch her.]

FRIEND 2: You just got charged with public drunkenness and resisting arrest, and you want to go to the bar? Liv, what’s wrong with you? You’re taking this whole twenty-one thing a little too far.

FRIEND 1: The fun stopped when you hit an officer with your purse, and then got carted away in the paddy wagon.

OLIVIA: Just one more drink, guys…come on, I know the way!

FRIEND 2: Do you even care that you missed your big interview today? You do know that right?

OLIVIA: Who cares. Not me! I didn’t want that internship anyway.

FRIEND 1: That internship meant the world to you.

OLIVIA: Yeah, well not anymore. Now tequila means the world to me. You know, that stuff tastes so good.

FRIEND 2: Really, ‘cause you hated it yesterday.

OLIVIA: Come on. Let’s go back to Pirate’s Den.

FRIEND 1: Liv, it’s seven in the morning.

OLIVIA: So?

FRIEND 1: I’m not going.

FRIEND 2: Me either.

OLIVIA: What is wrong with you guys?

FRIEND 1: You. Snap out of it. Look, you’re only a half hour late for your interview. If I drive you home real quick to get ready, you might be able to persuade the guy to reconsider. You know, if you explain what happened.

OLIVIA: I’d rather be at the bar.

FRIEND 2: Sorry, Liv. We’re not going with you.

OLIVIA: You both are ridiculous. [She looks back and forth at both her friends.] You know what? I don’t need you guys. Have fun being boring. [She walks out the door, leaving her friends standing there.]

END SCENE.

SCENE 4. Pirate’s Den. Present day. Olivia, Owen, Steph and her two friends still sitting in the tiny booth.

STEPH: So…what happened?

OLIVIA: I went back to the bar.

STEPH: And…

OLIVIA: Well, I’m still here, aren’t I?

STEPH: But what happened to your friends?

OLIVIA: They came to get me…tried to take me home…talk me out of it. They really did try in the beginning, but after a while, they decided I was a lost cause, I guess.

STEPH: And the interview?

Olivia shakes her head.

STEPH: Are you serious? You had a chance to fix it and make it right. You had a second chance.

OLIVIA: I didn’t want it.

STEPH: What is wrong with you?

OLIVIA: I went to a bar the night of my birthday, liked what I did, liked how I felt. I never wanted to leave. It only takes one time, you know. [She lights another cigarette.] So I started coming every night. Then, I started coming earlier and earlier. Soon I started skipping class to come have a drink by twelve in the afternoon. And look at me now. I’m here every day, still.

STEPH: Well, I feel really bad for you, lady. You have problems. [She looks at her two friends sitting next to her.] Come on, girls. This isn’t a good place to be hanging out. You never know what kind of people you’ll meet in a place like this. Besides, we’re way above this. Let’s go work on our project. [She notions to the girls to get up, and they follow her lead. She opens her purse and pulls out a twenty-dollar bill, and she hands it to Owen.] This is for the wine earlier.

The girls exit. Owen gets up and starts cleaning the glasses off the table. Olivia sits still, taking long drags of her cigarette.

OWEN: That was a really nice thing you did there, Livy, especially for a girl like her.

OLIVIA: It wasn’t anything. I don’t care about her.

OWEN: Then why’d you do it?

Olivia sits still, her head down, staring at the blank table. She appears to be in a daydream.

OWEN: Hello?

OLIVIA: Huh?

OWEN: I asked why you did it.

OLIVIA: Well, I…umm…[She clearly appears scrambled and spastic.] I did it because…because I didn’t want girls like that in my bar, ruining my good time.

OWEN: (Unconvinced) Right.

OLIVIA: Hey, I did. That’s why I did it. You should thank me, buddy. I did you a favor. [She gets up and sits down at her usual stool at the bar, following Owen, who is already behind it.]

OWEN: If that’s what you want to believe, Liv.

OLIVIA: It’s the truth, Owen. (Pauses.) Oh, what do you know anyway? You’re a bartender. Make me a drink. Anything tequila.

END SCENE.

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