Shoes by Sky Vogel
This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent
Time: The time is the present; a summer afternoon
Place: A small, upscale shoe store in a fashionable district
JACKIE (30s) A junior high school teacher
CLERK (20s, male) A retail store clerk
DAVE (30s) A businessman
At rise we see the interior of a women’s shoe boutique. Various displays are positioned around the space, including two or three stand-alone tables, one with a sign marked “Clearance”. Changing chairs, a small stool, and a small floor mirror are present. There is a front door of the shop, on which hangs a sign that reads “Come In” on one side and “Back Soon” on the other, readable by the audience as if outside. In addition, a small jingling bell can be heard each time the door opens. A second doorway, open, leads to an offstage stockroom.
Note: For ease of setup, a simple doorless frame can be used, braced on the floor, the ringing of the bell enough to suggest a door.
We see JACKIE, casually dressed for a day of shopping, sitting alongside a very large pile of opened shoe boxes, their contents spilled out. The front door sign reading “Come In” is turned toward the exterior.
CLERK: (off) Ma’am? I hate to tell you this.
JACKIE: (calling, and not in a happy mood) You don’t have my size in that one either?!
CLERK: (off) I...I’m sorry, ma’am.
JACKIE: (to herself) This is a shoe store all right. Spelled s-h-o-o. (Calling) All right, just bring whatever’s left! (To herself, as she grabs a random shoe) I wish I could find the genius responsible for the stiletto heel. (Beat) Introduce him to my new creation: the stiletto jockstrap!
She manages to squeeze into a shoe and scrutinizes herself in the floor mirror
JACKIE: (cont’d) Keep that slingback good and tight!
The CLERK enters from the stockroom, empty handed
CLERK: I... I think that’s it.
JACKIE: That’s it? This is it? This better not be it!
CLERK: I’m sorry, it’s just that we don’t carry that wide a selection in wide.
He laughs a little at his inadvertent cleverness as JACKIE hobbles up to him, one shoe on, one shoe off
JACKIE: My feet. Are not. Wide!
The front door bell rings as DAVE enters and begins to aimlessly browse
CLERK: Yes, ma’am. I mean, no, ma’am. I mean, I mean actually one isn’t, but one is wide...er...than the other. A little.
JACKIE: Who are you, Doctor Scholl?
CLERK: No, my name is--
JACKIE: Your name is mud if you don’t find me some shoes!
She turns away
CLERK: Y-yes, ma’am. Uh, let me just get this gentleman here for a moment. I’ll be right back with you, ma’am.
JACKIE: (to herself) Yippee. I’ll just sit right here. Unless I slide off the seat. (Louder, to the CLERK) Hope both my cheeks are the same width!
CLERK: (to DAVE) Hello, sit!
DAVE: Excuse me?
CLERK: I’m sorry?
DAVE: You said, hello sit.
CLERK: Sit? (Beat) Sir! Hello, sir! Hello! Come in! Have a seat! Have a seat, sir. Sit!
DAVE: That’s okay, I’m just browsing.
CLERK: That’s okay! It is! Yes. You let me know if I can get you anything.
JACKIE: (to herself) One wide and one narrow.
CLERK: Or not.
DAVE: Okay, thanks.
JACKIE: (to herself) Oh, that’s it, isn’t it, Bill. That explains it all.
CLERK: (looking for an escape) Listen, I’m just gonna be in the back. I’ll be right back. From the back.
The CLERK exits to the stockroom
JACKIE: Hey! Where are you...hey! (To herself) Oh, joy. (Calling) I hope the catalogs put you out of business!
A long pause as JACKIE removes a shoe and tosses it on the pile in defeat. DAVE is simultaneously picking up a random shoe or two from the displays
JACKIE: (cont’d) What is it with “the back,” anyway? (Mocking) I’ve gotta check in the back! Maybe we have more out back! Now there’s an idea. I’ll open a store called The Back. Nothing but back!
For the first time she notices DAVE, holding a shoe and lost in thought
JACKIE: (cont’d) Hey, now that’s you. I’ll tell you though, if they don’t have my size, they’re sure not gonna have yours.
DAVE: (realizing he’s being spoken to) What?
JACKIE: Where. (Beat) Your turn.
DAVE: Uh, are you talking to me?
JACKIE: Oh, Mr. De Niro! Oh, I’m one of your biggest fans!
DAVE: Look, I--
JACKIE: Sense of humor? Zip. (Indicating, with mock sorrow, the shoe DAVE is holding) Sense of fashion?
DAVE: What, this? I was just...just...
He quickly tries to put the shoe back on the display but succeeds only in knocking things over
DAVE: (cont’d) Oh, god!
JACKIE: (amused) Can I help?
DAVE: No, thanks, I’ve...
He fumbles more shoes, with even more chaotic results
DAVE: (cont’d) Got it.
JACKIE: Hey, no fair, your pile is almost as big as mine! And you just got here!
DAVE grabs a bill from his wallet, places it on the register, and quickly crosses toward the front door
DAVE: Do me a favor? Tell the guy I’m sorry I screwed up his store.
JACKIE: Wait a minute!
She hurries over to DAVE, not about to let him escape
JACKIE: (cont’d) Hold on!
She grabs DAVE’s arm. A beat
DAVE: You, uh, forgot one.
JACKIE: What one?
DAVE: Not so fast.
DAVE: (cont’d, helping her to get the reference) Wait a minute... Hold on...
DAVE: Not so fast. JACKIE: Not so fast.
JACKIE laughs a little for the first time
JACKIE: All right. So.
DAVE: Oh! The shoes!
JACKIE: The...ladies shoes.
DAVE: Look, uh...
DAVE: Jackie. I, I really didn’t-- Is that short for Jacqueline?
JACKIE: Yes, it is.
DAVE: It’s, it’s very nice. It fits you.
JACKIE: Thank you...
DAVE: (not understanding her lead at first) You’re wel-- Oh! Dave! It’s Dave.
He offers his hand
JACKIE: Dave. Is that short for something?
He laughs, the ice broken
DAVE: So, you were saying.
JACKIE: No, you were saying.
DAVE: Right. About the sh-- the ladies shoes.
JACKIE: Yes, tell me. And I’ll tell you about this great lingerie store nearby. ‘Course you probably already know about it.
DAVE: Wait, you, you don’t think I’m buying women’s shoes for myself!
JACKIE: I really don’t think it matters. I guess I’m just bored and curious by nature.
DAVE: You’re bored by nature?
DAVE: And curious too? They don’t go together.
JACKIE: Bored, comma, and curious by nature. Tell me, have you ever worked in a shoe store?
DAVE: It’s just that you--
JACKIE: Never mind. C’mon, un-bore me. (She sits) That is if you don’t mind. I don’t want to pry.
JACKIE: You’re going to tell me! Good, ‘cause I actually did want to pry.
DAVE: Let me ask you something. Do you ever wonder how it is that people get together? This day and age? You know? I mean... Look, people are so busy, just meeting someone new, anyone, is hard enough. Meeting women, or someone of the opposite sex, or whatever might be your... I mean, it’s going to be harder, right? Now, add to that, meeting someone of the opposite, or whatever, who you find attractive. Meeting someone who you find attractive who finds you attractive! Meeting someone, the attraction thing, and who’s single, not seeing someone, whatever. And of course, you have to be single too! And there’s all the rest, like religion, politics, which way the toilet paper rolls. So, with all of this, I want to know how it is that anyone anywhere anytime gets together! Is actually a couple! What are the odds? How is that possible! (A pause) But, you know what? It happened to me. I won the lottery, the daily double. The once-in-a-lifetime double. I don’t know how, what I did to get picked. I don’t remember any special good deeds or signing my soul away. I just woke up one day and I...I felt, I feel... Am I making any sense? It’s like you’re designed for each other. Like someone took a salt shaker shaped like a cow and a pepper shaker that looks like a penguin and said, there you go! Black and white, a match! And life! My god, life is... without touching your chest you can feel your heart beating. You’re flying high, loving everything. Everything! The wait for a cab, the crazy price for a candy bar! You’re singing along to songs you don’t know the words to, and saying “howdy, pardner” to hot dog vendors from Pakistan and...it all feels perfect. All of it...feels...
JACKIE: Dave, why did you come in here today?
DAVE: (embarrassed) I’m sorry, I really shouldn’t--
DAVE: It’s just...a woman I like...
JACKIE: Doesn’t like you.
DAVE: Doesn’t like me.
JACKIE: I’m sorry to hear that.
DAVE: I should’ve been happy. I should’ve realized what I had. (Beat) Now it’s gone.
DAVE: Oh, I know. Her loss...and all that.
JACKIE: That’s what they say.
DAVE: Yeah. So why do I feel lost?
JACKIE: And the shoes?
DAVE: Well, we first met during lunch hour. We were having a really nice time, but she had to cut it short because of an appointment. Turned out she works at the trade mart. “Oh, hey, right near where I work,” I said, “I’ll walk with you.” I wanted to keep talking, you know? Get her number? She said, “Great,” but that she had to hurry. (Enjoying the memory) And she wasn’t kidding. I could barely keep up. Just this ball of energy.
JACKIE: How tall is this ball?
DAVE: What, tall? I don’t know, five-foot-two, three.
JACKIE: Well, there you go.
DAVE doesn’t understand
JACKIE: (cont’d) She’s gonna be faster than you. Closer to the ground. Look at dachshunds.
DAVE: Anyway, she was hurrying so much that she stumbled and broke a heel.
JACKIE: That can happen.
DAVE: It was right outside.
JACKIE: So, she ducked in here to get a new pair.
DAVE: It was kinda funny. She was wearing a real strange shade of blue and didn’t think she’d find shoes to match. Turned out they had just what she was looking for.
JACKIE does a slow burn
DAVE: (cont’d) You can imagine how happy that made her. Lit up. Spun around and gave me a big squeeze right here. I spent the rest of the day smelling her perfume on my shirt.
DAVE: How’d you know?
JACKIE: The better question is: how did you know? And let me guess something else. You--
DAVE: Yes! I’m here because it reminds me of her!
JACKIE: You, my friend, are a master of torture. They should use you on captured spies.
DAVE: I know I should...get on with my life.
JACKIE: I hate that cliché.
JACKIE: I’m curious though.
JACKIE: You said that everything was great, squeezes, salt
and pepper shakers, but that this woman doesn’t like you. One of these things is not like the others. Might be the penguin, but I don’t think so.
DAVE: (a nerve is struck) Look, I’m probably keeping you from your shopping... (indicating the pile of shoes) and everything.
JACKIE: My quest? The impossible dream? No, I can use the diversion from my diversion, believe me. Besides, school’s out for summer and I’ve got nothing--
DAVE: You’re a teacher?
JACKIE: English and drama. Junior high. And I don’t look like I’m insane, do I.
DAVE: Well, it must be very reward--
JACKIE: (in one breath) Oh yes, it’s so very rewarding what I’ve always dreamed of ever since I was a little girl spending a lifetime shaping young people’s minds and showing them the key to a better and more fulfilling tomorrow is a solid education grounded in the basics augmented with the humanities and all provided in a nurturing and supportive environment.
DAVE: Sounds like you could use a raise.
He sits next to her
DAVE: (cont’d) Jackie?
JACKIE: (half to herself) How’d I get to be such a jerk?
DAVE: No, c’mon. Hey, you’re a drama teacher, right? You’re just being dramatic.
JACKIE: No. I lost control. I’ve been...out of control.
DAVE: It’s okay.
JACKIE: You’re a nice person.
DAVE: I must’ve had a good teacher.
JACKIE: So. Please. Tell me why the woman of your dreams is now the woman of your nightmares.
DAVE: No, I...I would never put it that way.
JACKIE: (coaxing) Dave?
DAVE: It’s...me. I couldn’t-- I didn’t want to get married. I guess. I always thought I would, y’know? When it was just an abstract idea. I really don’t understand. I mean, I think...I think I was afraid the happiness would go away. I was just...confused.
JACKIE: And the happiness went away.
DAVE: I couldn’t talk about it with her. She’d have thought it was her fault. That I was just trying to save her feelings.
A small pause
JACKIE: So. You have a wonderful, remarkable relationship. Perfect, ideal--
DAVE: I didn’t say perfect.
JACKIE: Sounded like you meant perfect. And now you--
DAVE: I know what you’re gonna say.
JACKIE: How now brown cow. (A beat) Bow wow.
JACKIE: Is that what you thought I was going to say?
[End of Extract}