by Vivien Jones

Setting:       An office

Time:           present

Character:  MARIE, mid-20s

MARIE is confined in an office.  She fidgets with things around her, folds her arms, unfolds them, straightens her skirt, shakes her hair.  She’s waiting.  She inspects the window closely.  She is thinking.


(eyeing a window) Wonder if I could get through that.  No chance with this skirt on.  Dunno where it goes anyway; some yard with a gate probably … oh, well … might as well wait it out then.  Lorraine says there’s no point in trying to run away.  The CCTV will have me.

Now then, what’ll it be this time …  Tears?  Not with M&S and their precious policy.  Give me the box of paper hankies and then prosecute.

Sob-story, then … Mother’s ill—no, dying … no, they’ll check on that.  Knowing my luck she’ll be practicing aerobics when they call …

How about “I’m depressed … clinically depressed” … well, I expect I am … there must be some reason why I pinch all this stuff.  I’m buggered if I know why.  Lorraine says it’s because I’m greedy and lazy but she only says that because she’s my sister.

It’s not true …

I share everything I take.

Not with her, of course.  I don’t exactly know why I do it.

Well, beyond just fancying things and not wanting to pay for them.

I really don’t see why I should.

They have so much, all piled up in tubs … they don’t miss the stuff I take.  Anyway I heard it on the radio; they add in what’s shop-lifted to their prices … so it’s what they call a victimless crime … I mean, if I didn’t carry on nicking stuff all their figures would be out … in a way, I’m an essential part of the economic structure, if you see what I mean.

Lorraine thinks that’s outrageous.

What did I nick today?

(She picks up a jumper.)

God, what did I take that for?  I hate that colour.  Could sell it on I suppose … or give it to Lorraine.

(She pulls out some tights.)

These are nice … pity I can’t hang onto them.

(Tosses them back on the table.)

… oh, well, I could do Littlewoods tomorrow.  Their security staff are shit.

Lorraine and I agree about that, at least, though not for the same reasons.

Couple of ex-police women … they might as well wear helmets.  One of them’s about six foot tall … you can see her coming from miles away.  No-one I know have ever been caught in Littlewoods, not even the teams.

I wouldn’t do that, work in a team, I think it’s dishonest.

And it leads to crime … the serious stuff.

I mean what I do isn’t really crime, is it?

Lorraine doesn’t agree.  She takes it very seriously.  She reckons she’s seen it all.

I can just hear her.

“If you work in a team, some bloke gets all your stuff and you only get a part of its value, sex and some drugs on the side.  And after a while, only the drugs.”

I don’t do drugs … never have … and I work on my own so I can keep what I take, all of it.

Twenty six offences.  I suppose it is a lot, but that’s everything including the Saturday morning school nicking squad when it was only sweets and drinks.  There were plenty of shops in the town centre.  I think I did them all at least once.  Even the hardware shop on the corner.  What was it … weed-killer and lawn de-mosser … very useful.  We just got told off for those, Lorraine and me … sitting in the office while someone rings your parents (what did they care?) and then saying next time it would be the police … oooh scary!  Lorraine was impressed but she was younger than me.  How was I to know where it would lead her?

What time is it?

Better have a think about this one … they’ll be here in a minute.  One manageress, one security and a police pair—man and a woman in case they have to search me … so, what’ll it be?

“Don’t know what came over me … I’ve been blacking out lately.”  Have a good look at the police pair before trying that.  Have they lifted me before?  Are they young enough to be a bit soft?  What if they’re a pair of trouts?  Been there, don’t try it, sort of thing.  Play the old lag?  “Look, I’d come clean if I’d nicked the stuff …”

I know the score.

Confide in them.

(She considers this) Might confuse them for a bit … make them try and remember if they’ve nicked me before … tell them my name is Mary instead of Marie … just enough to bugger the police computer … not enough to be a lie.  Just a little mistake.

What about the stuff?

Try some wide-eyed innocence.

“I was just holding these items before going to the cash desk …”  Look puzzled, slightly outraged … not too much.  Lorraine says it’s harder than you think for them to get a conviction.

They’ll probably take me to station anyway … might depend on the manageress.  She might feel really good if she extends sympathy to a pathetic shop-lifter, so I’d better look dumb … don’t let her see the light in my eyes.

Hunch my shoulders forward, let my mouth go slack, dribble … no, don’t go over the top … pathetic not moronic.  Can I do silent pleading?  How does that go?

(She does all these things as she thinks of them.)

Tilt of the head … doggy gaze … touch of Princess Di … gently wring hands.

Yes, that might work.  And if not … Sheriff Court in the morning, plead guilty … four weeks for background reports … where does that take us too?  Middle of June … so it’ll be Sheriff Dean … bit of an old darling … so, plain blouse, tears in the eyes, waterproof mascara and an alice-band … a warning and a fine and an offer of counseling if I’m lucky.  What’s the point in sending me to prison?  I’ll only learn worse habits.  We both know that.

(She straightens up, shakes out her hair, stretches her limbs, pats her cheeks.)

Right then …

(She makes a welcoming gesture towards the door, touch of the gunslinger.) Come on then, I’m ready for you.

(The door opens.  Marie looks at it.  Freezes momentarily, shuts eyes, opens them wide.  She takes a very deep breath.  She smiles.)

Lorraine!  Mum said you’d moved stations.  How’s it going?

copyright © 2010 Vivien Jones. All rights reserved.

Vivien Jones has had several monologues given rehearsed readings, notably at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe by the Traverse Theatre.  She lives in the southwest of Scotland where she writes drama, poetry, and prose for publication and performance and is an early musician, specialising on viols and recorders.

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