My Short Stories

Fiction

A Play by Lee Su Min

Catch Me If You Can

I miss my home

CHARACTERS:

Stephanie Wong Li Ching

Justin Chan Meng See

William Ho Wai Tiong

Diana Lee Ling Ling

ACT I – Thursday afternoon

ACT II – Friday afternoon

ACT III – Saturday morning

ACT IV – Sunday morning

ACT V – Sunday afternoon

ACT VI – Monday morning

ACT VII – Tuesday

 

The scene of the play takes place on the pathway along Kay Siang Road towards the bus-stop in Singapore on 7 May 2020. Stephanie is walking under the hot sun at 38 degrees towards the bus-stop. Thereafter she boards a bus and arrives at the Evans Mall.

 

ACT I

 

Scene: It is Thursday afternoon about 3:00 p.m. Stephanie was walking towards the bus-stop along the pathway. A man dressed in navy top and white pants confronts her. The man approaches Stephanie, and she was taken aback.

Stephanie (surprised): It’s not what you think.

Justin: No, my brains are working.

Stephanie: Well, so is mine!

Justin: Then why are you here?

Stephanie: Because I enjoy talking to you.

Justin: No, I don’t like to talk to you.

Stephanie: Then go away, go look someone else to arrest.

Justin: I am not arresting you. I am just wondering if you needed any help.

Stephanie: You are preventing me from accomplishing my daily ritual.

Justin: Where to?

Stephanie: Why do I have to tell you where I am going?

Justin: I am sure you must have more urgent things to do, rather than walking along aimlessly.

Stephanie: Such as?

Justin: I don’t know, could be anything.

Stephanie: Name me a few.

Justin: Oh, I just saw that fire broke out in Okinawa district this morning.

Stephanie: How could you see so far?

Justin: I am not seeing; I am just giving an example.

Stephanie: Apart from Okinawa, where else is there having fire?

Justin: China, for instance, they could be flooding now.

Stephanie: I am not asking you about China now.

Justin: But you asked me for an example, right?

Stephanie: Ok, let’s talk about more urgent disasters now.

Justin: Such as?

Stephanie: Covid.

Justin: Covid 18, 19, or 20?

Stephanie: There is only one Covid.

Justin: Oh my God!

Stephanie: Why OMG?

Justin: Today is Vesak Day, I just remembered.

Stephanie: Ok! You have not forgotten! Then shall I pay a visit to the Buddha or not?

Justin: It’s entirely up to you. But today is very hot, and the Buddhist Temple is very crowded.

Stephanie: Am I free to go now?

Justin (holds his hands out): By all means, madam.

Stephanie: Thank you Mr. Buddha!

Justin: Hey wait! My name is not Buddha!

Stephanie: Then what is your name?

Justin takes out a badge from his pocket and flashes it in front of Stephanie.

Justin: Let me show you, my name.

Stephanie: I can’t see, I am far sighted.

Justin: Then put on your glasses.

Stephanie: Oh ok, I am not wearing my glasses.

Justin hands Stephanie a pair of spectacles.

Stephanie: Oh, my goodness! You stole my glasses!

Justin: So, what do you want me to do about it, report me?

Stephanie: Let me see your name card again.

Justin: You can’t remember?

Stephanie: I no speak the English, me, a Mandarin speaker.

Justin: I give up, just take these glasses, and go!

Before Stephanie walks away, Justin hands her another pair of spectacles.

Justin: Take this as well.

Stephanie: Thank you!

 

THE CURTAIN FALLS

 

ACT II

 

Scene: It is Friday afternoon about 6:00 p.m. in the Evans Mall just outside Perfect Grant. Stephanie stands and she ponders. In her hand, she is holding the extra pair of spectacles that Justin gave her. She sees William inside but nonetheless knocks on the door.

Stephanie (shouts): Knock, knock, who’s there?

William: You don’t need to knock, the door is open, can’t you see?

Stephanie: I am not wearing my contact lens now.

William: Of course not, you are wearing your own spectacles.

Stephanie: Oh, you can see!

William: Err, ma’am, of course I can see, I am not short sighted.

Stephanie: Aye, I can see you wearing a pair of glasses.

William: That means that you are wearing contact lens now, for otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see.

Stephanie: I thought you said that I was wearing spectacles.

Stephanie goes to the mirror in the shop.

William (stands behind her): Still looking good.

Stephanie: Of course! I am only seventeen.

William: That’s strange, my daughter is also seventeen today.

Stephanie: Show me her identity card.

William (looks appalled): Madam, are you ok or not? Why should I be carrying my daughter’s identity card?

Stephanie (crossed): You told me she was seventeen, how would I know if you were telling me the truth?

William: Hey! That’s unfair! I am her father of course I know my daughter’s age.

Stephanie (smiles): I never knew you had a daughter.

William (embarrassed): I didn’t want to tell you; I was hoping to offer you, my services.

Stephanie: What services?

William: Actually, I knew that you were coming in to look for me today.

Stephanie: Who told you?

William: A little girl told me.

William suddenly wakes up; he rushed out of the shop and forgets to lock his door.

Stephanie sits there.

From being in a good mood, she becomes furious. She walks to one of the displays and puts her spectacles inside.

Stephanie (thinks): Why do I have to look after his shop for him?

 

THE CURTAIN FALLS

ACT III

 

Scene: It is Saturday morning about 8:00 a.m. in the Perfect Grant. Stephanie is still inside sitting at the counter. The door is open, and she sees William coming in.

William returns.

Stephanie: Where have you been last night?

William: Why do I have to tell you? Are you, my wife?

Stephanie: I am not, but you made me sit in your shop watching over all your precious articles for at least (she looks at her watch) by now more than 14 hours.

William: Oh, nobody asked you to do this.

Stephanie: I was merely doing you a favour, and I am going to release myself from captivity now.

William: Hey wait! Before you leave, show me your bag.

Stephanie: Why.

William: In case you took anything from my shop in my absence.

Stephanie: But why would I want to do that?

William: I know that you need a pair of new spectacles.

Stephanie: No, I don’t.

William: I say you do.

Stephanie: By the way, I came in here with a pair of spectacles in my hand yesterday.

William: We are not talking about yesterday now.

Stephanie: But I want to know why you suddenly rushed out of the shop when you were talking to me.

William: I was trying to attend to my daughter’s birthday party.

Stephanie: Trying? You are her father; shouldn’t you be organizing it?

William: She is an adult now; she makes her own decision.

Stephanie: Seventeen an adult? Which county are you in?

William: As a matter of fact, she turned eighteen ... wait ... just this minute.

William frantically looks at his watch.

Stephanie: It’s here! I kept it for you.

William: Thank God. I thought it was missing.

Stephanie: Nice watch. But too large for my wrist.

William: Woman! You stole my watch?!

Stephanie: Merely trying it on, not stealing.

William takes back the watch and he look at it.

Stephanie: I didn’t do anything to it.

William (yells at the top of his voice): It stopped.

Stephanie (emphasis): Err, I didn’t do anything to it, (and then adds) it stopped on its own.

Upon which William slaps Stephanie.

Stephanie (now starts to shout): You are violent!

William: Do you want to call for the police?

Stephanie: No, of course not, but let it be on the record that you slapped me.

William: Then just leave, I am not interested in talking to you anymore.

Stephanie: Bye, by the way, checking your display, you have a nice variety of spectacles, they are extremely intelligent.

William scratches his head.

 

THE CURTAIN FALLS

 

ACT IV

 

Scene: It is Sunday morning about 11:00 a.m. in the Perfect Grant. William has put up an advertising display in the Fresh Hire App. He wants to hire a new assistant.

Stephanie walks in.

William (looking calm): Why are you here again today?

Stephanie: I saw your advertisement.

William: Where?

Stephanie: In the Fresh Hire App.

William: Where? I want to see.

Stephanie: There you go! Let me show you.

Stephanie hands William her handphone.

William: Oh, I can’t go in, it’s locked.

Stephanie: Forget it, you are too old for this, let me come back for the interview another day.

But Stephanie continues browsing the shop ....

Stephanie: By the way, have you checked your display recently?

William: Why?

Stephanie: Are the glasses in the same order as they have been arranged before?

William scratches his head again ....

Stephanie: I don’t know if anyone disturbed them ....

William (takes cognizance): Wait. Madam! As far as I know, you were the only one who was here two nights ago.

Stephanie raises her hands up immediately.

Stephanie: I swear I didn’t do anything.

William: Then why the innuendo?

Stephanie: What is the meaning of this?

William: You don’t know the meaning of “innuendo”?

Stephanie: I repeat, me, I no speak English, I am a Chinese speaker.

William: Mandarin or Chinese?

Stephanie: Is there a difference?

William: Mandarin is the spoken form of the Chinese language, and Chinese refers to the language in general in written form.

Stephanie: Aiyo, so simple, let me go lah, I didn’t let anyone in last night.

William walks up and tries to grab Stephanie’s bag.

William: I know you took something from me the other night when you were here.

Stephanie: Go look at your CCTV.

William: I don’t have CCTV in my shop.

Stephanie: Then why did you leave your door open on that fateful night?

William: Look, it was my daughter’s birthday and I had to attend to her.

Stephanie: Again, the same excuse. Where is your wife? Couldn’t she celebrate your daughter’s birthday in your absence?

William: My wife is dead, a long time ago.

Stephanie: Oh, I see, I am extremely sorry.

William: About what?

Stephanie: About your wife’s passing.

William: No need to be sorry, she is in heaven now.

Stephanie: Then would you like to join her?

William (shouts): NO! Of course not! (adds): I am having fun here now!

Stephanie: Doing what? Talking to me?

William: No, waiting for someone to come for an interview.

Stephanie: Oh yeah, how forgetful I am, I was here for an interview, not for confession.

William: No, I was the one who was confessing, not you.

Stephanie: In any case, I am not a priest, confessing to me also no use.

William: Maybe I go to the church later today.

Stephanie: Today is Vesak Day, more effective if you go to the Guan Yin Miao.

William: But then I no speak Chinese, want to accompany me?

Stephanie: Err, I can’t, I need to look after your shop for you when you are gone.

William: How responsible! You are hired!!!

 

THE CURTAIN FALLS

ACT V

 

Scene: It is Sunday afternoon about 4:00 p.m. and William, and Stephanie are sitting inside the Perfect Grant. The shop is in the centre of the mall, next to it is a café that sells sweets and ice cream. They both gets bored. Waiting for a customer to turn up wanes the patience.

So, Stephanie and William walk next door, they both forget to close the door, leaving it open.

William: How’s coffee?

Stephanie: Great! Never tasted better.

William: That’s because you are having it with me.

Stephanie (takes cognizance): Wait! You have been here before!

William: Is this a statement or a question?

Stephanie: I thought you speak English?

William: Oh yeah, I forgot! I thought I was in China.

Stephanie: China!

William: Why.

Stephanie: China is mainly populated by the Chinese race; you don’t see other races in there. Here we are multi-racial.

William: Oh, so I see.

Stephanie: Now you, see?

William: Err, I need my glasses.

Stephanie (now furious): Do you wear glasses or contact lens?

William: Hey! What has this got to do with you?

Stephanie (raises her hands): I didn’t steal your glasses.

William: Yes, last night I went through all my spectacles, and I found a diamond amongst them.

Stephanie (exclaims): Diamond!!!

William: Yes, diamond.

Stephanie: How large is it?

William: I don’t know. All I know is that it is a rare gem.

Stephanie (eyes wide): Can you give it to me?

William: You want me to present you with a diamond for what happened last night?

Stephanie: Nothing happened last night.

William: I know. But only you and I know, and no one else know.

Stephanie: Apart from God of course.

William: And I don’t even have CCTV, so even God doesn’t know.

Stephanie: Then what can we do to prove that we were innocent.

William: Install CCTV.

Stephanie: You pay?

William: Of course, I am paying for coffee.

Stephanie: How much?

William: Ten fifty.

Stephanie: Sing dollar or U.S. currency?

William: Again, you play the fool with me. I know that you know where you are.

Stephanie: I am here!

William: I can see now; you are none other than my employee Stephanie.

Stephanie: Don’t be rude, I am your assistant. And by the way, I saw something very amusing this morning.

William: What?

Stephanie: I was on the bus, and there the minute I sat down next to a lady. She picked up her handphone, and guess what I saw?

William: What did you see?

Stephanie: She had the picture of a legal assistant as her wallpaper.

William: How did you know?

Stephanie: I saw the name of her contact when she opened the handphone right in front of me.

William: Strange. Do you know her?

Stephanie: No. Never met her in my entire life.

William: Then just ignore.

Stephanie: Have you paid?

William: I own this café as well.

Stephanie: Oh, you are rich! I want to marry you now!

William: Help me find the diamond first.

Stephanie: Which diamond? The one that you mentioned just now.

William: Of course!

Stephanie and William take a long stroll back to the shop.

 

THE CURTAIN FALLS

ACT VI

 

Scene: It is Monday morning about 11:00 a.m. inside the Perfect Grant. William and Stephanie are sitting inside without anyone browsing around. Both are utterly bored. A cup of coffee is on the countertop. 

Stephanie (softly): You are just a fat security guard!

William: Don’t be rude.

Stephanie: I thought after the coffee I can say anything to you.

William: I was the one who paid, not you.

Stephanie: And I was the one who looked after your shop the other night, in your absence!

William: But I am now paying you.

Stephanie: Oh yeah, how much is my salary?

William: I thought you wanted the diamond, in lieu of salary.

Stephanie: Ok, I will help you sell your diamond for you.

William (searches his pocket): OMG! I left it at the café!

Stephanie: Quick, let’s hurry back.

They both rush out of the Perfect Grant, arriving at Sweets and Dreams, three shops away.

William shouts at the girl behind the counter.

William: Have you seen my diamond?

Diana: What diamond?

William: I left a small box here.

Diana: I didn’t see.

William: Didn’t see or cannot, see?

Diana: No difference.

William: You need a pair of glasses.

Diana: Oh ok, I will drop by after work.

William: Don’t forget to close the café when you leave.

At the same time, Stephanie closes the shop at the Perfect Grant. William comes back and sees that the shop is closed, he goes home.

 

THE CURTAIN FALLS

ACT VII

 

Scene: The next day. Diana walks into William’s shop at Perfect Grant, she and William arranges the showcase. They counted and found an extra pair of spectacles.

Diana (confronts William): You slept with the lady who came in with you yesterday.

William (raises both hands): No. I don’t sleep with my staff.

Diana: Then why did she leave this pair of spectacles behind?

William (raising his voice): I don’t know!!!

Diana: For Christ’s sake?

William: Yes, I confess now! I went to the 观音庙 yesterday!

Diana goes to the counter, opens her bag, and takes out a box.

Diana: Here you are!

William (panics): I never intended to give it to her.

Diana slaps William.

William opens the box. He sees nothing inside. William then grabs the letter opener by the side, he shoves the object perpendicular to and directly into Diana’s body.

Diana (softly): Do you have CCTV here?

William: You told me not to install.

Diana (a whisper): Then just go ahead.

 

THE CURTAIN SLOWLY FALLS

Thank you for reading my second play. Inspiration suddenly came and I managed this quite quickly. Plays are easier to write than stories. But I think I am better at writing stories. Running out of storyline though, perhaps a long sleep and waking up to several cups of coffee might help .....