Cop Love – A Single Act Play
February 14, 2012 in Valentine's Day Love Contest
(Disclaimer: Due to the subject matter, if you’ve ever lost anyone in a motorcycle crash, this may be a little graphic for you. You may want to skip it. )
(The scene is set in the men’s locker room of an inner-city police department. There are long rows of green steel lockers flanking each side of the stage and a red brick wall for the backdrop. Narrow benches are in front of the lockers. The curtain opens to the full cast of characters, all clad in towels. Samson and Kowalski are snapping towels stage left. O’Brien is arguing with Dominguez. Bertrand is combing his hair in the mirror. Several other officers are also milling about in the vicinity. Sergeant Latrigue is standing before an open locker.)
O’Brien: Hey, Sarge, you know a lot about love. Maybe you can settle a bet between Dingo and me.
Latrigue: It’s been a long shift. Why don’t you boys go home and get some shuteye? I’ve got business to attend to. (Latrigue produces a pint bottle of whiskey from his locker and takes a long pull.)
O’Brien: Come on, Sarge. It’ll only take a minute and we need your input. Besides, it is almost Valentine’s Day.
Latrigue: Are you fucking kidding me? Sure, whatever, what is it, you goddamn nancy boys?
Kowalski: Hey, everyone shut up! Sergeant Latrigue is going talk to us about love.
(All horseplay stops. The men gather around to hear the discussion.)
Dominguez: Well, we were just talking about the pain of love. I say that love is like the jolt you feel from the Taser. You never expect it to be as bad as it is. The pain lasts for a bit, but then all of the sudden, you’re fine—
O’Brien: And I say that the pain of love is like pepper spray—
Dominguez: You and that fucking pepper shit.
Samson: Hey, shut the fuck up! Let him finish.
O’Brien: I say it’s like pepper spray. You usually know it’s coming, and when it hits, you’re not surprised. It hurts really bad at first, but you gradually adjust to it. After a while, the pain goes away and you move on.
(A general murmur rises from the crowd of be-toweled cops. There is some shoving as the group splits up into factions.)
Latrigue: Hey, knock that shit off. Fuck this, I’m outta here.
Dominguez: Hey, Sarge, don’t do us like that. We need to know. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I don’t know a thing about love. I— I just don’t think I’m very prepared.
O’Brien: Yeah, we really need to know this.
(Latrigue takes another swig from his bottle. He sits on a bench to rest his weary legs—legs, that have maybe lived a little too much.)
Latrigue: So, Dominguez, you said the pain of love is like a Taser, right?
(Dominguez nods his head. One of the officers makes a cat call in approval.)
Latrigue: And, O’Brien, you’re the pepper spray one, right?
O’Brien: Damn straight.
(A random hand comes up to fist-bump O’Brien’s)
Latrigue: Well, I say you’re both wrong. You kids have been on a few years. Ever see a bad motorcycle wreck?
All: Sure. Yeah.
(A few more uniformed officers arrive and silently take up listening positions outside the ring of toweled men.)
Latrigue: When a man on a motorcycle slides out of control, at some point, he comes away from the bike, but that’s usually not at the beginning of the accident. A mistake was made prior, but somewhere, at some time, the two come apart. Maybe he goes airborne, or maybe he just slides along the asphalt, but in any event, the roadway is where he eventually ends up. But, he doesn’t just stop there. He skids—plummeting sideways as the friction wears away the fibers of his clothing to expose bare skin.
Then, when the last amount of protection is gone, the first layers of cells are shaved away by the tar and pebbles. As each skin cell is left on the tarmac, a new one rises up to take its place. You can’t see this microscopic interaction, of course. Because there are so many cells, they come together to look like an evenly laid red carpet. Eventually, when that rider has no skin left and the streak of blood and flesh is twenty or thirty feet long, the highway goes to work on his bones, muscle, organs, and anything else that it can tear away with its heartless claws. The pain is excruciating, but then it just stops. Not because the rider is used to it, but because everything that once made him human is so badly damaged that he just can’t feel anymore.
That’s what love is: a motorcycle crash that never ends.
Kowalski: Um, holy shit.
O’Brien: That’s, uh, dark.
Dominguez: Mind passing me that bottle, Sarge?
Latrigue: I’ve got a better idea . . . TOWEL FIGHT!
(Everyone starts snapping each other with towels and the curtain closes. There is raucous laughter and horseplay.)