"The Rules"©
An Original Short Script
by
Mark A. Keeton


EXT. PARK -DAY

A young woman, ANGELA, is sitting on a bench. A young man,ERIC, who’s a bit neurotic, sees her and is very attracted.  We see him pass by her, pass back the other way, then circle the bench.  He wants so desperately to speak to her, but can’t.  He starts to walk away. Though she appears not tohave noticed, Angela has observed what’s been happening.

ANGELA
If you want to sit, sit.

Eric looks around.

ERIC
Uh, are you, uh, talking to me?

ANGELA
Did you see someone else?

ERIC
No.

ANGELA
Then sit.

He hesitates, then sits at the furthest end of the bench, as far from her as he can. They stare off into space. Angela never meets his eye.

ANGELA
Aren’t you going to say something?

ERIC
Um, uh, I don’t know. Is there something you’d like to hear?

ANGELA
Not really. I just thought you had something to say.

ERIC
I don’t.

ANGELA
Okay. Then I’m going to go.

She picks up her purse and starts to prepare to walk away.

ERIC
NO!

Finally, eye contact. But it is fleeting and doesn’t happen again for some time.

ERIC
I mean, please don’t go. It’s nice just sitting with you.

ANGELA
Oh. Well, if this is some kind of a pass, I’m not that kind of girl, you know? I am not like most of the women in the city. I have morals. I have standards.

ERIC
No, no. It’s not a pass. I just, I’d like to talk to you.

ANGELA
But you said you didn’t have anything to say.

ERIC
But I do. I do!

ANGELA
Oh.
(she sits)
Okay.

Pause.

ANGELA
Well?

ERIC
Umm, you’re very pretty.

ANGELA
I’ve heard that before.

ERIC
You seem very intelligent.

ANGELA
Thank you. I wish I could say the
same.

ERIC
I’m not stupid. I swear. I’m just....

ANGELA
Shy.

ERIC
Yeah, shy. I don’t usually go up to strangers and speak to them.

ANGELA
But you just couldn’t resist me.  How do I know you’re not some kind of rapist? Or a murderer?

ERIC
Well, I..... I guess you don’t.  But I’m not.

ANGELA
I know.

ERIC
Good

ANGELA
You don’t look threatening enough.

ERIC
I’m not threatening. I’m not.

ANGELA
Good. (pause)  Is that all you’re going to say?  That I’m pretty and "seem"intelligent?

ERIC
Well, I was wondering if I could....

ANGELA
What?

ERIC
Take you on a date?

ANGELA
What do you do for a living?

ERIC
I’m an accountant.

ANGELA
No.

ERIC
What?

ANGELA
No. I won’t go out on a date with you.

ERIC
But why not?

ANGELA
I have a rule. My father told me to never date an accountant. "They are trained cheats. They don’t know how to be honest," he used to say.

ERIC
But I’m honest!

ANGELA
Oh, you probably think you are.  But that’s the accountant in you.  You don’t realize anymore when you’re cheating. You have exemptions and deductions and such running through your mind, making all the money you’re saving from the taxman seem like it’s really yours to save. But you owe. Deep in your heart, you know you owe.

ERIC
I, I never thought of it that way.

ANGELA
Of course not. You’re a victim of your training. Once a dog learns to sit, they never forget. Once a parrot learns a dirty word, they never forget. But it’s not their fault. They have no free will. But we humans? We have free will.  We can question our authorities.

ERIC
Woah. You are getting too deep for me. I just wanted to take you out for a nice, casual date.

ANGELA
Casual, huh? How casual?  McDonald’s casual? Coffee-casual?  Or casual-sex-after-the-dinner-youpaid-for casual?

ERIC
I’m sorry. I guess I’ve made a mistake.

Eric gets up to leave. He looks at her again.

ERIC
You sure are pretty, though.

ANGELA
Thank you.

ERIC
Well, I’ll leave you now.

ANGELA
I thought you would.

Eric starts to walk away, then suddenly gets an idea.

ERIC
Wait a second. Who’s really the dog here?

ANGELA
Pardon me?

ERIC
I mean, who’s really the parrot?

ANGELA
I believe that would be you.

ERIC
Or is it you? Your father "trained" you to believe all accountants are cheats, didn’t he?

ANGELA
(pause, then disturbed)  Uh, no, uh....

ERIC
And you’ve believed all your life that accountants only have numbers running through their heads that validate their "deductions" and "exemptions?"

ANGELA
Maybe. I don’t know.

ERIC
Well, perhaps it’s time for you to exercise your free will. Maybe you should break that rule. Maybe you should question your "training."

Angela is very uncomfortable at this point. All her arguments have been used against her.

ANGELA
You know, you stay. I think I’ll go find another bench.

She begins to get up.

ERIC
But, but...... I was only trying to persuade you that maybe I’m not the accountant-monster you thought I was. If you give me a chance...

ANGELA
Sorry. A rule is a rule. Goodbye.

ERIC
Fine. Goodbye.

Exit Angela. Eric sits, disheartened a bit, questioning.  His eyes follow her.

ERIC
Gosh.......

Suddenly, Angela turns on her heel and marches back to him.  Eye contact galore as she glares at him.

ERIC
Hi.

ANGELA
Look, mister. I don’t even know your name, but I will tell you this.  My father was a good man and he wouldn’t tell me something that wasn’t true. If he said accountants are all cheats, I believe him.

ERIC
Okay. I wasn’t saying he was wrong, necessarily...

ANGELA
I should hope not.

ERIC
I was just saying there’s an exception to every rule.

ANGELA
well, maybe... Sometimes.

ERIC
Why don’t you sit down and we can discuss this further.

ANGELA
Fine.

Angela sits down, closer to him than he expects.

ERIC
Do you like opera?

ANGELA
Huh?

ERIC
Do you like opera?

ANGELA
Why would you ask that? I thought we were going to discuss this accountancy issue.

ERIC
Well, I thought maybe we could start fresh. Not talk about that "issue."

ANGELA
Oh. Well, I guess it’s something we’d really have to delve into deeply.

ERIC
Exactly. Much too heavy for a first conversation. A first, uh, date.

ANGELA
Date?

ERIC
Uh, yeah. Anyway, I’ve got tickets to the opera. I usually have them for the season, but I never go because I don’t have anyone to go with.

ANGELA
Oh. That’s sad.

ERIC
Yeah. It’s such a waste, too. I mean, the opera is so.....

ANGELA
moving....

ERIC
Yeah.

ANGELA
touching...

ERIC
Would you go with me sometime?

ANGELA
I still don’t know your name.

ERIC
Eric Sloane. May I ask yours?

ANGELA
Angela.

ERIC
Well, it’s so nice to meet you, Angela.  Angela?

ANGELA
I’ll tell you later.

ERIC
So, what do you do?

ANGELA
I’m a lawyer.

ERIC
What?

ANGELA
A lawyer.

ERIC
Oh....

ANGELA
What’s wrong with that?

ERIC
Are you a public defender?

ANGELA
No, I...

ERIC
Are you a prosecutor?

ANGELA
No.

ERIC
What kind of law do you practice?

ANGELA
I’m an entertainment lawyer.

ERIC
Oh.

Eric gets up to go.

ERIC
Well, it was nice meeting you.

ANGELA
Wait. Why are you leaving?

ERIC
I have a rule.

ANGELA
What?

ERIC
I don’t date lawyers. Unless they are in public service.
ANGELA

What? But I’m not a bad person. I do pro bono work on the side.

ERIC
Really? What kind of pro bono work.

ANGELA
Well, uh, it’s mostly for friends or family. You know, wills and deeds. That kind of thing.

ERIC
Oh. Well, that’s good I guess.  But still....... Goodbye.

Eric walks away. Angela watches him go.

ANGELA
Well, I’ll be.....

Angela sits for awhile, watching the scenery. She gets up and starts to walk away. Suddenly, when she turns, she’s brought face to face with a bouquet.

ANGELA
What the..?

Eric peers over the flowers. She starts to giggle, then the game commences again.

ERIC
How do you do?

ANGELA
I do fine, thank you.

ERIC
Good. My name is Eric and I just had to bring flowers to you. Your beauty inspired me from afar.

ANGELA
Well, thank you Eric. I’m Angela.

ERIC
Angela, that’s a beautiful name.  It has a beautiful musicality to it.

ANGELA
Thank you, Eric. The flowers are beautiful, by the way.

ERIC
You’re welcome, Angela. Angela, Angela, Angela.... It’s almost operatic. Do you like the opera.

ANGELA
Oh, why yes! Yes I do. It’s so...so...

ERIC
Moving?

ANGELA
Yes.

ERIC
Touching.

ANGELA
Yes.

ERIC
Well, I happen to have season tickets.....

As the conversation continues,the two walk off together, arm in arm.

FADE OUT.




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