Thursday

LITTLE JIMMY, a short play about school violence

I wanted to write a play about school shootings. I wanted to make it kind of scary and kind of in a "this could be your kid" vein. I remember when I was working at WTBQ in New York and there'd be an incident at a school in, say, Alaska and how all these copycat things would happen all of a sudden. A flurry of email and phone threats and you knew most of them were from kids with too much time on their hands but you couldn't ignore them. You never knew if one might be real. So I wrote Little Jimmy about three middle class kids who "might" take a gun to school. Might.

Claudia Haas is a playwright up in Minnesota who works with young people. She used Little Jimmy with her teenagers. I got a nice email from her:






























LITTLE JIMMY


By


Dale Andersen

©Copyright 2005


Character Breakdown


Jason..................Male, teenager
Jared..................Male, teenager
Brent..................Male, teenager





Synopsis
Three video gamers talk about a shooting incident as they play a violent video game.


Technical Requirements
Bed, desk, computer, sound effect of computer game running. Sound effect of garage door.




(Early afternoon. A teenage boy's bedroom. Posters on wall announce to
the world this is the room of a video game wannabe. Desk with computer.
A bed off to the side. JASON enters, followed by JARED & BRENT. They
still have their bookbags on)


BRENT:
Sweet. I like the posters. You gotta gimme your decorator's name.
(JARED smirks. BRENT nods toward computer)
Stellar setup, dude.

JASON:
It's strictly for running graphics.

JARED:
Cool.

BRENT:
Hey, wait! Hold it right there just one minute. Don't move, you two.

JARED:
What?

BRENT:
(Steps back. He is behind them. Points
his finger at them, making a pistol)

Blam! Blam! Blam! I hate you! You're all dead! Blam!

JARED:
What the hell was that about?

BRENT:
You didn't get it? That was Little Jimmy. I shot you in the bookbag. Just like Little Jimmy.

JARED:
Oh Jeez, Brent!

BRENT:
Blam! Blam! You try to run away. But Little Jimmy shoots you in the bookbag again. Blam! Great target. Like a bullseye on your back. Blam!

JASON:
(Drops bookbag on floor)
That wasn't funny, man.

BRENT:
Whaddaya mean? That was hilarious.

JARED:
(Drops bookbag on floor. Unzips bookbag, takes out diskette)
Relax, Jason. Brent's always doing stuff. He doesn't mean anything. Just Brent being Brent.

BRENT:
Jared, seriously, you didn't think that was funny?

JARED:
Let it go, Brent.

JASON:
Some things you just dont joke about, man.

JARED:
(Hands diskette to JASON)
Okay okay. No more Little Jimmy. Let's get started.

JASON:
(Sits at computer. Turns it on. Inserts diskette)
All right. Ready to launch. Launch.

JARED:
Whoa! Fast bootup.

JASON:
Its got a three point two gig processor, two gig system memory.
(Beat)
Okay. So what next?

(BRENT hops onto the bed. Lies face up, tossing a
tennis ball up to the ceiling and catching it)


JARED:
Wait'll the game comes up. Okay, there. There it is. You see that? That's a graphic of a door. The door's probably rigged. Probably a bomb.

JASON:
How can you tell?

JARED:
You assume. Now move Bogart's team up to the door.

JASON:
Just Bogart?

JARED:
Just Bogart. Chavez and Santiago can cover. Come on. Come on. Do it. Move, move! You gotta move fast or.

JASON:
Shit!

JARED:
(Reads)
"Mission Failure. Your team has been killed."

BRENT:
Way to go, Jase.

JASON:
Up yours, Brent.

(BRENT makes a sound like he's been goosed)

JARED:
You can't just stand there. Gotta keep moving. Tangos are always moving. You stand still, you're dead.

JASON:
Yeah but if I had the cheat codes.

(On hearing that, BRENT groans)

JARED:
Then you're not playing the game.

JASON:
You said you were gonna give me the cheat codes.

JARED:
You need to learn the game first.

JASON:
That'll take a week. Maybe more than a week. I got midterms coming up. And I got lacrosse.

BRENT:
Having the cheat codes is like being on a date with Yolanda and knowing how to hypnotize her. I mean, where's the adventure?

JASON:
Well uh. Maybe the adventure starts after she's hypnotized.

BRENT:
Now thats the kind of shit you'd hear from Little Jimmy.

(Silence. Sound of JASON's fingers
on the keyboard. Then...)


JASON:
So. So you guys knew Little Jimmy.

BRENT:
We were friends.

JARED:
No. Check that. We were acquaintances. Like gamers know other gamers? It's not like we hung together.

BRENT:
Yeah. That's right. Common thread was gaming. Like a big club. There's even some teachers into gaming.

JASON:
Yeah?

BRENT:
Sure. Why not?

JARED:
Teachers need a life, too. All right. We're back at the door. You got the door in front of you. Keep moving. Good good. The doors probably rigged. Probably a bomb. Position your teams. Santiago and Chavez to cover. Good. Advance Bogart's team. No no. Don't let them bunch together. Spread them out. Yes good. Check the heartbeat sensors. Good. From Bogart's team, break out Roger McAllen. Check to ensure he's in a heavy uniform. Is he? Is he?!?
(Leans closer to screen)
Well come on!!?? Is he in a heavy uniform?!?

JASON:
Uh. No.

JARED:
Shit! Okay, okay. Save the game. Hurry, save it! Good. Now hit escape. All right.
(Like a teacher making a very serious point)
This is where cheat codes don't help. Roger McAllen is your demolitions specialist. He grades super high
in defusing bombs and breaching doors. If you lose him now because of something stupid like forgetting the heavy uniform, then later in the game when you're outside another rigged door where the tangos are holding hostages...

BRENT:
Does the phrase "up shit creek" ring a bell?

JARED:
Details, man. Its a game of details.

JASON:
That was so real.

BRENT:
Yeah. That's the high you get.

JASON:
I could actually sense the tangos on the other side of the door. I could sense the fear in the hostages. The graphics, the effects are just way out there.

JARED:
You get hooked. Cheat codes are there to get you through the game. Get you from A to Z. But that's not the point.

BRENT:
The point is, to experience the high inside the game.

JASON:
I read some gamers confuse the high inside with the high outside.

BRENT:
Some gamers are pretty intense. Some gamers push the envelope. Some gamers take it to the next level.

JASON:
I heard Little Jimmy...

BRENT:
Whoa! And you said I got Little Jimmy on the brain.

JASON:
Some people say Little Jimmy thought the kids he shot were tangos. That he thought he was inside a game.

JARED:
Now that's just the sort of thing some people would say. Blame it all on gamers.

BRENT:
I don't know about gamers, but Steven Meinke said Little Jimmy had a list.

JASON:
Yeah? A list?

JARED:
I didn't hear that. What I heard was, he told certain people they were in violation.

BRENT:
Yeah, I heard that too. He'd tell them the reason. For example. He told Barbara Alpert.

JASON:
What did she say?

BRENT:
She said she'd kick his ass. But then he went told other people she was in violation.

JASON:
Violation of what? What'd she do?

BRENT:
He said her tits were too big. He said she had a tit violation.

JARED:
I heard he told thirty people.

BRENT:
I heard at least thirty. He said all kinds of crazy stuff. But if they got pissed, or cried, he told them he was just joking.

JARED:
Everyone called him a clown. But he wasn't even a good clown. You know, there was nothing he was good at. Even gaming. Little Jimmy was mediocre.

BRENT:
Less than mediocre.

JARED:
Exactly. I can't recall him actually ever winning.

BRENT:
I never heard he did.

JARED:
I don't believe there ever was a list. If there's a list, that means you're planning stuff.

BRENT:
Little Jimmy was spur of the moment.

JARED:
Strictly spur. Meinke made that up. Probably to get his name in the paper.

(Silence. Sound of JASON's fingers on the keyboard. Then...)

JASON:
I'd have a list.

BRENT:
Yeah?

JASON:
I mean if I was going to take a gun, I'd have a list.

BRENT:
I think I'd have a list, too

JARED:
It wouldn't be efficient otherwise. Would it?

BRENT:
Little Jimmy just stood there and, you know, shot 'em in the bookbag. Shot whoever walked by. That's not efficient. I mean c'mon! You gotta do better than that! I mean, if I was going to kill some people at school, I know I could do better than that.

JARED:
So who'd be first on your list, Jason?

JASON:
Big G.

JARED:
Gonella?

JASON:
He never brushes his teeth. And he wears those geeky flip-flops. His toes gross me out.

JARED:
He'd be up there on my list, too.

BRENT:
Would you tell him?

JASON:
No. Hell no.

JARED:
Little Jimmy was an idiot for telling people. Who'd be on your list, Brent?

(BRENT stops tossing the tennis ball.
Thinks for a moment. Then...)


BRENT:
Uh. Jeffrey Alioto, Maureen Davison, Kitty Sue Firr.

JARED:
Jeffrey, yeah. Ditto, Kitty Sue. Maureen, I like.

BRENT:
Then Maureen's off the list. Saved from a painful death by Jared Souza.

JASON:
What a guy!
(Sound of garage door)
My mom's home.

JARED:
Want us to leave?

JASON:
No. Stay. I told her some friends were coming by with a video game.

BRENT:
Cool. Then we'll stay

JARED:
(From over JASON's shoulder)
Okay. Advance the Bogart team. Use the Heartbeat sensor before you enter the room. When we blow the door, have the Chavez and Santiago teams crash the room. We spray the room left and right. Dont forget. Left. Then right. Straight ahead and you kill the hostages. Got that?

(JASON nods as music swells, drowning out sound. Blackout)

The End





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3 comments:

Lajuana said...

You write very well.

playwrighter said...

Thanks Lajuana, but you're probably wrong.

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