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Almost Fiction: One-act screenplay

By Sam Jones


Characters: Man (in his late 40s): Boy (12 years old): The Other Boy (12 years old).

Location: A converted gas station/motorcycle repair shop on the edge of a small town.

Time: Anytime.

Scene 1: <The Boy is pushing his bicycle with a flat tire past the shop. He stops at the door and asks the Man if he can use the air hose.>

Boy: “Mister, I’ve got a flat; can I use your air hose?”

Man: “Do you know how to work it?”

Boy: “Yes, of course.”

Man: “OK, the hose is over there.”

<The Boy leans his bicycle up against the outside wall of the shop, comes in and drags the air hose out to the bike and tries to attach it to the flat tire. There are a lot of escaping air sounds coming from the tire. The Man comes over and notices that the Boy doesn’t have the nozzle attached correctly. He explains how to do it right. The tire inflates for a minute and then again goes flat.>

Man: “Kid, you have a puncture. You’ll have to patch the tube. Do you know how to do that?”

Boy: “Yes, I know how.”

Man: “Like you knew how to inflate the tire?” (The Boy says nothing but looks sheepish.) “It’s OK. Roll your bike over here and I’ll teach you how to pull the wheel and patch the tire.”

<The Man shows the Boy how to turn the bike over and balance it on its seat and handlebars, how to unloosen the axle nuts and remove the wheel from the front forks. Using a trash can as a tool to hold the wheel the Man then demonstrates how to remove the tube from the tire. Filling the tube with air and submerging it in a bucket of water the bubbles show the Boy where the hole is.>

Man: “Now we know where to patch the tube. Blow the tube dry and take it over to the work bench. On the shelf you will find a patch kit and in that drawer there is some sandpaper. When the tube is dry, scuff up the area all around the hole and follow the directions on the box of the patch kit. You’re on your own. I have work to do.” (The Man goes back to the valve job he was grinding.)

<The Boy was surprised that the Man just gave him directions and let him do the job himself. No one had ever done that before. He does exactly what the Man says, dries the tube, finds the patch kit, the sandpaper and starts scuffing up the area around the hole.>

Man: (Without looking up from his valve job), “I know you are using the coarse grit sandpaper to get a good scuff.”

Boy: “Yes I am.” (He isn’t but changes from the fine grit he is trying.)

<After an hour the patch is complete. The Boy inflates the tube, retries it in the bucket of water and after another hour (with a little help from the Man), figures out how to get the tube back into the tire and the wheel on the bike.>

Man: “Do you know how much air pressure it takes to inflate the tires properly?” (The Man waits for an answer that doesn’t come.) “On the outside of the tire it says how many pounds.” (The Man hands the Boy an air gauge that looks like a pencil and has a pocket clip like a pen.)

<After a bit of experimenting the Boy finally inflates the tires to the correct air pressure.>

Boy: (Handing the air gauge back to the Man), “Thanks for the help. I think the patch will hold.”

Man: “Does the chain keep falling off?”

Boy: “Yes, it does; how did you know?”

Man: “The rear wheel isn’t in the frame right. Hasn’t anyone showed you how to do any of this?”

Boy: (Starts to lie again but doesn’t.) “No.” (There is defiance in his answer.)

Man: “Relax. Tomorrow, stop on your way home from school and I’ll show you how to do some maintenance on your bike and set it up right.”

<The Man hands the Boy back the air gauge and tells him to keep it. The Boy smiles, holds it like a treasure, says thanks again and waves goodbye. The Man doesn’t hear him or see the wave. He is already back to work installing the valves into a motorcycle head.>

Scene 2: <Same workshop, a year later. The air gauge has found a permanent home in the Boy’s left front shirt pocket. The Boy has been stopping at the shop two or three time a week on his way home from school. The Man gives him a few dollars for sweeping up and allows him to keep the money from the cans and bottles he takes to the recycler. On occasion the Boy becomes an extra set of hands to help the Man, and when appropriate he gives the Boy a few bonus dollars.

Man: (While paying the Boy for some work), “So what are you going to do with all your loot?”

Boy: “There is just my Mom and me and her birthday is coming up. I thought I’d buy her a new dress.”

Man: (Impressed that the Boy was thinking of someone other than himself), “Let me give you a word of advice. Don’t make it a surprise with your choice. Tell her she can choose a dress and you’ll pay for it. That way she gets the one she wants and you can spend the day together. (The Man includes a few extra dollars when paying the Boy. The Boy notices and thinking the Man has made a mistake, hands the money back.) “No, you keep that. That’s to buy your mother lunch on your shopping date.”

<The Boy was grateful and smiled. Before he left for home the Man notices that the Boy takes a couple of tools out of the tool box and walks to the door. One of the Boy’s friends is standing with his bike. The Boy turns over The Other Boy’s bike, balancing it on the handlebars and seat. Taking the tools he adjusts the chain. The Man smiles.>


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