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The Here & Now Project

Do You Know Why I Stopped You?

Essay by

Every Friday this summer, The Here & Now Project will post a new short play, written by one of four playwrights selected from across the US. These plays focus on dramatizing where these playwrights are and what’s happening there now. This play is by Kay Poiro of Kailua, Hawaii.

The time- Midday on a weekday

The place- Kailua Road, Kailua Hawaii, in front of the elementary school. Hailey sits in her car, staring in the review mirror disbelievingly. She waves her hand out the window in a flagging motion. A police officer wanders up.

HAILEY Oh, thank God you stopped. Officer, that van-

HPD Howzit. You know why I stopped you, yeah?

HAILEY I thought it was because I flagged you down.

HPD You were going 38 in a 40.

HAILEY Oh. All right. At any rate, that old Aerostar van has been loitering at the curb for quite some time.

HPD That’s the elementary school right there. You’re in a school zone.

HAILEY And going two miles under the speed limit is endangering them how exactly?

HPD License and registration, please.

Hailey passes it through the window.

HPD (looks at the license, smirks) Maryland, huh?

HAILEY Yes. Born and raised. Officer, the guy in that van looks awfully suspicious.

HPD Cold in Maryland, yeah?

HAILEY I guess. A little.

HPD We have beaches here.

HAILEY And they’re very pretty, but I was wondering if you could...

HPD Hold tight. I’ll be right back.

He disappears to his car. Hailey looks out the window, eyes grow wide with disbelief.

HAILEY No freaking way!
(she strains to look in her review at the cop, she leans out the window) Hey, sir! Officer? Sir!
The cop saunters back up, hands her the license and registration back

HAILEY I think… (harsh whisper) I think the man in that van just sold that woman drugs.

HPD Which woman?

HAILEY The burnout wearing the beenie hat and leotard. The tweaker.

HPD Oh, that’s Guava Girl. She’s not tweaking.

HAILEY Really? Then why’s she been making out with that lamppost for three days?

HPD Eh, that’s that aloha spirit. She’s full of joy.

HAILEY She’s full of meth. And I think that man sold it to her.

HPD No, he didn’t.

HAILEY Officer, she walked right up to his window and he gave it to her. I even took down the license plate number. Here.
She tries to hand him the paper, he doesn’t look up

HPD (keeps writing ticket) Naw, that’s brudda Sam. He lives out of that van.

HAILEY He’s doing more than living out of it. Can’t you go check him out? I’d feel a lot safer if you did.

HPD (sighs) Look, lady, this ain’t Maryland. We can’t go dragging people in for being poor. We need that…that…whaddaya call it.

HAILEY Probable cause?

HPD Yeah. That. We can’t just say “Eh, bruh. Lemme scope your van right quick.” Not without no probable cause.

HAILEY Probable cause is a standard.

HPD Maybe in the states.

HAILEY This is a state!
HPD rips off the ticket, hands it to her. She looks at it, gasps

HAILEY Seriously? A $200 ticket?

HPD You drive a nice car. You can afford it.

HAILEY (overlapping) But what about the, you know… the “deal”?

HPD So, what? You an expert on drug deals?

HAILEY I’m from Baltimore.

HPD Look, Brudda Sam and Guava Girl are friends, okay? They’re just talking story. Giving well wishes.

HAILEY Well wishes wrapped in tiny foil packets? Well wishes for which she paid cash?

HPD You know you got a tail light out?

HAILEY You know three cars just ran that stop light?

HPD I got a friend, he does good work. Local boy. You should check him out.

HAILEY (gasps) Oh my god.

HPD What now.

HAILEY The guy in the van just pulled into the school parking lot. He’s parked right next to the cafeteria! Can he do that?

HPD (laughs) Sure, why not? Lady, you gotta calm down. This is Hawaii. It’s different here.

HAILEY Ain’t that the truth.

The cop walks away. In the background, the cop yells, “Eh, brudda Sam, howzit? Lemme look in your van right quick.” (pause) Ha! I’m just playing!” Soon after, the school bell rings and the playful sounds of children fill the air


Playwright’s Note: There’s a rumor that other states send their homeless to Hawaii because, among other reasons, they won’t freeze to death. In addition to the homeless, drugs are also a growing problem, even in small beach towns like mine. On a popular town street, drug-addled burnouts loiter in doorways. Residents of Kailua are so used to seeing these people that most days we don’t “see” them at all. Some lay under trees reading magazines. One dude actually plays a the MASH theme song on a flute. Nobody’s belligerent. Nobody begs. But every so often, a van pulls to the curb of the local school. Some burnouts wander to its blacked-out window where many of us suspect a lot more than pleasantries are exchanged. Complaints to the police are either dismissed as ravings from uptight mainlanders or brushed aside with the explanation that the burnouts are harmless. Cool beans. Maybe they wouldn’t mind being harmless away from an elementary school. But because we’re not a tourist destination, the police turn a blind eye. So, unless the situation starts hitting the state in the pocketbook, few of us believe anything will change.



Thoughts from the curator

A call to to playwrights from across the United States to bring to light stories representing the whole conversation happening in this country.

Here & Now Series


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I love the way that the police and the person interact and the social views of somewhere different, great piece of writing, would love to see it in a stage play in a deep more open view as well so that all that don't know about these things, can learn about life even more from others point of view in other lands and cultures, keep up the good work, and I would love to see more from this writer, great stuff, and thanks

Loved it! Great combination of both general and regional humor with an over-arching social commentary. Maybe the HPD will engage in a little self assessment if they read this. Very well done!!

Loved this! I like the way the cop brushes off Hailey like she's over exaggerating lol! That's crazy that that's how it really is though...