Essay by

The Here & Now Project

Locked Out

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 United States. These plays focus on dramatizing where these playwrights are and what’s happening there now.

THE TIME: The present, early evening.

THE PLACE: Front door of a neighborhood house.

GRACE, forty-something career woman, stands in front of a house, grocery bags at her feet. She tries the key but it doesn’t work. She tries to open the door; it doesn’t work. She pulls out her cell phone.

GRACE
Hi. I’m locked out of my house and I was wondering if you could send a—(pause) 11-623 Kaiapo Street. (Pause) Well, I know it’s not my house but the landlords are on vacation and…

Pierced and tattooed local boy, DANNY, skates by on his skateboard. She notices nervously.

GRACE
Look, here’s the deal. I really, really don’t want nighttime to catch me alone with these people, so if you could hurry, I’d appreciate it…thanks.

She hangs up.

GRACE
Like anybody “hurries” here.

Another thunder clap, she looks up at the sky. DANNY comes by again, this time he stops. She freezes.

DANNY
Howzit.

GRACE
(Throws her hands up) Don’t hurt me.

DANNY
Huh?

GRACE kicks her purse over to him.

GRACE
I only have $20, but you can have it.

DANNY
You look like you’re locked out.

GRACE
Oh. Well, yeah.

DANNY
You’ve been here for six months and didn’t have a spare made?

Strange look from GRACE.

DANNY
My cousin was on the crew that moved you in. That’s how I know. Hey, my uncle’s a retired locksmith. He’s, like, two blocks away. He’ll pop your lock, no problem.

GRACE
Even though it’s not my house?

DANNY
I’ll tell him you’re good people.

GRACE
You don’t even know me. I could be a robber.

DANNY
(Nods to the grocery bags) You always break in and cook ‘em dinner? Dude, come rob me and my roommates.

Thunder claps again. GRACE covers her head instinctively.

DANNY
Shoots. Here, take this.

He takes off his hoodie, hands it to her. She reluctantly puts it on.

DANNY
(Into phone) Eh, you busy, brah? Got one neighbor lady fo’ locked outta da kine. Yah. Yah. Okay.

He hangs up.

GRACE
Was that English?

DANNY
He’s on his way.

They wait just long enough to be uncomfortable before KEOLA, older local man, limps up.

DANNY
Finally! You on Hawaiian Time or wot?

KEOLA dismisses him with a wave.

KEOLA
You Grace? I’m Uncle Keola. Storm follow you from DC or wot?

GRACE
How’d you know I was from Washington?

KEOLA
I get your mail sometimes. Capital Careers, DC Woman. Then, sometimes these little cardboard boxes. Brown paper, blank with no return address. Man, I drop one one time and that buggah go like… (Makes obnoxious vibrating noises) Scared me so bad.

GRACE
(Overlapping) Yes, thank you.

KEOLA
Anyway, whasdascoops? Fo’ what you call me from American Idol?

GRACE
What’s the… I’m sorry, what?

DANNY
Uncle! You know she cannah talk da kine.

KEOLA
(Scoffs)  “Uncle, she cannah…” Eh, no act, brah. You not too big fo’ lickens! (He laughs, to GRACE) College make his head go whoosh! (Motions like his head is inflating) Try move, college boy.

DANNY moves out of the way as KEOLA turns his attention to the lock.

GRACE
You’re in college?

DANNY
Senior at HPU. Graduating this year, fingers crossed.

KEOLA
Listen at him, “senior.” Pre-med. Tell it all.

DANNY
Okay, yeah. Pre-med.

GRACE
Wow. I would’ve never guess. I mean, you always seemed so...young to me.

Sounds of lock clicking open.

KEOLA
(Proud) Done!

GRACE
That was quick.

KEOLA
Yup. Local kine style. No tools required. Plus, the lock was junk. Walmart cheap.

GRACE
I really appreciate it, Keola.

KEOLA
Hey, you know one of your taillights is out, too? I can fix it, no problem.

GRACE
Really?

DANNY
Yeah, but be careful. She only has twenty bucks.

End of Play.

Playwright’s Note:
The thing I most admire about Kailua is that it’s a community of folks quietly walking the walk. Our recycling center does almost as much business as neighboring McDonald’s. Farmer’s markets, bicycles, and even a Free Store are a way of life. What’s more, Kailua neighbors are—wait for it—neighborly. They know your kids’ names, remember your birthday, and retrieve your rubbish bin from the curb. This transplanted urbanite dismissed it as “being all up in my business.” Locals simply called it Aloha. In Kailua, everyone knows your name and, unless you make a conscious decision to stay “locked out,” you may find yourself absorbing a little Aloha yourself.

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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.

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As someone who's lived in urban, suburban, and rural environments, and has experienced the cultural and geographical differences related to each one, I can relate to Ms. Poiro's play. Great work! Great insight!