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THIRTY MINUTES TO CHARLIE

a play in one-act
by Nick Zagone

The following one-act play is reprinted here with the author's permission. Inquiries concerning all rights, including
amateur and professional performing rights, should be directed to the author at: zagonenick@icloud.com

CHARACTERS

REID - a fast Public Relations man, 30’s


KLINE - a fellow PR man, late 20’s
DARLENE - a slow hospital assistant
NURSE - a slow large admitting nurse

SETTING

The waiting area of a hospital Emergency Room in Las Vegas. There are some plastic chairs bolted to the floor. A couple
of cubicles for admitting nurses. A door to the ER. A pay phone. A functional clock that says 7:30 am. Time September
11th, 2001 This play takes place in real time. At the end of the play the clock on the wall should read no later than 8:05
am.

[It’s quiet in the ER until the clock hits 7:30am. The sound of a door opening and crashing shut. Shouts of chaos. Reid and
Kline run into the hospital waiting room. Reid is holding a wet towel full of half-melted ice on his head. The top of his
head has been cut. His shirt has a large red stain on it.]

KLINE: It’s 7:30, that’s thirty minutes...

REID: Thirty minutes Kline, thirty minutes, hurry up!

[Reid sits down as Kline runs and skids to a stop calling behind the cubicle walls.]

KLINE: Excuse me! Excuse me, hello! I gotta head wound here!

[The voice of Darlene is heard within.]

DARLENE: Hello?

KLINE: I got a bleeding head wound out here! Can we get some help? (A beat.) Hello!?

DARLENE: (within) Be right with you.

KLINE: Be right with you?

REID: Kline? What’d they say!

KLINE: Be right with you. Said they’d be right with us!

REID: We got thirty minutes Kline!

KLINE: (calling again) Hey, we need somebody right away!

REID: There’s no one even here!


DARLENE: (within) Be right with you sir.

KLINE: We just need some stitches! Some stitches is all!

REID: Kline! No! Don’t tell ‘em that!

KLINE: Why not?

REID: Then they’ll think it’s not an emergency! Jesus Christ, look at my shirt! This damn ice- is there an ice pack back
there? Do you see an ice pack?

KLINE: Hey can I get an ice pack back here?! This is an emergency!

[Darlene enters as Kline attempts to go back.]

DARLENE: You’re not allowed back here sir.

KLINE: I know but--

DARLENE: Not without a mask. Do you have a mask?

KLINE: Yes, no, I know that but—

DARLENE: Well you can’t go back here without a mask.

REID: (holding his head in pain) Kline!

DARLENE: What’s going on here?

KLINE: We got a head-wound over here and we only got 29 minutes!

DARLENE: Twenty-nine minutes?

REID: I cut my head nurse and we need some prompt attention.

DARLENE: Oh you do?

KLINE: Is this an ER or what?

DARLENE: Well yes it is sir, but this is the payment desk. You want the admitting nurse at the admitting desk.

KLINE: Admitting nurse...?

REID: Kline!

DARLENE: The admitting nurse is at the other desk to your left.

REID: There’s no one over there!

DARLENE: You’ll just have to yell through the door, they’ll be there soon enough.

REID: Can’t YOU yell through the door?


DARLENE: (exiting) No.

REID: Can I at least get an icepack from you? Hey!

KLINE: Where’d she go?

REID: You just go yell through the door like she said Kline...

[Kline runs to the door yelling. Reid approaches the payment desk.]

REID: Hey, are you back there? I asked for an icepack! I know you can hear me!

DARLENE: (within) I’m not allowed to prescribe anything until you see the admitting nurse.

REID: Prescribe? It’s an icepack! Kline! Just go back there! [Kline exits.] Goddamn, it’s not like you’re busy-- What’s going
on around here?

DARLENE: (entering again) What’s going on?! (A beat as they have a stare-off. She softens.) All right, here, let me see it.

REID: Please! Thank you. (Darlene picks up the towel and looks at the top of Reid’s head.) Careful.

DARLENE: Ooh. Yea, you’re probably going to need some stitches.

REID: Dammit. How long will it take?

DARLENE: Depends. Why?

REID: We have a very important meeting in... (looks at clock) Jesus, 26 minutes. This buyer is very prompt, so we need to
get those stitches right away.

DARLENE: (patronizing) You with the big convention? Big important meeting? Must seem pretty mediocre now.

REID: Look, can you just help me please.

DARLENE: I don’t know, pretty big gash, looks like you gonna need at least five. What did you do?

REID: I hit it obviously.

DARLENE: Obviously, on what?

REID: On something sharp-- can you please get me a nurse who knows what she’s doing?

[Kline bursts through the door, followed by a large slow nurse.]

KLINE: Reid! Reid, I got the nurse! Look, a nurse!

REID: I hope you’re a quick stitcher!

KLINE: We need another icepack too; can you get him an icepack?

NURSE: Well, let’s see what we got here first. (Nurse looks close at Reid’s head.) Hmm. Well it looks like you hit your
head. And good. How did you do this?
REID: I hit it. Does it matter?

NURSE: It’s policy.

REID: It was an accident. I hit it on a door. A car door-- Look, I have a very important meeting with a client in-- Kline!
Time!

KLINE: 25 minutes!

NURSE: (still looking) Well now hold on here... wait... yes, I believe you’re going to need some stitches.

REID: Well how ‘bout that? I’m officially diagnosed, now let’s break out that needle and thread huh?

NURSE: Hope you don’t mind losing some hair first! Ha! (She laughs.)

REID: What?

NURSE: We’re going to have to shave around the cut of course...

REID: Dammit, do you have to?

NURSE: Well you could bleed to death. Ha! (She laughs again.)

REID: You don’t understand, I can’t be lookin’ like a freak.

KLINE: We have probably the biggest meeting of our lives this morning.

NURSE: Well between this and New York, you’ll have quite a story to tell your children now won’t you?

REID: Shit. (to Kline) Time?

KLINE: 24.

REID: All right! Jesus! Let’s do this.

NURSE: Fine. You got insurance?

REID: Yes.

NURSE: Well you give your information to Darlene here and then we’ll take ya back.

REID: I gotta give it to her now?

NURSE: Yes. Now. (Pats him on shoulder) You’ll live.

KLINE: Wow, Reid, look at your shirt...

NURSE: Ooh. Yea, that’s ruined.

REID: Can I get an icepack now please?

NURSE: Look at it this way, could always be worse.


REID: Yea? How could it be worse? Kline, here take my phone and call Charley.

NURSE: (To Darlene) They don’t know.

[DARLENE shakes her head, as Reid gives Kline his cell phone.]

REID: Find the number, should be programmed.

NURSE: I’ll be right back.

DARLENE: Okay sir, if you can move over here to my terminal now I’ll get your insurance information.

REID: Will this take long?

DARLENE: Oh, it shouldn’t take but a moment.

REID: (to Kline) You got the number there? You calling?

KLINE: Yea!

REID: What time we got?

KLINE: 22 minutes. What should I tell Charlie?

REID: Tell him we’re not going to make it to Caesar’s in time; we’re going to be late, if we let him know we’ll be fine... (to
Darlene) Here’s my insurance card...

KLINE: (pressing buttons on phone) Reid?

REID: What?

KLINE: You got another battery?

REID: Shit. Is it dead?

KLINE: Yea.

REID: Shit.

KLINE: You got the plug? I could plug it in!

REID: It’s at the hotel. (to Darlene) Can we use your phone?

DARLENE: Are you kidding? Especially not today. Pay phone’s right over there.

REID: Yea, like it’s so busy-- Thanks a lot. All right Kline, you got a quarter?

KLINE: A quarter?

REID: A quarter! A quarter for the pay phone!

KLINE: No. Lost ‘em all in the slots.


REID: Me neither. (pulling out wallet) Jesus, I don’t even have a dollar.

KLINE: A dollar?

REID: A dollar! A dollar! To get change! For God’s sake Kline! Stay frosty here I need you!

KLINE: I got a dollar!

REID: I’m sorry Miss, but do you have change--

DARLENE: Well... okay, let me check my purse.

[She gets up to leave.]

REID: That would be life saving--Where are you going!?

DARLENE: My purse is in back.

[She exits.]

REID: Dammit. (to Kline) Now you know what you’re going to say to Charlie?

KLINE: Reid, you lied to that nurse.

REID: I know it. What was I supposed to do?

KLINE: Well I hope we don’t--

REID: Tell ‘em a hooker hit me in the head with a limo door? Am I supposed to tell ‘em that?

KLINE: You think she’ll go the cops?

REID: Who?

KLINE: The hooker!

REID: Think about it. She’s a hooker Kline!

KLINE: You should have gave her more money.

REID: That wasn’t it. She was upset about something this morning. What is wrong with everybody today?

KLINE: What are you going to tell Janice?

REID: We’ll have to get our stories straight. I hit it getting out of a cab. All right?

KLINE: Boy if she found out. Janice’s got her money invested in this firm too. This wasn’t wise Reid.

REID: We’re not going to have a firm at all if we don’t meet with Charlie in-- what’s the time?

KLINE: 20 minutes.

REID: Hey Darlene! My world’s coming to an end out here!


[Darlene is entering now holding a quarter from an extended hand.]

DARLENE: I only got one.

REID: We’ll take it. Here’s a dollar.

DARLENE: Oh that’s all right. As long as I can save someone’s world.

REID: We insist. It’s my good deed for today. (takes quarter and gives it to Kline) Here Kline, hurry, call Charlie’s cell, you
got his card?

KLINE: Got it--

[Kline immediately exits running, right past the pay phone.]

REID: Where are you going? Kline! The payphone’s right there! (Kline runs back to the payphone and picks it up. Reid
now turns to Darlene.) Now you got everything you need there?

[Darlene is typing a bit slow on the computer, she’s still learning.]

DARLENE: I’m sorry Mr. Reid; your insurance doesn’t come up.

REID: Doesn’t come up? Doesn’t come up. What’s that mean “doesn’t come up?”

DARLENE: (while typing) It’s possibly an agency we don’t subscribe to on our database. I guess. I’ve never seen this
before-- here, let me try this. It may be because of the events today, it’s just crazy this morning. Here this might work...

REID: Yea, crazy, my head is killing me.

DARLENE: Right. Here... let me try one more thing. Nope. Nothing there.

REID: Forget it. Forget it all right? You take a credit card?

DARLENE: Let me try one more window.

REID: Excuse my French Darlene, but fuck the window all right? Here’s my VISA, VISA’s my insurance now, how ‘bout
that?

DARLENE All right. That’ll work I suppose, but we charge by the stitch so you’ll have to come back to my desk when
you’re through, but that won’t take long, and then there’s medication...

REID: Right, right.

DARLENE: Those stitches are going to be painful for sure.

REID: Can I get the medication here?

DARLENE: Not with me.

REID: I mean, is there a pharmacy close by?

DARLENE: Sure, it’s just up on the 49th floor all the way down the end of the hall.
REID: Good god.

DARLENE: And the elevator’s broke so you’ll have to take the stairs.

REID: Of course, of course. Why is God testing me today!

DARLENE: You really don’t know what’s going on today do you.

REID: What?

[Kline approaches Reid.]

KLINE: Reid.

REID: (to Darlene) Excuse me. (to Kline) Didja get him?

KLINE: No.

REID: What happened?

KLINE: His cell phone must be off.

REID: Didja leave a message.

KLINE: It wouldn’t let me his box must be full.

REID: Didja try him at his hotel?

KLINE: No.

REID: Kline!

KLINE: No quarters!

[They look to Darlene.]

DARLENE: You cleaned me out boys.

REID Shit.

[Reid searches his wallet.]

DARLENE: All in all boys, your problems today are pretty mediocre.

REID: We are not mediocre Darlene, last time I checked our founding fathers said we were all created equal... (Finds
something) Ah ha! A calling card! Here Kline use this. How’s that for mediocre Miss? What time is it?

KLINE: 16 minutes.

REID: Charlie’s got to be on his way, call the restaurant and let him know we’re gonna be late--

KLINE: What’s the number?


REID: I don’t know! Look it up in the phone book! (Kline runs to the phone again. Reid turns to Darlene.) Now where
were we?

[During the following a young couple enters and crosses to the infirmary followed by a few more people. One young
woman is crying. Darlene waves them through.]

KLINE: Reid!

REID: What?!

KLINE: There’s no phone book!

REID: Oh hell. (to Darlene) Do you have a phone book?

DARLENE: Let me look in back.

REID: Forget it. (to Kline) Just call information.

KLINE: What number’s that?

REID: I don’t know. Just use the card and call the old number uh... 555-1212.

KLINE: 555-1212?

REID: 555-1212. Wait! (to Darlene) What’s the area code here?

DARLENE: 702.

REID: 702? (to Kline) 702!

KLINE: What’s that?

REID: The area code Kline! 702 555-1212. (Kline dials. Reid has been watching the people go through the doors and exit.)
What’s all that about?

DARLENE: What?

REID: What’s wrong with them?

DARLENE: Oh. They’re giving blood.

REID: Giving blood? And you just waved them ahead of us without even batting an eye?

DARLENE: They called before hand.

REID: So if we would have called before hand, would we have gotten as good of service?

DARLENE: (crossing her arms) On any other day? Probably. But with your attitude I don’t know why.

REID: Well thank god those people got to give their blood ahead of us. Because I wouldn’t want to interrupt that.
Wouldn’t want my gushing SKULL to impede their bloodletting!!
KLINE: Reid!

REID: What Kline!

KLINE: It says I need a pin number!

REID: A pin number?

KLINE: Yea, a pin number.

REID: Jesus Chr-- oh! It’s in my briefcase!

KLINE: Briefcase?

REID: In the rental! How much time!?

KLINE: 14!

REID: Run! Run! Run!

[Kline exits running.]

DARLENE: Why are you boys in such a hurry, I’m sure your meeting’s going to be cancelled.

REID: Oh no. Cancelled? Not Charlie Rathbun.

[Kline enters running.]

KLINE: Reid!

REID: What is it?!

KLINE: Keys!

[Reid pulls keys out of his pocket.]

REID: Here Klein, for God’s sake! (Kline grabs keys and runs out. Reid turns back to Darlene.) This is like our biggest client
and I know he’s been shopping around other PR firms so we have to schmooze him big and especially not stand him up! I
need to get these stitches and get the hell out of here.

DARLENE: Sure you do. Well this is going to be interesting to watch.

REID: Why’s that?

DARLENE: Nothing. Well you’re all set here. You just have to check back in with the admitting nurse.

REID: Why didn’t you tell me? (Reid stands and stumbles to the infirmary door.) Nurse! Nurse!

NURSE: (within) Be right with you!

REID: No! No “right with you.” I have been bleeding in your waiting room for almost 20 minutes! I need medical
attention!
[Nurse enters slowly and threateningly.]

NURSE: Sir. Here’s your new icepack and gauze. As long as you keep that on your head you’re not bleeding.

REID: Oh yea? Look at me.

NURSE: That’s mostly water on your shirt and you know it. You’re on the list.

REID: This is medical attention?

NURSE: You’re on the list sir.

REID: I need stitches!

NURSE: (to Darlene) Does he know what’s going on yet? (Darlene shakes her head, to Reid) Believe me honey, you don’t
know it yet, but today your little cut is an emergency of extremely mediocre proportions.

REID: Mediocre?

NURSE: In fact, now that I think about it, even before today... EVERY DAY your little cut would be pretty mediocre. So
don’t hassle it. Have a seat. You’re on the list.

REID: Did you say mediocre?

NURSE: Did I stutter?

REID: I’m not mediocre. Nobody is mediocre.

NURSE: Me-di-o-cre.

[Nurse exits. Reid is speechless. Kline enters with Reid’s briefcase.]

KLINE: Reid! Here’s your briefcase!

REID: Fine. Give it to me. How much time?

KLINE: 11 minutes.

[Reid begins opening the briefcase and fumbling through papers.]

DARLENE: Really. How prompt can this fella be? I have a feeling he might be held up today.

REID: You have no idea Darlene. This man can be very prompt. This man is always on time and expects it from others.
One time, because my little boy was ill, I was one minute late for a presentation and he told me to make another
appointment with his secretary. But... As you can see from our Nurse here, some people don’t care what’s happening in
other people’s lives or how important things are to them. And nothing stops them.

DARLENE: The man’s never late? I bet he will be today.

REID: No he won’t. The world could come to an end. Haven’t you realized? People are evil Darlene.

DARLENE: More than you know.


REID: Give me a hand here Kline. Look in the pockets.

[Kline begins looking through the pockets of the briefcase.]

KLINE: Is this it?

REID: There it is! There’s the pin number...

KLINE: 1819?

REID: Well why don’t you just announce it over the intercom!?

KLINE: What?

REID: Go ahead! Go! Go! Go! Dial! (Kline runs to the phone. Reid sits and puts his head in his hands. A silent beat.) Ouch.
My head…

[Another beat.]

DARLENE: I’m sorry.

REID: What?

DARLENE: I said I’m sorry.

REID: Oh. (sincerely) Thanks. I appreciate it.

KLINE: (On phone) Yes I need the number for... (to Reid) What was the restaurant we’re supposed to meet him?

REID: The restaurant in Caesar’s there um...

KLINE: (into phone) The restaurant in Caesar’s Palace. (a pause, then to Reid) She says there’s a lot of restaurants in
Caesars.

REID: I can’t remember. It’s the Italian one.

KLINE: (into phone) The Italian one... (to Reid) She says they’re all Italian, it’s Caesar’s Palace. (into phone) What? (to
Reid) She can give us the number for Caesar’s Palace.

REID: That’s fine. Hurry!

KLINE: We’ll take it. (searching pockets, then to Reid) Pen! Pen!

REID: Shit!

DARLENE: I got one!

[Darlene throws pen to Reid who throws it to Kline. Kline writes on the wall.]

KLINE: Got it! (hangs up, picks up, dials, then to Reid) I forgot the pin!

REID: 1819!
KLINE: (dials, pause) Yes I’m looking for the number for the Italian Restaurant in Caesar’s Palace...

REID: The nice one!

KLINE: The nice one. (pause) That’s it! Great. (writes) Hold on... my pen ran out. (to Reid) Pen! Pen!

DARLENE: You got mine!

REID: Just call it out!

KLINE: 516.

REID: 516.

KLINE: 4149.

REID: 4149.

KLINE: 516-4149.

REID: 516-4149. Got it!

KLINE: (into phone) Thank you! (hangs up, dials)

REID: 516-4149. 516-4149.

KLINE: What’s the pin. I forgot the pin!

DARLENE: 1819!

REID: Thanks.

DARLENE: I’d be changing that if I were you.

KLINE: It’s ringing!

REID: Yes!

[A beat.]

KLINE: Still ringing.

DARLENE: I can’t imagine it being busy.

REID: Time! Time!

KLINE: One minute to eight!

REID: Cross your fingers Darlene! I think we’re gonna make it!

KLINE: (into phone) Yes! Yes! Thank you. We had reservations for-- no! No Wait!

[A beat.]
REID: What happened?

KLINE: They put me on hold.

[Reid is stunned. Kline is incredibly worried. They look at the clock. For the next minute Reid paces, Kline waits, and
Darlene looks on nervously. Reid is doing a slow burn. Then...]

KLINE: (into phone) Yes! We had reservations for eight o’clock and we’re going to be a little late, however there should
be a member of our party already there and I was wondering... What?... Yes the reservations were under Reid... What...?
An older gentleman? Gray hair, kind of distinguished? Yes, that’s his name Charley Rathbun; can I speak to him please?
Oh, he was there. He just... left.

[Reid, defeated, sits down.]

KLINE: (into phone) A message? (to Reid) He left a written message.

REID: Just have ‘em read it to you.

KLINE: Can you just read it for me please? It’s all right you can open it. (A beat.) Uh-huh. What happened in New York?
(A pause.) Okay. Well... thank you.

[Kline hangs up. A beat. He crosses to Reid. Reid looks up at him, then down at the floor.]

REID: I don’t want to know. I’ll just call him tomorrow.

KLINE: You should call your wife.

REID: What?

KLINE: I said... you should call Janice.

[A beat.]

REID: Kline? What’s going on? What did he say?

KLINE: He saw us. On The Strip. He saw you with the prostitute. He’s calling your wife... he’s calling Janice... promptly he
said. Promptly was the message. (A beat.) And the maître de said we should turn on the TV. Said there’s some
catastrophe in New York.

[Reid takes his briefcase and smashes it on the chairs. Darlene screams.]

REID: (quietly) Evil Darlene. Evil.

[Kline attempts to hand Reid his calling card.]

KLINE: Here’s your calling card.

[Reid smacks it away.]

REID: I’m not mediocre.

KLINE: I never said...


REID: I’m not mediocre!

[Reid begins kicking and hitting and pulling the chairs trying to destroy them. The Nurse enters and watches now. So do
some blood donators.]

REID: I’M NOT MEDIOCRE!

[Reid is unable to destroy the chairs no mater how hard he tries to pull them up. He finally collapses exhausted,
bleeding…]

[A beat.]

NURSE: Mr. Reid?

REID: How can I help you?

NURSE You’re next.

FADE TO BLACK

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