The Short Goodbye (noir)

Here's the first in a series of one-scene scripts. Same scenario, different genre. All will become clear. This one is film noir. Black and white, of course.

Ext – Evening. The street in a town business district, somewhere. Anywhere. The pavement is deserted, it’s stopped raining but no-one wants to be out tonight. The stone on the buildings is shiny from the rain, reflecting the sodium lamps. An overflow spills on to the street splashing noisily. In the distance, I approach, collar up high to shield against the cold, had pulled down to throw the face into shadow, cigarette held in pursed lips them removed to allow long, slow exhalations. Stilettos clicking on the pavement. It takes some time to reach The Office.

The Office is faded glory, even though it’s only two years old. The sign is unreadable, covered with graffiti and wads of gum. The buzzer is from another age, press it and there’s a terse command flashing ‘wait’. I press. After a minute it bids ‘enter’

Int – down the long corridor, echo of the miserable pavement outside. Harsh striplights throw harsher shadows.  One door is ajar, a voice chatters on a cellphone. It’s Him. I stand outside, waiting for him to finish, his shadow moves under the door. He hangs up and calls me in.

Int – His office. Stark, unimaginative. Photo of family. Photo of young man. Computer screen alive with a million emails. I’ve been here many times. This will be the last. Camera observes from behind my shoulder, detached. Like me.

Him     Sit down, won’t you?

Me       No thanks, you know I’m not staying

There’s tension, but both pretend it’s not there. He affects a cough. I smile, but not for long.

Him     How’ve you been?

I light another cigarette. Savour the smoke as it gives me boldness. New words. I know he doesn’t smoke and hates it. I laugh to myself.

Me       You know how I’ve been. I’ve been through hell.


Me       But this hell isn’t forever. Thank God.

He walks over to his desk and glances at the screen. He seems distant. The camera spots an envelope. It gets closer – my name is there. He picks it up and hands it to me

Him     This is goodbye, then.

Me       Yes. Yes it is.

Him     Thank you….

Me       THANK you? Are you taking the piss? THANK you? For WHAT? For getting you out of a hole? For taking the rap?

Him     It’s better this way

Me       Better for who? I’m the best. You know that. You just couldn’t take it.

He’s agitated. He never could take conflict. A corporate clone.

Him     Just go

Me       Oh yes, I will. But remember this. I’m the best you’ll never have.

I don’t shake hands. I don’t wait for the goodbye. I turn to face the camera, walk past, leaving the door open. He returns to his emails. He’ll be there all night.

Int – the long corridor

Ext – I exit on to the street. I turn to stub out the cigarette in the office sign. Someone’s been there before me. I smile, go back down the street the way I came. The camera watches


Today's lovely thing

Writing. Just for the fun of it.

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