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The Incident Last Tusday: a play

The Incident Last Tuesday




A high school class room is void of students. A clock on the wall reads 2:59. The clock strikes 3:00 accompanied by an echoing school bell. 


Hadley Michaelson, a 15 year old wearing a backpack, enters and carefully selects a seat. She pulls out a notebook and pen and sits quietly. After a few moments she puts the notebook away and stares ahead.


A moment later, Peter Ditzel, a lanky kid who hasn’t grown into his limbs, enters. Surprised to see Hadley, he pauses before selecting a seat and sitting down. The two sit in silence and pretend not to notice one another. 


Darren Williams, a cocky, wiry kid with shaggy hair enters without a backpack but carrying a swagger. He takes in the room and moves a desk from one row to another before sitting down. The sudden re-arrangement startles Hadley and Peter. Darren gives a sly smile.


The three sit in silence. Amber Mitchell, an attractive blonde in hip clothes enters with a presence her peers notice and a body language that says she wishes she were somewhere else. She sits in a chair and slouches.


No one says a word. The foursome sits in silence consumed by their individual thoughts until...


Darren: long are we s’posed to wait?


No one answers.


Darren: I mean, is it like class? Do we give it like five minutes? Or ten? Or what?


Amber rolls her eyes. Hadley stares straight ahead.


Peter: I think...I think we’re supposed to just...wait.


Darren: Yeah, but for how long? Like if 15 minutes goes by and no one shows up, do we just sit here? And wait? 


Peter: I think-uh...I think we’re just supposed to...wait.


Darren: Yeah, well you can wait all you want. In ten minutes I’m bouncing. You can tell Cardone I showed.


Peter: (concerned) Dr. Cardone? Dr. Cardone is-


Darren: What do you think? You know why we’re here? You know what this is?


Amber: (snappy) Will you just shut up!


Peter straightens. Darren grins.


Darren: Well I guess you know why we’re here. (to Hadley) What about you, scholarship girl? You  know the haps here?


Amber: Grow up.


Darren: We are in the presence of a National Merit Scholar. One of the finest young minds in the US of A, right here with the rest of us rest degenerates.


Amber: Speak for yourself.


Darren: Well I’m not gonna waste any good words on you.


Amber: (to Hadley) Ignore him and he’ll go away.


Hadley barely makes eye contact. 


Darren: (to Amber) Yeah, I’ll go away. Ten more minutes if no one shows, I’ll go away. (to Hadley) So how ‘bout it? You know why we’re here?


Amber: Leave her alone. 


Darren: Uh, excuse me? I think she can speak for herself and I think I have a right to know about who-


The door opens.  Dr. Cardone, a composed woman in her late 50’s, enters with the command of a career educator. The students immediately freeze upon her entrance.


Dr. Cardone: Good afternoon boys and girls. 




Dr. Cardone makes her way to the front of the room and places a small stack of file folders on the desk, then turns around to address the students who straighten as she faces them. Holding a folder, Dr. Cardone looks at each of her subjects for several beats.


Dr. Cardone: Hadley Michaelson.


Hadley: (sheepish) Present.


Dr. Cardone: Darren Williams.


Darren sits back in his chair. 


Dr. Cardone: Darren Williams.


Darren: (cocky) Yeah.


Dr. Cardone looks at Darren with stern eyes. She holds on him as he quickly looks at the floor.


Darren: (broken) Here.


 Dr. Cardone: Young man, if I were in your seat and in your position I’d sit up straight, mind your manners and look at an adult when you speak to her. Are we clear on that?


Darren: (quiet) Yes, m’am.


Dr. Cardone: Excuse me?


Darren raises his eyes from the floor and connects with Dr. Cardone.


Darren: Yes, Dr. Cardone.


Dr. Cardone holds for a moment on Darren.


Dr. Cardone: Peter Ditzel.


Peter: (quick) Present.


Dr. Cardone: Amber Mitchell.


Amber: Here.


Dr. Cardone looks at her roll sheet then back at the students. After several beats, she places the roll sheet on the desk and turns back to the students.


Dr. Cardone: I trust that all of you know why you’re here.


No one moves. 


Dr. Cardone: Well, perhaps I can refresh your selective memories. There was an incident last Tuesday. I suspect each of you know about the incident to which I refer. And it has been brought to my attention that each of you perhaps knows quite a bit about what happened. You know who was involved. And therefor who is responsible. I would like to know who is responsible for the incident last Tuesday, and I would like for one of you to tell me.


Silence for several awkward moments. Peter raises his hand.


Dr. Cardone: Mr. Ditzel.


Peter: Dr. Cardone, what’s the...what is the punishment?


Dr. Cardone: Mr. Ditzel, in reviewing your schedule I have seen that you are currently enrolled in Mr. Hutchins’ Civics course. It stands to reason that you have learned from Mr. Hutchins the legal principle that the punishment should fit the crime.


The students listen.


Dr. Cardone: I can assure you, Mr. Ditzel that the punishment handed to anyone responsible for this incident will most certainly fit the crime. And to be clear in a manner that everyone in this room understands, what happened here last Tuesday was absolutely, positively intolerable. An act alone that is worthy of the most severe punishment, and by virtue of its occurrence making the news, has become an embarrassment to this institution and to this community.  Now I will ask again, and if anyone cares to conduct themselves as a person of honorable character they will now choose to speak and be heard. Who is responsible for what happened on Tuesday?




Dr. Cardone: It appears that no one in this room wishes to conduct themselves honorably. But before this day is through, we are going to learn the identity of the person who is responsible for disgracing this institution. And I can promise that no one is going to leave this room until we do.


Dr. Cardone turns her back on the students. She picks up her stack of papers from the desk and walks to a door. She opens the portal to a room unseen.


Dr. Cardone: Miss Michaelson.


Hadley: Yes, Dr. Cardone?


Dr. Cardone: Please follow me.


Hadley rises and follows Dr. Cardone. She disappears into the unknown room next door 


Dr. Cardone: I expect each of you to sit where you are and remain silent, until it is your turn to accompany me in the adjoining room.


Dr. Cardone enters the next room and closes the door behind her. The students sit in silence for a moment.


Darren: The nest has been stirred, yo. And the queen bee is looking for someone to sting. Whatcha think they’re talkin’ about in there?




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