Tampa Burning: Opening Monologue and Scene

Act One

Scene One

SETTING:  An exterior platform of a train station in winter. City skyline in the background can be from any northern city, but not New York. Morning lighting. Full color set.

 AT RISE: MICHAEL addressing the audience.


It’s a winter’s day outside, cold for nothing. If I were the smoking kind I might light up a cigarette just to feel the warmth of the smoke. But I’m not the smoking kind so I just look at my breath in the air and pretend to be one instead. Fourteen degrees. The hairs on your body begin to freeze at fourteen degrees—least ways, that’s what it feels like. It’s hard to imagine that last December I was in Tampa and still sweating under the god-awful sun. It’s unnatural, being that hot in the winter. Well, they don’t really have winter; just three seasons of fucking hot and then one season of really fucking hot. Spent five years there, wasting away in the Florida sun. Know how much there is to do for an investigative writer in Tampa, Florida? Nothing. All you find is one pedophile after the next living in trailer parks called “Lake Fantasia” or “Palmetto Valleys” and instead of a True Crime novel you find yourself writing a psychological study you want to title “What the Hell is Wrong with Tampa, Florida?” You begin to wonder how so many of them can just live so freely. How no mater how many times these animals get arrested, they’re just turned back onto the streets. Of course you eventually realize that the judicial system is much like a Saturday morning cartoon. Accept that and it’s easy to see that Tampa is not even a real city. It’s a glorified suburb with a few tall buildings and a port that reeks of crude oil and sulfur more often than you can smell the ocean breeze—hell, you have to drive to Saint Pete for that. Calling Tampa a city is like calling New York a country. I had to get out of Tampa. Leave all the friends I’ve made behind. A writer simply can’t grow in a place where the seasons never change. And in these northern cities—DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia—there are enough stories for a writer like me to last a lifetime. I don’t even have to go to New York. New York is overdone anyway. But leaving Tampa was damn near the best decision I’ve ever made. There’s nothing in this world or the next that could ever convince me to go back. Nothing. Not even her.

Cell phone chimes.


Spotlight to side of set of PAUL on cell phone.


Michael! Dear god, I—


Calm down, what’s going on?


It’s Lauren…she’s missing!


Missing? What? How?


She was taken outside of her outside of her campus.


Paul, I’m so sorry, I—


You need to come back. Please, Michael. I need your help.


…I can’t. Paul, I’m sorry, but—


She’s the third girl missing this month, Michael…the others were announced dead.


     Pauses, lowers the phone for a moment and shakes his head.

I’ll be there in six hours.

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