Screen Protector

CUT FROM BLACK:

INT. LIVING ROOM – MID-MORNING

Sitting on the couch, BLAKE leans awkwardly on his left arm, lifting his butt and reaching for his back pocket. He fumbles about for a bit, pulling out his phone, only to realize that the phone’s case has become misaligned. In an attempt to fix it, readjusting the corners of the case, he manages to crumple the phone’s screen protector. Aggravated, BLAKE releases a muttered “Dammit” again and again. Dejected, he comes to the conclusion that he won’t be able to fix it)

BLAKE, resigning to defeat, looks across the room at ALEC, who is lost staring into his laptop.

BLAKE: Hey, ALEC?

ALEC: Yeah? (Jolting up, concentration suddenly broken) What’s up?

BLAKE: (Reaching his arm out so to show his phone to ALEC) Do you know how much a screen protector costs? I think I ruined mine.

ALEC: Let me check. (Furiously types away at his computer. After a few seconds, he looks back at BLAKE.) Looks like the cheapest will cost you about 10 dollars.

BLAKE: (Deflating into the couch with a deep sigh) Ah. That’s the last thing I want to buy right now. (Staring at his phone) But I do need it…

ALEC: Hey man. (Leaning on his elbow, turning his body away from his laptop and towards BLAKE) It’s better to protect your phone now than to ruin the screen in a few months.

BLAKE: I know, I know. (Staring deeply into his screen) Dammit.

CUT TO:

EXT. WAL-MART PARKING LOT

BLAKE pulls his car to a stop in an empty parking spot.

CUT TO:

INT. BLAKE’S CAR

The camera now sits on the driver side window, focused on BLAKE’s upper torso and head. He turns the engine off. Here, he then reaches into his pocket and pulls his wallet out of his coat.

CUT TO:

BLAKE POV

BLAKE looks down at the wallet as he opens it up, revealing a few cards and only a single $10 bill. He closes the wallet.

CUT TO:

INT. BLAKE’S CAR

BLAKE places the wallet back into his coat, grabs for the door handle and opens the door.

CUT TO:

INT. WAL-MART – TECH SECTION

The camera lingers behind BLAKE as he cautiously browses in search for a phone screen.Once finding a cheap one, he pulls one off of the shelf.

CUT TO:

WAL-MART REGISTER

BLAKE reluctantly pays for the screen protector, pulling out the $10 bill with a look of pained vanquishment.

CUT TO:

INT. OF BLAKE’S AND ALEC’S LIVING ROOM

BLAKE is now at the table, fiddling with his phone case, as ALEC is sprawled out on the couch while watching TV. BLAKE is carefully cleaning the screen of his phone, readying the application of his new screen protector. He pulls the sticky protector off of the screen protector and attempts to apply it, screwing up the corner, placing it incorrectly. He tries to pull it back and ends up tearing it in half.

BLAKE: (Completely defeated, swiping the box and screen protector materials from the table) Oh, c’mon!

ALEC: (looking up from the TV) What’s wrong?

BLAKE has placed his head in his hands, oscillating it from one side to the other.

BLAKE: The screen protector ripped.

ALEC: It ripped?

BLAKE: (Frustrated) It ripped!

ALEC: Man, that sucks…

An awkward silence ensues. ALEC is still staring at BLAKE who is still fuming, shaking his head in disbelief.

ALEC: You could always return it.

BLAKE: (confused) How am I supposed to return a ripped screen protector?! It’s my fault.

ALEC: Well, you don’t have to say that.

BLAKE: (Intrigued, his posture relaxing) What am I supposed to say then?

ALEC: Just tell them there wasn’t a screen protector in the case.

BLAKE: What, and leave everything else in there?

ALEC: (Now excited by his clever scheme, pointing his fingers and becoming animated) Yeah. Just place everything back in the box and bring it back. Say you opened it up and there wasn’t a screen protector in there. (throwing his hands up) The factory messed up, forgot to put one in there!

BLAKE: (Now leaning with hands on knees, body pointed towards ALEC) That’s not bad.

ALEC: Where’d you buy it?

BLAKE: Arlington.

ALEC: (with a laugh) There you go! Put on some nicer clothes and hit up the customer service desk. They’ll never suspect that you’d steal from them. I mean, you’ve got to put that white privilege to good use, BLAKE.

BLAKE: (resigning to the idea) As awful as it is, it’s true. I might as well use it to my benefit.

ALEC: (reclining into the couch, pleased with the outcome of his reasoning) There you go.

CUT TO:

EXT. WAL-MART PARKING LOT

BLAKE parks his car as earlier in the day, but is now dressed in slacks, a dress shirt, and a twill jacket. BLAKE turns off the car and grabs the Wal-Mart bag containing the phone protector box and materials. He suddenly stops.

BLAKE: Alright, just play it cool. (In the whitest voice possible) I couldn’t believe it, there was no screen protector in there! Can you believe that?! HA.

BLAKE looks into the rearview mirror, fixing a few strands of hair and adjusting his shirt collar, beaming a fake smile back at himself.

CUT TO:

INT. WAL-MART –  CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK

There is a long line of people waiting to return previously purchased items. The line features a variety of people, all dressed similarly in a disheveled way, covered with shoddily done tattoos, etc. BLAKE gets into line behind a middle-aged WOMAN. She looks disheveled, reeks of cigarettes, and is sporting one behind her right ear, holding onto an appliance box, all the while visibly displeased with the wait. She turns back to look at BLAKE.

WOMAN: Can you believe this wait?!

BLAKE: (Obviously avoiding confrontation) Yeah…it sure is a pain.

WOMAN: Ah! I’m wasting my day here…I’m gonna give them a piece of my mind once I get up there. (She grips at the box rather aggressively.)

BLAKE: (Trying not to goad the woman) Well, I’m sure the cashier doesn’t want to deal with this line either.

WOMAN: She’s the one creating it! (Turns back forward as the line begins to move) Ah, makin’ me wait. I just wanna return this shit.

The man in front of the WOMAN leaves the register and the WOMAN hurriedly approaches the CASHIER, slamming her box onto the counter and fishes around in her pocket book, pulling out a receipt. The CASHIER is visibly tired, seemingly on the verge of up and quitting right then and there.

CASHIER: Hi, how can I help you m’am? (There is no life behind her eyes)

WOMAN: Yeah, I bought this the other day and it doesn’t work! I want my money back!

CASHIER: (Grabbing the box and looking it over) Okay, I just need your receipt, m’am.

The WOMAN forcefully hands it over to the CASHIER. The CASHIER looks the receipt over, a worried look spreading over her face. She looks up at the woman.

CASHIER: (Worried) I’m sorry, but this item isn’t on the receipt. I can’t return this for you.

WOMAN: Are you kidding me?! Are you fucking kidding me?!  

The WOMAN rips the receipt out from the cashier and snatches the box back into her arms, storming off in a huff, spitting out a barrage of expletives as she leaves. The CASHIER lets out a deep sigh, her hands gripping into fists as she stares down at the counter. BLAKE begins to slowly approach the counter. As he comes into the CASHIER’s view, she looks up.

BLAKE tries to act as mature and stereotypically white as possible.

BLAKE: Hello!

CASHIER: Hi. What can I help you with?

BLAKE: So, I bought this earlier today, and wouldn’t you believe it, there wasn’t a screen protector in there! Crazy, right? Ha, well…I was looking to return it for another one, if possible. (A smile awkwardly stretches across his face)

The CASHIER grabs the case and takes the receipt from BLAKE.

CASHIER: Damn. DAMN. One of these people must have opened the case and stolen them again.

BLAKE becomes noticeably uncomfortable over this comment, releasing the narrative that his lie is fortifying.

BLAKE: Well…maybe they just made a mistake at the factory.

CASHIER: (Laughing) No! You see the people here? Give me a break! One of ‘em stole it.

BLAKE: Well, maybe they couldn’t afford it. There are… (CASHIER cuts him off)

CASHIER: Can’t afford it?! These things are only $10. Who can’t spend $10 on something?! (laughs in BLAKE’s face)

BLAKE: (Upset) Well, maybe life isn’t going the way they want it to. Maybe things aren’t working out.

CASHIER: I ain’t gettin’ paid good. You won’t see me stealing nothing. (Her hands are now on hips, defending her narrative)

BLAKE: (Worried the cashier won’t give him his refund) I wasn’t accusing you. I’m sorry.

CASHIER: That’s alright.

The CASHIER removes her hands from her hips and scans the receipt. She punches some buttons on the computer. Suddenly, the drawer swings open. She pulls out the $10 and a new receipt, handing them both to BLAKE.

CASHIER: Hopefully none of these people stole from the next one you grab!

BLAKE: (resigning to the damage he has done, lowering his eyes) Ugh…thanks.

CUT TO:

WAL-MART – TECH SECTION

BLAKE furtively grabs a new screen protector.

CUT TO:

WAL-MART – REGISTER

BLAKE sheepishly hands over his dirty money to another cashier. As he walks away from the register, approaching the main doors, he sees the CASHIER sassing an African American customer attempting to return a faulty clothing iron. BLAKE begins running now, getting into his car and making the return trip home, all of which becomes a blur.

CUT TO:

INT. BLAKE’S AND ALEC’S LIVING ROOM

BLAKE opens the front door to their apartment, his head hanging as he steps foot into their living room. ALEC, still laying on the couch, looks up from the TV.

ALEC: How’d it go?

BLAKE: (Repulsed by his own actions) I got my screen protector.

ALEC: (Shooting up from the couch) Really? It worked?! (Excited)

BLAKE: (Sickened) It did. But…then again, I think I helped reinforced a woman’s racist narrative in the process.

ALEC: (Judgemental and sarcastic) Oh, well…at least you didn’t have to deal with the repercussions of your mistake. Plus, you got yourself a new screen protector. Good for you!

CUT TO BLACK

 

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