ABM Flies Above That Circling Fin

SCENE:  In the office of “Governor” Mark Dayton, at the Minnesota State Capital.  Carrie LUCKING, Executive Director of “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, is sitting at a large, mahogany desk.  She is leaning back, feet up on the desk, looking idly upward at the paintings and carvings that decorate the ornate office in the classical romanesque structure. 

Across from her is a larger, more ornate mahogany desk.  The nameplate says “Alida Messinger”; it shows signs of being only intermittently occupied. 

A knock is heard on a door leading to a small closet (off right).  LUCKING barely stirs. 

LUCKING:  What?

GOVERNOR MARK DAYTON (dimly heard through door):  Can I go to the bathroom?

LUCKING:  Go.

(DAYTON opens closet door, walked quickly, shoulders hunched through the door to the left, as Hannah UNDERLING, a staff assistant, walks in)

UNDERLING:  Er, Miss Lucking?  House Minority Leader Daudt is calling for hearings on MNSure.

LUCKING:  Put out a press release calling him “extreme”.

(UNDERLING makes a note). 

That’ll be all. 

(UNDERLING leaves). 

(Time passes.  LUCKING indolently pecks a message into her cell phone, until T. Giles HUMID, a highly trained puppeteer and member of the Governor’s staff, enters the room).

HUMID:  Er, Carrie…

(LUCKING clears her throat)

HUMID:  …er, Miss Lucking?  A group of of Saint Paul school parents are demanding better results from the public schools for their children.

LUCKING (staring idly at the ceiling, twisting her hair):  Put out a call to Keri Miller saying they’re…extreme. 

(HUMID takes a  note, leaves the room).

(There is a knock on the door).

LUCKING:  What?

GOVERNOR DAYTON (voice muffled outside the door):  Can I come in?

LUCKING (Bored):  Yes. 

(DAYTON walks past, stops at LUCKING’s desk)

DAYTON:  Say, uh…

LUCKING:  I’m busy.

DAYTON:  Ok.  (He walks through the closet door again)

(LUCKING, bored, starts folding an origami swan.  It quickly starts resembling a badly-formed paper airplane.  She wads it up and throws it in a trash can that is overflowing with wadded-up pieces of paper)

(Tina FLINT-SMITH, the Governor’s chief of staff and Lieutenant-Governor candidate, enters the room)

FLINT-SMITH:  Carrie, I’m going to be out at a town hall meeting in Cambridge, and I need a term to use to refer to the GOP’s criticism of our budget.

LUCKING:  I’d run with “extreme”.

FLINT-SMITH:  Um…OK.  Do we use that a lot?

LUCKING:  No.

FLINT-SMITH:  Um…OK.  (Leaves the room). 

(More idle time).

(Finally, UNDERLING enters).

UNDERLING:  Ms. Lucking, I got a request from some DFLers from Greater Minnesota.  They need some talking points during upcoming debates.

LUCKING (sounding bored):  DFLers from where?

UNDERLING:  Um, Greater Minnesota?  (LUCKING stares, not compreheding.)  The part outside the Twin Cities Metro.

LUCKING:  Huh.

UNDERLING:  They want to know – what do we call Sheila Kihne?

LUCKING:  Er…hm.  Let me think.  I’d say “too extreme!”

UNDERLING: OK.  How about Jennifer Loon?  The rep whom Kihne is primarying? 

LUCKING:  I think we should call her…too extreme!

UNDERLING (sotto voce while writing): …too extreme.  OK – how about Dave Senjem, from Rochester, the leader of the “moderate” faction of the GOP in the House?

LUCKING (absent-mindedly twirling a piece of thread):  Oh, he’s “too extreme”. 

UNDERLING:  Hmm.  OK.  How about Julie Rosen?   Republicans are constantly complaining she’s too moderate.  What is the message about here?

LUCKING (staring into space):  Too extreme. 

UNDERLING:  And how about Tom Bakk.

LUCKING (visibly bored):  Too extreme. 

UNDERLING:  But he’s actually the DFL’s Senate Majority Leader.

LUCKING:  Oh.

(Ryan WINKLER walks in)

WINKLER: Hey, I was talking with Colin Peterson. He’s getting a run for his money from Torrey Westrom. How’s about we call him “shortsighted”?

UNDERLING: Really?

WINKLER: What?  You’re gonna say that’s racist, too? 

UNDERLING:  You don’t know…?

WINKLER:  What?  He’s a black lawyer, too? 

UNDERLING:  He’s blind. 

WINKLER:  I don’t get it. 

LUCKING:  He’s too extreme.

UNDERLING:  Right…

LUCKING:  But we must counter him as well.  (Turns toward DAYTON’s closet)  Hey!   Find some Ray Charles glasses and a long white cane!

(Silence from behind DAYTON’s door)

LUCKING:  HEY!

DAYTON:  Ok. 

(And SCENE)

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