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Row 17, Seat B - Short Film
by nathan illsley (nillsley@comcast.net)

Rated: R   Genre: Miscellaneous   User Review: ***1/2
Short film. A racist businessman has his world turned upside down after a brief encounter with the man sitting next to him on an airplane.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


WALTER HARRIS sits in a busy airport terminal and reads a
copy of the New Yorker. He is wearing reading glasses and
has his legs crossed over each other.

He takes a break from reading his magazine every few seconds
and surveys the rest of the terminal, always focusing his
eyes on someone of an ethnic background.
      (on intercom)
Flight 511, Boston to Chicago will
begin boarding immediately. Will
First Class passengers sitting in
rows 20-30 please make their way
to the gate.
Walter closes his magazine and places it the side pocket of
his leather satchel.

A Middle Eastern man approaches and sits in the empty seat
next to Walter. He is wearing a very baggy shirt.

Walter pauses for a moment, closes his satchel, stands up,
and moves to another empty seat.

Th Middle Eastern man stares at Walter for several seconds
before looking away.
Walter reaches into the inner pocket of his sports coat and
removes his ticket. The ticket reads "Row 17, Seat B."
      (on intercom)
Will First Class passengers in
rows 10-19 on flight 511, Boston
to Chicago please make their way
to the gate.
Walter stands up, looks at the Middle Eastern man one last
time, and walks in line.
Several passengers go through the line and hand their
tickets to JESS, a stewardess in her mid twenties.
How are you today sir?


I've been better.
He hands her his ticket.
Well hopefully you can relax on
the flight then.
She scans his ticket and hands it back to him.
Have a great fli...
Walter walks away before she can finish.
You try and relax with a goddamn
towel-head on your flight.
Walter storms his way towards the plane.
Walter walks through the aisles and looks at several numbers
before getting to Row 17. Seat B is the aisle seat and seat
A is the window seat.

He opens the overhead compartment and places his satchel

He sits in his seat and removes the safety instructions. He
looks at them for a few seconds, no more than a cursory
glance, and replaces the pamphlet in the seat pouch.

He leans over the edge and looks back towards the coach
section. People filter in.
Another man, MICHAEL JEUDY approaches row 17.
How's it going boss. Can I squeeze
past you for a second there?
I'm in seat A. Can I get past real


Oh, right. Of course. Sorry.
Walter stands up and allows Michael to move in.

Michael plops down loudly in the seat and lets out a huge
I'm Michael Jeudy.
He extends his hand to Walter.
Walter looks at the hand, pauses, then extends his as well.
Walter Harris.
Walter immediately removes his phone from his pocket and
starts playing with it without looking up.
So Walt, what's taking you to
Oh, nice. What kind of business
are you in?
That's great man. That's great.
Me, I do a little of everything.
Don't really have a place to hang
my hat right now but I'll tell you
this, not planning on coming back
this way.
Walter looks back to coach again and sees the Middle Eastern
man walk onto the plane. They make eye contact for a brief
You alright Walt? Looking a little
nervous there.
Walter turns back around.


No, you know what, I'm not
alright. I'm not alright at all.
No? What's got you flustered boss?
The people they let on these
goddamn flights. There's a guy
back there that I've been watching
and he's a middle easterner and
he's been acting weird this whole
time and there should be some sort
of screening process to watch for
this and I'm sick of it.
Well he had to go through
security. They would have caught
anything bad.
Oh that's bull and you know it. I
don't trust security any more than
I trust that guy back there. The
terrorists on September 11'th got
through. The underwear bomber got
through. Excuse me if I have no
faith in airport security.
Walt, I mean, things have changed
since then.
You know what, you're absolutely
right. Airport workers are too
afraid of being accused of racism
now that they refuse to do any
kind of profiling. You can spot a
mile away who should have to go
through extra security but
nowadays they let them go easier
than everyone else because they're
afraid of being labeled a racist.
So you think there's a specific
profile that a terrorist embodies?


Oh come on. You know there is.
When was the last time you saw a
white terrorist?
I don't know. The Unabomber?
Okay but what makes this guy so
Besides his entire being?
Besides that.
By himself, no luggage, baggy
You just basically described me.
Let's be honest, I'm not worried
about you.
Walter looks back to his phone.
Maybe you should be.
He looks back up.
Come again?
I said, maybe you should be.
That's real funny Michael. Just my
type of humor.
From this point forward Michael changes his carefree voice
to a much more stern and serious tone.


I'm not joking.
A beat.
What the hell are you trying to do
right now?
I may be saving your life.
Alright what...
Shut up and listen. You're
pathetic. You think that just
because he's ethnic and doesn't
have a carry on he's a bad guy?
Let me tell you something, you
couldn't read who the bad guy was
if your fucking life depended on
it. You're blind.
Walter unbuckles his seatbelt and begins standing up.

Michael pulls him back down to the seat and opens his jacket
revealing a handgun.
I really would not make a fucking
scene if I were you.
What are you doing? Are you...
Shut up Walt. I'm serious if you
cause a scene, you're the first
one to go. You got that?
Walt stops squirming and clamps his mouth closed.
Do you get that?


Good. So here's what's going to
happen. I don't care about you at
all. You're a worthless, racist
sack of shit, and I honestly could
care less if you live or die. I'm
going to do what I'm going to do
and what happens to you is of no
consequence to me. Whether you get
through this is your choice. You
wanna live, don't you Walt?
Walter shakes his head.
That's what I figured. So let's be
completely straight right now, I
have all the power. You are
completely at my mercy. Now like I
said, you're a coward, so I know
you'd do just about anything you
could to live through this, right?
Walter shakes his head.
Perfect! Here's the plan: you're
going to stand up in about two
minutes and walk off this plane. I
don't care what you tell the
stewardess at the gate. Tell her
you're sick, tell her you're
afraid of flying, tell her you
forgot your carry on at the gate,
I don't care. Just stand up, and
get off the plane.
Walter seemingly holds back tears.
That's literally it. You stand up
and leave and guess what? You live
to fight another day. But let me
make one thing clear. I am fucking
watching you and if you make any
kind of indication that something
is wrong I will get up and shoot
you where you stand. You got that?


Walter nods his head.

Michael laughs.
God you're pathetic. You're
willing to let all of these people
die to save your own life. Jesus I
can't even believe you. You're not
even worth the bullet.
Why are you letting me go?
Call it a social experiment. You
came on this flight so fucking
paranoid about the guy who's a
little dark that you ignored
everyone else. I have proved that
no matter what kind of screwed up
mindset you have, there's always
the possibility of being wrong.
And you, my friend, could not have
been any worse. Look at me, I'm a
white collar Caucasian guy in a
first class seat. And your life is
teetering in my hands. Not the
hands of some fucking Middle
Easterner who's never done so much
as get a parking ticket. Shit,
you're truly disgusting. I may be
the one with the gun, but at least
I know how the world works. Good
fucking luck to you. You're really
willing to let these people suffer
so you can get out aren't you?
Walter doesn't answer.
That wasn't fucking rhetorical.
You're willing to do that aren't
Walter closes his eyes tightly.

Michael grabs him by the shoulder and shakes him.
Aren't you!?


Walter nods his head slightly.

Michael scoffs.
I thought so. Fucking pathetic.
Alright get out of here.
Walter frantically unbuttons his seatbelt.
Walter hastily stands up and rushes out of the airplane.

Michael scoots over a seat and looks behind him to watch
Walter leave. He faces forward again and talks to the
camera, breaking the fourth wall. At this point he resumes
his casual, friendly tone of voice.
Holy shit, what an asshole! He was
so focused on that one ethnic
dude. See that's what's wrong with
the world today. People have
tunnel vision on the one thing
that doesn't fit their cookie
cutter lifestyle. Why couldn't it
be the white guy who has something
disastrous planned? I mean, don't
get me wrong, 99.999999% of the
time there is nothing planned. All
I'm saying is that that asshole
had it in for someone who didn't
do anything wrong.
Michael looks away and shakes his head for a moment.
Oh shit, I should probably tell
you that I'm not a bad guy either.
I'm a Federal Air Marshal. That's
why I have the gun. I'm required
to. You really think I'd get a
side arm past security? Let me
tell you, Walt was both ignorant
and stupid. I have not bad
intentions for this flight. I'm
just sick of seeing assholes who
assume that everyone who isn't a
white upper class male has
something up their sleeve. After
sitting next to people like him
for six years I just decided, you


                       MICHAEL (cont'd)
know, I just decided to have some
fun with them. I know it's
probably not ethical, but neither
is being a racist douche bag. I
could get in trouble but
realistically what's the worst
that happens? He accuses me of
being a terrorist and the police
laugh their asses off at him once
they see my record. It's worth it
to me. Hopefully he had some big
business meeting that he misses or
something. That'd be funny. People
like him need to be brought down.
Not as in they need to be killed,
they just need to have someone
make them realize they're not as
perfect and infallible as they
think. They think they have
everything figured out but they
don't. That's why they're s fun to
mess with. They never expect it.
Everyone gets what's coming to
them... I guess it just helps me
sleep a little better when I'm the
one who brings it.
Michael puts a neck pillow behind him, places headphones
over his ears, and closes his eyes.


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From tina kenney Date 11/11/2012 ***1/2
Very well written. KUDOS to you.

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