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BLACK ROSES

CABINET OF HENRI GAMUL

ANNIVERSARY

CURIOSITY PEDDLER: WEEP AND MOAN

COLD READS

HANGMAN'S DOZEN THEME

TRAILER WE WHO ARE HIS FOLLOWERS

HANGMAN'S DOZEN EP. 1

HANGMAN'S DOZEN EP. 2: THE DROWNED MAN

THE SWARM from THE BOOK OF WEIRD

THE HUNGRY FACE from THE BOOK OF WEIRD

AUDIO DRAMA: ATOMIC PLAYBOY

ELIXIR

SUNDOWNERS EP 2 SAM HILL DIED HERE

BLACKOUT CITY: DEATH RAIN

ELECTRIC CHAIR 37

RADIO PLAY: SEEING RED

HORROR ADDICTS 113

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MESSAGES copyright 2012 m.s.


Gil heard the annoying bells toll. The ring tone on his phone was telling him he had a message. He was in the middle of a conversation with Meg, a very important conversation about whether she would stay with him or not, when Claudia messaged him.

“For God's sake....” Gil's face became flushed.

CLAUDIA: GIL, DARLING. I NEED TO SEE YOU. WE HAVE TO RESOLVE THIS. PLEASE LET ME SEE YOU.

“Is that from her?” Meg said coolly.

He had just told Meg he wouldn't lie to her again. Now was the time to prove it. “Yes,” Gil rolled his eyes. “She will not leave me alone.”

“What does it to say? Your message?”










“Please, Meg....”

“No,” Meg said. She stood from the couch and pranced over to to the bar where Gil was standing, her flowing skirts behind her. She reached for the phone, he withdrew, put it in his trouser pocket. “Let me see.”

“What about what you said,” Gil raised an eyebrow.

'What—no, Give me--”

“You said if I told you the truth, you would start trusting me.” Gil finished fixing his vodka and soda, swirled it with a finger, drank it fast as if someone was going to take it from him.

Meg crossed her arms and stewed for a minute. “Alright,” She said. “Don't tell me what she said.”

“No,” Gil was enjoying having one up on Meg. To see her give up the fight so quickly. “I'll tell you. I just didn't want to let you see the message. She wants to meet and break it off.”







Wrinkles crossed Meg's face in a question mark. Her lips pursed. “Why would you need to meet to break it off? It's over between you two.” Then she shot him a dirty look. “It is over, isn't it?”

“Of course it is. Both of you are too much trouble. A man could die of nagging and sexual frustration from two women.”

“Ha ha. That is not true with me—then what was so great about her if the sex wasn't good?” Meg put her hands on hips.

“She's a great conversationalist.” Gil said.

“That's stupid.”

Gil shrugged. “Oh well. That's me. A bit weird.”

“Tell me about it.” Meg said exasperated.









“So. Can I go and get rid of her?”

“If you promise.....you better get rid of her.” Meg waved a finger in Gil's face.

“Don't worry. I will.”

GIL: COME TO THE OLD MINE SHAFT OFF 17. WE CAN TALK THERE.

CLAUDIA:WHY THERE? WHY NOT COFFEE AT THE NUTMEG?

GIL: CLAUDIA. DO AS I SAY. PLEASE.

CLAUDIA: YOUR WIFE ALREADY KNOWS ABOUT US, SO WHY WORRY WHERE WE MEET.

GIL: I WAS HOPING TO CONTINUE OUR DANCES. I'M NOT FOND OF VOYEURISM.

CLAUDIA: YOU WERE HOPING I WOULD USE MY MOUTH, WEREN'T YOU?







GIL: NOT ONLY WAS I HOPING, I WAS PRAYING YOU WOULD.

CLAUDIA: I'LL SEE YOU THERE IN THIRTY MINUTES.

Gil smiled. Why not? He thought. One last tango. A bit of a turn on to do it in the old mine shaft. Just like they did it in the classrooms at the college.

“Ah, Coeds. I surely do love them.” Gil was of course referring to the many female students he'd helped study late at night. More than Meg thought. The only one she really knew of was Claudia.

Claudia was the typical Lit student. Ideology over content, theory over work. Gil didn't care if she thought Dick and Jane books were the work Vladimir Nabokov. She was twenty, tall, legs to her neck with chestnut brown hair. She was sexy as hell with those green eyes. Of course, Meg with her short blond hair and slightly overweight thirty year old body was still very attractive. She too, was a student of Gil's. And at forty three she'd trapped him in marriage ten years before.










Claudia though was somewhat annoying and clingy. Annoying because she was the only Coed bimbo Gil ever met that was smart enough to teach his lit class.

It was the second time they'd made love in the mine shaft before Gil felt weak. He'd finished on her stomach and Claudia rubbed it into her smooth white stomach. She smiled, licked her lips as Gil watched.

“You dirty girl,” Gil said, stumbled weakly past her to sit on a bench missing a board in the middle.

“Just not dirty enough,” Claudia rose from the dusty mine shaft floor and rolled her bra back over her small breasts.

“Please, Claudia.” Gil wiped beads of sweat from his forehead with his handkerchief. Monogrammed handkerchief that Claudia bought him for Christmas. And Claudia was playing on the new Dimension smart phone Gil bought her for Christmas. The same one Meg had wanted, but he could only afford one.








“Oh...that Vera. She always posts the funniest pictures on facebook,” Claudia said. “You have come here for one last sexual encounter with me?”

“Must you speak so academic?” Gil said sadly.

“The only way I know to speak...” She turned her back to him. Still playing on her phone. “It's funny I couldn't cry as I have figured out you don't want me anymore.”

“Is that so? I cry every time I think of it.”

“I don't think I can because you aren't going to leave me,” Claudia giggled. “Not after what I have to say.”

“There's no other way, Claudia. I still feel for you, but--”

“Listen to me,” She turned swiftly to him, a fixed, devious smile on her face. “We are never going to be apart. We will be together forever.”








“You are getting too emotionally---”

“Gil...if you leave me...I'll tell the college...”

Gil burst into a harsh laughter. “My dear Lord!” He clapped his hands. “These days, dear, the college could care less about my love life. Times have changed---”

“I'm only seventeen,” Claudia said.

Gil stopped laughing. His eyebrows arched down. “No,” He shook his head. “This is the second year for you.”

“I graduated when I was fourteen. I skipped ahead several grades because of my astounding I.Q.”

“You're making this up.” He felt defeated. Confused. Very low on himself....trapped.

Claudia retrieved her purse from staircase that led out of the mine shaft. She showed her drivers license to him. He read the date of birth, put his head in his hands. Then he handed it back to her.







“There's more,” She continued, turned her back to him to put the license back in her purse.”I'm carrying your child.”

He'd seen the missing plank for the bench he was sitting on. Something came over Gil.....he wasn't sure what it was.....a devil...a demon....but, no, he rejected all those reasons. He didn't believe in any of those superstitions.

Gil picked up the wooden plank. He swung hard and caught the back of Claudia's head. She fell with a whimper. She was lying face down, not moving at all. Was she did? Gil thought. He didn't want to take a chance for her to get up and get out of this mine shaft. So Gil hit her again. He heard the board crush her skull. It was a crunch, then a wet sound.

Blood seemed to run from her head like a newly made spring in a garden.

Gil looked down. That phone. That so called Smart phone. Oh how she annoyed him with that machine. Text messaging him at least fifty times a day. Gil picked the square piece of hard shelled plastic and threw it down. It slammed against the hard ground. It nearly broke in half. Gil stomped on it to make sure the job was done.







His mother always said he was thorough.

Gil started to panic. He ran up the staircase and nearly missed a step. He caught himself and managed to climb out of the shaft. He rushed to his car, stopped there. He saw her Volkswagen. Looked around and remembered the swamp.

Gil smiled to himself. “Oh yes.” He said. “Be thorough.”

“Well?” Meg met him at the door.

Gil ran past her and settled for the bar, where he promptly poured himself a whiskey.

Meg sighed. “Damn. You only drink whiskey when things don't go well. She'll still be clinging to you.”

Gil drank it down fast. He caught his breath, shook his head. “No.” He said. “I don't think she will.”








“So you got rid of her?” Meg thought a minute. She watched Gil nod his head slowly. A huge smile came across her face. “Good. The bitch.”

Gil's ring tone sounded. The bells tolled loud and clear.

CLAUDIA: I STILL LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING GIL, BABY.

Gil felt his knees become weak. His face went white.

“Gil, darling. I think we should take a holiday....what. What's wrong?”

Gil had to get his head right. That text was sent earlier, I know it. He thought. Before....

“Nothing honey!” He screamed and smiled. “Where do you want to go?”

“You look a little crazed, Gil,” Meg backed away from him.










“I'm just excited by the trip, is all,” Gil said, wringing his hands.

His ring tone went off again.

CLAUDIA: WE'LL BE TOGETHER ALWAYS.

Another bell sounded.

CLAUDIA: JUST YOU AND ME.

Another one.

CLAUDIA: AND OUR CHILD.

“Oh God!” Gil wheezed and ran for the front door.








“What the hell is wrong with you?” Meg yelled to him.

Gil opened the front door, gave her a disturbing smile. “I just have to go and check on something is all.”

***************************************

Gil was at the mine shaft. He climbed down cautiously. Driving erratically there, all thoughts turned to many things. Someone had it in for him. He was being set up. But how would anyone else have her number. How would anyone know about the baby---a friend, maybe? She wasn't dead and was toying with him?

That was it. She was still alive and toying with him. That bitch.

But she was dead.

Gil saw it with his own two eyes. She was lying there face up----wait. He had left her face down. And....and....her phone was in pieces.....







Now it was in her dead cold hand. The whole thing.....like it had never been smashed.

“No!” Gil cried out. He stumbled backwards, his face frozen in shock. He turned and ran up the staircase. He lost his footing and fell backwards. Gil landed hard on the ground of the mine shaft. There was a crunch, followed by a wet sound. Blood ran from the back of his sunken head.

His eyes were fixed on the dimming sunlight.

His phone had fallen out of his pocket. The ring tone sounded. Bells were clanging away loudly.

CLAUDIA: SEE. I TOLD YOU WE WOULD BE TOGETHER FOEVER!






























Friday, July 27, 2012

BLOOD RED DREAMS copyright 2012 m.s.



I finally found a way to rid myself of my horrible dream.
It all started when I was sixteen. Somebody at a party gave me some pills to swallow. Trance music was blasting the hotel room, the floors were shaking from the droning bass, the walls were caving in from the echo of the electric drums.

The dream began.
I was standing in a river of blood. People, naked, writhing in the damp dark murky red, howling with extreme pain. Body parts were hanging from the ceiling attached to wires.
And the children.
The children were facing me. Their black soulless eyes glaring into my very being, licking their thick red lips, baring sharp tiny teeth moving motorized cycles. Buzz saws.

And the things in the walls.
Yellow arms reaching out. Black elongated nails clawing out at anyone getting closer, tearing them apart. Whatever limbs, body parts they can grab, is tossed to the floors ahead.

Floors with mouths.
Mouths with sharp teeth, grinding, chewing flesh.





The children just laugh, giggle. Clap when a meal is done.
Entertained.

I awoke.
I was in a hospital bed. My arms were bound for my own protection. They said I overdosed. That wasn't the only thing I came away from that party with. My dream. For four years I have lived with it.

But now....

I have found a way to rid myself of it. It happened one day at work. I was cleaning the offices and Mrs. Gayle was working late. I forgot to put my gloves on and I accidentally touched her arm. Just brushed it.

She didn't say a word. She just looked at me. Traumatized. She got up from her chair, mumbled something about murderous children. She walked by me, caught in a daze. I heard the cars honking their horns. I ran to the window and saw Mrs. Gayle laying in the road, surrounded by onlookers and stopped traffic. One car in particular was parked on top of her.

But now....






I found a homeless man.
Just lying in an alley. Drunk. Dead drunk. Speaking incoherent words.
I smiled.
Finally.
I was riding myself of that bad dream.

I touched him. He sprung alive, arms waving, eyes rolling in the back of his head. Blood formed in the corners of his eyes and trickled down his face. He was dead.

I removed my hands.
I was free.
Free of that dream.....no more murderous children, or starving floors.
I could feel that I was free.

Suddenly, walking down a busy sidewalk, almost home, I passed out.

The others woke me minutes later. They said I must have had a conniption fit. That wasn’t all that was happening.






I was dreaming again.

I had inherited that man in the alleys dreams.

Blood red dreams.

OLD WOODENHEAD A PLAY IN TWO ACTS copyright 2012 m.s.


                                                                CHARACTERS

JOE : Latin -American, former thief, turned bartender
NAT: Childhood friend of Joe, just out of jail
VERA: Joe 's naive girlfriend
LOUIE: Father figure to Joe and Nat


PLACE: FRANKIE'S BAR, IN THE DEEP SOUTH
TIME: PRESENT










OLD WOODENHEAD

ACT ONE

It's closing time.
A run down bar room is the setting. The place is a mess. Chairs are turned over, glasses are scattered across four small tables, food, packages and crumbs litter the floor. Vera has a broom trying sweep, getting more and more frustrated.

VERA
REALLY?
(Stops sweeping, looking down at the floor)
A HOT DOG? PIGS. NOTHING BUT PIGS.
(Shakes her head, continues sweeping.

JOE
(Offstage)
WHAT ARE YOU GOING ON ABOUT?



MARK SLADE

VERA
THE PEOPLE THAT COME INTO THIS PLACE.
HORRIBLE MESS!
JOE
(Offstage)
WELL, IT IS A BAR.

VERA
(Stops sweeping. She looks behind her
to the left.)
THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO
FORGET YOUR HUMAN.

JOE
(Makes his entrance from the right.
He throws his arms around Vera's waist,
she let's out a small surprised whimper.)
PEOPLE JUST WANT TO HAVE A GOOD
TIME IS ALL. FORGET THEIR TROUBLES.
(Joe kisses Vera's neck.)



OLD WOODENHEAD

VERA
(Enjoying the moment.)
OH, PLEASE. EVEN
SOME ANIMALS KEEP THEIR CAGES
CLEAN.

JOE
(Resting his head on her shoulder.)
YOU'RE JUST NOT USED TO THIS
ENVIROMENT.

VERA
(Laughing.)
I'M NOT A LITTLE
GIRL LOCKED AWAY IN HER ROOM.
I'VE BEEN AROUND SOME.

JOE
OOOO...
HAVE YOU REALLY?



MARK SLADE

VERA
(Taking his arms from her waist.)
GET OFF. GOT TO
FINISH HERE.

JOE
UH. BABY?

VERA
YES?

JOE
YOU DON'T HAVE
TO FINISH. I'LL
DO IT.

VERA
BUT FRANKIE
TOLD ME THIS WAS
APART OF MY JOB.



OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
( Gingerly taking the broom
from Vera.)
I KNOW WHAT FRANKIE
SAID.
(Pause.)
NOW I'M SAYIN'...
GO ON HOME. REST
THOSE PREATTY EYES.

VERA
(Cocks her head to one side)
YOU HAVE BUSINESS...?

JOE
(Shrugs.)
YEAH.







MARK SLADE

VERA
(Folding her arms,
pursing her lips.)
WITH NAT, I SUPPOSE?

JOE
SURE.

VERA
I DON'T THINK YOU
SHOULD MESS WITH HIM,JOE.

JOE
C'MON.
(Pause.)
NAT'S AN OLD FRIEND.
WE GREW UP TOGETHER.
DON'T BE JELOUS.




OLD WOODENHEAD


VERA
I'M NOT JELOUS. YOU SHOULDN'T
BE AROUND A JAILBIRD.

JOE
DON'T JUDGE,VERA
NAT JUST HAD
SOME BAD LUCK.

VERA
HE WENT TO JAIL FOR BEING A
THEIF.

JOE
WHO TOLD YOU THAT?

(Pause.)

VERA
FRANKIE DID.


MARK SLADE


JOE
THAT OLD BUZZARD NEEDS
TO KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT.

VERA
FRANKIE SAID HE SPENT THE
LAST FOUR YEARS IN JAIL
FOR ASSULTING A WOMAN AND STEALING
HER STUFF FROM HER APARTMENT.

JOE
HE DIDN'T ASSULT HER,ALRIGHT?

VERA
HE HIT HER OVER THE HEAD!

JOE
NO! IT WASN'T HIM....
(Stops talking. Clears his throat.)



OLD WOODENHEAD


VERA
HOW DO YOU KNOW?
(Pause.)
JOE
I BELIEVE WHAT HE SAYS.

VERA
YOU NEED TO STAY
AWAY FROM HIM.

JOE
YOU NEVER MET THE
GUY AND ALREADY JUDGIN' HIM?

VERA
(Bewildered.)
OKAY. YOUR'E RIGHT.
I'LL WAIT AND MEET HIM.




MARK SLADE

JOE
NOT TONIGHT, BABE. I GOT--

VERA
I KNOW. I KNOW. BUSINESS.
(Begins to walk away. Stops, turns to Joe.)
YOU ARE COMING TO THE COOKOUT SATURDAY, AREN'T YOU?

JOE
VERA. YOUR OLD MAN DON'T LIKE ME.
NO. I'M NOT COMING.

VERA
(Shocked.)
DADDY DOES LIKE YOU.

JOE
(Laughing.)
NO, BABE. DADDY HATES
GREASERS.



OLD WOODENHEAD


VERA
YOU'RE NOT A GREASER. AND
DADDY DOES NOT HATE PEOPLE.

(Pause.)

JOE
YOU DON'T GET IT.
(Pause.)
I'M FROM THE WRONG
SIDE OF TOWN! HE'S ALWAYS BEEN
AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW
SITTIN' ON A POT OF GOLD, OKAY?
I DON'T FIT IN HIS
LIFE AGENDA.
(Shrugs, smiles.)
I JUST DON'T.
I'M OKAY WITH
THAT.



MARK SLADE

VERA
YOUR'E BEING SILLY. YOUR'E COMING
SATURDAY.

JOE
(Sighs)
CAN'T WE TALK ABOUT THIS LATER?

(Awkward pause.)

VERA
WHY ARE YOU SHOOING ME OUT?

JOE
I'M NOT.

VERA
YOU DON'T WANT ME TO MEET
HIM. WHY?




OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
THAT'S NOT TRUE. I WANT YOU TO GO HOME.
YOU'VE HAD A HARD NIGHT. I'M THE BOSS TONIGHT.
AND WHEN FRANKIE'S NOT HERE, I'M THE BOSS.
GO HOME.

VERA
YOU ARE KEEPING ME FROM MEETING
NAT. I WANT TO KNOW WHY.

JOE
I'M NOT KEEPING YOU---
WILL YOU QUIT ARGUING AND GO
THE HELL HOME!

VERA
YOU ARE....WHAT'S THE
REASON---





MARK SLADE


JOE
YOU'LL MEET HIM IN GOOD TIME.
NOW GET!

VERA
I'M NOT LEAVING!

(Joe grabs Vera by the elbow and pulls her to the
exit.)
YOUR'E HURTING ME!

JOE
I'LL DO MORE THAN THAT IF YOU DON'T
GET OUT OF HERE!
(Joe pushes her, Vera falls to the floor hard, sobbing.)

VERA
(Whispering.)
YOU BASTARD...



OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
(Puts his head in his hands. Then he
looks up, watching her cry.)
I'M SORRY, VERA.

VERA
(Continuing to sob lowly.)
FUCK YOU...YOUR'E
NOT SORRY.
YOUR'E A BASTARD......

(Joe helps Vera up. She shakes him off.)

YOUR'E A SORRY BASTARD.










MARK SLADE

JOE
I KNOW I AM. VERA...
I DON'T KNOW WHAT CAME
OVER ME. I'M SORRY.
YOU GOTTA UNDERSTAND.
YOU TOUCHED ON TWO
SUBJECTS.....YOU KNOW?
I'M TOUCHY ABOUT
FRIENDSHIP.......AND CLASS.

VERA
(Bites her lower lip.)
YOU HAVE CLASS.

JOE
(Slight laugh.)
NO, HONEY. I MEAN...
FORGET IT.
WE'RE BOTH TIRED, IN A MOOD.
I'M SORRY I PUSHED YOU.



OLD WOODENHEAD

(Joe offers his hand. Vera hesitates, takes it.)
VERA
(Smiles.)
I'M SORRY, TOO.
I KEPT PUSHING YOUR BUTTONS.

(Joe leans in, gives Vera a prolonged kiss. He rests his forehead on hers.)

JOE
YOU BETTER GO.
(Pause.
Vera pulls away, looks at Joe
a moment.)

VERA
OKAY. CALL
ME LATER?






MARK SLADE

JOE
YOU BET.
(He watches Vera slowly walk away.)

Lights dim, total darkness.


















OLD WOODENHEAD

ACT TWO

Lights grow brighter on stage. Joe is sitting at a table. The bar room has been cleaned up, chairs now sit on all the tables except where Joe is sitting. He has three glasses in front of him and a bottle of Absinthe. He is lost in thought, holding a small wooden carving of a man's face in his hands, turning it over and over. He hears the door open. He is alert now. Joe stands, places the wooden carving in the pocket of his jeans.
Nat appears, leaning against the wall. He is short very thin, wearing wire rimmed glasses, a turtle neck and a blazer. Slowly, a smile crosses Nat's face.

NAT
SO THIS IS WHAT YOU'VE BEEN UP TO, BOY?

JOE
BETTER THAN WATCHIN' THE FLIES ON THE WALLS.

(Pause.)
SO, NAT, YOU MEET ANY INTERESTING PEOPLE IN LOCK UP?





MARK SLADE

NAT
OH. YEAH.
(Pause.)
LOTS OF INNOCENTS. ONE GUY WHO KEPT
TRYIN' TO CONVINCE EVERYONE HE WAS THE QUEEN
OF ENGLAND, SHOWING HIS PANTALOOMS TO EVERYBODY.
WANTING TO INDAIN WRESTLE .

JOE
YOU TAKE HIM UP ON THAT?

NAT
(Shakes his head slowly.)
DIDN'T HAVE TIME FOR HIM.
(Pause.)
TOO BUSY MAKING PLANS FOR THE REAL WORLD.







OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
YOU GONNA STAND THERE ALL NIGHT?
OR ARE YOU GOIN' TO SIT DOWN
AND HAVE A DRINK?

NAT
(Slowly ambles over to the table. Joe sits, pours a glass.)
I'M GONNA HAVE SEVERAL DRINKS...
AS MANY AS IT TAKES TO CLEAR MY MIND IN THE RIGHT
DIRECTION.

JOE
YOU AIN'T NEVER BEEN IN THE RIGHT
DIRECTION,NAT. REMEMBER FATHER THOMAS'
SPEECH TO YOU?
(Slides glass to him.)
NAT
THE OLD PERV WAS JUST MAD I DIDN'T PUT OUT FOR
HIM LIKE LITTLE JACKIE.




MARK SLADE


NAT
(Takes a large gulp, makes a face.)
SEE WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM? SELLING HIS ASS TO
OLD MEN ON TWENTY-THIRD STREET.

JOE
(Sipping his drink.)
JACKIE HAS A HABBIT TO BOOT.

NAT
BOY'S WEAK. THAT'S ALL.
ALWAYS BEEN WEAK.
(Pause.)
HOW'S LIFE TREATIN' YOU, JO-JO?

JOE
BEAUTIFUL.





OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
THAT'S ALL YOU CAN SAY?
BEAUTIFUL?

JOE
WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY?
GIVE YOU A RUN DOWN OF DAY BY DAY
ACTION REPORT FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS?

NAT
DO YOU REMEMBER GINA WHO LIVED
OUT ON KING'S ROAD?

JOE
(Uninterested.)
YEAH.







MARK SLADE


NAT
THOUGHT I SAW HER WALKING
AROUND FIFTH AND DEEDS. HER
HAIR ALWAYS SMELLED
LIKE PEACHES. NICE GIRL. WE
USED TO RIDE HER ROAD ALL HOURS...
GET A TWELVE PACK.
WHO'S GIRL WAS SHE? MINE OR YOURS?

JOE
DIDN'T MATTER.

NAT
(Smiling.)
YEAH. TRUE. WE SHARED HER.

(Pause.)
THAT'S WHAT I WANT, JO-JO.




OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
WHAT?
GINA? I DON'T KNOW
WHERE THAT CHICK IS?

NAT
NO, DUMMY!
I WANT DEPTH!
STORIES. STORIES LIKE THAT.
MEMORIES FROM THE LAST FOUR
YEARS. THAT'S WHAT I WANT FROM
YOU. I WAS SORTA ROBBED....

JOE
YOU WAS NOT ROBBED.
(Pause.)







MARK SLADE

NAT
OH. NO. BOY.
(Pause.)
I WAS ROBBED. AND...
TONIGHT...
(Nat takes a snub-nose .32 hand
gun from his blazer pocket, lays it on the table.)
YOU'RE GONNA HELP ME.
(Joe is disturbed by the gun. He pushes the barrel
the opposite direction.)
YEAH.
YOU ARE GONNA GET THOSE FOUR
YEARS BACK FOR ME.

JOE
(Sighs.)
I DON'T KNOW, NAT.






OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
OH. YOU KNOW, JO-JO.

JOE
DO WE HAVE TO DO THIS?

NAT
(Picks up the gun.)
WE COME THIS FAR.
YOU OWE ME.
(Pause.)
IT'S GOT TO BE DONE.

JOE
HOW DO YOU KNOW IT WAS HIM?

NAT
THAT RUMMIE WAS SUPPOSE TO
BE THERE WITH US. IT WAS HIM WHO TOLD THE COPS.




MARK SLADE

JOE
HE DIDN'T SHOW. I KNOW. BUT HE DID IT TO US BEFORE.

NAT
I WAS CAUGHT RED HANDED WITH
THAT WOMAN'S JEWLERY, JO-JO.
WHEN THE COPS CAUGHT ME OUTSIDE THE HOUSE,
YOU RAN THE OTHER WAY.

(Pause.)
THEY NEVER SAW YOU.
I NEVER TOLD YOU WERE WITH ME.

JOE
I'VE BEEN GRATEFUL.

NAT
YOU GONNA BE EVEN MORE GRATEFUL
TONIGHT BY TAKING CARE OF THIS.




OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
YOU SURE IT WAS LOUIE THAT WAS THE RAT?

NAT
YOU WERE ONE OF THE
ONES THAT CONVENCED ME.
DID HE OR DIDN'T HE?

(PAUSE.)

JOE

YEAH. SURE.
IT WAS HIM.

NAT

I BET HE DRANK UP THE MONEY THE
COPS GAVE HIM FOR THE INFO.




MARK SLADE

JOE
WHEN'S HE GETTIN' HERE?

NAT
SOON.

JOE
WE GOTTA DO THIS?

NAT
WE GOTTA DO IT.
(Pause,)
NO CHOICE.

JOE
AND YOU GET WHAT OUTTA THIS?







OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
PEACE OF MIND.

JOE
WHAT ELSE?

NAT
RESPECT.

JOE
FROM THE CORROLLA FAMILY?

NAT
YOU BET.
HE RATTED OUT THEIR
GUYS TOO.







MARK SLADE

JOE
YEAH.
(Pause.)

NAT
YOU DON'T SOUND CONVINCED.

JOE
DOES IT MATTER?
LIKE YOU SAY.
I OWE YOU.

NAT
GLAD YOU SEE IT MY WAY.

JOE
YOUR WAY....
OR NO WAY.
LIKE IT'S ALWAYS BEEN.




OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
WAS THAT YOUR GIRL THAT LEFT HERE?

JOE
YOU SAW HER?
(Pause.)
YOU TALK TO HER?
NAT
SAW HER GET IN THE CAR.
KINDA YOUNG.

JOE
SHE'S TWENTY-TWO

NAT
OH.
YEAH.
SHE KNOW ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?





MARK SLADE

JOE
USED TO DO.

NAT
(Laughs heartily.)
SURE, JO-JO.

JOE
SHE ONLY KNOWS
WHAT I TELL HER.

NAT
THIS IS FRANKIE'S PLACE. HUH?

JOE
IT'S THE OLD BUZZARD'S.







OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
FRANKIE WAS A GOOD SCOUT AT ONE TIME.
SIZING UP BANKS. YOU CAN NEVER REALLY SHAKE SOME
TYPES OF PEOPLE.

JOE
AND WHAT TYPES DO YOU MEAN?

NAT
PEOPLE YOU USED TO RUN AROUND WITH
IN THE OLDEN DAYS.
(Pause.)
YOUR GIRL MAY HAVE HEARD SOME STORIES---

JOE
WHAT ARE YOU SAYIN'?
YOU'LL TELL HER ABOUT THE NIGHT WE ROBBED
THAT OLD RICH WOMAN AND YOU GOT CAUGHT, I DIDN'T?





MARK SLADE

NAT
DON'T GET SNIPPY, JO-JO.
I'M NOT THE ONE WHO CLUBBED THAT
OLD LADY WITH A TIRE IRON. I DID GET THE BLAME THOUGH.

JOE
I SAID I WAS GRATEFUL, OKAY.

NAT
YOUR GONNA BE EVEN
MORE GRATEFUL TONIGHT.
(Pause.)

(Joe takes the wood carving from his pocket, looks at it.)

OH SHIT.
(Nat laughs.)






OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
YOU STILL SCREW AROUND WITH
THAT DAMN THING? THOUGHT
YOU'D OUTGROWN THAT BAD LUCK
CRAP BY NOW.

JOE
THIS THING YOU REFER TO AS CRAP,
SAVED MY FATHER'S LFE WHEN HE FELL
OFF A BUILDING TWENTY YEARS AGO
WHEN HE WAS A FORMAN.
(Pause.)
BROKE EVERY BONE IN HIS BODY,
BUT HE HAD OLD WOODENHEAD
HERE WITH HIM.








MARK SLADE


NAT
THAT DAMN THING DIDN'T DO ANYTHING.
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS BAD LUCK...
OR GOOD LUCK.

JOE
(Sighs. Places the carving in his shirt pocket.)
YOU SAY THAT BECAUSE YOUR BITTER.

NAT
BITTER ABOUT WHAT? A STUPID
PIECE OF WOOD?

JOE
(Shakes his head.)
NEVER HAVING ANYTHING.
GOOD LUCK, FATHER, MOTHER,
MONEY, CLOTHES....





OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
I'VE HAD MONEY!
AND CLOTHES!

JOE
ONLY IF ONE OF THE CORROLLA'S
GAVE IT TO YOU.

NAT
I EARNED EVERY PENNY!

JOE
STEALING TOASTERS IS NOT
WORK.








MARK SLADE


NAT
I GUESS YOU'VE CHANGED?

(Pause.)
DON'T DO ANYTHING CRIMINAL, AS THEY SAY?

JOE
YEAH.

NAT
OLD WOODENHEAD HAS YOUR BACK, EH?

JOE
(Smiling.)
ALWAYS.

NAT
GIVE ME ANOTHER DRINK.




MARK SLADE

JOE
(Pouring another glass.)
YOU REALLY GOING THROUGH WITH THIS?

NAT
(Snatches the glass from Joe.)
WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?
SOUND LIKE A VIRGIN ON HER WEDDING NIGHT.
YEAH. GOTTA DO IT.
(Gulping down the drink.)
NO CHOICE.
YOU OWE ME.

JOE
YOU KEEP SAYING THAT.
CHANGE THE FUCKING RECORD.







OLD WOODENHEAD


NAT
YOU SAID HE WAS THE ONE
THAT HELPED SEND ME
UP THE RIVER.

JOE
DID I?
(Pause. Avoiding Nat's
eyes.)
THAT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO.
I DON'T REMEMBER.

NAT
YOU KNOW YOU SAID IT.

JOE
REMEMBER WHEN WE WERE
KIDS? GO DOWN TO THE
QUARRY AND CATCH FROGS?



MARK SLADE

NAT
YEAH.
(Laughing.)
YOUR OLD MAN WOULD COOK 'EM UP
FOR US. BURN 'EM EVERYTIME.

JOE
YEAH.

(Both sit there in a long silence, thinking of those days.
The door opens and closes. Louie, an old short stout man wearing a rain coat
enters. He looks sickly, run down. His gray beard is uneven.
His hair is still combed over a widening bald spot. He stands there,
nervous and a bit lost.
Joe and Nat say nothing at first. Just stare at him.)

JOE
LOUIE.
(Louie smiles uneasy.)




OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
C'MON OVER HERE. HAVE
A DRINK.

LOUIE
(Walks to the table, takes the third chair between them.)
NAW. CAN'T DRINK LIKE I USED TO. BAD KIDNEYS,
ULCERS...LEGS...YOU NAME IT.

NAT
YOUR FALLING APART, LOUIE.
BETTER GET SOME DUCT TAPE, FIX
YOU UP!
(Joe and Nat burst into laughter.)

LOUIE
(Dismissive.)
AIN'T CHANGED A BIT,
NAT. STILL A CUT UP.




MARK SLADE

NAT
NO OTHER WAY TO BE.

LOUIE
KNOWN THE TWO OF SINCE YOU
WERE KIDS.

NAT
AND YOU WERE OLD THEN!
(Again a rupture of laughter from Joe
and Nat.)

LOUIE
STILL CRACKIN' JOKES.
(Pause.)
SO.
HOW'S THE TWO OF YOU BEEN?






OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
OKAY, LOUIE.
LOOKS LIKE JO-JO
HERE IS DOING GOOD.

LOUIE
THIS YOUR PLACE, JOE?

JOE
(Shakes his head.)
FRANKIE GARNER'S.

LOUIE
(Makes a face like he smelled
something bad.)
THAT OLD BUZZARD STILL AROUND?
HE WAS A BASTARD WHEN WE WORKED COTTON STREET
FOR DOMINIC CORROLLA. ALWAYS SKIMMIN'.





MARK SLADE

LOUIE
(Sighs, looks around the bar.)
I GUESS DOMINIC'S SONS GAVE
HIM THIS PLACE. THINGS AIN'T
THE SAME ON THE STREET SINCE DOMINIC
DIED. HE KNEW HOW TO REWARD SOMEBODY.
HE ALSO KNEW HOW TO RID THE GAME OF RATS.

NAT
(Cutting his eyes at Joe.)
HE DID, DID HE?

LOUIE
YOU BET!
NO SON OF BITCH CAME IN
AT THE TOP, YOU HAD EARN IT.
START AT THE BOTTOM. BE HONEST.
EARN TRUST. TRUSY IS VERY IMPORTANT.





OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
HEAR THAT, JO-JO.
(Pause.)
TRUST IS VERY IMPORTANT.

LOUIE
THE CORROLLA'S TRUSTED ME.
LOOKED AFTER ME, I LOOKED AFTER
THEM. UNTIL THAT NITWIT
CASEY TOOK OVER.
WHAT KIND OF NAME IS CASEY FOR A
MAN ANYWAY?

JOE
WORKED FOR CASEY AT THE BAT.








MARK SLADE

LOUIE
BAH!
DON'T TALK ABOUT BASEBALL
TO ME. IT AIN'T THE SAME. THEY DON'T EVEN
TO HIT THE BALL ANYMORE.

NAT
YOU AND THE CORROLLA'S NOT ON
THE OUTS ARE YOU, LOUIE.

LOUIE
(Shrugs.)
JUST A LITTLE
MISUNDERSTANDING.
THAT'S ALL.

NAT
I CAN'T IMAGINE WHAT IT
COULD BE ABOUT.




OLD WOODENHEAD

LOUIE
(To Joe.)
WHAT'S HE ON ABOUT?

JOE
(Getting bored.)
I DON'T KNOW.

(Along pause.)

LOUIE
OH.
YOU BOYS WERE
GREAT LITTLE THEIVES.
MAN.
I FOUND YOU TWO TRYIN'
TO BREAK INTO VENDING
MACHINES IN FRONT OF THE
MOTEL SIX.




MARK SLADE

LOUIE
WHAT THE HELL WERE TWO
BUYIN' WITH CHANGE? GUM?

JOE
POT.
(Pause.)

LOUIE
(Making a face.)
YOUR DEALER TOOK QUARTERS?
NAT
OUR DEALER TOOK MOONPIES
AND RC COLA.
IT WAS MY COUSIN DARRYL.

LOUIE
GLAD I TOOK YOU AWAY
FROM THAT LIFE.




OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
MMM.
AND WHAT A LIFE THAT IS
NOW.

LOUIE
YOU BOYS DID
ALRIGHT BY ME.

NAT
BEING A THEIF SURE IS GRAND.

LOUIE
SURE.
BE SARCASTIC. BUT IT KEPT
YOU FROM MIXING WITH
THE WRONG SORT.






MARK SLADE

NAT
LOUIE...
YOU WERE THE WRONG
SORT.

LOUIE
(To Joe.)
WHY ALL THE VENOM?

JOE
(Lights a cigarette.)
HE'S GOT A BEEF WITH YOU.

LOUIE
GO FORBID.
NAT HAS A BEEF.
(Pause.)
NOT MY FAULT
YOU WENT TO JAIL,
NAT.



OLD WOODENHEAD

(Joe looks at Nat cautiously. Then at Louie. He stands slowly, swallows hard.)

LOUIE
I ONLY LOOKED AFTER YOU AS IF
YOU WERE MY OWN SON.

NAT
YOU ALSO MADE US TAKE ALL
THE RISK WHILE YOU REAPED THE REWARDS.

LOUIE
BIG WORD FOR YOU.
REAPED.
BEEN READIN' WHILE YOU
WERE IN THE SLAMMER.
YOU'D A DIED OUT ON THE STREET.
YOU KNOW IT.






MARK SLADE

(Nat takes out the .32 from his blazer pocket, lays it
on the table.)

LOUIE
I SEE.
(Pause.)
STILL HOLDIN' IT AGAINST THE WORLD,NAT?

NAT
(Shakes his head.)
NAW.
JUST AGAINST YOU.
REMEMBER THOSE TIMES WHEN ME AND
JOE WOULD COME BACK EMPTY HANDED?
YOU'D BEAT US WITH THAT EAGLE-HEADED CANE.








OLD WOODENHEAD

LOUIE
IT WAS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.
YOU LEARNED FROM ME.
MADE YOU TOUGH.

NAT
GLAD WE DIDN'T STICK WITH YOU.
WE WOULD'VE LEARNED TO RAT ON
PEOPLE.

LOUIE
YOU KNOW I DON'T
RAT--
NAT
WHAT ABOUT ME?

LOUIE
WHAT ABOUT YOU?





MARK SLADE

NAT
AUGUST FIFTH, ALMOST FIVE YEARS AGO?

LOUIE
I DON'T KNOW---
(Pause. Fear crosses his face.)
NO.
NAT....YOU GOTTA
BELIEVE ME.
I DIDN'T DO IT.
(Joe walks up behind Louie, holding
something behind his back.)

NAT
LOUIE...
YOU SOLD ME OUT FOR CHEAP BOOZE AND
GOD HAS NOT FORGIVEN YOU FOR IT.







OLD WOODENHEAD

(Joe grabs Louie by what little hair he has left
and pulls his head back. He produces a black boot knife
and slices Louie's neck from right to left. Louie screams out,
reaches up for Joe. Joe lets go and stumbles backwards. Louie
gurgles, falls out of his chair, knocking it over. He begins crawling across
the floor towards the exit. Blood drains to the floor. His hands and knees
leave bloody prints.
Joe and Nat watch Louie for a few seconds. Nat runs up in front
of Louie, fires one shot in his forehead.
Louie immediately falls on his face.
He's dead.)

NAT
WHAT'D YOU DO THAT FOR?








MARK SLADE

JOE
(Realizes what he's done. Does a double take.)
I HAD TO DO SOMETHIN'!
(Pause.)
YOU WERE JUST BAITIN' HIM.

NAT
(Goes back to the table. Wearily sits.
He lays the gun on the table, pours a drink.)
GOD THIS ABSINTHE SUCKS.
(He swallows it all down in one gulp. Makes a face.)
WHY'D YOU START DRINKING THIS SHIT?

JOE
(Confused.)
HE'S DEAD.

NAT
WHY'D YOU START DRINKIN' THIS,JO-JO?




OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
I CAN'T BELIEVE WE DID THIS.

NAT
HEY!
I'M ASKING YOU A QUESTION!
(Pause.)
WHY DID YOU START DRINKING THIS CRAP?

JOE
(Looks at Nat, blinks twice.)
I LIKE IT.

NAT
(A revelation.)
OH.

JOE
(Exiting right)
I'LL GET THE TARP.




MARK SLADE

NAT
(Picks up the bottle, looking at it.)
YOU REALLY LIKE THIS?
(Joe enters again, carrying a blue tarp.)

JOE
(On his hands and knees next to Louie,
spreading the tarp.)
COME HELP ME.

NAT
I DON'T WANT TO.

JOE
YOU DON'T WANT TO.
(Pause.)







OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
YEAH.
(Pause.)
I DON'T WANT TO.

JOE
(Standing.)
YOU WANTED MY HELP.

NAT
YOU WANTED MY HELP.

JOE
WHAT'RE YOU TALKIN' ABOUT?
YOU WANTED TO GET EVEN WITH--

NAT
YOU!
YOU!
YOU!
YOU!

MARK SLADE

NAT
(Pause.)
(Whispering.)
YOU.....
(Pause.)
YOU WANTED ME TO HELP YOU. TO.
TELL. THE. TRUTH.
(Pause.)

JOE
BY KILLING SOMEONE.

NAT
BY GETTING RID OF
A PURVEYOR OF LIES.
OPEN YOUR EYES ....
YOU CAN SEE THE LIGHT
NOW, I'M SURE OF IT.

JOE
WHAT LIES AM I GUILTY OF?



OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
OUR FRIENDSHIP.
BUT...
MORE IMPORTANTLY, THAT
NIGHT I GOT CAUGHT.

JOE
I'M SORRY. I'M SORRY I LEFT YOU.
I'M SORRY FOR NOT COMING OUT AND SAYING
I WAS APART OF THE ROBBERIES.
I HAVE CHANGED BECAUSE OF THAT NIGHT---

NAT
(Ushering a hand towards Louie.)
HAVE YOU CHANGED?

MURDER IS A WHOLE LOT WORSE THAN
THEIVERY.
AT LEAST...



MARK SLADE

NAT
BY SOCIETY STANDARDS.
TO ME....
SELLING OUT YOUR FRIEND
IS A LOT WORSE. IT'S REPREHENSIBLE.

JOE
I DIDN'T SELL YOU OUT.

NAT
THEY CAUGHT ME TOO QUICK.

JOE
COINCENIDENCE.

NAT
PREMEDITATED.
(Pause.)
YOU MURDERED MY SOUL.




OLD WOODENHEAD

JOE
WHAT'S YOUR VENGENCE THEN?

NAT
(Spreading his arms, waving his hands.)
ALL OF THIS.
I KNEW IT WASN'T
LOUIE THAT TOLD THE COPS OF OUR
LITTLE GAME OF BURGULRIES AROUND TOWN.
I FIGURED IT OUT SITTING IN COUNTY.
I ALSO KNEW, SITTING IN STATE PRISON, I COULD
DRAG YOU INTO HELL.
I'VE DRAGGED YOU TO THE BOTTOM.

(Joe realizes something. He pats himself down.)

WHAT?
(Annoyed by this.)
WHAT IS IT?!




MARK SLADE

JOE
(Astonished.)
I LOST IT.
(Swallows hard.)
I LOST OLD WOODENHEAD.
(Panics.)
I LOST IT!

NAT
OH.
YEAH.
AIN'T THAT SOMETHIN'.
(Joe looks down. He sees it. He slowly eases
down to his knees. He puts a hand around Louie's
dead body. He retrieves the wood carving. Shows
it to Nat.
Nat laughs.)






OLD WOODENHEAD

NAT
THAT'S ROTTEN LUCK...
IT FELL INSIDE LOUIE'S COAT AND SHIRT...
THAT'S RICH.

(The door slams shut. It catches Joe and Nat's attention.
Vera appears, hand over mouth gasping, eyes bigger than two silver
dollars. Nat begins to laugh.)

JOE
VERA...
(Her eyes dart back and forth between the body, Joe, and Nat.)
I CAN EXPLAIN, VERA....
(Vera turns, bolts. The door slams shut. Laughter grows louder.)
VERA!








MARK SLADE

JOE
WAIT!
(Joe runs off, the door slams shut.)
(Offstage)
VERA! COME BACK!
(Lights dim. Laughter resonates as the lights fade to
black.)
END OF PLAY.