by: Luke Sorge
CAST OF CHARACTERS
HUTCH: A cowboy.
MOONSHOT: A younger, more annoying cowboy.
THE SETTING: An arid, desert landscape. Isolated. One big tree and that’s it. The Wild West. The olden days.
A rope hangs from the branch of the one big tree, its noose wrapped around HUTCH’s neck. He is sitting on MOONSHOT’s shoulders. Both men’s hands are bound.
If MOONSHOT walks away, HUTCH will fall and be hanged.
They’re silent for a long time.
MOONSHOT: … Y’think he’ll bring some water with him when he comes? (pause) I hope so. It’s damn hot. I never been so thirsty. (pause) Y’think he will, Hutch? Bring us some water? Or some apples?! Oh, boy. That sounds good, don’t it. A big, red apple. Don’t that sound good, Hutch? (pause) Y’know what I like? I like it when you bite into an apple, and it’s real crunchy and juicy and the juice run all down your chin and your beard gets all sticky and all day you’re tastin’ apple in your moustache. Don’t you like that, Hutch? Don’t an apple sound real good right about now? (pause) I sure hope he brings some apples. He might, too. Right? He said he’d bring some food, so it might well could be apples he’s bringin’, huh, Hutch?
HUTCH: He’s not bringing any apples.
MOONSHOT: Why d’you say that?
HUTCH: Because he’s not coming.
MOONSHOT: He said he was. He said he’s gonna / come back and–
HUTCH: I know what he said. But he’s not. Why would he come back here, huh?
MOONSHOT: Gee, I dunno, Hutch. Maybe ‘cuz he left us out here.
HUTCH: … That’s exactly the point, kid.
MOONSHOT: What is?
HUTCH: To leave us out here! Don’t you get it? He’s punishing us. That’s why he said he’s bringing us food. To make us hope. But having hope when there’s no hope, it’s torture. He’s not coming.
MOONSHOT: Nah, Hutch. He’s just tryin’ to put a scare in us, is all. He ain’t gonna just leave us out here. It’s a misunderstandin’s what it is. A big misunderstandin’.
HUTCH: Misunderstandings get men killed.
MOONSHOT: When he comes back, I’ll explain to him / that–
HUTCH: He’s not coming back!
MOONSHOT: Well now, I think you’re wrong, Hutch. I ain’t known him for long / but–
HUTCH: I have.
MOONSHOT: –I’ll explain to him that we didn’t mean no harm.
HUTCH: There’s no talking him out of it, kid. This is Big Frenchie we’re talking about.
HUTCH: So? He’s one of the most psychopathic stone-cold killers in the west, you idiot!
MOONSHOT: That may be so, but…
HUTCH: But what?
MOONSHOT: That don’t mean he ain’t still reasonable.
HUTCH: … Kid.
HUTCH: LOOK AT US. Does this look like the work of a reasonable person?!
HUTCH nearly falls off MOONSHOT’s shoulders from yelling. MOONSHOT shuffles sideways and balances HUTCH to keep him up.
MOONSHOT: Whoa, now! Careful, Hutch! Take it easy. What happens if y’fall off’a me, huh?
HUTCH: I’d die.
MOONSHOT: Yeah, and we ain’t gonna let that happen. Alright, Hutch? (pause) Alright, Hutch? (pause) Alright, Hutch? (pause) Alright–
MOONSHOT: Y’really oughta watch that temper, Hutch. All that anger n’that? It’ll make you sick, y’know. (pause) Y’wanna play a game?
MOONSHOT: C’mon, it’ll be fun. It’s called “these eyes in me.” I used’ta play it all the time when I was a kid.
HUTCH: You’re still a kid.
MOONSHOT: I’m talkin’ when I was just a wee little guy. Couldn’t even hold a gun. So y’wanna play?]
HUTCH: I already told you. No.
MOONSHOT: Well, seein’ as how we ain’t got much else to do, I say we should. It’s real simple, see – I say “these eyes in me, what is it that you see?” And then I give you clues as to what I’m lookin’ at and you try’n guess it. \
HUTCH: If I’m supposed to guess, why are you talking to your eyes?
MOONSHOT: ‘Cuz that’s how you play! Why y’always gotta question everything, Hutch? Why y’always make me feels stupid about everything? I’m just tryin’ to pass the time, is all… (pause) Okay, I’ll start. These eyes in me, what is it that you see? We see… something brown.
HUTCH: … The tree.
MOONSHOT: Yes! First try! Good. Now it’s your turn.
HUTCH: (looking around) Nothing else out here…
A long pause. MOONSHOT shuffles his feet, discouraged.
HUTCH: I’ve got to pee.
MOONSHOT: Nah, you should try’n hold it, Hutch. I heard you can get real sick if y’pee too much. You could die. They even call it that – Die-hydration or somethin’.
HUTCH: It’s dehydration, kid. And it won’t do any good to hold it now. It’s already the last stop.
MOONSHOT: Don’t say that, Hutch. This ain’t the last stop for us. We’re gonna–
HUTCH: For the piss, I mean! It’s already gone through me. You don’t get dehydrated from peeing too much. You get dehydrated from not drinking enough.
MOONSHOT: Oh. Alright. So… Well, I guess you should drink it then.
HUTCH: My piss?!
MOONSHOT: Y’probably should, right?
HUTCH: I’m not drinking my piss!
MOONSHOT: To keep from die-hydratin’.
HUTCH: Oh, see, I thought you meant because it tastes so good.
MOONSHOT: Does it?
HUTCH: I’ve never tasted my piss, dummy, and I’m never going to!
HUTCH again has to steady himself from falling. Pause.
MOONSHOT: … Can I?
MOONSHOT: We shouldn’t waste it. I don’t wanna die-hydrate either.
HUTCH: NO – You can’t drink my pee!
MOONSHOT: For survival, Hutch!
HUTCH: We’re not going to survive, dammit!
Beat. MOONSHOT deflates.
MOONSHOT: Fine. I won’t drink your pee.
HUTCH: Face it, kid. We’re goners.
MOONSHOT: You don’t know that.
HUTCH: This is how Big Frenchie gets revenge. It’s not enough to put a bullet in us. He wants us to suffer. If the thirst doesn’t kill us, it’ll be the heat. If the heat doesn’t do it, it’ll be the coyotes. And if the coyotes don’t do it, well… it’ll be the rope. Once you finally smarten up and walk the hell away.
MOONSHOT: And let you hang?
HUTCH: Better than both of us dying.
MOONSHOT: That ain’t happenin’, Hutch. I’m the one got us in this mess.
HUTCH: No, Big Frenchie and I go way back. This was a long time coming, kid. It’s more about me than it is about you.
MOONSHOT: Well, but still– You vouched for me.
HUTCH: Which I knew was stupid, but I did it anyway. What I didn’t know is what a terrible shot you are.
MOONSHOT: I was nervous. My hand was shakin’ and–
HUTCH: That’s part of being a good shot–
MOONSHOT: I had sweat in my eyes.
HUTCH: Your reputation is as a good shot.
MOONSHOT: Hell, I thought I was a good shot, Hutch. Honest I did.
HUTCH: Well, you’re not. And now look at us.
MOONSHOT: And anyways, I didn’t know she was Big Frenchie’s daughter. So.
Pause. HUTCH shakes his head, defeated.
HUTCH: Just go, kid.
MOONSHOT: I can’t.
HUTCH: Yes you can. It’s easy. Just start walking in whatever direction you choose and don’t look back. Or better yet, start running. Just run and don’t think. That should come pretty easy to you.
MOONSHOT: You can go ahead and pee now, Hutch.
HUTCH: You’re still young, kid. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.
MOONSHOT: It ain’t like you’re old.
HUTCH: No, I’m finally getting what’s coming to me.
MOONSHOT: I ain’t gonna kill you, Hutch.
HUTCH: You wouldn’t be killing me, kid. You’d be setting me free. This is the price I pay for the life I’ve lived. See, the wicked man and the good man die just the same. Only the wicked man is wicked no longer.
MOONSHOT: … What’s that mean?
HUTCH: Don’t think of it as killing me. Think of it as saving yourself. I’m a goner either way. But you… you’ve got the chance to–
MOONSHOT: I’m a goner, too, you stupid son of a bitch! (pause) Shit, Hutch, even if I wanted to leave you – I don’t¸ but even if I did – I don’t know where hell we are. We was blindfolded a long time. And I don’t recognize one single bit ‘a this landscape. I start walkin’ now, it could be days ‘fore I see another soul. And then it might be Injins or coyotes or a rattler or somethin’ like that. I wouldn’t get far, anyhow. My hands are tied and my feet already hurt somethin’ fierce. And what direction would I even go in? Nah. I can just as easy starve to death right here with you as I can out there on my own. So stop tellin’ me to go. I ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Pause. HUTCH nods.
HUTCH: So what are we going to do, then?
MOONSHOT: … These eyes in me, what is it that you–
HUTCH: Not that, kid!
MOONSHOT: Well, Hutch, I dunno. I guess we just hang out and– Whoops. Sorry. I guess we just stay right here and wait for Big Frenchie to come back.
HUTCH: He’s not. Coming. Back.
MOONSHOT: Maybe not, but y’gotta have hope, Hutch.
HUTCH: But I just told you – Hope without hope is torture.
MOONSHOT: Yeah, well… what else we got?
Pause. The kid’s got a point.
HUTCH: Hey, kid. What if he does come back… What if Big Frenchie comes riding up in that little carriage of his right now and whistles at you and pats the empty seat next him?
HUTCH: You say you’re not going to go off on your own and leave me here. Well, what if he offers you, and only you, a safe ride back home?
Beat. Quite a long silence follows.
MOONSHOT: … But what if he brings apples?
HUTCH: Yeah, you’re right, kid. An apple does sound pretty good right now.
MOONSHOT: Real juicy ones…
HUTCH: Running down your chin…
MOONSHOT: That loud crunch as y’bite into it…
HUTCH: As many of them as we can eat…
MOONSHOT: Hell, he’ll be here any minute now, Hutch. He will. I just know it.
HUTCH: Sure, kid. Any minute now. (pause) Might as well hope.
Another long silence.
MOONSHOT shuffles his feet, looks around. HUTCH sighs.
Luke Sorge is a Denver-based playwright, whose work has been seen at Benchmark Theater Company, the University of Colorado Denver, and the Starz International Film Festival.