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WEST TEXAS MASSACRE

a play by Edward Crosby Wells


Represented by Paul Thain

Contact for licensing rights: paul@stageplays.com



SYNOPSIS: 6W/4M, One Set, Full Length. 

In this melodrama within a melodrama Marsha is the Queen of a West Texas community theatre.  With her, it is always about Marsha – Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!  Marsha is having an affair with Dr. Hal.  Marsha’s husband, Mike, is having an affair with Alyson.  Alyson, Botoxed and liposuctioned, is the pretender to the Queen’s throne.  Is Bill the teacher having an affair with one of his students?  Marsha’s world is filled with intrigue, back-stabbing, secret board meetings and double-dealings.  We learn all about the actors and their diabolical plots as they perform Massacre at Dirty Gulch, a rootin’-tootin’ old-time melodrama, written, directed and starring none other than – Marsha!  Marsha plays Mary Holiday whose illegitimate daughter is abducted by Indians.  The Indian Princess Desert Flower, played by Alyson, sheds her feathers and we discover her to be none other than Mean Mabel Wiggens, the She-Scourge of the West.  Marsha’s husband plays Bad Bart Blackey who is in cahoots with Mean Mabel.  Marsha’s daughter plays Mary’s daughter who returns to be reunited with her mother after many years of back-aching work in a house of ill repute.  Was it the Bible or a bullet that done-in Madam Lillie?  The two melodramas quickly become intermingled with enough devious-doings to curl the moustache on Fu Manchu.  And then, of course, there is a massacre.  Oh, what bloody fun!


West Texas Massacre opened at Raw Space – the Actors Studio, 529 W. 42nd St., NYC under the direction of Frank Calo with assistance by Elias Stimac and with the following cast:


MILES COHEN                         O.T. Taylor/ Sheriff Upstringer                                                                   MARJORIE CONN                    Doris Powell/Polly Upstringer                                                                         DAVID DOTTERER                  Bill Walker/ Judge Sweets                                                                                 DANA LETOWSKY                   Rita Pipes/ Sally Sweets                                                                                  LESLIE C. NEMET                    Miss Lulu/Lori                                                                                                NATASHA PETERSON            Alyson Barrett/ Princess Desert Flower                                                       LAURA RAYNORVL                 Marsha Cornell-Simmons/ Mary Holiday                                                       JOHN RUSSO                           Hal/Grover                                                                                                          JAMES SADLER                       Mike Simmons/Bart Blackey                                                                                JULIE ZIMMERMANN               Evelyn Forester/ Widow Deere


THE ACTION of the play takes place on the stage of The Playhouse, a community theatre in the fictional town of Derrick, Texas.  The action takes place during a performance of Massacre at Dirty Gulch: a rootin'-tootin', old-time, wild west melodrama set in The Horse’s Mouth, a West Texas saloon in Dirty Gulch, Texas in the late 1880s.

THE SETTING is the interior of The Horse's Mouth Saloon as executed by the Derrick Community Players.  There are swinging doors leading to the street.  There are steps leading to a landing that leads to the upstairs living quarters.  There is a window unit.  There is the bar counter and stools.  There is a piano and bench.  There is another exit.  Two or three tables with three chairs each finish off the set.

THE TIME is the present.

THE CAST (in order of appearance): Names in parenthesis are the roles the characters take on in the melodrama, Massacre at Dirty Gulch, within the play:

MARSHA CORNELL-SIMMONS (Mary Holiday) . . . The Grande Dame of American community theatre. She is in her forties to fifties, lean and attractive.

DR. HAL LUCE (Grover Oats) . . . Middle aged.  He takes good care of himself, shrewd and somewhat aloof.

O.T. TAYLOR (Sheriff Upstringer) . . . Middle aged or older.  A good old boy one could find amusing were something about him not so menacing.

MIKE SIMMONS (Bart Blackey) . . . One is never quite certain as to the depth of his character.  He is Marsha's husband.

RITA PIPES (Sally Sweets) . . . Twenties to thirties.  A Texas Princess with a let's-play- dumb-blond-because-I-can-get-what-I-want-with-this-act-but-I'm-really-the-smartist- woman-in-the-world attitude.

ALYSON BARRETT (Princess Desert Flower/Mean Mabel Wiggens) . . . Lean and  attractive.  She is in line to the Grande Dame's throne.

BILL WALKER (Judge Sweets) . . . A schoolteacher, somewhat intense.

EVELYN FORESTER (Widow Deere) . . . A woman of means gained from hard work.  Relaxed, simple and a born arbiter.

LORI SIMMONS (Miss Lulu) . . . The daughter of Mike and Marsha.

DORIS POWELL (Polly Upstringer) . . . Plump to obese, coarse and loud.  She would like to vie for the title of Grande Dame but has neither the grace nor charm.


ACT ONE
Prologue  - "Pep Talk"

As the House LIGHTING dims we hear the RECORDED VOICE of MARSHA:


MARSHA (Recorded voice.): Okay, gang!  Listen up!  As your director, I just want to say that you all have every reason to feel proud of yourselves.  We've put a lot of time and work into this and, yes, we've had our little ups and downs . . . but . . . all in all, we've got ourselves a good little show.  Now, if you'll all take your places we're about to start.  The audience is in and it looks like we've got ourselves a pretty good opening night house.

Thanks again, gang . . . for everything.  And remember those new blocking changes.  Let's make Massacre at Dirty Gulch the melodrama that Derrick, Texas will not soon forget!

Places everybody! And break a leg!


End Prologue


Scene 1


AT RISE: GROVER OATS, behind bar, is pouring out a whiskey for MARY HOLIDAY who is lavishly posed on a barstool wearing a slinky dance hall dress, circa 1880. PERFORMANCE LIGHTING. NOTE: ALL ACTORS are in period costume, since what we are watching is a performance of the melodrama within the play.  We do, however, travel back and forth through time to witness prior rehearsals and the personal interactions between the actors performing the melodrama. These changes of time will be noted in the text of the script by calling for either PERFORMANCE LIGHTING or REHEARSAL LIGHTING. ALSO NOTE: The character name before the backslash is the character speaking.  For example, MARY/MARSHA followed by dialogue or stage directions belongs to the character of MARY in the melodrama within the play. 


MARY/MARSHA: (A very broad character as played by MARSHA.)  This ol' bug juice shoor hits the spot, Grover, but I ain't a-gonna tell ya jest where that spot is.  Ha, ha, ha!

GROVER/HAL: (HAL, likewise.)  You're a good-un, Mary Holiday.  You're a good-un!

MARY/MARSHA: Any news from that thare brother o' yours what got hisself dee-tained by that thare sheriff up in Ok-lee-homa?

GROVER/HAL: 'Fraid they're gonna throw the key away on that one, Mary.

MARY/MARSHA: Dear me.

GROVER/HAL: 'Sides, he ain't no full-brother anyhow.

MARY/MARSHA: He ain't?

GROVER/HAL: Nope!  I'm an Oats and he's a Blackey.  Ya see, his ol' man, Bad Billy Blackey, took advantage o' my mother . . . rest her soul . . .

MARY/MARSHA: Rest her soul.

GROVER/HAL: . . . while m' pa was off doin' his duty.

MARY/MARSHA: Yor pa was in the cavalry?

GROVER/HAL: Nope.  He was in the outhouse.

MARY/MARSHA: He wasn't only bad, Grover.  He was quick!
GROVER/HAL: That he was, Mary.  Bad Billy Blackey . . . curse his soul . . .

MARY/MARSHA: Curse his soul.

GROVER/HAL: . . . snuck up on m' ma whiles she was a-stuffin' the bird.

MARY/MARSHA: A-stuffin' the bird, Grover?

GROVER/HAL: It was Christmas.

MARY/MARSHA: Ya say it was Christmas and yor ma was a-stuffin' the bird whiles yor pa was in the outhouse?

GROVER/HAL: Right you are, little lady.  Only m' pa was a-stuck.

MARY/MARSHA: A-stuck?

GROVER/HAL: In the outhouse.

MARY/MARSHA: Yor ma was a-stuffin' whiles yor pa was a-stuck?

GROVER/HAL: And Bad Billy Blackey was a-sneakin'!

MARY/MARSHA: Ya mean ta tell me that whiles yor ma was a-stuffin' and Bart Blackey's pa was a-sneakin', yor pa was a-stuck?

GROVER/HAL: Yup.  In the outhouse.

MARY/MARSHA: Oh dear.

GROVER/HAL: But, Bad Billy Blackey weren't Bart's daddy yet.

MARY/MARSHA: He weren't?

GROVER/HAL: Nope.  That happened after Ma dropped the bird.

MARY/MARSHA: She dropped the bird?

GROVER/HAL: And screamed.

MARY/MARSHA: Well, why didn't yor pa come a-runnin'?

GROVER/HAL: 'Cause he was a-stuck.

MARY/MARSHA: In the outhouse.

GROVER/HAL: Sure 'nough!  'Twas the coldest December anybody could remember.  So, when he sat down he got hisself frozified.

MARY/MARSHA: Frozified?

GROVER/HAL: Sure 'nough!  Ma had ta crawl in under the outhouse and set a fire under  'im.

MARY/MARSHA: That must o' smarted, Grover.

GROVER/HAL: Not as much as what she had ta tell Pa 'bout what Bad Billy Blackey went and did after she dropped the bird.

MARY/MARSHA: Fo' shame, Grover.  Fo' shame!

GROVER/HAL: So, ya see, Bart's a Blackey.  He ain't a Oats at all.  He was conceived in sin and he’s mean as rusty nails through and through.

MARY/MARSHA: That's the saddest story I ever did hear.  Still, he's kin, Grover.  And you know what they say about blood and water.  Pour me another shot o' that amber lightnin'.  I feel a faint comin' on.

GROVER/HAL: Now, you take 'er easy, little lady.  I don't want no harm ta come to m' little angel.

MARY/MARSHA: Am I really yor little angel, Grover?

GROVER/HAL: Why, you jest say the word, sugar pie, and I'm all yours.

MARY/MARSHA: Even though I, too, have a child conceived in sin?

GROVER/HAL: Now, don't you fret, little Mary.

MARY/MARSHA: Oh, booo-hooo, booo-hooo . . . Guess talkin' 'bout kin made me think o' my long lost daughter, Louise . . . abductafied by Injuns fifteen years ago today.  Stolen on her third birthday.

GROVER/HAL: Fo' shame.

MARY/MARSHA: Yup.  She'd be eighteen today, Grover.  Eighteen.  Booo-hooo.

GROVER/HAL: (Pouring her another drink.)  Now, don't you cry, little lady.  Here. Drink up.

MARY/MARSHA: Here's to a frog in your corset! (Swigs drink.)

(REHEARSAL LIGHTING).


HAL: (A major transition from the character of GROVER. ) A frog in your corset?  This is fucking garbage, Marsha.

MARSHA: (Ibid.)  Garbage?  I'll have you know that Mike and I did a thorough research and "a frog in your corset" was definitely an eighteen-eighty West Texas colloquialism.

HAL: I don't think so.

MARSHA: Mike and I spent a year working on this script, Hal, so we could save the theatre some royalty money.  And it was approved by the board, as you doubtless recall, unanimously.

HAL: That doesn't make every word the two of you write sacrosanct.

MARSHA: Unanimously, Hal.  This is a melodrama.  Massacre at Dirty Gulch . . . not bloody Long Day's Journey Into Night!

HAL: I'm certain O'Neill would be the first to point that out.

MARSHA: Well, what the hell did he know about entertaining people?

HAL: You're not serious?

MARSHA: Of course I'm serious.  People don't want depression. They want entertainment.   We did that Electra thing here and it was as boring as a cow patty.

HAL: I'm not surprised.

MARSHA: Suppose you let me direct my script.  All right?

HAL: Fine.  Direct away.

MARSHA: How else do you think we can afford to put on everything else we do around here?  Huh?  Melodramas make money.  Money, money, money.  And as the new president of our board of directors it would behoove you to keep that in mind.

HAL: (Sarcastic.)  I'll make a mental note.

MARSHA: You do that, Hal.

HAL: Can we get on with rehearsal, Marsha?

MARSHA: I don't bust my buns every summer with these goddamned melodramas for my health.  You don't really think anybody gives a rat’s ass about what you consider "good" theatre, do you?  They're here for the beer and the popcorn.  And if that is what it takes to pay the bills around here . . . and then maybe subsidize some O'Neill, Williams, Miller, Albee . . . whomever . . . then that is what it takes!  Understand?  (The SOUND of HAMMERING.)  What the hell is all that noise?  We're trying to rehearse here!

MIKE: (Popping his head in from upstage landing.)  Hi-ho!  Just securing the escape behind the landing, Marsha.

MARSHA: Well, secure it somewhere else!

MIKE: I can't secure it somewhere else.  I've got to secure it here.

MARSHA: (Strained.)  Then secure it some other time, Michael.

MIKE: But I need to do it now before somebody gets hurt.

MARSHA: Then, for God's sake, do it quietly!

MIKE: Yes . . . right . . . quietly . . . sorry . . . (Disappears.)

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Rushing on.) Did-ja hear the news?  Did-ja?

MARSHA: Not now, O.T.!

O.T.: Oh.  I thought I heard Hal say "fo' shame."

MARSHA: No.  Hal didn't say "fo' shame," damn it!

O.T.: (Fingering his ear.)  Battery must be low on my hearing aid.  I thought he did.

MARSHA: Well, he didn't!  Besides, it's not "did-ja hear the news?  Did-ja?"  It's three did-jas and you left out the Ok-lee-homa.

O.T.: Three did-jas and put back the Ok-lee-homa . . . right!  Got it.

MARSHA: Then let me hear it, O.T.

O.T.: Well, now . . . let me see . . . Did-ja hear the news, did-ja, did-ja, from Ok-lee-homa?

MARSHA: NO!  Did-ja hear the news from Ok-lee-homa?  Did-ja!  Did-ja!  Did-ja!

O.T.: Right.  Got it, Marsha.  (While exiting.)  Did-ja, did-ja, did-ja . . .

MARSHA: (To HAL.) Honest to God!  Every time that man opens his mouth his brain leaks.  Now, can we get on with this . . . today?


(PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.)

GROVER/HAL: Today, huh?

MARY/MARSHA: Yup! My poor little Louise would be eighteen today.

GROVER/HAL Fo' shame. Fo' shame.

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Rushing in.) Did-ja hear the news from Ok-lee-homa? Did-ja? (There is a long pause. MARY flashes a tight-lipped smile. Suddenly, he remembers and quickly adds:) Did-ja? Did-ja?

GROVER/HAL: Now calm down, set a spell, have a drink and fill us in, Sheriff Upstringer.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Ol' Blackey's escaped!

GROVER/HAL & MARY/MARSHA: No?!

SHERIFF/O.T.: Yup!  And that ain't the worst!

GROVER/HAL: It ain't?

SHERIFF/O.T.: Nope!  (Fingering his ear.)  Did you just say "it ain't," Grover?

GROVER/HAL: (Sotto voce.)  Yup.  (MARY looks panicked.)

SHERIFF/O.T.: Did-ja?  Did-ja?

GROVER/HAL: (Something is wrong.) Yup!

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Fingering his ear.)  What's that?

MARY/MARSHA: (Through clenched teeth.)  He said "IT AIN'T," Sheriff.

SHERIFF/O.T.: (A couple taps on hearing aid. Removes finger from his ear.)  Gotcha.  (A long pause. Taps hearing aid.)  Nope.  (A pause to tap hearing aid, again.)  Nope, that ain't the worst!

GROVER/HAL & MARY/MARSHA: IT AIN'T?!

SHERIFF/O.T.: Nope.  He's here in Dirty Gulch.
MARY/MARSHA: He is?

SHERIFF/O.T.: Yup.  (Again, he's forgotten his line.)  Yup . . . yup . . .

MARY/MARSHA: (Helping him out.)  You saw him, Sheriff?

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Remembering.)  Right!  Yup!  I saw him, Miss Mary . . . behind the livery stable, playin' one-eyed jacks.

GROVER/HAL: He always did like a good game o' cards.

SHERIFF/O.T.: And who do ya think was a-sweepin' in all o' the winnin's?

MARY/MARSHA: Pray tell, Sheriff.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Bart Blackey!

GROVER/HAL & MARY/MARSHA: No!

SHERIFF/O.T.: Yup.  (A long pause.)  Yup.

MARY/MARSHA: (Feeding SHERIFF his line.)  Was he as big as life, Sheriff?

SHERIFF/O.T.: Huh?  Oh! Right . . . Yup.  Big as life.  Ol' Blackey hisself . . . the meanest, baddest varmint ever to set foot in Dirty Gulch.

GROVER/HAL: Why didn't ya put the cuffs on him, Sheriff?

SHERIFF/O.T.: Cain't!  Long as he don't break the law here in . . . in . . .

MARY/MARSHA: Dirty Gulch.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Right.  Dirty Gulch.  Long as he don’t break the law here in Dirty Gulch, it's outta my hands.

GROVER/HAL: But he's wanted for murderin' and rustlin' in Ok-lee-homa.

SHERIFF/O.T.: But not in Texas, boy.  I'm a-feared my hands is tied.  But if he so much as spits on the sidewalk here in . . . in . . . Dirty Gulch . . .

MARY/MARSHA: Thare ain't no sidewalks here in Dirty Gulch.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Well, on the ground.  If he so much as spits on the ground here in . . . Dirty Gulch, I'll run him in sure as shootin'.  Now, give me a shot o' that snake venom, Grover.

GROVER/HAL: One snake venom comin' up.  The venom's on The Horse's Mouth, Sheriff.  (Gives whiskey to SHERIFF.)

MARY/MARSHA: Fill 'er up again, Grover.  I feel another faint comin' on.

GROVER/HAL: You better be careful, little lady.  That thare scorpion juice will sneak up behind ya and strangulate ya.

MARY/MARSHA: My poor Louise.  My poor little Louise.

SHERIFF/O.T.: By the way.  Ol' Blackey's got hisself a purty young squaw by the name o' Princess Desert Flower.  Said he won her in a poker game up in Tulsa.  (Moving toward exit.)  Shor is purty.  (Exits and quickly re-enters.)  Well, I better mosey on over to the jailhouse and see what's a-stirrin'.  (Exits.)

GROVER/HAL: (Calling after him.)  Say hello to the little woman, Sheriff!

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Re-entering.) Say what?

GROVER/HAL: (Through clenched teeth.) Hello to the little woman, Sheriff.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Right.  Sure 'nough, Grover.  (He exits. From backstage we hear:)  Did-ja, did-ja, did-ja . . .


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING)


MARSHA: Hal, O.T. is never going to get that right.  So, you've got to get your line out before he exits.

HAL: I'll do my best.

MARSHA: So far, your best hasn't been good enough, Hal.

HAL: Sorry.

MARSHA: "Sorry" doesn't cut it.  It doesn't look good.  You've got to stop him with your line before he gets offstage.  Didn't they teach you anything down in Dallas?

HAL: Yes.  How to be a good doctor.

MARSHA: You know perfectly well what I mean.

HAL: There's no need for you to be abusive.

MARSHA: When I'm abusive you'll know it, Dr. Luce.

HAL: Marsha, what exactly is your problem?  Whenever the least little thing doesn't go exactly the way you think it ought to, you go off the deep end.

MARSHA: I'm trying to direct a show here.  Now, if you can't take direction, then I'll just have to find somebody who can.

HAL: From where?  You came crying to the board about how nobody turned out for your auditions.

MARSHA: I didn't come crying.

HAL: Demanding we take parts in this stinking melodrama or the collapse of The Derrick Community Playhouse would be on our heads.

MARSHA: I don't recall.

HAL: Marsha, the entire board of directors of The Derrick Community Playhouse, including your husband and daughter, are in this show . . . not to mention yourself both acting and directing.  It's not our problem if you've run everybody off and can't get anyone to audition for your shows anymore.

MARSHA: You don't know what you're talking about.  You come blowing into town thinking you're the Almighty Savior from Dallas and you don't know a thing!

HAL: I know this is a volunteer organization and people have better things to do than to put up with your abuse.

MARSHA: Bad timing, Hal.  It's just bad timing!  May I remind you, Mr. President, that everybody got burned-out on that last abomination we did?

HAL: Charley's Aunt made money.

MARSHA: It was an embarrassment!

HAL: Why?  Because neither you nor your husband directed it?

MARSHA: Correct me if I'm wrong.  But, I have the distinct impression you're trying to tell me something.

HAL: I’m not some idiot you dragged in from the oil field.

MARSHA: Then, stop acting like one.

HAL: A little civility . . . is that asking for too much?
MARSHA: Why don't you just take a hike . . . like back to big `D'.

HAL: I never asked to play this part, Marsha.

MARSHA: Then quit!  We'll cancel the show.  That'll look good, won't it?  Prima donna board president, obstetrician, community leader of Derrick, America walks out on little old melodrama because he thinks he's above us all.  Abortionist.  Put that on your resume and stuff it!

HAL: What?

MARSHA: You heard me.  Don't think I didn't do some checking up on you.  How many babies have you murdered, Doctor?

HAL: I volunteered one day a month at a women's health clinic.  Strictly in a supervisory position, I might add.

MARSHA: Bullshit!  They ran you out of town with death threats, baby killer!

HAL: There's no reasoning with you.

MARSHA: So, why don't you just pack up all your dirty little tools of death and get the hell out of Dodge!

HAL: (After a pondering pause.)  Funny . . . Baby’s changed her spots.

MARSHA: What is that?  Some kind of obscure, pediatric allusion?

HAL: (Imitating her from some prior tryst.  "Harder, Hal.  Oh, God!  Harder, harder!  Michael doesn't do it anymore . . . not like you do, baby.  Not like you do at all."

MARSHA: You son of a bitch!

HAL: Changed your tune, have you?

MARSHA: That was a one-shot deal.  So, zip up your manhood and go home.

HAL: One of these days, Marsha, somebody's going to run you and your husband right out of this theatre.

MARSHA: Oh, really?

HAL: Or worse.

MARSHA: Well, it won't be you!

HAL: Won't it?

MARSHA: Try it, buster!  You just friggin’ try it!

BLACK OUT. 

END ACT ONE – Scene 1

ACT ONE - Scene 2

AT RISE - GROVER OATS is behind the bar pouring drinks for BART BLACKEY, MARY HOLIDAY and SHERIFF UPSTRINGER.  SALLY SWEETS is playing the piano and singing "I'm Only A Bird In A Gilded Cage.”   SALLY finishes her tune and ALL applaud and cheer.  PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.


BART/MIKE: (Villain that he is, struts over to SALLY.)  Right powerful pair o' tonsils you got thare, little lady.

SALLY/RITA: (To say she is somewhat scatter-brained could be construed as a compliment.)  Thank you, Mr. Blackey.

BART/MIKE: Can I buys ya a drink?

SALLY/RITA: What'll I have?

BART/MIKE: What does ya want?

SALLY/RITA: What can I git?

BART/MIKE: Your heart's desire.

SALLY/RITA: Then, that's what I'll have.

BART/MIKE: And what'll that be?

SALLY/RITA: Whatever that is.

BART/MIKE: Whatever what is?

SALLY/RITA: Whatever you want, Mr. Blackey.

BART/MIKE: I gots what I want, m' little nightingale.

SALLY/RITA: And what'll that be?

BART/MIKE: Tarantula juice.

SALLY/RITA: Then, that's what it is.

BART/MIKE: I like a gal who knows her mind!

SALLY/RITA: Well, I certainly don't want to hear about it!  (Sits at table.)
BART/MIKE: (Sits next to her. Calling to bar:)  Hey, Grove!  Bring us a bottle o' that tarantula poizzon o' yorn and hop-to, little brother!  I gots me here the valedictorian of Dirty Gulch.

SALLY/RITA: (Giggles. Playfully slaps his arm.)  Hesh up!  You want them all t' know?  You can shows it to me later . . . out behind the livery stable.  (Giggles.)

BART/MIKE: (Aside. Curling his mustache.) Looks ta me like this little ol' gal is ripe fer learnin', and I'm the one gonna teach her a thang or two!  Ha, ha, ha!

SHERIFF/O.T.: (To GROVER.)  Ya got 'im in yor line o' vision?

GROVER/HAL: I'm a-eyein' him like a snake, Sheriff.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Good boy.  One wrong move and I'm runnin' him in.

GROVER/HAL: Sally's a-eyein' him like a snake, too.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Watch yor mouth, boy!

PRINCESS/ALYSON: (Rushes in.  She is wearing moccasins, a suede Indian dress with beads and she is crowned with a feathered headpiece more befitting an Indian chief than a princess.)  Messie Blackey!  Messie Blackey!

SHERIFF/O.T.: Hold on a minute!  Whoa, girlie!  Thare ain't no Injuns allowed in The Horse's Mouth Saloon.

PRINCESS/ALYSON: Me princess!

SHERIFF/O.T.: Goes double fer princesses.  Right, Grover?

GROVER/HAL: Yup.  We don't put no stock in that blue blood stuff 'round these parts.

PRINCESS/ALYSON: Me Princess Desert Flower.  Me no got blue blood.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Ya better flap yor feathers and fly outta here afore ya git what fer.

BART/MIKE: Ya heard the sheriff!  Git outside and keep m' saddle warm!

PRINCESS/ALYSON: Me got message.

BART/MIKE: Git out fors I de-featherfy ya!

GROVER/HAL: Well, I reckon we can make an exception in this case.  Waddaya say, Sheriff?

MARY/MARSHA: Yeah . . . let's hear what she's got to say.

SHERIFF/O.T.: All right.  But make it quick.  Talk and walk.

BART/MIKE: Well, waddaya want?  Speak up!  Stop standin' thare like ya just swallowed a horney toad!

PRINCESS/ALYSON: Me got message for tin badge.

BART/MIKE: Well, spit it out, bird brain!  (SALLY giggles.)

PRINCESS/ALYSON: Heap big fat lady get off stagecoach ask me see why sheriff not meet fat lady.  Fat lady break Sheriff back if he in dirty saloon.

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Fingering ear.)  Huh?

MARY/MARSHA: I think she means yor wife's a-gonna hatchetate ya if-n ya don't git on home, Sheriff.

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Tapping on hearing aid.)  Huh?

MARY/MARSHA: YOUR WIFE!

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Jumps up.)  Moses in the bull rushes!  The little lady is home from visitin' her sickly mom up north . . . rest her soul.

ALL: Rest her soul.

GROVER/HAL: Now hold on a minute, Sheriff.  Her ma ain't dead.

SHERIFF/O.T.: She ain't?  Well, I'll keep a-prayin'.  (He exits, re-enters, crosses back to GROVER.)  Grover, you keep an eye on ol' Bart whiles I sneaks out the back door.  (Crosses to exit.)

GROVER/HAL: Right, Sheriff.  (The SHERIFF exits.)

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Re-enters.)  What's that?

GROVER/HAL: Right, Sheriff.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Uh . . . right.  (Exits.)


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING.)


ALYSON: (Standing somewhere.)  Marsha, don't you think it looks a little awkward for me to just stand here during the entire scene?

MARSHA: No.

ALYSON: Well, it feels awkward. What if I crossed over to the piano bench and sat down?

MARSHA: This is eighteen-eighty, Alyson, and Indians do not sit on piano benches.

ALYSON: Well, couldn't I have just a little bit of business?

MARSHA: Why?  So you can upstage everybody?

ALYSON: I'm burning up, Marsha.  These lights are killing me!

MARSHA: Would you prefer we did your scenes in the dark?

ALYSON: It's this headdress, Marsha.  Why couldn't I have just one feather?  Whoever heard of a whole headdress for a princess?  If I don't die of heat stroke, my neck's going to snap from the weight of the feathers!

MARSHA: That would be a pity, wouldn't it, Alyson?

ALYSON: Yeah . . . a real tragedy.

MARSHA: Is this going to be another Streetcar, Alyson?  Are you going to cause dissension among the ranks here as well?

ALYSON: I didn't cause dissension, Marsha.  All I said was that Blanche was supposed to be crazy in that last scene and that you would have looked more in character if you came out of that bathroom a little more frumpy, instead of coming out in your mink and wearing more makeup and looking more glamorous, as it were, than when you first set foot in New Orleans.

MARSHA: I like to look good for curtain calls.  Besides, it was silver fox and it was what the director wanted.  Michael is a genius when it comes to theatre.

ALYSON: Really, Marsha?  You don't think his being your husband has just an itsy-bitsy, little something to do with it?

MARSHA: It might interest you to know that I had to beg and plead with Michael to give you the part of Stella . . . in spite of your age.  He wanted Sharon Martin.

ALYSON: Sharon Martin!  My God, Marsha!  Sharon Martin can't act her way out of that proverbial paper bag and she weighs over two hundred pounds!
MARSHA: Have you seen her lately?  She's lost at least sixty pounds.

ALYSON: And she's boxed-out of her mind on speed!

MARSHA: Nonetheless, you've got me to thank, Alyson.  Now, can we get on with the show?


(PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.)


JUDGE/BILL: (Entering with WIDOW DEERE.)  Howdy, folks!

GROVER/HAL & MARY/MARSHA: Howdy, Judge Sweets . . . Widow Deere.

WIDOW/EVELYN: (Turning to SALLY who is sitting in BART'S lap.) Sally Sweets!  You better high-tail it on home!

SALLY/RITA: I ain't a-doin' nuthin'.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Ya ain't?  Who's that man a-sittin' under ya?

SALLY/RITA: Ain't nobody.

BART/MIKE: Pleased ta meet ya, madam.

WIDOW/EVELYN: I ain't no madam!  You wanna talk like that you go over ta Lillie's place, young man!  (To SALLY.)  Now, I ain't a-gonna tell ya agin . . . git on home!

SALLY/RITA: (To JUDGE.)  Do I gotta, Pa?

JUDGE/BILL: She's gonna be yor Ma mighty soon, so's ya better start gittin' used ta heedin' her now.

SALLY/RITA: (To BART.)  I'll meet ya later . . . behind the livery stable.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Sally!

SALLY/RITA: (Rises. Crossing to exit.)  Going . . . going . . .

WIDOW/EVELYN: Git!

SALLY/RITA: Gone. (Exits.)

GROVER/HAL: What'll ya have, Judge . . . Widow Deere?

JUDGE/BILL: (Sitting at table with WIDOW DEERE.) I'll have a shot o' vinegaroonaide and a sass-per-elli fer the little lady.

GROVER/HAL: Comin' up!

WIDOW/EVELYN: (After a pause. To JUDGE.)  Thare's an Injun standin' by the door.

JUDGE/BILL: (Turns to look at the PRINCESS who appears to be about to topple over.)  So thare is.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Well . . . what's she doin' thare?

JUDGE/BILL: I don't know.  Maybe she's passin' out cigars.  (GROVER delivers drinks.)  Thank ya, Grover.  Say, what's that thare Injun a-doin' over thare?

GROVER/HAL: Standin'.

JUDGE/BILL: I can see she's a-standin' . . . but, why is she a-standin'?

GROVER/HAL: 'Cause we don't allow no injuns ta sit in saloons.  It's territorial law.  (Flashes glance to MARY who smiles back through clenched teeth.)  Or somethin' like that.  Anyways, we don't allow no sittin' Injuns in The Horse's Mouth.

WIDOW/EVELYN: It looks bad, Grover Oats.  It looks bad.  In my day Injuns knew thare place.  Ya know what I mean?

GROVER/HAL: Oh, she's a-keepin' it.  (The PRINCESS looks very unhappy.)

WIDOW/EVELYN: Where'd she come from?

GROVER/HAL: Tulsa.

JUDGE/BILL: Tulsa?  What tribe is that?

GROVER/HAL: Don't rightly know.  The sheriff says ol' Bart Blackey won her in a poker game.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Looks like he lost the game, if-n ya ask me.  Dirty Gulch is a God-fearin' town.  I hope he doesn't take ta sittin' under her, too.

GROVER/HAL: I'll keep m' eye on 'im.  (Returns to bar.)

MARY/MARSHA: (Crosses to table where BART is sitting and sits.)  Are you as bad as they say you is?

BART/MIKE: Badder, lady.  Badder.
MARY/MARSHA: (Fans herself. Impressed.)  Oh, my!

BART/MIKE: Yup!  I'm the meanest, toughest, roughest, nastiest, most mendacious, malicious, cantankerous, treacherous varmint ever to walk this earth!

MARY/MARSHA: (Very impressed.)  Good heavens!  I'm Mary Holiday.  I live upstairs over the saloon.   If-n anybody cares ta know.

BART/MIKE: Well, somebody jest might, little lady.  Somebody jest might.  Ha, ha, ha!  (Aside.  Curling mustache.)  Looks ta me like it's a-gonna be a real busy night!  Mighty busy . . . if ya know what I mean.  Ha, ha, ha.


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING illuminates the table where MIKE and MARSHA are seated.)


MARSHA: (To MIKE.) I'm going to kill that bitch!  She's been nothing but trouble from day one.

MIKE: Let it go.

MARSHA: I don't know how you put up with her all through Streetcar.  Honestly, Michael!  If you had cast Sharon Martin as I suggested, we might be rid of Mrs. Douglas Barrett by now!

MIKE: Sharon Martin can't act her way out of a paper bag.  Besides, she's as big as a house and strung-out on diet pills.

MARSHA: Oh, that seems to be everybody's excuse.

MIKE: Alyson did raise over twenty thousand for the building fund this year.

MARSHA: (Correcting him.)  Nearly.

MIKE: What?

MARSHA: Nearly, nearly.  Alyson Barrett raised nearly twenty thousand dollars, not over.

MIKE: Nearly.  Over.  Close enough, Marsha.

MARSHA: Well, I could raise more than that were I married to her money.

MIKE: I'm sorry you're not.

MARSHA: I didn't mean it that way, Michael.  I mean, look at all her connections.  I hold this place together year after year and look at the thanks I get.  Don't forget it was daddy who donated the land for this den of despots!

MIKE: Nobody's forgotten, Marsha. You won't let them.

MARSHA: They're trying to take it over.

MIKE: What . . . who?

MARSHA: The Playhouse. The board is trying to push me out and take over The Playhouse.

MIKE: Marsha, would you listen to yourself.

MARSHA: They are, Michael, they are! They're trying to takeover the whole goddamned shooting match!

MIKE: Maybe, that's what they think you're trying to do.

MARSHA: I just love this place more than anybody could possibly imagine. My life is here. Nobody loves theatre more than I do. I am theatre.

MIKE: (Comforting.) I know . . . and that's why I want you to stop making yourself sick over nothing.

MARSHA: Nothing? All the years of labor . . . the love I have poured into this theatre, nothing?

MIKE: That's not what I was talking about.

MARSHA: I have dedicated my life . . . my soul for The Playhouse.  That's something. Not nothing . . . something. Something! Don't you understand that this is all I've got?  Oh, God!  There must be something better.

MIKE: Ease off a little.  Let them have their way with all the petty things.

MARSHA: What petty things?

MIKE: Petty things . . . you know, things that don't really matter.  Give in once in a while.  Throw people a bone every so often and let them think you're on their side.

MARSHA: (Finding this very interesting.) You're right.  You are perfectly right.  What would I do without you, Michael?


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING rises where ALYSON is standing. MARSHA rises and crosses into the light.)


MARSHA: Al, I was thinking . . .

ALYSON: (Curt.) That could be dangerous, Marsha.

MARSHA: (Ignoring the remark.) Suppose the next time I'm in Midland, I hunt you down one of those cute little beaded Indian headbands with one little old feather sticking out of it?  Any color you'd like.  What would you say to that?

ALYSON: I'd say, you're putting me on.

MARSHA: Seriously, Alyson.

ALYSON: Seriously?  I'd say, it would be a damned-sight better than these twenty pounds of molting turkey feathers that are giving me such a freaking headache!

MARSHA: Then, that's just what I'll do.  Oh, by the way . . . guess what I saw today?

ALYSON: I can't imagine, Marsha.

MARSHA: Well, I was in the library doing some research . . . looking for some inspiration for adding some authenticity to our little production.  Note that I say our, Al. Our production.  For it is, isn't it?  I mean, we're all in this together.  Each a little cog in the big wheel we call theatre . . . each with our separate little duty . . . pulling together . . . working together . . .

ALYSON: (Cutting her off.)  And your point is?

MARSHA: Well, there in the Derrick Public Library, what do you think I saw?

ALYSON: Your life flashing before your eyes?

MARSHA: Don't lose that sense of humor, Alyson.  It may well be your best trait.  What I saw was a photograph.  A very old photograph, circa eighteen-eighty.  And what do you think it was a photograph of?

ALYSON: Your prom night?

MARSHA: Really, Alyson, your repartee is quite remarkable.  It was a photograph of a sweet little Indian maiden seated as plain as day on what I detected to be a piano bench.  So you may sit!  (Indicates bench.)  You may sit through the entire scene over there on the piano bench!

ALYSON: (Crossing to bench.  To MIKE as she passes behind him.)  How do you live with that bitch?

MARSHA: What was that, Alyson?

ALYSON: I said, these freaking feathers make me itch!  (Sits on bench.)

MARSHA: Then scratch in character, dear.  Remember, you're an actress. (Crosses to bar and sits on barstool.)


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING rises around the table where EVELYN and BILL are seated. The rest of the stage goes into darkness. ALYSON should remove her headdress at this time, dropping it behind the piano, and replacing it with a single feather in a headband.)


EVELYN: Poor Marsha, she works so hard.  What would The Playhouse do without her?

BILL: Oh, give me a break, Evelyn.  We'd do what we always do and we'd all be a lot better off.

EVELYN: Poo.

BILL: Unless the board takes some sort of action, we won't have a playhouse.  She's run off every actor, director and every volunteer of any sort.  And the audiences are dwindling, too.

EVELYN: Poo.

BILL: It's not poo.

EVELYN: Poo, Bill, poo.  I'm sure if we all sat down together and talked this all out we could clear the air.

BILL: Now, that's poo!  We've tried and you know it.

EVELYN: Not hard enough.  (MARSHA suddenly appears at the edge of the light where she can be seen eavesdropping on this conversation. BILL and EVELYN continue unaware of her presence.)  You weren't here when we used to get together at old Tom Cornell's house and put together plays that we'd perform in a hangar over on the old air base.

BILL: I know . . . I know . . .

EVELYN: All the time it was Marsha holding us together.  Dreaming and scheming about how one day we'd have a theatre of our own.  You weren't there, Bill.  She worked and begged and pleaded until old Tom finally gave in and donated this land and enough money to get The Playhouse going.

BILL: That was then, Evelyn.  This is now.  Did you know I wrote that one-woman show she's running around doing for whomever will have her . . . getting ready for her "big opening" at the country club.  "Marsha Cornell-Simmons are Great Ladies of the Theatre."  Marsha Cornell-Simmons are . . . how absurd!

EVELYN: How could you have written it, Bill?  I thought it was excerpts from Shakespeare and things like that.

BILL: Well, it is.  But somebody had to do all the research and put it all together.

EVELYN: That's hardly the same thing.  You know, Bill, I think you're jealous.

BILL: No, I'm not. I just want credit where credit's due.

EVELYN: Poo.

BILL: I propose we call an emergency meeting of the board to discuss how we can handle this situation.

EVELYN: And what situation would that be?

BILL: I'm talking about poor attendance, low turn-out for auditions, the gossip, the rumors, the back-stabbing, all the people who have come and gone and won't come back to The Playhouse until she's out.

EVELYN: Mike and Marsha are members of the board.  We'll have to inform them of any meeting.

BILL: No, we won't.  We'll have a quorum without them.

EVELYN: I don't like this and I don't think you're being fair.  This is no way to run an organization.  Our bylaws specifically state that all members must be informed of any meeting where any official business is to take place.

BILL: I'm talking about the welfare of The Playhouse.

EVELYN: You're not talking about any such thing.


(BILL looks up and catches a glimpse of MARSHA as she moves out of the light and back to the barstool.)


BILL: (Obviously shaken. ) All that work . . . just for her . . . because I loved her . . . and she never even said "thank you."

EVELYN: Poo.


(PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.)


WIDOW/EVELYN: (Rising.)  Come along, Judge.  I got a might load o' chores fer ya ta be a-doin'.

JUDGE/BILL: (Rises.)  Ain't even tied da knot and she's a-workin' me ta death!

WIDOW/EVELYN: (Pushing JUDGE toward exit. ) Hesh up and let's git a-goin'.  That mouth o' yours is gonna git ya in a might load o' trouble one o' these days.

JUDGE/BILL: (At door. To GROVER.)  Let this be a lesson to ya, boy!

WIDOW/EVELYN: Move it!

GROVER/HAL: Take 'er easy, Judge . . . Widow Deere.  (JUDGE and WIDOW exit.)

MARY/MARSHA: Lemme have another shot o' that thare red-eye, Grover.


(The RECORDED SOUND of a barrage of GUNFIRE.)


SHERIFF/O.T.: (Rushes in and announces:)  Thare's a gunfight goin' on over at Madam Lillie's!

ALL A gunfight?!


(The SHERIFF exits, followed by MARY and GROVER with his shotgun taken from under the bar-counter. BART and PRINCESS DESERT FLOWER are left alone onstage.)


BART/MIKE: (Rises. Crosses to PRINCESS.)  They fell right into m' trap.  While they's all over at Madam Lillie's, the rest o' m' boys is relievin' the bank o' all its assets. Ha, ha, ha!

PRINCESS/ALYSON: You heap bad, Blackey.

BART/MIKE: Sheddup, you redskin heathen!  If'n I want a squawk outta you I'll pluck yor feather!
PRINCESS/ALYSON: Me like it when you talk bad to Princess.

BART/MIKE: Gimme a kiss, you red devil in buckskin!  (He reaches down, gathers her up into his arms.  THEY embrace and kiss.)


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING, leaving the stage dark except for area surrounding MIKE and ALYSON.)

ALYSON: (Pulling away.)  No.

MIKE: No?

ALYSON: Marsha knows.

MIKE: She doesn't even suspect.  Believe me.

ALYSON: I'm certain of it, Mike.  Nothing gets by her, nothing.  You see how she treats me?  Like a bug!

MIKE: Marsha treats everybody like a bug.

ALYSON: I'm telling you she knows . . . and God only knows what she's capable of.

MIKE: Trust me.  (THEY embrace and kiss.)

BLACKOUT.  

END ACT ONE – Scene 2


ACT ONE – Scene 3

MARY HOLIDAY and MISS LULU are alone onstage and seated at table.  PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.


LULU/LORI: (Dressed in the manner of a "working girl" employed by Madam Lillie.)  Terrible! Terrible!  The house is all shot up.  The girls have all run away.  Madam Lillie's as dead as dead can be.

MARY/MARSHA: Fo' shame.  Fo' shame.  Did ya see the man what shot her?

LULU/LORI: Nobody shot her, Miss Mary.  She got herself Sodom and Go-mori-fied!

MARY/MARSHA: Sodom and Go-mori-fied?

LULU/LORI: Yup!  The Bible done did her in.

MARY/MARSHA: The poor woman.  In her time of trouble she went fer the Bible.

LULU/LORI: No.  She went fer the gun . . . the gun what she kept a-hidden 'tween the covers of the Bible.  Ya see, she cut a hole in the pages of the Old Testiment . . . and that's where she kept her little pearl-handle.

MARY/MARSHA: But, how'd she git herself done in?

LULU/LORI: Well, when she opened the Bible she got ta readin' 'bout Sodom and Go-mori and got herself so riled up and angry she slammed shut the covers of the Good Book with such a wallop it triggered her little pearl-handle.

MARY/MARSHA: Fo' shame.  Fo' shame.

LULU/LORI: Yup. The bullet came right through the bindin' and hit her square 'tween the eyes!  And that's how she got herself Sodom and Go-mori-fied.

MARY/MARSHA: My-o-my.  The Lord works in strange ways.

LULU/LORI: That He does.

MARY/MARSHA: You poor baby.  You jest sit right here and I'll bring ya a shot o' Grover's guaranteed pick-me-upper.  (Rises. Crosses to bar.)


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING.)


MARSHA: (At bar, pouring drink.)  Lori.

LORI: Yeah, Ma?

MARSHA: Are you sure the Cooper boy isn't making all this up?

LORI: Blake Cooper wouldn't make up a thing like that.  He's on the football team, Mother.

MARSHA: Is there some sort of connection between sports and honesty?

LORI: He's an Armadillo, Mother!

MARSHA: (Incredulous.)  Well, I guess that puts him above scrutiny, doesn't it?  I mean, if you can't trust an Armadillo, who can you trust?  No trouble getting into the Supreme Court for him.

LORI: The Armadillos have the highest quad-A rating in the state.

MARSHA: I'm sure that must mean something, Lori.  Still, that's a pretty serious accusation, even for an Armadillo.

LORI: Mother, it's common knowledge what Mr. Walker is.

MARSHA: (Returning with glass.)  Well, I know Bill's different, Lori.

LORI: A fag, Mother.  Bill Walker's queer bait.

MARSHA: That doesn't mean he's a bad teacher.

LORI: Oh, Mother, you're such an innocent?

MARSHA: (Innocently demure.)  Well, maybe.  You know me, sweetheart . . . another time, another generation.  I’m old-fashioned, I admit it.  My innocence blushes.

LORI: Mother, are you rehearsing something?  I mean, is that from something?

MARSHA: From my heart, Lori.

LORI: Besides, it's only the cute boys he keeps after school.  Ask anybody.

MARSHA: Well, maybe it's the cute boys who've got the most to learn.

LORI: Mother, really.  Be serious.

MARSHA: So, why didn't the boy's mother go to the police or the Superintendent of Schools?

LORI: I don't know. Maybe, he didn't tell his mother. I mean, there are things I don't tell you.

MARSHA: What kind of things?

LORI: Things, just things.  Sometimes I think you're from the Stone Age . . . like really Paleozoic, you know?  He's going to Texas A and M in the fall.
MARSHA: Who is?

LORI: Blake Cooper.

MARSHA: Ah . . . the Armadillo.  I thought you said he's on the football team?

LORI: He is . . . well, he was.  You're so literal, Mother.  He sat right in front of me during graduation.  I don't know how you could have missed him.  What a hunk!  It's a wonder Mr. Walker didn't rip his jeans off right there in class and perform fellatio on him.

MARSHA: LORI!  Where on earth did you ever learn such a thing?

LORI: Honestly, Mother.  This is a new century.  Lighten up.

MARSHA: When I was your age, Missy, I was . . .

LORI: Still a virgin, right?

MARSHA: (Genuinely shocked.)  WHAT?!  You don't mean to tell me that you're . . .

LORI: (Cutting her off.)  I don't mean to tell you anything, Mother.

MARSHA: Get upstairs!

LORI: Why?


(PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.)


MARY/MARSHA: Go on, Miss Lulu.  You git along upstairs and rest a spell.

LULU/LORI: I could do with a rest, Miss Mary.  You're so kind to me.  (Rises.)  You know, most women wouldn't walk across the street with a girl like me . . . what with the kind o' business I'm in and all.  You're a good woman, Mary Holiday.  I can almost see the glow of purity radiatin' all around you.  (Exits upstairs.)


(There is a long pause while MARY paces back and forth. Suddenly, POLLY UPSTRINGER enters, wearing a bonnet and bouncing through the swinging doors – looking like a plump Bo-Peep.)


POLLY/DORIS: Mary Holiday! Mary Holiday!

MARY/MARSHA: Why, Polly Upstringer, the sheriff's wife!  Whatever brings you in here?  To what do I owe the pleasure?


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING.)


DORIS: (She plops into a chair at a table. The flighty sweetness of her entrance quickly turns sour.)  Cut the bullshit, Marsha!  You know perfectly well why I'm here.  If that sorry, sick, fag sonofabitch is going to remain in this play, I want to know why!

MARSHA: Well, I can't very well throw him out now . . . can I, Doris?  Who else can we get to play the Judge?

DORIS: Then, what do you plan to do about it?

MARSHA: That's why I phoned you, Doris.  I thought I could bounce a few things off you, so to speak.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but we don't really want that sort of character on our board of directors, do we?

DORIS: Can you prove any of this?

MARSHA: Oh, I'd say I had enough information to make it rather hot for him.

DORIS: Pervert!

MARSHA: Now, let's not be too harsh . . . or too quick to judge.

DORIS: Marsha, you're the one who said he was screwing around with his students.  You can't throw a cow patty without getting a little stink on you.  Now, was he or wasn't he?

MARSHA: I was only repeating what I heard, Doris.  Although, it did come from a very reliable source.  Still, we mustn't jump to conclusions.

DORIS: I'd like to run his sorry ass out of town.  I knew there was something sleazy about that man!

MARSHA: We all did, Doris.  But first, let's concentrate on replacing him on our board of directors.  That is, if you think he should be replaced.

DORIS: Of course I do!

MARSHA: Well, I was thinking . . . who would be the best choice?

DORIS: And?

MARSHA: When Daddy donated the land . . . you did know that the land The Playhouse sits on was donated by my father, didn't you?

DORIS: (Impatient.)  Yes, Marsha.  From here to El Paso they know it.

MARSHA: You don't have to be rude about it.

DORIS: Tch.  (Slaps her own wrist.)  Sorry.

MARSHA: When daddy donated the land he said, "Marshmallow" – he called me Marshmallow – “Marshmallow, you see that everybody takes good care of everything.  You wanted your little playhouse, now it's up to you to take good care of it."

DORIS: (Growing more impatient.)  Get on with it, Marsha!

MARSHA: On his deathbed he said it.

DORIS: That's very nice.  Really, it is.  But who was it you were thinking would be the best choice?

MARSHA: (Coy.)  The best choice?  The best choice for what, Doris?

DORIS: For the board, Marsha.  The goddamned board!

MARSHA: Oh, well, it would have to be someone who knows what The Playhouse is all about.  Its roots, so to speak.

DORIS: And?

MARSHA: And someone who cares enough to see that management doesn't fall into the wrong hands, if you know what I mean.

DORIS: I think I've got the gist, Marsha.

MARSHA: Well?

DORIS: Well, what?

MARSHA: It's you, Doris, you.

DORIS: (All saccharine.)  No?  Me?  Really?  Oh, I couldn't!

MARSHA: Of course you could.

DORIS: All right.  Now that I think about it . . . (Remembers something.)  Oh! Oh, oh, oh!

MARSHA: What is it?

DORIS: Evelyn Forester said that that fag was talking about getting together some sort of secret board meeting.

MARSHA: I know.

DORIS: You do?  You're not supposed to.  How did you find out?

MARSHA: I've my ways.  Anything else?

DORIS: That's all I know.  Besides, I'm not privy – like some of us we know – to all the intrigue and espionage that goes on around here.

MARSHA: I wouldn't exactly call it that, Doris.

DORIS: You wouldn't?  Good God Almighty, Marsha!  The doings around here would make the CIA blush.  This place is like a training camp for the Taliban!

MARSHA: Now, Doris, we're only volunteers, working gratis, doing our best to run a little ol' community theatre.

DORIS: Well, thank God none of you are nuclear armed.

MARSHA: Can I count on you, Doris?

DORIS: Honey, you can always count on me.

MARSHA: And Evelyn? Where does she stand?

DORIS: In the middle of the road.  Where else has she ever been known to stand?

MARSHA: And Hal?

DORIS: Hal?  Marsha, you ought to know better than I about Hal.

MARSHA: What ever do you mean?

DORIS: Cut the bull, Marsha.  Everybody knows the two of you have a thing going.

MARSHA: A thing?

DORIS: A thing . . . a thing!  You do know what a thing is, don't you?

MARSHA: Well . . . that depends . . .

DORIS Marsha, let's make a deal.  You cut the bull and the games and I'll deal you a straight hand.  You know what I'm saying?

MARSHA: (After a pause. ) Everybody?

DORIS: Maybe not everybody.  But, since I'm usually the last to find out anything around this rifle range, I think it's safe to assume that Rita knows . . . and O.T. knows. . . and Alyson knows, and of course the fruit knows.  But I don't think Evelyn knows . . . or if she does, she's keeping quiet.  And certainly not Mike because if he knew then you'd know.  So, I think it's safe to assume that he's pretty much left in the dark.  Well, I don't want to seem pushy, Marsha, but how do you propose going about getting me on the board?

MARSHA: Leave it to me. I can handle it.

DORIS: (Crossing to piano.)  I've no doubt.  And the pervert?

MARSHA: When I'm done with Mr. William Walker, that sonofabitch will wish he'd never heard of Derrick, Texas!

DORIS: That's what I like about you, Marsha . . . you're so demure.

MARSHA: (Quotes Lady Macbeth.) "Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil. If he do bleed I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt."


(DORIS begins to play the piano.)


DORIS & MARSHA: (Sing.) THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS


(While they are singing, BILL enters. DORIS and MARSHA quickly become aware of his presence and stop singing.)


DORIS: (Rising - nervously.)  Well, Marsha, I've got to study my lines. I t's such an enormous part for me.  (Crossing to exit.)  Oh, hello, Bill.

BILL: Doris.

DORIS: Well . . . bye, everybody.  (Exits.)

BILL: I've got to talk to you.

MARSHA: Sure, Bill.  What's up?

BILL: It's delicate.

MARSHA: Well, you can tell me, Bill.  I'm your friend.

BILL: Someone's been calling members of the school board and accusing me of . . . immoral turpitude.

MARSHA: You're not serious?

BILL: I'm afraid I am.  You don't know anything about who might be making those calls, do you?

MARSHA: How could I possibly, Bill?  This is the first I've heard of it.  How awful this must be for you.

BILL: If I give them my resignation it will be handled quietly.  We can avoid a public scandal.

MARSHA: But of course you're innocent.  You'll fight it, won't you?

BILL: They'd never believe me, Marsha.  Most already know I'm gay.  At least, they suspect it.  In a little West Texas town like Derrick the accusation alone is tantamount to a conviction.

MARSHA: I'm stunned.  People can be so vicious, can’t they?  If there's anything I can do to be of help just let me know.

BILL: What are they saying about this around The Playhouse?

MARSHA: As I said, this is the first I've heard of it.  Although, Doris Powell did make a disparaging remark about you being . . . you know.

BILL: What I know is, somebody is really out to get me.

MARSHA: It does look like that, doesn't it?  It's appalling, the level some people will sink to.  But I wouldn't put too much stock into anything Doris Powell might say.  She just takes her religion very literally.

BILL: What did I do, Marsha?  What would make someone so angry they'd do this to me?

MARSHA: I'm sure I can't say, Bill. I guess you'll have to search your soul for an answer. I don't want to sound cold, but I'm wondering if this is going to affect our little melodrama in any way?

BILL: I don't see how.  I'm committed to it.

MARSHA: Oh, good.

BILL: Christ!  I'd rather be accused of robbing a bank . . . or good ol' heterosexual rape.  Even a mass murderer would get more sympathy in this town!

MARSHA: You don't think that's a bit melodramatic?  (After a pause.)  By the way, did I ever say thank you for all your help with Great Ladies of the Theatre?  I'm sure I must have.  Wouldn't you agree?

BILL: (A scrutinizing pause before it dawn on him.) You were there, weren't you . . . behind the flats . . . listening from backstage?

MARSHA: Listening from backstage?  I assure you that I have no idea what you're talking about, sweetie.

BLACK OUT. 


END ACT ONE – Scene 3
ACT ONE - Scene 4


GROVER OATS is behind the bar, MARY HOLIDAY is posed on a barstool, PRINCESS DESERT FLOWER is seated on the piano bench, BART BLACKEY and SALLY SWEETS are seated at a table, SHERIFF UPSTRINGER and the WIDOW DEERE are seated at another table.  There is an argument in progress.  PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.


GROVER/HAL: Hold it down!  Hold it down!  (He pulls out his shotgun and points it heavenward.)  Quiet!  Don't make me pull the trigger on this here thing!  The Sheriff he's got somethin' ta say!  (A long pause.)  I said, the Sheriff he's got somethin' ta say!

MARY/MARSHA: (Getting SHERIFF'S attention.)  Sheriff!

SHERIFF/O.T. (Fingering ear.)  Right!  Well, as ya'll know they got away with the whole . . . whole . . . whole . . . (Looking about - panicked.) . . . whole . . .

MARY/MARSHA: (Helping him out.)  Do ya mean the kittinkaboodle?

SHERIFF/O.T.: Sure 'nough!  The whole kittinkaboodle . . . and the whole enchilada, too!  And poor Madam Nellie's stretched out on her back . . . for the very last time.  Rest her soul.

ALL: Rest her soul.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Blowed away by the word o' God!

ALL: Amen.

MARY/MARSHA: Waddaya gonna do about it, Sheriff?

SHERIFF/O.T.: Bury her, I reckon.

MARY/MARSHA: I mean, waddaya gonna do about them that's got away?

ALL: (General ad lib.)  Yeah, waddaya gonna do about them that's got away?

GROVER/HAL: Quiet down!  Quiet down!  Ya'll hesh up so's-n the Sheriff can talk!  (A long SILENCE.  Repeats SHERIFF'S cue.) . . . So's-n the sheriff can talk!

SHERIFF/O.T.: Ain't nothin' we can do 'bout it till mornin'.  They's got away in the sandstorm wid all da hosses.

MARY/MARSHA: All da hosses, ya say?

SHERIFF/O.T.: Yup . . . and thare ain't a hoss ta be had.

ALL: (General ad lib.)  Ain't no hosses.  Not a one.  No hosses . . .

GROVER/HAL: Quiet down!


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING.)


HAL: Quiet down, please.  Ms. Pipes, as you all know, is secretary to the Superintendent of Schools.  So, why don't we all listen to what she has to say.  Rita, you've got the floor.

RITA: As I was saying, the boy was questioned by our office and, at present, there seems to be no hard evidence for legal action.

O.T.: Where there's smoke there's fire.

RITA: The boy himself never made the accusation.

HAL: So, all we have to go on are a series of anonymous phone calls to the office of the Superintendent of Schools and, of course, our knowledge of Bill's sexual preference.

RITA: We always knew that.

HAL: But it sure doesn't go in his favor now, does it?

O.T.: Now that we all know how the man swings, I say we got an open and shut case.

HAL: This isn't a jury, Mr. Taylor.  As it is, I seriously doubt that Mr. Walker will have a job to return to in the fall.

O.T.: I would hope, for the good of our community and the welfare of our children, that Mr. Walker has the common human decency to tender his resignation.  I would also be mighty careful, if I was him, about who I turned my back on.  There ain't no telling what somebody's libel to go and do.  Ya'll know what the Bible has to say about his kind.  A man could go and get himself shot, if you know what I mean.

HAL: All right, all right.  Let's all calm down.  We don't need to get into that. I appreciate your position, Mr. Taylor.  But, this isn't the proper forum for that kind of discussion.

O.T.: (Tapping hearing aid.)  What . . . what?

HAL: I said, this isn't the place for that kind of discussion.

O.T.: Are you telling me that the Word of God has no place in The Playhouse?

HAL: All I'm saying is that I appreciate that this is an emotionally charged issue.  Rita has prepared a letter informing Bill of our intent to dismiss him from the board of directors . . . and which we have unanimously approved.  (ALYSON raises her hand.)  I stand corrected.  Will the secretary note one abstention: Alyson Barrett.

RITA: Noted.
HAL: Now, concerning the nomination of Doris Powell, any further discussion?  (Silence.)  All in favor signify by saying aye.

ALL: (Except ALYSON.)  Aye.

HAL: Opposed?  (Silence.)  Motion carried.  Any new business?

MARSHA: Yes.  Who will we get to play the Judge?

ALYSON: Why don't you play it, Marsha?

MARSHA: I don't see how that's possible, dear heart.

ALYSON: You don't?  Why with all your faces I'm sure you'll figure something out.

MARSHA: You give me far too much credit.

ALYSON: You know something, Mrs. Cornell-Simmons . . . you're a regular farce!  A goddamned, one-woman, bonified tragic extravaganza!

MARSHA: I'm sure you've misunderstood some act of kindness or . . .

ALYSON: Get real!  You staged this whole little fiasco.  I just want to be here when the karma comes back around . . . bitch.

O.T.: Now, Mrs. Barrett, you really don't mean to say such . . .

ALYSON: (Cutting him off - sharply.)  Shut up!  Don't you freaking tell me what I mean or don't mean, you Bible thumping sonofabitch!  Who the hell do you think you are!?  (Turning on everyone.)  Where in hell do all you people get off, huh?  What a bunch of hypocrites!

MARSHA: (Calmly.) Alyson?

ALYSON: WHAT?

MARSHA: Does this mean we'll have to find ourselves another Princess Desert Flower?

ALYSON You're priceless, Marsha.  You really are.  In fact, you're altogether something else. Other-worldly.  It's uncanny to think you really have blood flowing through those veins of yours.  The thought of you as really belonging to the human race frightens the shit out of me.

MARSHA: So, what are you saying?  Is that a yes or a no?

ALYSON: Don't worry, honey. I'm going to play this through to the bitter end.  I'll be a Princess you'll never forget!

MARSHA: You already are, dear.

ALYSON: (She loses it.)  I'll kill you . . . 
(Rushing MARSHA, ALYSON attacks her.  MARSHA screams.  They fall to the floor, fists flying.   HAL and O.T. rush over to separate them.)  

ALYSON: (Continues.)  You sorry bitch! 
 
(HAL and O.T. get caught-up in the fight and take a few punches from the ladies.  ALYSON shakes herself loose of O.T.’S grip.) 

ALYSON: (Continues.)  You sorry sonsofbitches! I'd check the bullets in the prop guns were I any of you!  (Exits.)


(Smalltalk follows with phrases such as: "What got into her?" and "What did she mean by that?" . . . etc.)


MARSHA: (To MIKE, over the din of chatter.)  You were certainly a big help, Michael!

MIKE: It all happened so fast.  What could I do?

MARSHA: I don't know.  Something better than your bump on a log impression!

HAL: Let's have some order, please!  (Pause for order.)  I propose that in the light of our current situation we cancel the melodrama.

MARSHA: No!  No, no, no, no, no!  Michael, say something!

MIKE Do you really think that will be necessary, Hal?

HAL: I don't see any alternative.  We don't have a Judge and it now looks like we don't have a Princess, either.

MARSHA: Of course we do.  You all heard Alyson say she was going to see it through "to the bitter end."  Regardless of what some of you may think of Alyson, she is not a quitter.

RITA: Nobody said anything about . . .

MARSHA: (Stopping her.)  And that's to everybody's credit.  Now, hear me out.  (Extravagantly noble.)  I certainly hope none of you are thinking about asking Alyson for her resignation just because of one little old outburst, even if it wasn't her first.

O.T.: What about that stunt she pulled at the Charley's Aunt cast party?

MARSHA: And you'd be in your right to hold a grudge, O.T.  Was Leota Ruth able to get all that guacamole out of your suit?

O.T.: Well, yes . . .

MARSHA: See?  No damage done.  Please, let's not make any hasty decisions.  Alyson Barrett has been one of our most dedicated workers.  Remember, it was Alyson who, almost single-handedly, raised nearly twenty thousand dollars for our little theatre.

RITA: I think it was over twenty thousand, Marsha.

MARSHA: Rita, if you check your books, you'll see that it was nearly, not over.

O.T.: (A bit put-out.)  Well, I helped a little, Marsha.

MARSHA: And didn't we all?  In fact, I supplied her with all the contacts.  Michael and I spent hours upon hours compiling that list, but that's neither here nor there.  Let's give credit where credit is due.

O.T.: If you ask me, you're too kind.

MARSHA: I can't help myself, O.T.  It's just my nature.

RITA: Maybe we should hold off on Alyson's plaque of appreciation.

HAL: It's already been voted on and passed, Rita.

RITA: Since when has that ever meant anything around here?

EVELYN: What does she mean by that?  (Looking around and getting no response from anyone.)  O.T., what does she mean by that?

MARSHA: Evelyn, I'm sure Rita meant that in the best possible sense.  It's a compliment to us as the governing body to be flexible, open minded, willing and able to change directions when the need arises.

RITA: That's exactly what I meant, Marsha.

MARSHA: Of course it was.

EVELYN: (To herself.)  Poo.

MARSHA: Now, about that "check the bullets in the prop guns" remark.  Who could possibly take that seriously?  But, in case anybody's worried, I, personally, will be responsible for props from now on.

O.T.: Still . . .

MARSHA: I know, O.T., I know.  That Bible-thumping-you-know-what remark didn't set well with me, either.  But you know theatre people – always on stage.  God love us.  That's show biz.  I know that I'm certainly willing to forgive and forget . . . if it's for the good of The Playhouse.

HAL: Rita, has that plaque been sent to the engraver yet?

RITA: No, sir.

HAL: All in favor of holding off on the plaque until we've given it further consideration signify by saying aye.

ALL: Aye.

HAL: Motion carried.

O.T.: That still leaves us without a Judge.

MARSHA: Not necessarily.  As far as Bill Walker is concerned, we can hold off on his dismissal until after Massacre closes.  Why change horses in mid-stream?  You all heard Rita say that the office of the Superintendent of Schools had "no hard evidence."

O.T.: (To himself.)  Pervert!

MARSHA: Who are we to judge?  God knows we're all guilty of something.

EVELYN: Poo.

MARSHA: Come on, Evelyn.  I've seen you parking in those spaces reserved for cripples.  None of us are innocent.  However, when his name first went into nomination I had my doubts.  Remember?

O.T.: It was a big mistake!

MARSHA: We're all entitled to one, O.T.  (Turning.)  Rita, who was it nominated him?

RITA: (Reluctantly.)  Well . . . it was you, Marsha.

MARSHA: No, no, no.  That was just a formality in the due process of Parliamentary Procedure.  I mean, whose idea was it to have him on the board in the first place?

RITA: (Uncertain - hesitant.)  Alyson's?

MARSHA: Of course!  How could I have forgotten.  Well, who among us isn't guilty of being a bad judge of character one time or another?

O.T.: But Marsha . . .

MARSHA: (Holding up her hand, cutting O.T. off.  Magnanimously.)  No, no, no.  Let's be practical.  I, for one, do not want to do anything to bring disgrace down upon our little theatre, or our little melodrama.  As they say, the show must go on.

O.T.: But, Marsha . . .

MARSHA: Let me finish, O.T.   God knows how I'm torn-up about this whole affair.  I don't know how these rumors got started about poor Mr. Walker.  They seem to have a life of their own, but it also seems to me that . . .

O.T.: Marsha, it was you who called this emergency meeting!

MARSHA: ME?!   (Looking about innocently.)  Good heavens, no!  I just wanted us all to sit down together over a friendly cup of coffee so we could put an end to all those vicious rumors – however grounded in fact they may, or may not, be.  Why, my phone's been buzzing right off the hook all week!  All those people who come to see our little plays calling me.  Calling me because they don't know anybody else to call.

O.T.: Then who?

MARSHA: What does it matter now. I say the show must go on.

MIKE: Here, here!

MARSHA: Thank you, Michael.

HAL: Rita, perhaps we should hold off sending that letter to Mr. Walker until after the melodrama closes.

RITA: Yes, sir.

HAL: And I will inform Doris Powell of our decision to place her on our board of directors right after we adjourn.

MARSHA: Then it's settled?  Massacre At Dirty Gulch goes on as planned?

HAL: All in favor signify by saying aye.

ALL: Aye.

HAL: Motion carried. Now, about who's bringing what to the cast party...


(PERFORMANCE LIGHTING. JUDGE enters with gun in hand.  A sudden SILENCE.  ALL eyes are on JUDGE.)


GROVER/HAL: Wait a minute!

BART/MIKE: (Jumping up from chair.) Everybody stay calm!


BLACK OUT.

END ACT ONE


ACT TWO – Scene 1

AT RISE: ALL are as they were at end of ACT ONE.  PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.


JUDGE/BILL: (With gun in hand.)  Don't a one o' ya move!

SHERIFF/O.T.: What's the matter, Judge?

JUDGE/BILL: Where's that Injun gal?

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Crossing to JUDGE.) She went on the warpath, Judge.  Attacked poor little ol' Mary Holiday.  Then she scooted off like greased lightnin'.

MARY/MARSHA: It was un-pre-voked, Your Honor.  I detected eyes as blue as robin's eggs.  Ain't never saw no Injun with blue eyes before.  So, I told her so and then she went all wild and crazy.

JUDGE/BILL: 'Cause she ain't no Injun!  Sheriff, that thare gal is the notorious Mean Mabel Wiggens!

ALL: NO?!

JUDGE/BILL: Yup!  The she-scourge of The West!

ALL: NO?!

JUDGE/BILL: Yup!  The hatchetatin' hussy!

ALL No?!

JUDGE/BILL: Yup!  The mistress o' murder!

ALL: No?!

JUDGE/BILL: Yup!  The gun-slingin' slut!

ALL NO?!

JUDGE/BILL: Yup, she's a bad one.  (Turns to BART.)  And I'm accusin' you, Bart Blackey, o' bein' in cahoots.  (To Sheriff.)  Put the cuffs on him, Sheriff.

BART/MIKE: (Buying time.)  Me?

JUDGE/BILL: Yup.

BART/MIKE: I'm as innocent as a new-born babe.

JUDGE/BILL: Nope.

BART/MIKE: As honest as Abe.

JUDGE/BILL: Nope.

BART/MIKE: As pure as the driven snow.

JUDGE/BILL: Nope.

BART/MIKE: As good as gold.

JUDGE/BILL: Nope . . . I don't think so.

BART/MIKE: Well, I ain't all bad.

ALL: (Except BART.) Yup!

BART/MIKE: I'm a-tellin' ya, ya got me all wrong.

JUDGE/BILL: Nope!

BART/MIKE: Yup!

JUDGE/BILL: Don't ya go a-yuppin' me, Blackey.  I gots me two o' yor boys over at the courthouse a-willin' ta testify agin ya.  Whaddya say ta that?

BART/MIKE: Curses!  I reckon ya leaves me no choice.  (Grabs SALLY SWEETS, pulls out his gun and holds it to her head.)  Everybody, stay calm!  Drop yor guns, boys, or I'll blow this little gal's head from here ta Tucson!

SALLY/RITA: Oh, Mr. Blackey, ya wouldn't?

BART/MIKE: Yup!

SALLY/RITA: Do as he says, Pa.  I think he means it.

JUDGE/BILL: Well, I reckon since that's how ya put it, Blackey, ya leaves me with no choice.   

(JUDGE and SHERIFF drop their guns.)


BART/MIKE: (Moving toward exit, taking SALLY as his hostage.)  Back off!  Back off!  And if-n any o' ya come a followin' after me, this little ol' gal will be a-singin' with the angels!

SALLY/RITA: Oh! Curse you, Bart Blackey!  Curse you!  You can have my body but you'll never have my respect!

BART/MIKE: Ya can't have everything.  Ha, ha, ha!

SALLY/RITA: No, no, no!  A thousand times no!

BART/MIKE: Yup, yup, yup!  And jest as many!

SALLY/RITA: Do as he says, Pa!  Do as he says!


(Holding SALLY with gun to her head, BART exits dragging her along.)


SHERIFF/O.T.: Fo' shame.  Fo' shame.  And thare ain't a hoss ta be had.

JUDGE/BILL: Ain't a fact, Sheriff.

SHERIFF/O.T.: It ain't?

JUDGE/BILL: Nope.

ALL: Nope?

JUDGE/BILL: Nope. Found 'em all a-huddled down in the gulch.  Rounded 'em all up m'self.

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Fingering ear.)  Ya say ya found the hosses?

ALL: YUP!

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Rushes to swinging doors.)  Then, wadda we waitin' fer?  (Exits.)
 
JUDGE/BILL: (To WIDOW DEERE.)  Come along, m' sweet.  We'll git our little girl back.  Don't ya fret.

MARY/MARSHA: She's already in m' prayers, Judge.

JUDGE/BILL: Thank you, Mary Holiday.  You're a good woman.  (To WIDOW DEERE - arms around her.)  Ain't she a good woman, m' precious?

WIDOW/EVELYN: If-n ya say so, Judge.  If-n ya say so.  (Exits with JUDGE.)

MARY/MARSHA: (At bar - alone with GROVER.)  That thare brother o' yors sure is a mean one.

GROVER/HAL: That he is, Mary.  That he is.

MARY/MARSHA: Yor pa never should o' went to the outhouse.

GROVER/HAL: He never did agin.

MARY/MARSHA: Never?

GROVER/HAL: Nope.  Ma burned it to the ground.

MARY/MARSHA: Well, what did ya'll do after that?

GROVER/HAL: I'd rather not say.

MARY/MARSHA: Better let me have another shot o' yor bug juice, Grover.  I feel a faint comin' on.


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING.)


HAL: Don't you think you've had enough, Marsha?

MARSHA: You'll know when I've had enough.  And if you think you're going to run me out of The Playhouse, you've got another think coming.

HAL: Marsha, I believe you need professional help.

MARSHA: That's rich . . . coming from an abortionist!  Why don't you just pack up your bloody forceps and crawl back to Dallas?

HAL: You need a rest, Marsha.

MARSHA: I know what I need and what I need is this theatre!  Daddy gave The Playhouse to me!  Not to you or to anybody else on that board of butchers!

HAL: You've been under a lot of pressure lately.

MARSHA: You bet I've been under pressure and you and your gang of thugs are the cause.

HAL: You've done this to yourself.  You railroaded that entire board meeting.

MARSHA: I didn't railroad anything!

HAL: Marsha, it was a sham designed solely for your benefit so you could get Doris Powell on the board.

MARSHA: That bitch!

HAL: She was your friend not so long ago.

MARSHA: Some friend.  So, you all went ahead and had your secret meeting after all – your little smoke filled room caucus of assassins!

HAL: Are you aware that Bill Walker's tenure has been terminated?
MARSHA: What has that got to do with me?

HAL: This isn't a game, Marsha.  We’re talking about a man's life!

MARSHA: I'm sorry for him.  But, he did do it with one of his students, didn't he?

HAL: There's no proof of that.  Just gossip started by who?  Who, Marsha?

MARSHA: Who?  Who?  How in hell do I know who?

HAL: Doris Powell says you.

MARSHA: That traitor!  Who can believe a word she says?

HAL: Enough on the board to ask for your resignation.

MARSHA: You're throwing me off the board?

HAL: And from all further activities connected with The Playhouse.

MARSHA: (Disbelief.)  What?

HAL: Until you've had sufficient time to rest.

MARSHA: No . . . no!

HAL: You left us with no alternative.

MARSHA: Look.  Right after Massacre closes I'll do my one-woman show.  It'll be a big money maker, Hal.  I'll call the club and tell them we've decided to do it here instead.  I'll donate all the proceeds to The Playhouse.  What a way to end the season!

HAL: Haven't you been listening, Marsha?

MARSHA: It could be a wine and cheese affair.  Everybody will come all decked out – tuxedos, gowns, glitter!

HAL: No.

MARSHA: We'll pack the house.  Standing room only!

HAL: I'm sorry, Marsha.

MARSHA: You can't do this, Hal.

HAL: (Touches her shoulder.)  It's for your own good.

MARSHA: (Withdraws to piano.)  Don't touch me!

HAL: Marsha, please . . .

MARSHA: Don't ever touch me again.  Never!

HAL: Marsha . . .

MARSHA: (Banging helter-skelter on keyboard.)  I can't hear you . . .

HAL: Marsha!

MARSHA: (Sings - wildly.) THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS THERE'S NO BUSINESS I KNOW

HAL: (Grabs her.)  Stop it!

MARSHA Don't touch me!  Don't touch me, I said!  (Runs to chair - sits.)

HAL: Will you pull yourself together!

MARSHA: You can't do this.  Don't you understand?  You can't do this.

HAL: It's already been done.  The board met and that was our decision.

MARSHA: No . . .

HAL: Everyone is very concerned about you, Marsha.

MARSHA: No . . .

HAL: You really left us no choice.

MARSHA: No . . .
 
HAL: Are you going to be all right?

MARSHA: What the hell do you think, Hal?  Would you be all right?

HAL: I'm sorry.  Really, I am.

MARSHA: Really?  How sorry are you, Hal?

HAL: I hate to leave it this way!

MARSHA: Just go.  You're not going to wash off any of your guilt around here, Hal.  So, take your guilt and go.

HAL: (Crosses to exit.)  Well, if you need anything . . . (No response. After a pause.)  I'm sorry.  (Exits.)
MARSHA: (After a pause - looking about.)  Daddy . . . Daddy?  They want to take my playhouse away.  What are we going to do, Daddy?  What are we going to do?


BLACK OUT. 

END ACT TWO – Scene 1


ACT TWO - Scene 2

There is no one onstage.  The RECORDED SOUND of HORSES GALLOPING off into the distance is heard.  The WIDOW DEERE and POLLY UPSTRINGER enter through swinging doors.  PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.


POLLY/DORIS: We'll be safe if-n we waits in here till the posse returns.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Poor little Sally . . . abductified by such a mean ol' villain.

POLLY/DORIS: It's a sin what this world is comin' to nowadays.  (Fanning herself.)  Oh, it is.  It is.  Reverend Gudger gave a whole sermon last Sunday on the wages of sin.  I love sermons on sin.  Don't ya just love sermons on sin?  Oh my!  There's nothin' like a sin sermon ta put the fear in ya.  Don't ya love it when The Reverend Gudger fills ya with fear?

WIDOW/EVELYN: He was a-sittin' under m' poor Sally.

POLLY/DORIS: Oh, that's just his way, honey.  He likes ta git close ta his flock.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Does he minister, too?

POLLY/DORIS: Does he ever!

WIDOW/EVELYN: I didn't know that.  Oh dear, this sinful world is comin' to its brink!  When a man the likes o' him takes to the pulpit the end has gotta be near.

POLLY/DORIS: Whatever are ya talkin' 'bout, child?

WIDOW/EVELYN: Bart Blackey . . . a-sittin' under m' innocent little, soon-ta-be-stepdaughter, a man of the cloth.  The world's comin' to an end, I tell ya.  Comin' to an end.

POLLY/DORIS: Oh, him!  I thought you was talkin' 'bout The Reverend Gudger.

WIDOW/EVELYN: No.  I was talkin' 'bout Bad Bart who went and abductified poor little Sally Sweets.

POLLY/DORIS: Don't ya worry, Widow Deere.  The men folk'll git her back safe and sound.

WIDOW/EVELYN: I hopes so, Polly Upstringer.  I sure do hopes so.

POLLY/DORIS: (Fans herself.)  My, I'm burnin' up.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Must be somethin' ya et.

POLLY/DORIS: No.  It's talkin' 'bout sin.  Talkin' about sin just lights a fire under me.  Does it do that ta you?

WIDOW/EVELYN: Nope.  Maybe, yor standin' in a hot draft.

POLLY/DORIS: No, no!  It's sin!  Sin'll do it ta ya every time.  Just thinkin' 'bout it makes a body start ta burn.  And thare's sin all around us, ain't thare?  Ya can't go anywhere nowadays without thare bein' sin just around the corner . . . (Fanning herself.)  Oh, I tell ya, I can smell sin a mile off!

WIDOW/EVELYN: Sure that ain't a dead heifer down in the gulch?

PRINCESS/ALYSON: (Enters - gun in hand.)  Stick 'em up, ladies!  Looks ta me likes I gotta coupla pigeons!

WIDOW/EVELYN & POLLY/DORIS: Princess Desert Flower!

PRINCESS/ALYSON: (Removing headband, feather and wig.)  It's Mabel Wiggens to you, ladies!  Now, ya'll jest stay calm and maybe ol' mean Mabel will shows ya a little mercy!  'Though I wouldn't count on it!  Ha, ha, ha!


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING.)


DORIS: Mercy?  Mercy, Alyson?

ALYSON: That's right.  She did all right by you.  Didn't she, Doris?

DORIS: What, exactly, is your point?

ALYSON: My point is you're on the board, aren't you?  That is what you wanted.  Wasn't it, Doris?

DORIS: For your information, 'though I don't see what business it is of yours, Marsha approached me as regards the board.  It was never solicited.

EVELYN: Ladies, ladies . . . let's not quarrel and say things we'll regret.

ALYSON: It's a little late for that, Evelyn.

EVELYN: Well, I think we ought to sit down and behave like the adults we are. (Sits.)

DORIS: I quite agree.  (Goes to bar. Removes box of pizza from under counter.)

ALYSON: Oh?  You quite agree, do you?

DORIS: What do you want from me, Alyson?

ALYSON: I'm not sure yet, Doris.  But, when I figure it out you'll be the first to know.

DORIS: While you're figuring it out you don't mind if I have my supper, do you?
ALYSON: Eat away. It's what you do best.

DORIS: (Chewing on pizza.) If you're trying to be provocative, Alyson, you're on the brink of success.

EVELYN: Ladies, ladies . . . shouldn't we be rehearsing our lines?

ALYSON: Later, Evelyn.

EVELYN: We don't want to let Marsha down.  Now, do we?  (No response.)  All right.  Let's take it from our entrance, Doris.

DORIS: (Chewing on pizza. Not getting fully into character.)  "We'll be safe if we wait in here until the posse returns."

EVELYN: (Likewise - not getting fully into character.)  "Poor little Sally.  Abductified by such a mean old man."

DORIS: Villain.

EVELYN: What?

DORIS: "Abductified by such a mean old villain."

EVELYN: Oh, poo.  Villain.  "Poor little Sally. Abductified by such a mean old villain."

DORIS: "It's a sin what this world is coming to nowadays."  (Fans herself with a slice of pizza.)  "It is, it is. Reverend Gudger gave a whole sermon last Sunday on the wages of sin.  I love sermons on sin . . ."  Alyson, this is an example of the mind of the woman whom you would defend.  Listen up.  "Don't you just love sermons on sin?  Oh my!  There is nothing like a sin sermon to put the fear in you.  Don't you love it when The Reverend Gudger fills you with fear?"

EVELYN: "He was sitting under my poor Sally."

DORIS: "Oh, that's just his way, honey.  He likes to get close to his flock."  So, he can fill you with something else . . . and it ain't God!  Can you imagine actually sitting down and writing this kind of shit?

EVELYN: "Does he minister, too?"

DORIS: "Does he ever."  Alyson, did it ever occur to you that Mike and Marsha may actually be one person?

ALYSON: I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, Doris.

EVELYN: "I didn't know that.  Oh dear, this sinful world is coming to its brink.  When a man the likes of him takes to the pulpit the end has got to be near."

DORIS: (To ALYSON.)  When have you ever known Mike to have an idea of his own?  He's hardly a man.  More like a wimp, I'd say.  (To EVELYN.)  "Whatever are you talking about, child?"  (To ALYSON.)  Nope.  Mike's something Marsha winds up every morning and sends out to do her bidding.  Well, I suppose if you like the zombie type, he's your man.

ALYSON: Well, no one is really asking you.

EVELYN: "Bart Blackey sitting . . . a-sittin', a-sittin' . . . a-sittin' under my innocent little, soon to be stepdaughter, a man of the cloth.  The world's coming to an end, I tell you.  Coming to an end."  Did I get that all right?

DORIS: Sounded good to me.  "Oh, him.  I thought you was talking about The Reverend Gudger."

EVELYN: "No. I was talking about Bad Bart who went and abductified poor little Sally Sweets."

ALYSON: I don't know what you're talking about, Doris.  I happen to think Mike has a wonderful mind of his own.

DORIS: You would.  "Don't you worry, Widow Deere.  The men folk'll get her back safe and sound."

EVELYN: "I hope so, Polly Upstringer.  I sure do hope so."

DORIS: "My, I'm burning up."  (Fans herself with a slice of pizza.)

EVELYN: "Must be somethin' ya et."

ALYSON: We know who Marsha had in mind when she wrote that line.

DORIS: Very funny, Alyson.  You know I have hypoglycemia.  If I don't eat something every couple hours I get very ill.  If attacking me for something I can't help is the best you know, then you are to be pitied.  (To Evelyn.)  "No. It's talking about sin.  Talking about sin just lights a fire under me.  Does it do that to you?"

ALYSON: She walks into rehearsal every night with her double cheese pizza and two Big Macs and she has the gall to tell us she's feeding her hypoglycemia.

EVELYN: "Nope.  Maybe your standing in a hot draft."

DORIS: "No, it's sin!  Sin will do it to you every time.  Just thinking about it makes a body start to burn.  And there's sin all around us, ain't there?  You can't go anywhere nowadays without there being sin just around the corner."  Right, Alyson?  (Fanning herself.)  "Oh, I tell ya, I can smell sin a mile off!"

EVELYN: "Sure that ain't a dead heifer down in the gulch?"

ALYSON: "Stick 'em up, ladies.  Looks to me likes I got a coupla pigeons."

EVELYN & DORIS: "Princess Desert Flower!"

ALYSON: "It's Mabel Wiggens to you, ladies.  Now, ya'll just stay calm and maybe ol' Mean Mabel will shows ya a little mercy!  Though I wouldn't count on it. Ha, ha, ha."

EVELYN & DORIS: "Mercy!  Mercy!"

ALYSON: "Hush up!"

EVELYN & DORIS: "Mercy, Mercy!"

ALYSON: "If I told you once I told you twice to hush up!  You're my hostages till I know Bart's clean clear of that there posse."  That’s where Lulu enters.  "You pigeons is wearin' down my patience!"  And that's all we can do without a Lulu.

DORIS: No.  I wouldn't count on mercy, Alyson.

ALYSON: You're really something.  You're not on the board five minutes and you're stabbing Marsha in the back.

DORIS: She had it coming.  And don't you stand there looking so innocent.  You didn't put up much of a fight, as I recall.  (Takes bite of pizza.)

ALYSON: How could I?  You were all out for blood.  I certainly didn't want it to be mine.

DORIS: See how you are?

EVELYN: Ladies . . . ladies . . .

DORIS: Oh, shut up, Evelyn!

EVELYN: Poo.

DORIS: Well, Alyson, from what I heard about your little tantrum at the meeting before last, you ought to be grateful it wasn't your blood on the boardroom floor.

ALYSON: Aren't you going to offer anybody some of that pizza?

DORIS: (Holds up box - indicates that it is empty.)  Sorry, you should have asked sooner.  (Puts box under counter.)

ALYSON: You know what, Doris?  You look like you just came from a famine . . . and you caused it!  (EVELYN laughs.)

DORIS: Shut up, Evelyn!  (To ALYSON.)  Let me tell you a thing or two, Princess Spread Eagle!  (Swigs drink.)  Stop pretending you care so much for poor little shat-upon Marsha who's tried to cut every one of our throats at one time or another.  Poor helpless Marsha, who'd have you for breakfast if she could stomach your vile, disgusting, aging flesh!

EVELYN: Ladies . . . ladies . . .
DORIS: (Ignoring EVELYN.)  Don't think we don't all know about that little tummy tuck you had in Dallas last year.  By the way, it's too bad you can't get frequent flier mileage on all those Botox injections!  Not to mention all that electrolysis to keep you from looking like Mighty Joe Young!

ALYSON: You fat lump of buffalo shit!

EVELYN: Ladies . . . ladies . . .

DORIS: (Still ignoring EVELYN.)  That’s cute . . . coming from the black hole of the universe.

ALYSON: You've made your point!

DORIS: Not yet I haven't!

EVELYN: Ladies . . . ladies . . .

ALYSON: (To DORIS - ignoring EVELYN.)  Have another bourbon.  You're still half a gallon away from your daily quota.

DORIS: Alyson, making fun of me is not going to get Marsha back on the board.  Nor do I need you to remind me of my shortcomings.  So, do me a favor and get the hell off my case!

EVELYN: Ladies . . . ladies . . .

DORIS & ALYSON: Shut up, Evelyn!

EVELYN: Poo!

DORIS: (Pouring herself another drink.)  Alyson, you can save your bleeding heart act for somebody who cares.  Marsha got what she deserved.  (Swigs drink.)  By the way . . . (Pours herself another drink.)  Are you still fucking Marsha's husband?


(MARSHA enters from upstairs and stands posed on landing. She appears tired and dazed. ALL eyes are on her.)


ALYSON: Marsha?  Are you okay?

MARSHA: Yes, of course.  Am I interrupting something?

DORIS: Not at all, Marsha.  We were just discussing the climate around here.  Fair to Midland, I'd say.  Want a drink?

MARSHA: No, not now.  Maybe later.  Thank you for asking, Doris.

DORIS: (Uneasy.)  Sure.  You're welcome, Marsha.

MARSHA: Have you girls been rehearsing your lines?

EVELYN: (With concern.)  Yes, Marsha.

MARSHA: Good, good.  If this is to be my last show, let's make it a good one.

EVELYN: It will be, Marsha.  We've gone through all our lines and we didn't miss a one.

MARSHA: (Oddly elsewhere.)  Good, good.

ALYSON: Look, I'm really sorry, Marsha . . .

MARSHA: No, no, no, Al.  It's all right.  Really, it is.  I know you were all thinking of my good.

DORIS: Right.  We were only thinking of what’s good for Marsha.  (ALYSON throws DORIS a mean glance.)  What?  Did I say something wrong?

MARSHA: The rest will do me good.  We have a cabin in Cloudcroft.

EVELYN: I didn't know that.

MARSHA: Michael and I bought it a long time ago.  Just a few hours into New Mexico . . . deep in the mountains . . . beautiful climate.  Not like here at all.

DORIS: Yeah . . . the climate's a little rough around here.

EVELYN: That sounds nice, Marsha.

MARSHA: Oh, it is.  Green trees . . . pine . . . oh, the scent of pine!  Don't you all just love the scent of pine?  (No response.)  Not the stink of gas and oil.  Don't you all just hate the stink of gas and oil? (Ibid.)  Michael says that it's the smell of money, but I think it just stinks. And flat!  Flat as a tortilla.

ALYSON: This dump has never been known for its scenic beauty.

DORIS: So, when are you leaving, Marsha?

MARSHA: Oh . . . right after the show closes.  Lori will be taking an apartment in Lubbock.  She'll be going to school there.

EVELYN: (As if talking to a child.)  Isn't that nice?  Lubbock . . . of all places.  (To DORIS and ALYSON. ) Isn't that nice?

DORIS: Oh, yes.  One of my favorite places . . . Lubbock.  (She turns her head away and holds her nose.)

ALYSON: (To MARSHA.)  Are you sure you're all right?  Is there anything we can do?

MARSHA: What is the matter with all of you?  I'm just fine.  Tired, that's all.  There's no need for any of you to feel guilty.

DORIS: Guilty?  I don't feel guilty.  Do you feel guilty, Evelyn?

EVELYN: Poo.

DORIS: Alyson, are you feeling guilty?

ALYSON: (Through clenched teeth.)  For God's sake, Doris!

DORIS: Don't worry about us, Marsha.

MARSHA: You're very kind, Doris . . . all of you.  I know you did me a favor.  I'm grateful.  Honestly.

DORIS: (Snide.)  Honestly?

MARSHA: Michael and I were thinking about taking a sabbatical, anyway.  It’s time to let some fresh blood take care of The Playhouse . . . you know what I mean?

DORIS: Ain't nothing like fresh blood.  Is there, Alyson?

ALYSON: (Warning.)  Shut up, Doris.

DORIS: Marsha, are you putting us on?

MARSHA: Putting you on?  I don't know what you mean.

DORIS: All this Girl Scout stuff . . .

ALYSON: (Snapping.)  Doris, I'm warning you.  You keep this up and you're going to regret it!

DORIS: Don't get your silicon tits in a twist, Missy!

MARSHA: I don't understand.  (Looking around - confused.)  Is something wrong?

ALYSON: No . . . nothing, Marsha.

MARSHA: (To no one in particular.)  Ants are incredible, aren't they?


(A long SILENCE while ALL eyes dart to one another.)


DORIS: (Clearing her throat.)  Ants, Marsha?

EVELYN: You mean like fire ants and flying ants?

MARSHA: I'm not sure.
EVELYN: (Trying to liven things up.  To ALL in general.)  Remember when all those flying ants got into The Playhouse last year?

DORIS: Who could forget that!  The stage was crawling with them and ol' O.T. went stomping around trying to kill them as quick as they dropped!  God, I thought I'd bust a gut laughing!  Just bust a gut!  (ALL laugh - except MARSHA who stares blankly about as if in another time, another place.)

ALYSON: Well, we're all glad you didn't, Doris.  (To EVELYN.)  What show was that?

EVELYN: Ah . . . ah . . . oh, poo!  The one about the two men.  You know.  One was real neat and the other one wasn't.

ALYSON: (Remembering.)  The Odd Couple.

EVELYN: That's it!

DORIS: (Coming from behind the bar and demonstrating.)  "Well . . . I'm tellin' ya, Felix." STOMP . . . STOMP . . . STOMP.  (Stomps about.)  "This here place don't need cleanin' so much as it needs a fumigator!"  STOMP . . . STOMP . . . STOMP . . .

EVELYN: He didn't?!

DORIS: He sure did!  And in that Texas twang of his . . . trying to sound like New York!

EVELYN: That was a good one, that was!


(ALL laugh except MARSHA.  Suddenly, they remember her sitting there and end their laughs rather nervously.  DORIS goes back behind the bar and pours herself another drink.)


DORIS: Well, so much for ant stories.

MARSHA: Michael calls them piss ants . . . And, they don't let go.  They grab hold and they'd rather die than give it up.

ALYSON: Marsha, what are you talking about?

MARSHA: The ants . . . on the patio.

DORIS: (A snide aside.)  Is that like bats in the belfry?  (Swigs drink.)

EVELYN: (Throws DORIS a mean glance.  To MARSHA.)  What about them, honey?  What about the ants on the patio?

MARSHA: They're all over . . . big ones . . . little ones.  The big black ones live in a hole just off the cement.  Michael wants to pour some poison on them, but I won't let him. And the little ones . . . they're black, too.  I think they live under the cracks in the cement.
EVELYN: Better get rid of them if you know what's good for you.

MARSHA: Once, I saw a big one wander into where all the little ones were busy working . . . and before he had a chance to get out, one of the little piss ants got hold of him by the leg and wouldn't let go.  That big black ant went round and round, dragging that little piss ant with him.  I watched for the longest time while he went in circles trying to shake loose that little piss ant.  He must have been in terrible pain and the piss ant must have been dead by now . . . but he wouldn't let go!  I took a little piece of paper and tried to flick the piss ant off, but I was afraid that I'd tear the big ant's leg off with it.

DORIS: (Aside.)  Give me a break.

EVELYN: If you know what's good for you – you’ll get rid of those suckers before they tear up your whole patio.

MARSHA: "Watch," He said.  "Don't interfere, Marsha!  Just watch,"  He said.

ALYSON: Who?

MARSHA: God, of course.

DORIS: God spoke to you, Marsha?  (ALYSON throws DORIS a mean glance.)

MARSHA: He told me to watch and learn.  I know it has something to do with something more than just ants.  But, I don't know what. I just don't know what.

ALYSON: Shhhhh.  It'll come to you Marsha.  If God wants you to know, it'll come to you.

MARSHA: I just can't see it.  What is it I'm supposed to learn?

ALYSON: I don't know, Marsha.

DORIS: Oh, come on, Alyson!  You're not buying any of this, are you?  My God!  It's straight out of Tennessee Williams . . . and bad Williams at that!

ALYSON: Doris, I'm going to give you a choice.  You can either drink that bottle of bourbon or you can eat it!

MARSHA I'm sorry.  I seem to be upsetting you, Doris.  (Crossing to exit.)  I'll just leave you alone and you can get on with running your lines.

ALYSON: If you need anything, Marsha, just call.  All right?

MARSHA: Sure.  (Exits.)

DORIS: What a crock!  (Swigs drink.)

EVELYN: Poo.


(PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.)


WIDOW/EVELYN & POLLY/DORIS: Mercy!  Mercy!

MABEL/ALYSON: Hesh up!

WIDOW/EVELYN & POLLY/DORIS: Mercy!  Mercy!

MABEL/ALYSON: If-n I told ya once I told ya twice ta hesh up!  You's m' hostages till I knows Bart's clean clear o' that thare posse.  (LULU enters from upstairs and stands on the landing pointing her gun at MABEL.)  You pigeons is wearin' down m' patience!

LULU/LORI: Drop yor gun, Mean Mabel!

MABEL/ALYSON: Curses!  Ya ain't a-gonna use that thang . . . are ya, girlie?

LULU/LORI: Ya wanna find out?

MABEL/ALYSON: Now, hold off a spell.  (Backs toward exit.)

LULU/LORI: I said drop it and I means drop it!

MABEL/ALYSON: (Still backing away.)  Now a little pussycat likes you shouldna be a-playin' wid firearms.  (At door.)  Ya wouldn't shoot a lady, would ya?  (She backs toward exit and escapes.)


(MABEL escapes.  MARY enters from upstairs and rushes to LULU.)


MARY/MARSHA: Pray tell!  What's goin' on?

POLLY/DORIS: Miss Lulu done saved our lives.  Princess Desert Flower done turned out ta be Mean Mabel Wiggens.

MARY/MARSHA: No.

ALL: (Except MARY.)  Yup!

WIDOW/EVELYN: And if it weren't fer Miss Lulu we'd be goners fer sure.

LULU/LORI: It's the least I coulda done.

POLLY/DORIS: Oh!  Sin, sin, sin!  It just makes m' blood boil!

WIDOW/EVELYN: I still thinks yor standin' in a hot draft, Polly Upstringer.

MARY/MARSHA: What the hey!  Drinks is on The Horse's Mouth, ladies!  Git on over to the bar, Widow Deere, thare's time enough ta be tea-total!


(WIDOW DEERE crosses to bar. POLLY pours a round of drinks. The WIDOW and POLLY drink heartily while LULU and MARY have the following exchange.)


LULU/LORI: I know ya'll think I'm a bad girl . . . what with m' profession and all.

MARY/MARSHA: Why no, Miss Lulu.  It is not in my nature to cast disparagement upon another's reputation.  The Good Lord knows how I, too, have sinned.

LULU/LORI: No.

MARY/MARSHA: Oh yes, Miss Lulu. I, too, have my little faults. Judge not and ye shall not be judged, I always say.

LULU/LORI: Oh, you're such a good woman, Miss Mary.  A saint among sinners.  I don't deserve your kindness.

MARY/MARSHA: Of course you do.

LULU/LORI: If you say so, Miss Mary.

MARY/MARSHA: (Recognizes something on LULU's arm.)  WAIT!

LULU/LORI: WHAT?!

MARY/MARSHA: (Pointing to arm.)  This!

LULU/LORI: (Looking at arm.)  This?

MARY/MARSHA: That!

LULU/LORI: That?

MARY/MARSHA: Thare!

LULU/LORI: Thare?  Why that thare ain't nothin' but m' strawberry birthmark, Miss Mary.

MARY/MARSHA: Good Lord in heaven!  My daughter what got abjuctified by the Injuns had a strawberry birthmark jest like that one.

LULU/LORI: Ya don't say?

MARY/MARSHA: I do say, Miss Lulu.

LULU/LORI: I, too, was abductified by the Injuns.  I never knowed no parents but the Injuns what abductified me.

MARY/MARSHA: You don't say?

LULU/LORI: I do say, Miss Mary.

MARY/MARSHA: Louise!

LULU/LORI: Who's Louise?

MARY/MARSHA: That's you, darlin'.  That's you!  (THEY embrace.)  M' baby!  M' baby's been returned ta me!

LULU/LORI: Mama?

POLLY/DORIS: (At bar - to WIDOW.)  It's like a fire in yor underthings.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Ya sure it ain't heat rash?

BLACK OUT. 

END ACT TWO – Scene 2


ACT TWO - Scene 3


POLLY UPSTRINGER is behind the bar. The WIDOW DEERE, MARY HOLIDAY and LOUISE are sitting on barstools. ALL are obviously quite drunk. It is evening. The RECORDED SOUND of approaching horses is heard. PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.


WIDOW/EVELYN: (Swaying on barstool.)  Hark . . .

POLLY/DORIS: (Putting a finger to her mouth.)  Shhhh . . . (ALL giggle.)

WIDOW/EVELYN: Shhhh . . . sounds like the men is returnin'.


(The SHERIFF and GROVER enter and dust themselves off.)


GROVER/HAL: (Crosses to bar.)  We've recovered the money!

MARY/MARSHA: Oh, that's good news, Grover.

SHERIFF/O.T.: And Sally's back wid her pa!  (Crosses to table - sits.)

POLLY/DORIS: Oh, that's good news!  (Hands GROVER his bartender's apron.)

WIDOW/EVELYN: (Very drunk.) Good news!  I'll drink to that!  (Swigs drink.)

POLLY/DORIS: (Crossing to table. To SHERIFF.)  What about that varmint Bart Blackey?

SHERIFF/O.T.: What?

POLLY/DORIS: What about that varmint Bart Blackey?

SHERIFF/O.T.: (Tapping on hearing aid.)  What?

POLLY/DORIS: BART BLACKEY!

SHERIFF/O.T.: That varmint Bart Blackey . . . well . . . the varmint got away!

POLLY/DORIS: Oh, that's bad news.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Bad news!  I'll drink to that!  (Swigs drink.)

SHERIFF/O.T.: And that ain't the worst.

POLLY/DORIS: What's the worst?

SHERIFF/O.T.: The varmint swore a curse on us.
MARY/MARSHA & POLLY/DORIS: Swore a curse on us?

SHERIFF/O.T.: Yup.

POLLY/DORIS: Oh . . . that is bad news.

WIDOW/EVELYN: Curses!  I'll drink to that!  (Swigs drink.)

GROVER/HAL: Said he was a-puttin' a curse on Dirty Gulch and he'd be avenged by sunrise.

POLLY/DORIS: Seems ta me like thare's already a curse on Dirty Gulch.

MARY/MARSHA: That don't sound good, Grover.

WIDOW/EVEYLN: Curses on yor curses, Blad Blarkey . . . Blark Blattey . . . Bark Battey . . . Bartty Blark . . . What is his name?

MARY/MARSHA: (Helping WIDOW off stool and maneuvering her over to a chair by a table.)  Come along, Widow Deere.  You'll be a-might safer sittin' over here.

WIDOW/EVELYN: What's his name?

MARY/MARSHA: (Positioning WIDOW into chair.)  Downsy-daisy.  Thare ya go.  (WIDOW looks around, sways a bit and tries, once more, to say ‘Bart Blackey’ before passing out, face down, on the table. MARY returns to the bar.)  She had a might more than she's used to . . . what with bein' tea-total all her life.  (To LOUISE.)  Would ya go upstairs and git my shawl? I'm a wee bit chilly, darlin’.

LOUISE/LORI: Be m' pleasure, Miss Mary.  I mean . . . Mama.  (She staggers up the stairs and exits as JUDGE and SALLY enter.)

SALLY/RITA: (Carrying two big sacks with dollar signs on them.)  I'm home!

POLLY/DORIS: So you is!  Praise the Lord!

ALL: Praise the Lord!

WIDOW/EVELYN: (Raises head - sings.)  AMAZING GRACE . . . (Her head falls back onto table.)

SALLY/RITA: (Holding up bags.)  Where ya want me ta put 'em, Pa?

JUDGE/BILL: Behind the bar.  If-n ol' Bart Blackey decides ta return, theys oughta be where we can keep an eye on 'em.  (Sits next to WIDOW DEERE.)

SALLY/RITA: (Giving money bags to GROVER.)  Here ya go, Grover.  (Crosses to table where the JUDGE and WIDOW are sitting.)  Well, I'm back.  Here I am.  (Shrugs, giggles and sits.  To WIDOW.)  It's me, Widow Deere.  Safe and sound.  Guess what.  Thare's a curse on us.  Isn't that exciting?  (No response.)  Well, I think it's exciting.  Hello?  Hello?  (To JUDGE.)  Am I sitting next to a dead person?

MARY/MARSHA: Listen up, everybody!  I gots good news!  My little Louise what got herself abductified by the Injuns has been returned ta me.

GROVER/HAL: That is good news, Miss Mary.  Praise the Lord!

ALL: (Except WIDOW.)  Praise the Lord!

MARY/MARSHA: However, I ain't too awful wild 'bout the line o' work she done chose fer herself.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Well, whatever it is, it cain't be as bad as workin' fer Madam Lillie.  Rest her soul.

ALL: (Except WIDOW.)  Rest her soul.


(LOUISE enters.  While standing on the landing she hands MARY her shawl.)


MARY/MARSHA: Ladies and gentlemen . . . my little Louise!  (In shock and with open mouths, the MEN stare.)  Louise, I wants ya ta meet yor new family.  (The MEN slowly turn away and hang their heads in shame.)

LOUISE/LORI: I already have, Mama.

MARY/MARSHA: Oh . . . well . . . I see.

POLLY/DORIS: I got some really bad news.

SHERIFF/O.T.: Well, let's have it for it gets any worse!

POLLY/DORIS: Mean Mabel's a-stalkin' about and I thinks she means ta make trouble.  If-n it hadn'ta been fer little Louise we'd all be in that big saloon in the sky.


(ALL ad lib their shock and concern.  There is general din of orchestrated chaos.  Fade into REHEARSAL LIGHTING.)


MARSHA: (Much more composed than in her last scene, but still a bit restrained.)  Okay, gang, listen up!  When Bart and Mabel make their entrance, I want to create the dramatic tension of that moment by juxtaposing it with the merriment of your celebrating.  (RITA raises her hand.)  Yes, Rita?

RITA: Well, since there's a curse on us, why are we celebrating?

MARSHA: Your return, for one thing, Rita.  The return of the money and, of course, Louise's return to her mother.

RITA: Well, wouldn't the curse make us all a bit reserved?

MARSHA: No. (To ALL in general.)  Any further questions?  (RITA raises her hand.)  Yes, Rita?

RITA: Who's Louise's father?

MARSHA: I don't know.  There's nothing in the script to indicate.  It's just one more of those mysteries that make life interesting.

RITA: But, you wrote it.

MARSHA: Indeed, I did.  Anybody else?  Any further questions?  (O.T. raises his hand.)  Yes, O.T.?

O.T.: Well . . . uh . . . I just wanted to say . . . uh . . . well, Marsha, I think you've been big about this and . . . uh . . . I wanted to say thank you.  (The sentiment is echoed, mixed with applause - except BILL who remains still.)

MARSHA: Thank you.  Thank you all, very much.  But, as you know, I'm only doing my job.  Now, unless there are any further questions . . . (No response.)  Good.  (MARSHA turns to LORI and engages in a silent conversation.)


(The stage goes dark except for area REHEARSAL LIGHTING around the table where RITA, BILL and EVELYN are seated.)


RITA: San Francisco?

BILL: Yes. I have some friends out there I can stay with while I'm getting myself situated.

EVELYN: We're sure going to miss you around here, Bill.

RITA: San Francisco . . . Hollywood.  Maybe, when ya'll get situated out there I can come out and stay with you while I try to break into the movies.

BILL: Hollywood is in Los Angeles, Rita.

RITA: Of course it is.  I knew that.  But, it can't be that far of a commute.

BILL: It's pretty far.

EVELYN: What's makes you think you could get into the movies, Rita?  You have a hard enough time getting cast by the Derrick Community Players.

RITA: I'm sure you didn't mean that the way it sounded, Evelyn.
EVELYN: We live in a very uncertain world, Rita.

BILL: In a way, I suppose I ought to be grateful.

EVELYN: How's that, Bill?

BILL: It took something like this to get me to do what I should have done years ago - get the hell out of Texas!


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING fades out and fades in on table where DORIS and O.T. are seated.)


DORIS: I still don't trust her.  I liked her better when she was a bitch.

O.T.: What makes you say that?

DORIS: I don't know.  I can't put my finger on it.  But, something around here smells pretty fishy to me.

O.T.: Everything's been going along nice and smooth, if you ask me.

DORIS: Too smooth.  I'm telling you she's up to something.

O.T.: Can't you see she wants to leave on a good note?  This is her last chance to show us her good side.

DORIS: As many sides as she has, "good" is not one of them.

O.T.: I think you just want to make trouble, Doris.

DORIS: No, I don't, O.T.  I just want to get to the bottom of whatever's going on.  I'm telling you she's up to something.  And unless we figure it out, and quick, we're just liable to find ourselves on the shit-end of her stick, again!  And what's with all the blocking changes?


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING fades out and fades in on the area surrounding LORI and MARSHA.)


LORI: Do I have to?

MARSHA: Yes.  You have to, Lori.

LORI: But, why are you changing the blocking?  God knows I'm onstage little enough as it is!

MARSHA: I'm not going to argue with you, Lori.  When you hear Grover's cue for Bart's and Mabel's entrance, you get up those stairs.

LORI: But, that's not the way we've been doing it.
MARSHA: That's the way we're doing it now!  Do you understand me, Missy?

LORI: (Sulking.)  Yes, Mother.


(REHEARSAL LIGHTING rises in all areas.)


MARSHA: Listen up, cast!  (Calling to backstage.)  Mike, can you hear me?

MIKE: (Poking his head in.)  Yup.

MARSHA: Al?

ALYSON: (Poking her head in.)  I hear you, Marsha.

MARSHA: After you enter, take time to size things up.  This will give the audience time to focus on your presence before the fireworks begin.  And make certain you don't start shooting until I'm on the landing.  Is that understood?

MIKE & ALYSON: (Poking their heads in.)  Yes, Marsha.

MARSHA: Or else, it will throw off the entire balance of the tableau effect we're going for.  Does everybody understand that?  (Some nod ‘yes’ and some say it.)  Good.

DORIS: Marsha?

MARSHA: Yes, Doris?

DORIS: Aren't we all taking this a bit too seriously?

MARSHA: What, exactly, do you mean?

DORIS: I mean, all this re-blocking of yours.  After all, it's only a silly little melodrama.

MARSHA: I beg to differ, Doris.  This is my last play in this theatre and if I have been inspired to make a few changes for the good of the production, then why would you want to begrudge me that?

DORIS: I don't want to begrudge you anything, Marsha. I'm . . .

MARSHA: And I'm only doing this for you – all of you.  I want to make you all so very, very proud of yourselves.  Massacre At Dirty Gulch will be a triumph!  I'm sorry, Doris. I don't mean to scold.  If you have a better idea, please share it with us.

DORIS: No, no.  Let's do it your way.  (Sinking into chair. To O.T.)  That bitch is up to something.  I used to think she was perfectly sane pretending to be crazy.  Now, I think she's perfectly crazy pretending to be sane!

MARSHA: Okay, gang!  Listen up!  As your director, I just want to say that you all have every reason to feel proud of yourselves.  We've put a lot of time and work into this and, yes, we've had our little ups and downs.  But, all in all, we've got ourselves a good show.  Now, if you'll all take your places we're about to start.  The audience is in and it looks like we've got ourselves a pretty good opening night house.  Thanks again, gang . . . for everything.  And remember those new blocking changes.  Let's make Massacre at Dirty Gulch the melodrama that Derrick, Texas will not soon forget!  Places everybody!  And break a leg!

MIKE: (Popping his head in.) Here, here!  Let's hear it for Marsha!  Hip-hip hurray!

ALL: (Joining in and cheering.)  Hip-hip hurray!  Hip-hip hurray!


(PERFORMANCE LIGHTING.)


ALL: (Cheering.) Hip-hip hurray!  Hip-hip hurray!

GROVER/HAL: (Shoots gun into air.  Lighting fixture crashes to stage floor.)  Quiet down!  Quiet down!  Hesh up, ya bunch o' varmints!  Drinks is on The Horse's Mouth!

WIDOW/EVELYN: (Sings over the raucous din being made by ALL celebrating.)  AMAZING GRACE . . .

DORIS: (Breaking character. She is the only one who noticed the fallen fixture.  Panic-stricken, she yells over the chatter.)  Oh my God! She's in charge of the props!


(The SOUND of celebration grows louder.)


SALLY/RITA: What about the curse?

GROVER/HAL: Curses on the curse!


(ALL laugh. MARSHA steps up on the landing as LORI exits upstairs.  BART enters through swinging doors as MABEL enters through side door.)


DORIS: (Jumping up.  Out of character.)  WAIT!!!

GROVER/HAL: It's Bart Blackey and Mean Mabel Wiggens!


(ALL pull out their guns.)


DORIS: STOP!!!  THE GUNS!!!

(BLACK OUT - a barrage of gunfire, screams and shouts, the SOUND of tables and chairs falling over, glass shattering, moans and cries.  Then, SILENCE.  The PERFORMANCE LIGHTING slowly rises - bodies, blood-soaked, lay stretched helter-skelter about the stage.  Standing on the landing, alone, overlooking the rubble and carnage, wearing a twisted and deranged smile, is MARSHA.)


MARSHA: (Steps down from the landing.)  Done.  Exit all.  You did it to yourselves.

LORI: (Enters onto landing. Confused and frightened.)  Mama?

MARSHA: (Totally spaced-out. In a southern accent she quotes Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire.)  "Tarantula was the name of it!  I stayed in a hotel called The Tarantula Arms!  Yes, a big spider!  That's where I brought my victims."  (Looking upward.)  Daddy?

LORI: (Crosses to MARSHA.)  Mama . . . Mama?

MARSHA: (Looks at LORI blankly.  Quotes from Streetcar.)  "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."  (Slowly, LORI leads MARSHA towards exit.  MARSHA surveys her handiwork and, with an air of injured innocence, her voice floats across the stage.) Piss ants.


(MARSHA and LORI exit.) 

LIGHTING fades to BLACK.

END OF PLAY