Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Scenes Three and Four the actors and actresses of my invented characters occupy the stage.
Shootout at Garsen's Saloon -- Part One
Scenes Three and Four
Cast of Characters
            Joe Garrett, leader of the homesteaders
            Marian Garrett, Joe’s wife
            Grandma Garrett, Joe’s mother
            Johnny Garrett, dim-witted 16 year old son
            Bonnie Garrett, 12 year old daughter
            Cannonball Stone, fiery-tempered homesteader
            Opal Stone, 16 year old daughter
            Rocky Stone, 14 year old son
            Svede Svenson, Swedish homesteader
            Ebenezer Erp, town preacher
            Alley Erp, Ebenezer’s wife
            Hannah Erp, bad-breathed 16 year old daughter
            Big Bill Wretcher, cattle boss of the valley
            Rachael Wretcher, flirtatious 16 year old daughter
            Kurt Jergens, Big Bill’s German, bully-boy foreman
            George Garsen, owner of Garsen’s Saloon
            Tina Tintinnabulation, saloon girl
            Digger Phelps, undertaker and barber
            Widow Winslow, man-hunting, 35 year old widow
            Shane, gunfighter trying to escape his past
Time: 1880s
Place: Shoshone Hole, Wyoming
Scene Three
(The Widow Winslow appears in front of Garsen’s Mercantile and Saloon.  Seeing someone approach, she stops suddenly, looks concerned a moment, touches her hair as if to make its appearance better, and then become quite poised.  Digger Phelps appears left)
Widow (stepping in front of Digger): Why, Mr. Phelps.  (warmly)  You are the picture of health this afternoon, I do declare.  Do I detect a radiant glow in those cheeks of yours?  I hope the cause is those two dances we shared last night at the barn raising festivities.
Digger: To tell you the truth, Widow, my spirits are high as a hawk.  Can’t hide it, I guess.  I put Old Lady Lancaster under on Boot Hill this morning.
Widow (flirtatiously): Mr. Phelps.  As I told you last night, after our first dance, my name is “Cynthia,” not “Widow.”
Digger: The old bitty bit down hard on a chicken bone.  Got stuck in her craw.  If I’m gonna call you that, guess you’d better call me “Digger.”
Widow (smiling romantically): “Digger”!  Such a manly name!
Digger: Now if you’ll excuse me, ma’am, I’ll …
Widow: “Cynthia”!
Digger: I’ll just mosey in to the bar and put more glow in these here cheeks, with some Red-Eye!  (He tips his hat and exits right)
Widow (watching him leave): Such a fine figure of a man!
(Mrs. Alley Erp enters left)
Mrs. Erp (seeing the widow, whose back is turned to her): Mrs. Winslow.
Widow (turning about): Mrs. Erp.  How nice to see you again.
Mrs. Erp: I wanted to thank you for your floral arrangement at last Sunday’s service.  Some of it, however, contained rag-weed.  My husband had a sneezing attack in the middle of his sermon.
Widow: Oh dear!  (pause)  Next time Digger Phelps gives me flowers after one of his funerals, I will be more careful.
Mrs. Erp: Don’t reproach yourself, my dear.  Ebenezer is a stuffed shirt who needs to look foolish now and then.  (pause)  I couldn’t help seeing you speaking with Mr. Phelps just now.  I hope you and he will be participants in a marriage ceremony.
Widow: Oh my stars, yes!
Mrs. Erp: He needs the influence of a good woman!
Widow: And I need a man!  Uh, … a good man, I mean.
Mrs. Erp: Yes, … a good man is hard to find.
(Garsen appears left and approaches)
Garsen (in passing): Good afternoon, ladies.
Mrs. Erp: Mr. Garsen.
Widow (warmly): Hello, George.  You’re looking well today.
(Garsen stops, turns about)
Garsen (congenially): Widow Winslow.
Widow: You are such a good dancer, George.  I did enjoy our two dances last night!
Garsen: My pleasure, Widow.
Widow: “Cynthia.”  As I told you last night.
Garsen: Yes.  Good day.  (He bows politely and exits right)
Mrs. Erp (after a pause, an eyebrow raised): Perhaps it should be you and Mr. Garsen at that ceremony!
Widow (after a pause, with anguish): Oh, Mrs. Erp!  Is it sinful to like men so?!
Mrs. Erp (taken aback): My dear woman, you are speaking to a minister’s wife!
Widow: Yes, of course.  Forgive me.
Mrs. Erp: Ebenezer has never done anything sinful in his life!  (pause)  He’s incredibly boring!
(Grandma Garrett enters left with Bonnie.  She sees Widow Winslow and makes a face.  The widow stiffens)
Grandma (passing): Well!
Widow: Humph!  (Grandma and Bonnie exit right.  To Mrs. Erp) Some people have no concept of age!
Mrs. Erp: Forgive me, Mrs. Winslow, but I must prepare for my Young People’s Gathering.
Widow: And I must finish that frock I’m mending.
(They smile at each other.  Mrs. Erp exits right)
Widow (exiting left): So that old crow, Grandma Garrett, thinks she can steal Digger and George away from me, does she?  Humph!  (She exits left)
Scene Four
(In a private room off Garsen’s store and saloon.  The Reverend Ebenezer Erp and his daughter Hannah enter left)
Hannah: Oh, Father.  I’m so troubled.  May I speak to you privately before Mother begins the Young People’s Gathering?
Erp: Of course, my dear.  I am open to all who bear the troubles of life.  It is my duty to listen.  Speak.  But at a distance.
Hannah: Father, I think it is time I should marry!
Erp (abruptly): I don’t want to hear about it!
Hannah: But, Father.  I am a year older than Mother was when you married her.
Erp: Age had nothing to do with our marriage!
Hannah (stepping up close to him): You didn’t have to get married, did you?
Erp: Certainly not!  (moves behind a table)  If we must talk, let’s … keep this table between us.
Hannah: Well, then why can’t I get married?!
Erp: For one very good reason.  I knew the kind of man your mother was marrying!  Me!  Totally upstanding, honorable, a credit to humanity!  The only thing I know about the man you will marry is that he will have no sense of smell whatsoever!
Hannah (after a perplexed expression): Are you criticizing my cooking again?  Father, I’m getting better!  Really!
Erp: Let me just say, I do not know your intended spouse; and until I do, I forbid your marriage.
Hannah: Father, you know him well!  For the past year he has listened to your sermons with his family every Sunday!
Erp (nodding approval): Hmmm, that is in his favor.
Hannah: Yes.
Erp: Who is this attentive boy?
Hannah (bashfully): Oh, he’s so handsome.  (enthusiastically)  Johnny Garrett!  (factually)  He’s very shy.
Erp: That is also in his favor.
Hannah: I just know he would propose if he weren’t so shy.  Every time I get close to speak to him, he just … shies away!
(Mrs. Erp enters left)
Rev: Ah, your intrepid mother.  Alley, my dear.
Mrs. Erp: Ebenezer!  My Young People’s Gatherings are such a success!  Mrs. Jensen’s two daughters will be joining us today!
Erp: Jacquelin and Janice.  I have trouble keeping the two of them straight.
Mrs. Erp: Well, one of them is nice … and the other one isn’t.
Erp: I am certain your saintly presence will perform miracles.  You have already transformed that jezebel Rachel Wretcher into a virtuous, refined young lady.
Mrs. Erp: “The music that can deepest reach
                    And cure all ill is cordial speech”! 
… Emerson.  Come, Hannah.  You will help me prepare refreshments.  Our guests will be arriving shortly.  (They exit left)
Erp: Emerson.  I will work several of his quotations into my next sermon.  (He exits right)
(Five seconds later Johnny Garrett enters left)
Johnny: Gee.  I’m early.  Nobody’s here.
(Rachel Wretcher enters left, sneaks up behind Johnny, and puts her hands over his eyes)
Rachel: Guess who?
Johnny: Well, I know you aren’t Hannah Erp.
Rachel: My breath is much sweeter!  (She exhales on him)  See?
Johnny: It is!
Rachel (romantically): So are my lips!  (pause)  Guess who I am and I’ll … demonstrate.
Johnny (after a pause): Oh gee.  This is an important decision.
Rachel: Um hmm.
Johnny: And I’m so bad at making guesses.
Rachel: Then I’ll give you a hint.  (Johnny nods his head in agreement)  My father is very well known in this valley!
Johnny: Oh, I think I know who you are!
Rachel: Boys have always liked me!
Johnny: I do, too!
Rachel: And about boys I’m really fussy!
Johnny (sadly): I know.
Rachel: One of my best features is my lovely hair!
Johnny (enraptured): Like hay dryin’ after a summer rain!
Rachel (perplexed): What?!
Johnny: Don’t say another word!  It’s you!  I know it!
Rachel (softly): Then say my name and … receive your reward.
Johnny: Opal Stone!  (He spins around.  His face freezes in surprise)  Rachel Wretcher!
Rachel (angrily): Opal Stone, am I?!
Johnny: Well, your clues, they seemed to say …
Rachel: My daddy rules this valley!  How could you miss that clue?!
Johnny: Well, Opal’s father is well known, too.
Rachel: How?!  He’s a no good homesteader!
Johnny: Anyone with the name Patrick Henry Robert E. Lee Beauregard Jackson “Cannonball” Stone has got to be well known.
Rachel: All right.  Maybe so.  But what about boys always liking me?!  I have to drive them off with a stick!
Johnny: They’ve always liked Opal, too!
Rachel (with irritation): So what are you saying?!  You like that … little straw-headed broom stick more than ….  (warmly) … passionate, dark and desirous me?
Johnny: Well, … don’t take offense … but …. yes!
Rachel (whirling about, her back to him): Impossible!  I don’t believe it!
Johnny: I’m sorry but it’s true.
Rachel (whirling back to face him): I’m warning you, Johnny Garrett!  My daddy has spoiled me rotten!  Whatever I want, I get!
Johnny: Oh, that’s terrible.
Rachel: And right now I want you!  (pause)  Come here!
Johnny (back against the wall): Oh no, you’re wrong!  My face!  Look at my face!
Rachel (putting her hands on his shoulders): What about your face?
Johnny: It looks like a ferret!
Rachel: I like ferrets.  They’re cuddly.
(Mrs. Erp and Hannah Erp enter left)
Mrs. Erp (entering): Hannah, I am going to read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s stirring poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”!
Hannah: Wonderful, Mother!  It’s so exciting!  (sees Johnny)  Mr. Garrett!
Mrs. Erp: And Miss Wretcher!  I am so pleased that you have attended my weekly gatherings this past month.
Rachel: I’ve had … (glances at Johnny) … strong reasons to, ma’am.
(Mrs. Erp, misinterpreting, smiles)
Hannah (going over to Johnny): Mother is going to read Longfellow!  (She takes his arm)  Would you sit beside me?  I want to study your reactions!  (She smiles.  He makes a face, reacting to her bad breath) Is something wrong?  Oh, I bet you don’t like Longfellow!  (She seats him in one of the two wooden chairs, moves the other one next to the first chair, and sits in it)
Mrs. Erp: Miss Wretcher.  You may occupy the couch.  Others, I am certain, will arrive shortly.
(Opal Stone enters left)
Mrs. Erp: Ah, Miss Stone.  (pause)  I do not see your learned brother with you.  Will he not be attending?
Opal: Rocky should have been here ten minutes ago.  (looks about the room)  That’s strange.  But, then, he is strange!
Hannah: Mother, you said the Jensen girls would attend.  They aren’t here either.
Mrs. Erp: So I see.  Perhaps they were detained.  Hannah, would you please look down the street to see if they approach?
Hannah: Certainly.  (She gets up and exits left)
(Mrs. Erp busies herself with her book of poetry.  Opal sits down on the couch next to Rachel, who makes a face.  Johnny looks back at Opal.  Rachel gets up and sits in the chair next to Johnny.  Johnny gets up and sits on the couch next to Opal)
Johnny: Hello, Opal.  Gee, you look pretty.
Opal (distantly): Thank you.  I have good reason to be.
Johnny: Really?!  Does it … have anything to do with … this gathering?
Opal: Everything.
Johnny: And a boy you like?
Opal: A man.
Johnny: Well, …. thank you.
Opal: Why?
Johnny: Well, I’m only sixteen.
Opal: What are you talking about?
Johnny: I always thought you never noticed me.
Opal: I’ve noticed you.
Johnny: You have?!
Opal: Who could miss that ferret face of yours?
Johnny: Oh, you like it, too!
Opal: No.  I don’t.  Excuse me.  I’ve got to get out of here.  (She gets up and walks over to Mrs. Erp, who looks up as she approaches)  Mrs. Erp, I’ll go look for my brother.
Mrs. Erp: Certainly, dear.
(Rachel gets up and sits on the couch beside Johnny)
Rachel: I could have told you before … that Opal Stone is after my daddy’s foreman, Kurt Jergens, and comes in here only as an excuse to sneak out and see him in the bar.
Johnny: I don’t believe it!
Rachel: Oh no?  Then why is it she always leaves in the middle of the readings?
Johnny: I thought the poetry made her weak-kneed and fainty.
(Hannah Erp enters left)
Hannah: Mother, they are not in sight.
Mrs. Erp: I don’t understand this.  Maybe we should disband today’s gathering?
Hannah: Oh no, Mother.  Do begin.  (She sits next to Johnny and smiles at him.  Johnny and I would like to listen.  (Johnny reacts to her bad breath)
Johnny (getting up): Excuse me please!  I … feel faint.
Rachel (getting up): Mee, too!  I’m getting weak-kneed and fainty.
Mrs. Erp: I think I will cancel today’s gathering.  (smiling)  We shall meet again next week.
(Johnny and Rachel, smiling politely, exit left)
Hannah (smiling): He wasn’t really going to faint, was he, Mother?
Mrs. Erp: No, dear.
Hannah: He’s just too shy to sit with me.  Isn’t he sweet?
Mrs. Erp: Shy nothing!  It’s your leaf-curling bad breath!
Hannah (after an anguished pause, walking over to her mother): Bad breath?!  Mother, what can I do?!
Mrs. Erp: Stand away from me!
Hannah: No, no!  What should I do?
Mrs. Erp: Have Digger Phelps yank out that bad tooth!
Hannah: My tooth?  It’s my tooth?
Mrs. Erp: You wouldn’t have it out before!
Hannah: I didn’t want that undertaker touching my teeth!  But now …
Mrs. Erp: Then you had better hurry.  Miss Wretcher’s emotional state, it seems, has nothing to do with Ralph Waldo Emerson!
Hannah: You mean, she … Johnny?  Let’s go!  (They exit left)