Shootout at Garsen's Saloon
Part Three, Scene Five
Cast of Characters
Joe Garrett, leader of the homesteaders
Marian Garrett, Joe’s wife
Johnny Garrett, dim-witted 17 year old son
Cannonball Stone, fiery-tempered homesteader
Opal Stone, 16 year old daughter
Rocky Stone, 14 year old son
Mrs. Stone, Cannonball’s wife
Ebenezer Erp, town preacher
Alley Erp, Ebenezer’s wife
Hannah Erp, former 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
Stark Verisimilitude, gunfighter
Place: Shoshone Hole,
(Garsen’s Saloon. At a table at the far right are Big Bill Wretcher and Kurt Jergens. Behind the bar is Garsen with his ever-present towel. Widow Winslow is seated at a table to the left of the bar)
Jergens: Garsen! You vill come here!
(Garsen crosses to the table)
Jergens: Ve vill order now.
Garsen: What’s your pleasure?
Big Bill: Martini and Rossi on the rocks.
(Garsen returns to the bar to get a bottle and glasses)
(Digger Phelps enters right)
Digger (eagerly): Is Garrett here yet?!
Widow: No, dear, he isn’t. That gunfighter hasn’t come in either. I hope he gets shot!
Digger: It matters not who wins, Widow. (pause) Just that a lot of them lose!
(Mrs. Stone and Opal enter left. Opal sees Jergens and waves to him. Jergens acknowledges her greeting)
Opal: Oh, Ma. Can’t I go sit next to Kurtie? He’s a much nicer boy than you think!
Mrs. Stone: No! There’s something about him I don’t like.
Opal: But, Ma. Look at him. Just look at him! Don’t you just love that cute, pudgy face?!
Jergens (gets up, goes to the bar, tastes the liquid in the bottle that Garsen has produced): Garsen, you doomkopf! This isn’t Martini and Rossi! This is Ripple! (He whips the bar with his riding crop)
Garsen (cowering): I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Forgive me!
Garsen: Here! (handing Jergens another bottle) This is on the house!
Jergens (after giving Garsen a hostile stare): Dat ees better! (He returns casually to his table with the bottle)
Opal: See? What did I tell you?! He could have beaten Garsen to a pulp, … (admiringly)… but he didn’t!
Mrs. Stone: Mother’s intuition, dear. There is something about that man I don’t like.
(Cannonball Stone and Rocky Stone enter left)
Opal: Oh, there’s Pa!
Mrs. Stone: And your darling brother.
Cannonball (after looking about): How come there aren’t enough chairs here?!
Rocky: I, for one, would like to sit down.
Jergens (standing, to Cannonball): So. You vish again to protest?!
Cannonball: Uh, … not at this time.
(Stark Verisimilitude enters dramatically left)
Stark: Stand easy. Just wanted to say, before the shooting starts, you can buy glossy five by eight autographed photos … of a great gun fighter. Me! (He shows a picture of himself) Just … three bucks. Who’s first? (Nobody gets up. He draws his gun) I said, “Who’s first?”!
(Joe Garrett enters left. Stark, seeing him, smiles and puts the photo on the bar)
Joe (staring across the stage at Big Bill Wretcher): Wretcher! I’m here! Wearing a gun!
Cannonball (stepping forward): Yeah, Wretcher! Joe’s wearing a gun!
(Jergens draws his gun and shoots Cannonball)
Jergens (looking down at Cannonball): You vill please not interfere!
Digger (stepping forward): Widow! Rocky! Help me carry him out! (to Cannonball) Told you this would happen!
Rocky: Poor Pa!
Mrs. Stone (following Widow and Rocky): I knew there was something I didn’t like about that kraut!
(Digger, Rocky, and Widow Winslow drag Cannonball out left)
Joe (to Big Bill): No more side-shows, Wretcher! Draw!
Big Bill: All right, Garrett. If that’s your play. (to Jergens) Take him!
Jergens (to Joe): So, farmer. You vant to play rough!
Joe: After I shoot your hand off, I’m going to split that helmet with an axe!
Jergens (to Stark): You vill please take him now!
(Stark struts over to Joe)
Stark (laughing): You’re facing the fastest gun in
Joe: Shane and I had a fast draw contest on the way over here. He lost!
Stark (to Big Bill): Take him, Wretcher.
(Reverend Erp, Mrs. Erp, and Hannah Erp enter right)
Erp: Thank heavens I am in time!
Mrs. Erp: Yes. There is never a need for gun play.
Erp: Indeed not! You will all remove your gun belts, place them on this table, and amicably settle your differences.
(Digger Phelps, listening at the left entrance, draws a pistol and fires a shot into the air)
Erp: On the other hand, if you refuse, I am only one man and certainly cannot stand in the way!
Digger: I want more action! I’ve got three coffins in the other room collectin’ dust!
Mrs. Erp: Ebenezer! I think it wise that we retire to the far wall. (They, including Hannah, move to the back wall, partially behind the bar)
Big Bill: Verisimilitude! I’m payin’ you top dollar to do a job!
(Shane enters left)
Shane: And I’m here to see he stays out of it!
Big Bill (after a pause, to Stark): Well?!
Stark (nervously): You heard the man! (indicating Shane)
Digger: Come on! Come on! Get with it!
Big Bill: Jergens! You get what I’m paying Verisimilitude! Do it!
(Jergens gets up and faces Joe)
Jergens: Garsen, you vill count to three. (to Joe) Then we draw.
(After a pause, Garsen starts counting, slowly. After “two,” Opal fires a shot at Joe, who falls to the floor. Everybody is transfixed)
Opal: Nobody shoots my Kurtie! Nobody! (waves her gun) Kurtie and I are getting married, aren’t we?!
Jergens (staring at the gun): Ja vo, mine strudel!
Erp: In that event, you may step this way (motioning toward the left exit) and I will perform the ceremony immediately) Alley?
Mrs. Erp: Coming, Ebenezer. I do love weddings! (Reverend Erp, Mrs. Erp, Jergens, and Opal exit left)
Digger: Widow. And you, Garsen. We’ve got another one here!
Widow: My heavens! There aren’t enough men in this town as it is! They’re just droppin’ like flies!
(The three of them start to drag Joe off left as Johnny Garrett enters left)
Johnny (seeing his father): Had one too many, Pa?
Digger: In a manner of speaking, yes.
Hannah: Oh, Johnny! (coming to him) Your father! He’s … dead!
Digger (leaving with the body): Two down, two to go! (He laughs)
Johnny (looking about the room, emotionally) Somebody give me a gun!
(Garsen hands Johnny a gun belt which Johnny puts on backwards)
Johnny: Wretcher, I’m callin’ you out!
(Big Bill, slowly and confidently, gets up from behind his table, approaches, and takes a gun fighter’s stance)
Big Bill: Won’t need any help against you! Garsen, start counting!
(Garsen counts. After “two” Hannah draws a gun and shoots Big Bill)
Hannah: Nobody shoots my Johnny! Nobody!
(Digger enters left with Widow. He sees Big Bill’s body on the floor)
Digger: Hey, now we’re rollin’! Widow! You, Garsen! (They drag Big Bill off left. Hannah goes to Johnny and stands beside him)
Widow (leaving): Oh, this is terrible! Such a waste!
(Reverend Erp and Mrs. Erp enter left)
Mrs. Erp: What a lovely wedding! Opal was so happy!
Hannah: Mother. Father. Johnny and I want to get married, too. Right now!
Johnny: We do?
(She nods, holding up the pistol)
Johnny: We do!
Mrs. Erp: Hannah! No!
Erp: Never! I forbid it!
(Hannah cocks the firing pin of the pistol)
Erp: Of course, I’m only one man and certainly cannot stand in the way!
Mrs. Erp: Hannah! My little baby! A blushing bride! (They head for the left exit) I hope you realize that your children will all look like ferrets! (Hannah, Johnny, Reverend Erp, and Mrs. Erp exit left)
(Digger reappears left with Widow and Garsen)
Digger (rubbing his hands together): All right, who’s next?! I got one more coffin to fill! (no response. To Shane and Stark) You call each other gun fighters?! Why don’t you find out who’s best!
(Shane and Stark nod at each other and take gun fighter stances)
(Garsen counts to “two,” Shane and Stark nod at each other, and both shoot Digger)
Widow: Digger! Oh no! Who’s left now for me to marry?!
Garsen (coming over to her): Here, let me help you.
(Widow and Garsen start to drag Digger off left)
Widow: George, you have always been a considerate man.
Garsen: May I say, Widow, that … I have always … admired you from afar!
Widow (at the exit, after a pause): Let’s keep it that way! (She and Garsen exit left with Digger’s body)
Shane (after a pause): Well, Verisimilitude. That leaves … you and me.
Stark: That’s right!
Shane: Sooner or later we were bound to meet!
Stark: And, like the undertaker said, … we’re gonna have to know who’s best!
Shane: When do we start?!
Stark: How about … right now!
Shane: When the next person comes through that door (motioning toward the left exit), we draw!
(They settle into gun fighter positions, facing each other menacingly. Ominous, tense music. Marian Garrett enters left)
Marian: Shane, is it over?!
(Both men fire at her)
Shane (after a pause): Missed.
Stark: Ah, yes, but I missed first!
Marian: Shane! You …. You shot at me!
Shane: Don’t get upset, Marian! We had to prove a point!
Stark: Twenty years from now they’ll be tellin’ how Stark Verisimilitude outdrew that overrated Shane fellow at Garsen’s Saloon!
Marian (to Shane): That moment alone together … behind the wood shed … It meant nothing?!
(Tina Tintinnabulation enters right, walks up to Shane, and takes his arm)
Tina: You ready, honey? Tina want to see
Shane (to Marian): A man can’t escape his past! (He tips his hat. He and Tina exit left)
(Rachel Wretcher enters left)
Rachel: There you are, Starkie! Gave me the slip, didn’t you?
Stark: Ah yes. The Wretcher wench! (He picks up his photo off the bar and admires it. To himself) You’re too much for them, aren’t you? (to Rachel) Catch me, if you can! (He exits, she chasing after him, right)
Marian: Men! You can’t depend on them! I hate them all!
(Joe Garrett enters left, his right arm in a sling)
Joe: Marian, it’s me! I’m all right. Well, … almost.
Marian: Joe, you’re alive! (to the audience) See what I mean?
Joe: The bullet. It shattered the shoulder bone! My stump-chopping days are over!
Joe: Johnny will have to run the farm.
Marian: Joe. Shane’s gone … with Tina Tintinnabulation.
Joe: It’s done, Marian. All over. The day Shane rode into this valley … and threw up in my water bucket, … I sensed he would make a difference!
Marian: Let’s go home, Joe. I want your arms around me. Well, your good one.
Joe: Yes, it’s over. Settled. All this just goes to show what I’ve always believed.
Marian: And what’s that?
Joe: Might on the side of right always wins a fight!
Marian: Oh, you’re such a goodie goodie! I may shoot you myself!
(They exit left)
Playwright’s Comment: My apologies.