A Hard Death
HENCHMAN ONE: Big, tough, mean-looking. Has a cigarette in his mouth at all times. Scar on left side of face. Holds his weapon with confidence.
HENCHMAN TWO: Smaller than henchman one, with a less serious look on his face. Seems like he would be better suited for a job as a janitor. Holds his weapon awkwardly.
JOHN: The hero of the main story happening in the rest of the building. Foul-mouthed. Shoeless.
Any time from 1980 until now. Late at night.
Huge corporate skyscraper in a major US city.
(LIGHTS UP. HENCHMAN ONE and TWO are in a completely destroyed office. Desks are overturned, and there are bullet holes and scorch marks on the walls. HENCHMAN ONE is sitting on a filing box, smoking a cigarette. HENCHMAN TWO is pacing across the stage, with a walkie-talkie in his hand.)
TWO: (Worried) HQ! HQ! What is going on up there?
(Static comes through on the radio for a few seconds, and then silence.)
TWO: Damn it! This was supposed to be an easy job. Get in, get paid, get out. No one was supposed to get hurt… Shit.
(TWO looks over at ONE for a few seconds. ONE pays no attention, and slowly takes a drag on his cigarette. TWO walks over to the nearest window and looks out of it.)
TWO: Look at all of those cops, man. I guess we’re the talk of the town tonight, huh? Or, at least, the boss is.
(There is an awkward silence as TWO expects an answer from ONE… No dice.)
TWO: You, uh… You don’t talk much do you?
(Another long, awkward silence. ONE finishes his cigarette, drops it on the ground, and puts it out with his boot. He then takes another cigarette out of his pocket, lights it, and takes a long drag.)
TWO: Well since you’re not much for talking, and I’m bored, or anxious, or both or something, I need a way to pass the time. Hi, how are you? I don’t believe we’ve been fully introduced. My name is…
ONE: (Interrupting) No.
TWO: (beat) Excuse me?
ONE: No. Don’t do that.
TWO: Do what?
TWO: (beat) May I ask wh-
ONE: It’s bad luck.
TWO: Bad luck? Come on…
ONE: Plus, I don’t rightly give a shit.
TWO: (Slightly offended) Well, alright then…
(TWO shrugs and starts walking to the opposite side of the room, away from ONE. As TWO is leaving, ONE rubs his temples and lets out an exasperated sigh.)
ONE: Why are you here?
TWO: Oh, so now you wanna hear what I have to say?
ONE: Answer the fucking question.
TWO: Well, I’m here for the same reason you are; to make some money.
TWO: Jesus Christ, do you know how much of a cliché you seem right now? Dark, brooding, quiet, AND all knowing!
ONE: You are here because you fucked up. You fucked up, big time, and now this is the only way you can make any sort of a living anymore. Am I close?
TWO: (beat) That about sums it up… Yeah.
(TWO looks at his feet for a while in silence. After a moment, ONE stands up and starts moving some filing boxes, or anything around that can be used as a chair and table, and sets them up next to his seat. He pulls out a deck of cards.)
(TWO obeys the command almost instantly. He seems happier. ONE deals the cards out, and they begin playing.)
TWO: (After a while) So, will you tell me why you’re here?
ONE: I already did. Same as you. Fucked up. And shit.
TWO: (beat) Well, yeah, I know the basics, but since we’ve been here for a few hours, and it looks like we’re not getting out any time soon, maybe you could go into a little detail?
ONE: You first, ya fuckin’ chatterbox.
TWO: Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. Well I guess I have a pretty basic story, honestly. I was a normal kid, sophomore year of college. I liked to party, fuck girls, cause a little trouble now and then, and then… I just kinda fucked it all up, you know?
ONE: No, I don’t know. This is why you insisted on telling me.
TWO: Oh, right. Well, uh… (Takes a deep breath and holds it for a second, before letting it out and sitting silent for a moment.) I was seeing this girl. I met her at a party and we hit it off. We started hanging out and stuff, and getting into all sorts of crazy shit. Every weekend we would go out in my car and get completely messed up, drive up to a secluded spot, fuck, get even MORE messed up, and then drive back.
ONE: That sounds smart.
TWO: At the time, I didn’t care. But yeah, it wasn’t a great idea. Anyway, one night we’re doing our thing as usual, and I’m driving us back, and I’m completely messed up, like I can’t even see straight… and it was pretty dark, and I just… I lost control of the car.
(Has a hard time with the story at this point.)
You just never think it’ll happen to you, you know? When you’re young, you don’t give a shit and you just wanna get crazy and do dumb shit.
(TWO sits quiet for a moment.)
ONE: So, you killed her in the car crash I take it?
TWO: There was a couple out walking their dog on the sidewalk. I jumped the curb and… I…
(TWO’s eyes get a little watery, but he doesn’t cry.)
TWO: Ah, shit. So what are you here for? How did you fuck up?
ONE: (Coldly) I beat a man to death in front of his wife and children.
TWO: (Stunned) Holy shit…
ONE: It’s not what it sounds like.
TWO: You’ve got to be kidding me. How the fuck is it supposed to sound then!?
ONE: He was my brother-in-law, and his wife is my sister.
TWO: Buddy, you are not making a real strong case for yourself. It sounds like you’re just a run-of-the-mill psycho.
ONE: Do you want to know the story, or are you going to sit on your high horse all night?
TWO: Yeah, sorry… Sure.
ONE: Well when that spineless prick married my sister, I was in Afghanistan, and I had never met the guy. She would write to me telling me about how she had met the love of her life, and how happy she was. I was happy for her, you know? Shortly after the wedding, I get another letter from my sister telling me they were expecting a baby, and how she was overjoyed. Again, I was happy for her.
(ONE shifts his weight a little and puts his cards down.)
ONE: So, I get back from the sandbox after a year or so, and head home. I head over to my sister’s place to see her and the baby, and she seemed ok, but I could tell there was something up. Anyway, about a year passes and she calls and tells me they are expecting another kid, but there’s something in her voice that I pick up on. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time, but now I know. It was fear. She was terrified of this guy.
TWO: What, so, her husband was abusive? That’s not something you KILL a guy over. Ever hear of calling the cops?
ONE: I did call the cops. They didn’t do shit. They told me there wasn’t any evidence, and that my sister denied everything… So, I left it alone. Maybe I just didn’t like the guy…
(Long silence. ONE sniffs and rubs his nose.)
ONE: And then one day I get a call… My sister was in the hospital with a broken spine. She lost the baby… She FELL down the stairs…
ONE: So I went to the hospital and I caved in that weasels fucking skull with a bedpan.
ONE: That’s why I’m here… I’m here so I can provide for my sister and her kid. She’s paralyzed now, so I take care of her…
(The two of them sit in silence for a while. ONE takes out a cigarette and starts smoking it. The walkie-talkie starts making noise, and TWO picks it up.)
TWO: HQ! HQ! What’s the situation!? What the hell is going on!?
(A voice on the walkie-talkie comes through but is very broken. The word “alert” is heard clearly through the static.)
ONE: We’re on alert.
(ONE picks up his weapon, readies it, and starts to aim around the room, looking for threats. TWO follows suit.)
TWO: Hey, I’m glad we did this. Really.
ONE: (Looks over at TWO) Yeah.
(JOHN bursts into the room suddenly and guns ONE and TWO down with a couple of well-placed shots to the head.)
JOHN: Yippee Ki Yay, motherfucker!
(JOHN picks up ONE’s weapon, checks it, then picks up the walkie-talkie before exiting.)
END OF PLAY