When I first say down to write the first play of this competition, I was really worried that with the short amount of time I'd have to write each of these scripts I wouldn't be able to wrap them up very well. So I came up with an idea of ending each and every script with the stage direction [ Character X Exits, Pursued by a Bear], the insane stage direction made famous by Shakespeare in his play The Winters Tale.
Now, having written several plays for the competition, I see that this was a stupid idea. Part of the point of this exercise is to try and get us to develop a complete through line, and I know for the other plays I've written so far, that type of absurd jokey ending would negate the atmosphere and story of what came before it.
But regardless, I wrote this play with that ending in mind. Two hunters in the middle of the woods. One of whom was a playwright talking about how he couldn't end his play, and the other an experienced bear hunter. That was the general idea. Instead, the characters took over and wound up spending the entire play arguing over where to camp for the night. It's slight but a bit funny. Hope you enjoy.
(Jed and Seth are two men in camouflage outfits. Jed has a large canvas bag while Seth carries a small backpack. They are in the middle of the woods. Autumn.)
(They walk on stage. Jed puts up his hand to halt Seth)
Jed - Shh...
Seth - What?
Jed - Shh!! You hear that?
Seth - (listens for a bit) The birds?
Jed - Will you be quiet?
Seth - If you want me to be quiet, you shouldn’t ask me questions.
(from off stage we hear the quick rustle of leaves)
Jed- Oh, God dammit, will you look at that?
Seth - It’s kind of hard to now. It just ran away.
Jed - It just ran away!
Seth - That’s what I just said.
Jed - What did I tell you about talking?
Seth - Umm... If I remember correctly you were the one doing most of the talking, so...
Jed - Don’t be smart.
Seth - If only I could help it. What are you doing?
Jed - This looks like a good place to set up camp.
Seth - Camp?
Jed - Help me with this tent, will ya?
Seth - Here?
Jed - It’s dry. We’re close to the river. Glade’s ride over there.
Seth - Oh... right. (Jed holds up some tent poles to Seth expectantly) Oh right! Sorry. (Seth grabs the tent poles and walks over to put them on the ground, but then pauses and walks back)... Just to clarify...
Jed - Yeah?
Seth - This tent.
Jed - Don’t worry, I’ll help you set it up.
Seth - No, I mean, by setting this tent up in the middle of these woods, does that mean...
Jed - Yeah?
Seth - Well, that we’re going to be spending the night... here?
Jed - Isn’t that what I just said?
Seth - See, that’s what I was trying to clarify.
Jed - I mean we could walk a little further in, but this has got us more coverage.
Seth - Right... see, I thought we were going back to the camper.
Jed - The RV? It’s a two hour hike back that away.
Seth - There’s no need for the condescending attitude. I was there with you when we took the hike.
Jed - Why’d you wanna go back to the RV?
Seth - Oh, I don’t know, Jed. Maybe I wanted to sleep somewhere where there’s electric heating? Somewhere where I could plug in my iPhone? Somewhere with indoor plumbing!!
Jed - You need to use the john?
Seth - My sphincter may be a bit more clenched than usual, yes Jed.
Jed - Hard to imagine.
Seth - So while I appreciate your romantic notion of sleeping under the stars with the crickets and mosquitos, I’d appreciate it if we put all of this stuff back into the bag and went back to the camper.
Jed - We’re not going back to the RV.
Seth - Yes, Jed. We are.
Jed - Like Hell. We did not come out all this way to hunt some deer, just to turn around and go home before we even set up our Goddamned campsite!
Seth - But my phone is out of batteries!
Jed - You’ll have plenty of time to play Angry brids when we get outta here in two days.
Seth - Two days??
Jed - Maybe less, depends on quickly we bag one and how big.
Seth - Are you crazy? Two days??
Jed - This isn’t anything new, Seth. I told you we were gonna spent two days hunting.
Seth - Yes, but I thought it’d be a strictly daytime activity. I didn’t think you’d be out here all night shooting raccoons and owls.
Jed - Yeah, well I brought some night vision goggles, but we don’t have to go nocturnal if you don’t want to.
Seth - What I want to do, is go back to the camper!
Jed - Tough pig nuts. I say we’re camping here, we’re camping here.
(Jed continues setting up. Seth seethes.)
Seth - Fine. I’ll go without you.
Jed - Without me, huh?
Seth - Yes.
Jed - You think you could find your way back?
Seth - Look, Jed. I may not be the rugged anachronistic trapper you are, but I think I’ve got a pretty good idea.
Jed - Well, okay. I don’t want to force you into doing anything you don’t want to do, so if that’s what you want to do, be my guest. Go back.
Seth - ...Thank you.
Jed - You’re welcome.
(Jed continues setting up the campsite. Seth stands there awkwardly for an extended beat.)
Seth - Uh... Jed?
Jed - You still here?
Seth - Yes, Jed. Um.. the keys?
Jed - Keys?
Seth - To the camper.
Jed - You want me to give you keys to my RV?
Seth - Jed...
Jed - Hmm... let me think about this. Entrust you not to run off and get my RV stuck in some ditch somewhere and strand me out here with some dead carcass of a deer, is that right?
Seth - Jed, give me the keys.
Jed - I’m gonna say... no. But you have fun walking back.
Seth - There’s no point in walking back to the camper if I can’t get inside it!
Jed - That’s what I thought, but I don’t pretend to know the way your mind works.
Seth - Arghh!!... Look, how much do you want for it?
Jed - The RV isn’t for sale.
Seth - No, the keys. I promise I won’t take it anywhere. I’ll just camp out until you come back.
Jed - You don’t know how to run the generator.
Seth - Give me some credit! (Jed gives him a look) Okay I’ll conserve electricity!
Jed - Nope.
Seth - Twenty bucks. No. Forty.
Jed - Nope. Nope. Nope.
Seth - Sixty. A hundred dollars.
Jed - Look, Seth--
Seth - Two hundred dollars! I will give you two hundred dollars to sit by myself in your camper, I won’t even turn on the radio, for two days. Two hundred dollars Jed. Think what you can buy at Bass Pro with that kind of money. You’ll have this whole campsite all to yourself. I promise not even to come back and bug you.
Jed - …You make a strong case... but no.
Seth - You are the worst person alive!
Jed - Sorry, can’t trust my baby to just anyone, let alone someone who can’t drive stick.
Seth - You don’t know what!
Jed - Can you?
Seth - ...That’s beside the point!
Jed - Nope. Nada. Ain’t gonna happen.
Seth - I know what’s going on here. You don’t want to be in the woods alone. You’re scared.
Jed - Ha!
Seth - You are. Big scary tough guy can’t spend the night alone in the forest without someone to snuggle with like a big teddy bear.
Jed - Look who’s talking!
Seth - Oh, I’m not scared. I’m uncomfortable. I’m a hedonist. I live in the 21st century. But I’m not scared. I don’t want to be eaten alive by bugs or shat on my pigeons or whatever birds live in these Godforsaken woods, but I am more than perfectly happy spending one or two or however many night by myself, whereas you on the other hand...
Jed - It isn’t about that.
Seth - Oh, really Jed? Then praytell why do you want me out here so badly? Why do you want your little cousin to sleep with you in that snug cozy tent, hmm?
Jed - You’re sick.
Seth - You’re right. I’m sick of this argument. Just give me the keys so we can be done with it.
Jed - No.
(They stare each other down, Seth standing, Jed crouching still unloading the bag.)
(Suddenly Seth lunges at Jed. They tussle on the ground, Seth trying to get into Jed’s pockets.)
Seth - Give me them! Gimme!!
Jed - Over my dead body!
Seth - Don’t tempt me!
(suddenly a gunshot goes off. Seth springs off Jed. Jed had been shot in the upper thigh.)
Seth - Oh my God.
Jed - (looking down) Oh shit.
Seth - Oh my God.
Jed - First rule of hunting, Seth: You shoot the ANIMALS, not the HUNTERS!!
Seth - You’re bleeding!
Jed - Well golly, Seth. That’s makes sense, considering you just SHOT me!
Seth - I didn’t mean to! I thought-- Jesus Christ! I was trying to get the keys!
Jed - So you reached into my pocket and pulled on this... (he slowly takes out a small gun from his jeans. He is in great pain.)
Seth - What the hell is that?
Jed - It’s a concealed automatic handgun.
Seth - What were you doing traipsing through the forest with one of those?
Jed - I’ve got a permit.
Seth - What? You expected to get mugged by a bear?
Jed - Oh, shut up and get some towels.
Seth - We have to get you to a hospital.
Jed - No shit, Sherlock.
Seth - Can you stand.
Jed - You just shot me in the leg. What do you think? Towels?
Seth - Oh. Here.
Jed - Don’t hand them to me! Press them against the wound!
Seth - Oh, sorry.... Oh. Um...
Jed - What are you waiting for?
Seth - Look, I’m not very good with blood.
Jed - Neither am I. Especially when it’s leaking out of me!
Seth - I think I’m going to try to find help.
Jed - Are you serious?
Seth - I’m sorry. It’s just that when I see it, I get... woozy. I have to put my head down.
Jed - Christ on a cracker. If you’re this bad how’d you expect to help me dress the deer once we bagged it?
Seth - I don’t even understand that question. You mean in clothes?
Jed - I’m talking about removing the hide!
Seth - What?
Jed - Skinning it. Cutting off the hide.
Seth - That’s disgusting.
Jed - That’s hunting!
Seth - I’m going to have to sit down again.
Jed - You are worthless!
Seth - Oh yeah? Well at least I can WALK! … Okay that wasn’t very kind.
Jed - Look, you’re right. You’ve done all you can. Go get help.
Seth - No, look. I’m not going to leave you out here lying in a puddle of your own--
Jed - Will you listen to me! Take the keys, go back, charge your freaking phone and call the park rescue or 911. If you hurry, you can make it before dark.
Seth - But Jed...
Jed - Go. Here. (he fishes out the keys and tosses them to Seth. It’s a good toss, but Seth fumbles catching them.) Take the keys.
Seth - (Seth stands up and looks at the keys) Well... If I’d known it was this easy I would have shot you earlier.
* CURTAIN *