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LIGHTS UP ON:
A STARK STAGE, NOTHING IN PLAIN SIGHT, JUST THE BARE NAILS AND RIVETS HOLDING TOGETHER THE STAGE. VOICES THEN BEGIN TO ARISE FROM BACKSTAGE AS A MAN AND WOMAN ENTER FROM OFF RIGHT STAGE. THE VOICES BECOME MORE AND MORE APPARENT. BOTH MAN AND WOMAN CARRY LARGE BACKPACKS AND STOP RIGHT STAGE, STARING AT A MAP EMBEDDED IN THEIR SWEATING HANDS.
JEANIE
Samuel, I swear to God, we came off the path here, you see? You see it?
Jeanie points to parts on the map that her and the other character, her husband hold in their hands.
SAMUEL
Jeanie, good God. Sometimes I wonder about marrying you, we never can agree on anything. Can we? Huh? I...
He trails off as he looks more closely at the map, then at his wife, then back at the map.
SAMUEL
There is another path up ahead, you see?
JEANIE
I see it, smart one. Jesus.
SAMUEL
Can you stop? I’m so sick of that, Jesus this Jesus that, Good Lord!
Samuel folds the map, fails at doing so, and throws if awkwardly into his back pocket.
The two begin moving closely across the stage. Slowly.
SAMUEL
There could be anything up ahead.
JEANIE
Yeah, like a great bear? Make sure to pee in a circle and throw me in the circle.
SAMUEL
Funny. (Sarcastic) Aren’t you a character.
JEANIE
I am? What do you expect? You married a comedic genius.
SAMUEL
Right. Jesus woman.
BLACK OUT.
LIGHTS UP ON:
A STARK STAGE, NOTHING IN PLAIN SIGHT, JUST THE BARE NAILS AND RIVETS HOLDING TOGETHER THE STAGE. THEN, SAMUEL AND JEANIE ENTER FROM OFF STAGE LEFT. TIME HAS PASSED, MAYBE AN HOUR, MAYBE TWO, WE DON’T KNOW FOR SURE. BUT WE DO KNOW HOWEVER THAT THE COUPLE SEEM TIRED, ALMOST LETHARGIC. ON THE VERGE OF DEATH.
SAMUEL
It has to be around here somewhere...
JEANIE
Well it isn’t, huh? You’re da** map reading skills are for sh-
SAMUEL
Da**, Jeanie language, please?
Jeanie only rolls her eyes and stares at her husband. At this, SAMUEL stops and begins looking around, listening....
JEANIE
What?
SAMUEL
Shhh.
JEANIE
Well what is it?
SAMUEL
Shhh!! Can you be little quieter please? Are you hearing that?
JEANIE
What is it?
Samuel says nothing, he only listens as his wife only rolls her eyes.
SAMUEL
Come on, there’s people up ahead.
JEANIE
You couldn’t hear a nuclear explosion right outside your da** window!
SAMUEL
I’m not asking you again. We’re lost, the supplies are almost gone we packed for a day’s hike, not a night and definitely not a second day, if we stay out here much longer...
He trails off leaving the rest up to his wife’s imagination, a dark gaze comes over both of them.
Samuel and his wife, Jeanie move over right stage, and finally disappear as-
BLACK OUT.
LIGHTS UP ON:
LEFT STAGE, A LONELY MAN SITS IN OVERALLS SITTING ON A ROCKING CHAIR WITHOUT A WORRY IN THE WORLD, HE ONLY WATCHES THE SUNSET IN THE DISTANCE, AND THE VISITORS APPROACHING. THE VOICES FROM OFF RIGHT ARE BECOMING MORE AND MORE APPARENT TO US, AND TO THE COUNTRY BUMPKIN SITTING ON HIS PORCH. FINALLY, SAMUEL AND JEANIE ENTER, THE LIGHTS ARE NEARLY OUT, SIGNALLING THE COMING NIGHT...
SAMUEL
(Quietly to Jeanie) Now, I’m gonna do all the talking, you just stand back and do (thinks) whatever it is you do...
A beat.
JEANIE
WHAT?!
She leans in towards her husband who only rolls his eyes and looks towards the man on the front porch.
Samuel approaches the man on the front porch, who listens in to the strange man on his property.
HENRY
Who’s there? You’re on private property.
SAMUEL
I understand, sir. My name is Samuel, this is my wife, Jeanie Elizabeth.
HENRY
You from Carolina?
SAMUEL
No, sir.
HENRY
Hm.
SAMUEL
Sir?
HENRY
Outsiders aren’t welcome.
SAMUEL
But we’ve lived here for most of our-
HENRY
Marriage, lives, I don’t care, outsiders are not welcome in this home of God.
SAMUEL
Sir is there anyway you can make an exception? We need food, water, we have nothing and may very well die out in the elements of these woods.
Henry thinks. Adjusts in his seat, Samuel moves back.
SAMUEL
Sir, please, we’re starving. Thirsty. If you give me your address I will send you some money.
HENRY
It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Samuel looks back at his wife. She rolls her eyes.
JEANIE
(Whispers) Jesus.
SAMUEL
I understand, then there has to be something we can exchange for food and water?
HENRY
Yes, there may as well might be.
Henry stands.
HENRY
Follow. Come into my sanctuary, my home where God wonders through these walls and shall for as long as I live.
Samuel and his wife follow Henry off left stage.
BLACK OUT.
LIGHTS UP ON:
THE INTERIOR OF HENRY’S HOME. A SIMPLE TABLE WITH TWO CHAIRS STATIONED CENTER STAGE. HENRY AND THE OTHERS ENTER FROM OFF RIGHT. WALK CENTER STAGE.
HENRY
What faith are you brother?
Samuel thinks, not knowing what to say.
SAMUEL
Uh, well, I was raised Roman Catholic but my wife-
HENRY
You ‘were raised’ you say, but what are you? You must be something. Therefore, what are you? Make present satisfaction of my question, boy.
There is a moment of silence, the air is thick here, and the moon’s light begins shining, making the STAGE DIMLY LIT.
HENRY
Huh?
SAMUEL
Um. I suppose we accept all faiths.
HENRY
Accept or belong to? Which is it? Go on, spit it out, reply, retort, whatever you will, just do it with haste.
Another moment of silence as Henry waits for a response, the air continuously getting more and more thick as the time ticks by second after second, until finally-
SAMUEL
I ah, we’re Catholic.
HENRY
Catholic, huh?
SAMUEL
Yessir. Catholic.
HENRY
What denomination?
SAMUEL
Sir?
HENRY
I said, what denomination?
SAMUEL
Roman?
HENRY
State it don’t ask it, son. Now go on, say it like you mean it-
SAMUEL
Sir is this necessary?
HENRY
Necessary?
SAMUEL
Yes. Is it, sir?
Henry walks over, approaches Samuel.
HENRY
I smell your breath. Fowl and full of sin, I say. Repeat after me, your elder in practice, in the practice of good faith and-
Henry puts his bare hand upon Samuel’s forehead, Jeanie tenses behind her husband.
HENRY
Don’t speak. Listen. Listen, do you hear that? Do you hear the voice of the Lord speaking? Saying unto you that the sin of man is present in my home now, present here, oh yes, and present in your mouth where such foul words are kept and shared among your wh*** of a wife in which she has sinned as much as you, if not more, this wh*** shall-
Samuel PUSHES Henry up against his kitchen table. Samuel grabs Henry’s overalls and throws the man to the floor.
SAMUEL
We have come for food. We have come for water, we have come not to be insulted, to be thrust against this, this-
HENRY
You have no words for what I am reveling, you know why? Because you know it’s true...
Henry begins rushing his words, rushing them faster and faster, spit flying from his mouth like a faucet.
HENRY
You know the word of the Lord holds true and that the word is true and sufficient and spits upon your evil ways along with your wh***’s!
Samuel slaps the man in the face. Henry stops talking at once.
SAMUEL
Henry, Mister, if you speak of my wife like that again you will be farther down than just down on the floor do you catch me? Clear? Unclear? Yes? NO?!
Henry nods, stands.
HENRY
I shall serve you what your desire.
Henry says nothing, only rushes off left stage and disappears.
Samuel turns to his wife. She is shaken and her mouth trembles.
JEANIE
I want to leave.
SAMUEL
Do you realize where we are?
JEANIE
I want to leave!
SAMUEL
Do you? We are miles from civilization and this will be our only pit stop before making it back to the car where we left it in the da** parking lot off the river trail.
JEANIE
Doesn’t matter, Samuel, there is something wrong, very wrong with this man, please.
Samuel stands thinking, the air hovering above his head, so thick you can slice it with a knife, like the ones in Henry’s kitchen...
SAMUEL
Woman, all we have done is disagree, is this the part in our marriage where it all just falls apart, because I sure as he** hope not. It’s been like this for what? The last three four months? The last six months? Last YEAR?
JEANIE
This isn’t about you and me, this is about the fact that there is a man in that kitchen ready to do God knows what to us, he isn’t right, he’s unstable and-
SAMUEL
Is this what you’ve learned over the years from dealing with the crazy people in that hospital in Charlotte? You’ve worked there for all those years as their nurse and is that all you’ve learned?
JEANIE
You’re not making any sense-
SAMUEL
Not but he is! He’s giving us food, he’s giving us water, what else do you think there is to it? Basking under the hot summer sun buried in the dirt of his front yard? Come on, Jeanie. You’re too good for that.
From off left stage we hear-
HENRY
Here we are!
Henry enters carrying a tray of food and glasses of water from off left stage. HE SETS the tray on his table.
HENRY
Enjoy, replenish your bodies with the right nutrients. I’ll be out here on the porch, I never did get to watch the sunset, but that’s alright, God’s provided for us the lovely stars. You all enjoy.
Henry exits off right stage. Samuel hovers around the kitchen table, over the food and water.
SAMUEL
My God.
JEANIE
Just eat the da** food.
Samuel shoves a sandwich in his mouth. Chews. Swallows. SMILES. Jeanie then closes in on the table. Taking a bite of the other sandwich and swallows.
JEANIE
You think we’ll be outta here soon, I mean, we are lost?
SAMUEL
I’m sure he’ll know some sort of directions, I mean, he’s lived here for God knows how long.
JEANIE
What information do you have to support that, huh?
SAMUEL
I am through with this discussion. Eat your food and we will-
JEANIE
No! NO! Samuel I am through will you, and tired of doing all this alone.
SAMUEL
Doing what alone?
JEANIE
You know exactly what I mean, the, the house, the cleaning the caring for, the gardening the laundry, you are never home!
SAMUEL
You couldn’t survive one day in my heels, woman.
JEANIE
WOMAN? WOMAN?! Who in the he** do you think you are, huh?
Samuel approaches Jeanie, up close, Jeanie cringes at this.
JEANIE
You think that we can go on like this? You hitting the town every night playing your poker and just spending the money we have like water huh?
SLAP! Samuel’s hand comes across Jeanie’s. Samuel looks down at his hand, cringes. He sits down, and looks up at his wife, takes deep breaths.
SAMUEL
I’m sorry.
JEANIE
You aren’t even a man anymore. What changed? WHEN? We loved each other.
SAMUEL
Sometimes we just get these urges in us we can’t control, I didn’t mean that, Jeanie. I love you, and God know’s I do.
JEANIE
No. No you don’t.
Jeanie holds her reddened, hurt cheek in pain as her breath becomes unstable.
Samuel rests his head in his hands on the table, then, after so many seconds his eyes shut and his head hits the table with a ‘plop’.
Jeanie has had her back turned to her husband, but at the sound, she turns and looks down at her husband.
JEANIE
Sam? My God, Samuel?! SAM?!?!?
Jeanie shakes her husband violently. There is no response.
BLACK OUT.
LIGHTS UP ON:
THE INTERIOR OF HENRY’S HOME. JEANIE AND SAMUEL CHAINED TO THE LEGS OF THE KITCHEN TABLE. HENRY STANDS DIRECTLY NEXT TO THE TABLE WHEN THE LIGHTS COME UP. SEVERAL HOURS HAVE PASSED.
Samuel begins to move, his eyes shake and move around in their sockets until they finally snap open. He looks around, his eyes wide and fear bubbles out of him has he realizes he is chained to the table. Their back packs have been placed downstage.
Samuel turns to Henry who stands with a wrist watch resting in his left, downstage hand along with the Holy Bible.
Jeanie begins to move. She looks around, her eyes widen and she is chained to the table.
JEANIE
Samuel?
Henry takes a step forward at this.
HENRY
You said you were a couple of what faith?
Samuel looks around, then back up at Henry, who waits for an answer. Samuel clears his throat.
SAMUEL
What have you done?
HENRY
Make present satisfaction of my question or-
SAMUEL
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?!? Get me and my wife out of these chains!
HENRY
Answer me!
Henry draws a knife and holds it to Samuel’s throat.
SAMUEL
Uhm...
HENRY
Don’t worry, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to the question.
SAMUEL
Can you put that thing down, please?
HENRY
I will once you answer my-
SAMUEL
Christian. We are Christian I guess.
Henry puts down the knife and walks in circles around the table.
HENRY
You GUESS?
SAMUEL
That’s what I was raised, sir.
HENRY
You were RAISED? Speak up, I can’t hear you, these ears of mine are old and have heard very loud terrors, I’m actually surprised they are still in working order.
SAMUEL
I’m a Christian. I have been raised to move on and look at things with hope.
HENRY
No, I want you to stand up and shout it. Wait, no, you can’t stand. I want you to shout it, shout it like you’re giving a speech like your the preacher at the church you grew up attending. Well go on...
Samuel clears his throat, his wife looks at him with fear in her eyes, along with a few tears.
SAMUEL
I’m a Christian.
HENRY
Louder.
SAMUEL
I’m a CHRISTIAN.
HENRY
LOUDER MY SON WE CAN’T YOU THERE IN THE WEE BACK!
Henry points out into the audience.
SAMUEL
I AM A CHRISTIAN!!!! I AM A CHRISTIAN! I AM A CHRISTIAN!! I AM A CHRISTIAN!!!
Silence for a few short moments, Henry begins clapping.
HENRY
Well done. The Lord believes you, you have convinced him well. You did such a great job I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you four hours. Fours exact hours on my watch, here.
Henry motions to his wrist watch, he looks down on it with evil in his eyes.
HENRY
If you can’t escape in that time I will for I shall not save you, I shall not hinder the bullet that lays in my firearm. On the contrary I shall sacrifice you to the Lord and his disciples.
Henry extracts his Bible and flips to a marked confession within the Psalms.
HENRY
(Reading from Bible)
Have mercy upon my, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Henry closes his Bible and walks off left stage with a long, awkward gait.
Jeanie sighs, her fear growing with every second that passes. Her breathing his quick, her judgement hazed by her nervousness.
JEANIE
Sam? This table is nailed to the floor.
LIGHTS OUT.
LIGHTS UP ON:
SAMUEL AND JEANIE STILL CHAINED TO THE KITCHEN TABLE, WITH THE TABLE NAILED INTO THE FLOOR.
Samuel squirms as he sits, frustrated and overwhelmed by the situation he and his wife have been thrust into. Samuel tries to catch his breath after huffing and puffing away trying to escape the chains.
SAMUEL
Jeanie. The chains wouldn’t budge, neither will the da** table.
Samuel sits as there is silence, he sits huffing and puffing still as his face begins to pale.
JEANIE
You wanted to hike.
SAMUEL
Oh stop it, Jeanie.
A long, silent moment as the couple recollect their memories together from the past twenty years.
SAMUEL
I love you, Jeanie.
Another silent moment as Jeanie takes in his words.
JEANIE
Samuel you-
SAMUEL
Always have always will.
JEANIE
I know.
SAMUEL
Jeanie I remember when we first met. You thought I forgot but I didn’t. I’ve just been too hard-headed to tell you. But now I’m forced to.
JEANIE
No one is forced to do anything.
SAMUEL
I am. I am because I love you. You were sitting in that cafe reading ah, what was it?
JEANIE
Tennessee Williams.
SAMUEL
Right. T.W. I used to call that guy. But yeah, I sat down next to you, I can remember that you were scared of me at first.
JEANIE
It was raining outside and your dark business man looking hat reminded me of something from one of the crime shows back in the eighties.
SAMUEL
Right. But I sat down, and the waitress came up to me and I asked her for a pint of beer, and that’s what made you look up.
A moment of silence.
JEANIE
I fell in love with you on the spot right there. Right. There.
There is a moment of silence as Samuel trails off.
JEANIE
You’re quiet now.
SAMUEL
I’m thinking.
JEANIE
What about?
There is a short pause before Samuel responds.
SAMUEL
About God. I haven’t talked to him in fifteen years, not since mom passed. Da** all my life, even since I was young I always thought I’d be some religious guy walking around the streets with the thoughts of the Lord in my head but, after mom, I just...
A moment of silence.
SAMUEL
I guess you could call me a rabbit in a fox hole, huh? You know the old saying: ‘Everyone believes when they’re a rabbit in a fox hole’ or whatever animals it is.
The seconds pass by before anything is said. Tick tock, tick tock...
SLOW LIGHT FADE.
LIGHTS UP ON:
SAMUEL AND JEANIE STILL CHAINED TO THE KITCHEN TABLE, WITH THE TABLE NAILED INTO THE FLOOR. TIME HAS PASSED, WE ARE UNSURE OF HOW MUCH TIME EXACTLY.
JEANIE
He’s gonna kill us.
SAMUEL
I know, Jeanie. I’m trying here.
JEANIE
Doesn’t look like much trying to me just...
She trails off, her anger is lost in the thick air still lingering above.
JEANIE
I love you, Samuel.
SAMUEL
I love you to. But now, look we need to get out of here, we don’t have much time. That wrist watch is ticking all the time second after da** second and we are still stuck, chained to this da** table bolted to the floor.
JEANIE
How do you propose we go about-
SAMUEL
I don’t know. Sorry.
Samuel twists, turns into awkward positions in order to try and remove the chains.
JEANIE
They’re metal aren’t they?
SAMUEL
Yeah but the funny thing is I can’t find a big old lock dangling from it, it’s like he just rested these things on us and they’re not even on right. They’re just laying on our wrists.
JEANIE
What? Lemme try unclasping them.
Jeanie struggles with her chains.
SAMUEL
You get them?
JEANIE
No, but I can’t feel a lock on it either.
SAMUEL
Well then if we’re both right and we are feeling what we are feeling then we can easily get out of these chains.
JEANIE
Why wouldn’t he put a lock on them though?
SAMUEL
How would we have found out there wasn’t a big old lock hanging from them? Chances are we wouldn’t have and when he would kill us, than that would just be one more thing for him to laugh about.
JEANIE
Jerk.
SAMUEL
Come on, calm down, keep your head clear. Come on try and find the latch.
LIGHTS OUT.
LIGHTS UP ON:
SAMUEL AND JEANIE STILL CHAINED TO THE KITCHEN TABLE, WITH THE TABLE NAILED INTO THE FLOOR. THEY WORK THE CHAINS WITH THEIR HANDS AND FINGERS AS THE MUSIC CONTINUES TO PLAY IN THE BACKGROUND.
SAMUEL
I think I almost got it!
JEANIE
Hurry, Samuel...
SAMUEL
Just a little bit longer.
Then, suddenly from behind us, a loud YAWN, coming from one of the back auditorium seats. A man stands and points at the stage, WRIST WATCH IN HAND. IT IS HENRY.
HENRY
Fifteen seconds!
Henry begins approaching the stage, running alongside the many rows in the theater.
HENRY
Ten seconds!
SAMUEL
GOT THEM!
Samuel frees his hands and he stands.
SAMUEL
The da** things weren’t locked.
JEANIE
Well HELP ME!!!!
Henry continues powering towards the stage. He reaches it, and then climbs on to it.
HENRY
Five, four...
Samuel goes to unravel Jeanie from her chains...
Samuel reaches, reaches....
HENRY
...three, two..
Samuel works the chains and-
HENRY
ONE! TIME’S UP! Don’t touch her!
Samuel backs away, Jeanie still IN HER SHACKLES.
Henry raises a gun, from out of his back pocket at Samuel.
HENRY
That’s it. Stay away from her and you will live.
SAMUEL
Come on, we got the time, we won now let us go-
HENRY
NO! You won, but she didn’t.
SAMUEL
Please, there must be some way you can-
HENRY
I’ve made up my mind. I SAID NO!!!
HENRY
Now, let me see to it that Miss Jeanie Elizabeth is taken care of properly. She has lost the game or CHALLENGE if you prefer.
SAMUEL
I would PREFER if you let my wife go.
A moment of silence.
SAMUEL
Just please, I’ll give you anything, money, whatever you will just-
Samuel punches Henry in the face, Henry goes down, falls to the floor, the gun knocked from his hands as Samuel reaches for it.
SAMUEL
Honey, go! Try and get free! Unhook the latch, go, it isn’t locked!!!
Samuel reaches for the pistol, but it is grabbed by Henry just as Jeanie’s chains fall from her wrists, she stands and bolts off right stage, Samuel following.
Henry gets up, cocks the gun.
LIGHTS QUICKLY GO OUT.
THREE GUNSHOTS ARE HEARD. BANG! BANG! BANG! A SCREAM BY SAMUEL! AND HENRY’S VOICE IS HEARD.
HENRY
Go ahead! So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin! James 4:17! If you don’t believe me keep running! The trail is found five miles east from here, through the woods! Just follow the markers!
ONLY THE STILLNESS OF THE THICK AIR.
SAMUEL LEADS HIS WIFE, JEANIE OFF THE STAGE, INTO THE AUDIENCE AND OUT THE AUDITORIUM DOOR.
THE END



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