A MARTIAN WESTERN
By Dwayne Yancey
Copyright 2004; all rights reserved.
(The scene: A roughneck Western saloon. On Mars. In the last days before the water ran out. A bartender tends bar. Zeb, a hard-bitten laborer, enters.)
ZEB: God, I need a drink.
BARTENDER: Well, you came to the right place. Let me just see your water ration card.
ZEB: I aint got no water ration card.
BARTENDER: You know the rules, Zeb.
ZEB: Yeah, I know the rules. I also know how things really work.
(He reaches into his pocket, for some money, which he slams down on the bar.)
I got 50 right here. Made it drilling wells up in the canyon. Not that theyll do us any damn good. But that 50 oughta do you some good, shouldnt it?
BARTENDER (looks around furtively): Well, I suppose I could. Just this once.
(Zeb reaches into his pocket for one more bill or coin.)
ZEB: Heres another 50. Make it some of the 57. That was good stuff (optional: shit) back in 57.
BARTENDER: Were getting kinda low on the 57, Zeb.
ZEB: Were getting low on all the water round here.
(Bartender reaches down to get some of the water.)
BARTENDER: Just dont tell anyone about this, OK?
ZEB: We drilled for seven days up in the canyon before we finally hit a vein. Seven days, 25 hours a day, too. The whole planets drying up.
(Bartender pours some water into a glass.)
BARTENDER: Its just cyclical, though, right, Zeb? Thats what Ive heard people saying. That its just one of those things that comes and goes. Some day the pendulums gonna swing back the other way, and its gonna all come back.
ZEB: Dont believe that stuff. (Optional: shit.) Its going. Its all going.
(Bartender hands the glass of water to Zeb.)
BARTENDer: There you go.
ZEB: Airs getting thin, too, you know.
(Zeb guzzles down a big gulp of water.)
Damn, that was good. Hit me with another one.
(Zeb reaches into his pocket for more money.)
BARTENDER: Speaking of air, I hear we got a big dust storm blowing in.
ZEB: Some day the whole planets gonna be nothing but a desert. You mark my words.
BARTENDER: Last time one of those dusters blew through, it was weeks before we got the place cleaned up. People were tracking in red dust everywhere they went.
(Bartender hands Zeb a re-fill. Zeb nurses this one.)
Here you go. But thats all I oughta do off the books today. The inspectors are starting to get a little nosy about things like that now, you know?
ZEB: Its getting colder, too, aint it? Aint you feel it getting colder?
BARTENDER: Well, a little, I suppose. Being inside, I dont notice it much.
ZEB: I remember when this planet had oceans, lakes, waterfalls, beaches. I remember growing up, wed take girls down to the beach on weekends; wed come back, and have red sand in our hair all week.
(Engineer enters. He carries a surveyors tripod.)
ENGINEER (shouts enthusiastically): Hey, everybody, come take a look at this.
ZEB: Now look at it, xx, thats the beach there blowing in your front door.
BARTENDER: You mind shutting that door? Wanna keep the sand out.
(Engineer shuts the door, staying inside the bar, but looking out the window.)
ENGINEER: Sorry bout that. But wow, look at that.
ZEB (to the bartender): Whats he so all-fired happy about?
ENGINEER: Come take a look at this. Two full moons rising!
ZEB (dismissively): Seen it before.
ENGINEER: Still, its a pretty sight, dont you think?
ZEB: Enjoy it while you can.
(Engineer walks up to the bar, and talks to the bartender.)
ENGINEER: Whats with him?
ZEB: Be a prettier sight reflecting off the lake, dont you think?
(Engineer shows the bartender his water ration card.)
ENGINEER: Heres my ration card.
(Bartender stamps it or punches it.)
ENGINEER (to Zeb): Well, you might just be in luck then, old timer.
ZEB: All my lucks dried up. Just like everything else round here.
(Engineer props his tripod against the bar.)
ENGINEER: You mind if I put this here?
BARTENDER: Doesnt bother me. You one of them civil engineers?
ENGINEER: Thats right.
BARTENDER: With that government crew?
ENGINEER: Yep. Were surveying.
(Bartender hands the engineer a glass of water.)
BARTENDER: Here you go.
ENGINEER: Thanks. You know, I probably shouldnt say anything, but I suppose the secrets out by now, anyway, so what the heck: You know that dried-up old riverbed out theres in the running for one of the canals.
BARTENDER: You dont say.
ZEB: Canals. Hmmph.
ENGINEER: You dont believe in the canal project?
ZEB: Waste of time and money. Thats all it is. Waste of time and money.
ENGINEER: Oh no, Ive seen the projections. Theyll work. Theyll work wonders.
ZEB: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Thats where were headed, buddy. Into the dust. Aint nothing gonna save us now but a miracle.
ENGINEER: Or civil engineering!
BARTENDER: So they really talking about building those canals then?
ENGINEER: Absolutely. We can bring water down from the poles. Theres enough water there for the whole planet. We just have to tap into it.
BARTENDER: That must be one heck of a canal then.
ENGINEER: Oh yeah, it will be. Biggest government project in the history of this planet. You know, they say these canals will be so big youd be able to seen em from Earth.
ZEB: If there was anybody on Earth.
ENGINEER: Well, yeah, if there was anybody on Earth.
BARTENDER: I hear Earths covered with water.
ENGINEER: Well, mostly, they say. And someday we will be too, again. You just wait and see.
ZEB (building up into a rant): Ill believe when I see it. And right now, all I can see is another dust storm blowing in. Someday, I tell you, theres gonna be one, and its gonna blow us all away, and thats the last youll ever see of this town. They wont even be able to find our bleached bones, well be buried down so deep in the dust. No onell ever know we were even here.
(Zeb finishes off his second glass of water.)
Aaah. 57. Now that was a good year. Things were still wet back then.
ENGINEER (furtively calls the bartender over): Say, got a question for you.
BARTENDER: Whats that?
ENGINEER (whispers): You think I could get a re-fill? See, my ration cards filled up, but if theres, you know, any way you could spot me one, Id really appreciate it.
* * *
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Cast of three -- 2 male, 1 non-gender
Zeb, a hard-bitten laborer (M)
The scene: A Western saloon on Mars, before the water ran out.
Something to pour water out of -- a pitcher will do for the engineers water, but not for Zebs, which needs to come from a bottle.
A surveyors tripod (any kind of tripod, such as a camera tripod), will do
1791 Mount Pleasant Church Road
Fincastle, VA 24090
Days: 540 981 3113
Nights: 540 473 3313
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: www.storyfoundry.com, search under "playwrights"THIS SCRIPT IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL AND MAY NOT BE DOWNLOADED, TRANSMITTED, PRINTED OR PERFORMED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR
performed by Todd Ristau, Marin Miller, and Chris Meyers