copyright © 2004 Dwayne Yancey


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 ain’t 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 they’ll do us any damn good. But that 50 oughta do you some good, shouldn’t 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: Here’s another 50. Make it some of the ‘57. That was good stuff (optional: shit) back in ‘57.

BARTENDER: We’re getting kinda low on the ‘57, Zeb.

ZEB: We’re getting low on all the water ‘round here.

(Bartender reaches down to get some of the water.)

BARTENDER: Just don’t 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 planet’s drying up.

(Bartender pours some water into a glass.)

BARTENDER: It’s just cyclical, though, right, Zeb? That’s what I’ve heard people saying. That it’s just one of those things that comes and goes. Some day the pendulum’s gonna swing back the other way, and it’s gonna all come back.

ZEB: Don’t believe that stuff. (Optional: shit.) It’s going. It’s all going.

(Bartender hands the glass of water to Zeb.)

BARTENDer: There you go.

ZEB: Air’s 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 planet’s 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 that’s 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: It’s getting colder, too, ain’t it? Ain’t you feel it getting colder?

BARTENDER: Well, a little, I suppose. Being inside, I don’t notice it much.

ZEB: I remember when this planet had oceans, lakes, waterfalls, beaches. I remember growing up, we’d take girls down to the beach on weekends; we’d come back, and have red sand in our hair all week.

(Engineer enters. He carries a surveyor’s tripod.)

ENGINEER (shouts enthusiastically): Hey, everybody, come take a look at this.

ZEB: Now look at it, xx, that’s 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): What’s he so all-fired happy about?

ENGINEER: Come take a look at this. Two full moons rising!

ZEB (dismissively): Seen it before.

ENGINEER: Still, it’s a pretty sight, don’t you think?

ZEB: Enjoy it while you can.

(Engineer walks up to the bar, and talks to the bartender.)

ENGINEER: What’s with him?

ZEB: Be a prettier sight reflecting off the lake, don’t you think?

(Engineer shows the bartender his water ration card.)

ENGINEER: Here’s 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 luck’s dried up. Just like everything else ‘round here.

(Engineer props his tripod against the bar.)

ENGINEER: You mind if I put this here?

BARTENDER: Doesn’t bother me. You one of them civil engineers?

ENGINEER: That’s right.

BARTENDER: With that government crew?

ENGINEER: Yep. We’re surveying.

(Bartender hands the engineer a glass of water.)

BARTENDER: Here you go.

ENGINEER: Thanks. You know, I probably shouldn’t say anything, but I suppose the secret’s out by now, anyway, so what the heck: You know that dried-up old riverbed out there’s in the running for one of the canals.

BARTENDER: You don’t say.

ZEB: Canals. Hmmph.

ENGINEER: You don’t believe in the canal project?

ZEB: Waste of time and money. That’s all it is. Waste of time and money.

ENGINEER: Oh no, I’ve seen the projections. They’ll work. They’ll work wonders.

ZEB: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. That’s where we’re headed, buddy. Into the dust. Ain’t 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. There’s 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 you’d 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 Earth’s 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): I’ll believe when I see it. And right now, all I can see is another dust storm blowing in. Someday, I tell you, there’s gonna be one, and it’s gonna blow us all away, and that’s the last you’ll ever see of this town. They won’t even be able to find our bleached bones, we’ll be buried down so deep in the dust. No one’ll 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: What’s that?

ENGINEER (whispers): You think I could get a re-fill? See, my ration card’s filled up, but if there’s, you know, any way you could spot me one, I’d really appreciate it.

* * *


Cast of three -- 2 male, 1 non-gender

Bartender (NG)

Zeb, a hard-bitten laborer (M)

Engineer (M)

The scene: A Western saloon on Mars, before the water ran out.

A bar

Some glasses

Something to pour water out of -- a pitcher will do for the engineer’s water, but not for Zeb’s, which needs to come from a bottle.

A surveyor’s tripod (any kind of tripod, such as a camera tripod), will do

Dwayne Yancey

1791 Mount Pleasant Church Road

Fincastle, VA 24090

Days: 540 981 3113

Nights: 540 473 3313

E-mail: or

Website:, search under "playwrights"


[Dwayne Yancey's website]

[Back to Library] Home