copyright © 2004 Dwayne Yancey


By Dwayne Yancey

Copyright 2004; all rights reserved.

(A roughneck laborer from a well-drilling crew is dejected. Crew boss has clipboard and a water jug or canteen.)

ZEB: Man, this ain’t gonna work.

CREW BOSS: Come on now, Zeb, I don’t want to hear that kind of talk ‘round here. Don’t go getting everybody’s spirits down. (To an imaginary work crew). All right, people, let’s take a break. We gotta replace a drill bit. Ephraim, let’s hustle now, OK? We’re working 25 hours a day until we hit something. 25 hours a day. Sooner we hit something, sooner we can all hit the sack.

(A pause, then he remembers something else to shout.)

Don’t forget to get your ration cards punched. Nobody gets water ‘til you get your ration card punched. That’s the new rule. Gotta live by it.

ZEB: Gonna die by it, is more like it.

CREW BOSS: Aw, come on, Zeb, lighten up, will ya. You’re just tired.

ZEB: Lighten up. Hell. Do you know how many drill bits that makes we’ve busted this week?

CREW BOSS: You drill wells long enough, you’re gonna break a few drill bits. No big deal.

ZEB: No water, either. We’ve been out here digging for how long? And all we get is dirt – red, choking, dry as a dust storm, dirt.

CREW BOSS: The water’s down deep. We just gotta get to it.

ZEB: Don’t you get it, man. There ain’t no water.

CREW BOSS: Of course, there’s water. We’ll hit it eventually, just gotta replace this drill bit.

ZEB: The water’s gone, man. I don’t know where it’s gone, but it’s gone. It’s like it’s all just dried up or something.

CREW BOSS: It’s just a drought, Zeb. Things get dry in a drought. Seen a million of ‘em before.

ZEB: Yeah, and you notice how they’re all coming one right after another? Oh, this ain’t no drought. This is more than a drought. This whole planet’s drying up, man. Drying up. Can’t you feel it?

CREW BOSS: It’s just one of those cyclical things. Water just doesn’t evaporate off into space. It’s got to go somewhere. It’s down in the ground. Trust me, Zeb, we’ll find it. Just gotta dig a little deeper.

ZEB: No, man, I been doing some reading. This is a whole lot worse than they’re letting on. You know that government survey crew that came through last week?

CREW BOSS: You mean them engineers talking about building all those canals?

ZEB: Yeah, them.

CREW BOSS: Damn fool crazy idea, if you ask me. Building canals all over the place.

i Say they can water the whole planet that way, bring water down from the poles. (He snorts.) Do you know how big those canals would have to be to do that, Zeb?

ZEB: Don’t really see how it matters much. See, I was reading –

CREW BOSS: Those canals would be so damn big, they say you could see ‘em from the planet Earth. Can you believe that, Zeb? From the planet Earth.

ZEB: I reckon.

CREW BOSS: That is, if there was anybody on earth to see ‘em.

(He laughs to himself.)

ZEB: It ain’t funny, Luke. It ain’t funny.

CREW BOSS: You know what the real problem is, Zeb? It’s the politicians. They just want some kind of big something they can dedicate, cut a ribbon for, give a name to. Hell, that’s why they want to build all these canals.

ZEB: If you say so.

CREW BOSS: They just don’t believe in groundwater, Zeb. ‘Cause they can’t go out and have a big to-do over a wellhead, no matter how many gallons per minute she’s pumping. There’s no money in it for the engineers, no glory in it for the politicians.

ZEB: There ain’t no groundwater.

CREW BOSS: Come on, Zeb, you know that’s not true. How long we been drilling wells together, now?

ZEB: No. it’s true. I was helping show one of them engineers around last week. Rode in his truck up into the canyon while he was doing some surveying. He had this government report laying there in the dashboard, marked all "top secret and stuff. But it was just laying there, right? Out in the open, all yellowed and stuff from being in the sun, right? So when he was off looking around, I snuck a look at the thing. You know what it says? It says the water’s drying up everywhere. Says it’s only a matter of time before the whole planet goes dry.

CREW BOSS: And you believe what the government tells you?

ZEB: I believe it when I can see with my own two eyes that it hasn’t rained in, what, at least a year? That’s 780 days right there. I can’t remember the last time it rained.

CREW BOSS: Well, I’ll admit, it has been a while since we had ourselves a good gully-washer, but that don’t mean it’s stopped raining for good.

ZEB: And you know what else that government report said? It said the air’s getting thinner too. Can’t you feel it getting thinner?

CREW BOSS: You’re just winded from working hard. You a hard worker, Zeb, you know that, don’t you?

ZEB: And they say it’s getting colder. Can’t you feel it getting colder?

CREW BOSS: I don’t believe that global cooling nonsense. That’s just some crackpot theory somebody made up. There’s no proof of it.

ZEB: Well, it sure feels cooler to me.

CREW BOSS: That’s ‘cause your sweating, Zeb. Sweat cools you down. It’s what it’s supposed to do.

ZEB: I reckon.

CREW BOSS: Come on, Zeb, let’s go get ourselves some water before we go back to work.

ZEB: Can’t.

CREW BOSS: Why not?

ZEB: Done used up my ration card, man.

CREW BOSS: Oh, come on, I’ll give you a punch off mine. What say?

ZEB: Oh, all right. I am right thirsty.

(Crew boss poins to something off in the distance.)

CREW BOSS: Will you look at that, Zeb. A double moon rise. It’s not every day you see a double moon rise.

* * *

Cast of two males

Crew boss

Zeb, a laborer

Props: Clipboard.

Dwayne Yancey

1791 Mount Pleasant Church Road

Fincastle VA 24090


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