"Good Night, Sweet Prince"
NOTES: Borrowed Chyna, Vess and Asian (aka Fuji) from Dean Koontz's book, Intensity. I was reading it last night, and decided a scene from the book would make a cool one act. Wanted to end it with the same line I'd used in the other two, but decided I liked this one better.
CHYNA: 26, attractive, intelligent black woman
VESS: 30s, handsome, swarthy, more than slightly mentally unhinged
CLERK: 20s-30s, gas station attendant, downtrodden, unhappy w/his station in life kinda guy
ASIAN: 20s-30s, his lover, also attendant, skinny
SETTING: A gas station
ACT I, SCENE I
(CHYNA pushes open gas station door. Bell rings.)
CHYNA: (Looks around nervously. Spots ASIAN and CLERK sitting behind the counter. Eyes dart about nervously, from rack to rack before finally gathering the courage to speak.) Don't tell him I'm here.
ASIAN: (Appears puzzled, but says nothing. Raises eyebrow at her, quizzically. Has a magazine before him, on the counter.)
CHYNA: (Does not wait for either man to respond. Scurries to back of gas station. She is visibly frightened by something.)
ASIAN: (Is reading from the magazine on the counter, casually. Flips page. Licks finger. Flips page. Licks finger… and so on.)
CLERK: (Relaxes on his stool.)
(Doorbell jangles loudly, once more. A large, swarthy man in flannel, jeans and heavy, sturdy work boots enters. Has a Polaroid camera in one hand. ASIAN and CLERK do not appear to acknowledge him. VESS sweeps a large hand through his messy black hair. Coughs loudly. ASIAN finally looks up.)
ASIAN: (Softly, with an accent.) Can I help you?
VESS: (Appears slightly agitated.) Pump seven. (Gestures to the gas pumps outside.)
ASIAN: (Punches in some numbers, bites his bottom lip.) That'll be $25.00, pal.
VESS: (Reaches into the pocket of his flannel and pulls out a wad of bills. Sorts through them until he finds thirty dollars and hands it to ASIAN. Waits for his change.)
ASIAN: (Making conversation as he rings VESS up.) Cold out there, huh, pal?
VESS: (Looks up, sharply, as if he's just realized ASIAN is speaking to him.) I guess it is. (Accepts change from ASIAN and pockets it. Coins clink against something metallic in the pocket of his flannel.)
ASIAN: (Sizes up VESS.) You're not from around here, are you? (Sits back on stool.)
VESS: (Shrugs.) I guess you could say that. (Fidgets a little.) Well... (Eyes magazine rack, picks up Polaroid camera from counter and puts camera into a pocket of his flannel and reaches into his pocket. Pulls out a picture and lets it flutter down to the counter top. ASIAN and CLERK bend down to get a better view.) That there, that's my Ariel. (Photo is of a young, wide-eyed blonde girl. ASIAN and CLERK don't know what to make of her.) Isn't she beautiful?
ASIAN: Sure she is, pal… She the missus?
VESS: (Laughs. Maybe a little too loudly.) Hell no! I don't have time for a ball an' chain… (Sighs, gazes lovingly at the picture of Ariel.) Anyway, she's only sixteen.
(The CLERK and ASIAN are unaware of what to say. They grow reticent, uncomfortable.)
VESS: (Notices this, says nothing about it. Takes a Slim Jim off the rack and opens it. Bites in. Chews loudly. All three men are very quiet. Finally, once he's done chewing, VESS speaks.) Prettiest thing this side of paradise. Ariel, I mean. (Takes another bite, chews methodically, swallows.)
ASIAN: (Barely disguised disdain. Gestures to the half eaten Slim Jim.) You gonna pay for that, pal, or not?
VESS: (Smiles. Drops some money on the counter and ASIAN rings him up.) Don't get me wrong – I never touched her… Not like THAT, anyway. (Pauses.) She's been locked in the basement the past year. Waiting for her to ripen. (Licks his lips.) Waiting for her to get a little sweeter.
(CLERK's and ASIAN's eyes widen in horror at what the man has just told them. VESS relishes their expressions of utter disgust and horror.)
VESS: Really had you going, huh? (Grins. Neither men grin back.)
ASIAN: (Tightly.) You want your change or not?
VESS: Listen, sorry if I offended. I'm just a joker. I like puttin' people on. (Offers them an almost sincere smile. Neither ASIAN nor CLERK bite.)
ASIAN: Look, I don't see what's so funny about it. I have a sixteen year old myself.
VESS: (Turns to the ASIAN, ignoring CLERK's comment.) When I go hunting, I take trophies. You know, like how a matador gets the bull's tail and ears? Sometimes it's just a picture. (Waves the Polaroid.) Pictures. For Ariel. She'll really like you.
('A Boy Named Sue' is playing softly in the background, and the rain is lightly tapping against the windows. No sound is made except for the music and the rain. CLERK shifts uncomfortably. ASIAN taps his fingertips on the counter.)
VESS: (Smiles again.) You guys read the Bible much? (ASIAN nods, CLERK only shrugs.) This is my favorite passage – I'm gonna quote it for you. My mother made me memorize it when I was just a kid. (Clears throat again.) "I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and I have the keys of hell and death." (Gun goes off simultaneously with the word 'death'. ASIAN is blown off of his stool and behind the counter. CLERK reaches for a weapon under the stool and VESS makes short work of him. CHYNA can be seen cowering in the back, watching the entire exchange. VESS drops his weapon on the floor and approaches the two bodies, slowly. Kneels beside the dead ASIAN and stares at his eyes for a long time. Finally, he drags his thumbs over the man's eyelids.)
VESS: (Picks up Polaroid camera and snaps a picture of the ASIAN, putting it with the picture he took of him only minutes before.) Good night, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. (Grabs a Slim Jim from the rack and leaves.)
(CHYNA finally emerges from behind a display, shaking and frightened. She goes over to the two dead men and examines them, and then feels around between them, coming up with an unfired weapon in hand. She quickly exits.)