[Scene. A train station. The crowd. Huddled. Still differentiated, still like normal people – peering around, they could just be waiting for a train.
The only difference is the silence.
Officer sits on a bench, arms crossed, nodding off.
Prisoner stands before him, watching.]
P. Well let's get this over with.
[O. wakes from dream, sees him standing there.]
P. Come on. [spreading arms, as if for an embrace. ] Do it.
O. Do what?
P. Shoot me.
O. [All traces of sleep clearing] What?
P. Shoot me. [pause] Come on, I've seen you do it before.
[O.sees him more clearly.]
P. [continuing] To the ones that fought. To that ones that ran –
O. [snapping] Get back in line.
P. Or what? [grins] You'll shoot me?
[He has dark, dull hair. Although fairly kempt, like it's his last solace in life.]
O. Yeah. [standing up, taking gun out] Get back with your sort.
P. Go on; [pointing at his chest] do it.
[O. doesn't move.]
P. Right here, in the heart. Or – a headshot. [moving hand up] Whatever. I don't care. [fingers like a pistol]
[Pause. O.looks slightly away from P., maybe at the crowd.]
[O. lowers arm.]
P. Oh, [eyes narrowing] so you can only do it if I don't want it?
O. That's not –
P. What a sick bastard youare.
O. I –
P. If I'm begging for my life, down on my knees? Screamingand crying out for mercy?
O. Stop it.
P. We could go that route, I suppose. But I haven't been much up with the melodramacting lately –
O. I said –
P. – it would probably come out like a farce.
O. [stepping toward him] Shut up.
P. There we go. [with that grin on his face, stepping closer] Come on.
[O.'s arm remains motionless.]
P .Do it. [Lifts it gently up to head.]
[O.looks around; for his men? They're focused on watching the crowd – the prisoners. Like they'd do anything.]
[Lets his arm drop back down.]
P. Tch. If you won't do it – I will. I'll jump in front of the train. [Walks to the edge of the platform and peers out.] When it comes.
[O. wrenches him back.]
O. You shouldn't talk like that.
P. [continuing] I'm not going. You think I'm an idiot? You think I don't know where you're taking us?
[O.stares at him silently.]
O. Don't say that –
[you might still survive]
P. I'd rather be a ghost.
O. – life is valuable. Always.
P. Oh, well you're one to talk.
[He seems strangely familiar somehow. Especially with that expression in his eyes.]
P. [stepping back] Come on, you sonofabitch. [Beckons, challenging him] Do it. [He's hung on to his glasses somehow; slightly askew on his head. ] You reaper. [He might've been a student.] You piper. You legend, you martyr.
O. Shut up. [Puts hand to head; like he has a headache] Think of your family.
P. Family? [laughs] What a load of shit. [looking down] I had a wife once, she was all I cared about.
[Surprising; he seems kind of young for that.]
P. Last saw her on this train platform, actually.
O. So you think you'll see her? If you.
P. I wish.[his look is wistful] I could delude myself. But I don't believe in that.
O. Oh. [That's right.]
P. No, no [waves hands] don't take it like that. I was never a really religious person you know. Used to fall asleep all the time. [puts them in his pockets] And now I'm dyingfor it. [short bark of laughter] What are the odds?
[One of the men comes close – O.considers shouting out.]
P. Don't be afraid.
P. I'm only about as mad at you as you are at me.
[O. stares at him, but he didn't seem to mind. He mirrors his movements with his head.]
O. What's your name?
P. Does it matter? [shrugs] Soon enough I'll be a number anyway.
O. Don't talk like that.
P. HowshouldItalk then?
O. Like a human being.
P. Oh I'm sorry, [coughs] Sorry, here let me put my pity voice on –
O. Stop it.
P.[melodramacting] Please don't kill me, Mr. Reaper. Please. I've got so much to live for. Just let me live, just let me live, just let me –
O. [grabbing him] Shut up.
P. – live. I just want to live, Mr. Reaper.I just want to live.In whatever shitty little way possible.
O. [shaking him] It's not funny.
[His glasses have fallen off. It makes him look a bit older somehow. As he stares like he sees right through him.]
P. If this isn't funny then what is?
[O.lets him go and sinks back down.]
P. [standing before him] What were you thinking about, Mr. Reaper? What were you thinking about when I came up to you?
O. My wife. [puts head into hands] How she stood there. [The last time he saw her, as the train pulled away.]
P. So you think you'll see her? [crouching down in front of him] On the other side?
O. [Who knows?] I'm not even sure I'd want to.
P. She wouldn't like it. [tracing a pattern on the ground]
O. What it's become.
P. She wouldn't like me.
O. What I've become.
P. So you should break away.
[Run away from it all. Where would I go?]
P. Wandering. [whispers] It's in your blood.
[He seems older, so much older than he really is. He'd been boxed into these situations, put there. Put into these corners trying to crawl out, sharp little corners that he hadn't even known existed. The world was wide but It was too high. As It loomed over him: The world always gets smaller complained the mouse, whatever direction I run. Run the cat said, run. Little mouse. In the opposite direction. As fast as you can and ate him up instead.]
O. I didn't have a choice. [murmured like a whisper]
P. Neither did I; [smiling back] that's why I'm not going.
[O.'s eyes close]
P. Well it's okay.
O. It's all right. [lowers arm]
P. I was already dead –
O. – wasn't I.
P. Already dead.
O. Before the wall even fell.
P. Before the ship even sank.
O. Before the train even left.
P. Before the bird even flew.
P. Aye, dead.
O. 'fore the War even began.
Falling like a pebble in water.
That whistle so shrill, so tired, so sad. An echo. The whistle above.
It set everybody into motion, herders and sheep both and one of them running toward the officer.]
He's tired, so tired. Head hurts and sees everything through a glass darkly. A haze. Needs to get more sleep – this was no way to live.]
O. [looking down] Damn it, I heard you the first time.
[He sighs. Glances up at the arriving train. Back down.
His gun's in his hand, why?
He puts it away and stands up.]
O. Let's get this over with.