I haven’t published any complete scripts on this blog, until now. What follows is “For The 14th Time,” 10-minute play that was produced in Austin a few years ago by Script Works, and was just produced in Dallas in Nouveau 47’s New Frontiers festival.
This play is a copyrighted work, all rights reserved. If you use it or any part of it without permission, you’re a punk.
For The 14th Time
By Vicki Caroline Cheatwood
BLUE (cowboy, 19ish)
TEXIE (female, 30)
RAYFORD (female, 18)
SMALL (30s, Texie’s husband)
JESUS CHRIST ON THE MORNING SHOW V.O.
THE APOSTLES V.O.
Throughout the play, no matter how energized someone’s speech becomes, even in the heat of passion or panic, no one bothers to get up from the table. Small’s interjections are not calls-to-action but “the thing to say at the time.”
O.S. DOOR SLAM and LIGHTS UP ON
Kitchen table lit by lanterns and candlelight. TEXIE, RAYFORD and SMALL sit, sipping hot coffee. BLUE enters, dust flying off his clothes and hair. The others quickly cover their coffee mugs.
TEXIE: Dang it, Blue. I just swept.
BLUE: Sorry, Texie. What’s that in your cup?
RAYFORD: It’s coffee, Blue. You want mine?
(He takes the coffee. This is no small sacrifice for Rayford. Sadly, Blue only has eyes for Texie)
BLUE: Storm’s turned. It’s headed this a’way.
TEXIE: We rode out plenty of Category 4’s in this house.
BLUE: It’s a Category 18.
SMALL: Any rain in it?
SMALL: I seen rain. Once. When I was a baby. So ‘course I don’t remember it.
(Small hunkers down over his coffee. Blue looks at Texie. Rayford looks at Texie too, but more like she’s gonna pry Texie’s eyeballs out with her fingernails.)
BLUE: They’re saying on the radio that this could be it. They’re calling it an official “Coming,” and saying it could be the actual end. (Pointed, to Texie) This could be the end of things. One last chance.
SMALL: We need to get the livestock bedded down and bolted in, and bury them gas cans so they don’t go off in the storm, and carry the rest of the food down to the shelter.
BLUE: (to Texie) I’ll help you in the barn. If you want.
TEXIE: (a decision) …Yes.
SMALL (not moving) Let’s get a move-on.
RAYFORD: (at Texie and Blue) Small. You don’t see no problem with this?
LIGHTS UP ON SCENE 2
(Everyone’s just as they were three seconds ago)
SMALL: Wasting valuable time, people.
BLUE: Figured y’all’d already be underground.
TEXIE: Never heard the alert.
BLUE: Where’s your radio?
TEXIE: Rayford “fixed” it.
RAYFORD: It was broke already. We were having to crank it every other minute.
BLUE: I can work it over if you want me to, Texie.
SMALL: Category 18?
BLUE: Category 18. That’s what they’re saying.
SMALL: What was the one that killed all them people in town?
ALL: Category 5.
BLUE: Y’all get it bad out here?
RAYFORD: They freaked out and spent all day in the shelter. I didn’t. I stayed on the porch and let it come. The wind was-
RAYFORD: Crackling. In my body, through my whole body, hard. The sky was around me and through me, electric, the color was –
TEXIE: Moldy. Brackish.
SMALL: Let’s get moving.
BLUE: Everybody in town said, “Looks like the Fourteenth Coming of Christ.”
RAYFORD: I remember The Thirteenth Coming.
TEXIE: (scoffs. To the men) She was barely ten months old.
RAYFORD: I guess you would know that, Texie, as you were and are so incredibly much older than me. By some twelve years. (to Blue) …There was a song playing on the radio. (Speaks the lyrics) “Sugar, sugar/Ah, honey-honey/You are my candy girl/You got me wantin’ you …” (forgetting the lyrics) Something-something-something… (singing to Blue) “pour a little sugar on me, honey/pour a little sugar on me, honey.” Something like that.
SMALL: You sure got a nice voice, Rayford.
RAYFORD: Thank you, Small.
BLUE: I just barely remember The Thirteenth Coming, and I was six years old at the time. Middle of the day, I guess on a Saturday because we’s in town, shopping at the IGA. One of the Heavenly Host came up to me in the cereal aisle and offered me a stick of candy, but he looked just like Santa Claus and I was always scared to death of Santa Claus, so I just froze up. Mama said, “Be polite to the Heavenly Host or I’ll taken the hide offa you.” So I took the candy out of his “hand” – whatever they call them things they got – but I never did like the taste of peppermint, so I give it back to him. Mama grabbed holt of my arm so hard, felt like my fingers was gonna bust like sausages in a frying pan. The Heavenly Host guy chucked me under the chin and smiled. And then he took in this great big breath of fire and sucked up Mama and blew her down into the pit of Hell, and then went on his way. That was something to see.
SMALL: We need to mobilize.
RAYFORD: Our Mama was lifted up, but Daddy was took to Hell. Texie never says why. She was plenty old at the time. She remembers, but she won’t say. She don’t realize that there’s a lot that I remember, things I heard and things that I know. A. Lot. Of. Things.
TEXIE: I can’t imagine nothing worse than The Thirteenth Coming. Breath of God blew through and drove the chickens halfway through the barn wall, beaks embedded in the tin. We lost nearly every animal on this place.
RAYFORD: And Mama was Raptured, her poor sick body lifted up by the Heavenly Host. Somebody took pictures of it as happened. Nobody got pictures of what happened to Daddy.
TEXIE: I don’t know that I got that barn door shut good.
BLUE: Better go check it.
RAYFORD: Jesus, Small. Do something.
SMALL: Let’s go, people. Get moving.
TEXIE: (to Blue) Moving. Yes.
LIGHTS UP ON SCENE 3
(Again, everything’s exactly the same)
SMALL: Time’s wasting. Sooner the better.
RAYFORD: If the Second Coming was the “end of the world” and there’s been at least eleven more “Comings,” eleven confirmed visits from the Christ Incarnate – and yet we’re still not wiped out, people are still on this Earth – doesn’t that make you wonder just how “all mighty powerful” God really is?
BLUE: I’d sure like to have a crack at that radio, Texie.
TEXIE: You’ll need a screwdriver from the tool room. In the barn.
(Exasperated sigh from Rayford)
LIGHTS UP ON SCENE 4
(Again, no change on stage)
BLUE: (to Texie) Got any more coffee?
TEXIE: Sure don’t. Squeezed last cup of water outta the cistern this morning for bath day. It’ll taken a few weeks to get it back up to a foot deep.
BLUE: Y’all are lucky. We recycle our own piss, but it’s damn hard to work up a piss when you ain’t had nothing but a half-cup of piss every 34½ hours.
SMALL: I miss spittin’. Man, I used to love to spit. We all got to make some changes.
RAYFORD: (to Blue) Take me to the barn. I’ll put soft butter in my mouth.
BLUE: (to Texie) You got butter?
LIGHTS UP ON SCENE 5
(Nothing’s changed with the people. There’s a sound of STATIC, VOICES, DISTANT MUSIC from the radio)
SMALL: Where’d they say that storm was?
TEXIE: Guess it’s time.
RAYFORD: I’m not going down there.
TEXIE: Category 18, Rayford. Don’t be an idiot.
RAYFORD: (to Blue) Considering my suspect origins, it is a miracle that I am not an idiot.
TEXIE: (to Rayford) If I have to, I will drag you and your filthy mind down into that shelter.
RAYFORD: Because you made a promise. To Mama.
TEXIE: Yes, I did.
RAYFORD: What about the promise to the Lord? The one that goes “Clinging ye only unto him.” (points at Small)
SMALL: Time to get a move on, people.
TEXIE: Get downstairs, Rayford. Now.
RAYFORD: Y’all go on down, all three of you, and I’ll be right here waiting, so that when Jesus comes, I can relate to him about what-all commandments been busted around here tonight.
BLUE: I better git.
SMALL: Dust is blowing awful thick.
TEXIE: You should spend the night.
TEXIE &BLUE & RAYFORD: In the barn.
RAYFORD: Oh good God.
SMALL: We all gotta pitch in.
RAYFORD: Small. I pray you are not a man who lives up to his name.
RAYFORD: Take me downstairs. Now.
FOUR EXPLOSIONS, each deeper and bigger than the last, until the fourth one vibrates the seats.
(Lights to half. Small and Blue are the only ones left on stage. There’s a full pot of coffee on the table. There are the women’s chairs are scorched and cleaved in half (and still smoking, if possible). SOUND Bird song, loud. Static clears and a gorgeous male voice comes over the radio)
JESUS V.O. Good morning, good people. This is Jesus Christ in the Morning.
APOSTLES V.O. And we’re the Apostles!
(Throughout, The Apostles punch up Jesus’ remarks with sycophantic laughter and inane commentary)
JESUS V.O. In case you slept through it last night [laughter], that was an official “Coming”. I’m here. I came. [laughter] We’re gonna open the phone lines in a minute to take your questions about what The Fourteen Coming accomplished, why are those of you still here – well, why are you here and not Raptured or otherwise dispatched, and will the Earth ever see rain again? We’ll do our best to answer these and all your questions. Be right back,I promise.
(SOUND: an insipid “oldie” – maybe “Sugar, Sugar”)
BLUE: Jesus God. Who’s idea of paradise is this?
(Beat, as they drink coffee)
SMALL: I know where she kept it.
SMALL: The butter.
BLUE: Ah. Shit.