by Charles C. Cole
(Police lights FLASH off-stage. A man, about 40, is being taken into custody by a no-nonsense female county-mounty, complete with hat.)
ALISTAIR: I want you to know that I tried for years to avoid today. So, did I fail or succeed?
COP: That’s not for me to say.
ALISTAIR: You want the details?
COP: When you’re ready.
ALISTAIR: I apologize for pulling you away from your family. I wasn’t thinking.
COP: The things that define most of us are what we do when we’re not thinking.
ALISTAIR: Can I explain my side? There’s no reason for us to start off on the wrong foot. I don’t want you to think of me as another bad guy. I’m just a man who got caught up.
COP: You’ve heard your rights.
ALISTAIR: There was plenty of opportunity for all parties. So here I was, out on the town.
(The police lights cease. ALISTAIR steps to a restaurant table, lit nearby, sits. The COP stays, lights dimming.)
ALISTAIR (continues): I was out to dinner with a lady friend. Fore Street: you know the place. Fancy but with an active bar for the common man. We’d been dating a couple months. I was hoping to take things to the next level.
(Enter dweebish bespectacled RUSSELL, with hat and moustache. He acts out his part as described, with an empty glass.)
ALISTAIR (continues): Russell walked in. Maybe it was my fault for sitting near the door or for laughing a little too loudly. It didn’t help that my date was the prettiest thing in the place. He stopped at our table and shook his head, like maybe the shadow government radio signals were bothering him. Then he stepped away. Then he stepped back. I was holding hands with my date when he threw a full glass of ice water in my face. Not wanting to lose a generous tip, our waitress swooped in with some fresh towels. Maybe he’s a regular. Maybe it’s happened before. Russell just stood there. The door was right behind him; he could have left. With my face still dripping, I said: You’ve hated me since high school. It’s got to end.
ALISTAIR: Then what do we do?
(RUSSELL just stands there: no easy answers.)
ALISTAIR: Tell you what, I joked, let’s finish it. Dueling’s legal again: a duel in my pumpkin patch at dawn. Sounds about right. You still shoot guns, I take it. How’s that suit you?
RUSSELL: I’m in.
ALISTAIR: If that’s what it takes. Russell, we were kids. We may not look it, but we are both nearly as close to retirement as prom night.
RUSSELL: You were not a gentleman.
ALISTAIR: I was a very drunk, very amorous teenager who adored your twin sister. I loved Rae-Lynne. We were a couple. Everybody knew that. You didn’t think I was good enough. (To COP) Which takes us to the events of this morning.
(They step away from the table where the lights have dimmed. It is now the next morning. ALISTAIR steps to a tea table and opens a wooden case of dueling pistols. He lets RUSSELL choose first. They keep talking.)
ALISTAIR (continues). (To RUSSELL): You choose.
RUSSELL (Choosing): She said no.
ALISTAIR: What she really said was—
RUSSELL: “You clearly feel you’ve earned it.”
ALISTAIR: I didn’t know she was planning on saving herself for marriage. Who does that?
RUSSELL: You were leaving for college.
(They stand back-to-back.)
ALISTAIR: We were all leaving. But maybe we would have gotten back together. She was my first love.
RUSSELL (Contemptuously): Love!
ALISTAIR: Seven paces, then turn and speak your piece.
RUSSELL: For Rae-Lynne.
ALISTAIR (Counting slowly, for both of them): One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven.
RUSSELL: You broke her.
ALISTAIR: That was not my intention.
RUSSELL: You took something from her.
ALISTAIR: I didn’t tell her not to enjoy it. She thought that if she didn’t enjoy it, somehow it didn’t happen.
RUSSELL: It happened.
ALISTAIR: Two years we dated! I was not going to college an inexperienced country yokel. I wanted my first time with someone I cared about, not at a drunken frat-house party.
RUSSELL: She was never the same.
ALISTAIR: I had expectations, but I wasn’t insensitive. It was supposed to be a big night, for both of us.
RUSSELL: You thought ahead.
ALISTAIR: It was the prom. You count down. A tux. A corsage. Dinner. Romantic reciprocation.
RUSSELL: I mean to kill you, Alistair.
ALISTAIR: I was just going to wing you, bring you to your senses.
(RUSSELL takes his stance. He’s serious.)
ALISTAIR (Continues): She wrote me. She said she forgave me.
RUSSELL: “A rite of passage.”
ALISTAIR: Exactly! I have the letter.
ALISTAIR: Is it too late?
RUSSELL: I hope you go slowly. I’ll call 911, but only after it won’t make any difference.
ALISTAIR: I’m a pretty good shot.
ALISTAIR: There were other options.
RUSSELL: Goody-bye, Alistair.
ALISTAIR (To COP): And then we shot at each other.
(They aim and fire. Two guns go off. Nobody is hurt.)
ALISTAIR (Continues): But it wasn’t like that. That would have been perfect: to do what needed to be done, to make amends, without death or injuries. But things went another way.
(“RUSSELL” removes his glasses, moustache and hat and lets his long hair fall down around his shoulders.)
RAE-LYNNE (Steely): I’m ready now.
ALISTAIR (Lying): I knew it was you.
RAE-LYNNE (Impatient): We doing this?
ALISTAIR: Was that Russell before, or you? When did you get out?
RAE-LYNNE: Do you remember what you said?
ALISTAIR: I said a lot of things. We’ve established that it was not my shining moment.
RAE-LYNNE: “It will only hurt a little.”
ALISTAIR: That was the beer talking.
RAE-LYNNE: I can’t make the same promise.
ALISTAIR: What happened to ‘moving on’?
ALISTAIR: You don’t need to do this.
RAE-LYNNE: I wish you’d said that then.
ALISTAIR: I’m a better person now.
ALISTAIR: If you do this, you can’t take it back.
RAE-LYNNE: I should have said that. Three.
ALISTAIR: And then we shot each other.
(ALISTAIR shoots first. RAE-LYNNE falls and dies.)
(The COP stands and replaces her county-mounty hat, pulls out handcuffs, puts his wrists behind his back.)
ALISTAIR: She wasn’t nearly as good with a gun as Russell. But that’s not important. What’s important is: she had her chance for revenge and she took it. We’re even.
COP: You’ve confessed to taking something from her and then taking something more. Is that even?
ALISTAIR: She could have stopped me, either time. She could have said no. You’re supposed to be on my side: objective. I told you how it happened. Of course, you’re going to take her side. Let’s hope the DA’s a man. And the judge. They’ll get me.
COP: I’ve got you now. (Thinking) How would you like to resist arrest? Or take off? I could give you a lead. Seven seconds. You’re not worth it.
ALISTAIR: I loved her.
Copyright © 2019 by Charles C. Cole