The Sound That Night (II-III)

II-III. A DEBT PAID

SOUNDSCAPE: THE STILL SILENCE OF A VAST AND ENDLESS DESERT.

SFX: BENNY ABSENTLY TOSSES ROCKS AT THE TRACKS.

BENNY: (bored sigh)

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

BENNY: (looks up, out) Huh?

SFX: THE DISTANT SOUNDS OF AN APPROACHING HORSE.

BENNY: (sees something) Hey… (it clicks, all smiles) Hey! (laughing) He did it!

SFX: STRANGER ARRIVES ON HORSEBACK.

BENNY: You did it! You really did it! It is him, right?

SFX: STRANGER DISMOUNTS.

STRANGER: You tell me.

STRANGER GRABS A HANDFUL OF CLARENCE’S HAIR, PULLS HEAD UP.

CLARENCE: (pained groans) You can’t do this to me…

STRANGER: I can and I am.

BENNY: (looks on at CLARENCE) My God… the sight of him…

STRANGER: This your man?

BENNY: Yeah… Yeah, that’s Clarence.

SFX: STRANGER RELEASES CLARENCE.

Oh. Yeah. Right. (fumbles in pockets) I think this is yours.

SFX: BENNY DROPS TWO COINS IN THE STRANGER’S HAND.

I suppose this makes us even.

STRANGER: (agreeable grunt)

BENNY: (nods) Good. Good… (looks at CLARENCE) I still can’t believe that’s him. (to STRANGER) Ya know, I didn’t think about it till now, but… (emotional) with her folks, and now Clarence… me… Natalie’s all alone now.

STRANGER: Aren’t we all.

A SILENCE, THEN…

SFX: STRANGER TURNS, WALKS AWAY.

BENNY: What happens now? You… you take him to Hell, or somethin’?

STRANGER: My experience? Hell is what you make of it.

SFX: STRANGER MOUNTS HORSE.

BENNY: And me?

STRANGER: Follow the tracks west.

BENNY: (looks west) What’s out there?

STRANGER: (considers this) Maybe we’ll both find out someday.

BENNY: Yeah. I hope so.

SFX: STRANGER RIDES OFF INTO THE EAST.

A SILENCE, THEN…

SFX: BENNY WALKS WEST.

OUT.

THE END

The Sound That Night (II-II)

II-II. THE HUNT

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNSUSPECTING AMBIENCE OF A CONVENIENTLY QUIET, ISOLATED STRETCH OF ROAD.

STRANGER: (voice-over) I’ve heard it said you never hear the one with your name on it. That’s why I make sure they see me coming first.

SFX: CRUISER DRIVES BY, AWAY.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE INTERIOR OF THE POLICE CRUISER.

OFFICER JIMMY: So, uh… How’s Natalie doing?

CLARENCE: Why the sudden interest in my baby sister, Jimmy?

OFFICER JIMMY: No reason, Clarence. Just…making conversation, is all.

CLARENCE: (disapproving growl)

SFX: BANG! THE CRUISER’S TIRE BLOWS OUT.

SFX: CRUISER LOSES CONTROL, CRASHES.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNUSUALLY PEACEFUL ATMOSPHERE OF A QUIET, ISOLATED STRETCH OF ROAD AFTER A CRASH.

SFX: CLARENCE EXITS THE WRECKAGE.

CLARENCE: Jimmy? Jimmy! Jimmy, you brain-dead idjit! What the Hell was that all about?

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

STRANGER: Clarence Middleton!

SFX: STRANGER APPEARS, APPROACHES ON HORSEBACK. SLOW, STEADY.

CLARENCE: Deputy Middle–! (wait, back it up) (barking) You! This your doing?!

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) Clarence?

CLARENCE: I’m here, Jimmy! Some horse-riding son-of-a-whore shot out our tire!

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) I ain’t doin’ so good, Clarence…

CLARENCE: Look what you did to Jimmy, you damned savage! 

STRANGER: He’ll live.

SFX: CLARENCE STRUGGLES TO HIS FEET.

CLARENCE: That right? And me? You gonna kill me, Cowboy?

STRANGER: Dead or alive, you’re—

CLARENCE: Fuck you!

SFX: BANG! CLARENCE SHOOTS STRANGER.

SFX: STRANGER DROPS DEAD OFF HIS HORSE.

A SILENCE. THEN…

SFX: CLARENCE LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY.

CLARENCE: Take that you stupid summna–

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) Clarence…

CLARENCE: I heard ya! Don’t you worry. I’ve got this one handled, Jimmy. You radio for–

SFX: BANG! STRANGER SHOOTS CLARENCE IN THE GUT.

CLARENCE: (weak-in-the-knees) Wha-What in the…

SFX: CLARENCE DROPS TO HIS KNEES.

SFX: THE STRANGER RISES TO HIS FEET.

STRANGER: Clarence Middleton.

CLARENCE: God in Heaven…

SFX: STRANGER APPROACHES, THE JANGLING OF SPURS PUNCTUATING EACH STEP. ONE STEP… TWO… THREE…

CLARENCE: No… No, I shot you. I shot you!

STRANGER: I don’t care.

CLARENCE: Who do you work for? Huh? Who sent you?

STRANGER: You’re wanted for the murder of Benicio Sierra.

CLARENCE: What? That filthy wet–?! Did his people send you? Huh? You idiot! I’m the police! You can’t–!

SFX: BANG! STRANGER SHOOTS CLARENCE, POINT BLANK.

SFX: CLARENCE DROPS DEAD.

STRANGER: I can, Deputy Middleton. And I will.

FADE.

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (II-I)

II-I. THE BOUNTY

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE ATMOSPHERE OF A COZY 1950S HOME OCCUPIED BY A YOUNG WOMAN (NATALIE) AND THE OLDER BROTHER (CLARENCE) WHO MURDERED HER BOYFRIEND IN COLD BLOOD.

SFX: NATALIE CLEANS DISHES IN THE KITCHEN.

CLARENCE: (off) (calm, but dominate) Natalie.

SFX: NATALIE FREEZES. SHE’S TRAPPED IN A ROOM WITH A BEAR.

SFX: CLARENCE ENTERS.

CLARENCE: Is my lunch ready?

NATALIE: It’s on the table.

SFX: CLARENCE INSPECTS THE BAG.

CLARENCE: (warm. ish.) Are these Ma’s persimmon cookies?

NATALIE: Yes.

BEAT.

CLARENCE: You know, I promised her I’d look after you best I could. And I ain’t gonna let any harm come to you. Even when you bring it upon yourself.

NATALIE: Okay.

A BEAT. THEN…

SFX: CLARENCE CLOSES, CRUMPLES BAG.

CLARENCE: I’m all you’ve got left now…

SFX: CLARENCE APPROACHES NATALIE FROM BEHIND, UNCOMFORTABLY CLOSE.

You understand that, don’t you?

NATALIE: Yes, Clarence.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

SFX: HONK-HONK! THE CRUISER’S HORN, CURBSIDE.

CLARENCE: That’s Jimmy. I gotta go. I’ll be home late.

SFX: CLARENCE GRABS HIS KEYS, LEAVES, AND THEN…

SFX: SLAMS DOOR BEHIND HIM.

SFX: NATALIE FLINCHES, GASPS AT THE SOUND. SHE CAN BREATH AGAIN, FEEL AGAIN. AND THE TEARS WON’T STOP COMING.

FADE.

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (I-II)

I-II. THE STATION

SOUNDSCAPE: THE PEACEFUL AMBIENCE OF A BUSTLING, OTHERWORLDLY TRAIN STATION SURROUNDED BY AN ENDLESS STRETCH OF DESERT.

STATION MANAGER: Sir? Excuse me, Sir. Train’ll be arriving shortly.

BENNY: (stirs) Train?

SFX: DISTANT SHRILL OF A TRAIN WHISTLE.

STRANGER: (voice-over) Like many others before him, Benny finds himself on a bench on the platform of a train station looking out across a vast and endless desert. The wood planks worn smooth. The paint peeling and flaking. And the sky burns in the flames of perpetual sunset.

SFX: BENNY RISES, STEPS FORWARD, AND TAKES IT ALL IN.

BENNY: Where am I?

STATION MANAGER: A long way from home. But I suppose we all are.

SFX: TRAIN APPROACHES. UP, UNDER.

SFX: CROWD MURMURS IN ANTICIPATION.

STRANGER: (voice-over) The black locomotive trimmed in gold appears in the east, cutting west across the burning desert, toward the station. The gathering crowd marvels as silver plumes of steam and smoke stretch upward forever until they become the clouds and the stars in the sky.

SFX: TRAIN PULLS IN, STOPS.

SFX: PASSENGERS BOARD.

BENNY: Where does it go?

STATION MANAGER: Somewhere else.

BENNY: Will it get me home?

STATION MANAGER: (considers this) Eventually.

BENNY: Am I dead?

STATION MANAGER: (nods) Afraid so.

SFX: A DISTANT GUNSHOT RINGS OUT ACROSS THE DESERT.

BENNY: (it sinks in) He shot me…

STATION MANAGER: Who?

BENNY: A man named Clarence… Will he come here too?

STATION MANAGER: Does it matter?

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

BENNY: What…?

SOUNDSCAPE: THE STILL SILENCE OF A VAST AND ENDLESS DESERT.

BENNY: (panicked) No. No-no-no. This isn’t–this is… It’s gone! Where did it all… No, it can’t– Hello? Hello?!

SFX: THE STRANGER APPROACHES ON HORSEBACK, SLOW, STEADY.

STRANGER: They’re gone.

BENNY: Where?

STRANGER: (gestures) West.

BENNY: What’s that way?

STRANGER: Something else.

BENNY: And the other way?

A SILENCE. THEN…

STRANGER: The man you spoke of…

BENNY: Clarence… You heard that?

STRANGER: (nods) The bounty is two coins.

BENNY: Coins? I don’t… (checks pockets) I don’t think I’ve got any… (pulls out TWO COINS) (to STRANGER) What is this?

STRANGER: Every soul must pay The Conductor to ride the Train to Elsewhere.

BENNY: (puzzles this) But if I pay you…

STRANGER: You must walk west, across the desert.

BENNY: (looks westward) (to self) Natalie… (To STRANGER) Will I ever make it?

STRANGER: Someday. But long after those you love.

BENNY: And Clarence?

STRANGER: I will find him.

BENNY: (considers this) Yeah. Yeah, okay. You’ve got a deal.

SFX: THEY SHAKE HANDS.

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

FADE.

END ACT ONE

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (I-I)

I-I. CRY, LITTLE SISTER

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DRAMATICALLY APPROPRIATE SOUNDS OF A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

STRANGER: (voice-over) The year is 1955. The place, a moonlit stretch of road cutting and weaving through a weed and bramble-choked canyon somewhere in California.

SFX: A CLASSIC ROADSTER APPROACHES, ROARS PAST, AND AWAY.

The car, meanwhile, belongs to the young man behind the wheel — Benny Sierra. But while his eyes are on the road, Benny’s attention and affection both belong to the charming young woman seated beside him.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE ROCK ‘N ROLL INTERIOR OF A 1955 BEL AIR AS IT SPEEDS DOWN A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

NATALIE: Benny… I had a really nice time tonight.

BENNY: (smiles) Me too, Natalie. (putting on the charm) So, uh… what was your favorite part?

NATALIE: (considers this) Well… I want to say it was the part where I got to share a moonlit picnic by the lake with a dark, handsome stranger.

BENNY: S’that right?

NATALIE: (smiles) Mm-hmm. (teasing) But…

BENNY: (wait. what?) “But”? Wait. What? Why’s there a but?

NATALIE: (bigger smile, pressing on) But… I gotta say, I kinda wish I stayed with that Mutant fellow with the big brain.

BENNY: Laws, that was an awful movie!

NATALIE: (laughs) Did you hear that man sitting behind us?

BENNY: Hear him? I still can’t get his bad jokes out of my head. He was talking through the whole movie!

NATALIE: (snuggles close) I guess it’s a good thing we left early, huh?

BENNY: Yeah. I guess it was.

AND THEN…

SFX: WOOP-WOOP! A POLICE CRUISER FLASHES LIGHTS AND SIREN.

BENNY: Aw, man. What now?

NATALIE: Benny, you better pull over.

SFX: THE BEL AIR PULLS TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, STOPS.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE AMBIENCE OF AN UNWARRANTED TRAFFIC STOP ON THE SIDE OF A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

SFX: OFFICER (JIMMY) APPROACHES, TAPS ON GLASS.

SFX: BENNY ROLLS, CRANKS DOWN WINDOW.

OFFICER: Please step out of the car, Sir.

BENNY: Excuse me?

NATALIE: (to OFFICER) Jimmy?

OFFICER: Hey, Nat. This’ll just take a second. (to BENNY) Sir, please. Step out of the car.

NATALIE: Jimmy, what are you doing?

OFFICER: I’m sorry, Nat.

SFX: DEPUTY CLARENCE MIDDLETON EXITS THE CRUISER, APPROACHES THE BEL AIR.

CLARENCE: The man asked you to step out of the car twice now. Don’t make him ask you a third time.

NATALIE: (furious) Clarence!

BENNY: Aw, shit.

SFX: NATALIE STORMS OUT OF THE CAR, AT CLARENCE.

CLARENCE: Natalie. You get back in there. This ain’t got nothing to do with you.

NATALIE: Like Hell!

SFX: SLAP! CLARENCE STRIKES NATALIE ACROSS THE FACE.

NATLIE: (pained scream)

BENNY: Natalie!

CLARENCE: See what you’ve made me go and do, Mr. Sierra? Think you want to step out of that car now?

SFX: BENNY STEPS OUT OF THE CAR.

CLARENCE: That’s a good boy. (to NATALIE) See? Was that too hard? All I wanted was a little pow-wow with our mutual friend.

BENNY: What do you want, Clarence–

CLARENCE: Deputy Middleton. (To OFFICER) Jimmy. Escort my baby sister back home.

OFFICER: Come along, Nat.

NATALIE: (pulls away) What? No!

BENNY: What do we have to talk about? Was I speeding? You gonna give me a ticket?

CLARENCE: No. We’re past that, Mr. Sierra.

SFX: CLARENCE UNHOLSTERS HIS SIDEARM, PISTOLWHIPS BENNY.

SFX: BENNY DROPS LIKE A ROCK WITH A BROKEN JAW.

BENNY: (pained, broken grunts)

NATALIE: Benny!

CLARENCE: Yeah. I bet that smarts.

OFFICER: Clarence…

CLARENCE: Jimmy. Wouldn’t you agree that there is a God-given order to the world? A purpose. A plan. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

OFFICER: Yeah. Yeah, I guess so. But, uh… Clarence, I don’t think–

CLARENCE: Nor should you. Didn’t I order you to take Natalie home?

OFFICER: Yeah. But…

CLARENCE: Then I suggest you mind your place and do your job.

OFFICER: Yes, Sir.

CLARENCE: And you, Mr. Sierra. We’re going to see if we can sort out exactly where you belong.

SFX: CLARENCE KICKS BENNY IN THE RIBS.

BENNY: (pained grunts)

NATALIE: (sobs) Benny!

OFFICER: Clarence! Stop this!

CLARENCE: Jimmy, I told you–!

SFX: BENNY TACKLES CLARENCE TO THE GROUND.

OFFICER: Clarence!

SFX: BENNY AND CLARENCE WRESTLE, STRUGGLE OVER GUN.

NATALIE: Both of you! Cut this out right this instant!

SFX: BENNY PINS, PUNCHES CLARENCE. ONCE, TWICE…

SFX: BANG! A SINGLE GUNSHOT ECHOES THROUGH THE CANYON.

NATALIE: (frightened gasp)

SFX: BENNY DROPS DEAD.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

NATALIE: (broken) Oh, God…

OFFICER: Clarence… Clarence, what did you do?

SFX: CLARENCE RISES, DUSTS HIMSELF OFF.

CLARENCE: Eliminated the threat.

OFFICER: You shot him, Clarence. He’s dead. He ain’t supposed to be dead. But you shot him, and now he’s dead.

CLARENCE: Then I guess he knows his place now, don’t he?

OFFICER: (shakes head) This is wrong. This is all wrong.

CLARENCE: The only thing wrong, Officer, is that you’re disobeying a director order. Get Natalie home. Now.

OFFICER: What are you going to do?

CLARENCE: It’s like I said: a place for everything, and everything in its place. And someone’s gotta take out the trash.

SFX: OFFICER ESCORTS A BROKEN NATALIE INTO THE CRUISER, DRIVES AWAY.

FADE.

TO BE CONTINUED…