The west that never was

 

(This is a two-hour movie script, written with the idea of John Ford and John Wayne in mind, and an effort to evoke some of the same powerful concepts of those two giants)

 

 

PRELUDE: The film opens with the image of mountains from a high up view, it is dusk, and the camera moves across the changing landscape, showing scrub brush and mountains thick with trees. We are following the vague lines of old trails down the mountain. Smoke rises from one small place in the scene and in passing from a slightly less higher view, we see several Indian tee pees, but do not pause, but continues to follow a steadily more distinct trail off the mountain, and finally meeting a road. The camera continues to follow the road, where there are outcroppings of buildings, and for the first time we hear the toot of a distant train and begin to see the glow of buildings as we come into town.

††††††††††† The cattle and hog pens are stirring with animals, although dark hides them for the most part and the camera is drawn through the streets to where a dance going on full of joy and loud music. But we pass this, and come to a side street, where four men are beating up on a fifth man in the dark alley, and leave him bent over on the ground where he bleeds.

††††††††††† The camera remains on the man as the sound of footsteps fades, and eventually, he stirs, pulls himself up, looks around.

††††††††††† He mumbles, moans, then slowly, painfully gets to his feet, and we follow him as he staggers through the streets and into a stable. We see him, hitch a team of horse to a fully loaded wagon. He climbs up onto the seat, stirs the horses and rides out. It is still dark but we see the wagon waddle into the distance along the road, fading into the gloom as the camera remains fixed for a moment at the town boundary.

††††††††††† The shot is overlaid as the face of the woman fades in. She is looking out into the dark with the dance still going on behind her.

††††††††††† †Her face is concerned.

††††††††††† Others who are engaged in the festivities call to her, but she shrugs them all. Then she seems to come to a decision, and starts to walk into the dark streets, calling out for someone named ďStretch.Ē

††††††††††† Away from the music, she becomes aware of other sounds in the dark and hurries her step, looking back frequently, as the camera cuts away to show that the gang from the fight are now pursuing her.

††††††††††† She hurries. But they move quickly, one of the men, obviously the leader, motions for the other men to get something, they rush off and he continues the pursuit on his own, we getting alternating shots of his cruel shape hurrying after her as she looks more and more panicked.

††††††††††† They hurry through the narrow alleys, and then she starts to run, and the man chances her, but she is soon cut off by the other men, who are now mounted on horses. The man grabs her. She tries to scream. He hits her, then orders one of the others to tie her up. We see them ride out with her.

††††††††††† The camera then moves passed them, looking down on the road, following it, passing over the wagon now moving along it, rushing ahead of the riders and the wagon along the worn track, not back into the hills, but along a lower road, eventually coming to the arch of a ranch over which the glint of dawn shows and through this and towards the ranch house where a gray haired man his raising his voice in the kitchen.

 

Scene one: Ranch house. Grandfather, founder of the family empire is ranting at Ben at the supper table as Grandmother is seated and one of the older manís sons, Frank, looks on.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I donít raise not fools in this house, boy.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I didnít mean to upset you, Grandpa.

 

GRANDPA.

††††††††††† What did you expect with all your talk of going back East to school?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I said I was thinking about it.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† And who put such a foolish notion in your head

††††††††††† Was it that sissy teacher they got down at the school house in Junction?

††††††††††† Who ever heard of a real man teaching school anyway?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Mr. Wilson didnít say it in so many words.

††††††††††† I kind of thought it up for myself.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† He must have said something to make you so skittish.

 

BEN:†††

††††††††††† Iím not skittish.

††††††††††† I just want to learn more

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† For what?

††††††††††† What you need you can learn right here on the ranch

††††††††††† The only reason we sent you to school in the first place was so that you could learn out to read.

††††††††††† God knows why?

††††††††††† (Grandpa glances angrily in Grandmaís direction.)

††††††††††† The rest of us got along fine without reading.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† Itís not the same world you grew up in, Carl.

††††††††††† A boy needs his letters to get by today.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Hogwash!

††††††††††† School is always a bad idea, teaching boys like Ben not to be satisfied with what heís got, filling his head with notions that he can be something different, something better than his kin have been.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† Maybe he can.

††††††††††† You make this life out to easy, Carl

††††††††††† When itís never been easy.

††††††††††† I lost three youngins proving that.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† The ones that survived grew up strong.

††††††††††† And they know their place in the world. Theyíre not dreaming over something else all the time.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† They know their place because you keep telling them what it is.

††††††††††† I donít think any of them ever had an original idea in his head, except our Frank here, and you drove those ideas out of his head years ago.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Please, Ma.

††††††††††† Donít go dredging up all that stuff again

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† See, Carl.

††††††††††† Even heís afraid of you.

††††††††††† Do you want Ben to fear you, too?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† If it keeps him on the right road, I do.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† Right road for who?

††††††††††† You or the boy?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† For both of us.

 

GRANMA:

††††††††††† Itís not the same road.

††††††††††† You needed things he doesnít need

 

GRANDPA:††††

††††††††††† The ranch is the same.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† But the world isnít.

††††††††††† Youíve seen the automobiles putting around, even in Junction City.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Foolish contraptions that people need in the east, not here.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† What people need in the east weíll soon need here.

††††††††††† Look at what the rail road has done

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† You look at it.

††††††††††† To my mind the worst thing that happened to the west was the railroad -- except maybe for barbed wire. Thatís worse.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† Your not liking something isnít going to stop it from happening.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Weíre talking about the boy, not the world

††††††††††† And I say he doesnít need any more schooling.

††††††††††† Heís big enough and old enough to take his place on the ranch the way his kin did at his age.

 

GRANDMA:††

††††††††††† And get stuck here like they got stuck?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Youíre making it sound like a bad thing.

 

GRANDMA--

††††††††††† I donít mean for it to sound that way.

††††††††††† God knows this place has been good to us, despite all the hardships.

††††††††††† But such a place can feel like a prison to a mind not set right on it.

††††††††††† I think Frank can tell you that.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Leave me out of this, Ma.

††††††††††† I donít need no trouble.

 

GRANDMA--

††††††††††† Iím not looking to make trouble for you, Frank.

††††††††††† But I know you had other things in mind than sweating our your days on this ranch.

 

FRANK

††††††††††† I donít think about that no more.

††††††††††† So it donít bother me.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† Thatís why I hear you moaning late at night?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Bad dreams, Ma

††††††††††† Everybody has bad dreams.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† Not every night

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Weíre not talking about dreams.

††††††††††† Weíre talking about the boyís future.

††††††††††† And I wonít let him waste his life by going back to no fancy school back east.

 

GRANDMA: †

††††††††††† What did you have in mind, Carl?

 

GRANDPAS

††††††††††† That the boy take his rightful place here on the ranch, learning this ways so that when the time comes, he can take over from our sons.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† Thatís assuming thereíll still be a ranch to take over.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Donít argue with me, woman.

††††††††††† Iíve made up my mind and thatís final.

 

BEN:†††

††††††††††† But I canít stay here.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Are you defying me, boy?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I donít mean to defy you, Grandpa.

††††††††††† I just know I canít spend the rest of my life here the way you have planned for me.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† We donít need him, Pa.

††††††††††† He could go to school back east and help out here when heís finished.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Now it all comes out

††††††††††† Youíre taking the boyís side against me.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Iím not Pa.

††††††††††† But if Benís not happy...

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† If heís not happy, itís because of bad blood.

††††††††††† The kind you had and we had to get rid of.

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† Does anybody that disagrees with you have bad blood, Carl?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I told you.

††††††††††† This is settled.

††††††††††† Thereís only one way to get ride of bad blood and thatís to work it out of him.

††††††††††† Get out to the hog pen, boy. Clean it up.

††††††††††† Later, Iíll take a ride into town to have a talk with that teacher about putting these ideas into your head.

 

SCENE TWO:

†(Ben steps out onto the long porch where two horses are tied at the rail and two of his other uncles wait for him).

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† What the devil is wrong with you, Ben?

 

BILL:

††††††††††† Why do you keep having to get the old man riled like this?

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† Every time you peeve him off, he takes it out on us.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I donít see you going out to clean the hog pens.

††††††††††† When the old man gets mad at me, I wind up slopping pig droop out of the mud.

††††††††††† I stink so bad most of the time I think Iím turning into a hog.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† Pop has his own way of punishing us.

††††††††††† When Iím bad he sends me up to the north 40 for a few weeks of tending fences there.

††††††††††† He keeps on about rustlers and Indians as if this was the old days.

††††††††††† I tell him nothingís going to disturb the cattle except for the hoot of a train now and then.

††††††††††† But he wonít listen.

††††††††††† I hate the North 40, riding all day, sleeping on hard ground at night.

††††††††††† Itís so far from town, I couldnít sneak back if I wanted to.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† I wish I could get that far away.

††††††††††† When the old man gets mad at me, he makes me work with him.

††††††††††† He knows I had being around him all the time.

††††††††††† He treats me as if I donít know anything and he has to teach me everything all over again.

††††††††††† The worst part is his story telling.

††††††††††† If I hear them once, Iíve heard those stories a hundred times, had he had nothing when his father brought the family out here, and how he and his father worked to carve a place for us here.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† Here we do what weíre told and we still get punished.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I donít see why.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† Because when you give him a hard time, he thinks we all have the bad blood starting up in his and he has to get rid of it before it spreads.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I donít mean to give him a hard time.

††††††††††† He just doesnít listen when I tell him I donít want to be a rancher all of my life.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† That is giving him a hard time.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† That kind of talk is bound to kill him.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I donít understand.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† The old man loves you better than he ever did any of us.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† He has some way of showing it.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† Heís showing it the only way he knows how.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† He wants you to learn the ranch so that you can take over when he grows too old.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Me?

††††††††††† What about the rest of you?

††††††††††† After all, he has five sons.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† Albieís off in the army and Harryís a drunk.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† As for the rest of us, we havenít quite turned out like he wanted.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† And I have?

††††††††††† All I want to do is leave.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† Youíre still young.

††††††††††† He thinks he can mold you into what he wants, learning from the mistakes me made with the rest of us.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† Besides, he sees some of his father in you, something wild and untamed.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Whatever he think he sees in me, heís wrong.

††††††††††† Iím never going to take over here.

††††††††††† Iíll run away first.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† And go where?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† East. We got some family there.

††††††††††† I donít want to be scraping pig shit off my boots for the rest of my life.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† You think youíre the only one with ambitions.

††††††††††† I had a job offer in town at the saloon, bartending, maybe managing later.

††††††††††† But pop told me that was no way for an honest made to make a living and refused to let me go.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† Even the bank job I got offered wasnít good enough.

††††††††††† Pa said I could do better here on the ranch than spending my life counting other peopleís money.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† If you want to go, you should go.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† Youíll stay just like we did, if Pop tells you to.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† No, I wonít.

††††††††††† Iíll go live with the Indians first.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† Heíll hunt you down and drag you back.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Weíll see.

 

SCENE THREE: (The hog pen -- Ben s up to his ankles in mud, sorting through the mud with a pitchfork as he tosses clumps of pig crap into a wheel barrow on the other side of the fence. Frank strolls up from the ranch house and leans on the fence.)

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† What the hell has gotten into you, boy?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Like I told Grandpa, I ant to go back east to school.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Youíre crazy.

††††††††††† Thereís nothing back east for us, let alone a fancy school.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Our folks came from the east.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† So did everybody elseís, except for the Spanish.

††††††††††† But we were born here. That means we stay here.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Thatís grandpa talking. Not you.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Itís the way things are.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† So you say.

††††††††††† So grandpa says.

††††††††††† All this talk about the glories of the west.

††††††††††† Itís bunk, and you know it.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† I never said anything about glory.

††††††††††† But weíre here. This is where our roots are.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† Amounts t the same thing, whether you say the words or not.

††††††††††† Neither of you can see how that old life is coming to an end, and all we really got here is a trap.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† And thatís the teacher talking, putting words in your mouth and thoughts in your head.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† What if it is?

††††††††††† That doesnít make it any less true.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Now youíre trying to tell me what truth is?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iím not telling you anything, except what I want.

††††††††††† Itís you and the others telling me what I can and cannot do.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† He's just looking out for your best interests.

 

KEN:

††††††††††† I think Iím better off looking out for my own.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Pa wonít let you go east no matter what you say.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Then Iíll go east on my own.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Youíre sixteen.

††††††††††† Youíre too young to go gallivanting through the country.

††††††††††† Youíre likely to get yourself killed or worse.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Grandpa was 16 when he and his father came here.

††††††††††† This place was a lot more dangerous then than it is now, and a lot more dangerous than the east was.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† The world is still dangerous.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Not from Indians or outlaws.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Each time has its own dangers.

††††††††††† What was dangerous in País time might not be dangerous now.

††††††††††† But thereís a lot to look out for, and you may not be wise enough to know what it is.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iíll take my chances.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Itís sounds like youíve made some plans.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I have.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Mind sharing them with me?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Youíll tell grandpa and heíll shackle me to the barn.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Iíll tell nobody if you ask me to.

 

BEN (pauses thoughtfully for a moment)

††††††††††† Iím taking the train out of Junction on Monday.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Junction?

††††††††††† Thatís 30 miles away.

††††††††††† How were you figuring on getting there?

††††††††††† By walking?

††††††††††† You might not make the train if you do.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iíll walk if I have to.

††††††††††† But Iíve made other arrangements.

 

FRANK: (pauses, then nods)

††††††††††† The supply wagon is due tomorrow.

††††††††††† I suppose youíve bribed Stretch to drive you there when he goes back.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I didnít have to bribe him.

††††††††††† He likes me.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† He likes País business, too.

††††††††††† So figure heíll tell Pa eventually.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† After itís too late.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Itís never too late.

††††††††††† Pa will come after you.

††††††††††† I know how he thinks.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Then heíll have to catch up with a train.

††††††††††† Or come all the way to New York to drag me back.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† New York?

††††††††††† Is there where you intend to go?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† We had family there.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† That was a long time ago.

††††††††††† Nobodyís heard from them in a long time.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iíll find them.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Thatís crazy talk.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Look, I have to finish this.

††††††††††† You said you wouldnít talk, so Iíll take you at your word.

††††††††††† But Iím telling you, my mindís made up.

 

SCENE FOUR:† (in the night, the crickets sound, a few bats flap across the dark sky between the ranch house and the bar. In the distance, a railroad whistle toots though the rack of its wheels seem more vague and indistinct. The animals stir, hogs, cattle mules and eventually horses. Ben makes his way out, carrying saddle bags and an old single shot carbine rifle his grandfather gave him years earlier. He comes into the stable where a young stallion stirs at his approach)

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Whoa, Storm.

††††††††††† I just wanted to say good bye and tell you why I canít take you with me.

††††††††††† I couldnít say anything† in front of anybody, how much Iím going to miss you and the other critters.

††††††††††† I know you donít understand.

††††††††††† But this isnít the life for me -- maybe for nobody any more.

††††††††††† I get such a bad feeling when I look at the window and see all the fences going up and new people moving in.

††††††††††† Grandpa thinks all this will go on forever and that we can keep on riding and shooting forever.

††††††††††† Mr. Nelson over at the school says weíre seeing the end of an era and I believe him.

††††††††††† Thatís why I gotta go east.

††††††††††† I donít want to see the west get buried under something.

††††††††††† But going east means I gotta leave you behind.

††††††††††† You see?

 

(The small horse nuzzled Kenny. But in the same way it always has part of the affection the boy and animal have shared from the start.

††††††††††† Then, outside, distant at first, but growing lower and closer comes the sound of a horse and wagon approaching. Ben leaves the stable and walks to the gat, staring towards the road twisting out of the hills. At the other end of the road is Junction and the railroad.

††††††††††† Out of the dust and gloom of still early dawn, the wagon appears, though still dim, a lone driver sits on the bench, slumped over, apparently weary from the long ride and the early arrival.

††††††††††† The wagon is heavy with crates carted here from the depot in junction, and the horses, already searing from the long ride , move slowly so that the sun rises over the lip of the land in the east before the wagon approaches the gate.

††††††††††† As the wagon grows closer, the more obvious at the injuries to its driver and the slump seen at a distance is the product of some beating he suffered earlier.

††††††††††† The tall driver looks up, his face partly hidden by the crop of blond hair had sticks out from under his hat on all sides.

††††††††††† He is only a few years older than Ben, but his face has aged with the pain and purple bruises from his beating. One eye is nearly closed, and his mouth shows streams of dried blood on the corners.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† What happened to you?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Kid Kelly and some of his clan kicked the devil out of me after last nightís dance.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Why?

 

STRETCH:†††††

††††††††††† Because I danced with your teacherís daughter then Kid said I shouldnít.

††††††††††† They wanted to dance with her and worse.

††††††††††† When she preferred me, the figured I was the cause, and laid in wait for me at the warehouse, then wailed on me.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Did you go get the sheriff?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† That tub of lard ainít going to tangle with the Kid and his kind, not unless they killed me.

††††††††††† Maybe then the sheriff might get up a posse, if he could drag himself out of that rocking chair he sits in all the time.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† So what are you going to do about Kid?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Nothing, I guess.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† What about Nelly?

††††††††††† You gonna stop seeing her because of what Kid did?

††††††††††† I always knew she was stuck on you.

 

STRETCH:†††††

††††††††††† Kid Kelly would have to kill me to stop me from seeing her.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iíve heard Kidís killed other men for a lot less than a woman.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Maybe he has.

††††††††††† But that wonít make Nelly like him any better. She canít stand him or his crowd.

††††††††††† She told me sheís a little scared of them.

††††††††††† They always seem to be hanging around and watching her wherever she goes.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Maybe Mr. Nelson can have a talk to the sheriff.

††††††††††† Even Bender has to sit up and take notice when a respectable man like the townís teacher talks to him.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Bender might notice, but it wonít move him none.

††††††††††† Mr. Nelsonís not from the west and he donít command no respect the way someone like your grandfather would.

††††††††††† Thatís why I intend to have a talk with your grandpa and see if he can do something about Kid Kelly.

 

BEN: (clearly alarmed)

††††††††††† Today?

††††††††††† You intend to talk to him today?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† If I can.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† What about my ride into town?

 

STRETCH: ††††

††††††††††† I promised you a ride so Iíll give it to you.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† But it has to be early.

††††††††††† I have to meet the train. So that doesnít leave you no time to wait and talk to Grandpa about anything.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† The sooner I get the talk done, the sooner I can rest easy.

††††††††††† To tell you the truth, Iím a feared Kid might do something bad real soon.

††††††††††† And Iíd like to see him run out of these parts before he does.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Couldnít you wait a day or two?

††††††††††† Youíll be back this way the day after tomorrow.

††††††††††† You can talk to grandpa then.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† You seem a bit anxious about meeting that train

††††††††††† You got some girl coming in on it that I donít know about?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† No, I donít.

††††††††††† You got girls on your mind.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† I got one girl on my mind.

††††††††††† Iím thinking about asking her to marry me.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Youíre too young

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† No younger than your grandpa was when he tied the knot.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Things were different back then.

††††††††††† Times were so dangerous you had to hurry up and get a family or you might not live long enough to get one.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Itís still dangerous. Just in other ways.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† If I help you unload, maybe we can start back to Junction right away.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Boy, you are in a hurry.

††††††††††† I had intended to rest a little and recover from the beating I took last night.

††††††††††† But if youíre lending a hand, thatíll be half as much work for me. So I guess we can set off as soon as weíre done.

 

 

SCENE 5 (Stretch drives, Ben riding beside him on the wagon, a banging buck board whose rattles echo in the twisted hills causing† Ben to cringe and glance back towards the ranch that is almost, but not quite out of sight -- despite an hourís ride along the twisted road. But the dust cloud approaching horses shows ahead of the wagon on the road, not behind it, and Stretch brings the wagon to a half.)

 

BEN:

††††††††††† What are you doing?

††††††††††† Why did you stop?

 

STRETCH ††††† (Pointing ahead at the trail of dust)

††††††††††† If that donít look like trouble, nothing does.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Itís only some riders on the road.

 

STRETCH

††††††††††† ON a road to our ranch or into the foot hills

††††††††††† Since all of your folks were still sleeping when we left, this has got to be someone heading to the cutoff into the foothills just ahead.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† So?

 

STRETCH

††††††††††† So Kid Kelly and his boys are rumored to have a shack up in those hills somewhere, and Iím not hot on meeting him on the road with only you, me and that peashooter of your rifle to ward them off.

††††††††††† So weíre just gonna sit here until they climb up into those hills, or if itís not them, then weíll get to see who it is.

††††††††††† Iíve heard these hills got a few Indians in them, too, and Iím just about as anxious about meeting them as I am with the kid.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Grandpa said thereís a few Indians camped up along the ridge somewhere.

††††††††††† He said they donít hurt nobody so he leaves them alone

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Thatís a good philosophy.

††††††††††† And Iím gonna follow it, too.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† We donít have time to wait.

††††††††††† Youíve already gone so slow weíre gonna have a heck of a time getting to Junction on time for the train.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† If we donít get there when the train comes, then whatever youíre waiting to get will be waiting for you to get it when we get there.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† You miss the point, Stretch.

††††††††††† Nothingís getting off that train, Iím getting on it.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† The devil you are.

††††††††††† Where would you be going?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Back east.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† And your grandfatherís allowing it?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Of course not.

††††††††††† Which is why Iíve got to get on that train before he gets wind of what Iíve done and comes after me.

 

STRETCH

††††††††††† If youíd told me this when you first asked me for a ride, I wouldnít have done it.

††††††††††† Your grandfatherís been good to me.

††††††††††† And this is how Iím repaying him by helping his grandson run away?

††††††††††† Heís bound to fire me or worse for this.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† He wonít fire you if you donít tell him you knew what I was up to.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† But I do know.

††††††††††† And Iím not a man to lie about important matters.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† If you donít lie, youíll lose your job.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† I could turn back now, and keep my job without lying.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† What about your promise to me?

††††††††††† Doesnít that count for something?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† It wasnít made fair.

††††††††††† You didnít tell me all the facts.

††††††††††† But I wonít turn back.

††††††††††† I figure if you want to go, you ought to be able to.

††††††††††† Youíre the old manís grandson, not his prisoner.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Then weíre gonna have to hurry if we want to reach the train on time.

 

STRETCH: (looking ahead. The dust trail turns up the slanting side of the hill, taking the road into the foothills and high lands beyond, leaving the long road to Junction open.)

 

††††††††††† My guess is that we just missed Kid Kelly and his gang.

††††††††††† Indians donít move so quick unless theyíre on the war path, and the Indians around here havenít been at war since youíre grandfather was your age.

 

BEN: (Staring at the dust cloud, too)

††††††††††† Even theyíre moving quicker than most white men ought.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Which makes me think the Kid is up to no good again and the quicker we vacate these parts the less likely weíre likely to tangle with him or his gang.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Now youíre talking

††††††††††† Letís go

 

(Stretch flips the reigns, perhaps a little too hard in his nervousness to escape the notice of Kid Kellyís gang.

††††††††††† The horses, too, pulling a lighter than usual load, jerked ahead, too.

††††††††††† Perhaps the horse can smell trouble that escapes Stretchís notice, and have their own reason to hurry.

††††††††††† They spook and charge ahead)

 

BEN

††††††††††† I donít mean to complain after all I said, but isnít this a little too fast for this road.

††††††††††† I know this stretch.

††††††††††† It opens onto a ravine right after the upland road.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† It ainít my doing.

††††††††††† The horses are spooked.

††††††††††† Iím holding them back as best I can

††††††††††† But they want to run

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Let me have some of the reigns.

††††††††††† We go on like this, weíre likely to tip

††††††††††† And if we tip weíll roll off into the ravine for sure and might never get the wagon out again.

††††††††††† At least not in time to make no train.

 

(Both pull on the reigns, but whatever spooked the horses keeps them spooked and they rush ahead even faster

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Itís tipping!

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Canít hold it.

††††††††††† Gotta jump

(Both boys jump, but not before the wagon propels them towards the depths of the ravine, rather than the upside, so when they hit, they roll with the wagon rolling behind them and gaining.

††††††††††† Ben gets lucky and falls into a dip in the land so that the wagon rolls over him leaving him unharmed.

††††††††††† Stretch isnít so luck, the wagon rolls over one of his legs, crushing it under its bulk when it stops.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Help me, Ben.

††††††††††† Iím trapped.

 

(Ben scurries out of his hole and comes to where Stretch is stuck)

 

BEN:

††††††††††† What do you want me to do?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† You gotta get the wagon off me.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iím not that strong.

††††††††††† Even if itís empty, itís powerful heavy.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Then you got to pry it off me.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† How?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Brake a tall piece of plank from the back, and use a rock.

††††††††††† I donít need it to rise more than an inch to yank myself out.

 

(Ben does what he is told and just as the wagon lifts a little, Stretch drags his injured leg out. The wagon drops again with a thud as the board snaps. But this causes no more injury)

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Damn!

††††††††††† It hurts like a son of a gun

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Can you walk?

 

STRETCH

††††††††††† Not right not.

††††††††††† Maybe not at all.

††††††††††† Iím just not ready to try right now.

††††††††††† Let me rest a bit.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† This is the worst thing that could have happened.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Itís pretty bad, Iíll admit.

††††††††††† But we ainít dead yet.

††††††††††† You see the horses anywhere?

 

BEN: (Squints)

††††††††††† Not a sign.

††††††††††† Whatever spooked them kept spooking them.

††††††††††† Theyíre probably headed to Junction or to the ranch.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Letís hope back to the ranch.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Why?

††††††††††† So grandpa can come and collect me and drag me back?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† No, so he can come and rescue us from this place.

††††††††††† Cause if he donít, weíre likely to die out here.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Youíre not hurt that bad.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Iím hurt bad enough to keep me from climbing up out of this raving.

††††††††††† Even if I can walk at all.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Then weíll walking along it until we get out.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† You mean until we get ourselves good and lost.

††††††††††† Some folks might now where these ravines lead, but I ainít one of them.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† So what happens if the horses head to Junction instead?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Then it may takes days before anyone takes notice of them, and days more before they figure out those horses are connected to us.

††††††††††† By that time, weíd be dead of exposure or worse.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I can climb out and go back to the ranch for help

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† You might have to.

††††††††††† But letís wait a little first. The horses might do the trick yet.

††††††††††† Meanwhile I can rest up and maybe rig a splint or something to keep the leg from shifting.

††††††††††† Iím sure I feel plenty of broken pieces moving around in it.

 

SCENE 6: The rooster crows at the ranch. The brothers rise. Grandpa and grandma rise. A cook rings the triangle for the crew to feet, and slowly the table fills with the faces of the family with Grandpa at the head of the table and one chair vacant.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† So whereís the boy?

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† I havenít seen him this morning, pa.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Thatís unusual.

††††††††††† The boyís usually down here feeding his face before we even get here.

††††††††††† Is he ill?

 

GRANDMA:

††††††††††† He didnít say anything about being ill last night.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Well, donít just sit here.

††††††††††† Someone go find him.

 

(Dave and Bill sample out of the ranch house, the sound of their boots resound on the heavy wooded planks outside, then on gravel as they rush across the yard to the bunk house, and then to the stable, shouting Benís name as they go. They eventually make their way back into the ranch house.)

 

DAVE

††††††††††† Canít find him, Pa.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† You mean to tell me heís not on the ranch?

 

BILL:

††††††††††† He has to be, Pop.

††††††††††† I checked the stable. His horse is still there.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Well, if heís here, where the devil is he?

††††††††††† Does anybody know?

 

(Frankís head lowers as he stares at his plat on the table)

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Frank?

††††††††††† Do you know something youíre not telling us?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Not anything for sure, Pa.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† But you know something?

††††††††††† The boy told you something, didnít he?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Not a whole lot more than he told you yesterday about going east.

 

GRANPA

††††††††††† Not a whole lot more?

††††††††††† Out with it boy!

††††††††††† What else did he say?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† He said something about catching a train out of Junction.

 

GRANDPA

††††††††††† Junction?

††††††††††† Thatís a dayís ride from here going at a good clip on a horse and more like a week if youíre walking if thatís what he did.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Well, pa, he said he made arrangements to get there.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† What kind of arrangements?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† He said Stretch was going to get him there.

 

BILL: †

††††††††††† and you didnít tell anybody?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† †I didnít take his talk serious.

††††††††††† Benís always talking about things he canít do.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† well, thatís some relief to know since the supply wagon hasnít got here yet.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† But it has, Pop.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† Yeah, we saw our stuff piled outside the bar.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† We thought it was kind of strange for Stretch to dump it and leave.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† He usually liked to get a meal and rest up before he heads back to Junction.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Are you three telling me that boy is on his way to catch a train?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† It would appear that way, pa.

 

GRANDPA: (throws down a towel or napkin as he shoves his chair back and rises

††††††††††† Damned fools

††††††††††† Come on.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† Where to, Pa?

 

GRANDPA

††††††††††† Where do you think?

††††††††††† Junction, of course.

††††††††††† We got to grab that boy before he gets on that train.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† All of us, Pop?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Yes, all of us.

††††††††††† Junctionís got a lot of nook and crannies and I need all of your eyes so not to lover look him.

††††††††††† Weíre also going to pay a visit to that teacher for his putting this idea into the young foolís head.

††††††††††† Now come on.

††††††††††† Saddle up.

††††††††††† We got a hard ride ahead of us.

 

(All of the men rise and lumber out, with Frank the last to leave mumbling)

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† I told that boy Pa would come after him.

 

SCENE 7: Ben and stretch are under the slant of the disabled wagon bed, using it as shade against the sun just then making its way over the lip of the ravine.

††††††††††† Stretch has a make shift splint around his leg using hemp and broken board. But a trickle of blood shows from where the bone broke skin as well as from the lesser cuts and scrapes he and Ben suffered during the fall.

 

STRETCH

††††††††††† Itís getting hot.

††††††††††† If someone doesnít come soon, nooníll be on us and this old wagon wonít offer no shade at all

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I looked around a bit for water, but all we got is whatís in our canteens and thatís not much.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† We were in such a hurry to leave, I forgot to rill them.

††††††††††† This being dry season, itís not likely weíll find a trickle between here and Junction to relieve it either, unless itís farther up in the hills.

††††††††††† And we would be crazy to go in that direction, even to look for water.

 

BEN:†††

††††††††††† If we found water, we could last longer -- maybe until someone found us.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Our luck, Indians or Kid Kelly would find us first.

††††††††††† I donít want any part of that.

††††††††††† Itís a shame you didnít tell anybody were we were going, then someone might be out looking for us right now.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I did tell somebody.

††††††††††† Frank knows.

††††††††††† And knowing how beaten down he is, I expect heíll cave in and tell Grandpa the moment Grandpa fixes a stare on him.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† That is a tale that comforts the mind.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Maybe.

††††††††††† But I always figured a man ought to keep secrets heís promised to keep.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Even if it means our dying out here?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Die?

††††††††††† I thought you were exaggerating about that.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† No exaggeration.

††††††††††† Folks like your grandfather might have tamed these parts, but itís still got plenty of bite to it, especially to someone with a busted leg.

††††††††††† With my leg like this, I donít think I could last to night if we had to wait that long.

††††††††††† I already feel the fever coming one me.

††††††††††† Once that hits, I wonít be fit to sit or walk.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iím sure my family will come, if we sit tight

††††††††††† Meanwhile, you can have my share of the water if itíll ease you any.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† If it gets too bad, you may have to go and save yourself.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† You mean leave you?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† You got good legs. You can climb up out of this ravine

††††††††††† The ranch ainít so far back as you canít reach it by night fall.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Then what happens to you?

 

(Stretch stared off at the distant wavering of warmed air long the ravine.)

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† We got plenty of hungry critters in these hills

††††††††††† While Iíve never seen a grizzly Iím told they wander through here.

††††††††††† Iíve heard the wolves howling at night sometimes.

††††††††††† Even coyotes and other smaller animals -- maybe a mountain lion or two -- might find me a good meal as helpless as I am now.

 

BEN

††††††††††† Iím not leaving you.

††††††††††† We came in together; weíre leaving together.

††††††††††† Even if we have to walk our way out through the ravine.

 

(The sun gets higher. The shadows fade. Ben and Stretch struggle to keep to what is left of the shade.

††††††††††† Stretch already seemed bleary-eyed, shaking his head frequently as if to keep it clear.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I hear something.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† I donít hear anything over this buzzing in my hears.

††††††††††† What do you hear?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Horses.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† From which way?

 

BEN: (Tilts his head to listen)

††††††††††† I think itís coming from the direction of the ranch.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† If so weíre saved.

††††††††††† But youíd best get up top to flag them down.

††††††††††† If thatís your grandfather, he might not know to look where we went over and keep on going towards Junction.

 

(Ben crawls out from the shallow shade of the wagon, then after looking at the embankment they slid down earlier, selects a way up, though the angle of the land offers no track made by man or animal.

††††††††††† Except for the scratches left by the wagonís descent, no mark shows until he makes it, and for most of the way, he is forced to grab onto crops of weed or the sharp edges of stone to pull himself up.

††††††††††† And on comes the sound of thundering hooves, a distant roar at first like that of a rising storm, then gradually more and more discernable so that a knowing ear could even tell the number of horses.

 

BEN: (Pausing for a breath)

††††††††††† I hear four horses.

††††††††††† And oneís grandpaís heavy stallion for sure.

 

STRETCH: ††††

††††††††††† Then hurry to the top.

††††††††††† I canít hear them as distinct as you can, but I can tell theyíre moving real quick.

††††††††††† Your grandfatherís probably in a hurry to get to Junction before you leave on the train.

 

(So Ben starts up again, feet struggling most when he nears the top where the wagon wheels dug loose the early and stripped the top of easy hand hold.

††††††††††† He rises, slides back, rises a little higher and slides back again. The whole time the sound of hooves grows louder and closer and more insistent in their advance.)

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† The horses are almost here.

 

(Ben lunges for the top, fingers grabbing at a seemingly solid and secure stone only to have it give away so that he -- with his arms still outstretched and stone still clutched in his fingers -- slides back towards the bottom of the ravine where he started, a gush of dirt and gravel raining down on him like a snow slide.

††††††††††† The horse arrive, then roar passed, the dust of their passing mingling with the dust of his fall

 

BEN: (Shouting)

††††††††††† Grandpa!

††††††††††† Uncle Frank!

 

(Benís weak voice -- although repeated in the echoes of the ravine -- is lost in the roar and rumble of the hooves.

††††††††††† The sound of the horses fades as quickly as it came.

††††††††††† Yet even after the sound is gone, Ben does not move.)

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Ben?

††††††††††† You okay?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† No.

††††††††††† Iím not.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† You hurt?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Not in any way anybody can see.

††††††††††† I blew it.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Because you fell?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Because of everything.

††††††††††† Itís my fault weíre in here.

††††††††††† And the first chance I get to get us help, I blow it.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Youíre too hard on yourself.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† But what are we gonna do now?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Weíll think of something.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Such as?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† You have to climb out and go for help at the ranch.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Grandpa and the others went the other way.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† There are hands on the ranch that can hitch a wagon.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† You mean to come back and collect your remains.

††††††††††† Thatís not the way.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† What else is there?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† We walk out together.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† On my bum leg?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iíll rig up some crutches from pieces of the wagon like we did for your splint.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Weíve got no provisions.

††††††††††† We can do without food for a day or two, but water we got to have.

††††††††††† And we barely have enough for one for a day, let alone two for God knows how long itíll take us to get where we got to go.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Weíll find water along the way, dry land or not.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† That means weíll have to head north . If thereís water to be had in this Godforsaken place, itíll be trickling down from the mountain somewhere from a spring higher up in the hills.

††††††††††† But thatíll take us off our path and right into Indian country.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† You said the Indians donít bother anybody any more.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Theyíre not hostile.

††††††††††† But they donít take kindly to people stomping through their land neither.

 

 

BEN:

††††††††††† If thereís Indians, then maybe we can find them, and have them direct us home.

††††††††††† Grandpa knew a patch of them when he was young.

††††††††††† He even taught me a little of their talk.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† I can see youíve got your mind set on this.

††††††††††† Okay, if weíre gonna do this, letís get started.

††††††††††† That sun ainít getting any less hot.

 

 

SCENE 8:† Grandpa and his song ride onto the bluff that overlooks the valley in which Junction sits. The road descends sharply like a scar across the rough turf.

††††††††††† Junction looks bigger than itís population can lay claim, too.

††††††††††† It is a bundle of warehouses, stock yards, and animal pens outlying the small nub where people actually live in it.

††††††††††† But it is larger even in this than many towns like it, with its business district clinging to the rail line that runs along its northern most side.

††††††††††† Boarding houses make up a good portion of this part of the town to accommodate the parade of cow hands that steer herds here for transport.

††††††††††† The heart of the town, however, is solid with its stores, taverns, bank, post office, church and Jail.

The train station sits at one end of a long main street. The church anchors the other.

The four men pause before making the last stretch down into the maze of stock yards and towards the busy streets. They see a crowd gathered in the town square and hear loud voices of angry people.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† It looks like somethingís up, Pa.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Perhaps,

††††††††††† Lots of things happen in cattle towns.

††††††††††† Our concern is the boy.

††††††††††† We need to find him and bring him home before any harm comes to him.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† What if we canít find him, Pa?

 

BILL:

††††††††††† Yeah, Pop, what then?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Weíll find him even if we have to hold the train here at gun point

††††††††††† Come on

 

(The elder man spurs his horse and begins the descent into the town, followed by Dave, then Bill, and lastly Frank Ė who shakes his head and stares at the rain line though no smoke shows of any approaching train or of one that might have just come and gone.

††††††††††† The four riders weave thought the pens which seem to have decayed with few and fewer used for the purpose for which they were build. Some seem less used for cattle or live stock, than for crates of goods and for storing farm goods.)

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Thereís not a lot of folks around, and this is shipment day.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† That may have something to do with the ruckus we saw in the town square.

 

BILL:

††††††††††† You think they might have had another bank robbery, Pop?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I hope not.

††††††††††† The last one had this place stirred up for weeks so that no business go done.

 

(They ride on towards the streets populated with shops. They find the sheriff outside his office, shouting at the crowd.)

 

BENDER:

††††††††††† Weíre gonna need some men with guns and horses.

††††††††††† We canít take no wagon up into those hills where that gangís hid out.

††††††††††† If you gotta horse, but no gun, then borrow a gun.

††††††††††† If you gotta gun but no horse, led the gun to someone thatís got a horse Ė or borrow the horse.

††††††††††† Iím gonna need 30 mounted and armed me or I ainít going after them.

 

GRANDPA: (to one of the townís men)

††††††††††† What goes on here?

 

TOWNS MAN:

††††††††††† Kid Kelly and his bunch grabbed one of the townís girl and took off with her.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† What for?

††††††††††† They holding her for ransom?

 

TOWNS MAN:

††††††††††† If they are, they wonít get much.

††††††††††† Sheís the teacherís girl.

††††††††††† He hasnít got a nickel to spit on, unless he borrow four cents first.

 

SECOND MAN:

††††††††††† Some folks said Kid Kellyís clan was drunk and wanted to have fun with her.

††††††††††† They say it started at the dance two nights ago.

††††††††††† When she wouldnít have no part of them, they snatched her.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† And the fool sheriffís planning to go get her?

 

TOWNS MAN:

††††††††††† Thatís what he says.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Hey Bender!

††††††††††† You know anything about those hills youíre planning to lead these people into?

 

BENDER:† (Looks over the head of the crowd to where Grandpa is seated on his horse)

††††††††††† Whatís that?

 

GRANDPA

††††††††††† I asked if you know the lay of the land up there?

 

BENDER:

††††††††††† Not me, but some of the older men here do.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Youíre gonna take old men up into those hills to hunt down Kid Kelly?

††††††††††† Are you out of your mind?

 

BENDER:

††††††††††† We got some young men here, too.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Clerks and farmers, not fighters.

 

THIRD MAN:

††††††††††† What would you have us do, Cranford? Nothing?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Send for the army.

††††††††††† Thereís a fort down at Little River.

 

BENDER:

††††††††††† Thatís three days hard riding and a full day even by train.

††††††††††† Who knows what those bills will have done to young Nelly by then?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Those boys will have done whatever theyíre gonna do already Ė or will shortly.

††††††††††† You arenít gonna make things better for that girl by going up into those hills and getting yourselves killed.

 

BENDER:

††††††††††† Like always Cranford, youíve got something to say about something you donít know anything about.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Bender, youíre still the same fool .

††††††††††† You donít like me cause I think I know more than you do.

††††††††††† And I donít like you because youíre this new kind of peace officer is more any than law man.

††††††††††† Maybe times have changes like people tell me.

††††††††††† Maybe we donít need the hard edged lawmen we did when I was young,

††††††††††† But the Kelly clan is a throwback to my time when most cowboys were little better than thugs.

††††††††††† No nannyís gonna tame them.

††††††††††† And without an old fashioned lawman to be as mean as they are, youíll need the army.

 

BENDER:

††††††††††† If you feel so strong about this, Cranford, why donít you and your boys come along with us?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† You ainít listening, Bender.

††††††††††† My boys may be my boys, but theyíve got no more talent for dealing with people like Kid Kelly than the clerks you got here.

††††††††††† My grandsonís got the old spunk, but your teacher here has filled his head with nonsense about going back east.

††††††††††† Now heís taken off and weíve come to find him before he hops the train.

 

BENDER:

††††††††††† Maybe youíre right.

††††††††††† Maybe we donít have the stuff it takes to get her back, but weíre all the girlís got.

††††††††††† Now if youíre not going to help us, then get the hell out of here so we can get on with what we have to do.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Fine, get on with it then.

††††††††††† Just point the way to where the teacher might be.

††††††††††† He might know where my grandsonís got off to.

 

TOWNS MAN

††††††††††† Nelson is over at the school house.

††††††††††† But youíre not going to get much out of him,

††††††††††† Heís too broken up about losing his girl.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Iíll see what I can do

††††††††††† (to Frank, Dave and Bill)

††††††††††† Spread out. Look around. Ask questions.

††††††††††† If you see the train come in, make for it. The boy will, too.

††††††††††† If you donít find him, keep the train in the station until you do.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† How are we supposed to do that, pa?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† You donít listen, boy.

††††††††††† Put a gun to the engineerís head if you have to.

††††††††††† Just donít let that train move until we find Ben.

 

DAVE:

††††††††††† Where are you going, Pa?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† You donít listen either.

††††††††††† Iím going to have a talk with the teacher.

 

 

SCENE 9: The school house is a small wooden building recently painted red with white trim, standing out starkly from a collection of buildings where paint Ė if there ever was any Ė has been worn off by harsh sunlight for months and years.

An automobile, mud stained, but clearly new, is parked in front of the building, as out of place in that world as the school houses seems.

Grandpa rides up to building, dismounts, and ties his horse to the white picket fence outside, then makes his way through the gate, up the stairs and through the doors.

††††††††††† The inside like the outside of the building has been recently painted, yet it is as devoid of activities as many of the critter pens that encircle the town, rows of empty desks fill the small space with the teacherís desk at the far end and behind him, a slate blackboard with the ghostly images of almost erased chalk writing.

††††††††††† A thin man with dark hair is seated at the teacherís desk, his head down between his arms, emitting low moans as Grandpa struts up the aisle.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Why did I ever bring her to this godforsaken place?

††††††††††† What on earth was I thinking?

 

(Grandpaís spurs jingle as he comes near the desk, drawing up Nelsonís head from between his folded arms.)

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† What do you want?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I need to talk to you, teacher.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Iím in no mood to talk

††††††††††† Go away.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† In the mood or not, weíre gonna talk about my grandson.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Listen, Mister.

††††††††††† My daughterís just been kidnapped.

†††††††††††

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Which makes me wonder why youíre sitting here while other men out there are working up a posse to go get her back.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† What would you have me do?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† If she were my kid, Iíd be out there with the rest of them planning to go get her back.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Me? Go against those thugs?

††††††††††† Theyíre animals..

††††††††††† What can I do against animals like those?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Sure, theyíre animals.

††††††††††† Theyíre part of another time, when this whole part of the country was filled with their kind: brutal , angry, cruel men who killed and got killed, often for nothing.

††††††††††† But weíve got a lot of good folks down the street getting ready to go after Kid Kelly and his gang, some of them likely to get killed on that account.

††††††††††† And since itís your daughter their going to rescue, itís only right that you ought to be riding out with them and do your part Ė as pointless as any of it might be.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Iíd fall off my horse.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Then take that silly machine you have out front Ė although God knows it wonít get where you need to go and warn anybody youíre going after miles before you get to where you going.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† This isnít my environment.

††††††††††† Iím not a cruel man.

††††††††††† And it seems it takes a cruel man to survive this part of the world.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††††††††††††††† Which makes me wonder how you can give a young man advice when you know so little about anything.

 

NELSON: (Looks closely at Grandpa)

††††††††††† I donít understand.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† My nameís Cranford.

††††††††††† Carl Cranford.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Benís grandfather?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Thatís right.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Benís talk ed a lot about you in class

††††††††††† About the things youíve done, though I canít believe half of what he says.

††††††††††† The stories are that fantastic.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Ben doesnít lie Ė or didnít until recently.

††††††††††† If heís told you tales, he got them from me.

††††††††††† And I donít lie either.

††††††††††† Benís the reason Iím here.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Benís the best student I have, if thatís what youíre concerned about.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Iím concerned about some advice you gave him.

††††††††††† It seems heís taken some of it to heart and headed back east.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† My advice?

††††††††††† I never advised him to go east, expect may to say he ought to seek out a good school the kind he might find back east.

††††††††††† Heís a very smart boy.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Sure heís smart.

††††††††††† The old blood runs through his veins, my blood, my fatherís blood, unspoiled and untamed.

††††††††††† But he is still impressionable.

††††††††††† And for some ungodly reason, you impress him enough with this talk of school for him to run away.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† I never meant for that to happen.

††††††††††† Where did he go?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† He intended to take the next train east.

††††††††††† My boys are searching for him to keep him from doing it.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† He never talked to you about it?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Sure, he talked about it.

††††††††††† And I told him no.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† But why?

††††††††††† Donít you want the boy to do well?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Ben was born in the west

††††††††††† He ought to stay in the west, good schools in the east or not.

 

NELSON (slowly rising from his chair)

††††††††††† We obviously disagree on that.

††††††††††† But Iím not in favor of Benís running away either.

††††††††††† Iíll help you look for him.

††††††††††† That much I can do.

 

 

SCENE 10: (Grandpa and Nelson walk down the steps from the school. Nelson starts to climb into the car. Grandpa shakes his head)

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† You come at him with that thing, youíll scare him and half the countryís wildlife into hiding.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† We canít both ride your horse Ė even if I could ride

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Weíll walk, and look while weíre walking.

 

(Grandpa unties his horse and leads it down the street, walking side by side with Nelson. The two men, one large and lumbering, the other nearly as fragile as an eastern lady, move down the street Ė an odd sight some might have laughed over seeing, except that the street is largely vacant, even as they approach the business section. It already has the feeling of a ghost town, and not just because all of the men are absent, but because its time has passed)

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Where did everybody go?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Those folks with guns or horses took off with the sheriff for the high country.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† You mean to rescue my daughter

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Thatís their intention.

††††††††††† I tried to warn them against it, but they went anyway.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† You tried to stop them from saving my daughter?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I tried to keep them from getting killed.

††††††††††† These are clerks, not gun fighters.

††††††††††† If they ride into the canyons where Kid Kelly is hid, most of them wonít ride out again.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† I hate this place Ė these people.

††††††††††† And Iím sorry I ever came here.

††††††††††† I even sorrier I even brought my daughter here where she could get hurt.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Donít blame the place or the people.

††††††††††† You can get hurt anywhere.

††††††††††† The West has no title claim on that.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† But you said yourself that this place was full of brutal men

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† True, I said that.

††††††††††† And it is or was.

††††††††††† But those men usually came here from other places Ė like places back east.

††††††††††† Maybe that part of the world grew too tame for them, and they needed to find a place that was as brutal as they were.

††††††††††† But itís been a long time since the place has been so wild as to need that kind here.

††††††††††† Kid Kelly and his clan are like me, part of a dying breed.

††††††††††† Every year, this places gets tamer, and most of the old breed die off or move on.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Where do they go?

 

GRANDPA (sighs)

††††††††††† If I knew that, I might go there myself.

††††††††††† Perhaps thatís why Iím so concerned about Ben.

††††††††††† Heís just wild enough Ė with his hot blood Ė to go there, too.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† You sound conflicted about him.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Maybe thatís true, too.

††††††††††† I spent my whole life making this place fit to raise a family in.

††††††††††† Thatís why I got sons like I got, more sheep than cowboys, living out their wild oats in the saloon or the cat house, instead of on the range.

††††††††††† My grandsonís different. Heís hungry for the old west in a way I havenít seen anybody.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† If heís looking for the old west, why does he want to go east to school?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Because he canít find what he wants here.

††††††††††† He wonít find it in the east either.

††††††††††† And heíll keep hunting for it until he finds some place as bad as this place was when I came here.

††††††††††† And then, heíll get himself hurt.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Mr. Cranford, you are a very complicated man.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I never thought so.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† So if you donít want Ben to turn out like you did, and donít want him to go back east. What do you want for him?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I want to keep him from becoming a clerk.

††††††††††† (Frank shouts from the train station and waves for Grandpa and Nelson to come. They turn and walk in that direction, reaching the obviously agitated Frank a moment later)

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† What is it, boy?

††††††††††† Did you find Ben?

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† No sign of him, pa.

††††††††††† But even stranger, thereís no sign of Stretch either, or the buckboard.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† If Stretch brought Ben here, then the buckboard must be somewhere around here.

††††††††††† You canít hide a thing that big and canít take it on a train.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Thatís my thinking, too, Pa.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† What does it mean?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† It means, Stretch and Ben didnít get here yet Ė even though they left hours earlier than we did.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† They must have stopped somewhere along the road.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† No, we came the same way they did.

††††††††††† We would have seen them, unlessÖ

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Unless what?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† They left the road for some reason.

††††††††††† We were so bent on getting here before the train came that I didnít think to look for any signs of the buckboard leaving the road.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† So what do we do, pa?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† We go back and look for them.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† What if youíre wrong?

††††††††††† What if Ben and this other fellow are hiding here in town?†††††††††

††††††††††† Isnít it risky to leave off your search here until the train arrives?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Not nearly as risky as leaving Ben out in unfamiliar county somewhere.

††††††††††† If heís hurt, heíll need us.

††††††††††† Even if heís not hurt, and only lost, he may not make it out of the wilds without our help.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† The teacher does have a point about the train, pa.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Sure, he does.

††††††††††† Thatís why Iím leaving your two brothers here to keep an eye out.

††††††††††† Go fetch them so I can tell them what to do.

 

(Frank rushes off)

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† I can keep an eye out for the boy.

††††††††††† You might need your sons with you if you meet up with Kid Kelly.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Those two wonít be worth a damn against the Kid.

††††††††††† My boys can handle themselves in a fight if they have to, but they arenít killers.

††††††††††† Besides, weíre going out to find my grandson, not shoot it out with anybody.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Well, the least I can do is help your sonís look for Ben.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Like hell, you will.

††††††††††† Youíre coming with us.

 

SCENE 11:† Ben and Stretch are stumbling along the bottom of the ravine has become steeper on both sides as it cuts deeper into the side of the mountain. It is late afternoon, but the sun still beats down on them as they travel. Both sweat freely. Stretchís face is drawn from pain and exhaustion.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† I canít go on like this.

††††††††††† I need rest.

††††††††††† I need water.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Thereís about a mouthful of water left in the canteen.

††††††††††† You can have it.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† If thereís water,. Itís because you havenít had any yourself.

††††††††††† You take it, Ben.

††††††††††† You need it as much as I do.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Maybe weíll run into a spring yet.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† You can look.

††††††††††† If thereís a spring itíll be up the hill side.

††††††††††† But we got other things to worry about.

††††††††††† Nightís coming.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† That will be a relief after all this sun

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† The sun might be bad.

††††††††††† But it keeps some things out of sight that we might find even less comforting.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† You mean the wolves?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† And other things.

††††††††††† Weíll have to build a fire and keep it lit.

††††††††††† That means youíre going to have to scrape up some wood when you get back from finding water Ė if you do find any water.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iíll be back as soon as I can.

††††††††††† Here, take this

††††††††††† (Ben hands Stretch the rifle)

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Whatís that for?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† You may need it.

††††††††††† I know itís not as good as a repeater, but it shoots straight the first shot, so you should hit anything that comes after you while Iím gone.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† What about you?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iíll take your pistol.

††††††††††† I can stick it in my pants and still have my hands free to collect wood and water.

††††††††††† I donít figure Iíll need to shoot anything away.

††††††††††† Just sit still.

††††††††††† Thereís shade over here. Iíll be back as quick as I can.

 

(With canteen slung over his shoulder and pistol stuck in his belt, Ben starts up the slanted slope of the ravine, climbing into the hill. The road vanished hours ago, swing east so that both sides of the ravine now lead into cracked breaks through which vague paths appear Ė animal tracks or human, but made from repeated travel.

The climb is not as steep as the one near the road. Here rocks are accompanied by a collection of small, slanted trees, and clusters of spouted green, not exactly dessert plants, but those that grow nearer to sources of water or in shadows of less direct sun.

††††††††††† More trails appear as Ben rises, crossing his path up, and Ben turned onto one of these when it went in an upward direction. He halted briefly to examine the print of a paw in the dust.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Bobcat.

††††††††††† Now I wish Iíd kept the rifle.

 

(after examining the track, he stands and starts to climb until, until the sound of water, very, very soft, draws him to a halt. He tilts his head and steers slightly to the left up the hill, off the path where he parts a particularly thick throng of green and bends to find a very slow trickle of water flowing out from a rock. The water vanishes quickly into the sand absorbed by the earth. Ben cups his hands fills them, drinks deeply, the repeats this several times, then pours water onto his hair, and splashes some on his face.

This done, he digs out the wet sand from under the spring until he can fit the canteen there, and slowly, the oozing spring fills it.

Finally, Ben rises, looks around, spies a large cracked bounder and a slanted tree, then makes his way back down into the ravine. Darkness fills the bottom when he arrives back.

Stretch is seated against a cropping of rocks. He looks asleep, though the eyes pop open at Benís approach.)

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I got water.

††††††††††† (Ben presses the canteen into Stretchís shaking hands.)

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Thanks.

††††††††††† (But he only sips. His lips are cracked his face is pale.

††††††††††† The fever is on me.

††††††††††† (He shudders and hands back the canteen)

††††††††††† Weíre gonna need a fire.

††††††††††† It gets real cool in these parts after dark and Iím already cold.

 

(Ben gathers some twigs, piles them in a nitch in the stone near Stretch, then wanders away in the dark for more, then returns, dumping an armful down. After a few moments, a fire blazing casting deep shadows on the ravineís rocky walls. Rocks and shrugs prance around them like Indians.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iím going to fetch more water.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† In the dark?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Itís not too dark.

††††††††††† And I took a good look around up there so I wouldnít get lost.

††††††††††† But youíd better give me the rifle.

††††††††††† I saw a bobcatís trail up there.

 

(Stretch seems to drift off into sleep. Ben bends, removes the rifle from Stretchís loose grip and leaves the pistol at his side.

Then armed with rifle and canteen, he makes his way back up the ravine wall.

He stumbles often over protrusions he avoided during the daylight. The echo of his footfalls sounds loud in the dark ravine, and is repeated in the more distant canyons.

††††††††††† All is not dark.

††††††††††† The fire below casts long shadows everywhere, creating even more disturbing dances so that each shadows looks like a person or a beast.

††††††††††† Ben soon reaches the cracked rock and the copping hear the spring, and bends as he did before to fill the canteen.

††††††††††† He does not look up until a bare foot appears just above the spring.

††††††††††† His head rises to look. In the midst of the dancing shadows, a tall Indian stands.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† My lord!

††††††††††† Where did you come from?

WOLF WHO BREATHES SLOWLY:

††††††††††† I followed you up the trail from below.

††††††††††† You are very noisy and unaware.

††††††††††† Had I been a wolf, you would not have reached this place.

 

BEN:†††

††††††††††† Iím sorry.

††††††††††† I donít walk in the dark very well.

††††††††††† Am I in trouble? Should I be afraid.

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† You are a Cranford.

††††††††††† I have seen you many times, even if you have not seen me.

 

BEN:†††

††††††††††† Seen me?

††††††††††† Where?

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† On the road. At the ranch.

††††††††††† My people wander far but most rarely see us.

††††††††††† I know you. But not the other near the fire below.

††††††††††† I have seen him on the road.

††††††††††† His is not Cranford blood.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Thatís Stretch.

††††††††††† He works for my grandfather.

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† He is injured?

 

BEN:†††

††††††††††† He hurt his leg when our wagon fell.

††††††††††† Now he has the fever.

 

WOLF:† (Staring down at the fire)

††††††††††† We must tend to him.

††††††††††† The fever will hurt him more than the fall.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Thatís why I lit the fire and came up here for water.

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† Let me look at him.

(Wolf and Ben make their way down the hill, Ben still stumbling, while Wolf moves with ease as if no darkness hindered him or obstacles blocks his passage. They reach the fire side where Stretch lays as Ben had left him, pistol still lying beside him.

††††††††††† Wolf kneels beside stretch, touched his face with the tips of his fingers, lifts the lid of each eye.

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† This is not good.

††††††††††† He burns as if it is still day.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† So what do we do?

††††††††††† We canít get him back to the ranch tonight.

††††††††††† Or get a doctor up from Junction before tomorrow Ė if even then.

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† We will bring him to my people.

††††††††††† We have cures for such ills, if given in time.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† How far away is that?

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† Not far if we had wings or he could walk.

††††††††††† It is uphill and through several canyons.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Iím not sure we can carry him that far.

††††††††††† Why donít we keep him here and have someone come to him?

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† This place is not safe.

††††††††††† Bad men come along the mountain road above.

††††††††††† They would see the fire if they came soon.

††††††††††† We need not carry him.

 

(Wolf lets out a loud cry, which is answered by the whinny of a horse. Soon, a small sage-colored horse appeared with no saddle and only a rope around its neck appeared.

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† Help me lift him.

††††††††††† Your friend shall ride

 

††††††††††† (Wolf and Ben handle Stretch with great care, easing him into position. Wolf pauses to examine the splint Ben has applied)

WOLF:

††††††††††† You did this?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Yes,

††††††††††† Grandpa showed me how to do it once, although I never actually had to do it myself until now.

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† Cranford learned many of the ways of my people.

††††††††††† It is fitting that he passed these things onto his blood.

††††††††††† Come. We need to leave this place

††††††††††† I hear others near by, and it is good they do not see or hear us.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Do you mean Kid Kelly?

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† That is one of the names he goes by.

††††††††††† My people have other, less kind names for him, more fitting what he does.

††††††††††† He is an evil man. He has done us great harm.

††††††††††† We have always kept clear of him, just as we must do now.

 

(Wolf kicks out the fire with his bare feet then leads the horse up the ravine.

Ben carrying the rifle over one shoulder, canteen over his other shoulder and the pistol in his belt, Ben follows close behind the horse.

††††††††††† They climb a slanted path up the north wall, a long but not unbearably steep path that allows them to escape the ravine and access the hills above it.

††††††††††† They travel in darkness yet Wolf leads them along a path smooth enough to keep Ben from stumbling too often. Soon they crest the hill and follow a wider tract that has clearly been used by humans and animals for many years, worn nearly as flat as the road between the ranch and Junction.

 

 

(The dark is alive with movement and sounds that day light previously stifled: the growl of a cat, the howl of a wolf, the whine of a coyote and more ominous, the laughter of men caught in the endless echoing canyons.

††††††††††† These seem ghostly and unreal, but seem to fade the farther Ben, Wolf and Stretch astride the horse travel.

††††††††††† They are moving far in distance, but with the twists and turns of a path that finds its way through the tumble of hills the way a stream might, until a dull glow appears ahead of them and the trio arrives at an open space where lean-tos and somewhat distorted tee pees make up a small village.

††††††††††† Silent figures nearly as naked as Wolf appear and after a low exchange of words hands help to ease the fevered Stretch off the horse then carry him into one of the shelters.)

 

WOLF: (halting Ben from following Stretch)

††††††††††† You need not stay with him.

††††††††††† He will be cared for.

††††††††††† You should rest. We have mats near the fire.

††††††††††† You are safe there, though you may hear sounds from outside in the dark that may frighten you.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Thanks.

††††††††††† For everything

 

WOLF: (pausing before entering the shelter where Stretch is housed)

††††††††††† You are of Cranford blood.

††††††††††† That is enough.

 

SCENE: 12: (a long shot of the dark road up from Junction as three horses come into focus in the distance, one rider apparently struggling with great difficulty, while the other two move ahead, pause until the third catches up, then move again.

††††††††††† As they come into focus, Grandpa moves along the road side, studying the ground as they move, behind him, Frank, and lastly, struggling to keep on his horse as well as keep up even with the slow pace, Nelson.

††††††††††† Finally, Grandpa lifts his hand to halt the other two, dismounts, and studies a section along the side of the road where marks show of the wagonís fall. He squints into the dark below.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Something went over the side here.

††††††††††† I canít see properly in this light, but I suspect it was the wagon.

††††††††††† I might have seen the signs on our way out had we been in less of a hurry.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† You think Benís down there, pa?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Canít tell until I climb down there and take a look.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† In the dark?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Itís best we learn the worst as soon as possible.

††††††††††† But donít get off your horse, teacher.

††††††††††† I donít want to have to put you back on it if we have to ride some more tonight.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† But you said the wagon went down here.

††††††††††† Why do we need to keep riding.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I said something went down here.

††††††††††† It might have been the wagon, it might not. Once I know for sure, then maybe we can rest a little.

††††††††††† Iím not worried about riding in the dark; Iím more worried about missing some sign if we do.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† But weíve come so far, already.

††††††††††† Surely even men like you need rest.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Far?

††††††††††† Not far by my measuring.

††††††††††† And not nearly as far as the posseís gone thatís looking for your daughter.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† You saw the posse, pa?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Saw signs of it just up the road a bit, where the mountain path come in.

††††††††††† The poor fools.

††††††††††† Thatís rough country up there, and worse with Kid Kelly and his clan laying in wait.

††††††††††† Just stay put, teacher.

††††††††††† Rest a little while me and my boy check out things below.

 

(Frank dismounts as Grandpa eases over the side, his large boots feeling out crevices of solid stone or clumps of earth that will bear his weight. Frank pauses, then follows, both men looking a little like blind men, feeling their way rather than seeing anything in the dark.† But Grandpa halts a few yards down)

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Hold on there, boy.

††††††††††† I found something.

 

FRANK: (peering over his shoulder and down into the dark at the older man below, both men clinging to the side of the ill)

††††††††††† What is it, pa?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Good news and yet not so good news either.

††††††††††† The wagon tumbled over here all right. Thereís wheel marks skidding sideways. The horses must have broke free once the wagon started to turn. It seems the thing rolled over on its way down. I expect weíll find it in pieces at the bottom.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Does that mean Ben is...

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† One of them survived the fall. I canít see much in the dark, but I can tell someone tried to climb back up this way, slid back some then climbed so more.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Can you tell which one?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† No.

††††††††††† My guess is both survived.

††††††††††† If only one did, this one would have climbed out and started back for the ranch. But he went or slid back, and stayed there, suggesting that he went back to help the other one at the bottom.

††††††††††† The other one probably got hurt in the fall.

††††††††††† Which one is which, I canít say until we get down to the bottom to take a look.

††††††††††† Come on.

 

(Grandpa and Frank continue the descent, half climbing, have sliding into the deeper gloom below, night fully engulfing them.

††††††††††† Grandpa glances around and spots the wreckage of the wagon, which looks a little like the skeletal remains of a buffalo or a cow left along the Oregon Trail. Grandpa, halts Frank, then moves slowly towards the wagon, studying the ground carefully, needing to bend close to make out the details in the dim light. After a few minutes, he comes back to Frank, wiping the soil from his hands.)

 

GRANDPA

††††††††††† One of themís hurt.

††††††††††† My guess broken bones Ė a leg likely.

††††††††††† I found some loose threads of twine and come boards broken, suggesting someone made a splint.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Which oneís hurt, pa?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† My best guess is Stretch.

††††††††††† Ben patched him Ė something I taught him. I didnít know the lesson had stuck.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Where did they go?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Signs say up the ravine

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Why leave?

††††††††††† Why not wait for someone to come rescue them.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I think they waited for a while.

††††††††††† They probably heard us ride by Ė Ben probably tried to reach the top, but fell back before he could, and by then we were gone.

††††††††††† After that, itís easy to explain why they needed to move.

††††††††††† No water. No shade. They either moved or died here.

†††††††††††

FRANK:

††††††††††† So what do we do?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Take after him.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† What about the teacher?

††††††††††† We canít leave him sit up there in the dark while we wander off.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† The fool shouldnít have come west if a little dark is going to scare him.

††††††††††† But we canít leave him there either.

††††††††††† Might as well drag him down here, where we can all rest.

††††††††††† Iím nervous about tracking the boys anyway. The ravine turns into a maze of side canyons the further north we go. I canít afford to miss a sign in the dark. So we might as well make camp and take off with the dawn.

††††††††††† At least we know theyíre alive.

 

SCENE 13: (Grandpa, Nelson and Frank sit around a fire along the roadside. Theirs is the only light in any direction, and their concerned faces are painted by it as they look around. Nelson looks the least comfortable, jerking up at every sound. Frank stares up at the stars that dot the whole sky above them)

 

GRANDPA:†††† (To Frank)

††††††††††† Iím sending you back to Junction in the morning to fetch your two brothers.

††††††††††† I want the three of you to get to the ranch and wait there until I send word.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† What about Ben?

††††††††††† Youíre going to need some help to find him.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† The teacher will be enough help

 

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Me?

††††††††††† What do you need me along for?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† To talk to the boy when we get him.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Heís your grandson. You talk him.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Once I could.

††††††††††† But the boyís changed.

††††††††††† Heís grown willful. Like one of those stallion that would rather die than get broken.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† You want to break him?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I thought I did.

††††††††††† I thought it was best for him.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† And you donít now?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I donít know.

††††††††††† All this alters things.

††††††††††† Before I knew where he went and whether it was him or the other boy that got hurt in the crash, I felt bad.

††††††††††† Like Iíd drive him to it.

††††††††††† Once, I could talk to him and he could talk to me, and we understood each other.

††††††††††† Lately, weíve been talking different languages.

 

(gun shots sound in the distance. Frank and Grandpa leap up and stare north up the ravine and towards the hills. Flashes show followed by the rumble of echoed shots. Lower, less distinct is the sound of voices and crying, yells, and laughter, in a ripple of sound but no words)

 

FRANK

††††††††††† That canít be good.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Itís not.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† How can you tell from here?

††††††††††† Maybe the posse caught up with Kid Kelly and rescued my daughter.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† If it is the posse, then a few shots would be good news.

††††††††††† This many suggests that the kid and his clan are putting up a fight, or worse sprung a trap on the posse.

††††††††††† But then again, it may not be the posse at all.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† Are you saying Ben might be...?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Iím not saying anything.

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† So what do we do?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† We sit and wait until morning, like we planned.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† And if my daughter is in the middle of that? Or your grandson?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† If they are, we wonít help them by charging off in the dark.

††††††††††† Besides, if your daughterís there, she wonít be the one getting killed unless itís by a stray bullet.

††††††††††† Kid Kelly didnít grab her just to kill her.

††††††††††† My guess, teacher, is that youíre lucky you didnít go off with the posse after all. Not many of those who went will be coming back.

 

(All three men stare in the direction of the flashing and gunfire, which continues for sometime like a summer thunder storm.)

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† I hate this dreadful place!

 

FRANK:

††††††††††† If you hate the west, why did you come here?

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† I thought it would be different than it is.

††††††††††† I guess I believed all I read about the great opportunities here, and wanted my daughter to share in them.

 

GRANDPA: (chuckling sadly)

††††††††††† The place is tamer than it was, but itís not tame.

††††††††††† Iím not sure it ever well be as tame as you would want it to be.

††††††††††† I tried to get that fact through Benís thick skull, to make him understand that this place still needs real men to work it.

††††††††††† He just didnít see it that way.

 

(More gun shots sound)

 

GRANDPA: (looking startled)

††††††††††† That wasnít a fight just then.

††††††††††† That sounded like an execution.

††††††††††† Frank, youíd better leave your rifle with the teacher when he ride off in the morning.

††††††††††† I have a feeling weíre going to need it.

 

SCENE 14: (Benís eyes open as Wolfís hand comes down on his mouth to keep him quiet. The Indianís face looks taunt with concern, as he urges Ben to remain silent. Ben nods, then frowns as the echo of gun fire sounds in the nearby canyons. Much nearer and louder. The sound of raised voice is also clear though indistinct in their echoes, like lost souls in some strange limbo of dark. Some of the voices are angry, Some express pain, all seem confused.)

 

WOLF: (in a very low voice)

††††††††††† We must leave this place

BEN (in the same low voice)

††††††††††† Whatís going on?

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† Many have died.

††††††††††† Others will soon die.

††††††††††† Riders will soon come this way searching for more to kill

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Kid Kelly?

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† Men from town came in the night to take back the girl

††††††††††† They did not succeed.

††††††††††† The hunters became the hunted.

††††††††††† My people have already fled.

††††††††††† You must help me with your friend before the riders come upon us.

 

(Ben rise, groans a little, and moves with great stiffness. He holds his side, lifting his shirt briefly to look at a bruise he suffered from the wagon fall the previous day.

††††††††††† The village of lean-tos and slanted tee pees are gone.

††††††††††† The ground has been swept clean with tree branches so as to erase any sign that the village even existed or the trail of those who left.

††††††††††† The fire is gone, though its scent lingers in the air, and smoke still hovers over the ground like fog.

††††††††††† Star light streams down through the tips of trees showing Stretch leaning against the trunk at one end of the clearing. Ben rushes to him

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Are you all right, Stretch?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† No.

††††††††††† But Iím better than I was.

††††††††††† I think the fever broke though I still got a chill

 

(Voices in the woods sound nearer. More gun fire sounds. Flashes show. Someone cries. Something falls amid the crackling of under brush)

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† We must go now.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Go where?

 

WOLF:

††††††††††† To Cranford ranch Ė though we must take the long way.

††††††††††† The evil men are between us and the way we would take.

 

(Ben helps Stretch to his feet. Then with Stretch leaning on his shoulders, Ben follows after Wolf, who slips into the dark woods ahead of them as silently as rain.

Around them, flashes of gun fire show, followed almost always by a cry.

††††††††††† Living things, animal and human rush through the woods in flight, often stopped by shooting from behind.

††††††††††† Men shout in the woods, calling to each other.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† Is that all of them?

 

TED:

††††††††††† It must be.

††††††††††† Nobodyís shooting back at us any more.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Will you two fools stop talking and search.

††††††††††† If just one of them gets away, weíll all see the end of the rope when they go get the army.

 

NICK:

††††††††††† Somethingís moving in the woods over there.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† I see it, too.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Thatís a coyote, fool

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† Itís not.

††††††††††† Itís too tall for a coyote.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Then shoot it, and shut up.

 

(Several shots sound at once, their reports echoing in the distance. Perhaps they killed whatever they shot at, but none of the bullets comes near where Wolf leads Ben and Stretch.

††††††††††† The sound of Kid and the others seems to fade, the trashing through the woods going off in the other director.

††††††††††† Stretch steps on a sharp stone, stumbles, falls, and cries out in pain.

††††††††††† Ben bends quickly to help his friend, just as a hail of bullets sprays the woods over him.

††††††††††† One of these, a blind shot in the dark, strikes Wolf between the shoulder blades sending his sprawling to the ground.

††††††††††† A squat man with an ugly face shoves his way through the low branches, his rifle moving this way and that as if ready to fire again.

 

NICK:

††††††††††† Over here.

††††††††††† I shot something.

 

(a slightly taller man with a broad, simple face, appears out of the woods near the first man, his shirt is torn and stained with blood.

 

CLEM: (Shouting to the still unseen others)

††††††††††† Hey, Kid!

††††††††††† I think we got us an injun.

 

NICK: (pointing with his rifle at Ben and Stretch)

††††††††††† And some youngins

††††††††††† Youíd better come look at them before we put† a bullet in them.

††††††††††† I think one of them's that kid from the dance.

 

(Kid Kelly arrives, dragging a tied up Nelly behind him. He is dressed in an old confederate uniform with a small cap tilted to one side. He is thin, and handsome in a mean way, his eyes bearing a terrible stare. His free hand clutches a Civil War revolver, although he has several more modern pistols tucked in his belt.)

 

KID:

††††††††††† An Indian, really?

††††††††††† Where is he?

 

NICK: ††††††††††† (pointing with his rifle)

††††††††††† In that bush.

††††††††††† Heís shot, but he ainít dead.

††††††††††† I saw him move just a minute ago.

 

(KID yanking the tied and gagged Nelly across the clearing to the spot Nick points to, stops and looks down at the wounded Wolf)

 

KID:

††††††††††† Now I heard that we still had Indians in these parts Ė I mean besides the drunken ones we see at the depot and the squads we see begging on the road.

††††††††††† But I never really believed there were any more in the wild.

††††††††††† Theyíre a vanishing breed, people say

††††††††††† (Kid points his pistol at Wolfís head and squeezes off the remaining shots)

†††††††††††

Oh well, one more just vanished

††††††††††† Now whatís this you say about young ones here as well?

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† Over here, Kid.

††††††††††† ]

Clem nudges Ben out into the clearing with the tip of his rifle. Kid looks Ben over, the hard stare studying Ben as if gauging the boy as a potential threat.)

 

KID:

††††††††††† Whereís the other one?

 

TED (a somewhat ragged character with a thick beard and a floppy hat, and a wildman look appears out of the woods near Clem)

††††††††††† The other oneís fell down. He donít seem to walk so good.

††††††††††† I think thereís something wrong with his leg.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Drag him out †of there so I can get a good look at him.

 

(Clem and Ted hoist Stretch up by his under arms and drag him into the clearing where they dump him at Kidís feet. Kid starts to laugh)

 

††††††††††† Small world ainít it, Stretch?

††††††††††† Donít look like youíre going to be doing too much dancing any time soon.

††††††††††† (To Nelly)

††††††††††† Take a good look at your boyfriend, girl. He donít look in good enough shape to rescue you, does he?

††††††††††† His legís busted bad.

††††††††††† (Kid steps on the splint and presses his weight down on it until the wood cracks, and so does more bone, drawing a sharp cry of pain from Stretch)

††††††††††† Itís a shame about the break.

††††††††††† (Steps on the leg even harder to that Stretch cries out loudly)

††††††††††† Hey Clem.

††††††††††† What do you do with a horse thatís busted a leg?

 

CLEM: (Grins)

††††††††††† Why you shoot him, Kid.

 

KID: (cocks his pistol)

††††††††††† I guess thatís what we gotta do.

††††††††††† Itís a mercy killing.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Donít do it!

 

KID: (Pauses, and glares over at Ben)

††††††††††† Somebody shut that brat up.

 

††††††††††† (Clem and Nick move wards Ben, put Ben yanks out Stretchís pistol from his belt and fires twice before they can lay a hand on him. One shot whizzes through the trees near Clemís ear, the other strikeís Nick in the side.††††††††††† Clem twists the pistol out of Benís hand, then savagely strikes him with it.)

 

NICK:

††††††††††† Iím hit bad.

††††††††††† That brat gave me a belly wound.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Thatís a bad luck, Nick.

††††††††††† It means Iím gonna have to leave you behind.

††††††††††† We canít have no cripple with us to slow us down.

 

NICK:

††††††††††† Ah, Kid, I wonít slow you down, honest.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Of course you will

††††††††††† Not at first, maybe.

††††††††††† But later when the wound gets worse.

 

NICK:

††††††††††† But if you leave me, the law will get me and hang me for what weíve done.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Youíre right.

††††††††††† They will.

††††††††††† And maybe youíll talk about us before they do.

††††††††††† Itís better I just shoot you outright than have to go like that.

 

(Kid aims his pistol at Nickís head, fires, but gets only a click from the expended chambers. Nick laughs)

 

NICK:

††††††††††† I knew you were only joshing, Kid.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Was I?

††††††††††† (He yanks out one of the other pistols, fires two shots right into Nickís face. Nickís body falls back with a thud, but Kid appears not to notice, turning this pistol on Ben)

††††††††††† If your parents taught you any prayers, youíd better say them now boy.

 

TED:

††††††††††† I wouldnít shoot him, Kid.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Why the hell not?

 

TED:

††††††††††† Heís one of the Cranford clan.

††††††††††† I saw him when I worked out there last summer.

 

KID: (Looking at Ben with something of awe)

††††††††††† A Cranford?

††††††††††† Really?

††††††††††† Now thatís interesting.

††††††††††† I wonder what the kin of that old Indian fighter is doing hanging out in these woods, not just with this broken-legged dead beat, but a red skin, too.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† Maybe he got lost or something.

 

TED:

††††††††††† If he did, then the Cranfords will come looking for him.

 

KID:

††††††††††† So what?

††††††††††† Theyíll find him dead.

 

TED:

††††††††††† If they find him dead around here, then theyíll come after us, and they wonít stop until they got us all.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Are you telling me I ought to be afraid of a bunch of farmers?

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† They ainít farmers from what I heard.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Iíve heard plenty about them.

††††††††††† If anybodyís worth being scared of, itís the Cranfords,

††††††††††† Especially the old man. He knows how to handle himself.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Well we canít leave him.

††††††††††† Heíll have the law on us the moment anybody finds us.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Take him with us.

††††††††††† You can kill him later, somewhere where nobody will find him.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Fine, weíll take him.

††††††††††† (Aims his pistol at Stretch)

 

TED:

††††††††††† I wouldnít do that either.

††††††††††† If heís a pal of the Cranford kid, and we shoot him, itís as good as telling the Cranfords we got their boy.

 

KID:

††††††††††† If I wasnít willing to take a crippled Nick with us, Iím certainly not going to drag this half dead caucus around.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† We might not have to take them that far.

††††††††††† This place is full of canyons that nobodyís been in for years. We can dump them in one of those when weíre through, and then go on our way.

 

KID:

††††††††††† I knew you werenít as stupid as you look, Clem.

††††††††††† Thatís why I keep you around.

††††††††††† Get them on their feet.

††††††††††† They got some walking ahead of them.

 

 

SCENE 15: (The sun is up. Grandpa and Nelson are walking along the bottom of the Ravine. The world seems very silent after all of the gun fire the previous night. Grandpa studies the trail looking for signs. Nelson stares around as if expecting something to leap out at them at any moment.)

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† This is insane.

††††††††††† Why did you give the horses for you son to take?

††††††††††† Wouldnít it have been easier to ride through this Godforsaken place.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† First of all, there is nothing Godforsaken about this place.

††††††††††† As for walking, the horses would be a burden here. Indians might be able to use them effectively on these trails, but Iím looking for signs and I canít do that from the back of a horse.

††††††††††† I also believe we might have to climb out of this ravine. Is so, we might not be able to take the horses where we have to go.

 

NELSON: (halting)

††††††††††† Why are you doing this?

††††††††††† Why am I here, when anyone of your sons would suit your purposes better?

††††††††††† I should have gone back to Junction, not your son.

††††††††††† Are you trying to teach me some kind of lesson?

 

GRANDPA: (straightens and stares back at Nelson)

††††††††††† Lesson?

††††††††††† Partly, I guess.

††††††††††† You should get a good look at the land youíre trying to steal from my grandson.

††††††††††† But mostly I figure, you ought to be involved with rescuing your daughter.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Iím a little confused?

††††††††††† What does this have to do with my daughter?

††††††††††† The sheriff went to rescue her.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† The sheriff canít rescue your daughter.

††††††††††† If heís still alive, then heís back in Junction, packing his gear to get out of this part of the county.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† What do you mean if heís still alive?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† What do you think all that shooting was last night?

††††††††††† Iím just hoping my grandson and your daughter survived it, and havenít been murdered since.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Are you saying my daughter and your grandson are together?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I suspect they are.

†††††††††††

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† And weíre going after those hoodlums on foot?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Weíre going after them.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Then maybe you should have brought all your sons with us, instead of sending them back to the ranch.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† The more people here the more people who can get killed.

††††††††††† Didnít you learn anything from the posse? ††††††††

††††††††††† We canít ride in like the army can, so we have to sneak up on them and take them by surprise.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† But Iím not good at this

††††††††††† I canít even shoot this thing

††††††††††† (Holds up Frankís rifle)

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Iím hoping you wonít have to.

††††††††††† (Grandpa turns back to his search of the ground, looking carefully at each turned stone and each break in the soil.)

††††††††††† They stopped here for a while, lit a campfire, and intended to remain the night. But didnít.

††††††††††† (Grandpa pointed to the stone circle with scattered coals of a recent fire)

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† What happened?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† They had a visitor.

††††††††††† (Grandpa points to the print of a bare foot in the loose dirt.)

††††††††††† Thatís an Indian print. The scattered coals suggest that they put out the fire quickly and moved on.

††††††††††† They probably heard something and the Indian convinced the boys that this was not a good place to spend the night.

††††††††††† Thereís marks of an unshod horse here, too.

††††††††††† I guess they mounted Stretch on the horse to carry him someplace else.

 

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Are you telling me they went away with that savage?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† All the signs point to it.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† How much worse can it get?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† You mistake my meaning.

††††††††††† The Indianís coming is a good sign.

††††††††††† But we have to hurry now if we expect to catch up with a horse.

 

(Grandpa leads Nelson along the ravine until they come to the tracks taken up,† pausing only the small spring Ben visited twice. Grandpa looks over the scene, nodding slowly, admiration showing in his eyes, but also sign of growing fear.

††††††††††† He moves on, following the track to the top where the way widened into a more commonly used trail. Here, mixed signs show the passage of several groups, some who had come before Ė shod horses.)

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† The posse passed this way a some point earlier. But out track is clear and crosses theirs. The Indian took the boys to higher ground. The posses was heading towards one of the canyons over there.

 

(But the signs appear to have increased the old manís agitation, and he hurries his step, leaving Nelson in a struggle to keep up. Finally, he reaches the clearing where the Indian camp stood. And he shakes his head over the signs he sees, and motions Nelson to come over to where the bodies of Indian and one of the outlaws lay.)

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† The Indian is an old friend. The other one is part of Kid Kellyís gang. He has a belly wound. But the shots to the head killed him.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Is my daughter still alive?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† It would seem so.

††††††††††† My grandson, too, and the signs show Stretch may be as well.

††††††††††† Kid Kelly decided not to kill them for some reason. But if Stretch is hurt as bad as I think he is, Kid wonít stall for long.

††††††††††† After all thatís gone on up here, heís going to want to light out of these parts soon.

††††††††††† Heís not going to want to leave any witnesses behind.

††††††††††† Come on

††††††††††† We donít have much time.

 

SCENE 16: †(Kid Kelly leads the troop out long the ridge line dragging Nelly behind him still tied, with Ben and Stretch behind her, Ted following them carefully watching the prisoners, and Clem more or less walking backwards to watch for anyone that might be following

††††††††††† Their trail eventually rise out of the woods so that all around them are endless canyons. It is now daylight, and the landscape has an eerie beauty in contrast to the anger and violence of Kid Kellyís clan.

††††††††††† Kid looks particularly angry, yanking hard on Nellyís rope with each frustrated step.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Damn that fat sheriff for running our horses off like he did.

††††††††††† I should have made him suffer more before killing him.

††††††††††† Like this, weíll never get to the Salt Lake Rail line, especially with this drew, a dancing fool, a brat, and a bitch.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Maybe we should just look for a place to shoot them like we planned.

††††††††††† I saw a dozen places where we could have dumped their bodies.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Donít be an ass, Ted.

††††††††††† Maybe you havenít noticed.

††††††††††† But weíve had a tale for some time now.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Someoneís following us?

††††††††††† (He turns back and squints at the green valleys out of which they come. Two small figures appear on the ridge line)

††††††††††† Who is it?

 

KID:

††††††††††† Who do you think?

 

TED:†††

††††††††††† Cranford?

 

KID:

††††††††††† That would be my best guess.

††††††††††† He must have been on the boyís trail even before we got to him.

††††††††††† Now heís clinging to our heals like an old wolf.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† But thereís only two of them.

††††††††††† We could lay in wait and shoot them, too.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Forget what I said earlier.

††††††††††† Youíre still a fool, Clem.

††††††††††† Cranford maybe old, but heís crafty.

††††††††††† Heíd read a trap a mile away and somehow turn it on us.

 

TED:

††††††††††† So what are you gonna do?

 

KID:

††††††††††† Weíre gonna hold onto the old manís grandson and trade him when the time comes.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† Whenís that?

 

KID:

††††††††††† When we get to higher ground where he and his guy canít come up at us.

 

TED:

††††††††††† We might not get that until half way to the rail line.

††††††††††† And if we keep hobbling along like we are, they might just catch up with us long before that.

 

KID:

††††††††††† I knew the dancer would hold us back.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† I ainít just the dancer.

††††††††††† Weíve been hoofing it most of the night.

††††††††††† Iím so tired I could sleep on my feet.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Weíre not stopping to rest.

 

TED:†††

††††††††††† Then shoot the dancer.

††††††††††† Thatíll quicken our pace.

††††††††††† It donít matter now that the old man knows we have his kin.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Not yet.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† Why not?

 

KID:

††††††††††† Because I got plans for him when he dies.

††††††††††† I donít want to make the same mistake with him that I made with the sheriff.

††††††††††† This oneís gotta suffer before he dies.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† Then untie the girl, and let her help the boy carry the dancer.

††††††††††† With the two of them to lean on, the dancer might move quicker.

 

KID:

††††††††††† No way.

††††††††††† Sheís mine.

 

TED:

††††††††††† No oneís saying she isnít, Kid.

††††††††††† Weíre just saying sheís not helping any being tied like she is.

††††††††††† Let her pull her weight.

††††††††††† She ainít gonna run off, and if she screams, whoíll hear her?

 

(Kid looks thoughtful for a moment as eh glances back in the direction of the two following figure. Finally he nods.)

 

KID:

††††††††††† All right.

††††††††††† We untie her.

 

††††††††††† (To Nelly, who he released from her bonds and gag)

††††††††††† Try and escape, bitch, and Iíll put a bullet in your dancing boyfriendís head.

††††††††††† You hear me?

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Youíre an animal.

††††††††††† If anyone should be shot, it should be you.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Just keep talking, bitch.

††††††††††† Youíll pay for it later in a more interesting way.

††††††††††† (He touches her breasts; she spits in his face.)

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Iíd shoot you myself if I had a gun.

 

KID (laughing )

††††††††††† Here.

††††††††††† (He hands her the civil war pistol)

††††††††††† You want to shoot me, shoot me.

 

(Nelly grips the pistol and aims it at Kid Kellyís face. But she canít keep it pointed where she aims it, wavering this way and that. Finally, she pulls the trigger. The gun explodes in a single shot, throwing her to the ground and casting the gun into a crack in the earth. The bullet passed harmlessly passed Kid and he laughs)

 

KID:

††††††††††† If we werenít in such a hurry, I would do you right here and now, let the old man and his side kick see you getting done.

††††††††††† But believe me, girl, when we get done with them, Iíll do you like you never imagined it, and youíll love it, too.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Iíll kill you before I ever let you have me in that way.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Maybe youíll try.

††††††††††† Now if youíre done playing games. Go help the boy with your lover until I decide to shoot him.

 

TED:

††††††††††† We should hurry up.

††††††††††† Iíve heard that old man can hit the eye out of an eagle, and theyíre getting within rifle range.

 

 

SCENE 17: (Grandpa and Nelson on are the ridge line. They stare ahead at the slow moving procession, which has crested another hill, leaving the trail to dip into a shallow valley. Thatís when the shot rings out. Nelson ducks, apparently thinking the outlaws are shooting at him. But Grandpa stands firm staring ahead.

 

GRANDPA: †††

††††††††††† Relax, teacher.

††††††††††† Those shots werenít aimed at us.

††††††††††† I think they just shot one of their prisoners.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Can you see who?

 

GRANDPA: (Squinting)

††††††††††† The distance is too great for me to be certain.

††††††††††† But it doesnít make sense for him to start killing his captives.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Why not?

††††††††††† Heís mean enough.

††††††††††† You saw the bodies back there, and we know he killed a lot of other people we didnít see.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Sure, heís mean enough.

††††††††††† But heís not stupid.

††††††††††† He knows were onto him.

††††††††††† Heís been looking back our way since we first got onto these ridges.

††††††††††† He knows he canít escape. He canít trap us. He canít kill us.

††††††††††† So heís going to have to deal with us sooner or later, and the more live bodies heís got the more chance he has of trading his life for theirs.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† You mean you trust him enough to deal with him?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I wonít know if Iíll deal with him until we get there.

††††††††††† A deal might be a bad idea.

††††††††††† If he gives us the hostages, we switch places with him.

††††††††††† We become the hunted, saddled with a girl, a young boy and† a half crippled boy.

††††††††††† Kelly could pick us off from the brush while we try and hobble back to civilization.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† So what will we do?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Follow him, wait for a break.

††††††††††† You forget, my grandsonís with them.

††††††††††† And he isnít the kind to stand for being anybodyís hostage, even mine.

 

 

SCENE 18: (More time passes. Kelly is still leading with Nelly and Ben helping Stretch move more quickly, while Ted and Clem both look back as if expecting an attack. The ridge line is rising again towards a peak in the landscape. And it is to that peak Kid appears to be leading them.

††††††††††† Bin whispers to the Nelly and Stretch when Kid moves ahead slightly to scope out the landscape.)

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Weíre gonna have to make a break for it.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† How?

††††††††††† Stretch care barely walk.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Grandpa is going to nee room between us and these guys and we got to try and give it to him.

 

KID: (returning)

††††††††††† Stop your whispering.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Were we whispering?

 

KID:

††††††††††† You hissing like a rattle snake.

††††††††††† Whatís so interesting that you can waste break talking about it?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† We were talking about Stretchís condition.

††††††††††† He canít go on without rest, even with us carrying him.

 

KID:

††††††††††† He go on as long as I tell him to go on, or Iíll put a bullet in him and go on without him.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† You know I think Iíll tear your eyes out for what youíre doing to him.

 

KID: (grins)

††††††††††† Youíll get your chance soon enough.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Leave her alone, Kid.

 

KID (grin vanishes)

††††††††††† Donít push me boy.

††††††††††† The only reason I havenít hurt you so far is because your granddad is hobbling behind us, and can shoot a pea out of its pocket at 100 years.

††††††††††† But heís not always going to be being us, and thatís when you might find out just how mean I can be.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Letís just get where weíre going.

††††††††††† If we stop, itíll just hurt all the more to start again.

 

(So they move on, shadowed by Grandpa and Nelson, who for the first time, do not seem to be gaining on them, as if holding back just outside rifle range, waiting for the moment when they can move their move.

††††††††††† Dusk comes, then darkness, through star light shines over the landscape of canyons and the path.

††††††††††† Everybody is weary.

††††††††††† Even Kid Kelly stumbles over unseen rocks and slips on loose grave.

††††††††††† After one such event nearly tosses Ted over the steep side into one of the dark canyon, Ted protests.

 

TED:

††††††††††† We canít walk all night.

††††††††††† Iím punch drunk and I almost fell.

††††††††††† If we keep up like this, weíll all get killed falling off a cliff.

 

KID:

††††††††††† †We canít stop yet.

††††††††††† Weíre not high enough yet.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Weíre high enough.

††††††††††† The old coot behind us canít sneak around us without falling into a canyon. So the only way he can get at us is to come the way we did, along the path. And if we take turns guarding it, maybe we can get some sleep.

 

KID:

††††††††††† That old coot is half Indian.

††††††††††† I donít trust him to shoot him.

 

CLEM:

††††††††††† I agree with Ted.

††††††††††† Heíll get us a lot easier if weíre too tired to think straight.

††††††††††† We need rest, and this place looks as good as any to me.

 

KID:

††††††††††† All right. Weíll stop.

††††††††††† But Ted gets the first watch.

††††††††††† Clem, youíll relieve him.

††††††††††† Iíll take the last watch until morning.

††††††††††† Just remember the old coot is dangerous, and if any of you screw up, weíre all as good as dead.

 

SCENE 19: †(A fuming Ted settles on the path, rifle over his knees as he leans back against a large stone. He rolls and lights a cigarette as Kid and Clem lay down along the narrow path leaving Ben, Nelly and Stretch to lay down between them with the steep sides of embankments to either side.)

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Are they asleep yet?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I thins so.

††††††††††† Thought you can tell with Kid Kelly.

††††††††††† Heís almost as sly as my grandpa.

 

NELLY (to Stretch)

††††††††††† How are you holding up.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Not good.

††††††††††† My legs are numb.

††††††††††† While thatís a relief after all the pain, I fear itís a sign that things ainít right down there.

††††††††††† I canít go another day like these last days.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Maybe we can slip away while theyíre a sleep?

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† I canít.

††††††††††† But you and Nelly have to.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† And leave you behind?

††††††††††† We canít do that.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† †Youíre gonna have to.

††††††††††† Benís right.

††††††††††† The old man needs for us to make a move so he can make his.

††††††††††† But I canít do anything like this.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† I wonít go if you canít.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Look, Nelly.

††††††††††† I understand how you feel.

††††††††††† I wouldnít want to leave you if like this either.

But as long as Kellyís got you or Ben, heís got something to bargain with.

††††††††††† Without the two of you, heís got to run or fight.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† We can wait until you feel a little stronger.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Iím not going to feel any stronger than I do now, and I couldnít slid down this hill with a break half as bad as the one I got.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† If we wait until Kid Kelly gets us to higher ground, Grandpa may not be able to rescue us.

††††††††††† I heard the Kid talking.

††††††††††† They got a stash of supplies somewhere ahead.

Thatís where weíre making for, and if he gets us there, he might hold out for a month.

††††††††††† Itís now or never.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† I donít like it.

 

TED: (Shouting from his post)

††††††††††† Hey you three.

Stop whispering or Iíll whip you quiet.

 

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Get her out of here, Ben.

††††††††††† If anybody can get her away from Kid Kelly, you can.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Come on, Nelly.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† But what will happen to Stretch.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Nothing worse than if we donít leave.

†††††††††††

STRETCH:

††††††††††† Just go, Nelly, please.

 

(Ben leads Nelly carefully to the side of the path. Even in daylight, the path may have seemed impassable. But Ben studies the way down for a moment, then slowly eases of over the †side, helping Nelly to follow. Each step is filled with the potential threat of sliding stones. A few do slide making just enough noise to turn Tedís head in their direction. His face is just visible due to the glow of his cigarette.

When he does nothing, Ben and Nelly move again, and come to something of a path that could not be seen from above, probably the path of a coyote or wolf, or Indian.

The night around them is filled with sounds of life, of moving creatures ahead of their advance, or scurrying through undergrowth to either side.

Down the two go, hand in hand, coming to thicker growth near the floor of the canyon below where they come out onto a wider path, clearly used by hunting Indians over the years.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† We have to hurry.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Iím going as fast as a I can.

††††††††††† But Iím worried about Stretch.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Itís too later to worry about him. We must go on.

 

 

SCENE 20: (Nelson sits much as Ted does, staring up the path to where the outlaws camped out, though he grips Frankís rifle as if it was a life line to some place of safety. He stares hard into the darkness, then sits up when movement starts in the distant camp. A flash of a gun being fired blinds him, the thunder of the shot coming a second later along with the echoes. Nelson turns to call the elder man, but Grandpa is up with the shot.

 

GRANDPA (Peering into the darkness)

††††††††††† Thereís a whole lot of stirring going on over there.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† And the gun shot?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† I wonít lie to you.

††††††††††† If there was a lot of shooting, I would say they were trying to stop someone from escaping.

††††††††††† One shot means only one thing.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† That they just killed someone?

††††††††††† Who do you think?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Letís go see.

††††††††††† And donít forget to bring your rifle.

 

(Grandpa leads the way along the ridge, his own rifle aimed from his hip at the dark path ahead. The narrow ridge falls away on either side into clumps of weed and low bush and rocks.

Nelson, whose step is less certain, clings to his rifle as he follows, looking this way then that, though darkness veils all to either side.

 

SCENE 22: Down in the gully and weaving through the overgrown paths at the bottom, Ben and Nelly stop at the sound of the shot

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† What was that?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Donít think about it.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† That was Stretch

††††††††††† Wasnít it?

††††††††††† Kid Kelly just killed Stretch.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Just come on, please.

We have to get deeper into cover before they come after us.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† You knew!

††††††††††† And you made me come with you!

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Stretch made you come.

††††††††††† I thought it was a good idea, too.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† But you let Kid Kelly shoot him.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Kid was going to kill Stretch anyway, and Stretch knew it.

†††††††††††

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† We could have tried to stop it.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† We couldnít stop it.

††††††††††† But Stretch knew something else.

††††††††††† He knew you would be next.

††††††††††† Kid didnít need you to negotiate with my grandfather.

††††††††††† Now be quiet.

 

(They move down into a deeper gully and into a legitimate canyon, following a clear track that perhaps no white hunter has ever seen. They pass the mouths of other canyons, over which trees form arches.

Ben stops and listens, even sniffs at the air, seeking a path that wonít lead to a dead end. Then, Ben stiffens as if hearing a sound he dreaded all along. Stones tumble, and Kid Kellyís curses echo like bullets against the stone walls.)

 

Kid:

††††††††††† Hurry up, you fools.

††††††††††† We need that boy.

 

CLEM:

Weíre trying kid, but the boy moves like an injun, slipping in and out of places no grown man can fit.

 

TED:

††††††††††† I thought I saw him twice, and then I didnít.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Then get a hold of the girl.

††††††††††† We get her, the boyíll will come back.

 

(Nelly clutches at Benís arm. Both are hidden behind some brush. They cannot see Kid Kelly or the gang, but by the sound it is clear they care close.)

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Donít let their talk get to you.

††††††††††† Weíre free, weíre staying fee.

Grandpaís out there, and knows it.

We just got to keep these boys busy until Grandpa gets to them.

 

NELLY.

††††††††††† Can he really stop three of them.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Grandpaís done it before.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† You mean when he was young.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Age has nothing to do with it.

He learned a lot of things out here, and one of them was how to stay alive.

††††††††††† These boys might be tough and mean, but they never had to fight the way Grandpa did.

††††††††††† Grandpa will take care of them just as long as he knows weíre not in the way.

 

(Ben leads Nelly down through a gab between the canyons, and here, signs of civilization show, an old wagon wheel, a lost horse shoe, even some careless expended bullet casings, a tin of tobacco and a dented coffee pot. Here a real trail full of wagon ruts appears. Ben halts and listens.)

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† What is it?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† One of the boys is onto our trail

††††††††††† Can you hear the loose stones?

††††††††††† Weíre gonna have to hurry

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Iím awful tired, Ben.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† †Me , too.

But if we donít want to more sleep than weíll ever need, weíd better keep moving.

 

 

SCENE 23: (Grandpa and Nelson comes to the place where the gang paused to rest. It is deserted except for the dead body of Stretch.

 

GRANDPA (with a sign)

††††††††††† At least we know your daughter and my grandson are still alive.

 

NELSON: (Staring down at the body)

††††††††††† This is savage.

 

GRANDPA (Looking off, listening)

††††††††††† Yep.

The west has its share of mean men, tough men, men that have no morals, except what they can draw out of holster.

††††††††††† But then, Iíve seen men dressed up in suits and ties, who are mean as that and can kill you with a law book.

††††††††††† My father fled those kind of men when he brought me out here from the East. He figured this kind of killing was more honest.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Needless to say, Iím sorry I ever brought my daughter here.

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† That may be right, too.

††††††††††† The west has never been a place for women, though this isnít the same west, and maybe thatís different now.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† How can you say that after all thatísÖ

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Shush!

Somethingís moving on the trail ahead.

 

(The movement isnít on the trail, but on the slope where Ted struggles to get down a slant after running into a dead end of a bluff with no easy way around it.)


TED: (Shouting to Kid below)

††††††††††† Kid.

††††††††††† Iím stuck.

†††††††††††

KID (From somewhere in the canyons below)

††††††††††† Well, get yourself unstuck

††††††††††† And shut up about it.††††

††††††††††† Or youíll have the old man on you.

 

GRANDPA (mutters as he takes aim into the dark)

††††††††††† Too late, Kid, I already know where he is.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Are you just going to shoot him like that?

 

GRANDPA:

††††††††††† Yes, I am.

††††††††††† (But just as he goes to squeeze the trigger, Nelson bumps him. And the shot goes wild.)

††††††††††† You fool!

 

††††††††††† (A shot sounds from the brush father along the trail, striking Grandpa in the side and spinning him around so that his rifle clatters down the side of the hill )

 

KID: (yelps in excitement)

††††††††††† I got him.

††††††††††† I shot the old coot.

 

(Down hill, in the mouth of a canyon, Ben looks up at the sound of the first shot, then hears the second shot, and squinting up hill as Grandpaí body falls.Ē

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Grandpa?

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† What happened?

†††††††††††

BEN:

††††††††††† They shot Grandpa.

††††††††††† We got to go back.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† But you said.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Weíre going back!

 

(Ben grabs Nelly by the hand and rushed back up the grail they way they came. But not recklessly, he moves like an Indian might, his feet following the soft sold so that they make as little noise as possible and soon come upon Clem, who had been trailing them, but halted to look back at the shooting up hill.

Ben lets loose of Nelly and grabs up a stone, striking Clem in the side of the face before Clem can bring his rifle around. The rifle clatters on the ground, but Clem grabs Benís arm and they wrestle, the larger man getting the better of the boy.

Nelly reaches the rifle, picks it up gingerly, but does not seem to know when to shoot.

There is no need. Ben learned a lot from his grandfather, including wrestling his grandfather learned from the French and Indians over the years. The man tumbles once, then again, then grabs for a six shooter than came loose in the fight and lay in the gravel.

Ben rushes to Nelly, grabs the rifle, shoots Clem, just as Clem reaches the pistol

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† You killed him.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† It was him or us.

(He picks up the six shooter and stuffs it into his belt.)

 

††††††††††† Not time for talk.

††††††††††† Come on.

†††††††††††

NELLY:

††††††††††† Where?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† After the others.

 

NELLY

††††††††††† Thatís crazy.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I might have thought so before, but now we have to put an end to them or theyíll hunt us down.

††††††††††† We donít have my grandfather to protect us. We have to protect ourselves.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† What about the other man that was with your grandfather? Canít he take care of Kid Kelly

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I† donít think so

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Why not?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Because I saw the other man when my grandfather fell.

††††††††††† Itís your father.

††††††††††† And if my guess is right, Kid Kelly will kill him, too, if we donít get to him first.

 

 

SCENE 24: (Kid Kelly is standing at the top of the ridge as Ted makes his way back up. Kid has his gun aimed at Nelson, and both are looking down at Grandpa Ė who is bleeding, but not dead on the gravel side)

 

KID:†††

††††††††††† Well, old man.

††††††††††† It looks as if youíve come to the end of that long road of yours.

††††††††††† A fitting end for an old cow like you.

 

GRANDPA (coughing)

††††††††††† Your road ends here, too.

 

KID:

††††††††††† No, your wrong.

††††††††††† Iím going to live to see the clerks take over the west.

††††††††††† Maybe Iím less lucky than you, who knows.

 

(a shot sounds from down the hill)

 

TED (who finally reaches the top and stops near Kid)

††††††††††† What was that?

 

GRANDPA: (laughs, coughs up blood)

††††††††††† The end of the road, Kid

 

KID:

††††††††††† Itís that brat grandson.

††††††††††† Straight out of the same mold

(Shouts)

††††††††††† Hey boy.

††††††††††† I know you can hear me.

††††††††††† I got your grandfather here.

††††††††††† Take a good listen.

(Kid aims his rifle at Grandpaís head and fires several times since the body ceases to move)

††††††††††† Thatís me killing him off, boy.

††††††††††† If you want more of the same, you come up and get it.

††††††††††† Otherwise, why donít you take the girl and scoot.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Do you think heíll go.

 

KID:

††††††††††† No, he wonít go.

††††††††††† Even if we didnít have the girlís father, that son of a bitch would come after us.

 

TED:

††††††††††† So what do we do?

 

KID:

††††††††††† We wait for him, and kill him when he gets here.

 

TED:

††††††††††† You mean if we can.

††††††††††† If heís as crafty as the old man, we might not be able to.

 

KID:

††††††††††† True.

But if he leaves, heíll only come back with the sheriff and the old manís sons.

††††††††††† Better we clean this mess up here and now, than spend the rest of our lives being hunted.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Like they wonít hunt us anyway.

 

KID:

††††††††††† For what?

††††††††††† Nobody knows what we did here.

††††††††††† Only the boy, the girl, and teacher here.

††††††††††† If all goes well, none of them will be alive to tell anybody about it.

††††††††††† Come on, Teach. Weíve got to get to higher ground to set a little trap.

 

SCENE 25: (Ben and Nelly reach Grandpaís dead body. They stand over it for a moment, then Ben glares up the path in the direction Kid Kelly has gone)

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Grandpa tried to tell me that nobody every really tamed the west, that deep down the same dark forces stirred, killing and being killed often for no reason.

††††††††††† I never believed him.

††††††††††† I saw this place as spoiled, and wished often I had been born back in Grandpaís day, before the west was tamed.

 

NELLY: (Clearly shocked by the body below)

††††††††††† And you donít think so now?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† No.

††††††††††† Now I know there is no taming of the west.

††††††††††† That the west is something in a manís blood, stirring him up, making him do something important or something stupid, and that it takes good people, strong people to make sure the bad blooded ones like Kid Kelly donít ruin things for everybody else.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Maybe we should go get the sheriff after all.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† The sheriff canít settle this.

††††††††††† Even if your fatherís life wasnít on the line, I would have to deal with this.

††††††††††† This is between me and Kid Kelly.

 

 

SCENE 26: Kid† and Ted hold Nelson hostage in a crown of rocks at the peak of the hill, with only the one path leading up to the place.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Youíre animals.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Thatís right, teach, we are.

††††††††††† Everybody is.

Some brainy tips like you tend to forget it.

††††††††††† Iím on this good earth to remind people like you that weíre all animals down deep.

 

TED: (Looking out at the path)

††††††††††† Someoneís coming.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Thatíll be the brat and the girl.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Kill me if you have to†††

††††††††††† Just let the girl live.

 

KID:

††††††††††† I intend to kill you, teach.

††††††††††† As for letting the girl go, I canít.

††††††††††† But if it will ease your mind any, I intend to show her a good time before I put a bullet in her brain.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Shush.

††††††††††† Theyíre close.

††††††††††† Theyíll hear you.

 

KID:

††††††††††† I want them to hear me.

††††††††††† (Then shouting at Ben)

††††††††††† Hey boy. Weíre up here.

††††††††††† And we got the teacher with us

 

(Down the path, Ben and Nelly halt)

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† So itís true. He has my dad.

BEN: (shouting back)

††††††††††† I hear you kid.

††††††††††† Why donít you send him down and weíll call things square?

 

KID

††††††††††† Why donít you come up and get him?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Things will go pretty bad for you, Kid, if I have to do that.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Donít get smart on me, boy.

††††††††††† Iíve got all the aces in the deck, and if you know whatís good for you, youíll play my way.

††††††††††† If you want the teacher, come and get him, but bring the girl with you.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Letís get the sheriff.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† If we leave, youíre fatherís dead.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† If we stay, heíll die, and so will we.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Maybe.

††††††††††† But Iím not going to let Kid kill my grandfather and get away it

††††††††††† (shouting to Kid Kelly)

††††††††††† Sorry, Kid.

††††††††††† I hurt my leg running away. I canít climb up to where you are without help.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Let the girl help you.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Sheís not strong enough.

††††††††††† You want me up there, youíd better sent someone down here to get me.

 

(back in the crowís next)

 

KID:

††††††††††† Damn that boy.

††††††††††† Heís as crafty as the old coot was.

 

TED:

††††††††††† So what do we do?

 

KID:

††††††††††† You go down and get him.

 

TED:

††††††††††† But itís a trap.

†††††††††††

KID:

††††††††††† Most likely.

 

TED:

††††††††††† Then why ask me to go.

††††††††††† Why not sit here and wait for him to leave.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Because he wonít leave, and sooner or later heís going to think to send the girl to get his family.

††††††††††† If that happens, weíre both dead

 

TED:

††††††††††† If I go down there, Iím dead.

 

KID:

††††††††††† Not if you kill him first.

††††††††††† You have a gun. Use it.

††††††††††† In fact, kill them both.

 

TED:

††††††††††† If itís as simple as that, why donítí you go and do it?

 

KID:

††††††††††† Because Iím telling you to do it, and if you donít, Iíll kill you myself, and save myself the bother of having to listen to you whine.

 

 

SCENE 27† Ben and Nelly down the path. Ben hands Nelly the rifle he got from Clem.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Take it

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Why on earth do I need that.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Because youíre going to have to use it.

††††††††††† A man is going to come down here after us in a minute, and youíre going to have to kill him.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Me?

††††††††††† What about you?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† I wonít be here.

††††††††††† While heís coming down here, Iím going to crawl around on the side of the bluff and climb into that crowís next from the blind side.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† †Youíre going to leave me alone?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Itís the only way I can reach your father before Kid Kelly kills him.

Kid Kelly will be listening to your shot.

When he hears it, heíll assume Iím dead or his man is.

††††††††††† When he finds out itís his man, heís going to use your father to get away, or kill him outright.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† What if I miss?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Donít.

 

SCENE 28: (Alternating shots of Nelly waiting as Ben climbs along the stony side. Then adding shots of Ted making his way cautiously down the path to where Nelly is waiting.

††††††††††† Tend appears at the edge of trees.

††††††††††† Nelly is still shaking. She aims the gun.

††††††††††† Cut away to Ben near the top of the rim when the shot sounds.

††††††††††† Then cut to Kid Kelly and Nelson in the crowís nest.

 

KID: (shouting)

††††††††††† Hey Ted, is the boy dead?

 

(The voice echoes unanswered at first, then Ben steps down from between a gap of stones.

 

BEN:

††††††††††† No, Iím not, Kid

 

KID:

††††††††††† Damn you.

††††††††††† (tries to raise his gun, but Ben fires, Kid Kelly falters then dies.)

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Thank God, you came.

These butchers nearly killed me.

††††††††††† Whereís my daughter?

 

BEN:

††††††††††† Letís go see

 

SCENE 29: Ben and Nelson come down to the place along the path where Ted lies dead and Nelly, with the rifle on the ground in front of her, is crying. Nelson rushes over to her to hold her.

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† Itís going to be all right, Nelly.

††††††††††† The nightmare is over.

 

NELLY:

††††††††††† Is it?

 

NELSON:

††††††††††† You bet.

††††††††††† Weíre going to leave this place, got back east where it is more civilized.

††††††††††† (Nelson looks at Ben)

††††††††††† And if you want, you can come with us.

 

BEN: (shakes his head)

††††††††††† No

††††††††††† I wonít be going with you.

††††††††††† Iím going to have a ranch to run.

††††††††††† Now weíd better head back.

††††††††††† Itís going to be a long walk

(then looking around)

††††††††††† This place still has a lot of things to worry about.

 

 


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