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"Fools and Kings" By Ujwal Nair


ACT I SCENE 1 A BLUE LIGHT comes to life and floods STAGE LEFT. A man wearing a SHINY SUIT and a TURBAN enters from the LEFT WING. He takes a bow. He’s some kind of performer. PERFORMER Thank you for your patience ladies and gentlemen, you are all much too kind. Now for the act you’ve all been waiting for... The Blue light goes off and a SPOT LIGHT comes on, lighting up MID-STAGE CENTRE. There’s a FOUR-SIDED TABLE with CHAIRS on all but one side. TWO MEN, holding onto GLASSES OF ALCOHOL, are seated opposite each other. They are drunk as hell. DRUNK MAN ON THE LEFT You know what I hate more than your guts? Your filthy-looking face. If I could tear it apart, I would. DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT I’m sorry Rocky, but that role, that character, it’s tailor-made for me. I can’t let you have it. He takes a sip from his glass. You don’t know how it feels to be born into a family of legends, to be surrounded by legends-in-the-making, while being an insignificant little germ. ROCKY You’re right. I don’t know how that feels. But my world would be better off without a germ like you contaminating it. DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT And with you out of my way, my mind will be at ease knowing that there is one less genius in the world. ROCKY How you flatter! DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT So, do you want to hear my proposal? ROCKY Proposal?

(CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

2.

DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT You still want to tear my face? ROCKY More than you can imagine. DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT Then I propose that we play a game. SPOT LIGHT goes off and the BLUE LIGHT comes back on. PERFORMER (taking a revolver and a bullet out of his pocket) For my final act I’m going to play a classic sport. The most dangerous sport there is. A sport of life...and death... BLUE LIGHT off, SPOT LIGHT on. DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT Russian Roulette. ROCKY Russian Roulette?! You’ve really lost it, haven’t you? DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT No. Not entirely. Here’s what I reckon: I succeed in blowing your head off, it puts another stain on my already shameful reputation. You succeed in blowing my head off, the world will believe that you have performed an act of God by putting a madman to rest. Rocky, if you think that God is treating you fair by letting scum like me have my way, you can shy away from the one chance you have of getting rid of me. Or if you think that God is truly on your side, nothing can come between your bullet and my skull. ROCKY (after a long pause) Let’s play. SPOT LIGHT off, BLUE LIGHT on. PERFORMER Ladies and gentlemen, I would advise you not to try this at home. Or anywhere in the mortal world for that matter. I’ve got one bullet(he shows us his bullet). I insert it into one of the openings in the wheel of the barrel(he inserts the bullet). I spin the wheel(spin, spin, spin). I push the wheel back into its place(he pushes it back). And I’m ready to take my first shot. (CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

3.

BLUE LIGHT off, SPOT LIGHT on. A THIRD MAN has joined the table. He reveals TWO REVOLVERS and TWO BULLETS to the men at the table. He inserts one bullet in the wheel of each barrel, spins the wheels, pushes the wheels back into place, and passes a gun to each player. ROCKY Me first. Drunk man on the right shrugs:"Fine by me." Rocky aims the gun at the drunk man’s forehead. SPOT LIGHT off, BLUE LIGHT on. PERFORMER (aiming the gun at the side of his head)Three...two...one...(he pulls the trigger)...lucky for the fifth time straight ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. It’s been an honour.(He bows) For the finale... He raises his gun-holding hand to the ceiling. SPOT LIGHT comes on. BLUE LIGHT stays on. ROCKY pulls the trigger. We only hear a click. It’s the drunk man’s turn. He points the gun at Rocky’s forehead. DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT My turn. The performer and the drunk man fire almost simultaneously. We hear the gunshots loud and clear. STRIPS OF SPARKLY RED PAPER are showered onto the men at the table. Rocky sits dead on his chair. The performer takes one final bow and the BLUE LIGHT goes off. The drunk man on the right rises from his chair and takes a look at the dead Rocky. DRUNK MAN ON THE RIGHT (to the third man) Nice work uncle. They exit through the RIGHT WING. TWO BACKSTAGE CREW MEMBERS enter from the LEFT WING and carry the dead body offstage.


4.

SCENE 2 The SPOT LIGHT continues to shine. A WOMAN is seated at it. She’s having a drink from a CHAMPAGNE GLASS. The BLUE LIGHT comes on to brighten up STAGE LEFT. A man enters from the LEFT WING, wearing a SHAWL that covers his torso. THE MAN Having a drink are we Helen dear? HELEN I’m worried Ace. Terribly worried. ACE Oh that’s a perfectly reasonable excuse to get drunk. I’m sold. HELEN Ace, I’m serious. Ace walks across to the chair closest to Helen’s and settles down. ACE Where are The brothers? HELEN They’re out. Shooting. For the last time probably. ACE Why so? HELEN Doc accepted the invitation. ACE Is that right, my dear? HELEN Look, I know he’s a sucker for gambling, how just the thought of it gets his blood racing... She leans towards Ace. But this is Macho D we’re talking about Ace. We all know how twisted his mind is. ACE His mind is twisted honey. Yes, very twisted. HELEN Will you stop with the ’honey’ and the ’dear’ crap?

(CONTINUED)


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5.

ACE What’s the matter sweet cheeks? HELEN I’m serious. ACE And I’m not? How can anyone resist the urge to woo someone as...ooh la la...grand-looking as you? Helen gets up from her seat in frustration. HELEN You have been very helpful, thank you. I appreciate it. You may leave now. ACE But it has been eras since I last saw you, last spoke to you... HELEN I wanted us to talk as well Ace, but you’re testing my patience with all your...cheesiness... ACE But, cherry, you ought to know- you order the Ace package, you get it with the cheesiness. Helen begins to walk away... ACE Before you go, you should know that I will be at tonight’s game. I’m going there to oversee the proceedings. HELEN Thank God! Oh that’s all I wanted to hear! I would give you a hug if I wasn’t afraid of Taurus walking in on us. ACE He would give me a thrashing then, eh? HELEN Probably, yes. ACE I’d take it for the hug. Helen shakes her head in embarrassment, but smiles this time. There’s a bit of silence. Till Ace rises from his chair.

(CONTINUED)


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6.

HELEN Stay for a drink? ACE Oh, no. No, no, I better get moving. I can take Taurus, but not the whole band of brothers. HELEN That’s not funny. ACE I know. I apologise. He goes up to her. He reaches out to touch her face, but she turns away. He closes his hand and brings it down. Don’t worry. Everything will be just fine. Probably not smooth as silk, but fine. HELEN (coyly) Why not smooth as silk? ACE (to the audience) Because, like you said Helen, this is Macho D we’re talking about. Who knows what trick he’s got up his sleeve? (to Helen) You take care now. Helen exits through the RIGHT WING. The SPOT LIGHT goes off. Ace speaks to us. Tonight’s the opening night of Macho D’s Casino. Being the blood-sucking gambler that I am it’s the perfect place for me to be. But for the men of Helen’s house, Macho D’s cousins, maybe it’s not such a great idea. Especially not for The Doctor, the eldest of Macho D’s cousins. He’s a fine filmmaker, known for his "clinical" approach to filmmaking and all. But when it comes to Poker he is...insufficiently skilled. So no matter what, he should stay miles away from the Poker table and let one of his brothers do the gambling. That said, the devious Macho D will always have a back-up plan to screw his cousins. Ace takes off his shawl to reveal a WAIST-COAT. A BACKSTAGE CREW MEMBER comes out from the LEFT WING. He takes Ace’s shawl, gives him a HAT, and exits. Ace wears the hat, and takes out a PACK OF CARDS from his WAISTCOAT POCKET. So tonight’s game promises to be anything but friendly. It’s going to be a dramatic clash. Sadly I won’t be playing any Poker myself,(smiles) but I’ve got the best seat in the house. (CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

7.

Ace moves to the table. SCENE 3 As the BLUE LIGHT goes off, the SPOT LIGHT snaps back on, and so does a BEAM OF RED that brightens up STAGE RIGHT. STAGE RIGHT, we find two men. One, SMARTLY DRESSED, standing. The other, DRESSED IN RAGS, seated on the floor, hugging a bottle of beer. Ace is seated at the head of the table. He is putting down cards. The game is in progress between two other men at the table, seated opposite each other. Both the men turn in their cards. The man seated on the right is the SURVIVING DRUNKARD from SCENE 1. He looks thrilled. The man seated on the left looks disappointed. ACE (to the audience, pointing at the man seated on the left) Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Doc, short for The Doctor... (pointing at the surviving drunkard seated on the right) And the infamous Macho D... Macho D and Doc are oblivious to Ace’s interaction with us. About the game. Well let’s just say Macho D’s Plan B remains intact and unused. Because the enthusiastic Doc volunteered to play himself. And Doc has taken a pretty terrible beating to say the least. The chips were taken off the table a long time ago. Since then Doc has lost everything from his wrist-watch to the last acre of his Studio property, to, as absurd as it sounds,(pointing at the men STAGE RIGHT) his own actor brothers and even himself! Well played Doc. A Backstage Crew Member(BSCM) enters from the RIGHT WING with a PEN and a FOUR DIFFERENTLY COLOURED SHEETS and offers them to Macho D. Macho D accepts the items and passes them to Doc. The BSCM goes up to the RIGHT WING and waits there. MACHO D Here are the contracts for the Studio property transfer, the turning over of your good self and your brothers. Be a nice boy and sign away will you?

(CONTINUED)


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8.

DOC (reading the contents of the papers) You came fully prepared, eh? Well I shouldn’t have expected any less from Macho D. MACHO D Yes Doc, you shouldn’t have. Now about those signatures. Doc takes the pen and signs whereever required. DOC I didn’t know this contest was meant for showing off B-grade party tricks. I signed up for a game against a Poker player, not a magician. MACHO D I take that as a compliment. But I sense that you’re being a bitter loser about this. I’ve played my cards right Doc, you can’t hold me guilty for that. I understand your pain though. So I’m going to make you an offer. If I’m not mistaken there’s one more of you? DOC (slow realisation) Helen. MACHO D Wager her and win?(lifting the contracts)...and you can gift these pieces of paper to the nearest peanut seller. DOC (considering it) I win and the terms of the contracts will be nullified? MACHO D Yes that’s what I meant. MAN ON HIS FEET(STAGE RIGHT) Doc we have fallen deep enough, there’s no need to drag Helen into this. DOC (to Macho D, ignoring STAGE RIGHT Man’s plea) I’m not going to wager Helen without Conman’s permission. MACHO D Suit yourself.

(CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

9.

ACE (to the audience, pointing at the man seated on the ground) Conman is the odd-looking fellow there. He’s the most gifted actor in Doc’s camp. Right now he’s in serious preparation for the role of an aimless, depressed alcoholic. He calls this his meditation, his penance. He gets offended if he’s called an ’actor’. He believes an actor’s job is to pretend to be someone he’s not, not to live to be someone he’s not. Conman lives. Doc walks up to Conman and goes down on one knee. DOC Conman. If you’re there somewhere I want you to know that there are dreadful times ahead of us. Cleaning Macho D’s toilet, walking his dogs, being his dogs, we’re not cut for those things. But listen, we can still wager your wife. And if we win we get back everything. Our property and our lives. CONMAN But good sir. I don’t have a wife. I lost her and my entire family in a horrible drought. Now all I have is this bottle for company. (showing his bottle to Doc) Isn’t that pathetic? MAN ON HIS FEET(STAGE RIGHT) Yes it is. Now snap out of your silly act brother! This is Helen we’re talking about. CONMAN You called me brother! Thank you! Thank you...brother! MACHO D Sorry to interrupt your family moment but, Doc, the cat came out of the bag a long time ago. We all know that (pointing at all of them) your interactions with the lady of the house go beyond the occasional lunchroom chat. Stop trying to defend your honour. Just play. Doc walks to the table and takes his seat once again. Ace distributes the cards. They play. ACE (to the audience) And we have the same story. Doc wagers, Doc loses... Macho D punches the air in elation. The BSCM goes out, comes back with a RED SHEET OF PAPER and hands it over to Macho D, who in turn hands it to Doc. Doc signs it. (MORE) (CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

10.

ACE (cont’d) Doc signs a contract. I’m sorry Helen. MACHO D What a night!(to the BSCM) Go fetch Lady Helen. The BSCM exits through the LEFT WING. MACHO D (to Ace) Fix me a drink will you? ACE (rising from his chair) Certainly sir. MACHO D I’m feeling generous so get yourself one if you like. ACE Thank you sir. Ace exits through the RIGHT WING. MACHO D (to his new dogs) Would any of you like a drink to wash down your sorrows? Silence. Taurus glares at him. Doc has his head in his hands. CONMAN (raising his hand) Sure kind sir. MAN ON HIS FEET(STAGE RIGHT) That’s enough Conman! Macho D sniggers. As Ace enters through the RIGHT WING with a tray of drinks, the BLUE LIGHT comes on and Helen enters through the LEFT WING led by the BSCM. Macho D gets up immediately, walks up to Helen and takes her hand. A YELLOW LIGHT comes alive to light up DOWN-STAGE MIDDLE. The BSCM takes his place next the RIGHT WING. Ace puts the tray on the table. MACHO D Dearest Helen. Welcome! How would you like to star in the first installment of my superhero franchise with me playing the lead?

(CONTINUED)


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11.

HELEN I wouldn’t. MACHO D What if I tell you that it’s not upto you? HELEN And why on earth not? MACHO D Because your gem of a brother-in-law wagered you to win back all that he lost in tonight’s game, and lost you in the process. HELEN (looking menacingly at Doc) Is that so? And who am I to him, for him to wager? MACHO D You’re family to him. His one and only sister-in-law. And much more I’ve been led to believe. HELEN What have you been led to believe? MACHO D Sweetheart I won’t hesitate to embarrass you in front of everybody so don’t push it. HELEN Try me. MACHO D Since you insist, let me ask you, is it true that you provide comfort to all the men of your household at unearthly hours? HELEN Absolutely true. MACHO D (pause) And how does that make you feel? HELEN Like a queen having her subjects battle it out for a few precious moments with her. MACHO D Oh my. I did not know that whores felt so high and mighty. He lets go of her hand and takes a seat at the table. (CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

12.

Well since you’re so adept at the art of engaging men, how about you show me a performance?(he slaps his thighs) Right here. Right now. HELEN (sternly) Yes, well, that’s not going to happen. Macho D lifts the red sheet of paper. MACHO D Look here lady. I’ve got Doc’s signature on this contract. You were in my custody from the moment Doc’s pen left this piece of paper. And I tell you, my slave, that I want to end the night with a performance from you and you bloody well listen! Man on his feet(Stage Right) loses his cool and charges at Macho D. Macho D, almost as if he was expecting it takes out a handgun and points it at the raging bull. The beast is tamed. MACHO D Who’s the action hero now, huh? Macho D rises, turns to the BSCM and tilts his head to Conman’s direction. The BSCM takes out a handgun of his own and points it at the head of the bemused Conman. At this point Ace sneaks off stage through the RIGHT WING. MACHO D I’ve got your hubby and one of your infinite playmates at my mercy. You want them to stay at my mercy, you get on that table (pointing at the cards table) and dance! Helen looks down and walks towards the table. MACHO D Can we have some music? Nancy Sinatra’s "These Boots Are Made For Walking" blares through a record player. Helen gets onto a chair, and just as she gets onto the table, the lights go out. We hear moans and groans of pain.

(CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

13. The lights snap back on. Helen is gone. Macho D is on the ground with his gun being held on his face by the enraged Man who charged at him previously. The BSCM’s head is pinned on the table with his gun lodged into the back of his neck by Conman, who has now become a different man altogether.

DOC Taurus. Conman. Please. Let go of your victims. TAURUS (gritting his teeth) Quiet Doc! This creep has crossed the line. DOC But we haven’t. And we don’t have to now. Calm your anger. Let these pricks go. Conman pulls away. Taurus does so reluctantly. Before leaving Taurus grabs the coloured sheets of paper- the contracts. DOC Good. Let’s go find Helen.(shudders) We’ve got a lot of explaining to do. TAURUS (pause) We? Doc and his brothers exit through the LEFT WING. SCENE 4 Macho D rises from the ground, dusts his suit and gestures the BSCM to go after Doc and his brothers. BSCM exits through the LEFT WING. The YELLOW LIGHT goes off. Macho D patiently stands next to the chair on the right. Moments later, Doc enters through the RIGHT WING. DOC You summoned me? MACHO D Yes Doc where are my contracts? Trashed them already? DOC Taurus did. He set them on fire actually. MACHO D That’s great. Just great! How could you let him Doc? I thought you were an honourable man. I don’t really know what that word means but you were it- honourable. (CONTINUED)


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14.

DOC What are you getting at cousin? MACHO D Everything I won last night, from the first bet you put on the table to the last shred of your dignity, I won because of my undeniable skill and your lack of it. I can’t be punished for that. I deserve a second chance. One more game of Poker. DOC I cannot go through another long-drawn, one-sided contest. MACHO D You don’t have to. Just one game. Winner takes all. Loser stays away from show biz for thirteen years. DOC Thirteen years?! MACHO D What is that compared to a lifetime in my prison?! Which is what I had you and your family for, until my contracts were burnt out by your brother! DOC I see your point. MACHO D (pause) So? Do we play? DOC Yes. We play. Ace enters with a pack of cards from the RIGHT WING. ACE No points for guessing the outcome of this game. Ace shuffles and distributes cards to the players who have taken their seats. He lays out five cards... Doc plays simply to delay the inevitable. And it’s not a long delay. Macho D jubilantly turns in his cards and maintains the same level of excitement while he gets up and exits through the RIGHT WING. Doc sits on his chair, contemplating his ill-fate. Ace gets up from his seat. And while heading towards the LEFT WING... (CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

15.

Doc and his family, having no belongings to pack, make their way empty-handed to a nearby village, where they will be for the next thirteen years. Me and Doc and his family, we go back a long way. So I’m going to drop by to make sure they don’t waste their time cribbing. Ace exits.


16.

ACT II SCENE 1 Doc is still at the table under the SPOT LIGHT. The BLUE LIGHT comes on. He is joined by Taurus, Conman, Helen and Ace who has put his shawl back on. ACE You haven’t perished Doc. Treat these thirteen years as a break that you and your family need, to prepare something monumental. Something epic. TAURUS (annoyed) Which we will get to work on after 13 years. ACE Rome wasn’t built in a day was it? Think about it. Your work has already left a mark in cinematic history. Thirteen years from now your comeback will be the most awaited event of the millennium. But first things first. You need a story that is universal in appeal. And I’ve got one. DOC Pitch it to us then. ACE It’s simple. The story is about you, your family and your illustrious lineage. CONMAN (jokingly) You’re such a rip-off artist. ACE (smiles) Yes I couldn’t resist, because the story of your lives provide enormous scope for drama. And just to push the drama factor, I’ve set it in the ancient times when Gods, Beasts, Sages and Kings and Queens lived under one roof. DOC A mythological backdrop. I’m intrigued. The BLUE LIGHT goes off.


17. SCENE 2 The RED LIGHT comes on. Macho D and the THIRD MAN from SCENE 1 enter through the RIGHT WING. MACHO D It’s official Uncle. Tenth hit in a row! And everyone thought Doc and Co were set to take over the family empire. Who would’ve known that their talentless hack of a cousin was ten times as capable as them, of becoming the country’s number one show man? Driving them away from the world they were born to inhabit, it might have seemed harsh. But I was born to inhabit this world as well, right? This world of show business? Uncle nods. My business, like theirs, was to show. But no one was paying attention to my creations. It was like no one wanted to look at my babies. Like my babies were dim-witted, ugly, insignificant. That hurt. So I had to eliminate my cousins from the race. And now that I’m on a winning streak, I’m not going to let anyone steal my thunder. This is my time. The RED LIGHT goes off. SCENE 3 The BLUE LIGHT comes on. STAGE LEFT, Ace and Doc are reading a scene from scripts. DOC "Yudishtra and Krisha are in conversation. Yudishtra: Krishna, these thirteen years would have seemed endless if I did not have you and my brothers and Draupadi by my side. A simple thanks might not be adequate, but it is all I have to offer. Where do we go now my friend? What do you foresee?" ACE "Krishna: Though my actions and my words have proved to be prophetic in the past I am no prophet dear Yudishtra. I simply say and do what my heart desires. I told you that your people would eagerly await your return, that they would welcome you with garlands and good wishes. Your time has arrived. Discover for yourself what happens next." They fold up their scripts.

(CONTINUED)


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18.

ACE So neither of us know where the story is going. DOC It would appear so. The script has mirrored our lives so far Ace. The outcome of my talks with Macho D today will take the story in the direction it is supposed to go. ACE You want to remain truthful to the end. Very good Doc. DOC Yes. All right, I should be on my way. I’ve got our lives to reclaim. Thirteen years! It’s been a long wait. Thanks for being there for us Ace. ACE It’s been an honour Doc. But what if Macho D denies your claim? DOC Well then I’ll have to smash his head with a mace. Awkward pause. I’m only joking. I’ll just be reasonable and hope that he reciprocates. ACE Good luck Doc. (to the audience) Macho D did not reciprocate. Turns to Doc who exits through the LEFT WING. And that was the last that I saw of Doc.


19. ACT III SCENE 1 Taurus is seated at the head of the table. Seated on the left is Conman and seated on the right is Macho D’s Uncle. Ace and Helen are standing around. The atmosphere is eerie. Everyone waits anxiously for Uncle to speak. UNCLE All these years Macho had been basking in his unexpected glory. He was convinced that your lot would have lost all sense of hope and ambition after your exile. Nothing could prepare him for the excitement with which Doc burst into his office. I could sense Macho’s heart shrink. He realised right then that if the family legacy was to be carried on by him, he had to remove your brother from the picture. Permanently. So he fired a bullet into your brother’s chest, put his body inside a car and had it driven off a cliff. TAURUS It must’ve been a nice car. Was it insured? Because our brother’s life sure as hell wasn’t! CONMAN You come here weeks after his death to confirm what we already know? That’s kind of you. Now please stop making us miserable and get out of our sight. UNCLE You’re misunderstanding the purpose of my visit. I’m here to help. CONMAN Help? You’ll be our eye-witness and stand up against Macho D when the time comes? UNCLE The boy is well-protected by his father and all his foul political connections. Anything I, or anyone says against him, will become immaterial. TAURUS So what then? We let him escape scot-free? UNCLE That, or you challenge him to a game of Russian Roulette. Heard of it?

(CONTINUED)


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20.

CONMAN Yes. But I think we’re looking for less suicidal means to get revenge. TAURUS What makes you think he’ll agree to play? Uncle gets up. While walking around the table... UNCLE When Macho plays Russian Roulette against an opponent, I come in as the Spinner. I spin the wheels of the guns of both players. That way Macho is guaranteed a hit the very first time he pulls the trigger, and the opponent is not. THE PERFORMER from ACT 1, SCENE 1, emerges from the LEFT WING. He comes on stage and freezes. Uncle turns to the performer. It’s a trick I picked up from my father. He was an illusionist. He also taught me card tricks, which I passed on to Macho, which he unfortunately used against you in the game of Poker. TAURUS Oh thanks for that. UNCLE I had to do it to win his trust. So that when this day arrived, when Macho’s rivals were ready to cause him pain, I could be of assistance, and Macho wouldn’t suspect a thing. Why would I do something so wretched? I want Macho’s father to feel the excruciating sorrow of losing one of his own. He murdered my father simply to gain hold of a sorry little piece of land where my father did his solo acts. When I saw Macho take your brother’s life, it was like watching an action replay of my father’s last living moments. The performer breaks out of freeze mode and starts searching his pockets. PERFORMER It seems I’ve forgotten to bring my cards.(with a wry smile) This is embarrassing.(turning to Uncle) Child, bring me my deck of cards at once. As Uncle approaches the performer...a GUNSHOT...the performer falls to the floor. A BSCM comes in from the LEFT WING and drags the performer’s body off stage. Uncle walks after the body, but halts before the LEFT WING.

(CONTINUED)


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21.

UNCLE If you boys decide to challenge my nephew to Russian Roulette, I will spin the wheel in your favour. I’ll give you time to consider my offer. Uncle turns to the RIGHT WING and walks. He is almost off stage... TAURUS Throw him the challenge. Tell him that I want to see him bleed. Uncle nods and exits. CONMAN Are you insane!? Taurus save your action star antics for the screen! TAURUS Brother, don’t suddenly act like you care about someone apart from yourself. CONMAN What is that supposed to mean? TAURUS I’m referring to your lack of concern when your own wife was wagered like a poker chip! You were so caught up in your own stupid little act. ACE If I may speak Taurus, it wasn’t stupid at all. If Conman was getting prepared to play the role of a loving husband, he would’ve reacted differently. TAURUS And that’s not selfish? ACE It most certainly is. But that’s Conman for you. And Conman if you need the faith to take on your cousin in unimaginable ways, you need to get lost in the character that Doc had written for you. His last wish was for his script, the story of your lives, to get an honest ending. You can give him the ending that he wanted. Conman you can help Doc, you can help us. Start by helping yourself. Ace begins to sing Sad Brad Smith’s "Help Yourself". The others join in. They sing, they dance till the LIGHTS GO OUT.


22. SCENE 2 LIGHTS SNAP BACK ON. Taurus and Macho D are seated opposite each other at the table. Uncle is seated at the head of it. Ace, Helen and Macho D’s personal BSCM stand close-by. Uncle shows the men at the table TWO BULLETS, and inserts one each into the wheels of TWO REVOLVERS. He spins the wheels and pushes them into place. MACHO D Conman decided to skip this? ACE No he’s on his way. He had to arrange for an extra horse to pull his chariot. Uncle passes a gun to each player. Macho D speaks to Ace with a forced calm. MACHO D (amusedly) What do you mean? Oh wait. He’s "in character" eh? Well it won’t be the first time he’s done it for nothing. TAURUS Shut up and play. MACHO D My, my, somebody’s really eager to pop my head. Go on. Fire first. Taurus takes his revolver. He raises it and takes aim of Macho D’s forehead. He hesitates to shoot. Uncle shuffles uncomfortably on his chair. UNCLE (to Taurus) All right! Listen young man. I’m sorry. I couldn’t do it. Nervous glances are exchanged between the people on stage. MACHO D Do what? UNCLE (while getting up from his chair, to Taurus) Walk away while you still can. Uncle goes STAGE RIGHT.

(CONTINUED)


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23.

MACHO D (loudly) Do what!? UNCLE I’m sorry Macho. I promised these men that I would take their side in this game. MACHO D (shaking) What?! Why?! All of a sudden Taurus pulls the trigger. We hear a click but no gunshot. Macho D turns to him in a flash, grabs his gun and pulls the trigger...just another click is heard. Everyone else watch in horror. MACHO D (to Uncle) Where’s the damn bullet?! UNCLE I don’t know! I didn’t jinx either of the guns! After a second or two, Taurus pulls the trigger again. And again. Macho D does the same. We still hear only clicks until...gunshot...Macho D’s BSCM has taken out his gun and fired. Taurus falls back on his chair- dead. Macho D stares at the body in shock. His assistant pulls him out of his chair and they make their way to the RIGHT WING. From the LEFT WING Conman enters, wearing a vaeshti and an angavasthram. He is holding a bow which he has strung. He lets go of the string and the BSCM jerks his body, cries out in pain and falls. Macho D is about to snatch the BSCM’s gun, but Conman strings his bow with another invisible arrow and aims it at the terror-struck Macho D. Macho D halts. CONMAN Pick up your weapon. MACHO D I’m sorry? CONMAN Pick up your weapon. I cannot attack one who is unarmed. Do you not know that it is adharmic?

(CONTINUED)


CONTINUED:

24.

Macho D pounces onto the BSCM’s gun. The moment he touches it, Conman releases his arrow, throwing Macho D to his left. With the little strength that he has left, Macho D fires at Conman. Conman winces and slumps to his knees. Seconds later, the rest of his body hits the floor. UNCLE (to Ace and Helen) I’m sorry. I couldn’t bring myself to hurt my child. Uncle walks out through the RIGHT WING. Helen stands by, shell-shocked. Ace, trying his best to remain calm, walks up to the front. ACE (to the audience) The story of Doc’s family just got the most explosive ending. Call me heartless, call me sadistic, but I can’t wait to finish Doc’s script. HELEN So you got the exciting ending you were looking for. ACE Helen...I... HELEN Just make sure you go easy on my boys when you write it down. ACE But Helen. Doc wanted to stay true to... HELEN I know. But my boys deserve better. FADE OUT.


Fools and Kings