Long Shadow
a play in two acts by
Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller
first produced by Foothill Theatre, Nevada City, CA, in May 2005
(Note: The play can be performed by nine actors.)
Carl Timmerman — 52 — sheriff of Nevada County, CA
Sally Timmerman — 48 — his wife
Woodrow Purvis — 29 — carpenter
Winona Purvis — 30 — his wife
Fred Upchurch — 60 — farmer
Ruby Upchurch — 35 — his daughter
Jamie Upchurch — 34 — his son
Lester — 40 — deputy sheriff
Walt — 45 — news reporter
Ginny Cavendish — 36 — news reporter
Halloween Monster — teenager costumed as Ebaugh
Brady — 40’s — banker — member of coroner’s jury
Oleson — 50’s — merchant — member of coroner’s jury
Evans — 30’s — realtor — member of coroner’s jury
Maggie — 50’s — bartender
Mr. Sturgis — 60’s — retired merchant
Mrs. Sturgis — 60’s — his wife
Chris — 23 — infantry sergeant on leave
Thomas O’Donnell — 45 — electrician
William Ebaugh — 36 — a shadow
Voices & Shadows
The play is performed on a multi-location unit set, with shadow screens used to accompany voice collages and the appearance of the central figure, William Ebaugh, who appears only in various characters’ dreams, since his real nature and actions were the subject of the controversy. Scenes are bridged by voice collages backed by music. Except for that, the action is realistic.
© 2005 Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller
All rights reserved.
For production information, contact WordWorkers, 800-357-6016 or E-mail.
Act One
Music theme. A collage of voices.
VOICES: It’ll be better when the war’s over.
Better when we get off gas rationing.
Kill Hitler, that’ll be the day.
Lot better when the election’s over and this goddamned war-mongering, communist-hugging, nigger-loving Roosevelt is outta there. Dewey knows what’s what.
It’ll be better when they open the mines again.
Music change.
I wake up wanting to believe it.
Thinking I got through the night.
Thinking it’s another day.
Trying to remember that crazy dream.
Emerging, the shadow of a hairy, bearded man.
Don’t touch it. Why dig up what’s dead and buried?
Bill Ebaugh. Leave it alone.
Kitchen. Woodie & Winona finish supper.
WOODIE: ‘Sgood.
WINONA: It was better at dinnertime.
WOODIE: I’m just trying earn some overtime.
WINONA: You got work next week?
WOODIE: They don’t say. Charlie got laid off. We got pie?
WINONA: You ate it yesterday.
WOODIE: I like dessert.
WINONA: I need money.
WOODIE: I get paid next week.
WINONA: We’ll have pie next week.
Silence. He finishes his food.
WOODIE: I think about— Whatta they call him? Wild Bill?
WINONA: Joey needs a new coat.
WOODIE: Wild Bill. Lucky bastard. Lives the way he wants to. Out in the hills. Runs around naked. The ladies like him, according to Charlie.
WINONA: With all that hair?
WOODIE: Bill Ebaugh. He don’t take any crap.
WINONA: I seen him in town. He looks crazy.
WOODIE: World like this you’re better off crazy. I admire that sonofabitch.
WINONA: Don’t talk like that around Joey.
WOODIE: Joey’s asleep.
WINONA: Hon, you know there’s work overt the Bay. Lotta work. Everybody’s got good jobs. Did you check the lumberyard?
WOODIE: They said why aren’t you in the Army? I said if I was in the Army I wouldn’t need the job.
WINONA: Tell’em it’s cause of your eyes.
WOODIE: The Japs are too short to see?
WINONA: Lots of people are 4-F.
Well we can’t just keep going like this, Woodie. Even women’s got good jobs. I gotta buy Joey a coat for winter. If you get laid off we have to go back out to the cabin, I’m scared out there—
WOODIE: Scareda what?
WINONA: Just being there. Cooped up. Those old shacks, and the mine shafts, you don’t know if there’s hoboes there. Or your wild man that you like so much— You finished?
He makes a vague gesture.
The war’s gonna be over, millions of guys come back looking for jobs, what’s gonna happen if you don’t have a job?
WOODIE: I got a job.
WINONA: This week.
I could get something.
WOODIE: I don’t want you working. My mom worked in a cannery—
WINONA: I heard about your mom in the cannery—
WOODIE: She come home, fix supper, yell at us kids, and I never seen her crack a smile.
WINONA: Whereas I’m just fulla laughs.
WOODIE: I woulda killed my dad if he hadn’t died first. Only good thing he ever did for the family.
WINONA: Well he left you that goddamn cabin out there.
WOODIE: “Don’t talk like that around Joey.”
WINONA: Joey was on my nerves all day.
WOODIE: Well smack him.
WINONA: That’s not gonna happen under this roof, Woodie!
WOODIE: What’s on the radio?
WINONA: Nothing much. Amos’n’ Andy was on. Well you get laid off, we’ll have to move out to the cabin. We can’t afford to live in town. Joey’s gonna miss his friends.
She pours him more coffee.
Esther wrote that John’s working in New Mexico. Lotta work down there, for the war. He’s on some big project for the government, so they’re not gonna lay anybody off. It’s out in the desert, so I guess it must not ever snow.
WOODIE: That’s fulla Mexicans.
WINONA: New Mexico. It’s New Mexicans.
WOODIE: What makes them any better than the old ones?
WINONA: Woodie... I’m sorry, hon. I oughta be thankful we got each other, and you’re not overseas and me going crazy. I just think how dumb I was, right outta high school, all this notion about “happily ever after” and no idea what it’s like when the baby starts to crown and the bills come due. I’m sorry.
WOODIE: I just want some goddamn cherry pie.
Collage of voices.
VOICES: Here’s pork roast thirty cents a pound. Sirloin forty-two cents. We got the points?
George Webber got killed. He was a little hell-raiser.
That Norman Thomas is against the war. Why don’t they lock him up?
They took care of those strikers in St. Louis, beat’em with baseball bats.
Lamb stew, eighteen cents, no points.
Jimmy Durante, Gracie Allen, “Two Girls and a Sailor.” We could see that. I need a laugh.
Late afternoon. Sheriff’s office. Timmerman stands behind desk, holding a phone receiver. His deputy Lester hands him a folder. Walt, a reporter, stands by the door.
TIMMERMAN: (to phone) Frank, ok. You on there? We don’t have a whole lotta murders in Nevada County, so I didn’t want you people say I’m neglecting Sacramento. I got the local paper in here, one of’em. Siddown, Walt. Hear me ok? I oughta have microphones here, like President Roosevelt telling the nation.
Lester offers Walt a cigarette. Ginny appears at the door.
WALT: Lester, I can’t stand Camels.
LESTER: Damn, Walt, that’s what’s winning the war. We got real cigarettes. The Japs smoke turds.
TIMMERMAN: Lester, there’s a lady.
GINNY: I’m Ginny Cavendish. I just started at the Leader.
WALT: Ernie’s gone? They’re drafting old guys now.
LESTER: He’ll talk the Japs to death.
TIMMERMAN: Well siddown then. Get this done.
Timmerman checks his notebook, speaks to the reporters and to the phone.
TIMMERMAN: Ok, my friends, what we got. Jack Upchurch, age 24, his folks are farmers up in Willow Valley. He’s back from the Pacific a couple of months. Yesterday they’re out hunting, last day of deer season, he’s off driving deer, with the dogs. There’s a shot.
LESTER: They couldn’t find him. His dad and brother—
TIMMERMAN: His dad and his brother couldn’t find him. So we went out last night. And then today, about noon, his uncle found him in Snow Mountain ditch. He’d been shot in the back. Then dragged down a distance, down into the stream bed. Part of his clothes was torn off, and definitely the suspicion is murder. That’s about it.
Sally enters, stands at the door.
WALT: Anything special about the young man?
TIMMERMAN: No, they’re just farmers. He and his brother’s working his dad’s farm. And a daughter and another brother. Dad said the Japs shot off two of his fingers, so he’s got a Purple Heart.
To phone:
Yeh. Yeh, I guess you could call him that. I guess he’s a war hero, yeh. I went and spoke to the family.
WALT: How do they feel?
TIMMERMAN: Well they’re not dancing a jig. (to Sally) Whatta you want?
SALLY: Well I brought you some sandwiches, unless you’re coming home.
TIMMERMAN: No, I gotta finish this, then I gotta round up some men to go out tomorrow, and talk to the Coroner, so I got work—
SALLY: Tommy told me about the young man—
TIMMERMAN: Sally, I’m on the phone to Sacramento—
SALLY: (to reporters) Our younger son Tommy, he’s in the Scouts, they went out there, and he found the cave—
TIMMERMAN: He didn’t find the cave, he found the blood—
SALLY: But they went in the cave. He told me that, I just about died. If the killer was in the cave and those boys going in there—
WALT: What about the cave?
LESTER: There’s a cave—
TIMMERMAN: There’s a cave that wasn’t far from a pool of blood, where maybe is where he was shot. Looks like maybe somebody was living there in the cave. That is under investigation and that’s all we can say right now.
LESTER: It mighta been a hideout, cause it was hidden.
TIMMERMAN: We don’t know. I didn’t mention the cave cause we don’t know.
SALLY: Well I’m just leaving the sandwiches.
TIMMERMAN: (to phone) You there? No, I just had some sandwiches fly in on me.
SALLY: All right, I’ll be at home.
She goes out.
TIMMERMAN: Now you all got me in trouble.
WALT: So Carl, is there any indication of who might have been—
TIMMERMAN: Let me interrupt you, Walt. We are not prepared right at this moment to say whether we have a suspect at the present time.
WALT: Well do you have any indication of—
TIMMERMAN: Walt, I don’t want you to ask me this right now—
WALT: No, I’m just asking who you think it is—
LESTER: Walt, you know damn well.
Pause. To Sheriff:
TIMMERMAN: That’s off the record.
GINNY: Sheriff, there have been reports of a black market operation in the area of Willow Valley, which is maybe responsible for all the cattle stealing that’s been reported, as well as some steaks on people’s tables. Might that be connected with this killing?
TIMMERMAN: Somebody wants to butcher him?
Hearty laughter from Walt and Lester. Irritably:
Miss Cavendish, up in Mt. Shasta there’s reports of space monsters living inside the mountain. Maybe you better investigate that.
GINNY: I knew Jack. I’m a friend of his sister’s.
WALT: Well you’ll have a big story then.
GINNY: No, it won’t be front page. They’re not important people.
TIMMERMAN: (to phone) Frank, ok, that’s it. I got a boy going over to Sacramento tonight, we’ll have the details typed up, he can bring’em. Upchurch. U-P-C-H-U-R-C-H. Ok, bye.
Hangs up. To Ginny:
Miss Cavendish, we don’t make up murder mysteries, we just do our job. Lester can give you the rest of the facts that we know and probably some that we don’t. I got work.
Going toward the door:
Anybody want some sandwiches?
He goes out. Lester reaches for one.
Collage of voices.
VOICES: Long hair and a beard.
What kind of crazy person would grow a beard?
He was always so polite.
Crazy people. People are crazy today.
It’s the war.
Early evening. Front porch of farm house. Fred reads newspaper, drinks beer. Ruby enters with a mop bucket.
RUBY: Dad, you’re gonna catch cold out here. I need to mop the porch before it gets any colder. Whatta you reading?
FRED: Price of hogs.
RUBY: You read the article? My friend Ginny wrote the article. She called up, we haven’t seen each other for years. They didn’t put it on the front page. Some old doctor died. That’s what they put on the front page.
She starts mopping.
I called the church, Rev. Porter will do the service, but he didn’t know Jack so I said just talk about Jesus and God and that stuff. And the major at Ft. Beale, he was nice. It’ll be full military honors, Taps, flag on the casket. I guess they do funerals real well. They got practice.
FRED: Do they shoot off guns?
RUBY: I think they do.
FRED: I wish they wouldn’t.
RUBY: I think they have to. Did you get enough to eat? You seen Jamie today? He was going to help me. Funeral’s Saturday, we don’t know how many people’s coming.
FRED: It’s a military funeral.
RUBY: Military’s not serving the food. Military’s not cleaning the house. Military’s not milking the cows or taking care of Mom—
She regains control.
Mom hasn’t left Jack’s room.
FRED: Did you haul those pumpkins into town?
FRED: Well do it tomorrow.
RUBY: You know what I have to do tomorrow?
FRED: Laundry?
She continues mopping.
RUBY: Sheriff says it’s Bill Ebaugh. Paper today, they said this cave was full of stuff belonged to Bill Ebaugh. Big Victrola megaphone he used to sing through to serenade the neighbors. How could it be him? Him and Jack were friends. Didn’t you tell the Sheriff that? They were friends.
FRED: Billy Ebaugh. Him and George, they tried to ride the boar. Little kids, they tried to saddle up the boar. It ran under the corn crib.
RUBY: He was the class clown. He’d act out the teacher. He’d lick his tongue on the blackboard.
FRED: I got to fix the fence.
RUBY: We need to talk about Mom. We need to call a doctor. She doesn’t come outta Jack’s room. She stares into space.
FRED: You call a doctor when you’re sick. Then they make you sicker.
RUBY: Dad—
FRED: She’s gotta stop feeling sorry for herself. She’ll be fine.
RUBY: Oh my God—
Jamie enters.
Well you’re here.
JAMIE: Sis, I’m taking off tomorrow for Sacramento. We need supplies. I’ll head out in the morning, but I need some money.
RUBY: When you coming back?
JAMIE: Stuff takes time.
Sees Fred looking at him.
Silence. Violently:
FRED: Whatta we need?
JAMIE: Look out in the barn and see.
RUBY: I need you here.
FRED: I’m going to go fix the fence. There’s coyotes out there.
RUBY: It’s gonna be dark.
He goes out.
JAMIE: Sis, I need money.
RUBY: You’re running off, Mom’s going nuts, Dad’s falling apart—
JAMIE: You see him? Looking at me? Blaming me? I was a mile away from where he got shot. We had a fight, ok? Brothers have fights, ok?
RUBY: So people’s gonna ask where’s Jamie, and I say oh he had to get some horse fodder instead of putting his brother in the ground.
Fred returns.
FRED: Barb wire?
JAMIE: In the barn. By the harnesses.
Fred disappears.
RUBY: Mom hasn’t left Jack’s room. George is off someplace being the businessman, and you’re trying to weasel outta here with some chickenshit excuse. I’m not ready to be the mom here, Jamie. I don’t have any kids of my own, and I’m not gonna have any, cause I’m here taking care of all the babies!
I’ll go with you to the bank in the morning. You get your business done in a day and be back here before Saturday. I mean it, Jamie, or I swear to Christ—!
Fred returns. They fall silent.
FRED: Too dark out.
He goes to his chair, picks up the paper.
MacArthur’s gonna go back into the Philippines. He’s a great general. That Eisenhower, he’s ok, but the real fighting is the Pacific. That’s where your brother was, and he saw some action, right in the middle of it, and that’s what...
He breaks down. They watch him.
VOICES: 1928 committed to Napa State Hospital. Sterilized, released.
1935 charged with drawing an unlicensed pistol in a threatening manner. Probation.
1937 charged with buying a woman from her husband for $20 and holding her prisoner. Case dismissed.
All that hair.
1939 charged with rape. Acquitted.
1943 charged with cattle theft. Fugitive.
All that hair.
Evening. Dining room. Timmerman and Lester enter, followed by Sally.
SALLY: I had dinner ready at seven.
TIMMERMAN: Look, I brought Lester home, he hasn’t had supper. Can you warm something up?
SALLY: Well don’t blame me how it tastes. Sit down, Lester.
LESTER: ‘Preciate it.
TIMMERMAN: We’re out in the hills all day. People are terrified.
SALLY: It’s what you told the papers.
TIMMERMAN: I told’em he’s dangerous, and he is. That’s a known fact.
Knock at door.
SALLY: (going to answer) It’s just a trick-or-treater.
LESTER: We gotta get more guys out there. Fort Beale, they got soldiers over there with their thumbs up their butt.
TIMMERMAN: Federal regulations. The military cannot be used for domestic police operations.
LESTER: That’s Roosevelt.
TIMMERMAN: It’s not Roosevelt, it’s the law.
LESTER: You and I disagree.
TIMMERMAN: That is the truth.
SALLY: (returning) Well I spose you have to go out again.
TIMMERMAN: Well it’s Halloween. Mad killer running loose and I get calls on privies tipped over and black cows painted white. Got a call from the high school, some kid was gonna run around dressed like Bill Ebaugh.
LESTER: That’s all we need.
Knock at door. Scene freezes. Shadows in groups, minimal movement.
VOICES: I try to teach grammar, the kids just talk about killing.
The boys. They all want to lead the posse.
I’m more scared of them than I am of Bill Ebaugh.
He’s a thieving, poaching wild man.
Has he ever presented a threat to us, ever?
He’s a threat to us all.
I listen to the door creak, and the wind.
You need a dog.
What good’s a dog if he really wants to kill you?
Shadows fade, scene animates.
TIMMERMAN: Who you got for the morning?
LESTER: Horace and Lennie at noon. Nobody in the morning.
TIMMERMAN: We gotta get out in the morning.
LESTER: They’re all out there when it’s deer season.
SALLY: Some people think he didn’t do it. Did you read that lawyer in Sacramento? Said maybe Ebaugh would surrender if he knew he’d defend him.
TIMMERMAN: So I tack up love notes on trees? “Dear Bill, come on out, we won’t hurt a hair on your shaggy head, yours truly, kiss kiss.” This is a dangerous man. He was in the state hospital—
LESTER: If you’re not crazy when you go in there, you’ll be crazy when they let you out.
TIMMERMAN: He is heavily armed. We have had run-ins with him on three occasions where guns were pointed.
Sally reacts.
No I didn’t tell you!
SALLY: I didn’t say—
TIMMERMAN: He’s charged with rape, they let him off. Kids out in the woods, see him run naked— Sally, don’t tell me how to do my job.
A moment between them.
Could you give Lester some food? He’s hungry.
SALLY: I have a hard time sometimes, Carl.
TIMMERMAN: I know that.
She goes to kitchen.
LESTER: Carl, do you think Bill Ebaugh is actually on the run?
TIMMERMAN: Lester, if you had shot a man in the back wouldn’t you be on the run?
LESTER: But you think he knows he did it?
Knock at door. Scene freezes. Shadows animate.
VOICES: He knows those woods like a wild animal.
He moves like a panther.
He can see in the dark like a cat.
There’s helpless women out there.
People are feeding him. They’re putting out food to feed him.
They oughta be arrested.
They oughta be shot.
Is it too much risk? If somebody finds out?
We’re putting out food. We’re feeding the hungry, whoever.
It’s what Jesus wants us to do.
Shadows fade, scene animates. Sally returns with food.
SALLY: Here you are, Lester. (to Timmerman) You know Brad’s jealous cause Tommy got his name in the paper. Even though Brad gets his name in the paper all the time.
LESTER: Star athlete, debate club, you got a good one there, Carl.
TIMMERMAN: There’s good ones and there’s bad ones and that’s the way it is in the world and that’s why we’re fighting a war to get rid of the bad ones.
Lester chuckles. Timmerman looks at him sharply. Knock at door.
SALLY: (going to answer it) Trick or treat.
LESTER: Carl, we’re fighting the wrong war.
TIMMERMAN: Lester, don’t start in—
LESTER: I didn’t bring this up, you did. We finish this one, then we go up against Stalin we’ll wish we had Hitler on our side. Roosevelt’s either stupid or he’s a communist.
TIMMERMAN: There’s good and there’s evil, and you don’t compromise with evil.
LESTER: You oughta teach Sunday school.
LESTER: Hitler just wanted his piece of cake. If we’d gave him his piece of cake, let him kick the Jews’ asses, then we could all gone after the Reds.
TIMMERMAN: You’re sitting at my table, so just shut up—
LESTER: I didn’t raise the subject—
TIMMERMAN: You’re a goddamn fascist, Lester—
LESTER: I’m an American—
TIMMERMAN: You’re an American moron! You are so stupid—
LESTER: You don’t like what I say because you’re ashamed to admit you feel the same way I do.
TIMMERMAN: The hell I do! I believe in right and wrong, and good versus evil. You think I’m out there in the hills thinking any minute that bastard has got me in his sights, and I got two beautiful boys to raise and maybe send them off to fight—
LESTER: You’re changing the subject—
TIMMERMAN: I hope you choke on that!
LESTER: You wouldn’t know a fact if it pissed on your leg. Good versus evil! We’re chasing Bill Ebaugh because of good versus evil? We’re chasing him cause we just don’t like the sonofabitch!
Sally returns.
SALLY: Are you two at it again? Don’t you ever get tired?
LESTER: Nothing personal, Carl.
TIMMERMAN: No problem, Lester. You can’t help being stupid.
SALLY: Fraid I don’t have anything for dessert. Tommy finished off the cake. Brad’s gonna get him for that.
TIMMERMAN: And so’s their old man.
Knock at door. Scene freezes. Shadows animate.
VOICES: Bobby’s out in the hills with a crazy man loose.
Bobby’s gonna be fine.
That man’ll kill anything. He don’t care if it’s Boy Scouts.
The man was charged with rape.
Nobody’s safe.
We’re over there fighting Hitler when we got worse at home.
There’s somebody out back!
I’ll get the bastard!
Gunshot. Cry.
Dad? It’s me.
Shadows fade. Scene animates.
SALLY: Carl, don’t go out tonight. Let’em tip the privies. You stay here.
TIMMERMAN: There’s a killer out there. We’ll catch him, it’ll be done.
SALLY: It’ll never be done. That mother will never forget her boy is dead.
TIMMERMAN: There’s lots of mothers with dead sons. But I got a job to do, and in fact Brad is going to have a job to do as soon as he turns eighteen.
SALLY: I don’t need reminding—
TIMMERMAN: Which is not for another four months, and maybe by that time the war’s over, but meantime the people who’ve got a job to do have got to go out and do it. And this man is part of what has to be wiped out. What FDR said, Freedom from Fear? What good we go over and kill Hitler, if we got the same thing going on right here?
LESTER: We need to fill some of those camps with a lot more people than just the Japs.
TIMMERMAN: Damn right. (a hitch) That’s not what I mean!
SALLY: You never shot anybody, Carl. You never have. First war you never got overseas.
TIMMERMAN: There’s millions of people never shot anybody, but they’re learning fast.
SALLY: How about if we go to San Francisco? We need a vacation. I don’t mean right now. I mean ... sometime.
TIMMERMAN: Sally, they’re giving me a lot of heat. People that matter.
LESTER: That’s good food. I think I’m gonna have to get married.
SALLY: Lotta ladies out there looking, Lester.
LESTER: Maybe somebody that’s deaf and blind.
She clears the plates.
SALLY: They talk about that boy being a war hero, but I never saw anything in the papers when he came home from the war.
TIMMERMAN: Well they’re just farmers.
LESTER: Getting shot raises people’s interest level.
Knock at door.
TIMMERMAN: Trick or treat.
Sally doesn’t move. Knocking continues.
A hairy, bearded shadow rises ominously. Then the figure, a high school kid, snatches off his wig, cackling, “Trick or treat!”
VOICES: I’m afraid of the war—
What happens after the war—
People like wild animals—
Crazy people with guns.
I’m afraid of doctors.
I’ve got a lump.
I’m not afraid of death but I’m afraid of the dying.
I’m afraid of stuff that’s blurry—
Stuff I can’t see—
What they’re not telling us.
Car moving at night with its headlights off.
Evening. Kitchen table. Woodie sits cleaning his rifle. Winona enters.
WINONA: Joey’s asleep. I hope.
WOODIE: Hey. Come over here a minute.
WINONA: I gotta finish the bills, Woodie.
She sits at the table, starts working.
WOODIE: Joey was funny. He said, Daddy, what did you wanta be when you were six? Said, I wanted to be Ty Cobb. He says, Who’s that? (laughing) Imagine when a kid don’t know Ty Cobb? Some kinda world.
WINONA: There’s something like that in the Bible.
WOODIE: I’ll have to read that. See how it turns out.
WINONA: So if you’re trying to be funny they must be laying you off.
WOODIE: I’m not laid off. He’s giving me part-time.
WINONA: We’ll have to move out to the cabin.
WOODIE: Maybe there’s someplace else in town.
WINONA: Oh you bet. (picking up newspaper) Here’s one. “Three bedrooms, two baths. Hardwood floors laid in pattern of unique beauty.”
WINONA: “Comfort and dignity abound—”
Slaps the paper down.
They haven’t caught that guy—
WOODIE: They won’t catch him neither. He knows those hills. He’s smart.
WINONA: Well that makes me feel great. He’s smart. So you won’t mind me getting raped and killed by a guy that’s smart. I might even enjoy it.
WOODIE: (reaching to stroke her arm) Come on over here.
WINONA: All those miners’ cabins, there’s mine shafts, hundreds of places out there that he could hide.
WOODIE: Come on...
WINONA: You trying to be some lover boy, Woodie, that don’t change nothing. We gotta go where there’s jobs and we can have a life.
WOODIE: I grew up here.
WINONA: Not enough.
WOODIE: You’re cute when you’re mad.
WINONA: Well then I must be a knock-out.
WOODIE: Go to New Mexico, what’s in New Mexico?
WINONA: There’s jobs there. John just got a bonus.
WOODIE: There’s nothing to be afraid. Look, the only cabin that’s close is the old Gladfelter place. That’s a mile away, we can go past and see what it looks like, if there’s any smoke. Hey, come here. Joey’s asleep.
He rises, goes to her, strokes her. She continues with the accounts.
WINONA: I don’t know what’s gonna happen here, Woodie. I just feel helpless. You just sit under the table and wait for the crumbs to fall off. There’s jobs down there, and you got skills. John says it’s this big thing, it’s real secret but he can get you in.
WOODIE: Don’t let’s fight.
WINONA: Glad I took clerical in high school. In case Joey and I have to go it alone.
He reacts.
Woodie, I’m trying not to nag. I’m trying not to sound like my mom, or feel like there’s something wrong with you cause you flunked the physical, and that oughta make me happy—
WOODIE: So I got bad eyes!
WINONA: I’m sorry...
They embrace.
Today I was watering the geraniums, and I just pulled one out by the roots. I don’t know why.
WOODIE: I hate geraniums. Hey, we got better things to do...
WINONA: You used to kid around a lot. Clear back in high school. You used to make me laugh. I don’t hardly ever hear you sound happy. Everybody’s winning the war, except you.
WOODIE: Joey’s asleep.
WINONA: Lemme go to the bathroom.
She goes out. He picks up a newspaper, glances through it.
WOODIE: We could go to a movie tomorrow. There’s an Abbott and Costello, they’re funny. God, five kids in Truckee robbed a man, beat him up. “Russians invade Czechoslovakia.” Where the hell’s that? Roosevelt, he sounds happy all the time. All they got in this damn paper is Little Orphan Annie. That gives me the creeps. Why don’t they draw’em with eyes?
Seeing something in the paper:
Winona returns.
WINONA: You gotta yell and wake up Joey? ... What?
WOODIE: Three hundred dollars.
WINONA: Three hundred dollars?
WOODIE: Dead or alive.
VOICES: We have solid evidence.
The hideout contained items connected with the accused.
The shot may have been fired from the hideout.
Long hairs were found on branches.
The blood tests from blood on the trail was that of a human being.
We have solid evidence.
Early evening. Dining room. Sally sits at the table with newspaper. Sheriff enters.
TIMMERMAN: Brad nearly ran over me. Is it that hot a date?
SALLY: It’s the Hoyt girl.
TIMMERMAN: Well I guess it is.
SALLY: How was your day?
TIMMERMAN: Same thing. Needle in a haystack. Any beer out there?
SALLY: I think some of it disappeared.
TIMMERMAN: He and I better have a little talk.
SALLY: There’s somebody else you need to have a little talk with, and she’s sitting right here.
You don’t think I saw the paper?
TIMMERMAN: That wasn’t my idea.
SALLY: Ellie called me, I didn’t know anything about it.
TIMMERMAN: I didn’t know they were doing that.
SALLY: Behind your back? It wasn’t even signed.
TIMMERMAN: It was Ben and Sy and some others. They want to move forward, they think this is the way to do it.
SALLY: (reading) “Reward $300 to any person for information that will lead to the apprehension of William Ebaugh Dead or Alive.”
TIMMERMAN: I can read.
SALLY: You are working on this. You have been carefully working on this, and this is taking it out of your hands. Every guy with a gun and a pair of overalls will be out there shooting anything that moves. And you’ll get the blame.
I think there’s a beer. You want it?
No response. She goes out.
TIMMERMAN: Sally, there’s nothing I can—
He gives up, sits. She returns, sets the bottle in front of him.
Sally, I can’t tell these people what to do. These people are not nobodies. They have a lot more say-so in this town than you or me. We’ll try to keep a lid on things.
SALLY: Is that legal? This is 1944.
TIMMERMAN: I’m aware that it’s 1944. Yes, that is bounty hunting. That is legal.
SALLY: What’s this going to mean for you at the next election?
TIMMERMAN: What’s it gonna mean if the Leader or the Union comes out every day saying “Why hasn’t Timmerman caught that guy?” They can be vicious. I don’t think you have your finger on the pulse of this community. There is fear out there. There is terror.
SALLY: People are calling me on the telephone, Carl. Somebody called, said maybe it’s a hunting accident. Somebody said that family did it themselves. Somebody said it’s the Japs.
TIMMERMAN: We can put a stop to that very fast—
SALLY: The ones who support that guy are bad enough, but the ones that call up and say they want him to be lynched and set on fire— Who are these people, Carl?
Brad wants to use the car to take his girl to the Christmas dance.
TIMMERMAN: He can use the pick-up.
SALLY: Did you ever date me in a pick-up?
TIMMERMAN: I’m kinda striking out today.
SALLY: I have to go out to the Auxiliary meeting. I better get supper on.
She picks up the newspaper.
Look through here. Just everyday stuff. Odd Fellows turkey dinner, two inches of rain, Germans Pull Back, Have a Coca-Cola. Then this ad. Dead or Alive.
TIMMERMAN: Sally, I’m sorry, but I can’t be a roadblock here. We been looking for him for three weeks. He is terrorizing this community. I damn well hope somebody else finds him first, because if I find him I’m probably going to have to kill this man.
SALLY: Carl... When they found the little Jamison girl, and she was mutilated, and you were so upset. And Bradley, he was, what, third grade? And he said, “Daddy, will you kill the bad guy?” And you said, “No, Brad, I go out and catch the bad guy. And then a buncha people, ordinary people, all decide if he’s guilty. Cause maybe he’s not. Even daddies make mistakes. But then if he is, they decide what to do.”
She embraces him.
And you said, “What would happen if Tommy said that you left open the chicken house, but you really didn’t, but you got punished? Would that be fair? No, this is America.” I remember that by heart.
Silence. She moves away.
Ok if I warm up the casserole?
TIMMERMAN: This is not the chicken house.
SALLY: (vehemently) You’ll never live it down! If somebody runs out there with a rifle and shoots him dead, then there will have been no trial, no proof except what you say, but it will be a shadow across this county and across you, and you will never live it down!
TIMMERMAN: I think there are a whole lot more people who want it done this way than will have a problem with it. I shoulda shot him when I had the chance, when he pulled a gun on Lester. I woulda lived it down.
SALLY: We are from very different worlds, Carl. We have had very difficult times, and we have gotten through them. I admire you and I love you, and I have never once regretted being your wife. I never have.
Changed tone:
Were you part of it, Carl? Did you help set this up?
TIMMERMAN: No I didn’t. But I haven’t stopped it because there’s not a doubt in my mind.
SALLY: Oh my God.... I’ll warm up the casserole.
TIMMERMAN: Sally, when this is done we’ll take a whole week in San Francisco.
SALLY: Do you realize you just said the worst thing you could possibly say?
Abruptly, she goes out. After a moment, he slams his hand on the table.
And his tongue was hanging out. We laughed like crazy.
And then he started the killing.
Front porch of Upchurch house. Ginny stands, waiting. Ruby comes out the door with two cups of hot lemonade.
RUBY: I remember how much you liked Mom’s lemonade.
GINNY: Hot lemonade. Yes.
RUBY: I added a little something.
GINNY: Well you’re getting pretty frisky—
RUBY: In my old age. Is it too cold out here? I’m sorry, but Dad’s inside, I don’t want to get him started, he’s—
GINNY: It’s fine. I can just stay a minute. I’ve got a job interview, in Sacramento, for the paper.
RUBY: Aren’t you writing for the Leader?
GINNY: I got fired. How’s your mom?
RUBY: She’s fine, according to Dad. Everything’s fine. Mom and Dad, they’re fine. I’m fine. We’re fine.
GINNY: It’s hard to talk.
RUBY: Well it’s fifteen years. You been to college, so you talk different.
RUBY: I saw you in town sometimes, after you came back. I don’t think you saw me. Till you come to the funeral.
GINNY: Funny how kids are so close in high school.
RUBY: And they promise to write.
Water under the bridge.
GINNY: I miss having a best friend.
Ruby reaches out a hand. They clasp hands for a moment.
RUBY: I’m having funny dreams. (indicating cup) Want some more?
GINNY: I have to go. Why don’t you let me kidnap you one of these days? Go shopping?
RUBY: I gotta stay with Mom and Dad.
GINNY: Or maybe the Friday dance, see if there’s any cute guys?
Ruby is shocked.
I’m joking.
RUBY: Only joke I know is, Mr. and Mrs. Octopus, going into Noah’s ark, arm in arm in arm in arm? Jack told me that one.
GINNY: Did you see the notice? For the bounty?
RUBY: Dad saw it.
GINNY: That is not right. What if they kill him? Just go out there, without a trial, just on the Sheriff’s say-so.
RUBY: What do you hear from your husband?
GINNY: What?
RUBY: You showed me his picture.
GINNY: He’s in Italy, in Rome. He’s not on the front now.
RUBY: Well what kind of stuff does he write?
GINNY: (teasing) Maybe I’ll let you read it.
RUBY: Don’t you miss him an awful lot?
GINNY: I manage all right.
RUBY: I get so... Sometimes it really hurts.
GINNY: What does?
RUBY: What’s missing.
GINNY: So you saw about this bounty? Don’t I remember, in high school, when Jamie’s foot got caught in the combine, didn’t Bill Ebaugh— Didn’t you tell me Bill Ebaugh came over and helped with the harvest then?
RUBY: What are you talking about?
GINNY: They’d listen to you. You’re the sister. You’re Jack’s sister.
RUBY: What do you care about all that?
Jamie enters rapidly from the house.
Jamie! You going to town? I need stuff.
JAMIE: I’m gonna see Brian.
RUBY: You were going yesterday. I got a list in the kitchen. Did you take care of the horses?
JAMIE: I’ll do that before I go.
RUBY: Could you do it now?
JAMIE: I’ll do it before I go.
RUBY: When are you going?
GINNY: You’re Jamie?
He looks at her.
Ginny Cavendish. Ginny Thomas, from high school. I was out to the funeral.
RUBY: Sorry, I—
GINNY: He looks just like George. (laughing) I had such a crush on George.
RUBY: Jamie, I gotta put meals on the table, and doing your work and Mom’s work, and Dad’s— You were gonna muck out those stalls.
JAMIE: The muck will be there tomorrow.
RUBY: I’ll get you the list. Talk to him for a minute.
She goes out.
GINNY: Well, so.
GINNY: How’s the farm going? You taking over?
JAMIE: Things are up in the air.
GINNY: It must be hard on you. But it’s good to see how a family digs in and survives.
JAMIE: Pretty good.
GINNY: And your dad?
JAMIE: Dad. Oh yeh. Dad says to me, says, “You don’t need any money for clothes. You can wear Jack’s clothes.”
Ruby returns.
RUBY: Here it is. I need it tonight. You got money, cause you got money from me yesterday.
JAMIE: (exploding) You know what, Ruby? To hell with your goddamn list. You take the pickup, go to town. Leave them alone for five minutes, they won’t die. If they do, fine, they’ll go to heaven with my goddamn brother!
He goes out. Ruby stands silent.
RUBY: He’s leaving. Going to Seattle. Airplane factories up there. He says there’s a future there, cause there’s always gonna be a war. I think he’s jealous of Jack.
GINNY: Jealous of Jack?
RUBY: Jack’s dead.
I’m never gonna get off the farm, Ginny. I’ll never have a man. I’ll never have any babies.
GINNY: No, you wait till the war’s over and they’ll be back here and you’ll be fighting’em off with a pitchfork. You need some makeup. I’m gonna take you shopping, and put you on some makeup.
RUBY: I can’t leave Mom and Dad—
GINNY: You can for a couple of hours. Friday, ok? Friday.
Ginny hugs her. Suddenly:
Ruby, you know they’re gonna go out there and hunt him and kill him like an animal. Dead or alive, and it’s easier dead. Bring him in like a piece of dead meat, hang him up like a pig, and celebrate. It’s not right. I think they’d listen to you.
RUBY: I’ve been having really funny dreams.
Ginny goes out. Light remains tight on Ruby.
VOICES: I dreamed he came in the back door.
I dreamed he killed all my cats.
I dreamed he was Hitler and we were all naked. It was funny.
I dreamed I was wide awake.
RUBY: The dream was, I have to make sandwiches.
People are coming to eat, there’s a funeral so they’re coming to eat, and it’s all my job, hundreds of sandwiches, loaves and loaves of bread, and— This man is in the corner.
Behind her, the shadow of Ebaugh. His image is fluid, elongating, shifting. Raspy, jovial voice:
EBAUGH: Hey, Ruby!
RUBY: You hungry?
EBAUGH: Bill Ebaugh.
RUBY: Who says?
EBAUGH: Friend of your brother.
RUBY: You hungry?
EBAUGH: Who says?
RUBY: He’s big and hairy. Doesn’t look like he’s in grade school. He’s huge.
We’re playing hide and seek. I’m in the girls’ bathroom, and he follows me in. This is for girls.
EBAUGH: That’s fun.
RUBY: I have to make sandwiches.
EBAUGH: Gimme a sandwich.
RUBY: These are for Jack.
EBAUGH: Gimme a liverwurst sandwich.
EBAUGH: Jack’s hungry.
RUBY: Jack’s hungry. Cause he got shot. And that makes a hole. And it all falls out.
EBAUGH: I could help. Trust me? I can run the combine, I can plow, I can dress a deer, I can sing songs, I can make fun of the teacher, I can make a truckload of sandwiches.
RUBY: I want babies.
EBAUGH: I just want a sandwich.
He laughs. Ruby joins in.
RUBY: My brother’s here.
EBAUGH: Oh hi Jack, how you doing?
RUBY: Jack asked could he have a sandwich. I said they’re all for Bill.
She laughs. The dream dissolves. She wakes, confused.
VOICES: I ‘member, he come in the barber shop once, with his long hair, barber said, Bill, what you doin’ here? And he picks up some hair off the floor, says, I need some more hair, and walks out.
I dreamed they shot him.
I dreamed they shot him.
I dreamed they shot him and he looked right at me.
I dreamed birds were singing when they shot him.
The birds were funny colors.
In the cabin. Winona is scrubbing the floor with a scrub brush. Woodie enters with his rifle, stands leaning against the door frame.
WINONA: My God, Woodie, this is filthy. The raccoons got in, you said it was shut up tight, but the kitchen, the floors are just—
She looks up at him, freezes.
What? What happened? Are you hurt?
WOODIE: I’m ok.
WINONA: That’s blood.
WOODIE: I shot him.
She goes to him, starts checking for a wound.
WINONA: Ebaugh?
WOODIE: We gotta get the sheriff.
WINONA: Is he dead?
WOODIE: Maybe.
WINONA: Don’t you know?
WOODIE: He looks dead.
WINONA: What happened?
WOODIE: Where’s Joey?
WINONA: Out in the yard. What happened?
WOODIE: I said I was going out there.
WINONA: What happened, Woodie?
WOODIE: I snuck up. Waited. He come out. I shot him.
WINONA: You just shot him?
WOODIE: No. I waited. Then I shot him.
WINONA: What’s all this blood?
WOODIE: I dunno.
She grabs a towel, starts wiping him.
WINONA: What did he do?
WOODIE: He fell down dead.
WINONA: Before you shot him.
WOODIE: Nothing.
WINONA: He didn’t go for his gun?
WOODIE: Winona, I’m kinda sick.
WINONA: Did he go for his gun?
WOODIE: I dunno.
WINONA: Woodie, think. He musta gone for his gun. Didn’t you say anything?
WINONA: Like, surrender?
WOODIE: I knew it was him.
WINONA: You must have said surrender.
WINONA: What did you say?
WOODIE: Surrender.
WINONA: “Bill Ebaugh, surrender.” I think you have to say surrender.
WOODIE: He started into the cabin.
WINONA: Then you shot him.
WINONA: Cause he coulda gone in there and got his gun and you were a sitting duck. Is that what it was?
WOODIE: Couple hours and— So he come out and I just— I got him in my sights, and he was pumping water, he was kinda playing in the water...
WINONA: Woodie. Honey. You’re not thinking. He come out. You yelled out to him to surrender. He ran for the door. You thought he had a gun. You shot him in self-defense. Is that what happened?
WOODIE: He was pumping water, and he was playing in the water. Like a little kid. Playing in the water.
WINONA: Woodie, is that what happened? Tell me, dammit!
WOODIE: I thought he had a gun.
Long silence.
WINONA: Maybe we should leave him there. We could just leave him there. We don’t have to have the money. Let’s just leave him there. Nobody needs to know it was you.
WOODIE: I didn’t do anything wrong.
WINONA: Lemme clean off the rifle. Before Joey comes in. No, you didn’t do nothing wrong. You did it for me, cause I was scared. But nobody needs to know.
WOODIE: He’s out on the porch.
WINONA: Woodie, you’re not gonna tell it right, you’re gonna say something wrong, cause even policemen get in trouble if they just go and shoot somebody—
WOODIE: I didn’t see any blood.
WINONA: Woodie, don’t let’s go to the sheriff.
WOODIE: Funny it’s hard to remember.
WINONA: What did you say?
WOODIE: I said, “Bill Ebaugh, surrender.” But he didn’t.
WINONA: Then he went for the door and you shot him.
WINONA: Woodie, you gotta tell it right. We’ll go up to Nine Mile House and telephone. I’ll get Joey.
WOODIE: He just fell. I waited. He laid there on the porch. I yelled at him. He didn’t move. I come up, turned him over, I think. Thought well he looks dead. Like a deer. I thought I’d feel something. But I didn’t. Just felt like killing a deer.
WINONA: You just tell’em the facts, and make sure they understand that you did everything to not have to shoot him, but you had to shoot him. In self-defense.
She embraces him. Changed tone:
And there’s nothing to be scared of. Three hundred dollars. We can use that. Joey needs a coat for winter.
WOODIE: Don’t tell Joey.
WINONA: You’re a hero, Woodie. It’s over and done with. We’re not afraid any more.
Act Two
Music. Fragments of voices. Timmerman lies in the center, with a pillow, asleep.
SALLY: (distant) Carl? Are you dreaming?
EBAUGH: Hey Carl!
Ebaugh shadow. Timmerman, motionless.
TIMMERMAN: I don’t dream. I never dream.
EBAUGH: Hey Carl!
TIMMERMAN: Dinner ready?
EBAUGH: What’s your boy’s name, Carl?
EBAUGH: What’s your honey’s name?
EBAUGH: What’s your name, Carl?
The shadow holds a rifle..
You the sheriff? You look like the sheriff. Got him in the cross-hairs.
Pick you off any time I want. But you’re God’s creature. You’re beautiful.
You shoot a man, that’s God flowing out of him. Bright red puddle.
Say bye-bye.
Ebaugh strikes with the stock. Timmerman reacts, struck in the mouth.
Carl, got problems with your teeth? Teeth falling out, that means something.
TIMMERMAN: (inaudibly) You sonofabitch...
SALLY: (distant) Carl?
EBAUGH: Put your thumb in your mouth.
No response.
Put your thumb in your mouth. Suck your thumb.
Shaking violently, Timmerman does.
EBAUGH: Carl, I killed the Tyacks, killed the Davies, killed the Penroses, killed the Marshes! You shoulda been there, Carl, clean up the mess.
TIMMERMAN: (screaming, without a voice) You’re dead! You’re dead!
EBAUGH: I’m not dead, Carl. I believe in Jesus Christ. Don’t you? Eternal life.
He laughs.
TIMMERMAN: (crying) What’s funny?
EBAUGH: Long shadow in the morning
Long shadow when it’s bright
Long shadow in the evening and
Long shadow at night.
VOICES: I like Jack Benny. He’s a character.
Fibber McGee and Molly.
A little baby drowned in Wolf Creek. Weren’t they watching?
Alice Fritter enlisted in the Waves. That’s Mrs. Doolittle’s niece.
The Assembly of God is doing a revival on the 24th.
I don’t want to see another war movie. I get enough of that.
Afternoon. Fred Upchurch sits in the farm house, reading a newspaper. Ruby appears.
FRED: News is... We’re beating the Germans. Japs are something else. Jack, he had a hard time there. Didja see Little Orphan Annie? They took away her dog. Sandy the dog. This old rich bitch that’s sposed to be taking care of her, she says, “You forget about that old dog!”
RUBY: Shut up!
She recovers.
I’m sorry, Dad. I had a fight with Ginny.
FRED: Ginny?
RUBY: My friend Ginny. You know her.
FRED: Who?
RUBY: Ginny! My God what’s the matter with you...
You read it, didn’t you? They shot Bill Ebaugh. We were in town, we were shopping, and old Mrs. Hendriks said, well they got him. I said who. She said Wild Bill. I said thank God.
FRED: Thank God.
RUBY: I looked at Ginny, she was white as a sheet. She started screaming at me. Right on the street, screaming, saying he’s innocent. Why does she care about that guy? What does she care about him? Her husband’s overseas. She screamed at me.
I bought a sweater. Blue sweater.
FRED: This damn little two-bit paper, they only got three cartoons. We oughta get the Sacramento paper, they got a whole page of funnies.
RUBY: God damn you, stop talking crazy!
She grabs the newspaper, throws it down.
FRED: I was making conversation.
RUBY: When Jack was killed, it was on page two. Even in this little one-horse town he didn’t rate page one. But this guy gets shot, the guy that shot him, it’s all over the front. People yelling he didn’t do it. The guy that killed Jack didn’t kill Jack, so Jack’s alive and he can help me feed the hogs and milk the cows and take care of Mom.
FRED: Who did they shoot?
RUBY: They shot Bill Ebaugh.
FRED: Well that’s done with.
He picks up the paper.
Where’s your mother?
RUBY: In Jack’s room. Where do you think? She don’t hardly come out.
FRED: She’s a strong woman.
RUBY: She messes on herself.
FRED: She has to get a grip.
RUBY: What if I just took off? Just took off one day? Just let George and Jamie worry about taking care of you. Why shouldn’t I have some kind of life before I get old and gray? Maybe I just will.
FRED: We don’t need taking care of.
RUBY: I don’t want my friend screaming at me, and you talking crazy, and Jamie wanting to go out and kill anybody that talks about it, and people staring at us, and clean off shit from my mother—
Jamie says he’s going to Seattle, work in the bomber plant. What’s gonna happen to the farm? He says any day. He says you just look at him. That’s why he’s going.
Jamie appears. He is in an ill-fitting suit. Very restrained:
JAMIE: I’m just going to Sacramento, is all. I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.
RUBY: Whatta you all dressed up for?
JAMIE: Ruby... I’m sorry that you’re feeling so... I’m sorry...
He approaches her, puts his hand out to touch her arm. Goes out.
RUBY: Dad, did Jamie do it? Did he shoot Jack?
FRED: When?
No. No, they got the guy.
RUBY: What if they didn’t? What if Ginny’s right? Then the killer’s running free and nobody cares.
FRED: That guy did it. He had to have done it. Somebody did it. Might as well be him. He’s dead.
RUBY: Well then it’s done with. I got work.
She goes out abruptly.
VOICES: I dreamed the Germans won.
I dreamed the Japs were coming up the lane.
I was dreaming...
I had this dream...
God, crazy dreams...
Three men, distant.
BRADY: Call him in.
Woodie appears downstage, facing us,
Have a seat. Mr. Purvis. I’m Al Brady, this is Mr. Oleson, Mr. Evans. Coroner’s jury. Hand on the Bible. Promise to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God.
He nods.
So you just tell us everything you think is relevant.
WOODIE: Well Winona and I got a place not far from the Gladfelter cabin—
BRADY: Did you know he was there?
WOODIE: We saw smoke, he had a stovepipe that instead of going through the roof went out the window. We saw the leaves moving.
BRADY: Who lives in that house?
WOODIE: Hunters use it sometimes. I thought I better find out. I took my rifle early morning, went out there, found a spot. Just before noon he come out. So he came out on the porch to pump water. Got some wood, took it in. Then came out, pumped some more water. Kinda playing in the water, like a little kid.
EVANS: He didn’t have a gun at that point?
WOODIE: Not at that point.
EVANS: At what point did he have a gun?
BRADY: Go on.
WOODIE: So when I was sure it was him I called out. He turned, looked at me.
BRADY: And what did you say at that point, Mr. Purvis?
WOODIE: I told him, I said, “Give up, you’re under arrest.” Then he made a dash for the front door. I thought, boy, he’s going for a gun.
EVANS: Did you call out his name or anything?
WOODIE: That’s what I said. I said, “Bill Ebaugh, give up, you’re under arrest.” I definitely said his name. Bill.
EVANS: So you didn’t call him when he was in the cabin, but then you called out and popped him.
WOODIE: Well this is the porch, the door’s here, so he was running for the front door like he was going to get his gun, and I thought I better shoot him before he got his gun, so I had to shoot him in self-defense.
EVANS: How far was he from the front door?
WOODIE: Well right where he fell. I guess the Sheriff would know.
EVANS: I’m just trying to get a sense of what’s going through your mind when you were outside the house and thinking what were you gonna do?
WOODIE: Well I thought he might be dangerous.
BRADY: So when he moved, you figured it was to get a weapon.
WOODIE: He dropped like a sack of potatoes. One shot. Was it just one shot?
OLESON: Entered below the rib cage, one inch to the right, tore through the liver, cut the aorta and the 12th vertebrae.
BRADY: Then what?
Long silence.
EVANS: Mr. Purvis?
WOODIE: I just waited. He acted dead. I called “Bill.” I didn’t know him but I called him Bill. I turned him over kinda. His eyes were open. I went in, looked around. Then I went and told Winona, went up to Nine Mile House but it was closed, went to the neighbors, telephoned the Sheriff.
EVANS: Did you find a gun inside the cabin?
WOODIE: There musta been one. Was there?
BRADY: So your motive was that this cabin was suspiciously occupied. It wasn’t as if you were out there hunting for the bounty, but you were concerned that this cabin was close to yours and he might be in it. And you gave him warning and he resisted arrest, and so to preserve your own safety you shot him. Is that fair to say?
WOODIE: Right. You got it.
BRADY: Well I think that covers it. Any questions?
They rise.
Mr. Purvis, thank you for your cooperation. I’d say it’s over and done with.
He rises, puts on his hat and coat, joyously relieved.
VOICES: I dreamed about Bill Ebaugh—
I dreamed about Bill Ebaugh—
I had a dream about Bill Ebaugh—
I keep dreaming about Bill Ebaugh—
I think I dreamed about Ebaugh but I can’t remember it—
But I wasn’t quite sure—
I don’t remember what happened—
Woodie moves through the streets. Realistic shadows in groups, minimal movement, cross-fading. He reacts to them as he walks.
FIRST GUY: Hey, the hero!
SECOND: Saw your picture! Front page!
WOMAN: I want to thank you, Woodie. I live on the edge of the woods, and my little girl plays out there, and I feel safe now. Everybody is just so grateful.
WOODIE: Great.
EVANS: Don’t worry, Woodie, the money’s on its way.
SECOND: Gotta settle the legal stuff.
EVANS: Need you in the Pacific. Kill a few Japs.
WOODIE: I got bad eyes.
SECOND: Good enough to do this job!
LUCILLE: Remember me? Lucille. Winona’s friend? From high school. Tell Winona I said hi. My husband was talking about you, he says you’re a hero. He’s gone on Thursday nights.
FIRST: One bullet. Good shooting.
SECOND: Big target. Gorilla season!
Woodie halts. Ebaugh’s shadow, fluid.
WOODIE: I dreamed I—
EBAUGH: Hey Woodie.
WOODIE: Woodie Purvis.
EBAUGH: “Thank you for your cooperation.”
Laughing. Woodie joins in.
WOODIE: I ain’t got paid yet.
EBAUGH: Well there’s a war on.
WOODIE: I got bad eyes.
EBAUGH: “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” You’re a hero, Bill.
WOODIE: My name’s not Bill.
EBAUGH: Pow. Oh, you got me!
Ebaugh clowns a death. Woodie laughs. Shadow dissolves. Woodie moves through streets. Realistic shadows.
WOODIE: Hi Mrs. Phillips. How’s Ed?
MS. PHILLIPS: He’s all right.
WOODIE: Tell him hi.
MS. PHILLIPS: You tell him yourself!
FIRST: What you need?
WOODIE: Rat traps. Wife don’t like rats.
FIRST: You got the big one.
SECOND: Shake hands, buddy. (extending a hand) Pow!
WOMAN: You’re Joey’s dad. You talk to your son. My little girl, he knocked her down. He’s shooting people, and he knocked her down because she wouldn’t play dead.
Ebaugh’s shadow, fluid. Woodie falls into the dream.
EBAUGH: You know, Woodie...
Laughing. Woodie joins in, as if he’s an old buddy of his hero.
WOODIE: I dunno...
EBAUGH: I didn’t kill cattle. Why would I kill cattle?
WOODIE: Hey Bill, why would you grow long hair?
EBAUGH: You got a point there! That’s a good one! That’s funny!
WOODIE: Well what’s beef on the black market?
EBAUGH: Black market, that’s organized. You gotta be organized. I’m not organized.
Long laugh. Woodie joins in.
Woodie. Take care a your honeybunch. I make’em scream.
WOODIE: Winona—
EBAUGH: She got big nipples. Chew’em like gumdrops.
WOODIE: What’s that like? Where you’re with lots of women?
EBAUGH: Like playing in water. Splish splash.
Ebaugh starts singing “Endearing Young Charms,” in a sweet but gravelly tenor voice.
WOODIE: You’re washing your hands. I let you wash your hands. Like you’re playing in water. There’s a war on and you’re playing in water.
EBAUGH: You got it. One shot.
Ebaugh mimes a shot and slow dying. Shadow disappears. Woodie, confused. He starts moving through the streets.
VOICES: It’s not a dream. I don’t dream. I never dream.
They brought him in tied on a pole, like a deer.
It wasn’t so much like a dream, it was—
I pulled out some hair.
I touched his big toe.
I don’t dream any more.
Bar, distant. The bartender Maggie, a man hunched over the bar (O’Donnell), a man in an Army uniform (Chris), and an older couple. Woodie is downstage, facing us. They relate to him as if he’s just entered.
MAGGIE: How you doing? Woodie, right?
MAGGIE: You usta come in a lot.
WOODIE: Well the little boy’s a handful now. He’s six.
MAGGIE: Well they grow up. Mine’s twenty-one. North Africa.
WOODIE: Bourbon straight up.
STURGIS: Give’im good stuff, Maggie. He’s our hero.
STURGIS: See the headlines? He shot Wild Bill.
CHRIS: Hey, nice goin! I’m Chris.
WOODIE: Hi Chris. Woodie.
STURGIS: People feeling a lot of relief. Janet was scared to death.
MS. STURGIS: Sure I was scared. I seen him in town. He was a sight. All that hair.
CHRIS: He was a real nut. We were up fishing once, we saw him across the river, bare naked. He started singing, I dunno, “Toot Toot Tootsie.” We threw some rocks and ran off.
STURGIS: Once he was out there crossing the street. Crossing Broad Street, stood out in the middle of the street till a car come up and stopped, stops the car, then he waves. Thinks it’s a joke.
MS. STURGIS: It’s not funny! Woman at church, Edna, she saw him watching the children. Watching the little girls. Just watchin’em.
STURGIS: Somebody shoulda got him long ago. You knew him, didn’t you, Maggie? He usta come in here?
MAGGIE: Yeh I knew him. We had a falling out.
CHRIS: Well hey, whatcha doing with the reward?
WOODIE: Pay some bills. When they give it to me. They said they had to investigate.
MS. STURGIS: People always try to make a stink.
STURGIS: There are people who believe a community has no right to defend itself. It’s like Hitler. We shoulda killed him right off. Same with Stalin. I voted for Roosevelt but Dewey made a good point: it’s the Communists we got to worry about. Get Hitler, we better keep right on going.
CHRIS: They had him down at the funeral home, there’s a mob down there. Mom with her little girl, mom jerks her back, “Don’t touch him, you’ll get cooties!”
MS. STURGIS: Learn one thing from the war, some people just aren’t human.
A figure turns around from the bar.
O’DONNELL: (to Woodie) I got a question. Did Bill Ebaugh ever harm you?
Everyone looks at him.
I’m just curious.
STURGIS: He harmed all of us.
O’DONNELL: I’m asking our hero.
WOODIE: I don’t think that’s an appropriate question.
O’DONNELL: Well but you shot him dead, Woodie.
MAGGIE: (to O’Donnell) Lay off, Tom.
O’DONNELL: I just wonder what goes on in somebody’s mind when they lay watching a man and then decide to shoot him. Out of season, in fact.
STURGIS: The man was going for a weapon. The man was a dangerous person.
O’DONNELL: I said I’m talking to him.
CHRIS: Hey Buddie, you’re gonna be talking to me.
O’DONNELL: Thomas O’Donnell. Nice to meetcha.
MAGGIE: Tom, you’re done drinking. Go have a good rest.
WOODIE: He was a wanted man.
MS. STURGIS: He was a wanted man.
O’DONNELL: We all agree that he was a wanted man.
MAGGIE: The subject is closed.
Everyone settles.
He used to be different. He wore shoes to town. He was good for a laugh. Real sweet. Stand there laughing. Right there.
MS. STURGIS: Well he shouldn’t have gone off and killed a man.
O’DONNELL: We don’t know Bill Ebaugh killed a man. Only person we’re sure killed a man is Woodie here.
Chris moves toward him.
CHRIS: Buddie, let’s go outside.
O’DONNELL: Lay off, General.
CHRIS: That’s it, cocksucker!
STURGIS: There are ladies present!
Chris grabs O’Donnell. Bartender intervenes, knees Chris. He falls.
MAGGIE: (to O’Donnell) You! Out!
O’Donnell waves to everyone, leaves.
What’s done is done. We live with what’s done. Whatever causes the least grief. Sorry, Chris, just save it for the Japs, honey. You’re going back in a month, ain’tcha? Whatta you drinking? On the house.
She helps him onto the stool.
Made me remember stuff. I forgot what he was like in those days.
WOODIE: I’d like to buy everybody a drink. I appreciate the support.
They look at him.
It’s been kinda hard. Especially on my wife. People saying stuff. I didn’t do it for the reward, I did it for everybody. For everything we believe in.
Silence. Sturgis and Mrs. Sturgis go off, Chris leaves. Maggie looks at Woodie, shrugs.
Ebaugh’s shadow, fluid. Woodie, angry.
EBAUGH: Well I liked Jack. Then he got shot. Japs shot him. Dunno why. They don’t need a reason.
WOODIE: I got bad eyes.
EBAUGH: Hey Bill, don’t you—?
WOODIE: My name’s not Bill.
EBAUGH: Just sometimes, you fall in love, with everything?
Ever read Walt Whitman? Wanna take off your clothes, and run through the woods, and yowl?
If there wasn’t human beings. I’d be a duck, a big red-headed duck, quack quack, and float in the lake, and praise the Lord, and you fly. And you fly. And you fly.
WOODIE: Stop it...
EBAUGH: Sometimes, with a woman, you don’t even know her name, but you’re inside one another. Who’s doin’ it to who? You can’t tell.
Stream flows into the river. Which is the stream and which is the river?
Ever read Walt Whitman?
WOODIE: In high school, maybe...
EBAUGH: It’s beautiful. Being alive. Loving the ladies. Flying.
Woodie flails to dispel the dream. Ebaugh’s hands are a bird in flight.
The bird flutters down dead.
VOICES: I was dreaming...
I keep on dreaming...
I dreamed we invented a bomb so big it was all across the heavens, and we all were gonna die...
God, crazy dreams...
Early afternoon. Sheriff’s office. Timmerman and Evans, a businessman. Lester hands Timmerman a report.
LESTER: Carl, here’s the report on O’Donnell. That’s what I’m telling the D.A.
TIMMERMAN: How’s your back?
LESTER: It’ll do.
EVANS: This was the troublemaker?
TIMMERMAN: He’s circulating this petition for the D.A. to investigate the shooting. He thinks Wild Bill was a sweetie.
LESTER: I ask him what he’s doing, and he tackles me.
TIMMERMAN: We got him up on assault. We got witnesses. He’s not a popular guy.
Lester goes out. Evans sits.
So what can we do for you, Ben?
EVANS: How about finishing up this case?
TIMMERMAN: Good idea. What else?
EVANS: I’m not joking, Carl.
TIMMERMAN: Ben, Roosevelt’s got sixteen million men and he can’t finish off one little nut with a mustache.
EVANS: Carl, did you see the article in the San Francisco Chronicle?
TIMMERMAN: I heard about it.
EVANS: We need to have this over and done with. It’s a blight on the county.
TIMMERMAN: The man is dead. That means paperwork.
EVANS: I’m talking about the whole climate here.
TIMMERMAN: I don’t control the weather, Ben. We’ve compiled the evidence, the Coroner said the Purvis guy is clear— Why don’t you guys pay him the reward? He’s here every day saying “I need the money.”
EVANS: He’ll get his money as soon as—
Lester enters.
LESTER: The Purvis guy wants to see you. Asking for his money.
TIMMERMAN: Tell him I don’t know anything more.
Lester goes out.
EVANS: Carl, the problem with that money— If the D.A. decides to investigate the shooting of William Ebaugh, then what liability do we incur for having paid him to do it?
TIMMERMAN: I would’ve thought you’d thought of that.  
EVANS: There’s not gonna be any Nevada City. 1941 was the banner year for gold production at Empire and North Star—
EVANS: And in 1942 Mr. Roosevelt closed the mines. “A non-essential industry.”
TIMMERMAN: I know, I know—
EVANS: I’m in the real estate business—
TIMMERMAN: Ben, I’m sorry, but I’m not the President—
EVANS: I’m in the real estate business! I depend on people wanting to live here, and the San Francisco Chronicle says we’re a bunch of vigilantes because we said it was self-defense but there was no weapon found. Bill Ebaugh had no weapon. Why haven’t you found that weapon?
TIMMERMAN: We’ve been over that cabin time and again.
EVANS: They say we gunned down this innocent guy when he didn’t even have a weapon in the cabin.
Lester enters.
TIMMERMAN: This is private, Lester.
LESTER: You remember we gotta go to Sacramento?
TIMMERMAN: Damn. I’ll be right there.
EVANS: Lester, what’s it like to work for a guy that votes for Roosevelt?
LESTER: You can’t blame a man for being ignorant.
TIMMERMAN: Lester went to college a year and majored in Ignorant.
LESTER: “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” Thomas Gray.
TIMMERMAN: Lester reads poetry.
Lester goes out.
EVANS: Carl, we would like you to go out to that cabin tomorrow and search it.
TIMMERMAN: We have searched it.
EVANS: Look under the floorboards, in the back room maybe, and you might find that rifle. And that’d take a lot of the heat off.
TIMMERMAN: Find a rifle.
EVANS: And report to the press you found the rifle. We can’t have it look like we put up a bounty for an unarmed man to be killed.
TIMMERMAN: Isn’t that what you did?
EVANS: Carl, I need to know if you’re on the team.
TIMMERMAN: We have been out there, we’ve looked everywhere.
EVANS: Have you looked under the floorboards, Carl?
TIMMERMAN: I believe we have.
EVANS: Recently?
TIMMERMAN: I’m not quite hearing what you’re saying, Ben.
EVANS: You don’t have to. Trust me.
TIMMERMAN: I’m going to do my job. That’s all I can promise.
EVANS: That’s all I’m asking. (shaking hands) Hey, bunch of us are talking about doing a Christmas parade. Get people’s minds off this Wild Bill thing.
Lester enters.
Lester, you want to be in the Christmas parade? Santa Claus, maybe. Carry your shotgun.
TIMMERMAN: (to Lester) I gotta stop by the house before we go. Just take a minute. Sally’s got pumpkin pie.
LESTER: I can put up with that.
EVANS: Well I’ll be off then, Carl. We want everybody to know this is a wonderful place to live, great place to move to. This whole thing’s gonna be over, the war’s gonna be over. It’s a whole new world.
He goes out.
LESTER: He’s wound up.
TIMMERMAN: You take care of Purvis?
LESTER: He’s pretty pathetic. “I didn’t do it for the money.” You’re the only other dope that’d say something like that. What, are you, playing games with the big boys on Broad Street?
TIMMERMAN: (angry) I don’t play games with anybody, Lester. I do my job.
LESTER: Carl, how did I hurt my back?
TIMMERMAN: You apprehended Mr. O’Donnell.
LESTER: I beat the shit out of that sonofabitch. With the help of my two witnesses. If you didn’t notice his condition, then no wonder you haven’t found Bill Ebaugh’s rifle.
TIMMERMAN: I’m not hearing this, Lester.
LESTER: (laughing) It’s a whole new world, Carl. Yeh, it’s a whole new world.
He goes out, followed by Timmerman.
Music theme. Cabin, afternoon. Winona is folding laundry. Woodie enters. He puts a wad of bills on the table.
WINONA: How much is it?
WOODIE: Three hundred. They gave it to me.
WINONA: That’s a lot of money, Woodie. We can have cherry pie. You want cherry pie, honey, we’ll have cherry pie. (embracing him) We’re gonna have cherry pie!
WOODIE: I guess. Where’s Joey?
WINONA: Out playing. I’ll get some supper and we can talk.
WOODIE: Talk about what?
WINONA: Well, member we talked about getting out of here? New Mexico? We’re not stuck here now.
WOODIE: This is where I’m from.
WINONA: We’re not from here, we’re not from anywhere. Nobody’s from anywhere. We’ll find someplace we can be from. That’s what this country’s all about. Cause John, he’s making two hundred a week. He thinks it’s some new weapons for when we’re gonna fight the Russians. It’s not gonna stop after the war, honey, if we just get on the bandwagon. We just go out the door and down the road.
WOODIE: They think I murdered the guy.
WINONA: Woodie, they think you’re a hero. You know the truth.
WOODIE: I know the truth.
She hugs him.
WINONA: You’re not gonna get any thanks here. From the sheriff or anybody. They don’t think people like us exist.
WOODIE: I don’t want Joey to hear all that stuff.
WINONA: Joey’s proud of his dad. He goes around pretending he’s you.
WOODIE: Ok, you wanna go to New Mexico, we’ll go.
WINONA: This is some big government job, honey. Government’s got all kinds of money. We got a future. That’s what money does, it gives you a future. It’s freedom. That’s what the war’s all about, isn’t it? Freedom? So we got our little piece of it.
WOODIE: Three hundred dollars.
WINONA: Three hundred dollars.
They embrace.
WOODIE: Funny thing. When I was a kid I’d pump the pump and let it run over my hands. Like it wasn’t water, it was diamonds, and if you could make it stick together, we’d be rich. We’d all be rich. But I knew it was water. I knew we weren’t rich.
She puts the money into his hands.
Music change. Afternoon. Timmerman’s dining room. Women sit drinking tea.
SALLY: More tea, Ginny? Rose?
RUBY: Ruby.
SALLY: Ruby, sorry.
RUBY: That’s really good tea, Mrs. Timmerman.
GINNY: You’ll have to tell me where you get it.
SALLY: There’s a wonderful shop in San Francisco. Although it’s been so long since we’ve been there.
RUBY: I didn’t know if it was right to just drop in. But Sheriff Timmerman was so good to come out and talk after the tragedy. And Ginny here, we’ve known each other since high school—
SALLY: It’s good to have company. Carl and the boys are here and gone, so I just feel like one old shoe. Sit reading old New Yorkers, or doing this volunteer stuff—
RUBY: Well we appreciated your coming to the funeral when you didn’t even know Jack.
SALLY: It was a beautiful ceremony. At least justice has been done.
RUBY: Maybe so.
GINNY: Did the Sheriff ever have any doubts about who killed Jack?
SALLY: No. No. He had trouble with that man going way back. Once he drew a gun on Carl, and Carl could have killed him right then. He said he knew something like this was gonna happen, he just knew it.
GINNY: It must be hard for you to hear people criticizing your husband.
SALLY: This is driving me crazy. Carl has a very strong sense of right and wrong. He won’t let me buy meat on the black market. Everybody does it, but no, he’s the sheriff, so we make do. His one concern is that justice is done. And give you the satisfaction that your brother Jack can rest in peace.
RUBY: I don’t care if he rests in peace! I want to rest in peace!
I’m sorry, Mrs. Timmerman, it’s been hard.
SALLY: Call me Sally.
RUBY: Billy Ebaugh was one class behind me in school. Ginny knew him. She said there wasn’t any way he could have done that. Isn’t that what you said? That boy went out there and just shot him. They haven’t found a gun. If he’d killed somebody, wouldn’t he have his gun? What if the killer’s still out there? They talk about it’s for the sake of the victims, but nobody asked the victims. (more distraught) People call up and congratulate us: “You must feel better now.” “Jack must be happy in heaven now that somebody’s dead.” Yes sir, that brightens my day! Somebody’s dead, so I’m happy as a clam!
SALLY: I don’t speak for my husband or mix in his business. I have my ideas and he has his. If that’s what you’re here for, I’m sorry.
GINNY: Ruby was feeling that if the District Attorney would investigate, that might settle things once and for all. It might be better for the Sheriff, because otherwise there’s always going to be a shadow.
SALLY: Would you like more tea?
GINNY: Mrs. Timmerman, I’m trying to say that—
RUBY: We better go.
Ruby and Ginny hurriedly prepare to go. Timmerman appears, followed by Lester.
SALLY: What are you doing home?
TIMMERMAN: Came by to pick up stuff. Going to Sacramento.
SALLY: These ladies just dropped in to visit. This is Rose Upchurch, you remember—
RUBY: Ruby.
SALLY: Ruby.
TIMMERMAN: (to Ginny) I know you, don’t I?
GINNY: Yes as a matter of fact you do. I was writing for the Leader and I was in your office, and two days later I was fired for asking questions that Sheriff Timmerman didn’t like.
SALLY: Carl, what’s the matter with you?
TIMMERMAN: This is the woman that’s writing in the Sacramento Bee, and attacking me and Nevada County and everybody that’s not in love with that degenerate. You get the hell out of my house.
LESTER: Carl, we gotta get going—
GINNY: Ruby is a friend of mine, she wanted to—
RUBY: I can talk for myself! I come here cause I can’t stand this thing going on and on and on—
GINNY: He never did it! He never could have done that!
TIMMERMAN: He did it and he’s dead and thank God. Ruby, you have to believe that—
RUBY: Don’t talk to me like a little girl! “It’s ok, little girl.” Nobody ever proved anything. They never proved that guy did it—
TIMMERMAN: Ruby, I do not have one doubt in my mind but that justice has been done, and that your brother can rest in peace—
SALLY: Carl—
SALLY: Carl, will you just—
GINNY: You missed Bill Ebaugh’s funeral. There were lots of flowers. And women. That was noted, rather luridly, in the paper. I have to admit that I was there, among the disreputables. I guess we believed, stupidly, in the worth of a human being. I said that he couldn’t have done it. I don’t know that. I never saw the demons lurking there. Or a degenerate. Your wife says that you know right from wrong. What god-like knowledge you possess. Yes in fact I was here under false pretenses. I tagged along to find an angle. I didn’t tell Ruby. I was going to write a story. But I won’t. Because it doesn’t have an end.
TIMMERMAN: Get out of my house.
RUBY: My cousin in Denver saw it in the papers.
Ginny and Ruby go out.
SALLY: Carl—
TIMMERMAN: (exploding) What the hell are you thinking! Let them in here! You are stupid. You’re stupid. You think it’s some world where there’s not a Hitler and not the Japs and it’s all Sunday School? It’s my job to do what needs to be done! There are evil people out there and my only regret is that I have never killed a single one of all the animals in this world who need to be killed!
Sally has never seen this violence in him. He’s exhausted; she, deeply shaken.
I had a really bad dream.
SALLY: I’ve got laundry to do.
She rushes out.
LESTER: Carl, sorry but we gotta get a move on.
TIMMERMAN: Is Nevada County better off— Ask any ten people, we’re better off without him than with him. There’s bad apples, and when you get rid of’em you got a barrel of good apples.
LESTER: Fill a barrel with apples, give it a few days, then check the bottom of the barrel.
TIMMERMAN: I don’t know any more, Lester. I don’t know who killed who.
LESTER: There’s a phrase, Carl. “The truth shall set us free.” That’s ok, that’s patriotic. I prefer another phrase. “Dead and buried.”
Ginny, weeping, Ruby embracing her.
VOICES: “Funeral services for the late William Ebaugh were conducted Friday afternoon in the chapel of the Hooper-Weaver Mortuary.
“A large gathering of women and some men of the twin cities and environs.
“Numerous beautiful floral offerings were sent to the funeral parlor.
“His mother, said to reside in San Francisco, did not appear.
“A procession made their way to the Pine Grove Cemetery. There the late William Ebaugh was laid to rest.”
Ruby departs. Shadow of Ebaugh.
EBAUGH: Hey Ginny.
I’m gonna not be seeing you, Ginny. Not gonna be able.
Too bad.
I better cut off my beard, cause I don’t remember what I look like.
I might be somebody I don’t even know.
Cut off the beard, it’s not me under there.
Who is it then? Who is that guy?
We better find out.
He laughs.
Bye bye, Ginny.
Morning. Sheriff’s office. Lester sorts a stack of folders. Timmerman enters. Sally follows, stands by the doorway.
TIMMERMAN: Just be a couple minutes. Lester, I’m off. Call the hotel if there’s anything
LESTER: Have fun in San Francisco.
SALLY: He’ll have fun if I have to kill him. What are you taking?
TIMMERMAN: We’re going to San Francisco, which is what you wanted to do. I have to take a couple of things. I’m still the sheriff.
LESTER: I forgot something.
He goes out.
TIMMERMAN: Don’t let’s argue in front of Lester.
SALLY: I asked you a question.
TIMMERMAN: You’ve held onto this thing for two weeks. How many times do I need to apologize? I’m sorry I yelled at you, Sally. What’s done is done. It can’t be undone.
SALLY: Carl, I am trying to get used to a world that’s different than what I thought it was. What is it, Carl? The war? Is it just getting older? Is that just the way it’s gonna be? If we got rid of the fear, then why am I so afraid?
TIMMERMAN: We’re going to San Francisco and have fun.
He continues gathering material on his desk.
SALLY: Carl, listen to me!
Lester appears.
LESTER: Carl, the guy’s out here.
Woodie appears, followed by Winona.
No, the Sheriff’s busy right now.
WOODIE: Sheriff, I just wanted— ‘Member me? Woodie Purvis? I wanted to—
TIMMERMAN: We’re headed out the door.
WOODIE: This is my wife Winona. We just wanted to say thanks.
TIMMERMAN: Thanks for what?
WOODIE: Just I got the money and all.
TIMMERMAN: That reward was not offered by the sheriff’s office. We’re not in the business of paying people to do our jobs.
WINONA: Woodie, we need to go.
WOODIE: I was trying to help.
TIMMERMAN: I don’t think we’re needing any more help, Mr. Purvis. You have your money. Let’s leave it at that.
WOODIE: Well you found the gun. I just wanted to thank you for finding the gun.
TIMMERMAN: All right, you thanked me.
WOODIE: He woulda got the gun. He woulda shot me.
TIMMERMAN: All right!
WINONA: (to Timmerman) How can you talk to him like that?
Everyone looks at her.
How can you stand there and tell him you don’t support him? You said that man was evil! You were the one that said he did it! Every day in the papers!
TIMMERMAN: Well I wish you the best.
WOODIE: I told’em the reason I was out there was—
WINONA: We needed the money because we’re moving. There’s work in New Mexico. We’re going down there.
SALLY: (to Winona) You’ll love it in New Mexico. My sister was there, she brought back these beautiful turquoise bracelets. Course it’s a whole different climate.
WOODIE: All those people that went to that guy’s funeral. I’d think if you’re overseas and you kill a Jap, you don’t think about people going to his funeral. Japs probably don’t have funerals. He’s just one more dead Jap. But I don’t know why they all went to his funeral—
LESTER: Mr. Purvis, the Sheriff would say you did the right thing. I’d say you did the smart thing. Either way you’re on the plus side of the ledger.
WOODIE: I didn’t do it for the money.
SALLY: Well but you deserve it.
WINONA: We’re leaving.
TIMMERMAN: Mr. Purvis.
Timmerman rises. Woodie approaches him.
My wife and I are just taking off on vacation. You can understand we’ve been under stress. There’s always some people find fault. But you did what was right, and you did a great service to this community.
He shakes Woodie’s hand, never looking at him.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I promised my wife a trip to San Francisco, and so Lester’s taking care of things here, so if you need anything, why you talk to him.
WOODIE: Sorry to bother you.
TIMMERMAN: That’s all right.
WOODIE: I didn’t do it for the money.
WINONA: You said that, Woodie—
WOODIE: I did it cause everybody’s scared to death.
TIMMERMAN: That’s right.
WOODIE: You found the rifle. He coulda killed me.
WOODIE: They said I’m a hero.
TIMMERMAN: Definitely.
WOODIE: Well say something!
TIMMERMAN: Mr. Purvis—
WOODIE: (screaming) Goddamn you, I killed a man!
Winona holds Woodie.
TIMMERMAN: Would you please excuse us.
He goes out with Sally. Woodie is drained. Silence.
WINONA: Honey, come on. Let’s go.
WOODIE: I’m having dreams. Real silly dreams.
LESTER: Mr. Purvis, the sheriff is very appreciative of what you did. I even had to talk him out of giving you my job. You did the right thing, everybody knows that. Deliver us from evil: that’s in the Bible. Like our boys overseas, killing the Philistines. Think of it that way. God’s work.
Winona draws Woodie to the door. He stops.
WOODIE: Reason I’m not in the Army is I got bad eyes.
They go out. Lester laughs.
Voices, whispering. The stage fills with characters: Sally and Timmerman in their dining room, Fred and Ruby on the porch, Lester and Evans in the office, Woodie and Winona in their kitchen. Light on Sally.
SALLY: Well we had a wonderful time in San Francisco. He even made it through the opera. We’re doing better. We’ve had rough times before.
They talk about look at the big picture. But I believe the big picture, that just makes you miserable. Better you look at right what’s in front of you. Look at a flower. Look at the art museum. Look at the pumpkin pie.
Just get through till tomorrow, and tomorrow it’s a whole new world.
Light on Fred Upchurch.
FRED: I’m really proud of my boys. All my boys. Jack was a war hero, you know. He was in the papers.
My wife, she’s not well, but my daughter takes care of her. Neither one of’em don’t talk much. The war’s over soon. Price of hogs is still doing good.
Light on Winona.
WINONA: We like it here. It’s really beautiful. The colors in the desert. Woodie’s getting good pay, really good. It’s good to be in a place where he doesn’t have to be a hero. That’s the great thing about America, you can always move.
It’s some big government thing. I don’t know what it is, but you get the feeling that you’re part of something really important. Maybe something that helps the war. Make a better world, nothing to be afraid of. Building the future. And all the past, that’s dead and buried. Dead and buried.
I wish he’d talk more.