The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man                                             RON CAMPBELL

soarfeat@gmail.com

 

The Hanged Man

By Ron Campbell

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Madam………An Old Woman.

Guy…………..A Young Man.

Pegasus…….A Mythical Beast.

SETTING

A Fortune Teller’s Parlor.

(Lights come up on an old woman sitting at a table.

 She rings a small bell.)

MADAM

Next please. Come in.

(A young man enters, a little sweaty, nervous.)

 

GUY

Yeah. Wow. Dark in here. But cool. Good air conditioner I guess. It’s a scorcher out there. My car. Overheated. This city. So hot, yeah?

I saw the sign. Free palm reading, Tarot. I thought “why not?” What have I got to lose? Besides, it’s nice in here. Cool. Cozy. Reminds me of my mom’s place. Back in Colorado. Dark and cool. This damn city. Burning up. Nice in here though.

MADAM

Come in.

GUY

I only have about ten minutes. The radiator. Needs to cool down. I figured what the hell. Get my fortune told, maybe get a laugh out of it, then be on my way. Least I’m getting out of the heat. It must be a hundred degrees out there.

MADAM

Sit down.

GUY

Right, right. Sit down. Sure.

No charge, right? No hidden fees? No “astral projection tax” or something like that?

Not that I can’t afford it. Things are looking pretty good for me right now. Things are definitely looking up. But then I suppose you already knew that, you being a psychic and all, right?

I mean besides my car overheating- damn thermostat or something- I’m in the pink.

MADAM

Sit down.

GUY

(He sits down across from the Old Woman.)

 

Right. So how does this work? You got a crystal ball you look in to see my future? Some magic hocus pocus dust you sprinkle on me or something?

MADAM

Give me your hand.

GUY

Oh right. Palm reading. The lines on my skin tell you what’s gonna happen to me in the future, yeah?

MADAM

I am not interested in your future. Give me your hand.

GUY

Not interested? You’re not interested in my future?

Well you should be. You should be very interested. Because my future is looking mighty bright. Yes ma’am. As soon as I get that damn car back on the road I’m headed straight for the big time. You should be interested in my future.

MADAM

I am interested in your past. Give me your hand.

GUY

My past? Okay. Here’s my hand. Tell me all about my past then. Knock yourself out, lady.

MADAM

(After a moment of looking at his hand:)

 

You are a criminal.

(GUY pulls his hand back quickly, looks at it.)

GUY

Where do you see that?

MADAM

The hands tell their stories. But there is more. Give me your hand.

GUY

I don’t know about this.

MADAM

(Gently:)

 

I will show you.

(She takes his hand.)

 

You see this line? This line signifies the path of your life.

But it is interrupted. Two times. Here and here. You were caught. Twice. I see you in a cage.

GUY

Chino. Two stretches. Grand theft auto and a trumped up hit and run.

MADAM

Apparently you are not a very good criminal.

GUY

Hey, hold on a minute. I didn’t come in here to get my work insulted with some “path of life” mumbo jumbo where you take one look at my hand and all of a sudden, “Abracadabra!” you can call me a bad criminal.

I’m good, okay? First rate. Best getaway driver in the city. There, you pulled it outta me. You had a lucky guess with the criminal part but don’t go calling me bad.

I just came in here to get out of that heat. Soon as that radiator cools down I’ve got a job to do. Do you get that, lady? A job. And that’s no artsy fartsy gypsy mystic mumbo jumbo. That’s the truth.

MADAM

The truth.

GUY

Yeah, lady. And there is only one truth. The truth you make for yourself. There is no “path of life” carved in your hand from the beginning. You make your path. Sometimes you might have to carve your path through the world with a knife or a gun but you are the decider. Not the world. The world lies. The world makes up stories. Stories about “spirits” and “psychic phenomenon” and magical creatures and all that but that’s all lies.

The only truth is yourself. Everything else lies.

MADAM

The cards do not lie.

      (She produces a deck of tarot cards and lays them face down on the table.)

 

Pick one.

GUY

What are you going to do now? Use the cards to read all about how my daddy beat me with his belt? How because of my childhood I had some kind of “bad destiny”? Some flaw in my character that was in the cards from the beginning? You already know I went to prison- twice. What else do you need to know about my past?

MADAM

I am no longer interested in your past. Pick a card.

GUY

Not interested in my past. Oh so you’re gonna read my future now?

I already told you: once that thermostat comes down my future is looking bright.

MADAM

Then pick a card.

GUY

Allright I will. So you can spout your gobbledygook all about how my destiny- my fate- is all written in the cards like a book or a play and all I have to do is act out my part. Yeah, that’s it. I’m an actor and all of my lines have already been written. Is that it?

MADAM

Pick a card and see.

GUY

Fine. I’ll pick a goddamn card.

(He turns over a card.)

 

MADAM

The Chariot. Tarot card number seven.

GUY

There. You see? Lucky number seven. I told you.

And a chariot. Don’t tell me. That’s my car, right? “My chariot awaits.” Just needs to cool down a little. That’s good, right? Yeah. The chariot. Not bad. I’m like a Roman. Riding along in his big chariot. Happy.

Hey did you hear the one about the happy Roman? He was gladiator. Get it? Glad- He- Ate- Her. Good one.

(GUY laughs at his joke, stops.)

 

Sorry. Sorry lady. Okay. You tell me. Chariot. What’s it mean?

MADAM

You are being pulled.

GUY

Pulled? What do you mean pulled?

MADAM

By forces. Currents. Strange undertows.

GUY

Here we go.

MADAM

You are being pulled in opposite directions. You are held still but you are also moving. Your stomach churns. Your teeth grind. But you are stuck. Held in the thrall of another. A bad man. This is why you bob your knee like that.

GUY

(He places his hand on his knee, stilling it.)

 

A bad man? I’m “in the thrall” of a bad man? Well that’s where you’re wrong. I got a job with the number one. The numero uno when it comes to this kind of thing. Hundreds of jobs. Never been touched. Untouchable. That’s who I’m working for. Mr. Untouchable. He may be a “bad man”, I’ll give you that, but he’s never been caught.

 

MADAM

Pick another card.

GUY

Fine. I will. You know why? ‘Cuz I ain’t afraid. I make my own rules. I carve my own destiny. I pick my own card.

(He turns over another card.)

MADAM

The Hanged Man.

GUY

Hanged? What’s that supposed to mean?

MADAM

This card is an opportunity.

GUY

An opportunity? An opportunity for what?

MADAM

Escape

GUY

Escape? I don’t need to escape. Escape from what?

MADAM

Your path in life.

GUY

Yeah right, here we go. I told you I’m about to cut through all that bullshit. All of society’s rules and ordinances. I’m locked on to my target. If I’m on any kind of path it’s headed full speed ahead like a goddamn Mac truck!

MADAM

But you can escape this “Mac truck”.

GUY

But why? You tell me all about what I can do but you don’t tell me why. Why would I want to escape? And really- How? If everything is written in those cards of yours how can I escape my personal Mac truck? Hunh lady? How?

MADAM

You need a vehicle.

GUY

A vehicle? I already have a vehicle. Right outside. Just waiting for it to cool down.

MADAM

You will be spotted. By the authorities. Put back in a cage. You need a different kind of vehicle. One no one will see.

GUY

What, an invisible car? Lady, I may be nuts coming in here in the first place but I’m not crazy. There’s no such thing as a-

MADAM

Not a car. A vehicle. Have you ever heard of Cognitive Aphasia?

GUY

Cogni what?

MADAM

Cognitive Aphasia is a phenomenon whereby that which is beyond human comprehension becomes invisible. What the mind cannot believe the eye cannot see.

I can purvey you such a vehicle. But it will cost.

GUY

I knew you had some angle, you old witch! Okay, I’ll play. How much? How much for this invisible vehicle that will help me escape from this life path?

MADAM

The cost is this: You must abandon your fear. Your cynicism. Your preconceptions. You must believe you have the ability to do this. I saw it in your hands. You have a gift. You were born with it. But it has been beaten out of you. The time has come to access it again. The cards say you have no choice. You are the hanged man.

GUY

Okay lady. What if I buy all this- which I don’t- but let’s say I’m willing to give up all my fears and shit and I take your cogni-whatever “vehicle”? How do I get it? Is it parked in your mystic parking lot with all the other unicorns and all I have to do is say the magic word and it’ll just magically appear here in this room?

MADAM

Exactly.

GUY

Allright lady. So what’s the magic word?

MADAM

You already know. You said it earlier.

GUY

What? Abracadabra?

MADAM

You must say it three times.

GUY

Oh I see. I say Abracadabra three times and poof! The invisible vehicle appears.

MADAM

That’s two…

GUY

Fine, lady. This air conditioning must be getting to me. Here goes: Abracadabra!

(There is a Poof! sound effect. PEGASUS appears.

Note: he could be a young man with strap on wings making “horsey” movements. Nothing too elaborate. GUY leaps back in shock.)

 

WHAT THE FUCK! What the hell is that thing?!

MADAM

That is not a thing. It is a mythical beast. His name is Pegasus. He has been carrying people where they need to go since before time. He carried Bellerophon into battle against the Chimera- he carried thunderbolts for Zeus. But that was long ago. Now he carries only those who abandon their fears and believe.

GUY

He’s… beautiful. I can’t believe it.

MADAM

Yes you can. Somewhere, deep inside you, there is still the ability to believe.

Climb on board. I guarantee you it’s a much smoother ride than any Mac truck. And because of Cognitive Aphasia no one will see you. Pegasus can take you anywhere.

GUY

Anywhere?

MADAM

Anywhere at all.

(PEGASUS whinnies and stamps his foot.)

 

GUY

Well I guess I’m in too far to back out now.

(He approaches PEGASUS.)

 

Whoa boy, easy does it.

(GUY climbs on to PEGASUS, who prances around the room.)

 

MADAM

Tell him where you want to go.

GUY

Okay Pegasus. Let’s do this. Take me home: Colorado. Get me out of this hot, hot city and back to Colorado. Where I belong.

(PEGASUS rears.

 There is a Poof! sound effect and GUY and PEGASUS disappear.

In the distance we hear GUY holler “Yee Haww!”

After a moment, the old woman gathers her cards, then rings a little bell.)

MADAM

Next please. Come in.

BLACKOUT

(END OF PLAY)

 

 

The Hanged Man RON CAMPBELL.doc

The Hanged Man

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