Fight the Dawn – In the Red (Act One)

The following is the first act of my upcoming audioplay, In the Red. Part of Fight the Dawn, my on-going series of original fiction and audioplays. And it is presented here as a work-in-progress, likely to grow and change with time, as it’s performed live and recorded with a variety of performers and in front of different crowds. I hope you’ll enjoy where it is now. And I hope you’ll be excited to see where it will go.



ACT ONE

SCENE 01. A BUSY DINER

SOUNDSCAPE: THE GENERAL CHAOS OF A SMALL-TOWN DINER DURING BREAKFAST. UP, UNDER.

ASSHOLE CUSTOMER ANGRILY SMASHES PLATE OF FOOD ON FLOOR. BABYDOLL, THE WAITRESS GASPS, HALF-SHOCKED, HALF-PISSED.


BABYDOLL
What the shit!

ASSHOLE
(Matter-of-fact and cold, like a real dick.)
You gonna clean that up?

BABYDOLL
The hell did ya do that for?

ASSHOLE
(Still matter-of-fact, still cold, still a dick.)
You brought me the wrong food.

BABYDOLL
Yeah? Well, you didn’t have to throw your food on the ground like that.

ASSHOLE
(Colder, meaner.)
Yeah, and you didn’t have to bring me the wrong fuckin’ food.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE. THEN…

SCENE 02. A KITCHEN IN A BUSY DINER.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE GROTESQUE SYMPHONY OF A KITCHEN IN A SMALL-TOWN DINER. FRANK, THE OWNER, MANS THE GRILL.

BABYDOLL STORMS THROUGH THE KITCHEN’S DOOR, CARRYING THE BROKEN PLATE AND FOOD.


FRANK
S’matter, Babydoll? You lost again?

BABYDOLL SPIKES EVERYTHING INTO THE BIN WITH A FRUSTRATED GRUNT.

FRANK
(Gesturing, punctuating, and emphasizing with his hands.)
I keep tellin’ ya–
you stay on that side of the counter–
and I stay back here…makin’ ya all hot and bothered from afar.

BABYDOLL
(Fuming, ignoring FRANK. This isn’t new.)
Your brother’s a real asshole, Frank.

FRANK
Yeah, he’s a real piece of shit. But he’s also a paying customer. So as much as I want to kick his teeth in most days, I’m takin’ the cost of that food and that plate out of your pay.

BABYDOLL
What?! That’s bullshit!

FRANK
Yeah.  I’m a real piece of shit, too. Runs in the family.

OFF: THE TINKLING OF SMALL BELLS AS A DOOR OPENS, CLOSES. COYOTE, A MASKED ROBBER CARRYING NOTHING BUT A BIG STICK, ENTERS THE DINER.

(NOTE: COYOTE SPEAKS THROUGH HIS MASK THROUGHOUT ACT ONE.)


COYOTE
(OFF. Projecting from the other room.)
Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I humbly request that all ya’ll kind folks,
please,
direct your attention my way for just a moment,
if you will.

FRANK
What the hell?

FRANK WADDLES TO THE KITCHEN DOOR, PEAKS OUT. BABYDOLL FOLLOWS.

BABYDOLL
(loud whispering)
What’s goin’ on?

FRANK
(also loud whispering)
Dunno. Some asshole in a goddamn werewolf mask.

BABYDOLL
(confused, raised voice)
Werewolf?!

COYOTE
(OFF. Replying from BUSY DINER.)
Coyote, actually.

SCENE 03. A BUSY DINER (II)

SOUNDSCAPE: BACK TO DINER PROPER, NOW HUSHED.

COYOTE
Now,
I do hope you will find it in your hearts to forgive me
for selfishly
interrupting your meal this morning.
(A beat.)
You are no doubt eager to return to your food and idle chatter,
and I have no doubt one of you is already calling the police.
So,
I will do my best to make this quick for all of us.
(A beat.)
I stand before you, a humble thief,
eager to relieve this business,
and all you fine folk,
of your motherfuckin’ money.

ASSHOLE
(OFF. Calling from his seat.)
This a fuckin’ joke, or somethin’?

COYOTE
Sir. Please, save all questions for the end of this robbery.
Now,
if you would all be so kind as to hurry the fuck up–

ASSHOLE
(to COYOTE)
Hey, fuck you.
(to everyone else)
Look!
The dumb sonnovabitch ain’t even got a gun!
What are all ya’ll just sittin’ on your asses for?

COYOTE APPROACHES ASSHOLE.

COYOTE
You offend, Sir.

ASSHOLE
Yeah? Well, fuck your mother, too.

COYOTE
Counting coup.

ASSHOLE
What?

COYOTE
Counting.
Coup.
Have you heard of it?

ASSHOLE
The fuck you goin’ on about?

COYOTE
I thought as much.
(Closer, closer with each line, till he’s all up in ASSHOLE’s grill.)
Acts of bravery
by a Cheyenne warrior
in the face of the enemy.
To be recorded and passed on.
The braver,
the more life-threatening the act,
the greater the prestige.
(A beat.)
My enemy is a lack of money,
and anyone who stands between me and my acquiring more of it.
I have no gun.
I have no knife.
(holding up the stick)
I have no weapon but this stick.
But it is a big stick.
And I am eager to start counting.
Coup, or money.
Don’t matter much which at this point, really.
(A beat.)
So, I ask you, Sir,
are we allies this morning,
(CLOSE. Face-to-face, eye-to-eye)
or are we enemies?

ASSHOLE
(Closer.)
Fuck you.
(Spits in COYOTE’S face.)
Fuck your mask.
And fuck your stick.

COYOTE
(Sighing. Shrugging.)
Well,
I tried.

COYOTE BEATS THE SHIT OUT OF ASSHOLE WITH THE STICK.

SCENE 04. A KITCHEN IN A BUSY DINER (II)

BACK TO FRANK AND BABYDOLL. STILL LOUD WHISPERING.

FRANK
(Gobsmacked.)
Jesus Christ.

BABYDOLL
(Pure bliss.)
I think I’m in love.

FRANK
(Pulls REVOLVER from pants.)
Let’s see how this sonnovabitch stomachs a lil lead, huh?

BABYDOLL
(Didn’t see this coming at all.)
The Hell are you doin’ with a gun, Frank?

FRANK STEPS THROUGH KITCHEN DOORS, ENTERS BUSY DINER.

BABYDOLL
(Loud whisper.)
Frank? Frank! You dumb bastard, get back here!

SCENE 05. A BUSY DINER (III)

FRANK WADDLES UP TO COYOTE, COCKS REVOLVER.

COYOTE
(To no one in particular.)
Gonna be honest here:
Didn’t see this coming.

FRANK
This is my gotdamn diner.
These are my gotdamn customers.
(Gestures to ASSHOLE.)
And that asshole you beat like a government mule
is my gotdamn brother.

COYOTE
(Looks at it all, back to FRANK.)
Well, that’s depressing.
Easy, Pops. How’s about you put that piece away?
Before you give yourself an infarction, or somethin’.

FRANK
Just give me a reason you piece of sh–

CLANG! BABYDOLL KNOCKS FRANK THE FUCK OUT WITH A FRYING PAN.

A SILENCE.

COYOTE
(Puzzles this.)
Uh…
(Looks to FRANK, then to BABYDOLL.)
Thank you?

BABYDOLL
(Absent. Looking at Frank.)
Yeah…
(Considers this.)
No,
(Trades PAN for REVOLVER.)
that was…
(to Coyote.)
I think that was kinda more for me.

COYOTE
(Little confused, little frustrated.)
I’m sorry.
Did I miss something?
You do know this is the middle of a robbery, right?

BABYDOLL
(Snaps out of it.)
What?
Yeah.
Yeah, sorry about that.
(Waves gun around. Projects.)
I believe all ya’ll were told to hurry the fuck up!

A CONFUSED SILENCE. THEN…

BANG! BABY DOLL FIRES A SHOT IN THE AIR. A COLLECTIVE STARTLED YELP.


COYOTE
(Startled.)
Jesus, Lady!

BABYDOLL
(Barking.)
Did. I. Fuckin’. Stutter?

A BEAT. THEN…

SCENE 06. OUTSIDE A BUSY DINER.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE IMMEDIATE AREA AROUND A SMALL-TOWN DINER. CALM. LITTLE TO NO TRAFFIC. THEN…

COYOTE AND BABYDOLL BURST OUT THE FRONT DOOR OF THE DINER, CARRYING ARMS FULL OF LOOT, LAUGHING, HAVING A BLAST. THEY STOP AT COYOTE’S MOTORCYCLE.


BABYDOLL
Nice bike.

COYOTE
(Mounts MOTORCYCLE.)
Thank you.

BABYDOLL
So, what now?

COYOTE
Well,
I suppose it’s only right you get a cut.

BABYDOLL
(Anxious. Getting serious.)
Not what I meant.
I wanna come with.

COYOTE
(Coy.)
That right?
And what makes you think I’d let that happen?

BABYDOLL
Well.
Last I checked,
all you had was a stick and a pair of keys.
And here I am,
(Aims REVOLVER at COYOTE. Half-joking.)
holding this here six-shooter.

COYOTE
(Smiles, chuckles.)
You’re one Hell of a woman. You know that?

BABYDOLL
(She does.)
Yup.

COYOTE
(Already knows the answer.)
You sure you want to do this?
Ain’t much of a future being an outlaw.

BABYDOLL
(Coy.)
Oh. Is that what you think you are, Mr. Coyote? An outlaw?

COYOTE
(Laughing.)
Yeah. Something like that, I suppose.

DISTANT POLICE SIRENS–UP, UNDER.

BABYDOLL
Why do you do it?

COYOTE
Now, that? That, I’m still trying to figure out.

BABYDOLL
(Smiles.)
Guess that makes two of us.
(Mounts the bike, holds him CLOSE.)
Ride like the wind, Cowboy.

COYOTE
Yes, Ma’am.

COYOTE KICK-STARTS THE BIKE. THEY RIDE OFF INTO THE SUNSET.

FADE.

END ACT ONE



LIVE PERFORMANCES

DOLL HUT (01.29.19.)

The first live test performance of Act One of my in-progress audioplay, Fight the Dawn: In the Red, a pulpy punk rock western about a pair of colorful outlaws in love.

Recorded LIVE at the World Famous Doll Hut in Anaheim, CA (January 29, 2019)!

Featuring:
Rachel Putnam as Babydoll
Michael Avila as Coyote
Josh Waldrop as Asshole
Bex Navarro, as Frank
and Steve Arviso as The Host

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