A Shaded Place

A CLIFF OVERLOOKING A RAVINE.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The woman guided a one-horse medicine wagon through a lonesome stretch of canyon…

MEDICINE WAGON ENTERS. WAGON IS OLD, WORN. “DR. STEVEN WILLIAMS WORLD FAMOUS TONIC AND TINCTURES” PAINTED ON ITS SIDE WITH “DR. DEATH” PAINTED OVER THIS. THE WOMAN SITS ATOP IT. SOMEONE ELSE ROLLS AROUND INSIDE.

…to a shaded place overlooking a ravine.

WAGON STOPS.

WOMAN: (BANGS ON ROOF) Wake up. We’re here.

SHE DISEMBARKS, FORCEFULLY EJECTS…

DR. WILLIAMS, A GREASY, BEATEN, YET POMPOUS SNAKE OIL SALESMAN. HIS HANDS BOUND IN ROPE.

WILLIAMS: You can’t do this!

WOMAN: I can, and I am.

WILLIAMS: Do you have the faintest clue who I am?!

SHE CUTS HIS HANDS FREE, PUSHES HIM TOWARD THE CLIFF.

WOMAN: (GESTURES) That’s you, ain’t it? Dr. Steven Williams?

WILLIAMS: My wagon! My beautiful… (READS) “Dr. Death”?! How dare you defile my property, demean my good name and profession, and drag me to the middle of this godforsaken–!

WOMAN DRAWS, AIMS GUN AT WILLIAMS.

WOMAN: You sell that piss water of yours in a town called Roma?

WILLIAMS: (FLUSTERED) I am a humble salesman of everything that heals and soothes! I’ve traveled all across this country! I can’t possibly be expected to keep track of every miserable, urine-soaked–!

BANG! THE WOMAN SHOOTS WILLIAMS IN THE ARM.

WILLIAMS: (PAINED SCREAMS) You shot me! You miserable woman, you shot me!

WOMAN: I did.

WILLIAMS: Are you insane?!

WOMAN: Maybe. Did you sell your bottled piss to a town called Roma? Yes, or no.

WILLIAMS: I don’t have to–!

BANG! THE WOMAN SHOOTS WILLIAMS IN THE LEG.

WILLIAMS: (MORE PAINED SCREAMS) Stop shooting me!

WOMAN: Stop making me repeat myself.

WILLIAMS: Yes! Fine! (COMPOSES SELF) Yes, I may have passed through that failed experiment on my way to Santa Carla. And yes, I may have sold some of my wares to some of the locals. But that’s hardly a crime!

SHE TAKES, EXAMINES A BOTTLE FROM THE WAGON.

WOMAN: (READS) “William’s Wizard Elixir”… After I’d come back from my sister’s wedding in Missouri, I found a bottle, just like this one, in every house in Roma. (TOSSES BOTTLE TO WILLIAMS) Lots and lots of dead bodies too.

WILLIAMS: They had the blight! They needed something! I gave them hope! I gave them a choice!

WOMAN: Your poison, or the blight. I hardly call that a choice.

WILLIAMS: I didn’t create odds and chances! If you have a grievance with fortune, I suggest you take it up with God!

THE WOMAN SHOOTS THE BOTTLE OUT OF WILLIAM’S HAND.

Killing me won’t bring those people back!

WOMAN: No. No, I suppose it won’t.

WILLIAMS: What, then?

WOMAN: I’m offering you a choice.

WILLIAMS: Choice? What choice?

THE WOMAN GESTURES TO THE CLIFF WITH HER GUN.

Your gun or suicide? (SCOFFS) I hardly call that a choice!

WOMAN: It is if the fall don’t kill you.

WILLIAMS: I don’t see that as a likely outcome.

WOMAN: I didn’t create odds and chances, Doc. If you have a grievance with fortune, I suggest you take it up with God.

WILLIAMS RISES TO HIS FEET, MAKES HIS WAY TO THE CLIFF’S EDGE. IT’S HIGH. FAR TOO HIGH.

WILLIAMS: (MUTTERS) No. Oh, no, no…

WOMAN: Any last words?

WILLIAMS: Fuck–!

BANG! THE WOMAN SHOOTS WILLIAMS DEAD. HIS LIFELESS BODY DROPS BACK INTO THE RAVINE BELOW.

A SILENCE. THEN…

THE WOMAN CUTS THE HORSE LOOSE, RIDES OFF.