Character: HOPPER, male, late 20’s
The sound of a motorcycle is heard. HOPPER, the rider, appears on a bike. He stops near the tree, turns off the engine, removes his helmet, dismounts, and kicks the dust off his clothes. HOPPER is a father in his late twenties. Familiar with this place, the land, and the tree, he studies the landscape. After a deep breath, HOPPER searches the tree for his son, Pete, who is perched on a limb and partially camouflaged by foliage. Pete is never seen.
Pete. You there? (looking) Yeah, you’re there. Grand said I could find you here. Said you’d be up this old tree. Said you might not want to talk to me. Is that true? Is it true what Grand said, Pete?
Well, you don’t have to talk. Not now. Not yet. And I know I’m late and you know I’m sorry for that. And I don’t blame you for being a little angry. I don’t, Pete, because I’ve been angry, too. Yeah. Some things just don’t work out the way they should. Yeah. Some things just don’t work out accordin’ to time. (slight pause) And I know you miss her, Pete, as much as I do, and maybe even more. And I know I should’ve been here for you but Granma said you’re okay. Said you’re a strong boy. Said you are as strong as this old tree.
(HOPPER moves to his bike and removes a newspaper from his saddlebags.)
Hey, look here. I’ve got somethin’ for you, Pete. I’ve been to the mountains. Just had to get away for a while. Shake things loose. Grand told you I was comin’ back, didn’t she? Well, I’m here… now… and I brought somethin’ with me, too. Can you see it?
(HE holds up the newspaper.)
I know you’re workin’ on readin’ but just listen to the headlines (reading): “NOTORIOUS GUNSLINGERS HOPPER AND PETE SUSPECTED OF HIDING OUT IN GHOST TOWN.” Right here on the front page! You like that? I thought you’d get a kick out of seein’ our names in the paper. Like we’re a couple of outlaws from the Old West.
(HE swaggers back a step as if he were about to draw a six-shooter.)
What’d ya say, partner? Time to give it up. Drop the guns.
(When there is no response from Pete, HOPPER climbs on his bike.)
I want to take you to the mountains, Pete. I want you to see them. The mountains. Just how big they are and how little they make you feel. I want you to hold tight to my back, and know what it’s like to grip the road… and how the bike leans so low… one way and then the other. You feel hell-bent… and free… and still… so small. You can lean and almost brush the mountain wall. And just a few feet away on the other side, there’s nothin’ but sky, as bright as your mother’s eyes and a dim thought that keeps you from flyin’ away.
It crossed my mind, Pete. Yeah, I thought I’d just leave and never look back. Cut a path, catch a breeze, and never turn around. But I couldn’t. Every time I’d build some speed… I’d brake. Stop along the road… I’d sit. Look back at where I came from… and I’d see your face. I’d try to shake it out and ride some more, look ahead… but… there again, you would be. You see, you weren’t here like somethin’ I could leave behind, Pete. And you weren’t in front of me like somethin’ I’d finally reached. You were inside of me like somethin’ I couldn’t shake away.
(HOPPER climbs off the bike with the newspaper in his hands.)
So, you might as well give it up, partner. Come on down. We’ve got to go now. Says right here, “MARSHALS ARE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THE DANGEROUS BOONE BOYS, HOPPER AND PETE, LAST SEEN BOARDING THE WESTBOUND TRAIN.” Got to go. Got to get away.
Maybe we’ll become blacksmiths, slaps shoes, and fix wagons. Maybe we’ll buy us a saloon with swingin’ doors, fancy lights, and serve beer to thirsty cowpokes exceptin’ it’ll be root beer. And we’ll join them in poker… but just for fun. It’ll be great. Family entertainment. But… first… Pete, it’s high noon, and Grand has lunch on the table. And I’ve got to teach you to read. And you’ve got to teach me to be on time. So, let’s saddle up. What’d you say?
(Brief pause. Pete then drops his cowboy hat, his holster, and play pistol. A moment passes. HOPPER studies the toys. A real bullet then falls from the tree, followed by another, then several, and then many more, until the box and all its contents are emptied on the ground. A handgun follows. HOPPER lifts the handgun, checks the cylinder, the safety, and places it safely in his saddlebags. HE then picks up the Pete’s toy holster and pistol.)
You want this back? No. Well, maybe we’ll just lock them up. Keep them safe in a drawer until you get older. Is that okay? Sure. Well. Come on down, now, son. Climb on. Granma’s waiting.
(HOPPER puts the toys away, and starts the motorcycle.)
It’s time for you to hold tight, son. Time to hold tight.
copyright © 2009 Dwight Watson. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Dwight Watson is an Indiana-based playwright, director, and Professor of Theatre at Wabash College. He has directed over sixty productions for educational and professional theatres, and has received several playwriting awards. His monologue book, Original Monologues That Showcase Your Talent, was published in 2005 by Allworth Press (NYC). Watson’s monologues and scenes appear in several anthologies.