Double or Nothing
Written by Logan Toftness
FINNY: an old man in a terribly loud, tattered button-up collared shirt and vest
HAZEL: a young poor-looking gypsy woman
JACK: a youngish man in a sleazy business suit
(There is a small, shabby cart off-centered on stage. It is portable and set up for a carnival game involving five milk bottles stacked in a triangle and a ball to throw at them to knock them down.
FINNY is asleep in front of the cart. HAZEL is behind the cart, looking bored. She walks around to the front of the cart and throws a ball at the bottles. They all clatter to the ground. FINNY jumps a little in his sleep, but does not wake.
HAZEL goes behind the bottles, picks up a glue bottle, and begins to glue the bottles in place. She accidently knocks a bottle off the counter, sees it and tries to catch it, but knocks the rest of the bottles off as well instead. FINNY jumps again and wakes up.)
FINNY: Can’t a man take a decent nap around here?
HAZEL: Finny, we’re supposed to be working.
FINNY: I know that. But every day it’s the same. We set up cart. People come, they play, they win, we lose. Every day. Then we pack up, empty-handed and go home. I’m tired. I just want to go to sleep. I’m not as young as I used to be, you know.
HAZEL: Well, maybe we don’t have to lose any more.
FINNY: Hazel, it’s no use. Pack up the cart. It’s dark. It’s time to go.
HAZEL: Aw, come on, let’s stay a little longer. I think I can fix our little losing streak.
FINNY: Hazel, it’s dark. The park closes at dark. We have to go home before we get caught operating after hours again…What are you even doing?
HAZEL: I’m gluing these bottles down.
FINNY: You’re what?
HAZEL: Come on, think about it. How many times did we lose today?
FINNY: I don’t know, a lot I guess. We always lose a lot.
HAZEL: Exactly. So, let me finish this and we won’t ever lose again!
FINNY: Oh come on! You’re ruining the integrity of our game!
HAZEL: Yes. But think of the money we could make. Aren't you sick of being dirt poor?
FINNY: I suppose.
HAZEL: Okay, all finished. Look, you throw that ball at this one and a few fall off, so it looks like you could knock them all down, see? But see this middle triangle, it’ll be stuck down tight. Once this dries, nobody will knock it down!
JACK: I’d like to try.
HAZEL: Sorry sir, but we’re closed.
JACK: I have the money. Are you really going to turn away a paying customer? It looks like you folks don’t get many.
HAZEL: I’m sorry, sir. It’s after dark. The park closes at dark.
JACK: Come on, baby. Just one round. Tell me, what are the prizes?
(JACK takes a few coins from his pocket and plays with them.)
FINNY: Stuffed toys. Hazel here makes ‘em herself. They’re quite real-looking too, and completely unique—won’t find ‘em anywhere else! But sir, we’re closed. And besides, we're all out of prizes for the night.
JACK: Come on, I’ll pay you double.
HAZEL: I’m sorry sir, but--
FINNY: No, no wait. Double? Come on Hazel, let’s give the kind gentleman a shot!
HAZEL: (Hissed to FINNY) But the glue isn’t dry…
JACK: What was that?
HAZEL: Oh, never mind. Fine. But he only gets one shot.
JACK: That’s all I need.
(FINNY hands JACK a ball. JACK throws and misses completely.)
HAZEL: Aw, sorry. Maybe next time.
JACK: Okay, one more time. Double or nothing.
HAZEL: You already doubled!
JACK: Okay, so double that.
HAZEL: Sir, we had a deal--
FINNY: Yeah, but doubling a double—think about it, Hazel! I love a good gambling man. (To Hazel) I mean, look at that last shot, Hazel, what’s there to lose?
HAZEL: Fine…All right, but this is the last time.
(FINNY gives JACK a ball. JACK throws and knocks every bottle down.)
FINNY: What? How did that happen?
HAZEL: I told you! The glue wasn’t dr--
FINNY: Sir, there is no way you could have knocked all of those bottles down!
JACK: Whatever do you mean? Surely it’s been done before. Unless you know something about this game that I don’t.
HAZEL: What are you trying to say? Are you saying we cheated?
JACK: If I’m not mistaken, you just accused me of cheating. A more suspicious man might think there is something else going on here…other than operating illegally after park hours.
FINNY: No, no sir. Nothing like that at all. We just were surprised because you—you missed the first time! That’s all.
JACK: I see. I’m sure you wouldn’t lie to me, a kind paying customer. Now, can I have my prize?
FINNY: Um, sir I told you we’re all out of prizes. You see, we’ve been won out today.
JACK: You two must be the worst workers this place has ever seen. Hell, I doubled my double. You’d better pay up.
HAZEL: But…we just said we don’t have anything!
JACK: No, you said you don’t have any of the usual prizes. Now, doubling a double—that’s worth quite a bit for you folks, right?
FINNY: Well, yeah, I guess so…
JACK: And me knowing that you were trying to cheat—how much is that worth?
FINNY: What? What do you mean? Us, cheat? Noooooo. We would never!
JACK: I can see the glue on the bottles from here.
HAZEL: Sir, what do you want? Just leave us alone!
JACK: And you are operating after hours…hmm…I wonder…
FINNY: Wonder what, sir?
JACK: I wonder how much you are willing to pay to keep me quiet.
HAZEL: We already told you, we don’t have anything. Look at us! Look at our clothes!
JACK: True. But I can’t just walk away empty handed. That’s not fair to me at all.
FINNY: Sir, just what exactly is it that you want?
JACK: I want the girl.
FINNY: What? She’s not for sale.
JACK: No, no. You misunderstand. I want the girl. Just one night. That’s all it takes. Then I disappear, like it never happened. You get to keep operating this sad little booth and I will go on my merry way. I keep silent, you keep my money.
HAZEL: That’s sick! Leave us alone!
FINNY: No, Hazel, my sweet. Maybe you should go with him. I won’t mind.
HAZEL: You’re sick! Both of you!
JACK: Aww, come here darling. I like a little bit of a fight.
HAZEL: Get away from me!
(HAZEL hits JACK with a bottle. He falls and stays down.)
FINNY: What did you just do?
HAZEL: I-I don’t know! He was coming at me!
FINNY: Well, is he dead?
HAZEL: I-I don’t know!
FINNY: You’d better hope so. If he comes back from that, there’s no way he’ll keep his mouth shut.
(JACK moves, groans.)
HAZEL: Oh, god, what do I do?
FINNY: Finish him off.
FINNY: Do it! No one can know about this! Do you want to go back to living on the streets? And force me out of my home as well? I took you in—you should be grateful!
HAZEL: Oh, god!
FINNY: Come on, do it!
HAZEL: I-I can’t!
(FINNY takes the bottle and goes to finish him off.)
HAZEL: Stop it, stop! What are you doing?
(FINNY hits him repeatedly. JACK moans, then is still.)
HAZEL: Stop it! Please…
FINNY: It’s done.
HAZEL: Oh, god.
FINNY: Oh, shut up. This is your fault.
HAZEL: How is this my fault?
FNNY: You’re the one who wouldn’t go with him.
HAZEL: You can’t have expected me to do that! When you took me in you said I’d never have to—never have to do that again. You promised me a better life.
FINNY: A better life? Look at us, Hazel. Look at how we live. This is as good as it gets. We have no right to a better life, no right to choose! We do what we must. You’re a fool to think otherwise.
HAZEL: But I-I don’t like it.
FINNY: You don’t have to like it. What’s done is done. Now help me move the body.
HAZEL: Oh, god. He’s really dead.
FINNY: Yep, and I reckon he’s going to stay that way. Now, help me move him before somebody comes looking where they shouldn’t.
HAZEL: Oh, Finny, you know no one will come looking for us.
FINNY: Yeah, but who’s stopping someone from looking for him? Now help me get him into our cart.
(They move the body into the cart.)
HAZEL: What are we going to do?
FINNY: Improvise. Hand me that knife.
HAZEL: Oh god, I can’t watch.
FINNY: Where’s the needle and thread?
HAZEL: Oh, this is sick.
FINNY: What? Don’t look at me like that. We do what we have to do to get by. It can’t all be roses.
HAZEL: Finny, we can’t. This is just wrong.
FINNY: We needed prizes. Now we have them. See, it’s not all bad.
HAZEL: Don’t think someone will notice?
FINNY: No. No one will notice. They will see the prizes, not what they are made of. Amazing, isn’t it?
HAZEL: More like horrifying.
FINNY: We’ll take what we can get. Now, help me hang these up.
(They hang stuffed limbs over the cart. An arm, a leg, a severed hand. They are gruesome.)
FINNY: There—doesn’t look half bad.
(Long pause. They look at the cart in silence.)
HAZEL: Can we go now? It’s so dark.
FINNY: Sure, let’s pack up and get out of here. Another day tomorrow.
HAZEL: Yeah, just another day.
(They pack up silently and leave.)
© Logan Toftness 2012