Meat from a Carcass: A Play

I love to read plays, but find them incredibly difficult to write (narrative fiction gives me a greater amount of control to describe the visuals and the action.) Plays also take a very deft ear for dialogue. I think my skills have improved greatly in the intervening years since I wrote this one-act (about 2009), but I have strong affinity for the characters (they all want to do what is “right”, but boy, are they unhappy about it. Robert and Karl don’t compete on an equal playing field, and are both selfish in their own way – but I think they genuinely want what’s best for each other, even if they can’t always let the other shine. They are very brotherly in that regard even if they aren’t related. I think that growing up gets easier when you stop comparing, and learn that a “win” isn’t always a win.

Excerpt from SUCCESSION

(Two young men in an open field. Each has a rifle. They have been target shooting. Their fathers huddle in the far distance):

Karl

You shot pretty well today.

 

Robert

Sometimes I hit what I aim at.

 

Karl

The scope on the rifle favors left. It’s only off by a breath – but it is off. You should know. Fair is fair.

 

Robert

Uh-huh.

 

Karl

Some guys from the shop are going out tonight. I usually hang out with a couple of buddies from high school.

 

Robert

I’m not really feeling up to seeing any of the old faces.

 

Karl

There are a few girls. I think they’re into artists -at least the guys who talk like they’re into that sort of thing.

 

Robert

I’ll see…

 

Karl

I’m glad you’re getting out of town.

 

            (Robert nods.)

Karl

It’s a big deal.

 

Robert

Maybe.

 

Karl

You’ve got to get out of this place. You’ve got to write about all this stuff around here. There are tons of stories, and people, that everybody’s got to know about. Cause it’s got to get told. I mean it’s just as interesting as anything else. You can make that happen. You’ve got the opportunity. Don’t just write some bullshit, okay? Don’t be that guy who just gives the people what he thinks they want. If you could write like a story or movie or something that hits it big. I mean, like, big big. God, that would be something. I could tell people that I know you. I would know what you were talking about. And I could talk to people about it. And it would be important. You could come though this place and it would be a big deal. People would really stand up and take notice for once. You’d be the guy who made it out. You’d be the guy who shared a piece of this place with everybody. Just remember me, okay?

 

Robert

Nothing’s decided yet. It’s just an idea.

 

Karl

It’s a good idea.

 

Robert

You can make things – tangible things. All I can do is talk. What you do is as important as anything else. At least it’s honest.

 

            (Karl nods.)

 

Karl, you can always leave if you want to.

 

Karl

I can’t even get a job on my own in my hometown. How can I do it someplace else?

 

Robert

Hell if I know.

 

Karl

Do you have anything to stick the card to the fence post? A tack or something?

 

Robert

No. Just slip it under the wire. It doesn’t need to stay up there long.

 

Karl

This is stupid.

 

Robert

It doesn’t seem as stupid when you win.

 

Karl

I’m going to miss. If they care so much about competing, then they should compete.

 

George (off stage)

What’s taking so long?

 

Karl

We’ve got it!

 

(to Robert) Don’t forget about me when you make it. Promise.

 

 

Robert

Yeah. Sure.

 

George (off stage)

Hump it over here. It’s too cold for us geezers.

 

(Enter George and Fritz. The group meets. Fritz holds the rifle and two shells. George a pair of binoculars.)

 

Fritz

Karl, you follow Bobby. One man, one shot. Closest to center wins.

 

            (Fritz puts one shell in the bolt-action rifle. Hands it to Robert.)

 

George

What is that? A Big Five rifle?

 

Fritz

Yes.

 

George

It looks okay.

 

Fritz

It’s your shot, Bobby.

 

            (Robert takes aim. Shoots.)

 

George

He nicked it. Caught an edge.

 

Fritz

Karl up.

 

(Robert hands the rifle to Karl who takes a shell from Fritz. Loads the weapon. Waits.)

 

Fritz

It’s your shot, Karl.

 

            (Karl takes aim. Shoots.)

 

George

Dead center. Karl wins. Let’s drink!

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