Below we present the complete text of The Elixir; episode 2 of Another Twist of the Tale.
ANOTHER TWIST OF THE TALE
EPISODE #2 – The Elixir
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Copyright 2013 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attritubution Non Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition .
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Episode 2: The Elixir
Young gun, Jimmy Saturn, has heard of Dr Lemuel, the old man camped just outside of town who has, among his wares, a special elixir to sell. He’s heard it can make you the fastest gun in the west and intends to make a name for himself by going up against Kid Marvin, the current holder of that title.
ANOTHER TWIST OF THE TALE
NARRATOR: The Narrator
DR LEMUEL: A snake oil salesman with a dark secret
JIMMY SATURN: A young sociopath looking to make a name for himself as a gunfighter.
SFX ARTIST: Minimum one required
SCENE 1: EXT – DR LEMUEL’S CAMP BESIDE HIS ALL-PURPOSE ELIXIR AND HEALTH TONIC WAGON – NIGHT (NARRATOR, DR LEMUEL, JIMMY SATURN)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
- NARRATOR: (SPOOKY VOICE) In the Old West of the 1890s a hard breed of man developed. These men called themselves shootists, though today we’d call them gunslingers. They were men for whom life was cheap and the skills that mattered most were quickness on the draw and a steady aim. They were killers for hire and they became legends. Their stories, however, were often embroidered and far more fanciful than reality would allow. This story begins at a campfire a mile or two outside Prospect Gulch.
- SOUND: (BACKGROUND) CRICKETS, CAMPFIRE, OCCASIONAL OWL – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- JIMMY SATURN: Hey Mister? Hey, are you Dr Lemuel, the travelling health tonic salesman?
- DR LEMUEL: That’s me. You sound kinda young, son. Maybe you should come into the firelight where I can see you and we can talk.
- JIMMY: Uh, yes sir. Sorry Mister.
- SOUND: JIMMY APPROACHES – LET IT FINISH.
- DR LEMUEL: Now, what can I do for you son?
- JIMMY: I saw your wagon roll into town this morning and I was down at the saloon when I overheard some folks say you had some elixir to sell.
- DR LEMUEL: That’s right son, I do; Dr Lemuel’s all-purpose elixir and health tonic.
- JIMMY: Well actually… well…
- DR LEMUEL: Spit it out son.
- JIMMY : Well sir, you see… I heard that…
- DR LEMUEL: Yes…
- JIMMY: I heard that you had something else in your wagon. Something special.
- DR LEMUEL: I see.
- JIMMY: Yes sir.
- DR LEMUEL: You heard Kid Marvin was coming to town, didn’t you?
- JIMMY: That’s right.
- DR LEMUEL: And you plan on going up against him with a gun? Making a name for yourself as a shootist?
- JIMMY: (EXCITED) Yes, sir. You’ve got it.
- DR LEMUEL: And just what do you think I can do to assist you Mr… uh?
- JIMMY: Saturn. My name’s Jimmy Saturn.
- DR LEMUEL: That ain’t your real name though, now is it?
- JIMMY: (EMBARRASSED) No sir. But it’s the one I chose. I reckon it’s a good name and it’ll look mighty fine on the cover of them dime novels.
- DR LEMUEL: So it’s fame you want, is it? And you think I can help you get it?
- JIMMY: Well, back at the saloon, I heard some of the fellas talking. They said that, if a man had a mind to make a name for himself when Kid Marvin came to town… well… that you sold a special elixir, one that would turn a man into the fastest gun in the west.
- DR LEMUEL: That’s true, but there’s no way I’d sell it to the likes of you.
- JIMMY: Why not?
- DR LEMUEL: That elixir will make a man fast and accurate, the fastest and most accurate in the entire west (if only for a day), but it won’t turn a man into a killer. It takes something more than speed and accuracy to kill a man in cold blood. I’d just be sending you to your death.
- JIMMY: But I can do it. I’m a stone cold killer.
- DR LEMUEL: (UNCONVINCED LAUGHER) Heh. Are you son? You’re little more than a boy with stars in his eyes from reading too many dime novels. A killer has to look a man in the eyes, has to spill his blood without hesitating, without worrying about the right or wrong of it. A killer has to be able to walk away and sleep at night without being troubled by the things he’s done. Is that you son?
- JIMMY: How about if I tell you a secret? Something nobody knows?
- DR LEMUEL: Alright son.
- JIMMY: You can’t tell anybody. You have to swear it.
- DR LEMUEL: Alright, I swear.
- JIMMY: Well mister, when I was young, me and Bessy-May would play out near the prairie’s edge. She was the store keeper’s daughter and he thought of himself as an important man in town. He wouldn’t let Bessy play with the likes of me so we used to keep it secret.
- DR LEMUEL: Ahuh.
- JIMMY: Anyways, one day we was out, just fooling around like, when we came upon an old burned out stage coach. Probably hit by bandits or some such. Inside were some skeletons and a big old iron trunk. I was real curious but Bessy was scared. She wanted to go home.
- I bet her she’d be too afraid to get inside the trunk with the skeleton’s so close, and she was, but I kept teasing her and eventually she wanted to prove me wrong. At the last second she tried to back out of it and I pushed her inside and jammed the lid shut. It was only meant to be for a minute or so, but as I sat there listening to her shriek and scream I got to thinking. If I let her out, she was pretty sure to tell her pappy what I’d done. She’d tell him and then there’d be heck to pay.
- DR LEMUEL: So you left her there, Jimmy? In that burned out stage amidst the skeletons? You left her stuck in that trunk?
- JIMMY: I surely did, Dr Lemuel. And I never lost a lick of sleep over it. So you see, I can be a killer, because I already am one.
- DR LEMUEL: You know Jimmy, I believe you’re right. I’ll sell you that elixir. But you remember my warning. You have to be fast, and you have to be accurate, but more than that you have to be willing to kill; Kid Marvin is all those things. This tonic will make you faster and more accurate than him, but you’ll have to do the rest on your own.
- JIMMY: I understand. Here’s a silver dollar. Is that enough?
- DR LEMUEL: More than enough. Here, you’ll want to drink it right away. I hear Kid Marvin will be arriving in town tonight.
- JIMMY: (GULPNG ELIXIR) How long does it last?
- DR LEMUEL: Maybe twenty four hours so you won’t want to wait too long. You’ll start feeling the difference in a minute.
- JIMMY: Hey, yeah. I do feel… something. I feel like it’s getting harder to… URK (COUGHING AND CHOKING). What have you done old man…? (MORE CHOKING) I’m gonna…
- SOUND: BODY DROP – LET IT FINISH.
- DR LEMUEL: No son, you’re not gonna do anything. Not ever again. You see, those dime novels, like me, never quite tell the truth.
I should probably introduce myself properly. My name’s Lemuel Marvin, also known as Kid Marvin (though no-one calls me by that name any more; these days I’m Doctor Lemuel) and I’ve been travelling from town to town for years, and everywhere I go I spread the story of Kid Marvin and the secret elixir. Sometimes I don’t find anyone worthy of it. In that case I just play on the local’s stupidity and sell a load of my all-purpose elixir. But occasionally, on a night like tonight, someone comes looking for the secret elixir. If they turn out to just be some dumb kid looking for a name, I talk ‘em out of it. But if they turn out to be someone like you. A killer. Do you know what I do? (BEAT) I let ‘em have the elixir. It’s full of arsenic and some special ingredients of my own. It does the job nice and quick. Then you know what I do? I put a gun in their hands and, taking my own gun, I shoot em between the eyes like this.
- SOUND: GUNSHOT – LET IT FINISH.
- DR LEMUEL: And then…? Well. then I tell the local Sheriff about how I saw Kid Marvin ride through, and how I saw you draw on him. “Darnedest thing I ever saw”, I tell him.
- You were fast, real fast. But Kid Marvin was faster.
- And then I tell the Sheriff how I saw Marvin ride on out, his legend just that little bit bigger. You’ll be famous, like you wanted after all… as one of the many who tried to kill Kid Marvin, and failed.
- MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- NARRATOR: (SPOOKY VOICE) And so our story comes to its close. Don’t believe what you read in the pages of those adventure stories of old, they were rarely exactly what they seemed. And don’t go hunting for fame and fortune without a conscience. You just might find it. Mwahahaha.
- MUSIC: CLOSING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
CASTING SHEETS — MAJOR CHARACTERS
NARRATOR: Hello, I am your spooky voiced narrator. I introduce the cold stormy nights on which our stories take place, the dark alleys, and darker personalities who inhabit the lonely city. It is my job to set the scene and establish the serious tone of suspense and intrigue that will carry the story forwards. I do this with a creepy laugh and ghoulish enthusiasm for the misery that is about to be unleashed upon the characters.
DR LEMUEL: I’m an old man selling snake-oil remedies in the old west. I travel from town to town, sell my remedies where I can, and swap stories of Kid Marvin, the fastest gun in the west. Everywhere I go, there’s always someone who wants to buy my “special” elixir – an elixir that will make you the fastest gun in the west.
JIMMY SATURN: I’m gonna be famous. I’ve got the heart of stone cold killer, and I reckon, with the help of some elixir, I’ll make my name gunning down Kid Marvin. That is, I’ll do it if’n I can get the old man to part with his elixir.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Craig Robotham grew up in a house full of books and has held numerous jobs as a teacher, computer programmer, graphic and web designer, e-learning consultant and, most recently, writer. He currently lives in Victoria, Australia with his wife and two sons. When he was younger and fitter he enjoyed martial arts, but in recent years his hobbies have tended towards more sedate fare (board games, movies, books, and role-playing games).
He is extremely grateful for the encouragement he receives from his biggest fans — his wife and two boys — all of whom read and enjoy his scripts and, in general, make his life worth living.
You can contact the author regarding performance rights (or simply to say hello) through his website: http://www.weirdworldstudios.com.
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This post and all its content is copyright © 2013 Philip Craig Robotham and has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. This play cannot be reproduced, shared, or performed commercially without the written permission of the author. The production of derivative content, merchandise, or creative works and materials is expressly forbidden under this agreement. However you may share, reproduce, and perform this play freely so long as authorship is acknowledged, no money changes hands, and the play is not modified in any way.