Prelude 02: “Blindsights”

Prelude 02: "Blindsights" The Sheridan Tapes

Support TST Season 3 Here: https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/sheridantapes3 CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of violence and death including gunfire, hanging, and head trauma, loud noises, coughing, choking, and disturbing elementsJune 17, 1882: A blind gunslinger, fleeing his violent past, finds solace in the small town of Santa Lucia… but when a gang of outlaws appears in town, he must defend the place and the people he's come to call home.Starring Jesse Steele as Jacob, Maurice Cooper as Sam Walsh, Jeff Frome as Cyrus Pierson, Mike Kennedy as Rueter, Chris Martin as the Sheriff, Susan Dalian as Caitlyn Dunn, and Charles Scatolini as Tolbert, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written and produced by Trevor Van Winkle, and made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner.For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit homesteadonthecorner.com/tstP02Support this show http://supporter.acast.com/sheridantapes. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/SheridanTapes.

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CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of violence and death including gunfire, hanging, and head trauma, loud noises, coughing, choking, and disturbing elements

June 17, 1882: A blind gunslinger, fleeing his violent past, finds solace in the small town of Santa Lucia… but when a gang of outlaws appears in town, he must defend the place and the people he’s come to call home.

Starring Jesse Steele as Jacob, Maurice Cooper as Sam Walsh, Jeff Frome as Cyrus Pierson, Mike Kennedy as Rueter, Chris Martin as the Sheriff, Susan Dalian as Caitlyn Dunn, and Charles Scatolini as Tolbert, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written and produced by Trevor Van Winkle, and made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner.

For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit thesheridantapes.com

Script

Transcript

CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of violence and death including gunfire, hanging, and head trauma, loud noises, coughing, choking, and disturbing elements

[A dry wind rattles dead leaves]

[Owls hoot some ways off]

[Two horses walk over the dry ground, closer and closer until coming to a halt]

[A church bell rings in the distance]

[Someone swings out of the saddle, boots grinding in the dirt]

Eckart (whispered)

How long?

Jacob (whispered)

Town like this? Five minutes, tops.

Eckart (whispered)

That’s opt’mistic.

Jacob (whispered)

Oh, you know how these people think: turn the other cheek, and all that. Get ‘em scared enough and they’ll let me walk off with their wedding silver. Nothin’ easier.

Eckart (whispered)

Dunn won’t be happy about that.

Jacob (whispered)

Dunn can kiss my wrinkly backside. We haven’t had an easy score in two years on account of her.

Eckart (whispered)

Shouldn’t talk about the boss that way, Jake.

Jacob (whispered)

Oh come on, Eckart! It’s not like anyone can hear us! Five minutes! I get in, find the best target, and then I’m out. Simple.

Eckart (whispered)

I still don’t like it…

Jacob (whispered)

…And that’s why I’m not asking your opinion. I mean, just look at this place! What’s the worst that can happen?

[Jacob turns and marches off]

[An owl lands on a nearby tree, hooting]

Eckart (whispered)

Think this’ll end well?

[The owl hoots once, then flies off]

Nah. Didn’t think so.

[Opening Theme]

[A quiet evening in the bar – very quiet]

[A creaky pair of batwing doors swing open]

Jacob

Hello! Anybody home?

[There’s no answer]

[Jacob saunters forward, tapping his fingers against the bar. It sounds hollow]

Hmm. Nice.

[He meanders further down the room]

At least its clean. Better than most saloons I’ve seen out…

[He stops mid-step]

Well… hello there, beautiful.

[He takes a few steps forward]

Now what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?

[Jacob depresses a key on the upright piano in front of him]

[A soulful note escapes into the silence]

Jacob

Holy shit, you’re still in tune?

Sam

Of course she is.

Jacob

Ah!

[Jacob jumps back from the piano, drawing his pistol instinctively]

And I would appreciate it if you didn’t touch.

Jacob

I… damn, you’re one sneaky sunuvabitch. (holstering gun) I didn’t even see you come in.

Sam

I could say the same.

[Sam plays the same note]

Hmm.

Jacob

What do you mean, you could say the same?

Sam

You play?

Jacob

What? Oh. Well, I uh, used to. A long time ago. Back east. Never seen a piece like this out here, though. (beat) It’s… it’s Beautiful.

Sam

Is she?

[He plays some chords]

Huh. Suppose she is.

[Sam sits down on the bench and begins to play a slow, emotional western tune]

Jacob

Damn, you’re not even looking at the keys.

Hey I’m uh, looking for the barkeeper. You know where I can find him?

[Sam begins to play louder, punctuating the notes harshly]

Hello? Can you hear me? I said I’m looking for…

Cyrus

For goodness’ sake Sam, I’m here, I’m here! I’m not half as deaf as… Oh! Sorry, I didn’t hear you come in. Welcome to Santa Lucia, stranger.

Jacob

Why thank you, Mister…

Cyrus

Pierson. Cyrus Pierson.

Jacob

Thanks Cyrus. Sorry to intrude – it looks like you were having a quiet evening…

Cyrus

Not at all! Not at all! Here, take a seat at the bar.

Jacob

You’re too kind.

[A wooden stool scrapes back]

I don’t want to trouble you, but I was just riding by when…

Cyrus

Want something to drink?

Jacob

What? No, but thank you. See, my horse…

Cyrus

Are you sure? There’s some very nice bourbon going to waste back here.

Sam

Cyrus…

Cyrus

Kentucky straight. Bought it off a traveling salesman who came through last month. Been saving it for a special occasion.

Jacob

Oh, well in that case, I think I will have a drink.

Cyrus

Excellent!

[Cyrus opens the bottle and pours a glass, setting it on the table in front of Jacob]

[Jacob picks it up]

Jacob

Salud.

Cyrus

And good health to you as well.

[Jacob takes a sip]

Jacob

Now, as I was saying, my horse…

[Coughs]

Oof… Whatever that salesman told you, that’s not Kentucky straight.

Cyrus

No?

Jacob

I don’t think it’s even whiskey. Phew. Anyway, like I was saying, my horse…

Cyrus

Oh, it must have thrown a shoe out on the road. It’s terribly uneven on the way up the mountain you know, especially right after the snow melts. It’s a shame. Spring’s one of the most beautiful seasons up here.

Jacob 

Uh… yeah. That’s what he did. The horse threw a shoe.

Cyrus

Well, we’ll just have to find you a place to stay tonight… and somewhere for your poor horse! Were you coming to visit someone? Relatives at the tin mine, maybe?

Jacob

What? No, no I wasn’t coming to visit anyone.

Cyrus

Really? Then what were you doing out on the road?

Jacob

I was, uh… just passing through. You know how it is.

Cyrus

Ah, yeah. You must’ve gotten lost on the main road.

Jacob

Why would you think I was lost?

[Cyrus begins rummaging behind the bar]

Cyrus

Well, this road dead-ends in town, and there’s nowhere else to go from here.

Jacob

Oh. Right.

Cyrus

We don’t get many visitors, and most of them end up here on accident. After all, that’s how Sam over there ended up in Santa Lucia — he couldn’t see the sign, and his horse went the wrong way.

Jacob

What’s his problem, anyway?

Cyrus

Well he’s just had a bad go of life. Terrible trouble and hard choices, like everyone else… though most of his ended badly. And he does have the personality of a cactus, which hardly helps…

Jacob

No, I mean… his eyes.

Cyrus

Eyes? Oh. Right. Well, I suppose you could say he’s… well, he’s blind.

Jacob

Really? How’d that happen?

Cyrus

If only I knew. Happened a while ago, back when he was still running with the old outlaws up in the Sierra.

Jacob

Really?

Cyrus

Yeah, the Rueter gang, I think it was.

[Jacob’s glass slips in his hand]

Jacob

Really?

Cyrus

Well, he did tell me that a long time ago. Maybe I’m not remembering right.

[Jacob clears his throat]

Jacob

May… maybe not.

Cyrus

Well, however you arrived, you’re here, and we’ll need to find you somewhere to sleep tonight.

Jacob

I was actually hoping I could uh, stay here? You know, if that isn’t asking too much.

Cyrus

Of course! Mind you, the rooms upstairs are a bit drafty, and it’s still awfully cold at nights…

Jacob

I’d feel safer here anyway. I mean, you seem like a decent fellow.

Cyrus

Safer than what?

Jacob

Well, you know how it is. Go to sleep in a stranger’s house, you think you’re safe, and then you wake up with your throat cut and the guy who’s done it’s walking off with all your earthly goods.

Cyrus

Oh. I suppose that… makes sense.

Jacob

Can’t be too careful these days, you know.

Cyrus

Right. Well, if you’d follow me, I’ll just show you to your…

[Revolver cocking]

[Sam isn’t playing the piano anymore]

Sam

Cyrus, take three steps back.

Cyrus

Sam? 

Sam

Cyrus. Three steps.

[Cyrus hesitates, then takes three slow steps backwards]

Sam 

Good. Now then, on the subject of caution…

Jacob

Are you insane? Put that down before you hurt someone!

Sam

Don’t worry. I’m only going to hurt someone if that someone doesn’t keep his hands still.

Jacob

What? What are you talking about, my hands are…

Cyrus (whispered)

I wouldn’t lie to him if I were you, son.

Jacob (whispered)

You said he was blind!

Sam

I am. Your jacket creaks every time you move. You really should take better care of it.

Jacob

Oh, that’s some bullshit…

Cyrus

Let’s all just – take it easy.

Jacob

Oh, come on, don’t tell me you believe he can hear…!

Sam

I think your five minutes are up, Jacob.

[Silence]

Jacob

How… how did you know my name?

[Sam doesn’t answer]

You were out there in the woods, weren’t you! Listening in on us! You sneaky blind sunuva…

[Sam shifts his aim and fires]

[The bottle of “whiskey” shatters]

Sam

Reach for that pistol again, and I’ll put two in your heart.

Jacob

YOU IDIOT! You almost shot me!

Cyrus

Listen Jacob, if Sam almost wanted to shoot you, you’d have a bullet in your knee right now. That was a warning.

Jacob

Are you both insane? He’s BLIND! How could he possibly…

[Sam’s aim shifts again]

[The glass on the table explodes]

Cyrus

You were saying?

Jacob

How in hell did you…!?

Sam

You dropped that glass there a minute ago. Pretty loudly, I might add. Now… have I made my point?

Jacob

Yes!

Sam

Then I suggest you and Eckart ride out of town the way you came. And don’t try circling back. I’ll know.

[With that, Sam sits down at the piano and begins playing]

[Jacob rises, seething]

Jacob

You think you’ll get away with this?

[Sam doesn’t respond]

Oh, I get it. You think I’m scared. You think I’m…

[Sam turns slightly on the bench]

[Jacob yelps, ducking]

[Sam turns and continues playing]

This isn’t over, you hear? No one insults the Dunn gang! No one!

Cyrus

I think he hears you just fine, mister Jacob. Now, if you wouldn’t mind…

Jacob

Get your wrinkly old hands off me! Oh, don’t think you’re safe because you gave me some shitty moonshine. I’m going to burn this place down when I come back, you understand? BURN IT TO THE GROUND!

[Sam stops playing]

[Long, tense silence]

Cyrus

Yeah. I understand. Have a pleasant ride home, Jacob.

[Jacob scoffs, turns, and marches out the door]

[Cyrus goes to the table and picks up a piece of a bottle]

Cyrus 

Waste of good bourbon!

Sam

It wasn’t bourbon, Cy.

Cyrus

Oh. Right.

[Music]

[A washed out, echoing soundscape. Voices drift in and out]

Rueter

…bright young man like you deserves better than a deputies badge…

Sheriff

…Sam! They’re coming for him…!

Rueter

…I’m going to get out of here anyway, you know…

Sheriff

…think they can just ride into this town and take whatever they want…

Rueter

…may as well make the most of the situation…

[A cell door unlocks and swings open]

Sheriff

…Sam! What are you doing…?

[The sheriff grunts, then groans on the floor]

Rueter

…here Sam – show us what you’ve got…

Sheriff

…No… Sam, please, don’t…

[GUNFIRE shatters the dream]

[Sam sits bolt upright, panting and trying to catch his breath]

[The door bursts open]

Cyrus

Sam? Sam, are you alright?

Sam

I… I’m alright. Just another dream.

Cyrus

A dream about…?

Sam

That’s none of your business, Pierson.

Cyrus

You only call me that when you don’t want to talk.

Sam

And yet, you never seem to take the hint…

Cyrus

If I did, then you and I would never have started speaking at all.

[Sam considers that a moment, then answers]

Sam

I was back in Bodie. Before… before. First time I met Reuter. First time I…

Cyrus

The first time you killed someone.

Sam

Yeah.

Cyrus

You want to talk about it?

Sam

Still not there yet, Cy. Sorry.

Cyrus

That’s not what I…

[Pauses, then sits down on the bed]

You haven’t shot at anyone since you came here. Just those targets you set up behind the bar. And when Jacob comes back…

Sam

If he comes back…

Cyrus

When. You know these kinds of people better than I do. Do you think this Dunn will just turn the other cheek?

Sam

No.

Cyrus

No. We need to be ready. And if that means fighting…

Sam

Cyrus… I’m blind.

Cyrus

“And I will bring the blind by a way they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known.”

Sam

Look Cyrus, I’ve been listening to your spiel the last five years now. I seriously doubt God’s going to pick this moment to start handing out miracles.

Cyrus

I didn’t say he would. But he makes a way. He always does.

Sam

Not always.

[Sam lies back down on the bed]

[Silence]

Cyrus

Do you think you’ll be able to get back to sleep?

[Sam scoffs]

Sam

What do you think?

[Cyrus turns and opens a nearby drawer]

[Pages flip]

Cyrus

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples said unto him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, I will not believe.” And after eight days the disciples were again within, and Thomas was with them.

Then came Jesus and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be unto you.” Then said He to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands.” And Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said unto him, “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed. Blessed are those that have not seen, and yet believe.”

[Music – the scene shifts]

[A gentle wind blows down the mountains]

[Mules fidget nervously, braying occasionally]

[Silence]

Sam

This is a bad idea.

Cyrus

It was your idea!

Sam

No, my idea was to run. You wanted to stay.

Cyrus

I built that bar with my own two hands! I’m not going to let them burn it down.

Sam

Still. This isn’t going to end well.

Cyrus

You’re probably right. You know, times like this, I actually wish we had a sheriff.

Sam

Did you close the shutters down there like I asked?

Cyrus

What? Oh, Yeah. It’s so dark in the sanctuary I almost couldn’t find my way back up.

Sam

And everyone else?

Cyrus

Hiding in the mines, just like you said. Though if they have to wait much longer, it’ll get awfully cold up there.

Sam

Not as cold as they’d be otherwise.

Cyrus

Oh.

[A long ways off, the pounding of horse hooves is heard]

Sam

They’re coming.

Cyrus

What? I don’t see anyone.

Sam

Huh. I guess… Is the sun setting?

Cyrus

Yes, it is. Rather beautiful tonight, actually.

Sam

They’re riding out of the sun. You figure Jacob forgot to tell them that I’m blind?

[Cyrus chuckles]

Cyrus

He probably left that little detail out.

[The horses are getting louder]

[Whoosh]

[Sam’s heartbeat is heard, slowing as the sounds of individual hoofbeats separate]

[Whoosh]

Sam 

I count eight.

Cyrus

Eight? For this town?

Sam

That’s what I’m hearing. Two at the front and three riders on either side. Can you see them yet?

Cyrus

No, I… wait. Yeah! There they are!

Sam

Keep your voice down!

[The horses grow louder as the gang rushes down the street]

[The horses stop]

Dunn

Hello? Anybody home?

Sam

That’s Dunn.

Cyrus

Really? Not what I was expecting…

Sam

It’s her.

[The batwings open, and someone walks out of the bar]

Jacob

Who the hell are you?

Dunn

Now now, Jacob, let’s try to be polite.

Good evening, sir!

Tolbert

Evening.

Dunn

I was wondering if you might be able to help us? We’re looking for the barkeeper?

Tolbert

Ja? You and me both. Can’t a man at least get a drink in this town at the end of a long day of work?

Dunn

Now what could you mean by that?

Tolbert

I mean, I have been looking all over town for Cyrus and his lackey. Not a sight of them anywhere.

Sam (whispered)

Tolbert’s laying it on a bit thick.

Dunn

Any idea where they might be? If they were to, I don’t know, decide to skip town?

Tolbert

Nien. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a liquor cabinet at home that requires my immediate attention…

[Dunn draws her gun, aims, and fires]

[The warning shot glances off the church bell next to Sam]

[He cries out in pain]

Cyrus

Sam! Are you alright?

Jacob

What was that?

TOLBERT

Verdammt! Why are you shooting at me…!

Dunn

Quiet!

[Silence falls in the street, except the ringing of the bell]

Rueter

It came from the church tower, boss.

[Sam gasps in recognition]

[The ringing in Sam’s ears increases]

[The scene shifts]

[Vultures circling overhead]

[Footsteps through sand]

[Sam stumbles, collapsing with a grunt]

[He scrambles for a canteen, unscrews the lid, and gulps down water]

Sam

And that’s… the last of it. Great.

[A ways off, horses whinny]

Sam 

Shit.

[Fumbling, he screw the lid back on his canteen, then stands and runs]

[He stumbles again]

[The horses are almost on top of him]

[He draws his pistol]

[BANG. A cry of pain from the left]

[BANG. A horse brays and falls, throwing its rider]

[BANG. His shot whistles in the air, going wide]

[BANG. He hits home, sending a rider tumbling]

[BANG. One of the riders pulls out a whip and strikes Sam’s gun hand]

[Sam cries out in pain as he drops the gun]

Rueter

Well well well, Sam. I must say… I am impressed.

Sam

Fuck off, Rueter.

[Men laugh behind them]

Rueter

You always were a prickly son of a bitch.

Sam

Just get it over with, Rueter.

Rueter

Why so eager, Sam? Feeling a little guilty for ratting us all out?

Sam

You shot a kid!

Rueter

They got in the way.

Sam

So you killed them?

Rueter

So what? You never complained before. People get hurt all the time in our line of work. That’s just business.

Sam

Maybe for the rest of us. But I saw your face this time. The way you smiled. You enjoyed it.

Rueter

Oh, grow up Sam. Why do you think we’re all doing this? You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t enjoy it just a little bit, deep down inside.

[Silence]

[Sam sighs]

Sam

If you’re going to shoot me, shoot me. At least then I won’t have to listen to your bullshit anymore.

[Rueter chuckles, menacing]

Rueter

Shoot you? Oh no, Sam, I’m not going to shoot you.

[Rueter leans in, whispering]

I’m going to hang you.

Sam

What?

[Before he can react, a noose is dropped over his head]

[He grabs for it, but it’s pulled tight]

[The rope creaks, and Sam gasps for breath]

[The other bandits laugh]

Rueter

There. That’s better. Hope you don’t mind if I just leave you here, Sam. I know how much you hate to be alone.

Sam (choking]

Wait…

[Sam gasps, struggling at the rope]

[The ringing in his ears grows louder and louder]

[The scene shifts back]

[The church bell is still ringing]

Cyrus

Sam…?

[Sam stands, draws his pistol, and fires six shots in rapid success]

Jacob

There, in the tower — AH!

Rueter

Get down!

[The few remaining bandits scramble for cover, then begin firing]

[Sam ducks, opens the cylinder, and begins reloading]

Sam

How many?

Cyrus

Christ alive…!

Sam

How many are left?

Cyrus

Only… only three, I think. How…?

Sam

Dammit, I missed one.

Cyrus

How did you do that?

Sam

They’re noisy. Where’s Tolbert?

Cyrus

I… I don’t know. I think he got away.

Dunn (calling up)

Hey! You in the bell tower!

Sam (calling down)

Yeah?

Dunn (calling up)

I hope you know I’m going to kill you for that.

Sam (calling down)

Oh yeah? Well I’m going to make you work for it, Dunn!

Dunn (calling up)

So you’re our blind marksman, huh? Heard you used to run with Rueter.

Sam (calling down)

And I hear he’s running with you now. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

Rueter (calling up)

Who the hell are you?

[Sam pops up and fires five shots in the direction of his voice] [Gunfire echoes for a moment]

Someone who isn’t too fond of me, I guess.

[Someone below scrambles forward]

[Sam rises slightly and fires his last round, and Eckart grunts, falling in the dirt]

Sam (calling down)

Now it’s just you, me, and your boss, Rueter.

Rueter (calling up)

She’s not my boss…

Dunn

Rueter, get inside that church and shoot him down!

Rueter

And end up like Eckart? No, I’m good here, thanks.

[Dunn fires at the church bell]

[Sam yells in pain again as it rings out]

Dunn

GO!

[Rueter runs for the chapel]

[The ringing in Sam’s skull is almost unbearable]

Cyrus

Sam? Sam, are you alright?

Sam

I… I’m fine. Just… help me down from here…

[Cyrus lifts the trap door and helps Sam to the stairs]

[The sound of the ringing bell fades]

[Sam and Cyrus stumble down the stairs]

[Below them, the church doors creak open]

Sam (whispered)

Wait… wait!

Cyrus (whispered)

What is it?

[Sam listens for a moment]

[He hears two sets of hurried footsteps]

Sam (whispered)

They’re inside. Both of them.

Cyrus (whispered)

Oh god…

Sam (whispered)

Get out of here. Use the back boor. If I’m not out in ten minutes, take my horse and run. Don’t let them see you.

Cyrus (whispered)

I’m not going anywhere.

Sam (whispered)

Yes, you are.

Cyrus (whispered)

I’m not leaving you here!

Sam (whispered)

Pierson! I’m not giving you a choice.

Cyrus (whispered)

You’re blind!

Sam (whispered)

And with the shutters closed, so are Dunn and Rueter.

Cyrus (whispered)

And if they open the shutters?

[Sam raises his pistol, cocking it]

Cyrus (whispered)

Uh, Sam… why are you pointing that gun at me?

Sam (whispered)

Like I said. I’m not giving you a choice.

[A long silence]

Cyrus (whispered)

You really are a stubborn fool, Sam.

Sam (whispered)

I learned from the best.

[Cyrus turns and walks slowly away]

[Sam pauses, then listens]

[TWO SETS OF FOOTSTEPS IN THE CHAPEL: One heavy, the other light and stealthy]

[They both stop]

[A MATCH IS LIT]

[Sam raises his gun]

[A CANDLE FLAME FLICKERS TO LIFE]

[The amplified sound fades, and Sam pulls the trigger]

[BANG]

[Rueter jumps back]

Rueter

What the hell…!

Dunn

Did you see that?

Rueter

Kind of hard to miss!

Dunn

He shot the candle in half…

Rueter

Yeah, and he’s going to shoot us next!

Dunn

Who the hell is this guy?

Rueter

He’s… Oh no!

Sam (echoing)

Figured it out, Rueter?

[Dunn and Rueter raise their guns at the same time]

Dunn (whispered)

Where is he?

Rueter

I don’t know…

Sam (echoing)

Funny thing, ain’t it? Having your sight taken from you….

Rueter

It can’t be…

Dunn

Rueter, what the hell’s going on here?

Rueter

I tied the noose myself – I watched you die.

Sam (echoing)

I got better.

Rueter

How in the hell…

Dunn

Rueter, I don’t care about whoever it is you didn’t kill back in the day. Bring him to me. Alive.

Rueter

Yes… boss.

[Rueter raises his pistol and marches into the dark]

[Much more quietly, Dunn sneaks away]

[Rueter takes a few steps, then stops]

[Rueter scoffs]

Rueter

Come on Walsh. If you were just going to shoot me, you’d have done it already. Come on out where I can see you.

Sam (echoing)

I don’t think so.

[Rueter chuckles]

Rueter

Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be a fair fight if I could see you and you couldn’t see me.

Sam (echoing)

No. It wouldn’t be.

Rueter

Jesus. Sam Walsh. Never thought I’d be having this conversation. How’d you manage to get out of that desert alive?

Sam (echoing)

Luck. Luck, and a six shooter.

[Rueter scoffs]

Rueter

You were always too good with that thing. Should’ve grabbed it before I left. Easy mistake.

But how the hell did you get off that rope in the first place? You have a knife on you or something?

Sam (echoing)

I… I…

Rueter

You what?

Sam (echoing)

The rope just… broke.

Rueter

Like hell it did.

Sam (echoing)

That’s what happened.

Rueter

You sure about that?

[Sam doesn’t answer]

You always were a moody prick, Walsh.

Sam (echoing)

I don’t have anything else to say to you.

Rueter

Then why am I still standing here?

[Another silence]

Rueter

You still can’t do it, can you? Can’t shoot someone down in cold blood – not even someone who already tried to kill you. Pathetic.

Sam

No.

[Sam steps forward]

Rueter

There you are.

Sam

I’m not pathetic. You are.

Rueter

Excuse me?

Sam

Maxwell Rueter, terror of the Eastern Sierra. Taking orders from some upstart bandit no one’s ever heard of.

[Rueter raises his gun]

Rueter

Shut up.

Sam

I wonder… just how much do you hate yourself every time you have to call her boss…?

Rueter

I didn’t have a choice! Everything went to shit after you…

Lost the whole gang in a Pinkerton ambush. Rest of us had to push north. We were completely out of money by the time we found Dunn.

Sam

And she took you in? How sweet.

[Rueter cocks his gun]

Sam 

Ah, wait… Boss wants me alive, remember?

Rueter

I might just forget that little order if you don’t shut up.

Sam

Come on, Max – you really think you can pull that trigger before I shoot you down?

[Rueter’s gun shifts]

Rueter

Let’s find out.

[BANG… From across the sanctuary]

[Rueter cries out, then drops]

[Sam turns, pistol raised]

Sam

Dunn!

Dunn (echoing)

Oh, sorry, were you hoping to kill him? How rude of me.

[Sam fires in the direction of her voice. Something on the altar shatters]

Dunn (echoing)

Oh! You’re cold! You’re very, very cold.

[Sam spins around and FIRES AGAIN]

[A window shatters and the shutter swings open]

Dunn (echoing)

Well look at that… now I can see you.

Sam

Where are you?

Dunn (echoing)

The better question is… where’s your friend?

Sam

Cyrus?

Dunn (echoing)

Is that his name? Well, tell him to lose some weight. It’s very hard to drag him around like this.

Sam

WHAT!?

Dunn (echoing)

Oh, I’m sorry… was he supposed to get away without me noticing?

[Dunn tuts, stepping into the light]

Dunn

I’m not half as blind as those idiots who worked for me.

Sam

If you’ve hurt him in any way…

Dunn

Just a little bump on the head – enough to make sure he doesn’t interrupt us while we have a little chat.

Sam

I’ve got nothing to say to you.

Dunn

Really? Pity. I was hoping your friend might live through this. Oh well…

[Dunn cocks her gun]

Sam

Wait! Wait! I… I’ll listen.

Dunn

Huh. I thought you’d make the smart move.

Sam

What do you want?

Dunn

I want you to work for me.

Sam

What?

Dunn

Well I’m going to need a new gun-hand, what with Rueter pushing up the daisies.

Sam

Not a chance.

Dunn

Oh for godssake Sam, don’t be so naive. You think you belong in a town like this? With your talents?

Sam

I’m not going back.

Dunn

No. You’re not. You’d be going forward. Second in command to Catelyn Dunn. Your friend only hated it because he didn’t know what he had.

Sam

I can’t do that anymore. Not after what I saw.

Dunn

Huh. Then I guess you and the bartender both have to die.

[Sam raises his gun, cocking it]

Sam

Touch a hair on his head and I’ll put a bullet in yours.

Dunn

Really? You think you can hit me without hitting him? He is the wider target by far…

Sam

I can.

[Dunn laughs]

Dunn

Well, this I have to see.

[Dunn grunts as she lifts Cyrus’s body]

Dunn 

Okay… I’m holding your friend out in front of me with my pistol to his head. I’m going to count to ten. If I’m still alive when I reach it – your friend won’t be.

Sam

Don’t try me, Dunn, I…

Dunn

One.

Sam

Dunn…

Dunn

Two.

Sam

Dunn, I’m warning you…

Dunn

Three.

Sam

Even if you shoot him…

Dunn

Oh, I will. Four.

Sam

Even if you do – I’m still going to kill you.

[Dunn hesitates a moment]

Dunn

Five.

Sam

Are you listening to me, Dunn?

Dunn

Six.

Sam

Dunn!

Dunn

Seven.

Sam

DUNN!

Dunn

I’m listening.

Sam

Please don’t do this.

[Dunn waits a moment]

Dunn

Eight.

Sam

Stop this!

Dunn

Nine.

Sam

Dunn!

Dunn

Ten…

Sam

DUNN!!

[TIME SLOWS. Sam’s heart hammers in his ears, then fades. The sound of ringing metal as he raises his gun]

[Water drips somewhere nearby. A bird takes flight. A second of silence stretches into eternity — then Dunn’s heart beats]

[BANG]

[Dunn cries out, tumbling backwards]

[Cyrus drops to the floor]

[Dunn coughs, laughing painfully]

Dunn 

Magnificent.

[Sam drops his gun, rushing over to Cyrus]

Sam

Cyrus? Cyrus, can you hear me? Cyrus!?

[The scene shifts]

[The church bell is ringing outside, a general hubbub as life returns to normal]

[A pocket watch flips open, ticking for a few seconds]

Sam

Is he going to be okay?

Tolbert

His pulse is still slower than I’d like. Dunn gave him a nasty blow on the head.

Sam

But will he…

Tolbert

Yes, Sam. Like I told you before, he will recover, but only with time.

[Sam breathes a sigh of relief]

Tolbert 

Now, if you’ll excuse me… a few other folks have what sounds like the beginnings of bronchitis from hiding in that cave overnight.

[Tolbert closes the pocket watch and gathers his things]

Sam

One question, Doc.

[Tolbert sighs]

Tolbert

Just one?

[Sam hesitates]

Sam

How… how long can someone survive being hanged? If they’re just – left there?

[Tolbert is taken aback at the question, then chuckles]

Tolbert

You know, I always did wonder where those burns on your neck came from.

Sam

Doc…

Tolbert

Entspann dich, Samuel. I won’t ask how it happened – I don’t have the time.

Hmm… theoretically, five minutes or so? After that the loss of blood flow would cause irreparable damage to the brain, and eventually… Are you alright, Sam?

Sam

What? Oh, yeah – fine. You’d best get going.

Tolbert

Oh, ja. Take care, Sam.

Sam

You too, doc. You too.

[Tolbert almost jogs out of the room]

[Sam sits next to Cyrus in silence]

[After a long moment, he stands and walks out without another word]

[Music – the scene shifts]

[A couple of mules bray quietly]

[Footsteps crunch across the hay and dirt until they reach the one horse in the stable]

Sam

Hey there, Ruya girl. Did you miss me?

[Ruya whinnies, then nuzzles him]

Sam 

Whoa, whoa, take it easy – I’m still blind, remember?

[Ruya snorts, as if to say she does]

Sam 

Sorry I left you here so long. Even if the hay was really good.

[Ruya brays quietly, then starts eating the hay]

Sam 

Guess we both got stuck here.

[After a moment, he opens the gate and leads Ruya out]

Sam 

I think it’s about time you and I get back out there. See the world.

[Ruya whinnies, and Sam chuckles]

Sam

You know what I mean.

[Sam swings up into the saddle]

[Ruya trots forward, down the road, and into the unknown]


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