Gallows by Cam Neely
Che................................ 13-15 years old
Guy..................................... Mid Twenties
Setting: Europe Mid 18th century.
Scene: Guy is tied to a bench next to a wall. He is sitting patiently; thinking to himself. He is wearing some kind of prison uniform. Che, sweeping, comes in from U.L.. The room is very grey, mellow and depressing. The walls are slightly dirty and the bench is old and seems on the verge of breaking.
Che. Today your day? (Che leans on his broom.)
Che. I mean, off to the gallows, that today?
Guy. Not sure.
Che. How could you not be sure?
Guy. They never told me.
Che. They never told you when you would die?
Guy. Is that so strange?
Che. Yes, yes it is. (Che places his broom against the wall and stands next to the bench.)
Guy. Well, it happens all the time
Che. I thought they were supposed to-
Guy. No, they don’t have to. Their only job is to put you behind the bars.
Che. That’s inhuman.
Guy. Heh. . . Humanism is for the innocent.
Che. And that’s cruel.
Guy. I suppose, but it’s not the definition.
Che. What does it matter if there is a definition? Cruelty is cruelty.
Guy. And what law is there against it?
Guy. For regular citizens, but not for the men who enforce the law.
Che. Well. . . that just seems wrong for them to abuse the law they write.
Guy. They’re not the hypocrites who write the law. They are selected and paid by those hypocrites. They would lose their occupation if they were not to follow the double standard of their work.
Che. That’s just silly.
Guy. How so?
Che. I would’ve said that it’s wrong but you’ve never let me get away with that yet.
Guy. You should’ve, I’d ‘ve agreed. (Che Smiles and gives a laugh under his breath.)
Che. That’s a first. (Guy Smiles and gives a laugh under his breath.)
Guy. You’re a wise boy you, know that? You’ve potential for great things. I wish I’d have known you earlier.
Che. Thank you. You are quite a teacher. If the schools were lead by ones as you maybe my parents would send me.
Guy. I see. It’s too bad that you don’t go to school. An education isn’t necessary but many men don’t live well without it.
Che. Did you have one?
Guy. No. My parents hadn’t the money or time.
Che. Like mine. . . . Are they still alive?
Guy. No, my father died at war and my mother died of pneumonia.
Che. That’s too bad.
Guy. It’s not. My father was a drunk and my mother beat my sister and me.
Che. You shouldn’t be so cruel. They were your parents.
Guy. That’s the old way of thinking. We’ll never get anywhere with that attitude.
Che. It’s not about a way of thinking; it’s about family bonds.
Guy. Family bonds only last so long.
Che. Well, then, what about your sister, I mean you said you had one.
Guy. Yes, it slipped. I don’t know what happened to her; she left my life a while ago. She was my younger sister. She had golden hair. Her smile was friendly, but she didn’t smile often.(Guy pauses for a moment) After our mother died I had a hard time making sure we stayed in livable conditions. She eventually turned to prostitution. Near the same time I was forced into service. Last time I read a letter from her she was heading to America. I have no idea if she made it. (Neither speak for a moment.)
Che. That’s very sad. We’re you two close?
Guy. Not really. We shared a loose bond but we never really had a true connection or a developed sense of loyalty.
Che. That’s too bad.
Che. No wonder you’re so bitter.
Guy. My feelings aren’t inspired from family relations.
Che. Then what inspired them?
Guy. Our leaders.
Che. They try to help us.
Guy. They help themselves.
Che. They do what they can.
Guy. They do what they want.
Che. Maybe they can’t help everybody but they help ensure peace.
Guy. Have you ever been to war, boy?
Che. No, I’m too young for the military.
Guy. If you ever fight you’ll know what I mean. On the battlefield, it’s men walking to their slaughter, and it doesn’t bring peace; only more war and hatred.
Che. Wars stop.
Guy. For those caught in the cross fire it’s not anytime soon.
Che. But it does end.
Guy. Not ‘till the next one starts.
Che. That’s a bleak outlook.
Guy. It’s a bleak topic.
Che. Even so.
Guy. Child, where are you from, I mean, what home land?
Che. I’m Italian.
Guy. You’re guappo?
Che. Yes, if you wish to put it rudely.
Guy. Let me guess: you’re parents are filthy squatting beggars, and that’s why they can’t send you to get an education?
Che. Don’t you dare disrespect my parents like that.
Guy. You can’t do anything, you filthy guappo. You and your poor immigrant parents are scum.
Che. I can watch you die!
Guy. You get that pleasure regardless. (Guy Smiles.)
Che. You’re sick.
Guy. And a hangman’s noose is my cure?
Che. I’m not like you.
Guy. You will be.
Guy. You will. (Che doesn’t respond, instead he stares at Guy with the intention to hit him. Guy sits back and smiles up at Che.)
Che. Before I forget—so that I’m not lost in your conversation again. . . . What’d you do?
Che. To be sent to the gallows, what did you do?
Guy. Not everyone commits a crime.
Che. Yes they do.
Guy. No, sometimes if you look like the wrong person you’re off to hang.
Che. But what about the courts? Aren’t they there to stop the innocent from being killed?
Guy. Some are corrupt, but not everyone goes to the courts.
Che. Did you?
Che. So they found you and locked you up?
Guy. Yeah, that’s about it.
Che. What do you mean “about it?”
Guy. Well, there was this big cruel looking man who tried to get me to confess. . . . I didn’t, but they don’t care.
Che. Surely the constables aren’t allowed to do that.
Guy. As long as it doesn’t affect the politicians they can do what they want.
Che. I’m sure you did something wrong.
Guy. Boy, living is against the law; we all do something wrong.
Che. Not everyone.
Guy. Whether it’s god’s law or man’s doing simply anything breaks it.
Che. I’m sure they have a reason for locking you up.
Guy. Like I said, I just looked like the wrong person.
Che. So, you didn’t commit the crime.
Guy. It doesn’t matter if I committed the crime or not. They wouldn’t hear my voice.
Guy. Because they need someone to be guilty.
Che. So, are you guilty?
Guy. It doesn’t matter.
Che. Why wouldn’t it matter?
Guy. It’s not why I’m here today.
Che. Why are you here?
Guy. For a greater purpose.
Che. What would that be?
Guy. You wouldn’t understand.
Guy. You’re too young.
Che. I’m not that young.
Guy. You are.
Che. Well, am I too young to know if you’re guilty or innocent?
Guy. Like I said, it doesn’t matter.
Che. How couldn’t it matter? If an innocent man dies it’s a tragedy.
Guy. Even if you could convince them I innocent they would still hang me.
Guy. Because someone needs to be guilty.
Che. Why would someone need to be guilty?
Guy. I’m accused of murdering of a very important person. Her father doesn’t care who did it, he just wants one of us to pay.
Che. That’s disgusting. Wait, did you murder The Duchess Elena?
Guy. They seem to think so.
Che. But did you kill her?
Guy. It isn’t relevant.
Che. How couldn’t it be?
Guy. You couldn’t understand.
Che. Yes I can!
Guy. You already don’t (Guy smiles, footsteps begin to sound from offstage)
Che. Then you’re off to hang today?
Guy. I suppose.
Che. Why are you smiling when you’re the one who’s going to die?
Guy. I’ll tell you when I get back. (Enter two large men in uniform, one of them unties Guy from the bench and takes him away while the other man tells Che to leave.)