Take the Shot, a Tragic Comedy

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The job of an assassin can be difficult, but even more so when suffering a mental breakdown!

CHARACTERS

MR. GRAY: Hired assassin. Sharpshooter. Former special forces sniper. Average appearance, dressed to fit in with the crowd – sport coat, dockers, mock turtleneck, sneakers.

AL: A drooping Aloe Vera cactus.

COP ONE: Police officer

COP TWO: Police officer

SCENE

Rooftop. City. Sounds of a parade coming from the street below. There’s an Aloe Vera cactus (AL) sitting atop a cinder block just right of center stage. Off to stage left is the roof access door.

AT RISE

Stage is empty, save for AL, sitting on his cinder block. The sounds of the parade come from somewhere in the distance, drawing closer. The roof access door opens. MR. GRAY enters carrying a trombone case. He walks to stage right, where he sets the case down on the precipice and opens it up. He begins to assemble his sniper rifle while whistling If I Only Had a Brain. This takes maybe thirty seconds – he’s fast and efficient.

AL

Hey.

MR. GRAY

(Swings around quickly, bringing the rifle to bear, but doesn’t see anyone.)

Hm.

(Shrugs and goes back to setting the sniper rifle up on its tripod.)

AL

Hey you. Whatcha doin’?

MR. GRAY

(Stands up and spins around again, this time his hand goes inside his coat, presumably to a handgun; looks around, but again sees nobody.)

Who’s there?

AL

Pssst. Down here.

(MR. GRAY lowers his gaze until he sees the cactus. He approaches it slowly, looking around it and its cinder block.)

AL

Short, green, spiky. Come on, dude, I’m totally curious. Whatcha doin’?

MR. GRAY

Goddammit. Not again.

(MR. GRAY stares at the cactus for a few moments, then shakes his head and turns back to the task at hand. He looks over the edge of the building and down the street. AL‘s fronds wiggle.)

AL

Big parade, huh? Bet there’s someone important down there. I mean, that’s why you’re here, right, because there’s some VIP in a convertible, and you’re here to make sure nobody pulls a JFK on him, huh?

MR. GRAY

(Doesn’t look AL‘s way.)

Shut up.

AL

Whoa… grumpy! But I guess that’s what you SWAT guys are like, right? All business, no fun.

MR. GRAY

I said stop talking.

AL

Geez. Whatever.

MR. GRAY

(Kneels down behind his gun and starts adjusting its sights.)

AL

(Speaks quietly.)

Dude, that sure is a cool gun. I can just hear it now.

(Speaks louder, with a deeper voice.)

Headshot! Headshot! Headshot! Headshot!

(Almost shouting.)

UH-UH-UH-UH-UNSTOPPABLE!

MR. GRAY

(Slowly turns his head, glancing back over his shoulder.)

What are you talking about?

AL

Dude! Haven’t you ever played a video game?

(MR. GRAY grunts, then goes back to adjusting his gun’s sights.)

Aww, come on. Video games, you know. Pew pew pew! The again, in your line of work, who needs video games for excitement, right? You get to shoot the—

MR. GRAY

(Sighs, resigned that AL is not going to stop talking.)

I played Pac Man once, when I was young.

AL

(There’s a long silence.)

Pac… er. What’s that?

MR. GRAY

(Actively watching down the road now, peering into the rifle’s scope.)

Pac-Man. Little yellow circle. Maze. Ghosts.

AL

Ghosts! Does it have zombies, too?

MR. GRAY

Just ghosts.

AL

Do you get a special ghost-killing gun to shoot ’em?

MR. GRAY

No.

AL

A hatchet?

MR. GRAY

No.

AL

A holy chainsaw?

MR. GRAY

No chainsaw.

AL

Ooh, one of those neat lightning blasters like that movie with the big, walking marshmallow man and th—

MR. GRAY

No. No weapons.

AL

(Incredulous.)

Then… how do you kill them?

MR. GRAY

Sometimes you eat them.

AL

Dude.

(There’s another long pause.)

Dude. Eat them?

MR. GRAY

(Seems to have loosened up just a little.)

Eat them. The maze is filled with hundreds of little dots that you have to eat to get to the next level. In the corners of the maze are power pellets, and when you eat them, the ghosts change color and become vulnerable.

AL

(There’s yet another long pause.)

Dude. What the hell, man? You play a druggie yellow circle that drops acid so he can eat ghosts? No wonder you’re all Mr. Serious… you gotta be carrying some big-ass mental scars if you played a game like that as a kid.

MR. GRAY

(Tenses again, reminding himself that talking to a cactus is pretty much the definition of “crazy”.)

How about we go back to “Shut up”.

AL

Awww, come on! I’ve never got to hang out with a real cop before. Guns, donuts, badges… you gotta badge, right? Can I see it? Lemme see lemme see lemme-seelemme-see!

MR. GRAY

I don’t have a badge.

AL

Why not?

MR. GRAY

I don’t need a badge.

AL

But all cops need a badg—

(Has a sudden AHA! moment.)

Heeey… you’re not a cop, you’re an ASSASSIN!

MR. GRAY

Be quiet so I can line up a shot.

AL

Whoa. Did Pac-Man do this to you?

MR. GRAY

(Pulls back from the scope.)

What?

AL

I mean, I’d heard video games could desensitize you to violence, but this is pretty extreme. Grand Theft Power Pellet! Dude, you totally need to tell your therapist.

MR. GRAY

I don’t have a therapist.

AL

No wonder you’re so screwed up! Eating ghosts and then not having anyone to tell about it?

MR. GRAY

I don’t need a therapist.

AL

What d’ya mean, man? Everyone needs a therapist, these days. I mean, split personalities, paranoia, narse– narcisi– uh. Having a big ego! Everyone’s got problems.

MR. GRAY

(Angles his gun a little lower, as if he’s following a car.)

I don’t have any of those problems. I don’t need a therapist.

(There is a palpable pause.)

AL

(Slowly, as if he’s measuring out his words.)

Well, you ARE talking to a cactus…

MR. GRAY

Not for long if you don’t shut up.

AL

Ooh, hostility.

MR. GRAY

And violence. I kill people for a living; you don’t think I’ll hesitate to take you out, do you?

AL

Uncool, dude! I’m just havin’ some fun with ya!

(MR. GRAY is back on his feet again in a flash. He spins around, whips out the handgun, cocks the slide, and buries the silenced barrel deep into the Aloe Vera.)

MR. GRAY

(Visibly agitated, voice raised.)

You think this is fun? Is this some kind of game? I’ll blow you away without a second thought!

(MR. GRAY holds the gun to the cactus for a few seconds, but AL doesn’t respond. It doesn’t take MR. GRAY long to realize how silly he looks. He holsters the gun and turns back toward his rifle.)

MR. GRAY

Good riddance.

AL

I’m still here, man.

(MR. GRAY doesn’t respond. He goes back to lining up the shot.)

So, like, this hired killer thing, do you travel much?

(Pause.)

Money good?

(Pause.)

Bet the ladies like it!

(MR. GRAY still doesn’t respond. He looks at his watch.)

Hey, whoa! Can I hire you?

MR. GRAY

(Looks back over his shoulder again.)

What did you say?

AL

Hire you. Can I hire you?

MR. GRAY

What could you possibly want me to do?

AL

Well…

MR. GRAY

(Stands and turns around.)

Come on. Keep going. I could use a laugh.

AL

It’s just that there’s this cute little number one roof over, Vera, but she only has eyes for Ricardo.

MR. GRAY

What are you talking about?

AL

Vera. She’s this, uh, well, dude, she’s like me. Cactus, right? But she has this thing for Venus Fly Traps, and spends all her time wishing they could cross-pollinate. Now normally, I’m not against inter-racial relationships, but a cactus just can’t reproduce with–

MR. GRAY

I can’t believe this.

AL

Yeah! That’s what I thought! I mean, he totally eats FLIES!

MR. GRAY

(Sinks to the rooftop, leaning against the wall by his gun, and drops his head into hands.)

I’m going insane.

AL

Come on, it can’t be that bad.

MR. GRAY

I’m talking to a cactus–

AL

I already pointed that out…

MR. GRAY

–who just tried to hire me–

AL

Just need to know your rates!

MR. GRAY

–to kill a Venus Fly Trap.

AL

Totally! I was thinking poisoned flies! You do use poisons sometimes, right? I mean, what kind of boring assassin would you be if all you did was BANG BANG BLAM BLAM?

MR. GRAY

(Muttering now, as he crawls back around to his knees to look down the scope of his rifle.)

Just need to finish this job. Go home. Get a nap.

AL

(Cautiously.)

So is that a “no”?

MR. GRAY

(Sounds like he’s on the verge of a breakdown.)

Just need to take the shot…

AL

I mean, I’m sure we can work something out…

(MR. GRAY pulls the trigger. There is the sound of a bullet ricocheting off metal, followed by a single scream, then the sounds of general panic. Sirens can be heard below. MR. GRAY stares into the scope, frozen in place. He can’t believe what’s just happened.)

Dude. Did you get him?

(Pause.)

Headshot?

MR. GRAY

(Stands slowly.)

I missed.

AL

What do you mean?

MR. GRAY

I mean I didn’t hit my target.

AL

Whoa. Missed? You know, this whole assassin thing? You kinda suck.

MR. GRAY

That’s never happened before. I’ve never missed.

AL

Dude. Never? Then it was bound to happen sooner or later. I mean, it happens to everyone, right?

MR. GRAY

Not in this business. And not to me.

AL

Aww, come on. It’s like premature pollination. It happens. You’re just not on your game. Now you gotta g–

MR. GRAY

This is YOUR fault!

(MR. GRAY turns, furious. He stalks to AL’s cinder block and lifts the pot holding the cactus.)

AL

Dude, don’t do anything stupid.

(MR. GRAY is chuckling softly. As he walks toward the edge of the building, he lifts AL over his head, and the laughter becomes louder, more maniacal.)

AL

You don’t know what you’re doing, man!

(MR. GRAY stands at the edge of the building. He’s going to throw AL to the street below! He’s no longer laughing, but he has a huge, crazy grin across his face.)

AL

This isn’t the way you want it to end, bro! We can get you counseling!

(MR. GRAY chucks the pot over the precipice. AL can be heard screaming all the way down. There’s a THUD! as he hits, but we don’t hear the pot he’s in shatter.)

MR. GRAY

(Takes a deep breath.)

Finally. He’s gone.

(Begins to whistle If I Only Had a Brain as he takes a couple steps toward stage center.)

(The roof-access door opens. In walk COP ONE and COP TWOMR. GRAY is caught, and he knows it. He holds out his hands, expecting to be cuffed, but the police officers walk past him, one to either side.)

COP ONE

(Picks up the sniper rifle.)

Here’s the gun. Where’s the shooter?

(Not believing his luck, MR. GRAY starts to sneak toward the roof-access door.)

COP TWO

(Looks over the edge.)

Found him. Jumper

(MR. GRAY freezes.)

COP ONE

(Joins partner in looking over the edge.)

Huh. What’s that he’s holding.

COP TWO

I dunno. Looks like a plant. A potted plant. Maybe a cactus?

COP ONE

(Turns and walks toward the roof-access door, passing MR. GRAY.)

Just another weird one for the books.

(Looks at watch.)

Would you look at that? Shift’s about up. How about we get CSU up here and go grab a brew?

COP TWO

Hell yeah. A cold one sounds good right about now.

(COP ONE and COP TWO disappear into the roof-access door. MR. GRAY slowly makes his way to the precipice and looks over the edge of the building. He stands there, both hands on the wall, for a few moments, gawking. He can’t believe what he’s seeing, then turns, sinking to the rooftop, back against the wall, head in his hands.)

(Curtain.)

Simon Hawk
Chief Diversionist
Simon Hawk is a thinker, writer, satirist, and full-time oddball. As Chief Diversionist of Knozzle, his job is to write, baby, write with the intention of making his audience think and laugh. Or at least chuckle.

When not hunched over his computer, he spends his time on a balcony overlooking the Arkansas River (pronounced ar-KAN-zas, people!) playing Death Metal's Greatest Hits on his diamond-studded kazoo. He sometimes pretends to know the meaning of life, but mostly just knows the meaning of obscure words like "sesquipedalian".

Simon Hawk

Simon Hawk is a thinker, writer, satirist, and full-time oddball. As Chief Diversionist of Knozzle, his job is to write, baby, write with the intention of making his audience think and laugh. Or at least chuckle. When not hunched over his computer, he spends his time on a balcony overlooking the Arkansas River (pronounced ar-KAN-zas, people!) playing Death Metal's Greatest Hits on his diamond-studded kazoo. He sometimes pretends to know the meaning of life, but mostly just knows the meaning of obscure words like "sesquipedalian".