Setting: Deer hunting rifle season, the mountains of Virginia, a tree-stand, mid-November. Two men: Man 1 is 37 years old and has worked at a lumber mill since he was 16. He is married with three children. He possesses no formal education beyond 9th grade and resents those with more education and money. Man 2 is 20 years old, new to the area from Florida, and has worked at the same lumber mill for 8 months, and lives with his widowed aunt from his mother’s side, his mother and father deceased. Man 1 and Man 2 are only children. Man 1 drives his wife’s car (a fading Caravan) and hates this fact. Man 2 drives a leased Plymouth Neon with a spoiler on the back. He loves this car dearly (as a starter car for much better things to come in his mind). 1992. Both men occasionally spit dip tobacco juice onto the grass and pine straw below them. Early morning, hazy with general fog. Hushed tones.
Man 1: I was told it was on the darkest day of winter. He blew out his brains in a carwash. The automatic kind. He sat out there in the car for hours and hours, until the end of the night when the cashier went out to close it. It was still running. He filled it up before he went out for the wash. Pretty good, huh? All that wasted gas. What…a…piece…of…crap.
Man 2: So then what happened?
Man 1: With the car?
Man 2: No, the guy. Who is this guy?
Man 1: You mean was. A piece of crap, I told you.
Man 2: So who was he really?
Man 1: His name was Boss. Can you believe that? His fucking mom named him Boss. That’s not a nickname, I‘m saying. A real name. Fucking Boss. Je…sus…Christ.
Man 2: Boss…so weird name…so why’d he do it?
Man 1: How the hell should I know? He was fucked up. Easter Bunny touched his peter. Santy Claus fucked his mom and made him watch. I barely knew him. (5 second pause). I will say this about him, though, (5 second pause), the man could sure as hell shoot.
Man 2: Dead eye, huh? Just like my old man (nodding).
Man 1: Basketball, fuck-head. Not guns. Basketball.
Man 2: So he just off’ed himself…
Man 1: (shrilly) Shhhhh…shut the fuck up. Look. (points toward a far ridge, whispers, trance-like) And here she comes, over the horizon, like a sleepwalking gorgon. Like a demon. A memory.
Man 2: What are you talking about? The deer?
Man 1: This is what your mother thought the instant you were conceived.
Man 2: What do you mean, this? What the hell are you talking about? The deer?
Man 1: What my wife thinks as I pound her into the bed of oblivion. A zero.
Man 2: (confused) But you have kids, man. A job. It’s all good.
Man 1: And here is what we do to meandering gorgons, to demons in our country. (draws rifle to shoulder, aims for 5 seconds, fires, kills deer. ten second pause as sound and echo of the rifle shot clear)
Go on and take it if you want.
Man 2: No way. (pats Man 1’s shoulder) I don’t take no man’s deer.
Man 1: That’s a good one. Can you see your breath?
Man 2: (huffs) No. Why?
Man 1: It don’t matter. Your breath. It doesn’t matter.
Man 2: Aren’t you taking the body?
Man 1: I’ve lost my sense of taste. I guess my tongue’s a demon. One possessed organ.
Man 2: You’ve lost it man. (5 second pause) So like my breath, I’m a human wing.
Man 1: That will never touch flight. You’re voiceless. No voice. Was that meant to be funny?
Man 2: And you blunder, as the (said mockingly) “gorgon” blundered into your bullet on that ridge over there.
Man 1: I guess.
(30 seconds of silence in the woods)
Man 2: So why’d Boss do it? Blow his brains out.
Man 1: I told you. Probably no reason at all. Or for a bad reason. Or for a good reason.
Man 2: A bad reason or a good reason…
Man 1: I guess. I guess good and bad mean the same thing.
Man 2: (enthusiastically) Yeah, yeah! Like how cool means hot or bad means cool, or good. Like, “he’s a bad man” is a good thing.
Man 1: I guess so…
(30 second pause)
Man 1: So the opposite words mean the same thing. So what the hell is the point?
Man 2: I don’t know. Weird. (pause) I enjoyed the arc of your shot. Right into the heart.
Man 1: Yes, I ruined its heart. I’m glad that you noticed.
Man 2: That’s a tall buck. Let’s go fetch it. The meat will be starting to freeze.
Man 1: You go. I want to stay up here for a while longer. I’ll watch you.
(Man 2 nods in affirmation, carefully descends the ladder of the stand, swings his rifle over his shoulder once descended)
(Man 2 is on the ground, looking up at Man 1)
Man 2: Alright. I’m gonna drag it in. I guess I’ll keep the meat once we clean it since you can’t taste it. Is that a real thing by the way?
Man 1: Yes, and no. I’ll see you in a while.
Man 2: I’ll be back.
(It takes Man 2 fifteen minutes to make the walk to the deer carcass. When Man 2 arrives at the carcass he waves to Man 1 who is across the field and who has remained in the stand)
Man 1: It’s probably smiling out there. (addresses carcass) Well, my good man. It’s your time to be blessed, I guess. Here you are and here I am. I am you and you are me…in a way we are. Together. I didn’t kill you, by the way. But, did, too, somehow. You would been killed anyway or died which is the same thing. (Pause.) I lost my favorite t-shirt when I was sixteen. I guess it hasn’t been the same since. Crescendo, crescendo, the crowd goes wild. Fucking wild out here. It goes fucking wild. It goes how it goes. (opens fly to camouflaged overalls and pisses off the tree-stand for fifteen seconds, re-zips fly, studies deer carcass in the distance.)
(Man 2 drags the carcass by the antlers across the field to the forest where Man 1 still waits)
Man 1: (seemingly dumbfounded, trance-like) All that doubt out there. (pause) And here she comes, over the horizon, like a sleepwalking gorgon. Like a demon. A memory. (draws rifle to shoulder, aims for 5 seconds)
(fade to black)