The Last One Kills.
A Play in One Act
CAST OF CHARACTERS
LUCAS: A young, 19-year-old college man when he died. He spends much of his time watching the grass grow near his grave.
LIV: Lucas’ best friend. She was in a sort-of relationship with both Lucas and Neil. She’s at University on scholarship.
NEIL: Lucas’ semi-secret, not-quite boyfriend. Film student in San Francisco.
GARDENER: An older gentleman who comes and goes, caring for the graves. He seems to spend a lot of time doing very little, often.
The Albany Masonic Cemetery. It’s late in the afternoon. Mid-September.
“Every hour wounds. The last one kills.” – Neil Gaiman, American Gods
(The cemetery. There is only one grave, off-center, perhaps on a diagonal and downstage. LUCAS is facing away from the grave, hands in his pockets. The GARDENER is putzing around the grave, not accomplishing much. He rakes leaves across the grave from one side to the other, takes a swig from a flask in his jacket after a quick glance around, then rakes the leaves back in the other direction. It’s a chilly day, the GARDENER shivers; LUCAS seems unaffected.)
Every hour wounds… hm hm hmm… raking up remains of autumn leaves… hm hm hmm…
(the GARDENER sneaks another swig from his flask, looking around, then shivering in the breeze)
A little something to warm old bones… hm hm hmm… the last one kills… hm hm hmm…
Have you ever considered voice lessons?
(The GARDENER continues humming and singing to himself)
Or, perhaps, learning a song by Stevie Knix? I’ve heard she’s really popular with people your age.
(The GARDENER seems to be ignoring LUCAS, quite content with his song and useless raking. LUCAS turns toward him.)
PLEASE stop singing, man! Can’t a respectable person visit a grave in peace?
(NEIL enters from offstage, carrying flowers.)
What’s that song you’re singing?
Okay, maybe peace is a little much to ask for, but, like, quiet reflection, perhaps?
Don’t have a name. Made it up.
(The GARDENER gives the leaves one last rake across the grave, scoops a few of them into a garbage bag, knocking the vase of flowers over on the grave, dropping flask and something else without noticing, and turns to leave)
Well, it’s beautiful… whatever… it is.
Hey, man, could you please…?
(feeling his pocket, he turns back)
Ope, can’t be leavin’ without my medicine bottle here!
(The GARDENER sees the flower vase has fallen over, contemplates it a bit, then sets it up right)
There you are. You’ll freeze on the ground like that, poor, lovely things. Just nestle you in there… hm hm hmm…
(The GARDENER attempts to take one last swig from his flask, but it’s empty. He caps it. He exits.)
Well, I brought these, just in case.. I’ll put them… I’ll put them…
(NEIL sets flowers next to other vase.)
here, with these.
(LUCAS sighs. He kicks at the leaves, nothing much happens.)
I suppose now’s the time, if there is one.
Time? For what?
I know it’s been a while and I should have come sooner, I know that. I really couldn’t be at the service with your parents – they still hate me so much.
(NEIL arranges the flowers, rearranges the flowers, and rearranges the flowers again.)
School has kept me really busy… I’ve had a project due almost every week and my mother’s been riding me to keep things straight, keep my grades… and Liv, well, she doesn’t seem to understand.
(LUCAS walks away from where NEIL is sitting, kicks at some more leaves. This time a few of them move.)
Don’t stress it…
I can’t seem to keep it all straight. It’s been months, Luke…
Has it? I’d lost track…
I mean, I’m sitting on the ground in the middle of a goddamn cemetery talking to nothing and all I have are these flowers and I’m left with nothing!
(NEIL throws the flowers. Immediately scrambles to pick them all up, rearranges them to some semblance of an arrangement again.)
Talking to nothing…?
(LUCAS tries to touch NEIL but there is an invisible barrier that keeps LUCAS from being able to make physical contact.)
I can’t tell Liv that I loved you. I can’t tell her that I can’t sit through a class without thinking about how I’m never going to see your face again. She was your best friend and is in so much pain and I’m supposed to just…
I’m the strong one. I’m quiet and I go to school. I’m respectful. I’m sitting on the fucking ground and you’re… you’re gone!
(NEIL backs away from the grave, sobbing. Stops. Collects himself. Wipes his eyes.)
I’m not proud of being dependent. I’m not proud that you were my strength or that Liv isn’t good enough. No, she’s, I mean… she just isn’t you. She’ll never be you, Lucas.
(NEIL backs up a few more steps.)
You were the strong one. If you couldn’t handle this shit, who the hell else can?
(LUCAS follows NEIL a few feet, stops suddenly, paces some, then stoops to read the headstone.)
Nineteen years old, 3.6 GPA, smooth as hell with the ladies and gents both… What were you thinking? Now all you have is lop-sided flowers and a tone-deaf…
(LUCAS looks toward offstage where the GARDENER previously exited.)
Is he a gardener, really? I haven’t seen him do much maintenance. But look! I’m talking to myself! I’m just as batshit as the old man.
(The GARDENER re-enters, dragging his rake behind him and erratically sweeping a flashlight back and forth, looking for something?)
Every hour wounds… hm hm hmm hmmmm… yes, the dark of night brings sorrow and the morning brings dew… hm hm hmm… hm hmmm… the last one kills… hmm hm hm hmmmm hm… oh!
(The GARDENER stoops to dig a fingerless glove out of the leaves on LUCAS’ grave.)
Here you are, dear… hm hm hmm lost in the leaves, yes, but not gone hm hmmmm hm heh heh heeee!
(The GARDENER chuckles to himself and exits, dragging his rake across LUCAS’ shoes and pulling it along behind him. LUCAS watches him go.)
Neil is gone. He said it’s been months but it feels like only moments… He’s the only one besides that old kook who has been here.
(LUCAS sits on the edge of the tombstone and attempts to pick up one of NEIL’s flowers, but can’t quite seem to grasp it.)
What if nobody remembers you, man?
(END OF SCENE)
(Cemetery. Autumn is turning to Winter – the weather grows colder. LUCAS is sitting on the ground against his tombstone. He looks as though he may have been there for a while, collecting dirt.)
(GARDENER Enters with a wheelbarrow and black trash bags.)
Every hour wounds… hm hm hmm… seasons pass and the sun freezes, oh… hm hm hmm…
(GARDENER halts the wheelbarrow near LUCAS’ grave and begins picking up fallen twigs and branches, clearing refuse from a storm and putting it into the bags/wheelbarrow)
Whiskey and cold breath and frozen fingers… hm hm hmm… the last one kills… hm hm hmm…
Oh! Don’t mind me old bones, ma’am. Just doing the cleanin’ before the light goes.
I heard you singing, I’m sorry.
Calms the spirits. I’ll be done soon.
Every hour wounds… hm hm hmm hmmmm… clear the rubbish and leave the bones… hm hm hmm… hm hmmm… the last one kills… hmm hm hm hmmmm hm… Ho ho ho leave the bones!
(GARDENER piles the last of the rubbish into the wheelbarrow.)
You’re not clever, old man.
The last one kills and leaves the bones… hm hm hmm dust to dust hm hmmmm hm heh heh heeee
Hmm? Whut? Oh, ‘m gonna let you have your peace, dear.
Hi… Lucas. How’s the weather?
(LIV laughs briefly.)
I couldn’t tell you, honestly. Darker.
That was a stupid question, I know. You’d think I could come up with something better to say.
I can’t exactly start with “Hey, Luke, how’s life?” you know? Shit…
(LIV sighs heavily, then tries again.)
Look, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing. You say Goodbye and then it’s supposed to be over, but then they’ve got you buried in this place and tell us we can bring flowers and… hey, who are these from…
(LIV picks up the flowers from NEIL. They’re wilted red roses.)
I didn’t bring you anything. I don’t know why I didn’t think he’d come here.
I didn’t think you’d come here.
I can’t believe he’s that fucking self-destructive. Okay, yeah, I’m talking to a dead guy. I get that doesn’t look good – but there’s nobody around to see me!
I’m glad I mean so much to you.
For whatever reason, this is a normal part of the mourning process, and I get that, I’m here. Neil just can’t seem to let go. He’s so self-absorbed! And obsessed! You two hardly cared about me when you were alive, now that you’re gone, you’d think he could at least concentrate on the people who are still here.
I’m still alive. I’m still here! I’m still here and I’m his friend and I care about him just as much… more! MORE than you ever did! You’re dead and I care about Neil and all he cares about is sinking into the depths!
(LUCAS stands now and approaches LIV)
Liv, I know this isn’t exactly how this works but, if you can hear me at all, I need you to try…
What good is an art student who doesn’t show up to class, who can’t create?!
(LUCAS reaches out to LIV, trying to touch her, but she moves away from him before he can make contact, if he can)
Liv, I need you to focus on me.
Just because you gave up… I haven’t told anyone, Luke. I still haven’t told anyone that I knew what you were going to do it but I wish I had. He can’t give up just because you did!
(LIV begins kicking leaves and sticks and dirt and refuse, whatever is on the stage in the cemetery set that she can make a mess out of, faux snow, maybe.)
I can’t just let him go! I let you go. I did what you asked and now I’m supposed to do it again?!
I have to live my life. I have talent. I could be someone! I have scholarships that I worked hard for. I earned my place and I’m not letting stupid boys bring me down!
(LUCAS reaches out to LIV and grabs her coat, this time pulling on it enough for her to feel it)
Tell me what’s happened to Neil. You’re making no sense!
(LIV begins to charge off stage, LUCAS starts to follow)
Liv, don’t leave me here!
I don’t know why I came. I have a life!
(LIV exits quickly. LUCAS chases after LIV but is unable to follow. He falls back on stage by some unseen force. Something is keeping him from leaving the cemetery.)
Don’t leave me! Liv! LIV! Don’t leave me alone! This isn’t what I meant…
(LUCAS sinks to his knees.)
(END OF PLAY)