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Forced Conviction

By
Travis Snyder-Eaton

Final Draft Phone Number: 951-314-7239
PRELUDE
As the audience enters the playing area, there
will be a street musician playing alone. He is
busking, the playlist will vary until he plays
"Big Rock Candy Mountain" by Harry McClintock.
STREET PERFORMER
One evening as the sun went down,
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I’m not turning,
I’m headed for a land that’s far away,
Besides the crystal fountains,
So come with me, we’ll go and see,
The Big Rock Candy Mountains
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There’s a land that’s fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes,
And you sleep out every night.
Where the boxcars all are empty,
And the sun shines every day,
And the birds and the bees,
And the cigarette trees,
The lemonade springs,
Where the bluebird sings,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
All the cops have wooden legs,
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth,
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs,
The farmers’ trees are full of fruit,
And the barns are full of hay,
Oh I’m bound to go Where there ain’t no snow,
Where the rain don’t fall,
The winds don’t blow,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
You never change your socks,
And the little streams of alcohol,
Come trickling down the rocks,
The brakemen have to tip their hats,
And the railway bulls are blind,
There’s a lake of stew,
And of whiskey too,
You can paddle all around it,
In a big canoe,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin.
(MORE)
2.

STREET PERFORMER (cont’d)
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in.
There ain’t no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws nor picks,
I’m bound to stay,
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk,
That invented work,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

I’ll see you all this coming fall,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
As the Street Performer finishes his song he sets
down his guitar and sits down on the ground. He
lights a cigarette and watches what is about to
unfold.
3.

FORCED CONVICTION
SUE is sleeping next to a basket full of trinkets
on a makeshift mattress of old clothes and trash,
lying on the concrete, wrapped entirely in dirty
blankets with a rope around her ankle. Attached to
this rope, as if it was a noose, is TOM. He is
sleeping in a box.
Sue wakes up.

SUE
What a beautiful evening...
(she stretches)
What a beautiful evening. Don’t you think so Tom?
(notices Tom asleep)
Hey...hey Tom. Tom?...wake up Tom. The sun’s down.

Tom remains asleep.
SUE
Fine, if you don’t want to wake up just yet...don’t.

Sue takes a breath.
SUE
Tom...Hey Tom...TOM! Wake up.
Tom eyes jolt open, he begins to stand up and exit
the box. As soon as he is about to step over the
edge some unseen force stops him in his tracks.
TOM
I can’t.

Tom sits down.
SUE
It’s beautiful out. Don’t you think so Tom?

TOM
It’s the same setting we always see. Night sky, couple
of stars, and a moon. Then time, after time, after time
goes by and everything will brighten and the little
sparkles on the blanket of darkness shall disappear and
the white fluff in a sea of blue will take over. If we
get lucky, they will clear up and the sun shall give us
more light, and keep us warm. If we are unlucky we
shall see more clouds even blacker than the next and
water, solid or liquid, will fall on our heads, ruining
this box, and giving me a cold.
4.

SUE
(offended)
Tom! That’s no reason to dislike the sky. One must
always look at the glass half full. Think about that
summer day. The one without clouds...where the sun is
gleaming and your skin turns darker. Ever so slightly
darker. That is how you must look at it Tom. Remember?
Do you remember Tom? Do you remember that summer day
that we spent at the beach? Do you remember? Tom?
Tom does not react.

SUE
Do you Tom? Do you remember? Tom?
Pause. Tom grunts.

SUE
Huh? Did you say something? Do you hear me?
TOM
I hear you, I just chose not to respond.

SUE
Do you remember, Tom?
TOM
Yes I remember.

SUE
Oh, when we were young. To think of all of the things
we did. What we could still be doing if not for...
Pause.

TOM
If not for what?
SUE
If not for your situation.

TOM
My situation?
SUE
You are there and I am here. At this point all hope is
lost.
She looks down at her feet. Sue gestures toward
her foot which is missing a shoe.
5.

SUE
Where’s my shoe?
Sue searches through the piles of clothes and
trinkets.

SUE
I swear it’s so much easier to lose belongings these
days. Tom, do you remember that time I lost my shoe in
the parking lot?

TOM
No.
SUE
Oh, but it was such a great story. The story was just
so good. You must remember? Don’t you, Tom? Don’t you
remember that marvelous story?
TOM
No.
SUE
Can I tell it to you?
TOM
Why would you tell me about a shoe?
SUE
Because it’s such a good story. Let me tell
you...please?
TOM
No.

SUE
Oh, don’t be such a grouch...I’m going to tell it.
TOM
(unenthusiastic)
The joy.
SUE
The other day when we were in the parking lot that
belonged to the...uh...the uh...the what do you call
the store. You know the one with the holiday
decorations always on the windows...they sell...What do
they sell Tom?...I think they sell hammers and such.
TOM
The hardware store?
6.

SUE
What?
TOM
The hardware store. That’s where hammers are sold. At
the hardware store.

SUE
Yeah, that’s it. The other day when we were in the
parking lot that belonged to the hardware store my feet
started to hurt. So I took off my shoes and put them in
my basket, but apparently one of the shoes fell out. It
fell right out of the basket. Without me even knowing.
(picks up the second shoe)
Actually it was this exact shoe...do you remember now?
Remember how I was running around searching all over
the place trying to find my shoe? How worried I was
that somebody would steal my shoe? C’mon, Tom you have
to remember.
TOM
No.

SUE
We ran all over town looking for my shoe. You know how
easily we misplace belongings when moving around. So we
looked at that fast food restaurant, that office
complex, that Mexican restaurant, and the department
stores. Still we were unable to find the shoe and you
know what happened the very next day. The shoe was in
the parking lot of the hardware store. Right where I
put the shoes in the cart. Can you believe that?
TOM
It’s a very rare instance.
SUE
We laughed for hours after we found the shoe. Remember
laughing Tom?

TOM
I remember laughing.
SUE
Ah...that was one of the funniest moments of my life.
Now we don’t seem to laugh as much anymore.

Pause.
SUE
Tom...won’t you come out of that box. It would be an
amazing accomplishment for today.
7.

TOM
No.
SUE
Not even one foot?

TOM
No.
SUE
Why not?

TOM
I can’t.
SUE
Well you can’t if you don’t try. C’mon Tom stand up and
come over here. Come over here and give me a kiss, Tom.
A big ol’ smooch. Just pucker up and smooch me right on
the lips.
Tom stands up and attempts to exit the box. He
fails. Tom attempts again. He fails. Tom tries
once again. He fails. Tom sits down defeated.
TOM
I can’t.
SUE
What a horrible punishment it is. Never being able to
get out of that prison. Never being allowed to see the
outside world...except the sky. Barriers are worse than
walls...being able to see what could be, but never
being able to experience it. Horrors in hell seem like
a form of entertainment compared to your situation.
Pause.
SUE
I was once in a bad place such as yours. Street lights
beaming from above. The cars roaring, the wind blowing
in my hair, the smell of smoke violating my nostrils
and the fishnets digging into my legs. Buyers coming up
to me with crisp bills and taking me away from my
location, for about an hour. Then I was back under the
street lights with the cars roaring and the wind
blowing waiting for yet another buyer to come by and
take me away for another hour or so. This routine was
the same day after day, night after night, so that I
could buy a way out of this world that I live in. I
believed I could buy happiness during a series of
unfortunate events. When I was younger they told me to
avoid the brothels, to stay away from it, go somewhere
(MORE)
8.

SUE (cont’d)
else, anything, as long as I do not go near the
brothels. I tried my hardest to listen, but I was an
upper class citizen thrown into this world where money
was harder to find than the holy grail. There was
nothing I could do, they were...they were all over. I
had no other choice, but to go to them, to submit to
them. I became a favorite to the buyers. They all
wanted me because of my beauty, my skill...my youth.
This soon became a game that was played day end, day
out. Week after week, month after month...year after
year. That is...until I met you. You...you changed my
life. You took me away from this pathetic time. You
were older, wiser, because of that, I was saved. After
meeting you I had no need to buy a way out of this
world, but instead I just needed you. With you I had no
need to escape, but to enhance my view on it. Eating
out of a can was a romantic night out. Losing my shoe
was a marvelous memory. Everything was better thanks to
you. You made my bad situation, good again. I only wish
I could do the same to you.
Sue is sitting down, crying. She then curls up
beside Tom’s box.
SUE
Whatever you do Tom...Whatever you do, please don’t
leave me. I know you can’t walk away and that you will
always be in the box, but please don’t leave me. Don’t
leave me, Tom...I’m scared to lose you.
TOM
The pursuit of happiness, I used to think that I needed
to buy it or to have it running through my bloodstream
from a needle to every corner of my body. I then
realized that I needed none of this because...because
real happiness was right here with you. Not in my box,
but a bigger one. A bigger box than before, but still
in a box. Although my situation has been getting better
I am still stuck in the same box as before. Just
roomier, still crammed, but roomier. Just a tad
roomier.
SUE
Poor Tom. At least now you have me here to keep you
company. Chained by the rope of love. Will you give me
a smooch?
Sue leans up towards Tom and attempts to give him
a kiss. They are unable to kiss.
9.

SUE
Poo. I can not even touch you. Now I feel how your
family feels. Sitting around seeing you like this
unable to do anything. It’s more torture for them than
you. I do not pity her. Standing around trying to solve
this puzzle. Trying and trying yet still no success. It
must be frustrating. To think as soon as the puzzle is
almost complete and everything is together, there is
still one piece missing. When everything is put
together there is still a corner missing. It takes
time...the puzzle solving, not only solving the puzzle,
but staying up at night thinking about how to fix it.
Trying to figure out how to put the pieces together
when you are short one. How they can stand it, I do not
know...I guess there are repercussions to our
particular positions. No I do not envy her, not at all
because at least I am able to be by your side. Having
to stand back there as a mere spectator watching the
pains and the sufferings that are happening to you.
They try their hardest, but is unable to do anything
about it...just like that kiss. One day we will kiss as
soon as I find a way...I will find a way.

Pause.
Sue pulls out a puzzle from the basket.
SUE
Speaking of puzzles, Tom would you like to do this
puzzle with me?
TOM
No, it’s missing a piece.

SUE
Well I’m going to solve it anyway.
Sue starts solving the puzzle.
SUE
This piece goes here. This one there. This over here.
Sue continues vocalizing the puzzle she’s solving
during Tom’s final monologue.
TOM
I am floating. Alone. In a downward spiral. To absolute
destruction. How did this all start? Everything was
going fine. I was ahead in my studies until my third
year. I then discovered music. Not the appreciation of
music...that was always there. It was the creation of
the music I learned and would strive for. Creating it
became easier when I would buy inspiration. The
(MORE)
10.

TOM (cont’d)
inspiration through the sharp point of a needle in my
veins started this domino effect causing me to be
inspired by the smallest things in life. The
inspiration was so great I needed more and more. It
enhanced my view of the world. I needed it. It became
my daily medicine. This inspiration later led to my
demise through deception within my mind. It caused me
to be chased by figures that would stop at nothing to
catch me. While running from these figures I saw a
young girl playing outside. The figures would get them
if I didn’t do something. I grabbed her, and took her
to safety. I was only trying to help. I only wanted to
help. So we went to a cabin by the the roadside. There
we hid from the figures for weeks and weeks until the
lights came through the window from outside. So many of
marvelous colors. It was the last time I saw color.
When separated from society long enough, a man begins
to lose his senses. They first put me in a box like
this, but only worse...or was it? At least then I was
able to see the bars. Now I see the freedom I could
have and the loved ones I could be with, but I can’t
touch them. The bars still haunt me. I can see society,
but society doesn’t care. Every time I want to leave,
they keep me in. I want to be with my family who will
do anything for me. Then there’s Sue...Sue, who hasn’t
left my side no matter how bad my situation has been.
But society? As much as I want them to be with
me...they don’t want me. Outcasted. Spit on. Mocked. Do
you think this is easy? Huh, society? Do you?...I’m
waiting for an answer? Everything I own is constantly
misplaced. I just wish I could leave. Have a hot meal,
warmth, and a comfortable chair. I am alone. No one is
with me in this box. Feeling this sense of emptiness.
This barrier that keeps me away from the outside, and
the outside from me. The torture of seeing others live
their life as I am unable to live mine. Do you see now
society? Huh? Do you? How can an individual go on like
this. How could you go on knowing this is happening and
play it off as if I don’t exist. Walk right by without
turning a head or even so much as an eyeball. And if
you do what do I get? Beat up? Spit on? Possessions
knocked over? I can’t take this. Society has turned me
upside down. Forcing me into this box with nothing more
than the dirty rags of clothes on my back. I can’t take
this. I must leave. If I could have avoided it I would.
I would have never wanted inspiration or saved that
girl. Kept away from society and it’s misfortunes. I
will stand for this no more, but I must...I must
continue. I must continue. Must continue. Continue.
During the final lines Tom stands up and attempts
to escape for the last time. He still fails, but
he continues.
11.

Sue, finishes the puzzle with one corner piece
missing.

SUE
Where’s the corner piece?
Tom gives up on escaping. As Tom sits down.
Outro

The musician picks up his guitar and begins
playing "Waitin Around to Die" by Townes Van
Zandt.
During the song, Sue puts the rope in between her
toes and turns upside down stretching her leg up
the wall, stretching the rope.
STREET PERFORMER
Sometimes I don’t know where,
This dirty road is taking me,
Sometimes I can’t even see the reason why,
I guess I keep a-gamblin,’
Lots of booze and lots of ramblin,’
It’s easier than just waitin’ around to die.
One time, friends, I had a ma,
I even had a pa,
He beat her with a belt once ’cause she cried,
She told him to take care of me,
Headed down to Tennessee,
It’s easier than just waitin’ around to die.

I came of age and I found a girl,
In a Tuscaloosa bar,
She cleaned me out and hit in on the sly,
I tried to kill the pain, bought some wine,
And hopped a train,
Seemed easier than just waitin’ around to die
A friend said he knew,
Where some easy money was,
We robbed a man, and brother did we fly
The posse caught up with me,
And drug me back to Muskogee,
It’s two long years I’ve been waitin’ around to die
Now I’m out of prison,
I got me a friend at last,
He don’t drink or steal or cheat or lie,
His name’s Codine,
He’s the nicest thing I’ve seen,
Together we’re gonna wait around and die,
Together we’re gonna wait around and die.

(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 12.

By this point the rope should be fully stretched.
The rope around Tom’s neck becomes a noose.
The Street Performer finishes the song, sets the
guitar in the case, locks it, lights a cigarette
and strolls off.

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