MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Oops! by Mark Berkery

Plays
The Horn of Vengeance

Robert F. Bradford

CAST:

Wesley Harwood, a bank president
Colonel Morgana, a revolutionary
Sergeant Oxblood, her stooge

[Enter Wesley Harwood. He sits, pours a drink, loosens his tie. Sound of a door kicked off its hinges. Enter Colonel Morgana and Sergeant Oxblood, agitated, pistols in gloved hand, wearing camouflage uniforms, identical except for insignia and oddly-colored berets. Oxblood carries a leather pouch at her hip, strapped across her shoulder.]

MORGANA: Freeze! Just sit right there, Mister Bigshot Bank President Pig Wesley Harwood!

HARWOOD: You may call me Wesley. And you are...?

MORGANA: Colonel Morgana. And this is Sergeant Oxblood. I want you to grasp this very clearly. We are the First Executionary Unit of The Horn of Vengeance Liberation Army. The sergeant and I are the very tip of The Horn.

HARWOOD: And youīve rooted out my pied-a-terre. Welcome to my little hideaway. Would you care for a drink?

OXBLOOD: Oh, do you have any...

MORGANA: No!

OXBLOOD: ...vodka and cranberry juice? Thatīs a Cape Codder.

HARWOOD: Stoli all right?

MORGANA: Knock it off! No fraternization.

HARWOOD: And what, pray tell, makes me the enemy?

MORGANA: Donīt play the innocent with me. You bank presidents are all the same.

HARWOOD: Really? How many bank presidents have you known?

OXBLOOD: Ha! Thatīs a good one.

MORGANA: Shut up.

HARWOOD: Of what do I stand accused?

MORGANA: Itīs all in the manifesto.

[Morgana tries to snap her fingers, but is hindered by her gloves. She takes one off, then snaps her fingers.]

OXBLOOD: What?

MORGANA: The manifesto, Sergeant.

[Oxblood clumsily plucks a document from her pouch and hands it to Morgana.]

MORGANA [poetic recitation]:
Your hour has come, you potentates of power,
Dealing Death in doses great and small,
To our Mother Ocean and Sister Animals...

OXBLOOD: Yeah!

MORGANA:
Blasting bodies, sapping spirits,
Global murder-suicide.
But now the hour has wound around
When bank presidents, gated residents,
CEOs and politicos
Are a cancer that shall be
Irradiated, eradicated,
To the last malignant cell.
All your silky ilk
Must drink the milk of bitterness
From The Horn.
Therefore and henceforth,
The Horn of Vengeance Liberation Army
Shall gore in all places and by any means
The profiteers of poverty and dealers of Death.
The Horn is an underground army of anarchy,
Rising like yeast throughout your office, shop and home.
We are your children.
We are your servants.
We are your doom.
Cut off the head and the snake shall die.

HARWOOD: Huh. Iīve got more vice presidents than the Hydra had spare noggins. An inexhaustible supply, Iīm afraid.

MORGANA: I bet The Horn can exhaust that supply.

HARWOOD: Maybe. But I must say, thatīs quite the manifesto. Whoīs the wordsmith?

OXBLOOD: Colonel Morgana makes all that stuff up.

HARWOOD: Very poetic. May I see it?

[Morgana gingerly hands Harwood the document.]

HARWOOD: Strong. Bold imagery. Compelling rhetoric. Youīd be surprised how much of it I agree with. Except the part about the bank presidents, of course. But youīre clearly a poet of some resources.

MORGANA: Thank you. Uh... Hey! After your kind is obliterated, everybody will be a poet.

OXBLOOD: Not me.

HARWOOD: Still, I think "will" would be stronger than "shall" here, though. "Will die" and "will gore." "Shall" sounds too formal. Too 20th-century. And Iīm just... Iīm just not sure about this "silky ilky milky" thing. Although I have to admit, itīs difficult to resist that mellifluous "ilk-ilk-ilk" sound.

[Morgana snatches the document from Harwoodīs hand.]

MORGANA: We didnīt come here for literary criticism.

OXBLOOD: Oh good.

MORGANA: Shut up.

HARWOOD: Whatīs this thing you have about bank presidents, anyway? Did I overcharge you for a bounced check one afternoon, when I was bored and looking for somebody to oppress?

MORGANA: Itīs mostly just your symbolic value, of course. Still, any bank president is intrinsically right at the top of the greed machine.

HARWOOD: Everybody is a cog in that machine.

MORGANA: Everybody isnīt a goddamn bank president. You donīt have to do it.

HARWOOD: Do what? What do you think bank presidents do? Iīm not saying Iīm perfect. And Iīm painfully aware that, in a profound sense, all money is tainted, and Iīm in the money business. But I just approved a fifty million dollar low-interest loan for affordable housing yesterday. I have eight and a half per cent of our assets in green investments. I sit on the boards of three non-profit service organizations, and that costs me a lot more than money. It costs me time, because I care about them and I do a good job. Youth Sports Association, Barrio Barrier Breakers and Foghorn for the Blind. Thatīs actually a joke. Itīs really Lighthouse for the Blind, but if youīre blind, you donīt need a lighthouse, you need a foghorn.

OXBLOOD: Ha! Heīs funny.

MORGANA: Shut up. Big deal. You go to a few meetings. You buy a table at the annual fundraising dinner. Big sacrifice.

HARWOOD: I give blood. Religiously. Every time they call me up and say itīs been six weeks, and thereīs a desperate shortage of A-positive and these children are bleeding to death in the operating room, I do it again. For years. Iīve given seven and a half gallons of blood, and Iīve got narrow little rolling veins. They never get one on the first stick. They have to keep poking, and sometimes they have to go get the head phlebotomist and go poke the other arm, and both my arms are black and blue and purple and green and yellow. And I keep going back. But you think Iīm some kind of ogre who has to be bludgeoned to save civilization.

MORGANA: Donīt take it personally. If The Horn doesnīt strike now, thereīs going to be a cataclysmic global storm of apocalyptic proportions.

HARWOOD: Well, I donīt think thatīs going to happen. But itīs more, not less, likely to happen if you start a bloodbath.

MORGANA: The tree of liberty must be nourished with the blood of patriots.

HARWOOD: Now Iīm a patriot?

MORGANA: Of course not. Youīre a traitor.

HARWOOD: Then youīre the patriots.

MORGANA: Of course.

HARWOOD: Then I should shed YOUR blood. Just to nourish the tree, I mean.

OXBLOOD: Ha! Heīs pretty good.

MORGANA: Shut up.

HARWOOD: Besides, I have to go feed my little tiny baby Burmese kitten. She looks like a chocolate sundae, and she meows and climbs up my leg when I come home.

OXBLOOD: Awww. Hey, Colonel, maybe we should just...

MORGANA: Shut up.

HARWOOD: Sheīll be crying by now. Thereīs no one home to feed her. My wife and kids went to Tahoe, and I gave the staff the night off.

MORGANA: Wait. Your staff? See? Itīs not just business. You personally exploit the immigrant underclass.

HARWOOD: I have seven employees on my little estate, if thatīs what you mean. Two Anglos, three Mexicans, a Guatemalan and an African-American. And each one is a citizen or has his green card, and I give them all the same benefits package that I give the staff at the bank. And I pay their taxes and social security, too. You canīt get me on that one. What do you think I am, some two-bit politician?

MORGANA: Huh. One token black. What does she do for the Massa?

HARWOOD: Mister Owens is my driver.

MORGANA: Huh. Big fat Rolls-Royce? Cadillac? Lexus? Hummer?

HARWOOD: Um, a Prius, actually.

OXBLOOD: I donīt want to do this any more.

MORGANA: You canīt betray your oath to The Horn. You canīt betray your sisters and brothers.

OXBLOOD: Oh, you just talk like that. She just talks like that. Thereīs only just the two of us.

MORGANA: So? Weīre launching the recruiting drive right now. When this manifesto hits the media, itīll inspire millions of copycat cells. No hierarchy will be required. The great organic goat horn will spontaneously create itself, intuitively, with the open end spiraling out to infinity and the tip honed to a fine cruel point. Show him the logo on his shroud.

[Oxblood pulls a sheet from the leather bag at her hip. She and Morgana have some difficulty getting it unfolded while keeping their pistols pointed at Harwood. Painted on the sheet is an overflowing cornucopia, with the sharp end impaling a pig.]

HARWOOD: Wow. Great graphic. Clear universal symbols. Bold clean lines. Vibrant clashing color scheme. Whoīs the artist?

OXBLOOD: Colonel Morgana.

HARWOOD: Magnificent.

MORGANA: Thank you. Uh... Hey! Donīt waste your time blowing smoke. Weīre here to kill you, remember?

HARWOOD: Oh. Well. If you insist. In that case, itīs a crude, boorish cartoon. And thereīs an elemental disconnect in the symbological synthesis.

MORGANA: What the hell do you know about it?

HARWOOD: Minored in communications. Just getting an edge in public relations and marketing. Did a lot of graphic design. Fun.

MORGANA: Thatīs not art.

HARWOOD: Neither is this. And this isnīt a horn of vengeance, itīs a horn of plenty. It would make sense to stab the pig if the horn were empty, but if the abundance is flowing, whatīs the point? Maybe a peasant should be getting skewered and nourishing the abundance with his lifeīs blood. That would make more sense. And the pig could be smirking off to the side, shoveling the fruit into a sack. But that would be too many elements for a logo.

MORGANA: It symbolizes the fruit of the earth that will only flow again when the pig overlords are destroyed.

OXBLOOD: See? Itīs not really a poor little piggie!

HARWOOD: Oh. Okay. I see. But if you have to explain it, itīs not much of a logo. Maybe it needs a little more work before you unveil it to the world.

MORGANA: No. The hour has come. You donīt know how many nights Iīve sat in the moonlight, cradling this pistol in my hand, wondering -- when the time comes, will I have the courage... the dedication... the hatred... the strength of will to use it? Well, weīre going to find out. And I know what the answer has to be.

HARWOOD: I have a better idea. Letīs all just walk out of this room re-dedicated to doing whatīs right. Iīll devote myself to green investment policies, and you can use your art to profoundly impact the consciousness of the entire global community. What the revolution needs is Colonel Multimedia.

MORGANA: Yeah? With my crude boorish cartoons?

HARWOOD: Sorry. That was a bit harsh. But I was just reacting. You hurt my feelings.

MORGANA: I, uh... Hey! Iīm gonna hurt more than your feelings.

OXBLOOD: But listen. Please listen. Emily. I just canīt...

MORGANA: What!?!

OXBLOOD: Colonel! Colonel Morgana! Colonel Morgana, sir! I just canīt do it.

MORGANA: Iīll deal with you at the tribunal. Get out of here, then. Go outside and scout the street. And start the car.

OXBLOOD: But I...

MORGANA: Sergeant Oxblood! You are dismissed. Out. Tribunal at dawn. Out.

[Exit Oxblood, shamefaced.]

MORGANA: By the way. I never answered your question about bank presidents. My father was a bank president, and...

[The sound of a slamming car door distracts Morgana for an instant. Harwood lunges and grasps her wrist. They wrassle for the pistol, and are drawn together, nose to nose, with the pistol pinned between their torsos. They glower deep into each otherīs eyes. Suddenly they kiss.

Cut to black. A muffled pistol shot. Immediate sound of a car spinning its tires and racing away.]

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