Native American. Teacher.
Mixed-blood Cavalry scout.
Overseer of time.
Time: Early summer. Ten years after Little Big Horn.
Place: Front steps of a school house on a frontier fort.
LAURETTE: You are a puzzle, Uncle says. Gunfire, gunfire, gunfire. But all the Indian camps the troops ride into are deserted. When the regiment returns to the fort, all the men want to do is catch blue-belly lizards and wager which lizard will run the fastest to get a piece of tossed biscuit.
ZACH: Nice diversion, huh? Lizard racing, the legendary past-time of all Indian tribes.
LAURETTE: That’s horrible. You’ve been subverting Uncle’s trust in you.
JANE: I think that’s very clever of him.
LAURETTE: But there are still unaccountable hordes of wild Indians ready to overrun Uncle’s fort and destroy his career. Look at Jane. She’s ready to lead the charge.
JANE and SPIRIT VOICE: Do unto them what Custer did unto you.
LAURETTE: Good heavens, Zach. That woman of yours is as bloodthirsty as my Uncle General. They can have at each other with drawn sabre and arrows for all I care. As long as no one else has to die over stupid, stupid manly pride.
ZACH: Why, Miss Laurette, you surprise me. I am pleased to find you do not share your uncle’s genocidal beliefs.
LAURETTE: “The only good Indian is a dead one”? No, I am not completely empty-headed though I may pretend to be. I can think for myself.
ZACH: Then consider encouraging your uncle to uphold the old peace treaties. The Indian wars can be settled to benefit both sides. He will be a great hero if he ends the fighting.
JANE: Medals and glory are not enjoyable if you’re dead.
LAURETTE: You are so morbid, Jane. At least Zach has a plan that’ll resolve the conflicts. Please, no more fighting.
ZACH: You two? You ladies were engaged in a battle?
LAURETTE: Didn’t I intimate as much? But I give up. Jane is too much like a venomous cottonmouth for me to handle. It’s time I get packing.
ZACH: Will you speak to your uncle before you leave?
LAURETTE: Oh, I will. But once he hears me say, “Please, don’t shoot any more Indians. I think you’re wrong. I think your entire Army and everyone back in Washington pushing for westward expansion is wrong,” he’ll probably strip you of your sergeant rank just for turning my head. You’ll be commanded to escort me to the nearest train station as humiliating punishment. He’ll propose an end to the war, become an important, white-haired senator, and move back east. Will you miss me and the walks we never had?
ZACH: Where will you go?
LAURETTE: Where does the West end? San Francisco, perhaps. I have heard such tales about bawdy houses, opium dens. Being shanghaied on ships and never seeing port again. Sounds like my kind of place.
JANE: You’ve read too many books. You should become a teacher.
LAURETTE: Jane, I am not the respectable kind. Starting up a gambling establishment is more to my liking. I do love money and all the pretty things it buys. Now, if you’ll both excuse me, Laurette will take this cool water to ease the burning beneath Uncle’s collar when he hears my thoughts on his Indian wars. (beat) You two ought to consider abandoning this outpost, too. (curtsies) Bye-bye. (exits)
ZACH: Spirited young woman, your friend.
JANE: You want to be with her?
ZACH: Miss General’s Niece? I have no desire to constantly hear her clothes whispering, secret, silk-talk. She doesn’t know how to keep still and be silent. The enemy would instantly bead down on her if she pranced into battle.
JANE: She flirts with you.
ZACH: To no avail.
JANE: I told her Indians don’t fall in love.
ZACH: Maybe not literally. Maybe we have other words to express what happens between us. (takes out notebook) Let’s see here. “Her womanly bosom melted into his firm muscles. Soft buffalo robes caressed the sweet earth beneath them. Above them, fireflies danced on warm summer nights. Higher still, in the dark skies, their guardian spirits sparkled among the stars.” I believe those words.
JANE: It’s an entertainment. I will now write of great battles if the General refuses to obey the peace treaties.
ZACH: No. No uprising unless absolutely necessary.
JANE and SPIRIT VOICE: And why not?
ZACH: (reaches into tunic) Who shall I give these flowers to if bullets struck you down?
JANE and SPIRIT VOICE: I would die willingly.
ZACH: Who would share my nights scented in sweet embrace?
JANE: (takes flowers) One night of togetherness in exchange for one day of no guns being fired?
ZACH: We could bet on how many flies a lizard eats in an hour.
JANE: (puts flowers in vase) Or wonder how far we’ll ride before we find forests, clear streams and blankets of wild flowers.
ZACH: (takes her hands in his) We’ll leave tonight then. Head north up the river. A small band of mixed-bloods are camped there. We can ride with them to Canada.
JANE: You would desert the Army, leave behind what your father took pride in?
ZACH: I’ve made my decision. What strength I have comes from you in the moonlight.
JANE: You will not guide Laurette to the train?
ZACH: I don’t doubt she will have plenty of well-behaved soldiers to escort and protect her.
JANE pulls a leather shirt from her bag.
ZACH strips off his Cavalry tunic, puts on
ZACH holds out his hand. JANE looks at
flowers and notebook on stool. She folds
ZACH’s tunic, places it on stool, adds
her glasses on top.
JANE and SPIRIT VOICE: We have everything we need.
JANE takes ZACH’s hand. They take three
long steps and freeze in place.
SPIRIT VOICE: We have everything we need. But when our spirits say we must stand again and fight to defend what is ours, we return to do battle. In this way, nothing changes. Into all the years it will remain so. We continue to fight. We continue.
LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.
END OF PLAY