Mando. A shaggy young goatherd, heir to his family’s debts.
Pa. Current proprietor of his family’s debts. Has no left hand.
Gran. Pa’s mother, deaf as a hoot.
Splendid Pete. The bank’s reposession agent.
As many goats as can be mustered.
If you haven’t read part one of this exasperating 2-part trilogy, you should, here.
For all the rest of you…
Last time on Mando the Goat Herd…
Gran points two guns at Splendid. Splendid points his cellphone right back at her.
Splendid: Now Gran, you have two guns with a limited amount of bullets. I have a smartphone. With one squeeze of the trigger you will kill me. With one squeeze of my thumb I can reach out and touch every bank official, police officer, SWAT team and lawfirm in this country. I will take pictures, send and receive email and have indecipherable hieroglyphics texted to me saying just how long they will take to arrive, take the farm, shackle you and put you in prison for the rest of your miserable days. Have a think old woman. Are you fast enough?
Gran threatening: Don’t push it. All we want is to be left alone.
Pa: We’ve never caused any trouble till now.
Mando: They tried to kill Gran. It was self-defense.
Splendid: You’ll need a reliable witness to prove that. Maybe you’d best let me live. I’ll try and get the sentence reduced. Deal?
Gran: Mando what do I do?
Mando: Put down the guns Gran. Let’s take the easiest road.
Gran: Travelling in any direction is unbearable.
Splendid: I think you are beginning to understand the severity and irreversability of your situation. It’s a good idea to switch to damage control. Agreed? They all nod, sadly, Gran lowers her guns. Now give me the milk. Mando takes the milk from a shaky Gran, hands it at arm’s reach to Splendid who skulls it back.Now, let’s see, calculating mentally, your ox killed my partner and you’ve shot to pieces my two hired goons…..and this is a house visit……this is going to cost you an arm and a leg!
Pa pointing at body pieces: Ha! I think it’s
Splendid cutting him off: That’s in very poor taste.
Pa penitently: Yes, yes it is.
Splendid: When you people entered into your agreement it was not expected that you would take the piss. You have done nothing more than take the piss for forty years. I am here to set these faults aright. You are dealing with the conglomorate. We are a rigourous and unflinching machine and you will not test us.
Gran: We tested no one
Pa: We failed good and honest
Mando: No strings attatched.
Splendid: There are strings all right. You’re about to be very sorry for not embracing the modern world. Clicks call, puts the phone to his ear. Pause. Looks at dial. Tries to hide his nervousness Are we on the, umm, highest point around these parts?
Mando: No, we’re in the lowest depths.
Splendid: You…. wouldn’t mind too much if I was to go outside and stand on my tiptoes.
Mando: Try here. Splendid stands on the bench, gets on his tiptoes, raises the phone above his head waves it round.
Splendid: Do you often have trouble with reception in these parts?
Mando: When we receive folks like you, yes. Get down.
Splendid: No, see it should work.
Gran with a glint in her eye: Get down off the bench and be quiet. You’re not in charge any more. The goats pin him around a chair. Mando has got her a glass of milk. Thank you dear. Takes a gulp of milk and sits back in her rocking chair. So anyway, Splendid, where were we?
Splendid: Am I a hostage?
Pa: You are merely detained.
Splendid: It amounts to the same thing you damn hillbilly.
Mando: There is an issue of nobility involved – good distinction Pa.
Pa: Who did you call hillbilly?
Gran: It was you, dear.
Da: Oh, that’s OK then, I thought you were talking to Mando. He hasn’t done nearly enough herding yet to become a Hill Billy. Its about being one with the goats – this, this is a Hill Billy. Takes hold of a goat. Only once you know her, know her ways and thoughts only then can you become one with them. Hill Billy indeed, Mando? – you must be out of your mind!
Splendid: A Billy is a male goat you damn fool.
Mando and Nan: shhhh!
Mando whispering: keep it down, we don’t want him getting any male goats – birth rates will soar too high.
Gran: We have to keep them stable.
Mando: Or we’ll have to buy more land.
Gran: Then we’ll be in trouble with the bank.
Splendid: I….I am the bank.
Mando: Then you don’t want any trouble with us.
Splendid quietly: I….I but how do they breed with no males?
Mando: You know the Ox?
Splendid distantly: mmm.
Mando: It’s really a Billy. But don’t tell dad.
Gran: That’s why we never stone it.
Pa: Are Billies really male?
Pause, all look at Splendid.
Splendid: No, no…. there’s female ones too. I’m sorry, where are we?
Gran: Hostage. With some issues to resolve.
Splendid: Well let’s do it quickly. Ask away. Come on, shoot. Gran raises the guns. No. No. Wrong word. How’s about I be quiet and you do this your way.
Mando: Good idea.
Gran: What do you think of the weather, Splendid?
Splendid: What do you mean?
Gran: What do you think of the weather? Do you find the wind annoying?
Splendid: The wind? The wind? You want to know whether I, sitting here being held at ransom by a bunch of penniless savages care about the wind? The wind is as the wind does.
Gran: What do you mean by that?
Splendid: I mean you’re all a bunch of penniless savages, and jail would be too good for you. You’re the kind of people that make the justice system look like an amusement park.
Gran: No, I mean what do you mean by “the wind is as the wind does?”
Mando: Surely that’s a truism. If its windy it’s windy, it doesn’t give your personal opinion on it.
Gran: And it would be lovely to hear your opinion on something, Splendid. That’s why we opened up the floor for discussion.
Pa: And picked a topic that we all share a common interest in, very clever by you Gran, not everyone can do that. Weather. Good pick.
Splendid: The weather plays a big part in your lives does it?
Pa: Of course. If it’s sunny the goats are outside, if its wet they’re in.
Mando: Which means if its wet they smell, and the house smells
Splendid: You all smell, you cretins, why don’t you put a roof on the house and build the goats a shed?
Pa: If you’ve got a roof then you never appreciate just how nice it is on a sunny day, or how wet it is on a rainy one, and when it snows you wouldn’t get cold.
Splendid: That’s the fucking point!
Mando: We’ve chosen not to go through life like that Splendid, we want to know exactly how the world is trying to make us feel, and go with that.
Splendid: Well, right now the world feels that you should be evicted from your shack and thrown on the mercy of the courts.
Pa: Why don’t you like the weather, Splendid?
Splendid: I find the weather tiring. All it means to me is the difference between a jacket and a t-shirt, I don’t devote any time at all to thinking about it. Nor do I want to.
Mando: If you don’t care about the weather, Splendid, what do you care about?
Splendid: I care about my life, my job and getting the hell out of here.
Gran: Your wife, you didn’t say you had a wife. That must have been very lucky.
Splendid: My wife, you deaf troll, my wife. I mean my life is what I said… I’m sorry you are all confusing me. Pause. Splendid gets his thoughts together. Let’s get one thing straight. There’s nothing you can do to me that will improve this situation. There’s a million more just like me, who can take my place and get this farm back. They’re all exactly like me, millions and you only have six bullets.
Gran moving close to him: In a minute, Splendid I’ll only have five.
But what you say is true. There are a million of them just like you, and killing you would be like squishing a flea on a mangy goat’s back. Another’s bound to leap on your wrist.
Mando: Too right Gran, there’s one now.
Gran bites her wrist eats it
Splendid: That’s disgusting!
Gran: Now Splendid, you’re perfectly right in thinking that your death would be meaningless. Your death would merely annul you from all record books and voting papers. Another would spring in the door the next day, raring to take your place. They’d probably call him Splendid for a day or two, but that would soon pass. The money would be raked in and you’d be forgot. But not us. For some reason no one will forget us, no matter how much we want them to. What I would like for you to do, Splendid, actually what I would like is a cigarette, who’s packing?
Mando: Gran you’ve been doing so well.
Gran: Oh for Christ’s sake give me a smoke. What’s wrong with you. We live in a three walled hut and drink unpasturised milk. You’ll let me have a bloody cigarette every once in a while.
Mando: It’s very disappointing Gran.
Gran: Oh fluff. Splendid, out with it.
Splendid: Wha? How di… here you go. Brings out a pack, the goats start crowding around.
Mando to Splendid: Now look what you’ve done. Gran you know how hard it is to wean them off. No, Sally, remember how hard it was last time.
Splendid: The goats smoke?
Mando: They were doing well till you came along. Well, go on, if you’re going to kill Gran you may as well polish off the goats too, would you like the farm as well?
Splendid: That’s exactly what I want. That’s all I want. Here, throws the packet take the bloody things you stupid goats. I just want to go home, you’re all mad. The family and goats all stop and look at him What, what do you want?
Mando: They’re hardly going to get them out themselves, they’ve got no fingers.
Splendid: They’re goats, they’re fucking goats crawls on the floor and begins administering the cigarettes to the goats, they all crowd around to get lit then move off to their various areas. what do you want from me? I’m not cut out for this.
Gran: Well, obviously we don’t want to lose the farm. And I think its fair to say that if we are content to live in a three-walled shack then you’ve not much right to expect us to leave.
Gran: But we respect the fact that you are a money grubbing shmuck and it would look bad if it were discovered that you messed up this simple case.
Mando: And of course we wouldn’t want you to be bitter about the whole thing,
Splendid: Bitter! You don’t want me to be bitter!
Pa: Otherwise you’d probably just do it to the mob up the road, the Essenes.
Splendid: I was going to shut them down tomorrow.
Gran: Tomorrow’s a long way away with a gun in your face.
Mando: Please Gran, give me a go. She drops the guns to her side Do you want to know what frightens me, Splendid?
Splendid: A bath? What?
Mando: What frightens me is leaving here. It terrifies me and it scares Pa and Gran. What frightens you?
Splendid: You. You frighten me.
Mando: No, in our absence what frightens you?
Splendid: I don’t know.
Mando: Sure you do. What happens if you die?
Splendid: I die there’s nothing more to it.
Mando: What happens if you don’t get the farm off us?
Splendid: I…I haven’t thought about it. It’s going to happen.
Mando: Have you ever not successfully repossessed someone’s farm?
Splendid: No. I have a perfect record in my work.
Mando: What would happen if you returned to the bank empty-handed.
Mando: Oh come on, you can’t tell me they’ll be happy.
Splendid: Perhaps…. I might lose a star.
Mando: What’s a star?
Splendid nervous: Nothing
Mando: What’s a star Splendid?
Splendid brushing it off: Its just something you get when you….. do well.
Mando: How many stars do you have Splendid?
Splendid: A lot.
Mando: How many?
Splendid visibly wilting: I…I have the most stars. I am the best.
Mando: What would happen if you were to loose a star?
Splendid: Nothing serious.
Mando forcefully: What would happen if you lost a star?
Splendid: I….I can’t…..But it won’t happen.
Mando: You will not get this farm.
Splendid: I always get my farm.
Mando: Well you are not getting this one.
Splendid: Then I’ll have died trying.
Splendid: She will pull the trigger of that gun and blow my brains out. Pause. Would you like me to draw you a picture? It will make me a hero. Legends will be told of me. Splendid Pete they’ll say, died to protect his stars.
Mando: Nope. No deal.
Splendid: Don’t you talk to me about deals, just do your business and be done with it.
Mando: Sorry Pete, we’re not going to kill you.
Splendid: You can’t just keep me here.
Mando: Too right. We’re going to send you home without your stars. Off you go.
Splendid: What? Where?
Mando: Back to the office. Tell them I was beyond your powers to get this farm.
Splendid: This is unreasonable.
Mando: Tell them you tried everything and you’re at your wit’s end.
Splendid: This is unthinkable.
Mando: Tell them that we could have killed you but we didn’t think it was worth it because if you are the best they have then it’s in our interests to keep you in the job.
Splendid: This is unprecedented.
Mando: Go home Splendid, with the shirt on your back and no more.
Pa (catching on): Empty handed. Empty handed.
Splendid: No, but that’s a…..no.
Splendid: The shame, the ignominious shame. The…kill me. Kill me you old bitch!
Splendid: Give me the gun, I’ll do it myself. Crawls to Gran who takes the clips out of the guns. You’ve got to help me. Crawls to Mando. Go on, just a punch will do it. Sally come on, eat me. I can’t go back like this!
Mando: Why not?
Splendid: I’m frightened. Pause. What have I said?
Mando: Failure eh?
Pa: Who would have thought?
Gran: The oldest one in the book.
Splendid can’t pronounce the word: fa fa fay ya
Mando: You have a fear of failure, Splendid and we have a fear of leaving this place. I think we can work a deal.
Splendid: What kind of deal?
Mando: Simple, I’m coming back with you to the head office to meet the new manager.
Pa: Mando, you can’t leave the farm. You’ll achieve something!
Mando: We all have to make sacrifices Pa.
Splendid: It’s not that simple.
Mando: Why not?
Splendid: There’s no new manager.
Mando: Why not?
Splendid: It was an innefficient management structure. One person running a business. We’ve sharpened up, opened out. It’s run as a conglomorate. There are herds of us.
Mando: Then we’ll go to the head office.
Splendid: I’ve never been there myself. I don’t know them, They don’t know me. They don’t know you. It will be ridiculous. We’ll fail!
Mando: Much as I hate to say this we have to try. The farm is not changing hands, so if we don’t go you’ll fail. The only success you can achieve is to help me convince them to let us keep the farm.
Splendid pauses: You leave me no choice. But I’ll betray you.
Mando: You don’t have the guts.
Splendid: I’ll confound you.
Mando: You don’t have the brains.
Splendid: I’ll abuse you.
Mando: You don’t have the balls.
Splendid: I’ll outshine you.
Mando: You won’t have the stars.
Mando: I’m cutting you a deal here and not only are you frightened Splendid, but you’re frightened of being frightened. That makes you a coward. Go outside and bury your dead. I’ll be ready in a minute.
Splendid now completely broken: Yes. picks up a limb or two and moves out the door. Sally follows him with the arse. The family gather around Mando.
Gran: I’m proud of you boy. This is the first positive action undertaken by this family. But I’m going to miss you.
Mando: I’ll be back, Gran, that’s the whole point.
Gran: Will you have a glass of milk, Mando.
Mando: Actually I’d like some olives.
Gran pulling them from her pocket: Here you go, my love. Mando eats them, and brings the two stones out of his mouth.
Mando: I love you, Gran he places one stone in each of her ears and kisses her. She smiles
Pa: Don’t give ground Mando.
Mando: I won’t, Pa
Pa: Son, I have to apologise to you.
Mando: There’s nothing to apologise for. It’s up to me to save the farm.
Pa: No, not sorry for the farm, I’m sorry for insulting you. I said you weren’t a Hill Billy. I’ve watched you today, I’ve seen you work your way through this situation and I’m watching you now as you save your family. Your control and knowledge of our ways surpasses even mine. You son, are the greatest Hill Billy of them all.
Mando: Thanks Pa. They hug.
Pa: Now my son, onwards.
Gran: Fuck them up, boy.
Mando: I’ll do my best. To the goats I’ll be back soon, girls. Keep eating grass.
Pa: They will Mando, they will. Mando leaves. Slow fade.
Scene 3. The bank’s head office. Compete darkness. As the Mando and Splendid begin to speak lights illuminate the interior of the bottom floor of a model skyscraper, strangely shaped. As the scene progresses the lights begin to go on in each floor, from bottom to top.
Splendid: This is unbelievable. This might cost me my job. You’ve no chance of talking them round.
Mando: I have a good feeling about this. There’s something in the air.
Splendid: It smells like you. You could have bathed before you came.
Mando: That’s the strange thing, I did.
Splendid: In some ways this is quite exiting. It will be great to meet the people I’ve been making rich all these years.
Female voice: Yes, gentlemen, the board is ready to see you now.
Sound of door opening. The bleating of goats can be heard.
Splendid: What the fuck?
Mando: Billies and nanny goats, I have a proposal I think you’ll be delighted to hear. Bleats of pomp and sincerity. The final lights illuminate the bank sign on top of the skyscraper. A pair of goats horns and a goatee.
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