Rabbits Don’t Pray (A Short Play)

31 Plays in 31 Days #9

Behold! The spirit of experimentation!

(Present day. A pickup truck with a full gun rack on the back. MIKE and RAYRAY lean against it. There are deer and rabbit carcasses in the bed of a truck.)

(ELLA stands nearby, dressed like Jesus with a crown of “thorns,” sandals, and a sack robe tied with a rope.)

MIKE
What in the blazes a hell did you smoke?

ELLA
The everlasting truth of God is all.

MIKE
I din’t relize they could package that shit.
You roll that shit up in a Bible page?

ELLA
Thy words are witty, though thy mind lack wit.
Methinks the devil flaps thy puppet mouth.

RAYRAY
For Chrissake, Ella, you’re freakin us out.

MIKE
Naw, man, Miss Jesus here is our TV
Like in them olden days when folks would sit
All round a fire, and tell stories, and eat
And fuck around. This a real treat for us!
Go grab the mini-grill. Dinner and a show.
Gw’on, dance for us Miss Jesus USA!

ELLA
If games are how My teachings thou must see
For thee to sit and hear their words, so be it;
But thou may not enstench my sermon’s sweetness
By roasting unhappy meat before Me.

MIKE
But dude, it’ll be, like, irony.

ELLA
If irony is swallowing damnation
Whilst gospel of salvation’s in thou’s ears,
Then yea; mayhaps to hell thy gullet goes,
E’en while thy ear canal to heaven flows.

MIKE
This veganism is some serious shit.
Rayray, let’s fire up the grill.

RAYRAY
Slow down, man.

ELLA
Nay, Ray, he’ll not heed to thou. Let him bleed
The animal’s soul and his own at once.

MIKE
Whatever, I’m hungry. Light ‘er up! Damn,
That is one succulent lil’ jackrabbit.
You playin’ Jesus, so that means you gotta,
You know, be a beggar, right? Hungry, Ella?

ELLA
The manna cometh from the Earth.

MIKE
Hot damn.
Weed-whack that shit.

ELLA
The Godly spirit is
The cleanly gut; with each new day that I
In wilderness have lived off growing things,
I have grown nearer to My Lord Above.

MIKE
He ain’t pissed off about all of them plants
That you et up like a serial killer?
I guess a tree ain’t a part a God’s own plan-

ELLA
Thee foolish man, I eat the fruits and leaves,
And leave the roots to thrive: food without murder,
This is God’s own plan!

RAYRAY
Hold up, Ella, woah-

MIKE
Rayray, take hold a the rabbit’s leg here
So I can skin it proper.

ELLA
Ignorance
Thou can claim not, to save thy mortal soul.
If thou should pursue thy cannibalism
Of Creation after knowing My truth,
Thou will be surely lost.

MIKE
The beast is dead!
I think your way does it dishonor, like,
The Indians ate what they killed-

ELLA
Savages-

RAYRAY
You been in the wilderness how long now?

MIKE
Fuck it, I just can’t wait to see her face
As I sink in to this juicy-ass meat.
This juicy ass-meat, I mean. Crackle, pop.

ELLA
Friend Mike, repent.

MIKE
Miss Ella, suck a dick.

RAYRAY
Whyon’t both a you two shut your mouths! Man, Mike,
You’re just making it worse.

MIKE
Bitch came up to us-

ELLA
My Lord above called me to slaughter’s scene-

MIKE
More like y’all heard the shots and thought “At last!
Some suckers to hear my crazy hippie
Cuckoo stoner Jesus freak vegan act!

RAYRAY
HOW GODDAMN LONG YOU BEEN HERE IN THE HILLS?

MIKE
What you care if she wanna camp outside?

ELLA
The Lord inhabits these ev’ry hills
And ev’ry shrub and buck and mote of soil,
From present day to time memorial;
But if thee ask whence this vessel called Ella
Did to these hills come walk, to thee I say
Twas three days hence.

MIKE
This only took three days?
You gone bonkers right quick.

RAYRAY
Ella, sweetheart, eat this.

ELLA
No way, man. Thou Judas that would thy Lord
Give poisons!

RAYRAY
Oh drop the act, Ella girl!
We gotta get her to the hospital.

MIKE
The mental hospital.

RAYRAY
Well, maybe, yeah,
But first-

ELLA
Tis thee who art insane, to give
Thy mortal souls to Satan for a cut of meat.

RAYRAY
Ella, you can’t even “thou” and “thee” correct.

MIKE
Yeah, you gotta say like “givest” and shit.

ELLA
The force of words I speak is all that matters.

RAYRAY
‘sides, girl, the Bible says that animals
Did get put here by God for man to eat!

ELLA
Don’t presumest to know the mind of God.

RAYRAY
You know who my daddy is, and you wanna,
What, come and argue Bible verse with me?

MIKE
Oh snap.

ELLA
I want to save thy souls from torment,
And all the souls you’d kill with rifle shot.

RAYRAY
You want to save your self from bein’ alive,
More like, walkin round the hills three whole days
With just some berries and acorns to eat.

ELLA
Friend Ray, tell me, doth my skin seem pallid?

RAYRAY
It ain’t been that long enough for symptoms yet,
But Christ if you ain’t gonna-

MIKE
“Christ,” she ain’t.

ELLA
I am, in truth, much more than fine; God’s way
Has righteously given my body strength.

MIKE
She ain’t gon’ listen to no reason, man.
Just get some salt outta the truck, so we
Can rub it in the rabbit’s wounds- I mean!
Can rub it in for flavoring and watch
Her poor pathetic face.

ELLA
Thy cannot even see Beelzebub
Who dancest on thy future grave-

RAYRAY
Dance-eth.

ELLA
To thrill in causing pain so well doth speak
To blackness in thy heart.

MIKE
It sure do, girl,
And damn but don’t it taste so good.

ELLA
Out, demon!
Thou admit thy sins?

MIKE
Every-damn-day,
And y’all know I know I’m already doomed,
So why not fuckin’ live it up all right?

RAYRAY
Hey Mike, that is not a helpful approach.

MIKE
Whatever, man, it’s true. I go to church.

ELLA
Thy ministry is foul.

RAYRAY
Say what? Say what
About my daddy’s church?

MIKE
Woah shit, calm down!

ELLA
Ah yes, you rage because you know the truth,
Deep down. All them church bar-b-ques and shit.

RAYRAY
Why don’t we drive on back and call your pops?
Your sweet old mama must be worried sick.

ELLA
You should-

RAYRAY
“Thou shouldest”?

ELLA
I talk how I want!
You’ve rejected the notion of My divine
And holy nature, so why keep it up?
The Word, the Word is all that matters still!

MIKE
Oh shit, too busy laughing, almost forgot…

(MIKE tends to the rabbit on the grill.)

RAYRAY
Come here Ella-

ELLA
If you touch me, Rayray-
I swear to-

RAYRAY
Yourself?

ELLA
My Father above-

RAYRAY
That what? I am going to take you home,
Get you cared for, like a Christian would do.

ELLA
You have the beasts’ blood on your hands, and hands
Like those must not touch the Divine directly.

RAYRAY
You even called your poor folks up? Oh Christ,
The whole damn town must be outta their minds.
We been up here a day, Mike, they probably-
Fuck me. How far was cell service, man-

ELLA
Do not fret, child, that Ella has left you,
For she has but ascended to her purpose-

MIKE
I’d say like fifteen miles back down the ridge.

RAYRAY
Well? Put your damn cookout away and drive!

MIKE
But it’s almost done-

RAYRAY
Her life is at stake!

MIKE
Aw, didn’t you hear? “Her” be gone! Miss Ella,
She left the buildin’, that be Jesus thar.

RAYRAY
Well, Jesus, listen up, remember how,
Last time around, you started out from scratch,
The Virgin Birth, all that? This taking over
Our neighbor here has put her life in danger-

ELLA
I swore to you, my body is quite well-

RAYRAY
Let’s see that-

ELLA
Put me down!

MIKE
All right, all right,
Some tits, that’s what this hunting trip’s been needing-

RAYRAY
Wait, what the hell?

ELLA
I’ll kill you, Michael Jones!

MIKE
Makes sense that Jesus’d the hottest chick-

RAYRAY
You got a goddamn sweater underneath?

ELLA
Those are Ella’s clothes-

RAYRAY
And with pockets full-
What is this?

ELLA
No!

RAYRAY
Oh my sweet holy mother.

MIKE
Ha! Those some protein bars? Look, Jesus Christ
He sure love some Snickers bars, what ya know?

ELLA
To Ella’s body sustain I had to-
Rayray!

MIKE
Wait, what? Hold up. Rayray – you cryin’?

RAYRAY
No, man, no-  Fuck. Goddammit, Ella Jean.
You see me here, worried you might collapse
At any second from deficiency
In diet, and yet you keep your fool act up?

ELLA
Thou-

RAYRAY
God, the real God help me, be sane.
You may have kept some sense enough to eat,
But I will not be capable of standing
At your front porch as the white minivan
Takes you away, and your sweet mother cryin’,
And your daddy too. Ella, please be there.

MIKE
Man, it’s obvious she playin’ a game.

RAYRAY
I’m not convinced.

ELLA
I’m sane, I’m sane, all right?
I know I’m not the lit’ral son of God.

RAYRAY
Oh praise the Lord.

(RAYRAY plops down, grabs the rabbit, and takes a big bite out of it.)

ELLA
NO! Your immortal soul, I told you, Ray!

MIKE
Aw drop it now. Come eat, y’all know it smell good.

ELLA
Why you think I started this Jesus thing?

MIKE
To pick up guys?

RAYRAY
You wanted attention?

ELLA
Attention, yeah, but not to me! To- Oh stop!

MIKE
WHAT THE HELL! I JUST COOKED THAT YOU SONUVA-
DAUGHTEROFA-  All right that cuts it now.

(MIKE grabs a rifle.)

RAYRAY
Hey Mike, we got like five more kills, relax-

MIKE
Wait look at her! Look man! She’s smiling now!
She wants me to goddamn shoot her head off!

RAYRAY
We ain’t gonna like martyr you to death
Because of some bar-b-que you ruined.

ELLA
I wish you would! Maybe then folks would see…

MIKE
You like really believe in your bullshit.

ELLA
It hurts my soul every steak I see.
How do you think it felt each to live
Swimming in a town that sucks down blood
Like jello molds from ev’ry dinner plate?

MIKE
Just goddamn be vegetarian yourself!
No one cares.

ELLA
You believe that?

RAYRAY
No, she’s right.

MIKE
Right?

RAYRAY
I don’t mean about not eating meat.

MIKE
Oh good, I was gonna have to shoot you
To save you from yourself.

RAYRAY
I mean the town.
Of course Miss Ella of the thousand cats
Who raised a stink about frog dissections
Would hate every one of us each day,
Each meat-eatin’ hamburger-chompin’ day.

ELLA
I hate not one last one of anyone!
That’s the whole idea, that some of you
Go ‘round shootin’ and eatin’ some of you,
And Lord but ev’ryday it pained me so.

MIKE
We ain’t cannibals here!

ELLA
There tain’t no diff’rence,
I say to you there is no difference
Whatsoever between you and that rabbit.

MIKE
Oh sure, in your mind. Meanwhile, in real life,
He got floppy ears and bushy-ass tail…

ELLA
And that’s enough for you to bite his arms off.

MIKE
I had ‘nough a this talk with you and Jane
Way back in school ‘fore y’all shut up about it.

ELLA
Yeah well I didn’t stop believing nothing,
And now I’m here and I’m Jesus, so listen.

RAYRAY
You’re not Jesus.

ELLA
I don’t believe that Jesus
Did even Himself believe he was Jesus.
All He did was love everyone equally,
And found out the rest when he got to Heaven.

RAYRAY
That ain’t what the Bible says.

ELLA
I believe.
I said “I believe.” I woke up that morn
Just three days ago and felt such love
That when I went downstairs and saw old ma
With ham and eggs all in the frying pan,
I felt so bad I had to leave. I walked
And walked and walked and came up on the store
And saw some squirrels in the trees in back.
And something in a wave of light came over
And overwhelmed me so, that I just fell,
Right there and then, onto my knees and prayed,
And felt some truth within my bitty head:
“To love as perfect as you can is good,
And in fact is good as God, because love
Is sure enough a universal thing,”
You know? To love complete is like to be
Jesus Christ Himself.

RAYRAY
No, it really ain’t.

MIKE
Shutup, let her finish the story out.

ELLA
Well thanks. That’s most of it, there, all that’s left
Is going in and buying up this rope
And snacks and all this rest here at the store,
Then off I came to love the wilderness.

RAYRAY
Then you heard our guns and came to preach us.

ELLA
No first I heard Timmy Lee and his daddy,
And then the Grummond boys and Elijah,
And then a bunch of strangers up the lake.
I went to all of them as Jesus Christ.

MIKE
Oh holy shit. The town is goin’ mad,
You know they’re all talking their heads clean off,
“Miss Ella of the woods gone and think she God!”

RAYRAY
Well what the hell did you hope to achieve?

ELLA
I thought, heck, all them times me and Jane tried
To convert y’all to our kindlier ways
And failed, maybe if I play to religion-

RAYRAY
You know none a them believed you one bit.

ELLA
Course not! But maybe now they’re thinking, “Hmm.
What if? What if it’s true?” Not about Ella
In actuality being the Lord,
But about if maybe she’s right despite.
She sure got conviction, at least, so maybe
We ought to at least consider her words-

MIKE
Yeah right.

RAYRAY
More like they’ll think you’re round the bend.

ELLA
Then fine. That works too.

MIKE
Shit, folks don’t subscribe
To like the shit crazy girls say, ain’t no one
Wanna be the one to look like he’s buying it.

ELLA
At first. It’s only been three days out here.

RAYRAY
What you saying?! You’re going home with us!

ELLA
No no. I see it now. This ain’t no trip.
No quick visit to the woods, say some shit,
Go home. I gotta stay the long, long haul.

RAYRAY
I’ll be fucked if I tell your mama-

ELLA
Then don’t.
Don’t say a word.

MIKE
Please, you think I ain’t gonna
Go parade through town with this fucked-up story?
Shit, I tell it well and I might get laid.

ELLA
Whatever you want. Either way, I stay

RAYRAY
And starve to death? Won’t do shit for your cause.

ELLA
No, I’ll live. I got ways. Not just snack bars.
You’ll see. And at first, everybody laughs,
Goes “that crazy girl in the woods,’ but then-
After maybe like five, ten months or so-

RAYRAY
Hell no!

ELLA
They start to pity my parents!
They start to worry about me. They say,
“Aw, hell, Ella, she weren’t so bad as that.
Yeah sure, we got annoyed at all her talk,
Her vegetarian hippie bullshit,
But she was still one of our own, ya know?”
And then- “Christ, it just bothers me so much,
Seein’ poor Mister and Missus Cramer
Like that all the time. You hear what happened?
They tried again to drag her back, but man…
She would not have it so long as this town
Did not swear off of meat. Heck, I ain’t sayin’
I’m quittin’ – heck, at first, I ate more meat
To spite the bitch – but now, you know, it feels,
Well, kinda awful. I’ll skip the steak today.”

RAYRAY
…No, you do not really think that’ll work.

ELLA
Heck, I don’t care. All I know is I will,
I swear to God, be happy way out here,
Leastways a lot happier than down there.

RAYRAY
Well, Mike.

MIKE
Rayray.

RAYRAY
Yeah?

MIKE
Yeah, I guess we gotta.

(They both leap up and try to grab her, but she shoots off like a rabbit and runs into the distance.)

MIKE
Shit!

(MIKE grabs the gun again and points it at her.)

ELLA
(from the distance)
Go ahead, Michael Jones shoot me dead
In order to take me home!

MIKE
I can hit her,
I can get her in the leg. I got my aim.

RAYRAY
You shoot her in the foot she could bleed out
Even before we get her home, you miss
By so much as a couple inches, man.

MIKE
So what? We just gonna let her go? HEY!
HEY BITCH! GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE NOW YOU SHIT!

ELLA
(from the distance)
That’s sure not the way to entice me back!

MIKE
Get in the truck.

RAYRAY
She’ll just go in the woods, man.

MIKE
So after all a that, we just give on up?

RAYRAY
You can’t make someone do what they don’t want.

MIKE
Says the bitch who just wanted to snatch her!
Don’t pull that shit, we gotta get her now.

RAYRAY
She’s already gone, Mike. Damn, Ella’s quick.

(MIKE looks around frantically. She’s out of sight completely.)

(MIKE slumps down on the bed of the truck.)

MIKE
Man, fuck that cocky brain-fried little shit.

RAYRAY
That’s the spirit.

MIKE
We gotta at least drive back,
Back fifteen miles, and put in a phone call.

RAYRAY
Won’t do no good. She’ll be long gone by then.
We’ll report the Ella Sighting when home.

MIKE
What in the name of God will you tell June?

RAYRAY
I’ll tell my dad, he’ll tell the congregation.

MIKE
Well shit.

RAYRAY
And maybe folks catch her later.
And maybe not. And maybe she get shot
By some stray bullet in the woods. Who knows.

MIKE
Well shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, cock, shit.

RAYRAY
Yup.
(salvaging a piece off the rabbit)
Want this? It’s still good, no dirt on it.

MIKE
You fucked in the head? After all of that?
Oh God, what are we gonna do with them?

RAYRAY
With who?

MIKE
The animals, man, we shot!

RAYRAY
…You buying into her-

MIKE
No, but we can’t,
Like, spit in her face after losing her.
There’s enough in these hills to come back later.
It don’t feel right at this particular time.

RAYRAY
…Do what you want. You shot the most of ‘em.

(MIKE starts pulling the carcasses out of the truck bed. RAYRAY contemplates the remaining rabbit meat.)

(End of play.)

writing time: 3:23 with about :30 of interruptions

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One comment

  1. […] the idea of this kind of afterlife and figuring I’d use that as the basis for this play 9) Rabbits Don’t Pray – two hunters have an encounter with a runaway young neighbor girl Came from wanting to try a […]

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