The Warning

Characters: Jackson Mort, Joey Plicky, Cameron “Moose” Hudson, & The Sheriff

Three boys are packing duffle bags into the trunk of a car. One boy carries snacks in a grocery bag; another twirls his keychain around his index finger, another spins a football to himself. All three fit their bags into the trunk, and climb into the car- Joey drives, Jackson tucks the football like a running back and gets in the passenger seat, Moose opens one back door, sets the grocery bag down on the seat, closes it, walks around to the other side of the car, and gets in. Joey puts car in gear.

Joey:                Did you forget anything?

Jackson:          I can’t remember.

Moose:            (quietly laughs to himself)

Joey:                Of course you can’t. (Car pulls away)

Jackson:          If I didn’t think of it, it can’t be that important.

Joey:                Not sure that’s how it works.

Jackson:          Maybe not for you. Did you remember to tell Jessica that you’re leaving?

Joey:                Yeah, yeah.

Jackson:          Seriously, man, she is probably worried. Give her a call (holds his phone out)

Joey:                I get it, she’s a little more… attached than most girls.

Jackson:          (Put’s phone away) She’s a nice girl.

Joey:                I’ll be honest with you though, it won’t be all that bad getting away from her for a weekend.

(Car leaves neighborhood, turns, and accelerates toward the highway)

Jackson:          It’s fine, I remember being young and naïve.

Joey:                One day you’ll actually have a girlfriend and you’ll understand.

Jackson:          Dude watch your speed…

Joey:                It’s fine.

Jackson:          I’m just saying, I’ve driven this before and there’s always a cop sitting on the other side of the hill just waiting to fuck you.

Joey:                Thanks mom.

Jackson:          All right, asshole, you’re on your own from here on out.

Joey:                That’s just fine by me.

Jackson:          Moose, hand me the M&M’s would ya?

(Moose reaches over and grabs a package of M&M’s out of the grocery bag and hands them up to Jackson)

Jackson:          Thanks dog.

Joey:                Ten minutes in and you’re breaking out the snacks already?

Jackson:          (mouth full) Want some?

(Joey shakes his head, Moose shakes his head too)

Jackson:          (Shrugging) More for me.

(Silence)

Jackson:          I can’t wait till were out of Kansas.

Joey:                Yeah, but we stay on 35 for pretty much the whole way.

Jackson:          I wonder when everyone else hit the road.

Joey:                Well, sometime this morning.

Jackson:          I bet Max was late. He’s always dicking around until everyone’s ready and then starts to get his shit together.

Joey:                But he was in Jared’s car, and I feel like if anybody would get his ass in gear it’d be the human alarm clock.

Jackson:          True. No way the ROTC (pronounced rot-see) Nazi wouldn’t have him on the move. (Imitating an army commander) Alright pussy, wake the fuck up. It’s 8 o’clock, and you’ve got exactly 30 minutes to powder your goddamn nose before I expect you on the hop. ‘Oorah!

Joey:                (laughing) He’s not that bad.

Jackson:          (Imitating Max) Hey, man, chill out. We’re gonna get there when we get there…

Joey:                Again, not something Max would actually say.

Jackson:          I’m just messing around.

(Some time later)

Joey:                How you doing back there, Moose? (Turns back to Moose)

(Moose nods.)

Jackson:          That good?! Jesus, Moose, calm down, this is gonna be a long car ride if you don’t shut up once in a while!

(Moose smiles. Jackson turns back to face forward)

Moose, you’re the worst kind of person. Just skipping through life, unabashed and without a care. When are you gonna buckle down and take things seriously? You’ve got one more semester and no idea what you’re gonna do when they hand you a diploma that says, “You are hereby uninvited to everything fun, and by the way, here’s your bill of one million dollars, your left arm, and the blood of your first born child, please.

Joey:                HEY JACK! Whatcha gonna do after you graduate? Any jobs lined up?

Jackson:          I’ll throttle you.

Joey:                Your dad on you again?

Jackson:          Yeah.

Joey:                Don’t worry about it.

Jackson:          Yeah.

Joey:                He just wants to see you succeed. Someday he’ll hug you and say, “Jackie boy, I love you and I’ve never been prouder of the man you’ve become…”

Jackson:          (Smiling) Hey would ya do me a favor and shut the hell up?

Joey:                Okay, my phone is telling me to take this exit, but I didn’t think we turned off for another hour.

Jackson:          Follow your phone. (sarcastically) It will show you the way.

Joey:                Shut up, jackass.

Moose:            It’s up to you.

(Silence)

Jackson:          (turns around to Moose) Hey, Moose, how ya been buddy? Get any good pussy lately? Really? Riley Fontier? I never picked you for a brunettes guy. Seemed like you’d be into blondes…

(Moose laughs, more silence)

Jackson:          (Breaking silence) Well that’s enough. Ladies and gentlemen we’d like to welcome back to the show, Joooeey Plicky!

Joey:                (Waving to an imaginary crowd) Thank you, thank you, It’s great to be back in L.A.

Jackson:          So Joe, if I may call you that…

Joey:                You may not.

Jackson:          …tell us, when did you first realize that you were gay?

Joey:                Well, John, it was probably around the time I boned your sister…

Jackson:          Annnnd it looks like that’s gonna be all the time we have today, folks, tune in with us next time when Moose describes his first blow job. Until then, I’m your host John Johnson, now back to you in the studio.

Christ man, that was cold.

Joey:                Sorry, talk shows make me nervous.

(Jackson reaches back and grabs a beer out of the grocery bag)

Joey:                Hey dude, can you at least wait until we fuckin’ stop?

Jackson:          What? (defensively)

Joey:                Seriously…

Jackson:          It’s not a big deal, as long as you don’t drive like an idiot it’ll be fine. I’ll be done with it before we get to Waco.

Joey:                Oh yeah?

(As he said this, Jackson chugs the beer and throws empty can out the window. He cracks another)

Joey:                You know, you’re the coolest guy I know.

(Jackson gives him the finger while he takes another sip and sets his can in the other cup holder)

(From the back seat, Moose points at some debris in the road. Joey is picking a song to play and doesn’t see him pointing until it was too late, and the car runs over it, with several loud crackling noises)

Joey:                Shit!

Jackson:          What the fuck was that?!

Moose:            Sorry.

Joey:                No, I’m sorry Moose, I didn’t see you pointing until it was right there.

Jackson:          I swear to god, if that sets us back at all…

Joey:                There isn’t anything we can do about it now. But god damn…. What even was that?

(Moose shrugs)

(Short period of silence)

Joey:                Maybe it’ll be fine. Who wants to throw on some music, I’m getting tired of listening to Jackson.

(Jackson grabs the aux cord, plugs in his phone and starts looking for a song. Suddenly, the front left tire blows out and the car jerks to the left.

Jackson:          Motherfucker!

(Everyone braces themselves while Joey clutches the wheel and pulls hard to the right to keep the car straight. He is pulling down as hard as he can, desperately trying to keep the wheel from pulling them into oncoming traffic. The wheel begins to lift his body off of his seat, and in an effort not to lose his leverage, Joey points his toes and lurches his lower body toward the floorboards. His foot catches the brake pedal, and as they slow down, the car pulls less to the left and Joey’s pulling to the right guides the car to the shoulder where he sinks down on the pedal and they come to a stop.)

Jackson:          Christ almighty! (Exasperated)

(Everyone takes a silent moment to gather themselves and slow their breathing)

Joey:                I’m so sorry, Moose. Obviously this was all an accident. Any of us could have been driving… Should I just switch it with the spare?

Moose:            Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll help.

Jackson:          Well fuck me sideways (finishes his second beer)

(Joey and Moose get out and head to the trunk to get the jack and spare to start changing the tire. Jackson gets out a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, packs them, pulls one out, pops it in his mouth, and covers the lighter as he lights it)

Jackson:          (Calling out the open driver side window) Either of you boys wanna rip a heater?

(After no response is heard, he takes a few more drags and glances up into the rearview mirror, where he sees a single car in the distance coming their direction down the two lane road)

Jackson:          (To himself) Huh. (To the back) Hey heads up dickheads, apparently we aren’t the only ones on the road today.

(Looks back at the mirror; the car is still approaching. Looks like an old school police cruiser. Jackson pulls out another cigarette and lights it up)

(Joey walks back to the driver side window)

Joey:                Looks like a cop. I guess it’s good to know it isn’t a free-for-all out here. I always imagined Texas as the old west. Thank god he didn’t ride up on a fuckin’ horse.

Jackson:          A pig riding a horse, what a crazy idea.

(The police cruiser pulls off to the shoulder and slows to a stop behind their car. Jackson looks in the rearview mirror to see one steel toed cowboy boot step out onto the dirt before the other. A man in his late 40s, who bore a face so carved up with deep wrinkles and brown, speckled, overly tanned skin that he could have passed for twice his age stood outside his car. He wore outdated, light colored jeans affixed with a large silver buckle. Tucked into his jeans was a light brown police shirt with an old bronze badge on the front. Around his waist hung an old leather gun holster with two large pistols on either side. He placed a worn, dirty cowboy hat on his head and pulled his pants up under a small gut by the back and buckle. He walks up to the driver’s side window, while Moose and Joey continued lowering the jack and putting the tireless wheel where the spare was. He stops in front of the door and, sneering, spits brown tobacco juice into the dirt.)

Officer:           You boys habin’ some trouble?

(He pulls his mirrored aviator sunglasses down to the bridge of his nose and peers over them)

Officer:           You know smokin’ tabacky ain’t good fer ya? (Spits more tobacco juice)

Jackson:          Um, ya, sir, I don’t smoke much normally. Just a little stressed out.

(Reads his name tag: Officer Steele)

Officer Steele: You drink and drive win yer strest ought too?

Jackson:          No sir, this is just an empty from another day. We didn’t wanna litter, sir.

Officer Steele: How kind a’ ya. Funny I saw a can like that one bouncin’ around somewhere back ‘ere. Seems it hurt yer luck runnin’ over somebody else litter, mm?

Jackson:          We didn’t know what that was until we went over it. What was that all over the road anyway?

Officer Steele:            Empty bottles. Probably alcohol. You wouldn’t know anythin’ ‘bout it would ya, mister busch light?

Jackson:          No sir, just this can here.

Officer Steele: Well I’m real sorry to hear ‘bout yer tire. Ya know ya aint s’posed to drive very far on ‘nem spares. But lucky for yall, ‘ere’s a mechanic in ‘bout thirty five more miles.

Jackson:          Oh, uh, thanks.

Officer Steele: Only one around fer a while. (Spits)

Joey:                Excuse me, officer. (motions to get back into the driver’s seat. Officer steps aside and allows him to climb back in. Moose gets into back seat as well. As driver’s door closes, officer puts his hands on the roof of the car and leans in. His breath smells heavily of whiskey and chewing tobacco. His teeth are widely gapped and stained a yellowish brown. White balls of solidified saliva wriggled on the corners of his mouth when he spoke. His eyes were cold and grey.)

Officer Steele: I was just tellin yer buddy ‘ere (here) bout a mechanic up the way who can help yall with yalls tire.

Joey:                Oh, thank you. We appreciate your help. Is there anything else we can do for you, Officer Steele?

Officer Steele: Yeah! Yall can quit runnin’ over shit on the road and save the fuckin’ lip you’re givin’ me!

Joey:                Oh, no, sir, I wasn’t…

Officer Steele: You always interrupt folks when they tryna talk?!

(Slaps the roof of the car. Everyone in the car flinches. Officer inhales deeply)

Yall need ta learn some goddamn manners. Maybe I oughta escort you to the shop…

Jackson:          That’s not really necessary…

Officer Steele: I’ll decide what’s fuckin necessary! An I tell you h’what, (spits) I don’t think I’d count drinkin and drivin.

Jackson:          But I wasn’t…

Officer Steele: There yall go again. Yall really aint from here are ya? Doing a little vacationin south a here?

Joey:                Yes, sir.

(Officer peers in the car, looks around a little, sees the cooler)

Officer Steele: (to moose) How bout you open up your door, doughboy. An hand me that cooler.

Jackson:          Hey, you cant…

Officer Steele: ‘SCUSE ME! How bad you wanna argue with the law?!

(Moose opens his door and hands him the cooler of beer)

Anybody wanna share a cold one with me? No one?

(Flips open the cooler, grabs a beer, opens it and takes a big swig)

Jackson:          I mean I’d like to drink my own beer…

Officer Steele: Well go ahead! Open one up and drink it all the way back to the station with me!

Jackson:          Hey, what’s your problem?

(Officer chugs again, finishes the beer, drops it to the ground, and steps on it, crushing it)

Officer Steele: My problem is that I got a few young men actin like they’re above the goddamn law. (belches) I’ll tell you h’what, you quit drivin like a buncha fuckin drippy-lip retards and I think I’ll let you off with a warning.

Jackson:          A warning?! What the fuck…(quieted by Joey)

Joey:                Sorry sir, but what is the warning for?

Officer Steele: What the hell is wrong with your fat little friend back here (pointing at Moose)? He deaf? He the breast feeder outta you buncha retards? (moving to the back door, still open, leans inside, speaks to Moose) You habin’ fun playin’ witcher cock back ‘eere, gay boy? You ever sucked a dick afore?

Jackson and Joey: Hey! What the fuck man?!

Joey:                If you’re giving us a warning we’ll just take it and be on our way.

Officer Steele: Alrighty (closes the cooler and hoists it up to Moose) I’m just pullin yer leg, handsome. (winks at Moose, closes the door, steps back over to the driver’s window) yall have a good rest of your day, and drive careful now.

(Joey nods, stone-faced. Officer scoops his dip out with his index finger, flicks it on the ground, and grinds it into the ground with his boot.) He bends over and cleans his lower teeth in the side view mirror by running his tongue over them and baring them in the mirror. Then steps back, walks to his car, gets in, sets his hat on the passenger seat, turns the car on, and guns it back onto the road, kicking up a huge cloud of dust. Joey closes his window before much can get in their car, and they wait to drive away until the dust is clear enough to partially see through.)

(back on the road, silence)

Jackson:          What a fucking cocksucker!

Joey:                I can’t even believe that happened. It was like a dream. Was a police officer actually that mean?

Jackson:          He drank our fuckin beer! After he gave us a warning about drinking and accidentally running over someone elses!

(Moose sniffles. Both turn around to see him crying.)

Jackson:          Don’t worry about him Moose, he’s just one of a thousand backwards, fucked up assholes who got nothing to do with their lives besides drive around Texas looking for kids to make fun of. He probably bullied kids as a child and found out you can do it as an adult if you become a fuckin’ cop.

Joey:                What do you expect from a state where they wont put evolution in science textbooks.

Moose:            It’s okay, he was just really mean.

Joey:                Yeah, he was, Moose. But we can’t let mean people ruin our fun weekend.

Jackson:          Yeah! We can’t just let officer Steele-your-beer make us forget about all the tiny bikinis that are dancing in our heads for the next few hours until they’re dancing in our faces.

Joey:                Way to keep your eyes on the prize, Jack.

Jackson:          Sorry my nuts are still in my possession!

Joey:                Ass.

Jackson:          Are we actually going to this mechanic thing or what?

Joey:                Uh, I don’t see why not. We obviously need a new tire and unless you know of another option, we might have to just get one there.

Jackson:          Great. Let’s support the business of Officer Scumbag’s friend!

Joey:                You don’t know that they’re friends?

Jackson:          Probably are though! He probably breaks some bottles on the road and feeds the poor suckers right into this mechanic asshole!

(Silence, later, approaching mechanic)

Joey:                Alright, I think that’s it.

(Approaches what looks like an abandoned mechanic/gas station)

Jackson:          Oh this looks promising. Who wants to ring their fuckin’ doorbell?

Joey:                It’ll be better if we all go together. Right?

(no response, car comes to a stop and everyone pauses. Moose opens his door, and upon seeing this, Joey and Jackson open their doors too. Everyone steps out cautiously, but eventually walks to the first garage door together with a bit more confidence. )

Jackson:          So there just isn’t a normal door we can knock on?

Joey:                Let’s just knock on the garage door and hope that it makes enough noise.

Jackson:          Well go ahead, champ.

(Joey knocks on the door with his knuckles, but it ends up being more quiet than he intends, obviously inaudible. Knocks again, this time more loudly than he intends. Silence. Door rattles before slowly raising, creating a lot of loud creaking sounds from old metal and clanking from old gears. Door opens all the way with a clank, a long pause seems to almost last forever while a cloud of smoke rolls out of the garage. Out from the dust steps Officer Steele, a pistol in his hand.)

Officer:           Erright boys, can I help you now?

(boys raise their hands into the air, look at each other, terrified)

Officer:           Well?

(Turns to each boy, aiming the gun at each of them. When he turns to Moose and takes his eyes off of Jackson, Jackson leaps forward and grabs the officer’s arm while tackling him back into the garage. Moose turns and begins running in the opposite direction, past the car and into the desert towards the road. Joey stands, immobilized by fear. After a few seconds listening to the grunting and wrestling sounds coming from the dark garage, Joey turns and runs to the car, turns it on, and drives it into the garage, tearing down the second of the three doors. The airbag goes off and another cloud of dust floods the car. A gunshot is heard. A beat up and bloody Officer Steele emerges in front of the car, hands bloody, right pistol missing. He slowly and shakily reaches back with his left hand for his other pistol. Joey throws the car in reverse and steps on the accelerator. Officer Steele fires a few angry rounds into the car as Joey peels away. He is seen looking around screaming for Moose and he speeds his damaged car down the road.)

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