A Meating of Mines, scenes 7, 8, and 9
This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of Mines
Except for Rolf's comments, the following sequence should be filmed in the style of a spaghetti western: no sounds except the horses hooves, an occasional jangle, and the wind, Rolf and Zantar with grim expressions on their faces, extreme close-ups and other typical camera angles.
Rolf and Zantar ride out of the forest to a ridge overlooking a tiny mining settlement by the shores of a lake. There is little or no vegetation around the town and all of the buildings are painted red. Even with the lake there, it looks hot and uninviting.
ROLF: Remember, no metaphor or hyperbole this time, right Zantar?
The diminutive duo ride on to the town and eventually come to a sign with the name of the town painted on it in red letters: "Heck". The heroes look at each other meaningfully and ride on toward the town. About half-way there:
ROLF: Don't forget how most dwarves don't get non-literal speech, Zan. We don't want to spend all day explaining it, right?
As they enter the one short street they see red picnic tables set up in the street and a banner over the street reading "Welcome Back Boys!". The streets are deserted. A dust devil plays briefly among the picnic tables. They ride slowly past a lone dwarf who watches them vacantly. There is a sound of someone running, barely audible over the clip clop of the horses hooves, but no one is seen.
ROLF: As long as we keep to simple, literal speech, everything should go OK. Right, Zan?
A few more steps in the odd silence and then there is a sudden BANG and Rolf and Zantar look up to see a shutter swinging in the wind. Behind the window is another vacant-faced dwarf watching them. They look around and there is another dwarf on the roof of a building, watching. A bell starts ringing in the distance.
The heroes stop at a saloon and tie up their four horses. Zantar pats the cute pony affectionately and feeds her something from his pocket
ZANTAR: (murmuring gently and as close to baby talk as he can get) Yes you are! You are one tasty-looking little pony.
The two enter the saloon. When they slam the doors open, the bell stops ringing. They look around the dim interior to see several disreputable dwarves who all turn to stare at them. The heroes walk to the bar and from the sound of their footsteps in the silence, they could be wearing spurs.
ROLF: And a bottle.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: (without looking at the heroes) We don't get a lot of range bums here in Heck. (now looking over at them) Life around here is usually just too fast for 'em.
Zantar takes a gulp of his beer and Rolf a sip of his whiskey. Neither answers.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: But maybe you think you're fast enough for Heck.
Rolf and Zantar just stare down into their drinks without answering.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: So what about it. Are you fast?
Zantar raises his eyes to stare at Disreputable Dwarf 1. Close-up on Zantar. Close-up on Disreputable Dwarf 1. Behind him the other dwarves are shifting their eyes nervously back and forth between the two staring dwarves. Violence is pending...
ZANTAR: (thoughtfully) Well, the elf doesn't want any horsemeat, and I don't have to be fast, because I reserved a whole rib steak from that little one with the long mane.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: Reserved a steak? I didn't know you could reserve a steak!
ZANTAR: Well, you can when you're the one delivering the horses.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: Oh. Well, (looking at his companions) we'd better get out there and help with the picnic or we won't get anything.
The disreputable dwarves get up to leave.
ZANTAR: Yeah. You want to be sure and steak your claim.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: (confused) We're not going to stake anything, just make sure we get our share.
ZANTAR: Get it? "Steak your claim"? "Steak" has two meanings there.
Rolf lowers chin to his chest and shakes his head.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: How can it have two meanings?
ZANTAR: It's a pun. It means, like a stake that you pound in the ground for a claim and it also means a horse steak.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 2: You mean a stake that you would tie a horse to?
Rolf lowers his head until his forehead bangs against the bar.
ZANTAR: No! A steak that you eat. You know, "horse rib steak, medium rare", like.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 3: Mmm.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: Why would you pound a horse steak into the ground for a claim? It would get all dirty and you'd just have to wash it off before eating it.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 2: Couldn't you just lay it on plate or something?
ZANTAR: Why would you want to eat a stake? It's made out of wood!
ROLF: (sounding panicky) I'm going to go outside and check on the horses. (he exits in a rush and the dwarves look after him for a moment)
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 2: I thought you said it was made out of horsemeat...
It's dark and the two heroes are walking through the town. The picnic tables are populated by dwarves who are gorging themselves, drinking and partying. Another dwarf, Grimey is walking next to the heroes.
GRIMEY: We can keep buying horses as long as you can keep stealing them, but the silver's safe where it is.
ROLF: But surely you recognize the inherent hazards of maintaining a personal hoard. By entrusting Zantar and myself with the responsibility for a portion of your assets, you will reduce the probability of a fully catastrophic event.
Grimey looks at Zantar expectantly.
ZANTAR: He says it would be safer if me and Rolf hid some of the silver for you because then you couldn't lose it all at once.
GRIMEY: No, but we could lose the part we gave you because you could just run off with it.
ROLF: Your reluctance is well founded on a deep comprehension of economic subtleties. Yet in this particular instance, you have encountered two individuals of impeccable honor and character whom you may rely on with the utmost confidence.
ZANTAR: He says to trust us.
Another dwarf, Picnicker 1 interrupts their conversation from a picnic table:
PICNICKER 1: So Zantar, was it like a magical stake that you could turn into meat or wood?
ROLF: (urgently) Well that's it then. Off we go, Zan!
ZANTAR: No! The word meant two kinds of stake at once!
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1 (from another picnic table): See! I told you!
ROLF: (agitated) OK then! Our work here is done! Let's go!
PICNICKER 2: But it can't be both at once because if it was strong enough to pound into the ground then it would be too tough to eat. (murmurs of a agreement from around the picnic).
ZANTAR: See, you look at it one way and it means a horse steak, and then you look at it again and it's a wood stake.
PICNICKER 1: You mean it's an illusion?
ROLF: (sounding near panic) Let's go!
GRIMEY: But if it's an illusion then is it really a horse steak or really a wood stake?
PICNICKER 2: Or there's not really any kind of stake there at all! (murmurs of surprise)
Rolf screams and flees the scene. The dwarves all stare after him for a moment.
PICNICKER 1: Was he on fire or something?
GRIMEY: No, elves are just squirrelly.
DISREPUTABLE DWARF 1: Maybe it's a meat steak with a big bone! Then you can pound the bone into the ground and eat the meat! (murmurs of approval and admiration all around)
ZANTAR: (patiently) No, no. It's really two different kinds of stake...
The diminutive duo are riding through a forest once more.
ROLF: (sounding weary) We should probably wait a few days before trying again.
ZANTAR: Yeah, don't want anyone to get suspicious.
ROLF: And next time...
ZANTAR: No puns?
ROLF: No puns. No metaphors. No exaggeration. Nothing to set the famous Dwarven one-track mind into a hapless, endless, and dismally serious track of utter confusion. Please, Zantar.
ZANTAR: OK. I just thought that pun was funny.
The two pass through a gate and ride silently up a road to a barn. They get off their horses and hand them to stablemen. They walk toward a high building and step inside. It has the look of a tavern with stairs that probably lead to private rooms. Inside are thirty or so of their fellow thugs and Jerrod, who is sitting at a table. The heroes cross to another table and sit down. Zantar hollers for drinks. Everyone seems to be looking at them.
JERROD: (from the next table) So, how'd it go?
ROLF: Well. We saw no sign of incursion.
JERROD: A couple of my horses seem to be missing.
ZANTAR: We can't watch the horses along with everything else.
JERROD: Yeah. But these horses were last seen with you two.
ROLF: There is no doubt some confusion.
JERROD: (standing up) That's what I said. I said, "Nick", because it was Nick that saw you with the horses, I said, "Nick, what would those two fine lillies be doing with a couple of ponies that I put out to pasture? You must be confused, Nick." That's what I said to Nick.
ROLF: Quite perceptive of you.
JERROD: But Nick, he doesn't think he's confused. He thinks you're stealing my horses.
ROLF: Nick is obviously paranoid.
JERROD: That's probably right. That's probably right. That would explain why he up and grabs Heath and they take on over to the Lucky Unicorn. You know the Lucky Unicorn?
ZANTAR: The tavern in town?
JERROD: The very one! Now Nick and Heath, they meet up with this elf over at the Lucky Unicorn. They recognize the elf as someone that works for the Cannons. And you know what?
JERROD: Well, (Jerrod sits down with them and begins speaking in a conspiratorial voice) What was odd is that this elf seems to have come into a lot of money lately. He's buying drinks for everyone and he's got an expensive new outfit and he's got an expensive dame at his elbow while he gambles! Can you imagine? Since when did the Cannons pay that kind of money?
ROLF: No doubt this elf is a professional assassin or a famous warrior. They must have hired him to partially counter your coup in retaining the services of Zantar and myself.
JERROD: Yes! Yes, that seems like a reasonable explanation. But no, no. It turns out this elf is just a common robber. Like to fancy himself an archer, but he's so bad at it that most of the guys figure he's just afraid of going toe to toe.
ZANTAR: Yeah. Elves are punks.
JERROD: Well, sure. Excepting, of course, our good friend Rolf here.
ZANTAR: Yeah, whatever.
JERROD: So this is a mystery. Nick and Heath want do know where this elf is getting his loot. Don't you want to know where he's getting his loot?
ROLF: I can't say the question holds a great deal of fascination for me, no.
JERROD: No? Well, it does for me. Yes it does for me. And it did for Nick and Heath too. That's why they bopped him over the head and brought him back here.
ZANTAR: Good job! Well, I've had enough for the day!
ROLF: Quite so. It's been a long day and we must retire immediately. Be sure to keep us informed on the progress of your interrogation.
Rolf and Zantar get up, leaving nearly full drinks on the table, and try to leave but Jerrod impedes them.
JERROD: Wait! Wait! The interrogation is all over. Our little elf was anxious to answer all of our questions. Enthusiastic even. I've never met a more cooperative subject. So you don't have to wait to hear what he told us. (Jerrod beams) Wouldn't you like to know what he told us?
ZANTAR: (long and drawn out) O-o-o-ka-a-a-y.
JERROD: (motioning with his hands) Sit! Sit!
Rolf and Zantar sit back down.
JERROD: (leaning forward and lowering his voice, even more conspiratorially than last time) He told us... (Jerrod looks around sneakily. Everyone in the room is watching and listening but he doesn't seem to notice) He told us ... that he was engaged in a plot with the two of you to steal my horses and sell them to the dwarves at the Cannon mines.
Rolf and Zantar look at each other as Jerrod pauses.
JERROD: He said, get this, that the dwarves were eating my horses. Can you believe that!
Jerrod suddenly sits back and laughs uproariously. The rest of the crowd in the room starts laughing. Jerrod slaps the two heroes on the shoulders. Finally, Rolf and Zantar start laughing as well.
ZANTAR: Good one!
ROLF: Indeed! I am slain by the humor. The man ought to be writer of comedic romances for young men. Such an imagination!
Jerrod laughs again.
JERROD: A writer of romances! Great idea! Too bad he's dead. We may have cost the world of literature a great voice!
The rest of the crowd laugh uproariously at that. Rolf and Zantar sit back and start on their drinks again, but Jerrod has different ideas.
JERROD: Well, what's this? I thought you two had to get to bed?
ROLF: (with his drink half-way to his mouth) Oh. Yes. We did say that, Zantar. And we didn't have any reason to say it if weren't true, right?
ZANTAR: (also with a suspended drink) Uh. Yeah.
Rolf puts his drink down and stands up. Zantar stands up and greedily tries to guzzle the whole thing before putting it down.
ROLF: Well, off we go.
Jerrod nods and smiles as they walk past him toward the door. He picks up Rolf's abandoned drink and takes a sip. When they get about halfway to the door he speaks without turning around.
JERROD: Yep. That elf is dead, dead, dead for plotting against me. But you two... You two have to pay me for four horses before you die.
Everyone in the room suddenly mobs the two heroes with nets and axe handles. As they are beaten into submission, the camera focuses on Jerrod's face, still facing away from the melee, enjoying Rolf's drink.