A pub – 2 round tables and a bar. A barman chatting with customer. 3 people seated at a table drinking and talking.
Barman – Can I get you something to eat or drink sir – the menu card is on the table. The roast lamb and vegies is on special tonight.
Stranger – Yes that sounds good – I’ll have one of those but a drink first.
Barman – Of course – what would you like.
Stranger – Its hotter than a drovers arm pit and I am thirsty – get me a Corona with a slice of lemon.
Barman – Sorry Sir we dont have that.
Stranger – (Annoyed) Just give me a VB then – whatever you have on tap round here.
Barman – I meant we dont have beer.
Stranger – (Astonished) A pub with no beer. What sort of godforsaken cursed hellhole is this place?
Barman – Cursed – maybe we all are cursed – and godforsaken did you say – yes thats true…ever since that business over Eddie.
Stranger – What are you blabbering about man – I am dying of thirst.
Barman – The beers run out. No supply all week.
Stranger – Whats for drinking then?
Barman – We have everything else. Ale, wines, spirits – just no beer.
Stranger – Ok get me an ale then (sarcastically) chilled – if your freezer is not broken as well.
The barman pours 2 drinks and sits down at the table with the man.
Barman – Mind if I join you ?
Stranger – Feel free.
(They raise glasses and drink)
Barman – No one stops over here in this godforsaken dump.So what brings you here? Just passing through.
Stranger – Yes all the way from Sydney. I am driving down to Melbourne but with a few stops on the way.
Barman – On a holiday all by yourself ?
Stranger – Oh no – this is work. I am inspecting a few properties for my clients – rural properties. There was one not far from here that I had to look at – the Coopers Farm, near Bermagui.
Barman – The Coopers Farm – thats interesting – is that up for sale.
Stranger – Yes. I followed the map and took the turnoff from the highway.
Barman – Not many people go up there anymore.
Stranger – I am not surprised. It is in the middle of nowhere.
Barman – Yes that place has not been occupied since that business about Eddie the blackfella.
Stranger – How strange – you know I asked for directions from a man on the dirt road – he was a black man – and his name was Eddie.
Barman – Cant be the same – the Eddie I am talking about died years ago….. at least thats what I have been told.
Stranger – Really ? What happened ?
Barman – Its all to do with Coopers Farm. I have grown up here, so I know the whole story. The last owners of Cooper Farm was John and Catherine Cooper. They took up the property and started raising some sheep and beef cattle.
The light shifts to the other group in the pub. The man (John Cooper) and the woman (Catherine) gets up.
Catherine – Its late, wont you come to bed.
John – You go on – I will be late.
Catherine – Late doing what ? Drinking.
John – You have a problem with that woman. Cant a man have a drink in peace after a hard days work.
Catherine – Yes you have been working hard – we both have. Its hard for the 2 of us. There is so much to do.
John – Its not as if you didnt know it would a hard slog. I know you pitched in with your inheritance, but that was of your choice. I never forced you.
Catherine – Its not so much the work. Its the loneliness – the heat – the flies – everything. I wish we had never moved to the country.
John – Now now – no need to turn on the waterworks. I know its been tough – especially for you. I tell you what – we will hire a help. That will free me up to give you a hand with your work.
Catherine – Can we afford it.
John – I think so. If we do well at the wool sales next month we will be ok. Tell you what I will ask around in town tommorow and see if I can hire someone to help around the farm. You go on to bed – I will come along shortly.
Light switches to Barman and the Stranger.
Stranger – Living on the land, its not everyone’s cup of tea.
Barman – Not a truer word said my friend. Running a farm can be a hard life. The rains are never reliable. A few bad seasons can wipe out a good man.
Stranger – So what happened with the Coopers – did they find good hired help.
Barman – Oh yes. John Cooper was as good as his word. He came into town the next day to hire someone to help him around the farm. This is only a small town you see – so finding someone to help is not always easy. But John was lucky – he found someone – a drifting jackaroo – Eddie the blackfella.
Light switches to other table – The two men get up John Cooper and Eddie the Blackfella
Eddie – I heard you wuz looking for help boss – so I came around – I have worked in farms before.
John – Really – where have you worked before ?
Eddie – I worked last year at the XT spread during shearing you know up near Tungarra and before that at Double B for Mr Barwell. I did mustering work for him. I can do mustering, shearing, fencing and I can drive a tractor.
John – Ok I will give you a go. Its 50 bucks a day and you can stay in the outhouse.
Eddie – Dont worry boss – you wont be dissapointed.
John – Ok bring your gear in and start from tommorow.
Light switches to Barman and the Stranger.
Stranger – So they hired Eddie the blackfella.
Barman – Yes he helped John around the farm. He was strong, fit and young. He gained Johns trust and respect. He had dinner in the Cooper house every Saturday. Now I dont usually make judgements on other folks actions and I hope you are the same. Lets remember it was a lonely life – she was a city girl far away from the city lights and it was a long hot summer. One Saturday evening Eddie came over to the Coopers for dinner. Katherine was all alone.
Light shifts to other Table. Katherine and Eddie get up.
Eddie – Good evening Mrs Cooper.
Katherine – Hello Eddie. You are a bit early the roast is still in the oven.
Eddie – I had finished all my jobs, so I thought I would come down to see if you needed some help.
Katherine – Thats sweet of you. Well John has gone into town to see a man about business. He was going to chop up some firewood before dinner. He wont be long. Why dont you sit down.
Eddie – No I am fine. Should I come back a bit later.
Katherine – Dont go. Stay with me. I have never had a chance to talk to you properly. I dont know a thing about you. Where you are from, are you married, where your folk are? Nothing I know nothing about you at all. Do you like music Eddie. Do you like the music on the radio.
Eddie – Sure Mrs Cooper – its nice. I better be gone I’ll come back in an hour.
Katherine – Are you feeling shy. Hahaha – yes you are. I bet you have had lots of girlfriends before. This song they are playing just now. I used to love to dance to it when we were in the city. But now I never have a chance to dance anymore. Would you want to dance with me Eddie ?
Eddie – I cant dance maam.
Katherine – Thats ok – come I will show you how. Put your arm up. Hold my hand. Now the other one on my waist. Yes just like that. Now follow my steps. One two three, One two three.
They start waltzing around the room in a close embrace slow dance. They do not notice John has entered the room. He has an axe in his hand.
John – I have put the firewood in the cellar dear. Enough to last a week.
He looks up and sees Katherine and Eddie in guilty embrace.
John – Whats this? Katherine whats going on?
Katherine pushes Eddie away.
Katherine – He barged in when you were not in. He just grabbed me by force John. I couldnt do anything to stop him. I said no – but he would not listen.
John – You miserable bastard – is this how you repay my generosity. I will make you pay.
He seizes Eddie by the collar.
John – You touched my Katherine with your dirty hands – you will pay dearly you dog.
John forces Eddies hand down on the table and brings the axe down violently. Eddie screams in pain.
The light switches to the barman and the stranger.
Stranger – What happened to Eddie? Did they kill him?
Barman – I dont know – no one saw him after that. Maybe he left town.
Stranger – Surely if he was alive he would have gone to the police.
Barman – Dont be silly it was his word against the Coopers – dont forget he was a blackfella
Stranger – So the Coopers went unpunished?
Barman – I wouldnt say that. The rains failed 3 years in a row. They lost everything. After that John sold up the place and moved out. But no one has lived in Coopers Farm since. They say Eddie the blackfella put a curse upon the place.
Stranger – The man I saw at Coopers farm today. He asked me for a light. When I was lighting his ciggerette I saw his hands. They were horrible – I will never forget those hands.
Barman – Horrible hands – why what was wrong with them ?
Stranger – His hands were not human hands.
Barman – What sort of hands were they ?
Stranger – I cant think anymore. The drink – that ale what did you put in the ale.
Barman – The ale was spiked – you will be feeling very dizzy now – your head will be heavy and sight go dim.
Stranger – Why? Why have you done this?
Barman – You got it right when you called this a cursed godforsaken hellhole. Its a stinking hot little hellhole. We are all cursed. Cursed by Eddie – cursed by fate. And you stranger you are cursed as well – since you chose to stop over for a drink at the pub with no beer. Before you pass out I want you to tell me about that mans hands. What were they like?
Stranger – Let me go please. I cant remember…I cant think….I cant
Barman – Think goddam you think hard – remember – you have to remember. WERE THOSE HANDS JUST LIKE THIS ?
The barman reveals grotesque disfigured hands (use halloween gloves) and grips the stranger from behind around the neck. The other 3 on the next table start laughing rising in crescendo as the light fades out.