Captain Spaulding on Skull Island

Happy Holidays!  Here’s a short play I wrote for the festivities.

THE YULE-GATOR AT THE NEON CYPRESS by John Weagly

(Lights up.

The Neon Cypress, a roadhouse down by the swamps.  There are a couple of signs advertising Abita beer and Old Crow whiskey.  Cajun Christmas music plays on the jukebox.  JUVENAL tends bar and looks like he’s been tending bar here for several decades.  WALLY sits at the bar, an abiding barfly.  After a moment, ALICE enters. She is in her early-twenties and attractive in a wild way.  She carries a log.)

ALICE

Got it!

JUVENAL

Look at that there – As fine a pagan tradition as I ever did see.

ALICE

Found it over by the Black Willow Cascade.  It should burn just fine.

WALLY

Light it and don’t let it go out.

(ALICE puts the log into a barbecue grill that the Neon Cypress uses as an impromptu fireplace.)

ALICE

What’s the point of a Yule log, anyway?  I never did know.

WALLY

It’s bad luck to let it go out.

JUVENAL

‘Round about these parts, the stories go back year after year about the Yule-Gator.

ALICE

Is this one of those ridiculous swamp legends you like to tell?

JUVENAL

Legend – yes, ridiculous – no.  This happens every year around this season.  Now-a-times we call it the Eve of Christmas, but, long ago, it was just Winterpeak.  On Winterpeak, from out of the coldest, deepest, darkest part of the swamp, came the biggest alligator the bayou ever seen – the Yule-Gator.

ALICE

The Yule-Gator?

JUVENAL

That’s right, to be sure.

ALICE

Let me guess, the Yule-Gator roams the countryside with nary a care in the world, gobbling up all the bad little boys and girls.

JUVENAL

That’s it!  That’s what he does!  Grown people, too!  The Yule-Gator goes after anybody that’s done somethin’ in the last year that they was ashamed of.

ALICE

That don’t narrow the field too much, does it?

JUVENAL

Long as a fallen tree that grew for a hundred years, heavier than all the marsh-mud that could be dredged up by ten thousand men – he has eyes like frozen hearts and claws like insults from an ex-lover.  His teeth are so long and sharp that…

ALICE

We get it!  He’s a nasty dude.

JUVENAL

That he is, surely.  The only thing that keeps that ornery monster away from people trying to love each other is the light and the warmth of a Yule log burning.  People sit around that fire together and that kind of comradery gives them safety and protection from things that mean to do them harm.

WALLY

It’s bad luck to let it go out.

ALICE

Okay – so that’s the point of a Yule log.  Keeps away the Yule-Gator.  I guess now I know.

WALLY

Light it and don’t let it go out.

ALICE

Okey-doke.

(ALICE searches her pockets for matches or a lighter.  She finds nothing.)

ALICE

Looks like I’m all out of fire tonight, fellas.

(JUVENAL and WALLY both search their pockets.)

JUVENAL

I ain’t got nothin’.

(WALLY makes a gesture to indicate “Me, neither.”)

ALICE

So, how do we want to handle this?

(Something starts scratching at the door to the tavern, something that sounds very large and full of ill will.)

ALICE

That him?  That the Yule-Gator?

JUVENAL

It ain’t Father Christmas.

ALICE

How ‘bout that.

(They listen to the scratching for a brief moment.)

ALICE

Got any ideas on getting’ rid of him?

JUVENAL

Either of you done anything in the last year that you’re ashamed of?

ALICE

Nope!  I live fine with the stuff I do.

WALLY

Me neither!  All year I’ve been lit and I didn’t let it go out.

JUVENAL

Me, too.  My guilt is pretty inconsiderable.  (Calling.) You hear that, Yule-Gator?  No shame here!  No need for you!  Go on, Gator!  Git!

(The scratching at the door ceases.)

ALICE

Back to the coldest, deepest, darkest part of the swamp he goes!

(JUVENAL pours three drinks and raises his glass in a toast.)

JUVENAL

To the holidays and tradition!

(JUVENAL, ALICE and WALLY all drink.)

ALICE

Anybody got any stories about eggnog?

(Lights down.)

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