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On Safari

(A Short Play)

Parts:
Voiceover
Former President Theodore Roosevelt
Charles Smith, his porter

(To people who read this knowing that Roosevelt’s last Safari, in 1914, was to South America and not Africa: I've granted myself a poetic license.)

VOICEOVER: Former President Theodore Roosevelt lost the three-way Presidential Race in 1912 to Woodrow Wilson, but achieved his goal of denying William Howard Taft, the fat bastard, a third term. It was time for more adventures for our most intrepid of ex-Presidents!

(Two men enter, the first with a backpack, carrying a rifle and a pistol, with a huge knife in his belt. The second is using a walking stick, and is comically overburdened with baggage.)

TR: Did you see where that lion got off to?

SMITH: Uh, no sir -struggling to keep up- perhaps in the long grass? I don't think we can track him in there.

TR: Don't think we can track him! Going to let a little grass stop us, Smithy? Do you think we were worried about a little grass when me and the boys charged up San Juan Hill?

SMITH: Well, uh, no sir.

TR: That’s right! And do you think a little grass is going to stop us now!

SMITH: No, sir!

TR: Damn skippy, we’re not. -fires his pistol in the air, Smith cringes- Maybe that will spook him out. These primitive beasts fear loud noises.

SMITH: But won't that make it retreat even further?

TR: Oh no it won't! You don't understand the raison d'etre of these beasts, Smithy. They are creatures of courage and ferocity! He won't resist a challenge like that! Ha ha!

(A pause, as they both survey the landscape for the lion.)

TR: So, are you scared of the gun? You know I’ve been shot before. I was shot while giving a speech, as a matter of fact. And I GAVE THE REST OF THE DAMN SPEECH! Because I'm a Bull Moose! -pause- You can tell a lot about a man by how he reacts to the bullet. You want to give it a go?

(He points the gun at Smith.)

TR: You never know who a man is until you see how he responds to a bullet.

SMITH: I'd really rather not…

TR: As I suspected -- not only are you unable to bear a bullet well, you are unwilling to even entertain the idea! That’s why I'm TEDDY ROOSEVELT and you're carrying the baggage! Haha!

SMITH: I’m also planning on living longer, you lunatic

TR: What was that?

SMITH: I said I think the lion went into that thicket.

TR: And so he must have.

(Roosevelt pushes Smith back, into a crouching position)

TR: He knows us. We know him. Now he’s just waiting for a mistake, but we must not give it to him. Listen to me boy, I know how to hunt these carnivorous beasts!

(Sound effects guy: Give me a lion roar here!)

TR: Hah! Did you hear the fear in that roar, Smithy! He knows we've got his number!

(Roosevelt aims his rifle offstage.)

TR: Now, just when he least expects it… Go in there and flush the bastard out!

SMITHY: Me? In there? Flushing? Like a toilet?

TR: No, not like a toilet! Go around and chase the damned beast out the other way. He’s very likely frightened of us. He’s more scared of you than you are of him!

(Smith hesitantly walks offstage. Roosevelt carefully aims his gun.)

TR: C'mon you awful trophy-to-be, show yourself! Meet Teddy Roosevelt, and be in awe!

(Sound guy, give me some love: Sounds of roaring, scuffle, and a scream. Smith runs back onstage, missing an arm, with blood covering what's left of his sleeve.)

TR: Where's the goddamn lion?!

SMITH: In the thicket, sir.

TR: What happened to your arm?

SMITH: The lion bit it off, sir.

TR: And you're just going to take that from him! What in God's name is wrong with you, Smithy?!

SMITH: Well, I'm bleeding to death and feeling a bit lightheaded, sir.

TR: Well that much is obvious. But why did you let the lion bite your arm off?!

SMITH: I didn't have much choice in the matter. It’s a four hundred pound killing machine. I was quite lucky to escape with my life.

TR: Well, knowing your character, quite lucky indeed. I suppose we ought to patch you up then. Here, bite down on this.

(Roosevelt takes a bullet out of one of his guns and gives it to Smith. He then takes out a lighter and begins to cauterize Smith's arm, very very slowly. Smith screams.)

TR: Stop with that, at once! You’re going to scare the lion away! I swear, you're starting to remind me of the pansy in the White House!

SMITH: Is that a backwards compliment recalling your timidity during the early days of your presidency, before you found the courage to become The Trust-busting Defender of the Common Man?

TR: No, dumbass, it’s a straightforward critique of Woodrow Wilson, and your whining.

SMITH: Oh, right. Of course. Please continue.

TR: America is once again confronted with a challenge to our interests, and what’s that weakling do?

(Smith is silent.)

TR: I said, what’s that weakling do?

SMITH: Umm, restrict trade and begin a clandestine military build-up in preparation for our eventual confrontation with the Kaiser in defense of Britain and France, our historical allies?

TR: Wrong answer! -ties a bandage on Smith very tightly, Smith squeals- He does nothing! The bastards sink the Lusitania, and what does he do!

SMITH: Uhh, nothing?

TR: You’re damn right, he does nothing! Nothing at all! I offered to field a brigade myself! The old warrior, coming out of retirement to strike fear into the krauts, and do you know what he did!

SMITH: Politely inform you that he’s President now and doesn't need help from a past and potentially future political rival?

TR: He rebuffs me! Says he doesn’t want to create trouble! What does he know about trouble?! I’m the one with a Nobel prize on the mantle… next to my elephant skull!

SMITH: Thank you sir, I think I might not bleed to death now. Might I have some water?

(Roosevelt pours a canteen over him.)

TR: There, all better. I’m putting you in the "not dying" category now. I bandaged that wound expertly, because I’m TEDDY ROOSEVELT, and I do everything expertly.

SMITH: Quite right, sir.

(Roosevelt stands, sans gear.)

TR: Now, where did that lion get off to. He's made me angry! I’m going to take him with my bare hands. Aargh!

(Roosevelt rushes offstage. Lights out.)

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