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True West

Sam Shepard

Scene Eight

Scene Seven

Scene Eight, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

A small fire has started burning in the alcove area. We see Lee smashing the typewriter with a golf club. There are a number of stolen toasters on the kitchen counter, and a gleefully drunken Austin polishing them with his breath and a dish towel. Empty beer and whiskey bottles litter the floor and all of the houseplants are now dead.

Austin asks Lee how he should feel about the victims of his theft, all of the poor suburban folks with no toast to make their mornings a little more pleasant. Lee is very drunk and responds curtly, more interested in the task of breaking the typewriter than listening to Austin babble on about toasters. Both men are very confused as to what time it is, but Austin decides that what Lee needs is a little toast for breakfast. Austin manically drops bread into each of the toasters, turning them all on.

Lee wants to know if there is enough gas in the car to go to Bakersfield because he is in need of the pleasures of a woman. Austin does not know how much gas in the car, but thinks that toast is a much better solution than a woman, as a woman never helped anyone. Lee rifles through his pockets, looking at various women's phone numbers. He burns some of them in the small fire and keeps others.

Lee calls the operator looking for a woman name Melanie Ferguson in Bakersfield. There are ten different Melanie Fergusons, however, and as Lee does not remember where his Melanie Ferguson lives, he decides to take down all ten numbers. Unfortunately, he cannot find a pen or a pencil, and he destroys what is left of the kitchen looking for one. By the time he finds a pencil and gets back to the phone, the operator has hung up. In Austin's eyes, it is all for the best. Austin thinks that the best remedy is a good piece of toast, and likens the smell of toast to the feeling of salvation.

Austin then asks if he can accompany Lee back to the desert. Lee laughs, thinking that Austin would not last more than five minutes away from the luxuries of suburbia. Furthermore, Lee does not understand why Austin would want to leave such luxuries in the first place. Austin proclaims that nothing is real in his life, and that the only authenticity lies out in the wilderness, in the unknown. Lee is dumbfounded, as he did not go out to the desert for a transcendent, spiritual journey. He went out there only because he failed to make things work in the regular world.

Austin begs Lee to take him to the desert. Lee becomes angry and finally knocks the plate of toast Austin carries onto the floor. Austin lowers himself and slowly gathers up all of the toast. Lee, considering for a moment, offers a deal: if Austin will write Lee's screenplay without irony or criticism, Lee will take Austin to the desert. Austin readily agrees, and the scene ends while Lee loudly crunches on a piece of Austin's toast.

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