The play's protagonist. Eddie is a larger than life, multi-dimensional character. He believes in the myths of the idyllic American West, the cowboy as a hero who saves the day, and the American Dream of country living. Eddie habitually entangles himself in volatile romances. His passionate, competitive nature magnifies itself when he drinks and when he relates to his lovers May and "the Countess." Eddie has a strange but complicit relationship with his father, the Old Man character in the play who exists only in May and Eddie's minds.

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Eddie's lover. Simultaneously strong-willed and vulnerable, May lives alone in a motel room on the outskirts of the Mojave Desert. May is a good match for Eddie in that she can keep up with his verbal gymnastics and power plays. She can make Eddie as jealous as he makes her and she can reject Eddie just as powerfully as he does her. On the flipside, May longs for Eddie just as much as Eddie longs for May.

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Old Man

Father of both Eddie and May who only appears in their minds. His surreal contributions to the play add an outsider's commentary with the perspective of an insider. The Old Man was with Eddie's mother for most of Eddie's childhood and simultaneously had a secret relationship with May's mother in another town. Through Shepard's inclusion of the Old Man, we see the extent one person's selfish decisions can affect other people's lives for years to come and the way history may repeat itself or stop a pattern in abusive relationships and in families.

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A simple, innocent, and kind man who lives in a town near May's hotel. Martin is a large man who works maintenance for places around town like the high school stadium. Martin's innocence to sexual affairs and the kind of volatile passion that May and Eddie exhibit before his entrance creates a dream-like quality to his appearance. Martin represents the hopeful, but dull life ahead of May if she chooses to let go of Eddie for good. He is also an unknowing competitor to Eddie. The play ends with Martin looking out of the window at the fiery ball of Eddie's truck.