copyright © 2008 Jeff Goode

Slippery Slopes
by Jeff Goode
copyright © 2008


NEWSOME.     Mornin’ Errol. Why’re you lookin’ so glum?

ERROL.     Haven’t you heard? President Lincoln’s thinking about signing that there Emancipation Proclamation.

NEWSOME.     I had a feelin’. But what do you care? You don’t own any slaves.

ERROL.     No, but I’m just worried what it could lead to.

NEWSOME.     What it could lead to?

ERROL.     Yep.

NEWSOME.     I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way.

ERROL.     You see what I mean?

NEWSOME.     Hmm. That is troubling. It’s downright disturbing when you think about it.

ERROL.     I’m tryin’ not to think about it.

NEWSOME.     Goddamn neggras!

CARTWRIGHT.     (offstage) Howdy, neighbors!

NEWSOME.     Say, who’s that limpin’ over this way?

ERROL.     Ain’t that old Cartwright lives up the hill a ways from you?

NEWSOME.     Is that what he looks like? I never seen him outside the house.

ERROL.     Well, it is a pretty steep hill, y’know, and we had a spot of rain lately.


ERROL.     Mornin’ Cartwright, what you limpin’ for?

CARTWRIGHT.     Oh, I broke my damn ankle.

ERROL.     You know Newsome? He’s new in town.

CARTWRIGHT.     Sure, I seen him and his goddamn kids walkin’ by my house on their way to the general store all the time. All that candy’s gonna rot their intestines, just you wait!!

NEWSOME.     So you own that old house up on Mud Hill?

CARTWRIGHT.     How do you think I broke my ankle? Took a wrong step comin’ outta my front door, slid all the way down to Main Street. And got run over by a carriage.

NEWSOME.     Well, I hope you don’t mind my askin’ but why don’t you build yourself a staircase up the front hill? Make for an easier climb of it.

CARTWRIGHT.     No, thank you.

ERROL.     Well, why not?

CARTWRIGHT.     That’s a slippery slope.

ERROL.     And you wouldn’t go twistin’ up your ankles if you built some stairs up it ten years ago when you broke your foot the first time. (scoffs) Slippery slope.

CARTWRIGHT.     I’m not talkin’ ’bout Mud Hill. You think I don’t know that thing’s slicker than a pig’s vagina?

NEWSOME.     Then what’s the slippery slope?

CARTWRIGHT.     Building a staircase.

ERROL.     How do you reckon?

CARTWRIGHT.     Because you build one step, next thing you know you gotta build another one. Once you build two steps, you’re gonna want a third. Before you know it, you got half a staircase goin’ up the hill to the house.

ERROL.     You’re not gonna get too far on half a staircase.

CARTWRIGHT.     That’s what I’m saying. You build half a staircase, you might as well build the other half, or the whole town’s gonna think you’re a jackass for just building half a staircase up half a hill.

NEWSOME.     So why don’t you do that?

CARTWRIGHT.     Oh, no! I know where that leads. Right up to my front door. And once my wife sees it, she’s gonna want handrails and a porch and a proper doorframe on the windward side so people don’t have to climb in the windows all the time.

ERROL.     And what’s wrong with that?

CARTWRIGHT.     It’s a slippery slope, I tell ya!

ERROL.     Well, you make a good point.

NEWSOME.     Oh for the love o’ Saint Christ. What’s wrong with having a nice sturdy staircase leads up to your front porch?

CARTWRIGHT.     You’re not from around here, are you?

NEWSOME.     No, I’m from out West, and where I come from we got staircases all over the place, and they never give us any trouble.

CARTWRIGHT.     Well, maybe that’s how it is in San Francisco. But around these parts, you build yourself some front steps, it’s only a matter of time before you got people comin’ up ’em.

ERROL.     That’s a slippery slope.

NEWSOME.     What do you mean?

ERROL.     Happened to my spinster Aunt Cletus one summer. She forgot to stock up on ammunition and ran outta shells for her favorite shotgun. Next thing you know, visitors come to callin’. The neighbor lady brought over a pie. Coupla gals from church started comin’ by for pinochle. Sheriff took to stoppin’ in just to see if she was all right or she needed anything. And then there was that strange-lookin’ feller from down the block that she kept runnin’ into every time she went to the general store. She’d drop in for some eggs, or some milk, or some flour, and he was always there. Lookin’ at her funny.

NEWSOME.     Oh, no. What happened?

ERROL.     Well, he started comin’ by her house with flowers. And they took to courtin’. Turns out he’s an awful nice feller. Just got a lazy eye is all.

CARTWRIGHT.     They’re gettin' married come June, ain’t they?

ERROL.     Yep. Did you know he owns the general store?

CARTWRIGHT.     You’re joshin’ me.

ERROL.     Second wealthiest bachelor in town, it turns out.

NEWSOME.     So that’s good news for your spinster Aunt.

ERROL.     Oh, yes. But it’s a slippery slope.

NEWSOME.     It doesn’t sound so bad.

CARTWRIGHT.     Oh, sure. You say that now. But what happens after that? You make friends with a few nice decent folk, you might start makin’ friends with more people.

ERROL.     Start bein’ more active in the community.

CARTWRIGHT.     A feller could become downright popular. Pretty soon, you got people askin’ you to run for mayor. Maybe even Senator. And how would you like that?

NEWSOME.     To be Senator? I think I’d like that a whole lot.


GOVERNOR.     Sure you would. But it’s a slippery slope.

NEWSOME.     Who are you?

GOVERNOR.     I’m the governor. And I could make one of you Senator right now.

ERROL.     Can a Governor do that?

GOVERNOR.     Ordinarily, no. But we got a vacancy to fill. Our old Senator died not twenty minutes ago.

NEWSOME.     Oh no! What happened?

GOVERNOR.     He was campaigning door-to-door in town and slid down a mud hill didn’t have a handrail. Fell under a carriage and broke his pinky toe and bled to death right there on Main Street with a whole crowd o’ people standin’ around.

ERROL.     Wouldn’t nobody help him?

GOVERNOR.     Oh they tried. But he was carryin’ a shotgun. And unlike your poor, helpless aunt, he had shells to go with it. Coupla warming shots, and they pretty much left him alone after that.

NEWSOME.     But why didn’t he put down his gun and let somebody save him?

GOVERNOR.     I suppose he coulda. But that’s a slippery slope.

CARTWRIGHT.     He’s right there. You put your shotgun down for one minute, just cuz your life depends on it, and you know what happens next?

NEWSOME.     You live?

GOVERNOR.     Sure, I guess you could look at it that way. But what kind of life is that, let me ask you? No shotgun. Stairs leading up to your front door. Lots of friends. Leader in the community. And then BLAM… you’re makin’ love to a donkey in a Tijuana sex show.

NEWSOME.     Whoa whoa whoa! I think you missed a step there.

GOVERNOR.     Did I?

ERROL.     Yeah, I think you left something out.

NEWSOME.     How do you get from building one step at the bottom of a slick hill to doin’ a burro burlesque in Mexico?

GOVERNOR.     I thought I explained that, but since you’re new in town, let me walk you through it slow-like.

NEWSOME.     I appreciate that.

GOVERNOR.     You do one half way decent thing in your life… and next thing you know, one thing leads to another, and there you are. So you go from there, and so on and so forth and before you know it, God forbid, there’s no turning back.

ERROL.     Point of no return.

CARTWRIGHT.     Turns out its too late.


NEWSOME.     Blam what?

GOVERNOR.     Bestiality is legal.

NEWSOME.     What?

CARTWRIGHT.     All because you couldn’t leave well enough alone.

NEWSOME.     Bestiality is not gonna be legal.

GOVERNOR.     One little step in the right direction, and that’s it! It’s all over! You’re makin’ love to a dog. Or a horse. Or worse yet, you’re the dog, and the horse is makin’ love to you. And then…

NEWSOME.     Yes?

GOVERNOR.     Then you move to Mexico.

ERROL.     Okay, now I get it.

NEWSOME.     I don’t see how that could possibly happen.

ERROL.     You don’t?

NEWSOME.     No.

CARTWRIGHT.     You sure?

NEWSOME.     Yes, I’m positive.

GOVERNOR.     You’re absolutely positive?

NEWSOME.     Yes! Yes! I’m positive! I’m absolutely 100% cocksure positive that changing one little thing is not going to lead down a slippery slope that ends up with me making love to a farm animal in a foreign country.


GOVERNOR.     Are you willing to take that chance?


NEWSOME.     No.

GOVERNOR.     Thank God.

ERROL.     That was a close one.

CARTWRIGHT.     Thought we lost you there.

NEWSOME.     Goddamn hom-a-sexuals!


First performed at No Shame Los Angeles on November 7, 2008.

[Back to Workshop] Reading room