The Legend of Lightning Larry
By Aaron Shepard
Reader’s Theater Edition #1
Adapted for reader’s theater (or readers theatre) by the author, from his picture book published by Scribners, New York, 1993, and republished by Skyhook Press, 2005
For more reader’s theater, visit Aaron Shepard’s RT Page at www.aaronshep.com.
Story copyright © 1993, 2001 Aaron Shepard. Script copyright © 1993, 1996, 2001, 2002 Aaron Shepard. Scripts in this series are free and may be copied, shared, and performed for any noncommercial purpose, except the texts may not be posted publicly without permission.
PREVIEW: A cowboy with a huge smile, a gun that shoots bolts of light, and a hankering for lemonade takes on Evil‑Eye McNeevil’s outlaw gang.
GENRE: Fables (original), tall tales, humor
CULTURE: American (Western frontier)
READERS: 22 or more
READER AGES: 7–12
LENGTH: 8 minutes
ROLES: Citizens 1–8, Lightning Larry, Crooked Curt, Evil‑Eye McNeevil, Dismal Dan, Devilish Dick, Dreadful Dave, Stinky Steve, Sickening Sid, Raunchy Ralph, Grimy Greg, Creepy Cal, Moldy Mike, Lousy Luke, Gruesome Gus, (Other Citizens), (Musicians), (Bartender), (Bank Teller)
NOTES: CITIZENS serve as narrators. For best effect, place CITIZENS 1 to 4 at far left, and 5 to 8 at far right, as seen from the audience. If possible, all readers should speak with a Western drawl.
All special features are at www.aaronshep.com/extras.
CITIZEN 8: But we’ll tell you a name that strikes even greater fear into the hearts of bad men everywhere.
ALL (except LARRY): Lightning Larry!
CITIZEN 2: We’ll never forget the day Larry rode into our little town of Brimstone and walked into the Cottonmouth Saloon. He strode up to the bar and smiled straight at the bartender.
LIGHTNING LARRY: (with a huge smile) Lemonade, please!
CITIZEN 7: Every head in the place turned to look.
CITIZEN 3: Now, standing next to Larry at the bar was Crooked Curt.
CITIZEN 6: Curt was one of a band of rustlers and thieves that had been terrorizing our town, led by a ferocious outlaw named Evil‑Eye McNeevil.
CITIZEN 4: Curt was wearing the usual outlaw scowl.
CITIZEN 5: Larry turned to him and smiled.
LIGHTNING LARRY: Mighty big frown you got there, mister!
CROOKED CURT: What’s it to you?
LIGHTNING LARRY: Well, maybe I could help remove it!
CROOKED CURT: I’d like to see you try!
CITIZEN 1: The rest of us got out of the way real fast.
CITIZEN 8: The bartender ducked behind the bar.
CITIZEN 2: Larry and Curt moved about ten paces from each other, hands at the ready.
CITIZEN 7: Larry was still smiling.
CITIZEN 3: Curt moved first. But he only just cleared his gun from its holster before Larry aimed and fired.
LIGHTNING LARRY: Zing!
CITIZEN 6: There was no bang and no bullet. Just a little bolt of light that hit Curt right in the heart.
CITIZEN 4: Curt just stood there, his eyes wide with surprise. Then he dropped his gun, and a huge grin spread over his face.
CITIZEN 5: He rushed up to Larry and pumped his hand.
CROOKED CURT: I’m mighty glad to know you, stranger! The drinks are on me. Lemonade for everyone!
* * *
CITIZEN 1: When Evil‑Eye McNeevil and his outlaw gang heard that Crooked Curt had gone straight, they shuddered right down to their boots.
CITIZEN 8: Most any outlaw would rather die than smile!
CITIZEN 2: Evil‑Eye’s men were shook up, but they weren’t about to let on.
CITIZEN 7: The very next day,
DISMAL DAN: Dismal Dan!
DEVILISH DICK: Devilish Dick!
DREADFUL DAVE: And Dreadful Dave!
CITIZEN 7: rode into Brimstone, yelling like crazy men and shooting wild.
DAN, DICK, & DAVE: (hoot and holler, prance, wave guns and shoot)
CITIZEN 3: Windows shattered
CITIZEN 6: and citizens scattered.
CITIZEN 4: Then Lightning Larry showed up. He never warned them.
CITIZEN 5: Never even stopped smiling.
CITIZEN 1: Just shot three little bolts of light.
LIGHTNING LARRY: Zing! Zing! Zing!
DAN, DICK, & DAVE: (stop and fall when hit)
CITIZEN 8: Hit those outlaws right in the heart.
CITIZEN 2: Larry’s shots knocked the outlaws to the ground. They lay there trying to figure out what had hit them. Then they got up and looked around.
DISMAL DAN: Looks like we did some damage, boys.
CITIZEN 7: . . . said Dismal Dan.
DEVILISH DICK: Hope nobody got hurt!
CITIZEN 3: . . . said Devilish Dick.
DREADFUL DAVE: We’d better get to work and fix this place up.
CITIZEN 6: . . . said Dreadful Dave.
CITIZEN 4: They spent the rest of the day replacing windows and apologizing to everyone who’d listen.
CITIZEN 5: Then for good measure, they picked up all the trash in the street.
* * *
CITIZEN 1: Evil‑Eye McNeevil had lost three more of his meanest men,
CITIZEN 8: and he was furious!
CITIZEN 2: He decided to do something really nasty.
CITIZEN 7: The next day,
STINKY STEVE: Stinky Steve!
SICKENING SID: And Sickening Sid!
CITIZEN 7: walked into the 79th National Savings and Loan with guns in hand.
CITIZEN 3: They wore masks,
CITIZEN 6: but everyone knew who they were—from the smell.
STINKY STEVE: Stick up your hands.
CITIZEN 4: . . . said Stinky Steve.
SICKENING SID: Give us all the money in your vault.
CITIZEN 5: . . . ordered Sickening Sid.
CITIZEN 1: They were just backing out the door with the money bags, when Lightning Larry strolled by.
CITIZEN 8: Didn’t even slow his step.
CITIZEN 2: Just shot those bandits in the back.
LIGHTNING LARRY: Zing! Zing!
CITIZEN 7: Went right through to the heart.
CITIZEN 3: The puzzled outlaws stopped and looked at each other.
STINKY STEVE: Seems a shame to steal the money of hardworking cowboys.
SICKENING SID: Wouldn’t want to make their lives any harder.
CITIZEN 6: They holstered their guns and walked back to the teller.
CITIZEN 4: They plunked the money bags down on the counter.
SICKENING SID: Now, you keep that money safe.
CITIZEN 5: Then they pulled out their wallets and opened up accounts.
* * *
CITIZEN 1: That was the last straw for Evil‑Eye McNeevil. It was time for a showdown!
CITIZEN 8: The next day at high noon, Larry was sipping lemonade at the Cottonmouth Saloon. Evil‑Eye burst through the doors and stamped up to him.
EVIL-EYE McNEEVIL: I’m Evil‑Eye McNeevil!
LIGHTNING LARRY: (with a huge smile) Hello, Evil‑Eye! Can I buy you a lemonade?
EVIL-EYE McNEEVIL: This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.
LIGHTNING LARRY: Oh, I don’t know. Seems pretty spacious to me!
EVIL-EYE McNEEVIL: I’ll be waiting for you down by the Okey‑Dokey Corral.
CITIZEN 8: And Evil‑Eye stamped out.
CITIZEN 2: Larry finished his lemonade and walked out onto Main Street.
CITIZEN 7: Evil‑Eye was waiting for him. But Evil‑Eye wasn’t alone.
CITIZEN 3: There on either side of him were
RAUNCHY RALPH: Raunchy Ralph!
GRIMY GREG: Grimy Greg!
CREEPY CAL: Creepy Cal!
MOLDY MIKE: Moldy Mike!
LOUSY LUKE: Lousy Luke!
GRUESOME GUS: And Gruesome Gus!
CITIZEN 6: And not a one of them looked friendly.
LIGHTNING LARRY: Nice day for a stroll!
CITIZEN 4: . . . called Larry.
EVIL-EYE McNEEVIL: Draw!
CITIZEN 5: . . . said Evil‑Eye.
CITIZEN 1: All of us citizens of Brimstone were lining Main Street to see what would happen.
CITIZEN 8: Larry was still smiling, but we knew even Larry couldn’t outshoot all those outlaws together.
CITIZEN 2: Just then a voice came from the Cottonmouth Saloon.
CROOKED CURT: Like some help, Larry?
LIGHTNING LARRY: Wouldn’t mind it!
CITIZEN 7: Out stepped . . . Crooked Curt! And right behind him were Dismal Dan, Devilish Dick, Dreadful Dave, Stinky Steve, and Sickening Sid.
CITIZEN 3: They all took places beside Larry.
CROOKED CURT: Hello, Evil‑Eye!
CITIZEN 6: . . . called Curt.
EVIL-EYE McNEEVIL: Traitors!
CITIZEN 4: . . . yelled Evil‑Eye.
LIGHTNING LARRY: Draw!
CITIZEN 5: . . . said Larry, with a smile.
CITIZEN 1: Evil‑Eye and his men drew their guns,
CITIZEN 8: but Larry and his friends were an eye‑blink quicker.
CITIZEN 2: Their guns fired seven little bolts of light.
LARRY & FRIENDS: Zing!
CITIZEN 7: Hit those outlaws right in the you-know-what.
EVIL-EYE McNEEVIL: YIPPEE!
CITIZEN 3: . . . yelled Evil‑Eye.
CITIZEN 6: He shot in the air.
EVIL-EYE McNEEVIL: Zing!
CITIZEN 4: There was no bang and no bullet.
CITIZEN 5: Just a little bolt of light.
LIGHTNING LARRY: All right, men! Let’s clean up this town once and for all!
LARRY & ALL OUTLAWS: (shoot at all others) Zing! Zing! Zing! . . .
CITIZEN 1: And before we could duck for cover,
CITIZEN 8: Larry and Evil‑Eye and the others
CITIZEN 2: turned their guns on the rest of us.
CITIZEN 7: Bolts of light flew everywhere.
CITIZEN 3: No one was spared—
CITIZEN 6: not a man,
CITIZEN 4: woman,
CITIZEN 5: or child!
ALL (except LARRY): YIPPEE!
CITIZEN 1: You never saw such a happy crowd!
CITIZEN 8: We all rushed around
CITIZEN 2: and pumped each other’s hands
CITIZEN 7: and hugged each other.
CITIZEN 3: Then the musicians got out instruments and we had dancing too. Main Street was one huge party,
CITIZEN 6: all the rest of that day
CITIZEN 4: and on through the night.
CITIZEN 5: We never drank so much lemonade in all our days!
* * *
CITIZEN 1: With all the commotion, only a few of us saw Larry ride into the sunset.
CITIZEN 8: Can’t say where he went.
CITIZEN 2: Can’t say what he’s doing now.
CITIZEN 7: But we bet he still aims for the heart.
ALL: (shooting at audience) Zing!
Read the book!
The Legend of Lightning Larry
Told by Aaron Shepard
Pictures by Toni Goffe