“A Poker Hand” A Modern Nursery Rhyme Screenplay
By: Barbara Sue L. Crane
Based on the original Nursery rhyme:
There once was a Man with a poker,
Who painted his face with red ochre.
When they said, “You’re a Guy!” he made no reply,
But knocked them all down with his poker.
NARRATOR – Travis Spangenburg
MAN - Andrew John
ALICE – Paige Newman
BRIE - TBA
CAROL – Shea Lee
The action takes place in a semi-dark windowless room with only two doors. One leads out of the room and out of the house and the other leads to the bathroom. There is a card table with 4 chairs arranged around it in the center of the room. There is also a small table right beside the entrance to the bathroom on which CAROL will eventually set the brandy bottle. The bathroom has a sink and mirror that can be seen if the door is open from the poker table. (If necessary, meaning if we can’t find an appropriate bathroom attached to an appropriate room, The bathroom can become a small room with a vanity and mirror combo and a large washbowl with a pitcher of water beside it.)
INT. POKER ROOM - EVENING
The atmosphere is hushed and quiet as the camera pans through the room. We see a straight cane leaning up against one of the 4 chairs at the card table and a white/gray female wig is resting on the seat of the chair. There are no cards on the table or poker chips but there is a drinking glass at every seat but they’re empty right now. When the camera comes to rest on the cane again we hear the NARRATOR for the first time.
There was an old man with a poker,
We move with the camera as it faces the back of the MAN who is in front of the mirror and sink in the bathroom. We can only see half of his face in the reflection and in it his face is almost completely covered by red greasepaint.
Who painted his face with red ochre
MAN finishes putting the red on and washes his hands clean. We see an Extreme Close-Up of the red water flowing down the sides of the sink into the drain. It is an ominous sign. The MAN pats his face with a lightly powdered washcloth so that the red greasepaint will not smear or run and then pulls on a wig cap and tucks his hair into it but he misses a few strands on the right side of his head. As he leaves the bathroom and comes over to the table we see that he is wearing a dress (Or a blouse and skirt). He picks up the wig and returns to the mirror to put it on. As he finishes pulling and tugging it on, he hears noise coming from the room next to the poker room. Having no time to pin the wig on securely, he quickly takes one last glance at his reflection and hurriedly slams the bathroom door. Unnoticed at the moment, but when he slammed the door it didn’t stay close correctly and opened just a tiny little crack as the door to the poker room opens and the 3 women, ALICE, BRIE, and CAROL walk in. All three have painted faces as well. ALICE has blue paint on her face, BRIE has black paint, and CAROL has white paint. ALICE is holding a deck of cards in her hands, BRIE is carrying a set of poker chips, and CAROL is carrying a bottle of brandy. They all approach the table and ALICE and BRIE sit down in two of the chairs that don’t have the cane on them. The MAN hobbles over to his chair at the head of the square card table and sits down. ALICE is sitting on the left side of the table and she starts shuffling the deck of cards. (A deck of playing cards is ready to use when it has been shuffled 7 times.) BRIE sits opposite the MAN and starts to divide up the poker chips so that everyone has the same amount to start with. CAROL does not sit but instead goes around the table and fills up the drinking glasses with brandy. When she is finished, she puts the bottle down on a small table by the bathroom door. As she sets it down she notices that the door to the bathroom is not fully closed and through the smallest of openings she sees what looks like a pile of black clothing on the floor with a shiny metal object glinting on the edge of the sink. That’s odd and she tilts her head to the side a bit trying to see further into the bathroom and find out what the metal object is. The MAN notices CAROL and sees that he has left the bathroom door a little ajar. He tries to reclaim her attention before she sees too much.
(in an elderly motherly tone)
Carol, is everything all right, dear?
CAROL straightens up and turns around. She walks back over to the table as she says
Yes, I just thought that… never mind.
CAROL sits down at the seat to the right of the MAN. ALICE sets the deck of cards down close to the MAN with the intention being that he will cut the cards and he does so. The camera is filming from the MAN’s point-of-view. BRIE hands out the poker chips, which she has finished dividing.
Whites are worth 5; reds are worth 10, blues 25 and blacks 50.
Each of the four players puts a white chip in the pot and ALICE starts dealing out the cards.
The game is five-card draw. It takes a pair of Jacks or better to open.
No one touches their cards until everyone has 5 on the table. ALICE sets the deck down and they all pick up their cards. In an OTS we see what cards the MAN has gotten. He has the Jack of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, the Jack of Diamonds, the Ten of Hearts and the Ace of Hearts. Almost a royal flush, when ALICE looks at him and says
Can you open?
(same voice as before and in all subsequent lines)
Yes, sweetie. I bet 25.
He puts in a blue chip. CAROL looks at him oddly and then puts in another blue chip AND a white on.
I see your 25 and raise you 10.
I call the bet.
I call, too.
(looking at CAROL)
You’re going to rob an old woman of her life savings, Carol, but I will call the bet as well.
How many do you want?
I’ll take one.
He slides his Jack of Diamonds into the discard pile as all three women raise their eyebrows.
I’ll take 3.
(with a teasing grin on her face)
I’ll take 5.
You can’t do that, Brie!
Alice, this is the worst hand you have ever dealt me. I demand a refund! (she pounds her fist onto the table)
(noticing that BRIE’s hit to the table has made the door to the bathroom open slightly wider)
But, grandma, she is always pulling stunts like this! I’m tired of it! (she slams her fist down harder than BRIE did)
The door to the bathroom opens just a little bit more. ALICE and BRIE are too busy fighting with each other to notice but CAROL does and leans towards the bathroom to try and see what the MAN wants none of them to see.
(getting very worried because the bathroom door has opened wider. His voice starts cracking at points)
Girls! Girls! Behave yourselves. Brie, ask Alice for an acceptable number of cards, now!
(scared at the tone of his voice but still sarcastic towards ALICE)
Fine! I’ll take 3 good cards, Alice!
(thrusting the cards at BRIE)
Umm… what is that? In the bathroom? I can’t quite see-
(even higher pitched)
It’s nothing, nothing! Absolutely nothing! Now, let’s finish the game girls, it’s way past my bedtime!
As he snaps his head back from looking at the door to see exactly how far it had opened his wig slips just a little. Not enough for ALICE and BRIE to notice but just enough for CAROL to. She leans towards the MAN slightly as she looks at the hair poking out from beneath the wig. The MAN turns and glares at her, which causes her to turn her head away from the table and back to the bathroom door.
Alice, Brie! Look over there!
CAROL points to the bathroom door, which has opened enough for us to now see a male mechanical razor, and a lot of facial hair on the edge of the sink. The pile of clothes on the floor is now obviously a man’s suit as a man’s tie is seen on top of the pile. The tie is red with what looks like burgundy wet spots. ALICE and BRIE look and realize at the same time that CAROL does that the MAN who they took to be ALICE’S grandmother is not her at all.
When they said…
(as they jump up from the table)
You’re a Guy!
He made no reply, but knocked them all down with his poker.
The MAN stands up as he grabs his cane and with a hard twisting jerk he pulls it apart to reveal that it is actually a sword-cane. He proceeds to stab and kill all three girls. ALICE is first to fall. As the MAN walks around the left side of the table, ALICE turns and tries to make it to the door to escape but she’s not quick enough. The MAN grabs her from behind on her left shoulder with his left hand and in an OTS we see him wrap his right arm around the right side of her head and slits her throat with the sword. She falls into the door that leads out of the poker room and slides down until she is halfway on the floor and halfway on the door effectively blocking the possibility of the other two girls from escaping. BRIE, who just watched the MAN kill ALICE, stumbles backwards as the MAN turns away from the body of ALICE and rushes toward her until she hits the wall behind her. She looks left and right frantically but there is no escape. We watch from her eyes as the MAN comes up to her, with the now bloody sword, and stab her in the stomach. We see the MAN pull the sword out of her body from BRIE’s viewpoint and then BRIE slides down limply to the floor, dead. The MAN turns around we see that CAROL is trying to move ALICE’s body away from the door so that she can escape but when the MAN turns away from BRIE, CAROL runs into the bathroom and tries to lock the door but the MAN gets there before she can and forces his way in. He pushes CAROL into the sink so that her back bends and her head hits the mirror, (it does NOT break). She is dazed as we see in another OTS the MAN’s reflection in the mirror and CAROL’s face at the same time. The MAN grabs CAROL’s throat with his left hand, she raises both her hands to try and pull his hand off her throat and struggles in vain to do so. Then with his right hand, although we don’t see it, the MAN stabs her in the stomach. Her hands slowly fall away from his arm and after the MAN stabs her he gives the sword cane a vicious twist as he pulls it out of her body while he glares into her eyes as she dies and her head goes limp. The MAN lets go of her throat and she falls sideways onto the sink/table. He turns around and walks back over to the table and turns over each girl’s hand of cards. It doesn’t really matter what kind of hand any of them had, (although BRIE’s hand has to be pretty bad and the other 2 can’t have a Royal Flush), because we see as he turns over his cards that he was able to complete his Royal Flush which is the highest hand of cards you can get in poker. He smiles sinisterly down at his hand of cards and the camera sees from that viewpoint until the end of the scene. With a menacing smile the MAN takes off his wig and in one movement slams it on top of his hand of cards on the table causing a blackout since the wig has covered the camera’s point of view. We hear his voice after the blackout and he says,