Rough Justice

Rough Justice, A Play in Two Acts

This play is available for community and school theatre use. Act one is available for free download, no registration required. Please contact me to receive act two.

The Count of Monte Cristo. Moby Dick. Hamlet. All classic works of literature deep-diving into a time-honored theme: Revenge.

Now comes Rough Justice, a full-length play wherein a rich, erudite society matron utterly opposed to violence accidentally saves the life of a professional hit man, who in return offers to kill anybody the woman names. Thus is Geneva Eddington’s comfortable, self-satisfied existence turned upside-down by her chance encounter with Eddie “The Icepick” Anderson.

Rough Justice is based on the short story Pound of Flesh, featured in my recently-published collection, Acts of a Dubious Nature. I had reasoned that it would be no great chore to transform story into play. Such was my innocence, in that it took me over two years and countless drafts (but which I’m told is not all that bad, in that it took Lin-Manuel Miranda seven years to write Hamilton).

But enough backstory. I invite you now to enjoy the first act of Rough Justice. It really is an entertaining, at times even profound, dramatic excursion if I do say so myself, which I have, many times. Local theater companies out there: are you listening?

Download Act I of Rough Justice

Acts of a Dubious Nature

The idea of making choices, then accepting or refusing to accept their consequences, has long intrigued me. Every act we perform, large or small, voluntary or not, sets into motion countless ripples. Most subside harmlessly. Others grow into crashing waves with dire effects, many of them unforeseen and unintended. Each of the characters in these stories has made or is making choices that will validate the age-old admonishment of the prophet Hosea: sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

I invite you, then, to read these brief synopses of the ten stories in Acts of a Dubious Nature.

My most recent short story, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, is free when you subscribe to my mailing list. See below.

Most characters in these stories are hilariously reprehensible. . . An aptly titled set of tales about the amusingly and shockingly misguided.” —Kirkus Reviews

Refined and unpretentious, these short stories are directed by possibilities and filled with distinctive characters.” —Foreword Reviews

The strongest among them radiate ambiguity, allowing readers to form their own judgments, and Canino is careful to infuse warmth and humor where needed. ” —BookLife Reviews

Holy Sacred Icons

Axel’s failing health and diminishing independence leave him no choice but to ask his greedy, grasping niece, Dot, to live with him. She agrees, then proceeds to dominate the old man’s life. But Axel is tougher than he looks, and Dot finally makes one demand that he cannot–will not–abide.

The Way to a Woman’s Heart

Dim-witted Duane has it bad for auto parts clerk Bethany, a gum-smacking hottie who barely knows he exists. But when Duane finds a bona fide spaceman, he resolves to enter it in the upcoming livestock show, win the blue ribbon, and thereby capture Bethany’s attention and–who knows? –maybe even her heart.

Inappropriate Touching

“Don” Carmine never meant to get in so deep with a murderous loan shark, but here he is. Now, to have his debt forgiven, he asks the earnest young boxer he manages, Xavier, to take a dive in an upcoming fight. But Xavier and his feisty trainer, Lickety, have other things in mind.

Pound of Flesh

If you accidentally saved the life of a professional hit man, who then offered to kill anyone you like – no charge, no questions asked – would you take him up on it? The rich, learned and opposed-to-violence society matron Geneva Eddington faces just that question when she saves Eddie “The Icepick” Anderson.

Dead Weight

Edgar is a rancher whose peace was long ago shattered in the cruelest of ways. He has tried to move on, but the memory keeps dragging him back. Now, in perhaps his last act ever, he resolves to finally do something meaningful and earn a little redemption by getting a fat, dying cow back on her feet.

One to Nothing

Betrayal. Counseling. An upscale dinner fraught with toxic undertones. Just another night out for Mason and Veronica, a couple whose tenuous relationship is either about to end or simply move into Round Two. This is the shortest story in the collection, but it punches above its weight.

Man in a Hurry

Morris Fletcher should have checked his parachute more carefully. Now he’s busy falling to his death while a host of memories, regrets and worries rush through his mind – like if his funeral will be well-attended, and whether his eyes will bleed when the lands. You know, the usual.

The Ancient Mariner Goes Home

Admiral Hans Mundt wanted his ashes buried at sea. The problem is that he lived in Minnesota. When his grieving widow asks a nephew on the Gulf Coast to help, he rounds up a crew of reprobates and party animals for a burial service that falls just this side of reverence.

Perfect Strangers

The icy woods of WWII France afford little comfort to the badly wounded Benny Kovack. Things look dire until he’s found by a fellow soldier who assures him that he’ll stay until help comes. But when Benny begins to speak his mind about war and killing, the situation suddenly changes.

The High-Pressure Salesman

He wants the big new job. The prestige. The corner office. But first he has to pass muster with the CEO, who invites him out for golf and a friendly wager. All goes well until he realizes that winning might not be in his best interests, and therein lies his dilemma.

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