by Shea Anton Pensa

Short Film
Email: [email protected]

Blind Man’s Bluff


Shea Anton Pensa

2nd draft Sept. 16, 2002
Shea Anton Pensa
[email protected]


A PILE OF HUMAN BONES - picked clean - lies in front of an outcropping of rocks, next to a set of slashed, torn, bloody clothes. From BEHIND the rocks, something gnaws, swallows, then sighs in satisfaction.  And tosses a RIB onto the pile, before -

A BLOOD-SMEARED ARM reaches out towards the clothes, but stops, frozen in the air, as if listening.

Seconds later, HOOFBEATS are heard approaching from DOWN THE HILLSIDE.

The arm snakes back behind the rocks, behind which, something begins to breathe heavily, laboriously.  Breathing that becomes panting: the panting of a WILD DOG.

As the hoof-beats approach, a black, vicious DOG leaps out from behind the rocks, bounding up the hill.

The hoof-beats stop just short of the rocks, followed by the sound of someone getting off of an old, creaky leather saddle.  Footsteps approach.

An elegant, handsome-as-the-devil VEDIC-INDIAN NOBLEMAN steps close to the bones, a drawn recurve bow in his hands.  He bends down to look at the bones, then the clothes.  The clothes are nearly IDENTICAL to his own.  He runs his fingers along the bloody silk tunic in the pile, and grinds his teeth.

The Nobleman looks up the hill in the direction of the fleeing dog.  His eyes clear, and the veins and tendons in his neck stand out.  He turns, leaves the rocks... seconds later, hoof-beats pound UP the hill.


THE WILD DOG sprints from below to the entrance to a SMALL CAVE, from which smoke wafts and a bare glimmer of firelight can be glimpsed. The Dog stares at the cave, then lopes in, QUIETLY.



THE DOG pads in, towards THREE BLIND BEGGARS dressed in grimy rags - outcastes.  The first one cuts vegetables for a curry, the second uses his sense of smell to prepare the spices, and the third stirs a pot over a small fire, next to a table with three bowls.

The Dog sneaks behind them, to the back of the cave, into the shadows.  The first beggar lifts his head, cocking his ear to the side; the third beggar pauses, sniffing the air.  Then they shrug and continue preparing their meal.

Until they hear HOOF-BEATS approach and stop outside the cave; they freeze.

AT THE FRONT OF THE CAVE, the Nobleman strides in, bow drawn, ready to kill, and pauses, glaring at -

FOUR BEGGARS.  The three have been joined by someone new: a good looking, wild-haired, naked beggar, wrapped in a ragged blanket, hunched over and staring-into-nothing like the other three.

The Nobleman narrows his eyes.  The beggars cock their ears towards him.




Be at rest here...


...and honor us by joining in our humble meal.

The bowstring of the Nobleman creaks as he pulls the arrow back another inch.


The Brahman did not send me to break bread with you.


The beggars shudder, moving their heads around, “looking” at each other with their remaining senses.


Have you come to kill us?

The Nobleman stares at all of them, one by one.


Yes and no.  I’ve come to kill one of you, but not kill any beggar.

The three beggars look confused, as does the fourth, who sweats a little more than the others.  LISTENING CLOSELY to the others.


But there are only beggars here.


Poor outcastes...


... mere untouchables...


(mimicking the EXACT SAME VOICE as BEGGAR #1)

Meaning no harm.

The Nobleman sneers, and keeping his bow trained on the beggars, moves backwards to the mouth of the cave.  He swiftly places the arrow back in its quiver on his back, and unsheathes HIS SWORD.

The beggars all wince at the sound.


No.  One among you does mean harm.  Lives to mean harm.  And has caused untold harm since the first Brahman spoke the first words of wisdom.


The Nobleman lifts his sword high and back over his head, then slams the pommel down hard onto the top of the cave mouth, smashing it over and over again until it starts to CAVE IN.

He steps away as the rocks fall to form a barrier to any potential escape, but one small enough one to be removed with a little hard work.


Such a man sits among us?


For the moment.  The moments when he is not a wolf, or an owl, or a tiger, or a...



Wild dog?

The Nobleman pulls out the arrow and again knocks it into his bowstring, eyebrow raised.



The beggars all “look” at each other, sweating bullets.  The fourth keeps most of his attention on the Nobleman, and the blocked entrance.


So you will imprison all of us in this cave, just to kill this man?

The Nobleman eyes the fourth beggar suspiciously.


The rocks can easily be removed in a few hours with a little work.  And it is no “man”.  It takes the shape of one, but only to torture and devour others.

All the beggars gasp.  Beggar #2 steps back away from the others, against the cave wall.



A Rakshasa?



Beggar #3 resumes stirring the pot, very slowly.


How could the three of us live in this cave for years and not know which one was the Rakshasa?

The Nobleman brandishes his sword.


I count four of you.

The beggars flinch, catching on.  Beggar #3 nods, sadly.


Of course we could not see to know it.


And if it could take on any form --


It could take on any voice.


So how will you be able to know which one?

The Nobleman looks at each, then the preparations for the meal.


The Rakshasa cannot stand any food except for human meat...

He steps towards the vegetables, spices and cooking pot, sword up and ready.



Therefore, you all shall taste a special meal tonight, that I will prepare.  One bowl of curry, and one bowl that contains...  my own flesh.

The beggars all groan in disgust.


The Rakshasa will be consumed with delight at the first bite, and will have to finish the bowl, so pleased that it will forget its trickery and show its true face.  And then...

The Nobleman slashes his sword down, cutting a vegetable cleanly in half.


Now turn around and face the back of the cave, away from me, so that none shall see which bowls holds which “meal”.

The beggars all do as they’re told, and the Nobleman rips off one sleeve of his tunic.  He prepares a bandage, then SLICES OFF A SECTION OF FLESH FROM HIS OWN ARM.  After placing it on the cutting-table, he wraps the wound tightly and chops the arm-flesh into bite-size chunks.

Taking a large bowl, he fills it with the curry that beggar #3 was cooking, and sets it aside.  Then takes the morsels of his flesh, and puts them in the pot, adding rice and vegetables and spices; a “cannibal” curry that smells exactly the same as the “normal” one is ready.

He fills an identical bowl, places it next to the first one, and backs away several steps.


Come to the table.

All four obey, and stand before the bowls.


Eat from each bowl.


Beggar #1 takes a bite from each, looking nauseas afterwards.  Beggar #2 does the same, sniffing each first, but tight-lipped.  Beggar #3 complies as fast as possible, swallowing without chewing so as not to taste the food.

The Fourth Beggar takes a deep smell of the second bowl, lifts the spoon to his lips, takes a taste--

And wretches, spitting out the curry and wiping his lips, desperate to get the flavor out of his mouth.  He lunges for the second bowl, burying his face in it, slurping at the contents, and grunts horrible sounds like a mixture of a pig and growling cat.

The Nobleman raises his sword...

... as the Fourth Beggar lowers the bowl, revealing his TRUE FACE:

Half human, half feline, like a monster that evolved from a tiger to mock the human form.

The Rakshasa hisses and moves behind the beggars, using them as a shield.


Take him!  Hold him!


They cannot hold what they cannot see!

Beggar #1 sniffs the air; Beggar #2 cocks his head to listen closely; Beggar #3 throws back his arm behind himself, striking the Rakshasa.


But we can hold what we can smell--!


--and hear!


And feel!


The Rakshasa snarls like a tiger, slashes at the beggars with clawed fingers, bites deeply and tears off their flesh, but they grip it despite the wounds, slowing it down as it tries to drag itself towards the mouth of the cave--

But the Nobleman is already behind it, sword raised.  The Rakshasa sees the movement in the Nobleman’s shadow cast by the firelight on the cave wall.


What difference will it make?  My kind cannot die!

The Nobleman slashes off one of the Rakshasa’s hands - it falls to the floor, still moving.


No, but the smallest--

-he slices off the other hand



- a forearm



- the other forearm


--small enough--

- a lower leg


--to feed to--

-the other lower leg


--the Brahman’s swine--


The Rakshasa shrieks, now just stumps and a head on a torso, as the nobleman slowly lifts the sword for the final cut--


--will mean that you will only live forever in the bellies of the pigs.  Until those pigs die, and are fed to other pigs.  Forever.

The Rakshasa’s scream is cut short as the blade severs the head from the neck, but continues trying to scream, still alive, as the Nobleman goes into a frenzy, hacking and chopping the remains until nothing is left but hundreds of tiny, twitching pieces of meat.

When done, the panting Nobleman catches his wind, stands straight and proud, and wipes the blood from his face, the essence of dignity.


What now?


Bring me a bag.

The beggar hands the Nobleman a sack, who fills the sack with the chunks of the Rakshasa.  He draws the string of the sack tightly and hoists it over his shoulder - it SQUIRMS on his back, STILL ALIVE.

The beggars collapse to the ground, weary but grateful.  They move their heads towards the sounds of the Nobleman’s footsteps as he heads for the mouth of the cave.


We thank you...


..for saving us.  May we show our gratitude by...


... offering you what little sustenance we have left to give?


The Nobleman sets to work clearing away the rocks blocking the entrance of the cave.


No.  All of you are sick and maimed, and therefore, the only meat you have to give me...

The Nobleman looks back at them once, displaying Tiger’s eyes that the blind men cannot see--

NOBLEMAN not to my liking.



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