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The Devil and Billy Markham (Short Film)
by Stephen Fisher (steve@universal-nets.com)

Rated: R   Genre: Comedy   User Review: ****
An adaptation of Shel Silverstein's the Devil and Billy Markham. Billy challenges the Devil to a game of dice, but this game could cost him more then his soul.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


A tall stranger in a long duster walks the empty street.
Lightning pounds the sky. The streets are mud from the
pounding rain. He stops in front a a dingy saloon. He stands
facing the tavern doors that swing in the wind. Loud piano
honky tonk emanates from the door way cutting of the raucous
laughter dripping from the smokey torch lit scene. He pushes
open the doors and steps inside.
The devil walked into Linebaugh's
on a rainy Nashville night.
The stranger walks from the darkness into the smokey filled
light. The crowd goes silent as his face is revealed to all.
The devil fumbles his hands in his pocket and produces two
shiny red dice.
                       THE DEVIL
Is there anyone among you who'll
roll the dice with me?
The devil looks to each man in the room. The piano player
pretends not to hear. Another man looks the other way as he
takes a sip of his beer. Another man in a corner continues
to write song lyrics on his napkin, another only whispers
sweet nothings to the whore sitting at his sleeve.
Somebody coughed. . . and the
Devil scoffed as he turned on his
heel to leave.
      (From Behind)
Hold on, before you walk out that
door. If you're looking for some
action friend, well I've thrown
some dice before.
The Devil turns to see the man standing in front of the
swinging tavern doors. A guitar case slung low on his back
and the scars and lines of a hard musicians life on the


And there stood Billy Markham,
he'd been on the scene for years,
singing all those raunchy songs
that the town didn't want to hear.
He'd been cut and bled a thousand
times, and his eyes were wise and
sad. And all his songs were songs
of the street, and all his luck
was bad.
I know you from many a dark and
funky place, but you always spoke
in a different voice and wore a
different face. While me, I've
gambled here on Music Row with
hustlers, hacks and whores. My
dues are paid, and I ain't afraid
to roll them dice of yours.
                       THE DEVIL
Well then get down and put that
guitar away. Take these dice in
your luckless hands and I'll tell
you how this game is played. You
get one roll - and you bet your
soul- and if you roll thirteen you
win, and all the joys of flesh and
gold are yours to touch and spend,
but if that thirteen don't come up
then kiss your ass goodbye and
will your useless bones to God,
cause your goddamned soul is mine.
Thirteen? Hell, I've played in
tougher games then this. I've
loved ambitious women and rode on
wheeless trains. So gimme room you
stinking fiend, and let it all
unwind. Nobody's rolled a thirteen
yet, but this may just the time.
The Devil shoves the dice into Billy's hands. Smoke rises
from his clenched fists, but Billy is too proud to show the
Devil his pain.
Damn, these things are heavy as


                       THE DEVIL
That's cause they are carved from
Jesus' bones.
Billy turns the heavy, red hot dice in his hands. They are
completely blank.
                       THE DEVIL
I am sorry Billy, but these are
the only one's I've got.
Well shit. I really don't mean to
bitch, but i never thought I would
stake my roll in a suckers game
like this.
The Devil opens up the tavern door.
                       THE DEVIL
Well then walk off. Nobody's tied
you down.
Walk off where? It's the only game
in town.
Billy un-slings his guitar from his back.
But I just wanna say before I make
my play, that if I should chance
to lose, I will this guitar to
some would be star who'll play
some honest blues. Someone who
ain't afraid to sing words like
damn, shit or fuck, and who ain't
afraid to put his ass on the stage
where he makes his bucks. But if
he plays this guitar safe, and
sings some sugary lies, I'll haunt
him until I meet him in Hell. Now.
. . let's roll some dice.
Billy squats on his hunkers and shakes the sizzling dice in
both hands. He winds up and let them rip.
Come on thirteen.
The dice land with a thud and roll to a stop. The face show
blank. The Devil jumps up and down a smiles down on Billy.


                       THE DEVIL
The Devil recomposes himself and stands up straight. The
lookey-loo's in the bar once again turn to take care of
their own.
                       THE DEVIL (Cont'd)
But I really must say before we go
our way that I really do like your
style. Of all the fools I've
played and beat, you're the first
one who lost with a smile.
Billy stands back to attention. He straightens his coat and
his shirt, looking to get ready like a man put in front of
the firing squad.
Well, I'll tell you something.
Those odds were too damn bad. In
fourteen years on Music Row,
that's the best damn chance I've
Action is simultaneous with the Narration.
Then the Devil takes Billy under
his cloak, and they walk out
through Linebaugh's door.
The door swings behind them as they leave through the rainy
darkness. The guitar sits on the dusty, sawdust floor. Every
person left stares at it too afraid to touch it.
                       NARRATOR (Cont'd)
Leavin' Billy's old guitar there
on the sawdust floor.
                                         FADE OUT
                                         FADE IN
The saloon has changed it's appearance to a more modern
style. On a nail above the bar hangs the old guitar. It has
not seen a day of action since the fateful day Billy left it
against the wall.


                       NARRATOR (Cont'd)
And if you go to Linebaugh's now,
you can see it there today.
Hanging . . . from a nail on that
wall of peeling gray . . . Billy
Markham's old guitar . . . That
nobody dares to play.
                                         FADE OUT
                                         FADE IN
Hell appears to be your greatest imagination of Hell.
Billy's being turned on a spit. Imps and demons dance
joyously around him. The action and direction follow the
Narrators prose.
Billy Markham slowly turns on a
white hot spit. And his skin it
crackles like a roasting pig, and
his flesh is charred and split.
Sulphur fills his nostrils and
he's fed in slime and mud . . .by
a hairy imp with a pointed stick
who bastes him in spiders blood.
His eyeballs boil up inside his
skull and his throats to charred
to scream. So he sleeps the sleep
of the burning dead and he dreams
unspeakable dreams.
A screaming skull comes to land near Billy's feet. The Devil
enters the scene, a putting iron in one hand. He is quite
different then the last time we met him, as his head is now
completely bald and his horn appear to have sprouted. He
looks very much the type of demon we have shown him to be.
Another imp follows carrying a golfing bag full of clubs.
The Devil saunters right up to Billy and hits the skull
screaming away. He takes one look at the blackened toes.
                       THE DEVIL
Hey Bill, how're they hanging? I'm
sorry I couldn't give you a tomb
with a view, but right now this is
the best we got. But as soon as
we're done with Atilla the Hun,
we'll move you right into his
spot. Have you met your neighbors?


                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
Have you heard their screams? So
they keep you awake in the fire?
The Devil appears to notice an issue in the distance. An imp
not doing his complete duty.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
Hey, a little more brimstone on
number 9, and hoist them thumbs a
bit higher. Ah, you can't get good
help these days, Bill, and there
ain't much profit in Hell.
Another infraction catches his attention. An imp who can't
seem to turn the wheel just right.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
No, turn that adulteress upside
down. Do I have to do everything
The Devil proceeds to turn the offending bound and gagged
woman on her head.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
I tell you Bill, it's a full time
job tending these red hot coals.
All this shoveling and stoking,
and frying, and smoking, prodding
and poking, stretching, and
chocking. . .Why I hardly got time
for collecting new souls. Which
brings me to the subject of my
little visit. Now you're one of
them natural born gambling men,
and I'll bet you'd give most
anything to get those dice in your
hands again. So, instead of
swimming in the muck and slime and
burning crisp . . .as toast. .
.I'll trade you one roll . . .of
the dice for the souls . . .of the
ones you love most.
Trade the souls of the ones who
love me most? Not a chance in Hell
I will.
                       THE DEVIL
Spoken like a hero.


The Devil kicks the imp feeding and basting Billy.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
Hey, a little more fire for Bill.
The fire goes up like a furnace around Billy.
You can roast me bake me or boil
me. Go and have your fiendish fun,
A coward dies a thousand times - a
brave man dies but once.
                       THE DEVIL
Oh beautiful, sensitive and poetic
too, but life ain't like no rhyme.
I know ways to make a brave man
die a million times.
Hey take your shot. . .Throw what
you got. . .but I won't trade love
                       THE DEVIL
That's what they all say, but when
I turn up the fire. . .they play.
The Devil cackles and saunters off with the caddy imp
looking for his last shot. The direction follows with the
narrators lines.
And the flame burns white and
Bill's flesh burns black and he
smells his roasting stink. And the
hell rats nibble upon his nose. .
.and Billy begins to think. . .
Billy and his sweetheart lay on a blanket kissing. The
remnants of their picnic in front of them. It now appears to
be time for desert.
He thinks about his sweetheart who
loved him through his crazy days.
. .


A dilapidated old home sits in the distance. As we pull
closer and old woman sits silently dozing in her rocker.
He thinks of his gray-haired
momma, hell, she's getting old
A little crib lays in the corner. A sleeping child dreams
He thinks about his baby daughter
- he ain't seen her since last
Billy now reacts restlessly to fire. He squirms from his
bindings on the spit. His eyes are closed but one can see
the torment to be set free has finally worked itself on his
      (At a much faster
He thinks about walking the Earth
again and he thinks of the
horrible pain he's in, and he
thinks of the game that he just
might win and he yells . . .
Hey!!! Take them all!!!
A puff of smoke and Billy is gone.
An updated version of old Linebaugh's. The guitar hangs from
a nail. The only regulars who appear to be present is a fly
buzzing around a plate of untouched food. His loved ones
stand around to witness their fates. The Devil squats across
from Billy, the red hot dice sit in the middle. Burn marks
show underneath.


I guess my point is still
                       THE DEVIL
The point is still the same, but
the stakes are your loved ones
Billy grabs the dice. The audible hiss and sizzle sounds
once again, but Billy either does not notice or does not
care. .
Well, one never knows when lady
luck's gonna smile on a man. And
if a charcoal corpse from Hell
can't roll thirteen, then who the
hell can?
Billy winds up and pitches the dice. The land with a thud.
Please thirteen.
The first one comes to a halt. Six shows on the face. The
second one rolls to a stop. Another six. A fly lands on the
second dice and shits right in the middle, turning the face
into a seven. Billy stands and begins his celebration.
Kissing each of his loved ones. They stand triumphant this
Thirteen! Thirteen! Thirteen!
Thirteen! I have beat the Devil's
                       THE DEVIL
Oh have you now.
The Devil huffs and puffs and blows the speck away. He looks
to Billy and his family with a satisfied grin as they stare
back at their dumbfound luck.
                       THE DEVIL
Which only proves that Hell's too
big to buck, and when your
gambling for your ass. . .don't
count on flyshit luck.


Billy walks back to the Devil looking ashamed for his
mistake. His family weeps at the price they now pay for
Billy and his game.
Well, luck and love. . . they
never do last for long, but you
know that fly shitting on that die
would have made one hell of a
                       THE DEVIL
You're a songwriting fool. There
ain't no doubt about it. As soon
as you lose one damn game, you
wanna write a song about it.
There's a whole lot more to life
and death the rhymes and tunes you
give 'em.
The Devil snaps his fingers. The guitar hanging from the
nail appears in his hands. He strums a few chords.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
Any fool can sing the blues. . .
Any fool can sing the blues. . .
Let's see if you can live them!
The Devil begins to cackle with glee. All dissaper in a
thick cloud of smoke. The only sound left hanging for the
empty room to hear is the maniacal laughter of the Devil.
The lonley fly from the saloon buzzes around Hell. He seems
to have gotten caught up in Billy's game by just trying to
save him. He flies on his way to exact his revenge on Billy.
Billy wakes up back in Hell, being
stuffed with white, hot coals.
While imps dance on his head and
shit in his hair and wipe their
asses with his soul. . .
The fly buzzes by Billy's mom. She lays on a spit and
screams in agony.


                       NARRATOR (cont'd)
And he hears the screams of his
momma as she turns in the purple
Next the fly sweeps by the crying baby girl as imps dance
lavishly around her crib while brandishing pointed pitch
forks. The baby's screams sound like nails on a chalkboard.
                       NARRATOR (cont'd)
And he hears the cries of his baby
girl as she pays the price of his
The fly lands next to a whole in a cave. Inside you can hear
soft moaning emanating from a woman, followed by playful
laughter. The fly moves on.
                       NARRATOR (cont'd)
He hears the the voice of his own
true love laugh like a child at
play, as she satisfies the Devil
in her own sweet loving way.
The fly finds his target. The noise from his loved ones
echoes in his tomb. His eyes fill with tears as he clamps
his hands over his ears trying to shut out the noise. The
fly buzzes past Billy, who deftly tries to swat it away. The
fly manages to maneuver past him and lands nimbly on his
                       NARRATOR (cont'd)
And buzzin' cross Bill's burning
bones and landing on his starin'
eye, and nibblin' on his raostin'
flesh is the grinnin' Linebaugh's
                                         FADE OUT
Darkness all around. Red light can be faintly felt, but the
scene remains dark. Screams come from all around, Billy's
loved ones are more pronounced. Through the sound of the
pain comes the seductive voice of the Devil.
                       THE DEVIL
Good morning Billy Markham, it's
time to rise and shine.


The living Hell comes to life in front of Billy's eyes. The
Devil's face so close to his, he can smell the rotten stink
of his breath. His bony claw rests on Billy's shoulder.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
Wake up sunshine. I'm giving you
another turn.
Go away and let me burn.
                       THE DEVIL
Well you sure are a grouch when
you wake up, but you wouldn't let
a chance go by.
Another chance to roll thirteen?
Stick it where your fire don't
shine.I've played your game, now I
feel the shame as I hear my loved
ones' cries. And I'll piss on your
shoe if ever you come near me
again with them flyshit dice.
                       THE DEVIL
Dice? Dice? Who said dice? Anybody
hear me say dice?
He looks to the imps around him as they all hurriedly shake
their heads "no." He turns to another.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
Hey imp, pour my buddy here a cool
glass of water and throw in a nice
big chunk of ice.
And since when do you go around
handing out gifts, except pokes
from your burning pitchfork or
buckets full of boiling shit?
                       THE DEVIL
Well, it's Christmas, and all of
us down here below. . .we sort of
celebrate in our own special way.
It just so happens that this year
you're the star of the show.
Hell fades away as the Devil looks back on the night before.
A large moon fills the cold dank night.


                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
Why just last night I was up on
Earth and I seen that lovers'
moon. And I said to myself 'Hey, I
bet ol' Billy could use a little
bit of poon.'
Poon? Last thing I need is poon.
Talk about getting my ashes
hauled, hell, I'll be ashes soon.
The scene snaps back to Hell as the Devil's face turns red.
He kick an imp and turns to the others.
                       THE DEVIL
Damn! Damn! Damn! He's been to
long on the fire. I told you to
fry him slow, now you gone and
burned out his desire. You gotta
leave 'em some hope, leave 'em
some dreams, so they know what
Hell is for. 'Cause when a man
forgets how sweet love is, well,
Hell ain't Hell no more.
The Devil turns back to face Billy and explain the rules of
the new game.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
So, just to refresh your memory
Billy, we're gonna send you backto
Earth, and I'll throw in a little
Christmas blessing to remind you
what life is really worth.
The Devil produces a wristwatch and synchronizes it.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
For exactly thirteen hours. . .you
can screw who you want to screw,
and there ain't no creature on
God's Green Earth who is gonna say
no to you. While me and all these
burning souls and all my imp
fiends, we're gonna sit down here
and watch you on this big 70-inch
HD screen.
The Devil gives a wave of his hand and right in front of
Billy a home theater package appears complete with couch and
5.1 Dolby surround sound.


                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
We'll see each hump you're
humpin', and we'll hear each grunt
you groan, and we'll laugh like
hell at the look upon your face
when it's time to come back home.
Well, a chance is a chance is a
chance, but what if one won't
gimme none? What if one says no?
                       THE DEVIL
No? What if one says no? Ain't
nobody gonna say no. Nobody quits
or calls in sick when the Devil
calls the show. Not man nor woman
nor beasts, and no laters or
maybes or buts. Before one soul
says no to you I will see these
Hell gates rust. . .But if anyone
refuses you. I say, any one you
name. Then I will set you freeto
stay on Earth. Now get out and
play the game!
There a flash of light and a thunderclap.
Billy's burns look damn near healed. The asphalt sings
beneath his feet as he starts his walk to begin the thirteen
hour game.
First he stops in at the Exit Inn
to seduce the blond at the door,
the the RCA receptionist he takes
in the office floor. He nails the
waitress down at Mack's, the one
with the pear-shaped breats, and
four of the girls from B.M.I.
right on Frances Preston's desk.
He screws his way from M.C.A. to
Vanderbilt's ivy walls. And he
pokes everything that giggles or
sings or whimpers or wiggles or
crawls. First Debbie, then Polly,
then Dotty, then Dolly, then
Jeannie, and Jessie, and Jan, then
Marshall and Sal and that


                       NARRATOR (cont'd)
redheaded gal who takes the
tickets down at Opryland. And
Brenda and Sammy and Sharon adn
Sandy, Loretta and Buffy and May
and Terri, and Lynne at the
Holiday Inn and Joey and Zoe and
Faye. Then Sherry and Rita and
Diane and Anita, Olivia, Emmy and
Jean and Donna and Kay down at
Elliston Place - right there in
the Pinto Beans. Then Hazel and
Carla and an ex-wife of Harlan's,
then Melva and Marge and Marie and
three fat gospel singers who all
come together in perfect
three-part harmoney. He is humpin'
the Queen of Country Music, when
he hears the Devil Moan.
The Devil and imps and all lost souls sit and stand around
the couch cheering old Billy on.
                       THE DEVIL
Make it sweet Billy Markham, but
make it short. You've got just
thirty seconds to go. All of us
here, we're applauding your show,
and we'd say you done right well.
We just can't wait to hear you
moan, when you're fuckless forever
in Hell.
Billy, hearing this gives his one last thrust and throws the
queen back to the bed.
Hold on! If I got thirty seconds
more, then I got the right to one
last hump before it's time to go.
There's another flash of light and a thunderclap.


Billy once again stands in front of the Devil to offer his
last terms.
                       THE DEVIL
Well raise your voice and make
your choice, but you'd better be
quick and strong. Make it a cum to
remember Bill, it's gotta last you
eternity long.
As the Devil names each type of female, they appear next to
him. It appears that each has bought their costume from Sexy
Costume Warehouse.
                       THE DEVIL (cont'd)
So who will it, who will it, who
will it be? Who's gonna be the
one? Starlet or harlot or
housewife or hippie or grandma or
schoolgirl or black-robed nun?
Fresh scented virgin or
dope-smokin' groupie or sweet ever
smiling Stew?
Billy examines all his choices. Thinking out each one
I think I'll. . .take you.
He points to the Devil. A hushed silence falls to the
gathered crowd. The woman go up in a cloud of smoke.
                       THE DEVIL
Foul! Foul, no fair! The rules
don't hold for me.
You said man or woman or beast,
and I guess you're all of the
A roar erupts from all of Hell as the demons and imps and
all the lost souls scream out.
He's gonna fuck the boss!


                       THE DEVIL
Why you filthy scum! I give you a
chance to live again and you bust
me in front of my friends!
Play or pay. So set me free at
last, or raise your tail and hear
all Hell wail when I bugger your
devilsh ass.
                       THE DEVIL
OK, OK, OK, you win. Go on back to
your precious Earth, and plod
along and plug your songs, but
carry the lifelong curse. You
shall lust for a million women and
not ones gonna come your way, and
you shall write ten million songs
and not ones ever gonna get
played. Your momma and your
daughter and your own true love. .
.they gonna stay down here with
me, and you'll carry the guilt
like a move able Hell wherever the
hell you be.
A flash of light and a thunderclap.
Billy's back on Earth. He looks up to the day, glad to be
free. He sees his old saloon and decides he needs a drink.
So back on the streets goes Billy
again, eatin' them Linebaugh's
Billy sits up on stage playing new guitar. What people that
are left in the audience are just now heading out the door.
Singin' his songs while nobody
listens adn tellin' his story that
no one believes.


Billy sits at a lonely table.
He gets no woman and he gets no
hits but he says what he thinks.
A man sits at the table across from Billy. He orders two
drinks as Billy starts to talk.
                       NARRATOR (cont'd)
Hey, buy him a round. . .it won't
cost much. . . ice water's all he
The two drinks are brought to the table and set down. One a
beer, the other a tall glass of water. Billy greedily gulps
it down. He set's it down and wipes sweat from his brow. His
shirt sleeve rolls up just enough to catch a hint of a burn.
He notices the man across staring. He hurridly puts his arm
down and adjusts the sleeve.
                       NARRATOR (cont'd)
But try not to stare at the burns
at his wrist as he wipes the sweat
from his head, as he tells how the
Devil. . .
The Narrator's voice trails into Billy's as the fourth wall
is broken.
Burned me black. . . but I turned
the Devil red.


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From Kelin Field Date 12/1/2009 ****
Very interesting. I began to read a few lines but found myself compelled to read more. Very poetic, and flows nicely.

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