SCENE 1 – Restaurant, 2013

 

BILLY enters. The waitress, SHERRY, starts to put a menu in front of him, holds it.

 

SHERRY

Usual?

 

BILLY

Sure.

 

JOANNE enters, drifts over to Billy's table.

 

JOANNE

Hey, Billy.

 

BILLY

Hey, Joanne. What are you doing here?

 

JOANNE

I thought I'd drop by before you went off to work.

 

Joanne sits down. MIGUEL, an older man, enters. Billy gestures him to the table. Sherry huffs off for another menu.

 

BILLY

Gonna set yourself on fire again? [to Joanne] El Fuego here don't like nothin' ain't got those hallopigno peppers in it.

 

MIGUEL

Can't you pronounce somethin' right?

 

BILLY

Can't you figure what we got here to eat, you Spic Okie?

 

They both laugh.

 

JOANNE

That ain't nice.

 

BILLY

He don't care.

 

MIGUEL

You ever think where it comes from, "Spic"? From Spic n' Span, cleans stuff out.

 

BILLY

Nah, Spic 'n Span's whiten than white.

 

both laugh again.

 

SHERRY [returning with another menu]

We got the pancake special.

 

MIGUEL

What's so special about it?

 

SHERRY

I slide a plate under it 'stead of slappin' it right on the table.

 

JOANNE

I'll have two over easy with the sausage an' the home fries. White toast.

 

MIGUEL

I'll try the pancakes. On a plate. [Sherry leaves] I almost got myself punched out.

 

BILLY

For what?

 

MIGUEL

This guy, drunk as an armadillo –

 

JOANNE

Didn't know they drunk much.

 

MIGUEL

Anyway, he gets in my face, says I'm takin' his job because, ya know, I come up from Oklahoma to work the rigs, he's gone flatten me.

 

BILLY

They get riled.

 

MIGUEL [to Sherry]

I don't rile you?

 

SHERRY

What?

 

MIGUEL

That I come up from Oklahoma and drill. Fracking.

 

SHERRY [waves hand dismissively]

Watch yer mouth! Just kidding. My grandfather – you 'member him, Joanne? – he talks about timbering way back. They ripped everything off the hillsides. That was a mess, I'll bet.

 

BILLY

Ricketts, ghost town, can't even find but foundations, down off 487 by Red Rock.

 

JOANNE

No wells around Lopez anyways.

 

MIGUEL

We're comin' right down Dutch Mountain Road.

 

JOANNE [to Sherry]

Your grandpa work on the timbering?

 

SHERRY

Nah, that was over a hundred years back. It was his dad worked, and my grandpa passed on the tales.

 

MIGUEL

We got all kinds of tales down our way. That chupacabra.

 

BILLY

Chupawhat?

 

MIGUEL

Goat sucker.

 

BILLY [looking askance at Joanne]

Maybe you don't want....

 

MIGUEL

It ain't nothin' dirty. This scary-lookin' half animal, half monster that milks goats.

 

JOANNE

When all was your great grandpa doing the lumbeirn'?

 

SHERRY

1890, thereabouts. Just started the place up out of nothin'....

 

lights down, SONG, "Working on a Building," Kentucky Colonels

 

SCENE 2 – Ricketts, summer 1891

 

ENNIS and CATHERINE, McGONAGALL stand next to their partially finished wall. Ennis is getting a plank ready to fit.

 

CATHERINE [pointing]

Is that to be the Ricketts company store?

 

ENNIS

No, that'll be the church. The company store is going up over there. [points]

 

CATHERINE

Trexler and Turrell already have a company store in Lopez.

 

ENNIS [preparing to attach plank]

And welcome to it.

 

CATHERINE

Why are you so set against a company store?

 

ENNIS

They charge what they feel like, and you don't know the cost until they yank it from your pocket come payday.

 

CATHERINE

My! That does sound deleterious. There will be a school here?

 

ENNIS

Could be two.

 

CATHERINE

Two? For such a tiny place?

 

ENNIS

The town is in two counties. And everything will get big enough. Half a billion feet of lumber to cut, they say. Busy enough, big enough, you bet.

 

CATHERINE

Glory be, what a startling situation and o'rewhelming condition.

 

ENNIS

Your mind's like a whirlwind with a stick beatin' on it. When they get them schools up, you should try out to be a teacher.

 

CATHERINE

A simple woman such as me? Why that would reorient the senses.

 

Ennis starts laughing.

 

ENNIS

Don't you practice that addlepated-wife on me, you already got it down to a fair-thee-well.

 

CATHERINE

Ennis McGonagall, what a terrible and misassigned thing to say.

 

ENNIS

They could use the likes of you. You don't know the teachers I had. Miss Delahanty, mean-spirited as a sick dog. After her, I quit school, never looked back.

 

CATHERINE

Dear me. [suddenly alert] Ennis, if you place that nail where your arm is aiming you'll go smack-dab into a knot.

 

ENNIS [checking]

Right, as usual.

 

enter LULIA SOROVITZ, gives bag of nails to Catherine

 

CATHERINE

Good day, Lulia. Is your house proceeding apace?

 

LULIA

Oh, it moves well along. Bang up the boards soon as they cut. [to Ennis] What will finished town look like, you think?

 

ENNIS

I don't know. The Jennings, they built Lopez. They have the saw mill and the general store and they put up maybe 50 houses for the workers. 300 or 400 workers. Them two mills, Jennings' and Trexler's there, cut 200,000 feet a day. And they ship out 5,000 tons of bark for the year, that alone. McCartney, whoever he is, set up a kindling wood factory too in Lopez. It's got a drying tower 100 feet tall.

 

CATHERINE

All these numbers set my head into strenuous tribulations.

 

LULIA

Such big as Lopez it will be here also in Ricketts?

 

ENNIS

More or less, I guess. Once Trexler has the big mill finished here.

 

LULIA

My Rudin, he will be ax-man in the woods.

 

CATHERINE [alarmed for Ennis]

Ennis, are you certain you will not be sent to cut trees in the forest? That could be greatly open to pulverizing injury.

 

ENNIS

I'll be in the mill for sure. Nothing there to worry about there but six-foot circular saws and staving knives.

 

LULIA

I think maybe injury come for all.

 

CATHERINE

The discombobulations of our existence seem never to right themselves.

 

LULIA

I must go, help with supper at the bunkhouse.

 

CATHERINE

We will join you presently.

 

exit Lulia

 

ENNIS

It will all come out OK, don't you fret it. Never should of bought you that big dictionary though.

 

CATHERINE

You could do well to expand the circumference of your vocabulary.

 

ENNIS

I make good enough use of that big book to press the grease out of my bacon.

 

CATHERINE

Ah, go on with ya, man.

 

lights down, SONG, "Jumpin' Jack Flash," Rolling Stones


 

SCENE 3 – Morgan family home, 2013

 

BETH MORGAN, her daughters BARBARA and KELLY are seated around their breakfast table.

 

BARBARA

Are the gas wells going to explode?

 

BETH

Of course not. What made you think that?

 

BARBARA

Pete Shapiro said it's boom time for the gas companies.

 

BETH [laughing]

That means it's a time when something big brings in a lot of jobs and activity.

 

KELLY

We have to get up early because the bus comes early because of all the trucks going to the wells. They're a pain.

 

BARBARA

The well pads are ugly and they cut down some of my favorite trees.

 

BETH

If you think the well pads are ugly, you should have seen Lopez a hundred years ago during the biggest boom time ever, when they were cutting timber.

 

KELLY

Everybody cuts trees down. That's how they get firewood.

 

BETH

But they don't cut down all of them. Wait a minute. I have some photos.

 

exit Beth

 

KELLY

Mom said that if they find gas on our land, we'll become royalty.

 

BARBARA

I'll be a princess?

 

KELLY

You'll be Cinderella and play in the ashes after the well goes boom.

 

enter Beth with a photo album.

 

BETH

See, this is how it looked before they started lumbering.

 

BARBARA

Wow! All woods. That's great. Mom, Kelly says if we get money when they find gas, I'll be a princess.

 

KELLY

Cinderellllaaaa.

 

BARBARA

Royalty!

 

BETH [laughing again]

You two. You don't get to be royalty, we get royalties – money for the gas they take from our ground.

 

KELLY [to Barbara]

So you can buy your way out of the ashes.

 

BETH [angry]

Kelly, stop that right now.

 

KELLY

It's just a joke. Dad used to joke like that all the time.

 

BETH

Yes. I know.

 

BARBARA

I wish Dad still lived with us.

 

BETH

Things don't always work out the way you hope. Let's take a quick look at these other pictures. See, here, the town's been built, and they did that very quickly.

 

KELLY

It was a lot bigger then.

 

BETH

Over a thousand people. But ... this is what it looked like when they were through timbering.

 

BARBARA

That's awful.

 

KELLY

It's like the Moon.

 

BETH

The good and the bad. They show up together. [her hands form a ball] In so many things. OK, time for the bus.

 

Barbara and Kelly hustle off stage. lights down, SONG, "School Days," Byron G. Harlan


 

SCENE 4 – Ricketts schoolhouse, 1893

 

Three students, MIKEL, JAMES and RIVONIA, sit at desks, with Kelly and Barbara seated behind them. The teacher, Catherine, gives instruction. James is writing, Mikel doing arithmetic, Rivonia diagramming a sentence.

 

CATHERINE

What is that you're doing, James? It hardly looks like a decent hand for cursive.

 

JAMES

I never can make a good G, Miss McGonagall. It comes out funny.

 

CATHERINE [looking over James's shoulder]

Sure there is a certain humor in it.

 

MIKEL

His 'rithmatic's funny too.

 

CATHERINE

And yours is the joy of Jesus, Mikel? Until you have mastered all there is in the world to master, keep your expressions of negativity to yourself.

 

RIVONIA

Miss McGonagall?

 

CATHERINE

Yes, Rivonia?

 

RIVONIA

When will the railroad be put through?

 

CATHERINE

By summer, they say. The Lehigh Valley coming up from Lopez will somehow connect to Wilkes-Barre, which is still to me a myth of a place to me. A branch line with connect to the mill and carry off all the lumber and bark heaped there. As for the rest, I cannot surmise.

 

JAMES

My father says there are seven tons of bark ready for the tannery at Noxen when the railroad comes.

 

MIKEL

Is that a lot?

 

CATHERINE

It's more than a breadbox but less than an elephant. Or perhaps more than an elephant. It could be two elephants.

 

MIKEL

How do you do that, weigh bark against an elephant?

 

CATHERINE

You put the bark on one pan of a scale and the elephant on the other. If the elephant is willing to cooperate.

 

MIKEL

These sums drive me crazy.

 

CATHERINE

No crazier than normal. Hush and do your work, the sooner it will be accomplished.

 

JAMES

Miss McGonagall, when does the mailman come?

 

CATHERINE

He arrives normally about 3 pm from Dushore. Why do you ask?

 

JAMES

My father's expectin' a package.

 

RIVONIA

Do they send your father's meat by the mail?

 

JAMES

He don't get his meat by the mail.

 

CATHERINE

He doesn't, James.

 

JAMES

That's what I said.

 

MIKEL

Where does the meat come from then that he sells?

 

JAMES

We raise it ourselves, cows an' pigs an' rabbits an' what all else.

 

MIKEL

Horses.

 

JAMES

My father don't sell horse meat!

 

CATHERINE

He doesn't, James.

 

JAMES

You keep sayin' it over, Miss McGonagall.

 

CATHERINE

I am correcting your atrocious grammar.

 

MIKEL

It is better than his father's meat.

 

CATHERINE

Mikel, that is superfluously mean thing to say. Apologize this instant!

 

MIKEL

Sor-ry.

 

JAMES

The horses go to the shoemaker for the hides, those as ain't for the tannery.

 

MIKEL [muttering]

I would hide from your father if I were a horse.

 

RIVONIA

I do not understand how this works, the drawing of the sentences, the...

 

CATHERINE [pointing to diagram on blackboard]

Diagramming. It is a useful method for teasing out the friendships between parts of speech. Se how the subject sneaks up on the verb and pushes it along to get the work done, then, look, the verb shifts the load on down the pike to the object. It is an equitable arrangement, all in all.

 

MIKEL

Smitty goes to the downtown school.

 

JAMES

They got but one room.

 

RIVONIA

We in uptown have two.

 

MIKEL

I told Smitty [sing-song], "You only have a half a schooool."

 

CATHERINE

Cruelty to the less fortunate does not become you, Mikel.

 

RIVONIA

I do not say that to the uptown children.

 

CATHERINE

Good.

 

RIVONIA

I only think it.

 

CATHERINE

Och, the subtle, supple minds of the young. Let me see your work.

 

she inspects Rivonia's sentence diagram

 

CATHERINE

I think you may have discovered a previously unregistered language. What is this down here, like an opossum's curled tail?

 

RIVONIA

That is the odd verb.

 

CATHERINE

Odd indeed, but the word is "adverb." And it does not wave slyly to the prepositional phrase as to a long-lost acquaintance.

 

she picks up the bell from her desk and rings it three times

 

CATHERINE

Clear your table, pack your implements underneath, retrieve your coats and skedaddle to your families. Tomorrow, remember, we meet for breakfast at the Shantz Hotel, so graciously offered by Mr. Shantz. When the meal is complete, I expect you each to thank him for his generosity.

 

MIKEL [whispering to Rivonia]

James's father will bring the food – Clydesdale on toast.

 

All walk out in line. lights down, SONG, "Adverb Song," Kathy Troxel


 

SCENE 5 – Road to well pad, 2013

Billy and TAMMY, a rig worker, eat sandwiches by Billy's semi.

 

TAMMY

Ain't the best food ever put together.

 

BILLY

Better stuff at Sherry's.

 

TAMMY

Where's that?

 

BILLY

The one out by Lopez.

 

TAMMY

That's not the name.

 

BILLY

That's the waitress.

 

TAMMY

You eat where you don't know what the name is?

 

BILLY

It's the food, it ain't the name.

 

Tammy puts down her sandwich and gets up

 

TAMMY

I gotta go check the frack stack.

 

BILLY

For what? Nothin' ever happens.

 

TAMMY

It's my job.

 

Tammy trudges off. Billy's CB squawks at him. He hits the send button.

 

BILLY

What?

 

VOICE

When you comin' through?

 

BILLY

As soon as I finish eatin'. Hold your horses.

 

Tammy enters

 

BILLY

How's that go with the drilling anyway? I just drive.

 

TAMMY

We drill down about 1,000 feet when we're tripping in the hole­ –

 

BILLY  [laughing]

You're trippin' on what?

 

TAMMY

Geez, just listen. Trippin's when we start up. So we put the mud down for the drilling ­– it's a slurry, lubrication, you know what that is leastways? OK, we put seven layers of casing down that first 1,000 feet. Then after it's drilled all the way into the shale, then we frack it.

 

BILLY

So how's frackin' work?

 

TAMMY

It's pressure. You put enough pressure into the rock, it breaks up. You ain't seen that? [She takes his hand between her two to illustrate.]You got shale on the surface, it just splits into layers if you leave it out?

 

Car horn beeps. Billy turns and waves.

 

BILLY

Hi, Joanne.

 

TAMMY

Same down there, only we help it along, and that lets the gas seep out. We push sand through to keep the cracks open.

 

BILLY

I heard it's miles deep.

 

TAMMY

Mile, mile and a half.

 

BILLY

You ever run into trolls?

 

TAMMY

Trolls?

 

BILLY

They're supposed to live underground.

 

TAMMY

You believe that? You must be some special kind of stupid.

 

BILLY

What do you do after, when the gas is ready to come up?

 

TAMMY

We put on the Christmas tree.

 

BILLY [starts laughing uproariously]

What's Santa leave for you up there?

 

TAMMY [getting pissed]

It's valves and controls for the gas. Sets off alarms and shuts down the pipe if there's a problem. That's what we call it 'cause of the way it looks, stuff pokin' out.

 

BILLY

So who are you when you go look at it? The Easter Bunny?

 

Tammy gets up and grabs her sandwich wrapper.

 

TAMMY

Maybe I'm just somebody your blind mama run over on the road.

 

BILLY

Hey ­– I seen this truckstop 'round Allentown, Trexler Plaza. Up here I heard somebody talk about that name back when there was lumberin'.

 

TAMMY

Yeah. Company that used to cut down trees.

 

BILLY

They ever hire Joe to cut down trees?

 

TAMMY

Joe who?

 

BILLY

Joe Mama.

 

lights down, SONG, "Truckin'," Grateful Dead


 

SCENE 6 – Lopez Hotel, 1896

 

EDWIN TREXLER stand outside the Hotel holding a whiskey jug. WORTH JENNINGS enters.

 

WORTH

Well. Edwin.

 

EDWIN

Worth. Good to see you. Hear you got elected to the state house.

 

WORTH

Correct.

 

EDWIN

That's quite something.

 

WORTH

It is. Where are your partner and my brother?

 

EDWIN

They'll be along. [reaching for the jug]Col. Ricketts won't allow alcohol into his town. My partner, Cocky, he goes along with that. Says it could make the woodhicks all squirrelly.

 

WORTH

Yes.

 

EDWIN [offering the jug]

Maybe a little of this would let words of more than one syllable out of you.

 

WORTH

Hardly necessary. At the moment. [but he eyes the jug]

 

EDWIN

Where'd the Colonel grow up to think like that about the liquid of relaxation?

 

WORTH

Maybe in the war. He stopped the rebels, some say.

 

EDWIN

Stopped 'em from drinking?

 

WORTH

Held the hill at Gettysburg. The Louisiana Tigers could not get by.

 

EDWIN [taking a swig from the jug]

Cuz he was sober?

 

WORTH [taking the jug and sampling]

Maybe it was the other way. The rebels were not fired up enough to fight.

 

As they talk they pass the jug back and forth. DAISY McGILL and MARION STUCKLEY saunter by.

 

DAISY

Hello there, fellahs, having a bit of pre-prandial lubrication?

 

EDWIN [both drunk and confused]

We're enjoying our selves quite fine, thank you.

 

MARION

Such enjoyment should be shared wider, doncha think?

 

WORTH

For the moment, we'll hold this to ourselves, Miss Stickely. Stuckley.

 

MARION

Oh, I know you can hold your liquor, Worth.

 

The women enter the hotel, laughing.

 

EDWIN

Friends of yours?

 

WORTH

Acquaintances. Of a sort.

 

EDWIN

Something blew up at your mill?

 

WORTH

Edging grinder. Four tons of metal blasted every which way. One piece, over hundred pounds, straight up 50 foot through the roof and back down through the floor. Not one injury.

 

EDIWN

The Lord was on your side. You buying the clothespin factory from McCartney?

 

WORTH [alky beginning to take effect]

Already did. Done deal. Deal done. And electricity. We're putting it in all over the whole wide town.

 

EDWIN [turns and looks at the hotel sign]

Why's the Z backwards?

 

WORTH

Don't know. Maybe McGee can't see straight. Can't 'member how he got the place. Farrell and Deegan started it up. Those porches, called 'em verandas, like some cotton plantation. Know how Deegan pulls in money? Woodhicks come in, give him their pay, he runs a tab until's all gone at his bar. Woodhicks have to work extra month to make enough do it all uver again.

 

EDWIN

That's greasy doings. [looks around] Lot goin' on here these day.

 

WORTH

Al Dyer's got the meat shop and the poolroom. Kester's drug store, two whole barbers – 'magine that much hair – two of them hatmakers –militaries, millinaries – blacksmith, course, gotta have blacksmith. We built us, Cortez and me, mostly Cortez, always mostly Cortez, workers' houses, outa wood. Don't charge them rent neither. [points]They got a bear out back the hotel.

 

EDWIN

A bear?

 

WORTH

Performin' bear.

 

EDWIN

What's a bear perform?

 

WORTH

Bicycle tricks or, I don't know.

 

enter COCKY TURRELL and CORTEZ JENNINGS, smiling in a guarded way

 

COCKY

So ... you will take it all, what's left?

 

CORTEZ

Absolutely.

 

EDWIN [waving the jug]

I'll drink to that.

 

COCKY

Trexler, you'll drink to anything.

 

EDWIN

A somewhat unfair comment.

 

All walk into the hotel, sit at a table. Edwin brings the jug. Daisy and Marion are seated at the next table. They point at the silly drunks and mock the sober businessmen. Louise, the barmaid, saunters up.

 

LOUISE

Brought your own? That's agin house rules.

 

WORTH

This is a hotel, not a house. And it's our town. Built it. Jennings Brothers, wiffout which, no town.

 

LOUISE

I'll bring you a glass of mountain water, then. Anything for the rest of you, or are you abstainers?

 

CORTEZ

I will have an ale, Louise.

 

COCKY

Same here. With an egg in.

 

LOUISE [chucking him under the chin]

For you, love, the whole chicken.

 

Marion clucks loudly. Louise exits

 

CORTEZ [to Cocky]

You have processed the remainder of the hemlock up to the Ricketts line?

 

COCKY

To the last sapling.

 

CORTEZ

Then we must be content with hardwood.  And I am content. Within ... certain conditions.

 

COCKY

Conditions?

 

WORTH [reaching for the jug]

Con-di-tions.

 

EDWIN

Con-di-ments.

 

DAISY

Oooo, ain't they the eloquent ones?

 

Women dissolve in snorts of laughter.

 

COCKY

The conditions are straightforward enough. We, Trexler and Turrell Lumber Company, here rather haphazardly assembled [sweeps hand to include Edwin], sell all holdings covered by our Lopez contracts to you, Cortez and Worth Jennings, operating as Jennings Brothers Lumber for an, ahem, agreed-upon price.

 

CORTEZ

I had not yet noticed such agreement.

 

COCKY

Which is to be established as we are here ... assembled.

 

WORTH

Ass-embled. I like Louise. You like Louise?

 

MARION

That ain't hardly a question with you, Worth.

 

CORTEZ

Much of the remaining hardwood seems of questionable quality.

 

COCKY

But most is of unquestionable magnificence.

 

EDWIN

Aw, just give the men their trees.

 

COCKY [close to fury]

Why don't you go outside to see if the sun has set?

 

Edwin starts to get up

 

DAISY [pointing to window]

It's still there. See?

 

all drunks sing "You Are My Sunshine," then sit down. Louise returns.

 

LOUISE

Whose tab does this go on?

 

CORTEZ AND COCKY [together]

His!

 

LOUISE

Fine. I'll put it all on both.

 

Louise stomps off, muttering

 

CORTEZ [to Cocky]

You would seem to have reached a prime deal with the Colonel.

 

COCKY

Col. Ricketts would like all clearcut, except for that glen with waterfalls. His wife is quite fond of it, he claims.

 

CORTEZ

Women.

 

EDWIN

I like women. Some of 'em like me, soda speak.

 

MARION

Come on over, big fellah. We could use a real man.

 

COCKY

Look here, Cortez. Your firm and ours – both have done more than tolerably well. We should not have to dicker all night to come to an agreement. [pulls out paper and hands a sheet to all the men] Here: You write down a figure, I will write down a figure. We can exchange papers and then make adjustments. If necessary.

 

Cocky quickly writes a figure and starts to pass the paper across, but Cortez is turning the paper over, making computations, turning it right side up again. Edwin is drawing on another sheet, which he holds up, allowing the women and the audience to see his stick figures.

 

COCKY

Come along, man, it can't be that difficult.

 

CORTEZ

I do not rush my investments.

 

WORTH

Y'd look funny in vestments. Wrong kind of collar.

 

DAISY

Bless me, Father, for I am drunk!

 

Cortez finishes his calculations and switches papers with Cocky. Cortez shows no reaction, but Cocky seems astonished.

 

COCKY

Heavens to turmoil, Cortez, this is downright insulting.

 

CORTEZ

It is a bargaining chip.

 

COCKY

You will need many more chips than this on the table.

 

Both men write new figures. This time Cortez moves as rapidly as Cocky. They again exchange papers. Cocky shakes his head and writes a third number. After a slight pause, Cortez does the same. They switch. Cocky comes close to a nod.

 

EDWIN

We should get better name for our comp'ny, yers an' mine. Y'know, both our names together, one word. [makes squashing motions with his hands]

 

WORTH

Mash it up in a ball. Bumph.

 

EDWIN

Like ... Turler. See? Both of us in it together? Trex..ell...er. Uh, Turlet?

 

Marion snorts her drink out her nose.

 

COCKY

For the Lord's sake, go outside and drink the rainwater.

 

EDWIN

Not raining.

 

MARION

Go on, quick, it's raining corn liquor!

 

CORTEZ

Gentlemen! Can we get back to business?

 

Louise slaps down two slips of paper, one in front of Cocky, one for Cortez.

 

LOUISE

On both tabs, like you asked, and that includes refills.

 

CORTEZ       

We had no refills.

 

LOUISE

That's your tough, ain't it, dear?

 

COCKY

What kind of outfit do you run?

 

She pats Cortez' head and strolls off.

 

COCKY

We are well within striking distance. What say we set this aside for the evening and finish negotiations tomorrow morning?

 

CORTEZ

Good. Yes. Most are now abed. It is time for us to turn in, too.

 

WORTH [confused]

Turn into what?

 

lights down, SONG, "Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," Sousa's Band


 

SCENE 7 – Lopez, Loyalsock Creek bank, 2013

 

The Morgans are walking by Loyalsock Creek

 

BARBARA

Why do they have that those bombs that spell Lopez?

 

BETH

I don't know. It's one of life's mysteries.

 

KELLY

Like why Barbara's hair smells like a rattlesnake.

 

BETH

Kelly, that's a terrible thing to say!

 

BARBARA

It's OK Mom, she doesn't know what a rattlesnake smells like and she'd run away if she saw one.

 

KELLY

So would you.

 

BARBARA

Especially if it looked like you.

 

BETH

Why can't you two stop fighting?

 

BARBARA

Because we're siblings, Mom. It's natural.

 

Kelly is looking down the creekbank

 

KELLY

What's that stone thing down there?

 

BETH

I think it's part of the dam for the old mill pond.

 

KELLY

What did they use that for?

 

BETH

After they cut up the logs in the woods, they floated them down the creek or loaded them on railroad cars and dumped them in the mill pond. They'd line them up and float them over to the sawmill to cut into boards.

 

BARBARA

There was a railroad here then?

 

BETH

They had railroads all over the county, but most of them were only around for a few years.

 

BARBARA

That's a lot of work for a few years.

 

BETH

They didn't build the tracks the way they do now. Sometimes they just piled logs one way and then another, sort of criss-cross, to make a solid base and put the tracks right on top of them. They didn't always use square ties because they knew they'd just have to rip it all up in a couple years once they'd lumbered all the trees.

 

KELLY

But wouldn't the engines fall off?

 

BETH

They did.

 

BARBARA

What?

 

BETH

Not every time. People got hurt a lot doing the lumbering. Cutting down trees, skidding them down the hills, loading them on the trains, driving the trains, unloading them into the ponds – men had to stand on the logs to push them around in the water and sometimes they rolled underneath the logs and got caught. And you know what your dad's table saw was like?

 

KELLY

Sure.

 

BETH

That had a 10-inch circular blade, with a guard on it. These saws had 6-foot circular blades, with no protection.

 

KELLY

You could get cut in half.

 

BARBARA

Why did the half man cross the road?

 

BETH [puzzled]

Why?

 

BARBARA

To get to his other side.

 

Kelly groans loudly

 

BETH

I don't think you should joke about these things.

 

BARBARA

If you can't laugh it's just going to hurt more.

 

BETH

Barbara Morgan, sometimes you amaze me.

 

KELLY

She amazes me every day.

 

BETH [pleased]

Really?

 

KELLY

I'm amazed some zoo hasn't come to collect her.

 

lights down, SONG, "Going to the Zoo"

 

SCENE 8 – Ricketts forest, 1896

 

Two woodhicks, THOMAS and JABOZ, stripping bark from a fallen hemlock, take their lunch break.

 

THOMAS

Bugs.

 

JABOZ

Bee-tles

 

THOMAS

What's the difference? Back where you are?

 

JABOZ

I am right here.

 

THOMAS

Guess so. The bugs – beetles – then that mad storm come on, 200 million feet of timber smashed flat, Mr. Trexler said. Couldn't save much more than half of it. Bet they lost a lot of money from that.

 

JABOZ

We not lose money because we not get money to lose. They pay us the, the... [makes motion of popping something into his mouth]

 

THOMAS

Peanuts.

 

JABOZ

I like the peanuts to eat. I do not like them for pay.

 

THOMAS

You just come in this year?

 

JABOZ

This year, yes. Never I find a place smell so bad.

 

THOMAS [sniffs]

Smells OK to me.

 

JABOZ

The bunkhouse. 50 men, all pile up one on top the other. We all stink, and the little biting things –

 

THOMAS

Lice. It ain't so bad. Good food, huh, and lots of it. Mrs. Selby, she cooks 30 or 35 loaves of bread every day.

 

JABOZ

Every day, 6 o'clock to 6 o'clock work. And so many socks to wear, three pairs, and straw inside boots. Otherwise, feet freeze off, but more stink.

 

THOMAS [after a pause]

That new lath mill – how many pieces of lath you think it turns out?

 

JABOZ

I do not know, I do not care.

 

THOMAS

Thirty thousand pieces of lath every blessed day. That's what Mr. Trexler says.

 

JABOZ

Mr. Trexler the big boss is such friend he tells you so much?

 

THOMAS

Naw. It's just the word gets around.

 

They sit and eat quietly for a few seconds.

 

THOMAS

Lopez started up about three years before us. They're bigger than Ricketts.

 

JABOZ

It is where Stenya and I go for the liquor.

 

THOMAS

You bet. Woo hoo! Hit the pig's ears.

 

JABOZ

You hit pig in the ear?

 

THOMAS

That's what we call the bars, where they sell the liquor. Saturday night, I let my hair down.

 

JABOZ

Let down your hair?

 

THOMAS

It's an expression. Means you can let loose, unwind, do the hoochie coochie.

 

JABOZ

You make no sense. No hoochie, no coochie.

 

THOMAS

Nelly and some of the other ladies, they've started up a literary society. They read books and talk about them.

 

JABOZ

Let them come here and cut down trees.

 

THOMAS

Women don't do that.

 

JABOZ          

Our women, they could.

 

THOMAS

They really do that, chop down trees?

 

JABOZ

I say only they could.

 

They finish their lunch and start back to work.

 

THOMAS

Them bugs or beetles or whatever come up from Forkston, Mr. Trexler says, got into the stumps form the first ones we cut, spread to the live timber. Could lose the whole forest.

 

JABOZ

Will not happen.

 

THOMAS

Why not?

 

JABOZ

Because we cuttem down. Beetles kill 'em, we cuttem down. Beetles do not kill 'em, we cuttem down.

 

THOMAS [trying to think it through]

Yeah. So... the beetles kill them or we kill them. That's an interesting philosophical way of lookin' at it.

 

JABOZ

Philo...?

 

THOMAS

Something to think about.

 

JABOZ

How a tree die?

 

THOMAS

Yeah. Dead stuff .... Dead bodies.

 

JABOZ

No talk about it.

 

THOMAS

You Huns –

 

JABOZ [taking a wicked slice with his spud]

I am no Hungarian!!

 

THOMAS

Watch how you swing that. Just cuz we pay Doc Kingsley $1 a month for the doctorin' don't mean he'll run out here and bind off my stump. What's to be so mad about? We call all you guys Huns.

 

JABOZ [smiling like a hyena]

I no get mad.

 

THOMAS

I just didn't know where you come from.

 

JABOZ

Slovakia.

 

THOMAS

Where's that?

 

JABOZ

You know nothing.

 

THOMAS [resigned]

Guess so. [pause] Dead bodies. Ennis says you won't go near 'em, won't even say goodbye.

 

JABOZ

No dobra. No good.

 

THOMAS

I heard Hungarians say that.

 

JABOZ

I am no Hungarian!!

 

THOMAS

Sounds Hungarian to me.

 

JABOZ

You are fool, silly dumbhead, diphthong dumkopf–

 

Thomas starts laughing, almost falling over backwards.

 

THOMAS

Man, you're easy to set off. Quiet down some. I'm just making fun. But, what's with the dead bodies, huh? I mean they're not something anybody wants to mess with....

 

JABOZ

We do not touch the dead. It is unhealthy.

 

THOMAS

You'll catch something?

 

JABOZ

Death.

 

THOMAS

Sure it's death....

 

JABOZ

We catch death.

 

THOMAS

Oh. That's not good, no.

 

JABOZ

We cut all trees down, we catch money some day like Mr. Trexler, yes?

 

THOMAS

That'll be the day.

 

JABOZ

Better than death.

 

THOMAS

Yeah. Can't buy much when you're dead.

 

lights down, SONG, "Can't Take It with You," Zain Bhikha


 

SCENE 9 – Restaurant, 2013

 

Joanne sits at the corner table.

 

SHERRY

Coffee? A muffin? Looks like you could use somethin' inside you.

 

JOANNE

I got somethin' inside I wish I could get out.

 

SHERRY

I'll bring coffee.

 

exit Sherry. Billy enters, doesn't see Joanne at first, then his face lights up. He pulls up a chair across from her but she acts like he isn't there.

 

BILLY

Hey.

 

JOANNE [looking around]

Somebody just say somethin'?

 

BILLY

What? What's the problem?

 

JOANNE

Keep hearin' voices. Got so bad I even started answerin' them.

 

BILLY

I don't get it.

 

JOANNE [wiggling her finger in her ear]

Them darn voices.

 

BILLY

You mad at me?

 

JOANNE [suddenly focused and angry]

Billy Sebastian, you get up from my table.

 

BILLY

I won't do it.

 

JOANNE

Sherry!

 

SHERRY O.S.

Hold on.

 

She bustles out of the kitchen.

 

SHERRY

Damn fool rush about a cup of coffee. Hi, Billy, getcha the usual?

 

JOANNE       

You can get him removed from my proximity.

 

SHERRY

That don't come with toast.

 

BILLY

I want hash browns an' two over an' ham an' no toast an' I want it right here facin' across from Joanne.

 

JOANNE [amazed]

You do?

 

BILLY

Course I do.

 

JOANNE

Then, well, uh, I'll have the same. But with the home fries. And the toast.

 

exit Sherry

 

JOANNE

I'd thought you'd gone off and... you know.

 

BILLY

I don't know any of it. What've you got in your head?

 

JOANNE

Thought maybe you got somethin' better to take up your time.

 

BILLY

You give me the strangleholdin' willies. I got my rig to drive. Eight hours, ten, twelve, an' I eat an' I spend time –

 

JOANNE

That's the time you spend sittin' by your semi when you ain't drivin'?

 

BILLY

It's lunch time. I waved at you.

 

JOANNE

Give you somethin' else to do with your arm, huh?

 

BILLY

With my arm? You think...? Woo, that's a plain monkey howler. Tammy, oh man, that's rich as birthday cake.

 

JOANNE

What's so funny 'bout that?

 

BILLY [puts his arm around her and drags her close]

You line up all the females in Sullivan County, I'd push Tammy down the end and around the corner.

 

enter Sherry, loaded down.

 

SHERRY

If one of you could slip sideways a mite I'd have someplace to put down your meal.

 

JOANNE

So... well, I thought...

 

Sherry puts down their food but hangs around.

 

BILLY

You didn't think half enough and you didn't ask. Fact is ... I got me a promotion. I'm off drivin' a rig, be supervisor.

 

JOANNE

I thought Miguel was supervisor.

 

BILLY

He's up the line, a step-up supervisor. The boys from Oklahoma and Texas, they been doin' well pads since knee-high, so we gotta learn from them.

 

Miguel enters unnoticed and moves toward their table.

 

JOANNE

You never talk to him like he's a boss.

 

BILLY

He don't want it. Says it don't make no difference. Except for pay, 'course. Makes a difference there for sure.

 

MIGUEL

Feel my ears burnin'. Somebody here maybe talkin' 'bout me?

 

BILLY [half nonchalant, half embarrassed]

Nobody never talks about you. You're like taboo or voodoo.

 

both laugh

 

MIGUEL

Come to catch you. We're movin' faster than I thought.

 

BILLY

I got things I gotta say. Only take a minute.

 

MIGUEL [waiting by table]

I can wait a minute.

 

BILLY

Outside?

 

MIGUEL

Huh. OK.

 

exit Miguel

 

BILLY

So.

 

JOANNE

So, what?

 

Billy reaches in his pocket, puts a small object on the table.

 

BILLY

Will ya?

 

JOANNE

You askin'? For real? In a restaurant?

 

BILLY

It's the only place I can find the time –

 

Miguel sticks his head in the door and half bellows.

 

MIGUEL

Hey, Billy, we gotta get the show on the road.

 

Billy gets up, bolts down some food and starts for the door.

 

JOANNE

Wait.

 

BILLY

I gotta go. [exits]

 

SHERRY [yelling after Miguel]

You blasted Mexicans, always taking away from our boys.

 

lights down  INTERMISSION, wax cylinder SONGS

 

INTO SONG, "Sawmill Song," Mel Tillis


 

SCENE 10 – Ricketts, Trexler and Turrell Mill, 1898

 

Saw filer HIRAM "SHANDY" DIETER files a six-foot circular saw at the Trexler and Turrell sawmill. Ennis enters and slaps his account book on the table. Shandy has a German accent.

 

ENNIS

Blasted Huns, stealing our jobs for cheap.

 

SHANDY

They cannot help from where they come. They are Huns, you are Irish, I am German. We none of us belong here.

 

ENNIS

America's got more of us than them.

 

SHANDY

It had also more trees than people and we do not spare them.

 

ENNIS [looking at the saw blade]

I don't see why they want to get rid of this. It cuts like the Devil's scythe.

 

SHANDY

The new band saw from the Disston factory in Philadelphia cuts faster and many much more than the circle one. I am the saw filer and I know these things. Its sharpness and temper, it is like music.

 

ENNIS

If a big screech all day is music.

 

SHANDY

You have not the appreciation of machinery.

 

ENNIS

I appreciate it enough to be working here seven years.

 

SHANDY

But you do not feel the heart of the machine.

 

ENNIS

I don't feel its kidneys neither.

 

SHANDY [laughing]

You will make me hungry too soon for dinner.

 

ENNIS

It's coming. Katie's bringing in some of her super bread.

 

SHANDY

What makes her bread so super?

 

ENNIS

Heck, I don't know. You can ask her when she gets here.

 

enter BETHANY SANDERSON, starts past them.

 

ENNIS

Hey, no women on the floor while the saws are running.

 

BETHANY

Mr. Turrell needs to know why the conveyor ain't runnin'.

 

SHANDY

It runs. There is no problem.

 

BETHANY

Mr. Turrell says there is.

 

SHANDY

He is misinformed.

 

BETHANY

Mr. Turrell says –

 

ENNIS [disgusted and angry]

Go ahead, do whatever it is. [to Shandy] No use arguin' once the bosses get somethin' in their head.

 

Bethany continues across and off stage.

 

SHANDY

I do not like such disorder. [rubs his jaw] How much I can eat of Miss Catherine's good food I am uncertain. The lower right molar pains me.

 

ENNIS

Go see Doc Kingsley. He's the dentist too.

 

SHANDY

Kingsley! I do not go to him, no. To remove a tooth, he lies the person on the floor and makes two people to sit on him, then he pulls it out with pliers. Better I would tie my tooth to a donkey's tail and tell it to run away.

 

ENNIS [laughing]

He ain't the best, but he's the only. Hey, you hear what happened over Lopez? That Fisher Kindling factory that got put up in '95? Then it burned six months after? Then they build it up again and it burned down again? So the silly nits set it up again and guess what – burned yesterday.

 

SHANDY

They will fix it again. It can burn so often and still make money. It makes hundreds of thousands, millions of little kindlings to sell in New York. Some go out of a job a little bit while they rebuild, they come back to work and it is lickety-split again.

 

Lunch whistle sounds; enter Catherine with a basket covered by a cloth.

 

SHANDY

Super bread you bring?

 

CATHERINE

It is adequate sustenance.

 

ENNIS

That means it fills you up good. [to Catherine] Where's Celia?

 

CATHERINE

Luda is taking care of her. I would bring no girl of five into such a deleterious environment.

 

ENNIS

Crack that bread, Shandy. You'll never taste better, trust me.

 

Catherine unwraps the bread and the two men break off large chunks, then she sets out some jerky. Shandy occasionally touches his jaw but eats well.

 

SHANDY

This is truly wonderful bread, Miss Catherine.

 

CATHERINE

Thank you, sir.

 

SHANDY

I thought you would be teaching today at the school.

 

CATHERINE

It is a holiday for the progeny, Mr. Dieter, if not for the progenitors.

 

SHANDY

For the...?

 

ENNIS

That means the children got the day off, we don't. Katie, you might try talking normal around folks that wasn't brung up on English like you and me.

 

CATHERINE

I will attempt to enunciate clearly and set forth equitably in vocabulary that will please its recipients.

 

ENNIS

I'm just saying...

 

CATHERINE
You're sayin' I should flip my words with a grand floating of language for all the joyous simple-sayers of the world to glory in. Well, sir, I will do your bidding if it please you and your most charming acquaintance.

 

SHANDY

I like this woman, if it is permitted to say.

 

CATHERINE

It is not only permitted, sir, but for this particular woman, appreciated as much as the sunrise.

 

BETHANY [returning]

The conveyor's runnin'. Just wanted you should know.

 

SHANDY

I know. I knew before.

 

BETHANY

Well, good on you. [exits]

 

CATHERINE  [fussing with Ennis's hair]

You could use the snipping of a barber.

 

ENNIS

I don't like how Walker Allen says he'll charge me ten cents for a cut, then he tries to throw on extras that cost twict as much. I don't need extras on my head.

 

CATHERINE

You do not need to accept the extras.

 

SHANDY [put off in an old worldly way]

To have argument about hair trimming is not dignified.

 

ENNIS

No, it ain't.

 

CATHERINE

How can I teach grammar to my students when you so dismember the English language?

 

ENNIS [enlightened, speaking with brogue]

We could speak Gaelic, like all the good Irish lads.

 

CATHERINE

You know no Gaelic.

 

ENNIS

You never taught me.

 

CATHERINE

You would use my teaching to press more of your bacon grease.

 

lights down, SONG, "Oro Se Do Bheatha Bhaile," Liam Clancy


 

SCENE 11 – Restaurant, 2013

 

Billy and Joanne are seated at their usual table.

 

BILLY

Got some bad news. They're just about done frackin' this one. Means I might get laid off with things turnin' down.

 

JOANNE

I don't understand that stuff, why they ain't just drillin' right ahead.

 

BILLY

Price for natural gas got so low it hardly pays to pump it. That's what they say, anyway. It's better out in Ohio because they got wet gas.

 

JOANNE

How'd it get wet? All that water they pump down? Don't they do the same here?

 

Sherry comes in with their soda refills.

 

BILLY

Means it's mixed in with oil. They can sell that for more till the price for gas gets back up.

 

SHERRY

What'll you do if you get laid off?

 

BILLY

Might go on to Ohio. Know what Miguel said? In Ohio, the guys from Pennsylvania are like the Okies that come here. We're the flatlanders.

 

JOANNE

I don't want you to go.

 

BILLY

I don't want to go neither, but –

 

Miguel bursts in, shouting and carring two bottles of booze.

 

MIGUEL

It's fracked and done. Everything's on me tonight.

 

SHERRY

That man's a pure noise box. [shouting back] What's "everything" anyway, Mr. Oklahoma?

 

Miguel plops the bottles on the table.

 

MIGUEL

I know you don't serve, so it's BYOB.

 

Sherry snatches them up.

 

SHERRY

Not here you don't.

 

MIGUEL

What, it's illegal?

 

SHERRY

We don't want booze here, and anyway, we already had one drunk scene. That's enough for any play, [to audience] right?

 

MIGUEL

Geez. [he sits with Billy and Joanne]

 

JOANNE

I don't get how your drillin' works. You go sideways?

 

MIGUEL

Horizontal, yeah.

 

JOANNE

So how do you make a drill turn a corner? It's not like a raccoon or nothin'.

 

MIGUEL

It doesn't turn any corner, it makes a real slow curve, like this. [mimes with hands] It slides off two degrees every hundred feet or so. Cause we're goin' down six, seven thousand feet, it can bend that much, and there's a little motor on the end with what's like a GPS that tells it where to go.

 

SHERRY

Sounds smarter than some drivin' on the roads up here.

 

BILLY

Hope that ain't aimed at me.

 

SHERRY

Any time I aim at you you'll feel it hit dead center.

 

JOANNE

What'd'ya do now the fracking's done?

 

MIGUEL

We get the workover rig in to pull the brine up again, clean it up, use it over. Stuff gets recycled.

 

SHERRY

What about all them chemicals?

 

MIGUEL

Don't amount to much.

 

SHERRY

Says you.

 

MIGUEL

Says me, and as I'm the one here knows about it, ought to let it stick.

 

Sherry gives him a black look and walks off.

 

JOANNE

Let's not get in some big fight.

 

BILLY

She don't mean much, goes on like that with everybody.

 

JOANNE

I don't like this Ohio thing. When would you get back?

 

BILLY

It ain't like Antarctica. If I get an eight or ten-day shift I'd get three days off. We could maybe meet in the middle.

 

JOANNE

Like Pittsburgh?

 

MIGUEL

I'm a Steelers fan.

 

BILLY

Why? You got your own teams down there.

 

Sherry comes in to take Miguel's order.

 

MIGUEL

Down there I'm an Cowboys fan, up here I'm a Steelers fan. It's back to the Cowboys for me in a week or three. I'll be back here when things juice up. You can't get rid of me that fast.

 

SHERRY

Not near fast enough. What do you plan to hog on tonight, or you thought that far ahead?

 

MIGUEL

Thought I'd have me a glass of grease and could be a stick of butter on the side. And the pork chops. You could slip them in.

 

SHERRY

How about, on the house, a big wedge of lard for dessert?

 

MIGUEL

Now you're makin' me out a stereotype.

 

lights down, SONG, "Daisy Bell," Edward M. Favor


 

SCENE 12 – Lopez, Main St., 1902

 

Col. ROBERT BRUCE RICKETTS, ELIZABETH RICKETTS and JOHN GREENE walk Main St. in Lopez. The Colonel is nearly sideswiped by a man on a bicycle.

 

RICKETTS

You scallyways, you are out of control.

 

BYCYCLIST [yelling over his shoulder]

It's my road as much as yours.

 

RICKETTS

Blasted lout!

 

ELIZABETH

Now, Robert, he is only out for a day of fun.

 

RICKETTS

I would prefer not to be maimed in his attempts at entertainment, Elizabeth. [to Greene] I hope, John, you can arrive safely to preach the word of God to the Lopez heathens.

 

GREENE

As surely as bicycles come out on a Sunday to take those hardy youngsters of the Century Club to ride their hundred miles, then as surely will the Lord wrap His mantle of impunity about me to preach on His day.

 

RICKETTS

Most of the Century Clubbers fail to make their exalted mileage.

 

SONJA ROYASKI approaches, with her son, ROOSHA.

 

SONJA

Good day, Colonel and Mrs. Ricketts.

 

RICKETTS [doffing his hat]

Good day, Mrs. Royaski. And how are you, young Roosha?

 

ROOSHA

Fine, sir. Good day, ma'am.

 

ELIZABETH.

What good chance to see you two here.

 

RICKETTS

I do not believe you met my associate, Dr. John Greene? Dr. Greene, Mrs. Sonja Royaski, wife of Mielar, and their son Roosha.

 

GREENE [bowing and doffing his hat]

Most delighted to make your acquaintance.

 

SONJA

You are a doctor?

 

GREENE

Of divinity. Through the largess of the Colonel, who financed my education.

 

SONJA [puzzled]

Doctor of...?

 

GREENE

I am an ecclesiastic. I preach the ministry.

 

SONJA

You are traveling a circuit in the area?

 

GREENE

Usually I preside over services at Ganoga or in the Ricketts church, but on occasion I am asked to deliver the Word here. I find it a great privilege.

 

ROOSHA

Ganoga? What is that?

 

RICKETTS

Our home. On a lake. John is my right hand man in estate affairs and chief of our ice company.

 

ROOSHA

You make ice?

 

GREENE

Nature provides the frozen product, I merely oversee its storage and distribution.

 

ELIZABETH

Which he accomplishes with the consummate ability that he applies to all his undertakings.

 

GREENE [to Ricketts]

Such as judiciously allowing myself, a Rebel, to be captured by you at Gettysburg?

 

RICKETTS

Diabolically clever, this man. He knew in advance that I needed a valet! Mine had been killed.

 

SONYA

Goodness, such a history to have.

 

RICKETTS

Yes indeed, and how we have all prospered since. [looking around] I regret that the Blaisdells have closed and removed the kindling factory here. It bodes ill for Lopez and for all of us.

 

SONJA

It is so bad for you?

 

GREENE

It reduces competition for our own kindling works initially, but once the trees are gone, it will all end, here and at Ricketts. The wealth of the world is fleeting, as are its days.

 

ELIZABETH

One could wish that life were on occasion more elastic, especially with the typhoid in our town.

 

SONJA

That is a terrible thing. [crossing herself] May the evil be held from us.

 

ROOSHA

What is "typhoid," mother?

 

GREENE [suddenly animated and excited]

Typhoid is a disease of the innards caused by microbes that induce a great, wracking fever. When untreated death may strike as many as a third of those afflicted – thankfully the number has been under one in ten in Ricketts. The disease is called also infantile remittant fever for it strikes most heavily in children, who are numerous in our families, but of a hardy lot. The terminal stages are most distressing, with perforation of the intestines and a "muttering delirium." But soon typhoid may be defeated, for Almroth Edward Wright has developed a vaccine four years previous.

 

Sonja stands open-mouthed; Ricketts seems amused.

 

RICKETTS

Is there a subject on earth upon which you cannot converse, my good man?

 

GREENE

I am strong only in history, science, poetry and music.

 

ELIZABETH

A man of most rich talents.

 

RICKETTS

A rare spirit.

 

SONJA

We must leave now to serve at the mess hall.

 

GREENE

I preach today at the Methodist Church. Perhaps we may meet there?

 

SONJA

Oh yes. We will be there. I have learned much from you already. I did not know about the ice thing. Again I hope we meet. Say goodbye to the Colonel and Mr. Greene, Roosha.

 

ROOSHA

Goodbye Colonel and Mrs. Colonel, goodbye Mr. Greene.

 

exit Sonja and Roosha.

 

ELIZABETH

John is right. In the end it will all be gone, the lumber business. But you have kept your promise to spare the glen with its waterfalls and wondrous trees.

 

GREENE [to Ricketts]

You have the land, and the land is all.

 

RICKETTS

Trexler and Turrell have made a mad and wonderful run of it since I gave them timbering rights. Recall when the stage snaked eight miles to reach Schreivogel’s Hotel?

 

GREENE

We called it the Road to Hell. [both laugh]

 

RICKETTS [musing]

You have told me little about your days as a slave.

 

GREENE [somewhat angry]

As I have said, Colonel, I would prefer that it remained that way. What does it matter where I have come from?

 

RICKETTS

None, I suppose. It is just my natural and recurrent curiosity.

 

ELIZABETH

Beware the fate of the cat.

 

lights down, SONG, "Cat Came Back," Trout Fishing in America


 

SCENE 13 – Lopez post office, 2013

 

Beth, Barbara and Kelly stand outside the Lopez PO. Beth is examining the mail.

 

KELLY

What's that?

 

BETH

Some kind of questionnaire. About gas things.

 

She shoves themail in her bag.

 

BARBARA

What are we going to do today?

 

BETH

After Hurley's, I thought we'd maybe go visit a well pad.

 

KELLY

Cool!

 

BARBARA

Will they let us in? It says "No trespassing."

 

BETH

We can try and see.

 

BARBARA

Dad said we should get worried about what they're doing. With the gas.

 

BETH

Really! I don't care what your father might think about it.

 

KELLY

Chill out, Mom.

 

BETH

Chill out? [suddenly relaxing] OK, maybe I should.

 

BARBARA

When are we going to go?

 

Beth looks up the street

 

BETH

I don't know where Paul is.

 

KELLY

He's never where he says he'll be.

 

BETH

Stop that.

 

BARBARA

Do you love Paul?

 

BETH

I don't know. Maybe.

 

KELLY

He works at the well pad. Is that why we'd go there?

 

BETH

Yes he does. Yes, that's why.

 

KELLY

Oh. But he isn't here.

 

BARBARA

Kelly doesn't like Paul.

 

KELLY

What's so big about that? I don't like you either.

 

BETH [deflated]

We probably couldn't have gone anyway, probably. We'd have to wear protective clothing and steel-toed boots.

 

KELLY

I like those lit-up drilling towers. They're like a movie theater or fireworks.

 

BARBARA

I heard our water could go all bad.

 

BETH

It doesn't matter what you heard, it's what the facts are.

 

KELLY

How do we know the facts?

 

BETH

Never mind.

 

KELLY

Maaahhm!

 

BETH

We don't know all the facts until all the facts are in. People are looking at it. That takes a long time.

 

 

BARBARA

My teacher says that's a circular argument. That we don't know the facts until we already have the facts.

 

BETH

Life is full of circular arguments.

 

KELLY

When I grow up, I want to stop circular arguments from happening.

 

BARBARA

Then you should stop chasing your tail.

 

BETH

I have to find Paul.

 

BARBARA

Mom, if you dig a big hole in the ground and you fill it full of stuff that usually makes people sick and that stuff comes up and does make people sick, isn't that a bad thing?

 

BETH

Certainly. But nobody knows that will happen. Look, I picked you up at the hospital, a little red thing, and I held you and I thought what it's like to bring a child into the world. Things could go wrong. But most of the time they don't. So you look up to the sky and you hope. Sure, the sky could fall like in Chicken Little. But it didn't fall on her. It didn't.

 

lights down, SONG, "Keep on the Sunny Side," Kentucky Singers


 

SCENE 14 – Ricketts, 1913

 

Catherine and Ennis pack tools and clothing by their house.

 

ENNIS

Guess this is about the end of it.

 

CATHERINE

The town was not here even 25 years.

 

ENNIS

You put it up, live in it ahwile, tear it down for firewood.

 

CATHERINE

You and your lumbering cohorts surely made a dismal destructiveness of it all.

 

ENNIS

What else was we goin' to do? The trees are there, you come along and cut them, then they ain't there no more. It's pretty simple, all in all.

 

CATHERINE

It's you men that are simple. You come into a primordial wilderness and build a town just so you can leave the world as snaggly and distempered as a three-day growth on your chin.

 

ENNIS

Lumbering's what I do, it's all I know how to do. Anyway, the town wasn't here before we come, so what's the big difference it ain't here onct we're gone?

 

CATHERINE

Some of those hemlocks stood over 150 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter.

 

ENNIS

When we come, you said they scared you, it was so dark, said it was like…what was it?

 

CATHERINE

Like crawling into a coal sack with mean uncle Billy's ghost. But now all you have left is stumps and toothpicks.

 

ENNIS

And my wages. I got $7 for the whole month after paying off at the company store. Lucky like some, I suppose, that I didn't end up owing them.

 

enter Lulia

 

LULIA

We are the last, I think.

 

CATHERINE

The last indeed. It is sad what happens when a town grows up like a little child and gets to be a big, strong young man, then we suffocate it off before it gets to middle age. Isn't that sad?

 

LULIA

My babies I thought to have always, they are gone to find their way elsewhere.

 

CATHERINE

Our only child is also measured off on her own adventures. [to Ennis] What does Col. Ricketts plan for all this empty land?

 

ENNIS

Farms maybe? I don't know.

 

LULIA

We go to work on Mr. Sones' land, now. Do you come there also?

 

ENNIS

Until his trees run out too. Which they pretty near have, what I hear.

 

CATHERINE

Twenty miles along a path to nowhere to make it more of a nowhere than when we came. Ennis, were we out of our minds to trek up here?

 

ENNIS

Probably.

 

lights down, SONG, "Life's a Funny Proposition After All," George M. Cohan


 

SCENE 15 – Restaurant, 2013

 

The Morgan family are seated, half way through their breakfast. Billy comes in and sits at his usual table.

 

KELLY

They don't give enough syrup for the French toast.

 

BETH

You could ask Sherry for more. [Kelly starts to get up, mouth wide open] Politely!

 

KELLY

Oh. [sits]

 

BARBARA   

Hi Billy.

 

BILLY

Huh? Oh hi. Didn't see you there.

 

BARBARA

Are you waiting for somebody?

 

BILLY

Yeah. Joanne.

 

BARBARA

We saw her at the Dandy Mart.

 

KELLY

What's it like on the well pad? Does anything ever break and all the pieces fly off and almost hit you in the head?

 

BILLY

Nothin' that interestin'.

 

Joanne comes in, almost out of breath and walks quickly to Billy's table.

 

SHERRY [to Billy]

I know what you want.

 

JOANNE

I need some orange juice and whole lotta coffee.

 

SHERRY

Cream?

 

JOANNE

Not this time.

 

Sherry moves off to get their drinks

 

BILLY

Somethin' wrong?

 

JOANNE

Not exactly.

 

They lean forward and whisper.

 

BETH

Kelly, don't use your fork like a steam shovel.

 

BARBARA

You could just lean into the plate and suck up the syrup.

 

BILLY [slamming his fist on the table]

No!

 

JOANNE

Billy, you're not listening.

 

BILLY

What the heck am I supposed to listen to? You don't want to get married.

 

JOANNE

That's not what I said.

 

BILLY

That's just exactly what you said.

 

JOANNE

It is not!

 

KELLY

We didn't hear anything. You were talking too quiet.

 

BETH

Shush!

 

JOANNE

I'm sayin' I can't go on to Ohio with you right now because I got a job.

 

BILLY

If you're my wife you don't need no job.

 

JOANNE

Darn it, Billy, it's my job and I want it. It's got nothin' to do with gettin' married.

 

BILLY

See, she don't want to get married cuz she's got a job.

 

JOANNE

How can I marry somebody don't listen to nothin' I say?

 

BILLY

I don't know, maybe you can't.

 

BETH [stands up and moves toward their table]

You two can work it out.

 

BILLY [sarcastically]

You think.

 

BETH

Yes I do. Yes I do. And if you don't... [sudden look of anguish]

 

JOANNE [picking up on Beth's sorrow]

Hey!

 

BETH

It's nothing. Comes over me sometimes.

 

BARBARA

Mom gets sad because of Daddy.

 

BETH [sitting down]

Oh, it's none of my business.

 

SHERRY [bringing coffee]

It's everybody's business you start somethin' in my restaurant.

 

BILLY

I didn't start nothin'.

 

SHERRY

Did I say it was you? Feeling guilty maybe?

 

BILLY [to Joanne]

I don't want you gettin' away.

 

JOANNE

Which if you'd been listenin' was what I was anyway tryin' to say.

 

BILLY

You didn't say it too good.

 

JOANNE

You wasn't listenin' too good.

 

enter Miguel, wearing a hard hat and looking more serious than usual.

 

MIGUEL

Didn't mean to interrupt a compromising situation.

 

JOANNE [nodding to Billy]

I'll have what he's havin'.

 

SHERRY [to Beth]

Looks like they're compromisin' pretty good. [to Miguel]You gonna sit down or just gawk.

 

MIGUEL       

I just come to say I'm leavin' today.

 

JOANNE

Must be real excited.

 

MIGUEL

I shouldn't say it, turns off my tough-guy image. I'm gonna miss it here. Felt kind of adopted.

 

KELLY

Thought somebody busted on you.

 

MIGUEL

That was way back. I didn't take anybody's job, fact is, I trained Billy and some others so they could be supervisors. Gave a real shot to the local economy, I did. Got myself out of a job and Billy into one.

 

BILLY

What? I'm gonna...?

 

MIGUEL

You're gonna be me. Not as good as me, course, but in the same place anyway. Wearin' my hat.

 

He takes off his hard hat, slaps something on it and hands it to Billy. Billy turns the hat around. It says "Billy" on the front.

 

BILLY

Nobody told me.

 

MIGUEL

Big ol' surprise. Sometimes us Okies put firecrackers under the seat when a guy goes to sit down.

 

KELLY [pointing to Miguel]

We don't get foreigners around here much.

 

BETH

He's not a foreigner, Kelly. He's an American.

 

KELLY

Oklahoma's in America?

 

BARBARA

You know why I pick up rocks, Kelly?

 

KELLY

Why?

 

BARBARA

Because they remind me of you.

 

KELLY

I was making a joke.

 

BARBARA

We'll miss you, Mr. Miguel.

 

MIGUEL

OK, I come to say goodbye and I better get off before I get all misty-eyed.

 

KELLY

You think it will be all gas wells in twenty years? Or will it be gone like that Ricketts 100 years ago?

 

BILLY [lifting his coffee cup in a toast]

Here's to 2033.

 

MIGUEL

A chicken in every pot and a gas well in every back yard.

 

BARBARA

Eeewww.

 

SHERRY

Out, out, out. Scram.

 

Miguel leaves, laughing.

 

BILLY

The gas boom will run out. Has to.

 

BARBARA

Just like the lumber boom.

 

BETH

But two things like that are never exactly the same. They're always a little different no matter how much alike they look.

 

JOANNE

So... like it ain't necessary for us to drift off from each other?

 

BILLY and BETH

Of course it isn't!

 

BETH

Sorry. Put my foot in it again.

 

KELLY

Ah Mom, you're not always wrong, you know.

 

BETH [a minor revelation]

No, I suppose I'm not. [gets up from the table] Well what do you think we should do now?

 

BARBARA

We should have all the cast come out and sing a song and then say "the end."

 

JOANNE

You think the play's been long enough?

 

SHERRY

Seems like 20 years to me, and I've only been in 4 scenes.

 

BILLY

What's a good song to wind all this up?

 

JOANNE

Not much written about the gas yet. How about we make up our own song?

 

BETH

I think we can do that.

 

JOANNE

Here goes.

Song:

 

We have gas

It will pass

Just like the timber did.

It's no sin,

Brings money in

Yes, like the timber did.

 

Drilling deep

The past we reap

So should we heave a sigh?

Time's long trail

Laid down the shale

But we will drain it dry.

 

Friend or foe

No way to know

What people some day think.

They may say

It's all OK

Or that our choices stink.

 

JOANNE

We're going back to the beginning here, so look near the back of your program, and sing along with us.

 

audience joins in

 

We have gas

It will pass

Just like the timber did.

It's no sin,

Brings money in

Yes, like the timber did.

 

BARBARA

The end.

 

curtain call

 

*    *    *    *

[Two scenes were dropped from the actual production because of a time constraints and a lack of enough male actors. We're adding them here.]

 

SCENE – Ricketts, Patriotic Order Sons of America Hall, 1899

 

A sign reads "Patriotic Order Sons of America, Established 1847 by Dr. Reynell Coates." Thomas, Ennis and JAKE stand behind STEPHAN, chuckling, exchanging smirking glances as DELIA, Stephan's wife, pulls at Stephan's sleeve.

 

STEPHAN

I just want to join up. It's no big thing.

 

DELIA

It's like playing in a sandbox. You're too old for such nonsense.

 

STEPHAN [uneasy but trying to act unconcerned]

It ain't your business to say what I can and can't do. The husband is ruler of the house.

 

DELIA

You are a two-inch ruler that couldn't measure across a floor beam.

 

STEPHAN

I'm agonna do it, and that's all.

 

DELIA

See if you get supper tonight, Mr. Almighty Ruler.

 

She stomps out.

 

THOMAS [patting Stephan on the back]

That's tellin' her. We're right glad you put in to join with us. This place is real fun.

 

 

STEPHAN [a little nervous]

I like you guys.

 

ENNIS

Everybody likes the POS of A, it's all about America and patriotism and what like.

 

THOMAS

You ready for the initiation?

 

STEPHAN

Uh, sure.

 

THOMAS

Good. You'd best take your shoes off.

 

ENNIS

Makes it all ... easier.

 

STEPHAN [confused]

OK.

 

he takes off his shoes. the half-grinning men try to look solemn

 

THOMAS [pulling out a strip of cloth]

And we need to put this over your eyes.

 

STEPHAN

Why?

 

ENNIS

It's secret stuff. Nobody can look at it until they join. After you join, anybody can look.

 

Thomas ties the blindfold loosely, then he and Ennis take Stephan's arms and turn him around three times; Jake holds a branding iron in the fireplace. Thomas adjusts the blindfold so it "accidentally" slips while Stephan is facing the fire.

 

STEPHAN

What's he doing?

 

ENNIS

Aw, don't mind him. Does it all the time, don't you, Jake?

 

JAKE

Uh.

 

THOMAS

Let me get this on tighter. [he "fixes" the blindfold] Whoa now, Jake, don't get so close, huh?

 

Thomas puts his arm around Stephan's neck in a friendly gesture, then tightens it while Ennis pins Stephan's arms.

 

STEPHAN

Hey! Let loose of me.

 

Jake comes up behind him, pulls down the top of his shirt.

 

JAKE

Here it comes!

 

Jake drops a large piece of ice down Stephan's back. Stephan screams and breaks free, tries to feel his back.

 

STEPHAN

What'd you do, what'd you do to me?

 

the othes laugh, stomp their feet and Ennis whips off the blindfold.

 

ENNIS

Ice, see? Just wanted to see if you was tough enough.

 

STEPHAN

Whew, coulda scared me.

 

THOMAS

Now you're almost in.

 

ENNIS

You bet. Just one more little thing and that's it.

 

Jake and Ennis bring out a stepladder and a big cloth,which they spread on the floor.

 

THOMAS

Don't want to mess up the floor, you know.

 

JAKE

Can happen.

 

ENNIS

Thomas's gotta put that thing on your eyes again.

 

JAKE

More secrets.

 

Thomas ties on the blindfold and leads Stephan to the stepladder. Thomas and Ennis guide Stephan up three steps.

 

JAKE

Not too high.

 

STEPHAN

What're you doin' this time?

 

ENNIS

Out in the woods, your skin gets tough, right?

 

Jake picks up a bucket and rattles it, metal and glass. He drops pieces loudly on the floor, silently picks them up again.

 

THOMAS

So if you land on ... rough stuff, it shouldn't hurt you much, huh? I mean, it's just nails [pause]and maybe a couple pieces of glass.

 

JAKE

Jump off.

 

STEPHAN

I ain't gonna jump on glass.

 

ENNIS [threatening]

You want to get in with us or don't you? This is a one-time chance or you can go home like a baby.

 

while Ennis talks, Thomas and Jake hold up a blanket.

 

STEPHAN

Sure I wanta get in, but ...

 

JAKE

Do it or go home.

 

When Stephan hesitates, Ennis pushes him. Stephan pitches forward into the blanket. Jake and Thomas toss him in the air a couple times, then stand him up, remove the blindfold and everyone pats him on the back, laughing.

 

JAKE

Not so bad.

 

ENNIS

Now you're a boney fried member of the PS of A. You can even buy accident insurance here.

 

STEPHAN

For what?

 

THOMAS

In case you ever work over to the barrel stave mill.

 

STEPHAN

I ain't heard.

 

THOMAS

They gotta work fast, like everybody, right? I mean, a two-man crew can joint up 10,000 staves in a day, and they get but $2.50 each for it.

 

ENNIS

That bolting saw's hell to deal with. Sometimes the new boys, workin' so fast, they get too close and, zzzip. [he pantomimes fingers being cut off] They got a funny sense of humor.

 

STEPHAN

Don't sound funny.

 

THOMAS

They fill up a big jar of alky-hol with cut-off fingers, then pull it out to show people when they come to see the mill.

 

STEPHAN

I don't want to lose no body parts. And I can't buy insurance no ways. The company store's got my pay.

 

JAKE

We take credit. You just gotta put on the blindfold a couple more times.

 

STEPHAN

I'll take my chances with the bolting saw.

 

all laugh. Stephan starts off stage, sees Delia slapping her hand against a frying pan. He turns tail and runs, her after him. lights down

 

 

SCENE – Logged-over woods, 1913

 

JOSEPH KELLEY and ARTHUR POTTER stand in the barren, lumbered landscape, seeming unaware of each other's presence. Kelley, hugging himself and shivering, looks down at the ground, shaking his head slowly. Potter, a patch of blood behind his left ear, seems to be searching for something.

 

ARTHUR POTTER

Where was it?

 

JOSEPH KELLEY

Right here. Right here.

 

Potter, suddenly aware of the other, looks around.

 

POTTER

No.

 

KELLEY[emphatic]

Yes! I fell right here. I had my Huckleberry Finn and my Harper's Magazine.

 

POTTER

We was fishing. They got at me from behind. In the boat.

 

KELLEY

Me and Jeremiah. We got to Noxen from the South Mountain camp. Five miles. Had a few at the bar but left sober. Then it snowed up a blizzard. We kept on because we knew we could make it back to the camp. We'd always made it back.

 

POTTER

I didn't love her, can't remember her name no more. The two came down from Wilkes-Barre. Her husband sent them. They told me they was from him, after they got me in the boat.

KELLEY [turning suddenly to face Potter]

I hear you.

 

POTTER

I'm talking loud enough.

 

KELLEY

I was deaf. That's one reason I liked to read so much. Anything I could get my mitts on. I was a boxer once, in the navy. How I got deaf. I'm not deaf now.

 

POTTER

Guess it works that way for some.

 

KELLEY

What's changed for you?

 

POTTER

I don't breathe no more.

 

KELLEY

After the navy, I traveled all over. I went to Hong Kong and India and Kenya, you name it.

 

POTTER

I never went nowhere. I was a homebody, guess. I shoulda stayed home that day.

 

KELLEY

I'm still cold. From the snow.

 

POTTER

I'm still wet from the lake. But I didn't drown. That's what most thought first, but it was from gettin' hit behind. [touches behind his left ear] They didn't find no water inside when they dug me up. So they knew. But they couldn't prove it was the guys took me out who done it, so they let 'em go. But it was them, oh yeah.

 

KELLEY

Exhumed, that's what it's called. When you dig up a body to examine it.

 

POTTER

I didn't know that.

 

KELLEY

That's the kind of thing you learn from reading.

 

A woman moves slowly in, stops, gazing down at the ground. Potter looks across at her.

 

POTTER

I met her – Marie, that was who – when she was up Col. Ricketts, at Ganoga. He took her in 'cause she said her husband had hit her back Wilkes-Barre. She did the cleaning and like for the colonel. She was OK. Yeah, she was OK.

 

The woman moves slowly off.

 

KELLEY

You work in lumber?

 

POTTER

A crew down by Lopez. Jennings.

 

KELLEY

You know how much timber Trexler and Turrell cut for Ricketts, up to the end?

 

POTTER

Naw.

 

KELLEY

500 million feet. That's half a billion.

 

POTTER

Dang!

 

KELLEY

Five times as much as they thought they would.

 

POTTER

They found me down under the water, caught me up with a grappling hook.

 

 

KELLEY

I was froze stiff. So was Jeremiah. We got separated a little, not much, but too tired to talk and find each other. We tried to make it through the night, just fell down, both of us, went to sleep.

 

POTTER

What happens if you stay in the water? Rot?

 

KELLEY

Get all ugly and puffed up. Bloated.

 

POTTER

Glad that didn't happen, but I'd as soon they hadn't dug me up. Just gettin' used to it down in there.

 

KELLEY

Good thing the search party found us, Jeremiah and me. Wouldn't want to get chewed up by wolves or panthers.

 

 

POTTER

They're gone now, all of 'em. Same with the deer and the raccoons, everything but maybe the mice. No trees left, nothing for them to live on.

 

KELLEY

How long's it been for you?

 

POTTER

I got it, oh, eight, nine years ago. You?

 

KELLEY

Just this last winter.

 

POTTER

What all's gone on since I passed?

 

KELLEY

Big news, the Jennings pulled out the whole Lopez shebang in '05, tore down the mill and hauled it off to West Virginia along with most of the crew. Wasn't more than half the population left after that. Next year, Dyer and McGee started up the Lopez Sandstone Company. They smash up the sandstone on that cliff and send it off for I don't know what use. Ricketts had two bad fires in '06, then Fischer kindling, it burned in Lopez the year after and closed, last lumber business there.

 

POTTER

Half the people gone out of Lopez. Wonder will the town survive?

 

KELLEY

It's pretty much all over now, the timbering. [looks around, a little sadly] Sure wish there were more books to read in the after.

 

POTTER

Not much to do and we got a long time to do it in.

 

Marie returns, stares down again at the ground, unmoving. lights down, SONG, "Long Black Veil," Country Gentlemen