Friday, April 12, 2019

Do's & Donuts A Play in Two Acts


Do’s & Donuts

A play in Two Acts

By Linda L. Treiber

6139 Sunnyvale Drive
Orlando, Florida 32822
407/506-7387
LLTreiber@aol.com


Setting


Mishap Gap, North Carolina at the town’s renowned beauty parlor/donut shop, Do’s & Donuts.

 

Cast of Characters


Veeta Whitmire       Owner of donut shop and                      sister to Mira Whitmire

Mira McCall          Owner of beauty salon and                      sister to Veeta Whitmire                       Married to Earl McCall

Earl McCall          Married to Mira, came from                      outside Mishap Gap

Willis Deerhorn      Police chief for Mishap Gap

Cecil                Older gent of few words,                      former hobo, lives in a tent

Mrs. Galloway        Elegant retiree enjoying her                               mountain home

Barry Rothstein      Book Publisher from NY

Felix Armbruster     Attorney and speculator from                      Atlanta

Firelight Whitmire   Veeta and Mira’s mother

Gianna               New to Mishap Gap, works in                               beauty salon



                         Do’s and Donuts

                              Act One

     Scene 1

Mishap Gap, North Carolina.  Spring.  About 2:30 am.  The front porch of the shop called “Do’s ‘n Donuts” is a wooden deck ringed with a varied collection of thrift store outdoor furniture, twinkle lights, homemade wooden objects de art,  and potted plants.  It is night, and the porch is lit by a streetlight listing haphazardly from the corner of the building.   A pup tent illuminated from the inside by lantern light is set up near the back corner of the porch in the shadows.  A circular staircase runs up the side of the building leading to a front door on a second floor apartment where Veeta lives.  She is single, in her forties, and in the proprietress of the “Donuts” side of the store.  She is tall, long hair and wears latent hippy-ish garb covered with a baker’s apron.  She sits rocking on the porch having a nightcap listening to harmonica music emanating from the pup tent.  She looks up and toasts to the stars.  A train whistle and a rumble punctuate the sound of the music and crickets.

Suddenly a blaze of headlights spray across her and the sound of car tires come to a stop in the gravel drive.  Music, crickets stop.  Train trails off and Veeta stands-






VEETA
(Holding her hand over her eyes to see past the headlights)

Hello? Shop’s closed.Can I help y’all?

MIRA

Veeta! I’m so glad you’re up!
                (Panting, with an edge of panic)

Veeta, come here quick, I need your help.
                (Car door closes, trunk opening sound)

VEETA

(Leaving the porch toward the headlights)

Mira!  What’s goin’ on?  It’s late…Why aren’t you home? …Oh my God, what the hell happened here? 

MIRA

I don’t know…I don’t know…He was there layin’ in the road.  I was driving back from the Country Club through the property and I damn near ran off into a ditch.  I couldn’t leave him.  Think he’s a goner?

VEETA

I can’t tell.  No, wait, there’s a pulse.  Let’s get him up to the porch.  What’s that sticking out?

MIRA

(Gagging)

Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap…

VEETA

C’mon, Mira, get his feet…

Mira and Veeta approach the porch carrying a body of a man.  He is limp and bleeding and resembles a pin cushion.)

VEETA

I’m headin’ for the bench.  You with me Mira?

MIRA

(Crying and snorting) 
Yeah.  Yeah.  Oh my GAWD!
Mira is as tall as Veeta, but is the complete opposite in appearance with short, well-maintained hair, long manicured nails, elaborate yet running makeup, and an elegant blood-stained party dress on…She kicks her high heels off to get better leverage on the deadweight.
VEETA
(As they lay the body down)
Hush up you priss.  Cecil’ll hear you.   Ok, now, whew, he looks like a fresh hunted buck.  Crossbow arrows. I don’t think anything vital’s been hit though.  All legs and arms. Oh, and this even grosses me out, there’s one under the skin across his chest. (She backs off, rifles his pockets)  He’s got no i.d.  Good lookin.  He’s breathin’.  We better call an ambulance…

MIRA

NO! No…We can’t.  You gotta fix him.  You’re the nurse here.  Do your thing.

VEETA 

(Looking at her like she’s got two heads)
That was years ago. I’m rusty…Just how many brandy alexanders did you drink up there at the Club tonight anyway?  I’m callin’….

MIRA

Veeta, HONEY, you can’t.


VEETA

Well why the hell not?  What did you do?  Hit him with the car too?

MIRA

No, no.  Here’s the thing…  I know those crossbow arrows.  They’re Earl’s practice bolts.  He marks them with this red paint here to prove to his hunting buddies that he had the best shot when they’re practicin."
(She points to the arrows sticking out of the body and gags)
 You know how competitive he is.

(She grabs a towel on furiously wipes at the blood on her dress)

Damn it, I was going to take this back tomorrow…

VEETA

Are you genuinely telling me that Earl shot this guy? Because if you are, (With rising glee) here finally is my opportunity to put the low-life chicken-shit scumbucket of a husband of yours away forever…Yeah, honey, I’m callin’…Whoo hoo!

MIRA

NO! Veeta, PLEASE don’t.  Just pull ‘em out.  C’mon sugar, just yank ‘em and we’ll put him somewhere for someone else to find…

VEETA

(Stares at Mira for a beat)

You know what time it is?  It’s time for you to get     on the clue train and me to have some liquids.

(She finishes her nightcap in one furious gulp)

MIRA

Please?  PLLEEEEEZ? Please, please, please…Veeta, what’ll happen to me if Earl’s put away?

VEETA

He’ll get life?  You’ll get a life? A few less opportunities to wear your sunglasses at night?  I see no down side.

MIRA

(She flinches) 
I get it. But the anger management therapy is working for him!  I swear he hasn’t lifted a hand to me in weeks. (Faux cheeriness)  C’mon, darling’, just let’s pop these out of this fella and go dump him near the hospital or somethin’…

VEETA

Mira, I am just so tired of yanking your beans out of the fire all the time…What was Earl thinkin’?  What did this guy do to piss him off?

MIRA

Well, probably nothing but just drawin’ breath.  I think he came from that hobo camp on The Property from the looks of it.  Honestly honey, I actually do know what got him going.  Our little time at the Country Club wasn’t so hot.  He was so excited to be invited to that big Golf Banquet tonight.  Bought a new suit.  Got a shave.  Bugged me to get all gussied up.  Said he had a big deal brewin’ about the family property. 

VEETA

You mean Mama’s property?


MIRA  

Well, yeah, I guess.  He’s just looking out for all our mutual interests. 

VEETA
Horseshit.

(She gets white towels and blots the blood and mud from the man’s face)
 
This fella’s a looker.  Here now – Press down to stop this bleeding. 

(They continue to care for the pierced man all through the following dialogue.)

MIRA

Anyway, all those doctors, lawyers, investment bankers…We were really fish outta water, you know?  We were the pet local yokels the summer folk adopted for the season. Earl was tryin’ so hard to make an impression on those city folk with his big ideas, but he had too many Jack Daniels and, well, I left ‘cause I couldn’t take it anymore. They were makin’ fun of him…and me in such a “gracious and sophisticated way.” Snotty.  The drunker he got the more he went on about that damn railroad and the tramps ruinin’ his property value with their camp down on our land…

VEETA

…so instead of flipping off the gentry and just going home, he went out and hunted himself a hobo.  Fine fella you married.  This is outta hand.  I’m callin for help…

MIRA

NO.  Alright, here it is Miss I’m-Gonna-Go-By-The-Book.  What if we tell and the law lets Earl walk?  OJ got off for heaven’s sake! And that jury wasn’t a backwater herd of inbreds what put him back in a golf cart.  Earl’ll be vengeful, Veeta. A poisoned dog here, a burnt down donut shop there…You know what I mean.  And, I don’t trust the legal system here…He’s friends with, sorta, or has bullied everybody in this town…

VEETA

Almost everybody.  There is the one legal eagle here he can’t bully and who didn’t excuse his lowdown dealins’…All three times he’s stood in front of the bench for those swindles he cooked up, justice was served.

MIRA

I’ll give you that. Very nearly bankrupted us if you’ll recall. Listen, you and I are not connected to this town since Daddy passed.  We’d of had some means of dealin’ with this if Daddy could help us now.

VEETA

Daddy would’ve put this fella in an ambulance and then after a good horse whippin’ in the barn, Earl would find his nasty self on the road back south. 

MIRA

Right!  But Daddy’s gone and we’re just the working class Whitmire sisters.  We got no real influence any more unless it’s to suggest an “up do” or jimmies on a chocolate donut.  And Mama? Well Mama’s just Mama, you know…Damn, honey, my point is that Earl’s smart like a weasel.  He could turn the whole thing around and we could get put away for life.  You thought of that, rocket?
VEETA

You are my sister, and I love you, and I hope you are right. Son of a bitch. I hope Earl’s liver fails soon.  I can only hope.  

MIRA

Your mouth to God’s ear.

VEETA

Ok, ok, ok. Just for the record, Earl’s a shitty shot. 

MIRA

No argument here, hon.

VEETA

You ready, sister?  You are gonna help me with this so here’re the rules:  No puking or crying.  Glad he’s out ‘cause this is going to hurt…

MIRA

(Deep breath, with faux gusto grasping one of the arrows)
 
Here we go, sweetie, one-two-three…

Black out


VEETA’s voice

Whoa, there’s a gusher.

MIRA’s voice

                         (Pukes)


Act 1
Scene 2

Do’s & Donuts about 3 am.  The porch is quiet.  Headlights sweep the front of the shop again and the sound of gravel crunches as someone gets out of a car and stumbles uncertainly up onto the porch.  He is a large man, dressed in a suit in which he looks entirely out of place.  He slouches into a chair, breathing heavily.  He cradles a “to go” cup and says in a quiet voice…

EARL

Mira, you come on down here now.  We’re goin’ home.

MIRA

(From above window) I’m stayin’ here tonight Earl.

EARL

No. Nope. You’re not. Let’s go.

MIRA

No, honey, I’m all settled in.  I’ll be home to make you breakfast, I promise.

EARL

Mira, get your ass down here NOW! 

(He flings a chair.  Mira and Veeta appear on the circular staircase fully dressed. Mira’s party dress is gone, replaced by slacks and blouse.)

VEETA

EARL, you will now get off my porch.

EARL

(Prowling around looking at things, he focuses on the pup tent) 

Make me, bitch.  Mira move it.

MIRA

(Whispering) Damn, he’s still worked up. I got to go Veeta or he’ll get too riled.  You can give our “client” the best care anyway.  I’ll be ok.  (Louder)   I’m comin’, honey, hang on.  How ‘bout I make you a nice big cup of coffee when we get home?

VEETA

(Whispering)
 
Damn it, Mira…Don’t you dump this on me…

MIRA

I’ll see you in the morning.  Just stay cool. Sorry I puked.
VEETA

That’s ok.  But Mira…

EARL

What’s this?
(Slowly drawing out the moment)

Upon closer inspection, I see that you have been up to no good, Miss Veeta.  Yessiree.
 
(Mira and Veeta look fearfully from the stairs trying to see what has caught his attention.)
               
                          EARL

I see evidence of quite an infraction of the LAW here.  There is PHYSICAL evidence right here for anyone to see.  And because I am RELATED to you by marriage, I am going to help you DISPOSE of it, so no one will see fit to haul your sorry ass into court. 

EARL

Why, if I don’t help you with this dilemma, sis, you could do time.
 
(Mira and Veeta start down the stairs)
 
Veeta, dear sister-in-law, (He shouts) you still housing the homeless here?  You’re lowering the value of the real estate with this little tramp camp.  My property value and everyone else’s is in danger of plummeting because of your half-assed notion of social responsibility.
 
(He circles the pup tent as a man clad in long johns emerges from it and backs away into the shadows.)
 
You better get a move on Cecil…Time to MOVE ON!
 
(He kicks over the tent and rips down all of Cecil’s belongings, stomping everything in his path. He then topples over every wooden figurine on the porch.)

VEETA

(Producing and cocking a large shotgun)
 
Be on your way Earl, NOW!  I called Willis.

EARL

(Sneering)
 
“I called Willis.”  Tonto to the rescue! Cherokee freak.

(He puts on “Indian” voice)
 
Kimo sabe save white woman from bad man, and make her his squaw.  Ugh!  You like the way he makes a teepee Veeta? 
(Taking Mira by the back of her blouse and quick-stepping her from the porch.)
 
Get in your car, Mira.   G’night, sister-in-law.  Looking forward to a jelly filled one after church on Sunday, darlin’.

Car doors slam and gravel churns as Earl peels out of the parking lot with the sounds of Mira’s car traveling behind. Vera uncocks the shotgun and slumps.

VEETA

If lightning don’t strike you first…


















Act 1
Scene 3

Dos & Donuts around 3:15 am.  Veeta is mopping the porch; bucket, bleach and her gun within reach.  She alternates mop strokes with swigs from her tumbler which she refills from a vodka bottle.  Lights of a police car sweep across her and she looks up and scrambles to hide the mop, towels and a certain cocktail dress. She rapidly sits in her rocker with the gun across her knees.  A tall law enforcement officer with a long black braid down his back approaches the porch, takes off his hat and sits on the steps…

VEETA
Willis.
WILLIS
Veeta. Earl again?

VEETA
Yep.
WILLIS
Anyone hurt?
VEETA
Nope.
WILLIS

You wanta press charges?


VEETA
Nope.
WILLIS

Cecil’s tent’s down.

VEETA
Yep.
WILLIS

Damn.  Sorry I couldn’t get here quicker.

VEETA

That’s ok.  I’ll take care of Cecil.  You go on now. 

(She pats him on the shoulder as she gets up; Willis looks at the spot where she touched him)

WILLIS

I’ll help put Cecil back to right. I can… stay…you know.  If you want…To guard, you know.  Like before…


VEETA

NO.  It’s ok Willis.  Go on.

WILLIS
(Gathering resolve) 
Veeta, I truly think you need someone around here more regular to make sure everything’s alright.

VEETA
(With Molly Brown bravado) 
Well, you know better than that. 

(Holding up her shotgun)

Daddy left me “The Authority Stick” here and it seems to do the trick. You oughtta know I can’t afford a body guard or a security company, if that’s what you mean Chief...

WILLIS

I mean like a husband to you.

VEETA
(Archly) 

Willis, that’s a cozy solution to what you think is a problem here.
           VEETA contd.
Sweetie, I’m set in my ways.  I like the seat down in the outhouse and the cap on the toothpaste.  I am irritating in my living patterns.  I stay up late with the owls and get up at the butt-crack of dawn.   That alone is not conducive to marital bliss.

(She tries to lead him off the porch to leave)

Besides, who’d want a bossy old donut rollin’ flour-covered, crack shot, vodka drinkin’, foul mouthed, workin’ woman like me?  I ain’t no spring chicken …

WILLIS

(Interrupting, blurting, taking her by the shoulders, going for broke) 

Woman, damn it, I’m tryin’ to say something here.  I would.  I mean I would want your bossy-ass self.  I’d marry you.  Yes, I would.  There it is…

Willis and Veeta both stunned, sit down awkwardly trying to process the moment.

VEETA

Well, honey, that’s the most words out loud I think I’ve ever heard you string together.

WILLIS

Uh huh. Don’t like to waste ‘em.

VEETA

I like that.  You go on along now.

WILLIS

Veeta?  You ok? 

VEETA

Fine, Willis.  I’ll call you, honey.  I’ll make you dinner, how’s that? And you can guard me then. Just go on now…

Willis takes her hand, and kisses her gently on the lips and leaves hesitantly. Willis then makes a furious return to the porch to plant a big romantic kiss on Veeta after all, who is ruffled and glowing in the aftermath.
Cecil emerges silently from the shadows, relights his lantern, retrieves a pair of overalls from the wreckage of his tent, tugs them on and starts straightening up his area…Veeta props her gun against the chair and she joins Cecil in his clean up.  Veeta finds and returns Cecil’s harmonica to him.  Cecil straightens with some reverence the homemade wooden sign on the porch depicting a hand drawn, smiling, house cat and begins to replace the wooden figures of bears, panthers and Indians carefully on the porch rail.




Act 1
Scene 4

Dos & Donuts, next morning, early.  Cecil, clean and groomed, sits at the picnic table in clear anticipation, a pocket knife and a large raw piece of wood in front of him for whittling.  Veeta emerges from her donuts shop, apron dusty with flour, with a steaming cup of coffee and a big glazed donut setting them in front of Cecil.  He delicately sips and eats, silently savoring breakfast, and begins whittling.  Mira arrives, high heels clicking. She snags Veeta by the arm walking her to the far corner of the porch…

MIRA

(Whispering quickly, dramatically)

Everything looks great Veeta!  You got all the blood up.  How is our “client?” I won’t let anyone in to the facial room until we can move him tonight late…I been thinking.  Let’s just put him in the hospital parking lot right before shift change tonight.  Someone’ll see him and, “bada-bing,” he’s dealt with.  I brought my personal supply of valiums to put in his water to keep him knocked out…

             


Suddenly an elderly woman                     scoots on stage in a hover-round                  motorized wheelchair, oxygen tank                 strapped to the side with tubing                   leading to her nose.  She drives                   to a rest between the sisters.

              FIRELIGHT

Goooood mornin’ my little butter beans.  Time for breakfast…I got a taste for bacon today…

              VEETA

Mama! In a second honey…

              MIRA

Veeta!  Our “client?” 

VEETA

MIRA!  Shut…up!  He’s gone.  And no more New York cop shows for you.  What’s this “bada-bing”?

              FIRELIGHT

It’s what “eye tal yun” guys say, Veeta.

MIRA
(Steering Veeta away from Firelight, whispering, with rising panic)

Gone?  He can’t be gone.  He must’ve crawled off somewhere.  Did you look in the attic?  How about under the shop?  Under the porch?

              FIRELIGHT

That possum back in your attic Veeta?  Just let me sit out here one night with your Daddy’s shotgun and “bada bing” no more possum.

VEETA

He’s just gone Mira.  Let it lie.

              FIRELIGHT
‘Course gotta do it right with the first shot or they crawl off and die somewhere private-like and next thing you know there’s a stink…whew!!

MIRA
Oh my GAWD! 
(She collapses in a chair)

What did you DO?

VEETA

What did I do?  For the love ‘a … I did nothing.  He left on his own…somehow.   Now, I’ve opened up Donuts and you just open up Do’s. Get to teasing up some big Tammy Wynette hair.  It’s like it never happened.  Right Mama?

              FIRELIGHT

That’s right Veeta.  Never happened.  I’m goin’in.  All this talk about your possum’s makin’ me hungry. 

         (She wheels into the donut shop)

              VEETA

Nothin’ is even missing except that bottle of peroxide and some towels. The crossbow bolts. And your dress.

MIRA

Oh poo!  I was going to return it.

VEETA
Do you see?  He took all the evidence.   I think we got lucky. He missed your cash box.  So, as I see it in the light of day, it was just a bad dream and it’s over.

MIRA
(Shaky)
Well, if you say so Veeta.

VEETA

I say so.
MIRA

We have to keep this secret forever, Veeta. 

VEETA
Yep. I will.

MIRA

We’ve got to take the oath…

VEETA

No oath Mira.  That was just some voodoo Mama made up.  She’s always been a couple of rollers short of a perm…



MIRA

We have to take the oath!  It’s the only thing that’ll bind us.  And I don’t want anyone to know about this because of Earl.

VEETA
No

MIRA
Yes.

VEETA
No

(They stare each other down for a beat)

MIRA

Yes!
VEETA

No!
MIRA
(Exasperated)

But why ever not?

VEETA

It’s stupid and I promise not to talk of this ever again.  That should be enough.

MIRA

Well, I don’t think it’s enough Velveeta Whitmire.

VEETA

Hush up!!  WE took the oath never to say our full names in public.  You just broke it!

MIRA

(In a whisper) 

Velveeta!  Velveeta!  Velveeta!

VEETA

Oh my God!  I’m going to knock you square into Buncombe County if you don’t cut it out.

MIRA
VELLLL-VEEEEETA!

Cecil is startled from his whittling and looks at the sisters

VEETA

(Pushing Mira)

Stop it!

MIRA

(Pushing back) 

VELLLLLLL-VEEEETA!

VEETA

(She rears back and lets fly…)

MIRRRRRACLE WHHHIP!!

MIRA

Oh you BITCH!

They push and slap each other until they stop teary and out of breath and look at each other and Cecil with some shame. 

VEETA

Just our luck to have a Mama who named us after her favorite luncheon sandwich. 

MIRA

I suspect the next Whitmire child would’ve been named Wonder Bread, had there been one.  I always wanted a little brother…

VEETA

That’s what Daddy loved about Mama. Her peculiarities. He loved her ever since she walked barefoot down from the mountains with that moony, off-kilter view of things.  Who knows what kin we have way back up there in the coves around Panthertail.
MIRA

Yeah, and I don’t want to know.  Veeta, the oath?

VEETA

The oath, then.  Cecil would you kindly avert your eyes and plug your ears.  This is family stuff.

They link arms at the elbows, and cross pinkies with their free hands and stand on one foot.

MIRA

Upon our honor, we take the Hangdog Holler oath, that the events of the last 24 hours are a family secret, not to be spoken of again.  I do solemnly swear…

VEETA

As do I.  Reluctantly.

They unlink arms and pull their pinkies apart, stop a second, and hug.  Up on to the porch comes Mira’s first client, Mrs. Galloway, a regular with a big purse.

MRS. GALLOWAY

G’morning Veeta honey.  Bring me one of those bearclaws and a cup of chicory will you?  To hell with my blood sugar.  C’mon Mira.  I am a lady barely clingin’ to whatever I got left in the looks department.  Let’s start the engines…

(Mira looks at Veeta pleadingly.)


VEETA

Go on girl.  We’re ok.

MIRA

Hi Mizz Galloway.  Let’s just make you even prettier than you already are!

MRS. GALLOWAY

That’s why I like you Mira.  You’re so full of hogwash!  You just got to quick sniffing all that hair spray that’s all.  Then you’ll be fine…

Veeta walks over and taps Cecil on the shoulder who still has his eyes closed and ears plugged.  He looks up and smiles at her and commences to whittling again.  Willis arrives for breakfast, and walks toward the shop with Veeta.

WILLIS

No end to the calls last night, trouble all around, Veeta.  I sure could use some coffee with that special sugar you have here. (He pecks her on the cheek)  Haven’t slept.




VEETA

Ah damn it, Willis, more than what happened here?

WILLIS

Yep.  Some guy stole Zeke’s pickup over in Cold Mountain.  Found it at Berry’s Diner near the tracks.

VEETA

Get a description?  Anybody see him?

WILLIS

No one saw him.  Don’t know how the guy did all that.  So much blood…Seemed like he was half bled out.

VEETA

Oh my word!  Sounds like one tough fella I’m sure.  Too bad he didn’t let anyone help him.

WILLIS

Oh he had help.  We just gotta find out who that’s all.

VEETA

Well we sure had a bad moon over us last night didn’t we? Let’s get you that coffee. Your eyes look like two burnt holes in a blanket.

WILLIS

Wait a second.  Hold your horses woman.  Was I dreamin’ or did I propose marriage to you last night?

VEETA

I believe you did.

WILLIS

Did you say yes?

VEETA

Not yet.

WILLIS

Gonna say yes?

VEETA

Maybe.  Depends.

WILLIS

Why not?

VEETA

Where’s my ring?

WILLIS

Oh yeah.  Ok.  I’ll be back with one.

VEETA

Yes you will!

(She opens the door for him, he goes through, she smacks him in the rear.  She pauses and shivers and then goes in herself)


End of Act 1



Act 2
Scene 1

Do’s and Donuts.  Six months later, noontime.  It’s autumn and leaves have fallen. Pumpkins and cornshocks decorate the shops.  Cecil is at the picnic table, in clear mealtime expectation.  Enter Earl accompanied by a man in a suit carrying a briefcase and a blueprint can. Earl is in full “sales” mode and is clearly trying to make an impression.  Earl is also fawning over Firelight, her eyes sparkle with enthusiasm. They settle at a table and the suited man begins to decant the contents of the blueprint tube in preparation to lay it out on the table. Earl has been filling the space with rapid fire conversational tidbits the whole time.

EARL

Welcome to Do’s & Donuts, the hub of the social scene here in Mishap Gap.  But we’re going to change that aren’t we Mr. Armbruster? (He reaches over and smacks Armbruster on the shoulder)   Yes, indeed. Point of interest:   I have managed through my skills in labor management and the science of ergonomics to make this little enterprise into a McCall cash cow.  My wife and sister-in-law work here, so the overhead’s low, if you know what I mean….Right, Mama?

             

FIRELIGHT

That’s right, Earl, you done good here son.  Don’t know what the girls would’ve done without you honey. 

              MR. ARMBRUSTER

Well, well. This is quaint.  Very cozy.

              EARL

Lunch’ll be ready soon.  What can I get you Mr. Armbruster?  Can I call you Felix?  How about some fresh lemonade?  Sweet tea?  (He tugs a flask from his suit pocket)  Something medicinal…

              FIRELIGHT

Hold on there!  Where’d you get that Earl? From those no-good Tolliver twins?  Pour a tot into the cap there first.  (She pulls out a kitchen match, scratches it on the table to the horror of all since she is on oxygen, and applies the flame to the liquid.)  Hmmph.  Burns blue.  You can drink it.  Won’t go blind…no lead. Tollivers are classin’ up their lightnin’ finally.

              EARL

What’d’ya say, Felix?  Little initiation to Mishap Gap?

              MR. ARMBRUSTER

(Clearly ruffled)  Well, um, ok.  (He takes a prissy sip and snorts; his vocal chords effected) Well then, burns all the way down, don’t it; ha ha ha.

              FIRELIGHT

Good boy! Now you’re one of us!

They spread the contents of the blueprint tube out and huddle around it as Veeta comes out of Donuts with a food tray full of sandwiches.  She stops at Cecil and drops off a sandwich and drink.  He smiles.  She sweeps over to Earl’s table and serves them, loudly slinging the dishes in front of Earl and the man, delicately in front of the old woman.

VEETA
(In her mother’s ear, gently) 

There you go Mama.  Velveeta cheese spread and Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread.  Miller Lite and a watermelon pickle. 

(She turns and yells) 

Mira!  Come on now!  Earl’s here…

              MIRA
(From inside) 
I’m comin’!  I’m comin’!   I’m just finishing up my spa shampoo. 

(She comes out with her hair in a towel followed by a woman in a sweater and slacks.  The woman is very well groomed and attractive.) 

I swear, Gianna here is such a find!   I am so glad I hired her…She gives a spa shampoo with “shit-sue” massage.
GIANNA
(Laughing)

That’s Shiatsu massage Mira.  Shihtzu is a dog!

MIRA
Right!  Shit sue.  Well, it’s a treat and Gianna’s got such strong hands. Felt so good! I’m just as relaxed as can be…

EARL

Hello, Gianna. 

(Checking her out, winking at the other man)

GIANNA
Earl.
EARL

Offer’s still open to show you around sometime.  Show you some real southern hospitality Earl McCall style.

GIANNA

(Chilly) Thanks. How very gracious.  Who says Southern charm is dead?   I’ll call you, how’s that?

              EARL

Don’t wait too long, darlin’, the offer could expire.

              GIANNA

I’ll just make a note to remind me…

VEETA

What is your business here Earl?  Let’s get to it…

GIANNA

(Hearing the phone ring) Well, then, I’ll just answer that phone. 

MIRA

That’d be fine Gianna. Thank you.  (Mira elbows Earl who continues to leer at Gianna as she departs.  As only Veeta can see him, he gestures as if he’s going to backhand Mira. She cringes.)

VEETA

(Snapping her fingers, whispering to spare her mother)  Hey!! Never again Earl or you’re done.  I’ll see to it.

EARL

(Sacharine, sarcastic) Oh. Ok.  I promise Veeta.

MR. ARMBRUSTER

Ahem…Hello Mizz Veeta. Mizz Mira.  I’m Felix Armbruster from Armbruster, Billamy, and Hartzog, Atlanta offices.   I have real good news for you ladies.

MIRA

What’d we win? 


EARL

He’s my lawyer.

MR. ARMBRUSTER

That’s right.  I’ve been working with Dwayne Earl here…

EARL

Just Earl. I hate the Dwayne.

MR. ARMBRUSTER

…on a spectacular plan we have created for the profitable development of your family property.

MIRA

Earl, you never told me about this…

EARL

(Fake sweet for Mama’s benefit) 

It’s a surprise, sweetpea.

MR. ARMBRUSTER

Well, as you can see on this artwork here, we can put a whole planned community of upscale domiciles on your family property.  7800 acres of mountain view condos and a golf course.  Look there’s even room for a putt-putt and a Piggly Wiggly on the state road…Why, when it’s built out, we all stand to make millions!

VEETA

We all?

EARL

Mr. Armbruster here is a partner in the venture.  He’s putting up the seed capital against the value of the property.

Gianna emerges from the salon with a question on her lips, but she stops short of asking seeing the sparks flying.

VEETA

Whoa, hoss.  You don’t own that land.  Mama does. You have no business leading Mr. Armtwister here on about owning any of it.  You don’t.

MR. ARMBRUSTER

That’s Armbruster…

EARL

I do.  Your Mama has good sense.  She has agreed that my highly effective business abilities will protect you and Mira from someone scamming you out of the land once she’s gone, so she signed over the deeds to me to manage.  Ask her

(Mira gasps out loud)

VEETA

(Dumbstruck)

Mama?  That true?

FIRELIGHT

(Completely deluded and gleeful) 

Surprise!  Ain’t this great!  All for you, my little chicks.  You’ll be ladies of leisure.  You won’t have to make donuts or do hair anymore.  Earl’s the man of the family now and he’s going to make sure you’re taken care of for the rest of your lives. I can rest in peace knowin’ that.  And Mira, you and Earl can spit on that snooty Country Club now.  Y’all will have one of your own!

MIRA
(Sobbing.  Gianna goes to her.) 

FIRELIGHT

Honey, I knew there’d be tears of pure joy!

VEETA

(With clenched teeth)
 
Mama this IS quite a surprise.  You always want the best for us, I know.

(She kisses her) 

I love you so much.  Let’s talk some more about it in a minute.  Whyn’t you go visit with Cecil for a few and have your dinner?   I have something I want to say to “the man of the family”

FIRELIGHT

Oh!  I didn’t even see him over there!  Cecil, d’ja hear the news?  Veeta and Mira are gonna be rich!  I feel so blessed…Earl is a “jeen-yus.” 

(She wheels over to sit with Cecil, while Earl and MR. ARMBRUSTER brace for the assault and Veeta revs up)

MIRA

I don’t like the plan Earl.  Daddy wanted a game preserve…a sanctuary something, but not condos…Veeta?

VEETA

There will be a restraining order Earl.  You and Mr. Armbuster here…

MR. ARMBRUSTER

That’s ArmBRUSTER…

VEETA

…are not to see our Mama again without legal supervision. She’s not of sound mind.

EARL

Oh, that’s a shame.  I was just getting to enjoy our little conversations.

MR. ARMBRUSTER

(Uneasy with what he’s sensing)
 
Earl, I thought you said they’d be on board…

EARL

Mira is.  Right Mira?
 
(Mira says nothing) 

RIGHT MIRA?

MIRA

I guess. I don’t know…It’s still in the family I suppose.

EARL

See?

VEETA

I think by now you are aware that I am not on board.  (Seething)    Mr. Armbruster, I am sorry you have been misled, but this will be dealt with after I have
VEETA contd.
some time to explain to my Mama what has occurred here.  I think possibly you have been duped as well and I will make every effort to make you whole again once this is reconciled.  And as for you, Du-wayne, here’s some Southern hospitality, you stinking sack of rattlesnake shit.  Get off MY property.  This shop is still mine. 

EARL

(He takes her by the arm and shoves her down the porch steps) 

Veeta, I don’t like the Dwayne.  Now, I’ll give you a little time to think this through very carefully. Consider this:  How many donuts do you have to unload to pay a lawyer, whoever that might be. I got every practicin’ legal hack for miles in my back pocket… 

VEETA

You think you do, but you’d better be real certain Mr. Big Shit.  I’m comin after you…

EARL

And, God forbid that grease you use to make those crappy fried dough balls should ignite by accident…



VEETA

Is that a threat?

EARL

No, just planning for inevitabilities.  Sorry, meant to say eventualities.

VEETA

You will not win this.

EARL

Wanna bet? I always win…

MIRA

Oh my GAWD!  MAMA!  NO!

Everyone on the porch runs over, including Gianna.  Cecil, looking sad, is holding Mama’s hand.  She is slumped over on his shoulder dead.  A smile of angelic peace is on her lips.




Act II
Scene 2


Do’s & Donuts.  3 days later.  Porch sports a sign “Closed for Family Funeral.”  It is dusk.  Mira and Veeta dressed in black sit in rockers with cocktails, lit candles. Mrs. Galloway sits with them companionably drinking cosmopolitans she is pouring from her own personal silver thermos into a martini glass. Mira is wearing large black sunglasses. They rock in unison, stop in unison to sip, and then continue rocking together in silence.  A whippoorwill calls.

VEETA

Stupid bird was supposed to call out before someone dies, not after for pity’s sake. 

MIRA

I’d’ve liked some warning too, hon.

              MRS. GALLOWAY

Amen, sister.

              MIRA
(They rock, sip, rock)

Veeta, what does anti-freeze taste like?

VEETA

Haven’t had the pleasure.  May I inquire as to why you are askin’?

MIRA

Just curious if it mixes well with Jack.  Kind of a Prestone cocktail…

VEETA

Do not poison Earl.  It is traceable.

              MRS. GALLOWAY

Uh huh.  Surely is. I oughtta know.

MIRA

Oh.  Shoot.  Ok. 

(They rock, sip, rock)

Just thought I’d give that whippoorwill a little something to wail on about other than the death of our dreams.

VEETA

Dreams?

MIRA

If I were in an all-ter-nate universe, I’d build a sweet little salon and spa way up on The Property.   It’d be all porches and windows and stone and moss where people could come to unwind, relax, get pretty.  Listen to the waterfalls, or the rain, or the crickets on the dark of the moon…Just a place where we use our hands only gently, healingly.  Is that a word I just made up?  I like it.  Healingly.  And the train would whistle along low and rumbling…comforting.  Just like when we used to camp up there with Daddy, remember?
             
MRS. GALLOWAY

Ugh! Camping. A mini-bar and complimentary cashmere bouquet soap is roughin’ it for me.




VEETA

Here’s mine - I always thought about fixing up that old mill up on the creek.  You know where that Civil War battle was fought?  It’s historical.  I’d bake bread from real milled grain, just like the old days.  I’d keep the fire burning in the oven and people would drive their SUVs on 4 wheel drive just to get my bread, my pastries, my sandwiches and coffee.  Because it is worth it to travel on a rutted logging road just to eat my baking. And I’d have a man who loves me, and my bread…

MIRA

Oh you already got that, honey.

(Gianna joins them on the porch after turning out the lights and locking the salon door.)

MRS. GALLOWAY

Gianna, come sit.

MIRA

Thanks for helping with the cancellations. Have a cocktail.



GIANNA

Love to.  All the sweet tea is getting monotonous.  Thanks. 

(They fill a tumbler with a liberal amount of vodka and pass it to Gianna)

VEETA

Sweet tea is the staple liquid refreshment of the South. You were quite obviously raised elsewhere.

GIANNA

Not so far from the South really. I am so sorry about everything that happened. 

MIRA

Thanks.  It’s ok.  We still have Do’s & Donuts. It’s a living.

MRS. GALLOWAY

And I thank God every day you ladies are here to transform me into the man-magnet I truly am…irresistible from my well-frosted head to my gnarly old toes.

VEETA

(Loose from the vodka) 

Gianna, what’s your idea of the perfect man?

GIANNA

You mean from a woman’s point of view?

VEETA

(Chuckling) 

And there’s some other point of view?

GIANNA
(Deep breath) 

Well, I imagine I’d be looking for one that’s not hard on the eyes…But what matters more is that he is the very best person he can be in every situation…More especially when he’s, um, with me, I guess.  Gregory Peck comes to mind.

              MRS. GALLOWAY

Mmmmmmm…Now THERE’s a man’s man.

VEETA

Good choice. How sweet.  You’re dreamin’.  And I think he’s dead anyway.

GIANNA

(After a silence) 
I just have to say something.  Mira, I don’t know if you noticed but Earl won’t leave me be.  Even at the funeral.  He’s relentless.  Will he quit?

VEETA

Yep.  He’s subhuman.  Nope, he don’t quit.

GIANNA

Mira, if you don’t mind my getting personal, why haven’t you divorced Earl by now?

MIRA

That is personal…



GIANNA

Oh I’m so sorry...

MIRA

…Just don’t cross him.

VEETA

I just hope he darkens my door some night and I get the credible opportunity to mistake him for a burglar. POW!  Oopsie!  Sorry Earl.

MRS. GALLOWAY

Credible only in Texas, Little Sure Shot.

GIANNA

(Leaning in)

I won’t cross him, Mira. But he shouldn’t cross me either, you know?

(Gianna gently removes Mira’s sunglasses to reveal a very bruised cheek and eye.  She gingerly pushes up her sleeves to reveal black and blue stripes)
GIANNA contd.

How can you let this happen?

VEETA

New batch of war wounds?  Mira, tell her what you told me about leaving Earl.

MIRA

(Now feeling her vodka, Mira takes Gianna’s hand)

It’s hard to explain.  I’m afraid, that’s all.  Trapped.  Should the occasion arise that you lock horns with him, just be sure you make the first shot count. Take it from me – If he comes back at you, it’s tenfold.  Be careful.  Stay away from him if you can.

              MRS. GALLOWAY

Y’know, in my experience with situations like this, life just kind of takes care of itself sometimes.  (She sings a little) I’ll get by with a little help from my friends…




GIANNA

There’s a way out.  I feel it...I know it. Trust me, I’m going to get this fixed for you Mira.

              MRS. GALLOWAY

I get high with a little help from my friends…

              GIANNA

I owe you.  You’ve done so much for me, you’ll never know… You should not be treated like this.


              MRS. GALLOWAY

Gonna try with a little help from my friend…


VEETA

Been down this road with her, Gianna.  She’s hard of hearing. He’s busted her eardrums one too many times.




MIRA

(Angrily) 

I’d get out if I could. It’d take an avenging angel straight from heaven with a flaming sword leading me away. But as long as Earl’s free to come and go, for self-preservation and to hold on to any vestige of dignity I might have left, I just try to keep his coffee hot and his bed occupied.  It wasn’t always this way.  You know it started out right.  I met him in a duck blind on one of Daddy’s hunting trips and he was so sweet and charming. Dreamy good-lookin’ too.   Pure south Georgia gentlemanly romantic attention just won me. And Daddy.  Earl was a man’s man.  Veeta, you were impressed too.  You can admit that. 

VEETA

I too can be duped by a gold-diggin’ scumbag.

(Veeta snorts and chuckles in disdain) 

MIRA

So, Earl got Daddy’s blessing, got on one knee, we had a gorgeous wedding at Mishap Gap Falls, and on the honeymoon Earl just loved on me wild until neither of us could walk.



VEETA

Stop. Damn it Mira.  Too much information. Gawd help me, I do not want to lose this fine expensive funeral vodka over the railing; if you please.

MIRA

Then Daddy died. He was found in his study shot to death with his own shotgun.
 
         (Mrs. Galloway is still and while not           looking at Mira, she is intently                listening)

Ruled a suicide by old blind Sheriff Petey, God rest him.  Earl stood by his grave as they lowered Daddy down, holdin’ our poor bewildered Mama like a son, and I swear I saw him change right then and there.  He stared at me like he wanted me in that coffin, not Daddy.  It was all for show, his bein’ a southern super hero.  He was waitin’ it out.  He broke my nose that night.

VEETA

(Having had enough, she gets up and jets to the railing)

A hunting accident would be peachy. A few crossbow bolts applied with velocity to his big fat ass would be divine justice. Just like he did that fella…

(Gianna looks up with a jerk)

MIRA

(Suddenly sober and alert) 

Veeta, go to bed.  You are treadin’ on thin ice carryin’ a blow torch business side down.

VEETA

Mira, don’t you tell me what to do. Don’t you dare.  I have put my whole life on hold to try and make sense of it all. Daddy, Mama, Dwayne Earl, I put aside everything especially to look out for you little sister.  I should be married and bitchin’ about bein’ a football widow or something.  I should have kids around me…I should be playin’ slap and tickle in the kitchen with my man listenin to the kids shoot hoops outside.  But damn it I’m not doing any of that.  Because?  I have your mess of a marriage to look to, a millstone around my neck…under the circumstances what kind of village idiot I would be to even consider it for myself.  Every day of my life just slips away like the steam off the coffee I make every morning, and I am no closer to anything I might want...Trapped.  I know trapped ok. So shut up.  Just shut up. Shut the hell up…

              MRS. GALLOWAY

Whooo – wee.


              VEETA

(She is stopped in her tracks staring at something next to the porch steps) 

Mira, have you seen this yet?

MIRA

What?

VEETA

Come over here please.

MIRA

I don’t know if I should.  You done yet?

              MRS. GALLOWAY

I got your back sweetie!

(Mira, Veeta, Mrs. Galloway and Gianna gather at the rail where they see that a new object has been added to their collection of figures.  It is a three foot high sculpture depicting St. Sebastian eyes cast in agony to the heavens pierced full of arrows in all his bloody glory tied to the railing.  Veeta brings over a candle to illuminate it in better detail)

GIANNA

Hello!  Very realistic.  You all   Catholic?

MIRA

Somebody knows…

Blackout 
















                     Act II
Scene 3

Do’s & Donuts.  Next morning.  The St. Sebastian sculpture has been cut down and is lying on its side on the porch partially covered by a sheet.    Mira’s still in sunglasses and teasing up Mrs. Galloway’s hair al fresco. Veeta’s in the middle of carving a pumpkin for Halloween and Willis, in full uniform is up to his elbows scooping the guts out of another pumpkin..  Gianna is on the porch reading a magazine. Cecil’s having breakfast.

MRS. GALLOWAY

So I go up to Zeke’s cabin up there on the ridge for dinner since he allowed he wanted to continue to see me even though I wouldn’t kiss him on the first date.

MIRA

Uh huh




MRS. GALLOWAY

Anyway, he serves me a salad on a plate that was plain filthy and when I said “Zeke, this plate’s just dirty,” he says, “Best I can do with cold water.”

MIRA

Livin’ kinda primitive up there I guess.

MRS. GALLOWAY

Well, that’s what I thought, but he was tryin’ so hard to impress, so I just let it go.  Then he served me my dinner on a plate that was filthy too.  When I pointed it out again, he just said “Best I can do with cold water.”  Well by now I’m thinking’ I better locate my stash of antibiotics when I get home, but I didn’t want to embarrass ol’ Zeke so I let it go again.

WILLIS

And dessert?

MRS. GALLOWAY

Filthy plate again…and again Zeke says “Best I can do with cold water.”   Well, by this time it’s getting dusky outside.  I am figuring I have a scant 4 hours before the food poisoning kicks in and I want to be home near my very own facilities when it does…So Zeke
MRS. GALLOWAY contd.
escorts me to my car and before he can try to kiss me again, out of his barn comes this big old drooling hound dog that commences to jump up on my clothes.  Well, Zeke jerked up this hound’s chain and you know what he said? 

MIRA
What?

MRS. GALLOWAY

“Down, Cold Water, Down!”

(Mira, Gianna, Willis, and Veeta crack up, Cecil smiles.)

MRS. GALLOWAY

See there, honey, that’s how you tell a joke. Make it sound real.  A little deception goes a long way…

GIANNA

True enough.  Zeke’s going to sue you for defamation Mizz Galloway.



MRS. GALLOWAY

Oh, I can defend myself against any move by ‘ol Zeke, either legally or otherwise.  No problem.

(A stranger comes up on the porch.)

MIRA

Hello there, mister.  You here for a haircut?

ROTHSTEIN

No.  Thanks.

VEETA

(Pouring coffee) 

Hey Willis.  How about that donut?

WILLIS

No thanks.  Tryin’ to quit. Heh, heh! (Pointing to himself.) You know, cop?  Donut?  Well I think it’s funny….  Can we help you?  New here?  Veeta here makes bread that makes angels weep…

GIANNA

Uh, Willis, would you step inside a sec.  I have a little something I need…fixed.

WILLIS

Sure Gianna.  Be right back.  (Veeta follows Willis and Gianna with her eyes and puts down the coffee pot rather loudly.)

ROTHSTEIN

(He looks around) 

I noticed you have a hobo mark on your railing there.  It means “nice lady lives here.”  Did you know that?

VEETA

I just thought it was a cute picture of a fat cat.  We do have rail riders who come through here though.  They stop in to visit Cecil over there and I guess I’m the nice lady ‘cause I feed them.  Cecil though, he retired from riding the rails.  Too many whacks on the head from the rail bosses, sadly enough.




ROTHSTEIN
Just wondering if you have seen this man.

(He holds out a photo toward Gianna, but she’s gone)

MIRA

Lemme see that! 

(Mira leaves Mrs. Galloway’s hair in a teased peak and runs over.)

This is just like Law & Order.  Are you a cop?

ROTHSTEIN

No, a book publisher. Name’s Barry Rothstein.

VEETA
(Looking at the photo and forcibly hiding her shock) 

No. Never seen him.





MIRA

(Eyes wide) Veeta, he looks just like that guy we…(Veeta kicks her)…never saw, ever.  No, we never saw him.

WILLIS

(He returns)

Y’sure Mira? Veeta?   How about you Mrs. Galloway? 

(He takes the picture from Rothstein and hands it to Mrs. Galloway)

MRS. GALLOWAY

(Impressed with the photo) 

Well, helloooo darlin’.  Wouldn’t want to lose this one myself.  Wait a minute…He looks familiar…Hmmm.  He has family ‘round here?

Veeta

Mizz Galloway, he hasn’t been around here.  He looks a little like a movie star that’s all.  Johnny Depp or Pitt or somebody...

MRS. GALLOWAY

Oh he’s prettier than those boys.  Still looks so familiar…

ROthstein

Maybe you’ve read his books.  Here’s my card.  If you see him, call me please.  His name is John Sullivan and he was, rather is writing a book about riding the rails and filed his last chapter from right here in Mishap Gap.  In April.  He wrote about the tramp camp up there on the tracks.  Said there’s an interesting story brewin’ up.  We were supposed to have two more chapters by now, but there’s been no word.  We hope…Well, it may have been dangerous for him to go on this assignment.

Veeta

We’ll keep a good eye out for him.  I’m sure he’ll turn up.

Rothstein

Sure. Sure.  Thanks.




WILLIS

I’ve got an errand to run.  Need a ride Mister?  (Rothstein nods)  See you later ladies, Cecil.  You’ll be sure to call if you remember anything about John Sullivan, won’t you? 

(They leave the porch together and as tires on gravel move away, Veeta and Mira can barely contain themselves.  They meet at the bottom of the steps out of earshot of Cecil and Mrs. Galloway.  Gianna enters watching them leave.)

Veeta

Holy smokes!  That was like seein’ a ghost.

MIRA

Do you think he’s still around?  Do you think he’s taunting us with bloody old St. Sebastian there?  Do you think he’s tryin to make us nuts so we’ll spill the beans?  Think he’s Catholic?

Veeta

Oh for heaven’s sake, I don’t know.  We better keep our eyes open though.  By the way, what did Gianna need “fixed” anyway?  That’s maybe the third time your shit sue shampoo woman has cornered Willis.  She better keep away from him or I’m gonna have something to say…

MIRA

Eeeeeew Veeta!  Better let Willis fix something for you soon or he will stray darlin’.  Gianna has something very alluring about her…

Veeta

Don’t you worry about me and Willis.  He asked me to marry him,

MIRA

(Shock & squeals) 

Oh MY GAWD!   You said yes didn’t you?  DIDN’’T you?

Enter Earl clad in expensive sports clothes fresh from a football event at the sports bar, drunk as a skunk.

EARL

Waaahooooo!  How ‘bout them Dogs! 

(Slapping Mira on the butt)


EARL contd.

You shoulda seen ‘em whup them damn Clemson Big Shit Tigers.  Love to see those pussy bastards lose.  Heyyy Gianna!

(Gianna emerges from the salon)

How ‘bout them Dogs?

Gianna

How ‘bout ‘em Earl?

EARL

Want to do it doggie-style to celebrate?

Gianna

Hahahaha…no.

EARL

Just askin…Doesn’t hurt to ask does it? CECIL!  Hey Boo Radley!  How ‘bout them DAWGS you mutant!


MIRA

(Trying to draw Earl’s attention away from Cecil) 

Cecil loves Georgia.  Don’t you honey? 

(Cecil retreats down some back steps to his tent) 

Go Dogs!   Sit down and I’ll get you a sandwich.

EARL

Screw those damn Veeta sandwiches.  I am not eatin’ anything your skanky sister touched.  I bet she spits in my food…

MRS. GALLOWAY

(Standing like a dangerous sorceress, her hair teased out, cotton between every toe and her beauty parlor cape flying) 

Dwayne Earl McCall, sit your sassy ass down this minute and shut your filthy mouth. I am not inclined today, any more than the other days we have crossed paths, to put up with your uncouth  and brutish behavior.  And you know what I mean young man!   I am enjoyin’ my day of beauty here and no low class hillbilly like you is going to ruin it, y’hear mister?

EARL

(Taken by surprise, instantly sober and uncharacteristically cowed, he growls) 

Yes’m.
MRS. GALLOWAY

Very good, Dwayne.  Now sit!

(Earl scrambles up the porch stairs scowling at Mira and goes to sit.) 

EARL

Mizz Galloway, you know I don’t like the Dwayne…

(As he sits, he misses his mark and lands on the covered St. Sebastian statue. It is apparent that his butt connects with the arrows and he howls in pain shooting straight up and clutching his backside.) 

Oh holy shit!  What the hell bit me? 

(He whips the sheet from the sculpture and stares in a combination of horror and disdain.) 

EARL contd.

What is this?

MIRA

(Slowly because she knows this is risky) 

It’s St. Sebastian, Earl.  Bunch of folks hated him so much they shot him full of arrows. But he survived because a nice lady pulled all them bolts out and nursed him back to preach salvation another day.

EARL

(Soberly rubbing his backside which is seeping blood.) 

Yeah, well they were pretty crappy shots. Had it been me doin’ the shooting, I’d of surely done the job right.

(He turns and leaves, limping)

Blackout





Act II
Scene 4

Do’s & Donuts.  Halloween night.  The porch is quiet and lit only with pumpkin string lights and jack o’lanterns.  Moonlight slants beams over the rest of the shops.  Veeta’s apartment is unlit and Cecil’s lantern is dark outside his tent.

On the stairs leading up to Veeta’s apartment Willis and Veeta sit together; she with her knees apart and Willis, on the lower step, is leaning back into her lap.  She is brushing his unbraided hair in long strokes.


VEETA 
One or two?

              WILLIS

One or two what?         

VEETA

Braids, Willis.  You a little distracted?


              WILLIS

Yes I am.  One braid please.  (Headlights blow by and Willis sits up looking intensely at the passing car.)

              VEETA

Whoa there, Buckaroo, or this’ll look more like a kudzu vine than a proper Cherokee hairdo.

              WILLIS

Wouldn’t want that.  (He relaxes and leans back and kisses Veeta.  Taking a deep breath, he raises a small box up to her.) Full moon, you and this is making me kind of jumpy.

              VEETA

What a lovely little box, Willis.  Velvet.  Is it for me?

              WILLIS

Maybe.  Depends.

VEETA
A little costume for me to wear?  I already told you, no Sexy Nurse this Halloween!

WILLIS
Nope. Not this time. This isn’t make-believe.

VEETA
I have a feeling, babe, that this is as real as it gets.

WILLIS

Look inside for the true gift.

              VEETA

(She opens box, slips the ring onto her finger, and reaches down to capture Willis’ face in her hands.  Looking into his eyes…)
I have looked inside, Willis Deerhorn, and yes I will marry you.

              WILLIS

And I will marry you Miss Veeta Whitmire.  (A tender moment …)

             


Headlights again brush the porch                    and Willis jumps, nervous                            battle-ready.

              VEETA

Why Willis you are so jumpy.  Come on, fiancĂ©, let’s go downtown and see all the kids dressed up like the little heathens they really are…I have a van full of donuts to give out.  Then we can come back here and you can “guard” me. 

              WILLIS

I can assure you, Veeta, you will be guarded well tonight and by someone who knows how.  But I’ll meet you here later.  Got some official business.


              VEETA

Back on duty huh? You just bust all those egg throwin’, window soapin’, burnin’ bags of dog doo hellions and clap ‘em in irons, ok? Big bad doins’ tonight!  I am off to the festivities. Later, darlin’.


              WILLIS

Count on it.

              She goes and a van starting up and                eaving is heard.  Willis unsnaps                     his revolver and exits near                        Cecil’s tent.  Cecil’s tent                      lantern lights up.

Headlights spray across the front of the porch, and two car doors slam shut to the sounds of female laughter and male growling.  The female, dressed in a sequined sheath and heels and Mardi Gras feathered bird mask runs up the steps onto the porch with the male dressed like a werewolf in hot pursuit carrying a bottle, growling and howling and grabbing at her behind.

EARL
Aroooo!
GIANNA

(She dodges around the rocking chairs as he chases her) 
Don’t eat me you evil werewolf! Save me, somebody save me!  Where’s my silver bullet? 

EARL
(B-grade movie style) 

No one is here to hear your cries!  They’re all down at the Courthouse handing out candy to the little Halloweeners.  We have the place to ourselves… 

(He catches her and paws her all over, putting the bottle to her lips) 

Try this! Your fate will be more pleasurable to endure, my tasty little prey!  Aroooo!

GIANNA
(Laughing) 

Earl, stop now!  Stop!  You’re spilling whiskey all over my dress…

EARL

That ain’t all that’s gonna spill on that dress tonight.  Even though we got business together, I’m knew you’d sniff out my animal charms sooner or later.  How’s about a nibble?

GIANNA

You are a beast Earl. 

(Circling him)

That’s what intrigues me most about you.  How about a spa treatment while we’re here.  I may have to drip hot wax on you tonight and rip all that hair off certain sensitive areas…


EARL

Yeah, I knew you didn’t hate me all this time.  You just have a funny way of flirting! 

(He sits in a rocker and puts out his arms in invitation)

Where’s my sugar?  Gimme my sugar, Gianna. 

GIANNA

I’ve got your sugar, darling,’ but you gotta earn it.  Truth or dare, and if you win, here’s what you get

(She sits in his lap and nuzzles his ear telling him something that exponentially ratchets up his interest.)

EARL

You’re on, babe!  I don’t lose. And if you win you get the Tower of Terror here and… (He whispers in her ear, she laughs and coos)  Real estate is always the best investment!  Flip… Heads or tails?

GIANNA

Tails.  Of course.

EARL

It’s heads!  (Leering)  This won’t take long.  Truth or dare?

GIANNA
Dare
EARL

I dare you

((He thinks, drinks, thinks.)

…to gimme a sneak preview of those gorgeous Georgia peaches…


GIANNA
(Drawling and seductive) 

Well, I guess if I’m gonna win

(Gianna turns to face him and teasingly lowers her spaghetti straps giving Earl an enticing yet limited view of her “peaches.”)

 There’s your preview, honey.

EARL

That was not enough…I need to see it all!

GIANNA

Only if you win!  Your turn.  Truth or dare?

EARL
Truth.

GIANNA

I want to know something real personal about you, Earl, seein’ as how you and me have a deal about my share of that land you’re developing.  Just to clinch it, so I know you’ll do me right and not steal my investment, both financially….

(She licks her fingers and brushes her hands across her breasts and hips)

and in kind.  

EARL

Oh, I’ll do ya.  Let’s work out a little of that “in-kind sweat equity” now.  Just come over here

(He swipes at her as she slithers around him just out of reach)

GIANNA

Collateral, darlin’.  Something you’d never tell another soul…Something sexy and dangerous.

EARL

Bring it on. (He drinks)  I do both…

GIANNA

Truth now?  No lyin.’

EARL

I’m goin’ to win.  I always win.  So c’mon..

GIANNA

Ever killed a man?



EARL

(Suddenly deflated but defensive) 

Ah, geez, Gianna, buzz kill.

GIANNA

(Dismissively but putting her heeled foot on his chest so he gets a good, yet shadowy, view) 

I win.  You owe me 50 more acres of that sweet, sweet mountain view land.  I’ll be lookin’ for the deed…

EARL

Uh uh!  No way.  Alright.  Have I killed a man?  Yes.  Yes I have. Once. For sure. And I think I might have a second time…

GIANNA

God, that’s so hot.  Tell me about the first…time.

(She straddles him)



EARL

Details are not part of the game.

GIANNA

Oh yes they are.  Let’s just get a little detailed…

(She begins kissing on his cheek, neck.)

EARL

Ruled a suicide.  Long time ago. With his own shotgun…

GIANNA
Who?

              EARL

Old man Whitmire. No big deal. He was dyin’ of cancer anyway.  I just sped up the process.

GIANNA

Your own father-in-law.   Clearing the way to get The Property.  Damn!  I like to play with dangerous and devious men.

EARL
Good.  Time to play.

GIANNA

No. Patience.  Now for the win:  The second time you killed a man. Keep going…I‘m getting nice and ready…

EARL

(He’s in the throes of it…) 

Nothing ever came of it.  I was drunk. I shot one of those shit-heel tramps one night last spring.  I’d like to pick off the rest of them from that crap-hole camp they keep building on my land up near the tracks.

GIANNA

(Moaning) 

This is turnin’ me on Earl.  Keep goin’.





EARL
 
Caught him walkin’ down the road toward town, skinny little bastard.  I shot eight bolts with my crossbow.  Man the little shit could run!  Finally he was down and not breathin’ so I dragged him over near the camp and left him.  Figured his own’d bury him.  Guess they did.

GIANNA
(Breathing in his ear) 

How’d you know he was dead?

EARL

The blood.  The not breathin’.  Just like a buck when I go hunting.  All floppy and glassy eyed.

GIANNA

(Grasping his costume by the front and lifting him from the rocker in apparent lust.)

You are a bad, bad boy and I should punish you for this…What do you think your punishment should be?



EARL

Uh, the hot wax thing sounded kinda…   Wait, that’s not the game.  It’s my turn.  I get to ask you now.  Truth or dare?


GIANNA
Truth.

EARL

Have you ever killed a man?

GIANNA

No.  But I plan to.

EARL

That was quick…

GIANNA

Scare you Earl?  Or does it bring out the animal instinct in you?


EARL

We have a lot in common Gianna. 

(Earl loses patience and roughly wraps his arm around her neck, puts his hands all over her and begins hiking her skirt up, going for the inside of her thigh. In a menacing tone…)

Now, I win damn it, where’s my sugar?

(As Gianna struggles to push him away, Earl reaches garter height and discovers a wire.  Gianna jumps away from his embrace. Earl has a realization…)

Mizz Gianna, just what have you been up to? 

(He advances toward her) 

Is this a wire? How high tech and sneaky. I do believe you may have been recording our conversation for posterity and who know what else?  I want what I want and the tape too.  Just relax and enjoy, Gianna.






GIANNA

(Trying to buy some time…kicking off high heels, preparing for a scuffle.)

Now whyever would I want to do that Earl, baby?

EARL

(Earl lunges at her, she slips away)
This won’t take long

(Gianna and Earl struggle around the porch as Earl tries and fails to pin her down for forcible relations, and eventually traps her on the railing…)

GIANNA
Truth …or… dare?

EARL

Dare, you bitch!

GIANNA/John

I dare you to deal with this. 

(Gianna removes her wig and knees a stunned Earl in the crotch.  As Earl bends over in pain, Gianna, now John, delivers an upper cut to his face with the force of the man he really is.)

EARL

(Rising up from the ground Earl is staring at John with revulsion and disbelief at the man now standing over him.) 

What th’!?  Oh God, oh God, you kissed me!  You, you TOUCHED me. 

(Earl shivers and dry heaves) 

I told you things…Who the hell are you anyway?  Did Veeta put you up to this?  I’ll kill the bitch…

John

You’ll go through me first.  I am John Sullivan and I’m the glassy- eyed floppy buck you shot last spring.  You’re going down for it too…(John rips the wire from his leg and shows Earl.)

EARL

Y’think? Wrong.  Get ready to disappear again! 

(Earl, much larger and a dirty fighter, lunges forward and snags John by the dress. He rips it enough to dislodge John’s costume bust, which infuriates Earl all the more.   They fight in earnest and Earl although injured by John Sullivan, by sheer weight, momentum and panic wrestles John to the ground and begins beating him savagely trying to get the wire from his hand. 

Cecil who emerges from the shadows followed by Willis, pulls Earl off John, and hits him hard enough in the head to knock him down. Cecil stands for a moment until he knows Earl is out and drops to see about John.  Willis cuffs the unconscious Earl.  He then goes to John.)

WILLIS

I got it John.  I got his confession.  Good work, dude. Stay with me John.  Ambulance is coming.  C’mon kimo sabe, open your eyes.

Blackout




                          Act II
Scene 5

Do’s & Donuts.  Christmas.  The porch is covered in Christmas decorations including plastic snowmen and Santas.  In the yard, there is a shrine housing St. Sebastian, poinsettias at his pierced and bloody feet. The sound of many cars crunching gravel in the parking lot, doors slamming and laughter precede the entrance of Veeta in Native American wedding attire carried in by Police Chief Willis Deerhorn.  Mira follows in Matron of Honor threads chatting with Mrs. Galloway who is in a formal business suit. Cecil, in a tux, bounds up the porch steps to his spot at the picnic table, and John, dressed in a tux, with his publisher arrives with Mr. Armbruster…

MIRA

That was the most beautiful wedding.  I’m still choked up

MRS. GALLOWAY

Where’s the champagne?  I’m not getting’ any younger.

Mr. Armbruster

The pleasure would be entirely mine, Mizz Galloway. 
(He takes her by the arm to the champagne)

MRS. GALLOWAY

Ooooh!  Mr. Armbruster, you are quite the gentleman.

Mr. Armbruster

And you were a stellar attorney, Mizz Galloway. I am in awe of your illustrious career in law. I followed all of your precedent setting case work in Atlanta with admiration.  You should come out of retirement and practice with us.  Felix.  Call me Felix, madame.

MRS. GALLOWAY

Well then, Beatrice to you sir.

MR. ARMBRUSTER
In fact, Beatrice, may I inquire as to your plans this coming Saturday night?  There’s a lovely restaurant I have wanted to share with just the right person…
(She shivers in delight and walks away on Armbruster’s arm.)


John (To Mira)

There’s a couple with potential.  I just love a love story. 
MIRA
Well, hello!  Who’d of thought?  Be sure to include that in your next book! 

JOHN

Good thing those two got together and looked over your mother’s so-called business dealings with Earl.

MIRA

Yeah, Mr.Armbruster is good folk after all. And who’d known Mizz Galloway was so powerful a lawyer.  She never let on.   Thank God Earl missed that one little eentsy-weentsy detail that Mama had never signed her name in full her whole life.  Just that little kitty cipher.  It just looked like a tiny smiling cat to me.

John

Well, Earl forges signatures about as well as he shoots. And like I told you, I owed you.  You are a beautiful special woman and deserve Gregory Peck.  He’ll find you



MIRA

I’m sure hopin’ so.  I don’t need much, as long as he’s the polar opposite of what I formerly had with Dwayne Earl.  Ugh!

JOHN

It’ll be pure poetry, Ms. Mira.  You came from poetry you know? Your mama’s name is a prime example of that.  Firelight Whitmire.  Too bad those names don’t get given to children anymore.
MIRA

She sure passed on a couple of doozies along to Veeta and me though.

John

I’ll be up for a shiatsu massage someday at that fancy spa.  And some bread…

MIRA

We’d feed and care for you for your entire lifetime John.  A lifetime, I swear. 

(They hug and toast)


MR. Rothstein

Ms. McCall, John, just a little shop talk and I’ll stop…We need your manuscript by March.  I know that seems like a rush, but the publicity around this little adventure if yours is pushing the release date.

John

Right Barry, we’ll talk…Drink some champagne and slow down.  You’re in Mishap Gap now.  Life kind of creeps up on you here.

MR. Rothstein

Right.  Ok!  Here’s to your book! A best seller before the fact! 

(They clink glasses) 

Mrs. McCall, may I ask, where did you get these great primitive carvings? 

MIRA

Call me Mira, please. 



MR. Rothstein

Well, Mira it is.  A lovely name for a lovely lady. 

MIRA

Why thank you.  Who says New Yorkers are rude. Well, Cecil’s quite the whittler, Mr. Rothstein, um, Barry..

MR. Rothstein

Mira, we have a gallery in Tribeca.  You think Cecil would like to show his work?  You could come with him…

(They walk away chatting, Mira shoots a wink over her shoulder to John)

John

(He walks over and sits next to Cecil who smiles at him)

Cecil, I think you saved my life.  Thanks, brother. 

(Cecil shyly accepts a hand shake)


JOHN contd.
I had Deerhorn working with me but you knew all along too didn’t you? 

(Cecil nods humbly)
             
Thought so. St. Sebastian there was a nice touch.  A little too close for comfort, but effective.  I have a favor to ask.  Would you read my manuscript?  I need you to tell me everything about trampin’ I probably missed while I took my little detour here at Mishap Gap.  

Cecil

Not so sure I could help you with the part where you were, um, female.  Otherwise, I can do it. 

(The wedding party silences in astonishment upon hearing Cecil’s voice)

John

Great!  That’s great!  Thanks, man.

Cecil

Pleasure’s mine.



Veeta

Ok, I’m going to toss the bouquet now!   Mira, you, Mrs. Galloway and “Gianna” get on over there and fight each other for this bouquet! I want to see a real tussle for it! 

(John joins the ladies in good fun)

The bouquet is caught by Mrs. Galloway, who blushes and celebrates like an eighteen year old.

WILLIS

Well, I guess it’s my turn. Guys, Cecil, John, Mr. Rothstein, Felix? John you get to go again. Heh heh!  Y’ready?  Let’s do this Indian style

(Willis approaches Veeta, gently tosses her over his shoulder, removes her garter and tosses it to Felix. Willis lowers Veeta into his arms and kisses her. Everyone hoots and applauds.)

Veeta

(As she touches down when Willis lets her go.)  Alright now, simmer down.  We have a toast.   Mira, will you join me?  Here we go…For the fella who put everything to right giving us back our dignity and our land,

MIRA
For being man enough to be a real woman, and for putting Earl away for a very long time…

(They look at each other and nod)

Velveeta and Miracle Whip Whitmire…

(They link pinkies)

VEETA

According to the powers vested in us by Firelight Whitmire of Hangdog Holler, now declare that…

MIRA

Our own personal super hero and by all accounts a right pretty lady…

VEETA

John Sullivan will now be invited to complete the ingredients of a celebrated luncheon sandwich and forever be known as our own dear brother …



VEETA & MIRA

Wonder Bread.

John

I accept!

Everyone toasts, more corks pop, music flares and the story ends.