The Iron Mountain Review Vol. XXXII

Robert Gipe and Higher Ground Company 53

I could have used some social services. I had my son instead . . . Matthew. He stopped me from killing Allen. I will never forget the image of my child standing there with that gun in his hand. Never. He saved me, too. I pray for Matthew. We prayed together. It’s about Matthew, really. And the next generation and the generation after that. A friend says we have to look out ahead to four generations. I have the most amazing son. I got a divorce from Allen. I had married a man I loved, but when the drugs came in . . . . Nobody can stay married to that for very long. Allen didn’t make it. He’s another casualty of this flood. It’s hard on Matthew. Sometimes there is so much to be mad at, you don’t even know where to start. Lights down. Song: “Better You Find My Devil, Lord”

Scene Three: Joined Together Onstage are two men taped together with industrial strength tape. They can’t talk—their mouths are taped or gagged. They probably can and should grunt. They desperately want to be free. What they do manage to do in their taped together state is fall down and roll into the middle of what becomes a road. PICKLE: Well, they finally got you two, did they? The TAPED MEN do make some noises in response to what he says. PICKLE: I figured it was coming. You put a snake in a man’s lunch pail, that’s beyond what fellows want to tolerate. Nobody wants a live snake in the hole. TAPED MEN continue to make noise. One of them protests . More of this throughout. PICKLE: Yea, I know, it was a blacksnake, and it wasn’t gonna hurt anybody, but it didn’t look like a blacksnake to me slithering out of that bucket. Looked about like my worst nightmare. [ To the audience ] These two . . . they’ve been a problem. They went to different high schools, but this was seven, eight years ago, and they played on opposing football teams, and this one [ gestures to one of the men ] will tell you that this one [ gestures to the second of the men ] kneed him every time he got a chance in a place that ain’t supposed to be talked about. I don’t know whether it was true or not. But this fellow [ gestures to the first man ] won’t shut up about it. So this fellow [ gestures to the second man ] walked up and kneed him when he didn’t have any of that football gear on and ‘bout bent him double. And then, things started showing up in lunch pails. This one’s lunch covered with Tabasco. Little things looked like chocolate cookies made out of cow piles in this one’s bucket. A dead catfish. And this goes on. About the time you get to the dead fish, this ain’t very funny any more, and these guys aren’t just leaving it in the lunch pail. I mean, they’re doing things to one another. And it’d be one thing if it was only them at risk, but it ain’t. We’re all in it together. And then, there was the live blacksnake in the lunch bucket. And nobody wants to eat lunch with a snake. At the time, we didn’t know for sure it was a blacksnake. Looked like a copperhead to me, down there in the dark. So I ain’t surprised somebody taped ‘em. That there’s strong tape. You can do a lot, and nobody’ll get on you for it, and folks are rough on one another sometimes, but that was everybody with that snake loose down there. [ To the two men, as he starts moving them, rolling them to the side of the road ] I ain’t cutting you loose. They’d tape me up with you. That’s the rule: only them that tapes can set you free. Once two are joined together, let no man cut asunder.

Better you find my devil, Lord, Than take my pain away . . . Refrain Better you find my devil, Lord, Than take my pain away, Saw him sittin’ down the riverside, Lord, And he look fit to stay. Better you find my devil, Lord, Than take my pain away, Saw him walkin’ down the riverside, Lord, He come to take me away. Verse 1 I’m lookin’ out my window, Lord, And there he look at me, Said the river gonna rise and fall, boy, And the mountain won’t set you free. Come with me and we’ll walk, boy, ‘Cross the river to the top of the pines. Said the mountain and the valley may be yours, boy But in the end, all is mine. Verse 2 I was sleepin’ in my bed, Lord, And there did he appear, I saw something in his eyes, Lord, That put my heart in fear. I saw my mama and my sister, Lord, Under shade of a cloudy day. They were singing out about your glory, Lord, Just before the valley washed away. ***

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