The Iron Mountain Review Vol. XXXII

Robert Gipe and Higher Ground Company 57

JULIA: Where you going? BETH: I’ll come back after while.

the Rosenwald School, except they held it in Los Angeles. Both times, I walked in and I felt like I was in Harlan. It was like the people had carried the place with them. Place won’t never die, not as long as people remember. BETH: But it ain’t the same. LIMEHOUSE pauses. He can’t quite think what to say. LIMEHOUSE: You know that joke about the man that went to heaven? BETH: Do what? LIMEHOUSE: St. Peter was showing him around and it was all real nice and there were a bunch of people playing tennis— BETH [ anger rising ]: Limehouse, I don’t want to hear that joke again. I’m tired of riddles and jokes and sweeping stuff under the rug. I’m tired of blah blah blah and people getting lockjaw when I want to know about something like unions, or civil rights, or women’s rights. I’m tired of being shushed for talking about the land. I’m not a tree hugger, Limehouse. I’m mountain. Mountain as mountain can be. And I’m tired of people pushing me out the door, trying to get me to leave. I don’t want to be up in the sky like a star. I want to be here. On the ground. I want to be mixed up in things. I want to be— LIMEHOUSE: Talking dirt. BETH [ looks at him like she’s seeing him for the first time ]: That’s right. LIMEHOUSE: Well. You better find somebody to get your back. Lights fade. *** Scene Eight: The Hard Part JAMES: You know people will tell you stories all night long. But if you want to talk about something hard, it’s like their tongues been cut out. [ Sits down in his car. ] The night my dad died, him and Mom had been fighting. Mom wanted to go back to Michigan, where she came from. Dad thought if she had a nicer life here, she wouldn’t want to go. But she left anyway. Dad took it hard. He’d go off by himself. Most times he’d go up to Twelve O’Clock Overlook and sit talking to himself. It made me sad, but after he had been going to the overlook for a while, he started doing better, and I thought

BETH leaves . DELANEY, who is sitting between the GOSSIPS leans forward and gives the GOSSIPS a y’all-are-ridiculous look . Lights down. *** Scene Seven: Things That Matter LIMEHOUSE sitting on his porch. BETH comes by. LIMEHOUSE: Little niecey, four o’clock in the morning ain’t no time to be out walking. You up early or late? BETH: Late. LIMEHOUSE: Well. Come up here and tell me a story. BETH sits down on the glider. There is a silence. BETH: Limehouse, why do you stay here? LIMEHOUSE pauses, considers. LIMEHOUSE: Waiting for Get-Gone to pay me the hundred dollars he owes me. BETH: Tell me for real, Limehouse. Why are you still here? Again , LIMEHOUSE pauses to consider. LIMEHOUSE: I reckon I’ve been ready to leave out of a here twenty times. And every time I get ready to go, seems like something comes up and I end up staying. One time I was all packed and Carlton’s brother passed. Me and him went to school together, and I stayed for the funeral. Another time your cousin Petey had that accident, lost his leg, and I stayed with him for a couple weeks. BETH: Limehouse, I don’t want James to sell his land. LIMEHOUSE: People been bailing out of here a long time. BETH: This place is dying. LIMEHOUSE: You telling me? I’m the undertaker. BETH smiles. They sit and rock a minute. LIMEHOUSE: You know last summer, I went to one of these East Kentucky Social Club gatherings in Chicago. Then I went to a high school grand reunion they had for

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