The Iron Mountain Review Vol. XXXII

Robert Gipe and Higher Ground Company 61

Enter first JUNE, then JULIA, BETH, and JAMES, to separate stages, on either side of MAY. They all keep their distance, listen to MAY as she continues speaking. MAY: I just miss you, Momma. And I need you. I need you to not to be in the ground. I need you to be here, with me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what’s gonna happen to me. There ain’t no jobs. And even if there was, I don’t know how to do anything. I’m scared to drive. Scared to order at the drive-thru. I’m scared of everything, Momma. MAY puts her head on her knees, sobs. JULIA starts towards her. JUNE stops JULIA from going to MAY. MAY: When you first died, I didn’t think I’d make it. It’s like I was in a fog. But I survived. I lived to tell the tale. I lived to find some people worth trusting. And that’s the story I wish I could tell somebody. That hope isn’t stupid. Julia and Beth and them, they’re my light in the fog. JUNE starts towards MAY. BETH stops JUNE. MAY: And Momma, Mamaw is doing good. She really loves me. She gets on my nerves, but she’s doing good. I know she’s scared, scared that she messed up with you, scared she’s going to mess up with me. But she’s doing real good. You’d be proud of her. JUNE reacts . MAY [ Standing. ]: Listen, Momma. I got to go. But I wanted you to know I’m sorry I wished you dead. And that I forgive you for what you did to yourself. And that I’m going to be all right. [ Pause. ] All right, Momma. I’ll see you. MAY rises to go. When she turns, she sees JUNE. JUNE and MAY embrace. After a good hug. MAY embraces JULIA and BETH. Song: “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” by Billy Taylor and Rick Dallas (Richard Carroll Lamb), © 1964 & 1968, Duane Music, Inc. *** Scene Thirteen: Education Pays CARL: Use your head, not your back. That’s what I heard growing up. Use your head, not your back. Men in my family used their backs till they about didn’t have a back to use. My father hurt all the time. So they were proud of me when I got my master’s. But let me tell you about jobs. The education you get in school is not necessarily going to get you a job that pays. Not even a master’s. Not around here. Other day I saw my buddy who’d quit teaching to go back in the mines. Said he made 28,000 a year teaching. First

JAKE: She wasn’t chained. She’s real happy. Just ran off. We wanted to find her quick, make sure she was safe. JENNY: Have you seen her? BETTY: Lord knows I’ve seen many a dog up in this hollow. Lived here 57 year. This October. Lord willin’ and the earth shall last. You see that building? Put that tin roof on myself. It be 22, naw buddy, 24 year ago now. Me and My Boy Ben put that roof on ourselves. We was a workin’ away in the heat of the day. Hotter than Hades. Enter BEN. JAKE: Bet it was! Thanks! We’ll see you later . . . BETTY: Listen here, I turned to My Boy Ben, and I says, I says “Boy Ben. You hear that awful racket?” Well, he heared it. It was sommat inside that old barn. I said “Boy Ben. Sounds like the devil done took up residence.” He said— BOY BEN: Lord, it can’t be the devil. BETTY: And I said, “Why Boy Ben?” and he said— They never quite leave. BETTY follows and they give up and listen. BETTY: So we got down off of that roof and we climbed real cautious off the side of the hill and down around to the front of the barn. I got me a good stout limb. Big around as my arm. My Boy Ben got himself one and he hit the latch on the barn door and it swung on open and buddy we was ready for the hounds of hell. It warnt nothin but a big ole yaller dog caught up in the barn and cornered by that old rooster of hisn. They was quite displeased. Mind my words. Man and beast was made to roam free on these mountains just alike. Lights down, all exit. *** Scene Twelve: Momma’s Grave Lights up on MAY, alone, sitting on a bank above her mother’s grave. MAY: So for a while, I was scared. Scared I’d killed you. And then I was mad. Cause I knew it wasn’t me killed you. It was you killed you. BOY BEN: Cause it ain’t Sunday. JENNY: Oh! Hah! Funny. Bye bye.

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