ďSpirit of Whiskey LakeĒ
Scene: Old grocery store front with covered porch. Time: 1959.
DOBBINS: [Sitting on the grocery store porch, spies a stranger] Boy, itís mighty hot out there today.
MEADOWS: [Enter, stage left] Mighty hot.
DOBBINS: Why donít you comíon up chere and rest a spell?
MEADOWS: Now that sounds like a mighty good idea.
DOBBINS: Comíon up and grab you a seat, right over here.
MEADOWS: Ah, now that helps. I didnít realize how hot it could get around here.
DOBBINS: Yeap, weíre in the middle of a dogís day afternoon. Hasnít been this hot since ah, í42 or so.
MEADOWS: I thought Carolina was hot in the summer; but this beats everythiní Iíve seen.
DOBBINS: [Chuckle] Boy, youíre in the arm pit of the world when you pass through Whiskey Lake, Mississippi. If the heat donít get ya the mosquitoes will. Where you headed anyhow walkiní?
MEADOWS: I was out seeing the sights; you know gettiní acquainted with the place. Iím up here visitiní with my momaís folks.
DOBBINS: Yeah, well, thereís nothiní much to see. You got the hardware store at one end and what used to be the livery at the other and nothiní much in the middle Ďcept this can goods store.
MEADOWS: Iím findiní that out. I started out on the far end of Black Creek Road this morniní hoping to see somethiní or somebody and Iíve not seen much at all, maybe a house here or there and every now and then Iíd run into somebody, but other than that itís been mostly trees and empty lots.
DOBBINS: You came up the wrong way. There ainít nothiní between town and Black Creek Road Ďcept trees and empty lots. Now should you have walked over to Gallant Road then came into town, well, you would have seen the sights, met some folks.
MEADOWS: I did meet some folks, some colored folks, that appeared rather friendly, but I didnít see much more.
DOBBINS: Now, Whiskey Lake is a very friendly place to be; we ainít got much but we friendly. If you are looking for somethiní to do we got us a moviní picture show just off Mayport Road. Old man Brackett built it years ago and his son still runs it every Tuesday night and all day Saturday.
MEADOWS: I donít know if Iíll be here that long, seeing this is Wednesday and all, but Iíll give it a shot.
DOBBINS: Did I hear you say, you were up here visitiní your folks?
MEADOWS: Yes sir, Iím here visiting with my aunt, Ms. Etta May Simpson.
DOBBINS: You donít mean Ms. Etta May Simpson, the one with them two hard headed boys? Thatís your Aunt?
MEADOWS: Yeah, thatís the one.
DOBBINS: Then that would make you Ms. LeAnnís boy?
MEADOWS: Thatís right, Etta Mayís little sister. She left here and married my father who was a serviceman at the time in Biloxi, Mr. James Meadows and settled in Charlotte, North Carolina.
DOBBINS: You donít say. How is your mama been these days?
MEADOWS: Sheí doiní just fine. She wanted to come down herself and visit with her sister and all, but church business and taking care of my little sister kept her in Charlotte. I came down to see what the old home place looked like by myself. The last time I was here I was a little boy. By the way, my name is David; David Meadows.
DOBBINS: Well, glad to know you David. My nameís Dobbins. Most folks just refer to me as old man Dobbins, Ďcause Iím an old man. All my folks been dead and gone long time ago, so old man Dobbins does just as well. I faintly remember you cominí down with your daddy. I think he had a í49 Ford. If Iím not wrong that was a new í49 Ford.
MEADOWS: Thatís right. He still has it; says it was the best car he ever had.
DOBBINS: Yeah, I might be old, but Iíve got a good memory. Why, I can remember when there was nothiní out there but a foot path through the woods. Now look at it, you got roads and buildinís, and lectricity, and now even telephones. We got about everythiní now.
MEADOWS: Mr. Dobbins, you donít look so old.
DOBBINS: Now mind ya, I am the oldest living citizen in Whiskey Lake. But not the oldest alive. Now if you count Ms. Elaine Walker and Mr. James Books, they are older than me, but they came here after me. I first moved here with my uncle when I was still a little boy. See, Iím a Dobbins from the Natchez Dobbins. I came here with my uncle Ďcause he had no sons and my father had four. So he let me out to my uncle to be his son. That was before there was anything here Ďcept for a farm or two.
MEADOWS: Now that means you go way back.
DOBBINS: Iíve been here when your grandfather moved his family here and tired to farm a field down there in the hollow. Well, when that didnít work, he moved the family over by Black Creek and started running horses and cows. Not stealiní Ďem, but raising Ďem. Your mother and her kin grew up on that farm until they moved to where the home house is on Black Creek Road. I remember when your uncle Billy.
DOBBINS: Thatís right; they called him Billy for short. I remember when he died in the war. All your family is still here round about except for your mother and maybe one or two more.
MEADOWS: Thatís makes you older than the town itself.
DOBBINS: Yea, we were nothiní but a handful of farms about forty five years ago. Now we got a mayor and everythiní.
MEADOWS: Well, since you are the oldest citizen of Whiskey Lake, can you tell me how you came up with the name of Whiskey Lake?
DOBBINS: [Laughing] Now that is one good story. Ya see, we were originally called the Black Creek Community cause of the creek that runs by the town, but there was another group that lived up stream about fifteen miles that had the same name too and they became a town before we did; so for a while we didnít know what to call ourselves. Well, the revenuers used to be popular around here duriní that time and was about runniní down moon shiners. Now that was the Johnson Brothers, who used to run shine all over these hills. You donít know them cause most of them died before your people got here. Anyway, the Johnson boys were too smart for them cause they had a lookout posted next to the main road. Every time the revenuers would drive into the county the Johnson boys knew about it first. Well, they kept Ďem busy for a long while and the Johnson boys backed up on their shipments of shine. One night the brothers were preparing a big shipment to go out all over the state and they had their trucks lined up near the pond, you know just before you get into town. Now, this is where it gets good. The revenuers caught Ďem Ďcause they didnít use the main road, they walked into town using Black Creek. They walked nearly ten miles down stream to catch the Johnson Boys and their whiskey. Well, it was so much that the revenuers didnít have any where to put it so they poured it out into the pond which was quickly named Whiskey Lake. Ever since then, we were known as the whiskey lake community and when it came time to get a name then there was none better than Whiskey Lake.
MEADOWS: Wow, now thatís a story.
DOBBINS: Yeap, I remember that day, about everíbody in town went swimminí yeap, thatís how we got the name Whiskey Lake.
BUBBA: [Enters, stage right, walking with a large bag] Good afternoon Mr. Dobbins.
DOBBINS: Good afternoon to you too, Bubba. Now you donít stay out there in that sun, you could get a heat stoke.
BUBBA: [Stopping in front of the store] Yea, it is mighty hot, mighty hot these days.
DOBBINS: Well, you want to stop and sit a spell? Iíve got Ms. LeAnn Meadowís boy visitiní with me and we were about to get ourselves a cold drink.
BUBBA: Naw sir, I appreciate the offer, but Iíve got to get this over to Ms. Hightower. You know how she is; she will just worry me to death if I donít do what she wants me to do.
DOBBINS: Well, you tell Ms. Hightower for me that it too hot out here for anybody to be walkiní or workiní, she ought to ease up on ya for a while.
BUBBA: [Short Laugh] Well, Iíll tell her, but I donít think itíll do any good, sheíll still have me doiní thangs.
DOBBINS: Well, you just tell her for me.
BUBBA: [beginning to continue to walk off stage, stage left] And sheíll have a stick after the both of us. You take it easy Mr. Dobbins.
DOBBINS: You too Bubba.
REVEREND: [Enters, stage left, greeting Bubba] Good afternoon Mr. Hightower.
BUBBA: [Continuing off stage] Good afternoon, reverend.
REVEREND: Good afternoon, Mr. Dobbins.
DOBBINS: Good afternoon, reverend. Now I will tell you like I told Bubba, itís too hot out today to be walkiní.
REVEREND: [Stopping in front of the store] I know what you mean, but like they say the Lordís work is never done. I was on my way down to the hardware store to pick me up some paint to cover the inside of the parsonage. I thought I might get that in before the weekend comes.
DOBBINS: Yea, you got to dress the place up with your Misses expectiní and all.
REVEREND: Well, can I get you anything?
DOBBINS: Naw, Iím just find, I was sittiní here jawiní with David Meadows, you donít know him, but heís Ms. Etta Mayís nephew from Charlotte.
REVEREND: [Extending his hand] Nice to meet you. My name is Rev. Fred Washington, Iím the pastor of Black Creek Baptist Church just down the road.
MEADOWS: [Stunned to see the hand extended hesitates creating a pause, then uneasily shakes the reverendís hand]
REVEREND: Can I get you anything while Iím at the store?
MEADOWS: No. No I donít need anythiní.
REVEREND: [Exiting, stage right] Well, I best be off, If I want to get that finished sometime this week. I see ya later Mr. Dobbins. Nice meetiní you, David.
MEADOWS: Nice to meet you.
DOBBINS: Good man that reverend, but itís a down right sin what his Misses can down with a chicken; good cook.
MEADOWS: I must tell you that I am a bit surprised with the friendly relations that you have around here, I mean with the colors and all.
DOBBINS: What do you mean?
MEADOWS: I donít mean nothiní by it; but the whole south seems to be under attack by the colors calliní for votiní rights, equal rights and thangs - all except here. Everybody here is so friendly and all you would never think that you were in the South at all.
DOBBINS: Ainít that how itís suppose to be us respectiní one another?
MEADOWS: Yea, I guest so, but itís just strange to see. As a white man Iím just use to things being one way. Now I come down here where you read stories about Mississippi and you find all this, its just seems unnatural.
DOBBINS: Nothiní unnatural at all. Iíve been here to see both sides and this side I like. Able to talk with each other peaceable, visit with each other everí now and then, respectiní each other. Itís what the good book tells us to do. Iíve heard about what goiní on in Philadelphia, Biloxi, and Meridian and all over the country, and Iím glad we got no parts of it. Iíve been there when this wasnít so even here.
MEADOWS: How did you get like this?
DOBBINS: [Getting up] Now thatís a long story, you got the time?
MEADOWS: [Getting up] Iíve got nothiní better to do.
DOBBINS: Well, lets go get a cold drink out of Mr. Henryís ice box and Iíll tell you the mystery of Whiskey Lake. You see it all started late one afternoon when a stranger came to town.
PAUSE Ė Allowing Dobbins and Meadows to clear the stage.
STRANGER: [Enters stage right, hot and looking about, he migrates slowly over to the grocery front porch. Finding a cool spot out of the sun, he settles back relaxing on the porch floor]
TY: [Enters stage left, walking pass the store. Catching a glimpse of the STRANGER relaxing on the porch, he stops mid stage] Boy!, what you doiní up there?!
STRANGER: I got hot and needed a little rest.
TY: Boy, donít you know thatís Mrs. Porterfieldís property! You better get your butt out from up there!
STRANGER: I donít understand? I canít rest here?
TY: You got heat stroke boy! I said that was Mrs. Porterfieldís property!
STRANGER: Iím sure Mrs. Porterfield will understand if I explain it to her.
JAMES: [Enters stage left] What the hell you doiní? Ty didnít you tell him thatís Mrs. Porterfieldís front porch?
TY: I told the boy to get down.
JAMES: [Reaching up and dragging the STRANGER off the porch]
Boy, you want to start somethiní around here? Get out from up there!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Exiting from the grocery store] Whatís goiní on out chere?!
JAMES: Nothiní Mrs. Porterfield.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Then what you doiní out here?
TY: Nothiní Mrs. Porterfield, nothiní.
STRANGER: They were just telling me.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Interrupting] Boy, who are you?
STRANGER: Iím just a stranger in town.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Shocked by the STRANGERís directness]
James! Tell me who this boy is and why heís eyeballiní me?!
JAMES: Donít know Mam.
MR. PORTERFIELD: You Ty?
TY: Naw Mam.
STRANGER: I said, I am a stranger in town.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: You eyeballiní me, boy! You bet not be eyeballiní me, boy!
JAMES: I think he got heat stroke, Mum.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: He got somethiní you best get him out of here and teach him somethiní quick!
JAMES: [Pulling the STRANGER toward stage left] Yeah Mum! Come on boy, I told you that was Mrs. Porterfieldís property.
TY: Lets go boy!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Re-entering his store] You best get!
JAMES: [Tugging on the STRANGER until MRS. PORTERFIELD re-enters his store then letting him go harshly] Boy, whatís your problem?! You got a death wish or somethiní?!
TY: Mrs. Porterfield is one of the kind white folks we got around chere and you goes gets her mad!
STRANGER: Iím sorry, I just needed to rest from the heat of the day.
TY: Well, rest somewhere else!
STRANGER: I will.
JAMES: [Looking at him strangely] Boy? Where you from? You donít talk like no nigra around here?
STRANGER: I said I was a stranger.
JAMES: Naw, you just strange. Look at your talk, your walk, your clothes; the way you were eyeballiní Mrs. Porterfield.
STRANGER: Eyeballing? What do you mean by eyeballing?
TY: Boy, where are you from?
JAMES: Everybody around chere knows that nigras are not to look into the eyes of no white man; thatís eyeballiní; and you were eyeballiní Mrs. Porterfield.
TY: Who learned you your manners boy?
JAMES: White folk donít take kindly to you eyeballiní íem, makes Ďem feel nervous and you donít want to make no white man nervous around chere.
STRANGER: Now thatís curious. Are you not the same?
JAMES: You talkiní crazy now boy! Weís different canít you see that.
STRANGER: No, but I am beginning to understand.
TY: You best, if you want to survive around chere, you best.
STRANGER: Where, Iím from we donít worry about such little things as eyeballing or anything else like that, but I will consider what you have told me and try not to offend anyone else around here.
TY: You bet not, or theyíll find you hanginí like strange fruit from one of these trees around chere.
STRANGER: I wouldnít understand that at all nor do I fear them harming me.
JAMES: Boy, you need to gíon. You gonna start somethiní that we gonna suffer with. I bet you from the north come down chere with all that fancy talk and fancy words eyeballiní white folk and gettiní everybody upset; then you leave. We, thatís left chere, born chere have to suffer. Now Iím tired and done got too old to be runniní from every white boy I see cause you done stirred Ďem up, you need to gíon now before anythiní gets started you hear.
STRANGER: I was only passing through and just took a minute to rest. I didnít mean any harm.
TY: Well, well, then gíon.
MCDUFFEY: [Enters stage right] What you boys up to? Now James I know you been told before about holdiní meetinís especially right out here in the middle of the street.
JAMES: Naw boss, we ainít holdiní no meetiní I was just telliní this stranger directions.
MCDUFFEY: Then what you doiní Ty?
TY: Iís headed to Mr. Richardís place for some black smithiní.
MCDUFFEY: Then I suggest you get there.
TY: [Leaving, stage right] Yea Sir.
MCDUFFEY: What you doiní James?
JAMES: Iís just talkiní to this stranger.
MCDUFFEY: [Interrupting; looking over the STRANGER] Iím not talkiní about that, where were you headed?
JAMES: I was headiní home.
MCDUFFEY: Donít you think you best get there?
JAMES: Yea Sir, I was just.
MCDUFFEY: Then get.
JAMES: [Hesitates walking away] Yea Sir.
MCDUFFEY: [Eyeballing the STRANGER] Now, whatís your problem boy?
JAMES: [Calling back] I can help Sir.
MCDUFFEY: This is in the hands of the regulators now James, you best get on out of here.
JAMES: [Exiting stage right] Yea Sir!
MCDUFFEY: Now boy, whatís your problem?
STRANGER: I donít have a problem. I was just passing through town when I needed to stop and take a rest.
MCDUFFEY: Where you from boy?
STRANGER: Iím not from here.
MCDUFFEY: I didnít ask you that boy, I said where you from?
STRANGER: Would it really make that much of a difference if you knew where Iím from?
MCDUFFEY: You like to sass white folk donít you, boy?
GEORGE: [Enters stage left] What you got there, McDuffey?
MCDUFFEY: I got me one uppity nigger here. Wonít tell me where heís from.
GEORGE: [Walking center stage] Wonít will he? Well, I specks weíd have to education him a bit, bring back his memory and all.
MCDUFFEY: [Pushing the STRANGER toward GEORGE] You in the hands of the Wilmont County Regulators and we gonna education you on how you suppose to act around white folks, real respectful.
STRANGER: I donít understand?
MCDUFFEY: See what Iím takiní about, no respect at all.
GEORGE: Around chere boy youís says naw sir, yea sir and thangs like that when youís spoken to, but always youís say sir. Ainít your white folks every told you that?
STRANGER: No, Iíve never needed white people to teach me anything.
MCDUFFEY: Whoa we, have you ever heard of such a thang and look at him eyeballiní you George?
GEORGE: Boy get your eyes off of me.
MCDUFFEY: I can see we gonna have a good time with this one here.
GEORGE: Boy they never told you what a regulator was where you come from?
GEORGE: You mean naw sir. Well, Iím goiní teach you; we are part of the Wilmont County regulators and we regulate the customs and traditions of our county and state. We ensure all the laws of Mississippi concerning nigras like yourself are followed you understand your place and keep it.
STRANGER: Their place?
MCDUFFEY: Yea, your place!
GEORGE: Stop eyeballiní me, boy!
MCDUFFEY: [Circling around him] Look at him all blowed up and everythiní. Lets take him down to the horse sheds and get the rest of the regulators.
GEORGE: Captín Micheals told us to take care of business as we need to and we need to do this right now and before a witness. [Calling loudly] Mrs. Porterfield! Mrs. Porterfield, I need ya to come on out chere! McDuffey you grab him.
MCDUFFEY: [Grabs the STRANGER]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Exits out of her store] Now whatís goiní on out here?
GEORGE: Punches the STRANGER in the stomach then the face. Striking him in the face again he falls to the ground.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: George! What you doiní to that boy for?
MCDUFFEY: This here nigra wouldnít respect his uppers and we just teachiní him a lesson.
GEORGE: Mrs. Porterfield, I just wanted you to be a witness to what we have to do.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Well, why you got to do that around here? Normally, I just hear what ya do. I donít need to see it.
STRANGER: [Picks himself off the ground slowly]
GEORGE: Well, now you see it and you know why donít ya.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Boy, werenít you told to get just a wait ago?
MCDUFFEY: You had trouble with him already?
STRANGER: No, I just stopped by to rest a while.
GEORGE: [Striking the STRANGER again] Thatís sir didnít I tell you!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: No, he was just here a while ago and I ran him off.
STRANGER: [Picking himself up]
GEORGE: Now you see there is a good reason why they have us to enforce the codes of Wilmont County, donít you. If we werenít chere they would be runniní wild everíwhere, Mrs. Porterfield.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Well, do that somewhere else not around chere. And not in the middle of the street.
GEORGE: [Takes another swing, but misses]
STRANGER: [Grabs GEORGEíS arm and pushes him away]
MC DUFFEY: Fighting is flipped over the STRANGERíS back]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Yaíll take that down the street and away from chere, now!
GEORGE: [Grabs the STRANGER and is thrown to the ground].
STRANGER: [Defends himself quit easily]
MC DUFFEY: [Pulls a knife out on the STRANGER] George, I think we got us a live one I told you we should have taken him down to the horse sheds.
GEORGE: Go ahead gut him quick.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: You boys listen up take that on down the street! I donít want that up here!
MCDUFFEY: [Circling the STRANGER, lunges at him]
STRANGER: [Blocking the hand with the knife, slaps MCDUFFEY in the face twice knocking him to the ground]
GEORGE: [Leaps on the STRAGERíS back driving him to the ground]
MCDUFFEY: [Joins the fray by grabbing the stranger by the arms holding him securely, then stands up]
STRAGER: [Unable to break free, begins to squirm wildly in fear] What you doiní? I ainít done nothiní? What you holdiní me for? Help me somebody, help me!
GEORGE: [Punches the STRANGER in the stomach] You see, Mrs. Porterfield thatís how come we are necessary to keep this kind under control. Now we got to take him down to the horse sheds. Lets go McDuffey.
STRANGER: [Squirming wildly to be free] No, not me donít take me down there! Please somebody help! Mrs. Porterfield, donít let them do this, Mrs. Porterfield, please!
MCDUFFEY: [Struggling with the STRANGER as he screams drags him off stage, stage right]
GEORGE: [Assisting, exits stage right]
MR. PORTERFIELD: [Unhappily] Thereís nothiní I can do for you now, boy. I told you to get.
SOUND: Screams are heard off stage.
PAUSE: To allow for restaging.
SCENE: Old Grocery store front, GEORGE, RILEY, GOFER sitting on front porch laughing; next day.
GEORGE: [Laughing] Did you get a good look on that boyís face when Gofer put the leather to him.
RILEY: [Laughing] He looked so surprised hanginí there didnít he.
GEOGE: Gofer said dance and I liked to died when he started to twitch and wiggle.
GOFER: Now when I put the leather to the hide of anythiní itíll dance.
RILEY: And could he scream sounded like a little girl, Gofer, you are one artist.
GOFER: I think I was born with a bull rope in my hand been practiní with it since I was a child and can knock a flea off a mules ear with out it ever skippiní a step.
RILEY: What about last night? What did you try to do special?
GOFER: Well Riley, I tried to cut through that thick hide of his and shape me out one of them flowers down by the lake. Mind you, it takes some skill.
GEORGE: I know, but he kept danciní all over the place for you to really get a chance to finish.
RILEY: Maybe next time, weíll tie his feet down too. [Laughter from the bunch]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Exits out of her store] What you boys goiní on about?
GEORGE: Nothiní Mrs. Porterfield, just a little regulator business.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Well, if you ainít buyiní nothiní you just takiní up room on my front porch.
RILEY: Itís Saturday, Mr. Porterfield, we just restiní.
GOFER Besides, tainít harvest time Mrs. Porterfield, when the crops come in weíll be in a better buyiní mood.
RILEY: Till then we just restiní.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Till then you just watch how you crowd my front porch, I might have customers cominí through.
RILEY: Yes Um, Mrs. Porterfield
MR. PORTERFIELD: [Looking at her pocket watch] Damn that McDuffey? He was suppose to fix my meal cabinets by now and I ainít seen him. Where is he George?
GEORGE: I havenít seen him since last night, but Iím sure heíll be by sometime today.
MR. PORTERFIELD: Well, I sure hope so, I can get Ty to do it for a much cheaper price, but I know how he needs the work.
GEORGE: Just give him a chance Mrs. Porterfield, Iím sure heíll be here.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: He best. I am a patient woman, but I canít wait for ever.
SHERIFF: [Enter stage right walking up to the group on the porch] Morning Mrs. Porterfield. Morning all.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: What brings you up here this time of day Sheriff?
SHERIFF: Iím here investigatiní a murder. A body was found hanginí from an oak tree just outside of town on Sumpter Road.
GEORGE: Do tell.
SHERIFF: And I was thinkiní that you boys might just know somethiní about it.
RILEY: [With a smile] Who us, Sheriff?
SHERIFF: Yes, you Riley, and you Gofer, and you too George. But for the life of me I donít know why.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: You boys didnít kill that nigra boy yesterday did ya?
GOFER: That ainít no never mind. When was it ever again the law to horse wipe a nigra right here in the great state of Mississippi?
GEORGE: If we done it and I ainít sayiní that we did, but if we done it what is that to you Sheriff seeiní how you are part of the Wilmont protection and enforcement regulators?
RILEY: Have you talked to Captín about this?
SHERIFF: Captín Micheals was the first person I went to see after visitiní the crime scene and he told me to come and find you boys.
GEORGE: Why? Why would he send you to find us? You act like that was the first nigra ever found hanginí in these parts.
SHERIFF: We didnít find no nigra.
RILEY: [Shocked] What did you say?
GEORGE: [Jumping up] Then what you up here botheriní us for?
SHERIFF: That wasnít no nigra I found hanginí from an oak tree, it was McDuffey.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: McDuffey who would want to kill McDuffey?
GEORGE: Down by Sumpter Road?
SHERIFF: Yep, right at the turn in the road where they heap trash and burn it.
RILEY: And you didnít see no nigra down there?
SHERIFF: Nope, only McDuffey.
GOFER: Somethiní wrong, somethiní really wrong here. George.
GEORGE: [Interrupting] Be quiet now, Iíve got to have me some time to think.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: George? You killed McDuffey?
GEORGE: [Upset and shakened] NO! No. McDuffey was right with us all last night right up to me droppiní him off at his house.
SHERIFF: Then you were the last one to see him?
GEORGE: No! I mean yes, we all saw him, he was with us last night for I dropped him at home. And when I did, he was all right. Ainít that right Gofer?
GOFER: Thatís right. George dropped me off first then took McDuffey right on home, now thatís as far as I can tell.
GEORGE: What do you mean? As far as you can tell? I was with you and you were with me and we were all together last night, even McDuffey.
GOFER: All I know for sure was that you dropped me off and then took McDuffey on up the road I canít say nothiní more than that.
GEORGE: What you tryiní to say, I killed McDuffey!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Pulling the pair apart] I ainít haviní that up here so break it up.
SHERIFF: What was you boys up to down by Sumpter Road anyhow?
GOFER: Regulator business, like weís always do. George and McDuffey foundt them some uppity nigra yesterday and ask me along to watch.
GEORGE: Didnít nobody ask you along, you came all by yourself! Didnít he Riley?
RILEY: Iíd I didnít see anythiní last night.
GEORGE: Riley, what you tryiní to say?? You sayiní I kilt McDuffey too??
SHERIFF: George ainít no body sayiní you kilt McDuffey, what I am sayiní is it looks like you all may have had somethiní to do with it and because of that I goiní to have ta take you in for questioniní.
GEORGE: Tell him, Mrs. Porterfield !!
SHERIFF: [Pulling GEORGE from the porch and placing handcuffs on him]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: I donít know anythiní about it, but him and McDuffey did leave here with a boy late yesterday.
SHERIFF: I donít know of no nigra boy and Iím not concerned about one right now. Iím concerned about the badly beaten body of McDuffey. Now itís strange Gofer that you donít know nothiní about it, but he had bull whips marks all over his back. And you are the only one I know that can handle a bull rope.
GOFER: I ainít kilt no white man last night, I ainít kilt McDuffey!
SHERIFF: Ainít said you did yet. Iím takiní George down because he was the last to see McDuffey alive, but now should he prove not to have done it, Iíll be back to see you.
GEORGE: I ainít kilted McDuffey! I tell ya, I ainít kilted McDuffey!
SHERIFF & GEORGE: [Exit stage right]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Turning on RILEY and GOFER in anger] What did you boys do last night, and I donít want your lies, I want the truth!
RILEY: I ainít did nothiní, I was just there watchiní. It was George, Gofer and McDuffey that did everythiní.
GOFER: Now why would that scare you now Riley? You were as much a part of it as I was!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: I donít want to hear about your business, I want to know about McDuffey.
GOFER: I donít know nothiní about McDuffey. He was fine when I left them in the truck and I went on home.
RILEY: I drove home by myself and I donít know nothiní about anythiní.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Now that sounds like a sure bet.
BILLY RAY: [Enters stage right, running up to the porch] Hey! Mrs. Porterfield, Mrs. Porterfield did you hear the news?
MRS. PORTERFIELD: What is it Billy Ray?
BILLY RAY: [Trying to catch his breath] They foundt Mr. McDuffey down by Sumpter Road!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Yeah, we just heard a minute ago, the Sheriff was just here.
BILLY RAY: I got to see the body and everything, and ran all the way here to tell you.
RILEY: Well, youíre a little late.
BILLY RAY: Mrs. Porterfield, you should have seen it. Somebody shinned up the tall oak tree and hung Mrs. McDuffey out like a smoked ham. He had his hands tied behind and whip marks all over him.
GOFER: [Angered, but curious] Yeah, what else did you see?
BILLY RAY: And when they cut him down he had the weirdest thing on his back.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: What was it Billy Ray?
BILLY RAY: Mr. McDuffey had whip marks cut into him like a flower.
GOFER: [Frightened] No you did not! Tell the truth, you didnít see that did ya?!! [Jumping off the porch] Tell the truth! You didnít see no flower on his back did ya?!!
BILLY RAY: [Frightened] Mrs. Porterfield honest, I did!
MR. PORTERFIELD: What you gonna do Gofer kill him too?!! Let him go!
GOFER: I ainít kilt no McDuffey! And I ainít bull whipped no white man either!
RILEY: But Gofer, that sure sounds like
GOFER: [Interrupting] Sounds like nothiní, heís lyiní.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: You best gíon home Billy Ray. I appreciate what you told me, but gíon home now, ya hear.
BILLY RAY: [Backing away from GOFER, then exiting stage right]
Yea Um, Mrs. Porterfield.
GOFER: [Hollering at BILLY RAY] YEAH! You gíon home ya little liar!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Leave him alone, Gofer, he ainít done nothiní. Heí just telliní what heí seen.
GOFER: Heís seen nothiní. By his account, it was McDuffey that we horse whipped last night, and I tell ya it was it wasnít. I know the difference between a white man and a nigra and I know what I saw wasnít McDuffey.
RILEY: Gofer, Gofer!?
GOFER: [Pulling away from RILEY] Get off me Riley.
RILEY: [Pointing off stage right, forcing GOFER to look] Look Gofer look!
GOFER: [Looking stage right in shocked amazement]
STRANGER: [Enters, stage right slowly; stopping]
GOFER & RILEY: Begins to slowly climb back up on the porch frightened out of their wits]
STRANGER: [Slowly approaches mid stage]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Boy, you stop right there.
STRANGER: [Stops mid stage]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Now, what is it that you want?
STRANGER: Nothing, I am merely passing through.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Then what do you want here?
STRANGER: Nothing, nothing at all.
RILEY: Then why donít you just get? Get on out of here.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Yeah boy, you need to get.
GOFER: Hell no! He kilt McDuffey.
RILEY: But last night!
GOFER: [Interrupting] Last night didnít happen, donít you see! He kilt McDuffey. [Jumping off the porch and slowly approaching the STRANGER.] You kilt McDuffey didnít you boy?
STRANGER: I killed no one.
GOFER: Yeah you did. You kilt yourself a white man last night didnít you?
STRANGER: I killed no one.
GOFER: Yeah, you did.
RILEY: What you mean to do Gofer?
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Donít start this again. You know what happened yesterday.
GOFER: Yes, we do know what happened yesterday. This nigger kilt McDuffey and blamed it on George and me.
RILEY: But how did he do that Gofer?
GOFER: Riley donít ask me questions. Just come on and help me!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Boy didnít I tell you to get!? Get out of here!
STRANGER: [Tries to move stage right but is blocked]
GOFER: What you tryiní to do Mrs. Porterfield, let this killer go?
MRS. PORTERFIELD: What Iím trying to do is stop another killiní.
GOFER: This ainít no killiní this is pay back. Ainít no nigger gonna kill no white man and get away with it. Ainít that right, Riley!
RILEY: You right Gofer. What you want me to do?
GOFER: I want you ta get him when I say so.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Riley, I thought you didnít have anythiní to do with this?
RILEY: Iím a real regulator now ainít I Gofer?
GOFER: Yeah, a real one for sure.
RILEY: You want me to get him now Gofer?
GOFER: Yeah. Get him now!
RILEY and GOFER [tackle the STRANGER]
GOFER: [Holding the STRANGERíS arms] Grab his feet! Get his feet before he breaks free!
STRANGER: [Squirms to break free]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Gofer! Riley! Let that boy go!
STRANGER: Gofer! What you doiní?! Mrs. Porterfield, Mrs. Porterfield! Help me!
GOFER: [Pulling the STRANGER off stage] Help me take him to the truck, Riley! I know what we gonna do with him.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Gofer, donít do this again! Let the boy go! If you donít let him go, Iíll call the Sheriff! I swear I will!
GOFER: Donít mind her, Riley; just keep your eyes on me. This away.
MR. PORTERFIELD: [Bounds back into his store angered and upset]
SOUND: Screams are heard off stage. Then three (3) rapid shots.
GOFER: [Enters stage right with gun in hand; hurries to the porch never looking behind him] Letís go Riley! Letís go!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: [Exits from her store, visible upset at GOFER]
Gofer, you best get out of here. Iíve sent for the sheriff.
GOFER: [Catching his breath while taking a seat on the porch] Now why the hell would you want to go and do that?
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Because you have gone crazy and wonít listen to anyone; goiní around killiní anythiní and everíbody.
GOFER: You knew all along what the regulators were all about and you sat here and said nothiní now when Iím out protectiní your welfare, you turn on me!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: My welfare? You ainít done nothiní for me.
JAMES: [Enters, stage left]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: I ainít never supported you in what ever you were doiní.
GOFER: But you stood by and let it all happen.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: That donít mean I liked it. That donít mean I supported it. Iím a widow with nothing but this store in this god forsaken state and if I had half I mind I would have left long time ago. Well, were is he?
MRS. PORTERFIELD: No, the colored boy you and Riley left with?
GOFER: [Placing his gun back into his belt] Him? We left him on down by the lake.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: James, gíon down there and see if you can help him. If you have too briní him on back up here.
JAMES: [Hurries off stage, left] Yea Um.
GOFER: [Standing up quickly] Thatís right, send you boy on down there to fetch him back. [TO JAMES] Youíll find him on the east side of the lake near a fallen tree stump with three bullets in his head!
MR. PORTERFIELD: What did you say?
GOFER: [Dropping back into his seat] I shot him, what did you expect. He kilt a white man and I kilt him.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Damn you Gofer! You are surely on you way to hell for all you have done.
GOFER: I donít understand why you are so upset. Tell me what happened between yesterday and today? Huh? Yesterday it was all right if I had kilt him, but today itís not? So long as its done in the dark thatís okay, but to see it in the daylight does that make the difference? Iím no more headed to hell than you are. I am just as much a Christian as you are, all bound for glory.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Then God forgive us all.
SHERIFF & CAPTíN MICHEALS: [Enter stage right]
MR. PORTERFIELD: Glad you got here. I want you to get this trash off my front porch!
SHERIFF: Whatís the problem, Mrs. Porterfield?
MR. PORTERFIELD: Gofer here just admitted to takiní a nigra boy down to the lake and killiní him.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: [Climbing up on the porch] Is that true Gofer?
GOFER: [Standing uneasy] Sure itís true, that was the same nigra that kilt McDuffey.
SHERIFF: Are you sure Gofer?
GOFER: [Getting down from the porch] Sure, I sure.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Who gave you the order to kill this colored boy?
GOFER: [Uncomfortable] Who needs orders. I was just doiní my duty as a regulator.
SHERIFF: Or were you just protectiní yourself, Gofer?
GOFER: Protectiní myself from what? I ainít done nothiní wrong.
SHERIFF: From the murder of McDuffey last night.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: The Sheriff here feels that you, George, and Riley killed McDuffey last night and blamed it on a nigra boy. Is that true Gofer?
GOFER: [Growing nervous] Naw Sir, itís not true! Me, and George, and Riley, see we horsed whipped a uppity nigger boy last night.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: The same one you took down to the lake?
GOFER: Yess, I mean no sir. See we thought we kilt him last night.
SHERIFF: Let me have your gun Gofer.
GOFER: You see, we kilt him last night but he didnít die.
SHERIFF: [Walking closer] I just need your gun Gofer.
GOFER: But you donít understand.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: We understand Gofer. Just give him your gun.
GOFER: [Backing up] No Sir, you donít understand. I ainít kilt no McDuffey and I ainít horse whipped no white man.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: We believe ya Gofer. Just give the sheriff your gun.
GOFER: [Pulling the gun from his belt] Captín, I ainít done nothiní wrong.
SHERIFF: [With one out stretched hand and the other on his gun, he approaches the retreating GOFER] The gun Gofer, the gun.
JAMES: [Calling from off stage, then running on stage, right; right pass GOFER] Mrs. Porterfield! Mrs. Porterfield! You gotta come quick!
SHERIFF: [Approaches GOFER in the confusion disarming him]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: What is it James?
JAMES: Down by the lake, the lake.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: What is it James?
JAMES: I saw
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Did you see the colored boy? Huh?
JAMES: Naw Mamr, . . .I saw Mr. Riley!
CAPTíN MICHEALS: What was he doiní?
JAMES: Taíwerenít doiní nothiní cause heís dead!
MRS. PORTERFIELD: How James?
JAMES: [Pointing at GOFER] Like he said, shot in the head three times.
SHERIFF: [Grabbing GOFER and putting on hand cuffs] Turn around Gofer. Youíre under arrest for murder.
GOFER: [Beginning to howl] I tell ya, it was the nigra boy I shot! I swear I did!
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Yeah Gofer, we believe ya.
SHERIFF: Well, you wonít have to worry about that anymore.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Gofer, what in hell were you and George doiní? Did you actually think that you could kill two men and get away with it? Huh?
GOFER: [Sobbing wildly] I tell ya the truth Captín I ainít kilt no white man! I ainít kilt no McDuffey, and I didnít kilt no Riley! But I tell ya
CAPTíN MICHEALS: [Interrupting] Then tell me who did. and donít hand me no story about a nigra boy, just tell me it was an accident or somethiní. You didnít mean for it to happen. Maybe, George lost control we all know how he loves to drink, but just stop telliní lies!
GOFER: [No answer, but sobs even greater as if his head was about to explode]
CAPTíN MICHEALS: [Discussed, he turns and talks with the Sheriff]
I donít know what has happened, both he and George were good people, Why they would turn on one another is a mystery to me.
SHERIFF: Well, somethiní happened. McDuffeyís dead and now Riley. Somethiní had to set them off. Can you watch Gofer here while I go down and see what I can find out with Riley?
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Sure, but leave his gun with me for my protection.
SHERIFF: [Handing the gun to CAPTíN MICHEALS] Donít shot him unless you have to. Iíll call in and get some back up to take him off your hands as soon as possible, maybe fifteen to twenty minutes. [To JAMES] James catch your breath, but I need you to take me down by the lake to view the body, yea hear? [To MRS. PORTERFIELD] Mrs. Porterfield, I gonna need you to contact Doc. Gibbs for me and get him down here just as soon as possible. Donít let him put you off none, heís the closest thing we got to a coroner. Tell him I need him down at the lake to verify a killiní. [To JAMES] Letís go James.
JAMES: [Still trying to catch his breath] Yeah Sir.
STRANGER: [Enters, stage right slowly]
GOFER: THATíS HIM! THATíS HIM!!
STRANGER: [Slowly approaches the SHERIFF and JAMES]
SHERIFF: Boy. Hold it right there.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Sheriff, thatís the one I saw George and McDuffey, and the same one I saw Gofer and Riley with just a little while ago.
GOFER: Thatís him I tell ya! Thatís him! Heís the one that kilt McDuffey and had it blamed on George and me. And thatís the same one that musta kilt Riley!
SHERIFF: Boy who are you?
STRANGER: I am a stranger.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: What do you want?
STRANGER: Nothing, nothing at all. I was just passing through.
GOFER: You canít let him go! He kilt McDuffey!
SHERIFF: [Pulling his weapon] Put your hands up
STRANGER: Why? What have I done?
SHERIFF: Youíre wanted in connection with the murder of a man in our town called McDuffey?
STRANGER: I didnít kill him.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Then tell us who did?!
STRANGER: It is not so much as who as to what.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Then you know how these men died.
SHERIFF: How do you know, if you didnít have anything to do with it?
STRANGER: I was there.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: What do you mean you were there?
STRANGER: I was there and I witnessed it all.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Then you saw who kilt them.
STRANGER: I saw what killed them. Who is just a reflection of what, and what is always the root cause that leads to who.
SHERIFF: Then tell us what kilt these men?
STRANGER: Hate. Hate killed these men. Along with ignorance, it consumed them until there was nothing left.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Hate?
STRANGER: Yes, Hate for their fellowman. Hate out of ignorance, pride, and jealousy. Hate for an unjust cause. Simply hate.
GOFER: You kilt them!
STRANGER: No, hate killed them.
SHERIFF: You gonna come with me boy.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Donít touch him Sheriff. There is something strange about him. If I were you Iíd let him go.
SHERIFF: Well, you ainít me. Let go son.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Tell me first about McDuffey and Riley. I want to know how they were killed.
STRANGER: As I said hate. I am a stranger. But I can be anything that fills your heart.
GOFER: I can be envy.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: I can be jelousy.
JAMES: I can be love and joy.
SHERIFF: I can also be happiness, peace and beauty.
GOFER: But I can also be hate.
STRANGER: When they looked upon me, they saw what they wanted to see. And what they wanted to see most was hate. That hate was reflected in their eyes and they saw what they wanted to see.
JAMES: George and Gofer saw in McDuffey hate.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Gofer saw hate in Riley.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Now, what do you see in me?
SHERIFF: What are you?
GOFER: A wandering spirit. That moves from person to person.
STRANGER: I can be anyone, at any time, for any reason.
JAMES: I could be a friend, a foe,
MRS. PORTERFIELD: A relative, girlfriend, or wife.
STRANGER: But I am mostly what you want me to be. I am your reflection on mankind. Now, what do you see in me?
GOFER: Git Ďem Sheriff! Git Ďem and kill Ďem!
SHERIFF: Shout up boy, you donít know what you are dealing with.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: What do you want here?
MRS. PORTERFIELD: When will you be leaving?
STRANGER: Today. Tomorrow. Next week, or the week after. Or maybe Iíll stay. [Exit stage]
CAPTíN MICHEALS: There is nothing we can do.
MRS. PORTERFIELD: Yes, there is. You can stop hating one another, killiní each other, because all you do is end up killiní yourself; like McDuffey and Riley. They are dead because hate. Donít you see.
SHERIFF: Right now, I donít understand any of this. And since I canít arrest him then itís you Gofer. You are still under arrest for the murder of Tom Riley and Iíve got the gun and your confession to prove it. Lets go.
CAPTíN MICHEALS: What are you going to do about him?
SHERIFF: Him who? Do you see him anybody? Anywhere? I donít and I canít arrest ghosts. [Exit stage]
CAPTíN MICHEALS: Mrs. Poterfield, good day. [Exit stage]
MRS. PORTERFIELD: My god? Excuse me Lord. [Exit into store]
DOBBINS: [Exiting the store with MEADOWS cold drinks in hand] Since that day, we have been the friendliest community around. You never know when that spirit might show up again, or if it ever left. Folks around here scared to hate; especially white folk.
MEADOWS: Youíve got to be kiddiní.
DOBBINS: No that the spirit of Whiskey Lake. Itís what you want it to be. If you are lookiní for anything here you will find it. Grab you a sit and sit a spell, and let me tell you about the time I caught three fish on one hook.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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