Pimp My Lent/Day 11
From Patty Lewis:
Altogether a rather peculiar family crest, incorporating images of a hammer, 3 purple roses and a strange metallic object he could neither recognize or define.
Another visit with the Yates-Sunday sisters and the play-in-progress Grace Rose Sunday. (See Day 5 for details, background.)
This scene might…or might not…be the third scene of the play.
Grace Rose the prodigal daughter arrived home last night after a 16-year absence. She wasn’t expected for another day, so nobody’s home when she arrives. Grace Rose climbs in through a window, and looks around. She comes out of the house and is surprised by Michael, a sheriff’s deputy and Lynn’s friend. Michael assumes Grace Rose is a burglar; she thinks he’s a rapist. She fights hard, but Michael finally gets her down and in handcuffs – just as Lynn and Mrs. Sunday arrive home.
The following morning…
In the dining room, old boxes – dusty from the attic – are on the table. Grace Rose and Lynn are at opposite ends, going through the stuff.
GRACE ROSE: I forgot how humid it gets here. (wipes her face, realizes she’s left a streak of dirt across her forehead) Great.
(Lynn pulls ashtray after ashtray out of a box)
LYNN: Look. The cancer collection. …Remember how they all used to smoke in here- after Grandmother was gone, of course. She would have died to know people were smoking in her house. The whole living room would be full of smoke.
GRACE ROSE: …What about this? (she holds up a small metal donkey) Do you want this – what is this? It looks like a toy – there’s a crank on the side – but the legs don’t move. Think it’s a toy?
LYNN: I dunno.
GRACE ROSE: Look. (holds up broken hand-mixer) God. If it doesn’t work, why keep it? Why keep any of this shit?
LYNN: (digging through box) Stretchy Day-Glo highball cozies, matching swizzle sticks – I remember this stuff. Mama’s cocktail party stuff from the, like, 1960s.
GRACE ROSE: See? Why keep it? When did they ever use it? They never had cocktail parties. They never had any parties.
LYNN: They had the props but not the friends. …Not like we ever had any friends either.
GRACE ROSE: We had friends. Well, I had friends. You had James T. Kirk. And Johnny Lancer. And Audra Barkley.
LYNN: Yeah, well, how many times did you have somebody sleep over? And how many times did you ever sleep over at somebody else’s house – and no, relatives don’t count. (a find) Oh my god! Look! It’s the washerwoman ashtray! Remember this? It’s so vile! See – she’s got her ol’ titty caught in the wringer and it says “Oh my aching back.” (laughs)
GRACE ROSE: That’s disgusting. And racist. Lynn – throw it in the trash box. Here, give it to me.
LYNN: Nuh-uh! This kinda stuff’s worth a ton of money.
GRACE ROSE: To whom?
LYNN: Whom-ever. People pay big money for this kind of stuff. It’s “vintage.” People collect this stuff all the time.
GRACE ROSE: Uh-huh, and how are you gonna find these people?
LYNN: Antique stores. Look it up in books – and there’s this thing, it’s called “the telephone book.” I’ll figure it out.
GRACE ROSE: Fine. Just keep it over there with your stuff.
(Lynn shoves the box to “her side” – which is already stacked with boxes)
GRACE ROSE: Sure hope your apartment’s on the ground floor. (pause, as they work) …So, where are you moving to anyway? (no answer) Lynn. You have a place to live, right?
LYNN: I do. It’s right here. It’s called a house.
GRACE ROSE: Lynn –
LYNN: Mama won’t sell this place. I don’t care how much stuff we get rid of, you wait, she’ll change her mind. She’ll never sell. Even if, even if she like suddenly had some…brain injury that made her forget everything – even then, the family’ll fight her. They’ll never let her sell.
GRACE ROSE: She owns it outright, she can do what she wants. Uncle Newt’s son signed off, Ebby signed off, everything belongs to Mom now.
LYNN: But what about Uncle Thad?
GRACE ROSE: Uncle Thad sold his share to Mama and Daddy back in 1980s, remember? When that high school girl got drunk and drowned in Lake Texoma, and her family sued Uncle Thad and he lost the party barge business? …Party barge business. God. How much more Okie can you get?
LYNN: …Well, Ebby and Thad never thought Mama would sell. You watch – they find out abuot this, they’ll fight her.
GRACE ROSE: Aunt Ebby already knows. And how’s Thad gonna fight her from McAlister State Pen? …Lynn. Please tell me that you have a place to go. Honey, what’s going to happen to you?
LYNN: I found a one-bedroom over by the college.
GRACE ROSE: Where?
LYNN: Over. By. The. College.
(Michael enters the backyard. He’s out of uniform, wearing his work clothes. He heads to the back door, carrying an armload of flat cardboard boxes, rolls of tape and a tape gun)
GRACE ROSE: …I really hope you’re not lying. (beat, to herself) I can’t wait to get out of here.
LYNN: (opens box) Hey. Old tools. Must be Grandad’s. (holds up a hammer with no head) Need a hammer? (finds the head) How about a little head? Maybe if you got a little head, you’d relax.
(Grace Rose pulls a dusty, badly crushed, faded artificial flower arrangement out of a box.)
GRACE ROSE: How about some fake flowers for your fake apartment? (reads inscription on vase) “1776-1976” — oh my god.
LYNN: It’s a keepsake. (as GR goes to throw it away) Grace Rose! It’s from the Bicentennial. It’s historical.
GRACE ROSE: It’s plastic, and it’s (reading bottom of vase) “Made in China.” (drops it in trash box) …Why did they keep all this shit?
LYNN: Why do you keep asking the same question. Over and over.
(Michael knocks as he enters the back porch, calling out)
MICHAEL: Yo! Sunday sisters!
GRACE ROSE: Oh, great. Deputy Dawg.
LYNN: (Calling) In the dining room…
(Lynn brushes off her clothes, checks her face and hair in a wall mirror. She looks at her sister, pleading Do I look okay?)
GRACE ROSE: You look fine.
LYNN: Shirt tucked or untucked?
GRACE ROSE: You look fine, Lynn. (As Michael enters. Pointedly) Just make sure you identify yourself immediately, otherwise he’s liable to slam you down on the floor and handcuff you.
MICHAEL: (to Lynn) Hey.
LYNN: (grinning) Hey.
MICHAEL: (to GR) How’s your shoulder? And your, uh (doesn’t want to say ass) leg?
GRACE ROSE: Shoulder’s fine. My “uh leg” has a big bruise. A gun-shaped bruise.
MICHAEL: I’m sorry.
GRACE ROSE: Uh-huh.
LYNN: (showing Michael the donkey) Hey, look what we found – what is this, do you know?
MICHAEL: Ha. Cigarette roller. The side opens up here, see, and you set rolling paper in it somehow, put in tobacco, close it up, crank it, and the rolled-up cigarette comes out the donkey’s ass.
GRACE ROSE: Classy.
LYNN: (to Michael) How do you know that?
MICHAEL: My dad had one. Got it over in Vietnam. Never could get it to work. But, he had a great time showing it to everybody. (to Grace Rose) I am sorry – about hurting you. I mean that.
GRACE ROSE: Okay, great, thanks.
LYNN: (to Michael) Look. (the broken hammer) Need a hammer? It’s heirloom.
MICHAEL: (to Grace Rose) You’re one of those people.
GRACE ROSE: Excuse me?
LYNN: People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. I heard that somewhere.
MICHAEL: (to GR) You don’t like cops.
GRACE ROSE: No. I don’t like being assaulted in my own home.
MICHAEL: Then remember your damn house key next time.
LYNN: Ha. Last time she was here, we didn’t lock the house. Nobody did. That’s how long it’s been.
(Grace Rose goes back to work, going through boxes, setting most stuff aside for trash)
MICHAEL (to Lynn) I saw your mom and Nila in town, told them I was headed out here after my shift to finish up lawn, and Nila asked me to bring these: more boxes, more tape.
LYNN: Fuck her.
MICHAEL: Now, now. She bought you a tape gun. (GR holds out her hand) Careful, it’s loaded.
(GR ignores him, returns to her work)
LYNN: Wanna help me?
MICHAEL: Uh, sure – what are we doing?
LYNN: Bringing down stuff in the attic, going through it, seeing what’s salvageable. There’s only a couple more thing up there, and they’re too heavy for Grace Rose. And as we know, I don’t do small dark spaces.
MICHAEL: Right. But you do rappel down Mt. Scott.
LYNN: Kiss my ass.
MICHAEL: So, where’s the – ?
LYNN: Access. In the hallway. Right here. Already down. (props open door to hallway. We see fold-down ladder) Here –
(Michael goes up attic ladder)
MICHAEL: (offstage) Where’s the light?
LYNN: There isn’t one.
MICHAEL: (offstage) They never put a light up here?
LYNN: It’s up there, but if you turn it on, it’ll fry you. House hasn’t been rewired since the late 1950s.
MICHAEL: (offstage) Grab the yellow flashlight outta my bag, would ya?
(Lynn hurries, gets the flashlight, goes back to the ladder. As much as she wants to be up there in the dark with Michael, she can’t make herself do it)
MICHAEL: (offstage) You find it? It’s in the side zipper –
LYNN: I got it. Be right there.
(Lynn looks at Grace Rose, defeated. She hands out the flashlight to Grace Rose, who gets to her feet, pissed at being interrupted. GR grabs the flashlight and climbs the ladder. We only see her legs)
GRACE ROSE (offstage) Here. (whistles) Hey! McCloud — flashlight.
MICHAEL (offstage, laughs) McCloud? Well, that’s better than Deputy Dawg. …Okay, here. Got it? If I hold this end, can you back down the ladder with it? Lynn – you down there?
LYNN: Right here. Ready.
MICHAEL: Great. It’s not that big, but it’s heavy – got it, Grace? Got hold of it? Go, I’ll hold it from here…
(Grace Rose backs down the ladder, holding onto the end of an old camelback trunk that’s been painted and decorated with flowered wallpaper)
MICHAEL: (offstage) It’s heavy, got it?
GRACE ROSE: We got it.
(Lynn and Grace Rose lower the trunk to the floor. Grace Rose recognizes the trunk, and walks into the kitchen. She turns the water on, lets it run over her dirty hands)
(Michael comes down the ladder, carrying a second, smaller trunk on his shoulder. Lynn’s looking down at the flowered trunk)
MICHAEL: What’s wrong?
LYNN: It belonged to Acie. Our aunt. It’s probably her books. And her handiwork. She was into crafts and making stuff. All sorts of stuff. Crochet, knitting, lace, all that blah-blah. Acie always had to have her hands busy with something. She was like that, kinda jittery, fluttery.
MICHAEL: Acie was –
LYNN: Mom’s best friend, and her sister-in-law. Acie was married to Joe, mom’s middle-brother. They both disappeared ten years ago.
LYNN: Yeah. They got on the H.E. Bailey Turnpike, headed 30 miles to Lawton, and… nobody knows. It’s still unsolved. …They found Acie’s wallet, and eventually Joe’s pickup turned up, but no real clues.
MICHAEL: Right, right. Oh man, sure – Yates, right, the last name? (Lynn nods) I remember now. Man. Sorry. That’s tough. (looking at GR) She okay?
LYNN: Grace Rose is “Little Grace Rose,” named after Acie. They all have nicknames, don’t try to figure it out. Dad named me after Loretta Lynn, gag, and Mom named her Grace Rose (pointing at GR) after Acie, her best friend.
MICHAEL: Don’t disparage Miss Loretta Lynn. I love Miss Loretta Lynn.
LYNN: (smiling) Whatever.
MICHAEL: What about this other trunk?
LYNN: Dunno. Maybe Joe’s stuff? I dunno. Never seen it before.
(She crouches down to unhook the latches)
LYNN: It’s not locked, but it’s rusty. We probably need the WD-40…. I think it’s in there in the buffet- See it? …Michael?
(She looks up. Michael’s in the kitchen, with Grace Rose)
MICHAEL: Hey. …You were close, huh? To them?
GRACE ROSE: Just Acie.
MICHAEL: Nothing weird with the uncle, I hope.
GRACE ROSE: No – oh god, no. Joe was like…Mr. Perfect.
MICHAEL: Well. Sorry to bring up sad memories.
GRACE ROSE: Or bring them down, in this case.
MICHAEL: God-damn. You made a joke that wasn’t at my expense. I’m touched. Right here. (hand on his heart) Thank you.
(Grace Rose laughs. Lynn has the second trunk open)
LYNN: …Whoa, look what I found! Oh my god!
(Grace Rose and Michael hurry into dining room)
GRACE ROSE: What? What’d you find?
(Lynn holds up two fragile Christmas ornaments made of construction paper – crude childhood “art.” )
LYNN: Christmas ornaments. From 1969. See? Inscribed: “to Acie from Little Grace Rose, Christmas 1969.”
GRACE ROSE: God, Lynn! Sounded like you found a body.
LYNN: Close enough. Check it out. Blood stains.
GRACE ROSE: That’s not blood.
LYNN: It’s blood, I’m telling you. Ask Mama.
GRACE ROSE: (to Michael) Well?
MICHAEL: Looks…like a…smear of something.
GRACE ROSE: Nice work, Columbo.
MICHAEL: I like McCloud better. It suits me.
LYNN: I’m telling you, it’s blood. Joe’s blood.
GRACE ROSE: Why would –
LYNN: She stabbed him. (before Grace Rose can protest) Acie stabbed Joe with a knitting needle. He wasn’t hurt that bad, but she stabbed him. Right here in the dining room.
GRACE ROSE: No way!
LYNN: Way! You were only three years old, but still – You can’t remember that night? It was, like, Southern Family Gothic 101.
GRACE ROSE: …Why would she – Acie would never stab anybody, especially not –
LYNN: She found out he was cheating on her.
GRACE ROSE: No way. NO. WAY. That never happened.
LYNN: Something happened. Of course, they all covered it up. Doc Waverly treated Joe at his office, and Acie went into the hospital “for a nice rest.” (rises) I’m going to call Mama. Tell her what we found.
(Lynn exits to kitchen. Grace Rose crouches by the trunk, shaking her head)
GR; Why, why, why, why, why, why, WHY did I come home?
MICHAEL: Come on. Let’s go for drive. Come on. You look like you need it.
GRACE ROSE: …Do I have to ride a police car?
MICHAEL: Nope, got my horse. Just kidding. Pickup.
GRACE ROSE: It’s not red, is it? Women in my family named Grace Rose disappear in red pickups.
MICHAEL: Shit brown with tan side panels. Couldn’t be older, uglier, or safer. Come on, take a breather. You look like you’re about to cave in on yourself. (he helps her to her feet. Calls to Lynn) Hey, uh, we’re heading to Sonic for a coke, bring you back anything?
LYNN: Wait! I’ll go with you! Just a sec. (on the phone) Mom. Mom. It’s Lynn. Guess what we found – We found Joe’s trunk, and guess what was in it – Wait, hold on a second – Mama, wait — (opens door to dining room) Hey, wait, I’ll go with you.
(Michael and Grace Rose are gone)
END OF SCENE