Slaves – Episode 102
White slave James Cooper and black slave Michael Booker are plotting to escape their Mississippi plantation in order to reunite Michael with his eleven-year-old daughter Mae in Philadelphia..
Episode 102 – The Cow Thief
(Michael Booker and James Cooper are on their third day locked in the “hot box”..)
Cooper: (mopping his brow) Whew, sure is hot in here!
Booker: (nods weakly)
Cooper: How long do you think it’s been, Michael? A month? Think they’ll remember our names?
Booker: Man, it’s been three days. Why don’t you chill out over there?
(The door to the hot box opens and Overseer Tafford motions them outside. Michael and James emerge onto a hot muggy cotton field, where Darla Dukesbury is standing, glaring at them..)
Mrs. Dukesbury: Well, I hope you two learned your lesson.
Booker: Oh, yes ma’am. It won’t ever happen again.
Cooper: I’m gonna be completely honest with ya, Mrs. D. I do not remember why you put us in there.
(Michael elbows James hard in the side..)
Mrs. Dukesbury: You attempted to poison me and my family with bundt cake.
Cooper: Ohhh, yeah.
Mrs. Dukesbury: (raising her nose) Your plan failed, of course. Figures a couple of lowly slaves could bungle up something as simple as killing off an entire family.
Cooper: (glances sideways at Michael) Yeah, we really screwed the pooch on that one.
Mrs. Dukesbury: Because of you, Henry Jr.’s afraid of cake now!
Tafford: (nodding) Hmm, cakeaphobia. I’ve heard of that.
Cooper: Good! Maybe he’ll lose a few pounds!
Mrs. Dukesbury: (glares at James, turns to Michael) Booker. It seems somebody has been stealing our cows. I was hoping you could root around and see if any of the other slaves have been committing bovine thievery. Maybe they’ve been sacrificing them to their pagan gods in some sort of ritual sacrifice.
Tafford: Mrs. Dukesbury, I could handle that. I am the Overseer, after all.
Cooper: (turns away muttering) Overpee-er.
Tafford: (thrusts a finger in James’ face) You shut your mouth, Cooper!
Mrs. Dukesbury: I would prefer Booker handle the investigation. The other slaves seem to trust him. And besides, he is indebted to us for letting his daughter live in freedom up north. Isn’t that right, Booker?
Booker: Yes, ma’am. And I thank you and Mr. Dukesbury every day for that kindness. I’ll find out who stole those cows.
Mrs. Dukesbury: Very good. Now be good slaves and get back to work, won’t you? That cotton isn’t going to pick itself.
Cooper: Yeah, but what if it could though?
Mrs. Dukesbury: (glares back at James annoyedly) Tafford, be a dear and whip Cooper a few times will you?
Tafford: (approaching James with a wide grin) With pleasure, ma’am.
(Michael and James are bent over in the cotton fields that afternoon, hands covered in tar..)
Cooper: You really gonna rat somebody out over those stolen cows, Mike?
Booker: Don’t see I got much choice, Jim. The missus herself axe me to investigate.
Cooper: Why don’t we just blame it on a rival plantation? Like a slave prank.
Booker: On the other hand, this does give us an excuse to get out this field for a bit. Why don’t we head over to the cow pasture and do a little investigative work?
Cooper: Okay, but I better not step in poop. (immediately steps in poop)
(James drags his boot along the grass as they make their way toward the pasture..)
Cooper: That better have been cow manure.
Booker: (chuckling) Don’t know a lot of cows that wander out into the cotton fields.
Cooper: Aw man, I stepped in slave poop?
Cooper: So how are you comin’ on this whole plantation escape plan?
Booker: I’ve been puttin’ some feelers out. Been hearin’ word about this “underground railroad”.
Cooper: (eyes light up) Oh, cool! Like a train going through tunnels and stuff? (frowns) Seems like people would hear it down there though.
Booker: It ain’t an actual train, dummy. (waves at an old black man leaning on the pasture fence) Otis! How you doin’?
Otis: I’d be doin’ better if we could get those cows back. Mrs. Dukesbury just ’bout tanned my hide when she found out.
Cooper: Any idea who took ’em?
Otis: Fool, I know who took ’em. Was that butcher, Gondolini! He take ’em and chop ’em up. But Mrs. Dukesbury don’t believe me! She love Gondolini.
Cooper: (eyes narrow) I knew the Italians were behind this.
Booker: You don’t know nothin’. I guess we’re just gonna have to pay Mr. Gondolini a little visit.
Cooper: Ooh, Otis. Can we ride a cow into town?
Gondolini: You callin’-a Mr. Gondolini a thief?
(James and Michael are in town, at Gondolini’s Meats on Main Street, questioning the Italian butcher on the missing cows..)
Booker: My good friend, Otis, says he saw you and your thug nephews last night stealin’ three cows. And look at all the beef you happen to be sellin’ today.
Gondolini: This beef shipped in a-fresh from a-Bologna.
Cooper: Oh, you’re a baloney! You stole those cows and you know it. Now ‘fess up, Gondolini!
Gondolini: Maybe another butcher take-a your cow.
Booker: You the only butcher in town!
Gondolini: Exactly! You lock me up, who sell-a the meat?
Booker: Let’s go, James.
Cooper: (points at the butcher as they exit his shop) This ain’t over, Gondolini!
(That evening Michael, James and Otis are perched in a willow tree on the outskirts of the pasture..)
Cooper: Ah, my leg’s cramping up.
Booker: Hush, James. If we wanna catch those cow thieves, we gotta catch ’em red-handed. And this the only way to do it.
Cooper: Ooh! Or we could dress up like a cow! I’ll be in front, ’cause I can make the best cow noise. Check this out. (cups his hands, hollering toward the field) Mooo! I’m a cow!
Otis: (smacks James on the back of the head) Cut that out, fool!
Booker: (pointing across the pasture) Look! There they come.
(Gondolini and his two hulking henchmen nephews jump the fence on the far side of the pasture and proceed to corral and hogtie one of the larger cows. Michael, James and Otis drop out of the tree and race toward the cow thieves..)
Cooper: You guys take the nephews. Gondolini’s mine.
Booker: Otis twice your age! Let him take the old man.
Cooper: Nah, I got him.
Booker: You just scared of fighting somebody twice your size!
Cooper: Of course I am! Hey, Gondolini!
(James comes flying at the elderly Italian butcher, throws a fist past the dodging Gondolini and goes careening into the cow who topples over with a helpless “Moo!”..)
Gondolini: Hey! What’s a-matter you?
(Michael pummels the one nephew into the ground while the other flees in terror when Otis raises a bullwhip..)
Otis: (hollering after him) Yeah you better run, boy!
(Michael puts Gondolini’s arms behind his back and binds them with the rope used to tie up the cow James is still laying on..)
Booker: Let’s go apologize to Mrs. Dukesbury, shall we?
Gondolini: You going to make-a my momma cry a-pizza sauce tears!
Cooper: (still laying on the cow) I got this cow, you guys.
Cooper: Yeah, that’s what they all say.