Slaves – Episode 106
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 106 – The Pay’s Lousy, But The Tips Are Great
Cooper: (scowling) Look at him over there. Thinks he’s so hot.
Booker: Who you talkin’ ’bout now?
(Michael and James are shucking in the corn fields today, as James stares daggers at Tom from Ghana..)
Cooper: Mr. Beefcake Hunk Jerk Stud.
Booker: Aw, you on about him again? Cut that out, man. You makin’ me uncomfortable.
Cooper: He thinks he’s the hottest on the plantation; but he’s not.
Carol: Oh, lordy!
(Carol — an expectant mother — collapses further down the row, dropping her basket of corncobs. Michael and James race over and the slaves crowd around her. Carol clutches at Michael’s arm..)
Carol: My baby’s comin’.
Booker: Okay. Just relax, sweetie. We’ll get Tafford to let us take the wagon into town and see Doctor Ellis.
Carol: There’s no time, Michael. This baby’s comin’ now.
Booker: (gulps) I ain’t never done nothin’ like this before, Carol.
Cooper: (shoves Michael aside) Everybody relax. I’ll deliver this child into the world.
(Overseer Tafford is out front as a carriage pulls up and out steps Rutherford Reginald Dukesbury, owner of the Dukesbury plantation and patriarch of the Dukesbury dynasty; fresh from observing the war with some wealthy friends in Virginia..)
Tafford: (taking Mr. Dukesbury’s luggage) How was the war, sir? See any good battles?
Dukesbury: (dabs his brow with a Dukesbury Cotton kerchief) Yes, Robinson. I saw a few. Our boys sure do look ragged. But I think old General Lee will whip them into shape before the going gets too tough. Where are all my busy workers? Out in the fields, I’d imagine.
Tafford: Yeah, I heard ’em hootin’ and hollerin’ and carryin’ on out there earlier.
(A horse pulls up behind Mr. Dukesbury’s carriage and a fetching young blonde woman greets the patriarch..)
Acorn: Mr. Dukesbury. I’d heard from sources in town that you’d returned. My name’s Eloise Acorn, I’m a reporter for the Magnolia Herald. I was hoping, when you’re better rested, I might be able to sit down with you and ask some questions.
Dukesbury: A woman reporter, as I live and breathe. No better time than the present. How about we have a seat on the back porch with some lemonade and some polite conversation?
Acorn: You’re sure you’re not too weary from the journey.
Dukesbury: (pointing at his horse and driver) I’m afraid Edward and Rusty there do most of the work.
Acorn: (smiling) Rusty. That’s a cute name for a horse.
Dukesbury: (taking the reporter inside) Why my dear, Rusty’s the driver.
Dukesbury: (motions Tafford over, whispers) Have one of the slaves make some lemonade. And throw a little rum in there. This hard-boiled reporter’s about to get poached.
(Carol’s legs are spread under the shade of corn stalks as James kneels in front of her, queasily..)
Cooper: Oh man, sure is a lot goin’ on up there.
Carol: Cooper, have you done this before?
Cooper: No time for questions, Carrie. I’ve gotta pull a human being out of your vagina.
Carol: Please don’t call me Carrie.
Cooper: I thought it could be like a fun nickname.
Carol: I don’t like it.
Cooper: (rocks back, hands on hips) Well see, now I think Carrie’s a lovely name.
Booker: (propping Carol’s head up on his knees) Don’t argue with a pregnant woman, Jimmy.
Cooper: (rubs his hands together) Okay. Baby-deliverin’ time.
Tom: (pushing his way through the crowd) You guys need a hand?
Cooper: (turning around, scowling) No, pretty boy. Go away. I’m being a hero, as usual.
Tom: You sure? Because I used to help deliver children all the time back in my village.
Cooper: Oh you’ve just done everything, haven’t you? You big sexy jerk.
(James reaches under Carol’s dress with both hands and she stops him..)
Carol: Hold up. You done this before, Tom?
Tom: (nods) I was our village doctor’s assistant.
Cooper: (scoffs) An assistant? Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Eh, Tom?
Carol: James. Thanks, but I think I want Tom to deliver this baby.
Cooper: (face drops) What!
(Mr. Dukesbury and Ms. Acorn are on the back porch overlooking the sweeping valley of green that is the Dukesbury plantation..)
Dukesbury: So, newspapers. That must be fun, eh? How’d you get the gig? Did a man die?
Acorn: (frowns) Yes, actually. My father.
Dukesbury: (eyebrow raised) Daddy issues.
Dukesbury: I said, “Do you need a tissue?”
Acorn: No. Thank you, but it was years ago. I’m over it. You might recall my father’s work. Edward Acorn?
Dukesbury: Oh yes, old Eddie Acorn. We crossed paths before. He wrote a piece on me years ago. Didn’t really paint the best portrait of me.
Acorn: Yes. I can’t say he was the biggest fan of yours.
Dukesbury: I named my horse after him.
Dukesbury: Robinson, where’s that darn lemonade?
Tafford: On it, sir.
Dukesbury: So, your dad’s dead. That’s nice.
(Overseer Tafford rushes down to where Tom is putting Carol through breathing exercises, as James looks on grumpily..)
Cooper: The baby’s comin’ out of her vagina, not her lungs, Tom.
Tom: Just relax, Carol. In and out. I’ve done this a dozen times; everything’s going to be alright.
Tafford: What are you negroes doin’ down here? Get back to work! Carol, I need you. Mr. Dukesbury’s back and he’s with a guest. And you know how he loves your lemonade.
Carol: (panting heavily) Little busy at the moment, Overseer.
Tafford: What are you doin’ on the ground, you fall?
Carol: I’m havin’ a goddamn baby, Tafford!
Tafford: We all got problems, Carol. C’mon, I’ll help you up.
Tom: (grabbing Tafford’s arm) This woman is going into labor. She needs to stay still.
Tafford: (turning his glare toward Tom) Did I tell you you could touch me, boy? Cooper. Booker. Get Carol here up to the house, I’m gonna show Tom to The Box.
Carol: Please, Mr. Tafford! I need him to deliver my baby.
Tafford: Sorry, Carol. But I don’t take sassback from my slaves. Now go stir up some of your famous lemonade.
(James wraps one of Carol’s arms around his shoulders, while Michael takes the other..)
Cooper: It’s okay, Carrie. You’re with us now.
Carol: Oh, Lord.
Dukesbury: So. Wanna get in the hot tub?
Acorn: Pardon me, sir?
Dukesbury: (points to a tub on the edge of the hill) The tub. I have one of the slaves fill it up with hot water. It can be very relaxing.
Acorn: I don’t think that would be appropriate, sir.
Dukesbury: You don’t have to get completely naked. Just down to your skivvies.
Acorn: (appalled) Mr. Dukesbury!
(The art of seduction is interrupted by a clattering of pots and pans and a woman’s cry coming from the kitchen..)
Dukesbury: What the devil!
(Mr. Dukesbury and Ms. Acorn rush into the kitchen to find Carol stirring a large pitcher of lemonade, while being propped up by Michael with James on his knees in front of her, ear pressed against her belly..)
Cooper: (smiling) I think he said, “Momma”.
Carol: (batting at James’ head) Will you get away from me!
Dukesbury: What in tarnation is going on in here?
Carol: I’m makin’ your lemonade, Mr. Dukesbury. Just like you asked.
Acorn: Is this woman in labor? Mr. Dukesbury, are you employing pregnant women to perform everyday mundane tasks?
Dukesbury: What? No, I…you’re gonna write about this, aren’t you?
Carol: (leans back against Michael) Oh Lord, there’s another one. I think she’s ready to come out now!
Acorn: The tub. Get this woman to the hot tub, now. She’s about to give birth.
Dukesbury: But I just bought that tub! That’s real sterling silver!
Acorn: (glares, lifts pen to pad)
Dukesbury: (waving his hand) Alright alright, have your baby in my hot tub.
Carol: Oh bless you, Mr. Dukesbury!
(The slaves lead Carol outside and gently place her in the tub. The men go back inside while Ms. Acorn coaches Carol through the process. An hour later, the men come back outside to the squeal of a newborn child..)
Cooper: (running around to the front of the tub, excitedly) Ooh, lemme see, lemme see! (pauses, leans forward, vomits into the tub) Hwaaaarf!
(That evening, Michael is cradling Carol’s baby outside her bunk as the new mother rests. James leans back smiling in a rocking chair..)
Cooper: Can’t believe I delivered that baby.
Booker: You so full of it, James.
Cooper: (nodding sagely) Full of life. Just like that little bundle of joy.
Booker: You know, lookin’ down at these little eyes, little hands, little feet. I think it’s finally time, Jim.
Cooper: It’s time?
Booker: (nods) It’s time to break up out this plantation. I need to see my daughter again.
Cooper: (grins, stares up at the Moon) You think that reporter lady likes me?