Slaves – Episode 107
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 107 – So Shall Ye Reap
(A Union soldier’s head is split open by the plunging butt of a Confederate rifle. The blood and skull shards splatter and scatter as the rifle’s owner cackles happily. Behind them a tableau of blue, gray and red splashes across a field of green as two unarmed men make their way through the chaos; one white, one black..)
Booker: C’mon now, James. Time’s a-wastin’.
Cooper: (glancing around distractedly) I’m comin’, I’m comin’. Who do you think’s winning?
Booker: I don’t care if we winnin’, we gotta move! My little girl’s waitin’.
Lee: And just where do you think you’re goin’?
(Michael and James turn to see a tall bearded older gentleman, on a horse, pistol pointed at their heads..)
Cooper: Who are you?
Lee: I’m the great General Robert E. Lee and I’m gonna shoot you in the head!
(In the basement of a Philadelphia townhouse, Mae Booker shoots up out of her bed awakening her fellow housemaid, Jezabelle..)
Jezabelle: What is it, Mae?
Mae: I think my Daddy’s in trouble.
(James Cooper is leaning on his rake cockily, out in the wheat fields..)
Cooper: Yeah, it ain’t so hard. Slavery.
Acorn: Oh, no? Seems pretty tough.
Cooper: Nah. Piece of cake.
Booker: Cooper, get yo ass back to work!
Cooper: (pointing back at Michael, smirking) What a crab-apple.
(Eloise Acorn is out in the fields interviewing the slaves of the Dukesbury plantation for a piece she’s writing for the Magnolia Herald..)
Acorn: Do you ever miss home?
Cooper: Florida? Not really. Everybody wears short denim pants there. You know what they call ’em? Jorts. It’s ridiculous.
Acorn: Oh, you’re not from Africa? They told me you were an African Albino.
Cooper: (shaking his head) Tafford.
Acorn: Then how did you come to be a slave?
Cooper: Well, the War was starting. A lot of guys were getting drafted and I knew it wasn’t for me, so I hopped on the next ship that came into port. Turned out to be a slave ship. Stopped off in Sierra Leone to make a pickup and I hopped off. Found Michael’s village and we’ve been friends ever since.
Acorn: Wow, that’s quite a story.
Cooper: (stretches overall straps) Yup, I’m pretty amazing.
Acorn: You’re a coward.
Cooper: (snaps overall straps hard against his bare nipples) OW! I’m a what now?
Acorn: You ran away from the War. You’re a coward.
Cooper: No, I’m not! I’m brave and stuff.
Acorn: Then why aren’t you fighting?
Cooper: Because…alright, fine. I’m a coward.
Acorn: It’s a shame. Ladies love a soldier.
Cooper: (sullen) They do?
(James trudges over to where Michael is busily threshing wheat for harvest, as Eloise moves on to interview someone else..)
Booker: You done talkin’ to that lady reporter?
Cooper: (mopes) Think I blew it. She called me a coward.
Booker: Sounds about right. Help me fill this sack up. But only halfway, gotta leave room.
Cooper: You really think this half-cocked plan of yours is gonna work, Mike?
Booker: I know it is. ‘Round harvest time the Dukesbury plantation ships sacks of wheat up north. And what with the War and all, they’ll be shipping twice as much wheat as usual for the troops. We hide ourselves in one of these big sacks–
Cooper: (chortles) Sacks.
Booker: –and we let the wheat-shippers do all the work. We’ll be up north and reunited with my Mae in no time. It’s foolproof.
Cooper: What if I told you I had an even more foolproof plan?
Booker: I’d say you’re full of baloney.
Cooper: Well, prepare to call me “Baloney Man Jones”.
Booker: I’m ain’t gonna do that.
(Later that day, at Prof. Rollins’ lab/barn in town..)
Rollins: Good to see you, boys. Good to see you. Let’s go out back so you can observe my latest invention.
(The slaves follow the Professor out back where a Union soldier is standing with a large wooden contraption on his back..)
Rollins: The Army let me use a captured soldier to help out around the lab.
Cooper: What is that doohickey, Professor?
Rollins: Why my boy, that’s a rocket pack!
Booker: This immediately sounds dangerous.
Cooper: Shh, Mikey. How does it work, Professor?
Rollins: I’ve packed the bottom of the rocket pack with powerful fireworks shipped in directly from China. You simply light the wick and fly your way to freedom, like a robin heading south for the winter.
Booker: Okay, now this sounds extremely dangerous.
Cooper: Should it be made of wood?
Rollins: Wood’s lighter than metal!
Cooper: (turning to Michael) Is that true?
Rollins: Light the wick, you Yankee scum!
(The Union soldier sighs, lights the wick and the entire rocket pack immediately bursts into flames, leaving just the soldier’s boots behind..)
Rollins: (turning back to the slaves, nervously) Requires a few modifications, I suppose.
Booker: (turns to leave, dragging James by the arm) We gettin’ in that wheat bag.
Cooper: (scowling) You’re a wheat bag.
(Eloise Acorn is interviewing Doc — one of the older slaves — when Overseer Tafford and Mr. Dukesbury saunter through the harvested wheat fields..)
Dukesbury: Ms. Acorn, twice in two days. What a delight. What are you doing back in my neck of the woods?
Acorn: Mr. Dukesbury, it seems my piece on your plantation has been pushed to the front page and my editor asked me to expand on it a bit. Thought I might interview some of the workers, get the real “voice of the plantation”. Hope that’s alright.
Dukesbury: Not a problem, not a problem. Just don’t paint me out to be some sort of monster, he he.
(Behind the slaveowner, Eloise sees Michael and James climbing into a bag of harvested wheat in the back of a large wagon. James pauses, smiles and waves at Eloise before Michael pulls him in..)
Acorn: Uh. I’ll try my best, Mr. Dukesbury.
Dukesbury: I’m sure you will. Say, what with all the hubbub yesterday we never really got around to that lemonade. And now that Carol has recovered from her…condition..
Acorn: Actually I’d like to get a few more interviews in before dusk, if that’s alright with you, sir.
Dukesbury: That’s mighty fine, Ms. Acorn. Rain check on the lemonade.
(Eloise turns to leave and Mr. Dukesbury stares as she walks toward the slave quarters..)
Tafford: I’ll have some lemonade with you, sir.
Dukesbury: Shut up, Tafford.
(The wagon is piling down a rocky side road and one of the bags of Dukesbury Wheat jostles in the back..)
Cooper: Tee hee! We are such sneaky slaves!
Booker: Shut up, Cooper.