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Slaves – Episode 108

Posted in erbooker by erbooker on 07/13/2011

White slave James Cooper and black slave Michael Booker have escaped from their Mississippi plantation in order to reunite Michael with his eleven-year-old daughter Mae in Philadelphia..

Episode 108 – As Cool As I Am

(Michael and James stumble out of the Dukesbury Wheat bag and find themselves at the rear of a town market. A smell of salty air wafts through the breeze..)

Cooper:  Where the heck are we?

Booker:  Smells like we near the ocean. I thought you said that wagon was heading north!

Cooper:  Edward is an unpredictable horse. He probably saw some sweet mare tail heading the other way and changed direction.

Booker:  (shaking his head)  We might as well have stayed on the plantation. Now it’s gonna take twice as long to get to Mae.

Cooper:  We’ll ask around about that Underground Railroad you were talking about. Maybe there’s a train station nearby.

Booker:  It’s not an actual train, you nimrod.

Cooper:  So why’s it on a railroad, you…nimrod.

Booker:  (rolls his eyes)  Good comeback.

Cooper:  (frowns)  You’re a good comeback.

Booker:  Let’s ask the storekeep here where in the hell we are.

Acorn:  (creeping up from behind)  You’re in Louisiana.

Cooper:  What the! Hoozat!

Booker:  (doffing his filthy cap)  Ms. Acorn, you followed us all the way down here?

Acorn:  (nodding)  I hopped on the wagon with Rusty. Pretended I was interviewing him to keep an eye on you guys.

Cooper:  (eyes narrowing)  You’re not gonna rat us out, are you?  (switching his demeanor)  Because we’re totally not escaping or anything.

Acorn:  (shaking her head)  A real-live slave plantation escape. This story could make me famous. You’re too valuable to turn in. And besides, I had to get out of Magnolia anyway. Mr. Dukesbury got his hands on an early draft of my piece and was threatening to sue for defamation of character. How about I ask around about that Railroad and you two lay low here at the general store. Harvey there’s nice.

(Eloise hands the slaves some Confederate money..)

Acorn:  Get yourself something to eat while I do some sleuthing.

Cooper:  (grinning)  Gee whiz, you sure are kind, Ms. Acorn.

(James picks up a bottle, reading the label..)

Cooper:  “Coca-Cola, made with real coca.” Huh, wonder what that is.


(A young Union soldier in a bushy fake mustache stops into a nearby tavern and proceeds to the back corner, sitting down across from an older bearded man, cloaked in shadows..)

Stranger:  You got some information for me, son?

Soldier:  (nervously clutching at his hat)  Uh, yessir. On the, uh, Underground Railroad.

Stranger:  Lay it on me, soldier.

Soldier:  I have it on good authority that the starting point has been discovered and is just outside this town. Near a place called “Gilligan’s Cavern”. Ms. Tubman should be there tonight.

Stranger:  Excellent work, son.

Soldier:  I don’t see any other troops around. Are you gonna take Tubman in yourself?

Stranger:  (shaking his head, calling for another beer)  I’m not gonna take her at all. Just needed to find out where the trail starts. You don’t take a smuggler when their arms are empty, son. You get ’em when they’re hands are full.

Soldier:  (nodding)  About that cash reward? I gotta get back to my troop.

(Gen. Stonewall Jackson leans forward grinning and flicks a shiny Confederate gold coin across the table..)

Jackson:  Much obliged, Yankee.


Cooper:  Let’s run to Philadelphia!

(James is busily scratching his arm to the point of bleeding as Michael glances around the empty soda shop..)

Booker:  How much of that Coca-Cola did you have?

Cooper:  About seventeen bottles. These Confederate dollars sure do go a long way! You wanna run to Philadelphia? Let’s run to Philadelphia. I bet I can lift this bar.

Booker:  You gotta settle down.

Cooper:  I’m gonna go find that underground train.  (races out of the shop)

Booker:  Ah, hell.


(Back at the Dukesbury plantation, Mr. Dukesbury and Overseer Tafford are meeting with two bounty hunters — one a heavily-tanned bald man, the other a young Indian — who answered an advertisement in that morning’s Magnolia Herald..)

Hannibal:  (shaking the slaveowner’s hand)  Mr. Dukesbury, my name’s Hannibal and this here’s Kid Curry. We call him that, ’cause he’s Indian.

Dukesbury:  (frowning)  Doesn’t look like any Indian I’ve ever seen. What are you, boy? Navajo? Cherokee? Takahoomsett?

Curry:  (turns quizzically to Hannibal)

Hannibal:  (chuckling)  No, Mr. Dukesbury. I’m afraid you’re mistaken. Kid Curry here’s an actual Indian, from India. He doesn’t speak a lot of English, but he’s a helluva bloodhound. He’ll find your slaves.

Dukesbury:  Great. So you’ve got the sketches there. One of ’em’s a bit lighter-skinned than the other.

Tafford:  (chiming in)  He’s an African Albino. And he’s a real dick.

Dukesbury:  They should be heading toward Philadelphia. That’s where Booker’s daughter is.

Hannibal:  Any idea how they’re traveling? By horse? By foot?

Tafford:  I’ve heard some of the other slaves make mention of a railroad, under the ground.

Hannibal:  An underground railroad. Will wonders never cease.

Curry:  Choo-choo?


(A Coca-Cola-crazed James sprints headlong into a horse pulling a wagon. As Eloise hops off the wagon, James gets up in the horse’s face..)

Cooper:  Think you’re so cool ’cause you’re tall, huh? I’ll take you, buddy!

(Michael holds James back..)

Booker:  Whoa, Jim. This ain’t your fight.

Acorn:  Gentlemen, I found your railroad.

Cooper:  Railroad? We don’t need no stinkin’ railroad. I’ll fly us to Philadelphia.  (grabs at Eloise)  Here, get on my back.

Acorn:  (pushing James away)  What’s with him?

Booker:  Too much soda. So, where is it? Did you meet Ms. Tubman?

Acorn:  Not exactly. Clem here knows where it is and he’s willing to take us there.

Booker:  Gee thanks, Clem.

Clem:  He gon’ be alright?

(James is gnawing at the side of the wagon..)

Acorn:  No. No, he’s not.


(An hour later in rural country outside of the small Louisiana town Clem, Eloise and the slaves come up on a rocky outcropping known as Gilligan’s Cavern..)

Cooper:  (shakes Clem’s hand violently)  Thanks for the ride, Giant Bunny!

Clem:  Sure thing. Now y’all just wait ’til nightfall and that Tubman character will come along and take you on your way. Good luck!

Acorn:  (waving after the wagon as it fades away)  Thanks, Clem!

Booker:  (takes a seat against the rocks)  Now we wait.

Acorn:  Any ideas of how to pass the time?

Cooper:  (hands shaking uncontrollably)  Let’s count how many back flips I can do!


(As dusk rolls in, James is rubbing his sore neck after half a back flip..)

Cooper:  Crashing pretty hard after all that soda, you guys.

(A balding old white man with a cane hobbles up out of the cavern, jumping Michael and Eloise up out of their seats..)

Old Man:  Why, hello there!

Acorn:  (shaking the man’s hand)  Evening, sir. We’re looking for Harriet Tubman?

Tubman:  (smiling)  I’m Harry S. Tubman!

Acorn:  Oh.

Tubman:  Y’all better hurry up. The train’s about to leave!

Booker:  What.

Cooper:  (leaning over, whispering)  Toldja.

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