Slaves – Episode 109
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 109 – They’re Here
(Harry S. Tubman leads Eloise, Michael and James down a cavernous shaft into a large chamber where a four-car train is sitting waiting for them, packed to the brim with escaped slaves and deserting soldiers. “Freedom Express” is emblazoned on the side. Michael eyes Mr. Tubman as they climb onto the front car and find their seats..)
Booker: You’re a lot…whiter than I expected.
Tubman: (chuckles, sets his cane down on the seat next to him) Yes, I get that a lot. The ‘Harriet Tubman’ persona is for PR purposes only.
Cooper: Y’all got snacks?
Booker: How far does this…Underground Railroad–
Tubman: From the Gulf of Mexico to Canada with stops in between.
Acorn: Who built all these tunnels?
Tubman: What? They’re cheap!
Cooper: He’s got a point. We are.
Tubman: Relax. I freed them afterwards.
Booker: I was told the Underground Railroad was just a series of homes where good loyal people took in escaped slaves on their way to freedom.
Tubman: I know, isn’t that quaint?
Cooper: So…no snacks.
Booker: So this train can take me to Philadelphia? To my baby?
Booker: It’s too good to be true.
Acorn: It’s remarkable.
Cooper: Not even a pretzel?
(Hannibal and Kid Curry are on horseback heading down Main Street Magnolia..)
Curry: Where are we going, Mr. Hannibal?
Hannibal: That Overseer mentioned something about a Professor Rollins. Operates a laboratory in this barn, here.
(Hannibal knocks on the front door and waits a few moments before it’s opened and the bounty hunters are met with a billowing cloud of black smoke..)
Rollins: Terribly sorry, gentlemen. An experiment gone awry. How may I help you?
(Kid Curry holds up the illustrations of Booker and Cooper..)
Hannibal: We’re looking for these two men, escaped slaves. Any idea where they might have gone, Professor? There is a substantial reward if you have any information.
Rollins: Oh, I’m afraid money is no longer an issue for me. That’s what my new invention is for. Come in, come in.
(The bounty hunters enter the lab/barn and are greeted by a large wooden box..)
Rollins: I call it an ATM. Stands for “Automatic Tenderer of Monies”. You simply tell it how much money you desire, pull this lever and it prints out the cash. Observe.
(The Professor turns to the ATM and clears his throat..)
Rollins: ATM. Twenty dollars, please.
(Rollins pulls the lever and a Confederate twenty-dollar bill is issued out of the machine..)
Hannibal: That’s somethin’, Professor. How does it work?
Rollins: (thrusting a finger into the air) Science!
(Hannibal peers into the money slot and sees two eyes staring back at him..)
ATM: Please…help me.
Rollins: (hustling the bounty hunters out the door) Time to go! Time to go!
(James is out cold and snoring on Eloise’s shoulder as she scribbles down notes on her story..)
Booker: So why exactly are you doing all this, Mr. Tubman? Why are you helping all us poor slaves?
Tubman: To be perfectly honest with you, Mr. Booker; I own a rather large cotton mill up north and the South is bleeding me dry with their low-cost workforce. So I figure if I get rid of the competition’s labor, I’ll get rid of the competition and I’ll corner the cotton market!
Booker: So, for purely financial reasons.
Tubman: Oh, and of course the plight of the slave and all.
Tubman: And if you need a job once you’re up north and free, I’ll have you know my cotton mill is always hiring.
Booker: Well, that’s convenient.
Acorn: Does “underhanded” have a hyphen in it?
(Gen. Stonewall Jackson and his scout — Private Wesley — are at the foot of a hill twenty miles north of the Freedom Express..)
Jackson: Here’s an opening, here. Go down there and take a look.
(The Private climbs down the hole and there’s silence for a moment before he hollers up..)
Wesley: There’s tracks down here!
Jackson: (claps his hands) By gum, I knew it! A real honest-t0-goodness underground railroad. Go get the troops, we’re gonna stop that train.
Wesley: (climbs up out of the hole, dusting himself off) Beg pardon, General. But how are we gonna stop a train?
Jackson: (sneering) I’ve got a plan.
(Hannibal and Kid Curry are heading east toward the Mississippi..)
Hannibal: Sounds like that underground train is our best bet of finding these slaves.
Curry: And how do you expect us to find such a thing? I imagine an underground train has no use for whistles.
Hannibal: I doubt we’re the only folks looking for this train, Kid Curry. The Confederates wanna stop that Tubman lady just as bad as we do. We find a troop congregating somewhere they shouldn’t be and we’ve found our train hunters.
Curry: And if we find our train hunters, how do you expect to wrest control of our bounty from them?
Hannibal: Ingenuity, Kid Curry. American ingenuity. (glances at his partner) Amero-Indian ingenuity.
(James is proofreading Eloise’s rough draft, flipping pages hastily..)
Cooper: Yes, yes. Everything seems to be in order here.
Acorn: You’re not even reading it, are you?
Cooper: I’m skimming!
Booker: (smirks) James can’t read.
Cooper: (scowling) I can so!
(Michael leans across the aisle, points at a random word on the page..)
Booker: What’s that say?
Acorn: (snatching the pages back) Oh my God, you can’t read.
Cooper: (pouting, crossing his arms) I get by.
(The train screeches to a stop, lurching everyone forward..)
Tubman: What in blue blazes!
Cooper: (cringing) Ah, my neck! This has lawsuit written all over it.
Booker: You’re fine, Cooper.
(Harry S. Tubman steps off the Freedom Express followed by Eloise, Michael and James. Tubman is met with a towering stone wall and a number of Confederate soldiers, guns trained..)
Tubman: What is the meaning of this?
Cooper: (whispering to Michael) Dumb place for a wall.
(Gen. Jackson steps out from behind the wall, grinning..)
Jackson: My name is General Stonewall Jackson of the Army of the Confederates. I’m looking for Harriet Tubman.
Tubman: I’m Harry S. Tubman!
Jackson: (frowning) I was told this train was captained by an old black woman named Harriet Tubman.
Cooper: It’s a PR thing.
Jackson: (pointing at James) Who’s the white guy?
Cooper: (throwing his hands up) Finally! Thank you! Can you go down to Mississippi and tell my former employers that? They’re convinced I’m some sort of African Albino.
(One of the slaves snickers behind James..)
Cooper: (turning around) Shut up!
Jackson: Mr. Tubman, I’m afraid I’ve gotta take you and your passengers in for actions treasonous toward the Confederate States of America.
Tubman: (shrugs) Well, we had a good run.
Booker: You’re gonna throw in the towel, just like that?
Tubman: I’ve got good lawyers, I’ll be fine. Good luck to you, though.
Booker: You rotten–
Tubman: Oh, and don’t tell anybody I was an old white man. The historians will just be bummed.
(Stonewall’s troops are leading the slaves up out of the Underground Railroad tunnel. Michael, James and Eloise climb up out of the hole with Private Wesley, as Hannibal and Kid Curry look on from some brush across the field..)
Hannibal: And there’s our bounty.
Curry: Quickly, boss. Let’s move!
Haninbal: (resting a hand on Kid Curry’s shoulder) Patience, Kid. They’re in no danger. We’ll get ’em when we’re good and ready.
(Wesley pushes James as the captives make their way off the field and onto a long dirt road..)
Cooper: Quit shovin’, ya boob!