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Slaves – Episode 112

Posted in erbooker by erbooker on 07/28/2011

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 112 – Just The Ten Of Us

(Overseer Tafford is sitting up front with Rusty while Mr. Dukesbury rests in the back of the stately carriage on its way to Philadelphia..)

Tafford:  You believe in God, Rusty?

Rusty:  (spits)  I reckon.

Tafford:  I ain’t ever been a prayin’, church-goin’ man. But I always used to think there was somethin’ or someone up there. But now, what with all the war and the strife and the people dyin’ left and right; I ain’t so sure anymore. Ya know what I mean, Rusty?

Rusty:  (spits)  I reckon.

Tafford:  I mean, you got this girl up north all alone in the world now. Just because her Daddy — who I readily admit I treated like shit — wanted to see her one more time. Where’s God in all of that? I just don’t see the point anymore, Rusty.

Rusty:  (spits)  I reckon.

Tafford:  My Momma raised me a Southern Presbyterian. Told me you pray every night and good things’ll happen to you. Now I’m beginning to think that’s all a load of bunk.

Rusty:  (spits)  I reckon.

Tafford:  Seems like there ain’t enough room in this crazy world for good Christians like you and me. What do you think, Rusty?

Rusty:  (spits)  I wouldn’t know. I’m Jewish.

~~~

Booker:  So you only have seven men in your entire troop?

McSideburns:  (grins)  Ten, now.

Booker:  Pardon?

McSideburns:  Ten men. I’ve enlisted y’all in the 804th Louisiana Voluntary Brigade.

Cooper:  804th? There were 803 voluntary brigades before you guys? Did they not give you guns?

McSideburns:  (glancing at Eloise and the two slaves in their Confederate greys)  Where are your guns?

Cooper:  Uh, we lost them?

McSideburns:  That’s alright. We can scrounge together some rifles once we get to Gettysburg. We’re nearly there, just gonna take the Ohio here the rest of the way.

Cooper:  You know for one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mississippi River wasn’t all that impressive.

Acorn:  You slept through most of it.

McSideburns:  (chortles heartily)  Oh, Englebert. You have a devilish wit. I dunno, there’s just something about you.

Cooper:  (grinning, elbowing Eloise)  Burnside likes you.

Acorn:  Shut up.

Cooper:  And he thinks you’re a man.

Acorn:  Shut up, James.

McSideburns:  Yes, boys; Gettysburg’s the place. Reputations will be made that day. And now that we’ve got a hotshot like Jim Baloney on our side, we can’t lose!

Booker:  (glaring at James)  Yes, he sure is something.

Cooper:  (waves a hand sheepishly)  Oh, I’m alright.

McSideburns:  Why don’t we have a little target practice to pass the time?

Cooper:  Well Burnside, obviously I would love to; but, as I mentioned earlier, we lost our guns.

McSideburns:  You can use mine!

Cooper:  I dunno, McSideburns. We’re on a boat. What with the footing and the…nautical winds.

McSideburns:  Nonsense. A hotshot like you shouldn’t have any trouble. Didn’t you tell me you once knocked a lapel off a General’s breast?

Cooper:  Yeah, I pushed him back to Lieutenant. They didn’t know who was in charge after that. It’s how we won the battle.

(Lt. McSideburns motions to one of his men..)

McSideburns:  Crumbley, set up some soup cans on that railing. We’re havin’ ourselves a shoot-off!

Acorn:  (smirking)  This should be fun.

Cooper:  (sulking)  Shut up, Humperdink.

~~~

(Mr. Dukesbury pokes his head out the front curtain in between Rusty and Tafford..)

Dukesbury:  Why aren’t we moving?

Tafford:  (chewing on cud)  It’s Saturday.

Dukesbury:  Lemme try that again: Why aren’t we moving?

Rusty:  (quietly praying, adjusts yarmulke)  It’s the Sabbath, sir.

Dukesbury:  (bursts out of the carriage)  Oh, you and your goddam Sabbath.

Rusty:  You know I can’t work on Saturdays, Mr. Dukesbury.

Dukesbury:  Well why can’t you drive, Tafford?

Tafford:  Never got my license.

Dukesbury:  (stomping on ground like a child)  Move this wagon!

Rusty:  No.

Dukesbury:  (shrugs)  Worth a shot. Where the heck are we, anyway?

Tafford:  Northern Tennessee.

Dukesbury:  Any towns nearby where we can spend the night?

Tafford:  Nope.

Dukesbury:  (sighs)

~~~

(The kickback from Lt. McSideburns’ revolver once again throws James into the wall of the steamboat as another shot goes wide..)

McSideburns:  (chortling)  Look at him, boys! He couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn!

Cooper:  (getting back up, pouting)  I could to!

Crumbley:  I dunno, Lieutenant. I think he might have grazed that one across the river.

(The soldiers of the 804th collectively guffaw..)

McSideburns:  Alright, Baloney. One more shot and then I’m callin’ this one.

Cooper:  Fine.

(James steadies his arm, points the revolver at the last soup can, exhales, holds his breath and pulls the trigger..)

~~~

Dukesbury:  (snores)

Tafford:  (snores)

Rusty:  (prays)

~~~

(The last of the passengers of the SS Murdoch swim to shore. James rests against a willow tree, glaring at the 804th laughing and pointing..)

Acorn:  (sits down next to James, puts an arm around his shoulder)  I’m not gonna lie, James. That was a really bad shot.

Cooper:  The wind took it.

Booker:  No, that was all you. You again, Cooper. It’s always you. We’re never gettin’ to Philly now!

(James throws off Eloise’s arm and rises up..)

Cooper:  Oh, we’re gettin’ to Philadelphia. If it’s the last thing I do — so help me God — I will get us to Philadelphia. We’re not goin’ to Gettysburg or Chancellorsville or Washington D.C. The next city we step foot in will be Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!

McSideburns:  (motioning Eloise and the slaves over)  C’mon, boys. We’re goin’ to Gettysburg!

Cooper:  Okay. Yes sir, Lieutenant sir.

Booker:  (glowers at James as they make their way east on foot)

Cooper:  Technically Gettysburg’s more of a town than a city.

~~~

Dukesbury:  Hit me.

Tafford:  We’re playing Go Fish, sir.

Dukesbury:  (sighs)  Goddam Sabbath.

~~~

(Michael, James, Eloise and the 804th are trudging through rural Pennsylvania fields on their way to battle..)

McSideburns:  (stomping next to James)  Thanks to you, we’re late for Gettysburg! We’ll be lucky if we see any action at all!

Cooper:  Well, excuuuuuuuse me!

McSideburns:  (glares, catches up ahead with his troops)

Cooper:  (smiles, turns to Michael)  You like that? Think that’s gonna be my new catchphrase.

Booker:  What about all that ”we’re goin’ to Philadelphia” stuff? Now we’re goin’ to war? And for the Confederates, no less?

Acorn:  (jotting on her notepad)  Slow down, guys. This is great stuff. Conflict!

Cooper:  We just have to bide our time until the moment is right. Plus, they’re gonna give us guns; so that’ll be cool.

Booker:  I ain’t fightin’ for no pro-slavery white redneck Southern motherfuckers.

Cooper:  Well…could you just pretend?

Booker:  And what if she goes into labor in the middle of the battlefield? That’s no way to bring a child into this world.

Acorn:  I’ll be fine. Really, Michael. This is all going to make for an amazing story.

Cooper:  I delivered Carrie’s baby, I can deliver Ellie’s too.

Acorn:  Please don’t call me Ellie.

Booker:  You didn’t deliver nothin’. You were huddled in the corner of the Dukesbury’s kitchen in the fetal position for hours, vomiting profusely. Eloise delivered Carol’s baby.

Cooper:  So she’ll be fine, then.

Acorn:  Can we please stop talking about the pregnancy? Sorta blowing my cover.

Cooper:  Hold up, guys. I got a rock in my shoe. Lt. McSideburns! I got a rock in my shoe!

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