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Dust Bowl – Chapter 7

Posted in erbooker by erbooker on 02/24/2014

dustbowl

The great Dust Bowl of the 1930′s strikes and Oklahoman Woody Loggins and his Mexican friend Pepe pack up shop and head West.

Chapter 7 – Dust Pneumonia Blues

Wen-Wen:  Mr. Loggins! Mr. Loggins!

(A beautiful young Chinese woman shakes a pale sickly Woody Loggins awake in a tiny dingy apartment in the Chinatown district of downtown Los Angeles…)

Woody:  Huh? Whuzza? Whooza?

Wen-Wen:  Mr. Loggins. It’s Wen-Wen.

Woody:  Oh Wen-Wen, my sweet. Please, call me Woody.

Wen-Wen:  Wood-dee?

Woody:  Okay, odd emphasis; but sure.

Doctor:  It’s pneumonia. I wouldn’t move him for a few days. Let the penicillin do its work.

Rose:  It’s those damn oil fields you and him are working in out in East LA, Pepe. The conditions are deplorable. It’s killing him!

Pepe:  Is good pay though, missus.

Doctor:  Well I have more patients to tend to in the neighborhood. Just make sure he stays put.

(After the doctor leaves the brown-stained apartment, Woody rises out of bed, flop-sweating and wheezing…)

Woody:  Let’s go, Wen-Wen.

Wen-Wen:  (putting her arm around Woody)  Be careful, Wood-dee.

Rose:  And just where exactly do you think you’re going? Didn’t you listen to the doctor?

Woody:  Well, he’s entitled to his opinion. But Wen-Wen knows a guy who can cure me overnight.

Rose:  And how is he going to do that?

Woody:  (smiles weakly, winks)  Ancient Chinese secret.

~~~

(The newly polio-stricken FDR is rolling his wheelchair through an adoring crowd of admirers at a campaign stop in Burbank. President Herbert Hoover and his Chief of Staff are looking on from a nearby stagecoach…)

Hoover:  I can’t believe it. They like him even more now than before we injected him with polio.

Thorngood:  It’s an unfortunate turn of events, Mr. President.

Hoover:  You’re sure as shit it is!

Thorngood:  What do you propose we do now, Mr. President.

Hoover:  We up the stakes, Thorngood.

(A homeless Okie walks over and begins scrubbing the front of the stagecoach with a rag. President Hoover leans out the window…)

Hoover:  No, no thank you. We’re good, thank you.

(The Okie holds out his hand and Hoover turns to Thorngood…)

Hoover:  Can you spot me. I forgot my wallet…back in Washington.

~~~

(Wen-Wen has led Woody and Rose to a tiny storefront in a side-alley of Chinatown. Woody squints at the Chinese characters on the door…)

Wen-Wen:  (smiling at Woody)  ‘Apothecary’.

Woody:  Ah yes, of course. And just so Rose understands, an apothecary is…?

Wen-Wen:  A medical professional specializing in herbs and potions.

Rose:  I know what an apothecary is.

Woody:  Good, so we all already knew.

(Rose gives Woody a side-glance as they enter the building. A bearded old Chinese man is bent over the counter writing on parchment with a quill…)

Woody:  What year is it.

Wen-Wen:  Be nice, Wood-dee.  (turns to old man)  Mr. Chan.

(Mr. Chan looks up and squints through his thick eyeglasses…)

Chan:  Ah, Wen-Wen.

Wen-Wen:  Mr. Chan, my boyfriend is sick.

Rose:  (whispers to Woody)  ‘Boyfriend’?

Woody:  (hacking cough)  I got the black lung, Doc. Dust Bowl Pneumony and I got it bad.

Chan:  (smiles)  I have just the thing.

(Mr. Chan shuffles into the back room. Woody leans over to Rose and whispers…)

Woody:  Ancient Chinese secret.

Rose:  Stop saying that.

(The old Chinese apothecary trundles back to the counter and drops a gnarled herb in front of the threesome…)

Chan:  Toad root. Grind up and brew a tea. Pneumonia gone overnight.

(Wen-Wen picks up the gnarled root and examines it…)

Woody:  ‘Toad root’? Wait, are toads plants?

Rose:  What? C’mon.

Wen-Wen:  Is rare herb from Northern China, Wood-dee.

Rose:  And how much does this rare herb cost?

Chan:  Is on house. Any friend of Wen-Wen’s is friend of mine. Just be sure to tell friends about Mr. Chan’s.

Rose:  We will. Thank you very much.

Chan:  And maybe if you want to get a few people sick on your way home and send them my way? Bring me business?

Woody:  Mr. C, you old scamp. You got a deal.

Rose:  No! He’s not going to give people pneumonia. Thank you for the medicine.

(Rose and Wen-Wen turn to exit and Woody leans over Mr. Chan’s counter and whispers…)

Woody:  I’ll cough on a couple folks on my way back to the apartment. I got you, Chan. (winks)

~~~

(Back at Rose and Max’s apartment, Rose is coughing under the covers while Max stands by the window…)

Max:  You didn’t happen to see any cocaine at that Chinese apothecary by chance, did you hon? My prescription’s running low and my teeth itch.

Rose:  Maxwell, please. I’m sick.

Max:  Just how did you catch Woody’s pneumonia anyway?

Rose:  I don’t know, Maxwell.

(Max stares out the window, worrying about the future…)

Max:  (whispering)  Cocaine.

~~~

(The next morning Woody Loggins is back in the oil field with Pepe, jumping and doing karate kicks in the air…)

Woody:  I feel like a million bucks, Pepe! I could fight a horse!

Pepe:  Please don’t, Mr. Loggins. I love horsies.

Woody:  Yeah, me too. Man, I’m so full of energy from that dang toad root. Want a piggy-back ride?

Pepe:  Yes, very much please.

(The oil field foreman frowns as Woody races around the yard, Pepe giggling on his back…)

~~~

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