Mother MacRee: Eddie! You know you’ve got to deliver the morning prayer Sunday in church. You gonna have to get your rear in gear in the morning. And don’t spend all day down at Freddie’s shop, you here…Eddie?
Eddie: Yes Ma, I hear ya. I’ll probably go fishin’ after I get done at Fred’s. I’m thinking about a flat-top this time.
Mother MacRee: Eddie…you’re going to scare all the girls. You have fun down at Winky’s pond, but be careful. Agnes Molloy said her boy got bit by a Copperhead over there a few weeks back.
Eddie: I heard it was a Cotton-mouth Diamond Back Black Momba.
Mother MacRee: Whatever Eddie. Just be careful. Those snakes are vicious, and I’d like to keep my son around a while.
[The scene darkens on Eddie’s bedroom, and the dimmed kitchen from left stage where his Mother was chatting with him, darkens. Eddie moves to stage right and the lighting in his bedroom falls, but not to black. Eddie is in a soft spotlight (each time he speaks to the crowd)].
Eddie: You know, that is the way it is here in Murrysville. No real excitement, and you can count on things. I’ve stayed here for that reason. You can count on your friend, your neighbors. Sun always comes up on time, sets the same. Things just don’t change, much. Every Saturday, I’ll either get up real early and head to the pond to see if I can catch a few “off the nest”, or I’ll head straight to the barber. Fellas ’round here been getting crew cuts for some time now…sort of “our thing”. We’d had enough of the long-hairs back in the 60’s and 70’s. Yup, things don’t change much. I’ve kept my job down at the foundry, and I’ve just never wanted to leave. Got my degree from the local college here in town. Studied political science. Not much use for a political scientist in Murrysville. But it does make for good conversation over at Fred’s on Parham Hill. The Parhams. I remember my Grandfather told me once they were a big deal around here, once. Over near Brick Hill. Yup. It’s a nice pace around Murrysville.
[Light fade to black. New scene opens on a barber shop.]
Fred: Well, look what the cat dragged in. How you doin’, Eddie?
Eddie: Great Fred. You still cuttin’ hair?
Fred: Boy, what do I keep tellin’ you? Not much else to do around this old place, and we ain’t in the business of collecting hair.
Eddie: Damn. Did you hear about that shooting up in Chicago ? I heard there were fifteen people killed.
Fred: This world is going to hell in a handbasket Ed. Sons a bitches are just killing each other left and right. Better keep their asses outta this part of the world.
Patron: Y’all handle things different down here do ya?
Fred: Let’s just say we don’t cotton to our boys and girls kicking up their heels like that. Round here, that’s not the idea of a good time. Worse thing I ever saw happen was when Old Man Phillips barn caught on fire, but that was some squabble between he and his son.
Jenkins: Yeah. They were dating the same woman. Got real “messy”.
Eddie: How you doin’ Jenks?
Jenkins: Real good Eddie. You been fishing this morning?
Eddie: Naw. Rough week. This hot weather and that damned mill don’t go so good together.
Jenkins: Gets hot around that molten metal, doesn’t it?
Eddie: Yeah, it do.
Fred: I heard there will be a layoff ? Any truth?
Eddie: Hell, Fred. Them SOBs is always talking crap like that. You know how it is.
Fred: Yeah, but it really hurts my business when you boys walk.
Eddie: Your business. It never hurts. You haven’t raised your prices in fifty years. During that strike back in the 70’s your business kept cooking like a tea kettle. You ain’t never hurt for nothin’.
Fred: Shit. I was hurting when I had to go out there and work that time. That place is hell. I don’t see how you stand it.
Eddie: Hell, son, I’ve got metal in my blood.
Jenkins: What do you reckon motivated that fella up there to kill all them people?
Fred: Probably living there.
Eddie: Chicago ain’t that bad. I knew a girl from there once. Saundra, I think. Nice girl. Had a real good time when I visited up there. People treated me real nice.
Fred: Yeah. I bet. Dijou [did you] come home with any money?
Eddie: Spent most of it on her. I remember, there was this one place…had the best damn chow-chow I’ve ever tasted. It was an Italian-soundin’ name. Giroddani’s, or something. And popcorn…man, Cracker Jacks has got nothing on that bunch. Nice town.
Fred: Yeah. Great place to be buried.
Jenkins: Hey. I had some fun in Chicago once.
Fred: Case of the crabs doesn’t represent “fun” in my book, Jenks.
Jenkins: Hey, Fred ! That’s outta line, buddy.
Fred: Okay, Okay. Sorry Jenks. I know your mom wouldn’t appreciate me talking about ya like that.
Jenkins: Damned right.
Eddie: Well, it ain’t like you don’t get around, Jenks. Who you dating now? The girls lacrosse team?
Fred: I saw him hanging out over at the dorms at Murrysville College. He likes them Yankee girls.
Eddie: Jenkins? Is it true? You gettin’ all “cultured” on us?
Jenkins: I was over there painting one of the dorms. Those girls are too young for me.
Fred: Too young, and too smart. [Bell rings and the door to the shop opens. Several patrons move down “the prayer bench” to make room]
Fred: Come in, come in. I’d say I can get to you in about 20 minutes.
Jenkins: Hey Rowdy! How you and Eilleen gettin’ along? You still treating my girl good.
Pete: Your girl? And what’s this Rowdy crap. Thought you guys had decided to quit using nicknames. She’s good, she’s good. Swelling up like a pumpkin, but good. Complains all the time.
Eddie: Don’t they all?
Fred: Hey. Tell your momma that.
Eddie: How are things between you and sweet Mother MacRee, Fred. You are still taking her to fancy restaurants aren’t ya?
Fred: Taking here over to Becky’s.
Jenkins: White’s Mill Chapel? Man, they got one of the best hamburgers. It is the rye bread. That’s the secret.
Fred: Hell son, that ain’t no secret. Everybody in town knows it.
Pete: Yeah, everybody but the half-backs.
Jenkins: Yeah. You ain’t from Micheegan, are ya?
Patron: Nope. Florida.
Fred: Oh hell. Gator fan?
Fred: Oh, well then, welcome to my shop.
Patron: You not like Gators?
Fred: Eat ’em every chance I get.
Eddie (to patron): Halfbacks are the people from up Nawth who move down to Florida, start back home, visit here and decide to stay. They leave Florida ’cause the taxes are so high. Settle here ’cause we ain’t got no taxes. Then they start complaining about the services that are offered here (schools ain’t what they expect, they don’t feel like running to the dump on Saturdays to tote their garbage. You know, all the modern “conveniences” that taxes pay for. Hell, go back to Florida.
Fred: yeah, so anyway, they are halfbacks because they move to Florida and only make it half-way back to Yankee-ville.
Patron: So you guys don’t like Yankees.
Jenkins: It is not really that. We’ve been dealing with them as tourists for years. I almost married one outta high school (Joy-see (Jersey)). She was German. Blonde. Blue-eyed. Gorgeous.
Eddie: Until she figured you out, right Jenks?
Jenkins: (chortling) yeah. Suppose so.
Eddie: Anyhow, Mister, what Jenks is trying to say is, we don’t really hate them, hate them – we just hate taxes.
Fred: Yeah. Damn revenuers.
Patron: Oh, from the moonshine days.
Jenkins (under his breath): Like they are gone.
Fred: Yeah. Old man Naventhol still runs some shine. It’s up at Butterfly Gap. I wouldn’t trust that old geeser though. I think he’s East Latvian or something. Kinda got an edge to him. Like he hates everybody, or something. Probably mixes it with radiator fluid.
Jenkins: Yeah, likely. I hear the best shine comes up Green Briar way.
Eddie: Well, it’s the water.
Patron: The water ?
Fred: Oh yeah, best shine is filtered through peat. Gives it an earthy taste. Good stuff up there. Lot’s of old hardwood. Water gets filtered really well, and so the still…they spring fed up there. Good water.
Eddie: Yeah, good shine is always in the ingredients.
Jenkins: But no, mister. We don’t hate Yankees. We like ’em. They got money. They like to spend it. We like to collect it. Kinda works for us both.
Patron: Well, that’s good to hear. My wife and I were just through here on vacation and decided to stop. Nice place.
Fred: Yeah. The people are friendly. So’s I hear, anyway.
Eddie: Yeah. Friendly (sarcastic).
Jenkins: You hear about what happened up in Nosey Holler?
Eddie: Perkins was telling me on the golf course the other day that he was hopped up on something. That would explain it.
Fred: It was that damned crack cocaine. Them guys get crazy with it. What’d Perk allow?
Eddie: Stan said it was domestic. They got into it over some woman he was slippin’ around with on the side. I reckon she blowed his brains out. Perk said it was a real mess.
Fred: Well, he deserved it. What if it’d been your wife?
Eddie: I ain’t gonna have a wife.
Fred: You keep taking them to Mickey Dee’s and you won’t.