Nashville Skyline - Porch by Julie Shavers_1270430768794

This is an archived text version of the author’s work.
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Open on a screened in porch. People come and go. All but Grandpappy who is camped out on an old roll away bed that he never leaves. There’s blind dog next to him. Tab is fixing Daisy’s hair. Mammy fans around, but never sits.

Tab

There’s no tornado.

Mammy

You don’t know that.

Tab

Not a cloud in the sky.

Mammy

When I was little a tornader come. Took the roof off. I was standin’ by the stove watchin’ mama make teacakes. Next thing I know it’s rainin’ on me.

Tab

What’s that got to do with anything?

Della and Virgil flicker in and out. Black and white static.

Della

Late afternoon in the swamp pit the badge comes off and the gun gets cleaned.

Virgil

Della, get your skinny ass over here and hold this while I…

Della

I’ve always been clumsy.

Virgil

Ah shit. Now you’ve done it.
Voice

This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test.

Virgil

Get up woman. It’s just a flesh wound. I’ve seen a deer run for an hour and a half with worse.

Della

They had a moon bounce on the square Saturday. Bar B Que and a petting zoo, but the rain came and they packed it all in. Left us in the hot wet strumming water logged banjos and caterwauling our fool hearts out.

Voice

Everybody out. The carnival is closed. If the shit’s gonna hit the fan we’ll sound an alarm.

Della

I meant to marry a carpenter who could build me a house.  Or a truck driver and see the world.

Virgil

Do you know how fast you were going?

Della

Sometimes I think I was tricked.

Tab

He sure was good lookin’.

Mammy

The prettiest teeth.

Tab

Don’t know how come him to swell up like that though.

Mammy

One day he was fine, next thing I know his neck’s got so thick it’s even with his face. Looks like a stovepipe with eyes.

Daisy

No hair.
Mammy

Never had a cavity.

Tab

Giant tits and that pinched off little ass that just hangs there like a hound dogface.

Voice

This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test.

Mammy

Your cousin got struck by lightnin’ twice.

Tab

So.

Mammy

Then a scorpion stung him.

Daisy

Who?

Mammy

Your cousin.  Otto. You never knew him. He died.

Daisy

From the scorpion?

Mammy

Naw. Died in the bathroom. Had a heart attack and fell right off the toilet. Just like Elvis.

Daisy

Oh.

Mammy

Put that pretty dress on. What are you saving it for?

Tab

I’m not going to the courthouse dressed like Scarlet O’Hara.

Mammy

Just cause you don’t make a production out of it don’t mean it ain’t a big deal.

Tab

It’s just a formality.

Mammy

I married your grandpappy at the courthouse and it stuck.

Grandpappy

Sixty-three years.

Mammy

Some mornings I stand over him. Watching him drool all over my mama’s quilt and I think God how I’d love to kill him.

Grandpappy

Marriage is like a contest to see who will die first.

Mammy

The winner goes to heaven.

Grandpappy

The straggler gets to chase tail.

Mammy

Until he breaks a hip.

Grandpappy

It’s supposed to be good luck if it rains on your wedding day.

Tab

Good luck for who?

Della

Land locked swamp pit. Power lines running through the playground. Poison river flowing like a slow trickling tidal wave.

Tab

Grandpappy’s arm is stinkin’.

Mammy

Needs to quit that smokin’.

Grandpappy

Everything you do will kill you. Might as well do the stuff you like.

Mammy

They cut aunt Zammers titties off. She didn’t like much of nothin’ after that.

Virgil

Give us a kiss.

Della

I’m tired.

Virgil

Frigid bitch.

Della

Seven AM there’s a knock on my door.  It’s Saturday.

Virgil

Somebody better be bleeding.

Della

It’s a woman with a cat.

Woman

Is this your cat?

Della

No.
Woman

You sure?

Della

I don’t have a cat.

Woman

You want this one?

Della

No.

Woman

It’s a good one.

Della

I don’t like cats.

Woman

Do you know anyone who…

Virgil

Get your mangy pussy off my porch or I will kill you and feed you to it.

Della

I’ll take it.

Virgil

Here kitty kitty kitty.

Della

A week later it gets parvo.

Virgil

Here kitty kitty kitty.

Della

Don’t know if it was the disease or the bullet hole that killed it. The baby found it in a shoebox with maggots all over it.

Virgil

Don’t touch it. Throw it in a garbage bag. That’s a dignified enough end for that thing.

Della

The garbage man comes clanking down the street. I’m exhausted. I was up late killing ladybugs.

Daisy

There’s a ladybug in my tea.

Mammy

They’re all over the place.

Grandpappy

Ladybugs are good luck.

Daisy

Not when they’re in your tea.

Tab

I’ve been killing them by the sack full.

Mammy

Pestilence.

Voice

This is a test. This is only a test.

Daisy

There’s a mouse in the pantry too.

Mammy

I’ll get the D-Con.

Tab

If you poison them they die in the wall.

Mammy

Can’t have mice with company coming.

Tab

Yeah. It’s much better to have a corpse rottin’ in the wall.

Mammy

You see that yellow sky?

Daisy

What’s it mean?

Grandpappy

Means God is fixed to piss on us.

Mammy

Means it’s a tornader comin’.

Grandpappy

This might be it. The end of the world.

Tab

Don’t listen to them.

Grandpappy

Food might run out. Too many people. Everybody hoarding tuna fish and water bottles.

Mammy

Was that thunder?

Tab

Garbage truck.

Grandpappy

We gonna drink this or what?

Tab

I can’t. I got to sing at church tomorrow. I’ll get to feelin’ like I better confess it.

Grandpappy

What would you wanna do that for?

Tab

I can’t help it. That’s just how I do.

Grandpappy

Well I’m gonna drink it. Doctor’s orders.

Mammy

Bull tickey.

Grandpappy

Brother Jimmy brings a flask to church.

Granny

He ain’t done it.

Grandpappy

I shit you not. I seen him.

Tab

That’s awful

Grandpappy

I don’t know. It’s the Sabbath. Day of rest and all. The man never could relax without a drink in him. Dry him out he’s mean as a snake. Liquor him up and he’s docile as a spring lamb. Got the patience of Job and the all consuming love of the Lord Jesus himself.

Tab

It ain’t right to drink at church.

Della

Jesus turned the water to wine.

Tab

That was at a wedding.

Grandpappy

Was it a church wedding?

Tab

I don’t know.

Grandpappy

I just don’t see why it’s ok to do a thing one place and not another. If God is everywhere why does it matter where we are when we do a thing?

Tab

It’s a matter of respect for the house of God.

Grandpappy

If God came to my house I’d offer him a drink.

Tab

If God came to this house he’d asphyxiate.

Mammy

Was that thunder?

Tab

It’s a garbage truck.

Mammy

Garbage don’t run on Sunday.

Tab

It ain’t even raining.

Mammy

You get out of here tornader!

Della

Go back in the house.

Mammy

Let’s all get in. I’ll make you a pie. What do you want to be out here for anyway?

Tab

Can’t breathe in there. Stinks like hell.

We hear a sound, obviously thunder this time and a flicker of lightning.

Mammy

I want you to tell me what kind of garbage truck lights up the sky like that? I rebuke you in the name of Jesus!

Tab

Oh good Lord.

Daisy

Who’s she talkin’ to?

Tab

The sky. She thinks a tornado’s gonna blow a bunch of scorpions in here. Then we’ll all have heart attacks.

Mammy

You got no power here tornader!

Tab

Every time it rains.

Mammy

Ya’ll get in the house.

Tab

You get in the house.

Mammy

It’s a tornader comin’.

Tab

It ain’t done it.

Mammy

I reckon I heard it.  They interrupted my stories and said go get in the basement.

Tab

We ain’t got a basement?

Mammy

Well we got to get somewhere! … Fine. Go on then. Sit out here like a pack of fools.

Grandpappy

Hand us a beer will you?

Mammy

It ain’t right to tempt the Lord.

Grandpappy

Tempt him hell, you done rebuked that storm. We oughtta be fine.

Mammy

You laugh at me you old son of a bitch. Your numbers up.

Grandpappy

I hope so.

Mammy

Well let me tell you this. Don’t come crying to me when you get struck by lightnin’ or a tree falls on ya. I’m not wipin’ a one of your sorry asses when you’re laid up broke down because you didn’t have enough sense to get in out of the rain. I don’t know much, but I know this. If you play chicken with the Lord you will lose. If you dance around laughing in the face of Mother Nature she’ll whip yer ass. And my days of settin’ a fool back on its feet are done. I don’t care what happens to you. The whole sorry lot of you.

Lightning strikes. Mammy falls.