Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Cockfighters Scene

Okay, if you haven't read Cockfighters, this new material has spoilers. So, stop now!

For those of you who are familiar with Cockfighters, I tweaked the lines Clarence has while he is holding Shirl's body last week. This section of the play has been a disaster area since the play premiered in Orange County (2002?). I don't know that I can fully plant a flag and declare victory. But, I like this version better.

I will pick it up with the monologue from RYE that prefaces the Clarence/Shirl part. Seriously, this is a spoiler if you haven't read the play!


RYE: She started screaming at me in the truck. And she started cursing me out. I guess I got mad. Then she grabbed the wheel and drove us into a ditch. I hit her in the jaw with my fist. She opened the passenger door and tried to crawl out of the truck. But I grabbed her around the waist and we both fell to the mud. I landed on top of her and the breath got knocked out of her. She was flailing around with her legs, trying to get them under her I guess. She was trying to stand up. And she kneed me. I guess that is what happened. I saw red and got even madder. I don’t know why now. I don’t know what made me so mad. I couldn’t think about who she was. I didn’t really know it was Shirl, I guess. There was a beer bottle on the floor of the truck and it rolled out when we fell through the door. Shirl was screaming and crying. So I picked up the beer bottle, and I just swung it. Not to hurt her. Just to make her be quiet for a minute.

I don’t remember the rest. I guess I kept hitting her, because the next thing I remember, I was laying on top of her—her soft little body—and her T-shirt was soaked in blood. Her face was all cut to pieces. But her eyes were open and I could see her breath puffing out in little clouds. It was like she was waiting on me to look at her one last time before she passed on. To stop hitting her and look at her. Her eyes met mine, and they had the most glorious look to them. Soft and shining and loving. I don’t know whether she was getting her first glimpse of God or seeing me and saying goodbye. I reckon it was God’s face she was seeing, because I don’t deserve a look like that. Then she just stopped breathing and a little while later her eyes got all cold and quiet. I passed out after that. Must have been out an hour or so.

Then Uncle Hump pulled up in his squad car. And he said he’d take care of it. And I guess he moved her into the ditch. Some how she got moved down there. I guess Uncle Hump did that.

(Light shift. The whole stage is lit. CLARENCE lifts SHIRL’s body out of the truck and carries her near the pit. Her blood runs down his clothes.)

CLARENCE: Shirl? Shirl! Are you sleeping? Wake up, Shirl. We gotta’ get home. Come on and wake up and we’ll go home. He’s sleeping back there by the truck. He won’t care.

CD: And you just drove off and left her there?

RYE: Yeah. Yeah, we did.

(CD points the gun at RYE.)

CLARENCE: We better get home. If Mama knows you snuck out she’s going to be up at her bible reading. Reading her Ephesians. Reading her Nehemiah. Reading her Judges and the Lamentations. . . . . Wake up, Shirl.

(CLARENCE lowers SHIRL to the ground and brushes her hair out of her face.)

CLARENCE: Pull your hair back from your pretty little . . . Oh, Shirl. Shirl? Did he bleed you?

(CLARENCE licks at her blood where it stains his hands.)

TAMMY: Now, CD. Be reasonable, now. We are going home. Come on. Let’s go. CD. Come on.

CD: No.

CLARENCE: If he bled you, Shirl, he don’t know how to do it right. It got everywhere. There ain’t going to be enough for the bucket and the vinegar. You want me to hold Duke’s head down in a bucket of your blood? So he’ll be a good fighter? . . . Shirl? I’ll do it for you.

TAMMY: Now, CD. Now, CD.

CD: Get out of here. I don’t want you watching me.

CLARENCE: Trim his wattle, shave his comb, work him on that ping pong table ‘til he’s spry and mean! Make him a killer. I’ll put your blood in the bucket with Sparky’s, if that’s what you want. That way Duke goes down fighting for you, Shirl. Fighting tasting you. You taste like metal. Like when I cut my tongue running it over the boys gaffs. I like the way you taste.

(CLARENCE licks his fingers some more and then kisses SHIRL.)


Works a lot better than the crap that was in there before, at least. There is a link to the right where you can order the new Cockfighters book. I think the publihser is getting ISBN numbers on all the books right now. So there may be a hold up if you order the play now. He said he would get that sorted out in the next few weeks.

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