General Script posted May 15, 2022 Chapters:  ...7 8 -9- 10... 


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THE TRIAL: T. Albright vs. the Army of Uriel

A chapter in the book The Incomparable Fanny Barnwarmer

Incomparable Fanny Barnwarmer #9

by Jay Squires


Bird’s Eye View of the Previous Scene: The Reporter pursues Fanny’s account of her Daddy’s motives for aiding the Army of Uriel.
 
Act III 
Scene 2

CHARACTERS:
Fanny Barnwarmer:
Eighty-five-year-old woman with plenty of spark and sizzle still in her. Has been performing at the Tavern for forty-four years.
Reporter: Mid-thirties. Works for the New York Times, on assignment in Brady, Texas to write a human-interest story on the famous Fanny Barnwarmer.

SETTING: Front porch of Fanny Barnwarmer’s home. Rocking chair, DOWNSTAGE RIGHT, facing kitchen chair, CENTER, and front steps behind, which descend to street level with a flowerbed to the side. UPSTAGE CENTER, screen door leading to interior. OFFSTAGE LEFT are street sounds of traffic: of vintage 1928 cars, some horse whinnying, etc., that continue as a kind stew of white-noise background throughout the scene.

PLACE/TIME: Brady Texas, eleven AM, Sunday, August 12, 1929

AT RISE: The reporter sits facing the empty rocking chair. He glances at his pocket watch, rakes his fingers through his hair, and stares at the door leading into the house. Soon the door creaks open and Fanny enters the porch. She carries a photo album under her arm, pressed to her side. She walks slowly; her face registers pain.


REPORTER:
(Standing, a slight frown)
Let me help you, Miss Fanny.

FANNY:
Lawdy, Lawdy, how these bones do grumble. If’n you’ve a mind to—I 'spect ya might hep keep this mound o’ pondruss flesh from con-vurt-tin’ my rockin’ chair t’ kindlin’. 


[FANNY smiles; her free hand spreads across her chest as she takes a few labored breaths. The REPORTER guides her into her chair]

FANNY (Continues):
Once’t these hips o’ mine start theys down-goin’ …

(Chuckling)
these knees—they says,
“Huh-uh … y’all ain’t gettin’ no hep from nary one o’ us!”
(Holding the album in her lap, she takes another breath and stares long at the Reporter)
So … where was I?

REPORTER:
(Chuckling)
I do believe you got us to the courthouse door.

FANNY:
Ya need ta whittle y’alls point first? Ya got a passel o’ writin’ t’ do.


[While the REPORTER readies himself, FANNY’s eyes stare out distantly beyond him. The stage lighting at this time dims (though not into shadow) on all but FANNY during the remainder of this scene]

FANNY (Continues):
I’s kindly 'mazed at how much I
do 'rek'lect, what with me bein’ only fourteen at t’time. But I can close m’eyes an’ put m’self right there.
(Closing her eyes, taking a deep breath through her nose, then wrinkling it)
Th’ wet n’ muddy smell o’ th’ place, ’cause it be rainin’ outside fer days. Dried mud cakin' up everwhere like theys cow pies. But-but more'n thet ...
(Visibly shivers, crossing her arms)
Th’ chillin’ feelin’ o’ big—bigness, oh,  an’ power, an’ how small a body be in this place.
(Smiling but without warmth)
Th’ jedge—They calls ’im th’ honer-bull Jedge Jonathan Weitherton—heh! Honer-bull! I's askin' ya ... where they get theys jedges from—? Us bein’ in a town in t’shadow o’ Chicago?

REPORTER:
You’re asking me? I don’t know, Miss Fanny. 


FANNY:
(Animated)
Ohhh, I knows all ’bout ’im, now, thet jedge. Once’t theys big-city reporters done caught th’ stench o’ th’ preceedin’s driftin’ to ’em, they do theys searchin’ ’bout th’ jedge. Oh, they do theys searchin’ alright! They find out he be a sepertist at heart—an’ th’ papers ’cuzed him o’ bein’ what they called an anti-abul-ish-u-nust jedge. But all this comes out later—a’ter the trial. All I knowed, bein’ a fourteen-year ol’, was the look o’ thet jedge, all high ’n mighty … th’ proud look o’ him. Oh ... th’ way his eyes got all caught up in mine once’t—an’ it leaved a greasy swaller abacka my throat. A hog c’n waller in th’ mud day n’ night, but when theys a county fair … him what
owns ’im, c’n scrub ’im blue-ribbon purty, but he still be a hog unnerneath it all.

REPORTER:
(showing signs of impatience)
I—yes, I get the picture.

FANNY:
I’s sittin’ ’longside Mama. Now, Daddy—he be sittin' alone in the seats fer witnesses.

(Beat)
Now, don't rek'lect I e’er tell y’all ’bout Mama afore.

REPORTER:
(Glancing at his pocket watch)
Ummm, geez, Miss Fanny ...

FANNY:
(Looking askance at him)
’S’important though. See, Mama—she’s a mite dim. Alwes’d been a mite dim—but worst—oh a lot worst since Daddy’d got hissef mixed up in all this. She kep’ on nudgin’ me an’ sayin’,
“We best go home now, Fanny, an’ git th’ dinner goin’ fer Josiah.” Josiah, he be my brother, sixteen, who ’as watchin’ atter the stock an’ stuff. An’ hims not much brighter’n Mama. Daddy alles say, Th’ Lord gotta be lookin’ after yer mama an’ brother … but Fanny, The Lord still leaves a mighty burden fer you’n me to tend to.
(Beat)
Now, when Mama tells me ’bout leavin’, she don’ unnerstan’ ’bout no whisprin’, so I jes nudges her back an’ says all down low,
Hesh, Mama, hesh. We’s a stayin’. I knowed I had t’ be th’ mama sometimes—an’ this be one of ’em.

REPORTER:
I didn’t know, Miss Fanny—I’m sorry.

(Beat)
Erm … So … the trial started? And …?

FANNY:
Now you jes hesh, yeself, young man …

(A smile works its way through)
I ain’t fergot th’ trial! T’jedge, he claps his mallet atop his table an’ calls fer quiet. An’ it got midnight still. He d’rected th’ ’tornies to stand an’ he tol’ th’ jury which be arguin’ fer the Army o’ Uriel an’ which be arguin’ fer th’ dead Tom Albright. Then th’ one fer th’ Army sits down, an’ ’Lizabeth’s ’torney, he stays standin’ there lookin’ up at th’ jedge an’ thankin’ him. Then he percedes to walk up an’ down afront o’ the jury an’ tells ’em what he aims t’ do an’ how he aims t’ prove that th’ Army—they lynched Tom Albright—an’ they did it without prawv-uh-ca-shun.

REPORTER:
That must have been terribly dramatic for a fourteen-year-old girl to watch.


FANNY:
T’were thet. You want I should go on?


REPORTER:
Of course, Miss Fanny.


FANNY:
T’other one, th’ one fer the Army—he gits up an’ he does th’ same. An’ he sits down. As I rek’lect, seemed t’ me, t’one canceled out t’other.

(Beat)
So, ’Lizabeth’s ’torney, he calls up Daddy fer his witness.

REPORTER:
Your daddy, right off the bat …


FANNY:
(After a loud release of her breath and a slow shake of her head)
They be no other, what they call
mut-teer-yal witness, young man. He try to bring up ’Lizabeth later, but her test’mony be called hearsay on account o’ she be fainted an’ couldn’t witness nuthin’. An’ Juni—she be too young to be what they call cred-a-bul.

REPORTER:
Miss Fanny? Um-um—never mind.


FANNY:
Y’all thinkin’ it—might as well say it.


REPORTER:
It’s just that … well … Miss Fanny, this happened, what, seventy-one years ago and you were a child of fourteen. How did you remember all those legal words, like material witness and … and hearsay, and …

(Glancing at his tablet)
… oh, and credible?

FANNY:
Ain’t no idjut, Robert! 


REPORTER:
Well, no … I know you’re not, Miss Fanny. You know I know you’re not!


FANNY:
’Asides I had some hep. Theys a Mister Jenkins from th’ Chicago Times—he be there from th’ beginnin’ o’ th’ trial. An’ atter the trial’s over he spent some time interviewin’ Missus Albright fer his story. Then they’s his newspaper story itsef. He be sittin’ in the back o’ th’ courtroom—kindly like you, Robert, with his pencil an’ his tablet. An’ by the end o' theys first recess, Mister Jenkins—he’s done gone an’ telegraphed some others with theys pencils an’ theys tablets. An’ durin’ what th’ jedge called recess, they be gittin’ theys heads t’gether ’n chitterin’ like prairie dogs. But it was thet Mister Jenkins what be the first an’ he be the one what tracked down ’bout th’ honer-bull Jedge Weitherton’s leanin’s.


REPORTER:
(Clearing his throat)
The, um … the prosecuting attorney, then … he called your daddy to the stand?

FANNY:
Yessir. An’ Daddy looked all nervous like, sittin’ there, an’ th’ ’torney, he asks Daddy to look at th’ five o’ them what be sittin’ at the long table. An’ he pointed at th’ end one an’ he ast Daddy if he knowed who he was. I see Daddy’s Adam's apple goin’ up ’n down with his swallowin’ afore he says, “That man is Thurston Flourney.” An’ he goes on with e’ry one of ’em—though he didn’t know theys names. These the ones what blacked Daddy’s eyes atter one o’ his meetin’s, then come back t’ Daddy in two days with Thurston Flourney an’ his prop-oh-zish-un—thet bein’ thet Daddy convince Mister Albright t’ come outen his house so’s they c’n scare th’ bejesus outten him.


REPORTER:
(Smiling at her words but then his voice taking on a serious tone)
So all that came out about your daddy’s beatings when Elizabeth’s attorney asked him to identify the members of the
Army of Uriel?

FANNY:
’Course not. You know that ain’t how procedin’s go. But it all come out when he ast Daddy how he knowed they ’as Army of Uriel members.


REPORTER:
Okay … But did Elizabeth’s attorney probe any more about why your daddy felt coerced, beyond his blackened eyes, to go along with their prank.


FANNY:
Ahhh, yeeeees, Robert. I rek'lect you took a fancy to believin’ I’s leavin’ somethin’ out when I telled you ’afore. ’Member, though, how I telled you Mama an’ me first heered ’bout it at th’ trial. Daddy tried t’ keep us from th’ hurt of it. ’Member? ’Member that? 


REPORTER:
I do remember that, Miss Fanny.


FANNY:
An’ though it be sev’nty one years ago I c’n rek'lect like it’s yesterday when he looked o’er at Mama ’n me at the trial—those sad brown eyes near swimmin'—afore he answered why he agreed t’ hep ’em. Th’ Army say as how they jes tryin’ t’ scare Mister Albright ’nuff to get some money fer th’
Army. ’Cause he’s rich an’ all. An’ they need Daddy’s hep fer th’ inter-duck-shun. An’ if’n Daddy didn’t hep, why theys gonna take theys rath out on Mama … an’ me … an’ Josiah. An’ they gonna make Daddy watch it all. Then theys gonna kill Daddy.
(Beat)
You be married, Robert?

REPORTER:
Yes.


FANNY:
Chil’ren?


REPORTER:
Three.


[They stare at each other in silence.]
 
INTERMISSION



Recognized

#1
May
2022


AN APOLOGY TO THE READER: This and the next scene are probably the most important scenes of the entire play. It would be best if it were read all of a piece. The reality is, though, that it would be so long that only the masochists among you would read it. Therefore, I must have one (and possibly two) intermissions before the final curtain.

On the other hand, to offer them in three separate posts requires me to accumulate enough member bucks to adequately promote each one. Plays have a hard time attracting an "audience" as they are. NOT to have each placed high on page one would be tantamount to a death warrant. Since I take my reviewing (to earn those bucks) seriously, and spend a lot of time on them, I won't be able to post my play weekly. Those are just realities I must live with.

I hope you live with them patiently and kindheartedly, as well.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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© Copyright 2022. Jay Squires All rights reserved.
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