Mr. Drumstick Claims His Own

(A stone lion against a blue backdrop. )

(ESTHER, 70s, sits away from the statue, staring complacently into space. She is wearing a flower dress and straw hat and colored glasses. )

(A grimy GRAVE-DIGGER drags a punk TEENAGE BOY and slams him against the side of the lion. ESTHER is on the other side, oblivious.)

GRAVE-DIGGER

How many degrees removed are we now?

BOY

It's just bills man, time passes.

GRAVE-DIGGER

You little fuck-head! There are two transactions here. I fronted you, then you fronted me. But both of us are still in the red with Mr. Drumstick.

BOY

Two more weeks, it'll be the middle of the month, I won't have shit to pay . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

I am going to plow this shovel into your throat so hard it'll wedge in the lion and hold your head like a serving dish!

(ESTHER sneezes into her elbow, mouselike, takes a dainty rose-embroidered handkerchief, dabs at her lips, then resumes her former posture.)

(The GRAVE-DIGGER freezes while holding a shovel up to the boy's throat. He motions to the shovel with his head and the boy takes it from him, still keeping the point at his neck.)

(The GRAVE-DIGGER tosses his hat away, takes off his vest and tucks in his shirt with large fistfuls. He licks the hand he just put down his pants and slicks his hair back. Still a mess, he straightens his posture and approaches ESTHER.)

GRAVE-DIGGER (Continued)

Ah, good afternoon Ms. Esther.

(GRAVE-DIGGER tries to remove his hat but doesn't have one)

ESTHER

Afternoon, I barely recognized you without your shovel.

GRAVE-DIGGER

It's indisposed for the moment. Thought I'd take a little walk.

ESTHER

I'd like that.

(GRAVE-DIGGER helps her to her feet. They link arms, she turns toward the BOY and GRAVE-DIGGER turns her around.)

GRAVE-DIGGER

Hear a mighty winds a' comin'.

ESTHER

Don't hear, understand.

GRAVE-DIGGER

How's that ma'am?

ESTHER

Listen, listen. I suppose we all must start somewhere.

GRAVE-DIGGER

That's the only way I hear things, is by listening.

ESTHER

So don't listen for the weather, that's a waste of your young ears.

GRAVE-DIGGER

Much too kind, too kind.

ESTHER

When the sky is empty, like today, there's a ring. An echo in a hollow bowl, only it's not a sound but a reverberation and it bears news from as far as the sky is empty.

GRAVE-DIGGER

So it uh, reads you reports?

ESTHER

No silly. You don't read a ripple on a lake or a color on a leaf.

(The boy has lowers the shovel as they turn round again and he approaches the GRAVE-DIGGER.)

ESTHER (Continued)

Oh look, he's found your shovel. You must have left it by your last plot, sticking up like a flower.

BOY

Look man, I gotta go, we got a meeting with . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

I've told you scum a thousand times to stay away! This is a place of grieving . . . 

BOY

It's Mr. Drumstick, you better be there man . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

. . . not a dance house!

BOY

He'll come for you . . .

ESTHER

Such frightful clatter!

BOY

Whatever he does to me, he'll come for you . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

Enough! You're upsetting the lady. My sincerest apologies Ms. Esther.

ESTHER

Such shouting, even for my old ears . . .

BOY

I'm warning you he'll let me go before . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

How would you like the handle of this shovel sticking out of your guts like a cock from your belly button?

(snatches his shovel back)

ESTHER

Gentlemen excuse me, I would like one of you to hold my hat.

GRAVE-DIGGER

Of course ma'am . . .

ESTHER

Not you . . .

(warmer)

You've got a shovel. The young gentleman.

BOY

Gosh I - of course ma'am.

(ESTHER hands her hat to the BOY who placidly grins at the GRAVE-DIGGER)

ESTHER

(to GRAVE-DIGGER)

I think you're right. About the wind.

GRAVE-DIGGER

(to BOY)

Don't you have somewhere to be?

BOY

I think there's only one place where the wind won't get us.

(He draws their attention to the lion. The three of them move to its side.)

ESTHER

Now who is this Mr. Drum-Stick?

(BOY and GRAVE-DIGGER exchange glances)

BOY

Well, he . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

Sometimes there's a . . .

BOY

What I mean is . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

We . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER AND BOY

Don't rightly know ma'am.

ESTHER

Is that so? He seems awfully important.

(The backdrop behind them grows gray, like thunderclouds)

BOY

He's a man I do some work for. One of the many bosses in this world.

ESTHER

You've never met him though?

BOY

Can't say I have.

GRAVE-DIGGER

Today was the day.

(BOY grips ESTHER'S hat as the wind picks up.)

BOY

I'm sure he'll understand.

GRAVE-DIGGER

He's taller than life.

BOY

And roars to wake the dead.

ESTHER

I think you're both very nice boys. I'm sorry for the foul weather. You know, my Roy - he's who I come here to visit - although it's been so many years, my Roy used to get so angry about losing direction he became convinced that the world was trying to drive him insane. Or at least, the people who make the maps.

GRAVE-DIGGER

I do fondly remember his internment ma'am.

ESTHER

And yet we never seem to make it back . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

Foul weather . . .

BOY

I've got a meeting . . .

GRAVE-DIGGER

Something always comes up . . .

ESTHER

I know it's around here somewhere . . .

(A crack of thunder silences them all and the wind picks up to unspeakable levels. Fade to black.)