Alright… what do you men know about it… 

You! Tell me!


     The drill sergeant gets in a soldier’s face.



          I think he got bit, Sarge…


     More snickers can be heard.



          Bit?  What the hell do you mean?  He got bit?



          Love bit, Sarge…


More snickers.  Someone whispers, almost inaudible: “Here Kitty, Kitty!” And full laughter breaks out in the barracks.  Male laughter.  Loud.  And harmless.



          Shit…  Damn fool.  Just a damn fool… Alright.

          We got another one AWOL.  Get dressed, men.

          PT in five minutes… 




Music.  Blues music—an electric guitar and harmonica—can be heard coming from inside.  A neon sign flickers.  Reading: Brother Bill’s Thrill. A jeep pulls up. Two soldiers getting out wearing the black armbands that identify them as Military Police. They walk to the door


MP #1

          I don’t get this music…


MP #2

          That’s because you have to be colored…




DAVID THRENODY and JOHNNY TRIBOUT sit opposite of each other on their bunks.  You see them through the bars.  Johnny is shining his shoes.  His boots.  A harmonica lays on the bed beside him.



          And that’s one thing that wasn’t segregated

          back in those days.  There ain’t no black jail

          and white jail—it’s just a jail.  A cell shared… 

          That’s how we met.  How we got to be friends.

          Because when those cops came in they broke up

          my set—looking for him.  And the girl—Nina…

          Normally I don’t let folks just sit in with me,

          especially a white boy.  But when he came up to

          the stage with that mouth harp—his girl watching—

          I figured what the hell…




David has a small stage in the corner.  Near the rear exit to the bar.  The back room where the cooler is.  Where the beer kegs are kept.  The place isn’t that crowded.  And the audience is white.  A couple of regular drunks sitting on stools up at the bar.  Some tables in the center of the room.  Some of the men sitting at them in uniform.  For this is a roadhouse just outside the base.  Most of the clientele military men and the girls that associate with them—some whores, and some that just like a man in uniform.



          It was a Saturday night and I was on a weekend

          furlough.  The thing is—he wasn’t.  He was

          restricted to the base.  See, the father already

          had his suspicions.  That’s why he was on KP

          duty.  But I guess that didn’t stop him.  Or her.

          And maybe I wouldn’t have helped, or let him sit

          in with me if I had known.  Known she was the

          base commander’s daughter…


David hunches over his guitar, sitting on a chair on the stage.  Johnny stands beside him with his harmonica to his mouth.  And they play off each other.  David’s left hand moving quickly up and down the frets.  Johnny cupping his harmonica with his hands.  Sweat on their foreheads.  Their faces concentrated.  David’s right foot tapping out the beat. NINA sits at one of the tables.  Alone.  A full beer bottle in front of her.  A beer she hasn’t drank.


The two MP’s walk in.  Nina is the first to see them. A faint almost indiscernible smile crosses her face as she turns back to Johnny.  But David and Johnny have their heads down—busy with what they’re playing.



          And I guess I could have stayed out of it.  I

          could have just let them take him.  But we were

          playin’ good—ya know.  And I never liked that—

          being interrupted.  Being interrupted in something

          I was trying to make perfect.  And there was

          perfection there—I sensed it.  It was happening,

          and it was improvised…  That’s the thing, you see,

          in any work you do—it’s not someone else coming

          along and saying you did it right.  It’s you that’s

          got to finish it.  Finish it your way.  Even in the

          mistakes you’re aware of.  You got to finish it. 

          So you know—you know you did good…  And when those  

          cops came in and broke into the sound it wasn’t

          finished.  And when they said stop the nigger

          music… well… I guess I just saw red…




          Sorry about your guitar…



          Ah… that’s alright…  I stole it anyway.  The

          last time I was here.  The last time I was in

          Mississippi…  So you gonna tell me about it?






          You know what… the girl.