INT. SUNSET INN AGAIN—NIGHT 1965

It’s not much of a stage.  More just a place in the corner for musical instruments.  But that’s okay because David Threnody doesn’t need that much.  Just a chair and a microphone.  His Gibson ES-150 plugged and amped.  He sits near the door that leads to the back, to the men’s and women’s restrooms and the kitchen—the back fire escape.  He’s the only black man up front.  Occasionally a black busboy comes up front to clean off tables.  He also serves as the dishwasher, his only other companion, also black, the cook in the kitchen.  She’s a fry cook.  A fast order cook—the menu in the bar limited.  For a moment you see that back door, the back door from the kitchen and the fire escape that leads to the room upstairs—Maddie’s room.  You see Benjy climbing those stairs sometimes two or three at a time.  Coming to the door and knocking.

Maddie is sitting at the bar.  Some tables behind her where patrons are eating.  You see the two other employees of the establishment.  Cassie, short for Cassandra, tending bar.  And Jo, short for Johanna, the waitress taking orders from the tables.  Maddie sits next to the waitress stand, near the taps of the draft beer.  While the white girls have customers to tend to, they always come back to where Maddie sits and congregate there for a moment.

CASSIE

(looking over at David)

How long is he in town?

MADDIE

He came to see his kids.  His daughter is in the Homecoming Parade.

CASSIE

Not the one tomorrow?

MADDIE

No… the one for her school.  After the football game…

JO

(putting the drinks Cassie poured on a tray)

Yeah…  we don’t expect to win.

CASSIE

Doesn’t it ever bother you?  The secrets?  Not from the town, but from him?

MADDIE

He ain’t around much…  And the town already knows everything.

CASSIE

You’re a bad girl…

MADDIE

Why? Because I know what I want and know who I am?

Jo puts the tray of drinks up on her shoulder.  She has a white rag draped over her other shoulder.  She takes it off and fans Maddie as she walks away.  David’s in the middle of a riff and lets out a low moan accented by the chords.

JO

You better cool off girl.  That man’s trouble and so is his son.

Maddie twirls the straw in her drink.  The ice cubes haven’t melted yet.

MADDIE

I’ll try to remember…  We got rights now you now.  Just like he’s getting rights for himself and his kids.  We live in more civilized world now–don’t you know that?

CASSIE

(dumping an ash tray)

Yeah…  but what you’re doing is as old as the hills.

David is closing out his song.  His left hand moves quickly along the lower frets.

DAVID

(singing and moaning)

I said I… I… I… I don’t want trouble…

MADDIE

(talking over the applause she doesn’t join)

The unconfident just think the confident are evil.  And I ain’t talkin’ about the snooty fuckers.  The ones with money and privilege.  Like some of the folks in here listening to him play going back to their nice homes leavin’ his tip jar empty.  And it ain’t about city folks and country folks neither—what’s in each of their diets.  You’re either Christian or you’re a competitor.  Proud of tradition or enlightened by sophistication.  But either way you can have the upper hand—be the better one—the winner.  It’s the immediate game.  The bluff and fold.  Don’t matter about the cards.  It’s the look in your eye when you don’t feel fear and you see what someone else has to lose.  It’s about dignity.  Folks wanna call that good or bad—fine…  I guess I’m just a bad girl…

The front door opens.  Dulcinea runs in with a look of distraught a strap on her dress torn ignoring the faces of the white patrons upset at her entrance.  Maddie and Cassie watch from the bar.  Jo holds a plate in her hand she’s about to serve.  David puts his guitar down and steps off the stage to hug his daughter.

DULCINEA

Daddy!  He!  Aaron!  I went to his room—Momma’s nephew! And…!

DAVID

Hush now girl!  It’ll be alright.  Let’s go back.  Go back in the kitchen and talk it over… Alright?

David puts his arm around his girl and ushers her to the back door.  Dulcinea is crying in his shoulder.  Maddie watches them leave.  She turns back to her drink.  She twirls the straw around in the ice cubes for a moment and then slowly takes the straw out and rests it on the bar.

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