Dramatic Texts >> Nishan Parlakian >> Grandma, Pray for me

GRANDMA, PRAY FOR ME by Nishan Parlakian
 
Characters
MICKEY
GRANDMA
DIAMOND
PEARL
AGATE
DEACON
VIRGIL
DR. CYCLOPES
DR. ACHILLES
DOCTOR
ATTENDENTS
 
Setting
The main action of the play takes place in a ground floor living room and outside yard of a two-story house, a little world apart from the world. In the yard are hedges, flowers, (i small fence. A wooden stairway leads to the unseen apartment above. In the living room there are a doorway leading to the kitchen and an archway through which other rooms may be reached. The period furniture is well-worn. Doilies decorate the soft chairs and the sofa.
 
Prologue
(MICKEY as an older man, is lighted in a natural part of the stage. He wears a raincoat and hat. As he approaches the audience, appropriate elements of scenery and characters become illuminated as though a memory of his past takes on life again.)


MICKEY
Every now and then I drive off the highway before leaving the city for my home in the suburbs. A kind of
unconscious impulse takes over and I always end up here — at the beginning. I walk down this street — it's all changed now.
New people. Abandoned houses. Years ago I lived here on this street. In this house. There's nobody here now. But I remember when it throbbed with life. It was a different kind of time. Laundry hung on back yard lines, push cart vendors lined the curbs, doctors actually made house calls. I was born here out of a need—how shall I put it — it was a need for the decimated Armenian people to live on after the holocaust of 1915. God tossed them to the far corners of the earth. My people came to America. Early on, hard working men like my father - Deacon as he was familiarly called — had little time for writing poetry. (Illuminate DEACON.) Somehow he made time between midnight and dawn to express his deepest thoughts.Mom worked hard too, marketing, cooking, cleaning (Illuminate DIAMOND.) And so did Agate the widow in the apartment above us living on a small pension. (Illuminate AGATE.) Her daughter Pearl became a typist right after graduating high school. (Illuminate PEARL.)And I finally buckled down too, even though I had poetic inclinations like my father. The same faith that pulled Armenians through the centuries guided our family through those prayerful days of my youth. Prayer — GRANDMA convinced us that prayer had more power than medicine. I see her there framed in the window fingering her beads and reading her Bible. (Illuminate GRANDMA.) On a sunny morning, I would call to her. — "GRANDMA, come out into the sun!"
Blackout
 

 
Act I
When the lights come up, we are in the past. MICKEY as a young man (raincoat and hat discarded), moves into the scene. It is a morning many years ago. The sun shines brightly. In the yard, MICKEY looks into the sky and stretches. GRANDMA sits in the darker living room knitting.
 
MICKEY
Grandma, come out into the sun!

 
GRANDMA
Let me finish my work.

 
MICKEY
Come out. You need the sun.

 
GRANDMA
Without it there is no life.
 

MICKEY
Everybody knows that.
 

GRANDMA
Only when you ask them.
 

MICKEY
How can you get well without the sun?
 

GRANDMA
My time for getting well is gone.
 

MICKEY
I'll open your folding chair for you.
 

GRANDMA
I used to sit in the sun for hours with you. In that chair. Your father brought it when he saw one day I
was old. I used to wheel your carriage to the sun to make you strong. And I sat in that chair. But that chair is good for the young, hard for the old.
 

MICKEY
You're not old, Grandma.
 

GRANDMA
These white hairs mean I know something. I know I am old. The old know such things.
 

MICKEY
What things do they know?
 

GRANDMA
At the door of death they know all of life.
 

MICKEY
Then you can't know much.
 

GRANDMA
I know that every day is a day to live.
 

MICKEY
Everybody knows that.
 

GRANDMA
Not until you ask them. Do you know it? Do von know it today?
 

MICKEY
Today I thought I'd think.
 

GRANDMA
And yesterday?

 
MICKEY
I thought.

 
GRANDMA
And tomorrow?
 

MICKEY
I need more time. Everything is disconnected and sad.
 

GRANDMA
Keep sad thinking for night.
 

MICKEY
Don't you see, Grandma? I've got to think things through, I've got to find my place in the sun.
 

GRANDMA
You'll find it in the moon.
 

MICKEY
But today is different. I feel it. Today something is going to happen. Today I'm going to find my way.
 

GRANDMA
Today is a beacon day. It tells you once again that you are alive.
 

MICKEY
I know I'm alive.
 

GRANDMA
Not many people do.
 

MICKEY
Everybody knows they're alive.
 

GRANDMA
Only when you ask them. Only then. In the old country, in Armenia, called Turkey, I was born—who knows what day. But as I grew older, I learned I needed a birthday. A day to celebrate life. Give this birthday of yours to life. It helps you remember to live for all your days.
 

MICKEY
What are you trying to tell me, Grandma?
 

GRANDMA
Life is a gold coin for every breath.
 

MICKEY
I know that, Grandma.
 

GRANDMA
Not many people do. And by the time they learn, it is too late.
 

MICKEY
Oh Grandma, do you really know me? My feelings, my thoughts, I'm not like other men.
 

GRANDMA
All grass is green.
 

MICKEY
What are you trying to tell me, Grandma?
 

GRANDMA
You are a seed which has not taken root. Our life is not stone which stands for centuries. Flesh goes fast.
 

MICKEY
Wait!
 

GRANDMA
I wait and I pray. Whatever you have done, I have prayed. But you confuse the angels.
 

MICKEY
Where have I gone wrong?
 

GRANDMA
My boy, we have come to this earth to go to death in pain. Adam gave it to us. Not many people know that.
 

MICKEY
Everybody knows that.
 

GRANDMA
Ask them and see. I read it in the Bible in the warmer season when more light comes through the window. My father used to tell me not to fear around this time of year that the days were getting short. He used to say a lighter season would come again. If it comes again for me, I will read again and I will pray for you. But if it does not come, I cannot pray.
 

MICKEY
Grandma, pray for me.
 

GRANDMA
Winter is coming. I want you to buy a coat. (She puts her hand under the cushion of her chair and pulls out a piece of folded newspaper. She hands it to MICKEY.) Open it. (He does and holds up a gold bead necklace.) It is gold. Buy your coat with it.
 

MICKEY
I can't take it.
 

GRANDMA
Take it from your grandfather. He gave it to me when we were married. We were not rich, but we were not poor. You should have seen our house. It was not on the top of the hill and not on the bottom. It was in the middle. I wore those beads of gold to the cathedral. I was a golden girl and had other things of gold. My husband gave them all to me. He would have given me more, but they killed him when he was young.
 

MICKEY
I'll use it when I need it.
 

GRANDMA
I will put it on the bottom of my chest again. When I die, Mickey, you will find other things there I want you to have. There are the pictures of my daughter and her two little sons. They were killed in the genocide. The children would have been married now. There would have been the children of children.
 

MICKEY
I'll have children, someday.
 

GRANDMA
Buy the coat first. Earn the money for your marriage.
 

MICKEY
If I wanted to get married, I'd get married, I don't need money to get married.
 

GRANDMA
Yes, that is what they tell me. People borrow to live. The systems change. In my time I went with a good dowry to my husband. Find a girl with a good dowry.
 

MICKEY
Wait. Wait a little longer.
 

GRANDMA
I am a dried grape. I am but today's guest.
 

MICKEY
Stay for tomorrow.
 

GRANDMA
I am tomorrow's stranger.
 

MICKEY
Never to me.
 

GRANDMA
A spinning comes in my head when I go from room to room. It will bring me down some day. Last
year I could dry your mother's dishes. This year a dizziness comes over me. And my eyes. I am almost blind. And my feet... they can hardly carry me. There are only small things left for me to do. I can still pray over my beads. I pray for you.
 

MICKEY
What are you trying to say?
 

GRANDMA
Is the upstairs one in your eye?
 

MICKEY
I don't know.
 

GRANDMA
Does she favor you?
 

MICKEY
I don't know.
 

GRANDMA
I've seen you talking to her.
 

MICKEY
But not about getting married.
 

GRANDMA
I have heard that you showed her around the town.
 

MICKEY
We took a walk. This isn't the old country. People fall in love before they get married.
 

GRANDMA
The systems change. When my husband was killed I knew I loved him. I never walked with him before we were married. He had seen me drawing water from the village well.
 

MICKEY
That's what I mean. He was like a stranger.
 

GRANDMA
He was a neighbor and a countryman. In those days that is all an eligible man had to be.
 

MICKEY
You wouldn't want me to marry the upstairs one, would you? You said her mother was evil eyeing me.
 

GRANDMA
But I know all about the mother. Marry her daughter and she will bless you.
 

MICKEY
I haven't asked her to go out again.
 

GRANDMA
I know. I know. You have no coat and you are ashamed.
 
(DIAMOND, MICKEY's mother, enters.)

 

MICKEY
The question is, grandma: Will I be happy if I marry her?
 

DIAMOND
Who are you marrying?
 

MICKEY
No one.
 

DIAMOND
Who is "her"?
 

MICKEY
Pearl, upstairs.
 

DIAMOND
You wouldn't want to marry her.
 

GRANDMA
You might.
 

DIAMOND
She's not good enough for you.
 

GRANDMA
She is old with the old and young with the young.
 

DIAMOND
She isn't your type.
 

GRANDMA
She has a sweet face and obedient manners.
 

DIAMOND
There are better faces and manners.
 

GRANDMA
For birds with brighter plumes.
 

MICKEY
Talk to her, ma.
 

DIAMOND
I can't talk to your grandmother sometimes.
 

MICKEY
Talk to her.
 

GRANDMA
Diamond, I am going to talk to you.
 

DIAMOND
I'm not talking to you these days.
 

GRANDMA
My ear is so old I have not missed you.
 

DIAMOND
I'll talk to you if you'll listen.
 

GRANDMA
My ear is brittle, Diamond, but it can bend to you a little.
 

DIAMOND
Let my boy alone. Let him enjoy his one life.


GRANDMA
Let him.
 

DIAMOND
But you don't. You want him to marry Pearl.
 

GRANDMA
He has walked with her in town. Everybody has seen him.
 

DIAMOND
So they walked. He must walk with many to find the one. Because we didn't do what he must do, we have not gone forward.
 

GRANDMA
Where would we have gone?
 

DIAMOND
Where are we? Still in these walls, only with more years.
 

GRANDMA
And my son's years. His son's years. And yes, Diamond . . . your years too.
 

DIAMOND
You had no right to my years.
 

GRANDMA
I'm sorry I took them. But God knows there is a reason. I know, I know I have bruised your heart these years. I wish time could flow back for you and for me smooth out this curled flesh. But your years were good to me and I grew to love you.
 

DIAMOND
Oh, momma, momma, I came to you an orphan. I came to you hungry for love. And I married you not your son. And you took those young years. I hated you for taking them caring for you. But now your wrinkled face is familiar to me like one washing hand is to another. And I love you. I hate you and I love you.
 

GRANDMA
Soon, soon I will be gone from your eyes and only love will remain in your heart for me.
 

DIAMOND
Don't go old woman. But let me run my house at least. My sin has brought me you, but let my son be.
 

GRANDMA
He is where he has always been.
 

DIAMOND
There is time for him to see the world.
 

GRANDMA
Let him take to his hands and feet. You are not with him forever.
 

DIAMOND
I will prepare my son.
 

GRANDMA
And who will prepare for his son?
 

DIAMOND
He will learn.
 

GRANDMA
His eyes are closed. He has no place to turn.
 

DIAMOND
You're starting things all over again!
 

MICKEY
Don't argue. Listen to me. Listen, momma, listen.


GRANDMA (They turn to him.)
I've been offered a job. I mean it. It's with Best Way Foods, a frozen shish kebab outfit. It could have a great future. I'd be a kind of billing clerk in the stock room.
 

DIAMOND
You don't have to take it.
 

GRANDMA
Take it, today.
 

MICKEY
Not today, Grandma
 

GRANDMA
Then there is no job.
 

MICKEY
There is. There is. All I have to do is make a phone call.
 

GRANDMA
Then call. Call.
 

DIAMOND
Mickey, we need bread.
 

MICKEY
Right away, ma. (He goes to the door.) I need money.
 

DIAMOND
(Hands MICKEY a bill.) Buy some canned goods, sugar, and eggs, too. (MICKEY goes out.) Come have breakfast.
 

GRANDMA
I have had mine. The coffee is made. The honey and olives are on the table.

 
DIAMOND
Thank you, momma.

 
GRANDMA
Diamond.
 

DIAMOND
Yes.
 

GRANDMA
Today is Mickey's birthday.
 

DIAMOND
Do you want me to get a present for him?
 

GRANDMA (Displays her knitting.)
No, I am almost finished with this.
 

DIAMOND
That's good, momma. It has a pretty design . (She turns to leave.)
 

GRANDMA
Diamond
 

DIAMOND
Yes, momma.
 

GRANDMA
Deacon never had a birthday. As you know, all I remember is that he was born in April one week after Easter. It was in a year there was a flood. The waters washed the houses away. But our house remained because we were not near the water. We were not too high on a slope, but enough. You should have seen the sight. Even the heavy bread ovens went. And with them the hot breads, too. You can see it was April because the rains came and swelled the Kizil Irmak, the red river that ran through Sivas.
 

DIAMOND
I know, momma. The floods came and then the fire, the genocide and the slaughter of millions of us Armenians. The faces of my mother and father are faint memories. I was so young.
 

GRANDMA
I know, Diamond.
 

DIAMOND
Knit, momma. Knit your twine glove, your toufa, for Mickey's birthday. He will scrub his back with it and it will comfort him.
 

GRANDMA
I knit. But the light of my eye fails.
 

DIAMOND
Then stop, momma. Stop and think of more stories to tell.
 
(DIAMOND goes out. GRANDMA begins to knit. PEARL, the girl who lives above comes down the stairs and looks in through the window of the living room.)
 

PEARL
Hello, Grandma.
 

GRANDMA
Hello, young girl. Are you going to work so early?
 

PEARL
It's not really that early.
 

GRANDMA
Ah yes, autumn mornings seem early.
 

PEARL
What are you knitting?
 

GRANDMA
This is for Mickey's birthday.
 

PEARL (grimacing)
Is it today?
 

GRANDMA
Yes, today. Ah, why that face? What is it?
 

PEARL
I was thinking I don't get paid until tomorrow.
 

GRANDMA
Give him this. (She extends the wash cloth.)
 

PEARL
Would it be right?
 

GRANDMA
How old are you?
 

PEARL
Almost eighteen.
 

GRANDMA
You are not young, anymore.
 

PEARL
Oh, I know. I know.
 

GRANDMA
I had a child at your age. It takes a marriage to make a girl blossom.
 

PEARL
Did he love you?
 

GRANDMA
My husband? I had hair like yours once. It was not so light. But it was lighter than any other girl's around. They called me golden girl. I used to come from the public baths with my cheeks red from the steaming waters. I used to wear a fine cloth lined with beads of gold around my head. They used to whisper in the streets: Here comes the golden girl. My husband gave me the head cloth. I obeyed him. I took care of his grandfather. He was so old I had to lead him around by the hand. I lit his pipe with a magnifying glass held to the sun. And I bore the sons of the son of the son of that man. I took their generations unto myself. By all this, I mean to say I know my husband loved me.


PEARL
Did my father love my mother?
 

GRANDMA
You see, my girl, he died too soon. I know what your mother is like. She was like a second daughter to me. Now she lets her tub overflow. Our ceiling was dripping yesterday.
 

PEARL
She's been angry these last few days.
 

GRANDMA
When she thinks of your father she becomes angry with me.
 

PEARL
She talks with her head turned away and her eyes on me.
 

GRANDMA
That is one of the ways of the eye. Something disturbs her my girl. She married an unhealthy man. She soured when he died.
 

PEARL
Grandma, she'll never let me get married.
 

GRANDMA
There is nothing to be afraid of. You will not grow row sour or stale. Your mother has not thrown her head in here in days. I know she was well yesterday. Her line of clothes was long. How is she today?
 

AGATE (off)
Pearl!
 

GRANDMA
She sounds well.
 

PEARL
How does she know I'm here?
 

GRANDMA
That Agate. Her nose takes smells. And her ears take sounds. The devil can do those things.
 

PEARL
She always makes me go to work early to impress the boss. Goodbye, Grandma.
 

AGATE(Catches Pearl about to leave.)
Ah, ha. So you aren't gone yet.
 

PEARL
It was so early. I decided to talk to Grandma.
 

AGATE
She's no relation of yours. She is not your grandmother. What were you whispering about?
 

GRANDMA
We were whispering like all natural things do. What do trees do in a breeze, Agate? What do they whisper about? They whisper.
 

AGATE
Go to work. You must never be late.
 

GRANDMA
She is a responsible girl. She knows the time.
 

AGATE
My daughter won't be like your lazy grandson who gets up at noon.
 

PEARL
Momma.
 

AGATE
Am I to hear something from you?
 

PEARL
Talk nice.
 

AGATE
Your father is dead. We need the money you earn. Go to work. (PEARL goes off, holding back her tears.) Are you trying to turn my daughter's mind?
 

GRANDMA
Surely, not me, Agate.
 

AGATE
Don't try it, momma.
 

GRANDMA
Her mind is hers.
 

AGATE
Her mind is mine. I didn't know your grandson was courting my daughter in secret.
 

GRANDMA
Who knows secrets?
 

AGATE
It was those summer months, and those dresses with the open armpits and the low fronts. I wish winter would come quickly.
 

GRANDMA
It comes quickly enough for some of us.
 

AGATE
That's good. They won't be able to sit in the parks ... or go to the roof. You don't know I suppose. They were coming down from the roof two weeks ago.
 

GRANDMA
The stars are closer there.
 

AGATE
It's dark and lonely there, too. You can't get my daughter the way you got your Diamond.
 

GRANDMA
Mickey is a good boy. His face is comely.


AGATE
They are not for each other.
 

GRANDMA
Why, Agate?
 

AGATE
The why is mine. (Points to her heart.) In here.



GRANDMA
You are sour, Agate. Every year at this anniversary of your husband's death you become sour.


AGATE
Then I become sour. It's my right.


GRANDMA
But there's no need to trouble us all every year. Your husband is dead. My husband died when I was younger than you.
 

AGATE (Points to the archway in the apartment)
My husband could have been living now.
 

GRANDMA
That story is old, Agate. Too old to bring up.


AGATE
I can never forget it, momma. It's not in the mind. (Points to her heart in that classical way again.) It is here.


GRANDMA
And that is why I have had you over me all these years. Are you a curse Agate that every Monday we must get the water from your wash? Are you a curse that we must listen to your stampings and bangings?
 

AGATE
That could be, momma.You promised me and you took back your promise.
 

GRANDMA
It was just a way of talking.
 

AGATE
Over here it would have been a way of talking. But over there it was not a way of talking. Didn't I used to carry your
water for you from the village well. I used to sit by the well in the middle of the square over there, and wait for you to come every day. And didn't you used to say: My son is yours my little Agate.
 

GRANDMA
Then they killed my husband, my daughter and other sons and their children. I came here with only that
one son. You were late in coming here, my dear. I never knew if you would come or even if you were alive. He became of age
and even more and married. I tell you this it could be, for the last time. Hear it well and forgive and forget.
 

AGATE
Only death will make me forgive and forget.
 

GRANDMA
Death will. Ah. Ah.
 

DEACON (enters.)
Good morning, momma. Who are you talking to?
 

GRANDMA
Agate.
 

DEACON (Goes to the window and bends over to talk to Agate.)
Oh, hello, hello, Agate. How are you?
 

AGATE
Oh, well. How are you, Deacon?
 

DEACON
Not too well now that you ask.
 

AGATE
You look well.
 

DEACON
Do I?
 

AGATE
You color is good.
 

DEACON
Come in then a while. It's hard to see you bending like this.
 

AGATE
I have work upstairs.
 

DEACON
Come in for my sake for a little while only.
 

AGATE
All right, Deacon (She goes to the door.)
 

GRANDMA
Tell her about the ceiling.
 

DEACON
That's woman's business. (Agate enters.) Sit down. Sit down. That looks like a new dress.
 

GRANDMA
It has been on her line for a year.
 

DEACON
Your eyes are turning on you, momma. That looks like a new dress.
 

AGATE
You just haven't noticed it before, Deacon
 

DEACON
Perhaps.
 

AGATE
I like your tie.
 

DEACON
That's my taste.
 

AGATE
Yes, I like it.
 

DEACON
Diamond doesn't like it. It's a fitting tie to work in on a day like this.
 

AGATE
You don't usually go to work this early.
 

DEACON
There are a few orders I have to fill.
 

AGATE
How is work?
 

DEACON
Slow for us especially who are in our autumn years.
 

AGATE
You aren't old yet, Deacon
 

GRANDMA
If we get old should not our sons, Agate?
 

DEACON
That's true too, momma.
 

AGATE
Your son should be working at your side.
 

DEACON
I think he should. Yes. And I brought him in. liked it even less than I do. He quit in one week. What about your daughter? What does she do these days?
 

AGATE
She works.
 

DEACON
I see her sometimes in the morning. She is id looking girl.
 

AGATE
Your son is a good looking boy.
 

DEACON
But alas, he doesn't work.
 

AGATE
Maybe he will soon.
 

DEACON
If he did he could take my burden from me and marry your daughter, too.
 

AGATE
I don't know, Deacon
 

DEACON
You hurt me, Agate. After all we meant to each other. I thought some day our children could get married to each other.
 

AGATE
Oh, Deacon!
 

DEACON
Oh, Agate!
 

AGATE
Oh, Deacon!
 

DEACON
Agate, Agate, I would be a contented man if something went right. And I had thought our children marrying was the right way.
 

AGATE
Oh, Deacon, it could be.
 

DEACON
Do you think so, Agate?
 

AGATE
Momma says his looks are comely.
 

GRANDMA (to DEACON)
I have always said he looks like you. (DIAMOND enters unobserved.)
 

AGATE
And you look comely, Deacon
 

DEACON
Yes, you always said it.
 

AGATE
Even when I was young and used to carry momma's water.
 

DIAMOND
He is not so comely in his underwear.
 

DEACON
Good morning, Diamond. Agate says she likes the tie.
 

DIAMOND
She is thinking of twenty-five years ago. Yellow would have looked good on you then.Your breakfast is ready.
 

DEACON
Excuse me all. I must, as they say, fuel my body. (DEACON and DIAMOND exit to the kitchen.)
 

AGATE
Do you think your grandson will go to work with his father?
 

GRANDMA
If the wind blows that way.
 

AGATE
You ought to talk to him about it.
 

GRANDMA
Why, Agate?
 

AGATE
For his good.
 

GRANDMA
For his good, eh Agate. Well, I am not certain, Agate. His mother tells me not to talk to her son.
 

AGATE
You have a right to.You have cleaned diapers.
 

GRANDMA
Your advice could make a little trouble.
 

AGATE
What's a little trouble for friends?
 

GRANDMA
Your talk is warmer than it was.
 

AGATE
It's no warmer or colder.
 

GRANDMA
Agate, why do you say you do not like me when you do?
 
(DIAMOND enters.)
 

AGATE
I don't dislike you momma, or any of you.
 

DIAMOND
Then why do you stomp on your floors.
 

AGATE
Your ear takes such sounds.
 

DIAMOND
Not as much as yours. You know who in our house from upstairs.
 

AGATE
You make such noise. Your voices come through my windows and even wake me in the night.
 

DIAMOND
You pay attention. You even know what we eat.
 

AGATE
I can smell the cooking.
 

DIAMOND
You sit on the landing steps.
 

AGATE
I don't have to.
 

GRANDMA
This Agate. This Agate, Diamond. She does not have to.
 

DIAMOND
You two are too friendly, today.
 

GRANDMA
Our days are too short to be unfriendly.
 

DIAMOND (to GRANDMA.)
Only yesterday you were complaining about the water.
 

AGATE
My tub is small.
 

DIAMOND
Do you wash your clothes on the floor?
 

GRANDMA
Daughter, let your hearts be cool..
 

DIAMOND
Is she a daughter, now?
 

AGATE
I didn't ask to come in. There won't be the day I'll come again.
 

GRANDMA
Come again, Agate.
 

AGATE
My heart has turned to stone.
 

GRANDMA
That is so hard.
 

AGATE
You will have to make your fires hot to melt this heart. (AGATE exits and goes upstairs.)
 

DIAMOND
Why give face to that woman?
 

GRANDMA
She has her good days.
 

DIAMOND
She is after my son.
 

GRANDMA
She has her dreams.
 

MICKEY (Enters with a bag of groceries, places it on the table and offers the change to his mother).
Can I keep the silver?
 

DIAMOND
Take the dollar.
 

MICKEY
I'm keeping a record of everything I owe you.
 

GRANDMA
Write your debts on ice.
 

DEACON (Enters from the kitchen.)
I am here.
 

GRANDMA
I greet you with the sun.
 

DIAMOND
Did you finish your breakfast?
 

DEACON
Yes. Yes.I ate the eggs,
 

DIAMOND
And one slice of toast.
 

DEACON
Two slices.
 

DIAMOND
How many times must I tell you. You'll get fat.
.

DEACON
You have no interest in my shape. So what is there?
 

DIAMOND
You're the one who wants to look young.
 

DEACON (Hand on belly.)
I have decided this can't be helped. If our age doesn't give us wrinkles it gives us other things. (He walks to the door and stops. He seems like a diver afraid to dive from a high board.) I am going to work. I am going to work! I am going to work!!
 

DIAMOND
So go. You go every morning.
 

DEACON
Well, say something to me.
 

DIAMOND
What can I say?
 

DEACON
Say . . . come home safe.
 

DIAMOND
Come home safe.
 

DEACON
All right.
 

GRANDMA
Goodbye, son.
 

DEACON
Goodbye, momma, I am going to work. One of you say you love me.
 

GRANDMA
I love you, son.
 

DEACON
I know you do, momma. You have always loved me. Love me forever. Son, say you love me.
 

MICKEY
Pa.
 

DEACON
All right.
 

DIAMOND
Goodbye.
 

DEACON
I am going to work!
 

DIAMOND
Deacon!
 

DEACON
Oh world, I am going to work. Once again I am going to work and I am almost sixty. I would not go, but I go. And I am smiling and crying. (Goes to the door.) I understand oh world how you feed me and hurt me. (Puts his hand out the door.) Look at my fist. It is in the sun. This fist is hot. It is another heart. My outside heart. I need it to boil my blood and push it around. I am not well on shady days and in the winter. My heart is then gone and I become frail. Son be my sun.
 

MICKEY
What pa?
 

DEACON
Be my sun in wintertime and take my hand. Warm it and push my blood around.
 

MICKEY
Sure pa.
 

DEACON
But you can't, son.
 

MICKEY
I will, pa.
 

DEACON
You will take my hand in wintertime? I am alone, son. I am alone. I work for you and you and you. I am almost sixty and I am going to work. I am only one hand. Have mercy on me. Soon winter will be here.
 

MICKEY
I'll help you.
 

DIAMOND
He's in one of his moods. He thinks he's declaiming his poetry again. Go have breakfast, Mickey.
 

MICKEY (goes to his father.)
Pa, here I am.
 

DEACON
Don't touch me. It's all right. I am a man. a man. Stay away from me. I am alone, but I am not alone. I have my thoughts. I have such visions. If I could stay home today and put them down on paper what would Toylstoy's or Goethe's thoughts be compared to mine. Ah, ah it is good to be alone and not to be alone.
 

DIAMOND
You should have been a monk.
 

DEACON
I should have been a lot of things. Now I thoughts in my thoughts. And all your thoughts are so many small thoughts. They weigh mine down, create imbalance, and now mine cannot fly, fly high up to the sky. Ah, ah, where did your lives intermingle with mine and your thoughts...


DIAMOND (protectively.)
Go eat, Mickey.


DEACON
Body, blood, and sweat. Eat, eat.
 

DIAMOND
Deacon! Leave him alone he is only a boy.
 

DEACON
Are you a boy, my son?
 

MICKEY
I wish I knew, pa.
 

DEACON
If you are, I am a young man. When you were a boy, I used to rub your head.
 

MICKEY
I know, pa.
 

DEACON
My father did that to me. When I was small. Oh, father, why did you leave me? My father was a God! Momma, tell them about poppa.
 

GRANDMA
My husband was a good man.
 

DEACON
You see son. He was great. Go eat, Goodbye.
 
(DEACON exits. DIAMOND follows him. MICKEY enters the the kitchen. DIAMOND and DEACON pause in the yard.)



DIAMOND
Deacon
 

DEACON
What?
 

DIAMOND
You won't forget.
 

DEACON
Forget?
 

DIAMOND
It will soon be cold.
 

DEACON
I know.
 

DIAMOND
And smile today.
 

DEACON
I smile a little every day.
 

DIAMOND
Not often enough.
 

DEACON
I used to smile. Oh, oh, you should have seen me when I used to. Barefoot, I would run to the hills and I would sit under a cool summer sky . . . for it was cool on the hills in the summer. I would smile at the sky and then my eyes would fill with tears.
 

DIAMOND
Smile like that again.
 

DEACON
No more. No more.
 

DIAMOND
No more for me, only for Agate.
 

DEACON
Her I knew when I was twenty-five and she was twelve. I was promised to her.
 

DIAMOND (with mock fervor)
And now you're mine, all mine.
 

DEACON
Are you jealous my Diamond?
 

DIAMOND
Of losing your flashing eyes and black hair? No Deacon, just smile.
 

DEACON
You don't understand. You never understood. You took my smile away.
 

DIAMOND
I understand. She would not have.
 

DEACON
No. Not at all. She is hope; you reality. That's all. Women, women take the philosophical smile of
men away. That smile which is the soul.
 

DIAMOND
Then Deacon you stole your own soul away.
 

DEACON
You took my loneliness from me. I used to commune with things and thoughts.
 

DIAMOND
Then you should have stayed with those thoughts and things and not come near me.
 

DEACON
I was not so young, but you were my first beloved.
 

DIAMOND
I knew less than you.
 

DEACON
Please, my Diamond: My jewel, I love you. I love you after all these things. This is an autumn love. But be satisfied that I love you. The first folly was passion. Forgive me and yourself and take this autumn love.
 

DIAMOND
I was lost in this country. And then we married. And I was still lost. There was no romance. Not even a little like the romance of a movie story or a soap opera.
 

DEACON
And no romance of my thoughts. The romance of looking up to the sky and smiling in pure happiness and crying in pure joy.
 

DIAMOND
All right,
 

DEACON
It is done. We are done. We are in the mold and the wax is cold. He is here and he is our son. And you must learn that.
 

DEACON
He is our son. And today is the day he was born. We will be ready for him tonight. Take care of my mother.
 

DIAMOND
She is my necklace. (DEACON exits and DIAMOND enters the house.)
 

GRANDMA
Diamond.
 

DIAMOND
What is it, momma?
 

GRANDMA
Take care of my son.
 

DIAMOND
He is my yoke.
 

GRANDMA
He is just tired.
 

DIAMOND
So are we all. We need a change.
 

GRANDMA
It will come.
 

DIAMOND
When?
 

GRANDMA
The Lord knows, soon. (DIAMOND begins to go.) Diamond. (Diamond stops and turns.) Forgive me for speaking to your son. But I could not help it. He has not had my milk. But I too have cleaned him.
 

DIAMOND
Old woman, you are too old to ask for forgiveness. Your age is wisdom. When I am worn a little more, I too may speak like you. Yet there is that red coal of adventure glowing in me, but long since gone from you. I see only the highest and greatest things for my son. Things that most of us have in our dreams, only. (MICKEY enters.) Did you eat?
 

MICKEY
I'm not hungry.
 

DIAMOND
Breakfast is an important meal.
 

MICKEY
The taste of his sweat is in it.
 

DIAMOND
What's the matter, Mickey?
 

GRANDMA
Come to me.
 

DIAMOND
Momma, what is this? What is he talking about? Momma, it is like Deacon when he was a boy.
 

GRANDMA
Diamond, there is nothing to fear. I am praying. (She bows her head to pray.)
 

DIAMOND
Momma, he needs less pressure, more rest.
 

GRANDMA
Diamond, go to your kitchen. (DIAMOND exits in tears. GRANDMA begins to pray with her beads.)
 

MICKEY
Are you praying for me?
 

GRANDMA
I am, son of my son.
 

MICKEY
What are you praying for?
 

GRANDMA
Peace of mind.
 

MICKEY
And heart.
 

GRANDMA
And soul.
 
(There is a moment of deep silence. Church bells sound softly and the room is illuminated by light that comes from stained
glass windows.
)
 

MICKEY
Are you still praying, Grandma?
 

GRANDMA
The peace of God and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost remain with you always.
 

MICKEY
Your voice is the sounding of church bells. And in your eyes is the brilliant light of stained glass. How can I express it?
(He kneels beside her.) Shouldn't there be thunder, Grandma?
 

GRANDMA
It will come.
 

MICKEY
Will I see the lightning?
 

GRANDMA
I pray the heavens will open and you will see the light.
 
(There is thunder and lightning. This continues for a while during which time MICKEY makes a phone call.)
 

MICKEY
I am going to work, Grandma: Pray for me. (He pauses at the door.) I am smiling and crying. I am going to work.
Somebody say something.
 
GRANDMA: Der Voghormia. Lord have mercy.
 


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