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Drums of Conscience

Columbia Workshop

Drums of Conscience

May 02 1937







CAST:

NARRATOR

FRISCO

SONNY

LUCINDA

STEVE, the murderer

MAMMY, Sonny's grandmother

PERCE, white policeman

PHIL, white policeman

PAPPY, Steve's father

and a CROWD at the fish fry


NOTE: Reproduced here as it was published in 1938, a version of this script aired on the May 2, 1937 episode of the Columbia Workshop, but may have appeared earlier on a program presented by Chicago's University Broadcasting Council.







DRUMS OF CONSCIENCE


by


ARTHUR K. AKERS


Radio adaptation by James Whipple


NARRATOR: The University Broadcasting Council presents "Drums of Conscience," a negro legend of the South.


BIZ: FADE IN LAUGHTER AND TALKING: LOUD BEATING OF DRUM.


CROWD: SOLO VOICE BEGINS "GOOD NEWS." OTHERS JOIN IN TO ACCOMPANIMENT OF DRUM: FADE DOWN FOR:


NARRATOR: We are in that part of a southern Alabama town that its negro inhabitants know as "Frog Bottom," on the banks of the broad Tombigbee River. It is a moonlight night and the fun-loving Negroes have gathered for a fish fry of the local river catfish.


CROWD: SINGING UP TO FINISH.


BIZ: LAUGHTER AND TALKING AND BEATING OF DRUM.


FRISCO: (On cue.) Singin' all right, but whar my fish, Duke?


SONNY: Dat what I say, Duke.


LUCINDA: How come you get a fish, Sonny?


SONNY: How come I don't, Lucinda?


LUCINDA: You cotch some ob dem fish, Sonny?


SONNY: No, but I watch Duke cotch 'em. (Frisco and Sonny laugh.)


BIZ: DRUMS BEAT LOUDLY: SOLO VOICE BEGINS "LITTLE DAVID" AND OTHERS JOIN IN TO DRUM ACCOMPANIMENT.


LUCINDA: (Over music, without waiting for cue.) Dat all you ever do, Sonny, watch somebody do somethin'. (Laughs.) Now hush up, both of you and listen to de singin'!


MUSIC: UP TO FINISH.


BIZ: LAUGHTER, TALK AND BEATING OF DRUM AS SINGERS FINISH.


FRISCO: (On cue, smacking lips.) Lord, ain't dat a noble fish, Sonny?


SONNY: Boy, dat ain't nothin'! I know somethin' twice as noble.


FRISCO: What dat?


SONNY: Two fish! (Laughs loudly.) Whoo-ee! How dat for tellin' 'em, Snake-foot? (Pause.) What's come over you, Snake-foot? Dat yaller boy in Bumingham beat yo' time wid . . .


STEVE: (Sullenly.) Ain't nobody beat my time wid no one.


FRISCO: Den why you ain't enjoyin' yourself, Snake-foot? Cain't generally keep you quiet.


SONNY: Dat what I say. Look like you been stepped on by a hoss. What de matter wid you, Snake-foot?


STEVE: (Nervous, angry.) Ain't nothin' de matter wid me. (Pause, then suspicious.) Why you ask?


SONNY: Why I ask? I just done told you. You ain't singin'. Mopin' round here. Ain't eatin' like you generally does.


FRISCO: Yeah. Actin' like you was too fur down in your clothes or sumpin'.


STEVE: (Shouts.) I tell you there ain't nothin' the matter wid me.


SONNY: (Slyly.) If dey ain't nothin' de matter wid you, Snake-foot, how come you puttin' up such a argument about it den? (Pause.)


FRISCO: (On cue.) Too bad about poor Sam, ain't it, Snake-foot?


STEVE: (Scared.) S-Sam? Wh-what 'bout Sam?


SONNY: Ain't you know what happen to him, Snake-foot?


STEVE: N-no! Somethin' happen to Sam?


FRISCO: Funny you ain't heard.


SONNY: Yeah.


STEVE: Wh-what happen?


FRISCO: Dey finds him out back of town wid his haid busted in--dead--dat what.


STEVE: (Nervous.) Sh-sho nuff? Now, ain't dat awful. How come?


SONNY: (Significantly.) Dat what dey don't know, Snake-foot.


FRISCO: Yeah. Dat what de white folks tryin' to find out.


STEVE: (Bluffing.) Huh! Now ain't dat awful. Why, I only see him yesterday.


FRISCO: Yeah. We heard you was wid Sam yesterday.


STEVE: (Pause.) And now poor Sam's dead. Why, he was wrappin' hisself hearty 'round a watermelon bigger'n he was. (Pause.) Huh! maybe dat what ruin him!


SONNY: Watermelon ain't bust him in de haid, Snake-foot.


STEVE: (Pause.) No, dat right. Watermelon wouldn't do dat. (Pause.) Sho' is bad. Sam dead and me seein' him jest yesterday.


SONNY: Yeah. Dat is bad.


STEVE: Huh! Boy cain't never tell what'll happen to him, can he?


BIZ: LOUD BEATING OF DRUM.


MUSIC: SOLO VOICE STARTS SINGING "TRAMPIN"'; OTHER VOICES JOIN IN.


FRISCO: Well, me, I ain't got time to study 'bout it. Leave dat to de law.


SONNY: Hello, grandmammy.


MAMMY: (Fading in.) What you all doin' mopin' 'round? Why don't you jine in de singin'?


STEVE: (Gruffly.) Ain't crave to sing, dat's all.


FRISCO: Yeah, somethin' wrong wid Snake-foot tonight, Mrs. Tolliver.


STEVE: (Angry.) Ain't nothin' wrong wid me, I tells you. Hush up before I bust you one in de haid.


MAMMY: (Soberly.) I wouldn't talk none 'bout bustin' folks in de haid, Snake-foot--after what happen to Sam Wilson yesterday.


STEVE: What you mean? What dat got to do wid me?


MAMMY: Nothing, maybe--only Sam was busted in de haid too.


STEVE: Sho' he was--sho' he was! Dat what everyone tellin' me. But what dat got to do wid me?


MAMMY: Ain't know, boy! But de Lord know who kill Sam. And so does de slave ship.


FRISCO: De what?


SONNY: What you mean, grandmammy?


MAMMY: Sumpin' you ain't know 'bout, Sonny--sumpin' all de young folks ain't know 'bout.


SONNY: Den tell us 'bout it, grandmammy.


MAMMY: Ain't do no good, boy. De young folks ain't like dey was when my grandpappy see de last slave ship. Nowadays dey ain't care for de slave ship ghost-es or de devil himself. Cain't teach de young folks nothin'.


STEVE: (Contemptuously.) Ghost-es, huh! I ain't 'fraid of no ghost-es.


MAMMY: (Sharply.) If dey was after you, boy, you wouldn't say dat.


FRISCO: I heah my grandpappy say de same thing, Mrs. Tolliver, and when I axed him 'bout dat slave ship he just say hush up 'cause I wouldn't pay no attention nohow.


SONNY: What de slave ship got to do wid who kill Sam, grandmammy?


MAMMY: Everything, boy! If de law ain't cotch who kill Sam de ghost-es will. Dey ain't fail yet.


STEVE: Ain't fail yet? Wh-what you mean, nohow?


MAMMY: (Mysteriously.) I ain't crave to talk 'bout it, 'specially wid de moon on de water.


STEVE: (Contemptuously.) Huh! What de ole moon got to do wid it?


MAMMY: It was on a night like dis wid de moon shinin' on de water dat de last slave ship come up dis very river--wid de drums beatin' and de poor slaves ga'nt and starvin'.


STEVE: What foolishness all dis? What slave ship you talkin' 'bout?


MAMMY: (Sternly.) If dat ship come after you, boy, you wouldn't be so biggity.


STEVE: (Bragging.) I ain't 'fraid of no old ship. I ain't 'fraid of nothin'.


SONNY: What 'bout de slave ship, grandmammy?


FRISCO: Yeah, what it got to do wid who kill Sam?


MAMMY: It got plenty to do, boy. I'se talkin' 'bout de 'Liza Battle, de last slave ship from Africa to de United States.


SONNY: Go on, grandmammy, tell Snake-foot 'bout it.


STEVE: Tell me 'bout it? What I care 'bout such foolishness? What it got to do wid me?


BIZ: LOUD BEATING OF SNARE DRUM: LAUGHTER AND LOUD TALKING.


SONNY: Nothin', only if de last slave ship got somethin' to do wid who kill Sam you ought to heah de story, Snake-foot.


STEVE: (Angry.) I ain't know nothin' 'bout who kill Sam, you heah me? If you says another word--(Stops suddenly, then calls out.) What de matter wid you, Henry? Cain't you beat de drum for de singin' widout bustin' de haid open wide wid de noise?


BIZ: DRUM STOPS AND LAUGHTER AND TALKING DIE DOWN A LITTLE.


HENRY: (Off mike.) Sho' I kin, Snake-foot, only what de matter wid you? 'Fraid I make so much noise I wake up de daid?


BIZ: DRUM BEATS AGAIN BUT MORE QUIETLY: SINGERS BEGIN "I FEEL LIKE MY TIME AIN'T LONG."


STEVE: (Mumbling.) Gwine to bust dat boy in de haid one ob dese days.


SONNY: (Significantly.) Better be careful, Snake-foot. Somebody do dat to Sam Wilson.


FRISCO: Go on, Mrs. Tolliver, what 'bout dat slave ship? Why de slaves starvin'? Wa'nt dere no vittles on de ship?


MAMMY: Plenty of vittles, boy, but dem slaves was proud--lots ob princes and even kings among dem--cotched by de bad white trash and bad black men in Africa what sell even dere own people for rum.


SONNY: You say dat was de last slave ship, grandmammy?


MAMMY: De last slave ship, boy. All de countries was tryin' to stop de slave trade and de warships was after de 'Liza Battle, and de captain dasn't turn back to Africa so he come up de river wid dem--dyin' like flies dey was--wid Africa behind dem and de Lord only know what in front of dem.


SONNY: Was dey slaves for de plantations 'round heah, grandmammy?


MAMMY: I ain't know, boy. Ain't nobody know whar dem slaves was for 'cause somethin' awful happen to dat ship.


FRISCO: What dat?


SONNY: Yeah, what happen, grandmammy?


MAMMY: Well, de ship anchor right in de river, right off from dat big rock yonder.


FRISCO: Lawdee! Close as dat, Mammy?


MAMMY: Yes, boy--and when dey let down de anchor de slaves start jumpin' overboard--chains and all--de white sailormen after dem--oh, my Lord!


FRISCO: Did dey git free, Mammy?


MAMMY: Listen, boy. Dey smell what dey been pinin' for--de little river mussels like what dey have in Africa--and dey cain't hold out no longer. So dey jump in de river and dey start scrabblin' in de shallow water and crammin' dem muddy things in dey mouth, gruntin' and gibberin' like starved animals.


FRISCO: Dem poor slaves. What happen den, Mammy?


MAMMY: Oh, Lord Jesus, what happen den? Boy, dat ship just vanish--slaves, white sailormen and all--right from de face of de earth dey vanish!


FRISCO: (Low, frightened.) Lawdy!


SONNY: Dey did! Ain't dat awful, grandmammy.


STEVE: (Contemptuously.) Huh! Sound like a fish story to me.


SONNY Yeah? Go on, Mammy.


MAMMY: And den de ship come back!


STEVE: Come back?


MAMMY: Two times it come back--only it wa'nt a ship!


STEVE: (Puzzled.) It wa'nt a ship? What you mean?


MAMMY: I mean it wa'nt a ship, but de ghost of de ship.


STEVE: (Scared.) D-de ghost!


MAMMY: Yes, boy. De ghost!


FRISCO: Thought you wasn't interested, Snake-foot.


STEVE: I ain't. I ain't skeered ob no ghost-es.


SONNY: (Contemptuously.) Huh! Go on, grandmammy.


MAMMY: And when de ghost ob de last slave ship come it ain't bring, boy--it took!


STEVE: What you mean it took? Took what?


MAMMY: I mean, boy, dat de ghost-es took de--


PERCE: (Well off mike, shouts.) Stay where you are. All of you!


MUSIC: STOPS SUDDENLY.


PHIL: Don't try to run, now. Any of you!


SONNY: Us ain't runnin'.


MAMMY: No, suh, white folks.


BIZ: CROWD AGREES.


PERCE: (Closer.) Now, then. We want to know who killed Sam Wilson.


SILENCE.


SONNY: (On cue.) Mr. Sheriff, you say somebody killed Sam Wilson?


PERCE: Yes! And don't pretend you all don't know about it.


FRISCO: Before God, Cap'n, I ain't even know dat boy was sick.


SONNY: No, suh, me neither. What he die of Cap'n?


PHIL: What he died of was a fence rail crackin' him over the head!


MAMMY: Sho' am sorry to hear dat, white folks. Dat boy Sam just like my own son.


PERCE: Well, he's dead and someone killed him.


PHIL: Yes, and that someone is right here at the fish fry too.


BIZ: LOW COMMENTS FROM CROWD.


SONNY: No, suh! If we knowed who killed poor Sam we'd turn him over to de law, wouldn't us?


BIZ: CROWD AGREES.


PERCE: (Sarcastically.) Yes, you would--not!


PHIL: Any of you all seen Steve Johnson? (Silence.) I mean the boy you all call Snake-foot?


SONNY: (On cue.) Snake-foot? No, suh! Us ain't seen him at de fish fry.


FRISCO: He ain't been 'round dese parts for two-three days, Cap'n.


MAMMY: Snake-foot done went to Bumingham, I spects, Cap'n. He say sumpin' 'bout hit de other day.


PERCE: Come on, Phil, no use of wastin' time here. They wouldn't give away their worst enemy if he was black.


PHIL: Well, if Snake-foot should suddenly show up here at the fish fry tell him we want to ask him a few questions.


PERCE: (Off mike.) Come on, Phil, let's go down to the village and look around.


BIZ: CROWD STARTS TALKING IN LOW TONES.


SONNY: (On cue.) Do somethin'. Come on, Henry, start de singin'!


BIZ: CROWD AGREES: DRUM STARTS BEATING AND THEN THEY GRADUALLY START SINGING, "HUSH, HUSH, SOMEBODY'S CALLING MY NAME."


FRISCO: (Low.) Whar Snake-foot run to, Sonny?


SONNY: (Low.) Hidin' back ob de big rock yonder. Hush up, de white folks may be hangin' 'round yet. Jine in de singin'.


MUSIC: BRING MUSIC UP UNTIL CUE: THEN DROP SLIGHTLY.


PAPPY: (On cue, fading in.) Is any of you all seen my boy, Steve?


SONNY: Hello, Mr. Johnson. Sho' we seen Snake-foot.


PAPPY: Dat fine. I thought maybe I find him at de fish fry.


FRISCO: But Snake-foot just fresh out ob here, Mr. Johnson.


PAPPY: (Surprised.) Hidin'?


SONNY: Yas, suh. He just sort ob evaporate hisself when de sheriff and his man come lookin' for who killed Sam Wilson.


PAPPY: Steve ain't know nothin' 'bout dat killin'. Why he run?


FRISCO: How us know?


SONNY: But de white folks axe 'bout Snake-foot particular.


PAPPY: (Startled.) Dey do which?


SONNY: Yas, suh. Snake-foot ain't even wait to finish his fish.


FRISCO: Yeah. Funny how he lost his appetite when he--


PAPPY: (Vehemently.) Steve ain't 'fraid ob de white folks. He ain't even know dat Sam is daid. Dat why I lookin' for him. He ain't come home last night and--


SONNY: Snake-foot was wid Sam yesterday, Mr. Johnson. Dat all we know.


PAPPY: (On cue, brokenly.) You say he hidin' back ob de big rock?


SONNY: Yas, suh.


PAPPY: (Fading.) I finds him den--I finds him.


MUSIC: BRING UP A LITTLE, THEN DOWN, AND CONTINUE FADING UNTIL PROPER LEVEL FOR DISTANCE IS REACHED.


PAPPY: (On cue.) Dey suspicion Steve, dat what dey do.


BIZ: BUSTLING OF BUSHES: FEET ON ROCKS AND GRAVEL.


PAPPY: (Muttering.) Why dat fool boy run when de white folks come? . . . And why de white folks axe particular 'bout Steve? . . . Runnin' from de white folks and now dey all suspicion him. . . . Fool boy!


STEVE: (Off; on cue.) Wh-who dat?


PAPPY: It me, Steve--your Pappy.


STEVE: (Fading in; angry, nervous.) What you doin' here? How you know whar I is?


PAPPY: Sonny done tole me you was here and--


STEVE: What you want, nohow?


PAPPY: You ain't come home last night and I hears 'bout de fish fry, so--


STEVE: (Angry.) S'pose I ain't come home last night? What dat got to do wid you?


MUSIC: OUT HERE.


PAPPY: (Angry.) Steve, why you run from de white folks? (Pause.) Is you gwine to answer me or is you ain't?


STEVE: (Low, lying, on cue.) I ain't crave to talk 'bout Sam, dat's de reason.


PAPPY: But now dey suspicion you--'cause you run.


STEVE: (Scared.) Who suspicion me?


PAPPY: Sonny and Frisco an'--


STEVE: (Relieved.) Oh! Just dem boys. Let 'em suspicion. What I care?


PAPPY: Dar you go, always so biggity and--


STEVE: (Flaring up.) What I care what dey suspicion? Just 'cause I happen to be wid Sam yesterday.


PAPPY: De white folks know dat, too, boy.


STEVE: (Scared.) De white folks? How you know? What dey say?


PAPPY: All I know is dat dey done axe particular 'bout you.


STEVE: (Scared.) Dey axe 'bout me--Pappy, you sho' 'bout dat?


PAPPY: Dat what Sonny and Frisco tell me. (Slight pause, then suspiciously.) Look at me, boy! (Pause.) Steve, look at me, boy!


STEVE: (Sullenly, scared, on cue.) What you want?


PAPPY: (Sternly.) Steve, what you know 'bout dat killin'?


STEVE: (Overemphatically.) I swears to God, Pappy, I ain't know nothin' 'bout it! I ain't even know Sam was daid 'til I hears it tonight at de fish fry.


PAPPY: Den whar you go last night? Why you ain't come home?


STEVE: (Evasive, nervous.) Whar I go? Oh, I--I just shootin' crap wid a few boys and--


PAPPY: What boys?


STEVE: Wh-why--oh, dar was Fluff and Sloppy and--and--


PAPPY: (Sharply.) You say Sloppy was playin' wid you? What time you finish de game?


STEVE: (Nervously.) Oh, might ob been three-four in de mornin'. I ain't remember exact. (Faster.) Dat why I ain't come home. I stay all night wid Sloppy and--


PAPPY: (Sternly.) Steve, you ain't even see Sloppy last night!


STEVE: (Blustering.) Wh-what you mean I ain't? Why you say I ain't see--


PAPPY: I say you ain't cause Sloppy done come to our house last night 'bout 'leven o'clock, lookin' for you, and told me 'bout poor Sam. He say he ain't even see you all day. (Silence.) Steve, answer me boy! Was it you kill Sam?


STEVE: (Breaking down.) I ain't mean to do it, Pappy. I ain't mean to do it. I hear he been messin' 'round wid my gal and we both been drinkin' and. . . . Oh, Lord Jesus, Pappy, it was de liquor! Before I know what I do I grab a fence rail and hit him over de haid. I ain't know he die--swear to God I speaks de truth. It was de liquor, dat what!


PAPPY: (Scornfully, but brokenly.) Liquor? It was de devil in you, dat what. Oh, Massa Jesus, now what we gwine to do? Ain't no place to hide, ain't no place you can go, boy, to escape dem.


STEVE: Dey won't cotch me, Pappy, I'll git plumb away from Demopolis as soon as de search die down and--


PAPPY: It ain't de white folks boy--it ain't de law! Oh, Lord Jesus, save my--


STEVE: What do you mean?


PAPPY: (Moaning.) Now I knows why dar was fresh dirt 'round de steps back home like a conjure been buried dar dat I ain't dare dig up and--


STEVE: I ain't afraid ob no conjures. I'll git away before--


PAPPY: You ain't gwine to git away, boy. De ghost-es won't let you git away!


STEVE: What you mean de ghost-es?


PAPPY: Oh, my Lord, de ghost-es git you even if de law cain't. Dey ain't never fail yet, boy, and you cain't hide. You cain't hide from de ghost-es. Oh, Lord Jesus, save my boy.


STEVE: (Slightly frightened.) Wh-what kind ob ghost-es you talkin' 'bout, Pappy?


PAPPY: De ghost-es ob de last slave ship, boy.


STEVE: (Really frightened now.) Ghost-es ob de last slave ship? Pappy, dat just what Sonny's grandmammy say!


PAPPY: She know, boy, she know. De ghost-es always come--wid de drums beatin' for de man dey want. Oh, why you have to kill dat boy--


STEVE: (Shouting in fear.) Hush up 'bout killin'. I cain't git dat look in Sam's eyes lyin' dar on de ground out ob my sight no more.


PAPPY: De Lord ain't let you forgit dat sight, Steve, and now de ghost-es git you. Twice dey come before and each time dey come wid de drums beatin' and each time dey done take away a live man wid 'em.


STEVE: A live man? What live man? What you--


PAPPY: A live man what done kill somebody. Both men dey cover it up from de white folks and de law, but de ghost-es of de last slave ship come for 'em. My grandpappy see 'em when dey come de last time.


STEVE: (Frightened.) Your grandpappy see--he see de ghost-es?


PAPPY: (Moaning.) He see 'em, boy! And he see de ship too! But first he hear 'em comin'.


STEVE: He hear 'em?


PAPPY: Dey always come wid de drums beatin'--beatin' like a heart--


BIZ: SNARE DRUM STARTS BEATING LIKE A HEART AS PAPPY SPEAKS ABOVE LINE.


PAPPY: (Continues.) Beatin', beatin', beat--(Stops suddenly and listens.)


BIZ: DRUM CHANGES ON CUE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


PAPPY: (On cue.) Dey comin' now! Oh Lord Jesus, dey comin' now.


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


STEVE: (On cue.) What de matter wid you? You ain't hear nothin' but de drum at de fish fry.


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


PAPPY: (Half screaming.) Dey African drums, I tell you! (Moaning.) Dey comin' just like my grandpappy say dey come--wid de drums beatin'.


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


STEVE: (Slowly, as he listens to drum.) I hear de drum, Pappy--(changes to impatience)--but I tells you it ain't nothin' but de drum at de fish fry. I play drum like dat many times for de singin'.


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


PAPPY: (Screaming.) Not drums like dat! Dey is African drums and de ghost-es is comin' for you. (Hoarsely.) Listen, boy! Listen, I tells you! You ain't never hear drums like dat before!


STEVE: (Listens to African drums a moment, then becomes scared.) Oh, Lord Jesus, I hear--


BIZ: SLOW CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM WHILE STEVE SPEAKS.


STEVE: Doggone it, Pappy, it ain't nothin' but de fish fry drum. What you got me all het up tellin' me 'bout dem ghost-es for?


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS (CONTINUE).


PAPPY: (Hoarsely.) Dey comin' for you for killin' a man!


STEVE: (Screaming.) Hush up about killin'!


PAPPY: (Continuing over Steve.) Dey comin' wid de drums beatin', beatin', beatin',--Oh, Massa Jesus!


MUSIC: AFRICAN CHANT STARTS.


PAPPY: Save my boy, Oh, Lo--(Hears chant, gets more hysterical.) Now dey singin'. Dey comin' closer, boy. Dey singin' now for your soul, boy--lost for killin' a man!


MUSIC: QUICK CHANGE TO FISH FRY SINGING.


STEVE: Hush up 'bout killin', I says. Ain't nothin' but our own singin' at de fish fry.


MUSIC: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN CHANT.


PAPPY: (Hoarsely.) African singin' for killin' a man--comin' to slave you--'cause dere's blood on your hands--for killin'--killin'--dey always git you--ain't never fail yet--dey're comin' boy! Gwine to slave you--singin' for your soul.


STEVE: (Ad lib. for Pappy to hush up all through above speech, but grows more scared all the time as Pappy's voice hypnotizes him.)


PAPPY: (Continuing.) Listen to 'em, boy--hear de drums--hear de singin'--comin' to slave you for your sins!


STEVE: (Sudden shout of fear.) I hears 'em! I hears 'em! Oh, Jesus, I hears 'em now! Save me from de ghost-es--save me, Jesus!


BIZ: AFRICAN CHANT FADES OUT INTO AFRICAN DRUMS ONLY.


STEVE: (Screaming.) Stop dem drums! Oh, Lord, stop dem drums!


PAPPY: My grandpappy say dem drums ain't never stop till de ghost-es git what dey come for!


STEVE: (Frantic.) Hush up! Whar can I hide--whar can I run?


PAPPY: You cain't hide--you cain't run from your sins!


STEVE: (Frantic.) Hush up, I tells you! (To himself.) I got to run--I wants to run but my foots is rooted to de ground. (Loud.) Oh, Lord, I didn't mean to hit Sam dat last time! It was de liquor, I say--and de devil, Lord! Don't let de ghost-es find me now! I'll be good. I'll be good, Lord Jesus! (Sobbing.) I won't kill nobody no more!


PAPPY: De drums! Beatin'--beatin'--comin' to slave you, boy!


STEVE: Comin' to slave me for my sins! I got to run, Pappy! All dey can do is drag me back! (Fading.) I'se goin' to run, Pappy, before de ghost-es gits me!


PAPPY: Come back, Steve! Don't leave me, Steve! Ain't gwine do no good to run!


BIZ: BUILD DRUMS UP THROUGH PAPPY'S SPEECH UNTIL HE'S DROWNED OUT AND DRUMS THROB AT HIGHEST LEVEL. FADE DOWN TO FORMER LEVEL. FADE IN CRACKLING OF UNDERBRUSH.


STEVE: (Gibbering: fading in.) Stop dem drums! Stop dem drums! Oh, Lord, don't let 'em git me! It was de liquor--I ain't mean to hit Sam wid dat rail agin--


BIZ: UNDERBRUSH OUT: BUILD UP DRUMS TO HIGHEST LEVEL: FADE DOWN AGAIN AND FADE IN SOUND OF GRAVEL AS STEVE RUNS.


STEVE: (Fading in.) Lemme go dis time, Massa Jesus! Lemme find a place whar de ghost-es can't git me, Lord! I cain't lose de drums! Comin' to slave me!


BIZ: BUILD UP AFRICAN DRUMS TO HIGHEST LEVEL: THEN FADE DOWN: FADE IN SPLASHING AS STEVE WADES THROUGH WATER: CAR FADES IN.


STEVE: (Fading in.) Oh, blessed Lord, save dis boy from de ghost-es and de drums! It was de-- (Stops suddenly.)


BIZ: SPLASHING STOPS: CAR STOPS: AFRICAN DRUMS STOP: SNARE DRUM IN DISTANCE.


PERCE: (Cue; off mike.) Hey, you, boy!


PHIL: (Cue.) Where you runnin'?


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS: WATER SPLASHES AS STEVE CLIMBS BANK.


STEVE: (Cue.) Oh, Jesus, bless de white men! Boss-man, please, take me in, take me in!


BIZ: SPLASHING STOPS: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


PHIL: (Cue.) Why, it's Steve Johnson, Perce!


PERCE: (Cue.) So it is, Phil. We been lookin' for you, Steve.


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


STEVE: (Cue.) I tells you everything only don't let de ghost-es git me! Dey comin' for me wid de drums!


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


PERCE: (Cue.) Who's comin' for you?


PHIL: (Cue.) What are you talkin' about, boy?


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


STEVE: (Cue.) Don't let de ghost-es git me, boss! Take me in! Hide me from de ghost-es! Dey comin' to slave me--beatin' de drums!


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


PERCE: (Cue.) Who's comin' for you, boy?


PHIL: (Cue.) What are you talkin' about, anyhow?


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


STEVE: (Cue.) De drums! De drums ob de slave ship! De ghost-es comin' to slave me for my sins! Take me away, boss-men! Hide me, please, boss-men, away from de drums!


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


PERCE: (Cue.) He must be drunk, Phil.


PHIL: What drums you talkin' about, Steve?


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


STEVE: (Cue.) De African drums! Dey comin' for me! Take me in, boss-men--take me in for de love of God before de ghost-es git me! (Hoarsely.) Listen to 'em. Dey beatin' for me now! Dey comin' to slave me for my sins! (Screams.) Oh, Lord, stop dem drums!


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


PERCE: (On cue.) Look here, boy, you've been drinkin'--That ain't nothin' but a drum they're beatin' over yonder at the fish fry.


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


STEVE: (Cue.) No, suh! I knows! And my pappy knows! It's de ghost-es of the last slave ship comin' to slave me for my sins--de daid man comin' all de way from Africa wid de drums to slave me for killin' Sam wid de rail.


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


PERCE: (Cue.) What! You mean Sam Wilson?


PHIL: You mean you killed Sam Wilson?


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


STEVE: I kill him--I done it--I kill Sam wid de rail--but I didn't know dey come all de way from Africa to slave me for it. Don't let dem git me, boss! Take me away from de drums! Hide me whar de ghost-es cain't git me, please, boss!


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO SNARE DRUM.


PHIL: Well, I'll be damned!


PERCE: Take you away? (Laughs.) Well, you won't have to worry about that, Steve.


PHIL: (Laughs.) I'll say not. Come on, Perce, let's put Steve away where the ghost-es can't git him.


BIZ: QUICK CHANGE TO AFRICAN DRUMS.


STEVE: (Fading.) Away from de drums! Oh, Lord, away from de drums! Don't let 'em git me! Oh, thank Jesus for de jailhouse!


BIZ: BRING DRUMS UP FULL UNTIL CUE THEN FADE DOWN AND INTO SNARE DRUM AND CHOIR: BRING UP SLOWLY TO FINISH.


ANNOUNCER: Closing announcement.


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