Alchemy Of Desire/Dead Man’s Blues – Monologue (Simone)

A monologue from the play by Caridad Svich

SIMONE (twenties – thirties)

Buckets and buckets of fried chicken all over.
Twelve, sixteen, twenty-four piece . . .
Everybody brought one. One kind or another.
Caroline, Selah, Mrs. Hawkins . . .
They all came in with their chicken.
They all came in.

With their mouths open. Gristle stuck between their teeth.
Their faces smeared with grease, and perfume, and liquor.
They all came in.
Came in and flapped their arms. Callin’ out to God
and Jeremiah and all the powers in the universe.
They all came in with their chicken.

Came in to push their thigh-meat in my face.
Push it in my face to make me feel better.
I thought I’d puke.
I thought, “One more bucket, I’m gona get down on my knees
and puke right next to the coffin.”

I don’t like fried chicken. He sure as hell didn’t.
Why’d they bring it then? ’Cause that’s what you do?
That’s what you do when someone passes on?
Y’know, just because people been doin’ somethin’ a long time
don’t mean you gotta KEEP on doin’ it.
Ain’t nobody said you gotta become a fool to tradition.

Why didn’t they bring somethin’ else?
Sweet potato pie, ice water, hard whiskey . . .
I wouldn’t ’ve minded some hard whiskey.
But fried chicken?
It smells up the whole house.
Smells up the house real good.
Why, you can smell the stink of the fat for miles.
. . .
Clear up to the river, you can smell it.
Grease all over.
Goes straight through the buckets, stains the wood.
HELL to get grease out once it’s stained the wood.
Fingers get oily, sticky. Hands reekin’ of chicken.
Grease swimmin’ through you til NOTHIN’
can rid you of its reek.
Gotta get tar soap, wash it off, scrub your hands blood raw
to get rid of it.

And the thing is, who’s gonna eat it?
Who is gonna eat the damn chicken anyway?
I can’t eat it.– And he’s dead.
What good’s it gonna do him?
. . .
Peel off the skin and fat and throw the chicken bones at him,
that’s all I can do.
Bury him with the chicken bones.
He’s just dead.
Some bullet ripped right through him like he was dog-meat:
eyes all busted, bones stickin’ out of the flesh . . .

I didn’t even recognize him.
If they didn’t say it was Jamie, I wouldn’t know
who it was, so little left of him that’s really him.
(Sound: slightly distorted shell-fire in battle. Fade.)
He was my husband, Jamie was.
Damn war killed him off.
I don’t even know where it was.
All I know is: one day, there was a rumor of war
and the next, he was off to some little country
somewhere I couldn’t even find on a map.
and then he was dead.
. . .
We weren’t even married a month.
Made love in some car, got married . . .
And he just TAKES OFF.
. . .

I can barely remember him now.
I’ll see somebody, he’ll look like him,
but he’ll turn ’round and I realize
he don’t look like Jamie at all.
Not even married a month.
And all I got are buckets of chicken
stinkin’ up the house. That’s all I got.
Fried chicken and a dead body.
(Lights fade.)

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