A prominent family in a small Kansas town is followed over a period of twenty-five years, each act taking place on one summer day during the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s. Six men, two women, unit set.
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[from Act One, Scene One – 1972 – the front porch of a rich man’s house]
RUSSELL: (looks off) That’s Fergis, coming up the road. Those kids better stay out of sight.
LIBBY: Doubt if you’ll have to worry about that.
RUSSELL: Listen…could we not speak of religion for the next half hour?
LIBBY: You see? You try to take God out of your life.
LIBBY: If you were right with God everything else would just naturally be in its place.
RUSSELL: Don’t it say in the Book a wife is supposed to obey her husband?
LIBBY: That’s the only thing in the whole Bible you ever remember.
RUSSELL: Don’t it say that though?
LIBBY: Okay. I’ll just sit here and try to look pretty, just like you want me to.
RUSSELL: You still are pretty, Libby.
LIBBY: No, I’m not.
RUSSELL: Of course you are.
LIBBY: Those kind of things make no difference to me anymore. They’re earthly things. (rises)
I’ll get us some ice tea.
RUSSELL: (stops her) That’s all right.
LIBBY: It’s no trouble.
RUSSELL: I don’t want you hiding in the kitchen and make me drag you out.
LIBBY: (sits) Shucks.
RUSSELL: We can afford a maid, you know.
LIBBY: Don’t want a maid. Don’t want her under-foot, talking bout me with all her friends.
LIBBY: Fluttering around. My legs ain’t broke.
RUSSELL: Just play along with me here, okay?
LIBBY: Oh, I know my part. Shut up and smile.
(she gives fake smile as a car is heard driving up, stopping, and car door slams)
RUSSELL: You help me handle this…I’ll go to church with you come Sunday.
RUSSELL: I promise. (kisses her cheek) Boy, that’s making a deal with the devil, now ain’t it?
LIBBY: Russell Cunningham…
FERGIS NICHOLSON: (enters) Why Russell Cunningham…
RUSSELL: Here I am.
NICHOLSON: The man himself. And his beautiful wife Libby.
RUSSELL: Morning, Fergis.
NICHOLSON: Why Miss Libby, you look better than ever.
LIBBY: He’s come to tell you no, Russell.
LIBBY: If he’s laying it on thick like this, the answer’s going to be no.
RUSSELL: Stop it.
LIBBY: Want some iced tea, Fergis?
NICHOLSON: No thank you, Miss Libby.
(FERGIS pauses; RUSSELL gives LIBBY a “stop it” look)
NICHOLSON (cont’d): Fine day.
RUSSELL: Beautiful day.
LIBBY: Wind’s going to start to blow, out of the south. Be hot and dusty by the afternoon.
NICHOLSON: Yes sir, fine day. (doesn’t know how to say what he has come to say, so changes the subject) You know, driving in, I was probably on your land for half an hour, Russell. I was just trying to remember everything you own.
RUSSELL: Well, I’ll tell you. Still got the television station.
NICHOLSON: I figured.
RUSSELL: Still got the half interest in the Chevrolet dealership there in town.
NICHOLSON: Man like you, that’s just the icing on the cake, ain’t it?
RUSSELL: Just added a half section last week. That makes it, oh… (figures a moment)…three thousand four hundred and fifty-two acres, give or take. Got it planted in wheat and milo, soybeans. And the land I don’t have planted, hell, government pays me not to plant.
LIBBY: I think you just take advantage of that, Russell.
RUSSELL: The Lord’s been good to me.
LIBBY: You should be on your knees more, thanking the Lord.
RUSSELL: I can’t complain.
LIBBY: (to Fergis) It sure don’t seem to stop him none.
RUSSELL: Oh, I could complain. My kids ain’t worth a damn.
NICHOLSON: Hell, nobody’s kids are worth a damn anymore. Don’t you know that?
RUSSELL: I ain’t quite give up on them yet. (a beat) What’s the news, Fergis?
NICHOLSON: Oh, come out to talk about the convention.
RUSSELL: I figured. Let’s quit pissing around the bush here and get to business.
NICHOLSON: Guess there’s no way to say it but just …come right out and say it.
RUSSELL: I’m waiting. Been waiting all week.
NICHOLSON: They don’t want you to run, Russ.
RUSSELL: Come again?
NICHOLSON: They don’t want you to run.
LIBBY: I knew it.
NICHOLSON: They want Peterson.
RUSSELL: Pete Peterson?
NICHOLSON: He’s worked his way up. Been lieutenant governor for eight years.
RUSSELL: Any man who would be lieutenant governor for eight years deserves to stay there.
NICHOLSON: He’s worked the state, Russ. Been to every single county.
RUSSELL: I have a record of government service.
NICHOLSON: County Commissioner is…nice. But it’s not a real high office, Russ, and you know it.
RUSSELL: I have been active in the Republican party for…
NICHOLSON: I know.
RUSSELL: I have bankrolled…
NICHOLSON: You have been more than generous.
RUSSELL: And Crawley said…
* * * * * * *
From Act I, Scene Two
That night – the four kids in the back yard
DREW: I really shouldn’t tell you this but…I’m seeing these people in Lawrence.
DREW: Promise not to tell?
CHRIS: I promise.
CHRIS: I swear.
DREW: (looks around; conspiratorially) They’re communists, man.
DREW: Yeah. Real communists. It’s so cool.
CHRIS: Wow. (pauses) What’s that mean exactly? Communist.
DREW: They share everything. I mean everything. Even girlfriends.
CHRIS: Even girlfriends?
DREW: Yeah. Personal property is wrong.
ELIZABETH: Since when are girlfriends property?
DREW: Any money they make, they put it all into one pile and it belongs to everybody.
CHRIS: They even share girlfriends?
DREW: One of them is a girl. She sleeps with all of them.
DREW: No shit, wow.
ELIZABETH: I didn’t know communism was so sexual.
DREW: There’s a lot you don’t know.
ELIZABETH: Maybe that’s just the American take on it. Can you see Lenin and Stalin sharing a girlfriend?
DREW: You don’t know anything.
ELIZABETH: I think communism has more to do with economics than sex.
DREW: Don’t listen to her. She tries to take the fun out of everything.
ELIZABETH: This is a revolution about fun?
DREW: Hell yes. (puts joint into roach clip) It’s about learning how to live. We never knew how to
live until now.
DREW: It’s all going to be beautiful. Soon as we get rid of all the pigs and plastic people.
ELIZABETH: Which is it with you? Peace and love or kill all the pigs?
DREW: Depends on how we feel when the revolution goes down.
DAVID: Are you getting rid of mom and dad?
DREW: What do you think, David? Are they plastic?
DREW: Of course they are.
DREW: (ticking off reasons on his fingers) They have money. They support the war. They’ve never been stoned. They don’t listen to rock and roll.
CHRIS: Mom goes to church and she makes us go with her.
CHRIS: Dad owns a television station, and now he says we can’t even watch it.
DREW: Dig it, man. Plastic.
DAVID: You’re going to kill mom and dad?
DREW: Hey…who knows?
DAVID: You can’t do that!
DAVID: I’m going to tell!
CHRIS: Ssshhh. He’s not going to kill mom and dad. (pauses; to Chris) Are you?
DREW: Keep everybody guessing. That’s my motto.
ELIZABETH: You’re so full of it, Drew.
DREW: What do you know?
ELIZABETH: You have no idea why you’re doing this. You just copy whatever you see on tv.
DREW: I don’t copy. I’m an original.
ELIZABETH: Original butthead.
DAVID: Are you going to kill mom and dad?
DREW: No, I’m not going to kill mom and dad. Sheesh.
CHRIS: Do communists let you smoke pot?
DREW: Hell yes. That’s what their countries are built on.
CHRIS: Sign me up, man. (takes another puff)
ELIZABETH: We’re not workers, Drew.
DREW: Maybe you’re not.
ELIZABETH: You don’t even mow the yard anymore.
DREW: I drove a tractor. And the wheat harvest? That time on the combine?
ELIZABETH: Oh, one time. Big deal.
DREW: You’re bringing me down here, babe.
ELIZABETH: You can’t be a communist, Drew.
DREW: Why not?
ELIZABETH: Because we’re rich.
DREW: Every communist in Lawrence has a trust fund.
ELIZABETH: Oh God!
ELIZABETH: You don’t even know the stupid things you’re saying.