This blog is simply to get you to feel the literary stylings of ME - South Florida-based author/playwright E. Claudette Freeman and let you know what I'm up to.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

E. Claudette Freeman is Station Manager of Gospel AM 1490 WMBM and President/Creative Director of So ME Creative Literary and Media Services. A twenty-plus year radio broadcasting veteran, she is also the author of the novel SHELTERED DELIEVERANCE; two collections of short stories: PIECES AND ME: A COLLECTION OF LIFE and THE STUFF THAT WAKES UP AT NIGHT (a work in progress) and the inspirational journal THE MORNING HOUR. Additionally, this phenomenal wordsmith received Honorable Mention in the Associated Press Broadcast Awards for her documentary series "HAITIANS: AN ABANDONED PEOPLE." She has authored/produced three literary CDs: DRAMA EXPOSED, FOR THE BROTHA YOU ARE and SPIRIT AWAKENED. Her plays have garnered recognition in the Quest Theater Loften Mitchell Playwrights Festival competition. She currently is combining her love for theatre and radio into a new entertainment venue, while developing a screenplay for her latest book SHELTERED DELIVERANCE. Born in the small town of Pelham, Georgia, Freeman has lived in South Florida all of her life. Freeman has two boys, her son Isaiah Langston-Michael Freeman and nephew, Douglas Tirrell Freeman, Jr. When not writing, doing radio or being a mother, Freeman is active at New Birth Baptist Church - heading the drama ministry, is a member of the Literary Escapades Book Club and serves as a literary coach. She has had the pleasure of working and/or studying with Vinette Carroll, Ntozake Shange, Bhetty Waldron and Danny Glover.

REMEMBERIN' PAPA (excerpt)

PAPA Brother-dear, got some change on you?

BROTHER-DEAR Yeah man, what you need? Something from the store?

PAPA Naw, I feel my luck on me tonight. Thought I might whoop you out of some money. Get the cards out the drawer there. Awright, Whip, get your money. Pammy you gonna play?

PAMMY No, I’ll sit and watch TV. Besides, y’all cheat when you play.

WHIPPLE Now why is it you have to accuse of cheating just because you lose?

PAMMY (picking up her keys from the table) Well how can you win. You hiding cards, Papa changing the rules as you go, and Brother-dear constantly talking to distract you. (heads towards door)

PAPA Where you going baby girl?

PAMMY To get something out of my car.

PAPA Well, turn that porch light on there so you can see. Oh shoot, I got to get my clothes off the line.

WHIPPLE Need some help Papa?

PAPA Naw, ain’t but a few, I’ll be right back. See can you fix that leg on the dining room chair though. And count out your change.

WHIPPLE Yes sir.

Papa exits. There continues to be a noticeable tension between Whipple and Brother-dear. After a couple of seconds which seem like hours of silence, Whipple gives a sarcastic chuckle and opens the dialogue.

WHIPPLE continued So big brother, what’s hanging with you?

BROTHER-DEAR Not as much as what’s hanging with you from what I understand. Yet another adventure added to your list of exciting things to do huh?

WHIPPLE Always a put down with you. So go on get your lecture out the way before Pammy and Papa come back. That’s why you hadn’t said anything before isn’t it?

BROTHER-DEAR A 16 year old hoodlum in a 26 year old body, that’s what you are. What are you going to do with your self man and when. All your life man, it’s been nothing. School, women, job to job nothing. What do you want out of life man. For Papa to take care of you. For Pammy to baby you. For me to finally break down and say poor Whipple, let me help by little brother along.

WHIPPLE You would never do that man. Brothers like you, worry about them and them only. I don’t remember having ever asked you for anything man. Not even in high school. You know, even now I think sometimes you resent me. What do you want from me man?

BROTHER-DEAR Be a man.

WHIPPLE But by whose measures. I am a man. I do what I want, I go when I feel like it. I have no responsibilities to anyone. But that’s a bum to you.

BROTHER-DEAR Come on man be real. Life is more complex than that. You can do something besides getting bailed out, can’t you?

WHIPPLE Yeah whatever.

Whipple continues fixing on the chair. The tense silence re-appears and Brother-dear picks up a notebook of sorts from a shelf and flips through it.

BROTHER-DEAR You still drawing. You always were good. Look Whip, I just think you’re deliberately not doing anything. Pammy’s told me how she tried to convince you to show some of your sketches at the arts center gallery. You laughed. Miss Ann ran into me one day, she wanted to know why you stop going to classes at community college. Can I ask you something?

WHIPPLE Saying no is not going to stop you.

BROTHER-DEAR Is it the attention doing nothing gets you?

WHIPPLE What attention is that man?

BROTHER-DEAR From Pammy, Papa, the rest of the family. You let people think you simple, so that your life moves along easy.

WHIPPLE So, let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. I’m hustling my family? Got a nice little it takes a thief scam working, right?

BROTHER-DEAR Basically.

WHIPPLE You know what your problem is man?

BROTHER-DEAR You - are going to identify a problem with me?

WHIPPLE Ha ha, hard to believe you got any?

BROTHER-DEAR (agitated in his arrogance) Kiss my ass man!

WHIPPLE You were always more than you were man. You can stand there in your Bass loafers, self-righteous, (mocking) Do something with your life son attitude. I embarrass you man. From high school you were the same way. You had your click of afro sporting Negroes, that didn’t want to be black and didn’t want to be Negro, they were the first African-Americans. Not because of any homage to the heritage thing, but because such a title looked impressive on your college application. And certainly having a brother who was more concerned with getting panties off some ass, was an embarrassment to you. But you see I had no problem telling people you were my brother, honors classes, principals list and all. Man we played on the same football team for two years and half the team didn’t know we were related. Because you made it clear in your subtleties that I was not to let it be known. You weren’t real then and you’re not real now. You wouldn’t give a damn if I never worked a day in my life. What bothers you is that people that know we’re related have the audacity to question you about me. You ought to just tell them the truth man. But then, you never asked me the truth. Have you?

BROTHER-DEAR (agitated and yelling) Truth. What’s the truth man? What’s the truth?

WHIPPLE (enjoying Br-Dr’s anger) The truth is man, your Hollywood leading man life ain’t got a damn thing to do with mine!

Pammy re-enters and is clearly bothered by the ongoing argument.

BROTHER-DEAR I am tired of you hanging out, hanging on to Papa. You have been raised BOY, so be a man.

PAMMY That’s it! I have had it up to here with this constant fighting. Every time I turn around you two are at each other. What’s wrong with you all? Damn. Papa can’t even enjoy an evening with his children, his SUPPOSEDLY ADULT children, without ya’ll acting like idiots. I’m not having it. Now y’all know how much Papa likes to kick back and tell his stories and lie, whatever. You two can beat the hell out of each other later, but right now ....

HER HEART’S DANCE

SETTING --- The setting is the rickety small porch of a southern homestead. This porch is somewhat a speak-easy, the psychologist’s couch. It also is the porch of Miss Chayonne. On the evening of this setting, we find Miss Chayonne, Miss Ann, Cliff, and Sugar(a teenager) sitting around. The conversation centers around Miss Ann and a former lover for whom she still longs. It is afternoon.

As we open, Sugar, Cliff and Miss Chayonne are sitting on the porch; Miss Chayonne is waving to someone we don’t see yet, and Miss Ann enters.

CHAYONNE Hey dere Ann, I didn’ thank I was gon’ see ya today, gettin kind of late in the afternoon ain’t it?

ANN Hey dere everybody. Now Miss Chayonne you know sho as it get hot in de summer, I’m gon’ be up here gettin’ splinters stuck in my behind. Hey Sugar, you don’ snuck off from home agin.

SUGAR Yes maam.

ANN (to Sugar) That’s a mighty fine shirt you got on there, looks real pretty on ya.

SUGAR Thank you, I bought it when we went down to Thomasville yesterday. Miss Ann want me to brush your hair like I did Miss Chayonne’s.

CLIFF (rising from an apparent sleep) Some damn body need to do somethin’ wit’ it. She ain’t combed it since she been ugly and dat’s been a damn sho long time.

ANN You need to just shut up. Ain’t nobody seen de white of yo eyes ever. Come to thank of it, don’t nobody even know how tall you is, cause yo tail been stuck to de same corner of dat porch since ya ugly wife lef’ ya.

CHAYONNE Y’all carrin’ on like chillen. Sugar likes to do hair Ann, dat’s all. She didn’ mean no harm.

ANN I knows dat Miss Ann. But Cliff need to keep his ole drunk mouth shet. He prob’ly de one be tellin’ folks I ain’ combed my hair in ten years. But I don’t need to, I gots natu’lly fine hair.

CLIFF (bursts out in laughter) Ah -huhm need to fine somethin’ to do wit’ it.

ANN You know what Cliff, when I was younger, this same fine hair, he’ped me git de best man in de wurld.

SUGAR Who was that Miss Ann?

ANN Sugar, Miss Chayonne, when I was younger, not that I’s old now. But years ago I had me a man, finer than wine and smoother than cake batter. Girl that man could do it to me good. Ohoh, ‘cuse me Sugar, Miss Ann didn’ mean to talk like that in fron’ of ya.

SUGAR It’s all fine Miss Ann. Go on.

Miss Ann moves out into the brief yard in front of the porch, she is sashaying, happy, free flowing.

ANN Chayonne jes thinkin’ ‘bout dat man now don’ gave me mo’ energy dan I don’ had in a long time. Sugar, when I knew he was coming to see me, I’d get extra special dolled up. Come here let me show you. (She pulls Sugar out into the yard, and motions for her to mimick her.) I’d slide on my nylons. Naw Sugar, you ain’t pulling on long-johns, you got slide dem nylons on real slow and ‘liberate like, so dey look smooth on your legs, like dat there you go. Then I’d walk ‘round the room in dem for a minute, so dey got the chance to look natural on my legs. Then I’d dig threw my special box, and pull out my purls, lay ‘em round my neck so dey hung right here between ma titties.

CHAYONNE Ann!

ANN Now come on Chayonne, the girl 15 she know what titties is, she got ‘em, ain’t she.

CHAYONNE Dat ain’t the point. That’s why her people don’t wan’ her up hyere. Cause she learn all kinds of foolishness.

SUGAR It’s allright Miss Chayonne, we just funning.

ANN Sho we are Sugar, come on now, drape yo purls ‘round your neck. Mighty fine, now you have to look in de mirror and see how they sparkle on your pretty brown skin. Mighty fine. And then I’d bathe in my sweet perfume, this my good perfume that I ordered from de catalog. Why Miss Sugar, you look awfully fine this evening.

SUGAR Why thank you Miss Ann Robinson, you do too. Now you all dressed up Miss Ann. Where would y’all go?

ANN We’d go sometimes to the Do-Drop Inn. But most of the times, we’d go up by Albany way, to some of them house clubs. ‘Cause they didn’ have no real club for us to party at, but somebody with a big house, always had a party going on. You pay a li’l change at the door. But now the bigger the house, the more they got fo’ you to do in there, the more money you pay.

CHAYONNE What you mean the more dey got for you to do?

ANN Well it’s like, some houses, just had chairs and one table with a bit o’ food on it, then you pay a li’l bit. But if you went to a house and dey got tables fo’ you to play cards, and some times dey have rooms for other thangs too, but we’ll discuss dat when Sugar ain’t hyere.

SUGAR Aw Miss Ann.

ANN Anyhow, if a house wit’ the card tables, den you pay mo’ money. And folks would sell chicken dinners to make dem some extra money. And dey have all kinds of liquor too.

SUGAR Sounds to be like it was li’l cramped Miss Ann.

ANN Sho it was Sugar, but baby, long as I was dancing wit’ Buck, I didn’ see nobody, I didn’ feel nobody, I didn’ smell nobody, nobody but my Buck. Uh Uh Uh, I sho miss him too. It’s been years ‘pon years since I last hyear tell of him.

SUGAR What’s wrong Miss Ann?

ANN Well Sugar baby, just de thought of being without him now makes me awful sad. Melancholy, ain’t that what folks call it melancholy.

SUGAR Whatever happened to him?

CHAYONNE Oh Lawd, chile I wished you hadn’t asked her dat.

CLIFF Sho nuff, cause she don’t know.

ANN I do to know, just ain’t nobody business.

CLIFF Yous a lie, you don’t know, yest’rdee, you said, he left a party wit some white woman, and dey killed fo’ rape, the other day, you say, some talker from up north come in dere and swoop you off your feet, big as yo feet is that’s a little swoopin’.

ANN You ain’t nothin’ but a ole drunk. I ain’t got to tell you my business.

SUGAR Tell me Miss Ann. Will you tell me?

ANN Truth Sugar. Buck and I went to Albany to a house club one Thursday night, this was a special night, cause Buck said we was celebratin’, he never did tell me what we was celebratin. I was locked tight in Buck’s arms, it felt like we was one body. We was dancing real slow like to some love music. Then Pearl Bennet come in.

SUGAR Who’s Pearl Bennet?

CHAYONNE One of dem old high class heffas.

SUGAR Oh

ANN She come rolling in dere, and teared him away from my arms. Looked him straight in the eye, and said ‘you knows you my man, why you got to be dancing wit’ the likes of her’. Then he says to her, ‘you ought not put folks down like that Pearly darlin’, we’s just dancin.’ Then he looks back at me and says, get yo’self a ride home Annie Bell, I need to calm her down. Then he runs out the door behind her. And I follow him wit’ my eyes, cause I reckon I was to stupid to follow him wit’ my feets. That was the last time I laid eyes on him.

SUGAR Wa’nt he from Pelham Miss Ann?

ANN Naw, he was from Thomasville. Pearl Bennet was from Albany. Her people opened a li’l juke joint up there not to long after I saw her that night.

CLIFF Sho did. She had de man and your money, cause you took your hot tail up there time after time looking for dat boy. (mimicking her) Wit’ yo nylons, and yo purls, and yo sweet perfume.

ANN He wa’nt never there tho. I sho do miss the way he danced. Lord couldn’t he dance.

CHAYONNE Folks say he moved up north for a spell. Then come back done hyear. He co’ted a few women de same way.

ANN Old Parker say that big tornado a few years ago, picked up his house wit’ him in it, took him on away from here.

SUGAR Why Miss Ann, he probably died of a broken heart, being without you and all. That’s what happened, he probably had a broken heart.

ANN He showed loved me to Sugar, And I loved him. Run in the house for Miss Ann and get me some ice fo’ ma drink baby. I feels sud’ly likes I need to be cooled off.