Extract of The Thief Of Time
- by T.C. Coffer
Bill Peru Did I make that call last night?
Jig Daniels The long distance to Chicago? Sure, Bill.
Enter Cody Jarrett.
Cody Jarrett Well, I’ll have some of the Real McCoy…I’m looking for some strange strange, if you get my meaning.
(leers at coloured female)
I’ve just collected from some union-bustin’ ans I’m fixing to raise Hell; handled them just like they did in Aberdeen and Centralia. “Clean ‘em up an’ burn ‘em out,” that’s what I say. Yup, now I’m fixing to raise me some Hell…
Peru Is that so, Cody? How’s your mother doin’, Cody?
Jarrett Just fine. Have you seen my kid brother around? I was supposed to meet him here.
Peru Been showing him the ropes, Cody?
Jarrett None of your business.
Peru When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson.
Jarrett You never miss a good chance to shut up, do you, Bill? Anyway, what are you drivin’ at?
Peru Just give your mother my regards; I know what a close family you have, Cody,
CF It’s time for ‘Our Gal Sunday’, Jig. Could you put the radio on, Jig?
Daniels Not tonight, Maggie.
CM Excuse me, Mr Peru, is it true you’re a friend of Mr Dillinger?
Peru Why you askin’, son?
CM My name is Billy Youngblood - Herbert is my second cousin.
Peru Well he’d better not be seen in public now that Johnnie’s crossed the state line. That fucker Hoover is gonna make him a dead-man, and all of his friends.
Jarrett That include you, Bill?
Peru Yeh, I guess so. Fucked by a freemason and a transvestite, who'd a thought, eh?
Jarrett Well, I don’t what know a freemason is, but Hoover was born in Washington D.C., an’ I know that for a fact…
CM You think they really killed all those people, Mr Peru?
Peru Nah, you shouldn’t believe everythin’ you read in the funny papers.
CM I can’t read, suh.
Peru There are three kinds of men, son; the one’s that learn by reading; then… (to Daniels)…the few who learn by observation; finally…(to Jarrett)…the rest of them have to pee on the ‘lectric fence for themselves.
Jarrett Mr Fuckin’ Know-It-All. How’d you get so smart?
Peru From my grandfather.
Jarrett Oh, yeah..? What did you learn that’s so special?
Peru That nothing changes, that fuckers like you are always around doing dirty work for the bosses. My grandfather came over on the boat from the Old Country … Both of them had a price on their heads.
Jarrett Yeah, a nickel and a dime.
Peru Started a cooperage together, then had a parting of the ways; my grandfather went back to union-organising, Pinkerton to union-bustin’. My grandfather never forgave him for the McParland case. Hung twenty good men out to dry.
Daniels That why you joined the Wobblies, Bill?
Peru I guess so, but the Mellen Street Bridge cured me of that.
Daniels What really happened down there?
Peru Believe me, Jig, you don’t want to know.
Jarrett Yeah, those reds down in Centralia really got what was coming to them… just like today.
Peru Lettin’ the cat outa the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it in.
Jarrett You’d know all about that then, Bill.
Peru What’s that supposed to mean, Cody.
Jarrett It means you’re a liar, a black liar, Bill. You know exactly what I mean. Your ‘phone calls to Chicago were recorded last night. Bill, the only record you’re gonna make is “Singing My Heart Out”, special policeman blues, on the Stoolie label. That’s right, the Feds not only recorded you, Bill, they’ve got a new-fangled contraption that can trace the time and location of any call they want. It’s a long distance from Oolagah to Chicago, straight to Fink Central. We got the tip-off from them about where your Wobblie friends were gonna be this afternoon. Got one of them with a triangulated head-shot ‘n the rest just scattered like the cockroaches they are. What you gonna say to your red friends now, Peru?
Peru If I was brave enough to be coward enough I would’ve went back…
Jarrett Nobody’s listening, songbird. All you’re gonna meet from now on are closed mouths and voodoo-eyes. I’ll personally see to that. Oh, and about Centralia, does the name John Doe Davis ring a bell?
With friends like you, does Dillinger need an enemy? He won’t even make it to Miller’s Crossing.
Gestures to Jig.
Pour me a drink, boy, I’m going to take a stroll. Down to Jimmy the Priest’s, see if my brother’s down there.
Exits. Jig Daniels looks around the almost empty roadhouse
then, catching Maggie’s eye, turns on radio.
R.A. “Two separate vigilante gangs were involved in a shoot out today resulting in one fatality. The Governor has stated that vigilante groups cannot be tolerated. It is believed that the two groups of thugs, acting independently, surrounded an abandoned ‘Jungle Camp’, and mistaking each other for the vagrants they intended to run out of town, opened fire indiscriminately.
We now return you to ‘Our Gal Sunday’”.
Music plays as Lomax enters.
Lomax I’m looking for Bill Peru.
The Curtain Falls