Papa In The Ground Under A Tumbleweed Headstone.

by Serge Bielanko

Today is Pioneer Day. If you're not from Utah/in Utah/schooled on the eclectic history of Utah, then I guess just Google it. Pioneer Day. Anyway, I like the idea of walking across the wild continent in the 1840's and 1850's. So I believe it is time that the Bielanko family gets their chance. I will take the liberty of making Violet about 7 years old here, for dialogue's sake...

Scene: Dusty hot trail somewhere in middle of unsettled North America. From distant horizon stretching back a mile or more, men and women pull handcarts westward. They move slowly, steadily.

Serge: I am tired of pulling this goddamn thing. What are we doing? I'll bet we get eaten by dinosaurs before the week is up.

Monica: Oh Serge, don't frighten Violet with such Fool Speak (hits him on the back
of his sun-burnt neck with a blackened heavy skillet).

Violet: Oh Mama! Peace at last! I believe he is still very much alive, the Negative Coot!Shall we lay him on the cart?

Monica: Yes, swiftly, darling! We mustn't fall out of line with the train. Dark'll be upon us soon and Lord knows what abominations call this country home.

(Mother and Daughter struggle but manage to heave the floppy body of the Man Figure onto the stopped cart. He lands upon his sugar cane fly rod and it snaps. The ladies giggle at the sound. Then Mama begins pulling the cart.)

Violet: What will it be like where we are headed, Mama? Is it true what they say? That we will be free from our persecutors? Free to live how we choose?

Monica: Well, there will be new freedoms, Sweetheart, but we must remember that with
new freedoms come new dangers, new troubles. And there will be those as well.

Violet: Will Father ever stop bitching about the weather, Mama?

Monica: Violet! Watch your devil'd tongue! And the answer is No. Your papa is a fearful meek manchild. As long as we have him to burden us, we shall never know true liberty no matter how far we travel.

(Miles pass underfoot. Mama's brow is specked with sweat and dust but she never complains. She hauls the cart, their few belongings/their dried beans/some gingham cloth/a kettle/the pan...all shifting endlessly to the whims of the stones in the trail. Serge is jostled awake, hours later.)

Serge: Whiskey! Tobacco! God, just a little something to ease my weary mind!

(He pulls a ratty stuffed piggy to his bosom).

I love you, Mister Mister.

(He falls back to sleep).

(Monica and Violet/Mama and Daughter take turns pulling their handcart across the wind-swept prairie. At dusk, through the hazy dust stirred up by those ahead of them on the trail, they first lay eyes on the majestic fabled Rocky Mountains.)

Monica: Blessed is that vision, child! Behold those Gates to Eden!

Violet: Oh Mama! What splendid hope fills my shell! Shall I awaken Papa? So he can
share this moment with us?

Monica: I suppose that'd be alright, darling.

Violet: Papa! Papa! Quickly Papa! Rise up and see the wonders of God before us on
melting horizon!

(Serge stirs. Groggy, he awakens and rises to one elbow.)

Serge: Huh? What the? What is it child? Why do you stir me from a dream of ale
brooks and currant crumble?

Violet: Oh look, Papa! Look yonder there! We are upon the great dividing mountains!
We've come so far! Our journey is blessed!

Serge: Huh? You must be joking me right? Tell me you're joshing me Wife! We haven't
passed the cursed mountains yet??!! We're still on the East side of Paradise?
I am dreaming surely! WHY IS THIS TRIP TAKING SO GODDAMN LONG?????!!!!

(From the fading sky, an arrow arcs gently through the late summer air. Children bustle in the dust, rag dolls at their chests. Grown men weep with joy at the sight of the far-off peaks. Women pause, drop to their knees in their long heavy dresses, and pray thanks to their Savior. No one sees the arrow dip, fall, and enter the chest of the grown man propped up in the back of his handcart.)

Serge: Oh For The Love Of Jellied Crickets! Just what I need! That stings! Violet,
get Papa some fresh mud directly!

(Then, with an obnoxious sigh: he simply lays back. Dead.)

Violet: Mama. Mama. Look.

(They both stare, but keep the handcart moving forward).

Monica: Indians?

Violet: God?

(His eyes wide open, we pull up and away from the face of the meek dead man, backwards and upwards to reveal a long line of Pioneers, a westward trail laid out before them, and beyond that...a sensational mountain range bathed in heavenly evening glow. Promise hangs thick in the air as we fade to black/close curtain).