It’s post 2016 election at a carnival. We see a LAWYER and a JUDGE fighting on The Flying Dutchman. The lawyer brandishes a pen while the judge wields a golden gavel. Both stagger back and forth with their weapons of choice as the Dutchman whooshes and rocks full tilt. Bloodied and torn tickets swirl shapelessly about in the darkness.
A few minutes before dawn, sunlight casts three blurred shadows on what appears to be a 12’ x 12’ scrim: GRAND MÁS, the group’s elder, a self-deprecating trickster woman, TARDIS, a “water bear”, and JABBERWOCKY. They are all aware that an “X-MAN” has been sent to kill them.
Grand Más stands, removes her modified Steampunk goggles, yawns, and begins rapping: I get up early in the morning, but I can’t get out of bed. Gotta put my shoes on first, so i can crush some losers’ heads.
They are all waiting on the group’s scout, SEARCHER, a soldier, to return with possible relocation options. DORCAS, a quirky male of Irish decent, enters the hallway in manic mode. He asks about the X-Man’s ETA. Meanwhile, ROCK-N-ROLL WIDOW, 29, ethnically ambiguous, is in the bathroom waiting on something just as ominous as the X-Man — a pregnancy test.
Searcher returns with his report of possible relocation options and notices a peculiar smell. Jabberwocky has bathed himself in citronella oil and tea tree oil to protect him from insects when/if they go outside.
With Widow still missing, they begin discussing the options. They debate the merits and logistics of an HOA in Georgia, an Upstate New York Mansion rented out to the tv/film industry, or a farm in Colorado.
Searcher has told them all wild stories about the death of their friends, “Jimmy” and “Cornbread”, which are reminiscent of Jimmy Hoffa. This makes everyone cautious about leaving. No one really knows which, if any, of the “cornbread” stories are true.
As they are discussing options a knock on the door brings Grand Más and Jabberwocky out of the darkness. Jabberwocky decides to hide on a plastic covered couch in the living room, ESTER, their host, is sitting on. Ester is smoking a cigarette, sweating and drinking her morning coffee. Ester rises to answer the door spilling her coffee. A sweaty, coffee citronella and tea tree oil melee ensues between Ester and Jabberwocky. Ester drops her cigarette, which ignites the dust bunnies sticking to Jabberwocky, who limps back into the cover of darkness.
But, it wasn’t the X-Man as feared, it was HILLARY, an end of life saleswoman who is summarily sent away by Ester with a threat of reporting her under New York’s Door-to-Door Sales Protection Act. After Grand Más and Jabberwocky return to the hallway, they discuss Ester’s “big ol’ butt’, which brings Widow out of the restroom, afraid that she (or her butt) is the topic of conversation. Widow pretends she was just doing a lice treatment on her hair.
Searcher tells more “cornbread” stories, each one more fantastical than the last. Some stories involve jalapenos, cracklins, excess Crisco, and even a “yuuuuge skillet that was precariously perched on a display table” at a carnival.
Amidst the stories, the group endeavors to reach a decision on where and if they should relocate before the X-Man arrives. Jabberwocky recalls what happened the last time he ventured out with his pet chicken “BLINDY” on a “dark and stormy night”.
Various trivialities and problems repeatedly derail their decision-making process. They all have reasons to remain where they are or objections to relocating including Jabberwocky’s visceral reaction to anything pointy-toed in Georgia, Widow’s desire to be a background player if they move to the Upstate New York mansion, to meeting an online rival for an MTV special, or getting makeup tips from a New York Drag Queen. Tardis wants to live near a Sprouts.
The true “cornbread” story is revealed. Cornbread was a carny. Everyone was at a circus back when Grand Más was just a lowercase “g”. Here, we revisit the opening scene. It is a carnival, but only an illusion of one — it is a film set. Cornbread was trampled by 300 background players when the Director said: “That’s a wRAP”! But, he survived — and he sued the bastards — the lawyers and judges that is.
Everyone knows the “true” story about Cornbread, but they still haven’t made a decision about whether or where to move. Ester receives a phone call from Kelly Faircloth, who describes for the first time, what the X-Man looks like:
“He looks like an ambitious corn dog that escaped from a concession stand at a rural Alabama fairground, stole an unattended wig, hopped a freight train to Atlantic City… and never looked back.”
Ester is okay with that, as long as he keeps kosher.
With no decision made, they have run out of time as the X-Man finally knocks on the door. It’s “Donald Drumpf”, the exterminator. He assures Ester that she should “rest easy” and that he’s only there to bomb her house for roaches. The “scrim” is in fact, a fumigation tent.
Everyone moves from behind the shadows and their physical forms are revealed — The Rappin’ Roaches, who RAP a parody of 50 Cent’s “I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy”.
And, that’s a wRAP, y’all! Bon Appétit!
Gina Mae York, B.Sc., P.G., J.D., is a mother of three wonderful children and a grandmother of two.
For over two decades Ms. York’s publications focused primarily on peer reviewed scientific, technical and legal issues. Ms. York’s law review on Environmental Justice was selected as lead article by North Carolina Central University Law Review, and has had numerous citations since.
Ms. York began to shift her focus to creative writing in 2004. “Damage Control”, which “showed an innate ability to cut into the molecular pacing of a life event and its shadows” (anonymous), was admittedly born of vengeance and of therapy, but unleashed her true spirit in narrative non-fictional writing. However, her first screenplay “Death by Cornbread” takes a much lighter side to life and its “shadowy” figures.
Gina is currently working on her third screenplay “Differential Consciousness”, an awkward concoction of SciFi and Evangelicalism
Right Brain vs. Left Brain: A Story of Inclusion
“Gina Who?”, ca. 2004
I am a 53-year old white woman with three children and two grandchildren. Beyond that, I can’t say there’s ever been a particular demographic group to which I felt I belonged for any length of time. I am the oldest of five children my mother, Alethea Coleman, raised on welfare. We all had different fathers. We moved constantly when the rent would become past-due, or the utilities were scheduled to be cut off, or when my mother would believe in a fairy tale romance and re-marry. I learned at an early age that nothing lasts long—hardships, happy times… men.
It wasn’t until my mother went to college and obtained an R.N. license, under extraordinary financial hardship, that our lives changed. She would leave for school often not knowing whether she had enough gas to get there, or back. She’d later tell me stories about how she’d run out of gas, walk up to a house and say she forgot her wallet and beg for gas or money.
I was raised on songs like “Fancy”, “Po’ Folks”, and “Coat of Many Colors”. But I didn’t need to be nice to men like “Fancy”, or anyone for that matter, because I was pretty, and I was smart. I didn’t care what other people thought because I was secure in who I was. I wasn’t poor, I was proud. As an adult, this life of “temporariness” shadowed me through two marriages, that unsurprisingly, ended in divorce. I didn’t need anyone at all, except my children.
Then, my youngest was taken away in a brutal custody battle that was caught up in a collateral lawsuit against not only my law school, but judges, lawyers, and legal institutions. That was over ten years ago. My world forever changed and I will be forever changed because of it. I was right, they were wrong, so I sued the bastards. But, I was weak, and they were strong. And I lost. I lost big.
My C.V. contains an exhaustive list of publications from peer-reviewed scientific journals to law review citations. My only outlet following the events that gradually dissipated only these past few years, was creative writing. I only “survived” (if that’s what you would call it) because of it.
With all my education and degrees and extensive publications nothing mattered and nothing seemed to help find a place in this world, until I began writing what really mattered to
me, not what I was expected to. Stories that need to be told based on my renewed life experiences that have crossed virtually every social and economic demographic group imaginable on a grand and intense scale.
“Damage Control” was born of vengeance and of therapy. I often question the weight of each scale as I continue to push through and re-open old battle scars that should be long healed. But that is my nature. That is how I fit in. That is who I am. I don’t know whether I will ever overcome my childhood upbringing, or the events of the past decade, but I’m okay with that and more importantly so are my children. It’s here, if anywhere, I feel included for the first time in my life.
So, at 53 I find myself practically homeless living a vagabond life similar to my mother’s before she went to college. However, now I wear my past not on my shoulders as a millstone, but in my heart as a badge of honor — a testament to survival, and one of inclusion in a world I’d never imagined before. I am a writer. But I’m not alone anymore. I see myself in every stranger’s eyes.