TEA WITH MRS. DICKINSON IN A TEXAS BROTHEL by Harvey Perr

MAN

(after long pause)

I’ve been waiting. I’ve been standing here.

WOMAN

Are you flirting with me?

MAN

Standing here.

WOMAN

You are, aren’t you? Being flirtatious with me?

MAN

Just standing. Like this.

WOMAN

Well, sit down, for heaven’s sake. Sit down.

MAN

Thank you, maam.

WOMAN

Take the weight off your feet.

MAN

Thank you, maam.

WOMAN

Waiting for someone in particular?

Blonde? Auburn? Curls? Men do like curls.

MAN

I was told that Mrs. Dickinson….

WOMAN

Suzanna? You waiting for Suzanna?

MAN

That she would be right down but I have…

WOMAN

Suzanna is not one of our girls.

MAN

….been waiting for quite some time, maam.

WOMAN

She lives here. But she is not one of our girls.

MAN

I must speak to her.

WOMAN

She needs her rest. She has been pulled. This way. And that.

MAN

I won’t. I promise. Take up too much of her time.

WOMAN

The way they pulled at her. She is a young un. My lord,
she is practically. A child. A child bride she was. Pulled
at her. This way. And that. It’d be a kindness to just leave her be.

MAN

I understand, maam.

WOMAN

A kindness to yourself. And to that poor child.

MAN

I will not take up….

WOMAN

Just leave her be.

MAN

Yes, maam.

WOMAN

Had her recruitin’ they did. Recruitin’ mind you. After
what she went through. Recruitin’ honey. You know what
I am talking about.

(SUZANNA enters)

WOMAN

Why, here she is now. Sweet child. Sweet little thing.

MAN

(standing)

Mrs. Dickinson.

WOMAN

See what I mean? A child.

MAN

I come here about my boy.

(after a pause, introducing himself)

Jefferson Bull.

SUZANNA

(to WOMAN)

Could you bring us some tea? And some of those
nice biscuits.

WOMAN

I sure will, honey. Be right back.

(WOMAN leaves)

SUZANNA

Sit down, sir. Ain’t no sense
standin’ on ceremony. We don’t stand on no ceremony here.

(MAN sits down)

MAN

(after a long pause)

Maam.

SUZANNA

I don’t know no Jefferson Bull.

MAN

That is my name. I come here account of my son.

Harrison. Harrison Bull.

SUZANNA

I don’t know no Jefferson Bull. I don’t know no Harrison Bull.

MAN

He was there.

SUZANNA

Where?
Oh, yes. Well, I never knew no one by their names.
But if he were there, he must have crossed over the line.
Them that was there, they crossed over the line. There wasn’t
nobody didn’t cross the line. Ceptin’ maybe one. I think there
was one didn’t cross the line. So… if he crossed the line…. he
were there….. Cept I didn’t know no one by their names.

MAN

He was just a boy. Fair haired. Tall. For his age.

SUZANNA

They was all just boys. They was so many of them.
Fair haired. Tall. For their age.

MAN

If you could just tell me what you saw.

SUZANNA

I didn’t see nothing.

MAN

Anything.

(Pause)

I come a long ways.

SUZANNA

I didn’t see nothing from where I was hidin’
I was hidin’ in the church. From where I was,,,,,,
I….I didn’t see nothing. I was too scared to look.
I was looking for my little girl. I couldn’t find my

little girl.

(WOMAN returns with tea and biscuits)

SUZANNA

Oh, there you are. Have some tea, Mr…..

MAN

Bull. Jefferson Bull

SUZANNA

Please…..Mr. Bull.

And a biscuit, Mr. Bull.

MAN

I’m not hungry.

SUZANNA

They’s scrumptious…..Mr. Bull.

WOMAN

Have a biscuit.

MAN

Thank you. No.

WOMAN

Have it your own way. I’ll have one.
Man doesn’t know what’s good for him.
Now don‘t tire yourself out, honey.

(WOMAN leaves, after taking a long hard look at the MAN)

SUZANNA

You won’t taste a biscuit good as that. Take my word.

(PAUSE)

SUZANNA

No…..I didn’t see nothin’ I told them I seen things,,,,
they seemed to want to know…..but I didn’t see nothing
…not from where I was crouchin’……I told them what
they wanted to hear…..I told them I ain’t never seen nothin’
like what I seen that day….I told them I never know’d men could do
such horrible things to each other….I told them…what I…..
what I… imagined ….yes, that were it. What I. Imagined.
Told them I ain’t never seen so much blood.

(Pause)

But I didn’t see nothin’ Like I said. I didn’t see nothin’

(Pause)

Well, that ain’t exactly the whole truth. I did see the Colonel
prayin. Real quiet like. From where I was crouchin’
….in the church…I could see…the Colonel…..prayin.

(Pause)

And when they led me out of there,,,,when it was over,,,,,
and they took me out of there…. I saw him lyin’ there
right outside the church…. The Colonel….like he prayed and walked out of
the church…into the sunlight…and got killed right then…and
there.

(Pause)

That’s what I seen. Dead men everywhere.

MAN

I’m sorry, maam.

SUZANNA

I didn’t want to look. But I was lookin for my little girl.

MAN

Maam.

SUZANNA

And they took me to the fort and there was the General….
And you know what he was doin? He had these fat fingers. Soft fat fingers.
And he was bouncin’ my little girl on his lap and he said….he spoke real
good English….better than I’d ever heared….and he said my little girl was the
prettiest little girl….the smartest little girl…he’d ever seen and if I wanted he’d take
her back to Mexico and see to it she had the best education…that she’d be treated
like a little princess…only the best…for her…only….

(Pause)

Up and down. On his lap.

(Pause)

Named for a saint. Twere a lady saint, it were. Santa Anita?
Up and down.

MAN

You’re sure.
Harrison Bull.
The name means nothing?

SUZANNA

Sometimes I think….

(PAUSE)

Maybe we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Please.
Half a biscuit?

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