By Frederic Lyon Glover
The following is "a monologue delivered from a son to his father,"
from the full-length play, Killing Jazz.
Silas washes blood off his hands. Jazz sleeps. Blue starts a fire.
Blue ...we had no livestock except chickens and pigs but you said we needed a corn crib. And I believed you. Believed you with the absolute belief of a boy for his father. We cut and hammered and painted for the month of May. Dug into the earth with our bare hands and planted six inches deep. All Summer-out in the field, that corn grew tall and strong and green. In September, we shucked away the husks from the seeds and piled the corn cobs in the crib to dry. And in October-you sat on the back porch, got stoned, played your guitar-and sang songs about the beauty of Nature. The smell of marijuana drifted across the land. Autumn sunlight cut through the mountain pines...
Then-came the rats. Big grey wood rats. They crawled out of the lawn. Ate out of the corn crib. Nested in the barn. I'd open the door to feed the chickens in the morning, and they'd scurry over my boots. After a week-they didn't even run-they turned and they hissed. You wouldn't buy D-Con.
You didn't want to poison the land. You said-"It's an act of nature." Like we somehow... deserved it. Like we shouldn't fight back. As if-they had some right to come and eat what we'd grown. I wanted to believe you. Needed to believe you. And I probably would have kept on believing you-if Jazz hadn't gotten bit on the face. The next day-I went down to the hardware store after school and bought the D-Con. I put the cardboard packets out-and in a few days-the rats were gone. You sat there in your den-lit a joint-and smiled. Not a nice smile. Not a proud smile. A "wait and see" smile.
Three days later... I came home from football practice-got off the bus-and found over thirty rats littered across our lawn. D-Con didn't kill them-it only burned out their stomachs. Vomiting blood-they climbed out of their holes to search for water and cool air. They panted. Their ribs quivered.
They lay on their backs and kicked. Refused to die. You wouldn't do anything, just smiled like you'd won something, proved something. So-I took my baseball bat and I beat their skulls against the frozen ground. I picked up what was left by the tail-put them in a wheelbarrow-pushed it out to the field-dumped them in a heap-and burned them. For a week- every afternoon-when I came home from football practice, there were more rats on our lawn. You wouldn't help. You said-I poisoned the land-it was my responsibility. And each day-with each mess of blood and guts and squealing vomit on my work boots-I swore I would never-never-never-believe you again.