Below is an excerpt from the full play by S.K. Clarke, SUMMER IN THE LIGHT/WINTER IN THE SHADE.
SITL/WITS is a collection of monologues about a fictional town based on a very real place. The play follows 6 characters the year after the 9/11 attacks.
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1 – Fred “Lanny” Lanahan
Ah, shit… So, uh, hello. Can’t believe ya’re’ll here on a count’ve me. Don’t really know what ya’re’ll expectin’. This ain’t no dog and pony show, ya hear? This ain’t for your benefit, so ya can quit thinkin’ that right off the bat. I ain’t gonna stand up here and entertain’ ya. This ain’t your story ‘n there ain’t no moral, so don’t make it apply. Ya ain’t me ‘n I ain’t your granddadddy or brother or Joe from down the road. I ain’t them ‘n ya ain’t me. For one thing, ya ain’t dyin’. I am. Though. Dyin’. Ya see… I knew before I even went tuh the doctors. I’m a lost cause, ya hear? Ya gotta remember that. I’m a lost cause. I’m dyin’. I was born ‘n now I’m dyin’. ‘N why should anyone care? My wife, Bea, would’ve, I guess. But yous don’t ‘n
yous don’t have tuh. No one cares that someone is dyin’, so long as it ain’t them. All ‘em terrorists ‘n shit? We all went, “Oh, that’s sad. Phew! It ain’t me!” AmIright? Well, amIright? If ya did – really care, I mean, ya’d’ve died too. But ya didn’t. Ya lived. ‘N that’s the difference ‘tween me ‘n yous guys – you’re gonna walk outta here ‘n you’re gonna live. I’m not. I’ll be dead before ya’s hit the door. ‘N ya’all go, “Thank God it ain’t me!” ‘N all I’ll be is a coffin in the back’ve your mind. A coffin, ya hear? Just like all them other dead that went ‘fore me. Ya got tons of ‘em ‘n so do I. Coffins, that is. Coffins full uh mothers ‘n fathers, friends, brothers, lovers, grand this, ‘n great great that. They line up behind ya wherever ya go. All your dead. Buck ‘n Bea ‘n… Mack… Everyone. All behind me. ‘N it’s dirty ‘n wormy ‘n muddy ‘n rainy ‘n bones ‘n flesh – that’s what’s behind each ‘n everyone of ya’s. A whole pile uh shit. And me? I’ll just be another one added tuh the pile. See, maybe that’s what makes us who we are, ya hear? All them coffins. They make us who we are – not goin’ tuh confession with priests ‘n beads ‘n shit holy water – the filthy dead define us. ‘Cuz we live ‘n they don’t. When ya’s leave this room, I’ll just be one more coffin added tuh your shadow. Just one more. So, you’re…Uh, well… You’re welcome.
2 – Kitty Wannamaker Gray
I don’t know much about God, save from what Reverand Stern tells me each Sunday. He talks so lovely about how unworthy we are to be God’s children and how we let Jesus Christ die on the cross and the bountiful feast that lies before us in the Kingdom of Heaven. I nod and sing “Amen,” but, usually, I take the time to make a note of the many things I have to accomplish during the week. So, no, I guess I don’t know much about it. But I was watching this program on television, some nature documentary, and I was only sort of half-listening, because I was trying to straighten up a bit before William got home from work. He had been traveling all week, so I wanted to make things extra nice for him. So, I was half-watching this nature show about birds. I’m not sure exactly what kind – wild ones, though, not the kind you’d find in our backyard or anything! I’m sorta watching it and sorta straightening up and these birds, you see, they build their nests right in the walls of cliffs! Right alongside huge mountain cliffs, that’s where they build their nests and raise their young and everything. Which I think is really dangerous and can’t possibly be safe, because the drop was, well, I can’t remember how many feet, but it was large and if you fell, you surely wouldn’t make it. The program said that when the babies reached a certain age, I can’t remember what age, but before they’re big, the mother bird just pushes them out of the nest! Just like that! Out of the nest and off the edge of the cliff! I’m not exaggerating! So, the babies are all falling down the cliff, falling, falling, falling because they haven’t been taught how to fly yet. So, they keep falling, falling, falling, and I’m about to turn the television off because, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t care to see hundreds of baby birds fall to their death! But, for some reason, I don’t. I keep watching. And the baby birds are falling, falling, falling when all of a sudden – voila! They all start flying! All of them! Hundreds of birds start flying all at once! And I thought – that’s life! That’s God! When William came home, I kissed him for so long and he sorta chuckled and said, “What’s gotten into you, Kitty?” And I said, “Life, my love! Life!”
3 – Biddy Strauss
I keep tellin’ ya, with sucha small town it’s just so awful ‘cuz everyone knows everyone else’s business. Ya just can’t have any secrets. There just ain’t no privacy. Within a matter uh hours everyone knows that Kitty Gray’s husband, William Gray, is sleepin’ with his secretary while poor Kitty stays home and takes care of those awful, bratty children, poor thing. I mean, everyone knows it. ‘Cept for Kitty. It’s just so obvious. And, speakin’ uh obvious, did ya hear that Buck’s Bar & Grill caught fire last night? Well, it’d be no surprise to me if Buck’s Family were the ones to set fire to that bar of theirs. I hear they needed the insurance money. I mean, everyone knows they’ve been havin’ money issues. I’m surprised it got past the investigators. I mean, they’re the professionals. They’re the people we’re supposed to trust. Oh! The scandal! I just can’t imagine! But, there are some families that just… Well, it’s almost too sad to talk about. Ya just feel so awful. The poor Jacobs family – how terrible! Just one thing after the other. I mean, did ya hear the latest? That son, not the eldest son, he was murdered in Philadelphia a couple years back by some black people, not him, but the middle son, he got into a horrible car accident last week. Just horrible. I heard he was out for awhile. They didn’t know if he would wake up or anything… And the youngest son? He’s the one that tried to kill himself last year, and I hear it was ‘cuz he’s a gay person. Well, needless to say, they’re pretty worried about if the middle son, the one with the accident, can walk or not, ya know… Neck injury and all. And that father is of no use. He’s unemployed. Got fired, I hear. And Mrs. Jacobs can’t leave him ‘cuz uh one reason or other. And, I don’t know if ya’ve seen her recently, but she has definitely put on some weight. Poor thing. But, I guess it’s to be expected with what she’s going through. And it’s not like she gets much money working at that little country store. God love ‘em. All them medical bills. I just don’t know! But I do know it isn’t polite to talk about people, especially people like the Jacobs. I just think it’s awful what she has to go through. Just awful! God bless her soul!