Tales of the Times

Tale of the Times – Blaise Junker

3/25/2020

SCENE ONE. – ALVAREZ FAMILY ROOM
(9 y.o. COVINA ALVAREZ, youngest of three, sits in the “family room” of her parents’ house making a doll-sized ‘igloo’ out of rolls of toilet paper. The rolls of tissue appear to have been chewed or stabbed repeatedly and gotten wet at some point, rendering them useless for their intended purpose.
A handkerchief with blood spatter on it protrudes from the girl’s back pocket.
Her brothers play with their toys in a blanket fort nearby consisting of some quilts draped between the backs of the sofa and two dinette chairs.
ROBERTO and NADIA, the parents watch from the kitchen.)
ROBERTO
Ina, clean that up and come relax with mommy before dinner.
(The girl scrunches her face and cocks her fists on her hips.)
COVINA
But, I feel fine, and mis hermanos are still playing.
(She huffs.)
ROBERTO
Mommy has special chores for them too. Now hurry up and I’ll let you spray all the sparks from the grill, later.
(ROBERTO stands by the patio door. He holds a tray of uncooked hamburgers in the stump of his bad arm and a spray bottle of water in the other.
COVINA lights up at the offer.)
NADIA
Yes, boys, when you’re done, Vesuvio, your turn to walk the dog. Andre, you go deliver the latest distillation to Mr. Rawlings.
(The children set about their chores with minor bickering in between. Afterward, COVINA curls up on the sofa with NADIA)
SCENE TWO. – A BASEMENT DISTILLERY BELONGING TO CHUCK RAWLINGS.
(ANDRE offers a plastic jug and a rack of empty glass bottles to the older man.)
MR. RAWLINGS
Excellent, tell your mother, thank you. I’ll get to work on this right away and I’ll see you at the barbecue. Save me one of your father’s brisket burgers.
ANDRE
I can help you, Mr. Rawlings. I’m almost 16.
MR. RAWLINGS
No, thank you young man. I’ll be here a while. I wouldn’t want your parents to worry. Besides, it’s best if we do this by the book. The less anyone knows about the full process, the harder it is to compromise.
(The boy’s face shows that he is trying to process what the wizened old man is saying.)
ANDRE
Okay, whatever. See you later.
(He turns and bounds up the old, wooden stairs.
Mr. Rawlings pops the cap off the jug full of liquid before climbing a small step-ladder to the top of a distillation tank.)
MR. RAWLINGS
Feel free to grab sodas for everyone. Strawberry is the flavor of the week.
(He waits until he hears clinking of glass bottles and the basement door close before he turns his full attention to his work).
SCENE THREE.
Kids play in the shared backyard, while the adults prep the food tables.
(Nadia sees her daughter’s bloody kerchief.)
NADIA
Ina.
(The mother points to the ground.)
Go in and grab a clean one.
(COVINA dutifully reacts.)
ROBERTO
I’d like to toast those we’ve lost, and those that continue to understand and combat this terrible disease. Here’s to another year past and many more years to come.
(ROBERTO looks at his wife, his daughter and Mr. Rawlings in particular.
Mr. Rawlings approaches Covina.)
MR. RAWLINGS
A special treat just for you, Sweetie.
(CHUCK discreetly shows a medicine bottle to the ALVAREZ parents. He squeezes several drops of a blue syrup into her strawberry soda.)
LATER THAT EVENING:
SCENE FOUR. – BONFIRE PIT IN THE SAME COMMUNAL YARD
(Everyone sits on anything with a clean, flat surface, chairs, coolers, a log…
Lost gazing into the fire, COVINA coughs into her kerchief. Everyone turns to face the girl.)
COVINA
No blood, mama. Mira.
(COVINA shows the cloth to her mother, not hiding it, but not fully letting the whole gathering see. She wraps her small arms around her still seated mother’s neck in a hug.
NADIA returns the hug, and caresses the girl’s hair, pulling the girl into her lap. She gives a smile and nod to Mr. Rawlings. She reaches to touch her husband.)
FADE OUT

~ Blaise Junker

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