Mulberry, Scenes 2 and 3

James Olm continues his story about Thomas, Bean, and the mulberry tree. Lessons are learned and a mission is undertaken.

You can read the introduction and first scene here if you haven’t already.

Scene 2.  Immediately following.  Bean is up in the Mulberry tree and Thomas is down below.

Thomas

Hello Bean.

Bean

I don’t want to talk to you.

Thomas

Aw c’mon, Bean.  It hasn’t been that long.

Bean

A hundred years.

Thomas

You’re exaggerating again.

Bean

Am not.

Thomas

Are to!  You’re always exaggerating.  It’s your way of making a point.

Bean

No way.  I haven’t zaggerated in a gazillion years.

Thomas stares at him – making his point.

Yeah?  So what?

Thomas

So, I’d like you to talk to me.

Bean

What for?  You’ll just leave again anyways.

Thomas

I had to leave.

Bean

No ya didn’t.

Thomas

Aw c’mon.  You were there.  You saw what happened.  Think about it.

Bean

Mom cried a lot when you left.

Thomas

I know.

Bean

Things got a lot worse after that.

Thomas

I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Will you forgive me?

Bean – satisfied

Want a mulberry?

Thomas

It’s been a gazillion years since I’ve had one of those.

Bean

You’re funny.

Bean pulls one off the tree and drops it to Thomas.  He catches it and eats it.  He’s startled by its intense flavor.

Thomas

Hmmm.  I’ve forgotten so much.

Bean

Want another one?

Thomas

Yeah.

Bean starts gathering and throwing down mulberries faster than Thomas can catch them.

Whoa, whoa.  Slow down.  I can’t catch them all.  They’re falling on the ground.

Bean goes faster and faster, and laughs as he does it.  Thomas tries to keep up but can’t.

Stop!  They’re falling on the ground and getting dirty.

Bean – stopping

You sound like Mom.

Thomas

What?

Bean

You know, worrying about them getting dirty.  It’s just dirt.  You haven’t turned into a parent, have you?

Thomas

Gosh, I hope not.

Bean

Good.  After all, birds coulda’ pooped on those berries anyways right up in the tree.  So they’re never really totally safe.

Thomas

Good point.

Thomas picks up a mulberry from the ground and plops it into his mouth.

There!

He grins.  Bean laughs.

Bean

Are you sad?

Thomas

Oh, it just feels like I have this big hole in my gut.

Bean

Huh?  Are you bleeding?

Thomas

No.  It’s just a figure of speech.  I’ve lost something somewhere in my life.

Bean

Whad ‘ya lose?

Thomas

Not sure.

Bean

Where’d ‘ya leave it?

Thomas

I’m thinking somewhere here with you.

Bean checks his pockets.

Bean

All I got is this civil war man – his head is kinda worn off though.  I wore it down by spinning my bike tire on it. Let’s see, I also have my jack-knife, and a whole bunch of old candy wrappers.

Thomas

Milky Ways, I suppose.

Bean – counting his wrappers

One… two… three of ‘em.  It mighta’ been four, but they went through the wash so I can’t tell.

Thomas

Is that Grandpa’s old jack-knife?

Bean

Yup.  ‘Ya wanna’ see it?

Bean climbs down a bit, reaches down, and hands the knife to Thomas.  Thomas starts to open it up.  Enter Grandpa Miller, an old, retired, German farmer.  He has a thick German accent.

Bean and Grandpa

Be careful opening the/da blade, or it’ll cut ‘ya.

Light change.  Bean falls to the background, watching.

Thomas

Hey Grandpa.

Grandpa

So vhat do you tink?

Thomas

It’s beautiful.

Grandpa

Dhat jack-knife used to cut open da’ beer barrel corks, ‘ya know.

Thomas

Yeah, I know.

Grandpa

Jah.  Dhat und a lot of summer sausage unt cheese.

Thomas

I never could stomach that for breakfast.

Grandpa – laughing

You boys always fought against ze gute German traditions.  More so den your fahder.

Thomas

Hard to keep ‘em when all of your friends were eating Frosted Flakes and Wheaties.

Grandpa

Jah.  Dhose Tony Tiger flakes are pretty gute.  But Thomas, you listen to Grandpa.  Don’t forget about your roots.  Dere gute too.  Jah?

Thomas lowers his head.  Grandpa notices.

Here, take dis stick.

Grandpa breaks off a small branch from the mulberry tree.

Now start vhittlin’.

Thomas

Why?

Grandpa

Jus do it.  Don’t be bullhead.

Thomas

Whittle what?

Notches Of Life:

Grandpa

Cut by cut,

Chaving by chaving,

Da’ jack knife carves out da dream.

You don’t know vhat it vill be,

Or how it vill look,

Let da feel take you dere.

Thomas starts to whittle.

Stroke by stroke,

Sliver by sliver,

Da’ jack knife carves out da dream.

Slowly it changes its form,

Into something unique

Like da clouds dat float in da air.

Thomas

I need an idea.

What will it be?

Grandpa

Just wait, my boy,

Unt you will see.

Each slice gets you closer and closer

Grandpa and Thomas

And closer and closer.

Grandpa

Patience, my boy,

Is da key.

Cut by cut,

Chaving by chaving,

Da’ jack knife carves out da dream.

But each vhittle you make

Is a part of da journey.

Dere’s so much at stake

Vhen you trust in da journey.

Gott vill be avake

Vhen you’re living da’ journey.

Each cut is a notch of your life.

Grandpa puts his hand on Thomas’s shoulder.

Each cut is a notch of your life.

Grandpa pats Thomas on the shoulder and exits.  Thomas closes the jack knife.  He hands Bean the branch he carved.

Thomas

Here.  I made this for you.

Bean

Aw, cool!  I can put a string on it and make it into a little bow!

Thomas

It’s got notches on each end…

Bean

Thanks!  You can keep the knife if ya want.

Thomas – handing it back to him

Thanks, but I already have one.  (takes one out of his pocket)  See?

Bean – climbing high

Good ole’ Gramps.  Hey, Thomas, come on up.

Thomas

Way up there?

Bean

Yeah.  Where I am.

Thomas

Oh, I don’t know.  I’ve got my good clothes on.

Bean

So?  What good are …

Bean and Thomas

…clothes if you can’t get ‘em dirty?

Thomas

Yeah, I know, I know.

Bean

So c’mon up.

Bean breaks off a branch and opens up his pocket knife.  Thomas climbs the tree and joins Bean.  Thomas opens up his knife and both start whittling. We watch them swaying in the wind for a moment.  They stop whittling, and look out at the view, beholding the beautiful world – catching the wonderful moment of freedom in the wind.

Thomas

I’ve forgotten how beautiful the view is up here.

Bean

Yup.  Can I help ‘ya find that thing ya lost?

Thomas

Yeah.  I’d appreciate that.

Bean

It’s getting dark.  Mom’s gonna’ wonder where I am.

Thomas

Just a couple more minutes, ok?

Bean looks over to Thomas and smiles.  They lay back in their tree spots and gaze out into the night-arriving sky, whittling intermittently.  They begin to whistle the melody to Notches of Life.

Fade to dark, with cicadas and crickets chirping in the background.

♦◊♦

Scene 3.  Crickets and cicadas are chirping and buzzing, and an occasional frog is croaking.  Mick and Bean are climbing out of their second floor bedroom window.  Mick leads the way.  They have to hang out the window, and with their feet, feel for the meter post and meter box on the side of the house.  From the meter box, down a ways further, a stone window ledge that’s under the first floor window, and then it’s a jump to the ground.  They speak in hushed tones.

Mick – hanging from the box

See.  There’s nothing to it.  Just dangle your feet, slide down the post and land right on the box.  From there the window ledge and then it’s an easy jump down to the ground.

Bean

I don’t know.

Mick

Just get your butt out the window.

C’mon, Bean.

You can do it.

Bean starts dangling out the window.  Mick makes his jump to the ground.

Bean

I can’t feel the box!  I can’t feel the box!

Mick

Slide down the post, stupid.

You’ll get through it

If you do it.

Bean starts to cautiously slide down, finds the box and takes a big sigh.

Bean

I got it!

Mick

Shhh, ya idiot!  ‘Ya wanna’ wake mom and dad?

Now jump to the ground.

C’mon, Bean,

Don’t play around.

Hurry up, Bean.

Bean

Are you sure?

Mick

Just do it!

Bean

Ok ok.

Bean jumps fearfully, and lands in a heap on the ground.

Mick

Good job, Bean.

He puts out his hand for the ritual brother’s handshake.  They shake.

Both

Brothers unite!

 

Brothers Unite:

Mick

We’ve got apples to eat.

We’ve got places to see.

We’ve got everythin’ and anythin’ that

Brothers can be.

And now you’re runnin’ with me.

As long as you can keep up!

It’s time for us

To climb up Strakken’s apple tree!

It’s time for us

To climb up Strakken’s apple tree!

As they start running across the yard, Thomas appears, leaning against the Mulberry tree, waiting for them.  They stop in their tracks.

Thomas

Hi boys.

Bean

Oh oh.

Mick

We’re dead.

Thomas

Where’re you going?

Mick

Nowhere.

Thomas

In the middle of the night?

Bean

We’re goin’ to Strakken’s apple tree!

Mick

Shut up!  You want to get us into more trouble?

Thomas

Hey, I’m your brother.

Mick

Yeah, but you’ve been gone a long time.  How can we trust you?

Bean

He still eats Mulberries off the ground!

Thomas picks up a Mulberry from the ground and eats it.

Mick

Not good enough.  I need real proof.

Thomas

I haven’t forgotten, Mick.

Thomas walks over to Mick and starts the Brothers Unite handshake.  Mick joins in.  Bean laughs!

Thomas

Can I tag along?

Mick – smiling

Yeah.

Bean

Yippee Skippy!

Off they run, alongside the cornfield, as they head toward Strakken’s house.

Thomas

Brothers unite!

Brothers we are!

We’re the best of friends

And best of buds in the world by far.

Brothers unite.

Bean

Friends ‘til the end!

Mick

Let the darkness come and dare us.

Let the scary danger scare us.

This adventure’s to prepare us.

Tonight!

‘Cuz brothers

All three

We unite!

Mick

There’s her house!

Bean

It’s even spookier at night than it is during the day.

Mick

Yeah.  Cool, isn’t it?

Thomas

How many times have you done this, Mick?

Mick

Oh, twenty times, I suppose.

Bean

Wow, you’re brave.

Mick

You can be too, Bean.

They come up to Strakken’s picket fence.

Bean

Are you sure we should do this?

Mick

Getting scared?

Bean

No.  But what if she hears us?  She’s a witch, ya know.

Mick

We run like hell.

We’ve got apples to eat.

We’ve got places to see.

We’ve got everythin’ and anythin’ that

Brothers can be.

We just lift up the latch

And we’re in home free!

As Mick has lifts the latch and starts opening the gate door, it squeaks loudly.

Bean

SHHHHHH!

He opens the gate the rest of the way.

Mick

It’s time for us

To climb up Strakken’s apple tree!

It’s time for us

To climb up Strakken’s apple tree!

Mick

Presto.

Bean

I’m gonna have a heart attack…

Mick

Shh.  C’mon.

They sneak over to the tree.  It’s a huge tree.  The lowest branches are above their heads.

Bean- looking up

Wow.  The tree is as high as the stars.

Thomas

It’s bigger than I remember.

Mick

She’s the biggest tree in the whole world.  Ok, Bean, you first.

Bean

Me first?  But how do I get up there?

Mick

The Gemini launch, what else?

Mick cups his hands and Bean puts his foot in them.  Mick then counts quietly.

Three, two, one, liftoff!

Mick lifts up Bean, who grabs the lowest branch, and starts climbing up.

Mick and Bean

Brothers unite!

Brothers we are!

Bean

We’re the best of friends

Mick

And best of buds in the world by far.

Mick starts to climb up the tree.  Thomas follows.

Bean

Look at me!

Bean

Brothers unite!

Friends ‘til the end!

Mick

Let the darkness come and dare us.

Bean

Let the scary danger scare us.

Mick

This adventure’s to prepare us.

Tonight!

‘Cuz brothers

Mick and Bean

We unite!

Mick and Bean have worked their way to the top of the tree.  They sit and perch.  Thomas stays a little lower, more by himself, not to bother the other two.

Bean

Wow.  What a view!  This is even better than Mulberry’s.

Thomas

This is amazing.

Mick

Yup.  Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

Bean

You can see the railroad station lights from here.

Thomas

Even the red water tower light.

Mick

Look the other way.  In the day, you can see the crick cutting through the woods and then Schmidt’s farm.

Bean

I can even see their John Deere under the barn light!

Mick

She’s sweet, ain’t she?

Mick reaches out and picks an apple.  He shines it up on his shirt, and gives it to Bean.

Mick

Here ya’ go, Bean.  Your reward.  The best apple in all of Walworth County.

As Bean takes his first bite, Mick throws one down to Thomas, and then grabs one for himself.  Bean is struck by the wonderfully, full-bodied taste of the apple.

Bean

Gosh.  This tastes ten times better than the ones at the Piggly Wiggly.

Mick

What did I tell ya’?  What do ya think, Thomas?

Thomas bites into his.  He groans and rolls his eyes in ecstasy.  Mick smiles proudly and then bites into his.  They just sit and eat, enjoying the moment.

Bean

Mick…

Mick

Yeah?

Bean

You scared about the war?

Mick

What made you think of that?

Bean

I don’t know.  Where is Vietnam anyways?

Mick

It’s way far away from here.

Bean

You think the communists will attack us?

Mick

Pa says if they did, they’d be real sorry.  And he knows – he was in the big war.

Bean

Yeah.

They sit again in silence, enjoying the moment.

Bean

Mick?

Mick

Yeah?

Bean

Do you ever think about girls?

Mick

The war, girls?  Ask Thomas.

Thomas

I’m out of this conversation.  You’re on your own.

Bean

No, really Mick.

Mick

I don’t know.  I guess everybody thinks about girls.

Bean

How do you know if a girl likes you?

Mick

You just do, I guess.

Bean

How do you know when to kiss her?

Mick

How am I supposed to know?

Bean

I gotta ask you.  You’re older than I am and you know everythin’.

Mick

Would you just shut up already?

They eat their apples some more.

Bean

Have you ever kissed a girl?

Mick

Ok, that’s it.  My fist is going to meet your face.

Bean

Mick!

Mick

Just shut up!

Bean

But Mick…

Mick

You hear me?  I said SHUT UP!  NOW!  Sorry.  I didn’t mean to yell at ‘ya like that.

Suddenly a light goes on.

Damn!  Old witch Strakken is upstairs.  Don’t move.  Be really still.

Bean

Did she hear us?

Mick

Relax.  Just don’t move.  We’re in the shadows enough.

Bean – getting a bit too loud

But Mick, her window is right across from us!  We’re sittin’ ducks.

Mick

Shh!  Quiet down you idiot!  You want us to get caught!

Bean

She’s opening the window!

Mick

Just to get fresh air!  Settle down and stay put.

Bean

Mick, she’s gonna see us!

Mick

Shut-up!

We hear the window open, and then some old time music playing from the room.  Mick whispers.

See?  She didn’t see us.  Now just stay put.  We’re stuck here until she leaves the room.

Thomas

Now things are getting exciting.

Bean

She’s going to catch us and boil us into soup.

Mick

Shhhh!

Suddenly, we hear Bean’s branch crack.

Oh crap!

Bean

Mick!

Bean starts to fall, but catches himself, dangling on a nearby branch by his hands.

Mick

Hold on Bean!

Thomas

I can’t reach ya.

Strakken – Off stage

Who’s that up in my tree?

Mick

Oh crap, it’s Strakken!

Bean

Help me, Mick!

Strakken

I’m going to call the sheriff!

Mick climbs over toward Bean and holds out his hand.  Thomas starts to climb up.

Mick

C’mon Bean, grab my hand!

Bean

I can’t!  I can’t!

Mick

Grab my hand now, Bean!

Bean

I’ll fall!

Strakken

I’m coming down with my shotgun!

Bean

Miiiiiiick!  Help me!

Mick gets a bit closer and leans over on his stomach above Bean.  He puts out his hand again.

Mick

Now grab my hand!

Bean

I’m scared!

Mick

Listen you chicken!  Grab my hand now or I’ll come down there and kick your butt so hard your head’ll be inbetween your two butt-cheeks!

Bean looks up and grabs Mick’s hand.  Mick swings him to the next branch down.  Thomas is right below.

Thomas

Now put your foot on that next branch.

Bean

I’m tryin’!  I’m tryin’!  I’ve got it!

Mick

Now climb down and run like hell!

They climb down as fast as they can.  Bean gets to the bottom first with Thomas’ help.

Strakken

You’re trespassing on private property!  I’m coming out with my shotgun!

They all get down and start running, through the gate and toward home just as we hear…

Strakken

And you stay off of my property, you hooligans!  Next time you won’t be so lucky!

When at a safe distance, and all out of breath, they stop to rest by a row of corn.  They all start laughing.

Thomas

Boy oh boy, that was a close one!

Mick

I thought we were goners for sure.

Bean

Yeah.  Did you see how yellow her teeth were?  Probably from eating kids.

Thomas

Well, just between you and me, I’ve had enough excitement for one evening.  I’m heading out.  Thanks for including me.

Mick

Thanks for helpin’ out.

Thomas

You two be quiet now when you get back home.  No falling from the meter box!

Bean

Promise.

Thomas exits.

Mick

What a night.

Bean

Sure was.

Mick

We almost got caught by old lady Strakken.

Bean

So?  It was worth it.

Mick

Yeah?

Bean

Yeah.  For a first time, you treated me like a man, Mick.  Thanks.

Mick looks at him and then puts out his hand.  Bean joins him with their secret handshake.

 

Brother’s Unite – Reprise #1:

Bean

Brothers unite.

Friends ‘til the end!

Let the darkness come and dare us.

They start walking towards home.

Mick

Let the scary danger scare us.

Bean

This adventure’s to prepare us,

Tonight!

‘Cuz brothers

Bean and Mick

We unite!

Mick, stops and looks proudly at Bean.

Mick

Cool.

Mick puts his arm around Bean and they start for home.  As they walk, a single porch light slowly comes up at the house.  We see Gus standing on the porch under the light, arms crossed, waiting for them to come home.

♦◊♦

Photo by Shutterstock

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About James Olm

James Olm is the coordinator of the Musical Theatre program at Casper College in Casper, Wyoming. In June,2011, his newest musical, The Magdalene - of which he was composer/playwright/lyricist - opened Off-Broadway at the Theatre at St. Clements in New York City. In The Magdalene, he worked closely with Tony Award-winning director and lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. Olm has written three other musicals, composed music for many dramas, and is published with Samuel French, Inc. in New York.

Comments

  1. Darrell Wagner says:

    Some really good stuff here. I can’t wait to read more.

    • Thanks for reading this Darrell! The next scene really gets into the real conflict of the show – between the father-Gus, and his son, Mick. It’s up on this website for reading now!

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