NARRATOR – Every great while, there are people placed upon the earth that are so special and so full of love that when they finally leave us, a hole is left in our hearts and souls forever. This is the story of an angel taken away from us way too soon; whether you knew him as Osirus, Dirt Dog, Dirt Mcgirt, Unique Ason, Big Baby Jesus or simply Russell Jones, you knew that the man, the legend, the wonder that had touched your life was indeed, an old dirty bastard.
(Lights come up on a bare stage.)
NARRATOR – Come with me now, back 30 years to the beautiful wide open plains of a place affectionately know to its people simply as… Brooklyyyyn Zoo!
(Narrator leaves the stage)
MAMA –(OFFSTAGE) Russell, you done with yo’ chores?
(A young man runs onto stage.)
RUSSELL – Yes, Mama!
MAMA – (OFFSTAGE) Fine, you get to school, now! Don’t go takin’ none of them shortcuts! And mind you don’t ruin your school clothes! You’ve choir practice this evening!
RUSSELL – Yes, Mama! I will, Mama. I mean, I won’t, Mama! I love you, Mama!
(Another Young man enters, skipping and mocking our hero.)
RZA – “Yes, Mama! No, Mama!” Listen to the mama’s boy! Don’t ruin those clothes now, Russell Jones!
RUSSELL – You mind your own business! I ain’t no mama’s boy!
RZA – You are! You’re a goody two-shoes and a mama’s boy!
RUSSELL – You stop antagonizing me, Raheim, or I’ll sock you one!
RZA – I told you not to call me Raheim! Call me Rza! Now smell you later, cousin. I got places to go.
(Rza starts off in the opposite direction)
RUSSELL – Where you goin’, Ra? I mean, Rza? School is this way!
RZA – I know where school is, sissy.
RUSSELL – Then why you going that way?
RZA – I ain’t sayin’…
RUSSELL – Please tell me!
RZA – I don’t know. How do I know you ain’t gonna go run home and tell yo’ mama?
RUSSELL – I promise I won’t!
RUSSELL – I promise the biggest promise I ever promised!
RZA – Fine. Stop promising! I’m taking a shortcut to school.
RUSSELL – What! We’re not supposed to take — (He pauses and thinks about what he’s saying) OK, let’s go!
RZA – Are you sure?
RUSSELL – Try and keep up!
(Russell takes off across the stage and Rza follows)
RZA – Hey! Wait up!
(They take a couple more spins around the stage as happy music — probably by Bob James — plays, then suddenly stops.)
RZA – All right, we’re here.
RUSSELL – Where’s here?
RZA – This is the part of the woods where the cool kids come to hang out.
RUSSELL – Hang out?
RZA – Yeah! We drink beer, make out with girls and do whatever —
RZA – See that tree? The high school kids keep beer up there. Anyone who climbs up and gets it without falling is initiated into the cool club.
RUSSELL – Beer? Jeepers!
RZA – What, you ain’t never had no beer?
RUSSELL – Sure I have! I drink beer all the time! Last night I had, like, eight beers!
RZA – Eight beers, huh? Pretty impressive. Tell you what. I’ll climb up there and get us some beers and you can have eight more. How’s that sound?
RUSSELL – Sounds pretty keen, uh, except I have to —
RZA – Have to what? Go to school?
RUSSELL – No!
RZA – I knew I shouldnt’a brung you out here, ya’ big sissy! Go on, then- Go to school! And “don’t mess up your good clothes”! Haw haw!
RUSSELL – I’m no sissy!
RZA - Then what are you?
(Russell stands silently briefly, then starts to slowly walk away.)
RUSSELL – I thought so! Sissy!
(Rza starts for the “Tree,” but Russell quickly turns, pushes him out of the way, and runs off-stage)
RZA – What are you doing?
RUSSELL –(OFF-STAGE) I’m climbing this tree!
(For the entire ordeal, Rza mimes the peril he witnesses…)
RZA – Watch your footing!(DUCKS) You’re gonna fall! (TO HIMSELF) He’s gonna fall! Please don’t fall! I’m in sooo much trouble! Oh no. Oh no! OH NO!
(COVERS HIS EYES)
RUSSELL – AHHHHHHH!
(A bunch of leaves burst in from off-stage)
RZA – What did I do? What did —
(He falls to his knees.)
RUSSELL –(SINGING OFFSTAGE) Here’s to good friends —
(Rza hears the singing and looks up. As Russell comes strutting back onstage carrying a six pack of beer)
RUSSELL – Tonight is kind of special — Löwen-bräääääuuuuu!
RZA – Russell? I thought you were gonna fall right on your head!
RUSSELL – Well I didn’t! Guess I ain’t such a sissy, huh?
(Rza rushes over and hugs him)
RZA – I guess you ain’t, Russell. I guess you ain’t. So, let’s drink up!
RUSSELL – You go on ahead. I’m still drunk! That’s right! I’m drunk from those eight beers last night.
RZA – Ha ha! Whatever you say, cousin. Whatever you say.
(Rza pops open a beer and starts to drink as Russell looks on)
RUSSELL – So how — how does it taste?
RZA – I thought you drank beer all the time?
RUSSELL – Yeah, but not that brand.
RZA – Oh. Right.
(The Wu-tang "Killa Beez" theme begins as a man dressed as a swarm of bees enters from the same direction of the beer tree.)
RZA – (SPIT TAKE, THEN STAGE WHISPER) Crap! Russell, be perfectly still!
RUSSELL – What? What is it?
RZA – It’s a swarm of bees! Wu-Tang killer bees — they on a swarm! You must’ve disturbed the nest when you got the beer!
RUSSELL – (CRYING) I’m a-scared, Cousin Rza.
RZA – Just stand still! And shut up! Wu-Tang killer bees only attack when they sense the fear. But they’re repelled by beer— you’re safe if you really drank all of that beer last night…
(The “Swarm” makes it way around the stage, buzzing here and there)
NARRATOR – But Russell hadn’t really drunk any beer. Not one drop. And he couldn’t say anything for his fear of seeming like a sissy to his favorite cousin was much greater than his fear of the Wu-Tang killer bees. This was to be the beginning of Young Russell Jones’s legendary lapses of judgment…
RZA – Shhh—Here they come!
(The two try to stand perfectly still as the Swarm buzzes by and investigates. It buzzes around Rza a bit, then makes it way towards Russell.The swarm investigates Russell for a bit, and then flies away…)
RZA – OK. I think they’re gone. We better get out of here.
(Suddenly the swarm returns and attacks Russell)
RUSSELL – Rza! Help me!
(As Rza runs to hide, everyone begins moving in slow motion and the choral setting of Barber’s “Adagio” plays. The lights go down and the swarm leaves and a spotlight comes up on Russell, lying center stage. Rza walks over to him, and kneels down.)
RZA – I’m sorry, Baby Cousin. I’m so sorry.
(He begins opening the beers.)
RZA – I hope this works…
(Rza starts pouring the beers into Russell’s mouth)
(Lights go down again)
RZA – I hope this works.
NARRATOR – It did indeed work, but not necessarily in a positive light. The beer reversed the effects of the Wu-Tang killer bees, but not entirely. Russell still had quite a bit of the Wu-Tang’s poison flowing through his veins, and one day it was sure to affect him. An even greater worry was that Russell, that day, had had his first taste of beer. It certainly would not be his last...
END SCENE ONE
Stories by J’Mel Davidson appear in every issue of Birmingham Weekly. Write to email@example.com.