NARRATOR – After years of normalcy, everything changed for the man who would one day be known as Big Baby Jesus. Ironically, it happened because he was trying to be a good person. You should never try to be a good person...
(Narrator leaves the stage. Russell enters and stands center stage. He is dressed older now, like a college student. His girlfriend, Parker, sits to the side…)
RUSSELL – So, in closing, sword fighting is like a game of chess— You must think first before you move.
(Parker applauds, and rushes over to hug him.)
PARKER – Russell, that was excellent! It was your best work yet!
RUSSELL – I’m glad you think so. I just hope the Shaolin monks appreciate it as much as you do.
PARKER – They will, sweetheart. What time is your flight in the morning?
RUSSELL – The flight leaves at 10 AM. That should give me time to get up early and run to the library to polish my presentation up one last time.
PARKER – It’s already perfect.
(They start to kiss. Rza enters)
RZA – Hey! Young lovers! Get a room!
RUSSELL – We have a room! This one! What are you doing here?
RZA – What am I doing here, he asks? I’m here to see you off, Baby Cousin! You’re gonna be in China for two months!
RUSSELL – That’s right, so I should get some sleep.
RZA – No, you should have a party! You think I’d let you sleep the night before you went away? You can sleep on the plane. Come on!
RUSSELL – Yeah, but...
PARKER – He’s half right, you know. You’ve been nothing but a work machine for weeks. Live a little! What is college without a little partying now and again?
RZA – She’s right. Listen to your bitch, man.
RUSSELL – Hey!
PARKER – Calm down, baby. Your cousin Raheim is just addressing me using the commonplace term of endearment of our generation.
RZA – The name is Rza...
PARKER – Of course it is. Russell, have some fun with your cousin and I’ll be back later, OK?
RUSSELL – Fine. Fine. I’ll stay here and “kick it” with Rza.
PARKER – Great.
(She kisses him and leaves.)
PARKER – Bye, Raheim.
RZA – Scandalous bitch. I don’t know what you see in her, cuz.
RUSSELL – Actually, I’ve started writing an opera about...
RZA – Whatever, whatever, whatever. Look, Get yo game tight, man. I got niggas comin’ over with 40’s and blunts...
RUSSELL – Great. Sounds like a great time. I can’t wait!
RZA – Sarcasm is the lowest form of comedy, man. I’m doing all of this for you. Can’t you for once in your life stop to thank me for looking out for you all the time? Damn!
RUSSELL – Rza. Rza. Look man, I’m sorry. You’re right. When you’re right you’re right. I’m sorry I’ve been spending so much time on my Shaolin fighting techniques and theories and not with you. I’ve been neglecting our friendship, and I apologize.
RZA – OK. If you apologize — OK (SUDDENLY GETS EXCITED) great! I got some bitches coming over, and they do everything, Cousin. EVERYTHING!
RUSSELL – That’s fantastic. You know I’m waiting to have sex until me and Parker get married.
RZA – Right, good one.
(Rza throws his hand up for a high-five.)
RUSSELL – If I high-fived you now, it would be dishonest.
RZA – Wait, you’re serious? You ain’t hit that yet?
RUSSELL – (APPALLED)*GASP* No! I’d never hit Parker!
RZA – No, I mean— got them guts. Knocked them boots. Taxed that ass.
RUSSELL – My penis has been nowhere near her regions! And I would thank you not to discuss it any further.
RZA – Man, if you don’t stop acting like such a— a young clean gentleman, I tell you— I don’t know what to do with you.
(The party people enter. Two young men and two young ladies.)
RZA – All right! What up niggas! Everybody, my cousin Russell. Russell This is Raekwon and Ghostface.
RAEKWON – Pleased to meet you!
GHOSTFACE – How’s it going?
RUSSELL – Hello. Hi.
RZA – And some random bitches. Bitches, get to know my cousin.
(Music starts, and everyone but Russell mingles. Eventually, one of the girls makes her way over to HIM.)
GIRL – Hello.
RUSSELL – Oh. Hi.
GIRL – Mind if I join you?
RUSSELL – Sure. I’m sorry, sure.
(She sits too close to him, and he eases over a bit.)
GIRL – I’m Tanya.
RUSSELL – I’m Russell.
TANYA – I know. From before, when Rza introduced...
RUSSELL – Oh! That’s right! I can be such a ninny.
TANYA – A ninny? You sure talk funny, Russell.
RUSSELL – How do you mean?
TANYA – Forget it.
RUSSELL – So, have I ever seen you in any of my lectures? What’s your major?
TANYA – I don’t take any classes. Unless you count the school of hard knocks. I’ve had a rough life, Russell. But as long as I can party, I always feel better.
RUSSELL – I’m sorry, I didn’t know. Gee, I’m going on a school trip to China for two months, but maybe when I get back we can go to bible study together. The good word always makes me forget the hard times I had growing up in the rough streets of Brooklyn.
TANYA – “The good book?” Sorry, baby. I don’t go in much for no fairy tales.
RUSSELL – Oh, now don’t do that. Don’t dismiss the word of God like that. Here, Let me quote you some scripture and...
(Russell gets up to retrieve the Bible, and is stopped by Rza.)
RZA – Hey, where are you going? The party is just heating up!
RUSSELL – I’m going to read some Old Testament to Tanya.
RZA – Wha-!? Nigga, is you crazy? This ain’t no prayer group! Go over there and talk to her! She’ll do anything, man! Me and the crew used to do her.
RUSSELL – Your constant disrespect for women in my room has to stop! These girls are human beings, and they deserve respect!
GHOSTFACE – Rza, come on. This one is gonna let us do stuff to her and film it.
RZA – Cool!
(They start to leave.)
RZA – (TO RUSSELL) Don’t disappoint me!
RUSSELL – Well, they’re off on an adventure, I guess.
TANYA – Good, then we can get to know each other. Bring that 40 over here and let’s talk.
(Russell brings her the beer)
TANYA – So, tell me about yourself.
RUSSELL – Well, I’m a fourth year student majoring in Chinese philosophy. I’m engaged to a beautiful girl named Parker.
(Tanya takes a huge swig from the beer and attempts to pass it to Russell.)
RUSSELL – Oh, no thank you. I had a terrible experience with bees when I was young. I was attacked by a swarm of Wu-tang killer bees when I was just 8 years old. Beer saved my life, but it made me do and say things I regret. I can’t even remember most of it. It was terrible.
TANYA – That sounds messed up.
RUSSELL – It was. But when I was 16 I started a support group for others who had suffered as I had. I called it the Wu-Tang Clan. My work with that group got me a scholarship to Yale.
TANYA – You’re an interesting person, Russell.
RUSSELL – Thank you. So are you, Tanya.
TANYA – Thank you. So, you wanna fuck?
RUSSELL – Huh?
TANYA – Do-you-want-to-fuck?
RUSSELL – Do you mean you, or just in general?
TANYA – You’re funny.
(She starts to undo Russell’s pants, but he leaps away.)
RUSSELL – Tanya, please! You seem like a nice girl, but...
(She starts towards him)
TANYA – But what?
RUSSELL – But it’s wrong! We’re not married, I don’t know you-— Plus I have a fiancé!
TANYA – So what?
RUSSELL – So, I’m waiting until I’m married.
TANYA – Wait, you’ve never done it?
RUSSELL – No. I haven’t.
TANYA – Well, aren’t you curious?
RUSSELL – Of course I am! I am but a man, with a man’s weaknesses as well. But I must stay strong.
TANYA – All right. All right.
(She backs off.)
TANYA – But what if you don’t like it?
RUSSELL – What do you mean?
TANYA – What if you do it for the first time with your lovely new wife, and you hate it? Or what if you start and don’t know what you’re doing? What if you’re so bad that she leaves you?
RUSSELL – Parker would never do that?
TANYA – Oh, you’d be surprised, baby. Women can be fickle.
(Russell thinks a bit.)
RUSSELL – But, what if I put a baby in you?
TANYA – Oh, sweetheart. You can’t make a baby the first time you do it.
(Russell turns to her.)
RUSSELL – You can’t?
TANYA – I promise.
(Russell walks slowly towards her. He sits and takes the 40, and takes a huge pull from the bottle.)
RUSSELL – OK.
NARRATOR – Nine months later to the very day, Tanya gave birth to the first of what would become Russell Jones’s legendary progeny of dirty bastards. Over the next three years, Russell struggled with his new love of beer, and then marijuana, which as we all know is a gateway drug. The gateway it opened for Russell included cocaine, crack cocaine, nasal spray, and cocaine done off of the asses of dead Asian hookers. But even as everything seemed darkest for Russell, he continued to compose what would become his masterwork: Return to the 36 chambers— the dirty version.
END ACT 1 SCENE 2
Stories by J’Mel Davidson appear in every issue of Birmingham Weekly. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.