Follow The River


By Antonio Duke



“If you get lost on your way home, follow the river”-African-American traditional


THE SPIRITS
[2M]
DANIEL HANSEN: 27 (white)
JONATHAN ASH: 27 (black)

SETTING
Ash’s Liquor Store: South Minneapolis

TIME
now: right now.

TEXT NOTES
“...” suspended thought
“____” a thought cut off




I.

(A black night,
and the moon ain’t here;
maybe it’s hiding behind the trees.
We hear rain.
We see lights
from emergency vehicles,
flashing
red & blue.
Blood & Water
runs in the streets
along with the youth.
We’re in Ash’s Liquor Store,
a place for some new folks who swarmed in,
made by some old folks who are now only seen in photographs.
DANIEL has just finished closing up the shop.
He goes into a storage space in the back.
He grabs large white poster boards
and a marker to write
“PLEASE DON’T BREAK
OUR WINDOWS: WE SUPPORT
BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
He finishes it
and is about to hang it up when
we hear a brick
shatter through the store’s window.)


DANIEL
What was that!


(DANIEL places the sign off to the side
and runs behind the counter
and grabs a pistol.
He’s shaking,
unsure of how to use it,
it’s not like how he pictured it’d feel,
not like the movies.
He grabs a box of bullets from a shelf,
he drops some trying to load it.
He manages to get his weapon ready
for the onslaught.
He looks up,
maybe to the dimmed lights,
maybe to the stars beyond the ceiling,
maybe to his God who gives him the right,
and then JONATHAN
slowly comes through the shattered window.
He wears all black
and carries a backpack.)



DANIEL
Stop,
I gotta gun,
Don’t make me…
Just…
Get back alright…
We don’t keep any money in the store!


JONATHAN
Jesus,
hold up,
I didn’t…
I didn’t throw that,
I didn’t break your window!


DANIEL
I just saw you!


JONATHAN
Look man—
I ain’t…
I was just hiding around the corner,
behind that tree keeping watch.
The folks who did this shit,
half way down the block!


DANIEL
Yeah right!


JONATHAN

This used to be my family’s store!
Been ours for some time.
I just wanted to make sure
it survived the night.
That sign say
Ash’s Liquor Store,
out front, right?
My last name’s Ash,
Jon Ash.

You Daniel, right?
We met last year,
when my Grandfather sold the store!


DANIEL
What do you want?


JONATHAN
To clean.
I brought some supplies,
just in case stuff got real.


(DANIEL slowly stands up
from behind the counter.
JONATHAN reaches for his backpack.)



DANIEL
Don’t do that!


JONATHAN
Dang,
chill ight,
relax.
You don’t remember me?


(DANIEL approaches JONATHAN
with caution.)



DANIEL

Not too good with faces.


(DANIEL grabs Jonathan’s backpack,
turns it upside down,
and shakes everything out:
a small brush and dustpan fall to the ground.)



DANIEL
This your supplies?


JONATHAN
It ain’t much.


(DANIEL continues to search the backpack.
He doesn’t find anything else.
He throws the backpack to JONATHAN.)



JONATHAN
Can you not point that gun at me.


(DANIEL lowers his pistol.
JONATHAN picks up
his brush and dustpan.
They stare at each other.)



DANIEL
Your last name Ash?


JONATHAN
Yeah.


DANIEL
Let’s see some I.D.

(rest)

DANIEL
Forgive my suspicions.
I’ve never dealt with a riot before.

JONATHAN
Neither have I.


(JONATHAN reaches into his pocket,
pulls out his wallet,
and shows DANIEL his I.D.)



DANIEL
Jonathan Ash.
And your Grandfather was?


JONATHAN
Jake.
Jake Ash.

You have a photo of him on your wall
right there.


(DANIEL turns around to see the photo.)


DANIEL
You a spitting image.


JONATHAN
Blood don’t lie.
(DANIEL hands JONATHAN’s I.D. back.)

DANIEL

We were gonna take that picture down,
but we decided it was nice to keep some history.


JONATHAN

Some history.


DANIEL

To show our appreciation.


(rest)


DANIEL
So you came to clean?


JONATHAN
That’s the plan.


DANIEL
Let’s stick to the plan then.
I’ma grab a trash bag from the back.


(DANIEL goes to the storage closet.
JONATHAN wanders
breathing in
his ancestors’ space.
He turns to see his Grandfather’s photo.
He walks up to it
and begins to reach for it
but then…)


DANIEL
It’s good we kept the name,
don’t you think,
we took the space,
but kept the name and that photo,
that’s something.

JONATHAN
It’s something.


(DANIEL places the pistol on the countertop
and holds out the bag
for JONATHAN.
He gets down
on his hands and knees
to sweep up the rubble.
Once the ruin is collected,
JONATHAN stands and brushes off his hands.)


JONATHAN
Need help boarding the window?


DANIEL
If you offering.

JONATHAN
You know most businesses boarded up they places weeks ago.

DANIEL
Yeah we been behind schedule.

(DANIEL goes to the storage space in the back
and grabs a large piece of wood and a toolbox.)


JONATHAN
Makes sense.
For a minute most folks figured the world was ending,
with that sickness blowing in the air,
and now this,
so why not turn up.


DANIEL
We had lines down the block,
long ones,
all around,
seemed like they’d never end.


JONATHAN
Folks wait forever for their wine & spirits.


DANIEL
Hand to God,
never seen nothing like it,
our profits peaked.
We haven’t even owned this store for that long,
like you said we just bought it last year,
but these past few weeks are gonna be one for the history books.


JONATHAN
History’s told by the victors and y’all winning.


DANIEL
You can say that again.
Why your family ever sell a gem like this?


JONATHAN

Rent got too high,
couldn’t afford it.
Even in high cotton.

DANIEL
What?


JONATHAN
That’s the good season:
when the land was ripe.
It’s something Jake would say.
When business was good
he’d shout, “Jonny we in high cotton!”


DANIEL
Well the cotton is high.


(rest)


DANIEL
You grew up here?


JONATHAN
Yep,
right here,
learning the ropes,
stacking beer boxes in the back,
made some extra cash for the summer.
I stayed over on 38th.
Where it happened.


DANIEL
It’s such a shame.


JONATHAN
Yeah.


(rest)