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Marc Blitzstein

The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 5 (midi)

 


 

Scene 5: Drugstore

 

(DRUGGIST; and STEVE, behind fountain. DRUGGIST is a sunny, little man, somewhat vague. He bustles about his drugstore with a pleasant sense of importance. STEVE, his son, is an agreeable adolescent, really much smarter than his father, and a little amused by him.)

 

DRUGGIST

Steve!

 

STEVE

Yes, Pop?

 

DRUGGIST

Those glasses—really clean this time. Hah— (Blows on his hand.) Like that!

 

STEVE

(Tries it with a glass.) Hah?

 

DRUGGIST

That’s the way…. (He sings a bit.) It looks like summer weather; there’s a fine warm sun. I swear I’d not change places with King Solomon. I ought to make you pay for every glass that you drop. It certainly feels fine to own my shop.

 

STEVE

Oh, Pop, you’re such a crazy. This shop’s not yours; what about the mortgage?

 

DRUGGIST

The mortgage now! You know how much it worries me. I saw the man again, told him to let me be. I’ll pay him when I can. You know who owns the company? It’s Mr. Mister. Tell me, what does he want with my little cash? (He stops singing.) It’s a terrible world, Stevie—and I feel fine. (He hums.) Da da dee da dad a-dum, dee dee da da da.

 

(Enter BUGS. BUGS is an underworld character, one step above the common thug, slicker and more presentable.)

 

BUGS

Are you the guy who runs this joint?

 

DRUGGIST

I’m the proprietor.

 

BUGS

Do you know a Polock who comes in here every Sunday?

 

DRUGGIST

A Polock?

 

BUGS

Sure, a punk. With his wife he comes here.

 

STEVE

You know, Pop, he means that Polish fellow.

 

DRUGGIST

(Nodding; he remembers.) He brings his wife here every week about this time. She likes my icecream sodas. Yes, I know them well.

 

BUGS

You know what he looks like, huh?

 

DRUGGIST

Yes, why?

 

BUGS

Uh, you’d like to keep this drugstore, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t want any company to clamp down on your mortgage or anything like that now, would you?

 

DRUGGIST

(He stares.) What’s the idea?

 

BUGS

Here’s the dope: When this Polock comes in today, you don’t say nothin’. He goes out. There’s a big noise outside. You don’t say nothin’—nothin’, understand? You keep your trap shut. But when they ask you later on, who done it—You remember it’s this here Polock.

 

DRUGGIST

Done—what?

 

BUGS

Explosion. They’re takin’ a little piece off Union Headquarters across the street.

 

DRUGGIST

(A growing alarm on his face.) Who is?

 

BUGS

None of your damn business. Jeez, I don’t know why the boss hadda pick you outa all the stores on this side! Talk about dumb!

 

STEVE

The boss? Mr. Mister’s behind this somewhere, Pop!

 

BUGS

You don’t know that name! You never heard that name before—get me?

 

DRUGGIST

But, man, I can’t say somebody did something if he didn’t! Suppose he denies it?

 

BUGS

(Patient.) Listen: I’ll go over it again. There’s gonna to be an explosion. This guy’s gonna be in the explosion. He ain’t gonna bother you none after that.

 

DRUGGIST

(At last he gets it; tense and quiet.) And his wife, too?

 

BUGS

Can I help it if his wife never lets him outa her sight?

 

STEVE

(He has realized all along what is up; now he leaps forward.) Pop, I heard what he said—Pop, you’re not going to let him get away with it!

 

BUGS

(Grabs STEVE.) You keep your shirt on. You don’t wanna interfere with yer old man!

 

DRUGGIST

(In a panic.) Steve, they got me cornered—I’ll lose the store—They can do it—I’ll lose everything! They got me, Stevie! What shall I do?

 

STEVE

Pop!

 

BUGS

Shut up, now! Here they come.

 

(BUGS holds STEVE frozen, his hand pressing against an unseen revolver. Enter GUS and SADIE POLOCK. They are simple, nice people, just married, terribly in love. SADIE is fat, and GUS loves her that way. He talks with an accent, but SADIE doesn’t; GUS would never have married a girl with an accent.)

 

GUS

What store you go to get it?

 

SADIE

Up on High Street.

 

GUS

Expensive shop, I bet.

 

SADIE

No, it ain’t—and it’s the cutest dress!

 

GUS

Sadie, Sadie, you gotta new dress already. What you wanna, tak all my money?

 

SADIE

I know, but, Gus…

 

GUS

Is it pretty dress?

 

SADIE

Oh, Gus, if you could only see me in it!

 

GUS

Alri’. Maybe they mak me head guy at the mill, and I get plenty money, ha ha ha.

 

(GUS and SADIE sit at fountain.)

 

GUS

What you tak, same ting?

 

SADIE

Vanilla ice cream soda, with two scoops.

 

GUS

Me, nutting; aw chust a Cok-Cola; wait, with a shot lemon maybe…. The Manager he come to me yesterday, say I keep away from union, I getta good job; then Larry Foreman, union fella, come to me, say, Gus, don’t be fool, you belong with us. Look like I very pop’lar, everybody want me, I dunno. Sadie, you gonna have kid soon?

 

SADIE

Gus!

 

GUS

I wanna kid, I wanna son! What I care what they hear! Now I got first papers, pretty soon I be real American citizen. The fella say they need men like me; sure, good hands, strong— He say America need men like me…Sadie— I tink maybe— You getting’ big already! We gotta buy you new kinda dress soon, huh?

 

SADIE

Gus, stop it!

 

(The song.)

 

GUS

Why don’t my Sadie tell me she gonna have baby?

 

SADIE

Now, Gus, I ast you twice today, don’t talk that way!

 

GUS

What I care what they hear?

 

SADIE

Okay, maybe.

 

GUS

I make a little bed from wood. So my son sleep good.

 

GUS/SADIE

So my son sleep good…. We wonder if anyone could be as much in love as we; we wonder if anyone ever was before. They couldn’t be any more than we are. There never was such a day or such a nighttime. There never was such a boy as we will have, and all in the right time.

 

(GUS tries to pay STEVE. STEVE is nerveless, transfixed, BUGS still covering him.)

 

GUS

Whassamatta, kid?

 

(GUS leaves the money on the counter. GUS and SADIE go out. BUGS makes a warning sound, goes to window, makes a sign with his arm to someone across the street.)

 

STEVE

(Galvanized into action.) No, wait!

 

(STEVE runs out after GUS and SADIE.)

 

DRUGGIST

Steve!

 

STEVE

(Running.) Wait, they’re gonna get you!

 

DRUGGIST

Stevie!

 

(The sound of an explosion outside. DRUGGIST covers his face with his hands. The reverberation scarcely dies, when….)

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