Silva Vicarro,superintendent of the Syndicate Plantation
All of the action takes place on the front porch of the Meighans' residence near Blue Mountain, Mississippi.
The front porch of the Meighans' cottage is narrow and rises into a single narrow gable. There are spindling white pillars on either side supporting the porch roof and a door of Gothic design and two Gothic windows on either side of it. The peaked door has an oval of richly stained glass, azure, crimson, emerald, and gold. At the windows are fluffy white curtains gathered coquettishly in the middle by baby-blue satin bows. The effect is not unlike a doll's house. It is early evening and there is a faint rosy dusk in the sky. Jake Meighan, a fat man of sixty, scrambles out the front door and races around the corner of the house carrying a gallon can of coal-oil. A dog barks at him. A car is heard starting and receding rapidly in the distance. A moment later Flora calls from inside the house.
Flora:Jake! I've lost m' white kid purse! (Closer to the door) Jake? Look 'n see 'f uh laid it on th' swing? (She comes up to screen door.) Jake? Look 'n see if uh left it in th' Chevy. Jake? (She steps outside in the fading rosy dusk. She switches on the porch light and stares about, slapping at gnats attracted by the light. Locusts provide the only answering voice. Flora gives a long nasal call.) Ja-ay-a-a-ake!
(A cow moos in the distace with the same inflection. There is muffled explosion somewhere about half a mile away. A strange flickering glow appears, the reflection of a burst of flame. Distant voices are heard exclaiming.)
Voices(shrill, cackling like hens): You heah that noise?
Yeah! Sound like a bomb went off!
Why, it's a fire!
Where's it at? You tell!
Th' Syndicate Plantation!
Oh, my God! Let's go!
(Afire whistle sounds in the distance.)
Henry! Start th' car! You all wanta go with us?
Yeah, we'll be right out!
(A car can be heard starting up.)
Be right there!
Voice(just across the dirt road): Missus Meighan?
Voice: Ahn't you goin' th' fire?
Flora:Iwish I could but Jake's gone off in th' Ghevy.
Voice:Come awn an' go with us, honey!
Flora:Oh, I cain't an' leave th' house wide open! Jake's gone off with th' keys. What do you all think it is on fire?
Voice: Th' Syndicate Plantation!
Flora:Th’ Syndicate Plan-ta-tion? (The car starts off and recedes.) Oh, my Go-od! (She climbs laboriously back up on the porch and sits on the swing which faces the front. She speaks tragically to herself.) Nobody! Nobody! Never! Never! Nobody!
(Locusts can be heard. A car is heard approaching and stopping at a distance back of the house. After a moment Jake ambles casually up around the side of the house.)
Flora:I never known a human being could be that mean an' thoughtless!
Jake: Aw, now, that's a mighty broad statement fo' you to make, Mrs. Meighan. What's the complaint this time?
Flora:Just flew out of the house without even sayin' a word!
Jake:What's so bad about that?
Flora:1 told you I had a headache comin' on an' had to have a dope, there wassen a single bottle lef' in th' house an' you said, Yeah, get into yuh things 'n' we'll drive in town right away! So I get into m' things an' I cain't find m' white kid purse. Then I remember I left it on th' front seat of th' Chevy. I come out here t' git it. Where are you? Gone off! Without a word! Then there's a big explosion! Feel my heart!
Jake:Feel my baby's heart? (He puts a hand on her huge bosom.)
Flora:Yeah, just you feel it, pundin' like a hammer! How'd I know what happened? You not here, just disappeared somewhere!
Jake:Shut up! (He pushes her head roughly.)
Flora:Jake! What did you do that fo'?
Jake: Idon't like how you holler! Holler ev'ry thing you say!
Flora:What's the matter with you?
Jake:Nothing's the matter with me.
Flora:Well, why did you go off?
Jake: Ididn't go off!
Flora:You certainly did go off! Try an' tell me that you never went off when I just now seen an' heard you drivin' back in th' car? What uh you take me faw? No sense a-tail?
Jake:If you got sense you keep your big mouth shut!
Flora:Don't talk to me like that!
Jake:Come on inside.
Flora: Iwon't. Selfish an' inconsiderate, that's what you are! I told you at supper. There's not abottle of Coca-Cola left on th' place. You said, Okay, right after supper we' 11 drive on over to th' White Star drugstore an' lay in agood supply. When I come out of th' house —
Jake(he stands in front of her and grips her neck with both hands): Look here! Listen to what I tell you!
Jake:Shhh! Just listen, baby.
Flora:Lemme go! G'damn you, le' go my throat!
Jake:Jus' try an' concentrate on what I tell yuh!
Flora:Tell me what?
Jake:I ain't been off th' po'ch.
Jake:I ain'tben off th' front po'ch! Not since supper! Understand that,now?
Flora:Jake, honey, you've gone out of you' mind!
Jake:Maybe so. Never you mind. Just get that straight an' keep it in your haid. I ain't been off theporch of this house since supper.
Flora:But you sure as God was off it! (He twists her hand.) Ouuuu! Stop it, stop it!
Jake:Where have I been since supper?
Flora:Here, here! On th' porch! Fo' God's sake, quit that twistin'!