Monday, December 14, 2020

Theatrical Script of the short story Thank You Ma’am by Ted Hughes.



Theatrical Script of the short story

Thank You Ma’am


Langston Hughes.











( Curtain drawn back. It is about eleven o’clock at night. Mrs.. Jones is seen alone returning home along a desolate street with a large purse that has everything in it but hammer and nails. It has a long strap, and she carries it slung across her shoulder. Suddenly a boy of fourteen or fifteen, frail and willow-wild, in tennis shoes and blue jeans, runs up behind her and tries to snatch her purse. The strap breaks with the single tug the boy gives it from behind. But the boy’s weight and the weight of the purse combined causes him to lose his balance. So, instead of taking off full blast as he has hoped, the boy falls on his back on the sidewalk, and his legs flow up. The woman simply turns around, catches him red handed and kicks him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter. Then she reaches down, picks the boy up by his shirt front, and shakes him until his teeth rattles.) 

Mrs. Jones : (Still gripping by his shirt front and commands) Pick up my pocketbook, boy, and give it here. (The boy does so.) Now ain’t you ashamed of yourself?

Roger : (With shame) Yes’m.

Mrs. Jones : What did you want to do it for?

Roger : (Innocently) I didn’t aim to.

Mrs. Jones :
(With indignation) You a lie!(By the time two or three people passing, stop, turn to look, and some stand watching) If I turn you loose, will you run?

Roger : Yes’m.

Mrs. Jones :
(Humourously) Then I won’t turn you loose. (She still holds him.)

Roger : (Sorrowfully in whispering tone) I’m very sorry, lady, I’m sorry.

Mrs. Jones :
(Thinking) Um-hum! And your face is dirty. I got a great mind to wash your face for you. Ain’t you got nobody at home to tell you to wash your face?

Roger :
(Getting upset) No’m.

Mrs. Jones : (Emphatically) Then it will get washed this evening. (She starts up the street, drags the frightened boy behind her and says in advising tone) You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I can do right now is to wash your face. Are You hungry?

Roger :
No’m. (Pleading) I just want you to turn me loose.

Mrs. Jones : (Harshly) Was I bothering you when I turned that corner?

Roger : No’m.

Mrs. Jones : (Argumentatively) But you put yourself in contact with me. If you think that that contact is not going to last awhile, you got another thought coming. When I get through with you, sir, you are going to remember Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones.

(The boy gets frightened. Sweat begins to pop out on the boy’s face and he begins to struggle to escape. Mrs. Jones stops, jerks him around in front of her, puts a half-nelson about his neck, and continues to drag him up the street.) 


(Mrs. Jones gets to her house-door. She drags the boy inside, down a hall, and into a large kitchenette furnished room at the rear of the house. She switches on the light and leaves the door open. Inside the large house, sounds of discourse and laughing of other roomers are heard. Some of their doors are open too. So the boy realizes that he and the woman are not alone. The woman still is holding him by the neck in the middle of her room.) 

Mrs. Jones : What is your name?

Roger : (Casually) Roger.

Mrs. Jones : Then, Roger, you go to that sink and wash your face. (She turns him loose at last. Roger looks at the door—looks at the woman—again looks at the door—and decides not to escape and goes to the sink.) Let the water run until it gets warm. Here’s a clean towel.

Roger :
(In fear, bending over the sink) You gonna take me to jail?

Mrs. Jones : (With suspense) Not with that face, I would not take you nowhere. Here I am trying to get home to cook me a bite to eat and you snatch my pocketbook! Maybe, you ain’t been to your supper either, late as it be. Have you?

Roger :
(With sadness) There’s nobody home at my house.

Mrs. Jones : (With tone of consolation) Then we’ll eat. I believe you’re hungry—or been hungry—to try to snatch my pockekbook.

Roger :
I wanted a pair of blue suede shoes.

Mrs. Jones : (Casually with a tone of advice) Well, you didn’t have to snatch my pocketbook to get some suede shoes. You could of asked me.

Roger : (Astonished) Ma,m?

( A very long pause. The water is dripping from Roger’s face. He looks at her. Then he looks at the open door. After he has dried his face and not knowing what else to do, he dries it again. the boy turns around, wondering what next; whether he will make a dash for it down the hall or stay there.) 

Mrs. Jones : (Suddenly breaking the silence) I were young once and I wanted things I could not get.(Another long pause. The boy’s mouth is open. Then he frowns, but not knowing he frowns.) Um- hum! You thought I was going to say but, didn’t you? You thought I was going to say, but I didn’t snatch people’s pocketbooks. Well, I wasn’t going to say that. (Silence. She tries to make suspense.) I have done things, too, which I would not tell you, son—neither tell God, if he didn’t know. So you set down while I fix us something to eat. You might run that comb through hair so you will look presentable. 

(In another corner of the room behind a screen is a gas plate and an icebox. Mrs. Jones gets up and goes behind the screen. She does not watch the boy to see if he is going to run now, nor she watches her purse which she leaves behind her on the day-bed. But the boy takes care to sit on the far side of the room where he thinks she can easily see him out of the corner of her eye, if she wants to. He does not trust the woman not to trust him. And he does not want to be mistrusted now.) 

Roger : Do you need somebody to go to the store, maybe to get some milk or something?

Mrs. Jones :
Don’t believe I do unless you just want sweet milk yourself. I was going to make cocoa out of this canned milk I got here.

Roger :
That will be fine.

( Then she heats some lima beans and ham she has in the icebox, makes the cocoa, and sets the table. The woman does not ask the boy anything about where he lives, or his folks, or anything else that will embarrass him. Instead, as they eat, she tells him about her job in a hotel beauty-shop that stays open late, what the work was like, and how all kinds of women came in and out, blondes, red-heads, and Spanish. Then she cut him a half of her ten-cent cake.) 

Mrs. Jones :
(Tenderly) Eat some more, son. (They finish eating and she gets up) Now, here, take this ten dollars and buy yourself some blue suede shoes.(Advising) And next time, do not make the mistake of latching onto my pocketbook nor nobody else’s— because shoes come by devilish like that will burn your feet. I got to get my rest now. But I wish you would behave yourself, son, from here on in. (Then she leads him down the hall to the front door and opens it and looking out into the street she says) Good- night! Behave yourself, boy!

(Roger hesitates to think what to say and ultimate he turns at the barren stoop and looks back at the large woman in the door.)

Roger : (In low tune, with difficulty ) Thank you. (Then she shuts the door.)

******* CURTAIN FALLS *******