Here’s more prose about a play, which is itself a contradiction in terms. But bear with me, because this work is crystalizing the surroundings, from which twelve characters will live and make all sorts of stage mess – the interesting kind. Today’s subject? Slam’s home.
As I’ve mentioned, Slam was born and lives in the town of Mason. Her family once owned a substantial portion of Louisa County, nestled high up in Northeast Iowa. Over the years, however, bits and parcels were sold off to pay debts that were foolhardy and decidedly unbusinesslike. Slam’s dad finally let go of the last acreage of farmable land, leaving just enough for the barn and a small house, built to replace the orginal farmstead.
Moving to the present day of the play (2003), Slam is pushing hard against the taint of failure. The Lamb family has been infected. Slam’s grandfather, on reaching retirement age, became disgusted with his heirs and let slide, satisfied to live on Social Security and bonds from World War II.
Squire, the middle son and Slam’s dad, came back from Korea, ignored his GI Bill rights, and aimed for the title of gentleman farmer. Hard to do in the 1950’s and a virtual impossibility after SNCC started its marches, Kennedy was elected, and the Beatles came on the scene. To his credit, Squire made an admirable attempt. But facts easily conspire against a young man who had more romantic notions than business sense, as well as tendency to ignore the finer points of loan documents and lease agreements. It got easier to sell here and parcel out there, rather than sit in a bank a minute longer. Besides, the local watering hole was calling. Just one shot and a beer chaser. He’d be home soon after, and then he really’d really know what to do.
Sheela break: I’m frustrated! I meant to write about Slam, but clearly I’m stuck in the mid-1960’s, about ten years before she was even born. Maybe tomorrow.
All is not lost, however, because I’ve got another visual: Squire hiding out in roadside bar, the type with rectangular, narrow windows, a gravel parking lot, and neon beer signs. Squire throws back a shot, reaches for a cloudy glass of beer, and begins planning his next moves. He’s so close, the circumstances are very nearly in alignment. Just a few minutes out in the field, by himself, with no voices spouting opinions, no long-winded advice, no carping over past bills.
Slam’s coming soon.