Excerpts from Long Shadow
WOODIE: ‘Sgood.
WINONA: It was better at dinnertime.
WOODIE: I’m just trying earn some overtime.
WINONA: You got work next week?
WOODIE: They don’t say. Charlie got laid off. We got pie?
WINONA: You ate it yesterday.
WOODIE: I like dessert.
WINONA: I need money.
WOODIE: I get paid next week.
WINONA: We’ll have pie next week.
WOODIE: I think about— Whatta they call him? Wild Bill?
WINONA: Joey needs a new coat.
WOODIE: Wild Bill. Lucky bastard. Lives the way he wants to. Out in the hills. Runs around naked. The ladies like him, according to Charlie.
WINONA: With all that hair?
WOODIE: Bill Ebaugh. He don’t take any crap.
WINONA: I seen him in town. He looks crazy.
WOODIE: World like this you’re better off crazy. I admire that sonofabitch.
WINONA: Don’t talk like that around Joey.
WOODIE: Joey’s asleep.
WINONA: Hon, you know there’s work overt the Bay. Lotta work. Everybody’s got good jobs. Did you check the lumberyard?
WOODIE: They said why aren’t you in the Army? I said if I was in the Army I wouldn’t need the job.
WINONA: Tell’em it’s cause of your eyes.
WOODIE: The Japs are too short to see?
WINONA: Lots of people are 4-F.
WOODIE: What’s on the radio?
WINONA: Nothing much. Amos’n’ Andy was on. Well you get laid off, we’ll have to move out to the cabin. We can’t afford to live in town. Joey’s gonna miss his friends... Esther wrote that John’s working in New Mexico. Lotta work down there, for the war. He’s on some big project for the government, so they’re not gonna lay anybody off. It’s out in the desert, so I guess it must not ever snow.
WOODIE: That’s fulla Mexicans.
WINONA: New Mexico. It’s New Mexicans.
WOODIE: What makes them any better than the old ones?
WINONA: Woodie... I’m sorry, hon. I oughta be thankful we got each other, and you’re not overseas and me going crazy. I just think how dumb I was, right outta high school, all this notion about “happily ever after” and no idea what it’s like when the baby starts to crown and the bills come due. I’m sorry.
WOODIE: I just want some goddamn cherry pie.
TIMMERMAN: Ok, my friends, what we got. Jack Upchurch, age 24, his folks are farmers up in Willow Valley. He’s back from the Pacific a couple of months. Yesterday they’re out hunting, last day of deer season, he’s off driving deer, with the dogs. There’s a shot.
LESTER: They couldn’t find him. His dad and brother—
TIMMERMAN: His dad and his brother couldn’t find him. So we went out last night. And then today, about noon, his uncle found him in Snow Mountain ditch. He’d been shot in the back. Then dragged down a distance, down into the stream bed. Part of his clothes was torn off, and definitely the suspicion is murder. That’s about it.
WALT: Anything special about the young man?
TIMMERMAN: No, they’re just farmers. He and his brother’s working his dad’s farm. And a daughter and another brother. Dad said the Japs shot off two of his fingers, so he’s got a Purple Heart.
WALT: How do they feel?
TIMMERMAN: Well they’re not dancing a jig.
RUBY: Dad, you’re gonna catch cold out here. I need to mop the porch before it gets any colder. Whatta you reading?
FRED: Price of hogs.
RUBY: You read the article? My friend Ginny wrote the article. She called up, we haven’t seen each other for years. They didn’t put it on the front page. Some old doctor died. That’s what they put on the front page. I called the church, Rev. Porter will do the service, but he didn’t know Jack so I said just talk about Jesus and God and that stuff. And the major at Ft. Beale, he was nice. It’ll be full military honors, Taps, flag on the casket. I guess they do funerals real well. They got practice.
FRED: Do they shoot off guns?
RUBY: I think they do.
FRED: I wish they wouldn’t.
RUBY: I think they have to. Did you get enough to eat? You seen Jamie today? He was going to help me. Funeral’s Saturday, we don’t know how many people’s coming.
FRED: It’s a military funeral.
RUBY: Military’s not serving the food. Military’s not cleaning the house. Military’s not milking the cows or taking care of Mom! Mom hasn’t left Jack’s room.
FRED: Did you haul those pumpkins into town?
RUBY: Sheriff says it’s Bill Ebaugh. Paper today, they said this cave was full of stuff belonged to Bill Ebaugh. Big Victrola megaphone he used to sing through to serenade the neighbors. How could it be him? Him and Jack were friends. Didn’t you tell the Sheriff that? They were friends.
FRED: Billy Ebaugh. Him and George, they tried to ride the boar. Little kids, they tried to saddle up the boar. It ran under the corn crib.
VOICES: I ‘member, he come in the barber shop once, with his long hair, barber said, Bill, what you doin’ here? And he picks up some hair off the floor, says, I need some more hair, and walks out.
I dreamed they shot him.
I dreamed they shot him.
I dreamed they shot him and he looked right at me.
I dreamed birds were singing when they shot him.
The birds were funny colors.
In the cabin. Winona is scrubbing the floor with a scrub brush. Woodie enters with his rifle, stands leaning against the door frame.
WINONA: My God, Woodie, this is filthy. The raccoons got in, you said it was shut up tight, but the kitchen, the floors are just—
She looks up at him, freezes.
What? What happened? Are you hurt?
WOODIE: I’m ok.
WINONA: That’s blood.
WOODIE: I shot him.
She goes to him, starts checking for a wound.
WINONA: Ebaugh?
WOODIE: We gotta get the sheriff.
WINONA: Is he dead?
WOODIE: Maybe.
WINONA: Don’t you know?
WOODIE: He looks dead.
WINONA: What happened?
WOODIE: Where’s Joey?
WINONA: Out in the yard. What happened?
WOODIE: I said I was going out there.
WINONA: What happened, Woodie?
WOODIE: I snuck up. Waited. He come out. I shot him.
WINONA: You just shot him?
WOODIE: No. I waited. Then I shot him.
WINONA: What’s all this blood?
WOODIE: I dunno.
EVANS: So you didn’t call him when he was in the cabin, but then you called out and popped him.
WOODIE: Well this is the porch, the door’s here, so he was running for the front door like he was going to get his gun, and I thought I better shoot him before he got his gun, so I had to shoot him in self-defense.
EVANS: How far was he from the front door?
WOODIE: Well right where he fell. I guess the Sheriff would know.
EVANS: I’m just trying to get a sense of what’s going through your mind when you were outside the house and thinking what were you gonna do?
WOODIE: Well I thought he might be dangerous.
BRADY: So when he moved, you figured it was to get a weapon.
WOODIE: He dropped like a sack of potatoes. One shot. Was it just one shot?
OLESON: Entered below the rib cage, one inch to the right, tore through the liver, cut the aorta and the 12th vertebrae.
BRADY: Then what?
Long silence.
EVANS: Mr. Purvis?
WOODIE: I just waited. He acted dead. I called “Bill.” I didn’t know him but I called him Bill. I turned him over kinda. His eyes were open. I went in, looked around. Then I went and told Winona, went up to Nine Mile House but it was closed, went to the neighbors, telephoned the Sheriff.
EVANS: Did you find a gun inside the cabin?
WOODIE: There musta been one. Was there?
EBAUGH: Ever read Walt Whitman? Wanna take off your clothes, and run through the woods, and yowl?
If there wasn’t human beings. I’d be a duck, a big red-headed duck, quack quack, and float in the lake, and praise the Lord, and you fly. And you fly. And you fly.
WOODIE: Stop it...
EBAUGH: Sometimes, with a woman, you don’t even know her name, but you’re inside one another. Who’s doin’ it to who? You can’t tell.
Stream flows into the river. Which is the stream and which is the river?
Ever read Walt Whitman?
WOODIE: In high school, maybe...
EBAUGH: It’s beautiful. Being alive. Loving the ladies. Flying.
Woodie flails to dispel the dream. Ebaugh’s hands are a bird in flight.
The bird flutters down dead.
WINONA: We like it here. It’s really beautiful. The colors in the desert. Woodie’s getting good pay, really good. It’s good to be in a place where he doesn’t have to be a hero. That’s the great thing about America, you can always move.
It’s some big government thing. I don’t know what it is, but you get the feeling that you’re part of something really important. Maybe something that helps the war. Make a better world, nothing to be afraid of. Building the future. And all the past, that’s dead and buried. Dead and buried.
I wish he’d talk more.