/ burned books / short / audio project /
written by jack richardson
DAISY, a young American lady who has lost her home
TOM, the Mississippi man who loves her
GEPPETTO, an old Italian searching for his son
The pile is high and messy. They are all sizes and colors. They read all sorts of different titles such as The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Great Gatsby, The Age of Innocence, A Christmas Carol, Tom Sawyer, El Dorado, and The Lost World. The books litter the entire floor; the old, cracked wooden floor.
DAISY Tommy, I’m scared.
TOM I know Daisy, I know yeh are. You’re being mighty brave.
DAISY I’m afraid for Mister Roxton, aren’t you?
TOM He’s a good ol’ boy, hon, he can take care of ’imself.
DAISY He went out a long while ago, and he hasn’t come back, and now I hear it snowing, and I’m afraid.
TOM Afraid o’ what now? I’m here.
DAISY Oh Tom, I’m not afraid for me, I’m afraid for Mister Roxton. What if he’s wandered into soldiers? Or he’s fallen badly on
TOM Take more’n ice and bad men to put a dent on Mister Roxton. He been abroad to darker places, him and his long gun.
GIPPETTO Long guns, short guns, men’s guns, they all run…
TOM What you say there, Mister?
GIPPETTO I say lie down with the dogs and wake up with their fleas. Wehrmacht bastardi. Your man friend, the soldier? More likely
than not he’s dead than alive. Be lucky he shot by our own men than theirs. No, he has gone – he has stepped off his
margins. Your soldier? He is dead.
TOM Now we don’t know that fer sure. He could well’ve broke through… slipped out under the wire…
GEPPETTO There is no “slipping of wires”, no “breaking of through”. We have been turned out, discarded, thrown in piles and burned.
Our ink runs in the sleet rain and like corpses, we rot.
DAISY What’s he saying there, Tom? My ears feel terribly full.
TOM Nothin’ there, hon. He don’t say nothin’ kind.
DAISY There used to be so many of us. Mister Roxton. Mister Finn. Were they ever here? I can’t tell, Tom. All I see is paper white,
and all the words… they run together. And when I dream, I see West Egg, and the sky is full of smoke. Please Tom, I’m so
TOM Come closer to the fire, Daisy girl. Get some warmth in those bones now.
DAISY I can still feel the heat of it… see the embers behind my eyes. The flames and the fire, the house, as it burned…
Is my face red, Tom? Is it burned red from the heat?
TOM (Kisses her) Rose red, and right pretty. You’re so lovely I could burst.
DAISY You’re very sweet to me, Tom.
He’s a sweetheart, isn’t he, sir? We’re to be married soon. Another day or two. We’ll go somewhere far away from here, and
we’ll make ourselves a home.
GEPPETTO Make a home, lose a home… Why make a home to lose a home? Why hang up your door to let them break it down again?
TOM We’ll be just swell, the two of us, alone. And when we’re far enough away, we’ll build ourselves a fine family, just like Bob
did with his brood.
DAISY Exactly so, just like the dear Cratchits. But I haven’t thought of them since last night… I hope they passed it well. They were
as quiet as church mice. I never heard a whimper, not even a single snore…
TOM (Gently) They left us now, Daise. High tailed it and gone.
GEPPETTO Something took them, in the night.
DAISY Took them?
GEPPETTO In the night, when it falls, all full dark and no stars.
DAISY No, that can’t be true. Tell me he’s lying, Tom.
GEPPETTO Something silent in the dark came and took them all away. A jabberwock, or panzersnatch. Something loosed out of pages,
scattered in the wind.
DAISY (Frightened) Is it true Tommy, were they taken?
TOM Hey Mister, do yeh mind? You’re scarin’ my girl.
GEPPETTO Good that she’s afraid. Right times to be afraid. Little room left besides being cold and all afraid.
DAISY They never said goodbye. They left in the night, or something came and took them, and they never said goodbye.
Hold on to me, won’t you Tommy? Hold on to me there, please.
TOM I will hon, I know.
DAISY (Calming) Good that they left here. It’s no place for a family, no place to grow kids... We won’t raise ours here, will we,
Tom? Not our little boy and girl?
TOM No Daise, ain’t no way.
TOM Snow’s comin’ down hard now. Bob’s boy looked awful sick.
DAISY Hold me tighter please, Tommy. I feel so very cold.
TOM Can’t you feel me there? We’re so close we could melt.
GEPPETTO Snow falls on the bodies but still they can burn. It will bury us all as we dig out our graves. He is dead. She is dead. We are
all dead, and somehow still walking.
TOM Now that’s enough of that now, Mister, and God’s honest truth!
DAISY Please Tom, be kind…
TOM All your talk of death and dyin, and all of it, what’s it for? There’s still hope among us, sir. I ask you to respect it.
GEPPETTO Respect for the living? Yes, I can respect. I can respect, and I can live. Live for my son to live. Live enough for us to both.
We come here, my son and I. We are happy here. We are safe.
Then one day, the soldiers come. Men in tall hats, with their guns, their long knives. They say they want my boy. Say he
must come and fight. I say no, I will not allow. I try to take their guns, and to shoot them, and they… and they do…
But I do not give up. I do not stop my searching for my son. I look in all the places a boy would hide, where a child might sit
and take his shelter, unseen by these bad men. But I do not think he’s here. I think now, and I am sure, that there is
nowhere here to hide.
Geppetto sits down and begins to cry. The sound of church bells, in the distance.
DAISY That’s a gentle sound. Puts me in a calm mind.
Tell me about our little boy, Tom. Tell me what he’ll look like.
TOM He’ll look just like me, only fair. Straw hair and white cheeks, and he’ll freckle in the sun. He’ll grow up tall, like a bean pole,
and when he smiles, like rays from heaven, on account of his white teeth.
DAISY And our little girl? Will she be fair?
TOM She’ll be dark, just like her momma. She’ll wear a dress of cornflower blue, and keep a rabbit in a hutch. And she’ll have a
secret smile, as delicate and light as a tiny thimble kiss.
DAISY I’d like that, Tom. I’d like that very much.
More church bells, closer than before. The sun is rising.
DAISY It’s morning now. I can hear it. I hear those bells, ringing clear and true. Is the sun rising, Tom? Is the sun reaching up to
TOM It sure is now, smiling warm and wide.
DAISY Good now. That’s fine. Hold my hand please, Tom. I need you close now. Just for a short while. Merry Christmas to you,
TOM Merry Christmas, Daisy Fay.