/ 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

                       black ice?


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

                       meet us?


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 Sawyer.


TOM               Merry Christmas, Daisy Fay.