Salt: The American Spice
Ol’ Pa Sr. is an ignorant hick. Just, terribly ignorant! His only source of income is procured through his employment in a salt mine in Generic-Ville, U.S.A. There, deep in the earth, Ol’ Pa Sr. spends his time swinging a pickax, often returning home with fresh wounds over his old, hard-knuckle fingers. And for his remuneration he collects a month’s rations in the form of a giant salt cube, which his four adult children (ages: late 20’s to early thirties) accompany him at the end of each month to collect his earnings (heavily taxed, of course). Their names are:
- J-R, and
We open our scene with Ol’ Pa Sr. and the gang sitting around the dinner table passing a low nub of salt between them.
Junior-The-Second: Pass th’ saltlick.
Sissy: Nuh-uh! Junior-The-Second, you done had a whole lick already!
Ol Pa Sr: Listen t’ ya’ sister, Junior-The-Second!
Junior-The-Second: But Sissy got nuther!
Ol’ Pa Sr: Yer sister’s lickin’ fer two now, boy! You’d do best t’ member yer ‘rythematic. Two means, one fer th’ baby, an’ one fer th’ other. I know I learnt you better ‘an this!
Junior-The-Second: Yessir. Sorry Sissy, you go on an’ have yer nuther lick!
Sissy: That’s aw’right. Hey Jr., an’ J-R! Y’all been awful quiet, what’s diggin’ in yer gums?
J-R, running his tongue over his top gums with paranoid concern: Dunno.
Jr. chimes in as if his sister had just proposed a deep philosophical quandary: Oh, yeah! That’s a good point Sissy! Hey pa, I was thinkin’ ‘bout goin t’ Bobby Hank’s after supper, whatcha’ think?
Ol’ Pa Sr. adjusts far back in his lazy boy and strokes his beard with deep, contemplative eyes. He begins to nod and then cock his head, before nodding again in reflection. To his anxious children he appears locked in a silent discourse of wit, but in his mind, Jimmy No-Shoes fantasizes about a Christmas eve catastrophe involving a sudden, and unexplained shortage of the world’s salt reserve being announced over an old clock radio (referenced over the air as “a sudden, and unexplained shortage of the world’s salt reserves”). He immediately excuses himself from the table with a heroic air, foregoing his lick in the process, and hurries into his curtained corner of the one room shack to dawn a red and white Santa outfit, complete with a terribly matted, and vomit spattered beard (adding to the aesthetic hang a couple of crumpled cigarette butts, and a wad of chewing gum matted into its fibers). When he reemerges, his children are surprised to see Santa Claus fumbling out of their father’s corner and immediately rush him for hugs, presents, and tales of little arctic dwelling elves. He manages to cough and rasp out a couple of good “ho-ho’s” before digging into his jacket pockets and throwing a handful of salt into the air, proclaiming “Merry Xmas, y’all, and t’ y’all…” he fumbles over a series of garbled utterances before settling on a blurted “All right!” and then crashes through his single-story window where a disgruntled taxi driver awaits to take him to deliver salt to all the good boys and girls. The cab drivers payment? You guessed it, a handful salt that once revealed, immediately causes the disgruntled, and disheveled cabbie to put on the airs as if he were transporting a hefty tipper. From here, he flashes through a series of heroic visions of him flying across the globe in a yellow checkered taxi sprinkling salt all over a grateful world. But the salt doesn’t just cause nations to immediately cease bombing each other and take up hands to sing kumbaya, it also puts out raging wild fires, brings rain and fauna to deserts, destroys black holes, ends poverty, and saves the whales (all seen in a series of whirling headlines praising Santa).
After several moments of this he is slowly brought back to the conversation with Jr banging his head on the table like a bored, and impatient child repeating: Whatta’ ‘bout Bobby Hank, pop. Whatta’ ‘bout Bobby Hank, pop. Whatta’ ‘bout Bobby Hank, pop.
Ol’ Pa Sr. slowly wonders about the table with a low, confused air.
Ol’ Pa Sr: Bobby Hank, huh? I’m not a hun’red percent sure I ’member why we’re talkin’ ‘bout ‘im t’ be hones’…. He that funny fella who wrastles horses?
Jr, smiling up with blood gushing from his forehead in long comical spurts spraying everyone at the table who in turn just stare and listen unaffected by the warm spray of blood hitting their faces: Nuh-uh, he only wrastles boys- well, an’ sumtimes girls. Like, he an Sissy was wrastlin’ a couple months back- he pinned her good- over, an’ over, an’ over uh-gin!
Sissy rubbing her stomach in a smiling daze: He sure did!
Ol’ Pa Sr: Well, I reckon any man who can pin yer sister, is good ‘nuf t’ pin my boy in’uh-day!
Jr: Oh, thankee pop! Thankee mighty! Well, I better git into my wrastlin’ outfit.
And he rushes off to his curtained corner of the shack and then exits a moment later barefoot, wearing only a black ski mask and stained tighty-whitey’s. Tied about his shoulders is a patchwork cape that reads in bold, glitter lettering: CRUSHER.
Ol’ Pa Sr. smiling in reflection: That boy shore got character! If only we was all like ‘im…
He glances about the table at his blood-spattered family- J-R winces in pain as a cloud of industry hovers over his mouth, while a series of high beeps, and jackhammers resound from inside, meanwhile, Sissy pinches the salt nub between her thumb and forefinger to play “got yer nose” with a slightly terrified, but giggling Junior-The-Second- and Ol’ Pa Sr. shrugs at it all. He then heads over to the old clock radio, like the one in his daydream, and turns it on to a distressing announcement: This just in! Reports from across the globe announce a sudden, and unexplained shortage in the world’s salt reserves. Nations at peace are now taking up arms against each other, the grossly impoverished, and even whales in retaliation. More at eleven…
Ol’ Pa Sr: Quick Sissy! What holiday is it?
Sissy wets her finger in her mouth and then holds it high into the air to feel the wind, proclaiming: Why, it’s Sunday!
Ol’ Pa Sr: Close ‘nuf.
And he disappears behind his curtained corner.