“That’s quite the set of stories you have. Eat your greens, now.”
“They can use it better than The Crawlers ever could, Momma Melodee,” the thief said.
“Let me tell you a story,” Momma Melodee said. “Can I tell you a story? You know Langston Hughes?”
Maya quoted a whole poem and started to quote another.
“Okay, easy girl, easy,” Mayor Melodee said and laughed. “Easy.” She chuckled again. “Well they ran Langston out of town because he and his parents were different. Made a lot of change when he grew up, Langston, but when he was just a little baby the times were hard and his parents had this vial.”
“In 1869, Lewis Sheridan Leary gets wounded in John Brown’s raid. Mary Patterson Leary had kept this vial of the original goods in her family, passed it down. Tried to get it to Leary but he died from gangrene and the men buried him before she even got there. Mary and Lazarus. So she marries Charles Henry Langston. Passed the vial to Caroline. Caroline meets James Nathaniel Hughes. James’ granddaddy was a white slave owner – Sam Clay. Anyways, Caroline was Langston’s mother.”
“What?” Lee said. “How?”
“Well they passed it down through the community here that lives on Langston Hughes boulevard just east of the depot where the Crawlers make base. That and Joplin’s creek. They gave it to me when I was mayor, but I never found someone that I thought would use it right. These hipsters here tell me you might be worth my gift. They tell me Mr. Monroe Douglas is your uncle.”
“He is,” Lee said.
“And you’re against what he’s doing?”
“Be careful,” she says, “you don’t know the man like I know the man. He’s in this for keeps and’ll shed blood for it. Even yours.”
“Mom?” Lee called.
A voice mumbled from the other end of the cavern.
“Well you’re a sore for sight eyes,” mom said.
“Rude of you to just stop by like this,” said Monroe.
“What are you doing on this estate?” Monroe said.
“Ran out of tomorrows,” Lee said and he hacked. “I told you – I came to Joplin to see my mother.”
“You’ve seen her, leave now,” Monroe said.
“Oh lighten up, brother,” Lee’s mother said. “You act so–“
“Quiet,” Monroe said, “You need your rest. Doctor’s orders, right Doctor Manning?”
When Maya saw Mitch come out of that car, she stormed over.
And while she was shouting at Mitch, Monroe raised his voice to say, “So visiting hours are over. Thanks for coming. Have a good day, you and your friends. Go drink your dark beer or whatever it is you kids do.”
“Drink?” Lee said.
“Leave her alone!” Uncle Monroe shouted.
“No, it is you who needs to do the leaving, white man,” Thulani said.
“Let me through,” Monroe said.
“You’re not going to feed her that sludge.” Thulani said.
“Oh, come on, it’s a miracle drug.”
“Try it then,” Thulani said, “it won’t work.”
brought to you by the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau
photographed & directed by Mark Neuenschwander
written & directed by Lance Schaubert
produced by Carrie Puffinbarger