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August Wilson

- 17 -

That what it say on the radio. "Three rooms . . . two-ninety-eight." Even made up a little song about it. Go down there . . . man tell me I can't get no
credit. I'm working every day and can’t get no credit. What to do? I got an empty house with some raggedy furniture in it. Cory ain't got no bed. He's
sleeping on a pile of rags on the floor. Working every day and can't get no credit. Come back here — Rose'll tell you — madder than hell. Sit down . .

. try to figure what I'm gonna do. Come a knock on the door. Ain't been living here but three days. Who know I'm here? Open the door . . . devil
standing there bigger than life. White fellow ... got on good clothes and everything. Standing there with a clipboard in his hand. I ain't had to say
nothing. First words come out of his mouth was ... "I understand you need some furniture and can't get no credit." I liked to fell over. He say "I'll give
you all the credit you want, but you got to pay the interest on it." I told him, "Give me three rooms worth and charge whatever you want." Next day a
truck pulled up here and two men unloaded them three rooms. Man what drove the truck give me a book. Say send ten dollars, first of every month to
the address in the book and everything will be alright. Say if I miss a payment the devil was coming back and it'll be hell to pay. That was fifteen years
ago. To this day ... the first of the month I send my ten dollars, Rose'll tell you.

ROSE Troy lying.

TROY I ain't never seen that man since. Now you tell me who else that could have been but the devil? I ain't sold my soul or nothing like that, you
understand. Naw, I wouldn't have truck with the devil about nothing like that. I got my furniture and pays my ten dollars the first of the month just like

- 18 -

BONO How long you say you been paying this ten dollars a month?

TROY Fifteen years!

BONO Hell, ain’t you finished paying for it yet? How much the man done charged you.

TROY Aw hell, I done paid for it. I done paid for it ten times over! The fact is I’m scared to stop paying it.

ROSE Troy lying. We got that furniture from Mr. Glickman. He ain’t paying no ten dollars a month to nobody.

TROY Aw hell, woman. Bono know I ain’t that big a fool.

LYONS I was just getting ready to say ... I know where there’s a bridge for sale.

TROY Look here, I’ll tell you this ... it don’t matter to me if he was the devil. It don’t matter if the devil give credit. Somebody has got to give it.

ROSE It ought to matter. You going around talking about having truck with the devil . . . God's the one you gonna have to answer to. He's the one
gonna be at the Judgment.

LYONS Yeah, well, look here, Pop ... let me have that ten dollars. I’ll give it back to you. Bonnie got a job working at the hospital.

TROY What I tell you, Bono? The only time I see this nigger is when he wants something. That's the only time I see him.

LYONS Come on, Pop, Mr. Bono don't want to hear all that. Let me have the ten dollars. I told you Bonnie working.

TROY What that mean to me? "Bonnie working." I don't care if she working. Go ask her for the ten dollars if she

- 19 -

working. Talking about "Bonnie working." Why ain't you working?

LYONS Aw, Pop, you know I can't find no decent job. Where am I gonna get a job at? You know I can't get no job.

TROY I told you I know some people down there. I can get you on the rubbish if you want to work. I told you that the last time you came by here

asking me for something.

LYONS Naw, Pop . . . thanks. That ain't for me. I don't wanna be carrying nobody's rubbish. I don’t wanna be punching nobody's time clock.

TROY What's the matter, you too good to carry people's rubbish? Where you think ten dollars you talking about come from? I'm just supposed to
haul people's rubbish and give my money to you cause you too lazy to work. You too lazy to work and wanna know why you ain't got what I got.

ROSE What hospital Bonnie working at? Mercy?

LYONS She's down at Passavant working in the laundry.

TROY I ain’t got nothing as it is. I give you that ten dollars and I got to eat beans the rest of the week. Naw . . . you ain't getting no ten dollars here.

LYONS You ain't got to be eating no beans. I don't know why you wanna say that.

TROY I ain't got no extra money. Gabe done moved over to Miss Pearl's paying her the rent and things done got tight around here. I can't afford to
be giving you every payday.

LYONS I ain't asked you to give me nothing. I asked you to loan me ten dollars. I know you got ten dollars.

- 20 -

TROY Yeah, I got it. You know why I got it? Cause I don't throw my money away out there in the streets. You living the fast life . . . wanna be a
musician . . . running around in them clubs and things . . . then, you learn to take care of yourself. You ain't gonna find me going and asking nobody
for nothing. I done spent too many years without.

LYONS You and me is two different people, Pop.

TROY I done learned my mistake and learned to do what's right by it. You still trying to get something for nothing. Life don't owe you nothing. You
owe it to yourself. Ask Bono. He'll tell you I'm right.

LYONS You got your way of dealing with the world ... I got mine. The only thing that matters to me is the music.

TROY Yeah, I can see that! It don't matter how you gonna eat . . . where your next dollar is coming from. You telling the truth there.

LYONS I know I got to eat. But I got to live too. I need something that gonna help me to get out of the bed in the morning. Make me feel like I
belong in the world. I don't bother nobody. I just stay with my music cause that's the only way I can find to live in the world. Otherwise there ain't no
telling what I might do. Now I don’t come criticizing you and how you live. I just come by to ask you for ten dollars. I don’t wanna hear all that about
how I live.

TROY Boy, your mama did a hell of a job raising you.

LYONS You can't change me, Pop. I'm thirty-four years old. If you wanted to change me, you should have been there when I was growing up. I
come by to see you . . .

-21 -

ask for ten dollars and you want to talk about how I was raised. You don't know nothing about how I was raised .

ROSE Let the boy have ten dollars, Troy.


(To LYONS.) What the hell you looking at me for? I ain't got no ten dollars. You know what I do with my money.

(To ROSE.) Give him ten dollars if you want him to have it.

ROSE I will. Just as soon as you turn it loose.


( Handing ROSE the money.) There it is. Seventy-six dollars and forty-two cents. You see this, Bono? Now, I ain't gonna get but six of that back.

ROSE You ought to stop telling that lie. Here, Lyons.

(She hands him the money.)

LYONS Thanks, Rose. Look ... I got to run .. . I'll see you later.

TROY Wait a minute. You gonna say, "thanks, Rose" and ain't gonna look to see where she got that ten dollars from? See how they do me, Bono?
LYONS I know she got it from you, Pop. Thanks. I'll give it back to you.

TROY There he go telling another lie. Time I see that ten dollars . . . he'll be owing me thirty more.

LYONS See you, Mr. Bono.

BONO Take care, Lyons!

LYONS Thanks, Pop. I'll see you again.

( LYONS exits the yard.)

TROY I don't know why he don't go and get him a decent job and take care of that woman he got.

- 22 -

BONO He’ll be alright, Troy. The boy is still young.

TROY The boy is thirty-four years old.

ROSE Let’s not get off into all that.

BONO Look here ... I got to be going. I got to be getting on. Lucille gonna be waiting.


(Puts his arm around ROSE.) See this woman, Bono? I love this woman. I love this woman so much it hurts. I love her so much ... I done run out of
ways of loving her. So I got to go back to basics. Don't you come by my house Monday morning talking about time to go to work . . . 'cause I’m still
gonna be stroking!

ROSE Troy! Stop it now!

BONO I ain’t paying him no mind, Rose. That ain't nothing but gin-talk. Go on, Troy. I'll see you Monday.

TROY Don't you come by my house, nigger! I done told you what I'm gonna be doing.

(The lights go down to black.)

Act 1 , Scene 2

- 23 -

Act One Scene Two

The lights comeup on ROSE hanging up clothes. She hums and sings softly to herself. It is the following morning.


(Sings) Jesus, be a fence all around me every day Jesus, I want you to protect me as I travel on my way. Jesus, be a fence all around me every day.
(Troy enters from the house)


(continued) Jesus, I want you to protect me As I travel on my way.

(To TROY) ’Morning. You ready for breakfast? I can fix it soon as I finish hanging up these clothes?

TROY I got the coffee on. That’ll be alright. I'll just drink some of that this morning.

ROSE That 651 hit yesterday. That’s the second time this month. Miss Pearl hit for a dollar . . . seem like those that need the least always get lucky.
Poor folks can't get nothing.

- 24 -

TROY Them numbers don't know nobody. I don't know why you fool with them. You and Lyons both.

ROSE It's something to do.

TROY You ain't doing nothing but throwing your money away.

ROSE Troy, you know I don't play foolishly. I just play a nickel here and a nickel there.

TROY That's two nickels you done thrown away.

ROSE Now I hit sometimes . . . that makes up for it. It always comes in handy when I do hit. I don't hear you complaining then.

TROY I ain't complaining now. I just say it's foolish. Trying to guess out of six hundred ways which way the number gonna come. If I had all the
money niggers, these Negroes, throw away on numbers for one week — just one week — I'd be a rich man.

ROSE Well, you wishing and calling it foolish ain't gonna stop folks from playing numbers. That’s one thing for sure. Besides . . . some good things
come from playing numbers. Look where Pope done bought him that restaurant off of numbers.

TROY I can't stand niggers like that. Man ain’t had two dimes to rub together. He walking around with his shoes all run over bumming money for
cigarettes. Alright. Got lucky there and hit the numbers . . .

ROSE Troy, I know all about it.

TROY Had good sense, I'll say that for him. He ain't throwed his money away. I seen niggers hit the numbers and go through two thousand dollars
in four days. Man brought him that restaurant down there . . . fixed it up
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