An excerpt from the screenplay

the jelly

Copyright ©1999 Jim Gabour. All Rights Reserved.


IN THE BEDROOM, Eulalie puts a cool compress on Ferdinand's eyes. He is LYING IN HIS BED, pale and lifeless in a lake of sweat.


Just rest now, child, just rest. It's been a bad few days, I know, but a very powerful doctor is here now to make sure you get well.


(with a hoarse whisper)

I tried, Tee Nana... I promise... I tried...

There are tears in her eyes. She strokes his forehead, then picks up his hand and kisses it.


I know, my baby. You were brave. I shouldn't have sent you out there so soon. It's my fault. You were so brave. Now you rest, 'cause in a few minutes we go to the doctor's house. He got everything there to make sure you get better.

She gently lays his hand on the covers, turns down the lamp and leaves the room, shutting the door behind her.


PAPA SOCA (late 40's, dark, very tribal-African) is sitting at the table, turning a half-filled glass of whiskey in his hands. When he speaks, his voice is deep and melodic.

He is staring into the liquid as Eulalie walks into room talking quietly.


He's worse. I tried everything I know, and still... he's worse.

She sits across from Soca, her head in her hands. Tears stream down her cheeks.


I can't explain it. He didn't seem sick. Now, his body is filling with fluid, and his fever won't break. What am I missing?

Papa Soca is silent. He takes a sip of the whiskey and looks up at Eulalie.


You treating the wrong thing, sister. That is evident. The boy done lost his confidence. Done lost his will, his Self. The boy's fever just in his body. His Self too weak to repair damage done to his body.


(touches his hand, then quickly draws back)

What can I do?


I think you know already.


I know?


He already gone. Give him away again, you solve his problem. You solve yours.

(horror begins to spread over her face)

Give him away?. No. No. I don't want this boy anywhere...


(violently interrupting)

Shut your mouth and listen, woman! You boy going to die unless somebody do something in a big way. No white man gonna treat what ail this child.
(looking hard into her eyes)

And you... you need the body of a soul you love to make things right with me...

He holds his hand up to silence her as she starts to interrupt.


...don't give me no delusion about offering that worthless man of yours. The man worth no more to your soul than a cockroach in shit.
(a beat, then smoothly cajoling)

There is no pain, no worth, in such an offering.
(motioning toward bedroom door)

This is the one you love. He the only fit sacrifice for you. Then you move up in the Family to the Inner Circle--you become a true traiteur after all these years. Your own neighborhood, your own income... independence from the fool you married. The child become well. He live well. He need never even know what you done.


He will know. He is no fool.


And you think he choose this painful death over health and a happy life?


No. I cannot lose him. Not now.


Then hurt a moment, rejoice a lifetime, sister. This not the moment for you to falter. Not after all these years. Not after me placing my faith in you. You must be resolute, and the rewards...will flow to you. When you complete the offering, I have something wonderful for you. The first such thing of many in the life before you--I can see it.


(starts to rise)


(rougher, pulling her back to him)

He dies, unnoted like an animal...or he lives like a is your choice.
(slamming his glass on table)

Now! No more thinking! You tell me: his body or his soul? You can only keep one, sister...


(struggling, in pain)


Soca releases her. She staggers toward the bedroom. Soca finishes his whiskey at a gulp, stands, pushes away from the table.


Bring him. We go to my place now.


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