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AQUILLA:

Aquilla Quick-Manning. You can call me Captain, maam. I was a pirate


captain at the age of eleven. Kidnapped at the age of seven, I was a cabin boy for
dread pirates.

In the breathless thrill of youth I led a mutiny against an unusually cruel captain. In
the same breath, I fell in love with a whore on the islands of Barataria Bay.

She made a gift of these here guitar strings, pure and undefiled silver. Now, you can
lay down with a whore, but you dont dare fall in love with her.

AZRA: (interjecting) Some fool bunk, here.

AQUILLA: I awoke in her bed one morning to a platoon of privateers and marauders
with their guns pointed at my throat and my hands tied behind my back.

COTTON: Thats an asinine story and I dont believe one word of it.

AQUILLA: That right?

COTTON: If its right, its a soft, protected thing you did. Dont know much about the
world.

AQUILLA: Well. I was a boy.

COTTON: Thats right.

AQUILLA: You calling me a liar?

COTTON: A liar or a fool.

AQUILLA: As you like it, I suppose.

COTTON: I do.


AQUILLA:
The whooperups and fresh come-ups ain't got nothing on your hollerups
Your hollerdowns or pretty frowns or ragged, wet, and slinking gowns
Inch by inch, and sliver by sliver, rise from the river
Skinny as death and tight as silverfish gills
Not a day behind her time, the slime off the water grip up her legs
And blow me down.

AQUILLA:

The Lady king got an itchin for her fixin


But her Corporal ain't good for nothing but tricks and
Knowing this, and showing fissures,
she enters the dank embankment of the Dealer.
The Dealer deals in meals for his associate,
Meals for the vitiated mind to devour and
destroy all soul's pretty spiderwebs
The Dealer deals in canals and entryways, and exitways
In tributaries and tribunal fairies and black and white spiders
The lady king wides up her big yellow gob
and swallows spider by spider
They itch her veins, tickle up and down her blood canals
And all the white horses, all the pretty horses
All the white horses cannot come save you now.
Black spiders follow white spiders and through your veins
Your cold and helpless body, food for each a one
And those wretched souls who might feed upon perversion
Kick her through to the next world
Where she ain't no queen and she ain't no lady
and she don't give a damn for life or soul or pith
For all the skilamalink cheaters' naked cheating
Wager all for the gas-pipes and the half-rats
and meater-nancy narking
The lady king is dead
The lady king is dead
The lady king is dead

COTTON: You hate the lady king.

AQUILLA: I don't hate the lady king.

COTTON: You delight in her demise, and the ransack of her helpless body.

AQUILLA: I don't hate the lady king. She just don't know her place in life, reckons
she can play upon us all.

COTTON: I don't know that you know yourself.

AQUILLA: That right?

COTTON: Thats right. Do a lot of drinkin, dont you.

AQUILLA: Rebel bent.

COTTON: Aint no rebellion. You drinkin what they sellin. Whos the lady king?

AQUILLA: There ain't no lady king.



COTTON: I don't believe in you.

AQUILLA: Didn't ever, and don't ever, have a need of that.

COTTON: As you like it.

AQUILLA: How you like it?

COTTON: I do. Well. The words is poetry but I cant abide the meaning.

AQUILLA: You cant abide.

COTTON: Its pure malice.

AQUILLA: Its rancor, but satirical. Pure hopstash more like it.

COTTON: Last I checked wit and rancor aint exactly oil and water. Sing
another one.

AQUILLA: Yes, maam.

AQUILLA:
She rise above the angles and the cockbull collie shangles
Dance her frame at the end of the fray
And at the end of the day, when her limp shape shaped up
It shaped up good and even with no limp lump unplaced
Unfazed for the glaze of her dead eyes look 'pon nothin
But no gent rent his garment over a dead eye or a cold heart
We look for em at any rate among the walking on the earth
And a witch's tit git hard and unyielding at the end of the day
At the end of the fray
But I drive unto her, I drive unto her with my mind's eyes
Still wet and wanton, wet and wanting
To and fro, back and behind
Swang her cold dead body, and my wet eyes follow it back and behind
Back and behind and to and forth
And front and ahead and forth and behind
While she dangles and it tangles at the end of the fray

And this one?

COTTON: Whats the meaning?

AQUILLA: The execution of Edith Thompson.


COTTON: Come again?

AQUILLA: The woman hanged for conspiracy after her lover killed her husband. *Im
ashamed to say I saw her hanged I remember what a fine figure she showed
against the sky as she hung in the misty rain, and how the tight black silk gown set
off her shape as she wheeled half-round and back.* (quotation from Thomas Hardy,
on the execution of Martha Browne in 1856)

COTTON: You think on yourself, Aquilla.


Enter Aquilla as Azra exits, he and Cotton facing against each other like two cowboys
ready to duel.

A pause.

AQUILLA: Oh, pardon me.

He starts to leave.

COTTON: You afeared of me, Quilla?

AQUILLA: Who?

COTTON: You.

AQUILLA: What makes you say that?

COTTON: Aint you?

AQUILLA: It's likely. Should I be?

COTTON: Likely. Aint got such pretty eyes as your brother.

AQUILLA: Well, that aint what people say. You're marrying him?

COTTON: I am.

A pause.

AQUILLA: All right.

COTTON: What of it?

AQUILLA: Not much.



COTTON: What of it?

AQUILLA: I said not much.

COTTON: I know what you said.

AQUILLA: Well?

COTTON: Where's your swagger, Quilla?

AQUILLA: My swagger... I know what you mean. You're talking so direct, you're
keeping me off-balance. I feel dizzy.

COTTON: Might be the drink.

AQUILLA: Might be. Well--

A pause.

COTTON: I notice you noticing me.

A pause.

COTTON: I said I notice you noticing me.

AQUILLA: That right?

COTTON: You sweet on me?

AQUILLA: As you like it.

COTTON: I do.

AQUILLA: How's that?

COTTON: You heard me.

AQUILLA: I said how's that? I'm dizzy, goddamn it.

COTTON: You certainly are. But circumstances bein what they are.

AQUILLA: Circumstances. Don't give a spit for no circumstances. Never did.

COTTON: Maybe you don't but I ain't so unchained.


AQUILLA: That right? You don't seem chained by nothing.

COTTON: Thank you.

AQUILLA: You don't barely know me.

COTTON: You all heat when you ain't dousin yourself with bourbon. I know that,
least.

AQUILLA: So what then?

COTTON: So nothing. Sew buttons.

AQUILLA: Woman, don't do this to me.

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