Ruby and Scarlette Cooter are twins.  Cheyenne Daw, my cousin, she and them is best friends.  I am Duan Daw.

        My mom misspelled my name when I be borned.  She told the nurse, “No, not Dwayne, D-W-A-Y-N-E, it’s Duane, D-U-A-N.”

        I like it so’s I go by Duan,  D-U-A-N.  It’s cool.

        I am in love with Ruby and Scarlette, no kiddin’.  Tell me you ain’t.  Like cousin Cheyenne, they can look a lot older’n thirteen.  Me, too.

        I like tellin’ stories.  This one here’s a good one.  Y’know, us Southern men are known as story-tellers and fighters, right?

        One day I’m thinkin’ ‘bout myself kissin’ Ruby and Scarlette, as usual, then I get me a idea sweet as tea.  Ready?  I am gonna write a romance play with lots of kissin’.  A lovely trick, right?  Tell me!  Ruby and Scarlette is both gonna be in it.  They would like that.  It is gonna have rivalry, I’m thinkin’!  See?  That’s how I am gonna kiss ‘em both.  Lots!

        You know my Uncle Emory?  Well, Uncle Emory tells me I oughta call it A LOVELY TRICK.  And Uncle Emory reads a lot!  He laughed and slapped my shoulder.  He said he heared that a actress said once, “A kiss is a lovely trick.”

        So that’s it.  But I ain’t really callin’ it A LOVELY TRICK.

        And everybody knows Uncle Emory is rich.  He has big parties so’s I figure he’ll be tickled to have us kids put on a play.  And it don’t matter ‘cause that’s what I’ll tell Ruby and Scarlett anyhows.  They’ll be tickled pink.  I can’t wait to rehearse it.

        Yeah, Yeah, I knows I got to write it now.  I been writing’ it in my head alreadys!  You bet you know.

        But you didn’t know that I know Uncle Emory had a triangle romance years ago, I heard.  He’ll be pink!  Sure.

        Cheyenne?  Yeah, she’ll have to be in it, sure.  She could then maybe be the Director!  She likes tellin’ everyone what to do.  Ha, yeah.  I can tell her that she should keep on sayin’, “No, no, no,” that we all sure need lots more of rehearsin’ for the kissin’ parts!  Good one!  She’ll do it if I do some favor for her.

        I’ll be seein’ ‘em all three, later after school.




        Well, guess which one am I?  We four all meet up, Duan, Scarlette, Cheyenne, and me, up at the creek.

        After us a while laughin’ about school, Duan is saying’, “Hey, I’m writin’ a play.”

        Cheyenne scoffs, “Probably a porno.”

        Scarlette giggles, “Yeah, callin’ it DOWN ON DIXIE.”

        I giggle, “Yeah, callin’ it WAY DOWN SOUTH.”

        Duan begs, “Come on, now, what do you know about…”

        Us girls laugh, and Scarlette and me go, “Oh, yeah, come on now, baby…”

        I’m thinkin’, “Sure, I’d like to sit by his face.”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “You mean ‘Sit on his face’.”

        I’m thinkin’ quick, “That’s whut I meant.”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “You don’t mean nuthin’.”

        I’m thinkin’, “I do so.”

        Scarlette is thinkin, “Sittin’ on his face means you ride him like a horse.”

        I’m thinkin’, “I thought guys was s’poseta ride us like a horse.”

        Scarlette is thinkin, “Now how does that make sense?”

        I’m thinkin’, “Well, then how’s he s’poseta hang like a horse?”

        Scarlette is thinkin, “That means hung way out like a stallion.”

        I’m thinkin’ sudden, “Hey, wanna go horse ridin’?”

        Scarlette is thinkin, “You mean like a mare?”

        I’m thinkin’, “Huh?”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “Rode hard and put up wet?”

        I’m thinkin’, “You are nuts.”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “You said ‘nuts’!”

        I’m thinkin’, “You’re the one talkin’ in my head.”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “So we’re a pair of nuts.”

        I’m thinkin’, “You said ‘pair of nuts’!”


Three, DUAN


        Ruby and Scarlette are now just starin’ at each other like always.  So I’m thinkin’ what if they was both my wife and we all was livin’ together in a house away in the woods here by the creek and they was both got pregnant and they’d be arguin’ ‘bout which one of ‘em I got pregnant first.

        Ruby and Scarlette is both got long legs and long arms and they both have them cute buck teeth but Scarlette is got more meat on her bones and she don’t talk as much as Ruby.

        I love ‘em both.




        I’m the one my grandparents calls “Arrow Head” ‘cause I go straight for what I want.

        Now, I see somethin’ comin’ up along the creek here and I am sayin’, “Hey, Duan.  Your lover is comin’.”

        That homeless dog, she has adopted Duan.  Here poor thing comes along the creek looking for squirrels.  Lookin’ for Duan.  ‘Cause Duan’s kind’a squirrely I figure.  Duan named her “Dulcinea”.

        I say, “So what’s your porno play about, anyway?”

        Duan looks to Ruby and Scarlette and then he looks down and he pouts, “Quit sayin’ it’s a porno.”

        I say, “Ok, ok, so sorry, mister sensitive artist, are you gonna quit weepin’ and, oh, please, tell us?”

        Ruby makes a kissy-face and says, “Oh, please, please tell us.”

        Scarlette makes a kissy-face and says, “Ah’m beggin’ yoah favor, mistah sensitive ahtist.”

        Duan gets red and he raises his voice like a preacher and he says, “It’s about the War for Southern Independence.”

        Ruby says, “Oh, mercy. Do tell.”

        Duan sticks out his chin and he says, “Yeah, I do tell.  And I was gonna ask all y’all to be in it.”

        I laugh, “So it is a porno!”

        Ruby smiles, “Shut up.”

        Scarlette and Ruby stare at each other smilin’, smilin’.

        Duan continues all indignant, “It’s about a boy who runs away to be a drummer for his town’s regiment.  And there’s a girl helpin’ the doctor in the regiment.  And there’s another girl lookin’ for her brother…”

        Ruby and Scarlette say together, “Which one am I?”

        I say, “Hello, that’s two.”

        Duan says, “Well… I’m thinkin’ there has to be a Director.”

        I can hear the big “D” in his voice, for me.

        Duan says, “I figure you’d be a good Director.  And you can be the Narrator, too!”

        Sure.  But “What’s he up to?” I can’t help thinkin’.  I know my horndog cousin, I’m thinkin’.  I say, “Let’s hear it.”




        I am suprisin’ ‘em all, sayin’, “Dibs!  Let me read it all loud.”

        Duan is so surprised he hands me his little notebook, sayin’, “It’s just a outline.”




The woodland is broken from the great battle.

A doctor’s tent has been raised in the shattered clearing.

There is smoke and crying.

The battle has moved away to the distance.

Who is winning, no one can tell.

The blasted clearing is covered with twisted forms in blue uniforms and in grey uniforms.

A girl emerges from the tent and hurries to gather sticks of splintered wood to feed a fire.

She is the nurse helper.

She looks up with her face dirty and tear-stained to see a boy limping toward her.

It is the regiment drummer boy.

He is still holding his shattered drum and his drumsticks.

The drummer boy calls out, sounding delirious.

“Mama!  Mama!”

He drops his broken drum and his drumsticks.

He lurches to the startled girl.

She sees that the drummer boy’s eyes and face are all smeared with dirt and blood.

He starts crying in relief.


The nurse helper holds her ground.

She is hardened from what she has been seeing all day.

Stiffly, she lets the boy embrace her.

The drummer boy starts kissing her face.

“Oh, Mama, you came for me!”

The drummer boy suddenly slumps toward the ground.

He tries to hold on to the girl’s shoulders.

The nurse helper kneels helping the boy sit.

The girl musters her soothing voice.

“You are safe.  You are alright.  Sit easy.  I’ll get a doctor.”

The boy cries out.

“Don’t leave me, Mama.”

The girl kisses the boy repeatedly.

“I’m here.  I’m here.  You’re alright.  I’m just callin’ a doctor”.

The wounded, shaking drummer boy won’t let go of the girl.

Suddenly another girl appears from the smoke.

She is like a apparition, all dressed proper like visiting her neighbors.

She sees the other two and she stumbles over the broken woodland toward them.

She calls out.

“I been hearin the battle from town.  My brother was in the fight.  Have you seen my brother Dalton?”

The nurse helper looks up at the apparition and she says.

“I surely hope I have not this day, miss.”

The apparition asks politely.

“I beg your pardon?”

Then the nurse helper says to the apparition.

“I am sorry.  I hope your brother is alright.  Here, miss.  Help me comfort this wounded boy while I get a doctor.  Then I’ll try to recollect your brother.  Please, miss.”

The apparition stands above the nurse helper and the drummer boy.

The apparition she kneels.

The nurse helper then says to the boy.

“My helper is here.  I’m comin’ back with the doctor.”

The boy says real weak.


The apparition takes hold of the boy. She says.

“I’m here.”

The wounded boy opens his eyes wide.

He cries out.

“Sis?  Is it you?  Did you come for me, too?”

The apparition suddenly cries out.

“Dalton?  Dalton!  I have found you!”

The boy throws his arms around his sister’s neck.

They kiss and kiss.

The nurse helper is wide-eyed.

“This is your brother!  Oh, my Lord.  A miracle!”

In amazement the nurse helper is kissing them both.

“A miracle this day!”

Suddenly the boy slumps still.

The apparition cries out.

“Dalton!  Dalton!”

The apparition kisses the lifeless boy desperate like.

The nurse helper covers her mouth.

Then the nurse helper stands slowly and then she looks down at the brother and sister holding each other.

From the tent she hears the doctor calling impatiently for the nurse helper.

The nurse helper turns slowly and picks up the dropped sticks of wood for the fire.

She is not realizing that she has picked up the boys drumsticks, for the fire.




        Cheyenne is shakin’ her head real slow and she pats my dog Dulcinea.  Cheyenne can see.

        Ruby and Scarlette are wiping their eyes and they are both leanin’ in kissin’ me.








2 thoughts on “A LOVELY TRICK

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