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Tommy L Thomas

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No Bread on the Table
4/15/2009 5:25:25 AM
What is worse, "No Bread on the Table" or the loss of a family member to eat it when it it there?
No Bread on the Table

Screenplay
Copyright © 2009
By Tommy L. Thomas

Opening Scene

“The Sermon”

Pulpit at Church, Preaching

Pastor Elijah Jennings

Standing with his hands upraised, he indicates his sermon is entitled, “One Step Closer to Hell.”

“We live in sin where mankind would rather enjoy the vices of the flesh, lying, stealing, gambling, fornicating, murdering, cheating on mates and spending their money on intoxicating liquors rather than giving glory to God.”

Pausing: Looking intensely at his audience, pacing from one side to the next, continues:

“Just the other day it was made known that one of our sisters ha ran away with a street thug, a pimp, a thug from hell sent to break up a good Christian home, destroyed Brother Jackson with his wicked devices and carrying away of a sister to a life of debauchery.”

Intensely looking at his audience to see what impact it had, starts anew:

“Yes, this move has taken our sister one step closer to hell!”

Hawing and moaning, wiping sweat:

“Our children has taken to the streets messing with dope, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and all manner on new dope trying to find what they think will make them feel good. Yes, make them feel good for the Devil to carry out his work, going out there doing all kinds of things to innocent people without any remorse. Yes, they have taken one step closer to hell.”



Walking closer to the end of the pulpit, pointing:

“A few days ago, a man walked up to one of our older sister snatching her purse, shooting her to death at point blank range over $10 in her purse. Yes, this man is one step closer to hell. God and his principles of the Bible has been discarded for the so-called wisdom of men, who has been misled by the supposedly wise who themselves are misled by new intellectuals. They have formed councils amongst themselves asserting they are wise bring those who follow and themselves to damnation and destruction, which can only mean they are one step closer to hell.”

Pointing at the audience, sweating with spittle running from the corner of his mouth:

“All you sinners and backsliders, get right with God, remove yourself from the wicked generation who is headed straight toward hell. Show how you feel about The Lord by your generosity as we sing hymn 22, “Make Straight Your Path.”

Procession out of Church:

The Jenkins family leaves the Services feeling good. “I hope each and everyone of you got the message from that fine Sermon. We will discuss it when we get home.”

























ACT II
“The Stranger”

Husband, Wife, and Children arrives home from Service; stopping in the yard.

Husband (James)
“That was a wonderful sermon we heard from Pastor Elijah Jennings and it brings to mind that the Devil is busy and we need to be on guard and keep our faith strong.”

Wife (Danielle)
“That is so true, like so many during biblical times who fell away because they lost faith and were swept away by foolish thinking and materialism, like Lots wife who looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt longing for the things she left behind in Sodom and Gomorrah. Many today think that because of what they possess will make them closer to God. Did you see how those sisters were dressed in those expensive clothes like they were preparing for Tara Banks modeling show, especially sister Davis who was prancing up front for all to see her. Her carrying on was a shame.”


Husband (James)
“I agree with you. With the brothers eyes on her as she was shaking her booty, they were just like that preacher said she was taking them “One Step Closer to Hell.”

Teenage Daughter (Alberta)
“Momma, daddy, who is that man over there looking at us?”

A stranger is seen approaching them as if appearing out of thin air:

Stranger, scar-faced, cruel looking
“Danielle, I’ve come to see our child, Alberta and take her with me for a while.”

Husband (James)
“How are you my brother, may I help you?”

Stranger
“Naw, I don’t need no help, do I look like I need any help?”

Husband (James)
“Sir, you’re at my home practically blocking my entrance, I suggest you give me access to my residence.”

Stranger
“I’ll move when I am ready, I’m here to see my daughter and I am not ready.”

Scene Shifts to Danielle and Alberta shivering near the door:

Husband (James)
“Your daughter, who may she be may I ask?”

Stranger
“Man don’t give me no bull, I ain’t here for this mess. I’m here to see my daughter, the one standing next to Danielle.”

Danielle and Alberta looking perplexed:
Danielle heard what was said developing a look of fear with her head looking down that tore at John’s soul prompting him to walk to her putting his arms around her shoulders for comfort with Alberta sandwiched between them.

Husband (James)
“Honey, what is wrong? Do you know the character in the walkway?”

Wife (Danielle)
“I know of him but not acquainted.”

Husband (James)
“He says Alberta is his daughter is that true?”


Wife (Danielle)
“According to the doctors who ran test it is true. Any other way I could not tell you. I have to relate a long story and it must be told somewhere else not here at this moment.”

Husband (James)
“Maybe you can tell me the whole story after we get this straightened with him.”

James walks back near the stranger:

Husband (James)
“Mister I just talked with my wife about Alberta being your daughter and she did not deny it, but I cannot let you a stranger with no documents or whatever come take our family member away because you decided to.”

Stranger
“Then I’ll have to take her by force.”
Husband (James)
“That is not necessary, sir, you can get the proper documents from court granting you all the privileges to see her and when that is done we will comply to the court’s decree.”

Stranger
“I don’t need any damn court. I’ll hold court right here if necessary!”


Husband (James)
“We don’t need all that?”

Stranger
“You don’t tell me what I need! I’m telling you what I want!”

Both men advance both nose to nose staring each other down:

Stranger shoves past James headed for Alberta and Danielle. John grabs his arm and spins him around:
Stranger
“What the hell!?”

Husband (James)
“To get to them you’ll have to come through me!”

Stranger
“That can be arranged. Who do you think you are M*********? I speak with her whenever I please. Danielle, come over here and bring Alberta with you!”

Fear is on Danielle and Alberta’s face undecided what to do:

Husband (James)
“Sir, I don’t know what your problem is but we want no trouble with you. We’ve just left Church and want to spend a quiet evening in peace.”

Stranger
“You can have peace when I am finished. Danielle, come here like I said!”

Husband (James)
“Listen buddy, I’ve tried everything except kiss your behind. I am tire of this and we need to put an end to it right now.”

Stranger
“What are you saying, you want to whip my Behind. Bring it on, I’ve been want to whip somebody’s Behind all day.”

Scene show Stranger throwing a punch at James who takes it and lets the stranger know:

Husband (James)
“You need to bring Christ into your life. When a man comes home from Service, it is not nice to bother him when he is full of Holy Spirit, God does not like that. When will you low life scum recognize there is no future in messing with a Child of God? I do not believe in violence but you need to understand that ‘You reap what you sow,’” as he threw a right cross that broke the man’s jaw as he was knocked out before he hit the ground because Brother James was a He-man.

Wife (Danielle)
“Honey, I am calling 911. It seems like the preacher’s sermon was correct that there are those who are being used by the Devil taking them one step closer to hell. This stranger should have heard that sermon, maybe he would not be in the position he is right now.”

Scene closes with all three looking down at the Stranger who has temporarily found peace being knocked out; one step closer to hell.



















ACT III

“No Bread on the Table”

Scene opens with James and Danielle preparing dinner:

Danielle is bringing the last platter of chicken to the table full of good things to eat:

James
“It is a blessing from God, whose name is Yahweh, that he has provided this wonderful evening meal. Isn’t Jesus wonderful in that he is making way for this earth to be a paradise where there will be no one asking for bread on the table.”

Danielle
“Yes, it will be a glorious time when paradise will see no more growling and bloated stomachs from hunger.”

James
“Where are all the children of our wonderful family? Alberta is the only one here, where are the other four? They know to be at the dinner table so we can start on time to share our family feelings.”

Danielle
“Give them a chance. They have another five minutes. I know how punctual you are but we can start with our discussion of why the stranger might have been here.”

James
“Yes, I would really like to know for it seems there is something you have not told me.”

Scene shows Danielle seating herself at the table with John and Alberta:

Danielle
“There is a chapter in my life I never told you about that has returned to haunt me. I never thought about it because the person who raped me when I was 17 years old was never found and we as family consented to keep the baby, Alberta, raising her by myself.”

Quietness, shock, concern and helplessness show on the faces of James and Alberta:

Danielle
Crying, James reaches for her:

“That is why I love you so much because you are so loving and full of tenderness. Here I’ve hidden this terrible thing from you and Alberta and you still show how much you care. What can I say but thank you and I love you.”

James
“Anything for my baby for my love flows from a never ending stream. Let’s get ready for dinner by saying a prayer that our troubles will be behind us tomorrow when we check out this fellow at the police department. I hear the children coming and it seem as if they have company.”


































ACT IV
“A Time for Reflection”

Scene opens with three children rushing into kitchen with Uncle Bob and Henrietta behind them. James gives them a stern look as they settle at the table:

James
“I see some of my family has made up their minds to come home for dinner and share in our daily edification over a meal provided by God. It is time to bless our meal and those who are not here will not be part of prayer. Bob and Henrietta, glad you could drop by. Now let us pray:
‘Dear God in Heaven, it is in Jesus’ name that we approach you with thankfulness for this wonderful provision of sharing a meal from your bountiful table. We love you for being so good to us even though we are not worthy you still shower us abundantly with what we have on this table. There are those who have no bread on the table and our hearts feel for their stressful situation. If it is your will, please help those who are unfortunate as we give thanks to you for your graciousness. May your name be praised and magnified forever forgiving us for our sins. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.’”

Danielle
“Honey, that was a heartfelt prayer. God is good. Do any of you happen to know the whereabouts of Keisha? She has been acting strange lately, distant and uncaring. I tried to speak with her the other day and she shushed me off like any common street person, not her mom.”

Dorsey
“I do not know where she is but I can guess who she is with. I have been seeing her with Snake; you know the neighborhood Mr. Gangster who can fix it all no matter what your needs are. The last time I saw her today was when she entered his crib like she was out of it.

James
“Who is this Snake and how long has Keisha been messing around with him?”

Dorsey
“I’d say about (5) months since I first saw him, it could have been longer.”

James
“Why didn’t you tell me or mention this at the dinner table when we bare our feelings or what we know that might be detrimental to the family’s strength.”

Dorsey
“Keisha has been at the table. I thought it was appropriate for her to shed her own problems and not me like I am playing my Sister’s Keeper.”

James stands irate:
James
“This is not for Dorsey only but for everyone of you children at this table. You are your brother and sister’s keeper. If one of you are too weak to defend yourselves, it is a must that the other fends for him or her, no matter what pain might come out of the situation for just by doing so it might save a life.”

Danielle
“John, please simmer down. Just hope and pray that Keisha is alright.”

James
“You are right Danielle, but for those who are present, do you have anything you’d like to bring to our attention. Tamara, do you have anything to say?”

Tamara
“Yes, I have this to say concerning what Dad just mentioned. In this day and time, families have moved away from traditions of baring their feeling at the dinner table because of the advent of technologies and fast foods. It is no excuse but a sign of the times has caused families to sever. Not only that, youngsters has been taught by situation comedies on television that parents are old fashion and not keeping up with what’s happening. There are outlandish showing of children addressing their parents like they have somehow been enlightened with greater insight than the parents with total acceptability.”

Mitch
With a looked of enlightenment, interjects:

“Look, we are past Colonial America where people once walked around with Bibles in their hands. Get real, change is here. As much as I respect and love this family, we have to move on. All this crap about shedding how we feel does not add any value at all to what I will be in about two weeks, a criminal lawyer. Who cares about how I feel or how you feel, this is a dog eat dog world and only the strongest survive. God! You talk about God, get real God is dead or not interested in our situation!”

James about to explode, Danielle puts hand on his shoulder::
James
“I didn’t raise you with these values. What makes you think what you have been taught has been outdated because of the times? Did you not know the times we are living in are the ‘Last Days’ and the things going on are rejected by Jesus?”


Bob
“Yeah James, many feel that way because they do not see Jesus here in the flesh thinking he is not present. Many are like what the Apostle Peter said at 2nd Peter, “For YOU know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according t their own desires and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.”

Henrietta
“You know, we hear people constantly talking about how much mankind has progressed. Yes, technologically maybe, but has regressed from God and His ways. As 1 Timothy 3:1-4, the Apostle Paul made it clear why such condition persists. Here in the Bible it reads like this, “However, the inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons, by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, marked in their conscience as with a branding iron, forbidding to marry, commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth.”

Mitch
“This Jesus, Paul, and Peter, when they spoke those words over 2,000 years ago, they were coming from a carpenter, fisherman, and tentmaker not hip to the ways of this new world. They just wanted to keep people ignorant to what an education of new philosophies can do to upgrade mankind. Don’t talk to me about religion, it is just another shackle to keep people in bondage and in the dark.”

Tamara
“Like what Aunt Henrietta said quoting from Apostle Paul. Once again Paul makes it plain that in our time people such as you my dear brother would be saying and doing things and this is what he had to say at 1 Timothy 4:3, “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teachings, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers form themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will turn aside to false stories.”

Alberta
“Mitch, so you think our father and mother is in darkness, huh. If they are in darkness, how come they suffered all these years to bring you up and sacrifice to put your behind through college?”

Mitch grimaces, Dorsey stand up at the table:
Dorsey
“Yeah, and least of all, you were the one who got the fewest whippings when your bad behind did wrong. I took a lot of flack because of you. How can you talk about the enlightenment of education when the educated needs to be educated.”
James raises his hands to stop the argument:
James
“I tell you what. There is a book of poems written by your kinsman and I’d like to have someone read a couple of them. Let me see, hum, how about this one ‘At the Dinner Table.’ Mitch, since you think sitting here discussing our day and activities at the table is old fashioned, how about reading it for he wrote this poem and is well educated and did not think discussions at the dinner table was old fashioned.

Mitch
“”Okay, but like I said, this is for the birds to be wasting time that could be used more constructively. Give me the book so I can read the poem which has little value to me. It reads:

Dinner Table

Many consider it old fashion to sit and talk at supper
This is for old country folks not for those of the city and upper
But let me tell you it was more than a place to dine
It was a time of good cheer as we poured out our hearts without a whine.

The dinner table steaming with all sorts of goodies from cornbread to dinner rolls
Our mouths couldn’t keep from watering from the smell of casseroles
Cold pink lemonade would soon grace our palettes and quench our parched lips
Can’t hardly wait to bring it to our mouths for that first sip.

At the dinner table saying grace to God before we tasted our meal
It was never taken lightly it was a big deal
To be thankful to have a family together and food on the table to eat
It was a wonderful blessing indeed to fellowship at the table we would meet.

It was not only a time to eat our meal
But a time to vent how each and every one of us feel
When all was ready as we passed the plates
If you were not there when grace was said you never ate.

After a couple of times of going hungry it taught you never to be late
You learned never to forsake family values or deal with the hand of fate
Before you left the table you made sure your plate was clean
If you did not finish your meal there would be another scene.

No one left the table until all had eaten their bread
As soon as it was over we all made ready for bed
No late night T.V. or a date sitting on the couch
You can ask sister of the consequences and to this she will vouch.

If your friend is at the dinner table when mealtime is over it is time to leave
To be caught lingering would be shameful and something in which to grieve
You had better get your stuff and start to make track
Some learned a bitter lesson and never came back.

At the dinner table you was taught how to respect
Etiquette; only one person spoke at a time or you experience shipwreck
No disorder or out of place were you my dear chap
Unless you wanted to lose some teeth from Grandma’s backhand slap.

There was no such thing as something hidden at the dinner table
All had to bare their sins and do their duty when able
The hand that did the feeding was given honor and praise
For the hard work as a provider during all their working days.

When mother gave that certain look and father begins to grumble
You had better watch yourself or else get ready to rumble
The dinner table was cleaned before everyone made their way
Thanking God, as they got ready to sleep for another blessed day.


Applauds by member of the family:

Danielle
“That was outstanding Mitch. Do you get the point our kinsman is trying to make? He is referring to his family traditions from ages past. That is why we are so bonded today because we do not follow the standards of modern society who has forsaken the ways of God. Did you know even at this your age when you disrespected and Elder you could still get a whipping? In those times the called it a ‘Whooping.’ It did not matter how old you were it still applied. Here is another poem written by your Grandfather called, ‘Come get your whooping!’ Tamara, would you kindly read it for us?”

Tamara
“Yes mom, I’d love to read it. It goes like this:


Come Get Your Whooping!

Boy, have you been bad Grandma use to say
Even though you knew the answer you lied anyway
Your thoughts were on the whooping you are about to get
Is it going to hurt, you bet?


Which was more painful the whooping or that little talk
Of how it hurt her more even though your behind would sag and you could hardly walk
To make it even worse you were told to go get that switch
If you brought back one too small there was trouble and you’d be whooped without a stitch.

When Grandma whooped and talked at the same time
The urge was to raise your hand in defense and do a Mike Tyson pantomime
But you knew better and bowed to Grandma’s will
To do otherwise you could get maimed or worse killed.

Come get your whooping were words of fear
It didn’t take the police to take you to jail, ‘you hear’
When those words were spoken they were words of dread
They didn’t have to be spoken twice to get it through your head.

What you was told, not asked, you did and not talked back
If you started smelling your musk, upside your head was a smack
If you still wanted to be bad and started to talk
The whooping was twice severe and you hurt so bad you could hardly walk.

Before it was over your thoughts ranged from running away or raising your hand for a hit
After a while those thoughts left as a prayer was uttered that you wouldn’t die before she quit
Lord, Lord, Lord, if I ever live through this I will be nice and good
Come get your whooping had its meaning and is now understood..

Come get your whooping is like and old shoe
Discarded, out of date and completely through
As I look back on the whoopings I got and the disrespect today
It is this rotten fruitage in our children that makes them and we have to pay.

Because of modern laws not to touch your children makes them kill without remorse
Where once if you were bad the remedy was come get your whooping as the daily course
Where once the law of Father stood with respect at his feet
Has been replaced with the Devil creed the law of the street.

They say that getting a whooping is old fashioned, talk to your children if you can
The eternal law of God has been forgotten and replaced by man
When that old fashioned belt whistled a tune to correct
No matter how old you were or how bad you were demanded full respect.

If you rolled your eyes or let out a snort
Twice the fury of Grandma is now to the surface brought
Don’t let her start singing a tune with the strap
When you thought she was almost through she’d give it another twenty laps.
The jailhouse is full of those whose parents shunned, ‘Come get your whooping’
The funeral home is full of little juniors who got shot for in the wrong place they were snooping
Lord, I thank you for Grandma, Momma, and Daddy who did not hold back or were drooping
But stepped forward and did their job when needed and said, “Come get your whooping!”


Everyone is quiet but understands:

James
“You see family, it is all about applying God’s Word in our everyday lives and shunning the wayward ways of the world that is controlled by the Devil. Like the sermon that was preached this morning by Pastor Elijah Jennings, ‘One Step Closer to Hell’, could be literally applied when one follows the footsteps of another other than Jesus Christ.

Phone rings, Danielle pick up:
Danielle
“Hello, this is Danielle.”

911 Dispatcher
“Mam, this call is coming from the 23rd precinct, a murder was committed on Gordon Street and we have someone identified as Keisha. Do you know someone kin to you by that name?”

Danielle drops the phone, James rushes to her:
James
“Danielle, Danielle, what is wrong honey?” As she reaches for the phone and listens to the Dispatcher she shouts, ‘No, oh God no, Keisha could not be dead, she is supposed to be here at the dinner table.”

A knock on the door; a policeman stands with bad new:
Policeman
“I am sorry to relate to you that your daughter was killed in a dope house as it was raided by the narcotics unit. You may view her body at the morgue for identification. We are truly sorry to disrupt your dinner for there is no better occasion to share family values than at the dinner table. Good day to you all. Sorry for your tragedy.

A mournful cast shadows the family
John
“Oh God, forgive me, I should have been more forward with my wayward daughter and it hurts me so to know I will not have to wonder again about her, trying to keep the family together and not think about another mouth to feed if there is whether there will be enough bread on the table. It would be bad when there is no bread on the table, but worse when the one lost very dearly is not here to taste of what is on it. Have mercy Lord Jesus.”

The family shed tears for the loss and understanding found.

Closing dialogue

The situation shows that no matter how modern it becomes; families cannot forsake the laws of God. No matter how intelligent, prominent, or influential; the teachings of morality are not to be forsaken. Many lessons can be learned from what took place by every member of this family and the ultimate step one can take as the sermon mentioned, “One step closer to hell” is an ever constant reality as Keisha found out by her misguidance with those on the streets.


© 2009 Tommy L Thomas





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More Blogs by Tommy L Thomas
•  No Bread on the Table - Wednesday, April 15, 2009  
• The Moment Christ Died - Wednesday, April 08, 2009
• Beyond Ecstacy With Pain - Wednesday, April 08, 2009


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