Zachariah's white pen pal is coming to town on holiday and wants to
Ma. Ma! Mother! Hullo. How are you, old woman? What’s that? You don’t recognize me? Well, well, well. Take a guess (Shakes his head.) No. (Shakes his head.) No. Try again (Shakes his head.) What’s the matter with you, Ma? Don’t you recognize your own son? (Shakes his head violently.) No, no! Not him! It’s me, Zach! (Sweeps off the hat to show his face.) Ja. Zach! Didn’t think I could do it, did you? Well, to tell you the truth, the whole truth so help me God, I got sick of myself and made a change. Him? At home, Ma. Ja. A lonely boy, as you say. A sad story, as I will tell you. He went on the road, Ma, but strange to say, he came back quite white. No tan at all. I don’t recognize him no more. (He sits.) I’ll ask you again, how are you, old woman? I see some signs of wear and tear. (Nodding his head.) That’s true . . . such sorrow . . . tomorrow . . . . Ja . . . it’s cruel . . . it’s callous . . . and your feet as well? Still a bad fit in the shoe? Ai ai ai! Me? (Pause. He struggles.) There’s something I need to know, Ma. You see, we been talking, me and him . . . ja, I talk to him, he says it helps . . . and now we got to know. Whose mother were you really? At the bottom of your heart, where your blood is red with pain, tell me, whom did you really love? No evil feelings, Ma, but, I mean, a man’s got to know. You see, he’s been such a burden as a brother. (Agitation.) Don’t be dumb! Don’t cry! It was just a question! Look! I brought you a present, old soul. (Holds out a hand with the fingers lightly closed.) It’s a butterfly. A real beauty butterfly. We were traveling fast, Ma. We hit them at ninety . . . a whole flock. But one was still alive, and made me think of . . . Mother . . . . So I caught it, myself, for you, remembering what I caught from you. This, old Ma of mine, is gratitude for you, and it proves it, doesn’t it? Some things are only skin-deep, because I got it, here in my hand, I got beauty . . . too . . . haven’t I?