Topdog/Underdog

by

Suzan-Lori Parks

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Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of Topdog/Underdog published in 2001.
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Scene One Quotes

Watch me close watch me close now: who-see-thuh-red-card-who-see-thuh-red-card? I-see-thuh-red-card. Thuh-red-card-is-thuh-winner. Pick-thuh-red-card-you-pick-uh-winner. Pick-uh-black-card-you-pick-uh-loser. Theres-thuh-loser-, yeah, theres-thuh-black-card, theres-thuh-other-loser-and-theres-thuh-red-card, thuh-winner.

[…]

You wanna bet? 500 dollars? Shoot. You musta been watching 3-Card real close. Ok. Lay the cash in my hand cause 3-Cards thuh man. Thank you, mister. This card you say?

(Rest)

Wrong! Sucker! Fool! Asshole! Bastard! I bet yr daddy heard how stupid you was and drank himself to death just cause he didnt wanna have nothing to do witchu! I bet yr mama seen you when you was born and she wished she was dead, sucker! Ha Ha Ha! And 3-Card, once again, wins all thuh money!!

Related Characters: Booth (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

I got her this ring today. Diamond. Well, diamond-esque, but it looks just as good as the real thing. Asked her what size she wore. She say 7 so I go boost a 6 and a half, right? Show it to her and she loves it and I shove it on her finger and its a tight fit right, so she cant just take it off on a whim, like she did the last one I gave her. Smooth, right?

Related Characters: Booth (speaker), Lincoln, Grace
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

She was putting her stuff in bags. She had all them nice suitcases but she was putting her stuff in bags.

(Rest)

Packing up her shit. She told me to look out for you. I told her I was the little brother and the big brother should look out after the little brother. She just said it again. That I should look out for you. Yeah. So who gonna look out for me. Not like you care. Here I am interested in an economic opportunity, willing to work hard, willing to take risks and all you can say you shiteating motherfucking pathetic limpdick uncle tom, all you can tell me is how you dont do more what I be wanting to do. Here I am trying to earn a living and you standing in my way. YOU STANDING IN MY WAY, LINK!

Related Characters: Booth (speaker), Lincoln
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Lincoln
I cant be hustling no more, bro.

Booth
What you do all day aint no hustle?

Lincoln
Its honest work.

Booth
Dressing up like some crackerass white man, some dead president and letting people shoot at you sounds like a hustle to me.

Lincoln
People know the real deal. When people know the real deal it aint a hustle.

Booth
We do the card game people will know the real deal. Sometimes we will win sometimes they will win. They fast they win, we faster we win.

Related Characters: Lincoln (speaker), Booth (speaker)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Two Quotes

Lincoln
They say the clothes make the man. All day long I wear that getup. But that dont make me who I am. Old black coat not even real old just fake old. Its got worn spots on the elbows, little raggedy places thatll break through into holes before the winters out. Shiny strips around the cuffs and the collar. Dust from the cap guns on the left shoulder where they shoot him, where they shoot me I should say but I never feel like they shooting me. The fella who had the gig before I had it wore the same coat. When I got the job they had the getup hanging there waiting for me. Said thuh fella before me just took it off one day and never came back.

(Rest)

Remember how Dads clothes used to hang in the closet?

Booth
Until you took em outside and burned em.

Related Characters: Lincoln (speaker), Booth (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Abraham Lincoln Costume
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Three Quotes

Grace Grace Grace. Grace. She wants me back. She wants me back so bad she wiped her hand over the past where we wasnt together just so she could say we aint never been apart. She wiped her hand over our breakup. She wiped her hand over her childhood, her childhood years, her first boyfriend, just so she could say that she been mine since the dawn of time.

Related Characters: Booth (speaker), Lincoln, Grace
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

Im hot. I need constant sexual release. If I wasnt taking care of myself by myself I would be out there running around on thuh town which costs cash that I dont have so I would be doing worse: I’d be out there doing who knows what, shooting people and shit. Out of a need for unresolved sexual release. I’m a hot man. I aint apologizing for it. When I dont got a woman, I gotta make do. Not like you, Link. When you dont got a woman you just sit there. Letting yr shit fester. Yr dick, if it aint falled off yet, is hanging there between yr legs, little whiteface shriveled-up blank-shooting grub worm. As goes thuh man so goes thuh mans dick. Thats what I say. Least my shits intact.

(Rest)

You a limp dick jealous whiteface motherfucker whose wife dumped him cause he couldnt get it up and she told me so. Came crawling to me cause she needed a man.

(Rest)

I gave it to Grace good tonight. So goodnight.

Related Characters: Booth (speaker), Lincoln, Grace
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

Its pretty dark. To keep thuh illusion of thuh whole thing.

(Rest)

But on thuh wall opposite where I sit theres a little electrical box, like a fuse box. Silver metal. Its got uh dent in it like somebody hit it with they fist. Big old dent so everything reflected in it gets reflected upside down. Like yr looking in uh spoon. And thats where I can see em. The assassins.

(Rest)

Not behind me yet but I can hear him coming. Coming in with his gun in hand, thuh gun he already picked out up front when he paid his fare. Coming on in. But not behind me yet. His dress shoes making too much noise on the carpet, the carpets too thin, Boss should get a new one but hes cheap. Not behind me yet. Not behind me yet. Cheap lightbulb just above my head.

(Rest)

And there he is. Standing behind me. Standing in position. Standing upside down. Theres some feet shapes on the floor so he knows just where he oughta stand. So he wont miss. Thuh gun is always cold. Winter or summer thuh gun is always cold. And when the gun touches me he can feel that Im warm and he knows Im alive. And if Im alive then he can shoot me dead. And for a minute, with him hanging back there behind me, its real. Me looking at him upside down and him looking at me looking like Lincoln. Then he shoots.

Related Characters: Lincoln (speaker), Booth
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

I slump down and close my eyes. And he goes out thuh other way. More come in. Uh whole day full. Bunches of kids, little good for nothings, in they school uniforms. Businessmen smelling like two for one martinis. Tourists in they theme park t-shirts trying to catch it on film. Housewives with they mouths closed tight, shooting more than once.

(Rest)

They all get so into it. I do my best for them. And now they talk bout cutting me, replacing me with uh wax dummy.

Related Characters: Lincoln (speaker), Booth
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

People are funny about they Lincoln shit. Its historical. People like they historical shit a certain way. They like it to unfold the way they folded it up. Neatly like a book. Not raggedy and bloody and screaming. You trying to get me fired.

Related Characters: Lincoln (speaker), Booth
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Five Quotes

I think there was something out there that they liked more than they liked us and for years they was struggling against moving towards that more liked something. Each of them had a special something that they was struggling against. Moms had hers. Pops had his. And they was struggling. We moved out of that nasty apartment into a house. A whole house. It werent perfect but it was a house and theyd bought it and they brought us there and everything we owned, figuring we could be a family in that house and them things, them two separate things each of them was struggling against, would just leave them be. Them things would see thuh house and be impressed and just leave them be.

Related Characters: Lincoln (speaker), Booth
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Six Quotes

All she knew was you couldnt get it up. You couldnt get it up with her so in her head you was tired of her and had gone out to screw somebody new and this time maybe werent never coming back.

(Rest)

She had me pour her a drink or 2. I didnt want to. She wanted to get back at you by having some fun of her own and when I told her to go out and have it, she said she wanted to have her fun right here. With me.

(Rest)

And then, just like that, she changed her mind.

(Rest)

But she’d hooked me. That bad part of me that I fight down everyday. You beat yrs down and it stays there dead but mine keeps coming up for another round. And the bad part of me took her clothing off and carried her into thuh bed and had her, Link, yr Cookie. It wasnt just thuh bad part of me it was all of me, man, I had her. Yr damn wife. Right in that bed.

Related Characters: Booth (speaker), Lincoln, Cookie
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

And ooooh you certainly was persistent. But you was in such a hurry to learn thuh last move that you didnt bother to learning thuh first one. That was yr mistake. Cause its thuh first move that separates thuh Player from thuh Played. And thuh first move is to know that there aint no winning. Taadaaa! It may look like you got a chance but the only time you pick right is when thuh man lets you. And when its thuh real deal, when its thuh real fucking deal, bro, and thuh moneys on thuh line, thats when thuh man wont want you picking right. He will want you picking wrong so he will make you pick wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Ooooh, you thought you was finally happening, didnt you? You thought yr ship had come in or some shit, huh? Thought you was uh Player. But I played you, bro.

Related Characters: Lincoln (speaker), Booth
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:
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