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EXCLUSIVE - 'Stories My Grandmother Told Me' by Screenwriter Ron Burch

Ron Burch lives in Los Angeles, where he works in film and television. He was an Executive Producer/Showrunner for Dinotrux, a DreamWorks Animation TV show for Netflix, which aired in 2015. His movies include Head Over Heels and Yours, Mine, and Ours and Ferdinand. His plays have been produced and developed by the Adirondack Theatre Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, The Lark, the Public Theatre, the Skylight Theatre and others. His short plays have been published in The Best Ten-Minute Plays anthologies (Smith & Kraus). His short stories have appeared in print and on-line at The Mississippi Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Pear Noir, theNewerYork, Pank, ElevenEleven, and other places; he has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and his first novel, Bliss Inc., was published by BlazeVOX Books in 2010.

Ron is a member of The Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild of America West, ASCAP, the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, the 2014-15 PlayGround Writers Pool and one of the Associate Directors of the Skylight Theatre’s PlayLabs in Los Angeles, CA.

(….so as you can imagine we were pretty excited when this landed in our inbox…enjoy!)

'Stories My Grandmother Told Me'

by Ron Burch


The statue was huge, sitting on its own land, in the middle of the harbor. She ducked under someone’s heavy coat from fear. It was so big, so white, or at least white in the sunlight. She was brown, brown, brown, surrounded by more brown, brown, brown, and this white thing was holding something out toward her. The sun was too bright. She was always afraid of it, not knowing whether it was a light or a club.

Black Hand

At the turn of a century, a Black Hand was chasing a father who was always drunk, he was so drunk, he couldn’t walk sober only drunk. He’d only fall down while he was sober. He was so mean he’d beat his wife until she was dead and then give up a part of his soul, a fraction at a time, to bring her back to life only to do it again. The first time it happened in the park, that part’s below, but he couldn’t understand why there was a Black Hand. He smuggled his family out of Italy, bodies thrown together in a cart, covered by fouled straw. The Black Hand followed them onto the ship where the man and his family escaped into the bowels of the metal, living off hard tack and cold coffee until they arrived at the place. What a big place! The father kissed the ground because he had been a shepherd and preferred the land and would never ride on a boat again. He ran his family through the length of New York City, down into the primal subways where children were separated and screaming commenced and a tiny little girl with brown eyes and dark hair cried as the doors shut her out. The father moved the large family to the west, like standing in the ocean, pushing a raft against the tide, go further in as the family had no idea where in was, but the Black Hand appeared in the subway so they hid to Philadelphia where they touched the cracked bell and the father thought he could fix that easily if he only had a bottle of his favorite. But the Black Hand caught him around the neck in a South Philly alley. The father ran, being drunk he was in his best form, and scooped up his family on the run, carried them all in his arms until they climbed through and around enough cities to finally lose the Black Hand, who was still in the countryside admiring the smell of the mountain laurel and fried cheese, and that’s how they ended up in Ohio.

In the Belly of My Father

On Sundays he sang drunkenly in the park, old arias from forgotten Italian operas, words he couldn’t remember, repeating the same broken phrases until he was hoarse. He had come here for a better life but couldn’t stop dreaming about the old one.

The day he died in the park surrounded by the bursting carnations, the doctors opened him up and found a thousand bottles of wine inside.

The day his knuckles finally scabbed over, the day his hand no longer clenched her shoulder, the day of no longer downturned eyes from the ones who looked like the statue to her, that’s the day she became an American.

Copyright. Ron Burch.

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