Ben, Don and Raven-Symone at Dinner

Setting: Halloween night, warm and cozy Italian restaurant, candle lit on table. Ben and Don are seated, with glasses of wine. They are both eating pasta, we join mid conversation.

Ben:…and I simply don’t care what he has to say about me, he’s just a puffed up real estate emperor in the nude.
Don: Do you think you can actually win though? Not just against him, but against the lesbian?
Ben: Anything can happen. I mean heck, a Muslim named after a terrorist is president right now. Blacks can do anything.
Don: I’ve been thinking of running for office. I don’t really understand much about the Congressional system though, so I’m aiming for Veep.
Ben, shrugging: I don’t know much about human anatomy but they call me Dr every single day.

Raven-Symone enters and joins them, smiles and hugs all around.

RS: Well guys, it’s been a shitty week.
Don: Do tell.
RS: My girl broke up with me because she felt offended by my stance on black names.
Ben: I wouldn’t exactly call ‘Asgard’ a black name.
Don: Oh come on, you were just being realistic. As an example yourself!
RS, perplexed: What do you mean?
Don: Name me one white person in your income bracket with a hyphen in their first name.

Silence ensues.

Then, RS: Honestly, I get checks based on how many times I get myself or the show mentioned. That doesn’t happen if I don’t cross some eyes and dot some lines.
Don: Ditto! Ha, I know my job. Angry attention is still attention! I bring in numbers and, frankly, make my costars look downright liberal.
Ben: We really should get some credit for the way we’re unifying our people!
Don and RS cringe a bit at the grouping in with black people.

A fourth person approaches the table, a light skinned black man in a clown suit. His face is covered in black paint, an exaggerated red pucker around his mouth. His hair is a used mop, shoes floppy and tattered.

He pulls up the last chair at their table and sits down, smiling at each of them.

After a moment of silence, three voices start at one:

RS: Excuse you –
Don: That seat’s taken –
Ben: I don’t have any cash on me right now!

The stranger grins.

Stranger: I don’t need any cash my brother! And you missy, don’t you get all high yellow and mighty on me – you don’t recognize me?

He spreads his fingers out and wiggles them.
The three look at each other, clue free.

Stranger: I am the Ghost of Minstrels Past. (Theme music plays)

Ben: I don’t believe in ghosts.
GOMP: And yet, like so many things you don’t believe in, here I am.
Don: How did you die?
GOMP: Like all minstrels, alone and ashamed.
RS: Do you hyphenate all those words in your name?
GOMP: No, but thanks for asking.
Don: Why are you here though?
GOMP: It’s Halloween. Every Halloween I offer a few of you another option.
Ben: A few of who?
GOMP : You! Modern day minstrels.
Don: But I don’t sing. And I never do jazz hands in public.
GOMP: Our number includes anyone who benefits from blackness while simultaneously hating blackness.
RS: I don’t identify with blackness at all.
GOMP: Exactly my child of black America, you came from everywhere and nowhere! You emerged from the fractured fourth wall of fictional fame.
Ben: Huh?
GOMP: You don’t love who you are – trust me I remember. None of you even know who you are. There is a place I can take you where you will learn. It is a journey of time jumping along your own ancestral line.
Ben: Do we get to go all the way back to the Arc?
GOMP: Beg pardon?
Ben: All humans alive now trace back to Noah’s Arc.
Don: The white people on the boat with the monkeys? Who you calling a monkey?!
RS: I think you’re confusing your creation mysteries Don.

A moment of silence.

GOMP: I can’t with y’all. And I don’t have to. It’s been unanimously decided by the collective will of your peers. And if an arc is where you came from, that is most certainly where you’ll return.
RS: You can’t just take us! We are beloved unhyphenated-Americans! There will be an uproar!
Ben: I’m the president. Ish.
Don: Can I document this?

An instant later the table is empty, the wavering candle the only hint that something has changed. Black people, dreaming together of minstrels scrubbing their faces with soap, sink into a more restful sleep.

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