Scene 1

(Spotlights rise on UJC in front of a barred window, talking on a desk phone, JONAH and FEY standing at a public phone kiosk in Lafayette Park, and NORMAN, in the same position he was in at the end of Scene 3. NORMAN performs EIGHTH LAW OF REALITY.)

NORMAN: "In a modern technological society, with overkill 50, no man can survive on his own. The narrow perspective of the hunter-soldier-entrepreneur must give way to the extended overview of the non-establishment social thinker." (Turns to observe; spotlight on NORMAN fades out.)

FEY: (On phone) "Well, dear, we're still trying to find you an attorney who cares more about justice than money. Everyone we've contacted just 'doesn't have the time.' Listen, love, I have to go climb a tree -- Jonah will tell you about it. 'Bye!"

(Hands phone to JONAH, and exits.)

JONAH: "Hi. How are you?"

UJC: "Have been better and could be worse."

JONAH: "I'll bet. It's the strangest thing. These attorneys all swear you've been wronged, but no one wants to take on your case! One guy told me, 'This sort of thing happens all the time. If we defended every indigent who was stuck away in St. E's, that's all we'd ever do -- and we'd starve.' And of course Chizzum won't relinquish your Court-paid fee voluntarily. So there you sit, rotting for four months, pickled by drugs ... how are you bearing up?"

UJC: "I could certainly do without their chemicals. I can't see, stand, or think straight. Can't do much but sit around like a zombie."

JONAH: "What kind of 'therapy' do they use -- other than drugs, that is?"

UJC: "What therapy? Mostly we play cards, watch TV, once in a while we have so-called 'group sessions' consisting of training on court procedure to make us 'competent.'"

JONAH: "How do they do that?"

UJC: "They give us a list of questions and the answers to memorize so we can play our parts in court.... What's this about Fey climbing a tree?"

JONAH: "She's disgusted by the lack of interest shown by the press, thinks maybe she can get some attention paid to your plight by doing something radical ... short of violence. So she's 'up a tree till UJC is free!'"

UJC: (Laughs.) "I'm afraid she may get pretty cold before she comes down."

JONAH: "Yeah. If they let her stay. Which is unlikely."

UJC: (Turns to respond to someone speaking to him nearby.) "Time's up? Gotta go, Jonah. I'll try to call tomorrow. Same time."

JONAH: "Sure. Give it a try. Maybe I'll still be around to answer."

UJC: "Why? Are you planning on going someplace?"

JONAH: "Who knows? I may be in there with you!"

(Light fades on JONAH and UJC as it rises on FEY, dressed in a ski suit, wrapped in a blanket, sitting on the branch of the sycamore tree. A hammock hangs from a higher branch. At the base of the tree lean hand-lettered signs which tell UJC's story. SPOOFNER stands under the tree, just beneath reach of a bright blue banner which reads "HELP US FREE UJC -- UJC IS NOT CRAZY!" NORMAN stands in shadows. MONK sits nearby. HESTER, wrapped up again in plastic and looking quite frazzled, is muttering darkly, fidgeting with her bags heaped in the wheelchair, and surreptitiously swigging from a bottle of vodka. Pedestrians gather around the tree and listen to the conversation. A reporter jots notes. A news photographer takes a few flash photos up into the tree, then exits.)

SPOOFNER: "Mrs. Jonah, I've been instructed to inform you that you are under arrest for camping as well as general injury and attachment to a tree."

FEY: (Laughs.) "Yes, indeed, after seven days I'm growing mighty attached to this tree! It's like an old horse.... Tell your 'superiors,' Officer Spoofner, that I'm fully aware of their opinion of my behavior, since you're the fourth official to tell me."

SPOOFNER: "Fine. No hard feelings. Just doing my job."

FEY: "Me, too."

SPOOFNER: (Looks at her solemnly and nods.) "How long are you going to stay up there?"

FEY: "Until UJC is standing at the base of the tree, telling me to come down. Or until you folks come up after me. But in that case either I or the tree may be injured -- not by me, of course -- and I'm sure you don't want to hurt either one of us, do you, Officer Spoofner? In fact, wouldn't you like to develop your character and become a moral human being? Why don't you climb this tree and join me in my protest? You ARE the one who put our friend in a mental institution, after all."

SPOOFNER: "I WHAT? What are you talking about?"

FEY: "UJC, of course."

SPOOFNER: "What do you mean?"

FEY: "Who do you think UJC is? Haven't you been listening? You arrested him nearly five months ago -- he's been locked up with killers and rapists in the criminal ward of St. E's -- near the President's own attempted assassin -- for simply lying on a blanket in front of a sign. Despite all our efforts to get the interest of the press, lawyers, other judges, he's still there, pumped full of Prolixin against his will, declared 'indefinitely incompetent' to stand trial by a judge who's covering up. THAT's why I'm up this tree, Spoofner. Because what happened to UJC COULD happen to me -- and, ultimately, you ... unless we stop them."

SPOOFNER: "Especially if I climb that tree."

FEY: "If enough of us climbed trees maybe they'd stop locking us up! That's what I'd like to see -- every tree in Lafayette Park and Washington, DC full of the homeless, protesting. Can't you see it? They'd NEVER have enough cherry pickers to get us all down! We could hop and run from one tree to the next! Let's all climb for UJC!"

MONK: "Yeah. What could they do? Shoot us?"

(HESTER, who's been fidgeting with her bags, looks up.)

HESTER: "I ain't climbin' no tree -- 'specially for UJC -- he's nuts! And I got better things to do."

MONK: "Why do you say he's nuts?"

HESTER: "Well, the shrinks SAY so. Why else would he be in so long?"

MONK: "You believe THEM? Have you ever TALKED to a shrink?"

HESTER: (Defensively) "Sure. Had a nervous breakdown. Six months they kept me."

MONK: "What makes you think you had a nervous breakdown?"

HESTER: "Well, that's what they CALLED it -- what the hell, what're you grillin' ME for?"

FEY: "He's not grilling you, Hester. Do YOU think you had a nervous breakdown?"

HESTER: "What else would you call it? I couldn't stop cryin'!"

MONK: "Why?"

HESTER: "Nobody would listen to me! At least THEY listened, them shrinks -- when I got to see 'em. Tried to make me think like somebody I'm not, though.... Didn't have much luck at THAT, I'll say!"

MONK: "No? How do you know?"

HESTER: "Leave me alone! Haven't I got enough to worry about, with AC hurtin' again?" (Bursts into tears.) "I'm goin' back down on the grates, warm up with some REAL friends who don't put me through the third degree...." (She loads her bags on the wheelchair and begins to shove it offstage, muttering) "...damn, damn, what'm I gonna do...."

(Pedestrians part to let her through. LUTHER enters and sees HESTER.)

LUTHER: "Hey, Hester, didja see AC? He's lookin' for you -- he spent the night over on the Bernard Baruch bench, middle of the park...."

HESTER: "What? You mean they kicked him out of the hospital only a week after open heart surgery?"

LUTHER: "It sure looks like it."

HESTER: "Where'd they think he was gonna go?" (Excited.) "Show me!"

(They exit together. LAW STUDENT steps forward, addresses FEY in the tree.)

LAW STUDENT: "You've been up there seven days? How do you go to the bathroom?" (Other pedestrians laugh; she blushes.)

FEY: "Discreetly." (More laughter.) "Honestly. Did you know one McDonald's cup of coffee makes two McDonald's cups of urine?"

LAW STUDENT: "You mean you haven't come down ONCE in seven days?"

FEY: "No. I'm under arrest when I do. There's a guard posted 24 hours a day, watching for my descent. A remarkable waste of taxpayer's money, I must say. I have no intention of coming down until our friend is free!"

LAW STUDENT: "Isn't it cold?"

FEY: "It gets brisk. But I don't mind. It's been a spiritual awakening..." (Sounds of ambulance and trucks drown out FEY's voice. Jet flies overhead. She wrinkles her nose, covers her ears, and shouts over the noise.) "...if a little hard on the vocal chords!"

LAW STUDENT: "Look, I'm a law student. I have a professor who takes civil liberties cases. Can you tell me more about this UJC?"

(JONAH enters, a sheaf of papers in hand.)

FEY: "Here's my husband. He can answer your questions. Maybe you can give him some advice on the civil lawsuit he's writing, too. -- Jonah, would you take over for me, please? I'm getting hoarse."

(Starts to climb up to the hammock. REPORTER steps for- ward.)

REPORTER: "Wait. Before you disappear. Are you going to stay up there all winter too?"

FEY: "God willing, I'll stay here as long as necessary."

REPORTER: "Where will you go when you come down?"

FEY: "After jail? Well, hopefully to the home of a gallant friend for a long, soaking bath."

(Crowd is amused. Suddenly a S.W.A.T. team sweeps onstage, wearing camouflage, clutching teargas cartridges in their hands. FEY leaps up, the blanket dropping to the ground as she climbs as high as she can go.)

FEY: "Whoops! Here we go!! HELP US FREE UJC! UJC IS NOT CRAZY!"

(All characters onstage freeze and observe FEY being dragged out of the tree. Her ski suit is ripped as one cop pulls her down. As soon as she has been roughly carried, limp but vocal, offstage, JONAH picks up the blanket and jumps into the tree. SPOOFNER grabs for his leg, but misses.)

SPOOFNER: "MISTER Jonah! YOU can't do that!"


SPOOFNER: "But it's against regulations!"

JONAH: "Not GOD's regulations. HELP US FREE UJC!"

(S.W.A.T. team returns, two climb tree after JONAH, who tosses the blanket over them, twists, nearly falls, but manages to jump agilely to the ground. Remaining S.W.A.T. officer(s) cuff him and drag him offstage. SPOOFNER, MONK, and LAW STUDENT stand looking at each other as other pedestrians nervously disperse.)

SPOOFNER: "Well? Is there anyone else?"

MONK: "Not me. I don't like DC jail. Too many cockroaches." (Exits.)

LAW STUDENT: "I think they're more in need of lawyers right now."

(Exits hurriedly. SPOOFNER is left standing alone onstage; lights fade to spotlight on SPOOFNER, spotlight rises on NORMAN. SPOOFNER looks thoughtfully at the tree, the park, out at the audience toward the White House.)

SPOOFNER: "I wonder.... No. They'd think the pressure cracked me. I'd be right in there with UJC and the rest...." (Looks up at tree.) "...No. I'd lose my job. A job's a job, no matter what you think of it -- gotta pay them bills...." (Starts to pace.) "I WAS naive enough to think by joining the force I could save the world -- once. I would be a 'peace officer' -- defender of the weak." Snorts.) "But what do they have me doing? Putting people in mental institutions for sleeping, off to jail you go for lying on a park bench? Court -- couldn't for the life of me remember what had happened, my first arrest, I was so nervous ... so they sat me down and told me what to say on the stand.... He went to jail...." (Long pause as he paces.) "Oh, he was GUILTY, all right, sure as shit he had the nickle bag of pot ... so I went home and took my girl to a party and ended up smoking some pot myself, and didn't I feel fine...." (pause) "They'll probably try the same thing with me this time, too, if UJC gets to trial, tell me what to say.... I had no idea...." (He shouts at the sky.) "I HAD NO IDEA! ... I'm just a newt in a poisoned pond, and don't even know WHY!!!"

(NORMAN, dressed in ski coat, steps out of the shadows.)

NORMAN: "Hello, Spoofner." (SPOOFNER cocks his head as if to an inner voice.) "How's your spirit, friend?" (SPOOFNER grimaces.) "See any way out?" (SPOOFNER looks up at the tree.)

SPOOFNER: "Yeah. I haven't climbed a tree in years. Wonder if I lost the knack." (Unloads his gun and drops it, pocketing the bullets; rethinks and reholsters the gun, still unloaded; takes off his badge and drops it; grabs the first limb.) "I USED to climb higher than anyone on the block...."

(A brilliant flash of light enguls the stage, then darkness. The face of a laughing child materializes on the screen as SPOOFNER, silhouetted, begins slowly, methodically to climb.)


Peace Park Page | Proposition One