ACT IVScene 3
(Spotlight rises on bitterly cold late winter afternoon in
Lafayette Park. A mound of blankets is heaped under the sycamore
tree. MONK, bundled almost unrecognizably, stands watch at three
8' x 8' signs "WANTED, WISDOM AND HONESTY,"
"HELP SAVE THE CHILDREN
INSIST ON A NUCLEAR-FREE WORLD,"
upon which are posted several essays. MONK beats
his hands and paces to keep warm. Enter BO and FEY, also
BO: "Cold, huh?"
FEY: "Reminds me of inauguration day last year.
Pretty brutal for those without enough clothing. We were okay,
though. We hardly noticed the cold. We had such fun seeing the
President's show cancelled. We wrote to ask him if he'd turn
over the half-million dollar parade reviewing stands to the
homeless as a shelter for the winter ... he never replied, of
course. Other than the wrecking crew that came out to tear the
stands down, unused. -- Thanks, Monk, for giving me a chance to
go help Jonah with his typing. We ran into Bo just as we were
leaving to file final papers at District Court. Peaceful?"
MONK: "Sure. It's too cold for any nonsense but
surviving. Hi, Bo. How's housing the houseless?"
BO: "Strenuous. The usual tensions of overworked
people. Plus, of course, we're hungry these days."
MONK: "So how many besides Mitch Snyder are still
fasting for the government to let you rebuild Rat-trap Hotel?"
BO: "Eleven of us."
MONK: "As usual, we only hear about Mitch."
FEY: "Give him credit. He's a great spokesperson.
But we who know how hard the rest of you work appreciate you,
MONK: "You guys got guts, Bo, not eatin' while
you're still cooking and carrying food to 800 people. Think
Mitch'll die fasting this time?"
BO: "It depends on the President ... and Congress."
MONK: "Not much hope there."
BO: "That depends on public opinion."
FEY: "Is the shelter still open?"
FEY: "What happened to the eviction notice the
BO: "Still up. But the residents stayed. All but
two out of 800. And the marshals chickened out after the White
House canned their bazooka-wielding commando leader who had
threatened to blow us disobedient derelicts away. THAT sure got
through to the Christian citizenry! There were church groups
from all over the Washington area forming a human chain around
the shelter to keep the marshals away. Not even this
administration could ignore THAT public opinion poll."
MONK: "Well, this public is gonna go warm himself
at the Yule Log on the Mall."
BO: "Maybe I'll go with you and gawk at the White
House Christmas pageant before heading back to the grind. Did
you see the bastardized slogan mounted above the President's
FEY: "No, I haven't had a chance. What's it say?"
BO: "`PEACE ON EARTH TO ALL MEN OF GOOD WILL'!"
FEY: "What about grouches? Are they to be
MONK: "And what's `good will'? And who decides?
Doesn't the song say `peace on earth and good will toward all
BO: "Good questions.... Monk, where are you
sleeping these bitter nights? Want to help keep folks fed and
housed at 2d and D shelter?"
MONK: "No, thanks. I can't take the clamor. Hate
to see folks starvin' themselves for a five million dollar rat
trap, too. I found a cubbyhole to keep warm in -- back behind
one of the banks. They've covered up most of the grates this
year -- there are big steel gorilla cages locked on."
FEY: "So Hester says."
BO: "Maybe the administration plans to stick the
homeless inside the cages in the next step of assimilation,
rather than help us build a model shelter."
(Enter UJC, two bags slung over his shoulders.)
UJC: "Well, it's goodbye again, dear friends."
MONK: "So you're headin' South, eh, UJC? Off to
UJC: "I sure am, campaigning along the way.
There's another election coming up, and if I have my way the last
one will be thrown out. Not only did the incumbent have me
locked up in a mental institution during the campaign, but we now
have proof that he may not really have been elected! You've
heard about the Miami and Cincinnati VOTESCAMs, of course. Jonah
and Fey published stories in their newspaper."
MONK: "I'm not sure I understood those stories."
FEY: "I wasn't either, so I spent some time this
winter researching the evidence collected over fifteen years by a
pair of renegade journalists who have convinced ME that
media-controlled computers have been robbing us of the vote.
Helped by the League of Women Voters, who were videotaped
punching holes in computer ballots with pencils and tweezers in
Miami and Cincinnati. There's a single computer in Brooklyn, New
York that collects and adds vote counts via computer-to-computer
telephone hookup from all over the country for all federal
elections. That means the President. I found out this single
computer is owned and closely controlled by ABC, CBS, NBC, AP,
and UPI. There's proof if you want to see it."
UJC: "These are the same folks, of course, who
decide which three or four of the several hundred presidential
hopefuls receive media coverage. Now, if they'd implement my
idea of voting by personal computer, maybe we could have a truly
representative electorate. Give 'em the facts and let 'em
choose. My new platform slogan is 'WHY DIE FOR THE VOTE?' I
think I may as well go wait out the end in Florida -- and try to
see if I can't get somebody to listen to my program for averting
disaster. I also thought I'd stow away on the next Challenger
mission to the moon."
(Enter SPOOFNER bundled in street clothes.)
BO: "Undercover duty, I see, Spoofner. What is it
today, narc squad? Surely you don't expect to catch anyone
smokin' in this weather."
SPOOFNER: "I guess your time digging in dumpsters
for CCNV has addled your brain, Bo."
(BO smiles knowingly. SPOOFNER turns to UJC.) UJC: "A harsh penalty, Spoofner. I must say I'm
grateful, though. One of you tree monkeys managed to inspire the
Antioch Law School professor to step in and rescue me from lawyer
Chizzum's inept claws.... Do you want to join my odyssey,
Spoofner? The climate's bound to be better down in Florida."
SPOOFNER: "Thanks anyway. I'm needed here. I'm
opening a 'home for the homeless.' It's enlightening. By the
way, you needn't feel responsible for my current choice of work.
I wasn't fired. I was offered a year's `recuperative' leave --
complete with paid vacation at a 'stress farm.' Something
profound happened to me up in that tree. I quit instead. And
I'm glad. This life agrees with me -- hard on my arthritis ...
but easy on my mind."
"Don't pay any attention. HE knows I've been unemployable as a
cop for a year, now."
LUTHER: "Have you seen Hester?"
MONK: (Nods over at mound of blankets under
"Over there. She came up for air a while ago, asking for Fey,
didn't make much sense otherwise."
LUTHER: "Hey, Bo, have you heard? The President
just okayed the five million dollars for the shelter!"
BO: "Where did you hear that?"
LUTHER: "I stopped by 2nd and D to get my feet
BO: "I leave one day in six months, and darned if I
don't miss the punch line. Great! FOOD! I think I'll go find
out what happened. Want to celebrate with us before you leave,
(UJC assents.) "Spoofner?"
SPOOFNER: "Sure. See you later, folks."
(BO, UJC, MONK and SPOOFNER exit.)
LUTHER: "I'm worried about Hester, Fey. She has a
bum heart. Only thing keeps her goin' is AC needs her. And now
he's in the hospital again -- had another attack yesterday -- not
expected to make it. She's feelin' real bad."
FEY: "Are you bringing her liquor again to make
things worse, Luther?"
LUTHER: "No, Fey, not no more. Not today. Not
yesterday, neither. I been thinkin'. I'm 53 years old. It's
time for me to quit. The way my liver's been treated ... that's
what else's gettin' Hester, her liver kept on drinkin' chemicals,
and Lord if I know which got her, but the ol' gal ain't got much
breath left. I learned a lot out here -- you know that, Fey, I
don't bug you no more, do I?"
(She shakes her head and smiles.)
"I promised AC I'd look after Hester best I can. Gotta keep my
(The mound of blankets stirs, and HESTER sticks her head out
HESTER: "Izzat Fey? I went lookin' for Fey and she
(FEY goes over and squats beside her.)
FEY: "I'm here, dear."
HESTER: "AC? Where's AC?"
(Tries to get up, falls back down, her eyes clear a bit.)
FEY: "In the hospital, Hester."
LUTHER: "You remember, Hester. We went to see him
HESTER: "Oh. Yeah. He looked like death. Be
better off if he was dead, what kind of life do we have? OUR
AGE, we should be sittin' in front of a fire someplace...."
LUTHER: "Do you want to go down to the Yule fire
behind the White House? That'll warm you up, Hester."
HESTER: "You go." (Burrows down under
"AC'll know where to find me, here."
(Enter PARK POLICE ROOKIE, who strolls through the park
observing, walks up to blankets.)
ROOKIE: "Are you all right in there?"
(Radio crackles. One eye peeps out.)
ROOKIE: (Nods, strolls past FEY.) "Keep warm, Mrs. Jonah."
LUTHER: "That's a change!"
FEY: "Yes. Peace Park has become quite civilized
since we filed the lawsuit."
(Enter CHARLES, an ex-NASA astrogeophysicist from New Mexico,
who reads JONAH's essays on the signs with relish. CHARLES
weighs over 300 lbs., is bearded, dressed in overalls and a
ragged coat patched with shiny silver duct tape. A gap-toothed
grin shines beneath keenly intelligent eyes. He approaches
CHARLES: "It looks like I've found a home. Are you
composer of these signs?"
FEY: "Two of them."
CHARLES: "And how about the essays?"
FEY: "Jonah wrote those." (JONAH enters.)
"Oh, great, here he is now."
CHARLES: "I need to meet this man." (Advances on
JONAH, hand outstretched.) "My name is Charles Hyder. I have
an idea for a couple of signs: `MR. PRESIDENT, HISTORY AWAITS
YOU! END WAR! END VIOLENCE! END TYRANNY!' And 'WHAT I OWN
MATTERS NOT; FOR ALL TO LIVE, I'D GIVE THE LOT.' I think I'll
set them up down the sidewalk, eight foot square, if that's all
right with you."
JONAH: "It's a free park." (They shake hands
"You might find your signs outlawed soon, though -- the Interior
Department has written a new regulation due to be enforced any
day now which will restrict us to no more than two four
foottsquare signs per demonstrator..."
CHARLES: "That doesn't allow for much creativity!"
JONAH: "...despite our lawsuit -- but you may as
well go ahead and get some intellectual licks in before the
larger signs are splintered. What's a sign, anyway, but wood and
paint and a piece of your mind? You're welcome here in Peace
Park. Stay as long as you can. People come and go."
CHARLES: "I'm here for the duration -- after I tell
my five grown kids I've found my next anti-holocaust chore. I've
been fighting proposed nuclear waste dump sites for l2 years. I
lost my job with NASA in the process. But we won the battle --
New Mexico salt mines are still radwaste free..."
JONAH: "You're from New Mexico?"
CHARLES: "Land of the gods. I was living in a
state of bliss. But the holocaust kept intruding. So I decided,
dammit, I'd just have to come down off my mountaintop and take
care of the holocaust or I'd never be able to enjoy Nirvana."
"Interesting spot to see out the end.... You call this `Peace
Park'? I thought it was named after General Lafayette."
FEY: "We renamed it last 4th of July and proclaimed
it a nuclear-free zone. Peace Park Hiroshima greeted us by live
radio during the 40th anniversary commemoration of the
Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. Taxi drivers and tour guides call
it Peace Park these days, so I guess we're on the people's map.
The President's men and women call it 'President's Park' - but
since he's never been seen out here we figure our name for it has
more validity than his.... You say you're anti-nuclear. Is that
anti-nuclear power -- or nuclear weapons?"
CHARLES: "Both. They're both just as lethal. Just
as likely to have an accident. You heard about the accident at
Four Mile Island, I assume."
JONAH: "Sure. Heard and read about it. But only
what information the 'free' press has provided. Do you know what
really happened there?"
CHARLES: "I sure do. I'm a solar physicist, but I
keep my nose buried in nuclear issues as a priority...."
"I find it amusing that what saved Four Mile Island from being an
irreversible disaster was an ordinary garden hose."
"The folks at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission don't like me
much.... I keep telling on them.... We're still being lied to
that there will be no more cancer deaths than 'normal' near Four
Mile Island -- but a friend of mine knocked on every door around
the power plant, and there was a recent cancer in almost every
household -- in one, everyone died of cancer! And this only five
years after the accident! Wait till we compare the ratio of
cancers in the Four Mile Island community to those in
non-radiated communities after 30 years. Then there'll be no
room for official denials. I predict."
FEY: "An anti-nuclear physicist. What a handy new
CHARLES: "Well, anti-war physicist would be more
FEY: "But you're opposed to nuclear power."
CHARLES: "Oh, sure, absolutely, as long as there's
nuclear waste. Of course, it's not impossible that scientists
will one day find a way to make radioactive wastes harmless. If
a method can be found to use nuclear energy with l00% efficiency
-- no radioactive waste to contend with -- I'd be all for nuclear
power. But as yet there is no safe nuclear waste disposal
system. Therefore all reactors should be shut down -- before
they melt down. For years I've predicted meltdown was only a
matter of time. There are too many reactors with poor safety
histories and ripe for disaster. Don't believe 'em when they
tell you nuclear power is safe in the good old U.S. of A.!"
(CHARLES turns to JONAH.) "What's the gist of this
lawsuit you mentioned?"
JONAH: "Do you want the full presentation, or a
CHARLES: "Nutshell first."
JONAH: (Pulls a paper out of his thick
"'Conspiracy to punish, suppress or terminate political or moral
expression critical of administration policies because of
official opposition to those expressions.'"
CHARLES: "And the full presentation?"
JONAH: (Grins.) "Have you plenty of time?"
CHARLES: "All you can spare."
JONAH: "That's a heady promise."
(He begins pulling sheafs of paper from his briefcase as their
heads bow. Enter STRANGER.)
STRANGER: "You know an old geezer named AC or DC or
something like that?"
(HESTER sits up. LUTHER, who has been tucking HESTER in,
steps forward protectively.)
(HESTER shrieks, clambers out of her blankets and staggers
offstage, eluding the others' hands.)
LUTHER: (Bitterly) "The widow. Will you
watch her stuff, Jonah?"
(JONAH nods. LUTHER grabs one
blanket and runs offstage after HESTER.)
FEY: "How do you know AC died?"
STRANGER: "Well, I heard."
FEY: "WHERE?" (Looks at him sternly as he
"You don't know what you're talking about, do you?"
(He shakes his head and exits. FEY calls offstage after
FEY: "LUTHER! Come BACK!" (Waits, then turns to
"I'm going to go check on AC."
(FEY exits. Lights down, then spotlight rises on HESTER
entering Metro station wringing her hands, moaning.)
HESTER: "AC, AC, what now, AC?"
(Sits leaning against the wall, hugs herself. A METRO COP
enters, stands over her threateningly, taps her on the foot and
gestures with his nightstick that she must leave. She gets up
and limps away; spotlight stays with her, slide/backdrop rises on
"I'm tired, AC. Cold and tired. Used to be I could make it on
my own. But you spoiled me. I was safe with you. I'm so sick
of this life. I don't want to wait."
(Weeps wearily.) "Old Man, I'm comin' home."
(Spotlight rises on opposite side of stage on AC snoring in
hospital bed, tubes extruding from his nose and wrists, a cardiac
monitor blipping. LUTHER enters the alley as FEY enters the
LUTHER: "There you are, Hester. Are you okay?"
(She looks at him blankly.) "Here, the wind will sap the
life right out of you." (Drapes the blanket around her.)
"Lemme take you to Roy Rogers, get you somethin' to eat."
(Blanket slips; HESTER still doesn't answer. LUTHER tucks
blanket in closely.)
"Well, I'll just sit with you here, then, for a while."
(LUTHER wraps his arms around HESTER. Meantime Nurse (Nu) enters, checks AC's pulse, reads the monitor, nods
her satisfaction, motions FEY to leave.)
NURSE: (Whispers.) "It looks like he might make it after
(FEY hurries out. LUTHER's head nods, dips down on HESTER's
shoulder. She jumps once, then sags. AC starts, lifts his head,
the cardiac monitor speeds. Head drops back.
METRO COP enters alley and stands for a moment over HESTER
and LUTHER, then raps the wall. LUTHER sits up, startled.
HESTER doesn't move.)
METRO COP: "Wake up!" (No movement.)
(No movement. He shakes her. She slowly topples over. AC
stirs, lifts his head again. He and LUTHER simultaneously speak)
LUTHER & AC: "Hester?...."
(METRO COP feels her pulse, calls for backup.)
LUTHER: (Bewildered, tears welling.) "She didn't even let me know she died." (Cries.)
(Spotlight down on AC and LUTHER, rises on FEY, sitting alone on a park bench. She blows on her fingers, then writes in her lap.)
FEY: "`Letter to the Editor: A woman died in an
alley two nights ago. This morning I saw your headline: 'BAG
LADY DIES OF EXPOSURE.' Hester was no `bag lady.' She was a
generous and compassionate friend. And though it was cold the
night she died, Hester didn't die of exposure. What Hester died
of was a broken heart.'"
(While FEY's writing, ANNIE enters, stands hesitantly
watching. FEY becomes aware of her presence, looks up.)
FEY: "Annie? ANNIE?"
(FEY jumps up, dropping her papers, which the wind picks
up and blows, and she chases. FEY returns, laughing and
clutching her papers.)
FEY: "My God, I never get over how beautiful you
ANNIE: "Bad genes." (Her mouth quirks in an
FEY: "Do you have a hug in your heart for me,
honey? Or am I too much of a reprobate?"
ANNIE: "A hug? Sure, why not?" (Allows FEY to
hug her, stiffly.)
FEY: (Stung.) "What's happening with you?
Here, let's sit down."
ANNIE: (Allows FEY to
lead her to the bench.)
"Well, since I saw you last I've had five jobs, three apartments,
I've dropped in and out of college, I've sold all the heirlooms,
I'm now unemployed, I'm breaking up with my boyfriend, and lots
more that isn't any of your business. Is that enough?"
FEY: (Stifles a smile.) "So, welcome to the
world you chose!"
ANNIE: "You may think it's funny, but I'm a wreck.
I can hardly stand myself."
FEY: "Good for you."
ANNIE: "What do you MEAN? GOOD for YOU. I should
hate myself? Am I that terrible?"
FEY: "No, honey. It just means that you're in the
middle of some growing pains. They'll pass quicker if you learn
how to forgive."
ANNIE: "Forgive who? You? I'm finding that hard
FEY: "I noticed. No letter for nearly two years."
ANNIE: "You should never have had me. You had no
right to have me unless you wanted me."
FEY: "WANTED you? I WANTED you from the day you
were conceived! No, since the day my mother miscarried when I
was eight years OLD! To me YOU were that long-awaited sister!
Poor kid, I always embarrassed you. Other kids had moms."
(Laughs.) "Remember when we lived together up there in the
north woods, just you, me, and your brother, and I took you to
the jazzercise class, you sedate in your proper adolescent
clothes, but me in tights and ragged cutoffs, a yellow parka and
shocking blue moon boots and you didn't want to be seen with me?
Or how you pretended not to know me in Duluth when your brother
and I skipped down the middle of Main Street in broad daylight?"
(ANNIE nods solemnly.)
"Hey, kid, you could use a sense of humor."
ANNIE: "Well, you were okay as a mom, when you were
there for me. You know," (grows passionate) "...you're
the only person I felt at home with, and there you went, running
away to live on a sidewalk, how can you expect me to feel at home
with you on a sidewalk?"
FEY: (Flinches.) "It was you, you know, who
ANNIE: (Aghast.) "I ran away?"
FEY: "When you left D.C. You could have stayed
here. I asked you to. But you didn't want to. I've often
figured maybe you were ashamed of having a street person for a
ANNIE: "Well, what do you expect? Besides, D.C.'s
FEY: "So you spent $2,000 moving to the beach...."
ANNIE: "It was time to go."
FEY: "And now you wish you were dead because I
don't have a roof to put over your head?"
ANNIE: (Grins sheepishly.) "Well, I suppose
that seems melodramatic." (Pumps up new outrage.) "But
it's my LIFE we're talking about!" (Sweeps her arm
around.) "WHAT do you EXPECT?"
FEY: "Nothing but the finest."
ANNIE: (Grimaces.) "I know."
(They both fall silent. ANNIE's foot taps impatiently on the
ground as she looks out at the White House; FEY watches ANNIE's
hands twisting in her lap.)
FEY: (Sighs.) "And you? Where do you go
ANNIE: "Well, that's really what I came to tell
you. I've joined the Navy."
FEY: "The Navy."
(ANNIE looks at her defensively as FEY thinks a long
FEY: "Okay.... But what if you have to kill?"
ANNIE: "I won't. I'm a girl."
FEY: "What if that changes? It's easy to kill
these days -- a push of a button, a video game."
ANNIE: (Rises irritably.) "I'll deal with
that. Meantime I travel for six years, get trained, and Uncle
Sam takes care of me."
FEY: (Remains seated. Thinks a moment.)
"Well, we all have to learn our own way. This is bound to be
"Let me know what you find out, okay? And ... Annie?"
FEY: "Thanks for telling me."
ANNIE: "Sure." (ANNIE turns away, toward
audience.) "This is torture. I'd better get out of here
before I fall apart."
FEY: (Stands up. Turns toward audience.)
"This is torture. Such distance. So unnatural. Unnatural?
I'll figure it out after she's gone." (They turn, bump into
and grab each other.)
"Please, Annie, thaw ... or go ... I pray ... before I fall
apart." (They hug clumsily.)
ANNIE: "I have to go!"
FEY: "You do? I know."
(ANNIE pulls back and walks away, her back stiff and straight.
FEY watches her, hand unfolded, until just before ANNIE
FEY: "I love you!"
ANNIE: (Pauses, looks back over her shoulder and
nods once, lips pressed firmly together.)
"I love you too. But why does love have to hurt so bad?"
(She turns and exits.)
Peace Park Page | Proposition One