Short Eyes

A Play

Miguel Pinero

Hill and Wang

Short Eyes
ACT ONE
Dayroom in the House of Detention. Upstage right is entrance gate. Upstage left is gate leading to shower room and slop sink. Upstage center is a toilet and drinking fountain. Above is a catwalk. Stage left is a table and chairs. Downstage right is a garbage can. Upstage right is a TV set on a stand. Early-morning lock-in after the morning meal.
 
Early-morning light.
 
INMATES' VOICES can be heard: various ad-libs, calling out to each other, asking questions, exchanging prison gossip, etc.
 
 
MORRISON
 
All right, listen up ... I said listen up.
(Whistle)
When I call your names, give me your cell location.
(Catcalls)
Off the fucking noise. Now if I have to call out your name more than once, pray--cause your soul may belong to God, but your ass is mine.
(More catcalls. House lights go out) Williams, D.
 
VOICE RESPONSE
Upper D 14.
 
MORRISON
Homer, J.
 
VOICE RESPONSE
Lower D 7.
 
MORRISON
Stone, F.
 
VOICE RESPONSE
Lower D 5.
 
MORRISON
Miller, G.
 
VOICE RESPONSE
Upper D 3.
 
MORRISON
Lockout for criminal court ...
(Whistle)
"A" side dayroom. All right, already! ... knock it off.
Supreme Court.
(Whistle)
Johnson.
 
INMATE VOICE
Who?
 
MORRISON
Johnson.
 
TWO INMATE VOICES
Who?
 
MORRISON
Johnson.
 
A LOT OF VOICES
Who? ... who? ... who? ... who? ...
 
MORRISON
Aw, come on, fellas, give me a break.
 
INMATE VOICE
Your brains may belong to the state, but your sanity belongs to me.
 
INMATE VOICE
Aw, come on, fellas, give the fella a break.
 
INMATE VOICE
Break ...
(Bronx cheer)
 
MORRISON
Johnson.
 
INMATE VOICE
Upper D 15.
 
MORRISON
Corree-a.
 
INMATE VOICE
Can't you say my name right?
(Giving proper pronunciation)
Correa ... Correa ... Correa.
 
MORRISON
You guys go to the "C" side dayroom
(Whistle)
Sing Sing reception center. Gomez, A.
 
VOICE RESPONSE
Lower D 9.
 
MORRISON
Shit-can-do.
(Catcalls)
 
VOICE RESPONSE
Scicando ... Lower D 11.
 
MORRISON
Bring all your personal belongings and go to the "B" side dayroom.
(Catcalls)
All right, you guys want to play games, you guys don't let up that noise, you guys ain't locking out this morning.
 
INMATE VOICE
You got it.
(Ad-libs continue until OMAR speaks)
 
ICE
Fuck you, sucker.
(Silence. Sound of prison gate opening is heard)
 
MORRISON
(Whistle--dayroom lights come on)
All right, on the lockout.
(Enter OMAR, LONGSHOE, EL RAHEEM, PACO, and ICE. Each runs toward his respective position. Ad-libs.
Then JUAN walks slowly toward his position.
CUPCAKES is the last to come in. The MEN accompany him with simple scat singing to the tune of "The Stripper." Ad-libs)
 
JUAN
Why don't you cut that loose? Man, don't you think that kid get tired of hearing that every morning?
 
PACO
Oh, man, we just jiving.
 
ICE
Hey, Cupcake, you ain't got no plexes behind that, do you?
 
CUPCAKES
I mean ... like no ... but ...
 
PACO
You see, Juan, Cupcake don't mind.
 
CUPCAKES
No, really, Juan. Like I don't mind ... But that doesn't mean that I like to listen to it. I mean ... like ... hey ... I call you guys by your name. Why don't you call me by mine? My name ain't Cupcakes, it's Julio.
 
EL RAHEEM
If you would acknowledge that you are God, your namewouldn't be Cupcake or Julio or anything else. You would be Dahoo.
 
LONGSHOE
Already! Can't you spare us that shit early in the a.m.?
 
EL RAHEEM
No ... one ... is ... talking ... to ... you ... Yacoub.
 
LONGSHOE
The name is Longshoe Charlie Murphy ... Mister Murphy to you.
 
EL RAHEEM
Yacoub ... maker and creator of the devil ... swine merchant. Your time is near at hand. Fuck around and your time will be now. Soon all devils' heads will roll and now rivers shall flow through the city--created by the blood of Whitey ... Devil ... beast.
 
OMAR
Salaam Alaikum.
 
PACO
Salami with bacons.
 
ICE
Power to the people.
 
LONGSHOE
Free the Watergate 500.
 
JUAN
Pa'lante.
 
CUPCAKES
Tippecanoe and Tyler too.
 
PACO
(On table, overly feminine)
A la lucha ... a la lucha ... que somo mucha ...
 
OMAR
Hey! Hey ... you know the Panthers say "Power to the people."
 
MR. NETT
On the gate.
 
OMAR
(Strong voice)
Power to the people. And gay liberators say ...
(High voice, limp wrist in fist)
Power to the people.
(Enter NETT)
 
MR. NETT
How about police power?
 
JUAN
How about it? Oink, oink.
 
MR. NETT
Wise guy. Paco, you got a counsel visit.
 
PACO
Vaya.
 
OMAR
Mr. Nett?
 
MR. NETT
Yeah, what is it?
 
OMAR
Mr. Nett, you know like I've been here over ten months--and I'd like to know why I can't get on the help. Like I've asked a dozen times ... and guys that just come in are shot over me ... and I get shot down ... Like why? Have I done something to you? Is there something about me that you don't like?
 
MR. NETT
 
Why, no. I don't have anything against you. But since you ask me I'll tell you. One is that when you first came in here you had the clap.
 
OMAR
But I don't have it any more. That was ten months ago.
 
MR. NETT
How many fights have you had since the first day you came on the floor?
 
OMAR
But I haven't had a fight in a long time.
 
MR. NETT
How many?
 
OMAR
Seven.
 
MR. NETT
Seven? Close to ten would be my estimation. No, if I put you on the help, there would be trouble in no time. Now if you give me your word that you won't fight and stay cool, I'll give it some deep consideration.
 
OMAR
I can't give you my word on something like that. You know I don't stand for no lame coming out the side of his neck with me. Not my word ... My word is bond.
 
EL RAHEEM
Bond is life.
 
OMAR
That's why I can't give you my word. My word is my bond. Man in prison ain't got nothing but his word, and he's got to be careful who and how and for what he give it for. But I'll tell you this, I'll try to be cool.
 
MR. NETT
Well, you're honest about it anyway. I'll think it over.
(PACO and MR. NETT exit)
 
EL RAHEEM
Try is a failure.
 
OMAR
Fuck you.
 
EL RAHEEM
Try is a failure. Do.
 
OMAR
Fuck you.
 
EL RAHEEM
Fuck yourself, it's cheaper.
 
CUPCAKES
Hey, Mr. Nett--put on the power.
 
MR. NETT
(From outside the gate)
The power is on.
 
CUPCAKES
The box ain't on.
 
MR. NETT
Might be broken. I'll call the repairman.
 
JUAN
Might as well listen to the radio.
 
ICE
The radio ain't workin' either, Juan. I tried to get BLS a little while ago and got nothin' but static, Jack.
 
CUPCAKES
Anyone wants to play Dirty Hearts? I ain't got no money, but I'll have cigarettes later on this week.
 
OMAR
Money on the wood makes bettin' good.
 
ICE
Right on.
(LONGSHOE gives CUPCAKES cigarettes)
 
JUAN
Hey, Julio.
(Throws CUPCAKES cigarettes.
BROWN appears outside entrance gate)
 
BROWN
On the gate.
(Gate opens and PACO enters. Gate closes and BROWN exits)
 
CUPCAKES
Shit. That was a real fast visit.
 
PACO
Not fast enough.
 
LONGSHOE
What the man say about your case?
 
PACO
The bitch wants me to cop out to a D--she must think my dick is made of sponge rubber. I told her to tell the D.A. to rub the offer on his chest. Not to come to court on my behalf--shit, the bitch must have made a deal with the D.A. on one of her paying customers. Man, if I wait I could get a misdemeanor by my motherfucking self. What the fuck I need with a Legal Aid? Guess who's on the bench?
 
ICE
Who they got out there?
 
PACO
Cop-out Levine.
 
ICE
Wow! He give me a pound for a frown.
 
PACO
First they give me a student, and now a double-crossin' bitch.
 
LONGSHOE
We all got to make a living.
 
PACO
On my expense? No fucking good.
 
EL RAHEEM
You still expect the white man to give you a fair trial in his court? Don't you know what justice really means? Justice ... "just us" ... white folks.
 
PACO
Look here, man. I don't expect nothing from nobody--especially the Yankees. Man, this ain't my first time before them people behind these walls, cause I ain't got the money for bail. And you can bet that it won't be my last time--not as long as I'm poor and Puerto Rican.
 
CUPCAKES
Come on, let's play ... for push-ups.
 
JUAN
How many?
 
CUPCAKES
Ten if you got just one book, fifteen if you got two.
 
PACO
I ain't playing for no goddamn push-ups.
 
ICE
Hey--come on, don't be like that.
 
PACO
Said ain't playing for no push-ups. Tell you what, let's play for coochie-coochies.
 
ICE
What the hell is coochie-coochies?
 
JUAN
It's a game they play in Puerto Rico. You ever see a flick about Hawaii? Them girls with the grass skirts moving their butts dancing? That's coochie-coochies.
 
ICE
I thought that was the hula-jack.
 
PACO
Put your shirt on your hips like this and move your ass. Coochie-coochie-coochie ...
 
CUPCAKES
That's out.
 
PACO
You got a plexes?
 
CUPCAKES
Told you before that I don't have no complexes.
 
JUAN
You got no plexes at all?
 
CUPCAKES
No.
 
JUAN
Then why not let me fuck you?
 
CUPCAKES
That's definitely out.
 
JUAN
People without complexes might as well turn stuff.
 
OMAR
Thinking of joining the ranks? Cruising the tearooms?
 
EL RAHEEM
What kind of black original man talk is that? Cupcakes puts the wisdom before the knowledge because that's his nature. He can't help that. But you are deliberately acting and thinking out of your nature ... thinking like the white devil, Yacoub. Your presence infects the minds of my people like a fever. You, Yacoub, are the bearer of three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine diseases ... corrupt ... evil ... pork-chop-eating brain ...
 
LONGSHOE
Look.
 
EL RAHEEM
Where?
 
LONGSHOE
I'm sick and ...
 
EL RAHEEM
See, brothers, he admits he is sick with corruption.
 
LONGSHOE
Who?
 
EL RAHEEM
You're not only the devil, you're also an owl?
 
LONGSHOE
Why?
 
EL RAHEEM
"Y"--why? Why is "Y" the twenty-fifth letter of the alphabet?
 
LONGSHOE
You ... son of ...
 
EL RAHEEM
You ... me ... they ... them. This ... those ... that ... "U" for the unknown.
 
LONGSHOE
I ... I ...
 
EL RAHEEM
Eye ... I ... Aye ... Aye ... Aiiii ... hi ...
 
LONGSHOE
Games, huh?
 
EL RAHEEM
The way of life is no game. Lame.
 
LONGSHOE
G ... O ... D ... D ... O ... G ... God spelled backward is dog ... dog spelled backward is God ... If Allah is God, Allah is a dog.
 
EL RAHEEM
Allah Akbar.
(Screams, jumps on him)
Allah Akbar.
(MR. NETT and BROWN appear outside entrance gate)
 
MR. NETT
On the gate.
(BROWN opens gate. MR. NETT and BROWN enter. MR. NETT breaks them apart)
 
MR. NETT
What the hell is going on here?
 
OMAR
Mr. Nett, let these two git it off, else we's gonna have mucho static around here.
 
ICE
Yeah ... Mr. Nett ... they got a personality thing going on for weeks.
 
MR. NETT
Fair fight, Murphy?
 
LONGSHOE
That's what I want.
 
MR. NETT
Johnson?
 
EL RAHEEM
El Raheem. Johnson is a slave name.
(Nods)
May your Christian God have mercy on your soul, Yacoub.
(BROWN closes gate.
EL RAHEEM and LONGSHOE square off and begin to fight ... boxing ... some wrestling.
LONGSHOE is knocked clean across the room)
 
LONGSHOE
Guess you say that left hook is Whitey trickology?
 
EL RAHEEM
No, honky, you knocked me down. My sister hits harder than that. She's only eight.
(They wrestle until EL RAHEEM is on top. Then NETT breaks them apart)
 
OMAR
Why didn't you break it up while Whitey was on top?
 
MR. NETT
Listen, why don't you two guys call it quits--ain't none of you really gonna end up the winner ... Give it up ... be friends ... shake hands ... Come, break it up, you both got your shit off ... break it up. Go out and clean yourselves up. Make this the last time I see either of you fighting. On the gate. Next time I turn on the water.
(BROWN and NETT exit, gate closes.
The RICANS go to their table and begin to play on the table as if it were bongos)
 
ICE
You two got it together.
 
EL RAHEEM
I am God ... master and ruler of my universe ... I am always together.
 
OMAR
Let me ask you one question, God.
 
EL RAHEEM
You have permission to ask two.
 
OMAR
Thank you ... If you're God, why are you in jail? God can do anything, right? Melt these walls down, then create a stairway of light to the streets below ... God. If you're God, then you can do these things. If you can't, tell me why God can't do a simple thing like that.
 
EL RAHEEM
I am God ... I am a poor righteous teacher of almighty Allah and by his will I am here to awaken the original lost in these prisons ... Black original man is asleep ... This is your school of self-awareness. Wake up, black man, melt these walls? You ask me, a tangible god, to do an intangible feat? Mysterious intangible gods do mysterious intangible deeds. There is nothing mysterious about me. Tangible gods do tangible deeds.
(PUERTO RICAN GROUP goes back to playing. "Toca, si, va, tocar")
 
CUPCAKES
(On table, M.C.-style)
That's right, ladies and gentlemen ... damas y caballeros ... every night is Latin night at the House of Detention. Tonight for the first time ... direct from his record-breaking counsel visit ... on congas is Paco Pasqual ... yeaaaaaa. With a all-star band ... for your listening enjoyment ... Juan Bobo Otero on timbales ... On mouth organ Charles Murphy ... To show you the latest dancing are Iceman, John Wicker ... and his equally talented partner, Omar Blinker ... yeaaaaaa. While tapping his toes for you all ... moving his head to the rhythm of the band is the mighty El Raheem, yeaaaaaaa. Boooooooo. Yes, brothers and sisters, especially you sisters, don't miss this musical extravaganza. I'll be there, too ... to say hello to all my friends ... So be there ... Don't be the one to say "Gee, I missed it" ... This is your cha-cha jockey, Julio ...
 
ALL
Cupcakes ...
 
CUPCAKES
Mercado ... Be sure to be there ... Catch this act ... this show of shows before they leave on a long extended touring engagement with state ...
(PACO pinches CUPCAKES's ass)
Keep your hands off my ass, man.
(CUPCAKES moves stage left, sits pouting. Ad-libs)
 
PACO
Hey, kid, do one of those prison toasts ...
(They urge him on with various ad-libs)
 
CUPCAKES
All right, dig ... You guys gotta give me background ... Clap your hands and say ... Mambo tu le pop ... It was the night before Christmas ... and all through the pad ... cocaine and heroin was all the cats had. One cat in the corner ... copping a nod ... Another scratching thought he was God ... I jumps on the phone ... and dial with care ... hoping my reefer ... would soon be there ... After a while ... crowding my style ... I ran to the door ... see what's the matter ... And to my surprise ... I saw five police badges ... staring ... glaring in my eyes ... A couple of studs ... starts to get tough, so I ran to the bathroom ... get rid of the stuff ... narc bang ... bang ... but they banged in vain ... cause you see ... what didn't go in my veins went down the drain ... Broke down the door ... knock me to the floor ... and took me away, that's the way I spent my last Christmas Day ... like a dirty dog ... in a dark and dingy cell ... But I didn't care cause I was high as hell ... But I was cool ... I was cool ... I was cool ... You people are the fools ... cream of the top ... cause I got you say something as stupid as Mambo tu le pop.
(GROUP chases CUPCAKES around stage.
BROWN and CLARK DAVIS appear outside entrance gate)
 
BROWN
On the gate.
(Gate opens and CLARK DAVIS enters, goes to stage center. BROWN closes gate and exits)
 
CUPCAKES
Hey, Longshoe ... one of your kin ... look-a-like sin just walked in ...
 
EL RAHEEM
Another devil.
 
LONGSHOE
Hey ... hey, whatdayasay ... My name's Longshoe Charlie Murphy. Call me Longshoe. What's your name?
 
CLARK
Davis ... Clark ... Ah ... Clark Davis ... Clark is my first name.
 
PACO
Clark Kent.
 
CUPCAKES
Mild-mannered, too.
 
OMAR
No, no, Superman.
(Other ad-libs: "Faster than a speeding bullet," etc.)
 
PACO
Oye ... Shoe ... Está bueno ... Pa' rajalo ...
 
LONGSHOE
Back ... back ... boy ... no está bueno ... anyway, no mucho ... como Cupcake.
 
PACO
Vaya.
 
LONGSHOE
Pay them no mind ... crazy spies ... where you locking?
 
CLARK
Upper D 15.
 
LONGSHOE
Siberia, huh? ... Tough.
 
CLARK
First time in the joint.
 
LONGSHOE
Yeah? Well, I better hip you to what's happening fast.
 
ICE
Look out for your homey, Shoe.
 
OMAR
Second.
 
LONGSHOE
Look here, this is our section ... white ... dig? That's the Rican table, you can sit there if they give you permission ... Same goes with the black section.
 
ICE
Say it loud.
 
OMAR
I'm black and proud.
 
ICE
Vaya!
 
LONGSHOE
Most of the fellas are in court. I'm the Don Gee here. Youknow what that mean, right? Good ... Niggers and the spics don't give us honkies much trouble. We're cool half ass. This is a good floor. Dynamite hack on all shifts. Stay away from the black gods ...
(NETT appears outside gate)
 
NETT
On the gate.
 
LONGSHOE
 
You know them when you see them.
(NETT opens gate and enters)
 
NETT
On the chow.
 
ICE
What we got, Mr. Nett?
 
NETT
Baloney à la carte.
 
ICE
Shit, welfare steaks again.
(All exit except CLARK and LONGSHOE. Gate stays open. The men reenter with sandwiches and return to their respective places.
NETT closes gate and exits)
 
LONGSHOE
Black go on the front of the line, we stay in the back ... It's okay to rap with the blacks, but don't get too close with any of them. Ricans too. We're the minority here, so be cool. If you hate yams, keep it to yourself. Don't show it.But also don't let them run over you. Ricans are funny people. Took me a long time to figure them out, and you know something, I found out that I still have a lot to learn about them. I rap spic talk. They get a big-brother attitude about the whites in jail. But they also back the niggers to the T.
 
ICE
 
(Throws LONGSHOE a sandwich)
Hey, Shoe.
 
LONGSHOE
If a spic pulls a razor blade on you and you don't have a mop wringer in your hands ... run ... If you have static with a nigger and they ain't no white people around ... get a spic to watch your back, you may have a chance ... That ain't no guarantee ... If you have static with a spic, don't get no nigger to watch your back cause you ain't gonna have none.
 
OMAR
You can say that again.
 
ICE
Two times.
 
LONGSHOE
You're a good-looking kid ... You ain't stuff and you don't want to be stuff. Stay away from the bandidos. Paco is one of them ... Take no gifts from no one.
(NETT appears outside entrance gate)
 
NETT
Clark Davis ... Davis.
 
CLARK
Yes, that's me.
 
NETT
On the gate.
(NETT opens gate, enters with CLARK's belongings, leaves gate open)
Come here ... come here ... white trash ... filth ... Let me tell you something and you better listen good cause I'm only going to say it one time ... and one time only. This is a nice floor ... a quiet floor ... There has never been too much trouble on this floor ... With you, I smell trouble ... I don't question the warden's or the captain's motive for putting you on this floor ... But for once I'm gonna ask why they put a sick fucking degenerate like you on my floor ... If you just talk out the side of your mouth one time ... if you look at me sideways one time ... if you mispronounce my name once, if you pick up more food than you can eat ... if you call me for something I think is unnecessary ... if you oversleep, undersleep ... if ... if ... if ... you give me just one little reason ... I'm gonna break your face up so bad your own mother won't know you ...
 
LONGSHOE
Mr. Nett is being kinda hard ...
 
NETT
Shut up ... I got a eight-year-old daughter who was molested by one of those bastards ... stinking sons of bitches and I just as well pretend that he was you, Davis, do you understand that ...
 
PACO
Short eyes.
 
LONGSHOE
Short eyes? Short eyes ... Clark, are you one of those short-eyes freaks ... are you a short-eyes freak?
 
NETT
Sit down, Murphy ... I'm talking to this ... this scumbag ... yeah, he's a child rapist ... a baby rapist, how old was she? How old? ... Eight ... seven ... Disgusting bastard ... Stay out of my sight ... cause if you get in my face just one time ... don't forget what I told you ... I'll take a night stick and ram it clean up your asshole ... I hope to God that they take you off this floor, or send you to Sing Sing ... The men up there know what to do with degenerates like you.
 
CLARK
I ... I ...
 
NETT
All right, let's go ... Lock in ... lock in ... for the count ... Clark, the captain outside on the bridge wants to see you. I hope he takes you off this floor ...
 
LONGSHOE
Hey, Davis ... (Walks up to him and spits in his face. Men exit)
 
NETT
Juan, stay out and clean the dayroom. Omar, take the tier. (CAPTAIN ALLARD appears on the catwalk above. CLARK joins ALLARD and they carry on inaudible conversation.
Crossing from stage right to stage left on the catwalkare CUPCAKES, ICE, and LONGSHOE, followed by MR. BROWN. As LONGSHOE passes, he bumps CLARK.
MR. BROWN stops beside CLARK, and CAPTAIN ALLARD chases after LONGSHOE to catwalk above left)
 
ALLARD
Hey, just a minute, you. That's just the kind of stuff that's going to cease.
(BROWN and CLARK exit catwalk above right and appear at entrance gate stage right)
 
BROWN
On the gate.
(BROWN opens gate, CLARK enters dayroom, BROWN closes gate. CLARK says something inaudible to BROWN)
You're lucky if you get a call before Christmas.
(BROWN exits. CLARK leans on gate)
 
LONGSHOE
Get off that fuckin' gate.
(While the above was going on, JUAN has taken his cleaning equipment from the shower upstage left and placed can of Ajax and rag on the toilet area upstage center, and broom, mop, bucket, dustpan, dust broom, dust box in downstage left corner. JUAN sits at table, CLARK at window. JUAN pours coffee, offers CLARK a sandwich. CLARK crosses to table and sits)
 
JUAN
Hey, man, did you really do it?
(OMAR starts chant offstage)
 
CLARK
I don't know.
 
JUAN
What do you mean, you don't know? What you think I am, a fool, or something out of a comic book.
 
CLARK
No ... I don't mean to sound like that, I ... I ...
 
JUAN
Look, man, either you did it or you didn't.
(JUAN stands)
That all there is to it ...
 
CLARK
I don't know if I did it or not.
 
JUAN
You better break that down to me (Sits) cause you lost me.
 
CLARK
What I mean is that I may have done it or I may not have ... I just don't remember ... I remember seeing that little girl that morning ... I sat in Bellevue thirty-three days and I don't remember doing anything like that to that little girl.
 
JUAN
You done something like that before, haven't you?
 
CLARK
I ... ye ... yes ... I have ... How did you know?
 
JUAN
Your guilt flies off your tongue, man.
(Stands) Sound like one of those guys in an encounter session (Starts to sweep) looking to dump their shit off on someone ... You need help ... The bad part about it is that you know it ...
 
CLARK
Help? I need help? Yes ... yes, I do need help ... But I'm afraid to find it ... Why? ... Fear ... just fear ... Perhaps fear of knowing that I may be put away forever ... I have a wife and kid I love very much ... and I want to be with them. I don't ever want to be away from them ... ever. But now this thing has happened ... I don't know what to do ... I don't know ... If I fight it in court, they'll end up getting hurt ... If I don't, it'll be the same thing ... Jesus help me ... God forgive me.
 
JUAN
Cause man won't.
(JUAN at downstage left corner sweeping up dust)
 
CLARK
No, man won't ... Society will never forgive me ... or accept me back once this is openly known.
(JUAN begins to stack chairs stage right. CLARK hands JUAN a chair)
I think about it sometimes and ... funny, I don't really feel disgusted ... just ashamed ... You wanna ...
 
JUAN
Listen to you? It's up to you ... You got a half hour before the floor locks out unless you wanna go public like A.A.
(JUAN picks up stool)
 
CLARK
No ... no ... no ... I can't ... I didn't even talk with the psychiatrist in the bughouse.
 
JUAN
Run it ...
(JUAN puts down stool)
 
CLARK
You know, somehow it seems like there's no beginning. Seems like I've always been in there all my life. I have like little picture incidents running across my mind ... I remember being ... fifteen or sixteen years old
(JUAN crosses upstage center to clean toilet)
or something around that age, waking up to the sound of voices coming from the living room ... cartoons on the TV ... They were watching cartoons on the TV, two little girls. One was my sister, and her friend ... And you know how it is when you get up in the morning, the inevitable hard-on is getting up with you. I draped the sheet around my shoulders ... Everyone else was sleeping ... The girl watching TV with my sister ... yes ... Hispanic ... pale-looking skin ... She was eight ... nine ... ten ... what the difference, she was a child ... She was very pretty--high cheekbones, flashing black eyes ... She was wearing blue short pants ... tight-fitting ... a white blouse, or shirt ... My sister ... she left to do number two ...
(JUAN returns to stage right)
She told her friend wait for me, I'm going to do number two, and they laughed about it. I sneaked in standing a little behind her ... She felt me standing there and turned to me ... She smiled such a pretty little smile ... I told her I was a vampire and she laughed ... I spread the sheets apart and she suddenly stopped laughing ... She just stood there staring at me ... Shocked? surprised? intrigued? Don't know ... don't know ... She just stood and stared ...
(JUAN crosses to downstage left)
I came closer like a vampire ... She started backing away ... ran toward the door ... stopped, looked at me again. Never at my face ... my body ... I couldn't really tell whether or not the look on her face was one of fear ... but I'll never forget that look.
(BROWN crosses on catwalk from left to right with a banana. Stands at right)
I was really scared that she'd tell her parents. Weeks passed without confrontation ... and I was feeling less and less afraid ... But that's not my thing, showing myself naked to little girls in schoolyards.
(JUAN crosses to downstage right corner and begins to mop from downstage right to downstage left)
One time ... no, it was the first time ... the very first time. I was alone watching TV ... Was I in school or out ... And there was this little Puerto Rican girl from next door ... Her father was the new janitor ... I had seen her before ... many times ... sliding down the banister ... Always her panties looked dirty ... She was ... oh, why do I always try to make their age higher than it really was ... even to myself. She was young, much too young ... Why did she come there? For who? Hundred questions. Not one small answer ... not even a lie flickers across my brain.
 
OFFSTAGE VOICE
All right, listen up. The following inmates report for sanitation duty: Smalls, Gary; Medena, James; Pfeifer,Willis; Martinez, Raul. Report to C.O. grounds for sanitation duty.
 
CLARK
How did I get to the bathroom with her? Don't know. I was standing there with her, I was combing her hair. I was combing her hair. Her curly reddish hair ... (JUAN crosses upstage right, starts to mop upstage right to upstage left)
I was naked ... naked ... except for these flower-printed cotton underwears ... No slippers, barefooted ... Suddenly I get this feeling over me ... like a flash fever ... and I'm hard ... I placed my hands on her small shoulders ... and pressed her hand and placed it on my penis ... Did she know what to do? Or did I coerce her? I pulled down my drawers ... But then I felt too naked, so I put them back on ... My eyes were closed ... but I felt as if there was this giant eye off in space staring at me ...
(JUAN stops upstage left and listens to CLARK, who is unaware JUAN is in back of him)
I opened them and saw her staring at me in the cabinet mirror. I pulled her back away from the view of the mirror ... My hands up her dress, feeling her underdeveloped body ... I ... I ... I began pulling her underwear down on the bowl ... She resisted ... slightly, just a moment ... I sat on the bowl ... She turned and threw her arms around my neck and kissed me on the lips ... She gave a small nervous giggle ... I couldn't look at her ... I closed my eyes ... turned her body ... to face away from me ... I lubricated myself ... and ... I hear a scream, my own ... there was a spot of blood on my drawers ... I took them off right then and there ... ripped them up and flushedthem down the toilet ... She had dressed herself up and asked me if we could do it again tomorrow ... and was I her boyfriend now ... I said yes, yes ...
(JUAN goes to center stage, starts mopping center stage right to stage left.
BROWN exits from catwalk above right)
I couldn't sit still that whole morning, I just couldn't relax. I dressed and took a walk ... Next thing I know I was running--out of breath ... I had run over twenty blocks ... twenty blocks blind ... without knowing ... I was running ... Juan, was it my conscious or subconscious that my rest stop was a children's playground ... Coincidence perhaps ... But why did I run in that direction, no, better still, why did I start walking in that direction ... Coincidence? Why didn't my breath give out elsewhere ... Coincidence?
(JUAN moves to downstage left, CLARK moves to upstage center and sits on window ledge)
I sat on the park bench and watched the little girls swing ... slide ... run ... jump rope ... Fat ... skinny ... black ... white ... Chinese ... I sat there until the next morning ... The next day I went home and met the little Puerto Rican girl again ... Almost three times a week ... The rest of the time I would be in the playground or in the children's section of the movies ... But you know something? Er, er ...
(CLARK moves toward JUAN, who is in downstage left corner)
 
JUAN
Juan.
 
CLARK
Yes, Juan ... Juan the listener ... the compassionate ... you know something, Juan ... I soon became ... became ... what? A pro? A professional degenerate? (The sound of garbage cans banging together is heard offstage)
I don't know if you can call it a second insight on children. But ... I would go to the park ... and sit there for hours and talk with a little girl and know if I would do it or not with her ... Just a few words was all needed ... Talk stupid things they consider grownup talk ... Soon my hand would hold hers, then I would caress her face ... Next her thighs ... under their dress ... I never took any of them home or drove away with them in my car ... I always told them to meet me in the very same building they lived in ...
 
OFFSTAGE VOICE
On the sanitation gate.
(Sound of gate opening)
 
CLARK
On the roof or their basements under the stairs ... Sometimes in their own home if the parents were out ... The easiest ones were the Puerto Ricans and the black girls ... Little white ones would masturbate you right there in the park for a dollar or a quarter ... depending on how much emphasis their parents put in their heads on making money ... I felt ashamed at first ... But then I would rehearse at nights what to do the next time ... planning ... I
(JUAN starts moving slowly from downstage left to upstage left)
couldn't help myself ... I couldn't help myself ... Something drove me to it ... I thought of killing myself ... but I just couldn't go through with it ... I don'treally wanna die ... I wanted to stop, really I did ... I just didn't know how. I thought maybe I was crazy ... but I read all types of psychology books ... I heard or read somewhere that crazy people can't distinguish right from wrong ... Yet I can ... I know what's right and I know what I'm doing is wrong, yet I can't stop myself ...
 
JUAN
Why didn't you go to the police or a psychiatrist ...
(JUAN crosses to shower room upstage left)
 
CLARK
I wanted to many a time ... But I know that the police would find some pretext to kill me ... And a psychiatrist ... well, if he thought he couldn't help me he'd turn me over to them or commit me to some nut ward ... Juan, try to understand me.
(JUAN comes out of shower room and starts putting away his cleaning equipment)
 
JUAN
Motherfucker, try to understand you ... if I wasn't trying to, I would have killed you ... stone dead, punk ... (JUAN, at downstage left corner, picks up broom and bucket)
The minute you said that thing about the Rican girls ...
If I was you I'd ask transfer to protection ... cause
(JUAN returns to shower room)
if you remain on this floor you're asking to die ... You'll be committing involuntary suicide ...
(JUAN again crosses to downstage left corner, picks up remaining equipment, crosses to toilet, picks up Ajax and rag, and crosses to shower room)
Shit, why the fuck did you have to tell me all of it ... You don't know me from Adam ...
(JUAN comes out of shower room and crosses to CLARK, stage center)
Why the hell did you have to make me your father confessor? Why? Why didn't you stop, why?
 
CLARK
Cause you asked. Cause you ... What I told you I didn't even tell the doctors at the observation ward ... Everything is coming down on me so fast ... I needed to tell it all ... to someone ... Juan, you were willing to listen.
(Whistle blows)
 
MR. NETT
(Offstage)
All right, on the lockout ...
(Whistle)
 
OTHER VOICES
On the lockout.
(BROWN appears outside the gate)
 
BROWN
On the gate.
(Enter EL RAHEEM, PACO, OMAR, ICE, CUPCAKES, and LONGSHOE. BROWN closes gate and exits. ICE and OMAR get one chair and cross to table. OMAR starts playing cards.
LONGSHOE gets his stool and crosses to behind table.
CUPCAKES does push-ups on chair stage right)
 
ICE
You're gonna be on the help for good, Omar.
 
OMAR
No, the man said just for today ... But he put me on top of the list.
 
ICE
You gonna look out for me, heavy homeeeeey?
 
OMAR
Since when did we become homeeeeeys? Shit, man--you're way out there in Coney Island somewhere ... and I'm way in Bed-Stuy.
 
ICE
How you gonna show, brother man? It's the same borough, ain't it?
 
OMAR
It's the same borough, Iceman ... but it's a different world.
 
ICE
Ain't this a bitch? I comes on this here floor with this man ... There was nothing but Whiteys on the floor. It was me and him against the world ... I come out every night and stand by his side, ready to die ... to die ...
 
PACO
Yeah, cause you no wanna die alone.
 
ICE
That has nothing to do with nothing.
 
OMAR
It has everything to do with everything.
 
ICE
How you going to show? How you do this to me, Omar, homey.
 
OMAR
Being how you mentioned it, perhaps it's not a bad idea. Save me some money when you go to the store.
 
ICE
I ain't gonna argue that ... cause this is me, the Iceman, talking--my hand don't call for this type of talking, man. Your main mellow-man, this is too strong ... Contracts ...
 
OMAR
Who said anything about contract? I didn't say anything about contract ... Anybody here said anything about a contract? ...
 
CUPCAKES
I didn't hear anybody say anything ... I didn't say it.
 
PACO
Me neither ...
 
LONGSHOE
Who could say anything with a swollen lip.
 
JUAN
I mind my own business.
 
OMAR
See, you must be hearing things.
 
ICE
You didn't say it ... but you implied it ... You was leading right up to it.
 
OMAR
Well, now that you mentioned it ... perhaps it's not a bad idea ...
 
ICE
How you gonna do this to me? Omarrrrr ... homeeey ...
 
OMAR
Did it to yourself ... You knew I'd always look out ... but now you put these ideas into my head ... and it sounds kinda ...
 
ICE
Omar ... my pretty nigger ... even if you get no bigger, you'll always be my main nigger ... And if you get any bigger, you'll just be my bigger nigger ...
 
OMAR
Better run that shit on the judge ... You know what you can do for me ... give me a softshoe.
 
ICE
Yes sir, boss, captain, your honor, mister, sir.
(Fast softshoe)
 
OMAR
Hey, freak.
(To CLARK)
You're sittin' on my Chinese handball court ...
(CLARK moves to upstage right)
 
ICE
That there is where I hangs my wet clean clothes ... and I don't wanna have them sprayed. Move ... creep.
(CLARK moves to stage center)
 
EL RAHEEM
You're in God's walking space.
(CLARK moves to lower stage right)
 
PACO
That's Paco's walking space.
 
CUPCAKES
Hey, Clark ... that spot's not taken ... Right over there ... Yeah, that's right ... The whole toilet bowl and you go well together.
 
CLARK
I'm not going to stand for this treatment.
 
PACO
Did you say something out of your mouth, creep ...
 
OMAR
You talking to everyone, or to someone in particular?
 
LONGSHOE
I know you ain't talking to me.
 
ICE
You got something you wanna say to someone in this room, faggot?
 
CLARK
I was talking to myself.
 
EL RAHEEM
Well, don't talk to yourself too loud.
 
CUPCAKES
Talk to the shitbowl ... You'll find you got a lot in common with each other ...
 
JUAN
Drop it ... Cut it loose ...
PACO
¿Donde está La Mancha? ... or did Sancho go to another floor? ...
 
JUAN
Poco ... one of these days you gonna get me very very angry.
 
PACO
I'm trembling, man ... whooo, I'm scared ... Can't you smell it, I'm shitting bricks ...
 
ICE
Juan ... be cool ... don't know why you wanna put front for that freak ... But, man ... if you don't wanna vamp ... don't go against your own people ... You be wrong, man ...
 
JUAN
Ain't going against my own brother man ... But if the dude is a sicky ... cut him loose ... All that ain't necessary ... Ice.
 
ICE
It ain't your place, Juan, and you know it ... You're out of time ...
 
PACO
I think he has a special interest.
 
ICE
Don't come out of your face wrong, Paco.
 
PACO
Ice.
 
ICE
You're interrupting me, Paco ... Me and you both know where you're coming from ... Don't make me put your shit in the streets ... And, Juan, you know you're out of order. This ain't your turn, man ...
 
CUPCAKES
Let's go do up them clothes, Juan.
 
JUAN
Yeah. O.K., kid ... go get the buckets ... I'll be down the tier.
(BROWN appears outside gate)
 
CUPCAKES
On the gate.
 
BROWN
On the gate.
(BROWN opens gate and CUPCAKES and JUAN exit. BROWN closes gate and exits)
 
PACO
Man thinks he El grande Pingú ...
 
ICE
Squash it ...
 
LONGSHOE
(Goes over to toilet, where CLARK is)
Hey, man ... don't leave. I want you to hold it for me ... while I pee.
 
CLARK
What ... wha ...
 
LONGSHOE
I want you to hold my motherfucking dick while I pee, sucker, so I don't get my hands wet ...
(Laughter)
Well?
 
CLARK
No ... no ... I can't do that ...
 
LONGSHOE
Oh. You can't do that ... but you can rape seven-year-old girls.
 
CLARK
I didn't rape anybody. I didn't do anything.
 
LONGSHOE
Shut up, punk.
(Pushes CLARK's chest)
What's this--smokes.
 
CLARK
They're all I have ... but you're welcome to some.
 
LONGSHOE
Some? I'm welcome to all of them, creep.
 
CLARK
What about me?
 
LONGSHOE
What about you?
 
CLARK
They're all I have.
 
LONGSHOE
Kick.
 
CLARK
But ...
 
ICE
Kick, motherfucker, kick.
 
LONGSHOE
Kick ... hey, let me see that chain ... gold ...
 
CLARK
Yes.
 
LONGSHOE
How many carats?
 
CLARK
Fourteen.
 
ICE
Damn, Shoe ... if you gonna take the chain, take the chain.
 
LONGSHOE
I ... me ... take ... Who said anything about taking anything. That would be stealing and that's dishonest, ain't it, Clarky baby ... You wanna give that chain, don't you ... After all, we're both white and we got to look out for one another. Ain't that true, Clarky baby ... You gonna be real white about the whole thing, aren't you, Clarky baby.
 
CLARK
It's a gift from my mother.
 
ALL
Ohhh.
 
LONGSHOE
I didn't know you had a mother ... I didn't think human beings gave birth to dogs, too.
 
OMAR
Looks like the freak ain't upping the chain, Shoe.
 
LONGSHOE
Oh man, Clarky baby, how you gonna show in front of these people? You want them to think we're that untogether? What are you trying to say, man? You mean to stand there in your nice cheap summer suit looking very white and deny my whiteness by refusing to share a gift with me? That totally uncool ... You're insulting me, man.
 
OMAR
Man's trying to say that you're not white enough.
 
LONGSHOE
You're trying to put a wire out on me, creep?
 
OMAR
Man saying you're a nigger-lover.
 
LONGSHOE
You saying that I'm a quadroon?
 
EL RAHEEM
What? Freak, did you say that devil has some royal Congo blood in his veins?
 
ICE
I ain't got nothin' to do with it, Shoe, but I swore I heard the freak say that you were passing, Shoe.
 
CLARK
I didn't say that ... I didn't say anything.
 
ICE
You calling me a liar.
 
CLARK
No, no ... no.
 
LONGSHOE
 
Then you did say it?
(They all push CLARK around)
 
CLARK
Please, please, here, take this chain, leave me alone.
 
ICE
(Yanks chain from around neck)
Pick the motherfucking chain up, freak.
 
EL RAHEEM
That's right ... You tell that man he ain't good enough to talk to.
 
LONGSHOE
First I'm a nigger-lover ... then a quadroon ... Now I'm not even good enough to talk to.
 
EL RAHEEM
Boy, I told you about being in God's walking space, didn't I?
 
ICE
You better answer God when he speaks, boy.
 
LONGSHOE
Don't you turn your back on me, motherfucker.
(Strikes CLARK. He falls against EL RAHEEM, who hits him too.
 
OMAR begins kicking him.
MR. NETT appears outside gate)
 
MR. NETT
On the gate.
(NETT opens gate, enters)
 
OMAR
Mr. Nett.
 
EL RAHEEM
Mr. Nett, Mr. Nett, the man started a fight with Omar and we just broke it up.
 
ICE
That's right, Mr. Nett.
 
MR. NETT
You guys shouldn't whip his face. Omar, you are on the help permanently. The Torres brothers beat their case this morning.
 
OMAR
Right on ... Bet them two are high as all hell by now.
 
MR. NETT.
Yeah, and they'll be back, mark my words ... Listen, get this man off the floor ... You guys know the rules ... No sleeping on the floor.
(MR. NETT closes gate and exits)
 
ICE
You guys oughta learn how to touch up a dude.
 
OMAR
I'll get a bucket of water.
 
LONGSHOE
Fuck the bucket of water, Omar. Put the sucker's head in the toilet bowl. There's water there.
 
EL RAHEEM
He's still a devil ... I won't do that to no man.
 
LONGSHOE
We could get it on again.
 
EL RAHEEM
That don't present me no problems ...
 
ICE
Squash it, man ... both of you ...
 
LONGSHOE
Come on, Omar, grab his other side ...
 
OMAR
Hey, there's still piss in there.
 
LONGSHOE
Put his head in and I'll flush it.
 
EL RAHEEM
Omar ... let me put his head in there and you flush it.
 
LONGSHOE
Makes me no difference ... flush the motherfucker, Omar.
(OMAR, LONGSHOE, PACO pick up CLARK to put his head in toilet bowl. They use him as a ramrod, making three runs at the toilet, CLARK screaming. On third ram, toilet is flushed, and lights fade)
Copyright © 1974, 1975 by Miguel Piñero Introduction copyright © 1975 by Marvin Felix Camillo