ROBERT PATRICK PLAY – YOU’RE FAMILY

YOU’RE
FAMILY or
THE WAR OVER JANE FONDA
by
Robert Patrick

c 2012 by Robert Patrick

The Time: Just before and during “Desert Storm”
The Place: Flatwater, a small American town
(1) The road beside a convenience store
(2) Sis’s car
(3) The yard of Bil’s and Sis’s house
(4) The living-room/kitchen “family room “of the house
(5) An embankment by a canal

THE CHARACTERS:
Bud – a gay hippie in his fifties
Bil – Bud’s brother-in-law, an ex-officer in his sixties
Sis – Bud’s sister, Bil’s wife, in her sixties

(The play flows cinematically. Bud often addresses two friends in Los Angeles, “Penn and “Aaron,” who do not appear.)

(The setting will be principally the “family room” of Sis and Bil’s home in Flatwater. All that’s required is a Barcolounger for Bil and an ottoman for Bud. Behind them, across a low divider is a kitchen table and two chairs. This is where Sis reads her books. To one side, a mail-box on a post with Old Glory on its “mail’s here” flag. A bench to the other side to serve as “car” and “embankment”.)

(At rise, Bud stands downstage center with a ratty duffle bag and other tacky “luggage,” including a battered cardboard box which must contain one beautiful candle. Bud is a leftover hippie in his fifties. He sits on his “luggage” and writes a postcard.)

BUD
January sixth. Nineteen ninety. Outskirts of Flatwater, California. Dear Aaron and Penn. Well, here I am in Flatwater. Or on the outskirts of it, anyway. This is where the Greyhound bus lets you off. I’m in front of a convenience store called “Park ‘n’ Barf.” A sign in the window says “Puke Burritos.” I may be making part of this up. I miss you both already. I’m waiting for my brother-in-law to come fetch me. I don’t miss him already. I haven’t seen him or my sister for thirty years. I never thought I would again. All the time I was marching for peace, he was bombing in Viet Nam. Those were horrible days. I miss them already. I wish I could have found a job in Los Angeles and stayed with y’all. I hope Penn sells his script to the movies. I hope Aaron gets a break making karaokes. I hope y’all get a house with a room in it for me. I hope my brother-in-law comes soon. I hope he never comes. I don’t know what I’m getting into. I haven’t been alone among heterosexuals since before y’all were born. Oh, here comes a car. Must be Bil. Who else would be out in this wilderness at this time of night? Will write soon. Bud.

(Bil enters. He is older than Bud, very energetic, neat, and trim.)

BIL
Gimme all your money or I’ll kill you! (horselaugh)

BUD
New York already did. Bil

BIL
Haw! Gotcha, didn’t I? Well, come on, welcome to Flatwater. Here, come on, get into the car. Shit, is that cher luggage or is it garbage? Haw! We sure have missed you, buddy boy. Hurry, your sister is waitin’ at the house.

(Bil tosses Bud’s luggage into the “car” and starts car. Bud fumbles with seat belt)

BUD
Just a second..I’m not sure how to work this…

BIL
Shit, don’t you people in Jew York know how to work seat belts? Get it fastened now. (Bil stops the car and reaches over and fastens Bud’s belt) There, I’ll do it for you.

BUD
Well, if you just show me how…

BIL
There you are. (Bil starts the car again)

BUD
I just learned in L.A. that they’re different in every model of car…

BIL
I don’t drive with nobody that don’t wear a seat belt. Shit, if we had a accident, you could sue me for a million dollars.

BUD
I would never sue someone for my own carelessness..

BIL
Shit, you don’t never know. Everybody’s out to get choo. Your sister’s been thinkin’ of nothin’ but choo for the whole week.

BUD
I’m very grateful to y’all for letting me come…

BIL
We hope you’re gonna stay for a good long visit.

BUD
Well, I….

BIL
So you lost your candy shop, did ja?

BUD
It was a candle shop…

BIL
Never did think you’d have a head for business.

BUD
I ran it for twenty years…

BIL
You was always more the artistic type.

BUD
They suddenly tripled my rent…

BIL
Everybody’s out to getcha. What do you think of this car?

BUD
It’s pink.

BIL
Damn right. Your sister won it for bein’ the best Mary Kay Cosmetics representative in six counties!

BUD
You must be proud of her….

BIL
She’d never of done it if I didn’t drive her all the time! She’d give everything away if I let her!

BUD
Are we in Flatwater yet?

BIL
Shit, yes. Didn’t you read the signs?

BUD
It’s dark…

BIL
You ain’t gonna see no tall buildin’s here like they got in Jew York. Haw!

BUD
It is strange…

BIL
Haw! You hear that? “Jew York!” That’s what Bash Rambo calls it.

BUD
Bash Ram…?

BIL
He’s the best man on the radio. Shit, ain’t you people in Jew York never heard of Bash Rambo?

BUD
I don’t believe I ever….

BIL
He tells it like it is. See that?

BUD
Good lord, what’s that?

BIL
That’s the water tower. The senior class done painted that world globe on it. For educational purposes.

BUD
It’s bizarre

BIL
I think that’s the most beautifullest thing I ever seen. Now that’s art a fella like me can understand.

BUD
It’s unique.

BIL
Course some of them rowdies climbed up and painted the “F” word all over it. When the light hits it wrong, you can still make that word out. Shit, I hate dirty talk.

BUD
Where are we now?

BIL
We’re almost there. This here’s our section. It’s called Hillcrest.

BUD
Where’s the hill? Where’s the crest?

BIL
Shit, I don’t know. Some Wop developer called it that to fool suckers. Everybody’s out to get choo. Here we are.

(SIS appears, a lovely, rather addled woman in a long housecoat, wearing a hearing aid. She stands beside an American flag. She is looking anxiously for the car. She wears a pair of glasses shoved onto the top of her head. One of her hands holds a volume of condensed books, with a finger marking her place.)

BIL
There she is. She lives in that damned housecoat. She ain’t so pretty anymore, is she?

(He hops out and uploads Bud’s luggage. Bud wrestles with the seat belt)

BUD
She’s beautiful.

BIL
Shit, she ain’t no better than a old dog. Here, let me get that for you.

(He unfastens Bud’s seat belt)

BUD
If you’d just show me how….

BIL
That’s all right. I know you’re the artistic type. Haw!

(Bud is released from the belt and walks over to Sis.)

BUD
Sis?

SIS
Oh, Bud!
(She embraces him and begins weeping.)
Oh, my little budder!

BIL (shouts)
Shit, get inside the house before you scare the neighbors.
(Normal voice to Bud)
She shouldn’t come out without her face-paint on, she’ll scare the dogs.

SIS
Oh, my little budder! I missed you so much.

BUD
Oh, Sis. Me too. I didn’t know how much.

(Bil is already on his way to the house with the luggage.)

Bil, let me carry those.

BIL
Shit, I can carry ‘em!

SIS
(Clinging to Bud as they move into the house)
Oh, my little bitty Bud. I missed you so much.

BUD
Bil, let me have the cardboard box, please…

BIL
Shit, don’t go unpackin’ and dirtyin’ up the family room.

BUD
No, please, I have presents for you….

BIL
Oh, shit, here then!
( He throws the bag and box down angrily.)

SIS

Bil, be careful with Bud’s things now.

BIL

(Normal voice)
Oh, shut up, you old ugly pig.
(Grins. To Bud)
She can’t hear nothin’ you say if you talk normal! Haw!

BUD
(takes beautiful elaborate candles from box.)
Here. These are the last candles from my shop. I brought them for y’all.

SIS
Oh, it’s so pretty!

BIL
Shit, I hope they ain’t no Jew York cockroaches in there. You better let me fumigate that box before you open it all up.

SIS
Oh, it’s so pretty! Thank you little budder
(she kisses him)

BIL
(hands the candle Bud gave him back)
You should of insured them. Then if that Greyhound had broke ‘em, you could have sued them big. Haw!

BUD
I brought you all the prettiest ones I saved.

SIS
Oh, look, Bil. They’re so pretty. I’ll save ‘em and give ‘em for Christmas and birthday presents.

BIL
(swooping up bags angrily)
Well, y’all don’t want to talk to me. I’ll put these in your room
(As he exits)
Welcome home, Buddy boy.

SIS
(Moves to kitchen table, sits. Does not offer Bud a chair. After a while, he sits.)
I’ll save all of those and give ‘em for Christmas and birthday presents. You be sure and tell me if I forget and give you one, hear?
(She opens her book and puts her glasses on her nose, starts to read)

BUD
I will, I will. Oh, god, there’s so much I’d like to talk with you about.

SIS
(Slightly annoyed, lifts her glasses and marks her place in her book.) Oh, well, all right, then. What would you like to talk about?

BUD
Well, I don’t know. You. Y’all. Myself, I guess. What have you been doing for thirty years?

SIS
Oh, lord, I don’t know. Raising a family and starting a business.

BUD
I saw your pink car. Congratulations.

SIS
Well, that’s my third one. I sell Mary Kay.

BUD
You must be proud of yourself.

SIS
They give ‘em for the most sales. I like selling Mary Kay. It helps women feel more proud of themselves.

(She keeps going back to her book.)

BUD
I don’t know where to begin telling you about my last thirty years. It almost seems unreal here in this house.

SIS
We got it on a home loan for Veterans…You can watch TV if you want to.

BUD
Good lord, no. What about your family. Where are they?

SIS
Sonny lives right near. He finally kicked the drugs. Missy lives in the East. She got married again. You can microwave something if you want to.

BUD
I’d rather talk to you.

SIS
(Somewhat uncomfortably closes her book..carefully marking her place..and raises her glasses)
Well, if you really want to. What did you say you wanted to talk about?

BUD
Well…What are you reading?

SIS
Condensed true crime books. They have four in each month. That way I can read four books in the time it would take to read one.

BUD
And what’s the one about that you’re reading now?

SIS
Oh, I don’t know. Some woman killed her husband. Most of ‘em are.

BUD
I brought some of my favorite books. I’ll read some of yours and you can read some of mine. Then we can talk about them.

SIS
I won’t be upset if they’re gay books. I realized a long time ago you must be gay. But how could I cast the first stone after the things Bil and I did even before we were married.

BUD (amused)
Oh, well, that’s a relief to know.

SIS
We used to have some gay boys here in Flatwater. I used to do their make-up for their Halloween drag ball. I’d introduce you to ‘em, but they all moved to San Francisco and died.

BIL
(re-enters, vigorously)
I put all your clothes in the washer and sprayed all of them candles with bug spray.
( He walks right past them and sits on the barcalounger. He whips open a newspaper and clicks on the TV.)
(NOTE: the TV is in the audience. When it’s on, there should be a flickering colored light on the faces of Bil and, when he’s watching, Bud. There should be an annoying, gibbering noise accompanying it, which can be lowered to allow for dialogue.)
(Bil’s dialogue is continuous)
What was that I heard on while I was out? One of them talk shows with two of them intellectual guys each trying to prove they’s smarter than each other?

BUD
No, Sis and I were just talking…

BIL
Shit, she can’t hear nothin’ you say. She just sits there readin’ them asswipe books when she should be restin’ so she can make more money tomorrow.

(Indeed, at the first opportunity, Sis has returned to her book.)
(Bud stand uncertain of what to do. Sis is absorbed in her book. Bil is watching the TV and simultaneously whipping sections out of the paper. Bud wanders into the family room and sits on the ottoman.)

BIL
You can just sit there. We used to have two barcaloungers but she stopped watching TV so I just junked hers if she didn’t want to sit by me and watch TV but read them shitass books instead.

BUD
I haven’t been near a TV for years and…

BIL
(Clicking channels with a remote)
Haw! Here! Looky! This one’s a good one! See that little nigger kid? Haw! He’s a smart-ass! He gets ‘em all! Shit! Don’t nobody never put nothin’ over on him! Shit! Haw!

(Bil becomes completely absorbed in the TV show. Bud looks back and forth between reading Sis and enthralled Bil and wanders to mailbox)

BUD
Dear Penn and Aaron, And so a sort of way of life has emerged. Sis sits there reading condensed plans for murdering husbands, and Bil watches sit-com after sit-com where, for half an hour, nobody don’t put nothin’ over on him. And I? After thirty years among the bravest, finest people in the world, marching for peace and lighting little candles wherever I could…I sit and watch them. I suppose you guys, being younger and having been raised in such towns, could have told me. I didn’t know. I really didn’t. Sis and I grew up in towns like Flatwater. I haven’t been in one in three decades. I didn’t know. I really didn’t know what had become of America. All those years they were watching people like me on TV. I had no idea how we had been made to look to them.

(puts card in box)

BIL
(Suddenly galvanized by something on TV)
Shit! Looky! Look at them protestor turds! What are they on about now?

BUD(back in family room)
They’re fighting for the preservation of the rain forests.

BIL
Shit! Them’s the same people protest against everything! Them’s the ones think more of white owls than of lumberjacks’ jobs!

BUD
But the rain forests are being decimated at the rate of an acre a second. Species are being destroyed.

BIL
Shit! Who gives a shit!

BUD
Forests make the very air we breathe.

BIL
Shit, you think they care? They get paid to march, is all.

BUD
Paid by whom?

BIL
Shit, the communists.

BUD
Which communists?

BIL
Shit, Bash Rambo told the whole story. You gotta listen to him. Them’s the same protestors go from town to town everytime they’s one of them shit marches! They all get paid big money from the international communists.

BUD
Someone said this on the radio?

BIL
(jams a Walkman headset on Bud)
Shit, yes, he ain’t afraid of nothin’. Listen to this!

BUD
And there suddenly began to pour into my defenseless ears the orotund voice of Bash Rambo. He said, indeed, that all protestors were paid agents of an international communist conspiracy. He said they were all ugly Lesbians who couldn’t get a man. He said ecologists were paid to destroy the American lumber industry. He said vegetarians were paid to destroy the American beef industry. He said animal rights people were paid to destroy the American fur industry. He said that there are untold millions of these evil paid agents, paid fortunes to lay America to waste. He said they were a menace that threatens the very fabric of capitalistic Christian democracy. Then he took a sip of water and said that there were really only a few of them, that they were all ineffectual wimps and misfits, and that nobody really needed to worry about them at all. In sixty seconds he scared his listeners to death and then made them feel that everything is really all right. He said there was nothing to be afraid of and we had better elect the strongest meanest leaders we could to protect us from it. I hadn’t been subjected to such adroit mountebankery since the first time I ran into a three-card monte dealer on Times Square.

(Bud takes off earphones. To Bil)

This man is on the airwaves all the time?

BIL
Shit, yes! Three hours a day! Got more listeners than even Bob Hope used to have! Most popular radio personality of all time!

BUD
And he complains that protestors are being paid?

BIL
Shit, yes, they are.

BUD
He must get paid a fortune himself.

BIL
Yeah, he’s a multi-millionaire already!

BUD
So he’s a paid protestor himself.

BIL
Right!

BUD
Doesn’t that strike you as at all hypocritical? Or paradoxical? Or ironic? Or something?

BIL
Well, somebody’s gotta contradict all that commie propaganda.

BUD
What station can I hear communist propaganda on?

BIL
Shit, they ain’t no commie shows on.

BUD
Then what propaganda is he contradicting?

BIL
Shit, they ain’t none. Wouldn’t nobody listen to that!

BUD
(To “the boys”)
He’s able to do that. F. Scott Fitzgerald said the test of a first-class mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas and still function. By that test, Bil is a first-class mind.
(To Bil)
Bil, if nobody is a communist, where does all this money these people are supposed to get paid come from?

BIL
Why, shit, from the Russian government, of course.

BUD
But, Bil, the Russian government is no longer Communist.

BIL
Shit, no, we licked ‘em in the arms race!

BUD
So they don’t have any money?

BIL
Shit, no, they’re bankrupt.

BUD
So where do they get all this bribe money?

BIL
They tax us middle-class people to death, that’s where!

BUD
Wait, who does?

BIL
Our government.

BUD
Our government is communist?

BIL
Shit, yes!

BUD
Bush’s government?

BIL
Shit, no!

BUD
Reagan’s government?

BIL
Oh, shit, no!

BUD
Then where do the millions come from to pay the protestors?

BIL
Why, shit, Bud, from the Japanese industrialists.

BUD
Japanese industrialists pay American communist protestors?

BIL
Sure, they’re out to destroy American industry!

BUD
Wait, wait, I thought you said it was tax money from the American middle-class.

BIL
Sure, them Japanese industrialists pay communists in our government millions to spend our tax money to support them communists.

BUD
(Bewildered)
Jap capitalists pay millions to get red Feds to pay tax millions to communists to march?

BIL
No, shit, not just to march, but to pay our millions to them nigger welfare mothers.

BUD
Bil, I am so confused.

BIL
Shit, yes, that’s what they do, they confuse you!

BUD
Who does?

BIL
All of ‘em. Everybody’s out to get you!

BUD
Bil, the money paid to African-American single mothers is less than one percent of the welfare budget. It’s nothing compared to, for instance, the military budget.

BIL
No, welfare is the biggest item in the budget.

BUD
Only if you include Social Security, which is in fact a self-supporting sytem requiring no tax expenditures.

BIL
But they take the Social Security money and spend it on other things so Social Security has to come out of taxes.

BUD
Yes, and most of it goes to the military!

BIL
Damned right.

BUD
In fact, the military is the most socialistic institution in government. Why, Bil, you were in the service for twenty-something years. You live on a military pension even now. Your family has eternal medical care from the government. Your whole life has been lived in a socialist economic loop.

BIL
Right! And I deserved it! Because I was out fightin’ wars against Communism!

BUD
And now you’re fighting against the Japanese Capitalists?

BIL
Shit, yes! They’re a menace!

BUD
Bil, you heard on your favorite news show, just the other night, you heard Barbara Walters say that the Japanese companies are all owned in large part by the American companies we call their competitors!

BIL
Damned right! All of them Capitalists is communists!

(Bil storms out of the house)

BUD (speaks to the boys)
And then he stormed out of the house to mow his already perfect lawn. At two in the morning. I didn’t know. I really didn’t. Sis sits through these increasingly frequent discussions with the aplomb of a religious statue, turning her pages and smoking her Parliaments. That’s an image for our time, isn’t it? Smoking Parliements? She sits in the kitchen because it’s the only place in the house Bil will let us smoke in. I said to him once…
(To Bil, who strolls across)
But, Bil, the real menace to American lungs is the emissions from internal-combustion engines. We should long ago have switched to electric cars.

BIL (in passing)
You won’t never get me to drive no electric car. What if they was an emergency and I needed to rush some member of my family to a hospital?

BUD
(shouts to Bil who has gone offstage)
But the majority of major medical emergencies are automobile accidents caused by speeding! (no reply) Maybe Sis has the right idea.
(He wanders over to Sis)
Hi, Sis.

SIS
(With a sigh, closes her book, removes her glasses, closes her book with a finger still in it)
I guess you want to talk?

BUD(Lighting up)
Or smoke?

BIL
(Passes through with laundry basket)
Oh, shit, you two still smokin’?
(He waves his hands as if to clear smoke, fakes coughing)

SIS
Shut up, Bil. This is my house too and I can smoke in it if I want to.

BIL
Yeah, but two of you smokin’!

SIS
Go mow your lawn.

BIL
You’re gonna die first and I’ll be left alone.

SIS
Well, then, you take up smoking too and we’ll die together.

BIL
(exiting)
Shit!

BUD
(To boys)
It’s the only thing she ever stands up for herself about.

SIS
He’s so snotty ever since he gave up smoking. Just because he got cancer.

BUD

Bil got lung cancer?

SIS
No, he got these skin cancers.
(She starts laughing)

From too much sun exposure mowing that poor helpless lawn of his!

(Sis and Bud laugh together. She actually puts her book aside.)

He’s a good man.They’re all alike. So how you doing, little budder?

BUD
I seem to put my foot in my mouth with Bil all the time

SIS
Oh, don’t listen to him. He just talks a lot of nonsense.

BUD
I don’t remember him being like this. Was he always like this?

SIS
God, I don’t know. I raised two kids and when I looked up he was a grouchy old man.

BUD
He went through two wars.

SIS
I guess. He likes to think he knows everything. I don’t even try to talk to him.

BUD
Tell me about your business.

SIS
Oh, it’s doing real well. Bad times, good times, women want to look good. Mary Kay is a great woman. She makes women independent. Bil can’t stand that I have my own money.

BUD
But he keeps urging you to make more.

SIS
It’s just because I’m his wife. He wants his wife to be the best. That’s why he’s always working, though

BUD
I don’t know if I quite get that.

SIS
He has to keep proving he works more than me. That poor lawn.
(They laugh again. She notices something on TV, puts on her glasses.)
Oh, look! What are they doing?

BUD
Hm? Oh, someone’s burning an American flag.

SIS
Oh, god, why do they want to do that?
(She gets up and moves into the family room. Bud follows her.)

BUD
I believe it’s a protest against that judge in Texas who let the kid off scot-free for shooting two gay guys.

SIS
Oh, but why does he want to do that? Burn the flag? That’s awful!

BUD
Well, it’s a highly visible way to show disapproval..

SIS
But that’s our flag!

BUD
He thinks it’s dishonored.

SIS
But that flag stands for all the ideals of our country.

BUD
He thinks those ideals have been violated.

SIS
But that’s so awful! That flag used to stand for so many beautiful things. And one by one all those beautiful things have disappeared! Now everything is just awful. Everybody’s turned against everybody! Our cities are filthy! The streets aren’t safe! People are homeless! Crime has everybody scared! Kids are on dope! Nobody can stay married! Children take guns to school! All we have left is the symbols, and he’s destroying them!

BUD
Sis, that’s wonderful. Don’t you see? He feels the same way! All the freedom and security and opportunity that the flag once stood for are gone! We’re left with just the empty symbols! That’s what he’s saying! He’s saying “This is nothing, this is meaningless!” He’s saying, “This is what you’ve done to the flag!”

SIS
But he’s doing it!

BUD
He feels as you do! He agrees with you! You’re brother and sister in thoughts!

SIS
No, no! I’d never do that! People like that leave us with nothing! Nothing! The symbols are all we’ve got and they destroy them!
(She runs off in tears. Bud comes down to talk to the boys)

BUD
Dear boys: I’m writing you from a concrete embankment by the irrigation canal. I spend a lot of my time taking walks along the canal. I usually take a book with me. There are always a few joggers, either old men from the retired Air Force community, or vigorous young women who are in the Air Force now. They don’t stop to talk much. They’re always busy. Everyone here is busy all the time. They don’t seem to relate much. There have been no guests at Sis’s and Bil’s in the months I’ve been here. I thought at first they were ashamed of me..but then I noticed that there are almost never any guests’ cars in front of any of the houses in Hillcrest. I asked Bil about it once…

BIL
(Passing through with laundry.)
Shit, I don’t want a lot of people in and out of here messin’ up my rugs.

BUD
How, after all, could they have friends? Everybody’s out to get you. I am glad to hear that Penn’s movie script may be about to get bought. I hope the studio likes the changes they told him to make. I hope you get your home soon. I hope it does have a room for me. If not, I’ll sleep on the porch. I ain’t proud buddy-boys. Oh, believe me, a man who makes his sister cry…is not proud. I’d better go leave this letter for the mailperson. Oh, I don’t think I ever told you. The flag on the mailbox that you leave up to tell the mailperson that there’s a letter for him or her to pick up? On Bil’s mail-box, it’s an American flag.

(Bud seals his letter and heads for the mailbox. Bil enters with some yard implement.)

BIL
Good mornin’, Buddy-boy. You still writin’ them letters?

BUD
Oh, yes. I was just going to leave it out here for the mailman.

BIL
Shit, don’t leave no mail in the box. They see that flag up, they’ll come steal your mail for any checks that might be in it.

BUD
Oh, have you had mail stolen?

BIL
Shit, no, I wouldn’t leave nothin’ out to get stole.

BUD
Oh, well, I’ll just wait here for the mailman then.

BIL
Yeah, well, you take your mail, but leave the rest out here. I’ll bring it in.

BUD
Oh, all right.

BIL
The other day you brung the mail in and she got three of them beggin’-letters from them missionary organizations and she sent ‘em all checks.

BUD
I see.

BIL
I get the mail, I go through and throw out everything but her business mail. That way she don’t give no money for them shit-eatin’ church things.

BUD
I see.

BIL
She gives you any mail to mail, you give it to me. She sends out them checks, I tear ‘em up and throw ‘em away.

BUD
I see.

BIL
Not all of ‘em. Some I let through. But, shit, some of ‘em is for relief for them Cambodian and Vietnam refugees movin’ in here.

BUD
I see.

BIL
Shit, I didn’t spend my life bombin’ ‘em so she can send our money supportin’ ‘em to take over here. You smell that?

BUD
What?

BIL
That shitty smell.

BUD
Curry?

BIL
That’s some of ‘em moved right in here to Hillcrest. Shit, they stink up the whole neighborhood.

BUD
I think they’re Pakistani.

BIL
Stinks like shit! You goin’ walkin’?

BUD
I thought I would, yes.

BIL
Don’t bring back no more of them flowers like you did for her birthday, hear? I throwed them out soon as she forgot they was there. You can’t never tell. Might be some of ‘em people is allergic to. They come in and get sick, they’ll sue us. For millions.

BUD
Everybody’s out to get choo.

BIL
Hey, you’re learnin’, Buddy-boy.
(Bil exits.)

BUD
(Starts to write a post-script on back of letter)
Dear boys—Bil says I’m learning. He may be right—

BIL
(re-entering)
And watch your step on that canal

BUD
Huh?

BIL
Down to the lawnmower store they was talkin’ about you. They said they was this old guy walks along the canal readin’ a book while he’s walkin’. You fall in that canal won’t nobody jump in to save you. They’d stand and watch you drown and pretend they never saw. They pull you out and you die anyway, we could sue ‘em. Haw!
(Bil exits)

BUD
I think I may be about to go crazy. Bil manages to fill every second of life around him with fear. You’ll fall into the canal. Gangs of thugs will jump out of bushes and kill you.
(During this litany, Bil appears in the wings and starts reciting along with Bud)
You stroll past a schoolyard and they’ll get you arrested for a child molester. You get too friendly with them women run the magazine store they’ll sue you for sexual harassment. You get too friendly with the neighbors and they’ll come over here wantin’ to borrow money. You stand out on the lawn lookin’ at the stars and someone’ll report you for a burglar. You better stay in. But don’t stand too near the microwave, it’ll give you cancer. Don’t fry eggs over-easy, you’ll get salmonella. Don’t take too hot baths, the steam will set off the smoke alarm.
(At some point, Bud stops speaking and lets Bil handle the admonitions solo. Bud just nods and mutters “Yes, Bil.”)
Don’t leave your crossword books out, your sister gets distracted by ‘em and don’t work enough. Don’t try to use the VCR, you don’t know how to work it and I lost the instruction manual and I’m too busy to teach you. Try not to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I might think you’re a burglar and shoot you. I keep a twenty-two beside the bed. Haw!
(Bil goes off laughing. Bud holds his head in his hands and stands quite still for a moment. Bil re-enters, wearing Walkman)
BIL
You come back from your walk when you smell barbecue! I’m barbecuin’! You can smell it clear out to the canal! Ol’ Bash Rambo says they ain’t no truth in the rumor that barbecues pollutes the air. I think I’ll call in and ask him about curry! Haw!
(Bil exits)

BUD
(to boys)
I have been everywhere in town to ask if there are any jobs. There aren’t. The fast-food places hire only kids, and the hospital, where they advertised for typists, has a quota system. They have about a hundred black, Hispanic, and Asian women to hire before they they have another opening for one of us oppressive white males…So – so – so I spend most of my time in the back yard at a card table, reading. When I get in the way of Bil’s yard work, I beg some change from Sis and go read in the Cambodian donut shop, whose owner respects elderly scholars and lets me stay all day for one cup of coffee. There’s a woman I used to chat with there a little, a real estate dealer who lamented that she makes her living now only by handling foreclosures. I won‘t be seeing her anymore. Her father was badly injured when his tractor mower fell through the earth into a tunnel the woman’s demented son had secretly dug under their property so he could hide from his imagined demons. She had to move to Fresno where there’s a hopsital for her father and another for her son. And there was a nice woman at the end of Sis and Bud’s block who had discovered that her Air Force officer husband had molested all of their children and grandchildren for thirty years. When she went to his commanding officer to tell the story, they sent her to the Base doctors and got her hopelessly hooked on tranquilizers which she could not afford if her husband was discharged. She liked to hear funny stories from my carefree hippie days. I dropped by there yesterday, and her youngest daughter, just barely peeking around the door, told me, “Mama killed herself last night.” .I’m very sorry that the studio wanted Penn to change his script that awful way he described over the phone. Of course, he isn’t going to add the senseless violence and gore they want. I wouldn’t want him to. He has to stand up for the integrity of his work. All of us good folk in Flatwater feel that way. It says in the local paper that we are horrified by all the senseless violence and vile language in the media. Horrified. Horrified. Well, you’ll see when you get here for your visit in July. God, I can’t wait!

(Bud walks down to the mailbox and stands as if looking for someone, then sags as if unhappy.

BUD(to boys)

August first. Nineteen-ninety. Oh, dear boys. I’m so sorry that Bil treated you that way during your blessedly quick visit here. I don’t know what happened. He seemed so excited to meet you. I’m sure he doesn’t meet many new people. And things seemed to be going so well, too. And then for him to start behaving that way, storming in and out of the house glowering at you. I don’t blame you for leaving. I just wish I could have gone with you.

(He turns to Sis)

I’m so sorry if my friends were too outageous for Bil. I never would have thought they would be.

SIS (with a sigh)

Oh, lord, don’t worry about it. They didn’t offend him. You still don’t understand him. You and them started talking to each other just among yourselves for a minute. Whenever he sees people talking to each other and not to him, he thinks it’s because they don’t like him, and he stomps out. It’s hard not having any friends, because of the way he is about them. Nearly drove me crazy the first years we were married, plus add to that us moving to new bases all the time like we were, anyway. Since he retired and we’re here permanently, I had the church for friends. But they split into two last year over gay rights. I went with the ones that are against it, not because I believe like they do, but just because most of my friends went with that half. I don’t go much anymore. They meet in a funeral parlor and it’s not much like a real church nowadays. Things have gotten a little better now that I’m Mary Kay. The women under me are all nice women, most of them. But, well, you know, they’re all my employees really, and younger. They look up to me like I was their mother, not really very much like friends. (Brightens) Here, why don’t you come on my Mary Kay deliveries with me? He’ll be all right by the time we get back.

(SIS stands, removes her bathrobe, and is flawlessly dressed under it. She and Bud sit in the “car” and “drive away.”)

SIS: Light us each up one. We can smoke in my car.

BUD(to boys): So we had a pleasant afternoon delivering mascara and mat foundation, and then just as we pulled into the hillless, crestless, Hillcrest…

SIS: (Chatting brightly while driving) I’ve done a lot for my girls. They all need the money. Well, hell, we need it, too. We settled here so we could shop at the Base Commisary, but they’ve closed the whole Base now. The town took an awful licking financially from that, all the jobs and money that just disappeared overnight. Now there’s offers to make the Base into either a prison or an insane asylum. I don’t know which would be better. Prisons do really well for a town’s economy, but then the local girls start visiting them and marrying the prisoners, and – Oh, lord, look, more protestors—

BUD(to boys): I thought we were going to have that same flag scene again –

SIS: Oh, but look! They’re just all demanding the right to keep smoking in public places! (“Honks horn” and shouts) Right on, niocotine brothers and sisters! Right on! Keep the weed! Keep the Weed!

(Sis and Bud laugh hilariously together as they leave the car and head “inside”)

(Bill bursts on, wearing Walkman, excited out of his mind)
BIL
Shit! What are you doin’ out here? Don’t you know nothin’? Get your ass in here! That turd Sadaam Hussein has invaded Kuwait! Shit, Bush’ll show that asswipe! Get in here! Shit, didn’t you hear what I said? Get your ass in here and watch! Shit! We’re gonna have us a war!
(He grabs Bud by the arm and drags him into the family room. Sis leaves them, puts on her robe, and sits down reading and smoking again. The TV glares brightly and idiotic TV Noise grows to gigantic proportions. Sis at the table looks up, shakes her head, takes off her hearing aid, and holds her book in front of her face.)

Throughout the next sequence, BIL is intently watching the TV with his Walkman on and newspapers constantly fluttering. SIS sits at her table, reading through books slowly at first, then ever more rapidly. She should fnish several during this sequence, ever-faster, slamming a finished book down to the side and slamming a new one into place to read at moments that will emphasize the growing speed and volume of Bil’s and Bud’s dialogue.BUDmoves freely from his seat to the ottoman, to sit with Sis – he takes ever-more-frequent and urgent drags from her cigarette—to the seat by the canal. BIL can come and dragBUDback to the ottoman at moments of peak enthusiasm. [NOTE: At firstBUD, though disgusted by the news, is catty and ironic because he doesn’t believe that there will really come a war. Then with his line, “Suddenly it’s all stopped seeming funny,” he becomes terrified and enraged enough to distract evenBUDfrom the war news. At that point, SIS notices Bud has become angry, then pretends not to have noticed.]

BIL: Shee-it! That son-of-a-shit! Who does he think he is? Look at them refugees! Who the shit are they? (Listens to Walkman briefly) shit, they’re just a bunch of oil-rich, shit-eatin’ arab shieks! shit! (Listens to Walkman).

BUD: Hussein wants the oil.

BIL: Shit, he’s got the fourth biggest army in the world! Shit! He’s invincible! (Listens to Walkman.)

BUD: We armed him to help us defeat Iran.

BIL: Shit, he’s committed hundreds of atrocities! Shit, he’s a madman! (Listens to Walkman.)

BUD: We didn’t do a single thing to stop him.

BIL: Listen to this! Listen! Why, shit, he’s like Hitler! That’s what he is! He’s like that turd, Hitler! He’s a menace to the free world! He’s gotta be stopped! (Listens to Walkman.)

BUD: They’re telling Bil that Sadaam Hussein is just like Hitler. Like they just noticed it.

BIL: Shit, where did he get all them armaments?

BUD: I just told you.

BIL: They’re startin’ an investigation to find out who sold him them arms.

BUD: Wanna bet that it’s the Russians?

BIL: Shit, Sadaam’s got Russian advisors right there in his court.

BUD: They don’t nobody never put nothing over on me.

BIL: Shit, now Bush is sendin’ troops over there.

BUD: Let us sing “The Ballad of the Green Berets.”

BIL: Hot damn, Bush says he’s drawin’ a line in the sand!

BUD: It’s a John Wayne revival.

BIL: Shit, congressmen doesn’t want to pay for a war!

BUD: That’s all right, we fought the last two on credit.

BIL: Shit, them protestors is out again, protestin’ a war.

BUD: Well, we won’t let the Japanese have an army, so they bribe protestors with their military budget.

BIL: Look at all them poor boys out in the desert.

BUD: Got the desert gear together pretty quick, didn’t they?

BIL: And look, Bud, you oughta approve of this. They got all them women soldiers over there, too.

BUD: Oh, well, it’s all right to have a war if they let women play, too.

BIL: Bush is gettin’ tough! He says them protestors is desertin’ them soldiers!

BUD: Hey, he sent them there.

BIL: He says he can’t even bring them home because Congressmen won’t pay for it.

BUD: Here is where I lose touch. They’re there. They have their weapons. What are they waiting for? If they’re going to do it, do it and end it!

BIL: Bush ain’t gonna let no one trick him into startin’ no undeclared war!

BUD: Now I understand it.

BIL: What’s he gonna do? He can’t abandon all them poor soldier boys!

BUD: And girls.

BIL: And women!

BUD: Even though the women have been asked to stay out of sight of the Arabians, who don’t approve of seeing women wearing pants.

BIL: Look, the polls say people don’t want a war!

BUD: I want to believe that.

BIL: They say Congress ain’t gonna vote to let Bush have a war!

BUD: I really want to believe that.

BIL: Look, people is wearin’ yelow ribbons to show they support the troops!

BUD: I don’t want to believe that.

BIL: What’s that one sayin’? She said, “I support the troops, but I don’t support the war!”

BUD: The heterosexuals have some song about a yellow ribbon. You tie it around an oak tree to show that you still love someone. I don’t know. Suddenly every perpendicular object in Flatwater has a yellow plastic ribbon tied around it, including the newsboy. The entire town looks like a crime scene.

BIL: Hey, look, the polls is startin’ to turn around! More people want war!

BUD: Maybe they couldn’t figure out how to “support troops” without supporting a war.

BIL: Hey, look! Bush is fed up! He’s had it with that Democratic Congress.

BUD: Should I believe this?

BIL: Shit! Hot shit! Bush went to the U.N. and they’re gonna give him the money for the war!

BUD: (Shocked) And in an amazing end-run, George Bush outflanks all rational opposition and gets the go-ahead for the big gang-bang!

BIL: Shit! He’ll show em! We’ll show ‘em now!

(Throughout this speech of BUD’s, BIL, still hearing only the TV news and his Walkman, should say three sets of “Shit,” Hot shit!” and “Don’t shit me!” evenly spaced so that his last “Don’t shit me!” comes immediately after BUD’s shouted “Armageddon!”)

BUD: They’re actually going to do it. They’re actually going to start flinging leftover weapons, or experimental weapons they need to test, into that pathetic primitive country with its gimcrackery conscripted army. They’re going to blow up God-knows-how-many quivering Iraqis, already enslaved to that great insane ape, Hussein. They’re going to bomb and shell and missile and shoot them to save the oil we wouldn’t need if we’d put half the intelligence into making gasless cars that we’ve put into piling up the arms of Armageddon!

HAVEN’T WE SEEN ENOUGH OF THIS?

BIL: (Noticing BUD) Huh? What? (Takes off Walkman.) What did you say?

BUD: For the love of God, how can we do this again? Haven’t we seen enough of this? Enough blood? Enough blood and lies?

BIL
What the shit are you talkin’ about? We ain’t even started shootin’ yet.

BUD
But we’re going to. We’re going to do it all again!

BIL
Aw, I know, you think this is gonna be another shitty mess like Vietnam, but listen…
(holds Walkman out to Bud)
Bush swears this won’t be no Vietnam. We’re gonna go in there and clean ‘em out and finish it up and do the job right this time.

BUD
(to boys)
Dear God in heaven, he’s got them. All these skulking ex-officers like Bil, hiding in their houses, defoliating their lawns, sleeping with their twenty-twos beside their beds, he’s got them! He’s told them this will erase the shame of our not stopping Hitler, the horror of our losing in Vietnam! He’s made them need this war the way the commercials on Nickelodeon make the kids believe they need the Bouncer Ball or the Barby-and Transformer Marriage Chapel! He can’t offer anyone a future, so he’s offering them a chance to improve their pasts. He’s got them! It’s going to happen! They’re going to—-

BIL
Whooooooo-eeeeee, holy shit! There it goes! The first missile! The first blow for freedom! The first strike of the war! Holy suckin’ shit!

(Bil goes to dinner table without taking his eyes off the TV or removing his Walkman. Sis sets the table while Bil brings out food. Bud joints them.)

Shit, what’s she sayin’, the causes of this war has to be looked for in the psychology needs of George Bush?

BUD
Because there’s no rational justification for it.

BIL
Wouldn’t you go in to help a neighbor if you saw his house bein’ attacked?

BUD
They’re not our neighbors, and we armed their attackers.

BIL
If we don’t stop ‘em, they’ll invade Saudi Arabia.

BUD
Saudi Arabia won’t let women drive cars. Saudi Arabia has asked that Jewish and Christian soldiers hide their crosses and Stars of David to avoid offending. Saudi Arabia throws homosexuals off of cliffs.

BIL
But they’re our ally.

BUD
Why?

SIS
(Fooling with hearing aid)
Well, I think women can be as good soldiers as men.

BIL
What’s this one sayin’ now? She’s losin’ her home because her soldier pay won’t cover her mortgage?

BUD
God, the rich send these people off to murder to protect their oil profits and their munitions profits, you’d think they could at least pay their rents.

BIL
Yeah, but if they started doin’ that, then all them soldiers would move into million dollar penthouses.

BUD
(just about at the breaking point)
Why? Why do you automatically say that? Why do you think everybody in the world is so dishonest? Crooked? Out to get everybody else? If you’re so convinced everybody in this country is completely untrustworthy, why did you agree to fight in two wars to protect them?

BIL
(in a red rage, standing)
Yes, yes, yes, they are dishonest! They’re all crooks! Everybody’s out to get you! You have to watch every minute or somebody will put somethin’ over on you! And I didn’t fight for them! I wouldn’t lift a finger if it was one of them. I fought for my family! I did it all for my family!
(Bil is holding a knife, which seems very much to be at the ready to attack Bud. There is a frozen moment. Then Bil throws down the knife and storms out of the house)

SIS
(After a moment)
Well, I don’t care what he says, I think women can be every bit as good soldiers as men.

BUD
(to boys)
Dear boys, Today he asked me to ride with him to the lawnmower repair shop

(Bud sits it car, Bil fastens his seat belt)

BIL
Here, let me get that for you.

BUD
(to boys)
He broke a blade mowing in the dark last night. All the way to town and back he was super nice to me.

BIL
You comfortable over there? You want the air conditioner

BUD
(to boys)
He told me all the gossipy little stories about every inch of real estate on the way.

BIL
They graft almond trees onto them pecan trees trunks to get a better yield. They had to tear down that fillin’ station and pay a million dollars to de-pollute the ground under it from leaked gas. Them Cambodians runs all them roadside fruit stands now.

BUD
(To boys)
He was very careful.

BIL
Of course, a lot of them is good hard-workin’ people.

BUD
(To boys)
He told me a lot about a subject he is expert on…navigating by the fixed stars.

BIL
See, you take a fix on one of them stars, and you can’t never go wrong. You trust them and you can get right in there and drop your load on a enemy gasoline facility and turn right around and get your men back alive.

BUD
(To boys)
There is a human being in there, frightened and hurt.

BIL
Shit, we shouldn’t never have been there in the first place. You’re a young man, they wave a uniform at you, they tell you somebody’s threatenin’ your family, you’ll go out and kill for ‘em. For the rich people, that’s who all makes money off of wars. It’s all for them, all for their profits. They’re out to get you. We shouldn’t have never been over there at all.

BUD
(To boys)
And so we came back reconciled. He drove…he’s an excellent driver when there’s no other traffic for him to yell “shit” at…he drove around the Flatwater water tower, with the pretty peaceful pastel globe painted on it. At a certain angle, the sunlight hitting it revealed the shiny area where they had painted over the “F” word. There it was, still occasionally glistening in the sky to the whole quiet town…but I didn’t say it, and of course Bil would never say it. We were getting along. I even made him laugh once. (To Bil) God, don’t you get tired of seeing those yellow ribbons everywhere? I’ll bet Bush’s son bought stock in a yellow-ribbon factory. (Bil laughs). (To boys) he likes any story that shows anyone as corrupt and dishonest. Given sufficient time, I could learn to amuse him.
(They get out of car and come into the family room. Sis looks up. Bil throws his arm around Bud.)
If it hadn’t been for Jane Fonda.

BIL
Honey, get your nose out of that book. Do you know what your little budder said? He said the reason why they wanted us all to tie all of them yellow ribbons around everything is that George Bush’s son probably bought a controllin’ interest in a yellow ribbon factory! Haw!
(He slaps Bud on the back)
Let’s catch up on what’s happenin’ in the war.
(He turns on TV)
Oh, shit, look! They’re bringin’ bodies out of a bunker.
(He jams Walkman on his head)
Hell, ol Bash says that’s enemy footage, sent out by the Iraqis. It’s okay. It’s just an Iraqi bunker. Them ain’t none of our people. Shit!
(Bud moves slowly closer to the screen, horrified by the pictures)
Wouldn’t you know it? Them protestors is sayin’ that was a civilian bunker, that them is civilian bodies, and that our boys knew it. Shit, Bash says that ain’t so, that it was a well-known military control intelligence bunker. Shit! Bash has a caller on now. Listen. The caller says he knows for a fact that that was a military bunker, and that them bodies…oh, y’all listen to this shit!…that them bodies is probably political enemies of Hussein’s that he killed and stuck in that bunker just to give the United Nations a bad name! See, Bud? See what they do to protestors in Iraq?

BUD
(To boys)
Worse than anything that the studio wants you to put into your script, Penn…. (BIL: Shit!) …Worse than anything you’ve ever seen in a nightmare, the bodies kept coming out of that hideous hole in the ground, red, blood-splashed flesh, looking like today’s pasta special, like puke burritos microwaved at the Park and Barf, like leftover wax blobs congealing on the floor of my shop when I made red, white and blue candles!

BIL
Shit, listen to this!
(He drags Bud close to him and they each listen over one of the earphones on the Walkman headset)
It’s one of them crazy old ladies that phones in! Bash always lets them make fools of themselves!

BUD
(muttering in echo of caller)
“I don’t think they ought to show us these pictures. I think there’s too much violence on TV already”
(Bil and Bud laugh together)

BUD
Oh, my god.

BIL
Ain’t that the shits? Ain’t she a idiot? People is really idiots. Aint’t they?

SIS
Well, it’s good to see you two getting along together for once.

BIL
She’s even stupider than you, Bud.

BUD
Sis?

BIL
No that caller. Ain’t she stupid?

BUD
Very.

BIL
(Tousling Bud’s hair)
You know I’m just kidding, don’t you Bud? You know we love you. You know we want you here.

BUD
Yes, I know. Thank you. You put up with a lot from me.

BIL
Shit, we love you Buddy-boy. Oh, shit, he got another one…Listen!
(Once again they listen simultaneously)
Hear her?

BUD
(echoing caller)
“No wonder there’s so much of this pro-Hussein propaganda on CNN like saying our boys bombed a civilian bunker. CNN is full of communist propaganda. After all, we all know Ted Turner is sleeping with that Jane Fonda.”
(The two men rare back and laugh like fools.)
Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Hussein a communist! Oh, God!

BIL
Ain’t that rich! Ain’t that somethin’! Ain’t that too much!
(They relax .Bil again puts his arm around Bud.)
Hell, you got to laugh sometime.

BUD
(Puts his arm around Bil)
Yes, yes you do. You do. Sometimes you do.

BIL
Hell, she’s probably sleepin’ with Hussein.

BUD
Huh? What? That old lady? And they had a lover’s spat?

BIL
Hell, no. I mean Hanoi Hannah.

BUD
(Pause, then)
You mean Jane Fonda?

BIL
Hell, yes, Hanoi Hannah. That communist shit.

BUD
Bil. You can’t mean that. She’s a vigorous anti-fascist.

BIL
Hell, don’t tell me nothin’ about that whore. She’s a whore.

BUD
Bil, Jane Fonda has been a consistent fighter for human rights and peace…

BIL
Aw, shit, don’t give me none of that. That whore went behind enemy lines in Vietnam and betrayed her own people to the enemy.

BUD
Bil, she risked her life and her career and being condemned as traitor to try to show us all what a horror that war was… Vietnam was.

BIL
Hell, what does she know about it? Was she there? I was there! Don’t say nothin’ good to me about that communist bitch!

BUD
But she WAS there!

BIL
Well, she shouldn’t of been! Shit!

SIS
(Not looking up from her book)
Watch your language, Bil.

BIL
Well, shit, if you can smoke up the house I can say anything I want in it. It’s my house too!
(To Bud)
That woman sided with the enemy in time of war!

BUD
(Trying to make a joke of it)
Who? Sis?

BIL
(Not to be placated)
No, no, no, goddamit, no! That Jane Fonda whore! She told everybody we was bombin’ civilian targets!

BUD
Which we were…

BIL
I never bombed no civilian targets! And all her sayin’ so don’t make it true!

BUD
Bil,….

BIL
And even if I did, even if I had have, all them so-called civilians was hidin’ Vietcong soldiers! They was all Vietcong! You couldn’t trust any of them! They was hidin’ grenades in their shirts and walkin’ in and blowin’ up G.I. bars.

BUD
Bil, not all of them.

BIL
And if they wasn’t how could you tell which ones of them was and wasn’t? They wasn’t none of them innocent! They wasn’t none of them you could trust! They never wanted us there and they killed all of us they could to get us out! We never should of helped them! We never had no business there in the first place! I hated that war! Hated it!

BUD
Bil, that’s wonderful, that’s exactly what Jane Fonda believed! See, you agree with her! She hated the war too, and had the guts to stand up and say so!

BIL
And so all our soldiers was treated like shit when we come back, and spit on because of people like her!

BUD
Bil, everybody was crazy from that war! You can’t blame her. Long before she entered the protest movement, hundreds of thousands of us had marched against the war! I marched dozens of times!

BIL
But them marches called our soldiers pigs!

BUD
Bil, not all of us! Most of those kids were very young. When they understood we were carrying on an unjust war, they marched against it. And when their own parents sent police against us with guns and dogs and gas, some of them went crazy! My God, Bil, try to understand what we went through, with cops and dogs coming at us, and us totally unarmed.

BIL
Armed? What did you need to be armed for? When was they violence against you?

BUD
Bil! Everywhere! Three green berets in Greenwich Village threw paving blocks at me! I was carrying a poster saying “Bring our boys back alive!” and they threw blocks of paving stone at me! Here, I had to have stitches.
(Parts his hair to show scar)

BIL
How do you know them was Green Berets? Them could have been anybody in uniforms!

BUD
Well, yes, and those could have beenCIA men in ponchos who spat at our soldiers! What does it matter? What does it matter if we saw that the war was wrong before you did? You see it now, too. It’s over. Let’s not do it again in Iraq! Or anywhere! Not even here!

BIL
You don’t understand! You wasn’t there! You don’t know what It did to us to hear all that shit! Don’t lecture me about that Jane Fonda slut! If I had her here I’d kill her!

BUD
Bil, she wasn’t to blame. Anymore than you were. Anymore than I was. I marched. I spoke. I protested. I’d have gone to Vietnam if I could. We all know it was wrong. Don’t hate her. You might as well kill yourself.
(They are standing facing one another. Bil is almost paralyzed with rage.)
……You might as well kill me.

BIL
(Finally)
You’re family. You’re fuckin’ family.
(Bil suddenly turns, sits, grabs papers and Walkman, turns up TV noise.)
But don’t talk to me about that….shitty cunt. Let’s watch the war. It’s just a war. That man is like Hitler. It ain’t goin’ to be like Vietnam. We can win it. And we will. By bombin’ only military targets. And we will. It ain’t like Jane Fonda..Vietnam. Everyone’s behind it. Everyone supports it. And we can win.
(He holds up a finger to indicate he’s echoing his Walkman)
Analysts predict all offers of peace will be rejected. A ground war will commence. Iraq will be humbled.
(In his own voice)
Shit! I guess Bush showed them people. Thought he was a wimp. Don’t nobody never put nothin’ over on him.
(Bil buries himself in paper, the TV, the Walkman)

BUD
( to no one in particular)
I … I think I’ll go outside.

SIS
(without looking up)
Wear something. It’s cold.

BUD
(startled)
Then you could hear us all along?

(Sis sighs and sets her book aside, holding her place with a finger.)

SIS
I left him once. For four years. For a fortune teller. Lord, that man could make the Tarot cards sing. Bil stayed with the kids. We were in San Antonio, then, living in young officer’s housing on the base. I think it cost him some advancements, and some promotions, having the kids to feed and keep dressed. But maybe not. You know how he is. I don’t know if he’d have ever advanced a whole lot farther. He wrote me then, those four years – more than he ever did when he was away at war. When Garrick – that’s the Tarot reader – died, Bil asked me to come back. He bought me a car for a coming-home present. A white Plymouth. Lord, he was proud to have saved up enough money to buy me that car. He never asked a word about the time I had been away. Never objected when I said I wanted to work and earn my own money now. Then, when it got clear I was going to win my first Cadillac, he got so unhappy. He had been so happy when I came back, I’ve never seen him happy like that again since winning my first Cadillac. He got mad and hurt when I won it, and for a while he flirted with a young wife, named Nancy, that lived across the street then. She looked like me, or like I used to have looked before I left him and came back. But they never did anything, not that I would have cared. But he couldn’t do anything, I realized after a while, he couldn’t do anything that he thought might make me leave him. He can’t be alone, that’s all. I never saw a man so much like that. He’ll put up with anything or anybody, you wouldn’t believe it, just not to be alone.
(She sighs and slides her book back before her, flips it open with her finger, and begins reading again.. Bud walks slowly out to stand beside the flagpole)

Dear boys: It is cold. The flag hangs still. The educational earth hangs among the fixed, unchanging stars. ..I feel as though I’m living on the moon.

-Curtain-

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: