Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hands Born Dirty

A play I wrote that was accepted by Burnside Writers Collective and the bastards never posted it or got back to me, and I feel I can no longer neglect my followers by waiting; plus the piece is time relevant (albeit no true titles are given, so its relevancy is far more reaching (a lesson learned from Camus' THE PLAGUE)) Have at it fans.

Hands Born Dirty    A play by ALec Bryan

The scene: Inside a small hut somewhere in Africa. The hut is made of earth-tone bricks, and there is no furniture or adornments in the room except for a row of machine guns along the back wall. The hut is near a road, and occasionally the sound of a car or truck driving by is heard. The scene is of Hitler Damu. He is dressed in army fatigues, two sizes too large. The scene begins when a clumsy cameraman, perhaps Damu’s recruit or cohort, picks up the camera, turns it on along with the light it is equipped with. Damu doesn’t know the recording has begun. His cheek muscles are tense; beneath them he is gritting his teeth. The veins running through his temples stick out, and his bloodshot eyes, hidden deep in his dark skin, express numerous possibilities: fatigue, poor diet, insomnia, drug addiction, fanaticism or genetics.

Hitler Damu: (staring at the camera) Is it on already? (angry and trying to gain composure) You were supposed to give me a countdown you idiot. Never mind. I will begin. (straightening himself) My name is Hitler Damu. I am a powerful man and a member of Stalin’s Sons, a revolutionary group with numerous cells around the world. I will give an account of cell number 654, and, per the leaders’ orders, pretend the camera is a friend with whom I am discussing certain matters as if at a coffee shop. I will now refer to the camera as Hitler’s Ghost. I find it will be easiest for me to play two parts.  Why don’t we start, Hitler, by you asking the obvious question? I see you eyeing my armory.

Hitler’s Ghost: (Damu plays both roles and moves each time he asks or answers questions to show each side of his profile, the left being the ghost) Why so many guns?

Hitler Damu: No real reason. For protection, perhaps, maybe intimidation, although I have never needed them to intimidate. Have I ever shot anyone? Of course not. We revolutionists are pacifists. Known as P.B.Ks, Pacifists Born Killers, we understand certain things which make us guilty.

Hitler’s Ghost: I’m not sure I follow you.

Hitler Damu: Let me start with my education. Perhaps, yes, that is a good place to start. Then no one can call me a crazy nigger. Born and raised in a poor African village, I never would have had the opportunity for an education had my affluent father not been the governor—I’ll use the American idiom—of the region. Filching American grants, money that would have been set aside for USAID or for immunization in the area or Aids awareness and prevention groups, my father “borrowed” the money and matriculated me at Cal Berkeley. I studied chemical engineering. It is here, and I say this because the leaders of Stalin’s Sons live under constant surveillance by the U.S Government, so their identity is no secret, that I met a fellow engineer and a biophysics major who began indoctrinating me about their revolution.

Hitler’s Ghost: I don’t want a history. I want an explanation about these so called P.B.Ks.

Hitler Damu: Yes, Yes, (agitated) I am getting to this. After a couple weeks of reading books and pamphlets about the cause, they—my fellow engineer and his friend—asked me how many lives were murdered or sacrificed so that I could get my education. None, I said. Then they pushed me down on my bed, standing over me, and Vladimir told me my father had killed many, and I was a P.B.K. They explained the term, but I still felt confused, so then they furthered their explanation. How much money does each year cost for you to be here? asked Fidel. I told them student life cost about fifty thousand per year, plus the extra twenty-five thousand I received, so seventy-five thousand times the four years and double or triple that for the two years in the graduate program. All totaled, somewhere around seven hundred and fifty thousand to a million dollars. For a poor black African, said Vladimir then spat. Where would that money have gone? Fidel badgered me. I told them I didn’t know. They said that didn’t make me less guilty, and that I was a belligerent P.B.K. Then they pulled out their intelligence, maps and brochures and government lending figures, and they tallied the death toll of my being in America the North. They had equations to figure out how many children in the area I was from would not be immunized and would die, malnutrition deaths, aids deaths, bad roads, lack of medical supplies and on and on they went. Do you want to know how many people you have killed by getting an education? Vladimir asked, almost boasting. I felt sick, but I wanted to know. By our calculations, he said, no less and no more than sixty to seventy innocent people would die while I stayed at Cal Berkeley.

Hitler’s Ghost: That’s enough to make you a serial killer.

Hitler Damu: (fuming) I know the implications! I don’t need a smug reminder.

Hitler’s Ghost: So then what?

Hitler Damu: So then I learned my father was a killer, and any government, especially big government would run our revolution for us, and they would make their children killers. Sure they do all the killing, and us pacifists sit by and watch and wait until the right moment and then we will take power, and we will no longer let the innocent die.

Hitler’s Ghost: Do you smoke weed?

Hitler Damu: Yes, but not until I got to Cal. But I don’t see what this has to do with anything.

Hitler’s Ghost: How goes the revolution in cell 654?

Hitler Damu: It is going great. Roads are still under construction. Medical aid is slow and people die daily of curable and easily curable diseases. Money for schools, construction, and a solid infrastructure is embezzled and used to support factions with guns and bad intentions. Pure anarchy and total death by government are but years away. Meanwhile our numbers grow stronger by the day and our people have learned how to tap the government sources and bleed them more than they know how to stop the bleeding. We have storehouses full of vaccines, ammo, food and other needful things.

Hitler’s Ghost: What now?

Hitler Damu: (A strain of tiredness stretches across his face) We wait for the ball to start rolling. It starts with America, specifically, USA. Over and out. (camera fades)

Scene II: Downtown a busy Toronto street is a small store wedged between a computer repair shop and a beauty salon. It has glass windows and a small sign which reads “A Store.” Inside the store, there is sparse furniture: a desk at the entrance, a computer on the desk, a TV with a VCR and DVD player beneath the stand, a bookshelf runs along one wall (some of the titles: The Gulag Archipelago, Kolmya Tales, The Magic Mountain, The Trial, Blood Meridian and a slew of biographies, engineering, biophysics, political science and philosophy books), a Francis Bacon painting, “Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” hangs on one wall and a poster of Warren Zevon’s “Genius,” a skeleton with a joint in its mouth, on the other. Seated on the thrift store couch are Vladimir Gauthier and Fidel Thomas. Clothed in tight jeans and thrift store shirts, one of which reads “Fetch This” and has a dog giving the middle finger, Vladimir has just removed Hitler Damu’s tape from the player and turns to Fidel.

Vladimir Gauthier: (laughing) That is one crazy nigger, regardless of what he says.

Fidel Thomas: But loyal, and it looks like you got him hooked on weed.

Vladimir Gauthier: Well that is all the tapes. I’ll put this with the others. We can burn them all later. (Vladimir walks down the small hallway and enters a room then exits and rejoins Fidel)

Fidel Thomas: Should we begin our own tape?

Vladimir Gauthier: Yes, but this year, let’s film it differently. Let’s get back to talking about Stalin’s last years and the Mikhail Nevsky ordeal and “Stalin’s Revelations.”

Fidel Thomas: We could do that. But we have limited time. The great American performer comes on in about twenty to thirty minutes. This could jumpstart the entire pacifist revolution. We can’t miss it.

Vladimir Gauthier: Oh, we won’t miss it. (directing to a young kid who has been sitting on a bean bag in a corner the author failed to notice when first glancing the store.) Robespierre! Get the camera rolling you lazy bastard.

Karl Robespierre: (lazily getting up) I got it. I got it. You two queers ready? (Robespierre points the camera and with his fingers gives a silent 3, 2, 1)

Vladimir Gauthier: Let us not mince words nor add bombastic phrases to what it is we wish to tell.

Fidel Thomas: Yes, it has been brought to our attention that a recent Russian program gave the Russian viewers a chance to vote on the most famous Russian of all time. Though we have not seen the final of the ten programs, we know that with one show remaining, Stalin and Nicholas the II are neck and neck, as the saying goes. Why revere a monster some might ask? A hero or villain others might say. We don’t know for sure. We can say Stalin was deranged, especially during his last years and as Nevsky, Stalin’s only confidant in his last years while he remained more and more in isolation at his country home, has pointed out in “Stalin’s Revelations,” he may have been a victim himself.

Vladimir Gauthier: (excited and cutting in)We’ve got to clarify who Nevsky is and how he got such intimate writings from a man who once claimed that “God had no relatives,” and proceeded to kills all of his. If you know anything about Kuntsevo, Stalin’s country home, you will know it was a mighty fortress indeed. If one got inside the fortress, mazes with bells interspersed, to alarm Stalin of an approaching intruder, would greet them. To avoid successful assassinations, Stalin had four identical rooms made, consisting of a small bed and a night table, lacking the color of Van Gogh’s precious room. But here is the interesting part…

Fidel Thomas: (taking back the lead) A fact even historians fail to see. (leaning forward into the camera and changing his voice) Stalin only slept in three of the four bedrooms. What, might you ask, is the fourth bedroom used for? Enter Nevsky. Mikhail Nevsky, be it Stalin’s alter ego, or an actual person, is of little significance, and all attempts to historical locate him will end in vain. He existed. He lived in the fourth bedroom, and Stalin, late at night and in fits of hysteria, which would cause his eyes to appear as glossy as fish skin and as distant as two stars, confided in this man what he would confide in none other, or perhaps he confided to Nevsky the very things he himself feared to say aloud, and only when total paranoia and slight schizophrenia manifested themselves to Stalin, would he begin his strange speeches which Nevsky has preserved for us.

Vladimir Gauthier: This invaluable document, written in pen and on pages discolored through time, begins with the saying, Nevsky’s or Stalin’s, who knows, “These revelations will rise from the dust at a time when the world is in peril and when three or four or a thousand shining stars will be willing to appreciate the historical weight the message carries, and these bright stars will stop the wheel of history from turning.”

Fidel Thomas: A bold declaration indeed, but if you read further, you will see, Stalin knew more than what he led on, and he also knew he had long been a poor spoke on the wheel, nothing more.

Vladimir Gauthier: What we have recently been focusing on, though the writings are loaded with immense and invaluable advice and at times a waxing of poetical meter, is Stalin’s fixation that killing was necessary for socialism, and, had he lessened the killings, all power would have been lost and he would have been defeated by the first man more bloodthirsty than himself. He also notes that the Gulags were necessary, that uprooting his closest confidants and sending them away as treasonous bugs, created the necessary fear that made the whole system work.

Fidel Thomas; But this doesn’t mean Stalin liked it. In fact, to the contrary, he only did what was necessary. He blamed socialism. He blamed himself as well. The moment he stepped on a platform as dictator he became a spoke in the wheel of history and functioned as the role necessitated—nothing more. Socialism, he would repetitively say or have Nevsky write, leads to a dictator and dictators lead to blood. There is no other way. It is the same with Christianity. All systems will ultimately fail.

Vladimir Gauthier: And after many nights of repeating these same sentiments to Nevsky, of brooding over his own role, his role like a crown placed on a king, could not be discarded until he had ran his course or one more powerful could remove him from his role by the shedding of even more blood. He longed for a world that understood the evils of government. He had Nevsky write down the rudimentary elements of the P.B.Ks and of the Stalin’s Sons revolutionaries.

Fidel Thomas: Yes, it is during these last days of sickness, before total heart failure and the brain aneurysm that his thinking seems most lucid. Stalin saw a time when men would break free from guilt, walk away from government, especially socialism which speeds along the process of annihilation and turns people into numbers, and they would wait for the government to exterminate its own people and eventually itself, and then they would walk out from the ashes, the phoenix of civilization, and let man govern himself, in small tribes, in city-states, with no government at all. Then, he believed, no one could be a spoke in the wheel because the wheel would have stopped turning.

Vladimir Gauthier: Oh there is so much more to speak on. We have but broached the topic, but the show from America is about to air. We must end the filming for this year, but not before we mention how Stalin, or Nevsky—Nevsky or Stalin ended “Stalin’s Revelations” with a quote from good old Friedrich Engels: “Terror is the rule of a people who are themselves terrorized.” Interesting statement—Interesting especially as we watch the stock market plummet and unemployment rates skyrocket in the US of A. And what do they suggest need be done. Expand the government; diminish the rights of the people: Increase security by limiting freedoms. Scary stuff when one….

Fidel Thomas: The show is about to start. Robespierre, turn that camera off and go put the tape with the rest of the garbage. Then come sit down and watch what the great entertainer has to say from the Unites States of America.

Scene III: Backstage of a theater reminiscent of The Grand Ole Opry, a young black man, ten at the oldest, has on a perfectly fitted tuxedo, shoes that still look wet they shine so bright, a red bow tie tilted to the left and a felt  top hat in his right hand. His face illustrates the nervousness of one who knows how to push the nervousness aside once the show starts. His hair is a two inch clouded afro, and when the light hits it right, it shines at the tips. His most dominant features consist of two eyes, dark but beautiful and a smile revealing teeth so bright they appear as if a black light hovered over them. Rich white men, perhaps representing big business, occupy the main seats, along with their plastic wives. In the upper section, poor blacks and whites mingle, talk about NASCAR, about crops, about the long wait in the unemployment lines. It is these poor people who begin stomping their feet along with chanting, “Bring out Abdus Sattar! Bring out Abdus Sattar!” The young lad breathes in deep once then leaps onto the stage with his tapping shoes.

Abdus Sattar: (still tapping) Thank you ladies and gentlemen. What is the best way to skin a rabbit? (the audience gives varying answers) First make sure it’s dead. (Abdus stops tapping with a crisscross move then holds out his hands waiting for applause. The crowd goes wild.)

Abdus Sattar: (tapping a more difficult rhythm) Who is the greatest exploiter of all time?
(Abdus taps madly while he listens to the answers: Genghis Khan, Hitler, Lenin, Caesar, Christians, Jews, the British—loud laughter—the New York Yankees—more wild laughter) Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and more wrong. It is the capitalist. (he ends his routine on this mark and holds his hands out for another applause. The crowd roars with laughter)

Abdus Sattar: (removing his shoes) My bowling pins please. Ladies and gentlemen, while I perform this great trick of juggling, I ask you another question. What is easier to remember, a name or a number? (he does numerous difficult tricks with the pins, including having one land on his nose) Let us say I have nine pins. And we say the red pin is one; the white pin is two and so forth. Let us also say the red pin is Alice Dance-a-lot; the white pin is Benniford Cosmopolus and so forth. Let us up the ante folks. I will throw a pin high in the air, and if you can give it a number before it comes down I will catch it. (he throws the pins and numbers continue to be yelled out so he catches them all) Now let us play the same game with names. (at first names come forth rapidly, but as time wears on, people are slow to think of names and Abdus drops the pins, letting their dull thud echo away)

Abdus Sattar: (after numerous and similar antics comes to his final performance) May the lovely Madame Rupprecht bring forth the lion. While she is bringing the lion forth ladies and gentlemen, let me ask my last question of the night. I need it silent. I need it deadly silent. I have in front of me a ferocious lion. They are known to kill, but I don’t think this one will. In fact I am sure of it. Now ladies and gentlemen, the question: Is giving the government more control really a dangerous thing? (he sticks his head in the mouth of the lion then looks towards the crowd while they ponder. He removes his head from the lion’ jaws unscathed. The crowd roars; the boy bows politely and smiles once more, revealing his tremendous white teeth. The curtain closes while the crowd continues to cheer)

Scene IV: Back at “A Store” in Toronto. Fidel has turned off the TV after the curtain closes.

Vladimir Gauthier: Is it time.

Fidel Thomas: I believe it is just a matter of time. Just a matter of time.


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    1. Thank you. I just saw this post today and it made me glad I wrote this piece.