HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE by Kurt Vonnegut ACT ONE SCENE ONE SILENCE. Pitch blackness. Animal eyes begin to glow in the darkness. Sounds of the jungle climax in animals fighting. A SINGER is heard singing the first bars of "All God's Chillun Got Shoes." HAROLD, LOOSELEAF, PENELOPE, and WOODLY stand in a row in the darkness, facing the audience. They are motionless. A city skyline in the early evening materializes outside the windows. The lights come up on the living room of a rich man's apartment, which is densely furnished with trophies of hunts and wars. There is a front door, a door to the master bedroom suite, and a corridor leading to other bedrooms, the kitchen and so on. PENELOPE How do you do. My name is Penelope Ryan. This is a simple-minded play about men who enjoy killing--and those who don't. HAROLD I am Harold Ryan, her husband. I have killed perhaps two hundred men in wars of various sorts--as a professional soldier. I have killed thousands of other animals as well--for sport. WOODLY I am Dr. Norbert Woodly--a physician, a healer. I find it disgusting and frightening that a killer should be a respected member of society. Gentleness must replace violence everywhere, or we are doomed. PENELOPE (to LOOSELEAF) Would you like to say something about killing, Colonel? LOOSELEAF (embarrassed) Jesus--I dunno. You know. What the heck. Who knows? PENELOPE Colonel Harper, retired now, dropped an atom bomb on Nagasaki during the Second World War, killing seventy-four thousand people in a flash. LOOSELEAF I dunno, boy. PENELOPE You don't know? LOOSELEAF It was a bitch. PENELOPE Thank you. (to all) You can leave now. We'll begin. WOODLY (to the audience, making a peace sign) Peace! All but PENELOPE exit. PENELOPE (to the audience) This is a tragedy. When it's done, my face will be as white as the snows of Kilimanjaro. (hyena laughs) My husband, who kills so much, has been missing for eight years. He disappeared in a light plane over the Amazon Rain Forest, where he hoped to find diamonds as big as cantaloupes. His pilot was Colonel Looseleaf Harper, who dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. (hyena laughs) I should explain the doorbells in this apartment. They were built by Abercrombie and Fitch. They are actual recordings of animal cries. The back doorbell is a hyena, which you've just heard. The front doorbell is a lion's roar. (to the wings) Would you let them hear it please? (lion roars) Thank you. PAUL, her twelve-year-old son, enters from corridor, a sensitive, neatly dressed little rich boys. PENELOPE And this is my son, Paul. He was only four years old when his father disappeared. PAUL (radiantly, sappily) He's coming back, Mom! He's the bravest, most wonderful man who ever lived. PENELOPE (to audience) I told you this was a simple-minded play. PAUL Maybe he'll come back tonight! It's his birthday. PENELOPE I know. PAUL Stay home tonight! PENELOPE (ruefully, for they have been over this before) Oh, Paul-- PAUL You're married! You've already got a husband! PENELOPE He's a ghost! PAUL He's alive! PENELOPE Not even Mutual of Omaha thinks so anymore. PAUL If you have to go out with some guy--can't he be more like Dad? (sick) Herb Shuttle and Norbert Woodly-- can't you do better than those two freaks? PENELOPE (resentfully) Thank you, kind sir. PAUL A vacuum cleaner salesman and a fairy doctor. PENELOPE A what kind of doctor? PAUL A fairy--a queer. Everybody in the building knows he's a queer. PENELOPE (knowing better) That's an interesting piece of news. PAUL You're the only woman he ever took out. PENELOPE Not true. PAUL Still lives with his mother. PENELOPE You know she has no feet! You want him to abandon his mother, who has no husband, who has no money of her own, who has no feet? PAUL How did she lose her feet? PENELOPE In a railroad accident many years ago. PAUL I was afraid to ask. PENELOPE Norbert was just beginning practice. A real man would have sold her to a catfood company, I suppose. As far as that goes, J. Edgar Hoover still lives with his mother. PAUL I didn't know that. PENELOPE A lot of people don't. PAUL J. Edgar Hoover plays sports. PENELOPE I don't really know. PAUL To only exercise Dr. Woodly ever gets is playing the violin and making that stupid peace sign. (makes the peace sign and says the word effeminately) Peace. Peace. Peace, everybody. Lion doorbell roars. PENELOPE (cringing) I hate that thing. PAUL It's beautiful. He goes to door, admits WOODLY, whom he loathes openly. WOODLY (wearing street clothes, carrying a rolled-up poster under his arm) Peace, everybody--Paul, Penelope. PAUL You're taking Mom out tonight? WOODLY (to PENELOPE) You're going out? PENELOPE Herb Shuttle is taking me to a fight. WOODLY Take plenty of cigars. PENELOPE (an apology, secret from PAUL) We made the date three months ago. WOODLY I must take you to an emergency ward sometime--on a Saturday night. That's also fun. I came to see Selma, as a matter of fact. PENELOPE She quit this afternoon. PAUL We don't have a maid any more. WOODLY Oh? PENELOPE The animals made her sneeze and cry too much. WOODLY I'm glad somebody finally cried. Every time I come in here and see all this unnecessary death, I want to cry. (winking at PAUL, acknowledging PAUL's low opinion of him) I don't cry, of course. Not manly, you know. Did she try antihistamines? PENELOPE They made her so sleepy she couldn't work. WOODLY Throw out all this junk. Burn it! This room crawls with tropical disease. PAUL Everything stays as it is! WOODLY A monument to a man who thought that what the world needed most was more rhinoceros meat. PAUL (hotly) My father! WOODLY I apologize. But you didn't know him, and neither did I. How's your asthma? PAUL Don't worry about it. WOODLY How's the fungus around your thumbnail? PAUL (concealing the thumb) It's fine! WOODLY It's jungle rot! This room is making everybody sick! This is your family doctor speaking now. (unrolling the poster) Here--I brought you something else to hang on your wall, for the sake of variety. PENELOPE (reading) "War is not healthy for children and other living things." How lovely. WOODLY No doubt Paul thinks it stinks. Lion doorbell roars. WOODLY I hate that thing. PAUL (going to the door) Keeps fairies away! He admits HERB SHUTTLE, who carries an Electrolux vacuum cleaner. SHUTTLE (to PAUL affectionately, touching him) Hi kid. (seeing WOODLY) Would you look what the car dragged in. WOODLY I'm glad you brought your vacuum cleaner. SHUTTLE Is that a fact? WOODLY That maid just quit. The place is a mess. You can start in the master bedroom. PENELOPE Please-- SHUTTLE He's not anybody to tell somebody else what to do in a master bedroom. PENELOPE I'll get ready, Herb. I didn't expect you this soon. (to all) Please--won't everybody be nice to everybody else while I'm gone? All freeze, except for PENELOPE, who comes forward to address the audience. Lights on set fade as spotlight comes on. PENELOPE Most men shunned me--even when I nearly swooned for want of love. I might as well have been girdled in a chastity belt. My chastity belt was not made of iron and chains and chickenwire, but of Harold's lethal reputation. SHUTTLE comes into the spotlight. SHUTTLE I keep having this nightmare--that he catches us. PENELOPE Doing what? SHUTTLE He'd kill me. He'd be right to kill me, too--the kind of guy he is. PENELOPE Or was. We haven't done anything wrong, you know. SHUTTLE He'd assume we had. PENELOPE That's something I suppose. SHUTTLE All through the day I'm so confident. That's why I'm such a good salesman, you know? I have confidence, and I look like I have confidence, and that gives other people confidence. People laugh sometimes when they find out I'm a vacuum cleaner salesman. They stop laughing, though, when they find out I made forty-three thousand dollars last year. I've got six other salesmen working under me, and what they all plug into is my confidence. That's what charges them up. PENELOPE I'm glad. SHUTTLE I was captain of the wrestling team at Lehigh University. PENELOPE I know. SHUTTLE If you want to wrestle, you got Lehigh. If you want to play tennis, you go to Vanderbilt. PENELOPE I don't want to go to Vanderbilt. SHUTTLE You don't wrestle if you don't have supreme confidence, and I wrestled. But when I get with you, and I say to myself, "My God--here I am with the wife of Harold Ryan, one of the great heroes of all time--" Pause. PENELOPE Yes? SHUTTLE Something happens to my confidence. PENELOPE (to the audience) This conversation took place, incidentally, about three months before Harold was declared legally dead. SHUTTLE When Harold is definitely out of the picture, Penelope, when I don't have to worry about doing him wrong or you wrong or Paul wrong. I'm going to ask you to be my wife. PENELOPE I'm touched. SHUTTLE That's when I'll get my confidence back. PENELOPE I see. SHUTTLE If you'll pardon the expression, that's when you'll see the fur and feathers fly. Good night. PENELOPE Good night. Blackout. SCENE TWO SHUTTLE and WOODLY argue in pitch darkness, with PAUL listening, and lights come up gradually to full on the living room the same evening. SHUTTLE You've got to fight from time to time. WOODLY Not true. SHUTTLE Or get eaten alive. WOODLY That's not true either--or needn't be, unless we make it true. SHUTTLE Phooey. WOODLY Which we do. But we can stop doing that. The lights are full. SHUTTLE and WOODLY are bored with each other, WOODLY looks out the window, speaks to an imaginary listener who has more brains than SHUTTLE. PAUL hates them both, but prefers SHUTTLE's noisy manliness. WOODLY We simply stop doing that--dropping things on each other, eating each other alive. SHUTTLE (calling) Penelope! We're late! PENELOPE (off, in master bedroom suite) Coming. SHUTTLE (to PAUL) Women are always late. You'll find out. WOODLY (thoughtfully) The late Mrs. Harold Ryan. SHUTTLE I'm sick of this argument. I just have one more thing to say: If you elect a President, you support him, no matter what he does. That's the only way you can have a country! WOODLY It's the planet that's in ghastly trouble now and all our brothers and sisters thereon. SHUTTLE None of my relatives are Chinese Communists. Speak for yourself. WOODLY Chinese maniacs and Russian maniacs and American maniacs and French maniacs and British maniacs have turned this lovely, moist, nourishing blue-green ball into a doomsday device. Let a radar set and a computer mistake a hawk or a meteor for a missile, and that's the end of mankind. SHUTTLE You can believe that if you want. I talk to guys like you, and I want to commit suicide. (to PAUL) You get that weight-lifting set I sent you? PAUL It came yesterday. I haven't opened it yet. WOODLY (musingly, attempting to find the idea acceptable, even funny, in a way) Maybe it's supposed to end now. Maybe God wouldn't have it any other way. SHUTTLE (to PAUL) Start with the smallest weights. Every week add a pound or two. WOODLY Maybe God has let everybody who ever lived be reborn--so he or she can see how it ends. Even Pithecanthropus erectus and Australopithecus and Sinanthropus pekensis and the Neanderthalers are back on Earth--to see how it ends. They're all on Times Square--making change for peepshows. Or recruiting Marines. SHUTTLE (to PAUL) You ever hear the story about the boy who carried a calf around the barn every day? WOODLY He died of a massive rupture. SHUTTLE You think you're so funny. You're not even funny. (to PAUL) Right? Right? You don't hurt yourself if you start out slow. WOODLY You're preparing him for a career in the slaughterhouses of Dubuque? (to PAUL) Take care of your body, yes! But don't become a bender of horseshoes and railroad spikes. Don't become obsessed by your musculature. Any one of these poor, dead animals here was a thousand times the athlete you can ever hope to be. Their magic was in their muscles. Your magic is in your brains! PENELOPE enters from the bedroom, dressed for the fight. She wears barbaric jewelry HAROLD gave her years ago, a jaguar-skin coat over her shoulders. PENELOPE (brightly) Gentlemen! Is this right for a fight? It's been so long. SHUTTLE Beautiful! I've never seen that coat. PENELOPE Seven jaguars' skins, I'm told. Harold shot every one. Shall we go? WOODLY (sick about the slain jaguars) Oh no! Wear a coat of cotton--wear a coat of wool. PENELOPE What? WOODLY Wear a coat of domestic mink. For the love of God, though, Penelope, don't lightheartedly advertise that the last of the jaguars died for you. SHUTTLE She's my date tonight. What do you want her to do--bring the poor old jaguars back to life with a bicycle pump? Bugger off! Ask Paul what he thinks. (to PAUL) Your mother looks beautiful--right? (PAUL pointedly declines to answer) Kid? (PAUL walks away from him) Doesn't your mother look nice? (he goes to PAUL, wondering what is wrong) Paul? PAUL (smolderingly) I don't care what she wears. SHUTTLE Something's made you sore. PAUL Don't worry about it. SHUTTLE You bet I'll worry about it. I said something wrong? PAUL (close to angry tears) It's my father's birthday--that's all. (facing everybody, raising his voice) That's all. Who cares about that? SHUTTLE (horrified, raising his hand to swear an oath) I had not the slightest inkling. (to PENELOPE, feeling betrayed) Why didn't you say so? PAUL (bitterly) She doesn't care! She's not married any more! She's going to have fun! (to PENELOPE) I hope you have so much fun you can hardly stand it. (to WOODLY) Dr. Woodly--I hope you make up even better jokes about my father than the ones you've said so far. SHUTTLE (reaching out for PAUL) Kid--kid-- PAUL (to SHUTTLE) And I wish you'd quit touching me all the time. It drives me nuts! SHUTTLE (reaching out again) What's this? PAUL (recoiling) Don't! SHUTTLE (aghast) You sure misunderstood something-- and we'd better get it straight. PAUL Explain it to them. I'm bugging out of here. He grabs a jacket from a chair. SHUTTLE is in his way. PAUL Don't touch me. Get out of the way. SHUTTLE Men can touch other men, and it doesn't mean a thing. Haven't you ever seen football players after they've won the Superbowl? PENELOPE (to PAUL) Where will you be? PAUL Anywhere but here. I'd just sit here and cry about the way my father's been forgotten. SHUTTLE I worship your father. That stuffed alligator your mother gave me--the one he shot? It's the proudest thing in my apartment. PAUL (at the door) Everybody talks about how rotten kids act. Grownups can be pretty rotten, too. He exits through front door, slams it. SHUTTLE (heartbroken) Kid--kid-- WOODLY It's good. Let him go. SHUTTLE If he'd just come out for the Little League, the way I asked him, he'd find out we touch all the time--shove each other, slug each other, and just horse around. I'm going to go get him-- WOODLY Don't! Let him have all the privacy he wants. Let him grieve, let him rage. There has never been a funeral for his father. PENELOPE I never knew when to hold it--or who to ask, or what to say. WOODLY Tonight's the night. SHUTTLE If he'd just get into scouting, and camp out some, and see how everybody roughhouses around the fire-- WOODLY What a beautiful demonstration this is of the utter necessity of rites of passage. SHUTTLE I feel like I've been double- crossed. (to PENELOPE, peevishly) If you'd just told me it was Harold's birthday-- PENELOPE What then? SHUTTLE We could have had some kind of birthday party for him. We could have taken Paul to the fight with us. WOODLY Minors aren't allowed at fights. SHUTTLE Then we'd stay home and eat venison or something, and look through the scrapbooks. I've got a friend who has a whole freezer full of striped bass and caribou meat. (going to the front door) I'm going to bring that boy back. He exits through front door. WOODLY (going to PENELOPE) This is very good for us. PENELOPE It is? WOODLY The wilder Paul is tonight, the calmer he'll be tomorrow. PENELOPE As long as he keeps out of the park. WOODLY After this explosion, I think, he'll be able to accept the fact that his mother is going to marry again. PENELOPE The only thing I ever told him about life was, "Keep out of the park after the sun goes down." WOODLY We've got to dump Shuttle. (pointing to the vacuum cleaner) He brings his vacuum cleaner on dates? PENELOPE That's the XKE. WOODLY The what? PENELOPE It's an experimental model. He doesn't dare leave it in his car, for fear it will fall into the hands of competition. WOODLY What kind of a life is that? PENELOPE He told me one time what the proudest moment of his life was. He made Eagle Scout when he was twenty-nine years old. (clinging to him suddenly) Oh, Norbert--promise me that Paul has not gone into the park! WOODLY (pause) If you warned him against it as much as you say, it's almost a certainty. PENELOPE (petrified) No! Oh no! Three people murdered in there in the last six weeks! The police won't even go in there any more. WOODLY I wish Paul luck. PENELOPE It's suicide! WOODLY I'd be dead by now if that were the case. PENELOPE Meaning? WOODLY Every night, Penelope, for the past two years, I've made it a point to walk through the park at midnight. PENELOPE Why would you do that? WOODLY To show myself how brave I am. The issue's in doubt, you know--since I'm always for peace-- PENELOPE I'm amazed. WOODLY Me, too. I know something not even the police know--what's in the park at midnight. Nothing. Or, when I'm in there, there's me in there. Fear and nobody and me. PENELOPE And maybe Paul. What about the murderers? They're in there! WOODLY They didn't murder me. PENELOPE Paul's only twelve years old. WOODLY He can make the sound of human footsteps--which is a terrifying sound. PENELOPE We've got to rescue him. WOODLY If he is in the park, luck is all that can save him now, and there's plenty of that. PENELOPE He's not your son. WOODLY No. But he's going to be. If he is in the park and he comes out safely on the other side, I can say to him, "You and I are the only men with balls enough to walk through the park at midnight." (pause) On that we can build. PENELOPE It's a jungle out there. WOODLY That's been said before. PENELOPE He'd go to a movie. I think that's what he'd do. If I were sure he was in a movie, I could stop worrying. We could have him paged. Lion doorbell roars. WOODLY I hate that thing. He opens the door, admits SHUTTLE, who carries a bakery box. PENELOPE Did you see him? SHUTTLE Yeah. PENELOPE Is he all right? SHUTTLE Far as I know. PENELOPE Is he coming home? SHUTTLE He ditched me. He started running, and I started running, then he lost me in the park. PENELOPE The park! SHUTTLE It's dark in there. PENELOPE And that's where he is! SHUTTLE I figure he ducked in one place and ducked out another. PENELOPE (disgusted with him) You figure! SHUTTLE Then I saw this bakery store that was still open, so I bought a birthday cake. PENELOPE A what? SHUTTLE For Harold. When Paul comes home, we can have some birthday cake. PENELOPE How nice. SHUTTLE They had this cake somebody else hadn't picked up. It says, "Happy Birthday, Somebody Else." WOODLY "Happy Birthday, Wanda June!" SHUTTLE We can take off the "Wanda June" with a butter knife. PENELOPE Did you talk to Paul? SHUTTLE Before he started to run. He said his father carried a key to this apartment around his neck--and someday we'd all hear the sound of that key in the door. PENELOPE We've got to find him. (preparing to exit through front door) I want you to show me exactly where you saw him last. (to WOODLY) And you stay here, Norbert, in case he comes home. (to SHUTTLE) That's all he said--the thing about the key? SHUTTLE He said one other thing. It wasn't very nice. PENELOPE What was it? SHUTTLE He told me to take a flying fuck at the moon. Blackout. SCENE THREE DARKNESS. Lights come up on living room. WOODLY is alone, asleep on the couch. HAROLD lets himself and LOOSELEAF in through the front door--quietly. HAROLD has a full beard and a paunch. LOOSELEAF is skinnier. He has a handlebar moustache. Both wear new sports clothes and smoke expensive cigars. HAROLD is calm. LOOSELEAF is nervous, confused. They prowl the room cautiously, checking this and that. HAROLD awakens WOODLY by playing with his feet. WOODLY (startled) Ooops. HAROLD (to LOOSELEAF, very amused) Ooops. WOODLY Can I--uh--help you gentlemen? HAROLD (moving downstage, feeling at home) Gentlemen--that's nice. WOODLY (to LOOSELEAF) You startled me. LOOSELEAF Yeah. We just got here. WOODLY I thought you might be burglars-- but you're not, I hope. LOOSELEAF Nope. (idiotically, incapable of deception) I got a lot of stuff. WOODLY (looking at him closely) You do? HAROLD The door ws unlocked. Is it always unlocked? WOODLY It's always locked. HAROLD But here you are inside, aren't you? WOODLY You're--you're old friends of Harold Ryan? HAROLD We tried to be. We tried to be. WOODLY He's dead, you know. HAROLD Dead! Such a final word. Dead! (to LOOSELEAF) Did you hear that? LOOSELEAF Yup. Telephone rings. WOODLY answers, keeping his eyes on the bizarre guests. WOODLY Hello? Oh--hello, Mother. HAROLD (to LOOSELEAF) Hello, Mother. WOODLY ...Who?... Did she say how far apart the pains were?... When was that?... Oh dear. HAROLD Oh dear. WOODLY Call her back--tell her to head for the hospital. Tell the hospital to expect her. I'll leave right now. He hangs up, faces the intruders. WOODLY Look--I'm sorry--I have to go. HAROLD We'll miss you so. WOODLY Look--this isn't my apartment, and there isn't anybody else here. Mrs. Ryan won't be home for a while. HAROLD Oh, oh, oh--I thought it was your apartment. You seemed at home here. WOODLY I'm a neighbor. I have the apartment across the hall. I have to go to the hospital now. An emergency. HAROLD is unstirred. WOODLY I mean--I can't leave you here. You'll have to go. I'll tell Mrs. Ryan you were here. You can come back later. HAROLD Ahh--then she's still alive. WOODLY She's fine. Please-- HAROLD And still Mrs. Harold Ryan? WOODLY Will you please go? An emergency! HAROLD She still has just the one child-- the boy? He moves slowly toward the front door, with WOODLY trying to hustle him and LOOSELEAF out. WOODLY Yes! Yes! The boy! One boy! HAROLD (stopping) And what, exactly, is your relationship to Mrs. Ryan? WOODLY Neighbor! Doctor! I live across the hall. HAROLD And you come into Mrs. Ryan's apartment as often as you please, looking into various health matters? WOODLY Yes! Please! You've got to get out right now! HAROLD moves a little more, stops again. HAROLD Just her neighbor and doctor? That's all? WOODLY (at the end of his patience, blurting) And her fiancÚ! HAROLD (delighted) And her fiancÚ! How nice. I hope you'll be very happy--or is that what one says to the woman? WOODLY I've got to run! He turns out the overhead light. HAROLD You wish the woman good luck, and you tell the man how fortunate he is. That's how it goes. WOODLY (holding open the front door) I've literally got to run! HAROLD I won't try to keep up with you. I'm not as fast on my feet as I once was. All three exit. A moment later, HAROLD lets himself and LOOSELEAF in again with a key. He turns on the light again, roams the room, reacquainting himself with his beloved trophies. LOOSELEAF is jangled by the adventure. HAROLD chucks a lioness under her chin. HAROLD Miss me, baby? LOOSELEAF I dunno, boy. HAROLD Hm? LOOSELEAF It's a bitch. HAROLD (quietly) A bitch. LOOSELEAF Didn't recognize you. HAROLD We've never met. LOOSELEAF I wonder who'll recognize us first? They'll wet their pants. HAROLD I hope the men do. I would rather the women didn't. LOOSELEAF I'm gonna wet my pants. He laughs idiotically. HAROLD (looking around himself) Home, sweet home. LOOSELEAF One thing, anyway--at least Penelope didn't throw out all your crap. I bet Alice threw out all my crap after I'd been gone a week. HAROLD We'll see. HAROLD, who wants to savor the early moments of his homecoming alone, now tries to get the very jumpy LOOSELEAF out of the apartment. HAROLD It appears that we're going to have to wait awhile for any more action here, Colonel. Why don't you run on home while the evening's young. LOOSELEAF Home. Jesus. (makes his hands tremble) I'm like this. Home! HAROLD Home is important to a man. LOOSELEAF You know what gets me? HAROLD (absently) No. LOOSELEAF How all the magazines show tits today. HAROLD Um. LOOSELEAF Used to be against the law, didn't it? HAROLD (fed up with LOOSELEAF) I suppose. LOOSELEAF (making no move to leave) Must have changed that law. Silence, while HAROLD attempts to be alone, even though LOOSELEAF is still present. HAROLD (thoughtfully hefting a broadsword, admiring its balance and strength) Home. LOOSELEAF You know what gets me? HAROLD does not respond. LOOSELEAF You know what gets me? HAROLD (to himself) Oh, shit. LOOSELEAF (finding enough encouragement in this) How everybody says "fuck" and "shit" all the time. I used to be scared shitless I'd say "fuck" or "shit" in public, by accident. Now everybody says "fuck" and "shit," "fuck" and "shit" all the time. Something very big must have happened while we were out of the country. HAROLD (flatly) Looseleaf--will you get the hell home? LOOSELEAF At least we found the diamonds. HAROLD At least! LOOSELEAF I'd really feel stupid if we didn't bring anything back home. HAROLD It's enough that you've brought yourself home! LOOSELEAF I wish you'd tell Alice that. And that Goddamn Mrs. Wheeler. HAROLD (hotly) Tell them yourself! LOOSELEAF You don't know my mother-in-law, boy. HAROLD After eight years in the jungle with you, I know Mrs. Wheeler better than I know anybody in the universe! LOOSELEAF I didn't tell you everything. HAROLD The time we were in a tree for fourteen days, you certainly tried to tell me everything about Mrs. Wheeler. LOOSELEAF I didn't even scratch the surface. You're lucky, boy. You come home, and nobody's here. When I go home, everybody's going to be there. HAROLD This room is full of ghosts. LOOSELEAF You're lucky, boy. My house is gonna be filled with people. HAROLD ignores this, attempts to savor the ghosts in the room. LOOSELEAF You know what gets me? HAROLD Go home! LOOSELEAF Thank God we found the fucking diamonds! HAROLD The hell with the diamonds! LOOSELEAF You were rich before. This is the first time I was ever rich. HAROLD Go home! Show them how rich you are for a change! LOOSELEAF Can I have the Cadillac? HAROLD Take the Cadillac and drive it off a cliff, for all I care. LOOSELEAF What'll you do for transportation? HAROLD I'll buy a hundred more Cadillacs. Go home! LOOSELEAF You know what gets me about that Cadillac? HAROLD Go home! LOOSELEAF When I drive it, I feel like I'm in the middle of a great big wad of bubblegum. I don't hear anything, I don't feel anything. I figure somebody else is driving. It's a bitch. HAROLD Go home. LOOSELEAF I'm liable to find anything! HAROLD That's the point! Walk in there and find whatever there is to find--before Alice can cover it up. LOOSELEAF I know, I know. I dunno. At least she's in the same house. Sure was spooky, looking in the window there, and there she was. HAROLD So long, Colonel. LOOSELEAF You know what gets me? HAROLD (taking hold of LOOSELEAF and steering him to the front door) Let's talk about it some other time. LOOSELEAF How short the skirts are. HAROLD (opening the door) Good night, Colonel. It's been beautiful. LOOSELEAF Something very important about sex must have happened while we were gone. HAROLD shoves him out of the apartment and shuts the door. HAROLD starts to roam the room again, but the lion doorbell roars. HAROLD (going to the door) Hell! HAROLD opens the door. LOOSELEAF comes in. LOOSELEAF You know what gets me? Those guys who went to the moon! To the moon, boy! HAROLD Leave me alone! After eight years of horrendously close association, the time has come to part! I crave solitude and time for reflection-- and then a reunion in privacy with my own flesh and blood. You and I may not meet again for months! LOOSELEAF Months? HAROLD I'm certainly not going to come horning back into your life tomorrow, and I will not welcome your horning back into mine. A chapter has ended. We are old comrades--at a parting of the ways. LOOSELEAF (bleakly, shrugging) I'm lonesome already. He exits. HAROLD (roaming the room again) The moon. The new heroism--put a village idiot into a pressure cooker, seal it up tight, and shoot him at the moon. (to his portrait) Hello there, young man. In case you're wondering, I could beat the shit out of you. And any woman choosing between us--sorry, kid, she'd choose me. (pleased with the room) I must say, this room is very much as I left it. (sees the cake) What's this? A cake? "Happy Birthday, Wanda June"? Who the hell is Wanda June? Blackout. SCENE FOUR MUSIC indicates happiness, innocence, and weightlessness. Spotlight comes up on WANDA JUNE, a lisping eight-year-old in a starched party dress. She is as cute as Shirley Temple. WANDA JUNE Hello. I am Wanda June. Today was going to be my birthday, but I was hit by an ice-cream truck before I could have my party. I am dead now. I am in Heaven. That is why my parents did not pick up the cake at the bakery. I am not mad at the ice-cream truck driver, even though he was drunk when he hit me. It didn't hurt much. It wasn't even as bad as the sting of a bumblebee. I am really happy here! It's so much fun. I am glad the driver was drunk. If he hadn't been, I might not have got to Heaven for years and years and years. I would have had to go to high school first, and then beauty college. I would have had to get married and have babies and everything. Now I can just play and play and play. Any time I want any pink cotton candy I can have some. Everybody up here is happy-- the animals and the dead soldiers and people who went to the electric chair and everything. They're all glad for whatever sent them here. Nobody is mad. We're all too busy playing shuffleboard. So if you think of killing somebody, don't worry about it. Just go ahead and do it. Whoever you do it to should kiss you for doing it. The soldiers up here just love the shrapnel and the tanks and the bayonets and the dum dums that let them play shuffleboard all the time--and drink beer. Spotlight begins to dim and carnival music on a steam calliope begins to intrude, until, at the end of the speech, WANDA JUNE is drowned out and the stage is black. WANDA JUNE We have merry-go-rounds that don't cost anything to ride on. We have Ferris wheels. We have Little League and girls' basketball. There's a drum and bugle corps anybody can join. For people who like golf, there is a par-three golf course and a driving range, with never any waiting. If you just want to sit and loaf, why that's all right, too. Gourmet specialties are cooked to your order and served at any time of night or day... Sudden silence. WOODY WOODPECKER VOICE Ha ha ha ha ha! (pistol shot) You got me, pal. Silence. Spotlight comes up on LOOSELEAF HARPER, who wears the clothes he will wear in the next scene--new sports clothes, a shirt open at the neck. As always, he is friendly and embarrassed. LOOSELEAF When Penelope asked me to say something about dropping the bomb on Nagasaki, I didn't give a very good answer, I guess. It's a very complicated question. Jesus--you know? You have to explain what it's like to be in the Air Force and how they give you your orders and all that. What it feels like to be in a plane, what the world looks like down there. After I got home from the war, the minister of my church asked me if I would speak to a scout troop that met in the church basement. So I did. They met on Thursday nights. I used to belong to that troop. I never made Eagle Scout. But you know something? It's a very strange kind of kid that makes Eagle Scout. They always seem so lonesome, like they'd worked real hard to get a job nobody else cares about. They get a whole bunch of merit badges. That's how you get to be an Eagle Scout. I don't think I had over five or six merit badges. The only one I remember is Public Health. That was a bitch. The Boy Scout Manual said I was supposed to find out what my town did about sewage. Jesus, they just dumped it all in Sugar Creek. (laughs idiotically) Sugar Creek! That was a long time ago, but it's all coming back to me now. There was another merit badge you could get for roller skating. There used to be a roller rink at a bend in Sugar Creek, up above where the sewage went in. I got in a fight there one time. I had on roller skates, and the guy I was fighting had on basketball shoes. He had a tremendous advantage over me. He was a little guy, but he beat the shit out of me. I had to laugh like hell. Don't ever fight a guy when you've got on roller skates. (silence) Jesus--I remember my mother used to make me chew bananas for a full minute before I swallowed--so I wouldn't get sick. Makes you wonder what else your parents told you that wasn't true. Blackout. SCENE FIVE SPOTLIGHT comes up on HAROLD. He sits on the front seat of an imaginary car. The seat is covered with zebra skin. HAROLD The night I met Penelope, I had no beard--so imagine me, if you can, without a beard. Actually, I wasn't as good-looking then as I am now. And, if anything, me health has improved. At any rate--I had just come home from Kenya--to discover that my third wife, Mildred, like the two before her, had become a drunken bum. In my experience, alcoholism is far more prevalent among women than men. So I got into my automobile-- He pantomimes turning the ignition key. The sound of a starter and a powerful engine responds. He pantomimes putting the car in gear and driving away from the curb. Appropriate sounds are heard. HAROLD I drive through the night, until I was attracted by a sign which said-- Spotlight comes up on PENELOPE, who wears a skimpy carhop outfit she has had on under her coat in the previous scene. HAROLD "Hamburger Heaven." PENELOPE Heaven. HAROLD pantomimes swerving into Hamburger Heaven. Tires squeal. He pantomimes a stop, kills the engine. He blows his imaginary horn. A real horn blows the bugle call for "charge." PENELOPE crosses to HAROLD. PENELOPE Can I help you, sir? HAROLD I think so, daughter. How old are you? PENELOPE Eighteen-- (pause) and a half. HAROLD A springbok, an oryx, a gemsbok--a gazelle. PENELOPE Sir? HAROLD Raw hamburger, please--and a whole onion. I want to eat the onion like an apple. Do you understand? PENELOPE Yes, sir. (to the audience) It was a very unusual automobile. It was a Cadillac, but it had water buffalo horns where the bumpers should be. (to HAROLD) And what to drink? HAROLD What time do you get off work, my child? PENELOPE I'm sorry, sir, I'm engaged to be married. My boyfriend would be mad if I went out with another man. HAROLD Did you ever daydream that you would one day meet a friendly millionaire? PENELOPE I'm engaged. HAROLD Daughter--I love you very much. PENELOPE You don't even know me. HAROLD You are woman. I know woman well. PENELOPE This is crazy. HAROLD Destiny often seems that way. You're going to marry me. PENELOPE What do you do for a living? HAROLD My parents died in an automobile accident when I was sixteen years old. They left me a brewery and a baseball team--and other things. I live for a living. I've just come back from Kenya--in Africa. I've been hunting Mau Mau there. PENELOPE Some kind of animal? HAROLD The pelt is black. It's a kind of man. Blackout. SCENE SIX CURTAIN rises on empty living room. PAUL lets himself in with a key. PAUL Mom? (silence) Herb? (silence) Dr. Woodly? (advances into room uneasily) Hello? (sees the cake) A cake? Who's Wanda June? HAROLD enters quietly from the kitchen, holding a can of beer. PAUL Anybody home? HAROLD As a matter of fact-- PAUL (nearly jumping out of his skin) Sir? HAROLD As a matter of fact--I am home. PAUL (thinking HAROLD may be a burglar) Hello. HAROLD (simply) Hello. PAUL Are you-- His voice fails him. HAROLD (hoping to be recognized) You were about to ask a question? PAUL Are you--do you-- HAROLD Ask it! PAUL (blurting) Do you know who Wanda June is? HAROLD Life has denied me that thrill. PAUL Do you mind if I ask who you are? HAROLD Mind? (aside) God, yes, I mind. (to PAUL) I'm your father's friend. A man claiming to be the family physician let me in a while ago. PAUL Dr. Woodly. HAROLD Dr. Woodly. I should make a little list. PAUL Is anybody besides you here now? HAROLD The doctor was called away on an emergency. I think it was birth. PAUL Where's Mom? HAROLD You don't know where your mother is? Does she put on a short skirt and go drinking all night? PAUL She went to the fight with Herb Shuttle, I guess. HAROLD You think you could find me a pencil and paper? PAUL I'll see. He rummages through a drawer. HAROLD And you've been roaming the streets while your mother is God-knows-where? PAUL I was going to a funny movie, but I changed my mind. If you're depressed, laughing doesn't help much. (gives HAROLD pencil and paper) When did you know my father? HAROLD Man and boy. PAUL Everybody says he was so brave. HAROLD Even this--"Herb Shuttle", you said? PAUL He worships Father. HAROLD (pleased) Ah! And what sort of man is this worshiper? PAUL He's a vacuum cleaner salesman. HAROLD (deflated) I see. (recovering) And he came into the apartment one day, to demonstrate his wares, and your mother, as it happened, was charmingly en deshabille-- PAUL She met him at college. HAROLD (startled) College! PAUL They were in the same creative writing class. HAROLD College? PAUL She has a master's degree in English literature. HAROLD What a pity! Educating a beautiful woman is like pouring honey into a fine Swiss watch. Everything stops. (pause) And the doctor? He worships your father, too? PAUL He insults him all the time. HAROLD (delighted) Excellent! PAUL What's good about that? HAROLD It makes life spicy. PAUL He doesn't do it in front of me, but he does it with Mother. (indicating HAROLD's portrait) You know what he called Father one time? HAROLD No. PAUL "Harold, the Patron Saint of Taxidermy." HAROLD (measuring his opponent) What does he do--of an athletic nature? PAUL Nothing. He plays a violin in a doctors' quartet. HAROLD Aha! He has a brilliant military record, I'm sure. PAUL He was a stretcher-bearer in the Korean War. (pause) Were you in a war with Father? HAROLD Big ones, little ones, teeny-weeny ones--just and otherwise. PAUL Tell me some true stories about Dad. HAROLD (unused to the word) "Dad?" (accepting it) Dad. (to himself) The boy wants tales of derring-do. Name a country. PAUL England? HAROLD (disgusted) Oh hell. PAUL Dad was never in England? HAROLD Behind a desk for a little while. (contemptuously) A desk! They had him planning air raids. A city can't flee like a coward or fight like a man, and the choice between fleeing and fighting was at the core of the life of Harold Ryan. There was only one thing he enjoyed more than watching someone make that choice, and that was making the choice himself. Ask about Spain, where he was the youngest soldier in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. He was a famous sniper. They called him "La Picadura"--"the sting." PAUL (echoing wonderingly) "The sting." HAROLD As in "Death, where is thy sting?" He killed at least fifty men, wounded hundreds more. PAUL (slightly dismayed at such murderousness) "The sting." HAROLD Ask about the time he and I were parachuted into Yugoslavia to join a guerrilla band--in the war against the Nazis. PAUL Tell me that. HAROLD I saw your father fight Major Siegfried von Konigswald, the Beast of Yugoslavia, hand to hand. PAUL (his excitement rising) Tell me that! Tell me that! HAROLD Hid by day--fought by night. At sunset one day, your father and I, peering through field glasses, saw a black Mercedes draw up to a village inn. It was escorted by two motorcyclists and an armored car. Out of the Mercedes stepped one of the most hateful men in all of history--the Beast of Yugoslavia. PAUL Wow. HAROLD We blacked our hands and faces. At midnight we crept out of the forest and into the village. The name of the village was Mhravitch. Remember that name! PAUL Mhravitch. HAROLD We came up behind a sentry, and your father slit his throat before he could utter a sound. PAUL (involuntarily) Uck. HAROLD Don't care for cold steel? A knife is worse than a bullet? PAUL I don't know. HAROLD The story gets hairier. Should I stop? PAUL Go on. HAROLD We caught another Kraut alone in a back lane. Your father choked him to death with a length of piano wire. Your father was quite a virtuoso with piano wire. That's nicer than a knife, isn't it--as long as you don't look at the face afterwards. The face turns a curious shade of avocado. I must ask the doctor why that is. At any rate, we stole into the back of the inn, and, with the permission of the management, we poisoned the wine of six Krauts who were carousing there. PAUL Where did you get the poison? HAROLD We carried cyanide capsules. We were supposed to swallow them in case we were captured. It was your father's opinion that the Krauts needed them more than we did at the time. PAUL And one of them was the Beast of Yugoslavia? HAROLD The Beast was upstairs, and he came running downstairs, for his men were making loud farewells and last wills and testaments--editorializing about the hospitality they had received. And your father said to him in perfect German, which he had learned in the Spanish Civil War, "Major, something tragic seems to have happened to your bodyguard. I am Harold Ryan, of the United States of America. You, I believe, are the Beast of Yugoslavia." Blackout. SCENE SEVEN SILENCE. Pitch blackness. The sounds of a Nazi rally come up slowly: "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!" Spotlight comes up on MAJOR SIEGFRIED VON KONIGSWALD, and officer in the dreaded SS. He is in full ceremonial uniform. The sounds fade. VON KONIGSWALD (sadly, resignedly, remembering) Ja ja. Ja ja. (pause) I am Major Siegfried von Konigswald. They used to call me "The Beast of Yugoslavia," on account of all the people I had tortured and shot--and hanged. We'd bop 'em on the head. We'd hook 'em up to the electricity. We'd stick 'em with hypodermic syringes full of all kinds of stuff. One time we killed a guy with orange juice. There was a train wreck, and two of the freight cars were loaded with oranges, so we had oceans of orange juice. It was a joke--how much orange juice we had. And we were interrogating a guy one day, and he wouldn't talk, and the next thing I know--somebody's filling up this big syringe with orange juice. (pause) There was a guerrilla war going on. You couldn't tell who was a guerrilla and who wasn't. Even if you got one, it was still a civilian you got. Telling Americans what a guerrilla war is like--that's coals to Newcastle. How do you like that for idiomatic English? "Coals to Newcastle." (laughs) That Harold Ryan--he says he spoke to me in perfect German? He talks German like my ass chews gum. I'm glad to hear the wonderful thing he said before he killed me. I sure didn't understand it the first time around. I figured he was a Lithuanian or something, which will give you an idea of how wrong you can be. All I knew was he was very proud about something, and he had a machine pistol, and it was aimed at me. The woods were full of all kinds of nuts who were proud of some damn thing or other, and they all had guns. They were always looking for revenge. You find a way to bottle revenge--that's the end of Schnapps und Coca-Cola. (pause) Harold Ryan said he killed maybe two hundred guys. I killed a hundred times that many, I bet. That's still peanuts, of course, compared to what that crazy Looseleaf did. Harold and me--we was doing it the hard way. I hope the record books will show that. There should be a little star or something by the names of the guys who did it the hard way. (pause) I'm up in Heaven now, like that little Wanda June kid. I wasn't hit by no ice-cream truck. Harold Ryan killed me with his bare hands. He was good. My eyes popped out. My tongue stuck out like a red banana. I shit in my pants. It was a mess. (pause) When I got up on the day I died, I said, "What a beautiful day this is. What a beautiful part of the world." The whole planet was beautiful. Up here I meet guys from other planets. (laughs) We got some really crazy-looking guys up here. Their planets weren't anywhere near as nice as Earth. They had clouds all the time. They never saw a clear blue sky. They never saw snow. They never saw an ocean. They had some little lakes, but you couldn't go swimming in them. The lakes were acid. You go swimming, you dissolve. We got some guys up here who got shoved in them lakes. They dissolved. (pause) Harold Ryan stopped talking German to me there in Yugoslavia. He switched to English, so I finally got some kind of idea what he was so burned up about. He wanted revenge for the guy we killed with orange juice. I don't know how he ever found out about it. There was just three of us there when we did it--me and two regular military doctors. Somebody who cleaned up afterwards must have squealed. If I'd lived through the war, and they tried me for war crimes and all that, I'd have to tell the court, I guess, "I was only following orders, as a good soldier should. Hitler told me to kill this guy with orange juice." Blackout. SCENE EIGHT DARKNESS. Lights come up on living room. HAROLD has just finished telling his true war story to PAUL. HAROLD Mhravitch. Remember that name. PAUL Mhravitch. HAROLD The name will live forever. It was there that Harold Ryan slew the Beast of Yugoslavia. Mhravitch. PAUL When I grow up, I'm going to go to Mhravitch. HAROLD It's rather a disappointment these days. It isn't there any more. PAUL Sir? HAROLD The Germans shot everybody who lived there, then leveled it, plowed it, planted turnips and cabbages in the fertile ground. They wished revenge for the slaying of the Beast of Yugoslavia. To their twisted way of thinking, your father had butchered an Eagle Scout. (abruptly) Play lots of contact sports? PAUL I wanted to go out for football, but Mom was afraid I'd get hurt. HAROLD You're supposed to get hurt! PAUL Dr. Woodly says he's seen hundreds of children permanently injured by football. He says that when there's a war, everybody goes but football players. HAROLD Does it bother you to have your mother engaged to a man like that? PAUL They're not engaged. HAROLD He seems to think they are. He told me that were. PAUL Oh no, no, no, no, no. It can't be. How embarrassing. HAROLD (unexpectedly moved) You're a very good boy to respond that way. PAUL No, no, no, no, no. HAROLD I'd like to use the sanitary facilities, if I may. PAUL Go ahead. (as HAROLD exits) No, no, no, no. PENELOPE and SHUTTLE enter through front door. They are tremendously relieved to see PAUL. PAUL Thank God! SHUTTLE What a relief! PENELOPE (going to PAUL) My baby's safe! PAUL angrily avoids her touch. PENELOPE What's the matter now? SHUTTLE We got a birthday cake, kid. Did you see the cake? PAUL Are you and Dr. Woodly engaged? PENELOPE (stunned) Who have you been talking to? PAUL What difference does that make? Is Dr. Woodly going to be my father now? Pause. PENELOPE Yes, he is. PAUL (a stifled, gargling cry) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! SHUTTLE (sick) That goes double for me. PAUL I don't want to live any more. SHUTTLE I feel like I want to yell my head off--just yell anything. (yelling) Bulllllllllllllll-dickey! PAUL I'll kill myself. SHUTTLE The wife of Harold Ryan is going to marry a pansy next? This is the end of Western Civilization as far as I'm concerned. You must be crazy as a fruitcake. PENELOPE Possibly. SHUTTLE How long has this been going on? PENELOPE A week. We were waiting for the right time to-- SHUTTLE I feel as though I had been made a perfect chump of. PENELOPE I'm sorry. SHUTTLE Marry me instead. PENELOPE Thank you, Herb. You're a wonderful man. You really are. Everybody respects you for what you've done for scouting and the Little League. SHUTTLE You're saying no. PENELOPE I'm saying no--and thank you. SHUTTLE I didn't make my move fast enough. That's it, isn't it? I was too respectful. PENELOPE You were wonderful. SHUTTLE What's so wonderful if I lost the sale? (turning to PAUL) You poor kid. PAUL Don't touch me. SHUTTLE Wouldn't you rather have your mother marry me than him? PAUL No. SHUTTLE (moving dazedly toward the front door) All my dreams have suddenly collapsed. (pause) We did have a lot of laughs together, Penelope. PENELOPE It's true. SHUTTLE Well--it was nice while it lasted. Thanks for the memories. He exits. Silence. A toilet flushes loudly and complicatedly. PENELOPE Is Norbert still here? PAUL No. PENELOPE Then who flushed the toilet? PAUL Father's friend. PENELOPE What's his name? PAUL Don't know. PENELOPE For Heaven's sakes! HAROLD enters, still adjusting his trousers. PENELOPE How do you do? HAROLD How do you do, Mrs. Ryan? I'd heard you were beautiful, and so you are. Am I intruding here? PENELOPE Not at all. HAROLD I couldn't help overhearing that you were about to get married again. PENELOPE has now recognized him, but attempts to protect herself from shock by pretending that she has not. PENELOPE Our family physician has asked me to marry him. Paul needs the guidance and companionship that only a man can give. He isn't at all like Harold. But then again, I'm not the woman I was eight years ago. She slumps into a chair, buries her face in her hands. PAUL Mom? PENELOPE (pointing weakly) That man is your father. PAUL What? PENELOPE There stands the loins from which you've sprung. PAUL I don't get it. PENELOPE It is you, isn't it, Harold? HAROLD (enjoying the drama hugely) Yes, wife, it is. (to PAUL) Come here, boy. Your father is home. PAUL Sir? PENELOPE Go to him. PAUL goes to HAROLD dazedly. They embrace clumsily. HAROLD PAUL Son, son, son... Father, father, father... They part, unsatisfied and confused. HAROLD goes to PENELOPE, his arms outstretched. HAROLD Wife, wife, wife... PENELOPE struggles to her feet, her face blank. HAROLD embraces her, finds himself wrestling with a rigid, unresponsive object. HAROLD Wife, wife, wife... HAROLD lets go, backs away from her. HAROLD What's the matter? PENELOPE (tearful) Give us time. HAROLD Like hugging a lamp post. PENELOPE Give us time, Harold--to adjust to your being alive. HAROLD You were well adjusted to my being dead? PENELOPE We adjust to what there is to adjust to. Perhaps Paul, being young, can adjust to joy or grief immediately. I hope he can. I will take a little longer. I'll be as quick as I can. HAROLD What sort of time period do you have in mind? Half an hour? An hour? PENELOPE I don't know. This is a new disease to me. HAROLD Disease? PENELOPE Situation. HAROLD This reunion isn't what I imagined it would be. PENELOPE A telegram--a phone call might have helped. HAROLD Seemed the most honest way to begin life together again--natural, unrehearsed. PENELOPE Well--enjoy the natural, honest, unrehearsed result--surgical shock. HAROLD You feel that you're behaving as a woman should? PENELOPE Every fuse in my nervous system has been blown. Lion doorbell roars. PENELOPE Who's that? Teddy Roosevelt? PAUL answers the door, admits WOODLY. WOODLY (to PAUL) Safe and sound, I see. (to HAROLD) Oh--you came back. HAROLD I came back. PENELOPE You know each other? WOODLY We met here earlier this evening. PENELOPE How neat. How keen. HAROLD How was the emergency, Doctor? Profitable, I hope. WOODLY A policeman delivered the baby in a taxicab. HAROLD Tough luck. You'll have to split the fee. WOODLY (puzzled by PENELOPE's mood) Are--are you crying, Penelope? HAROLD She's crying because she's so happy. PENELOPE That's why I'm crying. PAUL Dr. Woodly? (indicating HAROLD) You know who this is? WOODLY I didn't get his name. A friend of your father? PAUL He isn't any friend of Father. WOODLY He isn't? PAUL He is my father. WOODLY No! PENELOPE Eeeeeeeeeeee-yup. Dr. Woodly--I would like you to meet Harold, my husband. Harold, this is Dr. Woodly, my fiancÚ. She crosses to the door of the master bedroom, kissing each male lightly as she passes. PENELOPE Good night, dear. Good night, dear. She stands in the doorway. PENELOPE Stay or go, talk or sulk, laugh or cry--as you wish. Do whatever seems called for. My mind is gone. Good night. She exits into bedroom, closes the door firmly, locks it audibly. WOODLY (dazedly) I feel the same way. What next? HAROLD What next? You leave promptly, of course. There is no question as to whose home this is-- WOODLY None. HAROLD Whose son this is, whose wife that is. A fiancÚ is the most ridiculous appurtenance this household could have at this time. Good night. WOODLY (crushed, without any possible comeback) Good night. He exits through the front door. HAROLD goes at once to PENELOPE's door, tries it, finds it locked. HAROLD Penelope! God damn it! Penelope! He considers kicking down the door, thinks better of this, turns away. HAROLD Wants to fix up her makeup, no doubt. PAUL Is Looseleaf Harper alive? HAROLD Alive and hale. He's throwing a little surprise party for his own family. Is your mother often this unstable? (not waiting for an answer, calling again) Penelope! PAUL She's a real heavy sleeper sometimes. HAROLD Why don't you go to bed--son. PAUL I can't take my eyes off you. HAROLD Tomorrow's another day. PAUL You know what my English literature teacher said about you? HAROLD Can't it keep till morning? PAUL She said you were legendary. I wrote a theme about you, and she said, "Your father is a legendary hero out of the Golden Age of Heroes." HAROLD That's nice. You thank her for me. Go to bed and get lots of sleep, and then you thank her in the morning. PAUL Tomorrow's Saturday. Anyway, she's dead. HAROLD Penelope! PAUL She was killed in the park two months ago--in the daytime. HAROLD Penelope! PAUL She was on her way home from a meeting of the African Violet Society, and they got her. HAROLD (sharply) Will you go to bed? PAUL (stung) Yes sir. If you can't wake Mom up, I've got double-decker bunks. HAROLD (stamping his foot) Scat! PAUL exits hastily down the corridor to his room. HAROLD goes to PENELOPE's door, attempts to woo her through it. HAROLD Penelope--darling--can you hear me? Wife--you know what kept me alive all these fevered, swampy, nightmare years? Your heavenly face, Penelope, my wife--shimmering before me, coaxing me up from my knees, begging me to stagger one step closer to home. Has love ever reached so far? Has love ever overcome more hardships than mine? (silence) Has love ever asked more manliness of a man, more womanliness of a woman? Has ever a man done more for a woman's reward? The bedroom door opens, revealing PENELOPE. PENELOPE (hollowly, to the world at large) There is no one in here of any earthly use to anyone tonight. Tomorrow is another day. She closes the door and locks it. HAROLD (to audience) End of Act One. Blackout. ACT TWO SCENE ONE DARKNESS. PAUL, alone in the living room, hammers on his mother's door. He wears pajamas. PAUL Mom! Mother! Mom! Toilet flushes. Lights come up on the living room. It is morning. PAUL Dad's got jungle fever, Mom. What'll I do? Mom! HAROLD (a moment of exhaustion) Damn. PAUL Mom? Door to the master bedroom suite opens. PENELOPE appears in the doorway. She has decided during an almost sleepless night that she owes it to PAUL and to her own self-respect to explore the possibility of beginning her life with HAROLD anew. She is terrified of him. She hopes that if she can keep calm and open, her fears will diminish. Perhaps she can love him again. PENELOPE (attempting to behave mechanically as a good wife should) What are his symptoms? PAUL Shivers and sweats and groans. His teeth chatter. What'll we do? PENELOPE What does he say to do? PAUL He can hardly talk. HAROLD (responding to a last twinge of nausea) Bluh. PENELOPE You'd better get Dr. Woodly. PAUL Really? PENELOPE It is an emergency, isn't it? PAUL (uncertainly) Yeah. PENELOPE Then get him. PAUL (thinking she has made a mistake) Okay. He exits through front door, leaves door open. We hear him knocking on a door in the hallway. PAUL Dr. Woodly? HAROLD enters, drained but recovering. He chews on a root. He has slept in the shirt and trousers he wore the night before. He is barefoot. PAUL knocks again. PAUL Dr. Woodly? There is the sound of WOODLY's door opening. WOODLY and PAUL speak unintelligibly, WOODLY evidently inviting PAUL in for a moment. WOODLY's door closes. HAROLD What's that all about? PENELOPE We thought a doctor might help. HAROLD Your old beau? PENELOPE We thought it was an emergency. HAROLD I don't want that chancre mechanic in here. PENELOPE He's a very decent man, Harold. HAROLD We all are. PENELOPE Shouldn't you lie down? HAROLD When I'm dead-- (throwing it away) or fucking. PENELOPE Paul said you were awfully sick. HAROLD I was, I was. It never lasts long. He hears WOODLY's door open, is alert to WOODLY's approach, continues to speak to PENELOPE absently. HAROLD The Indians call it "Zamba- keetya"--the little cloudburst. WOODLY and PAUL enter. WOODLY is correctly professional and carries a little black bag. WOODLY Ah! You're ambulatory! HAROLD What a brilliant diagnosis! PENELOPE You know what I want? (all look at her) I want you both to be friends. I know you both, respect you both. You should be friends. HAROLD Nothing would please me more. PENELOPE (believing him) Thank God! WOODLY (pleased but careful) Well now--what seems to be the trouble with the patient today? A touch of malaria, perhaps? HAROLD I know malaria. Malaria isn't caused by the bites of bats. WOODLY You've been bitten by bats? HAROLD Colonel Harper and I once shared a treetop with a family of bats. There was a flash flood. There were piranha fish in the water. That's how Colonel Harper lost his little toe. WOODLY You have chills? HAROLD Chills, fevers, sweats. You can describe it and name it after yourself: "the Woodly galloping crud." WOODLY enjoys the joke and the blooming friendship. HAROLD You can also describe its cure. I'm eating its cure. WOODLY I was going to ask. HAROLD Pacqualinincheewa root. WOODLY Would you say that again? HAROLD Pacqualinincheewa root. Means "cougar fang." Cures anything but a yellow streak down the back. WOODLY I've never heard of it. HAROLD Congratulations. By crossing twenty-eight feet of cockroach- infested carpet, you've become the third white man ever to hear of it. WOODLY (fascinated) Are you've seen it work cures? HAROLD Hundreds. PENELOPE I'm so glad you like each other. I was so scared, so scared. HAROLD (breaking off a piece, offering it) Have some. WOODLY Thank you. Thank you very much. PENELOPE I believe in miracles now. HAROLD Wasn't that sweet of me? WOODLY More and more we find ourselves laying aside false pride and looking into the pharmacopoeias of primitive people. Curare, ephedrine--we've found some amazing things. HAROLD We have, have we? WOODLY That's an editorial we, of course. I haven't turned up anything personally. HAROLD Everything about you is the editorial we. Take that away from you, and you'd disappear. PENELOPE Harold! HAROLD I could carve a better man out of a banana! PENELOPE Please-- HAROLD You and your damned bedside manner and your damned little black bag full of miracles. You know who filled that bag for you? Not Alice-sit-by-the-fires like yourself. Men with guts filled it, by God--men with guts enough to pay the price for miracles--suffering, ingratitude, loneliness, death-- WOODLY (off balance) Good Lord. HAROLD I can just hear the editorial wee- wee-weeing when Looseleaf and I start flying in pacqualinincheewa root. I can hear the Alice-sit-by- the-fires now: "We discovered it in the Amazon Rain Forest. Now we cure you with it. Now we lower our eyes with becoming modesty as we receive heartfelt thanks." HAROLD suddenly goes to WOODLY, takes his hand and pretends abject gratitude. HAROLD Oh, bless you, Doctor, bless you-- oh healer, oh protector, oh giver of life. WOODLY withdraws his hand, examines it as though it were diseased. PENELOPE He doesn't deserve this! You don't know him. It isn't fair! HAROLD He thought he could take my place. It is now my privilege to give an unambiguous account of why I don't think he's man enough to do that. WOODLY I thought she was a widow. HAROLD You were wrong, you quack! PENELOPE Awful. (approaching WOODLY, but not getting too close) I can't tell you how sorry I am. HAROLD Say hello to your mother. PENELOPE (fervently) Do say hello to your mother. WOODLY I'm taking her to the airport a few minutes from now. She's going to East St. Louis--to visit an aunt. PENELOPE Tell her to have a nice trip. WOODLY (moving towards the front door) Thanks. HAROLD laughs. This stings WOODLY to a cold, peace-loving anger. WOODLY I'm going to have to report you to the Department of Health. HAROLD What for? WOODLY Quarantine, possibly. You may be suffering from a loathsome disease which the American people could do without. Goodbye. He exits instantly. HAROLD Now that's what I call fun. PENELOPE Ghastly, cruel, unnecessary. HAROLD You'll get so you enjoy twitting weaklings again. You used to eat it up. PENELOPE I did? HAROLD We were one hell of a pair--and we'll be one again. What we need is a honeymoon. Let's start right now. PENELOPE A trip, you mean? HAROLD I had a trip. We'll honeymoon here. (to PAUL) Go out and play. PAUL Play? HAROLD Your mother and I do not wish to be disturbed for three full hours. PENELOPE He hasn't had breakfast yet. HAROLD Buy yourself breakfast. (takes his billfold from his hip pocket, hands PAUL a $100 bill) There we go. PAUL A hundred dollars! HAROLD The smallest thing I've got. PAUL Can I get dressed first? HAROLD Make it fast. PAUL exits to his bedroom. HAROLD turns to PENELOPE. HAROLD Honeymoon! Honeymoon! Say it: Honeymoon! PENELOPE It's so--so stark. HAROLD You used to like it stark! PENELOPE Just--bang--we have a honeymoon. HAROLD (beginning to stalk her cunningly) I'm not going to strike you. I am going to be as gentle as pie--as lemon meringue pie. You mustn't run away now. This is your loving husband approaching. I'm your husband. Society approves! PENELOPE wants to run, but doesn't. HAROLD Good! You held your ground. HAROLD is very close now, but not touching her. HAROLD Now--turn around, if you would. PENELOPE Turn around? HAROLD (laughing) I'm not about to introduce to you a jungle novelty. What I have in mind is massage--a perfectly decent massage. Turn around, turn around. PENELOPE obeys. HAROLD I'm going to touch your shoulders very gently now. You mustn't scream. (touches her shoulders gently, expertly) So tense, so tense. PENELOPE You shouldn't have talked to Norbert that way. HAROLD You're thinking with your brain instead of your body. That's why you're so tense! Forget Norbert. Relax. It's body time. PENELOPE I have a brain. HAROLD We all do. But now it's body time. Relax. Ideally, the body of a woman should feel like a hot water bottle filled with Devonshire cream. You feel like a paper bag crammed with curtain rods. Think of your muscles one by one. Let them go slack. Relax. Let the brain go blank. Relax. That's the idea-- that's my girl. Now the small of the back. Let those knots over those kidneys unsnarl. PAUL (entering, dressed to go out and play) Dad-- HAROLD (hanging on to PENELOPE, but knowing the mood has been broken) Couldn't you have vanished quietly out the back door? PAUL A hundred dollars for breakfast? HAROLD Leave a tip. PENELOPE (suddenly twisting away, having been nearly hypnotized) I have some change! HAROLD Ram it up your ass! He realizes at once that his violent side has severely damaged the side of him which is the great seducer. PENELOPE and PAUL are straight as ramrods. HAROLD I do beg your pardon. (sincerely) Those words were illy chosen. There is tension in all of us here. Something you must both understand, however, is that the head of this household is home, and he is Harold Ryan, and people do what he says when he says it. That's the way this particular clock is constructed. Lion doorbell roars. HAROLD Sometimes even I hate that thing. PAUL goes reeling to the door in terror, admits LOOSELEAF, who has also been sleeping in his clothes. LOOSELEAF (walking right in) I've been looking at motorcycles. HAROLD Go home! LOOSELEAF You ever own a motorcycle? HAROLD (to PENELOPE) You're right! We'll take a trip. A trip is what we'll take. (to LOOSELEAF) I don't want to talk about motorcycles. I don't want to talk about tits. Go home! LOOSELEAF Haven't got one. PENELOPE (to LOOSELEAF) And you went home unannounced, too? LOOSELEAF I dunno. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I did. HAROLD And how were things? LOOSELEAF Let's talk about something else. PENELOPE (to HAROLD) Alice got married again. LOOSELEAF She did? PENELOPE You didn't even find that out? LOOSELEAF There was so much going on. PENELOPE She married an accountant named Stanley Kestenbaum. LOOSELEAF So that's it! "Kestenbaum, Kestenbaum." Everybody was yelling "Kestenbaum, Kestenbaum." I thought it was some foreign language. HAROLD Otherwise, how are things? LOOSELEAF I sure didn't expect her to drop dead. PENELOPE Dead! LOOSELEAF Jesus. PENELOPE (sick) Alice is dead? LOOSELEAF No, no--shit no. (stops short) Excuse me, Penelope. PENELOPE For what? LOOSELEAF For saying "shit." Or is that okay now? PENELOPE (shrilly) Who's dead? LOOSELEAF My mother-in-law. Fire engines, pulmotors, doctors, cops, coroners-- PENELOPE What happened? LOOSELEAF Well--I walked up to the front door. I was still alive. Big surprise. I rang the doorbell, and old Mrs. Wheeler answered. She had her Goddamn knitting. I said, "Guess who?" She conked right out. PENELOPE How horrible. LOOSELEAF Yeah--cripes. I never did get any sense out of Alice. She found me holding up the old lady, dead as a mackerel. It was a bitch. You know--maybe Mrs. Wheeler was going to die then and there anyway, even if I'd been the paper boy. Maybe not. I dunno, boy. That's civilian life for you. Who knows what kills anybody? HAROLD Could have happened to anybody. LOOSELEAF First Nagasaki--now this. HAROLD How about breakfast, wife? PENELOPE Breakfast? HAROLD (as though to a waitress) Scrambled eggs, kippered herring, fried potatoes--and a whole onion. I want to eat the onion like an apple. Do you understand? PENELOPE turns away. HAROLD And lots of orange juice--oceans of orange juice. PENELOPE Mrs. Wheeler is dead. HAROLD All right--bring me a side order of Mrs. Wheeler. (regarding LOOSELEAF, resigning himself to being stuck with his company for a little while longer) Oh, hell--sit down, Colonel. Penelope will bring you some chow. PENELOPE That is the most heartless statement I ever heard pass between human lips. HAROLD (honestly mystified) Which one? PENELOPE (chokingly) "Bring me a side order of Mrs. Wheeler." HAROLD She's up in Heaven now. She didn't hear. She is experiencing nothing but pure happiness. There's nothing nicer than that. (suddenly, angrily, slamming a table with his fist) Chow! Harold Ryan wants chow! PENELOPE What a honeymoon. HAROLD Honeymoon temporarily canceled. (catching sight of PAUL, whose physical appearance really offends him) The boy should still go out and exercise. I have the impression he never gets any exercise. He simply bloats himself with Fig Newtons and bakes his brains over steam radiators. PENELOPE You're wrong. HAROLD Then let me see him go out and get some exercise. (explosively) Right now! PAUL goes reeling in terror to the front door, opens it. PAUL (to HAROLD, abjectly) What kind of exercise? HAROLD Beat the shit out of someone who hates you. PAUL exits. HAROLD pounds on a table. HAROLD Chow, chow, chow! God damn it-- nutriment! PENELOPE We're all going to have to go out for breakfast. The cook quit yesterday. HAROLD You're a woman, aren't you? PENELOPE nods. HAROLD Then we have a cook. PENELOPE hesitates. HAROLD Cook, by God! Cook! You're the nigger now. PENELOPE People don't use that word any more. HAROLD Don't lecture me on race relations. I don't have a molecule of prejudice. I've been in battle with every kind of man there is. I've been in bed with every kind of woman there is--from a Laplander to a Tierra del Fuegian. If I'd ever been to the South Pole, there'd be a hell of a lot of penguins who looked like me. Cook! PENELOPE You leave me so--so without-- without dignity. HAROLD People now have dignity when frying eggs? PENELOPE They don't have to feel like slaves. HAROLD (grandly) Then go now--and fry with dignity-- sunnyside up. PENELOPE attempts to respond to this, but is too enraged. She exits, making a tiny mosquito-like hum. LOOSELEAF I dunno, boy. HAROLD The educational process. LOOSELEAF I guess. You're lucky you don't have any old people around here. HAROLD She was about to get married again. She locked me out of the bedroom last night. LOOSELEAF starts to laugh. HAROLD shuts him up. HAROLD What's funny about that? LOOSELEAF (apologetically) You know me, boy. PENELOPE enters from the kitchen with a question on her lips. HAROLD I should have torn that door off its hinges. Should have scrogged her ears off. Should have broken the bed. (seeing PENELOPE) What do you want? (words fail her) Well? PENELOPE I--I was wondering--is there anything you shouldn't eat--because of jungle fever? HAROLD I could eat a raw baby crocodile. (turning to LOOSELEAF crassly) The way to get your wife back is in bed. Do such a job on her that she'll be lucky if she can crawl around on all fours. (to PENELOPE) We're starving. Do you mind? PENELOPE exits dumbly, detesting the word "scrog," which she has never heard before. HAROLD She had two lovers, by the way. LOOSELEAF starts to laugh again, stops the laugh as HAROLD glowers. LOOSELEAF Excuse me. HAROLD One of them is the doctor, whose weapons are compassion, unselfishness, peacefulness-- maudlin concern. LOOSELEAF Huh. HAROLD He and his love are like a retiarius. Do you know what a retiarius is? LOOSELEAF He's a kind of gladiator who fights with a knife and a net and doesn't wear anything but a jockstrap. HAROLD (amazed) How do you know that? LOOSELEAF You told me. HAROLD When? LOOSELEAF When we were up in the tree so long--with the bats. HAROLD Oh. I'd forgotten. LOOSELEAF Fourteen times you told me. I counted. HAROLD Really? LOOSELEAF You'd get this funny look in your eyes, and I'd say to myself, "Oh, Jesus--he's going to tell me what a retiarius is again." HAROLD (acknowledging a flaw in a manly way) Sorry. PENELOPE enters, is about to speak. HAROLD stops her with a raised finger. HAROLD Let me guess--breakfast is served? PENELOPE No. HAROLD What then? PENELOPE I do not wish to be scrogged--ever. I never heard that word, but when I heard it, I knew it was one thing I never wanted to have happen to me. HAROLD That's what you're supposed to say. PENELOPE This is not a coy deception. I do not want to be scrogged. I want love. I want tenderness. HAROLD You don't know you want. That's the way God built you! PENELOPE I will not be scrogged. I remember one time I saw you wrench a hook from the throat of a fish with a pair of pliers, and you promised me that the fish couldn't feel. HAROLD It couldn't! PENELOPE I'd like to have the expert opinion of the fish--along with yours. HAROLD (shaking his head) Fish can't feel. PENELOPE Well, I can. Some injuries, spiritual or physical, can be excruciating to me. I'm not a silly carhop any more. (an unexpected, minor insight) Maybe you're right about fish. When I was a carhop, I didn't feel much more than a fish would. But I've been sensitized. I have ideas now--and solid information. I know a lot more now--and a lot of it has to do with you. HAROLD (sensing danger) Such as?... PENELOPE The whole concept of heroism--and its sexual roots. HAROLD Tell me about its sexual roots. PENELOPE It's complicated and I don't want to go into it now, because it's bound to sound insulting--even though nobody means for anybody to be insulted. It's just the truth. HAROLD I like the truth. I wouldn't be alive today if I weren't one of the biggest fans truth ever had. PENELOPE Well--part of it is that heroes basically hate home and never stay there very long, and make awful messes while they're there. HAROLD Go on. PENELOPE (blurting) And they have very mixed feelings about women. They hate them in a way. One reason they like war so much is that they can capture enemy women and not have to make love to them slowly and gently. They can scrog them, as you say-- (pause) for revenge. HAROLD You learned this in some college course? PENELOPE I learned a lot of things in college. Actually--it was Norbert who told me that. HAROLD (darkly) The doctor. PENELOPE Yes. HAROLD And what is his most cherished possession? PENELOPE (not sensing the drift of the conversation) His most cherished possession? His violin, I guess. HAROLD And he keeps it in his apartment? PENELOPE (still at sea) Yes. HAROLD And no one's there now? PENELOPE I don't think so. HAROLD That's too bad. I would rather have him at home--to see what I'm going to do. PENELOPE (suddenly catching on, sick with fear) What are you going to do? HAROLD He did his best to destroy my most precious possession, which is the high opinion women have of me. I'm now going to even that score. I'm going to break in his door and I'm going to smash his violin. PENELOPE No you're not! HAROLD Why not? PENELOPE Because if you do--I'll leave you. HAROLD (promptly and emotionlessly) Goodbye. Blackout. SCENE TWO SPOTLIGHT comes up on VON KONIGSWALD and WANDA JUNE, dressed as before. They have become close friends. WANDA JUNE We have this new club up here in Heaven. VON KONIGSWALD Yes, we do. WANDA JUNE We only have two members so far, but it's growing all the time. VON KONIGSWALD We have enough for a shuffleboard team. In Heaven, shuffleboard is everything. Hitler plays shuffleboard. WANDA JUNE Albert Einstein plays shuffleboard. VON KONIGSWALD Mozart plays shuffleboard. WANDA JUNE Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice in Wonderland, plays shuffleboard. VON KONIGSWALD Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. WANDA JUNE Walt Disney, who gave us Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, plays shuffleboard. Jesus Christ plays shuffleboard. VON KONIGSWALD It was almost worth the trip--to find out that Jesus Christ in Heaven was just another guy, playing shuffleboard. I like his sense of humor, though--you know? He's got a blue-and-gold warm-up jacket he wears. You know what it says on the back? "Pontius Pilate Athletic Club." Most people don't get it. Most people think there really is a Pontius Pilate Athletic Club. WANDA JUNE We're going to have jackets, aren't we? VON KONIGSWALD You bet! "The Harold Ryan Fan Club." Pink, eh? With a yellow streak up the back. (both laugh) We got very good tailor shops up here. They'll make you any kind of uniform, any kind of sweatsuit you want. Judas Iscariot--he's got this black jacket with a skull and crossbones over the heart. He walks around all hunched over, and he never looks anybody in the eye, and written on the back of his jacket are the words, "Go take a flying-- WANDA JUNE punches him in the ribs. VON KONIGSWALD leap at the moon." MILDRED, HAROLD's third wife, enters. She is voluptuous, blowzy, tough--about forty-five. She has trouble with alcohol. VON KONIGSWALD is expecting her. VON KONIGSWALD Aha! Hello! You're Mildred, right? MILDRED I heard you were looking for me. VON KONIGSWALD You were Harold Ryan's third wife. Right? MILDRED Yes. VON KONIGSWALD You want to join the Harold Ryan Fan Club? Wear a pink jacket with a yellow streak up the back? MILDRED Do I have to? Who's the little girl? WANDA JUNE Mr. Ryan just borrowed my birthday cake. I don't really know him. MILDRED Thought you were another wife, maybe. WANDA JUNE I'm only ten years old. MILDRED That's what he wanted--a ten-year- old wife. He'd come home from a war or a safari, and he'd wind up talking to the little kids. WANDA JUNE Won't you please join our club? Please? MILDRED Honey--Alcoholics Anonymous takes all the time I've got--and Harold Ryan is an individual I would rather forget. He drove me to drink. He drove his first two wives to drink. VON KONIGSWALD Because he was cruel? MILDRED (covering WANDA JUNE's little ears) Premature ejaculation. VON KONIGSWALD Ach soooooooooo. MILDRED No grown woman is a fan of premature ejaculation. Harold would come home trumpeting and roaring. He would the kick the furniture with his boots, spit into corners and the fireplace. He would make me presents of stuffed fish and helmets with holes in them. He would tell me that he had now earned the reward that only a woman could give him, and he'd tear off my clothes. He would carry me into the bedroom, telling me to scream and kick my feet. That was very important to him. I did it. I tried to be a good wife. He told me to imagine a herd of stampeding water buffalo. I couldn't do that, but I pretended I did. It was all over--ten seconds after he'd said the word "buffalo." Then he'd zip up his pants, and go outside, and tell true war stories to the little kids. Any little kids. VON KONIGSWALD That is sad. MILDRED (blankly) Is it? (pause) I have this theory about why men kill each other and break things. VON KONIGSWALD Ja? MILDRED Never mind. It's a dumb theory. I was going to say it was all sexual..but everything is sexual...but alcohol. (making peace sign) Peace. VON KONIGSWALD WANDA JUNE (making peace sign) (making peace sign) Peace. Peace. Blackout. SCENE THREE SILENCE. Darkness. WOODY WOODPECKER VOICE Ha ha ha ha ha! (pistol shot) You got me, pal. Silence. A baby cries. Silence. The lights come up. LOOSELEAF Go to the funeral? HAROLD Of course! Not only go to it but go to it in full uniform! Rent a uniform! LOOSELEAF That's against the law, isn't it? I can't wear a uniform anymore. HAROLD Wear your uniform and every decoration, and let them despise you, if they dare. LOOSELEAF Alice would be absolutely tear-ass. HAROLD When I was a naive young recruit in Spain, I used to wonder why soldiers bayoneted oil paintings, shot the noses off of statues and defecated into grand pianos. I now understand: It was to teach civilians the deepest sort of respect for men in uniform-- uncontrollable fear. (raises his glass) To our women. LOOSELEAF I didn't know we had any women left. HAROLD The world is teeming with women-- ours to enjoy. LOOSELEAF Every time I start thinking like that I get the clap. Lion doorbell roars. HAROLD (going to the door) This could be my next wife. He admits HERB SHUTTLE, who carries a bouquet of roses. SHUTTLE (puzzled by HAROLD) Hello. HAROLD How are you, honeybunch? SHUTTLE Is Penelope in? HAROLD The posies are for her? SHUTTLE I wanted to apologize. HAROLD You've come to the right man. SHUTTLE I forgot my vacuum cleaner. HAROLD I forget mine for years on end. SHUTTLE (suddenly realizing who HAROLD is) Oh my God-- (pause; points) And you are Looseleaf Harper. LOOSELEAF Hi. SHUTTLE faints. HAROLD (crowing) It's what I've dreamed of all my life, Looseleaf! To have a grown man realize who I was--and faint! (to audience) End of Act Two. Blackout. ACT THREE SCENE ONE MILDRED enters drunkenly up aisle, sits precariously on apron of stage and speaks to audience. MILDRED Two days later. The afternoon of the day of Looseleaf Harper's mother-in-law's funeral. You got it? Two days later. (pause) You know what happened in Heaven today? There was a tornado. I'm not kidding you--there was a Goddamn tornado. Tore up fifty-six houses, a dance pavilion and a Ferris wheel. Drove a shuffleboard stick clear through a telephone pole. Nobody got killed. Nobody ever gets killed. They just bounce around a lot. Then they get up-- and start playing shuffleboard. (pause) I never saw a tornado when I was alive, and I grew up in Oklahoma. There's this big, black, funnel- shaped cloud. Sounds like a railroad train without the whistle. I had to come to Heaven to see a thing like that. A lot of people got photographs. (pause) After the tornado was over, a man had some film left and he wanted to take pictures of me--to use up the roll. I don't like people who go around taking pictures of everything. Nothing's real to some people unless they've got photographs. (pause) Two days later--right? She exits clumsily, the way she came. Silence. Lights come up on the living room, which has become a pigpen. LOOSELEAF, HAROLD, SHUTTLE and PAUL sit around a dinner of nearly raw beefsteak set on the coffee table. LOOSELEAF wears an ill- fitting uniform, which he has rented. LOOSELEAF I told you the uniform wouldn't help. HAROLD It helped more than you know. Down deep, people were deeply affected. LOOSELEAF You keep on saying "deep" and "deeply." I wish something good would happen on the surface sometime. SHUTTLE I can't get over how you guys are my friends. Harold Ryan and Looseleaf Harper are my friends. HAROLD Our pleasure. SHUTTLE Eight years you guys were together-- through thick and thin. HAROLD For seven and a half of those years we were heavily drugged--or we would have been home long before now, believe me. We were saved from starvation by the Lupi-Loopo Indians, who fed us a strange blue soup. SHUTTLE Blue soup. HAROLD It sapped our will--made us peaceful and unenterprising. It was a form of chemical castration. We became two more sleepy Indians. LOOSELEAF (to PAUL) So, kid--how they hanging? Or don't you say that to a little kid? HAROLD He's a man. (to PAUL) Tell him you're a man. PAUL I'm a man. HAROLD We've got to do something to make this boy's voice change. I wonder if we couldn't get bull balls somewhere, and fry 'em up. (to PAUL) Still miss your mother? PAUL (weakly) No. HAROLD You're free to go to her, if you want. If you'd rather be a woman and run with the women, just say the word. SHUTTLE Are we really going to find out where the elephants go to die? HAROLD I'd rather go to Viet Nam. SHUTTLE Would somebody please pass me the catsup? HAROLD What you say is, "Pass the fucking catsup." SHUTTLE Pass the fucking catsup. LOOSELEAF gives it to him. SHUTTLE dumps catsup on his steak. SHUTTLE I keep thinking about Africa--and the elephants. LOOSELEAF I don't think I'll go. HAROLD Of course you'll go! You're going to fly the helicopter. LOOSELEAF I dunno. HAROLD You're so low! Look at that beautiful red meat. You haven't touched it. LOOSELEAF Sorry. At least you've got a place to come back to. I don't have a place to come back to anymore. HAROLD All the more reason to go to Africa. LOOSELEAF I dunno. You know. (pause) I used to really love that Alice. Do you know that? HAROLD You know her for what she is now-- garbage. LOOSELEAF I dunno. HAROLD She was always a rotten wife! She was against everything manly you ever wanted to do. (to SHUTTLE) He was the most daring test pilot in the country at one time, and his wife made him quit. She made him become a life insurance salesman instead. SHUTTLE I'd think any woman worth her salt would be proud to be married to a test pilot. I know I would. LOOSELEAF She tried to like it. She was a very nervous woman. SHUTTLE I could tell that at the funeral. (to PAUL) Would you please pass the fucking catsup again? Was it dangerous testing planes? LOOSELEAF I dunno. Who knows? You know-- you're up there, and you're in some plane nobody ever flew before. You put her into a dive, and everything starts screaming and shaking, and maybe some pipe breaks and squirts oil or gasoline or hydraulic fluid in your face. You wonder how the hell you ever got in such a mess, and then you pull back on the controls, and you black out for a couple of seconds. When you come to, everything's usually fairly okay--except maybe you threw up all over yourself. It's just another job, but you try and tell Alice that. HAROLD Insurance! SHUTTLE You actually sold insurance! LOOSELEAF I tried. (indicating HAROLD) I sold him some. That was the only insurance I ever sold. Hyena doorbell laughs. SHUTTLE What an awful sound! HAROLD Get used to it. (to PAUL) Back door, Paul. PAUL exits to the kitchen. HAROLD (to SHUTTLE) It's possible, of course, that you'll die in Africa. SHUTTLE I've considered that. HAROLD Selling vacuum cleaners isn't the best preparation you could have. SHUTTLE I just want one true adventure before I die. HAROLD That can be arranged. PAUL appears at the mouth of the doorway. He has something amazing to announce. PAUL Dad? HAROLD Who was it? PAUL It's Mom. He steps aside. PENELOPE appears. HAROLD and SHUTTLE stand, HAROLD angrily. LOOSELEAF (openly, cheerfully) Hi, Penelope. HAROLD (to LOOSELEAF) Shut up, you ninny! (to PENELOPE) You were never to come here again-- for any reason whatsoever! PENELOPE I came for my clothes. HAROLD Sneaking in the back door. PENELOPE I rang. It seemed like the proper door for a servile, worthless organism to use. HAROLD Your clothes are at the city dump by now. Perhaps you can get a map from the Department of Sanitation. PENELOPE I came for Paul as well. HAROLD If he wants to go. PENELOPE You took him to the funeral, I hear. HAROLD He'd never seen a corpse. He's seen a dozen now. PENELOPE A dozen? HAROLD It's a big and busy funeral home. PENELOPE (to PAUL) Did you like it, dear? HAROLD It isn't a matter of liking. It's a matter of getting used to death-- as a perfectly natural thing. Would you mind leaving? No woman ever walks out on Harold Ryan, and then comes back--for anything. PENELOPE Unless she has nerve. HAROLD More nerve than the doctor, I must admit. He hasn't been home for two days. Has he suddenly lost interest in sleep and color television--and the violin? PENELOPE He knows you shattered his violin. HAROLD I'm dying to hear of his reaction. The thrill of smashing something isn't in the smashing, but in the owner's reactions. PENELOPE He cried. HAROLD About a broomstick and a cigar box--and the attenuated intestines of an alley cat. PENELOPE Two hundred years old. HAROLD He feels awful loss--which was precisely my intention. PENELOPE (moving toward the violin, and, incidentally, placing herself much closer to SHUTTLE) He had hoped that someone would be playing it still--two hundred years from now. HAROLD (echoing, expressing the futility of such long-term expectations) Hope. He spots the vacuum cleaner, probes it with his toe, asks SHUTTLE with seriousness. HAROLD Do you hope with all your heart that someone will be using this vacuum cleaner two hundred years from now? SHUTTLE starts to answer, but stops, supposing that he is being made sport of. HAROLD Fifty years? SHUTTLE You're making a joke. HAROLD (not joking) I'm interested in long-term expectations. SHUTTLE (flatly, protecting his dignity) It's engineered to last about fifteen years. HAROLD (downstage center, addressing the civilized world) Things. Oh--you silly people and your things. Things, things, things. PENELOPE (to SHUTTLE, as HAROLD reflects majestically on the emptiness of materialism) You and Harold are friends? SHUTTLE (revealing how mixed and worried his feelings are) He's the most wonderful guy I ever met, Penelope. He's the most complicated guy I ever met. I can't believe it, but he's going to take me to Africa with him. HAROLD Things. PENELOPE You feel I've done a dreadful thing--leaving him? SHUTTLE (almost hypnotized) If I were married to him, I sure wouldn't walk out. HAROLD (directly to the audience) Never mind the condition of your body and your spirit! Look after your things, your things! PENELOPE (to LOOSELEAF) And you, Colonel? Let me guess: You don't know. LOOSELEAF I dunno. HAROLD (to the audience) Go live in a safe-deposit box--with your things. LOOSELEAF Jesus--I wouldn't want to be married to him. You know? HAROLD What's this? LOOSELEAF I wouldn't want to be married to me. We're too crazy. You know? HAROLD In what way, pray tell? LOOSELEAF I didn't like that violin thing. That was sad. HAROLD Tit for tat--as simple as that. LOOSELEAF You never played a violin. HAROLD You did? LOOSELEAF Yeah. I practically forgot. But after you busted that thing, I got to thinking, "Jesus--maybe I'll start the violin again." That didn't just belong to Woodly. That belonged to everybody. Maybe he would have sold it to me, and I could have some fun. After you busted the violin, boy, and Penelope walked out, I thought to myself, "Jesus--who could blame her?" HAROLD Maybe it's time you got out. LOOSELEAF Me? HAROLD You. LOOSELEAF Okay. (pause) Okay. HAROLD You're an imbecile. LOOSELEAF I know you think that. HAROLD Everybody thinks that. LOOSELEAF Anybody who'd drop an atom bomb on a city has to be pretty dumb. HAROLD The one direct, decisive, intelligent act of your life! LOOSELEAF (shaking his head) I don't think so. (pause) It could have been. HAROLD If what? LOOSELEAF If I hadn't done it. If I'd said to myself, "Screw it. I'm going to let all those people down there live." HAROLD They were enemies. We were at war. LOOSELEAF Yeah, Jesus--but wars would be a lot better, I think, if guys would say to themselves sometimes, "Jesus--I'm not going to do that to the enemy. That's too much." You could have been the manufacturer of that violin there, even though you don't know how to make a violin, just by not busting it up. I could have been the father of all those people in Nagasaki, and the mother, too, just by not dropping the bomb. (pause) I sent 'em to Heaven instead--and I don't think there is one. HAROLD Goodbye, Looseleaf. LOOSELEAF walks around and gathers his things. LOOSELEAF So long, you guys. PENELOPE What will you do, Colonel? LOOSELEAF I dunno. Marry the first whore who's nice to me, I guess. Get a job in a motorcycle shop. So long, you guys. PENELOPE kisses LOOSELEAF. Everybody but HAROLD acknowledges his departure is some way. HAROLD turns his back. LOOSELEAF exits, closes door. Silence. SHUTTLE Who's going to fly our helicopter now? HAROLD (blackly, tautly) What? SHUTTLE We got to get another pilot. HAROLD For what? SHUTTLE For Africa. HAROLD Do you really think that Harold Ryan would go to Africa with a vacuum cleaner salesman? SHUTTLE You invited me. HAROLD To make an ass of yourself. SHUTTLE What went wrong? HAROLD We're ahead of schedule, that's all. You're finding out here what you would have found out in Africa-- that you are a rabbit, born to be eaten alive. SHUTTLE Gee whiz-- HAROLD It would have been fun to see you drop your rifle and run the first time an elephant charged us. SHUTTLE I wouldn't drop my gun. HAROLD You're hollow, like a woman. SHUTTLE I'm smarter than Looseleaf. HAROLD He can shoot! He can hold his ground! He can attack! You're in your proper profession right now-- sucking up dirt for frumpish housewives, closet drunkards every one. SHUTTLE (close to tears) How do you know how I'd act in Africa? HAROLD Look how you're acting now! This is a moment of truth, and you're almost crying. Slug me! SHUTTLE You're my buddy. HAROLD Out! Out! SHUTTLE No matter what you say to me, I still think you're the greatest guy I ever knew. HAROLD Out! SHUTTLE You--you aren't going to have any friends left, if you don't watch out. HAROLD Thank God! He propels SHUTTLE out the door and slams it. He faces PENELOPE and PAUL, speaks with malicious calm. HAROLD Well--what have we here? A family. PENELOPE Almost a Christmas scene. HAROLD Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. PENELOPE Just one favor. HAROLD Money? There's plenty of that. Mildred got the brewery. You'll probably get the baseball team. PENELOPE I want you to tell me that you loved me once. HAROLD is about to dismiss this request majestically, but PENELOPE cuts him off with a sharp, dangerous warning. PENELOPE I mean it! I must have that, and so must Paul. Tell him that he was conceived in love, even though you hate me now. Tell both of us that somewhere is our lives was love. HAROLD experiments inwardly with responses of various kinds, obviously saying them to himself, directing himself with his hands. Nothing quite satisfies him. HAROLD Testimonials of that sort are--are beyond my range. I don't do them well. (sincerely, not liking to fail in any way) That's a failing, I know. PENELOPE (accepting this ruefully) I see. PAUL I don't care. I don't care if there was love or not. That's all right. I'm going to go to my room and close the door. I don't want to hear any more. PAUL exits wretchedly to his room. HAROLD See how you've upset him. He was so merry and hale before you came home. PENELOPE How unhappy he's going to be--alone in his room. HAROLD He'll play with his rifle, I expect. That will cheer him up. PENELOPE Rifle? HAROLD I bought him a twenty-two yesterday--on the way home from Hamburger Heaven. And where is the good doctor? Have you two feathered a love nest somewhere? PENELOPE He's in East St. Louis with his mother--visiting an aunt. HAROLD Last I heard, his mother was going alone. PENELOPE He's afraid of you, Harold. He knew you'd want to fight him. He doesn't know anything about fighting. He hates pain. HAROLD And you, a supposedly healthy woman, do not detest him for his cowardice? PENELOPE It seems highly intelligent to me. HAROLD What kind of a country has this become? The men wear beads and refuse to fight--and the woman adore them. America's days of greatness are over. It has drunk the blue soup. PENELOPE Blue soup? HAROLD An Indian narcotic we were forced to drink. It put us in a haze--a honey-colored haze which was lavender around the edge. We laughed, we sang, we snoozed. When a bird called, we answered back. Every living thing was our brother or our sister, we thought. Looseleaf stepped on a cockroach six inches long, and we cried. We had a funeral that went on for five days--for the cockroach! I sang "Oh Promise Me." Can you imagine? Where the hell did I ever learn the words to "Oh Promise Me"? Looseleaf delivered a lecture on maintenance procedures for the hydraulic system of a B-36. All the time we were drinking more blue soup, more blue soup! Never stopped drinking blue soup. Blue soup all the time. We'd go out after food in that honey-colored haze, and everything that was edible had a penumbra of lavender. PENELOPE Sounds quite beautiful. HAROLD (angered) Beautiful, you say? It wasn't life, it wasn't death--it wasn't anything! (anger still mounting) Beautiful? Seven years gone-- (snapping his fingers) like that, like that! Seven years of silliness and random dreams! Seven years of nothingness, when there could have been so much! PENELOPE Like what? HAROLD (becoming dangerously physical, seizing a battle-ax) Action! Interaction! Give and take! Challenge and response! He splits a coffee table with the ax. PAUL (rushing in with his .22 rifle at a high port arms) Mom? HAROLD What's this? PAUL wilts instantly, attempts to make his rifle inconspicuous, harmless, meaningless. HAROLD What's this? PAUL Nothing. HAROLD That's a rifle you have? PAUL No. HAROLD Of course it is. Is it loaded? PAUL No. HAROLD Open the bolt! PAUL obeys. A cartridge pops out. HAROLD That's a cartridge, if I'm not mistaken. Gunpowder, bullet, cartridge case, and fulminate of mercury percussion cap--all set to go. PAUL I was cleaning it. HAROLD Pick up that cartridge and slip it back into the chamber--where it belongs. PAUL Gee whiz, Dad-- HAROLD Welcome to manhood, you little sparrowfart! Load that gun! PAUL (bleatingly) Dad-- HAROLD Too late! It's man to man now. Protecting your mother from me, are you? Protect her!` PENELOPE He's a child! HAROLD With an iron penis three feet long. Load it, boy. PENELOPE You're begging him to kill you? HAROLD If he thinks he's man enough. PENELOPE (amazed by sudden insight) That's really what you want. You become furious when people won't make you dead. HAROLD I'm teaching my son to be a man. PENELOPE So he can kill you. You hate your own life that much. You beg for a hero to kill you. HAROLD I plan to live one hundred years! PENELOPE No you don't. HAROLD If that's the case--what's to prevent my killing myself? PENELOPE Honor, I suppose. HAROLD What a handsome word. PENELOPE (wonderingly) But it's all balled up in your head with death. The highest honor is death. When you talk of these animals, one by one, you don't just talk of killing them. You honored them with death. Harold--it is not honor to be killed. HAROLD If you've lived a good life, fought well-- PENELOPE It's still just death, the absence of life--no honor at all. It's worse than the blue soup by far-- that nothingness. To you, though, it's the honor that crowns them all. HAROLD May I continue with the rearing of my son? (to PAUL) Load that gun! PAUL shakes his head. HAROLD Load it! PAUL refuses. HAROLD Then speak, by God! Can you fight with words? PAUL I don't want to fight you. HAROLD Get mad! Tell me you don't like the way I treat your mother! Tell me you wish I'd never come home! PAUL (weakly) It's your house, Dad. HAROLD (throwing up his hands) Everybody simply evaporates! (including the audience, inviting it to share his indignation) There are guest issues to be fought out here--or to be argued, at least. The enemy, the champion of all who oppose me, is in East St. Louis with his mother and his aunt! I have so far done battle with a woman and a child and a violin. PENELOPE The old heroes are going to have to get used to this, Harold--the new heroes who refuse to fight. They're trying to save the planet. There's no time for battle, no point to battle anymore. HAROLD I feel mocked, insulted, with no sort of satisfaction in prospect. We don't have to fight with steel. I can fight with words. I'm not an inarticulate ape, you know, who grabs a rock for want of a vocabulary. Call him up in East St. Louis, Penelope. Tell him to come here. PENELOPE No. HAROLD (emptily, turning away) No. Pause. He contemplates PAUL. HAROLD And my son, the only son of Harold Ryan--he's going to grow up to be a vanisher, too? PENELOPE I don't know. I hope he never hunts. I hope he never kills another human being. HAROLD (to PAUL, quietly) You hope this, too? PAUL I don't know what I hope. But I don't think you care what I hope, anyway. You don't know me. (indicating PENELOPE) You don't know her, either. I don't think you know anybody. You talk to everybody just the same. HAROLD I'm talking to you gently now. PAUL Yeah. But it's going to get loud again. PENELOPE He's right, Harold. To you, we're simply pieces in a game--this one labeled "woman," that one labeled "son." There is no piece labeled "enemy" and you are confused. Lion doorbell roars. PAUL goes to answer it. HAROLD There won't be anybody out there. That's the new style: nobody anywhere. PAUL, aghast, admits NORBERT WOODLY. WOODLY is high as a kite on his own adrenaline. PENELOPE (aghast, chokingly) Get out of here. WOODLY It's really that bad? He comes farther into the room, bravely. PENELOPE You fool, you fool. WOODLY Oh--look at the poor, crucified violin, would you? HAROLD It died for your sins. WOODLY This little corpse is intended as a lesson? HAROLD There's a certain amount of information there. WOODLY Lest we forget how cruel you are. PENELOPE (moving to the telephone) I'm going to call the police. HAROLD (frighteningly) Don't! WOODLY I agree. WOODLY closes the door. PENELOPE backs away from the phone, drifts toward PAUL, who still holds his rifle. HAROLD This is man to man. WOODLY It's healer to killer. Is that the same thing? HAROLD What brought you back? WOODLY The same hairy, humorless old gods who move you from hither to yon. "Honor, " if you like. HAROLD (to PENELOPE) He's a champion after all. WOODLY Of the corpses and cripples you create for our instruction--when all we can learn from them is this: how cruel you are. PENELOPE This is suicide. (to PAUL) Go get the police. HAROLD Stop! PAUL stops. HAROLD There's going to be no bloodshed here. I know how he'll fight--the only way he can fight: with words. The truth. (to WOODLY) Am I correct? WOODLY Yes. HAROLD I can defeat him with anything from flavored toothpicks to siege howitzers. But he got it into his little head that he could come here and demolish Harold Ryan with words. The truth! Correct? WOODLY Correct. HAROLD What an hallucination! (laughs) Oh, dear, dear, dear, dear. Oh dearie me. WOODLY You haven't heard me yet. HAROLD You intend to crack my eardrums with your voice? Will I bleed from my every orifice? Who will clean up this awful mess? WOODLY We'll find out now, won't we? PENELOPE No, we won't. No matter how it begins, it will end in death. Because it always does. Isn't that always how it ends, Harold--in death? HAROLD There has to be a threat of some sort, nobility of some sort, glamour of some sort, sport of some sort. These elements are lacking. WOODLY You're a filthy, rotten bastard. HAROLD (pretending to be wounded) Oooooo. That hurt. WOODLY You're old--so old. HAROLD Now who's being cruel? WOODLY A living fossil! Like the cockroaches and the horseshoe crabs. HAROLD We do survive, don't we? You're going to have to apologize, of course, for calling me a bastard. That's a matter of form--not allowing you or anybody to call me a bastard. No rush about that. Just remember to apologize sometime soon. PENELOPE takes the rifle from PAUL. WOODLY You're a son of a bitch. HAROLD Yes--well--uh--that's another one of those statements which more or less automatically requires an apology. Whenever you feel like it. It's sort of like turning off an alarm clock that's ringing loudly. Your apology turns off the alarm. PENELOPE (leveling the gun) I'm turning off the alarm. I'm turning off everything. HAROLD Ah! The lady is armed. PENELOPE I want you to get out of here, Norbert. Harold--I want you to sit down in the chair, and not lift a finger until Norbert is gone. HAROLD (to WOODLY) Whoever has the gun, you see, gets to tell everybody else exactly what to do. It's the American way. PENELOPE I mean it! HAROLD Then you'd better fix your bayonet, because there aren't any bullets in the gun. PENELOPE (to PAUL) Where's the bullet? PAUL makes no move to help. HAROLD Help your mother find the bullet. PENELOPE (to PAUL, pointing to the floor) There it is. Give it to me. PAUL obeys. PENELOPE How do I load? HAROLD (to PAUL) Load it for her. PAUL shakily obeys. HAROLD Cock it, too. PAUL obeys. HAROLD Give it to her. PAUL obeys. PENELOPE All right! Am I exceedingly dangerous now? HAROLD The National Safety Council would be appalled. PENELOPE Then listen to me. (angrily) You're both disgusting--with your pride, your pride. (to WOODLY) I hate you for coming here--like a federal marshal in a western film. I loved you when you stayed away. But here you are now--high noon in the Superbowl! You fool, you fool. WOODLY Everything's going to be beautiful. PENELOPE You fake! You're no better than the dumbest general in the Pentagon. (pause) You're not going to beat Harold. You're not going to beat anybody. You're not going to stay here, either--yammering and taunting until you're most gloriously killed. Go home! HAROLD She's right, Norbert--go home. WOODLY I haven't said all I have to say. PENELOPE Out! WOODLY I haven't told you, Harold, how comical I think you are. HAROLD (hit squarely, absolutely unable to forgive) Comical? PENELOPE (to HAROLD) Sit down or I'll shoot! HAROLD goes over to her, easily takes the gun away) HAROLD Give me that Goddamn thing! Now get out of here, or I might kill you. Who knows? PENELOPE (terrified) You've killed women? HAROLD Seventeen of them--eleven by accident. March! Move! (to PAUL) You, too! PENELOPE and PAUL move toward the front door. PENELOPE Norbert--you come, too. (to HAROLD) Let him go, Harold. Let him go. HAROLD Of course he can go--if he'll just go down on his hands and knees for a moment--and promise me that he does not find me comical in the least degree. PENELOPE Do it, Norbert. WOODLY Hands and knees, you say? HAROLD And terror, if you don't mind. PENELOPE Do it! WOODLY (to PENELOPE, simply, decisively, unafraid) Goodbye. HAROLD (before she can protest any more) Goodbye! Goodbye! He bellies and bullies PENELOPE and PAUL out the front door. HAROLD Get the police! No time to lose! He slams the door, turns to WOODLY. HAROLD You're in one hell of a jam. You realize that? WOODLY I'm high as a kite. HAROLD Glands. You're supposed to be happy when you die. Call me comical again. WOODLY You're a clown. You're a clown who kills--but you're a clown. HAROLD I love you! Have a cigar! WOODLY (ignoring the cigar) Evolution has made you a clown-- with a cigar. Simple butchers like you are obsolete! HAROLD I'm to be left behind--in primordial ooze? WOODLY If you're at home in the ooze, and nowhere else. HAROLD This is going to become very physical. Are you prepared for that? WOODLY You're not such a creature of the ooze that you'd hurt an unarmed man. HAROLD I'm an honorable clown? WOODLY King Arthur. HAROLD You hope. WOODLY In any event, I will not beg for mercy. HAROLD No quarter asked. (taking a sword) No quarter given. WOODLY Don't you laugh even inwardly at the heroic balderdash you spew? HAROLD (offering sword) Cut me open. Find out. WOODLY I've struck my blow. HAROLD With spittle? WOODLY I've poisoned you. HAROLD (pointing at WOODLY in horror) Lucretia Borgia? (looking around frantically) Something I drank or touched? (understanding) You refused a cigar. That's it! Potassium cyanide in the humidor! Treacherous lover of peace! WOODLY I put a poisoned thought in your head. Even now that poison is seeping into every lobe of your mind. It's saying, "Obsolete, obsolete, obsolete," and, "Clown, clown, clown." HAROLD Poison. WOODLY You have a very good mind, or I wouldn't have come back. That mind is now asking itself, cleverly and fairly, "Is Harold Ryan really a clown?" And the answer is, "Yes." HAROLD (touching his forehead experimentally) I--I really must congratulate you. Something is happening in there. WOODLY You can never take yourself seriously again! Look at all the creatures you've protected us from! Did you shoot them on the elevator, as they were on their way up here to eat us alive? HAROLD (blankly, as though in a dream) No. WOODLY The magic root you gave me--I had it analyzed. It was discovered by a Harvard botanist in 1893! He explored your famous jungle for five years, armed with nothing but kindness, a talent for languages, and a pocketknife. HAROLD (blankly) I see. WOODLY You aren't going to hurt me. You aren't going to hurt anybody any more. Any violent gesture will seem ridiculous--to yourself! HAROLD (quietly) Don Quixote. WOODLY My violin is avenged! HAROLD Something seems to have happened to my self-respect. WOODLY And the hell with it. It was so tragically irrelevant, so preposterously misinformed. HAROLD The new hero is you. WOODLY I hate crowds, and I have no charisma-- HAROLD You're too modest. WOODLY But the new hero will be a man of science and of peace--like me. He'll disarm you, of course. No more guns, no more guns. HAROLD Was I ever of use? WOODLY Never. For when you began to kill for the fun of it, you became the chief source of agony of mankind. HAROLD picks up the rifle, considers it, offers it to WOODLY. HAROLD Here. Finish the job. WOODLY I'm utterly satisfied. HAROLD You're making a mistake. Obsolete old carnivores like me are most dangerous when wounded. You've wounded me. WOODLY More clowning! Don't you see? HAROLD We never quit fighting until we're dead. WOODLY You'd be killing a friend. Don't you know how much I like you? HAROLD I'm going to shoot you now. WOODLY No! HAROLD My self-respect is gone--and my soldier's honor with it. It is now very easy for me to shoot an unarmed man. WOODLY New dignity can be yours--as a merciful man. You can change! HAROLD Like the saber-toothed tiger. WOODLY (sickened) Oh God--you're really going to kill me. HAROLD It won't hurt as much as the sting of a bumblebee. Heaven is very much like Paradise, they say. You'll like it there. WOODLY Can I beg for mercy--on my knees? HAROLD If you want to be found that way. WOODLY What is this thing that kills me? HAROLD Man, as man was meant to be--a vengeful ape who murders. He will soon be extinct. It's time, it's time. WOODLY Don't shoot. HAROLD I've enjoyed being man. He aims the rifle tentatively. WOODLY No. (goes down on his knees) No. HAROLD Get up. WOODLY No. HAROLD Have it your way. We'd both be better off dead now. HAROLD begins to squeeze the trigger, falters, lowers the rifle. HAROLD Can't do it. WOODLY Thank God. HAROLD Crawl home. He turns his back on WOODLY, who stands shakily. WOODLY Thank you--for my life. HAROLD It's trash now, like mine. WOODLY New lives begin! HAROLD Somewhere in this city. Not here, not here. Tell Penelope I loved her--in my clownish way. And Paul. Tell him to be a healer, by all means. WOODLY What are you going to do? HAROLD Use the sanitary facilities, if I may. WOODLY Leave the rifle here. HAROLD I'll put it in Paul's room, where it belongs. WOODLY Give me your word of honor that that's all you're going to do. HAROLD For what it's worth now, Harold Ryan, the clown, gives his sacred word. HAROLD exits into corridor. WOODLY looks after him helplessly, apprehensively. Silence. WOODLY Harold? VON KONIGSWALD, MILDRED, and WANDA JUNE enter from the side stealthily. VON KONIGSWALD, pantomimes that his companions are to be quiet and to listen for something wonderful. All ghosts cup their hands to their ears. WOODLY Harold? There is a shot offstage. VON KONIGSWALD is delighted. MILDRED is sickened. WANDA JUNE is dazed. WOODLY collapses in grief. HAROLD enters from the corridor, shaking his head. HAROLD I missed. VON KONIGSWALD expresses disappointment. MILDRED covers her face. WANDA JUNE sucks her thumb. HAROLD The end. Curtain.