Dramatic Texts >> Raffi Arzoomanian >> The Coop

THE COOP by Raffi Arzoomanian
 
Characters
Danny
Bazakis
Chicken Chow Mein
Toby Sylvester


ACT I
 
At rear stage, running the entire length of the stage is a conveyor. At stage left is a makeshift contraption of two vertical poles on top of which lies a horizontal pole. The vertical poles are four feet high. Five cots are arranged in circular; they are of the basic type. At front center stage is the Pile, a rectangular construction with two wooden pegs protruding from each end. The walls are high and gray, the stage is bare save for the conveyor, cots, "high jump" apparatus, and the Pile. High on stage left is a speaker. Costumes are gray cotton shirts and slacks for all the men. The characters are bearded and long haired. On the back wall are the numerals 3-4-2 in red
The play begins with each character speaking individually and then retiring to his cot. The sleeping area is in darkness until the morning rise.

 
DANNY
(Enters.) Me good mother told me years ago, Danny, you may as well be a'knowin sooner than later that the day will come when the world'll break your poor Irish heart. And when it do, cry your cry, curse your curse, and be all the while searching for a way that’s clear. For an Irishman, Danny, is at best a mended man livin in a mended world. And it was then that me good mother broke me heart for I saw in her eyes she was tellin me that she was leavin me the cobbler's business to marry me dead father's brother, Hugh. Uncle Hugh. On a windless day the sea mist settles over these walls and gives me thoughts to dancin with the fancies. And it was on a foggy mornin that I broke me own uncle's heart with a kitchen knife and if he be an Irishman mendin, it's with his God in the heavens. That was a long time ago, a long time ago and a man soon learns that his laugh is the paste and stitch of his mendin. (Begins laughing to himself.) Get the damn thing out, he gasped, get the damn thing out! And there's me standin there with me heart in me mouth and sayin to him, yes, Uncle Hugh, I'm sorry, Uncle Hugh . . . please forgive me, Uncle Hugh! And then he fell with an unforgivin stare in his eyes. Ah, yes, for I'm a murderer like the rest, I am - no better, and hopefully, no worse. (Sings a light ditty as he leaves the stage.)
 
BAZAKIS
(Enters.) I'm Bazakis, B-A-Z-A-K-I-S. Greek name. Mike the cop called me a greaseball and I killed'm. (Retires.)
 
CHICKEN comes out, faces audience, shrugs, giggles, shrugs, TOBY speaks from dark of stage.
 
I'm Chicken Chow Mein. (CHICKEN looks to TOBY, takes his cue and begins a pantomime which TOBY narrates.) It's sunny out and I'm at the race track. I win one time, two time, three time, four time, five time, six time, seven time, oooooo-eeeeee, is I a happy Chinese today! I take my money, put it in my pocket and start beatin it out the track. Man behind me say somethin, I don't know what he say. I walk faster - he say somethin again -I walk faster, he grab my shoulder — I turn around quick - (Judo cuts.) One-two-three-four-five! I put my hand in my pocket and I run and I run and I run! But man, I don't run fast enough - cause they catch me, take me to police station, tell me the man I hit dead, that he's government man, like . . . internal revenue. Man, that makes me unhappy-I give the money to the man's wife. She cry and she ask me why you do that? But I can't talk no more, I can't talk - no more! She say why you do that to my man? I can't talk, I can't talk! She say why you do that, why you do that, Chinese monster! (CHICKEN’s expression goes from honor to a dreamy' smile.) All of a sudden I back at the track, man. I win one time, two time, three time, four time, five time, six time, seven time, oooooo-eeeeee, is I a happy Chinese today! (Retires.)
 
TOBY comes out from dark and sings in an improvised fashion.
 
TOBY
Oh, my womanbee, lovin womanbee,
Flyin where you oughtn't be,
Little womanbee, pretty womanbee,
I loved you, womanbee.
Oh, my womanbee, lovin womanbee,
Why'd you buzz on out and cheat on me?
Little womanbee, pretty womanbee,
She done fell in the sea. (Retires.)
 
SYLVESTER
(Comes out.) I was born in the nineteenth century, in the nineteenth century! You may look all you want but there aren't many of us left. That's right, in the nineteenth century, in 1884. . .5. . .8. . . 1890. . .2. . .1. ... I can't seem to remember. In the nineteenth century, would you believe it? I murdered my dear, dear wife. It may sound strange to you, but there was another woman, a dark Spaniard who put me up to it with her infernal hands, running them across my thighs during the first world war! I wanted to leave my wife peacefully, but I didn't want to hurt her feelings! I was as kind as I could be under the circumstances. It was war time, you must never forget it was war time ... so I struck her dumb with a crowbar and then strangled her. Do not judge me too hastily and I know you are - you must remember, you must remember - am I shouting? I'm sorry, very sorry. You must remember that she never knew what happened . . . allow me that much comfort . . . Yes, her name was Hel. . . Ellen . . . Fel. . . Meg ... it was war time, I say, do you remember the lists of the dead! Yes, I've forgotten her name, perhaps I'll recall it in a dream, yes in a dream. I am an old man and old men are not funny. (Retires.)
 
Men are sleeping, BAZAKIS snores and groans as he sleeps. Over the speaker is heard the faint, short bap of a submarine horn. The tones are flat and rapid, ever increasing in volume. When the volume is at nuisance level, BAZAKIS rises annoyed and still half asleep.
 
BAZAKIS
Hunnh? Hey whaaa? (Snores and snarls.) Leave be, hunnh?
(Volume increases.) Who are ya? What's your name? Where are ya, eh?
 
The others begin to stir.
 
Don't you ever sleep late? I hope your nose rots off your face, hear me? (Pause.) Finish! (The sound becomes atrocious.) I hope your kids get crippled and your wife burns in the house! I want my hands on ya, please, just once, please! I hope your eyes fall out! Your mother's eggs! Your sister's kidneys! I hope your blood turns to pus!
 
The horn suddenly stops. Silence prevails, BAZAKIS wearily drops to the floor and half snores while half awake, TOBY’s hum breaks the silence. The men rise slightly to TOBY’s cue.
 
DANNY
Well now . . . well now. Ah, Toby, a man's not mindin his risin with the likes of you around.
 
BAZAKIS groans, CHICKEN begins doing exercises.
 
DANNY
No wonder the Chicken's our best jumper, no wonder.
 
TOBY
Dream anything special, Danny?
 
DANNY
Let me see now ... a quiet dream, yes. And once I collect me thoughts I'll tell it.


CHICKEN sits in front of danny and waits.

Walkin on the sea, I am, like the Good Lord before me. A large fish with a black nose comes alongside and gives me his tail to hold on to.
 
CHICKEN giggles.
 
TOBY
What happens then, Danny?
 
DANNY
Ay, this fish has a lovin heart. He takes me all the way to Ireland, he does, and leaves me on the beach. Way above the hill I see me mother and she's wavin with one hand and beckoning with the other. I begin to walk towards her. I walk and I walk but she never comes closer. I take off me shoes, thinkin I can make a better way in the sand -but it's no use, lads. The night is fallin and me good mother's not to be seen. And that's me dream.
 
TOBY
Sorry, Danny.

CHICKEN nods.
 
DANNY
An Irishman's luck it is to walk a thousand miles of sea only to stick himself in sand but a hundred yards away from his mother. Why damn me Irish legs.
 
TOBY
Bazakis?
 
BAZAKIS
Huh? Whaa?
 
TOBY
Your dream, Bazakis.
 
BAZAKIS
Sleep, don't bother...
 
DANNY
Did you have a dream, Bazakis?
 
BAZAKIS
So what?
 
DANNY
You will tell it then, Bazakis.
 
BAZAKIS
If it ain't the horn, it's you!
 
DANNY
You know the agreement, Bazakis, and what happens if you break it.
 
BAZAKIS
Sleep, just a few more minutes, Danny.
 
DANNY
Is it a long dream, Bazakis?
 
BAZAKIS
But it don't make sense.
 
DANNY
From the beginning —
 
TOBY
And stretch it out.
 
DANNY
Well then?
 
BAZAKIS
Walkin downtown ...
 
TOBY
Which town, Bazakis?
 
BAZAKIS
Cleveland.
 
TOBY
Man, I like that town.
 
BAZAKIS
Eatin an orange that this woman's feeding me - only the more I eat the bigger the orange gets. Just when I can't eat no more we reach her house, go upstairs - I don't pay for this stuff, huh? And she says she don't want money. I grabs her and kisses her a few times and we're going real good - start ripping off her clothes and she burps - she don't burp like a woman, deep voice — I keep goin, she keeps burpin - she's down to nothin and it hits like a knife - she's a man! She starts laughing. You crave men, she says, go see your pawnbroker! My legs, fast as they can go, flyin down the stairs, block after block with people watching. But they already know about it in the neighborhood! Bazakis is a queer, they shout, Bazakis is a queer! Pretty soon there's a parade with a marching band and majorettes and on the back of their uniforms - Bazakis is a queer! The mayor is giving a speech and he says - that's why Bazakis is a queer! I get some money, go to one of the girls downtown - only I can't do it, I can't do it! The girl takes out a paintbrush and writes across my forehead - queer!.... When I walk back through town, people give me sympathy cards and my mother cries and cries . . .
 
There is a pause.
 
TOBY
There I am, walkin along a stream, the sun is shinin hot and burnin — I'm right in the middle of nature . . . everythin quiet . . . only thing I can hear is my footsteps keepin time to my singing. My heart is happy, a smile on my face like it made out of concrete. Today, I'm a natural man!
 
(Sings.) Oh, Lord, I'm home today,
I'm feeling good as I can get,
And when I die, put me in this land,
So I can rest like a natural man.
Oh yes, I'm the happiest o'men.
Got me nature and a hell bound yen,
And when I'm walkin down your heavenly path —
 
Wap! There's a bear and he's lookin and tiltin his head like he gettin ready to eat a black music box. I say to myself, keep singin, man, maybe the bear like your sounds.
 
(Sings.) Oh bear, don't keep lookin at me,
Cause if ya do, you're gonna like what ya see,
And if ya do, you're gonna eat me.
 
Now he makin sounds down deep, sound a touch like my singin - but afore I know it he growlin big and hungry, and I light outa there the whitest my black ever gonna get. I musta run five mile, and every ten second he give a growl like he sayin, "I'm still here, partner." All the time closer, all the time closer until I can feel his breath on my back. Jee-zuss, I say. All of a sudden that bear stop and I look back. He say clear as day, "Screw it," that's what he say, "Screw it." He turn right around and start walkin back. I set me on top of some leaves like a natural man should and I sing, man, I sing and I sing, and then like a natural man ... I fall asleep.
 
DANNY
Aah, yes, aah yes, thank God we can still dream, lads.
 
TOBY
Chicken, still got fifteen minutes to eatin time, man.
 
CHICKEN giggles and rises, takes the crossbar off the high jump, lays it down and starts marching smartly as if holding a flag a la charades.
 
DANNY
Chinaman in the rain?
 
TOBY
The Olympics!
 
CHICKEN giggles and nods. Spots five fingers twice.
 
Ten feet!
 
CHICKEN nods seriously. Runs and jumps over an imaginary pole. Smiles when he lands.
 

Made it!
 
DANNY
Good boy, Chicken.
 
CHICKEN spots ten fingers twice.
 
TOBY
Twenty feet!
 
CHICKEN nods seriously, runs and lands with a smile, squares off to an imaginary crowd - the other men applaud. Spots ten fingers four times.
 
Forty feet!
 
CHICKEN nods with a frown, runs, jumps and lands with a nervous giggle.
 
Made it!
 
DANNY
Ah, what a day to be alive!
 
BAZAKIS
Bullsh -
 
TOBY
What's wrong, Chicken?
 
CHICKEN has obviously injured himself from the forty foot jump.
 
Forty foot a long way down, huh, Chicken?
 
CHICKEN nods and giggles. Gestures for the crossbar. They hand it to him, he gets up using the crossbar, accepts the plaudits of the crowd, and limps heroically off. When he returns the men rub his head, pat his back, and CHICKEN laughs with joy. As the brief celebration diminishes, they focus on SYLVESTER who sleeps motionless.
 
BAZAKIS
The old man!
 
TOBY
Wake him up, Danny.
 
CHICKEN looks on warily, DANNY kneels beside SYLVESTER, nudges him. The old man stirs and the others react with smiles and reassuring nods.
 
DANNY
Sylvester?
 
BAZAKIS
You all right, old man?
 
SYLVESTER
(Slowly conscious . . .) I'm alive, I'm really alive!
 
BAZAKIS
You sure are, old man.
 
SYLVESTER
BAZAKIS! You! You want me to die, you want me to die!
 
DANNY
Now there's no need for –
 
SYLVESTER
He’s been against me from the beginning, in nineteen for fif… thir… You wouldn’t know the exact year, would you, Bazakis, friend?
 
BAZAKIS
Thirty- eight.
 
SYLVESTER
Thirty-eight… hmmm. Since nineteen hundred thirty-eight, you have wished my death, wished my death!
 
CHICKEN giggles.
 
Chinese tyrant, don’t you think I know what you’re thinking, savage! Always laughing, always mocking, and never saying anything. Your name is Chicken Chow Mein, Chicken Chow Mein – a typical heathen name! Do you expect to be treated as a Christian with a heathen name?
 
CHICKEN giggles.
 
You do understand, you understand everything… a Sino Greeko plot… You want me dead … You want me dead. (Breaks down crying.)
 
BAZAKIS
Everyday same old sh-
 
SYLVESTER
God, why have you left me in this hell? If the devil has a heritage, it is Chinese!
 
CHICKEN gives SYLVESTER comfort.
 
SYLVESTER
You’re the only one that cares, Chicken, forgive me… Greek dog, you want me to die!
 
BAZAKIS
Yeah, why don’t you? Why don’t you die and give us some peace around here?
 
TOBY
Easy, man.
 
SYLVESTER
He said it, he finally said it!
 
BAZAKIS
You've made me say it for the last ten years!
 
SYLVESTER
But today, today! You finally said it today! Some day you'll suffer penitence . . . perhaps when I lie at my wake with flowers around me. (Closes his eyes and lies down on ground.) You are all crying, especially Bazakis, he cries and says, old man, I loved you more than the others but I was afraid to show you . . . Don't worry, Bazakis, even in death I can hear you ... I understand ... I am only human and I forgive you . . . Chicken, you, too, are crying, and Danny and Toby. My friends, my friends! And even I am crying in my casket - who is that other man! I don't recognize him, someone put on my glasses. I am not dead, I am not dead, my glasses, please, stop crying and give me my glasses. I want to see! I can't see. him . . . no, I can't see him. Everything ... is dark now . . . my guess ... is ... I'm dead.
 
BAZAKIS
Boo-hoo.
 
SYLVESTER
I hear a voice. (Softly.) Is there someone there?
 
BAZAKIS belches.
 
SYLVESTER
(Jumps up.) Bazakis, it's you, oh, it's you. (Embraces BAZAKIS.) Bazakis, I mean it, I was really gone that time . . . my skin was cool. . It was you that brought me back. My life is yours, Bazakis!
 
BAZAKIS
Then someday I'll take what's mine, old man, someday when you go too far.
 
SYLVESTER
My my, the way you say that, Bazakis.
 
BAZAKIS
You'll see, old man.
 
TOBY and CHICKEN position themselves for Indian wrestle. They begin and CHICKEN wins the first, TOBY the second, CHICKEN the third. The men urge them on in their fashion. The combatants are both quick and powerful and the matches are marked by sharp thrusts, CHICKEN is slightly quicker.
 
TOBY
Almost. . . almost.

CHICKEN giggles as DANNY and BAZAKIS pat him on the back.
 
SYLVESTER
For the record the score now stands three thousand four hundred and-
 
DANNY
Three thousand nine hundred and forty-three for the Chicken and three thousand two hundred and two for Toby.
 
TOBY
Beginnin to look like I never catch up.
 
Breakfast bell rings and their food arrives on the conveyor.
 
SYLVESTER .
Can you document that, Danny?
 
DANNY
Ay.
 
SYLVESTER
What we're doing here must be recorded accurately. Generations are waiting and they will not tolerate an Irish Muck that cannot count!
 
DANNY
That's true, Sylvester, and I'll vouch for the numbers.
 
BAZAKIS
I'm hungry.
 
The men depart to rear of stage, pick up their food and begin eating. They eat ravenously, BAZAKIS growls as he eats.
 
TOBY
Prospect of workin today make me shiver.
 
DANNY
Work is man's plague, it is.
 
SYLVESTER
Bazakis, this morning will you not get food all over your face! (Pause.) I hear something . . . sssshh.
 
BAZAKIS continues to growl noisily.
 
TOBY
I don't hear nothin.
 
SYLVESTER
They've finally come ... the bloodhounds! The men pay no attention.
You keep those bloodhounds out, we have machine guns, we have rockets, we have secret weapons!
 
DANNY
Peace, Sylvester, let us have some peace with our meals.
 
SYLVESTER
There will be no peace until you and your bloodhounds have sur¬rendered! Surrender, I say surrender or we'll unleash a volley that will wipe you off the face of the earth! Man the armaments, men!
 
DANNY holds down SYLVESTER.
 
DANNY
Good God, man, it's only Bazakis!
 
BAZAKIS burps to SYLVESTER.
 
TOBY
You got nothin ta be afraid of out here, Sylvester.
 
SYLVESTER
That was you, Bazakis?
 
BAZAKIS
So I got bad table manners.
 
SYLVESTER
An old man doesn't like to be fooled (CHICKEN burps slightly.) not when he's living with Greeks and Chinese that have table manners more fitting for apes than men! BAZAKIS, will you stop growling when you eat, you animal!
 
SYLVESTER grips BAZAKIS by the throat and BAZAKIS begins choking on his food.
 
BAZAKIS
(With mouth full.) Sonomabitchin ole man, Goddamn son - (Begins to cough worse and SYLVESTER begins laughing, so do chicken and the others.) Bast - , Son - (BAZAKIS stops coughing.)
 
SYLVESTER
I'm sorry, Bazakis.
 
Their eyes are six inches apart.
 
BAZAKIS
(Moves menacingly towards SYLVESTER.) Breathe your last, old man.
 
DANNY
Damn ya now, we've better things to do! (Pushes BAZAKIS away.)
 
BAZAKIS
Some day I'm gonna take you, too, Danny.
 
DANNY
Finish your food - it's nearly time for work.
 
TOBY
Come on, Bazakis, finish your food. The old man don't mean nothin.
 
SYLVESTER
I don't mean anything, Bazakis. . . Greek manure.
 
DANNY
Me God, Sylvester, don't ya know the meaning of enough! It's peace
we're wantin, peace!
 
SYLVESTER
There's peace enough in the grave. I want to play with Bazakis.
 
Bell rings.
 

DANNY
Aah, yes, our old friend kissing us off for work.
 
TOBY
Just don't feel it today.
 
BAZAKIS
You keep away from me, Sylvester. (As they fetch their piledrivers.)
 
SYLVESTER
Is grape jam anything like Greek jelly?
 
BAZAKIS
You just keep away from me!
 
TOBY
Twelve hour, twelve hour on the piledriver. Man, let's do number five today, I'm tireda number two.
 
DANNY
Number five it is.
 
CHICKEN shows five fingers and giggles nervously.
(They line up at opposite ends:
TOBY and CHICKEN are a duo and
BAZAKIS and DANNY on the other end. As each set of pegs is driven,
the other rises, toby's singing determines the beat which goes from Coop
slow to fast to faster. Sylvester dances about and conducts.)

 
TOBY
(Sings.) Number five, (TOBY drives.) Number five, (CHICKEN drives and giggles.) Number five, (BAZAKIS.) Number five, (DANNY.)
 
After each beat, one of the men drives in order, toby picks up the tempo as he goes and the work builds to a frenetic rhythm. There should be at least 24 or 28 beats to the peak of the scene at which point the word "STOP" is heard blatantly over the speaker. After three beats, "I REPEAT STOP." The men lower their drivers, breathe heavily, including SYLVESTER.
 
BAZAKIS
We do somethin wrong?
 
CHICKEN cowers with fear.
 
TOBY
Man ... we ... we ... do it with a beat - nothin wrong with that.
 
SYLVESTER
Maybe . . . it's the end.
 
VOICE 1
Lifemates of three-four-two. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, Warden J. Worthington Milk.
 
VOICE 2
Lifemates of three-four-two, today is the day we have all been waiting for. The petition has gone through. Lay down your drivers, dismantle the apparatus. There is no more work - I repeat, there is no more work! Meals will arrive regularly. This is J. Worthington Milk saying goodbye and good luck, lifemates of three-four-two.
 
VOICE 1
There will be a three minute pause for celebration, then your next and final message.
 
They stare in disbelief.

 
BAZAKIS
Huh?
 
DANNY
I... think ... I heard -
 
TOBY
Dismantle ... I think
 
BAZAKIS
No more work.
 
TOBY
I heard that, too.
 
DANNY
Ay, no more work, no more work ... If this is a trick!
 
BAZAKIS
It was Milk, it was no trick!
 
SYLVESTER
Let's look at this thing soberly, gentlemen. One and one makes two.
 
TOBY
He say . . . dismantle?
 
BAZAKIS
Break?
 
DANNY
Bust?
 
SYLVESTER
Crrrack?
 
TOBY
No. He say dismantle! Dismantle! Dismantle!
 
They cheer and begin dismantling the pile. The destruction is accomplished wildly and energetically.
 
DANNY
If only me good mother could see me now!
 
DANNY and BAZAKIS jump up and down together, CHICKEN jumps or top of both and they all topple over. Ad libs necessary.
 
TOBY
Man, this is a happy day! ooooooooH-eeeeeeeeooowwww!
 
VOICE 1
Lifemates of three-four-two, your attention, please. You are stil prisoners, it is true, however a token from outside life might remind you of the pleasures you once knew. In a few seconds a memento of today will arrive on your conveyor. It's not the real McCoy, but it' the next best thing. And to supplement your daily leisure and graceful living, you shall be supplied with music suitable for the appropriate time of day. Now for early morning interlude.
 
Bland piano music is hinted from the speaker.
 
TOBY
Jee-zuss!
 
BAZAKIS
Look!
 
He runs to the conveyor and takes off a life size mannequin, rips off
its clothes.

 
A woman! A woman!
 
SYLVESTER
Is there ticking inside it?
 
BAZAKIS
Look at her! (Embraces the mannequin.) Oh, I love ya, honey!
 
TOBY
A woman . . .
 
BAZAKIS
I nearly forgot, oh you feel so good!
 
TOBY
It got real hair, too. (Circles her, looks at her back.) Nice . . . nice . . . everythin just where it belong. Hey, what's this?
 
BAZAKIS
It's a button!
 
SYLVESTER
No, no, please, no!
 
DANNY
Sylvester!
 
SYLVESTER
It's a trigger, a trigger, I know what they're trying to do!
 
BAZAKIS
It ain't a trigger. (Pushes the button.)
 
PEGGY
My name is Peggy, what's yours?
 
BAZAKIS
She talks, she talks!

TOBY
Jee-zuss!
 
BAZAKIS
Talk some more. (Pushes the button.)
 
PEGGY
Let's play croquet!
 
BAZAKIS
Peggy, you can do better than that, huh?
 
PEGGY
Let's go downtown.
 
BAZAKIS
No, Peggy.
 
PEGGY
Let's have a barbecue!
 
BAZAKIS
The hell with the barbecue, honey.
 
PEGGY
Isn't she chic!
 
BAZAKIS
What's that mean?
 
Men shrug.
 
PEGGY
Let’s have a party!
 
BAZAKIS
Hey, that's better.
 
PEGGY
I'm not well!
 
BAZAKIS
You don't have to be well to get hot, huh, Peggy?
 
PEGGY
I'd rather play bridge.
 
BAZAKIS
Don't be like that, Peggy.
 
PEGGY
I only wear tops to bed!
 
BAZAKIS
Oh, Peggy! (Embraces her tightly.)
 
PEGGY
I support the PTA!
 
BAZAKIS
Say what I want, Peggy!
 
PEGGY
She's so fastidious!
 
BAZAKIS
What I want!
 
PEGGY
I'd rather play bridge!
 
BAZAKIS
Screw bridge!
 
PEGGY
Let's have a barbeque!
 
BAZAKIS
No.
 
PEGGY
Isn't she chic!
 
BAZAKIS
Bitch.
 
PEGGY
Do you like my hair this way?
 
BAZAKIS
Blond bitch, say it!
 
PEGGY
I support the PTA!
 
BAZAKIS
Sonofabitch woman!
 
(Slaps mannequin across the face.)

 
SYLVESTER
Oh, how you abuse that woman, Bazakis. Such contempt for womankind.
 
BAZAKIS
Keep quiet, old man.
 
SYLVESTER
I learned the power of kindness in the nineteenth century ... a long time ago. Gentle, gentle, gentle, Bazakis, I have it on the best authority!
 
TOBY
Man, I hear music and I see me a woman . . . time for dancin!
 
BAZAKIS
Don't you touch her, Toby.
 
TOBY
Peggy belong to all of us, man.
 
BAZAKIS
No . . . mine, she's mine. White, see? She ain't black.
 
TOBY
It's only a dummy, Bazakis, hell!
 
BAZAKIS
Mine, she's mine - I saw her first.
 
TOBY
Don't make no difference who saw her first or if she white or black. My feet wanta dance and I ain't dancin by myself!
 
DANNY
Now didya ever? Didya ever? Two grown men fightin over, a dummy. Well, I'll not have me comfort monkeyed with, I won't. Sit and rest, damn ya, before I send the dummy into the scrap heap with the rest of me troubles. Sit and enjoy your blessins while ya have them.
 
BAZAKIS and TOBY sit, BAZAKIS with his arm around PEGGY’s neck.
 
TOBY
Yeah, I'm gonna enjoy me some relaxation.
 
DANNY
Now you're talkin!
 
SYLVESTER
Bazakis . . . Honeybun . . . Assface!
 
DANNY
Now, Sylvester, don't you be startin!
 
Sylvester drops his head sheepishly. The stage is silent. CHICKEN sits on the scrap heap of broken wood.
 
Ah, this is the life.
 
TOBY
It sure is.
 
BAZAKIS
(Nuzzling Peggy) I ain't complaining.
 
TOBY
What the hell I care about a dummy on a day like today.
 
DANNY
Fellowship, me boys, fellowship.
 
TOBY
Leisure, that's what the man say.
 
DANNY
Comfort. (Stretches.) Music to dream by.
 
BAZAKIS
Peggy.
 
SYLVESTER
My eyes are peeled.
 
TOBY
Now I can do all those things I wanted to do.
 
DANNY
Like sitting in front of a fireplace, it is.
 
PEGGY
Let's have a barbecue!
 
DANNY
Ay, Peggy, that's the spirit.
 
SYLVESTER
Bazakis, would you mind taking your hand off that woman's breast? Hasn't it occurred to you, Greek dunghill, that they may be time bombs!
 
BAZAKIS
Jealous, old man?
 
SYLVESTER
Filthy brute, your lechery will kill us yet, mark me well!
 
BAZAKIS laughs sensually.
 
TOBY
Man, am I happy!
 
PEGGY
Let's play croquet!
 
BAZAKIS
(Affectionately.) Bitch.
 
DANNY
The way to live.
 
TOBY
I'm so happy.
 
SYLVESTER
Up with prevention — down with cure!
 
DANNY
Damn ya soul, Sylvester, has your age made you forget how to relax, man?
 
SYLVESTER
This is no way to treat murderers. Do you expect the enemy to explain itself? Beware of wolves bearing gifts, I say!
 
TOBY
Workin twelve hour day don't give a man a chance to think.
 
DANNY
Ay, that's true.
 
TOBY
I'm gonna sit here and think. I'm gonna dream with my eyes open!
 
DANNY
Me thoughts, exactly.
 
PEGGY
I'd rather play bridge!
 
DANNY
Where's Chicken?
 
They notice CHICKEN seated disconsolately on the scrap heap.
 
What’s ailin you, man?
 
CHICKEN pantomimes work.
 
Well, you don't have to work to speak through your hands, Chicken, course not. Ay, there's many a story I've seen you tell with your body.
 
CHICKEN shakes his head, pantomimes jumping.
 
But not now. Come, sit down with us, come . . . there's plenty time left to us to solve such problems. Now's the time to savor, Chicken, to savor our blessins.
 
CHICKEN does not move.
 
TOBY
Man, I think I got me in the middle of a post-happiness depression. I'm sittin here thinkin and thinkin and I say, man, what the hell you got to be so happy about!
 
DANNY
Savor it, Toby, don't think about it!
 
TOBY
Workin for twenty-six year and don't accomplish nothin. Livin in prison, no woman, no whiskey, no respect. Why they wait twenty-six year to give me my pleasure - I tell you why - cause they smart!
 
BAZAKIS
Yeah, how come they wait twenty-six years to send me Peggy?
 
SYLVESTER
Only I realize there's nitro-glycerine in her breasts! Clever rascals.
 
TOBY
They work us like animal for what! What we accomplish?
 
DANNY
Lads, we're misusing our pleasure.
 
TOBY
But a man's gotta think about himself! And I done a lifetime o'thinkin these last ten minutes. Gettin up at six, going to bed so sore the ground feel like a cotton mattress. Man o'man, I mean, first time I seen!
 
BAZAKIS
How come they didn't send me a real woman?
 
CHICKEN shakes his head in woe.
 
TOBY
Man, I ain't so happy. I mean I'm happy, but what’s makin me happy makin me unhappy.
 
BAZAKIS
They send me this Goddamn dummy bitch just ta remind me of what I ain't got. Screw you J. Worthington Milk, I don't need you and your lousy bitch bridge player!

BAZAKIS throws dummy which SYLVESTER catches and which causes SYLVESTER to topple over.
 
SYLVESTER
Mad Greek, you almost killed us ... Well, you can thank me for saving your lives! Ingrates, fools, don't you know about nitroglycerine!
 
DANNY
I'm thankin ya, Sylvester, now ssshhh.
 
SYLVESTER
The others?
 
They are too involved with their thoughts to pay attention.
 
Nevertheless, this woman is ill suited to Bazakis. The nose, the lips, the limbs, the symmetry ... a different race. Not for you, Bazakis. Would never work, delicacy and brutality crisscrossing in conflict. The children, oh, the children, half gorilla, half doe. Poor child, they've taken your beauty and corrupted it with nitro, water bomb, soup! Such a price for maidenhood. Does your family know? That smile, those eyes, that fair, fair color. Not for Bazakis, understand? Not for Bazakis. Good girl, you listen to poppa Sylvester, you dum¬my, you mummy, you corpse! You coffin, you tomb, you sarcophagus!
 
BAZAKIS
Even when I was a kid, things didn't work out.
 
TOBY
Maybe if I wasn't black.
 
BAZAKIS
If I was black, Mike the cop wouldn'ta called me greaseball.
 
TOBY
If I didn't meet no womanbee.
 
BAZAKIS
If my family stayed in Greece.
 
TOBY
Man, what would we done without this leisure.
 
BAZAKIS
Bustin backs at the pile.
 
TOBY
Twenty-six years at the pile.
 
DANNY
Twenty-six years . . . tis a long time for naught, lads.
 
TOBY
But a man ain't supposed to think about the pile when he got leisure. He supposed to do the things he always want to do. He supposed to laugh and sing - yeah sing! I gonna sing my way outa this post-happiness depression.
 
(Sings.) Oh, Lord, this is a happy day,
When a man can sing his heart away. (His beat gets irregular.)
And when he do - (Stops and looks at the speaker which is
still playing bland music.)

Man, that thing ... I can't express, man, not with my sounds and those sounds and, (Sings.) Oh yes, I'm the happiest o'men,
I'm gonna live with a hell bound yen,
And . . . and . . . and —
I can't hear myself, that music, it ain't got no beat. It don't make sense!
(Begins to sing offkey.)
I'm a natural man, a natural man,
Yes, I'm a natural - natural -
"-You can't do that! No, man, you can't do that! It don't make sense! Turn damn thing off! I said turn the damn thing off!
 
End of Act I 


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