Dramatic Texts >> William Saroyan >> Subway Circus
Subway Circus (1940) by William Saroyan
 

 

 
NOTE
  Here is the world of one man at a time: the inner, the boundless, the ungeographical world of wakeful dream.
  The object is to explore this world. To give substance and motion to some of its thought and mood.
  The basic scene is a portion of the inside of a subway train.
  The basic sound is the sound of the subway moving at various rates of speed, and stopping.
  The passengers are very much like the passengers of any subway train. Each time the train stops, some of the passengers get off, and others get on.
  In the meantime, the dreams of some of the passengers are materialized.
  The theatrical method is this:
  A light falls upon the person whose dream is to be revealed. The subway train divides in the middle, in darkness, and the place of this person's dream is revealed. The dream unfolds while the sound of the moving subway continues.
  The play begins with the subway and ends with the subway. Begins and ends with the real world. The beginning and end of each dream is the subway: except for the subway and these dreamers aboard, these dreams could not be.
  There is a sense of hurry in each episode: a sense of rushing to catch the train. The dreamer, in the dream, and in the dream-place, hurries to the turnstile, drops a nickel very loudly, the place of the dream vanishes in darkness, and the subway train reappears with its passengers, including the dreamer.

 

 
1 Questions And Answers
 
THE DREAMER:
A small BOY.
 
OTHERES:
A TEACHER. The PRINCIPAL of the School.
 
THE SCENE:
A back-drop on which is painted a warm sun, a clean simple landscape of brown earth, one green tree, one flying bird, one brook, one cloud, one skyscraper.
 
Three grammar-school desks. Blackboard. Map.
 
The BOY comes sullenly to his desk, seeming to be talking to himself. The TEACHER is a young girl. The PRINCIPAL is an old man who is dozing in a chair.

 
THE TEACHER
Now, John, if a farmer has seven apples, and he gives away three apples, how many apples remain?
 
THE BOY
What kind of apples?
 
THE TEACHER
Any kind. Now, if the farmer has seven, and gives away three, how many remain?
 
THE BOY
What color are the apples? Who is the farmer?
 
THE TEACHER
I will have to punish you if you refuse to answer my question. This is a problem of arithmetic.
 
THE BOY
I want to know about the farmer. Where does he live?
 
(The TEACHER takes the BOY by the ear to the OLD MAN.)
 
THE BOY
Who is the farmer? What color are the apples:
 
THE TEACHER
Mr. Smith, this boy will not answer my question.
 
THE PRINCIPAL
What is the question, Mary?
 
THE TEACHER
If a farmer has seven apples, and he gives away three apples, how many apples remain?
 
THE PRINCIPAL
What kind of apples, Mary?
 
THE TEACHER
Why, it doesn't say what kind, Mr. Smith. It says seven apples, and gives away three.
 
THE PRINCIPAL
Who is the farmer, Mary? I never heard of a farmer who would give away three apples.
 
THE TEACHER
I don't know.
 
THE PRINCIPAL
Well, Mary, you can hardly blame the boy for wanting to know who the farmer is. Are the apples wormy?
 
THE TEACHER
I don't know, Mr. Smith. But the answer is four.
 
THE PRINCIPAL
I hardly agree, Mary.
 
THE TEACHER
Well, how many, then?
 
THE PRINCIPAL
It's not a question of how many. My God, what's the world coming to? Here, boy, you ask the teacher a question. (He goes away.)
 
There is a moment of silence. The subway itself is silent. Then it begins to rattle again.
 
The BOY tries to speak but can't. His voice is heard as a whisper, greatly magnified, from the darkness, over a microphone.

 
THE BOY'S VOICE
If you have seven, and you give away three: seven and three. Fifty-five, sixty: sixty-five, seventy: seventy-five, eighty: one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four thousand, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Zero, one, two: ten million, eleven million, twelve million, a billion minutes, hours, days. A farmer with a farm. A tree with apples. The farmer has seven, and he gives away. Three, four, five, six, seven.
 
While his thought is being articulated in this manner, a clock ticks loudly, the brightness of the sun increases, the subway roars, and he stands staring at the YOUNG GIRL, who is supposed to teach him about the world, and living in it.
 
When the whispering ends, the clock stops, and the subway quiets down.

 
THE BOY
I don't know what to ask. Can you tell me what is a street?
 
THE TEACHER
Nothing.
 
THE BOY
Can you tell me why everything in the world is many things?
 
THE TEACHER
I don't know.
 
THE BOY
Can you tell me why everything changes every minute and is always the same? Why the apples grow and rot and grow again and rot again and grow again, years and years of apples growing, people living, streets traveling around and around the world? (The TEACHER gestures.)

 
The Subway roars, the sun grows very dim. A light falls on the turnstile. The BOY turns to go.
 
THE BOY
Can you tell me why I'm alone when I have a mother, a father, brothers, sisters, and the whole world of people? Can you tell me who I am?
 
He drops a nickel and passes beyond the turnstile. The scene begins to fade.
 
Back to the subway train again. The BOY is seated among the people, staring at everything.

 

 
2 Man, The Acrobat
 
THE DREAMER:
A CRIPPLE. He is a small man with an immense deformed chest and short legs.
 
THE SCENE:
A back-drop on which is painted an abstract city over which a trapeze swings and makes shadows. The city is full of large staring eyes. The stage is a dance floor.
 
THE EVENT:
The CRIPPLE walks to the Center of the dance floor and in the dim light casts away his deformity, casting away his coat. He lifts himself out of his crooked body and stands tall and free. A slow sentimental waltz. A WOMAN walks to him from the darkness. They dance.
 
THE CITY and THE WORLD stare and speak: one world: over a microphone: Look. Look. Look.
 
The tempo of the music changes louder and swifter. The music ceases and the LADY goes away. The light increases. The CRIPPLE casts away all of his clothes.
 
He is now an acrobat, one whose body is precise in time and motion.
 
THE WORLD says:
Look. Look.
 
Still, the CRIPPLE is not pleased. He beckons to the sky and a trapeze falls.
 
He swings on the trapeze. He leaps to the stage, walks on his hands, tumbles.
 
He is showing the world, performing the body of man alive in time and space.
 
He returns to the trapeze: but now it will not swing, and he begins to lose strength.
 
THE WORLD:
Look. Look.
 
He sets the trapeze into motion, then leaps, off-stage, and falls.
 
Crash and confusion: subway: THE WORLD saying: Look. Look.
 
The stage is empty for a moment. The CRIPPLE returns to the Center of the stage. Again himself, a small man with an immense deformed chest.
 
And back to the subway.

 

 
3 The Lovers
 
THE DREAMERS:
A STENOGRAPHER and a CLERK. They are seated together in the subway.
 
THE SCENE:
Portion of an office, with a desk and a typewriter. The back-drop is an empty movie screen.
 
THE EVENT:
The GIRL is at the desk, typing. The CLERK brings her some papers, moving automatically, and goes away without even noticing her. The GIRL stares at the screen, sighs, and begins to type again. The CLERK returns with more papers and this time notices her. It is like a discovery. He is amazed, almost stunned. This beautiful girl, here. In the same place. He would like to speak to her, but cannot do so.
 
Staring at her his feeling is articulated:

 
THE VOICE
Mary. I love you. Mary. I love you because you are here with me, because you are so small and sad, because you work so hard, because you want so much of fourteen dollars a week, because you are alone. Mary, I love you. Love me and I will rob a bank and buy you clothes and a big automobile for each of us, and we will drive to California together. Love me, Mary, and I will steal a million dollars and we will ride all over the world together. We will go to the warm countries, Mary, where melons grow and the sun is strong. Mary, we will walk in the sun together. We will run together, Mary. At the river we will take off our cloths and swim together.
 
THE GIRL
Well, what are you waiting for?
 
THE BOY
Nothing. (He goes away.)
 
The GIRL begins to type again. The scene darkens and the empty screen fills with moving pictures of Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Frederic March, Paul Muni, and a couple of others. Flashes of each, all silent, while the GIRL types and stares.
 
THE GIRL
Ah. Ah. (She stands, and begins walking around desk) Oh, Clark. Oh, Gary. Oh, Frederick. Oh. Paul.
 
The pictures cease. The light increases. The GIRL sits at her desk.
 
The CLERK returns. He stands over the GIRL timidly.
 
His voice, loudly, while he looks down at her, wanting to touch her but not daring to do so

 
THE VOICE
Don't cry. God Almighty, I love you. Please don't cry. I love you. Ah, baby, love me and I will steal money enough to buy you everything you want. Please don't' cry. You're not alone any more, baby. I love you.
 
He touches her shoulder gently. The GIRL leaps to her feet, frightened.
 
THE GIRL
What do you want?
 
THE BOY
I.
 
THE GIRL
Oh, go away.
 
THE BOY
Mr. Smith said to get these letters out tonight.
 
THE GIRL
Well, all right, but go away. Why are you staying here?
 
THE BOY
I want to marry you.
 
THE GIRL
What?
 
THE BOY
Yes.
 
THE GIRL
Oh, go away.
 
THE BOY
I can afford it. I got a raise last week. I get twenty a week now.
 
THE GIRL
Don't make me laugh.
 
THE BOY
I guess we could manage.
 
THE GIRL
You're crazy.
 
THE BOY
I love you. Mary, I love you.
 
THE GIRL
We've been working in this office three years together. What's eating you all of a sudden?
 
THE BOY
I just like you, that's all.
 
THE GIRL
I got work to do. Leave me alone.
 
THE BOY
I'm nobody, but I love you, Mary. I could live without you all right, but honest, Mary, I don't want to live without you.
 
THE GIRL
Leave me alone. I don't like you. I hate you. Even to be near you makes me sick. We've been working together in this office three years. I hate this place. I hate everything and everybody in this place.
 
THE BOY
Mary, I'll take you away. I'll take you to California.
 
THE GIRL
What?
 
THE BOY
Yes. I'll steal. I'll rob a bank. I'll get a million dollars of the money, and we'll ride to California. You in a Cadillac, and me in a Packard. I love you.
 
THE GIRL
Leave me alone.
 
THE BOY
What good is California without you? What good is anything? I need you. (He tires to embrace the GIRL.) I'm afraid. I've got sixty dollars in the bank and I'm afraid I'll do something crazy. What the hell are we doing here? We're here in the Spring and in the Summer and in the Fall and in the Winter, and outside is the whole blooming world. Why do we have to stay here when there are so many other places?
 
THE GIRL
I'll love you. We won't get married. I don't want to be anybody's wife. We'll go to a hotel tonight. (She stares at the empty screen.)
 
And back to the subway.
 

 
4 The Hero
 
THE DREAMER:
A small, ineffectual MAN.
 
OTHERS:
A BIG MAN. A FAT LADY. A POLICEMAN. One half dozen UNITED STATES MARINES.
 
THE SCENE:
A back-drop on which is painted a large picture of someone like Lionel Strongfort: also headlines from Strongfort's advertisements, such as BE A MAN: CLIP THE COUPON: also appropriate pictures of ladies in tights from the "Police Gazette."
 
THE EVENT:
The SMALL MAN is shoved around in the subway by the BIG MAN and the FAT LADY who reappear in the dream.
 
There is one half of a prize-fight ring on the stage, with ropes.
 
The SMALL MAN appears, strutting. He shadow boxes.
 
The BIG MAN appears, timidly.
 
THE SMALL MAN Come here. (The BIG MAN does, of course.) Remember me?
 
He floors the BIG MAN with one fantastic swipe and continues to strut around, waving his arms.
 
Music, and a cry of: Wow.
 
The FAT LADY appears.
 
He floors the LADY with an even more fantastic swipe, and then the pace swiftens.
 
The POLICEMAN appears, blowing a whistle. The SMALL MAN floors the POLICEMAN.
 
A drum rolls. The music is military. SIX MARINES arrive.
 
One by one and with the greatest of ease the SMALL MAN floors each of the MARINES.
 
There is applause and cheering.
 
And back to the subway. The subway stops, the door opens, and the SMALL MAN makes his exit. Very sheepishly, with a shove from the FAT LADY.

 

 
5 The Jew In The World
 
THE DREAMER:
An old JEW with a Biblical beard. He is reading a Yiddish newspaper.
 
OTHERS:
A small JEWISH BOY of nine or ten, and his SISTER, several years older.
 
The EVENT:
The old JEW speaks in Yiddish to these children.
 
THE IDEA:
Through the dignity of his speech, to capture the passion and fortitude of the Jew in the world.
 
And the tragic humor. During his speech, he laughs. It is hearty laughter, but it is heavy with grief.
 
The scene is this: A portion of a synagogue. Burning candles. On the back-drop is painted a vast and angry head of Moses, and a world with closed doors. The entire episode is accompanied by Jewish music. There is singing sometimes a male and a female voice together, sometimes a chorus of voices. The music varies as the mood of the OLD MAN varies.
 
The CHILDREN kiss his hand.
 
The old and the new. The wisdom and experience and fortitude of the old. The eagerness and innocence of the young.
 
The OLD MAN speaks with rage and fury. The CHILDREN cling to him.
 
There is a sound of multitudes walking.
 
The sound of many people walking begins with only one person walking, then two, then three and so on until it is a multitude; with Jewish music.
 
And back to the subway.

 

 
6 The Social Revolution
 
THE DREAMER: A LADY of forty or so: poor: and socially ambitious. She is reading "Vogue."
 
OTHERS: A small crowd of the inane and garrulous, male and female, etcetera. A lousy WRITER. A lousy PAINTER. A lousy PIANIST. A bogus COUNT. And maybe a couple of others. In short, the best people.
 
THE SCENE: A back-drop on which is painted one inane king (long live the king), one inane queen (long live the queen), one handsomely outfitted troop of soldiers (long live the soldiers), one impossible coat of arms, one winking eye (the eye winks appropriately during the events of this episode), one high-tone dwelling, one fancy street, one classy carriage with horses. The stage is a drawing room: a few pieces of furniture, a table with bottles and glasses, a piano, a radio, etcetera.
 
THE EVENT: This poor LADY is NOT a poor lady. She is a society dame: a lady who entertains the rich and important, all tired and weary. She is dressed to kill, God lover her. She is the well-known Mrs. Smith whose picture appears so often in the society pages of newspapers.
 
So she entertains.
 
The smart people arrive one at a time. Each is announced by a big BUTLER who has a strong voice. After each announcement a loud Bronx cheer is heard. And the eye winks. Every man is named Smith. The first name is always John. Every lady is named Smith. The first name is Mary. The men kiss the LADY'S hand. As a rule. The ladies embrace her. As a rule. The Bronx cheer is heard after every performance of one or another of these charming formalities.
 
A number of the guests have already arrived when the episode begins. They are talking swiftly, holding glasses. Throughout the episode they talk. They say anything and everything and they say everything in the same way, sot the NONE of it means anything. I'm not going to put down their actual words because it isn't worth it. They talk about literature, painting, sculpture, music, drama, government, religion, writers, poets, painters, sculptors, composers, actors, actresses, movies, politicians, private experiences, and sometimes they even mention the weather. Nothing they say is intelligible, although some words are.
 
THE BUTLER (I guess they call them butlers. I'm not sure. Anyway, he's the guy who is nobody and knows it and is proud of it and sometimes puts a little humor and satire into his announcements of the guests)
 
Mr. John Smith. (A hearty Bronx cheer. A wink.) This Mr. Smith is the writer. You can tell he is a lousy writer by the way he smiles at everybody. (He doesn't kiss the lady's hand.)

 
THE LADY
Oh, I am so glad to see you again. How did you find Paris? Isn't Paris too lovely?
 
THE WRITER
It was charming. Charming.
 
THE LADY
I'm always sad when I'm away from Paris.
 
(A hearty Bronx cheer. A wink. A FLUNKEY brings a tray with drinks. The WRITER takes one without looking at the FLUNKEY.)
 
THE BUTLER
Mr. John Smith. (A hearty Bronx cheer. A wink.) This Mr. Smith is a painter. What the hell. Who cares what he is? He is a genius.
 
(The PAINTER stoops gallantly and kisses the LADY'S hand: Bronx cheer. Wink)
 
THE LADY
Oh, I am so glad to see you again. How did you find London? Isn't London too divine?
 
THE PAINTER
It was charming. Charming. The fog, you know?
 
THE LADY
Yes, yes, the fog. How I miss the London fog. I'm always miserable when I'm away from London.
 
(Drinks etcetera for the great PAINTER. He joins the loiterers and one more voice is added to the chorus.)
 
THE BUTLER
Mr. John Smith. (A hearty Bronx cheer. A wink.) Miss Mary Smith. This one is a debutante. She is beautiful beyond repair. I got that from vaudeville.
 
(The DEBUTANTE and the LADY embrace: a couple of Bronx cheers. Two winks.)
 
THE LADY
Oh, I am so glad to see you again, my dear. How did you find Vienna?
 
THE DEBUTANTE
Vienna? Vienna? Oh, I shall never be happy again till I return to Vienna.
 
THE LADY
I am always homesick when I am away from Vienna.
 
THE BUTLER
Miss Mary Smith. This Miss Smith was very young shortly after the Boer War. The War and passing years aged her swiftly.
 
(A hearty Bronx cheer. A wink. The ELDERLY MISS SMITH embraces the LADY.)
 
THE LADY
Oh, I am so glad to see you again, darling. How did you find Naples?
 
THE ELDERLY MISS SMITH
It stank. It simply stank, my dear.
 
THE LADY
Yes, yes, how Naples stinks. And how does it feel to be home again?
 
THE ELDERLY MISS SMITH
Lousy. It feels lousy, simply lousy.
 
THE LADY
Yes, I know. Lousy, simply lousy.
 
(Drinks etcetera and another voice etcetera, but not a bad one.)
 
THE BUTLER
Mr. John Smith. (A hearty Bronx cheer. A wink.) This punk plays the piano.
 
(The LADY asks him how he found Berlin and he says he found Berlin fascinating. Then he begins to play the piano.)
 
THE BUTLER (To the LADY)
All the guests have arrived, Madam. I guess the bogus Count arrived earlier in the evening, through a window.
 
THE LADY
Very good, John. You may stand by the door and watch. Please try to seem delighted.
 
THE BUTLER(A wit)
I am delighted, Madam. Look. (He makes a delighted face.) See?
 
(The BULTER stands by the door. A FLUNKEY passes. The fine people are going at top speed. The FLUNKEY hands the BUTLER a pamphlet.)
 
THE BUTLER (Reading)
Communist Manifesto. Karl Marx. Dialectical materialism. Revolution. Brotherhood on earth. Imperialist war. Imperialist baloney. What the hell. (He throws the pamphlet away.)
 
(The people are going strong. The best people, I mean. The FLUNKEY returns with a tray of drinks.)
 
THE FLUNKEY (Intimately to the BUTLER)
Comrade, the time is ripe for the revolution. Soon we shall be the kings and they shall be the slaves.
 
(A hearty Bronx cheer. A wink.)
 
THE BUTLER
Take it easy or you'll drop that tray.
 
THE FLUNKEY
Comrade, you are a jackass. You are ignorant. You do not know what is going on in the world. They are fat with eating while we starve. They ride around in Packards while we walk and hitch-hike. They go to five-dollar operas while we go to ten-cent movies. They (He drops the tray. Smash. Silence. The fine people stare at the rebel, stunned, amazed, horrified. A scream or two: Traitor, traitor.)
 
THE FLUNKEY
All right, look at me. Take a good look at me. I am nobody. I am a slave. Well, I'll show you. (He brings a red flag from his pocket and waves it. MUSIC: "The Internationale.") I am Russia, do you hear? I am the new order in the world.
 
(A hearty Bronx cheer. Wink. The good people make swift exits and swift comments and exclamations. The room is empty except for the great dame.)
 
THE LADY
All is lost. My world crumbles.
 
(A Bronx cheer. Wink. And back to the subway.)
 

 
7 Africa-Harlem Express
 
THE DREAMERS:
A slim young NEGRESS, and a dapper young NEGRO.
 
THE SCENE:
On one half of the back-drop is painted a jungle and the word "Africa," and on the other half is painted a street and several buildings and the world "Harlem." On the stage, in front of the African side of the back-drop is one tree, and on the Harlem side is one lamp-post.
 
THE EVENT:
From Africa to Harlem.
 
By the tree is the NEGRESS, slim and very nearly naked. The light is dim.
 
By the lamp-post is the NEGRO, dapper and smart in fancy clothes.
 
The NEGRESS laughs.

 
MALE
Who you, sisters?
 
FEMALE
Ah'm Mary, colored boy. Who you?
 
MALE
Ah'm John Smith, sister. In person.
 
(They begin to move slowly, with rhythm.)
 
FEMALE
What you doin' heah, black boy?
 
MALE
Sister, dis is mah world. Ah live heah. De whole creation is mah world.
 
FEMALE
You look mighty like a stranger to me. I never see a man all covered up like you. Where's your shame? Who you hidin' from?
 
MALE
Sister, Ah ain't hidin'. Dese clothes are fo' decoration purposes.
 
FEMALE
Decoration purposes? I guess God done decorated every man enough. You got all de decoration you need under dem clothes. Why you hidin', black boy? You 'fraid of eyes?
 
MALE
Ah ain't 'fraid of nothin', sister. Ah'm just well-dressed. You is naked.
 
FEMALE
Naked? You crazy, man. Is de tree naked? Is de sky naked? Is de tiger naked? Ah got God's coverin', boy. Ah ain't ashamed.
 
(They begin to move faster, more rhythmically. There is a simple theme of music, quietly, mostly percussion.)
 
MALE
You come with me, sister, and Ah'll show you real class. Ah'll show you clothes. Dat's what. Hard leather fo' your feet and soft leather fo' your hands. Feathers fo' your head and silk for' your body.
 
FEMALE
If Ah go, colored boy, where is dis place?
 
MALE
America is de place, sister.
 
FEMALE
Where dat, black boy?
 
MALE
You'll see.
 
FEMALE
Ah guess Ah want to see.
 
(The BOY takes the GIRL'S hand and they do a sort of Cake Walk and leave the stage. The back-drop rises, revealing another depth of the stage and another back-drop. On this back-drop is painted a Southern landscape. Simple cabin. Magnolia tree. Rows of cotton. Lots of dark earth. Lots of dark sky. The scene is a picture of a mood: strength and sullenness. The BOY and GIRL reappear, each carrying a sack containing cotton. The GIRL is wearing a cotton dress.)
 
FEMALE
Is dis America, black boy?
 
MALE (Weary)
Dis is it, sister. Hold on, honey. Hold on.
 
FEMALE
Ah's tired. All we do heah is work. From de dark of mornin' to de dark of night. We is so weary we can't dance or sing or look at de world.
 
CHORUS
All the world is sad and weary everywhere I go.
They leave the stage. The second back-drop rises and a third is seen. On this back-drop is painted one Harlem orchestra: instruments in groups of three: especially trombones. Big drum. One Chorus of black girls in feathers. Many colored types in rows, forming an audience. The BOY and GIRL appear again. The GIRL is almost naked again, except for a few feathers here and there. The BOY is dapper again. Hot music, and the subway roar.
They dance until they are almost exhausted.

 
FEMALE
Ah doan like it heah, black boy. Ah's homesick. Ah'm goin' to my house and sleep. Ah want to dream. Ah'm tired of noise. Ah'm weary of dancin'. Ah remember a place of trees and warm earth. Ah remember de clean sky and de cool water. Ah'm goin' home.
 
MALE
You is just tired, dat's all. Ah'll take you home, honey.
 
And back to the subway.
 

 
8 The Multi-Millionaire
 
THE DREAMER.
A YOUNG MAN. A fifteen-dollar-a-week clerk.
 
OTHERS:
An ACCOUNTANT: a man of fifty. A Postal Telegraph MESSENGER Boy: also fifty. A MAN selling whistles, harmonicas, etcetera: also fifty.
 
THE SCENE:
On the back-drop is painted the board of the New York Stock Exchange. Wheat. Rye. Oats. Copper. Tin. Silver and: GOLD. One stock ticker around which is assemble a CROWD OF PEOPLE, male and female: Greed and fear. A picture of a bank: fine clean pillars. Calendars from 1929 to 1939. On the stage is one stock ticker which works about ten times as fast as a real stock ticker and makes about ten times as much noise. A desk, a chair, inside a railing.
 
THE EVENT:
The fifteen-dollar-a-week CLERK is rich. His feet are on the desk. He is smoking a cigar. A good cigar. He talks over a telephone: to ladies: to five tailors: tor real estate agents: to automobile salesmen. He buys everything.

 
THE ACCOUNTANT (Closing a book)
Your balance is now eighty-seven million dollars, sir.
 
THE CLERK
Call me John. I'm flesh and blood just like anybody else. Here. Take a look at this picture of me when I was three months old. God, what a change. How much did you say?
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Eighty-seven million dollars.
 
THE CLERK
That's a lot of money. I guess that will last a long time.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Oh, no, sir. If the market begins to fall it won't last more than thirty minutes.
 
THE CLERK
Thirty minutes? (He jumps over the railing.) Then buy more real estate. Buy anything anybody offers for sale.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
We've got two warehouses full of everything from toy machine-guns to real machine-guns already.
 
THE CLERK
Well, what land are you buying?
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
We practically own the State of Rhode Island.
 
THE CLERK
Rhode Island? That's a very small State. There's other land.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Yes, but worthless. There is a lot of worthless desert country in Texas. Forty-five cents an acre.
 
THE CLERK
How big is Texas?
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Very big, sir. Larger than England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain combined.
 
THE CLERK
Buy Texas. Don't delay. Make a long-distance telephone call immediately. Buy every inch of Texas.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
The land is worthless, sir.
 
THE CLERK
You said desert, didn't you? The sun comes up over it, doesn't it? You can walk on it, can't you? Buy Texas. I want Texas. I want to go out there and walk on land I own.
 
(The MAN with the whistles and harmonicas appears. He blows one of those whistles that curl up when you aren't blowing into them. This makes a very pleasant note in music and a very pleasant thing to see.)

 
THE CLERK (To the PEDDLER)
I haven't seen one of those in years.
 
THE PEDDLER
Ten cents.
 
THE CLERK
Give me a dozen. What else you got?
 
THE PEDDLER
I got harmonicas, tin gazoos, ocarinoes, flutes, tambourines, castinets. Everything.
 
THE CLERK
You're just the man I've been looking for. Where do they make these things?
 
THE PEDDLER
Some in Japan, some in Czecho-Slovakia, some in Germany, some in America. I got all kinds.
 
THE CLERK
All my life I've wanted a harmonica. My name is John. I'm pleased to meet you. (He shakes hands with the PEDDLER.)
 
THE PEDDLER
I play the harmonica like a bird. I can play classical or jazz.
 
THE CLERK
Do you know The Old Refrain? My mother used to sing that song to me. All my life I've wanted to play The Old Refrain on the harmonica.
 
THE PEDDLER
Sure I can play it. (He plays half way through the song. Pauses.) That was the jazz. You like it?
 
THE CLERK
It's swell.
 
THE PEDDLER
I'll play it classical now. (He plays. The CLERK stands before him, amazed, smiling. A violin joins the harmonica, and then an accordion. Then a clear soprano singing the chorus.)
 
THE CLERK
Do you think I could learn to play like that?
 
THE PEDDLER
Sure. It's nothing. It's from the heart. You don't' have to know music. It's the same as humming or whistling or singing.
 
THE CLERK (To the ACCOUNTANT)
Smith, give this gentlemen enough to pay for one dozen each of everything he's selling.
 
(The CLERK takes a harmonica and tries to play.)
 
THE ACCOUNTANT (To the PEDDLER)
How much is it? I'll write a check immediately.
 
THE PEDDLER
One dozen each is too many. I've got only two or three of each. One is enough. It is like humming, very simple. One is enough for a year.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
You can get more, can't you?
 
THE PEDDLER
I can get thousands, but what for?
 
(The CLERK is trying to play the harmonica. The stock ticker begins to roll. It starts slowly and after a while it rolls very swiftly. The ACCOUNTANT runs to the ticker.)
 
THE ACCOUNTANT (To the PEDDLER)
Wait a few minutes, please. (To the CLERK) The market is falling sir.
 
THE CLERK
I'll figure this thing out some way. He can play it. I guess I can, too.
 
(The PEDDLER sits down. Every now and then he plays on one of the many things he has for sale: just killing time.)
 
THE CLERK (To the ACCOUNTANT)
By the way, Smith, get in touch with Mary Smith.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Mary Smith, sir? The siren of the cinema?
 
THE CLERK
Sure. I meant to tell you yesterday. Tell her I love her. How much do you think it's worth, confidentially?
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
I've never met the lady, sir. There are various fees, I understand.
 
THE CLERK
Start at twenty thousand dollars and go as high as fifty. If she won't accept, tell her I'll throw in three big cars, one yacht, three thoroughbred horses, and a private merry-go-round, if she cares for that sort of thing.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Yes, sir. But let me remind you, sir, that the market is falling. (He points at the stock ticker and the BOY waves him away.) Anything else, sir?
 
THE CLERK
No.
 
(The ACCOUNTANT returns to the stock ticker. It is going strong. He is alarmed.)
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Mr. Smith, I am becoming a little alarmed about the market. It is falling very fast.
 
THE CLERK
Well, all right. Sell every share of stock I own.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
We can't do that so easily, sir. The market won't be able to stand it. We'll cause a national panic.
 
THE CLERK
Go ahead and cause a national panic. All I want is my cash.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT (Telephoning)
Sell every share. Yes, yes. Every share. Immediately. And send over a statement of the balance immediately.
 
THE CLERK
Buy everything that can't come over a ticker.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
The market's acting miserably, sir. I think we'd better wait till we get that statement.
 
THE CLERK
Is it really as bad as all that?
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Yes, sir, I'm afraid so. It's pathetic, sir. It's fantastic. It's ridiculous. It's not right. Most shares are around three cents. Ten minutes ago they were selling around ninety-seven dollars. Looks as if something's happened.
 
THE CLERK
Three cents? God Almighty. Smith!
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Yes, sir?
 
THE CLERK
Have you got any money on you?
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
I'm sorry, sir. I haven't a penny.
 
THE CLERK
God Almighty, neither have I. What's my balance, Smith? I've got to know.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
I can't tell you, sir, until the statement arrives.
 
THE CLERK
I'd hate to go back to being a clerk at fifteen dollars a week.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
It's not so bad, sir.
 
THE CLERK
All my life I've wanted to own Texas and Mary Smith.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
I'm sorry, sir.
 
THE CLERK
I've always wanted to throw money away.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
I know how you feel, sir. Why, sometimes I pretend I'm rich and I give a bootblack a dime instead of a nickel and I feel great for weeks.
 
THE CLERK
All my life I've dreamed about Texas.
 
(The telephone rings. The ACCOUNTANT listens; hangs up.)
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
I hate to tell you, sir, but it looks very bad. A messenger is on his way over with your balance. All your properties have been attached to cover losses.
 
THE CLERK
All the land and all the automobiles and all the fine apartment houses and all the toys?
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
Yes, sir, all the clothes, too. Now you have nothing but the clothes you are wearing and what's inside them.
 
THE CLERK
Have you any idea how much my balance will be?
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
I have an idea it will be very little, sir.
 
THE CLERK
I haven't had a decent meal in twenty days. I've been too excited to eat. When I was a clerk I used to get real hungry and eat like a horse. I used to eat anything. Now I don't even want to eat.
 
THE ACCOUNTANT
I hope there's enough for a good hearty twenty-five-cent dinner, sir.
 
THE CLERK
Thanks, Smith.
 
(The Postal Telegraph MESSENGER arrives. The CLERK signs.)
 
MESSENGER
This envelope contains your full balance, sir.
 
THE CLERK
Thanks.
 
(The CLERK tears open the envelope, a nickel drops to the floor, he picks up the coin, and is about to go away. He remembers the harmonica in his hand.)
 
THE CLERK (To the PEDDLER)
I'm sorry. I'll have to give you back your harmonica. I have no money. All my life I've wanted a harmonica.
 
THE PEDDLER
That's all right. Keep it. One is enough. You don't need a dozen. Just one. It's like singing.
 
THE CLERK
I'll remember your kindness.
 
The Old Refrain again.
 
And back to the subway.

 

 
9 The Immortals
 
THE DREAMER:
A CORPORAL of the Salvation Army.
 
OTHERE:
A DRUNKARD. A WHORE. A STUDENT. A sandwich MAN named GOD. Several CRIPPLES.
 
THE SCENE:
A street corner. On the back-drop is painted a portion of the city and something that should suggest religious infinity, limitlessness: the holy universe, endless, without beginning and without end.
 
When the SANDWICH MAN stares at the CORPORAL, this part of the back-drop is to become glowing red, like fire.
 
This is dreamed, of course, by the weary CORPORAL of the Salvation Army.
 
He is standing in the street with a big drum which he beats every once in a while.
 
A CRIPPLE on crutches crosses the stage, playing no attention to the CORPORAL.
 
The CORPORAL speaks to the DRUNKARD and the WHORE.

 
THE CORPORAL
Turn away, brother. Turn away from the evils of the world, sister. Lift your heart to God and be born again. Be as a child again. Turn now, before it is too late, brother. Do not drown in sin, sister. God is an angry God. (Boom on the drum.) His wrath can destroy the world and all who are evil will burn and drown while the pure in heart will be saved.
 
(A MAN with no legs who rolls about on a platform resting on roller skates rolls across the stage.)
 
THE WHORE
The pure in heart? What do you know about the heart?
 
THE CORPORAL
You must be ready for the wrath of God, brother. You must be ready to leave your mortal flesh and die. Are you ready, brother?
 
THE DRUNKARD
Yes, and the sooner the better.
 
THE CORPORAL
No, brother, you are not ready to die.
 
THE DRUNKARD
Listen, Sargeant, don't tell me I'm not ready to die when I tell you I am ready to die. Who are you, anyway? My name is John Smith and I'm thirty-seven years old and I'm ready to die, any day. Don't tell me I'm not ready to die. (To the WHORE) He says I'm not ready to die. This little punk telling me I'm not ready to die.
 
THE WHORE
You'll live to be a hundred. You'll die a million times before they put you into the ground, and you'll live longer than the ones who eat to live and pray to live and spend all their times worrying about microbes.
 
THE DRUNKARD
I got a sister in San Francisco. My mother's dead.
 
THE WHORE
I know all about it. You don't have to tell me.
 
THE CORPORAL
There is no time to lose, for it is written that God is an angry God and his wrath will destroy a sinful world.
 
THE DRUNKARD
That's fine. That suits me fine. How soon do you expect it to happen? I'm all jittery, waiting.
 
THE CORPORAL
When the world wallows in sin, God will destroy the world.
 
THE WHORE
It's been wallowing a long, long time. As far back as I can remember.
 
THE DRUNKARD
I guess I've done my share of wallowing, but I'll do some more if you say the word. Listen, pal, if you're sure just a little more wallowing will do the trick, I'll go out and wallow all through the city. I'm one of the best wallowers in the United States.
 
( A YOUNG MAN joins the audience: he is a college boy, a student.)
 
THE STUDENT
Karl Marx says religion is the opium of the people.
 
THE WHORE
This isn't religion, you dope. Not what he says, anyway. Maybe what he means. And what if it is the opium of the people? Do you think the people don't need opium?
 
THE STUDENT
It's a trick they have to keep the people satisfied. When they are hungry they pray instead of demanding food.
 
THE CORPORAL
I tell you, you must turn away and be as children again. You must not wait until the last minute.
 
(A SANDWICH MAN appears. The sign advertises a full meal for ten cents.)
 
THE SANDWICH MAN
I am God.
 
THE DRUNKARD (Shakes his hand)
I'm delighted to make your acquaintance. I've heard a lot about you.
 
THE SANDWICH MAN
I can look at a man and make him die.
 
THE DRUNKARD
All right, look at me. Are you looking?
 
THE SANDWICH MAN
I don't want you to die.
 
THE DRUNKARD
Listen, pal, you wouldn't go back on a pal, would you?
 
THE SANDWICH MAN
I want you to live.
 
THE DRUNKARD
You're a hell of a God.
 
THE STUDENT (to the WHORE)
You see? That's what Capitalism does to people.
 
THE WHORE
Don't be so wise. Don't be so sure it's Capitalism.
 
THE STUDENT
It is, though.
 
THE DRUNKARD (To the SANDWICH MAN)
Make him die, pal. Let's see you make him die. He says he's ready to die. Go ahead, pal, look at him and make him die. (He points to the CORPORAL.
 
THE SANDWICH MAN
I want him to die.
 
(He stares at the CORPORAL. The CORPORAL trembles. There is a roar of thunder. Quotations from the Bible in a deep voice that speaks with finality. The DRUNKARD, the WHORE, and the STUDENT go away. The CORPORAL begins to sink to his knees. The SANDWICH MAN goes away. The CORPORAL turns and runs. The subway roars. The turnstile appears. The CORPORAL drops a nickel.)
 
And back to the subway again.

 

 
10 The Morning Song
 
THE DREAMER: An ITALIAN FRUIT PEDDLER.

 
THE SCENE: An empty world. A world beginning. Morning. The new day. The beginning of fresh life. An endless road.

 
THE EVENT: The PEDDLER enters this world when it is dark and silent.

 
He stares at the scene, admiring it, and then says a few words in Italian.

 
Very slowly the scene accepts light, as the world accepts the light of the sun each morning.

 
The ITALIAN speaks very quietly at first, then more boldly as the light increases. Then, as the light increases, he begins to hum, then sing softly to himself: only fragments.

 
Gradually the sun begins to rise.

 
The ITALIAN begins to sing in earnest.

 
THE SONG IS: O Sole Mio.

 
His only accompaniment is a violin and an accordion.

 
When the song ends the Scene is flooded with light. It is day in the world, Monday or Tuesday.

 
And back to the subway for the last time.

 

 
THE PLAY ENDS

 

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