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THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GEOFF "THE MASK", HIS EUNUCHS, AND HIS HAREM

Vladimir J. Kone─Źni
© 1991

Characters

POLICE OFFICER

Middle-aged, white, male; no paunch, no fat behind, no balding spot, please; neither malevolent, nor contemptuous; an impersonal attitude: bland, competent, polite;

 

GEOFF

Late 20s, black, average height and build; very articulate (no jive, please);

 

LINE-UP MEMBERS

Six black men in prison clothes, all similar to GEOFF in height and build; at the beginning, they all wear eye-masks over knit ski-hoods; the masks should differ subtly;

 

CLEO

Twenty-six, white, with an unusual kind of beauty; at all costs please avoid a suburban-matron caricature;

 

KENT

Twenty, white, blond; strong, healthy, clean looks;

 

ROBERT

CLEO's husband; early thirties; glasses, beard, intelligent looks, average street clothes;

 

VICTIMS and WITNESSES

Four to seven white couples, seen only from the back (some variety of clothes, ages, etc.); one of the couples represents CLEO & KENT, so there must be a close rear-view visual match, but their conversation is pre-recorded by the principal actors.

 



(As the curtain rises, the LINE-UP MEMBERS are at Stage Left, facing the audience, on a brilliantly lit podium behind a scrim. Above the men's heads are large numbers, 1-6, with #1 closest to Center Stage. POLICE OFFICER. also well lit, is at the extreme Stage Left, at the edge of the scrim, on a slightly higher podium. VICTIMS and WITNESSES are seated in two rows, facing the line-up, their backs to the audience, in relative darkness.)

POLICE OFFICER. (To LINE-UP MEMBERS.) We are going to conduct a line-up in which you will participate. Victims and witnesses will be asked whether or not they can identify you or your voice. While they look at you, I will ask you to repeat certain words. Your right to remain silent does not give you the right to refuse to repeat these words. If you do not repeat these words, your refusal can and will be used as evidence against you in court... Gentlemen, please stand straight... good...arms down your sides...look straight ahead...good...follow my instructions closely. (To VICTIMS and WITNESSES.)... Ladies and gentlemen, watch carefully. (Intones.) If you recognize the offender, write down his number on the card you were given. If you have a question, raise your hand. No loud talk, please. (To LINE-UP MEMBERS.) Now, all of you make a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...aaand a quarter of a turn to the left...Number 1, please walk to the circle. (NUMBER 1 walks in a slow, deliberate manner-no exaggeration, though-to the circle painted on the floor in front of the center of the line-up, but still behind the scrim.) Stop. (Stops, facing the POLICE OFFICER.) No. Face the victims and witnesses. (NUMBER 1 does.) Make a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...aaand a quarter of a turn to the left..turn and walk to the wall on your left...walk to the opposite end...return to the circle...in a loud, clear voice repeat after me:
Obey me and you'll be OK.

NUMBER 1. Obey me and you'll be OK.

POLICE OFFICER. Make one move and I'll kill you.

NUMBER 1. Make one move and I'll kill you!

POLICE OFFICER. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

NUMBER 1. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

POLICE OFFICER. I just want to play with you.

NUMBER 1. I just want to play with you!

POLICE OFFICER. I am famous. You've heard of me.

NUMBER 1. I am famous! You've heard of me.

POLICE OFFICER. Return to your place...(NUMBER 1 does.) Number 2, please walk to the circle. (NUMBER 2 also walks in a slow, deliberate manner, but faces the audience as soon as he reaches the circle.) Make a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...aaand a quarter of a turn to the left...(CLEO's DOUBLE, seated in the second row, gets up and stares intently at NUMBER 2, a pinpoint light on her. She is "invisible" and "inaudible" to all present except KENT's DOUBLE)...turn and walk to the wall on your left...walk to the opposite end...return to the circle...in a loud clear voice (KENT's DOUBLE, to CLEO's immediate right, also gets up; the two, well lit, remain standing, staring at NUMBER 2. All present are oblivious to them.) repeat after me: Obey me and you'll be OK.

NUMBER 2. (Unlike NUMBER 1, utters the words without emphasis.) Obey me and you'll be OK.

POLICE OFFICER. Make one move and I'll kill you.

NUMBER 2. Make one move and I'll kill you.

CLEO (TAPED VOICE=TV hereafter). That's him!

POLICE OFFICER. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

NUMBER 2. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

CLEO (TV). It's him.
                                                                          } Simultaneously.
POLICE OFFICER. I just want to play with you.

NUMBER 2. I just want to play with you.

CLEO (TV). (To KENT, edge and challenge in her voice. Simultaneously, CLEO's DOUBLE looks at KENT's DOUBLE appropriately, although the audience must not see her profile clearly. Every effort should be made throughout to attain the perceptual fusion of CLEO's and KENT's taped voices and the motions of their DOUBLES.) Well? What do you think?

POLICE OFFICER. I am famous. You've heard of me.

KENT (TV). I...

NUMBER 2. I am famous. You've heard of me.

KENT (TV). Are you sure?

POLICE OFFICER. Return to your place... (NUMBER 2 does. While he is walking :)

CLEO (TV). (Still looking intently at NUMBER 2.) What do you mean, am I sure? Look at that bastard strut...

POLICE OFFICER. Number 3, please walk to the circle. (NUMBER 3 does and faces the audience. Meanwhile:)

CLEO (TV). (Sits down and so does KENT a second later. Lights on them are now off, but they continue to "talk" and gesticulate.) Don't you remember his voice when...

POLICE OFFICER. Make a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...

CLEO (TV). ...when he said...

POLICE OFFICER. ...a quarter of a turn to the left...
                                                                                } Simultaneously.
CLEO (TV). ...so calmly...

POLICE OFFICER. ...aaand a quarter of a turn to the left...
                                                                                           } Simultaneously.
CLEO (TV). (Calmly.) ...make one move and I'll kill you.

POLICE OFFICER. ...turn and walk to the wall on your left...

KENT (TV). Sure I remember. (Quickly.) He didn't say it calmly.

POLICE OFFICER. ...walk to the opposite end...

CLEO. (TV). Yes, he did. You just won't admit that he...

KENT. Admit what?

POLICE OFFICER. ...return to the circle...

CLEO. (TV). ...was not exactly a screaming, blood-curdling lunatic, and yet...

POLICE OFFICER. ...repeat after me...

KENT (TV). (Becoming indignant.) And yet, what?

POLICE OFFICER. Obey me and you'll be OK.

NUMBER 3. Obey me and you'll be OK!
                                                            } Simultaneously.
CLEO (TV). ...and yet...oh, never mind!

POLICE OFFICER. (To NUMBER 3.) Cool it. Make one move and I'll kill you.

CLEO (TV). (Hissing.) Well, it's obviously not this animal!
                                                                                        } Partial overlap
NUMBER 3. Make one move and I'll kill you!

KENT (TV). How can you be so sure?

POLICE OFFICER. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

CLEO (TV). I can be! But the brutality of this one is mind-boggling.
                                                                                                        } Partial overlap.
NUMBER 3. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

KENT (TV). (Sarcastically.) Whereas the other guy...

CLEO (TV). (Outburst.) Don't call that pig "a guy"!

POLICE OFFICER. I just want to play with you.

KENT (TV). (Genuinely.) I'm sorry.

NUMBER 3. I just want to play with you.

CLEO (TV). It's just that...

POLICE OFFICER. I am famous. You've heard of me.

CLEO (TV). (Referring to NUMBER 3.) ...this one...

NUMBER 3. I am famous. You've heard of me!
                                                                                                       } Partial overlap.
CLEO (TV). ...is even worse...must be (With disgust.) a murderer.

POLICE OFFICER. Return to your place... Number 4, please walk to the circle.

CLEO (TV). Animals shouldn't be called guys...

POLICE OFFICER. Make a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...

CLEO (TV). ... this morning...

POLICE OFICER. ...a quarter of a turn to the left...

KENT (TV). You're not paying attention.

POLICE OFFICER. ...aaand aquarter of a turn to the left...

CLEO (TV). I am. It's just that...

POLICE OFFICER. ...turn and walk to the wall on your left...

CLEO (TV). (Quickly.) ...I often say "little guy" to my son.

POLICE OFFICER. ...walk to the opposite end...

KENT (TV). How is...

CLEO (TV). (Snaps.) Pete is fine. Listen, I didn't come here to discuss my son! Besides...

POLICE OFFICER. ...and return to the circle...

CLEO (TV). ...why don't you ask me how Robert is? Children forget.

POLICE OFFICER. ...in a loud clear voice repeat after me: Obey me and you'll be OK.
                                                                                                                                    } Partial overlap.
KENT (TV). Pete will not forget me just because you'd like him to! And as...

NUMBER 4. Obey me and you'll be OK.

(On Stage Center and Right, a highly stylized, dimly-illuminated motel room is revealed. There should be an absolute minimum of props, but the motel is not of the sleazy variety. CLEO and KENT enter together. This is by no means the first time they are in this situation. They have been emotionally close and lovers for some time. CLEO is dressed in elegant evening clothes, KENT's are more modest, but neat. They make themselves comfortable, switch on the radio built in the night-stand, open a bottle of wine. After some more stage business, including switching off the radio, they embrace, undress, make love. This is a silent and soft scene, sensuous and tender-no vulgarity or ridicule, please. The scene occurs simultaneously with the line-up goings-on and the taped conversation that are described below and lasts through the following segment.)

KENT (TV). ...and as for Robert...

POLICE OFFICER. Make one move and I'll kill you.
                                                                                                            } Partial overlap
KENT (TV). (Quickly.) ...look, it wasn't your husband I took so often...

CLEO (TV). (Sarcastically.) ...to play in the park.
                                                                          } Partial overlap
NUMBER 4. Make one move and I'll kill you.
                                                                   } Partial overlap
CLEO (TV). (Genuinely.) I'm sorry, but...

KENT (TV). (Hurt.)...Pete is Robert's son, not mine...

POLICE OFFICER. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

KENT (TV). ...how well I know it!

NUMBER 4. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

KENT (TV). (Sincerely.) You know how fond of Pete I had become...
                                                                                                        } Partial overlap
POLICE OFFICER. I just want to play with you.

KENT (TV). ...and that I spent more time with him than your husband did.
                                                                                                                   } Partial overlap
NUMBER 4. I just want to play with you!

KENT (TV). He was busy making mo...

CLEO (TV). (Snaps.) Doing science! Get off Robert! I betrayed him even by allowing Pete to know you.
                                                                                                                                                        } Partial overlap
POLICE OFFICER. I am famous. You've heard of me.

CLEO (TV). ...And...

NUMBER 4. I am famous! You've heard of me.

CLEO (TV). ...I am still married to him.

POLICE OFFICER. Return to your place...

KENT (TV). You sound more married since Robert moved out!

POLICE OFFICER. Number 5, please walk to the circle.

KENT (TV). You're just trying to erase everything we had.

POLICE OFFICER. Make a quarter of a turn to the left...

KENT (TV). To hurt me and degrade me.

POLICE OFFICER. ...a quarter of a turn to the left...

KENT (TV). (Becoming harsher.) So as to forget the rot of your marriage.

POLICE OFFICER. ...a quarter of a turn to the left...

CLEO (TV). (Pleading.) Kent, don't...

KENT (TV). To rescue yourself from the heap of guilt you have built...and savored.

POLICE OFFICER. ...aaand a quarter of a turn to the left...

CLEO (TV) (Pleading.) Kent... (Back to a poised and commanding attitude.) Stop psychologizing!

POLICE OFFICER. ...turn and walk to the wall on your left...

CLEO (TV). (Gently.) Listen...! swooned over you and I'll never forget it.

KENT (TV). (Bitterly.) Typical...Cleo, you are like a cat...

POLICE OFFICER. ...walk to the opposite end...

CLEO (TV). That you were gentle with Pete was touching...

KENT (TV). ...always landing on your paws.

POLICE OFFICER. ...and return to the circle.

CLEO (TV). (Restrained emotion.) ...but we are finished! Finished!

KENT (TV). (Biting.) No self-inflicted wounds for you! Nothing to lick.

POLICE OFFICER. ...in a loud, clear voice repeat after me: Obey me and you'll be OK.

NUMBER 5. (Identical emphasis throughout as NUMBER 1's.) Obey me and you'll be OK.

CLEO (TV). (Referring to NUMBER 5.) Another monster.

KENT (TV). (To himself.) She's always together... always with an opinion.

POLICE OFFICER. Make one move and I'll kill you.
                                                                                                              } Partial overlap
CLEO (TV). I feel as if you'd almost prefer that he's not one of these...

NUMBER 5. Make one move and I'll kill you!
                                                                                                                    } Partial overlap
KENT (TV). (Heavy irony.) I'd almost prefer that the bastard is not caught.

POLICE OFFICER. Do as I say and you'll be OK,

CLEO (TV). Kent...
                                        } Simultaneously.
KENT (TV). (Sadly.) Jesus.

NUMBER 5. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

CLEO (TV). Kent, can't you see...

POLICE OFFICER. I just want to play with you.

CLEO (TV). Can't you see...

NUMBER 5. I just want to play with you!

CLEO (TV). ...that I have come to despise you.

POLICE OFFICER. I am famous. You've heard of me.

CLEO (TV). Honestly, I feel...

NUMBER 5. I am famous! You've heard of me.

CLEO (TV). (Sadly.) ...little but contempt for you.

POLICE OFFICER. Return to your place.

CLEO (TV). In that hour...

POLICE OFFICER. Number 6, please walk to the circle.

CLEO (TV). ...of eerie submission...

KENT (TV). (With infinite sadness.) ...I lost it all.

POLICE OFFICER. Make a quarter of a turn to the left...a quarter of a turn to the left...

CLEO (TV). (Changes the topic. Pensively.) You know, it's strange how children are...quite different from what you'd expect from pop child psychology books...
                                                                                                                                                 } Partial overlap
POLICE OFFICER...a quarter of a turn to the left...

CLEO (TV). I'm both sorry and happy to see it, but Pete no longer asks about you. Instead...
                                                                                                                                                 } Partial overlap
POLICE OFFICER. ...aaand a quarter of a turn to the left...

CLEO (TV). ...he is constantly, obsessively, talking about Robert...

POLICE OFFICER. ...turn and walk to the wall on your left...

CLEO (TV). ...which is... unjust... you put out so much, while Robert pursued his ambitions...

POLICE OFFICER. ...walk to the opposite end...

CLEO (TV). ...I've heard every variation that you can imagine of (Six-year-old male child's voice, wry amusement.) "Why doesn't Daddy live with us any more?"

POLICE OFFICER. ...and return to the circle.

CLEO (TV). Children don't give a damn about being fair.

KENT (TV). (Coldly.) Selfishness taught by their parents...

POLICE OFFICER. In a loud, clear voice repeat after me: Obey me and you'll be OK.
                                                                                                                                                 } Partial overlap
CLEO (TV). No...they are born with a gift for divining simple, unpleasant truths...

NUMBER 6. (Like NUMBER 2 utters the words without any emphasis throughout.) Obey me and you'll be OK.

CLEO (TV). ...instinctive judgments-biology at work...
                                                                                                                                                 } Simultaneously
KENT (TV). (Not ignoring CLEO, but startled.) This one sounds like him!

POLICE OFFICER. Make one move and I'll kill you.

KENT (TV). Listen!

NUMBER 6. Make one move and I'll kill you.

KENT (TV). Yes!

CLEO (TV). ...No...(Looks hard at the line-up.) I'm still convinced it's Number 2. (Sits back.)
                                                                                                                                                 } Partial overlap
POLICE OFFICER. Do as I say and you'll be OK.

CLEO (TV). Genes and survival and...

KENT (TV). Blah, blah, blood is not water, etc.

POLICE OFFICER. I just want to play with you.
                                                                                                                                                 } Partial overlap
CLEO (TV). (Sadly.) You are deeply dumb, Kent. I didn't realize it before.

KENT (TV). (Flatly.) Thanks.
                                                                                                                                                 } Partial overlap
NUMBER 6. I just want to play with you.

CLEO (TV). How he misses his father.

POLICE OFFICER. I am famous. You've heard of me.

KENT (TV). Robert, Robert, Robert, and Robert.

NUMBER 6. I am famous. You've heard of me.
                                                                                                                                                 } Partial overlap
CLEO (TV). (Calmly.) Stop it.

KENT (TV). Cleo... when you and Robert split...

POLICE OFFICER. Return to your place.

(In the motel room, CLEO and KENT have now completed about four-fifths of their love-making. At this point, GEOFF noiselessly springs into the bathroom from the window-sill, having removed the screen. He moves softly, skilfully, fearlessly -- he has done all this before. GEOFF wears a leather jacket, sneakers, and gloves; also, an eye-mask over a ski-hood-similar to those that the LINE-UP MEMBERS are wearing. He gently pushes the bathroom door ajar and watches CLEO and KENT throughout the following segment.)

KENT (TV). ...I hoped it was for us.

CLEO (TV). Robert and I did not "split"...we both broke into pieces!

POLICE OFFICER. Gentlemen, thank you. Now...(Pauses and consults notes.)

KENT (TV). Darling...

CLEO (TV). (Kindly -- to the extent that is possible given what she says.) Please don't darling me. I asked Robert to leave...

POLICE OFFICER. All right. Let's continue...

CLEO (TV). ...because I couldn't face him.

POLICE OFFICER. Before we do though...

CLEO (TV). Shame, disgust... utter contempt for him... and myself...

KENT (TV). ...and me...

CLEO TV). ...and you.

POLICE OFFICER. ...I want to ask victims and witnesses whether... (Consults notes.)

KENT (TV). (Ironically.) Go ahead, say it: "You will never understand".

CLEO (TV). (The sparring with KENT has exhausted her.) Oh, shut up!

(CLEO and KENT come to a climax at this point and then lie quietly. GEOFF does not move.)

POLICE OFFICER. ...they have any further questions.

CLEO (TV). (Very upset. Rapidly.) ... I came home raped and he just took it...

POLICE OFFICER. (Walks to the front row of VICTIMS and WITNESSES and talks sotto voce to several people there.)

(CLEO and KENT are in deep sleep. GEOFF walks noiselessly from the bathroom to the foot of the bed and quietly stands there watching them through the following segment. In his right hand, held straight down his leg is a hunting knife with an 11" blade. However, GEOFFs posture is not menacing; he in no sense appears as if he is about to strike.)

CLEO (TV). (Calms down, swallows tears.) ...accepted it like a dog. Rape, adultery, everything. (With contempt.) Like a dog...big, loving, lapping, licking eyes. Ever so slightly perturbed. "Are you all right"? God, the anger one feels! You say blah, blah. I say blah, blah! Social-science jargon. The howevers and the buts. Nonentities who taught my husband the customary dose of relativistic morality, the pseudo-ethics to "humanize" his math and his physics. Who taught him no better than to ask (Almost shrieks.) his wife, for God's sake, after what happened to me (Mockingly.), "Are you all right"? Some compassion! Pitiful platitudes and spineless politesse. No guts. No principles. Only fear, fear and submission...wrapped up in appeasement...and false decency to which even his own... (Screams.) family is sacrificed! What happened to hate? What happened to healthy hate? To old-fashioned pride? To revenge?... Why couldn't he...why couldn't he hate me, or love me, something... sufficiently to protect me from...

KENT (TV). (Begins to form a word, but doesn't succeed.) ....

CLEO (TV). ...you, from temptation, from...myself, from... this...(With disgust.) Number 2?

KENT (TV). I...

CLEO (TV). (Changes the topic briefly.) Kent...I sit here looking at (Gestures.) these six scumbags...

KENT (TV). (Not challenging her, sadly.) Only one did it to you, Cleo.

CLEO (TV). (Quasi-reasonably.) Yes, but the others, who do you think they are? Saints? Innocent victims of police brutality? How do you think they got here? Wake up, Kent. They raped other women! I feel dirty just being so close to them... I feel dirty already and you somehow make me feel dirtier still... (Goes back to the previous topic.) Look, Robert never said to me, as he should have, "You bitch, you deserve it"; "You whore, what do you expect to happen when you go screwing your... (Sarcastically.) paramour in some motel?"

KENT (TV). (Hurt.) We did not screw, we...

CLEO (TV). (Kindly.) All right, we made love, we loved each other. (Pause.) But, Kent...Robert should have killed me, you ...right now he should be plunging a knife into this Number 2 bastard...if he had any values! What a revolting combination: meekness and barren self-love! The egotism of a slug. God, the terrible defeat of the meek self-lover occurs because he denies expression to basic nature...he looks in the mirror and fingers the lines cowardice has etched around his eyes and mouth, then looks closer to admire the damage ...and to find the best spot for the next blow... self-love becomes self-hate; they are one... Men have forgotten their biological obligations... Robert'd die before he'd murder and he'd be a slug before he'd die. And...

KENT (TV). ...You think I am a slug, too.

CLEO (TV). You are worse...you were...there.

(POLICE OFFICER. having consulted various VICTIMS and WITNESSES, walks back to his podium. As he does, lights on the line-up gradually dim. At the same time, in the motel room, GEOFF switches on a floor lamp, watching for a reaction from the sleepers. They stir, but that is all.)

POLICE OFFICER. All right, now, what we'll do is... (His voice trails off gradually to below intelligibility, but he continues to give instructions and LINE-UP MEMBERS and VICTIMS AND WITNESSES pay attention to him. Lights in the motel room have gradually increased in the meantime. GEOFF reaches under the covers and strokes CLEO's leg. She moans in her sleep and reaches for KENT. GEOFF continues to caress her. After a moment, she abruptly sits up, startled, voiceless.)

GEOFF. (Softly, reassuringly.) Be quiet. (Shows her the knife.)

CLEO. Who are you? (Loudly.) Kent! (Shakes him with one hand and holds the covers to her chest with the other.) Kent!

KENT. (Sleepily.) What is it, Cleo?

CLEO. Kent, wake up! (To GEOFF, sharply.) What do you want? What is this?

KENT. (Sits up, still dazed. Sees GEOFF.) What...? (Cannot take his eyes off the knife.)

GEOFF. (Calmly, firmly.) Obey me and you'll be OK. (CLEO attempts to reach for some of her clothes by the bed.) Make one move and I'll kill you. (CLEO freezes.) Both of you lie down. (They hesitate, especially CLEO. GEOFF thrusts the knife slightly forward.) Do as I say and you'll be OK. Lie down. (They do. GEOFF is standing at the foot of the bed.) Cleo and Kent, isn't that pretty.

CLEO. What do you want?

GEOFF. I just want to play with you.

(Lights gradually increase over the LINE-UP.)

CLEO. (Sharply.) How did you get in here? Who are you?

KENT. (Supposedly calming her.) Cleo...

POLICE OFFICER. ...Gentlemen, now please all of you take off your masks.

(GEOFF and all six LINE-UP MEMBERS simultaneously take off their masks, revealing identical ski-hoods; only eyes show through slits. Lights then dim over the LINE-UP. The POLICE OFFICER and LINE-UP MEMBERS now proceed to repeat the previously enacted ritual in its entirety: NUMBERS 1 through 6 are sequentially called to the circle, asked to walk back and forth and repeat identical statements, etc. The speech of all these people is not intelligible, it is a mere murmur, but follows closely the previously described verbal content, vocal features, and rhythm. Lights are low, but movements are clearly detectable. The LINE-UP is a relatively unobtrusive, but ever-present, inescapable fact. The persistent repetitiveness of action and speech should both nag and calm the audience; the ritual should be painful to see because of its surreal inhumanity and yet, somehow, hypnotic. The segment should last about 14-15 minutes.)

GEOFF. (He took the mask off in response to CLEO's last question as if to complement his self-introduction. One gets the feeling he has done it all before, even the apparent improvizations, like a hack repertory actor. His manner reflects self-confidence; the overall effect is by no means comic.) I am Geoff. (CLEO and KENT watch him in scared amazement.) Nothing to do with Thomas Jefferson. "G" as in "George", "E" as in "England", "0" as in (Smirks.) ... "Octopus", "F" as in "France", "F" as in (Almost with humor.)"Fuck".

KENT. (A feeble attempt to sit up.) Look, I really think you should lea...

GEOFF. Shut up...and obey me. Lie down and you won't get hurt. (KENT does.) I've done this lots of times. I am famous. You've heard of me. They talk about me on TV and in all the newspapers. "Geoff 'The Mask'" case, they call it, dumb cops and dumber media creeps. (CLEO and KENT exchange an apprehensive glance, for they have heard of the case.) I don't hurt people if they obey and 1 never get hurt... (GEOFF takes a sip of wine left in one of the glasses. CLEO and KENT watch him, exchange a glance, watch him again. GEOFF appears not to pay attention.) Good, you didn't move...I was watching you. (Pours some more wine and walks back to the foot of the bed, glass in his left hand, knife in his right.)

CLEO. Did you follow us here?

GEOFF. (Switches on the radio (CLEO is on that side of the bed). Briefly listens to and changes several stations, then hears the instrumental strains at the very beginning of the song "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game" (first song on Side 2 of the "Warm Leatherette" album by Grace Jones, Island Records, ILPS 9592). Grace Jones. Beautiful. (Chuckles.) You'll appreciate the coincidence. (Grace Jones's vocal line now begins. GEOFF listens attentively and softly sings along.)

Every day is change
And the world puts on
A new face.
Certain things we arrange
And the world seems like
A new place.
Secretly I've been trailing you
Like a fox that preys on a rabbit.
I had to get you and so I knew
I had to learn
All your ways and all your habits.

(GEOFF switches off the radio.) Like Grace says. A hunter stalks his prey, then waits for a moment of inattention. You were busy when I (Indicates the bathroom with a head movement.) came in.

CLEO. (With a shudder.) You mean you were in there watching us!

GEOFF. Yeah... (To KENT, sarcastically.) Wasn't much to see... (To Cleo.) Is he your boyfriend?

CLEO. Listen...Geoff. Why us? We're just trying to have a bit of a good time. Why don't you leave us alone? I've got some money in my pur...

GEOFF. Lady, I'll take your money in my own sweet time. Is he your boyfriend?

CLEO. (An uncertain, guilty look at KENT.) Well...we've known each other for a while.

GEOFF. And you go to motels for a good time. Just like I do. {Takes a sip and switches on the radio. The same song is still on. Grace Jones sings:

What's this whole world coming to?
It just ain't the same
Any time the hunter
Gets captured by the game.

(Abruptly switches the radio off. To himself.) No one is ever going to capture me... (To CLEO.) What kind of a name is that, Cleo, French?

KENT. Look...

GEOFF. Shut up, loverboy. (To CLEO.) Yes?

CLEO. (Despite herself.) Cleo as in Cleopatra.

GEOFF. (Amused.) Oh, yeah? Did Mark Antony call her that?... I read a lot of drama in highschool and college...even had some small parts...typical shitroles for blacks. (CLEO and KENT exchange a look: They know from newspaper accounts that GEOFF "The Mask" is black. So far, they only suspected this, on the basis of his voice.)

CLEO. (Suddenly bolder. She has not forgotten the knife or the situation, but her nature pushes her into a verbal duel against her better judgment.) At least you didn't say "shitroles for niggers"! Maybe you had no talent. Or didn't look like anybody's idea of a landowner in a Chekhov play.

GEOFF. (Startled. Points the knife at her.) You have some nerve, lady... (Keeping anger under control.) Your loverboy is lucky he isn't saying any of this... And don't give me any of that "chip-on-the-shoulder" bullshit. I don't say and do what I say and do because I "have to", or for (Sarcastically.) psychological reasons. I am not insane. I exercise choice. I'm doing what I want to ... And, listen, I can say "nigger", you can't!

CLEO. Because you have the knife.

GEOFF. Because I have the knife. (Chuckles.) But Kent here wouldn't say "shitroles for niggers" even if he had the knife... or a whip... He's no slave-driver. Too much guilt. (Taunting KENT.) Isn't that right, loverboy? Too much guilt. Are you maybe Jewish?

CLEO. (With spite.) I wouldn't mind being an Israeli with an Uzzi machine gun right now.

KENT. Look, Geoff, can we somehow agree...

GEOFF. Shut up! No, we can't. (To CLEO.) I asked you if "Cleo" was French. I saw it in French movies.

CLEO. (Almost despite herself.) Yes... it's my nickname... my people came from France, trapped for beaver around the Great Lakes. Cleo comes from Claudette. (Shrill, frustrated.) Why am I saying all this?

GEOFF. (Calmly.) Quiet... I bet you went to Catholic schools. Did that make you horny? Or did they teach you about cheating on your husband?

KENT. (Makes a movement as if to rise.) This is...

GEOFF. (To KENT, firmly.) Do...not...move. (To Cleo.) I may yet take (Points to it with the knife.) your wedding ring.

CLEO. (A defeated pause. In a tired voice.) Can I have some water?

(Behaving as if the request and the situation are perfectly normal, GEOFF walks to the bathroom, picking up a wine-glass on the way. CLEO looks briefly at KENT, then around the room for a way of escape or something to hit GEOFF with. KENT is eager, but indecisive and useless. He whispers something to CLEO, mostly in the way of inept and unwelcome encouragement. Water is heard — this is pre-recorded — running in the bathroom.)

GEOFF. (Calmly, over the sound of running water, his back to the room.) Kent, if you pick up the phone, I'll be all over you before your trembling, sweaty fingers dial a single digit.

(KENT does not move. GEOFF walks back and hands the glass to CLEO. She takes it, looking at GEOFF. He keeps his left hand extended in front of her, so that she cannot throw the glass at his face. She takes several sips, then rests the glass on her chest. KENT remains confused, uncertain. GEOFF gently takes the glass, pours some wine into it, sips it. CLEO turns over and lies prone, her face in her hands.)

KENT. (Leans and touches her shoulder.) Cleo...

CLEO. (Pushes his hand away. A couple of involuntary, genuine sobs. Turns over quickly. To GEOFF.) Why are you doing this? How can you do it?

GEOFF. Lady, spare me your whitey reasoning and whitey phoney emotions. I've got enough of that at home.

KENT. So, your... woman is...

GEOFF. My wife is whiter than you. And don't you call her "woman".

KENT. I didn't mean't...

GEOFF. Whiter and blonder than you. (Sarcastically. Paces back and forth around the room. Relaxed, but the knife is always at the ready. CLEO and KENT listen to him fascinated.) ... A rich chick... kind of like those in the Sixties that fell into black men's beds as a political statement. I guess blacks thought of all white radicals what Lenin thought of Western communists: Useful idiots. And those women that weren't political, well, all you had to do is lay on them something like "You won't sleep with me because I'm black" and they'd hop right in the sack. "Free love" was invented for black men and white women. Look at Jimmy Hendrix. Raw power he spoke to white women with his cock, not with flowers in his hair...

CLEO. You are obsessed with white women.

GEOFF. I am? Maybe I am obsessed with white pussy. It gave me a kick to watch my lilly-white wife nurse our kid, who's blacker than me. So, does that make me obsessed? No more so than honkies are obsessed with black ass. The thing is that my wife, and her bleating, and her family are all full of it and driving me crazy. (Pours himself another glass, switches the radio on, listens briefly to several stations, switches it off. CLEO and KENT follow his every move. GEOFF is unconcerned.)

KENT. Is that why you're doing this?

GEOFF. (Irritably.) Doing what?

KENT. I mean...

GEOFF. I know what you're going to say...

KENT. ...did your wife's family...

GEOFF. (Recites.) ...disapprove, offend me, put me down, spit in my face, disinherit my wife, shun our kid? You are a joke, Kent. (Sits on the edge of the bed, CLEO's side.) None of most of the above. They're just an ordinary, close family. Less racist than my father and brothers; more polite, superficially, than my mother and sisters. They bug me despite how hard they tried... or perhaps because of it... but the bottom line is that my wife and I are no longer...

KENT. But is it poss...

GEOFF. (Reading KENT's thoughts.) You don't give up, do you? Look... what resent is whites... telling a black dude that he did what he did because he couldn't help it... like, "society" made him do it... Do you really believe black people believe that crap? That they are the only ones who have no choice? Bull...shit! Blacks do what they do for their own reasons. Once it's done, they listen in amazement to white folks' explanations as to why they did it. Sure they play dumb, they go along, they put a suit and tie on... because it gets them off...

CLEO. (Sobbing.) God, why are you doing this? (With hate and contempt.) Geoff "The Mask"! (Hysterically.) You must've done it to lots of people in lots of motels. (Grabs the blanket, rises on her knees.) Why? Get out of here, you devil, you creep, I hate your guts! (KENT rises half-way. GEOFF, knife at the ready, pushes CLEO down onto her back, and KENT, with some hesitation, but without being told, lies back also.)

GEOFF. (Puts his right foot on the edge of the bed, CLEO's side, right elbow resting on the knee, same hand holding the knife. Calmly.) Cleo, for this I'll rape you bad... although (A first note of insecurity in his voice.) you're as crazy and desperate as I am. (Looks through CLEO and KENT as he talks.) If I am ever caught, I'll kill myself... I'll probably be the first black man to commit suicide in jail... Blacks don't suicide... too strong a will to live, too healthy... mentally. (Harsh laugh.) Or maybe I'll be the first black prisoner to want a quiet walk on the beach as his last wish. (Switches the radio on. A reggae song by Peter Tosh comes on, "Dem Ha Fe Get A Beaten", from the Bush Doctor album. Rolling Stones Records COC 39109. GEOFF listens, almost stops it, lets it go, starts dancing.)

KENT. (Finally a little angry.) Jesus!

GEOFF. (Ignores KENT. Keeps dancing. To CLEO.) D'you like reggae music?

CLEO. No! NO! NO!

GEOFF. But I bet your loverboy likes it. He would. And he likes Rastafarians, too; a cool white dude who understands blacks and their aspirations. Dumb! His Supreme Majesty, the Fearless Lion or whatever, the Emperor of the poorest country in Africa, Ethiopia, this King of Kings Haile Selassie goes to visit Jamaica about sixty years ago and promises the people there he'd send them everything. Gold, food, drink, elephants. So, to this day these Rastas, zonked on gandja, sit there, sing reggae, and wait for the ship with the goods from ol" Haile to arrive. Of course, the King of Kings was not saved by the cargo cult from his own people. But loverboy here really gets into reggae.

KENT. (Jumps out of bed, stands as if to fight. He is quite muscular and totally nude.) You sonovabitch!

GEOFF. (Approaches KENT slowly, knife extended, cat-like moves.) Down. (They stare at each other for an eternity. Finally, KENT gets back into the bed.) You're playing with FIRE. (Switches the radio off. Pours another glass of wine and sips it, almost as if summoning courage. In the LINE-UP area, all six men have by now been put through the paces. If additional time is needed, the POLICE OFFICER could again be consulting the VICTIMS and WITNESSES as long as necessary. Lights intensify on the LINE-UP.)

POLICE OFFICER. All, right, gentlemen, now you all take your ski-hoods off.

(GEOFF and the six LINE-UP MEMBERS take them off simultaneously, to reveal that they all have identical "blackface" make-up. Lights dim over the LINE-UP. During the following segment, the LINE-UP MEMBERS, starting with NUMBER 1, again repeat the POLICE OFFICER'S statements, walk back and forth, etc. In the motel room, CLEO AND KENT stare at GEOFF's make-up.)

GEOFF. (Picks up KENT's shirt from a chair and throws it to him.) Let's get to business... both of you do exactly as I say... You (To KENT.) put that shirt over your face. DON'T LOOK AT ME! DO IT NOW! (Reluctantly, KENT does it.) You, Cleo, move over here. (Motions her toward the foot of the bed. CLEO stares at him terror-stricken, does not move.) I said MOVE! (CLEO moves forward, ever so slightly, bed-cover held to her chest. GEOFF holds the knife a few inches from CLEO's chin and firmly grabs her right arm above the elbow. She is forced to move toward GEOFF on her knees, but upright, inch by inch. When he jerks the bed-cover off her, she tugs on it only weakly. Her spirit has been broken. Thereafter, she obeys GEOFF like a somnambulist, one quietly resigned -- unresponsive, even though burning on hellish fire. She follows GEOFF's commands with some delay, but precisely, a look of wonderment about her at what is happening. KENT, in contrast, does not switch off, but remains the same: Terrified, indecisive, ineffective. His spirit did not need to be broken, for it simply never existed in a form necessary to cope with this situation.) Nice tits... Now turn around... and put his cock in your mouth. (Only a nudge is required for CLEO to do this. KENT is supine, shirt over his face; Cleo is on her knees; GEOFF is standing at the foot of the bed, not touching CLEO; the blade glints occasionally. Extremely delicate direction is required here to make this scene one of terror, rather than sexual vulgarity. The audience must see what is happening, but just.) C'mon, Cleo, suck it. (Her head moves up and down for a full minute. At the beginning of this, lights dim further on the LINE-UP, it is barely visible. All six members and the POLICE OFFICER freeze throughout the following segment. KENT is motionless. GEOFF watches. The silence is total. What the audience ought to see here is a great evil being committed, the total physical and mental humiliation of two human beings, concentration-camp-style.) You have a beautiful ass, Cleo... too bad for the stretch-marks. (She stops momentarily, but then continues without being told, as if hypnothized. GEOFF walks around to the side of the bed, puts his face closer.) I wonder what your husband would feel if he saw the ring he gave you bonded to another man's cock. (CLEO's head collapses between KENT's legs and she emits a muffled shriek. KENT's breathing is hard, but it must be made absolutely evident that neither he nor Cleo are experiencing any sexual arousal.) You're not doing too well, hunh, loverboy? Not surprising. Whities can't perform under stress. Kent, get up from the bed... GET UP!... DON'T REMOVE THE SHIRT! (GEOFF turns KENT around, places the point of the knife between his shoulder blades, guides him into a comer, and leaves him standing there -- his back to the room and holding the shirt to his face.) This is what white masters used to do to black slaves: Fuck their wives and daughters in their presence. (CLEO is paralyzed throughout; she is still on her knees, her face on the bed. GEOFF kneels behind her. Blocking should be such that at this moment the longer axis of Cleo's body points directly at KENT's back. Therefore, as GEOFF unzips his pants -- CLEO shudders at the sound -- and begins to rape CLEO from the rear, he can easily monitor KENT's actions. The rape should last no more than ten seconds = 7 thrusts. GEOFF is not violent, but rather almost detached. At the end of this interval, CLEO suddenly raises herself into upright position, though still kneeling).

CLEO. (Sobbing, voice trembling, but powerful.) My God, my God! [At this, KENT falls on his knees in an identical, though mute, gesture, head tossed back — he has finally dropped the shirt. GEOFF rushes out of the room. Lights very gradually diminish on the motionless CLEO and KENT, during which time GEOFF enters, unseen by the audience, from Stage Left, behind the LINE-UP that is now in total darkness, and takes the place of NUMBER 2, who slips out. (It is essential that the audience does not notice this change; if there is any chance that it might, it would be better to execute the change openly, with lights on. It is, of course, equally essential to avoid the false-ending problem at all costs.) Simultaneously, two things now happen. In the motel room, lights go off, allowing CLEO and KENT to go off and execute a rapid costume change to clothes identical to those worn by their doubles seated among VICTIMS and WITNESSES. (No effort should be made to remove the motel-room props, they should simply be left in the dark.) At the same time, lights are suddenly ablaze over the LINE-UP, and GEOFF is seen in the NUMBER 2 spot, in the same costume he wore in the motel room; the other five LINE-UP members are in prison garb, as they have been all along. After only a moment, GEOFF steps out of the LINE-UP. His action should be made to appear, through precise timing, as caused by, and temporally connected to, CLEO's and KENTs anguish and supplications. There are now pinpoints of light on GEOFF and the POLICE OFFICER. who draws his gun and points it at GEOFF; the latter pays no attention. As GEOFF begins to speak, lights diminish on the rest of the LINE-UP members and they "melt away" for good. VICTIMS AND WITNESSES remain, in dim light.]

GEOFF. I've been here all along, you just didn't have the eyes to see, none of you except one. Yes, i did it.

CLEO (TV). (A blood-curdling shriek.) I knew it!

GEOFF. I can't stand this torture any longer. Shunted about like sheep, branded by a number like cattle. (He moves a few steps to Center and Down Stage. The POLICE OFFICER follows with pointed gun. Lights are almost off on VICTIMS and WITNESSES, allowing CLEO and KENT to walk onto the stage, as if they rose from the seats previously occupied by their doubles. The four now form a baseball diamond, but one on an inclined plane: The second base, occupied by GEOFF, who is facing the audience, is at the highest point; KENT, at bat, with his back to the audience, is at the lowest. The POLICE OFFICER, on first base, and CLEO, on third, are at intermediate levels. Sarcastically, at his own expense.) Number 1 in life should have been NUMBER 1 in the line-up.

CLEO. You... YOU complain of being treated like cattle! You are not cattle, you are the Number 1 cockroach! And more resistant and clinging to life. "I'll kill myself if they catch me." Hunh! I see you thriving in jail, you bastard, getting stronger, so that you can...

GEOFF. You're wrong, Cle...

CLEO. SHUT UP! You don't have a knife at my throat now! And I don't depend on this... (Points at KENT.) for protection! I've hated my name ever since you heard it. If not for that gun (POLICE OFFICER's.), I would CLAW my name out of your brain.

GEOFF. You don't know it... but I've tried to kill myself in jail. It's not easy. One doesn't have many options. Also...

POLICE OFFICER. You better come along now.

GEOFF. ... also, I didn't go along with my lawyer's... with her plan for an insanity plea. Why do you think I confessed? I'm tired of it all, within me and without... I just want to end it.

POLICE OFFICER. I've tolerated this because I thought it would be good for the witness to confront you. Let's get going.

(A man rises from the first row in the audience. This is ROBERT. During the next segment, he will very gradually approach the POLICE OFFICER from behind. He is "unseen" by the actors until he strikes. The audience sees him as a shadowy figure, without knowing what to make of him.)

GEOFF. Officer, treat this as a confession... (To CLEO and KENT.) I was caught the next day after the... thing with you two. I wanted to be caught, looking for a way to be caught. Something had snapped that night.

POLICE OFFICER. Everyone's remorseful once behind bars.

GEOFF. (Ignoring him. To CLEO, softly, sorrowfully.) You are an incredible woman...

CLEO. (Covers her ears and shrieks.) STOP IT! I don't want to hear any more garbage! I don't want your penitence! You stomped all over my body and spirit with your grimy feet. Your sickness broke my will and I'll never forgive myself for letting it happen. To hell with women's weak upper torsos and arms! I could have done many things to fight you off before my sheer... anguish chased you off!

GEOFF. I...

CLEO. Shut up you creep, I tell you! And what you did to Kent. Perhaps he deserved it, for he still can't hate you. Perhaps, our whole wimpy culture deserves it... (To herself.) Oh, God, who am I to dish out just desserts? (Her hands to her face, sobbing.)

KENT. Cleo... (Robert is now directly behind the POLICE OFFICER.)

CLEO. (Half to herself.) Cleo's counting her blessings. It's good to be poor. I don't have a husband any more. I don't have a lover. Pete and I have shrunk to basic mother and son.

GEOFF. (Moved.)...

(ROBERT suddenly springs from the shadow and grabs the POLICE OFFICER's gun from behind.)

CLEO. ROBERT! (He walks to the mound of the baseball diamond.)

ROBERT. (Points the gun at the POLICE OFFICER.) I am sorry, officer, but I couldn't bear this any longer... stay where you are. Even I know how to use this thing. (Cocks the gun. Points it at KENT.) Imagine a husband learning about his wife's adultery and rape at the same time... It's all so strange... I was horrified by the rape, but I hated the adultery even more... I didn't know what to do... Pete mentioning you... But you only did with Cleo what any man... it was up to... (Points the gun at and speaks to CLEO.) You are a different matter. In the old times, I suppose, I would have instantly... To people who say, "But these are more civilized times," I say: "Pigs and liars! The oath is the same, the ring, the bond."

CLEO. (Sobbing.) I don't mind dying. Shoot.

GEOFF. Noooooo! (ROBERT turns the gun on GEOFF.) She's a saint. Let your son have a mother... I can't endure any more line-ups... a caged animal on show... the faces of all those women... and the thought of a lifetime of... being gang-raped and fist-fucked in prison. Kill me!

ROBERT. (Stares at GEOFF, with the gun pointed at him, for a full 30 sec.; no one moves, there is total silence. The only movements are two 2-sec. glances that ROBERT directs at CLEO.) I will. (To CLEO.) This is what you wanted me to do all along, isn't it?

POLICE OFFICER. (Urgently.) Sir, I'm warning you, I know what you've been through, but don't play God...

(ROBERT fires, GEOFF falls. No screams or other reactions from anyone. ROBERT remains motionless, with the gun still pointed in the same direction, for 10 sec.; he then slowly lowers the gun until it points at the floor. As CLEO and the POLICE OFFICER begin to move toward him, ROBERT, still facing GEOFF, bends his arm at the elbow until the gun points upward, and they freeze. Total darkness. A split of a second later, the eardrum-shattering sound of a single shot.)

THE END


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