Drama

Carry We Openly

Photo Credit: Billy Wilt.Licensed CC-BY-ND.
Photo Credit: Billy Wilt.
Licensed CC-BY-ND.

CHARACTERS:
LIBERTY (PAPA) — grandfather
FELICITY — mother
JUSTICE — son, late adolescent
THEY — dressed in white; one [an older woman?] or more

For an all brown cast.

PLACE:
In a room. Perhaps a basement. Underground. On a stage. Spare. Decrepit.

(NOTE: // is a light or sound or blocking or movement or facial expression cue for alternity [an alternate word, a redo of the scene-let] such as a flicker of light or a flash of static or a twitch of the head or a tic of the cheek or…)

(The in-line rephrasings // rewordings are quick.)

(The scene redoes or redirections or alternate realizations are more deliberate. // might be a form of external control, or characters’ choice, or metatheatrics, or historical determinism, or different possibilities, or all of the above or some of the above sometimes or none of the above or or or…)


(THEY places PAPA, FELICITY, and JUSTICE onstage. PAPA sleeps. FELICITY and JUSTICE paused mid-conversation, poised mid-gesture, posed by THEY. THEY exits. JUSTICE begins flat, emotionless, inhuman, mechanical. Continuing:)

FELICITY: Watch your mouth. We’ve given that word.

JUSTICE: I know. But it is what it is. I found it.

FELICITY: Okay … then there’s nothing to do but give it.a

JUSTICE: I know.

FELICITY: So where is it?

JUSTICE: … I lost it.

FELICITY: Justice. You found it. Then you lost it?

JUSTICE: I know.

(THEY search. In stage boxes, behind curtains, under or behind or in whatever is onstage. THEY find nothing.)

FELICITY: Stop. Stay calm. Think about where you had it last.

JUSTICE: I never had it. I hid it.

(Pause.)

FELICITY: Do you know what it does?

JUSTICE: I know. That’s why I hid it. I was afraid someone would find it.

FELICITY: You found it.

JUSTICE: Mother, another might not want to give as much as I want to give.

FELICITY: Nonsense. Everyone gives equally. I’m more afraid they will find it first and we will be fined // censored // chastised for appearing to not want to give enough. Or because of our incompetence.

JUSTICE: My incompetence.

FELICITY: It’s not yours, you just found it –

JUSTICE: My name’s JUSTICE –

FELICITY: That’s not what I’m saying –

JUSTICE: I said I’m too old to be called Just –

FELICITY: I’m saying, you just found it / so you’re not culpable.

JUSTICE: You should’ve said, “You, Justice, found it.”

(Pause. FELICITY calms.)

FELICITY: J. How about you tell me where you hid it, so we can give it.

(JUSTICE indicates. FELICITY investigates.)

FELICITY: It’s not here.

JUSTICE: I know. I found it. I hid it. I lost it.

FELICITY: Or someone found it already.

JUSTICE: Maybe Papa found it. It must be Papa’s.

FELICITY: Watch your mouth, J.

JUSTICE: I can’t see my mouth, mother.

(Something of a mother-son staring contest. Perhaps as if in a western duel. Spaghetti western music? Silence?)

(PAPA bursts awake, cutting off music / silence / staring.)

PAPA: What’re you doing downstairs?

FELICITY: Nothing.

PAPA: You got something to hide, Felicity?

JUSTICE: There is no upstairs.

PAPA: … ‘at a boy. Learning.

JUSTICE: Good morning, Papa.

PAPA: How are we today?

JUSTICE: (a hint of brightness) Given, sir.

PAPA: Fine. Fine day outside. The sun rose pink. Pink as a — nevermind. Nobody about to give one pause. Now a breeze rustles, stirs the smell of vegetal decay. Leaves fall crisply. A low golden light casts long dark shadows. The world // word is autumnal. Inside is climate controlled. Outside … what lurks? A fine morning for dragging one’s feet through the rotting leaves before people intrude // a branch breaks // the cold rains patter. A morning for invigorating oneself –

FELICITY: for losing –

PAPA: discovering –

FELICITY: killing –

PAPA: creating oneself. The kind of peaceful morning I fought to preserve for my grandson.

JUSTICE: I’m going out.

FELICITY: It’s not time to go out.

PAPA: A morning for hunting rabbit or pigeon or opossum.

FELICITY: Not anymore, Dad.

PAPA: A morning for patrolling the neighborhood and hunting coons.

JUSTICE: Then I’ll go in.

(JUSTICE jumps into his hiding place in box or behind furniture or in plain view or inside taped square, etc. FELICITY retrieves breakfast tray of donut holes, which has been brought in by THEY, perhaps during PAPA’s monologue, or hidden in pre-set. She gives JUSTICE a hole in his hiding place. PAPA takes a hole. He eats it in one bite.)

FELICITY: Good morning, Liberty // Papa. Did it again, did you not?

PAPA: We all carry within us our places of exile, Felicity.

FELICITY: One of these mornings you might throw in a salute // a hug // a polite hello.

PAPA: Such as, “That was an excellent breakfast, sugar.”

FELICITY: Progress would be a fascinating idea.

PAPA: Such as first breakfast, then lunch, and, at the end, dinner.

FELICITY: Not now. Everyday.

PAPA: Such as we search and search and search … and never find it.

FELICITY: Such as we find it, then we give it, like all the others.

(Pause.)

PAPA: Well. That time of the morning again.

(The following is ritualistic. A searching that is not.)

PAPA: Where is it? Searching …

(JUSTICE pokes out, tries to speak –)

FELICITY: You lost it ages ago.

PAPA: Searching …

(JUSTICE tries to speak –)

FELICITY: You know they aren’t paying attention. They don’t care anymore.

PAPA: Searching …

(JUSTICE tries to speak –)

FELICITY: You gave it and don’t remember it.

PAPA: (with force) I gave nothing.

FELICITY: Which is what we’ve found, nothing. (Pauses.) He found it.

(Ritual broken. JUSTICE hides.)

PAPA: (thrilled) Did he?

FELICITY: (unsure) Did he?

(//)

PAPA: (afraid) Did he?

FELICITY: He did.

PAPA: Give it to me. (Pauses.) Or, (clears throat), give it.

(Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.)

FELICITY: He lost it.

PAPA: He found it and lost it.

FELICITY: Yes. That’s what he says.

PAPA: He didn’t give it?

FELICITY: Yes. No. Yes? No? How you negatively phrased that question makes me wonder if life is worth living.

PAPA: Just do your best, baby. If he found it then lost it, nothing has changed. We are where we started.

JUSTICE: (continually, from hiding) We are here we are here we are here …

FELICITY: No, the power to kill // of God // to die at the twitch of a finger has been born.

PAPA: No time for birth imagery, Felicity. If they find it first they’ll abort us // –

JUSTICE: (within continuing “we are here”) shut me down –

FELICITY: disrobe me –

PAPA: community us // –

JUSTICE: (within continuing “we are here”) cancel me –

FELICITY: wash me –

PAPA: bleach us // – justice (within continuing “we are here”) data me –

FELICITY: love me –

PAPA: abort JUSTICE –

(JUSTICE pops out.)

JUSTICE: Is it time to go out yet?

FELICITY: Have you found it yet?

JUSTICE: No.

FELICITY: Then –

FELICITY / PAPA: NO.

(JUSTICE defiantly comes out of hiding. Pause.)

(//.)

PAPA: We must find it before they do.

(THEY search. Martial music. Searching is ritualistic, rhythmic, choreographed, becoming military, a march, perhaps into audience.)

PAPA: What are we doing, men?!

JUSTICE / FELICITY: Searching, sir!

PAPA: And what are we searching for, men?!

JUSTICE / FELICITY: It, sir!

PAPA: And what is It, men?!

JUSTICE / FELICITY: …

PAPA: (anxious, re: audience) They advance. We are under surveillance. Did you not hear me?

FELICITY: Yes, sir. I mean, No, sir.

JUSTICE: We know, sir.

PAPA: Then what is It, ladies?

JUSTICE: We are not permitted to say. Sir.

PAPA: (suddenly pleading) But what is it we are searching for? Please.

(Rapidly.)

FELICITY: Joy.

JUSTICE: Safety.

FELICITY: Escape.

JUSTICE: Peace.

FELICITY: Dignity.

JUSTICE: Prosperity.

FELICITY: Transcendence.

JUSTICE: Power.

FELICITY: Liberty.

JUSTICE: Felicity.

FELICITY: Justice.

(Pause.)

PAPA: I thought we were searching for self-defense.

FELICITY: I am.

(FELICITY draws a large head of cauliflower with a long stem from a box or hiding place. Or it falls from above into her open hand. Or it descends hanging. She points the head at her head. From another or the same hiding place, PAPA pulls a white Superman action figure, or a stylized/abstract figurine that can shoulder the overtones of Nietzschean superman. He points its head at the door, defending his home. From another or the same hiding place, JUSTICE takes a sickle and hammer. He points the sickle and hammer at the audience like firearms, facing an angry mob.)

FELICITY: (shooting herself) Bang.

(She drops cauliflower and holds her position, dead. Or she falls dead and cauliflower holds its position in midair. Or.)

JUSTICE: Did I hear something?

PAPA: Don’t know what’s good for them.

FELICITY: (monotone) You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

JUSTICE: (concerned) Mom, are you okay?

(//. FELICITY lives.)

FELICITY: Yes honey, I’m fine. There’s a community cauliflower on the floor. Would you care for some?

PAPA: We’re being stalked.

JUSTICE: I hate cauliflower.

FELICITY: Language, Justice.

PAPA: They’re collecting data on our cauliflower usage even now.

FELICITY: Everybody loves cauliflower. It’s nutritious and it’s efficient to grow and there is a surplus. And it’s white.

(JUSTICE turns sickle and hammer on FELICITY and PAPA.)

JUSTICE: I am repulsed by cauliflower.

FELICITY: It was given us.

JUSTICE: It looks like a brain.

(PAPA turns superman on FELICITY and JUSTICE alternately.)

PAPA: A growing boy eats meat. He hunts to become a man and experience what it is to consume.

JUSTICE: The cauliflower makes me want to shoot every single last person in this room.

(Beat.)

FELICITY: Then don’t eat it, J. The donut had all your necessaries.

(JUSTICE lowers sickle and hammer. PAPA lowers superman.)

PAPA: You cannot cut the rebellion out of the adolescent, but you can cut the puberty out of the revolution.

(Discomfort.)

JUSTICE: There must be something else we’re supposed to be doing.

PAPA: You haven’t found it then?

FELICITY: Can’t we make our inquiries non-negative?

PAPA: I found this contraband you’ll enjoy playing with instead. When I was a boy –

JUSTICE: It’s a doll.

PAPA: It is a superman. He is beyond good. He is his own master. If you find It, we could trade.

(JUSTICE takes superman. Perhaps he pulls off its head.)

JUSTICE: There are no supermen. I am a last man.

(JUSTICE goes back “in”.)

FELICITY: You’re not last, J. Don’t listen to those voices. (//) You are a last man. So we’ll find it.

(Pause. Quickly.)

PAPA: They’re coming.

FELICITY: They’re not coming.

PAPA: They’re coming for us.

JUSTICE: (to self, from hiding) They will come for it.

FELICITY: They’re coming for nothing.

PAPA: They’re coming for him.

JUSTICE: (to self, from hiding) It will take time for them to come –

FELICITY: No one will come.

JUSTICE: (to self, from hiding) It always does.

PAPA: We need the protection before they come.

FELICITY: Stop it. Carrying on, a mature man. The last person to come here was fifteen years ago. He gave // I gave // We gave to not need.

PAPA: I fought to not need.

FELICITY: Is that different? To protect us, so we won’t be victims, No One Comes Here Anymore.

PAPA: I fought. We need nothing, not their absence, not their – (//) They’re coming and I can’t find the prophylactic.

FELICITY: You can’t find the deterrent.

PAPA: I can’t find the cocked and loaded euphemism. Bet Justice has it and isn’t telling us.

FELICITY: Justice doesn’t lie. Justice doesn’t violate the rights. / Justice doesn’t steal.

PAPA: I’ve made my mistakes. I need to give it to not see the disgust // shame // fear in their eyes.

FELICITY: He is going to give it. (Pauses.) Has he told them?

PAPA: Told them? They’re watching. They’ll knock on the door any minute. I know it. I don’t know where it is.

(An intimate interrogation follows.)

FELICITY: What are you afraid of?

PAPA: I’m not afraid of anything.

FELICITY: What are you afraid of?

PAPA: I’m afraid of losing you. I’m afraid of our property being stolen. I’m afraid of becoming a cog lost in efficient well-regulated production. I’m afraid of people who don’t look like me or act like me. I’m afraid of others. I’m afraid of those who are afraid of me. I’m afraid of being nobody. I’m afraid of going outside. I’m afraid of them.

(Pause.)

FELICITY: What are you afraid of?

PAPA: I’m afraid they will take our grandson because once upon a time I didn’t give it and today he found it.

FELICITY: Are you afraid of Justice?

PAPA: Whose justice?

FELICITY: The community’s, history’s, mine, Liberty’s.

PAPA: If I found it, I wouldn’t be afraid.

(Pause.)

FELICITY: What are you afraid of?

PAPA: I’m afraid of nothing.

FELICITY: Nothing?

PAPA: It is a … an object. A security blanket I buried when I was a child. I want it back.

FELICITY: What are you afraid of? (Long pause.) What are you afraid of?

JUSTICE: (from hiding) This is a well-structured and life-affirming inquiry mother, but I don’t think Papa wants to answer. He has the right to remain silent.

(A brief pounding on the door. PAPA and FELICITY unsure, scurry, hide.)

(A louder pounding on the door.)

(Pounding spreads, takes over the space.)

(THEY enters, wearing white, armed with a calla lily. The lily is not held like a firearm.)

THEY: Come out. We’re here for your protection. There are armed and dangerous elements in this room.

(PAPA and FELICITY fall in line behind THEY, join THEY, become THEY? Wearing white robes? Or?)

(JUSTICE emerges. Hands up.)

THEY: Stop. Don’t move until we determine the nature of the threat. Are you Justice?

(JUSTICE nods.)

THEY: Don’t move. Follow the rights, Justice. The rights were made to maximize the prosperity of the people. We are empowered by the people. Don’t move. There are people here who would be afraid to meet you in the dark. Who are afraid of you now. We protect the people. Don’t move. Do you have a tongue?

(JUSTICE nods.)

THEY: You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to not move. Rights have been given you. Now you give. Don’t move. Give them security.

(JUSTICE ambiguously extends the superman to THEY.)

THEY: A shot. (JUSTICE falls. No sound cue.) Thud. (stomps on mayo packet, squirting mayo) He dies.

(FELICITY tries to run to JUSTICE.)

FELICITY: Justice –

THEY: (to audience) Stay where you are. Don’t move.

(FELICITY stopped. THEY lays calla lily on JUSTICE’s body. THEY gives FELICITY another head of cauliflower. She raises cauliflower, points it at her head again.)

PAPA: Don’t baby. We gave long ago. This is history. (Breaks off piece of cauliflower, feeds it to her.) This is nothing but collective memory.

(THEY exits. PAPA and FELICITY eat cauliflower. Lunch.)

(//. Eating stops. JUSTICE alive. No acknowledgment that he was dead.)

(JUSTICE holds calla lily to ear like conch shell. Gunshots. All hear them.)

(He sets it down. Uncomfortable silence.)

(PAPA listens to lily. A chaos of gunshots. Confusion, fear. He sets it down. Silence.)

(FELICITY listens to lily. Gunshots, but she imposes a beat. Gunshots become orderly, matching her rhythm. THEY laugh. Perhaps a dance to the beat of the gunfire. THEY laugh. She sets down the lily. The shots cease. THEY laugh. Then calm.)

PAPA: It is all in the past.

FELICITY: We are safe.

(A quiet knock on the door.)

(Another knocking, a little louder.)

(Knocking, loud, determined, but realistic unlike previous knocking. PAPA takes the cauliflower, aims with it.)

PAPA: Come in. (Nothing. Waiting. Knocking.) Come in.

(Nothing. Waiting. Annoyance. Knocking.)

(JUSTICE has a realization. He “exits” or breaks spatial conventions to cross to door. He stands in doorway. PAPA and FELICITY do not react to his shift.)

PAPA: Come in.

(Knocking stops. JUSTICE enters. PAPA tries to shoot, but it is cauliflower. JUSTICE does not cower or flinch.)

PAPA: You find it?

JUSTICE: No.

PAPA: Then what’re you doing here?

JUSTICE: I know.

FELICITY: How was education?

JUSTICE: Good.

FELICITY: What did you learn today?

JUSTICE: Stuff.

FELICITY: Are they coming?

JUSTICE: Yes.

PAPA: Did you give?

JUSTICE: Maybe.

PAPA: Did you learn how to protect yourself?

JUSTICE: I don’t recall.

PAPA: Aren’t you hiding something that happened at school?

JUSTICE: I don’t know.

FELICITY: If you give us a real answer you can go to your room and plug in and not talk to us.

JUSTICE: I made this presentation at school today, Mom: (Reading his lab report) “Introduction: Today we learned about projectile motion. Projectiles in motion follow the path of an upside down parabola, or an arc. (Throws football or basketball, or ball is thrown, or PAPA and FELICITY assist with visual aids) Hypothesis: Bullets exhibit projectile motion. But they are moving very very fast, so the arc is very long. Unless the bullet doesn’t hit anything you do not see the long arc. It looks like a straight line. Results: In our small group experiments, bullets more often than not hit something. Their motion in real life does not resemble an arc or a straight line but a short line segment terminated in a splatter. (Egg thrown hard, splatters against the wall) Conclusion: Working in groups causes social anxiety. I am thankful we no longer have It. I would have resolved our differences permanently. Thank you for listening like zombies. You are all zombies. I’m going to go shoot zombies in the head.”

(JUSTICE goes into hiding.)

PAPA: No Bill of Rights or Will to Power? No means of production or social security?

FELICITY: No It? They’re going to arrest you! What did they feed you for lunch?

(//. A bite of cauliflower?)

FELICITY: I want to be happy. / How about a pill and a drink and a cop drama // war drama // zombie drama? It’s free choice night. (sung) Happiness is a warm, yes it is, Mama …

PAPA: I am hungry. Finding it would coagulate // create // preserve my happiness. I choose we find it. They expect us to find it. If we don’t, we are … we are … we are …

(THEY search. Zombie-like. Their search dictated by music and lights. Puppet-like. FELICITY breaks away from control and finds a box, perhaps the same box as before, if objects were found in a box before. She opens it. Nothing. There is nothing in the box. Silence.)

FELICITY: There is nothing. The houses are burned to the ground, the church torn down, the village leveled, the rubble buried. The 174 men of the village are shot. The 203 woman are … relocated. The 300 children are transferred elsewhere for education in the victor’s reason. The terrain is leveled with dynamite and the village pond filled, creating a flatness, creating a nothing. The river is diverted; no water flows here. The cemetery is emptied of bodies; there are no dead here. An emptiness is created. This place, this life, has never existed. There is nothing.

(Silence.)

FELICITY: (re: audience) Were they afraid? Did they fight back?

PAPA: Evolution is far more important than living.

(//.)

PAPA: You say, It’s free choice night, and I, overlapping, say, I choose we –

(A gunshot. JUSTICE’s body falls in hiding.)

FELICITY: Oh god oh god oh god

PAPA: He found it.

(THEY drag JUSTICE’s body out. FELICITY cries over him.)

PAPA: Didn’t get the chance to teach him to never point it at yourself or another person or anything you don’t want to die.

(JUSTICE pops up, throws a handful of poppers [bang snaps] on the ground, Pop-Pop-Pop.)

JUSTICE: Ha!

FELICITY: You –

PAPA: It’s a miracle!

JUSTICE: I know.

PAPA: // It’s safe.

JUSTICE: I know.

PAPA: // It’s another month accident free.

JUSTICE: I know.

FELICITY: You son of a bitch. You didn’t use it right.

(JUSTICE throws down another handful of poppers and returns to hiding.)

FELICITY: He didn’t find it. Should give him instead.

PAPA: Justice is not a sacrifice –

FELICITY: Justice is a lamb –

PAPA: He is a young man –

FELICITY: He is alienating himself –

PAPA: He is the last man –

FELICITY: Lately he’s been a tool. (Pause.) He’s an adolescent. He needs to give it or they’ll cull him.

PAPA: Don’t adolescents have a right to be sullen and rebellious?

FELICITY: The propaganda // advertising // behavioral education is still flawed. Me me me – selfish. No thought of others.

PAPA: Were you not the same?

FELICITY: OMG. Can you not speak correctly? Cannot they make it stop? Will they not shoot me?

PAPA: Our community cannot afford the luxury. // Felicity, we are all cherished.

FELICITY: You’ve always been a tyrant.

PAPA: I’ve been a rule-setting, curfew-establishing, truth-expecting, chore-requiring, freedom-granting-based-on-performance, scared parent.

(Beat.)

PAPA: How did you survive and mature beyond puberty?

(Pause.)

FELICITY: He is the reason I am alive.

PAPA: Then the question is simple. Where is it?

(Ceremony: a rite of passage or coming of age. JUSTICE appears, bearing a pillow. On the pillow It rests, hidden under a cloth. THEY appears as the officiate.)

(Processional. JUSTICE proceeds to THEY.)

THEY: For the protection of your community, do you give? For peace of mind, do you give? For yourself, do you give?

JUSTICE: I do.

(JUSTICE places the pillow in THEY’s hands. THEY pulls off the cloth revealing … cauliflower. Pause.)

(THEY gives pillow to FELICITY and exits. PAPA advances on JUSTICE. FELICITY discards pillow and protects JUSTICE with the cauliflower. JUSTICE escapes or exits or hides.)

PAPA: It’s his turn. They’re gonna take –

FELICITY: (stopping PAPA) Don’t move. (calling) Justice. Talk to me.

PAPA: They’re gonna take our self-defense.

(FELICITY lovingly lays cauliflower back on the pillow.)

FELICITY: Papa, we can give it and carry ourselves openly and never know fear again. (She searches for JUSTICE through the following.) Justice!

PAPA: Sacrifice sacrifice sacrifice. We will always know fear, Felicity. I want it.

FELICITY: J. I want to push reset.

PAPA: I want it because you never know what’ll step out of the shadows, because we need protecting and they are not here … and because I love you.

FELICITY: (to PAPA) I want everyone to be happy and productive and to have fun. (calling to JUSTICE) I want to be the sacrifice.

PAPA: I want it because you can’t be happy and productive and have fun if you’re dead.

FELICITY: I want to give again.

PAPA: I want it outside, under they sky, in the brisk open air, where we see our breath condense into cloud. I want it when we see smoke from distant fires. I want it when the wild beasts near and fall bites and one’s aim is black and white: survive. I want the silence … the silence broken by a shout … and the silence returned.

(Beat.)

PAPA: I want to not be theirs.

(FELICITY hugs her father.)

FELICITY: I’m sorry this can’t be how it ends, Dad. Remember the good of the community. Reset.

(//. FELICITY and PAPA separate.)

PAPA: They are coming. We must give.

FELICITY: Justice! Don’t make what I’ve done for you pointless. Give it so they don’t take you. Where is it?

(THEY search. Desperate.)

(PAPA finds another head of cauliflower. All turn to audience in fear.)

PAPA: They are here.

FELICITY: Don’t try and be superman, PAPA. Give them whatever they want.

(PAPA offers cauliflower to audience. Lays it down. A single shot. A single balloon pops. He is shot; he dies.)

(//. PAPA rises, picks up cauliflower.)

FELICITY: Don’t try and be superman, Liberty. Tell them whatever they want.

PAPA: (to audience, from scared to angry) Please don’t, I don’t want to have to shoot, this is my home, please don’t, we mean you no harm, just let us be, please don’t come inside, I’ll have no other choice, I’m a man. Don’t. How do you know my name? This is my family, leave us alone, NO, STAY BACK!

(He throws cauliflower. An excessive, shocking quantity of balloons pop. All three okay, ridiculously okay, as if in a movie. A “How did they miss?” moment.)

(FELICITY retrieves a box containing a dead JUSTICE.)

FELICITY: We gave.

(She pushes it across the stage. She cannot look at PAPA.)

PAPA: Felicity … Justice … Reset.

(//.)

PAPA: They are coming. We must give.

FELICITY: Justice! Where are you?

(THEY search. The same search, but more.)

(THEY find JUSTICE. He cowers, afraid of them. He clutches a gun case.)

FELICITY: Justice, it’s okay.

PAPA: Don’t fear, we can fight them. Give it here, son.

FELICITY: Come here, honey. Give me a hug.

PAPA: Don’t fear, there’s no one to fight. It’s time to go outside and hunt squirrels. You need dinner.

FELICITY: Let’s think about what’s best in the end for everybody.

(Beat.)

FELICITY: Don’t be afraid, J. Just give.

(Pause. THEY joins the audience.)

JUSTICE: “My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. We will become part of each other. / We will –”

FELICITY: Watch your mouth, Justice. Get control of yourself or you’re grounded. // J, I love you.

(JUSTICE opens case. In it is a sponge gun, soaking in water. He picks up the gun. Silence.)

JUSTICE: “Am I justified in defending myself from my own mother? And why not if I find it useful?”

FELICITY: But look at this flower … (picks up cauliflower) It is about to bloom.

JUSTICE: Cauliflower is not a flower.

PAPA: Yes it is. Eat it. You’re hungry.

(JUSTICE smashes cauliflower.)

JUSTICE: Bang.

FELICITY: (flat) Justice. What is or is not a flower is relative.

PAPA: “Man is descended from monkeys, therefore let us love one another.”

JUSTICE: Flowers have life. Monkeys have liberty. Man has the pursuit of happiness.

FELICITY: (without intention) Stop. We are compromises, not instruments.

PAPA: What kind of man are you? One of them?

(As JUSTICE squeezes gun over PAPA, it drips on him: )

JUSTICE: Ka-pow.

(PAPA falls dead. JUSTICE dips gun in water.)

FELICITY: “Man is responsible for everything alive, for everything that, born of suffering is condemned to suffer from life.”

JUSTICE: I will give.

FELICITY: Give me.

(Pause.)

JUSTICE: I am guilty. I am free.

(He raises gun above himself.)

FELICITY: (flat) Justice.

(As he squeezes gun, water drips on him. )

JUSTICE: Blam-o.

(JUSTICE drops dead.)

FELICITY: Justice. I’ve given all for you. I am … empty-handed. I am afraid. (Pause. Re: audience) They are here. Reset.

(//.)

(PAPA and JUSTICE rise. The three stand together. Face audience. Defiance. Fear. Protection.)

(End of play.)