redefining spirituality and opening to non-limitation

Archive for October, 2011

NOCTURNE, a play in two acts. c.2008

Characters:
       BENJAMIN ROBERTS, journalist; mid 30’s.
       KATIE DONAHUE, history professor; mid 30’s.
       RED DANIELS, mercenary living in exile; late 40’s.
       ROY ABRAHAMS, talent agent; late 50’s.
       ANNA CHRISTIENSEN ROBERTS, concert pianist; late 50’s.
       EDDIE ROBERTS, photojournalist; late 50’s.

Time:  The events in “Nocturne” are told in flashback and take place in three main time frames during the year of 1989: Beginning in January 18 of the new year as Benjamin attends his mother’s piano concert at the Arcadian Concert Hall; September 12 through September 15 of 1989 as Benjamin prepares for his interview with Red Daniels; and September 17, 1989, as Benjamin interviews Red Daniels in Africa.

Benjamin’s memories of his father are recalled from various moments in the past, from 1970 to 1988.

Place: The Arcadian Concert Hall, Eastern Europe.        
Benjamin’s apartment, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.        
Red Daniels’ compound, Umballa, Central Africa. A cemetery near Washington, D.C.  A hotel room in East Germany. A forest in East Germany.               

ACT I.
Southern Africa. September, 1989.
A single light within darkness comes up on an exhausted Benjamin, dressed for hot weather.
The faint music of a concert piano is heard playing the Chopin “Nocturne no.19 in E”.
BENJAMIN
I can hear the muffled coughing, the seats creaking, programs rustling, hushed conversations. I can see the standing ovations. The bouquets of roses tossed onto the stage. I watch you come onto the stage, into that light, trying to hide your nervousness, even after all those years, and then that applause comes.
A separate light comes up and ANNA enters, dressed in an evening gown. She enters a light and addresses the ‘audience.’
ANNA
Mr. Premier and your family, ladies and gentlemen. Friends. It’s good to be back in the Arcadian. If there has been any direction to my life, any path, then returning here tonight has brought it full circle. It’s good to be home.
She bows slightly and walks to a light coming up an a grand piano. She sits.
BENJAMIN
I can see you sitting at the piano in that pool of light and you say that prayer you always say to yourself before you play and you pause for that one moment and then you touch your fingers to those keys.
The music increases in volume. The music stops.
BENJAMIN (cont’d)
But then it happens, the roar that isn’t applause, the white light that isn’t stage light.
Anna stands and exits as KATIE steps into a light.
KATIE
Do you believe in evil?
ROY enters another light, addressing Benjamin.
ROY
It’s just an interview, Ben. Do you hear me?
DANIELS enters a light, also addressing Benjamin.
DANIELS
You were scared, Ben. We were all scared.
Anna re-enters, stepping into a light, speaking to Benjamin.
ANNA
Like the soul, it won’t be lied to.
KATIE
There are threads out there and they do connect.
ROY
He’s going to put all the pieces together.
ANNA
To touch one person is to touch the world.
DANIELS
You can measure yourself, against man, against nature, against yourself. Against God.
Lights fade out on everyone but Benjamin. EDDIE enters a light.
EDDIE
Cover your bases, son. Take that picture from every angle. Start wide and focus in, and if what you’ve got in front of you isn’t true, shoot it again. Start over from the beginning and get it right. You may never get another chance.
Light fades out on Eddie.
A short burst of sporadic gunfire is heard in the distance. Silence returns.
Lights fades out on Benjamin.
Georgetown. One week earlier. September. 1989.
Lights come up on Benjamin’s elegant apartment, Katie entering, putting her keys in her purse. She drops a briefcase on a table and begins sorting through a stack of mail.
KATIE
Ben?
BENJAMIN
(from Offstage)
You’re home.
KATIE
The university didn’t call for me, did they? I told Erma not to call me here; this is not my home, Erma, I have a home, a very nice home. It has a telephone. It even has an answering machine.
Benjamin enters.
BENJAMIN
No calls.
KATIE
She calls here just trying to catch me, the horny old sow, hopefully mid-coitus, so she can wink at me in the morning and say things like: “My, don’t we look cheery this morning,’ and ‘Aren’t we full of color today?” The correct term, dear Erma, would be well-laid. I look well-laid, thank you.
(beat)
You’re back.
BENJAMIN
Last night. Late. You didn’t stay here.
KATIE
I have a home. It has a bed. You didn’t call.
BENJAMIN
Sorry. I just got involved. You could have called me.
KATIE
Nope. That’s man’s job. But I’m currently open to compromise.
She goes to him and they kiss.
BENJAMIN
Roy’s coming by.
KATIE
I missed you. All day in class I kept remembering the hotel room in Richmond.
BENJAMIN
How come I didn’t have teachers like you back when I was in college?
KATIE
The kind that sleep over?
BENJAMIN
The kind that teach and do.
KATIE
You’d have never graduated. I promised myself this wouldn’t happen.
BENJAMIN
Us?
KATIE
Us. This. Everything.
(beat)
How was New York?
BENJAMIN
Same.
KATIE
And the movie?
BENJAMIN
They’re going to buy the article.
KATIE
Congratulations!
BENJAMIN
Only they want Melissa McBride to play Lucinda, Noriega’s “mysterious voodoo torturer.”
KATIE
The extremely Anglo-Saxon Melissa McBride? But the real Lucinda was Haitian?
BENJAMIN
They don’t seem to think it’ll be a problem. And they’ll pay me a lot of money.
KATIE
Then screw whether she’s Haitian. And the lawyers?
BENJAMIN
Short of giving me a deadline, they made it clear that they need mother’s papers by the dedication.
KATIE
Day after tomorrow? Ben, I think that qualifies as a deadline. You know I’m perfectly willing to help.
BENJAMIN
I’ll get them together. And then the publishers keep calling about Dad’s memoirs, which they wanted a week ago, as if they can’t just come down here themselves and get them;
(pointing down a hallway)
Christ, they’re all boxed-up back there; just come and get them. Mom’s lawyers, Dad’s publishers, the damn library wing dedication where I have to think up something solemn and effective and sentimental — yet not too maudlin — to say on my beloved parent’s behalf. When exactly did I become the curator of the Robert’s Memorial Museum?
(beat)
So, Roy flew up and we got drunk.
KATIE
And the Big Secret you two’ve been sneaking around about all week?
BENJAMIN
I didn’t want to say anything because I know how you get.
KATIE
“How I get”?
BENJAMIN
You’re not going to like this one.
KATIE
I thought I handled Lucinda rather well.
BENJAMIN
It’s Red Daniels. It probably won’t happen; I’m almost sure it won’t.
KATIE
And how on earth do you know an ape like Red Daniels?
BENJAMIN
I knew him. I mean, I’d met him. When I’d just gotten out of high school. I started as a stringer for Dad’s paper; we’re talking ’71. I went over with Dad, to Vietnam, to cover Daniels’ court martial. I was just this stupid, nobody out of high school, but, we got along, I mean we got to talk, I got to interview him myself once. I even snuck in a bottle of scotch to him — in the stockade. Then he escaped and turned up in Africa as Campu’s right hand man. Roy got hold of him through some go-betweens. Like I said, I’m sure it won’t even happen.
KATIE
Hollywood should go crazy.
BENJAMIN
I am a journalist; it’s what I do.
KATIE
I know.
BENJAMIN
And you’re angry.
KATIE
No. Really, I’m not. It is what you do. I just get carried away sometimes. Comes from lecturing to blank-faced students all day long.
BENJAMIN
I’ve interviewed murderers, kooks and crackpots; no one’s ever bitten me before.
KATIE
Long as everyone gets their fifteen minutes.
BENJAMIN
If it were to go through, it could put me on top. No more hustling for stories. Or I can just stay home and write that novel every journalist is supposed to be working on.
KATIE
I just want you to be careful.
Katie goes to him.
KATIE (cont’d)
When did you say Roy’d be here?
She begins unbuttoning her blouse.
BENJAMIN
Soon?
KATIE
He has keys, right? We’ll be quiet.
And she disappears down the hall.
BENJAMIN
Not too quiet; I need all the encouragement I can get.
And he starts after her. Lights fade out.
Southern Africa. September, 1989.
Lights up on Red Daniels’ compound in Africa. Blazing sunlight pours through windows illuminating an attractively furnished home decorated in native artwork.
Daniels is a physically intimidating man. He is dressed comfortably and fashionably for the weather. He glances about like an anxious host. Benjamin is also dressed for the heat, a leather satchel slung over his shoulder. Daniels goes to Benjamin with his hand extended.
DANIELS
Ben! Long time.
They shake hands.
BENJAMIN
Mr. Daniels.
DANIELS
Call me Red or Roger. Red’ll probably look better in print; you know: “Bloody ‘Red’ Daniels”, something like that.
Daniels walks to a nearby bar.
DANIELS (cont’d)
Sit. Sit.
Benjamin drops his satchel on a chair. Daniels pours water from a pitcher into a glass and hands it to Benjamin. Automatic rifle fire is heard in the distance, then stopping.
BENJAMIN
Fighting had broken out near the southern border.
DANIELS
Hey, welcome to Africa: if it’s Thursday, it must be a civil war.
BENJAMIN
Are people leaving?
DANIELS
Nervous?
BENJAMIN
Should I be?
DANIELS
Hellova long time, Ben. My God. ‘Nam. ’71 or ‘2? Jesus. You, just a kid.
Daniels gestures widely around him.
DANIELS (cont’d)
What do you think? Not bad, eh? Pretty comfortable I’d say, for an old s.o.b. like me. Sit, sit. Get comfortable. You need more water? That ride’s a bitch.
Benjamin sits, Daniels sitting in a chair opposite.
BENJAMIN
I was surprised to actually hear from you.
DANIELS
You sent a pretty interesting letter. And what’s his name? That agent of yours? Roy? He’s good; kept on my agent’s ass over in London.
BENJAMIN
What exactly are you doing with an agent?
DANIELS
I been doing a little writing myself, some movie ideas based on my exploits; they’re even thinking up this comic book based on me; super hero shit.
BENJAMIN
Then why agree? Write your own story.
DANIELS
Agent figures a little legitimacy will help things, you know, let you jump all over my ass, get the facts straight from an unbiased source. I got nothing to apologize for — make sure you get that in the interview. And then, of course, there’s the money.
(beat)
You look about the same.
BENJAMIN
You look prosperous.
DANIELS
What were you expecting? Jungle fatigues? Pictures of “Playboy” pin-ups on the walls? Beer cans in the corner?
BENJAMIN
Something like that.
DANIELS
Ben, image is everything; it’s almost 1990, for crissakes. Get with the picture. How about a drink?
Daniels goes to the bar, holding up a new bottle of scotch.
DANIELS (cont’d)
Scotch? The smuggled-in variety, if I remember correctly?
Daniels begins making the drinks.
DANIELS (cont’d)
Did you have any trouble at the compound gate?
BENJAMIN
They wouldn’t let my driver and guard into the compound.
DANIELS
Not exactly Georgetown during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Did the guards ask you any questions?
BENJAMIN
No.
DANIELS
I told them you were one of my lawyers, easier that way.
Daniels hands one drink to Benjamin then sits. He lifts his glass.
DANIELS (cont’d)
To the good old days!
BENJAMIN
To the truth.
DANIELS
The truth, a very rare and expensive commodity. So Ben’s in the big time now. I keep up on the larger issues of the world; recognized your name. Read you wrote some movies too?
Benjamin picks up his satchel and opens it, taking out notepads, pens, cassettes and a tape recorder.
BENJAMIN
I just sold some ideas.
DANIELS
Sleeping with starlets, Ben? While you impress them with your journalistic ‘credentials’? You son-ofa-bitch. We’re a pair, Ben. A long way from Vietnam. You were a rosy-cheeked babe in the woods and scared shitless.
BENJAMIN
And you were my guide on my brief journey into the heart of darkness.
DANIELS
I was your very own personal Marlon Brando.
Benjamin moves to the edge of his chair, placing the recorder on a nearby table.
BENJAMIN
Do you want to do the interview here?
DANIELS
Sure.
BENJAMIN
We should get started; we don’t have that much time.
DANIELS
Let’s just make sure we got the ground rules straight: I get a copy of everything, notes included. I okay everything beyond the initial magazine article. You tell me first about any other offers, I don’t trust my lawyers. And all checks have got to clear.
BENJAMIN
It’s all in the contract.
DANIELS
Then shoot.
Benjamin tests the recorder:
BENJAMIN
September seventeenth, nineteen-eighty-nine. Interview with Mr. Roger “Red” Daniels.
Benjamin plays the recording back and re-sets the tape. He takes up his notepad and a pen; he sits back in the chair glancing at his questions.
DANIELS
So they let you in through Algeria? I was wondering who’d be your ‘escort.’
BENJAMIN
I was surprised to find security around you so lax. Do you feel safe here?
DANIELS
One place is as safe as the next, but then everybody’s got enemies.
BENJAMIN
Is that why you’re in hiding?
DANIELS
Who says I’m in hiding?
BENJAMIN
Aren’t you? You can’t go back to the States; there’s requests for your extradition in several countries. And rumor out in the world is that General Campu —
DANIELS
President. President Campu.
BENJAMIN
The rumor is that he may be making a bid for some kind of legitimacy. He sent that letter to the U.N. and he’s had two of his more notorious lieutenants disappeared; that is the right word, isn’t it?
DANIELS
I’m happy here in Africa. I have no intention of leaving. Campu regularly cleans house; that’s not news. I wouldn’t believe every rumor you hear. And “disappeared” is as good a word as any. I’m pretty good at this. You think I could get a gig with Ted Koppel?
BENJAMIN
Then if you’re not in hiding, let’s say you’re an extremely difficult man to locate.
DANIELS
Let’s say that.
BENJAMIN
Are you free to move around?
DANIELS
Yes. I do try and stay away from the windows, but then I recommend that in New York and L.A.
BENJAMIN
You stay here with the consent of the government?
DANIELS
I live here. This is my home. I love it here. Great weather. Nice people. Nobody bothers me. Let me tell you, Ben, you’d like it here too. You can breathe out here.
BENJAMIN
What about your other home?
DANIELS
In Argentina or Paraguay?
BENJAMIN
Chicago.
DANIELS
This is background, right? Color? Hell. It was a nice enough place to grow up. Then. Gone down hill now.
BENJAMIN
Tell me something about it.
DANIELS
So the psychologists can figure out what makes a guy like me tick?
BENJAMIN
“A guy like you?”
DANIELS
The Bogeyman.
BENJAMIN
That’s how you think of yourself?
DANIELS
Hey, I’m an action kind a guy, you know: you fuck me up, I fuck you up. Tough guys. Nice enough neighborhood. Not much money around. Lots of wiseguys. Girls named Angela.
Benjamin makes a note of the name.
DANIELS (cont’d)
Souped-up cars, drinking beer, talking sports. Hustling. Everybody was always hustling: guys for jobs, guys for chicks, chicks for husbands. Mothers and Priests hustling for God. Old folks hustling for a few more days before they kick.
BENJAMIN
Would you like to go back?
DANIELS
Maybe. Tough place. Might get arrested.
BENJAMIN
Meaning the indictment against you in New York?
DANIELS
I haven’t read it.
Benjamin takes up a photocopy and reads:
BENJAMIN
Charges you with smuggling semi-automatic weapons and ammunitions out of the country and into the African Republic of Umballa. It also charges that illegally shipped extremely lethal poisons to Campu’s regime.
DANIELS
Chemicals and pesticides and compounds, Ben. Top corporations ship the same things. No one can control how they’re used.
BENJAMIN
What about Tetrazine-90, a “pesticide” used during the Vietnam war which induces instant paralysis, weakens capillary walls and causes massive internal bleeding.
DANIELS
Sounds like a hellova bug spray to me.
BENJAMIN
A witness says he saw you test it on a young fisherman in Brazil. He says you and three others administered it by force and stood by watching as it took effect.
DANIELS
A “witness.” Look, Ben. Let me give you a little tip on human nature. There are those that do and those that get done to — if you know what I mean; and if you’ve been done to, you try very hard to bring down those that do — get my meaning? Now I may be wrong about this, but I doubt it. Human nature, Ben. I could tell you stories.
Lights fade out.
Lights come up on Eddie. A separate light comes up on Benjamin.
EDDIE
So, Benj, you think maybe you’d like to be a journalist? Well, that certainly sounds good to these ears. You always hope there’ll be someone to “pass the torch” onto. It’s a good job; work you can be proud of. But nobody’s kidding anybody if you think it’s easy. Oh hell, it’s not the photographing that’s hard, any plebe can learn that; the hard part is tack: which angle to choose so the wind catches that sail just right. Even then, maybe the hardest thing is just getting home from it all. What I mean is, you see, when you’re out there on the front line, living by your wits, your instincts take over and it’s smooth sailing. But when you get home, with those pictures spread out there in front of you, there comes that moment when you realize it’s over, and all that’s left are those two dimensional images. It’s over and done and can’t be changed, not that you’d want to, of course. It’s kind of like memory, Benj; once it’s been recorded it becomes a part of history, and can’t be wished away.
Light fades out on Eddie and Benjamin.
East Germany. January, 1989.
Lights come up the stage area of the Arcadian concert hall in East Berlin, in mid-rehearsal. A grand piano sets Center. Anna, dressed in rehearsal clothes enters from Offstage, sheet music in hand and calling commandingly into the audience area:
ANNA
Mr. Dubrovsky! You will have something done about those lights, won’t you? And for the last time, that program note must be taken out. I will not have my music associated with his demagoguery! Thank you, Mr. Dubrovsky!
She shields her eyes against the stagelight as she looks out into the audience.
ANNA (cont’d)
Who is that out there?
Benjamin enters into the light from the audience.
BENJAMIN
It’s me. I didn’t mean to interrupt.
ANNA
What are you doing here?
BENJAMIN
I wanted to surprise you.
ANNA
I’m right in the middle of rehearsal. I thought I’d made it clear we’d meet in London?
BENJAMIN
I’m sorry. I know. But I just wanted to be here for the concert.
ANNA
You should have called me — I’m not prepared — I wasn’t expecting —
BENJAMIN
I already got my own hotel room.
Anna steps forward calling out into the auditorium.
ANNA
We will break for half an hour! Thank you!
BENJAMIN
I didn’t mean to come at a bad time.
ANNA
I had everything arranged. The last concert in London and then the week together in Normandy.
BENJAMIN
I can still meet you in London.
ANNA
Yes, of course you can, but that’s hardly the point.
BENJAMIN
I’m leaving. I just wanted to say —
ANNA
Benjamin.
Anna takes a deep breath, briefly closes her eyes and calms down.
BENJAMIN
Have you taken your deep breath and closed your eyes?
ANNA
Yes. It’s all right now. I’m sorry, Benjamin.
BENJAMIN
No, I’m sorry. I should have known better.
ANNA
Then we’re both sorry. I’m happy you’re here.
She walks to the piano and sits on the bench placing the sheet music down.
ANNA (cont’d)
It’s just that I’m afraid it won’t be very pleasant for you. I’m really quite fragmented. You wouldn’t believe how they’ve let the hall run down. I’ve asked them to do something about the bloody drafts onstage, but before I can speak to the stagehands I have to speak to the Party thugs who act like they don’t understand English. So I speak to them in French, which really upsets them. I’d speak to them in Russian but I won’t give them the satisfaction!
BENJAMIN
Hello, Mother?
ANNA
Yes, yes. I know. I know.
BENJAMIN
So this is the Arcadian?
ANNA
La belle dame sans mercy. The beautiful lady without mercy; that’s how she’s known on the circuit. What hotel are you in?
BENJAMIN
The International.
ANNA
I’ll have them move you into mine. In Germany they said I’d put on weight. Do you think so?
BENJAMIN
No, Mother. You look wonderful. Will the Premier be here tonight?
ANNA
Yes. And his family. It’s too bad I can’t choose my fans. He’s not interested in music. That fat little man is only interested in public relations, the kind he thinks I can give him. But I’m not here to be his little circus act.
BENJAMIN
Mother, I don’t want you getting into trouble like you did in South Africa.
ANNA
Is that why you’re here? To keep an eye on me?
BENJAMIN
The government is making an effort to open up here — your even being allowed to play here again proves that.
Anna returns to the piano and opens her sheet music, going over it.
ANNA
Tell that to anyone who lived through the Prague Spring or Tiennamen Square.
She lifts the cover over the piano keys, running her hand over them.
BENJAMIN
I think I got a deal with “Rolling Stone” for a two-part article which would be really great.
ANNA
Yes?
BENJAMIN
This woman on Death Row in Texas and her custody battle, which may end up in the Supreme Court.
ANNA
I suppose I’m happy for you.
BENJAMIN
Thanks.
ANNA
You can do so much better.
BENJAMIN
I’m doing fine. I shouldn’t have brought it up.
ANNA
Let’s not fight.
BENJAMIN
We don’t fight.
ANNA
No, we don’t.
Benjamin looks up toward the ceiling and reads the inscription:
BENJAMIN
“Monumentum aerae prenneum”…
ANNA
“A monument more lasting than bronze.”
BENJAMIN
The hall?
ANNA
The music.
BENJAMIN
How does it feel to be back here?
“The triumphal return of Anna Christiensen to the concert hall which began her illustrious career.”
ANNA
No doubt from one of Roy’s purple press releases.
BENJAMIN
He sends his love.
ANNA
And red roses. Three dozen at last count.
BENJAMIN
He still can’t get away, but he’s going to try and get here for your last performance, Saturday.
ANNA
Is he all right?
BENJAMIN
Drinking a little more than usual.
ANNA
It’s been hard on him, losing Eddie.
If you could have seen them after the war, Roy and Eddie, dressed like something out of a Fred Astaire movie. They were two of the handsomest men in Europe. When they were on a role, they could light up whole cities. They could certainly light up this gray city.
BENJAMIN
I guess now he just lights up bars.
ANNA
Is that a joke?
BENJAMIN
No.
ANNA
He’s been a great friend to this family.
BENJAMIN
I’d better go.
ANNA
I am a little harried.
BENJAMIN
I can understand.
ANNA
I doubt that.
Benjamin starts off.
ANNA (cont’d)
Benjamin.
He stops.
ANNA (cont’d)
I grew up listening to concerts here; my mother and father and my sister, all of us together. I was little and this place seemed like magic to me, a magical place. I’m not sure why but I always felt safe here, protected. The thick stonework, I guess; the warmth, the radiators always gently hissing steam. It’s survived. War after war after war and the place was always rebuilt, usually before any other building in the city. The city needed this place. And when I was little, sitting out there and listening to the music, I knew nothing could go wrong; that the music was holding the dark, the nightmares far away. When I started playing, I dreamed of playing here. One day I did. Now I’m back again. If only my mother and father and sister and Eddie could be here. I do miss him. Hard-headed. But the most courageous man.
BENJAMIN
He said the same thing about you once.
ANNA
Then he confused arrogance with courage.
BENJAMIN
You’ve always stood up for your beliefs, refused to play, donated money from concerts. In South Africa, you backed down an entire government.
ANNA
Arrogance. Better arrogance than indifference, I suppose. You should try and do what you can with what you have. I’ve come full circle. Playing here again. Full circle. It seems balanced. Somehow appropriate. And I’ve always admired symmetry.
BENJAMIN
Symmetry?
ANNA
Symmetry. Balance. Harmony. Grace. I’m playing well now, maybe as well as I ever will. There’s a balance now. They call this hall the beautiful lady without mercy because you can’t simply play in it; you have to play to it. You have to fill it with everything you are as a musician and as an artist, as a person. You have to fill it with your music or it will drown you in your noise. Like the soul, it won’t be lied to.
Lights fade out, a single light remaining on Benjamin.
Georgetown. September, 1989.
Light comes up on Benjamin’s apartment. Roy enters with a newspaper under his arm which he tosses onto a chair. He appears a little disheveled.
ROY
Hey, Ben? Anybody home? I let myself in. Before you ask: no, I haven’t been to bed; yes, I’ve had a toddy, or two or three; and no, the cat didn’t drag me in, I ambled in on something resembling my own power.
Benjamin enters and picks up the paper, reading.
BENJAMIN
Morning.
ROY
I’ve got Ellen down at the office in case any calls come in. Time zones, you know.
BENJAMIN
You do know what time it is, in this time zone?
Roy checks his watch.
ROY
Five after eight.
BENJAMIN
In the morning.
ROY
No wonder I feel like flambe’d horseshit.
Roy goes to the bar, opening the refrigerator.
ROY (cont’d)
You got any olives, or those little pickles? I need my fiber.
He takes a bottle of Bloody Mary mix out and opens it, pouring it into a glass.
ROY (cont’d)
After I left here last night I went down to the Brass Ring, and guess who was there?
He drinks, cringing at the barren taste.
ROY (cont’d)
Our favorite studio executive, Malcolm, that Cockney s.o.b. Pulled me over, bought me a few drinks, told of few of his raunchy jokes, asked about your health and my health and then said he’d heard about the Red Daniels’ deal.
Roy drinks and cringes again.
ROY (cont’d)
If I was a drinking man, I’d say this red stuff needs some vodka.
BENJAMIN
What happened?
ROY
He wanted to know that the price of admission was — between friends. I told him a few of my raunchy jokes and told him to go to hell — between friends.
If our deviant little friend Malcolm’s interested, the other studios are interested, and if they’re interested, Abby at Doubleday will pay triple to publish first, on top of the “Newsweek” excerpt.
BENJAMIN
We’re set? The deal’s in place?
ROY
There’s a few things to work out yet, but it looks like the goose has laid its golden egg right in our palm. Contracts are in the pipeline. Daniels has got a lawyer in London, a good one. He’s no slouch, but neither am I. Daniels knows there’s interest, but we’ve got the right figures, and he remembers you. Said something about owing you a bottle of scotch.
BENJAMIN
I’ll have to get started on the research. The set-up. Where are we meeting? When? Who’ll set it up? The go-betweens?
ROY
His lawyer’s going to set everything up. We’ll go through Algeria. I’ll get this man I know there who’s with the U.N. agricultural mission; he’ll check on all of Daniels’ sources. I’ll take care of your guard and driver. The rest is up to you.
BENJAMIN
Why’d he say yes?
ROY
He needs us. The timing is perfect. He knows he’s got a public relations problem. Campu’s overtures to the U.N. had to have made Daniels very nervous about his future.
BENJAMIN
Sounds a little subtle for Daniels.
ROY
Then how about cash? The one force of nature Newton left out. And, he figures you’ll give him a fair hearing.
BENJAMIN
No. No, he figures I’ll screw-up and let him off the hook.
ROY
Then there’s the other question: Why are you doing it? Annie’s dead. You’ll just bring it all up again and it won’t change anything. It’s just an interview, Ben; you hear me? Maybe all I’m saying is that Daniels is not a nice guy; he’s not the quaint little ax murderer you’re used to interviewing, from behind prison bars, I might add. He’s the big time. He’s a big time bad guy. To quote Eddie: get that picture, sure, but bring it home. Eddie knew that. And, as Eddie found out, some pictures may not be worth it.
(beat)
You alone?
BENJAMIN
She had an early class.
ROY
Sorry for staying so long last night. I hope I didn’t interrupt…she’s terrific.
BENJAMIN
I like her.
ROY
“Like?”
BENJAMIN
It’s only been a few months.
ROY
Hell, sometimes a few hours is enough, not that I’d know, you understand. But you two look good together. She’s smart.
BENJAMIN
Everything’s fine just the way it is.
ROY
Same old Ben. Just like Eddie. But you never know, Annie roped him. Time passes, people change.
BENJAMIN
Do they?
ROY
God bless ’em.
BENJAMIN
Who needs the headache.
ROY
If you’ve found someone special, then my advice is to work at it.
BENJAMIN
Following your example?
ROY
Do as I say, not as I do, or don’t. I know it sounds hokey, Ben, but don’t put off love. Don’t put off happiness. You may not get a second chance.
BENJAMIN
Why not you, Roy? You’ve been around.
ROY
Hell, they’d never put up with me. ‘Sides, Eddie got the best one.
Roy finds himself looking in a mirror, he brushes some ashes from his jacket lapel.
ROY (cont’d)
I’m a mess.
BENJAMIN
Why don’t you use my shower and clean up?
ROY
Yeah, maybe I will.
BENJAMIN
You didn’t go home at all last night, did you?
ROY
Nah.
BENJAMIN
You’re going to kill yourself, you know that, don’t you?
ROY
Ben. Don’t start fucking-paying attention to me now. Let me get some coffee first, then the shower.
(beat)
Ben. There’s still time to back out of this.
Lights fade out.
Lights come up on Eddie with a copy of “Hustler” twisted-up in his hand. A separate light comes up on Benjamin facing to one side.
EDDIE
It’s crap, Ben! All of it! This skin magazine! Your writing! This whole situation! Full of crap! It’s not just your name and reputation here, it’s mine too! I pulled a lot of strings to get you that field assignment. You think every stringer out of high school gets to work on a story like Roger Daniels?! Do you?! Hell, I told them sure he’s young and he has no field experience, but he’s my boy and he’ll do the job. You made a liar out of your old man. But I’ve been called a liar before and I’ll come through it again. It’ll all be forgotten. But this!
Eddie throws the magazine away.
EDDIE (cont’d)
You sold yourself short, Ben. Sold yourself short and fast!
Lights fade out on Eddie.
BENJAMIN
Your father is quoted as calling you an animal. How do you respond to that?
Southern Africa. September, 1989.
Lights come up on Daniels’ compound, Benjamin entering the light.
DANIELS
My father’s a real comedian. Don’t take the guy too seriously. The whole ‘Marine Drill Sergeant’ routine of his; I assume he’s still pulling that con? Bullshit. It’s like those teeny-tiny dogs that have the biggest damn bark you ever heard. You can always tell a loser by the amount of whining.
BENJAMIN
Didn’t he put you in the hospital when you were twelve with two broken shoulders?
DANIELS
Christ. That was a football injury.
BENJAMIN
Being a military man, he must have been pretty upset by your court martial.
DANIELS
I was never officially court-martialled. So I didn’t grow up to be a jerk like him. I’m guilty.
BENJAMIN
Your mother —
DANIELS
Is dying.
BENJAMIN
Do you —
DANIELS
Just drop it.
BENJAMIN
But —
DANIELS
I said drop it! We agreed to an interview, not some bullshit analysis by you!
BENJAMIN
This is not bullshit. You’re going to have to give me something other than the public record or we don’t have an interview here, we don’t have anything marketable, do you understand? I won’t jerk you around, you don’t jerk me around.
DANIELS
Little Benny’s all grown up.
BENJAMIN
You call yourself a soldier, at least you used to call yourself that. You like the military life?
DANIELS
Teaches you to survive in the real world. And you get a great deal on stereo equipment.
BENJAMIN
Yet you were brought up on charges of murder.
DANIELS
You known as well as I do what your basic Illinois farmboy is capable of when it gets down to it. All it takes is time.
BENJAMIN
Is that what happened? Too much time in the jungle?
DANIELS
Like I told that court martial committee. I’ll be happy to face those charges the day they charge every soldier who killed an enemy soldier in that war.
BENJAMIN
They were the enemy?
DANIELS
Yes.
BENJAMIN
I believed you then.
DANIELS
The facts haven’t changed.
Benjamin walks to his shoulder bag and takes out a piece of paper, handing it to Daniels who takes it and reads.
BENJAMIN
Certain new information came out after your escape. The prisoners you captured were Viet Cong, right?
DANIELS
Yes.
BENJAMIN
And they were shot in the back?
DANIELS
They tried to escape.
BENJAMIN
You lost your watch, did you know that?
DANIELS
It was eighteen damned years ago.
BENJAMIN
And your lighter and your engraved pocket knife.
DANIELS
Gee, we were in the middle of a war zone; it happens, so what?
BENJAMIN
They were found in the pockets of the victims.
DANIELS
I dropped them, they picked them up.
BENJAMIN
While they were under capture?
DANIELS
What are you getting at?
BENJAMIN
That you gave them to them as gifts because they were friendlies and not Viet Cong.
DANIELS
Sorry.
BENJAMIN
And that you gave them gifts to entice them into your company and then you shot them and that would be the difference between an enemy action and murder.
DANIELS
That was very neat.
BENJAMIN
Wrong?
DANIELS
Next question.
BENJAMIN
Before they got around to actually court-martialling you, you were shipped to Fort Bragg.
DANIELS
Where I went AWOL.
BENJAMIN
How did you manage it?
DANIELS
Ran like hell!
BENJAMIN
And you managed to hook up with Campu?
DANIELS
He set me up in the construction business through some friends of his in Eastern Europe.
Benjamin jots down a note.
DANIELS (cont’d)
Under a different name, of course, as I was still “absent from the army without leave.” Ben. Campu’s got investments everywhere. You wouldn’t believe some of them! He put me in charge of rebuilding here. We put in a hellova road system and some schools.
BENJAMIN
I guess the semi-automatic weapons found in your cargo were part of your infrastructure rebuilding program?
DANIELS
There’s a revolution going; you’ve got to protect your workers.
BENJAMIN
Would you describe yourself as a businessman?
DANIELS
I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur.
BENJAMIN
You and Campu first met in Iran?
DANIELS
In seventy-seven. I was coming back from Hong Kong when I got word he was assembling a military force.
BENJAMIN
He knew you from the people in Eastern Europe?
DANIELS
Right. He gave me a call.
BENJAMIN
Were you an advisor or was your role more specific?
DANIELS
His men needed training. I’m proficient in all weapons. I have experience in all types of operations. They had the faith, I gave them the means.
BENJAMIN
Where did that first meeting with Campu take place?
DANIELS
In a single’s bar. He was drinking Brandy Alexanders. Loosen up, Ben! You’re too serious! How about another drink?
Daniels goes to the bar, making one for himself and one for Benjamin.
DANIELS (cont’d)
Ah, come on! We’re helping each other out here, right? Two businessmen having a power meeting. Quid pro quo, right? Hell, every time you ask a question, I can see you figuring out the opening shot of the movie, after the exclusive magazine article and book buy-out.
He takes Benjamin’s drink to him.
DANIELS (cont’d)
I read your interview with Carrie Louise in “Penthouse”. I love her tits! Did you get any of that?! Hell, I know; it’s the quiet ones you’ve got to look out for.
BENJAMIN
What are you in this for? Just the money?
DANIELS
I want to see Robert Redford play me in the movie of my life story.
BENJAMIN
Or are you testing the waters? See how things stand for you out in the world, just in case?
DANIELS
Just in case of what?
BENJAMIN
Just in case you should need another option if things were to go sour here.
DANIELS
God, I love it here. Ever been to Africa before? Oldest country on earth, they say. They say we came from out there, in those desert valleys. Beautiful country. The air and the land out there vibrates in the heat; you can hear it; the whole place pulled tight, like a bow string. And clean, bone clean. It works out there. Survival of the fittest. And a hellova system of justice: you lie, out comes your tongue; you steal, there goes the hand. Keeps the courts low. Does make for a rather weird-looking population though. You can measure yourself out there, against nature, against man, against yourself. Against God.
BENJAMIN
Do you believe in God?
DANIELS
The question is, does He believe in me?
BENJAMIN
The question is, do you believe in Campu?
DANIELS
Like I said, it works here. I didn’t see it before. Campu made it clear to me. He’s a great man.
BENJAMIN
In any other country he’d be locked away and the key melted.
DANIELS
Is that your objective journalistic opinion?
BENJAMIN
Your popping up suddenly; agreeing to this interview; one could get the impression that you’re trying to distance yourself from Campu.
DANIELS
The man’s a hero. There is not one thing I would not do for that man. Do you understand that? Can you understand that?
Has anything ever meant so much to you that you’d put your life on the line for it? Because until you can say that, nothing you ever do will ever have any meaning. You’re just going through the fucking motions of being alive.
BENJAMIN
And he paid you, of course?
DANIELS
Not as much as for this interview. Hardly seems fair, he go a whole country. What are you getting, Ben?
Lights fade to half-light, a separate half-light coming up on Benjamin.
A light comes up on Eddie dressed in a tuxedo from the late 1940’s, standing before a podium, a plaque in his hands.
EDDIE
Ladies and gentlemen. I find it very difficult to accept this award. Any photographer or filmmaker or journalist can find himself suddenly in that perfect moment of time when subject and object come together, or at that exact moment when a single, captured event speaks to all time. That is when history is made, when it is held, when it is framed, when it is understood. But these are not the moments the photographer or filmmaker or journalist creates. They are the gifts, if you will, of time itself. Or, if your prefer: luck. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I find it difficult to accept this award simply because I was lucky enough to at the right place at the right time. But, I accept it nonetheless because I did all the developing myself.
He smiles and waves to the ‘audience’ and exits the podium as the lights fade out, a separate half-light coming up and Eddie walking into it, his bow tie undone and his hair mussed. He’s drunk. He flops into a chair, staring at the plaque in his hand as lights come back up on Daniels’ compound.
DANIELS
It wasn’t all image. It wasn’t all public relations bullshit. I was there. I listened to him talk about his people, what he wanted for them. He called them his children.
BENJAMIN
His own people tend to view him as the barbarous leader of a bloody regime, not   as a benign father figure.
DANIELS
You see what you want to see.
BENJAMIN
What about the thousands of bodies found in the rivers and on the back roads?
DANIELS
He was a military leader. He had enemies. It was a war, there were casualties.
BENJAMIN
What about the priests and the sisters of the Catholic church?
DANIELS
Don’t think for a moment that a priest or a nun doesn’t know how to shoot a gun.
BENJAMIN
The question isn’t whether they knew how, but whether they did.
DANIELS
They incite people.
BENJAMIN
But he was their father.
DANIELS
Get to the point!
BENJAMIN
You can’t deny the killing of his own countrymen and not just rebels but people who stood by him at the beginning.
DANIELS
So?
BENJAMIN
So what’s to stop him from doing the same to you?
DANIELS
I gave him his damned country!
BENJAMIN
Have you seen each other lately?
DANIELS
No, he missed tea yesterday. He’s a busy man.
BENJAMIN
So are you.
DANIELS
Yeah!
BENJAMIN
So why don’t you leave your house here?
DANIELS
Who says I don’t!?
BENJAMIN
They say you never leave this place; all your food is sent in. Even women.
DANIELS
It’s none of your fucking business what I do!
BENJAMIN
What are you afraid of?
DANIELS
I’m not “afraid” of anybody!
Half-light comes up to full on Eddie.
EDDIE
Your old man isn’t afraid of nothin’, Benj!
BENJAMIN
Of course you’re not.
DANIELS
Damn straight!
EDDIE
Long as I got my camera, I’m Superman!
DANIELS
If Campu pulled anything, I’d kill him.
EDDIE
This here award says I ain’t afraid of no thing!
BENJAMIN
What if Campu thought you were up to something?
EDDIE
Stop staring at me like some damned-assed monkey!
DANIELS
We’re in this together; always have been.
EDDIE
I don’t need nobody; I am one lucky man.
BENJAMIN
Then you feel safe?
DANIELS/EDDIE
Yes I do.
DANIELS
(to Benjamin)
Do you?
Lights fade out on Daniels, Benjamin and Eddie.
Eat Germany. January, 1989.
A single light comes up on Anna seated on the piano bench.
ANNA
I remember exactly where I was, Benjamin, when I heard they were going to erect a wall to divide Germany. I remember because I had to laugh at how ironic it all was. I was acting as goodwill ambassador for the Red Cross, visiting China, and I would be touring the Great Wall the next day. Standing on the Wall, looking out over the countryside, I felt the wind blow past me. Birds flew overhead. Vines grew up and over the stonework. Tiny lizards scurried past. The idea that we can keep out the world. That we can fence-off our dark nightmares from our dreams. That we can somehow protect us from ourselves.
Lights fade out.
Georgetown. September, 1989.
Lights come up on Benjamin’s apartment. Katie is seated on the couch surrounded by exam papers she is grading. Anna’s piano music is playing on the stereo. Benjamin enters carrying a handful of research materials on Red Daniels.
KATIE
This student has just spent several dozen pages rationalizing French collaboration with the Nazis by saying that they were in fact working in the best interest of France by saving the country from total German domination. Have they become so removed from the horror that they just don’t believe it, or are they just bored? The worst they’ve probably had to go through in their lives is a crummy marriage and mommy getting the condo. Yesterday we talked about that old chestnut: what would you do if Hitler and the Mona Lisa were in a burning house? Based on their responses, I fear for humanity. And art.
(beat)
Let’s get out of here. Let’s go up the coast, find a bed and breakfast and lock the bedroom door.
BENJAMIN
I have exactly eight days to get this research down and the questions ready and that’s about seven days too soon. Magazine articles, outstanding lawsuits, court martial transcripts, the World Court hearings on terrorism.
KATIE
How nice to be wanted.
BENJAMIN
And then I’ve still got the library wing dedication tomorrow to deal with.
KATIE
Break time.
She goes to him.
BENJAMIN
You’re bad for my concentration.
KATIE
Good. Tell me, Benjamin, is sex all we have?
BENJAMIN
I’ve got that new Bose stereo system and you’ve got the new B.M.W.
She listens to the music.
KATIE
When I heard her perform at Wolf Trap five or six years ago, I remember thinking what an extraordinary woman she must be. The kind of woman I wanted to be. Not ordinary. Not average. But I became a teacher and we all know what they say about teachers. What was she like?
BENJAMIN
Strong. Passionate. Intelligent. Intimidating. Powerful. Frightening.
KATIE
Frightening?
BENJAMIN
Her up there on that stage, all those people listening to her, watching her, applauding her. I’d watch her and think: I don’t really know who that person is.
KATIE
But what about when she wasn’t performing? When you were on picnics, or just sitting at home?
BENJAMIN
Picnics? Eddie Roberts and Anna Christiensen Roberts didn’t sit at home. Presidents came over for diner. Broadway stars and Nobel Prize-winning writers stopped by for coffee.
KATIE
How horrible for you. Well, my mother left when I was fifteen, met some guy from the forest service who offered her freedom and wool shirts, and my dad still sends me something at Christmas; no return address. No Presidents came for tea.
BENJAMIN
Let’s fuck.
KATIE
I thought you were under siege?
BENJAMIN
I’m a professional.
KATIE
Tell me something about yourself.
BENJAMIN
Like what?
KATIE
Something you’ve never told anyone else.
BENJAMIN
I don’t know.
KATIE
I want to know something about what you think about.
BENJAMIN
Vulnerability, Professor? Is that tonight’s assignment?
KATIE
Our problem is that we’re both too smart for our own good. As my dear old dad was so fond of saying: “You’re all smarts but no faith.” Of course, he said that to me through the business side of a mesh screen in the county jail where he was in residence for mail fraud. He was something else, my dad, a free spirit: one rolling party of candy and jokes, bad impersonations and cheap gifts. What a very sad man he was. He didn’t think anyone cared. And he was wrong. It probably wouldn’t have made any difference if he had known. Probably wouldn’t have changed anything if I’d told him. Then again, maybe if we’d all tried a little harder instead of taking the easy ways out.
(beat)
Everywhere I turn around this place I’m looking at Red Daniels. Any day I expect to see “Big Red’s Breakfast Cereal, Breakfast Of Maniacs.” I can’t imagine why he hasn’t been on “Oprah” yet exchanging fashion tips for the psychopathic. Tell me, Benjamin, as a journalist, what it is I need to know about an infantile loser? Perhaps that he’s really a little like us? Why gosh, that’s not news.
BENJAMIN
Here we go.
KATIE
Do you believe in evil?
BENJAMIN
Are you serious?
KATIE
Do you?
BENJAMIN
I believe in people; you’re the history teacher, do you think it’s that easy: good and evil?
KATIE
There are threads out there and they do connect and you cut one and somehow, somewhere, sometime down the line the seam will split; maybe tomorrow, maybe in a generation, but sometime. Karma, baby. It all balances. It all makes sense eventually.
BENJAMIN
You want a black and white world, Katie. When my mother died, it wasn’t black and white; nothing simple, nothing logical. When my dad died there was no neatly explaining it, cosmically or otherwise.
KATIE
I am gradually coming to the conclusion that we make the world more subtle than it actually is.
BENJAMIN
When exactly did you start this deep self-examination of the world’s morality? Is there some new biblical cappuccino bar that just opened that I’m unaware of?!
KATIE
Actually, dear Benjamin, I’m really just tired of all the glossed-over, pre-packaged, Madison Avenue-hyped, shallow, hollow, soul-numbing shit.
BENJAMIN
Just what does any of this have to do with Red Daniels?
KATIE
It doesn’t have a thing to do with Red Daniels.
BENJAMIN
You don’t know anything about me and I highly suggest that you keep your sanctimonious opinions to yourself.
KATIE
Did it again. Debating good and evil. That’s a first. Usually I argue the more obscure points of social Darwinism, or the philosophy of economic brinksmanship, and not just to anyone; oh no, my little diatribes are reserved only for those I sleep with, have slept with, or don’t want to sleep with any more. Tests. Exams. Laying one’s own minefield.
BENJAMIN
What do you want me to say?
KATIE
Nothing. No. No. What I really want is for this fourth month to be over and I would like a fifth for once, and a sixth, and a year or two maybe. Well now. I have successfully navigated from the pompous to the pathetic.
BENJAMIN
Stop it.
KATIE
You think I’m some sort of neurotic Joan of Arc and I don’t know what your favorite dessert is or your favorite color. Now just how fucking stupid is that? And I don’t know if we even love each other or if that even matters anymore.
BENJAMIN
Hitler and the Mona Lisa in a burning house? Let the house burn. Save yourself.
Benjamin exits, leaving Katie alone as the lights fade out.
Georgetown. September, 1989.
A dappled late summer light comes up on a grassy cemetery on top of a hill in Maryland. Roy, a bouquet of flowers in hand, enters and goes toward two graves. He lays the bouquet at one. Benjamin, dressed in a suit, enters.
ROY
Just thought I’d come up here for a bit.
You can see the library wing from here. Annie and Eddie would like that. I thought the dedication went well.
(beat)
Where’s Katie?
BENJAMIN
In the car.
(beat)
Fresh flowers every week, Roy; that’s nice of you.
ROY
I remember when we were in Paris once, Eddie and me. At the hotel. He was putting together the first collection of his war photographs, all of those pictures laid out there across the couch and tables and floor. All of a sudden he stops, and he says: “Roy, my boy Ben’s going to make it work. He’s going to put all the pieces together. He’s better than all of us.” And I looked up at him and he was crying. It was the second time I’d ever seen him cry. The first was in London, at the Albert Hall, when he heard Annie playing at the Queen’s Birthday Concert. He loved you, Ben. They both loved you. They were the very best at what they did, but at some things, God help them, they were down right lousy.
BENJAMIN
Let’s go, Roy.                  
ROY
We both had some press buddies stationed off the coast of Hiroshima. They were too close. All of them killed. All of them. Cameras welded into their hands. Eddie was hard as nails, damned hard as nails; nothing seemed to bother him. How do you get like that?
BENJAMIN
Roy.
ROY
He told me to forget about what happened to our buddies, that it wasn’t anybody’s fault, just bad luck and I thought you son-ofa-bitch, you can say that because things don’t get to you, you can turn any horror into a picture and get an award for it but some of us get sick, Eddie, some of us get goddamned sick.
BENJAMIN
Let’s go.
ROY
Don’t do this interview, Ben. Don’t, Ben. I’ve already lost Eddie and Annie.
BENJAMIN
We’ll take you home.
ROY
I’m scared, Ben; I don’t know why, but —
BENJAMIN
Roy. I can take care of it from here on in; you’ve done your job.
ROY
My job? Jesus. We’re talking about Eddie and Annie here.
BENJAMIN
No. You are talking about my mother and my father. I am talking about an interview.
ROY
I read the government’s report on the Arcadian bombing. Campu’s name is in it and if Campu’s involved then it’s not unlikely that Red Daniels is involved.
BENJAMIN
I was there, Roy. The woman sitting next to me had my mother’s blood on her face. I heard it. I felt it. I saw it all. I can still smell it so don’t you tell me what to do what not to do.
Benjamin exits, leaving Roy alone. Light fades out.
The Chopin “Nocturne in E” is heard playing softly as a light comes up on Benjamin standing by himself. A light comes up on Anna seated on a piano bench.
ANNA
I returned here that first time, Benjamin, just after the war, before they closed the borders in 1947.
A third light comes up on Eddie.
EDDIE
It was 1945. Forty-five years ago, Benj, when we dropped the bomb. They wouldn’t let us go in at first; it was too hot after the blast. We shot film from the plane then got ground transport into the city.
ANNA
It was a time of rebuilding and celebrating. The Arcadian was still standing. It had become a symbol of hope.
EDDIE
People were running around — no, let me get it right: they were walking around, dazed, confused.
ANNA
I knew they were out there, those faces I’d known as a child.
EDDIE
It was quiet.
ANNA
They were hungry to hear music again.
EDDIE
Smouldering ash, spitting steam, old women crying.
ANNA
I curtsied, terrified to walk to that piano.
EDDIE
Then, the next day, Benj-boy, the very next day…
ANNA
I sat on that cold bench.
EDDIE
Flowers, everywhere.
ANNA
Staring at those dead keys.
EDDIE
Waves of them, all colors, covering everything like a blanket…
ANNA
Then I saw the music sheet.
EDDIE
Then that man came up to me…
BENJAMIN
Mother, he’s dying.
ANNA
I recognized the notes.
EDDIE
He was Japanese and very small and thin…
BENJAMIN
…He’s turning over in the hospital bed, Mother…
ANNA
I knew how the notes came together in my head.
EDDIE
He had no clothes on and he was covered in dirt and ash and dark blood…
ANNA
I heard it inside me — the music. The fear left.
BENJAMIN
He’s reaching out to me, Mother…
EDDIE
The man’s embarrassed and he tries to clean the blood off but the skin comes off instead —
BENJAMIN
NO!
ANNA
When the concert was over, I found myself standing —
She stands, applauding.
ANNA (cont’d)
— and applauding them and the hall, and the music.
BENJAMIN
(extending his hand)
He’s taking my hand…
EDDIE
(extending his hand)
I grab his hand in mine —
ANNA/EDDIE/BEN
— My God —
EDDIE/BENJAMIN
Forgive me, he says.
The music stops.
EDDIE
And the blood, Benj; the blood from his hand still won’t come off.
ANNA
I can still hear the music.
BENJAMIN
And the cold from his touch still won’t come off.
ANNA
I can hear the music still.
Lights slowly fade out on all three. Automatic rifle-fire is heard in the distance.

End of ACT I.

ACT II.
A half-light comes up on Benjamin. A separate light comes up on Eddie.
EDDIE
I wish Anna were here and not off playing somewhere. Your old man wins the Pulitzer and I can’t even get her on the phone.
See that picture, Benj? Your mother and me, in front of the Arcadian, just after the war, last time she was allowed to play there before the Communists took over. Back in forty-six. They were putting Europe back together and she was knocking audience’s off their seats. Hell, before Anna the only music I knew was Benny Goodman, but there I was listening to List, Chopin, Debussey. I remember her dressing room had this tile stove in it for heat, and we’d sit around it after a performance and I’d try to get her drunk. I’d sit on the floor leaning back against the wall and tell her stories, some of which were true. We’d talk about the world and big ideas and just before I’d pass out, she’d tell me how she was going to change things through her music bring that damn Wall down. Your old man’s a jackass, Benj, but your mother, she’s the most courageous person I know.
Light fades out on Eddie.
Southern Africa. September, 1989.
A light comes up on Benjamin. A separate light comes up on Daniels.
DANIELS
It wasn’t my fight, Ben. That jungle wasn’t my war. You know the background; so I’m a son-ofa-bitch all my life. Big deal. People may think I’m crazy but let me tell you that riding around in stolen cars in high school in Chicago isn’t the same thing as being ordered to
castrate Viet Cong out in the boonies just to show that G.I.’s can be as crazy as gooks. I’m not making excuses. I’m saying when the odds are against you long enough, and you’re scared enough, and you do a little smack to forget and laugh a little as the tracer fire Fourth-of-July’s the whole fucking place you are suddenly awakened. You say to yourself: my friend, you are never going to be scared again; you are never going to let anyone call you a loser again. You are going to take back control, my friend. You are going to see the world clearly. And as I’m sure my dear old dad would say: You are going to look the Buddha in the belly and say, fuck it. So, Ben, does that make me the bad guy?
Light fades out on Daniels and Benjamin.
East Berlin. January, 1989.
Lights come up on an old, elegant hotel room. Anna enters in a rush, pulling off a coat.
ANNA
It’s unbelievable!
Benjamin enters with a book in his hand, checking his watch.
BENJAMIN
Mother?
ANNA
Bloody security checks! They were supposed to take care of that yesterday but these petty, self-important bureaucrats have to keep coming up with ways, no matter how childish, to remind you of who’s in charge!
BENJAMIN
They won’t let you rehearse?
ANNA
They’re doing another complete search! It seems there’s been another threat of some kind against the Premiere and believe me, I have nothing against that man meeting his Maker at the earliest possible convenience; I just wish it wouldn’t interfere with my much-needed rehearsals.
BENJAMIN
They wouldn’t cancel, would they?
ANNA
Don’t even think that! I’d never get up the courage to play here again.
BENJAMIN
Is there anything I can do?
ANNA
Yes. Get me a glass of water with some lemon, it’s in the refrigerator.
He goes to the small kitchenette, making the drink.
ANNA (cont’d)
I thought you were going sight-seeing?
BENJAMIN
I saw it.
He takes the glass to her.
ANNA
This was such a pretty country.        
BENJAMIN
It reminds me a little of Vienna, the old part; the architecture.
ANNA
Maybe. A little. This concert’s going to be a disaster. I know it. I can feel it.
BENJAMIN
You love pressure; brings out the best in your music.
ANNA
Don’t believe everything I tell you.
(beat)
I so want to do good by these people; for all they’ve been through. Wars, Depressions, the Allied bombing, the annexation, then that damned Wall. It’s become a cold, dark place filled with gray people.
BENJAMIN
I tried to find your old house, but I got lost.
ANNA
It’s not there anymore.
BENJAMIN
What happened to it?
ANNA
Tore it down, I suppose.
BENJAMIN
But you still have friends here, don’t you?
ANNA
Yes, some. Most died during the war. Most of the rest will be at the concert tonight.
BENJAMIN
Relatives?
ANNA
Cousins I don’t really know. My father’s brother, the ex-Nazi. He’s now a florist. He sent flowers.
BENJAMIN
That’s a change.
ANNA
Hardly, you should have seen the arrangement. Don’t be naive, Benjamin, about what’s going on here; about what’s gone on here.
BENJAMIN
I’m not naive.
ANNA
My mother and father were pacifists during the war and it cost them their lives. And my sister’s. It is ironic though, that a culture that produced a Hitler also produced a Mozart. And there is symmetry in that. Balance. Like a Nazi florist.
BENJAMIN
When will you know about the concert?
ANNA
They’ll call.
(beat)
I haven’t even asked how long you’ll be able to stay?
BENJAMIN
I have a meeting Tuesday with some editors about my death row article. Texas criminal law; very, very exciting stuff. It pays the rent.
ANNA
You should take more pride in your work.
BENJAMIN
I happen to be very proud of my work. Despite what you think of it.
ANNA
And your father.
BENJAMIN
Well, we can’t all be Eddie Roberts and we can’t all be concert pianists.
ANNA
I did suggest that you not come.
BENJAMIN
No, you didn’t. You just assumed I somehow, telepathically, understood because you’re too busy to actually tell me or ask me anything.
He starts to exit.
ANNA
You always start something and never finish it.
BENJAMIN
I’m sorry?!
ANNA
You really should just stop pouting all the time.
BENJAMIN
How about when you stop feeling sorry for yourself!
ANNA
Benjamin!
BENJAMIN
I’m really sorry you’ve had such a horrible life; I really am, but what do you expect me to do about it? I listen to your soapbox, isn’t that enough?
ANNA
Yes. Well. That was a rather ugly remark. Really, Benjamin, you know nothing about me.
BENJAMIN
Which is a rather odd statement considering you’re my mother.
ANNA
I’m not very good at a lot of things, that’s obvious. In the hall, you asked me what it feels like to be back here. I didn’t answer you. Tonight I’ll have to face the faces of those who stayed behind, through it all, while I was free to play in Rio, London, New York.
BENJAMIN
Do you think they hold it against you for the war?
ANNA
You’ll never understand.
BENJAMIN
Try me! Mother! Talk to me! Help me understand! If it’s so painful then don’t do it — just go!
ANNA
I have to give back something! You can not keep running away. I have to face this place that terrifies me so much. I have to understand, somehow, who I am and what my life has meant.
BENJAMIN
I just want to help.
ANNA
You can’t.
BENJAMIN
I’ll see you tonight. Good luck with the concert.
He turns to go.
ANNA
Benjamin. I want to take you somewhere. Now. Maybe it’ll help you understand.
The lights fade out.
Georgetown. September, 1989.
Lights come up on Benjamin’s apartment. Katie is seated at a desk looking over some papers. Roy enters putting his key in his pocket.
ROY
Ben? You here?
He sees Katie.
KATIE
Roy.
ROY
Hi, Katie. Sorry for barging in. I knocked on the door but no one —
KATIE
I didn’t hear you.
ROY
Sometimes Ben doesn’t hear either. Sorry if I interrupted —
KATIE
I was getting ready to head off to the library. Ben had to leave early. Said he’d be back around three.
Roy pulls tickets from his jacket pocket.
ROY
His tickets and visas came through.
KATIE
I’ll give them to him, if you like?
ROY
Sure. Sure.
KATIE
Or stay. You’ll have the place to yourself.
ROY
Nah, I should be going. Ellen had to take the day off and I hate answering the phone.
KATIE
Whatever. I’ll be out of your way in a second. I just have to leave a note for Ben.
ROY
Can I fix you a quick drink?
KATIE
No. But please, go for it.
ROY
Nah. It’s all right. Guess I’m just a little nervous.
KATIE
Nervous about the interview?
ROY
Nah. Not really. Just the mother hen in me.
KATIE
Would you tell me something?
ROY
If I can.
KATIE
Did Benjamin get along with his mother and father?
ROY
Sure. I mean, it wasn’t easy, them always gone. They took Ben when they could. It sure could have been worse; they didn’t beat him, if that’s what you mean?
KATIE
It’s none of my business.
ROY
Sure it is, if you love him. You didn’t expect me to say something like that, did you?
KATIE
It’s just not a word you hear much any more.
ROY
Or say.
KATIE
Or say.
ROY
And mean it. He likes you. For whatever it’s worth, I hope it works out for the two of you.
KATIE
You’ve known the family since before the War?
ROY
I met Eddie in London at the start. We were both in the press unit. I’d done some managing. He gave me a call after and we started working together, and then I started working with Annie too. One night he calls me and says he wants me to meet this piano player he’d just met, that’s how he described her. I expected some guy in a boater hat, smoking a cigar, wearing gartered sleeves. Instead I met Annie.
KATIE
She must have been so beautiful back then?
ROY
She was not what I’d expected. And I could tell they were in love. Hell, if Eddie hadn’t grabbed her, I would have.
KATIE
It must have been horrible, Benjamin being there when she was killed. He won’t talk about it.
ROY
I had tickets to her final concert, then we were all going to meet in London.
KATIE
And his father dying in the same year.
ROY
Eddie’d been sick for awhile. Cancer. Hard to see him so weak like that. It was for the best.
KATIE
It must have been hard on you too?
ROY
I should be going. Here are the tickets and visas.
He places them on a table.
KATIE
Why’s he doing this interview?
ROY
What do you mean?
KATIE
There’s something about him that’s different. I tell myself I just don’t know him very well, but something doesn’t feel right. We can’t talk about it. He won’t tell me.
ROY
It’d be a real coup for him. I think he sees it as his bid for legitimacy.
KATIE
To compete with his father?
ROY
I’m not a psychologist.
KATIE
But you’re still worried?
ROY
I think you can go too far trying to prove something. You talk to him, Katie. If you’re scared, talk to him. Tell him. He doesn’t want to hear it from me. But you’ve got to tell him how you feel. Don’t wait. Too many people wait. Too much is lost. And then you’re just left alone. And that’s Hell, truly. I’ll stop by before he leaves. You tell him.
He starts to go.
KATIE
Roy. Thank you.
He exits as the lights fade out.
Southern Africa. September, 1989.
Lights come up on Daniels’ compound. Automatic weapons fire is heard in the distance.
DANIELS
Remember how you snuck that bottle of scotch into the stockade for me? No one would ever suspect some sweet little cub reporter would do something like that, especially not the son of such a big shot photographer. So how come you don’t take pictures like your old man?
BENJAMIN
I’m the one doing the interview, remember?
DANIELS
Hit a nerve, did I? Shit. Fathers and sons; what a pain in the ass.
DANIELS (cont’d)
Are you like your old man: “get the story at all costs?”
BENJAMIN
What is the story, Red?
DANIELS
You tell me.
BENJAMIN
You’ve called yourself an entrepreneur, and a soldier; are you also a terrorist?
DANIELS
It’s not a word I’d use.
BENJAMIN
What do you think a terrorist is?
DANIELS
I think the name’s pretty self-explanatory.
BENJAMIN
What’s the purpose of terrorism, as you see it?
DANIELS
Well gee, let me guess: Terror? Chaos? Disturb the status quo? Upset the balance? Raise hell?
BENJAMIN
Indiscriminately?
DANIELS
If it helps make the point.
BENJAMIN
Is there such a thing as an innocent bystander?
DANIELS
Life’s a crap shoot. People like to think that life’s some kind of safe refuge, if you’re a good person or if you read the Bible or if you go to church on Sundays. And that lulls them into inaction. It makes them vulnerable. Me? I say life is the absence of safety. It’s all risk. Kids die young and sometimes the bad guys win.
BENJAMIN
So what’s the point?
DANIELS
Of what?
BENJAMIN
Trying to live a good life?
DANIELS
Ben! What kind of questions are you asking me? This shit doesn’t translate into movies very well, if you know what I mean?
BENJAMIN
Who’s Elliot Donnenberg?
DANIELS
Got me.
BENJAMIN
He was a neighbor of yours, back in high school.
DANIELS
If you say so.
BENJAMIN
What about Angela Donnenberg, his sister?
DANIELS
They died in a gas explosion; sure I remember it.
BENJAMIN
What were you in the state reformatory for?
DANIELS
Kid’s stuff. Joy riding; hell raising. I was part of a gang like everybody else.
BENJAMIN
That raped Angela Donnenberg —
DANIELS
— I had nothing to do with that! I wasn’t even there! I told them to knock it off!
BENJAMIN
The gas explosion was a suicide. They killed themselves.
DANIELS
What do you want me to say?! I’m sorry?! Yeah, I’m sorry! It was a lousy thing!
BENJAMIN
What’s a rat pot?
DANIELS
Oh come on! Give me a break here! This is Africa, Ben!
Benjamin takes up a note and reads.
BENJAMIN
An ex-partner of yours, Rayford Carter —
DANIELS
— He’s a liar!
BENJAMIN
He says you used it several times —
DANIELS
— He’s lying!
BENJAMIN
He says he was in the interrogation room with you and Campu —
DANIELS
— And maybe he used it! Did you ever think of that?! Hell, Ben, give me a screwdriver and I can make a guy talk!
BENJAMIN
Would you describe what it is?
DANIELS
No! And don’t you pull this liberal, mealy-mouthed morality on me! It was a fucking war! There were no rules! You use what you have to, when are people finally going to learn that?!
Benjamin picks up another piece of paper.
BENJAMIN
Including a metal pot like you cook in, you turn it over on a man’s stomach with a live rat underneath, heat up the pot with a fire or torch and the rat goes crazy and chews its way out?
DANIELS
Don’t get self-righteous on me, Ben.
BENJAMIN
You never used one?
DANIELS
You get in your jeep and you have your driver take you down to the depot, not the new one where all the hot shots come through; the old one. It’s become a make-shift refugee center from the fighting and the famine. There’s about a three hundred thousand starving Africans there, give or take a hundred thousand. Now the politics of this situation are none of my business, but I don’t see the point in a country letting its whole fucking population die off rather than let a few Red Cross trucks cross its border. But no one wants to talk about that, not about starving Africans, men, women, children, whole families dead on the road. No, no one wants to talk about that. They’d much rather think about Red Daniels and Campu and rat pots and then they can turn the fucking page. You and your readers need guys like me and Campu because you can just write us off, or shoot us; no problem. Out there at the old depot, that’s the real issue; that’s what the world is coming to, and there aren’t enough bullets to stop it. That’s the future, Ben. Out there, Ben; that’s your story.
Lights fade out, a half-light remaining on Benjamin as a separate light comes up on Eddie.
EDDIE
I was on leave once in New York and stopped in a movie house and saw my news footage of some shelling Rommel’s tanks were taking in the North African desert. White sand, white sky, white sun, black tanks, black soldiers, black shells, gray smoke. Something was wrong; I realized — for the first time, I realized — I’d been filming behind some British tanks that had been hit. I heard the sucking sound and felt it in my boots, then looked down and I was standing in a pool of blood, ruby red blood. The camera was still on and it passed over several other pools nearby; there they were, up there on the screen, only they were black, only they looked like oil stains in the desert. For the first time I realized that in all the film I’d shot of World War Two, all the dead and the dying, not one person in one movie house in America knew they were looking at human blood. It wasn’t a black and white war, Benj; it was in living and rotting color and I hadn’t shown it.
Lights fade out on Eddie and Benjamin.
Georgetown. September, 1989.
Lights come up on Benjamin’s apartment. Benjamin is lying on the couch surrounded by research material. Roy enters wiping his hands on a hand towel.
ROY
Questions organized?
BENJAMIN
Most. I’ll work out the rest on the plane.
ROY
Let’s go over it one more time: Your driver will pick you up at the airport: check his i.d.
BENJAMIN
Yes, Roy.
ROY
Now they’re going to inspect all your bags and you, so don’t try anything stupid.
BENJAMIN
Like a gun? Knife? Poison dart?
ROY
This isn’t a game. You’re in there under the very good graces of our Algerian ambassador who’s doing this because he was a great friend of Eddie’s; he’s not doing it for you and he’s not doing it for me. He also reminded me in no uncertain terms that there is a revolution going on next door and that the borders could be overrun at any time. They won’t take responsibility if anything should happen to you. You’re in there for just five and half hours and that’s it. Your driver and guard will wait only until dusk and then they’re gone, understand? It’s just an interview, Ben; do you hear me? We can’t help you if anyone should change their mind. You shouldn’t be there at all.
BENJAMIN
I can handle it, Roy.
Roy notices a box on the floor.
ROY
What’s in the box?
BENJAMIN
Some of Mother’s papers: letters, fan mail, love letters from anonymous admirers. The lawyers are on my back to get it all together.
ROY
Why don’t you let me take them? You shouldn’t have to deal with that.
BENJAMIN
I’ll get drunk and go through them first.
ROY
Here. Let me take them to the office. I’ll have Ellen list everything. We can deal with it later.
BENJAMIN
Leave it alone, Roy; I’ll deal with it.
(beat)
What were they like when they were together, away from here? What did they talk about?
ROY
Same things they talked about here, I guess.
BENJAMIN
Did they talk about me?
ROY
Of course.
BENJAMIN
They scared me. I was always scared around them. I feel guilt sometimes and I don’t know why, being there when they both died. It’s strange, but it’s like I inherited something and that scares me because I don’t know what it is but I know it’s there, I can feel it, like a weight inside my chest. I feel like someday I’m going to have to pay for it.
ROY
Let the priests, hookers and philosophers deal with sin; all we have to do in life is try to not make the same mistakes twice. They were great people, but they weren’t perfect.
Katie enters, briefcase in hand.
ROY (cont’d)
Hi, Katie.
BENJAMIN
You okay?
KATIE
Wonderful.
BENJAMIN
Rough class?
ROY
Can I get you something?
KATIE
So. Everything set?
ROY
Just waiting for a phone call from the Algerian government.
KATIE
I’m sure this isn’t an issue, but is all this legal?
ROY
Everybody knows where Daniels is, they just can’t get him out. Beside, we’re the MEDIA.
KATIE
Is that what we are?
ROY
Where would the terrorists of the world be without the media?
KATIE
Stealing hubcaps?
ROY
(to Benjamin)
I like this girl.
BENJAMIN
Maybe you should go to bed, you look tired?
KATIE
When do you leave? I don’t think you told me?
BENJAMIN
Tomorrow.
KATIE
Tomorrow? It’s a good thing I asked. What time?
BENJAMIN
Six. Katie, I’m sorry, I —
KATIE
Morning or evening? Morning or evening?
ROY
Evening.
KATIE
Thank you.
ROY
How about some coffee?
KATIE
So. How much, for the interview? You do pay for all your interviews, don’t you, Ben?
ROY
Of course not. But Ben is freelance, sometimes there has to be some incentive.
KATIE
How much incentive?
ROY
Katie —
BENJAMIN
Three hundred thousand.
ROY
Of course, that’s for everything: film —
BENJAMIN
You’re tired, Katie —
KATIE
What’s your angle for the interview? How about the nature of evil? Yes. I like that. Roy, what do you think evil is? Do you think Ben will find it out there in the desert? You see, I know what evil is, but I’m not telling.
ROY
It’s past my bedtime, I’ll just —
KATIE
Tell me, Roy, was our earlier conversation just another angle for you to work? Soften up the sad, naive schoolteacher so Ben can get laid?
BENJAMIN
Katie!
ROY
Leave her alone, Ben.
KATIE
Benjamin’s father dies in some hospital room and you collect your per centage; his mother dies in a bomb blast and you collect your per centage; Benjamin may die out there in the desert and you’ll still collect your per centage. We should all be agents.
BENJAMIN
If you’ve got some argument with me then you talk to me about it.
ROY
Ben.
KATIE
You really should be more careful with your notes laying around the apartment, Benjamin. Red Daniels may have been involved in your mother’s murder.
(to Ben)
How dare you not tell me.
BENJAMIN
Katie.
KATIE
(to Roy)
And how dare you just arrange it all.
She pushes past Benjamin and exits.
BENJAMIN
Sorry.
ROY
She’s right. She’s right about all of it.
Roy grabs up his jacket and exits.
Lights fade in on Benjamin as a separate light comes up on Eddie, who is listening to a recording of Anna playing.
EDDIE
Listen to her. She’s out there holding up candles in thunderstorms. She went through hell as a kid but you’d never know it to hear her play. I think sometimes, somewhere, a link snaps and then it happens: like night follows day the bodies pile up. Somehow, somewhere, she found it: the way you put that link back together.
Light fades out on Eddie and Benjamin.
East Germany. January, 1989.
A dappled winter light comes up on a cleared section of forest. Anna enters, dressed warmly. Benjamin enters a few steps behind her.
ANNA
Look there — a deer! Through those trees you can just make out the city. And the Arcadian is just over there, over that ridge. Beyond the horizon there you’d be able to see the Wall.
BENJAMIN
What used to be here?
ANNA
My home. Down there was the library; there was the kitchen; and there was the sitting room with an enormous fireplace. The bedrooms were upstairs. And just here was the music room. It was a beautiful room with polished oak floors and Italian tapestries on the walls and a bay window overlooking these woods. I can almost smell the cinnamon apples baking. My mother played the piano; my father the violin. She was very good. He was enthusiastic. My father would get home from the university, we’d eat and then go into the music room where we’d all play. My sister, Marie, would sing like an angel. She’d be having a birthday soon. Bach was a favorite of my mother and, of course, his concertos were the only music I could never get right, at least not in her mind. Over and over I’d play the same mistakes, maybe just to provoke her. Afterall, eventually I realized that it didn’t matter what I did, the music would never be perfect to her ears.
(beat)
I don’t know what’s worse, Benjamin, that I expected so little from you or that your father expected so much. In either case, I’m sorry. I’m afraid that sometimes the simple fact is that you and your father were never as important to me as my music. We were both selfish people.
(beat)
This was my home. It was burned down by Nazi collaborators. My mother, father, and sister were inside, asleep. My father taught philosophy at the university. They both understood what was happening here and sent me to London to study, where they would join me later. But Marie became ill and they couldn’t get out.
BENJAMIN
Mother. You said they were killed in a bombing raid, that their shelter had been hit.
ANNA
Only your father knew. And Roy. Only myself and a very few friends and relatives knew who started the fire, and why. Public records were destroyed during the war. We promised each other to never speak of it.
BENJAMIN
But why?
ANNA
Because it was ours. Their memories weren’t for public consumption or trivial sympathies. Music seemed a silly hobby during the war. It didn’t change anything; it only passed time between the slaughter. I was angry at the world. Then I realized that I was angry at myself for not being here with them in this house. That guilt has never left. And maybe that’s why I never told you the truth. But what else could I do but play? It was my only weapon to fight back with. What I came to understand though, Benjamin, is not whether people even ever heard my music, but that I always played the very best that I could, for me, for Eddie and you, for my family, for everyone I love. To save one person is to save the world; I believe that now; to touch one person, is to touch the world.
BENJAMIN
How can you forgive so much?
ANNA
My father’s favorite philosopher was Spinoza. There’s a quote he taught me: “I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.” It was beautiful here. It still is. The sun is starting to set. We should go back.
She stops and holds out her hand. There is a moment, then he takes her hand in his.
Georgetown. September, 1989.
Lights come up on Benjamin’s apartment. The box of his mother’s papers is opened on a table, its contents scattered about. Roy enters.
ROY
Ben? Why the phone call? You’ve got a plane to catch in a few hours.
Roy notices the opened box as Benjamin enters from the hallway. Benjamin stares at Roy then goes to the table and takes up several opened letters.
BENJAMIN
I’ve been going through my mother’s papers.
He opens one letter and reads:
BENJAMIN (cont’d)
“Dear Annie, I’ll try and keep this short and not too embarrassing for either of us. But I had to explain what I said last night…” You know the rest.
ROY
What do you want me to say? She never answered it. Never answered any of them. But she knew it was best that way. And she was right. I guess I always used Eddie and Annie as some kind of standard for everybody else, including me…Hell, the first time Eddie introduced me to Annie I said to myself, what’s the use? He got her.
BENJAMIN
Why didn’t you come with me to pick up the body? I had to identify her, what was left of her.
ROY
My god, Ben.
BENJAMIN
You just sat back, arranged it all, made a few phone calls and had a drink.
ROY
Is that what you believe?
Benjamin goes to the table and takes up several telegrams, extending them to Roy.
BENJAMIN
You knew. Didn’t you? All of these. Warnings from tour officials about threats against the Premier and his family and my mother’s concert. Bomb threats. These were sent to you.
Benjamin throws them at Roy.
BENJAMIN (cont’d)
You knew!
ROY
And she knew. Copies were sent to her. But the concert was too important to her; you were there; you know what it meant to her.
BENJAMIN
Why didn’t you tell me about the threats?!
ROY
She wouldn’t let me! She told me to never tell you! She’d played all over the world, threats, protests; she’d been through the same thing a hundred times.
BENJAMIN
If you loved her why didn’t you do something?!
ROY
Because I couldn’t.
BENJAMIN
Get out.
ROY
Damn you, Ben. Look at me. I’m here, Ben. Here. I’m not the family joke and I’m not some used car salesman. I loved all of you; you and Eddie and Annie. You were all my life; you all were everything.
Don’t you know what people like you and Eddie and Annie mean to people like me? You make things seems possible. The two hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life was burying Eddie and then Annie. But I have to let them go. You’ve got to let them go, Ben. You’ve got to, finally, once and for all, let them both go.
Roy exits. The lights fade in on Benjamin as another light comes up on Eddie, who now appears quite frail. He is dressed in a hospital robe.
EDDIE
Leukemia, Benj. They think it’s from Hiroshima; just took this long to show up. Everybody figured after the bomb fell, that was the end of it. I’ve been lucky in my life, Benj. We’ve all been lucky. The whole world’s been lucky. But I think sometimes the luck runs out.
Light fades out.
Georgetown. September, 1989.
Lights come up. Katie enters, dressed in an overcoat. Benjamin is putting on a sport coat, a suitcase and shoulder bag at his feet.
KATIE
I came for my things.
BENJAMIN
I was just on my way to the plane.
KATIE
I’ll leave the keys on the bar.
BENJAMIN
We can’t do this now. I’ve got to go. Can’t we talk about this when I get back?
KATIE
I don’t think so.
BENJAMIN
Then why’d you come now? You knew what time my plane was leaving.
KATIE
Maybe I was hoping you’d changed your mind.
BENJAMIN
What is your problem? What do you care about any of this?
KATIE
The “problem,” Ben, is that I do care about this. I do care about things. As hard as that may be to swallow, I still need to believe in things.
BENJAMIN
Why can’t you accept that I’m not doing this to hurt you?
KATIE
I’m scared, Ben; scared you might not come back and that I’ll never know who you were or what you meant to me.
(beat)
The world’s not safe. It never was. It never will be. Sooner or later you have to accept the risks and just live life, day by day, moment by moment.
BENJAMIN
I found out last night that Roy was in love with my mother. Love letters. All these years. No mention of her ever returning one. Good ol’ Roy, drink in hand, smiling a little, arranging everything, never saying a word, dying a little. It all changed forty years ago. Dad knew it when that bomb fell; my mother knew it in that concert hall; Roy knows it; Red Daniels knows it. It’s all dead and dying.
(to Katie)
Do you love me?
KATIE
I want to.
BENJAMIN
But you also dislike me?
KATIE
I just don’t understand.
BENJAMIN
You teach history, Katie; you can see it all out there before you; you can see how it all fits, the connections, the symmetry, the balance and you can understand it. People like me we’re stuck in the middle, not sure which way to go: If I move there will the world be a better place? If I move here will I be a better person? If I don’t move at all, will it make any difference? I grew up with the horrible: there was no taste, no smell. It was the past and the past couldn’t hurt you. When my dad died in the hospital, they said there’d be more time and Mother’d gone off to sign something and I suddenly knew it was happening. I could feel him dying, and I suddenly wanted, needed, to say everything, but couldn’t. He turned over in the bed and reached up his hand to me, and for a second I thought it was me lying there, looking up at him, needing something from his eyes. Then he grabbed my hand and he asked me to forgive him, the warmth left, his eyes shut, he seemed to vanish. He asked me to forgive him. Why did he do that to me? I was so close to connecting with my mother when that bomb went off so close to understanding so much — if that piano had been just five feet farther away.
KATIE
Benjamin.
Katie goes to him. Benjamin pulls away.
BENJAMIN
No. I’m sorry. No.
Benjamin picks up his shoulder bag and suitcase.
KATIE
Ben. Please.
BENJAMIN
No. I can’t. I’m sorry. I’ve got to go. I’ve got to go.
KATIE
My God, Benjamin. Don’t, Ben. Please. Don’t do this.
BENJAMIN
No. I’m sorry. I’ve got to go.
Benjamin exits the light, the light fading out on Katie.
Southern Africa. September, 1989.
Lights come up on Daniels’ compound. Gun fire is now quite close. Daniels is looking out the window.
DANIELS
Your driver’s looking a little nervous. Fighting’s getting closer. Better hurry up so we can get you out of here. You’re my ticket to Hollywood.
BENJAMIN
After the coup you lived at Campu’s headquarters.
DANIELS
Sometimes.
BENJAMIN
Could you hear them?
DANIELS
Hear who?
BENJAMIN
In the interrogation rooms?
DANIELS
Which were in the police headquarters —
BENJAMIN
Which were a part of the compound.
DANIELS
So what?
BENJAMIN
Did you ever go there?
DANIELS
It’s where they kept the prisoners.
BENJAMIN
Including women and children?
DANIELS
We’ve been all over this before; it makes no difference —
BENJAMIN
Could you hear them at night? The screams?
DANIELS
What are you trying to do here!?
BENJAMIN
At the hospital where your mother is, they said they’d received an envelope with twenty thousand dollars in cash to pay for her bills.
DANIELS
What’s the question?!
BENJAMIN
Does it bother you that you can’t go back to the States to see her?
DANIELS
We don’t get along!
BENJAMIN
When your father sent the money back, he’s quoted as saying —
DANIELS
What the hell are you talking about?! No money was sent back!
BENJAMIN
You never got it? You never knew?
DANIELS
Makes no difference one way or the other!
BENJAMIN
Campu had a large financial deal set up with your ‘business associates’ in Eastern Europe. Including the Premiere. He’d get a large sum of cash from them in exchange for mineral rights from here; cash Campu very much needed.
DANIELS
Yeah, so?!
Benjamin pushes another news article toward Daniels.
BENJAMIN
Evidently, at the last minute, the Premier and his associates backed out.
DANIELS
Jesus, Ben, get to the point! We’re running outta time here.
BENJAMIN
Campu tried to have the Premiere assassinated, at the concert hall, didn’t he?
DANIELS
What concert hall?!
BENJAMIN
The Arcadian concert hall bombing. You knew everyone involved at one time or another. You’re an expert with explosives. If I were Campu, I’d have hired you for the job.
DANIELS
What the fuck are you talking about?!
BENJAMIN
Does the name Anna Christiensen mean anything to you?! That was her stage name. She was the pianist killed in the bombing. Her full name was Anna Christiensen Roberts. She was my mother.
DANIELS
So that’s what this has all been about?
BENJAMIN
It was you, at the Arcadian, wasn’t it?
DANIELS
Ben, I’ve had this idea. Now hear me out on this. You sell the interview, and when the movie deal comes through we’ll film it right here. It would be great! I’d be the advisor; you’d write the screenplay, right here where it all happened. You could stay here. Shit, there’s more than enough room. Ben, I haven’t told you half the funny shit that goes on here, you wouldn’t believe some of it! Or, or we could go to this great beach house in Uruguay I got picked out. Shit! Ben! You and me, we could set the whole fucking world on its head!
BENJAMIN
Even the bribe to your parents, at the hospital, couldn’t stop the guilt.
Daniels moves toward the recorder.
DANIELS
Shut that thing off! Shut it off!
BENJAMIN
You’ve really got nothing. This is it. All of it. Isn’t it? You’re really trapped here, aren’t you?
DANIELS
Get the fuck out!
BENJAMIN
Campu’s left you here to the wolves. They’re coming down the main road as we speak, aren’t they? You’ve really got nothing.
DANIELS
I said get out!
Benjamin picks up his shoulder bang and opens it.
BENJAMIN
Remember how I snuck that bottle of scotch into you, hidden in that false bottom of my shoulder bag, to get past the guards?
He pulls out an automatic handgun, holding it in his hand non-threateningly.
BENJAMIN (cont’d)
I came here to kill you. The world would certainly be a better place without you. At first I thought I couldn’t do it. Then I knew I could. Now I know it doesn’t matter.
Benjamin places the gun on the table between them.
DANIELS
You’re a fucking coward. Hell, all I have to do is find another screenwriter with a hard-on.
Benjamin packs up the bag. He takes the cassette from the recorder, and rips out the tape.
BENJAMIN
We have an exclusive contract. I own your story. And I promise you’ll never live to see your story told. Just business.
Ben exits into a separate light coming up.
DANIELS
Ben. Take me with you, Ben. I’ll turn myself in; take me with you. Ben!
Daniels as he slowly sinks into a chair.
DANIELS (cont’d)
We could have had something here, you and me, Ben. We had something going here. Back in ‘Nam, we were all scared, but we kept right on laughing. I gave you things, Ben, pieces of me, because I thought you understood. I thought we were friends.
Four separate lights come up on Katie, Roy, Eddie, and finally Anna, each held in time, staring out.
Chopin’s “Nocturne no. 19 in E” is heard softly playing.
BENJAMIN
The Arcadian is being rebuilt, Mother. Once more. Again. It’ll hear music again. And again, and again; I think forever.
ROY
At approximately eleven-fifteen, Eastern Standard Time, November Ninth, Nineteen-Eighty-Nine, the Berlin Wall came down.
BENJAMIN
I wish my mother could have seen that.
The music raises in volume, then fades with the light to:
BLACKOUT.

two healing practices


The Atonement (at-one-ment):

– hands open, fingertips touching heart center; alternate tapping heart center with fingertips as the hands are moved across the chest towards shoulders, expanding the heart center. Say: “My Heart Of Light is fully awakened” 3x.
– place hands at heart center in prayer pose. Say: “I accept all that I am” 3x.
– place middle and ring finger of left hand at pubic bone, middle and ring finger of right hand at tailbone. feel for an energetic connection. breathe consciously for a few moments. Say: “I forgive myself for everything I have ever done; I forgive everyone who has ever done anything to me. I am at one.” 3x.

So It Is.

Release of karma:

Say: “I accept full responsibility for all my creations. I recall any and all negative energy, negative thoughtforms and negative intent to my Highest Self (God-Self, Christ/Buddha-Self; I AM Presence — whatever feels right to you), to be healed, blessed and transmuted back into Light. I retain the wisdom of the experience, while transmuting the energy of the experience and the experience itself back into Light.” So It Is.