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ACT ONE, SCENE ONE:
(ACTION TO POINT.
Jenny, an elderly Italian woman, has allowed Scottie, a homeless
Vietnam Vet, to come in and clean her apartment on a recommendation of a
neighbor. Scottie has dropped a
hit of acid and called his buddy, Kenny over to bring a nickel bag of grass to
take the edge off. Kenny is
starting to trip too. It is the
coldest day of the year and there are outside protests in Tompkins Square Park
because of the removal of the homeless community.
Kenny is relaxing into the warm kitchen as Scottie vigorously washes the walls.)
My old man liked to
drive a hack. Only thing he did like. Only thing he could beat up that could
take it. Tell me all the time about how to drive in the city. Like I don’t
know. I drove a taxi for three years, cars eight before that, usually somebody
else’s. I know on the streets it's all the same what you got to know. It
boils down to the lights, the sequences.
to the bedroom.)
I don’t see nobody
(Knowing smile to KENNY.)
It’s fast. Good stuff.
Yeah, it’s fast.
You getting off on the sequences, man.
Yeah, shootin’ off on the colors. Like
And those holes. Anthony always complains about
those holes on First Avenue. And on Fourteenth Street, Anthony says….
Yeah, but those change. They get filled up. New
ones break open. Gotta keep up. Like knowing a trail in the jungle. Know where
the gook holes are. Don’t trip a wire. Watch the ground, the trees, the
lights. Keep up. Know the streets or else….KABLOOIE!
(Checking the boiling water
for the macaroni.)
Oooh so many streets to learn to drive a cab.
Yeah, yeah, but the secret's in the lights, the
sequences, especially on the cross streets. You fuck up there and the goddamn
tourists come down on you. You get caught and you might as well sit there and
jerk off for all the good it does you. Red light, green light, that's what it
boils down to. Red and green, all you gotta know. But sometimes it don't make
a damn bit of difference if the fucking tourist come down on you. Burn it,
just burn it. Red, green, makes no difference, burn it. That shuts 'em up.
Better'n sitting there like a dog licking his ass waiting for your turn to
die. Right, Scottie? Right. Waitin’ to die! Just burn it. Red, green, makes
I don’t take cabs.
Good. Cause I got no use for those people. All
they do is criticize. Just like my old man. Always yapping 'bout what I should
do. What I should do! What does he know! Just like those fucking tourists!
Sometimes I wanna take 'em by the neck and
squeeze. Stop the yapping. Watch the air slip out of their bodies. Squeeze the
blood from their lungs so they can't bitch about what I should do! They're not
me! They don't know! They don't feel what I have in here!
(Looks off into another time.)
I had to shoot ‘em all . Even the old woman
cooking rice. Take ‘em out. Stop the yapping. Stop the words and the screams
and the …..
(Quiets down. Comes back to
Mind if I roll a smoke?
(Gets out papers.)
Scot, my man.
(SCOTTIE hands over the nickel bag of
grass. KENNY starts to expertly roll a joint. JENNY hesitates, then
bustles around the kitchen looking through cabinets. Finds an ashtray.
Wipes it clean.)
Is that foreign tobacco?
All the way from South America.
My son, Jimmy, God rest his soul, rolled his
cigarettes too. Sam smoked cigars. God rest his soul too.
Oh, so they’re both dead.
(JENNY freezes, then brings
the ashtray to the table.)
Who’s the baby?
It’s a doll, man.
(Gets it, sort of)
Your baby is a doll.
Oh, I get it. Oh, okay. So you live here alone?
Saint Anthony watches over me.
I had a Saint Anthony medal once.
See here, Jenny, this is how you roll the
perfect…smoke. Make it even all the way across. Close both ends, almost. No
(Hands her the joint. Flips
Here. Want to do the honors?
(Holds it awkwardly. Smiles
shyly, hands it back)
Scottie, my man.
(Lights it for SCOTTIE)
Take it in, take it in, take it in. Whoa! Now
is that good shit? Or is that good shit?
Tastes better’n it smells.
(SCOTTE coughs as he hands it back and
continues to clean.)
The elixir of the street. Right? Ain’t that
what you call it?
(Inhales deeply. Coughs.)
Right? Elixir of the street.
Elixir of the street. I am part of the street.
Jenny, you're a pretty cool old lady.
The street part of me.
I laugh in the face of granite….
Yeah, you are.
… that pokes holes in the shell of democracy.
Want to read the card my daughter in law sent
Who lasts longer?
(Takes card, not interested.)
The street, the smell, the toppled dreams?
You don't eat meat either?
Yeah, I eat meat.
Or the barred granite door?
That's real nice.
(Hands card back.)
Don’t Bogart that joint.
(Gives the joint back to
Who laughs louder? I do. We do. To keep
ourselves floating above the sidewalk that smells of me.
I’d rather smell a good meal. Not that I’m
hungry right now. Sequences, man.
(Both men laugh.)
I make nice meatballs.
I could eat some later on, sure.
But I got no meat. Vincent, the butcher, was
out of chopped meat yesterday.
Give me some money and I’ll go get some for
Kenny, my man, you gotta split. I want to do
the floors now.
But the old lady’s gonna give me money for
No, man, not today. Today…. I clean.
(SCOTTIE hands him the rest of the joint.)
For the road.
I’m not finished here.
You’re warmed up, right?
(Pulls SCOTTIE aside)
I’m gonna get the money from the old lady to
get the meat!
No, man, ….
I want some fucking meatballs and the money to
get the meat!! Don’t you…
You got to get off the floor.
You shittin’ me, right? Right?
Just a brotherly dispute.
You are shittin’ me. You think I’m gonna
rip off the old lady?
I think you’re gonna get off the floor!
(Pulls him into a hug)
Badger-man’s talking now, Tripper. I’ll let
go the money for the meatballs, man. But you got to come out of here with the
ticket, know what I mean? All of the ticket.
You’re thinking in colors, but its only black
and white. It ain’t real, man.
You want black and white? All right. I’ll
give you black and white. Badger-man says, the old lady could get hurt. It
could get ugly.
Yes or no?
(SCOTTIE nods his head “yes.”)
Ah, Jenny, nice to meet you.
(Lightly kisses her fingers, examines
rings. Puts on his coat.)
You take it all and then we can….“Go West,
young man.” I read that someplace hanging off this uptown building. A sign.
(Goes to door, grabs SCOTTIE’S hand and
pulls him close.)
You gave me a future out there in the jungle.
This one’s my jungle. I know where the wires are laid. Don’t trip up.
Listen to me like I listened to you out there in the dark. A future, man, you
hear me? You hear me?
I hear ya.
He drives a taxi?
Not any more.
I thought he said he did.
Did I show you the card my daughter in law,
Beatrice sent me?
(JENNY hands him the card.)
She loves me very much.
(SCOTTIE hands her the card.)
Uh, Jenny, about that ticket….
I think I’ll go to the front. I’m tired.
Sam, I’m tired.
(Goes to bedroom.)
Sam, remember you used to do the floors?
(SCOTTIE watches her go into the bedroom,
kiss the statue of Baby Jesus, cross herself, and lay down. He turns on
the radio and scrubs the floors during this entire sequence. From the
Mayor David Denkins has ordered police and park
officials to remove the tent community in Tompkins Square Park tomorrow
There’s too much anger. Too much noise. Too
much of nothing.
Many homeless have refused to go to shelters
stating they are too dangerous.
We’re tripping over the times. Falling out of
a pace. Living in a hell of our own making. Pushed into a street of no more
No help. No salvation. No…home.
City workers are lining up the bulldozers….
(Fades to ‘white noise’)
(Lights come down on him as he works in a
small area. The RADIO ANNOUNCER takes on a gravelly WHISPERED VOICE.)
What price freedom?
What? What’d you say?
(Listens. Hears nothing. Goes back to
What price freedom?
What price freedom?
(Overlapping WHISPERED VOICE)
Where the hell are you?
What the hell are you?
Where are you?
What price? ….
(Continues in whisper.)
What price? What price is freedom? Huh? Freedom
is tomorrow. What price for a…a science fiction future…. What price is the
future? What price? What price?! What price?!!
(VOICE stops. All quiet. Looks around at
I’ll show you the price I paid. Here they
are. On my arms and legs, in my blood, in my soul. Isn’t that enough for a
place…to be…to live…a future? Answer me, damn you, answer me!