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A Spy In Time A history in two acts by M I C H A E L D O N O V A N
I have forgotten where this came from now but I found it interesting. Thought you may also find it interesting.
[QUOTE]Letter re: Why nuke now probable on U.S. City (This is the full story of what was first hinted at in communication with Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s office, Boston, which led to the downing of Flight 800. More was given to General Krulac. I started to put the material into the first part of a book to introduce the story around the ‘surprise Soviet naval maneuvers’ of 84. Too many would be hurt. A friend said the early parts almost read as a play. There are alterations to make it work as a play. However, this is essentially the truth.)

“And if I gave you two atomic bombs for Dien Bien Phu?”
John Foster Dulles to Georges Bidault
A Spy In Time

A history in two acts by



Michael Donovan, a boy of 10 in 1954.
Played 12-14, pre pubescent
Mary Rita Donovan, 35ish, the boy’s mother.
Jeremiah Donovan, 40ish, boy’s father.
Synopsis: It is 1954 in the family’s home in Pound Ridge, a very rural setting but still in commuting distance from Manhattan. The French are unexpectedly beginning to lose their war in Indochina. The wife of Time Magazine’s map maker pressures him to gather more information at Time and help her alert the Soviet Union of American plans to help the French with ‘two last atomic bombs’. Viewed through the eyes of their ten-year-old son, this espionage in the middle of the McCarthy era strains the marriage.
Copyright 2005, Michael Donovan
39 Megunticook Street, Camden ME 04843
Phone (207) 236 6508

Act I

My First Atomic War

Stage right. A 1950s modern living room light turns on to show Jeremiah and Mary Rita reading newspapers. There is a fireplace with raised hearth to the right. He points out an interior headline to her. She just nods and continues her reading. They are sipping cocktails. Stage left, in the dark, is a kitchen table. Living room light dims down. There is an unlit kitchen stage left. A stove separates the kitchen and living room. One side of the stove, toward the back of the stage, is a raised oven, toward the audience are the burners. It is all encased in shining plywood with plywood back to the burner area to more separate the rooms. A dim spotlight shines stage left where Michael walks toward the audience and with hands shielding his eyes tries to see through the light. Michael walks back and forth squinting and tries to shield his eyes to see the audience. The spot on Michael snaps to a very strong, almost ‘too strong’ blue spot. The blue spot is simultaneously timed with a deep mechanical droning sound. The droning sound lasts a full 3 seconds. With the blue spot Michael can suddenly see the audience. The blue spot slowly fades to a more normal spot after Michael is well into his dialogue.
Michael Oh! Now I see you. My name is Michael. I am almost eleven. Those are my parents, Mary Rita and Jeremiah. Don’t worry, they can’t see you. They are completely inside the news. (Pause while squinting to see the audience) I know why you are looking at me. It is not 1954 where you are, is it? It is 1954 here. (Walks over in front of Mary Rita and Jeremiah turns to them and then turns back to the audience) You need to be told. I was. (Walks closer to audience) Yes. I mean from time to time you must be confused. Why would anyone ever…, under any circumstances…, put a nuclear reactor in a warship? Wouldn’t that be the stupidest dumbest place ever? Back here in 1954 it is closer to decisions, secret decisions, that were made about the atomic bomb. That’s why you are here. There are two ghosts here too. I mean they are so present I often wondered why they don’t have a place set at the table. They are two shadows here that Mom and Dad get caught between. (Michael looks from side to side, then stage left.) One is my dad’s boss, who built Time Magazine, Henry Luce. It has been ten years since the atomic bomb was last used. Now if or not we use another atomic bomb –again- to help the French in Indochina seems to be almost cooking in the oven. (Arms crossed and head up acting ‘smart’) I know what the bomb can do. I’ve read Hersey’s Hiroshima pieces Mom saved from the New Yorker. And the other shadow over there…, (Looks stage right) that’s Uncle Joe. We call him Uncle Joe. Yep, (nods to stage right and does a mock pretend ‘shiver afraid’), there is Uncle Joe. But this isn’t Russia. This is upper Westchester County, Pound Ridge, in a modern house for the fifties, way in the woods up on a hill overlooking the Pound Ridge Reservation. Yep, (nods back to parents), they call it ‘rusticity in the smooth’, just forty miles from Rockefeller Center in Manhattan where Dad commutes to Time. (With a shrug) It’s the fifties.
(Light fades on Michael. Lamp lights living room showing Jeremiah and Mary Rita.. The recorded singing voices of Jeremiah and Mary Rita are heard singing just parts of a 50’s beer commercial. Jeremiah voice sings, “It’s not bitter… not sweet. It’s an extra dry treat… Think of Rheingold…” Long pause then Mary Rita’s recorded voice, “Think of Rheingold whenever…” Then very long pause as they continue reading the newspapers..}
Mary Rita: (reading paper.) Stupid time to die.
Jeremiah: (After a pause and still also reading paper.) Stupid time to die.
Mary Rita: (glancing up and to stage right and right back to the paper. A pause before she speaks.) It’s snowing.
Jeremiah: (glancing up and to stage right and right back to the paper. Pause, turns page, pause) It’s snowing.
(Living room lights fade and blue spotlight returns to Michael still facing the audience. This time the blue quickly fades to a regular spot.)
Michael: (Looks in mock horror stage right. Then shrugs.) Uncle Joe is still there. Even though Uncle Joe is dead. He has been dead now forever and ever. This is basketball. Joseph Stalin died way back when…? Jeeeeesh…, that was way back at the end of last years basketball. Months and months ago. Oh…, Joseph Stalin is not my real uncle, (Looks again stage right), we just call him Uncle Joe. I don’t know why. But I don’t know how we lost China either. I mean I don’t know how you could lose China like you could lose car keys or something. But I just know we did. (Shrug) Like the starting lineup of the Brooklyn Dodgers it is just part and parcel of the way things are here in 1954. I mean I don’t know everything, I mean I’m still just a kid. But…, you know? (Trying to look closer at the audience through the light) Where are you? (Here the light turns strongly blue again with just a hint of the drowning sound, all real quick) Gee, you are way far. You are past 1984. Way past. Wow, I see you in the fire. (Pause) You are really in the fire. (Pause) In the fire. (Pause) Is 1984 way in the past to you? That’s weird. Did you know you came close to atomic war in 1984? I bet you don’t even know. Wow. You won’t even call it atomic war then. What do you know then? If you are old enough where you are then you probably know 1984 was called , big quote (Michael uses his fingers for quote marks) …, the “Year Of The Spy”. Yes, The Yeeeeear Of the Spyyyyyyyyyyy. Suddenly there are all these spies getting caught. Pollard who spied for Israel. ‘I Pledge Allegiance’ Johnny Walker and his son Michael taking code cards off of carriers in Norfolk, Virginia. And Felix Block. Why they even put on trial the grandson of America’s great naval historian, Samuel Eliot Morrison. Did you ever ask why all these spies at once? Well, did you ever know why they call a group of spies a ‘ring’? Do you know why talk can’t just go back and forth then, that it MUST go around in a ring. (Makes a big circle with his finger) ? Tonight you will learn why. And why that ring lights up like a golden donut in real world danger. . So with all that light more than a few got caught. Atomic war is dangerous. 1984 was… well. The great spy ring lit with energy real bright then. And that gold spy ring will soon light real bright now here, way back thirty years before that in 19fifty4, so you can watch (Michael is moving off stage left and the spot snaps to regular light and slowly fades as he finishes.) This is my first one. This is my first atomic war.
(Lights are back on parents and off of Michael)
Jeremiah: (Still studying paper. Loud) Michael !
Mary Rita: (Soft) What do you have?
Jeremiah: (Soft) Possible billboard. (Loud) Michael! (Soft) Where is he?
Mary Rita: Watching My Little Margie. I don’t know if we should continue this, Jere (Pronounced Jerry)? I understand training him. I don’t want him stupid. But with this now, he is just knowing too much.
(Lights dim on Jeremiah and Mary Rita, spot comes back on Michael stage left now holding a large atlas.)
Michael: (to audience) I already know. If I’m quick I can do it in the commercial. You can’t read a newspaper without an atlas. But they usually don’t. They just make me. (Holds up Atlas. Walks into living room)
Jeremiah: (Noticing atlas) Good. (He carefully folds paper and hands it to Michael) What is this?
Michael: (Places paper on coffee table and stands back a bit looking at it.) The picture? I don’t get it.
Jeremiah: Michael, I don’t get it either. Perhaps it is a billboard, perhaps not. I don’t always know. But I try to get into the editor’s heads. Yes, this picture could be a message. But what is the ‘big picture’? (He motions wide with his arms) What would it fit into?
Michael: Agaaaaain ?
Jeremiah: Again.
Michael: The bomb.
Jeremiah: Okay. Why?
Michael: (Eyes up as if bored, nodding head in monotone) Because logically one country who has the bomb can’t stop another country from using the bomb, surpriiiiiiise or otherwiiiiiiiise. You don’t even need a bomber. You can just drive it into a city on a yacht, set a timer and get on a train. So we make secret agreeeeeeeeements. Made the deal in Tehran, its part of the plaaaaan.
Jeremiah: And…?
Michael: Aaaaaaand. And…, so we make a secret deal with all countries who have or will soon have the bomb. We made this first with Uncle Joe. (Glances stage right, then stage left) It is Luce’s deal. He made it. Then he brought the Chinese into the deal in Tehran. Just after that, about one day later, China crosses the Yalu river and enters the Korean Conflict…and….
Jeremiah: …And why then?
Michael: Because now they know they won’t be A-bombed. That is why we were careful to call it a ‘Conflict’. My Little Margie. Gotta go. (Michael moves to stage left)
Mary Rita: Jere, we are moving too fast.
Jeremiah: We are all moving too fast. (Lights dim on parents, spot shines again on Michael stage left.)
Michael: (to audience) I begin to understand. I think. Dad is being taught to read secret messages in the news. Sometimes these messages are hidden right in full page ads. I know. Hard to believe. He makes the maps for Time magazine and does history maps freelance on the side. Somehow, I’m not sure how, Hedley Donovan, who works right under Henry Luce, Time’s founder, took an interest in my Dad. Hedley was the best in naval intelligence in WW II and instead of making him the head of the new CIA Luce makes him president of Time. Years later Hedley will become the model for Doonesbury’s Hedley Roland, the CIA type posing as a newsman.
(Light comes off Michael and back on Mary Rita and Jeremiah.)
Mary Rita: Did you see Hedley today?
Jeremiah: (annoyed) You know I would have said something. No he did not come down to the maproom. And if he did come down to the maproom, yes, I would have been veeeeery direct. I would have asked, in an ooooooff hand way, are we going to help the French with the bomb. And, yes, I would be looking closely for his reaction.
Mary Rita: Sorry, dear.
(Light is off Mary Rita and Jeremiah and back on Michael)
Michael: See? They are worried. We start to live the bomb. It is always in the oven. It is at every meal. They like Hedley. But they are afraid he will do something dumb. They even think a song, ‘Happy Talk’, was put into South Pacific as tribute to Hedley who was naval intelligence in Hawaii when we needed to quickly know where the Japs were. Hedley had a brainstorm and said to just do oooone thing. Have all the spies at every island go down to the local bar and report back only oooone thing, if the talk was serious or happy that is all. With just that, just serious talk or happy talk, he plotted them at Leyte Gulf. He is master of the ‘biiiiig picture’ (makes big with arms and hands) and trains my Father. (Michael starts to turn, the light dims, but comes back on and Michael turns back to the audience) Maybe you don’t think a maproom important. Earlier in the Pacific John Hersey was a Time reporter in Hawaii and wanted to get a message to Time past the censors. He simply cabled to Time (Michael makes quotes with fingers) “…The maproom will know.” The maproom immediately drew up the Solomans and sure enough we hit Guadalcanal. Geography doesn’t change. “First determinate of history,” my Father says….
(Spot fades on Michael who moves all the way off stage and moves back to Mary Rita and Jeremiah)
Mary Rita: (Glances to where Michael exited) He’s gone. Jere, I am sorry. I know you understand, but at times wonder if you fully understand.
(Michael walks in, in the dark, and listens)
Jeremiah: (Incredulously) Understand….?
Mary Rita: It is like you see every factor but the people. You see maps not people. You never get it. It is the power, Jere. Do you know what kind of energy they are trying to handle? Can you see what it is doing to them, particularly Luce. (Standing with her gin and tonic tapping the atlas left on the table with her New York Times.) God, you just see the maps. See the people….
Jeremiah: Where?
Mary Rita: Jere? Where? Picture it. I don’t know.
Jeremiah: Rita….
Mary Rita: Anywhere. The people. Go back three years to the deal. Be with a guy like Henry – Haaaaaaank – Luce just after he makes the biggest deal ever on this planet with the Chinese, secret deals not to use this bomb. {Playfully dramatic) Be on the closely monitored flight back from Iran. Last leg. Here is the DC-3 closely monitored. I see it. (She starts to dance) Here comes Sergeant Major flight attendant in civvies. La – di – da. He trots down the isle from the cockpit with a scrawled news item from the pilot, ‘China has entered the war’. What happens? (Now more softly she continues the….) La-di-da…, la-di-da…, la-di-da.
Jeremiah: (Over Mary Rita’s la-di-da’s) Well, he has to think….
Mary Rita: Oh, think – schmink, Jere. How does he feeeeeel ?
Jeremiah: Well, he would know….
Mary Rita: Jere, I almost give up. We know what he knows. How does he…. Nevermind. I will tell you. Fine. Luce glances at the news item, crinkles it up, and tosses it in the isle….
Jeremiah: Rita, we don’t know that. What are….
Mary Rita: Damn it, Jere. Does it make any difference? Feel. Feel. In his mind he sees the strange, quilted Chinese uniforms crossing the Yalu River. Those little men. Those disproportionately long rifles. In his mind he sees them ‘fording’ or whatever the river. But see him. See Luce. See him go ‘ugh – ugh – ugh’. His cackling little sneer. See that. “Hu – hu – hu, of course the Chinese must now enter ‘our’ ‘Conflict’. I let them. Hu –hu. Now they don’t fear the bomb. That’s the deal, hu hu.” (Pause) And Luce knows he is earth king. But what he feels is the garbage of the earth. (Slightly feigned exasperation) My point. The…, bomb…, has…, changed…, him.
Jeremiah: (Annoyed) Yes, yes, yes. He has old contacts from the Chinese Han family from ‘yooouur’ island. Old old old money as you have condescendingly explained. Luce grew up in central China, missionary ‘spy’ family. Full knowledge of the tea and opium connections, the inner connections from that secret Age of Sail post office on ‘yooouur’ Martha’s Vineyard. See, Rita, such the insider yourself, right? I’m such a damned child.
Mary Rita: Your childish sarcasm. Jere. Jere, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. (Softer) I’m trying… (Very soft) Because I can feel him. (Now louder as she stands. Playfully dramatic.) Here is Luce with his cadre of … What? ‘Unofficial’ naval intelligence? Remember he is dealing with the likes of Joseph Stalin and the Han Clan. Whom he puts in their place. He should waste a whiff of cordiality on the like of theeeeeese…, these what? Oh, but the king wants a little entertainment. He curls his little finger at the flight attendant. “Gaaaame of acey ducey…?” It is not a question. It is an order. Little sergeant major sits dutifully and catches cards on his tray. And, of course, he smiles when his is spoken to. And of course Miiiiiister Luce just insists that he call him ‘Hank’. A little show of disdain for his ‘cadre’. Who wouldn’t dare. It’s Mr. Luce for them. “Yeah, call me Haaaaaank. Think this acey deucy game needs a little gin, Sarge…?” Actually I do. (Mary Rita stands and motions toward the kitchen) Jere…?
Jeremiah: (Looks at his scotch and water) I’m fine.
Mary Rita: (Moves off to the kitchen where there is clinking of ice.) Oh. Sometime sometime sometime, Jere, you will. (Softly) Damn it, Jere, its like what…? Shades of color in your art. All that stuff…, that…, what? Range between at least some honor and pure dangerous crap. (Mary Rita enters living room, stops for a moment looking off into space, totters a bit, first signs of being a tad sloshed.) Who else would be on that plane? (She smiles and then giggles.) A Von Weed. One of the Von Weeds? (She laughs) God, yes…! (She laughs louder.) Yes…!
Jeremiah: Sorry I can’t follow your aristocratic….
Mary Rita: Stop it, Jere. I love you, dear. Please know that. (She laughs again.) But, really… yes… this is it. A Von Weed. (Now feigning drama) Let me tell you, dear. Yes, a Von Weed is in the plane too. Can’t you see it? See Henry looking at him. He might have some respect, but respect only. Don’t you see it, Jere? Possibly… only a little respect… only… yes. (She laughs) But only…. (Now she is serious) See it. Come on, Jere. See some slimy Von Weed. Dress him like some, I don’t know, some unkempt slob. Because he is. See him clutching that horrid little briefcase. It’s grotesque. That’s grotesque! And if that is, what’s worse? Henry Luce! See that twerp, Von Weed. Good God. A Babylon family. Well, well, well. He may have his slimy little book and records…. But Henry…? Henry has the booooooooomb ! Crap! Not just crap. Dangerous crap. Not just dangerous…, ultimately. Ultimately. My point. See these people, what it does. The people. How do I…
Jeremiah: (Hand to head, serious) Oh. (Then laughs) Here we go.
Mary Rita: (Paces and swings with her drink) How would this Von Weed be listed? Errrrr…, as a ‘Dutch Banker’. (quick quotes with her fingers.) How would Luce…? Okay, okay. Here…. Remember Provencetown? Remember the Pilgrim Monument, Jere? Okay. Let me tell you about that. Von Weeds again. They were there…, Jere. 1907. Cape Cod. They were all there. Crap schemes. The world’s dark elite. Jere, when they put up that monument, laid the cornerstones. Big ceremony. What in the course of only a few years had just happened? Just three years before…, 1904, Admiral Togo, right? Togo sinks the Russian Navy. But who really? You know there were ‘room 40’ (Mary Rita uses her fingers to make quotes) naval officers aboard with Togo. But also new optical equipment from where? Harvard, Cambridge, wherever. But from here. ‘Us’, Jere, ‘us.’ (Mary Rita again with the quote signs but only on the second ‘us’.) And what just before that, just some years? Yes, we demolish the Spaniards. Manila Bay, Havana harbor. Same. Same. Who is (finger quotes) ‘naval person’ then? Teddy Roosevelt. 1907 saaaaaaame people. The Greeeeeeeeat Whiiiiiiiiiiite Fleeeeeeet is in the Provencetown harbor. Same people. Laying the cornerstone for the, Christ, Jesus Christ… Pilgrim Monument. Pilgrim ?! Damn them ! (Pause, then softer) How? With high Masonic bell book and candle. Jere, that’s right. Not only that… they were first even going to use the robes in public before they thought better about the press.
Jeremiah: (crosses his arms and looks away) Well I won’t….’
Mary Rita: I know, dear, I know. I agree. (Pause, she sits) It was planned from Provincetown, Jere. All of it. (Gives him a glance) World mapmaker. Jesus, Jere. Remember the statue of that World War One, what, I guess Doughboy? In Provincetown. It’s there.
Jeremiah: Up by…?
Mary Rita: No, on the main street. It’s there. Standing with his gun. A ‘Dutch Banker’ ? (Quotes here, just a slight movement of fingers) Really?! So they start it, as usual, in the Balkans. Jere, Jere, Jere, the game is so old. People, Jere. People. They are people. And they become something else. As…, is…, Luce. Errrrr. Who starts it always there? In the Balkans? The Hapsburgs ? The Romanofs ? The Osmanlis? Or their legatees. What? Slaughter. That statue of the Doughboy isn’t irony. It’s sick. It would be a better statue with the Doughboy hanging. How many wars started there? Four, five between the Crimean and that one? Crimean! That’s when the press stepped into it.
Jeremiah: Rita….
Mary Rita: I know, but listen….Tennyson is published in the Looondoooon Times. You won’t charge our brigades back at us! That will never happen again. ‘They’ (slight pinky quotes) buy up all the presses.
Jeremiah: Oh, Rita….
Mary Rita: But this ‘they’ (Much larger hand quotes) have no honor. (Jeremiah looks and points to his empty scotch glass. He gets up but Mary Rita now blocks his way.) The presses now must feign being anti war. They must.… (Now louder) Jere, Jere, don’t you see? How can you be sure what’s in Luce’s head?
Jeremiah: Now….
Mary Rita: God, God. (Mary Rita starts a swaying dance) Oh so what is Henry thinking? Oh. Let’s see…. La-di-da. Henry Luce is thinking of Henry Luce, of course. Jere, Luce is a God damned Teddy Roosevelt with an atomic bomb! (Mary Rita looks at Jeremiah in a very slight pause) Here he is, here he is. La-di-da. How he is teaing with the opium Delano family in Fairhaven. Yes, yes. And he picks Hedley Donovan, beeeeeest in naval intelligence. He now makes Heeeeeeeeedley the new editor-and-chief, whatever. If that’s the case why isn’t Hedley Donovan the head of the CIA? Why? You know why. Instead it’s Wiiiiiiiiiiiild Bill Donovan. Hell, all he knows how to do is slit throats.
Jeremiah: (Rolls eyes) Not true….
Mary Rita: (Turns in her little dance. Arms out to sides, palms out as if weighing one then the other) God, Jere. It is a com – par –i –son. You know what I mean. (Now there is a rhythmic stomping of feet with the dance.) Jere, look at Luce. Look at Von Weed on the plane. Look. He cuts his hand on a gin bottle playing aceeeeeeeeeeeey deuuuuuuuuuuucy. (Serious) He did do that, right? (Back to dramatic) So now, ooooooooo, oooooooo, see him. Seeeeee him! Luce is looking back over his bloody hand, looking at (finger quotes) ‘Duuuuuuutch Banker’, Von Weed. Jere, Jere, Jere, Luce is now looking back over his bloody hand to Babylon! (Pause. They exchange glances. Now softer into dance) Oooooooo. Ooooooo. La-di-da. La-di-da.
Jeremiah: Rita….
Mary Rita: Jere. Oh, Jere. Don’t you see? Of course Henry will use the damned bomb. Henry Luce is now the bomb itself! He must. Now use your reason. It has been used. Fact. Hiroshima AND Nagasaki to show it was easy, not some fluke. Luce says to Seeeeeeeeecretary Stimson, Henry to Henry to Henry to Henry to Bolingbrook Henry the Fourth! You were the bad boy, Henry the Stimson. You used it. Naughty, naughty. You can’t be trusted. I didn’t. I’ll make the deals. Give it to me. Ha, ha. Jere, Jere. Soooooo, why did Stimson use it? We absolutely know it wasn’t Japan. That’s sophomoric. To pop a papa, pop a papa…, papa ‘Uncle Joe’. Right? Okay. Listen. What is a big stick unless you can prove it is a big stick. It is not a big stick if is just academic or even a Nevada test. They needed fried, massive, melting victims. He will, Henry will, we will. Jere, don’t you see we must? Good God, Jere. We’re not A-bombing Moscow. We are ooooonly going to drop one itsy atomic bomb on Dien Bien Phu. And face it. Who cares? Russia won’t after the fact. It is you, mapnmaker, mapmaker of Time, you Jere, you know full well China might scream to high heaven in public but won’t really give a crap. It is because he can get away with it. Dulles doesn’t need to scream ‘window of opportunity’ to Luce. He just has to, as he does, again and again, repeat that Uncle Joe is dead. Like the deal was with Joe, not Russia. Henry will do it. Henry will do it. Henry will do it because it will be his one more ‘last time’ where he can get away with it. (Sings) Strike while the u-ranium is still glow-ing. (Back serious) The short of it is this, he only gets to keep the bomb if he uses it ‘one more time’. (She make quotes again.) He can get away with it, AND he can keep it too. (Now Mary Rita is softer. Almost a far away look and more to herself.) This sick little ring gets smaller and smaller. Who knows what is the real navy and what is not. I don’t. You don’t. It could probably be done without one shoulder braid loosing rank. (Focusing back on Jeremiah) Don’t you see? We don’t know, Jere. He will use it for the same reasons that Stimson did. But the ring smaller. In the same way. But the ring smaller. And again it will be ‘just one more time’. As a fixer.
Jeremiah: Rita….
Mary Rita: Jere.Jere. Jere, listen. In or out of uniform, you don’t know what is the real navy and what is not. That can be covered. Henry would test first. We’ve got to do this, Jere. It is the only way. Only way. Only way. Soon. Now.
Jeremiah: (Turns abruptly away) Only way.
Mary Rita: (Bangs her head in shock) Oh, God. I love you. You are my husband. I swear that’s over. It is over. Jesus, Jere, it is over. I’ve got to see him….. You must see him too. It must come from you. Not a ‘crazy’ person. Jesus…, Christ.., it…, is….over. Jere. Jere….
(Mary Rita and Jeremiah turn from each other, both in ‘thinking poses’ as the lights fade on them)
Michael: (Michael quickly mimics both Jeremiah’s and Mary Rita’s poses) Confused? It is now Ike, but if giant secret deals were made about the bomb when they said…, wouldn’t they be between Stalin and Truman not Stalin and Luce? Committees don’t run the world. There are leaders. Sometimes the real leader is the official leader as well. Sometimes not. When Churchill stopped calling himself (Michael uses quote signs) ‘naval person’ then Bill Stevenson, the Man Called Intrepid who worked for Wild Bill Donovan, started to call himself ‘naval person’. It was whoever was assuming leadership. (With a little laugh) Mostly the best route to the presidency is to signal clearly that you won’t interfere with the real leadership. I mean who would Joe Kennedy go to five years from now and beg his son be allowed the presidency? Luce. Here. (Michael runs to stage right, crosses his arms and stands up tall and serious) I’m big bad Uncle Joe. I know that the Hiroshima-Nagasaki message is aimed right at me. I know John Foster Dulles is feeling me about and taking his very sweet time. Will the world gather to condemn America or is something else afoot? (Michael runs across to stage left. He prances back and forth, head high, holding his hands behind his back.) I’m Henry Luce. I have the most incredible private intelligence network. I make my move for (Michael’s hands flash to the front for quick quotes) ‘naval person’. How? The Dulles brothers now have former War Secretary Stimson’s radioactive big stick. (Michael stops the Luce act and moves center stage toward the audience with his arms like a shrug.) Even a kid like me can reason that nothing can stop the bomb, drive it in on a yacht. Why didn’t you reason that? Just the thought of missile shields would make me laugh. You take it serious enough to pay for them.
(Light grows brighter in the kitchen where Mary Rita is working at the counter. The spot goes off of Michael and he enters the kitchen lights.)
Mary Rita: Hungry? You missed dinner again, Michael. Don’t stay so long down at the Starke’s. Okay? Look what I got?
Michael: Noooooooooo. No ! Chief-Boy-R-D.
Mary Rita: You can’t live on ravioli…
Michael: Moooooom! (Softer) Mom…, why don’t they just make it illegal?
Mary Rita: They should. It’s junk.
Michael: Not that. The bomb?
Mary Rita: (Gives Michael a long look then smiles) Of course. Sit down. (She ruffles his hair and they both sit) It seems so simple right? Just make the atomic bomb against the law. Why not? There are illegal weapons. Do you know what mustard gas is?
Michael: Poison gas.
Mary Rita: Yes, and it was really awful. It was used in WW I. And so awful that they outlawed it. And it worked. We went through an entire Second World War without using it. We didn’t. The Germans and the Japanese didn’t. The law worked. So why don’t we just outlaw the atomic bomb? Seems simple, right?
Michael: Why not?
Mary Rita: Why not? In a word…power. It is not so simple. Perhaps one day atomic bombs will be outlawed. But not until a lot, an awful lot more people understand. And that would be hard to bring about. Back to mustard gas. Did you know that there was an entire theater of war in WW I where mustard gas was never used?
Michael: Nope.
Mary Rita: Yes, there was. Galipoli. Turkey. You know where the Dardenells are?
Michael: Of course. To the Black Sea.
Mary Rita: While England and France were fighting Germany they were also fighting Mustafa Kamel in Turkey. It was horrible fighting from trenches. (She gets down behind the table as if holding a gun.)
Michael: (Michael laughs) Great, Mom.
Mary Rita: (Mary Rita is now laughing too, but stays down behind the table as if shooting a gun.) Yes, yes. (Then more serious.) But it was awful. The trenches were close to each other and the opposite sides even got to know each other. It was a theater - an area of war is called a theater - where no gas was used. Think of that! No gas. But gas was used in the other awful theaters, the Western Front and the Eastern Front with the Russians. Why was no gas used at Galipoli, Pudding?
Michael: (Annoyed) Don’t call me Pudding. Why?
Mary Rita: Sorry, little man. Because they were afraid to. Because it got around, in no uncertain terms, that if mustard gas was used the men, on both sides now, would start killing officers.
Michael: Oh. But still, they made it illegal after. Why not the bomb?
Mary Rita: Because part of the reason they made it illegal is that it would stop war itself. And war empowers those at the top. This is one of the things that worried them when they thought of the bomb. (Mary Rita glances stage left) You know we use a quote to show how even our friends don’t understand something even when it is in their face. We use that quote from Henry Luce. Do you remember that quote?
Michael: (Glances quickly stage left too and back to Mary Rita.) He said, “War for unconditional surrender can no longer be waged.”
Mary Rita: (Smiles and ruffles Michael’s hair.) Right, little man. Making the bomb illegal like gas would start to undo war itself. They changed it so that the bomb would even help controlled war. Now they can have the people even more afraid and more willing to let the government take control of this horrible weapon. They can keep everything about the bomb secret and all other kinds of things without the people seeing.
Michael: I see.
Mary Rita: (Pops down as with a gun again) I see you see. (Laughs, but sits and turns serious, almost afraid.) I was not yet born in 1915. There was a double-cross. Kamel, Turkey, sends ten divisions, with ammunition he didn’t have just days before, into the underbelly of Russia. Something else. A Galipoli marker. Hill 60, Silva Bay. (Her hands are now over her mouth.)
Michael: What, Mom…?
Mary Rita: (Regains composure and smiles.) No Boyardee, your plate is in the oven.
(Lights fade stage left as they increase stage right with Jeremiah pacing with a newspaper behind his back.)
Jeremiah: So that’s what Haggarty meant. (Shouts) Michael !
Michael: Okay. Okaaaaaaaaaaaay. (Walks into living room.)
Jeremiah: (Still pacing, not even looking at Michael) Michael, what is the prime tool to control what they think? (Jeremiah goes back reading paper.)
Michael: Exposure. Exposure. The formula is product / image / exposure. The worst product can have the worst image and it will still fly if it has enough exposure. Just repeat, repeat.
Jeremiah: How when you have to say something? (Louder to Mary Rita in the kitchen, she is back to the papers.) Last week Reston says action under study. Today Times has, “action at places and by means of free world choosing.” Nothing from the Brits. (To Michael) Go ahead.
Michael: Put it at the end of the article. Most everyone just reads the headlines. That is what you use to sell. The point you want exposed you put in the first paragraphs. Most will just read just the headline. A few the first paragraphs, very very few the whole piece. So at the very end, that is where you put the opinion that you don’t want exposed. Because what is last read is most remembered, those who most disagree will read the whole thing and will think you are being balanced. But you fooled them.
Jeremiah: (Finger to chin thinking and looking at audience) And what if something like this is suddenly reversed?
Michael: I don’t know.
Jeremiah: (Looks at Michael) I don’t either. And I heard you with your mother. Do you understand what was really meant when Luce said “War for unconditional surrender can no longer be waged?”
Michael: That anybody can just threaten anybody?
Jeremiah: Good, you surprise me. It is the implications of the statement. What do I mean by that?
Michael: I guess…. When you think it out….
Mary Rita: (Reading paper, voice from the kitchen.) They’ve got Ike surrounded. Best he can do is set conditions.
Jeremiah: I think you’re right. (To Michael) Think it out in your own words. And, as you do this, tell me why that if this is so that the people of this world would simply demand all governments stop making the atom bomb. Take your time….
Michael: Well…, I can see you can’t stop the bomb. That any country can threaten any country if they have the bomb. So the Dew Line is theater, Okay…. Well, no, I don’t understand. It is stupid. I mean if we are going to build this ‘Dew Line’, radars to see Russian bombers, can’t people reason that it couldn’t stop an A-bomb. That it makes no sense? In ‘duck and cover’, at school…, we get down in the hall. You know, they tell us about the air raid siren. We go out in the hallway and crouch down and cover our heads. We close our eyes because of the flash that will come. So you say there is a deal. I was next to Kathleen Lillis while we did ‘duck and cover’ We were covering our heads and supposed to have our eyes closed. So I told her…. She didn’t say anything.
Jeremiah: Told her? (Amused) told her what?
Michael: I said that it wasn’t real. That we have deals. (Jeremiah laughs) That the bomb is too dangerous. That this is all phony.
Jeremiah: Ummmmm, did she believe you?
Michael: I don’t think so. She was sitting with Jackie Follis pointing at me and laughing.
Jeremiah: I see. This is good. (He laughs) Rita! Rita, come help me with this one. Michael, think it through. Why didn’t she believe you? Your teachers believe we might be atomic bombed any day, right?(Mary Rita enters from the kitchen stage left. She has two potholders.) How can she believe you when her parents and teachers believe otherwise?
Michael: Yeah. I don’t get it.
Mary Rita: Good honest answer. We don’t see it either. Or we do, just amazed at what happens. If you can get most of the people to think one thing those who don’t agree look nuts. The entire civil defense and air raids are to make people believe. They think, well this all can’t be going on unless there is a real threat. When you get a large group to believe something, well…, it is almost magnetic. We know some things at work that Time doesn’t want talked about. But the overall picture, the things we tell you, without some specifics…, we talk about this with some of our friends. A few of them reasonably believe that we must have secret deals with Uncle Joe, though some specifics your Dad can’t talk about. Take the Starkes right down the road. We’ve talked enough about this that they can reason that there must be, almost have to be, secret deals against using the bomb. But what are they doing?
Michael: Yeah. They are building a fallout shelter. I know. You are going to say, exposure, exposure, exposure, exposure again. But can’t the Starkes see?
Mary Rita: Yes and no. They can reason as we do about this. We’ve talked. So they become of two minds. But slowly, the exposure, the papers and the civil defense drills, that side wins out. What is amazing is that the Starkes are very politically sophisticated. The exposure power that we are talking about continues to amaze your Dad. Me too. Michael, what do I mean by ‘sophisticated’?
Michael: That they know a lot?
Mary Rita: Not just that they know a lot, but that they also know how to reason well and test what they know. They are the last sort of people to believe something just because they read it in the papers. Oooops, better turn off oven and I’ll get back to the papers. (She smiles and shrugs at Jeremiah) Your Dad, who knows that it is all in geography, will explain the rest. (She exits into kitchen stage left.)
Jeremiah: Your mother, who knows it is all in people, does have a big point. The newspapers and radio and now TV, they all work together. And, like your Mother, I am always flabbergasted at the power the news has to determine what is real.
Michael: Then doesn’t Alan Jackson know? He has the biggest radio news program, right?
Mary Rita: (From the kitchen, one hand on the oven, the other hand holding the newspaper that she is reading.) This your Father will explain. (Laughs) And I can’t wait to hear.
Jeremiah: (Quick smile toward the kitchen) That’s a real easy answer. I’m just not sure.
Mary Rita: (Glancing up from the paper) Good answer. I’m not sure, either. (Laughs) But tell me what you think, Jere. Does he know. I mean, Michael can reason that he would have to. Biggest radio news show, every evening six o’clock, coast to coast…, (mimicking newscaster with deep voice)…, “This is A-lan Jack-son…, and…the news….” (Back to her voice) Well…?
Jeremiah: He certainly seems to have a lot of freedom in how he presents the news.But it is the party line.
Michael: Republican? (Mary Rita and Jeremiah both laugh)David took me to see his dad broadcast when we went to the city. David says he writes from those ticker machines almost from the last minute before he broadcasts.
Jeremiah: No, not Republican. I meant that he broadcasts the way that the network and government wish. Most times I think he is a true believer, he simply holds those views himself and the network very satisfied with this. And at times I think, by God, he must know more.
Mary Rita: Usually you can find out from the wife. But Alta has no interest in politics, its just Boy Scouts and the Garden Club. You remember our record club party here? (Mary Rita is entering the living room) Before we sent you to bed Alan Jackson was using you, Michael, right there on the hearth. Come here, Michael. (She motions Michael to the raised hearth)
Michael: (Somewhat whiny) Mom!
Mary Rita: Yes. Come on. Help me make the point. (Mary Rita pulls Michael down beside her on the raised hearth.) Alan Jackson, Mr. Newscaster himself, pulls down Michael. To make his point. (She imitates a deep voice) “Even a young boy like Michael here can see that it is ridiculous for anyone to call the Pres-I-dent of the United States a commie. Isn’t (she is still talking in a deep newscaster voice) that right, Michael?” (Back to her voice) And what did you say, Michael?”
Michael: (Shrugs) I said I guess so. I mean it does sound silly. So, this deal, the Luce deal, does Ike know?
(Mary Rita and Jeremiah look at each other for a long moment.)
Mary Rita: Yes.
Jeremiah: Yes, he’s not some complete figurehead.
Mary Rita: And Truman knew. And knew also Forrestal would be strongly objecting. There was a falling out. (She giggles and Michael is looking at her.).
Jeremiah: (Puts silence finger to lips toward Mary Rita.) Yes, Michael, Ike knows that there is this agreement. But knows what consensus would be needed to use the bomb. That he could not make the decision by himself. That others, Luce and others, hold the real keys. Michael, what does it mean to say that the president is also commander and chief of the armed forces?
Michael: He heads the army and navy and air force?
Jeremiah: Good. They made that a law because they were afraid that the president could become just a figurehead, they wanted to make sure that the president was really in charge. And that is good. But back when Luce first proposed that we have a secret deal with Uncle…, Joe Stalin, Stalin had an objection.
Michael: I know. I know. Uncle Joe said that you can trust me with the deal, a secret deal about not using atomic bombs, you know I’m in charge here. But how can I trust you if you keep changing presidents on me? So Luce had a censorship flap in Fortune Magazine. But I don’t understand that. What could that do?
Mary Rita: What is a ‘flap’, Michael?
Michael: A big deal?
Mary Rita: Sort of. A fuss. A big fuss. And in this case the fuss was made very public and almost about nothing. The fuss was concocted, made up. Done as a message. The president is commander and chief and in charge right? They made up a fuss in public. And they chose an upscale public, the readers of Fortune. They made a very big deal over nothing, a big fuss over some wording. They changed a phrase, part of a sentence, from, (Mary Rita uses finger quotes), “The president decided,” to “It was decided.” The readers were told that there was a fuss about this, but never as to what the real fuss was about. That showed Uncle Joe thatyou could say right in public that there were certain issues where the president was not the real commander and chief. Very few people understood what the real issue was. The point was that they could show Uncle Joe that they could do that, and do it right in public, and there would be no screaming from the White House and no big fuss from the public.
Michael: And that was Hedley’s idea?
Jeremiah: We think so. Okay, explain it to us so we know you know.
Michael: Okay. Uncle Joe says how can you make this secret deal about the bomb. You have to show that you are in charge, not some president that might get elected and change everything. So Luce says, “Look, I’ll put it right in Fortune Magazine. Make a big fuss about changing the wording from ‘the president decided’ to ‘it was decided.’ There will not be a giant objection from the public or the White House. I get the White House, but not the public. I mean how could there be a fuss from the public if the readers were not told what the fuss was about?
Jeremiah: Good. You are thinking. Well, two things. It shows that you can put this in front of the public, no explanation, and there will be minimal or no outcry, ‘what’s this about’. But there is another very small, very small (Jeremiah uses his fingers for small) sliver of the population worldwide who do know the real issues. What will they say? Freedom of speech is nothing unless you know the issues. And so few do. But that small sliver is the necessary check.
Mary Rita: You are learning the real ‘Pass & Stow’, Michael. You are the seaman, Jere, you tell him.
Jeremiah: (Laughs) Okay. When this country was first formed there were seamen here from all over the world, every nation. And they would sign on ships of various flags. Truly international. Sometimes they were even pressed into service by navies and forced into the position of firing on their own countrymen. The sea was dangerous enough. They saw that their best and only real defense was information, talk, critical talk. Talk of things like war, who was going to war on who. So just the simple seaman began to share information, talk. Critical talk. They called it ‘Pass & Stow’. And it meant, ‘pass this on’ it is important, and ‘stow it’, remember it. It is the cornerstone of freedom of speech.
Mary Rita: That is why the corporation that takes care of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is called, Pass & Stow.
Michael: So the made-up fuss was really a billboard, just meant for a few. But you say these billboards, messages hidden in the papers, are secret. Doesn’t make sense. Isn’t there other ways to send secret messages between countries?
Mary Rita: They can’t bee too secret. That would be dangerous. Much too dangerous. It is when they want to make a statement, but only to a very aware group of people the world over. They need to distinguish policy from whim. What do I mean? Let us say we are telling another country not to let their army go further north. That is published in the paper but disguised. Big headline in an ad, ‘You May Go No Further North’. Real small, underneath, it might read, ‘visit Lapland’. Sometimes they read very easily two ways. Sometimes it makes an ad any junior copywriter would be fired for. And the public, even the very astute sections of the public, never notice this. But some very aware, worldwide do. And can speak up if they wish. Or write a letter. So being published on that level it means that most are behind this as policy, not just something that many would not go along with. Or they would be hearing objections.
Michael: I see. Kind of….
Mary Rita: The power is in the news. Only the top know.
Jeremiah: There is a name for this, steganography. Another name for billboards. Not stenography, steg-an-ography. S – t – e – g -a –n –ography. A message hidden in the open by it being read more than one way.
Mary Rita: In a bright golden ring….
Jeremiah: That’s childish….
Mary Rita: Childish? The things I taught you about this, things I was taught as a child. They are childish, Jere. Ooooo. (She playfully shakes her finger at Jeremiah).
Jeremiah: (Shakes his head smiling) Be my guest…
Mary Rita: In this world there is a bright golden ring. It is the most important ring. And it is made of the real gold. Even realer than this. (She points to her wedding band.) And very pure, the purest gold because it is always being tested. It is a ring of shared information by informed people all over the world that do the real Pass & Stow. It forms a ring around the power-that-corrupts and keeps it in check. You can’t see the gold ring as much as much as feel it.
Jeremiah: (More to Mary Rita) Good an explanation as any.
Mary Rita: (To Jeremiah – Michael is just watching them talk now more to each other.) It is as I was taught as a child. And I know to pass it on to Michael. Think how much my childish traditions have taught you. Some special night soon I will pass it on and you can watch. Childish indeed.
Michael: Can I go? (Michael sees that Mary Rita and Jeremiah are more talking to themselves now and moves away stage left exit, but right back to listen.)
Jeremiah: Some is okay. You know what I mean. (Noticing Michael has left and checking to see that he has gone) We need be careful.
Mary Rita: We are. But I will pass it on to Michael. For us it is the real gold now. So… of course it is scary, dear.
(Lights fade in the living room and the spot comes on Michael who has been listening.)
Michael: Pass and Stow. Pass and Stow. Pass and Stow. Later, years later, I would see how silly freedom of speech is when the public is kept out of the important things. That modern media can make people less, not more, informed. That phony censorship flap? Where (uses quotes with fingers), “…the president decided…” was changed to “…it was decided…”? That is recorded in Elsner’s History of Time Inc., written years later. But even there, it does not explain what the flap was about. And they would continue to teach me. So much about simply reading a paper.
Mary Rita: (From living room.) Michael!
Michael: (Goes back to exit to make a seeming entrance. Arcing around in front of stove, but stops center stage. Looks at audience) Oh, (laughing) And it is real easy to get confused about (uses quotes with fingers) ‘them’ and ‘they’, or which is what here. I sure would…still do. I mean sometimes the (quotes again) ‘they’ is guys like (points to Uncle Joe and Luce concepts stage right and left) them. Yeah, and those times you are trying to figure out what (quotes and points both ways) ‘they’ are doing. But sometimes the (quotes) ‘they’ are the people who you are trying to make think what you want them to. Like selling them so much soap. So sometimes the ‘they’ (points to audience) was you. (laughs again). So the (looking both ways to Joe and Luce and hands both open sort of snap to one and then the other) ‘us’, this us?, which us? Well I’d have to grow up before I get it that the ‘us’ was never really ‘us’ at all.
Mary Rita: (From kitchen where she has just moved.) Miiiiiii-chaaaaaaael!
Michael: Coooom-iiiiiiiiing !
Mary Rita: (Grabs paper from kitchen table that she had been reading. Just notices Michael. She jumps up and down with glee.) I got it. I got it. I got it. I got it.
Michael: (Walking to table.) Got what?
Mary Rita: Michael, in the Washington Briefs section of the Times, like in the good political columnists, like the new Tribune columnist - Buchwald, they are almost always writing on two levels. So if ever you are reading them…, and you are only reading on one level…, well…, remember…, you didn’t really get it.
Michael: Can I have it?
Mary Rita: (Starts to hand him newspapers. Then she remembers…,) Oh. (…and smiles and hands him a plate of ravioli.) Your plate.
(Lights fade off of Mary Rita and Michael in the kitchen and on to Jeremiah in the living room. He picks up a daisy bee bee gun that was hidden beside the couch and holds it by the barrel so it hangs down beside him like a club. He makes a large shiver, a someone-stepped-on-my-
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
The problem I see with this Magda, is that it's an expose of Lizard-kind. A la David Icke. Ah, those sneaky, scaley Babylonians...

It's fine as a play or novel but any pretense that it has a factual base is to be taken cum grano salis.

The same author wrote the following (on the same theme):
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

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