View Full Version : A Spy In Time A history in two acts by M I C H A E L D O N O V A N

Magda Hassan
11-30-2009, 01:13 AM
I have forgotten where this came from now but I found it interesting. Thought you may also find it interesting.

Letter (http://www.midcoast.com/%7Emichael1/webnukeletter.htm) re: Why nuke now probable on U.S. City (http://www.midcoast.com/%7Emichael1/webnukeletter.htm)
Home (http://www.midcoast.com/%7Emichael1/index.html)
(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-grave shiver. There is a short burst of the blue spot and drone. He looks around and starts to sit. A louder burst of the drone and blue spot. He gets up. Looks around. Looks toward but over audience. Longer spot and drone burst and the blue spot stays on.)
Jeremiah: Where am I?I’m in Pound Ridge. {Looks quizzically at audience) But I’m not. (Long pause, looks up at blue spot.) I’m to explain myself? To you? Well, …, what was I doing? (Looks back at living room, then back to audience) Teaching him grown-up things too young? Is that what you think? Really? (Seems to just notice that he has a bee bee gun in his hand, is amused.) Ha! Michael’s bee bee gun. I was angry at him once because he let it get rusty. I am thinking this now here in 54. (Waves gun.) My mind overlays now in time. One minute I am a kid in Brooklyn. Another minute I am on Martha’s Vineyard, I thought I was dozing on the Islander. This was Pound Ridge a second ago. I guess I am comparing. Wondering what others would think of how I teach my son. That was on my mind. You must be the others. Oh…, (Smiles) now it is fitting. I see. I was told to expect this. Well, (Smiling and looking at the gun) Well, what I teach, or taught, my son is very on my minds, for I have a number of minds about this. I chose to be a non-combatant in the war. Joined the Merchant Marine, but did so when the Liberty Ships were going down right off the Jersey coast. I am still just a kid from Brooklyn who excelled in art. To be working for Time Inc., to have a house in Pound Ridge…, these are dreams fulfilled and a boat I don’t want to rock. Rita came from a mansion in Carmel and multi-floored apartments on Sutton Place. Now you, (Pause, then he points at audience)…, one of Michael’s (Makes quote mark with hand not holding gun) ‘theys’…, not ‘them’, (Hand quickly points to Luce and Uncle Joe ghosts), Judge me as you will. For where I sleep now I know that whatever you have done, if you have taught your boys the proper use of guns or kept guns entirely away from them, I tell him as much as I know of why. For the seriousness is hitting me. It is hitting all of me, that seriousness. All the mess I am feeling now. I guess I’m dead aren’t I. Then? Feels like now. I am even reasoning that if Rita and I are caught there would be no trial. It would be too embarrassing. We would need to be eliminated…, and they, (Points to both ghosts and makes quote with non-gun hand), would do just that. (Looks very directly at audience.) Now I say I was reasoning this. I was. I did. But almost didn’t believe it. It was almost like a dream. And all happened so quick. I was even more afraid later. Much more! When it all sunk in. (There is a loud burst of drone, and intense blue spot. Jeremiah looks up.) Back? Where? (He examines the gun quizzically.) Well, I’ll be. (Blue spot snaps off to regular. Then looks at gun as if he is just seeing it.) His gun. Michael ! Michael !
Michael: (Comes from stage left and reaches for the bee bee gun.) I know, I know.
Jeremiah: (Jeremiah jumps with a start at Michael’s voice..) You startled me.
Michael: Well, you just yelled. I know, (Takes gun and speaking as if by rote) the real triggers are lies. I‘ll put it back.
Jeremiah: (Jeremiah looks toward the audience a bit confused and.continues to look over, not at, the audience,) Do. But take a glance at the editorials there also. Tell me what you see?
Michael: (Michael opens the editorial page, spreads it out and stands back from it then glances back to see if Jeremiah is watching him. Jeremiah is still looking over the audience. Michael turns again to the paper, but closer.) Okay, the first one is…
Jeremiah: (Still looking at the audience.) I know what it is. What is the first thing….
Michael: I did. I stood back and looked. I looked.
Jeremiah: And…? (Turns his attention to Michael)
Michael: And…, and I always read the headline of the editorial as separate from the editorial, they sometimes are…, (Long pause) separate messages.
Jeremiah: Not always, but at times….
Mary Rita: (From the kitchen) Michael!
Michael: Okay, okay. I’m coming. (Runs into kitchen pointing gun)
Mary Rita: (Startled) Oh!(Laughs) Oh, you.
(The lights flicker and they all stop)
Michael: (Still stage right.) Okaaaaaaaaaay. (Now moving stage right to Jeremiah.) What…?
Jeremiah: Get some wood. Power might go.
Michael: Okay, I will. (Grabs coat as he exits past the fireplace stage right)
(Mary Rita enters the living room from the kitchen)
Mary Rita: Sometimes Michael scares me more than you do.
Jeremiah: (With a quizzical look) Now just what do you mean by that….
Mary Rita: We must admit that we are scared of this…
Jeremiah: Scared?….. (All lights go out except the light from the fireplace.) Whooops…, Power went. Spoke too soon. Where are the flashlights?
Mary Rita: (Moving in the dark off to the kitchen.) I’ll get a flashlight. Sleeping bags are right there in the closet, dear. We’ll set up to camp out by the fire, go to our beds if the lights come back on.

Jeremiah: (Speaks alone and with a sigh, very deadpan, staccato and un-dramatic. Ends up behind stove in kitchen.) Yes, I drew the maps of ages. And I focused on the bad. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dien Bien Phu…., Stalingrad. I see now - the great game - as in patterns - in art. What bold…, what detailed…. In time I see the large frame, more than details, is the heart. Who calls it the geopolitical stratosphere? Did someone say that? I forgot. (Looks toward kitchen) If I envy her it is more the ease with which she flips from the dead serious to the silly. The job. A mortgage. You walk up steps in life and suddenly a fog. What is between us? (He turns towards kitchen tossing atlas on the couch then loud and louder) Michael Mi-chael!
(Jeremiah moves off stage left. Michael enters stage right with
Michael: It’s dark.Ice storm ! Ice storm ! No school tomorrow ! (Looks around) Where is everyone. (Puts down wood. Arcs around center stage toward kitchen. Blue spot, with drone sound flashes on him. He looks at audience.) Oh. All of you are still here. Okay. If there was a secret deal, wouldn’t putting nuclear reactors in warships make sense on that level? It becomes a shield. Don’t you dare ! We have a deal ! Gand-da-da. That’s Mom’s dad, well he’s a psychiatrist, Dr. Jewett. He says that Hymen Rickover is a genius. It would be years before I understood what he meant. Admiral Rickover’s first assignment was to help the United States catch up on radar. The British were ahead on that. Rickover was a real smart electrical engineer from Poland. Then he headed the navy’s nuclear program and just stayed there and stayed there and stayed there and stayed there. And stayed there. (Pause) And stayed there. And then…. (Pause) Stayed there. The talk was that he had some sort of in with congress and that he was untouchable. But guess what? No one ever explained exactly what this special ‘in’ was? It was just what you are learning tonight. He knew those members of congress who also knew there was this deal. Part of them who knew were afraid of the deal. He went along but behind the scenes would speak against it. He was thought of as kind of and insurance policy. But now we must go back to 1954. And my special night in the fire.

Mary Rita: (Comes in from stage left, with kerosene lamp and flashlight. wearing pajamas and a bathrobe. Lights lamp with a match, sets on coffee table.) I would guess tonight is the night for the mapmaker’s secret. Great night for the mystery of Babylon. (Pretends to be scared) Ooooooooooo. (Laughs) Tonight, my Pudding. (She reaches over and ruffles Michael’s hair.)

Michael: Stop it.
Mary Rita: Again, I’m sorry, Michael. (Serious) Tonight you do become a little man. (She lights a kerosene storm lantern and places it on the coffee table.) This has been passed from generation to generation. And it was I who taught smartie pants mapmaker here…. Ummmmmm? So from now on you are ‘Pudding’ no more. Get your pajamas.
Michael: No.
Mary Rita: (Sighs) Okay, just for tonight.
Jeremiah: (Enters stage left with sleeping bags and flashlight. He is wearing pajamas and overcoat. Does a giant shiver) Oh! Someone has stepped on my grave! Yes, this your Mother taught me. This is the deeper meaning of Pass & Stow. Let’s see…? To start…? Okay, Michael, how long have we, us humans, been a deep-sea animal. In other words, how long have we been able to sail most of the globe on the sea? Not just an exploratory excursion or two, but world wide with trade…?
Michael: Not hard. Columbus 1492. Let’s see. Trade? Sixteen hundreds. Yeah, sixteen hundreds….
Jeremiah: Fine. Say a mere three hundred and fifty years or so. Think how small a time in history. Just a few hundred years. A small fraction. Now…, back, back, back, back most of our history, going back when we did not navigate at all, not even around the shores, what would the center of communications be? Reason it out.
Michael: (Starts to get up) Okaaaaaaay. Do I get atlas or globe?
Jeremiah: You don’t need either. You know more than enough geography for this. Big picture again. Just think of the larger outlines, the continents…. Turn the globe around in your head.
Michael: (Laughs) Mystery of Babylon. It must be Babylon.
Jeremiah: (Laughs too) Well…, you know it is not the mystery of Pound Ridge! Yes, it is Babylon. But the real question is why?
Michael: (Shrugs) Why?
Jeremiah: What transportation was used…?
Michael: Wagons. Horses…. Camels. Camel caravans. Okay. Right. Center. Center. Babylon was the center.
Jeremiah: Good. Explain it fully. Put it in your own words.
Michael: Babylon was the center because…, because it is where big continents connected. But it leaves out some, the Americas, Australia.
Jeremiah Yes, right. Those were not developed yet. But it was the center of a land bridge between Africa and Europe and Asia. Go on….
Michael Became the center of trade…?
Jeremiah: Yes, but I want you to break that down. The center of traveling becomes the center of information. Then center of information becomes the banking center. Babylon became a banking center. First world banking center. For all practical purposes Babylon becomes the center, the start, for history. Again, determined by geography. Now there is a hard and fast rule.., banking follows information. Wherever the center for information goes on the planet banking will follow. Remember that, banking follows information, banking follows information…, First one, then the other.
Michael and Jeremiah together …Banking follows information.
Jeremiah: Good. Wherever the center for information goes, banking follows.
Mary Rita: …And power.
Jeremiah: And power. So what happened when we first began to navigate on water. Even, as it was at first, mainly around the shores? Other important information centers would develop. Where, Michael?
Michael: Mediterranean. It means ‘middle sea’. Somewhere in there.
Jeremiah: And who would hold the information in the Mediterranean?
Michael: The merchants…?
Mary Rita: (Nudges Michael with her foot.) And the fishermen, Michael, the fishermen. There were usually far more fishermen than merchants. You might even say the simple symbol for a fish (She draws a simple fish – two curved lines that cross for a tail) meant what we might (looks and points at Jeremiah) in the right circles…. call naval intelligence. The symbol meant this is truth, important truth, remember this, tell others that understand… or…? Or what, Michael?
Michael: I know. Paaaaaaass and Stow again.
Jeremiah: Okay, let us see how smart you are? Man is learning to navigate around the shores. Where would the center of information change to? You know this would be the Mediterranean in some respect. But how?
Michael: I don’t see it.
Jeremiah: Well, (Smiles at Mary Rita), I had to be told too. You have the information center of Babylon. A land information center with land transportation…. Center of major caravan routes between the continents. So you have that information network and another forming around the shores of the Mediterranean among merchants and fishermen. Now, this second network, where by geography would it combine with the Babylon network?
Michael: Turkey?
Jeremiah: Good stab! No. It was almost the sailing port of Biblos – where we get the word Bible from. That is present day Tyre in Lebanon. That center, however, was unprotected. So the real center was moved into the mountains for protection. Also, on the other side of the mountains was the caravan route by the Dead Sea. And that route becoming more important by navigation as it connected to the Gulf of Aqaba.
Michael: Jerusalem! Right, so next it was Jerusalem as the center.
Jeremiah and Mary Rita together: Jeremiah: Right. Mary Rita: He got it!
Jeremiah: Yes, this process of learning to navigate on water was slow. This process of changing the center to Jerusalem took about two thousand years, very slow. Over time, it solidly became Jerusalem. Jerusalem had the information network among the fishermen on one side of the mountains, and the caravans route by the Dead Sea on the other side of the mountains.
Mary Rita: And, Michael, when this center was finally moved, they moved everything, all the secrets at once. The money, gold… and the heirs, those in line to inherit. They moved the banking and banking records. That entire move was recorded in the Book Of Ezra in the Bible. This is real history not understood. When you read that part, Book of Ezra, notice what emphasis they had on records and how they did such things as make sure those moving from Babylon to Jerusalem did not marry outside the group, outside the trusts. Banking again. The Book Of Ezra is entirely a banking move. And it is amazing that, except for the very tippy tippy top of society, this is never ever taught! Ooooooooh, yes. (Mary Rita now gets up and moves her drink back and forth rhythmically). The records. They moved the secrets. Michael, there is a little book. Old old old, but kept up to date. It is who controlled these trusts going back, and who would be in line for them. Possible heirs. Do you understand?
Jeremiah: (Looks at Mary Rita and frowns. Then to Michael) Sick little book. But let us stick to the mapmaker’s baseline. This is sometimes called the Mystery of Babylon. Sometimes the mapmaker’s baseline of history. What it does is give the important information first, the big outline, so you know how to file the rest of history.
Mary Rita: And always taught at the very top, always, but never to the people.
Jeremiah: Now, after Jerusalem, which direction would this move? This line of information centers that world banking would follow?
Michael: Well, it would have to be west. Can’t go the other way.
Jeremiah: Generally west. West overall. Next center an island, the isle of Rhodes. Sort of passes over Cyprus - Crete.
Mary Rita: Though ‘bell ringers’ there too. ‘Bell ringer’ is a phrase meaning someone who is taught these secrets, are in the know, and can warn of war. Warners.
Jeremiah: And next more west to Rome, a seaport protected on the western side of the boot. At first Rome had trouble with both the prior information centers, Rhodes and Jerusalem. But Rome won out. A long lasting empire.
Michael: What about Greece?
Jeremiah: Good. Our history, with isolated examples, hangs together. History tells us little when we don’t keep going back to the larger picture. A history of England by itself, though it will show what wars fought, say with France, still most always does not refer to the larger picture. I say this because England is one of the prime exceptions that prove the mapmaker’s baseline or mystery of Babylon. Greece had high organizational skills, for a moment conquered a portion of the globe. It was near Rhodes, but not ever the center itself. Okay, we have a long period with Rome as the center. And after the Islamic expansion Rhodes again became more important. Almost slipped backward as Islam spread quickly from Africa to China, and some by sea to West Africa. But the larger information centers still Rome and a bit Rhodes. The next information center, through the crusades, was another island. Which one?
Michael: Going West, lets see. Corsica, forgot the one near it.
Jeremiah: Think of sardines. Ummm. Good. I threw you off. It goes back a tad East. Malta. All through the crusades it was the small island of Malta. But at this time the Muslims and were already sailing south toward Africa which Portugal continued. So there was combining of intelligence there already, Catholic and Muslim, before we really started worldwide sailing.I am speaking Lisbon. Portugal. So as we hit blue water the next world information center became Lisbon. In the fourteen hundreds, Henry the Navigator and such, Lisbon was the center of the world, Scandinavians mixing with Blacks from darkest Africa. So some information was starting to come also around the bottom of Africa. Which cape?
Michael: Good Hope. Cape of Good Hope.
Jeremiah: Good, and very soon information would start to come around South America too. Information from the Far East. The center moves from Lisbon to the Azores as this trade became significant. But what is the line of information centers so far. Name them.
Michael: Babylon. Jerusalem. Rhodes. Rome. And, Okay…, next Malta. Lisbon, then the Azores.
Jeremiah: Now, as we suddenly become blue water sailors the world information center makes a big jump…, where? Let me just tell you, but sometime soon I want you to think this out by measuring this out on the globe with a string. Next the information center jumps right across the Atlantic to the island of Nantucket.
Michael: Nantucket?
Jeremiah: Yep. Nantucket. It is where the tea and whaling and even opium ships would stop and trade information, sort of, well… not sort of but a real exclusive, secret mailing center among the sea captains and merchants. But it could not stay there long. The sandbar built up. They had to move it to another island, close by, Martha’s Vineyard.
Mary Rita: And the Vineyard also had good water to fill the barrels. The little harbor they used was called Holmes Hole, now it is Vineyard Haven. Perfect, right off the sea-lanes and easy for coastal packet ships too.
Michael: Oh, that’s why Dad keeps saying, “Your Island.”
Mary Rita: Both islands, Michael. Connected to both.
Jeremiah: Whaling took ships all over the world. Now this was before the canals, the Suez and Panama. The canals changed the sea lanes. Often the banking center is not right at the information center. That needed a city. Boston became the new banking center and….
Mary Rita: And center for blue bloods…. (She laughs)
Michael: But Wall Street is in New York….
Jeremiah: Exactly, very good. The canals, not just the Suez and Panama but the water canals from the Great Lakes…, and the railroads, this changed things.
Mary Rita: And this is why the insider news-people still hang out on the Vineyard. They confab there during the summer. That post office, was secret. Private, very private. And much of the control over it came from the Luce family, mapmakers and navigators.
Michael: Henry Luce?
Mary Rita and Jeremiah together: Yep. (They both look stage left then back. Then Michael looks stage left.)
Michael: Luce came from the Vineyard.
Jeremiah: From those family connections. Luce was born in central China. Near Chung King. Missionary family. But he was taught this central information, like we are teaching you. And used that information to build Time Magazine. Knowing the big picture he knew where to fit the small pieces.
Michael: Missionary Family…? Were they spies?
Jeremiah and Mary Rita speak at the same time. Jeremiah: No. Mary Rita. Yes. (All laugh)
Michael: So they were. (Mary Rita laughs. Jeremiah rolls his eyes in a fun way.)
Jeremiah: …So the banking moved to Wall Street, yes. You will start to notice the exceptions, and how things roll off of the mapmakers baseline. In fact, where they put in the first underwater cable to Europe they split the difference between Boston and New York. It went from Sayville, Long Island. And, remember that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend…? Well…they bypassed England and the cable to Europe went to Germany first, Hamburg….
Mary Rita: (Laughing and waving off Jeremiah to interrupt.) Yes, yes, yes. (Now she puts her nose in the air and imitates a snotty upper class voice) The Haaaaaamptons. Yes, the Hamptons, South Hampton and the rest. Near to Sayville, but on the beach. See the upper crust gather around the information. They gather around others in the know. But most of them don’t know the real geographic reason, the information, just the tippy tippy top. Just the very tippy tippy top know. Most all just know it is an ‘in’ spot. Like the Vineyard. Many rich and important people gather there. Few really know why the place became an ‘in’ place. Jere, isn’t that were the navy often kept Einstein? In Sayville? Yes, in Dr. Moore’s cottage. Talking right to Germany. Bastards! Not for talking, but how they treated him.
Michael: Huh…?
Jeremiah: (Sharply) Let me finish the baseline. Okay. What is the biggest exception to the line? But first, what were the centers again.
Michael: Okaaaaaaaaaay. Babylon. Jerusalem. Rhodes. Rome. Malta. And, okay, next Lisbon, 1400s. Then the Azores. Then Nantucket, sand bar built up, Martha’s Vineyard.
Mary Rita: And there are even markers, Michael. Lisbon Antiqua. Fatima is a small place, not that far from Lisbon. Why named Fatima?
And at Galipoli…. You’ll see them.
Jeremiah: Rita…, you didn’t…?
Mary Rita: (Staring off and sighing) No, Jere. I didn’t.
Jeremiah: Okay, biggest exception in history?
Michael: Exception? (He shrugs)
Jeremiah: Well… what little island almost ruled the world?
Michael: Yeah. England. Wouldn’t that be on the mapmaker’s baseline?
Jeremiah: In a sense, just off the baseline. But with a military, a naval advantage. They became experts at naval war. In the 1720s they also had a gunnery advantage which they tried to keep secret, and did for a time. Calculus. Only Royal Marines were allowed to become gunners. You learn the rule first, then see how and why the exceptions take place.
Mary Rita: For a long time the world was shared between England and Spain. Or England with Spain and Portugal almost working together. And we are also starting to tell you that they often worked together at the top. So you know that Martha’s Vineyard, a secret postal system there, was the center of the world, where current events would come together first during the Age of Sail, right?
Michael: Right.
Mary Rita: So who would control the newspaper on Martha’s Vineyard?
Michael: Huh…?
Mary Rita: Oh come on…., England and Spain.
Michael: Spain?
Mary Rita: That’s right, Spain. The Sanchez family for many years. Information is shared at top more than most people ever suspect. So England is a big exception. What about the Dutch? Why is Holland, now those other countries, the Hague, Belgium all such big world financial centers. Why is SHAPE and NATO there?
Jeremiah: Too complex.
Mary Rita: No it’s not…. Shows what an attitude, a policy, can do. The Dutch took a very different attitude in colonization. Remember that New York City was Dutch. They decided not to interfere militarily. If another country wanted the land, they said, fine…, we will just continue to be the bank. Or if a country wanted independence…fine.., we will just continue to be the bank. They easily gave up New York. The Dutch East Indies, much just given away, they said, have whatever government you want. Just retain our banking. But in that way they became trusted. A trusted banking intermediary. So sometimes policy can have an effect.
Jeremiah: But there were geographic elements as well. Often, because of banking a sea trade area, like Holland, will break off from a larger area like Germany. Holland is to Germany as Portugal is to Spain. And like Phoenicia was to Turkey. Phoenicia was on the western side of Turkey. And great sea traders. But here is a country that actually jumped to another location. You won’t guess where it went. Phoenicia jumped all the way across Turkey and became Armenia.
Michael Huh…?
Mary Rita: (Laughs) That’s right. They were being pressured by Turkey so they moved. All they moved were the key people and…, and … the bank. Just like the Book of Ezra where the banking and heirs were moved from Babylon to Jerusalem… and guess what…?
Michael: Okay…, what?
Mary Rita: Jerusalem, the old cities are divided into four quarters. Christian, Muslim, Jewish…, and what is the other quarter?
Michael: Phoenicia…, Armenia?
Jeremiah: That’s right. Armenia. But really traced back to old Phoenician banking, and heirs. Banking is kept secret. Few people see this. Very few. First you learn the mystery of Babylon and the ‘secret of Wu Tui’ and then you see how the exceptions roll off of it.
Michael: Secret of Wu Tui? (Pronounced Wooo Tueeee)
Jeremiah: We’ll get to that. The secret of Wu Tui is the second part of the mystery of Babylon, after the mapmaker’s baseline. You need to get the baseline first. What is it again?
Michael: Oh, I got it. I got it. Babylon, Jerusalem, Rhodes, Rome. Errrr. Malta around crusades. Jumping off to the Age of Sail it is Lisbon then the Azores. Then Nantucket. Then Martha’s Vineyard.
Mary Rita: Yes, Michael, little man. These secrets, the baseline, secret of Wu Tui… that we will get to… these are taught to children, but only a very few children. Very few. But it is best to be taught before you are learning history, not after. Then you can sort bits of history into the right place, the right file in you mind. Otherwise you learn all these tidbits and don’t know where or how to place them. I’ll give you a tidbit as to how Martha’s Vineyard got its name. Not Nantucket, but Martha’s Vineyard. Nantucket is not our island, the other one… (She laughs)
Jeremiah: Your Mother is being funny.
Mary Rita: (Looks at Jeremiah and laughs.) Yes, who was the real Martha?
Michael: Oh noooooooooo. Not more Mayflower stories.
Mary Rita: No, this is not really a Mayflower story. Can you see the islands in your mind?
Michael: No.
Jeremiah: Can you picture Cape Cod? Like an arm bent at the elbow sticking out from Massachusetts?
Michael: Yeah. Now I see it.
Jeremiah: Martha’s Vineyard is an island off the elbow. Nantucket further out to sea, north and east, more toward the level of the bent hand.
Mary Rita: Now remember. The secret postal system. The center of information and current events was moved from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard because the Nantucket sandbar built up. Couldn’t get the deep-water ships in the harbor. But it was the center until a bit past 1700. Moved to Martin’s Vineyard. I said Martin’s, M– A– R–T– I– N- S, not Martha’s. A long time before that it was called Martha’s Vineyard for a bit. The explorer Gosnold had a daughter named Martha. And it was called Trexel by the Dutch. But for many many years it was MarTINS Vineyard. The governor of the Vineyard, Mayhew, was then vying for support from two banking interests. And with this he was writing two English Dukes, Duke of York and the Duke of Lancaster. One had more Dutch than English banking connections. So… when Mayhew would write one Duke he would call the Vineyard Martin’s Vineyard. And the other Duke he would call the island Martha’s Vineyard. Always get mixed up as to who represented which. Remember, the Mayflower spent some time in Holland first.
Michael: Told you. (Laughs)
Mary Rita: Nooooo, not more Mayflower. This is a new story. Okay, this governor Mayhew wanted to give a clear signal to European banking that if I am not going to get money from one source, I will get it from another. So…, he signed his letters Martin’s Vineyard to one Duke and Martha’s Vineyard to the other. But this was a brand new Martha. Well, new then. This was a girl… (Mary Rita gives a bawdy laugh)…who sleeps her way to the top. She marries a Swedish Dragoon when she is only sixteen. A peasant girl. A caaaaaamp follower…., (Giggles.)
Jeremiah. Rita!
Mary Rita: (Laughs.) Oh, hush…. Then she gets involved with Field Marshal Mensnakiov. Then… then…then… she marries Peter, Peter the Great. In that marriage her name was changed to Catherine. When Peter died she became Catherine the First.
Michael: Catherine the Great?
Jeremiah: No, that was Catherine the Second. Let me get in here, because there is a rule. Michael, what was the meaning of that signal, giving two names?
Michael: Mom just said, if not you, the other. The money.
Jeremiah: Right, and Dutch money was more connected with Russia. The enemy of my enemy again. And who is in geographically in line. See Holland then more aligned with Russia. There was an English admiral, Nelson, not the Nelson another, making problems for Russia in the Baltic. Later, from Martha’s Vineyard, we sent John Paul Jones to the second Catherine, Catherine the Great, to reorganize the Russian navy. He fought with Russia against the Turks in the Black Sea. John Paul Jones could be called the father of the modern Russian navy. (Jeremiah laughs).
Michael: That’s not in my John Paul Jones book….
(Jeremiah and Mary Rita laugh)
Mary Rita: I doubt it would be! There is much joking at the top, but serious joking. Martha was just a peasant girl. What other woman in history went right from the bottom to the top? So, they would kid about this. But she was sooooome woman. Not pampered. She would go to war with Peter, even tend the wounded. But the point we are making is that first, well very few know these things, and of the few of those that do know, for example this tidbit about the real Martha, they don’t know how to place the information to get the real meaning. Always go back to the mapmaker’s baseline and start reasoning from there. Remember I said that the whole Book of Ezra was about moving the bank from Babylon to Jerusalem?
Michael: Yep. Listed the heirs and the amounts. And no one should marry outside the group.
Mary Rita: Right, least it dilute the trusts. Keep the money in the big family. So, as Dad said, banking follows information. Usually there is a fight. A tussle between the old center and the new center. For a long time the power shifted back and forth between Babylon and Jerusalem. I want to make a comparison between the move from Babylon to Jerusalam, the start of the mystery of Babylon, and power coming to the new world. Again there were tussles back and forth. So Ezra is one book in the Bible about this, and there is another… Daniel, the Book of Daniel.
Michael I read it.
Mary Rita: Good. But I want to focus more on the practical, geography and guns and money aspect and how it relates to information. Daniel was a prisoner in Babylon, right.
Michael: Right.
Jeremiah: You can go into the Bible, I’m going for more wood. (Jeremiah puts on his coat and exits stage right)
Mary Rita: Michael, Dad is down on religion and I tend to agree. All the ministers and preachers and priests tend to ignore the very practical history of the Bible. Why the mystery of Babylon is right before their eyes and they ignore it because they have not been taught like this. You need to be told. I was. Listen. Daniel was a prisoner in Babylon, sort of under house arrest. Why did they not harm him and his friends?
Michael (Shrugs) I don’t know, why?
Mary Rita: Because he was from where? What did he have?
Michael: Jerusalem. Oh, he knew what was going on.
Jeremiah: (Enters with a few logs from stage right) Thank God I piled more wood under the carport. Where are we, with the lions?
Mary Rita: (Laughs) No. No lions yet. Later. Okay, this is the simple story the ministers don’t see: He is under house arrest because he knows what is going on in the new information center. The Babylonian king dares not harm him, he is a source of information. The fires that his friends were in, may have been real, but they were in the fires of interrogation for sure. The Babylonian king was rightfully worried about power moving to the new information center. Others around the king, the court, began to see that Daniel was right, the new information center would become Jerusalem. A rebellion was cooking.
Michael: Yes, God wrote on the wall.
Jeremiah and Mary Rita: (Both laugh.)
Mary Rita: Well, someone wrote on the wall. With God directing perhaps…, or who knows. Someone wrote….
Jeremiah: Vox Populi, vox Dio.
Michael: Huh…?
Mary Rita: That’s Latin. Means the voice of the people is the voice of God. But someone wrote, wrote that the King was found wanting and that his kingdom would be divided into four parts.
Jeremiah: Better than I thought. Michael, why was the King found wanting. And why was the Kingdom divided into four parts, not two or three or five?
Michael: Because with the sea information combined with the camel information Jerusalem knew more…, had more information. Four parts? Don’t know.
Jeremiah: Wonderful. You got it. You are catching on. Next time you look at the globe you will see it. As Babylon decreases as information center the power would split by geography. One part more toward Syria, one part more toward Afghanistan, one part more toward Turkey and Persia would become a separate kingdom also. It is right there in the geography. Whoever wrote on the wall could read the maps. When was this written in the course of the rebellion, at the start, or the very last minute?
Michael: Huh?
Mary Rita: Who is being obscure and going off on tangents now? (Laughs)
Jeremiah: (Laughs)At the last minute. The handwriting on the wall would be toward the end. It was a rebellion. If it was early the king could take measures. At the last minute it was a check. They could check reactions. If someone would say, “Who said that, they should be killed” they could not be trusted. If someone said, “Finally, this king is dangerous”, they could be trusted.. Don’t worry. You’ll see that in time.
Mary Rita: As to who wrote it, (Laughs), well…, we’ll just blame God. Okay…. We want you to see that the same things that went on between Babylon and Jerusalem were going on between Europe and the New World. England became a center just off the Babylon line with a naval advantage. They, and the rest of Europe, began to see a colony, with the Nantucket-Vineyard post office getting news first. They started investing and the smarter families, the Cabots and the Lodges, that crowd, started to move to the new world in the very same manner that the wise people moved from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Jeremiah: And that in both cases there was difficulty in the move. Resentment from the old center trying to retain power. And that a main difficulty, an inside factor never discussed, in our American Revolution.
Mary Rita: A tussle that continued into the War of 1812.
Jeremiah: Where, as the Constitution sunk the Gerrier, we showed them we could have a navy too. Okay, so again. Always look at the Babylon line first, which is….yes, again….
Michael Babylon, Jerusalem, Rhodes, Rome, Malta, Lisbon, the Azores, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard. Got it.
Jeremiah: So take our Constitution sinking the Gerrier. Like first see Nantucket and the Vineyard, Banking Boston to New York as a move like from Babylon to Jerusalem. The main old center was off the Babylon line but with a naval advantage became a center, England. Some of the gunnery secrets came to the new world. Information again. Banking would follow information, follow the power. Always go back, in every area of history where you have a question, and reason from the Babylon line first. If an exception, why… etcetera. The most important thing is never taught.
Michael: Why not?
Mary Rita: Power, Michael. It is money power that controls what is taught in schools and what is in the news. Few know this. It is too bad. But it is. What is so astounding is that once explained it is so simple, so logical. As you grow older you will forget for a time. You will be more interested in girls and such. But later, you may remember.
Michael: I won’t
Mary Rita: Oh, you will forget for a time. Always happens. It went out of my mind for years, thought it childish silliness. But then it came back.
Michael: I won’t.
Mary Rita: You will. You will put it out of your mind for a time. Now you may think that this Babylon line, or mapmaker’s baseline, is too far back in history in the age of telephones and radio and such. At first, it does not seem to apply to the present. But it does. Money roots. It takes hold. Remember about power shifting back and forth between Babylon and Jerusalem? And between the United States and Britain? That took a long time. This is still the first thing to understand when you look at history or politics. Just remember, money roots. You will forget. It will be baseball, then girls. I know.
Michael: Babylon, Rhodes, Rome, Malta, Lisbon, the Azores, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard. I won’t forget.
Mary Rita: You will. But now it gets better. We’ve just started. It was I who taught the mystery of Babylon to your father. I tried to teach him other parts too. It was a perfect setting by a campfire on the Gaspe. Just like tonight, but here we are camping out in the living room. But perfect. Perfect. The next part your Father couldn’t do, but you will.
Jeremiah: (Makes wry face) To go into the fire….
Mary Rita: Yes. (Turns and makes a serious face shaking her finger at Jeremiah) To go into the fire. Your Father says it was childish, but he was really afraid. It is not easy, Michael it can get scary. Real scary…, but it is worth it. It is a way of using imagination. Think you can do it?
Michael: I don’t know what it is.
Mary Rita: All you need to do is listen carefully to me. But we need to get closer to the fire. Give us room, Jere. Let’s get down right here. Come on. (Michael looks at Jeremiah.)
Jeremiah: (Shrugs) Try it. (Michael moves down beside Mary Rita before the fire. She pulls some pillows over. So they can both place their heads on their hands, elbows on pillows, so they are staring right over the raised hearth into the fire. Michael is on the audience side.)
Mary Rita: Get close. Now…. By witchery stitchery bibbitty boob, (She laughs) I consecrate this a special fire. A fire in line with other fires.
Michael: This is silly.
Mary Rita: But, it won’t get silly. You’ll see. I did this when I was your age, a long time ago. In a campfire outside of Iron Mountain. Remember I took you there. We went down in the old iron mine to see where they grow mushrooms?
Michael: I remember.
Mary Rita: Now just look into the fire, Michael. Look into a hot coal. You want to stare until it gets redder and redder then bursts white in your mind. We need to pick another campfire to connect to. I know just the fire. Look into the fire and listen. A young girl on Nantucket looked into a fire just like this. A special fire. She heard many of the same stories about the mystery of Babylon and the line of information. (Laughs) But at that time more about England and the Dutch. But it still was the mapmaker’s baseline, just like this. Special fire. Special girl. Her name was Abiah. Abiah Folger. She heard these stories. Nantucket was the information center then. Go back. Michael, little Abiah was taught ‘talking ships’. You know, Michael, ships do talk. They exchange information. By passing letters or with flags or with just simple shouting. (Mary Rita laughs, and then sings….) A few Nantucket women were taught ‘talking ships’, and ruled quite simply by keeping tight lips. But one was much wiser and came to real-ize that the right child such taught could give a sur-prise. (Back talking) Keep looking. Stay on one coal. Feel the Atlantic fog roll over the island. See little Abiah Folger being taught. Do you see her?
Michael: It’s not a campfire. It’s in a house. The fireplace is not straight at the top, it is round. There are pots…. Wow. There is a little girl ! And she is sitting.
Mary Rita: (She quickly turns to Jeremiah so that Michael can’t see and puts her finger to lips and waves him to shush) Yes. That’s the one. We can connect to this and connect to them all. That’s Abiah’s fire. See her being taught?
Michael: She is drawing maps on slate.
Mary Rita: Same things! She is being taught the same things.
Michael: I’m going in a blue tunnel to another fire. Feels like someone is beside me. I can see a pig tied up. The fireplace is stone, roundish on the inside. It feels Chinese. I don’t know why. (Michael sits up.) Hey, wasn’t I supposed to be told the secret of Wu Tui?
Mary Rita: That’s right. Pretty smart fires, right? (She glances at Jeremiah.) They reminded us. I’ll let Jere do Wu Tui and we will get back to our fires. (She leans back and looks at Jeremiah.) All yours, dear.
Jeremiah: This is a test of logic, Michael. See if you can figure it out. Again it is about information. The empire of China and the empire of Rome started to connect along the Silk Road through Afghanistan. Now we have two empires really connecting with many small kingdoms between them. Right about the year one, some say year four, 4 AD, somewhere close to that….
Mary Rita: I’d guess exactly year one. Too much a dramatic fit….
Jeremiah: (Laughs.) Fine. Somewhere there, the Emperor of China, Wu Tui, two words, W-U and T-U-I, sent a secret message to Ceasar the Emperor of Rome. The test in logic is…, what is the secret? You can reason it out.
Michael: What’s the secret…?
Jeremiah: Okay, think of all the stars out there. Let us say that there are planets and other life out there. And somewhere there is a planet where there are two empires on two sides of it with many kingdoms between them. Soon after they connect one empire sends a secret message to the other. Michael, what is the very best secret they could have? Think of the rules?
Michael: (Looks puzzled) Rule? Which one?
Jeremiah: The en…e….
Michael: The enemy of my enemy is my friend…. Okay?
Jeremiah: Well, think of all the kingdoms between those empires? If they are suddenly enemy of one of them…, would they think that the other might be their friend and share secrets, even military secrets with them…, thinking the other empire won’t know. What is the very best secret these empires could have?
Michael: They share…
Jeremiah: Right, they, these two empires, pretend to be enemies but be very secret friends. This way we, at the top, in secret, will know everything. Clever.
Mary Rita: And the two empires, the Chinese and wherever Rome move to, must be careful that the others don’t see this.
Michael: Yeah. That is a neat secret. Wow.
Jeremiah: Yes. You might call it ‘neat’ (Laughs) Next you need to see that the Roman side of this moved. That secret deal between the Roman emperor and China’s Wu Tui stayed with the information center as it moved westward. Meaning that this secret stayed with the westward power, it went to Malta, Lisbon and London. Then over to the New World.
Mary Rita: They had to be careful as to how the information was used as to not give it away. Often then had to pretend they did not know things that they did.
Jeremiah: And the atomic bomb made this deal even more important. But every once in a while there is a window where you can see in. Our invasion of Inchon during the Korean Conflict was such a window. Why didn’t China deploy her navy then? This confuses most good historians. All you need know now is that there are times you can see this if you read the news carefully. And that communism did not change this.
Mary Rita: Now that you know, you will see it in time. Lets go back to the fires. Come down here again. (They reposition themselves so they are looking into the fire, Michael again nearer the audience.)
Michael: I can understand. They say to each other, we are two empires apart. We will obviously develop into enemies. But as we let this develop at the same time we secretly share information at the top from those in the middle thinking they are sharing information with their friends. But that the only way to keep this secret is to be at war at times. I get it. Neat. Okay. I’ll try to get back to that Chinese fireplace.
Mary Rita: Just keep staring.
Michael: I feel someone with me again. It is a man. He has a flashlight. Must be a flashlight. It is a blue light. He is taking me back to Nantucket. Who is he?
Jeremiah: (Amused) Yes, Rita. By all means. Explain.
Mary Rita: With a flashlight? Obvious, Jere. It is the usher. We will just call him the grave Usher. (Inflection is on ‘Usher’ to make ‘grave’ more adjective Jeremiah puts his hand to his head but does not laugh out loud.) Yes, he is the (With deep dramatic voice) Graaaaaave Usher. Very smart, Michael. You waited for the usher. Your father never does that. That is why we always end up sitting behind tall people with fat heads. Ooooooooo, but this is the Graaaaaaave Usher.
Jeremiah: What is this? Another poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Mary Rita: (Sits up and wags her finger at Jeremiah.) Yes, dear. Another Nation’s Destiny. A lost work by Coleridge. Found it in our closet. We’ll be rich. You are just jealous cause you couldn’t do this. Shush.
Michael: It’s the same house. She is drawing on the slate. I can’t see. Oh…. I think she drew Europe. That must be Iceland. She is turning the slate over. Wow, that is the Mediterranean. Wow, it is the same thing. Jerusalem, Rhodes, Malta and Lisbon are chalked in white. She can’t spell. Rhodes is R-O-A-D –E –S. Wow. She is learning the same things. (Michael sits up and turns to Jeremiah) Why aren’t we taught this in school?
Jeremiah: (Crosses his arms.) Your Mother will explain….
Michael: Last week, when you said you would soon tell me the Mystery of Babylon you said it was obvious when told. What was it…? Axiomatic. That they explain themselves. Why isn’t this in school?
Mary Rita: (Sits up too and reaches for her drink.) Many, maybe too many, of the few who are taught this don’t want it known. It is the power, the money, the control. In a minute you will see some of those fires too. Dark Fires. You will even begin to feel why. You will feel two things, Michael. You will feel a dark center, and a Golden Ring around the dark center. The dark center is selfish. Those without ideals or feelings for others. It is the Golden Ring on the outside which moves history for the better. Abiah will teach Ben Franklin. You will see.
Jeremiah: Find the errors too in the baseline. There always are.
Mary Rita: Yes, Michael, it is sort of a trick. The principle is given. And whoever is told must work it out from there. When Jere, Dad, worked this out with string he didn’t see Nantucket at first. A large factor was the whaling. You know, Michael, whales were all over the world. But no one in the old world ever thought they could be hunted and killed. They thought it impossible. Not until white man came to the islands, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and saw the Indians do it. And they did this without iron or steel!
Michael: So whaling started here…?
Jeremiah: Yes….
Mary Rita: The Indians on the Vineyard were special. They were more Eskimo, came down from the north where you either killed or ate, or were eaten. And polar bears didn’t even throttle their kill, they eat alive. So they were very strong and brave and learned to hunt whale. That industry helped make the Nantucket and Vineyard center.
Jeremiah: Mistakes are given, mistakes deliberately made, every time the mystery of Babylon is passed, so that those who can’t reason it out pass on something that does not add up. So we keep with tradition. There are some deliberate mistakes in what we are telling you. But you will know enough of geography to figure it out. The mystery of Babylon is a series of interrelated principles. A few hints…: look at commercial sea lanes. Always pay attention to islands because often information gets dispersed. On an island everything is grouped together and people can figure things out. You know where the Straits of Malacca are, right?
Michael: No.
Jeremiah: (Sharply)Oh, Michael, this you should know by now….! (Back normal.) This is the water passage, the sea-lane, between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, in Indonesia, or old Dutch East Indies. Look it up tomorrow. I’ll test you. At any rate, on the Indian Ocean side there is a line, archipelago, of islands called the Andamans. They sit outside the strait. They are owned by India, have been for ages, and are called the ‘sacred islands’. Why would India consider them sacred or special…? Think….
Michael: (There is a pause.) Information. Must be information.
Jeremiah: You got it. Exactly. Of course. Seamen would stop there. There would be talk. But on an island that talk did not get dispersed. People could put a picture together. See who might war on who, etc. Remember, this strait the main passage between two oceans.
Mary Rita: Barbados.
Jeremiah: Caribbean island. Much inner Negro banking. A minor center, but a center.
Mary Rita: Michael, here is where they rewrite history. Many, a good many, of the navigators in the Age Of Sail were Negro. Many directly from Africa. Or mixed, Negro and Portuguese. Di Silva was the navigator for Sir Francis Drake. And many in the whaling days. They were taught a special way of navigating called the Portuguese ‘rutter’. Not rudder, but rutter, R-U-T-T-E-R. A Portugee sun-net. A classification of twelves, everything was put in a file, color of the water, the clouds. (Mary Rita laughs, then sings…) The rutter’s lines are four times three. / The sun-nets of the Portugee. / He oft times went off to fish. / And left on shore his heart’s won dish. / She so sprightly hedged all bets. / Fished too, on shore. With cast – a - nets. (She laughs).
Jeremiah: That is true. Trigonometry was not very accurate up until the early eighteen hundreds when an American named Bowditch straightened out the trig tables. And true that many of the navigators were Negro and we just don’t acknowledge that now. But they also in the whaling. And much of that old money is centered on Barbados. This is relatively minor. The point is that history rolls off a central line of power that moved west.
Mary Rita: Yes, to choose these navigators, the boys to be trained, we had the priests choose them…, cull them…, sort them out from the rest on the islands off of West Africa. And guess what we had the African priests check?
Michael: I donno.
Mary Rita: Teeth.
Jeremiah: (Eyes rolling) Oh, really, Rita….
Mary Rita: (Sitting up and turning.) Ooooooh, I don’t know, do I? Yes, they wanted them from special tribes. One was Dogon or Dog Star or something. You can see genetics from teeth, the stories make sense too.
Jeremiah: Too much for me. And you’ve had enough too.
Mary Rita: (Sticks out her tongue, gets up and reaches for his glass) I think you need refreshing, Jere…?
Jeremiah: (Pulls his glass back) I’m fine… Okay. Sorry, (Hands her his glass) Yes. Please.
Mary Rita: (Talking while going to kitchen refreshing drink and returning.) Why isn’t this taught, Michael? Let us put it this way. It is for the same reason that banking is secret. You’ll understand in time. You might try to tell people. They might think it cute, or silly, or even good – very wise. They might remember for ten minutes. But still, few will know. Most people are emotionally bonded by money. Nothing bonds like money. They don’t know this, have no way to reason it out…. But somewhere up the line of the money they are bonded to…, this, the mystery of Babylon, is known. But you want everyone to know. That is an ideal. What does that mean? Ideal?
Michael: Perfect? Like it should be?
Mary Rita: Yes, and you will have ideals. But it also means I – deal. Or, I must make it work. I… deal. To think of making something better, and not trying to do it… Well, it can turn into sort of an excuse. Such as, “Oh I have such wonderful feelings. Aren’t I such a goody-goody. But I won’t risk anything to make the ideal an I – deal. I’ll just feel about it all for having the right thought…, the right notions.” Worse than useless. Worse because you admit you know the right thing. Here is your very very red Johnny Walker, my dear. (Hands Jerry his scotch and water.)
Jeremiah: Thanks. Watch you don’t spill yours….
Mary Rita: (Rocking her gin and tonic in front of Jere) Spill, spill spill. Something will be spilt . Spilt blood and beans or just blood alone. Spilling blood alone is the shame to be damned.
Michael: Huh…?
Jeremiah: Your Mother is just becoming a diplomat. Forget it.
Mary Rita: Oh, yes, the electric is off. How awful. We are left out in the cold cold cold. And yes, it is cold. Awful to be left in the cold. But the fire is atom splitting hot. Hot, hot, hot.
Jeremiah: (Sitting back and turning his head away.) You were going with Michael into the fire if I remember. (Gives Mary Rita a quick sharp glance)
Mary Rita: (Looking at Jeremiah then Michael) Michael, freedom of speech is new. And it is an ideal. Those at top, and by this I mean financial control, not just governments, still don’t like it. They pay it lip service. They counter this by having the public talk about unreal or unimportant things. While they keep the real Pass & Stow at another level to themselves. What good is freedom of speech if you don’t know the real issues? What’s the matter?
Michael: (Getting up) I have to get my pajamas and go to the bathroom. (Michael gets up and exits stage left through kitchen.)
Mary Rita: Jere, you are just a scaredy cat.
Jeremiah: I’m terrified.
Mary Rita: You think I’m not. It’s set up for us. Why do I suddenly make contact with her after all these years? I would never say anything on the phone. She pointedly tells me she goes to every garden club meeting. Garden clubs visit other garden clubs. She said just show up as a guest. But you will be questioned by the navy too. They want to talk.
Jeremiah: You called…?
Mary Rita: Nothing was said on the phone…
Jeremiah: (Hands over face.) My God ! (Lights fade in living room.)
Michael: (Comes through the kitchen with a large globe and walks toward audience. There is a burst of blue spot changing to normal) I’ll figure it out. The Sputnik hasn’t even gone up yet. That’s years from now. In about a month the Army McCarthy Hearings will start. Mom will move the television to the kitchen. (Pause) Myths. Created myths. You see, we had to work with the commies. Atomic bombs were too dangerous. We just didn’t make the deals legal. Sad but true. And they had to deal with what was. How would you keep a deal like this? Uncle Joe, Mao, Luce? You needed a check. How? So the real agreement was this…: If in any country, if atomic bombs were being talked about, actual use, then one country would share all the particulars with the other two. Say some Russian general started talking about really using it. Uncle Joe, now Khrushchev, would tell us and tell us how he is handling it. China doesn’t have the bomb yet. But we know they soon will. They are not that hard to make. As to A-bombing other countries, outside the deal, Like Dien Bien Phu? I don’t know. This deal will become the real secret glue of international politics. (Lifts up globe) Whose is this? (Michael puts the globe behind his back.) Later I will figure out that parts of the military will know, parts not. Later Ike will warn about the ‘military industrial complex’. It is really the ‘media-military-industrial complex’. International media is to a great extent the real government. But they will keep you believing they are outside, charging at government like some white knight. (Michael moves the globe behind his back so that the globe starts to peek out at the audience.) Greater international cooperation between the militaries, not going through the media club…. Well….that would be a threat to them, right? Mom is smart. She said…, “Michael, any time someone says that something is ‘inappropriate’, always try to find out why. Often it is not the first or second answer you receive. You know what the media said about Admiral Boorda’s almost speech at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy? Headline, (Holds globe with one hand, makes quotes with other.) “Highly Inappropriate For High Ranking Naval Officer To Speak At Maritime Academy.” Why? With a bullet in his heart he never made it. They will have you all wondering in the future who shot J.R. Who shot Mike Boorda? (Long pause) Inappropriate? There are two parts to military intelligence. Capability and intent. Cabability is not a question in the atomic issue. Only intent. What would be the greatest threat to those holding the secret glue? It would be a separate international military check on intent, right? Oh, well, spring will come. Dien Bien Phu will fall. And my favorite. My real favorite. Dodger short stop, Pee Wee Reese. You see, on the whole, McCarthy was right. There weren’t all these commies. But many in State and in military, and of course media, had to secretly work with them. (Michael takes the globe to his front, turns and studies it a moment.) Some saw this real danger and wanted the safety ring bigger. The real navy. Our most beloved mustang. The world safer. Ask Betty Boorda. Yes, rose hips, rose hips…, all over Cape Cod. They came from China. I remember. I remember. I remember. I remember another of Abiah’s songs…. (Michael sings.) Listen, my children, put finger to lips. / Our rose is from China, the rose of rose hips. / This rose is the secret from old Emperor Wu Tui. / The secret of wars keep apart you and me. / But high in the clouds where the old sailors walk, / They wait for a day when a new China Talks.


End of Act I

I N T E R M I S S I O N .
Act Two

Mystery Babylon

(The living room, stage right, has transformed into studio workspace. The back of the plywood-encased stove, that faces the living room has a portion that folds down into an artist’s drawing board. The chair that was there is moved out of sight behind the stove toward back of stage. Stage left has a small bed that can be pulled out from the table. Michael is asleep in pajamas stage left on bed. Jeremiah is at the drawing board, pajamas and bathrobe. There is an artists airbrush on the drawing board and portions of a map. Also a T-square, a small ink bottle size container and a small pointed paintbrush. Jeremiah from time to time fills the little container on top of the airbrush with tempra from the bottle. The airbrush is moved carefully at different angles on the drawing. The only light is a drawing lamp, the older neon type over the board. When the airbrush handle is pushed, and moved along the drawing, it makes a giant hissing sound and there is a little red light inside the brush that flashes on the drawing. Either an electric cord is with the airbrush handle or it is controlled by the lighting person. However, in any case, with each loud hiss of the airbrush and little red light, the blue spot shines upon Michael sleeping in his bead stage left. This goes on for some time. For a minute Jeremiah puts down the airbrush and adjusts the drawing, loosening the tape and turning it sideways, and aligning it with the T-square. During this time for a moment the regular spot goes on Michael asleep. He bolts up suddenly in bed and looks afraid putting his hand to mouth. The regular spot hits Michael.)
Michael: Oh. No.
( Spot off Michael goes back to sleep and Jeremiah continues with the airbrush. Again the loud hissing from the brush is timed with a blue spot on Michael. The hissing sound from the airbrush increases each time so that at the end of the last airbrush bursts it is almost too loud. Jeremiah stops the airbrush for a moment and sharpens a pencil with a small twist sharpener. Again the regular spot hits Michael. Again Michael bolts up from sleep with fear.)
Michael: Oh. No.
(Jeremiah goes back to airbrushing, the brush hiss timed again with the blue light. This continues for a time. If the audience a bit confused, fine. Mary Rita enters from stage right in nightgown and goes to Jeremiah. She turns off the drawing light and pulls him toward the bedroom, same stage right exit. As the drawing light goes off a small regular spot, not too bright, returns to sleeping Michael. He awakes with a start, starts to go back asleep again but slowly gets up. The spot increases as he moves center stage toward the audience. For a brief flash the spot changes blue then back to regular. During the next part of the monologue Michael looks as if in a trance;, arms straight and down but slightly out from the side. But three slow movements with his arms and hands are made. At “cinquedea” Michael moves as if he is starting to pull a short sword from his left hip. At “spear” he puts his right arm and hand as if holding upright spear. At “M-1 Garand rifle” he moves his hands to port-arms and back down. All movements slow, trance like, For the first part of the monologue Michael looks above, not at, audience.)
Michael: We lived far from the road. And many silent nights I would fall asleep with only the sound of my Father’s airbrush tracing, as he did through the years, the shorelines for this battle, or that campaign, in one or another war. I too would trace the shorelines in my dreams and snap into other real-as-this worlds as a blond youth holding a new light carbine and newly trained steed watching the stone banks and seven hills of Istanbul with their tall thin towers slip past the troopship in the evening mist as we slipped into the Black Sea and we slipped into a landing at Sevastopol and we slipped into a senseless charge in a forgotten valley and, casualtied, I slipped into a blacker sea and a deeper sleep again. (Pause.) I would awaken on frozen nights and know, in every minute detail, as if I had done this a thousand times, exactly how to pad and tie and blind a war horse to be lifted over the gunnels of a trireme using the oars as both ramp and lever. (Pause) I have been in dreams so varied that I have almost believed that I have with cinquedea or spear or M-1 Garand rifle assaulted Sicily’s dappled shores with the morning sun at my right, my left, and my back: that I may have even, hauling at a line with black bleeding feet, been the breath from Hannibal’s father.
(Long pause, and seems to come awake to audience.)
Dreams so real. Mother said I would forget what I was taught, that she forgot for many years. I would. In a few years, when I started to think more of girls, a funny thing happened. My parents became stupid. (Laughs.) Didn’t yours? It was like being between two magnets. The magnet of what my parents taught. I would much later call that ‘ruler perspective’ And the other magnet, the magnet of mass media and friends and teachers. Mass perspective. I would, for years, go back believing as you. My parents will soon pass the decision to use an A-bomb to the Soviets. It hurt them. And the marriage. After, for a few years before puberty, they would tell me bits more of how to read a newspaper. But the other conversations were light. There was a giant silence. Only once did I see something else going on. I was home on leave from the Army. It was the New Year’s Eve of 63 going into 64. There was a party in Pound Ridge at Harry and Gertrude Twine’s. Big party, parents and teenagers. Something was brewing and I could see that they would have an important talk with a guest. They were preparing for it in whispers. Something that would be light in conversation was important. Whatever it was I could feel the tension. But they would not let me in on it. Many years would go by with no interest in politics.
(Michael walks right up to the edge of the stage.)
You do need to be told. I was. My Father will hint some things on his deathbed. I will think it delirium. But two years later it started to happen. March 15th 1984 was dangerous. I too found myself in the same plutonium of that golden donut. And shortly later… Well, there is microfiche. Front page of the New York Times, front page now…, Drew Middleton, Times military analyst, said the Secretary of the Navy attempted to place responsibility of nuclear retaliation on front line naval battle group commanders if ever the Soviets again staged large naval maneuvers without warning. What? You missed that on the front page? It simply was not discussed, no talk shows. Any hint of this in the columnists were hidden well. ‘Maneuvers without warning’? What suddenly happened to freedom of the seas? Oh, you thought there were all these cat-and-mouse games between the navies. They love you to think that. They love movies like Hunt For Red October. Truth is the games are only in well-designed playpens, war breaking by accident being far too dangerous. All so you will believe. And nuclear retaliation placed on battle group commanders? Well… that was quickly overruled by NATO. You have been told. (Michael starts to turn and walk back. He stops and turns again to the audience.) And being told you don’t need to go hunting for the Golden Donut. The fire comes to you. (Walks back toward stage left and turns in kitchen) But, back then, in 1954, those evenings I continue to learn…
(Lights go on in kitchen as Michael approaches and lights go on also stage right in the living room with Mary Rita both pacing back and forth with newspapers. There are now many more newspapers piled on the coffee table.)
Mary Rita: (Searching through paper quickly as she paces.) Stupid time to die.
Jeremiah: (Has paper folded, looking at just one section as he paces.)
Stupid time to die.
Mary Rita: (Glancing quickly to window) It’s snowing.
Jeremiah: (Quick glance too) It’s snowing.
Mary Rita: If Uncle Joe lasted just another few more months, not even until now, they never even would have considered the bomb. Too many loose ends to tie.
Jeremiah: Just wish we knew more. Were sure.
Mary Rita: How more sure can we be. Ike is demanding a coalition. He may put in troops, planes, warships without the A-bomb with just France. But with a few atomic bombs? He would at least give the appearance, if just for history, that he tried to insist the Brits be in on it. If he is covering his ass he knows it is going down. We’ve got to, Jere. If the Soviets know, they can question how any can now deal with us… And … and … put pressure on the Brits.
Jeremiah: Michael…? Michael….!
Mary Rita: God…. Don’t call him now!
Jeremiah: Odd, but sometimes he senses a billboard just from the layout. (Jeremiah spreads out paper, full broadsheet flat out on the coffee table.) Of course, this is nuts. By God, I’m asking Michael. (Loud) Nev-er Mind!
Michael: (Enters from stage left) What?
Jeremiah: Never mind now.
Michael: What never mind?
Jeremiah: (Looks at Michael a moment) Okay. I just want a first impression. Do you see a billboard or not?
Michael: (Looks over at the coffee table) This page?
Jeremiah: I just want a first impression without even reading. Yes or no.
Michael: (Takes one glance) No.
Jeremiah: (Sits and looks at Michael) That was good. You did what I wanted. What is important in this again?
(Mary Rita in somewhat mock frustration pulls hair on her head, rolls eyes.)
Michael: Agaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiin….?
Jeremiah: There is nothing like repetition. Of all the things about reading newspapers…, this is the most important…, and the very hardest to teach.
Mary Rita: (Nervously) It is not the best timing here, Jere.
Jeremiah: (To Michael) You spread the paper, why?
Michael: I know, Dad, I know.
Jeremiah: (Sternly) Why?
Michael: To look, to look, to look (Pause) What’s wrong? I know.
Jeremiah: It is the hardest thing to learn. It is the hardest thing to remember. It is the hardest thing for me to remember. Look, look, look. Don’t read. Look. Michael, it is just like boxing. Boxing is a very tiring sport. If you just start reading…. Well, you may be down for the count already. And not even know it. Newspapers should be just as tiring. If you just start reading you are lost, they got you. If you find yourself just reading, stop. Wait and start over. Like a boxer tying up an opponent because he needs a rest. Look, look, look. Tell me so I know you know.
Michael: (A bit frightened.) I know. Okay. Okaaaaaaaay. You look. Look at how the article is placed. Look at the pictures. Is there a separate message in the pictures? Is the headline a separate message? What are the editors thinking? Why of all articles this one. And why as it is placed? If I just start reading, I am taken in. I look look look before I read. I look again after. I need to be inside the editor’s head. I know already. Why are you mad?
Jeremiah: Sorry. I am more mad at myself. But, it is the hardest to learn. Sorry.
Mary Rita: A tall scotch?
Michael: Can I goooooooo ? (He is ignored so leaves stage left.)
Mary Rita: (Goes to kitchen mixes scotch) He’s gone. Jere, what are the chances of massive B-29’s?
Jeremiah: Little chance. General Giap is too well dug in. He has reinforcements for whatever he would loose. Air Force insists it can be done, but no one believes them.
Mary Rita: Jere, what is your gut feeling.
Jeremiah: Two atomic bombs.
Mary Rita: (Coming in with drinks) Go on….
Jeremiah: One will be placed just close enough to get the artillery and antiaircraft guns. Another mainly for the supplies and reinforcements.
Mary Rita: French loses with this…?
Jeremiah: Many. Will be stated as necessary. Save the present French government already on the skids. Make them and survivors heroes. But also many should survive.
Mary Rita: And civilians?
Jeremiah: Who knows. The thinking is General Giap has not evacuated them, insurance that we will look bad. There is no real city, just about seventy villages. Twenty or thirty thousand perhaps. They will get it.
Mary Rita: Oh, God. They are doing it. And we need to do what we need to do. We are doing this, I have it figured out. We are going to give a double signal, really light up this ring. Giant.
Jeremiah: Huh…?
Mary Rita: Tomorrow, when we talk to the navy. Listen, I’ve got it figured out. It is not so much the particulars. You will be asked your gut feeling. They know most of the particulars.
Jeremiah: I will just tell them Giap will be A-bombed to hell, two bombs. That’s it.
Mary Rita: No, listen. We are going to light up the ring.
Jeremiah: Rita, what are you cooking up now….? (Michael enters stage left and stays in kitchen listening.)
Mary Rita: We give a mixed signal. A ‘no we won’t use A-bombs’ to the navy. A strong ‘Yes, we will’ to the Soviets. One no, one yes, and when the check goes around it will light up to a giant yes. It will be much bigger than two yeses.
Jeremiah: What? I lie to the navy…?
Mary Rita: You need to do some real acting for this. You were very concerned that they would use A-bombs. You go on and on. But you don’t think they will. That will be a no. Thursday, when we meet her. You tell the whole story in detail, that they will. That will be a ‘yes they will’ You never mention the navy. And she won’t prod you on who else. That’s not done. As this goes around the ring they get one no and one yes. And that will amount to a giant yes.
Jeremiah: You must be kidding.
Mary Rita: I’ve seen this work. Think from the other side, Jere. They will reason what we did. It will not be just a yes, but a screaming yes.
Jeremiah: Risky.
Mary Rita: Risky? I’ve got us in up to our necks here already. Only way.
Jeremiah: I’ll think about it.
Mary Rita: (Loudly) Think about it…? (Softly) A no and a yes is a giant yes.
Jeremiah: You’ve got to be kidding.
Mary Rita: (Stone faced.) Yes.
Jeremiah: What?
Mary Rita: No.
Jeremiah: Huh…? What…?
Mary Rita: See…..?
(Lights fade in living room and spot comes on Michael, blue quickly to normal.)
Michael: (To audience.) I see. Mom is real smart. Yes - yes is weak. Yes and no here is a giant yes. Communication is important. If you are old enough you remember the guy Whitworth who was helping ‘I Pledge Allegiance’ John Walker who was taking our secret codes off of aircraft carriers in the ‘Year of the spyyyyyyyyyy’ (Giggles.) Whitworth tried to turn himself into the FBI. Guess how he communicated? He put classified ads in the Los Angeles Times. And guess how he signed them?
He signed them RUS, someplace USA. Just the letters R – U- S…, RUS. Smart. He was clueing the FBI that he was trained. Communication always comes down to yes – yes. We understand. A handshake. Always a yes – yes. Where is the ultimate scary communication? (Michael picks up his bee bee gun.) Okay, let us say there is war and you are the communications signal-man at sea. There is another ship through the fog. What is the most important question? It is ‘who are you?’ Right? Okay, so it is Morse code and you get the letters one at a time. If the yes – yes is enemy than whoever fires first may win. Okay, so the first letter you get is R. What is this? Could be R as start of Russian. Could be short for A-R-E, as in Are you American. Okay, fingers are on the triggers and the next letter is U. Could be Russian, could also be the short for Are You…. Get it? So the next letter is S. Could be Are You Spanish? Or Russian. The next letter is it. It decides. Bang bang. A yes – yes. Sometimes yes – yes and you die. What do you think, (Michael points in one direction), Jolly – (Michael points in the other direction) Roger means? Of course, yes – yes. And you never hoist it before the handshake… Not until you have fired. It is all real quick. Hasty Pudding. I know. And here? Atomic war? Where do you think the real triggers are…? I mean really? (Laughs) I mean do you really think they are in some computer code football always carried by some officer next to the President? Really? No. The real triggers are kept in the only place they can be. In people. And you might be surprised at any given time what people. That can’t really be controlled. Cause it is based on trust. And checks. Mainly in the checks. So you can never ever tell. (Michael turns back to the living room, glances at Jeremiah and Mary Rita motionless with low light.) They drank, but usually only got looped on Friday nights…, Record Club. The Starkes, the Twines, the Allens, the Jacksons. But this night they got looped alone. Real looped. (Laughs.) You’ll see. (Starts to walk toward kitchen but turns back to audience.) Think. Before Colby, the CIA Director, was killed…, or accident – you figure, whatever. But he said that the international drug trade was now more powerful than any government? If this big we-won’t-A-bomb-each-other secret deal is the real political glue of this planet now…? Well, wouldn’t that trade be the perfect check? So international and secret…? Wow they got looped. But Mom is real smart.
(Michael goes through kitchen and exits left. Lights increase in living room. Jeremiah sitting, Mary Rita pacing back and forth. They are getting drunk).
Mary Rita. …And, Jere, she is such a pip. She is really such a pip. She sort of crawls out with all this gold dangling from her. She has scads and scads and scads of these paintings. I mean they are…, well, you would know, dear…, I mean really good works. And she just stands there, and anything you say is it’s “reeeeeeeally”, and “Oh, you doooooooon’t saaaaaay.” And that is the height of conversation because the next sixty things she says is just “reeeeeeaally”. Say anything, and it’s “reeeeaally”. I mean, God, tell her you just screwed the Pope, and she’d say…”reeeeallly”. You should have…. At any rate, it is all set up. Direct to the Soviets.
Jeremiah: (Laughs.) “I can’t be around them. I just can’t be around those people…. (Laughs again.)
Mary Rita: You will, (Laughs) It won’t take long. But you would have died. It’s all so funny. It is. It’s the only way of looking at it. God, I mean… look at us. (She giggles) Oh, Gaaaaaaad.
Jeremiah: This… (He laughs again) Oh, this is funny.
Mary Rita: It is, dear, we just have to know it is. Oh, can’t you just see us now. We are a pair. We – are – a – pair !
Jeremiah: I guess we are. I’ve never been…. With what we’ve been through….
Mary Rita: Jere, I mean what do you think will happen if we don’t? (Mary Rita starts laughing again.) I mean we are just in this situation. With you…, you know…. And me…. And you are just there, right there. God, I mean what would happen? And, well, we are doing something. What would happen?
Jeremiah: (He starts to giggle.) I can just see World Desk. And I can just see it. Every would-be next Chief is thinking up the damnedest things…. I can just imagine. The Time cover would be a mushroom cloud knocking over some dominos. (Laughs.) No, that’s too sick. What would they do? Whatever could it be? Oh, I got it. I got it. Just the mushroom cloud. And…, and…, over it in big black type “The Last Bomb” or “The Last Bombs”. Oh, God, I bet they would, I bet, I bet, I bet. Haaaaaaaaaaaa.
Mary Rita: :Oh, oooooh, yes, The Last Bombs. Jere, you’re right.
Jeremiah: And that would be the Time cover!
Mary Rita: Yes…. Yes…. Yeeeeeeeeees!!!!
Jeremiah …And then…, and then…, there would be six dozen meetings over the punctuation. Rita, oh, Rita…. (Now he really starts laughing) Get this…. Get this…. Yes…, get this…. It would all be over the punctuation!!! (Now Jeremiah can hardly breath. Then he stops laughing) Yes, it would. Get it? Rita, Rita, can’t you see them? I can. All sooooo somber. (He acts and talks somber with pulled in chin.) And, Rita…, Gentlemen, this is the question…. Yes, this is the question, gentlemen…, is it, …, as large type on our cover…, “The Last Bomb?”, with a question mark? Or…, or is it “The Last Bomb!” with an exclamation? (Now he starts a convulsing laugh again.)
Mary Rita: Yes, yes. Oh, you’re right. (Mary Rita starts to convulse.) “They would. Oh, my God. Can’t you just see them listing the reasons…? Yes. Every editor has to make a list. Reasons for both. And someone’s bound to say…, and someone’s bound to say…, (Imitating gruff voice again.) “We’ll, it can’t be an exclamation. That’s almost an admission. But then it can’t be a question mark. That’s too much of a threat. (Goes back to normal voice.) What would they do? Yes, yes, what would they do? Really, really, dear, what would they…. I know. I know. I know. You know too, Jere. Come on. Come on….
Jeremiah: What? What…?
Mary Rita: You know. Get it? Come on. Come on…?”
Jeremiah: What?
Mary Rita: Yes, yes, Jere. Come on. What woooooooouuld, okay, okay, Theeeeeeeey, okay, okay…, doooooooooooo?
Jeremiah: (Shrugs and giggles) No…? What…?
Mary Rita: (She makes her left hand as if she is making a headline to the left, Palm toward audience, thumb down, hand moving level horizontally.) Come on. What would theeeeeeeeeeey…., (Takes her right hand and does the same thing to the right.) okay, okay, …doooooooooooo…?
Jeremiah: No…? What…?
Mary Rita: Jere, come on…? They (Does her left hand again.) doooooooo? (Does her right hand.) They doooooooooo? (Giggles)
Jeremiah: Oh, oh, oh, of course, Theeeeeeey Woooooould….
Mary Rita and Jeremiah together: Dooooooo BOTH ! (The are laughing together.)
Mary Rita: And how, Jere, how? They couldn’t put them right together.
Jeremiah: (Laughs again.) Yes, now the meetings are in which order!
Mary Rita: On top of each other. Last Bomb, exclamation. Last Bombing, question mark (Giggles.) Which order? Which order? It has to be the question on top. Doesn’t it? Oh, God, this is funny. I can really see it.
Jeremiah: Rita, Rita, I’d put in my suggestion. And I would win. Listen: For this wonderful Time cover they put the Last Bomb with question mark sideways so it reads down. And with the type touching the other way, it’s The Last Bomb – exclamation, reading up the cover. And I’d win. (Starts convulsing.)
Mary Rita: Oh, yes, yes. Didn’t think of that. You’d win. You’d win. Oh, Jere.
Jeremiah: (More serious – thinking) Oh, Rita, what would happen?
Mary Rita: What would? (Looks into her drink.)
Jeremiah: Boy, oh boy, oh boy. I don’t know….
Mary Rita: With Uncle Joe gone…. I mean, there would be no warning possible last second to Khruschev., Mao and NATO, and probably not even that. How would they spread the blame? Oh, how do we know what is happening. And who can we talk to about this? (Starts giggling.) I mean we could just go down to the Starkes, drop in, and say guess what’s happening. Great chance for a Democrat! We got the slogan. Just need the candidate. Last bomb who, Jere? Last bomb who? Who? Last bomb Humpfree. Oh, no, there would be to many Hump – free jokes. (Laughs again, holds her chest) Oh, Jere, hand me the tonic, I hurt, I hurt.

Jeremiah: (Hands her the tonic bottle, swings over ice bucket.) ‘Fast bomb Henry’…, oh boy, oh boy, Rita, Rita, haaaaaaaaaaaa.
Mary Rita: Oh, God, Jere. If they could do anything, if we didn’t yack, what would they do?
Jeremiah: They would want to do more than troops and supply dumps. Now I need ice. Ha. What could… What could?
Mary Rita: …They bomb? (Mary Rita starts laughing again. Puts arms out.) Bweeeeeeerrrrrrrrr…. Bweeeeeeeerrrrrrrr, now here’s our plane, folks. We’re flying out to kick some ass for ol’ Henry. Bweeeeeeeerrrrrrrrr…, rat a tat tat. Spit for spat…, this for that for a tit tit tat. Oh, Jere, what could they do at max…?
Jeremiah: Booomb. Boooomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb what…? (He is grinning and tapping the coffee table with his glass.)
Mary Rita: (Gets up and starts to dance.) Bomb, bomb, bomb, bombmity bomb. Where do I drop my bomb, bomb, bomb?
Jeremiah: (Laughs and gets up too. Spreads his arms like a plane. Moves slowly around looking down from side to side.) This one. No, this one.
Mary Rita: (Continues to dance, points to Jeremiah) Booomb, Jere. Bomb. Bomb. Bomb where? Bomb wheeeeeere?
Jeremiah: (Chuckles, cackels and continues his plane.) Bombmity bomb. Bombmity bomb. Where do I drop my bomb, bomb bomb…?
Mary Rita: Where, where, where. Where bombity bomb. (Now serious) Really where, Jere? I mean besides two near Dien Bien Phu. Anywhere else?
Jeremiah: (Still flying plane.) Bombity bomb. Where. For more we would need some sort of a false flag A-bomb. Where do I drop my false flag A-Bomb. Must look real. Let’s see, bombity bomb.. Brweeeeerrrrrr.
Mary Rita: Where?
Jeremiah: (Starts to roar with laughter.) Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Yes, yes, yes. Where, Rita, where….?
Mary Rita: Where? (She is back giggling and laughing.)
Jeremiah: Oh, Rita, where do you think. Come on…. Come on. You know. You would need a giant false flag operation. A separate A-bomb from the others. Ha. I boooooooooooomb…?
Mary Rita: Where, what, Jere? Oh, God, yes. No. No… God…, it’d be….
Jeremiah: (Acting like a plane, but looking at Rita.) Okay, we false flag the first one…. You know. You know. Where, where, where? Come on…. It’d be…? It’d be…?
Mary Rita: (Starts clapping.) Yes, it’d be…. It’d be….
Jeremiah: (Stops in mid flight.) You got it…. You got it. Boooooooooomb…? Boooooomb….
Mary Rita and Jeremiah pointing at each other and together: Booomb Sai- goooooooon !
Mary Rita: (Stops laughing, is serious but totters a bit.) Oh, My God, Jere…. Would they…?
Jeremiah: (Stops, arms still as plane, but serious.) No.
Mary Rita: Sure?
Jeremiah: (Puts arms down and sits.) No…. No. You can’t have a secret deal and pull something like that. That IS out of the question. There will be two bombs. Oh, God. What are we doing…? (He stands motionless for a moment.) No!
Mary Rita: Thank God it would not be that bad. Still. I feel clean. We are doing the right thing.
Jeremiah: No.
Mary Rita: Jere, what’s wrong…?
Jeremiah: No.
Mary Rita: What is it?
Jeremiah: No, just no, no, no. No lying to the navy. No contact with the Soviets. Just no.
Mary Rita: Oh, God, what is it? We need to. Damn, what is it? Are you jealous? Is that it? What?
Jeremiah: (Still standing motionless.) Just no, no, no, no, no. I can’t.
Mary Rita: (Gets up and paces) You shut down. I can see it. You have shut down, Jere. You have locked your mind. Darling, talk, anything….
Jeremiah: Crazy. All crazy.
Mary Rita: What am I going to do? Jere, we don’t have any time. It is all set up. You can’t just put your head in the sand, Jere. Not now. We’re both drunk. I’m bringing you to bed. We can talk.
Jeremiah: (Still motionless.) Get away! You are crazy. It’s all CRAZY!
Mary Rita: Jere, think of the consequences. This isn’t just us, dear. Don’t do this. Don’t shut down. Oh…, okay. I will leave you be. We need a sober talk. (She kisses him as he is still motionless and exits stage right.)
(Jeremiah slowly sits. He looks up. Then down. Starts to sip his drink but thinks better. The blue spot comes on him. He gets up confused, pacing around with confused look, wandering toward audience.)
Jeremiah: Where am I? (He turns again, then back to audience. Blue spot increases a bit with short drone.. short pause. Loud drone. He bolts awake. Walks sober.) Oh. Well…, Sorry about before, didn’t quite have my sea legs. I know where I am now. Dead. And you? Alive? I am not that surprised. Even expected this. (Carefully inspects the audience.) Most now, I remember death. Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Michael with me. I had not seen him for many years. I’ll get to that. You want to know about 1954. Yes, I was emotionally unprepared. My Father, Irish Brooklyn attorney turned playwright. Friends of George M. Cohen. But died real young in the great flue epidemic when I was two, Mother one of his actresses from a Scranton Irish coal mining family. One of 12. Big Donovan home in Brooklyn, uncles as father’s, roofers, bricklayers, one a detective. Mother taught art in the public schools, but I went Parochial. Alter boy. The church and fine art was everything to Mother. At sixteen I very suddenly left the church. Never set another foot in the church. Today you might guess why. Then? Well, I was shocked. Wanted nothing to do with priests and never said a word. Talented, particularly in drawing, as a teen I had a locker in the Metropolitan, copied the masters. Met Mary Rita at the Art Student’s League. I wanted to be a painter, but high standards, always drew better than I painted (Laughs) We lived in the Village. War came. Served mostly as an able seaman on Atlantic Liberty ships. Fort Trumble. One last Pacific voyage as an officer. An extra. Fourth Mate! (Laughs) Family. Moved quickly to the Time maproom. So yes, I was not prepared. Status? I wanted to move up. Mary Rita wanted to move down. (Laughs) She wanted to be with a starving artist in the Village. (Serious) It was a time when Walter Winchell was even accusing the seaman’s unions of communism. I remember. (Looks up and off sighing) I wanted nothing more than to be a good American. (Now smiling, change of pace) So yes, I did move too quickly from what Michael in this history calls ‘mass perspective’ to ‘ruler perspective’. Good terms, his, not mine. And yes, the move was too fast for me. And it is of this that I warn you. There are traps. I can speak to Michael from these clouds as well as you. (Turns back and wags finger toward fireplace) Yes, Michael, you wrote something about the billboards, secret messages, in 1993. I being dead for more than a decade. (Back toward audience) Michael then commented something to the effect that if all this is done above the public’s head in the New York Times then how does Mr. Sultzberger really feel about the public? He made some remarks about Mr. Sultzberger’s seeming disdain for the public, that Mr. Suttzberger, to the public, quoting Michael, (Uses finger quotes) “…Wouldn’t waste a sneer.” (Next sentence spoken sternly, dryly.) Well, that was funny. But here is the trap…. Yes, those at the top hold a very different world-view from those who even think they are very much in the know. Still…, they…, not you, must deal with the real issues. My warning is this…: If there is madness at times from the top….. There is also the very distinct possibility of the mapmaker’s secret in the public, a madness as well. Here is your rod. Blame nothing that you can’t fix. Population? Only China has done something substantial. Dying? You weigh it all both before and after. (Points finger) Before counts most. Did I regret never dealing with, and covering a grudge, toward Mary Rita? Yes. But it was not as big as you might think. It is always the smaller things. Tiny should ofs, could ofs. Believe me. Michael came in the death room with a girlfriend I never met. He had to leave before we had time alone. I was alone with her. I with tubes and hair falling out. Both embarrassed. After some silence she giggled and asked, “Do you know what you look like?” “No !” “An old sailor,” she said. (Laughs in glee.) I am ! (Holds globe to chest and spins it round and round, now serious.) Then with Michael, Dying, I had thought the Chinese naval maneuvers would be sooner, even before Chernenko’s. First. And that was a very interesting, and telling error on my part. Tactically…, China’s naval maneuvers first would have made sense. But Chernenko knew the secret of Wu Tui, and in that did not trust China. Chernenko’s maneuvers, the Leningrad with one battle group, and three others to follow, were mid March in 84. And this without the secretly agreed warning. China’s blocking the straits was later. I see much from these clouds. Chernenko ended the Cold War game to move history forward. (He looks straight up at the blue light) Am I allowed an aside? Fine. (Turns globe and focuses on one place, taps it. Places globe at his feet. Takes one step forward. Puts hand up to audience.) You will excuse me one moment. (Makes a formal bow.) How do I do this? Dear China. Dear Mr.and Mrs. China. (Bows again.) China. Yes. I did contend that you would not be overly alarmed at two atomic bombs near Dien Bien Phu. I have watched you, going back back back and back. China never marches south, I would say. Meaning that I could see that any movements south were always feints. That, so old and wise, you know that occupations south would tend more to split your kingdom. To you I say one word that I used to clue Michael as I died. (Pause) Yalu. (Long pause, then bows again.) Advice? (Laughs) None. (Bows again, very formally, and picks up globe. Points at audience and wags his head.) Don’t blame. (Turns walks back and exits stage right.)
(Michael enters stage left with his bee bee gun crouching)
Michael: (Taking a series of firing positions with the gun.) Pitooooo. (Another position) Pitoooooooo. (Another position.) Pitooooooo. (Blue spot hits him with drone. He glances up at audience.) Oh. I trying to figure out what Mom is doing. She cooking up something big (Mary Rita enters stage left and sits at kitchen table.) The next night I heard them after they took the baby sitter home. (Michael moves to living room and fires gun stage right using the fireplace as cover. Sound of jeep. Fires another shot) Pittoooooo. (Leaves gun near fireplace and exits stage right).
Jeremiah: (Enters stage right taking off overcoat.) Where’s Michael?
Mary Rita: Invading China.
Jeremiah: Huh…? (Glances at gun.)
Mary Rita: In bed.
Jeremiah: You haven’t said much.
Mary Rita: Darling, dear, I have never been more proud of you. God. Really. You were perfect. (Imitates Jeremiah.) “I was very afraid they would. I was very afraid they would.” God, that line was perfect. The right amount of concern, the right amount of relief. Perfect. (She goes over and kisses him.) When I told you perfect in the car I meant perfect. Perfect.
Jeremiah: I hope this is right.
Mary Rita: You know it is. And, oh God, Jere, what a perfect ‘no’. Right direct to the connected Navy. That goes right to Russia. One more step and it’s over. Almost done.
Jeremiah: And you are sure…?
Mary Rita: Yes, sure. What a lovely liar. (She laughs.) Don’t worry. With the Soviets…, all we do is follow her directions. They are pros at this. We won’t be observed. Now you can be yourself. The hard part is done. We are giving a giant truth with this yes – no. You are no liar, Jere. You are my hero. Scotch?
Jeremiah: No, I’ve had it. Hope, God, I hope you are right. I’m turning in. (Exits stage left.)
(Mary Rita sees the globe in the kitchen, she picks it up)
Mary Rita: What’s this doing here? Ohhh…, This is not where it should be. (She walks directly toward audience carrying the globe. The blue spot with drone hits her. She stops. Looks from side to side confused.) What? (She takes another step toward the audience bending forward to see…She is walking a little stiff, as if older.) Is this? (Pause as she looks at the audience.) Ohhhhh, my God. (She walks back and forth stiffly not looking at the audience except for some quick intermittent glances and shaking her head. There is a certain gruffness to her voice here, different from before.) I knew it, I just knew it. Michael, you didn’t. (The blue spot shines brighter a second with a touch of drone. She looks up at the spot.) Oh.I get it. But still. (Turns back to audience. Carefully inspects audience.) You have been watching me? There?! (Nods back toward fireplace, a pause and then with a playful sneer) How rude! (This may get a laugh and Mary Rita and playfully mimics the audience.) Ha. Yes, ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. (Waits for audience). I had to be in time. I had to do it. And I had to be in time. But yoooooooooooou are alive. I’m dead. I am to do what? Defend myself here? Ha. Well, anyone who says they will have no regrets is simply lying. I had mine, quite a list in fact. Scads of regrets. (Nods back at fireplace.) But not this. 1954. I remember. Yes, I came from wealth. Edgehill, the mansion. I simply didn’t care? Affairs? Quite a few. (Looks at audience, playful sneer ) And you…? (Leans over globe to look harder. Waits. Shrugs.) Started early. Very early. Austrian Count who visited. Mid teens. Daddy arraigned an abortion through his fraternity. (Sighs, softer) He wrote me from York Beach Maine when he heard I married Jere. Remember the letter’s last line. “Whoever prevails, be it Hirohito or Roosevelt or Hitler, it will be imperial mundi, and the life we knew (Long pause.) gone forever.” (Pause, then louder.) Dilettante in everything. Tried sculpture, which is how I met Jeremiah. I did not care about money. I would marry a master I thought, so talented. So very very serious about his art. His lines. Dark Saturn lines. Yes, I did, as Jeremiah said, want to ‘move downward.’ He was more afraid of my more interesting friends in the Village. Gays, leftists, coooooooommies even. I thought it fun, suburbia a trap. But the children. I went along. Some indiscretions. But on the whole did a remarkable job, don’t judge me on the exceptions. I was at one time the president of the PTA. President of the League of Women Voters. (Laughs) President of the Pound Ridge Gaaaaaaaaarden Club. (Laughs again.) Took that all lightly. (Serious,) But not this. This may have been the one thing I did right. (Pause, points back to living room.) So there…?. (Pause) I knew I had hurt Jere. Hurt him deeply. I did everything to repair his heart. There was a wall. Many years, a few years before we both died, I separated from him. All he wanted to do was draw. Separate towns on the island, Jeremiah in Vineyard Haven, I in Edgartown. Rented rooms to college kids because they were fun. Even hung out at a bar called Lou’s Worry. Yes there were regrets at death, and yes I counted them before. . (Points back.) Not this.I knew, knew, that they would drop those atomic bombs. And I knew, knew that I must stop it. I did. Paid a price, a horrible price. (Pause.) So you know me….? (Pause, serious, forceful..) Well, I know you too. Know you very well. From the Gaaaaaaaarden Club. Ha. And…. (She stops. Looks quizzical. Begins to touch herself. Smiles) Oh. (Pause) I’m not old am I? Yes. (Struts a bit. The gruffness to her voice ends. Coquettish. ) I was just like this. (Now much lighter) And oooooooooooooooooh, what a pip I was. Where was I? Oh yeeeeeeese. I knew you then, and I know you now. At the Gaaaaaaarden Club. And why was I your president? Because I never took it seriously. Why? Because it wasn’t. And you? You demean the serious by hiding behind isms and parties and oh God, oh God, oh God…, ideals. And even hide behind God too. (Looks back at the kitchen and sighs) I remember. Soon the television will be brought to that table for the Army - McCarthy Hearings. That’s a few weeks away. (Points off stage left but slightly toward audience. Now softer. ) God, what a view we had. This side of the Reservation you could see for five miles with no houses. Fire-tower in the distance. (Back more coquettish,) I viewed those hearings quite different from you. McCarthy was right, we did work…, were working with the commies. Had to. Years before, when MacArthur was fired…, it was not as sudden as it seemed. Atomic bombs were moved first to Guam to show the bomb won’t leave with him and his corn-pipe. And it was…, (Dramatic…) theeeeeatah. How would they play loose-cannon MaCarthy? Set him up to be an ass, of course. And this allowed the press, the spymasters themselves, to dress liberal. Ha! Nehru could see the secret deal. Quipped that if it was used they would only A-bomb Asiatics. When the hearings were over the press would have it both ways. Frying Ethel and Julious was recent enough. (She bulges her eyes and makes her arms shake.) Rosenbeeer-eeer-eeer, eeergs…., eyes bulging and burning flesh. They still instilled that fear to anything on the left. (Arm with hand up way out to the left.) How more real could you make it. I had never been more scared. But theeeeeeeeeeeen, on the ooooother hand. (Switching globe moves her other arm out, hand up to the right, looks at it.) Now anyone pointing out obvious (makes quotes ) “working-with-commie” activities in the military…, or Foggy Bottom…, or, and mostly or… the press..? Well…, these can be labeled Crazy McCarthyites. Yes, yes, now they have it both ways. And I watched you at the Gaaaaaaaaarden Club lapping it all up like pet poodles. Yes, yes. And I watched you too at the Leeeeeeeeeeague of Women Voters. That was even worse. Why? You didn’t know the real issues. The power of false issues created for you had the power. Why all around me were women with husbands in the news or communications or media or Madison Avenue, all selling, selling, selling, selling ideas and never, ever, to see how much soap they had been sold themselves. This secret ‘we-won’t-nuke-each-other’ club? Hidden in the open. Secuuuuuuuurity Council…? Uh ! (She bangs her head.) Nuclear proliferation? Is that what it is called now? Wrapped in the worst connotation to scare you. You have a knee-jerk “ain’t that just aaaaaawful.” Really? Truth is the secret we-won’t-nuke-each-other deals, a secret so giant, and a secret so obvious, can only be held with a few players. To go on decade after decade after decade…, after decade, (She slows and is counting with her fingers, after her free hand is at five make a six with the hand holding the globe,) …, after decade………., yes, after decade…(Counts with her fingers again,) salting agreement after agreements that, of course, never seem to jell. The real proliferation worry is theirs, not yours. A few more in the club, particularly in the Third World, and the sick secret deal would fall apart. Eh….. Their real worry. All your smart…, sensible…, feeeeeeeelings…, and, Oh God, Ideeeeeeeals…., well…. You simply aid and abet them. But I would even teeeeeeeell you… (She dances a bit.) Politely and lightly…, can’t be tooooo serious…, that’s such a bore. Oh, and I was such fuuuuuun. But I told you….. (Pause) And what? (Pause) Well…, it was “Rita is just so smart.” Oh, and such fun. I guess it was amusing, which I was. And those times when there was a glimmer of recognition in your eyes..., well…, it was wiped clean away by the press within a week. And now you are going to do what here? A peeping-tom into one of my more difficult moments? (She turns back toward set then back at audience.) I will tell you what I told Michael. I knew he had a streak of idealism…, a strong streak. As he grew older I would teach him, by just repeating one phrase, to look at the underlying issues whenever ideals are expressed. ‘Guns and money’ I would say…, that he should always analyze that part first. (She looks back toward the set, a pause, and back to the audience.) Missile shields? (Long pause – if any giggles hold until it ends.) Michael said something about thinking when you hear, ‘inappropriate’. And to not just swallow like a breath mint at the first or second reason you hear as to why. (Points up to the spot. Smiles at audience while starting to tap on the globe. Points up again.) Up there? (Pause.) Admiral Boorda and Jeremiah are good friends. (Serious.) Ha. (Now playing cutsie.) Yes, parties on Mars are always a bit stuffy…., but we always go when that Admiral is at a party. (Change of pace, stronger.) At least the conversations are real. (Pause.) High ranking naval officer speaking at a Maritime Academy…? Inappropriate…? (Leans over globe as if taking to just one in audience.) Well, what do you think…, dear…? Implies military takeover? Military over civilian? (Pause.) That’s in the ballpark…, or at least the right gaaaaaaaarden. Warmer. Boorda some sort of spy? Mike Boorda…!? Not on your life. (Pause) Which it is. (Pause.) I’ll do this like Jeremiah taught Michael. (Pause.) Figure it out. (Long Pause.) How many atomic bombs are still being produced? Why? Well, to do something with this massive excess uranium, of course. What massive excess uranium? (Large quick drone and blue light. Mary Rita looks up, hand on hip, wry face.) Well, okaaaaaaaaay. (Drone again and she looks up at light.) I was just getting to that. Admiral. Sir. Would not forget that…, sir. (Turns now to audience and laughs. Does an overly dramatic eye batting) Us gals…, girls, heh…, in the Garden Club…, we need to talk. Just ask Betty Boorda…., daaaaaaling. (Does a girlish salute up to the blue spot.) Yes – yes, siiiiir. Unfurled. (Back to audience.) Where was I… Oh, yes, yes. Yes… How many atomic bombs are still being produced? Why? Well, to do something with this massive excess uranium, of course. What massive excess uranium? That decision in the Truman years, of course you do remember, to simply mine out the entire world supply. Well, hell, hell, hell…, that has to be paid for, right? That uranium! Had you a brain in your Gaaaarden Club head you would want as much proliferation and as quick proliferation of this as possible. Would bring the world to its senses the way it brought the major powers to their senses, but the deal would then need be open, not secret. Guns and money. And you peep in on me? You…. (She walks back and forth throwing the non globe holding hand in the air.). You…? You…? What? (Shrugs, little sneer, coquettish again and starts to walk back to the kitchen. Then turns back to audience.) Snoops ! (Mary Rita walks in the kitchen holding the globe. As she walks the blue spot increases and snaps off to regular spot. She looks at the globe in her hands.) Why is this here? (Exits behind stove to stage right)
(Michael enters stage left with his bee bee gun. He is crouching and giving hand signals as if leading men in combat.)
Michael: Move up behind the trees, Joe. I’ve got you covered. (He takes cover with the gun and, crouching, aims it stage right toward the fireplace.) Go now. (The blue spot comes on. Michael looks up but ignores it.) The rest of you stay down until I give the signal… (Blue spot comes on stronger with the drone. Michael looks up to spot again.) Okaaaaaay. (Glances at audience. Then continues the crouched fireing position with the bee bee gun. Drone again. Michael looks up and sighs. ) Okaaaaaaaaaaay. (Looks as audience still crouched and aiming with his gun.) Don’t be too hard on Mom. She just gets snippy sometimes because she’s smart. (Now stands and looks at audience.) I mean…, well…, what have you figured out? Even a kid can figure that a nuclear reactor in a warship is the dumbest place ever. Unless of course, as it is, it is insurance between superpowers with secret deals. Then it makes sense. (Takes bee bee gun and holds it by the barrel like a club in his right hand.) But what if a nuclear carrier in war is used against a Third World nation? (Places left arm as if holding a shield.) Isn’t that using nuclear power like a shield? Could be mass destruction if you fought back at it. Moot point if they don’t have the capability to attack a carrier. But soon they will. Third World people can figure that out…, that use of a nuclear you-can’t-fire-back shield is still the use of a weapon of mass destruction. Even Third World grown-ups. (Shrugs.) Oh, well. Soon Pee Wee Reese will be back playing shortstop. Always gets the out! The Dodgers will win. And I’ve got to get my men out of this. We’re behind enemy lines. Oh, and just a few nights later they got looped agaaaaaaaain. You’ll see. It was sort of a bad night. (Michael crouches back behind the stove, motions ‘keep down’ behind him. Hushed…) Joe. Joe. (Motions him back and makes like Joe came past him into kitchen. Points to stage left exit. Again hushed…) Fall back that way. Move out. (Crouching, he exits backward stage left.)
(Mary Rita enters kitchen from stage right with coat over her arm. She places it on the couch. She also has roses wrapped in paper She places her coat on the couch and goes into the kitchen with the flowers and places flowers on the table. Jeremiah enters stage right through the door with overcoat on and starts taking it off. He sees Mary Rita’s coat, grabs it and takes both through the stage right exit. They are both a bit tipsy.)
Mary Rita: Did you give Brenda a few extra dollars, dear? We were very late for a school night.
Jeremiah: (Entering from stage right) I gave her six.
Mary Rita: Oh, that’s fine. God, Babs was funny. She can talk a streak that gets funner and funnier and I don’t think she even knows what might come out of her mouth.
Jeremiah: Reminds me of someone.
Mary Rita: Oh, really? (Laughs) I guess I do. Let me just peak in Michael. (Exits stage left.)
Jeremiah: (Alone in living room.) I kept looking at Lue.
Mary Rita: (Entering from stage left.) Did you say something.
Jeremiah: I kept looking at Lue. Thinking….
Mary Rita: (Pause.) Oh. I know. Thank God we didn’t talk politics. I couldn’t have handled it tonight.
Jeremiah: A pilot. Former Air Force. What would he do…? (He stares off into the fireplace.)
Mary Rita: I was almost afraid you would ask an opinion of B-29 bombings. (Pause) Don’t compare, dear. You can’t. The Allens are not in our shoes. Only we are. We need a nightcap. He’s asleep. (Mary Rita gives Jeremiah a long look then walks to kitchen and mixes drinks.)
Jeremiah: I don’t feel good about the lie. I can’t get it out of my
Mary Rita: Jere, as it goes around, this giant yes, it will not be seen as a lie, but a giant clever scream. Keep reminding yourself of that. Tomorrow night the Soviets. It will be all over. We will have done everything we could. And done it right.
Jeremiah: (Sits on raised hearth and looks toward kitchen.) I even feel strange at times being almost the only Democrat at Time.
Mary Rita: Hersey was. You’re in damned good company.
Jeremaih: Was. (Pause.) I almost couldn’t look at Lue.
Mary Rita: Oh, Jere…, come on.
Jeremiah: It is the lie, Rita.
Mary Rita: It is a giant truth, Jere. Dear. (Pause.) Tomorrow night it will be all done. We can relax.
Jeremiah: Done?
Mary Rita: (Laughs.) Stop being morose. Tomorrow night will be relaxing too. There you simply tell the truth. Spill the guts you are feeling now. You know this can’t happen, Jere. It is just too awful. Think of the children. Think of them.
Jeremiah: (Looking down.) I need to undo the lie. Now. Before it is too late. Call them? (Glugs down half his scotch.)
Mary Rita: What? (Louder.) What!!! (Soft.) Jere, we are almost home with this….
Jeremiah: (Gulping down rest of drink.) Call them. I mean it.
Mary Rita: You’re gulping, dear. What is it?
Jeremiah: What is it? The lie. Call them.
Mary Rita: (Stands, pause.) What is wrong? You know it is not… What? Oh, my God. It is him, isn’t it. Oh, Christ. (Long pause.) Say something.
Jeremiah: Call them.
Mary Rita: Oh, my God.
Jeremiah: (Louder, wavers drunk.) CALL THEM !
Mary Rita: Jere, it’s him, isn’t it? How can I break through to you? Are you going to let that destroy you? Destroy me? Destroy Michael? Which is almost nothing compared to the destruction if we don’t act. And I mean doing this right. Lighting the damned thing up. (Pause.) Your mind is frozen up. You are trying to retreat to someplace…. I don’t know, someplace. Someplace safe. It isn’t there, Jere. It isn’t there. And it is him, isn’t it.
Jeremiah: Aaaaahhhhh. (Makes drunken toss away movement with his hand.)
Mary Rita: Say something.(Jeremiah sits in silence. Long pause.) Oh, God. You are frozen. Frozen up. Well, I don’t know what I am going to do. Guess I will talk. I’ll talk to the wall. Might as well. So what do I talk about? Of course you want to know. You aren’t saying anything. Well, he is. Yes, he is. And I guess that’s just a fact. What am I supposed to do about it? God, I can’t even help you there. So, fine, he is. So what else do you want to know? Is he fun? Oh, yes, he’s lots of fun. Better than some dried up husband who puts all his feelings on some graphite squiggling. Yes, he sure is. And of course he is rich. Rich is nice. I love to go someplace decent and not have someone frowning at their wallet under the table. And oh, ooooooooh, do we have fun.
Jeremiah: (Gruff, looking down, does a toss-away handwave.) Ahhhhhh.
Mary Rita: Stooooop…? Stoooooop…? Stoooooop…? Oh, you want me to stop do you? You know what needs to be stopped. So I won’t stoooooop. Dearest wonder-in-bed mapmaker. You can’t even find me. Can you? It is like performing some biological duty. It is like going to the bathroom to you. Christ. You don’t even look at me. You just errrrr, errrrr, oh, oh, blaaagh. Good God, lover…? And you blame me? Oh yes, it is so nice to really get it…. Get it good.
Jeremiah: Stop!
Mary Rita: You want me to stop? Stop what? I did. And what do I get? Errrrr, errrrrr, ugh. All because of children…? No, because I also love you. Very much. I should go outside and love a stone? (Long pause.) I love you. (Pause. Throws up her hands.) Oh yes, it’s really nice to be…. To get it. To get it. To have fun in bed. Uooooooo yaaaaah. It is. Uooooooooo.
Jeremiah: Stop it!
Mary Rita: Stop? Stoooooop. Uooooooo yeeeeesssss. Yes. Stoooop. Stooooop. That’s what I say with him. I never get to that point with you. It is good to be with somebody goooooooood. And, Jere, he is. That’s what you want to know, isn’t it?
Jeremiah: Stop it.
Mary Rita: Stop it? Stop it? I’ll stop it, Jere. If it is the last think I do. I will stop it. And so will you. (Long pause.) Oh, God, it is good sometimes to have somebody really good in bed. It is. So what else would bother you? Navy? Ooooooooh. That’s it too. So what am I supposed to do? Not like rich men? Not like a militaaaaaary good lay?
Jeremiah: Stop it. Stop it. (He is starting to cry.)
Mary Rita: Stop it? Stop it? I’ll stop it. So what are you going to do? Let it happen? Oh, fine, I’ll stop it. You want me to stop it? You know what else? I don’t have anyone to share with. I need to heart-to-heart share with some of the gals. I mean I am so lonely. I don’t have anyone to talk to. Not about anything intimate. I need to try a whole bunch before I find someone I’m comfortable with. I mean I never talk to Joanna, I mean not really talk. I’ve got to do something more than just dish the dirt. I mean who do I talk about my feelings with? You? (Mary Rita chortles.) I want to describe my really good lays. Then compare, compare, compare. I think I need a little comfort here. A little laughter while good ol’ snack slime Henry Luce lights up the sky with burning stink flesh. Have a little booze party. Let’s see.
Jeremiah: (In long moans.) Stop it…. Stop it…. Stop it….
Mary Rita: Oh, God, Jere. Why don’t you moan like that with me? What do you think it would do? Wrinkle up your little half handle more? Yeah, I need some good fun for the show. I know who to call. I’ll try to time it perfect. Hold n to some gold covered cap while I’m getting it backwards. A real decent lay. I want to really be getting it gooooood when it is announced in the news. I want to know that when I’m hearing that, and getting pumped real good, my giant carton of marshmallows arrives at the Time Life Building addressed to Mr. Henry Lucifer. Cook it up. Ooooo. Ahhhhhh. Ahhhhhh. Cook it up. Cook it up. Come on, laugh. (Mary Rita starts shrieking with laughter.)
Jeremiah: Stop it. (He get up and staggers and exits stage right) Stop it! (Long pause then sound of toilet flushing.)
Mary Rita. (Follows to exit and stops.) Well…? Want to talk to me? (Long pause, then louder.) Well, do you want to talk to me? (She sniggers.) Well, look at you. Quite the man. Heavens- to-Betsy. Look at you. What are you going to do? Answer me, Jere. Answer me, Jere. Don’t just look at the toilet. Answer me. You know he will drop it, you little weak bastard. Answer me. (There is a long silence.) Answer me. Answer me you little pig. I swear to heaven that I am going to stop this. Answer, answer, answer! (Softer to herself.) Oh, God, oh God. What do I do…?
Jeremiah. (From off stage) Mooooooan.
Mary Rita: (Paces back and forth.) Damn it ANSWER ! Come out and TALK. (Pause. She moves through the living room and around front of ths stove. Looks at it. Turns on a burner. Pause.) You want to burn up some God damned babies? You want to burn up some babies? (Pause.) Fine. I’ll burn ours. I’ll cook for you. I’ll cook Michael. You’ll burn them. I’ll burn him. I’ve turned the stove on. The burner is getting hot. HOT, HOT, HOT. (Pause. She exits stage left and you hear, ) Come on, Jere. Come and watch, darling. You think I won’t…? (Sounds of pounding on a door.) Get up, Pudding. I’m just going to burn your little hands….
Jeremiah: (Enters from stage right.) Rita…! Rita…! RITA !!
Mary Rita: (Enters stage left dragging Michael in pajamas. The burner is glowing red. Because of timing might need to have been turned on from off stage.) Go ahead. Call the police. Call Bill Shelling. I’ll say you got drunk and you did it.
Jeremiah: (Putting hands up.) I will.
Mary Rita (Pauses still holding Michael’s hand.) You will? Will what?
Jeremiah: Yes. (Give a little laugh through tears.) I mean ‘no’.
Mary Rita: (A little laugh in relief.) So that’s a big yes?
Jeremiah: Yes.
Mary Rita: (Pause. Then lets go of Michael’s forearm and looks at him.) Grown ups fight sometimes. I was just being dramatic. Don’t worry, Pudding. I would never hurt you. Go to bed. I’ll talk to you in the morning. (Michael exits stage left slowly.) It will be fine. I didn’t mean any of those things. You know that, Jere. I just needed to break through. I love you. I’m proud of you. I am. And I love you in bed. Except you hate to be tickled. (She reaches for him. Jeremiah is almost collapsing.) Let me help you. (They exit stage right.)
(Michael enters stage left in pajamas crying. He walks back and forth in the kitchen with the regular spot. Wipes a tear. The blue spot hits him with the drone. He looks up. Another burst of drone. He turns toward audience.)
Michael: I cried too. A little. But D.J…. And Larry…. They say their parents fight too. (Shrugs.) It wasn’t all like that. It wasn’t. I remember. I remember Pound Ridge. I even found the Leatherman’s Cave. And this…? I never told anyone. Well…, I did once. Sort of. It was in the summer. My friends…. Larry Starke and Ed Vetter. Swimming down the lane at the Starke’s pond. They kept throwing me off the dock when we were swimming. I was the smallest. I couldn’t get them to stop. So I said, “Listen, listen, listen.” They were laughing and going to throw me off again. “I think my parents are spies.” They just laughed and threw me off the dock again. They thought I was making it up. But later, walking back up the lane home…? I was scared. I said something terrible. I was scared. Real scared. But really, Pound Ridge was good. A year or so later. We all went on vacation. Rockport on Cape Ann. They were together again. We were in hurricane Carol. And some things I heard…., ‘Out of the woods.’ ‘Safe.’ ‘We did it.’ I knew. They didn’t think I knew. But I knew. Mom said I would forget the Mystery of Babylon for some years. That she did. She was right. But it came back. Just as she said. Most. Most I remember that wonderful night. It was so cold in the rest of the house. So dark. Only the stars. That’s what I think of most. (Michael very slowly walks back and exits stage left. Mary Rita and Jeremiah enter from stage right with pajamas and overcoats and flashlights.)
Mary Rita: It’s cold. Cold. Cold. Cold. Let’s fix this up.
Jeremiah: (Laughs happily.) This should keep us warm. (They take the mattress off of the couch and spread sleeping bags, Michael’s sleeping bag Mary Rita lights the kerosene lamp. The fire starts to glow again. The flashlights are off and Michael enters with the globe from stage left.)
Mary Rita: There you are. We are going to finish this. Back to Abiah’s fire….
Michael: Okay. This is neat. But I still don’t get why this isn’t told to everyone….
Mary Rita: You will slowly see why it isn’t. You might even try to.
Michael: (Puts globe down on the empty couch and goes over to the hearth.) We don’t have freedom of speech?
Mary Rita: Only as much as the real issues are known and people have the guts to talk them. And there are times it takes guts. Then you join the Golden Ring. Important information gets checked. Purified. First it gets checked by those you share it with, near you. That is in the Golden Ring near you. Then it goes all the way around and gets checked from the other side again, gaining knowledge as it goes around. That’s why it is said that spies belong to rings. Okay, let’s get back to Nantucket, to Abiah’s fire….
Michael: Needs another log.
Mary Rita: No. Just let me shake it down. Get some good hot coals for you. (Pokes fire) What a perfect night for this… Spooooky. Make it so you remember cause you will always forget for a time.
Michael: No.
Mary Rita: Yes…. What did I see on your desk? ‘I love Kathleen Lillis?’
Michael: Moooooooooom! (Pause.) You don’t understand. (Pause) I was writing I love the way she can play baseball with us.
Mary Rita: Oh. (Pause. Smiles but doesn’t laugh.) Stupid Mom. Now I understand. Okay, think you can start this again? I know you can do it. Pick a coal. Pick a big hot one. Hot, hot, hot.
Michael: Give me a second. Need to find the right one.
Mary Rita: Back to Abiah’s fire where she is learning. There will be another where she is teaching. Two fires with Abiah. It is so important that you know the ‘whys’ of things. Not just facts. (Mary Rita turns to Michael and uses finger quotes) ‘Why’ things happen. The ‘whys’. There is more to Abiah’s song. With the mystery of Babylon you can figure out the ‘whys’…. Knowing the ‘whys’ of things make you wise to things. (Mary Rita starts to sing.)…
Abiah’s Children were formed of the sea.
Of ships talking ships and their cargos of tea.
And well she did warn them of too much knowledge of ‘whats’, For it leads to confusion and ends in the ‘buts…’
She taught love is hard, and made them realize
That a cargo of ‘whats’ but one word to the ‘whys’
So Abiah’s children, avoiding these traps,
Were taught early and sternly: ‘refer to the maps’.
(Mary Rita sits back. She keeps looking at Michael but points to
Jeremiah. )
Michael: (Staring into the fire again.)Okay, got it. I’m back with Abiah again. When she’s a little girl. She is in the same chair. She is bending over toward the fire. Wow. A hand is on her. A man’s hand. He pokes the fire with an arrow.
Mary Rita: That’s her father. Peter Folger. Nantucket is not quite the information center yet. But it will be as whaling starts and increases. Still, smart captains always, whenever they could, would stop at near islands before landfall. Safer. There could be wars and they not know about it. Best to get local news first. Peter speaks Dutch, he’s Flemish, and the local Indian languages. And he is is trusted by the Indians. Helps stop the King Phillips War. Very political. Writes scathing letters. (She laughs.)
Michael: (Looking back in the fire.) The man with the blue flashlight is with Abiah too. Wow, the Grave Usher is showing both of us. We are going up and up in the air. There are all these fires in groups. Rings. Yes, fires in rings…, Golden Rings. Golden Rings around a fire in the center of each one. Yes, the big fires in the center don’t feel good. They are big, but they feel dark. I don’t like them. Wait. That’s different. There are some Golden fires in the center…, big with good feeling in the center. Just a few. They flash and go out.
Mary Rita: Yes, Michael, a few have bright gold centers. They go out. Rule by gold, rule by gold. See the exceptions proving the rule. They are rings too, but so close to the center, and so bright, you can’t see them as Golden Rings, just marvelous flashes in time.(Mary Rita sings….)
Abiah saw too…, some big fires had light.
But they were too few, most are governed by fright.
These exceptions, though few, were the brightest Gold Rings…
A few good Camelots and a mad Spanish King.
(Mary Rita ruffles Michael’s hair.)
Michael: That’s childish….
Mary Rita: Oh, childish is it…? You may find these memory tricks helpful some day. Is our Grave Usher still there? He’s not so childish…, he’s veeeeeeeeery serious.
Michael: Yes. There is one with the brightness, the good feeling in the center. That’s real bright. Wow, but the Grave Usher is not stopping.
Mary Rita: Jerusalem. Of course. Wise, wise Grave Usher. I bet that’s Jerusalem. Stay away from that one, your Father will have a fit. Call it religious hogwash. Those sons get nailed to trees. Sometimes they tree…sons. (She glances at Jeremiah)
Jeremiah: (Sardonic) Tree sons for treason. How sweet…
Mary Rita: I think the Grave Usher will pick another….
Michael: Okay, Mister blue-flashlight man. There is a bright one…. Why isn’t he stopping…?
Mary Rita: Oh, my Lord. Not that one either. That is young King Arthur’s campfire. When he was a peasant. (She laughs.) Look at Merlin. He’s dressed up like a sloppy medieval Friar! This certainly won’t do either. It is the truth, but Jere will be saying that I’m substituting weird mythology for history. Something more obscure. Just ask the Grave Usher.
Michael: Okay, Mr. Flashlight…. There are two, which one should I pick?
Mary Rita: Which one? Why the one on the right. That’s the bright one, isn’t it?
Michael: Come on, Mother. This is getting sil…..ly. You are right. The one on the right is brighter…, much brighter. But it is scary. It is bright. The campfire feels good. But…. Yes. I am seeing this. (Michael gets up and walks toward the audience. The blue spot comes on very blue. Michael has his arms straight and slightly out from his sides again as if he is in a trance. But Mary Rita acts and continues talking to him as if he was still at the fireplace.)
Mary Rita: Keep looking into the fire, Michael….
Michael: Yes. It is a very small campfire. So bright. A child again. Very young. Wow, these are soldiers. Swords. Shields. They all have long leather caps. It is one of many campfires, an army at night. Some are bigger, but this fire is bright. Many soldiers at other fires. There is armor on a leather tarp. Two horses close. The child is a boy. (Louder.) But he is too young, Mom! He is being showed the maps, but he can’t understand…. A man’s hand is pointing at the map, the other hand is on the child’s head, making him look. He crying and trying but he is too young.
Mary Rita: (She sits up in shock with her hand over her face.) Oh, God. Yes! Oh, God, it is so real. It is so real. I forgot how real! Oh, God, this is one that I saw too. Oh. (Regains composure.) I remember, Michael. I saw this fire too. I know, I know. Don’t worry, Michael. The man…, well, he doesn’t think he will have another chance. Tomorrow he may die.
Michael: What happens…? Oh. Oh. Oooooooooh, God. Oh, God. It is day. Fighting. I see a battle. So close. So close. Oh, God. (Almost sobbing) I don’t like war.
Mary Rita: He lives, Michael. He lives. He will get another chance to teach his son the mystery. The child will come to the New World. Michael, these are Roundheads. Roundheads versus Cavalier. You are seeing Coxwald Bloody field. The Battle of Edgehill. Stratford On Avon. I saw this fire too. So long, long ago. (Mary Rita is crying. She wipes a tear. Jeremiah has moved to the edge of his seat, mouth open in astonishment.)
Michael: (Michael is sobbing too, but still standing with arms straight, down by his sides but slightly out, trance-like. His head still looking up in the blue light) Oh, God. Oh, God. I don’t like war.
Mary Rita: (Regaining composure) Move on, Michael. Move on.
Michael: The blue flashlight man. He is taking me up. A line of fires going back and back and back. There is a big dark fire in the center, the Gold Ring around is very thin. It feels cold. I’m cold. I’m so cold. Oh…, it is a castle. Inside. All stone. There is a boy on a fancy chair. All carved. There is a man and a woman. Her dress is long. He has a uniform. Medals on him. But feels old. He is showing the maps, they are beautiful maps. They laugh. I don’t like this. Oh, moving again. Going up. Another. There is a campfire going out. In the morning. A small boy. He has a bugle. They were teaching him, but it is stopped. Olden rifles. Long bayonets. It is so fast, so fast. One is shot now. Oh, God. Ooooooh, God. (Long pause) Ooooooh, God. Now the other man is crying. “I won’t surrender, I won’t surrender.” And now another with hands up, “Listen to the colonel, son, listen to the colonel. Put it down, put it down, it is no use….” Oh. Oh. Oh, God, Oh God, back up. Oh. The blue light.
Mary Rita: Keep going.
Michael: It is in the desert. Tents, many tents. Another fire. Horses AND camels. Robes, robes, robes, long robes. The arm is pointing on the map, it is leather, with a curved knife. I am on a saddle, but it is on the ground. The saddle has high sides like chair arms. High…
Mary Rita: Pummel and cantle.
Michael: Oh. Oh. (Arms are still stiff, head looking up into the light. But now he is rocking, as if trying to get his balance.) Another. Oh. Wood. Windows. Fires in an iron stove. I think I am in an old ship. Yes. Charts are rolled. Charts are rolled. Charts are rolled. Boy on a bench. The man is old. He is sick. Oh. He smells bad. He can’t help it. I’m going up again. Up. (Michael stops rocking) Another. Another. Flags in a field. A red bull flag on a green field. Another. There must be thousands, thousands. Fires in gold rings around dark fires in the center. I’m seeing more, I hear words now too. It is so fast I can’t tell you. It is not stopping Thousands. I’m coming back, I’m coming back. No. He is stopping. It is slower again. Pots, lots of pots. Pots and strings, pots and strings. He says, “Abiah”. It is not. A boy. A woman.
Mary Rita: Almost finished, Michael. Oh, God. Oh, God. (Mary Rita wipes a tear.) Yes, that is Abiah. She is older now. Children of her own, many. But she is teaching one. You are in the North End of old Boston, Michael. She married a candlemaker. Her name is Franklin, not Folger now.
Michael: I think he did the maps. There are stories of English kings. (Pause.) Oh. (Pause.) Oh. Each with poems and jokes, and he is laughing. She is laughing. The fire is bright. And it is warm again, warm again, warm again. (Michael is still standing with arms at his side. But he slowly moves backwards until he is again looking into the fire. There is a pause, all still. Suddenly Michael does a strong shudder, a shake.) AAAAAAAH !! (Mary Rita sits up from looking into the fire with a start. Jeremiah stands. Michael grabs his right shoulder with his left hand.) He touched me. He touched me!
Mary Rita: (Hands over her face for a second, starting to cry, they brushing her tears and laughing.) It’s over, Michael. It’s over, Michael. You did it. I knew you would. I saw too. Some fires the same. Many not. It’s how it works.
Michael: Where is the Grave Usher? He’s gone. The blue flashlight man is gone.
Mary Rita: Oh, God. You did it. You did it, dear. I knew you could. See, Jere? (She turns to Jeremiah who is now stands astonished. Mary Rita laughs.) And you wouldn’t even try! Silly, uh…? (She gets up on the couch with Jeremiah, still in shock, who sits down with her.) Michael, there are a few more things.
Michael: Can I go back there? I was scared.
Mary Rita: I don’t know. I went back and saw the battle of Edgehill again. So I’ve seen some twice, Edgehill and Abiah’s. Who knows. Never the same. You will know. But listen. Listen.
Michael: I’m listening…. (Michael sits up and turns toward Mary Rita.)
Mary Rita: Listen carefully. Answer this…. How many fires did you see? Were there many?
Michael: So many. Seemed to go on and on and on forever. Some so quick that I couldn’t tell you fast enough. Like a speeding train. Thousands.
Mary Rita: No, dear. There were not that many. You just think they were many.
Michael: There were. There were, Mom.
Mary Rita: No there weren’t.
Michael: Yes, Mom. Thousands. Like you said, most all were parts of golden rings. I went up high and they went back and back.
Mary Rita: It just seemed like very many, but they were not. Not in comparison. Think, Michael…. Think of all the family fires and campfires in history? Did you see all of those fires?
Michael: (Thinks for a moment) I guess not.
Mary Rita: You didn’t. You saw only a certain line of fires, special fires. You don’t know how special they were. Some day you’ll see. They are very central fires. And they come up in the oddest places and oddest times. But always close around the center. Too close to the center and you get taken into it and burned. It is a center of greed and lies. You stay in the ring. But the ring is hot too. The ring is sifting sands, confusing tides. And careful decisions, decisions, decisions. Most people shy away from the Golden Ring. They are more comfortable in groups and herds and flocks and ‘parties’ and ‘..isms’. The ring is hard, Michael. (She turns to Jeremiah.) Of course it is hard. Often you will end up in opposing groups. You need be careful. You may need to jump from one to another. Leap back and forth. Be a careful leopard!
Michael: Careful leopard?
Mary Rita: Usually, when you leap like a leopard you think only where you are leaping to. Hard golden ring. The big dark fires in the center want to snuff you out because you will disperse their power and money. Other fires in the ring wisely don’t trust you either. Why should they? Sometimes you must leap between one side of the Golden Ring to the other. So, yes, think where you will be leaping to. But never forget where you leapt from! (Michael pulls back as she tries to tussle his hair.) I have more of Abiah’s songs…. (Mary Rita sings….) Sometimes be like the leopard and leap forth and back. / Always side with the weakest and lead the attack. / But remember that leopards, when changing their spots…; / Are not where they were…, but sure were where they’re not” (Laughs)
Michael: That’s just silly.
Mary Rita: Silly is it? You’ll understand some day. Yes. Abiah’s little songs. Here is another. (Again Rita sings….) Sometimes be like the bear and reach for the honey. / But remember to bees that bear is taking their money. / Money is funny, it grows not on trees. / Most people to get it are as busy as bees. / When bears reach for the money, all sticky and fair, / They’ll be thought of as thieves, so you better prepare. / So the best of the bears will remember the bees, / And never take much from those down on their knees. / Yes, money is funny. Be honest. Beware. / And be ever so careful when you bee like the bear. (She laughs)
Jeremiah: (Now smiling) Not too childish.
Mary Rita: Really…? Well, I have another of Abiah’s. Don’t worry. Only one more. (Again she sings….) Sometimes be like the lion and roar them to fright. / But if you can’t roar in the court, you best roar in the night. / The worst of the lions roar wrong in the court. / It harms all the people and darkens the fort. / So many best lions must go off to hide. / Until they learn wisdom, how to run with the tide. / When not raised in the court, lions roar in the night. / Til they learn all their roarings must be in the right. / So the very best lions, the cream of that sort, / Will sneak back much later and roar wisdom in court. (Mary Rita giggles…) There. That wasn’t so bad.
Jeremiah: There, not bad. You may not have school, but I need to get up early. To sleep we go! Pack in. And remember the Babylon line is always taught with a few deliberate mistakes. Enough so you understand the principles. (Pause.) We are all tired.
Mary Rita: (As she helps Jeremiah pull down the sections of the couch for a mattress and large pillows for Michael). How did you think Ben Franklin became such a diplomat, Michael? He was taught these things.
Michael: Everyone should know.
Mary Rita: What we are trying to say is that you need deal with the world as it is. Young Ben Franklin knew that. He had to deal with the British. Deal with the French. Remember him reciting stories about English Kings with Abiah?
Michael: Yep.
Mary Rita: I wish I could remember more of them. But some parts of my fires went too fast also. Abiah teaching Ben I remember. And it was this training that helped him. You find yourself knowing things. And most often it is best not to speak. Michael, wisdom is knowing what to reveal and what to conceal.
Michael: Huh…?
Mary Rita: You must be careful with words. When to shut up. When to speak up. Not easy. Ben Franklin, in his newspapers, was careful not to ruffle feathers. One of the things they were laughing about, English kings in that fireplace in Boston’s North End… Well, they were joking about Richard the Second. He was killed by Bolingbrook and the real royal lineage ended then. Poor Richard. Poor England. Poor Richard. And later, to make a joke of the British, when France gave us our first naval ship…, well…, they named the ship, France did, ‘The Good Man Richard’. France knew of British soiled linen and were tweaking there noses.
Michael: Soiled linen…?
Mary Rita: Messy little secrets you don’t want other’s to know. So our first naval vessel was called, The Bonhomme Richard. Good Man Richard in French. And our navy will always have one ship named the Bonhomme Richard. We do, don’t we, Jere?
Jeremiah: (Jeremiah furrows brow and puts finger to chin.) I don’t recall.
Mary Rita: I am trying to make a point about discretion.Discrete…, let’s see. It really means making decisions without being caught up in another’s beliefs. To see the whole picture. Often being silent until you think your words are right. So listen…. Soon Ben would need to deal with the British after we won our Revolution. Now that name for a warship, the Bonhomme Richard, was too much a slap. So he started writing newspaper pieces by a fictitious ‘Richard Saunders’. He was jumping back and forth like a leopard and had to remember that…(Sings) that leopards, when changing their spots…; are not where they were…, but sure were where they’re not. (Laughs)
Michael: So you shut up. You don’t talk?
Jeremiah: Yes. You watch your mouth.
Mary Rita: (Turning to Jeremiah) Unless it is really time to speak up. And that is sometimes scary. Other times you are careful. Ben Franklin had to come up with another reason for the name Bonhomme Richard, Good Man Richard. Governor Mayhew of the Vineyard might say that the name was being changed back to Martha because of a born-dead daughter of Gosnold. He didn’t want that business in public. But you can really reason that when changed back to Martha from Martins…, well he meant the Martha who changed her name to Catherine. So can see so much with this mystery…. Again…, few know. Why even my friend Dorothy Mayhew Hughes, didn’t know that.

Michael: Everyone should know. I could just tell everyone.
Mary Rita: No. I thought that too. Would never work. Go to sleep. Just keep this night.
Michael: Everyone should know.
Mary Rita: Just go to sleep. Let it be. (She blows out storm lantern)
Michael: (After long pause while they get under sleeping bags.)Why not?
Mary Rita: (Kicking Michael’s sleeping bag.) Let it be. Let it be.


(If at all possible, after house lights have been on a bit and audience exiting, there is an old Bing Crosby tune that was never popular called The Donovans.)
(Author’s note: The passing of the information was more toward spring of 54, but as the mystery scenes were in winter I compressed them together.)
Letter (http://www.midcoast.com/%7Emichael1/webnukeletter.htm) re: Why nuke now probable on U.S. City (http://www.midcoast.com/%7Emichael1/webnukeletter.htm)
Home (http://www.midcoast.com/%7Emichael1/index.html)

David Guyatt
11-30-2009, 11:26 AM
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):