Thursday, January 14, 2016

L.O.A.P. (The story so far)

Scene 1

A quiet darkened stage, a lone male figure walks into the spotlight dressed in a prison orange jumpsuit, recites this poem:

A Convict’s Prayer
So I become witness
And this is my testimony
Every word of it is true
Except the parts I made up
Or left out
Never mind the Holy Bible or the Quran
I’ll swear on my criminal record, brother
My Word
Top Left

Two jail guards (screws) close in from stage left and right, grab the prisoner
and begin hauling him away. The prisoner resists for a minute, but is overpowered and led away

SCREW 1: Let’s go, fuckhead.
THE PRISONER: Leggoame! Fuck you! Fuckin stiffs!
SCREW 2: We’ve had enough of your bullshit, inmate. You’re being assigned a segregation cell pending review.

Spotlight quits, stage is dark. The sound of a struggle, swearing and cursing, a heavy metal door being slammed shut and locked

 Scene 2

A child’s bedroom, dimly lit. A male child sits up in his bed, startled by muffled arguing. The arguing becomes louder, closer. Sounds of furniture being upended, breaking glass. MOTHER and FATHER screaming and yelling, getting closer.
Bedroom door bursts open, MOTHER runs in dressed only in a white nightgown, wide-eyed and hysterical. She clicks the light on, slams the bedroom door and begins shoving the heavy oak dresser in front of it, barring the entrance.
MOTHER: He’s gonna kill me! Help, He’s gonna kill me!
Audience sees the child is wearing a miniature version of the prison orange jumpsuit as pajamas. His little bed is in the corner, behind it is a window with bars in it. He’s crying.
Mother runs to the bed and jumps on beside her son. She hugs him close, shaking.
The door booms, the dresser shakes and is inched forward
BOOM the door is slammed again
BOOM again
Door shudders, dresser shakes
The set darkens but the banging continues, when the lights come up again the banging is THE PRISONER banging his fist against the wall of his hole cell. (a smooth transition to)

Scene 3


Set: The inside of a standard segregation cell, one wall missing so the audience can see THE PRISONER and his toilet/sink, his security mattress and flat slab of concrete that serves as his bed.

For reference

A tray of food is on the meal slot. THE PRISONER charges the big metal door and kicks the tray, sending it and his meal all over the floor outside his cell.

SCREW 1: (offstage) Real nice, asshole. Now you get no dinner.
PRISONER: Fuck you, hoop your dinner, cocksuckers!
SCREW 2: (offstage) You’re going to clean that up, you piece of shit. Why did you do that?
PRISONER: Because I want pizza!
Both guards laugh
SCREW 2: Pizza! Sure. Where should I order it from?
PRISONER: Don’s Pizzeria! Lorne Street! I want a deluxe!
SCREW 1: You get fuck all
PRISONER: And a cold beer! An Export!
SCREW 2: You get nada, you jackoff. Cock soup!
PRISONER: I hear a lotta talking but I don’t hear dialing! Chop chop motherfuckers, you work for me!
SCREW 2: Look, you didn’t want your food, so now you starve. I’ll tell you what though, inmate. Tonight when I get home I’ll order me up a nice pie from Don’s on Lorne and have a cold one. I’ll think of you hungry in that dark shitty hole and laugh as I chow down. How’s that?
PRISONER: (facing the audience, addressing them, not the guards) Don’s Pizza. My dad said it was the best in town….. I was maybe 8 or 9 years old.
SCREW 1: What?
PRISONER: (faces the door again) I said there’s a mess in front of my cell! Get over here and clean this shit up!

Scene 4
The Prisoner is sitting on the concrete slab, his back to the wall. Behind him and above the cell is a projector screen where various words will flash while he delivers a monologue


I remember Don’s Pizza.
I mighta been maybe seven or eight at that time, maybe younger. Probably younger.
The first thing I remember about that day was being in the back seat of my Dad’s big old blue Impala. The car was jerking, my dad was pounding his fist into the horn on the steering wheel and swearing up a storm. It was summertime.
My older brother and I looked at each other, but we didn’t say a word because Dad was working
(as the prisoner says it, the word will appear on the screen with creepy text like this)

When Dad worked GRAVEYARD SHIFT everyone had to do their very best to be quiet.
My mother was in the passenger seat. “Maybe he’s having car trouble,” she said.
When my mother said that, my mind started spinning right away. A car was in trouble? Did it have a flat tire? Did it have four flat tires? Was the car on fire? Were all the tires flat AND on fire? I had to know. I had to see. I was always imagining things, my Dad always said that. He said my head was always in the clouds.
In that old car there was a rise in the middle of the floor and I had to stand on top of it to see over the front seat and out the windshield.
The light was green, but the man in the car ahead of us wasn’t going. He just sat there in his car. Green meant go, everyone knew that. Why wasn’t he going?
Dad pounded the horn again, and this time the man stuck his hand out his window and gave us the finger. I knew what that finger meant, and I thought it was funny. I laughed.
My Dad didn’t laugh. I could tell he didn’t think it was funny.
He opened the driver’s side door and started to get out when my mother placed a hand on his shoulder and said
“Please Vic, don’t.”
My Dad just gave my mother a look, and she took her hand away. When my father worked GRAVEYARD SHIFT, it was best to keep quiet.
I watched him walk to the driver’s side window of the car ahead of us and heard the click of his cowboy boots on the pavement. He was wearing his checkered hunting jacket and blue jeans, his dark hair was messy and blowing wild in the wind.
My mother rolled up the windows on either side of her, and told my brother and I to do the same.
I saw my Dad leaning on the man’s car door and saying words, but I couldn’t hear what was being said.
Then he made a face with his teeth bared and then I didn’t need to know.
I knew what that face meant.
He was snarling like an angry dog.

My Mother covered her face with her hands. That’s when I saw my Dad punch the driver in head through the car window. Once, twice, three times.
When my father got back behind the wheel, I asked him why he hit the man in the car ahead of us.
He turned and looked at me and said, “I didn’t hit anyone, son.”
“But Dad,” I said, “I saw you. You punched him three times.
1,2,3. Like that.” As I counted the blows I drove a fist into my palm to illustrate my point. “1,2,3.
My dad reached over and softly gripped my chin.
“Hey little buddy,” he said. “Look at me.”
I looked into his eyes. They were a pale brown, the irises ringed light blue, almost like halos.
“I never touched that man, you understand me? You thought you saw it but you didn’t. You have a big imagination and you’re always blowing things outta proportion. You’re just like your mother that way.”
I heard my mother say “That’s right. Your father never hit anyone.”
I nodded, and then my father gave me a kiss on the cheek, a big wet sloppy dad-kiss that felt prickly and smelled like cigarette smoke and stale beer.
He smiled, and that was a good thing because when Dad smiled it meant everyone could relax. Even the air in the car seemed to relax because all of the sudden it was easier to breathe.
I sat back down in the back seat beside my brother and I looked at him and smiled.
He shook his head and said “You’re such a stupid dummy. Dad never hit anyone, dummy.”
“Who wants pizza?” Dad asked.
“I do,” my brother said.
“Me too!” I said.
My mother looked back at us and smiled. She had brown hair and green eyes and was the prettiest woman I knew.
My Dad started to sing the song that always played at the end of the TV show Sha na na. We watched that show together every Sunday, and during that hour my parents almost never had a fight. We all started singing it with him, and Dad did the baritone.
Bowzer was my favorite member of Sha na na because he looked like my Dad.

(on screen)

A barbershop quartet appears on stage beside the segregation cell. They’re dressed as jail guards. They sing Good Night Sweetheart

My Dad put the car in drive and pulled out into the next lane. As we passed the car that was ahead of us I looked out the window and saw the driver holding a tissue over his nose. It was soaked red. I felt bad for him, but I also felt that it was his own fault.
After all my Dad was working
GRAVEYARD SHIFT, and that man broke the rule.

THE PRISONER lays down, covers himself with his security blanket and drifts off to sleep as the jail guard quartet finishes singing
Lights fade

Scene 5


An elderly lady stands beside the seg cell. She’s wearing a white blouse, a long grey skirt and a clerical collar. THE PRISONER rises from his slumber, gets off the slab. He faces the audience


Betty Walks with Jesus
She walks these hallways slowly
She don’t need no guard
She’s armored in her faith you see
Her Bible is her ward
She ain’t here to point the finger
She’s seen and heard it all
She might be five foot nothing
But her shadows ten feet tall
She won’t even talk religion
If God just ain’t your thing
But if you’re coming to her service, bro
You better believe you’ll sing
From the lowliest of con men
To the toughest guys in town
Betty walks with Jesus, man
Nobody fucks around

REV BETTY knocks on the big metal door and then crouches down to speak to THE PRISONER through the meal slot


REV BETTY: Good morning.

THE PRISONER sits down on the floor beside the opening

THE PRISONER: Hi Reverend.
REV BETTY: How are things? What’s new?
THE PRISONER: Oh you know Rev, a whole lotta cast iron and concrete. Wall to wall fuck all.
REV BETTY: How long are you in here for?
THE PRISONER: I dunno. I gotta see the Super for adjudication… hey, wait a minute, are you crouched on your knees?
REV BETTY: It’s okay, I’m a tough old bird.

SCREW 1 appears with a chair, rev Betty thanks him and sits on it

SCREW 1: Watch yourself, inmate.
PRISONER: Yeah yeah. Go hoop your forehead, sir.

SCREW 1 exits stage

REV BETTY: You know, you don’t have to be so hard on them.
PRISONER: Who, the guards? Fuck ‘em. If they had any heart at all they’d be out stealing for a living.
REV BETTY: Can I ask you something?
REV BETTY: Why are you so angry?
PRISONER: (pauses) Cause I killed a guy once.
REV BETTY: You killed a man and that makes you angry?
PRISONER: Yep. I had the gun against his head and he was crying and begging and praying, too. He begged God to save him.
REV BETTY: How did you feel about that?
PRISONER: I waited, reverend. I looked up, I listened, and guess what happened?
REV BETTY: I don’t know. What?
PRISONER:   Nothing. I shot him. He died with his brains splattered on the wall.
REV BETTY: So you don’t believe in God?
PRISONER: I’m not sure. Maybe there is a God. If there is, he doesn’t give a shit about us.
REV BETTY: Because you believe that man wasn’t saved?
PRISONER: Well he wasn’t.
REV BETTY: How do you know?
PRISONER: I told you. I shot him and he died.
REV BETTY: You’ve been in and out of this jail for a long time, my boy. I know you, I know you went to catholic school.
REV BETTY: Then you remember the story of The Good Thief. I know you do.
PRISONER: Yeah, a little. The other criminals on the cross beside Jesus. They called bullshit on him being God because he couldn’t save himself.
REV BETTY: Except one. In the Book of Luke it says “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
PRISONER: Bullshit.
REV BETTY: (stern voice) You’re calling that bullshit? You aughta know about bullshit, you’re full of it.
REV BETTY: You never killed anyone.
PRISONER: Yes I did.
REV BETTY: Listen up, sonny. I know killers. I’ve prayed with killers. I’ve broken bread with killers. I even married a killer, a long time ago. He’s with Jesus now. I’ve been the chaplain in this jail since you were a rug rat, and I know you never killed anybody. You’re just a frightened young man who needs to let go of all the hate inside.
PRISONER: Yeah. Easy for you to say.
REV BETTY: I can show you how, you know.
PRISONER: How to what?
REV BETTY: How to stop the hurt inside you.
PRISONER: Whatever.
REV BETTY: I have to go.
THE REVEREND gets up and starts to walk away.
THE PRISONER: Yo Rev Betty, wait up!
REV BETTY (stops walking) What?
PRISONER: Pray for me?
REV BETTY: (smiling) You know I will.
Lights fade

Act II

Scene 1
The Prisoner in his cell, doing pushups. He finishes his set, stands up and flexes, growling. He paces the short distance between the concrete slab and the metal door.
Prisoner: Why do they call the system corrections? I never met anyone who was corrected by this shit. All it does is piss people off. Take an angry criminal, throw him in a cage. How the fuck does that fix anything? That big metal door aint keeping me away from anyone. It’s keeping them away from ME.

The Prisoner pounds his fist against the door
The superintendent appears beside the seg cell wearing a cheap looking brown suit and carrying a clipboard. He peers into the cell through the little window on the door.
SUPER: You again.
PRISONER: The boss man! The chief screw! The big six!
SUPER: You must like it in there.
PRISONER: You kidding? I LOVE jail!
The prisoner drops to the floor and starts another set of pushups.
SUPER: Why not eh? Free food, free room and board, a loser’s paradise. You’re L.O.A.P. pending adjudication for… (The super looks down at his clipboard, flips a page and then returns his attention to the window.) Here we go. Insubordination, refusing a direct order and self-mutilation. How do you plead?
PRISONER: (stops workout) Self muta-what?
SUPER: You know.
PRISONER: No I don’t.
SUPER: How do you plead to the charges?
PRISONER: What is self-mew-lition? How can I plead if I don’t understand the word? It’s not fair.
SUPER: You know perfectly well what it means, inmate. You’re wasting my time. When criminal degenerates like yourself waste my time, their time gets harder.
PRISONER: Mr. Renaud… Roger….Rog, with respect sir I was diagnosis with one a them learning impairednesses when I was eleven. School couldn’t learn me nothing, you follow me? It even says so on my file if you wanna check. If you explain it to me, then I could plead guilty or unguilty, all proper-like. By the books, even.
SUPER: I’m warning you shithead, I don’t play these types of/
PRISONER: Can I get one a them blue Umbusman letters? I feel like I’m being extra-punished just because I don’t think too good.
SUPER: Ombudsman?
PRISONER: Yeah, that’s how you say it! Om-buds-man! I guess that’s why I’m in this orange get-up and you’re in Walmart brown eh? Hahaha!
The superintendent sighs and begins reading from the clipboard
SUPER: C.O. Keith Cobbs states the following:
I was patrolling Echo corridor at approximately 1:30 am on Saturday October 16th when I witnessed the accused inmate lying on his bunk with his… with his penis exposed. I ordered him to put it away or he would be charged. The inmate told me he was “flattered” and “liked to be watched” but “only by chicks.”
I repeated the order to cover up twice, however the accused refused to comply and continued the act.

The prisoner stops his pushups and rolls onto his back laughing hysterically.
SUPER: (clenching his fists at his sides) Well I find you guilty and sentence you to an additional twenty-nine days of administrative segregation. Loss of All Privileges.
The super shakes his head and storms offstage
The Prisoner is rolling around the floor of his cell convulsing with gales of laughter
 I’M (sputtering laughter) I’M PRETTY SURE IT’S INDESTRUCTABLE!
SCREW 1: (offstage) Shut the fuck up, retard!
PRISONER: Hey officer you wanna see it?
SCREW 2:(offstage) You’re too much. Do you ever fucking quit?
PRISONER: Oh my God, officer, how did you know?
SCREW 2: How did I know what?
PRISONER: How’d you know your mother asked me the exact same thing last time I banged her!
She talks to you about her sex life?
I knew she was freaky-deaky but man oh man!
The two screws rush the seg cell while putting black gloves on. Screw 2 keys the lock.
PRISONER: I knew you wanted to see it. Don’t be shy boys, come have a looky-loo!
The screws open the door and attack the prisoner as he lays prone on the cement floor.

PRISONER: (between punches and kicks) OH! (grunting in pain) FOREPLAY? (grunt) GOOD (grunt) GOOD IDEA!

lights fade as the sound of the beating continues
Scene ends

Scene 2

Sometime later that evening. The prisoner sits on the floor beside his stainless steel toilet holding a roll of toilet paper against his busted lip. His face is scraped up and raw.
SCREW 2 appears at the big metal door and knocks on it. He’s holding a piece of pizza.
SCREW 2: Hey faggot! I just wanted to come by and thank you for the dinner suggestion! This pizza is amazing! I swear it actually tastes better on the second day!

He moves closer to the window and takes a bite.
SCREW 2: Mmmm-mmm! In-fucking-credible!
The prisoner gets up slowly and groans. He winces in pain and then limps to the door.
PRISONER: Yeah, yeah. Beat it copper.
Screw 2 giggles and walks away
PRISONER: (addressing the audience)
Yeah, Don’s Pizza. That’s where we went after my Dad didn’t hit the man in the car. At the restaurant we sat in a booth and Mr.Don brought the pie out still steaming, loaded with toppings and melted cheese and smelling like heaven.
My mom put slices on two little plates for me and my brother and dad grabbed two pieces for himself. Everyone started to eat except me. I wanted to pick off all the yucky stuff like the mushrooms and onions and green peppers, but I wasn’t sure what my father might do if he saw me. Lots of times GRAVEYARD SHIFT meant more than just being quiet. It meant making the right decisions too, because just about anything could send my dad into a rage.
If I did something to make him angry, my mother would look at me all sad and shake her head, and my brother would tell me how stupid I was over and over for the rest of the day.
It reminded me of a cartoon I saw often on Saturday mornings, the one where Elmer Fudd tries to chase Bugs Bunny through a field full of buried dynamite.
That was me, Elmer Fudd.

“We have to be vewwy vewwy quiet, daddy’s working

It ended up that I didn’t have to make the choice at all, because I heard the restaurant door open and my mother start to cry. Two police officers were talking to Mr.Don at the counter. One of them walked into the dining room and said
“Who owns the blue impala?”
My dad told my mom to shut up, and then he smiled and winked at my brother and me and told us he’d be right back.
Real live police were here and they wanted to talk to my dad!
When my father went to the lobby my mother sensed my excitement and told me to stay put.
I lasted a minute or so before sliding off my seat and onto the floor, scurrying past my mom’s legs and darting from under the table. I heard my mother calling after me but it was too late. I had to know. I had to see.
Maybe the policemen would show me their guns! Maybe they’d take me for a ride in their police car! Maybe they’d let me turn on the siren and the flashing lights and we could speed through a red light even though red meant stop!
When I got to the lobby though, I saw that one of the officers was putting handcuffs on my dad and the other was telling him he was under a rest and that he was right to remain silent.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Go back to your table,” the officer who was cuffing my father said. They were all looking at me. Mr. Don tried to put his hand on my shoulder but I shrugged it off.
“You’re wrong, you know. My dad doesn’t need a rest. He’s not even tired.”
Dad chuckled.
“See,” he said while shaking his head. “Arresting me in front of my boy. Now he’s gonna grow up hating pigs like you.”
The officer who was talking to my dad about a rest and silence and lawyers, he looked angry.
“Real good example you’re setting for your son,” he said.
I was confused. I didn’t know why my father was calling these policemen pigs. I heard people call them cops and the fuzz before, but never pigs.
“Are you in trouble, dad? Why are the police doing this?”
“The cops aren’t always the good guys kiddo,” he told me. “Sometimes they’re just the guys who always came in second in high school track and field.”
While I was trying to figure out everything I was seeing and hearing, my mother walked up beside me and grabbed my hand. I looked up and saw that she still had tears in her eyes.
She asked the police for dad’s wallet and they said no. She pulled me closer to her and started to cry harder. She had no money, she told the policemen. How would she pay for the pizza?
The officers had their hands on my father’s arms and were leading him to the exit.
One of them looked back at my mom and told her she looked like a good dish washer.
My mom almost never swore. That’s why I was shocked when I heard her do it.
“Motherfucker,” she said to the policeman. “You look like a good cock sucker.”
I stood in stunned silence because of my mother’s bad language, but not my Dad. He started laughing really loud. I guess my mom talking to the police that way was about the funniest thing he ever heard, because he was still laughing when they put him in the back of the police car.
My brother waddled around the corner still holding a piece of pie in his hands. He had tomato sauce smeared all over his face. He wanted to know where Dad was.
I wanted to know what just happened. I wanted to know where those police were taking my father. I had a pretty good idea they were taking him to jail, so I guess the thing I wanted to know the most was what the heck high school track and field was.
The prisoner lays down on the concrete slab and covers himself. Lights fade

Scene 3

Later in the evening, the prisoner sits up to a mouse squeaking.  He reaches behind him and grabs a packet of peanut butter and opens it. He tosses it on the ground.

PRISONER: Pedro! Come here Pedro, where ya been? Yeah, I know what you want. C’mere lil guy, I got your favorite. Peanut butter!

Mouse squeaking
THE PRISONER: Its okay, I wasn’t really sleeping anyway. I’m glad you’re here, ya know?

The mouse approaches the peanut butter and sniffs the packet, the prisoner rubs his eyes and yawns.
THE PRISONER: You’re real lucky you’re a mouse, you know that? You know why?

The prisoner pauses, as if he’s expecting an answer.
You’re a mouse. You do mouse shit. Nobody ever looks at you and shakes their head do they? People never ask you why you are the way you are. They don’t expect answers or an explanation from you.
My parents, my teachers, judges and lawyers and probation officers, they all wanna know why I do the things I do. I mean, what do I say? The truth is I just don’t know.
So when they ask me, I just smile and laugh.
The prisoner reaches for another packet of peanut butter and places it gently on the floor, this time closer to him.

Then they’re all (deep voice) “Blah blah blah, everything’s just a big joke to you, isn’t it?”
They get mad, Pedro. They get pissed and call me a punk and a criminal. Good for nothin’ jailbird.
 Thing is, I know what they want me to say. (falsetto voice) “I’m so sorry I did it, sir, I feel so bad I got arrested and I’m gonna change and never do anything wrong again.”
I can’t do that! Everybody else bullshits like that when they’re caught doing illegal stuff, not me. I hate that shit!
I see it all the time in court, these chicken-shits shaking and blubbering in front of the judge swearing up and down they’re gonna change, this is the last time his honor is ever gonna see ‘em, and on and on, singing their sad song.
And of course the judge sees ‘em again. What a load of shit!
Not me. When a judge asks me if there’s anything I wanna say at sentencing, I just shut my mouth. At least I don’t bullshit ya know? Doesn’t that count for something?
Everyone looks at me like I’m a wet dog turd cause I been to jail, but at least I’m an honest dog turd.

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