The story takes place in New Jersey and Milwaukee; modern day.
New Jersey characters
• David (M 30-50), Julia (F 30-45), Lily (F 8-15) and Katherine Hunter (F 20-40); David an abusive husband, wife Julia a hard drinker now on the run, Lily a tough ten-year-old
• Adam Turner (M 30-50), detective, hired to hunt Julia down
• Amanda King (F 30-70), judge in family court
• Andrew Morgan (M 35-70) and Olivia Reid (F 30-60), lawyers
• Molly Kincaid (F 30-50), policewoman, tries to get Turner to give up life as a detective and rejoin the police force
• Andrea Jackson (F 30-65), nurse, gives Turner a wake-up call in the facts of life
• A librarian (F 25-60) who helps Julia and Lily
• Wayne (M 30-40), Emily (F 30-40) and Zoe Duncan (F 8-15); a troubled family with an abusive husband
• Sarah McIntosh (F 15-40) and Misty Baker (F 15-40), exotic dancers protecting Julia
• Tara Watson (F 20-30), Emily’s friend
• Bailey (F 25-45) and Green (M 25-50), police officers
• Three thugs (M 20-40) who push Anna around until Julia descends upon them
• Anna (F 25-50), nurse and temporary roommate of Julia’s
• Jane (F 12-19), runaway
• Mrs. Wheeler (F30-50)
• Ray (M 25-65), bartender, who is also protecting Julia, but tired of seeing her get drunk and wreck his bar
The settings are very straightforward: bars and restaurants, apartments, hospital ERs, two outdoor scenes in the street, a courtroom, a library, a law office, a women’s shelter office
A MILWAUKEE STREET – NIGHT.
Three thugs and Julia are lined up, covered in blood; Anna is off to the side. Green, a policeman and Bailey, a police woman, are interviewing with flashlights, without which the scene would be almost dark.
GREEN. [looks at first thug] Bloody nose.
[looks at the second] Bloody nose and torn ear. Somebody bite you?
[the third] Bloody nose, black eye, fat lip, is that a claw mark? Ma’am, do you have a dog?
[and looks down at Julia] What about you, buddy, do you need a doctor too? Any cuts or scrapes? [Julia, wearing a Packers cap, holds her bloody fists in front of her face and raises her eyebrows ironically at Green.]
BAILEY. Okay, somebody tell me what happened here.
ANNA. Me and these three guys, we had a drink in the bar. I come out, and they come out after me, and they want to go out and hangout some more, it was stupid. Then Tommy mouths off at me, and smacks me, and I smacked him. And then all three of them start shoving me around. Goddamn cavemen.
THUG 1. Bitch scratched my face right open.
ANNA. Hey, Neanderthal Man, it’s the twenty first century, it’s time to get your clock fixed!....And then [points at Julia] This guy, he’s like a bolt of lightning, just came out of nowhere….
JULIA. I’m a girl.
THUG 1. This guy just went totally nuts. Hitting, kicking, scratching, spitting, pulling hair, all at two hundred miles an hour. He’s like a goddamn mountain lion on crack. Who the hell is this guy?
JULIA. [boiling mad] Girl. Girl! I’m a girl! [The three thugs back away from her.]
THUG 2. [talking over her] Ought to be in a cage.
GREEN. Okay, lady, these three guys slapped you around, and then they were attacked by [skeptical] this young man here? [Julia loses it and tries to go after him; Bailey pushes her against the wall.]
BAILEY. Three guys for the ER, one guy straight to booking.
THUG 1. See? He’s nuts.
JULIA. Doesn’t listen. I’m. A. Girl. [Julia starts to pull apart her shirt, cops reflexively draw their weapons.]
GREEN. Oh, for Christ sake. Um….Bailey?
BAILEY. [to Julia] Stop. What the hell is the matter with you?...[takes off Julia’s hat; to Green] Holy crap. Green, he’s a girl. [to Julia] Sorry, we couldn’t tell, you’re all covered in blood.
JULIA. It’s not my blood. [looks at the thugs and smiles]
BAILEY. [impatient] Put your clothes back on…. You need a shower, you smell like a brewery…. You’re not going to try to hit me, are you? [Julia glares at her.]
GREEN. [to Julia] So, no ID. What’s your name? [skeptically] Ma’am?
JULIA. Jane Doe.
GREEN. Listen, if we can’t identify you, you’re in the can for the night.
BAILEY. Here, let me try….Where’d you learn to fight like that?
BAILEY. You a cop, or army?
BAILEY. Okay, bonus question, what the hell were you thinking?
JULIA. I just heard what this guy was saying to his girlfriend, he hit her, right on the street, and I just…. It was just the last straw, and I just lost it….
BAILEY. Last straw? Let me guess. Boyfriend? Husband?...Okay, this thing you did, you know how stupid that was? Flying in like Batman to save the day, taking on three guys? You don’t need me to give you that speech, do you? ….[to the bunch of them] Luckily, stupidity isn’t a crime, or you’d all be going in, and then I got a whole night worth of paperwork.
GREEN. Man, our shift is almost over….
BAILEY. [to Julia] You don’t sound like you’re from around here. Where are you from? [Julia says nothing.] Well, wherever that is, go there.
JULIA. I can’t go home.
BAILEY. Well, don’t come back here. Alright? ...You’re not going to try to drive a car, are you?...
JULIA. A car?? [cackles a laugh] You crack me up.
BAILEY. [to the thugs] Are you rocket scientists going to press charges against this girl?...I didn’t think so….[irritated] Okay, everybody just get the hell out of here. [Thugs exit.]
ANNA. [to Julia] My name’s Anna.
JULIA. [whispers] Lia. Short for Julia.
JULIA. Shh!...Dammit!...[pulls her aside, more angry at herself than at Anna] Never say my name out loud, in front of a cop!
ANNA. I’m a nurse. [takes Julia by the chin] Hold still….
JULIA. I’m okay. Are you okay?
ANNA. I can handle it. Come see me at the Medical Complex sometime. We’ve got AA, the whole program….
JULIA. Not in a million years. And just forget my name, okay? [Anna leaves; to Bailey] Thanks. Sorry. [Bailey pulls out her notepad and glares at her. ] Um, yeah. [She weaves slightly as she grabs her duffel bag, which stays with her in every scene of the play, and leaves.]
BAILEY. [rolls eyes at Green and writes] “Alcohol was involved.”
A LAW OFFICE – DAY.
New Jersey law office; Morgan, a lawyer, with his client David Hunter, meeting Adam Turner, a private investigator.
TURNER. Mr Morgan? Adam Turner. [handshakes]
MORGAN. Good afternoon, Mr Turner. This is my client, David Hunter. We’ve asked you in to talk about Mr Hunter’s wife Julia. [They sit. ] We expect that Mr Hunter is going to be in divorce court ultimately, and we need an investigator….I assume of course that we’re speaking in confidence?
TURNER. [pleasantly] Obviously.
MORGAN. We’re prepared to spend all we need to win in court, and we control the family money so Mrs Hunter won’t be getting the best and the brightest at her table. We know the judges pretty well. Mr Hunter comes across as calm and cool, and Mrs Hunter frankly comes across as hysterical. We will have witnesses who will testify that she tried to blackmail him for money, she sent harassing emails, and she tried to turn her daughter against him. If she tries to get sole custody, we will argue that a child should of course have two parents in her life.
TURNER. And Mrs Hunter disappeared?
MORGAN. Months ago. I doubt she has a fixed address, so she will have a hard time getting custody at all. We’re pretty confident that no doctor or policeman in this town will back her story; policemen hate domestic cases anyway.
TURNER. Don’t I know it.
MORGAN. We can prove she abused painkillers. We filed for a restraining order against her because of her violent behavior.
TURNER. Sounds as though you’ve got everything covered. Where do I come in?
MORGAN. First we need you to find her. She took a huge amount of money from her husband’s accounts and she’s been gone almost a year. That money belongs, by rights, to their daughter Lily. We are prepared to give you a liberal per diem and a long leash, within reason, and a hefty finder’s fee. [passes documents for Turner to look at]
TURNER. How are you paying?
MORGAN. In cash. Very often we work in cash.
TURNER. Fine with me. [looking at the documents] So you’ve had other guys looking for her.
MORGAN. Six. They all failed. Then they started working as a team, and they still failed.
TURNER. If she’s jacked up on pills all the time, how come she’s outsmarting these guys?
MORGAN. Let’s just say our team was unlucky. And she is very clever. It’s like chasing the wind. And we heard you were very good, so…
TURNER. She could be dead.
MORGAN. We’ve seen her alive. We think. We think we saw her for a few seconds in Atlanta. And we’re almost sure we had her in sight at the Chicago bus depot.
TURNER. You’re almost sure…?
HUNTER. [emotional] I don’t want this to go on indefinitely. My wife and I are going through a rough patch right now, but I am genuinely worried about her. She’s sick. She has a track record of erratic behavior. I really hope she’s alright.
TURNER. Alright, then. Well, I do this sort of thing every day. Almost every week someone comes in, asking for help in tracking down a wife who’s cheating on him.
MORGAN. You check credit card records?
TURNER. Yep, we run surveillance, GPS, talk to their bosses and their friends….. So, you’re a lawyer. This story you told me, that’s the pitch you’re going to make in court. How much of all that is true? [Long silence. ]
MORGAN. [doesn’t look up; hands Turner a fat envelope] Your retainer will be wired later but here are your first three months’ expenses. We will wait for your report. [finally he looks up] Thank you for coming.
TURNER. Well, my question still stands. If I know the truth, there’s a better chance --
HUNTER. [loud] You’ve got everything you need! You’ll get your money, you need to get moving as soon --
MORGAN. David, we discussed this, didn’t we? [glares at David; smiles at Turner] As I said, the rest of your money is on its way. Thank you. [Morgan and Hunter leave]
TURNER. [looking at the door where they exited, then at a mass of hundred dollar bills in the envelope] What the…?...Hello Mister Franklin. And his whole family…
A BAR -- NIGHT.
In Milwaukee. A jukebox blasts away. Sarah McIntosh and Misty Baker, exotic dancers, are on break, in a corner, in robes. Julia, dead drunk and slack-jawed, leaning on a chair against a wall or table, with two chair legs off the floor. Ray, a bartender, watches Julia warily. Customers drink.
SARAH. We need to get back onstage dancing, just so they’ll turn off that crap on the jukebox. [the music stops as she’s speaking] Oh thank God.
RAY. Last warning, fellas, don’t touch the girls. [points at Julia] Lia, careful with the chair.
SARAH. Ray, I know it’s cold outside, but seriously, we’re up onstage in our fine washables and it’s fifty-sixty degrees up there.
RAY. Fine, but help me sell more beer, Sarah, so I can pay the power company. How’d your Calculus final go?
THUG 1. Hey Misty….You girls are smoking hot tonight.
THUG 1. [crowding her space a little] You want to dance later?
MISTY. [nicely] Just shove off, okay? [Thug looks for a moment at Julia who is motionless.]
THUG 1. [to Julia] You want to dance? [They all look; Julia doesn’t budge.]
SARAH. Leave her alone. That’s Lia. She doesn’t work here. She just hangs here.
THUG 1. What’s the matter with her?
MISTY. Just shove off, okay?
THUG 1. [to Julia] You want to dance?
JULIA. [looks at him for the first time] Looking for a good time, sailor? Once you have a Jersey girl, you never go back, baby. [Julia stumbles off of her chair and onto the floor; he pulls her up by the hand, which she turns into a handshake.] Lia. It’s short for Ju-lia. [points to a door] I’m the troll who sleeps in the cellar here. [squints; wrinkles her nose] I smell like Sam Adams. [holds up a finger] The beer, not the dead President. [she starts bumbling around in circles a bit, looking for her beer]
THUG 1. Um….
MISTY. For the last time. She’s not one of us. She’s just….well, she’s just here. Leave her alone. [Jukebox begins Abba song, or whatever; girls scream in outrage; Julia throws a glass, a chair, a beer can, a plate of food, director’s choice; or she can pick a fight with the thug.]
JULIA. Turn. That. Shit. Off. [a pause]
RAY. Sorry girls, this is the last time.
SARAH. But Ray, it’s just Lia.
RAY. I’m running out of glasses. And chairs. [or whatever it was] What are you, keeping her as a pet? [Ray half-carries Julia out the door, she yowls “Dancing Queen”, or whatever, off-key.]
SARAH. Dammit, Ray! Let me put her in a cab. More tip money down the toilet. [She runs out with Julia’s duffel.]
A BAR, NIGHT.
In a New Jersey bar. Turner and Molly Kincaid, a police officer, drink.
MOLLY. Turner, you know you could come back to the force any time. You’re that good. The town’s ruling family likes you. You’d get the pension, everything.
TURNER. Yes, Molly, I’m an idiot. I like being my own boss. Never have to wear a tie. The crap work you do as a cop…
MOLLY. And look at what you’re doing. Playing Peeping Tom. Hunting down cheating wives. Man, you hunt women for a living.
TURNER. Molly, there’s a hundred guys like me out there. I tell you, most of the time the wives, they’re not even cheating. Well I do what I get paid to do….I think I have a live one this time, though. And the husband’s paying me well too.
MOLLY. David Hunter.
TURNER. David -- Come on, Molly, you know I’m not getting into the details.
MOLLY. Alright, then, we’ll play let’s pretend. Hypothetically, if you had any business with the Hunters. The father, built the brewery. One son is the crown prince. Another on the city council. Another on the police force. So I’d be awfully careful with the Hunters. I think the whole town is afraid of the Hunters, won’t even be caught criticizing them. Good way to lose your job in a one-factory town.
TURNER. What about David’s wife, Julia?
MOLLY. Everything I’ve heard about Julia is bad, don’t know how much is true. Drugs, violence, abandoned her own daughter and her husband and ran off….Sorry, babe, I forgot.
TURNER. Maybe my wife and Hunter’s wife ran off to the same….Ah, who knows. Nobody’s paying me to find my wife. See ya, Molly. [Puts a twenty on the bar, exits. ]
MOLLY. Tsk tsk, now that was careless of you. Julia Hunter. Poor Adam, what have you gotten yourself into?
EMERGENCY ROOM – DAY.
A New Jersey ER, Andrea Jackson, a nurse, doing paperwork. Turner enters with Molly, she pulls Turner into an exam room, irate.
JACKSON. You came into my ER to ask two of my nurses about one of my patients....sit down. I’ll tell you about Julia Hunter. Keep this under your hat or I’ll lose my job. [He sits.] Julia Hunter is one of my worst nightmares. A repeat customer. [flips through a massive folder] Broken nose, black eye – look at the size of this file!...ribs, nose again, ribs again, broken arm – that last time she finally started defending herself.
TURNER. Jesus, this X-ray looks like something out of the morgue. She survived with all these busted ribs? How does she breathe?
JACKSON. She’s gonna feel those ribs for the rest of her life. Every time she hugs her daughter.
TURNER. She’s never going to see her daughter again….So what do you do, the next time she comes in?
JACKSON. Did you see that X-ray? If she ever gets beat up again, she’ll never make it to the ER. She’ll have a tag on her toe. It’s a miracle she’s still alive.
MOLLY. And she never went to the police?
JACKSON. You mean tell her brother-in-law, the police captain? Tell him that his brother was beating on her? In this town?
TURNER. So this is why you called me back to the hospital.
JACKSON. No. I called you over to see my next patient. This is Julia’s sister-in-law. The wife of the cop. [Katherine Hunter, 30, comes in for treatment on her arm.]
JACKSON. Mrs Hunter, this is Mr Turner, I think he works for your family.
KATHERINE. Him and everybody else in town.
TURNER. Sorry, I’ll go…
KATHERINE. [she looks at Jackson] It’s okay. [looks at her arm] I’m an old hand. [Picks up the splint]
JACKSON. [gets ready to splint her up] This girl is lucky, if you want to look at it that way. You ask Molly, your police friend -- for every battered wife in my ER, there are four more out there who are too afraid to come in and get stitched up.
MOLLY. Yep. A lot of these girls get beat up while they’re pregnant.
JACKSON. All the women who die in my ER, one third of them were killed by their husbands or their boyfriends. Here in the land of the free, we’re talking about 10,000 women getting beaten up…
TURNER Whoa, whoa. Ten thousand a year?
JACKSON. It’s ten thousand a day, Turner. [She points to Katherine who is smiling fatalistically.] Just picture this in your head: every night there’s a row of a thousand broken arms like this one, and then a thousand broken noses, and then a thousand smashed teeth, a thousand broken ribs because some girl got thrown down the stairs – ten thousand of these every night. And every year a thousand more get killed….You used to be a cop, what were you, a meter maid? Where have you been? You think this is some silly little thing that only happens over in the trailer park? This is happening on your street, tonight... [to Katherine] So I suppose you’re not going to go to the shelter or file a –
JACKSON. [deep breath] And another Saturday begins….
Milwaukee, an emergency room, Anna and Julia looking over charts. Wayne and Emily Duncan enter the ER. Emily wears a long-sleeve shirt and sunglasses.
WAYNE. My wife needs an X-ray now.
ANNA. [picks up a clipboard, points] Grab a seat outside and start filling….
WAYNE. Isn’t this the emergency room? This is an emergency! She needs an X-ray!
ANNA. [glares at him, hands him the clipboard] Okay, sweetie, why don’t you tell me what happened. [Emily looks at him uncomfortably.]
WAYNE. It was an accident. Emily’s clumsy.
EMILY. He’s right, it was my fault. It’s nothing really, I almost didn’t come in….Wayne really watches over me.
ANNA. [to Emily] Take off your clothes. [Wayne is entering deeper into the room]
JULIA. [to Wayne, grabbing his arm] We need the room, please.
WAYNE. [pushes her away] Who the hell are you?
JULIA. [speaks softly, but still in his face] Watch your mouth….You don’t really like girls, do you? ...[he looks around] Yeah, you got witnesses, this time… [he looks angrily at Emily] I know where you live, and I’m watching you. And her….Here’s a pencil for you. [Wayne tries a staredown, then leaves; Emily starting to unbutton, very clumsily.]
ANNA. No no no, leave your clothes on. I just wanted him out of here….
EMILY. You really pissed him off. Usually I just try to keep him calm.
JULIA. How’s that working for you? You’re in the emergency room….No, he just hit you, next he’s going to give you the “Honeymoon Phase”.
EMILY. [weaves, disoriented] I’m sorry, I’m, um…My head’s spinning a little, I have a headache and everything’s a little blurry.
JULIA. I’m Lia. You sit. You feel nauseous? [She removes Emily’s sunglasses to see the scrape and the black eye]....I’m not a doctor, but you have a concussion, kiddo.
EMILY. A concussion??
JULIA. Trust me, I’m the Muhammad Ali of concussions. [jokingly pretends to punch herself in the head, Emily flinches]
JULIA. I’ve seen you at the courthouse. I’m going to help you, I work at the shelter….[looks back at the door] Did he drive you here drunk?...I don’t believe it.
EMILY. Par for the course. He drinks, I get hit. Then he says “Sorry, I was drunk so I was out of control”. But somehow he’s never so drunk that he doesn’t know what he’s doing: he won’t hit the people in the bar, he’ll drive home all in one piece, and then he “loses control”. But still he almost never hits me where it’ll show. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
ANNA. And this only happens at home?
EMILY. Oh, yeah, always. When we’re out with friends, he’s Saint Wayne, and I’m his arm candy. He puts on an act, always helping, always listening, so no one would ever believe what an animal he is at home. Even in court, I’m standing there with a broken arm, and this judge is yelling at me! “Ma’am, you really gotta calm down” while my husband was standing there cool as a cucumber.
JULIA. Duncan….The judge sent him to rehab, right?
EMILY. It was just a game to him. [wags her finger, “doing” Wayne] “I can’t stay sober if you nag me about all the other stuff. All that stuff happened before rehab, it doesn’t count.” Then the rehab stopped and the hitting kept on. We tried therapy: he said the therapy proved it was really all my fault, and when I told the therapist about the nasty stuff, he would blow up when we got home. He just scammed the judge.
WAYNE. [off-stage] What the hell is taking so long?
JULIA. You left before, didn’t you?
EMILY. Eight times. The last time -- I knew he’d go nuts the day I left, so I had the cops come over, and sure enough, blammo….
ANNA. Clever girl.
EMILY. He followed me around, he called the house, I had to change my phone number, email. I had to switch apartments because the landlady got sick of him coming around causing trouble…
ANNA. And then you went back to him…
EMILY. And he knew he had me. And it just got worse. He got fired, and he hit me. I offered to get a job, and he hit me. He said he’d kill me if I tried to leave again… Like an idiot I put all sorts of links in my Favorites on the computer -- the shelter, the lawyer, Greyhound. He gave me a black eye. He reads my email. I started using the computer at the library, but he noticed I never brought any books back….
JULIA. Stay off the internet for a while….You have a daughter, right? Where is she?
EMILY. [agitated] He’s got her in the car….He always used Zoe to get to me, he used Zoe to try to win me back, he hurt Zoe just because he knew it hurt me. He threatened Zoe – “If you tell anybody, no one will believe you, I’ll hurt you and your mom, I’ll leave and take all the money”…
JULIA. Oh boy.
EMILY. He tried to drive a wedge between me and Zoe, he undermined my decisions, he bribed her. He’s using my child as a weapon to hurt me with. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I was thinking, having a kid…
ANNA. Oh come on now.
EMILY. Just a few days ago, Zoe was watching some movie, and out of nowhere she yells at the TV, “hey, you can’t hit a girl, it’s against the law!”…Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, I don’t know what to say to her…. I had to tell the school never to let Wayne pick her up, but he could just disappear with her. I need to do this quick…
ANNA. We’ll move as fast as we can.
EMILY. [looks at Julia suspiciously] So how did you just happen to be here so fast?
JULIA. Anna’s my partner in crime. And Friday night is practically a Holy Day for husbands beating their wives, so sometimes I swing by the ER….So if you want help…
EMILY. I don’t think I can do this by myself anymore.
JULIA. Okay, you just took the one big step, asking for help. First we need a plan for you, make sure you and your girl are safe. You’re going to pack a bag, with clothes, documents, money, we got a whole list– stash it at a friend’s house.
EMILY. My friend Tara.
JULIA. Get out of the house now and then, so that he gets used to it. Walk the dog, go shopping. Have a relative across the country fake an illness so you can go visit. We’ll get you a post office box and a lawyer --
ANNA. Lia, I need to do my thing here, this could still be a TBI….I keep telling you, you’re not a real nurse, you shouldn’t be here.
JULIA. Sorry, Anna, you’re right….
ANNA. Traumatic brain injury.
JULIA. I will come find you soon, when it’s safe.
EMILY. Oh God, don’t leave a phone message.
JULIA. Course not. I’ve done this before. [she’s wobbly getting up; to Anna] Chinese tonight?
ANNA. Gotta have my General Tso….[whispers] Still hung over?
JULIA. Don’t ask. [Julia leaving.]
ANNA. Okay. [to Emily] Trouble with your vision?
JULIA. You have no idea….Oh, you meant…[Anna and Emily both laugh, and the tension simmers down, until…]
WAYNE. [off-stage] Where’s my wife? I want my wife now! [and a chill descends over the room]
A RESTAURANT – NIGHT.
Turner, eating lunch, overhears Tara Watson, his waitress, on the phone in a restaurant.
TARA. It’s my fault, but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I just have to try harder to make this work. ….I wish I knew what was setting him off…He went out drinking….Got no sleep at all last night … I just don’t know how I got into this -- how did I not see this? What’s wrong with me?...God no, I could never leave, don’t even joke…..No, I can’t, gotta get back to the house and check in. [angry, impatient] Trust me, it’s just easier that way.
TARA. Oh! You’re back! I’ll be back with your change.
TURNER. Nah, keep it.
TARA. Wow. You’re kidding.
TURNER. Hey Tara. [he points to her phone; she is upset that he overheard her] Tara, you take care of yourself.
TARA. [she looks at him hard, then sighs and nods] Thanks. [moves off]
TURNER. Hey, kid. Down two blocks and hang a right, there’s a bus station. Take you anywhere you want.
TARA. Yeah, I know….[holds up the money] So that’s who’s on the hundred….Please, come back anytime! [he smiles]
AN APARTMENT – DAY.
Milwaukee; Julia is in her apartment. She answers the phone.
TURNER. Mrs Hunter? My name is Adam Turner. I work for a lawyer named Andrew Morgan.
JULIA. You work for my husband. [panics] How did you get this number?
TURNER. Mrs Hunter, I want you to listen for just a minute. Can you do that for me?
JULIA. You have a minute and then I’m out of here. [She grabs duffel with her free hand and sets it on a table, open. ]
TURNER. I know, this is the third or fourth time you’ve moved. If you listen to me, maybe you won’t need to run off again. I can find you anywhere, but I’m tired of chasing you, and you must be tired of running.
JULIA. Tick tock. [She’s gathering her keys, her purse etc.]
TURNER. Your husband, his mother, his lawyer, all told me you were dangerously insane. They hired me to track you down. So I got to work. I figured out that you couldn’t get a good lawyer because they tied up the money; they got you fired so you couldn’t support your daughter. They schmoozed the judge and committed some truly unbelievable witness-tampering – they actually got the judge to issue a restraining order against you because of the scratch marks on his arms while you were defending yourself. They lied about you blackmailing him and harassing him.
JULIA. [still terrified, opening her door to leave] Old New Jersey proverb. Everybody lies.
TURNER. And I’m not surprised that you were always using painkillers – you had broken bones and bruises almost every year you were married. And you left your girl so you could save your own life. I realized that you weren’t cheating on your husband: there was no cheating, there was no boyfriend. Or girlfriend….I figured out that you didn’t take that much money.
JULIA. I’m living on mac and cheese!
TURNER. And an awful lot of rum. Strange, they didn’t go to the police about your disappearance, or about the money…. Then I heard that your sister-in-law was in the hospital with a fractured skull.
JULIA. Is she alright?
TURNER. I don’t know – I don’t want to check in, because they’ll ask me where you are….. So now I know what happens to you, once I do tell them where you are…. I got to be fascinated by watching you outsmart me. For months it’s been like watching an Indiana Jones movie. I saw you working the underground railroad for the other women.
JULIA. [shocked] No, you can’t --
TURNER. Don’t worry, I have no interest in the railroad….And then…You actually went back to Jersey, and I saw you outside your daughter’s school. I watched you watching her play soccer. And you stood there, like a statue, and you lost it completely. Man, I almost lost it.
JULIA. So the Hunters’ family lawyer lied to you? Imagine my surprise….He said I took how much money? Like those guys would ever put that much in one account -- these guys have been hiding money from the IRS since you were in diapers.
TURNER. So the money…
JULIA. I took enough walking-around money to hit the road with. It’s all gone now.
TURNER. And the pills….
JULIA. I can’t afford the pills anymore, but I’m afraid I drink quite a bit. It’s the only way I can sleep. I bought plane tickets to half a dozen places online, then I saved a few nickels by taking the bus to Wisconsin.
TURNER. [laughs] I know, they sent four of their goons to LA, they were out there for weeks.
JULIA. You think this is funny?... Actually I used his credit cards to buy the tickets, all first class. You know, that is funny.
TURNER. Listen. I don’t want you to be frightened….Actually I do want you to be frightened. It looks like the Hunters are sending more guys like me. They’ll take you back home, or just do something right here in Milwaukee.
JULIA. Why are you calling me? How did you find me this time?
TURNER. You want all the trade secrets? Not so fast. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t have a plan. I don’t believe your husband, but I don’t completely believe you either. Right now, I just don’t think I’m ready to pick up the phone and give you away to those people.
JULIA. You don’t think? That’s a little bit vague.
TURNER. I’m having, what do you call it, an epiphany.
JULIA. Saint Paul on the road to…somewhere.
TURNER. Damascus….Catholic school. Alright, you wanted to know how we keep finding you. You went to the same store every week, the same doctor. Stop talking to your sister – her daughter tells all about it on Facebook. Get locks on the windows and doors, and an alarm. Set up a warning signal with your neighbor, maybe with the curtains, so she can call for help if you need it – the next guy who finds you may not be me. Keep the car gassed up and pointed toward the road. ….Couple of freebies for you.
JULIA. Why are you telling me this?
TURNER. I haven’t worked out all the details here, but so far, I think I’d rather see you alive than dead. I don’t think you have that many ER visits left in you. [She hangs up, pulls her duffel shut.]
TURNER, Hello?...[realizes she hung up] Dammit! [exit]
JULIA. [dials the phone] Anna, are you home?....Dammit!
AN UNDERPASS – NIGHT.
New Jersey, where a small tent city has sprouted up.
MOLLY. So you’re only back in town for a few days?
TURNER. Yeah, I’m flying back out west soon….So this is why you’re late every Sunday night?
MOLLY. I try to check over here at least once a week. You look at the homeless woman in the corner with the little girl. She is not homeless – she actually has a home. But she can’t go back there because her husband beats her up.
TURNER. So, home is even more dangerous than living on a steam grate in a blanket?
MOLLY. You look across this country and count up all the women and kids who are living on the street because they get beat up at home…? Two hundred thousand. And there are thousands of kids on the street with no parents at all. Thousands of young girls, you know…?
TURNER. Yeah, I can figure out the rest of that story myself.
MOLLY. Most women can’t find space at the battered women’s shelters – our town has more animal shelters than women’s shelters. You should see this place in winter. They’re sleeping in tents, shantytowns, abandoned buildings, parks, doorways, all-night diners….
TURNER. Sleeping in their cars…
MOLLY. Yep. Over in New York, train stations, tunnels, subway platforms…. So this is why I come by when I can, before I get you….
TURNER. Molly, if you’re late you’re late.
MOLLY. My brother-in-law is a guard in juvie. A bunch of those kids are in for murder….You think it’s all bangers and drug dealers, right? The stereotype. But really, more than half of them are in there, because they killed the guy who was beating on their mothers. This is kids doing the killing. Because their mothers are getting beat up.
TURNER. So why did you bring me this time? Why am I looking at these women?
MOLLY. [hard] Because I hear you really are working for David Hunter. Husband Of The Year. That could be his wife in one of those sleeping bags….No doughnuts for you.
A RESTAURANT – NIGHT.
Milwaukee, a crappy restaurant. Julia is being served. Her bag is under the table. Turner enters.
TURNER. Give me your purse.
JULIA. Jesus!...I told you, I don’t have any money –
TURNER. Give me your purse. [She does; he pulls out a tiny GPS.]
TURNER. This is what I’ve been using to track you. [opens her wallet, pulls out a credit card] And this is what the other investigator is using to track you.
JULIA. The other…
TURNER. Is there anything in the purse you can’t live without? [She pulls out a driver’s license, keys, phone, cash, and a credit card.]
TURNER. Did your husband buy you that phone? [She nods.] Gimme. Here, keep the pepper spray, trust me. Now give me back the purse, I’m taking it back to Jersey and tossing it in the dumpster. If I can get a GPS in there, so can somebody else….So now they can’t track you.
JULIA. But you can still find me….Give me the picture of Lily! [He digs it out of the purse and gives it to her. She looks at it.]
TURNER. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without that bag of dirty underwear. [He sits]
JULIA. So, a glass of wine for Inspector Javert?...
JULIA. What is going on? Have you told them where I am?
TURNER. No. I haven’t done anything, because I don’t understand what’s going on here.
JULIA. So there’s nothing I can do, to make this go away. To make you go away.
TURNER.[looks at her] There are some things I won’t do. There’s a line I won’t cross.
JULIA. [catches him looking] How flattering. What, do I smell bad?...“Gee, poor Julia, she wouldn’t be dead right now if her ass had just a little more mojo….” [it hits her; she’s incredulous] Wait – there’s a line you won’t cross? You’re seriously thinking about handing me over to the Hunter boys so they can beat me to death, but you’re not willing to do The Nasty with me, because that’s immoral, right? That’s the line you won’t cross. Wow, they’re gonna put up a statue of you in the park. [she’s laughing as he says…]
TURNER. It does sound stupid when you put it like that --
JULIA. – Yep. Right up there next to Doctor King. Profiles in courage.
TURNER. Lia –
JULIA. [hard] Why don’t you hop down off your high horse. I live in the gutter because I have to, to stay alive, but you chose to live like this….Way back when, you put on your police uniform because you thought you were going to spend your life helping people. So who are you helping now?...Doing this for money…how does it feel?
TURNER. [eager to change the subject] Your whole family said all along that you can’t be trusted. They’re lying to me too, but why should I believe you? How does any of this make sense?
JULIA. [incredulous, angry] My husband is insane. Since when do crazy people have to make sense?...What made me so nuts was there was no way to predict when he was going to go off and hit me. He could go off for any reason, or no reason, any time.
TURNER. So what set him off?
JULIA. I tried to figure out what set him off, give him what he wanted. It was sheer terror. And guns all over the house. I finally stopped wearing necklaces so he would stop trying to choke me with them – I cut my hair so he wouldn’t pull it out.
TURNER. So he hit you, what, every night? People would have noticed.
JULIA. You don’t get it, do you? After a while I was so afraid, he didn’t even have to hit me. When he pushes me, kicks in the bedroom door, locks me in a room, breaks things, I know what’s next…. He tears my clothes, threatens me….
TURNER. I knew guys like that on the force. I’m at a friend’s house once, watching the Jets game, him and his wife, they’re arguing about something stupid, and right in front of us, he interrupts his wife, he insults her, he wags his finger at her, he walks away from her when she’s talking. And when she says something, he stomps, he yells, he swears, he grabs her, he pokes her….
JULIA. And what do you think happened to that girl after you left?...I’ll give you a minute to think that through….
TURNER. I didn’t want to know.
JULIA. Exactly. You were deaf and dumb. The problem isn’t just the guy who hits his wife, it’s you, turning the other way. Hitting a woman, hitting anybody, it’s everybody’s business, it’s a freakin’ crime, you were a cop, what am I missing?
JULIA. So the wife, she was supposed to be your friend too….How do you even look her in the eye, knowing that you’re just letting this happen?
TURNER. Good question.
JULIA. But in the end, my husband didn’t even have to raise his voice. He was just grinding me down, using that nasty sarcastic voice. For me that constant grinding was even worse than getting hit, because it was day after day. And then I would get upset and he starts ragging on me, like it’s my fault for being crazy and hysterical. I could barely feel my own feelings.…. So I tell myself “I need to try harder to please him…I’m worthless, I can’t do anything right.”…
TURNER. So, no romance…
JULIA. You mean sex. Who do you think called the shots there? You think I ever said “no”? His notion of sex was just [looking down] marking his territory.
TURNER. But come on, you never left, for years….
JULIA. You’re damn right. Any time I tried to break free, go to school, go to work, put away my own money, he went nuts. He would take my keys and my phone, the car battery, he put in a nanny cam to watch me. I had a curfew!
TURNER. Still – was it all bad, all the time?
JULIA. Every once in a while, after he broke one of my bones maybe, we’d have a little honeymoon, he was in love with me all over again. Even then it was all about what I had to do. I can hear him now: “I can’t change unless you change too, you have to forgive me, how long are you going to stay mad? Stop hanging around with those friends who keep badmouthing me!”
TURNER. But seriously, no one in that whole town could help you?
JULIA. You have no idea how alone I was. He picked and chose our friends -- anyone who might challenge him or defend me was cut out of the herd. He drove a wedge between me and my old friends, and then he said he was the only one who loved me.
TURNER. So everyone around you was on his side.
JULIA. And I started to blame myself, doubt myself -- “Why am I the only one who sets him off? What’s wrong with me?” Any time I talked to any man, any time I left the house, he was liable to start screaming that I was cheating. And I didn’t want to admit I made a mistake, marrying him. Especially to my mother the Church Lady – “you made your bed, now lie in it” ….
TURNER. I gotta tell you….the more I know, the less I know.
JULIA. Listen to that voice in your head. Like me, when that little voice in your head says “it’s time to get the hell out” – hit the road. Woman’s intuition is the best thing there is. I had to remind myself – “You’re not imagining it, and you’re not crazy.”…[looks at him] Do you believe me, or not? Are you going to throw me to the wolves, or not?
TURNER. So your name is Julia, but once you left New Jersey you shortened it from Julia to Lia. Was that supposed to make it harder for me to find you?
JULIA. It had nothing to do with you, it’s all about my daughter. I was named Julia after the Beatles song. I loved that song. Then when I realized the song was all about John Lennon’s mother, who abandoned her child when he was young….I just really didn’t want to be Julia anymore.
TURNER. So you haven’t even seen Lily in…
JULIA. Almost a year.
TURNER. [reaches into his pocket] I’ve got a better picture of Lily, she’s grown quite a bit in the last two years…
JULIA. [emotion turning to anger] Please. Just stop….You’re not my friend, okay? You’re just the guy who hasn’t gotten me killed yet. [pushes her plate away] Give me the picture! [He does, and she looks at it. He throws a bill on the table] What’s with the Benjamin?
TURNER. Your husband’s paying for dinner, don’t tell him.
JULIA. Don’t worry. Damn, should have had that steak.
TURNER. Why Milwaukee? You’ve been in half a dozen cities already, but you’ve stayed here.
JULIA. [deadpan] I love their beer….No really it’s a…a job I found here.
TURNER. It’s okay, I already know about the women’s shelter.
JULIA. I can’t leave those girls right now. And that’s all I have to keep me going. So don’t make me hit the road again. Leave me alone. Please. You people already have my daughter, isn’t that enough? You won.
TURNER. Hunter won’t give up. That’s why I came tonight. Like I said, I’m not the only guy he hired to hunt you down. They’re on the road now….Lia, when I first found you here, I told your husband about you sleeping in Ray’s bar, the strip club.
JULIA. Okay….[suddenly wary] And what else?
JULIA. [terrified, livid] You didn’t.
TURNER. I’m sorry….
JULIA. You told them about the shelter! Didn’t you?
TURNER. Lia, you can’t go back to that shelter –
JULIA. I have to go back there!
TURNER. Lia –
JULIA. God damn it! [runs out]
TURNER. Holy shit. [runs out]
PART TWO. A WOMAN’S SHELTER, DAY.
Milwaukee, a women’s shelter, Julia on the phone, looking out the window.
JULIA. Emily -- Where are you and the girl, are you safe? …Is he with you now?... [Emily and Zoe Duncan, and Tara Watson enter, Emily holding up her cellphone, smiling. Zoe is about ten.]
EMILY. He calls almost every hour. He puts a chalk mark on my tire and checks my odometer, so he can see when I go out.
JULIA. I got a mechanic friend who will see if there’s a GPS in your car. You have your panic bag packed? Clothes, documents, the works?
EMILY. Almost done.
JULIA. You went to court again, right?
EMILY. First time he got probation, it was a joke. The court put my new address in the court papers and set him free on bail without telling me – he was on my doorstep the next day!
JULIA. But this time the judge finally issued the restraining order –
EMILY. But my husband just ignores it; buying guns, harassing me, showing up where he isn’t allowed, hanging around the daycare center, to try to scare me, and then he told the cops he didn’t understand the rules, or it was a coincidence, or he missed seeing the kids.
JULIA. [holds Emily’s hand tight] Tell your boss about Wayne – he might show up at your office. Get new bank accounts and credit cards, your own phone, send the bills to a PO box.
EMILY. I gotta get a real job….I’m trying the trick where you steal a dead girl’s birth certificate …
JULIA. No, no! Get a name change and a new social number. Stay legal. And stay off the drugs.
EMILY. But you break the law all the time…
JULIA. [progressively more agitated] I’m already beyond the law. I’m being hunted by a rich man and his brother’s a cop. I can’t ever go into a courtroom. But you, stay clean. If he ever hits you again --
EMILY. Jesus, slow down. It’s not like this is the last time we’ll be talking this through….[sees the look on Julia’s face] Oh, man, what happened?
JULIA. Sorry, it’s nothing, it’s…complicated….If he hits you again, go to the doctor and the police, make sure there’s evidence and witnesses, pictures, torn clothes. Stay calm when the police come, and when you’re in court. The system isn’t always fair.
EMILY. How hard can it be to nail him, really?
JULIA. Listen up, Emily: OJ Simpson. OJ killed his wife, he left DNA evidence all over California, and he still walked….So if Wayne beats you in court, keep fighting: he’s trying to wear you down….[She crosses to Zoe.] You must be Zoe. I’m Lia. I have a girl about your age. [She takes Zoe by the hand, looks at her for a long moment, touches her hair.] I’m sorry, am I freaking you out?
ZOE. Not too much…[smiles] It’s okay.
JANE. [enters] Are you Miss Lia?
JULIA. Yes, where’s your family, sweetie?
JANE. [unsteady, she sits] My father’s in Texas.
JANE. My Mom disappeared a year ago. My Dad hit her a lot so she ran. Then he started hitting me. And then [looks warily at Zoe] some other stuff. I ran away to Chicago and a policeman told me to come here and find you.
JULIA. Christ, does the whole world know where I’m hiding?
JANE. They said you could find my Mom.
JULIA. Your Mom is trying really hard not to be found.
JANE. [upset, murmurs] Oh my God --
JULIA. We’ll just have to try a little harder. Wow, you look like you’re going to pass out, when did you eat last? Or sleep?...
JANE. I really am hungry.
JULIA. Emily, I’m sorry –
EMILY. What, are you kidding? We’ll talk later. [Jane gets up and staggers] I got this. [to Jane] Baby, we’re going to see a doctor, and then pizza.
JULIA. That’s perfect, I shouldn’t be on the street right now.
EMILY. [looks warily at Julia who shrugs helplessly; to Zoe] Come on, baby. Stay close to Mama. [Emily, Jane and Zoe leave the shelter.]
JULIA. [grabs Tara] God, girls like this just kill me…So Tara, you’re Emily’s friend, right? Okay, are you really going to stick with her?...[looks at her] You’re one of us. Aren’t you?
TARA. How did you – …lucky guess. That’s twice now – I thought I was so hard to read, and here I am, I’m the big E on the eye chart. My husband thinks I’m at the obgyn.
JULIA. Let’s start with your friend Emily. A real friend will hang in there when things get rough, and so far she doesn’t really have any friends like that. Dealing with all this is going to wipe her out – building a new life, new home, new school, new job.
TARA. I’ve been helping her to keep her chin up. A lot of Chunky Monkey.
JULIA. Be patient and listen to her. Don’t talk down to her, she needs to make her own decisions. And don’t pass judgment on her – she’s going to have people criticizing her for not leaving sooner, and people criticizing her for leaving at all….Help her to be a good mom. She’s got a little girl…
TARA. Are you okay?
JULIA. [deep breath] Help her to hang tough when she starts to weaken, when she’s thinking about letting him back into her life. Put yourself between her and him. You tell her every day: “It’s not your fault, you didn’t deserve this, and you’re not alone”. Every day.
TARA. So how do you do this every day?
JULIA. Well, after tonight, I probably won’t be able to work here at all, so Emily is going to need you….Emily and Zoe, this is an easy one. [picks up files] When these girls come in, it’s not just to cry over the cuts and bruises. They bring in their baggage. So every Saturday night, I’m Oprah, I get all their problems. [flips through files] Sexual problems, rape, drugs. Drinking! [laughs] They actually come to me for advice on drinking…. Money problems, jail, guns…
TARA. Problems with the kids?
JULIA. Absolutely….Cheating, migraines, eating disorders, mental problems, stalking….It’s like I live at the end of a long country road – the only people I see are the ones who are totally lost….I can see them coming a mile away. This guy says “she lied about me hitting her, she hit me” -- wife beater. They go to counseling, they make promises… nothing changes. They spend years grinding you down, until there’s nothing left. [Green enters.].…Oh thank God. [sees the look on his face] Greenie….what?
GREEN. Remember the Walker girl, you put her in your safe house? Her co-worker wanted to bring her some clothes? Well, she’s actually Walker’s new girlfriend, she was helping him track down his wife and our safe house. The Walker girl showed up at the station -- lucky we were open.
JULIA. So the safe house has been blown?
GREEN. Yeah. Everybody in town knows where it is now.
JULIA. Dammit! There’s two girls we have to put on the railroad.
GREEN. The railroad…?
JULIA. The railroad….Don’t ask. You’re a cop. You don’t get to play this part of the game.
TARA. Hey. You need an extra set of wheels?
JULIA. [looks hard at her] Yeah, thanks, come on. Not at the safe house – I’ll come back here to the shelter first.
GREEN. Here, I can follow you over….
JULIA. You’re a cop! What happens if some bonehead lawyer forces you to testify about the railroad? You give up the railroad, or you lose your job and your pension.
GREEN. Lia –
JULIA. [touches his cheek] Sweetie, thank you, but really, get the hell out of here. I’m on this one. [kisses him] Here’s a kiss for the baby….[He leaves; she picks up a handful of files, then throws them] Damn it! [exit]
BAILEY [on her personal cellphone] Yes, sir, adult white female, she coded on me, bled out. If you could get Children’s Services up and running…I know it’s late, but there’s a little girl I can’t find…
AN APARTMENT – NIGHT.
Julia is drunk in Anna’s apartment. Sound of a liquor bottle falling but not breaking. Through much of this scene, Turner and Julia are talking to each other through a door which still has the chain on; alternatively you can use an apartment intercom or cellphones. Turner does not go all mushy in this scene; he doesn’t do “mushy”.
TURNER. Are you alright in there? [She picks up a baseball bat, opens the door with the chain on. She picks up the dropped bottle and sits next to the door. ]
JULIA. What the hell do you care?...Just another liquor bottle bites the dust. Drinking to yet another victory. So you came to the circus to see the freaks? [Turner sits in the hallway outside the door. ]
TURNER. [firm] You are not a freak….A freak. Everybody said you were nuts -- even you think you’re nuts. After all they put you through, you’d have to be a little crazy not to be a little crazy, but if they persuaded you that you were the one who’s really off the beam, then they beat you after all.
JULIA. What do you mean “they”? Go away. [sighs] There’s nothing left for you to take. [looks at the bottle, blows on it, making a noise] I’m empty.
TURNER. No you’re not. It wasn’t bad enough that he beat you, ground you down -- he made you believe that you deserved it. There’s nothing wrong with you, you don’t need fixing, you need…healing. You’re just somebody who didn’t want to be hit anymore. You’re not a freak. You are…what’s the word…[he chuckles] a miracle, that nurse was right. You could be a force of nature, like a tornado. I can’t wait to see what the hell you’re going to do next.
JULIA. Yep, I’m just what every man dreams of….I’m not normal.
TURNER. Normal is boring. You are never boring….I think maybe you are a little crazy: no matter how many times you’ve been hurt, you can still…love people, more deeply, than anybody I ever saw. I saw that at the shelter. You can’t help yourself, loving people. You just never learn. …Look at those scars of yours. Half a dozen detectives couldn’t hunt you down. An entire town tried to crush you, but they couldn’t. Hate didn’t kill you. Love and heartache didn’t kill you. But loneliness? Loneliness will kill you. [Julia starts going to pieces. ] You know all about being lonely, don’t you? You’re tough, but you’re not hard on the inside. The really hard people can survive being alone, but you’re not one of them.
JULIA. Please stop.
TURNER. You’re dying, out here….
JULIA. Please! Make it stop!
TURNER. You have a whole crowd waiting, back home-- you have more friends than you think. When I was asking about you back in Jersey, a bunch of those people told me to go screw myself, they covered for you. Open up and let them in. You are not alone anymore….All those girls on the railroad, you’re propping them up. But who’s propping you up?
[Emotionally, Julia has completely lost it, a long-overdue catharsis. She gets up, slams the door, catches her breath. Turner gets up to leave. Still holding the bat, she slides the chain off, opens the door a bit, peers at him. She backs into the apartment. He follows her.]
JULIA. [waves the bat] You came to my house??…. Who the hell are you?
TURNER. I am pleased and a little surprised to see you alive….Look at that face. Real tears. [mock scolding] This is the second time I’ve seen you cry. Let this be a lesson -- you’re just not tough enough for your life of crime. What a cream puff. [She is stunned for a second, then sees him smiling slightly, and busts out laughing.]
JULIA. Yeah, I’m a real weakling….But I can take a punch.
TURNER. Laughing and crying all in the same day. This is a miracle….How long has it been since you laughed? [She sighs and shrugs.]
JULIA. [picks up the bottle] My anesthesia. [a spasm of pain, she puts a hand on his shoulder and leans a bit] Oh shit!...My ribs, can’t breathe….Like an idiot I ran all the way to the safe house, for all the good it did. And then you made me laugh – yeah, it’s been a while.
TURNER. Julia. The woman at the safehouse. I heard.
JULIA. [still shaky] Yeah. She had a daughter. Five years old. No one knows where she is. So today, this is nothing -- tomorrow morning I get to go find the daughter. And then…I get to tell her about her mom…I promised her I would keep her safe. [starts to lose it again]
TURNER. Who were you, before all this? What did you want? They took all your plans, they took everything you ever dreamed about, they took everything away from you, and turned you into this. I mean, look at you, you’re a jungle animal, answering the door with a baseball bat, beating people up in the street, sleeping off your hangover in the cellar of a strip club….
JULIA. Thanks a lot, you really picked me up there.
TURNER. I think your husband, turning you into that [gestures at her] that was even more terrible than just beating the crap out of you. The real you – must be somebody amazing, and he just threw her away. Is Julia still in there somewhere? [She is wiped out; she faces him, still holding the bat; he carefully remains in the doorway, or possibly they sit side by side.]
JULIA. I don’t know. I don’t remember who I was – I disappeared and nobody even noticed. Maybe this is all that’s left of me, after your boss ran me through the grinder.
TURNER. No. Go back and figure out who you are inside, under all the armor. Find your own road, and then figure out who you want to take with you….I really want to see you climb out of that cocoon, and be something… beautiful.
JULIA. Yeah, right.
TURNER. Show everyone what you showed me… Always boxing outside your weight class, and you’re still on your feet. Kind of. Ten years, you carried this crap all by yourself. I don’t think there’s anything you can’t do.
JULIA. [weary] Hooray for me.
TURNER. You showed some serious James Bond moves. That stunt with the two cabs at the Atlanta airport, six detectives had you cornered, and you disappeared. Who do you think you are, the girl with the dragon tattoo?
JULIA. Yeah, I read that book. Libraries, free entertainment!... The dragon tattoo girl, the crazy bisexual kickboxer super-genius hacker millionaire biker babe with photographic memory?...I can barely turn on a computer, I’m broke, if I had any brains I never would have gotten into this mess, and I’ve been beat up more than anyone I know.
TURNER. And no motorcycles…?
JULIA. Yeah, like I don’t spend enough time in the ER. I spend a lot of time on the Milwaukee County bus, real sexy. And tattoos are stupid – it would just make it easier for you people to find me. And I’m not tangling with Russian spies, serial killers, Nazis, bikers…..just my husband. All I have in common with the tattoo girl is, I have bad luck and [waves the bottle, possibly, and sets it down] I drink – it’s a big club.
TURNER. Maybe your luck is finally changing. [holds out a handkerchief] Wipe your eyes. [After a second, she does, pocketing the handkerchief.] You’re a New Jersey housewife, and you’re the coolest person I know. Housewives are cool – who knew?
JULIA. Funny, a new dream has popped into my head: a nice boring dream. Nursing school. I spend half my life in the ER, either I have broken ribs, or I’m helping some other girl in the same jam. I already know more about bruises than the Packers’ trainer. What about you? This can’t possibly be what you dreamed of doing….
TURNER. Lately I’ve been thinking about giving up this work entirely. I hear they’re hiring in the San Francisco police.
JULIA. So you’re going to rejoin the human race. Bravo. Sounds like somebody really wants that statue in the park…
TURNER. Right now, I’d settle for being able to look in the mirror in the morning, so I can shave.
JULIA. I want to be normal, boring. I don’t want any more adventures. I want to go home.
TURNER. Which is…where?
JULIA. I can’t believe I’m actually taking your advice. You gave me that picture of Lily, and it just hit me. I need Lily like I need…oxygen. It’s time to get my girl back. And since you screwed up Milwaukee for me….Go tell your boss. I’m coming home. [She points the bat at him.] Out.
TWO APARTMENTS -- DAY.
Alternating -- Emily talking to the audience, Wayne talking to Emily, David talking to Julia]
EMILY. When I got married, I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know before.
WAYNE. The trouble with you is you’re nagging, whining.
DAVID. Blowing it up out of nothing.
WAYNE. The trouble with you is you’re over-sensitive, overreacting.
DAVID. Pushing my buttons!
WAYNE. The trouble with you …
DAVID.I know what you really mean by that.
WAYNE. You say you’re sorry but you don’t mean it.
DAVID. You’re rude, you dress like a tramp.
WAYNE. You don’t think.
DAVID. A slob.
WAYNE. Shut up – you just don’t listen.
EMILY. He’s a take-charge kind of guy.
DAVID. You’re trying to tell me what to do??
WAYNE. My house, my rules. No wife of mine…
DAVID. I wear the pants in this house.
WAYNE. I’m the king and this is my castle.
DAVID. You’re lucky I’m here.
WAYNE. And what did I tell you to do?
DAVID. I know what’s best for you.
WAYNE. I take care of you, and you owe me. I’m teaching you a lesson.
DAVID. This is for your own good.
WAYNE. Where have you been?
DAVID. Who did you see?
WAYNE. Where do you get these ideas?
DAVID. Who are these friends you’re hanging around with?
WAYNE. All they do is badmouth me!
DAVID. I’m taking your keys.
WAYNE. What do you need money for?
DAVID. What do you need a job for? Your job is right here!
EMILY. And somehow he’s never put a foot wrong.
DAVID. But baby, it’s not my fault.
WAYNE. Baby, I was drunk.
DAVID.I was abused when I was younger.
WAYNE. I lost control.
DAVID. Of course I lied, you get mad when I tell the truth.
WAYNE. Of course I lied, I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.
DAVID. I never did that, there’s something wrong with your memory!
WAYNE. You’re imagining things.
DAVID. Sure I have other women, but that doesn’t mean I’m cheating on you.
WAYNE. What’s the big deal?
DAVID. I was only joking.
WAYNE. You have to forgive me.
DAVID. You made me do it!
WAYNE. I did it because I love you.
DAVID. It’s what you deserve.
WAYNE. You’ve got to give me another chance.
DAVID. This isn’t my fault, this is your fault, it’s you who don’t treat me right, like all the other women in my life.
WAYNE. You’re hysterical.
DAVID. You’re crazy.
WAYNE. You’re the only one who thinks there’s a problem – so what’s wrong with you?
EMILY. The day you walk out can be quite an experience.
WAYNE. I can’t live without you.
DAVID. I decide when this relationship is over.
WAYNE. I’ll hurt myself.
DAVID. I’ll hurt you.
WAYNE. I’ll hurt the kids.
DAVID. No one will believe you.
WAYNE. I’ll cut off the child support.
DAVID. I’ll wreck your job and your reputation.
WAYNE. Nobody will ever love you like I do.
Emily stands and speaks quietly.
EMILY. You’re damn right, nobody will ever “love” me like that.
She looks at him.
EMILY. Never again. I won’t allow it.
AN APARTMENT – NIGHT.
Milwaukee again. Julia and Anna on couch, eating Chinese, drinking wine.
JULIA. [looks at TV in front of them, throughout the scene] You know, Anna, five-ten years now, either I was trapped in my own house, or running all over the country, you know how many honest-to-God friends I’ve had, the whole time?...You’re it. The only one….
JULIA. No kidding -- to me, you are just plain…beautiful, top to bottom, inside and out. I mean, the parts that really are beautiful, those demonic eyes of yours, and [waves her hand] all that other stuff.
ANNA. What in the world…? What do you mean, “other stuff”?
JULIA. When you come home to me every night, curling up in front of the TV, that’s when I’m happy. I actually feel normal here with you. A vacation from reality.
ANNA. How much of that wine have you had? I told you, girl, you need to dial it back…. Alright, what’s going on?
JULIA. I’m saying goodbye. I’m not doing a good job of it. I have to go find my daughter. I’ve got a battle on my hands. [gets up, picks up duffel bag] If you like to get a bet down, the smart money says I lose. But I can’t hide anymore. Vacation’s over.
ANNA. Baby, you can’t just get on the interstate like that, let’s go out somewhere –
JULIA. [deep breath] No, then I’d have to say goodbye to you twice – I can barely handle this one… [She leaves.]
Tara is sitting, looking into a bedroom mirror, Emily and Green behind her, also looking into the mirror. Tara is possibly brushing her hair, or putting makeup over a black eye.
TARA. I just can’t believe how bad I screwed this up…
EMILY. Tara, are you really going to make me give you the speech? The “It’s not your fault” speech?...Here, look at this magazine. Pretend that this picture is Ethel, the worst wife in the world. She’s in the Guinness book.
TARA. Ethel? That’s Angelina Jolie, dude.
EMILY. I know, but pretend it’s Ethel. Worst wife in the world, she drinks, she smokes, she tokes, the house is a mess, the kids are a mess. She spends money like a drunken sailor, she sleeps around, she even hits her husband. She is the worst wife in the world.
EMILY. The point is that even the worst wife in the world doesn’t deserve to get hit. No woman deserves to get hit. And you’re not Ethel, kid. No matter how lowdown he tells you you are, no matter how lowdown you think you are, you’re not Ethel. There’s no way in the world he can beat you over and over, without persuading you that you deserve it. And persuading you that you’re Ethel. But you’re not.
TARA. He tells me I’m worthless, and when I look in the mirror, that’s pretty much what I see.
[they all look in the “mirror” facing the audience]
GREEN. I see a woman who has survived in a man’s world since the day she was born.
EMILY. I see a woman doing the hardest job in the world, marriage, with the worst possible partner.
GREEN. I see a woman dealing with the worst possible betrayal…
EMILY. The man who promised to love her above all, becoming her worst enemy.
GREEN. Doing all he can to make all her choices painful, impossible.
EMILY. I see a woman who survived the betrayal of friends and family, a woman who survived the judges who didn’t believe and the cops who didn’t care –
EMILY. [smiles] Except for Greenie….I see a woman who brushed off broken bones and burns and bruises that would reduce most men to blubbering idiots.
GREEN. I see a woman who has come closer than almost anyone, to the very real threat of death, without collapsing.
EMILY. Like a war veteran, only she isn’t getting any medals for her heroism.
GREEN. I see a woman who has been held hostage by a terrorist for years, without falling apart.
EMILY. A woman who has had to live like a fugitive, without collapsing.
GREEN. A woman who did it!
EMILY. She escaped!
GREEN. Turning her whole life upside down, new home, new work, new school.
EMILY. That’s enough stress to kill most normal people.
GREEN. Even though she was totally unprepared for all this -- she didn't get to go to "I Married a Psychopath" boot camp.
EMILY. I see a woman with more capacity for patience and self-denial than a church full of nuns.
GREEN. If I had to go on some dangerous spy mission in a hostile country, this is the woman I would take.
EMILY. Because she can do anything, solve anything, endure anything.
GREEN. You couldn’t write a book about her life because no one would buy it, it’s too incredible. [points] Angelina Jolie would have to play her in the movie, but she’d need months in the gym just to keep up with all the stunts.
EMILY. I see a girl who…blossomed, a long time ago, and she’s ready to blossom again…Don’t be rolling your eyes at me!...Now come out to the kitchen, so we can polish off the last of my husband’s bourbon.
TARA. [perks up] I’ve never got drunk on Bourbon before.
EMILY. [wary] Oh boy. [they’re off to the kitchen]
A COURTROOM – DAY.
A courtroom, New Jersey, Julia waiting, with a titanic hangover; Sarah enters.
JULIA. Sarah! Christ, what are you doing in New Jersey?
SARAH. I’m here to bail you out of a jam, again. Ray – the bartender? Told me to give you this [kisses Julia] I know Ray’s a rotten old bastard, tossed you out of the bar….
JULIA. Sarah, I gotta tell you, I adore Ray. Even in that crappy little strip club, he made sure that everybody there treated the girls with respect, and if you broke the rules you were out on your can. I wish Ray could run the whole country that way.
SARAH. [like a campaign ad] President Ray! Half-price Bud for Happy Hour! [smiles]
JULIA. Please, God, don’t even talk about beer. I have a hangover that could kill you and three more like you. [Olivia Reid, female lawyer, enters.]
REID. [shakes Julia’s hand] Mrs Hunter, Judge King will be here any minute. We need to talk afterward. Remember, cool and calm. [Judge King enters, all rise. ]
JULIA. Ohhhhh, God.
KING. Everybody sit. Alright, for now, I’m going to try to handle this case informally, otherwise we’ll be here forever. We’ll start by discussing custody for… [consults notes] Lily Hunter. Mrs Hunter has a list of witnesses on her behalf….
JULIA. [aside to Reid] Witnesses on my – what the hell happened?
REID. I’m not sure myself. Somebody put in some sort of amicus maybe. It sounds like they’re on your side, but I have no idea who it is.
KING. Alright, Ms Reid, could you go find these witnesses of yours?
REID. Your Honor, I don’t even know who these people –
KING. Well, I’ve got a list, I’ll reel them off for you. Sarah McIntosh, Andrea Jackson, Emily Duncan, Adam Turner, Molly Kincaid, and also…Lily Hunter. [The last five enter, Turner suffering in a shirt and tie; Emily accompanied by her daughter. Molly comes last, escorting Lily and planting her in a chair in the witness box; Lily, 10, has a coat over her shoulders.]
KING. Could I have that police report please? [Molly hands it to her.]
LILY. Hi Mom.
JULIA. Lily!...Why is she here in the hearing?
REID. [grabs Julia’s arm] Don’t talk to any of the witnesses. Your husband’s lawyer has already been making noises about witness tampering. These guys know a lot about witness tampering.
JULIA. I can’t even talk to Lily?
REID. Especially not Lily….There’s been a development. Now don’t panic….[Molly takes off Lily’s coat to reveal a cast on Lily’s arm.]
JULIA. [frees herself from Reid and points] What happened to your arm, is it….[she figures it out] David. Where. Is. That. Bastard. Where is he! [Reid grabs her arm again.]
KING. I beg your pardon?
REID. [rolls her eyes] “Cool and calm”….
JULIA. “Don’t panic”?? Have you lost your mind?
REID. [aside] Calm down, the judge is already wondering whether you really are insane. Your husband’s not here. [looks around] Neither is that lawyer of his. They might actually be in criminal court downstairs, getting booked….
MOLLY. [to Lily] So, tell me again, is this one the humerus bone or the radius?
LILY. [rolls her eyes] Duh. That’s the ulna bone. And that is a Monteggia Fracture. First he broke the bone, and then it twisted. I have got the coolest scar. [Zoe sits next to Lily and shows Lily her Nintendo. Tara sees them, smiles, and looks over at Julia who nods, still in a state of shock. ]
KING. Officer, I’d like to see Miss Hunter in my office. [Julia reacts.] Not you, the girl. [King, Kincaid exit. Lily takes a step toward Julia, stops, gives Julia an intense stare for five seconds, closes her eyes and opens them again.]
LILY. Just. You. Wait. [she half-smiles, exits]
JULIA. What in God’s name happened to Lily?
REID. I didn’t want to go over this with you until we were in private. Word got out that you were coming back. Lily insisted that your husband let her see you. Your husband went berserk. Total Visigoth. [smiles] Lily doesn’t put up with any crap. She went straight to her teacher…
JULIA. And the school called the police.
REID. Yep. None of this “I fell off the swing” bullshit. Lily’s heart is as big as all outdoors, just like yours, but she inherited her ruthlessness from her father, tough luck for him….Lily gave a two-hour statement to the police, she spoke in complete, organized paragraphs, she never repeated herself, she never made a factual error. She’s the most amazing witness I’ve ever seen. And she never cried.
REID. [looks at witnesses] Wow, you said you didn’t have any friends in this town.
JULIA. I’ve been gone for a while….[looks at Turner] Turner rounded up the witnesses, didn’t he. I don’t need him to fight my battles --
REID. Sounds as though he’s been watching you take care of business for a year. I think he got tired of watching you do it all by yourself. I do know Ms McIntosh took a bus all the way from Milwaukee -- Turner used a little of the Hunter money. [smiles] I think those guys are going to ask for their retainer back. [Julia watches Turner take off his tie and exit.] Oh, I met Turner in the hall, he told me to tell you – look in your bag. [Julia does, finds a package, and a note which she opens.]
JULIA. Oh my God, I can’t right now.
REID. That’s what you have a lawyer for. [reads] “Julia. It was pretty sloppy, leaving your bag out in the open again. The witnesses weren’t really for the judge. They were for you. To show you, you are not alone…..PS You stopped wearing necklaces because of him. In the little box…”
JULIA. [opens it] It’s a necklace.
REID. “A pendant with the letter J. Because there’s nothing wrong with being plain old Julia. And it’s time to put on the necklace again, because you’re a beautiful woman, and nobody’s going to hurt you anymore. You can stop hiding and looking over your shoulder. You’re free. You can let it all go. You don’t need that armor anymore. Adam Turner”…Wow. This is the guy who hunted you down?
JULIA.[looks at her bag] That sneaky sumbitch. [Molly reenters.]
MOLLY. Mrs Hunter, your husband is being arraigned. That daughter of yours – Jesus! – she talked the judge into giving you temporary custody.
REID. If you cross the state line with Lily, let me know.
MOLLY. The judge didn’t even need to talk to the other witnesses – your daughter made the sale all by herself.
REID. I’ll bet.
MOLLY. Lily really, really wants to talk to you.
MILWAUKEE PUBLIC LIBRARY -- DAY.
Library, Lily, Julia and Jane in an internet café near the main desk, a table with a globe. Jane’s back is to the door. Julia watches the door.
LIBRARIAN. [answering the phone] Milwaukee public library…
JANE. Lily, thanks for all those books. You’re about the best friend I’ve had, next to your mom.
LILY. No sweat, dude. [points] I’m still trying to score a copy of Half-Blood Prince. [exits]
JULIA. So the new foster family is a little better?
JANE. Anything was better than the last family.
JULIA. Well, I’m going to see if I can do something for you. Just wait here for a bit, okay?
[Turner meets Julia, they look at each other for a minute.]
TURNER. Who’s the girl?
JULIA. That’s Jane. She’s one of my girls. I’ve been working on her case all year.
TURNER. How are you sleeping?
JULIA. Long as Lily is in the next room, I sleep like a baby.
TURNER. I talked to Molly back in Jersey. Your husband’s probably going to get off with probation and rehab. He could even fight for custody of Lily.
JULIA. Oh God…
TURNER. I checked around, and your husband brought in a new detective, he worked narcotics in New York and then quit the force. Actually he’s more of a legbreaker than a detective. He’s got a whole team. They’re playing hardball now. Desperate people do stupid things. And they know you used to live here in Milwaukee.
JULIA. Seriously, they didn’t catch me the first time, they won’t catch me now…
TURNER. Lia! [softer] Lia, the guy who fractured your sister-in-law’s skull? I think this is the guy.
JULIA. Oh. [Turner goes to the globe and reaches to the far side.]
TURNER. Lia, I’m reaching to the other side of the world here – I don’t know what country my finger is on, but go there. Seriously. Some place where you don’t get bars on your phone. If not for yourself – do you want this gorilla within a thousand miles of Lily?
JULIA. Where’s Lily?
TURNER. Still looking for Harry Potter….See the big Ford in the parking lot? The guy behind the wheel is just sitting there.
JULIA. Turner –
TURNER. Julia, I think they’re already here.
JULIA. Turner. Having you been using credit cards? When you rented the second car in Chicago?
TURNER. Oh shit.
JULIA. Great. They’re not hunting me, now they’re hunting you, to find me. This is my husband’s way of telling you, you’re fired. What, are you back to trying to get me killed again?....Turner, I’m sorry. Seriously, I’m sorry.
TURNER. Okay, it’s time to use the judge’s cards.
JULIA. The cards?...I keep telling you. There’s one more thing I need to do here in Milwaukee. Before we go…. Can you find Lily?
TURNER. You know, you go to the movies and they try to scare you with monsters, terrorists, drug dealers, serial killers….And all the time, the scariest guys are all around us, in our own houses, guys like your husband.
JULIA. Fine you convinced me, I’m scared. Go find Lily….Now! [Turner goes to the back of the library. ]
JULIA. [to librarian] You know the women’s shelter downtown, right?
LIBRARIAN. Actually I do.
JULIA. And the safe house we used to have?
LIBRARIAN. Yeah, I heard about that.
JULIA. Is there a back door to this place?
LIBRARIAN. What do you -- [it sinks in] Oh….[picks up the ringing phone] Public library….Officer Hunter, what can I do for you?....Julia Hunter? [looks at Julia who shakes her head] I’m not sure I’ve ever met her, so I couldn’t tell you, could you describe her to me?....Sorry, it doesn’t ring a bell, I see a hundred people a day….But good luck, Officer….I hope she’s safe. [hangs up, thinks] Meet me back by the bathrooms. [Librarian goes to the back; Turner and Lily enter]
TURNER. Okay, Lily, let’s see how smart you are. A few weeks ago I got a package from Judge King. [pulls out envelope] Social Security cards, all three of us have the same last name now! Can you tell me why?
LILY. Actually I was kinda hoping for that. That’s the first smart idea I’ve heard all day. [Turner and Julia take a long look at each other]
JULIA. And why would that be?
TURNER. Don’t get carried away, just because I’m the first guy in years who didn’t treat you like dirt. I don’t want to see anybody run you through the grinder again, not even me.
JULIA. [rolls her eyes] Jesus Christ. Those bastards beat me like a freakin’ piñata for seven years and then hunted me like an animal. And you think you’re going to jack me up more than they did? [laughing] You better call for backup, Mister Five-O. You’re not afraid you’re going to hurt me, you’re afraid you’re going to hurt me and then I’m going to kick your ass….I know you think you’re so big and tough, but I’ve seen you in action, remember? You’re a cream puff. [touches his chest; serious] The only way you can hurt me is by losing my daughter. I don’t need to give you the big speech, do I? About keeping her safe? My sister in law, Kathy, last month I went to her gravesite. You understand me?...We’re out of time. Pick a city.
JULIA. Pick a city!
JULIA. Pick a city that isn’t right around the corner from my husband!
LILY. Mom. San Francisco. [looks at Turner]
JULIA. [looks hard at him] Can you find me there?
TURNER. I think so.
JULIA. Can you find me there before the legbreakers do?
TURNER. Let’s find out.
JULIA. Remember, never even say the words “San Francisco” out loud. Not to anyone, not even to our friends. No hotel reservations, no tickets, nothing online, no credit cards [glares at Turner], no phone calls ….Nobody can figure out our plan, if there is no plan.
TURNER. Okay, Lily, think it through again. Why do we all have the same last name now?
LILY. [pauses] Boy am I stupid. You didn’t want to have the same name as Mom. You wanted to have the same name as me.
TURNER. [nods] So if something happens to your mom, you come with me. You don’t have to go back to your dad. He might break your arm all over again, just to find out where your mom is.
LILY. Yeah. [looks at Turner for a long time, then nods]
TURNER. I have to tell you now, I’m pretty strict, about bedtime, about dating…
LILY. Yeah, and wrapping you around my little finger will take me…how long?
TURNER. Maybe two days. [they smile] Bonus question, Lily. I’m taking two of the IDs. Why?...Your father’s men are coming right now. They’re looking for all three of us, or else you and your mom together, a mom and a daughter. What’s the one thing they aren’t looking for?
LILY. [to Turner] You and me together. [to Julia] Mom….no, no!
JULIA. Lily, tonight, you and Adam are getting in a car and heading south. I’m getting on a bus heading west.
LILY. Mom, what are you talking about –
JULIA. Sweetie, we don’t have time. They’re coming now. We’re taking different routes to San Francisco. That way they can’t get us both all in one fell swoop.
TURNER. Just remember, this is your idea, not mine. I think you’re nuts.
LILY. I think you’re nuts too.
JULIA. See, already the two of you think alike!....Turner, you were a cop, right?
JULIA. And you still pack a gun, right?
JULIA. And that’s why you’re the one to protect Lily.
LILY. Okay….Now I get it.
JULIA. Listen, I stayed alive all those years, just trust me….And Adam? It wasn’t just that you didn’t treat me like dirt. You dragged your feet, looking for me. You had a million chances to throw us to the lions…If you couldn’t even give me away, you could never give away Lily.
TURNER. You make me sound like your guardian angel. You never needed me for all this. You saved yourself. Just like Lily did. I gave you a “get out of jail free” card, you should have run all the way to China. Instead you went back to Jersey, right into the lion’s den. And all by yourself, you got your girl.
JULIA.[to Lily] And I’m coming to get you again….
LILY. Mommy –
JULIA. I need you to hang tough and do your job.
LILY. My job?
JULIA. I need you to help Adam find me in San Francisco, before those other guys do….Okay?...Turner, swear to God, if you mess this up…
TURNER. Hey, I’m not afraid of what you’re going to do, I’m more afraid of Lily. Look what she did to her own father in that police station…Seriously. I don’t know why you did it this way, you don’t need me for this trip.
JULIA. [looks at him] Come anyway….[smiles] You said you wanted to see what happens next…?...[a bit derisively] Or is there some line you can’t cross?....We’re splitting up tonight. After we go to Ray’s.
TURNER. They know all about Ray’s! It’s too dangerous!
JULIA. We have to do something. At Rays. Something…incredible….
RAY’S BAR, MILWAUKEE.
ZOE [enters] Gimme a whiskey, Mister. [Emily and Tara follow]
RAY. What the hell is going on? We close in ten minutes.
EMILY. They told us to be here at closing time.
RAY. Who told you?
[Julia enters with Turner, Lily, Jane]
JULIA. Hey, Ray.
RAY. [takes a long look] Just go easy on my beer supply, for once. [Julia hugs him]
TURNER. Adam Turner. This is Lily. [Zoe and Jane play with a Nintendo, Jane with her back to the door]
RAY. Used to be a cop?
TURNER. How can you tell?...Never mind.
RAY. Beer’s on me. If you’re taking care of Julia you need it.
SARA. [entering with Misty] Hey, Ray, can we shut down the….oh my God! [They hug Julia who groans] And hey, you’re sober!
JULIA. [marching to the bar] Not for long!
SARA. So why are you back in Milwaukee?
JULIA. [smiles] You’ll see. It’s a surprise.
SARA. Hang on a minute, I’m almost done with my homework. [Lily follows Sara]
TARA. [to Turner] Mister Turner!
TURNER. So you didn’t get on that bus, then?
TARA. I got a lawyer instead.
TURNER. Rock and roll.
BAILEY. So you’re Turner, the great white bounty hunter?
TURNER. What’s it to you?
BAILEY. I’ve been trying to figure out whose side you’re on.
TURNER. Yeah, me too.
BAILEY. Well, just in the last three days, three different guys came nosing around our headquarters.
TURNER. Out of state plates?
BAILEY. [nods] Looking for Julia. Bringing Julia to Ray’s was just plain crazy, get her out of town tonight.
TURNER. I told her, she insisted on coming here tonight.
BAILEY. Okay, something we need to do real quick. [exits]
TURNER. So when can we go?
JULIA. Not yet! I told you!
ANNA. [enters with Chinese food] Just ain’t a party without General Tso. [Anna and Julia look at each other and then hug]
LILY. [holding the physics textbook] No, no! You’re using the wrong formula! This is centrifugal force.
SARA. [scribbling] Centrifugal…
LILY. Yeah. That trick you do with those tassels of yours? Centrifugal force….At least you have tassels.
SARA. Don’t worry, kid. Your tassels are coming soon. And then things are gonna get really interesting.
LILY. So Mom, why are we here?
JULIA. [Green enters] Greenie, what happened?
GREEN. Lia, today would be a good day for you to play the lottery. Your luck is ungodly.
JULIA. [beams] About time too. And your timing is perfect.
GREEN. Who says I can’t help with the railroad?
LILY. Mom, what’s wrong?
GREEN. So you didn’t tell them?
JULIA. Hell no. It’s a surprise. I was working on this thing for months.
JULIA. Just. You. Wait.
LILY. I have the meanest mom ever.
JULIA. [points to Turner’s envelope] Gimme that…[to Jane] You know what blood money is?
JULIA. On behalf of the Hunter family, I want you to have this…
JANE. What the…[looks inside] Oh my God!
JULIA. Hold onto it, in case we get separated…or something….
[Bailey and Mrs. Wheeler enter, behind Jane; Wheeler stands behind Jane’s chair]
JANE. Separated??...[looks at the money] You’re not going to leave me all alone?...Where are you going?
JULIA. Where are you going?
WHEELER. You best get yourself out of that chair, Texas, I got the drop on ya.
JANE. Mom. [she turns] Mommy! Mommy! [runs to her mother]
JULIA. Green, Green, Officer Green! You are the bomb! The ab-so-lute bomb! [Bailey exits]
GREEN. [they high-five] Well, you did all the grunt work.
TURNER. Where did you find her? [Julia glares at him] Never mind.
JULIA. Once in a while, I manage to bring one home alive.
LILY. [crying] I have the Coolest. Mom. Ever!
TURNER. [laughs, hands her a hankie] Another girl who can’t stop crying.
LILY. Oh shut up…..
JULIA. ….[looks at Jane] Now we can go.
TURNER. See, I was right. Deep down, you’re total mush, like a country love song.
JULIA. And I love raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. You wanted to know the real me? Total girly girl….Might as well warn you now.
LILY. How big is San Francisco?
JULIA. Shh…Big….Christmas under the Golden Gate, baby!...Time to go now. [Julia hugs Lily, Julia groans]. Easy on the ribs, baby. [Lily crosses to Turner]
GREEN. [looking out front window] Bunch of cars rolling into the parking lot.
BAILEY. [reenters] Back alley’s clear. Let’s make this quick.
JULIA. Turner. [they look at each other] You know I’m trusting you with…
TURNER. I know.
JULIA. You know I can’t keep breathing if I don’t get her back –
TURNER. [nods] Like oxygen….Try to get some sleep on the bus. [Lily and Turner run out the back with Bailey ]
JULIA. [center stage with her duffel bag; deep breath, pulls on her Packers cap, or possibly a Niners cap] Run, baby, run. [exit with Green]
Monday, 11 March 2013
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Reverend White, and Faith, his daughter
Josh, operator of a make-shift homeless shelter
Maggie, resident at the shelter
Solomon, a preacher
Setting, a church in a small American town, modern day.
[Lights up on the Reverend at a lectern, in the middle of his sermon, speaking to the audience]
REVEREND. Alright, we’re most of the way through our service, remember that next week’s sermon is going to address homosexuality. I’m finished with my actual sermon, but we’re going to do something a little different today. At the suggestion of the bishop, I’m going to open up the floor so we can have a bit of dialogue here. The bishop has the notion that we need a little more give-and-take in our ministry here. So….our sermon today was on abortion, but I’ll take questions on any subject, don’t want to be rigid.
REVEREND. Yes, go ahead, get us started. Let’s have some fun. What’s your name, sweetie?
MAGGIE. I’m Maggie, I live down at that new shelter. And this is Josh, he runs the place.
REVEREND. You’re the one who runs that shelter?
JOSH. Yes. We came here together.
REVEREND. And you had a question, a comment?
MAGGIE. Well, we’ve only been in town for a few weeks, and we’ve been hearing a lot from the folks at the shelter about your work here. We heard you took over the school board, getting rid of evolution and sex ed, taking Martin Luther King out of the schoolbooks, stopping the HPV shots, pumping up that charter school that can’t even teach proper English…forcing teachers to expose gay students.
JOSH. And then we saw what you did to the women’s clinic. You posted the doctor’s address online, and his daughter’s school, so they had to run away, leave town. They had to fly in doctors in choppers, one of them got shot at, it was like the fall of Saigon. Now you’re at the state house, trying to make it justifiable homicide to kill the clinic doctors, put a girl in jail if she can’t prove her miscarriage wasn’t an abortion. You got an army of screaming maniacs surrounding the clinic, women are running out of state to get treatment.
REVEREND. Now wait a minute --
MAGGIE. So we started coming to your church. Sitting in the back, real polite. You’ve been preaching destruction for the people who disagree with you, attacking the other churches when they don’t join your holy wars, burning CDs, burning books…
JOSH. You’ve gone beyond trying to pray away the gay, and now you’re talking about kidnapping the children of gay couples, to save their souls…?
MAGGIE. And last week you came after us, the shelter. You told everybody to steer clear of us, and you’re boycotting all the charities that are helping us. I kinda thought Jesus was all about helping the sick and the poor.
REVEREND. I’m doing the same work I’ve always been doing, providing moral guidance to this community. Religion is where people get their morality, always have.
MAGGIE. So why is all the immorality rampant in all those red states with all the churches? They have the most dangerous cities, the worst rates for burglary, theft, murder.
REVEREND. But all morality comes from religion. If we don’t have the Bible, where do we get morality from?
JOSH. The Bible? Morality? Hmm, let’s see. Book of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Jehovah promises to force the Israelites into cannibalism. Parents eating their children. Kings, pregnant women are sliced open. Samuel, God creates a three-year famine because the wrong people were massacred.
MAGGIE. Slavery, slavery, slavery.
JOSH. Kings, children are torn apart by bears and their heads are thrown in baskets. Zechariah, kill your child if he even mentions another religion. Abraham, kill your child. Jephthah, kill your child.
MAGGIE. Garden of Gethsemane, kill your child.
JOSH. Forgot that one.
MAGGIE. Genocide, treachery, assassination, infanticide, the death penalty for offenses that are minor or just plain silly…
REVEREND. Come on, the Bible is not all killing.
JOSH. You’re absolutely right. Sorry -- morality, right? We have the bedroom escapades of Solomon, Esther and Ruth, the pornography in Song of Songs.... Abraham gave the Pharaoh his wife to sleep with, to save his own life. Lot offered his daughters to be raped by strangers, so they wouldn’t bother him –
Maggie. Then his daughters got him drunk, slept with him, and got pregnant.
JOSH. Judges, a priest gave his concubine to a gang which raped her until she died; he then cut up her body.
MAGGIE. Ethnic cleansing, senseless cruelty, rape, intolerance, racism, masturbation, incest....
REVEREND. But only a priest can establish rules for love and marriage! Only the church can stop unnatural sex!
JOSH. And what is the most unnatural form of sex? Celibacy! Priests! Their life with their altar boys and their housekeepers and their wine and candles and incense – that’s not unnatural? The one man in town who knows nothing about love, marriage, divorce, contraception, a woman’s right to choose, and they insist on lecturing the rest of us on all of it.
MAGGIE. Like having a blind man drive you to the airport.
JOSH. And then sitting in the confessional all day, listening to women and girls talking about their sexual urges.
MAGGIE. We do wonder why people take celibate priests seriously when they give us their expertise on marriage, and take pedophile priests seriously when they lecture us on morality.
REVEREND. That’s the Catholics, don’t blame me.
JOSH. There is the whole wave of financial crimes by churches and preachers, the sexual escapades, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker...Unsurprising when you put the sexually repressed in control of the totally vulnerable….
REVEREND. Only the clergy can lead us through these problems.
JOSH. Jesus didn’t want priests at all, he hated priests. When the disciples asked him about picking new rabbis like the Jews had, Jesus said no. He said they had one God and one Messiah, and the rest of the believers were all brothers, all equal. Go read Matthew.
REVEREND. Who will teach us morality if the churches don’t?
MAGGIE. Ah. Right. God’s spokesmen are supposed to be the world’s moral authority. So...the Holocaust. Biggest moral issue of the last century. The world waited for the Pope to denounce the Holocaust. Nada....he did nothing.
JOSH. Plenty of primitive tribes out there found their way to a moral life just fine, with no God at all. Morality is self-evident – it can’t be a mystery handed down to us by a God no one can see.
MAGGIE. Back before I got off track, I worked with Child Protective Services, and we had to remove children from a cult one year, it was child abuse. What if we held your church to the same yardstick? You get ‘em young, target kids deliberately like the Nazis and Phillip Morris, selling this product to vulnerable minds, like crack dealers. Then you scare the hell out of them. You people pick up that book of yours, and read horror stories to children -- the Israelites committing genocide in the book of Joshua, Jehovah constantly killing or threatening to kill individual people or even all mankind -- and then terrorize children with fairy tales about spending eternity in hellfire. And how can any parent tell their child that God killed his own son for no apparent reason? There is good stuff in the Bible, but somehow that part never gets into your sermons.
REVEREND. Children learn when they fear punishment.
JOSH. You make them fear and hate new ideas, so they never question anything, never think, never decide for themselves. You fill their heads with lies, superstition and stupidity.
MAGGIE. You tell them that science is just plain wrong.
JOSH. You want science out of the schools -- and prayer into the schools. You teach them ignorance.
MAGGIE. Children have a right to be protected from such abuse, don’t you think? If kids were taught to think and question, instead of hating – if they did that overseas, there would be no suicide bombers.
REVEREND. Well, do you have a better way to keep them out of trouble when they grow up?
JOSH. Well, look at how you do it. You insist that one of the most dangerous things for children -- sex -- is the one thing they should never have explained to them, so they can be safe. Protecting children from the dangers of the world is admirable, but protecting them from knowledge of the dangers of the world is child abuse. Stay married, even if your husband beats you, have lots of kids --
MAGGIE. Saint Paul’s epistle to the Fallopians!
JOSH. If a cult brainwashed and abused children the way you have, the police would be at the door lickety-split. Wouldn’t they?
REVEREND. Your view of the faith is completely distorted. The Bible isn’t dangerous. It’s all about love. About God’s love for us.
MAGGIE. God loves us? Well, here’s your Bible. Jehovah loves Adam so much that he gives Adam a thirst for knowledge and then punishes Adam for reaching out for it – punishes all his descendants too.
JOSH. Jehovah punishes all the men of Babel for reaching out for truth. And ruins Job’s life on a bar bet with Satan, just for the fun of it.
MAGGIE. Jehovah demands that Abraham kill his son, and Jephtha kills his daughter to prove his love for God.
JOSH. Jehovah demands that Moses dedicate his life to the impossible task of freeing the Jews and building Israel, and then doesn’t even let Moses go there.
MAGGIE. Jehovah kills the whole city of Sodom, kills all the newborn boys in Egypt.
JOSH. Jehovah sends Joshua to the Holy Land to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing – but don’t kill the virgins, give them to the soldiers!
MAGGIE. Jehovah ordered Saul to slaughter the Amalekites, every man, woman and child. Saul let one victim live, and Jehovah destroyed him for it.
JOSH. What’s the first book of the Bible?
JOSH. And the last book?
JOSH. And the first book of the Bible and the last book tell the same story, Jehovah killing almost all of mankind because people didn’t love him enough.
MAGGIE. So, Jehovah ends the story the way he started it, with the overwhelming mass murder of most of mankind.
JOSH. Jehovah doesn’t love you, he loves killing. If you insist on reading the Bible literally, word for word, that’s the God you get. A murderer.
MAGGIE. It got to be a joke – when Jonah was in Nineveh and Jehovah decided not to kill everybody in the city, Jonah got mad at him – “hey, you’re Jehovah, mass murder is what you do!”
REVEREND. Why is this going on in my church?
JOSH. The really sad part was the book of Joshua. The Israelites committing genocide in the holy land? But afterward they proved that it didn’t happen the way the book says. The guy who wrote that book, whoever it was – they didn’t kill thousands of people, but they wanted everybody to think they did.
MAGGIE. A couple of weeks ago, you were leading your folks through the Psalms, Psalm 137, by the rivers of Babylon. Ever read that Psalm all the way through? “Happy shall he be, that takes and dashes your infants against the rocks.” At least that one is about killing their enemies’ children, not their own.
REVEREND. But how can you deny that God loves us?
JOSH. So why does he come up with so many ways to kill us? One more cruel than the other? For centuries he sent us plagues, cholera, typhus, TB, yellow fever, smallpox, influenza, and just sat back and watched us die.
MAGGIE. He hit us with mosquitos and rats and locusts.
JOSH. He liked killing us with cancer so much, that he invented a dozen different kinds.
MAGGIE. When he didn’t feel like killing us dead, he’d hit us with Lou Gehrig, MS, birth defects, polio.
JOSH. He kills millions of young children each year, children too young to know what sin was. When he was really in a bad mood we got hit with Ebola and HIV.
MAGGIE. The Irish prayed hardest of all and they got the potato famine; the Mexicans prayed day and night and got the swine flu.
JOSH. When disease didn’t kill fast enough he’d hit us with floods, droughts, earthquakes, hurricanes. And the occasional volcano.
MAGGIE. And sometimes he’d send in his God Team, priests terrorizing all of Europe with inquisitions and executions and excommunication, twenty thousand innocent women killed for witchcraft, horror stories about children going to limbo.
JOSH. Even his own son. Why did Jesus have to die by execution? If he had to die for our sins, couldn’t it just be by old age? And is there intelligent life on other planets? Did Jesus have to go from one planet to another, dying over and over and over?
REVEREND. We are the people chosen by God. God made a covenant with us.
MAGGIE. Yes, according to the Bible. A lot of promises. And what happened? God chose the Israelites, and then allowed his people to be thrown out of the “promised land” by unbelievers, driven into exile and slavery by unbelievers, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians, overrun by Romans, chased all over Europe for two thousand years.
JOSH. And then that whole Holocaust thing.
MAGGIE. The Jews who obeyed the Torah got hosed. Pagan idolators who did everything imaginable to break God's laws, like the Romans, the Huns, the Goths, and then the lords of the Middle Ages -- they got to conquer the world. A little practical joke on the "chosen people"?
REVEREND. But I’m a Christian…
JOSH. Okay, fair enough. The Roman Emperors promise to follow your God, and God allowed the Empire to be crushed by unbelievers. The Crusaders followed God, and God let the Muslims slaughter them, even the army of children.
MAGGIE. You believers still believed, when God killed fifty million of you in the plague, and when you had a pope in Rome and another in France, each claiming the other was an imposter.
JOSH. And again when the Catholics and the Protestants went at it – they couldn’t both be right!
MAGGIE. You kept believing when Galileo and Darwin proved the Bible was wrong, and when one preacher after another was caught raping children, sleeping with their so-called housekeepers, stealing money.
JOSH. Same with the men who claim they are godly. Oral Roberts lied to you for years, and then warned that God would kill him if you didn’t give him eight million bucks – and you gave it to him. Your church leaders said if you gave money to the right politicians they would ban abortion, they never did. They’re making you the same promises on gay marriage.
MAGGIE. So how many times does Lucy pull away the football and watch Charlie Brown fall on his ass, before Charlie Brown gets the message? I mean, there’s some plain gullibility here. [Josh and Maggie turn to the audience] Hello, you don’t know me, but from the minute you were born, you were condemned to spend all eternity in flames, you and all of mankind, because that girl ate an apple. You are responsible for the sin of Adam and for the crucifixion even though they happened long before you were born. Everyone is guilty no matter what, so we own you no matter what. But listen to everything we say with any questions, and give us money every week, and you’ll go to a really nice place after you die.
JOSH. So why should I believe you?
MAGGIE. You want proof? See, there ya go with the questions! It’s a mystery. Sorry, ya gotta buy the whole package: God, the devil, heaven, hell, creation, miracles....Here’s another: this bread and wine will change to human flesh and blood by magic, and then you’re going to eat it.
JOSH. Here’s another: this is a bone belonging to one of our greatest members – pray to the bone and your prayer will come true....
MAGGIE. Hey, we’re flexible people! It only took us a couple of centuries to admit that man is an animal and the earth is a satellite!
JOSH. God is my special, magical, invisible friend. He can do anything, but you can't see it. Of all the trillions of creatures in the world, he knows he, he loves me, and that makes me better than you. When I do something bad, he washes it away. And he will make me live forever, even after I die, although you won't see that either. He's magic!
MAGGIE. If I had a child who came to me with a story like that, I'd make her scrub toilets until she came to her senses…. You know what your church sounds like, with the gift shop, the velvet paintings, Disco Jesus and the Elvis Jesus, the football screen behind the pulpit, the big sound system, Vegas night, that fat woman who flops on the floor and speaks in tongues every Saturday night, begging people for money so God doesn’t call you home? It’s sounds a little but like a carnival con. You make the other preachers look bad.
REVEREND. But look at the beautiful perfection of the universe…? The world God built for us.
JOSH. Look in the sky! Just look up! The universe is a disordered mess. Our solar system has nine planets, and eight are dead. All the moons are dead. Most of the earth’s surface, we couldn’t survive there either.
MAGGIE. And the sun is going to explode and kill everybody. That’s kinda inconvenient.
JOSH. Ninety-eight percent of “God’s” species have died out. You know what this solar system looks like? A mistake.
REVEREND. Surely you can’t deny the miracle of the human body.
MAGGIE. Uh huh. Right after a baby is born, God insists we cut off the foreskin – did he make a mistake? Did he really think things through when he added appendices, tonsils, male nipples, body odor, bad breath, baldness, wrinkles, blindness, deafness, hemorrhoids, warts, a dozen baby illnesses like colic...?
REVEREND. Can you deny the miracle of reproduction?
JOSH. I know women were supposed to be God’s afterthought, but seriously – he had to give them menstruation, PMS, menopause…
MAGGIE. And put the clitoris in completely the wrong place? A little joke on the girls? Oh, yeah, and childbirth – if NASA or Boeing came up with a design like that, they’d get fired.
JOSH. The priests of Israel took advantage of human ignorance to try to use their Bible to explain the world – the origin of the universe, the birth and spread of the Jewish people, rules for food, rules for health, rules for sex…But every time science catches up to religion, religion loses. Geologists know there’s no hell down there, and astronauts know there’s no heaven up there: nothing but space dust, broken satellites, and Buzz Aldrin’s golf balls.
MAGGIE. Doctors proved that what you call the soul is really just a process that happens in the brain – it changes when we use drugs and it stops when we die. So there’s no soul – that’s an even bigger challenge to the Bible than evolution. If the God Team got all that wrong, why should we believe the other obvious nonsense like the resurrection?
JOSH. The Biblical concept of God is like an appendix: in an earlier age it might have had a purpose, but now it’s merely a dangerous Iron Age artifact, like cannibalism, slavery, human sacrifice, torture and war. All of which had God’s approval at one time or another.
REVEREND. Anything that man and science cannot explain -- or explain yet – we must leave to God.
MAGGIE. You’re just using "God" as a big box in which we can dump everything that we don't understand. That's like defining God as a big filing cabinet which we use to organize our own ignorance.
JOSH. The Greeks and Romans loved science and engineering; then the Christian church came in and blocked it because they were terrified that scientists could prove them wrong. Imagine the state of science today if the church had encouraged science for a thousand years instead of blocking it. Or imagine if the Muslims had been in charge in Europe – they protected science, they actually found the old Greek scientific works and gave them back to Europe. There is a reason why they called it the Renaissance, rebirth – under the church, western civilization was pretty much dead, a barbarian chaos ruled by armed robbers – backed by the church.
REVEREND. But if the Muslims had been in charge, art would have stopped dead. They don’t allow pictures of people. So no da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt.
MAGGIE. Okay, God is all about love and such. Let me describe somebody for you. He’s coming to this town, how will you and the sheriff handle it? This guy I’m talking about, a lot of the locals think he’s an unsavory character, even in his hometown. He was probably born a bastard, whose father almost chose to reject him and abandon him; his family feared the law and fled the country at one point. He’s been accused of undermining the law, he followed a cult leader who was later arrested, and his friends have been arrested over and over – one of them was probably a political extremist. He associates most of the time with the poor, and he’s usually homeless. He probably smelled, bad. Throughout his life there is no sign he had any interest in women; his only known public display of affection is when a man kissed him late in his life.
REVEREND. Sounds like trouble.
MAGGIE. He loves the poor. He spends a lot of his time helping the sick and the insane, worrying about children and those who had lost loved ones, and feeding the hungry. He does it all for free: he said he doesn’t want credit or money for helping others and he told his friends to help others the same way too. He despises the rich, and once he launched an armed attack on bankers, and he dislikes people who ordered the labor of others while making no exertion themselves. He thinks it’s a great deal to sell off your possessions rather than piling up a lot of personal stuff, donating to the poor, spending liberally rather than seeking austerity, and paying taxes. He talks all the time about reconciliation, forgiveness, even for enemies and people who are cruel. He stands up for people who were being mistreated. He opposes people who are vengeful or judgmental. He loathes organized religion, and he warns about dishonest preachers and predicts the collapse of the big local church. Religious conservatives plotted to kill him and they hired someone to betray him for money.
REVEREND. Sounds pretty simple. The man is trouble. The locals would probably run him off before the sheriff even got a chance to get him for vagrancy.
MAGGIE. Yes, I know. The guy I just described was Joshua of Nazareth. But his criminal alias was Jesus Christ. If he came to this town, you would probably kill him, like you did the first time. And it’s not just Jesus and the New Testament – even in Proverbs – happy is the man who feeds the poor. Would you run King Solomon out of town too?
REVEREND. Alright, I’ve had enough of this. Folks, next week, we are going to be joined by my daughter Faith, just coming back from seminary school, she’s going to be a preacher in her own right. And she’ll tell these young folks a thing or two about the Bible too. So, uh, the service is ended, go in peace. [rushes off]
JOSH. You feel better now?
MAGGIE. I can’t believe they didn’t throw us out on our ear. I was shaking, you were like a rock…You’re unbelieveable. You kept everybody calm during that storm last night, you were up all night. You helped the doctor cut the dead skin out of my leg. Chased that infection right out of me. Haven’t had one of those seizures all day. You weren’t even afraid to touch me.
JOSH. Part of the job. It’s even busier over at the shelter now, what with the food running short and the sickness running long, I’ve got quite a crowd there. Any way you could get the word out, to give us what food they can spare? Don’t go to the rich part of town, you’ll just cause trouble for everybody.
MAGGIE. Hard times coming. It’s going to be tough, getting help in this town. Especially now that we told off the preacher.
JOSH. Don’t tell the whole world everything I’m doing at the shelter, I don’t want any trouble. My mother would worry.
MAGGIE. So where do your folks come from, your family?
JOSH. Back home they don’t think I’m much of anything, although my family goes back a long way….That’s ancient history. You folks are my family now, pretty much. You’ve been like my right arm, watching the place when I’m not there, you stuck with me when everyone else ran off, the other folks at the shelter are jealous, it’s like they want to pretend you don’t exist.
MAGGIE. A bunch of those guys let you down.
JOSH. They’re human. And this is tough. You know how hard it is, doing this? Knowing where all this is going? Don’t be planning on me being here next year. If I’m lucky, they’ll just drive me out. Or they’ll do something more drastic like they did that first guy that came here. [pulls out sandwich] Here. Eat. One more time before all the crazy stuff happens.
MAGGIE. So that’s why you kept me up talking all night. You’re really saying goodbye, aren’t you?
JOSH. Love you babe.
MAGGIE. Love me….but…what? [sighs, touches his face] You’re warm. You’re sure you didn’t catch this thing? [takes a cloth, wipes his face]
JOSH. Here, let me, you’re the sick one. Sick and hurt both. [takes the cloth and wipes the dirt off her feet].
MAGGIE. Man, I forgot some of that stuff in the Bible. Pretty wild stuff.
JOSH. Well, let’s be fair, it’s not just the Bible. Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a convicted con man in New York, who wanted to con his neighbor, a farmer, into mortgaging his farm and giving him all the money. The con man claimed that when he was seventeen, an angel told him how to find a sacred book engraved on metal plates. The con man said ancient Egyptians had buried the plates in upstate New York.
MAGGIE. Um, how did ancient Egyptians get to New York?
JOSH. It’s a mystery! The con man claimed the plates were written in “reformed Egyptian” –
MAGGIE. Reformed –
JOSH. Never mind, it’s a language that doesn’t even exist. And the kid could barely read, even in English.
MAGGIE. And how did a criminal teenager in New York, who had never been to Egypt, know any kind of Egyptian?
JOSH. Um, yeah….The con man refused to let anyone see the plates – he warned they would be struck dead if they looked at it. The con man said the plates were magically whisked away just as they had arrived. The con man said the angel who took them away was named Moroni.
MAGGIE. You’re joking.
JOSH. The farmer with the mortgage believed it all, and mortgaged his house to finance the book. The wife of the farmer with the mortgage was very suspicious. The wife stole part of the “magic” manuscript, and challenged the con man to translate it all again. The con man couldn’t translate it again, because the pages the wife stole were just gibberish he had scribbled down, to fool the farmer. When the book failed to sell, the farmer lost his wife and his farm. Later they figured out that not only was he a con artist, some of the “sacred text” was actually plagiarized from very human, non-Egyptian sources. And thus, the Book of Mormon was given to the world. The guy who dreamed up this con, Joe Smith, ran for president in 1844. He fell short.
MAGGIE. But what if he had won? He’s a crook!
JOSH. His followers don’t think so. They believe they are the only real Christians, and all of the other denominations are fakes. And that they can baptize dead people whether they want it or not.
MAGGIE. I’m assuming not.
JOSH. And dark skin is a curse from God, and if you have sex with an African-American you will die on the spot.
MAGGIE. Well, I had sex with a black man. Still alive.
JOSH. They tried to cure homosexuality with electric shock. They claimed that Jesus Christ himself proclaimed to them that they must give up polygamy; in fact it was the Teddy Roosevelt who threatened to confiscate their farms if they didn’t stop.
MAGGIE. So what happened to the guy.
JOSH. Smith got caught coming on to the wives of two of his fellow Mormons – he even proposed marrying both of them. The husbands complained. Smith threw the husbands out of the church. They formed their own church and published a letter criticizing him. Smith sent a mob to destroy the printing press. The other two guys sent a mob of their own. Smith was arrested. A friend smuggled a gun to him in jail. Smith fired at his enemies, they shot back, he died. His successor took over as governor of Utah and waged war on the U.S. Army. Later his troops massacred a hundred pioneers to win revenge on America, and then tried to blame the murders on native Americans.
MAGGIE. But that’s the craziest thing I ever heard.
JOSH. Just wait. That’s just fake religion. Scientology is fake religion and fake science – we all are really space aliens trapped in human bodies and you can cure heart problems and obesity with vegetable oil. They claimed they could teach people to cure their own sickness, and let you read minds and do mind control. And the church can solve your problems through confession – and the process very very expensive. People forget that the guy who started it all was writing…science fiction.
MAGGIE. Who was he?
JOSH. The guy who founded it was a con man – just like the Mormon guy, he conned a rich guy into mortgaging his house to start the religion, and then stole the guy’s money and his girlfriend. He was convicted of fraud, he sued anybody who ever called him out on his cons, his wife went to prison for trying to burglarize government offices…then he kidnapped his wife and daughter and tried to have his wife declared insane. The wife told the police he beat her, but she had to withdraw the report to get her daughter back. It was blackmail. Another charismatic con man, great at roping in the ladies.
MAGGIE. Now I feel bad, going after the reverend.
JOSH. Don’t forget, he’s going to burn down our shelter, just like he did the women’s clinic.
MAGGIE. Oh yeah.
JOSH. There really is good stuff in the Bible, the Sermon on the Mount – I’m surprised that the conservative types like the Reverend don’t tell the story of Saint Paul.
MAGGIE. Why Paul?
JOSH. He invented capitalism.
MAGGIE. Oh, bull.
JOSH. Absolutely. When he started out he was a bitter opponent of Christianity, but he was open-minded enough to try out totally new ideas. He built Christianity into a message that could be spread across the Roman Empire. He argued that they would need to let go of Jewish law if they were going to sell the new religion – it would be impossible to win people over if their first order was for people to chop off their peepees.
MAGGIE. Yeah, smart move there.
JOSH. He travelled across the Empire over and over, selling the message, making the Church grow and grow. For years he managed to avoid being executed by the local pagans or the local Jews. He wrote a pile of letters, telling Christians to stay on message and spread the word. He played referee in the middle of personal squabbles and philosophical conflicts. He got people to donate help – he was shopping for venture capitalists! He built a Church strong enough to grow in a hostile environment, and turn all of Jesus’ preaching into a religion that could hold together for years. He changed Christianity from a tiny cult into a religion which blew away centuries of paganism and conquered an Empire, and then a continent. By the time he was done, he had laid the groundwork for a global enterprise which would survive a lot of challenges, including Luther, Henry the Eighth, Galileo and Darwin, and remain powerful and profitable for almost two thousand years.
JOSH. Profitable for two millennia. Name a CEO who ever accomplished anything of the kind. Who comes close? The East India Company? Rockefeller? The Bank of America? Hearst? Carnegie?....Saint Paul was the founder of capitalism. Not Adam Smith, not Ricardo, not Ayn Rand, not Henry Ford. You would think that the rightwingers would have latched onto this guy, who perfectly united their two favourite things, Christianity and capitalism. But, ya know, a lot of these guys don’t actually read the Bible.
POLICEMAN. [entering] Mister…
JOSH. It’s okay….I know why you’re here. Vagrancy, or disturbing the peace?
POLICEMAN. They haven’t decided yet.
MAGGIE. Officer –
JOSH. Maggie, stay out of this. You need to get back to the shelter. Get them ready. Be ready for anything. Remember, we talked about this?
MAGGIE. Love you babe. [hugs him, runs out]
POLICEMAN. So you’re Josh. We heard about you. There was a guy like you here, not long ago. The mayor got after him for bringing the bad element into the middle of town, and he made a comment about the mayor’s wife and his mistress. Two weeks later he had a bullet in his head.
JOSH. Yeah, I heard about him. That’s why I came into town quiet. Night time. Just running my little shelter. Not looking for trouble. I’m not a big fan of the folks who run this town – the banker, the preacher who can’t talk sense, even I could do his job better than he can, that church is gonna come down right around his shoulders, got to watch out for ‘em – but the regular folks have been real nice.
POLICEMAN. They seem to like you a lot. That’s why we arrested you real quiet-like last time. Don’t need any more trouble.
JOSH. Your boys tuned me up pretty good the first time. What happens now?
POLICEMAN. You got a night in jail. Got two boys in there already, tried to swipe a car. The folks who pressed charges against you can’t seem to agree on the charge, they’ll probably cut you loose….After next week’s church service.
JOSH. You did try awful hard to get me to incriminate myself.
POLICEMAN. Tell us about all your friends at the shelter, they might cut you loose even quicker….You take anybody in that shelter, no matter who?
JOSH. The folks you hate the most, they’re the ones who need help the most. The addicts, the poor, everybody.
POLICEMAN. Even Sundays?
JOSH. Even Sundays. Not really a church-goer anyway.
POLICEMAN. You got women and kids in that shelter?
JOSH. When they show up, yeah.
POLICEMAN. You’re not married?
POLICEMAN. Not to the girl?
JOSH. Let’s just do this, okay?
POLICEMAN. This is a God-fearing town.
JOSH. Is that so?
[Reverend is at the lectern, Faith beside him, Maggie and Solomon listening]
REVEREND. Rather than leap right into a sermon, I’d like to announce the return of my daughter Faith from seminary school. As you know she has done very well at school, and has done missionary work in Africa and around the world. And, as it happens, she is an expert on the Bible. So once we get into our question-and-answer portion, she can handle questions about Scripture just as well as I can! [glares at Maggie] Where’s your friend?
REVEREND. Well, last week we heard some unexpected comments about the Bible. So, let’s go look – who actually wrote the Bible? As we know, it came from God, through the prophets – Moses, Joshua, Matthew, John, Paul…..God revealed his will to them.
MAGGIE. Just like George Bush said God told him to invade Iraq.
REVEREND. Oh good Lord --
MAGGIE. Mm-hmm. And the Yorkshire Ripper claims God told him to murder women. They put him behind bars, he was nuts, he heard voices.
REVEREND. The Bible is divine revelation!
MAGGIE. It can’t be a revelation of God’s will when it’s just telling the history of the Israelites or Jesus, because anybody could tell that story.
REVEREND. Faith, tell her!
FAITH. Actually, Daddy, she’s right. The history of things that happened on earth can’t be divine revelation. So that wipes out the histories, and the Gospels, and the Acts – they’re not the word of God, they’re just history. The songs in the Bible aren’t revelation from God either, or the letters, or the lamentations. So right away, most of the Bible is not the word of God.
REVEREND. But it came straight from the disciples.
FAITH. No they didn’t. Scholars – Christian scholars – proved that all those books that were supposed to be written by Moses, Luke, John, Paul – were almost all written by other people, people we don’t know. The books they say were written by Moses? They write about Moses as though he’s another person, in the third person. The narrator praised Moses for being meek – how could Moses write that? And they talk about the death of Moses as something that happened long in the past, and refer to events and places that didn’t exist when Moses lived. Here’s the end of Deuteronomy: “So Moses the servant of Jehovah died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of Jehovah. And he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth-peor: but no man knows of his sepulchre unto this day.” Unto this day – when was that? How many years after Moses, the guy who supposedly wrote this thing?
REVEREND. Faith --
FAITH. Same problem with the books they say were written by Joshua, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Matthew. Ever wonder why some of these prophets tell their own stories and include their own deaths? The Gospels were written by people who never met Jesus.
MAGGIE. The revelations of Moses and Matthew and the rest only work, if we know who really wrote them. There’s no such thing as anonymous revelation – from God, to Anonymous Guy, to the world. Especially since no originals exist….At least the Muslims know who Muhammad was, and where and when he wrote the Qur’an.
REVEREND. But the Bible is the unchallenged word of God!
FAITH. Daddy, even Christians were challenging it as soon as it was written. Two hundred years after Jesus died, his followers were arguing about what they believed, and they had a dozen different versions of the “word of God” bouncing all over the Mediterranean – they couldn’t all be expressing God’s will the right way, could they? Years after, Jewish and Christian leaders were still arguing about who wrote what, and which books were really holy – and anything that proved them wrong, they hid or destroyed. Centuries after Jesus died, they had arguments to decide which books were the word of God, and we don’t even know who a lot of those guys were. If they can challenge the authenticity of the books, why can’t we? The Protestants came along and they had different versions of the Bible. Almost the whole King James Bible relies on another Bible written by a man who didn’t even have access to the original books. Interpretations of interpretations…
MAGGIE. Translations of translations.
FAITH. The King James was written by a committee. And all these texts have been loaded with errors for three thousand years – there was a Bible that said “thou shalt commit adultery”.
FAITH. Even the preaching and the stories Jesus used weren’t original – they were just the fables and the precepts of virtue and moderation that the Greeks were telling three hundred years before him. The story of Jehovah battling Satan, was stolen from the story of Zeus and the Titans. The story of the holy ghost raping Mary, was stolen from Zeus and Europa. The story of Jesus being betrayed by a close friend, murdered according to a prophecy, and returning from the dead, sounds a lot like Julius Caesar. Even the afterlife was borrowed from the Greeks, the Egyptians….
REVEREND. But some of it was true.
FAITH. Yeah, Jesus went into the holiest Jewish site in Israel and attacked people with a whip. The local governor loved capital punishment so he was executed. That part was true. Jesus committed a premeditated act of violence at a holy site –
MAGGIE. And if he had been a Muslim doing it, you people would have called him a terrorist.
REVEREND. But it’s all still true!
FAITH. Time after time the Bible collides with known fact. Luke had the wrong governor of Syria, the story of the census is wrong. Then you have all the nonsense in Genesis. The Bible even contradicts itself – the Gospels contradict each other over and over –
MAGGIE. Sounds like Rashomon.
FAITH. The Gospels begin with stories of Jesus’ ancestors, and even there they disagree on the facts. If they can’t even get that right, why should we believe them when they tell four different versions of his miraculous birth and his miraculous resurrection? Which is more likely, a miracle, or a lie? They rewrote the ancient prophesies to fit Jesus’ life. They even tried to cover their lies with other lies – Matthew claimed the Jewish priests bribed the guard to lie about Jesus’ body disappearing. Conspiracy theory!
MAGGIE. So nobody knows where this stuff came from, or who changed it later, or what should be in the Bible, but we know almost none of it could have come from God and a lot of it is wrong. And without the “infallible” word of God, where do you get God from?
FAITH. Well, there’s more to this.
MAGGIE. Reverend, I was raised on the Bible too. I’ve tried to be fair with you. I’ve been going to your church and listening to your sermons -- the Bible demands that you go to church on Sunday, ordained as the Lord’s day, and take the Eucharist and the other sacraments; that it prescribes eternal hellfire for sinners, and sweeping the holy up from earth to heaven when they die, and purgatory for everyone in between. None of which is in the Bible.
FAITH. Who are you, again?
MAGGIE. Maggie, welcome home!...You violate the Bible rules on idolatry and paganism – you worship Jesus instead of the one God, you pray to Mary and the saints, you celebrate the anniversaries of Jesus’ birth and resurrection, both of which began as pagan rites.
Saint Peter – the Saint Peter – openly condemned pagan idolatry, and you guys named him the patron saint of fishermen, sailors [pulls out a book] – see, I looked it up -- bakers, farmers, butchers, glassmakers, carpenters, shoemakers, clockmakers, potters, masons, bridge builders, cloth makers, and criminals. In other words a huge chunk of the Christian world has been engaging in idol worship of the guy who made it a rule that you can’t, you know, worship idols.
REVEREND. That’s the Catholics, don’t blame me.
MAGGIE. Your church has saints too, nice try. You need to up your game and do your homework. The Bible doesn’t say the forbidden fruit was an apple, Satan was not in the garden of Eden. Delilah didn’t cut Samson’s hair. Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a whale. Mary didn’t ride to Bethlehem on a donkey and the wise men didn’t see the baby in a manger. The Bible doesn’t say Jesus was a carpenter. Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. I mean, do you even read the Bible?
FAITH. Now you’re being mean.
REVEREND. The Bible is the word of God, and he expects us to take it word for word, without question.
MAGGIE. Reverend --
FAITH. Here, I got this one. Daddy, all three founders of Christianity rejected that. Jesus said flat-out that he taught religion in parables and didn’t want to talk about God in literal language. And when Peter and Paul planned the future of Christianity, the first thing they agreed on, was that they couldn’t demand that people follow scripture literally – when they preached, people were trying to beat them and arrest them already, and if they told all those Greeks and Romans to chop off their penises, they would have been killed. So the first thing they decided was to reject a literal interpretation of the Bible. They said from the start, don’t take everything in the Bible word for word. And since all three of them – Jesus, Peter and Paul – switched religions, moved beyond Judaism, they would have felt foolish trying to force people to stick to the original Jewish scripture. And then…Saint Augustine? One of the first great leaders of Christianity?
REVEREND. What about him?
FAITH. He made the same point that Jesus and Paul did. He said that you can’t take the Bible literally if it conflicts with science and sheer common sense. It’s metaphor, not history.
MAGGIE. A few weeks back you said you wanted to follow the law of the Bible?
REVEREND. Our aim is to follow God’s law, just as it’s written in the Bible.
FAITH. You want the laws to mandate a lot of offerings to the priests. Make the priest a gold lampstand with seven lamps, a curtained tabernacle with courtyard, an altar, a gold table, gold dishes and cups, a gold ark, silver, bronze, the skin of a sea cow, incense, wood, oil, gems.... And a priestly costume with turban, breastplate and sash. Daily, weekly, monthly offerings to the priests. Unintentional sin, meat for the priest. Making a careless oath, a pigeon for the priest. Unintentional defilement, a goat to the priest. New baby, a lamb for the priest...You see, this really shouldn’t be about creating a nice life for the priest.
REVEREND. Well --.
FAITH. Let’s see, don’t eat rabbits or pigs; shellfish, eagles, vultures, ravens, owls, hawks, storks, bats, weasels, rats, lizards.
MAGGIE. Didn’t your church have a ham supper last month, and a shrimp boil this summer?
FAITH. The only bugs you can eat are locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper.….In your sermons you said you want to ban abortion, but in the Book of Numbers, it prescribes abortion. It’s right there in black and white. If a woman has sex, give her these bitter waters; her belly will swell and thighs waste away. But if she is innocent, she can bear a child. In other words, abortion. It’s right there in Numbers. And in the rest of the Bible, Jehovah kills pregnant women, kills fetuses and embryos, kills young children. So….why are you trying to wreck the women’s clinic?
MAGGIE. You know that before Roe v Wade, women in their child-bearing years died more from botched illegal abortions than from anything else? Overturning Roe will kill people. [flipping through the Old Testament] You’re really going to lose even more women with this stuff. Women can’t swear to an oath without permission, or handle their own property, or wear men’s clothes. You can escape punishment for raping a virgin by paying a fine. You can sell your daughter into slavery. If a new groom accuses his wife of not being a virgin, and she can’t prove him wrong, she gets death by stoning....Hmm. You’ve got two whole chapters of rules on how the priest must treat skin rashes. And two more on cleaning mildew. And another on men with unclean bodily discharges.
FAITH. No tattoos.
MAGGIE. Don’t build a tower that reaches the sky. Go look at the southern end of Manhattan -- Usama bin Laden apparently agreed with you on that one.
FAITH. Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife – big big problems with that one.
MAGGIE. Don’t charge interest on a loan – see, no wonder the banker’s wife stopping coming here.
FAITH. The death penalty for…an awful lot, for all sorts of things. Violating the Sabbath rules, disobeying your father, drunkenness, prophesying falsely, sex with animals, reaching out for the tree of knowledge, taking one more look back at your hometown as God is destroying it with fire and death. You got a lot of dead people here.
MAGGIE. And you seem to have a lot of stoning here. Stoning to death for a stubborn child, stoning for blasphemy, stoning if your wife suggests you serve other gods.
FAITH. If a bull tramples someone, it’s death by stoning for the bull. Have you ever tried to throw a bunch of rocks at a bull? Particularly a bull who has a habit of stomping the crap out of people? Did they have a bunch of Israelite rodeo clowns running around throwing rocks at an angry bull and trying to avoid getting stomped to death? I’ll bet they didn’t try that more than once.
MAGGIE. A lot of folks came to America, so we could get away from blood-crazed loons who want to live by religious law. If this is how you want to live, flights are leaving for Tehran and Saudi Arabia every day. You’d look great in a turban. …And what you got in there, in your bag, for lunch?
REVEREND. Shrimp salad sandwich, with bacon.
MAGGIE. Shrimp, bacon, double score!...Crack open your Bible, and read it as though it was a script for a play. The first three speaking characters are Jehovah, Adam, and the devil. A supernatural being flying in space, a manufactured man, and...a talking snake. I mean, seriously.
FAITH. Back in the day, women were the backbone of our church. Look at the pews, where are they? You’re not serving them anymore. All across town, moms struggling to keep families going in recession, fighting battles with your school on book banning, bullying the gay kids, fighting their health plans on contraception, and every time they go into battle, you’re on the other side. You got your pals appointed to the bench, and every time a woman goes to court for divorce or rape or domestic violence, they get screwed over, thanks to your bench buddies. A lot of those women are at the church downtown now.
REVEREND. I am woman, hear me roar?
FAITH. As part of my ministry, I did mission work in Africa, for summer. Remember, you visited me that year? Girls as young as nine years old, sold to pay debts. Women need a man’s permission to leave the house, get in a car, see a doctor, go to school, get a job, save money, vote. They have few rights in court. They could be punished for being in the same place as a man, even to eat or work or study. Schools for girls are bombed and burned. Women are beaten and raped and mutilated in their own homes. Women who break the rules can be whipped or burned with acid, their noses chopped off; women who take off the veil are beaten, women who fight the rules are killed. Soldiers use mass rape as an instrument of war. Rape victims are ignored or jailed or killed, sometimes by their own relatives. They commit suicide every day.
REVEREND. So this is some feminist thing you’re doing?
FAITH. No. While I was there a woman was accused of adultery – not even proved! She was buried in dirt up to her neck, and they threw a rock at her head. And another. And another. And over and over and over. All day long. Until she died. They didn’t bother to figure out whether she died of a skull fracture, or massive bleeding, or shock, or choked on her own blood….You keep using the Old Testament as your infallible book of moral laws, every time you get into a fracas on civil unions or abortion. So do you want stoning, too? It’s in the Bible. During the war you said torture was okay, how about stoning? The Bible says parents should stone their stubborn children to death – does that include me?
REVEREND. So this is about Biblical law?
FAITH. No, it’s not about that either. You didn’t just visit me in Africa to see me. You went back to the capital, and spent weeks bribing legislators. In Africa you can buy them even cheaper than back home, right? This is the difference between your ministry and mine. While I was in Africa trying to help those women, you got their government to pass a national law, imposing the death penalty on gays and lesbians. It wasn’t even your country! And then when they passed it, you celebrated, in your sermon.
SOLOMON. And the bishop heard about it.
FAITH. This is Reverend Young, from the bishop’s office….You implied that you wanted that law here too. And you’ve been blocking any effort to allow gays to marry.
REVEREND. Well, gays pretty much have the same rights as we do already, just sign a contract if they want to call themselves married?
FAITH. You can’t just sign a contract on your own for….Where’s that list….[pulls out papers] Insurance, death compensation, tax filing status, deductions, property transfers, Social Security, veteran’s pensions and disability, relocation for military families, survivor benefits, organ donor issues, next-of-kin status, parental rights, school records, alimony, child custody –
FAITH. Yep, foster care, homestead laws, water rights, housing, school loans, farm supports, name changes, domestic violence, spousal privilege for criminal witnesses, prison and hospital visitation, conflict-of-interest, medical decisions, funeral decisions, condominium laws, bankruptcy, shared property, prenuptial agreements, wills and inheritance. We need a law, so we don’t have to fight over all this in court. And you can’t tell all those people they can never be parents.
REVEREND. So who pays for all this, the health insurance, all of it?
MAGGIE. Who paid to free the slaves? Are we going to throw our hands in the air and say America can’t afford to treat everyone fairly anymore?....You know, heterosexuals have been getting married for five thousand years, and even now straight marriage fails half the time – seems to me straight people have had their chance. Marriages destroyed by infidelity, drinking, drug abuse, immaturity, domestic violence, abandonment, child abuse, incest, and mental cruelty. Heterosexuals have proved that they cannot be trusted with this institution anymore. Maybe for the next five thousand years we should only let gay people get married, let straight people live by the rules you want to use for gays and lesbians. Fighting with lawyers and doctors over legal rights, health care, everything else. You keep saying it’s okay to treat gays like that – what if it was you on the short end?
REVEREND. So where does it end? Can more than two people marry? Can a pimp “marry” all his girls to get them health care, or a homeless activist to do the same for a shelter full of homeless guys? Can a little old lady marry her cats? Can we marry kids? Can we have marriage ceremonies with drugs and sacrifices? What about those transgender types and all the other in-betweeners? Not in my church. We’ll get employers to block their health care, drive them out of the state.
FAITH. You really think it will be that hard to write a law, allowing marriage for two adults?
PREACHER. But the Bible says marriage is for one man and one woman!
JULIA. Daddy, you’re completely wrong. You look at all those guys in the Old Testament, Abraham, Moses, Jacob – polygamy! Saul, David, Solomon – polygamy!
MAGGIE. Solomon, seven hundred wives.
FAITH. Jesus and Paul – celibacy! The apostles abandoned their wives, their kids and their jobs, to go off preaching, and most of them got killed doing it. That’s not one-man-one-woman marriage, that’s desertion. Desertion, celibacy, bigamy – show me a successful one-man-one-woman marriage in that book.
PREACHER. Mary and Joseph!
MAGGIE. [laughs] Ah, yes, Joseph-Where-The-Hell-Did-That-Baby-Come-From, and Mary-That's-My-Story-And-I'm-Sticking-To-It. And then Joseph disappeared when Jesus was a child. That’s our model marriage here? Oh, and by the way…Where is Jesus’ wife, and the kids? Being unmarried at 33 was really unusual in those days. If you were straight….All I’m sayin’.
FAITH. For that matter, you have that David and Jonathan stuff that sounds an awful lot like gay sex – your love surpasses the love of women, and so forth? And the story of Ruth and Naomi?...You didn’t go after the Mormons for polygamy, you didn’t go after the Catholics or the Boy Scouts on pedophilia, you didn’t go after all those rightwing preachers and politicians who cheated on their wives….Just the gays. Because they’re an easy target. Daddy, you taught me -- you know who goes after easy targets? Bullies. Cowards. …You went into your pulpit and said God caused the recession and the hurricane and the shooting at the school, because God hates gays. God doesn’t hate gays because he created millions of them. We know that you can’t pray away the Gay –
MAGGIE. Although it would be great if you could pray away the Stupid.
REVEREND. We run those classes to get people back on the right side.
FAITH. You can’t make gay people straight, anymore than gays can make straight people gay. This nonsense about the gay agenda is so stupid, recruiting kids to be gay – nobody can be “recruited” unless they’re already gay. Asking for fairness isn’t an agenda.
MAGGIE. We even had a gay president, James Buchanan.
FAITH. Well, he helped cause the Civil War, bad example.
MAGGIE. Abe Lincoln slept in a bed with a man for four years. Joshua Speed.
REVEREND. The Founding Fathers were God-fearing men, they would be shocked at the whole idea of…
MAGGIE. The guy who wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence rejected the Bible. And we know the Founding Fathers didn’t hate gays because they signed the Declaration of Independence wearing wigs and satin tights.
REVEREND. The Bible says homosexuality is wrong.
FAITH. The Bible also says genocide is okay. It’s the twenty-first century, Daddy. We can’t hide behind the Bible anymore…. You know, they proved that millions of people who say they go to church, don’t really go. They’re just afraid to admit it. Evangelicals have run a reign of terror in this country for thirty years, so all the atheists are hiding. And no politician can run for office and say he’s an atheist. In our political world, being an atheist is more horrible than being gay, or soliciting in a public toilet, or patronizing prostitutes, or killing someone in a car crash, or using drugs, or molesting children, or not paying your taxes on time, or being a criminal. Lots of Americans say they would never vote for an atheist. Attacking atheists is the one form of bigotry that is still okay. A minority of twenty, thirty million people who have almost no voice in America. Even the Native Americans got casinos. And it doesn’t seem to bother anybody that this one minority, the atheists, has no voice.
REVEREND. So why is that my problem?
FAITH. For thirty years, you hard-core evangelicals have written our national agenda for us. Gays, abortion, everything. All those years, intolerance ruled our country, and the voices of logic and science have been drowned out. And atheists – no one even admits their existence. Atheists may have more to offer America than any group. Philosophy and politics can’t work without clear thought, logic, and a resistance to fallacy, and atheists play that game better than anyone out there...Just imagine if all the time we spend on the issues that evangelicals love, could have been spent on health care or global warming.
MAGGIE. Just imagine if logic and reason got the same airtime as faith.
FAITH. Just think how much more informed voters would be. Imagine if there were an openly atheist politician.
REVEREND. You want to bring atheists into my church?
MAGGIE. Reverend, you’re creating more atheists every day. You hard-core evangelicals have given the church a bad name. That’s why people are leaving the church – they think they have no home here. That’s why the people who refuse to join any church are the fastest-growing group out there, bigger than any Protestant denomination. There are more of them that there are evangelicals – but you never hear them, because they’re too afraid to speak up….I know what bothers you about this the most, the competition. For centuries you people worked desperately to crush the merest thought about other gods and other beliefs – monotheism has a big spoonful of cowardice in it, a terror that the faithful could ever be exposed to other religions and other gods. So as soon as Moses declared that only one God was legal, priests started killing people for blasphemy. And kings and emperors loved the idea, because they love killing off their enemies.
FAITH. Well, let’s be fair, it wasn’t just the people with one god. You can’t forget the Greeks, pagan down to their sandals. Socrates made the terrible mistake of trying to teach mankind to think. The Athenians accused him of insulting the local gods. Socrates goaded the jury into giving him a death sentence, because he decided that his fellow citizens were too stupid to continue living with them. Essentially, it’s thinking for yourself that can get you killed. Or trying to learn. Daddy, I hate to say it, but men like you worked for centuries to prevent scripture from being translated into local languages so that the common man could read God’s words for himself, without the priest’s help, and figure out what he believed. And you hard-core believers paved the way for the atheists.
MAGGIE. Ever since Moses, or whoever it was, stood up and said we must believe in only one God and reject the other 999 gods – atheists just took your idea one step further, and rejected all one thousand gods.
REVEREND. All I’m really doing, is defending traditional America, like it was in the good old days. There’s only so much change a country can go through.
MAGGIE. In traditional America, a century ago, blacks could be murdered for fun, Latinos were invisible, and gays were criminals; there was no Social Security or Medicare; the utilities refused to give rural America electricity; women couldn’t vote, a woman’s life expectancy was fifty-one years.
FAITH. They have country songs about these “good old days”: in these “good old days” we endured a Depression, several recessions, two world wars, Korea and Vietnam, McCarthy, Watergate, the terror of the Cold War, but that was okay, because white men were still running the show, right?
MAGGIE. Whenever these folks say the word “traditional”, translate it to “white”.
REVEREND. We just want to take America back.
FAITH. From whom? Aren’t the rest of us “real Americans”? My beliefs are not exactly the same as yours --
REVEREND. We have always believed that the liberal churches embrace the world too much. Maybe you too.
FAITH. And how is that bad?
REVEREND. Singing, dancing, drinking….
MAGGIE. And what was Jesus’ first miracle? Water into wine?
REVEREND. Youre trying to destroy traditional American values, throw them out of the public square, the marketplace of ideas.
MAGGIE. No, we just want our views heard too. My expression of my opinion isn’t a threat to your opinion, unless your opinion is a fraud. Unless you’re trying to protect lies from the truth. Or are you afraid to put your views up against mine in a fair fight? You only feel safe when all other viewpoints are shut down. No bully ever wants a fair fight. That’s what monotheism is all about – shut down everybody’s belief but your own.
FAITH. And Daddy, hate is not an American value. It’s not a Christian value either. Jesus ate with the lepers. Hate and war, Daddy?
REVEREND. Absolutely there’s a war. There’s even a war on Christmas.
FAITH. So expanding the holiday so others can be included, is war? “Happy holidays” is persecution?
MAGGIE. And by the way, almost none of the things we do to celebrate Christmas, have anything to do with the birth of Jesus – Christmas trees, wreaths, caroling, the lights, the cards, eggnog, the spending, the selling, Santa Claus, none of it is religion…. Reverend, you use the word “war” a lot. Anybody who disagrees with you must be declaring “war” on you.
FAITH. Anybody who wants their own freedom to get birth control is taking away your religious freedom – how do you reason that out? Since when does your freedom include taking away our freedom?
MAGGIE. War on traditional America, war on marriage, war on Christmas….We’re not declaring war on you. We just want to take part in the same things you already have. We can share marriage without hurting your marriage, we can share the holidays without ruining your holiday…We’re not attacking you, just by living our lives.
FAITH. Daddy, every time you started preaching all this stuff about the Culture War, I wanted to cringe. You know where that came from? Germany! Kulturkampf, Culture War! Germany used it to persecute Catholics before they moved on to the Jews. They arrested priests, marched them through the streets….[pulls out newspapers] The thing is, you have gone way beyond your ministry. I have all these articles from the local paper. And not just the religion page. Here’s you on the women’s page, hollering about abortion and contraception. Here you are again on the education page, bragging about your takeover of the school board, the book banning, evolution, prayer….On the legal page, putting the Commandments in courtrooms. The science page, stem cell research and cloning.
The medical page, assisted suicide, resuscitation and euthanasia. Front page again, time for America to go conquer the Muslims –
MAGGIE. Maybe his Bible doesn’t have Isaiah in it – beat their swords into plowshares –
FAITH. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”.
MAGGIE. Wow, you’re even on the weather page! Global warming!
FAITH. Articles on homeschooling, spanking, abstinence, feminism, guns, affirmative action, multiculturalism, political correctness, capital punishment…. “Empathy is bad, and torture is good.” You keep hollering about the liberal agenda, the gay agenda, the black agenda, the feminist agenda – your agenda is running this whole town.
MAGGIE. Ooh, here’s a picture -- The year after you told everybody to bring their Dixie Chicks CDs to the parking lot to burn them, because the Chicks had the nerve to exercise their First Amendment rights, you gave a thousand bucks to the Westboro Baptists for doing the same thing, screaming in the streets about gays. Here’s you with a great big check.
REVEREND. We need to get our word out, because you know the rest of the media is all liberal…
MAGGIE. [laughs] America’s papers and networks have been owned by corporate America for a century. At the turn of the century they helped launch the Spanish-American War. The papers fought FDR like cats and dogs and even put his secret war plans on the front page. They held Joe McCarthy's coat as he launched his reign of terror on America. And the year Agnew began screeching about media bias, the newspapers endorsed Nixon 3 to 1. The papers ran away from the Watergate case for months. They gave Reagan a free pass and then raking Clinton over the coals. And they were Bush's cheerleaders in the War On Terror and Iraq. Gimme a break. Then you guys took over talk radio, you built your own fake news network, your pals bought the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, even CNN is afraid to call a Republican a liar.
FAITH. Two thousand years ago Saint Paul did all he could to expand Christianity, by telling the Jews and pagans of the Roman world they didn’t have to follow Jewish laws. He built Christianity on the notion of expanding the big tent. Go read Luke: Jesus wanted the same thing. The apostle John came to Jesus and told him they had caught somebody trying to do their work, somebody who was not one of the disciples, and they tried to stop him. Jesus said flat-out: don’t stop him, because if he’s not against us, he’s for us. Now you’re taking the faith backward, not just to the days of Jesus, but to the days of Moses, pulling out the Torah to throw out anyone who doesn’t meet your standards of behavior. You took the big tent and blew it up. So a lot of people turned away from Christianity.
MAGGIE. You guys made Jesus uncool. People who sang along with Jesus Christ Superstar 40 years ago, sang “Jesus is just alright with me” in the 1970s, joined the kumbaya guitar churches, boasted of being born again in the 1980s…began to feel embarrassed.
FAITH. A lot of people left your church, or suffered in silence while you spewed hate and intolerance. The ranks of atheists, agnostics, Pastafarians, Wiccans, Buddhists and other “Others” grew by leaps and bounds. We’re going to bring them back.
REVEREND. You’re opposing the Bible!
FAITH. I’m not opposed to the bible, I’m opposed to rigid literalism. And we’re not anti-god, we’re anti-hate. And in both cases, we have Jesus on our side.
REVEREND. We have been loosening things up, with the music, all those worship songs…
FAITH. Jesus didn’t want us to spend all Sunday loving him; he wanted us to spend all week loving each other.
MAGGIE. You don’t own God, or Jesus. You don’t own the faith. You don’t even own this church, you just own the building. The church is the people, not the roof we’re standing under. I want my faith back. I want my Bible back. My faith is all about love, and making the world a better place. The only kind of life that matters, is taking care of the people around you.
REVEREND. Is there anything left at all, of the things I taught you?
FAITH. There’s plenty. In the end, Jesus really did save mankind. When the Greeks first started building their version of western civilization, they did it because they knew that the only way to survive was to take care of the people around you, so they could take care of you in turn. They knew way back when, that there is no such thing as a self-made man – everyone who ever achieves anything, does it with the help of their family, their community, the guys who work, the guys who have the money. Jesus revived that idea that we can only survive if we love each other, and he started an entire movement. And in the last century, guys like Woodrow Wilson made it global: they came along and said that the age of empires was over – countries couldn’t just conquer other countries and steal everything that wasn’t nailed down. That great power means great responsibility, to people, to everyone. After the second world war, America could have enslaved the world, but instead we held out a helping hand to everyone, friend and enemy alike. We began to build the world Jesus saw coming two thousand years ago. Jesus gave us that roadmap, he redeemed us. And when Doctor King and Gandhi taught us to fight with love instead of hate, that was straight from the Sermon on the Mount. Every day the world gets closer to Jesus.
MAGGIE. In spite of people like you.
FAITH. And that is going to be my first sermon, next Sunday. Daddy, Reverend Young here came because the bishop sent him.
SOLOMON. Reverend, your congregation is getting smaller, older, whiter…and meaner. We got a lot of reports about this church and your sermons. Some of your views on social issues are somewhat, I don’t know –
SOLOMON. I don’t know, quaint. Uncomplicated, shall we say….But that sermon you did, about the women’s clinic. That wasn’t a sermon. It was a fatwa….The bishop wanted me to talk to you about retiring –
REVEREND. Retiring? You’re moving me out? This is my life!
SOLOMON. On the way here, I was talking to your daughter. And she had an idea. The bishop is going to appoint her as the new pastor here. You can stay on and assist her.
REVEREND. Blessed are they who are persecuted for Jesus sake.
SOLOMON. Who do you think you’re talking to? You’re not being persecuted for doing Jesus’ work. You’re stepping aside because you’re losing track of what Jesus meant for you to do.
REVEREND. Faith is taking my place?
SOLOMON. We want someone who’s views are a little less…unfiltered. We’re not moving you all the way out. We’re Christians. We forgive! [exits]
MAGGIE. I really am surprised at you, speaking up the way you did. Everyone around here thinks you’re a saint.
FAITH. Yes, I’m an angel. But even an angel needs to have that smoking pitchfork in her closet, for those little emergencies. Like today.
REVEREND. What on earth are you doing up here on this hill?
JOSH. This way, I can see anybody coming. And I’ve seen you coming for a long time. Are you lost?
REVREND. Seems like half the town thinks I’m lost. Believe it or not, I’m not the worst guy in this county. There are plenty of those guys who are much more extreme than I am.
JOSH. Yes, I know, I can still smell the smoke from the women’s clinic.
REVEREND. So who are all those people at your shelter, are they all homeless?
JOSH. People come to the shelter for help, but sometimes they come to offer help, too. I look for certain kinds of people to help out. People who think poor, even if they’re rich – they remember what it was like to be poor, they don’t look down on anybody. People who are in pain, sometimes do the best helping others, it helps them too. People who aren’t full of themselves, people who want to do right even if it gets them in trouble, people who don’t judge everybody…
REVEREND. Like I do, you mean?
JOSH. I look for the kind of guy who can stop a bar fight instead of starting one. People who do all their real praying and giving when nobody’s looking – they don’t want applause. People who can get along with people they think are their enemies – anybody can get along with their friends. People who know that if you take care of the people around you, somehow you will do okay too. I find somebody like that, I want to hold them up as a light for everybody else, I want them to see.
REVEREND. People who aren’t afraid of a hard life.
JOSH. I think it’s the people who don’t care about anybody but themselves who have the hard life. Just empty. They’re building sand castles, trying to keep humanity out. People who are always angry, always wanting more, people who can’t find what’s inside them that makes them like that, and just get rid of it. People who always think the other guy is getting a better deal, and they can’t stand it….You’ve had this attitude that I’m undermining your faith. I think I’m fulfilling your faith at least as much as you are. I’m leaving happy people in my trail, people who make your town better. Are you doing that with your preaching?
REVEREND. Sounds like my daughter is asking the same thing.
JOSH. This can be fixed, you know.
REVEREND. First I have to get back down off this hill again.
JOSH. Careful now. Watch your step.
MAGGIE. Oh my God –
FAITH. Calm down. Sit. What happened.
MAGGIE. I’m not sure. I don’t know, I’m not sure!
FAITH. So did you see something?
MAGGIE. Josh left town – they let him out of jail – and he started walking toward the county line, up by the hill. I forgot to give him – well, I forgot to tell him something. I ran out after him, I saw him about half a mile ahead, I’m sure it was him. And then this car flew past me, right toward Josh, and they pulled out a shotgun and shot at him. I thought I saw him fall into the ditch.
FAITH. So did he?
MAGGIE. I don’t know! I ran the whole way down the road, I was screaming his name. I thought I found the right spot, but I couldn’t find him anywhere, or his body. I went up and down the road. I can’t find him, he’s gone!
FAITH. Maybe he got away.
MAGGIE. Didn’t he hear me calling for him?
FAITH. We can look for him, but maybe he’s gone.
MAGGIE. What on earth am I supposed to do?
FAITH. I think you know, don’t you?
MAGGIE. Go back to the shelter. And finish what he started. Keep the place going. I can’t do it!
FAITH. We’ll help you. Make this town a better place. Maybe. People are finally bringing stuff to the shelter, they’re not afraid anymore.
Like that one guy, showed up in his Mercedes, gave up his pocket change. Big spender.
MAGGIE. Every little bit counts.
FAITH. You’re winning them over. So round up your buddies and make that shelter work.
MAGGIE. They’re going to come after us again.
FAITH. I know. Maybe open another shelter at the county seat, near the courthouse.
MAGGIE. Josh said sometimes it feels like we’re trying to make seeds grow in concrete.
FAITH. Oh, it’s not as hopeless as all that. Even when people stumble, we stumble forward. Otherwise we’d still be apes in the trees.
MAGGIE. Sounds like that sinful evolution talk.
FAITH. Come on, take me to the shelter. Sounds like we have a lot of work to do.
FAITH. Of course.