Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Assassination of Hillary

A play by Christopher Bernard

JACK ASSASSIN: A man in his early 40s, an unemployed travel agent. He carries a shiny new rifle. Near him, on the floor, stands a plastic water bottle.

SETTING: An attic with a window facing an unseen open space where a political rally is being held.

(CURTAIN UP on JACK ASSASSIN, sitting near a window in a dark attic and cradling a rifle. A laptop sits open on a small table nearby. From outside, distant sounds of a crowd, applause, whistles, shouts, etc., alternating with an unintelligible speech being made by an unknown speaker. JACK ASSASSIN listens, then takes a swig from a water bottle.
(His cell phone rings. The sounds from outside continue over his speech, at a lower volume to prevent distraction.)
(in a low voice) Jack Assassin. . . . Jimmy? … I don’t know, she’s not there yet…. Looks like the governor, mayor, some sort of congressman, correction: congressperson … bunch of girls from Frontenac, a choir … I don’t know, maybe they want to sing the Hallelujah chorus. Where’s Mel, does he have the truck? … good … good … nice … no, nobody’s been up here in years it looks, like I said … yeah … yeah … right … right … yeah, cool, right … Remember Travelgate!… Later … (He closes the cell phone and looks back out the window. After a moment, he cocks the rifle and sites along it toward a distant target, careful not to stick the barrel out the window. Sound of speaker, followed by a burst of applause, whistles, shouts, etc. He lowers the gun and watches.
(Suddenly he turns to the audience and walks, still holding the rifle, to the edge of the stage.)
You probably wonder why the hell I want to kill Hillary Rodham Clinton. What am I doing? Do I still remember Travelgate? Who the hell does? Sorry! Maybe you’re right to forget. These are forgetful times. No one remembers Travelgate. All those White House travel agents, kicked out on their butts by evil Hillary, the very first month the Clintons were in office. Well, I remember it, the American Association of Travel Agents remembers it, and we aren’t about to forget on whose watch it happened. You remember how the Clintons had seven innocent office workers investigated by the FBI and then fired for incompetence, just so some friends of the Clintons could take over the business? You don’t? What’s the matter with you? You sure never tried making your living spending all night trying to arrange vacations in Borneo for bowling clubs in Davenport, Iowa! It was all over TV, you couldn’t have missed it! That wasn’t no “special effects,” people – those were real firings of real people! It was a conspiracy of the FBI, the Injustice Department, and the Clintons to take over the US of A for the liberal elite and put them all on expensive no-frills air carriers! It was the first battle in their war against the American way of life, make no mistake about that! They were gunning for the travel agents ’cause they thought, hell, they’re the most vulnerable, nobody’s gonna wanna defend them! And then we go for the janitors, then we go for the office clerks, and then we go for the factory workers. And then the religious folk, the fundamentalists, the evangelicals, and the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Lutherans . . . well, maybe they can have the Presbyterians and Lutherans, those spawn of Satan! But they'll go on and on till no travel agent or employee is safe and we can’t even have Christmas vacation for the school kids anymore, and Easter is banished from the calendar! After Travelgate, look what happened - NAFTA! Then Whitewater! Then Monica Lewisky! No, we’re not letting the Clintons take control of this country again! Not again. Not on our watch. Not on this watch!
(Storm of applause from outside. JACK ASSASSIN goes back to the window.)
(long pause) Holy Moses, look at the Secret Service! They really do talk to their sleeves…. Maybe they should look at all the windows in this building …
(He suddenly pulls back from the window, hiding. His cell phone rings.)
(opening it) Jack Assassin. You have to keep calling here? …. I can’t, the goddam vibrator doesn’t work … (a sarcastic laugh) she’ll get a vibrator she’ll never forget! … No, I didn’t…. Wi-Fi? Sure, I hacked into somebody’s node, hell it’s probably the Secret Service’s, it works fine … Not that again! … Do you really ..? Look, we decided… Said who, said what? You really want to get us all killed, don’t you … All right already! (He closes the cell) God damn technology! (He scrabbles in his backpack.) “No theatrical sense!” What is he talkin’ about, this ain’t Broadway! (pauses and glances back at the audience with a sarcastic look) Not yet! (pulls out a small eyeball computer camcorder and glares into the lens) “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!” (He settles the camcorder on the sill and aims it.) It’s not enough to post it on YouTube, now everybody’s got to see it in real time. And give everybody a chance to triangulate my position and catch me before I’m half-way down the stairs, ever think of that! I guess he hasn’t seen Vantage Point! Triangulate (he pauses, remembering), Whitewater, Ken Starr, wag the dog, it depends on what is is … Those were the days! But never again! No way are we letting those people back in the big house. Better the black guy than that.
(His cell phone rings.)
Jesus H. . . .! (opens the cell) Jack Assassin. What now? … You can’t see anything? You a pissant director?.... OK, OK, keep your pants on … (goes to the window and adjusts the camcorder) … How’s that, Hitchcock? …
(In the distance the girl’s chorus can be heard singing America the Beautiful.)
What? Now you can’t hear anything? … (puts cell down, rustles in his backpack for a microphone, plugs it into the laptop, places it next to the camcorder) … I’m a friggin’ Hollywood studio! … (into cell:) How’s that, Ingmar? … Good! Now, will you please let me go back to being an assassin, like I want to be? Thank you! (closes cell; listens to the chorus, lifts his rifle and aims through the window; at the end, he joins in, singing:) “with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”
(Distant applause. He continues to aim at the chorus.)
Pretty blond, pretty redhead, pretty brunette … (lowers the rifle, than aims again, cocking the rifle) …. ugly Betty, ugly flatface, ugly wirehead … (puts his finger on the trigger: hold)…. POWPOWPOW! (lowers the gun and turns to the audience, grinning) Only kidding!
(walking up to the stage edge, still carrying rifle)
You just hate this, don’t you? “I paid good money to see this show, and these a-holes are sticking me inside the head of an expletive-deleted assassin of our favorite political hero! Shero! Hillary Rodham Clinton! The next president of the United States of America! Do they think this is funny? Do they think this is entertainment? Do they think I’ll like this or, worse yet, it’s good for me? It’s not even a good sermon! If I want that, I can go to a Unitarian church! Just when I thought it was safe to go back to Berkeley Rep, they fling this at me.” Yep! Pretentious self-reflexive postmodern amoral anti-intellectual bull manure from the a-hole of America! Right! (he lifts rifle and scans the audience with it, then lowers the gun) Scared ya, didn’t I? “He is an actor, right? I mean, this is a play. Right? He isn’t really going to kill anybody? This is a stage rifle, it isn’t really loaded - is it? Wouldn’t be fair. We paid to see a play, not get killed.” (He stares at the audience, still holding the rifle. His cell phone rings; he opens cell, reads the caller’s number) Personal call, excuse me. (turns his back slightly) Yeah … Yeah yeah … yeah … right, two-percent …. I know I got one-percent last time, I’m sorry … I’ll be home late so don’t wait up … promise! … (closes cell) As if I didn’t have enough to worry about! … I’m telling you, next time they gotta get another guy for this assassination kee-rap, I’ve had it…. Where were we? Oh, yeah, you’re wondering if this is just a play … I mean it must be, it’s got a script, I had to memorize my lines and my blocking … the director’s gonna give me notes after the performance, he’ll say things like, your timing was really great at the top of your first monolog, but do you think you can speed it up on “is this a play” speech? It drags a little. And I’ll say, sure. But what is my motivation? And he’ll give me a look fit to kill. Then I’ll go home, feeling exhausted and abused. You, now, bought tickets and are sitting of your own free will in this theater, watching, with more or less interest, wondering where the hell this is going (as if I, the director, or, god help us, the writer knew – and I know for a fact he doesn’t!). You, my dears, could leave at any time. Except, of course, you won’t, out of a feeling of embarrassment. (He points the rifle once again at the audience, slowly scanning it.) Even if you felt your life depended on it. Because, after all, it’s just a play. It’s not life. It isn’t real. None of it is real. (Sound of distant cheers.) … That’s gotta be her! (rushes back to window) …
(over the following speeches, speakers can be heard in the background, with occasional bursts of applause from the audience)
Holy shit, it’s the Man. Who the hell organized this thing! (makes a call on his cell) Hey, Jimmy! You lookin’ at your screen? No? Well, get your butt over there! We got somebody, but it sure ain’t Hillary. Unless she’s so lesbo, she’s turned into a drag king version of her own hubby! … See? … (he pulls cell from ear as Jimmy shouts profanities on the other side; they can be heard over the phone; ASSASSIN replaces cell to ear) … Calm down … I know they aren’t appearing together, they haven’t since King’s birthday and he upstaged her.… they’re not stupid, they won’t appear together again till they get to Lincoln’s bedroom, har-har! … who organized this thing, is his head up his . . . ? … yeah, you talk to Ace … (closes cell and goes back to watching through window) … Damn! … (cell rings) … He said what? … Well he doesn’t know his butt from a hole in the ground, tell him that for me, I was sent here to assassinate somebody, and it may just be him! … You don’t have to tell me, she’d win by a landslide, can you imagine the . . . ? … OK, call me when they’ve made up their mind … (closes cell) Shit! Shit shit! Shit shit shit! Shit shit shit shit!
(JACK ASSASSIN walks to the stage edge and addresses audience.)
This is too much! The fuckups upstairs! Can you believe this? Sure you can, you’ve been around the block – (looking at woman in audience) I know you have, babe – nothing ever works out the way you plan it. But this bullshit! Well, I guess when you’re doin’ this kinda work, you gotta expect Satan at every corner … If we were organizing a peace conference between Palestine and Israel, you’d expect shit to happen; when you’re screwing an entire state to make a few bucks on your share price, like Enron did (remember Enron?), you expect things to go like a piece of cake – the world belongs to Satan, and it’s supposed to like evil, right? But it’s one thing to tackle Satan, it’s another to have to fight fuckups in your own organization. … Anyway, if you ever organize an assassination, remember to get your intelligence right, got it? That reminds me of something very pertinent in today’s news, I can’t re-… (cell rings) …. Jack Assassin. (respectfully) Yes, Mr. Ace … I understand sir, I was just waiting here for my cue, and out he came onstage … Yes, the instrument is in working order, everything’s ready … You can see it on the screen? … Yes, well Jimmy wanted me to put it on camera … You think that’s a bad idea? Well, it might slow down my getaway… Yes, sir …. yes, sir …. no, sir … no, sir … no, sir …. right away, sir …. (closes cell) … whew! … (JACK ASSASSIN unplugs the microphone and camcorder, and closes his laptop, and puts them in his backpack; Bill Clinton can be heard speaking unintelligibly over a PA system in the background) … Ace is right, this isn’t a Macworld Expo … You know what he said? He said, are you an assassin or are you a nerd? I guess you can’t be both. Not in his universe.... He has a point ….(JACK ASSASSIN watches through window; with grudging admiration:) He sure knows how to make ’em eat out of his hand …
(Long applause and cheering, followed by the chorus singing Amazing Grace)
That tune always gives me goosebumps. (He watches out the window.) … Hot damn, why the hell did they have to bring him in! Now I’m confused … I couldn’t shoot him even if I were ordered to, it’s her I hate … I know, I know, Travelgate happened on his watch, but I wanted to shoot Hillary! … Now I can’t shoot anybody! … (he picks up the rifle) … What am I doing with this? …
(The chorus ends and the audience can be heard cheering.)
Damn! Damn! … (to the audience) Well, what would you do? …
(Long pause.
(Resignedly, JACK ASSASSIN breaks apart his rifle and puts it in rifle sack.)
There’s nobody out there I can shoot. I can’t shoot Bill – hell if I did, the whole country’d vote for her! (He heads for the door, carrying backpack and rifle pack. Half way out, he turns to the audience one last time) I’ll just have to vote for Obama! (He closes the door; at full volume, the chorus starts singing the Hallelujah chorus.)


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