THE EXPERIMENTAL WOMAN (A PLAY, BY JRS)

 

A Work of Activist Science-Fiction, set in the not-too-distant future.

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Dedicated to those who lost their lives, their loved ones, and pieces of themselves during the long night of the dictatorships of the "Southern Cone"; and, by extension, to all those before, during, and after the 1970s who, in some way, shared their experience of betrayal, degradation, and hope. May their heartbreak set us on a different course. This is the only way to rescue their profound and beautiful sacrifice from the disaster of uselessness; and perhaps the only way to save ourselves from the calamity of history repeated.

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Introductory Notes

The following play is not divided into acts, although it has various breaks in tempo and location which serve as natural dividers. As presently structured, minimal scenery is utilized, mainly pieces of furniture, which the stage crew will bring in and remove during the narrative. Through this reliance on "populist technics", a kind of "teatro del pueblo" (peopleís theater) feeling is aimed for. Simplicity of technique is not, however, to degenerate into ineffectiveness: the force of the spectacle must be preserved. Wherever a choice needs to be made, "primitive and stylized" must be chosen over "cheap and cheesy." One important facet contributing to the envisioned simplicity will be the frequent use of "pantomime" by the actors, whose movements will blend with spoken description to produce comprehensible action without a physically detailed setting. Producers and directors who feel the need to integrate more formal structure (e.g. scenes and acts) into the play, are invited to do so. In the same way, a bigger budget and more substantial production could increase attention to the scenery and props, if desired.

General Comments on the Cast and Props

A large cast is required for even a minimalist production of this work. I foresee between 5-8 people assigned exclusive roles, and 15-20 people assigned multiple roles, with the opportunity for more people to be involved if the number of extras is increased, or the number of multiple roles is diminished. Stage Crew and technical people, as well as a live guitarist (for one scene), are also in order. To give a rough idea of some of the props/costumes needed (careful inventory needs to be conducted by production), the following items are called for:

a small statue of the Buddha

uniforms (army, police, special police)

guns (automatic rifles, pistols)

a knife

lap top computers (2)

placards and signs with the faces of missing people

ski mask

"ruby brooch"

"pearl necklace"

yoke and shackles

puppet on strings

clothing (various: elegant, office, casual, military, etc.)

1-2 tape decks (to play "A Beautiful Morning" by the Rascals, and "Pequen~a Serenata Diurna" by Silvio Rodriguez)

sound effects (bus crash, gunfire, heart-monitor, etc.)

a large umbrella

GUITAR MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT

In the spirit of "primitive and stylized" over "cheap and cheesy", if convincing military weapons and sound-effects are not available to the technical crew, then it is possible to use conventions, such as sticks for guns, and drums for the sound of gunfire.

The Cast

THE EXPERIMENTAL WOMAN (EW), CONSUELO VALDEZ: The protagonist, a South American female possibly from the late 20s to the mid 30s. A secretary with leftist leanings, chosen by the dictatorship to be a test case for their ability to control the people through technology. To handle this role, our lead actress will require excellent range and true ability, as well as great skill in pantomime.

JAVIER: Consueloís writer friend; he listens to her story, but also has much to say himself. Age can vary.

BALDY: A small bald man with thick glasses, one of the "controllers" representing the right-wing State which is experimenting in controlling the actions of Consuelo by means of advanced technology implanted in her brain.

MASTER RACE (MR): An Aryan-looking "controller", an ally of Baldy who nonetheless has a different sensibility towards their mutual subject.

TURCIO: The dynamic guerrilla leader who has a powerful platonic relationship with Consuelo. Probably in the mid-30s. ("Turcio", most commonly used as a last name, has been deliberately utilized as this character's first name.)

WILFREDO: A young-looking, sweet man, a male nurse who becomes Consueloís love.

Secretary (Lourdes)

BOSS (Mr. Fonseca, Consueloís boss)

MR. AGUIRRE (a potential business partner of Fonseca)

Paco (security guard of Fonsecaís company)

Bus Stop Lady

Bus Passengers {Frustrated Passenger, Right-wing Passenger, Wounded Passenger,

Passenger who was punched, Extras?}

Bus Driver

Policeman

Policeman 2

ANA (Consueloís Aunt)

Military Squad {Leader & 3 men minimum}

KARINA LOPEZ (Former beauty queen)

LYDIA (An aging widow)

Female Guests {1,2,3, & 4}

DON ROBERTO (An old man who wants to be the life of the party)

Male Guests {1,2,& 3}

Ski Man

Party Girl

Old Woman

Child

Alarm Voice (Unseen, voice warning triggered by an alarm)

MOTHERS (1, 2, 3, & 4, & extras?, demonstrators against the government on behalf of

their missing sons and daughters)

Soldiers {A Captain, and several men}

PILAR (Turcioís companion)

Unseen Voice (both male and female unseen voices will be needed at various points

in the play)

Guerrillas {1 and 2, most likely armed with pistols, weapons that can be easily concealed)

Special Police Unit {several men, utilized in making various "hits" against radicals}

Pedestrians {several, to create a crowd in which Consuelo is walking; three of them are

required to make special movements in sync with Consuelo}

Entertainer (a puppeteer)

Spectators (who watch the puppeteer)

DEATH (a figure like "Death" in the Tarot, who makes a metaphorical appearance as

Consuelo attempts suicide)

Hanged Man (another figure from the Tarot. Not a speaking part.)

ANGEL (a female angel who tries to take Consuelo to Heaven)

Unseen Voice of Consueloís Mother

Doctor

Unseen Voices of Fallen Fighters (FF) {1-8, radical speech-makers from the past}

Unseen Voices of the People (who listen to the fallen fighters, cheer, applaud, and chant)

Neighbors (1-5, & possible extras, who witness a fire across the street from Javierís home)

MERCEDES (The mother of Julio)

JULIO (A child, 5-8 years old, trapped in the burning building)

 

THE PLAY

 

JAVIER: Whatís the last thing you remember? Before you became - strange?

EW: The car crashÖ

JAVIER: You remember it?

EW: No - just what they told me afterwards. I remember a woman who seemed impatient to cross the street.

JAVIER: A pedestrian?

EW: Her face - I think the corner was just a little ways past that. Maybe I was still thinking about herÖ

JAVIER: An SUV barreled into you from the side.

EW: A red lightís not the same as a wall. Itís really only the mind of the driver. Will he bow down to the signal, allow the social order to absorb him? Or will he roll the light like dice?

JAVIER: An ego is a terrible thing to waste.

EW: I am the light. Red for you, and green for me. Forever!

JAVIER: The battle for the world.

EW: Iím not crazy, Javier. This is real. (Javier regards her. She detects the movement on his face, and laughs, with some sadness.) Javier, you winced - like I just hit you. You donít believe me, do you?

JAVIER: Itís not that I donít -

EW: Youíre trying so hard to be understanding, sympathetic, not to let me see your discomfort - a friend whoís gone mad. It must be very upsetting.

JAVIER: Consuelo -

EW: Itís OK. Compassion grows like a cyst around the terror, you isolate the threat, neutralize it with love. Itís a better path than hate.

JAVIER: Consuelo - a head injury - physical trauma to the brain - Iím sure itís normal -

EW: What - to be abnormal?

JAVIER: These thoughts youíre having -

EW: Delusions?

JAVIER: Trauma to the brain. With time, things will improve.

EW: Because you want them to?

JAVIER: Like amnesia. The memory comes back. With time - with timeÖ

EW: Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. TICK TOCK! (Javier looks at her with trepidation, she laughs, then suddenly becomes quiet and intent.) Theyíre looking at you, Javier.

JAVIER: Consuelo -

EW: My eyes are their eyes. Iím like a walking camera, somewhere behind these (pointing to her eyes) theyíre watching. (Javier is fighting not to show horror at her condition.) Oh, donít worry. They wonít come after you. Youíre not a danger to them. A writer, lost in his own world. "My kingdom is not of this earth." No need to do anything about you. Youíre already locked up in the jail of finding the perfect word. A beautiful ostrich soul, with his head forever buried in the sand of his talent.

JAVIER: Consuelo, itís not like thatÖ

EW: And Nero asked: should I burn Rome down with a period, or a semicolon?

JAVIER: I care, Consuelo. About you, my friends, the world.

EW: (To her invisible controllers) Heís just saying that. Donít listen to him.

JAVIER: Who are you talking to?

EW: (Ignoring his question) Heís harmless. I love him, in spite of despising him. (She goes to a little statue of the Buddha) Look, spiritual! (She picks it up and moves the statue around in front of her eyes, so her controllers can get a better look.) See?, itís Buddha. (She puts the Buddha down.  Speaking of Javier) He subscribes to the ideology of impotence. He wouldnít harm a fly. Your reign is safe.

JAVIER: Spirituality is power.

EW: He thinks that. (She goes over to a mirror, and winks, to indicate that they know better. If itís hard for the audience to see the wink, she can give the sign for "crazy." She then says mockingly) OK, sure, spirituality is power. (She winks again) Heís a powerful man, just like Hercules.

JAVIER: What are you doing? Why are you looking in the mirror?

EW: So they can see me.

JAVIER: (Picking up his Buddha, almost sheltering it) Consuelo, thereís nothing stronger in the Universe than love.

EW: (Seeing him with the Buddha) Is someone being mean to your baby?

JAVIER: Consuelo -

EW: Idiot, if the secret police kicked in your neighborís door, and dragged everybody off to a concentration camp youíd forgive them, they were probably beaten when they were kids. Poor, poor, misunderstood policemen. Why shouldnít their black boots walk over the world? - Sail far enough on the sea of compassion, Javier, and the curvature of the earth will bring you to apathy. To collusion. (Javier is very affected by what sheís said.) Yes, go on, be angry with me, get it out of your system before any of it reaches the generals.

JAVIER: Consuelo, you underestimate me!

EW: And so do they - (whispering) and thatís your salvation.

JAVIER: Consuelo - the blow to the head -

EW: Yes - the blow to the headÖ (Hits her head playfully.) POW! Who are you? A nut. Before the crash: I can handle phones, type, take dictation; I said dictation, not dictatorship. Pretty, pretty secretary with a dangerous mind. I think guerrillas are sexy. Chameleon girl, fits in all environments, secret dreams of justice hide underneath the sheets of acquiescence. Who told them? Someone just like me? After the crash: (Makes "insane" noises.) LLLLL, he he he he, LLLLL. Social misfit. Jester of the Left, unwilling spy machine of the fascists. POW! What a wonderful opportunity.

JAVIER: Opportunity?

EW: For them. Radical girl on the operating table. Beautiful new device to put into her head. They had to make a cut to reduce the swelling; medical jargon became the wings of their political agenda. (Looking into the mirror again) Well, at least they did a good job with my face, do you know it went through the windshield? Who cares if they planted the latest police-state technology into my brain, at least I still look good. If you werenít so infatuated with the women you invent, you could back me up.

JAVIER: Consuelo, yes, you are beautiful. In fact, one of my characters is based on you.

EW: A madwoman?

JAVIER: No - how you used to be -

EW: Before?

JAVIER: Before. (An awkward moment for both) Consuelo - Iíve always admired you - loved you. Iím sure youíre going to get through this.

EW: (She moves her hair to reveal the scar of the operation.) They put it in through here, Javier.

JAVIER: You had an operation. They had to do it to save your life. (She looks at him, like, Ďyou wonít believe me, will you?í) What do the doctors say?

EW: The doctors who did it donít work at the hospital, Javier, they came in from the outside. It turns out, theyíre employed by the hospital on the military base, you know, the Military Research Hospital of La Plata. I was given an interview with one of them - it was about six months after the accident. Dr. Escipion Melendez Gott. If youíre going to be f***ed up, it might as well be done by someone with a distinctive name, donít you think?

JAVIER: And what did he say?

EW: What do you think he was going to say? ĎWeíve put an implant in your brain and turned your life into an experiment, a journey into the final frontier of domination? From now on, we will rule the world from within the minds of the free?í

JAVIER: What did he say?

EW: Bullshit.

JAVIER: What words did the bullshit take?

EW: You and words! He said something about seizures, amnesia, and paranoia as a result of damage to some unpronounceable part of the brain.

JAVIER: Why not believe him? Just because the junta is in power doesnít mean that every authority figure is an enemy. Doctors are still doctors. Dictatorships canít change the laws of physics.

EW: This isnít physics, Dostoevsky, this is electronics.

JAVIER: So, how does it work then? Describe it to me. How do they get at the images in your brain? Is there a transmitter in your head?

EW: It was the smirk on his faceÖ

JAVIER: What???

EW: Dr.Escipion. He knew that I knew. He also knew that there was nothing I could do with my knowledge. Your disbelief is proof of that. He told me all kinds of crap about people who believe theyíve been abducted by extraterrestrials, people who believe theyíve seen fairies or been raped by demons, people who hear voices, schizophrenia, multiple-personality disorder, the Sibyl, the Pythia. Finally, he gave me a bottle of pills. "They wonít cure you," he said, "but they will help to prevent a further deterioration." All the while, he was smiling like a bottle-nosed dolphin. Through history, nothing has got men off like a helpless woman.

JAVIER: The pills? You have them? (She hands him a bottle from her purse. He puts on reading glasses, reads the label, then opens it up, and is startled.) M & Ms?!

EW: The pills he gave me were huge. They were something youíd give to a sick horse, not a human being. Anyhow, they were placebos. Why not replace them with something that tastes good? (Javier seems disapproving) Look, itís bad enough to have all this crap inside my head, do I have to choke to death, too?

JAVIER: Consuelo! (She takes the bottle back from him, and begins to eat the candy.)

EW: Mmmm. Insanity does have its benefits. What a delicious catastrophe! "Delicious catastrophe." Isnít that a good expression? I give you permission to use it in your book. Only if it meets your standards, of course. (She puts the bottle away)

JAVIER: Maybe the medicine would help.

EW: No, Javier. I wonít play the ingenue. Iíll leave that role for you. I know when Iím outclassed.

JAVIER: (Warding off the insult) I still think it would help you if you would just spend the time to try to figure out how it works. This so-called device you say the government has planted inside your head.

EW: Why? So that I realize itís impossible?

JAVIER: Youíre gifted, Consuelo. Your imaginationÖ

EW: Yes, I know, Iím like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, except I donít write. It works, Javier. Thatís all I know. I watch TV all the time, now.

JAVIER: TV?

EW: What else is there to do? Hours and hours a day, Javier. The telenovelas, even sports, thatís how lonely I am. But can I tell you how it works? The TV? I canít. Well, itís the same way with this crap they put inside my head. Look, you said you were going to listen!

JAVIER: OK. OK.

EW: Is this your philosophy of listening? Rip it all down before it has a chance to come out? Punch the open mouth, so the ears can sleep, save them for later, theyíre going to have a long night of listening to you talking to yourself. Donít let me get in the way.

JAVIER: OK, OK, Iím sorry, Iím listening.

EW: You know, sometimes wanting to heal people is just a way of trying to make them shut up.

JAVIER: Consuelo, Iím going to listen. Itís not about what I think is possible, itís about what you need to get off your chest. I understand. My writingís not an iron gate. Itís not me shutting out the world. Itís the world passing through me -

EW: Like piss?

JAVIER: Iím going to listen. (She looks at him) Really, I swear. Tell me your story. (Thinking she may be sensitive about the word Ďstoryí) Tell me your truth. The truth - as you see it.

EW: (She laughs) Poor, poor writer. Pursued by words everywhere he goes. "Donít shoot!" I mean, "donít shoot while your guns are pointing at me!" I mean, "donít shoot while your guns are pointing at me, or anyone else who might be innocent." I mean, "donít shoot while your guns are pointing at anyone who might be innocent, including me." What do I mean by "innocent"? Well, philosophically speakingÖ (To Javier, who is feeling the effects of her merciless satire.) OK. I think youíve learned your lesson. (Exposing the scar, again) Feel here, Javier. (He looks) Donít just look, feel. (He does) Canít you feel something?

JAVIER: There is something hard there. Have you had this checked out?

EW: Of course. Of course I have. Doesnít it feel like metal?

JAVIER: Maybe a pin. Something to hold the skull together?

EW: Itís a part of the device. Poor Dr. Torres.

JAVIER: I thought it was Dr. Escipion Melendez -

EW: No, Dr. Torres is the one I went to on my own. After the operation. After I started to lose control. After Don Escipion treated me like an ant. - Like something between an ant, and a daughterÖ Anyway, I convinced him to give me an X-ray. I figured at this stage, a little radiation to the head couldnít hurt. Poor Dr. Torres.

JAVIER: Poor?

EW: Yes. For having such an overused name! One of one million Jose Torresí. Jose Torres? Which one? The doctor. Which one? (Javier is too focused to be really amused) Well, the X-ray showed it.

JAVIER: Showed what?

EW: The device. I saw it. I mean, an image of it. And so did he. And two nurses.

JAVIER: And what did he say?

EW: That heíd never seen anything like it in his life. He admitted, brain surgery wasnít his specialty, and he wasnít a hundred percent up to date with the medical journals - he liked his grandchildren too much. But he said this was incomprehensible.

JAVIER: And what did it look like?

EW: There were two nodes, connected by a shaft with several paths going into my brain, and some lines that seemed like filaments, and something that looked like a tiny batteryÖ

JAVIER: Get out of here! Do you have a copy? Of the X-ray?

EW: Whoever manages to hold onto evidence of something that smashes a paradigm? Of course, I donít!

JAVIER: What happened?

EW: Dr. Torres made some calls. To experts. Somehow, my case was in a computer, and Don Escipion was tipped off. Before you could blink an eye, police in plainclothes were there. They took the negatives, told Dr.Torres I was a "special case", and to forget what he saw. "This is over your head, how would you like to be closed down for malpractice?" One of the nurses told me this. After that, they noticed a black car which seemed to always be parked across the street. When I went back to see Dr. Torres, himself, he was sweating like a mouse. He told me he didnít remember anything about my case, there must be some mistake, and I swear, he started to cry. "The accident may have affected your memory," he said. I imagined his grandchildren playing outside in the park, on a sunny day, with a black car cruising slowly by, and I let it go at that. (She regards Javier) Itís OK, Javier, youíre listening. You donít have to believe me. I canít demand that. Your mind belongs to you. And thatís a beautiful thing. You have a mind that still belongs to you. (A moment of silence, as she ponders what to say next.) Itís a camera and a recording device, Javier. Iím like a space probe sending signals back to mission control so they can see the surface of Mars, or the ice on Saturnís moons. Every street sign, every number on a door, every face, every conversation. Iíve become poison to my friends, Javier, Iíve only come to see you, after staying away for so long, because youíre so useless. Iíve hung out with too many people who wanted to change the world, and Iíve given them all away, just by loving them, just by running alongside them, dreaming. Now, the most revolutionary act I can perform is to asphyxiate myself in bourgeois circles, to hang out with the people who were once my cover, but who I am now condemned to rot amongst. Stay with the people the generals love. Avoid the ones theyíre searching for. No, no, I would never have come to see you if you werenít so self-absorbed, and blessed to have a successful father, an industrialist, the opposite of everything you stand for, but your guardian angel, nonetheless. How you hate him, your hair shirt - and your bulletproof vest!

JAVIER: Please, donít talk about him, now. Iím finally clear of his shadow , Iím supporting myself, Iíve even got some good reviews, for those short stories I wrote last yearÖ

EW: (Reassuring him, in her way) No, but itís mainly your uselessness. (To her controllers) Heís no threat. I need somebody to talk to, and at the end of the day, he wonít believe a word of this. (She does a Nazi salute) Sieg Heil! (She takes a pen in her hand and pretends to write) Itís all the same. It leaves the world to you. (She repeats the salute with "Sieg Heil" and writing) He is a most loyal citizen, a nonconformist without legs. He doesnít need to look out the window, at your crimes. Heís got a window in his mind, thatís facing inside. He spends all day looking at his disconnected paradise. Itís not a blueprint, itís a drug. Burn the world down, blow it up, and he wonít even notice, give him sheets of paper, and he will polish your boots by doing nothing. (Javier regards her unhappily, but trying to remain committed to his role as listener. She is quiet for a moment, then speaks again, pointing at her head where the device is hidden) It can also take me over, somehow; it overrides my brain, breaks in, gets access to my motor system, makes me do things, say things, I donít want to.

JAVIER: Like just now - when you insulted me?

EW: No, sadly, that was me. That was me. (Laughs) My puppet masters have a hard time keeping up!

JAVIER: All I noticed after your accident, before you stopped visiting me -

EW: I had to convince myself that it was safe -

JAVIER: - was the twitching. Something new. Your face was always so confident - can I say competent? You had the self-control of an actress, yet without any falsehood about you. You laughed primally, but not indecently; you radiated sympathy and intelligence, your raw cleverness was like a beacon for intellectuals who were weighed down by their knowledge; joy and dignity danced in your eyes, you had the balance of a cat on a high shelf, walking amongst fragile things. And then, the twitchingÖ I assumed it was from damage to the nervous system.

EW: It was bad, no?

JAVIER: I thought of that beautiful model whose face was slashed with a razor by her jealous boyfriend. (She is affected) Iím sorry, I donít mean to hurt you -

EW: Itís all right. Itís true. Anyway, I knew it. I knew it. For a long time, I tried to convince myself that nobody had noticed. "Get it under control, Consuelo, before they see it." But, of course, they had already seen it . Their looks of surprise, concern, quickly dived down into the foxhole of how good people should act, they carried on as if nothing were wrong. Friendship was replaced by mercy, my social life became one giant poker game, everyone hiding their cards, pretending.

JAVIER: It was so bad, we even began to call you "Morse."

EW: Morse???

JAVIER: For "Morse code." The way you blinked your eyes. It was like you were sending messages over the telegraph.

EW: What do you mean " Ďweí began to call you Morse"? Who do you know? Are you talking about you and your pen? You and your thesaurus?

JAVIER: Well - this twitching - is this what you mean about your motor system being invaded? By the device? Not to put ideas in your head, because it seems perfectly understandable as a form of neurological damage, as a consequence of the accident.

EW: The twitching was definitely the beginning. A kind of low-level test. At night, I also began to experience spasms in my fingers and toes. I remember lying awake one evening as one finger after another twitched, contracted, froze and returned to normal. It felt like my hand was an assembly line of helplessness. All the while, the moon was shining through the curtains, and I remembered that ancient Japanese poem, when the man comes back to find his home has been burglarized and everything is gone, except for the moon in the window. The thieves couldnít take that. - The thieves couldnít take that.

JAVIER: What happened when you tried to stop the twitching?

EW: I couldnít. I just couldnít. And then things began to get worse. Mainly when I was with bourgeois people. When I was with radicals, I didnít twitch. I think it was their way of trying to make me spend more time with the revolutionaries, so they could spy on them. Things really began to spiral out of control in March. Thatís when I lost my job.

JAVIER: Because of your twitching?

EW: Well, that didnít help. When youíre hired to be pretty, twitching is not a good career move. But it was much more than that. A real escalation.

JAVIER: What happened?

EW: Javier, itís like thisÖ (Stage crew puts out a desk, with a chair behind it and two chairs in front of it. A man in a business suit comes and sits down in the chair behind the desk.) Wait, I wasnít wearing this. (EW goes off stage to change into her office dress. Another secretary enters, meanwhile, to converse with the man behind the desk.)

SECRETARY: Coffee, Mr. Fonseca?

BOSS: Yes. Less cream, please. And can you get Consuelo? I want her to take notes. Give us about two minutes, then bring in Mr. Aguirre.

SECRETARY: Yes, Sir. (She leaves)

EW: (Consuelo reemerges into the office, with a pen and pad of paper to do shorthand.) Good morning, Sir.

BOSS: Good morning, Consuelo. You look very lovely, today. You could give tips to my wife.

CONSUELO: Oh no, Sir, sheís very beautiful.

BOSS: Please - have a seat. Why is it that women stop taking care of themselves the minute they get a husband? Is marriage some kind of signal to get fat?

CONSUELO: Oh no, Mr. Fonseca, Lilly is still very attractive.

BOSS: I tell her sheís on the way to becoming the perfect partner for a Sumo wrestler. Iím afraid to let her ride on Leipzig Mio -

CONSUELO: The white horse?

BOSS: Heís won a lot of prizes.

SECRETARY: (Enters) Your coffee, Sir.

BOSS: Thank you, Lourdes. Has Mr. Aguirre had a cup?

SECRETARY: He drinks mate. And the answer is yes. He wouldnít take seconds.

BOSS: Perfect.

SECRETARY: Should I show him in, yet?

BOSS: Give me another minute.

SECRETARY: Yes, Sir.

BOSS: Heís not too impatient, is he?

SECRETARY: Heís begun to tap his fingers on his briefcase.

BOSS: Well, a little waiting will show him Iím not desperate. Iíve got worthwhile product. (He nods to the secretary.)

SECRETARY: Very good, sir. (She exits.)

BOSS: I remember when I first got married. My brother said, "Sheís beautiful! Are you sure you love her?" Eye candy, Consuelo. Now sheís like a piece of stale bread.

EW: Oh no, Sir! Not Lilly!

BOSS: You know, Consuelo, people judge a man by the woman at his side. A beautiful woman creates a certain image of the man whoís won her. The public sees her, if she is gorgeous, as proof of the manís virility, his competence, his guts, his genius. They respect him, they defer to him, they even bow down to him. People used to think I was a tiger, Consuelo. Now, when they see Lilly, they imagine Iím a sheep. I swear, the money this company makes is inversely proportional to the pounds she puts on. (He notices her blink) Are you OK, Consuelo?

EW: Yes, Sir, I just got something in my eye.

BOSS: I should fire Rosa, she never gets the dust off of the ceiling fans. And itís never even occurred to her to look on top of the doors.

EW: Oh no, Sir, itís not Rosa. In fact, my eyes have been bothering me lately.

BOSS: Maybe you should have them checked. - Are you sure youíre good to take notes?

EW: Yes, Sir. Iíll be fine.

BOSS: Mr. Aguirre is a very important potential client. Word is, heís also very picky. They say, hammer a nail into your ass and youíll know what itís like to do business with Mr. Aguirre. But he can give us a lot of sales. In fact, heís got ins on the project at Salto.

EW: The big power plant?

BOSS: Tons, tons, and more tons of cement. We canít lose him. Iíd eat my own shit to get this contract.

EW: I understand. Iíll take good notes!

BOSS: And just keep looking pretty. (He stands up, and comes over to her, caressing a lock of her hair)

CONSUELO: Sir?

BOSS: It was too well-combed. A little bit of hair out of place - just one lock that seems to have escaped the comb - is very exciting to a man. It reminds him of other possibilities, on the other side of office decorum. (She blinks again. Concerned, he reaches for a box of tissues) Here, a tissue. Can you get it out of your eye? (She takes it)

EW: Thank you, Sir.

SECRETARY: (Enters) Sir, shall I show Mr. Aguirre in now?

BOSS: Yes, Lourdes, please. (She goes to get him. Turning to Consuelo, he asks hopefully) Better?

EW: Yes, Sir, I think so. I believe so.

ENTER MR. AGUIRRE (who says "Thank you" to Lourdes, who replies, "Youíre welcome, Sir." Consuelo also rises to her feet.)

BOSS: Mr. Aguirre, welcome, at last we meet!

AGUIRRE: Mr. Fonseca, a pleasure! (They shake hands)

BOSS: (Introducing Consuelo) My secretary, Consuelo.

AGUIRRE: Good morning.

EW: Good morning, Sir.

AGUIRRE (to the Boss): One of your secretaries. Each more beautiful than the last!

EW: Oh, thank you, Sir!

BOSS: One of the benefits of running your own business. And the trip here?

AGUIRRE: Planes, helicopters, limos, itís a way of life. Unless one of them goes down in flames, assume you donít have to ask.

EW: Flames? (They both look at her, she looks momentarily strange and distant, then snaps out of it.) Oh, nothing, sorry. It just reminded me of something.

BOSS: (Explaining) Consuelo has just recently recovered from a serious automobile accident. She was out for some time.

AGUIRRE: Oh, Iím sorry, I didnít mean to bring up bad memories.

EW: Oh no, Sir, itís fine, really. Iím much better now.

BOSS: She was worth waiting for.

AGUIRRE: Iíll say.

BOSS: Nobody takes dictation, or answers telephones like she does.

AGUIRRE: I bet!

BOSS: Well, why donít you take a seat. (They all move to sit down)

AGUIRRE: Nice chair.

BOSS: Spanish.

EW: Espan~a engan~a. Spain deceives. (They both look at her. She explains.) It rhymes. Sorry! Too many compliments have made me silly. I feel uncomfortable on a pedestal, so when Iím up there, I always try to take a step down. (Boss is now anxious. She tries to reassure him.) Nobody takes notes like me!

AGUIRRE: Well. A secretary who looks like you do could probably even get away with spitting in your bossí coffee. So - Mr. Fonseca. You have cement for me? (Consuelo begins to record notes.)

BOSS: I do. Youíre already familiar with our output. We are in a position to expand production 25% within the year, and 33% in two. Itís a question of demand. But, of course, we also have two potential Brazilian contracts hovering outside the factory gate, that could cut into supply, unless we get a better offer.

AGUIRRE: And how much will they pay?

BOSS: Uruguayan Domestic Construction Standard. We might get more, once the Military Industrial Board upgrades our quality index.

AGUIRRE: To?

BOSS: 9.7.

AGUIRRE: The rap on your company is that Rocha quality is only average.

BOSS: I can give you Maldonado product.

AGUIRRE: How much does that plant produce?

BOSS: 40% of our total product. (Consuelo stands, takes her bossí coffee, and spits into it. He is stunned.)

EW: Well - Mr. Aguirre said that I could spit into your coffee.

JAVIER: (Watching this reenactment from the side, as the rest of the actors freeze.) Consuelo, what the hell was that?!

EW: (To Javier) I couldnít help it, Javier! An impulse. The kind of thing that bounces around in your subconscious, but you never act on.

JAVIER: You lost the ability to control your impulses?

EW: It was like they could shut my self-control on and off. Disconnect my psychological brakes. I became a victim of my overactive mind; my cynicism broke free of the straps of foreseeing the consequences, I became a social Frankenstein crashing through walls, unable to resist the joy of mocking the world. Nothing better than biting the hand that feeds you.

JAVIER: Jesus! (The scene comes back to life)

BOSS: Consuelo. Do you know what you have just done?

EW: I - I canít believe it. My head injury! Iím so sorry, Sir! Let me get you another cup of coffee! (He wonít let her take the cup.)

AGUIRRE: Saliva is exchanged in kissing. Why not look at that cup of coffee as a kiss? A secretary with that kind of spirit is a real treasure.

BOSS: Thatís easy for you to say.

AGUIRRE: Yes, it is. Sheís not my secretary! (They both laugh.) But seriously, Mr. Fonseca, Iíve come to discuss cement, not to witness the firing of a secretary. Consuelo, can you just behave yourself?

EW: I can. (They all try to get back to business.) But I wonít. (They look at her.) Why so much time wasted on cement? No wonder Lillyís getting fat, what does she have to do but eat?

BOSS: Consuelo! (Warning her.)

EW: (She stands up and begins a song and dance routine.)

Cement, Cement, the world needs Cement!

Cement, Cement, Cement can be your friend!

Walk on it, live in it, put it on someoneís feet

Drive him to the docks, and dump him in the sea

Build a house, build a dam, even build a town

Then drop a bomb on it, and knock it to the ground

So you will need

Cement, Cement, the world needs Cement!

Cement, Cement, Lilly is alone!

Why couldnít they build with stone?

Oh well, eat another cake.

(speaking) Was this song a mistake?

(They are too bewildered to speak. She shows them the notes sheís been taking.)

AGUIRRE: A sketch. Two men with horns. No notes. Which one am I?

EW: (Matter of factly.) This one.

AGUIRRE: The one with the smaller horns? Is that good?

EW: Could be. You might be more moral, or just have a duller knife. In which case, Iíd have to say the lion is more admirable than the jackal.

BOSS: (On his phone.) Lourdes. Get Paco. No, itís not an emergency. Itís a pity, thatís what it is. Consuelo has snapped. Yes, the injury, I suppose.

EW: Cement. External construction. What a huge distraction. Where is the internal construction, I ask you?

AGUIRRE: Internal construction?

EW: The internal construction of Man. Magnates of eternal fragility! Why build, when youíll always pull it down? (She points to her heart.) Hereís where the city lies.

(Enter Paco, the security guard, and the Secretary.)

BOSS: Take her away, Paco. (To Consuelo.) Consuelo, youíre fired. File a Psych-Aid request, if you need to. Iíll sign it. Mail it in, I donít want you to set foot in this office ever again.

SECRETARY: (Lourdes wipes away a tear and puts her arm around Consuelo.) Come on, sister.

BOSS: No, Lourdes, let Paco take her. I need you to take notes. (He has Consueloís clipboard, now, and rips off the picture and throws it out.) I know you donít do shorthand, just do the best you can. (Paco takes Consuelo by the arm.)

EW: Good-bye, Mr. Fonseca. Iím sorry you never got to f**k me! (Sheís dragged away by Paco.)

BOSS: Me, too. (Turning to Aguirre.) So, Mr. Aguirre, god damn it, letís do business!

(EW goes back to sit with Javier, as this scene is dismantled.)

JAVIER: Iím sorry, Consuelo. It must have been traumatic.

EW: You know, all the things we take for granted. All those rock-solid things. Our whole lives, weíre really walking such a thin line, without knowing it. Just one wrong move, one wrong word, and weíre down. Assassinated by an impulse.

JAVIER: I understand, Consuelo. And I want you to know that I am feeling your pain. But - but how do you know you didnít just stop giving a damn? How do you know that after facing death in your accident, you didnít just lose your taste for pretending, the strength to be hypocritical? Sometimes, enlightenment weakens our connection to the real world, and we just have to escape.

EW: Do I detect autobiography surfacing within your powers of observation?

JAVIER: Why should I believe in this device, in these mysterious, shadowy figures who you say have been trailing you, controlling you? Many people have trouble controlling their impulses. Kleptomaniacs, alcoholics, donut-lovers, and itís not because the dictatorís henchmen are sabotaging their self-control with advanced electronics.

EW: (Laughs.) Congratulations, Javier, I have an equal in cruelty.

JAVIER: (He starts to apologize.) Iím sorry -

EW: No, no, I mean it as a compliment. Now that Iím broken, I do have so little patience for cowardice masked as tolerance. I think I need to continue.

JAVIER: Continue?

EW: With my story. The bus. Immediately upon leaving the office, courtesy of Pacoís prehistoric might, I began to experience additional symptoms of impulse-control loss, then, finally, a complete takeover. (She gets up, and walks over to a sign for a bus that the stage crew puts up. Another lady comes by to stand there. At some distance, the stage crew also begins to set up the interior of a bus: a few seats.) Iím at the bus stop, waiting for the slow-ass AG 3. The AE 5 doesnít stop here, but it likes to roar down the lane at full speed, to make all the AG 3 people jealous. I see the AE 5 coming down the street like Ben Hur, and suddenly, I feel an urge to jump in front of it. I walk away from the street. But something suddenly jerks me back towards it, like Iím a little dog on a leash. (She runs towards the bus, and the other lady at the bus stop cries out.)

BUS STOP LADY: Sen~orita, no!

EW: (EW stops, right at the brink of the street.) The bus honks its horn and swerves to avoid me! My heart is pounding and I can hardly breathe.

BUS STOP LADY: Sen~orita! Sen~orita! (Consuelo crumples to her knees.) Are you OK? For Godís sake, what the hell were you doing? Are you all right?

EW: (She climbs to her feet, helped by the lady.) Thank you, thank you. Yes, Iím OK. I just got a little dizzy.

BUS STOP LADY: (Holds her, and studies her for a moment.) You werenít thinking of killing yourself, were you, moza?

EW: No. Oh, no. I wouldnít think of it.

JAVIER: Maybe you were desperate, Consuelo. About losing your job.

EW: I wasnít as upset as youíd think, Javier. I was numb. I felt like my body wasnít mine. I wondered if I was having some kind of stroke, or heart attack, but I told myself I was too young, my estrogen would never let that happen. - Javier: it was like they were showing me what they could do. It was a kind of death threat, although it didnít sink in right away.

BUS STOP LADY: Hereís our bus. Do you want help up, muchacha? Here, let me help you.

EW: Donít worry, youíre so kind. Iím OK. Really, I am.

(They go over to sit in the seats, where there are some passengers. There is also the bus driver. The Bus Stop Lady starts to sit in another place, then comes back to sit down in a seat from which she can watch Consuelo.)

JAVIER: So, youíre on the bus.

EW: Iím on the bus, feeling sick. These weird warm feelings are going through my legs. We get to another stop, and someone is about to sit down next to me. But my arm begins to go out of control. (She begins to lash her arm out to the side, at intervals, like some kind of windshield wiper. The person is taken aback, thinks it has stopped, is about to sit down again, but then it resumes.)

FRUSTRATED PASSENGER: Son of a bitch! Insane asylum on wheels. (Looks for another seat.)

EW: (She begins to sing the famous seductive tune from the opera "Carmen.") I donít know, the words to this, but I will sing it till youíre all pissed. Iím not nuts, nothingís amiss, I am just a flaming bitch. Iíll drive you all off of the bus, Iíll sing until youíve had enough. Iíll break your ear drums and make this Hell, until I have the bus all to my-self!"

PASSENGERS: Hey, shut up! Sit down! Puta! (She sits. The nice woman gets up to try to go over and calm her down, but she begins to twitch her arm again.)

BUS STOP LADY: Sen~orita. Sen~orita. Can I help? You need to get home.

EW: (She stands up and begins to thrash around, the lady has to go back, the person behind her curses, and changes their seat.) Weeee! Iím a windmill! Don Quixote, come and get me! My arms belong to the State! I am the secret weapon of General Aleman!

PASSENGERS: Hey, stop! Bitch! Iíll kick your ass! Let her alone, sheís crazy! Bus driver! Youíve got somebody bugging out on the bus! Maybe sheís on drugs! All I wanted was food for my cat, you canít go anywhere these days without running into some kind of nut or homeless person. (The nice lady goes up to the bus driver, and whispers to him.)

EW: (Sits down on the bus again. Speaks to Javier.) Things were getting worse. I was turning the whole bus against me, and couldnít seem to stop it. Thank God, my stop was coming up; but then, suddenly, from being hyperactive, it was like my whole body suddenly gave out. I tried to reach for the buzzer to signal that I wanted to get off, but my arm wouldnít respond. I was paralyzed! In absolute horror, I watched my stop, my home go by through the window. I felt so homesick in those few seconds. Of course, I tried to call out to the driver, but nothing came out! Javier, a minute before I was singing Carmen - well, my version of Carmen - and next thing you know, I wasnít able to get out a peep. Itís like the signal to speak wasnít making it from my brain to my vocal cords. My fellow passengers took heart from my silence. They thought the drama was over.

JAVIER: (He guesses.) But it wasnít.

EW: No. It wasnít. My voice came back. Unfortunately, I forget its purpose. (To the passengers.) Yes, arenít you all happy now?! Happy that my vocal cords stopped working. Well, Iíve got news for you - theyíre back! Bastards! Sheep! You are the silence that loads the guns! Paralyzed voices: masons of temples to false gods! How tall are the towers of injustice built upon the things you do not say!

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: This is treason! (Starts to call on a cell phone.)

EW: Treason? Patriotism has always been a haven for traitors!

BUS STOP LADY: Please, moza. Donít get yourself into trouble.

EW: (Jumps up, addressing passengers.) Where are you going? Where are you all going? Why arenít you driving? Who is driving you? To where? (She stalks up aisle towards driver, then suddenly jumps him.)

BUS DRIVER: Hijo de puta, get off, you crazy bitch!

EW: The general is taking you to Hell!

PASSENGERS: (Screaming and shouting with terror, as the bus swerves around. One passenger, a strong man, tries to pull her off the driver, she knocks him back.)

JAVIER: How did you do that?

EW: The device. Itís like this enormous power surged through my arm. I think I could have won the world heavyweight championship at that moment.

JAVIER: And the bus?

(EW goes back to wrestling with the driver, as the passengers scream. Finally, thereís a crash.)

EW: We rammed into a street sign. "Calle Nuevo Orden." Bye New Order.

JAVIER: Was anybody hurt?

EW: Just shaken up and crying, like a bunch of sissies. I staggered out of the bus, like the shipwrecked insomniac from the Lorca poem. (Another passenger staggers out after her.)

WOUNDED PASSENGER: Why?? Why?? Why did you do this to us??

EW: (She stands there looking at the lady, and begins to blink repeatedly.)

WOUNDED PASSENGER: Whatís wrong with your eyes?

EW: At that moment, a strange lucidity came to me, I knew for the first time that it wasnít me. That I was being used. My self-control was being broken down so that they could see what was really inside me and get me to expose myself. But they were also testing methods of direct control. They were taking over my body. Suddenly, I began to shake. (She shakes as in a wild Dionysian dance.) I felt hopeless yet excited. I think I was about to have an orgasm, when the policeman came. His aura of authority immediately brought me back to earth.

PASSENGERS: Sheís crazy! Sheís a nut! She attacked the driver! She made the bus crash!

BUS DRIVER: She jumped me. Sheís out of her mind.

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: This is the one.

(Another policeman comes to join the first.)

BUS DRIVER: Look, you need to put her in handcuffs, or a straitjacket

PASSENGER WHO WAS PUNCHED: Look out, she packs a punch.

BUS STOP LADY: Did somebody call an ambulance?

POLICEMAN: Yes, Mam, theyíre on the way.

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: Just shoot her. Donít spend my tax dollars trying to redeem her or cure her.

PASSENGER WHO WAS PUNCHED: Iíll have to tell my wife that a guy did this. Punched by a girl?

POLICEMAN: Whatís this all about, chica?

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: (Shows ID.) I work for Mendoza Munitions. I had to pass a lie-detector test and a background check. You can depend on what I say. This woman is a Communist, and also insane.

EW: (To the policeman) Yes, go ahead, shoot me, help to keep him employed.

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: Bitch.

EW: (To policeman) Youíre so young. And so innocent - for how long?

POLICEMAN 2: We better cuff her.

POLICEMAN: (To her) Do you have an explanation?

BUS DRIVER: What explanation can you have for crashing a bus? Being pretty?

EW: It didnít work at Fonseca Cement, Incorporated. Why should it work for the Capital Bus Corporation?

POLICEMAN: So you have nothing to say?

EW: I think Virgil said it best: "Her breast heaved and her bursting heart was wild and mad; she appeared taller and spoke in no mortal tones, for the God was nearer and the breath of his power was upon her." I have become the Sibyl of an unknown power; the priestess of a cult I do not understand. My accident was no accident. My brain is theirs. It must be your government, who else would have the technology, the money, the motive?

POLICEMAN 2: Sheís crazy.

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: (He waves his ID in their faces.) For Godís sakes, muchachos, donít just stand there, youíre men now. Grow into your uniforms! Cuff the bitch! (The first policeman takes out the cuffs, but still hesitates.) Go on! Itís not the past. Fire can have balls, and it can have a c**t. Either way, fire burns your house down. Itís not the age of opening doors for ladies, anymore, itís the age of killing them whenever they oppose the State.

(The policeman cuffs her.)

EW: (To Javier.) The Rubicon was crossed. Practicality demanded the end of chivalry.

JAVIER: How awful! I knew youíd had problems, but I didnít know about this. You must have felt terrified!

EW: Actually, I felt a strange sensual rush as the cuffs closed about my wrists. I felt the power that is implicit in being plunder. I felt free, for a moment, not to have a mind, not to think, not to have to struggle anymore. The sound of the cuffs clicking shut saved me from principles I couldnít bear to carry. I was happy for a moment, just to be a woman, again, without politics, only a body equally desired by the Left and Right. Happy, until he came.

JAVIER: Who came?

EW: The controller. One of them. The one I call Baldy, or the Bookworm. Take your pick. The lenses on his glasses were thick enough to skate on, they made his eyes seem huge. Strange to think - he must be almost blind, yet the feature that stands out most about him is his eyes. His eyes, and the black clothes he wore - just like a priest, but without the white collar, and without the Church.

JAVIER: Controller? How do you know?

EW: I know.

BALDY: (Has a laptop in its case slung over his shoulder. He comes up to the policeman who is about to take Consuelo away.) Excuse me, officer, you can release this woman.

POLICEMAN: What?

POLICEMAN 2: Look out, mister, please donít interfere, this woman has just committed an act of sabotage. Look at the bus. Itís a miracle no one was killed.

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: (His ID is still out, in his hands.) Yeah, thereís other pretty girls out there, even for nerds like you.

BALDY: (Takes out an ID of his own, and shows it to the policemen. He takes off his glasses for a moment, so as to match the photo. The policemen act stunned.) You can release her, now.

POLICEMAN: Yes, Sir, sorry!

POLICEMAN 2: Yes Sir, right away!

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: What the hell? Who are you? (To the policemen.) Who is he?

POLICEMAN 2: You donít have a need to know. Just stand back and shut up.

(The passengers are stunned.)

EW: (To the right-wing passenger.) I guess you can put away your ID, now.

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: Bitch!

EW: Watch out what you call me.

POLICEMAN 2: Yes, do we need to arrest you?

RIGHT-WING PASSENGER: No, no. Thank you very much, Iíll be fine. Viva la patria!

POLICEMEN AND BALDY: Viva la patria!

BUS DRIVER: My bus? (They look at him.) Viva la patria!

BALDY: (He leads Consuelo away from them. Then smiles.) No "viva!" from you?

EW: Viva los calvos! Long live baldies!

BALDY: (Laughs) Sorry about the bus. Weíre like children with a new toy, we may be overdoing it. (Consuelo regards him.) Youíre no opera star, but you could be an entertainer. Maybe after the testing, we can find some harmless cabaret for you. Differences of opinion neednít be lethal. Some would prove their loyalty to abstract principles by exterminating beauty, but I believe thatís an unnecessary ritual. Secrecy can make power fun. I have found that the crystal of perfect order grows around chaos - and you, my darling, are chaos.

EW: Could you please just come out and say whatever is not quite coming out? I want whatís between the lines.

BALDY: Nonsense. Iíve said quite enough. Your rebelliousness is sexy - and educational. (Tapping on his laptop case.) Weíll be in touch.

EW: You mean Iím free to go, just like that? To be crazy or subversive, or whatever the hell it is that I am?

BALDY: Yes: free to go, and free to be you. Please do try to be you. I so enjoy a woman who fights back! (He laughs, and taps his laptop case again.) Weíll be in touch.

EW: Your name?

BALDY: Why compete with you? The nicknames you give people are wonderful. I look forward to what youíll call me. (He leaves.)

JAVIER: And he left? Just like that? (EW nods.) And you didnít try to follow him?

EW: Are you crazy? I was too stunned. Too relieved and perplexed. I just waved down a taxi and went home.

(As this scene is dismantled, she sits down by Javier.)

JAVIER: (At a loss for what to say.) Well, Consuelo. This is a lot. But - but this all happened on the day you were fired. One big, crazy day. A lot of people lose it when something like this happens. (Concerned about her possible reaction.) Please donít think that Iím dismissing you. Iím just trying to eliminate any other possibilities. Maybe it was a nervous breakdown, mixed with paranoia. Iím not dismissing you, Consuelo.

EW: I know. Youíre trying to save me, by changing reality. St. George, run your lance through the dragon of the past. Make it so it never happened. I know, your disbelief is an act of mercy. What can I do but thank you?

JAVIER: Consuelo - this is all so bizarre.

EW: A week later I got my first disability check in the mail. Without even having to go to the Social Services Administration. Without having to sign any forms, or dredge up any documentation.

JAVIER: The Junta has practically ended social services.

EW: Not for me.

JAVIER: You didnít get assigned a job with the National Work Bureau?

EW: Someone else will have to rake up the leaves in the park. Someone else will have to clean the bathrooms at Victoria Station.

JAVIER: You just got a check?

EW: (Conjecturing.) Baldy. It had to be.

JAVIER: Bizarre. Very bizarre. So now they pay you for sitting on your ass?

EW: Oh no, for all the work I do for them. Iím a very busy puppet.

JAVIER: (Shaking his head.) Bizarre. Social services is practically non-existent. Very strange.

EW: Well, about three weeks after that, my aunt Ana invited me to a party. She knew I was having a hard time, and wanted to make me feel included, part of the mainstream, she wanted to rescue me from the fringe.

ANA: (Dressed elegantly, she comes over to them.) Con permiso. Consuelo, while you had your job with Fonseca Cement, I knew everything was going to be OK. Your nonconformity wouldnít get out of hand. Fonseca was like an anchor, that I knew would keep your soul, your mind from drifting away to the killing fields of your curiosity. You must understand, Consuelo, that I respect you. But you also make me afraid. Your eyes have something wild in them that needs discipline, structure. Or maybe you only need some friends with roots. There was always something charming and innocent about your frivolous noncompliance. But times have changed, the world has lost its sense of humor. The guns that fill the streets are only signs of its vulnerability. Come, be a part my world again. Now that your motherís goneÖ (Ana gives her a card, then goes away.)

EW: Mama. She never had a chance to fight for justice. Before the generals had time to rouse her to indignation, she was killed by the firing squad of cancer. (She shows Javier the card.)

JAVIER: The invitation.

EW: Wait till you hear what happened at the party. Remember, this is about a month after I was fired. Not just one big, crazy day. The evidence mounts; soon even you will be impressed. Let me prepare myself for your imagination. (She gets up and goes away, to change into her party dress. The interim, while she is changing, and the party scene is being set up, is filled with marching and maneuvers by a military squad.)

MILITARY SQUAD MARCHES, AND FOLLOWS ORDERS OF SQUAD LEADER.

SQUAD LEADER: Forward, march! Halt! About face! About face! Left face! Present arms! (He inspects soldiers.) At ease. Attention! Present arms! At ease. Attention! (Looks at one soldier.) Do I see a man who can kill? Or just a baby who will crap his pants when the moment of truth arrives? (Looks at another soldier.) Another boy, whoís never been under fire. Where do warriors come from? From these wannabes? (Looks at another soldier.) You were drafted. I can see it. Why do I have to be here? Let somebody else do the fighting for me! Poor baby. Forced to be a man. (Steps back to give them a speech.) Why are you here? (Touches oneís gun.) Why are these proud instruments of liberty in your hands? Because your homeland is threatened, you sons of bitches! By the New Tupamaros! By the guerrilla sons of bitches who want to turn your country into a Communist hellhole, to abolish the Church, abolish the Family, take away your money, your home, make you work for nothing, live in a world without hope! Bastards, who would rape your mother, and your grandmother! (Surveys them.) You think Iím kidding? What about that car bomb that went off the other day in the Plaza of the Eternal Victory? Filled with nails and shrapnel. Do you know how many people were maimed? How many children lost their mothers?

UNSEEN VOICE: It wasnít the guerrillas! You planted that bomb!

SQUAD LEADER: They havenít landed on your shores, muchachos, like invaders are supposed to do. Theyíre already inside your country, and they look just like you. Theyíre invading us from within, disguised as our brothers, and our sisters. Yes, because thereís also female Tupamaros. Guerrilla men, guerrilla women, even guerrilla children. Donít be confused, boys. Donít hesitate. They are the enemy. The internal enemy. You must be as ruthless with them as they will be with you. To hell with all their bullshit and propaganda, donít believe a word of it! Human rights? A trick to weigh you down with that extra split-second of reaction time that makes all the difference. This is war, and there is only one rule in war: Kill or be Killed! Who squeezes the trigger first? Whoever lets sentimental bullshit clutter his mind, dies. Itís that simple. Instinct is the soldierís God. - If you see one of those guerrilla bastards or bitches, donít contemplate, shoot straight and exterminate. Viva la patria!

SQUAD: Viva!

SQUAD LEADER: Death to the internal enemy!

SQUAD: Death to the internal enemy!

SQUAD LEADER: Your guns are not decorations. Use them to Kill. Use them for what?

SQUAD: To kill!

SQUAD LEADER: Your country is in danger. You are all that stands between dignity and slavery! Viva la patria!

SQUAD: Viva!

SQUAD LEADER: Right face! About-face! Forward, march! (The squad marches away, as the party-goers begin to enter the stage.) No mercy! Donít let down the patria!

JAVIER: (He wipes the sweat from his face with a handkerchief.) Jesus! I thought Colonel Barrios was bad!

EW: (Emerging in her party dress.) Colonel Barrios?

JAVIER: A character from my novel.

EW: Well - you get away from it by writing. I was supposed to get away from it by going to a party.

JAVIER: Yes, the party! (Remembering. Looking in the direction the soldiers left, then, as if to increase his distance from them) The party. What happened at the party?

EW: Well, I arrived just like Cinderella in a fairy-tale gown, quite the opposite of a radical sympathizer. It was actually my motherís dress.

JAVIER: How did you feel?

EW: Like a child playing grown-up. Miss Uruguay met me at the door.

JAVIER: Miss Uruguay?

EW: Yes, Karina Lopez. She made it all the way down to the final two hundred contestants in the Miss Universe pageant.

KARINA: (Near the door, as Consuelo enters the party.) And you are?

EW: Consuelo Aurelia Vazquez Arbelaez.

KARINA: Anaís niece?

EW: You know me?

KARINA: Why are you winking at me?

EW: Iím not.

KARINA: You are.

EW: Iím not.

ANA: Consuelo, dear! Welcome! (They hug.)

EW: Ana, you look beautiful!

ANA: You were raised not to tell lies, Consuelo! Look at you, you look absolutely gorgeous!

EW: No!

ANA: You look so much better in an evening gown than in a mini. Not to condemn your legs, theyíre enticing, itís just that elegance brings seductiveness to a whole new level.

KARINA: Does your niece like girls, Ana?

ANA: What?

KARINA: She keeps on winking at me.

EW: Iím not winking.

ANA: No, no, Karina. Itís the accident. Poor Consuelo has developed a nervous tick after the crash.

KARINA: Oh. What a pity. (Turning to Consuelo.) You know, I donít require other women to have defects.

EW: Whatís that supposed to mean?

KARINA: Jealousy is for the ordinary.

JAVIER: (Watching. Reacts to Karinaís attitude) Oooo.

EW: It seems you have no lack of confidence.

KARINA: Depending on the company.

JAVIER: Oooo! (Smacks his own face.)

EW: You better hope I donít stop twitching, Miss Washed-up Uruguay, or you might just have to try surviving without being the center of the worldís lust. For you, Iím sure that would be something terrible, like eating a lizard.

KARINA: Nas-ty!

ANA: Come on, Consuelo (leading her away.) Thereís no need to resist her ego. She makes enemies everywhere she goes, horny men are the only thing holding off her collapse. One day sheíll need a plastic surgeon; and she may even have to read a book.

EW: (To Javier) It didnít take long to remember why I hated parties. Bourgeois parties. Remember what you told me once about whales?

JAVIER: What? That they have blowholes?

EW: No, idiot, everyone knows that! I mean that they evolved from marine creatures which left the sea and began to live on the land?

JAVIER: Oh, yeah.

EW: And then they went back to live in the sea?

JAVIER: Right.

EW: Well, I think I know why they went back to live in the sea. But, I decided to stick this party out - for Anaís sake - in spite of its repugnance. Somewhere, Baldy or his buddy who you have yet to meet, were busy pushing my twitch buttons, but worse was yet to come. Anaís friend Lydia had recently lost her husband, and after a bit of wine, she suddenly broke down and started weeping.

LYDIA: Oh, poor Pedro! My poor poor Pedro! Iím so lonely now! (Other women have gathered around her and are trying to comfort her. Consuelo stands by with a big smile on her face.)

F GUEST 1: (Takes her hand) Iím sorry, Lydia. So sorry!

F GUEST 2: You had a good life. You were a wonderful wife. You made him very happy.

LYDIA: I should have been better! I should have loved him more!

ANA: (To others.) Take the wine away. (Someone takes Lydiaís wine glass off the table.) Lydia, darling, he must be happy in Heaven, now. You were very good to him.

LYDIA: Nobody knows. I was a fake. A good wife on the outside. I complained all the time. I emasculated him. Poor Pedro! I was the death of him! And the way he died - collapsing all alone on the train, surrounded by strangersÖ

F GUEST 1: He didnít feel any pain.

LYDIA: How do you know? He may have suffered terribly! He may have been in excruciating pain, or felt the most awful panic.

F GUEST 2: Lydia, Lydia.

LYDIA: See, even now Iím demeaning him! Saying he might have panicked. I should just assume he died bravely. Like the hero he always dreamt of being. But how can you die heroically from a heart attack!

F GUEST 1: Lydia!

LYDIA: I ruined him! I broke his spirit! I made him give up everything for me!

ANA: You gave him three beautiful sons.

LYDIA: One wouldnít speak to him. One spent all his money. And one disappeared, and was probably a Communist. (Ironically) What a good job!

F GUEST 1: Heís with God, now, and all His angels.

LYDIA: And who am I with?

F GUEST 2: With us.

ANA: Well, we donít exactly compareÖ

LYDIA: (Sobbing) You donít!

(Theyíre taken aback, but continue to comfort her and embrace her. Suddenly, looking up, she notices Consueloís smile.)

LYDIA: Are you smiling? - Are you smiling?

JAVIER: You were smiling?

EW: (Turns away from Lydia.) No, I feel your pain.

JAVIER: You were smiling?

EW: My face moved by itself, my lips, my muscles. A big smile froze onto my face. (Tearing at her face.) I tried to rearrange it, to look like I was supposed to.

ANA: (Comes around the other side to look at Consuelo, shakes her head in disapproval and whispers) Consuelo! Por favor!

LYDIA: Is she smiling? While Iím here crying my guts out and practically dying? Is there something funny about losing the man youíve lived with for forty years? (She gets up and tries to look at Consueloís face, but Consuelo keeps turning away from her.) Whatís wrong? Eh? Whatís wrong? Let me look at your face! Let me look at your face!

EW: (With her smile finally gone.) God damn it, Lydia, our country has lost justice, has lost dignity, has lost peace! Have you cried any tears for them?! (She stalks away.)

LYDIA: She was smiling, wasnít she? Wasnít she?!

ANA: Lydia, sheís very sick. Forget about it!

LYDIA: Whereís my wine?!

EW: Well, Javier, I smiled when I wasnít supposed to. But then, when it came time to laugh, I suddenly became all serious. My face became frozen in a deadpan expression that would not register another soulís cleverness. I think I looked like a samurai whoíd been insulted. Don Roberto, closing in on a century of life, was trying to be funny. Making jokes, proving he was still alive by getting a reaction from people.

DON ROBERTO: (He is surrounded by a group of sympathetic listeners, mainly women, who are overly receptive to his humor.) Well, it goes something like this. Thereís two gates which a man can use to get into Heaven. One has a big sign above it that says, "For men who were dominated by their wives." Thereís a huge line waiting to get in through this gate. The other gate has a sign above it that says "For men who wore the pants." Thereís just one little, meek-looking guy standing by this gate. So the angel comes up to him and says, "Hey, buddy, are you sure youíre in the right line?" And the guy tells him: "I donít know, my wife told me to stand here." (Everybody except Consuelo laughs.)

F GUEST 3: Oh, Don Roberto, youíre so clever!

F GUEST 4: Thatís a good one!

Male GUEST 1: Sad, but true, Don Roberto! Sad, but true!

F GUEST 3: (Playfully punches M GUEST 1 on the shoulder.) Just wait till we get home!

M GUEST 1: See? See what I mean?

DON ROBERTO: (Observing Consueloís cold and unimpressed look.) Whatís the matter sweetheart, it wasnít as good for you as it was for me?

EW: (Realizing he is talking to her.) Oh no, Don Roberto, that was a very good joke. Very funny.

DON ROBERTO: You look like someone had just thrown a bucket of ice water over you. I hope I didnít offend you.

EW: Oh no, of course not.

M GUEST 2: (Theatrically dramatic) Be careful, the serpent of feminism lurks in the grass of spontaneity, ever ready to lash out against millions of years of evolution and spoil the fun!

F GUEST 4: Youíre a feminist?

EW: I donít know. Iím against wife-beating and rape. I like to read books, and when I make empanadas, they always fall apart.

M GUEST 2: (Again, deliberately melodramatic) Sounds like a feminist to me! (They all laugh, except Consuelo.)

DON ROBERTO: Well, you must forgive me, chula, I come from another epoch. Very backward. - The good old days! (More laughter. He speaks to Consuelo) Carajo, you really are a tough audience. Well, maybe this will make a dent on that beautiful frown of yours. Once upon a time, an old man, not that Iíve ever met one, came upon a talking frog. "O please, kind Sir," the frog said to him, "kiss me!" "Kiss you?" the man asked. "My eyes are bad, but Iím not blind! You look almost as bad as me. Give me one good reason I should kiss you." "I was a beautiful princess," replied the frog. "That is, until an evil, jealous witch put a curse on me, and turned me into a frog. Kiss me, and I will return to my former state. It is the only thing that can break the curse. Oh, please, Sir, kiss me, and I swear to God, I will marry you and obey your every command! I will devote the rest of my life to making you happy. I will do anything you ask - anything!" Well, several days later, it turns out, the old man is still carrying the talking frog around in his pocket. When he tells his friend this story, the friend says, "What the hell, are you nuts? Why havenít you kissed the frog? Donít you want to have a beautiful princess?" And the old man answers, "Believe me, at my age Iíd rather have a talking frog!" (Everyone laughs, once again, except Consuelo.)

F GUEST 3: Oh no, Don Roberto!

F GUEST 4: Poor Don Roberto!

M GUEST 1: No comment. (F GUEST 3 punches him in the shoulder, again. More laughter.)

DON ROBERTO: (Looking at Consuelo.) Sweetheart, youíre absolutely ruthless! Iím an old man. Surely my lack of skill and luck in life entitles me to a little sympathy now. It doesnít cost you anything to laugh at my bad jokes, does it? Look, Iíll even pay you to laugh at my jokes. (He takes out some money from his wallet.)

EW: Oh no, Don Roberto, I think that was very funny.

DON ROBERTO: Whatís wrong, you only take dollars?

EW: No, seriously, I think your joke was very funny.

DON ROBERTO: Funny? You look like the Indian Geronimo when his village was burned down.

F GUEST 3: (Whispering to Consuelo.) Lighten up. Heís an old man.

F GUEST 4: (Also to Consuelo.) Donít be so stuck up.

EW: Iím not stuck up.

M GUEST 1: No political ideal is worth more than oneís sense of humor.

EW: Congratulations, you must be the proud owner of "Quotations for Idiots."

F GUEST 3: Excuse me? Youíre talking to my husband.

EW: Donít worry. You can have him.

F GUEST 4: What an attitude!

F GUEST 3: Why donít you just go somewhere else - like wherever it is you come from? (Also reaches for money.) Here, Iíll pay for the cab!

EW: You think I canít pay my own fare?

F GUEST 3: Just in case.

EW: Keep it, maybe next time you can afford a better hairdresser.

F GUEST 3: (Gasps in indignation.)

F GUEST 4: Atrevida!

ANA: (Who just arrives) Is everything all right?

F GUEST 3: This woman, here, is getting on everybodyís nerves.

M GUEST 1: She has the sense of humor of a stone. And the compassion to match.

F GUEST 4: Atrevida!

M GUEST 2: Cold-hearted feminist!

EW: What is it with you and feminists? Did your wife stop baking cookies?

M GUEST 2: Feminism, the dark cloud of nature self-destructingÖ The curse of equality gone mad! When justice hits below the belt! When Mankind becomes Personkind, the human race is doomed!

EW: You know, you can buy cookies in the store.

F GUEST 4: Atrevida!

F GUEST 3: This woman is impossible! Simply impossible!

ANA: This woman is my niece! (A big hush falls over the room.)

DON ROBERTO: Did you hear the one about the monkey?

ANA: Consuelo?

DON ROBERTO: Neither did I.

EW: Yes, Ana. I know.

F GUEST 3: Iím sorry, Ana. (Pointing to Consuelo) Sheís the one who - (gestures to her head, hitting it softly, and silently mouths "had the accident?" ANA nods discreetly.)

DON ROBERTO: What color are the bottom of an elephantís feet?

EW: Iím sorry, Ana. Let me go.

ANA: Donít leave, dear. Why donít you go get a drink of water?

DON ROBERTO: The color of the person who knows the answer. (Somebody tries to laugh.)

(Ana guides Consuelo away from this grouping, pointing her in another direction.)

ANA: Shall I come with you, dear?

EW: No, why donít you stay behind and try to mend fences? Sorry for not fitting in.

ANA: Donít you worry, querida. Youíre my niece, and that comes before everything else. (They hug.)

EW: (Who goes off stage.) Well, I went to the water cooler. They say nothing like a drink of cold water to calm you down.

JAVIER: And you didnít leave?

EW: The party? No. Do you think I should have? Remember, up till now, Iíd only tormented a grieving window and a lonely octogenarian. It could have been worse. I didnít want to disappoint Ana. I went to the bathroom, and studied my face in the mirror. I tested it. I grimaced, smiled, frowned, blinked my left eye, blinked my right eye, blew a kiss to myself. I thought about something sad and made myself cry. I thought about something funny and made myself laugh. All systems go. I seemed to have regained control.

JAVIER: But you hadnít?

EW: (Emerges, wearing a pearl necklace now, which she shows no signs of being aware of.) I hadnít. Impulse-control shut down the moment I walked into the "parlor." (She enters, where some women, including F Guests 1 and 2, and Karina are hanging out. Karina is talking with Male Guest 3. )

KARINA: The judge from Venezuela was actually very impressed by my poetry. He told me, "Truly beautiful women are rare, but truly beautiful minds are rarer still." (Consuelo comes up to her, and begins to stare at a ruby jewel Karina is wearing around her neck.) You do like women, donít you?

M GUEST 3: What is she doing?

KARINA: She appears to be staring at my cleavage.

M GUEST 3: That makes two of us.

KARINA: Oh, Enrique, youíre so bold! (To Consuelo) Look, do you mind? I have nothing against lesbians, except that I donít like them. Youíre getting in the way.

M GUEST 3: (To Consuelo) I know theyíre beautiful, but donít you think a womanís breasts are better meant for a manís eyes?

KARINA: (About Enrique) So bold!

EW: Iím not looking at your breasts. Iím looking in your ruby.

M GUEST 3: Each sees treasure in his own way.

KARINA: "In" your ruby? I think you used the wrong noun. You should have said "Iím looking at your ruby."

EW: "In" is a preposition, not a noun. And Iím not looking "at" your ruby, Iím looking "in" your ruby.

KARINA: (Condescending) Oh? And what do you see - "in" my ruby?

EW: I see a poor person. Trapped. Pounding on the glowing red walls of your vanity. Trying to get out. Trying to be free. But your need to seduce the world wonít let him out. The armaments of being loved are destroying the world! I see the doors of your ruby-prison locked tightly shut. No one escapes from the Alcatraz of your need to be coveted! I see the world drowning in your ruby, Karina, I see the birth of Hell!

KARINA: (Furious and astounded. Withdraws from her.) You - youíre one to talk - with that pearl necklace around your throat! (Consuelo looks down at the necklace. Just then, a woman enters, very upset, with Ana.)

M GUEST 3: Yes, youíre one to talk! Hypocrite! Donít we all crave the high ground we canít live on?

F GUEST 3: My pearl necklace?!!! Has anyone seen my pearl necklace?!!!! (EW looks at her, then back at the necklace, she is wearing, then begins to laugh. The woman comes over. The woman looks at Ana, at Consuelo, at the necklace, at Consuelo, then back at Ana.) Ana, this is my necklace!

EW: (Laughs) Take it.

ANA: Consuelo?!

EW: Baldy. (Laughs.) What a guy! So this must be what sleepwalking is like.

ANA: Consuelo?

EW: Here. (Removes the necklace.) Take it. The test was a success. Thank you for your cooperation. Perhaps you should consider investing in a bodyguard.

F GUEST 3: I donít understand. How did you get it off my neck without me noticing?

EW: What can I say? Baldy has talent.

ANA: Consuelo, are you all right?

EW: Yes, tia. I think itís time for another drink of water. (To Javier) Well, as you can see, my bourgeois shelter was beginning to become unglued. (She walks through the house. A young man, just in the process of putting on a ski mask, is enthusiastically boasting to a girl.)

SKI MAN: So, Nena, without this mask, your face would be burned by the wind, youíre going so fast.

PARTY GIRL: Wow, Gabo!

SKI MAN: The ice is like a malfunction, a malfunction of your own body, you canít think with your brain, your knees have to think for you. (Heís imitating downhill skiing, bending, turning, twisting.) Itís like you canít get a grip, youíve got to fly! Fly or die!

PARTY GIRL: Wow, Gabo, what an experience! You survived the Alps!

EW: (Walking on past them.) The secret of the bourgeois imagination is the lack of a real life. Endless adventures carved out of the boredom that others build for you with their blood. (She passes by a guy fondling a girl. They are surprised by her.) Sorry! No, Iím not interested in a threesome. (She walks on.) And people are killed to preserve this. (Passes by an old woman talking to a child.)

OLD WOMAN: No, you canít drink that purple stuff in the glass. Itís not grape juice.

EW: No one, here, says "donít drink dictatorship." Is it better or worse, I wonder, that little islands of morality persist within the big sin? Is there hope in that, or do small virtues only defuse the impetus to be truly good? - Slowly, I found myself making my way towards the door. But the thought of asking the porter for my coat restrained me, it made it impossible to just slip away; and so I turned into an empty room, I sought the solace of a window I could open, a breath of fresh air to clear my lungs of a world I could not breathe.

ALARM: (Lights intensify, and an alarm goes off, and then, a mechanized voice calling out throughout the house.) Alert! Alert! The perimeter has been breached! The perimeter has been breached! Intruder in the house! Intruder in the house!

EW: God damn it, the windowís connected to an alarm! (Struggles with it) How the hell do you turn this crap off???

ALARM: The perimeter has been breached! An intruder is in the house! (Alarm continues to sound.)

(People from the party begin to appear from all corners, in confusion, and fear)

F GUEST 1: Whatís happening?

F GUEST 2: Whatís going on?

(The boy with the ski mask is looking around. Lydia sees him and shrieks.)

LYDIA: The guerrillas! The guerrillas!

SKI MAN: (To his girlfriend.) It must be a fire, come on, letís get out! (They leave.)

LYDIA: (Meeting up with other partygoers) The guerrillas! Theyíve broken into the house!

F GUEST 1: Jesus, theyíre going to kidnap us!

F GUEST 3: (Takes off her pearl necklace, and hides it inside her dress)

KARINA: (Appearing) Whatís the matter?

F GUEST 1: The guerrillas!

KARINA: Hijo de puta! (Takes off her ruby and hides it)

M GUEST 3: Are there any weapons in the house?

ALL: (Seeing Ana arrive) Ana!!!!!!!!!!

ANA: Whatís happening?!

SEVERAL: The guerrillas! The guerrillas!

ANA: Guerrillas?

SEVERAL: Guerrillas!

M GUEST 3: Do you have a weapon here, Ana?

LYDIA: I saw them, Ana!

ANA: The panic room. Quick! To the panic room! (They all begin to stampede towards the panic room - a part of the stage into which they will all pile. Its confines will be suggested, mime-like, by the behavior of the actors.)

SEVERAL: The guerrillas! The guerrillas! (One of the elegant ladies falls down, and people run over her.)

DON ROBERTO: Wait for me! Oh, my heart! Iím too old to be kidnapped. I canít even walk around the block.

EW: (Still trying to turn off alarm.) And all I wanted was a breath of fresh air!

JAVIER: You couldnít turn off the alarm?

EW: I tried, Javier, I tried! But I couldnít figure it out. And then, suddenly, a most malicious impulse overcame me. I decided if you canít beat them, join them!

JAVIER: What?

EW: (Yells) Guerrillas! The guerrillas! (She rushes towards the panic room, whose "door" has now been closed.) Hey, let me in! Tia, let me in before the guerrillas get me!

ANA: Hey, thatís my niece, let her in!

M GUEST 1: We canít let her in, now. The guerrillas might be just outside!

EW: Did I need to make a reservation?

ANA: Let her in, god damn it, sheís my niece!

KARINA: Girl, are you alone?

ANA: (Pushes her way through the crowd, packed tightly in the panic room) Cowards! Get out of my way! Thatís my niece! (She opens the door for Consuelo, who struggles in. The door is closed behind her.) Chula, youíre safe! (They hug.)

EW: I love you, tia. Donít worry, everything is going to be OK. Iím sure of it.

LYDIA: Ana, what happens if we use all the air up?

ANA: We wonít, thereís a vent with a filter.

LYDIA: What happens if they set fire to the house?

ANA: Thereís automatic sprinklers. Look, the alarm is connected to the police station. Help is on the way.

M GUEST 3: Can the door withstand dynamite?

DON ROBERTO: Whatís the one good thing about Alzheimerís?

F GUEST 3: (Astounded that he is doing this now.) What?

DON ROBERTO: I forgot.

SEVERAL: Shut up! Shut the hell up you stupid fogie! Go to hell! Old fart! You canít die soon enough!

(Someone passes wind loudly. Everyone is stunned.)

EW: (Singing) Huele a peligro! El solo hecho de acercarte a conversarte

ANA: Consuelo!

KARINA: Ai, Dios mio, whoís the stinker?

LYDIA: Please, our air supply!

F GUEST 3: Is it you, Don Roberto?

DON ROBERTO: Not me, I donít have the strength to fart like that.

(Someone passes wind again)

F GUEST 4: Itís you, Karina!

KARINA: No itís not!

F GUEST 4: Iím standing right next to you - Jesus - oh god!

EW: And Miss Passing Gas is -

M GUEST 2: (Gagging) Oh - I think Iím going to vomit.

F GUEST 3: Donít you dare. (He does.) No! No! You bastard! All over my beautiful dress! Oh, gross, Iím going to faint.

ANA: Donít let her fall!

KARINA: Ewww! (Lets her fall, and struggles out of her way, then explains) She was covered with puke!

ANA: (Bends down to the fallen woman) Socia, are you all right?

DON ROBERTO: I think I left my medicine outside - will someone go and get it for me?

EW: (Concerned) Medicine for what? Your heart?

DON ROBERTO: My hemorrhoids.

M GUEST 3: (Cynically) Sure, Iíd love to fight my way through the guerrillas for your Preparation H. I canít think of a better way to die. Why donít you just sit on one of your jokes?

LYDIA: (Shrieks. They all look at her.)

ANA: Whatís wrong? Whatís wrong, Lydia!

LYDIA: Iím sorry. I held on as long as I could. Iím claustrophobic! Iíve got to get out!

M GUEST 3: Where to, viejita??

ANA: Just sit tight, Lydia. (Lydia begins clutching and thrashing, and screaming, trying to get out of the room) Stop! Calm down! You have to wait! The police will be here any minute!

KARINA: You stupid bitch, you scratched my face!

SEVERAL: Get off me lady! Lydia, calm down! Stop! Sheíll be the death of us all!

M GUEST 3: Let her out, she can get Don Robertoís Preparation H!

ANA: (Tackling her) Sheís not leaving! Help me hold her down, you cowards!

KARINA: (Looking in hand mirror) My face. Iíve been scratched!

(Consuelo walks out of this scene, and sits down by Javier.)

JAVIER: Consuelo - what a catastrophe!

EW: Apocalypse with a small "a." Baldy and I collaborated to produce a real masterpiece that night. A meltdown of little consequence, but real flair.

JAVIER: For whose benefit?

EW: For his and mine. He destroyed the refuge that could have made me useless to him. While I got a measure of revenge against the society which would only take me on my knees.

JAVIER: And - how did you feel after it was all over?

EW: Sorry for the embarrassment I had caused to Ana: a good woman, whose existence will never quite let me see the world in black and white. But, more than that, relief. When all is said and done, I was glad to be incapable of fitting into that artificial, self-centered world. Glad to have that escape route from the police state closed, glad to be thrown back into the cold waters of the world everyone else has to live in, to be forced to struggle for justice, because I couldnít live in the world made by injustice; glad to be left out in the rain with my soul.

JAVIER: But, in the long run -

EW: My spirit was a curse. I ran towards principles I was wired to destroy. (She gets up, and begins to go off stage, to change.) Turcio had been calling me for weeks. Iíd been putting him off.

JAVIER: Turcio, the revolutionary?

EW: I told him no, Iím sick. That made him want to see me more. I told him Iíve been turned into a weapon of the Right. He thought I was crazy, which for him was just another form of the poverty he had pledged to fight - a psychological slum between my ears which he refused to give up on. I remember that Jacques Brel song: "When love is all there is to clothe, in the morning, poor people and ruffians with velvet coatsÖ" The more I tried to avoid him, the more he insisted that I see him. The strength to fight the dictator was in his voice, he believed in me the same way that he believed in the future of our country. When a man like that, with the whole world in his eyes, roars like a lion for your little life, you forget common sense, you believe him helplessly. I let him convince me to destroy himÖ

(While Consuelo is changing, a band of mothers with placards bearing images of the faces of young men and women comes onto the stage.)

MOTHERS: Where are our sons? Where are our daughters? Where are the missing ones? Disappeared from our streets, but not our hearts! No gun is stronger than a motherís love! There is no freedom without memory! You cannot erase the past without killing each and everyone of us!

Where are our sons? Where are our daughters? Where are the missing ones? Disappeared from our streets, but not our hearts! No gun is stronger than a motherís love! There is no freedom without memory! You cannot erase the past without killing each and everyone of us!

(As they say this again, a group of soldiers comes by, aggressively, gathering on the edges of this demonstration.) Where are our sons? Where are our daughters? Where are the missing ones? Disappeared from our streets, but not our hearts! No gun is stronger than a motherís love! There is no freedom without memory! You cannot erase the past without killing each and everyone of us!

MILITARY CAPTAIN: Sen~oras! This gathering is in violation of public ordinance #4 of the Emergency Security Act. You are hereby commanded to disperse.

MOTHERS: Where are our sons? Where are our daughters? Where are the missing ones? Disappeared from our streets, but not our hearts! No gun is stronger than a motherís love! There is no freedom without memory! You cannot erase the past without killing each and everyone of us!

MILITARY CAPTAIN: Sen~oras! Motherhood is very sacred to us, itís one of the values we cherish most, in fact weíre committed to die in its defense. Please donít make us have to use force. Donít be unreasonable. We donít want to hurt any of you, just go home!

MOTHER 1: Whereís Joselito? (Brandishing her placard.) What have you done with him?!

MOTHER 2: Whereís Joaquin?

MOTHER 3: Whereís Liliana?

MOTHER 4: Whereís Ignacio?

MOTHER 1: If motherhood is sacred to you, tell us where they are?!

MILITARY CAPTAIN: Sen~oras, I donít know.

MOTHER 1: He was dragged out of his apartment in the middle of the night. Neighbors saw the police.

MILITARY CAPTAIN: Sen~ora, I donít know.

MOTHER 3: Liliana was a sociology student at the National University. She was on the Deanís List. She never showed up for her final exams. In her notebook, somebody wrote "Revolution is cool until you die." She was only a student! She went to Church! I donít know what the government thinks, but she was a good girl!

MILITARY CAPTAIN: Mam, Iím not a detective, Iím just a solider assigned to keep the public order.

MOTHER 4: Ignacio was on the engineering faculty at the National University. I was so proud of him. What did he do wrong? He signed a petition urging the government not to cut the teachersí health insurance.

MILITARY CAPTAIN: Sen~ora, there are channels for dealing with these kinds of grievances: the National Police Archives, the Internal Security Investigation Bureau, the Bureau of City Crimes and Punishment. Look, I have my orders to follow.

MOTHER 1: Orders, orders! From who? The great god in the sky, General Aleman, who just stepped down from Mt. Sinai? Where does God stand in your chain of command? Is he a general, or a private?

MILITARY CAPTAIN: My orders are to maintain "the streets unimpeded and fully dedicated to their intended use, and to prevent gatherings and disturbances deemed actually or potentially detrimental to the rule of law and public safety."

MOTHER 2: If you are able to remember all that crap, how do you think I could forget my son, and all the joy he used to bring into my life?

MILITARY CAPTAIN: Mam-

MOTHERS: Where are our sons? Where are our daughters? Where are the missing ones? Disappeared from our streets, but not our hearts! No gun is stronger than a motherís love! There is no freedom without memory! You cannot erase the past without killing each and everyone of us!

(MILITARY CAPTAIN takes out a cell phone, and begins to call to his base, as the mothers continue chanting and marching off stage. His unit shadows them, as he continues to talk on his phone.)

Where are our sons? Where are our daughters? Where are the missing ones? Disappeared from our streets, but not our hearts! No gun is stronger than a motherís love! There is no freedom without memory! You cannot erase the past without killing each and everyone of us!

Where are our sons? Where are our daughters? Where are the missing ones? Disappeared from our streets, but not our hearts! No gun is stronger than a motherís love! There is no freedom without memory! You cannot erase the past without killing each and everyone of us!

(EW returns from off stage.)

EW: My mother would have defended me like that. But she was gone. Too young. Too soon. That left Turcio. After that idiot, Pablo, left me.

JAVIER: He just left you, like that? I hadnít wanted to ask, but now that you bring it upÖ

EW: (She nods.) After the accident. He was already flirting with some other girl, and it didnít have anything to do with my new life as a puppet. Apparently, he took one look at my face before the plastic surgery, and left never to be seen again. Can you believe all the half-ass things we take for love before lifeís hard blows bring us to our senses?

JAVIER: Shake the tree, and all the fake love falls out.

EW: False love, like a broken blossom, smells so sweetly through the pain. Because you know youíre going to be free of something you never had.

JAVIER: And so, that left Turcio. You were - lovers?

EW: No, we were something more. Friends. He was faithful to Pilar; faithful, faithful, faithful to everything, except his own life, which he treated with contempt. I respected his love for Pilar. She won me over by having no fear of me, which made it impossible for me to betray her.

JAVIER: So he called you? He wouldnít let you stay away?

EW: He insisted. I was as helpless as Daphne, pursued by Apollo. I should have turned myself into a tree - but I didnít know how to.

(She goes to meet Turcio. He opens up a "door", which may be done through mime.)

TURCIO: Finally, Consuelo. The martyr yieldsÖ (They hug.)

EW: Turcio! (They step back, look at each other, then hug again.) I thought you were the martyr.

TURCIO: Not until Iím caught.

EW: So how, then, do I get to be the martyr? Driving a car through an intersection isnít exactly the same as leading a revolution.

TURCIO: (Looks around) Letís go inside. (Closes the door.) Here (pointing to a table, where there is a chess board sitting) - have a seat. Well - "martyr" because youíve chosen to suffer in solitude. To throw away the most powerful resource for survival which God has given to Man.

EW: Which is - ?

TURCIO: A friend.

EW: You know I havenít thrown you away, Turcio. My soul has been aching to see you. Itís just that -

TURCIO: Donít lend your imagination to your inhibitions. Donít. Enough about this machine in your head. I need you, Consuelo, to avoid succumbing to abstraction. I need a face to give to "the people" - and Iíve chosen you. If the depth of the attraction that one soul is capable of feeling for another frightens you, please accept that explanation. I need your immediacy to heal the impersonal nature of a dream that is too enormous for me to truly comprehend. The millions I am fighting for, and may one day die for, are beyond the reach of my heart. I can only know them through a few people - and you are one of those people, Consuelo Aurelia. You awaken, in me, the capacity to sacrifice.

EW: Please donít say that. If anything happensÖ

TURCIO: Iíll die contented, because Iím traveling on the road of my destiny.

(Pilar appears from the shadows)

EW: Pilar! (The two approach and embrace) Pilar - itís been so long! (They look at each other, holding hands.)

PILAR: Compan~era, Iíll bring some tea.

EW: You donít have to.

TURCIO: Of course she does. Sheís Pilar. (Pilar goes. He motions for Consuelo to come back and sit down.)

EW: (Looking at the chess board.) Well - if weíre going to have tea, weíll have to move the board. (She starts to.)

TURCIO: Wait! (She regards him.) See if you can find the mate. Five moves. White to play. (She looks. She picks up a piece, puts it down, looks again, moves her hand towards another piece, stops. He laughs, and moves a piece.)

EW: What? But the king will take your queen. (She looks up) Youíve just blundered away your queen.

TURCIO: Take it. (She does. He moves again. She looks up surprised.)

EW: Now youíre going to lose your bishop! Well, I know you have a beef with organized religion, but still - What are you doing, trying to see how fast you can lose?

TURCIO: Take it. (She does. He moves immediately thereafter.)

EW: (She looks for a moment. Then she sees it.) Hijo de puta!

TURCIO: Beautiful, no?

EW: Yes, Turcio. Itís like coming into a garden, and seeing wide-open flowers that werenít there yesterday.

TURCIO: If only war were so beautiful. What a curse, to be endowed with such a perverse talent, to be an artist of killing; for violence to be oneís art!

EW: Itís easy to put pieces back into a box.

TURCIO: Hard to put soldiers into a coffin.

EW: So the chessboard is driving you to pacifism?

TURCIO: (His eyes harden.) No. Not in a country like this. I repel the chessboardís plea for peace, Iíll only accept the lessons I can shoot from a gun. (Softly) For the peopleÖ

EW: And those lessons are?

TURCIO: First, and above all else: that victory is the gift of the fallen.

EW: The queen and the bishop did not die in vain. Their sacrifice made victory possible.

TURCIO: And thereís more. Black dismantled his own position by winning.

EW: By taking the queen and the bishop, he created a gap in his defenses. An openingÖ All the time he thought he was winning, his triumphs were actually destroying him.

TURCIO: The more the ruling class succeeds in imposing its oppressive regime over the people, the more intolerable its rule will become, until it finally destabilizes itself, and capsizes beneath the weight of Humanityís eternal longing for justice. More than bullets, more than grenades or bombs, or any weapon we can buy, this is what we count on, Consuelo. A shining in the human soul, that wonít accept slavery. Itís never failed us. All through the long tormented history of the earth, itís whatís toppled kings, and redeemed the servile. Somehow, we overcome our fear. We snap out of our lethargy, awaken from the sleep of the deceived, cease to be accomplices in our own degradation. In the name of the light, we finally dare to open the dark door that leads into the terrible room of fury, where the free man must go whenever the world seeks to force him to his knees. (Pilar appears with the tea. Consuelo moves the board away, while Turcio puts some of the pieces into a box. Pilar sets down the tea.)

EW: Pilar, you wonít have tea with us?

PILAR: I have to type something, Consuelo. Compan~ero Turcioís endless flow of words requires a matching set of hands. (She displays her hands.) But thanks. (She goes.)

TURCIO: (After a while.) Itís a burden, Consuelo.

EW: What is?

TURCIO: This work. Youíve seen the pictures of coal miners coming up from the insides of the earth. To get the coal, they must become as black as coal. I wish there was an immaculate path to liberty. But thereís no way to bring ideals into a dirty world, without being polluted by the means. The unsoiled are cowards, Consuelo, hiding behind the sins of men like me, waiting to receive the new day from the blood on our hands, from our ruined souls. Itís not easy to bear the cross of fighting back. You sign up to be an angel, and end up being just another killer. Every battle won has the bad taste of someone elseís funeral. If you have ability, you make the throat of the world roar out wedding vows to the utopia you have already seen through. Iím doing the best, I can, Consuelo. Iím lonely.

EW: (She holds his hand.) Youíre a beautiful man, Turcio. I understand. I understand.

TURCIO: (Laughs.) And look at me! Egotistic. Another essential attribute of the hero!

EW: Egotistic?

TURCIO: I asked you here because of you, and now, here I am building a statue to myself in the middle of your city of pain. Well - may the pigeons shit on it!

EW: No, Turcio, itís OK. Donít do that to yourself. Iím OK.

TURCIO: About this machine in your head?

EW: (To Javier) Well, of course, Turcio didnít believe it. And, of course, he was very convincing. The technology was too complex, he insisted. Anything and everything I could say to prove that this wasnít just a figment of my imagination, he picked apart with that brilliant chess-move mind of his.

TURCIO: You havenít noticed any interference when youíre around appliances, like the TV, or the radio, or when youíre speaking on your cell phone?

You havenít noticed any changes in the way you are controlled when youíre inside, as opposed to when youíre outside?

Of what value would such an invention be, even if it were possible? Do you believe the government has the resources and the capability to implant these devices on a massive scale, and then to monitor hundreds of thousands of its citizens, to filter through such a vast array of information, and then to act upon it?

If this technology exists, it is something utterly new. What is the preexisting technology is it built upon? And how has this technology found its way down here? We are hardly the front-runner in terms of international scientific advances. Nor are we the number one counterinsurgency priority of the gringos.

EW: Javier, he made sense. His charisma, his compassionís will to set me free, even at the price of deconstructing the truth - for those few hours he took me over just as surely as the device! In the same way the device made me twitch, he made me renounce my knowledge, he made me divorce weeks and months of my own experience. Like the scientist who makes the spiritual visionary believe he has had a hallucination, and steals God and angels from the world, so Turcio turned the implant into a myth; he relaxed me, and steadied the aim of those who wished to kill him. In that moment when I stopped believing I was a gun, I became the perfect gun. (To Turcio) You know, this house looks a little exposed to me, Turcio, suppose the army should drive up. What would you do?

TURCIO: Come with me, my little worrier. You have enough troubles of your own, to lose sleep over me. Look. (He points to the floor.) Down the rabbit hole!

EW: A revolutionary "panic room"?

TURCIO: You could say that, though I hope Iím past the point of feeling panic. Now, battle - itís just a kind of strange relocation - like I was ripped out of one world and put into another. Gunshots are the signal for the universe to change. Suddenly, Iím in new scenery. Time slows down. I feel a rush. Itís like a chess puzzle, where Iím moving me, and my gun is moving them. Can I figure this one out?

EW: But - what if they find your hide-out?

TURCIO: It will only double their frustration. (Explains.) It accesses a secret passage. Into the sewer system. From there, thereís a whole net of safe housesÖ

EW: Wow, youíre really prepared.

TURCIO: Foresight is not as much of a thrill as improvisation, but itís more responsible. And, in the end, itís not right to play around with the future of the people, just to exercise the warrior in you.

EW: (To Javier) And there you have it. Point blank - right between the eyes!

JAVIER: He gave himself away.

EW: Iím sure of it. They were watching, through my adoring, poison eyes! (Upset.) What a beautiful man!

JAVIER: Iím envious. (Looks at his hands.) Iím nothing. These hands that have never pulled a trigger, only spent their days writing, helping no oneÖ

EW: What a beautiful man! Practical, Quixotic; simplistic, complex; righteous, tormented! Struggling with the world, struggling with himself.

JAVIER: Iím sorry. Consuelo, you mustnít blame yourself!

EW:  Finally, it was time to go. (Itís time to part, Turcio escorts her to the door, then looks outside) When he saw that it was raining, he insisted on taking me to the bus stop. I told him he shouldnít, he put on sunglasses and said

TURCIO: If they work for movie stars, they should work for meÖ

EW: Always joking, his sense of humor should have made him immortal. We stepped outside. I remember the whoosh, the opening sound of that great umbrella, like the wings of birds unfolding as they shift from stillness to flight. I remember those last moments with him, underneath the umbrella as the rain poured all around us, and beat down on top of it. Just before we said good-bye, I noticed how his pants and the left-side of his coat were all wet, because heíd given me more of the umbrella, exposed himself to shelter me. We both wouldnít fit under it, and so, he let the rain take him. (Breaking down) Javier, he was a beautiful man! (She leaves the scene, and Javier gets up to meet her, they embrace, and he tries to comfort her as she cries.) Two weeks later, his house was raided. He and Pilar disappeared. (Weeping) I hope they died together. - How is it that people like me live?

JAVIER: And me? Worthless beast! Damn my novels! Iíve spent my whole life hanging the man I could have been with the rope of fantasy. "You are hereby sentenced, by the court of your imagination, to hang until dead!" Beast!

EW: I killed him, Javier! My eyes killed him!

JAVIER: No, Consuelo. They killed him, not you. Shhh!

EW: I killed him!

JAVIER: Shhh! Them, not you. Hush, Consuelo. The blame lies not with the puppet, but with the hands that hold the strings.

EW: The blame lies with the puppet who does not cut the strings.

JAVIER: Shhh! Hush, Consuelo. Hush.

EW: (In a harsh voice.) Turcio Hernandez. Eliminated! In the wake of his disappearance, radical circles in the capital are thrown into a state of disarray. Like a beehive knocked down to the ground. The bees buzz and swarm about, their stingers are brandished without common sense, their productive powers forget their limitations, overstep the bounds of nature; they make mistakes, they are desperate to rebuild in a moment what took years to build. There are emergency meetings, plans, calls to action, no one is willing to sit tight, to lay low, that could be misinterpreted as "losing", better to thrash around, let the people know you are still there, even at the price of making things easy for the army. In the midst of the fatal overreaction, I play a major role. The puppet who is sent to track down Turcioís successors.

(Soundtrack begins, sometimes fading and sometimes rising: one to two guitarists, Spanish-style, with a repetitive insistent bass line insinuating the steady purpose of Consueloís forays into the world of the radical left, while higher notes built above it add feeling, and flesh out the sound. Consuelo talks over the soundtrack, as she walks about the city. In the background, now, emerge, Baldy, and another controller dressed in black, a tall Aryan-looking man "Master Race", as well as several special police operatives. The two controllers have laptops, open on a table, and communications headsets over their heads.)

EW: The cream of a generation. Pale shadows of Turcio, or his beautiful sons? Dreamers. Dreamers of dreams that were not refuges, but tomorrows, for you and me.

BALDY: Avenida 18 de Julio. 1515. #3. Wait. Let me get a look at the interior.

EW: My eyes.

BALDY: Narrow steps. Four rooms. Thereís five men. Two women. (Police trot out and begin to assume positions around the apartment.)

MR: Send her to the window.

BALDY: I need a pretext.

MR: The bathroom.

EW: These ones I killed with my bladder. I peeked in the fourth room on my way to the bathroom.

MR: Alpha Team can go up a fire-escape. No, thereís no lookout there. Theyíre sitting ducks.

BALDY: I want her out before you launch the strike.

MR: Keep her in the bathroom. I want them now.

(As Consuelo walks away, the police burst in - we never see the guests - and there is gunfire, and screams.)

EW: Next. A clandestine meeting with contacts from the secret workersí councils.

BALDY: 97 Calle Libertad. Itís a townhouse. Looks like all three floors are part of the same operation. (Police move into position) Thereís a bunch of them. Two armed guards at the front door. Thatís it.

MR: Iím ready to move in, before easy becomes hard. If you want your girl, get her out now.

EW: I need to go out back, and take a smoke.

AN UNSEEN VOICE: You smoke?

EW: Why, donít I look like the type? Well, sometimes thereís nothing more healthy than unhealthy habits. (She leaves. Police enter and start shooting up the place.) Finally, I catch on. Theyíre messing with my sense of cause and effect. Iím like a mentally handicapped kid who keeps putting his hand on a hot stove, who canít seem to learn the lesson that thatís something you shouldnít do. Except that every time I do it, itís someone elseís hand thatís getting burned. I try to resist.

AN UNSEEN VOICE: Weíd really like you to come to the meeting, compan~era.

EW: No.

UNSEEN VOICE: Please, itís no time to withdraw from the struggle.

EW: Heís right. He wants me to come. I donít want to disappoint him. Wait - am I forgetting something? My memory. Everythingís so foggy.

BALDY: Go to the meeting. Go to the meeting.

EW: Something isnít right.

BALDY: Go to the meeting. Go to the meeting.

EW: No, this canít be a coincidence. People are dying, everywhere I go. I go, and they die. Turcio was wrong, this is real! Iím not crazy. Turcio was wrong.

MR: Give her the juice.

BALDY: No, thatís not how I do it.

MR: I donít care how you do it, I want this hit! Time is running out.

BALDY: I donít think itís a good idea to engage her willpower so directly.

(MR Gets up angrily, and pushes keys on Baldyís laptop. Consuelo begins to clutch her head, and scream.)

JAVIER: What are they doing?

EW: Taking things to the next level. Electroshocks. Torture from within. (Continues to scream.)

JAVIER: Monsters!

BALDY: Less voltage! Youíre going to kill her!

MR: I need this hit!

BALDY: Sheís much more important than a room full of disorganized revolutionaries!

MR: Go to the meeting. Go to the meeting. (Shoves Baldy away.) Go to the meeting. Go to the meeting.

EW: (Screaming) OK! OK! Whatever you say! Hijo de puta! Stop, youíre killing me! Please! Have pity. (Cries.) Iíll do whatever you say. (She gets up but staggers around in different directions, crying.)

BALDY: Idiot, sheís completely disoriented.

MR: Guide her in manually.

BALDY: Youíre not my superior.

MR: Iím in charge of the police strike. So at this moment, you just better help me out, or this will be going all the way to the top.

BALDY: Which isnít so very far, is it?

MR: When the Gods quarrelÖ

EW: Iím going Javier. (Walking to the site.) Iíve learned something terrible about myself. That I can be broken. That Iím weak enough to let them kill others to stop the pain. I feel like Iíve been raped. That Iíve lost everything worthwhile, that from now on, forever, Iíll be hollow. Consuelo has been killed, what you see now is an insult to who she once was.

JAVIER: No, Consuelo, the pollution is theirs! (Almost cries.) The pollution is theirs!

EW: (Crying) Consuelo is dead! Consuelo is dead!

MR: Are you crazy, you canít let her go in that way!

BALDY: You practically blow her head off, and you expect her to make a serene entry?

MR: Shut down her tear ducts. Freeze her face. God damn it, have her redo her make-up!

BALDY: Her hand is shaking. Forget it, sheís a mess.

MR: (As his police get in position to attack.) Think of something!

(Consuelo half rips off her blouse, and messes her hair up more. Rings the doorbell a couple times.)

UNSEEN VOICE: Consuelo - what the hell happened to you?

EW: I was mugged. I was - I was - (cries.)

UNSEEN VOICE: (Believing she means she was raped.) No! Hey, come quick, everybody, Consueloís hurt!

MR: Perfect! All the idiots are distracted. Front and back doors - attack!

BALDY: Donít eliminate my asset!

MR: Donít hit the bitch!

(EW walks away, the troops attack, and the music continues.)

EW: Theyíve turned me into a vampire, now. Soulless, half-conscious, I belong to the living dead. I do not joyously consume superfluous products, I am consumed by angst; and yet, I am one with them, marching in step with the brainwashed nation, side by side with those who have no conscience, who never dared, who never tried. I was broken, but at least I tried. But itís all the same now. Iím a part of the mass that does not want to be freed. The injustice swirls all around me. My NO comes out as YES.

BALDY: 1800 Canelones. (Troops rush in to kill.)

EW: What a soldier Iíve become! General Alemanís top killer. I should get a medal for all the patriots Iíve killed.

BALDY: 71 Piedra Alta. (Troops strike.)

EW: (Moving robotically.) Iím trying not to go. But they just keep putting one leg in front of the other. They freeze my back, so I canít bend down and get off my feet. I try to grab onto a street post, but they open my hand up, I lose my grip. After a while, Iím so worn out, I begin to walk normally.

BALDY: 228 Paysandu.

EW: Of course, they freeze my vocal chords when I try to warn my hosts. It isnít easy to redeem yourself once youíve fallen. (EW leaves, as Troops strike.)

BALDY: 57 Jose Enrique Rodo. Wait, thereís nobody there. Just a note. To go to the school.

MR: Iíll reposition my men!

EW: For a moment, thereís a ray of hope. The guerrillas finally suspect me. They intercept me on the street.

GUERRILLA 1: Good evening, bitch, weíve finally got you figured out. (Another guerrilla comes up behind her, also armed.)

GUERRILLA 2: Yeah, bitch. Turcioís poison heartthrob.

EW: Please. Kill me right now. You donít have as much time as you think.

GUERRILLA 1: After we get a little information. Letís get her into the car. (They begin to move her towards their vehicle.)

EW: Hurry up, you idiots, kill me now! Donít wait!

MR: (To Baldy) Damn it! Do something!

BALDY: Where are your men?!

MR: At the school!

BALDY: So, Mr. Decisive, this depends on me!

MR: Do something.

EW: (One guerrillas is moving ahead, one is dragging her along, holding her by the arm.) Suddenly, the most intense pain flashed through my arm. (She screams. The guerrilla shouts. She runs. The other guerrilla pursues.)

MR: What are you doing?

BALDY: I rerouted the cerebral electroshock system to fire off into her arm. My experimental sweetheart has just found out what itís like to be an electric eel.

MR: And she isnít incapacitated?

BALDY: Not with all the adrenaline the stimulator is pumping into her body. Look, are your men ready, or not? Iím running her up to the school.

MR: Prepare to intercept guerrilla pursuer. (They open fire and gun him down. A policeman comes up, and shoots the other guerrilla point blank.)

EW: No one ever asked the cat if she wanted nine lives.

JAVIER: I - I donít know what to say. (A long pause.) I donít know what to say.

EW: Maybe now they can kill me, I thought. Now that the guerrillas have wised up to me, of what use am I to the government? For a few weeks, I spend my days wandering about aimlessly through the streets of the capital, wondering when the bullet will come. (She wanders about.) I look into the faces of the people I pass. I see nothing. Is it because they have nothing inside, or is it because I have nothing inside? I remember how once, when I was sick and sad after my mother died, the world was filled with flowers blooming everywhere, and trees dancing with green leaves, everything was in its prime; but for me, it might as well have been winter. I felt nothing, was a part of nothing. I was the one thing in the world not blooming, the one thing left out by Natureís generous pardon. Was it the world, Javier, or me? Which one of us was empty?

JAVIER: You have never been empty, Consuelo. Neither empty like the sheep, nor empty like the sage. Your mind was always too strong to let the generals in, your heart too strong to yield to the Tao. I admire you, Consuelo, and I mourn for you. Your sheer life force shames me; but it has also kept you from finding the light thatís hidden in weakness.

EW: Well, now, Javier, Iím finally weak. Is there light to find?

JAVIER: Iím not sure. As usual, my words are far ahead of where I really am. (A long pause.) Consuelo, they didnít kill you.

EW: I wish they had.

JAVIER: Donít say that!

EW: (Softer.) I wish they had. I wandered for days through a desert of people I had nothing in common with. I wondered how they did it. Was it fear? Or cowardice? Or simple insensitivity? How thick were the skins of their souls? I looked into the windows of the stores where the wealthy shop, searching for a justification for the dead and the missing. I found nothing worth the price. I saw the children of the powerful playing behind iron gates, and asked myself, wouldnít they still be playing, even without bayonets as maids? For a moment, the river of a gigantic crowd pouring out of the stadium after a soccer match engulfed me, carried me with it away from my destination, which was solitude. "1-0, 1-0!" they shouted, overjoyed, exultant, as though they had just regained their liberty. Every time our team won, the dictator grew an inch. Then, one day, at last, I stumbled upon the last straw, a triumphal cry of darkness, armored in subtlety.

(Several PEDESTRIANS now appear as she walks around the city.)

I was walking in a crowd. (Suddenly, simultaneously, three others in that crowd stop, lift up their right leg, put it down; throw out their left arm, drop it down; kick their left leg out behind them, put it down. Consuelo does it, too. Then they go their separate ways, while Consuelo stands there, bewildered. )

MR: (Walks past, dressed in black with his laptop over his shoulder. Says casually)

Welcome to the future, Aurelia.

EW: (To Javier, after seeing that he has not reacted as she wants.) Do you understand what I just said?

JAVIER: Yes. I think so.

EW: You look too calm. Let me tell you again. I think you missed it.

(The PEDESTRIANS reconfigure, and with Consuelo, reenact the previous episode of walking, stopping and doing certain moves. Once more, MR comes by and says "Welcome to the future, Aurelia.")

JAVIER: You all did the same quirky thing at the same time. (Trying to satisfy Consuelo.) He said, "Welcome to the future."

EW: It was a prophecy, Javier. A prophecy of the social order to come. Spoken with our bodies.

JAVIER: "What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

(They reenact the episode one final time, concluding with, "Welcome to the future, Aurelia.")

EW: (Looking at MR) He was tall, Aryan-looking, with perfect Nazi features. Wotan-spawned, SS-approved, worthy of Siegfriedís ring. (To him.) Hey, what the hell are you doing in South America??? You forgot to have an Indian mother. - I ran after him. (She runs after him) He wouldnít stop, so I just walked beside him. (She does.) Who are you? - Whereís Baldy? - You know, my nameís Consuelo! Nobody calls me Aurelia. Just my mother.

MR: Please accept my condolences.

EW: Donít talk about her.

MR: (Cynically) Iím sure she would have kicked our asses.

EW: (With a certain anger, reverence and nostalgia.) Me, too. - Whereís Baldy?

MR: What are you going to call me?

EW: "Master Race." How about that? Is that good enough?

MR: I hadnít expected a compliment.

EW: Is that a compliment?

MR: A statement of the truth, coming from one intellectually unfit to discern it, can only be designated as a "compliment."

EW: Are you my new controller?

MR: I donít know what you mean. Iím a composer. A composer of harmony. A composer of the beautiful music of obedience. (He imitates the motion that all of them did a moment before.) Such a beautiful sound! Imagine - every human being a note, arranged into a symphony of perfect utility, a symphony of submission laid at the feet of the Gods.

EW: You bastard! Are you the one whoís been shocking me!?

MR: I donít know what youíre talking about. Iím a musician.

EW: So, when do you kill me? I canít be of any use to you now.

MR: What a terrible thing it would be for a composer if there were no B flat.

EW: You bastard! Is that what I am? A B-flat?

MR: Maybe an F sharp. (Observing a cafť to the side: stage crew puts a table there for Baldy, who has a glass with a straw in it, and a book.) Open-air cafes - so charming, for those who equate pleasure with wasting time.

EW: (Seeing Baldy, dressed as a tourist.) Baldy! (She runs over to him as MR disappears.) Baldy! - (He still isnít looking up.) Baldy.

BALDY: (Looks up.) Have we met?

EW: (She sits down beside him.) Please, Baldy, please donít do this to me. Donít pretend. After all, weíre friends of sorts. You know me, inside out. You know me better than a father, better than a brother, better than a lover. Better than a diary, with its fragile little lock, and its pages of intimate vulnerability. Donít keep on hiding the obvious. Let me in on it. Iíll look at myself in the mirror again - when I get out of the shower. (He gives no response.) Bastard. (She looks at the book on the table beside him.) What are you reading? (He pushes it towards her, so she can examine it.) The Life of Scipio Africanus: Conqueror of Hannibal. You identify with this crap?

BALDY: Rome must be saved.

EW: History repeats itself. - So when do you kill me?

BALDY: (He sips on his straw.) Turn to page 532.

EW: (She does, and begins to read out loud.) "For Scipio, the great victory at Zama was at the same time an act of self-destruction. For without Hannibal, he was nothing. Throughout the war, it was the genius of his enemy which had sustained him, elevated and glorified him, made him indispensable to Rome, and tolerable to himself. It was Hannibal who lit the torch of everything Scipio was, and he, Scipio, who put out the fire of his own soul by defeating Hannibal. With order and peace, excitement died, passion crumbled. Victory gave the world back to the meek, while the strong withered. Greatness requires dire threats to manifest. Triumphant, Scipio was consumed by melancholy, drowned by the terrible loneliness of knowing there was no one left who could destroy him!" (Consuelo looks up at him, amazed. Baldy sips loudly on his straw.)

BALDY: What a wonderful pin~a colada. There must be a little more left! Somewhere down here, among the ice cubes! (Continues to sip loudly) Itís mainly water, now. But itís better than nothing. (Sips again.)

EW: Iím no Hannibal. Hannibalís dead.

BALDY: Others will come.

EW: So youíre saving me? To find them when they do?

BALDY: I donít know what you mean, Iím only a tourist. (He starts to get up.) Could you tell me how to find Carlos Gardel Street?

EW: Bastard! (She pushes him down into the chair again.) You wonít win. Does that thrill you, Scipio? You wonít win! The people wonít let you! Injustice is a giant with feet of clay. You canít exploit the people without enraging them! The higher you build your tower of darkness, the weaker its foundations will become!

(MR enters with TURCIO, haggard, wearing a yoke and shackles on his feet. Consuelo does not see them, either now or throughout the scene.)

MR: It seems like you have at least one disciple left, Commander. Every corpse needs a parrot to pay homage to its failure.

TURCIO: Leave her alone. You sadists. Leave her alone. Sheís suffered enough.

MR: Suffering is her ticket to life, Commander.

TURCIO: What can she do to you? Just let her be.

MR: So endearing, her spirit without means! You brainwashed her well.

TURCIO: Sheís right, you pig.

MR: Of course. She got it from you.

TURCIO: Infamy of this magnitude cannot last.

MR: It can and it will.

TURCIO: Itís always come to an end. Youíve always fallen.

MR: We never had this technology before. Weíve always depended on armies, on police. On external agents of domination. Weíve never controlled the world from within. We tried, itís true, with religion, with the Church. With the Gods on our side. With Jesus nailed to the cross, with the cult of self-deprecation we created from his blood. Do not strike back! Endure! Those were the boundaries of our paradise! We planted our ideas in the minds of those we used, garrisoned conquered cities with our thoughts. But still - it was not enough.

TURCIO: And you killed us to preserve religion!

MR: Our weapon!

TURCIO: Desgraciado.

MR: Undependable, those little morality tales. The Bible, and all that other crap. Thatís where electronics comes in. Eliminate the middle man! Replace mystics with machines, enough of the tedious art of manipulation, just push a button and be done with it!

TURCIO: Itís a bluff. What are you going to do? Put that shit into the skull of every single citizen of Uruguay? Perform brain surgery on the entire Cono del Sur? Monitor every son of a bitch in the world? You donít have the resources, itís a pipe dream. Youíre crazy.

MR: Iím crazy, and youíre in shackles. (He feels Turcioís yoke.) Such a clumsy invention; soon we wonít be needing these.

TURCIO: You canít watch everyone. You canít control everyone.

MR: Who said we need to? Iíd say about five hundred well-selected accident victims should do for a country of this size. Enough to keep Dr. Melendez gainfully employed. Several thousand for the Cono del Sur. (Observing Turcio.) Do you get it, or have your "sessions" drained you to the point where you canít figure it out?

TURCIO: You think you could have held up any better?

MR: Thatís not the point. I didnít have to. Only beasts vie for superiority by comparing their ability to endure the whippings of their masters. Winners donít think on that low plane.

TURCIO: Youíre a coward.

MR: You are a romantic, blind to the cruelty of Nature. Thatís the one and only clear message God has ever given to Man. Only an idiot turns away from the writing on the wall.

TURCIO: Youíre a coward.

MR: Poor fool, trying to invent the impossible, trying to construct a world against the grain of reality, trying to give equal rights to a fantasy. Are you a child who never grew up, or simply a masochist in search of a beating? Revolution: what a convoluted, overblown way of shooting yourself!

TURCIO: You wonít win.

EW: (To Baldy) You wonít win!

TURCIO: You wonít win.

EW: (To Baldy) You wonít win!

MR: So charming! Master and disciple of futility! (As Turcio is about to speak) Yes, I know, we wonít win.

TURCIO: Too many people -

MR: (Mocking him) Not enough machines!

TURCIO: Too many people -

MR: (Mocking him) Not enough controllers!

TURCIO: No half-ass pet science project will defeat the people. A few of you will get rich; get contracts, convince some stupid government officials that this is really going to work. Go on, I should keep my mouth shut. Spend your money on this crap! That will leave less money for helicopters, for machine guns, for bullets.

MR: (Snaps his fingers, a policeman comes up to them with a compliant civilian. He parts the civilianís hair.) See that?

TURCIO: A scar.

MR: Just like your friendís.

TURCIO: He has one of the devices, too?

MR: As a matter of fact, he doesnít. But can you be sure he doesnít? Can he be sure he doesnít? - A few devices, and lots of scars. Some key people under our power. Spies. Provocateurs. Fake rebels. And lots of people with scars.

TURCIO: The mark of the beast!

MR: Becoming dotty in your old age?

TURCIO: Carajo!

MR: Can you mount a revolution without trust?

TURCIO: Sons of bitches!

MR: Bind those who are strongest. Infiltrate those who are most loved. Create a sea of doubt for the fish to swim in. You are beaten, Commander. It is hopeless. We have the power that all history has lacked, to finally put a period at the end of the sentence of rebellion; to return "justice" to its original meaning, which is nothing more than the triumph of the strong.

(An entertainer comes in with a puppet on strings.)

ENTERTAINER: (Sings, in high-pitched puppet voice) Iím your puppet - boop, boop - Iím your puppet - boop, boop. Without you Iím a cripple. I need your strings, or Iíll never walk again! Please heal me, by taking me over. You lead, Iíll follow. (In his own voice, to the puppet.) So then, wipe my ass. (In puppet voice) Yes, Sir! Whereís the toilet paper? (In his own voice) Who said anything about toilet paper? (Some SPECTATORS clap their hands and cheer.)

MR: (Yanking Turcio away, and leaving.) How I hate vulgarity! Come, Commander, time for another interrogation. This time, tell us something you donít know! (Exit.)

BALDY: Unfortunately, the insecurity of my colleagues may dry up my source of pleasure. I am satisfied with having the advantage, but they want total victory. They would rather eliminate their enemies, than savor them. (He takes one last sip from his empty glass.)

EW: So, does that mean, you can finally kill me?

BALDY: Have you ever considered going back to school?

EW: What?

BALDY: The university? - What about sociology? Doesnít that interest you?

EW: Why?

BALDY: Itís a magnet for nonconformists and potential revolutionaries. It might be useful to keep an eye on whatís going on there.

EW: (With slowly comprehending horror) No, you donít meanÖ I wonít go! No, f**k sociology! F**k sociology!

BALDY: Sometimes, the paths one takes in life are almost as involuntary as a twitch!

EW: No, I wonít do it!

BALDY: Weíll see. Well, now, itís off to do some sightseeing. Off to find a tango dive, and eat a steak. Itís been nice to meet you, miss.

EW: No, Baldy, donít do this to me! Donít go! Talk to me - or kill me!

BALDY: Please, miss. (To a passerby) Excuse me, mister, could you tell me, which way to Carlos Gardel Street? (Passerby points off stage) Thank you.

EW: Iíll take you there.

BALDY: No, here, take this. (He starts to hand her an ID card, then deliberately drops it. She picks it up. Then looks for him. Heís gone.)

EW: Baldy! Baldy! Where are you? Where have you gone? (She looks for him for a moment, then finally looks again at the ID in her hand)

JAVIER: What did it say? - What did it say? (As the scene dismantles, she returns to him, and hands him the ID. He looks at it.) Itís you. (He reads it.) Consuelo Aurelia Vazquez Arbelaez Titere. Consuelo Aurelia Vazquez Arbelaez Puppet.

EW: Look at the back.

JAVIER: Status: experiment.

EW: Iím a prototype. The future in the making. The mass production of puppets must be just around the corner, waiting for Baldy and me, and a few others like us, to prove itís worth the investment. Javier, Iím like the Wright Brothersí plane. Will I get off the ground? Will I crash? Will I have a child named Guernica? What a privilege! What a curse! Oedipus, you had it easy, you only screwed your mother!

JAVIER: And killed your father.

EW: Who gives a shit about him?

JAVIER: (Bewildered, examining the ID.) Consuelo, where did this come from?

EW: I just told you. Baldy.

JAVIER: (Looking up) So heís real!

EW: Youíre stubborn.

JAVIER: Iím confused.

EW: Youíre like the tides. You believe, you donít. You believe, you donít

JAVIER: Itís a lot to take in. (A long pause, still contemplating the ID.) So - you enrolled in the university?

EW: No. I mean Yes, but I never went to class. Which is sort of no. Javier, I finally decided to end it.

JAVIER: What do you mean "to end it"?

EW: Just what I said. One night, I invited "Death" into my room.

JAVIER: Into your room?

EW: Youíre a writer. Do I have to be so straightforward?

JAVIER: Now Iím confused.

(Enter a figure dressed in a long black garb, eerie, like the figure "Death" from the Tarot.)

DEATH: You called for me?

EW: I did.

DEATH: Iím very busy. How do you want to do it?

EW: With a knife.

DEATH: I need a reason.

EW: Did the bubonic plague have a reason? Did the Holocaust have a reason? Just do it.

DEATH: I need a reason.

EW: Kill me because Iím killing the people I love; people the world needs. I canít help myself. The only solution I can see is to take myself out.

DEATH: Why now? Why not before?

EW: (Trying to answer.) Because I didnít understand. Because my will was weak. Because I thought I could beat them.

DEATH: You were a coward?

EW: Suicide is a sin.

DEATH: But killing isnít?

EW: Itís what I was taught.

DEATH: So you let them use you - to kill others.

EW: I resisted.

DEATH: In vain.

EW: Thank you for helping me to despise myself even more. That should make it easy. So youíll help me?

DEATH: Supposing your death saves others?

EW: Thatís the point.

DEATH: I could lose business.

EW: Youíll never be out of work. Give me the knife.

(Enter a scantily dressed man with a noose around his neck.)

DEATH: Are you sure you pulled the right card out of the deck?

EW: What are you talking about?

DEATH: The Hanged Man.

EW: I called you.

DEATH: Suffering is so sensual. Donít you want to suffer more? Isnít that what your life is all about, in the end? Watching others suffer so you can suffer? Crying endlessly about things you canít change? You could have flown away from it all, but you broke your wings, you chose the pit of lost souls, left the safe and the shallow behind, leapt into the orgy of thinking you were better than those who were happy.

EW: I didnít ask for a philosopher. I asked for a killer.

DEATH: I have nothing to give you but silence and the deepest shade of dark you have ever known. He (pointing to "Hanged Man") is the bestower of pleasure.

EW: I want night. Night without bottom, night without borders, night without the half-hearted, useless intervention of the sun. Give me the knife. (Looking at the "Hanged Man.") Send him away. (Death delays.) Send him away. (Death motions to the Hanged Man, who goes.) Give me the knife. (Death delays) Iím ready. (Death hands her the knife.)

DEATH: Do not fail me.

EW: I wonít fail them.

JAVIER: Consuelo, no! You tried to kill yourself!

EW: What was I going to do?

JAVIER: No, Consuelo! There are other solutions! You should have come to me before! I canít believe you tried to kill yourself!

EW: I lifted up the knife. A crazy joy was in my eyes, my soul was dancing. At the same time, a terrible hate filled me from head to toe, I felt the strength to do it in my hands. "Donít prick yourself, bitch," I told myself, "thrust it all the way through, into the wall behind you."

JAVIER: No!

EW: I lifted up the knife, I was sure I could do it. I laughed, I breathed in one last unwanted breath, and with all my might, screamed with the voice of evil taken by surprise. Let one rotten corpse fall among the beautiful.

JAVIER: No!

EW: (She screams, thrusts, pauses, looks down.) I thought it was over, but I was still alive. (Lifts up part of blouse.) I examined myself. There was just a little blood. I felt pain in my shoulders, as though my arms had been suddenly jerked back. They felt almost sprained. And thatís when I realized. Baldy was watching; he wasnít going to let it happen.

JAVIER: You didnít stab yourself?

EW: I was stopped mid-thrust. Furious, I tried again. (She tries, but canít.) Itís like, my arms lost all power and suddenly became extraordinarily heavy, and tight. Something was pulling them back, wouldnít let me reach myself with the knife. For a while, Baldy and I wrestled with each other. (She tries to move knife towards her, sometimes coming close, sometimes losing ground.) Let me die you bastard! Leave me alone! Let me die! Iíve done enough for you! God damn it, just cut the device out of my head! If thatís what you want! Let me die, and cut the device out of my head!

JAVIER: You couldnít beat him.

EW: I gave him a good fight.

JAVIER: He was pushing buttons.

EW: He had the advantage. After a while, my strength began to fade. Thatís when he loosened my grip, and the knife fell down to the floor. What a terrible sound: a life saved, its impotence confirmed. I thought I could hear a voice in my head sayingÖ

BALDYíS VOICE: Donít ever do that again.

JAVIER: I never thought Iíd find myself agreeing with the government. But in this caseÖ.

EW: Of course, I ignored him.

JAVIER: What?

EW: I tried to kill myself again.

JAVIER: (Reproachfully) Consuelo

EW: I waited a day or two. Then I took out a mop and some cleaning fluid as a diversion, and opened the window, as if to get some fresh air. I began to mop the floor. After a while, I closed my eyes, so he couldnít see through them, and began to walk towards the window.

JAVIER: You still live on the fifth floor? (She nods) Consuelo - youíre brilliant - what a misuse of your mind!

EW: Youíd rather have me kill more innocents?

JAVIER: Consuelo - but youíre here - you failed!

EW: There must be something like a gyroscope inside my head. Maybe he could tap into my inner ear, use my sense of balance to calculate direction. Maybe there was some hormone he could read, some electrochemical signal of intentÖ Somehow he knew. As I lifted my leg up to go over the balcony, with my eyes still shut, I was suddenly hit with the most awful cramps Iíve ever had. My whole body contracted, I fell back down onto the balcony and just lay there, from the late morning through the night, hating him but immobilized, until my will was finally broken. Somehow, he sensed that, and released me.

JAVIER: You survived.

EW: I crawled back into my apartment like a beaten dog.

JAVIER: Consuelo, there must be other solutions!

EW: Finally, I outwitted him.

JAVIER: What?

EW: He thought I was just punishing him.

JAVIER: What do you mean? What did you do? (Gratefully, and trying to take away the stress created by her story by thinking ahead to the ending) Youíre still here!

EW: I took a laxative, and plopped the biggest crap Iíve ever had into the toilet bowl. It was practically a blueprint of my intestines. Then I just got up, and began staring into the toilet bowl.

JAVIER: Consuelo - disgusting!

EW: Thereís still time to base the heroine of your novel on someone else.

JAVIER: My imagination is very visual.

EW: Every talent needs an "off" switch.

JAVIER: Iím sorry! It makes me sick!

EW: And youíre only thinking about it.

JAVIER: Why, Consuelo? Why did you do it? To get back at Baldy? And why did he let you get away with it? Couldnít he have just made you flush the toilet?

EW: I think he decided he was going to teach me a lesson.

JAVIER: In aesthetics?

EW: In the limitations of stubbornness. He decided he was going to do nothing, and use me to break myself.

BALDY: (In pajamas and bathrobe, with his laptop) Go ahead, look at your bowel movement for as long as you want. This is supposed to get to me? (After a moment.) Go on, keep on staring into the toilet bowl, until youíve made the very idea of liberty nauseating. (He turns on the radio, playing the song, "Itís A Beautiful Morning" by the Rascals, and begins to relax, reading a magazine. Consuelo is now kneeling, reenacting her time of staring into the toilet bowl.)

EW: (Gags) How do you like this scenery, Baldy? Who needs to go to the Andes, or the Grand Canyon, when you have Consuelo Vazquezís toilet bowl?

BALDY: (Looking in magazine, and reading from it) "Americans are infatuated with legs. The French with breasts. Latins with butts. The Japanese with throats."

EW: (Gags) Voyeurs of the world unite! You have nothing to lose (gags) but the contents of your stomach!

BALDY: (Looks briefly into the screen) My, sheís stubborn! (Continues to read from the magazine) "No artist ever mastered the human derriŤre like Jean Leon Gerome. His helpless female slave standing on the Roman auction block ably projects the faceless sensuality of being turned into an object, with all inhibiting personality swept aside. The eroticism inherent in the total loss of will sustains the submission that would otherwise revolt; the lustful and the strong thrive on the eroticization of power relationships." There, intellect, are you satisfied? Now to the pictures!

EW: Baldy, look! (Holds up her hands) No hands! Come on - look! Are you looking? It is your duty to sacrifice yourself for the nation!

BALDY: Keep on kneeling at the altar of your stubbornness. Soon enough, youíll learn not to fight. (Looking at picture) What a beautiful throat! The Japanese are right! All it needs is the jewelry of a noose. Captive women - so ravishing! Go right to the edge of killing them, then bring them into your bed and turn them into the mothers of your children. Politics would be barren if it werenít for the monster hidden in the depths of nobility. (Sings, it doesnít matter if itís out of sync with the song) "Itís a beautiful morning!"

(Consuelo suddenly jumps up from the toilet bowl, grabs a bottle of pills from the medicine cabinet, and begins to stuff pills into her mouth)

JAVIER: Consuelo, what are you doing!?

EW: Pills. Pills from the medicine cabinet.

JAVIER: Consuelo - youíre a genius!

EW: I gambled that heíd stopped looking through my eyes, by now. Him, or his night watchman, or whoever the hell was on my monitor. I stuffed my mouth full of them. Sleeping pills. Enough to shut down the heart of an elephant.

JAVIER: He wasnít watching you!

EW: (Sings) "The shit got in the way."

JAVIER: The puppet was unsupervised.

DEATH: Finally! Chopin died faster than you did.

EW: Javier, it was so easy. I began to feel tired, and that was it. Sleepy. So sleepy. You are feeling SLEEPY. (Laughs at her sense of humor) SLEEPY. SLEEPY. (She lays down) Mmm. The bathroom floor felt like the most comfortable bed, made of feathers: the bed of a queen. Queen Titere Muerta: Puppet Dead. National Geographic: when you find me, put me in the Smithsonian, along with my burial objects. A plunger. A toothbrush; a bottle of shampoo. UhhhÖ

ANGEL: (A female angel arrives, in a fairy-tale like costume) Consuelo! Consuelo! this way, dear!

DEATH: (To the Angel) I hate you people. (He walks away in disgust.)

ANGEL: Consuelo! Youíve suffered enough! Come home! Here I am - in the light!

BALDY: (An alarm goes off, and he looks into his laptop screen.) DAMN IT! PUTA DE MIERDA! (He starts banging away at the keyboard.) IDIOTA! (Speaking on an intercom) EMS! EMS! I need an EMS team with clearance, right away. I just typed in the coordinates! (We begin to hear the sound of a heart monitor.)

ANGEL: Consuelo, this way. (EW struggles up, and begins to try to walk towards her.)

EW: (To angel) Youíre beautifulÖ

MR: (Rushes in) Whatís going on?

BALDY: Shut up!

MR: Your asset is destabilizing.

BALDY: Shut up! Donít get in my way!

MR: What are you doing? Have you given her hormones?

BALDY: Iíve released every stimulant I can get out of her endocrine system. (Flatline sound) GOD DAMN IT! SON OF A BITCH!

MR: Are you losing her?

BALDY: What do you care?! For you, theyíre all robots!

MR: Youíve become too attached to her. This is war, and thereís casualties in war.

BALDY: Why donít you go beat on Commander Turcioís balls!

MR: You need a girlfriend.

BALDY: Shut up!

ANGEL: Come, Consuelo. This way. Youíre almost there.

EW: Is mama there?

UNSEEN MOTHERíS VOICE: Aurelia! Querida!

EW: Mama! Mama!

ANGEL: Youíre almost there.

EW: Mama, I miss you! I miss you so much!

(The sound of the flatline becoming beeps again. Consuelo stops in her tracks, then struggles to keep on going to the light, but is beginning to lose her ability to proceed.)

MR: Her heartís beating again! You massaged it?

BALDY: With electric currents from the cerebral power source.

MR: Now what? Sheís convulsing. What are you doing?

BALDY: Flopping her onto her belly. So she wonít choke on her vomit.

MR: Youíre going to purge her stomach?

EW: Mama - (Consuelo now begins to slowly back away from the Angel and the Light .)

ANGEL: This way, Consuelo! This way!

EW: Iím trying. Iím trying.

UNSEEN MOTHERíS VOICE: Aurelia! Mi lindita! Iím here - Iím right here! Itís only a few more steps!

ANGEL: Take my hand! Consuelo, take my hand!

EW: Mama! Mami! Donít leave! Donít leave like last time! (She reaches for Angelís hand)

ANGEL: Take my hand, Consuelo! Take it!

EW: (Consuelo manages to hold it for a moment, but canít keep her grip) I canít hold on! Iím falling! Falling back into my body!

ANGEL: Itís not your body, Consuelo. Itís their body now.

EW: I know that! I want to go with you! I want to go with you! They stole me from myself. I want to be free.

ANGEL: This is the last place thatís free.

EW: I want to be free.

ANGEL: You have to reach me. (She begins to fade away, off stage) You have to reach me.

EW: Iím trying. Iím trying.

ANGEL: (Practically faded) You have to reach me.

DEATH: (Returns to survey the scene) Damn it! Next time, bitch, just catch a disease! (He leaves in a huff)

(Consuelo lies down on the floor, now, or in a bed. She is in a hospital. A male doctor and a male nurse are hovering over her.)

EW: After what seemed like ages, I finally opened my eyes. There was light all around me. So much light. I thought, for a moment, that maybe I was in Heaven after all. And those faces, staring at me. Were they angels? But then I saw that I was only staring into fluorescent lights, and the angels didnít have wings.

DOCTOR: You are very fortunate, Miss Vazquez. Most people, under your circumstances, would have died. You must be very strong, or have a guardian angel.

EW: My guardian is no angel.

DOCTOR: Youíll need a few days to recover here. A counselor will be by later, to check in on you. A Dr. Melendez Gott. You know, life is very worthwhile, Miss Vazquez. Weíre blessed to live in times of hope and progress. Iím sure youíll be able to put your life back together again.

EW: Have you taken any X-rays of my head?

DOCTOR: Why? Weíve checked out your heart and your stomach, even your throat. Thereís no reason to look into your head.

EW: Youíre right, donít bother. You donít need new friends.

DOCTOR: New friends?

EW: In a black car. (Seeing his concern) Donít worry. Iím sure Dr. Escipion will set things right. Thanks for everything.

DOCTOR: Try to get some rest, Miss Vazquez. Youíve been through a lot.

EW: Thanks. (The doctor exits, the male nurse remains, looking at her.) Yes? Can I help you, doctor?

WILFREDO: Iím a nurse.

EW: A nurse? Arenít you supposed to be a woman?

WILFREDO: (Shyly) Your regular nurses are females. Iíve just been making the rounds with Dr. Medina.

EW: A nurse? Thatís a girlís job. Why arenít you in the army?

WILFREDO: (Thinking she is serious) I just want to help people, thatís all.

EW: Men are supposed to carry guns, and shoot each other. Women pick up the pieces. One sex cuts, the other sex binds the wounds. Havenít you got it mixed up?

WILFREDO: Thereís not just one road to manhood. Some ways of loving are so distant from the original impulse that the cord that ties them to compassion is stretched to the breaking point.

EW: The way of the soldier.

WILFREDO: Thereís ways to love that are closer to love.

EW: Your way.

WILFREDO: Iím sorry. I beg you for forgiveness if I go too far, but Iíve been locked in a tower of shyness my whole life, denying people the reverence I feel for them, for fear that theyíll take offense. Thatís not nurturing, thatís egotistical. I just wanted to say -

EW: Yes? (Urging him on) Donít be egotisticalÖ

WILFREDO: I just wanted to say that youíre beautiful! (Anticipating that sheíll reject the compliment) Yes, yes, I know, youíre very sick, and not in your most attractive state most likely, but something about your face - itís physical, but itís also spiritual. A wound that only someone beautiful could have. Please hang in there, life is worthwhile, if you have enough imagination! (Very shy, he begins to leave)

EW: Wait! - Wait. (He comes back) Whatís your name?

WILFREDO: Wilfredo.

EW: Consuelo. (She weakly extends her hand. He takes it.) Thank you, muchacho. And can I tell you something?

WILFREDO: Yes?

EW: You are also very beautiful. - (Requesting) Your other hand. (She takes it also and holds it) No ring. How come? - Too shy? (He shrugs) Youíll find a good girl one day. She wonít be able to resist, if you finally find the courage to open your mouth. Now you better go track down Dr. Medina, and get back to saving lives.

WILFREDO: Get some rest, Consuelo, it will do you good.

EW: Youíll come back to visit?

WILFREDO: I promise.

EW: Promises are the cattle goads we use to overpower reluctance.

WILFREDO: In that case, I donít promise. Iíll visit you. I wonít devalue my wish by portraying it as an obligation.

EW: Ciao.

WILFREDO: Hasta pronto, querida.

JAVIER: Am I reading something into the story, or had Cupidís arrow struck?

EW: (Rising up, to talk to him) Javier. One moment I was on the brink of death, desiring nothing but extinction. Dodo Bird, Dinosaur, Cave Man, Consuelo. Not that the Cave Man is dead. Not here. And suddenly, the next thing I know, birds are singing, and butterflies are landing in my hair.

JAVIER: Love. Or just the will to live, inventing a pretext.

EW: He was beautiful. He was sweet. I felt like an idiot teenager. How could anything real happen that fast? On the other hand, I know the deadliness of logic, which second-guesses life into oblivion. I wanted him, Javier. So much.

JAVIER: Your model man, with eyes of burning coal? Confident, like a jaguar hunting?

EW: Not Wilfredo. His beauty was in not being like the others: the unfaithful, callous ones who Fate used to cure me of stereotypes; the savages women encourage, and mothers make.

JAVIER: Wilfredo was safe?

EW: No. You canít truly love someone whoís safe. But he was genuine.

JAVIER: And your obsession to kill yourself?

EW: Duty, not obsession.

JAVIER: You stopped trying?

EW: Love is a strange thing, Javier. For love, the sun would stop shining, the storm would give up its lightning, the spring would forget to come and leave the world to the snow. Am I trespassing on your turf?

JAVIER: No, I donít write like that.

EW: I was tired, Javier. Accustomed to defeat. Sometimes, when our aspirations are too much for us to bear, God throws in the towel in the form of another person; gives us the consolation of love in the place of our dreams.

JAVIER: Withdraw from the madness of the world, and cultivate your garden. Let the beasts do battle, outside the walls of the Academy. A flower is beautiful whether Marcus Aurelius is Emperor or Nero.

EW: Believe me, Javier. I hated myself for it. I really did. I felt I didnít deserve to be loved, and that the world didnít have time for me to love. There was too much to be done. While I was kissing, children were starving.

JAVIER: You canít live like that, Consuelo. To save the world, you have to belong to the world. To love "the people", you must love someone.

EW: I know. I know.

JAVIER: (Looks at her for a while) So - youíre with Wilfredo? (She shakes her head. After a time, he asks) What happened?

(EW gets up, and meets Wilfredo who enters; they hold hands, and walk down the street.)

EW: We dated after the hospital.

JAVIER: He wasnít all youíd made him out to be?

EW: He was more beautiful than I imagined. - (Suddenly noticing) Javier, are you jealous?

JAVIER: No, no, of course not. I mean, I love you very dearly, but if you were happy with himÖ No, Iím a writer, weíre creatures of the deep, when we surface from our pages itís to eat, not to live. We eat the lives we could have lived, dabble in living to get words. (He makes a kissing sound.) Oh, thatís what itís like. Thanks, I have enough material for my next novel. See you next year.

EW: You exaggerate.

JAVIER: Living expands the vocabulary. Itís of no further use.

EW: You exaggerate.

JAVIER: One day, we imagine weíll be idolized, a great herd of does will gather around us. Until then, we need to dig in. Donít disturb the writer! And donít depend on him! You are not his friend, you are his weapon!

EW: You are jealous.

JAVIER: Iím getting in the way. What happened?

(EW resumes walking with Wilfredo)

EW: We dated. We had good times.

WILFREDO: So, did you like the movie?

EW: It was wonderful.

WILFREDO: What was your favorite part?

EW: When they were kissing.

WILFREDO: While it snowed all around them?

EW: It was a beautiful scene.

WILFREDO: Real love is pure, and it makes the world pure. Just like the falling snow. And it defies the cold.

EW: In a cold world, a kiss is Humanityís last stand.

WILFREDO: Lovers are soldiers of the warmth.

EW: Cruelty cannot stand on ground hallowed by love.

WILFREDO: So if we love, we keep the world. We may not save it, but we preserve its ability to be saved.

EW: Does that mean I havenít given up?

WILFREDO: What?

EW: Nothing.

JAVIER: And you werenít afraid of drawing him into your private Hell? Of catching him like a fly in the spider web of what youíve become to others?

EW: You are jealous. To demand such nobility of me!

JAVIER: No, I swear, Iím not.

EW: Swear?

JAVIER: Yes. I swear to God.

EW: To God?

JAVIER: To the God of Opaqueness, who keeps me from looking into my own heart.

EW: How can you be a writer and not look into your own heart?

JAVIER: Everything I think and feel wears a costume. My pen unearths me in ways that conceal me. My writing hand may know me through someone Iíve invented, but if so, itís knowledge that stops at the wrist.

EW: Javier. Wilfredo has a beautiful soul, but heís not political.

JAVIER: How can you be beautiful, and not political in a country like this?

EW: Are you political?

JAVIER: On paper, I am the most fervent revolutionary.

EW: And in the world?

JAVIER: Once my novel's publishedÖ (Observing the look on her face.) How tall is the oak tree beneath your feet? The one thatís still a seed? (Pause, as sheís not convinced) Youíre right. Iím jealous.

EW: Javier, I believed I could handle it: loving him. I believed I could steer him away from making any incriminating comments, and we could just have a normal life, maybe get a house one day, with a rose garden, keep love on the human map, carry on the subtle revolution of being good people and smuggle the weapon of liberty, hidden in quiescent, mighty values, to our grandchildren. Why should the government harm him? All heís doing is tending to sick people. Why shouldnít Baldy let me have a friend, anything to divert me from suicide and preserve my high-tech head? I knew, in spite of my electronic hang-ups, I could make Wilfredo happy. The way his self-imposed loneliness melted the moment I saw through it; the way his love-starved body responded to my touches. My body was wise for his. Do you know what I mean? (This is difficult for Javier.) Iím sorry, Javier. You have the Muse. Iíll never compare with Her. - Do you understand me, Javier? I thought I could make my captivity bearable. Didnít the slaves make love?

JAVIER: So - why arenít you still together? (Pause) Did the controllers interfere?

EW: No - and yes. (Javier is waiting for more.) One day, we were walking in the park. Suddenly, I felt the most overpowering sense of love for him. He saw it, and we began to hug, to touch, to kiss. (She and Wilfredo begin to embrace and caress.)

WILFREDO: Querida de mi corazon

EW: Hermoso.

WILFREDO: With you, amor, I won the Lottery.

EW: Youíre so beautiful.

WILFREDO: I love you.

EW: I love you!

WILFREDO: I need to find a word besides "love", itís not enough. (Suddenly, she stops, and pushes him off of her. He is surprised. She looks at him, scrutinizing him, he looks at her, baffled and alarmed.) Querida? Did I say something wrong? Was I too rough?

EW: I love you too much.

WILFREDO: (Wilfredo smiles, and begins to hug her again, again she pushes him away. He is surprised.) Amor, que pasa?

EW: It canít be "us."

WILFREDO: What?

EW: Itís too strong. Too powerful.

WILFREDO: Amor?

EW: They must be making me love you.

WILFREDO: What?

EW: Itís not me. They must be putting these feelings into my heart.

WILFREDO: Consuelo?

EW: Releasing hormones. Can we make the puppet fall in love? (Wilfredo is bewildered) Youíre not my type, Wilfredo. I like intellectuals. I like activists. How could I fall for you? It must be them, not me.

WILFREDO: Amor! Love follows its own rules. Does Magic listen to Science? It breaks the laws of plausibility! Love is Magic. Love is the worst of thieves, it steals the truths of souls from the vault of lies where they lie guarded like dead jewels. Love sneaks into the house of appearances, and elopes with essence. It breaks the chastity lock of cowardice, unmasks the frustrated and reunites the twins of time.

JAVIER: My God, your nurse had a poetic streak! Iím more jealous than ever.

EW: I like intellectuals and activists.

WILFREDO: You think Iím - stupid?

EW: No, Wilfredo. Youíre very intelligent.

WILFREDO: My compassion is too narrow?

EW: No. No, I donít mean it like that! Youíre so sensitive, so sweetly strong, so perfect. Too perfect! Whatís wrong with me? Why canít I love someone this way? But itís too strong! It canít be me.

WILFREDO: Consuelo, youíre very passionate. Your heart births hurricanes. Why canít you love this way? Whatís going on with you?

EW: Is it me? Or them? Whose decision is this?

WILFREDO: Decision?

EW: To fall in love.

WILFREDO: Love isnít a decision. Itís something that happens.

EW: No! No! You wonít manipulate me !

WILFREDO: Iím not manipulating you, Iím just expressing my thoughts.

EW: Iím not talking to you!

WILFREDO: What?

EW: You wonít manipulate me! Not on this sacred ground! You wonít choose who I love, who I dream of, who I lie awake with longing for, who I worship, who I let, as treasure, into my heart; who I let, as discoverer, into the intimate country between my legs! You have the world, leave me love!

WILFREDO: Consuelo, whatís wrong!?

EW: I donít love you, Wilfredo!

WILFREDO: You donít love me?

EW: I do love you, madly! But itís not me! Itís them, making me love you! Which means itís not really me! Even if I could love you, I canít! Not any more!

WILFREDO: What??

EW: I could never be sure. So I canít love you!

WILFREDO: Consuelo, maybe you havenít completely recoveredÖ.

EW: Leave me alone! Take your god-damned fingers off the love button!

WILFREDO: Consuelo!? (He tries to hug her, she pushes him away)

EW: Bastards! I wonít fall in love! Thatís where the experiment ends! You want to rape me, using him, go ahead! But I wonít love him! You own me, Iím your electronic harlot, but I wonít let you capture my sentimentality! I know whatís going on! Drown me in hormones, go ahead, but somehow, the intellect can always keep its head above the chemicals. You can break me, but not deceive me!

WILFREDO: (On cell phone) Hello, EMS. My girlfriend is having some kind of nervous breakdown. I need an ambulance!

EW: (Consuelo pushes him in the chest, then takes his cell phone and says) EMS, ignore the message you just got. Just call Dr. Escipion Melendez Gott. Tell him Consuelo Vazquez is having an argument with his invention. No treatment needed. Tell him to send me a dildo in the mail. (She hands the phone back to Wilfredo) Good-bye, Wilfredo. Nice try. (She leaves him, and comes to Javier.)

WILFREDO: Consuelo!

JAVIER: Consuelo - Iím sorry! (They hug. After a while he asks) They were making you love him? To restore your commitment to live, after the suicide attempts?

EW: In retrospect, Javier, I think our love was real. Iíve just reached the point where I no longer know whatís me, and whatís them. If what I do is what I want to do, or what they want me to do. Do I have a mind of my own? Do I have a will of my own? When I fight back, am I fighting them, or am I only fighting myself? - I think I loved him, Javier, and I threw it all away! (She begins to cry) I donít know where they are inside of me: in my fears, or in my desires? I loved him, Javier! He was beautiful! He loved me! I wronged him! By needing him, I wronged him! But I couldnít kill myself! I tried, but I couldnít!

JAVIER: (Trying to comfort her) Consuelo! Consuelo! Donít blame yourself.

EW: I loved him, and I lost him, because I canít tell whatís me and whatís them! And Iíll never be able to tell!

JAVIER: Maybe you could call him.

EW: No. No! I wouldnít do that to him. I wouldnít exploit his powers of forgiveness. Itís over, Javier. Itís over. Iím doomed to be alone, forever. - Bitch, I should rejoice at being a hermit! Accept loneliness as the moat needed to protect the world from me!

JAVIER: Consuelo!

EW: But Iím too weak. That must be why they chose me.

JAVIER: Consuelo - youíre not weak!

EW: Can I have something to drink? (He helps her to sit down/collapse, and goes to his "bar.")

JAVIER: What do you want, Consuelo?

EW: Anything. Anything strong.

JAVIER: Aguardiente?

EW: Perfect! - Perfect! (He brings a bottle, and two small glasses. He pours the liquor into them, sits down, and they bump glasses.)

JAVIER: To you, Consuelo.

EW: To the completion of your novel sometime within the next thousand years. (A long silence. She shows him her empty glass, and he pours them more. They toast again.)

JAVIER: Salud.

EW: Mental or physical?

JAVIER: Why not both?

EW: (After a while) Remember the tape I told you about?

JAVIER: The last time we talked? (She nods. A pause) You want to hear it now? (She nods. He goes over to look for a music tape to put on.) Why this one?

EW: Donít you have a favorite song?

JAVIER: Of course.

EW: What is it?

JAVIER: Oh, just some silly song. Never mind. Iím embarrassed. I was in love - yes, me. Stupid as it was, the song was a part of the environment the one time in my life I was truly happy. For me, it is the anthem of an illusion. Whenever I hear it, I feel like my heart has just been stabbed with a knife - and I also feel alive again. I am like a ghost that haunts that song, Consuelo. It takes me back to the last place I was me.

EW: Two roads diverged in a yellow roadÖ

JAVIER: And I took the wrong one. (Heís found the tape she wants.) Why this one, Consuelo?

EW: You said it better than I could. It cradles, in its beautiful obsolescence, the world that I lost. The world that we all lost. Now that I have nothing to live for, and now that I cannot die, I want to remember who I was. I want to remember when life was beautiful, not because it was fair, but because we saw that it wasnít.

(Javier puts it on. The song is "Pequen~a Serenata Diurna" by Silvio Rodriguez)

EW: (Quotes and paraphrases parts of the song as it plays) "I live in a free country, which could only be free, in this land, in this instant, and Iím happy because Iím a giantÖ. And as if that werenít enough, I spend my time making the music of the awakened Man. Iím happy. May those who died for my happiness forgive me."

(As the song plays, TURCIO comes out, fresh, strong and heroic. He doesnít see her, he just walks around smiling, breathing the air. After a moment, the ANGEL who we saw in Consueloís near-death episode comes out, smiling, extending him her hand. He dances with her for a moment, then holding her hand, goes with her off stage.)

EW: I donít need to be happy, myself. I only want my sorrow to be of use. Why couldnít I be the forgotten tragedy buried in a song of happiness, forever underneath the passing feet of joyous generations unable to comprehend where they came from? (Pause) The worldís empty, Javier. I strain to hear the echoes of yesterday, to fill my life with whatís gone.

VOICES OF THE PAST, SPEECHES OF FALLEN FIGHTERS (as though wafting in from afar, sometimes louder, sometimes softer, accompanied by cheers and applause, as though spoken at a rally. While they listen, Javier pours them both another drink, which they take after a silent toast):

FF1: Victory or Death!

FF2: The Land belongs to those who work it!

FF3: Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains! You have a world to win!

FF4: God does not demand that you surrender the earth to the unjust. He commands you to love your neighbor. It is up to you to find the means. Sometimes, Revolution is the means.

FF5: It is better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.

FF6: There can be no new world, until there is a new Man. It is your task to make him; to make the Revolution possible from within.

FF7: He who fights when fighting is not needed is a criminal; he who cowers when there is no choice but to fight, is also a criminal.

FF8: The Future comes on the legs of Today. Look in the mirror, and tell me if you have what it takes to live in a free land.

VOICES OF THE PEOPLE: (Chanting) La gente, La gente, La gente te defiende! (Repeat 3 times) El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido! (Repeat 3 times)

Viva la libertad! Viva!

Abajo los fascistas! Abajo!

El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido! (Repeat and fade)

EW: Nothingís left. - You havenít finished your book. I wrote mine on a flowing stream.

(Noises begin to build up from the outside, thereís a disturbance or problem of some kind. People yelling, as a fire is detected in a neighboring building. Improvise)

I wonder if Baldy will let me get drunk. (Laughs) Hey, Baldy, can your device do anything about hangovers? I want to know how much to drink. (Laughs) Javier, give me another. (Javier stiffens, he becomes alert, he is smelling something)

EW: Whatís wrong, what do you smell? (She lifts up her arm, and smells underneath it) Whatís wrong, idiot? Give me another drink. (Listening to the people, who begin to come out onto the stage now) Hey, whatís all the bulla? Beat your wife somewhere else!

JAVIER: I think I smell smoke. (Consuelo looks at him. He repeats more stridently) I think I smell smoke (and stands up, to look out "the window.") Consuelo - across the street - thereís a fire! (She staggers up to look out the window also.)

NEIGHBOR 1: Is everybody out?

MERCEDES: (Coming back, and dropping a bag of groceries) Julio! Julio! Whereís my Julio?!

NEIGHBOR 1: I think everybodyís out of the building. - Yes, we called the fire department!

NEIGHBOR 2: Trafficís bad at this time. They may take a while to get here.

MERCEDES: Whereís my Julio?! Has anybody seen my Julio?!

NEIGHBOR 2: No.

MERCEDES: (She shakes NEIGHBOR 1) Have you seen my Julio?

NEIGHBOR 1: No, Mercedes. Take it easy. Iím sure he got out.

MERCEDES: You saw him?

NEIGHBOR 1: No. Isnít he out playing with his friends? (She pushes him out of the way, and tries to run into the building.) Hey, be careful! Itís getting pretty bad in there!

MERCEDES: (Emerges in a moment) Carajo! The stairwayís blocked. Thereís flames everywhere!

NEIGHBOR 3: Mercedes, are you all right? Did you get burned?

NEIGHBOR 1: Iím sure heís all right.

JULIO: (A little boy in a sweater comes to the window, heís trapped behind a window guard) Mama! Mama! Help me! Itís a big fire!

MERCEDES: Julio! Julio, carajo! Mary, Mother of Jesus, my babyís up there!

NEIGHBOR 1: Jesus Christ!

NEIGHBOR 2: Oh my God!

EW: Hijo de puta! Thereís a kid up there!

MERCEDES: (Screams two times. Neighbors comfort her.)

NEIGHBOR 1: Julio, donít open the door to the hallway! Is the door closed?

(JULIO begins to cry)

NEIGHBOR 1: Is there smoke?

NEIGHBOR 2: Yes, thereís smoke coming out of the window!

NEIGHBOR 1: Stay by the window! Does somebody have a ladder?

EW: (Transfixed, adoringly) Look at him - in his little sweater.

(MERCEDES pushes everybody away and tries to run into the building again)

NEIGHBOR 2: Mercedes! Stop! Wait for the fire department! You canít get up that way! Somebody - check the back! (Neighbor 3 runs off stage to look for another way up)

EW: Look at him - in his little sweater.

MERCEDES: (She staggers back, away from the door. People rush to help her.) Itís an inferno! I canít get up! Julio! Julio!

JULIO: Mama! Mama! Help me!

MERCEDES: Somebody help me! Help my son!

NEIGHBOR 1: Maybe Don Esteban has a ladder! Heís always on his roof, fiddling with his "Spanish tiles"! (He rushes off)

(Consuelo and Javier now "go down the stairs" to the street to join the crowd)

MERCEDES: God damn it, isnít there a man among you? My sonís up there!

NEIGHBOR 2: The fire departmentís on the way.

MERCEDES: By that time heíll be burned alive!

JULIO: Mama! Mama!

MERCEDES: Stay by the window, baby! Help is on the way!

(NEIGHBOR 4, a brave man, tries to rush up the stairs)

NEIGHBORS: Careful! Careful!

(In a moment Neighbor 4 returns, swatting his shirt as if to put out the beginnings of a fire)

MERCEDES: My baby???

NEIGHBOR 4: Mam, nobody can make it up there. Itís Hell on earth. Thatís why they invented firemen, god damn it!

MERCEDES: Julio!

JULIO: Mama!

EW: (Deploring his inaction, to Javier) This should make an interesting chapter in your novel.

JAVIER: Iíll check the back! (He bumps into NEIGHBOR 3, returning)

NEIGHBOR 3: I just checked the back. Thereís no way up.

JAVIER: Iíll check again. (He disappears off stage)

MERCEDES: (Screams) Julio! My baby! Somebody, save my baby! (She collapses into a neighborís arm, and crumples to her knees) Please, Mother of God, save my baby!

NEIGHBORS: Maria, Jesus, Dios el Padre, please save the baby. Itís in your hands now.

NEIGHBOR 3: Where the hell are the firemen? Do they have to put air in their tires?

NEIGHBOR 2: And paint the truck?

NEIGHBORS: Maria, Jesus, Dios el Padre, please save the baby. Itís in your hands now.

(Julioís cries are becoming more intense. Consuelo starts to run towards the building, then, is suddenly jerked back. She staggers, then pushes forward, as though pulling a great weight. People begin to look at her. Sheís jerked back, again, and ends up on her butt on the ground. She begins to crawl towards the door, struggling against the resistance.)

NEIGHBOR 3: Who the hell is she?

NEIGHBOR 2: Whatís she doing?

NEIGHBOR 1: (Returning) Don Estebanís not home! But his big dog is! I canít get near his shed, which is locked anyway!

NEIGHBOR 4: Letís find a policeman.

NEIGHBOR 1: To do what? Arrest the dog?

NEIGHBOR 4: Shoot it. (They go)

EW: (Still struggling, increasingly becoming the center of the scene) Donít stop me! Donít stop me, Baldy! Itís a kid! God damn it, itís a kid!

NEIGHBOR 3: Sheís crazy.

NEIGHBOR 2: Just what we need - no firemen, and a nut!

MERCEDES: Somebody - my baby! Help me! (As people continue to comfort her, and pray around her)

EW: Donít you worry, Julio! Iím going to get you out of there!

NEIGHBORS: What? What? Who is she? Whatís she talking about? Look, woman, will you just get out of the way, this is bad enough!

(Consuelo keeps struggling, trying to enter the building, pitting her will against Baldyís)

EW: Let me in, you bastard! Let me in!

NEIGHBOR 3: Didnít I see you on the bus one day?

EW: No, Baldy! I wonít be stopped!

NEIGHBOR 3: Sheís the woman who went crazy on the bus!

EW: What's wrong, afraid your toy will break?  Son of a bitch!  Just pull the god-damned machine out of the ashes, if that's what you want! How can you let him die like that? No! You built a barbed wire fence around everything else in the world. I wonít let you build it around this little boy. Stop holding me back!  Let me help him!

NEIGHBOR 3: Sheís insane!

NEIGHBOR 2: Drag her away from here, sheís only going to get in the way!

(Consuelo rises, and fights the neighbors off)

NEIGHBORS: Oh my God! Holy shit! She must be a transvestite, no girl hits like that! I think my nose is broken!

EW: (To Baldy) Let me go! Let me go! (She struggles towards the door. She clutches her head and screams) Go on, give it your best shot! I wonít stop! (Screams again) Julio, Iím coming!

NEIGHBOR 2: Miss, nobody can get up there! The fire! Itís too hot!

EW: (Gritting her teeth) I wonít stop, Baldy. The sea! The sea!

NEIGHBOR 2: Stop, woman! The stairs are collapsing!

EW: The sea has such giant waves. Itís so strong, until it washes up on the land; it reaches the end of its power.

NEIGHBOR 2: Burning crap is falling from the ceiling!

EW: Injustice exaggerates itself to impotence. (She screams repeatedly)

NEIGHBOR 3: She must be overdosing on something.

EW: Turcio couldnít beat you! Julio can! Julio and Mercedes - you bastard!

(MERCEDES rises to her feet to look at Consuelo, as Consuelo finally lunges forward into the doorway.)

MERCEDES: (Hopeful, bewildered) My son - my sonÖ

NEIGHBOR 2: Donít build your hopes up, Mercedes, either she comes running out of there in one minute, empty-handed like everybody else, or else she finds out what itís like to be Joan of Arc.

MERCEDES: Joan of Arc performed miracles before they burned her.

NEIGHBOR 2: The fire department. Where are they, god damn it!?

(Silence, except for the prayer of the crowd. Julio and Consuelo are now both out of sight)

NEIGHBOR 2: Where is she?

NEIGHBOR 3: Whereís the boy?

MERCEDES: Please God, donít let me down. I know you work through people.

NEIGHBOR 2: No one can get through there. She was brave.

MERCEDES: Donít say "was." Iím a mother, and my sonís life depends on her, you coward!

NEIGHBOR 2: No one could get up there.

JAVIER: (Returns, exhausted and disheveled) Thereís no way through the back. I tried. I think Iím burned. Itís like a nightmare I once had of being cremated. (Looks around) Whereís my friend? Consuelo! Consuelo!

NEIGHBOR 3: If thatís the name of the crazy one, sheís in there (points).

JAVIER: What? You said it was impossible to get in that way.

NEIGHBOR 2: It is.

JAVIER: Consuelo! Consuelo! (He rushes in, and after a minute comes staggering back out.) Jesus Christ! Consuelo! You must be wrong, she couldnít be in there!

NEIGHBOR 3: We saw her go in.

MERCEDES: (Dreamy) Sheís going to save my child.

JAVIER: Consuelo!

(Suddenly, Consuelo staggers out, holding something in a wet blanket. They all rush forward to her. Consuelo hands the object in the blanket to Mercedes, and collapses. The crowd gathers around, as Mercedes takes off the blanket, to reveal her traumatized son)

MERCEDES: Julio! Julio!

JULIO: (Crying) Mami! Mami!

MERCEDES: My babyís alive! My babyís alive!

(Meanwhile, as this group of people continues to look over the boy, to check him out and celebrate his return, another part of the crowd has dragged Consuelo apart, and is rolling her around and slapping out flames)

NEIGHBORS and JAVIER: Put out the fire! Her clothes! Her hair! Smoke is coming from her head.

JAVIER: Consuelo! Consuelo!

NEIGHBORS: Her hairís still on fire!

JAVIER: No, the fireís out.

NEIGHBOR 5: Thereís smoke coming from her head.

JAVIER: Jesus Christ! Thereís a hole in her head. (Enter Baldy and MR on a run) The smokeís coming from the inside.

NEIGHBOR 5: Who shot her? It looks like someone shot her in the head. Bloodís pouring out!

JAVIER: (Agonizing) Consuelo! Consuelo!

NEIGHBOR 6: Jesus Christ, it must have been a rifle! What a hole! Look, you can see part of the bullet.

JAVIER: (Stunned) Itís not a bullet - itís a wire. Jesus Christ! Thereís something in her head! Itís true!

BALDY: (To MR): The system overloaded. Resistance was too high.

MR: A power surge?

BALDY: Override drew too much voltage. She drove it past its capability. They didnít say this could happen!

MR: She blew the side of her head out - from the inside.

BALDY: They didnít say this could happen! Incompetents!

JAVIER: Sheís smiling. Thereís a smile on her face. One great act has frozen her into an angel. Thatís what sheíll be for the rest of time.

MR: Youíve lost your asset. (Baldy urgently pushes his way past the people to Javier and Consuelo, as MR follows him more casually. After looking for a moment, MR repeats) Youíve lost your asset.

BALDY: Incompetents!

MR: Growing pains.

BALDY: They didnít tell me this could happen!

JAVIER: I didnít get to say good-bye. Why didnít I make time to love you?! What will I ever write that could compare to sharing my life with you? The road not taken. A destiny killed by ink. No, but I wasnít good enough for you, Consuelo. Trust me. You were too good for me, this lonely path was the inevitable creation of your beauty. Sweet, smiling face amidst the blood. (He gently sets her down, and stands up to face Baldy and MR.) She beat you.

MR: We are figments of your imagination. Anything you touch, King Midas, you turn into something unbelievable. Go on, write about us. Maybe you can publish your book in France. Spit at us from behind Daddyís usefulness.

JAVIER: (Smiling, above them now) She beat you. Say what you want, she beat you. Despise me as you wish, Iím not the point, she beat you. You will be beaten. Thereís something in us you cannot break.

MR: A few adjustments, thatís all. Test planes are always crashing. Weíll get it right next time. (Looks at Baldy) Back to the drawing board.

BALDY: (Looks at Javier) Iím sorry for our loss.

JAVIER: Bastard!

(Police now arrive on the scene)

BALDY: Officers, isolate this body please. Youíre to bring it back to the Military Hospital of La Plata, attention of Dr. Escipion Melendez Gott. (He hands them a paper) No one is to examine the body until then. Donít let anyone look at her, or touch her. If anyone gives you any trouble, shoot to kill.

JAVIER: She beat you, Baldy.

BALDY: She called me that. You canít.

JAVIER: She beat you, Baldy. (He pushes aside the police, bends down to Consuelo one last time, and kisses her, then stands. We see him wipe away a tear. As he walks away, after parting the police again, he says) We won. We won.

 

THE END

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