ACT IVScene 1
(Spotlights rise on UJC in front of a barred window,
talking on a desk phone, JONAH and FEY standing at a public phone
kiosk in Lafayette Park, and NORMAN, in the same position he was
in at the end of Scene 3. NORMAN performs EIGHTH LAW OF
NORMAN: "In a modern technological society, with
overkill 50, no man can survive on his own. The narrow
perspective of the hunter-soldier-entrepreneur must give way to
the extended overview of the non-establishment social thinker."
(Turns to observe; spotlight on NORMAN fades out.)
FEY: (On phone)
"Well, dear, we're still trying to find you an attorney who cares
more about justice than money. Everyone we've contacted just
'doesn't have the time.' Listen, love, I have to go climb a tree
-- Jonah will tell you about it. 'Bye!"
(Hands phone to JONAH, and exits.)
JONAH: "Hi. How are you?"
UJC: "Have been better and could be worse."
JONAH: "I'll bet. It's the strangest thing. These
attorneys all swear you've been wronged, but no one wants to take
on your case! One guy told me, 'This sort of thing happens all
the time. If we defended every indigent who was stuck away in
St. E's, that's all we'd ever do -- and we'd starve.' And of
course Chizzum won't relinquish your Court-paid fee voluntarily.
So there you sit, rotting for four months, pickled by drugs ...
how are you bearing up?"
UJC: "I could certainly do without their chemicals.
I can't see, stand, or think straight. Can't do much but sit
around like a zombie."
JONAH: "What kind of 'therapy' do they use -- other
than drugs, that is?"
UJC: "What therapy? Mostly we play cards, watch
TV, once in a while we have so-called 'group sessions' consisting
of training on court procedure to make us 'competent.'"
JONAH: "How do they do that?"
UJC: "They give us a list of questions and the
answers to memorize so we can play our parts in court.... What's
this about Fey climbing a tree?"
JONAH: "She's disgusted by the lack of interest
shown by the press, thinks maybe she can get some attention paid
to your plight by doing something radical ... short of violence.
So she's 'up a tree till UJC is free!'"
UJC: (Laughs.) "I'm afraid she may get
pretty cold before she comes down."
JONAH: "Yeah. If they let her stay. Which is
UJC: (Turns to respond to someone speaking to him
"Time's up? Gotta go, Jonah. I'll try to call tomorrow. Same
JONAH: "Sure. Give it a try. Maybe I'll still be
around to answer."
UJC: "Why? Are you planning on going someplace?"
JONAH: "Who knows? I may be in there with you!"
(Light fades on JONAH and UJC as it rises on FEY, dressed in
a ski suit, wrapped in a blanket, sitting on the branch of the
sycamore tree. A hammock hangs from a higher branch. At the
base of the tree lean hand-lettered signs which tell UJC's story.
SPOOFNER stands under the tree, just beneath reach of a bright
blue banner which reads "HELP US FREE UJC -- UJC IS NOT CRAZY!"
NORMAN stands in shadows. MONK sits nearby. HESTER, wrapped up
again in plastic and looking quite frazzled, is muttering darkly,
fidgeting with her bags heaped in the wheelchair, and
surreptitiously swigging from a bottle of vodka. Pedestrians
gather around the tree and listen to the conversation. A
reporter jots notes. A news photographer takes a few flash
photos up into the tree, then exits.)
SPOOFNER: "Mrs. Jonah, I've been instructed to
inform you that you are under arrest for camping as well as
general injury and attachment to a tree."
FEY: (Laughs.) "Yes, indeed, after seven
days I'm growing mighty attached to this tree! It's like an old
horse.... Tell your 'superiors,' Officer Spoofner, that I'm
fully aware of their opinion of my behavior, since you're the
fourth official to tell me."
SPOOFNER: "Fine. No hard feelings. Just doing my
FEY: "Me, too."
SPOOFNER: (Looks at her solemnly and nods.)
"How long are you going to stay up there?"
FEY: "Until UJC is standing at the base of the
tree, telling me to come down. Or until you folks come up after
me. But in that case either I or the tree may be injured -- not
by me, of course -- and I'm sure you don't want to hurt either
one of us, do you, Officer Spoofner? In fact, wouldn't you like
to develop your character and become a moral human being? Why
don't you climb this tree and join me in my protest? You ARE the
one who put our friend in a mental institution, after all."
SPOOFNER: "I WHAT? What are you talking about?"
FEY: "UJC, of course."
SPOOFNER: "What do you mean?"
FEY: "Who do you think UJC is? Haven't you been
listening? You arrested him nearly five months ago -- he's been
locked up with killers and rapists in the criminal ward of St.
E's -- near the President's own attempted assassin -- for simply
lying on a blanket in front of a sign. Despite all our efforts
to get the interest of the press, lawyers, other judges, he's
still there, pumped full of Prolixin against his will, declared
'indefinitely incompetent' to stand trial by a judge who's
covering up. THAT's why I'm up this tree, Spoofner. Because
what happened to UJC COULD happen to me -- and, ultimately, you
... unless we stop them."
SPOOFNER: "Especially if I climb that tree."
FEY: "If enough of us climbed trees maybe they'd
stop locking us up! That's what I'd like to see -- every tree in
Lafayette Park and Washington, DC full of the homeless,
protesting. Can't you see it? They'd NEVER have enough cherry
pickers to get us all down! We could hop and run from one tree
to the next! Let's all climb for UJC!"
MONK: "Yeah. What could they do? Shoot us?"
(HESTER, who's been fidgeting with her bags, looks up.)
HESTER: "I ain't climbin' no tree -- 'specially for
UJC -- he's nuts! And I got better things to do."
MONK: "Why do you say he's nuts?"
HESTER: "Well, the shrinks SAY so. Why else would
he be in so long?"
MONK: "You believe THEM? Have you ever TALKED to a
HESTER: (Defensively) "Sure. Had a nervous
breakdown. Six months they kept me."
MONK: "What makes you think you had a nervous
HESTER: "Well, that's what they CALLED it -- what
the hell, what're you grillin' ME for?"
FEY: "He's not grilling you, Hester. Do YOU think
you had a nervous breakdown?"
HESTER: "What else would you call it? I couldn't
HESTER: "Nobody would listen to me! At least THEY
listened, them shrinks -- when I got to see 'em. Tried to make
me think like somebody I'm not, though.... Didn't have much luck
at THAT, I'll say!"
MONK: "No? How do you know?"
HESTER: "Leave me alone! Haven't I got enough to
worry about, with AC hurtin' again?"
(Bursts into tears.)
"I'm goin' back down on the grates, warm up with some REAL
friends who don't put me through the third degree...."
(She loads her bags on the wheelchair and begins to shove it
"...damn, damn, what'm I gonna do...."
(Pedestrians part to let her through. LUTHER enters and sees
LUTHER: "Hey, Hester, didja see AC? He's lookin'
for you -- he spent the night over on the Bernard Baruch bench,
middle of the park...."
HESTER: "What? You mean they kicked him out of the
hospital only a week after open heart surgery?"
LUTHER: "It sure looks like it."
HESTER: "Where'd they think he was gonna go?"
(Excited.) "Show me!"
(They exit together. LAW
STUDENT steps forward, addresses FEY in the tree.)
LAW STUDENT: "You've been up there seven days? How
do you go to the bathroom?" (Other pedestrians laugh; she
FEY: "Discreetly." (More laughter.)
"Honestly. Did you know one McDonald's cup of coffee makes two
McDonald's cups of urine?"
LAW STUDENT: "You mean you haven't come down ONCE
in seven days?"
FEY: "No. I'm under arrest when I do. There's a
guard posted 24 hours a day, watching for my descent. A
remarkable waste of taxpayer's money, I must say. I have no
intention of coming down until our friend is free!"
LAW STUDENT: "Isn't it cold?"
FEY: "It gets brisk. But I don't mind. It's been
a spiritual awakening..." (Sounds of ambulance and trucks
drown out FEY's voice. Jet flies overhead. She wrinkles her
nose, covers her ears, and shouts over the noise.) "...if a
little hard on the vocal chords!"
LAW STUDENT: "Look, I'm a law student. I have a
professor who takes civil liberties cases. Can you tell me more
about this UJC?"
(JONAH enters, a sheaf of papers in hand.)
FEY: "Here's my husband. He can answer your
questions. Maybe you can give him some advice on the civil
lawsuit he's writing, too. -- Jonah, would you take over for me,
please? I'm getting hoarse."
(Starts to climb up to the hammock. REPORTER steps for-
REPORTER: "Wait. Before you disappear. Are you
going to stay up there all winter too?"
FEY: "God willing, I'll stay here as long as
REPORTER: "Where will you go when you come down?"
FEY: "After jail? Well, hopefully to the home of a
gallant friend for a long, soaking bath."
(Crowd is amused. Suddenly a S.W.A.T. team sweeps onstage,
wearing camouflage, clutching teargas cartridges in their hands.
FEY leaps up, the blanket dropping to the ground as she climbs as
high as she can go.)
FEY: "Whoops! Here we go!! HELP US FREE UJC! UJC
IS NOT CRAZY!"
(All characters onstage freeze and observe FEY being dragged
out of the tree. Her ski suit is ripped as one cop pulls her
down. As soon as she has been roughly carried, limp but vocal,
offstage, JONAH picks up the blanket and jumps into the tree.
SPOOFNER grabs for his leg, but misses.)
SPOOFNER: "MISTER Jonah! YOU can't do that!"
JONAH: "No? I already have! HELP US FREE UJC!
UJC IS NOT CRAZY!"
SPOOFNER: "But it's against regulations!"
JONAH: "Not GOD's regulations. HELP US FREE UJC!"
(S.W.A.T. team returns, two climb tree after JONAH, who tosses
the blanket over them, twists, nearly falls, but manages to jump
agilely to the ground. Remaining S.W.A.T. officer(s) cuff
him and drag him offstage. SPOOFNER, MONK, and LAW STUDENT stand
looking at each other as other pedestrians nervously
SPOOFNER: "Well? Is there anyone else?"
MONK: "Not me. I don't like DC jail. Too many
LAW STUDENT: "I think they're more in need of
lawyers right now."
(Exits hurriedly. SPOOFNER is left
standing alone onstage; lights fade to spotlight on SPOOFNER,
spotlight rises on NORMAN. SPOOFNER looks thoughtfully at the
tree, the park, out at the audience toward the White House.)
SPOOFNER: "I wonder.... No. They'd think the
pressure cracked me. I'd be right in there with UJC and the
(Looks up at tree.)
"...No. I'd lose my job. A job's a job, no matter what you
think of it -- gotta pay them bills...."
(Starts to pace.)
"I WAS naive enough to think by joining the force I could save
the world -- once. I would be a 'peace officer' -- defender of
"But what do they have me doing? Putting people in mental
institutions for sleeping, off to jail you go for lying on a park
bench? Court -- couldn't for the life of me remember what had
happened, my first arrest, I was so nervous ... so they sat me
down and told me what to say on the stand.... He went to
(Long pause as he paces.)
"Oh, he was GUILTY, all right, sure as shit he had the nickle bag
of pot ... so I went home and took my girl to a party and ended
up smoking some pot myself, and didn't I feel fine...."
(pause) "They'll probably try the same thing with me this
time, too, if UJC gets to trial, tell me what to say.... I had
(He shouts at the sky.)
"I HAD NO IDEA! ... I'm just a newt in a poisoned pond, and don't
even know WHY!!!"
(NORMAN, dressed in ski coat, steps out of the shadows.)
NORMAN: "Hello, Spoofner."
(SPOOFNER cocks his head as if to an inner voice.)
"How's your spirit, friend?"
"See any way out?"
(SPOOFNER looks up at the tree.)
SPOOFNER: "Yeah. I haven't climbed a tree in
years. Wonder if I lost the knack."
(Unloads his gun and drops it, pocketing the bullets; rethinks
and reholsters the gun, still unloaded; takes off his badge and
drops it; grabs the first limb.)
"I USED to climb higher than anyone on the block...."
(A brilliant flash of light enguls the stage, then darkness.
The face of a laughing child materializes on the screen as
SPOOFNER, silhouetted, begins slowly, methodically to climb.)
Peace Park Page | Proposition One