© Copyright John Hessburg & The Diction Aerie. All rights reserved.
(This text is an aggregate of rough drafts reworked in late 2016 & 2017. The intro before Act One is meant to help theater-goers nestle into the premise while awaiting the curtain.)
It is January of 2016, in a smoky bistro in the heart of Cologne, Germany, hard on the heels of the Paris Massacre last November and the Mass Violation of German Women on Dec. 31, 2015.
On Nov. 13, 2015 -- France's 9-11 watershed -- 130 people were shot to death when Islamist extremists loyal to ISIS, armed with assault rifles, attacked six night spots including a Paris concert hall -- the Bataclan. This was the deadliest event in France since World War II, news agencies and police confirmed.
Then the New Years Eve attacks in Cologne, Frankfurt and Hamburg made headlines all around the world. These riots, fueled by hundreds of drunken young men, many of whom police identified as refugees from North Africa, were a bitter irony given the open-door immigration policy for which German Chancellor Angela Merkel is renowned, and for which only days earlier she'd been honored as Time Magazine's Person of the Year. Historians and sociologists have labeled this New Year's Eve attack among the worst mass sexual assaults in Germany since the Russian Army sacked Berlin at the close of World War II.
Now, it is a quiet Saturday night in Cologne -- no wind, no rain, no sirens wailing. Only the vacuum of an aftermath.
All tables at Walpurgis Nacht Cafe' are filled with self-aware hipsters, cool as tart gelati, in their mid-20s to early 40s. The atmosphere is dimly lit yet alive with soft jazz and subdued but earnest chatter. Nobody is smiling, not even the waiters. Except one dark-haired college lad -- his name is Dieter.
Through windows you can see two streetlights casting a pale glow over light fog gathering on the street. A large old-fashioned clock on the wall shows 9:12 pm. The hands of that clock will never move throughout the play. Nobody is moving on the streets outside.
Dieter the waiter is grinning with a sly uncanny warmth, as if he knows tonight that something wonderful might happen...
* * * * * * * * * * *
Cast of Characters:
JoJo -- Female lead. She's a 36-year-old college professor, fit and self-assured, razor smart with a raw beauty -- natural platinum blonde -- as devastating to women as it is to men. Her mind and disposition first kindle then start to wither nearly everyone she meets. She's never married; never allowed herself to fall completely for any man or woman; but she's starting to feel an instinct stir. Still she's nearly at peace -- seldom mentioning "the biological clock" to women friends -- the few who tolerate her longer than a lunch hour. JoJo is given to long tropical trips, or ski weekends, often by herself. Sometimes she pretends to enjoy these trips, the ones involving jetliners. Other kinds are more her style as she slaps back daily at depression, and at reaching age 40. Most days she will win convincingly. Or so it seems. However, she cannot remember even the season of the last time she made love to anyone.
Caudillo -- Male lead. His Argentine name is pronounced "Cow-DEE-zho." The "zho" conveys the same "j" sound as the French word "je." He's a 40-something writer with a night-owl streak and an IQ north of 170, who's afraid of nothing but old age and mediocrity. Caudillo is half player, half warmly naive boy and he trusts no woman he has ever met. Yet he savors the few he's loved with the loaded focus and devotion some men reserve for a prized cognac, or a prime portfolio. He is heir to an Argentine cattle fortune, who says sincerely that he requires nothing from anyone alive, but would love to learn how, even some day soon. Maybe from a woman who would bear his idiosyncrasies enough to also bear his children. He knows his vanity is epic, but it is so easy, like deerskin slippers -- soft, pliable, broken in for years. Caudillo fears he'll need to learn altruism of his own free will, before loss and regret march up to teach him. That pressure both fascinates and angers him. So he craves distraction, adrenal detours on the road of introspection, the company of luminous minds, risk takers, folks who relish electricity in a fine dialogue. Sex is omnipresent and tolerable most of the time. Sleep is neither.
Neo-Greek Chorus -- At first they are speaking from the shadows at side-stage. There are three chorus members.
The tallest by half a meter is Alpha Dog, whose gender is ambiguous, and who's wearing a large Janus mask -- two faces staring in opposite directions. On the back side is a stern bottle-blonde Hitler with his mustache also brilliant blonde. On the front side is Angela Merkel with her melancholy basset gaze. The Hitler face has eyes of an impossibly vivid electric blue, while the Merkel face has bright green eyes -- equally intense.
Alpha Dog is draped in a floor-length cone of stiff fabric with the bottom third all black and the top two-thirds bright white. The arms are hidden inside Alpha's cone. When Alpha moves, a tight spotlight -- softly with no glare -- follows the Janus mask like a miracle sun-break poking through heavy storm clouds.
There are stiff conical skirts for each of the two shorter chorus members -- Beta Boy and Beta Babe. These skirts show twisted stripes of alternating black and white like upside-down soft-serve ice cream cones. The heads of the Betas, smooth as ivory cue balls, are covered by white ski masks with an Internet emoticon for a face -- the "winking eye" of a semi-colon then a right parenthesis. There's an ample gap in each Beta's mask for their lips to show when they speak. Their arms are free to gesture.
Beta Babe narrates Caudillo's back story and hints at his emotions tonight, while Beta Boy delivers the same clues about JoJo. Alpha Dog shares key setting details and an omniscient third-person narrative. Alpha may be a detached observer -- or maybe a master puppeteer -- who's manipulating most events tonight in the Walpurgis Nacht Cafe'.
Alpha Dog never walks but seems to glide eerily across the stage as if levitating a few centimeters off the floor. In contrast, both Betas walk robo-comically when they move. Tight spotlights follow all three chorus members for the entire play, except the final moments at the back doorway, when all lights disappear.
All extras -- the door men, bartender, waiters, other patrons, will pantomime their roles but never speak -- except the thin young waiter with a mop of curly black hair, who attends to JoJo and Caudillo with amazing devotion.
He is Dieter the Doter.
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ACT 1, SCENE 1 -- (During this narrative prelude, JoJo and Caudillo sit at their table behind a 3-sided gauzy translucent screen, which hides a clear view of their faces. Their table is in highlight, center stage. You can see them sipping wine, smoking, appearing to chat and gesture with enthusiasm. But they make no sound. Only the chorus will speak at first, unraveling their back story in fine detail.)
Alpha Dog -- Walpurgis Nacht Café has a rebel-indie vibe and is more of a tony private club than a bar. Like a speakeasy it is open seven nights a week until 5 am. The patrons all have passed an initiation rite in a murky downstairs room that’s been a back-alley legend in Cologne for decades. Called the "Green Room," it is lit by only two bare green bulbs on the high ceiling. The walls and floor are seamless smooth concrete, cold and dry; and there’s only one piece of furniture in the middle – a massive oaken table -- round and well-worn at the rim, and stained the color of dark boot leather. A Waterford crystal decanter with 6 glasses in a row, each sparkling clean and large enough to hold a tennis ball, rule the tabletop like sullen sentries.
Beta Boy -- The club’s initiation rite is tongue-in-cheek, but it gives some first-timers the shivers. Often, college girls refuse to come here on a first date -- they've heard the lore -- and they're leery. The rite involves a glass of warm absinthe and the left hand placed atop Kafka’s Collected Works, while reciting in perfect cadence, word for word, the greeting code for the doorman. Once a patron finishes this rite, they'll likely never visit the Green Room again. But they'll never stop wondering what else goes on down there. Rumors are rich, racy, mostly wrong.
Beta Babe -- Each of the two doorways to the bistro is guarded by a large square-shouldered man, dressed in a black fedora and dark sunglasses, long brown beard trimmed to a neat arrowhead point, and a dark burgundy suit with black shirt and tie. Both men are nearly 200 cm tall & weigh no less than 110 kg. Though they seldom speak, and only as you enter, they bristle with a glare that says, "You'll never mess with me."
Beta Boy -- The bistro owner, a shadowy figure in a quasi-legal world, never calls his doormen “bouncers.” Rather, they are known as “counselors."
Alpha Dog -- The German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen has some of the country’s toughest laws against smoking in public places. Yet patrons of Walpurgis Nacht, never skipping a beat, have puffed away to their heart’s content forever. That’s because the owner, who's respected – even feared – by local cops and council members, hired a pitbull lawyer to win an exception to the laws forbidding smoking in a bistro. The lawyer found a loophole that bars a city from forbidding smoking in any locale where “palliative or psychological care” is given to patients. That is correct. Thus, the business plan of the bistro owner labels all his customers as "patients."
Beta Boy -- So, when stuffed-shirt enviros from the local Green Party mounted a legal challenge, the owner -- a man whose face Walpurgis employees never see, who comes to work in a floor-length woolen robe as white as summit snow, with a heavy hood obscuring all but his moving lips -- sent four of his largest "counselors" to suggest the enviros would be wise to drop their case by sundown. Which they did -- even sooner.
Alpha Dog -- As you enter the café from the street you'll see a sign above the door, wood-burned into a heavy oaken plaque in old Germanic font – “Rekindle Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.” And every patron who passes through that doorway seems happy, proud and grateful to enter Walpurgis Nacht, the city’s social nerve center – locus of all blithe spirits for the cognoscenti – the happening place in New Cologne.
Beta Babe -- And as you walk up, the doorman always says to you, prompting the pass-code dialogue, “Good evening sir (or ma’am). Please tell me – how was your day today?”
Beta Boy -- And you will answer, “Quite good, but filled with stress. I'm tired and I need to recharge; please tell me what’s the secret of a tranquil life?”
Beta Babe -- “Prefer the welfare of another above your own; and prove it every day.”
Beta Boy -- "Well thank you.”
Beta Babe -- “You're more than welcome. You are blessed.”
Beta Boy -- Then the doorman says, "you may pass" and waves you in, pausing to rub one of your shoulders for a couple seconds. But he never cracks a smile. Not ever.
Alpha Dog -- The steel-gray walls of Walpurgis Nacht Cafe' are bristling with toplit poster prints of German Expressionists from Emil Nolde's nightmare masks to the tense alluring semi-clads of Christian Schad and Otto Dix. Front and center is a round table with an empty bottle of fine Austrian Pinot Noir, a 2012 Anton Bauer Reserve; and there is an unmarried couple hunkered down, working on a second. JoJo and Caudillo seem to relish each other's company and periodically each will lean into the table, over one elbow, toward the other. But neither the man nor woman will flirt overtly. Both are smoking and their eye contact is strictly business, most of the time. Or is it? For now at least, they are focused on a test of wills and debating skills.
Dieter the Doter, their thin young waiter, hovers nearby, darting in and out of their awareness zone, as much to scavenge fragments of their conversation as to serve them with due diligence. Dieter notices that folks at nearby tables are tuning into their conversation too, as it gathers odd momentum, unrelated to the rate their wine is sipped.
There's something about these two...
* * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 1, SCENE 2 -- ( The highlight on their table now grows brighter, while light on the bar and other tables dims. All chatter in the bistro stops, like birds at the instant of a total solar eclipse. For the first time, the clear resonant voices of JoJo and Caudillo can be heard distinctly, though still behind the screen... )
JoJo -- I know, I know... it's all anyone is talking about today; it's like a pandemic of influenza everywhere. I am so damn sick of all the perky pale young TV pundits calling for calm and understanding. I want to get involved but I'm feeling tired, and a little scared to tell the truth. Well maybe more furious than scared. I don't know, Caudillo, I don't want to spoil the evening...
Caudillo -- No worries now. Todo esta' tranquilo, che'. I brought you articles, right here, in Die Zeit, Die Welt and The Local. ( He slaps a sheaf of newspapers on the table. ) So much to sort through, but we've got all evening. Say... know what I was thinking, more like day-dreaming today as I took my morning jog along the Rhein?
Jojo -- ( in a tone of subtly sad sarcasm. ) Oh let me guess; you're jetting out to Zermatt again for a week of telemark skiing? Or maybe that idiotic stunt you've threatened a couple times when drinking Jaeger -- whoosh! -- up the North Wall of the Eiger?
Caudillo -- Heavens no, JoJo. Remember, I've just turned 40. A little wisdom grows like moss on this old trunk.... Papa' always said, "Death is nature's way of suggesting you slow down." What I was wondering is: wouldn't it be fun to simply toss all this stress and mess of daily desk jobs then move to Paris, lease a little space close to the tower, maybe on Avenue de Suffren, and start a wildly unique new nightclub -- I'm serious as a lance in mid-arc, JoJo. A crazy beautiful place for beautiful sane people who read, who think, who care about what's real and don't pretend. I'm imagining only the finest wines and snacks, desserts to die for, all freshly made each day, and music soaring everywhere, from Mozart and Chopin to Neil Young and Pearl Jam to, to...
JoJo -- ( Her voice is gathering excitement. ) ... Mahavishnu Orchestra, Thundercat, Goat Rodeo and Yes...
( She sings a few bars. ) "Starship Trooper, go sailing right on by-y-y"... oh and Santana, and how about...
Caudillo -- Lou Reed, Led Zep and everything Bossa Nova by Gilberto and Jobim. Gotta play some Adele, and plenty of Chance the Rapper too. But zero Kayne.
JoJo -- Absolutely, zero Kanye. And no Nicki Minaj. Strictly a Kitsch-Free Zone. No silicone nor cheek implants -- at either end.
Caudillo -- Only the best and brightest chefs. And an ace sommelier dashing everywhere like some genius performance artist on high-test Starbuck doubles.
JoJo -- And we'd have to, um, I mean you'd have to weed out all the posers, the losers, the molly freaks. But how, without warping democracy a little? Would you have your own admission ritual, even more disturbing than the Green Room here?
Caudillo -- Not a chance. We'd do it all by inference, like a mammoth Jedi mind trick. Can you see it, JoJo -- two huge posters in elegant frames just as folks walk in: Rocky Balboa with arms aloft in victory, then Idi Amin in a Scottish kilt. And on the back wall there'd be cartoon characters from Loony Tunes, then Nosferatu the vampire, some creepy Reddit memes, maybe Tiny Tim and Vladimir Putin side-by-side. That kitsch collage would be like mosquito coils, it would drive all posers howling out the door.
JoJo -- Leaving only secular humanists, pacifists and nihilists, friendly contemplators of the deep dark Void... The kinds of folks you could take home to Mom, or to your 12-step group. What fun! But hey, get this -- what if that pesky reality intrudes? What if angel-headed hipsters show up, smirking? Not the kind who reek of P.C. purity, but you know; maybe they bathe every day, tithe to the Green Party and display bumper stickers like "Bees Are People Too?"
Caudillo -- No worries, JoJo; got that covered. Smack dab in the middle of the place, well-lit, up on a huge pillar, high where everyone can see it -- I'd put a... we'd put a poster showing a vast mixing bowl filled with green peas, and a huge wooden spoon jutting from the bowl with swirly marks around it, like it's in fast motion. And under this image are these words -- in blazing red -- "VISUALIZE WHIRLED PEAS!"
JoJo -- That'll do just fine!
Alpha Dog -- The posers, freaks and chemo-geeks would wilt like fiddle-head ferns in the mid-day sun. Their shame would be like a wicked drug, burning from the inside out. Oh the humanity -- to know you're a passe' wannabe, so vividly unwanted...
JoJo -- Bam, boom, todo bien. Battle won without a single shot fired. The vamps and voguers, they'd all need Xanax and Viagra for a week after they leave. It's all so lovely; the dream is gathering steam... But what'll we, 'er what'll you, call the place?
Caudillo -- I'm thinking we'll have this stellar view, maybe like La Terrasse at Hotel Raphael in Paris -- so let's just do it. We can name it "Eyeful of Eiffel."
JoJo -- Awful. Perfect.
Caudillo -- Exactly! A home for refugees from urban spirit blight, a sanctuary for nihilists. But only the sincere ones. So what are we here, kindred spirits or what?
JoJo -- ( Her voice stiffening a bit, simmers down. ) Uh, not so fast Cowboy... you're forgetting one big item. Every hip and happening locale must have its signature drink. But they've all been picked. Nada, nichts, nothing new left under the sun...
Caudillo -- Not so. Got that covered too -- I'm serious as a heart attack -- it's strong black coffee plus 2 shots of rockin' Russian vodka. I would call it... a "Kaff-ka!"
JoJo -- Cool beans! You could add a little swizzle stick, with a teeny black beret on top, then call it a "France Kaff-ka."
Caudillo -- Hah! OK, here's Plan B in the Spirits Department: I've got this wild friend back in Seattle; she's a trauma nurse at Harborview ER, and a killer chic designer of ceramic masks. You should see her May Day poltergeists. Well this week on Pin-Tourist she posted a drink idea: mixing chai with spiced rum and vanilla almond milk. She calls it the "Chai & Mighty." Zat neat or what?
JoJo -- Your friend sounds boss. Here, try this on for size, you little quirkster... what about putting a tiny cowboy hat on top of the glass and call the drink a... "Chai Noon!" ( They declare in perfect unison. )
Alpha Dog -- She jumped his line and seems pleased, at first, by their 3-second alliance but notices his forehead furrowing. The vein above one ear is pulsing like a little sideburn metronome. The man's engaged; he's admiring but he wants to outshine, outflank, outwit her more. "Bite me," she is thinking. "You're keeping score; you crave supremacy. Well game on, dude!"
JoJo -- This just in... Steven King's Fan Club called. They're saying: put Mr. King's wee pic' on a swizzle stick, then pour 2 parts Stoly, 2 parts Trader Vic's plus the chai, then a dash of cherry juice.... and it's called a "RedRum!"
Caudillo -- ( He's picking up the pace. )
OK, I promise this is the last one... What do Cuban Commies call a "RedRum" with lots of extra cherry juice?
JoJo -- No idea. Hit me with your best shot.
Caudillo -- A "Chai Guevara." That red enough for ya, Jojo?
JoJo -- The redder the better. You know me...
Alpha Dog -- Her cheeks betray her with a tint, and he leans forward, smelling the faintest foof of fear. Or is that just a calm before the... Sturm und Drang?
Caudillo -- Yes I do know you... with your Das Kapital and your Commie Manifesto. What did that comedian say the other night on Jimmy Fallon? To get laid nowadays in the Free World, does a guy have to build a shrine to Bernie Sanders in his bedroom?
JoJo -- Impressive. But all that glitters is not gold. And I know you're Argentine, and that literally means "made of silver" -- not platinum -- which is, of course, oh... priceless in comparison. (She flips her perfect blonde hair. )
Alpha Dog -- ( gliding up to front stage in a camp soliloquy, straight to the audience ) She spins, she grins like a real Fey Wray. Yes, my darlings... that is F - E - Y. How else can any playwrite nail a spelling joke in this age of Mobile Inattention Spans?
Caudillo -- Platinum? Zo cute. But schtop besting me mit jests. You ah zo relentless und I'm zo weary. I vant to be... alone. (He vamps Marlene Dietrich with a shameless ersatz German accent. )
JoJo -- No, on second thought... Whoops, that's right you already blew the second thought. On third thought, this is getting way too foo-foo here. ( Her voice adopts a John Wayne edge, and she's gulping wine with a purpose. ) Hey Pilgrim, real men don't ride side-saddle with their pinkies jutting skyward. Why waste your visionary testosterone in Paris? The French, they roll over for almost anything new, right? So where's the thrill in that?
Caudillo -- Wass meinst du, JoJo? What if your auntie 'cross the border in France heard you say this? Why you'd be banned from half a dozen Christmas dinners.
JoJo -- Good point. Must be fair with the French. But they are a tough room. Even Charles DeGaulle once lamented, "How can you govern a country with 246 varieties of cheese?"
Caudillo -- Heh, DeGaulle; with friends like that, who needs enemas?
JoJo -- OK, so the French don't all roll over. Only rich guys and their mistresses. Now, as I was saying, if you really want to start a new nightclub with existential heft, stoked by local angst, on the cutting edge of cool with brass-clad balls, just like the Cavern was in Hamburg for the Beatles, well you could be a 21st Century urban missionary, preaching peace and culture to the war-torn masses. Why not relocate to Northern Ireland, Caudillo? In fact, why not pick East Belfast, down in a bona fide dyed-in-the woolies Loyalist neighborhood, right down where men are men, and so are half the...
Alpha Dog -- ...Don't even think of going there, sister. What would your feminist mother say? Or Gloria Steinam? Relax. Dig deeper into the Jungian Mind, the Oversoul. Dazzle and amaze with grace. Just pique your man-boy's sense of history. Remind him of all the local color in Belfast, the quaint folk art... political murals of screaming skull-faced babies spray-painted on old brick walls.
JoJo -- So Caudillo, hop to it. You still need a name for the new place, for Dante's spinoff. You could call your daring Irish pub "O Apostrophe Hell" -- "O'Hell"... no better yet -- "O'Hell's Belles!"
Beta Babe -- Sure, it would be like a Hooter's, but for college graduates. All the waitresses would be wearing nearly sheer gossamer gowns, long and sweet-cream colored, tight at the top, no undies just like vestal virgins, with 2 tiny yellow smile buttons pinned precisely over each, well...
Beta Boy -- Each bee sting?
Beta Babe -- ( Dripping sarcasm. ) Oh Beta Boy, you're so on fire. So hot. Like a methane ploof in the city dump.
Beta Boy -- Touche', you hectoring harpie with a hairball. Cough it up. Show up, sign up for the big race.
Beta Babe -- What race?
Beta Boy -- The human race, of course.
JoJo -- Now Caudillo, you are a visionary -- in your politically relevant pub in East Belfast, as proof of your endless charm, your wit and grit, there'd be a massive oaken sign above the front door just like here. But instead your sign would say...
Caudillo -- No...no, let me guess, uh, "This way to McFerno?"
JoJo -- Close but no cee-gar. Remember, you're really deep in the Loyalist 'hood, deep in a bricked-up block, embedded in a Protestant pub where even a dozen ex-IRA with blackjacks and a couple Mac 10's would never dare to tread.... Your Dante-esque sign would say "Abandon Pope All Ye Who Enter Here!"
( She pauses, starts to grin like she's jabbed the coup de grâce. Then the smile drains off her face... slowly, slowly... then all at once. Gradually her voice conveys new caution. )
JoJo -- Uh oh, I knew it... Caudillo, check your 6 o'clock, but wait a sec', don't stare, be cool... Three women just walked in and I know them well. The lady in the long dark coat with faux-fur collar; she was the one the TV reporters interviewed so heavily. She was all over the papers too, and she let them run her photo.
Caudillo -- Really? ( He slowly turns. ) Aw, you're right, JoJo. That is her. She's here tonight. Oh, poor gal, I read those awful stories. Wish there was something we could do to help. But what could we possibly say that would make a difference?
JoJo -- What courage, what a soldier. Dear God, she was one who suffered the worst of the assaults; and she's pressing felony rape charges on two of those dogs. They had their way with her for two entire hours, holding her down in the wet paper garbage, the rotting leaves, all that mossy slime in a stairwell of the Cologne Cathedral, just off the main town square. She said they reeked of rot-gut wine and looked her right in the eye, and they never flinched. Like Terminators.
Caudillo -- Whoa, man, my great-grandfather served as an altar boy in that cathedral, for 6 years just before the turn of the 20th Century. I almost never go to church, and even I can feel the sacrilege... it burns in your brain like a rancid ice cream ache. Like losing hope for the whole human race.
JoJo -- They're hardly human, the damn dogs make me sick... Gott-verdammten Schwein-hunde; sie machen mich krank! And to think our beautiful city, Cologne, was once renowned for magnificent old churches. They started the Cathedral back in 1248 and it was among the largest architectural projects of the Middle Ages. Now we're not famous for churches or fine museums any more, only for riots, rapists, and...
Beta Babe -- ...Rabid neo-Nazis raging back at all the Muslims, whom they blame for all our cultural malaise. I don't know, I wonder if they might be right...
Beta Boy -- And they might be wrong as thongs in church. Get a grip. Find your balance, Beta Babe.
Caudillo -- ( He holds up the newspapers like a fly-swatter. )
Carajo che', que porqueria... Guess that mass attack pretty well swept all of December's Christmas spirit right down into the rubbish bin.
JoJo -- Ya think? All those New Years Eve rioters, godforsaken maggots. They've changed everything, ruined our city, maybe forever. I've got a belated Christmas card for them...
"May all the rapists rot in hell. Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel!"
( The highlight on their table slowly dims a bit & there's a 12-second pause of total silence. )
* * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 1, SCENE 3 -- ( Spotlights focus back on the three-person chorus at side-stage. The couple's table reverts to deeper shadows. New music plays: relaxing George Winston-like New Age piano. )
Beta Boy -- JoJo, is taut, tense, beautiful, a willowy blonde with long legs up to here. She hits the gym with passion 5 or 6 nights a week, skipping supper to keep her abs and arms as close to the tone of her teens as possible. And her breasts are still more generous than pomelos. They are pert, alert and fill her blouse with lush elegance impossible for most men to ignore. She has thin athletic shoulders that form parentheses, perimeters of protection around those breasts when she wears a tightly knit blouse and slouches forward, curling her shoulders in -- if she happens to be feeling vulnerable -- and willing to let that fact be known. She is proud of her figure yet projects no hubris, carrying herself with a casual athletic confidence, a soft seductive glide.
Alpha Dog -- And it's amazing how that glide still naturally appears when so many evenings JoJo is enslaved by angry judgments, irritation or boredom thick as winter motor oil.
Beta Boy -- JoJo normally slides in the side door like a twilight vapor, semi-sullen and inconspicuous, dressed in retro Beatnik chic with her ever-present Che' beret, ratty wool scarf, high black side-zipped boots scarred by years of curbside scuffing and a tight black skirt accenting all her fine terrain above the leather. So, where's the Beat tonight; and what's with all this theater?
Alpha Dog -- Indeed. The full moon's still a day away and JoJo for years has polished the facades of indifference. But how will that help her tonight?
Beta Boy -- Yes, tonight JoJo strode through the front door of the bistro -- where waiters welcomed her as a regular. She paused at the door to radiate a millisecond's first impression and to scan the clientele. She was pounding pavement in black Jimmy Choo heels, swinging a Louis Vuitton clutch that's red as a Flanders poppy in her right hand. And in her left hand was a current issue of Anarchist Lance magazine half-glued with ancient latte' drizzle to a dog-eared copy of Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma, first published in 1839. She is on her 4th reading of this epic novel of love and war. The cover shows it.
Alpha Dog -- The clash of her handfuls is cause for a pause, and when JoJo made her entrance, eyebrows of the regulars were vaulting all over the bistro. Immediately the buzz began. Just look at her...
Beta Boy -- JoJo sports a burgundy beret raked at an angle over her forehead. Her short page-boy hair has a satin finish, no sheen, razor cut and conditioned to the texture of angora. She wears just a finger tap of perfume with hints of plumeria and sandalwood. Her jacket is sleek, chic and dark suede, her scarf the finest Asian silk with a floral print. Something's going on tonight...
Alpha Dog -- When she first arrived, her date Caudillo alertly stood to greet her and flashed the first half-smile of any patron this evening in Walpurgis Nacht Café. Jojo allowed one cheek to wrinkle, and leaned forward for the obligatory swift double-kiss but Caudillo paused, lifting her book to scan the cover. Then he deftly took that book for a moment and kissed her free hand. It was a gesture both florid and courtly -- for fun -- challenging her to lighten up. Her pulse quickened for an instant but she avoided eye contact, grabbed the Stendhal back, shucked her jacket and sat down. Reaching for the menu, she greeted him first in German slang then formal Spanish.
Beta Babe -- He always digs it when she treats him like another Euro pal in public, and pretends to ignore that he's just a Yank -- though one with Latino roots.
Alpha Dog -- Now we're up to date. While our chorus flits about and fleshes them out, our hero and his lady friend begin another epic seated TischTanz, a table dance of brains beginning to unwind from their workaday grind, hoping to rev back into something fresh. But it is still so soon after the Mass Violation of German Women. The crowd is in a philosphic funk, because that is de rigueur -- it's what you do in a place like this.
Beta Boy -- After her absentee father -- an oppressively unhappy investment banker who seldom stayed in any city longer than five consecutive nights -- crashed his Harley Davidson road hog and died when she was seven, JoJo was raised by her step-mother, former dean of philosophy at Bifröst University in Iceland, then later at Universität zu Köln. The stepmother was a classic Icelander: brilliant blonde, fit and focused, strict on tidiness and punctuality, with eyes like sunny blue rivets. And Step-Mom worked harder than a stevedore to get her daughter, who showed early genius for the fine arts, into and through the best of schools. But Step-Mom carried a touch of misandry -- female mysogeny -- which spiked her flirtatious intelligence like acid in the punch bowl at a diplomatic ball. And that misandry, which a young JoJo admired as deeply as she missed her Dad, confused the sand out of every man her stepmother met after she was widowed. So Mama never remarried, though like the Odyssey's Penelope she fended off a myriad suitors with her artful meld of cruelty and good manners.
Alpha Dog -- All those hapless hopeless helpless men...
Beta Boy -- But did they have it coming? ( He laughs ironically. ) Their guardian angels were napping on the job. Those boys were dense; not paying attention. The feministas got to them...
Beta Babe -- Go gargle lugnuts, Beta Boy; your logic is a little flaccid.
Beta Boy -- Oh Beta Babe, you P.C. cop, you frigid little hamster. But we digress...
Alpha Dog -- The girl had little of a childhood. She was raised by Mama's eyebrows, which could shout, and by incessant hands that calibrated her daily, daily... with a velvet monkey-wrench.
Beta Boy -- For JoJo's stepmother, the writings of Ayn Rand, Gloria Steinem and German feminist pioneers Gertrud Bäumer and Helene Lange were irrefutable Scriptures. Her step-mom revered them so profoundly they were daily dinner table fare until JoJo entered high school, and would retreat for entire weekends behind her bedroom door, adorned on opposite sides with posters of Courtney Love and Che' Guevara. Upon close inspection, both posters revealed slight stains from a scented hand lotion, left by the faintest finger tracings of their faces, torsos and legs.
Alpha Dog -- So many gentle finger tracings...
Beta Boy -- And... something's up with JoJo tonight. She is wearing a "take-no-prisoner's glare," so radioactive that her favorite waiter Dieter, who normally dotes on JoJo -- air-kissing both cheeks and dubbing her "Schatzi" -- tonight only gives her a faint grin with a semi-military salute when she clip-clops in like The Woman Who Is All That... and More.
Alpha Dog -- Something is amiss or out of place, when darkling angels wear a pretty face...
Beta Boy -- JoJo is born of patrician stock but seldom wears it on her sleeve. In fact her sleeves conceal recent tri-color tatoos on both upper arms -- of a pagan priestess lifting a chalice to the sun, and a female bishop poised to hurl a trident just like Neptune's. JoJo is multi-lingual and fluent, born in Iceland, now a woman of Köln by way of Paris then Brussels. The beret is her prime affectation, behind which she's always half hiding. She chain-smokes French cigarettes, crosses and uncrosses her legs frequently, fidgeting one foot like the flipper of a pinball machine.
( Cue music -- Erik Satie's "Gymnopédie No.1," from a live Blood, Sweat & Tears concert. After the Satie piece the prelude to Mahler's 1st Symphony will loop until the comic song begins. )
* * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 1, SCENE 4 -- ( From darkness, a highlight hits our couple's table, and the translucent 3-sided screen is still in place to veil them from fully clear view. JoJo and Caudillo are silent still but now appear in slightly shimmering silhouette, an unsettling effect. They rise randomly and move around their table nervously when their Beta speaks; then sit back down when their Beta finishes. The 3 chorus members speak from shadows at side-stage. They move around more, also in semi-agitated animation. )
Beta Babe -- Caudillo is a bit older than his date. He is tall and burly, blunt and a little too loud. He is American -- of course -- a dual national with an Argentine passport, from Buenos Aires by way of Seattle, and also multi-lingual. He and JoJo veer back and forth among Spanish, German and English in their animated chat, with never a pause nor wrinkled brow when switching dialects.
Alpha Dog -- ( in a mock-theatrical tone ) Building their teetering Tower of Babel, not with meet-market babble but the finest flickers of the mother tongue, may bond these young and frisky folks the same way phantom pheromones will do. The right words, slinky words, heady couplets, just might stir desire's frankincense. Oh pheromones, sweet pheromones, those airborne cues that waft so sweetly off a warm neck nape or a lonely breast, or a sweater lent by a gent to his chilly lady friend some winter's night.
(Dieter enters, then disappears behind the screen to wait on Jojo and Caudillo.)
Beta Boy -- ( in an irritated voice ) Hey, Alpha Dog, just cool it for a sec! Geez Louise... Now back to some deep background... JoJo lets fly a muscular Flemish curse under her breath when her waiter, Dieter the Doter, in a mood for impromptu theater, deliberately brings the wrong appetizer -- greasy clam strips -- and forgets the aioli too. Bloody dunce, she's glowering, you cannot eat seafood without a proper sauce! And he knows damn well she never eats fried foods. She'd ordered grilled calamari strips, the thick succulent kind from the creature's mantle. She dresses Dieter down in a hushed indignant tone and he wallows in her sphere of gravity, beaming inwardly while pretending to be chastened.
Alpha Dog -- Menu drama aside, Dieter loves to lurk in the shadows at the periphery of their conversational heliosphere. He is a lonely young man with acne scars like the road map of Sicily, who's misunderstood by many. Actually by most. His Mom is Syrian; his Dad is Lebanese; and he's nearly given up on social assimilation in this cold and bustling German city.
Beta Boy -- JoJo knows this about Dieter and she likes to cut him slack, so she tips him well when he's on his toes. Some nights she'll compliment him on his choice of art-school T shirts, all of them black, like the one with Kafka's giant cockroach standing at a bus stop reading Time magazine. JoJo sometimes tunes in just before closing time and she can hear Dieter quietly humming Carol King tunes from the Tapestry album. His favorite one is "You've Got a Friend."
Alpha Dog -- Dieter the Doter delights in waiting on JoJo and Caudillo, any time he can. He tells the other waiters he can feel their raw energy and wit roll out like a galvanic skin response. They only stare at him like he's just poured raw eggs on their foreheads. Then they walk away. Every time. But Dieter is right. JoJo and Caudillo can communicate for hours, drifting in a sweet waking reverie, as effortlessly as if they were raised under the same roof. They have refined their conversations to an art, no a science -- wait maybe it's an extra-planetary rite of forced reflection. Or a courtship ritual?
Beta Babe -- Caudillo says the best kind of date is often just two folks sitting at a fireplace, sharing a marvelous Malbec for hours, not saying a word, and looking up every half an hour or so to smile in a way that says, "Glad you're here, sweet one." But how many gals will go for that? Certainly not his Mom, who used to hijack evenings with 90-minute phone calls from which not even a diplomatic Houdini could escape unscarred. He dubs those blood-pressure-spiking calls: "Black Hole Telecomm." Not even light can flee such gravity. But JoJo also loves her space, and gives it freely to Caudillo too.
Alpha Dog -- And both love reading even more than fine red wines. JoJo attended primary school just across the border in France, then was raised through Oberschule in nearby Köln. Meanwhile Caudillo's maternal ancestors -- back 3 centuries -- hail from Mühlheim Am Rhein on the great river in Deutschland, not far from there. His dad had roots in the lush grasslands of Argentina. JoJo got her BA and Masters in linguistic science and philosophy, and two PhDs -- in philology and philosophy -- at Universität zu Köln, where Caudillo first met her. And it was just that small-world story that brought this restless pair together during a chance meeting at a ruined New Years Eve party three weeks earlier.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo was born into a cattleman's brood, landed gentry on the Argentine Pampas; but he fled the family business ages ago and got his BA in journalism and later an MBA, both summa cum laude, at east-coast schools in the Ivy League. He never reveals the names of those colleges, nor the fact of his honors degrees, some say to hide a messy affair with an older female dean that hit the local papers when she was fired for misfeasance. Or was that Mizz...feasance? He now writes for a monthly satire magazine in the shadow of the Space Needle, and spends nearly every summer weekend alpine climbing in the North Cascades -- mixed rock and ice -- and winter weekends snow camping or telemark skiing in the peaceful back-country, after careful study of avalanche conditions. But who can chart the avalanches of the human heart, he'll ask his bedroom mirror, in the tele-novela lilt of lunfardo -- tango parlor slang from La Boca district in his beloved Buenos Aires.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo shares few details about his family, or his past, with even his closest pals. He's mastered the poker face for 7-card stud -- a living mask devoid of revelation -- even in casual chats with trustworthy amigos del alma. His father, who rode herd on cattlemen that dared test boundaries back in the old country -- whether fence lines or parlors of his mistresses -- taught Caudillo to plan all goals with exquisite care, and to execute them with bold vigor, irrevocably, once the moment is al pelo, perfecto. Never show your winning hand to anyone until they've already accepted second place, he was drilled for decades by the old Don. But was he ever taught how to really care, to prefer the well-being of another above his own?
Alpha Dog -- JoJo wonders every time she sees him, then she chides herself for bothering to care.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo is now on a year's itinerant sabbatical in Europe, well-funded, discreet and up 'til now, streamlined and efficient as a German rail line. Now he has found some reasons to stay put in western Germany.
Alpha Dog -- Maybe for awhile.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo has an ardent following among the reading hipsters, grad students and middle-aged cognoscenti in Seattle, especially in the lakeside suburbs ruled and roamed by Microsofties or tech managers from Amazon, Boeing and Starbucks. They devour his column like it's daily manna for the brain. He also has a reputation with society ladies of the Emerald City. His climbing buddies call him "Cowboy" or "Casanova" -- though one with a little class, who starts a dinner date with any woman he truly likes, sharing a poem by Welshman Dylan Thomas, Chilean Pablo Neruda or Argentina's Jorge Luis Borges -- maybe even one of his own -- always hand-scrawled on yellow notebook paper.
Alpha Dog -- Like JoJo, Caudillo is adamant that no civilized human can eat seafood without a perfect sauce on the side. That would be like the best man belching remnants of the bachelor party at his best friend's wedding, right at the moment of the altar kiss.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo, always tanned, has thick dark hair, wavy as a willow in the wind, that looks like he combs it only once a day -- with a single hand-swipe. He wears a full beard, and he's never shaved it since college. Except for when he's out with the boys in the Cascades or the Alps, the beard is always neatly trimmed.
Alpha Dog -- With a razor-sharp stainless steel scissors he bought from his master barber back in B.A., the day the old man retired to go fishing in Bariloche. That scissors means more to Caudillo than the ice axe he bought from the most celebrated alpinist of all time, some hawk-eyed gaunt-cheeked guy named Messner back in Kathmandu, at a gear swap.
Beta Babe -- He prefers the shallow thrill of the hunt in Seattle, cruising blasé chicks in Pioneer Square's historic rock bars. He scans those rave refugees, whose eyes are rimmed like raccoons from too much eye-shadow. He moves with a college pal as wing man; both boys wearing dark shades all night to cloak the herb and keep it caged. But Caudillo also is a respected denizen in the swank but semi-murky bars of Westlake Mall and Lake Union in Seattle, where he fends off hungry divorcees in their 40s and 50s while methodically measuring his odds with the fresh and fit professional women 5-10 years younger. He's unsure why but Caudillo feels desire for a European girlfriend; any country will do. But she must be one who reads way more than she texts, who stays in shape but avoids the nauseating vanity of Kardashian divas. Though he feels caj-slipper-comfy dating Latina women and most female Yankees not educated into Stepford babes at prep schools, he has a thing for the sunlit blondes and their sweet-cream complexions in Western Germany.
Alpha Dog -- And then the Ukrainian women... and that's a minefield with JoJo. One evening on their second night out, when she asked him what type of woman he prefers, Caudillo blew it big time, dodging this rare yet sincere portal into her foggy clockwork -- nearly always cinched tighter than a corset. He chose to play emotional chicken, but miscalculated. Caudillo spoke so glowingly of the lithe and limber Ukrainian college girls, all of them pristine blondes whom he'd dated years ago when visiting Kiev, that JoJo the Inscrutable actually forged a frown, called his bluff, stood up at their table near closing time and nearly screeched...
All 3 chorus members sing the Beatles' tune --
"The Ukraine girls really knock me out / They leave the West behind / And Moscow girls make me sing and shout / But JoJo's always on my-my-my-my-my-my mind, oooh..."
Beta Boy -- Then JoJo pivoted on one boot heel and stomped out the door with a flippant wave of one hand. So much for chicken Kiev.
Alpha Dog -- Ah, but three days later she consented to a third and fourth date and so the beat goes on. Meanwhile...
* * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 1, SCENE 5 -- (The screen is removed. JoJo and Caudillo appear in open view, but dimly lit, their faces still in shadow. The three chorus members move to center stage, surrounding the couple, milling about and lightly tapping shoulders as they speak. The couple moves as if chatting happily but make no sound. Only their alter-egos in the chorus speak.)
Beta Babe -- Caudillo dreams, converses, writes and even tells a decent joke in English as well as German and Spanish. He loves to hear women talk with brio about art, adventure or popular music -- anything but gender politics. He's a polished raconteur, relentless and refined, so much so that other men at table with him can begin to hate him viscerally for the way their women pay attention. He can see by the tension in their neck muscles how those men are imagining one, just one good hefty left hook to his jaw... and he enjoys their discomfort.
Alpha Dog -- Why, you ask? At six-foot-three and 230 lbs, still gifted with his college six-pack and shoulders like a lumberman, Caudillo seldom worries about his safety in the city. Only on vertical walls of rock or ice. JoJo only worries about her safety in a low-end bar. Or in church.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo, though he's blessed with half a dozen mountaineering buddies, friends for life who'd stand with him in battle -- hermanos hasta los huesos -- genuinely prefers to be with women more than men, especially when he's stuck in any city for more than a week. He enjoys charming the women he admires by heeding their interests, catching their cues, delighting in a joke that's deftly done, kissing them lightly on one cheek while treating himself to just one nano-second's whiff of their natural scent, the womanly sweat beneath perfume. God how he loves to breathe, to taste, a beautiful woman. Honey dew from heaven, he will say.
Alpha Dog -- And he's thrilled by any clever play on words that makes him jealous, and he doesn't mind admitting that...
Beta Babe -- In fact, his wordplay is relished in some circles. Sometimes Caudillo gets invited to the coveted Seattle parties on Lake Washington or up in the hills of Bellevue or Mercer Island, gilded affairs like latter-day Great Gatsby bashes, thrown by reclusive tech titans or their leading swag men. They read his column with polite envy, and sometimes toss him a hot quote or two at a party, which warmly embarrasses him. But it's most often their wives or girlfriends who've triggered these party invitations, not the men. They wear their pack-animal pride like a permanent hangover.
Alpha Dog -- Those Bellevue men, the Redmond men, the Mercer Mafia, are like timber wolves, or circling hammerheads, ever-cruising never resting in their struggle for the alpha niche. A compliment from them is rarer than a refund on Wall Street.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo is an habitué of odd and elegant events -- not the dismal sort where paunchy bankers and execs are clustered in corners with all the old boys, charting the course of derivative markets while ignoring their Xanax-plastered wives for hours, straining against their tux buttons in chilly ballrooms with vaulted ceilings, walnut furniture and table-sized Jackson Pollocks on the walls...
Alpha Dog -- ... where nobody dances but the foreign guests.
Beta Babe -- Instead, Caudillo loves soirees with a hundred or more 30- to 40-somethings, all of them steel-trap smart and dressed to the nines; any of them ready to give you three spot-on reasons why Mars settlements are a future certainty, or powder conditions up at Stevens Pass are pulse-revving and perfect this weekend; parties where the hostess hires a steely-eyed Japanese ice sculptor, two nude models covered in gray body paint who are miming Greek statues of temple courtesans, maybe a jazz quintet on Billboard's Top Ten, and a caterer who used to work as a personal chef on the 126-meter "M.V. Octopus."
Alpha Dog -- That's Paul Allen's yacht, you know, co-founder of Microsoft. It used to be longest in the world until another top-ten billionaire came along and, with full mischief aforethought, built one 12 meters longer. The rival made sure engineers triple-checked that length, stem to stern. Just because...
Beta Babe -- Amazing how these tech boys even take their phallic symbols out to sea...
Beta Boy -- Aw Beta Babe, just put a sock in it! .... Now, JoJo winces when Caudillo seems to boast about such trivia as a mogul's party invitation, even if feigning a "gosh I was so floored" humility. He's learned to read her eyes and now he avoids these gauche missteps like poison ivy. She sometimes reads his body language like a dessert menu, and he's just now starting to notice when she does, so he can launch effective counter-measures.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo enjoys his persona of anti-materialist and a devil-may-care rebel in financial uncertainty, which may or may not be true. He's got the gray matter topside, but sometimes people meeting him for the first time miss that entirely, distracted by his gruff political spiels...
Alpha Dog -- ... in a rock-ribbed conservative vein.
Beta Babe -- He is a man of jaw-dropping contradictions -- a lifelong environmentalist who donates beaucoup bucks each year to Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society, and he used to march in civil rights protests -- yet once he voted for George W. Bush due to jitters over 9-11. He is a man quite OCD about clean hands and trimmed nails, well-pressed clothes, household hermetically sealed and free of dust; and he folds all T-shirts and briefs in his dresser drawers...
Alpha Dog -- ... Yet his kitchen still has greasy dishes from a month ago; his office is layered in prehistoric dust; and his mountaineering gear room looks like debris field from a tsunami.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo details his silver-green Alfa Romeo roadster 3 times yearly, with religious zeal. Get it... Alfa, Romeo? He's terrified of State Fair roller-coasters yet he owns two vintage Harley Davidson Electra-Glides, big heavy bikes with black leather saddle bags that devour the Autobahn at rush hour. (Yep, he keeps one in Seattle, one in Germany.) Caudillo handles nearly all his own garage work, except the metal-flake paint jobs, candy apple red and indigo, which they do for him in town.
He also owns two custom-tailored tuxedos, both black, one with tails and a cream white three-piece light wool suit for spring, 2,000-fine denier, when he feels like Tom Wolfe on the prowl.
Caudillo only drinks Cinzano Extra Dry vermouth with any seafood, prefers fine Mendocino malbecs with beef or heavy pasta meals. He laments that the steaks and filet mignon of Europe and the USA are rubbish compared to the grass-fed tender beef raised on his native Pampas. And he's bloody right.
When Caudillo tells a joke, he lets loose a rib-deep laugh, almost basso profundo -- punctuated with an odd staccato snorting -- usually funnier than the joke.
Alpha Dog -- Speaking of ribs, it was ribs that marked the moment JoJo first began to look at him as possibly more than chat-table fodder. On their third night out, Caudillo was recounting the gist of his 4 dozen trips to the South Pacific and Hawaii -- for business and for surfing -- ( his most obnoxious toy is a jet-black Mercedes digital surfboard with waterproof USB-3 ports for wave-set data printouts ). He told JoJo how the 7th wave he caught that day swept him into the curl at Sandy's Beach on Oahu, then dumped him straight down on a steep shore break, catching the board's back end under his rib cage and pole-vaulting him over a reef, cracking the board and two ribs in an rush of searing pain. She asked him if he was still hurt and he flashed a boyish grin, replying "Yeah, I cracked two ribs, but no worries. They were only baby-backs and besides, I've got some spares."
Beta Boy -- JoJo never did like whiners. That moment was the inkling, the phrase that seemed to light a little fire... She let him know he'd finally blipped onto her radar, when she gave him a thank-you card after that date, with doggerel she wrote...
It Benz, it whirls, it slashes curls;
It shreds the Gates of Hades...
Can't be ignored this Freudian Sword,
Your new board from Mercedes...
Alpha Dog -- What a girl! He felt honored to his bachelor core. Now, tonight, they both are so deeply gathered up in conversation that they've tuned out everything but breath. The waiters and nearby patrons keep glancing over at Caudillo when he speaks in English or German, more puzzled by his incongruous fluency than alarmed over his volume or rough attire.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo is dressed tonight in an expensive black leather jacket and faded stovepipe jeans -- not machine-faded, the real deal -- tucked just so over his motorcycle boots. Though a wall sign clearly forbids smoking cigars, he is confidently chewing on a freshly-lit Cuban Cohiba, with another Cohiba roach in the ashtray. Nobody in the place, not even the "counselors," will challenge him.
Beta Boy -- Except for JoJo the prickly prof, a woman so sure of her beauty and her brain.
Alpha Dog -- And her secret weapon of choice, what CNN & Huffington Post called "the resting bitch face" of the 21st Century foxes.
Beta Boy -- Aw not again. Stop interrupting! I'll show you a resting...
Beta Babe -- ... bitch slap? Go ahead, Beta Boy. Alpha Doggy has it coming, no? I think he/she secretly craves the slap. Ooh maybe even one on the rump? Now, may I resume?
Beta Boy -- As if...
Beta Babe -- Caudillo thinks that JoJo is some classic goddess fashioned by Canova or Bernini, and he wishes he could carve her form in pure unblemished marble, Carrara marble. Nothing less than perfect ivory-colored stone.
Alpha Dog -- What's best of all about JoJo in Caudillo's mind is her own amazing mind, her command of exquisite details in current geo-politics or classic art and lit. She has the soul of a cutting-edge computer, softened by almost geisha-like breeding and feminine grace -- until she's crossed. Then, he suspects, she could be a ravening hyena, a houri from hell. Aye, and that's the rub... Where else in this wild world can he find a woman like that, who speaks all the right languages -- at all the right times?
Beta Boy -- JoJo, like Caudillo, enjoys a little daily guerrilla theater, a bit of curbside or cafe' table performance art. Some days that means portraying the persona of school-girl insecurity, for random moments in a conversation. But that's a Venus fly trap for the witless and unwary. Her eyes, accented by perfectly thin strokes of Mata Hari shadow, seem to flash blue fire when she drives home a point. That's why boys in both Iceland and Germany had annointed her "The Ice Queen;" and she's proud of that, but in a way that's tinged by a little sadness.
Alpha Dog -- Now, this January night of breath as steam in mid-town Cologne, night of the best Pinot they have savored in months, this man in the black leather is intrigued by JoJo the Blazing Blonde, though mildly annoyed. They grapple for, and frequently trade, the rhetorical upper hand. Neither is ready to relax.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo works hard not to display even the slightest pleased smile at his date. But he likes her, and is starting to lose control of his tells.
Beta Boy -- She notices and it rustles her, stirs her to 5-second fantasies that make her moisten, but she struggles to hide any hint of it. At one point JoJo even dons dark eyeglasses, faking an incipient migraine...
Alpha Dog -- Until she realizes how adolescent and obvious that seems.
Beta Boy -- "This is all so fun and risky, but bloody complex," JoJo is thinking. "I want to go deeper into his wild-hare brain. There is something murky, something marvelous down there. Just not sure it's safe; or if he really is who he says he is..."
Beta Babe -- "This woman is one tough nut to crack, but nearly irresistible," Caudillo says to himself. He too is wondering whether it's worth it to go deep, and whether, in the long run, it all would be physical or intellectual. Or both? When his eyes trace the soft curve of her neck above the scarf and the way her lips purse like a primrose bud, moist and unblemished, when she pulls smoke from her cigarette, he feels a ripple of adrenaline, right there in his belly, and he conceals it with another puff on his cigar.
Alpha Dog -- Spilling the smoke behind him, Caudillo turns his head away for a moment, taking one deep breath and letting it escape, quietly, through his teeth. There is bristling energy at the table tonight. This whole thing... it could go either way.
( Cue soundtrack... the soft Dave Brubeck jazz suddenly shifts to Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark.")
* * * * * * * * * * *
The stage is totally blacked out during a slide show -- classic shots of old-town Cologne and the Rhein River, interspersed with heart-rending images of Muslim refugees, parents with small children and old folks, fleeing Syria and North Africa, desperate to reach free Europe -- shown on a screen above and behind the set. And free-flowing gentle Charlie Parker soft-bop is playing all the while.
* * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 2, SCENE 1 -- ( The screen is removed. JoJo and Caudillo are walking back and forth on the front sidewalk of the bistro, fully lit and visible at last, chatting earnestly, bathed in streetlight then in shadows. After a while, on improv, they return to their table and the epic chat continues. The 3 chorus members haunt the opposite side of the stage, always inside the bistro. )
JoJo -- In my clique here, we've been talking about the "mile-wide and inch-deep" culture a lot these last days.
Caudillo -- Hey, I love that tart dimensional tag for the nano-culture of the West. So accurate. However, what about the New Breed of Mile-High-Club inductees with Nine-Inch Nails? Where do those lost souls fit in? Gen's X and Y + the New Century are tossing us so many curve balls.
JoJo -- But you do realize it's the Ideal we are defending? Plato's Pure Ideal, not anything real or attainable. Know why? Because the Commies are all gone now from East Germany, even from Russia. At least as ideological enemies they are gone. Alles ganz kaputt! The old Soviet leaders and apparatchiks, they've all gone rogue; they've gone capitalista. In fact they're playing the revenue game far better than we do in the West. Anyway, they all are fascists, I feel -- whether by in-breeding or random mission creep -- the old Commies, the new Moscow thugs, the Yankee billionaires, the Chinese octogenarians and their half-assed capitalism, and of course all the radical Islamists. All these fundamentalists, of all stripes and scents, have been taking the Commies' place on the world stage. Gone are Boris Badenov and Natasha, seeking to destroy poor sweet Rockie and Bullwinkle. There is, as the poet noted, "a new fungus among us" -- ta da! -- the Neo-Fascists.
Caudillo -- "Carajo che', es cierto!" Look at all these arrests the week after New Years...
( He holds up the evening paper with latest news of Cologne police roundups. )
JoJo, I knew some day we'd getcha back into Plato's Cave, to curtsy first, then bow, then salaam to the Pure Ideas again. You see, you do retain shards of Idealism still. You're not as bleak a caricature of the Nihilist Cabaret Euro as you try to appear -- the leetle chickadee draped in languid suede, Che' beret canted just so over the eyebrow, Galoise hanging by a sticky-wet millimeter from your lower lip, and Vuarnet shades halfway down your pretty little nose.
JoJo -- Go bite a moving tire, dude... While some say the Islamic extremists are only stooges for certain nationalist oligarchies, who are using them to make sure they end up owning certain pipelines, I disagree. It's way more complex than that.
Caudillo -- You're saying Moscow's prompting Muslim radicals? What a load of...
Alpha Dog -- Spoiled beluga caviar, reeking of listeria...
Caudillo -- Hysteria... Now, c'mon tell me, JoJo, precisely who is saying all this stuff about stooges on puppet strings -- the numb legions of agnostic Gen X'ers, and Gen Y'ers, who haunt smoky cellar nightclubs in Brussels and play their parents' Edith Piaf records, while holding hands around the table in hipster seances, visualizing World Peace? Sure, Vlad the Impaler in Moscow and the Red Herds, both Sino and Soviet, are pressing to manipulate the Middle East to their final favor...
Alpha Dog -- ... Spewing lies with eyes on the prize ( Big Oil ). And all of this with such ham-fisted transparency, it's a wonder Israel hasn't sent cruise missiles zipping across the Caucasus already.
Caudillo -- So tell me, Jojo, how do you cram religious extremists, gun-totin' terrorists, ex-Communists and Wall Street mucky-mucks all into the same neat li'l niche of "fascism?" Do you even know what that word means? Mr. Putin is one badass mothah, but he's never been described as fascist -- not even by Glenn Beck...
Alpha Dog -- ... Or Megyn Kelly.
JoJo -- Hey, listen here. I'll deal with mysteries of the political spectrum in just a sec'; hang on. But first -- I happen to think Putin means far more to most working class Russians, and certainly to the cozy oligarchs who pay him tribute, than some latter-day Dracula. Curb your tongue, knave! I've had Russian boyfriends who really rocked my world. There are yuppies in Moscow who are astonishingly successful and still honest people. They work hard and Putin gives them relatively free reign, as long as they keep their noses clean. He's done a lot for Russia, Cowboy. Remember how their economy was ready to tank after Gorbachev lost his grip and Yeltsin lost most of his brain cells to potato juice? There were Army tanks on city streets, blowing holes in government buildings, baby. Mr. Putin brought law and order, then real cow town capitalism back to Russia, though with a Soviet twist and plenty of loopholes for his buddies. Meanwhile, folks in a different rabble babble on about that "Zionist Cabal" that will in their view, forever secretly rule the planet. Which theory is true -- maybe none? Maybe it's something else entirely. All this wimpy wheezing chaos we call the G7.
Alpha Dog -- G8 if we count Russia. But should we?
Caudillo -- None of these theories are right, I suspect. But you are wise, some days. So I'll give Putin more scrutin' ... more scrutiny, maybe. Though I'm wary. But nuts to your diatribe about Zionist cabals. That's bordering on racism, my li'l lady. Please, enough of that anti-Semitic rhetoric. Sounds like the crap Bobby Fischer spouted in Iceland during the peak of his dementia. And I'll never share your warm fuzzies for Vlad the Cod-piece. To me he is only the Father of Lies. Putin, Putin, que hijo de... mala mama' !
Alpha Dog -- Some say that wily old KGB Czar, with the gym-honed six-pack for those shirtless horseback pics, dosed his hated rival Mr. Litvinenko with Polonium 210 -- snuck into his teapot in a London hotel back in 2006 by two Russian agents after years of traded venom and vituperation. Holy gamma goons... Polonium. That stuff is like plutonium on steroids. Three weeks later Mr. L was dead, the first isotopic assassination ever documented. But Litvinenko was a babbling brook, a certifiable fool despite the many truths he told. He'd gone so far as to suggest his former spy boss diddled little kids. That was uncalled-for, mindless, ugly even for Moscow politics.
Beta Boy -- What a jackass; you never say such things even in private jest, especially about a man that powerful with a reach that far. The ol' guy might be a hard-nosed autocrat, but...
Alpha Dog -- Mr. Putin is no Puto, che', as they would say in Argentina. Give the devil his due. It's on the record -- he likes his women and his Stoly clean.
Caudillo -- So JoJo tell me this... do you really see the ol' ex-KGB Czar, riding bare-chested for the press, as rockin' it for Russia -- even after his buck-naked power grab in Crimea, the Ukraine? And that civilian airliner downed by separatists he armed to the teeth. All those good people dead and gone? Innocent human life just chucked into the fire, echado a la mierda... And you're OK with that? Really?
JoJo -- Read a little more than Fox News summaries, amigo del bifstek. Russia never has prospered without a tough guy at the helm. Simple fact. Most Russians only know and trust the old ways. Read it and weep. History books not funny papers. Putin likes omelettes; his country does too. So he broke some eggs to make 'em. So what?
Caudillo -- Che', you can't be serious. You're just baiting here. So maybe Litvinenko could've just renamed him "Ross" and that's that. Rah-rah-rah, Ross Pu-teen, lover of the Russian Queen...
JoJo -- Oh you're such a twit. What's the Mad Monk, Rasputin, got to do with anything? And in your metaphor who's the Queen? Oh I get it now, yeah, yeah -- Mother Russia. ( She stands and does a wicked little dance around the table, to the chagrin of Caudillo -- but Dieter the Doter's delight. ) Rah-rah-rah, Ross Pu-teen... lover of the Russian Queen... Hah, sounds like a song by the old Euro-ska group, Boney M!
Alpha Dog -- Good thinkin' Lincoln. You're an A+ student of music history.
Caudillo -- Look, I'm not letting you off the hook here, JoJo. That apologist garbage only flies in Moscow because something deeply woven into the national psyche of most Russians, a latent pathology like some black box pinging way down in their innermost ethos, secretly craves the "law and order," the fierce nationalist chest-thumping, the fervor of the strong Big Daddy Warbucks.
JoJo -- Now it's time I clarified my theory on trans-global fascism, my all-embracing label. You know, Cowboy, when you draw a zero-sum graph in a political textbook, then bend it into a circle, any classic chart of right-wing to left-wing ideologies, the two extremist ends meet up in the same spot on the spectrum -- nearly identical tarpits of fascism. So, the pre-Gorbachev Commie ideologues were actually as fascist as Mussolini or Hitler, though supposedly the latter occupied a niche much further to the right.
Caudillo -- OK, I'm listening, querida. Like our Pope would say -- that good ol' boy from Argentina -- "It's generational sin." For century after century, Arabs and Jews, Shia and Sunni, the North and the South, Progressives and Libertarians, all make babies born as clean slates, innocent for a moment, then schooled in livid hate as they ripen in a fallen world.
JoJo -- Now fast forward... to Assad the Ass-Hat and the ISIS demons. Who's worse?
( She imitates the voice of a waitress. ) What'll it be from our menu of military foes today, good sir? Gangrene or leprosy?
Then you have the Ayatollah's Thought Police, the Revolutionary Guard in Iran. Now cross one pond to the West and you've got Donald Trump -- maybe the Anti-Christ in training?
Caudillo -- Hah! Can you see it? Wait'll he starts building a new Trump Tower atop the temple mount in Jerusalem. Or Dome of the Rock? Then head for the hills baby! All hell's breakin' loose...
JoJo -- OK, bend that graph into a circle. Keep heading West 'til you get to the East. Cross another pond and you've got Kim Jung Un, Son of ill-will, with his bratty jack boots on the neck of an entire nation. Who cares about the academics of a label? They're all folds of the same fascist fabric, dear. All of them have four toxic elements in common: 1st, there's a paranoid poobah at the helm (whether czar, caliph or CEO, who cares?) 2nd, the state assumes insane, extreme authority over every nuance of daily living; 3rd, the cults of leader personality and follower servility are hammered home by force; and 4th, all freedom of speech, religion, art and science is ushered straight to hell.
Alpha Dog -- The woman has a point... The worst of the classic WWII fascists, those Wheezing Geezers with their death's-head beer steins, perished in or near the FührerBunker, didn't they? Perhaps their evil spirits linger on, reborn in other ideologies, but fueled by the same primeval human needs?
Beta Babe -- Given JoJo's theorem, maybe take a peek back at Argentina... what about Juan Peron', then the Three Generals and all those young men back in the '70s, tossed alive like rubbish bags from Army choppers two thousand meters above the Rio de la Plata. They were Los Desaparecidos, the Ones who Disappeared? And moving north to Yanqui-landia --
JoJo -- ( She sings a Beatles phrase ) "Back in the U.S., back in the U.S., back in the U.S.S.A. ..." Now how about Monsanto, FarceBook, Big Pharma and Big Oil, to name a few monoliths? Are they pillars of pure democracy or...
Caudillo -- OK, I get it, JoJo. Now how'm I doin' here? Let's focus your paradigm on Southwest Asia and the Middle East. The Neo-Neo-Nazis that remain -- look to Tehran and Tikrit -- have wrapped their kaffiyehs so tightly around their furrowed foreheads that they've left next-to-zero room for common sense and detente to flourish.
Alpha Dog -- Their frontal lobes are fetid, marinated with hatred after 3,000 years of hereditary rancor.
JoJo -- Why are you dumping only on the Arabs? The Israelis have a thing or two to do with this mess. And this is not anti-Semitism. They're all Semites, all spun from the same DNA -- Jews and Arabs alike -- all children of Abraham. And all haters among them, they all deserve the same stink-eye, I feel. The Jews are sons of Isaac, yet look at Gaza and the West Bank, all the hurt they've laid on Palestinians. The Arabs are sons of Ishmael; check all the mayhem they've inflicted on Jews in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, even on their own people.
Assad vs his own free countrymen; ISIS vs anything that moves without a black headband; Sunni vs Shia everywhere. The whole Arab-Israeli hatefest boils down to this -- Sarah gets vicious jelly, prods Abraham relentlessly; so he boots Hagar out of the family tent. Hagar takes baby Ishmael out to the desert for one hell-of-a childhood. And ever since then, for three millennia, Ishmael looks up -- hella jelly too -- and cries out to a blank unblinking sky, "Damn you Isaac/Israel, Daddy always loved you best!"
Caudillo -- Que kilombo, che'. But give the Jews a break; they're surrounded by a sea of vitriol, just fighting to protect their kids, their crops, their tiny patch of earth. And the Arabs, don't they love their children too? Except the alpha extremists.
( Alpha Dog begins to shiver. )
Caudillo -- Know what's the darkest irony of all? Radical Islamists are morphing into the very thing they loathe the most -- rabid imperialists, bigots, exploiters of innocent Arabs. That's why even that PC-crippled cringer, President Obama, calls ISIS "Daesh." He rolls that word out like a dumptruck load of rotting slaughterhouse guts. That's why I love the term, Jojo, because ISIS hates it so much they've threatened to cut the tongue out of anyone who says it.
Alpha Dog -- "Daesh" is an acronym for the Arabic phrase "al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham." That means "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant." ISIS militants hate the term "Daesh" because it sounds like the Arabic words "Daes" -- meaning "one who sows discord."
Beta Boy -- In January 2015, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that he now will call ISIS by this new demeaning name. Mr. Abbott said, "Daesh just hates being called this term, and what they don't like has an instinctive appeal to me." Meanwhile other G7 leaders are following suit, such as French President Hollande and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. So Daesh the Douche Brigade can dish it out, dousing captured pilots with gas then burning them alive in cages, but they can't take a bit of heat.
Beta Girl -- Moral maggots. Dirtbag weasels. On second thought -- no! -- that's so unfair to maggots and weasels.
Beta Boy -- Careful. It's a slippery slope when you start to hate a hater. Now Daesh, like Abraham, throws half the Islamic family out of the tent. So they rage and slaughter Shia Muslims, Sufis, Druze and Bahais like they were roaches underfoot. And Daesh creates new generations of pummeled peons, legions of once decent Arab youth, the college-age kids who have no jobs, no hope, nowhere righteous to turn anymore. Now hate is festering, driven by testosterone. The ugly beat goes on.
Alpha Dog -- So these Arab college kids go down to the Deep Dark Web. They access pirate networks by night on black market iPads under their bed covers -- dodging the sharia narcs in Tehran, Tripoli, Damascus, Riyadh, Cairo and Sanaa. They pray towards Mecca every day for the moment they can drive fresh oleander stakes, either literally or at the ballot box, through the hearts of those Nazi mullahs by light of the next full moon.
Beta Boy -- Most of these Arab kids are good eggs -- like the students in Iran and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, northern Syria -- just struggling to keep their hope alive.
JoJo -- Whatever happened to their Arab Spring? For awhile the hope was blooming. My God where did it go? But to be fair, as you say, whatever happened to the Israeli Spring? Did they even have one, ever?
Caudillo -- Since the Mass Assault on Women here in Cologne, our streets are filled with vile energy, and even more vindictive backlash from the bigots. Don't you loathe all these bullet-headed Nazi wannabes, even the militant so-called anti-Nazis who spew more hatred than the immigrants they're vilifying...
JoJo -- Vile is as vile does, Caudillo. Sometimes even I -- the Queen of Laissez Faire -- struggle to keep my own hope alive. It sure looks bleak right now. But I do know what you mean. Had I been on the street when those barbarians attacked on New Year's Eve, and had I been armed like some caricature of a redneck Texan, I might've emptied my pistol into any random rapist's crotch. Sacre' Bleu! Even our mayor is mincing around like a daft hand-wringing wimp, making lame excuses for those rapist bastards. Now, you know this ... I am a woman's woman, and two weeks later I still feel like bitch-slapping our mayor all the way to kingdom come. She's a frickin' joke.
Caudillo -- Hey remember last week how you said most educated women in Germany feel repulsed by the word "bitch" -- when it's tossed in anger? I took you seriously, tried to mend my ways. So what are you saying here, JoJo? What's good for the goose is...
Alpha Dog -- ( Turning its Merkel Face toward the audience. ) ... Not so good for the goose-stepper! More than any of the G8 countries, maybe more than any civilized country on the planet, Germany’s ethos, it’s very national psyche is swayed by – no addicted to – political correctness. That's because most German intellectuals today, especially liberals who dominate the political landscape, want passionately to reject their homeland’s Nazi past. To put their best P.C. face forward to their judgemental neighbors in the European Union.
JoJo -- Germans so need to be taken seriously by the Free World. They crave to be seen as defenders of freedom, as noble souls, champions of civil rights and liberty, just as righteous as the Yanks and Brits who flattened them, who nearly bombed them back to the Stone Age. They detest being labeled as “those progeny of the old goose-stepping fascists…” See, we've come full circle. It always boils down to some sort of Nazi-this or Nazi-that...
Alpha Dog -- ( turns abruptly and the Hitler eyes burn extremely bright blue for 3 seconds. Then he/she turns back to the Merkel side. )
Caudillo -- So Germans are sick and tired of the cultural stereotypes, eh? Of course... Who wants to be seen as an over-the-top cartoon Nazi in some Tarantino movie? Who wants to be inglorious chumps forever, hunkered down and cringing in the furthest corner of the G7 cocktail party? Always the also-rans in the modern human race?
JoJo -- Exactly! ( She smiles and reaches for his hand, lightly stroking it, just once. ) But at least Christoph Waltz won an Oscar. He was so, so glorious in his bastard-hood.
Caudillo -- Don’t you mean “bastard-ocity?”
JoJo -- No…”Bastard-acious-ness” !
( They both are grinning broadly. For the first time, Caudillo pours her more Pinot Noir then lights a new cigarette for her in his own mouth. With a tender flourish he hands the cig to JoJo. She takes it happily, closing her eyes as she draws her first long puffs. Spotlights slowly fade and houselights fade to black for half a minute. Again, soft cool jazz is playing -- "All Blues" by Miles Davis. )
* * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 2, SCENE 2 -- ( When the lights come up again, JoJo & Caudillo are clad in long robes of brilliant white, with billowy sleeves like priestly vestments. Or like a Muslim cleric. They continue their animated political chat, blase' -- as if this costume change never happened. )
Caudillo -- It’s certainly more than desire to not be the stereotyped old racist buffoons that is driving Angela Merkel and the Christian Democrats to open up these immigration floodgates. The numbers are getting serious, man… Die Welt, BBC, the New York Times, all the credible G7 press are reporting she let in more than 1.1 million refugees in 2015 alone, most of them from Syria, Libya, Algeria & Morocco…
JoJo -- Hah! Revenge for Rommel's romp! Oh I know, I know, we’re in a serious vein now but I couldn’t help playing…
Caudillo -- ...the femme fatale and Führer of the Cyni-Clique? ( He reaches gently across the table and lifts her hair, lightly tracing her ear with one hand. She allows him to do so, but only smiles faintly, with her eyes. )
Jojo -- Maybe I should be “the Resting Bitch Face,” after all, the Maggot-Bashing Bitch of Cologne. That’s why I wore these heels tonight. I feel ready for war, like spiking my heels through those bastards’ necks for what they’ve done to our city. Since Nov. 13 it’s so much sadder now. All our German goodwill is exhausted. Nothing ever will be the same again. Three of my best girl friends were assaulted, and right in the shadow of the Köln Cathedral. They were pinned against a rock wall for half an hour, then pawed and groped under their skirts, even under their panties, their bras torn off by leering gangs of drunken men.
The worst part is this, Caudillo: their religion, which self-righteous mullahs press in our faces daily, their crypto-fascist Shariah law forbids alcohol and protects the purity of unmarried girls – except if those girls are citizens of the very homeland that is welcoming them -- giving them safe haven from the war and ruin of those dirtbag latrines they call their own home countries.
Caudillo -- But what are your real feelings here?
( She remains stone-faced, quivering in anger. )
What, no laugh? Hey, simmer down JoJo, you don’t want to sound like some Tarantino caricature yourself. There are so many worthy refugees with zero political baggage, and maybe only one battered backpack with a few clothes and photos of the grandmas. They are good people, decent moms and dads with little kids in tow, who fled Assad or Daesh, all those homicidal trolls in Syria; and they truly need protection but are bearing the brunt of right-wing backlash now, which they’ve done nothing to deserve. Sure there are Trojan horses among these refugees, but we can root the bastards out with new high-tech, soon.
Beta Babe -- Caudillo hopes to de-fuse the blonde bombshell, to quench the rising anger before she goes too far, as he’s seen her in a two-bottle tirade before and it wasn’t pretty.
Alpha Dog -- Hey, you're stepping on my lines! It surely was not pretty. Nor were the facts of New Year’s Eve, Nov. 13, 2015 -- Night of the Mass Violation of German Women. Cologne’s Police Chief Wolfgang Albers told local news media that a swarm of nearly 1,000 men – most of whom CCTV footage showed, and female victims confirmed, were of North African descent – rushed into the town’s Cathedral Square and Central Train Station, engulfing hundreds of young women there to celebrate the New Year.
Beta Babe -- “They put their fingers into every orifice,” victims told police that night, some crying inconsolably for hours. Reuters, AP and the German press agencies reported that 10 days later Cologne police filed no less than 516 criminal complaints against at least 32 of these marauding men – most of them asylum seekers, illegal migrants from Syria, Iran or North Africa. More than 650 women reported they were robbed or sexually attacked. There were nearly 300 sex-assault charges and at least two rapes investigated.
Beta Boy -- Similar incidents also erupted on New Year’s Eve in Hamburg and Frankfurt, Germany, where scores of sex assault charges were later filed. What's still not known -- were these attacks pre-planned, coordinated? That question simmers way down deep in the German psyche, already bristling with tension...
JoJo -- And get this, Caudillo, did you see the HuffPost Deutschland? Journalist Anabel Schunke reported that local cops, then German local and national media, were petrified by P.C., afraid of upsetting Merkel's agenda. These squirmy little vermin failed to report the mass assaults for days, then later tried to cover up the ethnicity of the perps out of some bass-ackwards sense of social tolerance.
Beta Boy -- Can you believe this Pferdscheisse?
Beta Babe -- Horse pucky.
JoJo -- ( She yanks off her beret and slaps the table with it, repeatedly for exclamation points. ) Anabel Schunke says the cops, the press, our weakling mayor -- she's such a pussy-footing P.C. priss -- all for days struggled to cover up this mess, to not derail the Chancellor’s flowery humanist agenda.
Alpha Dog -- All this rape and shame and blame came only days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel was featured on the cover of Time Magazine as Person of the Year, mainly for her efforts to welcome refugees from war-torn Muslim countries. For 70 years so many Germans felt hobbled by guilt and shame – cripplers of any culture – so they first rebuilt from the ruins of World War II, with dogged Nordic will. They built their Deutschland back into the world’s 4th largest economy. Now the liberals who rule want Germany to be moral lighthouse of the European Union, forever repudiating nationalism, genocide and Nazi bigotry.
JoJo -- ( Agitated, raising her voice... ) Deutschland über alles… Europe’s “Shining City on a Hill” – how was it your Cowboy in Chief Ronnie Reagan put it in his farewell address? Anabel’s column is right on, baby. She says the cops, our gutless mayor, everybody wanted to cover this up for days while they strategized. WTF? Strategize? What is there to strategize about felony rape? The mayor said she wanted above all to “protect public order!”
( She forms rabbit-ear quotes with both hands high in the air. )
"Protect public order?" The mayor even lectured our young people in Cologne to respect the social mores of patriarchal Muslim societies from which these refugees are fleeing by the thousands daily? Is she frickin’ crazy?
"Protect public order?" Whose public order? What about our German women? What about my three girl friends who were attacked, degraded, terrified? And they were dressed in heavy coats; it was bloody cold that evening. No lewd behavior, only fireworks and fun. Or so they thought. What if I had been there in Cathedral Square on New Year’s Eve? Would you have protected me?
Caudillo -- Darn right I would have, dear. I'd have grabbed the nearest, the nearest…
JoJo -- ... Garbage can lid like Captain America? Oh yay, we're saved at last; the shield of vigilance is here!
Caudillo -- C’mon JoJo, sometimes you go too far...
JoJo -- You’re right. I’m sorry. So sorry Caudillo... I’m just so blown away by what has happened. It's like our government really doesn't give a damn…. ( She begins to cry softly. ) And our mayor, such a tool, and a woman mind you, a woman my own age, was defending the criminals more than the very women they attacked. Suddenly in P.C. Demento Land, the victim becomes pariah! What the hell?
Caudillo -- Look now, the attacks were horrific felonies, worthy of aggressive prosecution, I agree. The criminals, those animals, need to pay. But first your city council needs to find their testosterone glands and turn on the spigot. Your mayor was only trying to make a moral point – it wasn’t their religion that’s to blame, it wasn’t Islam raping German women. It was drunken stupid clods who made their own sick choices, personal choices in an even sicker wolf pack. And police reported most of the attackers just happened to be Muslim. There’s a big distinction here. No religion preaches rape, for God's sake. Look, I brought you these articles... Here in USA Today, a piece about Mina Cikara, a Harvard psych professor, and Adrianna Jenkins, a post-doc researcher at UCLA.
JoJo -- Is that the latest study on mob mentality, we heard about on MSNBC?
Caudillo -- You bet. This dovetails in with the Mass Assaults on New Year's Eve, and all these centuries of, OK of fascism. No Hitler, Musslini, Khomeini, Assad, Peron or Trump -- nor the sick corporate cultures that empower Big Agra, Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big-Otry can possibly succeed without this biological boost.
JoJo -- No no, gimme a break; there's no damn biochem excuse for rape!
Caudillo -- Agreed. Excuse no. Synaptic mechanism -- YES! It's all a matter of chemical dominos in the brain.
Alpha Dog -- Not a lame blame game.
Caudillo -- Here, mon petit chou, may I read to you from USA Today?...
( JoJo nods vigorously. )
In a new research paper led by Mina Cikara, a team of researchers has discovered astonishing new insights into mob mentality — the tendency for large groups of people to reject the inhibitions of societal and moral standards. "Isolated individuals seldom heckle or riot. But throngs of sports fans torch cars, protesters storm government offices, and gangs go to war over intangible slights. Cikara and her colleagues may have discovered a culprit we can't control: our very own brains."
Even though humans strongly prefer equality and rules forbidding harm to others, those inbred priorities mutate radically, and quickly, when there is an 'us' and a 'them,' " co-author Rebecca Saxe, an associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at MIT, told the MIT News. Their research paper appeared recently in the journal Neuroimage. It stated that mobs will "often engage in actions that are contrary to the private moral standards of each individual in that group, sweeping otherwise decent individuals into 'mobs' that commit looting, vandalism, even physical brutality."
The most obvious roots of mob mentality are well understood. Such as anonymity. Ms. Saxe said, "When people feel they will not be recognized or called to answer for their actions, they are more likely to behave wantonly. Another factor is responsibility. Guilt, shared collectively and spread thin, is an easier thing to stomach." Yet, there may be something else going on: something more scientifically measurable. Here JoJo, just for kicks, you read the rest of this, here... right here...
JoJo -- Ms. Cikara and her colleagues wanted to learn whether an individual's sense of self — and therefore the individual's moral compass — is suppressed during times of mobs in motion. But how do you measure a sense of self? With an MRI -- a functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scan, of course. Hooking test subjects to these machines, scientists could monitor activity in all parts of the brain. A brain section called the "medial prefrontal cortex" lights up like a Christmas tree when people think about themselves; and it's more dormant when people act in groups, like playing on a football team or swarming in the street for a protest. So guess where human brains go gaudy like a Vegas slot machine?
Caudillo -- That cortex zone, correct? ( She nods intently. )
JoJo -- During these tests, participants were asked about moral judgment as individuals and later while competing in groups. For many folks in groups, the medial prefrontal cortex was way more sluggish than others, almost shutting down. Those same people also were the grumpiest and meanest. After the questions, test subjects were asked to choose photos of teammates, then of members of the opposing team, to appear with the published study. The people with less self-reflection invariably chose the most flattering pictures of themselves and their teammates; but the ugliest pictures of their opponents.
Caudillo -- Us vs Them, the same ol' saw. So, whatya think, JoJo?
JoJo -- ( In a calmer voice, looking right into his eyes. )
OK, you have a point. This study might explain the how-in-hell, but not the WHY-in-hell-allow-it! We still must fight the filth. Our dizzy mayor, what a P.C. cripple; what a feeble female suck-up to the Good Ol’ Boys… Public order, my left foot! My left foot jammed right up their…. Public order… Alles in Ordnung. Vertuschen Macht Frei! Cover-up Macht Frei! Who are the bleedin’ neo-Nazis now? Who are the real Thought Police?
Caudillo -- C’mon JoJo, cool it. Simmer down. Please keep the volume lower. People are looking over here and freaking out. Look, I respect your razor sharpness, the flow of your soul. Any chat with you is like a sinus-slammin' slug of Rémy Martin VSOP. But I caution you tonight; you are tap-dancing on the border of Islamo-phobia. That is more than unbecoming. Puts one in some pretty bonehead company. Did you hear about the latest bile fest, the redneck backlash going on in Frankfurt and Hamburg, like some sick reincarnation of the skinheads?
Alpha Dog -- Just what Germany and the free world need right now, more bullet-headed Saxon mother’s sons, like John Lennon said…. There, I made a joke.
JoJo – What, you heard the skinheads are rising again? Oh dear, that's the last straw…
Caudillo -- Not quite. They do not shave their heads nor give “Sieg Heils” -- not yet. But they might as well. The ordinary working men and women are fed up to the max, sick to death of all the strife this migrant inundation has brought in. It almost feels like civil war is brewing in Germany.
JoJo -- In most of Europe too. Look at France, Greece, Denmark, and now those rancher militia-men out west in your own Oregon. The state police shot that old man dead, their leader, while he wobbled through deep snow with both hands up.
Alpha Dog -- To be precise, he was reaching into his coat with one hand. After pumping 9 rounds into the old man, they found a loaded pistol, safety off, stashed inside his coat. Facts are facts. Not all cops are brown-shirts. Most are fine young men and women. So be careful with labels, even hints of labels. They always leave an ugly residue of glue.
Caudillo -- About those new right-wing extremists. These are white guys now -- not Africans, not Arabs, not refugees. I am talking now about Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne. There’s an ultra-right-wing group called PEGIDA – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. They are marching all over the place, angry hundreds at a time, clamoring for mass deportations, for rounding up Muslim immigrants. Their banner rattles me the most… the same Imperial War Flag used by the kaisers before World War I, the same iron cross used by Hitler’s military. They carry signs in English so that CNN and the BBC can slide it into their evening news – “Rape-fugees not welcome. Go away!” Even Donald Trump, that tinhorn proto-fascist is weighing in on this, slamming Angela Merkel before he gets the Republican nomination. As if he’s already some kinda head of state.
JoJo -- Oh lordy, more like “head of fox pelt.” Ratty ol’ red fox tail -- glued to his scalp for a wig. Anyway, what did The Donald say? He's a heel, but fascinating to watch, like an amateur comedy-porn. I find his pretzel reasoning almost like proto-punk lyrics from the early 1970s. The guy's an amazing showman, kind of a genius bully who can push folks' buttons like nobody else on Earth ...
Alpha Dog -- Literally. Trump the master demagogue with a varmint's butt-fur for a hat. Hey, no murmering, folks. No rulebook says I cannot cuss. Just like Herr Trump, I report to no one. So as Alpha Doggy I can say whatever I want, whenever...
Beta Babe -- Did somebody say Hair Trump? Ain't that the name of his private jet?
Beta Boy -- Yep, and his new campaign anthem is "We Shall Over-Comb, oh We Shall Over-Comb..."
Caudillo -- So JoJo, in their historic cover story where they named her Person of the Year, Time Magazine praised Merkel as “Chancellor of the Free World.” Not just Chancellor of Germany, you see... They applauded her government viewing Muslim refugees as victims to be rescued, not invaders to be pushed away. So Trump, the mega-bigot, in a later interview says Merkel is insane, a weakling and the architect of a dangerous Trojan Horse -- that’s an open portal into Europe for ISIS ops and jihadists faking they’re from Syria.
JoJo -- Oh that Trump and his color-hatin' Muslim-baitin’ ragtag army. Donald, how do I loathe thee, let me count the ways…
Caudillo – Shhh, shhh, please my dear, keep it down.
JoJo – No worries, Caudillo, the only Muslims in this place are the waiters; and you know Dieter the Doter – he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Caudillo -- That’s not the point, JoJo. You’ve had a bit to drink and we’re making a scene here. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re starting to sound like Herr Waltz in the Tarantino flick. You don’t wanna be that girl… Besides, we both love Dieter; he’s a great guy and he’s been a friend for so long.
(Dieter the waiter, a thin lad with bushy hair and swarthy complexion, obviously of Arab decent, is always in the near periphery snooping. He hears his name and rushes over in a flurry of obsequious enthusiasm.)
Dieter the Doter -- You need me, sir? I thought I heard you calling. Can I get you anything more?
Caudillo -- You heard it all, didn’t you, amigo? You were listening in…
Dieter the Doter -- Well, I, uh…. You know sir, I could not help but over-hear you folks. You were so animated. And the topic is so current, and important. My Mom, you see, is Syrian and my Dad is Lebanese. We are all Muslims. But I was born right here in Cologne, and I was not at those celebrations New Year’s Eve… Not at all. I went home with my parents. They were so scared. They still are...
Alpha Dog -- The German government calls their new policy “Willkommenskultur” – a culture of welcoming immigrants with open arms. Ms Merkel’s well-meaning bureaucrats admitted no less than 1.1 million illegal refugees into Germany in 2015 alone, and most were from Syria or North Africa. And though her critics clamor for a cap of only 200,000 more this year, she vows she will not hold to that. You see, Ms Merkel was raised in East Berlin during the Cold War; she’s a Mauerkind – child of the wall. She came to freedom with a far far different view of immigration than that of Donald J. Trump. He longs to build a 100-meter-high wall a thousand miles along the Mexican border, while Angela is a Mauerspecht – a woodpecker hammering away at walls. It is in her blood, and that of her entire generation. Any wall is a curse, only good for one thing… toppling.
Dieter the Doter -- Sir, if I may, I know from your Spanish accent that you’re not from around here…
Caudillo -- Correcto, son, born and raised in Argentina, now living in Seattle USA. But I admire your land, especially it’s lovely ladies.
Jojo -- Only when they buy you supper and laugh at your jokes.
Dieter the Doter -- Well, sir, I read last week in my political history text -- I’m taking night classes at the University -- about a very deep undercurrent in the German collective unconscious and they have such a cool word for it … “Vergangenheits-bewältigung.” That means like “wrestling your past into submission” – you know, when the slithery old ghosts can haunt you and try to tear you down. So you fight them off. Well the bad old boys, the Nazis, built their empire on a myth of racial purity…
Caudillo -- The Master Race, most vile lie in human history.
Dieter the Doter – Right on, sir. You’ve got it. And Mrs Merkel says to hell with the Master Race idea. She’s hoping to rebuild a Germany that’s Heinz 57 like my American friends would say – so many races and cultures in one big stewpot! Did you know that Merkel’s government is so keen on bending over backwards to bless the Jews, that by federal decree, every single planeload of tourists or businessmen that enters Germany from Israel is met by armed officers to protect those passengers? Isn't that great? Now that is tangible goodwill. God bless Ms Merkel. I’m serious; you can look it up. She's the real deal, guys.
JoJo -- Dieter you dear li’l man; looks like that night class is doing you some good. What exactly are you studying for?
Dieter the Doter -- An undergrad degree in political science and civic management. I want to enter politics some day, ma’am. I’d like to run for office, maybe make a difference for my homeland, for Germany and for my Arab people, too. May I continue, please? Thank you so much...
( Both Caudillo and JoJo nod in pleased agreement. )
We read that Mrs Merkel once told an angry lady at a public meeting, who was yammering at her about the “Islamization of the Motherland” – here let me read this, I photocopied the page to show my Mom and Dad – “Fear has never been a good advisor, neither in our personal lives nor our society. Cultures…that are shaped by fear, without a doubt will not get a grip on the future.” Pretty cool huh?
JoJo -- And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it – getting a grip on the future?…
Alpha Dog -- And keeping it. For the children too.
Dieter the Doter -- Uh oh, my boss is waving me over. Gotta go. Before I leave, may I share just one more thing, meine Freunden?
( They smile and nod in unison. )
I sure hope those militant hate groups never march on my community, or I'm a goner -- oh man -- I'm dead meat...
Caudillo -- You mean your neighborbood? What part of Cologne do you live in, Dieter?
Dieter -- No sir, I mean my community, my people, you know. Things are kind of dangerous now, all over. I'm a son of Arab Muslims, and I'm... well I'm... ( Long pause. )
I am a homosexual Arab man, hiding in plain sight.
( Dieter's chin is trembling, visibly. )
My parents still don't know. They are devout Sunnis, so conservative, and they don't even know I work in a bistro that serves alcohol. It would kill my Mom to find out. And my Dad, ach dann ist die Scheiße echt am Dampfen!
Caudillo -- Man, it really will hit the fan with your Dad... Dieter, I had no idea that you, that, I mean...
Alpha Dog -- Well look at the expressions on Caudillo and JoJo, like they've been slapped by a stale baguette just dipped in a Porta-Potty. Truth is dawning... what to do, oh what to do...?
Beta Babe -- Look, Caudillo's struggling; such inner conflict. He's Latino Argentino, his folks aristocrats, Old World Catholics. Caudillo's small town had a code: shun the maricon' at best, or push his face into the sidewalk if you meet him with your posse on a Friday night, during el paseo en la plaza. No effeminate dudes allowed in that world of men. So what's a guy to do with a waiter like this, and a girl like... that, watching his every move?
Beta Boy -- Get serious, girl. You know in 77 developing nations where Islam is the state religion, homosexuality is banned and severely punished, especially in Africa and SW Asia. Gays have been executed in Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, and in Iran it's not uncommon for ruling mullahs to hang them publicly from huge industrial cranes, that sloooowly lift the condemned man off the ground, centimeter by centimeter while he's writhing in agony. Mothers hold their little children's hands as they watch these gay men die, for lunchtime entertainment.
Alpha Dog -- Homosexual acts can bring the death penalty in Mauritania, Sudan, northern Nigeria and Somalia, and are flat-out illegal in 37 of the Africa's 52 nations, according to a 2015 report by Amnesty International.
Beta Babe -- And even in the Muslim world's most liberal nation -- Lebanon -- it's common for gays and lesbians to be tortured in prison, by means too cruel to mention in a public place.
JoJo -- Sweet Dieter, we did not know. Wh-what can we do?
Caudillo -- I do not approve of their lifestyle choices, in fact I feel queasy even thinking about sex with another man. But I have made so many grotty choices in my own life, I'm also sure that no man's sins are worse than any other's.
Those cheapo one-night stands we've all fallen into like honey traps are no less sleazy if done by a man and a woman, than if two men or two women make the Beast with Two Backs. But che', no human being deserves execution or torture for a sexual choice. That's beyond barbaric, it's demonic! Dieter, c'mon back when you get on break. We'll talk some more. Don't worry, son. I might have some ideas for you. I, uh, we might, well geez Dieter we didn't know...
Dieter the Doter -- Got it. Oh thank you for your time and attention sir. And thank you, too, Miss JoJo for never judging me.
( He keeps looking back to the bar, checking anxiously. )
Dieter the Doter -- Uh oh, my boss is waving again; he's looking really ticked off; I've got to run. ( He feigns a Terminator accent -- "But ah'll be bock." )
( Cue sound track: A soft classical jazz rendition of "Song For My Father" by the Horace Silver Quintet, Blue Note sessions, as all lights dim to black for 20 seconds. )
* * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 2, SCENE 3 -- ( When the lights come up this time, JoJo and Caudillo are back to their normal casual attire, and the white robes are gone. All as if it never happened. They are walking back to their table from the outside verandah.)
JoJo -- ( She slides her hand across the table and envelopes his in warmth. ) Caudi, this is something new, a fresh side of you I've never seen before. You're such a die-hard redneck. I never guessed you'd show concern for a little gay Muslim kid. Oh my big Latino macho man ( her voice takes a taunting edge ), you let him stand so next to you, sooo close. Weren't you afraid you'd catch his homo germs, maybe be infected by all those toxic faggy "veebs?"
Caudillo -- Knock it off, woman; gimme a... Dieter is a human being. I hope you're only satirizing. And please watch your tongue. In my hometown, Seattle, that 'F-word' is unacceptable -- as rank and vile as the N-word or calling Latinos "spicks" or Frenchmen "frogs." Even if you're pushing the satire envelope, don't use that term for gay guys, please? It's hateful.
JoJo -- ( A little chastened, she replies softly... ) Okay, good point, amigo.
Caudillo -- Thank you. Now what are "veebs" anyway? Is that some new street code with the college kids?
( Warily, he slides her wine glass away, like a designated driver. )
JoJo -- Nope. It's a word I made up in college. "Veebs" are a blend of "vibes" plus weirdness spores, you know a figurative contamination of one's innermost personal comfort zone. You've told me more than once how gay guys, the ones who are most flamboyant -- make you "want to retch" -- I believe were your exact words... When Dieter was standing right here, were you sincere or just putting on a show for me, like the Buenos Aires altruist out to impress his girlfr... his hot date?
Caudillo -- No no, you've got it all wrong. When he told us about his father, that hit me square in the gut. Believe me. Un golpe poderoso, che' -- memorias fuertes... My dad was married to his cattle, to his ranches, to his business deals, and those three regal whores, his mistresses. What little time I got to spend with him somehow, most often, he managed to make me feel less worthwhile than a boot scuff on the bathroom floor.
JoJo -- Maybe a little pity party here? Nobody can make you feel anything, Caudillo.
Caudillo -- Au contraire, ma chère. Dads are mighty. A father can do anything, anything... ( His voice grows wistful. ) For Dieter, no young man in his prime, dreams a' blazin', should start his adult life with a ton of ugly bricks on his shoulders, the stone cold judgments of the father. You can't imagine the discouragement, it's like...
JoJo -- Like being raised by the Glacier Goddess of Reykjavik, to become her little man-eating puppet Ice Queen. But I've already told you all about her, and you've never shared the real dish on your own Daddy. Please... I'm all ears, my conservativo friend.
Caudillo -- ( Voice a bit defensive, masking hurt. ) First off, you know our Pope, El Papa Francisco, is Argentine. And everybody loves the guy, even the non-Catholics do. Look, not all Argentino men are machos, blockheads. Francisco just a few months ago told the press that he -- now this is the freakin' Pope! -- welcomes all homosexual men and lezbos, oh sorry I mean lesbians, to come back into the fellowship of the Church. He wants them to feel warmly welcomed, not shut out from God's grace. The Pope says that gays should never be excluded from the family of believers, but also they need to turn from their old ways that violate the, well, the holy rules of ...
JoJo -- ...The good ol' boys network at the Vatican that's dictated Europe's so-called morality since the Dark Ages? Same guys who ran the Inquisition, the Salem witch hunts, and then those pompous diocese bishops who hid their pedophile priests for decades?
Caudillo -- No... May I please continue? ... Now Papa Francisco is a powerful world leader; he's got more than 1.3 billion followers -- that's nearly the population of China -- yet he's nothing like your model of those neo-fascist czars all over the globe. He genuinely loves his flock, the simple people with clean hearts and no manipulative agenda. He hates the trappings of wealth and power; hates using a chauffeur. The guy drives his own car sometimes in Italy; and he toured New York in a mini Fiat 500. That's like some tiny circus clown-mobile! And this awesome Pope, man he's kicking serious butt on those pedophile priests; even sacking bishops who lived in lavish villas like royalty. So there's hope yet for Latino males, eh, JoJo?
JoJo -- Touche' ... but you were going to tell me about your father. Please forgive my interruption. I'm sorry... ( He nods. )
Caudillo -- JoJo, I understand our Dieter so much better now. Even though his lifestyle leaves me cold.
( He pauses a moment, his voice somber, deep. )
Listen, no young guy -- no loyal son of his father -- should feel the constant drilling burn of shame from the man his spirit wants to idolize, from his God-given hero...
JoJo -- There you go with that God stuff again...
( He frowns and she backs off immediately. )
Caudillo -- My Dad has vacation villas in 3 or 4 provinces, but the one our family enjoyed the most was up in Las Sierras de Cordoba, nestled way back in the hills by a pure water stream, near the village of La Cumbre. We had so many fine horses, Arabian purebreds with muscles that gleamed in the sun, huge pastures and endless hard-packed trails for riding. We had our own blacksmith and stables nicer than most people's homes. More servants than a 5-star hotel, and a huge swimming pool the shape of a waving Argentine flag, with celeste blue tiles and the great yellow sun at the center. The air is so fresh up there, it's almost like sweet sandalwood perfume. Makes you feel drunk with life, and youth, with plans for creative glory...
JoJo -- Oh Cowboy, I had no idea. This sounds heavenly.
Caudillo -- We had huge organic veggie gardens; and the servants helped me with most of the nasty weeding. Mom nurtered every kind of flowering bush; there were wine grapes we kids used to crush with our bare feet at harvest time. Ever see kids with deep purple Malbec 'socks' up to their mid-calves? What a hoot! I always felt so alive there, like I was becoming a real man, able to ride like a gaucho, whirl those boleadoras overhead -- whish, whish, whish! -- then fling them like a serpent lunging at the hind legs of a fleeing cow, and drop that sucker like a sack of salt -- never hurting it a bit. Such a gaucho art. I could some days even give orders to the staff -- Daddy's little jefe they used to say -- made me feel 3 meters tall.
JoJo -- ( She rests her chin on one fist and listens, rapt. ) This is so, so amazing Caudi. I mean, you, like this...
Caudillo -- Well when I was a little boy, maybe only 10 or so, my Mom used to let me walk down the lane, from our Villa de Riachuela to the main road by myself, to help me learn my independence, and some Saturday mornings in summer I'd take the bus. She had me feeling so important, like a little bigshot. Well we called that red and yellow rickety bus, wonderful old thing, the "Capillense". I took the bus down into La Cumbre because there were two places I loved to visit most: the market square with all the rich aroma of pan fresco baking, and the sweet-smelling fruit stands with guayavas and mangos and pomelos from Misiones province. Mom always gave me a few thousand-peso notes -- maybe worth only 5 bucks each. We called 'em "lucas" and I always stopped into one confiteria for "Postre de Vigilante" -- the Cop's Dessert -- with dulce de membrillo y queso cremoso, still my favorite taste in the world...
( He has a wistful smile and tone. )
JoJo -- What's that? Some kinda homemade ice cream?
Caudillo -- Nope. The national dessert of Argentina: dulce de membrillo is quince paste wrapped in wax like a gourmet cheese, deep purple wheels of gritty sweet-tart quince jam, solid as pressed dates; then you slice off a thick slab, lay it flat on a plate and put a thin slice of queso cremoso -- soft cheese like a local brie' -- right on top. Mmm... your fork just sinks right in, and that flavor, the meld of creamy, sweet and tart is so exquisite; it's like heaven, like a tongue-gasm...
JoJo -- ( Sipping her wine assertively, slurring her words a tad... ) Oh I know all about those, and I could show you. ( She catches herself. ) I know your story is leading somewhere; so what happened in La Cumbre, dear?
Beta Boy -- The Ice Queen is so blunt. She pricks the balloon of sweet nostalgia with a turkey fork. Caudillo's face drains suddenly. Much of that boyhood joy, the flush of warm remembrance is fading as one core memory, like a razor in a monkey's hand, rises, cutting randomly, a little here, a little there -- cut, cut, raggedy rip...
Beta Babe -- But look, she's tipsy. She's warming up. His story has a little magic. The girl is feeling something; the Ice Queen stirreth; she's suggesting all this stuff about lips and mouths...
Beta Boy -- Yes, the Chasm of the 'Gasm has been broached.
Alpha Dog -- And JoJo's words, surprising even her, bring flutters to two young ribcages, as two Pinot-marinated hearts, two minds aching for some rest, begin to imagine all the wondrous possibilities.
Caudillo -- ( Serious, with a slightly somber tone... )
One afternoon after my customary quince indulgence, I hiked to my all-time favorite spot in El Centro de La Cumbre: an artisans’ shop called Recuerdos de Ricardos, owned by two old guys -- both named Ricky. For me, a grade schooler with no job, no way to earn money except my daddy’s dismal dole, an allowance of 3 or 4 lucas per month, this shop gripped me with adrenaline and delight. Their display window seemed like a portal to another universe, of dreams and schemes and endless seductive riches. I used to imagine all those beautiful trinkets – the jade knife handles; the marble chess pieces; the hand-tooled leather wallets embossed with super gaucho Martin Fierro, our mythical national hero; the shiny wall plaques of pure sterling silver or copper – scenes from El Valle Punilla; the gaucho boleadoras, real killer rocks, big round ones wrapped in leather and linked to braided leather ropes for toppling cattle at full gallop – all of these seemed like my power objects, like Carlos Castaneda used to write about. Power in beauty!
JoJo -- Now what are boleadoras again? You mean those gaucho bolas you swing like this...?
Caudillo -- Claro. These recuerdos, souvenirs, were my sacred talismans as a little boy... I believed the jade knife would give me courage to defeat all evil men and their guiding evil spirits; the silver plaque of a great owl on a fencepost would give me wisdom to rule a province; the 3-strand hunting bolas – che’ that leather smelled so fresh and masculine, like honest cowboy sweat – they would give me warrior strength and cunning to hunt down my enemies, fiercely…. Wham!
JoJo -- Oh Caudi these are things I... you never, you never before…
Caudillo -- I know, you are the first woman I’ve ever told this story to. Please, never share this with anyone…. ( Her hand slides up and down his extended arm. ) Hope I’m not being foolish here, saying too much…
JoJo – Oh no, you sweet thing. Mein Mann mit edle Seele. Please tell me more…
Caudillo – But the one thing in that magic window that I treasured most was a classic mate y bombilla set. ( Pronounced MAH-tay ee Bom-BEE-ja, again with the Argentine "ll" like the "j" in French "je" ). It was a hollowed gourd, apple-sized, perfectly smooth outside and painted with jet-black laquer, adorned richly on all sides with shiny sterling silver filigrees and pure gold leaf. It was for sipping yerba mate, our national beverage. It's a strong green tea with scads of healthful antioxidants from the Northeast province near Iguazu Falls. The bombilla is a silver straw with a sieve-like filter at the bottom to keep the stems and leaf-bits from riding up on the piping-hot tea. More than anything in this world, JoJo, I coveted that mate y bombilla. They were the most beautiful objects I’d ever seen in all my life. I was certain that owning them would bring me mighty magic; that all the power of the jade, leather, silver and stone would be bundled up in one amazing super-nova of the soul! Oh how a boy’s mind can roam…
JoJo -- Still some of that little guy is left.
Caudillo – Only one problema grande – the mate y bombilla cost 36,000 pesos -- 36 lucas. That was 9 whole months allowance. It was always just beyond my grasp, because after I’d saved 3 or 4 lucas, my friends at school would tempt me and we’d sneak down to the snack kiosk after class for candy bars and Mentos. Always the Mentos, every week. So I never could gather 36 lucas to buy my prizes at Recuerdos de Ricardos. I failed to muster enough discipline -- even over 2 or 3 years. The two old men never sold that set and it haunted my childhood in a lingering sorta way. Made me feel like a traitor to my own soul.
JoJo -- I do understand. Nothing aches like a dream deferred... too long.
Caudillo -- You know the only A+ I ever got in college English was an essay in my freshman year, when I wrote about longing for that mate' set, a metaphor for unfulfilled amor, or ambitions throttled by the world around you. I blamed my friends for muddling my resolve to save, so I wasted all my lucas on snacks and mints. Such an idiot I was. I actually titled that essay, “Non Compos Mentos.”
JoJo -- ( Her eyes have tears just forming; but she starts chuckling, then holds her hands over her mouth like a coy Japanese school girl. )
Dearest Cowboy, there’s so much that I need, I want... to learn.
Caudillo -- Yo tambien'. But there’s more to my story. Still want me to go on? ( She nods yes, vigorously. ) So one morning in La Cumbre, I’m like 11 years old, standing there at my magic window, palms and nose against the glass – some days both Rickys would scold me for greasing up their window – and there I stood, staring at my sacred mate y bombilla, when suddenly I feel a presence behind me, looming like a great shadow. But a shadow that smelled of wet wool. I turned and there was an old man with amazingly bright eyes, kind eyes, wearing this old-fashioned London wool cap like Watson from Sherlock Holmes, and a kind of woolen cape with a Scottish print that I’d never seen before in La Cumbre or Buenos Aires. Somehow he knew I spoke English; maybe he saw the St. Paul’s Academy crest on my sweater. He said, “Hello son, I am Meester Manucho.” He had a classic Castellano Spanish accent. Then the old man asked me, “What are you looking for, what do you desire, hijito?” I pointed out the mate and bombilla, he said, “Oh yes, I have seen that too – a true tesoro de plata y oro. So lovely a treasure of silver and gold. You have excellent taste, young man.”
JoJo -- So who was ol' gramps, anyway?
Caudillo -- ( Ignores her question, pushing on... ) I said, "I'll bet Martin Fierro sipped his yerba mate from one like this, no? That made him strong." He smiled so warmly at me. Then he told me all about the mate' silversmith, whom he knew, and said my fascination with these objects showed I have the spirit of a warrior and a poet, and someday I would grow up to do great things for Mother Argentina.
Caudillo -- “Why not Father Argentina?” I remember asking him.
Caudillo -- “Just look at our long dark freight train of failures, so many disgraced dictators,” he said. “Never forget the Perons, Juan and Evita, then Los Tres Boludos, the Junta Trio of Generals who swept away all those fine young lives, who killed Los Desaparecidos,” he replied.
Caudillo -- “Argentina has no father, only mothers," the old man said. "Millions of mothers who march and teach. Mothers who will never forget. Nunca te olvides, che'. Never forget…”
JoJo -- Like the plaques in our Holocaust museums. Oh yes...
Caudillo -- He was speaking to me like I was a college man, not a kid. There was a kind of aching wisdom, a sadness in his eyes and his voice – both wistful and angry. But gentle like a grandpa, too. Standing there on the street, a man in his late 60s with a skinny 5th grader. We talked about the motherland, about the 15,000 dissidents, students, all gone without a trace, about the hundreds of kidnapped babies who were torn from the arrested women and sold into forced adoption in the 1970s, growing up in homes run by the very officer who killed their natural father. ( Sighs from marrow-deep. ) Imagine evil that consuming.
JoJo -- Oh gosh, I need to read your history; we never learned this in our Oberschule.
Caudillo -- Jojo it was Argentina's Lost Generation, the Disappeared Ones, thousands of whom the generals condemned. Young men and women were hurled alive from military helicopters, 2000 meters above the Rio de la Plata – River of Silver. It ran red with innocent blood. Even as a kid I read our national newspaper, La Nacion,’ every day back in Buenos Aires and the kind old man was impressed. Turns out he wrote for La Nacion’ – he was their book and fine arts critic. I think that's why I am a writer today; the abuelito got to me...
JoJo -- Who was he, Caudillo? Can you remember his name? Was he someone who we…
Caudillo -- Oh we’ll get to that… You see, just like today, I kept a journal and wrote down all my adventures every day. Still do today. So the old man and I chatted on and on; the day just melted away like a happy carnival. We talked about the healing air and water, the serenity of the Sierras de Cordoba. He kept this big villa out in Cruz Chica, just a few clicks down the road from La Cumbre. He called his place The Paradise. “¡Qué bárbaro!” (how rad) I said. “Why did you name your home El Paraíso,?” I asked. “Because it is my very own world, a private world where no one judges or condemns, nobody pollutes the air with malice,” he said, half-whispering. “There is only beauty there, beauty and tranquility, so that is where I work.”
JoJo -- ( wistfully... ) What a dream to wrap around your work like a warm panqueque.
Caudillo -- That sounds so cool to live in heaven, I said. “Young man,” the old gent told me, "a philosopher in France once said, ‘Hell is other people,’ but I do not agree. I think hell is either living with no people to love, or living with the wrong ones entirely. “
Caudillo -- Then he said something I will never forget, because it seemed so strange, so alien. It left me feeling unsettled… “Hijito, you are a bright one indeed. I would invite you to El Paraíso ; and we could sip our yerba mates and play chess out on the veranda; we could talk about the arts, or futbol, or the madmen who rule our world -- so many things. But there's a catch. A big one, lad. I would be required to have you bring your Papa’ and Mama’. "
JoJo -- How odd... What did he mean, "Re-quired?"
Caudillo -- There, you have it. Exactly! I had no idea what the old man meant. Then he said, 'I know your father from the country club in Barrio Norte back in Buenos Aires. Rodrigo the cattleman, no?'
Caudillo -- "Oh I get it. No worries," I replied. "They trust me to go all over the place by myself; I take the bus."
“No young man, you are far too young, you would not understand.”
So I said, “Hey I've got a neat idea. I still have a couple lucas left; may I treat you to some Postre de Vigilante -- the quince 'n cheese dessert? The place I like is right next door.” The old man doffed his hat, held it across his chest like this was the national anthem and he said, “Why yes, young man, that sounds just wonderful.” I still remember feeling confused, wondering why he sounded so melancholy, dislocated, even empty while he spoke. Now we enjoyed our quince dessert and coffee. But we ate in total silence.
JoJo -- Please tell me who was your friend, el viejito? C'mon now; are you setting me up here? Is this some urban legend of a guardian angel who vanishes in a blink?
Caudillo – Not quite, but close. He's real. So real. Now get this, JoJo… so I got up to go to the washroom before dessert and I took a while… When I came back to our table, there was that sweet old grandpa holding both hands under the tablecloth and smiling sheepishly. “Sit down son, I have a surprise for you.” Then he pulled out a little red box and plopped it on the table. Know what; he'd gone next door. Inside the box was my mate y bombilla. Can you believe that? I started to cry; I could not help it. To this day they are my prized possessions, eclipsing anything -- motorcycles, cars, vacation homes, whatever. That little gourd and sipper. They mean so much.
JoJo -- Where do you keep the silver gourd? Will you show it to me someday -- soon?
Caudillo – Well sure, querida, but not so fast. All in due time. It’s at my new home on the river, Schloss Martin Fierro. We’ll talk about that later. I have some hopes; but you have yours as well...
JoJo -- Thank you, lieber Mann, for your wonderful story. I had no hint I'd ever reach a part of you like this. I mean, well, today.
Caudillo – No wait, JoJo, that’s not the half of it…. Please listen. That day with the old man came back to me while Dieter was talking -- but not because of the gift. Because of what happened when I got home to our Villa Riachuela. I was so excited to have this adventure in the spirit, being treated as a young adult by a man so wise and cultured, a man of good lineage who knew my father. I told the whole family at suppertime about my day. The chief steward, head of our servants, and the supervisor of the maids were there in the corner by the fireplace. All my siblings were there at the dining room table. I showed them the awesome treasure, my mate y bombilla.
My father stood abruply, pushed his plate aside and asked in a growling voice, “Describe this man, Caudillo. Did he wear a mustache, a gorra de lana and a cape?” “Yes, yes, the mustache, the woolen cap and cape,” I said. “He’s from a fine family in Barrio Norte, Papa’ and he owns a villa in Cruz Chica -- El Paraíso. He even says he knows you from the polo club.”
“Carajo che’ “ Dad swore, “who doesn’t!” Then even though Mama’ was sitting right there -- his wife, the mother of his children -- he cursed and sputtered like a drunken dockworker, “Puta madre, que sonso, tonto, que idiota que sos! You fool, Caudillo! Do you know who was stalking you like you were some venado tuerto, some cock-eyed yearling deer?
JoJo -- OK jiminy Christmas, that’s it! I will brain you with this bottle if you don’t tell me who the hell…
Caudillo -- He was among the most respected novelists of the modern era in Argentina, in all of Latin America. His epic novel of the life of Pier Francesco Orsini, kingpin of the Italian Renaissance, had just been published a few years earlier, to worldwide renown. It was called “Bomarzo.” I mean this guy was so articulate, polite, so steeped in tranquil wisdom, I had a life-changing morning there in La Cumbre. His direct ancestors include the founder of Buenos Aires, Juan de Garay, and distinguished 19th century authors such as Florencio Varela and Miguel Cané. This guy was a bona fide blueblood, a prince of Argentina's golden years.
But you know what Papa’ was screaming, so loud that maids rushed in from the next building, terrified…? All my father could say was this: “Manucho my ass. Don’t you listen in the streets, Caudillo? Have you nothing but donkey dung between your ears?
Manucho is Manuel Mujica Láinez, puto gorriado. Es maricon’ che’ – he’s a homosexual, son.”
JoJo -- Oh dear, those words...
Caudillo -- Papa' grabbed my collar and twisted the cloth like a tourniquet; I was half-choking. He pressed me back against the oak buffet and hissed, “I am so ashamed of you, some firstborn son you are. Consorting in the open with that mincing queer. Then you shared a meal with this man, for God’s sake! Did he pour any powder into your drink? It’s a wonder he did not whisk you off to a backroom for, aww Lord, for…”
( Caudillo’s hand is trembling, his cheeks are flushed. Jojo holds his hand with both of hers, her eyes riveted to his. )
Caudillo -- Then Papa’ said, “Boy, we are Catholics. We are God-fearing Christians, patriots, and our culture does not condone that homo lifestyle. No matter what they say in the tango bars in La Boca, in the back streets of B.A. Do not bring disgrace and gossip down upon our house. Ours is a noble house, Caudillo. Use your brain… oh puta madre’ che’ ! My own son shared a meal with the Flaming Faggot of Cruz Chica!
Caudillo -- Not, "You shared a meal with a man of luminous letters, a genius novelist, an artist who helped shaped Argentina's finest era. What an honor son, for such a young lad."
JoJo -- I see, oh God. I understand...
Caudillo -- JoJo, I still feel the fire of humiliation in my face, in my chest. I will never forget the way Papa’ dishonored me in front of half our staff, and my entire family. I wanted to die right there. All I'd ever wanted was my Dad to be proud of me, to see me growing up to be the man in charge, the man of grit and purpose, just like him. Aww God, I dashed out of the dining room, ran to a closet and yanked a couple blankets out then sprinted to the stables. Aldo Rafael saddled up my usual horse and I rode hard for hours up the river trail -- my shirt was soaked in front and it wasn't sweat, or dew -- then I slept that night with a pillow of dried weeds, wrapped in my blankets, under a tree by the river.
JoJo – My God. Wha- what happened; what did your father do then? Did you get a beating later?
Caudillo – Oh no, here’s the thing. After his explosions, he would vanish into his study for half a day, then come out later like nothing ever happened. That was the most frightening thing of all. He was a volcano who could blow -- any time! My family walked on eggshells nearly every day. But that dreadful day he grabbed me, ripped my manly pride away, was never mentioned again.
Nor was the name of Manuel Mujica Láinez.
( His voice is curling with sarcasm. )
Oooh... beware that dangerous man, that alien queer who sucks the lifeblood from little boys by light of the werewolf moon. Oh my old bent father -- that was a turning point. So much changed after that, forever. I went to college in the States, settled down in Seattle. Got as far away from that ratbag as I could.
JoJo -- And your Mom, what became of her, the poor dear woman?
Caudillo – That’s the gist, amiga… I have only three regrets about my boyhood days: that Mama’ never felt peace in her home again -- all her sons went off and melted into the world; that I never got to talk with Meester Manucho again -- he'd helped me feel so strong and grown-up; and I never went back to Villa Riachuela, nor to visit my beloved village of La Cumbre. JoJo, I never tasted that special quince and cheese nor smelled that sweet fresh bread again...
( She sits up straight, chin quivering with emotion. His face is stone.)
( All lights dim at center stage; chorus remains in mysterious light. Stage goes silent for about 15 seconds. )
* * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 2, SCENE 4 -- ( Spotlight back on JoJo and Caudillo's table. They stand and move together, holding hands, nearly tenderly. Then they slowly walk outside the front door and take a left, strolling the porch to its furthest downstage end, at the open end of the set and therefore visible to all theater patrons. JoJo leans back seductively against wall, one leg curled up at the knee, shoe sole on the wall. Caudillo leans on wall with his back arm right at her shoulder. Their faces draw closer... )
JoJo -- I'm feeling, well Caudi I am feeling happy that we came here tonight. I am swimming in your memories, in your boyhood. Thank you for your honest heart.
Caudillo -- I feel the same, my mina fina. It's good to be this close to you. ( He gently strokes her hair back from her forehead and traces lightly around her ear. ) Sometimes I feel like I've known you for, for years. You are soft and warm and you are real...
JoJo -- But I want to feel warmer, feel more, more real to you. I need to be next to you, alone, away from here. May I stay with you tonight, my cowboy? Will you stay long with me... ? Please take me home, Caudi ?
( She half whispers, suddenly remembering. )
Ah sacre bleu, and me without my diaphragm...
Beta Babe -- Just three slick syllables and his heart quickens -- instantly. The pulse is pounding in his neck, his ribs; he feels a firmness start to gather in the core, beyond any hope of hiding. She sees it and her eyelids flutter, keeping time with her own accelerating pulse. What can this be? They were both so well locked down, so safe before this evening.
Alpha Dog -- The pheromones are flowing; a sweet symphonic breeze of scent, discerned only by the deepest mid-brain cells.
Beta Boy -- OK amigo. It's your move. Don't go all middle-school and weak-kneed now. Don't choke. Just seal the deal.
Beta Babe -- Choke you say? Go choke yourself on a wet dishrag, Neanderthal! Is your optic nerve linked only to your groin and not your brain?
Alpha Dog -- He sees she's had too much wine, too little sleep; and he's sensing new windows to her heart... Caudillo's feeling humble in that glow of wisdom.
Beta Babe -- The hunter's left the gatherer in charge. At last...
Beta Boy -- What a pity. Even plutocrats in training can fall prey to moments of maturity. How will he say it the next day: "Geez Louise! I turned it down? What was I thinking?"
Caudillo -- Mujercita dulce, JoJocita. You seem tired tonight, a little wan. I've never had a woman in my new house, nor in my new bed -- not one. And I might want you to be the first, sweet JoJo. But at a time that's right, in happy spirits, healthy harmony. Not when your vision's blurred. I know a perfect all-night place on the west side -- Lola's Tea Tree. She's got marvelous infusions, herbal teas to bolster your immune system, and God knows my own resolve. For weeks I've daydreamed and night-sweated over your lovely smile, your sun-spun hair right there before me, wondering what you would be like to touch, to kiss you like a drink down deep. You are so dear, so tender under all that Iceland steel. I want that night to be beyond all doubt, all fear, beyond all acting or reacting.
JoJo -- Me too, sweet man. We can wait a while. ( She reaches with both hands and pulls him close and they kiss in a fusion, embracing like their lives were in the balance. Even the chorus starts to shake a bit. )
( Now she's speaking dreamily, with a new intoxication. There's a hint of one last shimmy of rebellion. The Pinot Noir is talking... )
But maybe it's not all up to you, eh Cowboy? Maybe I'll just slip you my Love Potion Number Nine, then lick you hot inside your ear, then when I have you shakin' all over -- just jump your bones. I'm a liberated woman, I am mistress of my own domain.
Caudillo -- Oh dear Jojo... Weeks ago, when I started seeing the shades pull up, just bits at a time... since then I've never wanted you to be just my mistress. Never after this.
( Firmly, yet gently as a florist grooming orchids, he moves her back a ways, hands square on her shoulders. Then he warmly, quickly kisses her forehead and takes one hand like she's the Queen of Germany. He kisses her trembling wrist and says, looking into her eyes... )
We have plenty of time, wild rose. No rush at all.
Beta Boy -- JoJo's Ice Queen fortress now is melting in a puddle of light, like sweet butter left too long in the mid-day sun. The man has chosen welfare of another before his own. It's all good.
Beta Babe -- Don't tell me; are you going all softy and mature now? Geez Louise. Whoever would've thought? Hey, are you putting on a show for me, or what?
( Beta Boy rushes over and in one neat instant places an index finger gently on the lips of Beta Babe, with a "shushing" seal. Both smile, radiant with joy. Spotlight dims on the couple out on the porch. JoJo and Caudillo kiss again, like life depends on it. House lights down for 12 seconds; soft jazz harmonies are playing. )
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
ACT 2, SCENE 5 -- ( Spotlight rises again on Jojo and Caudillo, still outside on the bistro's front porch. He's cupped her cheek and chin tenderly in his hands. Her hands are on his waist, stroking up and down, so slightly. Then Dieter the Doter rushes in from stage right, across the club. )
Dieter the Doter -- Whoops, just call me Mr. Lame! I always pick the bonehead moment. I, I mean the wrongest moment... oh so sorry guys, I didn't know you'd be...
Caudillo -- That's cool amigo. No hay problema. We are heading out. But say, you still had something on your mind before, no?
Dieter the Doter -- No, yes! I mean yes, yes. How did you know? Oh you remembered Mr. Caudillo. That's so cool... How did you remember?
Caudillo -- Look kid, we like you. I do not approve of your lifestyle; but it's not mine to judge. Not gonna let anything ugly happen to you, not at the hands of that rabble. Let me think... Maybe I can find you new work. My father's company owns two warehouses just north of here... one is regular, the other caters to kosher and halal restaurants. Fine Pampas beef for the masses. Range-fed, free of GMOs, free of prejudice. Well almost... Just don't let on, I mean, you know, that you are...
Dieter the Doter -- Of course, sir. I understand.
JoJo -- Mein Junge, listen, I might have a place for you to stay, at least until the heat dies down.
Caudillo -- ( He reaches out, halfway across the table, then halts and rests his hand there. ) I'll take care of that, no worries JoJo. I've got extra rooms in that place I just bought on the river, down in Mühlheim am Rhein. It's a wonderful stone building, huge. Not even Frankenstein's villagers could reach you there, with all their torches and pitchfolks. I call it my River Castle on the Rhein. Schloss Martin Fierro. You'll be more than welcome to stay awhile, kid. No rent. Just buy your own groceries and gas. And shut the stove, the lights, before you leave for work each morning. Sound cool?...
Dieter the Doter -- May dear God be with you and bless you richly, Mr. C. You are wise and kind and you are steady, just like my Modern Euro History prof, Ms Tannenbaum. She is a Jewish lady... I know, my parents would flip out... but to hell with that. I love her mind, her wit. She's amazing. All those things my Abu said about the Jews; he's such a bag of hot air, sir. My parents are back a couple centuries, no millenia behind the times.
Alpha Dog -- You bet Jurassic.
Dieter the Doter -- The Jews I know here in Cologne, they are kind and clever, smart as whips, and God protect me -- I love their Ruebens, too, with extra kraut and mustard. Wouldn't Mom and Dad just croak?
Dieter the Doter -- Now, about your Belfast game, Miss JoJo, Mr. C; it's not so funny there, not even after all these years. Ms. Tannenbaum was lecturing the other day about the Catholics and Protestants and all that endless civil war in Northern Ireland. She said for decades they called it "The Troubles" -- such an understatement when nearly 3,600 British soldiers and North Irish civilians died fighting in the streets. So many horrific bombings, shootings. Body parts, pieces of babies and their moms, flew everywhere. No need, my friends, to make light of it, pretending to build a bar for yuppies in a place where so much sorrow...?
JoJo -- Oh Dieter, we were just, you know...
Dieter the Doter -- The Sunday paper said for the first time in nearly 20 years, since the Good Friday Truce in 1998, a bomb went off in Belfast -- again -- just last week. That bad guy tried to kill some cops; and everybody's scared the IRA is gearing up for another Easter Rising, on the century anniversary. Your Easter Feast, Mr C, isn't that your holiest of days? The day your prophet is said to have risen from his tomb? Well next Sunday is Easter. Next Sunday, mind you. So maybe we all must pray...
Caudillo -- I'm down with that, amigo. That's cool.
Dieter the Doter -- My prof, that lovely Jewish comet of a woman, I kept staying late to ask more questions; so once she took me out for tea and said something that still echoes in my head, like some heavy iron bell: "Remember Dieter, ISIS is to Islamic people, as the IRA was to Catholics. So few Catholics in Ireland approved of those bombings, and were ashamed of their vengeful neighbors. Therefore, in that light of history, can we really paint so many Muslims so harshly, with such a small and brutal brush today?"
Caudillo -- Claro que si.
Dieter the Doter -- My prof is so in tune; she gets it, man. I want my Muslim friends to be the same, not passing along the hatred they learned from their parents. All those millions of Catholics everywhere, and how many sided with the IRA when they read the news, right? So not every lady in a burka carries a vest of death inside. So few. So few are the lost, the doomed...
Alpha Dog -- The damned. And no 72 virgin lovers waiting. Not one, just a sea of sulfur demons. Leering, cheering at the loss of life and love.
JoJo -- Thank heavens for your professor. Not that I believe in heaven, or Sulfur Central, but you know...
Dieter the Doter -- Sure. Let's stay on earth for a while more. Most Muslims only want to eat and sleep and work and pray in peace. To love their children and their grandkids too. I know I do. Please pray we all can throw away our hateful paintbrushes...? Especially those marauding men on New Years Eve. They make God wince and weep, I know. Please pray for all of us. I promise that I'll pray for all your people, too.
Caudillo -- Pray for whom now, Dieter? I'm unsure here...
Dieter the Doter -- For all of us, for you and me; for Jews and Arabs, for Palestinians and Israeli settlers on their doorsteps; for my safety, for my job, for my frail old parents and their fearful generation, just soaked in anxiety day after day; for those dull drunken lads downtown on New Year's Eve -- so they can turn their lives around; and for those poor battered ladies, those innocents, sisters and daughters of somebody, all those women who suffered such indignity.
JoJo -- No prophet, not ours nor yours, would ever bless such savagery.
Dieter the Doter -- And more: let's pray for all the fascist leaders you were pointing at, that they will melt like vampires in the light of morning -- yep I listened in, you know it -- sorry guys; Miss JoJo is sooo right.
JoJo -- Let's even put a good word in with ol' Mr. Sky Guy for Rah-Rah-Rah Ras-Putin. Not that I believe in praying, but...why not?
Dieter the Doter -- That Russian boss looks smart and bold, like something good and decent, maybe a trace of noble thought still lives behind those icy Russian eyes. Perhaps there's hope...
Beta Boy -- Let's hope there's hope, so we can cope.
Beta Babe -- Don't be a dope! Nope. Don't mope. ( He does. )
Dieter the Doter -- Miss Tannenbaum, my beautiful Zionist professor who flies in the face of everything my Dad is saying, talks about the state of human reprobation. That occurs when a leader, a fascist of whatever stripe, falls so far-gone into his evil, that it's impossible to heal. Then Miss T says, by coup d'etat or divine hand they must fall...hard.
Caudillo -- Like Saddam Hussein's statute, wham, down into the dirt.
Dieter the Doter -- Yes, yes... Look at me, is this holiness or sin; I'm agreeing with a Jew, a Catholic and ( he looks at JoJo) an agnostic maybe? Oh Miss Tannenbaum, she's so hot, so keen to grow. What's happening? I'm Muslim, gay and I think I kinda love that lady. Am I bonkers? Boy, I'd kiss her on the cheek for sure; but then I'd get an F.
JoJo -- And your Dad would soil his undies. But first he'd have to know you're gay.
Dieter the Doter -- I know. It's crazy to imagine, no? Oops, there's my boss again. Gotta jet, gotta bail, gotta see a lady about a dog, dig? I got that from an American rock magazine. You like it?
( Dieter and Caudillo bump fists overhead, grinning like two Cheshire cats. Dieter scurries off. )
Alpha Dog -- If pregnant pauses could be measured, this was well into the 10th month. JoJo and Caudillo stared at the retreating skinny wraith of Dieter the Doter and their faces both looked stunned, as if they'd just been seared by a searchlight.
Caudillo -- Whew... Good thing Dieter left when he did. Could you feel the, you know the...?
JoJo -- Yes, the grace and wisdom. Out of the mouths of babes... Now back to earth... Forgive me please; I got too worked up out there on the porch. Miss Hormone Hussy. Sorry I got you so steamed up too. Pleeease don't put anything on social media. I so want to open up to you, sweet man.
( He stands, leans over and kisses her deeply on the lips. They smile. )
Caudillo -- I promise, Jojo. I'd never, good Lord. You mean the world to me. Hey, I care less about going big on social media -- than I do about the fate of mosquito larvae after the first frost. FarceBook, Twaddle, Thin-terest. Who cares about stacking up all those likes 'n clicks? You still keep track? If so, I cannot fathom why. More likes gonna getcha into heaven? Or a better life on Earth? Topping the FarceBook-Likes Derby seems on a par with winning the talent show at Lakeside Hospital Alzheimer's Ward.
JoJo -- ( She breaks out laughing. ) We need to leave right now, dear man. We're starting to retreat into intellectualizing again. Such a nerdy defense mechanism.
Caudillo -- Agreed, li'l blossom. See... ever the gentleman, I gave you the last word. And ever the lady, you let me have it. Oh how you let me have it, JoJo, every time...
JoJo -- You ain't seen nothin' yet...
( He suddenly stands, drains the last legs of the noble Pinot Noir and says in a slightly shaky voice... )
Caudillo -- "Oh Geez...time we headed out. I'll walk you home. But first we go to La-lo-lo-lo Lolas! ( Sung to the old Kinks' tune. ) Che' changuita, vamos...
Beta Boy -- She nods and flashes a warmer smile, then lowers her eyes for a moment. The faintest of frowns touches her forehead, then vanishes quickly. She heads out to the back door, half a step ahead of him.
Alpha Dog -- ( Looking skyward ) Forgive them. Forgive us. Them. Us. Them. Us. Them. Oh Geez Louise, forgive us all, for we know not what we do.
JoJo -- Oh yes we do; we're heading out for herbal tea at Lola's.
Caudillo -- Damn straight, Doggy Dude!
( Caudillo hands the waiter a bundle of cash and leans upon a pillar, whispering hoarsely to Dieter the Doter... )
Caudillo -- Ciao, cheers, no time for fears, Dieter. Yep we'll pray for you, for your family. And you do too, for us. OK? Stay healthy. Keep your nose clean and keep me posted. Here's my mobile number; punch it in. Stay off FarceBook, kid; you need to keep low-key. Just for a while. Got it?
Dieter the Doter -- Good advice; you have wisdom, Mr. Caudillo. Thank you again. Now, before you leave -- have you ever read this posting on the pillar? Yeah, there, right there by your left shoulder. The House Rules. The first couple are blah-blah typical, you know, no chewing gum under the tables, no personal checks. But what's that 7th rule mean, Mr. C? Been wanting to ask you for a couple weeks.
Caudillo -- ( He leans in close to the pillar, face at shoulder level, squinting to read the tiny type. ) Whoa, this is like the fine print on a Beijing wholesale contract... Let's see... "Think before you speak. Whatever you do to the least of my brothers or sisters, you do to me. Signed - The Owner.
Alpha Dog -- Caudillo sees JoJo waving him over with her index finger and a come-hither smile that gives him flutter-pulse again.
Caudillo -- Dieter, and be cool OK? What happens in Walpurgis, stays in... hey Bruder Mann, you know the drill. We're off.
Beta Boy -- Like a prom dress!
Beta Babe -- Oh youuu !
( She grins broadly, whirls and tweaks his nose area like a clown horn and there's a long goofy blast of circus sound -- EE-errgh ! )
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
FINALE -- ( Cue soundtrack, rising gradually -- "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." The stage fades to black and only a glowing cigar and cigarette can be seen -- floating gently in the darkness for another minute, half a meter apart at shoulder level, now a few centimeters apart -- now half a meter again -- framed by the back doorway of Walpurgis Nacht Cafe'.)
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