by Jim Cort
JACK: Early 30's. Intelligent, easy going, sympathetic. He has a
pleasant, sincere voice when he wants to. When he talks to MULLIGAN,
he's more likely to assume a mocking tone.
MULLIGAN: A bartender and owner of the bar. Mid '50's. His voice is
crammed full of Jersey City (or Brooklyn, if you prefer). Mulligan
dislikes everyone; it's just a question of degree.
THE BLACK MAN: An African educated in England from an early age.
Mid-40's. He has a voice like James Earl Jones: a rich, hypnotic
baritone. He keeps himself under rigid control at all times. Sometimes
the strain of this is hinted at in his tone of voice.
NEWSWOMAN: Late '20's. Professional. Takes herself too seriously.
Sounds like every newswoman you've ever heard.
SOME CROWD SOUNDS AND VOICES ARE ALSO NEEDED
SFX: AFRICAN DRUMS, TWO OR THREE OF THEM PLAYING A SAVAGE BEAT. THIS
IS NOT HAPPY MUSIC. SOMETHING TERRIBLE IS GOING ON WHILE THESE DRUMS
PLAY, SOMETHING MONSTROUS AND THREATENING. CROSS-FADE WITH:
SFX: THE SOUND, FILTERED, OF A CROWD OF PROTESTERS CHANTING "MURDERERS
MUST GO". WE ARE LISTENING TO THE TV IN MULLIGAN'S BAR. THE CHANTING
CONTINUES UNDER THE VOICE OF THE NEWSWOMAN.
NEWSWOMAN: (On TV) This is Blair Holland, Channel 12 Action News,
reporting live from the Hotel Rochester. Demonstrators began arriving as
early as 6 o'clock this morning at the Rochester to protest the
continued presence of deposed dictator General Immamu M'Buotu. The
impetus for this latest wave of demonstrations is surely the official
request by the Provisional Government of the troubled African country of
Shambra that the General be returned to stand trial for, as they put it,
"Crimes against the people".
mulligan: (exasperated) Oh, Jeez.
NEWSWOMAN: (On TV) The State Department has promised a response to this
extradition request some time today, and Action News will report it as
it happens. In the meantime, these demonstrators from the Coalition for
International Justice are leaving no doubt about where they stand on the
SFX: WE'RE STILL HEARING THE CHANT "MURDERERS MUST GO", A LITTLE MORE
DISTINCTLY NOW, SINCE THE NEWSWOMAN HAS STOPPED TALKING. A DOOR OPENS.
WE HEAR THE SAME CHANT THAT IS COMING FROM THE TV, BUT NOT FILTERED; IN
"REAL LIFE", SO TO SPEAK. THE PROTESTERS ARE JUST ACROSS THE STREET.
FOR A MOMENT WE HEAR BOTH REAL LIFE AND TV CHANTERS IN UNISON, AND THEN
THE DOOR CLOSES, THE CHANT FROM ACROSS THE STREET IS CUT OFF, BUT IT
CONTINUES ON THE TV UNDER THE NEXT FEW LINES.
JACK: Hiya, Mulligan. What's going on across the street?
mulligan: Ahh, some bigshot stayin' at the Rochester. They're just
talkin' about it on the TV here.
NEWSWOMAN: (On TV under the next few lines. This is just background
noise.) I have here with me Mr. Dorian Prang, public relations director
for the Coalition for International Justice and coordinator of today's
demonstration. Mr. Prang, are we correct in thinking that the
extradition request from the Provisional Government of Shambra is the
reason for your all being here today?
JACK: Why this sudden interest in current events?
MULLIGAN: (defending himself) I was tryin' to get the game. If I want
to see this crap, I can look out the window. Wait'll I turn the sound
SFX: CHANTING, NEWSWOMAN'S SPEECH CUT OFF.
MULLIGAN: You want a beer?
JACK: The first of many, Mulligan. Who is this bigshot?
SFX: A BOTTLE OF BEER IS OPENED, A GLASS PLACED ON A WOODEN BAR AND
THE BEER POURED INTO IT under MULLIGAN'S NEXT LINE.
MULLIGAN: (couldn't care less) I dunno. Some African guy, they said. I
seen him comin' in one time. He had on this fancy uniform, all
drippin'with medals. We had a name for guys like that in the Army.
Here's your beer .
JACK: Thanks. So how's business?
MULLIGAN: Terrible. Those screwballs out there are driving everybody
JACK: I'm here.
MULLIGAN: You're always here. Oh, looks like the game's on. I'll turn
the sound back up.
SFX: ON TV: THE BROADCAST OF A BASEBALL GAME: STADIUM SOUNDS, AN
ANNOUNCER DOING PLAY_BY PLAY, THE OCCASIONAL CRACK OF A BAT. THIS
CONTINUES UNDER UNTIL JACK WALKS AWAY FROM THE BAR.
MULLIGAN: Looks like it's already started.
JACK: Listen, Mulligan, why don't you drum up some business with the
protestors? That yelling must be awful thirsty work.
MULLIGAN: Nah, look at 'em. They're all granola-heads. College kids.
All they ever drink is bottled water and fruit juice They're not gonna
come in here. I figure today it's just me and you (whispers) and that
crazy guy at the last table.
JACK: What, the black guy?
JACK: The black guy in the three piece suit over there? He's crazy?
MULLIGAN: He don't look it, right? All dressed up like some Harvard
p'fessa or something. He plays with dolls
JACK: What do you mean, dolls?
MULLIGAN: He's been in here since eleven o'clock drinkin' Bermuda
highballs and playin' with this doll. It's about as big as your hand
and made outa straw or somethin'. It's got this piece of white cloth
wrapped around it like a skirt.
JACK: (makes a disbelieving noise)
MULLIGAN: You think I'm makin' this up, don't you?
JACK: (lying badly) No, no. If you say the guy's got a doll…
MULLIGAN: Yeah, yeah. You don't believe me. Why don't you go over and
look for yourself. It's sittin' right there on the table.
JACK: (trying not to laugh and failing) Mulligan, I'm not going to walk
up to some guy I never saw before and say, "Pardon me, can I play with
MULLIGAN: I bet you a beer. I'll bet you a beer it's there just like
JACK: Mulligan I can't just--
MULLIGAN: You can make like you're going over to check out the
jukebox. Just take a look at the table. I'll bet you two beers .
JACK: All right, all right. You get those beers ready, 'cause I'll be
SFX: BARSTOOL SCRAPES THE FLOOR; FOOTSEPS STROLLING, TV BALL GAME FADES
UNDER JACK"S NEXT LINE.
JACK: (to himself) I don't know how I let myself get talked into these
SFX: FOOTSTEPS STOP.
JACK: (to himself) Here's the jukebox. Oh, swell, I don't have any
BLACK MAN: What are you looking at, sir?
JACK: (like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar) Who, me?
BLACK MAN: Come closer. Get a better look.
JACK: Oh, no. That's all right. I'll just--
BLACK MAN: (His voice is perfectly even, but now it has an edge and a
forcefulness, like a hypnotist talking to a subject) Come closer.
JACK: (lying his head off) Yeah, well I was just noticing that doll of
yours. I was wondering where'd you get it. I'd like to get my kid one
BLACK MAN: It is not a toy. It is a juju.
JACK: A juju. That's very…uh…interesting.
BLACK MAN: Wait. Sit down.
JACK: I really have to get back--
BLACK MAN: (the hypnotist's voice) Sit down.
SFX: A wooden CHAIR SCRAPING THE FLOOR AND CREAKING AS JACK SITS IN IT.
BLACK MAN: You have no child. You wanted to find out about me. I
shall tell you. All these years I have told no one, but I shall tell
you because I need to tell someone. Perhaps it will help me decide.
JACK: Decide what?
BLACK MAN: What is to be done with the juju.
JACK: Oh, I see.
BLACK MAN: No, you do not. But you will, perhaps Do you know what a
juju is? It is a man's soul. And his body.
JACK: Who's this?
BLACK MAN: General Immamu M'Buotu.
JACK: That's the guy all this fuss is about. He's staying at the
Rochester. Some kind of dictator or something.
BLACK MAN: Not some kind; the worst kind. A murderer countless times
JACK: I remember seeing on TV, after the revolution that kicked this
General out, There was a concentration camp out in the jungle.
BLACK MAN: Mogandu
JACK: Yeah, that's the place. I remember there was this ditch all
filled with skulls.
BLACK MAN: Some of them were of children. He has spilt much blood. My
country has been drowned in it. He took most of the treasury with him
when he fled. He has gone from place to place looking for a haven. And
now he is here, right across the street. I am afraid your government
may let him stay here.
JACK: What's all this got to do with you?
BLACK MAN: I owe the General a debt that only the juju can repay.
Sit quietly and I will tell you a story.
When I was a boy, no more than twelve, I lived in a small village with
my father and mother and sisters. Life was good then. My clan was
respected. My father's brother was nganga to the village.
You would say "witch doctor", but you would be wrong. I have seen
your films and heard your jokes. That is not what a nganga is. My
uncle was a healer. He could set a man at peace with the ancestors. He
knew the herbal lore and the spirit talk. He could break spells. I can
see in your face that you do not believe me, but these things are true.
I have seen them. It does not matter. My uncle was a good man. I
never saw him harm anyone.
SFX: (UNDER) engines of 3 large army trucks; heavy tires on dirt and
gravel; brakes; tailgates open and booted men leap down to the dirt,
calling to one another.
BLACK MAN: One night, in the dead of night, the soldiers came . The
General was not yet a general, but even then he was a powerful man.
He owned copper mines and he needed workers. My village was small.
No one would miss it when it was gone.
SFX: (UNDER) the anxious murmur of as crowd of people being herded
along; women's voices; children crying, shuffled footsteps
BLACK MAN: The soldiers turned us out of our homes and began to herd us
into the trucks.
SFX: (UNDER) One voice in the crowd begins shouting, cut short by a
single gunshot; a WOMAN SCREAMS, WAILS AND MOANS
BLACK MAN: My father tried to resist and the captain in charge shot him
dead in front of us.
SFX: (UNDER) MORE SHUFFLED STEPS AND FOOTSTEPS ON THE METAL FLOORS OF
THE TRUCKS. TAILGATES SLAM;
BLACK MAN: The captain forced my uncle and me into one of the trucks.
My mother and sisters were put in another; I never saw them again.
SFX: (UNDER) ENGINES START; TRUCKS PULL AWAY AND THE ENGINE NOISE
BLACK MAN: As the trucks prepared to leave I saw my uncle staring at
the captain from the back of the truck. I heard him say in a low voice
that chilled me:
THE UNCLE: (part of the background, but more distinct. The voice is
hoarse and choked with hatred.) Ti cha sangana.
BLACK MAN: "We will meet again."
sfx: (UNDER) ENGINE NOISE QUICKLY FADES IN; RUNNING WATER IN A STREAM
AND THE TRUCK TIRES SPLASHING THROUGH;
BLACK MAN: The trucks drove on through most of the night. They had to
slow down to ford a small stream, and when they did:
SFX: (UNDER) COMMOTION IN THE TRUCK; TWO BODIES LAND HEAVILY ON DIRT;
RUNNING FOOTSTEPS x2; PANTING x2
BLACK MAN: My uncle leaped from the back of the truck, dragging me with
SFX: (UNDER) TALL GRASS RUSTLING; MORE PANTING; SOLDIERS SHOUTING IN
BLACK MAN: We ran and hid in the tall grass. We could hear the
soldiers searching for us for what seemed like hours.
SFX: (UNDER) TRUCKS STARTING UP AND DRIVING OFF.
BLACK MAN: Finally, the trucks pulled away, and there was silence.
I had been torn from my family . I had seen my father killed. I felt
that nothing worse could happen to me. But it was then that the true
SFX: AFRICAN DRUMS,AS IN THE INTRO FADE IN UNDER THESE NEXT LINES AND
CONTINUE IN THE BACKGROUND.
BLACK MAN: My uncle took some of the grass and fashioned two jujus.
From a fold of his clothing he produced a button he had managed to rip
from the captain's tunic. He tied this to one of the jujus. Then he
gathered several long thorns.
He took two of the thorns and placed them on the head where the eyes
would be. Then he slowly, slowly pushed them in. Then he pushed in
another just below the head. After that; another in the middle of the
body. Then again, another between the legs where they joined the body.
Each time he told me what was happening to the captain.
I sat there staring in the icy moonlight. I had never seen my uncle
like that. I had never seen anyone like that.
SFX: (UNDER) CAMPFIRE CRACKLING
BLACK MAN: Finally, just before dawn, he built a fire and hung the
juju over it. It was a mad thing to do. I watched it scorch and
blacken and burst into flame. And I watched my uncle's face as he
stared at the fire, saw it change. I realized then that he was no
longer a nganga. He was a muroyi -- a witch.
SFX: (UNDER) drums fade out; SOLDIERS' SHOUTS AT A DISTANCE; COMMOTION
IN THE TALL GRASS, BOTH COMING CLOSER
Then we heard the shouts, and we knew that all the soldiers had not left
with the trucks. They had seen the fire. My uncle thrust the remaining
juju into my hands and made me swear that I would do for the General
what he had done for the captain. He called down the wrath of the
ancestors upon me should I ever break my oath. Then he left to draw the
soldiers away. I huddled in the grass, too terrified to move, and after
a little while…
SFX: (UNDER) A BURST OF AUTOMATIC FIRE IN THE DISTANCE.
BLACK MAN: I knew he was gone.
I don't know how long I stayed there. Someone found me at last and
brought me to the missionary clinic. I was nearly dead from exposure,
but I still clutched the juju so tightly that they could not prise my
fingers from it.
When I could finally tell my story, the missionaries realized that I
must be got away. They disguised me as a servant and got me away to
England. The missionary's brother was a bishop. He adopted me and sent
me to public school, and later to the university. Everywhere I went, the
juju went with me.
BLACK MAN: Through the bishop's influence, I obtained a position at the
university. I saved every penny I could. Throughout all those years I
kept hearing of the General -- his seizing of power in the capital and
the bloodbath that followed; all those years of anguish and degradation
in my homeland. I was the one man who could stop him, but I had to
obtain something that belonged to him first to set the juju's spell.
I was ready to go last year when the coup came that toppled him from
power. The General was expelled from the country and all my plans had
come to nothing .
I followed him in the press to Italy and Brazil. I flew to Mexico to
intercept him there, but I could not get near him. Then Colombia, then
Ecuador. My money was almost gone. At last he came here. This
afternoon the last of my money went for a bribe that got me into his
room at the Rochester. I took one of his handkerchiefs and walked across
the street to this place to keep my oath, to pay my debt, to have my
JACK: Well, what happened?
BLACK MAN: There is the juju, you see, with the handkerchief round it,
just as it was when I came in. I have done nothing, nothing at all.
JACK: I don't understand.
BLACK MAN: Nor do I, sir. When I first came in I went up to the
barman to order a drink, saw my face in the mirror behind him. But it
was not my face; it was my uncle's face flickering in the firelight.
It was the face that has terrified me in my nightmares ever since that
I took my drink and walked over to this table. I sat down and started
to think about what I had become. (a beat)
JACK: Listen, Mister--
BLACK MAN: Have you ever killed a man?
JACK: I don't know. When I was in 'Nam, maybe. Most of the time you
never knew for sure.
BLACK MAN: I have never done. I don't know what it would be like. I
don't know if I can do it. To take a man's life, even a man like the
General, is a terrible thing.
I think this, and then in my mind I see the ditch at Mogandu; all
those skulls. And I think: Who can allow such a creature to live? I
have no answer.
They said on the television that the General may be extradited. There
will be a decision today. He would have to return to Shambra and be
punished for his crimes. If this is so, they will take my vengeance. I
would not have to make this awful choice, the choice I have sworn to
So I sit here and wait, hoping to take the coward's way out.
JACK: Listen, I don't know about all this stuff, but I don't think
you're a coward. I told you I wasn't sure I ever killed anyone in
Vietnam, and that's true. But I sure didn't want to, either. I knew
they'd kill me if I didn't kill them, and I was prepared to do it, but I
always prayed it would never happen. Nobody should have to make that
BLACK MAN: (passionately) I swore on my life. And what has my life
been? Thirty years I have waited for this moment. Not so long ago in
my homeland that was a man's whole lifetime. All these years I have
shut out everything and everyone but that duty. I am the juju. I have
carried those thorns in my flesh for thirty years…a man's whole
MULLIGAN: (across the room) Oh, Jeez, what now?
JACK: There's a bulletin coming on the TV.
SFX: TWO CHAIRS SCRAPE THE FLOOR; HURRIED FOOTSTEPS X2
MULLIGAN: (complaining) Carpenter was just gonna hit into a double play.
JACK: Shut up, Mulligan.
SFX: (UNDER NEWSWOMAN) crowd sounds: indistinct murmuring
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) This is Blair Holland, Channel 12 Action News,
reporting live from the Hotel Rochester The State Department has just
announced that deposed African dictator General Immamu M'Buotu will not
be returned to Shambra to stand trial. This owing to the absence of any
valid extradition treaty between the two countries, according to State
BLACK MAN: Oh, no, no.
JACK: Take it easy.
NEWSWOMAN: (On TV) Police have cordoned off the demonstrators here
outside the Rochester, and we have word that General M'Buotu will be
leaving the hotel momentarily on his way to a meeting with government
officials. We're going to try to get some kind of statement when he
comes out .
(Vamping here, just killing air time until the General shows up. This
is all background under the lines that follow.) This is yet another
chapter in the odyssey of this controversial figure, absolute ruler of
the small African country of Shambra for the past twenty-three years.
Eighteen months ago he was ousted by an alliance of liberal army
officers and civilian political leaders. Since that time the General has
travelled from country to country, first in Europe and then South
America, seeking permanent refuge. But always the specter of his past
has followed him; always the rumors of death squads and corruption on a
grand scale; totalitarian tactics and genocide have made him an uneasy
visitor in whatever country he stopped in, never at rest, never at home.
And now, today, this announcement from the State Department rejecting
the request of the Provisional Government on what seem to be rather
narrow legal grounds. We hope to bring you shortly some reaction from
Mr. Prang of the Coalition for International Justice which has staged
these demonstrations here today, on what strategy they may employ now
that this State Department decision has been made. We're just waiting
for General M'Buotu, who, we've been told, should be leaving the hotel
shortly for a meeting.
BLACK MAN: No, this cannot be.
JACK: Calm down, now. Maybe there's something--
BLACK MAN: (Suddenly terrified) Look!
BLACK MAN: In the mirror; don't you see? (The self control he has shown
up until now is suddenly crumbling.)
JACK: What are you talking about?
BLACK MAN: It's my uncle.
MULLIGAN: What the hell's going on?
JACK: Mister there's nobody in that mirror but the two of us and
BLACK MAN: He's watching me. He knows what I have tried to do.
JACK: I'm telling you, there's nobody there.
BLACK MAN: I must get the juju. I must get the juju.
SFX: HURRIED FOOTSTEPS GOING BACK TO THE TABLE AND APPROACHING AGAIN;
SOUNDS OF A SCUFFLE.
JACK: (struggling) Get a hold of yourself. Stop and think. Do you know
what you're doing?
BLACK MAN: (struggling Let me go. I know what I must do. Let me go.
SFX: HURRIED FOOTSTEPS; DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES.
MULLIGAN: Didn't I tell you that guy was screwy?
JACK: Mulligan, don't you ever make a bet with me again.
MULLIGAN: What did I do?
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) And I see the General's limosine has just pulled up
here, so we should be seeing -- yes here comes the General, flanked, as
always by his two bodyguards.
SFX: (UNDER NEWSWOMAN) crowd reacts to general's appearance; MURMUR
grows louder, more discontented; a few voices can be made out: "there he
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) (calling out) General! General! Do you have any
comment on the State Department --
BLACK MAN: (On TV. He's back in the crowd, yelling) Murderer! Monster!
You cannot escape!
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) There's some sort of commotion in the crowd. Someone
is trying to break through the police line.
MULLIGAN: Hey, it's that guy with the doll.
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) A black man there in the crowd, you can see
him--(suddenly speeds up) and he has gotten past the police. He's
running this way. There's something burning in his hand.
BLACK MAN: (On TV. Yelling a short distance from the NEWSWOMAN's mike)
You cannot escape, you murderer!
SFX: THREE GUNSHOTS, in rapid succession, on TV, CRIES from the crowd
on TV, CONFUSION under the NEWSWOMAN'S lines.
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) (rapidly) And the General's bodyguards have shot the
man. He's down You can see him there on the pavement.
JACK: (softly) Oh, no.
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) He's not moving. The police are getting the crowd
away from the body. You can see that burning object a little way from
his body. At first it seemed to be a bomb, perhaps, but at this
distance, it just looks like…well… a clump of grass, perhaps, or
SFX: On TV: The WhOOSH of a sudden BURST OF FLAME. REPEATED SCREAMS OF
AGONY that peak and after a minute or two grow weaker; The HISS and
CRACKLE of a furious FIRE; more CRIES and CONFUSION from the crowd, all
of this under the NEWSWOMAN'S lines.
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) (She's taken by surprise. Her professional control
is shattered. She does little better than scream in panic) The
General! He's on fire! Oh, My God! Somebody do something!
MULLIGAN: Holy Jeez.
JACK: Good Lord
NEWSWOMAN: (on TV) (Still screaming) He's burning! He's burning! Oh my
God! Somebody do something, please! Watch out! Watch out, he's
burning! (Ad Lib like this until cross-fade.)
SFX: cross-fade with newswoman: AFRICAN DRUMS AS IN INTRO. THEY GET
LOUDER AND LOUDER, RISING TO A CRESCENDO, THEN ARE SUDDENLY CUT OFF,
LEAVING ONLY SILENCE.