SETTING: a low-maintenance sound studio. A table, a chair, an overhead mic .
TIME: the present, daytime
CHARACTER: TAMMY is the college-educated mother of a 12-year-old. She’s in her mid-30s and wears military gear.
Tammy is an Iraq War vet recently discharged and under treatment for PTSD. Her condition has led to a broken marriage and limited visitation with her child. She has consented to be interviewed by her documentary filmmaker-friend, Giselle who is shooting a film about returning vets.
I don’t react well to crowds. So I don’t know how effective I’d be at your fundraiser. I mean, let’s get serious, here. These are the ones that sent me over there. The corporate biggies. All I’d need is for one of them to ask how things are going over in Iraq. I’d tell ’em to enlist their kids… their grandkids. Let ’em find out first-hand. So, c’mon, let’s get some grub. Your dime. But it can’t be Clancy’s. I just got kicked outta there. All those years when we were teen-agers and the cheap bastard never bothered to flag any of us. I went in there with friends last week. Bad idea. But hell, you gotta get out sometimes. The night started out fine. We played darts.
Some kid made a move on me. It was nice. It felt good. There’s still life in us old babes. Maybe if I had taken him up on it…
Then these friends… they wanted me to open up. About the war. Like with my relatives. They don’t really care about my feelings. They care about their curiosity… satisfaction. It’s like… they’re stupid.
Anyway, I was reluctant to talk. But these…
(She gestures quotation marks. As she continues, she’ll come close to losing control.)
…”friends” were only buddies because I’d seen combat. Trouble is, I just can’t converse. I gush… I spew. I implode. I started out telling war stories… but… with no real embellishment. Just the fact of… soldiers with m-m-missing limbs. Or a guy from Se-Se-Seattle with a missing head. Dead… dead… dead children… Bl-bl-bl-inded kids. Roasted babies. Cluster bombings. Death b-b-by torture. Land mines. White phosperous on civilian p-p-populations. I was in Fal… Fal… Falujah. Courtesy of us. U.S. Our doing. Our undoing.
(Unhinged now) I shot a guy…d-d-dead cause he was running at us and screaming… and he had a bulge b-b-beneath his shirt. But it wasn’t a guy…and it wasn’t a b-b-bomb. IT WAS A WOMAN… PREGNANT! I MEAN WOMEN AREN’T SUPPOSED TO WEAR PANTS OVER THERE! SO HOW WAS I TO … SHE WAS DRESSED IN PANTS! IT WAS… INSTINCT… IT WAS INSTANT… KILL OR BE KILLED.
(Pause as she tries to recompose)
Still, a woman with a child. Dead. How do I atone for that?
“Freedom on the march.”
I just babbled on until I lost it. I threw a glass. Then a pitcher of beer. At no one in particular… at everyone in general. I kicked and punched and screamed. Just as I’d been trained. Until I was overpowered and rushed out the door. Clancy called the cops, the mother fucker. He wanted me to pay damages. Right there. Right there on the spot. Like there had never been beer on his floor. Or broken glass. No one was paying for my damages! But I caught a break. Finally. One of the cops had been in Iraq. He told Casey that arresting a combat vet would not be good for business. Duh! Then this big macho lug of a cop held me in his arms and I just broke down and cried… and cried.
So, I dunno how effective I’d be at a fundraiser. If the claustrophobia kicks in, batten down the dishware. I wouldn’t fund a film about a wacko like me. If I weren’t cracked, would I be doing this interview gratis? I mean who’s ever gonna see this asswipe film? You and your friends?
So, Clancy’s is out. But we can go elsewhere less crowded. I could control myself… I think. People tell me that I should get out more. But they’ve never been out with me.
copyright © 2008 Jack Gilhooley. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Jack Gilhooley has received NEA Individual Artist and International grants, four Florida State Fellowships; New York Foundation for the Arts, Puffin Foundation, Shubert, PEN, Pilgrim Project grants, the first John Ringling Award Fellowship. New Dramatist alum, Asolo, Mark Taper Forum, Long Wharf, Culture Project, NY Shakespeare Festival development and/or productions.