A Pawn Piece (1978 play): Act II
(This time the curtain opens on a slightly different area of the forest. There’s a sign in the middle of the stage: it can be hanging on a tree, or just standing on a post. It says “Méfiez-vous des Pickpockets”. This will set the tone and locale. The lighting should be pale blue. A lone figure is on stage, SCOLDER, dressed in a blue jean outfit with a “Toronto Blue Jays” T-shirt underneath. As DEREK enters, SCOLDER hides behind a tree.)
DEREK: I wonder where I am. There’s a sign over there; maybe it will give me the answer. (Stands with hands in pockets) May-fee-aze-vooz-daze-pickpockets. What does it mean? It looks like French but the only word that’s clear is “pickpockets”. Maybe I’m in the pickpocket capital of the world.
SCOLDER (aside): Putain, il a toujours la main dans la poche.
DEREK: Pardon me?
SCOLDER: I forgot: this is a play “en anglais”. I will translate for you. “Damn him, he always has his hand in his pocket.”
DEREK: Who are you?
SCOLDER: My name is Jean Claude Scolder. What’s yours?
DEREK: My name is Derek. It’s nice to meet you.
SCOLDER: What are you doing here, English?
DEREK: I’m not English, I’m Canadian. Besides, where’s here?
SCOLDER: You are in the largest French city outside of France.
DEREK: New Orleans?!
SCOLDER: Sacré bleu! New Orleans is nothing compared to this place.
DEREK: Oh, I get it; this is a joke, right?
SCOLDER: Who’s laughing?
DEREK: Right, who’s laughing.
SCOLDER: Why are you standing with your hands in your pockets?
DEREK (taking them out): I don’t know, it’s just more comfortable to stand that way.
SCOLDER: How’s “un voleur” supposed to make a living? J’ai a faire.
DEREK: What exactly do you do at the fair?
SCOLDER: How did you know I did my best work there?
DEREK: You told me.
SCOLDER: Mais, non.
DEREK: Sure you did. You said you were in an aviary at the fair.
SCOLDER: An aviary?
DEREK: Yes, you called it a volery.
SCOLDER: Do you mean one of those huge bird cages that they have at the zoo?
SCOLDER: I’ve been caged before but never at the zoo, and I flew the coop for the fair job, years ago.
DEREK: Then, what were you referring to?
SCOLDER: “Un voleur”, a thief.
DEREK: Then, what’s all this about the fair?
SCOLDER: I said, “J’ai a faire,” I have work to do.
DEREK: Is that why you asked me about keeping my hands in my pockets?
SCOLDER: As you English would say: “My, my; isn’t he bright?”
DEREK: Why don’t you have a regular job?
SCOLDER: Maybe you’re not as bright as I thought. Don’t you realise that there’s not many around? Besides, I’d never make enough money at a regular job.
DEREK: Enough money for what?
SCOLDER: To support my dependence.
DEREK: You have dependents? (SCOLDER nods) A wife? (SCOLDER shakes head) Children?
SCOLDER: Yes, but I never see them.
DEREK: How much does it take for the support?
SCOLDER: More and more, all the time. It used to be cheap when I only had to buy airplane glue.
DEREK: Were your children model airplane builders?
DEREK: Then who was the airplane glue for?
DEREK: Then, you must be the model airplane builder.
SCOLDER: Of course, not.
DEREK: What’s the glue for, then?
SCOLDER: Sniffing. I used to get such beautifully cheap highs.
DEREK: I thought that glue sniffing causes brain damage.
SCOLDER: Do I look like I’ve got brain damage?
SCOLDER: Who cares?
DEREK: What kind of example are you showing your kids?
SCOLDER: Why worry about them? I never see them. I’m off that sticky kid’s stuff. I’ve moved onto a new high, “plus exotique”.
DEREK: You mean out of your range.
SCOLDER: Right! How do you say it? “Outta sight.”
DEREK: Out of sight, like you’re going to be, if a cop catches you.
SCOLDER: Don’t snitch on me, please. I’d hate to think you were a stool pigeon.
DEREK: Why should I shelter you, Scolder? You don’t serve any useful purpose for society.
SCOLDER: What are you: my judge and jury?
DEREK: Maybe; it doesn’t take an eagle eye to see something’s wrong with you.
SCOLDER: Hold your judgement until you’ve been bird-dogged; then you’ll know what I have to go through, with the police.
DEREK: I hope never to be in that predicament.
SCOLDER: Don’t be so cocky. The English cops in this city are suspicious of everyone, especially other English.
SCOLDER: They’re protective of their minority rights to the point of wiping out any element that’s subversive to their authority.
DEREK: Even English-speaking citizens?
SCOLDER: By a recent law change, French has become the only recognized language. The cops still speak English.
SCOLDER: You know, the cops break the law, if it suits them, but won’t allow others the same privilege.
DEREK: For example?
SCOLDER: The F.L.Q. crisis. (DEREK nods) Some crisis: a small bunch of radicals scaring the whole country. The police thought that they wouldn’t have enough power to prevent the terrorists from gaining control, so they called in the army and took away everyone’s legal rights.
DEREK: Can you name another way that they’ve broken the law?
SCOLDER: The Royal Commission Inquiry into organized crime.
DEREK: What’s wrong with that? It’s very successful.
SCOLDER: Sure it’s successful. Why shouldn’t it be? The police use illegal tactics to gather evidence.
DEREK: Like what, Scolder?
SCOLDER: Like Breaking and Entering ex-cons’ private homes to set up wiretaps, which are used to record personal telephone conversations, in order to blackmail them and extort confidential information from them.
DEREK: Maybe they believe that you have to fight fire with fire.
SCOLDER: That’s no excuse: two wongs don’t make a white.
DEREK: Can you back up those strong accusations with facts?
SCOLDER: Who needs facts? I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
DEREK: Have you any proof?
SCOLDER: The R.C.M.P.
DEREK: Our national police force has to fight very serious crimes: they need all the help that they can get.
SCOLDER: I can see that you sincerely believe in them, but committing a crime gets most citizens a fine or a jail sentence. The cops, it seems, as long as they keep it quiet, get paid to do the same thing. Now, is that fair?
DEREK: I’ll ask you one last time: can you prove it?
SCOLDER: No, unfortunately, I can’t.
DEREK: Then, you’d better use your birdbrain to keep your big beak shut, or the police may see fit to press charges.
SCOLDER: Promise me you won’t tell them on me…
DEREK: Like how? My going up to a cop, telling him what you told me, and when he asks me how I know so much, I’d say, “A little birdie told me so”? No way.
SCOLDER: That’s right: birds of the feather must always stick together.
DEREK: I don’t want to be connected to your glue, or whatever you do now.
SCOLDER: That’s too bad, we’re just starting to be such good friends.
DEREK: I don’t want to ruin the celebration, but I think you’d better leave, before a cop comes by.
SCOLER (glancing offstage): Parler du diable et il est sûr d’apparaître.
DEREK: What in the devil are you talking about?
SCOLDER (begins running): Roughly translated, it means, “Speak of the devil and he’s sure to appear.” Au revoir, mon ami. (Exits)
DEREK: Who in hell is he screaming about?
(WATSON enters. He is a heavy-set individual with bulldog features. He’s wearing a dark blue suit and hat,a plainclothes policeman. The stage lighting should now change to red.)
WATSON: Hey, you, kid: don’t move.
DEREK (freezing): Pardon me?
WATSON: I said, “Don’t move.”
DEREK: I’m not. What’s wrong?
WATSON: I saw you talking to that “Flying Frenchman”.
DEREK: Is that a crime?
WATSON: It could be: he’s an ex-jailbird; you could be part of his flock.
DEREK: Believe me, I’m not.
WATSON: How do I know?
DEREK: You have my word.
WATSON: Your word’s not worth a scent.
DEREK: What would persuade you?
WATSON: Are you trying to bribe me?
DEREK: No! I’m sorry if you got the wrong idea.
WATSON: Damn! I thought I smelt money. What’s your name, kid?
WATSON: Have you ever been in this neck of the woods before?
DEREK: No, I’m lost.
WATSON: That’s true. The only thing you have is yourself and you had to lose it. You’re a loser, kid.
DEREK: Who are you, sir?
WATSON: Sgt. W.W. Watson. I’m the local Police officer in charge of this neighbourhood.
DEREK: You’re not going to charge me for anything, are you?
WATSON: I haven’t decided yet. Maybe I’ll just grin and bare my teeth. Makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t it?
DEREK: Sgt. Watson, sir: I’d prefer to leave, if you don’t mind.
WATSON: I do mind. Don’t move a muscle or I’ll make mincemeat out of you.
DEREK (aside): I feel like I’m between the devil and the deep blue sea.
WATSON: Not quite: the sea is a few miles from here.
DEREK: It’s just a figure of speech, sir.
WATSON: If there’s any figuring to be done, I’ll do it.
DEREK: I don’t think I’m getting off on the right foot with you.
WATSON: You’d better not try to get off on the left foot, either, or you won’t live to regret it.
DEREK: Do you have the right to detain me?
WATSON: If I consider you to be part of the criminal element, otherwise known as trash, I have a job to do. I can keep you here, lock you up, or run you out of town.
DEREK: But you can’t, you’re only a cop, er, policeman, not a judge.
WATSON: Why can’t I? I enforce the law.
DEREK: But why enforce on me?
WATSON: Now you’re beginning to sound like one of those bleeding hearts.
DEREK: In what way?
WATSON: Let’s say I catch someone in the act of trespassing, as I did you just a minute ago, the first thing that person does is cry, “Police brutality” if I try to get any information from him.
DEREK: Trespassing?! Who’s trespassing?
WATSON: You. You don’t live here, you weren’t invited, but you’re here; so you must be trespassing.
DEREK: What’s the use? You act as if this place is yours.
WATSON: I’ve been employed by the people of this area to guard their property and possessions from strangers. I’m to ensure that no one gets what they don’t deserve.
DEREK: Then why aren’t you ensuring that I don’t get harassed? I don’t deserve it.
WATSON: What are you, a wise guy? I take my job of preventing people like you from enjoying what isn’t theirs, seriously.
DEREK: How do you benefit from this?
WATSON: I get paid to work out my frustrations. I growl about inequity and I bark out orders to my subordinates. I get great satisfaction in doing a good job. The way I look at it, if I can’t make use of a situation, no one else can either. I’ll make sure of that.
DEREK: I have a sneaky suspicion that your bark is worse than your bite.
WATSON (lightly): Really? Oh, I thought I sounded extremely fierce.
DEREK: No, you don’t. In fact, I’d be willing to bet hat you’d let me leave, if I asked you.
WATSON: Ask me, then.
DEREK (formally): Sgt. Watson, may your captive audience leave?
WATSON (still lightly): The audience has to stay, but you can go; as long as you promise not to loiter around here again… (gruffly) or else I’ll charge you with Vagrancy.
(DEREK and WATSON laugh together.)
DEREK: I promise.
WATSON: Now that you’ve been run out of town by me, where will you be heading?
DEREK: If I expect to find a friend to play with, I’d better try that way (indicating Stage Left).
WAT,SON (gruffly): Well, get going or it’ll be curtains for you, for sure.
DEREK: Thank you for your assistance: I had a good time.
(As DEREK walks towards SL, the curtain comes down for a brief intermission.)