by Michael Doliner
A Short Play
(Swans - October 9, 2006) George and Dick each in his own armchair. Dick has a large pad used to hide his face. Table between them has a phone on it. Phone rings. George answers.
George: Put him on. It's Ehud. Ehud baby. How's it hanging? What's new with the family? You're kidding! Don't they know you're Jewish?
Dick (still covering his face): What is it George?
George: His wife called him a fascist. You know what, Ehud. Buy her some flowers. Women always love that. She'll forget all about the war. What? His whole family thinks he's a mass murderer. Ehud. Don't take it personally. Stay the course baby, stay the course.
Dick (leaning towards phone, still covering face): Hello Ehud. Did your daughter talk on TV?
George: I was going to ask him, Dick! Stay out of it. Did any of your family speak to the media? No? Oh, good. Then there's no problem. Try to turn it into a joke. Dress up like Barney, you know, the purple dinosaur, and jump out at them. If you can get them to laugh, Ehud, they'll forget all about it. Trust me on this.
Dick (still covering his face): Maybe I better talk to him.
George: I can handle it. So Ehud, how are things going. Yes. Yes. No. They're blowing up his tanks. The damn terrorists. You know what, Ehud. I know just how you feel. I'm having the same trouble over in Iraq. They're blowing up my tanks. I feel your pain, Moishe. They don't want freedom. Say, we have to have you over for a barbecue. Get you out on the ranch, shoot a few quails. Don't worry, I don't let Dick come since he shot what's-his-face. Get it, Ehud, what's-his-face. Just kidding, just kidding. But seriously, a couple of days on the ranch and the whole war thing will look different. Perk you right up. Out on the range little problems just melt away. You can bring the little woman.
Dick (still covering his face): Ask him how we can help.
George: I know what to do, Dick. I'm getting to it. So Ehud, what's on your mind? Some more bombs! What did you do with the last batch? Did you loose them? Just kidding, Ehud. Look, Ehud, I'm a bit of a joker. You've got to accept that if we're going to work together. I know you're fighting a war. Hey look. You're fighting a war, I'm fighting a war, we're all fighting a war. So what else is new. Hey, how did you like that? Was that a good New York Jewish accent or what? Bombs. Yes, bombs. You need some. Hold on a minute. What is a cluster bomb, Dick?
Dick (still covering his face): They're the kind that release thousands of little bomblets that explode into razor sharp fragments that slice anyone in the vicinity to bloody pulp. Good for children.
George: Oh. How interesting. What will they think of next? How many do you need? Thousands! Damn those terrorists. Look, Ehud, we've got a couple of wars to fight too. It's not all peaches and cream over here either. Hey, my heart goes out to all the families of those fine young men who had the courage to stand up when ... Hold on. He wants three thousand. Do we have enough?
Dick (still covering his face): Tell him we'll give him whatever he needs.
George: Don't worry Ehud. We'll send 'em out on the next plane. Now don't drop them all in the same place. Just kidding. You want to do what? No. No! Why do you want to do that? Listen, Ehud, anything you've got to say you can say to me. No, I'm not going to.
(hangs up the phone)
I'm sick of this, sick of it. He wanted to talk to you!
Dick: What about?
George: He wouldn't tell me. That totally pisses me off.
Dick: Now, now. He knows I'm the detail guy.
George: I'm the President, Dick. I'm in charge.
Dick: Of course you are. Of course.
George: I'm not kidding about this Dick. I am in charge. I'm the boss.
Dick: You're the boss. He just didn't want to bother you with some minor details, that's all.
George: This kind of thing has happened before, Dick. I'm sick of it. I'm putting my foot down.
Dick: George. You're a natural leader. Everybody knows that. With all the important things weighing on your mind you have to leave the details to others just like Ronny did.
George: Ronny was great. A great, great leader.
Dick: You're a lot like him, you know. A natural charismatic guy. Just like him. You don't think Ronny took care of every detail with that Contra thing do you?
George: I guess not.
Dick: When the contras did those things to the nuns, do you think Ronny wanted to know about it?
George: I know, Dick. But I'm in charge. I want that clear. I'm in charge.
Dick: No, Ronny did not want to know. He needed to not know. In those days we were on a need-to-not-know basis. Everybody needed to not know everything. Total, total ignorance was the watchword. And we still had to run things. Do you have any idea what that was like? We couldn't know anything just in case, in case... You know what we had to contend with? Congress!
George: Come on.
Dick: I'm not joking. Congress was out there, doing stuff.
George: Don't kid a kidder, Dick.
Dick: Look, George. It's ancient history. No need to go into it, but it was hell kid, hell. It was war, real war. Us over here and Congress, I kid you not, over there. It was bloody, bloody. People lost jobs, people like us, people you know. In fact they're all part of our administration.
George: Whatever, Dick. We don't have to worry about Congress now, do we?
Dick: Now? Of course not. Now we're on a who-gives-a-fuck basis, but then we had to limp along on a need-to-not-know basis. I just wanted to give you an idea of what hard work it was to get us where we are now. We worked our fingers to the bone.
George: Look, Dick, I'm sure things were rough back in the day, but I am the president and I am in charge. Is that clear?
Dick: All right, George. Answer me this. What is a bunker buster?
George: A bunker buster? You think I don't know what a bunker buster is?
Dick: Well, what is it?
George: You can't be serious. You think I don't know what a bunker buster is?
George: Why are you asking me this now?
Dick: It could be important.
George: Why? I thought we finished with that question-and-answer shtick in the last election.
Dick: No, George. We've got to make the world safe for Jeb.
George: I just don't think I should be talking about bunker busters.
Dick: Why not? Bunker busters are good. Bunker busters are important. Bunker busters are what it's all about!
George: Damn right, Dick. But, you know, I'm born again.
Dick: Who isn't? Look, George, do you know what a bunker buster is or not?
George: Hell yeah. A bunker buster is a drink made from the dregs in all the glasses and cups and bottles left over at the end of the party. A bunker buster is fer shizzle, my man. Ken and I used to drink those things like water. We'd drink and drink some more until it was all gone. We were wasted for weeks, dude. We busted every fucking bunker in New Haven if you know what I mean. Heh, heh, heh. But that was then. Now I'm born again. Hallelujah.
Dick: Hallelujah, brother. But that's not what I was talking about.
George: Well, das wat I'm talkin bout and I'm the Pres-o-dent!
Dick: You are the President. Nobody's questioning that. But I'm just trying to show you that...
George: Oops, it's tee time. Let's wrap this up.
Dick: That's what I've been trying to tell you. You're a big picture guy. You're the big picture guy, just like Ronny.
George: Well, I don't know about that.
Dick: Just like Ronny. Believe me. Just like Ronny. Suppose I told you bunker busters were bombs. Big fucking bombs. Do you care?
George: Not really.
Dick: I mean big fucking bombs. BFB's in military parlance. These mothers can waste whole towns and they can burrow down to bust up... guess what.
George: I don't do guessing games, Dick.
Dick: Exactly. Why tax your brain. Who gives a fuck, right. It's not important.
George: The president simply cannot be bothered with such insignificant details.
Dick: My point exactly. You've got more important things to think about, right? You don't need to worry yourself about this. You're Ronny II, that's what you are. On a need-to-not-know basis. No! On a who-gives-a-fuck basis. You're better than Ronny. That's why Ehud wanted to talk to me. He knew this was just not high enough on the priority list to be on your level.
George: All right. Just as long as you remember that I'm the boss.
Dick (picks up the phone. Hides his face): Get Ehud. That you, Ehud? Speak to me. So. So. So what? You know what you have to do. I don't care what they are doing. You've got to neutralize them or they'll be right up our petootie.
George: What's going on Dick?
Dick: What? no. I'm not against it in principle, you know I'm not against it. It just, well, has to be done right. Why? Because it does, that's why.
George: What's going on, Dick?
Dick: What? Ehud. You think I am backing down? Me? Soft? Kiss my tuchas, Ehud.
George (grabbing the phone): What the hell is happening, Dick!
Dick: Just give me the phone, George.
George: No. I'm the president and I want to know what's going on.
Dick: Look, you're on a need-to-not-know basis. Now give me the phone.
George: I thought we were on a who-gives-a-fuck basis.
Dick: I am, but you're not.
George: What do you mean you are but I'm not? I'm the President.
Dick: Exactly. You know Ehud can hear everything we're saying.
George: Who gives a fuck!
Dick: All right, all right. Hang up and we'll talk.
George: Hold on. What, Ehud? The speaker phone? No, I don't think so. Do we have any secrets from Ehud?
Dick: No, of course not.
George: He wants to listen in on the speaker phone.
Dick: Oh, all right. If you don't mind. I have no secrets from Ehud.
George: But how would that look?
George and Dick (in unison): Who gives a fuck?
(George hands the phone to Dick who puts it in its cradle and flips a switch.)
Dick (hides his face): Can you hear us, Ehud?
Ehud: You're coming through loud and clear.
George: So, go ahead, carry on.
Dick (continues to hide his face): All right. Are you ready? Ehud is thinking of dropping the big one. The nuclear bomb.
George: Oh, ho. Ehud baby. You sly dog. The new clear bomb. New clear. Isn't that a Christian thing?
Dick: Israel has them too. But I thought we should do it.
George: Yeah. Yeah. If anyone does it we're going to do it. I'm going to do it.
Dick: Be serious, George. We're talking about nuclear weapons here.
George (with mock hang-dog expression): I'm sorry, Dick. I won't kid around any more.
Dick: Ehud. We want to be the ones to do it. Think of how it will play in the media.
George: Yeah Ehud. We're doing it first. We are numero uno.
Ehud: Why not do it together?
George: You know what I say to that?
All: Who gives a fuck!
If you find our work valuable, please considerfinancially.