Saturday, January 13, 2007

NPSD 151

NPSD 151 is a work in progress. So far, we have two little scenes. Still, anyone is welcome to incorporate one or both of these scenes into a stage compilation. Fees will be kept low.
Email Paul Conant at

NPSD 151
Copyright 2007
By Paul and Christopher Conant

Characters (so far):

Blue, an artist picked up on suspicion.

"321," a cell mate

Sue, Blue's wife

Scene A

Two men in a two-bunk cell. The actors are encouraged to move, pace and use hand motions while talking.

321: You must have arrived while I was sleeping. What's your name?

B: Blue. What's yours.

321: Three-two-one.

B: Three-two-one?

321: That's all I can give you. My inmate identification number. Three-two-one -- the last three of my inmate ID number.

B: Huh? How's that?

321: My name is subject to NPSD classification authority.

B: Boy, is this crazy. Why don't you just go by a nickname?

321: Oh yeah, and have all kinds of new questions about that.

B: They'd do that?

321: Hey, do you know where you are, buddy?

B: Actually, not really ... So why didn't anybody tell me my name is secret?

321: It depends what category of inmate you are. Do you know what detention authority code they used on you?

B: I don't even know what NPSD means.

321: Who does? A lot of us have guessed. But the initials is all they give. Guess that's hush-hush, too. What did you get picked up on? Loitering in the vicinity of a covert op? We have a lot of those guys here. Most of them were in the wrong bar at the wrong time.

B: This is ludicrous. I never heard of such laws.

321: All NPSD authorizations are top secret. We had a lawmaker come through here just last week for trying to find out what law he had authorized on behalf of the Executive. He was charged under NPSD authority for violation of national security. They didn't waste any time with him. Probably in the gulag right now.

B: Gulag? This isn't Soviet Russia under Stalin.

321: (Laughs.) Well, all I know is that they have top-secret security camps all around the world. We just call it the gulag, informally.

B: How do you know all this, if everything's super-secret.

321: (Pause.) The grapevine. Plus, sometimes Dr. X lets things slip kind of accidentally on purpose, I think.

B: Dr. X?

321: You'll meet him. And his alter-ego, The Queen.

B: Why do you call him Dr. X?

321: You know, he's some kind of psy-ops guy. And he's got some weird machines.

B: You mean like electric shock.

321: Like worse. Mind-bending stuff. They want to get everything out of you. But, personally, I think the doc has his own personal research program going, on the side.

B: And what about this Queen?

321: She's one of the guards.

B: Christ I...

321: So what'd they get you on? What did you actually do to get their attention?

B: I don't know. As I told the -- the -- police? -- I'm not political at all. I don't know anything about national security type things. I'm a painter.

321: Indoor or outdoor? If you're up on the side of a house, they mighta thought you were a spy. They got safe houses all over.

B: Bizarre. But I'm not that sort of painter. I'm an artist.

321: An artist? That IS pretty weird that they'd be interested in you. Do you get calls from outside the country?

B: Well, no. Though I see what you're getting at... oh wait... I did receive one or two email inquiries from a London art dealer. One of my pictures was sold by my gallery to a British businesswoman. Routine business... runs a string of boutiques.

321: Aha, so there you go!

B: What are you saying?

321: Maybe she's got ties to an international conspiracy. Maybe she's a money launderer for a banned group.

B: Ties? What do you mean "ties"?

321: You know: TIES! Just TIES, that's all.

B: Oh well, this is absurd. I paint pictures. That's all I do. Not only that, I'm very retro. Not avante garde at all. All I do is abstract stuff. Modern. No post modern. No post post modern. Do you suppose the NPSD doesn't like retro?

321: There is no NPSD, per se.

B: (Pause.) Well, I can't help but wonder whether I painted something wrong. Though I don't see how that can be -- since everything is non-representational. Maybe one of my wife's poems?

321: I don't know much about art, but I know what I like.

B: I'm sure.

321: I like scenes. You know, mountains and sunsets. Boats, too. They're nice.

B: (Quiet for a bit, thinking.) The crazy thing is, one of the officers read me something from a card, but it was all national security gibberish. They said I have rights, but under national security my rights would be reviewed from time to time by a duly constituted authority, whatever that means. Made no sense. No charges. And it was an outrage. These people kicked in my flat door at midnight or something. Scared the daylights out of my wife.

321: Is she OK?

B: Yes, as far as I know. They just took me. They read her a card telling her that it was unlawful to disclose that I had been arrested. If asked, she was to say that I was away on a trip. I couldn't believe it... So what did you say your offense was?

321: I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you. (Pause.) I got busted for trafficking in prostitution.

B: What? That's got nothing to do with national security. That's a routine police matter.

321: No when a senior government official contracts a nasty case of herpes.


Scene B

On some broodingly painted set, Sue hurries onstage and embraces her husband Blue.

B: Sue? Sue!!

S: My God! Are you OK? Are you?

B: I missed you so much.

S: I can't wait till you're home.

B: I don't know when I'm going to be home. I could be here for a long time.

S: No!

B: I didn't think they were ever going to let me see you again.

S: They had to.

B: I don't think they did.

S: No matter what, they have to let a wife see her husband.

B: I guess so.

S: Even if he did do a thing or two behind her back (looks around nervously, wildly).

B: What?!

S: I'm sorry. We'll talk about it when you get home.

B: Why do you think they're letting me go?

S: They must have told you.

B: What?

S: That they're going to let you go.

B: What!?

S: They're going to let you go.

B: I thought that's what you said.

S: I miss you.

B: I miss you too, Sweetheart. What do you mean they're letting me go?

S: They said you haven't really done anything wrong. Nothing a hundred other people don't do. That it's more about the people around you.

B: I didn't do anything.

S: That's what I said.

B: I don't even know what I'm charged with.

S: Well, that's what they said.

B: What?

S: That you're not charged with anything. That's why they're letting you go.

B: So why am I still here?

S: I guess some paperwork or something.

B: That's it?

S: And you just have to tell them what you've been doing.

B: Sue, I've already told them everything I've been doing. I haven't been doing anything. Sue, you know me. I'm not a terrorist. I'm not even political.

S: I know you're not. Everybody knows you're not.

B: Then what am I doing here?

S: All you have to do is sign some paper, and they're going to let you go.

B: What paper?

S: I don't know. Some paper that says that your friend Elvis tried to get you to commit...

B: Elwyn?

S: Yeah, Elwyn, whatever...

B: Commit what?

S: I don't know.

B: I barely know Elwyn.

S: (Sharply and suspiciously.) You just corrected me when I said Elvis.

B: Well, I do know his name. It doesn't mean we're co-conspirators. It just means I know him.

S: I've seen the pictures.

B: What pictures?

S: Are you going to sign the paper?!

B: I haven't seen it. But if I'm supposed to say I did something I didn't, I'm not going to do that.

S: You don't have to say it was you. Say it was Elvis.

B: Why do you keep saying Elvis? It's Elwyn!

S: Why are you shouting at me! I'm trying to help you get out of here.

B: I know...

She cries.

S: I just want you to come home. I don't want you to be here anymore.

B: Me neither.

S: They come to the house every day. (He holds her.) I wish this wasn't happening.

B: Me too.

S: Please come home. (Pause.) You're not going to sign it, are you?!


S: I thought you loved me.

B: You know I love you.

S: I have to go.

B: Goodbye.

She leaves.