Mr. Shankly (Revised)

Fame, fame, fatal fame
It can play hideous tricks on the brain
But still I’d rather be famous
Than righteous or holy, any day, any day, any day

Frankly, Mr. Shankly
The Smiths

Scene: A hotel suite with busy men in suits on their phones with televisions on in each room. There’s a man sitting in a chair looking out the window with a notepad and a mechanical pencil.

Young man: Congressman, sir, we think you ought to see this.

Congressman: What? What is it?

Young man: She’s on. I mean, she’s on TV. They say she’s going to talk about . . .

Congressman: Yes? Spit it out.

Young man: You.

Congressman: Fuck. Well, where. Turn it on.

The television announcer is saying, “and now taking the stage is noted activist, socialist, and former wife of ….”

Congressman: For Christ’s sake. Jesus. God. Ok. Fuck, well, turn it up. Why do they play this crap?

On the television a woman takes a podium. She’s greeted with cheers. She pulls the microphone closer to her. She starts to speak.

Woman: Some people say a market will save us. Some people say that markets will set us free. Some people say even more than that. They say, some people, that being free is a market; they are the same, markets and freedom.

The crowd gets loud, cheering and booing.

Congressman: Fuck. Ok. Is someone recording this bullshit?

Young man: Of course, we’ve got it.

Woman: Do you feel free shopping for clothes? Do you feel free shopping for shoes? Do you feel free in a mall? Is that when you feel free? Tell me, do you feel free when you pay rent, when you pay your medical bills?

Crowd says, “No!”

Woman: Do you feel free when you get paid minimum wage for cleaning up after people? Do you feel free when you take three buses to work at your second job so you can feed your family? Do you feel free when they tell you will have to close tonight and open tomorrow?

Crowd says, “No!”

Woman: Is that what sets us free?

Crowd says, “No!”

Woman: Buying and selling is not freedom. The exchange of our dignity for survival is not freedom. This is a doctrine that is corrupt; it is a rhetoric that sustains a system that keeps you crushed under a weight of bills, and bullshit. Everyday!

The crowd cheers.

Older man: Fuck dude, they’re giving her free airtime.

Congressman: Would you just shut the fuck up and listen. Fuck!

Men in suits are now clustered around watching the television.

Woman: Some people say this is what sets us free. But what really sets us free is connection. What sets us free is community. What sets us free is when we know we can count on each other because we are human, because we are people, not because someone has something to sell us.

Someone in the room makes a farting noise.

Congressman: I’ll kill you motherfucker! Stop that!

He throws his pen at the offender.

Older man: Sorry, sorry! Jesus.

Woman: More important, and I want you all to understand this: your labor, your sweat, your work, your blood, your tears, and your heart should not be the price of your survival.

The crowd gets quiet.

Older man: Are we really just watching this right now?

Congressman: Shut up!

Woman: We are free because of what we can give, and we should only take as much as we can give. We know that what we want is that those that have a lot in our society should not have too much, and those that have a little, shouldn’t have too little.

Everyone in the room is looking at the television and then at the congressman, who is still holding on to the notepad.

Woman: You are stronger than some people, than those people.

Older man:(Quietly, under his breath) We are those people. We are those people.

Woman: You are stronger than their power. You are stronger than their status. You, here today, have given of yourselves. And that makes a difference. We will win. We will win. We will win.

There is cheering.

Congressman: Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Turn it off.

Young man: We have it all down. We’re working on a statement. We have lots of calls asking for comment already.

The congressman looks out the window. The television voice is talking about his relationship with the woman, about their daughter, about his campaign.

Man: I said turn it off.

Older man: Hey, listen here’s what we’ve got worked up to respond. We’ve gotta go quick on this.

Congressman: Yeah, what? I hope you can set it to music.

Older man: “This rant doesn’t reflect the views of people that I represent who work hard everyday for their paychecks, save, and strive to get ahead. Nothing is free and hardworking people know that. The Congressman has worked hard to create policies that help working people get more value for their hard earned dollars…

Congressman: Stop.

He’s standing now, looking out the window.

Older man: What? What do you want?

Congressman: Don’t issue anything. Don’t fucking issue anything. Carry on. Do your jobs. I’m going downstairs for a drink.

Older man: You can’t let this go…

Congressman: I can do whatever I want. Just do what we were doing. Ignore this shit. Ignore it.

He puts his hands on the older man’s shoulders and looks him in his eyes.

Congressman: You know, before all this, I was going to be a professor. Yeah. Tweed jacket with patches on the elbow. Students would look up to me and say, “Thank you Professor!” and “Will the Four Noble Truths and the Five Skandhas be on test next week, Professor?” Yep. That was going to be my life.

Then he puts on his coat and walks out.

Go to At Last!