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ACT TWO

Scene One



 
 
 
 
 

A couple of minutes later. KEVIN is in the bathroom straightening his clothes. INEZ has just entered the bedroom and is heading for the mirror above the dresser.
KEVIN
Well, that wasnít much.
  (From the left of the corridor HOUSEBOY enters leading ADELE, MILLIE, LES and ARCHIE, all attired in evening clothes and all eager and excited. HOUSEBOY nods toward Kevinís room, then receives a huge tip from LES. HE bows in gratitude as he exits.)
KEVIN
Just my luck to waste it on the ugliest woman in all five hundred acres. When I think of Miss Tall Sultry Crimson-Headband---or even Lena Martina--- Why the fuck canít I say no?
  (MILLIE taps on Kevinís door. INEZ opens it.)


MILLIE

I might have known.

INEZ

(parodying social grace) Do come in, wonít you? Mr. Koshkarian will be with you in a moment. (tiptoeing to the bathroom door) Kevin, dear. You have guests. (In the bathroom, KEVIN winces.)


ADELE

(to Millie) Isnít that revolting!

INEZ

Can I help it, my dear, if Mr. Koshkarian prefers whatís in a womanís soul?

MILLIE

Since when is that part of the anatomy called soul?
  (KEVIN emerges from the bathroom. ADELE moves forward, hand extended.)
 
ADELE
Oh, Mr. Koshkarian, I do hope youíll forgive our barging in this way.
  (KEVIN inadvertently yawns.)


KEVIN

Oh, Iím sorry. (glancing toward Inez) It has nothing to do with you. Believe me.

ADELE

Iím Adele Allen. We met at dinner. And this is Millicent Carstairs, Les Farnsworth and Archie Weatherby.
  (KEVIN nods at all of them, suppressing another yawn.)


ARCHIE

I say, old chap, youíve been the smash of the evening. Weíve done nothing but talk about you since you left the dinner table.

MILLIE

Weíre thoroughly captivated. Youíve thought of the most delightfully original approach weíve heard in years.

LES

I think this calls for a little celebration.
  (HE opens his coat and strapped inside we see bottles of champagne. From his pockets, he pulls out glasses.)
 
MILLIE
Les, darling, I knew I could count on you!

ADELE

Now Mr. Koshkarian, you must tell us all about your era.

INEZ

Go ahead. Tell them.

KEVIN

What?

INEZ

About the new world, the communal world---

MILLIE

Now, now, dear, no tipping the scales, please. Mr. Koshkarian has already proven he has his own imagination.

KEVIN

So you still think itís some kind of joke?

LES

Oh, itís not just some kind of joke. Itís quite the best we ever heard.

ADELE

Heís really quite brilliant, you know. Heís pretending weíve hurt his feelings. Really, Mr. Koshkarian, we believe you. Donít we, everybody?

LES, MILLIE & ARCHIE

We believe you!

ARCHIE

All those who want Tinker Bell to live, applaud!
  (Laughter and applause.)


ADELE

Now do tell us about your world of the future.

INEZ

Go on. Tell them.

ADELE

All right then. If you wonít tell us about your world of the future, you can at least correct us.

KEVIN

Correct you?

MILLIE

Yes, we thought up the most scrumdiddliumptious game! All based on your dinner conversation.

LES

Itís like "Going to Jerusalem", only we call it "Stepping Out of the Future".

ARCHIE

Here, old man. I go first. Iím stepping out of the future with a---a golden wireless.

ADELE

Archie, really! Anyone can have a golden wireless now. In the future the wireless has to do something it doesnít do now---like smell.

ARCHIE

I got it! Iím stepping out of the future with a smelly golden wireless.

ADELE

He means a golden wireless that emits odors as well as voices.

LES

(to Kevin) You see, then, how the game is played.

ADELE

And all you have to do is correct us.

INEZ

What did I warn you about them? Superficial is as superficial does. And all based on myths and lies and ill-gotten lucre.

MILLIE

Inez, do be quiet. Weíre playing a game.

INEZ

Fools, youíre all dancing to your destruction!

ARCHIE

For a Bolshevik, dear heart, you do have an extraordinary gift for popular song phrases.

ADELE

Please, all of you. We must play the game. Archie went first, and you, Mr. Koshkarian, must correct us---if necessary.

INEZ

(to Kevin) Correct them. Correct everything.

KEVIN

Thereís no such thing as a smelly wireless---unless you mean a radio with a piece of Limburger on it.

ARCHIE

Oh, I say! Thatís capital!

ADELE

Really, Mr. Koshkarian, your imagination does appear more limited than we had suspected. If itís the world of the future, why canít there be a wireless that emits odors as well as sounds?

KEVIN

I donít know why there canít be. I just know there isnít.

ADELE

For the sake of the game---

MILLIE

Mr. Koshkarian is absolutely right---even for the sake of the game.

KEVIN

How on earth do you know?

MILLIE

All I know is what I personally would want. And I certainly wouldnít want a wireless that emits odors. Think of how unbearable it would be if a politician was making a speech and started sweating.

LES

Or if heíd just eaten a very large plate of baked beans.

MILLIE

Les, really!

ADELE

Start again, Archie.

ARCHIE

Personally I like a smelly golden wireless.

LES

Sorry, old man. This is a democracy, and youíve been overruled.

ADELE

Well?

ARCHIE

Quiet. Iím thinking. The trouble with the democratic system is it does have the most execrable way of freezing oneís creative juices.

MILLIE

So does a whole quart of scotch before dinner.

ARCHIE

All right. Iím stepping out of the future with---

ADELE

And taking---

ARCHIE

And taking---

ADELE

With me---

ARCHIE

I say, Adele, do button your lip. Iím stepping out of the future and taking with me---a little black box with a strange device which will bring me back to the future with Mr. Koshkarian.

ADELE

Thatís not fair!

ARCHIE

And why not? Really, Mr. Koshkarian, I do loathe this era. So vulgar, so lacking in human dignity. What Iíd like---

ADELE

What heíd like would be a medieval castle and a crown.

ARCHIE

Do tell us, Mr. Koshkarian, that your world of the future has some beauty in it.

ADELE

Go on with the game!

ARCHIE

Tell me itís more like the past. Tell me it has the Elizabethan imagination, the Renaissance excitement, the Grecian intellect---tell me---

KEVIN

You really want to see the future? (HE goes to his laptop and brings it to them.)


LES

Looks like a small movie screen. What does it do?

KEVIN

Just about anything you can think of. (HE switches it on, but nothing happens. HE jiggles it, shakes it, still nothing.) Shit! I was using it just before. You can ask Lena. She saw me using it.

ADELE

I want to play the game!

ARCHIE

You see, my dear fellow, what the noble submissive American woman has become.

KEVIN

If you think thatís bad, you should meet my wife! Wait! I do have something from the future.
  (HE hurries to his briefcase and pulls out a folder, hands it to Archie and Millie and Adele while LES refills the champagne glasses.)
 
MILLIE
(reading) "Versailles Village---for robust, active Senior Citizens".

ADELE

What on earth is a "robust, active senior citizen"?

KEVIN

Those are people over sixty-five.

LES

Oh, old people.

KEVIN

We donít use that phrase.
  (INEZ has been rummaging through the briefcase. SHE pulls out a paperback and her eyes widen with delight.)
 
INEZ
The Huomo Myth: A Portrait in Mass Ingenuousness.
  (KEVINís back arches in fear. HE pounces on her and wrests the book from her hands.)
INEZ
You didnít tell me you had it on you!

KEVIN

I forgot.

INEZ

Give it to me!

KEVIN

I was going to use it to check some of the interior photographs.

INEZ

I must see that book!

MILLIE

Inez, what on earth are you doing to Mr. Koshkarian?
  (LES, ARCHIE and ADELE are too absorbed in the brochure.)


INEZ

Give it to me! (KEVIN makes a fist as if to sock her and SHE retreats. HE slips the book into his jacket pocket.)
 
ARCHIE
I say, this is something, isnít it!

LES

Very interesting lithography. The color reproductions!

KEVIN

You see how one simple thing like the printing process has advanced in seventy years.

LES

Do come off the future thing, Koshkarian, and tell us how this was done up.

ADELE

It isnít the printing, Les. Itís the photographs of the houses and the interiors and the text. You must read this.

MILLIE

But who can afford to live this way except the very wealthy?

KEVIN

Thatís the point. Itís not for the very wealthy. Itís for middle-income senior citizens.

INEZ

Itís for a time when there will be no very wealthy.

MILLIE

Is this a kitchen?

KEVIN

Thatís the kitchen in Model B---Hadrianís Villa.

ADELE

Goodness gracious, what are all these things?

KEVIN

Thatís an oven over there.

ADELE

An oven? So high?

KEVIN

And hereís the rest of the oven over here.

ADELE

Come on now!

MILLIE

How can you have one part over here and another part over there?

ARCHIE

Think of what hell it would be on the witch in Hansel and Gretel! I doubt whether sheíd be able to lift those two "robust, active" little children after theyíd eaten half of her roof.

LES

Thatís simple. You put one kid in this oven and the other one in that.

MILLIE

Hush---both of you. Tell us, Mr. Koshkarian.

KEVIN

You can see from the photograph it can be done.

LES

We see itís there. But that doesnít mean it can work.

KEVIN

Work? There are devices you never dreamed of. Push buttons, automatic timers, microwaves which cook your food in one quarter of the time---

INEZ

Truth, equality, division of wealth---

KEVIN

Will you get away from me!

INEZ

Rapist!

KEVIN

And this refrigerator here---this defrosts automatically.

MILLIE

Defrosts?

KEVIN

In other words, itís an electric ice box---only you donít ever need ice. It gives you ice. And not great chunks of ice. But perfectly formed little cubes.

ADELE

And you invented all this yourself?

KEVIN

Good God, no! Itís been invented and improved upon by many over the years.

ADELE

You are clever, arenít you? Coming to San Basilica with this.

KEVIN

It has nothing to do with cleverness.

ADELE

Just what is your game, Mr. Koshkarian?

LES

Obviously heís come here to get backing from Mr. Huomo.

KEVIN

We donít need backing. Half the houses are already being constructed.

ARCHIE

Then whatís your part in all this?

KEVIN

Iím employed by the man responsible for the entire project, Howard H. Christiansen.

LES

This Christiansen fellow conceived and executed it with his own money?

KEVIN

No. Mr. Christiansen conceived it in close conjunction with a committee. And he didnít finance it himself. What he did was form a corporation, the Versailles Village Corporation, which in turn hires Mr. Christiansen at a weekly salary.

ARCHIE

Come again!

KEVIN

It has to be done for tax purposes, Mr.. Christiansen forms a corporation which in turn hires him and pays him a weekly salary. Then upon completion of the project, the corporation sells off each house to individuals. The individuals who have purchased the homes then assume control of the corporation.

ADELE

And what happens to Mr. Christiansen?

KEVIN

He goes on to something else and forms a new corporation.

ADELE

Which employs him again and pays him another weekly salary?

KEVIN

Yes.

ADELE

You made that all up, didnít you?

KEVIN

Look. Forget about the corporate set-up. Just concentrate on the conception of a place like Versailles Village. Do you like it?

MILLIE

Itís marvelous! Look, Adele, the things they have for old people---

INEZ

Oh, I see the point now. Appeal first to their materialism.

LES

But why make this only for old people?

ARCHIE

Senior citizens, old boy.

KEVIN

There are other planned communities for young marrieds and such---

ADELE

Young whose?

KEVIN

Young marrieds.

ADELE

What is a young married?

KEVIN

Exactly what it sounds like.

ADELE

It sounds like a bunch of nymphs and dryads frolicking in a stream.

KEVIN

I happen to be more interested in a planned community for senior citizens. When youíre young, you can look out for yourself, create your own future, find your own friends. But when age sets in, you need the same kind of help and guidance---

INEZ

You need government control!

KEVIN

You need the same kind of help and guidance you need when youíre an adolescent.

LES

Thatís provided you age into an old adolescent.

ADELE

And you, Mr. Koshkarian, have already been planning for your old age?

INEZ

For the old age of the world!

KEVIN

Yes. And thatís exactly what all of you should be doing.

INEZ

Give it to Ďem---go on!

KEVIN

Which brings me to the point. Youíre all impressed by Versailles Village, arenít you? Miss Allen?

ADELE

Well---yes. Yes, I am.

MILLIE

I think itís marvelous! And I do think you should show this to Mr. Huomo. Heíd be thrilled.

ARCHIE

The thing that impresses me, old man, is the idea that all those time-saving devices can free ordinary people to read, to attend concerts and lectures, to study, to improve themselves---

LEN

Here, here!

KEVIN

Then youíre all agreed as to the excellence of this project? Good. Because you can all put your names down for the house you want now.

MILLIE

What?!

KEVIN

Thereís no financial obligation. After all, how can we be sure which of you would be alive when I get back to the future? But people live far longer in my time, and youíd be ripe to take advantage of the peace, beauty, comfort and excitement of Versailles Village, So why donít you just sign these preliminary no-obligation forms on the dotted line here.
  (HE distributes them to the Group omitting Inez. ADELE, LES, MILLIE and ARCHIE take them mechanically, too stunned to speak. LES breaks the silence with a burst of laughter.)
 
LES
What a superb joke!

MILLIE

Heís marvelous!

ADELE

I wish my father could hear this!

ARCHIE

I wish Mr. Huomo could hear it!

LES

I say, itís a helluva lot better than predicting when the next eclipse will occur. Mark Twain, are you listening to this? (This sends them into more gales of laughter. The lights rise in Lenaís room. SHE has been sitting disconsolately on the bed, finishing the last of the desserts. Hearing the laughter, SHE rises and moves toward the bathroom door, pressing her ear against it.)
 
INEZ
Okay, give Ďem the punch.

KEVIN

What punch?

INEZ

I donít know. Youíre the one running the whole shebang. Donít let these rich, shallow ninnies get the last laugh!
  (LENA moves through the bathroom, opens the door to Kevinís room and pokes her head in timidly.)
 
LENA
I heard laughing.

ARCHIE

(with a deep bow) Come in, my dear.

ADELE

She already is.

LENA

I hope Iím not interrupting anything.

LES

Only an orgy of the future!
  (This sends them into more gales of laughter as LES fills their champagne glasses and ARCHIE goes to a phonograph on a small table and cranks it up.)
 
ARCHIE
Join our futuristic orgy, my dear.
  (HE hands her a glass filled with champagne. As he does, HE spots something on the front of her dress.)
 
ARCHIE
Excuse me--- (HE brushes it with his hand.) Hmm---cake crumbs.
  (From the phonograph we hear a tinny version of "Just Across the River from Queens". ARCHIE grabs Lena and begins to dance about the room.)
 
LES
(bowing to Millie) May I, madame?
  (Together THEY dance. ADELE, holding her champagne glass, begins to Charleston alone. Then SHE jumps onto the table and Charlestons madly. The dance becomes more frenzied and more joyful for all of them.)
 
INEZ
Look at them!

KEVIN

Looks like fun.

INEZ

Looks like fun! A party member who says, Looks like fun!

KEVIN

Iím not a party member!

INEZ

And I allowed you to---violate me!

KEVIN

I was the one who was violated.

INEZ

Oh, you and your kind make me sick to my stomach. You ought to have your Party Card ripped to shreds.

KEVIN

For the love of Christ!

INEZ

You can go on lollygaging if you want, but not Inez Gouterman!
  (In a quick gesture, SHE grabs the paperback from his jacket pocket. HE chases her around the room through the dancing quintet. At last HE catches up with her, grabs her about the waist, struggling to retrieve the paperback. Gradually DANCERS cease, compelled by the conflict.)
 
ARCHIE
I say, you two!

LENA

Oh, heís always fighting with someone.
  (KEVIN wrestles Inez to the ground. OTHERS form a semi-circle around them.)
LES
Odds. Iíll take odds.

MILLIE

Oh, Iíll bet on Inez. Sheís the only discus-thrower we had at Radcliffe.

ADELE

Inez, for goodness sakes, get up from there!

LES

What are they fighting about anyway?

MILLIE

She has a book or something.

ARCHIE

Any book thatís worth a fight like that---
  (HE steps to the proper place where he can slyly remove the book from Inezís outstretched hand. INEZ screams. ARCHIE peruses the title. A look of fear and confusion comes over his face. KEVIN and INEZ get to their feet. KEVIN wrests the book from Archieís hand, hides it behind his back.)
 
ADELE
(observing Archieís face) What is it? What was the book?

ARCHIE

N-nothing. (Simulating his former gaiety) On with the dance!

INEZ

Iíll tell you what it was! The Huomo Myth: A Study in Mass Ingenuousness.

LES

The what?

INEZ

You heard me!

ADELE

Mr. Koshkarian?

KEVIN

(to Inez) I warned you.

ADELE

Mr. Koshkarian. The book please.

KEVIN

Itís nothing really.

INEZ

Nothing??!! Itís everything!!!

KEVIN

Do you want to get me killed?

LES

Koshkarian, this is serious business.

KEVIN

Look. This---this is a book which---well It purports to have certain facts---

LES

Certain facts about what?

KEVIN

About---

INEZ

What a rotten fraud that plutocratic bastard up there in his ivy tower with his---

KEVIN

Shut up, damn you!

LES

Inez, if you were a man--- (to Kevin) Hand the book over.
  (KEVIN has been backing up to the window. HE reaches out and lets the book fall.)
 
INEZ
He let he book fall into the pool!
  (LES doubles his fist and slugs Kevin. KEVIN tries to slug him back, but LES is too quick for him and KEVIN falls to the floor.)
 
LENA
Leave him alone! Heís a sick man.

ARCHIE

Might as well warn you, old chap. He was our boxing star at Princeton.

LES

Get on your feet!

ADELE

Les, stop that!

LES

Any man who brings a book into this place called---

INEZ

(to Kevin) Are you just going to sit there and let this capitalist bozo pummel you! Are you a man or a mouse?

LENA

(to Inez) Get outa here, will ya?

INEZ

Get up on your feet and fight! Fight for freedom!

KEVIN

Telling them will accomplish nothing. Dr. Bellagio says one must know who he is and then make an adjustment to society. Only he didnít say anything about adjusting to the Twilight Zone.
  (LES knocks him down again.)


KEVIN

You fucking asshole! (ADELE and MILLIE are absolutely shocked by this.) Okay, just for that, Iím going to tell you whatís in that book!

INEZ

Attaboy!

KEVIN

Itís a book with facts. Not those silly lies you people were raised on. Itís a book which tells the true story of Cyrus Julius Huomo.

LENA

Why do you have to go on about Mr. Huomo? Why canít ya leave well enough alone?

KEVIN

Because all of you asked for it, and itís about time you knew. We might not be too much better off than you, but at least our search is for truth.
  (LES makes a move to slug him again, but ADELE restrains him.)


ADELE

Les! Weíre rational intelligent adults, not rowdy school boys.

LES

I wonít stand by while Mr. Huomo is vilified.

ADELE

Certainly we know enough about Mr. Huomo, certainly our love is strong enough so that we need not become violent at that tiny faction of communists and fascists who have attempted to destroy him.

MILLIE

You say your search is for truth, Mr. Koshkarian. Then what is the truth?

KEVIN

Step by step?

MILLIE

I donít know what you mean "step-by-step".

KEVIN

Lena?

LENA

Huh?

KEVIN

How was Mr. Huomo found?

LENA

Stop about Mr. Huomo already! Besides everyone here knows how Mr. Huomo was found.

KEVIN

He was found after an Indian attack by two happy pioneers, Maude and Stanislau Huomo. Maude heard the Little Baby Cyrusí cries as if in a dream---

INEZ

Go to it, Kev!

ADELE

Mr. Koshkarian, we all know that story. It is a sweet, romantic cliché. Surely you must realize we are enlightened modern people. These foolish legends spring up about every great man.

LENA

Foolish legends!?

KEVIN

Then how was the Little Baby Cyrus found after the Indian raid?

ADELE

Iíll thank you not to use that facetious tone with me. And Iíll also thank you not to use that precious infantile appellation for Mr. Huomo as a young child. He loathes it.

LENA

Whatís she talking about?

ADELE

Mr. Huomo was not found in any Indian raid. He was born quietly and unobtrusively into a family of seven at the foot of Imperioso hill.

INEZ

(to Kevin) That wasnít the real story!

KEVIN

Sssh! (to Adele) Very good, Miss Allen. Now what was the story behind his chopping down the barn for his motherís operation?

LES

Just what did this bamboozler come here for anyway? We donít have to defend---

ADELE

Les, please. His motherís operation, Mr. Koshkarian, is another humbug schoolchild legend. And it wasnít a barn he chopped down. It was a woodshed. And he did so when his father was gone because his family was freezing and one of his brothers was in bed with pneumonia.

MILLIE

Of course.

KEVIN

And so, according to your "enlightened version", he didnít walk fifty miles to return a nickel either?

LENA

Yes, he did!

ADELE

What kind of fool do you take Mr. Huomo for? Walking fifty miles to return a nickel! It was five miles.

KEVIN

And his romance with Wilma Rutkin who died at twenty-two leaving Cyrus Julian Huomo celibate for life?

ARCHIE

I say, must we continue this? This curious young man is repeating only the tales told by idiots and tenant farmers.

LENA

Of all the crust!

KEVIN

Then consider me an idiot tenant farmer. Later I will show you the extent of your idiocy, old chap.

ARCHIE

I beg your----!

LES

(doubling his fist again) I swear, Koshkarian---!

MILLIE

Men, please! Mr. Koshkarian, itís true that Wilma Rutkin was the great love of Mr. Huomoís life.

KEVIN

And he has remained celibate ever since.

LENA

Yes! Yes, he has!

ADELE

Good Lord, how are any of us to know whether heís remained celibate or not?

LENA

But he has!

INEZ

Ha!

KEVIN

Thatís about as accurate as The Great Muskegon Wrestling Match.

LES

Which happens to be fact!

KEVIN

Which lasted four hours?

LES

Hell, of course it didnít last four hours---it was more like thirty minutes. But it did stop the Muskegon wars. Check any history book for that.

KEVIN

I know how accurate your history books can be.

MILLIE

Mr. Koshkarian, we have a Matthew Brady photograph of the Muskegon brave Mr. Huomo threw, just as we have photographs of Wilma Rutkin and Mr. Pietre Jones.

KEVIN

Oh, yes, Mr. Pietre Jones.

ADELE

Go ahead, Mr. Koshkarian. Tell us the version you are trying so hard to tear down---how Mr. Huomo one day helped a little old man across the street and that little old man died a few days later leaving his entire fortune to Mr. Huomo.

KEVIN

You appear to know the story quite well, Miss Allen.

MILLIE

But itís such a silly story.

LINDA

It is not!

MILLIE

I bet if we went to Mr. Huomo right now and told him that story, which Iím sure heís heard a thousand times, why, heíd just laugh.

LENA

He would not! You are all terrible! Youíre worse than him. Those beautiful stories about Mr. Huomo---saying theyíre all lies and for tenant farmers.

ADELE

And we might add, my dear, for stable groomís daughters.

KEVIN

What?

ADELE

Your elegant, enlightened dinner companion happens to be the daughter of San Basilicaís head stable groom.

LENA

No! Thatís not true!

KEVIN

(to Adele) How do you know?

ADELE

Mr. Koshkarian, one does not keep a secret like that for long.

KEVIN

(to Lena) Then everything you told me---

LENA

(in tears) Everything I told you was real!

ADELE

My dear Mr. Koshkarian, Lena was invited to this guest house only through the persistent entreaties of her father. He thought that might be a good way of keeping her from corrupting all the male hired help.
  (LENA, sobbing, rushes from the room, back through the bathroom doors and into her own room.)
 
KEVIN
Lena! (to Adele) That was an awful thing to do.

ADELE

But it was you, Mr. Koshkarian, who is searching for truth, are you not?

INEZ

What are you concerned about that silly blonde tramp for---when thereís the WORLD!

LES

We were talking about Mr. Pietre Jones. Weíve all heard that old-man-crossing-the-street business. Itís a tale told to children like those legends of King Arthur and the pitcher of milk. In actuality the truth is far more interesting.

KEVIN

You bet it is!

LES

Mr. Huomo has never made any secret about the way his fortune was accrued. On the contrary, I would say he was rather proud of having contributed to progress with the invention of the stall shower.

MILLIE

But itís the way the invention came about---thatís the beautiful part.

LES

Mr. Pietre Jones was a diffident, kindly old man who lived across the hall from Mr. Huomo in the days when Mr. Huomoís law practice was failing and he was forced to live in a tenement in St. Louis. Mr. Pietre Jones, although reduced to such impecunious circumstances, remained a man of immaculate cleanliness. However, his feeble condition made it increasingly more difficult to take advantage of the bathtub in the kitchen. The bathtub was set too high, and to get into it, Mr. Jones had to hoist himself up on his aged wrists which could not support the weight of even his emaciated body. Often he would fall in the tub head first, thus resulting in a series of enormous welts on his poor head. As the welts increased, forming a peculiar headdress like a garland if small red onions, Mr. Huomo took note of this when he would greet Mr. Jones in the hall. Then one night when Mr. Huomo was in his room studying his legal books, he heard a terrible thud across the hall followed by a scream for help. He went running through the open door of Mr. Jonesí kitchen. There lay Mr. Pietre Jones half in and half out of the tub, gasping for life. Mr. Pietre Jones had forgotten to turn on the water.

ARCHIE

Naturally Mr. Huomo had to do something to help this frail noble old man, so ingeniously he thought of converting a small closet into a shower.

MILLIE

Which is exactly what he did, ripping out the walls to accommodate the new plumbing. Mr. Pietre Jones was eternally grateful to Mr. Huomo even if both of them were thrown out of the tenement.

ADELE

It was the gesture, Mr. Koshkarian, more than the invention itself which so touched Mr. Pietre Jones. When they were evicted from the tenement, the old man took every penny of his meager savings from the years he worked as a deckhand on Charles Darwinís ship, the H.M.S. Beagle,, and donated it to Mr. Huomo for the sole intention of setting up a stall shower in the tenement apartments of every old man in the country.

LES

As luck would have it, the business boomed, stall showers swept the country, and both Mr. Huomo and Mr. Pietre Jones found themselves millionaires. Having no relatives, when Mr. Pietre Jones died, he left his share of the fortune to Mr. Huomo.

KEVIN

And thatís what you "enlightened" people believe is the way Mr. Huomo made his fortune?

ADELE

We believe it, because itís true.

INEZ

Fools! Fools!

MILLIE

Inez, if you donít be still---

KEVIN

Sheís right, of course. Youíre all fools. Do you want to know the story that was in the book I tossed from the window into the pool?

INEZ

They donít want to know---they t must know!

ADELE

Do tell, Mr. Koshkarian. Why am I beginning to hate that name?

LES

(doubling his fist) But I warn you---

KEVIN

Oh, Iím only supposed to tell what doesnít get me a sock on the jaw. (moving to the bathroom) Not on your life, buddy. Iím telling the truth!
  (HE steps into the bathroom and locks the door. OTHERS are bewildered, glance from one to the other.)
 
KEVIN
Can you hear me?
  (Lights rise in Lenaís room. Hearing Kevinís voice from the bathroom, SHE stands in surprise.)
 
INEZ
(shouting toward the bathroom door) Coward!

KEVIN

Cyrus J. Huomo was not found in a covered wagon after an Indian raid and he was not born at the foot of Casa Imperioso hill into a family of seven. He was the illegitimate bastard of a 48 year old charwoman in a dancehall in Sandersí Gulch, Nebraska.
  (LES lunges toward the door, but ADELE restrains him. As Kevin tells the "real version", a sense of overwhelming confidence builds in him. HE inadvertently opens the medicine cabinet, sees the champagne stashed away and begins pouring himself glassfuls.)
 
KEVIN
This charwoman, one Violet Pritchard, had the baby conveniently enough when a wagon train was passing through Sandersí Gulch. She put the kid in the first wagon she could find, the one owned by Maude and Stanislau Huomo. When they discovered the baby twelve miles out of Sandersí Gulch, Stanislau Huomo was all in favor of dumping it over a canyon. He had six kids of his own---what did he need with another one? Until the hour he died, Stanislau Huomo never missed a day without telling the Little Baby Cyrus, "I shoulda dumped you over that canyon, you miserable little bastard." It was Maude Huomo who fought to keep the child. But it was not out of compassion, may I assure you. She and Stanislau had the six homeliest kids west of the Mississippi and her great ambition was to some day give birth to a child she could bear looking at. Next to her own kids, Cyrus J. Huomo was Rudolph Valentino.

LES

Iím gonna smash his ugly face in!

KEVIN

The Little Baby Cyrus grew up with only two ambitions: to kill his rotten stepfather and to overturn every outhouse in Mendocino county. It may interest you "enlightened" people to know that the man who wrote The Huomo Myth, for which incidentally he received the Pulitzer Prize for biography, says that Huomo had an "outhouse fetish", which never left him during his entire life and was the result of careless toilet training.

MILLIE

I wonít stand here and listen to this rubbish. Iím going to call Mr. St. Clair.

ADELE

Wait!

KEVIN

Are you still there?

ADELE

Weíre still here.

KEVIN

It wasnít a barn he chopped down, and it wasnít a woodshed. It was---you guessed it! When he finished overturning the damned things, he chopped them down. Occasionally with people in them.

LES

Of all the---!

KEVIN

Walked all those miles to school, did he? He was the most notorious truant in Solvang. And while weíre on the subject of walking, he never went two steps to return a nickel. On the contrary. He ran five miles once when heíd undercharged a deaf old lady fifty cents. And as for this great love affair with Wilma Rutkin---let me tell you---he married her for one reason and one reason alone. She had money from the Rutkin Copper Mines---and that was the reason he married her. But in four years, he had fallen madly in love with a Floradora girl named Gladys Dupuis. Conveniently Wilma died of influenza leaving Cyrus a multimillionaire. Only itís mighty strange that all the symptoms of her illness were those allied to arsenic poisoning.

LES

Iíll kill that bastard! (HE smashes against the door, jiggles the knob, but finds it securely locked. HE pounds his body against it, but it still wonít budge.) Goddamn you! Iím going to murder you!

KEVIN

How can you murder someone who wonít be born for seventy years?

INEZ

Donít stop now! Tell them everything---the Muskegon Wars---

MILLIE

In which Mr. Huomo fought valiantly!

KEVIN

You bet he fought valiantly, considering he started them.

LES

(banging on the door again) Damn you! (to Inez) And you, too!

KEVIN

One of his many sidelines was buying up the magnificent handmade Muskegon carpets for a handful of glass beads and a crate of bourbon selling them for thousands of dollars to European nobility. When the Great Chief Manaloosa found out about it, he cut off Huomoís supply, preferring a more honest middle man. To get revenge Huomo hired a band of circus roustabouts, dressed them up as Muskegons and staged an attack on Fort Tomahoola.

MILLIE

Liar!

KEVIN

And as far as the Great Muskegon Wrestling Match, that incomparable tale of valiance and muscle---it was all nothing but a gigantic homosexual fantasy on the part of a swish journalist for The New Orleans Times Picayune. (laughing and toasting himself in the mirror) Photographs! Documents! Huomo forged them all! The greatest propaganda machine of the 19th Century! The stall shower? It wasnít any kind of shower---it was a flush toilet! Mr. Pietre Jones was the inventor of the flush toilet---Mr. Pietre Jones, a poor palsied octogenarian with diarrhea. Huomo stole Pietre Jonesí invention, made a fortune manufacturing flush toilets and never gave Jones a penny.

ADELE

Is that all, Mr. Koshkarian?

KEVIN

Good God, no! Thereís loads more---these are just some of the highlights. After all itís been three years since I read the book in hardback.

ADELE

And now that youíre finished with your scatological outburst, can you explain why Mr. Huomo has shared his wealth every worthy cause in the country?

KEVIN

Oh, I----

ADELE

And it might interest you to know that we personally have been involved in several of these charities.

KEVIN

Iím not denying all the charitable causes. Oh, heís done that all right. Ever since Teddy Roosevelt took him aside and said to him, and I quote, "If you donít start parting with some of that loot, you old bastard, the whole countryís gonna find out what a cheap motherfucker you really are."
  (MILLIE gasps. ADELE reels back. HOUSEBOY enters stage right carrying a very wet paperback. HE taps at the door. ARCHIE opens it. HOUSEBOY steps in.)
 
HOUSEBOY
Fish out of pool. Someone drop.

LES

Gimme that!

ADELE

Itís absolutely limp.

ARCHIE

Blow on it.
  (HOUSEBOY exits. ARCHIE begins to blow on it, but LES pulls it away and strides toward the door.)
 
ADELE
Where are you going?

LES

Iím taking this to Mr. Huomo.

MILLIE

No!

ARCHIE

Millieís right.

MILLIE

We canít let Mr. Huomo see that---that vile slander. He has so much to do, so much of importance to worry about---

LES

Iím not standing by and letting that animated cuspidor come into San Basilica as Mr. Huomoís guest, eat Mr. Huomoís food and then vilify the man without his being able to fight back.

MILLIE

But itís all such an obvious pack of lies. Take it to Mr. St Clair if you will, but not Mr. Huomo.

INEZ

Of course not Mr. Huomo. Youíre afraid of Mr. Huomo.

MILLIE

I most certainly am not. Mr. Huomo is kindness and goodness---

INEZ

And peukinessÖ.

ADELE

Les is right. We must show this to Mr. Huomo.

LES

Come on!
  (LES, ADELE, MILLIE and ARCHIE hurry through the hall and exit. INEZ waits a moment, then decides to follow.)
 
INEZ
I wouldnít miss this for all the rice in China.
  (KEVIN is suddenly aware of silence in the other room.)


KEVIN

Hello? Hello out there? Theyíve gone.
  (LENA opens the bathroom door from her side, KEVIN having forgotten to lock it. HE is so startled he drops the glass of champagne.)
 
LENA
Theyíre gone. To see Mr. Huomo.

KEVIN

Oh? How come you didnít go?

LENA

Because I think the whole thingís stupid. I think youíre stupid, and I think theyíre stupid.

KEVIN

But you heard?

LENA

I heard.

KEVIN

And you---you donít want to go see Mr. Huomo?

LENA

Why should I see Mr. Huomo? I told you. The whole thingís stupid. I wouldnít even bother repeating it to a Raggedy Ann doll.

KEVIN

(retrieving the glass and refilling it, toasting her) To you, Lena---to the ability to believe like you.
  (SHE turns and walks back into her room. KEVIN follows.)


KEVIN

Donít leave, Lena. Maybe Madame Spinoza was right after all. I donít care if youíre the stable groomís daughter.

LENA

I donít care what you care. A stable groomís daughter can sign with Thomas Ince, fly solo non-stop from Cincinnati to Orange, New Jersey and murder her second husband, too, you know.

KEVIN

You know what, Lena?

LENA

What?

KEVIN

While I was in there telling the truth about Huomo---

LENA

That wasnít the truth.

KEVIN

All right. Believe what you will. But while I was in there I had the most glorious sense of---how can I say it?---power!

LENA

Yeah.

KEVIN

Thereís power in truth, you know.

LENA

Yeah. Thereís also power in locking the bathroom door.
  (KEVIN looks at her in surprise, then laughs.)


KEVIN

Youíre quite a girl, Lena Martina. Come here.
  (HE pulls her onto his lap and kisses her passionately.)


KEVIN

Oh, Lena! Lena Martina! Involve me!
  (SHE pulls away, rises, goes to both doors to make sure theyíre locked, then checks the window.)
 
KEVIN
What are you doing?

LENA

Theyíll be back, you know. And they were all fit to be tied when they left. Theyíll be much worse than that when they come back.
  (SHE returns to the edge of the bed dousing the lamp. The room is suffused with moonlight.)
 
KEVIN
And yet---for all your belief in Mr. Huomo, youíll still come to me like this?

LENA

Yeah.
  (SHE starts to undress. HE runs his hand over her thigh.)


KEVIN

Why, Lena?

LENA

Because Mr. Huomo would want it that way. Mr. Huomo believes one should turn the other cheek. Mr. Huomo believes one should love thy neighbor. And Mr. Huomo also believes a condemned man should eat a hearty meal. (KEVIN gulps and his eyes widen in fright as LENA kisses him sensually on the lips. But the kiss is shattered by the sudden boom of cannons illuminating the room with angry slashes of light.)
 
KEVIN
Whatís that?

LENA

(dashing to the window) The cannons!

KEVIN

The gold cannons in the sterling silver turrets!?

LENA

Theyíre all going off! In all the years I can remember---and my father and his father before them---theyíve never gone off!
  (SHE begins to sob.)


KEVIN

But what does it mean?

LENA

The end of the world.

KEVIN

The end of---? (laughing) Oh, Lena! Donít be foolish. Thereís a whole other world later. Why, of course there is. Why itís got Josef Stalin and Adolph Hitler and Howdy Doody and Wally Simpson and O.J. Simpson and Homer Simpson and Bart SimpsonÖ (HE is insecurely going through the list as the cannons continue their shattering thunder.)
 
 
CURTAIN