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Scene 1. An old Arab Man ZEID, with a white beard, and simple cheap pants and shirt, barefoot, with a straw hat, is sitting on the ground working in his garden. The sound of surf from the SEA can be heard somewhere. A JACKASS brays. ZEID Oh my Grandson, I hear wise counsel. An enemy approaches from the road. I heard their war wagons and machinery. Oh, ah, the cabbage and peas are looking good this summer. The seabreeze is nourishing them. Cabbage and peas, Grandson. Here they come. Enter DRIBRAHIM as before, sweating profusely in his rumpled business suit, carrying a briefcase, and SAMINA and the 2 GUARDS as before. DRIBRAHIM Oh thank god for that seabreeze. It’s hotter’n hell. SAMINA I like it. There he is. ZEID I hear the braying of our Jamahiriya, Friends. Come, join me for some sweet afternoon chahee. Come, come, cool off, take off your shoes and socks and wiggle your toes in the clean green surf of the almighty Mediterranean Sea. Oh, ah, doesn’t that feel good? The Sahara Desert is a bastard. The seabreeze is coming up. Hear it? Or perhaps that is only the loose gums flapping of the women. DRIBRAHIM As salaam aleikum. ZEID stands up and politely shakes all their hands. ZEID Wa salaam. I could hear the mindless gossip even over your military engines and that is louder than the waves, or even my Grandson that pathetic old jackass over there. SAMINA Your grandson?
ZEID Oh yes. He is a good piece o’ shit. Better than any of my sons or daughters, who are long gone to big corrupt cities. Or their mothers flapping their gums up at the big ugly house your Jamahiriya so generously built for us. Why don’t you take these mighty warriors up there and those old biddies will try to get you fat with cou-cous and bread and candy. That’s all they do up there, eat, and watch TV soap operas on the satellite cable channels. SAMINA Alright, Men, I guess that’s alright. ZEID Be careful, my brave soldiers. Those are evil old witches of the night. I live down here on the beach, for safety. 1st GUARD And grow a nice garden. Those peas look good. 2nd GUARD And cabbages. How do you grow such good soil next to the sandy Sea? SAMINA That’s enough. Keep an eye on the road, I don’t like the looks of the news reports coming from Tunisia. The GUARDS exit. ZEID Take off your coat Dribrahm. You’re sweating like a bureaucrat. DRIBRAHIM (taking off his coat) Succharin, I will. How did you know my name? ZEID You are Almuakaf’s son, Azouya. We fought together at Sebha. DRIBRAHIM Yes. Yes. You knew my father? I don’t remember . . . ZEID Oh, oh, you were just a boy. Sit, please, the sand is cool, and the black dirt of the garden is built up over it. See? How do I do this, many people ask? It is a miracle. All 3 laugh and sit. SAMINA
You fought at Sebha? ZEID Oh, it was horrible in those days,Captain Samina. A sleepy oasis, but, oh, now, well . . . SAMINA It is a great metropolis. So your spies know who I am as well? ZEID Oh yes. We are going to overthrow your great dictatorship any day. DRIBRAHIM A fort in the Fezzan. My father was proud of that. ZEID We all were. But aren’t you here to deliver me some instructions in your briefcase? DRIBRAHIM (getting out the papers and SCROLL) Yes. Do you already have an answer? ZEID (taking Scroll) Ah, do you remember the hoosh in Sebha of Grandma Aisha? That old whore! Oh but of course you would remember that! Ha ha! Is that where all you Sebhaese pagan boys got laid? Well, it’s better than turning Homo like those city boys in Tripoli and Cairo. SAMINA Spoiled worthless Mama’s boys. ZEID suddenly jumps up and yells offstage. ZEID Begone, O thou worthless cows, stay away from my beach. Go back to your living rooms, you spoilers of Libyan manhood! We must be prepared Dribrahm, they may attack. Allah frown upon you! SAMINA (laughing) They are retreating back up the hill. ZEID (sits again, to read) It is a frightening thing. Now, what is this crap? DRIBRAHIM What do you suppose they wanted? ZEID (reading, gets up and walks off seriously, reading) Oh no.
DRIBRAHIM Malleesh. ZEID What is this? SAMINA Orders from ibn Qaddaf to find you, Good Sir, and deliver these strange dispatches in kufic Arabic. That’s all I know. ZEID And we speak in English for convenience? Another miracle? SAMINA And then we report back to Tripoli. ZEID You bring this to me now, of my Son, the Apostate? From Abu Qaddaf? DRIBRAHIM Yes. Yes. ZEID What was his manner? Tell me exactly what your great Jamahiriya leader looked like when he gave you these, and what he said. DRIBRAHIM I don’t know. SAMINA That’s classified. DRIBRAHIM He’ll find out anyway. He was quiet, Zeid. SAMINA He tries always to be a good man, like all of us, I think. DRIBRAHIM He was sitting quietly and said he had a job for me, an annoying job. ZEID Annoying? He said that? Was that the exact word he said? DRIBRAHIM Well, no, maybe, it was more like his manner.
ZEID His manner? SAMINA He had just issued an alert for an intruder in the compound, but we found nothing. It’s funny. ZEID What? What is funny? SAMINA I don’t know. ZEID Anything you can remember. DRIBRAHIM An Intruder? ZEID Who brought him this Scroll? SAMINA I don’t know. ZEID What was funny about it? SAMINA The alert. I --ZEID What? What? Captain Samina, I know about you. But tell me anyway, where are you from? DRIBRAHIM I wonder. I wonder. ZEID Let’s go swimming. Time to cool off. DRIBRAHIM But what about -ZEID My Son? It was a female who drove him away.
They all get up and start to take off their clothes, and exit up the beach. We hear louder SURF now, and the JACKASS brays again.
MUHAMMAD and JIBRA’IL run onstage laughing, in swimsuits, wet, and young, about 20 years old at the least, very healthy and handsome and happy. They have big beach towels and spread them on the sand. The SEA surf is crashing louder, and it’s a bright hot day. MUHAMMAD Oh God, I love the Sea. And I love you. She laughs, but doesn’t reciprocate or reply, just laying seductively on the towels, in her sexy bikini. He lays beside her and they kiss passionately. Finally she breaks away, and stares thoughtfully at the sky. JIBRA’IL Muhammad . . . MUHAMMAD Hmmmm? JIBRA’IL What . . . oh I don’t know. MUHAMMAD Yeah. JIBRA’IL (very serious suddenly) You can be anything you want, you know. MUHAMMAD Huh? JIBRA’IL You can be anything you want. You can do anything you want. MUHAMMAD (starting to touch her) Okay. JIBRA’IL (playfully slapping his hand away from her breast)
Oh you. Not that. I’m serious. MUHAMMAD So am I. JIBRA’IL I mean it. C’mon. I love our long talks, after school at the Underwater Club, or -MUHAMMAD Sure. So do I. We shoulda brought some beer. It’s gonna be another hot one. Good thing there’s nobody else on the beach, so maybe we -JIBRA’IL (angrily sits up) Stop it, Goddess! MUHAMMAD Hey . . . JIBRA’IL C;mon. Let’s go back. I have to get home. MUHAMMAD I thought we had all day? I have to fly to Rome tonight, for college. JIBRA’IL I know, it’s just . . . I’m sorry. MUHAMMAD Smile. You were so happy a minute ago. JIBRA’IL Smile? MUHAMMAD Yeah. (starts singing) “Smile, though the world is shaking, Smile though your heart is breaking … “ I don’t know, those aren’t the right lyrics, I guess. I like my own lyrics. “Smile, and the world smiles with you, O my Darling someday . . . “ JIBRA’Il
That’s ridiculous. Smile, he says. I don’t wanna smile. MUHAMMAD Why not? JIBRA’IL I don’t want to. MUHAMMAD (confused) Well ... JIBRA’IL You’re leaving tonight. Why do you have to leave now, before summer even starts. School doesn’t even start until the Fall. MUHAMMAD That’s what my father says. He wants me to get a job up there and get settled in. JIBRA’IL All summer? What am I going to do? MUHAMMAD Rome is not that far away. JIBRA’IL It might as well be on the Moon. MUHAMMAD You can come see me. I thought we’d already arranged it. JIBRA’IL Why do you have to go to Rome? MUHAMMAD I love it. I thought you did too. But instead you’re going to Miami. That’s what’s really nuts. JIBRA’IL Why? MUHAMMAD Miami, are you kidding me?
JIBRA’IL The University of Florida has the best marine biology program in the world. MUHAMMAD Oh damn. You know, Gabbey, I’m so afraid if we leave Tripoli, it … It’s so sacred here, to me, ya know? I mean there’s you, and the Sea, it’s all . . . there’s just . . . it won’t be the same, maybe. We can’t . . . JIBRA’IL That’s what I mean. Why do you have to study Italian and Roman history? You’re just going European on me. MUHAMMAD Oh yeah, and Miami is real African African. JIBRA’IL We’re just losing our country, you’re right. We keep getting seduced by all this pop Western culture, the Beatles, gin and tonics . . . MUHAMMAD Great stuff. They beat that tingly tangly Arabic music all to hell. C’mon, I thought you agreed. JIBRA’IL Well, maybe I do. MUHAMMAD Libyan women are treated like slaves, all tattooed and wrapped up in barracans with only one eye showing. King Idris is a fat pig. JIBRA’IL Yes. But we’re Libyans. MUHAMMAD We’ll come back. Hell. JIBRA’IL Muhammad . . so many of us are counting on you. There is so much to do. MUHAMMAD (singing)
“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you Tomorrow I’ll miss you, Remember I’ll always be true And then while I’m away I’ll write home every day -- “ JIBRA’IL (desperately embracing him) Oh my Darling, don’t go! They begin to make love. Fade out.
ZEID, DRIBRAHIM, and SAMINA are also sitting on the beach, wet from a swim, and drying off, sipping chahee tea from a boiling pot by his garden. SAMINA We’d better censor the rest of that plot, huh? ZEID It went something like that, I guess. I know they went swimming a lot, got great tans, and we built a little handmade sailboat, which leaked more than it sailed. But Muhammad rebuilt it several times, and then made his epic voyage along the coast to Egypt, a few years later. He was good at working hard in sports, or to play, but to make a living? Grow up? Not as much. I guess he blamed me too, for losing his girl. DRIBRAHIM Why? ZEID You have kids. They like to blame their parents. DRIBRAHIM Because you sent him away to school? SAMINA What happened to her? ZEID
I don’t know. We heard she married a rich American in Florida, her first year in college. A freshman. Muhammad didn’t talk about it much with me. His mother knows more about it. He majored in Wine and skiing I think ,mostly in school. Got bad grades. Kicked out. DRIBRAHIM So why are we here? I don’t get it. SAMINA This so-called Scroll doesn’t make sense. We’re supposed to offer you all the assistance we can? Doing what? For what? ZEID I’m a good Muslim, believe it or not. Maybe I don’t pray to Mecca five times a day, but I’ve done my Hajj and all that. DRIBRAHIM I give up. Malleesh. We gotta get back to Tripoli. A plane’s waiting in al-Khums over there. ZEID You can stay at Leptis Magna tonight. I’ve got some rotgut wine, we can sing to the stars all night, run naked through the old Roman Theatre of Dionysos. DRIBRAHIM I wish I could. But something’s in the wind. SAMINA Do you know where your son is? I think that’s what our Colonel really wants us to find out. ZEID No. DRIBRAHIM Last we heard he was captured by the Israelis, or Americans, or both, years ago. After the Yom Kippur. ZEID That was a long time ago. We fought there too, you know.
DRIBRAHIM I know. SAMINA Was he there? ZEID We don’t get along anymore. I haven’t heard from him in many years. He may be dead for all I know. SAMINA I’m sorry. Thanks for the tea. You can keep these papers. We’ll just report back that we delivered them, and you don’t know anything. That’s all we know. ZEID He went off and worshipped the Roman culture. He said they were better than us, and Islam. DRIBRAHIM Goodbye old Fella. Thank you. ZEID For what? SAMINA and DRIBRAHIM leave, dressed again in their suit and uniform. We hear the Jackass bray off in the distance somewhere. Lights down slowly, as ZEID starts crying sadly.
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