Diana Gentry, Cherokee wife of Sam Houston.
St. Peter (also playing Ms. St. Liberty, as his substitute at the gate of Heaven).
Andrew Jackson, politician, general, President, national hero. (Spare-framed, rooster-haired, intense. See portrait.)
John Calhoun, politician, Secretary of War, Senator, Vice-President, hero of the Secessionist Movement of the Southern States. (Uptight in high white collar and black suit. See portrait.)
Sam Houston, politician, Texas Generalissimo and Governor, Senator, Southwest hero. (Very big, flamboyant, boisterous, frequent nips at whiskey flask.)
Michael Walsh, politician, newspaperman, agitator of the immigrant Irish working classes, Congressman. (Stocky, truculent look, shabby-suited.)
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Mexican Army commander at San Jacinto, sometime President of Mexico, formal.
Jeff, Texan Lieutenant, Aide to General Sam Houston, eager beaver.
Offstage voices, noises, music.
(Linguistic note: the four Celts speak variously in four dialects: American half-cultivated Southern Central of the 1840's, Irish brogue, legalese, and, along with the other characters, the Grazian free-wheeling lingo.)
Scene One: (Centerstage, January 1818).
Washington D.C., Office of Secretary of War John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. Sam Houston is an actual US Army lieutenant, but he dresses in buckskin, wears a headress of feathers, is strung with beads and bracelets, and slings a Cherokee blanket over his shoulder. Calhoun aloof, proper, condescending.
Calhoun, angrily: No regular Officer of the United States Army can go about looking like you do? You are out of uniform, Lieutenant.
Houston: I am assigned officially the duty of escorting My Indian friends, to whose nation I also belong, so I dress like them to make them feel good. I am lobbying for the Indian Nations that have been cruelly dispossessed by the likes of you. So I dress thataway. Its plenty good for this Washington mudhole.
Calhoun: Where did you get that word "lobbying." Never heard of it.
Houston: It's what Washington is all about, but the word won't be coined for quite a few years, maybe twenty.
Calhoun: Well, I won't use it until its proper to do so.
Houston: I don't like you putting on airs, Mr. Secretary. (He breaks into an Irish brogue.) We all came out of the same hovels back yonder in the old country. This country is gonna be a democracy and it'll be us what does it. We can't help ourselves; we must go the ends of the earth or be driven there.
Calhoun: We are trying to make this a country of law and order, Mr. Houston. So go West young man, and never darken my door again. If you want to learn some more future words, just remember that you have met in me an anal neurotic who is up-tight and doesn't give rights and privileges away cheaply, or at any price, come to think of it.
Houston: "Yer mighty fine, Mr. Secretary. They sure took the country out of the boy up at that finishing school - Yale ,weren't it?"
Calhoun: You have no dignity, man.
Houston: There's no dignity in mother nature. I'm a combined Scotchman, Irishman, Indian-bred and part of the real heart of America. What're you representing yerself ta be? You stayed East and I went West and never the twain shall meet.
Calhoun: Get out of here! If you don't change into proper uniform, I'll have you court-martialed.
Scene Two: (Left of stage, time is November 1832)
Noise from a tepee, out stumbles Sam Houston drunk, his Indian wife chasing and beating him with a straw broom,
Wife: You squaw man, you get out and go to Texas.
Houston: Aw, honey, there's nuthin in Texas cepten burnt grass and stagnant water.
Wife: Get out. Your first bitch kicked you out because you stink so bad, and only because I'm an Indian can I stand you stink.
Houston: That's part of being a hero, Hiawatha honey, you're shot, you ooze pus, you stink.
Wife: And don't call me Hiawatha, you Big Drunk.
(They disappear to the left of stage.)
Scene Three (Time is April 21, 1836, close to the upper bay land of San Jacinto, now Texas)
Battle of San Jacinto, center stage, lots of noise from left rear and right rear backstage. Houston and Jeff his subaltern emerge from tall swamp grass to view the scene. Houston wearing a military jacket over his Indian costume. Jeff dressed as Boy Scout.
Jeff, reflectively: Every once in a while the folks here roundabouts gits the fervor of the Holy Ghost and off they go, a hootin n a hollering, jumpin in the river, screeching and honking at the sky...but after a while more or less they git restless agin and off they go, off they go into the wide blue yonder, maybe niver to return.. They're a parcel of trouble but thin whatddaya expect, they're always ready for a fight, makes no diffrence, big or small.
Houston: Shet up, Lieutenant. Now listen here: giv em a speech when you issue them their brandy ration. An Jeff, do you know any Spanish, gotta say something to our chicano volunteers, we got a lot of them, yuh know..here, try this ...Olay, Olay, Por Texas, por libertas, por Santa Maria!! Jeff repeats him, hollering good and loud. And try this for the Indians. He gives a piercing war whoop. Jeff gives a feeble rendition --- aw nivermine, yuh soun like yer comin from Charlestown, and ain't niver heard an Indian, yu'v nivir bin edicated.
Jeff: Yes sir, whatever you say, General, sir.
From rear of stage, mixture of shots and shouts of "Remember the Alamo!", and "Freedom for Texas," with Spanish shouts of "Olay," war whoops. Houston and Jeff dart into the foliage, then return, but Houston is dragging himself along with Jeff's help, wounded. Then cheers, then abruptly an immaculately dressed Mexican appears, salutes snappily. He's General Santa Anna, off-and-on President of Mexico and commander of the Mexican forces.
General Santa Anna: Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, at your service. I give you my sword. My men, they are all killed, or otherwise disposed of. Where do I go to give away Texas?
Houston: You're in the right spot, Generalissimo.
Scene Four: Purgatory in Earth Year 1863.
A sign is leaned by Houston against the wall, which says "Purgatory. Consignment #77993-1863, Scheduled for Pearly Gates Admissions Exam in Year of Our Lord 2000."
Calhoun: I hear that Andrew Jackson is coming in, and God knows who else of our ilk is to be assigned to our group. To bring us together again is unfortunate. If it were Hell I could understand it. But it's purgatory and we should be spared such extreme suffering.
Jackson: Calhoun, you'll not be learning your lesson in one thousand years of Purgatory. Just look down below and see what you've done to our blessed Union. You said, if the slaves were freed, the South would become the permanent abode of disorder, anarchy, misery, and wretchedness. But it's your secession that caused the war and that done what you said. Half-a million dead men, two million wounded and diseased, you'll soon have your worst fears realized, and you've freed the very slaves whom you hoped to hold in bondage forever.
Calhoun: As for you, Andrew Jackson, whether you get to Heaven or not, your name will be a curse word in 2000 different Indian languages and 362 giant-sized Indian gambling casinos throughout the land. I should have hanged you when I had the chance.
Jackson: Your law books be damned. My mama done tol' me, "Indict no man for assault and battery or sue him for slander."
Calhoun: I take note that she said nothing about murdering.
Houston: I personally am glad to be rejoined to your company, gentlemen, first because I really love General Jackson, but also I'd like to resume my discussion of democracy, Mr. Calhoun, on even terms. Death is the great equalizer.
I support democracy, even though the will of the people kicked me out of the Governor's chair because I opposed joining Texas to the Confederacy and destroying the Union. Following the popular will, I lent my frail old back to the Confederation.
I am a flexible man. I used to advocate - when I was young and especially when I was drunk - that us Americans should bring in Mexico, along with Canada and Cuba. I could have won the West with 500, maybe 400, volunteers, like Cortez won Mexico.
Nothing wrong with taking over Mexico. Fine people -- lazy, no backbone, don't know what to do with all their land. I'd like to take over the rest of it, add it to Texas, and have a ball with a free Western Empire.
Cahoun: (Looks prayerfully at the sky) Never stops talking, just a typical Celt.
Did you ever stop to consider that you were a traitor just like Aaron Burr, with his scheme for a Midwestern Empire. Your individualism is more extreme than even mine. I would never abandon the United States just for a million miles, take or give, of poor land.
Jackson: Look who's talking, the damned secessionist!
Houston: It's the frontier, Mr. Calhoun. The frontier is always full of traitors - you could also called them far-sighted men, impatient men, idealists. Look at the Mormons; they wuz traitors, wanting to carve out a Nation of Utah for themselves. They blew away a whole U.S. cavalry experdition and massacred a lot of harmless Arkansas immigrants. Premature secessionists, you might say in fancy language. Look at the Californians, the Cubans the French-Indian Metis who wanted to take over Canada and America from the Arctic down to the Missouri River. Why I remember the Germans wanting to make Missouri a German State and if it weren't for us Celts messing everything up, America would be in tatters. It's old Andy Jackson that became the big nationalist and made me argue for joining the Union. I myself was a Mexican citizen and a Roman Catholic -- for a while -- and I become whatever else it takes to get ahead of wherever I am -- votes, friends, liquor, women, slaves and fine horses, lots of giveaway land, law cases, fees, commissions, partnerships -- jest don't try to bribe me. I am a man of honor. See, they let me keep my mother's gold ring, it's got "HONOR" inscribed on it - he offers to show it.
Calhoun: Disgusting. You'll have us all a race of mongrels and mestizos. We'll be coupling with the Negroes and making up a culture of jungle drums and jungle stews. No principles. Imagine marrying that Indian and accepting the name of "Big Drunk" as your Cherokee appellation. You remind me of your fairy godfather, Andrew Jackson here, the poor man's George Washington, except he's spent most of his life killing off Indians.
Houston (contemplatively): That's true for a fact. But you have to admit that I have been able to keep him from killing all of the Indians and taking away all their lands... But what about you - you not only have Indian land by the mile, and also you got your best idea from my Cherokee brothers - even though it won't work in a thousand years. Give it a fancy name of course - 'concurrent majority,' meaning you cain't do nothin for the whole American people unless every state agrees. I know that principle, it's an Indian tribe principle, ain't it? It won't work.
Calhoun: It will work, it had better work, you had better like it.. or else..
Houston: Lookee here. You are South and East, and we can do without you out in the West. I bin against you when the time came for your State to play its game of concurrent majority, and nullification, and secession from the Union.
This little War of the Texians? and the Mexican War? and the War you were so hot to start, whereupon we got beat? that War against the British, was it 1812? - these were just bloody skirmishes compared with the massacres of whole armies you're causing.
Jackson, since coming on stage, has apparently become disoriented in time and space, in his excitement breaking into an Irish brogue: What year, what place, what brought me here, my faithful slaves, my horse, Purgatives, don't need em, Purgatory. Aha, it's Big Drunk, the Cherokee Indian, and my old pal, Calhoun the secessionist - I should of hung him - and who is that third man, (spotting Walsh) looks like a city rat.
Don't fret, folks, you're oll keerect, Ok, and Calhoun 'll change his tune to Sewanee River and states rights as soon as he's shut out of the White House, which I'll do in my second term as President, if you can wait that long. I have a devoted little toady Dutch bartender, name of Martin Van Buren, who I kin rely on.
Calhoun: General, pull yourself together. You're dead, you're in Purgatory, you'll be here until the year 2000 at least, according to that sign there. (Spotting Walsh) I don't know who this city stranger is. But he comes with our consignment.
Walsh: I don't know what you fellows are talking about. I know New York City and I know Washington, D.C. and I don't like the places where they hate Catholics and especially I have a couple of fists that explode like pistols when I meet an Ulsterman who don't like Irish Catholics. Do you hate Irish Catholics? (Suddenly suspicious, he searches the faces of the three men belligerently. They hem and haw and look aside, and say "aw, naw" "aw, come on now," "Of course not,"unconvincingly.)
You better not. Why didyma see how we jest rioted against the Republicans' law to draft soldiers for this civil holocaust, poor Irish for the most part, and what about all the free niggers we killed and burned their houses to get them out of New York, so a white worker wouldn't be losing his job. It should teach them a bloody lesson not to cause a war and take our jobs away. I wish I was there instead of dead. I tell you, our city people become 100% American as soon as they step off the boat.
Houston: Is it all right if I change my mind about Irish Catholics?
Walsh: You'd better not. They say spirits can't fight, but I'd kick up a pretty good storm if I had to.
Houston: Speaking of spirits, I bumped into one just now while we were looking for our consignment to the pearly gates. He's a Celt, too, at least, part ways. I think I can whistle him up, he's around here somewhere, and he'll give us some real book-larning on democracy in America. I'll call him. Hey there, Al?
Alexis de Tocqueville enters, and pronounces his famous judgement on America -- the tyranny of the majority and the terrible impasse over slavery.
De Tocqueville: Bon jour! I am Alexis, Count de Toqueville. I have terrific fun on my journeys in America with my friend Beaumont. But I also zee certain things, what you say, not so good. I fear for this 'majority' that zee Americans so love to talk about. The majority is a great tyrant.
De Tocqueville: You want every man to be King, his own boss, you say. Anarchist, we say. How can you be individualist and majoritarian at the same time? How can you be absolument free and at the same time slave of public opinion? It ees crayzay. And so you are crayzey.
Houston: So there you are, a man after your own heart. But me, I'm the new type of Democrat -- the majority is always right if the people believe you when you say the majority is always right, and especially if nobody cain't tell any better than you can what the majority is really thinking if it is thinking at all.
De Tocqueville: Excuse me, Monsieur Houston. Come again?
(But, as Houston opens his mouth to say more)But never mind. Worse than the majority is slavery. Slavery is morally depraved. No enlightened person can support the permanent bondage of his fellow man.
Calhoun (upset by the turn of mind): Wrong. You speak bad history, bad theology, bad politics, bad for business.
De Tocqueville: Excuse me, please, gentlemen, I zeenk I am in zee wrong part of Purgatory. Exits.
Houston (carried away with himself):The Snake River up North will never stop us, we will go all the way with it. The Brazos River down South, stop there, never, Rio Grande never. But us Americans stop at no river, only an ocean, yeh, the Pacific Ocean, maybe -- I ain't promising.
We are all Celts here, and we started in the heart of Asia and we will keep going West till we're back in Asia, and God help the Chinee that get in our way.
Jackson: All Americans, yes sir. Look you, Walsh, at my big Irish Catholic vote in the cities of the East. These Papist Celtics will conquer the cities, in all their rottenness and stench, and plunder them, while the Protestant Celts will take over the vast lands of the South, Midwest, and West.
(There is an awkward pause brought about by the entrance of a group of Americans all wearing running shoes of the year 2000. They are led by a tourist girl guide carrying a sign saying "This way to Heaven," and speaking through a megaphone. They are extremely heterogeneous in faces, ages, sizes, shapes, colors, hair styling, and dress. Each has a sign around his neck: "average American", "typical American," "ordinary man" "common person," "everybody" etc., and to the maximum extent possible they carry different flags, banners, birds, tools. Note: Instead of this parade, it may be preferable to play a set of film flashes of such types on two large screens set to left and right of center stage; thus more kinds can be glimpsed. One could also make a score of cardboard cutouts, clip them on a clothesline, and have them carried through by two or three actors.)
The four men finally cover their faces with their hands. Then, one by one, they remove their hands (after the flashing stops) and exclaim defiantly.
Houston: Yer not a man lest yew own a slave....
Jackson: Yer not a man lest yew kill a man....
Calhoun: Yer not a man lest yer a Yale lawyer...
Walsh: Yer can't do anything without a bloody gang.
Ain't that the godawful truth??
(uneasily) Maybe it ain't?
Maybe we are really dead - meaning,
(Strongly uttered) Maybe our ideas are dead!
Quiet music back stage plays in strings :Nearer My God to Thee." St. Peter at the pearly gates of heaven, long-bearded, long-gown decorated with swirling fish and crabs, carrying a trout bag and fishing pole, is looking off stage to left, calls out,
"Saint Liberty, Saint Liberty! Take my place for a while. I'm going fishing."
Hearty whiskey contralto (unidentified voice) from wings: "Coming, Kiddo."
St. Peter: Why am I the only soul in Heaven who has to work!
how tiresome, appearing here each day at the appointed hour, Christ knows how many times.
And to be the auditor of unending jokes, especially from Celts: 'Did you ever hear the joke about the Mick trying to get through the pearly gates??' 'No, what's the joke?' 'He got through, ha, ha.'
It's the Irish in them, and I can only give them two demerits on the heavenly scale for bad and disrespectful jokes.
Why did I ever want to get rid of my family and follow Jesus, the flatterer, just because he liked to eat fish. It took me damned near sixteen hundred years just to get Friday off for fishing. And that's only because little Jesus likes his fish."
He starts to move off to right stage, from which voices are arguing directions as if in the dark.
Here now, damnation!
You're dead wrong.
Calhoun: Remember, Andrew Jackson, your name is Mr. Bones, and you, Sam Houston, you're Mr. Tam, and I'm not John Calhoun, I'm Mr.Toots. And you, Mike, whatever your name is, Mike Walsh, you're the Moderator. Being a New York Irishman, this should give you no trouble."
Jackson: Ouch, damn, move along!
St. Peter: "Oh, my god, here come three Celts in black face masks. No. Four! And what in God's name are they up to now? Who do they think they are fooling? They and their jokes and dramatics. If I hear another joke about some Irishman trying to get past the pearly gates, I'll give the joker another stretch in Purgatory.
I know they'll give me trouble - just on Friday when I go fishing. I'm getting out of here."
He reverses and heads offstage to left.
The music switches to a Stephen Foster minstrel melody. Amidst noise and hurly-burly, the Celtic Quartet enters from right, trundling a piece of scenery large enough to obscure the pearly gates and covered with signs. And in the same instant the background panorama of the pearly gates has changed to the background of a minstrel show. The signs read:
TONIGHT - COME ONE -- COME ALL!!
FAMOUS CELTS MINSTREL SHOW
REMEMBER THE ALAMO WIDOWS
SECEDE FROM THE UNION NOW!
VOTE FOR OL HICKERY!
HELP THE INDIANS FIND HAPPY HUNTING GROUNDS
KEEP NEGROES OUT OF NEGRO MINSTRELS
PRINT MORE PAPER MONEY
THE ONLY GOOD ENGLISHMAN IS A DEAD ONE
NEW YORK CITY NEEDS TOILETS
DRINK KIKAPOO JOY JUICE!
St. Peter turns around off in the wing and returns, sure enough, dressed as St. Liberty, with a changed voice and demeanor, very much like a tough western biddy, Mae West type, booted, cowboy hat, spangled short pants, and leather jacket. No nonsense.
The actors are unchanging but, when the lights change their appearance changes too, and their masks reverse, now blackface, then whiteface in back.
St. Liberty (shouting after him):Going fishing, indeed, when four great Americans - well, three and a half anyway --come before you - after denying the Lord three times before the cock crowed, and abandoning your wife and children to follow the Lord, just because Jesus likes to eat fish -- ass-kisser.
St. Liberty explains to the audience; she speaks like a prison warden, in a whiskey contralto: I am sitting in for St. Peter as a concession wrung from God, until such time as the Lord comes to admit that he is androgenous like most gods, and then, all our souls, too, will become bisexual.
This is nothing like your trivial issues down yonder on earth. This is a struggle to conquer eternity. It's not a strike. Don't get me wrong. It's a way to be sure that Jesus gets his fish on Friday.
Her attention is drawn to the four men.
St. Liberty: "Well, well, looky here, what do we have here but three gentlemen fresh from Purgatory, Andrew Jackson the hero of New Orleans, Sam Houston the Hero of the Texas Revolution and John Calhoun, the Hero of the Confederacy. What a coincidence that you all died in different years and yet emerged from Purgatory at the same time!
And here by jiminy is a fourth Purgatoryite - Michael Walsh of County Cork, who died in 1859 after training a generation of riotous political gangs on the streets of New York. This is too much - another Celt, and don't tell me ( for the four show agitated signs of recognition of each other) you knew each other before the worst happened!
Jackson: I don't know this man from Adam, excepting he must know me, because I got a whopping big vote out of New York City. They say I'm iggerent, don't know figgers. I do so - and now you listen: in the 1832 presidential election Andrew Jackson got 43% of the urban vote and of this 72% were Celts. The Hancock survey found a positive Pearson coefficient of correlation of .81 between being Celtic and voting for me...
Voice from audience answers the last figure with ".70"
Voice: ".71". At this last attempt at correction, Jackson furiously pulls out a pistol from his hip pocket and fires into audience. (Silence, gasps.) Let him lay. He's one of them clever Yankee abolitionists.
St. Liberty, continuing: I got it! (She is pleased with herself.) You met on the way up because you left Purgatory at the same time and you did so because you died in different years but you had different numbers of points, so they all came to add up to the same sums and you ended up in the same shipment. There isn't a chance in a million of this coincidence, not in two thousand years, not even in Hades and Shoul before then!!
It's the Good Lord, I must tell you, the Cosmic Crapshooter, having his fun, playing at dice.
Calhoun, speaking as a pompous lawyer: To return to your previous motion, Madam Saint, that God is an androgene. You cannot make God sexually ambiguous. We would have to alter thousands of paintings.... And change the laws of every jurisdiction on Earth. God is definitely male.
Houston (privately to Calhoun): Don't contradict her, you fool.
St. Liberty: Look, don't believe me. Let God speak for herimself. If you think you have an identity problem with your face color, imagine his multiple problems of identity - all things to all people, animals, all the creeping and flying things. HARK, HARK! God, who are you?
Voice booms out of speaker above stage rear: I am Venus, Athena, Hera, Kali, Og, Oc, Zeus, Lord, Jesus, Adonis, Jupiter, dionysus, Apollo, Shiva, Elohim, Mars, Huizapochli, Yin, Mazda, (And continues all in one breath or two about a hundred names, rapidly recited.) And it is true I am also called God which is Gott, Deus, Dio, Saturn, Uranus, I am telling you only names that you might have heard in respectable circles, not the blasphemous ones, and when you get to the next place where people think about such matters, you will get thousands more and then again thousands. At last count I had 35.7 million identities.
And one of the proofs that I am God is that I remember them all and can recite them quicker than you can say Jack Robinson. Last year I put them all on computer hard disk, a gadget that will be invented, and now whoever gets into heaven will be able to have his very own list of the names of God.
(A fanfare concludes the scene)
St. Liberty: So there you are. Let me remind you of your sins before you go any farther. You know it has become a premise of historiography that history should be quite objective, take no sides, call the shots as they are and all that nonsense.
But here at the Pearly Gates, believe you me, as you have already discovered, we make moral judgements all the time. Heaven is the Home of Moral History.
We know your records on Earth, of course. Need I remind you that you all have been spending time in Purgatory for at least half of the following offenses: financial peculation, bribery, racism, sexual abuse, greed, power- madness, apostasy, blasphemy, mayhem, lying to the electorate and your fellow politicians, alcoholism, murder, religious intolerance, and another hundred that I am too busy to detail.
Youhu know what I think?
The Foursome: nooooo?
St. Liberty: You-all know, we don't have even have a Hell any more? Shore thing. Those fool astronomers have been adding billions of years to time, so an eternity would be too long for the devil to keep stoking his fires. It's changed jest since you were alive and kicking. Part of the lowering of standards -- just like every jackass at Princeton University gets a B-grade average. But I do think you should get another stretch in Purgatory for conspiring to defraud, coming up here parading as blacks and looking for affirmative action in your favor.
Calhoun: Your honor, if I may interject a point of order here. How can Heaven, the epitome of Order in the Universe, punish the dead such as ourselves for conduct that was not criminal during our lives?
Slavery was protected in the laws of the land.
Deadly dueling was allowed under the laws of Kentucky, to take another instance.
Also, paying Indians a pittance for their land was common practice and certainly legal.
Taking the land of a friendly neighbor like Mexico was not uncommon and helping the U.S. or any other government to act that way was lawful behavior.
Putting our friends and supporters in any and all public offices was not a crime.
And the United States Constitution that sacred document that we all revere, when it is interpreted in our favor, forbids the government to pass any law ex post facto, that is, which punishes people for acts legally performed at an earlier time. Doesn't the just God observe such a law himself? So why are we committed to Purgatory for such crimes - admitting of course that we may have committed other acts that were in fact illegal or sinful in times past?
St. Liberty: God is interested in dispensing absolute justice, not the different justices of your thousand different countries and cultures on Earth. If your culture fell into error and everybody had a great time living it up in the false belief that what they were doing was jest fine because they were all a'doing it, that's jest too bad. You pay one and all, unless you gave some striking evidence as an individual that you disagreed with a bad law.
What you are asking for is vertical forgiveness, historical amorality. Baby, that's good, ain't it - Historical Amorality! Whereas and wherefore, I am sure you would not be forgiving all the horizontal evils taking place around the world today in the different countries, including your own, since you died.
Calhoun: Aw, shucks.
St. Liberty: Tut, tut. Anyhow, I think that you are not going to pass the test, but we have a new scholarship program for the likes of you - If you don't pass here, we send you back to Earth, the worst possible punishment, I know, since Hell froze over, but that's it. It's either that, or Purgatory indefinitely. And if you're good on Earth, you'll come back with flying colors, and then, and only then, in you go to sit at the right hand of You Know Who, the famed Chinese philosopher.
But what's this blackface shenanigan you're up to? Let's hear it.
Interlocutor Walsh takes over: Now remember, me boys, you must not talk like distinguished statesmen. If any one of you gets carried away so that you talk like a politician instead of Negro-fashion or hill-billy fashion or Old Country Irish, you get a deduct, (a loud raspberry sounds) and if you get ten raspberries, well, we'll just have to delete your name from American history books. You'll be like all other Americans then, nary a line in a book of history, even though it's your own history.
Tam and Bones sound off here, with calls of "yeah-man" and "hot-damn" and chuckles of "Yuk, yuk."
Calhoun: This nonsense is beyond toleration. (A loud raspberry sounds.)
Walsh: It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, ladies and gentlemen, the Grand Celtic Minstrel Show presented on behalf of the Widows of the Alamo. You can see the poor critters right here with your own eyes!
And here we have them, the war widows!
Tambourine, Bones, and Toots have gone out and now return dragging a circus cage in which are the widows (Indian, Mexican, black and white), clutching at the bars, scratching themselves, hollering - all to great applause. Crowd noises: use audience as the crowd addressed and have crowd noises then come from front or rear of auditorium, musical effects, #battle sounds offstage intermittently through the drama.
Houston (studying the widows in the cage): I don't reckon that all these widders are genuwine. As I recollect, most fellers had Mexican women. I wonder about these black wimmin, too. Course, one thing is true. When the Mexicans shot the last of the Texians, they freed three Negro slaves that were inside the Alamo. After all, that figures; the slaves din't ask to be there. What I mean is, even if they had any wimmin, they wuntabin qualified for our welfare program.
Walsh: I gathered these ladies together, and every one of them is a guaranteed authentic widow of an Alamo hero.
Houston: Be that as it may, I told them damn fools to blow up the Alamo and git out of town. But they weren't obeying any orders. Nobody ever did what he was told in that Texian Revolution. You never saw such a caterwauling n scurrying around n scrambling for places. All those gangs of so-called volunteer militias - most of them nuthin but freebooters. Now, the Mex, they were well organized. I could never figger out how they lost. I guess they never saw much in Texas to git excited about.
It weren't me - I can tell you this honestly, because I am trying to get into Heaven - I just got to a likely spot for fighting a battle a couple of hours before the Mexicans did, and then after they attacked us and we killed some, and we had nowhere to go with our backs to the Bayou, I got on my big horse and yelled "Charge." It took fifteen minutes and three horses and I dang near got killed, but anyhow, there's your Texian War.
St. Liberty (who has been staring thoughtfully into space, speaks now impatiently to them): Ah bin doin some rapid calculations. It looks bad on the face of it - excuse the expression. You-all ev committed jest about eviry known crime on the books - now here I have the ten commandments -- jes lookat em -- you all have done sinned on all of them 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 and 10 and then der is this Eyetalian fellow -- Dandee Algerry and he's the one who has got the complete list and how much time you've got to spend in hell?? And in Purgatory? Treason, murder, blasphemy, name in vain, false witness, and so on. Killing Indians, enslaving blacks, attacking Canadians, driving out Mexicans. Aggressing against Spain. Suppressing women, fooling the voters. We are up-to-date here in Heaven. And we have the point system. (Here a large sign is toted or trundled in by an angel. The lights flash on as the numbers are called out. )
You are still 210 points, 192 points, 116 and 215 points short of the pearly gates. Yes, boys. It may be back to Purgatory for you. She sneers and they groan. Then she puts on a big false smile and says: But it's still not over. There's a loophole you might benefit from. Ever since God demoted Moses in favor of Jesus, our standards of forgiveness have been lowering, and you might just squeeze through (here she calls out the new figures, which flash on the screen). You all get 140 points for undergoing the miserable life of politicians ---- the things they have to do, my, my (shaking her head sympathetically) and she reads them out loud:
PRETENDING PEOPLE ARE SMART WHEN THEY'RE STUPID
SUCKING AFTER VOTES
CRAWLING FOR A CONTRIBUTION
MAKING A DEAL A DAY
SPEAKING NONSENSE BUT TRYING TO MAKE IT SOUND GOOD
ACTING LIKE A GOOD SPORT WHEN YOU LOSE
FORGETTING YOUR WIFE EXCEPT AS A CAMPAIGN PROP
GIVE UP ON YOUR CHILDREN
TAKE CALLS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
WAVE THE FLAG TILL YOUR ARM FALLS OFF
EAT CHICKEN COQUETTES REGULARLY FOR THIRTY YEARS
LET YOURSELF BE CALLED BY EVERY BAD NAME
PRETEND YOU LIKE YOUR PARTY HACKS
MAKE A RECORD IN POLITICS THAT NOBODY CAN UNRAVEL
RUN, RUN, RUN FOR OFFICE
SPEND YOURSELF BROKE EVERY COUPLE OF YEARS
TRY TO LOOK LIKE A STATESMAN DESPITE YOUR TRUE
BE HUMBLE WHILE BEING AGGRESSIVE
KISS UGLY BABIES
So there you have it, a good 140 points, every one of them earned by a suffering that is all the more pernicious since you become addicted to playing politics and can't stop.
You still need more points, so, in the second place, we have to allow you 30 points for being Celtic. These are really handicap points, since you can't help being troublemakers, jest nachurally gittin'n trouble -- for which the only fair thing is affirmative action, like we're doin hyer.
There's more than that, and I must confess that I disagree with God here. But, believe it or not, the Lord permits a little discretion now and then. You get 30 points for pretending to be blacks, because it shows that you are proud to wear a black face, especially when it pays to eat Jim Crow.
As for the widows, all of them are going straight back to Purgatory where they came from and they can thank God that Hell has been abolished. So take them back right now!
Walsh: But madam St. Liberty, we collected and drug in these widders to show our goodness of heart. Don't we get some credit for that, even if we happen to be mistaken?
St. Liberty: (Fixing him with an evil eye.) The path to Purgatory is paved with good intentions.
(The four push the cage offstage to the tune of a lot of squealing and curses.)
Walsh: (blurts defensively over his shoulder) Well, if it ain't true, it could uv been.
They return promptly, as the scoreboard, still lighted up in red, rings a bell and clacks its changes.
St. Liberty: Now, here you are, you see by our calculations that you still don't make it.
All four: PLEASe, please, puleeze, mam, saint, lady !!
Lady Liberty: Shut up, you gut-buckets.
Walsh: Mercy, beautiful lady.
St. Liberty: Flattery will get you nowhere. You see how you are slipping back into falsehood and cunning. There is no escape from Purgatory unless you become utterly frank.
Now tell me honestly what did you think I was when you first caught sight of me here?
Celtic Quartet: A Memphis whore!
Walsh: But most fetching!
St. Liberty: There you have it, the soul of honesty. You jerks.
However, I'm not finished with you, you'll be happy to learn. (Speaking in a portentous tone)You are subject to a tremendous exception, a gift of infinite value.
(A trumpet blasts "tah tatatahh.")
She swells with importance and announces eloquently:
God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, has granted to everyone in that blessed democracy of yours 75 points toward reaching Heaven for being an American! Just for being American! (The scoreboard turns red, white and blue, and flashes on and off. Drums start rolling, tatadumdum, tatadumdum, tacatacataca tum.)
Saint Liberty: Det gits you all over the top! So go on in, boys, and make yourselves to home in Heaven!
The Foursome: Hallelujah!
And the curtain closes on the brass blaring "Stars and Stripes Forever."
But then the music descends into disharmony, cacophony, and stops. And the Curtain rises again, in a jerky way. The four men return downcast and dejected.
St. Liberty (addressing the audience): Fooled you!
God is a Globalist, an international banker, a world government freak, a cosmic unifier. He loves all people equally - minimally perhaps, but equally. Did you think he would let those four creeps into heaven?
Not likely... They've waited a hundred and fifty years already, plus or minus a few, and they might wait for all eternity.
So here we go again. Last chance. They are going to have to do something strikingly good for their country, all four of them, before they can knock hopefully on the pearly gates.
They're going to have to agree on who should be declared the 43rd President of the United States in consequence of the voting conducted in November of this year 2000 in the State of Florida: George Bush or Al Gore!
While St. Liberty is announcing this divine practical joke, the scene shifts to a Cuban Café in Florida. (Poster in Spanish pictures a cigar and a cup of coffee.) There we find the four Celts arguing Bush vs. Gore. The struggle to get votes counted and discounted is going on, some shuffling, exclamations and noise backstage.
Walsh: You heard what St. Liberty said, you yokels. It's the Cities vs. the Country, Urbanites vs. Bucolites. The Urban vs. the Rural. Bush's got 85% of the boondock survivors and swampland, whereas Gore has got most of the People. So let's have three cheers for Gore and go on to our Reward.
Jackson: I will give my vote only in secret. Else you will oppose me, John Calhoun. (He puts a mark on the ground underneath his shoe.)
Calhoun: Bush is a loyal son of the New South, a leopard who has truly changed his spots. So let's be for Bush! Consensus means to vote my way.
Houston: And I'll vote with General Jackson. (He puts a mark beneath his shoe.)
Walsh: That leaves me to count the votes: (He peeks beneath the two shoes.) I dasn't say what happened here. But the vote is two-to-two. Nobody wins.
St. Liberty appears: "All right, boys, what's the verdict?"
Walsh: "Two to two, St. Liberty."
They start up in a brawl, weakly pushing and shoving, declaiming and denouncing legal farce and voting fraud, even though they are the forefathers of fraud and legal farce, and they are glaring at each other in the realization that they have mutually brought on their exclusion from heaven.
St. Liberty: Stop this fracas, right now!
Walsh: We will never stop fighting. We can't help it, we are Celts.
St. Liberty: (Losing all patience) O.K. That's it. You babies will have to sit down right here re-counting all the hundred million votes of all the Yeunited States of America, beginning with Florida, and jest to make you appreciate what you stood for in politics, all the ballots will come dipped in bullshit.
And when you're finished, I'll be up there ready to do my own recount, which will be final, excepting of course efen God wants to do his own recount. That would take some time. God's not as young as he used to be.
Two bushels of brown-stained papers mixed with clods of brown clay (if bullshit is unavailable) are brought in and dumped at their feet. They look down, shamefaced and disconsolate.
Then they look up and sing a beautiful song of longing (hear melody on disk). With the beginning of each line, they pick up a ballot paper and with each last syllable of each phrase, place it in a pile: