May 262011
 

It’s a pleasure to introduce the first play ever published on Numéro Cinq, God’s Flea by Diane Lefer (wise friend, former colleague at Vermont College of Fine Arts—in the mid-1990s, when I had a radio show, I interviewed her, still have that tape). God’s Flea is an uproarious piece of political folk theater. Set on the Arizona-Mexico border, it borrows from the tradition of carpa, a Mexican popular theatrical form something like vaudeville, full of stock characters, slapstick, broad comedy and topical comment. But it also draws plot inspiration from a 19th century Colombian short story which, in turn, draws its inspiration from folktale and legend. This is the kind of theater you don’t see on Broadway, but it makes you think about what theater is and should be. It speaks to the people, the impoverished (lots of those around these days) and oppressed; it speaks of miracles and saintliness; it tells a joke, reveals horrors, pronounces a moral lesson. Jesus and Death and Sheriff Arpaio are characters; the good man at the center of the story is a gambling addict. The staging is quick and breathless, using lighting to switch scenes; actors change costumes onstage, on-the-fly. It’s a treat. (And don’t miss Diane’s earlier contributions to the magazine: her story “The Tangerine Quandary” and her “What it’s like living here [Los Angeles]” essay.)

—dg

Tomás Carrasquilla Naranjo was a 19th-century Colombian author and his story “En la diestra de Dios Padre” (In the right hand of God the Father) became a classic. It’s about a humble and saintly man whose generosity to Jesus and St. Peter (in disguise, of course) earns him five wishes. I love it that the story is written in rural vernacular. I don’t relate to its piety. So when Fernando Castro asked me to create a contemporary adaptation in English, I was relieved when he agreed with my plan to transfer the action to the US-Mexico border, make the greedy sister the main character, and create a version atheists could accept while retaining the underlying values of Catholic social justice teachings. Instead of Sunday School lesson, my genre model was carpa, or Mexican vaudeville, a style known for using comedy, stock characters, and physical humor to address sociopolitical issues. In this case, immigrant rights—a movement I’ve been involved in for years.

—Diane Lefer

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God’s Flea

a play by Diane Lefer

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inspired by the classic Colombian short story,
“En la diestra de Dios Padre” by Tomás Carrasquilla Naranjo

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DOÑA GOLOSITA, greedy middleaged woman, played by a cross-dressed male, and not an attractive sight in spite of her oversize chichis

PERALTA, her brother, humble and pious, played by a cross-dressed woman

Two INTERROGATORS in ski masks

Note: INTERROGATOR, played by female, also plays SHERIFF ARPAIO, JESUS, DEATH; the other, male, also plays ST. PETER, MARUCHENGA (the maid), DIEGO (the gardener), CABBIE, CONGRESSWOMAN

Time and Place: Today. The Arizona-Mexico border.

Set: A swivel chair (the torture chair). A trunk. A kitchen counter or shelf upstage.

Notes:

The Interrogators switch between roles in full view of the audience, so each character is represented by a single costume change, e.g., horns for the sheriff, flowing wig for Jesus, Mask for Death, Keys for St. Peter, wig of black braids for Maruchenga, straw sombrero for Diego, chauffeur’s cap for Cabbie. When Jesus speaks, his words are preceded by the sound of an angelic bell.

Throughout the play, interrogators will use “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Golosita, with action suggested in the script.

When Golosita is being interrogated, the stage is lit to only show her on the swivel chair or on the trunk. The light changes to show more of the stage when her words carry us into scene.

The actors never leave the stage, so the directions ENTER and EXIT refer to their visibility per the lighting.

“God’s Flea” was commissioned by Fernando Castro of Grupo Ta’Yer and developed in workshop at the Frida Kahlo Theater, Los Angeles, directed by Rubén Amavizca-Murúa and with the participation of Emanuel Loarca, Arely Araniva-Cross, and Edwin Rivera.

A much condensed version was produced by New Carpa Theatre at the Border Justice Conference, Arizona State University, and on the lawn in front of the Arizona State Capitol building.

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At rise: GOLOSITA is hooded, pushed to interrogation chair by the Interrogators. They tie her hands, then stand behind her, back to audience. When she cries Please! she is hit. She cries in pain. Another hit. Then:

GOLOSITA:

Why am I here? [She is hit.] My brother? I don’t know. I don’t know where he is. [Hit.] He’s in Heaven. [Hit] What? You don’t believe in Heaven? Soy creyente. I do!

Sheriff! Sheriff, is that you? You know me. Tell them! Bringing me here like this! You’re supposed to do this to other people, not to me! I warned you about the terrorists! And the cheese! I don’t know where my brother is. Sheriff, tell them that I told you all about the cheese! So, maybe I tried to protect him that other time. He’s my brother.

LIGHTS CHANGE. GOLOSITA rises from chair and enters the scene.

Peralta! Your coffee is getting cold!

PERALTA (still in shadow, voice only):

Sister, I’m washing their poor blistered feet.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

May God protect us! Don’t you listen to Lou Dobbs? Blisters? It’s leprosy!Charity begins at home, brother. And this is our home, not a shelter for every José and María that comes across the border.

[ENTER ARPAIO. GOLOSITA will be seductive to ARPAIO, to protect PERALTA]

Sheriff! [shrieking] Peralta! [to Arpaio] You know how I hate to raise my voice, but pobrecito, he’s a little hard of hearing. . .[shrieking] Sheriff Arpaio is here! [to Arpaio] How nice of you to visit. And how are you this morning?

ARPAIO:

Not very happy. Not very happy at all.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

We all have our burdens, no?

ARPAIO:

It pains me to tell you I’ve had a report. That your brother has been leaving water in the desert.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

No, if you’ve seen my brother with those big garrafones of water, it’s only for those quince trees out in the back of the yard.

ARPAIO:

I said, in the desert. That’s aiding and abetting, Golosita. Assisting in the smuggling of humans.

GOLOSITA reacts, then goes to chair and speaks the next lines as if under interrogration.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

That’s a felony! My brother is a very foolish man, but not a criminal. You know what Father Antonio—a very holy man, but so naive! You know what he says? He says everyone in the county knows my brother for his charities. Ha! They know they can take advantage of him.

ARPAIO:

Where is he?

Golosita rises and hurries upstage to warn Peralta.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Peralta! The sheriff wants to see you!

ARPAIO:

How about you invite me in for a cup of java-java?

DOÑA GOLOSITA [flirtatious, but blocking his way]:

Do you have a warrant?

ARPAIO:

Pour me a cup and I’ll go back and look for your brother—and see who else is with him.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Ay, Sheriff. Con mucho gusto I’ll pour you some coffee. But why not sit down instead and I’ll make you a nice champurrado. [shouting] Peralta! Sheriff Arpaio is here to see you! [to Sheriff] He doesn’t even have his teeth in yet. You don’t want to see how he looks without them! Sit down, sit down! Tell me, what do you think of these terrible Latin American countries? Electing socialists! [she turns to kitchen counter begins to prepare the champurrado]And legalizing the marriage of homosexuals!

ARPAIO:

Golosita, I know you wouldn’t lie to me but—

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Ay, Sheriff. I believe in the sanctity of marriage, don’t you?

ARPAIO:

Are you trying to distract me?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

And the Constitution. We have to be sure it protects our rights and doesn’t give any to anyone else!

ARPAIO:

Like the people I hear moving around back there?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

You hear people? Oh, of course you do, of course you do! [in chair] My brother feeds the hungry, he clothes the. . . the. . . naked! in our house! While he, he goes around in rags. And I need a new dress while he spends all our money on these. . .[she makes up her mind] unemployedUS citizens. Who’ve had their benefits cut. And need medical care. And. . . [rises from chair, to ARPAIO, seductive again] Here’s your champurrado. Good, no? When do you run for reelection by the way? You can count on my vote!

ARPAIO:

You’re a good woman, Golosita. So I’ll leave you today with only a warning. One day, I’m going to catch your brother in the act and then not all the champurrado between Brownsville to the east and San Diego to the west can save him.

ARPAIO exits.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Ja ja ja. Stop by any time. Que le vaya bien. . . as the saying goes.

PERALTA enters.

Peralta, that’s the last time I cover up for you!

PERALTA:

Thank you, dearest sister.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

This is my home too! I don’t want those illegal aliens here.

PERALTA:

Dear Golosita, do you love God?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Of course I do! 

PERALTA:

Then tell me, have you ever seen Him?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Of course not! What do I look like? Some ignorant Mexican who sees the Virgin Mary in her tortillas!

PERALTA:

How can you love what you’ve never seen and not love the unfortunates we see every day?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

That we smell each day. If God has dirty feet, at least he keeps them to himself! 

PERALTA disappears into shadows. GOLOSITA doubles over as if punched and cries out in pain. She falls back into the interrogation chair. The Interrogators stand behind her.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult God’s feet! Ask Father Antonio! I’m a good Christian. Better than Peralta. People in town talk about his sanctity. Me, I worry about his sanity.

The Interrogators drag GOLOSITA to the trunk and force her to lie on her back. They simulate waterboarding by pretending, at intervals, to pour over her face from a pitcher.

Yes, yes, the two men. . . . These two beggars show up. The older guy—bald, his cheeks all sunken in like he’s starving. Man, he would eat us out of house and home—if he’s got any teeth left and if there were anything left here to eat. And the young one. Long hair—Mexico’s so backwards, they still have hippies. They come in and sit on a bench because we have no more beds not so much as another petate on the floor. And they start right away whispering to each other. It’s not English and it’s not Spanish! It sounds. . . Middle Eastern!

This interests the interrogators. They kneel beside her.

That’s why I called you, Sheriff. They had to be the terrorists we’ve been hearing about. The ones who cross the border pretending to be Mexican! But my brother–

ENTER PERALTA, speaking to O/S migrants. 

PERALTA:

With all my heart I bid you welcome. Shelter here if you will but I regret you’ll pass an uncomfortable night. Not a grain of salt do we have and not a square of chocolate to make you a drink. But if my goodwill counts for anything, it is yours.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Peralta! There’s something very—

PERALTA:

—holy about these two men. Can’t you smell it—a perfume like incense that surrounds them.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Unwashed bodies with an undertone of. . . gunpowder!

PERALTA:

Dear sister, offer these tired, hungry travelers something to eat.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

How? There’s not even a stale piece of bread in the larder. 

PERALTA:

Check the henhouse. Maybe you overlooked an egg.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

I? Overlook food? Hmmph!

Golosita goes to the chair. The Interrogators mimick tying her wrists and hoisting her so she is on tiptoes, in pain, talking fast.

Sheriff? That’s when I called you. Yeah, I know I woke you up, but bacon! sausage! strip steaks! a dozen little cheeses and butter. Sacks of beans! potatoes! stacks and stacks of tortillas hechas a mano. Must’ve been sent by one of those Islamic terrorist charities! And the two men—in my home—illegal, armed and dangerous! The old one with his head shaved bald like an O.G. but he deferred to the young one like he was the shotcaller. I swear I saw them. And the cheese. But by the time you showed up, they were gone! But—

ENTER PERALTA, with backpack

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

They left something behind!

GOLOSITA enters scene with PERALTA.

Ay, Dios mío! Put that down! But gently! Don’t drop it! Call 911! Call the bomb squad! What are you doing, brother? Don’t open it!

PERALTA pulls out handfuls of money. They struggle over money and pack.

Ah! Youcan use it tofeed the poor.

And your poor sister.

PERALTA:

We have to find them and return it! Who knows how long and hard they had to work to earn so much.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

No one earns this much money through hard work. . . . Which means. . . . Drug money! If we don’t return it. . . ay ay ay. . . we’re gonna die!

PERALTA:

Friends! Brothers! Wait for me!

PERALTA moves back into shadow.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

And me! How am I supposed to run with these old chanclas on my feet?!?!

LIGHT CHANGE. She is in torture chair being hit.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

How long have I been here? Why don’t you let me sleep? What do you want from me? Let me go! Yes, I’ll tell you. I flew through the air. I landed at the top of Piestewa (pee-ES-ta-wah) Peak! Right next to my brother and the two men. The old one and the young one. (beat)You don’t believe me.

LIGHT on PERALTA with backpack, the men.

PERALTA:

Your backpack! Count the money. You’ll see not a dollar is missing!

JESUS:

Brother Peralta, let me introduce myself properly at last. I am Jesus Christ, your Savior.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Crazy, no? But what if. . . ?

JESUS:

. . . and this is Peter, my disciple, the one who holds the keys to Heaven. We came to earth to test you. And Brother, you passed with flying colors. For your reward, we invite you to keep the money to spend as you like.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Uh oh. Sheriff, doesn’t this sounds like one of those internet scams?

JESUS:

And ask me freely and I will grant you five wishes.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Well, why not? I figured as long as they don’t ask for a Social Security number. Or a PIN number or. . . . Ay, but Peralta stood there like an idiot. Sheriff, what I did? You would have done the same!

She enters the scene.

Jesus, sir, I’m his sister. I’ll ask.

ST. PETER:

Take your time. This is a great opportunity. Don’t waste it.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Peralta—ask for more money. Even this will soon be gone.

ST. PETER:

Choose carefully. The Master’s word never fails. Don’t ask for something you’ll later regret.

PERALTA thinks and everyone waits.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Make up your mind already.

PERALTA seems about to speak, but doesn’t. Everyone waits.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Ask Jesus to find me a husband!

PERALTA seems about to speak, but doesn’t. Everyone waits.

Ay, Jesus, sir. You must have the patience of a saint!

Peralta opens his mouth. They wait.

Yes? Yes?

Finally, Peralta speaks.

PERALTA:

Can you grant me this, Lord, that I never again lose at cards?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Not a bad wish considering your gambling problem. Otherwise the money they just gave us would be pffft!

JESUS:

Granted.

GOLOSITA hugs PERALTA.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

With the money rolling in, who needs a husband?!

ST. PETER:

Second wish.

PERALTA counts on his fingers.

PERALTA:

When Death comes for me, don’t let him sneak up on me. I want to meet him face to face.

JESUS:

Granted.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Two down, three to go. I wouldn’t mind eternal youth.

St. Peter tugs on Peralta’s sleeve. He clears his throat. He points up.

Oh, yeah! Heaven! Peralta, you and me! Reserve our spots in Heaven!

PERALTA:

Number 3. I want the power to make anyone or anything get stuck wherever I choose for as long as I want.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Idiota!

JESUS:

A very strange request!

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

It doesn’t count! Do over!

JESUS:

I live up to my commitments. Granted!

ST. PETER:

Heaven! [pointing upwards]

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Money!

ST. PETER:

Heaven!

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Money!

ST. PETER:

Heaven!

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Money!

ST. PETER:

Heaven! Ask for Heaven!

 PERALTA counts on his fingers again.

PERALTA:

Fourth thing. Don’t let the devil ever trick me.

JESUS:

A wish I’ll grant with pleasure.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

You only have one left!

ST. PETER:

Heaven! You want to go to Heaven!

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

With me!

JESUS:

And your final wish?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Make it a good one!

PERALTA:

Any time I want, let me shrink myself tiny tiny tiny as a flea.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Ay, por Dios, Dios! Don’t listen to him. Let me make the wish! 

JESUS:

Most people pray for me to make them bigger and greater. In your humility, you ask the opposite. You are as pious as I guessed. Granted.

LIGHTS OUT on JESUS, ST. PETER, PERALTA.

DOÑA GOLOSITA [in torture chair]:

They disappeared in a puff of smoke just like a Vegas act. You don’t believe that five wishes nonsense, do you? I swear. I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me.

Interrogators drag GOLOSITA to the trunk and make her kneel. One is behind her, leaning over, pinning down her hands. The other kneels to the side, occasionally pulling out one of her fingernails—that action indicated by asterisks.

I mean really! Why would Peralta ask to be a flea? If he wanted to be small, why not a little mouse? I heard on FOX TV that scientists have already created mice with fully functioning human brains—which in Peralta’s case would be a significant improvement. So I don’t know where the money came from. *Only that he spent most of it paying ransom for those pinche illegals being held hostage and tortured by coyotes. None of it made any sense. I even asked Father Antonio. Why would God favor my brother? I’m the one who goes to mass every day. I’m the one who prays. I’m the one who lights candles.* I’m— He tells me,”God works in mysterious ways, my child. Perhaps he’s using Peralta as an instrument to shed blessings on you.” Well, why shouldn’t God use Peralta? Everyone else does! * OK, OK! I’ll say whatever you want me to say. Just tell me! Whenever he was home, there were all these people waiting to see him. Here’s the truth! This couple—they had papers—or so they said—but the government kept losing the application for their little boy. Or so they claimed. Now he’s 18 so he’s not a minor anymore and the US is sending him to Guatemala. There was the soldier who got back from Iraq to find out his mother was deported.* The journalist who wrote about corruption in the Mexican federal police. He claimed they tried to ambush and kill him and now he expected the US to give him asylum! Well, he was not going to get it! My tax money helps train the Mexican police! [She pauses, thinks] I keep forgetting. We’re millionaires now. We don’t pay taxes! * And I already told you. My brother is in Heaven. You can’t find his body? That’s not my problem. I blame the illegals. Get out of here, I told them, all of you. My brother can’t carry all your pain! You’re killing him with el estrés!

PERALTA Enters stage left, clutching at his heart. Enter DEATH, stage right.

PERALTA:

So. Here we are Death, face to face.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

I didn’t see a thing. But Peralta thought he was talking to the Grim Reaper!

PERALTA:

I’m not ready. Here on earth, there is still so much need.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

So my brother asked Death for just a moment or two to say his prayers. And—

PERALTA:

While you’re waiting, let me be a good host. The best view of the valley is there—if you just jump to the top of that cactus? [DEATH gets on top of trunk.] Perfect— Now, stay there till I feel like releasing you!

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Wish Number 3! Thank you, Jesus! [Torturers put bucket on her head and hit it—DO NOT actually hit the metal bucket while it’s over actor’s head!!! Can cause real injury!!!] Claro que I didn’t want my brother to die, but I don’t have to tell you, Sheriff, what happened. With Death stuck on the cactus, migrants weren’t dying in the desert anymore. They kept coming and coming with their hard luck stories about NAFTA and CAFTA and drug cartels and the Army and the police and—I admit it, I did my part to help them. I hired them!

GOLOSITA gets out of chair and sits on trunk, primping.

Maruchenga! My mirror! My jewels! Maruchenga! Córrele!

Maruchenga runs around, back and forth, to comply.

My perfume! My brother and I are invited to dinner with the Governor! La Jan Brewer. . . People say she’s a racist, but she invited me so. . . Diego! The hedges are overgrown.

Maruchenga transforms to Diego and pantomimes pruning.

Lucky for me Peralta is off gambling at Trump Casino. It wouldn’t do for the Governor to see him all raggedy, the way he always looks. Diego! Bring in some roses!Peralta had to go all the way to Atlantic City this time. He bankrupted a couple of casinos in Vegas and now he can’t get past the city limits.

DIEGO approaches GOLOSITA.

Ah, Diego. . . .

DIEGO:

Señora, I’ve got a letter from my wife and the baby is sick. Can’t you give me just a little money to send home for the medicine?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Give you money? Can I get you deported instead?! Just kidding! Come here.

She drops a coin in his hand and he exits.

Maruchenga! My purse!

Maruchenga runs over.

And what have you got in your pockets?

Golosita searches Maruchenga.

A dollar! Thief!

MARUCHENGA:

Señora, your brother paid me.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Pendeja! He couldn’t possibly do that. You don’t have papers! Pay you and we’d be breaking the law! I can’t discuss this while the governor is waiting! Maruchenga! Call me a cab.

MARUCHENGA exits, running, and reenters as CABBIE pantomiming the drive. He opens door to seat Golosita.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Governor’s mansion and make it quick.

CABBIE [thick accent]:

You can tell the Guv I’m sick of being pulled over and stopped. Not only that, the cops pull passengers right out of my backseat.

CABBIE lands against GOLOSITA as vehicle swerves.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Driver! Driver! Get off me!

CABBIE:

Lady, don’t tell me how to do my job.
Both are thrown forward as he brakes.

LIGHT CHANGE.

The CABBIE exits to reenter as an INTERROGATOR.

GOLOSITA stays seated on the trunk. Then the Interrogators make her lie on her back as if on the rack. An asterisk indicates one is pulling at her legs, one at her arms as they stretch and torture her.  ** indicates she sits up and speaks comfortably.  

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

I arrived in one piece, praise the Lord, and oh, that mansion! **Wow! See, in the United States of America, if you play by the rules, even a Spanish-surnamed individual such as myself can reach the heights! *I walked in the door. Chandeliers throwing their light. Tall blond people everywhere. A beautiful woman. . . handed me her coat? And then the man with her gave me his? “Wait!” I said. **”I am Golosita Peralta, beloved of God! I’m a guest here just like you!” *The man handed me money. A tip? **OK OK Where do I put these? More coats. Another and another and another. *Well, Peralta always gave all his winnings to the poor but that night at the Governor’s house I really cleaned up! Of course Maruchenga and Diego—they could smell it. Both of them waiting for me, their hands out. Rush Limbaugh says if you voted for Obama you deserve to be in misery because that’s what he has in mind for every last one of us. You see how confused I was. I forgot they don’t get to vote. And I called you, Sheriff. Remember? We’re on the same side. “Sheriff!” I said. “There’s illegals here! Por Dios, they don’t even speak English! Deport her before she pops out that anchor baby!” **My brother showed up first. And you already know what happened. Though maybe you didn’t hear what he called you.

LIGHT CHANGE. EXIT INTERROGATORS.

ENTER PERALTA.

PERALTA:

I’ve been to hell. That devil of a sheriff is rounding people up. Putting them behind barbed wire, in pods. Pod—is not even a human word. Hundreds of them, thousands. Hollow-eyed, hungry. Babies crying. Children screaming. Sick people, old people, waiting to be judged. I saw one hundred families who share a toilet. I saw one hundred dying women shackled to beds and no one brings their medicine while outside the walls their children cry. I saw thousands of people shipped away in the middle of the night to places where their families can’t find them. And inside those walls? People cry I’ll die if you send me back. While others beg Send me back. I’ll die if I stay locked up here.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

That’s what they get for breaking the law!

PERALTA:

For working hard, paying taxes, loving their children. . .

SHERIFF ARPAIO enters.

ARPAIO:

Got you this time, Peralta. The Predator drones filmed you leaving water in the desert. I’ve got all the evidence I need to put you away for many many years.

PERALTA:

Sheriff Arpaio, I know you’re just doing your job. Fulfilling your duty.

ARPAIO:

As the Devil, I’m on intimate terms with God and let me tell you, if God didn’t intend for Mexicans to starve, He wouldn’t have allowed NAFTA to pass and he wouldn’t have put them in Mexico! He wouldn’t have let us foment wars in Central America if he wanted those countries to see any progress!

PERALTA:

Why do we have so much and they have so little?

ARPAIO:

Luck of the draw. Roll of the dice.

PERALTA:

Ah! Sheriff, you’re like me—a gambler! You like the cards as much as I do. Let’s play for my freedom.

Golosita brings chairs to trunk in preparation for poker game.

ARPAIO:

You think you can’t lose. You made a deal with Jesus, everyone knows that, so that no man can beat you. But I’m not a man. I’m the Devil. I’ll take that bet!

PERALTA:

If you win, do what you will with me. But if I win. . . all those hardworking migrants. . .

ARPAIO:

Illegals!

PERALTA:

Who contribute so much. . .

ARPAIO:

Who’ve started joining unions! Now we can’t even use them to bring down wages!

PERALTA:

I’ll play you for their souls. De acuerdo?

ARPAIO:

Agreed. Five card stud. Ante up. You’re in for a hundred or you’re out. . .

They lay down money; ARPAIO shuffles cards—does card tricks, then deals cards.

PERALTA:

Arpaio, you and your kind, you believe everything in the universe is already yours.

They examine their hands.

ARPAIO:

And no one’s gonna take it away from me!

PERALTA:

We’ll see. We’ll see.

ARPAIO scratches his ass to cover his cheating as he then pulls a card from the back of his pants and tries to insert it in his hand of cards.

PERALTA:

Hey! What’s that?

Peralta takes away the card.

ARPAIO:

After we get rid of the illegal aliens, we get rid of the unions!

PERALTA:

Satan Deceiver. you can’t trick me.

ARPAIO starts to pull a card out of his hat.

Not even with that Ace of Clubs tucked in your hat. Show your hand!

ARPAIO tries to hide his cards but PERALTA turns them over.

Ah, two pair. I’ve got. . .

ARPAIO:

A house full of illegals!

PERALTA:

Claro que sí! A full house! I win! Everyone caught in your net goes free!

ARPAIO throws a tantrum. They struggle. ARPAIO exits but PERALTA is exhausted now, near collapse.

They’re released, but still not free. Still living in the shadows.

PERALTA moves to area of stage where he met JESUS. He looks up toward Heaven. GOLOSITA moves the card table chairs away and sits in the torture chair.

And I know my own days are numbered. Who will protect them when I’m gone?

GOLOSITA in the chair is being jolted by electric shocks by Interrogator 1

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Yes, yes, I’ll tell you where he went. Where do you think? To Washington, DC to buy a Senator, or at least a Congressman just like the banks and corporations do.

LIGHT CHANGE. Upstage:

PERALTA approaches CONGRESSMAN and hands him papers representing petition and proposed bill

PERALTA:

Immigration reform! A path to legalization!

The CONGRESSMAN looks at pages and shakes his head. PERALTA hands him money. He smiles.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Just another word for amnesty! Secure our borders first! But I went with him to Washington, D.C.—to see democracy in action.

Congressman drops his pants and sit on buckets. Grunts with relief as GOLOSITA groans in pain.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

You thought Death had it bad, stuck on that cactus? We sat for months. We sat for years. They wrote bills and printed them up and more paper than you’ve ever seen in your life. And then? Why should I tell you? You’re not going to believe me.

CONGRESSMAN uses the bill as toilet paper, balls it up and throws it away.

LIGHTS down on that playing area.

More electric shocks for Golosita.

Why are you doing this to me? What difference does it make if you don’t want to hear the truth?

ENTER PERALTA.

PERALTA:

God, you’re the Father of us all. Why don’t you listen to your children? Why do you let them suffer?

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Ridiculous, no? He thought God could hear him.

PERALTA:

I still have the fifth wish your Son granted me! My words will cross the border between earth and heaven!

Peralta clutches at heart, dies. Light out on him.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

I swear by all that’s holy I saw him get smaller and smaller and smaller till he was no bigger than a flea. He leaped up up up— And I swear by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it’s like my eyes suddenly had a zoom lens. I saw my brother leap into the right hand of God.

PERALTA’s VOICE:

My Lord—

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Actually talking to God!

PERALTA’s VOICE:

—if you are the Father, then all human beings are my brothers and sisters.

DOÑA GOLOSITA [with building rage]:

Sheriff, he’s there right now, being subversive! Hey, wait a minute! I’m his only sister. Dios Padre, whatever blessings you’re handing out should go to me!

PERALTA’s VOICE;

If you are God the Father, we are all your children.

DOÑA GOLOSITA;

Oh! That pesky flea.

She stomps around as if trying to stamp on and crush fleas; she is out of control.

Sheriff, I’m on your side. I’ve always been on your side. Peralta may be my brother but it’s time to end this socialistic prattle once and for all!Aleluya! Dios Padre! Lead us in prayer. Put your hands together to show us how!

PERALTA’s VOICE:

All equal. Equally loved by you.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Ay, Dios. Clap your hands if you are the one and only God! Sheriff, come and do it with me!

PERALTA’s VOICE:

You tell us to feed the hungry and comfort the prisoner.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Clap your hands, Lord, if you are the one and only truth.

PERALTA’s VOICE:

Afflict the comfortable. Comfort the afflicted.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Don’t listen to him, mi Señor.

PERALTA:

From your throne on high, the earth is one, without borders. No fences, no walls.

GOLOSITA climbs up on trunk and brandishes the assault weapon she picked up from behind or inside the trunk.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

Clap your hands if all are damned who don’t worship You the exact same way that I do.

PERALTA’s VOICE:

Remember you endowed us all with certain inalienable rights.

DOÑA GOLOSITA:

But none for aliens! [she fires in the air] Squash him, Lord. [firing, RAMBO style] I’m waiting. Your servant stands here waiting.[Firing. Then she shields her eyes] The lights up there are so bright, like a thousand chandeliers. Lord? I can’t see.

GOLOSITA lowers the weapon, steps down from the trunk.

What’s going on up there? Lord?

Golosita waits. There is no answer. She looks slowly around. She is left in utter desolation. She waits. She looks. She raises the gun to underneath her chin in a single fluid motion and fires.

 

BLACKOUT.  

END OF PLAY.

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The God’s Flea workshop team

The image above is a detail from Goya’s etching Hasta la meurte, from Los Caprichos.

  4 Responses to “God’s Flea: A Play — Diane Lefer”

  1. Don’t stop torturing and shining spotlights on us, Diane!

  2. Diane, this is wonderful. As Doug says in his introduction, it is theatre as it should be. Full and rich and meaningful.

  3. Gracias a todos. I´m in Barrancabermeja, Colombia now, didn´t have access to internet for a while so I´m just seeing this and feeling very appreciative to Doug and Gary for giving the piece some exposure and for those of you who´ve taken the time to read it.

  4. Hey, I might as well add today´s propaganda. If you realize how harmful NAFTA was to Mexico (and consequently to the US), you´ll understand how bad the proposed Free Trade Agreement with Colombia will be. Obama opposed it during the campaign. Now he´s for it. Congress considers it in JUNE. Let your reps know it´s not OK. My piece about the FTA — and frankly it´s an overoptimistic assessment — is up now at newclearvision.com if you want more background before you make that call. People are still being massacred here but the sign of hope I´m seeing during this trip is that the worst of the repression — which went on for 8 years of the Uribe presidency — is over and people are openly expressing dissent and have more confidence that participation in a social movement isn´t an automatic death sentence. But still there is no will on the part of the ruling class and or ruling party to address the extremes of poverty and inequality. The FTA would make matters worse…just as we have at home, sucking all the wealth up to the top. thanks for considering this.

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