The Gray Panther

 

 

SCENE: The employment office of a corporation. Smith is seated behind the desk. A disheveled Jones is standing in front of the desk.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† Now let me get this straight. Are you trying to tell me your name is the Gray Panther?

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Well not exactly.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† My lord, man.

††††††††††† We must have your name.

††††††††††† Surely, you donít think we would hire you with such a .. a title.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† I was kind of hopingÖ

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† No, no, no.

(scratches out the title)

††††††††††† All of this is quite distasteful. Iíve been to a proper school, and Iíve served my time honorably in this organization. I do not deserve this kind of foolishness.

††††††††††† What is your name?

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Well, you see. Thatís part of the problem.

††††††††††† I canít remember.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† You canít remember your own name?

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Not my original name.

††††††††††† There have been so many names since then: Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Malcolm X.

††††††††††† It is so hard to keep track.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† You must have a name. Everybody has a name.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† You can call me Smith, I suppose

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† No, I canít.

††††††††††† Thatís my name.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† All right, call me Jones.

††††††††††† Jim Jones will do.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† I think that one is taken, too. Or was

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Jesus Christ!

††††††††††† Make it brown or Kelly, Kennedy or Johnson.

††††††††††† Whatís in a name anyway?

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† We must all have one.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Fine, make me Brown, Fred Brown

††††††††††† Will that do?

 

SMITH (Scribbles the name onto the form)

††††††††††† Certainly.

††††††††††† Now there is this problem with what youíve listed as for your education.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Whatís wrong with it?

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† You have down here a number of universities: Columbia, 1967, Berkley, 1965, Kent State, 1970.

††††††††††† I must say that is a rather impressive array for someone looking to work in our mailroom.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† What is that supposed to mean?

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† That you might be slightly over qualified for the position.

††††††††††† Then, of course, there is your appearance.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Leave my appearance out of this.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† But you look like a bum.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† In the old days, we all dressed like this. We wanted to strip ourselves of the phony labels and become equal in poverty.

††††††††††† This was the only way to do battle against the beast.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† The beast?

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Corporate society.

††††††††††† It is what has ruined America, making a virtue out of greed.

††††††††††† We joined hands and agreed to resist greedís temptations.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† I suspect you did not succeed.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Some of us sold our souls to the devil.

††††††††††† Most of our children did.

††††††††††† But some like myself still fight the good fight, even though we seem to be losing the war.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† About your applicationÖ.

JONES:

††††††††††† We fought those sons of bitches in the streets and in the parks, on campus and off.

††††††††††† You should have seen me in Columbia, running from the cops, laughing at them, shouting slogans over my shoulder even as they threatened me with their Billy clubs.

 

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† Mr. Brown.

††††††††††† If you please!

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Oh yes, those were the days.

††††††††††† And the music.

††††††††††† My God!

††††††††††† The Stones. Hendrix. The Who. The Beatles.

††††††††††† I didnít like the Beatles thenbecause they wouldnít commit themselves to the cause.

††††††††††† At least not right away.

††††††††††† But when John Lennon came out and took on Nixon.

††††††††††† Hell, I nearly melted.

††††††††††† He sent acorns to all the world leaders telling them to grow some trees.

††††††††††† If only peace was that easy.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† Mr. Brown. Iím sure all of this is quite profound.

††††††††††† But I have other applicants.

††††††††††† So can we please get on with this.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Peace is never easy.

††††††††††† I guess thatís why we started with the bombs.

††††††††††† We figured we had to fight fire with fire.

††††††††††† If banks and corporations like this one could kill people remotely, by paying for the weapons of mass destruction our government dumped on poor people around the world, we had to bring the war home to them.

††††††††††† I suppose that was a bit foolish thinking we could destroy things better than those we opposed when the Nixons, and later Reagans and now the Bushes have done it for so long.

††††††††††† And of course once we started, we found the CIA, FBI and KBG calling us terrorists, hunting us down because they couldnít stand amateurs like us mucking up their game.

†††††††††††

SMITH:

††††††††††† Mr. Brown. I must insist youÖ

 

JONES:

††††††††††† I suppose in some fashion they were right.

††††††††††† Look what happened at the building in the East Village blowing up under us.

††††††††††† I donít know how many times I told the others they couldnít smoke dope and stuff bombs at the same time.

††††††††††† The explosion threw me down the stairs and saved my life.

††††††††††† But Kent State proved just how bad things could get.

††††††††††† Four of us shot dead right there on the campus.

††††††††††† People later condemned us for badmouthing soldiers, some of us even spat on them. But who condemned the soldiers when they raped women and killed kids?

††††††††††† We heard a lot about how much we were getting away with when Carter allowed draft dodgers to come home from Canada. He said it was only fair that he pardon the soldiers, too.

††††††††††† But draft dodgers didnít kill people orburn villages.

††††††††††† It was a bad deal and still is.

††††††††††† But who ever thought our military would turn their guns on us?

††††††††††† And if it happened then, who is to say it wonít happen again with someone like Bush as president?

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† Mr. Brown. Iím afraid Iím going to have to conclude this interview.

 

JONES: (Heading for the door)

††††††††††† Never mind about the interview or the job.

††††††††††† I shouldnít have come.

††††††††††† I should be back out there fighting the way I did back then.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† You mean protesting in the street?

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Protesting is not enough.

††††††††††† Not when those you protest against think nothing of spying on you or shooting you down.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† They will call you a homegrown terrorist, Mr. Brown.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† Let them.

 

SMITH:

††††††††††† Theyíll kidnap you and take you to secret prisons to torture you.

 

JONES:

††††††††††† As if they havenít already done as bad or worse.

††††††††††† Never mind, Mr. Smith.

††††††††††† Just donít be in this building tomorrow if you donít want to get hurt.

 

 


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