Two characters, a cop and a killer, deal with the loss of love and personal imprisonment on the eve of the killer’s execution. A hardened cop, Joe Eagle, and a convicted Killer, Joe Snake, a one-time drug-addict and petty criminal, face off on the night prior to Joe Snake’s execution.
The play is set in hard cement, a dark room, with large bars everywhere. It’s the belly of the male beast and explores MALE IMPRISONMENT, the Macho Psyche, and the barriers that hold that construct against the brutal pursuit of vulnerability.
Snake, killed the Cop’s daughter 6 years ago, because they were making love in a beautiful park, and he could not accept her beauty and love holding nothing but self-hatred within. As she pulled away, he grabbed her to give her his love, and broke her neck accidentally. But over a decade in jail, Snake introspects and becomes a deeply spiritual, whole and intellectual human being, while Eagle, due to the loss of his beautiful child, becomes hardened with hatred, vengeance, and retaliation.
The conditions of Snake’s life, prior to the murder, mirror the conditions of Joe Eagle, after the loss of his daughter. The pain created hardened their hearts, created a deep, terrifying desperation to overcome it, but were both limited by their hatred and male conditioning in our culture which demands one be strong, suppress vulnerability, and protect.
He’s brought Snake there to kill him with his bare hands, to purge the pain of his lost daughter from within through retaliation.
But what happens is a breaking of barriers we don’t expect, as the two men face off with their full humanity, and nothing to lose, in this hardened jungle of persecution, judgement and transcendence.
What happens when love is taken away – what’s left?
The barriers of our consciousness reflect hardened hatreds from years of genetic and social threat, murder, and fear. The male psyche, this machismo-mentality we’re taught to believe in, creates walls of indifference in both thinking, and feeling – shutting out, rather than opening up to any truth that does not condone the limited perspectives they’ve accepted.
Breaking down the barriers, is the center of all growth; the most difficult barriers to lift are those within ourselves.
How difficult is it to break free of your own identity, when your inner world is filled with these limitations?
As Snake says – “Please rephrase, the violence.
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Beginning of the play Eagle is trying to get a confession out of Snake. He’s tired, burnt out, and aggressive but knows he can’t hit him – even through he wants to kill him with his bare hands.
No tricks. No games. Like a block of metal ice here. You know the rap. You killed her, convicted by an All American, genuine jury, for six years in the slammer blab blab your innocent, (Yuk yuk throw the doggy another fuckin’ racid bone) now it’s fryin’ time, your ass is gonna burn. My friends downstairs ask me to do a favor an’ get a confession outta you jus’ for the fun of it, (you know how it is, get bored sittin’ here all day long dealin’ with corporate rapists, clergy sodomists, parents who boil babies, an’ what not, like a sewer filled with perverts clawin’ at the shit to identify themselves), who, believe it or godamned not have “rights” – which I’d like to shove up their asses, so let’s make it easy on me, OK, I’m good boy, your bad boy, like that. Confess, sign it we all go home to ice cream and sitcoms an’ you get to rot in cement for the rest of your miserable criminal life rather than become state toast.
Fuck my ass with a porcupine OK kid – I’m in no mood for games, OK? Hot, tired, gettin’ old, the fabric of my love is like brillo, I want answers in writing and I really don’t give a shit about how you fuckin’ feel about it. If you want a chance at a pardon, the Governor, and ME, want a confession.
We want answers.
Answers to the crime. Answers that’ll put her to rest, an’ll put your soul to sleep or just in a cell. So I can do this again and again and again until I want to jump off the bridge. ANSWERS. Want me to spell it?
OK, so we’ll pretend like this never happened, like the juice won’t pop your eyes outta your face, is that what you want?
You hearin’ me? POOF!
Details. What happened? Answers. Confessions. Things like that.
Answers that’ll rest your mind, fry me, and pay your way to Florida when you’re through with this routine called a job, right?
South Carolina, Got a nice piece of property there…
…I don’t want to be electrocuted just so you can relax.
Eagle moves in close to his face, Snake turns away. He talks to Snake’s face.
Listen, I’m cruel (an’ I wasn’t always I believed in morality once), ya know? It’s in my nature. Jus’ like you (what you did), only I got America behind me…
…I’m telling my lawyer about this.
Your bad breath.
Garlic bread booby. Answers or I breathe on ya all night long.
I’d rather get electrocuted.
A sense of killer’s humor (I got nothin’ better to…), look I want to hear it come outta your mouth (yak yak yak), the truth and nothing but the goddamned truth so help you God, OK? OK?
You did it. Say it to me.
I object your honor. Leading the witness.
Overruled. Repeat the question please.
…The sun… It breathes light, and life.
Eagle moves to smack him, but stops himself. Snake laughs incredulously and with disgust.
End of the play.
SNAKE HAS BEEN STABBED BY EAGLE WHO IS REMORSEFUL NOW THAT HIS RAGE HAS LIFTED. SNAKE SITS IN HIS CHAIR ARMS OUT LIKE A CROSS, EAGLE LEANS AGAINST HIS DESK LOOKING AT SNAKE.
I feel like I’ve broken up inside. You ever feel like that?
You broke down a barrier.
Yeah. That’s it.
Look at me.
Inside of me. Ain’t that funny?
No. We have to tear down the walls.
Right. Like a wall’s been smashed through.
Walls inside. Walls outside. How can you live like that?
I don’t know. But we do.
Snake, in agony, back arched against the back of the chair, stares up to the heavens, arms out, legs straight out in front of him on the floor. Eagle’s eyes fixed on him. We hear an ambulance
approaching in the distance.
I wrote a poem when I was in solitary. Want to hear it?
a vulture sits on a cliff
under a burning star
sees it’s past below on the desert
another vulture bare
and it smells its scent
drawing the future
and a hunger
from somewhere deep inside itself
for the death
as the sky makes its own thunder
and he dives head first to the earth
wings from the sun
and buries its sharp beak
into the flesh
And the vulture
eats its brother
Lights dim to black, slowly.
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