Madam Ambassador (Play Script)
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Madam Ambassador (Play Script)

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Written by Henry Duke Ryan. Performed at 2013 DC Capital Fringe Festival. Permission must be obtained before using the script for an performance or public distribution. Visit MadamAmbassador.com for ...

Written by Henry Duke Ryan. Performed at 2013 DC Capital Fringe Festival. Permission must be obtained before using the script for an performance or public distribution. Visit MadamAmbassador.com for contact information.

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Madam Ambassador (Play Script) Madam Ambassador (Play Script) Document Transcript

  • ! ! ! ! MADAM AMBASSADOR ! ! A Full-length Comedy ! By Duke Ryan ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Duke Ryan 5325 Manning Place, N.W. Washington, D.C., 20016-5311 Phone: 202/362-1716 E-mail: henryryan@rcn.com
  • !2 ! ! ! ! ! MADAM AMBASSADOR A Comedy by Duke Ryan ! Synopsis The Corn Belt meets the Beltway as Valerie Butts makes up her mind to get back to the hub of power from which she was dumped abruptly when her powerful senator husband first lost his seat then died campaigning to get it back. That left her in Union, Illinois, far out where the prairie meets the horizon, or as she sees it, in the middle of Purgatory. She decides she wants to be an ambassador and believes she has the connections to do it. The connections, however, have gotten rusty, and the price of a “nice” ambassadorship is well beyond her means. Furthermore, her second husband, a former boxer and gym director, will never be able to cut it in diplomatic circles. She met him on a cruise as she was mourning the late senator. But the circles of power and influence are circles indeed, and with a little slight-of-hand Valerie vaults over those who try to stop her, pays nothing for her ambassadorship to Copenhagen, routs those who pursue her, and along the way destroys an aspiring attorney general candidate, her main nemesis. But the one person she can’t shake off is her husband, and, in fact, it soon becomes apparent that, despite all appearances, he has skills that any diplomat can use to good advantage. That , roughly, is the plot, but above all, the play is a satirical look at America’s government and especially its diplomacy. ! ! Cast and Setting ! Valerie Butts: She is middle-aged, conservatively well dressed, and well spoken. She grew up in Chicago’s fashionable North Shore suburbs and was educated in private Eastern schools. Shortly after college graduation she married an upward-bound politician who soon became a senator. She became used to living in high-powered Washington circles, but the senator’s defeat, then death, left her in a small prairie town. ! Buzz Butts: He is Valerie’s second husband, and he, too, is middle-aged, but a good cut below her on the socio-economic scale. Except for a tour in the Marines and a cruise he took to get over a divorce, he spent all his life on Chicago’s West Side until he met Valerie. He has spent much of his life managing a gymnasium and was once an amateur boxer. ! Gumpston: He is a small town activist and political party operative who is moving
  • !3 higher in non-elective politics. He is a fixer who quietly gets things done, and is eager, almost over-eager, to gain recognition for his work. ! Greta: She is a maid in the home of the Danish Minister of Sport and Recreation. She is sometimes casual about what is hers and what is not and can be quite brazen about it. ! Leon Strummer: He is a high-powered Washington lawyer, sometimes holding high office, sometimes acting behind the scenes, but always a major player in power circles. He is profane, arrogant, and abrasive. ! The first act takes place in the Butts’ family room in Union, Illinois; the second act in the ambassador’s office at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen. The Butts’ family room has a typical assortment of comfortable furniture, but it also has a desk, a computer and a punching bag. The props can be easily rearranged to become the ambassador’s office in Act II. I would, however, suggest putting a name plaque on the desk in Act II and replacing the punching bag with an American flag. ! ! History ! The play, requested by two professional actors, began as a one-act written for two people, but after a public reading was expanded to full-length. It then received a well-attended second public reading at American University under the auspices of the university’s Performing Arts Department. Next, in collaboration with the Playwrights Forum of Washington, D.C., it was restructured to bring three characters on-stage who were formerly off-stage and with these changes was performed as a staged reading sponsored by Playwrights’ Collaborative and presented to a sizeable and very appreciative audience in the Washington, DC, area (the Writers’ Center in Bethesda, MD.) Next, it was performed to a very enthusiastic audience that nearly filled the house in Cambridge, UK. ! View slide
  • !4 ! ! ! Act I Scene 1 (Buzz is vigorously pounding a punching bag.) ! Valerie Buzz, BUZZ, please stop that and listen to me. Buzz! ! Buzz Yeah, what is it? ! Buzz…I want a divorce! Valerie (Warm and friendly. She might be saying let’s go to bed) ! Buzz Yeah, OK, dear, we can talk about it. ! Valerie You’re not listening, darling. I said I want a divorce. ! Buzz (Pauses, then as if he had been goosed by a cattle prod.) What! WHAT!! ! Valerie Sweetheart, relax. ! Buzz A divorce?! Did you say a divorce? ! Valerie Yes, dear, I did. ! Buzz What are you talkin’ about? What’s got into you? ! Valerie View slide
  • !5 Darling, I am bored senseless in this place. If you were at all sensitive to my needs, you’d be aware of that. ! Buzz Aaww, don’t give me that! I am so sensitive to your needs, it’s ridiculous. ! All you do is sit at that computer all day Valerie. ! Buzz I'm day-trading. It's scary sometimes. I just got into it. ! Valerie I see, but about the divorce… ! Buzz Stop sayin’ that word. If you’re bored maybe we could take a trip somewhere, go on a vacation. ! Valerie Buzz, I need to get out of this town, out of Union, Illinois, not just for a week or a month, but forever. ! Buzz Why, for god’s sake? Look, get into something? Get involved in the commu... ! Valerie (Nicely) Now, Buzz, stop right there. You know how I feel about the community. (Gently and softly) It sucks. . ! Buzz Then, why did you come here? ! Valerie Oh, darling, don’t play dumb. Could we possibly live in that closet you had in Chicago? ! Buzz Well, maybe not, but I gotta tell you, it gets to me sometimes, livin’ in Paul’s house. ! It’s my house, if that helps you any. ! Valerie
  • !6 Buzz Yeah, well, whatever. If I can get used to livin’ in it so should you. You ought to be thankful you got it. Valerie It’s a nice house in a dreary town! I should never have let Paul move back here, never! ! Buzz (Patiently) Hey, you coulda stayed in Washington after Paul got his ass bounced. ! Valerie (With plenty of feeling) Don’t be snide. He was betrayed by those vile so-called New Republicans. And now you pal around with them in this town, including that despicable Gumpston. ! Buzz OK, but you don’t have to be no senator to live in Washington. ! Valerie No, you don’t, but just look at that. (She reaches for a picture of Paul.) That tells it all. Paul in his Senate Office. My God, how he loved it. He couldn’t imagine not being a senator. Look at that expression; can’t you see it all there? ! Buzz Yeah, I can see it. I see that picture a lot, too, and if you don’t mind my sayin’ so, I think you ought to put it away. I ain’t as taken with it as you are. ! Valerie Sorry if it offends you. He was a big part of my life. ! Buzz Includin’ bringin’ you here. ! Valerie Don’t be nasty! We both thought we’d get back in a couple of years, and if he had lived, we probably could have. ! Buzz Val, Paul was trounced; he never coulda have gotten back, and you aren’t goin’ back either. So let’s deal with reality. Valerie (With feeling)
  • !7 The reality is that I am in Union, Illinois, Union the Horrible. ! Buzz You are so damned spoiled, you know that? Ninety-nine percent of the people in this world, I mean like good hard-working, common folks, they would give an arm... ! Valerie (With gentle patience) Now, Buzz, don’t get all Bolsheviky. We need to be civilized about this. ! Buzz About what? ! Valerie About our divorce, darling. ! There is not gonna be no divorce! Buzz (Hits the punching bag) ! Valerie (To herself) Oh, why did I ever go on that idiotic cruise!? ! Buzz ‘Cause it was the widow's special. Find a guy in one spin around the globe or your money back. ! Valerie Now that’s mean, Buzz. But I was lonely, vulnerable. ! Buzz That’s all there was, huh? ! Valerie No, that’s not all. Look at that album (on a coffee table). I never took so many pictures. There you are looking suntanned and terrific. I was attracted, more than attracted, fascinated. The sea was calm, the moon was bright; and you said such nice things. ! Buzz I still do; only you don’t listen no more. I thought you were pretty neat, too--classy, sophisticated, romantic--hey, I still do. I mean that, I do. !
  • !8 Valerie (Dropping the album) You forgot rich. ! Buzz (Insulted) No, I didn’t think that. From what you told me I figured you to be comfortable, not rich. ! Valerie Well, you were right about that. Paul’s campaigns took care of “rich.” But you, well, you were different from anyone I’d ever known. ! Rougher and dumber. Buzz ! Valerie Less polished, let’s say. ! Buzz Quite a change from all your preppy friends, huh? A gym manager and amateur boxer. ! Valerie A huge change, and I loved it—the rough edges; they felt different, and real, and good. I felt I was in touch with a real human being for the first time in my life. Someone who did something, not just manipulate things. Buzz Yeah, but that was then, wasn’t it? You know, women like you, the social register set, they go through stages when they like sleek horses and rough guys. The horses usually come out better. ! Valerie I’m sorry, Buzz. ! Buzz But now you’re tired of “rough,” is that it? Now, you’re lookin’ for “smooth” again, some hotshot lawyer or stockbroker. ! Valerie The whole thing was just a pretty bubble, starting with the cruise, but the bubble has burst, and I am bored witless. And…and you seem to be, too; that’s probably why you're playing around with other women. !
  • !9 Buzz I am what!!? Have you gone nuts? I love you, for Christ's sake. That seems to be the one thing that doesn't count here. Playin' around!! Jaysus!! ! Valerie Buzz, every time I see you with some woman under 60, you've got your arm around her. ! Buzz Baloney, and anyway that ain't exactly cheatin’. I'm a friendly guy. ! Valerie You're not that friendly with me. ! ! ! Buzz Well, you don't make it real easy. You keep getting’ more and more like a debutante and treatin’ me more and more like the chauffeur. ! Valerie Oh, I do not. ! Buzz Oh, come on, Valerie. Enough of this! Look, we're here. Make the best of it. Do stuff; get to know people. Look at me; I got stuff going on here. It’s interesting and useful. ! Valerie Oh Lord, like what? You don't mean that ridiculous gym? ! Buzz That gym helps one hell of a lot of people. Keeps young folks out of trouble, which is a damn good thing these days, and it keeps older guys fit... ! Valerie (Looking at his girth) Oh, keeps older guys fit, eh? Maybe it’s not really the gym you’re going to on all those afternoons. ! Buzz (Sucks in his gut.) OK, OK, maybe I’m a little softer than when I was boxing, but I’m OK. And you know something, we're gonna build a new gym-- much bigger. It's gonna serve three cities in this county. You could help us, too, you know that, raisin’ money, for example.
  • !10 ! Valerie You and that obscene Gumpston? He led the fight against Paul in this county, I hope you realize that. And now we have that despicable Hoopentaker in the Senate. ! Buzz Valerie, get over it; it's just politics, for Christ’s sake, politics, nothin' else. ! Valerie Well, where I come from politics matter. Anyway, a gym, even a three-city gym, is really not what I'm aiming for, Buzz. Do you realize that entire foreign affairs budgets used to be worked up in my living room? That's the level I'm aiming for. ! Buzz OK, OK, good luck. Mind tellin’ me how're you gonna get there? ! Valerie I have a plan, Buzz. That's why I need the divorce. ! ! Buzz Well, you're not gettin' no divorce, so forget it, and even if you ever got it, you'd have to pay me so much alimony you'd be livin’ on skid row, considering I’m your major lifesupport system--cooking, cleaning up, chauffeuring, shopping... ! Valerie And you live in my house, remember? (Buzz hits the punching bag and Valerie continues rather sweetly) The thing is, Buzz, I have an escape plan, but I'm afraid it only accommodates one of us. ! Buzz You really are somethin’ else. What is this plan? ! Valerie (Enthusiastically) I am going back into public life. I want to be an ambassador. I have been thinking about it for a long time. ! Buzz Oh, yeah, nifty idea. That really sets you apart, that you’d like to be an ambassador. ! Valerie (Patting his hand)
  • !11 The difference, darling, is that I can do it. I haven’t tried because…well…because of us. ! Buzz What are you talkin’ about? ! Valerie I can do it, Buzz, but you can’t. I haven’t had the heart to break us up, but I just can’t stand this life any longer. ! Buzz Hey, I'm waitin’. You gonna tell me this great plan, or what? ! Valerie (With conviction, enthusiasm—and naivete) Don’t be angry, darling. I'm just going to call some of our old friends in Washington, Paul's and mine. I'm going to network. For someone with my background that should be pretty easy. ! Buzz What background? You ain’t never done a day's work yet. ! Valerie You can be flippant, but I was respected in that town, and I am still remembered. You'll see. Buzz Well, pardon a dumb question, but, uh, where does divorce come into this? ! Valerie Ah, Buzz, you’re a dear man; I really mean that, but do you see yourself in that environment, entertaining presidents, prime ministers, foreign secretaries. I've been there, for me it's easy. ! Buzz You think I'd embarrass you. ! Valerie I'm saying nothing in your background has prepared you for this kind of work, and it would be work. ! Buzz You'd be ashamed of me. ! Valerie
  • !12 I think you would be miserable. ! Buzz Well, well, well. ! Valerie (With happy insight, perhaps clapping her hands) Oh, but I have an idea. If you want to come along, maybe you could do some kind of work at the embassy. You could have an administrative job maybe, looking after the building and grounds. I'm sure I could arrange it. In fact, I'd like that, having you around--but after the divorce. ! Buzz Oh, sure, that would be nice, havin' your ex cuttin' the grass and doin' the windows. But bein' divorced he couldn't be pesky about sittin' at the dinner table, huh? ! Valerie (A little like talking to a child) Buzz, being in charge of the physical plant is a big job. Well, maybe you wouldn't have charge of all of it, but a lot of it anyway. ! ! ! Buzz You are a piece of work, you know that, you really are. How about you try all this highpowered networking before we turn our lives upside down, huh? ! Valerie You're not angry, are you, darling? ! Buzz Of course not. Why should I be? ! (He slams the punching bag a few times.) Valerie Buzz, Buzz, please, settle down. Now, look, I have a very important call to make. ! Buzz Oh, I beg your pardon. You gonna call the president? Hi from me, don't forget. But if he says you gotta be divorced before you can go to Washington, tell him it’s off ‘cause your dumb, roughneck husband thinks marriage is more important than politics. !
  • !13 Valerie (Conspiratorially) I’m going to call one of the most powerful figures in Washington. He's a lawyer in a very political law firm and could easily be the next Attorney General. ! Buzz Oh sure, the kinda lawyer that makes millions keepin’ the government from helpin’ simple people. Valerie (Nanny-like) Buzz, dearest, no cracker barrel Marxism, please. Didn’t we agree about that? (She dials.) ! Buzz I give up. Anyway, you’re never gonna get no ambassador’s job, so why am I all fussed up? (Goes to his computer.) All right, baby, let's see how you’re gonna treat me today. Yesterday wasn't so hot. ! Gumpston (Enters) Hey, hello, the door was open. (Valerie looks disgusted but says nothing. She reads a newspaper furiously all the time Gumpston is on stage.) ! Buzz Hey, Gumps, how the hell are you, guy? ! Gumpston I’m OK, but listen, I just got a second. I’m on my way to Chicago. I’m working two days a week in Hoopentacker’s office up there. It’s a killer drive, but worth it. ! Buzz Wow, That sounds really great. A terrific break for you, huh? ! Gumpston Yeah, it sure is, but look, I just want to drop off this jacket. A guy I met up there made it for me. He’s kind of political-- he says for a Hoopentacker guy he’ll do it really cheap. I figured they’d be good for us guys workin’ on the gym, and maybe to give to some of the right people—the mayor, Hoopentaker, you know, folks like that. What do you think? !
  • !14 Buzz Damn good idea. ! Gumpston Good, and catch the design on the back—a gold triangle for the three cities were gonna serve when we get going. Neat, huh? I”ll tell him make up a few more when I get up there today. Anyway, I gotta run. I’m late as hell now. Keep this (the jacket) and I’ll talk to you soon. See you later. Goodbye Valerie. (Valerie ignores him. He exits.) ! Buzz Wow. Gumpston workin’ with Hoopentacker, how about that? ! Valerie I don’t even want to discuss it. It might make me ill. ! Valerie (While dialing the phone.) You're going to lose your shirt with that thing--and I am going to get an ambassadorship, just you....Hello...My name is Valerie Butts, I'm the late Senator Paul Huffer's widow...Yes, that's right...I would like to speak to Mr. Leon Strummer. (She is pacing nervously as she speaks.)...Thank you.... ! Buzz Oh, wow. Oh, look at this! Go baby, go. Climb, you sucker. Climb. ! ! ! ! ! Strummer We can see him, although some sort of staging must make it clear that he is in another city, i.e. Washington Yeah, hello, who’s this? ! ! Valerie Leon, it's Val. I'm so glad I caught you. How are you? ! Strummer I’m OK, but look.. !
  • !15 Valerie ....Oh, that's wonderful. And are you still running the government? (Buzz scowls at her coyness.) ! Strummer Hey, who is this? ! Valerie It’s Valerie, darling, Senator Huffer’s widow. ! Strummer Oh, yeah, I remember. Where are you—at the hotel? ! Valerie Oh, no, no, I'm not at the hotel....(she laughs coyly) Oh, the old suite. How well I remember. (Buzz bashes the punching bag.) ! Strummer So, OK, where the hell are you? ! Valerie I'm, back in Union. ! Strummer Where? ! Valerie Union. You know, like the one Lincoln saved. ! Strummer Jesus! Is that in America? ! Valerie Yes, darling. It’s in Illinois, Paul’s state, remember? ! Strummer Why the hell are you there? ! Valerie Because Paul came back here after he left the Senate.... ! Strummer
  • !16 Yeah, OK. We’ll look, uh, uh… Valerie Val. ! Strummer Uh, yeah, Val. Look I’m so busy I can’t think straight, so what do you need? ! Valerie Well, I won't keep you more than a moment. You see, I want to get back into public service... ! Strummer Back?? Pardon my ignorance, but when were you in public service? ! Valerie (indignantly) Leon, all the time I was in Washington. We were a team, Paul and I.... ! Strummer Oh, come on, lady. What did you do--church socials, that kind of stuff? ! Valerie I did plenty that was substantive, behind the scenes. ! Strummer You mean in hotel rooms? ! Valerie Oh, you have gotten wicked! (Slightly like a public announcement) Leon, I would like to serve our country abroad. ! Strummer Oh, yeah, get into the public trough... hob nob with the power elite. Well, look, I’m really very… ! Valerie Leon, please don’t be quite so cynical. I want to serve... ! Strummer Great! Serve who? What? Where? Lady, I’m really busy. !
  • !17 Valerie Serve my country...Anywhere...say...Paris. ! Strummer Yeah, well, that’s very patriotic. If you got about a million bucks for the President’s campaign fund, maybe we can talk about it, and I mean that, a million. ! Valerie Good God, prices have gone up. Isn't there anything for less? ! Strummer So how much have you got in mind? ! Valerie Well, say, oh, well, maybe $100,000. (Buzz snaps to at this.) ! Strummer (Disdainfully) A hundred grand! God, I don’t know. Fiji maybe. ! Valerie Fiji! FIJI! for $100,000. ! Buzz Where in hell are you going to get $100,000? ! Valerie Be quiet!!... ! What!!? Strummer ! Valerie No, no, I was talking to my husband. He asked me something. ! Buzz Don't come to me. ! Valerie (Scowls at Buzz) I know it's a campaign year, Leon, and I know the president needs money, but my God, these prices....(Buzz is back at his computer.) Well, look, Leon, I can't give it to you right
  • !18 now, but I can come up with, well, about $50,000 ! Strummer Fifty K! We’re sinkin’ fast here. That’ll get you Nauru, if you’re lucky. ! Valerie Nauru? Is that a place? ! Strummer Yeah, it must be. It’s on my list here. Well, think about it, dearie. See if you can come up with some more bucks. Look, I got stuff to do. Oh, by the way, the President’s Domestic Advisor might be going out to the Midwest somewhere. Maybe you can meet him. Do you some good…contacts and all. Check with the party office out there. ! Valerie Well, I'd love to meet him, but I'm mostly interested in serving abroad so please look into the ambassador thing, and I'll scout up the money somehow. ! Strummer OK, OK, but now look, sweetie, if you are going to get anything at all you first got to get an endorsement from the local party office back wherever you are. My secretary will tell you who to call. Hey, nice to talk to you. Good luck. ! Valerie Thank you, Leon (With her hand over the phone) You little shit. ! Buzz What's happening? What’s Nooroo? ! Valerie Nauru is a speck somewhere, and I'm waiting for his wretched secretary. ! Buzz Why? ! Valerie I need some party hack in Illinois to vouch for my candidacy. It’s just a formality. She's going to tell me his name.....Yes, yes, I'm here. I've had a nice nap; I'm quite refreshed....Who!!? GUMPSTON!! I need a referral from Gumpston!! Oh, my God, I don't believe this....No, no, nothing. Thank you. Goodbye. !
  • !19 Buzz Hey, what's goin' on. What's this about Gumpston? ! Valerie Gumpston, that vile squid, has taken over my life! Everywhere I turn one of his tentacles grabs me. ! Buzz Most guys only got two. ! Valerie Buzz, I said tenta...Oh, never mind. ! Buzz OK, but where does Gumpston come in? ! Valerie Everywhere, apparently. First, he's the one who has to vouch for me, which is enough to make me vomit. ! Buzz Oh, hey, that's good. He'll do a swell job for you. ! Valerie So I will either end up in Union for the rest of my life or in Gumpston's debt for the rest of my life. Well, can't be helped. The relatively good news is that the President's Domestic Affairs Adviser is coming to the Midwest. ! To Union? Buzz ! Valerie Yes, but he doesn't know it yet. That's exactly what we need to make happen. ! Buzz Who's "we?" ! Valerie Well, me, if you don't want to help me. ! Buzz I do, but then I think, "Hey, if she gets what she’s after, I'm helping myself become a divorced yardman in Nooroo.
  • !20 ! ! Valerie Well, anyway, that despicable Senator Hoopentacker is working with Gumpston on the itinerary. I want that adviser here, even if we have to work with Gumpston to make it happen. ! Buzz "We" again. Is that 'cause Gumpston knows you think he's pond scum? ! ! Valerie Let's talk about it all later, shall we? Right now, I have to think about money. (Meanwhile, it has begun to storm outside.) ! Buzz Whoa, listen to that thunder! (Looking at his computer screen) Oh, wow, look at this stock, holy mackerel, that baby is hot. I'm gettin me some more of that stuff. (At that moment there is a crack of thunder, and the lights go out. Buzz shouts.) Shit! ! ! End Scene !
  • !21 ! ! ! Scene 2 (About an hour later. The electricity has returned. Buzz goes to his computer.) Buzz Ah, great, the juice is back. Now watch the people’s capitalist rake in the loot, ladies and gentlemen. ! Valerie Uh, Buzz, have you really made money on that thing? ! Buzz Have I made money? Hell, I’ve cleaned up. ! Valerie Really? Amazing! Like, uh, about how much? ! Buzz Hey, in the last few weeks alone, oh, about $450,000. ! Valerie What!!? You amaze me, Buzz. You really do, again and again. I guess that’s why I married you. ! Buzz Aw, it’s a knack, you know, kinda a head for figures. Sometimes I think either you got it or you ain’t. ! Valerie Well, it seems you’ve definitely got it. Have you thought about what you might do with all that money? ! Buzz Oh, I don’t know, I’ll probably use a lot of it to get the new gym started. ! Valerie The gym!? Buzz, it’s a nice idea, but I wonder if we couldn’t, well, just lift our sights a little bit. ! What does that mean? Buzz
  • !22 ! ! ! Valerie I mean let’s help more people, the kind of people you are so concerned about, ordinary people. ! Buzz Is that a fact? ! Valerie Yes, Buzz, it is. Just think about it. American diplomacy influences the way people live around the world. Someone well placed in our foreign affairs could do so much for so many people. ! Buzz Oh, yeah, now I see where this is going. ! Valerie If we could get enough money for a good post in Europe, well, we--you and I--could be a real force in world affairs. ! Buzz OK, OK, now let’s just review the biddin’ here. You are sayin’ you want me to give you my money to give to Strummer so you can become an ambassador somewhere. ! Valerie Buzz, so that we can become ambassador. This is something we’ll be doing together, something important. ! Buzz Don’t we usually have just one ambassador in these places? ! Valerie Yes, of course, officially, but that’s not the point. An ambassador needs all the help he or she can get, good, trustworthy assistance. That’s where you would come in. Backstopping everything I did, everyday. ! Buzz Oh, is that right? Well, that’s pretty good, but uh, tell me, where exactly does the divorce fit in? ! Valerie
  • !23 The what? ! Buzz The divorce you wanted a couple of hours ago. ! ! Valerie Oh, Buzz, darling, I hope you didn’t take that too literally. I didn’t really mean I wanted to divorce you, you must realize that. ! Buzz You don’t want no divorce? ! Valerie No, of course not. ! Buzz And you want me to go with you overseas? I mean without I need to do the windows? ! Valerie Of course, I do; do you think I’d go without you? We might have to give you some administration job title, but you'd really be co-ambassador. ! Buzz I don’t know, Val. I really want to do this gym thing. It’s my kinda thing, you know what I’m sayin’? I can see it helpin’ folks, ordinary folks, whereas this other thing, well, it’s all kind of airy-fairy, and anyway, I always figure that Washington and diplomats and all are really more out to screw folks than to help ‘em. ! Valerie Oh, Buzz, that’s not true. We’ve got to have good government and really good people, like you and me, running it. Now, look, let’s just call and see what might happen if we were to offer some real money to Strummer, shall we? ! Buzz I gotta tell ya, I don’t like it very much. ! Valerie I know, dear, I know, and I respect your concerns. (She picks up the phone and dials.) ! Buzz
  • !24 Hey, you be damned careful, you hear me? ! Valerie I just want to see what they say. We don’t need to make a commitment....Hello. This is Valerie Huffer. (Buzz looks up surprised and irritated) Uh, that is Valerie Butts. I’d like to speak with Leon Strummer please....No, don’t see if he’s in. If he weren’t in, you’d say so. I want to talk to him....I'm following up on my earlier call....What more do you need to know? Tell him it’s about a large sum of money that I intend to give to him if he plays his cards right. It’s for him to give to the President. See if that interests him. ! Strummer (Roughly) Strummer, here. ! Valerie Leon, darling, sorry to bother you again, but I found some money, quite a bit actually ! Strummer God, that was quick. What did you do, stick up a liquor store? ! Valerie That’s none of your business. And could we be a little more civilized? ! Strummer Yeah, sure. So how much ya got? ! Valerie $650,000. ! Strummer Oh, yeah? ! Buzz (At nearly he same time) Jaysus, what?? ! Not too bad Strummer ! Buzz How much?? ! Valerie
  • !25 (Mouthing “be quiet” to Buzz.) Yes, and I think that should buy something pretty good. ! Strummer Well, maybe, what do you have in mind? ! Valerie Something nice, dear. (Buzz hits the bag) ! ! ! ! Strummer Yeah, OK, sure. Look, dearie, it’s possible because of some special circumstances that Copenhagen might be going for that kind of money, and let me tell you, it’s a goddamn steal. I’ll make some calls. ! Valerie Copenhagen? Really. Oh, that would do nicely. The Danes are a jolly sort of people aren’t they? As close to being Italians as you get in Scandinavia. ! Strummer Yeah, I guess they’re OK. I think they yodel or something. Anyway, if you want a shot at it, get that money very fast, you understand? Listen, I got to go. My secretary will fill you in on the Copenhagen situation. ! Valerie Alright, Leon. I’ll get the money there very quickly. Bye now….Hello, is this Mr. Strummer’s secretary?…Yes, you’re going to tell me about Copenhagen…Uh huh, uh huh, I see…. Uh huh, uh huh…. Yes, yes...Thank you. Goodbye. ! Buzz What the hell are you up to? ! Valerie Buzz, this is unbelievable. I can have...we can have Copenhagen. ! Buzz I don’t want Copenhagen. Where would I put it? ! Valerie Of course, you do, and so do I. Look, the ambassador there just died. They’re stuck, and there’s going to be a special meeting of NATO there next month.
  • !26 ! Buzz What good are you going to be at that? You don’t know NATO from bug spray. ! Valerie I happen to know a great deal about NATO, but the beauty of it is, I don’t have to. I will have an excellent career deputy who knows all about everything. Isn’t that delicious? All they need is someone presentable in the ambassadorship. Me, in other words. ! Buzz OK, you’re ambassador, huh? And you got this crackerjack career nursemaid. So just exactly where do I fit in? ! ! ! Valerie Buzz, you’ll be helping me all the way. Behind the scenes. The power behind the throne....Oh, I nearly forgot, Leon’s secretary told me that the President’s domestic affairs adviser wants a program for Illinois by the end of the week. ! Buzz Hey, speakin’ of that, I told Gumpston how you wanted really bad to get that guy here. He says he'll see what he can do. (slowly getting an idea) Hey, hey, let’s get him involved in the gym. Yeah, look, I give the town my money to start building a new gym. That way we got something real to get this domestic guy’s attention ! Valerie Forget it. ! Buzz It’s perfect. With my money we start diggin' the foundation for the gym. Meanwhile, we make a date with this domestic guy, lay on a photographer, and pose the guy in front of a bulldozer. Then he goes back and gets Washington all excited about it. Valerie But Buzz, you forgot.... ! Buzz Wait a minute, wait a minute, let me finish. I got another neat idea—those jackets Gumpston is having made. Valerie Yes, yes, Buzz.... !
  • !27 Buzz Just one sec. Let me finish. We give one of these jackets to the domestic guy during the bulldozer ceremony and one for Hoopentacker, too. Is that a neat idea, or what? ! Valerie (With restrained exasperation) Buzz, think of it this way. We have a box of money, a fairly sizable box. If we give it to Stummer, he will send us to Copenhagen. If we give it to the gym, they will say, “Gosh, thanks,” and we will live and die in Union. (Pause) Ah, but wait a minute...Maybe we can give the box to Strummer and also promise it to the gym, a pledge, I think they call it. We do all your stuff with the domestic guy and the bulldozer, but when the gym says, “Hey, where’s the money?” We’re gone. ! Buzz What? You mean we stiff the gym? ! ! Valerie Buzz, we can do so much for so many people this way, good people, common folks. ! Buzz By giving fancy-assed dinners in Copenhagen. That’s going to help folks in Union? Call me dumb, I don’t see it. ! Valerie Oh, you are so obstinate! ! Buzz No, I ain’t obstinate, Val, but I got a vision, see? You got to realize that. I can turn this gym into a real force for good in this community and in the other communities around here, too; you know that? We’re started on all that, Val, and I ain’t givin’ it up. ! Valerie Buzz, Buzz, ordinarily I wouldn’t dream of asking you to give it up. But think of the wonderful opportunity you will have… ! Buzz (His mood changes suddenly.) Hey, stop, wait! Maybe we can both have what we want. You can have Copenhagen— with me by the way, which we need to talk about a little more, like what the Sam Hill I’m gonna’ do there—and I can have my gym. !
  • !28 Valerie (Dubiously) Well, Buzz that’s wonderful. Go on. ! Buzz You got money to live on. Investments, Paul’s pension, that stuff, right? ! Valerie (Warily) Yes, not a lot, but some. ! You don’t really need no salary. Buzz ! Valerie What? Are you crazy? ! Buzz No, listen! We, that is, I, give my box of money to Strummer. ! Valerie That’s good. ! Buzz But, to keep the gym from getting shafted you give your new salary to it. We can get a lawyer this afternoon to set it all up. In fact, Gumpston oughta do it. ! Valerie Are you absolutely out of your mind? ! I am serious. Buzz ! Valerie You are raving. For one thing, in these posts, especially European posts, you need all the income you can get. You need to entertain constantly. They never give you enough. They figure if you’re rich enough to buy the post, you’re rich enough to run it. ! Buzz It’s time they learned different. Time they started to pay for stuff, if they want it. Valerie
  • !29 (Excitedly) Buzz, just forget it. Give away my salary! You must be mad! ! Buzz Well suppose I just call up Strummer and tell him it was really my money, and I’ve changed my mind, huh. ! Valerie Don’t give me that. (Buzz goes to the phone. Valerie laughs.) You don’t even know his number. ! Buzz Redial! ! Valerie (snatching away the phone) Don’t ever try that again! ! Buzz The hell I won’t. You want to be an ambassador, huh? Well, get your coat. The way to Copenhagen is through Gumpston’s office. ! ! Valerie Oh, God, I swear I’ll sue that damned cruise company. (The stage goes dark.) ! ! ! End Scene ! ! ! !
  • !30 ! ! ! ! ! Scene 3 (Several hours later.) Valerie That meeting with Gumpston was the most humiliating experience of my life. I hope you appreciate that. ! Buzz Aw, come on, relax, will ya, relax. You done the right thing. That’s what’s important. ! Valerie Ehhhhhhhh. ! Buzz Oh, Val, take it easy, OK?… I’m going to see what’s goin’ on in the market. I damn near forgot this thing. (Valerie paces and fumes. Buzz logs on.) Oh, oh. Whoa! What the hell’s goin’ on here!? Wait a minute! Jaysus! Oh, my God! Oh, Cheerist! Oh, this is a disaster! This is a wipeout. OH, NO, NO, NO!! ! Valerie What are you howling about? Quiet down, for heaven’s sake. ! Buzz We’re wiped out, that’s what I’m howling about. We’re Goddamned destroyed, ruined. I not only lost all my money… ! Valerie How? Make sense, will you? ! Buzz About six months ago I got into trading commodities. ! Valerie Which means what? ! Vegetables, hog jowls, stuff like that. ! Buzz
  • !31 Valerie And?? ! Buzz Oh God, oh God... ! Valerie Buzz, speak! ! Buzz Well, the idea is that you buy this stuff low, and sell high. ! Valerie Yes, that’s called gambling. Buzz, what have you done? ! Buzz I bought beans. ! Valerie Oh my God. And the price didn’t go up, did it? ! Buzz No, it didn’t. ! Valerie How bad is this going to get? ! Buzz I should have sold at any price, but I hoped things would get better. Then I got distracted and missed a deadline. ! Valerie Yes, and… ! Buzz I just got a message—the first three truckloads of beans are coming to this address tomorrow. ! Valerie Beans!! Buzz, do you realize that you said “beans.” Are you telling me that instead of money we have beans!! ! Buzz
  • !32 Lots of beans. ! Valerie Instead of ambassador to Copenhagen, I’m the bean queen of Union. Buzz, do something. ! Do what? Buzz ! Valerie (Hysterically) How should I know? Call somebody. ! Buzz There ain’t nobody to call. ! Valerie (Shouting franticsally.) Now , let’s keep calm. Let’s just all keep calm. (Then she weeps.) (Buzz is pacing. He passes the punching bag, growls at it but doesn’t hit it. Then he changes his mind and punches it.) ! Buzz Aww, well, come on, Val, it’s not the end of the world. ! Valerie No. God, I wish it were. Lord, please hit me with a thunderbolt. (Then, to Buzz.) Otherwise, you know what’s going to happen? I am going to live out my wretched life right here in Purgatory, Illinois. How will I get my kicks? buying bird seed at K-Mart out on the highway, or getting a big hot chocolate half-price on seniors’ day at Anne’s Sweetie Pie Pastry and Coffee Shop. Meanwhile, the center of this beastly town and I will decay together. That’s my life from now on. Oh God, please, send a thunderbolt. ! Buzz Oh, now, come on, calm down. ! Valerie How could you? How? How? How? You’ve completely ruined me. And with beans, for God’s sake. Beans! By the way, do you have any idea what you’re gong to do with the wretched things. Make salads for the world?
  • !33 ! Buzz I don’t know. ! Valerie Buzz, I never thought I’d hear myself say these words. Call Gumpston. ! End Scene !
  • !34 Scene Four ! (Enter Gumpston) ! ! Gumpston OK, I got it fixed. ! Buzz How? ! Gumpston Union is a sister city with Yakutsk in Siberia. I kid you not. A few years ago everyone was crazy about these city to city things. We got Yakutsk. They just had an earthquake. Everything is a mess. I suggested to the mayor that we ask them if we can help, maybe send food. They said sure. How about beans? They said, that’s fine. The neat thing about Yakutsk is you don’t to put them in cold storage. ! Buzz Great….. but how will they get there? ! Gumpston The mayor agreed to use city funds as long as the New Republicans back him for Congress in two years. Sure, I said. He’s a small time crook, but what the hell. ! Buzz Gunpster, you’re amazing! ! Gumpston Thanks, but now look, that domestic guy is coming this afternoon. I got a big photo op set up--him, you, Val, the mayor, and a bulldozer. It’ll look real good in Washington. We’re gonna have a bushel basket of beans there, too. Symbolic, see. And the mayor has a banner with his picture that says “beans for freedom.” ! Valerie (With despairing irony) How did this ever happen to me? ! Gumpston To tie the gym and the beans together, I told Washington it’s all the work of a new foundation you two have started, the Huffer-Butts Foundation for a Better World. They love it. My guy in the White House said speed the photos down so they can send them out with a press release.
  • !35 ! Valerie OK, we won’t drown in beans, bit we still don’t have any money. ! ! ! Gumpston Yeah, but we may not need it. Just before I came over here I sent the White House my endorsement for Val. Told ‘em you were wonderful, Val. ! Valerie (coolly) How nice…Thank you. But why don’t we need the money? ! Gumpston Well, the administration took a lot of flack last term on taking forever to make appointments. So I think their ready to move real fast this time. ! Valerie Without money? ! Gumpston Yeah, but they don’t know it yet. I played on their fears. I gave ‘em nightmares, talked about bad press, stories about slow appointments, how we’re not serious about Europe any more, all that kind of stuff. See, I knew if we can get this done fast enough, we can get you to Denmark before Strummer realizes all he’s got is a pledge. And here’s the best part, I said if they don’t act fast they might lose you. That was the clincher. ! Valerie Lose me! I can’t believe it! Now, I’m some kind of prize. ! Gumpston You’re darn tootin’ you are! I made sure of that. And so they’re pushing your appointment through super quick. They sounded out the Danes, who don’t have any problem with it, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which says it won’t either. ! Valerie I would think not. Paul was on that committee. ! Gumpston Yeah, well, that was Paul. Some people down there say your experience is sort of… weakish. !
  • !36 Valerie (Offended) Who said that? ! ! Gumpston Some people in the White House, but I got all that fixed up real good. I told ‘em all again about all your great qualities. I told them you were the force behind Paul’s success. ! Valerie Well, God knows that’s true enough, until he got beaten anyway. ! Gumpston And I stressed again how you were completely at home with high-powered folks, even if they were foreigners, like a lot of them are likely to be overseas. ! Valerie I have entertained ambassadors, presidents, and prime ministers in my home. They ought to know that. ! Gumpston And above all, and this is the big, big item, I pounded home how you have been completely and totally involved in your local community. ! Valerie (Surprised) Oh, you did. Well...uh, that’s... interesting. ! Gumpston And emphasized the great work your foundation is doing locally and internationally. Told ‘em how you’re even giving your entire salary to help build the new gym. ! Valerie You told them that? They liked it? ! Gumpston They loved it. They said that can really make a difference, especially with how senators react to you. They’re going to put it in your nomination papers and in a press release. Goes out tomorrow with the bulldozer photo. ! And what about the State Department? ! Valerie
  • !37 Gumpston They don’t seem to come into it. ! Valerie That sounds right. (A pause. She brightens gradually.) So, what you’re telling me is, it’s done. It’s in the bag. ! Gumpston That’s exactly right. I am telling you that you are an ambassador, or as good as. ! Valerie I am an ambassador! I am ambassador to Denmark! ! Buzz Hey, cookie, is that great or what? ! Valerie (Half serious, half silly) Madam Ambassador would sound better. (Then she laughs and dances around the room. Then stops suddenly.) And what about Strummer? ! Gumpston If you say I said it, I’ll deny it, but Strummer is screwed. The whole thing is going too fast. No silver will cross his palm at all, or anyone else’s. From a politician’s point of view, it’s a real foul up because you’re going to be ambassador to Denmark before anyone realizes they didn’t get a payoff. ! Valerie (Starts dancing and laughing again.) I am Madam Ambassador, and Strummer is screwed; oh, God, life doesn’t get better than that. ! Gumpston Now, listen, they want you to be ready to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by the end of next week. ! Valerie Oh boy! I’m going to need new clothes and new luggage. ! Buzz
  • !38 Yeah, me, too. All I got is my old sea bag. ! Valerie (With a sharp change of attitude) Ah, uh, Buzz, that, I’m afraid, brings us back to what we we’re talking about earlier. ! Buzz What was that? Valerie (She is sounding ambassadorial already.) Well, Buzz, I don’t want to go into it all right here and now, but I mean that whole broad range of issues centered basically upon how exactly you can fit into diplomatic life, if indeed, you can. Do you see? ! Gumpston Oh, I’m sure he can. Anyway, he’s going to have to. Without him there’s no deal. Valerie (Alarmed) What!!? Gumpston That’s the really interesting part. The domestic advisor is setting things up so that when you go to Washington, Buzz should go along, too, and be there for everything--in the Senate and everywhere else. Buzz might even get a question from the Senators, and you’ll both have your pictures taken with the President. Is that neat, or what? I fixed it all up. ! Buzz Gumpston, that’s fantastic, absolutely fantastic, our pictures with the president. Amazing! ! But, but, what? Why? Valerie (Stunned) ! Gumpston The White House wants to stress that the government's getting a team, one with deep community concerns. Isn’t that great? ! Valerie (Aside)
  • !39 I’m chained to Godzilla. ! Gumpston Wait, that’s not all. ! Valerie (With muted sarcasm) How could there possibly be more? ! Gumpston There’s great news for Buzz, for when you get to Denmark. ! ! Valerie Lay it on me, I'm putty already. ! Gumpston See, in a couple years there will be Olympic games in Denmark. ! That’s interesting. Valerie (Expressionlessly) ! Gumpston Well, the White House thinks it would be really terrific if Buzz were the liaison with the Olympics Committee folks there. ! Buzz What? What? Say that again. ! Gumpston I swear it’s true. I pushed hard for it and got it. They want you to be our government’s liaison with the Olympics Committee. ! Buzz Holy mackerel!! Val, you hear that?? Me, a diplomat!! A leezeeon. Wow!! I never thought I’d grow up to be a leezeon. (He mimes receiving an Olympics trophy.) This special Olympic trophy goes to Buzz Butts, winner in the leezeeon category. (Then he gets second thoughts.) Hey, but you know what? I’m not goin’ be some fancy striped pants sort of dude, I’m goin’ a people’s leezeeon. !
  • !40 Valerie (Incredulously) Liaison to the Olympics? Buzz? Really? ! Gumpston Yeah, you bet. Listen, I used Buzz to really get things moving. See, I knew they were interested in him. And I told the domestic advisor and anybody else who would listen that he was on the verge of getting into a lot of pretty big stuff here, local and international, so they better darn well hurry things along if they want him because he isn’t going to be available too much longer. ! Valerie They want Buzz! Really? ! Buzz Could you say that in a happier voice? ! Valerie And that clinched it? ! Gumpston Yes ma’am. That was what put it over. ! Valerie Well, well, well. Gumpston Anyway, the President will mention all this, probably in the Rose Garden tomorrow or the next day…Oh, hey guys, one more thing. You’ve got to be careful when you get to Copenhagen. ! Valerie Careful, why? ! Gumpston There's a rumor that the Senate is going to launch an investigation of some kind. I don’t know any more than that yet. It will try to show that the party is cleaning itself up. ! Valerie That will be a challenge. ! Gumpston And the word on the street is that they might go overseas, but I don't know where yet.
  • !41 Everyone figures, though, that they’ll be rough here and there to show that it's not all just a whitewash. ! Valerie The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. It sure doesn’t take him long anymore does it? ! ! ! ! ! [Act I Curtain]
  • !42 ! Act II ! ! ! ! (The action takes place in the ambassador’s office in the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen.) Scene 1 Valerie (Talking in an intercom to her secretary, Linda) Linda, I want a country team meeting at three this afternoon, and get me all the political section reports on NATO preparedness, and I also want to talk to Sam Stevenson about the exports thing as soon as you can get him, OK? …Thanks. And if you can find Buzz, send him in here at once…He’s there. Good. Send him in. ! Buzz (Enters) Hey, what’s up? ! Valerie (Seething) You made the morning papers. Congratulations. Have you seen this? (Throws a newspaper at him) ! Buzz Uh, uh, (Laughs nervously) uh, well, uh yeah. ! Valerie That, my darling, is a picture of you. (She stabs it with a letter opener.) Nobody knows that but me, at least I hope not. A picture of you from the back. ! Buzz Uh, yeah, uh no, I mean, how do you know? ! Valerie Because, damn it, I know what you look like from the back, and even if I didn’t I would recognize that ridiculous jacket. ! Buzz
  • !43 Yeah, well, yeah, uh, it does look a lot like mine. ! ! Valerie Yes, doesn’t it, and that looks remarkably like your hand, doesn’t it, planted firmly on the ass of that blonde bitch who is described as the daughter of the Minister of Sport and Recreation--appropriately enough. I thought you were at a meeting of the Olympics Committee. ! Buzz I was. ! Valerie In Tivoli Park!!? ! Buzz Oh, now, Val, hey, we was just takin’ a walk after the meeting. You know, gettin’ some air and stuff. ! Valerie Oh sure, and you were just pushing her along so you could get home sooner. ! Buzz Hey, my hand slipped. What can I say? ! Valerie (Very angry) Just about anything apparently. Damn it, Buzz, I hoped you had given up that stuff, or at least given it a rest. You don’t want a divorce; well why the hell not? You want to be here with me; well, why is that—to have a nice marital base while you play Olympic grab-ass? ! Buzz Oh, Val, for Christ’s sake, take it easy. ! Valerie I won’t take it easy. Either you be my husband or get out. And I haven’t even mentioned the political fall-out from this. ! Buzz Oh, come on. There ain’t gonna be no political issue. !
  • !44 Valerie (With angry irony) Oh, no! U.S. ambassador’s husband gropes high official’s daughter in park. What tabloid would ever want a story like that? Now, listen to me; this damned story makes a meal out of that jacket. “Who Is the Mystery Man in the Splendid Jacket?” ! ! Buzz Jeez, our publicity jackets! ! Valerie That’s right. They certainly got publicity this time. Your name is on that thing, isn’t it? ! Buzz Well, uh, yeah, yeah, it is. See, we had each guy’s name…. ! Valerie Alright, now look, you know where the embassy incinerator is, don’t you? ! Buzz Yeah, sure. ! Valerie Good. Get that jacket right now and throw it into the incinerator, do you understand? Don’t hide it, don’t bury it, burn it. I don’t want there to be a trace of it by tomorrow. ! Buzz Oh, uh, well, gosh, uh, yeah. ! Valerie Buzz, what is the matter? ! Buzz Well, like, the thing is, uh I don’t have the jacket right now. ! Where * is * the * jacket, * Buzz!!? Valerie ! Buzz Well, see, it’s like Kirsten got chilly... ! Kirsten!! The vixen in the photograph? Valerie
  • !45 ! Buzz Yeah, and I let her take it home. ! Valerie Or you forgot it in her apartment. ! Buzz Oh, now, no, no, come on, there was nothin’ like that. ! Valerie (To Linda) Linda, get the Olympics Committee right away. Buzz wants to talk to a Miss Kirsten Soyessen. He needs to speak to her right away. (To Buzz) Buzz, you get that jacket from her at once. Then destroy it, do you hear me? Let me know the minute you have it. ! Buzz OK, alright, I’ll get it tonight when Kirsten gets home. ! Valerie Sooner, tell her you’ll go get it, wherever it is.....I’ll tell you, you have a terrible sense of timing. ! Buzz Why? What’s goin’ on? ! Valerie Remember Gumpston told us to be careful? ! Buzz (Gets his phone connection.) Hey wait, Val…Yeah, yeah. Gone for the afternoon! Please ask her to call the U.S. Ambassador’s office as soon as she gets home. Thank you ! Valerie I just got a message from the State Department saying rumors are going around that a committee to investigate propriety in government is shaping up in the Senate. That’s what Gumpston was talking about. ! Buzz What in government? ! Valerie
  • !46 (Patiently from here on) Propriety. That means good behavior--for example, not feeling up ministers’ daughters on taxpayers’ time. ! Buzz They’re going to investigate that? Why the hell do they care? ! Valerie Because it is not exactly what the government pays you to do. ! Buzz Hey, maybe they ain’t thinkin’ about overseas, you know what I mean? ! Valerie Buzz, if they do it at all, they’ll come overseas, at least to the nice places, depend on it. ! Buzz What the hell are they going to find? ! Valerie Plenty. There’s as much hanky-panky overseas as there is in Washington, it’s just that nobody back home cares. Paul knew about stuff that would make Clinton blush, but he... (Phone rings. Valerie answers.) Hello...Yes, he’s here....Buzz, it’s for you. ! Buzz Hello....Hey, Gumps, how in the hell are you?...Yeah, great, it’s good to hear from you, guy, it really is....Yeah....Yeah....Yeah, we were just talkin' about that....Yeah....So it’s really gonna happen....Wow....OK, well, keep me posted, will ya?... Oh yeah, I’ll tell her; I’m in her office right now.....So long, Gumps. ! Valerie What was that all about? ! Buzz That was Gumpston. God, you could have knocked me over with... ! Valerie (With patient exasperation) Buzz!! ! The Senate thing......It’s gonna happen…. Buzz
  • !47 ! Valerie Buzz, could you please start a narrative flow? ! Buzz Senator Hoopentacker is leadin’ this thing, and Gumpston is now working full-time for him. He says he don’t know yet if they’re comin’ overseas or not. ! Valerie (With bitter resignation) Well, I do. They’ll come during the Senate recess. Be prepared. And they’ll find lots that’s wrong, or else everyone will say that their trip was just a junket, which, of course, it will be....(Her phone rings)….. Buzz, it’s your chickadee. (She hands him the phone.) ! ! Buzz Hello, Kirsten, how are you?....Uh, yeah, yeah, I did, too....Yeah, it really was, yeah, but uh, Kirsten, look, I’m here in the ambassador’s office....Yeah, yeah, we saw it....I explained to her how it was all a mistake, an accident....Yeah, but I really need that jacket right away....You what!!?...You can’t find it!!....Oh my God!!....Where did you leave it?....Oh no, no!! Oh my God!! ! Valerie OH, MY GOD!! ! Buzz OK, Kirsten, look everywhere. We’ve absolutely got to find it....OK, I’ll talk to you later. (To Valerie) Yesterday she left it in her front hall closet. Today they had a luncheon. After the luncheon it was gone. ! Valerie (Hysterical) Gone! GONE!! And with your name emblazoned all over it. Buzz, we are road kill, road kill. ! Buzz Hey, Val, Val, relax, we’ll get it. ! Hello....yes, just a moment. (The phone rings.) Valerie
  • !48 (To Buzz) It’s for you. ! Buzz Hello....Hey, Gumpston, twice in one day. This is quite a surprise....Oh yeah, sure, I’ll keep it quiet....Strummer....Oh really...Wow!...Hang on a minute, Gumps. (To Valerie) Strummer has been named to head up Hoopentacker’s overseas investigation staff. (Valerie collapses on her desk.) Gumpston says he just accepted. It ain’t public yet so we got to keep quiet about it. ! Valerie (Springs up and grabs the phone.) Gumpston, are you sure about this...I see. They’re coming here.... Yes, of course, the State Department will let me know, probably the day after they arrive.... Thank you, Goodbye. ! ! Buzz Strummer! Jaysus! ! Valerie Yes, Strummer. ! Buzz Hey, you don't think this is all just to get us, do you? ! Valerie No, it's to pre-empt the Democrats, but as long as they're at it, Strummer is sure as hell going to try to get us. He'll swagger around the world, screw us along the way, and end up Attorney General. And by then, if we're not in jail, we'll wish we were. ! Buzz Hey, we better get a strategy. ! End Scene !
  • !49 ! ! Scene 2 Buzz I had Kirsten look everywhere. I’m tellin’ you she turned their place inside out. It just ain’t there. ! Valerie What about the guests? Someone could have taken it by mistake. ! Buzz She called ‘em all. No one has it. ! Oh, God! Valerie ! Buzz Well, look, either someone has it by mistake and doesn’t know it yet, or someone stole it. If it’s a mistake, it’ll be returned. ! Valerie After the story spreads all over Denmark, and what if it’s stolen. How can we…. (Valerie’s phone rings.) Yes, Linda....Who? …She’s here!?…Just a minute. (To Buzz) Do you know a Greta from the minister’s residence? ! Buzz (In a not totally convincing way) Might have seen her once or twice. ! Valerie (With sweet tones over venom) Well, darling, she says she knows you…and she’s here. ! Buzz What!!? She’s here!! ! Yes. ! Valerie (Sweetly)
  • !50 Buzz What? Why? ! Valerie Well, let’s call her in and ask her, shall we?…Linda, send in this Greta, please. (Greta enters, trying hard not to be awed by the circumstances. She makes a sly little wave to Buzz.) How do you? Please be seated. ! Greta Thank you. ! Valerie How can I help you? ! Greta I used to work at the residence of the Minister of … ! Valerie Yes, we know. ! Buzz Hey, you say you used to. You mean you don’t no more? ! Zip Greta No. I was…released. ! Buzz Jeez, why? When? ! Greta Yesterday. They say I stole things. They lie. Anyway, they have so much, why shouldn’t I? ! Valerie Miss…uh, Greta, I ask you again, how can I help you? ! Greta Did you see the piece in the Dagblat this morning about the minister’s daughter and the jacket? !
  • !51 Valerie I think I saw something like that. A silly piece, I didn’t pay it much attention. ! Greta Oh, really. That’s hard to believe. Surely you recognized your husband’s jacket. ! Valerie I don’t recall. Why should I? ! Greta It’s striking, and it has your husband’s name on it. ! Valerie (Glaring at Buzz then talking to Greta) How do you know? ! Greta They say I steal. No. I borrowed a few things, including your husband’s jacket, although they don’t know that. ! Buzz Jeez! What!!? ! Valerie You have the jacket? ! Greta I do. ! Valerie Give it to me. ! Greta Ah, perhaps I shall. How badly do you want it? ! Valerie (Fiercely) Don’t you dare play games with me. What do you want? ! Money. ! Greta
  • !52 Valerie Of course! How much? ! Ten thousand dollars. Greta ! Valerie What!!? ! Buzz Hey, good. We can get it back. That was easier than I thought. ! Valerie Oh, was it? Well, maybe you have ten thousand dollars handy, I don’t. Remember I’m giving my salary to that vile Gumpston for that ridiculous gymnasium. Any ideas? ! Buzz (Aside) Bargain, haggle. Offer her half at the most. ! Valerie (To Greta) Now look, we can’t possibly come up with that kind of money. ! Greta I’ve heard the minister say all American ambassadors who serve here have to be rich. ! Valerie Well, he’s wrong. Look, I shouldn’t give you a thing, but maybe I can come up with five thousand. ! Greta Nonsense, ten. ! Valerie Seven and a half. That’s absolutely the best I can do. ! Greta (After thinking for a few moments) Well, OK. ! Valerie But you’ll have to wait a day or two. I don’t have it in my purse, believe it or not.
  • !53 ! Greta Hmm, how do I know I can trust you? ! Valerie What’s to trust? If you don’t get the money, we don’t get the jacket. Now look, next Thursday at noon, my husband will meet you in Tivoli Park with the money. Dollars or Kroner? ! Greta Kroner will be fine. ! Valerie Now, Greta, this has been very easy for you, but I want you to understand that if you try to do anything more, things could suddenly get very difficult for you. Do you understand? ! Greta Well, no, not exactly. ! Valerie I mean if you get tricky, decide you need more money or decide after you hand over the jacket to tell your story to the press… ! Greta Oh, I would never do such a thing. ! Valerie Well, probably not. I can tell you’re a very upright sort of a person. But if you should even dream of such a thing, you should know that I have ways of getting stories around about people, nasty stories. Do you understand me? ! Greta (Worried) Maybe. ! Valerie Well, just let me say that unless you hand over the jacket and then forget all about it, you’ll soon be known as Denmark’s champion molester of farm animals. Nobody will let you near their pets, much less their children…Well, I think we’re done here. Goodbye. ! Greta I will see you then next Thursday, Herr Buzz.
  • !54 ! Buzz Yeah, see ya. ! (Greta exits) Valerie Now, the moment you get that jacket come straight back here and give it to me. I intend personally to throw it into the incinerator. ! Buzz OK, OK. ! ! Valerie Oh, and, Buzz, one more thing. (beat) Don’t put your hand on her ass. ! ! End Scene !
  • !55 Scene 3 ! ! Buzz (Barging into Valerie’s office) God dag, god dag, vordan har du det?. That’s Danish. It means, “Hi. What’s up?” ! Valerie Could you please knock when you come in. ! Buzz Oh, sorry, I thought I was special. ! Valerie Oh, yes, of course you are…especially with that preposterous thing on your head. Where did you get it? ! Buzz Hey, it’s a student’s cap, but older guys wear ‘em, too. university. Neat, huh? I got it at a shop near the ! Valerie You get around at a worrisome rate. May I help you with something? ! Buzz I just had a word with Gumpston. Hoopentacker is definitely comin’ to Copenhagen. The State Department will be confirming that one of these days. ! Valerie Strummer, too, of course. ! Buzz But like what can he really do? ! Valerie He’ll find things. I don’t know what . . . inconsistencies, irregularities. ! Buzz Hey, come on, you run a tight ship. ! Valerie I can’t keep you on a tight leash. The thing is, any investigator with a motive can find cockups in any organization. If he’s really good he can cause them. And Strummer is
  • !56 good, and he certainly has a motive. ! ! Buzz You mean like we sort of conned him? ! Valerie Exactly, and probably made him look silly, which can be the worst thing of all in Washington. ! Buzz Yeah, well, let’s hope for the best....You know Gumpston said somethin’ interesting. He said when Hoopentacker travels, he likes to have “attractive people” around him. ! Valerie “Attractive people?” Hmm. Odd thing to say. ! ! Buzz Yeah. He said he’ll clarify when things are firmer. ! Valerie OK. Now look, my broker will wire the money this afternoon to our account. Tomorrow, get the Kroner and give it to that beastly girl. And remember, behave yourself. ! Buzz Hey, come on, now. You’re making me out like I’m some kind of predator or danger on the streets, you know what I’m saying? ! Valerie Aren’t you? ! Buzz You know better than that! ! Valerie Then why are we in this mess? ! Buzz Because, OK, maybe once I made a little slip. Maybe I got a little too carried away and got kinda friendly with someone for a minute or two. ! Valerie
  • !57 Once! That was just when a photographer caught you--the tip of the iceberg. You know her maid’s first name, for lord’s sake. You don’t learn that from one walk in Tivoli. ! Buzz Hey, I have to call her house--to talk to Kirsten about meetings and stuff, or sometimes to talk to her dad. On the days Greta is there, she answers. I’m a friendly guy. I ask her name. That’s the way I am. Can I help it? ! Valerie Don’t add insult to injury, Buzz. ! Buzz Well, OK, OK, maybe I’m having a flirtation with someone. What the hell is that to you? ! Valerie What is it to me!!? Shall we talk professionally or personally. It hurts both ways. ! Buzz Whichever you like? ! Valerie Well, professionally, it could cause a scandal. The American ambassador’s spouse having it off in public with a minister’s daughter. Washington won’t find that very amusing. ! Buzz OK, OK, I was dumb. I was careless. It won’t happen again. ! Valerie You mean you’ll still have your affair, but you’ll use better judgment about it. ! Buzz No. I mean I’m ain’t havin’ no affair, and I’ll use better judgment about it. ! Valerie But there’s more. There’s the personal side: Buzz, you are my husband, and ambassador or not, no woman likes being cheated on. ! Buzz Hey, now, whoa, whoa. Stop right there! I’m your husband because the government thought it would be neat to have us both here in embassy jobs, and you didn’t want to argue about it and risk losing your appointment. Remember you were asking for a divorce every time there was a lull in the conversation.
  • !58 ! Valerie Well, maybe I didn’t really mean it. Did you ever think of that? ! Buzz Yeah, I did, but you gotta admit a funny way to say “I love you.” What’s hurt now is your ego. If I swore I’d never look at anyone for the rest of my life, can you tell me you wouldn't ask for a divorce the minute we got out of here? (Silence for a moment) ! Valerie OK, we’ve both got work to do. Get the money and get the jacket and be careful. (Buzz exits.) Ego!....Well, maybe....No, no, I wouldn't. Buzz, no....Oh, where the hell is he? ! ! End scene !
  • !59 ! Scene 4 ! Buzz Hey, Val, godmorgen. Guess what I just heard from Gumpston...They’ll be here tomorrow, Hoopentacker and company. You heard anything from the State Department? ! Valerie A message just in. It says a committee definitely is being formed to investigate propriety in government and may have an overseas element. ! Buzz Hey, that’s good; those guys are improving. Well, the delegation arrives on a United flight at 1:05 in the afternoon. Hoopentacker don’t want to stay at the ambassador’s residence. He wants to stay in a hotel. ! Valerie Good. ! Buzz He says he can work closer with his staff that way. ! Valerie He’s right. ! Buzz Excuse my ignorance but who's the boss here, Strummer or Hoopentacker? ! Valerie Hoopentacker, but Strummer is staff director, day-to-day honcho. Powerful, dangerous. Building credits to become Attorney General next year. He will kill before he'll let anything go seriously wrong with this investigation. ! Buzz So how can we make somethin' go wrong? ! Valerie I wish I knew. I feel like a rabbit in a python's cage. ! Buzz We'll think of something. Oh, one more thing about Hoopentaker, the day he arrives he wants to have somethin’ he calls “staff time” until our reception for him at seven. !
  • !60 Valerie That means lying on his butt. (Snorts) “Staff time”!! Why is everyone in the government so afraid to say they rest? ! Buzz I ain’t so sure rest is all he got in mind. ! Valerie Oh, go on. ! Buzz Gumpston talked a little more about “attractive people.” ! Valerie Ohhh. I think I’m beginning to understand. When would he like to meet an . . . attractive person? ! Buzz Not just one attractive person. Gumpston thought two would make a better welcoming committee, at about three o’clock. ! Valerie Alright, well, I think I’ll leave you in charge of this one, Buzz. It seems right up your alley. Talk to the boys on the third floor. I’m sure they have the right contacts. ! Buzz OK, no problem. Two good-lookers comin’ up. ! Valerie By the way, who is supposed to pay for this? Copenhagen is a very expensive city, especially for personal services. ! Buzz Oh, yeah. According to Gumpston, Strummer says you gotta take it out of your personal contingency fund. Call it something like entertaining community leaders durin’ the senator’s visit. Oh, and don’t say nuttin about that to the Senator. ! Valerie Oh, never, not to the distinguished fornicator from Illinois. I wonder who he thinks is arranging all this, the tooth fairy. ! Buzz Guys like him don’t worry about that stuff. It gets done for ‘em. They never know
  • !61 who….Hey, you know what? I think I got the germ of an idea. ! Valerie Oh, really. Some way to vaporize Hoopentacker, I hope. ! ! Buzz Yeah, I think so. I got the idea from a spy movie I saw once. I’ll float it past Joe and his shady crew on the third floor. If it looks like we can pull it off, I’ll tell you all about it. ! Buzz, tell me right now. Valerie ! Buzz No. I’m afraid you’ll laugh. ! Valerie Oh, alright, do it your way. But don’t you dare do anything, and I mean anything, until you have cleared it with me, and that goes for Joe, too. ! Buzz Don’t worry, I won’t; neither will Joe. I’ll tell him if he slips up, he’ll end up in central Nebraska watching for space aliens. (Buzz exits.) ! ! End Scene !
  • !62 ! ! ! Scene 5 (Late the next afternoon) Buzz (Bursting into Valerie's office) Hey, Val, what's happenin' (Valerie is startled) ! Valerie I wish you’d knock. I met them at the airport and took them to their hotel. And you have made a small ripple in Senate circles. You should be proud of yourself. ! Buzz Me? ! Valerie Well, you're still anonymous--the man in the jacket--but I'm not sure that can last long. ! Buzz How the hell do they know anything about that? ! Valerie Well, getting your picture in a metropolitan newspaper, darling, could have something to do with it. ! Buzz You're tellin' me they're readin' Danish newspapers. ! Valerie Recent back issues, yes, to help them get some local background. Hoopentacker recognized the jacket. He loved the one the President's domestic adviser gave him. And then, with Strummer grinning from ear to ear, he asked me if that was you in the picture. ! Buzz Holy Mother, what did you tell him? ! Valerie I lied, of course. "Oh, ha, ha, ha, no, no, not my Buzzer, oh, no"....I said, you brought some jackets with you to give to sports contacts. "Oh, and they love them," I said, lying in my teeth and damning your eyes. !
  • !63 Buzz Do you think they believed you? ! ! Valerie Hoopentaker, probably. Frankly, I don't think he gives a damn. He just asked where Tivoli Park was. But Strummer may smell a rat. He said he wanted to talk to you very soon about your work here. That ought to be fun. ! Buzz Oh, well, I can handle that. ! Valerie Oh, really? I wish I was that confident. Anyway, if your plans work out we won’t have to worry. But what is happening? Why haven’t we heard anything? Buzz, call Joe and see if he knows anything. ! Buzz Yeah, OK. (He dials.) Hey, Joe, this is Buzz. What’s goin’ on? Why haven’t we had an explosion yet? Did you do your stuff or what?…Oh yeah. Well, listen… (Here, Strummer breaks into Valerie’s office.) ! Strummer Alright, lady, what the hell kind of show are you running here, dammit!! ! Valerie Leon, what in the world… ! Strummer Who’s he (referring to Buzz)? ! Valerie This is Buzz, my husband. Buzz, this… ! Strummer (To Valerie) Get him out of here. (To Buzz) Scram. (To Valerie) We got to do something very fast. ! Buzz Hey, Val, who is this creep? Is this that Strummer character? !
  • !64 Valerie Yes. Uh, could you leave us for a little while, darling? ! Buzz Yeah, if you want. You gonna be OK with this guy? ! Valerie Yes, I will. ! Strummer And close the door. ! Valerie Leon, that’s enough orders for the moment. This is my office. Now, what’s the problem? ! Strummer It’s a damn serious problem with the delegation, and you’re going to have to move your butt pretty fast to fix it, lady. ! Valerie Leon, I do not like that tone. Now, I suggest that you calm down and start making sense. ! Strummer Staff time! Remember that? Well, the Senator was having a little staff time like I told you he would. ! Valerie I remember. ! Strummer And he had some people in his suite. ! Valerie Staff members, I presume ! Strummer No, Danes. ! Valerie Oh! My, he does make friends quickly, doesn’t he? ! Now, look, dammit, they were women. Strummer
  • !65 ! Valerie Oh, were they friends of the family? ! Strummer No, not goddamn friends of the family! Didn’t you arrange for them to be there? ! Valerie Of course not, Leon. What an odd idea. ! Strummer Well, someone in this embassy did. ! Valerie Well, Leon, what is the problem? ! Strummer Look, Valerie, they were not appropriately dressed for official duty, let’s say. ! Valerie Oh, well, staff time is a relaxed occasion, isn’t it? ! Strummer Not that relaxed, goddammit. Then this goddamned, son of a … ! Valerie Leon, stop that language! ! Strummer This god…This photographer pops in unannounced and starts taking pictures. ! Valerie Oh, dear, I think I’m beginning to see the dimensions of this. ! Strummer Well, it’s about time. ! Valerie Don’t be rude, Leon. I’m trying to help. Now, tell me, were the Senator and his friends, uh, significantly undressed, would you say? ! Strummer They were about as significantly undressed as you can get?
  • !66 ! Valerie All of them!? Well, well, staff time certainly sounds exciting among the propriety in government crowd…Why did you wait so long to tell me? ! Strummer Nobody told me. Hoopentacker’s people are more clannish than the Kennedys. They circled the wagons and sucked their thumbs for over an hour. Then they finally decided they better tell me so I could do something. ! Valerie What will you do? ! Strummer I’m not going to do anything; you are. ! Valerie I admire your command voice, Leon. Alright, now look, did the photographer say anything? ! Strummer Of course, he goddamned did, he… ! Valerie Leon!! Language!! ! Strummer He said he wanted fifty thousand dollars. ! Valerie FIFTY THOUSAND!!!! ! Strummer Yeah, and he left his card. ! Valerie Well, suppose you tell him just to buzz off. ! Strummer Then he goes to every TV station and newspaper in town this afternoon. ! Valerie Well, Leon, this is a terrible mess, but I certainly don’t have fifty thousand anywhere in
  • !67 my budget. ! Strummer Oh, come on, you’ve got to have money around here somewhere. Cut something. Fire somebody. This is damned important. This is a United States Senate Commission, after all—the greatest power in the world. We’re not going to be pushed around by some raggedy-assed… ! Valerie Yes, yes, don’t lecture me, Leon. ! Strummer Well, dammit, you’ve got a duty to democracy to do something. ! Valerie And please don’t take a high moral tone, especially under the circumstances. Give me the man’s card…Hmm, don’t recognize his name; maybe my press attaché will. Just a moment. (She goes to Linda’s office, any designated area of the stage, where Buzz waits.) ! (To Buzz) Look, I’m going to place a call to my press attaché—that’s you. Your name is Sam. ! Buzz OK. Hey, before you go back, maybe you want to see these. They’re the photos. One of Joe’s guys just dropped ‘em off. Enjoy. ! Valerie (Self-righteously) I don’t want to see them. (Then she snatches the envelope. Hesitates, then opens it.) My God, Very athletic, isn’t he?… It’s hard to know if you have some of these right side up or not….Well, I better get back to Strummer. (She returns to her office.) ! Strummer Where the hell did you go, back to Washington for instructions? ! Valerie Leon!! I don’t like that language or that tone. You’ve gotten even ruder over the years, darling.
  • !68 ! Strummer What is happening? ! Valerie My press man was out of his office. They are tracking him down. I told them to have him call me at once. (Buzz picks up his phone and listens.) ! Strummer Well, let me tell you something, he’d better… (Phone rings.) ! Valerie Oh, yes, put him on. (It is Buzz, whom we can see) Sam, I asked Buzz a moment ago to fill you in on the Hoopentaker crisis. I hope you’re up to speed on it. ! Buzz Oh, yes ma’am. This is one terrible international crisis that could shake civilization. No doubt of that. ! Valerie Alright, now look. I intend to call that despicable photographer. Do you have any thoughts about how to approach him? ! Buzz Yeah, from the back. Grab him by the crotch and tell him you love him. ! Valerie Thank you, Sam, that’s helpful. Look, get him on the line, will you? ! Buzz Yeah, yeah, sure thing. I’ll get right on that. ! Valerie (Phone rings.) Yes…Hi, Sam…Is he on?…Good., stay on line two, Sam....Hello, Herr Johansen, this is Ambassador Butts about the business at the hotel. Now, look, your demands are absolutely ridiculous. We are not going to give in to blackmail. !
  • !69 Buzz Oh, yeah! Well, then I’m going to put his face, and his butt, in every newspaper in town, some of which you wouldn’t housetrain your dog on. ! Valerie Now settle down. There’s no need to threaten. ! Buzz Hey, you’re cute when you’re angry, you know that? ! Valerie And don’t be a smart-Alec with me. I could call the police about this. ! Buzz Oh yeah, and Hoopentacker would be a porn star by tomorrow evening. ! Valerie Alright, alright, you’ve got us in a tight spot, but talk reason. ! Buzz Hey, I’m tryin’, but you know sometimes that can be hard for me. ! Valerie Sam, are you there? ! Buzz (Changing his voice) No, actually I’m out walkin’ the dog. ! Valerie Good. What do you think? ! Buzz I think Hoopentacker’s a sleaze bag what ought to keep his pants zipped. ! Valerie I see. That’s interesting. Well, suppose the delegation left town. Wouldn’t that pretty well deflate this thing? ! That would be Christmas come early. ! Buzz
  • !70 Valerie Look, Herr Johansen, I want you to talk to Sam. He’s got some thoughts about this that I think are pretty good. Sam, please talk to Johansen on line one. (To Strummer) Leon, as you know, we have a real problem here. ! Strummer No, you’ve got a problem, lady, and I want it fixed. ! Valerie Wrong, Leon. You and Hoopentacker have a problem. It was caused by his preposterous behavior overseas and your totally inadequate security precautions. Now, I think I can fix things, but you won’t like everything you’ll have to do. ! Strummer What things? ! Valerie First of all, the delegation must get out of town tonight. ! Strummer What!!!? Are you completely out of your mind? ! Valerie No, Leon, I’m not. With Hoopentacker here, that guy can sell those photos for top dollar to TV stations, newspapers, and magazines all over town. He figures there’s a good 100 thousand in it by tomorrow morning. (To Buzz) Sam, are you there? Put Mr. Johansen on hold for a moment. Okay, now, look, I told Mr. Strummer that this photographer can make at least100 thousand dollars if they stay. Is that right? ! Buzz Oh you bet. That is a very accurate estimation. ! Valerie How little can we get away with if they leave? ! Buzz Hey, you are askin’ me some real tough questions today, you know that. But what I want to know is—is Strummer screwed, I mean really super-screwed? ! Valerie I think so. OK, thanks, Sam. Stay on the line. (To Strummer) Leon, it’s going to cost you 25-thousand dollars, and you have to go. !
  • !71 Strummer Are you completely out of your mind? That’s totally outrageous! ! Valerie On the contrary, darling, considering the mess you all have made, it is an amazing bargain. ! Strummer God Almighty, I wish someone would explain to me why the world’s only superpower has to take this crap from some local jerk. Don’t you have someone who can take care of him? ! Valerie What on earth do you mean? ! Strummer I mean zap him. ! Valerie (Shocked) Leon!!! Not in Scandinavia! ! Strummer If we leave what the hell are we going to say back home? ! Valerie Oh, that’s easy—prominent member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urgently called home to help deal with some crisis—say, the Middle East, there’s always a crisis there. ! Strummer So he’s really got us by the short hairs. Damn him! Well, Ok, pay the man. ! Valerie Me? Oh no, Leon. I have no funds for that. You know how Congress is starving diplomatic missions. If it doesn’t come out of Senate funds, Hoopentacker’s bottom will soon be more famous than his face…Now, just a minute, I’ll ask Sam how you should send the money. Sam, how should Mr. Strummer get the 25-thousand to the photographer. ! Huh? Do what? How the hell do I know? ! Buzz
  • !72 Valerie Sam says wire it to the embassy this afternoon…Now, darling, there’s one more thing. Sam had to promise this guy a year of graduate work in photojournalism at Columbia. ! Strummer Oh, for Christ’s sake, what kind of a con is this? Whose side are you on anyway? ! Valerie Leon, for heaven’s sake, relax. It’s a very small price to pay to get this guy to be reasonable. Put a good spin on it. Call it the Hoopentacker Scholarship in Public Affairs. Now, look, I’m sorry, Leon, but I must get cracking. I need to cancel tonight’s reception and get started on a press release about Hoopentacker. ! Strummer I want to see that before it goes out. ! Valerie No, no, Leon, there won’t be time for approvals; you’ll have to trust us. Oh, I am sorry about all this, but cheer up, Leon; you’ll still be a successful lawyer. Still, I wish you could have hung around. Buzz would have taken you to Tivoli, he knows it like the palm of his hand....Well, bye, bye, darling. ! Strummer Shit!! (He exits.) ! ! ! ! Buzz (Hangs up his phone and enters Valerie’s office) You played the part beautifully. ! Valerie Thank you, darling. So did you. ! Buzz Oh, hey, we’ve got to cancel that reception. ! No, not really. ! Valerie
  • !73 Buzz You’re going to hold it? ! Valerie No, no. I never planned it once I heard your brilliant scheme. ! Buzz Mother of the Lord, you never arranged no reception? ! Valerie No, never. ! Buzz Amazing. You must have iron gonies. Well, we better get crackin’ on those press releases. ! Valerie Oh, they’ve all been distributed already. What we need to do now is the bookkeeping. ! Buzz The releases are out!! You’re kidding me. ! Valerie The media folks should be reading them right about now. So, let’s get to the numbers. ! Buzz Well, we owe seven and half thousand to Greta what’s-her-name. ! The witch! Valerie ! Buzz Listen, I got an idea. You remember you were worried somebody should find out you paid that seven and a half thou, and they might wonder why. ! Valerie Yes, it’s still possible in some damn investigation or other. ! Buzz Well, when I meet Greta the Bad down in the park, I’ll have her give me a receipt for caterin' services. It’s not her fault the reception was called off. ! Catering? Valerie
  • !74 ! Buzz Hey, she’s in the food-servin’ business, ain’t she? ! Valerie (There is a slight pause while Valerie takes this in.) Very nice, Buzz, very nice indeed! You’ll make a first-class diplomat yet. ! Buzz Yeah, I think I’m gettin’ the hang of it….And we owe two grand for the women from the escort service. ! Valerie Two thousand!! ! Buzz Well, you saw the kind of skills they got. Then, there’s five hundred for the photographer. ! Valerie That makes ten even. ! Buzz Yeah. ! Valerie So when Strummer sends his twenty-five we will end up with fifteen thousand to the good. Great! We can use that to improve contacts with Danes. ! Yeah, darn good idea. Buzz ! Valerie Not you, my friend, you don’t need any help. ! Buzz Hey, you know somethin’, we’re heroes. We found a way to get Congress finally to support diplomacy instead of just the military. ! Valerie That’s right, we did, even cultural exchanges; remember the Hoopentacker scholarship. I didn’t think they’d ever see the importance of cultural exchanges.
  • !75 ! Buzz Yeah. You know, we really done a whale of a service to our country. ! Valerie I must say, you have hidden qualities I could never have suspected. ! Buzz Thank you. Would you like me to be your private study project? ! Valerie Well, I just might, especially for rainy weekends and cold winter evenings. But now do you know what I think we should do? ! Buzz (Warily) No, but let’s keep it simple, OK? ! ! Valerie Summer is so short up here, I think we should take a really long week-end and go on a nice Baltic cruise, sort of for old time’s sake. ! Buzz Hey, darned good idea. Heck, we earned it. It'll be sort of a second honeymoon. ! Valerie Exactly. ! Buzz And we can plan the divorce. ! Valerie Well, we"ll see. We may have a pretty full program without that. ! ! Buzz Oh yeah? Good! Just remember I ain't quite as fit as Hoopentacker. ! ! ! Curtain