Jamal the Reliant: a 10 minute play by Tim West

Jamal pic 

LIGHTS UP on FARHOUD and JAMAL as father and son study together from an assortment of study guides.  FARHOUD reads verbal analogies from the study guide. JAMAL looks miserable.

                                                                                FATHER:

Okay: “Order – Orange is to fruit as carrot is to…”

                                                                                SON:

L’arif. [I don’t know.]

                                                                                FATHER:

English.  

                                                                                SON:

I don’t know.

                                                                                FATHER:

S.A.T.  is in English. Critical Thinking part is in English.

                                                                                SON:

Humdilah!  Orange and carrot. Color same. Is orange?

                                                                                FATHER:

No, vegetable. Orange is fruit, carrot vegetable. Try again: “Degree – clever is to crafty as cautious is to…”

                                                                                SON:

Dan a’mutad. [I’m tired.]

                                                                                FATHER:

Tired? You sleep when you are in Dartmouth.

                                                                                SON:

“At Dartmouth.” Anyway, I want go Brown.

                                                                                FATHER: (disdainful)

Brown?

                                                                                SON:

Dartmouth is fallback.

                                                                                FATHER:

You don’t go any place, you don’t make good score with S.A.T.  I don’t pay for state school.

                                                                                SON:

Berkeley is state school.

                                                                                FATHER:

East Coast, I keep my eye on you. West Coast, is all drugs and faggots. “Degree—“

                                                                                SON:

Hada ho a’hebi. [This is stupid.]

                                                                                FATHER:

English.

                                                                                SON:

This is stupid.

                                                                          (Faroud raps Jamal’s hand with a pencil.

                                                                                FATHER:

Careful. “Clever is to crafty as cautious is to careful.”

 

                                                                         (Faroud raps Jamal’s hand again, harder.)

 

                                                                                SON:

Ow! L’arif. L’arif! Dan a’mutad. L’arif!

                                                                                (FATHER sighs heavily.)

                                                                                FATHER:

Humdilah! “Opposites – zenith is to nadir as proximate is to…?”

                                                                                SON

Remote.

                                                                                (FATHER beams: It is correct)

I memorize.

                                                                                (FATHER only slightly disappointed)

But what means zenith, nadir and proximate?

                                                                                (FATHER, deflated, searches the study guide)

                                                                                FATHER:

You memorize all? “Part and Whole… Steps in Process… Cause/Effect… Thing and Lacking…”

 Okay! “Steps in Process – Application is to submission as submission is to…

                                                                                SON:

Acceptance.

                                                                                FATHER:

Good.

                                                                                SON:

I memorize.

                                                                                FATHER:

Again: “Atheist is to belief as ignorance is to…

                                                                                SON:

Understanding. What means ignorance?

                                                                                FATHER:

Doesn’t important.  Now we look at Writing Part.

                                                                                (JAMAL leans back confidently.)

                                                                                SON:

Writing Part, I good.

                                                                                (Farhoud leans into him a little.)

                                                                                FATHER:

Even you get 800 Math, you don’t Dartmouth if don’t  600, both Verbal, minimum.

                                                                                JAMAL:

Tutor says I’m good.

                                                                                FATHER:

Tutor I pay?

                                                                                JAMAL:

He say, “You good.”

                                                                                FATHER:

I don’t believe. More Critical Thinking.

 The two of them get back to work as LIGHTS CROSSFADE to SPECIAL AGENT HOAGLAND.

                                                                                HOAGLAND:

Not, not “Homeland.” Hoagland. No, H-O-A-G…  Oh, his last name! Al-Hasni. …. Jamal. Farouk or Jamal, father and son. … Jamal is the person of interest, but the father has suspect connections in Egypt, we’re guessing … Yeah, I’ll wait.

                                               (HOAGLAND reads from the paper he has in his hand.)

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts, returning with alienated majesty…”

                                             (HOAGLAND circles or highlight the word “alienated.”)

“Envy is ignorance; imitation, suicide…”

                                             (HOAGLAND marks the phrase “imitation, suicide.”)

“Trust yourself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

                                            (HOAGLAND hears a voice on the other end of the line.)

Yeah, I’m here. … Nothing? … How about the father? … So, he waits at airports ‘cause he’s the John Smith of Egypt, Farhoud al-Hasni, but no… no indication of— … Is that a Muslim Brotherhood kinda thing? … Oh. … No, but this could be domestic.  Domestic recruitment. … I don’t know, the internet, some high school chums. … Who the hell knows anymore. … No, I haven’t checked that out yet. … Yeah, thanks. I’ll. … I’ll get back to you.

                                            (HOAGLAND looks at the paper, ready to mark it.

“Accept the place that divine providence has found for you…Great men have always done so… the genius of their age… And now we are men… and not minors and invalids … not cowards fleeing before  a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty.”

Jesus!

                                            (HOAGLAND enters numbers on his cell-phone.)

                                                                               

Wayne, this is Hoagland. We’ll want to swear out a warrant for Jamal al-Hasni. They got nothing in the database but any judge’ll swear to this. Well, no, take it to Special Court. See if you can run interference, slow things up for him seeing a public defender.

LIGHTS CROSSFADE. JAMAL and FARHOUD sits with attorney MONTPELIER. JAMAL now wears an orange prison uniform, FARHOUD a plaid shirt and tie with  a courderoy jacket. 

 MONTPELIER is multitasking, reading through JAMAL’s evidence folder on the fly.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

I’m not saying Jamal should not to talk to the FBI, Mr. Hasni. I’m saying he should have been Mirandized, so Jamal should consider that any information he gave them before is inadmissible.

                                                                  (FATHER looks at Jamal for translation.)

                                                                                JAMAL:

They can’t use. But I didn’t anything with them. I didn’t anything wrong.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

It’s okay. If they got you here without Miranda, that means their working something. Your language raised certain flags with NSA, stuff they can’t use but it makes you a person of interest. They’re actually more interested in other people you could roll over on.

                                                                                JAMAL:

Roll over on?

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

Come on, Jamal. You watch cop shows.

                                                                                FATHER:

Roll over on?     

Translating the concept for his father, JAMAL makes a gesture of scissors cutting off his tongue.

                                                                                FATHER:

Tell them what you know.

                                                                                JAMAL:

I don’t know anything.

                                                                                FATHER:

Tell them that.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

Don’t tell them anything. Don’t answer any questions. If they’re on a fishing expedition, they’ll use anything you say.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

I don’t understanding English. But before we go from Egypt. In Egypt, I was lawyer.

                                                                                JAMAL:

Tax attorney.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Shut up, you! Government ask, you talk. Or you are against government. Is work like that.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

It doesn’t work that way here, Mr. Hasni. Here, you don’t have to talk. If they have anything substantive to use against your son, they’ll use it.

                                                                                JAMAL:

All they got is my essay.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

What essay?

                                                                                JAMAL:

My opinions.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

Why  do you guys always gotta write a goddamn manifesto?

                                                                                JAMAL:

No. Ccollege entrance essay.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

How did they get that?

                                                                                JAMAL:

I post it online.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

Where’d you apply?

                                                                                JAMAL:

What difference?

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Harvard. I make him submit one to Harvard. And his number three was Tufts.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

That’s why it got flagged by Homeland Security.

                                                                                JAMAL:

College entrance essay?

HOAGLAND enters, hands MONTPELIER a manila folder, but she declines. She has a copy in her hands.

                                                                                HOAGLAND:

Counsel.  Jamal, look: We’ll put our cards on the table. This is what we call your proffer statement.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

Plea bargain.

                                                                                HOAGLAND:

I’m sure Ms. Montpelier has already explained this too you. The way our system works, you can make a statement. Tell us what you did –admit to any violations of law, essentially. In writing. In return, we can make some kind of deal. And you’ll have that deal in writing.

Here’s what we know: We know you hung with a group of guys we’re looking at for this sorry-ass Independence Day stunt gone awry. Some people are calling it sabotage. We understand some of you may have been involved and didn’t know it would go that far. As far as it did. Which was deplorable. Code Orange. Big dip in the stock market, Air Force One diverted. Environmental repercussions we’re still sorting out. We recognize that you are likely not a ring-leader of this thing.

We did find a YouTube video that illegally utilizes clips from the film Independence Day. It depicts the destruction of various beloved public buildings. Your name appears on the credits as “Sound Guy.”

We do think you engineered this film.

Our theory of the crime right now has you as a patsy. Oh, we’re not supposed to use that word anymore. It’s sexist.  Sorry, Ms. Montpelier.

We think they had you along because they wanted you to take the fall for this. Because they knew about the film, and…

Oh, and that you are acquainted with Djokar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon man.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

You think you can establish that?

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Acquainted with?

                                                                                JAMAL:

He went to my school.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

Middle school.

                                                                                HOAGLAND:

And you knew him. I’ve got several kids who say you continued to travel in the same circles

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

Kids from the his high school stoner group who evidently are prepared to swear you bought from the same guy.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Mahad zerholah? [What’s that?]

                                                                                MONPELIER:

Un a’ pendi. [Marijuana.]

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Weed. One time. I catch him with it. He never buy weed again. That guy, I turn him in. Biggest drug dealer in school. Doesn’t prove who knew my son.

                                                                                HOAGLAND leans into JAMAL.

                                                                                HOAGLAND:

Look, I understand the lawyer. That’s your right as an American. No hard feelings. But you

gonna let your Daddy do the talking for you?

HOAGLAND looks at FARHOUD, shakes his head, and puts his finger to his lips. FARHOUD sits back, disdainfully.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

A’luha-na kahli a’kah. [Fuck you.]

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

Would you like me to translate that?

                                                                                JAMAL:

All these guys. Is just guys I go to school with.  Believe me, you are Arab in New England,you hang with your bros, social. But these are not guys who make film. I want to making movies. Those guys, straight. Absolutely straight. All different school. Boston College.

Northeaster. U Mass. Dude from Mount Ida. Not one, I think, is Arab. Mount Ida guy, I think his family Armenian.

                                                                                HOAGLAND:

Yeah, we figure the film is a red herring. The Djokhar connection, spurious. But we didn’t make this stuff up. We think these guys, these Independence Day would-be pranksters, kept you around to take the fall. So we want to know, who were the real leaders? Who

may have been the ones taking instructions from further up  the food chain. Can you…

Can you help us out with that? I’m sure it would help you with Harvard.

                                                                                (FARHOUD stands suddenly.)

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Kalim tihad a’men al-mo’habal. [The interview is over.]

                                                                                (FARHOUD kneels by his son.)

Waia ‘ hul hussein a’wai apanah poshni ha. [Say nothing to the thugs.]

 

                                                                                (FARHOUD turns away; he’s finished.)

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

You misplayed it. The old man was on your side. The kid won’t be talking to you. I’ll have a habeas writ on a federal bench this afternoon.  Jamal, you’ll be home for dinner.

                                                                                (JAMAL stands. HOAGLAND stands.)

                                                                                HOAGLAND:

Dinner with your old man, eh?  Good luck with that.

HOAGLAND smacks one palm against the other, simultaneously throwing his head back, mimicking a stinging slap to the face. HOAGLAND exits, laughing. FARHOUD, still turned away, speaks.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

What I tell you about film-making?  Is trouble. Trouble.  You major law, medicine. Is the way. I come, I lawyer in our country, but here I make internet café. Learn English. You, you become doctor, lawyer. Your son, he want, makes film-maker. Faggot. I don’t care. You my son, you take my money, you go to Dartmouth, you study law.

                                                                                MONTPELIER:

I’m not going to tell Mr. Hoagland, Jamal, but you should certainly tell your father about this essay.

                                                                          (Hearing this, FARHOUD turns to them.)

 

JAMAL: My essay?

                                                                                MONPELEIR:

The one you sent to all the area schools. Harvard, Tufts, Boston College, U Mass, Northeastern, Emerson. I’ll leave that up to you. I’ll notify Harvard and the rest. I’m sorry. I have to.

                                                                                (MONTPELEIER exits.)

                                                                                FARHOUD:

What you tell me? Tell me, son.

                                                                                JAMAL:

I don’t go to East Coast school.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

You do my word.

                                                                                JAMAL:

No. I send essay. You remember. My opinions.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Yes.

                                                                                JAMAL:

You remember, two tutors don’t help me fix.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

I don’t pay them. I pay Number Three. He do it.

                                                                                JAMAL:

He don’t catch my trick. I copy. I use Emerson. Great American writer. His essay “Self Reliance.” I copy.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Humdilah. You think nobody catch?

                                                                                JAMAL:

First tutor, he call Emerson “Dead Poet.” Nobody read now.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

No. You know. You know. Is sabotage.

                                                                                JAMAL:

Harvard, Brown… Only one school, I don’t send: UCLA.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Is West Coast.

                                                                                JAMAL:

Yes.

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Is film-school.

                                                                                JAMAL:

Yes. And they accept. My own bad essay, no correction, about why I passionate film.

                                                                        (A moment while FARHOUD confronts this.)

                                                                                FARHOUD:

Humdilah!

 

                                                                        BLACKOUT. END OF PLAY. 

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