Lights dim on the shack.  The yard remains lit as the action unfolds. ENTER Youth, a ragged
Pit creature, running scared, pursued by FOUR POLICEMEN. They approach Youth and
surround him to stop him running away. They catch up with him centre stage, where they
surround him and rough him up.

ASSASSIN 2. We want to talk to you.

YOUTH. About what?

ASSASSIN 2. About your writing.

YOUTH. My writing?

ASSASSIN 3. The one that’s causing all this brouhaha in little people’s minds?

YOUTH. Who are you?

ASSASSIN 4. The thesis, let’s stick to your thesis.

YOUTH. What thesis?

ASSASSIN 2. The one that claims the blind cannot lead the blind?

ASSASSIN 3. That the Big Chiefs may cheat some of the people some of the time but they can’
t cheat all the people all of the time?

ASSASSIN 1. You know, the one that says that the man dies in all people who keep the peace
in the face of tyranny?

ASSASSIN 4. The one that calls on the oppressed to rise up and overthrow the despots who
misrule them? The one

ASSASSIN 3. You know the one we are talking about.

YOUTH  (
 remembering  ).  But that was a long time ago; in the old days, when even bleating
made sense!  It was no more than a treatise on justice, equality and fraternity.  About the need
for dialogue and reconciliation between the people and the Big Chiefs.  About honesty and
about peace, love and unity. Even the police was there when I presented it to fellow students
at the University.  I thought they understood what I was talking about, how harmless it was.  
Then they hoisted their clubs and proceeded to clobber everyone senseless exactly as if I had
not spoken. I barely escaped with my life and I was expelled from University. I thought the
matter over and forgotten.

ASSASSIN 1. Well, as we shall demonstrate shortly, we think you were wrong.

ASSASSIN 2. Come with us.

YOUTH. Where to?

ASSASSIN 3. We’ll show you.

YOUTH. Who are you?

ASSASSIN 4. We’ll show you.

YOUTH. May I get my jacket?

ASSASSIN 2. You’ll not need it.

YOUTH. May I call a friend?

ASSASSIN 1. No need.

ASSASSIN 4. You have nothing to fear.

YOUTH. But what are you people?

ASSASSIN 3. We are the keepers of the light.

ASSASSIN 1. Trust us, not a mouse farts in this country that we don’t know about.  
(  grabs the
Youth  
)   Let’s go.

YOUTH. Why do you do this?

ASSASSIN 1. For our country.


ASSASSIN 4. And for money.

YOUTH. Aha! Now I know.

They hustle him off stage, dragging him on the ground. A tortured SCREAM off stage then,
sound of GUNSHOTS. Lights down front stage, back up on the OLD MAN’S shack.
BOY. He should have known them from the start. He should have known they were the agents
of evil; money hungry beasts who eat their own kind.  Then he might have escaped death.

OLD MAN. There was no escape except into silence and death.

BOY. You should know. You were one of them.

OLD MAN. I wasn’t with them.

BOY. How come you survived?

OLD MAN. You call this surviving? I simply died differently.

BOY. Why?

OLD MAN. I’ve asked myself that question countless times.  I asked myself why, when I saw
children die from hunger while our big Chiefs assured us there was no famine.  I asked why
when I saw patients fade away and die in hospitals with no medicine to give them. I even asked
myself why, as I lay in the dark listening to Big Chiefs urge their people to take up arms and
exterminate their fellow countrymen.  I still ask why, but many were the innocents who died
without knowing why.

BOY. To have lived and still not know why is worse than to have not lived at all.

OLD MAN. What does it benefit a man to know he owes his existence to an affair between his
mother and a madman? Half of him would die. Half a man cannot live.

BOY. Man? You call yourself a man?

OLD MAN. Maybe we were only half men even then.  But our Big Chiefs were full and total
men. They were like raging bulls, virile to destruction, and believed they knew everything.  
Their all-knowing actions were so outrageous we sometimes complained.  If we grumbled long
and hard enough, they gave us an audience. Son, they would say.  A man is born a man and
dies a man.  The time in between is the size of his pumpkins. Then they smashed our
pumpkins and went back to being men.

BOY. Amen.
OLD MAN. Don’t get me wrong, we loved our fathers. They showed their love by beating sense
in us, shaping us into more grateful subjects, people who had no opinion and asked no
questions.  If you had lived then, you’d be in prison to this day.

BOY. That I believe.

The BOY tosses his cigar into the fire, picks up his bowl, empties it in the OLD MAN’S.
OLD MAN. Why don’t you eat?

BOY. I don’t want to eat.

OLD MAN. How can you not want to eat, when eating is so rare?

BOY. I told you I have no hunger.

OLD MAN. No hunger? How so? Is it possible, in this time and age, not to hunger?

BOY  (  irritably  ).  Eat your food and stop talking.  (  softening  )   I have hunger, just not for
food.

OLD MAN. We are so different you and I.  You thrive on anger, while I live for hunger.  Hunger
is my life-long companion. I remember when it was a joy to hunger, to be unfulfilled, in
anticipation of the fulfilment my Beloved had waiting when I came home from working miracles.  
Now hunger is my only true companion, my only anchor to hope. Still, too much eating can rot
a stomach.

BOY. There’s no danger of that any more, is there?

OLD MAN. Not any more.

BOY. What I don’t understand … what I can’t understand is how, if what you speak is true, how
anyone lived through it?

OLD MAN. We drank.  Pretending not to see what we did to ourselves, we drank. We buried
our conscience in alcohol and, between binges, pretended we could still manage leadership.  
(  BOY tiptoes to the sack hanging on the wall and rummages in it  )   We made monumental
decisions and grand pronouncements and then … what are you doing?

BOY. Nothing to do with you. Keep talking old man.

OLD MAN ( hesitates, then continues ).  We instigated and castigated those who laboured on
the land and drove them harder than oxen. Then, while they cleared our rainforests to plant
coffee and tea, we went off to international meetings and reiterated our commitment to the war
on global warming and poverty.  (BOY glances over his shoulder, grunts and continues
searching, tossing things on the floor)  We negotiated loans to fight desertification, and signed
agreements we barely understood. Then we were surprised at what subsequently happened to
us, things that had never happened before, when our chiefs were men and we were proud to
be their sons. Suddenly we had mountains of rubbish on our streets and broken-down
Government vehicles littered Government yards. We had roads that led nowhere, except to
mortally sick egos, and incomplete bridges that could not cross the emptiness in our hearts.
Government offices had no furniture, water or electricity and our half-built hospitals had
neither doctors nor medicine; schools had no teachers or books, but we had enough national
debt to last us a thousand years. And all of that was achieved in the blink of an eye by men
who thought that their primary purpose in life was to enrich themselves and cut everyone else
down.

Finding what he is looking for, the BOY returns to the fireside. He handles the gun, squeezes
it in his hands and seems to draw comfort from it. He begins to relax.

OLD MAN  (  feeling the change in the BOY ).  What have you got there?

BOY. Nothing.

OLD MAN. I may be blind, but I’m not a fool.

BOY. It’s a gun. I’ve got a gun.

OLD MAN. A gun? Where did you get a gun? Where, on earth, did you get such a thing?

BOY. It’s easier to get a gun than to find food?

OLD MAN. No. I didn’t know that.

BOY. You don’t know anything any more. You are old and useless.

OLD MAN. That I am,  (  nods )   that I am. In my day only the law had a gun.  If a gun sounded
we ran like deer from fear.

BOY. You were cowards.
(  He weighs the gun thoughtfully in his hand )  That’s why you ran to
churches and let them kill you there, instead of standing and defending yourselves. (
 A darker
thought enters his head.  He aims the gun at the old man’s head. He hesitates, turns and aims
it at the tree instead. GRIM REAPER reacts with alarm )
 Such a thing will not happen to us.
We shall never let it happen again.

He pulls the trigger.  Gun clicks empty. GRIM REAPER sighs with relief. OLD MAN pricks his
ears, looks about blindly.

OLD MAN. I’ve heard that people are arming themselves again.

BOY. That is so, old man. There’s trouble brewing and you don’t even know it. Would you like
to feel my gun?

OLD MAN  ( startled ).  What on earth for?

BOY. To feel power; to know its might.   (  offers it )   Here, take it.   
( OLD MAN recoils )    
Take it!

He tries placing it in OLD MAN’S hand but OLD MAN recoils from it.

OLD MAN.  Woe!

BOY. Take it! (  harshly )  Feel it!

He grabs the OLD MAN’S hand and forces the gun in it, wrapping the bony fingers roughly
round the handle and squeezing hard.

BOY. Feel that? Can you feel it?  That is power, old man that is the real power, the only power
that is powerful.  With this thing even a cripple like you becomes a big man. See, you are
shaking like a coward already.  Even you are afraid of a gun.

OLD MAN  
( shaken ).  I am, God knows, I am shaken.  What use could you have for such
power?

BOY. No wonder you ended up all so dead.
( laughs mirthlessly ). If you had a handful of guns,
they would not have found you so easy to kill. With a gun, I can have whatever I want, even
respect.  With it I can be a man, a big and fearsome man.

He thrusts the gun in his pocket and starts lacing his shoes.

OLD MAN. Where are you going?

BOY. Somewhere.

OLD MAN. To do what?

BOY. Nothing that should concern you.
( rises )  Eat your food.

Exit BOY. OLD MAN, worried, sets his food aside. Rising, he hobbles to the tree and
addresses it.

OLD MAN. I made him angry, I made him angry again. I must not do that, I must not make him
angry.  Anger is a terrible companion to carry around. Mind you it’s not all my fault. Yes, I was
there when they turned his world upside down. I was one of them, yes, I was one of them.
Unwittingly, and only for a while, I helped provide a veneer of respectability to barbarism. But
… you can’t understand, you just can’t understand it.

He turns and hobbles back to his place and sits staring blindly as before.  >>>READ MORE

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