«Contemporary Plays by Women of Color is a compelling collection of new and recent works by African American, Asian American, Latina American and ...»
KALI You’re turning Haole! (laughs) NARRATOR (Sound of farting) Out of the corner of my eye, I see Sherry and Smoke—like totally making out! She’s taking down her spaghetti straps. She has no bra! He’s taking off his belt! Oh my god, are they just gonna?… Boom!
HOMEGIRLS The CORNER BOYS!! Run!!
NARRATOR The Corner Boys are older. Maybe 20. They don’t work. They don’t go to school. They’re career guys! WE RUN! (Acts out chase scene) Through the park. Past graffiti that says “Westside Rules. Corner Boys are chumps!” Me and Sherry are falling behind. We’re last. I’m last. Oh, my god!
The fence! Sherry WHOOM! She’s over. Me… BRENDA Kali! Kali! I’m stuck!!
NARRATOR My fishnets are caught in the chainlink fence and I’m thinking… BRENDA What am I doing here?
NARRATOR But Sherry says… SHERRY (Mispronouncing) Que Viva! Westside!! (Sherry screams in excitement.) 30 BRENDA WONG AOKI
BROTHER BROWN Brothers and Sisters! This is Squeaky Brown and the Black Panthers have liberated this High School!
NARRATOR Detroit, Newark, Watts… On the quad—On this side: frat boys, cheerleaders, Lit. l.A—all white. On this side: wood shop, Twelve O’clock High, Westside Warriors—all the rest.
As if in a dream I walk through the quad—like Moses parting the Red Sea—and as I get to the other side, like two huge tidal waves, three thousand kids run towards each other and all hell breaks loose! I see Sherry getting her head bashed into a pole by two black girls.
SHERRY Stop it! Stop it!
NARRATOR Then someone grabs me, twists my arm, pries open my hand and in red indelible Marks-a-Lot writes “WS”: Westside. It’s Smoke.
SMOKE Flash dis to any homies who try an‘mess wif you.
NARRATOR Then these two white guys push me. Knock me to the ground and I hear… STEVEN Wait! Stop! She’s in my Lit. class.
NARRATOR It’s Steve Newcomb. He gives me his frat ring.
STEVEN Show this to any white people who try and bother you.
NARRATOR I walk through the quad. I’m cool… Westside. I’m a soc… Phi Gam. Westside. Phi Gam. (Mimes repeat of line as flashes ring or palm) BR.BROWN Brothers and Sisters! Remember, you are part of the solution or part of the problem. The choice is yours!
The Newcomb Dynasty
JUDY Class, after the events of the last few days, I know many of you are hurt, shocked, angered! And suddenly I realize that Poly, our own high school, is part of a larger picture. And I just had to say “Judy, forget the core curriculum!
Get real!” I want each of you to pick partners and come up with an analysis of the underlying causes of this riot. Class dismissed.
NARRATOR Steven was my partner. So I went to his house. My god, it was a mansion!
STEVEN Okay, Brenda! Okay! I understand how frustrating it must be to be in woodshop and Twelve o’clock High but violence is never a viable option! I need a break. How ‘bout a brownie?
NARRATOR So we take some brownies into the Newcomb family library. A room filled with huge painted portraits of the Newcomb patriarchy. Steven and I sit down on a burgundy velvet, Edwardian couch.
BRENDA Oh, Steven, what lovely little pillows!
STEVEN Brenda, that’s what’s so special about you—you know, you’re really different…from those others. I mean from those other Westsiders.
BRENDA Really?… STEVEN Definitely!
NARRATOR And one of the paintings starts to talk to me… THE QUEEN’S GARDEN 31 GRANDPA A little cherry blossom! Welcome to the bosom of the Newcomb dynasty.
BRENDA Steven, your Grandfather’s talking to me.
NARRATOR And Steven says… STEVEN Marijuana in the brownies. Yuummm!
NARRATOR And he puts his arm around me… BRENDA A Kennedy. Hmmm. But geez, he’s hairy. He’s gonna kiss me.
Relax, be sensual. That nose. How do you get around the nose? (Mimes) EEEE! He stuck his tongue in my mouth. Eu, Gross!
NARRATOR And all the other paintings say, PAINTINGS “Aaaaa!” (Tongue action) BRENDA No! No! No! (Spin out) NARRATOR When I came to, all the paintings were quietly hanging on the wall and Steven was sitting there staring at me.
STEVEN Geez, Brenda, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know the brownies were that powerful. I’m just blowin’ it since Sherry left me. I’m tripping out.
BRENDA Steven, I’m really hungry.
NARRATOR Later Steven drives me to the pharmacy. As we go inside, I see on the counter: lumpia, tamales and a fresh bunch of Aunti Mary’s red, red, roses.
Today’s trades for medicine. My kid brother pedals up to Steven. My little sisters come out from behind the counters and surround him. Dad comes down too and shakes his hand. They’re all standing there in Mom’s matching clothes… looking like a bunch of refugees!!! So I say to Steven… BRENDA Steven! I’ll see you tomorrow!
Kali Fights Steven
BRENDA So in conclusion, Steven and I disagree about the causes of the riot.
Although I do not personally condone it, violence is a form of… NARRATOR There, in the doorway… Kali in his black Warrior jacket. He moves towards Steven’s desk. He’s smiling. He lifts up Steven and wham!
(HAI screams) NARRATOR It’s Hai, the F.O.B. from Viet Nam.
KALI He’s okay, I just like teach him—we take care of our own.
(HAI Wails) KALI What’s wrong with her?
(HAI Wails) KALI Wot da hell she saying?
BRENDA Kali! Get out! Just get out!
NARRATOR Later, I wait for Kali at his locker. As soon as I see that black Warrior jacket… BRENDA You big, stupid moron. What’d you do that for?
KALI Cuz he’s messin’ wit you. What’s wrong with him? Is he a faggot or wot?
I thought he’d fight for you. I fight for you. I put myself on da line for you alla time and you just t’row it in my face. You hanging out wit so many Haoles, you forget you from da Westside!
32 BRENDA WONG AOKI BRENDA Who cares about the Westside? What’s so cool about busting up a class and freaking out some poor F.O.B.? I’m not gonna be on the Westside forever. I’m getting out of here. I’m going to college.
KALI Wot? You tink you can fly? Your daddy get dat kine kala wit six kids?
BRENDA Did you hear what I said, I’m going to college!
KALI (Pause) Hey, girl, I tellin’ Smoke and all da kine on da Westside we getting married.
BRENDA Married? I’m not gonna be some fat mama in a muumuu waiting for a welfare check! You don’t get it do you? You’re always talking about the sky’s the limit. We live on the Westside. Next to the oil fields! The sky comes up to here!
(Gestures to her throat) Kali, we’re pau.
NARRATOR And he turned and walked away. And I just stood there watching the Warrior written on the back of his jacket get smaller and smaller…until it disappeared… Intermission
NARRATOR Well, I went to college. Thank God for EOP—the Ethnic Opportunity Program. Sherry turned me on to higher education but I went and she didn’t. She had Smoke’s baby in her senior year, dropped out and moved in with him.
DAD Why are you leaving us? Mama and me, we need you! You’re the Onesan.
If you get too smart, no one will marry you!
NARRATOR THE CAMPUS: Clean fresh air! And the sky! It went on and on.
Right down to the ocean. Big picture windows overlooking the redwoods. I felt AWFUL! —Leaving mom with all those kids… I was worried about who was taking my place at the store and actually—I stuck out miserably.
STUDENT Excuse me, but we’re leading a student directed seminar on racial injustice. We’d like you to be a guest lecturer. Please? The only way to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor is for people like you to teach people like us. We need you. You’re Third World.
Pharmacy and set Daddy up as the manager of Medirex. It’d be just like having our own store without the headaches! Here’s Dad.
DAD Well, Brenda Jean. Guess I gotta be like everybody else and get a job. You want to come help?
NARRATOR So we moved: our medicine, our coke machine and all our customers. We stood there in the empty shell of our store, “Dave’s Pharmacy”…and watched Dad march into Medirex.
The boss’s name was Buzzy, like a killer bee.
BUZZY Hey, surprise yeah? I’m a head. Long hair. Work in cut-offs, sandals. I was into acid. Now I’m dealing drugs! Hah! Hah! Hah!
NARRATOR Bzzz, bzzz, bzzz.
BUZZY Hey Dave, this is a place of business. So, tell the lovely wife to take her delicious banana bread, her adorable kids and go home.
NARRATOR Buzz, Buzz, BUZZ.
BUZZY Hey Dave—if they ain’t buyin, we’re dyin… Ah geez, not again! Get off the floor ya retard!
MARY He no retard. Mike gid up. Dave, today Aunti Mary bring you her sweetest roses. Try smell!
BUZZY NOOOOO! There you go again! I can’t believe it! Flowers for medicine… I need cash, cash, cash, cash, MONEY! Dave, you’re fired!
DAD Fired? You can’t fire me. This is my store! That’s my coke machine… These are all my customers.
BUZZY From now one we’ll just think of this as Dave’s Pharmacy without Dave.
(DAVE stands there confused.)
Twelve o’Clock High
NARRATOR “Death to the Birds of Prey that feed on the blood of the people!” reads a poster above my desk. I’m back in high school. Teaching. I dropped out of college and got a special certificate to teach here, cuz no one else would.
BRENDA I’m Brenda Aoki, but in this room you’ll call me Brenda. This is Twelve o’Clock High, as you know, the class for the losers. Okay, let’s cut the bullshit from the gate. I don’t think you are losers. I don’t think you are illiterate. What I think is…you’re lazy. You’re lookin’ at me like “How does this broad know what we think?” I know cuz I been there. I’m 20 years old. Not that much older than most of you. I’m from the Westside too. My Daddy worked hard all his life to support our family and he got beat up by the Man.
Now, I live above a whore house with a Vietnamese sister who was raped by the same capitalist, imperialist system that screwed my Daddy and keeps all of us (gestures) down. Your first reading assignment for the semester: Paulo Freire’s Pedogogy of the Oppressed. Class dismissed.
Bobby? Bobby Panis! May I speak to you for a minute please? Miss Panis?
Thank you. Bobby, I was wondering if you could you do me a favor and hang 34 BRENDA WONG AOKI out with Debbie? She’s like the only white kid in the class and… You’re part Filipino and part white so… Bobby, just do me that favor, alright?
BOBBY Hey, teach? Fuck off.
SHERRY Brenda! Don’t be so hard on yourself. Tell me all about it.
NARRATOR And I’m hangin’ with Sherry. Flame Red nails, two inches long, tight white pants with a thin gold belt, a tousled mane of Farrah Fawcett hair.
BRENDA Oh Sherry. It’s so good to have somebody to talk to.
NARRATOR We sitting in the sun on Sherry’s deck. Her little boy’s happily babbling in his playpen. Sherry’s living in this bougie condo—in P.V.Palos Verdes! Smoke must be doin’ pretty good.
BRENDA Sherry, I just think I’m blowing it with these kids. I dunno…like the other day. I dismiss the boys, and tell the girls we’re gonna have a women’s discussion, and that little witch, Bobby Panis, says… BOBBY But ain’t chu a dyke?
BRENDA And they all crack up. Slappin’ high fives and stuff.
SHERRY Well, you don’t exactly look like a “homegirl”. Let me do your hair.
BRENDA Sherry!… Anyway to divert their attention, I notice this one fat girl, who I really like, is all of a sudden skinny. So I say, “Rosie, you look great, what happened?” ROSIE I had a baby.
BRENDA And they all crack up again. God Sherry, I had no idea she was even pregnant. Then I remember how Rosie used to wear this long coat even when it was really hot. Poor kid, she must have been so uncomfortable.
NARRATOR Sherry tosses her hair… SHERRY Well, you know the rule—Get pregnant, get kicked out of school… (Laughs) SHERRY’S SON Out! Out! Out! (Calling from play pen) NARRATOR Sherry’s son raises his little arms.
SHERRY Brenda, it’s all worth it. Huh? Baby Boy. Mama’s baby boy.
NARRATOR I look down at Sherry’s little boy wrapped snuggly in his mama’s arms with his caramel colored skin and curly blonde hair, and I think, “Yep, the little prince. He’s the future. Us coming together living in peace.”
Rosie’s Story/Hai Survives
NARRATOR And every morning my roommate, Hai, yes Hai, the F.O.B from Lit.
1, who I now see as my sister in the struggle…makes us Vietnamese style coffee in two blue porcelain teacups. French!
HAI For you, Brenda and one for me. Comment ça va?
BRENDA Oh, Hai. You always know, don’t you?
NARRATOR And I tell Hai all about what happened in class with my women’s discussion.
THE QUEEN’S GARDEN 35 BRENDA And Rosie had to wear this long coat, even when it was really hot. So I decide to be cool with them. I say to the girls, “Listen, if any of you guys gets pregnant, I swear, I’ll never turn you in.” And they go… GIRLS Really? You won’t? AAHHHHM BRENDA And they’re all pregnant! Except Bobby Panis who’s skinny as a rail.
Then the class just busts wide open and the girls are all asking Rosie about her labor. Did it hurt? And was her boyfriend there. God Hai, you oughta see her boyfriend. This big macho gangster—“Bullet”. And Rosie says… ROSIE When Bullet saw his little baby, he cried!
NARRATOR And all the girls say… GIRLS No!
ROSIE And he says we’re gonna name the baby Luz: Light.
GIRLS OOOOHH!ROSIE And Bullet says we’re getting married.
GIRLS (Sob Sob.) HAI You’d be surprised at what people do to survive. When I left Viet Nam, there was not enough room on the boat for both my sister and me. (Pause) But the captain liked me and I had to make sure he kept liking me.
BRENDA What happened to your sister?
HAI These teacups are all that’s left of my family.
BRENDA Oh God, Hai. I’m so sorry. I’ll be your family.
HAI I love you, Brenda.
BRENDA I love you too, Hai.