Contents I II
IV V VI VII
SCENENight of the following day. A row of cells in the prison on Blackwells Island. The cells extend back diagonally from right front to left rear. They do not stop, but disappear in the dark background as if they ran on, numberless, into infinity. One electric bulb from the low ceiling of the narrow corridor sheds its light through the heavy steel bars of the cell at the extreme front and reveals part of the interior. YANK can be seen within, crouched on the edge of his cot in the attitude of Rodins The Thinker. His face is spotted with black and blue bruises. A blood-stained bandage is wrapped around his head.
YANK(Suddenly starting as if awakening from a dream, reaches out and shakes the barsaloud to himself, wonderingly.) Steel. Dis is de Zoo, huh? (A burst of hard, barking laughter comes from the unseen occupants of the cells, runs back down the tier, and abruptly ceases.)
VOICES(Mockingly.) The Zoo? Thats a new name
for this coopa damn good name!
Steel, eh? You said a mouthful. This is
the old iron house.
Who is that boob talkin?
Hes the bloke they brung in out of his head.
The bulls had beat him up fierce.
YANK(Dully.) I musta been dreamin. I tought I was in a cage at de Zoobut de apes dont talk, do
VOICES(With mocking laughter.) Youre in a cage aw right.
A kennel! (Hard laughtera pause.)
Say, guy! Who are you? No, never mind
lying. What are you?
Yes, tell us your sad story. Whats your game?
What did they jug yuh for?
YANK(Dully.) I was a firemanstokin on de liners. (Then with sudden rage, rattling his cell bars.) Im a hairy ape, get me? And Ill bust youse all in de jaw if yuh dont lay off kiddin me.
VOICESHuh! Youre a hard boiled duck aint you!
When you spit, it bounces! (Laughter.)
Aw, can it. Hes a regular guy. Aint you?
What did he say he wasa ape?
YANK(Defiantly.) Sure ting! Aint dat what youse all areapes? (A silence. Then a furious rattling of bars from down the corridor.)
A VOICE(Thick with rage.) Ill show yuh whos a ape, yuh bum!
Can de noise!
Youll have the guard down on us!
YANK(Scornfully.) De guard? Yuh mean de keeper, dont
yuh? (Angry exclamations from all the cells.)
VOICE(Placatingly.) Aw, dont pay no attention to him. Hes off his nut from the beatin-up he got. Say, you guy! Were waitin to hear what they landed you foror aint yuh tellin?
YANKSure, Ill tell
youse. Sure! Why de hell not? Onyyouse wont get me. Nobody gets me but me, see? I started to tell de Judge and all he says was: Toity days to tink it over. Tink it over! Christ, dats all I been doin for weeks! (After a pause.) I was tryin to git even wit someone, see?someone dat done me
VOICES(Cynically.) De old stuff, I bet. Your
Give yuh the double-cross, huh?
Thats them every time!
Did yuh beat up de odder guy?
YANK(Disgustedly.) Aw, yuhre all wrong! Sure dere was a skoit in itbut not what youse mean, not dat old tripe. Dis was a new kind of
skoit. She was dolled up all in whitein de stokehole. I tought she was a ghost. Sure. (A pause.)
VOICES(Whispering.) Gee, hes still nutty.
Let him rave. Its fun listenin.
YANK(Unheedinggroping in his thoughts.) Her handsdey was skinny and white like dey wasnt real but painted on somepn. Dere was a million miles from me to hertwenty-five knots a hour. She was like some dead ting de cat brung in. Sure, dats what. She didnt belong. She belonged in de window of a toy store, or on de top of a garbage can, see! Sure! (He breaks out angrily.) But would yuh believe it, she had de noive to do me
doit. She lamped me like she was seein somepn broke loose from de menagerie. Christ, yuhd oughter seen her eyes! (He rattles the bars of his cell furiously.) But Ill get back at her yet, you watch! And if I cant find her Ill take it out on de gang she runs wit. Im wise to where dey hangs out now. Ill show her who belongs! Ill show her whos in de move and who aint. You watch my smoke!
VOICES(Serious and joking.) Dats de talkin!
Take her for all shes got!
What was this dame, anyway? Who was she, eh?
dunno. First cabin stiff. Her old mans a millionaire, dey saysname of Douglas.
VOICESDouglas? Thats the president of the Steel
Trust, I bet.
Sure. I seen his mug in de papers.
Hes filthy with dough.
VOICEHey, feller, take a tip from me. If you want to get back at that dame, you better join the
Wobblies. Youll get some action then.
YANKWobblies? What de hells
VOICEAint you ever heard of the I. W. W.?
YANKNaw. What is it?
VOICEA gang of blokesa tough gang. I been readin about em to-day in the paper. The guard give me the Sunday Times. Theres a long spiel about em. Its from a speech made in the Senate by a guy named Senator Queen. (He is in the cell next to YANKS. There is a rustling of paper.) Waitll I see if I got light enough and Ill read you. Listen. (He reads:) There is a menace existing in this country to-day which threatens the vitals of our fair Republicas foul a meance against the very life-blood of the American Eagle as was the foul conspiracy of Cataline against the eagles of ancient Rome!
VOICE(Disgustedly.) Aw hell! Tell him to salt de tail of dat eagle!
VOICE(Reading:) I refer to that devils brew of rascals, jailbirds, murderers and cutthroats who libel all honest working men by calling themselves the Industrial Workers of the World; but in the light of their nefarious plots, I call them the Industrious Wreckers of the World!
YANK(With vengeful satisfaction.) Wreckers, dats de right dope! Dat belongs! Me for
VOICESsshh! (Reading.) This fiendish organization is a foul ulcer on the fair body of our Democracy—”
VOICEDemocracy, hell! Give him the
boid, fellersthe raspberry! (They do.)
VOICESsshh! (Reading:) Like Cato I say to this senate, the I. W. W. must be destroyed! For they represent an ever-present dagger pointed at the heart of the greatest nation the world has ever known, where all men are born free and equal, with equal opportunities to all, where the Founding Fathers have guaranteed to each one happiness, where Truth, Honor, Liberty, Justice, and the Brotherhood of Man are a religion absorbed with ones mothers milk, taught at our fathers knee, sealed, signed, and stamped upon in the glorious Constitution of these United States! (A perfect storm of hisses, catcalls, boos, and hard laughter.)
VOICES(Scornfully.) Hurrah for de Fort of July!
Pass de hat!
ALL(With abysmal scorn.) Aw, hell!
VOICEGive that Queen Senator guy the bark! All togedder nowonetwotree— (A terrific chorus of barking and yapping.)
GUARD(From a distance.) Quiet there, youseor Ill git the hose. (The noise subsides.)
YANK(With growling rage.) Id like to catch dat senator guy alone for a second. Id loin him some
VOICESsshh! Heres where he gits down to cases on the
Wobblies. (Reads:) They plot with fire in one hand and dynamite in the other. They stop not before murder to gain their ends, nor at the outraging of defenceless womanhood. They would tear down society, put the lowest scum in the seats of the mighty, turn Almighty Gods revealed plan for the world topsy-turvy, and make of our sweet and lovely civilization a shambles, a desolation where man, Gods masterpiece, would soon degenerate back to the ape!
VOICE(To YANK.) Hey, you guy. Theres your ape stuff again.
YANK(With a growl of fury.) I got him. So dey blow up tings, do
dey? Dey turn tings round, do dey? Hey, lend me dat paper, will yuh?
VOICESure. Give it to him. Ony keep it to yourself, see. We dont wanter listen to no more of that slop.
VOICEHere you are. Hide it under your mattress.
YANK(Reaching out.) Tanks. I cant read much but I kin manage. (He sits, the paper in the hand at his side, in the attitude of Rodins The Thinker. A pause. Several snores from down the corridor. Suddenly YANK jumps to his feet with a furious groan as if some appalling thought had crashed on himbewilderedly.) Sureher old manpresident of de Steel Trustmakes half de steel in de worldsteelwhere I tought I belongeddrivin troumovinin datto make herand cage me in for her to spit on! Christ (He shakes the bars of his cell door till the whole tier trembles. Irritated, protesting exclamations from those awakened or trying to get to sleep.) He made disdis cage! Steel! It dont belong, dats what! Cages, cells, locks, bolts, barsdats what it means!holdin me down wit him at de top! But Ill drive
trou! Fire, dat melts it! Ill be fireunder de heapfire dat never goes outhot as hellbreakin out in de night(While he has been saying this last he has shaken his cell door to a clanging accompaniment. As he comes to the breakin out he seizes one bar with both hands and, putting his two feet up against the others so that his position is parallel to the floor like a monkeys, he gives a great wrench backwards. The bar bends like a licorice stick under his tremendous strength. Just at this moment the PRISON GUARD rushes in, dragging a hose behind him.)
GUARD(Angrily.) Ill loin youse bums to wake me up! (Sees YANK.) Hello, its you, huh? Got the D. Ts., hey? Well, Ill cure em. Ill drown your snakes for
yuh! (Noticing the bar.) Hell, look at dat bar bended! Ony a bug is strong enough for
YANK(Glaring at him.) Or a hairy ape, yuh big yellow bum! Look out! Here I come! (He grabs another bar.)
GUARD(Scared nowyelling off left.) Toin de hoose on, Ben!full pressure! And call de othersand a strait jacket! (The curtain is falling. As it hides YANK from view, there is a splattering smash as the stream of water hits the steel of YANKS cell.)