“Snake Den Harbor” is a folk musical — a fantasy of restoration in an Adirondack community. Written by Michael Caldwell and Patience Whitman.
There is a creeping consumption in the land…
The wilderness is rotten all over their foreheads.
They scorn the widow and abuse the child…
They shall not prevail.
- Bob Dylan, “Three Kings” jacket cover story, “John Wesley Harding”
SET & SETTING
Snake Den Harbor Restaurant, a former diner rescued for quality dining by Winslow and Helen, new co-owners, is in the community of Snake Den Harbor, a mythical, down-on-its-luck town on the West shore of Lake Champlain. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday on a hill street with a deck overlooking the lake. Near views of hung laundry and backyard junk down the hill contrast with distant views on a clear day of all five of Vermont’s four thousand-foot peaks. Deck dining is potentially lucrative, if patrons can overlook the near view.
This musical is intended for Autumn performances in middle latitudes, allowing scene changes and interludes by lighting instead of a curtain. A seven o’clock Post Meridian start time, around the equinox, means darkness out the windows will keep the set dark except for artificial lighting.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CONTEXT
The drama is a fantasy of restorative process leading to restorative justice for offenders through restored relations in a community focused on restoration.
The global movement toward restorative justice arises from what Martin King called “the beloved community” – an emerging, evolving society of calculated compassion and fierce forgiveness. Impetus for it also originates in, for example, New Zealand, from collaboration between native Maori and settled Scots. North American inspiration comes from Lakota talking stick circle tradition and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) rituals of reconciliation from the remarkable and not well-known Six Nations Confederation in what is now upstate New York.
Contemporary restorative justice practice in the United States is timid and largely relegated to the sidelines of an ostensibly retributive criminal justice system. Where are bold experiments in the utilization of effective restorative strategies for practical, timely, interventions with offenders? Look here.
In particular, in the drama, restorative circles are conducted and recorded for use by prosecutors in developing recommended “sentences” – sentences which use remedial incarceration or non-incarceration agreements focused on rehabilitation and restitution. The results: an invitational attitude by the circle to access the resource of a healthy conscience in offenders, contemplation of behavioral change, assessment of harm, and consideration of ways to make amends.
In the unorthodox and avant garde restorative circles of this musical, Henry’s sharp edge, rigorously insistent on justice, is tempered by his “wounded healer” military veteran archetype. He’s tough, even fierce, confronting denial, but he confronts with care rather than condescension or contempt. His character – and Martha’s – exemplify a much needed balanced approach to the two foundations of effective restorative practice – support and accountability.
The musical will be powerful to the extent that the characters exert bold, restorative interventions as normative technique. Prevention of recidivism can result more commonly. When the justice system teaches and models non-retributive practices, personal lives are more effectively reformed and community relations are more foundationally renewed.
Amy’s careful, no-nonsense, to-the-point modeling of the role of the facilitator and Chief Sky’s prayers are both keys to effective outcomes. In addition, humor enhances relaxed, if serious, encounter.
The playwrights, though non-native, attempt to bring authenticity and integrity to the Lakota Chief of Police of Snake Den Harbor, Chief Sky. He is married to a local Mohawk woman, whom he met at a regional Native American gathering. The intention is to bring to center stage the largely un-practiced but inspiring and effective pan-Native talking stick circle as part of an effective protocol for dealing with difficult human interaction. Furthermore, the entire impetus of the restorative circles in the drama reflect, generally, the miracle of the Haudenasaunee (Iroquois) Confederation of approximately 1000 C. E., implicit in Longfellow’s “Hiawatha.”
Helen is co-proprietor of the restaurant, hostess, server, recipe researcher, food preparer, bartender. A 60ish north country girl with dark hair, silver over her ears, penetrating, positive eyes, and lovely physique, she is a bit frenetic with details and orderliness. She’s depressed after years of declining restaurant business due to regional economic decay and the globalization of manufacturing. Now, the business is devastated by the 2020 Corona Pandemic. She tries to keep hope with daily menu specials, local advertising, minimalist web presence; wider marketing isn’t affordable. She holds onto hope even as crying spells overtake her when customers leave and no one is left in the restaurant. The governor allows restaurants to open up again, but business is slow. She dreams Winslow sings and people come. She tells him the dream. He starts singing on the outside front step which brings people in.
Winslow is co-proprietor, former forester, cook, menu designer, dishwasher, floor and bathroom cleaner. He is 65, a good-looking, gangly, rust-skinned, intuitively bright, down-country guy who finds the Adirondacks in college and never leaves. Aloof, listless, a bit aimless after leaving his career as a forester, disgusted by industrial forestry, he identifies as a practical mystic. He pretends he is a calligraphy artist at his twelve by twelve hermitage on borrowed land in the mountains, where he retreats most Mondays and Tuesdays, designs menus for the week. He gets into singing after reading the biography of Brother Roger of Taize, remembers a stop in Taize, France, in his vagabond year between high school and college. He revels in online learning of spiritual chants from diverse traditions. He sings in the kitchen as he works, hoping it will cheer up Helen; then, after her dream, begins singing to bring in customers.
Helen and Winslow meet at an outdoor concert in Lake Placid, both recovering from wicked divorces. Their love for each other grows along with their appreciation for the restaurants they visit in a kind of pilgrimage to find the most unique places to eat and drink. Ten years ago, they decide to marry and go into business together, both having had lots of experience in the restaurant business. They find a down-and-out diner in Snake Den Harbor, mortgage it, renovate it, and live in the upstairs apartment. They give it a new name and a new sign befitting the geography of the place, re-configure it for lunch and dinner, tables instead of booths. Renovations include a lacquered live-edge four-inch thick pine-slab bar with four funky stools. Hippy-dippy barnboards decorate the walls, with ‘60s wall hangings which Helen hangs with her amateur interior designer ability – including a Woodstock poster and a framed portrait of Bob Dylan, enlarged from the cover of his “John Wesley Harding” album. They put a deck out the back for warm weather outdoor dining. Helen resisted this due to the impoverished neighborhood view. Winslow knows the distant view could be a draw but the days are rare when it’s warm enough to sit out there and still be clear enough to see all five of Vermont’s four-thousand foot peaks, from Mansfield to Killington. Some customers don’t come back because they are disappointed not to see the long view, complain about the unpleasing near view.
Henry, retired carpenter, MAGA hat wearer, widower, veteran, regular customer. He is 70, called “little but mighty” and “handsome body” in his high school year book, gets out of Utica poverty when drafted by the army in 1970. He makes it home from Vietnam alive but damaged. It takes a few years to recover from a severe foot injury with intractable infection. It takes a few decades to get a handle on severe PTSD from watching the brutal deaths of his buddies and the horrific slaughter of Vietnamese civilians. He gets into carpentry with the help of an uncle, becomes a fine finish carpenter, enjoys good money, builds himself a rustic castle on a low cobble above the lake as he rebuilds his life. He marries his home-town honey, loses her young to tobacco-induced lung cancer in her late fifties. He quits nicotine, finds comfort in the café-like atmosphere of Snake Den Harbor Restaurant for almost daily lunch. In retirement from active carpentry, he volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, supervises the building of new homes for low income folks. His VFW friends convince him to vote for Trump; his conscience is mixed about the next election after the corrupt debacle of Trump’s first term.
Penny is a yoga instructor, home health aide, widow, Veterans for Peace contributor, becomes a regular patron of the restaurant. She is poor after decades of trusting the New Age dictum “do what you love and the money will follow.” Kundalini yoga is her passion from college years where she dabbles in academics but soars with her Sikh yoga teacher. Certified to teach, she finds it a tough way to make a living in her beloved Adirondacks. She waits on tables to get by, but that work is seasonal; she isn’t actually a very good server. Landlords evict her with no mercy. She does what she loves; the money doesn’t follow. She is fiercely independent, never feels enough trust in a man to rely on the support of a partner. Her early life was full of exploitation. Some men wouldn’t have exploited her, but she couldn’t imagine one. Her red hair frames her yogic face, falls long on her delicate figure. Her wrinkled eternal smile turns downward in a nano-second whenever she feels threatened. In a quasi-psychotic breakthrough at an Opening the Heart workshop she gets healing and the strength to protect herself. She begins to find somewhat adequate income combining social security at sixty-two with home health aide work, marries a guy who’s worthy of her but who is recently killed by a drunk driver. New grief produces new lines on her aging face.
Chief Sky, Snake Den Harbor police chief, is a Lakota native who marries a Mohawk wife he meets at a regional native American gathering. He is fascinated with his wife’s historic “Six Nations” Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) tradition with its creative rituals of reconciliation. He becomes a local restorative community-maker in his role as chief of police, applying the native ritual of the talking stick circle in restorative justice settings.
Rev Joy, new local progressive Protestant pastor at the Congregational Church on Main Street
Martha, her wife, restorative justice advocate
Amy, local restorative center facilitator
Floyd, African-American widower, grieving the death of his wife from Covid Pandemic
Micah, Floyd’s thirteen-year-old son, with his dad and sister a Fresh Air Family up for the Summer
Vanessa (Nessie), Floyd’s ten-year-old daughter, environmental activist, admires Greta Thunberg
Marie and Josh, young couple with their moody five-year-old son Owen
Gary and Karen, middle-aged couple, “Middle Americans,” like Winslow’s home-made wine
Zander, retired NPR executive with a second home in the area, fiddler
Harlan, offender guilty of racist taunt of children
Roland, F35 pilot, shot down
Garrett, TV reporter
Two nameless federal law enforcement officers
About one half hour before the opening of Scene One, an audio recording of Bob Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding,” side two, entertains arriving ticket-holders. Beverages are available. Dance floor is open for dancing, especially for the last three songs on side two, “Wicked Messenger,” “Down Along the Cove,” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.”
This legendary album contains themes that inform the musical. Side one of the album includes songs heard during some scene changes. Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “Along the Watchtower” – one of the Dylan songs on the album – constitutes the opening Overture.
Musical Playlist, Act One
Bob Dylan, “John Wesley Harding” album, side two
Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower” cover of Dylan song – Overture
Taize Community, “El Senor”
Nursery Song, “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”
Van Morrison, “Into the Mystic”
Taize Community, “Ne Boi Te Se”
Dylan, “Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest”
Traditional Cape Breton Gaelic Song, “Calum Crubach”
Calum Stewart, “Looking at a Rainbow Through a Dirty Window”
Sesame Street, “The Rainbow Connection”
Black-eyed Peas, “Where is the Love”
Talking Stick Circle Chant, “The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water”
Sound of Music, “The Hills are Alive”
Traditional Spiritual, “Every Time I Feel the Spirit”
Richie Havens, “Freedom”
Hymn, “We Shall Overcome”
Intermission – Bruce Springsteen, “ Wrecking Ball” album, sequence:
“Jack of All Trades”
“Death to My Hometown”
“We Take Care of Our Own”
“Land of Hope and Dreams”
Act Two Overture – Bruce Cockburn, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”
Bruce Cockburn, Wonderin’ “Where the Lions Are”
Joni Mitchell, “I Could Drink a Case of You”
Jimi Hendrix, “Star Spangled Banner”
Chopin, “Funeral March” (piano version)
Elvis Costello, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
Elvis Costello, “Brilliant Mistake”
Dylan, “Drifter’s Escape”
Neil Young, “No Wonder”
Dispatch, “Two Coins”
Four Seasons, “Workin’ My Way Back to You”
Elvis Costello, “I’ll Wear It Proudly”
Dylan, “John Wesley Harding”
Elvis Costello, “America Without Tears”
Rabinowitz, “Jerusalem,” Ambrosia Singers (“Chariots of Fire”) or John and Marianne Weaver
Van Morrison, “Someone Like You,” “Give Me My Rapture”
Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”
ACT ONE OVERTURE:
“All Along the Watchtower”
On a slow Friday night, Winslow sits in the dining room, finishes a bowl of the special of the day – Dandelion Duck Stew – with his second glass of his 2015 vintage dandelion wine. He sees Helen’s feeling down about so few patrons, as she hangs a worn picture of Bruce Cockburn she finds at a yard sale. Turned on by the sight of her hanging the picture in her light cotton dress with zip-up fleece, moved by her attempt at resilience, inspired by her dream, he goes to the open door on this Feast Day of Isidore the Farmer, of Madrid (May 15), and begins singing “El Senor” to the neighborhood, looks at Helen as he begins; she tries to smile… Locals driving home from work and hikers passing through on their way to the High Peaks for the weekend hear his singing from their cars, pull over and come in, jostling for tables in a bustling scene. Helen brightens with the business, hands out menus as she seats people. Winslow winks at her as he comes back inside, ties on his apron, and heads to the kitchen to prepare meals.
A stressed young couple – Josh and Marie – comes in with a bawling five-year-old. Helen seats them as far away as she can from other diners, tries to engage with the child.
HELEN – What’s your son’s name?
MARIE – Owen.
HELEN (to the child) – Here you go, Owen… (gives him a carrot stick and a celery stick, which Owen throws angrily to the floor and screams louder. She swishes to the kitchen.)
HELEN – The kid’s name is Owen. Maybe do your magic? I’ll take over in here.
Winslow grabs a plate of warm rolls and butter and a broom, exits the kitchen singing “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” and puts Owen’s name in the song, dances with the broom, tries to catch Owen’s eye, and when he does, Winslow scowls at him, playing peekaboo with the broom handle as he continues to dance and sing. Suddenly Owen’s howls turn into guttural laughing. Winslow brings the rolls to the table, smiling this time at Owen as he takes a big bite out of one of the rolls, chews animatedly in front of Owen like a clown. The stressed parents relax. Other diners take deep breaths and go back to their menus. Winslow returns to the kitchen.
WINSLOW – I better get back to work. You better take some orders out there. (He gives her a big kiss; she exits the kitchen.)
As Helen takes orders, lights go out.
END SCENE ONE
Same night, end of the evening. The last of the diners – a middle aged couple – get up from their table to go, obviously happy from consuming the entire bottle of dandelion wine they drink with their duck stew. At $18 a bottle, it’s a steal. Gary and Karen lean on each other as they rave about the wine.
KAREN – Thisss wine is sooooo good… you make it here?
HELEN – Yeah, my husband does – the cook. I’ll get him. (Helen summons Winslow from the kitchen)
GARY – So you’re the wine-maker, wow… not bad.
WINSLOW – Glad you like it. Fermented a few months, but it’s the five years in the basement that gives it that nice flavor. Just gotta wait.
KAREN – Aging like fine wine – that’s us! You too, you guys!
HELEN – Come back soon.
GARY – Oh, we will, we will.
WINSLOW – Drive safely… (they go out happy, waving, arms around each other)
HELEN – They had a good time.
WINSLOW – So did everybody tonight after Owen calmed down.
HELEN – Must’ve been the wine.
WINSLOW – And my dancing with the broom.
HELEN – And your singing.
WINSLOW – Yeah, love, felt the urge, just started singing.
HELEN – I think I like the new you.
WINSLOW – (sarcastically) You think?
HELEN – I know… it was, well, it was, just… it was good.
WINSLOW – Good? I thought it was spectacular.
HELEN – You really are coming out of your closet.
WINSLOW – Whoa, ho, no, my dear… it’s not that extreme; just want what’s good for us.
HELEN – It was good.
WINSLOW – Good for business. (he laughs)
HELEN – Good for you. (she approaches him, puts her hand on his bum; he pulls her to him)
WINSLOW – Good for us.
They hug like two worn out lovers, kiss like teens. Winslow lights a stick of patchouli-musk incense. They go upstairs, arm in arm, after turning out lights… Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” plays as they disappear up the stairs.
END SCENE TWO
Winslow sings “Ne Boi Te Se” on the doorstep at noon to call in diners, like an imam singing chants to call in the faithful for prayer. Henry is already seated, drinking coffee with the paper, not yet ready to order lunch.
Penny, visiting Snake Den Harbor from Glens Falls, hears Winslow’s lilting song, is drawn in for lunch. Helen greets her, seats her, chats up the menu.
HELEN- Special of the day is fresh local fiddlehead and shiitake soup with local grated goat cheese and homemade rosemary sourdough bread with Cabot butter.
PENNY- Sounds unbelievable. Say no more. I’ll have that with water, no ice.
HELEN- Coffee, tea?
PENNY- Maybe something herbal.
HELEN- Glad you asked… St. Johnswort, yarrow, red clover, mint – all homegrown or wildcrafted by my husband the cook, the singer.
PENNY- Oh my god…. You’re kidding me… um, I can’t decide…
HENRY- (butting in) I suggest St. Johnswort mixed with yarrow – good for mood and immunity.
PENNY- Oooo…kay… I’ll have that. (she looks away from him). Thanks.
Helen turns toward the kitchen. Henry picks up the conversation.
HENRY- Not from around here, are ya?
PENNY- Glens Falls.
HENRY- Practically a flatlander, then.
PENNY- (flashes him a fierce look) Not too flat where I live. Can’t be flat if there’s falls.
HENRY- Hudson River Falls.
PENNY- No, Hudson Falls is down river from me.
HENRY- I know, I know… just sayin’ it’s the Hudson River that goes through Glens Falls.
Penny waves him away, stops the conversation, ignores him. Helen brings her soup and bread.
PENNY- Thanks. Do you have a minute? (she intuits she can trust her; wants to talk)
HELEN- Yeah, sure. (sits down at an adjacent table between Penny and Henry, crosses her legs, relaxes; no other patrons besides these two)
PENNY- Can you tell me about housing up here? I mean, what a one bedroom place rents for? Thinking of moving up. (She slurps soup, wipes her mouth with her cloth napkin.) Home health supervisor where I am is… well… it’s just not working out. Need a change.
HENRY- (interrupting again) You can find any price up here. Lots of people here need to rent. Might even find a situation, like, where an elderly lady’d give you a place in exchange for snow-shoveling, yardwork, that sort of thing. Homeshare I think they call it.
PENNY- Heard of that. Thanks. (She turns back to Helen.) I used to wait tables. Need any help?
HELEN- I’m sorry, no, it’s just me serving. We’re…. well, no can’t take on any help right now, but I’ll keep you in mind. Um, so, you do home health aide work.
PENNY- Yeah. (They talk about the job market, possibilities. Helen tells her situations she knows about as Penny finishes lunch. She looks at her watch.) Oh… the time, gotta go. Appointment at one. May I get the check? (Helen brings her the check. Penny gets up in a hurry to leave, drops her check on the floor as she rushes to pay. It floats over toward Henry, drops at his feet. He picks it up as she turns.)
HENRY- I think you lost something. (Their eyes lock as he hands it to her.)
PENNY- Thanks. (He smiles at her as she turns away, pays the bill, looks back at him as she opens the door to go. He’s still smiling. She flashes on his MAGA hat on the rack by his jacket, looks away, leaves abruptly. The door slams.)
END SCENE THREE
Winslow and Helen in bed in upstairs loft waking up… Winslow reaches for the lamp, turns it on to start the scene as he wrestles to find his dream journal to feverishly write down the dream…
HELEN – Whaaaaat’s happening??
WINSLOW – Wicked dream; gotta get it on paper.
HELEN – What?
WINSLOW – Some kind of chaos in the lake. Patrons on the deck freak out, come tell us to come out. We all watch as something comes down into the water from the sky…
HELEN – Whoa… what???
Winslow writes furiously into his journal, lays back down, as if exhausted by the emotional valence of the dream. Helen reaches over to him to comfort him, hug him. Pillow talk…
HELEN – You okay?
WINSLOW – I will be. Big dream. Hard to let it go
HELEN – Any more detail? You say detail matters.
WINSLOW – Yeah, vaguely… I think it was a plane.
HELEN – We should invite the new pastor for lunch to talk about it. Paper said she’s a dream coach.
Scene fades…. Lights out
WINSLOW – (on the phone) Rev Joy? Is this Rev Joy?
REV JOY – Yes?
WINSLOW – Paper said they call you Rev Joy; is that how we address you?
REV JOY – Yes… who’s calling?
WINSLOW – I’m Winslow. My wife Helen and I run the restaurant opposite the church, down the street toward the lake. Welcome to the community; like to invite you for lunch today – on us – local brook trout I caught yesterday in the Boquet, breaded with stone ground cornmeal by local Amish farmers, fried in Cabot butter, with wild-crafted leeks and rosemary sourdough home-baked bread.
REV JOY – O my god, fabulous… may I bring my wife Martha?
WINSLOW – Of course. Come early so we can talk. We open at 11:30.
REV JOY – We’ll be there at 11:30 sharp. Thanks!
They hang up… interlude… lights down
11:30 on sign for mini-scene change
Greetings all around as Rev Joy and Martha arrive. They sit, all four, exchange the basics. Winslow interrupts the small talk as Helen gets up to serve meal already cooked, takes it from warm oven.
WINSLOW – So I had a big dream last night.
REV JOY – What did you dream?
Winslow tells them the dream.
REV JOY – So what do you make of the dream?
WINSLOW – Not sure. Jolted me.
REV JOY – No big unexpected landings in your life right now?
WINSLOW – No. (He lies; he’s got a secret.)
REV JOY – Sometimes something from the collective unconscious shows up.
WINSLOW – Felt like that.
REV JOY – So what’s your response to the dream?
WINSLOW – Keep watch of the lake.
REV JOY – You better…
They sip tea, sit in silence.
MARTHA – so may I ask you both a question?
HELEN – go for it. (Henry comes through the door; Helen gets up to bring him his coffee. He listens in on the conversation.)
MARTHA – Joy has her ministry. I have mine – restorative justice. Talked to the local center as soon as we got up here. They need more venues for Restorative Circles – local groups of citizen volunteers to meet with offenders addressing harm, making amends. You’ve got a great space here. Would you consider hosting a circle on a Monday or Tuesday when the restaurant is closed to the public? Has to be confidential. But one of you could volunteer, have a little income from coffee, tea, maybe this scrumptious rosemary bread or something like scones, maybe…
HELEN – Winslow’s usually in the mountains those days so I’d kind of enjoy the company.
MARTHA – I’ll invite the local restorative center facilitator over, look at dates, and set it up.
HENRY – Um, excuse me… been there, done that… years ago, as an offender. Maybe time for me to volunteer, I know the territory. But I’m a tough old bird.
MARTHA – We need tough old birds – compassionate old birds… two things needed: support and accountability. Can you walk in the shoes of a thief?
HENRY – Oh yeah; not quite my issue, but close enough.
MARTHA – There’s a vetting process. Write down your name and contact info for the team and we’ll get back to you. (Henry does, and gives it to her.)
HELEN – I have another suggestion for a volunteer. She’s in transition, but it might be a good way for her to plug in to the community. I’ll ask her about it.
MARTHA – Wow, good, thanks.
REV JOY – (standing up) Thanks for lunch. Exceptional. We’ll be back.
WINSLOW – Our pleasure. Come again.
They leave as Penny arrives.
HELEN – Good timing, my dear… meet Martha. And this is Rev Joy. This is Penny. We’ll talk and get back to you. (Rev Joy and Martha exit.) Great to see you… we need to talk…
PENNY – Okaaaayyy, but wait, first, did you hear about the snake bite?
HELEN – Whaaaat? Where, when, who….
PENNY – I was just interviewing the home health director about a job… seems like he’d be good to work for… anyway, he told me one of their caregivers had just got bit by a rattler on the ledges above Barn Rock Bay. She’s hospitalized. They got the venom out quick so she’ll live, but he’s taking me on while she’s laid up. He said he’s got enough work to guarantee me thirty hours a week plus health insurance, so I’m movin’ up!
HELEN – Fantabulous! Wow, so happy for you, big news; where will you live?
PENNY – I’ll find a place right here in the village, walking distance to you… feels like home already.
HELEN – Great, so, but, what about this snake? We haven’t had a snake bite in years.
PENNY – Duh, well, I guess they don’t call this place Snake Den Harbor for nothin’, deary…didn’t know rattlers could live this far north.
HELEN – We’ve got the honor of the northernmost population on the planet. Privileged, huh? (she sips tea) But there’ve been no bites for years. Wonder why now…
HENRY – (interrupting) I’ll tell you why now – people don’t respect the snakes. They go up there and drink and carouse… so what’s any self-respecting snake gonna do but protect itself? Ever see the cadusis – snake on a pole – seal of the American Medical Association? Snakes can heal, though sometimes the cure seems worse than the ailment.
He goes back to his coffee and his paper. Penny and Helen look at each other, smirking, and can’t stifle a laugh. They both burst out laughing.
HENRY – (smugly) You laugh. I’m tellin’ ya, that bite might wake us up. People should just stay out of where they don’t belong – and that’s all over – all over – like these F35s flyin’ over the mountains; don’t belong here. They’re out of place; send ‘em to Florida. Like oil companies exploiting First Nations cultures, like the oil trains clacking through here at two every morning with a hundred tankers of oil shale crude from Alberta on their way to Jersey refineries – in your back yard. Not okay. Get ‘em out of here…. Want me to go on? Suffice to say, it’s right in Dylan’s “Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.” “Don’t be where you don’t belong.” (shouts to the kitchen) Hey, Winslow, can you hear me? Play it!
Winslow comes out of the kitchen laughing, wipes his hands on his apron, shoots them an approving smile, goes back in, pushes a button on the player, Dylan’s ballad comes on… Winslow grabs Helen and starts dancing with her to the ballad, sings it to her and she laughs. This goes on for a while. Henry and Penny tap their feet, aware of each other’s tapping feet, cast curious glances at each other… when the lights go down for scene change, the music continues even as the dancing stops…
Long interlude to hear the song
END OF SCENE FOUR
A Friday night / Celtic Night / Celebrating the Feast Day of Columba / June 9
Winslow stands on the top of the steps up to the restaurant, sings “Calum Crubach” beating on his bodhran, dancing a little step dance as he sings.
Poster board menu: Local lamb and mint jam, Vermont Haggis, fresh asparagus, Cape Breton single malt drams for $9. Double dram $16.
Mary and Josh drive by with Owen in the back seat. Owen sees Winslow from the car, shouts
OWEN – Winslow, Winslow!! (Winslow waves back; they stop, park, walk to step)
OWEN – What’s that song? (Winslow kneels down to Owen’s level to talk to him)
WINSLOW – “Calum Crubach” – Crippled Calum… Calum is a shepherd of sheep…you know sheep?
OWEN – (cutely, smiling) Those funny, furry white doggies in the field…
WINSLOW – Yes, and Calum’s sheep have eaten all the grass in their pasture so he asks his rich neighbor if he can graze the sheep there, but the rich guy refuses… you know “refuses”?
OWEN – He won’t let him…
WINSLOW – Exactly, but Calum asks again and again and the rich guy finally says okay, so the sheep go over and are happy for fresh grass to eat…
OWEN – (interrupting, out of the blue) Why do sheep eat grass?
WINSLOW – (without skipping a beat) Why do little boys eat sheep?
OWEN – I don’t eat sheep. I eat lamb.
WINSLOW – That’s what we call sheep meat – lamb – okay? So come in and have some!
They come in, Helen seats them, then Winslow comes in followed by Zander, a guy with a fiddle who starts playing as he walks, gives Winslow a wink on the way to the bar. Helen sets him up with a wee dram on the house. They sing and drum and fiddle together “Looking at a Rainbow Through a Dirty Window” by Calum Stewart.
Owen loves it at first but then, as he waits, he has a fit, upset like the first time. Helen comes over with butter and rolls, but it doesn’t help… meanwhile in comes Henry with his Fresh Air family – Floyd, 56, with thirteen-year old Micah and ten-year old Vanessa (She’s called Nessie). The kids gravitate to Owen, engage with him, calm him… Josh and Mary wave to Floyd that it’s okay. Helen seats them at an adjacent table. The kids interact, table to table.
Zander, retired NPR executive, asks for a seat on the deck. Helen seats him, gives him a menu, but he looks up from the menu to see a rainbow over Vermont, comes back inside to report it.
ZANDER – Rainbow – double rainbow – over Vermont! Better come see…
Adults don’t, but Micah and Nessie lead Owen out; they marvel.
NESSIE – O my god! Wow, holy….
After silent awe, Zander starts singing “The Rainbow Connection.” The kids listen, spellbound. Diners in the restaurant hear it, listen…
INTERLUDE / mini-scene change; fade out, fade in again
People are finishing up, exiting, and after Zander leaves, Helen finds a hundred-dollar bill under the meal check, holds it up visibly toward the light, as if to make sure it’s not counterfeit, smiles broadly.
HELEN – Hey Winslow.
WINSLOW – Hey what?
HELEN – You better come out here. (He does and they marvel at the Benjamin, embrace)
END SCENE FIVE
Martha and Restorative Center facilitator, Amy, arrive on a Tuesday at the restaurant with two seasoned restorative justice actors, Prisca and Acquila. Helen unlocks the door on a day the restaurant is closed; Winslow is away in the mountains. They are there for a training with prospective volunteers, to vet them for restorative circle participation. Close behind Martha and Amy is the arrival of Penny, then Henry with Floyd, Micah, and Nessie.
Henry is bringing his Fresh Air family to meet locals interested in restorative justice. Martha thanks Helen for hosting and making coffee and scones available, conducts introductions. Floyd speaks up.
FLOYD – I wanted to meet you, introduce my kids to you. My wife Ardeen died from Covid. She was a nurse where we live in Brooklyn. We’re grieving hard. Glad to be here to take a break for the Summer thanks to Henry – veteran to veteran. He’s made us feel at home. He told me about the restorative programs here. Like to learn more, maybe take it back with me when we return to the city. Mind if I observe?
AMY – Mind? It’s what we do. Thanks for observing, but it might get a little boring for the kids.
FLOYD – Micah, Nessie, take a walk. Go down to Stewart’s and buy us some chocolate. Here’s a five. (He hands them the bill.) Take your time. Find a bench at the park. Enjoy the lake. Remember the rainbow. I’ll be here. (They go.)
AMY – All right then, let’s get to work. Here’s what we do. Cut to the quick: In a nutshell this work is about support and accountability. Offenders need something – maybe boundaries, maybe awareness of harm or consequences, maybe the extent to which they’re in denial, maybe resources for treatment, et cetera, et cetera. Could be a lot of different needs they need to get in touch with, through your patient respect of them as persons. They are persons, not criminals. Repeat: offenders need something. You give them what they need. Any questions??? (She asks it with a probing smile, looking at the circle around the table.)
CACAPHONY – No, no questions… sure, clear as mud… sure thing, boss… (nervous laughter)
AMY – Okay, then, here we go… we dispense with normal thorough introductions because we’ve already done that, and this is a trial balloon, but try to make it real. The only thing you need to know at this point is that the case is about theft and breaking and entering – theft of a valuable original painting from a Summer home. So, pushing the button, I give you Acquila and Prisca, thieves…. (They take bows, as if proud, laughing at the intro; they sit.)
ACQUILA – Yes, indeed, we pride ourselves in stealing… but only from rich people.
PRISCA – that’s right. (they continue laughing sarcastically)
HENRY – Not right. You think just because people are wealthy, it’s okay to rip them off?
ACQUILA – Well, ye-ah…
HENRY – Well, let me tell you something. You’d call me rich. I made a lot by hard work, long hours, fine carpentry. I don’t care to be ripped off, thank you.
PRISCA – You’re like all the rest – just too privileged for your white breeches…
HENRY – Whoa, ho, now wait just a damn minute please…
AMY – (goes to him, massages his shoulders, whispers in his ear) Take it easy; easy does it.
HENRY – (pauses; takes a long breath) So let’s get this straight. You’re in trouble for theft and burglary. Not okay. Want to adjust the tax system so I pay more? Fine. Go vote for that. Want to ask wealthy folk for help? Good. Just make sure you invite them, meet them personally. They’re people too. They don’t deserve to be violated. I got a chainsaw ripped off; never got it back. Not okay. I needed that saw.
He looks around the table, sees he’s said too much. He stops. Long silence.
ACQUILA – (deep breath) I think I get you. Sorry I was rude.
PRISCA – (still cynical) So what do you want from us?
HENRY – Want? I want justice. Can you restore to the victim what she lost? Do you still have the painting?
ACQUILA – Yeah, we do. Couldn’t find a buyer. We’ll return it. Sorry, man; we were hard up.
AMY – Return it through us, of course. Not impossible to arrange for that personally with Alberta. I’m using her name because it’s public information, and to give a face to the one who doesn’t want to be identified as a victim, but as a person…I can see if she’d be open to connecting with you all here at some point.
ACQUILA – Yeah, okay.
AMY – Prisca?
PRISCA – I guess.
AMY – You guess?
PRISCA – (still a residue of resentment) I can, okay? I can do it.
Henry sits back in his chair, hands behind his head.
MARTHA – Thanks. One step at a time. When I stole young, my conscience helped me get over it, make amends. Seems like you have a conscience. But there’s more… gotta ask: how can your lives be better? What do you need to feel less on the edge, more geared to not steal?
PRISCA – How ‘bout a decent chance for a decent wage?
PENNY – Maybe a decent place to live?
ACQUILA – Yeah, you should see our hovel down by the tracks…
Interruption: kids come running in. Nessie is crying.
NESSIE – (sobbing) Guy in a truck yells “nigger, go home.” (runs to her dad for a hug)
MICAH – Awful, awful. Never forget that guy in his black pickup, as if black trucks matter. White supremacist flag in the back. (stands by his sister)
AMY – O my god, I’m so sorry… did you get the license plate number?
MICAH – New York plates. Only got the first three numbers – 619.
HENRY – C’mon. Let’s go. I know the Chief. He’ll do a computer search, find the guy, charge him with harassment and disturbing the peace. (He goes out with Floyd, Micah, and Nessie. Those remaining feel stunned and angry.)
CACAPHONY – (muttering of disgust)
MARTHA – That’s a guy who needs this process.
HELEN – If he’d be ready; hardly seems ready.
AMY – We’ll see… but let’s debrief the training. I want to say congrats. Henry was on the edge but he kept his cool. Sometimes in some cases, it takes some careful confrontation to break the denial. He pulled it off, like he was made for this work. Tell him.
PENNY – I’m curious to hear from our thieves… I felt like I could relate to your struggle; tried to convey that. How’d we come across?
ACQUILA – You got it. We got it that you got it.
HELEN – Prisca?
PRISCA – Okay, except isn’t it all just words? Pushing you here. Penny, get into your feeling-side more as you speak. Express that – like Henry. Put your emotion into what you’re saying. We’ve had board members cry when we tell them our story.
AMY – Gotta stop. You passed. Keep it up. Be creative. Bring respect for the person even when you know you have feelings, observations, questions, and, yes, confrontation with care.
MARTHA – You guys are on your way. Tell Henry. Next time, the real deal.
PENNY – Wait… before we stop can we just think for a minute about Nessie and Micah? And Floyd… can we imagine how much rage he must be feeling right now? I’ll call Henry to check in, see how they’re doing… (she gets out her phone, starts to call him… lights dim)
END SCENE SIX
Next day… Helen has told Winslow what happened, has invited Henry, Floyd, Micah, and Nessie for a free lunch. When they get to the door, just as they enter, as if on cue, Winslow puts on a Karaoke version of “Where is the Love” by Black-eyed Peas, starts singing, swaying with the hip hop rap beat of the song. He invites them to sing the chorus together, which they do… white geezer doing pretty good hip hop amuses them all.
Helen has seated them with their menus. Penny comes in shortly after, in time to sing the chorus after verse one, then Zander, Martha and Rev Joy in time for the chorus after verse two, then Chief Sky in time to join in on the chorus on verse three… this has all been choreographed in advance by Winslow. As the song fades out, Nessie starts applauding Winslow.
NESSIE – You’re gooooooood! (Winslow takes a bow.)
WINSLOW – All for you. All for you.
FLOYD – Thanks. Helps. We had a rough night. I’ll sleep a little better after this. (He laughs a low laugh.)
HELEN – For what it’s worth, I just have to say, jackass supremacists are a rare breed here.
HENRY – But they’re around. I know some. Need to be confronted. This one will be. Chief Sky is pretty confident they can nail this guy from the three digits Micah got.
CHIEF SKY – We’ll find him, bring him in for questioning. Even if we can’t get a conviction, I’ll ask the D.A. for a Restorative Center referral so the guy can reform.
Penny enters; goes immediately to the kids.
PENNY – Hey… you guys okay?
MICAH – We’re fine. (thirteen-year-old tries out his tough guy side)
PENNY – Oh, my god, I was so appalled at what happened.
NESSIE – What’s “appalled”?
PENNY – Outraged, angry, sad – that you were called a bad name. (She sits at adjacent table)
FLOYD – Chief Sky was great. (He looks over at Chief Sky) You’re into community policing. You think there might be justice here?
CHIEF SKY – On some level there will be if I have anything to do with it. I’ve been hated too – for being native. But we have standards of behavior in these parts. It’s in the Haudenasaunee Constitution – the Constitution of the Six Nations Confederation from a thousand years ago when the Mohawk joined with the Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, and later, Tuscarora to become Haudenasaunee – what the French called Iroquois.
Anyway, the Constitution of the men and women chiefs ended a long period of brutal vengeful warfare. A savior came to us – Deganawidah – who, with Hiawatha and Jigonasee, heroically stopped the senseless bloodshed. They established elaborate rituals for preserving and recreating the New Order, but it got forgotten.
The kids are looking bored just as Josh and Marie come in with Owen. They brighten and go with them to the deck where Helen seats them.
CHIEF SKY – (continuing) Not well known that Ben Franklin came to us and consulted with us in drafting the Articles of Confederation and later the U.S. Constitution… suffice to say…
We do not tolerate intolerance in our land. Intolerance is intolerable and will not be tolerated. So there will be a reckoning with this offender and you can count on me to find a way to get it done.
Your Restorative Circle here is our best shot for reforming this guy. If you connect with him, engage with him, find the source of his intolerance, he will respond to you better than any court process. That tends to be impersonal and retributive. This is personal and restorative.
People get quiet, reflecting on the gravitas of the Chief’s soliloquy. Helen realizes she forgot to bring Penny a menu, does so, but Penny waves her off…
PENNY – Just bring me the fresh greens and goat cheese salad, deary, with balsamic, and St. Johnswort iced tea… and, oh, can you recommend a carpenter? I need to replace the built-in bookshelves in my place…
HENRY – (interrupting) I can take a look. (Helen goes to the kitchen with Penny’s order.)
PENNY – I thought you were retired.
HENRY – I am. But this is for you. After lunch, show me. (He picks up his fork for his lunch, just served by Helen.)
Penny doesn’t respond. She’s a little unsure. Looks away. Gets out her phone for distraction.
Martha and Rev Joy (in clerical collar) enter. Floyd stands automatically; he respects clergy.
REV JOY – Would you be Floyd?
FLOYD – I would.
REV JOY – I’m Rev Joy from the local church, my wife Martha, (they nod), here to tell you I’m sorry about what happened, want to be in solidarity with you, healing with you. Kids with you?
FLOYD – Yeah… (He calls them in from the deck, they come in) Micah, Nessie, this is Rev Joy and Martha; Rev Joy and Martha, this is Micah and Nessie.
KIDS’ ECHO – good to meet you. (Rev Joy and Martha ditto)
REV JOY – We’re new here, but one thing we did right away is put up a Black Lives Matter sign. Like to do more; maybe a letter to the paper, with your permission.
FLOYD – If it’s not too personal. I don’t want us – our names – to be at the center of this. Refer to it as “the incident” but don’t bring us personally into it.
REV JOY – I can write it that way. Thanks. I’ll leave a copy here for you in advance to check.
FLOYD – Sounds good. (Rev Joy and Martha sit.)
Chief Sky’s phone rings. He answers, gets up, walks outside to take a call from the District Attorney. After he hangs up, he comes back in, taps Martha.
CHIEF SKY – (to Martha) Can you give me a minute? (she gets up, follows him out.)
MARTHA – (to Rev Joy) Order me the salad special and a herbal iced tea, no sugar.
Martha and Chief Sky stand on the steps outside, close the door tightly.
CHIEF SKY – State Po picked up the perp. Name’s Harlan. Fingerprinted, released on recognizance. The D. A. agreed with me. He’ll decide on a charge based on the results of Harlan’s first restorative circle meeting. So you’re on for Harlan for your first meeting if Amy agrees.
MARTHA – Tall order. Think we can handle it?
CHIEF SKY – With Henry you can. But others have to step up, not be intimidated. This guy is reach-able. I know him, know his situation. He’s not sick. But his hide is hard as solid steel. Gotta appeal to his heart.
MARTHA – I’ll set it up with Amy and the Circle for next Tuesday.
CHIEF SKY – I don’t always stay, but I feel like in this case I’ll hang around after I bring him in.
MARTHA – Good. That’ll help. Thanks.
END SCENE SEVEN
In the loft, Monday morning, Winslow awakes with energy and a song for his weekly trek to his mountain hermitage…
WINSLOW – The hills are alive with the sound of music… I go to the hills when my heart is lonely…
HELEN – How can your heart be lonely? Get back down here. It’s not time to get up. (pulls him back into bed) You have me. And you have your new singing persona that’s saving the restaurant.
WINSLOW – It’s just a song! Glad you like my singing, m’dear… you seem to like me too…
HELEN – Um, duh, ye-ah.
WINSLOW – Do you know how much you are loved? (He pulls her on top of him.)
HELEN – (sweetly) Well, no… no, I don’t think I do…
WINSLOW – Well then, m’dear, before your mountain man heads to his mountains, maybe he could show you… (He lifts her gently up and down. She giggles. He smiles widely.)
END SCENE EIGHT
First real deal for the new Restorative Circle. Henry, Penny, Helen, Martha, and Amy have pulled two tables together, chairs in a circle. Helen has coffee, tea, and fresh-baked strawberry scones available with a bowl for donations. Ten-dollar bills overflow the bowl.
Chief Sky brings in Harlan, 40s, black shirt and slacks, brown cowboy boots, a silver cross necklace, stern jaw, a far-away look in his eyes, and an attitude.
Henry gets up, goes to them as they arrive, shakes hands with both of them, welcomes them, helps break the ice, introduces Harlan one by one to the circle, makes everybody feel relaxed. They sit in the circle.
CHIEF SKY – So as I think everybody knows, Harlan’s here to prepare for pre-trial adjudication, which means depending on how things go today, the D. A. will act on charges related to what you’ve already seen in the affidavit – racist taunt of children. I’ll stay to observe, take notes for the D. A.
But first, my role is to present the talking stick and light this candle with a chant from my people… sings chant, “The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water”
AMY – All right, thanks Chief Sky… so Harlan, welcome to the circle. These folks you just met are volunteers, live locally, want to connect with offenders, give them a hand making a fresh start, helping in the process of naming harm, repairing wounds, taking responsibility.
This is a process that comes out of relationship, so we need to know each other, so we start with introductions. We’ll introduce ourselves with the talking stick, moving sunwise (clockwise) around the circle. When you have the stick, you speak from your heart. When you don’t, you are listening from your heart. I’ll start.
I’m Amy, passionate about restorative justice, restorative process, restorative community, glad we can be here in this great space, thanks to Helen and Winslow, and recommend the scones they bake fresh here, Harlan… here, take one. (She takes the plate, offers a scone; he takes one, enjoys it. She passes the stick to Martha.)
MARTHA – I’m Martha, named after the sister of Mary and Lazarus, friends of Jesus. Martha was an over-achiever, which is me (laughs). I just moved here from downcountry, glad for a restorative center to plug into because I believe in the power of this process, this circle… (passes the stick to Henry)
HENRY – Henry here… (he pauses long, examining the stick, looks Harlan in the eye, as if examining Harlan as he examines the stick). This maple talking stick is from the woods near here. I got it when I got back from Nam. I put a lot into this stick with a men’s group back then where the value of this circle process stuck. (He looks hard at Harlan again.) Try it out. Try to trust it. (passes the stick to Penny)
PENNY – Penny’s my name, but I’m considering going back to my given name – Penelope – to reclaim who I used to be, who I was, and who I could become again…
HENRY – Oh, Jesus… let it go, deary… Penny is a beautiful name…
PENNY – You shut! This is my introduction to Harlan, and you’re interrupting the protocol!
(The circle laughs at the spat, including Harlan; he feels he’s been let in on an inside joke.)
PENNY – (continues) As I was sayin’ I’m in transition – like you Harlan, in a way. And transition sucks. But if you have a good circle of friends – like this here around this circle – you weather it. You end up the better. (passes the stick to Chief Sky)
CHIEF SKY – My grandmother was full-blooded Lakota. Her family was isolated and marginalized. I try to keep tradition here with my people in my role as chief – we have a tradition of tolerance here. We get militant about intolerance. (passes stick to Helen)
HELEN – I’m Helen, owner here with my husband Winslow; hope you can meet him sometime. Glad you’re here, Harlan. Hope this works for you for finding change. Hope you can straighten things out in your mind, and if you want to know why I like black people, just ask…
HARLAN – I’m asking then; I’m asking. Why?
AMY – Wait… we’re not done with the intro circle… Harlan, take the stick from Penny, tell us a little about yourself, then come back to your question. (takes the stick from Helen)
HARLAN – I’m from here, folks were from here, native blood way back (looks at Chief Sky) but we’re mostly Scotch-French. No family to speak of… (voice trails off), construction work, mostly… (shrugs shoulders, goes quiet; doesn’t know what else to say)
AMY – Thanks, Harlan; now that we’ve gone around, put the stick by the candle, and go back to your question of Helen. Popcorn style back and forth now…
HARLAN – (puts the stick down) Yeah, just curious why you like black people. I don’t.
HELEN – Because I learned fifty years ago from black friends that intelligence and integrity is not about skin color. My black friends enriched my life. Gave me a zest for life, a sense of humor when I’ve always been such a serious person… I could go on… suffice to say I feel uncomfortable that you’re so uncomfortable with black folks that you did what you did.
HARLAN – Yeah, not comfortable. (He glares at her.) Dad was clear; don’t give ‘em an inch, he’d say…
HENRY – (intentionally deflecting Harlan’s focus on Helen) …implying they’d take a mile.
HARLAN – Yeah, I guess.
HENRY – And you took that in, got fear.
HARLAN – It was fear. I got told stories as a kid about the black bogeyman who’d come and get me…
CHIEF SKY – I got that too. Saw through it. Got over it. Knew it was bogus. Can you talk about what keeps you hooked on blacks as demons?
HARLAN – My dad. He’s dead now but made me promise to keep the white race white.
PENNY – Oh my god, Harlan… that’s a heavy load! Hard to shed. But you gotta – not just for Floyd and Micah and Nessie… can we bring them into this please??? – but for you – so you’re not so weighed down. (Harlan looks down, silent.)
AMY – Harlan, can you talk about your dad, what your relationship was like?
HARLAN – We were close. We were poor. We fished for supper. Mom was depressed, so dad’s energy energized me. So when he died a couple years ago, it was tough… still is… (he tears up)
The circle is quiet. Henry passes the Kleenex to Harlan, who takes one, blows his nose. Uncomfortable with feeling vulnerable, he tries to regain his composure.
HARLAN – Look, this is getting to me. I keep seeing the terror in the eyes of those poor kids. Dad’s dead. Can’t let him run my life anymore. Biggest thing is getting offline. It’s the online stuff that’s keeping me out-a-line.
MARTHA – You mean supremacist web sites?
HARLAN – Yeah, it’s sick. Been tryin’ to get off for a while. But it’s like a drunk gettin’ sober. Not easy.
AMY – There’s help for that. You nailed it. You’re addicted to hate. There’s help. We’ll talk after.
HARLAN – Okay, but there’s something else… any way I can face this family and apologize? (he looks around the circle, eyes glistening, barely holding it together)
AMY – Not impossible. We’ll see. Thanks for offering… and maybe this is enough for one day. Let’s go around with the stick for a closing. Just share one word to describe how you’re feeling as we end the session. For me… (takes the stick, takes a deep breath)… hopeful. (passes to Martha)
MARTHA – (deep breath) Still some kind of deep sadness. (passes to Henry)
HENRY – Relieved (passes to Penny)
PENNY – Oh, I guess happy! (passes to Chief Sky)
CHIEF SKY – Optimistic (passes to Helen)
HELEN – Hopeful, too… (looks at Amy; passes to Harlan)
HARLAN – Relief.
AMY – Thanks… and please pass the stick around to Chief Sky again for the closing chant, extinguishing the candle, which he does.)
END SCENE NINE
Special Friday evening Juneteenth (June 19) special on menu board: Bass Salad, Sweet Potato Fries, Strawberry Shortcake, Winslow on the step singing “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.”
Martha and Rev Joy have invited Henry, Floyd, Micah, and Nessie to supper at the restaurant. They come in, but Rev Joy stays with Winslow on the steps, harmonizing the hymn, pouring their hearts into it together like a duo practicing to go on the road… they come inside on the last verse, to serenade the tables – two tables pushed together, six chairs.
Helen brings menus as Rev Joy sits. Winslow exits to kitchen after exaggerated bow, applause.
HELEN – So great to have you! Happy Summer Solstice! Big deal here in the north country where the Winters are long, cold and snowy… Happy Juneteenth! “Freedom… freedom…” (she sings the first bars of Richie Havens’ classic) But you’re hungry! You saw the special on the menu board…
FLOYD – Local bass from the lake?
HELEN – Of course!
FLOYD – I’ll have that. (They all order the special; make a joke about it. Helen exits to kitchen)
REV JOY – So while we’re waiting, really wanting to check in… Nessie, how are you feeling about what happened?
NESSIE – I’m better. Henry told us it’s not a regular thing here.
REV JOY – Doesn’t take away the harm that was done to you, dear… what you felt – the fear, and later the anger and sadness – it’s okay to feel all that. (pauses) Micah?
MICAH – I’m okay… uh, no I’m not. Depressed, really. Depressed that I have to deal with this when I’m supposed to be on vacation. Dad says especially for me as a black teen boy it’s just a start. More to come.
REV JOY – That may be. Good your dad’s preparing you. At the same time, you have a lot of support. Martin King guides all of us. You’re never alone. We’re here for you.
FLOYD – Thanks. We all needed to hear that. We’re Brooklyn Black Gospel but we don’t wear it on our sleeves. Good to connect on the level of the faith right now…
MARTHA – (sees an opening to jump in) And on that level, put on your faith for a question I have for you; not an easy question. The guy in the pickup met with our restorative justice circle, feels badly, has asked to apologize…
FLOYD – (interrupting, bristling) Okay for him, not for us.
MARTHA – Okay; main thing is I wanted to give you the information. (Silence as Helen brings dinners to the table, sings “We Shall Overcome” as she serves. They all join in.)
NESSIE – (as she takes her first bite) Um, so, wow, the man’s sorry?
REV JOY – Yes, people can change, when they’re given a chance. Floyd, you don’t have to be present to this guy to hear his apology, but if, and I know it’s a big if, if you were able to be, with the restorative circle there for support, it might be good for you – to feel like you’re helping a guy who’s trying to reform.
FLOYD – (chewing, doesn’t look up) I’ll think about it.
Penny comes through the door, visibly upset, but then sees the six together eating.
PENNY – Oh, hi… I need to talk with Helen… sorry… (she stops, sits adjacent as they seem glad for the interruption, she sees them focusing on her) … feeling stunned by another drunk driving death; bums me out every time. My husband was killed by a drunk driver… but you guys have enough on your plate already. (looks at their plates) Oh my god, Winslow’s bass salad… aren’t you lucky!
Helen comes out of the kitchen.
PENNY – There you are; need to talk, not right now, but… well, as long as I have the floor, I want you to know I’ll be away for a while – Opening the Heart workshop for grievers. I just can’t seem to get over losing Kurt… he didn’t deserve to die! (cries, takes handkerchief from Helen). There were days when I hoped that drunk perp would burn in hell! Then I realized I was living in the hell of revenge, needed to let it go. Mandela said nursing a grudge is like drinking poison…
HENRY – Just don’t meet some guy and fall in love, okay? (She looks at him with a weak frown.)
Marie and Josh arrive with Owen; sit at adjacent table; kids connect table to table; Henry goes to Penny’s table to comfort her, apologize for being flip with her. They get a little distance while others chat softly. Helen takes Josh and Marie’s order for the special, goes to kitchen.
HENRY (to Penny) Sorry it’s been so hard. (she’s quiet, looks at him, looks for trust, for true concern) Who was the drunk diving victim?
PENNY – Eighteen-year old kid, speeding, wrapped around a tree (she blows her nose).
HENRY – Didn’t take anybody else with him, then.
PENNY – No.
HENRY – That’s good.
PENNY – Still so tragic.
HENRY – When I lost Lydia, my heart broke. I was lost for five years. I loved her to her core. We gave up tobacco together so she could beat the cancer, but it still got her. I was a basket case.
PENNY – Kurt had been through a lot too, just starting to come into his own at sixty. “Life begins at sixty!” he’d say.
Helen brings plates out to Josh and Marie, goes over to Penny and Henry’s table, as Micah, Nessie, and Owen go out to the deck.
HELEN – I’ve been eavesdropping on you two… glad you could talk. You’re both grieving pretty hard… Hey want to come for brunch the Monday after you get back? We’re not open but you guys could come for bloody marys, Irish coffees, strawberry scones. We’re up to our ears in strawberries. You gotta help us use ‘em up! The only requirement is you have to sing…
They look at each other and affirm the invitation with nods.
Rev Joy and Martha stand to go. Floyd stands too.
FLOYD – (to Martha) I’ll hear this guy. When’s the circle?
MARTHA – Tuesday, ten o’clock. It’s a good group. Thanks.
The kids come running back in from the deck…
KIDS – There’s a plane down in the lake!
Everybody goes running to the deck; Helen gets Winslow. They exchange glances, remembering the dream, as he wipes his hands on his apron. They go to look with the others.
END SCENE TEN / END ACT ONE / INTERMISSION: Bruce Springsteen “Wrecking Ball” album selections, in the following sequence: “Rocky Ground,” “Jack of All Trades,” “Death to My Hometown,” “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Land of Hope and Dreams”
ACT TWO OVERTURE:
“If I Had a Rocket Launcher”
Henry’s at the restaurant door early, knocks; Winslow unlocks.
HENRY – (walks in briskly, to Winslow)… F35, shot down. Pilot survived, saved by boaters on the lake; pulled him out just before the jet sank. Bad oil spill. (takes a seat at the bar. Helen draws him a draft Guinness mixed with Heddy Topper (North Country Black and Tan))
HELEN – Shot down? What? How? From where?
HENRY – New York side of the lake. That’s all they know right now.
WINSLOW – Um, so, they’ll be looking for some charismatic anarchist in the mountains who’d do this?
HENRY – (looks at Winslow quizzically) Charismatic? You mean lunatic? (Winslow ignores the question.)
HELEN – god, o my god… whoever it is, must be pretty crazy even if you don’t like F35s. But the gun… what kind of a gun would it take?
HENRY – Not a gun, a missile, probably a little missile with ordinance that explodes when it hits. If it is what I think it is, it’s a miracle that jet didn’t disintegrate, a miracle the pilot survived. Not legal for civilians, but a bunch of desperate techies could build one.
PENNY – (comes through the door urgently, sees Henry is already there at the bar, sits next to him on the adjacent bar stool.) Thought you’d be here early… (sees he’s drinking a pint) Isn’t it a little early for a pint?… Um, draw me one too, Helen, dear. (She does.) So you heard the news?
HENRY – Ye-ah.
PENNY – Wow, who the hell would do this?
HENRY – Lots of anarchists in these mountains. Maybe even upstanding citizens, in secret, like the Klan for anti-militarism.
HELEN – But what’s the point in just shooting one down? There’s dozens of ‘em now flying out of Burlington, right Winslow?
WINSLOW – (sarcastically) Yeah, South Burlington, forty thousand bucks a flight, somewhere around a hundred million each to manufacture, give or take a few million. So they crank out a hundred of ‘em for only about ten billion, and for what? To carry nukes.
PENNY – How do you know so much?
WINSLOW – Studied it. I’m with Henry. They don’t belong here.
PENNY – But crazy people shooting them down? Gimme a break. I mean, I’m with Veterans for Peace opposing their basing here, but they’re committed to nonviolence.
HENRY – Sooooo… this new restorative circle may have its hands full.
HELEN – Hardly. These lunatics will be hauled down the river to Sing Sing in a nano-second.
Silence, momentarily, as Winslow disappears into the kitchen
PENNY – So… I couldn’t not come back before my workshop. Had to stop in on my way to the train, ‘specially to see you to talk, with this jet crashing… I mean, you’re practically my friggin’ family.
HENRY – (alertly) What did you say?
PENNY – Scratch that… so sorry to be so profane.
HENRY – But family? We’re family?
PENNY – Don’t read nothin’ into it.
HENRY – I like you, too, m’dear. (looks at her humbly, with love in his eyes)
PENNY – Didn’t say I liked you.
HENRY – You implied you saw me like family.
PENNY – Thinkin’ more of Helen, really. (She lies.)
Helen has by now stepped aside from the bar. No other customers yet, so she sits at a table. Winslow comes out with two cups of coffee, sits with her; they’re obviously eavesdropping.
HENRY – (to Penny) I’ll miss you. (looks for a response from her) When will you be back?
PENNY – (shyly, not looking at him) Three days; just the weekend plus a little.
HELEN – (looking at her watch) Um, Penny, my dear, did you say you were taking the train?
PENNY – Yeah.
HELEN – Arriving in fifteen minutes.
PENNY – Oh, no! (She jumps up, gathers her stuff.)
HENRY – I’ll take you.
They leave in a hurry; Henry leaves two fives on the bar for the pints, Penny does not object. They wave goodbye as they fly out the door.
Helen and Winslow are left sitting at the table.
HELEN -Wondered if they’d connect. There’s affection, but they’re like oil and water.
WINSLOW – More like oil and vinegar, m’dear – good combo for dressing on a salad.
HELEN – Don’t count your chickens yet.
WINSLOW – As a matter of fact, I was counting those Amish chickens in the freezer; need to use them; pulled out ten to thaw.
He starts singing Cockburn’s classic “Wonderin’ Where the Lions Are,” gets up, goes to the door, opens it, stands on the step singing as Karen and Gary, Josh and Mary and Owen, come in for lunch.
END SCENE ONE / Cockburn singing “Wonderin’ Where the Lions Are” during the scene change
Canada Day / July 1 / Three days later / Evening: Winslow takes menu board out to front step singing Canadian Bruce Cockburn’s “Wonderin’ Where the Lions Are”
On menu board: Barbecued Chicken with Mint Potato Salad / Balkan garlic cucumber yogurt with grapes
Penny stands just inside the door helping Helen by handing out menus. She’s back from her workshop, feeling gratitude and restoration from her time away, wants to give back to the restaurant crowd that’s become her community.
Henry comes in, takes a menu from her, bows to her, takes his hat off to her, like a renaissance dauphin to his lady, starts singing “I Could Drink a Case of You” by Joni Mitchell
HENRY – “I could drink a case of youououou… oh, darlin’ and I would still be on my feet… I would still be on my feet… if you need me, I’ll be in the bar…”
PENNY – Not with Joni, I hope. (She winks at him.)
Full house, everybody comes in; the tables are full, so Henry and Penny have to hang out at the bar. Helen is busy with orders; Winslow bartends.
HENRY – (to Penny as she comes to the bar to sit) Well, my dear, in celebration of your return, and in celebration of Canada Day, I’m buying tonight.- anything from the Scottish Commonwealth of Nations.
PENNY – Anything??
HENRY – Anything.
PENNY – All right then, Winslow, set us up with a couple drams of Lagavulin single malt… (she puts on her best Scottish accent) (Winslow sets them up with a smile)
HENRY – We need a proper toast for this… Slainte’!
PENNY – Slainte’ Mhath! … didn’t know you knew the Gaelic toast!
HENRY – There’s a lot you don’t know about me, sweetheart, things I think you could love.
She smiles, then looks away. They sip in silence for a moment, study each other, glance furtively at each other.
PENNY – (after a pause) So one of the things I want you to know about me is that I’m Penelope now…
HENRY – Whaaaaat? Really? Nooooo….
PENELOPE – Yeeeeessssss… it’s my given name, and it was taken from me, so I’m taking it back.
HENRY – But why? Penny’s beautiful. (looks at her quizzically)
PENELOPE – I have to take it back after it was given back to me at the workshop. Taking it back is part of taking back myself, getting my self back after I kinda lost it for decades.
HENRY – I just don’t know, my dear… you seem more like Penny than Penelope (exaggerates the pronunciation).
PENELOPE – Get used to it (chides him with her eyes for scoffing). You just need yoga, that’s all…
HENRY – I do yoga every night; helps me sleep.
PENELOPE – You dooooooo?? You voted for Trump and you do yoga?! (She starts laughing hard, can’t stop, laughs so hard the restaurant hears her, looks over, so she covers her mouth, finally settles down, takes another sip of scotch.)
HENRY – Glad you’ve settled into that information… ah, and from now on, you just need to call me “Henri.” (exaggerates the French pronunciation) (she starts laughing again)
LIGHTS DIM / END SCENE TWO
Restorative Circle meets again with Harlan in the restaurant. Floyd is present this time.
Amy arranges a half-hour pre-briefing with Floyd and the Circle, before Harlan enters.
AMY – Welcome to the Circle, Floyd, and for going the extra mile to be here. Know that this Circle is safe space. Count on that.
We use a native talking stick process, usually with an invocation from Chief Sky. I’ll start it today. (chants invocation, lights candle, picks up the stick from the table)
Let’s check in around the Circle, how we’re feeling today, and how we’re feeling about the Circle. I’m feeling glad you’re here, Floyd. (passes stick)
MARTHA – I’m feeling pretty positive about our chances to make some progress today. (passes stick)
HENRY – (pauses long, examines the stick, turns it in his hands) Nervous. (passes stick)
PENELOPE – a little anxious… trying to trust the process. (passes stick)
HELEN – Hopeful. (passes stick)
FLOYD – Yeah… anxious. (looks at Henry and Penelope) This is a stretch. I feel like hanging back; just try to listen. (passes stick)
AMY – Honor that, Floyd, but when you feel moved, share how you feel about the taunt. Harlan expects to hear that from you. (to all) Remember… we’re open to Harlan’s request to meet with the Circle because Chief Sky thinks Harlan is ready for change. With that in mind, looking for that, let’s welcome Chief Sky and Harlan to the Circle.
She gets up, goes out, comes back through the door with Chief Sky and Harlan. Henry gets up, does what he does, shakes hands, introduces Floyd across the room.
HENRY – Floyd, this is Harlan. Harlan, this is Floyd, father of Nessie and Micah. (they nod)
AMY – Chief Sky, we’ve lit the candle, blessed the Circle and the stick… your turn to pick it up, share your hopes for the session, then pass to Harlan to check in, then we go popcorn style.
CHIEF SKY – (picks up the stick) All I know is we’re all in this together.
Harlan’s heard my sermon on tolerance already.
With the stick, and with the Circle,
I expect us to go beyond what divides us. (pauses)
That’s all. (passes stick to Harlan)
HARLAN – (deep breath, studies the stick in his hands, looks at Floyd…) Can’t say how sorry I am for what I said to your kids. (puts the stick on the table)
FLOYD – Can’t say how enraged I feel that my kids had to go through this.
HARLAN – If I was their dad, I’d be dangerous.
FLOYD – I feel dangerous.
HARLAN – I keep seeing their eyes – keep seeing how afraid they looked.
FLOYD – I see it every day. It’s been weeks. They’re still traumatized.
HARLAN – Can they get treatment?
FLOYD – They’re talking to Rev Joy. Maybe you should talk to Rev Joy.
HARLAN – Talking to an addiction therapist. Got addicted to hate on the web. And my dad didn’t help. Got warped big time. Big deal to get help. I feel like a drunk getting sober. It’s day-to-day.
FLOYD – (silent, then…) Hard for me to trust what you’re saying, trust it’s real.
HARLAN – I get that.
HENRY – I need to butt in… (looks at Harlan) I grew up racist. I know the territory. But when I served side-by-side in Nam with black brothers, I got human. Damn near died, but I got human with Roy, especially Roy – Roy from Philly. He was a big man. A solid rock. He didn’t make it back. Saw him get clobbered. (he tears up, stops, sniffles) Not a day in my life I don’t think about him, how he didn’t make it out but I did. So how could I ever demean a black person ever again? How could I not take in Floyd and Nessie and Micah for the Fresh Air Summer? (he stops, pulls out a big blue bandana handkerchief, blows his nose hard)
PENELOPE – Glad you brought Nessie and Micah into the Circle, Henri… by the way, Harlan, since the last Circle, this is Henri and I am Penelope… not to go too far off-topic… (the Circle laughs, including Harlan) Anyway, back to Nessie and Micah… they’re right here in the Circle. They’re here even though we can’t see them. This is about them. I mean, they’re so vulnerable… it’s one thing to taunt an adult. It’s ten times worse to taunt children. Gotta name this piece of it – my biggest issue with moving on, moving beyond…
HARLAN – (chokes up, swallows hard) That’s the worst of it for me – your kids, Floyd… (looks him in the eye, gets out a handkerchief to blow his nose) I know I can’t take it back. Wish I could.
MARTHA – You can take it back. (stares hard at Harlan) You can take it back by reforming. We do an agreement as part of the process. We can work it into the agreement.
AMY – We can. Any suggestions?
HELEN – Yeah… uh, Harlan, can you talk about what you see yourself doing to reform? I mean, along with the addiction therapy, what you see yourself doing to reform, how to make it real?
HARLAN – Not sure. Hard for me to think right now.
HENRY – Let me give it a shot… and by the way, I’m still Henry, only Henri to Penelope…. (Circle laughs again). Um, okay, here I go… Harlan, you’re not in this alone. These online hate groups? Insidious, hideous. Who’s going to them to challenge them? A challenge from a reformed racist is our best weapon. Best way to change bigots.
HARLAN – I can’t type.
AMY – There’s help for that too. We can find a volunteer to type into those chatrooms what you’d say to them, and know how to respond when they’re vicious back. We can get a volunteer from one of the reformed racist sites to help.
HARLAN – I’m open.
PENELOPE – Put it in your agreement to do by your next Circle?
HARLAN – Yeah, good.
FLOYD – That’s a big deal. Would count for a lot. Takes us beyond just us.
MARTHA – The more specific we can be, the better. What’s beyond chatrooms and websites? Harlan, you must know supremacists personally. I’d like to see you go to them in person, tell them you’re changing, invite them to reform.
HARLAN – Uh, that feels like a tougher nut to crack. (pauses; looks at Chief Sky) Maybe I’d feel able if you’d go with me, Chief.
CHIEF SKY – Okay, who?
HARLAN – Ralph. We both know him.
CHIEF SKY – Okay, you’re on. But not at his place. Needs to be a neutral place.
AMY – (writing furiously on a clipboard) It’s in the agreement.
MARTHA – Ask him to challenge his friends. “Change and Challenge” let’s call it, create a movement. Make it a campaign beyond us, beyond just here.
AMY – Harlan?
HARLAN – I’m in.
AMY – Okay… maybe this is enough for now. (tears off blue copy of the agreement form, passes it to Harlan) Harlan, take a look at this carefully… make sure you can read my writing…
HARLAN – It’s fine… can’t believe you can write that fast, write this good… (looks at Amy with a slight smile; the Circle chuckles)
AMY – Good work today. Good to stop for now, until next time to follow up. (picks up the stick) Pass the stick one more time. Share one word about how you’re feeling. My word is glad – glad for some progress today. (passes stick)
CHIEF SKY – (pauses, caressing the stick) I feel the ancestors smiling on us. (passes stick)
MARTHA – Grateful. Thankful for your changes, Harlan. (passes stick)
HENRY – Blown away. (chokes up again, takes out handkerchief again as he passes stick)
PENELOPE – Hopeful… hopeful Nessie and Micah can heal. (passes stick)
HELEN – Thankful. Thanks for being here, Floyd. (passes stick)
FLOYD – (takes the stick, turns it in his hands, studies the knots, pauses long, finally looks up at Harlan, looks back at the stick, looks up at Harlan again, finally speaks) Cautious. (passes stick to Amy, next to him, who passes it to Harlan on her other side.)
HARLAN – Feeling relieved. Relieved of a huge weight.
AMY – Thanks… keep the stick going around another time… final feelings or thoughts (the stick goes around again; only Henry speaks)
HENRY – Harlan, if you want some company, call me. AA’s got sponsors. I can be like a sponsor. You’re not alone in this. You’ll get down at times. Don’t let yourself get too far down. Reach out. I know a spot on the Upper Boquet for catching trophy native brookies… (stick goes around to Amy who puts it on the table, nods to Chief Sky for the closing… Floyd interrupts…)
FLOYD – Wait, what are trophy native brookies?
HARLAN – Big wild fish – Brook Trout – we catch with a fly rod. You come too.
Chief Sky chants the closing invocation; the Circle joins in the chanting.
END SCENE THREE
Independence Day at the restaurant, Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” playing, just a few people sitting at tables.
Chief Sky leads two federal law enforcement officers through the door, walk by mystified Helen direct to the kitchen, barge in, prop door open.
OFFICER – (to Winslow) Are you Winslow Smith?
WINSLOW – I am. (They read him his Miranda Rights, arrest him, cuff him, lead him out.)
HELEN – (as they walk out by her, she sees Winslow is handcuffed, freaks out) Whaaaaat’s happening??? Wait a minute! (sees Winslow’s got a funny look in his eyes… )
WINSLOW – (to Helen) I love you. (they pull him through the door)
CHIEF SKY – (to Helen) I’ll be right back. (goes out with them to squad car to get Winslow settled in the back seat for his ride to police headquarters. Helen, distraught, goes to the bar, leans on it to collect herself; sees Chief Sky come back in)
CHIEF SKY – Helen, brace yourself… (removes customers from the restaurant, locks the door so others can’t come in, turns the “closed” sign out toward the street, goes to Helen) Winslow’s been charged with eleven other men as an accomplice in shooting down the F35… (Helen faints, Chief Sky catches her, sits her at a table, gets her a glass of water from the bar) Helen, breathe… drink. You’re in shock. Breathe…
HELEN – How could he??!! How could this be possible?? Must be some mistake…
CHIEF SKY – Look, we don’t know at this point. All we know is what the feds say… brace yourself again… Winslow allegedly was part of some kind of secret men’s society in the mountains, gathered Monday nights at his hermitage. They got radicalized by a guy with a grudge against the government, plotted a missile attack on an F35… Helen? Helen… (she’s writhing uncontrollably, disconsolate, faints again… Chief Sky gets out his cell phone, dials Penelope)
CHIEF SKY – Penelope, this is Chief Sky. Come immediately to the restaurant. (He has to be forceful) Look, just drop what you’re doing and get over here…
END SCENE FOUR / MUSIC: Chopin, “Funeral March” (piano version)
The set is transformed into police headquarters where the two federal officers are sitting, typing up the affidavit after Winslow’s arrest. Winslow is behind bars at the right of the room, standing up, holding on to the bars.
CHIEF SKY – Look, it was a stunt, a college prank. The pilot survived. Give this guy the decency of a Restorative Circle with the court process. I mean, sure, you’ll throw the book at him. But the Circle can help the Prosecutor, help the process. (the officers are silent, working on the affidavit)
If you send him down the river, he won’t have the chance to face his community – what’s needed most right now for justice to work. I know you have leeway. Respect our people. We incarcerate him here – house arrest.
OFFICER – (looks up, stops typing) You hick cop… you deaf and dumb? You are so full of it! He shoots down a military plane and you think we’d agree to house arrest? (laughs hard with his partner; his cell phone rings, he picks up, listens with a growing grimace, rubs his brow)
Uh, huh. Uh huh. (makes notes in a pocket notebook) Okay, then. (hangs up)
CHIEF SKY – What’s up?
OFFICER – (starts packing up) Big whig stepped in. You got your way. Keep him here. House Arrest. Leg bracelet mandatory. You wouldn’t have one kicking around your hick office, would you?
CHIEF SKY – (ignores, for the most part, the ignorant condescension) I do. And when you leave, make sure you don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
The officers give him a dirty look, pack up and go, shaking their heads, slam the door as they go.
CHIEF SKY – (to Winslow) You just got lucky, but we’ll take it.
WINSLOW – Now to really face the music.
CHIEF SKY – You sure you want to go back there?
WINSLOW – Where else would I go?
CHIEF SKY – Anywhere Helen won’t be.
WINSLOW – Put the bracelet on me and let’s go.
CHIEF SKY – No. Wait. (He picks up his phone, calls Martha, who answers, is shown in a sort of a bubble to the left of the set)
MARTHA – Chief Sky…
CHIEF SKY – You hear the news?
MARTHA – Yeah, we city girls are learning how fast news travels in a small town.
CHIEF SKY – Favor to ask. We need an emergency Circle meeting. Winslow got house arrest – at least for now in pre-trial adjudication. I need to take him back to the restaurant. Ain’t gonna be pretty with Helen.
MARTHA – Right… when?
CHIEF SKY – As soon as you can get to the restaurant with Penny, er, Penelope and Henry. call me. We’ll come over, get you guys in the door first, then we come in.
MARTHA – Got it. Okay… uh, say a prayer for us.
CHIEF SKY – We need more than prayer…
END SCENE FIVE / Elvis Costello’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” for long scene change back to restaurant set
TV reporter, microphone in hand, on step of restaurant door
REPORTER – I am standing at the entrance to Snake Den Harbor Restaurant, home of one of the alleged accomplices in the plot to shoot down the F35 – Winslow Smith – co-owner here with his wife Helen.
Smith is allegedly a member of an obscure radical cell which called itself “The Watchtower Wildcats.” Rumors say they’d gather at their headquarters deep in the Adirondacks, commune with cannabis muffins and chalices of port wine, listen to Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” debate the meaning of the song like rabbis doing midrash with an ancient text.
They apparently saw themselves as incarnations of Dylan’s “two riders” in the song, which they determined to be – like the Bible’s four horsemen of the apocalypse, but in this case, two riders – a rider against social violence, and a rider against earth violence – both they saw in U.S. government corruption.
They’d conclude their meetings with Jimi Hendrix’s electric guitar version of the Star Spangled Banner, which they’d accompany with ecstatic singing, as they planned revolution. “Rocket’s red glare” apparently inspired them to build a home-made missile to shoot down an F35 to make some kind of a statement…what statement? Time will tell.
This is Garett Longley for Channel Three News. (puts up umbrella as rain starts)
(Scene fades with Elvis Costello’s “Brilliant Mistake” beginning to play; transition to next scene)
END SCENE SIX
Simultaneously with Scene six, Helen is inside the restaurant (closed since Winslow’s arrest), mopping the floor, stopping, listening to the TV reporter, shaking her head, moping, goes back to mopping the floor, mopes, mops, mopes, mops… when the reporter stops and moves off the step as a rainstorm begins, putting up an umbrella, Helen stops, puts the mop in the mop bucket, goes into the kitchen, pushes a button on the old CD player, hears Elvis Costello’s “Brilliant Mistake” for comfort. She comes back out, mops to the song, dances with the mop.
The song plays at least through the first chorus when she hears a knock on the door, sees people with umbrellas crowded on the outside step. She puts the mop in the bucket, rushes over, unlocks, sees it’s Penelope, takes her umbrella, hugs her, takes Henry’s umbrella, hugs him… then Martha, who takes her aside…
MARTHA – (whispering to Helen) You have to breathe a lot in the next ten minutes… conscious breathing like Penelope teaches.
PENELOPE – (comes over) I’ll be right by you, holding you, massaging your back; your job is to breathe…Winslow’s coming home.
HELEN – Whaaaaat? I’m not ready…
MARTHA – Helen! Breathe!
Chief Sky enters, then Winslow right behind him. They shuffle with umbrellas. Helen bolts to Winslow, attacks him, pounds on his chest…
HELEN – How could you!! How could you!! (Martha and Penelope grab her from each side, pull her off him, control her, try to comfort her. Chief Sky pulls Winslow back.)
MARTHA – (forcefully tears them apart) Over here, make a circle, here… (makes a table circle; they sit, except for Helen, who refuses to sit; they hold on to her. She stands staring at Winslow, arms crossed, one hand over her mouth, speaks…)
HELEN – Did you do this?
WINSLOW – I was in on it. (Helen takes a deep breath, sits)
HELEN – Your hermitage… your hermitage became a nest for crazy extremists.
WINSLOW – Not how it started out. What it became. (attempts humor, starts singing from “All Along the Watchtower”) … “There must be some way outa here…”
HELEN – Don’t humor me! You got violent. You got crazy, and you hid it from me.
WINSLOW – I’m so sorry, love…
HELEN – (sarcastically) Oh, well then, (fluffs her hand at him) I forgive you, then…
WINSLOW – No…
HELEN – Good answer, you idiot! (leaps up from her chair, tries to go around the table to attack him again; Martha and Penelope pull her back.)
HENRY – Winslow, you gotta come clean. You gotta tell us how this happened, how you got seduced.
WINSLOW – It was like seduction… something in the air up there. It was in the air and we inhaled it… herd mentality, I guess… group mind, you’d call it…we became very sure about what we were planning – rage against the machine, taking back the Republic from the new feudalists…
HELEN – (interrupting him) Ever think about talking to us?! Ever think we’d like to know what was going on up there every week?! How could you keep this from me?! (she bursts up again from her chair again, they pull her down again) If you’d told me what was going on, I’d told you you were an idiot and you’d stop… but no, you didn’t trust to tell me…
WINSLOW – (breaking down) Felt like I was under a spell, love, the spell of the group mind, like we were starving for something, then the new Watchtower myth took us out to eat… that’s what it was like – like living the myth as food, like a group feast… I mean, twelve guys and a chalice? What did we think was going to happen? Maybe building the missile was like Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers in the Temple…
HENRY – (interrupting) Now wait just a damn minute…. If there were only twelve of you, you were missing the guy that turned over the tables, who could’ve grounded you… Instead you turned into a bunch of airheads. You weren’t turning over tables with that missile. You were being seduced by Judas the Zealot to just do what every other failed revolutionary does – replace one domination system with another. The one who turned over the tables wouldn’t shoot down a jet… would do a parody parable of politicians duped to think the military is good for the economy – duped like you were duped.
MARTHA – So… can we hear more from you, Helen? Try to breathe, and, if you can’t look at Winslow, look at me… what are you feeling? Trust level with Winslow…
HELEN – Trust level? Trust level? Gone. Gone, gone, gone… Feel betrayed, ignored… why couldn’t he just talk to me?! (bursts into tears) How could he hide this from me?! (pounds the floor with her feet, pauses, given a kleenex to blow her nose) Feels like a mistress… like he had a mistress up there.
PENELOPE – Thinkin’ the same thing. I’d feel the same way.
WINSLOW – Okay, okay, I get it… look, give me a break. I got feelings too… Helen, I’m more than sorry… I know I should’ve talked to you. Got blocked, seduced. Didn’t trust you enough, trust us enough… just felt we needed to keep it quiet. We all did… jeez, hope they’re okay…
CHIEF SKY – Those guys are all on the hotseat, Winslow… listen, don’t justify; just repair things with Helen. Talk about how you’d make this up to her.
WINSLOW – (to Helen) I’d do anything – anything – to make this right…
HELEN – Okay, then, start with you. Go away! Get out of here! Get your head together. You can’t stay here… (sarcastically) Go back up to your shack with its ethereal air, breathe in what you’d do if you’d really not get seduced again. I don’t have it in me for an ounce more betrayal. (She stands up, furious) Go, just go! (She turns around, goes toward the kitchen, disappears.)
Henry and Chief Sky take Winslow to his hermitage.
Martha calls Rev Joy to come over as Penelope slips into the kitchen.
MARTHA – Joy, come over… soon as you can…
END SCENE SEVEN (Dylan’s “Drifter’s Escape” plays during the scene change.)
At the restaurant (still closed), couple days later, Henry and Penelope, check on Helen. They knock on the door. Helen, sullen and downcast, lets them in.
HENRY – Hey… you okay?
HELEN – I’m okay.
PENELOPE – You sure? You don’t look okay. (They sit at a table.)
HELEN – I’m sure… okay to feel a little down after the rage, maybe feeling a little bit of an opening to see Winslow again. I almost miss him. Will need Martha and you to be here if that happens… would you talk with her, Henry?
HENRY – Yeah, sure… and I need you to be here for Penelope right now, Helen; got news from the doctor…
PENELOPE – (surprised) What?
HENRY – Advanced pancreatic cancer – not a good kinda cancer.
PENELOPE – Whaaaaat??? Oh my god… (goes to him for a hug, massages his shoulders)
HELEN – Sorry to hear, Henry… what can we do?
HENRY – Just act natural as I die, that’s all… maybe sing to me…
PENELOPE – God, you sound so philosophical…this is awful… (she puts all her strength into his shoulders; presses her breasts into the back of his head)
HENRY – Doesn’t have to be awful, deary. Death’s a part of life, sweetheart. Just marry me, my dear… marry me. You get the cobble castle out of this. (He laughs, turns toward her, takes her hand, smiles at her, studies her)
PENELOPE – Henri! (She’s speechless, sits down. Helen gets up, goes to the kitchen, gives them space)
HENRY – That’s not a yes… here… this is for you, too. Helen gave me your ring size… (he presents her with an exquisite local tourmaline gem ring)
PENELOPE – (bowled over, then soberly) Henry, it’s… it’s so precious! (She examines it but does not put it on her finger)
HENRY – That’s still not a yes…
PENELOPE – Henri, you know I can’t marry you until I know who you’re voting for in November! Until I know you’ve retired your MAGA hat!
HENRY – Blackmail! You schemer…
PENELOPE – (Approaches him for a kiss, puts the ring back in his hand)
LIGHTS OUT ABRUPTLY / END SCENE EIGHT / Neil Young’s “No Wonder” for scene change
At Helen’s request, Henry has arranged for a Circle meeting. They gather with Penelope, Martha, Amy, and Chief Sky. As the scene opens, they are sitting around two tables as Helen serves chicken salad sandwiches and lemonade for lunch.
HENRY – (to all) Thanks for being here. I know this is out of the loop of our regular meetings…
AMY – (interrupting) Sometimes restorative justice can’t be scheduled, Henry… good for us to meet without an offender once in a while.
HENRY – It’s for you, Helen, and for all of us, to figure out next steps with Winslow.
AMY – Helen, when I heard from Henry you were open to a Circle with Winslow, I had a dream, got an idea, researched it, have a report… brace yourself…
HELEN – I’m already braced… braced for a while now. What?
AMY – You guys did amazing work with Floyd and Harlan. Figured you could handle Winslow and Roland.
MARTHA – Wait a minute… Roland?
AMY – Pilot of the F35. (gasps and glances all around)
CHIEF SKY – Whoa… did you ask?
AMY – I did. I figured it could be the best way for Winslow to come clean, and for Helen to see that.
CHIEF SKY – How’d you get through the red tape?
AMY – Red Tape? This was ruby-russet tape… Feds refused at first, not trusting process with a hick restorative justice center. Wouldn’t even talk to me. I just persisted, insisted. Finally got through to the regional Judge Advocate General, convinced him the process would help the prosecutor. That’s what opened the door.
PENELOPE – But wait, then there’s the pilot’s willingness…
AMY – Took me a while to get through to his lawyer, who was a brick wall until I guess somehow Roland got wind of it… he’s from here.
HENRY – From here?
AMY – Snake Den Harbor.
MARTHA – Unbelievable.
AMY – Believe it.
PENELOPE – So then what?
AMY – When I finally got him on the phone I explained the process, asked him if he’d be willing to face Winslow. We’re on. He agreed.
HELEN – So can we bring Winslow into this? I mean, have you asked him? He must be going stir-crazy up there… (she breaks down; Penelope stands, goes to her, massages her shoulders)
AMY – He’s game.
HENRY – It’s all arranged then?
AMY – Next Monday morning at 10.
MARTHA – Wow… so we may need some basic reminders.
MARTHA – Uh, like not stereotyping Roland, approaching him as a human being… and Winslow? Open minds? (Silence)
AMY – Are we ready?
CHIEF SKY – So, I just want to say… uh, we need to nail this. Be our best. Pray it don’t get crazy. Winslow’s at risk any time for getting his house arrest revoked. You know it’ll be recorded for the prosecutor; that was the deal. If this doesn’t go well, he’d be incarcerated. Not pretty. Just remember… no tolerance for intolerance…
LIGHTS DIM / END SCENE NINE / Music: Dispatch, “Two Coins”
Restorative Circle with Winslow and Roland at the restaurant, Monday morning, ten o’clock Ante Meridian.
Helen serves fresh ground dark Venezuelan Vermont Coffee Company coffee, wheat popovers, boiled eggs, and fresh Amish-baked black raspberry scones as the circle gathers early to check in. They hear a knock. Henry goes to the door, opens it, welcomes Chief Sky, Winslow, and Roland. Roland’s arms are bandaged from his elbows over his hands. As they take their seats in three empty chairs, Helen crosses her legs, holds her chin with her hands, weeps, comforted on each side by Penelope and Martha at the far side of the circle.
CHIEF SKY – (as he sits) We’ve done a pre-brief. Everybody knows I’m recording the session for the prosecutor. Winslow’s met Roland. You haven’t. After we bless the stick, we’ll introduce ourselves. (He picks up the stick, lights the candle, chants the invocation.) I’m Chief Sky, chief of police. Roland, you’re first.
ROLAND – (animated, almost excited) I’m from here… in fact I have to ask us to go to the deck so I can show you where. (He leads people out; Helen refuses, stays seated with Penelope and Martha… Roland points down the hill with the stick.) See the shabby place with the junky backyard? Where I grew up. Where the folks still live with my disabled sister. They sorta take care of each other. (He walks back in, leads things like he owns the place. They re-make the circle.) I got out of here by joining the military right after high school. Loved flying, got a scholarship for training to fly jets. Changed my life. And these F35s? Cat’s meow…
AMY – (interrupting) Maybe that’s enough for now, Roland… we’ll ask you more in the second round. Right now, pass the stick so you know who you’re with. (brief introductions around the Circle; stick comes back to Chief Sky, who puts it on the table. Amy continues.) Roland, at this point, it would be good if you could talk to us about how you’re feeling about the incident, how you’re recovering, what you need.
ROLAND – Need? I don’t need nothin’. I’m all good. Felt good to be asked to come to this. These burns? They’ll heal. Just wanna get back up in the sky again…
WINSLOW – I shot you down. You could’ve died.
ROLAND – I coulda. But I didn’t.
WINSLOW – Did you know what was happening when you went down? Musta been terrifying.
ROLAND – Not a long story… (pauses, laughs) I knew right away I got hit by somethin’…. The ship was just divin’… all I could do was wrestle it to a rough landing on the lake. Laughed out loud when I realized I landed it, but then there were flames all around me. Knew I hadda get outa there fast. Couldn’t get out. Almost panicked, but they train us not to and it worked… cut myself out, wrestled my way outa the cockpit, arms got burned, but I when I hit the water boy did that feel good. Swam away from the burning wreckage…. strong swimmer but I knew I was way out there, the waves were huge, feelin’ kinda spent, didn’t know if I’d make it. Then I see this pleasure boat alongside me just as I lost consciousness. They pulled me out… (chokes up, stops)
AMY – Roland, thanks. What else do you remember?
ROLAND – Waking up in the hospital. Guess when I knew I was in that boat, the shock took over and I was out for hours.
HENRY – Did you meet the boat people?
ROLAND – I did. They came to see me in my hospital room. God was I glad to thank them, talk to them.
MARTHA – What was it like to meet Winslow?
ROLAND – This guy? (He looks at him, pauses…) As soon as we shook hands I knew he was sorry. It was in his eyes.
WINSLOW – (interrupting) Shallow to say I’m sorry but I am. You say you can see it, but how can I make amends?
ROLAND – To me? Nothin’. Don’t need a thing from you except maybe a free lunch for my family and me when you get back in the saddle. Just deal with the charge in court. Find a less crazy way to do your protesting. The prosecutor will be harsh, but it may help if I do a “friend of the court” brief.
CHIEF SKY – I can help with that.
PENELOPE – But wait. We’re a little ahead of things….
ROLAND – O yeah, man, (looks at Winslow), your wife… that’s your biggest job.
PENELOPE – That’s what I was fishin’ for.
WINSLOW – (picks up the stick from the table, looks Helen in the eyes, takes a deep breath)
Love, I am so, so, sorry… I know forgiveness takes time but I’m workin’ my way back to you… (starts singing the old Four Seasons song, fishing for a vein of humor) with a burning love inside… (Helen almost smiles, looks at him skeptically, can’t find words right away)
AMY – Helen?
HELEN – (fidgets with her napkin, looking down) I think we’re gonna be okay. I get it that you get it, love, that I can’t have the deception, the betrayal. We’re sunk if you don’t trust me, trust us.
HENRY – Sunk like the F35, and its two hundred gallons of spilled jet fuel – another issue.
MARTHA – Next meeting, I have an idea for addressing that.
AMY – Back to Roland… do you have more to say today, anything else?
ROLAND – Yeah, fishing. Scuttlebut is you guys like to fish. So my only hard core thing to put on the agreement is that we go fishing, but we have to invite my Uncle Harlan…
HENRY – Whaaaaaaat??? Harlan is your uncle? (exchanges glances around the table… they let it go because they know more info is confidential)
ROLAND – You don’t have to keep that confidentiality thing with me… I know what he said, know what he did. And I know he already went fishing with Floyd. I want to meet Floyd. You gotta take me the next time you go, while I’m in recovery. If I can’t fly, I can go fishing. You just have to catch me a trophy brookie on the Uppper Boquet… (they all laugh)
AMY – All right, then, sounds like we’ve got a plan… Winslow, here’s your copy of the agreement. (tears off and hands him the sheet).
WINSLOW – I just have one more thing to add, after we close the Circle. (Chief Sky closes the Circle, blows out the candle.)
Winslow goes into the kitchen, puts in an old Elvis Costello CD, “King of America,” pushes buttons to play “American Without Tears,” comes back out, goes to Helen, takes her hand.
WINSLOW – I know it’s a little early in the day, m’dear, but may I have this dance?
She smiles a little less tentatively now, gets up, they dance as the Circle applauds.
END SCENE TEN / Music continues as lights dim
“John Wesley Harding” playing – just the first part – then fades out as lights come on
Re-opening the restaurant on the Feast Day of James the Apostle, July 25. Winslow takes out the evening menu board singing with Dylan on “John Wesley Harding” with bodhran
Menu board: Lake Trout with slivered almonds, cilantro, hot peppers, new potatoes with rosemary, chopped chard with apple cider vinegar, blueberry buckle dessert
Entire cast comes in to re-open the restaurant as Winslow continues to sing to them and Helen hands out menus, then Floyd, Micah, and Nessie enter last.
NESSIE – (interrupting Winslow’s singing) Winslow… Winslow… (gets his attention by tugging on his sleeve) Winslow, I have to talk to you…
WINSLOW – Okay, my dear, here, sit down. (Helen comes over, stands watching, hugs menus tight to her breast)
NESSIE – Winslow (pauses, looks at her dad; Floyd nods) you have to think about the dead ducks and the dead fish in the lake.
WINSLOW – (frowns, rubs his brow) Okay…
NESSIE – (assertively) I mean, have you thought about the oil slick in the lake???
WINSLOW – I have, my dear. I have… and I’m sorry. But what would you have me do?
NESSIE – It’s not what I’d have you do. It’s what the ducks would have you do… what the fish would have you do…
WINSLOW – Well, so, but Nessie, if you could speak for the ducks and the fish, what would they say?
NESSIE – They’d say to use your notor… your notori… (looks at Micah, who coaches her)
MICAH – No – tor – i – e – ty.
NESSIE – Use your no – tor – I – e – ty as a famous felon to get the word out about climate change and fewer jets and less jet fuel, less damage to the envir… (looks at Micah)
MICAH – en – vi – ron – ment.
NESSIE – environment… maybe post pics of the dead fish, the dead ducks on Instagram and say you’re sorry.
WINSLOW – Nessie… I will, I will. (stops, chokes up, pulls out his handkerchief, blows his nose)
NESSIE – And not for me… for the earth… right, Chief Sky? (he chuckles and nods)
WINSLOW – (stares at the chief) should’ve known you were in on this…
CHIEF SKY – Part of your agreement now…
HELEN – Yeah, listen to that girl, you famous felon.
Spotlight shifts to Henry and Penelope sitting at the bar
HENRY – (to Nessie and Micah) Can I ask you guys a favor? (They nod and go over.) Here, Nessie. (hands her a bouquet of flowers) Micah… (hands him a little pillow with the ring on it, turns to Penelope, takes her hands in his hands, looks into her eyes) Biden-Harris…
PENELOPE – Oh, Henri, I do, I do! (They stand, kiss passionately as applause ripples through the restaurant.)
“Jerusalem” plays, beginning with the organ portion – not before – arranged by Harry Rabinowitz, Ambrosia Singers, from Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire,” or, alternatively, played by John Weaver, chorus directed by Marianne Weaver.
Rev Joy, contacted in advance by Henry, comes over, instructs Nessie and Micah, accompanied by Owen, to follow her to the deck, followed by the newly engaged couple. The cast stands up, goes to the deck or stands near the door, observe as Henry and Penelope exchange vows silently. Henry places the ring on Penelope’s ring finger. They kiss again.
As “Jerusalem” ends, Van Morrison’s “Someone Like You” plays. Henry and Penelope lead the wedding party back into the restaurant, dance to the song, get everybody dancing.
They beckon the audience to come up, mix in, and dance with the cast.
In sequence, the following dance tunes come on for the continued dancing before the feasting:
Van Morrison, “Give Me My Rapture” and “Queen of the Slipstream,” then, if people are still dancing, Neil Young’s “Wrecking Ball,” Bruce Cockburn’s “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” Dylan’s “Precious Angel,” Costello’s “Eisenhower Blues.”
END SCENE ELEVEN, ACT TWO