FOOL. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
CAPTAIN. (in an undertone, to the POLICEMAN who is standing motionless by the door) Who is that? What does he want?
OFFICER. I don't know, sir. He busted in here like he owned the place, just as if he was the big boss. He says he wants to talk to you and the chief.
CAPTAIN. (who has been massaging his right hand continually) Ah, he wants to talk to us? (He approaches the FOOL in a rather obsequious manner.) Good afternoon, can I help you? I understand you were looking for me.
FOOL (gazes at him impressively, making the merest gesture of tipping his hat.) Good afternoon. (His gaze rests on the hand which the INSPECTOR is still massaging.) What happened to your hand?
CAPTAIN Oh. nothing. May I ask who you are?
FOOL. You didn't hurt your hand? Then how come you're massaging it? Just like that, to make an interesting impression? Some sort of nervous tic?
CAPTAIN (shows signs of becoming annoyed) Maybe. I asked you, would you care to explain who you are?!
FOOL. I used to know a bishop who massaged his hand like that . . . a Jesuit.
CAPTAIN. Am I mistaken, or are you -
FOOL. (not paying the slightest attention) You ought to see an analyst. That continuous massaging is a symptom of insecurity . . . also of a guilt complex, and sexual frustration. Do you have trouble with women, by any chance?
CAPTAIN. (flying off the handle) Oh, for Christ's sake! (slams his fist on he table)
FOOL.(indicating the gesture)Impulsive! That proves it, you see ? Tell the truth: it's not a nervous tic . . . you punched somebody no more than fifteen minutes ago, admit it!
CAPTAIN.. What do you mean admit it? Instead of that, why don't you tell me, once and for all, who it is I have the honor of talking to . . . and you could also do me the favor of taking off your hat . . . while you're at it!
FOOL. You're right (removes his hat with studied slowness.) But I wasn't keeping it on out of rudeness, believe me. It's just because of that open window. I can't stand drafts, especially on my head. Don't you have that problem? Look, do you suppose you could close it?
CAPTAIN. (brusquely) No, I can t.
FOOL. No matter, I am Dr. Antonio A. Antonio. First counsel of the High Court.
CAPTAIN. A judge? Oh Christ! (He almost faints.)
FOOL. Please don't call me that - you'll only confuse me. Yes that's right, the former professor from the University of Rome. Small p in "professor," and with a comma between "the former" and "from," as usual.
CAPTAIN. (befuddled) I get it now. . .
FOOL. (aggressively ironic) What do you get?
CAPTAIN. Nothing, nothing.
FOOL. Exactly. (again aggressive) That is: nothing at all! Who informed you that I was coming to check up officially on the investigation and the order to have it closed?
CAPTAIN. (Now on the ropes) Well, actually. . . I . . .
FOOL. You'd better not lie. That's something that makes me horribly nervous. I have a nervous tic too; it hits me here, on my neck, the minute somebody tells me a fib. Look how it's trembling . . . look ! Now, did you know about my arrival, or not?
CAPTAIN. (swallowing nervously) Yes, I knew . . . but I wasn't expecting it so soon . . . that's all.
FOOL. Right, and that's exactly why the superior council decided to do it early. We have our informers, too - so we caught you off-balance! hope you don't mind?
CAPTAIN . (on more comfortable ground now) No, not at all. (The FOOL points to his trembling neck.) I mean, yes . . . a good deal. (gestures toward a chair) But please sit down, and let me take your hat (grabs it, then changes his mind) - or perhaps you'd rather keep it on . . . ?
FOOL. Good heavens, no; you keep it if you like . . . it's not even mine, anyhow.
CAPTAIN.. What? (He goes toward the window.) Would you like to have the window closed?
FOOL. Not at all, don't bother. But I would appreciate it if you'd call the Chief. We should get started as soon as possible.
CAPTAIN. Certainly. But wouldn't it be better to go over to his office? It's more comfortable.
FOOL. Yes . . . But that nasty business with the anarchist took place right here in this office, didn't it?
CAPTAIN. Yes, it was here . . .
FOOL. (opening his arms wide) Well, then ! (He sits down and takes some papers out of his briefcase. We then discover that he has another briefcase with him as well: a huge one, from which he removes a quantity of miscellaneous items: a magnifying glass, pair of tweezers, stapler, judge's wooden mallet, and finally a bound copy of the Criminal Code. Meanwhile, by the door, the INSPECTOR is murmuring something into the POLICEMAN's ear. Continuing to organize his papers.) I would prefer, Captain, that in my presence you always speak in a normal tone of voice!
CAPTAIN.. Of course, I'm sorry. (turning to the officer) Ask the Chief to come over here right away, if he can.
FOOL. Even if he can't!
CAPTAIN. (slavishly correcting himself) Yes, even if he can't.
OFFICER. (exiting) Yes sir. (looks for a moment at the judge, who is putting his documents in order. He has attached a number of them with thumbtacks to the side wall, the window frame and cabinet.)
CAPTAIN. (All at once remembers something.) Oh, that's right, the transcripts! (He grabs the telephone and dials a number.) Hello, may I please speak to Inspector Bertozzo? Where has he gone? To the Chief's office? (He hangs up, then starts to dial another number. The FOOL interrupts him.)
FOOL. Excuse me, Captain, if you don't mind . . .
CAPTAIN. Yes, your honor?
FOOL. This Inspector Bertozzo you're concerned with, does he have anything to do with the review of the investigation?
CAPTAIN. Yes, Well, I mean . . . since he has the file with all the documents in it -
FOOL. Oh, but that won't be necessary. I have everything here with me; why bother getting another copy? What's the point?
CAPTAIN. You're right, there's no point.
(From outside we hear the approaching. angry voice of the POLICE CHIEF, who enters like a catapult. The officer follows close behind him, abashed and nervous.)
POLICE CHIEF. I would like to know, Inspector, just what is this nonsense about me having to run over to your office even if I can't?
CAPTAIN. No, sir, you're right . . . that is, but since -
CHIEF. But since, my ass! Have you been promoted to my superior all of a sudden? I'll tell you right now, this high-handed attitude of yours doesn't please me one bit. Especially the way you've been treating your associates. To go around actually punching them in the face: for god's sake!
CAPTAIN. Ah, yes, but you see, Chief Bertozzo didn't tell you about the razzberry, and that crack about the sub-basement in Calabria - (The FOOL, pretending to put away his legal folders, is squatting behind the desk, hidden from view and immediately comes into view.)
CHIEF. What the hell are you talking about, razzberry ! Come on, quit acting like a kid. We should be laying low, instead, with everybody watching us . . . and those goddamn reporters talking about . . . spreading a bunch of lousy rumors . . . and quit trying to shut me up! I can say anything I - (The INSPECTOR points to the false judge, who pretends to take no notice to the proceedings.) Oh my god, who is that - a reporter? Why didn't you tell me -
FOOL. (without looking up from his papers) Don't worry, Chief, I'm not a reporter. There won't be any kind of rumors, I assure you.
CHIEF. I appreciate it.
FOOL. I understand and share your concern; in fact, I tried scolding your young associate here, even before you did.
CHIEF. (turning to the CAPTAIN) Really?
FOOL. I noticed that this young man has a rather irritable and intolerant character; now it appears, from your conversation, that he's also allergic to the razzberry - Do you know anything about the subject? (He draws him aside in a confidential manner, while the CHIEF follows him with astonishment.)
CHIEF. No, I really . . .
FOOL. (speaking almost into his ear) Take my advice. Chief; I'm talking to you like a father: this boy needs good psychiatrist. Here, send him to this friend of mine; he's a genius. (hands him a card) Dr. Antonio A. Antonio, the former professor . . . but don't overlook the comma.
CHIEF. (not knowing how to extricate himself) Thanks very much, but if you don't mind, I -
FOOL. (suddenly changing tone) But of course I don't mind, of course. Please sit down and let's begin . . . By the way, did your associate inform you that I -
CAPTAIN. No, I'm sorry but I didn't have time. (turning to the CHIEF) Dr. Antonio A. Antonio, he is first counsellor of the High Court . . .
FOOL. For heaven's sake, forget about that "first counsellor;" it doesn't mean a thing to me . . . why not just say "one of the first," and let it go at that !
CAPTAIN. If you prefer.
CHIEF. (having great difficulty in recovering from the blow) Your honor . . . I really had no . . .
CAPTAIN. (coming to his aid) The judge is here to conduct a review of the investigation about the case -
CHIEF. (with an unexpected impulse) Ah, certainly, certainly, we were expecting you!
FOOL. (to the INSPECTOR) You see? Your Chief is much more honest! He puts his cards right on the table! You should follow his example! But of course, this is another generation, a different breed . . .
CHIEF. Yes, a different breed.
FOOL. Listen, I hope you don't mind my telling you this now, but you seem - how can I say it - almost familiar to me . . . as if I had met you somewhere, many years ago. In a concentration camp, perhaps?
CHIEF. (stammering) A concentration camp?
FOOL. Oh, what am I saying? You, director of a concentration camp? Ridiculous idea . . . (staring at CHIEF, who literally collapses into a chair and nervously lights a cigarette) Now then, let' s get down to the transcript. (leafs through some papers) On the evening of - the date doesn't matter - an anarchist, railway signalman by profession, was brought to this room for questioning on his alleged participation in the dynamiting of a bank, which caused the death of sixteen innocent citizens. Now, this is an exact quotation from you, Chief: "There was serious circumstantial evidence against him." Did you say that?
CHIEF. Yes, your honor, at the beginning. Later on -
FOOL. That's just where we are, at the beginning. Let's proceed in order: toward midnight, the anarchist, seized by a fit of raptus - it's still you, Chief, who are talking - seized by raptus, threw himself out of the window, crashing to the ground. Now, what is "raptus"? Bandieu states that "raptus" is an exasperated form of suicidal anguish which seizes even psychologically healthy individuals, if they are provoked to violent anxiety; to desperate suffering. Correct?
CHIEF AND CAPTAIN. Correct.
FOOL. Then we have to find out who or what caused this anxiety, this anguish. We have no choice but to reconstruct the events of that day. Chief, your entrance, please.
CHIEF. My entrance?
FOOL. Yes, yours. And with feeling, please.
CHIEF. What entrance, your honor?
FOOL. The one that caused the raptus.
CHIEF. Your honor, I think there's been a mistake. It was not my entrance but an assistant of mine . . .
FOOL. Eh, eh, it's not nice to throw the responsibility onto your own staff members; in fact, it's rather naughty. Come on, get yourself together and play your part.
CAPTAIN. But judge, it was one of those expedients that's often used, in every police department . . . just a normal procedure to make the suspect confess.
FOOL. I don't recall asking for your opinion! Please be good enough to let your superior officer speak ! You're very rude, you know that? From now on, answer only when spoken to, understand? Now, Chief, please play that entrance scene for me, in first person. Go ahead, and give it all you've got.
CHIEF. All right. (he starts to go to the door.) It went something like this. The suspected anarchist was sitting there - where you are now. The inspector . . . I mean, I . . . sort of burst in . . . (he bursts in)
FOOL. Beautiful. Beautiful.
CHIEF. And . . . and I layed into him.
FOOL. Come on, be specific. Give me detail. I want to be able to know what you're thinking. I want to be able to know what you had for breakfast.
CHIEF. "Okay, my railroad worker friend . . . you subversive . . . you better fess up."
FOOL. (with file on his lap, his glasses now on top of his head) No! No! Keep to the script! (waves the script) That's not what you say!
CHIEF. Oh right. Okay. I say: "You've messed around long enough."
FOOL. (looking at the files) "Messed around." Is that all you say?
CHIEF. Yes, I swear to God.
FOOL. I believe you. Keep going. Finish him off.
CHIEF. "We have proof that you were the one who planted the bombs in the station."
FOOL. What bombs?
CHIEF. (in a more conversational tone) I'm talking about the terrorist attack that happened on the twenty-fifth of -
FOOL. No, answer with the same words you used that evening. Pretend I'm the anarchist railroad man. Come on, don't be afraid: what bombs?
CHIEF. Don't give me that innocent act! You know exactly what bombs I'm talking about: the ones you people planted in the railway cars at the central station, eight months ago.
FOOL. But did you really have the proof?
CHIEF. No. It just like the Captain was trying to explain before, it was one of the usual tricks we police officers apply pretty often.
FOOL. Ha, Ha! What a line! (He whaps the dumbfounded CHIEF on the shoulder.)
CHIEF. But we did have suspicions . . . Seeing as how the suspect was the only anarchist railroad worker in Milan, it was easy to deduce that he was the one .
FOOL. Of course. of course; I would say it's obvious, self-evident. So, if it's beyond doubt that a railroad worker planted the bombs in the railway, we can also logically deduce that it was a judge who planted those famous bombs in the Rome courthouse, the commander of the guard put the ones under the monument to the unknown soldier, and that the bomb in the Agricultural Bank was left either by a banker or by a farmer, take your choice. (flying into a sudden rage) Come on gentlemen, I'm here to carry out a serious examination. not to play idiotic logical games! Let's continue! It says here (he reads from a page.) "The anarchist did not seem affected by the accusation, but smiled in disbelief." Who made this statement?
CAPTAIN. I did, you honor.
FOOL. Good, so he was smiling . . . But there's another remark here, in your own precise words - which were also repeated by the judge who closed the investigation: "fear of losing his position, of being fired, definitely contributed to the suspect's suicidal breakdown." So, one minute he's smiling and the next he's a desperate man. Who told him he was going to be fired?
CAPTAIN. It wasn't me - I swear to . . .
FOOL. Now, now fellas - this is reality I'm talking about. Reality, with warts, and dirty hair and heavy breathing, like in the movies. You guys want to come off looking like a bunch of puffs? Every policeman in the world's got to come down hard sometime, it's expected. But you stand here claiming you never took off the kid gloves. I mean, it's your right to use force.
CHIEF AND CAPTAIN. Thank you, your honor.
FOOL. You're welcome. On the other hand, as we know, it can be risky sometimes - you tell an anarchist: "things don't look so hot for you; when we tell the railroad managers you're an anarchist they'll throw you out in the street - canned!" And he gets depressed . . . The truth is that an anarchist cares about his job more than anything else. Basically, they're petty bourgeois . . . attached to their small comforts: fixed salary ever month, benefits, bonus, retirement pension, health insurance, a tranquil old age . . . believe me, nobody thinks about his own retirement more than an anarchist. Of course, I'm talking about our own homegrown variety, those easygoing, domesticated types. Nothing like the ones we used to have back in the old days ! Those were always being hounded from one country to another. You know something about that, Chief - people being hounded? Oh goodness, what am I saying?! Well, then, to recapitulate: you beat the anarchist down emotionally, he becomes angry and depressed. and throws himself out -
CAPTAIN. If you'll allow me, your honor - in all honesty, it didn't happen right away. You haven't gotten to my part yet.
FOOL. You're right, so I haven't. The first part happened while you were still out, Inspector. Then you came back in, and after a dramatic pause he said - come on Inspector, recite your line, still making believe that I'm the anarchist.
CAPTAIN. All right, of course: "they just called me from Rome. There's some good news for you - " Excuse me, can I try that again?
FOOL. Of course, and take your time.
CAPTAIN. (nods, goes out, enters. pause) "They just called me from Milan. There's some good news for you: your comrade has confessed to planting the bomb in that bank in Milan."
FOOL. And the railroad worker, how did he take it? What should I do?
CAPTAIN. He turned pale, and asked for a cigarette.
FOOL. "Could I have a cigarette?" And then as you reached to get one - he jumps out of the window!
CAPTAIN. No, not yet.
FOOL. But that's what it says here.
CHIEF. Let me see that. (looks at file) You have the first draft, your honor. (more torn pages) We did some rewrites. Here.
FOOL. Oh, I'm sorry.
CHIEF. Don t worry about it.
FOOL. (looking through the file) I see that you told members of the press that before his tragic gesture, the anarchist felt trapped. He was "cornered." Did you say that?
CHIEF. Yes, that's just what I said: "cornered."
FOOL. And then what else did you say?
CHIEF. That his alibi, his story about spending the famous afternoon of the terrorist attack playing cards in a bar down by the canal, had collapsed. It didn't hold up anymore.
FOOL. Therefore, that the anarchist was under heavy suspicion for the Milan bank bombings, as well as for the attacks against the trains. And in conclusion, you added that the anarchist's suicidal act was "an obvious gesture of self-accusation."
CHIEF. Yes, I said so.
FOOL. And you, Inspector, shouted that during his life the man had been a delinquent, a troublemaker. But after only a few weeks, you, Chief, declared - here's the document - that "naturally," I repeat "naturally," there was no concrete evidence against the poor guy. Correct? Therefore, he was entirely innocent. You yourself even commented, Captain, "that anarchist was a good kid."
CHIEF. Yes, I'll admit . . . we made a mistake . . .
FOOL. Good grief, anybody can make a mistake. But you boys, if you'll pardon my saying so, really laid a big one. First of all you arbitrarily detain a free citizen, then abuse your authority by keeping him over the legal time limit, after which you traumatize the poor signalman by telling him you've got proof that he set the dynamite in the railway; then you more or less deliberately give him the psychosis that he's going to lose his job, then that his alibi about the card game has collapsed; and finally, the last straw: that his friend and comrade from Rome has confessed to being guilty of the Milan massacre - his friend is a dirty killer!? To the point that he cries out in desperation, "this is the end of the anarchist movement," and jumps out! My god, are we all crazy? By this time, who could be surprised if somebody who's been worked over like that gets a fit of "raptus"?! Oh, no, no, no; I'm sorry, but in my opinion you are guilty, and how! You're totally responsible for the anarchist's death! With grounds for immediate indictment on charges of inciting to suicide!
CHIEF. But your honor, how can it be possible?! You admitted yourself that it's our job to interrogate suspects and in order to get them to talk, every once in a while we have use tricks, traps, occasional psychological violence -
FOOL. Oh no, in this case we're not talking about "occasional," but about continuous violence! First of all just to raise one example: did you have absolute proof that that poor railroad man lied about his own alibi, yes or no? Answer me!
CHIEF. No we didn't have any absolute proof. . . but -
FOOL. I'm not interested in your "buts! " Are there two or three pensioners who still back up his alibi, yes or no?
CAPTAIN. Yes, there are.
FOOL. So, you also lied to the press and TV when you said the alibi had collapsed and there were serious motives for suspicion? Then you don't use those traps, schemes, lies and so on just to trip up suspects, but also to take advantage of those gullible assholes out there - to astound their good faith! All right, then, Inspector, you answer me this time: where did you get the news that the anarchist dancer had confessed?
CAPTAIN. We made it up ourselves.
FOOL. Wow, what imagination! You two ought to be writers. And believe me, you may get the chance. Jail is a great place for writing. Depressed, eh? Well then, to be perfectly honest, I'd better let you know that they have overwhelming proof of extremely serious counts against you in Rome. You're both washed up! The department of Justice and department of the Interior have decided to get rid of you, to make the worst possible example out of you, in order to build up the credibility of the police - since practically nobody believes in them anymore!
CHIEF. No, It's impossible!
CAPTAIN. But how could they - ?
FOOL. Sure, two careers ruined. That's politics. my friends. First you came in handy for a certain scheme: union agitation had to be put down: there was a real witch-hunting climate. But now things have turned around a little . . . people are up in arms about the death of that defenestrated anarchist; they're demanding a couple of heads, and the state is going to get them what they want!
CHIEF. Our heads?!
CAPTAIN.. Exactly !
FOOL. There's an old English proverb that says: "the nobleman sets his hounds against the peasants, and if the peasants complain to the king. the nobleman seeks pardon by killing the hounds."
CHIEF. And you think . . . really . . . you're certain?
FOOL. Why do you suppose I'm here? It's my job to deliver judgment on you.
CAPTAIN. Damned job !
CHIEF. I know who stabbed me in the back. Ah, but I'll get even with him!
FOOL. Of course, there are a lot of people who'll gloat over your misfortune . . . snicker with satisfaction . . .
CAPTAIN. Sure, beginning with our colleagues. That's the thing that really makes me see red!
CHIEF. Not to mention the press.
CAPTAIN. They'll drag us through the mud. Can't you just see the daily scandal sheets?!
CHIEF. You can imagine what kind of stuff they'll say about us - those bastards, who used to come around licking our hands . . . they'll turn into a regular lynch mob!
CAPTAIN. "he was a sadist." "he was an animal."
FOOL. And don't forget the humiliation . . . the ironic laughter . . .
CHIEF. The snide remarks . . . everybody will be turning their backs - we won 't even be able to get jobs as parking lot attendants!
CAPTAIN. Lousy goddam world!
FOOL. No, lousy goddam government!
CHIEF. At this point, maybe you can tell us - is there anything left for us to do? Please give us some advice!
FOOL. Me? What can I tell you?
CAPTAIN. Please, advise us!
FOOL. If I were in your shoes . . .
CHIEF. In our shoes?
FOOL. I would throw myself out the window!
CHIEF AND CAPTAIN. What?
FOOL. You asked for my advice. And under the circumstances, rather than put up with that kind of humiliation . . . jump! Go on, you can do it!
CHIEF. Yes, O.K., but how will that change anything?!
FOOL. Exactly, it won't change anything. Just give in to the "raptus" and jump! (He pushes them both toward the window.)
CAPTAIN AND CHIEF. No, don't! Wait!
FOOL. What do you mean, "wait?" What is there to wait for? What's the point of staying in this filthy world? You call this a life? Lousy world, lousy government . . . Lousy everything! Let's jump out ! (drags them forward with such violence that he nearly rips their clothes)
CHIEF. No, please, your honor. what are you doing? I've still got hope!
FOOL. There's no more hope. You're both finished, can't you understand that? Finished ! Out !!
CHIEF AND CAPTAIN. Help! Don t push . . . please! NO!
FOOL. I'm not the one who's pushing; it's the "raptus." Horray for liberating "raptus!" (He grabs them by the belt and forces them up onto the window ledge.)
CHIEF AND CAPTAIN. No, no! help! help! ! (POLICE OFFICER who had left the room at the beginning of the interrogation comes back in.)
OFFICER. What s going on, sir?
FOOL. (relaxing his grip) Oh, nothing, nothing happened. Right, Inspector? Right, Chief? Go ahead. put your officer's mind at ease.
CHIEF. (visibly shaken, climbing down from the ledge) Oh, sure relax . . . it was only -
FOOL. A "raptus."
OFFICER. A "raptus?"
FOOL. Yes, they tried to throw themselves out of the window.
OFFICER. Them too?
FOOL. Yes. but for heaven's sake, don't tell the reporters!
OFFICER. No, no.
CAPTAIN.. But it s not true; it was you, judge, who tried -
OFFICER. You tried to jump out, your honor?
CHIEF. No, he was pushing.
FOOL. It's true, it's true: I was pushing them. And they almost went along with it; they were desperate. The smallest pretext is sufficient when one is desperate .
OFFICER. Yeah, gee, the smallest pretext.
FOOL. And look at them, they're still desperate. Look what long faces!
OFFICER. (inspired by the judge's confidence) Yeah, they sure do look . . . excuse the expression . . . a little up shit creek, as they say -
CHIEF. Hey, have you gone out of your mind?
OFFICER. I'm sorry, I meant in the hole.
FOOL. Come on, cheer up - and flush it all down, as they say. Sunny side up, gentlemen!
CHIEF. Sure, it's easy for you to talk. In our position - I swear to you for a minute there I was almost ready to jump for real !
OFFICER. You were about to jump? In person?
CAPTAIN So was I, in fact.
FOOL. There, gentlemen, you see. When they use the term "raptus?!" And who would have been at fault?
CHIEF. Those bastards in the government who else!? First they push you: "come down hard; create a climate of subversion, of threatened social disorder" . . .
CAPTAIN.". . . of the need for an authoritarian state!" You throw yourself into the job and the next thing you know - .
FOOL. No, not at all. The fault would have been entirely my own.
CHIEF. Yours? Why?
FOOL. Because none of it is true; I invented the whole thing.
CHIEF. What do you mean? Isn't it true that the want to get rid of us in Rome?
FOOL. No, that's the last thing on their minds.
CAPTAIN. And the overwhelming proof?
FOOL. There never was any proof.
CAPTAIN.. And the story about the cabinet minister who wanted our heads?
FOOL. All hogwash. The cabinet ministers are crazy about you; you're the apple of their eye. And the head police commissioner gets all mushy and sentimental every time he hears your name - and calls his mother!
CHIEF. You're not joking, are you?
FOOL. Absolutely not! The whole government loves you! And I'll tell you another thing: the English proverb about the nobleman killing his hounds is false, too. No lord ever killed a good hunting dog to satisfy a peasant! If anything, it's been the other way around. And if the hound gets killed in the free-for-all, the King immediately sends a sympathy telegram to the nobleman. Along with flowers and funeral wreaths! (The CAPTAIN prepares to say something but the CHIEF nervously stop him.)
CAPTAIN. If I didn't misunderstand you . . .
CHIEF. Of course you misunderstood. Let me talk, Inspector.
CAPTAIN. Yes sir, excuse me.
CHIEF. I don't understand, your honor, why you wanted to invent this tall story -
FOOL. Tall story? No, it's just one of those normal "exaggerations" or "tricks" which the high court also uses sometimes, to show the police how uncivilized such methods are - not to say criminal !
CHIEF. Then you're still convinced that if the anarchist threw himself out of the window, we were the ones to urge him on?
FOOL. You proved it to me yourselves a moment ago, when you lost control!
CAPTAIN.. But we weren't present at the moment when he jumped. Ask the officer!
OFFICER. Yes, your honor, they had just left the room when he jumped out!
FOOL. That's like saying that if someone sets a bomb inside a bank and then leaves, he's not guilty, because he wasn't there at the time of the explosion!! Oh, we're really on the ball with our logic around here!
CHIEF. No, no, your honor; there's been a misunderstanding . . . the officer was referring to the first version. We're talking about the second one.
FOOL. Ah, that's right . . . because at a later stage, there was a sort of retraction.
CHIEF. Well, I wouldn't say exactly a retraction. A simple correction . . .
FOOL. Right. Let's hear it: what did you correct? (The CHIEF nods to the CAPTAIN.)
CAPTAIN. Well, we -
FOOL. I warn you that I also have the transcripts of this new version. Please continue.
CAPTAIN. We corrected the time of the . . . what should I call it . . . of the trick.
FOOL. What do you mean by the time of the trick?
CHIEF. Yes, to make a long story short, we stated that we set the trap for the anarchist, telling him those stories and what not, around eight o'clock in the evening instead of at midnight.
CAPTAIN. At twenty hundred hours, in other words.
FOOL. Ah, you set everything, including the flight from the window, at four hours earlier! A kind of super-extended daylight savings time!
CAPTAIN. No, not the flight - that still happened at midnight, with no change. There were witnesses.
CHIEF. One of them was that reporter who was standing down there in the courtyard, remember? (The judge shakes his head no.) The one who heard the thumping noises on the building ledge and then on the ground, and was the first to come running . . . he made a note of the time right away.
FOOL. All right. The suicide took place at midnight and the fairytale session at eight. So where do we stand with the raptus? After all, barring contrary evidence, your entire version of the suicide is based on that raptus. Every one of you, from the examining judge to the district attorney, has always insisted on the fact that the poor slob threw himself out, "the cause being sudden raptus" . . . and now, right at the best part, you're dumping the "raptus."
CHIEF. No, no - we're not dumping the "raptus" at all -
FOOL. You are too dumping it!: you're moving the suicide a full four hours up from the moment when you, or that associate of yours, come in and play the big "proof, proof, we've got the proof" game with him. And where does that leave the "sudden raptus?" After four hours, you've got to be kidding; the anarchist would have had time to digest an even bigger slice of baloney than the one you fed him. You could have told him Bakunin was a fink working as an informer for the police and the Vatican: it would have been the same!
CHIEF. But that was exactly what we wanted, your honor !
FOOL. You wanted to tell him Bakunin was a fink?
CHIEF. No, we wanted to prove that the "raptus" couldn't have been caused by our deceptions, by our false statements . . . in other words, precisely because four hours passed between that time and moment of the suicide!
FOOL. Why yes, of course, you're right. What a first rate idea . . . you really are sharp!
CHIEF. Thanks, your honor.
FOOL. Of course; it's certain that this way nobody can lay the blame on you: there was a nasty fib, but it can't be considered a determining factor!
CAPTAIN. Exactly. Therefore we're innocent.
FOOL. Good for you, boys. Of course, now it's not clear why that poor jerk threw himself out the window. But that's not important; for now the important thing is that you come out innocent.
CHIEF. Thanks again. I'll tell you sincerely, I was afraid that you started out with your mind already made up about us.
FOOL. Already made up?
CAPTAIN. Yes, that you wanted us guilty at any cost.
FOOL. For goodness' sake. If anything, it's just the opposite: I'll tell you, if I acted a little harsh and aggressive, it was only so that you'd be forced to come up with the kind of evidence and arguments that would allow me to help you as much as possible to come out on top.
CHIEF. I'm sincerely touched. It's wonderful to know that the High Court is still the police department's best friend!
FOOL. Let's say collaborator.
CAPTAIN AND CHIEF. Yes, let's call it that.
FOOL. But you have to collaborate, too, so that I can help you all the way . . . and place you in an unassailable position.
CHIEF. Of course.
CAPTAIN. We'd be delighted.
FOOL. First of all, we have to provide irrefutable arguments proving that during those four hours the anarchist had entirely gotten over his depression - his famous psychological breakdown, as the judge who closed the investigation referred to it.
CAPTAIN. Well, there's the testimony of the officer here, and mine too, stating that the anarchist felt better after a first, brief period of distress . . .
FOOL. Is it in the transcript?
CAPTAIN. Yes, I think so.
FOOL. Yes, yes, it is there; it's included in the second version of the facts. Here it is (reads) "The railroad worker calmed down and stated that he and the ex-dancer were not on good terms." Excellent !
FOOL. And let's not forget that our friend the railroad worker was aware of the fact that loads of spies and police informers hung around the anarchist group in Rome. He had even said so to the dancer: "The police and fascists are using you to foment unrest . . you're swarming with paid provocateurs, who push you in any direction they want. And the entire left is going to pay the price for it."
CAPTAIN. Maybe that's exactly why they had the fight!
FOOL. Right, and since the dancer didn't listen to him, maybe our railroad worker was beginning to suspect that he was a provocateur himself.
CHIEF. Ah, could be.
FOOL. Therefore, since he didn't give a damn about him, there's your irrefutable proof: the anarchist was calm.
CAPTAIN. In fact he was actually smiling. Remember, I said so myself, back in the first version.
FOOL. Yes, but unfortunately there's the problem that in the first version you also stated that the anarchist, looking "beaten-down," had lit a cigarette and commented in a tragic voice, "this is the end of the anarchist movement." Dum da-dum dum! Now what ever gave you the bright idea of putting in that kind of melodramatic note - for crying out loud!
CHIEF. You're right, your honor. The fact is that it was this young man's idea. I even told him, look, let's leave the big dramatic scenes to movie directors - we're cops!
FOOL. Listen to me: at this point, if we want to find a coherent solution, the only way to figure out what's going on is to throw everything up in the air and start all over again from the beginning.
CAPTAIN. Should we construct a third version?
FOOL. Good God, no! All we have to do is lend more plausibility to the two we already have.
FOOL. All right then, point one, first rule: what's been said is said, and there's no more turning back. Therefore it's established that you, Captain, and you, Chief - or someone operating under your orders - told the fairytale; that the anarchist smoked his last cigarette and stated his melodramatic line . . . but, and this is where the variant comes in, he did not throw himself out the window, because it wasn't yet midnight but only eight o'clock.
CHIEF. As in the second version.
FOOL. And, as we know, a railroad worker always follows the timetable.
CHIEF. The fact is that this way we have all the time we need to make him change his mood . . . enough so that we could have him delay his suicidal impulse.
CAPTAIN. It's a flawless argument!
FOOL. True, but how did this change come about?! Time alone isn't enough to heal certain wounds. Somebody must have helped him. I don't know, through a few lures or -
OFFICER. I gave him a piece of chewing gum!
FOOL. Good. And what about you two?
CHIEF. Well, I wasn't there . . .
FOOL. Oh, no, this is too delicate a moment, you had to be there!
CHIEF. O.K., I was there.
FOOL. All right, so to begin with, can we say that the worried state of mind which had taken hold of the anarchist made you feel a bit sorry for him?
CAPTAIN. Yes, I really did feel sorry for him.
FOOL. And could we add that you were sorry for having made him feel so bitter and depressed - right, Chief? You being such a sensitive man!
CHIEF. Well, yes, basically I found him rather pathetic. I was sorry.
FOOL. Perfect! And I bet you couldn't help putting a hand on his shoulder.
CHIEF. No, I don't think so.
FOOL. Oh, come on, it's a paternal gesture.
CHIEF. Well, maybe, but I don't remember.
FOOL. I'm sure you did! Please, tell me you did!
OFFICER. Yes that's right, he did - I saw him!
CHIEF. Well, if he saw me . . .
FOOL. (turning to the CAPTAIN) And you gave him a friendly smack on the cheek. Like this. (smacks him)
CAPTAIN. No, I'm sorry to disappoint you. but I'm positive I didn't . . . I didn't give him any smacks.
FOOL. You certainly do disappoint me. And you know why? Because in addition to being an anarchist, that man was also a railroad worker! Had you forgotten? And you know what being a railroad worker means? It means something that's tied to everyone's childhood. It means little electric and mechanical model trains. Didn't you have any model trains when you were a child?
CAPTAIN. Yes, I had a real steam engine, with smoke coming out . . . and armor-plated cars, naturally.
FOOL. And did it go "too-toot?"
CAPTAIN. Yes, too-toot . . .
FOOL. Splendid! You said "too-toot" and your eyes lit up! No, Captain, you couldn't help reeling affection for that man . . . because, subconsciously, he was connected to your little train. If the suspect had been, say, a bank clerk, you wouldn't have even looked at him. But he was a railroad man, and you I'm more than certain, gave him a smack.
OFFICER. Yes, it's true; I saw it myself . . . he did give it to him: two smacks!
FOOL. You see? I have witnesses! And what did you say while you were smacking him?
CAPTAIN. I don't remember -
FOOL. I'll tell you what you said: You said to him: "come on, chin up, don't take it so hard . . . (and you called him by name) you'll see, the anarchist movement won't die!"
CAPTAIN. Gee, I really don't think -
FOOL. Oh, no - by god, you said it. Otherwise I'll get mad. Look at this nerve on my neck. Do you admit you said it, yes or no?
CAPTAIN. Oh, all right, if it makes you happy.
FOOL. Well, then, say it. I have to put it down in the transcript. (begins to write)
CAPTAIN. Well, I said: come on. Chin up . . . don't take it so hard, kid . . . you'll see, the anarchist movement won't die!
FOOL. Fine . . . and then you sang.
CHIEF. We sang . . . ?
FOOL. Naturally, once you got to that point . . . there was an atmosphere of such friendship such comradeship, that you couldn't help singing - all together, in chorus! Let's hear what you sang. I bet it was the anarchist hymn, "The world is our homeland."
CHIEF. No, your honor; I m sorry, but as far as singing in chorus is concerned we really can't go along -
FOOL. Ah, you don't go along? Well, then, you know what I say? I'll drop the whole thing, and you can work it out for yourselves. It's your problem. I'll arrange the facts exactly as you've laid them out for me: you know the outcome. It will be - excuse the colorful expression - a fucking mess! That's right! First you say one thing, then you retract it; you offer one version and half an hour later you offer a completely different one. You don't even agree between the two of you. You make statements to the entire press, and to TV news reporters too. if I'm not mistaken, of this nature: "naturally" there isn't any transcript of the interrogation sessions with the anarchist; there was no time - and then, after a while, a miracle!: two or three transcripts turn up . . . and signed by him, with his own hand, large as life! If any suspect contradicted himself half as much as you muckers, he'd have gotten bumped off long ago. You know what people think of you by now? That you're a bunch of bull-shitters . . . as well as bad boys. How can you expect anybody to believe what you say anymore? Except for the judge who ordered the inquiry to be closed, of course. And you know the main reason why people don't believe you? Because your version of the facts, in addition to being screwy, is also lacking in human interest . . . warmth. Nobody, Captain, can forget the rude, arrogant way you answered the anarchist's poor widow, when she asked you why she hadn't been notified of her husband's death . Never a moment of sympathy; not one of you who ever lets himself go . . . exposes himself. . . maybe laughs, cries - sings! People would be willing to forgive all the contradictions you've jumped into with both feet - but only if, in exchange, beyond these obstacles. they could catch a glimpse of a human heart . . . two "living" men who let themselves be moved to tears of sympathy; and although still remaining policemen, join the anarchist in singing his own song, just to make him happy . . . "Arise ye prisoners of starvation." - who wouldn't burst out crying! ? Who could refuse to joyfully call out your names, on hearing such a story! I beg of you ! For your own good . . . so that the investigation will turn out in your favor . . . Sing! (he begins singing the International in English in a loud voice, motioning to the policemen. Shakily, and with obvious embarrassment, they start singing along with him, one after the other.)
"Arise ye prisoners of starvation
Arise ye wretched of the earth
For justice thunders condemnation
A better world's in birth."
(He actually grabs them by the shoulders, urging them on. Lights begin to go on in houses outside of the window all around town, as policemen become a voiced chorus.)
END OF ACT ONE