Dario Fo's
ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST

Act 2

Even before the lights go on, the four men begin singing again just as at the end of Act 1. The resolute final notes coincide with the return of full stage lighting.

FOOL. (applauds. embraces and shakes hands with the policemen) Wonderful, good for you! Now that's more like it ! At this point nobody can doubt that the anarchist felt completely tranquil !

CAPTAIN. I would guess he was happy.

FOOL. Sure, he felt right at home. Among members of one of those Roman clubs where in fact there are more plainclothes police than real anarchists.

CHIEF. Our rapid-fire attack of false statements didn't damage his psychological state in the least.

FOOL. Therefore, no raptus; the raptus comes later. (indicating the CAPTAIN) When?

CAPTAIN. Towards midnight.

FOOL. Caused by what?

CHIEF. Well, I think the reason -

FOOL. No, no, good lord! You don't think anything; you're not supposed to know anything about it, Chief!

CHIEF. What do you mean, I'm not supposed to know - ?

FOOL. For god's sake, here we are bending over backwards to get you out of the mess, to show that you had nothing to do with the railroad man's death, because you weren't even present . . .

CHIEF. I'm sorry. you're right. I was distracted.

FOOL. Eh, but you get a little too distracted Chief. Pay more attention! So, as a line from an old vaudeville routine goes, "headquarters had no head, 'cause the head man was in bed." But the Captain wasn't in bed!

CAPTAIN. No, I was in the office, but I went out a little while later.

FOOL. Here we go shifting responsibility again. Now, be a good boy and tell me what happened around midnight.

CAPTAIN. There were six of us in this room; myself, four officers . . . and a lieutenant.

FOOL. Ah, yes, the one they promoted to captain later on.

CAPTAIN. That's right.

FOOL. And what was going on?

CAPTAIN. The interrogation.

FOOL. Still? "Where were you; what were you doing? Talk! Don't try playing any smart tricks."

CAPTAIN. Oh, no, your honor. We were kidding around during the interrogation.

FOOL. Come on. "Kidding around?"

CAPTAIN. I swear to you . . . ask the guard. (he shoves the OFFICER toward the judge.)

FOOL. That isn't necessary. It's incredible (exhibits a sheet of paper) but it's even written down here in the deposition given before the judge who closed the inquiry.

CAPTAIN. Certainly, and he didn't question it in the least.

FOOL. Oh, I believe it too. But how do you mean. "kidding around?"

CAPTAIN. In the sense that we were kidding . . we were interrogating him trying to get a laugh out of it.

FOOL. I don't, understand; were you putting on a slapstick comedy? Did you wear clown suits and blow on tooters?

CAPTAIN. Well, we didn't exactly go that far . . but anyway we went heavy on the joking, playing around with the suspects . . . making puns. a couple of funny routines. . .

OFFICER. It's true, honest, we were laughing like crazy. The Captain may not look it, but, you know, he's a real comedian. When he's in the right mood, you should see the side-splitting interrogations he does . . . ha, ha, ha, you could die laughing!

FOOL. Now I understand why they decided to change your motto in Rome.

CHIEF. The motto of the police force?

FOOL. Yes, yours. They decided at the Ministry of the Interior.

CHIEF. Are they going to change it?

FOOL. Well, let's say they're going to complete it. How does it go now?

CAPTAIN. The police is at the service of the citizens.

FOOL. That's it; and from now on it will be "the police is at the service of the citizens, to entertain them!"

CHIEF. Ha, ha; you're making fun of us.

FOOL. Not at all; I'm more than convinced that you treat suspects jokingly, as you assert I recall once I was in Bergamo - during the interrogation of that so called "Monday league" - remember, there was a priest involved in it, also a doctor, the druggist . . . almost a whole town indicted, and later turned out to be innocent. Anyway, I was living in a small hotel right near the police headquarters where the interrogations were taking place, and almost every night I was woken up by screaming and yelling which at first I thought came from people being kicked. clubbed . . . but later I found out it was laughter. Yes, rather coarse laughter from the people under interrogation: "Ah, ah. oh god! Enough, ah, ah! Help, I can't stand it! No more, Inspector: you're killing me!"

CHIEF. Irony notwithstanding, you know that afterward they got sentenced, from the commandant to the lowest corporal. All of them!

FOOL. Certainly, for overdoing the humor! (expressions of impatience from the officers) No, no, I'm not joking; you don't realize how many perfectly innocent people invent crimes just so they can be brought in to headquarters! You think they're anarchists, communists, militants in Workers' Power, union organizers . . . it's not true; actually they're nothing but poor, sick, depressed people; sad hypochondriacs masquerading as revolutionaries just so you can interrogate them! That's the only way they can finally achieve some good, healthy laughter - perk up their tired blood, in other words !

CHIEF. Right now, your honor, I would say that you're doing more than pulling our leg, you're actually mocking us!

FOOL. Good heavens, I would never allow it.

CHIEF. (hunching and rubbing his shoulders) Excuse me, would you mind if l closed the window? It's gotten so cold in here all of a sudden . . .

FOOL. Certainly, go right ahead. It really is cold!

CAPTAIN. That's because the sun has just gone down. (At a sign from the CAPTAIN, the POLICEMAN has closed the window.)

FOOL. Right. But then, on that evening, the sun didn't go down.

CAPTAIN. Huh?

FOOL. I said, on that evening when the anarchist threw himself out the window, did the sun stay up; wasn't there any sunset? (The three policemen look at each other in astonishment.)

CHIEF. I don t follow . . . (The FOOL pretends to get annoyed)

Fool. Look, even though it was December, if the window was still wide open at midnight, it means it wasn't cold. And if it wasn't cold, that could only have been because the sun hadn't gone down yet. It went down later: at one A.M., Like in July in Norway.

CHIEF. No, no; they had just opened it . . . to air out the room, right?

CAPTAIN. Yes, it was full of smoke.

CAPTAIN. The anarchist smoked a lot, see?

FOOL. And had you opened the shutters as well as the window?

CAPTAIN. Yes, the shutters too.

FOOL. In December? At midnight, with the thermometer down to below freezing, a damp fog that can turn you to stone? "I'm suffocating, quick, some fresh air! What do we care if we all come down with pneumonia?" Did you have your coats on, at least?

CAPTAIN. No, just our jackets.

FOOL. Casual elegance!

CAPTAIN. But I can assure you, it wasn't cold at all.

CHIEF. No, it wasn't cold . . .

FOOL. Oh yeah? On that night the weather report listed temperatures that would petrify a polar bear all over Italy, and they weren't cold. On the contrary - "springtime!" Do you guys have a personal African monsoon that passes through here every night, or is it the "gulf stream current" coming up "Saint Mark's tunnel" and passing along underground through the sewer system?

CAPTAIN. Excuse me. your honor, but I don't understand; awhile ago you said you were here deliberately to help us, but in fact all you're doing is calling every one of our statements into question. Mocking us, humiliating us . . .

Fool . All right. maybe I am exaggerating, questioning too much. But here you'll feel as though you're looking at one of those games for retarded morons that appears in the Sunday comic page: "find the thirty-seven errors and contradictions of Inspector Dopey Dum-dum." And how can I help you? (The policeman sit down, discouraged and silent.) All right, all right, don't pull those long faces. Cheer up! I promise that from this moment on I won't poke fun at you anymore. The proceedings will be absolutely serious! Now, let's forget about what led up to the event -

CHIEF. Yes, let's forget it.

FOOL. And get down to the event itself: the jump.

CAPTAIN. Agreed.

FOOL. Our anarchist friend, overcome by raptus . . . let's see if together we can find a slightly more credible reason for this mad act. He leaps to his feet, takes a run - just a second, who served as his "footstool?"

CAPTAIN. What? The "footstool?"

FOOL. In other words, which one of you stood next to the window with the fingers of both hands interlocked at the height of his stomach: like this. For him to put his foot on - and then, wham!, a blow that lifts him in flight over the ledge.

CAPTAIN. What in the world are you saying, your honor; do you think that we -

FOOL. No, for heaven's sake, don't get upset. I was just asking . . . thinking that, since it's a fairly high jump, with so little space for the preliminary run, with no outside help . . . I wouldn't want anybody to be able to question -

CAPTAIN. No, there's nothing to question, your honor, I assure you; he did it all by himself!

FOOL. Wasn't there even the kind of little stool they use in competitions?

CAPTAIN. No . . .

FOOL . Maybe the jumper was wearing shoes with elastic heels!

CAPTAIN. No, no elastic heels.

FOOL. Well, then let's see what we have. On the one hand, a man about five foot ten, alone, with no help, and without a ladder. On the other hand, half a dozen cops who were standing only a few yards away - one of them right next to the window, in fact - and yet don't make it in time to stop him . . .

CAPTAIN. But it happened so suddenly!

OFFICER And you have no idea how quick that devil was. I just barely managed to grab him by a foot.

FOOL. Aha! You see, my provocation technique works: you grabbed him by the foot !

OFFICER. Yes, but the shoe stayed in my hand, and he went down anyway.

FOOL. It doesn't matter. What matters is that the shoe stayed behind. That shoe proves beyond the slightest doubt that you tried to save him!

CAPTAIN. Of course, it's beyond all doubt.

CHIEF. (to the OFFICER) Good for you!

OFFICER. Thanks, Chief, I'm -

CHIEF. Shut up!

FOOL. Just a moment . . . something's out of whack here. (shows the officers a piece of paper) Did the suicide victim have three shoes?

CHIEF. What do you mean, three shoes?

FOOL. Just that. One of them apparently remained in the hands of the policeman, as he himself testified a couple of days after the unfortunate event. (Shows the paper) It's right here.

CAPTAIN. Yes, that's true. He told a reporter that.

FOOL. But here, in this other attached report, everybody insists that as the anarchist lay dying on the courtyard pavement, he still had both shoes on. All the eyewitnesses who gathered around testify to it, including a columnist from l'Unitá and other reporters who happened to be on the scene.

CAPTAIN. I don't see how that could have happened.

FOOL. Neither do I! Unless this speedy officer managed to race down the stairs, arrive in time to reach the second-floor landing, stick his head out the window before the suicide passed him on the way down, place his shoe back on his foot as he flew by, and zip like lightning back up to the fourth floor at the very instant the falling man hit the ground.

CHIEF. There, you see, you're acting sarcastic again!

FOOL. You're right. I can't resist it . . . forgive me. Now then: three shoes - excuse me, would you happen to remember if he was a triped, by any chance?

CHIEF. What?

FOOL. If the railroad worker, the suicide victim, had three feet. In which case it would have been logical for him to wear three shoes.

CHIEF. (irritated) No, he was not a triped!

FOOL. Please, don't get mad. Especially since you can expect even worse than that from an anarchist !

OFFICER. That's a fact!

CHIEF. Shut up!

CAPTAIN. What a mess, for crying out loud. We'd better find a plausible explanation, otherwise -

FOOL. I've got it!

CHIEF. What's that?

FOOL. Here it is: Obviously one of his shoes was a little big for him. Therefore, not having an innersole on hand, he put on another, narrower shoe before putting on the large one.

CAPTAIN. Two shoes on the same foot?

FOOL. Sure, what's so strange about that? Like galoshes, remember? Those rubber overshoes they used to wear .

CHIEF. Exactly, used to.

FOOL. Well, some people still wear them. In fact, you know what I think? That what was left in the officer's hand wasn't a shoe. but a galosh.

CAPTAIN. Oh no, it's impossible. An anarchist with galoshes! That stuff is for old-fashioned types, conservatives -

FOOL. Anarchists are very conservative. At any rate, if you're not satisfied with either the galoshes or the story of the three shoes - (The telephone rings. Everyone stops. The INSPECTOR picks up the receiver.)

CAPTAIN. Excuse me. (into the phone) Yes, what is it? Just a minute. (to the CHIEF) It's the guard. He says there's a newspaper woman downstairs at the door who wants to see you, Chief.

CHIEF. Oh, that's right; I made an appointment with her for today . . . she's from l'Expresso or l'Europeo, I can't remember which. Ask if her name is Feletti.

CAPTAIN. (into the phone) Is her name Feletti? (to the CHIEF) Yes, Maria Feletti.

CHIEF. Then she's the one. She wanted an interview. Please ask her to come by some other time; I really can't make it today -

FOOL. No indeed! I wouldn't dream of having you change your plans on my account !

CHIEF. How do you mean?

FOOL. I know that one; she's an important woman, and she could take it the wrong way. She's very touchy! If she's miffed, she wouldn't hesitate to write one of those articles about you - show her in, for heaven's sake!

CHIEF. But what about your investigation?

FOOL. It can wait. Don't you understand yet that I'm in the same boat with you guys? People like her you have to try to get on your side, not against you! Take it from me.

CHIEF. All right (turning to the CAPTAIN, still holding the phone) Ask her to come up.

CAPTAIN. (into the phone) Show her into my office. (hangs up)

CHIEF. And what will you do; are you going to leave us?

FOOL. I wouldn't dream of it. I never abandon my friends, especially in moments of danger!

CAPTAIN AND CHIEF. You're staying?

CHIEF. And how are you going to present yourself? Do you want that vulture of a newspaperwoman to find out who you are and what you're here for? So that she can go ahead and spread it all over her paper? In that case you might as well say you want to see us wiped out !

FOOL. No, I don't want to see you wiped out. Don't worry; the vulture will never find out who I really am.

CAPTAIN. No? But how -

FOOL. Absolutely not. I'll change my identity. For me it's child's play, believe me - psychiatrist, inspector from the criminal division, head of Interpol, chief of the scientific division: take your choice. If the vulture should try to embarrass you with some sneaky question, all you have to do is throw me a wink and I'll intervene. The important thing is that you don't compromise yourselves. . . you -

CHIEF. That s awfully generous of you, your honor (squeezes his hands with emotion)

FOOL. Don't go on calling me judge, for pity's sake! From this moment on, I am Marcantonio Banzi Piccinni; from the scientific division. All right?

CAPTAIN. But there really is a Captain Banzi Piccinni down in Rome -

FOOL. Exactly. That way, if the reporter writes something we don't like, it will be easy to show that she invented the whole thing by calling the real Captain Piccinni from Rome as a witness.

CAPTAIN. Wow, you're a genius! Do you really think you can play the part of the captain?

FOOL. Don't worry; during the last war I was a chaplain for the Green Berets.

CHIEF. Quiet, she's here.

(The REPORTER enters)

CHIEF. Come right in, ma'am.

REPORTER. Good evening. I'd like to see the Chief please.

CHIEF. That's me, ma'am; pleased to meet you. We've only spoken on the phone, unfortunately.

REPORTER. How do you do. The guard down at the door gave me a bit of trouble.

CHIEF. You're right; please excuse the inconvenience. It was my fault for neglecting to inform him that you were coming. I'd like to introduce my assistants: Officer Pisani; the Captain in charge of this office . . .

REPORTER. Pleased to meet you.

CAPTAIN. My Pleasure, ma'am. (shakes her hand with military vigor.)

REPORTER. Good Lord, what a grip!

CAPTAIN. I'm sorry.

CHIEF. (indicating the FOOL, who is messing about with his back turned) And finally, the other Captain . . . Captain?!

FOOL. Here I am (He appears with a false mustache, a black patch over one eye, and one hand wearing a brown glove. The astonished CHIEF is unable to continue, so the FOOL introduces himself.) Captain Marcantoni Banzi Piccinni. of the Scientific Division. Please excuse my stiff hand; it's wood, a souvenir of the Nicaraguan campaign, ex-advisor to the Contras. Have a seat, ma'am.

CHIEF. Can I offer you a drink?

REPORTER. No thanks. If you don't mind, I'd prefer to begin right away; I'm in a bit of a hurry. Unfortunately, I have to hand in the article this evening; it goes to the typographer tonight.

CHIEF. All right, as you wish. Let's get started at once: we're ready.

REPORTER. I'd like to ask a number of questions. (Takes out a note pad and reads.) The first is actually directed to you, Inspector, and forgive me if it's a little provocative . . . If it's all right with you, I'll use the tape recorder - unless you're opposed to it (Takes a tape recorder out of her purse).

CAPTAIN. Well, to tell the truth, we -

FOOL. Heavens no, go right ahead. (to the INSPECTOR) First rule: never contradict.

CAPTAIN. But if we let something escape . . . and want to deny it later, she has the proof . . .

REPORTER. Excuse me, is anything wrong?

FOOL. (with perfect timing) No, no, on the contrary. The Captain was just praising you; he says you're a very courageous woman, of real democratic principles . . . a lover of truth and justice, whatever they may cost !

REPORTER. That's awfully kind of him.

CAPTAIN. What would you like to ask?

REPORTER. Why do they call you window-riding instructor?

CAPTAIN. Window-riding instructor? Me?

REPORTER. Yes, or also "Captain riding instructor."

CAPTAIN. And who supposedly calls me that?

REPORTER. I have here the photocopy of a letter from a young anarchist, sent from the San Vittore prison where the boy was being held during the very time of our anarchist's death. The letter talks about you. Inspector . . . and about this room.

CAPTAIN. Oh, really? And what does it say?

REPORTER. (reads) "The Inspector from the fourth floor office forced me to sit astride the window ledge with my legs hanging down, and then started poking and insulting me . . . 'jump; why don't you jump . . . don't have the guts, eh? Finish it off! What are you waiting for?' I swear I had to clench my teeth so I wouldn't give in, so I wouldn't let myself go."

FOOL. (as Piccinni) Wonderful! Sounds like a scene from a Hitchcock movie.

REPORTER. If you don't mind, Captain, my question was directed to the head of this office, not to you. (placing the microphone in front of the CAPTAIN's mouth) How would you respond to this?

FOOL. (in the CAPTAIN's ear): Calm and indifferent!

CAPTAIN. I have no response at all. You answer me, instead, very frankly: do you think I forced the railroad worker into a riding position also?

FOOL. Ssh; don't get caught. (pretending to sing to himself) the vulture's flying high, way up in the sky, far away from my house . . .

REPORTER. Am I mistaken, Captain, or are you attempting to disrupt this conversation?

FOOL. Not at all, I was only commenting. And if you'll allow me, Miss Feletti, I'd like to ask you if you think we write commercials for Windex, since you seem absolutely determined to find us doing a window-test with every anarchist we can get our hands on?!

REPORTER. Needless to say, Captain, you're very clever.

CAPTAIN. (to the FOOL) Thanks, you got me out of a really tight spot. (slaps him on the shoulder)

FOOL. Go easy with the hands, Inspector; I have a glass eye! (points to his black patch)

CAPTAIN. A glass eye?

FOOL. And watch out when you shake my hand, too; it's artificial.

REPORTER. Getting back to the subject of windows, the report on the parabola of the fall seems to be missing from the judge's dossier - the one containing his decision to close the inquiry.

CHIEF. Parabola of the fall?

REPORTER. Yes, the parabola of the alleged suicide's fall to the ground.

CHIEF. What's the purpose of that report?

REPORTER. Its purpose is to establish whether or not the anarchist was still completely alive at the moment when he flew out of the window. That is, if he had taken the slightest jump before he went out, or if he fell like an inanimate object, as the report in fact states, grazing the wall. If any fractures or lesions were found on his arms or hands, which according to the report was not the case - in other words, the alleged suicide did not throw his hands forward to protect himself at the moment of impact with the ground: a normal and totally instinctive gesture.

CAPTAIN. Yes, but don't forget that we're dealing with a suicide here - a person who threw himself out because he wanted to die!

FOOL. Ah, but that doesn't mean - unfortunately, I have to back up Miss Feletti on this point. As you see, I'm completely objective. All sorts of experiments have been done on the subject; they've taken suicides and thrown them out of windows, and in each case they noticed that, instinctively, at the right moment, they all threw their hands forward: smack!

CHIEF. Great help you're giving us! Are you crazy?

FOOL. Yes, how did you find out?

REPORTER. But the most disconcerting detail for which I would really like an explanation, concerns a tape recording that's missing from that same file on the judge's decision to close the inquiry. The tape recorded the exact time of the phone call for the ambulance. The call was placed through the switchboard of police headquarters, and the Red Cross attendant, as well as the telephone operator, testified that it was made at two minutes to twelve. But every reporter who came running into the courtyard swears that the jump occurred at exactly three minutes after twelve. In short, the stretcher was summoned five minutes before the anarchist flew out of the window. Can any of you explain this curious fact?

FOOL. Oh, we often call for stretchers, just in case, because you never know . . . and sometimes we hit it at just the right minute, as you see.

CAPTAIN.(giving him a whap on the shoulder)Great!

FOOL. Careful, my eye - it may pop out!

CHIEF. Anyway, I don't understand what you're trying to accuse us of. Is it some kind of crime to be prepared? Barely three minutes ahead of time - come on, you know that for the police being ahead of time is all-important !

CAPTAIN. Besides, I'm thoroughly convinced that the fault lies with the watches. Those reporters' watches must have been slow . . . I mean fast . . .

CHIEF. Or maybe the operator who tape-recorded our call had a slow time-clock . . .

OFFICER. Sure, more than likely.

REPORTER. Strange timepiece disease!

FOOL. What's so strange about it? We're not in Switzerland, here. Every one of us sets his watch at the time he likes best. Some people prefer being early, others late . . . this is a nation of artists, incredible individualists, rebels against habit -

CAPTAIN. Great, fantastic! (whaps him on the shoulder; clicking sound of glass marble hopping along the floor)

FOOL. You see?! What did I tell you . . . you knocked out my glass eye!

CAPTAIN. (going down on his hands and knees to look for it) I'm sorry . . . we'll find it for you right away.

FOOL. Good thing I have the eye-patch that held it back; otherwise, who knows where it would have wound up. Excuse me, ma'am, what were we talking about?

REPORTER. About the fact that we're a nation of artists who like to rebel against habit. And I agree with you there - judges who order investigations to be closed are the most rebellious of all: they forget to gather eyewitness reports, tapes with the record of times, data about the fall; they neglect to inquire how come an ambulance stretcher was called ahead of time - all petty details! Including the bruises at the base of the dead man's neck: their cause is anything but clear.

CHIEF. Be careful, ma'am. I'd advise you not to go talking at random; it's dangerous.

REPORTER. Is that a threat?

FOOL. No, no, Chief; I don't believe Miss Feletti is talking at random. She's obviously alluding to a version of the facts that I've heard suggested on more than one occasion - and strangely enough, it originated right in the halls of this building.

CHIEF. What's that all about?

FOOL. People are whispering that during the anarchist's last interrogation someone who was there got impatient and, just a few minutes before midnight, landed a huge blow on the neck of the above-mentioned anarchist. Calm down, Chief . . . he was reportedly semi-paralyzed. In addition he was rattling from the throat, because he couldn't breathe. Then the ambulance was called, and in the meantime, while they were trying to revive him, they threw open the window. They carried the anarchist up to the window-sill and let him hang over a little, so the rather cool night air could bring him to. They say two people were holding him . . . and as it often happens in these cases, each one was relying on the other - should I hold him? Do you want to hold him? - and wham-bam, down he went! (The infuriated INSPECTOR strides forward, slips on the glass marble, and crashes to the floor.)

REPORTER. There, exactly like that!

CHIEF. (to the FOOL) For chrissakes, have you gone crazy?

FOOL. That's right, Chief, sixteen times.

INSPECTOR. God damn it ! What did I slip on?

FOOL. On my glass eye, that's what ! Look, you got it all dirty! Officer, would you mind getting me a glass of water to wash it? (The OFFICER exits.)

REPORTER. You have to admit that this version clarifies a whole lot of mysteries: the reason why the stretcher was summoned ahead of time, why the fall was like that of an inanimate body - and even why the District Attorney used such a curious term when he was making his concluding remarks.

FOOL. What term? Please try to be more explicit; I've already got a headache from my own problems.

REPORTER. The D.A. declared in writing that the anarchist's death must be considered "accidental." Accident, mind you, not suicide as you gentlemen called it. And there's a big difference between the two terms. On the other hand, the way the Captain described the incident, it would be possible to define it precisely as an "accident." (In the meantime the OFFICER, who has returned with the glass of water, hands it to the FOOL. Entirely absorbed in the woman's speech, the FOOL swallows the glass marble as if it were a pill.)

FOOL. Oh my god! The eye! Good grief. I've swallowed the eye - oh well at least I hope it cures my headache.

CHIEF. (in the ear of the false CAPTAIN) What kind of game are you playing now?

CAPTAIN. (alternating with the CHIEF) Don't you think you've given that vulture a little too much rope? At this point she's sure she can hang us!

FOOL. Please, let me handle it. (to the REPORTER) Still, I can prove to you ma'am, that this last version is completely unreliable.

REPORTER. Unreliable, sure, just like the testimonies of the pensioners were considered unreliable by the judge who ordered the case to be closed!

FOOL. What's this story about unreliable pensioners?

REPORTER. It's odd that you haven't been informed about it! In his decision to close the inquiry, this judge declared that the testimonies of the three customers cited by our anarchists were unreliable. The men asserted that they had spent the tragic afternoon of the bombing playing cards with him in a tavern down by the canal.

FOOL. The testimonies were unreliable? Why?

REPORTER. Because, as the judge explained, "these are elderly people in poor health, and also invalids."

FOOL. Did he write that in his decision, too?

REPORTER. Yes.

FOOL. Well, I don't see how you could really disagree with him. These elderly gentlemen are not terribly healthy, am I right?

REPORTER. Yes. They are retired factory workers. Quite poor.

FOOL. Well - the judge was quite correct then. Poor people, from my experience, try like hell to forget. If they had to remember even half of what they've gone through, they'd find a nice window for themselves four floors up. That's assuming they're not in one of those new housing projects where the windows don't open. Interesting architecture - saved the lives of a lot of poor people. As for being sick, well - have you seen what they eat - it's disgusting. Some of them only eat cheese that the government gives them. Now is that a balanced diet?

REPORTER. Ha ha, that's too much! Well apart from the grotesque comedy, should the blame be placed on them, if they're reduced to such a state?

FOOL. No, it's society that's definitely at fault! But we're not here to put capitalism and the bosses on trial we're here to talk about which witnesses are more reliable and which ones less! If somebody is in bad shape because he's been exploited too long or had an accident in the factory, we as representatives of order and justice, should not become involved.

CHIEF. Good for you. Captain!

FOOL. You don't have the means to provide yourself with sufficient vitamins, proteins, sugars. fats and minerals to make your memory work? Well then, too bad for you; as a judge, I turn you down - but you're out of the game, a second-class citizen.

REPORTER. Aha, you see! I knew that sooner or later we'd get down to the question of class, and of class privilege!

FOOL. So, who ever denied it? Sure, I'll admit it's true: ours is a society divided into classes - and that goes for witnesses, too: there are first, second, third, and fourth-class witnesses. It's never a question of age. I mean, for god's sake, who's kidding who? Why does somebody bother getting a college degree? And afterwards, why does he become a privileged stockholder? So that he can receive the same treatment as a crummy pensioner? And they say that in Italy nobody has faith in the dollars anymore! Age has nothing to do with it. America's most trusted official is a septagenarian President who can't even remember the words to America the Beautiful. He reads the lyrics from a cue card and his wife whispers into his ear. It would be a tragedy if he were an actor. But somehow it just makes people trust him more. (The FOOL-CAPTAIN comes out from behind the desk and we discover that he has a wooden leg, like a pirate's. All stare at him dumb-founded. He comments imperturbably.) Operation Cobra. Nasty souvenir! But no point talking about it; it's water under the bridge.

(The door opens, and INSPECTOR BERTOZZO looks in. He has a bandage over one eye.)

BERTOZZO Excuse me, am I interrupting?

CHIEF Come in, come in Inspector Bertozzo. Please sit down.

BERTOZZO I just had to deliver this. (Shows a small metal box)

CHIEF What is it?

BERTOZZO. A facsimile of the bomb that exploded in the bank.

REPORTER Oh my god!

BERTOZZO. Don't worry, ma'am, it's defused.

CHIEF. Well then, put it down right over there . . . now, be a nice guy and shake hands with your colleague. You too, Inspector . . . come here and patch things up.

BERTOZZO. Patch what up, Chief? I would at least like to know what made him fly off the handle and give me this shiner! (The CHIEF elbows him in the ribs.)

CAPTAIN. Oh, you don't know eh? And what about the razzberry?

BERTOZZO. What razzberry?

CHIEF. Come on, that's enough! There are strangers present.

FOOL. Quite so.

BERTOZZO. But Chief, I'm just trying to understand what got into him. He comes in without even saying hello, and - bam!

FOOL. Well, he could have at least said hello to him. He's right about that after all!

BERTOZZO. There, you see - excuse me, but you look so familiar.

FOOL. Must be because we're both wearing an eyepatch. (All laugh.)

BERTOZZO. No, really, joking aside -

FOOL. Please allow me: I am Captain Marcantonio Banzi Piccinni, of the Scientific Division.

BERTOZZO. Piccinni? But you can't - it's not possible - I know Captain Piccinni . . .

CHIEF. (deftly kicking him) No, you don't know him.

BERTOZZO. I don't know him? You must be kidding!

CAPTAIN. No, you do not know him. (kick)

BERTOZZO. Listen don't you start up again -

CHIEF. Forget the whole thing. (kick)

BERTOZZO. But we went through the Police academy together! (receives another kick, this time from the FOOL.)

FOOL. We're telling you to forget the whole thing (gives him a slap as well)

BERTOZZO. Hey, what do you think you're -

FOOL. (pointing to the Captain) It was him. (The CHIEF pulls him aside, toward the REPORTER.)

CHIEF. If you'll allow me, Inspector, I'd like to introduce Miss - I'll explain to you later - Miss Feletti the reporter. Now do you catch on? (digs him with an elbow)

BERTOZZO. Pleased to meet you. I'm Inspector Bertozzo . . . No I don't catch on (Kick from the CHIEF, and another from the FOOL, who is beginning to enjoy it so much that he kicks the CHIEF, too. At the same time, he lands a robust slap on the back of both BERTOZZO's and the INSPECTOR's necks, simultaneously. Convinced that it was the CAPTAIN:) You see. Chief, I told you; he's the one who always starts! . . . (To conclude, the FOOL slaps the reporter on the rear and then points to the CHIEF.)

REPORTER. I beg your pardon, just what do you think you're doing?!

CHIEF. (thinking she is referring to the squabble) You're right, but I don't know how to explain it. Bertozzo, cut it out and listen to me! The lady is here for a very important interview understand? (kicks him, also winking at him conspiratorially)

BERTOZZO. I understand.

CHIEF. So, ma'am, if you'd care to, you can ask him some questions too. The Inspector is a specially trained expert in ballistics and explosives.

REPORTER. Oh, yes, there is something you could clear up for me. You said that that box contains the facsimile of the bank bomb.

BERTOZZO. Well, it's a very rough facsimile, since all the original explosive devices were lost, so to speak

REPORTER. But one of the bombs was saved, unexploded.

BERTOZZO. That's right, the one that was left in the Bank of Commerce.

REPORTER. Then explain to me why it is that, instead of defusing it and handing it over to the Scientific Division, as they usually do, so that it could be thoroughly examined, the minute they found it they brought it into a courtyard, buried it and blew it up?

BERTOZZO. Excuse me, how come you want to know that?

REPORTER. You know why as well as I do, Inspector. That way, the "signature" of the murderers was destroyed along with the bomb.

FOOL. It's true. as the saying goes, "tell me how you put together a bomb and I'll tell you who you are."

BERTOZZO. (shaking his head) No, sir, that sure isn't Piccinni ! (The FOOL has grabbed the box containing the bomb.)

CHIEF. Of course it isn't! Shut up!

BERTOZZO. Ah, I didn't think so. Who is it, then? (receives another kick)

FOOL. If Inspector Bertozzo will allow me, as head of the Scientific Division -

BERTOZZO. Who's supposed to buy that? What are you doing? Please, let go of that box; it's dangerous!

FOOL. (swiftly kicks him) I'm from the Scientific Division. Move over there.

CHIEF. But, are you really familiar with those things? (the FOOL looks at him disdainfully.)

FOOL. You see, ma'am, a bomb of this type is so complex . . . look at the number of wires, two detonators, the timing device, primer, springs, levers - as I said, it's so complex that one could very easily hide a double mechanism with delayed explosion so that nobody could find it, unless they dismantled the entire bomb piece by piece - which would take a whole day, believe me! - and in the meantime, boom!

CHIEF. (to BERTOZZO) He really does sound like a technician, doesn't he?

BERTOZZO. (stubborn) Yes, but he's not Piccinni.

FOOL. That's why they preferred to lose the killers' signature, as you called it, and set the bomb off in a courtyard, rather than risk seeing it blow up in the middle of the public, with a resulting massacre even more horrible than the first. You see?

REPORTER. Yes, this time you really have convinced me.

FOOL. I've even succeeded in convincing myself!

CAPTAIN. I'm convinced too. Good; it was an excellent idea. (He grasps the FOOL's hand and shakes it hard. The wooden hand comes off and he finds himself holding it limply.)

FOOL. There, you pulled it off. I told you it was wooden!

CAPTAIN. I'm sorry.

FOOL. Now all you have left to pull off is my leg! (He screws his hand back on.)

CHIEF. (to Bertozzo) Bertozzo, you say something too; try to show that we're not asleep in our division, either. (He gives him an encouraging slap on the shoulder.)

BERTOZZO. Sure. The real bomb was pretty complex. I saw it. Much more complex than this one. Obviously the work of very highly-trained technicians . . . professionals, as they say . . .

CHIEF. Careful !

REPORTER. Professionals? Military people, perhaps?

BERTOZZO. It's more than likely. (All three of the others kick him.)

CHIEF. Goddam jerk!

BERTOZZO. Ow! Why, what did I say?

REPORTER. (finishes taking notes) Ah, yes. Right. So even though you were aware of the fact that to construct, not to mention handle, bombs of this sort you have to have the training and experience of professionals - preferably military professionals - in spite of that, as I said, you threw yourselves madly on one single, forlorn anarchist group, completely neglecting all the other leads . . . and I don't have to point out the ideology and political convictions of those other leads!

FOOL. Of course, if you go by Bertozzo's version. But it can't be considered highly reliable, since he isn't a real explosives technician. He's just interested in it as a hobby!

BERTOZZO. (insulted) Hobby, nothing! What do you mean, I don't know about it? What the hell do you know about it? Who are you, anyway? (turning to the two other policemen) Would you kindly tell me who he is? (more kicks, forcing him to sit down)

CHIEF. Keep still.

CAPTAIN. Calm down.

REPORTER. Don't worry. Captain; I'm sure everything he said was true, just as it's true that the entire national police force and legal system rushed to indict - if I may use the expression - the screwiest, most pathetic cluster of kooks anyone can imagine: that anarchist group headed by the dancer!

CHIEF. You're right, they were kooks. But that's the facade they deliberately built up so that they wouldn't attract attention.

REPORTER. In actual fact, what do you discover behind the facade? You discover that out of the ten people belonging to that group, two were really yours: two confidants, or rather provocateurs and spies. One is a Roman fascist, well-known to everybody except our group of gullible innocents; the other is one of your own police agents also masquerading as an anarchist.

FOOL. Yes, as far as the officer disguised as an anarchist is concerned, I don't understand how they possibly could have believed him. I know the guy: he's such a dodo that if you ask him to describe Bakunin, he'll tell you it's a Swiss cheese without holes!

BERTOZZO. (aside) I could kill that guy. He seems to know everything and everybody . . . But I could swear I know him!

CHIEF. I completely disagree with you, Captain: that officer-informant of ours is an excellent agent! Very highly trained!

REPORTER. And have you got many more of these highly trained officer-informants sprinkled here and there among the various far-left groups?

FOOL. (sing-song) "The vulture's flying high . . . "

CHIEF. Madam, intelligence gathering is the backbone of every civilized nation.

FOOL. And even a few uncivilized ones.

CHIEF. Without proper intelligence a free nation throws itself on the mercy of every instigator, every radical movement.

FOOL. Every election.

CHIEF. I for one feel not the slightest embarrassment that we, the government, are using every tool we can think of . . .

FOOL. And a few we've only dreamed of.

REPORTER. Oh, now you re just bluffing, Chief.

CHIEF. Not at all. Even tonight, in the audience, I guarantee there are a few of our men, as always . . . do you want to see? (Claps his hands sharply: several VOICES respond from different place in the theater.)

VOICES. Yessir! Ready, Chief! At your orders!

FOOL. (Laughing and turning to the audience) Don't worry, those are just actors. The real agents are out there too, sitting tight and keeping their mouths shut.

CHIEF. You see? At ease at ease. Our strength lies in our confidants and informers.

CAPTAIN. They're needed to warn us about what's going to happen, check things out . . .

FOOL. Provoke terrorist attacks so that later they'll have a pretext for carrying out repressive actions . . . (The officers turn toward him with shocked suddenness.) I just wanted to get the jump on the remark the lady was obviously about to make.

REPORTER. Yes, quite obviously! At any rate, if they had every member of that little pilgrim band under total and continuous surveillance, how come the band was able to organize such a complicated attack, without your coming in to stop them?

FOOL. Watch out, the vulture's getting ready to dive!

CHIEF. The fact is that during that period our informer-agent was absent from the group.

FOOL. It's true, he even brought an excuse note signed by his parents!

CAPTAIN. Please! (under his breath) Your honor.

REPORTER. But what about the other confidant, the fascist? He was there, wasn't he? So much so, that the Roman judge holds him mainly responsible for organizing and fomenting the attack. In the judge's words, he took advantage of the anarchists' simple-mindedness to make them carry out a terrorist act, while they had no idea of its criminal nature. These are the words and opinions of the judge, you understand.

FOOL. Bang, the vulture has landed!

CHIEF. First of all, I can tell you that the fascist you're referring to is definitely not one of our confidants.

REPORTER. Then how come he was always hanging around central headquarters, especially the political division, in Rome?

CHIEF. If you say so . . . that's not my understanding.

FOOL. (extending his hand to the CHIEF) Good. an excellent parry! (The CHIEF shakes his wooden hand, which remains in his own.)

FOOL. (indifferently) Oh, it's all right, you can keep it. I have another one (takes out a second, this time a feminine, wooden hand)

CAPTAIN. But it's for a woman!

FOOL. No, it's unisex. (screws it on)

REPORTER. (Who in the meantime has taken several sheets of paper out of a small briefcase) Ah, that's not your understanding? Then I suppose it's also not your understanding that out of 173 dynamite attacks that have been carried out until today - twelve each month, one every three days - out of 173 attacks, as I said, 173 attacks, a good 102 of them (reading from document) were found to have been definitely organized by fascists. Once in a while you discover that there are several different secret services behind these attacks; they come from the East and from the West: France, America. Italy, Israel and even the Vatican. Investigating the bombs in the Rome airport, we found that the CIA knew about them far in advance of the event.

FOOL. (waving his wooden hand like a fan under his chin, in a gesture of disbelief) Incredible!

CHIEF. Yes, those figures should be considered more or less accurate indications . . . What do you think. Inspector?

CAPTAIN. I'd have to verify them, but in general I think they coincide with our own.

REPORTER. Uh-huh. And if you have time one of these days, why not also try verifying how many of these attacks were organized with the intention of casting suspicion and responsibility on far-left groups.

CAPTAIN. Well, almost all of them . . . that's obvious.

REPORTER. Yes, that's obvious. And how many times have you fallen for it - more or less naively?

FOOL. (still rotating the woman's hand around his face) Ooh, you're mean!

CHIEF. When it comes to that, quite a few labor leaders and several Communist Party officials have also fallen for it. more or less naively. Look, I have an article right here, from l'Unitá which accuses them of "foolishly ambitious and adventuristic leftism" - for an act of vandalism that it later turned out those subversives had absolutely nothing to do with.

REPORTER. I know it: it was a right-wing newspaper that started circulating those rumors, using the customary slogan, "clash of opposite extremes." It always works - for you, too!

FOOL. Viper!

BERTOZZO. But I could swear I know him! I've got to tear off his eye-patch!

FOOL. (sarcastically interceding) Well, what did you expect, ma'am? That we would respond to your obvious provocations by admitting that if we in the police force had bothered to seriously follow up other, more reliable leads, like paramilitary and fascist organizations financed by big industrialists, led and supported by military officers from Greece and surrounding territories, instead of going on a goose-chase after that handful of raggedy-ass anarchists, maybe we would have gotten to the bottom of the whole mess?

CHIEF. (to BERTOZZO, who is practically in a frenzy) Don't worry; I'm about to turn the tables on him all of a sudden. That's his own technique; I'm familiar with it by now! Jesuit dialectics!

FOOL. If that's what you think, I'll tell you you're right. If we had taken this other route, something really big would have hit the fan - Ha, ha!

BERTOZZO. Boy, that's some Jesuit dialectics, all right !

CHIEF. (to the FOOL) Have you gone crazy?

BERTOZZO. (struck by a sudden illumination) Crazy? (It clicks) The crazy nut - that's who he is!! It's him!

REPORTER. I must admit that, coming from a policeman, such statements are definitely . . . disconcerting !

BERTOZZO.(pulling at the CHIEF's sleeve) Chief. I've found out who that guy is; I know him.

CHIEF. Well, keep it to yourself; don't go blabbing it all over. (He leaves BERTOZZO in the lurch and goes over to join the FOOL and REPORTER.)

BERTOZZO. (drawing the CAPTAIN to one side) I swear to you, I know that guy. He's never been in the police; he's wearing a disguise.

CAPTAIN. I know it, you're not telling me anything new. But don't let the Reporter hear you.

BERTOZZO. But he's a maniac, don't you understand'!

CAPTAIN You're the maniac, since you won't let me hear a word they're saying! Keep quiet !

FOOL (Who has been conversing animatedly, in the meantime, with the other two, continues his speech) Of course, you're a journalist, and you would take to that sort of scandal like a duck to water. You'd only feel a little uneasy, on discovering that that massacre of the innocents in the bank had served the exclusive purpose of burying the conflicts that arose during the "hot autumn" . . . of creating the kind of tension apt to incite the citizens, who are disgusted and outraged at all this subversive criminality, to demand the installation of an authoritarian regime themselves! I don't remember if I read that in l'Unitá or The Struggle Continues.

BERTOZZO. (sneaks up behind the FOOL's back and tears off the band holding his eyepatch in place) There. you see! His eye isn't missing; he still has it!

CHIEF. For god's sake, have you lost your mind?! Of course he has it ! Why shouldn't he have it?

BERTOZZO. Why was he wearing the patch, then if his eye isn't missing?

CAPTAIN. But yours isn't missing, either, underneath that bandage - and nobody's trying to tear it off you!

REPORTER. Oh, how amusing - did you wear the patch just on a whim?

FOOL. No, so that nobody would catch my eye. (laughs)

REPORTER. Ha, ha! That's good. But go on, tell me a little about the scandal that would have erupted.

FOOL. Oh, yes, an enormous scandal . . . lots of arrests on the right, several trials . . . all kinds of big shots compromised: senators, members of parliament, colonels . . . the Social Democrats weep and wail, Corriere della sera changes its editor . . . the left demands that the fascist organizations be declared illegal - answer: we'll see . . . the head of the police department is praised for courageous operation, and then retired from the force.

CHIEF. No, Captain . . . those conclusions, you don't mind my saying so, are a little gratuitous.

REPORTER. In this case, I go along with you, Chief. I believe that kind of a scandal would bring greater prestige to the police. It would make the citizens feel they lived in a better state, with a system of justice that was a little less unjust.

FOOL. Naturally - and it would be more than sufficient! Do people demand a really just system? Well, we'll arrange it so that they'll be satisfied with one that's a little less unjust. The workers cry out, "let's put an end to this shameful, animal exploitation" - and we'll see to it mainly that they don't feel ashamed anymore, as long as they keep on being exploited. They would like not to get killed in the factory any longer, so we'll install a few more protective devices, raise the survivor's benefits a little more. They want to see class society eliminated - and we'll work things out so that class differences aren't so huge; or rather, they won't be so visible! They want a revolution, and we'll give them reforms - lots of reforms, we'll drown them in reforms. Or rather, we'll drown them with promises of reforms, because we'll never give them real ones, either!!

CAPTAIN. You know who he reminds me of? Marrone, that judge who's on trial for slandering the court.

CHIEF. No, no; this one is worse - he's completely crazy!

BERTOZZO. Of course he is; I've been trying to tell you that for an hour!

FOOL. You see, the average citizen doesn't stand to gain anything from the disappearance of dirty deals. Now he's satisfied to see them denounced, to see a scandal break out so that people can talk about it. For him, that's real freedom and the best of all possible worlds - hallelujah!

BERTOZZO. (grasping and shaking the FOOL's wooden leg) Look here, look at his leg - can't you see it's fake?

FOOL. Of course it is. It's made of walnut, to be exact.

CHIEF. We can all see that.

BERTOZZO. But it's all a trick: it's tied to his knee! (tries to unbuckle the straps)

CAPTAIN. Let him go, you stupid fool ! Are you trying to take him apart?

FOOL. Now leave him alone. Let him go ahead and unbuckle me. Thanks: my whole thigh was beginning to prickle.

REPORTER. Oh, for goodness sake, why are you always interrupting him? You think you'll manage to discredit him in my eyes simply because he doesn't have a wooden leg?

BERTOZZO. No, it's to show you he's a bragging windbag. a "hypocritomaniac," that he's never been either mutilated or a captain . . .

REPORTER. Who is he, then?

BERTOZZO. He's just - (The CHIEF, POLICE OFFICER and CAPTAIN all rush over to him, gag him and pull him away.)

CHIEF. Excuse me, ma'am, but he's wanted on the phone. (They push him down into a chair by the desk, and stick the telephone receiver against his mouth.)

CAPTAIN. (into his ear) You dumb jerk, do you want to ruin us?(On the right-hand side, the REPORTER and FOOL continue chatting without paying attention to the group of policemen.)

CHIEF. Don't you understand it's got to be kept secret? If the woman finds out about the counter-investigation, we're done for!

BERTOZZO. What counter-investigation'? (The receiver is again pushed up against his mouth.) Hello?

CAPTAIN. You're telling me you don't know? Well then how come you kept yammering about knowing everything, when you're completely ignorant? You blab on and on, mess up everything -

BERTOZZO. No, I do not mess up everything: I just want to know -

CHIEF. Quiet! (whacks him on the hand with the receiver) Keep phoning and shut up!

BERTOZZO. Oww! Hello, who's calling?

REPORTER. (who has been talking to the FOOL all this time) Oh, how amusing! You don't have to worry anymore, Chief; the Captain - that is, the ex-Captain. has told me everything!

CHIEF. What did he tell you?

REPORTER. Who he really is!

CAPTAIN AND CHIEF. He told you?

FOOL. Yes, I couldn't go on lying anymore. She had figured it out herself by this time.

CHIEF. But . . . at least you made her promise not to put it in the paper?

REPORTER. Oh, but of course I'm going to put it in! (reads from her notes) "At central police headquarters, I met a bishop dressed in laymen's clothing!"

CAPTAIN AND CHIEF. A bishop?

FOOL. Yes, forgive me for keeping it from you. (With the greatest naturalness he twists his collar around, revealing the classical churchmen's high collar with a black pectoral.)

BERTOZZO. (slapping himself on the forehead) A bishop, now! You don't believe him, by any chance?

(The INSPECTOR picks up a large rubber stamp and stuffs it in his mouth.)

CAPTAIN. We've really had it with you! (The FOOL has taken out a red skull-cap and placed it on the back of his head. With austere, deliberate movements, he then unbuttons his jacket, revealing a gold and silver baroque cross; and finally puts on his finger a ring with an enourmous violet stone.)

FOOL. Allow me to introduce myself. Father Antonio A. Antonio appointed by the Holy See as liaison observer with the Italian police. As you know, the Holy Father in Rome is a man of great understanding, and as the police department is having difficulty being understood these days, he sent me here to express his compassion and to encourage their continuing solidarity.

REPORTER. Police solidarity?

FOOL. (points to the officers) one look at them and you'll have to admit they could use a little. (He offers his ring to be kissed by the OFFICER, who rushes over and kisses it gluttonously.)

BERTOZZO. (after removing pacifier from his mouth) Oh, no! Oh, no! This is too much; now he's a bishop-cop. no less! (The INSPECTOR sticks the pacifier back in his mouth and drags him to one side.)

CAPTAIN. But we know it s all bunk too! He's turned himself into a bishop on purpose to save us . . . understand?!

BERTOZZO. To save us? Have you gotten a mystical attack ? A need to save your soul?

CAPTAIN. Shut up and kiss his ring! (He forces him to bow his head toward the FOOL's hand. In the meantime, nonchalantly and without imposing it, the FOOL has managed to cow everyone into performing the act of submission.)

BERTOZZO. No, goddam it! Not the ring! I refuse! You all must be going crazy! He's infected you! (The INSPECTOR and OFFICER have rapidly prepared some large bandages, which they place without further ado over BERTOZZO's mouth, so as to cover up half his face, from his nose down.)

REPORTER. Goodness. what's come over him, poor man?

FOOL. An attack, I believe. (He takes a syringe out of his breviary and gets ready to give him an injection.) Hold him still, this will certainly do him good. It's a benedictine tranquilizer. (With the swiftness of a rattlesnake he administers the injection, then takes out the syringe and observes it. To the CHIEF:) There's a little left; would you like to try some too? (Without waiting for an answer, he injects him with the agility of a picador. Suffocated lament from the CHIEF.)

REPORTER. You probably won't believe this your eminence, but a little while ago, when you were talking about scandals and exclaimed, " it's the best of all possible worlds - hallelujah!", I immediately commented - hope you'll pardon my irreverence -

FOOL. Oh, that's quite all right.

REPORTER. I said, "Wow, that sounds like a priest talking!" You're not offended, are you?

FOOL. Why should I be offended? It s true, I really did sound like a priest, which is what I am. (BERTOZZO has written with a marker, on the back of the president's portrait, "He's a maniac, a nut!" He shows the sign to the others behind the bishop's back.) On the other hand, when Saint Gregory the Great, who had just been elected pontiff, discovered that certain members of the papal court were attempting to cover up some grave scandals through the use of plots and maneuvers. he grew angry and cried out the famous phrase: "Nolimus aut velimus, omnibus gentibus, justitiam et veritatem . . . "

REPORTER. Please. your eminence; I flunked Latin three times!

FOOL. Of course; well, in short. he said: "Like it or not, I will impose truth and justice; I will do everything humanly possible to make sure that scandals are clamorously exposed; and do not forget that, in the stench of scandal. all authority is submerged. Let scandal be welcomed, for upon it is based the most enduring power of the state!"

REPORTER. How extraordinary! Would you mind writing out the entire quotation for me here? (The FOOL sets about writing down the statement, which he has obviously freely adapted from Saint Gregory, in the REPORTER's notebook. In the meantime, the INSPECTOR has grabbed the hand-written sign, with the president's portrait on the other side, away from his colleague and torn it up.)

CHIEF. (attacking him) What the hell have you done? Torn up the president's portrait? Don't you know that's against the law? What's gotten into you?

CAPTAIN. (pointing to BERTOZZO) But Chief, the things he's been writing . . . !

CHIEF. I may go along with you about a certain mania some people have for writing melodramatic messages to the public - But that's certainly no reason to go ahead and ruin his portrait! You should be ashamed of yourself! (Behind the bishop, the REPORTER has been rereading and thoughtfully considering the significance of St. Gregory's dictum.)

REPORTER. In other words, it appears that even when there is no scandal, it's necessary to invent it because it's a marvelous way of maintaining power by providing an escape valve for the offended conscience of the masses.

FOOL. Certainly, the catharsis which liberates all tension. And you independent journalists insure that this sacred process continues.

REPORTER. Then why does our government go to such lengths to hide its scandals every time we try to uncover them?

FOOL. Because we're still a developing nation, practically pre-capitalist. If you want to see what we have to look forward to, take a good look at a more developed country like America. They have a President who falls asleep at press conferences and keeps forgetting which questions he's answering. They ask him about one thing, he answers with something else. Then he contradicts himself, then they tell him what he said before. He says, 'No I must have been mistaken.' But the public has complete faith in him. 'You thought I called you a son of a bitch, but I actually said it's sunny and you're rich.' And then do the people lose confidence in a leader like that? No, they trust him even more. They say, 'Yes, of course it is sunny and I am rich.' And so the stock market keeps going up. It's stronger than it was before. The important thing is to convince people that everything is going fine. America is up to its ears in scandal: The President's advisors are being indicted, but he stands behind them until they're convicted. Right-wing dictators re-invest US aid in New York real estate, and we welcome our money back. The police bomb people out of their houses in Philadelphia, and the mayor convinces them it's a new kind of urban development. A nuclear reactor nearly melts down in Harrisburg, but we congratulate ourselves that Chernobyl was worse.

REPORTER. Meaning that scandals are the breeding ground of reaction?

FOOL. No, scandals are the fertilizer of Western democracy. Let me say more. Scandal is the antidote to an even worse poison: namely, people's gaining political consciousness. If people become too conscious we are screwed. For example, has the American government, a real democracy, ever imposed any censorship to keep people from finding out about the murder of all the leaders of the black movement, or the massacre of thousands of helpless Vietnamese? Not at all. They don't even hide the fact that they've manufactured enough nerve gas and bombs to destroy the population of the world ten times over. They don't censor these scandals. And rightly so. Because in this way people have the possibility of becoming indignant. Horrified. 'What kind of government is this? Disgusting generals. Assassins.' And they become indignant. And out of the indignation comes a burp. A liberating burp. It's like Alka-Seltzer. But nothing changes.

(BERTOZZO, who has been crouching in the background all this time, as if to spring, suddenly whips out a gun, points it at the police officers, tears off his gag, and shouts with cold determination):

BERTOZZO. Hands up! Backs to the wall or I'll shoot!

CAPTAIN. What the - Bertozzo, have you gone crazy? !

BERTOZZO. Hands up, I said. You too, Chief. I tell you I won't hesitate!

REPORTER. Oh my god!

CHIEF. Calm down, Bertozzo!

BERTOZZO. You calm down, Chief, and don't worry. (He removes a bunch of handcuffs from the desk, gives them to the OFFICER and orders him to handcuff everyone.) Go on, hang them to the coat rack, one by one. (On the back wall there is in fact a raised horizontal rack, to which all the people present are attached one after another: one handcuff on one wrist, the other hung on the coatrack) And don't look at me like that; pretty soon you'll understand that this was the only way I had left to get you to listen to me. (to the OFFICER, who is uncertain whether or not to handcuff the REPORTER as well) Yes, the lady too . . . and you yourself. (Turning to the FOOL) And you, my sonofabitch friend from the funny farm, can now do me the favor of telling these gentlemen who you really are. Otherwise, since I've had it up to here with you, I'll blast you right between the eyebrows - get it? (The policemen and REPORTER show signs of resentment against such irreverence but BERTOZZO cuts them short) You be quiet!

FOOL. I'll be glad to, but I'm afraid that perhaps if I tell them like this, out loud, they won't believe me.

BERTOZZO. What's the matter, you want to send them a singing telegram, maybe?

FOOL. No, but it would be sufficient to show them my documents . . . psychiatric clinical record, etc.

BERTOZZO. O.K. Where are they?

FOOL. Over there, in that briefcase.

BERTOZZO. Move, go get them, and no tricks or I'll kill you! (The FOOL takes out a half dozen booklets and folders.)

FOOL. Here they are. (hands them to BERTOZZO)

BERTOZZO. (taking them and distributing them among the handcuffed captives who have their left hands free) Here you are, folks . . . seeing is believing!

CHIEF. Nooo! An ex-drawing teacher!? On medical disability? Afflicted with visionary paranoia? ! But . . . this man is crazy!

BERTOZZO. (sighing) I've been telling you that for an hour!

CAPTAIN. (reading from another file) Psychiatric hospitals of Imola, Voghera, Varesew Gorizia, Parma - he's been through all of them!

FOOL. Sure, the madmen's grand tour of Italy.

REPORTER. Fifteen electric shock treatments . . . twenty days in the isolation ward . . . three attacks of vandalism . . .

POLICE OFFICER. (reading from a document) Pyromaniac! Ten cases of arson!

REPORTER. Let me see. Set fire to the library of Alexandria. Alexandria, Egypt ! Back in the second century. A.D. !

BERTOZZO. That's impossible; give it here! (observed the document) But he added that himself, in his own handwriting . . . you see! From Egypt up to now . . . !

CHIEF. He's a counterfeiter, too . . . as well as a con man, faker, quick-change artist . . . (to the FOOL who is sitting there with his large briefcase on his knees, staring absentmindedly in another direction) Well, I'm going to put you behind bars, for illegal use and false appropriation of civil and ecclesiastical authority!

FOOL. (mischievously shaking his head from side to side) Uh-uh.

BERTOZZO. No way, he's an official nut. I already know the whole story!

REPORTER. It's a shame; I was ready to write such a good article . . . and he's ruined the whole thing!

INSPECTOR. I'll ruin him! Bertozzo, will you please take this handcuff off me?!

BERTOZZO. Great idea, that way you'll really be done for. You ought to know that in this country crazy people are like sacred cows in India - lay a finger on them and they lynch you!

CHIEF. That lousy bum, criminal, idiot . . . passing himself off as a judge . . . the counter-investigation . . . when I think I almost passed out because of him!

FOOL. No, you weren't hit that hard - especially compared to what you're going to feel now! Look here! (takes out of his briefcase the metal box which BERTOZZO had left sitting on the table) Count to ten, and we'll all fly up in the air!

BERTOZZO. What the hell do you think you're doing . . . don't be a moron!

FOOL. I'm a nut, not a moron. Watch what you say, Bertozzo, and throw away the gun - otherwise I'll put my finger right here in the "tramptur" and we'll do it quickly.

REPORTER. Oh, god! Madman, please . . . !

CHIEF. Don't fall for it, Bertozzo. The bomb is defused; how can it blow up?

CAPTAIN. Right, don't fall for it!

FOOL. Well, then, Bertozzo, since you know so much about it - even if your grammar is lousy - take a look and see if it's there or not . . . the detonator . . . look, right here - don't you see it? It's an acoustic Longber.

BERTOZZO. (almost fainting, drops the gun and keys to the handcuffs) An acoustic Longber? But where did you find it? (The FOOL picks up the keys and gun.)

FOOL. I had it with me. (pointing to the large briefcase) I have everything in there! Even a tape recorder, that I used to record everything you've said since I walked in here. (takes out a tape recorder and exhibits it) Here it is!

CHIEF. And what do you intend to do with it?

FOOL. Make a couple hundred copies and send them all over: political party headquarters, newspapers, cabinet ministers' offices - ha, ha! This will really go over big!

CHIEF. Now you couldn't do a thing like that. You know perfectly well that those statements we made were all falsified and distorted under your provocations. while you were pretending to be a judge!

FOOL. So, who gives a damn? The important thing is that the scandal breaks out - nolimus aut velimus! So the Italian people, like the English and Americans, will become democratic and modern; and so they can finally exclaim, "it's true, we're up to our necks in shit, and that's exactly why we walk with our heads held high!"

THE END

Note: this is where one version of the play published in Italian ended. A second, alternative ending follows.
ALTERNATE ENDING:

FOOL. ". . . with our heads held high!" He who is aware of what's floating by just under his chin constantly increases in dignity! (So saying. he handcuffs BERTOZZO also, and attaches him to the coatrack.)

CAPTAIN, All right, do what you want, but please, defuse that bomb right now.

FOOL. No, I'm going to leave it here. It will keep you sitting tight until I'm completely out of your grasp. Before I go out, I'll push down this lever, and tiptoe away. In the meantime, you'd better stay put in here, and hold your breath - because if you so much as move to sound the alarm, this place will blow sky-high, and there won't be a scrap of any of you left - not even a button!

(At that moment the lights go out.)

REPORTER. What happened? Who turned out the light?

FOOL. Who did it? Stop kidding around . . . No . . . help!!!

(We hear a cry, which continues offstage, followed by an explosion, also offstage, as if coming from the courtyard.)

CHIEF. Jesus Christ, the nut must have thrown the bomb out the window! Will somebody turn on that light?!

CAPTAIN. It must have been a power failure. Bertozzo, you're over there near the switch; try a minute -

(The light goes on again at that instant, and we see BERTOZZO with his hand on the switch.)

CHIEF. Oh! Finally!

BERTOZZO. Whew! Wonder how that happened?

REPORTER. The madman? He's gone?

CAPTAIN. He must have gone out . . .

OFFICER. (turning the doorknob) The door is locked!

CAPTAIN.... the window!

REPORTER. Oh, look, my wrist is so thin the handcuff slipped off by itself!

CHIEF. That's great for you; wish we were that lucky. Unfortunately, we can't get out, and keys stayed in the madman's pocket! But quick, run over to the window . . .

REPORTER. (going and looking out) There's a bunch of people gathered around the poor man. It's terrible; how could it have happened? (turning to the CHIEF) Do you have some statement you'd like to make, Chief? (she immediately goes back to being a journalist, holding the microphone up in front of him.)

CHIEF. Well, I had just left the room -

REPORTER. What are you talking about? How could you have gone out if you were handcuffed right here to the rack?

CHIEF. Ah, yes. you're right. I'm so mixed up . . . I was getting confused with the other time.

CAPTAIN. Anyway, you're a witness to that poor guy's fall: we don't bear the slightest guilt or responsibility!

REPORTER. Certainly, tied up. as you were . . . And now I'll also have to reconsider all my notions regarding that other fall.

CAPTAIN AND CHIEF. For heaven's sake, anybody can make a mistake! (The CHIEF continues.) I think that in this case the impulsive act can he imputed to "raptus brought about by darkness." That is, the sudden darkness frightened the madman; the only source of light, although very weak, was the window, and he threw himself toward it like a crazed moth, precipitating to the ground.

REPORTER. Of course, it couldn't have happened any other way. I'd better run over to the paper to file the story.

CHIEF. Yes, go ahead, it's quite all right.(All shake left hands with the REPORTER) Good bye.

CAPTAIN. Nice meeting you . . . and if we can help you some other time, always at your service.

BERTOZZO. Good bye, ma'am. (So saying, he absentmindedly takes his hand out of the handcuff and offers it to the REPORTER, kisses her hand, and then places his own back in the cuff. The REPORTER notices this and stands there for a moment, perplexed. The INSPECTOR gives him a slap. The REPORTER collects herself.)

REPORTER. Thanks again, and good bye, all! (She goes out, turning the key which has remained in the lock.)

BERTOZZO. Why did you slap me? You think just because she isn't married, I shouldn't have kissed her hand? Boy, you're so nit-picking!

(The door opens wide, once more revealing the actor who played the role of the FOOL. He now has a very black, bristly beard, a large paunch, and an austere manner. He is carrying a briefcase.)

BEARDED MAN. Am I interrupting? I m looking for the Captain's office . . . the first political division

CHORUS. You again!

CHIEF. But weren't you smashed on the ground . . . ?

OFFICER. What is this guy, a cat?

BERTOZZO. He's put on a false beard and even a false stomach - he's padded himself!

CAPTAIN. This time, I'm going to tear it off your face and stuff it down your throat! (They attack him, dragging the entire coatrack with them.)

BEARDED MAN. (shouting) For god's sake!!! Just what do you think you're doing?!! (He literally slams them against the right-hand wall.)

CAPTAIN. But it isn't artificial!!! Not unless he transplanted every hair, one at a time!

BERTOZZO. Yeah, his stomach is real. too!

CHIEF. Please excuse us; we had you confused with someone else - you look so much like him!

BEARDED MAN. I declare! Are you in the habit of tearing out handfuls of whiskers and giving pokes in the middle to every judge who comes here for an investigation?

CAPTAIN. Judge, for an investigation?

CHIEF. You're a judge?

BEARDED MAN. Yes, may I ask what is so upsetting about that? I am a judge from the superior council. my name is Antonio Garassiniti, and I'm here to re-open an inquiry into the death of the anarchist. Do you mind if we get started at once? (He sits down and takes a number of folders out of his briefcase. All four policemen collapse onto the floor, in sitting positions, naturally knocking over the coatrack to which they are still handcuffed.)

CHORUS. Yes, yes - let's get started at once!

THE END

Beginning notes
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