America™: The Cruise

By Paul Stroili


Author’s Note: This is a table draft of a very, very short play.  It’s meant to be read, not performed.  Not that we wouldn’t like to produce it, it’s just with the cuts to arts funding there’s no money left to do so.

 

(The sky is the color of David Hasselhoff, and cruise ship passengers relax to the strains of Jimmy Buffet doing an acoustic cover of  “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang.”  A loudspeaker sparks to life and brays across Hannity Deck.)

Ann
Good afternoon! And welcome to happy hour on the 2,912th consecutive day aboard “America: The Cruise – where at least you know you’re free for now.” This is Miss Coulter, head of Social Scheduling. Should you need me, or any of my team members, we’re easy to find, just look for our monogrammed armbands.

(A seagull lands on the deck railing, instantly defecating as Coulter’s voice cuts through the damp sea air with the ease of a steak knife cutting through a well-aged Ruth Chris. If Ruth Chris were actually an elderly woman.)

Ann
…so feel free to enjoy a spinning class in the Limbaugh Cigar Lounge, Presidential waffle sculpting in our Kid Rock Café and, thanks to our latest port of call, a Build-Your-Own-Prescription-Medication bar.

(A cheer is heard throughout the ship.)

Tonight’s entertainment is a dance troupe that combines Irish Folk Dancing with Krumping, in a high energy romp called; “That Jigger’s Crazy!” Now, as you know, there was a great deal of controversy regarding the title of the show. Those of us of Irish descent, who treasure our national dance, find the term “crazy” offensive.  The title is now, simply – “That Jigger is the “C” word.”

(We hear a tinkle of ice, and the lights come up on Nugent Deck, where two men sip tropical delights in La-Z-Boy Recliners made entirely of wicker. Their sunbaked bellies are reminiscent of the Red Rocks of Sedona, if the Red Rocks were hairy and perspired. They wear Speedos that are not immediately apparent.)

Ann
And finally, in our main dining concourse, an all-you-can-eat-non-sustainable-seafood buffet. And don’t miss our famous bottomless Cuba Libre’ made by real Cubans!

(As the speaker crackles off, we are left with the same after effects as the sumptuous meal Ann just described – elevated cholesterol and the feeling of blood on your chin. CRAIG, a retired corporate taxidermist and JACK, a retired retiree, gaze at the horizon.  Craig adjusts a toupee the shape of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The mood, like the sheen on their midriffs, is reflective.)

Craig
Quite the sunset, eh, Jack?

Jack
You said it, Craig.  Isn’t this the life?  America: The Cruise.  A glorious ship the size of Cape Cod that celebrates hard work, honest values and our rich national heritage… everything distinctly American.

Craig
Another Margarita?

Jack
It’s a Mojito, and I’m good. Geez, I wish I brought my fishing gear. Those Marlins frolicking in the surf are just begging to be hanging in my man cave.

Craig
Marlins?

Jack
Yup. Take a look at that one, flopping around like an underprivileged star tailback who just got tazed after a fully justifiable traffic stop.

Craig
That’s no marlin.  That looks like a Hispanish lady.

Jack
I’m not sure that’s the politically correct term, Craig.

Craig
I’m sorry.  Hispanish Woman. Hey, get on up here, Juanita!  Lunch break’s over!

(Craig tosses a life preserver overboard, its rope snagging the paper umbrella of Jack’s Mojito, knocking it to the deck.)

Craig
Sorry about that, Jack!

Jack
No problem, Craig.  Someone’s got to make sacrifices for these people.

(Craig and Jack pull a young woman aboard, who drops into a deck chair, exhausted.)

Young Woman
Gracias.

Jack
Did you fall off the ship during the breakfast buffet? I thought it felt understaffed.

Craig
Jack, don’t bother.  She doesn’t speak English.

Young Woman
I do. It’s just that I’ve been treading water for eight days. I’m a bit distracted.

Jack
Where are you from?

Young Woman
Guatemala.

Craig
But we’re in the Mediterranean.

Young Woman
I’m a strong swimmer. Could I get some water?

Craig
Sure.  Waiter should be by in a bit.  Flat or sparkling?

Jack
You might want to consider sunblock. So, why the afternoon dip?

Young Woman
My people are struggling with femicide.

Jack
What’s that? Oh… do you need one of those ointments?

Young Woman
Many women are being killed in my country. The killing of men is very public and many know about it, but the deaths of women are not as well documented. Street gangs, domestic abuse… it is a hidden problem. Also, my oldest son was killed… so I’m coming here to… to… proteger a mi familia…

Jack
Whoa!  Hold up there, Señorita!  If you come here illegally to escape violence or seek a better life – we insist that you speak the foreign language that we stole when our forefathers came here illegally to escape violence and seek a better life.  Capeesh?

Young Woman
Si.

Jack
That’s more like it.

Young Woman
But I do not come here illegally.  And neither does my son, Ramón…

Craig
Your son?

(Olivia opens her backpack.  Her son looks out.)

Ramón
Hola?

Jack
Hey there, little guy!  How’d you like a Coke with real high fructose corn syrup?

Ramón
Que te folle un pez.

Craig
I think he wants some candy.

Jack
Listen, Juanita.  Let’s get something straight.  First off, no one forced you. You CHOSE to live in Guatemala… and if you’re going to climb aboard America™: The Cruise, you’ve got to do it legally.  Now, if you just need a couple of bucks, looks to me like you’re a shoe-in to win the wet T-shirt contest…

Olivia
My name is Olivia. And I am not breaking the law. I am seeking asylum.

Craig
(sotto voce) Oh… utjob-Nay.

Olivia
I’m a refugee. Because I cannot get protection in my country, or I am in fear for my life, your immigration laws say I can come here.

Jack
Who says?

Olivia
Your president.

Craig
When?

Olivia
In 1953.

Jack
Well that was…

Olivia
…and 1967.

Craig
Well…

Olivia
…and 1980.

Jack
Well that figures, it was Carter. Did you know he was a peanut farmer, Ramón?

Ramón
Tu puta madre en bicicleta, pendejo.

Craig
Make up your mind, do you want candy or a bicycle?

(Francesco, a waiter, approaches pushing a cart of drinks. Craig stands, his Speedo vanishing.)

Craig
Hey Juan, maybe you could settle a little argument here.  How long you been working on America™: The Cruise?

Francesco
Since October 2018.  Right before the apocalypse.

Jack
Gotcha, so that’s 8 years now.  You pay taxes?

Francesco
Of course.  Pay into Social Security and Medicare, too.

Craig
You see, Olivia, there’s a process. You come here, you become a citizen and you contribute.

Francesco
Oh, I’m not a citizen.  I’m undocumented.  (To Ramón) Quieres una Coca Cola, amigo?

Ramón
Si, gracias.

Craig
But you just said, you pay taxes, Medicare… how do you do that without a social security number?

Francesco
I have one.

(Craig spills his Margarita on Ramón.)

Ramón
Ay cabrón…

Francesco
Many employers don’t bother to confirm if the number is accurate.  Especially if it means more cheap labor. There’s about 40 of us here with the same number.  It’s a Rio Grande of revenue for your government. They love it. Could be hundreds paying in but only one check will be cut for benefits.

Jack
You sure know a lot about this stuff, Francisco.

Francesco
I read.

Craig
English?

Francesco
Si. University of Phoenix. Sociology, Economics minor. We paid about 23 billion in taxes last year. We’re paying for benefits we can’t even use.  And our contribution has actually kept you afloat in the past.

(Jack leaps to his feet.  His Speedo vanishes faster than Craig’s.)

Jack
So what you’re saying is…

Francesco
Yup.  Your Social Security system stays in the black thanks to “illegals.”

(At the sound of the word “illegals”, a large, scrawny turkey vulture appears on deck.)

Craig
We’re in the middle of the Mediterranean, how the hell did a turkey vulture get out here!

Jack
And why the SS armband?

Craig
Oh, my bad.  That’s Ann Coulter.

Ann
Right you are, citizen!  And as for our two criminales here, get your poor, huddled asses off this boat! It’s just like President Kardashian predicted. You people are going to take over this whole country!

Francesco
What country?  North America is just a boat now, remember?  You blew it up. The whole Charlton-Heston-Statue-of-Liberty thing?

(Ramón climbs out of the backpack)

Ramón
Que es… Liberty?

(Francisco hands him a tall bottle of Coca Cola, the good kind with actual sugar.)

Francesco
It’s the real thing, mijo.


Paul Stroili is an actor, writer and director.  His work has appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, The Chicago Tribune and The New York Blade among others.  He lives in Chicago.