SCENE: A New York State Prison, early morning. Three cells, numbered from I to 3, run across the stage from left to right.
INDIO is in first cell, writing a letter. BLACK, in the second cell, is still asleep. WHITEY, in third cell, is just getting up.

Whitey: (plugging in a hot—pot then banging on the wall to BLACK’S cell) Yo, Black! You up yet? (bangs wall again) Yo!

Black: Lay-off the wall!

Whitey: You up yet?

Black: No.

Whitey: How about a shot of coffee, Black? I’m fresh out.

Black: Later. After I get up.

Whitey: But I’ve got the water on now.

Black: (mimicking Whitey) But I’ve got the water on now… tough shit.

Whitey: Hey man, don’t do that to me. You know I have a coffee jones. (Bangs on wall) C’mon Black! Rise and shine!

Black: (angrily throwing covers off) You’re a pain in the ass, ASShole! (Opens his locker and takes out a bag of coffee then goes to front of cell and passes bag around to Whitey) Here, man, take the coffee before I change my mind.

Whitey: (sarcastically) You SURE you wanna give me the coffee? Can SPARE it?

Black: Don’t press your luck. Just take the fuckin’ coffee.

Whitey: (reaching out for coffee) Thanks. Sorry about waking you.

Black: S’all right. Can I get back in bed now?

Whitey: Go right ahead, son.

Black: I ain’t your son.

Whitey: You just oughta be.

Black: I just oughta be your daddy, that’s what I oughta be.

Whitey: (in a false female voice) Oh Daddy! Oh sweet daddy meatloaf!

Black: You got it… later. (Black gets back in bed. After a short pause, Whitey bangs on wall again)

Whitey: Hey, daddy, you in bed yet?

Black: (jumping out of bed) You’re a dead man, Whitey! Keep on banging on the wall, heart Just keep-on-banging-the-motherfuckin’-wall!

Whitey: What are you, having a baby in there? All’s I want is some sugar. I ran out.

Black: Stick your FINGER in the coffee! You’re sweet enough.

Whitey: Jeezsus, man, you’d think I was asking for parole.

Indio: (interjecting) Homey-homey dontcha know me give me give me till tomorrow (laughs)

Black: (to Indio) That was a good one, Indio.

Whitey: (to Indio) Yeah IN-D-O, that was a good one. (to Black) Are you gonna give me the sugar or not?

Black: No ten-go

Whitey: (to himself) No ten-go. Willya listen to that shit?

Black: S’on the up and up. I don’t have none. Word.

Whitey: O.K…so sell me some.

Black: Bet. I’ll give you two packets for three cigarettes.

Whitey: You gotta be mad! You can get ’em FREE in the messhall!

Black: Then get ’em from there. Otherwise, don’t struggle-get ‘em on the juggle (laughs)

Whitey: You’re a piece of shit, man. How’re you gonna juggle ME, your next door neighbor! How’re you gonna do that? If it was YOU that needed the sugar, I would have given it to you with no problem.

Black: But it ain’t YOU. Business is business and I’m a business man.

Whitey: (to himself) Fuckin’ yams are all alike.

Black: I heard what you said, faggot!

Whitey: So if you heard it, you know to stick the sugar up your ass.

Black: (angry. rattling the bars like an animal) That’s it! I’m gonna kill you, you hunky punk! I’m gonna kill you!

Whitey: I’m scared to death.

Black: You better be. I don’t like people calling me out of my name.

Whitey: And I don’t like young punks thinking they can play me for a chump.

Black: You ARE a chump, chump!

Whitey: I’ll show you who’s a chump, wiseass.

Black: You are, peckerwood.

Whitey: Fuckin’ nigga.

Black: Your momma loves it.

Whitey: Whoa. Back off on momma, junior. Back-the—fuck-off.

Indio: (shouting) YO! Cut the bull! I’m trying to write a letter down here.

Black: So what.

Indio: Can I get a little respect?

Whitey: Hey In-d-o, you got any sugar?

Black: Tell’em no, bro. He’s on the burn.

Whitey: I’m going to remember this on the lock-out, Black. So don’t overplay your hand, o.k.?

Black: I WANT you to remember. Arid then I want you to remember the serious ass-whipping I’m gonna give you for calling me a nigga.

Whitey: But it’s alright for you to call me a peckerwood, right?

Black: Right.

Whitey: Don’t let the color fool you, faggot. I’ve been doing this a long time.

Black: Bet. We’ll settle it on the lock-out.

Whitey: On the lock-out.

Indio: You guys are bugged. (Throws two packets of sugar to Whitey) Can you reach those?

Whitey: (uses his broom to push the packets closer) Yeah. Yeah. I got ‘em. Only problem now is that the coffee is cold.

Black: (Singing) “If it ain’t one thang, it’s Anot-her”

Whitey: Tell me about it. That’s the story of my life.

Black: Uh uh. This HERE is the story of your life (sings) “going ‘round and ‘round and roundddddd”.

Whitey: That’s right too. But after this one, ole mighty whitey is hanging up the gloves. Retired. Kapoot. Nevermore.

Indio: Bulishit.

Whitey: I’m serious, man. I know when to quit.

Indio: Can you quit now – so I can finish my letter?

Whitey: That’s a ten-four amigo. Go on and finish the letter.

Black: See if they have a friend for me. Tell’em I’m Black, sweet, and got stupid gold. TeIl’em I don’t care what she looks like s’long as she’s a WOman, dig?

Whitey: Not for nothing, but the worse mistake I EVER made was to fall in love in jai1.

Black: Bitch didn’t wait, huh?

Whitey: It’s not that. It’s that you SUFFER while they’re waiting and it ain’t healthy. It’s a lot of pressure. You gotta all the time be on point in here and worrying about a woman don’t help a’tall.

Black: But suppose she’s waiting for you?

Whitey: That’s when it’s worst of all. You know what happens then?

Black: What?

Whitey: When you get out, it won’t be the same between you. It’ll be psychological cause everytime you look at her, you’ll say to yourself: ‘I wonder if she gave up that bush while I was away’. Of course, she’s gonna deny it, but you’ll never know for sure.

Indio: I can dig that.

Whitey: I can too. But I ain’t going for it. I’d rather a woman left me before playing with my head.

Black: Not me. I wouldn’t care WHAT she did s’long as she did the right thing by me.

Whitey: Everybody ain’t like that.

Black: Which makes it better for us that are.

Indio: That’s cold-blooded, Black.

Whitey: I knew this dude once, I think it was in Comstock, who went out on parole after doing a straight-up pound and d’ya know what he did? The fuckin’ retard, cause that’s what he was, a retard, he goes out and snuffs his ole lady cause he HEARD, check this shit out, cause he heard she was banging his partner. So now the lame is back in doing a life bid and his partner, who was responsible in the first place, is still out there jamming somebody else’s woman.

Indio: He should’ve iced the dude for disrespecting him.

Whitey: That’s what I say.

Black: I would’ve iced the female. No question about it. A man ain’t responsible for another chump’s woman. It’s cop and blow all over the world.

Whitey: Just goes to show that you’re a fool.

Black: Your momma is a fool!

Whitey: Your fat, big-lipped sister!

Black: THAT’S IT! I’m getting a homicide right here in jail!

Whitey: No problem. Just make sure to bring your husband with you.

Black: (to Indio) Indio! You’re a witness! I’m killing this fool on G.P. and I want the WORLD to know I did it!

Whitey: Punk, you wouldn’t kill a dead tree.

Black: You’re a witness, Indio.

Indio: Not me, man. I’ve seen that shit happen for real and I don’t want no part of it. Not even fooling around.

Whitey: You remember Mc Daddy, Indio?

Indio: That’s who I’m talking about.

Black: Who’s Mc Daddy?

Indio: He used to be a butch-kid outta Harlem. Got killed in the yard for two packs of cigarettes.

Whitey: I’ve seen ‘em get killed for less. I remember when Carmine, you remember Carmine, right? I remember when he got cut up over a handball game. And then there was that kid, what’s-his-name, ah, Benny, I think it was, yeah, Benny, who iced that other kid, Pablo, over a tuna fish sandwich. You remember that? Fuckin’ losing your life over a sandwich. It don’t make no sense.

Indio: Yeah, well… I got a letter to finish. For moms.

Black: You writing moms?

Indio: It’s a short one. Nothing heavy.

Black: Hey Whitey, your moms still around?

Whitey: No. She passed about five years ago.

Indio: Sorry to hear that, Whitey.

Whitey: You get used to it after a while.

Black: My moms still thinks she’s a teenager. She looks it too. She still get high and still parties with the best of them. I got to hand it to her, she taught me a lot when I
was growing up.

Whitey: Yeah – and look at you now.

Black: This is a minor thing. A small thing in a big man’s world.

Whitey: (sarcastically) BIG man.

Black: Bigger than you. You were RAISED in this place. You don’t know shit about surviving in the street; only in here. People your age oughta be retiring from JOBS, my man. They’re supposed to know better after the first time around. But not you. You ain’t learned shit.

Whitey: What’s to learn in here, Black? Huh? You tell me – what can you learn in prison other than patience or walking with your hands outside your pockets or no talking during the count. You know what’s to learn, Black? Hate. And paranoia. And acting. Ain’t a man in here who couldn’t give an academy award winning performance… You know, I knew this dude, an old con, been around since the stagecoach days, he used to say that prisons were built for ambitious people who are losers. And as quiet as it’s kept, I believe him.

Black: That’s cause you’re a loser. But I ain’t.

Whitey: You hear this guy, InDo?

Indio: He isn’t here. These bars and shit are a dream.

Whitey: Not for nothin’, Black, but you don’t even get any mail.

Black: Yo, I KNOW why I don’t get mail. I messed-up with my people. That’s all there is to it.

Indio: And you’re going to keep on messing up.

Black: No way. I know how to get around these people now.

Whitey: Sure you do… (To Indio) Go ‘head and finish the letter, In-D-o. (Holds up a HUSTLER magazine) 1 got a date with “Andrea”, Beaver spread of the month! (Opens magazine to centerfold) Goddamn! A redhead! Now THIS is how you get around all this shit. In a fantasy.

There is a pause in the action. Black and Whitey settle down on their beds: Black to daydream and Whitey to read his magazine. All is quiet. Then:

Indio: (reading his letter in a stage whisper) Dear Mom: Hope everybody is well at home. How’s my son, lil Indio? I hope he is listening to you. Maybe in a few years, when he’s bigger and old enough to understand, maybe you can bring him up here to see me. You know, it’s hard having a son you’ve never seen except in a picture. Sometimes I wonder what he feels like. Or if he has a loud cry. I wonder if I could pick him out of a bunch of other little kids. Maybe someday I’ll be able to make it up to him. To you too, mom, for taking care of the both of us…

Off-stage right, a trumpet blares REVEILLE. All three men get up from their beds and stand in front of their cell doors. It is “Count Time”.


(Another Voice is heard off-stage: Female Guard)

Guard: (from off-stage right) O.K. gentlemen – Female on the Gallery!

(At the sound of her voice, all three men grasp the cell bars and look to the right. Female Guard comes on, checking doors.)
Black: (to Guard) Uh, excuse me Miss C.O., d’ya have a minute?

Guard: (stopping in front of Black’s cell) I’m taking a count.

Black: I know. But uh… I got a problem.

Guard: Sure you do. Hold it till after the count.

Black: Sure. Yeah. But uh, could you tell me your name just in case.

Guard: In case of what?

Black: Well uh, you know, so I’ll know.

Guard: C.O. will do.

Black: C.O. what?

Guard: C.O. Lindsey.

Black: Lindsey. That’s a nice name. Mine’s Black. You uh, you married, Miss Lindsey?

Guard: That’s none of your business, Convict.

Black: Yeah, I know that. But it’s such a small thing. I ain’t married but if you asked me I won’t say it ain’t none of YOUR business. I’d be a gentleman about it.

Guard: But I didn’t ask you.

Black: Well, that was in case you were interested, you know?

Guard: (walking on) Fuck you, asshole.

Black: Bye now! See you next count.

Whitey: That’s what I call cruel and unusual punishment.

Black: Yo – did you hear me! I could’ve pulled her, man, I know I could’ve!

Whitey: A woman like that could do anything to me: beat me, tie me up, kill me, anything she wanted.

Black: You’re a sick piece of work, Whitey.

Whitey: That’s only cause I’m in here. Out in the Street I wouldn’t give that woman the time of day.

Indio: You’d be running too fast.

Black: Running scared. Running scared. (Starts a “drum beat” with his mouth)

Indio: (in time to the beat)
running scared, i’m running scared
away from life, why try
running scared, i’m running scared
straight into prison to die
running scared, i’m running scared
with a straight from the ghetto ‘tude
trying to hide my tears
and still my fears
not knowing what to do

Black: Running Scared!

Whitey: Running Scared!

Indio: (like a carnival hawker)
here ya go folks
step right up
hur-ry hur-ry
and hear the latest gossip
the newest
most Innovative lies
known to mankind
to hear US tell it
out on the street
we had cadillacs
‘n coup de villes
a rolls royce
or mercedes benz

Black: to hear US tell it
we had
lear jets
a mansion
5000 silk suits
custom made shoes
big bucks like the feds
a bitch on every corner
and entire neighborhoods
dependent on us
for death
and good times

Whitey: to hear US tell it
dope was dope then
1 dollar bags
4 dollar bags
2 for 7
3 for 10
and loose joints
for a dollar



Whitey: puff puff
shoot shoot
snort snort
all day long
cause we had it like that

lndio: (pointing to imaginary person)
Oh Shit!
Here comes Miss Thing!
Hey Baby
How’s that butt huh?
You know me
Always the hustler
Two for one until commissary day

Black: And life keeps on getting lower
around here…


Black: You hear that, Whitey? Your flashing days are over.

Whitey: What – are you nuts? This is a liberated joint. Why else would females ask to work here?

Indio: Liberated or not, no woman of mine would ever work in a man’s prison.

Black: MA-CHO MAN!

Whitey: Not to worry. The warden will protect her (mimicks Voice) TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW!

Indio: and so I told the warden the other day
I said
yo, my man
you ain’t got nooo consideration
for your guests
I mean
I know I’m in jail
but damn man
you’re playing me
too close

Black: I mean
you got bugs in your food
bugs in uniforms
mess with my mail
tamper with my packages
harass my visitors
eyeball my asshole
fuck with my head
and yo, ain’t I human too?
Indio: I mean
I have a child
and respond to the night
I love music
and Puerto Rican Women
my name has an echo
and I can dream in two languages
and if that ain’t enough

Whitey: I bleed
and cry
and miss my mother
I mean
I relate to Dachau
wounded knee
and nicaragua
I mean
I understand the mathematics of time

ALL 3:


(Off-stage a trumpet blares TAPS)

Whitey: Another day gone by.

Black: Sure could use a cold beer right about now.

Indio: Old man Gizmo is selling hootch. Five packs a pint.

Black: Can’t handle it. That shit gives me diarrhea.

Whitey: I heard some dude over in C-Block went blind drinking that stuff.

Black: Serves him right. All he had to do was get it from one of these hacks.

Whitey: There’s a hack in B-Block that charges 30 bucks a pint for vodka. It used to be 20 but what with inflation and all, he had to ante the price. But what the hell, 30 bucks ain’t too bad if you got it and want to get nice.

Indio: There used to be this female hack here, real fine, used to give head for fifty. She got rich in a week and retired. No shit. In a week she was damn near a millionaire.

Black: Now that’s a woman with sense.

Whitey: If he had sense she would’ve charged a hundred. I would have given her that just to touch her titties.

Indio: She was alright.

Whitey: You had some? Bullshit. C’monnn. Really?

Indio: Really.

Whitey: How was it?

Indio: How was it… great. Good. Chevere. Bueno. All those things. And she wasn’t fine. She was about 40 and ugly but to me, she was beautiful. What she’d do was put you on a call-out to the library area, you know, where the back room is? For storage? That’s where she did her thing. No rapping. Strickly business. She sucked, you came and adios amigo til’ the next fifty. No checks. No lay-a-ways. I gave up smoking, tuna fish, peanut butter and coffee for six months just to save up the money. And I tell you man, I’d do it again. When them lips closed on me, I saw heaven, man. I felt something no man on the outside could ever feel cause they take things like that for granted… My fuckin’ toes curled up in my boots, bro.

Whitey: Where’s she at now?

Indio: Quien sabe. Who knows? This was a few years back and I haven’t seen her since. But I can still smell her. I KNOW her touch. I tell you Whitey, if I had been rich, that woman would have gotten every dime I had.

Whitey: Amen.

Indio: You married?

Whitey: Usta be. 1 was married like 4 times in between bids. Every time I got out I married the first woman I met. The last one was the best, though. Nice Christian girl. Square as a block but nice. She usta say I was her mission on earth. Got a daughter by her too. Cute girl. Looks just like me.

Black: Cute girl? More like poor girl if she looks like you.

Whitey: Are you kidding! Look at this face (starts to pose) this body. These balls!

Indio: So where’s she at now?

Whitey: Don’t know. I heard they was living in Jersey.

(Enter PORTER. He comes on sweeping)

Porter: What’s up fellas? (He is ignored) I heard they got a draft coming in today from Attica. Anybody know anything about it? (To Whitey) How’s it going Whitey?

Whitey: Don’t say nothing to me, my man. Step-off.

Indio: Yo, cabron, who made you the porter?

Porter: Sgt. James

Black: Sgt. James? You his new son?

Porter: It’s not like that, dude. I’m nobody’s son.

Black: To let YOU tell it.

Porter: I was next on the list. You don’t believe it, ask Sgt. James.

Whitey: Yeah, sure. You’re next on my list too, you piece of shit.

Indio: Get off our gallery, man.

Porter: C’mon Indio, we’re homeboys. How you gonna show?

Indio: I’m not your homeboy, punk. If I see you anywhere, it’ll be me and you.

Porter: (leaving) Fuck you guys. You ain’t doing shit to me!

Whitey: Faggot!

Indio: Te veo en la yarda, pendejo!

Porter: (from off-stage) Tu madre, maricon!

Indio: Snitch!

Whitey: There oughta be a law against snitches, rapists and goddamn child molesters.

Black: Should slow boil them, nice and easy.

Indio: Pluck their eyes out.

Whitey: I get 20 years for a robbery and charlie-fuckin’-rapo gets one-to-three. Oughta be a law.


(All three stand up as male guard passes by)


Black: I wonder what happened to my baby?

lndio: What baby?

Black: Miss LlNDssssey.

Whitey: Probably with the warden.

lndio: You’ll see her again. All they do is take counts.

Whitey: There’s a rumor that starting tomorrow they want us to start holding hands while they’re taking the count.

Black: I believe it.

Whitey: (in a high voice) On the count, kiddies. Teachers gonna take the count. (Then, in a serious voice) We are counted like so much merchandise.
times a day
and between times
but not necessarily in this order
we play cards, chess, checkers, dominos, headgames. We tell bigger lies than the next guy. We wish for wishes.

Indio: We disillusion ourselves, we jerk off ALLL the time.

Black: We wait for letters that were never written and visits that never arrive.

Whitey: We cry when no one is looking, smile when they are.

Black: We act TOUGH and blame everything on everybody else.

Indio: We count cigarettes thinking they’re money.

Whitey: We forget our names sometimes.

Black: We plan future crimes, future dreams, future schemes.

India: We be really Baddd. We all have 3 balls and 2 hearts. We don’t accept shorts except from the courts.

Whitey: We all have calendars.

Black: We beg our women not to leave us: oh baby please stay – I’m only doing life!

Indio: We eat where we shit, shit where we sleep.

Whitey: We say we’ll turn Christian if we make parole and swear-to-god we didn’t do nothin’.

Indio: (imitating Preacher)
what we have heah
what we are EXperIencing heah
is a lack of purpose
a LACK of PURpose

we figure, as in all god’s things
we figure religion might help
it being the lesser of two evils
but there’s no sense of commitment
i say, there’s NO sense of COMmitMENT
since there IS a CROSS inVOLVED

so what do we do?
we let the TIME do us, brothers.
that’s right, we—let-the-time-do-us
we BEcome anti-social
we BEcome paranoid
we BEcome cold and emotionless
we prey, brothers, but ONLY on the weak
we BEcome, and it hurts me to say this
we BEcome just like the people who sent us here!
and as the months turn to years
and the years to decades
we realize, brothers,
that there is a certain seriousness
to jailing
that is baffling
i mean, brothers, and god is my witness on this
i mean
if prison is sooo serious
then why the FUCK
are we laughing?
(laughter is heard off-stage)

Indio: Gloria a dios!

Black: Tell the truth, brother! I hear you!
(enter Guard)

Guard: (to Indio) You got yourself an infraction, pal.

Indio: Oh yeah. For what?

Guard: Rule 1.36 of the Inmate Rules and Regulations.

Indio: What rule is that?

Guard: (reaching into his back pocket for rule book) It says.,.. “It is illegal for inmates to be involved in prayer with one or more other inmates in any area but those designated by the Superintendent for re1igious worship”.

Indio: So who’s praying? We were just having fun.

Guard: You were HOLDING services. It sounded like services and it sounded serious.

Black: A fart would sound serious to you.

Guard: (to Black) What’re you, a wiseass?

Black: What are YOU?

Whitey: He could be human. He LOOKS human. Yeah, see, he has teeth. Do you bite, officer?

Guard: (gets closer to Whitey. In a stage whisper) C’mon guy, give me a break, huh? It’s the nigga I want. You just stay out of it, O.K.?

Whitey: Trying to get some REC for yourself?

Guard: Gotta keep ‘em in place, pal. That’s my job.

Whitey: Niggas and spics?

Guard: Yep. ‘Specially them New York City ones. Worse bunch of garbage I’ve ever seen.

Whitey: You should’ve been at Attica. You would have loved the riot.

Guard: I was just a baby then. But my father and uncle was there. My grandfather just missed it due to he was retiring. It broke his heart that he wasn’t there.

Whitey: That’s some family you got there.

Guard: Yeah. I got a sister in the department too. And my mom works over in the administration building.

Whitey: No shit.

Guard: I figure my son will probably work here too. What the hell. The pay is good and there’s plenty of overtime. All’s the kid had to do was to keep a correct count.

Whitey: You know what I’d do if I was you?

Guard: What’s that?

Whitey: I’d go up and down this gallery kissing all our asses for my job.

Guard: PACK YOUR SHIT, TURDBRAIN! YOU’RE GOING TO THE HOLE! You can’t talk to me like that and think you’re going to get away with it! I SAID PACK UP!

Indio: Fuck ‘em! Let him pack it for you.

Black: (to Guard) If he goes we all go.

Indio: That’s right.

Black: You better call your relatives, junior.

Guard: (to Whitey) You’re in a lot of trouble, PAL. YOU and your FRIENDS!

Whitey: You started it!

Guard: That’s right – I started it. (Guard leaves)

Black: You know he’s going to get the goon squad.

Indio: (starts to pack his belongings into blanket) Well amigos, it was nice knowing you.

Whitey: (handing Black the bag of coffee) Yo Black, here’s the coffee. Be seeing you around.

Black: Keep it. But the sugar’lI still cost you.
(all three men start to pack their belongings in blankets)

Whitey: This just wasn’t my day.

Black: It’s like that sometimes.

Whitey: I know. I just can’t see going to the box for bullshit.

Indio: You’ve been there before.

Whitey: But not for praying! (laughs) I can’t believe this.

Black: Believe it. Those crackers are gonna be here any minute now and they’re gonna do serious work on us.

Whitey: Justice.

Black: Just Us.

(Black and Whitey continue packing)

Indio: (reading his letter) Yeah Mom – things here are the same. I guess prison is a lot like a cemetery. A LOT like a cemetery. And as time passes, so too the memories, until finally – even the images fade, ashes to dust.

(off-stage a loud commotion is heard)

Voice: What we got, Elmo? Niggas, huh?

Voice: Got us some over-time for sure!

Voice: Don’t leave any marks, y’hear!

Voice: (FEMALE) Hey fellas, what about me! What about me!

Indio: Here they come.

Black: Yep. Wrap up everything you don’t want broken.