Robert: picked to do a “hit” on one of his fellow gang members, who has used up drugs belonging to the gang

David: member of the same gang, and Robert’s antagonist

Frank: moderator in the conflict between Robert and David

Larry: in charge of the gang’s drug business, including finances, sides with Robert in his conflict with David

Mike: minor role, sides with Robert

Prison dayroom. There are four long benches, all in a row, facing the stage. Two inmates, Frank and Robert, walk in from stage right and sit on the back bench.

Robert: Man, I hardly slept last night. Couldn’t stop thinking ‘bout what I have to do.

Frank: Yeah, I can imagine how hard it must be. But you know it has to be done.

Robert: I wonder if you can imagine. (Pause) You know, it sure was easy for everyone to vote against Joe, knowing they wouldn’t be the ones to have to hit ‘em.

Frank: What do you mean? He has to go down. It’s the third time he’s done this. You’re not backing out, are you?

Robert: No, I’m not backing out!

Frank: Hold it down. We don’t want the officer’s attention.

Robert: You all knew he wouldn’t resist the heroin. Why did they even let ‘em hold it? Probably did it on purpose.

Frank: You may be right. David never has liked Joe.

Robert: You knew that, and still voted ‘em down?

Frank: And I’d do it again. David didn’t force ‘em to shoot the heroin up.

Robert: It was only a hundred bucks. I could’ve paid it for ‘em.

Frank: What do you mean? We’ve already decided. We can’t let ‘em make it.

Robert: You all decided. I didn’t decide anything. My vote didn’t count, remember?

Frank: Are you backing out? You can’t back out. If you are, let me know so I can go back to sleep.

Robert: Don’t tell me what I can’t do!

Frank: Hold it down, bro.

Robert: I just don’t like anybody tellin’ me what I can or can’t do. I’m my own person, and make my own decisions.

Frank: Hold up. I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just saying it has to be done. Besides, I didn’t get up this early to argue with you.

Robert: I’m not arguin’. I just don’t think it’s fair, the way things were done.

Frank: I don’t know if it was fair or not, and I really don’t care. I told you I’d have that deal for you. If it wasn’t for that, I’d still be asleep. You want it or not?

Robert: Of course, I do. Why do you think I came out so early? But after this is done, I’m gonna bring up the issue of David and that punk. I’m not gonna stay quiet anymore.

Frank: I’m with you on that. Larry and Billy had already brought that up.

Robert: Let me have that deal.

Frank: It’s under the front bench, over to the right. Hurry up and get it before everyone starts comin’ in. The officer aint even paying attention. He’s waitin’ for his relief.

(Robert goes to the end of the front bench, reaches under it, and pulls out an object that’s about six inches long. He bends down, pulls up his right pants leg, and slides the object into his sock. When he rises and turns around, Frank is gone. The stage lights go out)

Two prison cells, separated by a solid wall. There are three people in the first cell; Frank, David, and an obviously gay individual (plucked eyebrows and makeup). Each is drinking a cup of coffee. The second cell is empty.

David: He gonna do it or not?

Frank: What’re you talking ‘bout? Get this punk out of here. (Looks contemptuously at the gay individual, who returns the look)

David: Go on, Precious. I’ll see you tonight when I get off work. (Gay individual leaves stage left)

Frank: What the fuck’s wrong with you? We don’t talk about anything in front of that punk!

David: Alright, she’s gone! (Pause) What did he say? Did he take the shank?

Frank: Yeah, he took it. I think he’s gonna do it.

David: What do you mean, think? He doesn’t have a choice.

Frank: Actually, ha does. You know he’s always been his own person. Here, you want some? (Frank offers David some cookies. David takes one and starts eating)

David: He made his choice when he joined us. He better not back down.

Frank: He knows it’s got to be done. (Pause) He thinks we gave the heroin to Joe on purpose, knowing he was gonna use it.

David: That’s bullshit! He’s the only one who could’ve taken it to rec. And I told ‘em myself to make sure he got it there. Joe’s the only one to blame.

Frank: Even offered to pay the hundred bucks. I told ‘em it’s too late. The decisions already been made. He understands.

David: I don’t think he does understand. Sounds like he’s trying to avoid it. It’s almost 11. Something should’ve happened by now. You sure he’s gonna do it?

Frank: Yeah, he said he would. He was in the dayroom at six to pick that deal up. (Pause) They don’t get off work ‘til noon. Maybe he hasn’t had the chance.

David: Why you keep defendin’ ‘em?

Frank: Why won’t you be more patient, and not so negative all the time?

David: How much patience we need? He either does it or he doesn’t.

Frank: What if he doesn’t get the chance?

David: Hell! He works with ‘em! They’re together for five fuckin’ hours! I don’t think he wants to do it.

Frank:They’re not always alone. There’s other people around. Just be cool. Give ‘em a chance. (Pause) Another cookie?

David: No, I’m not hungry.

Frank: Maybe you ought to lay down and rest awhile.

David: I won’t be able to sleep, but I’ll try to get some rest. When he comes in find out what happened, I’ll act like I’m asleep and listen in.

Frank: I don’t like that. It’s like stabbin’ ‘em in the back. You’re wrong, man.

David: What he doesn’t know won’t hurt ‘em. (Pause) Anyway, tell ‘em we’re supposed to meet Joe at the bath house at seven, tonight. I had it planned, just in case.

Frank: (Looks out cell and calls back to David) Here he comes now. (David lays down in his bunk and closes his eyes. Frank exits cell, enters the second cell, and sits on the bottom bunk. Robert arrives seconds later, and enters the second cell)

Frank: The water’s hot, if you want some coffee. Here’s some cookies too.

Robert: Good. I sure need a strong one right now. I saw Joe. (Robert begins making a cup of coffee. David sits up in the first cell, and is listening)

Frank: You didn’t say anything to ‘em, did you?

Robert: (Uses the toilet as a seat) Hell no! Why you ask me that? (He grabs a cookie and quickly eats it. Then he takes another and starts on it)

Frank: Just wanna be sure he don’t suspect anything. Oh, before I forget, he should be at the bath house at seven tonight.

Robert: Yeah, he told me he’d be there. Said the heroin came in. He thinks he’s gonna get his cut. He did say he’d pay for the heroin he used up. (Robert finishes the second cookie, takes a drink from his coffee, and grabs another cookie)

Frank: You know it’s too late for that. Hope you didn’t tell him that.

Robert: I told ‘em I’d help ‘em come up with the money. (Finishes third cookie and gets another)

Frank: What happened, anyway? Didn’t you get a chance?

Robert: If I had, don’t you think I would’ve done it? (Sounding irritated) What’s wrong? You doubting me? (Puts cookie down)

Frank: No, I’m not doubtin’ you.

Robert: (Calmly) You’ve known me long enough. I’d rather do it right, than to rush and screw it up.

Frank: Yeah, I . . . (David has exited the first cell and stands at the entrance of the second cell)

David: You were there for five fuckin’ hours with the bastard! And you’re saying you didn’t get a chance? You expect us to believe that? How much time do you need? (Robert stands up, as does Frank, who stands between the two)

Frank: Hold up, David! Don’t disrespect ‘em like that.

David: Hold up, hell! I’m tired of this bullshit! (Speaking to Robert) So you think we trapped ‘em with the heroin, huh? (Robert looks at Frank, who lowers his head)

Robert: You knew damn well he wasn’t gonna resist!

David: I don’t give a damn what you think! We might’ve given ‘em the rope, but he hung hisself. (David laughs)

Frank: Come on, man. We aren’t gettin’ anywhere fightin’ among ourselves.

David: We wouldn’t even be talkin’ about this if he’d taken care of his business.

Frank: He already told you he didn’t get the chance.

David: I know what he fuckin’ said! I don’t believe ‘em.

Frank: Watch what you say. That’s a serious accusation.

David: I think he’s just talk. He aint gonna do nothing.

Robert: You heard it yourself, Frank. You’re my witness.

Frank: Damn it, David! You know you can’t talk to a brother like that.

David: To hell with what I can or can’t say! I said it, and meant it!

Frank: And I’m sure he’s gonna bring charges against you. You flat out disrespected ‘em.

David: He has to get Joe first. If he doesn’t, my accusation is true.

Robert: You be at the bath house tonight. You’ll see if I’m just talk.

David: Yeah, I’ll be there. (David walks away, laughing, and exits stage left)

Robert: (David no longer present) Sorry son of a bitch.

Frank: Forget about him for now. Don’t let ‘em get to you.

Robert: Yeah, I’ll forget about ‘em for now. See you at the bath house tonight. (Robert grabs another cookie and eats it. He finishes his coffee, climbs up to the top bunk and lies down)

Frank: I’ll be there. (Someone yells, “Recreation, going out”) Gotta go. See ya tonight. (Frank exits the cell and exits stage left)

Robert: (Alone in the cell. Sits up and jumps off the top bunk) I need another cup of coffee. (Touches hot pot) Good, water’s still hot. (Begins making cup of coffee) Who the hell that son of a bitch think he is, talkin’ to me like that? He don’t even know me. (Pours water into cup) Come to think of it, I’ve never taken anyone out in cold blood. It’s always been in self-defense. (Takes a couple of sips from the coffee) But I knew what this was about when I got in. There has to be discipline. (Pause) Discipline? Where’s the discipline in our recruiting? Joe aint nothing but a junkie. Everyone knew that. Only reason he joined was for drugs. He deserves what he has coming. (Sips the coffee for a few seconds. Thinking) David planned this from the beginning, when he gave ‘em the heroin. He knew Joe was gonna fuck off the dope, and get voted down, and I’d be the one had to hit ‘em. Thinks he’s gonna get me out the way. Figured I’d get caught if I hit Joe at work. Now wants it done in the bath house. Thinks I’ll be seen goin’ in and out. He sure will be disappointed. I worked there way before he even got here. (Finishes coffee. Climbs back up to the top bunk and lies down) Yeah, he doesn’t even know it. That’s the perfect spot.

Recreation yard. There are two men sitting on one of the four long benches. Larry and Mike are in their late twenties.

Larry: David said he’d be here. And that he’d sent word to everyone.

Mike: Here ‘ee comes now. (David walks in from stage left)

Larry: Looks like he’s the only one made it. (Larry and Mike stand as David approaches)

David: Hey, I guess no one else could make it. (Shakes both their hands)

Larry: Thought you hollered at ‘em all. (All sit down on a bench)

David: I did. Just saw Gilbert. Said they called ‘em out to unload a truck. Pete and Ray probably went out to help. Don’t know if Ernest and Billy got my message.

Larry: (Reaches inside his shirt pocket, retrieves a small plastic bag, opens it, and pulls out two marijuana joints) This is some bad ass stuff. (Gives one to David, and lights up the other. David puts his in his pocket) My homegirl should’ve come in with shift change. I’ll catch up with ‘er later and pick that up.

David: I’m not worried ‘bout that right now. The drug biz can wait. (Pause) I don’t think Robert’s gonna do anything.

Larry: Man, don’t even talk like that. I know Robert.

Mike: Is this what you called us out for?

David: Then why hasn’t he fuckin’ done it?

Larry: Hold up! You’re way out of line, talking to us like that!

David: It just pisses me off that everyone’s always defendin’ ‘em.

Larry: You don’t know ‘em like we do. Believe me, he’s gonna do it.

Mike: I don’t know ‘em as good as Larry does, but I know I can count on ‘em. Give me a hit of that joint, Larry. (Larry hands the joint to Mike)

David: I just know the mother fucker hasn’t done it yet!

Larry: It’s obvious you don’t like ‘em. But you’re disrespectin’ all of us with what you’re sayin’. Get off that fuckin’ trip.

David: I’m running things now! I talk the way I want!

Larry: You’re only in charge of certain decisions. You aint running a damn thing!

Mike: We’re the ones who voted you in. We can just as easily remove you. Don’t let it go to your head.

David: OK, man. I understand that. (Pause) Look, we need a secondary plan, just in case.

Larry: Like what?

David: If Robert doesn’t take care of his business tonight, he needs to go down too.

Larry: Hell no!

Mike: What the hell’s wrong with you? Everyone has to be here for a decision like that.

David: I can see I can’t count on y’all.

Larry: Hell no, you can’t!

David: I wanna see what you guys do tomorrow when you find out he still hasn’t done anything. (David leaves without further word and exits stage right)

Larry: Man, that dude’s a trip.

Mike: He’s lettin’ it go to his head. I told you we should’ve voted for Frank.

Larry: Yeah. (Grimaces and shakes his head) Did you know Robert confronted ‘em ‘bout that punk?

Mike: So that’s what it is. But Robert’s right. We shouldn’t allow that bullshit. Makes me sick.

Larry: I agree with you. But my concern right now is the money.

Mike: You have a point. The last report you gave us was almost, what, five gran’?

Larry: Yeah, things are lookin’ good. It’s gonna get even better.

Mike: I’m gonna go ahead and leave. You gonna be there tonight?

Larry: No. And you stay away too.

Mike: What if David tries something against Robert?

Larry: He’s not that stupid. Besides, Frank’s gonna be there.

Mike: I’d still rather be there. But alright. See ya tomorrow at work.

Larry: I’m hoping Frank shows up so I can holler ‘em ‘bout David. I wonder what happened to ‘em. (Mike exits stage right. Seconds later Frank arrives)

Frank: (Clearly disturbed) Man, I need to talk to you. (Sits on bench with Larry, as they shake hands)

Larry: What’s wrong with you? Something wrong?

Frank: They busted your homegirl.

Larry: What? (Rises to his feet) Are you sure? How you know?

Frank: I saw part of what happened. That’s why I’m just now gettin’ here. They locked down the hallway. But I saw something else I didn’t like at all.

Larry: What do you mean by that? What did you see?

Frank: David. Seen ‘em come out of the lieutenant’s office. And your homegirl was already being taken away. What business he have with the lieutenant?

Larry: If I find out it was him . . . Did he see you?

Frank: No. (Shaking his head) He was lookin’ around, making sure no one had seen ‘em. (Pause) I hadn’t told anyone, but Robert had already suspected ‘em. Told me last week he’d seen ‘em coming out of the lieutenant’s office. I told ‘em he needed to have more proof.

Larry: What more proof did he need? He’s got no business in the lieutenant’s office. At the very least we could’ve confronted ‘em ‘bout it.

Frank: Damn! (Slams his fist on the bench) And now look what happens. I have to take part of the blame.

Larry: It’s alright, bro. You did what you thought was right.

Frank: Oh yeah, another thing. (Pauses, thinking)

Larry: What’s that?

Frank: David knows Robert saw ‘em.

Larry: No wonder he’s been so hostile towards ‘em. Should’ve heard what he was saying ‘bout ‘em earlier. Disrespected ‘em real bad.

Frank: Yeah, he and Robert almost got into it.

Larry: Now I know where it’s all comin’ from. I thought it was ‘cause of that punk.

Frank: I’m sure that’s part of it. (Pause) I need to catch up with Robert and holler at ‘em.

Larry: We just lost over three gran’. That really hurt.

Frank: And your homegirl. I feel bad for her.

Larry: She knew what she was gettin’ into. Besides, we still have those other two. Our main concern now is recoupin’ the loss.

Frank: Way things’re goin’, it shouldn’t take too long.

Larry: Glad you told me not to mention those others to anyone else. Now I know your reason. Chicken Head should bring the weed tomorrow. (Pause) What’ll we do now?

Frank: We need everyone here at one tomorrow. David’s gonna have to anwser some hard questions.

Larry: I’ll send word to Pete and Ray. And ask ‘em to holler at Ernest and Billy.

Frank: Make sure they know it’s mandatory. And don’t tell ‘em what it’s about. I’m gonna go find Robert.

Larry: I’ll go find out what I can ‘bout my homegirl. Damn, hate to lose like this. (Both exit right stage)

Shower area, with multiple shower heads. There are several benches lined up in a row. Dirty clothes and towels scattered across the floor. Robert and Frank enter from upstage left.

Frank: How’d you know we could get in through there? I’d never have guessed.

Robert: Been like that for years. Everyone thinks it’s welded shut.

Frank: Man, this place’s a mess. Wonder where David’s at. He usually has everything cleaned up by now.

Robert: I don’t like this at all. Maybe he’s tellin’ ‘bout what’s fixin’ to happen.

Frank: I doubt it. He wants Joe out the way pretty bad. Maybe he found out we know about ’em.

Robert: Oh, he’s known I know about ’em. I think we ought to get ’em out the way now. Worry ’bout Joe later. He’s the real threat.

Frank: You know we don’t work like that. He has to be given a chance to defend hisself, and all of us make the decision. Come on, help me out.

(Frank grabs a pair of latex gloves and hands them to Robert. He grabs another pair and puts them on. They both begin picking up the dirty clothes and towels, and putting them in a box.)

Robert: We didn’t let Joe defend himself.

Frank: You know that was different. It was his third time. Hey, he should’ve been here by now. (Looks at his watch) It’s ten after seven.

Robert: You’re right. Hard to belive he’s not here. He’s expectin’ some dope. Maybe he heard ’bout the bust.

Frank: He wouldn’t know it was ours. You sure he don’t suspect he was voted down?

Robert: Nah, he seemed normal earlier. Something’s not right, though. All he talked about was the heroin. I was sure he’d be here.

(David enters stage left)

David: How’d ya’ll get in?

Robert: What do you mean? Through the door, same way you did.

Frank: Where you been?

David: (Helps as they finish picking up the last of the dirty clothes) I had to take care of something. Did you hear ‘bout Joe?

Frank: What about ‘em?

David: They say he got hisself locked up. I think he was behind the heroin gettin’ busted.

Robert: He didn’t even know ‘bout Larry’s homegirl.

David: I’m just tellin’ ya what I heard.

Frank: From who?

David: Couple different guys.

Robert: You still haven’t said who you heard it from.

David: Who the fuck are you? I don’t answer to you!

Frank: We all answer to each other. Just tell us who you heard it from.

David: I already suspected ‘em, but kept quiet ‘cause I didn’t have any proof.

Robert: You’re full of shit! Even if Joe had known ‘bout Larry’s homegirl he’s the last one who would’ve given her up.

Frank: What had you suspected?

David: We all knew he was pinchin’ all the heroin he got his hands on.

Frank: What’s that got to do with your suspicions?

David: Look man, if he’d (pointing at Robert) taken care of his business when he was supposed to, we wouldn’t even be goin’ through this bullshit now!

Robert: I already told you I didn’t get the chance! Where you been, anyway?

David: It’s none of your fuckin’ business!

Frank: It is our business! You told us to be here at seven! Where the fuck were you?

David: Oh, now you’re against me too?

Frank: No one’s against you. Just wanna know why you weren’t here at seven, like you said. By the looks of this place you were gone for awhile.

Robert: What were you doin’ in lieutenant’s office at shift change?

Frank: That’s supposed to wait ‘till tomorrow.

David: What’re you talkin’ about? Your lies aren’t gonna work.

Robert: You know damn well what I’m talkin’ about! I had already known about you. It was confirmed by the rest of ‘em when you were seen today.

David: No one saw me do a damn thing! Besides, you don’t have nothin’ to talk about. We’re gonna vote on you for not hittin’ Joe. You lettin’ ‘em get away. (Gets close to Robert and jabs his finger inches from his face) And I’m gonna ask for your blood!

Frank: (Gets between the two and separates them) Hold up, ya’ll! This’ll be decided tomorrow. (Frank has his back turned and doesn’t see when David pulls out an object from the front inside of his pants. Robert sees him, and begins pulling his own shank from inside his shirt, under his left arm pit. But he’s too late.)

David: I’ve already made the decision. (David swings at Robert, but his arm is inadvertently diverted by Frank)

Robert: The wrong decision! (When David’s arm is diverted he is off balance, and Robert plunges his shank into David’s chest. David crumbles to the ground, in obvious pain and agony, dying a slow death)

Frank: Damn! Where’d he get that from?

Robert: Joe told me he always carried one.

Frank: Come on, let’s get out of here!

Robert: You go ahead, the same way you came in. I’ll get rid of the shanks.

Frank: What for? Just wipe yours off.

Robert: You’re right. (Wipes his shank off with a dirty towel. Drops it on the ground)

Frank: If they lock up for investigation, never cop out.

Robert: I know how they work. Don’t worry ‘bout me. I’ll never talk. (Both exit upstage left)