Act I, Section 9 of Louis Slotin Sonata:


. . . (Phil begins hooking up Louie's feet to the cords that operate the reading machine.

Fade to black

Lights up on Slotin, alone in bed, reading. After a moment he tugs with his right foot and turns to the next page. He reads for a moment or so, then tugs several times with his left foot, paging back to check some prior reference. Then he pages forward to his previous place.

Fade to black.

Strange lights up on Louis, slumped asleep in his bed. The reading machine pages randomly backwards and forwards, as if of its own deranged volition. The lights shift. Louis lifts his head, opens his eyes, and smiles at the audience, raising his arms out of the ice troughs like a prophet.)

SLOTIN: I'm dreaming.

DREAMER A: It's June the 6th, 1944.

DREAMER B: I'm in an amphibious landing craft headed straight for Omaha Beach.

DREAMER A: Normandy.

SLOTIN: The time is come. As I look around at the other soldiers puking up their last rations as the LC bounces across the channel's heavy chop realize a strange thing:

BLACK SOLDIER: I am a black man.

SLOTIN: I have always been black.

DREAMER A: From Arkansas maybe, or the Carolinas.

DREAMER B: I am the only Negro on this boat.

BLACK SOLDIER: Hell, I'm the only Negro in this entire invasion.

DREAMER A: And even with the shells sending up columns of sea and spray all around us.

DREAMER B: And even with the shore looming closer and closer, and the thrill and terror pumping so thick I can taste it, I have to laugh.

SLOTIN: Because I realize there's been some mistake:

BLACK SOLDIER: This ain't my war.

DREAMER A: The boat hits the beach.

DREAMER B: We can hear the bullets clanging on the other side of the steel landing ramp.

DREAMER A: And then down it goes.

DREAMER B: And we can see machine gun fire churning the water in front of us to a wall of froth.

BLACK SOLDIER: Ain't nobody stepping into that. But when I turn round, I see the Navy skipper's pointing his sidearm Colt at us from the other side. So what do we do but go? White boys falling all around me. Some cut to pieces by the guns, some just drowning under their gear. But I move forward. The Kraut bullets just won't hit me. This ain't my war.

I got me a Browning Automatic Rifle, a big ol' bloody BAR and I start pumping her good into anything that moves up on them cliffs. And then I'm up the cliffs. I leave all them white boys behind dying and such down on the beach. Ain't got time for that. Ain't my war. Every lousy Kraut beady blue-eyed bastard I see, I just jerk back on my BAR and pump some lead in their face.

"Damn, Fritz! You sorry now, ain't ya? Should a thought a that sooner, hunh? Now get down in hell where you belong!"

DREAMER A: And then I'm running.

DREAMER B: Running ahead.

BLACK SOLDIER: I ain't got time for this. This ain't my war.

SLOTIN: I run past Paris.

BLACK SOLDIER: Sorry, Ladies. Much as I'd like, ain't no time for that now.

DREAMER A: I run forward.

SLOTIN: Past the Maginot line.

DREAMER B: Into Germany.

BLACK SOLDIER: And I kill the Krauts when I see 'em, but ain't wasting no time neither.

DREAMER A: I'm running.

DREAMER B: Past Berlin.

SLOTIN: Past Hitler.

BLACK SOLDIER: Ain't got time for that lousy little shit-ass now. Let 'em eat his own lead.

DREAMER A: I'm running.

DREAMER B: I'm into Poland now.

DREAMER A: And then I'm there.

SLOTIN: Auschwitz.

BLACK SOLDIER: And damned if it don't look just like "Gone With The Wind". Big ol' plantation with a big ol' pearly white house with big ol' columns. And who you think's sitting up on that porch, just sipping on a julep but the Doctor himself.

SLOTIN: Mengele.

DREAMER A: Kill him.

DREAMER B: Kill him now.

BLACK SOLDIER: Yeah. Now we got somebody worth killing. I stroll on up them front steps drop my BAR from my shoulder and get set to shoot, only the gun ain't a gun. Just a damned stick.

DREAMER A: A yardstick.

DREAMER B: A slide rule the size of a yardstick.

DREAMER A: It's hard to say.

SLOTIN: At any rate, Mengele smiles. He gets up, and from his vest pocket draws a very small knife.

DREAMER A: A scalpel--

BLACK SOLDIER: And cuts me open.

SLOTIN: To find the smallish Canadian Jew inside.

BLACK SOLDIER & SLOTIN (together): Louis.

BLACK SOLDIER: And right then and there it dawns on me--

DREAMER A & DREAMER B (together): We got trouble.


BLACK SOLDIER & SLOTIN (in darkness): Louis... we need to talk, Louis.

(Lights up on Dr. Hempelmann leaning over Louis, asleep in his bed. Slotin's eyes blink open.)

HEMPELMANN: Louis... Louis...

SLOTIN (waking with a start): What!?... What trouble? What?

HEMPELMANN: Louis, it's Lou Hempelmann. . . .