Short Eyes

( 4 )

Overview

Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award

This powerful drama of prison life is set in a house of detention where a group of young convicts-predominantly black and Puerto Rican-taunt, fight, insult, and entertain one another in an attempt to preserve their sanity and to create a semblance of community. When a young white prisoner accused of child molesting is thrown into the cell block by a guard who says he belongs in Sing Sing because "the men up there konw what to do ...

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Overview

Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award

This powerful drama of prison life is set in a house of detention where a group of young convicts-predominantly black and Puerto Rican-taunt, fight, insult, and entertain one another in an attempt to preserve their sanity and to create a semblance of community. When a young white prisoner accused of child molesting is thrown into the cell block by a guard who says he belongs in Sing Sing because "the men up there konw what to do with degenerates like you," the stage is set for an explosive series of events; for, among prisoners, this child molester called "short eyes" is the lowest of criminals.

Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. "...an authentic, powerful theatrical piece... ."---Newsweek

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An authentic, powerful theatrical piece that tells you more about the anti-universe of prison life than any play outside the work of Jean Genet." Jack Kroll, Newsweek

"Mr. Piñero writes very well indeed. His dialogue sizzles with truth." --Clive Barnes, The New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374521479
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 1/28/1975
  • Series: Mermaid Dramabook Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 703,105
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.08 (h) x 0.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Miguel Pinero, once a burglar, mugger, shoplifter, and drug addict, began writing when serving a five-year sentence in Sing Sing for armed robbery. He was discovered and encouraged by Marvin Felix Camillo, who conducted a drama workshop at the prison. Camillo's workshop grew into an acting company of ex-convicts called "The Family," members of which made up most of the cast in Joseph Papp's premiere production of Short Eyes in 1974. Mr. Pinero died in 1988.

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Read an Excerpt

Short Eyes

ACT ONE

Dayroom in the House of Detention. Upstage right is entrance gate. Upstage left is gate leading to shower room and slop sink. Upstage center is a toilet and drinking fountain. Above is a catwalk. Stage left is a table and chairs. Downstage right is a garbage can. Upstage right is a TV set on a stand. Early-morning lock-in after the morning meal.

 

Early-morning light.

 

INMATES' VOICES can be heard: various ad-libs, calling out to each other, asking questions, exchanging prison gossip, etc.

 

 

MORRISON

 

All right, listen up ... I said listen up.

(Whistle)

When I call your names, give me your cell location.

(Catcalls)

Off the fucking noise. Now if I have to call out your name more than once, pray—cause your soul may belong to God, but your ass is mine.

(More catcalls. House lights go out) Williams, D.

 

VOICE RESPONSE

Upper D 14.

 

MORRISON

Homer, J.

 

VOICE RESPONSE

Lower D 7.

 

MORRISON

Stone, F.

 

VOICE RESPONSE

Lower D 5.

 

MORRISON

Miller, G.

 

VOICE RESPONSE

Upper D 3.

 

MORRISON

Lockout for criminal court ...

(Whistle)

"A" side dayroom. All right, already! ... knock it off.

Supreme Court.

(Whistle)

Johnson.

 

INMATE VOICE

Who?

 

MORRISON

Johnson.

 

TWO INMATE VOICES

Who?

 

MORRISON

Johnson.

 

A LOT OF VOICES

Who? ... who? ... who? ... who? ...

 

MORRISON

Aw, come on, fellas, give me a break.

 

INMATE VOICE

Your brains may belong to the state, but your sanity belongs to me.

 

INMATE VOICE

Aw, come on, fellas, give the fella a break.

 

INMATE VOICE

Break ...

(Bronx cheer)

 

MORRISON

Johnson.

 

INMATE VOICE

Upper D 15.

 

MORRISON

Corree-a.

 

INMATE VOICE

Can't you say my name right?

(Giving proper pronunciation)

Correa ... Correa ... Correa.

 

MORRISON

You guys go to the "C" side dayroom

(Whistle)

Sing Sing reception center. Gomez, A.

 

VOICE RESPONSE

Lower D 9.

 

MORRISON

Shit-can-do.

(Catcalls)

 

VOICE RESPONSE

Scicando ... Lower D 11.

 

MORRISON

Bring all your personal belongings and go to the "B" side dayroom.

(Catcalls)

All right, you guys want to play games, you guys don't let up that noise, you guys ain't locking out this morning.

 

INMATE VOICE

You got it.

(Ad-libs continue until OMAR speaks)

 

ICE

Fuck you, sucker.

(Silence. Sound of prison gate opening is heard)

 

MORRISON

(Whistledayroom lights come on)

All right, on the lockout.

(Enter OMAR, LONGSHOE, EL RAHEEM, PACO, and ICE. Each runs toward his respective position. Ad-libs.

Then JUAN walks slowly toward his position.

CUPCAKES is the last to come in. The MEN accompany him with simple scat singing to the tune of "The Stripper." Ad-libs)

 

JUAN

Why don't you cut that loose? Man, don't you think that kid get tired of hearing that every morning?

 

PACO

Oh, man, we just jiving.

 

ICE

Hey, Cupcake, you ain't got no plexes behind that, do you?

 

CUPCAKES

I mean ... like no ... but ...

 

PACO

You see, Juan, Cupcake don't mind.

 

CUPCAKES

No, really, Juan. Like I don't mind ... But that doesn't mean that I like to listen to it. I mean ... like ... hey ... I call you guys by your name. Why don't you call me by mine? My name ain't Cupcakes, it's Julio.

 

EL RAHEEM

If you would acknowledge that you are God, your namewouldn't be Cupcake or Julio or anything else. You would be Dahoo.

 

LONGSHOE

Already! Can't you spare us that shit early in the a.m.?

 

EL RAHEEM

No ... one ... is ... talking ... to ... you ... Yacoub.

 

LONGSHOE

The name is Longshoe Charlie Murphy ... Mister Murphy to you.

 

EL RAHEEM

Yacoub ... maker and creator of the devil ... swine merchant. Your time is near at hand. Fuck around and your time will be now. Soon all devils' heads will roll and now rivers shall flow through the city—created by the blood of Whitey ... Devil ... beast.

 

OMAR

Salaam Alaikum.

 

PACO

Salami with bacons.

 

ICE

Power to the people.

 

LONGSHOE

Free the Watergate 500.

 

JUAN

Pa'lante.

 

CUPCAKES

Tippecanoe and Tyler too.

 

PACO

(On table, overly feminine)

A la lucha ... a la lucha ... que somo mucha ...

 

OMAR

Hey! Hey ... you know the Panthers say "Power to the people."

 

MR. NETT

On the gate.

 

OMAR

(Strong voice)

Power to the people. And gay liberators say ...

(High voice, limp wrist in fist)

Power to the people.

(Enter NETT)

 

MR. NETT

How about police power?

 

JUAN

How about it? Oink, oink.

 

MR. NETT

Wise guy. Paco, you got a counsel visit.

 

PACO

Vaya.

 

OMAR

Mr. Nett?

 

MR. NETT

Yeah, what is it?

 

OMAR

Mr. Nett, you know like I've been here over ten months—and I'd like to know why I can't get on the help. Like I've asked a dozen times ... and guys that just come in are shot over me ... and I get shot down ... Like why? Have I done something to you? Is there something about me that you don't like?

 

MR. NETT

 

Why, no. I don't have anything against you. But since you ask me I'll tell you. One is that when you first came in here you had the clap.

 

OMAR

But I don't have it any more. That was ten months ago.

 

MR. NETT

How many fights have you had since the first day you came on the floor?

 

OMAR

But I haven't had a fight in a long time.

 

MR. NETT

How many?

 

OMAR

Seven.

 

MR. NETT

Seven? Close to ten would be my estimation. No, if I put you on the help, there would be trouble in no time. Now if you give me your word that you won't fight and stay cool, I'll give it some deep consideration.

 

OMAR

I can't give you my word on something like that. You know I don't stand for no lame coming out the side of his neck with me. Not my word ... My word is bond.

 

EL RAHEEM

Bond is life.

 

OMAR

That's why I can't give you my word. My word is my bond. Man in prison ain't got nothing but his word, and he's got to be careful who and how and for what he give it for. But I'll tell you this, I'll try to be cool.

 

MR. NETT

Well, you're honest about it anyway. I'll think it over.

(PACO and MR. NETT exit)

 

EL RAHEEM

Try is a failure.

 

OMAR

Fuck you.

 

EL RAHEEM

Try is a failure. Do.

 

OMAR

Fuck you.

 

EL RAHEEM

Fuck yourself, it's cheaper.

 

CUPCAKES

Hey, Mr. Nett—put on the power.

 

MR. NETT

(From outside the gate)

The power is on.

 

CUPCAKES

The box ain't on.

 

MR. NETT

Might be broken. I'll call the repairman.

 

JUAN

Might as well listen to the radio.

 

ICE

The radio ain't workin' either, Juan. I tried to get BLS a little while ago and got nothin' but static, Jack.

 

CUPCAKES

Anyone wants to play Dirty Hearts? I ain't got no money, but I'll have cigarettes later on this week.

 

OMAR

Money on the wood makes bettin' good.

 

ICE

Right on.

(LONGSHOE gives CUPCAKES cigarettes)

 

JUAN

Hey, Julio.

(Throws CUPCAKES cigarettes.

BROWN appears outside entrance gate)

 

BROWN

On the gate.

(Gate opens and PACO enters. Gate closes and BROWN exits)

 

CUPCAKES

Shit. That was a real fast visit.

 

PACO

Not fast enough.

 

LONGSHOE

What the man say about your case?

 

PACO

The bitch wants me to cop out to a D—she must think my dick is made of sponge rubber. I told her to tell the D.A. to rub the offer on his chest. Not to come to court on my behalf—shit, the bitch must have made a deal with the D.A. on one of her paying customers. Man, if I wait I could get a misdemeanor by my motherfucking self. What the fuck I need with a Legal Aid? Guess who's on the bench?

 

ICE

Who they got out there?

 

PACO

Cop-out Levine.

 

ICE

Wow! He give me a pound for a frown.

 

PACO

First they give me a student, and now a double-crossin' bitch.

 

LONGSHOE

We all got to make a living.

 

PACO

On my expense? No fucking good.

 

EL RAHEEM

You still expect the white man to give you a fair trial in his court? Don't you know what justice really means? Justice ... "just us" ... white folks.

 

PACO

Look here, man. I don't expect nothing from nobody—especially the Yankees. Man, this ain't my first time before them people behind these walls, cause I ain't got the money for bail. And you can bet that it won't be my last time—not as long as I'm poor and Puerto Rican.

 

CUPCAKES

Come on, let's play ... for push-ups.

 

JUAN

How many?

 

CUPCAKES

Ten if you got just one book, fifteen if you got two.

 

PACO

I ain't playing for no goddamn push-ups.

 

ICE

Hey—come on, don't be like that.

 

PACO

Said ain't playing for no push-ups. Tell you what, let's play for coochie-coochies.

 

ICE

What the hell is coochie-coochies?

 

JUAN

It's a game they play in Puerto Rico. You ever see a flick about Hawaii? Them girls with the grass skirts moving their butts dancing? That's coochie-coochies.

 

ICE

I thought that was the hula-jack.

 

PACO

Put your shirt on your hips like this and move your ass. Coochie-coochie-coochie ...

 

CUPCAKES

That's out.

 

PACO

You got a plexes?

 

CUPCAKES

Told you before that I don't have no complexes.

 

JUAN

You got no plexes at all?

 

CUPCAKES

No.

 

JUAN

Then why not let me fuck you?

 

CUPCAKES

That's definitely out.

 

JUAN

People without complexes might as well turn stuff.

 

OMAR

Thinking of joining the ranks? Cruising the tearooms?

 

EL RAHEEM

What kind of black original man talk is that? Cupcakes puts the wisdom before the knowledge because that's his nature. He can't help that. But you are deliberately acting and thinking out of your nature ... thinking like the white devil, Yacoub. Your presence infects the minds of my people like a fever. You, Yacoub, are the bearer of three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine diseases ... corrupt ... evil ... pork-chop-eating brain ...

 

LONGSHOE

Look.

 

EL RAHEEM

Where?

 

LONGSHOE

I'm sick and ...

 

EL RAHEEM

See, brothers, he admits he is sick with corruption.

 

LONGSHOE

Who?

 

EL RAHEEM

You're not only the devil, you're also an owl?

 

LONGSHOE

Why?

 

EL RAHEEM

"Y"—why? Why is "Y" the twenty-fifth letter of the alphabet?

 

LONGSHOE

You ... son of ...

 

EL RAHEEM

You ... me ... they ... them. This ... those ... that ... "U" for the unknown.

 

LONGSHOE

I ... I ...

 

EL RAHEEM

Eye ... I ... Aye ... Aye ... Aiiii ... hi ...

 

LONGSHOE

Games, huh?

 

EL RAHEEM

The way of life is no game. Lame.

 

LONGSHOE

G ... O ... D ... D ... O ... G ... God spelled backward is dog ... dog spelled backward is God ... If Allah is God, Allah is a dog.

 

EL RAHEEM

Allah Akbar.

(Screams, jumps on him)

Allah Akbar.

(MR. NETT and BROWN appear outside entrance gate)

 

MR. NETT

On the gate.

(BROWN opens gate. MR. NETT and BROWN enter. MR. NETT breaks them apart)

 

MR. NETT

What the hell is going on here?

 

OMAR

Mr. Nett, let these two git it off, else we's gonna have mucho static around here.

 

ICE

Yeah ... Mr. Nett ... they got a personality thing going on for weeks.

 

MR. NETT

Fair fight, Murphy?

 

LONGSHOE

That's what I want.

 

MR. NETT

Johnson?

 

EL RAHEEM

El Raheem. Johnson is a slave name.

(Nods)

May your Christian God have mercy on your soul, Yacoub.

(BROWN closes gate.

EL RAHEEM and LONGSHOE square off and begin to fight ... boxing ... some wrestling.

LONGSHOE is knocked clean across the room)

 

LONGSHOE

Guess you say that left hook is Whitey trickology?

 

EL RAHEEM

No, honky, you knocked me down. My sister hits harder than that. She's only eight.

(They wrestle until EL RAHEEM is on top. Then NETT breaks them apart)

 

OMAR

Why didn't you break it up while Whitey was on top?

 

MR. NETT

Listen, why don't you two guys call it quits—ain't none of you really gonna end up the winner ... Give it up ... be friends ... shake hands ... Come, break it up, you both got your shit off ... break it up. Go out and clean yourselves up. Make this the last time I see either of you fighting. On the gate. Next time I turn on the water.

(BROWN and NETT exit, gate closes.

The RICANS go to their table and begin to play on the table as if it were bongos)

 

ICE

You two got it together.

 

EL RAHEEM

I am God ... master and ruler of my universe ... I am always together.

 

OMAR

Let me ask you one question, God.

 

EL RAHEEM

You have permission to ask two.

 

OMAR

Thank you ... If you're God, why are you in jail? God can do anything, right? Melt these walls down, then create a stairway of light to the streets below ... God. If you're God, then you can do these things. If you can't, tell me why God can't do a simple thing like that.

 

EL RAHEEM

I am God ... I am a poor righteous teacher of almighty Allah and by his will I am here to awaken the original lost in these prisons ... Black original man is asleep ... This is your school of self-awareness. Wake up, black man, melt these walls? You ask me, a tangible god, to do an intangible feat? Mysterious intangible gods do mysterious intangible deeds. There is nothing mysterious about me. Tangible gods do tangible deeds.

(PUERTO RICAN GROUP goes back to playing. "Toca, si, va, tocar")

 

CUPCAKES

(On table, M.C.-style)

That's right, ladies and gentlemen ... damas y caballeros ... every night is Latin night at the House of Detention. Tonight for the first time ... direct from his record-breaking counsel visit ... on congas is Paco Pasqual ... yeaaaaaa. With a all-star band ... for your listening enjoyment ... Juan Bobo Otero on timbales ... On mouth organ Charles Murphy ... To show you the latest dancing are Iceman, John Wicker ... and his equally talented partner, Omar Blinker ... yeaaaaaa. While tapping his toes for you all ... moving his head to the rhythm of the band is the mighty El Raheem, yeaaaaaaa. Boooooooo. Yes, brothers and sisters, especially you sisters, don't miss this musical extravaganza. I'll be there, too ... to say hello to all my friends ... So be there ... Don't be the one to say "Gee, I missed it" ... This is your cha-cha jockey, Julio ...

 

ALL

Cupcakes ...

 

CUPCAKES

Mercado ... Be sure to be there ... Catch this act ... this show of shows before they leave on a long extended touring engagement with state ...

(PACO pinches CUPCAKES's ass)

Keep your hands off my ass, man.

(CUPCAKES moves stage left, sits pouting. Ad-libs)

 

PACO

Hey, kid, do one of those prison toasts ...

(They urge him on with various ad-libs)

 

CUPCAKES

All right, dig ... You guys gotta give me background ... Clap your hands and say ... Mambo tu le pop ... It was the night before Christmas ... and all through the pad ... cocaine and heroin was all the cats had. One cat in the corner ... copping a nod ... Another scratching thought he was God ... I jumps on the phone ... and dial with care ... hoping my reefer ... would soon be there ... After a while ... crowding my style ... I ran to the door ... see what's the matter ... And to my surprise ... I saw five police badges ... staring ... glaring in my eyes ... A couple of studs ... starts to get tough, so I ran to the bathroom ... get rid of the stuff ... narc bang ... bang ... but they banged in vain ... cause you see ... what didn't go in my veins went down the drain ... Broke down the door ... knock me to the floor ... and took me away, that's the way I spent my last Christmas Day ... like a dirty dog ... in a dark and dingy cell ... But I didn't care cause I was high as hell ... But I was cool ... I was cool ... I was cool ... You people are the fools ... cream of the top ... cause I got you say something as stupid as Mambo tu le pop.

(GROUP chases CUPCAKES around stage.

BROWN and CLARK DAVIS appear outside entrance gate)

 

BROWN

On the gate.

(Gate opens and CLARK DAVIS enters, goes to stage center. BROWN closes gate and exits)

 

CUPCAKES

Hey, Longshoe ... one of your kin ... look-a-like sin just walked in ...

 

EL RAHEEM

Another devil.

 

LONGSHOE

Hey ... hey, whatdayasay ... My name's Longshoe Charlie Murphy. Call me Longshoe. What's your name?

 

CLARK

Davis ... Clark ... Ah ... Clark Davis ... Clark is my first name.

 

PACO

Clark Kent.

 

CUPCAKES

Mild-mannered, too.

 

OMAR

No, no, Superman.

(Other ad-libs: "Faster than a speeding bullet," etc.)

 

PACO

Oye ... Shoe ... Está bueno ... Pa' rajalo ...

 

LONGSHOE

Back ... back ... boy ... no está bueno ... anyway, no mucho ... como Cupcake.

 

PACO

Vaya.

 

LONGSHOE

Pay them no mind ... crazy spies ... where you locking?

 

CLARK

Upper D 15.

 

LONGSHOE

Siberia, huh? ... Tough.

 

CLARK

First time in the joint.

 

LONGSHOE

Yeah? Well, I better hip you to what's happening fast.

 

ICE

Look out for your homey, Shoe.

 

OMAR

Second.

 

LONGSHOE

Look here, this is our section ... white ... dig? That's the Rican table, you can sit there if they give you permission ... Same goes with the black section.

 

ICE

Say it loud.

 

OMAR

I'm black and proud.

 

ICE

Vaya!

 

LONGSHOE

Most of the fellas are in court. I'm the Don Gee here. Youknow what that mean, right? Good ... Niggers and the spics don't give us honkies much trouble. We're cool half ass. This is a good floor. Dynamite hack on all shifts. Stay away from the black gods ...

(NETT appears outside gate)

 

NETT

On the gate.

 

LONGSHOE

 

You know them when you see them.

(NETT opens gate and enters)

 

NETT

On the chow.

 

ICE

What we got, Mr. Nett?

 

NETT

Baloney à la carte.

 

ICE

Shit, welfare steaks again.

(All exit except CLARK and LONGSHOE. Gate stays open. The men reenter with sandwiches and return to their respective places.

NETT closes gate and exits)

 

LONGSHOE

Black go on the front of the line, we stay in the back ... It's okay to rap with the blacks, but don't get too close with any of them. Ricans too. We're the minority here, so be cool. If you hate yams, keep it to yourself. Don't show it.But also don't let them run over you. Ricans are funny people. Took me a long time to figure them out, and you know something, I found out that I still have a lot to learn about them. I rap spic talk. They get a big-brother attitude about the whites in jail. But they also back the niggers to the T.

 

ICE

 

(Throws LONGSHOE a sandwich)

Hey, Shoe.

 

LONGSHOE

If a spic pulls a razor blade on you and you don't have a mop wringer in your hands ... run ... If you have static with a nigger and they ain't no white people around ... get a spic to watch your back, you may have a chance ... That ain't no guarantee ... If you have static with a spic, don't get no nigger to watch your back cause you ain't gonna have none.

 

OMAR

You can say that again.

 

ICE

Two times.

 

LONGSHOE

You're a good-looking kid ... You ain't stuff and you don't want to be stuff. Stay away from the bandidos. Paco is one of them ... Take no gifts from no one.

(NETT appears outside entrance gate)

 

NETT

Clark Davis ... Davis.

 

CLARK

Yes, that's me.

 

NETT

On the gate.

(NETT opens gate, enters with CLARK's belongings, leaves gate open)

Come here ... come here ... white trash ... filth ... Let me tell you something and you better listen good cause I'm only going to say it one time ... and one time only. This is a nice floor ... a quiet floor ... There has never been too much trouble on this floor ... With you, I smell trouble ... I don't question the warden's or the captain's motive for putting you on this floor ... But for once I'm gonna ask why they put a sick fucking degenerate like you on my floor ... If you just talk out the side of your mouth one time ... if you look at me sideways one time ... if you mispronounce my name once, if you pick up more food than you can eat ... if you call me for something I think is unnecessary ... if you oversleep, undersleep ... if ... if ... if ... you give me just one little reason ... I'm gonna break your face up so bad your own mother won't know you ...

 

LONGSHOE

Mr. Nett is being kinda hard ...

 

NETT

Shut up ... I got a eight-year-old daughter who was molested by one of those bastards ... stinking sons of bitches and I just as well pretend that he was you, Davis, do you understand that ...

 

PACO

Short eyes.

 

LONGSHOE

Short eyes? Short eyes ... Clark, are you one of those short-eyes freaks ... are you a short-eyes freak?

 

NETT

Sit down, Murphy ... I'm talking to this ... this scumbag ... yeah, he's a child rapist ... a baby rapist, how old was she? How old? ... Eight ... seven ... Disgusting bastard ... Stay out of my sight ... cause if you get in my face just one time ... don't forget what I told you ... I'll take a night stick and ram it clean up your asshole ... I hope to God that they take you off this floor, or send you to Sing Sing ... The men up there know what to do with degenerates like you.

 

CLARK

I ... I ...

 

NETT

All right, let's go ... Lock in ... lock in ... for the count ... Clark, the captain outside on the bridge wants to see you. I hope he takes you off this floor ...

 

LONGSHOE

Hey, Davis ... (Walks up to him and spits in his face. Men exit)

 

NETT

Juan, stay out and clean the dayroom. Omar, take the tier. (CAPTAIN ALLARD appears on the catwalk above. CLARK joins ALLARD and they carry on inaudible conversation.

Crossing from stage right to stage left on the catwalkare CUPCAKES, ICE, and LONGSHOE, followed by MR. BROWN. As LONGSHOE passes, he bumps CLARK.

MR. BROWN stops beside CLARK, and CAPTAIN ALLARD chases after LONGSHOE to catwalk above left)

 

ALLARD

Hey, just a minute, you. That's just the kind of stuff that's going to cease.

(BROWN and CLARK exit catwalk above right and appear at entrance gate stage right)

 

BROWN

On the gate.

(BROWN opens gate, CLARK enters dayroom, BROWN closes gate. CLARK says something inaudible to BROWN)

You're lucky if you get a call before Christmas.

(BROWN exits. CLARK leans on gate)

 

LONGSHOE

Get off that fuckin' gate.

(While the above was going on, JUAN has taken his cleaning equipment from the shower upstage left and placed can of Ajax and rag on the toilet area upstage center, and broom, mop, bucket, dustpan, dust broom, dust box in downstage left corner. JUAN sits at table, CLARK at window. JUAN pours coffee, offers CLARK a sandwich. CLARK crosses to table and sits)

 

JUAN

Hey, man, did you really do it?

(OMAR starts chant offstage)

 

CLARK

I don't know.

 

JUAN

What do you mean, you don't know? What you think I am, a fool, or something out of a comic book.

 

CLARK

No ... I don't mean to sound like that, I ... I ...

 

JUAN

Look, man, either you did it or you didn't.

(JUAN stands)

That all there is to it ...

 

CLARK

I don't know if I did it or not.

 

JUAN

You better break that down to me (Sits) cause you lost me.

 

CLARK

What I mean is that I may have done it or I may not have ... I just don't remember ... I remember seeing that little girl that morning ... I sat in Bellevue thirty-three days and I don't remember doing anything like that to that little girl.

 

JUAN

You done something like that before, haven't you?

 

CLARK

I ... ye ... yes ... I have ... How did you know?

 

JUAN

Your guilt flies off your tongue, man.

(Stands) Sound like one of those guys in an encounter session (Starts to sweep) looking to dump their shit off on someone ... You need help ... The bad part about it is that you know it ...

 

CLARK

Help? I need help? Yes ... yes, I do need help ... But I'm afraid to find it ... Why? ... Fear ... just fear ... Perhaps fear of knowing that I may be put away forever ... I have a wife and kid I love very much ... and I want to be with them. I don't ever want to be away from them ... ever. But now this thing has happened ... I don't know what to do ... I don't know ... If I fight it in court, they'll end up getting hurt ... If I don't, it'll be the same thing ... Jesus help me ... God forgive me.

 

JUAN

Cause man won't.

(JUAN at downstage left corner sweeping up dust)

 

CLARK

No, man won't ... Society will never forgive me ... or accept me back once this is openly known.

(JUAN begins to stack chairs stage right. CLARK hands JUAN a chair)

I think about it sometimes and ... funny, I don't really feel disgusted ... just ashamed ... You wanna ...

 

JUAN

Listen to you? It's up to you ... You got a half hour before the floor locks out unless you wanna go public like A.A.

(JUAN picks up stool)

 

CLARK

No ... no ... no ... I can't ... I didn't even talk with the psychiatrist in the bughouse.

 

JUAN

Run it ...

(JUAN puts down stool)

 

CLARK

You know, somehow it seems like there's no beginning. Seems like I've always been in there all my life. I have like little picture incidents running across my mind ... I remember being ... fifteen or sixteen years old

(JUAN crosses upstage center to clean toilet)

or something around that age, waking up to the sound of voices coming from the living room ... cartoons on the TV ... They were watching cartoons on the TV, two little girls. One was my sister, and her friend ... And you know how it is when you get up in the morning, the inevitable hard-on is getting up with you. I draped the sheet around my shoulders ... Everyone else was sleeping ... The girl watching TV with my sister ... yes ... Hispanic ... pale-looking skin ... She was eight ... nine ... ten ... what the difference, she was a child ... She was very pretty—high cheekbones, flashing black eyes ... She was wearing blue short pants ... tight-fitting ... a white blouse, or shirt ... My sister ... she left to do number two ...

(JUAN returns to stage right)

She told her friend wait for me, I'm going to do number two, and they laughed about it. I sneaked in standing a little behind her ... She felt me standing there and turned to me ... She smiled such a pretty little smile ... I told her I was a vampire and she laughed ... I spread the sheets apart and she suddenly stopped laughing ... She just stood there staring at me ... Shocked? surprised? intrigued? Don't know ... don't know ... She just stood and stared ...

(JUAN crosses to downstage left)

I came closer like a vampire ... She started backing away ... ran toward the door ... stopped, looked at me again. Never at my face ... my body ... I couldn't really tell whether or not the look on her face was one of fear ... but I'll never forget that look.

(BROWN crosses on catwalk from left to right with a banana. Stands at right)

I was really scared that she'd tell her parents. Weeks passed without confrontation ... and I was feeling less and less afraid ... But that's not my thing, showing myself naked to little girls in schoolyards.

(JUAN crosses to downstage right corner and begins to mop from downstage right to downstage left)

One time ... no, it was the first time ... the very first time. I was alone watching TV ... Was I in school or out ... And there was this little Puerto Rican girl from next door ... Her father was the new janitor ... I had seen her before ... many times ... sliding down the banister ... Always her panties looked dirty ... She was ... oh, why do I always try to make their age higher than it really was ... even to myself. She was young, much too young ... Why did she come there? For who? Hundred questions. Not one small answer ... not even a lie flickers across my brain.

 

OFFSTAGE VOICE

All right, listen up. The following inmates report for sanitation duty: Smalls, Gary; Medena, James; Pfeifer,Willis; Martinez, Raul. Report to C.O. grounds for sanitation duty.

 

CLARK

How did I get to the bathroom with her? Don't know. I was standing there with her, I was combing her hair. I was combing her hair. Her curly reddish hair ... (JUAN crosses upstage right, starts to mop upstage right to upstage left)

I was naked ... naked ... except for these flower-printed cotton underwears ... No slippers, barefooted ... Suddenly I get this feeling over me ... like a flash fever ... and I'm hard ... I placed my hands on her small shoulders ... and pressed her hand and placed it on my penis ... Did she know what to do? Or did I coerce her? I pulled down my drawers ... But then I felt too naked, so I put them back on ... My eyes were closed ... but I felt as if there was this giant eye off in space staring at me ...

(JUAN stops upstage left and listens to CLARK, who is unaware JUAN is in back of him)

I opened them and saw her staring at me in the cabinet mirror. I pulled her back away from the view of the mirror ... My hands up her dress, feeling her underdeveloped body ... I ... I ... I began pulling her underwear down on the bowl ... She resisted ... slightly, just a moment ... I sat on the bowl ... She turned and threw her arms around my neck and kissed me on the lips ... She gave a small nervous giggle ... I couldn't look at her ... I closed my eyes ... turned her body ... to face away from me ... I lubricated myself ... and ... I hear a scream, my own ... there was a spot of blood on my drawers ... I took them off right then and there ... ripped them up and flushedthem down the toilet ... She had dressed herself up and asked me if we could do it again tomorrow ... and was I her boyfriend now ... I said yes, yes ...

(JUAN goes to center stage, starts mopping center stage right to stage left.

BROWN exits from catwalk above right)

I couldn't sit still that whole morning, I just couldn't relax. I dressed and took a walk ... Next thing I know I was running—out of breath ... I had run over twenty blocks ... twenty blocks blind ... without knowing ... I was running ... Juan, was it my conscious or subconscious that my rest stop was a children's playground ... Coincidence perhaps ... But why did I run in that direction, no, better still, why did I start walking in that direction ... Coincidence? Why didn't my breath give out elsewhere ... Coincidence?

(JUAN moves to downstage left, CLARK moves to upstage center and sits on window ledge)

I sat on the park bench and watched the little girls swing ... slide ... run ... jump rope ... Fat ... skinny ... black ... white ... Chinese ... I sat there until the next morning ... The next day I went home and met the little Puerto Rican girl again ... Almost three times a week ... The rest of the time I would be in the playground or in the children's section of the movies ... But you know something? Er, er ...

(CLARK moves toward JUAN, who is in downstage left corner)

 

JUAN

Juan.

 

CLARK

Yes, Juan ... Juan the listener ... the compassionate ... you know something, Juan ... I soon became ... became ... what? A pro? A professional degenerate? (The sound of garbage cans banging together is heard offstage)

I don't know if you can call it a second insight on children. But ... I would go to the park ... and sit there for hours and talk with a little girl and know if I would do it or not with her ... Just a few words was all needed ... Talk stupid things they consider grownup talk ... Soon my hand would hold hers, then I would caress her face ... Next her thighs ... under their dress ... I never took any of them home or drove away with them in my car ... I always told them to meet me in the very same building they lived in ...

 

OFFSTAGE VOICE

On the sanitation gate.

(Sound of gate opening)

 

CLARK

On the roof or their basements under the stairs ... Sometimes in their own home if the parents were out ... The easiest ones were the Puerto Ricans and the black girls ... Little white ones would masturbate you right there in the park for a dollar or a quarter ... depending on how much emphasis their parents put in their heads on making money ... I felt ashamed at first ... But then I would rehearse at nights what to do the next time ... planning ... I

(JUAN starts moving slowly from downstage left to upstage left)

couldn't help myself ... I couldn't help myself ... Something drove me to it ... I thought of killing myself ... but I just couldn't go through with it ... I don'treally wanna die ... I wanted to stop, really I did ... I just didn't know how. I thought maybe I was crazy ... but I read all types of psychology books ... I heard or read somewhere that crazy people can't distinguish right from wrong ... Yet I can ... I know what's right and I know what I'm doing is wrong, yet I can't stop myself ...

 

JUAN

Why didn't you go to the police or a psychiatrist ...

(JUAN crosses to shower room upstage left)

 

CLARK

I wanted to many a time ... But I know that the police would find some pretext to kill me ... And a psychiatrist ... well, if he thought he couldn't help me he'd turn me over to them or commit me to some nut ward ... Juan, try to understand me.

(JUAN comes out of shower room and starts putting away his cleaning equipment)

 

JUAN

Motherfucker, try to understand you ... if I wasn't trying to, I would have killed you ... stone dead, punk ... (JUAN, at downstage left corner, picks up broom and bucket)

The minute you said that thing about the Rican girls ...

If I was you I'd ask transfer to protection ... cause

(JUAN returns to shower room)

if you remain on this floor you're asking to die ... You'll be committing involuntary suicide ...

(JUAN again crosses to downstage left corner, picks up remaining equipment, crosses to toilet, picks up Ajax and rag, and crosses to shower room)

Shit, why the fuck did you have to tell me all of it ... You don't know me from Adam ...

(JUAN comes out of shower room and crosses to CLARK, stage center)

Why the hell did you have to make me your father confessor? Why? Why didn't you stop, why?

 

CLARK

Cause you asked. Cause you ... What I told you I didn't even tell the doctors at the observation ward ... Everything is coming down on me so fast ... I needed to tell it all ... to someone ... Juan, you were willing to listen.

(Whistle blows)

 

MR. NETT

(Offstage)

All right, on the lockout ...

(Whistle)

 

OTHER VOICES

On the lockout.

(BROWN appears outside the gate)

 

BROWN

On the gate.

(Enter EL RAHEEM, PACO, OMAR, ICE, CUPCAKES, and LONGSHOE. BROWN closes gate and exits. ICE and OMAR get one chair and cross to table. OMAR starts playing cards.

LONGSHOE gets his stool and crosses to behind table.

CUPCAKES does push-ups on chair stage right)

 

ICE

You're gonna be on the help for good, Omar.

 

OMAR

No, the man said just for today ... But he put me on top of the list.

 

ICE

You gonna look out for me, heavy homeeeeey?

 

OMAR

Since when did we become homeeeeeys? Shit, man—you're way out there in Coney Island somewhere ... and I'm way in Bed-Stuy.

 

ICE

How you gonna show, brother man? It's the same borough, ain't it?

 

OMAR

It's the same borough, Iceman ... but it's a different world.

 

ICE

Ain't this a bitch? I comes on this here floor with this man ... There was nothing but Whiteys on the floor. It was me and him against the world ... I come out every night and stand by his side, ready to die ... to die ...

 

PACO

Yeah, cause you no wanna die alone.

 

ICE

That has nothing to do with nothing.

 

OMAR

It has everything to do with everything.

 

ICE

How you going to show? How you do this to me, Omar, homey.

 

OMAR

Being how you mentioned it, perhaps it's not a bad idea. Save me some money when you go to the store.

 

ICE

I ain't gonna argue that ... cause this is me, the Iceman, talking—my hand don't call for this type of talking, man. Your main mellow-man, this is too strong ... Contracts ...

 

OMAR

Who said anything about contract? I didn't say anything about contract ... Anybody here said anything about a contract? ...

 

CUPCAKES

I didn't hear anybody say anything ... I didn't say it.

 

PACO

Me neither ...

 

LONGSHOE

Who could say anything with a swollen lip.

 

JUAN

I mind my own business.

 

OMAR

See, you must be hearing things.

 

ICE

You didn't say it ... but you implied it ... You was leading right up to it.

 

OMAR

Well, now that you mentioned it ... perhaps it's not a bad idea ...

 

ICE

How you gonna do this to me? Omarrrrr ... homeeey ...

 

OMAR

Did it to yourself ... You knew I'd always look out ... but now you put these ideas into my head ... and it sounds kinda ...

 

ICE

Omar ... my pretty nigger ... even if you get no bigger, you'll always be my main nigger ... And if you get any bigger, you'll just be my bigger nigger ...

 

OMAR

Better run that shit on the judge ... You know what you can do for me ... give me a softshoe.

 

ICE

Yes sir, boss, captain, your honor, mister, sir.

(Fast softshoe)

 

OMAR

Hey, freak.

(To CLARK)

You're sittin' on my Chinese handball court ...

(CLARK moves to upstage right)

 

ICE

That there is where I hangs my wet clean clothes ... and I don't wanna have them sprayed. Move ... creep.

(CLARK moves to stage center)

 

EL RAHEEM

You're in God's walking space.

(CLARK moves to lower stage right)

 

PACO

That's Paco's walking space.

 

CUPCAKES

Hey, Clark ... that spot's not taken ... Right over there ... Yeah, that's right ... The whole toilet bowl and you go well together.

 

CLARK

I'm not going to stand for this treatment.

 

PACO

Did you say something out of your mouth, creep ...

 

OMAR

You talking to everyone, or to someone in particular?

 

LONGSHOE

I know you ain't talking to me.

 

ICE

You got something you wanna say to someone in this room, faggot?

 

CLARK

I was talking to myself.

 

EL RAHEEM

Well, don't talk to yourself too loud.

 

CUPCAKES

Talk to the shitbowl ... You'll find you got a lot in common with each other ...

 

JUAN

Drop it ... Cut it loose ...

PACO

¿Donde está La Mancha? ... or did Sancho go to another floor? ...

 

JUAN

Poco ... one of these days you gonna get me very very angry.

 

PACO

I'm trembling, man ... whooo, I'm scared ... Can't you smell it, I'm shitting bricks ...

 

ICE

Juan ... be cool ... don't know why you wanna put front for that freak ... But, man ... if you don't wanna vamp ... don't go against your own people ... You be wrong, man ...

 

JUAN

Ain't going against my own brother man ... But if the dude is a sicky ... cut him loose ... All that ain't necessary ... Ice.

 

ICE

It ain't your place, Juan, and you know it ... You're out of time ...

 

PACO

I think he has a special interest.

 

ICE

Don't come out of your face wrong, Paco.

 

PACO

Ice.

 

ICE

You're interrupting me, Paco ... Me and you both know where you're coming from ... Don't make me put your shit in the streets ... And, Juan, you know you're out of order. This ain't your turn, man ...

 

CUPCAKES

Let's go do up them clothes, Juan.

 

JUAN

Yeah. O.K., kid ... go get the buckets ... I'll be down the tier.

(BROWN appears outside gate)

 

CUPCAKES

On the gate.

 

BROWN

On the gate.

(BROWN opens gate and CUPCAKES and JUAN exit. BROWN closes gate and exits)

 

PACO

Man thinks he El grande Pingú ...

 

ICE

Squash it ...

 

LONGSHOE

(Goes over to toilet, where CLARK is)

Hey, man ... don't leave. I want you to hold it for me ... while I pee.

 

CLARK

What ... wha ...

 

LONGSHOE

I want you to hold my motherfucking dick while I pee, sucker, so I don't get my hands wet ...

(Laughter)

Well?

 

CLARK

No ... no ... I can't do that ...

 

LONGSHOE

Oh. You can't do that ... but you can rape seven-year-old girls.

 

CLARK

I didn't rape anybody. I didn't do anything.

 

LONGSHOE

Shut up, punk.

(Pushes CLARK's chest)

What's this—smokes.

 

CLARK

They're all I have ... but you're welcome to some.

 

LONGSHOE

Some? I'm welcome to all of them, creep.

 

CLARK

What about me?

 

LONGSHOE

What about you?

 

CLARK

They're all I have.

 

LONGSHOE

Kick.

 

CLARK

But ...

 

ICE

Kick, motherfucker, kick.

 

LONGSHOE

Kick ... hey, let me see that chain ... gold ...

 

CLARK

Yes.

 

LONGSHOE

How many carats?

 

CLARK

Fourteen.

 

ICE

Damn, Shoe ... if you gonna take the chain, take the chain.

 

LONGSHOE

I ... me ... take ... Who said anything about taking anything. That would be stealing and that's dishonest, ain't it, Clarky baby ... You wanna give that chain, don't you ... After all, we're both white and we got to look out for one another. Ain't that true, Clarky baby ... You gonna be real white about the whole thing, aren't you, Clarky baby.

 

CLARK

It's a gift from my mother.

 

ALL

Ohhh.

 

LONGSHOE

I didn't know you had a mother ... I didn't think human beings gave birth to dogs, too.

 

OMAR

Looks like the freak ain't upping the chain, Shoe.

 

LONGSHOE

Oh man, Clarky baby, how you gonna show in front of these people? You want them to think we're that untogether? What are you trying to say, man? You mean to stand there in your nice cheap summer suit looking very white and deny my whiteness by refusing to share a gift with me? That totally uncool ... You're insulting me, man.

 

OMAR

Man's trying to say that you're not white enough.

 

LONGSHOE

You're trying to put a wire out on me, creep?

 

OMAR

Man saying you're a nigger-lover.

 

LONGSHOE

You saying that I'm a quadroon?

 

EL RAHEEM

What? Freak, did you say that devil has some royal Congo blood in his veins?

 

ICE

I ain't got nothin' to do with it, Shoe, but I swore I heard the freak say that you were passing, Shoe.

 

CLARK

I didn't say that ... I didn't say anything.

 

ICE

You calling me a liar.

 

CLARK

No, no ... no.

 

LONGSHOE

 

Then you did say it?

(They all push CLARK around)

 

CLARK

Please, please, here, take this chain, leave me alone.

 

ICE

(Yanks chain from around neck)

Pick the motherfucking chain up, freak.

 

EL RAHEEM

That's right ... You tell that man he ain't good enough to talk to.

 

LONGSHOE

First I'm a nigger-lover ... then a quadroon ... Now I'm not even good enough to talk to.

 

EL RAHEEM

Boy, I told you about being in God's walking space, didn't I?

 

ICE

You better answer God when he speaks, boy.

 

LONGSHOE

Don't you turn your back on me, motherfucker.

(Strikes CLARK. He falls against EL RAHEEM, who hits him too.

 

OMAR begins kicking him.

MR. NETT appears outside gate)

 

MR. NETT

On the gate.

(NETT opens gate, enters)

 

OMAR

Mr. Nett.

 

EL RAHEEM

Mr. Nett, Mr. Nett, the man started a fight with Omar and we just broke it up.

 

ICE

That's right, Mr. Nett.

 

MR. NETT

You guys shouldn't whip his face. Omar, you are on the help permanently. The Torres brothers beat their case this morning.

 

OMAR

Right on ... Bet them two are high as all hell by now.

 

MR. NETT.

Yeah, and they'll be back, mark my words ... Listen, get this man off the floor ... You guys know the rules ... No sleeping on the floor.

(MR. NETT closes gate and exits)

 

ICE

You guys oughta learn how to touch up a dude.

 

OMAR

I'll get a bucket of water.

 

LONGSHOE

Fuck the bucket of water, Omar. Put the sucker's head in the toilet bowl. There's water there.

 

EL RAHEEM

He's still a devil ... I won't do that to no man.

 

LONGSHOE

We could get it on again.

 

EL RAHEEM

That don't present me no problems ...

 

ICE

Squash it, man ... both of you ...

 

LONGSHOE

Come on, Omar, grab his other side ...

 

OMAR

Hey, there's still piss in there.

 

LONGSHOE

Put his head in and I'll flush it.

 

EL RAHEEM

Omar ... let me put his head in there and you flush it.

 

LONGSHOE

Makes me no difference ... flush the motherfucker, Omar.

(OMAR, LONGSHOE, PACO pick up CLARK to put his head in toilet bowl. They use him as a ramrod, making three runs at the toilet, CLARK screaming. On third ram, toilet is flushed, and lights fade)

Copyright © 1974, 1975 by Miguel Piñero Introduction copyright © 1975 by Marvin Felix Camillo

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2006

    an awesome play

    i finished reading this play the same day i bought it. i really like his work and i encourage all to read it. peace.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2003

    A play that grabs the reader emotionally.

    The play ¿Short Eyes¿ is a powerfully told truth about prison life. The setting takes place in the day room of a House of Detention. The cast of actors are mostly made up of Blacks, Puerto Ricans and a few Whites. They are young convicts. They exchange taunts, fighting & insults just to keep their sanity intact, and some sense of a community. An accused child molester is brought into the cellblock. He is called a degenerate by a guard. A child molester (or in prison slang a ¿short eyes¿) is considered the most despicable of people. Mr. Pinero, while serving a five year sentence for armed robbery in Sing Sing Prison, started writing the play. Marvin Felix Camillo read some of Miguel¿s work and asked him to sign up in his drama workshop in the prison. This was a workshop for convicts interested in writing and acting. Miguel was encouraged to write plays. The drama work shop evolved into an acting company called The Family. Joseph Papp produced the play ¿Short Eyes¿ at the Lincoln Center in New York City. Short Eyes won the best American play of 1973 & 74 by the New York drama critics circle award. Miguel Pinero¿s play ¿Short Eyes¿ is straight on! It doesn¿t pull any punches. It holds back absolutely nothing on life in jail.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2002

    This Book DA BOMB!!

    Man, this play is just too kool! I really dig the way this Miguel cat got down with the freaks, baby. Junkies, whores, liars, stone cold killers, East Side of New York! Hell, I thought it was Washington D.C. This Miguel dude was defintely a dude for all seasons.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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