getting the ax
a play by jake edleman
I met Jake at the house of friends.  I knew he was a writer
because I had been told this and we were introduced and the
conversation began and 7 words into the conversation I said
to myself: he is a writer.

I also pictured him operating a good neighborhood deli but it
was the notion of the writing that got the nod--that seemed a
more intuitive fit.

We became friendly and met for breakfast at the farmers
market from time to time and at some point I was invited to
attend a play.

It’s a tentative moment when you are obliged to attend for
the first time some artistic function involving a friend—a play,
film, music gig, performance art type event, etc, and why?
Because the first thought to pop into your head is: I hope this
doesnt suck.

I attended the play with a mutual friend and standing outside
the theater, a storefront on Robertson in Beverly Hills, and
that was the thought—I hope this doesn’t suck--we found
ourselves both thinking.

Our fears were misplaced. The play was clever, offbeat,
funny. It was entertaining. Entertainment is important. At
some point in life, and I have arrived there, you become hard
to entertain. You have been entertained enough. But on this
night I was entertained.

I wont describe the plot because there is no plot. Its one act,
2 people in a room—a writer and hooker. The writer is a
Salmon Rushdie type, if you recall that story, holed up in this
room on the lam from an Islamic hit squad, for two years now
and among other things in desperate need of some pussy---
that the bodyguards have decided to spring for—a birthday
present.  Thats the pitch.

Somehow the sex takes a back seat to the writers problems,
and they are many, self pity at the top of the list and he and
the hooker go back and forth about all this garbage he has
flying around inside his head and never do manage to get it
on. At the end she convinces him that squirreling himself
away inside this room for 2 years now is long enough, a cop
out,  he doesnt need pussy, hes being a pussy, etc, etc.

So went the play. It was short, tight and, as I say,funny.

The play over my friend and I stood outside on the street and
I looked at her and she at me and we said: it didnt suck!
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portrait of jake
GETTING THE AXE



(The Oval Office of the White House.  GEORGE W. BUSH is conferring
with KARL ROVE.)

              BUSH
You sure I gotta do this?  I mean, I go back a long way with the guy.

              ROVE
Absolutely necessary, Mr. President.  Your  approval ratings are in the
toilet.  Somebody’s gotta  take the fall, and let’s face it, he hasn’t
pulled his weight in a long time.

              BUSH
Yeah, but he used to be my go-to guy.  I don’t know if I’d ever got
elected without him.

              ROVE
That was then, Sir.    Politics is a contact sport.  There’s no room for
sentiment.

              BUSH
You think he’ll take it all right?  He’s pretty sensitive, you know,
underneath it all.

              ROVE
He’s a pro.  Trust me, he knows how to take one for the team.

              BUSH
Yeah, but I hate this part of the job.  Ol’ Hairy Ass Meyers took it like a
man, but it hurt me to pull the plug on her.

              ROVE
We could ask the Vice President to do it, Sir.  I’m sure he would.

              BUSH
Shit, I know he would.  Big Dick gets off on cannin’ people.  Hell,  he’d
shoot ‘im.  Heh, heh.

              ROVE
Considering the situation though, it’s probably be better if you do it
yourself.

              BUSH
When you’re right, you’re right.  And you’re always right, Turdblossom.

              ROVE
Thank you, Mr. President.  He’s waiting in the vestibule.  Anytime you’
re ready.


              BUSH
Might as well get it over with.  Times like this, I want to take a shot of
bourbon.

              ROVE
Not advisable, Sir.

              BUSH
Yeah.  Slippery slope.  Heh, heh.

              ROVE
(Rises)
I’ll wait outside.

              BUSH
Hey, what if I give him the Medal of Freedom!  We got any of those  
layin’ around?

              ROVE
I’ll go  look.

(ROVE exits.  BUSH fidgets, presses the intercom on the desk.)

              BUSH
Okay, Carlota, send him in.

(JESUS CHRIST enters, dressed in his customary robe and sandals.  
BUSH rises to greet him.)

              BUSH
Jaycee, how ya doin’!

              JESUS
It’s good to see you again, Mr. President.

              BUSH
(Showing JESUS to a seat)
Hey, Mr. President’s my Dad!  I’m Dubya, or 43, okay?

              JESUS
I feel more comfortable with Mr. President, if you don’t mind.  Decorum
and all that.

              BUSH
Heck, call me what you want, just don’t call me late for the Rapture.  
Heh heh.
Laura makes sure I always wear clean underwear, y’know, just in case.

              JESUS
It’s always wise to be prepared.

              BUSH
Heh, heh, I’m kiddin’.  Get you some coffee? Little vino?  You’re a
sparklin’ water guy, right?

              JESUS
I’m fine.

              BUSH
You know, Jaycee, I always thought the two of us had a lot in common.

              JESUS
Is that so?

              BUSH
I mean, you know, we both kinda got where we are cuz of our Dads.  
But, heck, a lot’s on account of our own hard work and personal
charisma.

              JESUS
I see what you mean.

              BUSH
And like me, you’re a uniter, not a divider.

              JESUS
Well, I like to think I am.

              BUSH
Absolutely.  Yessir, you’re doin’ a heckuva job, Jaycee.

              JESUS
Looking at the world, I sometimes wonder…

              BUSH
Hey, you’ve done wonders.  Especially gettin’ all your people to the
polls in Ohio.

              JESUS
Actually, I had very little to do with that.

              BUSH
Don’t be so modest.    I know you work your tail off.  That’s what I
wanted to talk to you about.

              JESUS
Oh?

              BUSH
Yeah, fact is, we think you earned the right to kick back a little.  You
know, spend more time with your family.

              JESUS
All mankind is my family.

              BUSH
That’s right, so I reckon you’re gonna need a lot of time.

              JESUS
I’m not sure I follow you, Mr. President.

              BUSH
Let me put it this way.  You like baseball, Jaycee?

              JESUS
I don’t really follow the sport.

              BUSH
Well, you see, sometimes a player’ll get into a slump.  And the
manager, see, he has to take him out of the lineup. Sometimes even
send him down to the minors.  For the good of the team.

              JESUS
I take it this is a parable, Mr. President.

              BUSH
Somethin’ like that, yeah.  You see, Jaycee,  next to Big Dick and
Rummy – and me, of course, heh, heh -- you’re probably the most high
profile figure in my Administration.

              JESUS
Technically, I’m not a member of your Administration.

`                                BUSH
Right!  Separation of church and state. Wink, wink.  Heh, heh.  But
seriously, lately we’ve been catchin’ a crapload o’ flak , and fair or not,
a lot of folks think it’s on account of you.

              JESUS
Me?  But what have I done to hurt your Administration?

              BUSH
For starters, there’s the war.  You might have noticed, things in Iraq
aren’t goin’ so well.  I mean, folks might get the wrong idea Allah’s
stronger than you, or somethin’.

              JESUS
But I am against war.   Have I not taught, Blessed are the
peacemakers?

              BUSH
Heh, heh, this is the real world, big guy!   We can’t let a bunch o’
pissant ragheads push us around.  Force is all those maniacs
understand.  Shoot, you ought to know, you used to live in that part of
the world.

              JESUS
And I say now, even as I said then, turn ye the other cheek.

              BUSH
Lemme explain somethin’, Jaycee. We can’t appease evildoers.  That
would be appeasement.  Come on, righteous Christian nations used to
kick major league butt!  Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, you
know?

              JESUS
Have you forgotten my Word?  Love thy enemy.

              BUSH
But we do!  We love ‘em to death!  See, they all wanna die, so they can
go to Islamicistic heaven.  So we’re doin’ ‘em a big favor, see, by killin’
‘em.

              JESUS
Is that what you have made of my Holy Doctrine?

              BUSH
Hey, don’t get me wrong, Jaycee.  I’m as fundamentalist as the next
guy.  But if you want to be successful, you gotta adapt to changin’ times.

              JESUS
Could you be more specific?

              BUSH
For one thing, your marketing strategy’s way out of date.

              JESUS
My -- marketing strategy?

              BUSH
You gotta be more competitive.  Look, the bad guys have this great
incentive plan , to get folks to sign up with their program.

              JESUS
As do I -- the reward of Heaven and eternal life.

              BUSH
Yeah, but the Mohamedistas, they get 70 odd virgins!  Now that’s one
heck of an incentive, you gotta admit.

              JESUS
You want me to promise -- virgins.

              BUSH
For defending freedom, why not?  Look, all you gotta do is up the ante
-- maybe 80 say, or even a hundred – we’d be gettin’ A-rab converts in
droves.  Talk about winnin’ hearts and minds!  They’re some horny
dudes over there, not to mention what it would do for army recruiting
here.

              JESUS
A very creative suggestion, Mr. President.  But I prefer the old way.

              BUSH
No offense, but that’s your problem.  Like Rummy says, you think way
too inside the box.

              JESUS
Mea culpa.

              BUSH
But, hey, you don’t want to support our troops, that’s your pejorative.  
You got pacifistic principles.   I can respect that.  But what about that
Katrina bidness!   Gimme a break!   I mean, what were you thinkin’?

              JESUS
Am I to blame for that?

      BUSH
Well, duh – hurricanes are considered an Act of God!

              JESUS
But what of the defective levees that gave way so easily?  You had
warning after warning.

              BUSH
Do the math, Jaycee.  Crappy levees MINUS Katrina equals happy black
folks on Bourbon Street.  Crappy levees PLUS Katrina equals P.R.
disaster for my Administration.

              JESUS
P.R. disaster…

              BUSH
Made me look bad.  It was embarrassin’, damn it.

              JESUS
I’m sorry – you looked bad.

              BUSH
The Democrats had a field day.  And the media crucified me!  You got
any idea what that feels like?

(JESUS looks at audience and shakes his head.)

All I do anymore is bust my butt tryin’ to fix my image.  I hate that.  It
ain’t my game, playin’ defense all the time.

              JESUS
I truly feel your pain.

              BUSH
Well, that’s water under the bridge.  Or through the levee, whatever.  
Bottom line, we decided it’s time to make a change.

              JESUS
I see.  You are turning away from me.

              BUSH
I wouldn’t put it that way.  This isn’t personal.  We’re just movin’ in a
different direction, that’s all.

              JESUS
I understand.

              BUSH
Hey, no hard feelin’s, right, amigo?

              JESUS
I’ve had worse betrayals.

              BUSH
There you go.  Hey, you’re gonna find lots of great opportunities in the
private sector.  Non-profits, lobbyin’.  Time you got paid what you’re
worth.

              JESUS
I’ll make do.  But are you sure that you’re doing the right thing?


              BUSH
Well, we reckon it won’t go down easy in some of the Red States.  But
push comes to shove, they’ll stick with us.  I mean, what -- they gonna
vote for gay marriage and killin’ unborn babies?  I don’t think so.

              JESUS
That’s not what I meant.  You said you were moving in a  -- different
direction?

               BUSH
Whoa – not Satan, if that’s what you’re thinkin’!  Heh, heh, we ain’t
liberals!  No, my new guy’s the whole package -- fantastic management
skills, great ideas, the vision thing.  It’s all in this book he wrote.
(Picks up book, gives it to JESUS)
Condie turned me on to it.

              JESUS
Oh, my God.  Dianetics?

              BUSH
The Bible’s the Good Book, but that’s a great book!

              JESUS
But – Scientology?  L. Ron Hubbard?

              BUSH
I  call him Ol’ Mother Hubbard, for short. Heh, heh.  L. Ron’s a little too
close for comfort to that Texas company I had nothin’ to do with.

              JESUS
But he died years ago!

              BUSH
No offense, big guy, but you died years ago, too, and nobody holds it
against ya.

              JESUS
But on the third day I rose from the tomb.

              BUSH
All respect, maybe you didn’t corner the market on resurrections.  Fact
is, according to my intelligence reports, Ol’ Mother’s alive and well and
living in-cog-ni-to on his boat in Fiji.  

              JESUS
Be that as it may – do you really believe the Scientologists can make
things better?


              BUSH
You kiddin’ me?  When it comes to bein’ ruthless fanatics, the terrorists
can’t hold a candle to ‘em.   Mother Hubbard’s crew’s gonna clean up
Iraq in no time.  And Homeland Security’s gonna be a piece of cake for
‘em, too. Yessir, those boys really know how to run a tight ship.

(JESUS is visibly shaken.)

Hey, you okay, Jaycee?  You look a little piqued.  Like you did in that
Mel Gibson movie.

              JESUS
Perhaps I will have some wine.  Never mind.  I think I’ll be going now.

(JESUS stands.)

              BUSH
Whoa, I’m late, myself. There’s this free personality test I’m supposed
to take.

              JESUS
Goodbye, Mr. President.

(BUSH gets up.)

              BUSH
Well, thanks again for all your able service to your country.  By the
way, you can rest easy, we’re gonna stay the course on those policies
so close to your heart.

              JESUS
Policies?

              BUSH
Like those faith-based whatchamallits.

              JESUS
Initiatives.

              BUSH
Right.  We’re gonna make sure no bums get a handout without saying a
prayer first.
(JESUS just shakes his head.)
And we’re gonna hold the line against the Darwinistas.  Gonna keep
fightin’ the evolutionaries here, so we don’t have to fight ‘em over
there.

              JESUS
(Looking up) Forgive him, Father, for he knows not what he says.

              BUSH
And , of course, we won’t budge on the pro-life thing.  (With emphasis)  
I know how much you cherish every blessed little stem cell.

              JESUS
You’ll never know how much I appreciate that.

(JESUS heads toward the door.)

              BUSH
Jaycee, before you go…

              JESUS
Yes?

              BUSH
There’s still almost 3 years left in my term.  I hope I can count on your
blessin’.  For old time’s sake?

              JESUS
Let me put it this way. (Beat)  I know you’ll keep doing a hell of a job.

              BUSH
Thanks, Jaycee.

              JESUS
May I say one more thing?

              BUSH
Why, sure.

              JESUS
Entry into Heaven is not like getting into Yale, or Harvard Business
School.

              BUSH
I’m glad o’ that.  Those college boards were murder.

              JESUS
No, I mean there are no legacy admissions.  You’re judged strictly on
the way you lived your life.

              BUSH
Oh. (He thinks for a beat.)  Well, no problemo  -- right?  Heh, heh.



              JESUS
(Smiles.  A beat.)
Heh, heh.
(JESUS heads to the door.)
Hey, don’t be a stranger, now.  You’re always welcome at the ranch,
hear?  
(As JESUS exits:)
And say howdy to Pat Robertson when you see ‘im!

(BUSH sits at his desk.)

              BUSH
Now, where’s that personality test?  Heck, I’ll do it later.

(HE stretches out, puts his feet on the desk.  HE starts to sing
contentedly to himself.  LIGHTS begin to slowly fade.)

Jesus loves the little stem cells,
All the stem cells of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little stem cells of the world.

(BUSH’s voice gives way to CHILDREN singing the same song as  
LIGHTS fade to BLACK.)