Tim Marks
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"We were particularly impressed by the vivid world of the play and by [the] characterization and dialogue."


"I don't know how long it will be before I stop being Pete's widow and start being that loud mouthed hoor who's disloyal to the cause. When the time comes, will it be you who delivers the headshot, or will you be the one who orders the young 'uns to tar and feather me?"

 

locating the plant | pearldivers | eve's barette | the judas ballot | the cleric | the naz

the english crew | the tradition

An Excerpt from The Judas Ballot, by Tim Marks

© 2002 Tim Marks. All rights reserved.

Act II, Scene Seven

(Susan waits for Robert to finish talking with Seven. He walks to his seat smiling. Seven leaves the room angrily)

Susan

I suppose I should get started. It's a simple story really. I met a man and married him in a Regime ceremony. There was a pastor, two witnesses, and a signed Marriage Certificate. That's it from me.

Major Seven

Not in keeping with your companions' descriptions, was it?

Susan

The aim of the story was to prove I am not a Jew. I think I've done that.

Seven

There is nothing in your story to convince us that you are telling the truth. We require background, texture, a tale well told.

Susan

I've done as I was told!

Seven

No you have not! I am telling you now that your story lacks credibility and detail. I am almost tempted to put an end to this. Of course, all in this room will pay the forfeit.

Susan

Why are you putting the responsibility for that on me?

Seven

It's just your turn, I guess! It is obvious that you are treating this...

Robert

If you can't find the proper name for what we are doing, perhaps I can help!

Seven

Shut up! You are all involved in a test. A test you are all in danger of failing. Do not try my patience any more. I am tired and angry. Unless you garnish your story with detail I will have one person from each of your families brought in and shot in front of you! Get on with it!

Susan

I was a war bride. I married an Air Corps Officer who I met when I was performing in an Officers' Club.

Andre

What were you doing?

Susan

I was a singer of morale building music for our boys back from the front. I had been a singer in a group before all but patriotic music was banned. At first I was angry, but I sort of believed that the Regime was doing the right kind of thing. The economy was strong, crime was at an all time low, and we were seeing a return to a more moral time. I grew up during the permissive years, but I was never comfortable with it. The love seemed to have gone out of the world. I was, and am, old-fashioned. For as far back as I can remember I had dreamed about my wedding. I had it all planned down to the tiniest detail. It was going to be the Mother of All Weddings. My parents were reasonably well off. My father was a military engineer, so we traveled a lot. I got to see parts of the world some people don't even know exist. This was in the early days of the Regime, when their focus was on rebuilding the country after the depression. Like most people we suffered during the depression - the normal deprivation that people went through - but I noticed that the officers on the bases we would visit seemed to suffer the least. There was always plenty of food on their tables. My Father was often invited to functions and quite often he took me with him. It always seemed so glamourous - the men in their dress uniforms, the women in evening gowns. The talk was always about the mess the country was in and how we needed a strong, committed government to put it back on its feet. There were some officers who said the Regime was not the way to go, but they were always shouted down. At one base I heard of a Captain being beaten to death because he supported the Opposition. Then things started going great! There was no more rationing, stores were full of goods again. The love seemed to have returned somehow.

Kat

The love?

Susan

I know you think I'm stupid, but it's the best description I can come up with. People were more polite, there was less violence and sex in the movies. Artists were turning out paintings I could understand, and we had a common goal - returning the country to prominence, negotiating changes in the treaties that held us subjugated. I didn't understand it all, but it made sense at the time. I started working in officers' clubs. I got my start through a friend of my Father's who was a Regime Commissar. At first it was spotty, once a month or so, but it picked up and I was able to give up my full time job.

Kat

Which was?

Susan

I was a collator for the Census Bureau. We basically took in information people submitted and after analysing it passed it on to the Interior Ministry.

Kat

What kind of information?

Susan

Have you never filled in a census form?

Kat

Mine must have got lost in the mail!

Susan

It's just pretty basic stuff: number of people in a household, income, race, religion. The information was used to see what areas needed what services.

Kat

I heard there was a section for neighbours to fill in.

Susan

I don't understand.

Kat

So they could pass on information about their neighbours.

Susan

What kind of information?

Kat

Number of people in the neighbour's household, income, race, religion, and any hints of dissent or treason! Just basic stuff that every caring government should know!

Susan

I never saw anything like that on the forms I dealt with. Why are you questioning everything I say? Major, it's unfair of you to let her interrupt me all the time. We made a rule about this!

Seven

You made a rule, not me! If it's your rule, then you need to enforce it!

Susan

But the questions aren't pertinent to my story!

Seven

She seems to think they are. I suggest you continue - night time will come soon enough, and I will want my rest.

Susan

Perhaps I should continue in the morning?

Seven

But you have painted such a pretty picture, and created such a wonderful atmosphere. I would hate for you to lose the mood. Continue!

Susan

If I must! Kat, I never saw any of the forms you mentioned, but we were not the only group collating information! As I said, I was able to give up that job, and concentrate full time on my...

Kat

Hunting?

Susan

What does that mean?

Kat

You were husband-hunting, isn't that right?

Susan

Not consciously, but if the right man came along I wouldn't have said no! We can't all meet men the way you do! I had a booking at the Officers' Mess of The Guards Regiment. It was, as you can imagine, a big deal. The Guards had just returned from nine months' fighting on the Western Border where they had taken a terrible beating.

Kat

That never came out in the newsreels!

Andre

Shut up, Kat, let her talk.

Kat

If you say so!

Andre

I just mean you are not being very fair.

Kat

She's welcome to interrupt me when I'm talking! Sorry, Susan, you carry on. I promise I will only interrupt if I think it is pertinent, and Andre approves!

Susan

Bad news is sometimes kept from the public to stop them worrying. My Father told me that, and I believe him! The Regiment had been decimated. Chris, the man I married, was a pilot attached to them. He told me horror stories of what the men on the ground had been through. He had sent me a drink after my set one night, and I had gone over and joined him and his friends. He asked me out and we began dating. He was a good companion. He believed in God and in ultimate victory. Like me, he had some concerns about things that were happening, but we both believed that these decisions were being taken for the good of the country.

Kat

I believe this is a pertinent question! What decisions?

Susan

Why is it pertinent? Don't bother answering... I - we - were worried about the forced expulsions that were taking place. We understood that they had to happen, but it was disturbing to see them taking place in the city in which one lived.

Kat

You mean the "cleansings".

Susan

That was just a word dreamed up by the left-wing press!

Kat

Who were also "cleansed," along with the Jews, Moslems, blacks, intellectuals, homosexuals. It's a pretty long list. They must have had an awful lot of camps to resettle them in! Funny how none of them seem to have ever come back.

Susan

What is your point Kat? That I never did anything to stop it? I did try - there was a homosexual couple on our block. I asked my father to intervene. He did - they were sent to a camp nearer their families!

Kat

And you believed that!

Susan

Yes! I had seen the newsreels showing deportees living very well indeed. They looked like they were having a better time than we were! These people had polluted the country. Destroying our culture, infecting our youth with their filth and propaganda. We had a right to send them away! They're in the camps now laughing at us! So tell me Kat what did you do that makes you holier than me? What protest did you make?

Seven

Time to get back to the story, ladies! You have had your fun, whore! Now let her tell us about her wedding. Please go on.

Susan

Thank you, Major. I started this by saying I had planned my wedding since I was a child. Major, I'm sorry but I can't concentrate. I'm just so upset. Could I take a moment and visit the bathroom?

Seven

Are you sure you can't continue? It is imperative that you complete your story!

Susan

Just let me have a moment please.

Seven

Ok, then we will recess. But I warn you, failure to continue will have serious consequences.

Act II, Scene Eight

(Kat and Andre remain in the room.)

Andre

Why are you trying so hard to hurt her?

Kat

I didn't know I was. All I was doing was asking pertinent questions.

Andre

We agreed there would be no interruptions.

Kat

Seven allowed it. I wonder why?

Andre

Meaning?

Kat

Why would he allow me to break the flow of his precious stories like that?

Andre

It probably entertained him. He's not the most rational of men.

Kat

I think I see his game.

Andre

Which is?

Kat

Sorry, sport, you have to figure it out for yourself!

Andre

You're hardly endearing yourself to people, you know. You're taking over where Langdon left off.

Kat

So you're going to vote against me?

Andre

I never said that.

Kat

But that's what you're threatening. I behave nicely and maybe you won't vote against me, but if I continue to behave badly, I'm dead. I am dead! The princess has you all on her side. Despite revealing her love for the same Regime that has us under a threat of death!

Andre

We all did things we didn't want to just to appease the Regime.

Kat

But did you agree with the Regime like she did?

Andre

I never agreed with them, but I was never stupid enough to let them know it!

Kat

You're letting them know it now!

Andre

I may as well believe Seven when he says nothing will be held against us. If I don't believe that, then who knows what else I disbelieve?

Kat

I don't understand.

Andre

Like you said, it's something for you to figure out!

Kat

After what she said, you still believe in her?

Andre

I never believed in her. I just liked her style. She has a certain grace, even in this shitpit! So she did what millions of others did. She accepted the crap spoon fed to her by the Regime. I never questioned the expulsions! I checked my birth certificate to make damn sure I fit the Regime profile, and for a moment I did feel superior. It wasn't me being carted off to God knows where! Face it Kat, none of us in here should be casting the first stone!

(They are interrupted by the others returning. Susan nods to Andre, ignores Kat, and takes her seat.)

Seven

We will resume.

Susan

Chris asked me to marry him while he was on leave. All the mental preparations I had made for my wedding would have to be put on hold until peace came. In my mind, I had a year to plan the whole thing. In reality, it was two weeks. Rather than do it badly, I suggested we marry in a Registry Office, but Chris did not want to disappoint me, or his parents, who were very religious. So we planned a full church wedding in two weeks, and that included the wedding day! Our parents did everything possible to pull it together. They paid a fortune to a dressmaker, who made the most beautiful dress, not my dream dress, but beautiful nonetheless. We reserved the Regimental Chapel, and used the Officers Mess for the reception. Somehow our parents gathered everyone we wanted to be there, no small feat in the middle of a war! The day arrived too quickly, and I found myself being helped into a Landau driven by a liveried chauffer. He took me to the church where the Regimental choir sang "I Will Wed the Man of My Dreams Today". Chris was waiting at the altar in his dress uniform, all shiny buttons and his sword glistening at his side. My father led me down the aisle, and, kissing me, handed me over to Chris. I remember his hand was sweaty, and I smiled, trying to ease his anxiety. We swore our allegiance to the Regime, the Country and then each other. The pastor blessed our union, and we were wed! It happened in a blur. I remember leaving the chapel and exiting down a gauntlet of raised swords. Now I think of it I saw a column of deportees marching to the railway station, but it was just a fleeting glimpse before we were surrounded by wellwishers.

Lucy

It sounds like a beautiful wedding Susan.

Susan (Tearfully)

Thank you Lucy, it was! The Regimental band played at the reception. I sang a few songs, and then we were at our hotel. The honeymoon I shall keep to myself! The next morning Chris was called in on alert. He was shot down in the Western Zone two days later. One of his chums said he had seen him bail out, but I had seen enough pictures of what the Opposition did to captured fliers to hold out much hope. Six months later I received a postcard from Chris informing me he was alive, and that he was being considered for a prisoner exchange. His "flying days," he said, "were over!" I contacted the Regiment, but they knew nothing. After months of waiting and contacting a million departments within the Regime, I learned that there was to have been an exchange, but there was the fear that our men could have been compromised by the Opposition, and turned into spies or assassins. The exchange never took place. Some one who had been in the camp with Chris and had escaped contacted me. He was in fear of his life in case he was arrested by the Regime. He had made a promise to Chris and some others that if he made it home he would inform their families of what had happened. Chris broke both his legs and they never healed properly. The reason he was put forward for the exchange was that he was no good to the Regime. This was true of every one else in the exchange. They were all crippled. After it fell apart they were taken to a field, and every one of them was shot. I never saw the man who told me this, it was just a voice on the telephone, and there is a silly part of me that wants to believe it is all just a terrible joke, but the grown up won't let me.

Lucy

That's horrible, Susan. I am so sorry.

Susan

Thanks again, Lucy. I think I'm mostly over it. I wonder sometimes how our lives would have been. Nothing to say, Kat?

Kat

Not really!