German bar, The Orchard Tavern on
The customers are a polyglot
BEFORE RISE: Scratchy, sentimental instrumental 1930s music squeaks. THE 1930s’ BROADS saunter across the stage, with movements and gestures identical to their other appearances. The sign reads:
“To reason most
absurd, whose common theme
Is death of fathers...”
After a moment, they stand up straight, bow their heads, and saunter off.
BEFORE RISE: The GERMAN MAN (HELMUT DEUTSCHLAND) sits in the middle of the bar, an empty stool on either side of him. HE has dress patterns, a dress, and needle and thread sitting on the floor near his stool. YANKS #1 and #2 sit next to each empty stool. THEY make wisecracks over and around the GERMAN MAN. The YANKS are more sober than the GERMAN MAN and having fun with his drunkenness and his lack of a sense of humor. Other customers stand about or sit at the tables. One customer buys pail of beer and walks out with it.
Mein Vater war ein wandersman
Eins, zwei, soffa!
(Mocking but playful)
Say, give it a rest, Jerry. We're sick a' yer damn kraut songs. Sing somethin' in American, why doncha?
(With a thick German accent and tongue heavy from drink)
I zing zong from mein Fodderland.
(Slightly annoyed but playful)
We don' unnerstand what yer singin' there, Heinrich – get it?
Mein name is Helmut Deutschland. Vonce it vas Kaiser Deutschland, venn I King of Prussia vas. Now ist Herr Deutschland.
Lissen, Harry. We don' get it. We don' speak Kraut.
Zee zong zayz, "My father was a wandering man."
(With cynical humor)
Your kids are probably singing that song, too, – huh, Dutchy? Ha ha! Sittin’ heah stinko while the famine is on for yaw kids.
(Deliberately setting up a familiar joke)
Yeah. Jerry here’s got a real drinkin’ problem.
He must. I see him here all the time!
(YANKS laugh raucously.)
A rest in zee Orchard my custom always in ze afternoon ist.
YANK # 2:
Custom his kids in old breeches should obsoive!
(YANKS laugh drunkenly.)
I am verking on new clozing dezign vich vill rich man make me! Zen I vill return to mein kinder und frau.
(Pointing at his chest with pride. Growing louder)
Besides I vas
Oh, spare us, O Lord!
(Rising and jabbing his finger toward the GERMAN MAN)
Lissen, I don't care if yaw the freakin’ Papaya King. It just don't seem kosher to get lit and crow kraut songs while your kids go without. And what’s more, I’d eighty-six the gab about designs. If somebody learns Cagney about yer clothin’ scam, it won't be papayas you'll be worryin' about!
(There are five quick knocks at the door. YANK #1 goes and opens it. CAGNEY JAMES CAGNEY stands stiffly in the threshold. HE stares straight ahead, as if unseeing, not moving but unsteady on his feet. Then, his body starts to move: a short sway back and forward, followed by a larger sway back. When HE sways forward again, HE falls onto the landing. YANKS 1 and 2 rush to help HIM. )
Are you all right, Mr. Cagney? Are you all right?
(Brushing off his clothes)
Dandy, Yanks. I'm swell. Swell. Whaddaya hear? Whaddaya say?
YANKS #1 and #2:
(Nervously. Both talk at once.)
Yeah, we’re swell, too. Swell, yeah. Yeah, swell, Mr. Cagney. Swell.
(Noticing how quiet it has become.)
Funny how the snappy dialog dries up when a man brushes off his designer suit.
(GERMAN MAN sits quietly. No longer exuberant or singing or bragging. CAGNEY walks over to the GERMAN MAN.)
I hear I got a rival Deutschen designer around here. That means cuttin' in on my dresses. I don't like it when there's another guy in dresses besides me – get it, Dutchy?
IRATE AUDIENCE MEMBER
(From seat, reacting to the laughter.)
That’s not funny!
(There is no reaction from the stage.)
(Somewhat frightened but proud)
I try to make clozing to
become rich for my children: zey vill study Aristotle and all
zee great sinkers. Someday I will open a
place where people will shop inside, not in street from stalls. And there will be organs and pianos and
fountains and Orange Julius and teenagers playing games. I vas the
(The barroom erupts with laughter. The patrons have never heard anything so crazy.)
What you been drinking there, Harry?
(Under his breath. Pushing glass toward the bartender)
Viskey. Don’t be stingy.
Will ye get him? The man's a dreamah. He's off his rockah.
(Grabs GERMAN MAN by his shirtfront)
Say, Jerry, I’m gonna tell ya something: I don’t give a three-penny damn for your Commie ideas.
You ain’t goink to slug me – are you?
(Ignoring the GERMAN MAN’s words)
Lissen, the only guy who's rulin' around here is me. Somebody’s got to protect the clothing customers. The only question now is
(Reaches into his inside suitjacket pocket)
What kind of grapefruit do you want – yellow or orange?
It doesn't matter. This is black and white.
Ah, yer yella. Say yer prayers, Kraut.
(Smushes grapefruit into his face, letting out a grunt similar to the caw of a seagull. GERMAN MAN slumps onto the floor, dead. Everyone in the bar flees out the door, the YANKS straggling. CAGNEY executes a quick, celebratory dance. HE does a quick step forward, followed by a 180 degree spin. Then, CAGNEY swaggers nonchalantly out behind the YANKS, leaving the grapefruit half behind.)
END OF SCENE 4