The Aggressor

NAJ

(stands in one place, close to the door that he just entered. he hears many voices calling him to join them and sit down, to not be afraid. some are whistling cat calls to scare him. naj is in a state of shock, and can’t process where he has landed. he can’t believe such a place exists. suddenly a large detainee steps beside him and starts shouting LINE LINE LINE ROOM ONE YALLA and Naj sees about 8 guys walking toward him at the door. He steps aside, but nearly trips on a mattress, nearly tipping the enormous pot of tea, and some guys playing cards shout at him.

GROUP of MEN 1

Hey! Watch it!

NAJ

Sorry! Really!

MIKE 

(he preceded Naj walking through the door, and turns back to see him.)

Hey! 

(extends hand to shake hands)

NAJ

(extending hand, shakes hand)

Hey.

MIKE

Welcome to the dark underbelly!

NAJ

That I never knew existed.

MIKE

That’s right! Oh – and you never knew you had jail karma to live through til now, either, did you?

NAJ

What?

MIKE

Jail karma. The real reason you’re here.

NAJ

Real reason?

MIKE

Sure. Do you think you deserve to be here?

NAJ

No.

MIKE

Then, there must be a deeper reason, because here you are – and it ain’t pretty.

NAJ

No, it isn’t.

MEN

(walking with trays of food back to their room. The trays feature a pool of reddish brown liquid mash called ‘foul,’ two rounds of arabic bread, one tiny child size container of juice, and a small pile of lettuce and onion and a banana. the men seem very happy.

MIKE

Are you carrying anything?

NAJ

Carrying anything?

MIKE

Anything – clothes, towels?

NAJ

(looking himself over, feeling his pockets instinctively)

No! Nothing.

MIKE

Yalla, come, let’s jump in this food line

NAJ

Oh, I’m not really hungry. And, I’m pretty sure my family will look for me and find out that I’m here and get me out. I’m good.

You go ahead though.

MIKE

You sure?

NAJ

Yah, yah, sure sure. Don’t worry about me. I’m good. Really really.

MIKE

Suit yourself! But, let’s do this, take the food anyway, and if you don’t want it, you can always give it away to someone else – good way to make friends.

NAJ

Make friends?

MIKE

Listen buddy, general rule of thumb here … never get too optimistic.

NAJ

(gets in front of the MIKE in the line. Funny that, I’ve always been very optimistic and that’s always pretty much worked out for me.)

MIKE

Really? So, where are you at the moment.

NAJ

Well, I’m in a detention center, it’s just a temporary thing. This is just how their system works. I was just in a fight – not the end of the world. Not a permanent crisis or anything.

MIKE

Hmm, I see. So, where are you physically. 

NAJ

Physically? Well, we appear to be in a .. in a basement. I mean, I walked down a long flight of stairs to get in here, and I see those tiny windows at the top of that wall, there appears to be some asphalt. (Naj cranes his neck to see out the windows whose glass is criss-crossed with wire) I can see vehicle tires. We’re located behind the building, at the back parking lot. 

MIKE

Right.

NAJ

So, what are you saying?

MIKE

You just said it all, buddy.

NAJ

I’m in a basement. Wet clothes are hanging everywhere. Everyone looks really pale, these are the only windows. How many times a day do they go outside? Why don’t the clothes hang outside? Or why don’t they have laundry facilities?

GUYS PLAYING CARDS 1

(overhearing) 

Laundry facilities! (laughs)

GUY PLAYING CARDS 2

How many times a day do we go outside? Yes, because I really must work on my tan! (general laughter)

SHOWER GUY

(fat hairy guy wrapped in only a towel and wearing flip flops walks toward Naj and the MIKE. He is heading toward room 6 – the room closest to the door where they are standing waiting to enter to collect their trays of food. Naj looks back toward the shower and sees the filipino darting ahead of those in the queue to dump the washing water and use the shower to rinse the clothes he’d just soaped up. The shower door is wide open so Naj observes the Filipino pour water from the bucket down the shower drain, but much of it cascades down the tile steps where the two men there continually squeegee it and wipe it up and wring it into the bucket and carry it toward Naj to pour it down the drain that exists beside the stainless steel tea urn.

NAJ

(to no one in particular)

The water doesn’t seem to drain well up there. Why doesn’t someone call a plumber?

GENERAL

(laughter)

CARD PLAYER 3

Hey! Outside, I am a plumber! And with the amount of thick curly black hair from all these beasts in that drain, you’d need to use your sister’s lips to suck it out.

NAJ

Did you say my SISTER?

CARD PLAYER 3

Yah. That’s what I said.

NAJ

(shocked)

Well, I don’t have a sister.

GENERAL

(laughter)

NAJ

But, if I had a sister – that’s a hell of a thing to say, buddy.

CARD PLAYER 2

(to CP3 whom he high-fives and laughs hysterically with) Go easy on the kid. He’s new.

CP 3

(waves his hand at Naj and goes back to his card game)

NAJ

I mean it man. If you’d have said that about my … (Naj’s hands form fists)

GENERAL

(laughter, Ooohing)

MIKE

drop it. if you’re here, well, obviously if you’re here five minutes, you’re likely to hear, well, just that sort of thing.

NAJ

(to the MIKE)

if he would have said that about my mother, i would have killed him.

MIKE

justifiable homicide – sentence, 20 years nevertheless. but that’s pretty big talk for a well, slight fella like yourself, isn’t it? 

NAJ

slight?

MIKE

well, no offense. you’re not the incredible hulk. i wouldn’t recommend going at it with some of these freaks.

NAJ

going at it?

MIKE

you know, fighting .. no matter how much they taunt you.

NAJ

Ha! ha ha ha

MIKE

funny? you ended up in here because of a fight, right?

NAJ

that’s right

MIKE

well, i don’t know how you did during that battle, but you don’t appear to be in the best of shape, and since you were nabbed by the cops, i don’t suppose you ‘won.’

NAJ

(alert, steps through heavy door to take his tray from the floor of the main reception area. other detainees use ladles and spoons to serve the food from PVC plastic buckets. he reaches into a plastic crate to take one juice and a banana and turns to re-enter the detainee section. As he does, he turns to his left and notices an open window behind the desk of the warden. He can smell cigarette smoke and sees the shoes and lower trousers of police garb.)

WARDEN

Hey, Canada.

NAJ

Yes.

WARDEN

Bad news for you.

NAJ

(staring)

WARDEN

this guy you fight too much. he’s in this what you call, a coma. maybe he die. then you stay long time, become my best friend.

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