House of Justice
A short play by Thorin N. Tatge
AMOS: An angry country fellow.
KENNETH: A good-natured country fellow.
JUDGE LEE: A sharp-tongued country fellow.
Empty stage. AMOS walks to center, faces audience and slowly proclaims,
AMOS: There ain’t no justice!!
KENNETH: There’s not?
AMOS: Nope. There’s not.
KENNETH: None at all? Not anywhere?
KENNETH: Not even a crumb?
AMOS: No sir, I checked. There’s no justice, not here, not anywhere.
KENNETH: Well that’s kind of a raw deal, ain’t it?
AMOS: You said it.
KENNETH: You know, I bet my friend Lee’d like to know about this. Just a moment. (Faces toward LEE, who is offstage.) Hey Lee!
LEE (still offstage): Yeah?
KENNETH: You know what, Lee? There ain’t no justice.
KENNETH: I said “There ain’t no justice!”
AMOS: He said there ain’t no justice!
LEE: Huh? Well are you sure?
KENNETH: Well, Amos here seems to be, Lee!
LEE: Well… well heck, Ken! There must be at least a little justice, somewhere, or it wouldn’t bear talking about at all, now would it?
KENNETH: How do you mean by that, Lee?
LEE: Well, I mean if there weren’t no justice, then why would anyone even know what justice is? I mean tarnation, Ken.
KENNETH (to AMOS): You know, I think he has a point.
AMOS: Doesn’t matter. I say there ain’t no justice, and that’s a fact.
KENNETH: What makes you so tootin’ sure, bud?
AMOS: You want to know?
KENNETH: I guess I must want to know, or I wouldn’t likely have asked, would I?
AMOS: Well sir, there ain’t no justice because you see, yesterday was my birthday, and—
KENNETH: Well that’s not so bad, is it?
AMOS: Well no, that’s not the bad part, you see—
KENNETH: I think maybe practically every guy I know has a birthday some time or other. Nothing to be upset about.
AMOS: No, man, that’s not it! It’s worse than that. What I was saying was, yesterday was my birthday, and I only got one lousy present.
KENNETH: (Whistles, or approximates the sentiment.) Just one!?
AMOS: Just one present. And it was one of them hi-technical doohickeys, too.
KENNETH: A what? Oh, you mean one of them electric vibrators what glows in the dark, yeah?
AMOS: That’s right. As if I had something I needed vibrated, or something. I mean, I ain’t no woman. I guess I could use it to stir up my coffee some, but hell, I already got me a stirrin’ spoon. You know, I’m just a guy who wants a decent present for his big day! But I feel like I’ve done fell off the face of the earth.
KENNETH: Why was this, do you think, Amos? Were you a bad boy this year?
AMOS: Well, not unless you count the thirty-six church bombings…
AMOS: Strictly non-denominational, of course.
KENNETH: Of course.
AMOS: And then there were all those acts of high treason against the British crown.
KENNETH: To this day I don’t see why they kept on trusting you over and over…
AMOS: And I guess if you want to be persnickety there was that wacked-up compound interest scheme I used to steal forty-nine million dollars from the world AIDS summit…
KENNETH: I suppose the sort of person who likes keeping score might bring that up, yes.
AMOS: But aside from that, I don’t see why I got so shafted on birthday presents. I tell you, there ain’t no justice!
KENNETH: If there were justice, I bet I know where you’d find it.
AMOS: Where’s that then, Kenneth?
KENNETH: Why, in a proper court of law.
AMOS: You mean like the one right behind us, for instance?
KENNETH (looking back): Why, yes! That’d do nice and properly.
AMOS: I guess we ought to go in.
They go to back stage and turn around. Enter LEE.
LEE: This court is now in session!
AMOS: Hey, hey there, are you the judge of this here court?
LEE: Why yes, that I am.
AMOS: We were wondering here, that is, me and my friend Kenneth here, we were wondering if you’ve got any justice in this place.
LEE: Justice! Interesting you should ask such a thing. This here happens to be a house of justice. Anything you want justified or ad-justed, you done come to the right place.
KENNETH: Well that’s very nice, then! I guess the answer’s yes, then, so our question is settled, isn’t that right?
LEE: That’s absolutely right. In fact, it turns out this little old courthouse is the last place where there’s any justice in all the world. Last census proves it.
AMOS: Oh, really? Well I guess that explains why I was having such a tough time finding any!
LEE: I reckon it does. Yes sir, everything about this place says justice. All things and everything are fair around here.
AMOS: Well that makes me awfully happy, Mr. judge, it really does. Because you see—
LEE: Well hold on, there. Do you realize your friend’s only had one line since you came into this courthouse? Now I don’t call that fair, do you?
AMOS: I guess maybe I wouldn’t.
LEE: Hey! That’s again you spoke out of order. If you want to be in a court of law, sir, you must learn to speak in order. No, don’t apologize. Just let your friend talk.
KENNETH: Ain’t got nothing to say, sir. I’m happy enough.
LEE: Son, you’ll say something and you’ll say it now, or I’ll write you up on charges of unequal verbalization. That’s a five year offense in this court.
KENNETH: Guess I might as well say something, then, even though I ain’t got nothing to say.
LEE: You already used that phrase once. “Ain’t got nothing to say…” What about the other fellow? Mightn’t he want to use that expression himself?
KENNETH: Guess I never thought of that.
AMOS: You know, Mr. Judge, I think I’ve had just about enough justice.
LEE: Do my ears deceive me? You can’t never get too much justice, my friend. It’s unheard of.
AMOS: Even so, I think I’ve had enough for my—
LEE: Now don’t you gentlemen realize this room is filled with microbial bacteria, floating and darting this way and that? Ain’t you going to give any of them a chance to say something?
KENNETH: I beg your pardon?
LEE: They got a right to speak up, don’t they? I imagine they do. Well, microbes? When are you going to weigh in on this discussion?
AMOS: Can we go now, sir?
LEE: Never heard of any decent gentlemen what wanted to leave before the conversation was over. No, we’re going to stay in this courtroom until each and every one of those little fellas in the air here has its say.
KENNETH: I don’t hear nothing.
LEE: Well they ain’t said nothing, yet. But we’ll wait.
AMOS turns to go. LEE stomps his foot angrily.
LEE: I said, We’ll Wait!
AMOS turns around apologetically and stands at attention. Long pause, and then: