A Case of Public Indecency


A man wearing black robes leans anxiously forward over an absurdly tall courtroom bench upstage right. His oversize nameplate identifies him as "Judge Marshall Court." Tensely he leafs through a document. After several pages he ceases leafing, concentrates his attention upon a particular detail, and dons reading glasses. Judge Marshall Court pores over the material minutely, his mouth falling slightly agape. Finally, unconsciously, he tilts up the document enough that the audience can read its cover. It is a Playboy magazine.

From center stage rises the trunk of an extremely tall tree. The tree rises so high that the audience can see neither its branches nor its leaves. Carved into the tree trunk as graffiti are these initials: NYT.

After the judge reveals his "document" a man in military uniform skulks onto the set downstage left. The man wears a red white and black military police (or "MP") armband around his left bicep. Intently he sweeps the beam of a flashlight back and forth across the stage as he stalks something amiss.

An attractive teenage couple soon follows, entering upstage left. A paperboard sign draped around the neck of the beautiful young woman labels her as "The Right Thing." Her strapping escort wears a matching sign that names him "Honorable Young Man." As they enter Miss The Right Thing is prompting and coaxing Honorable Young Man toward some illicit act. Persuadingly she tugs Honorable Young Man's arm. Coquettishly she kisses his cheek, and whispers into his ear, and tousles his hair. She pouts at Honorable Young Man. She pleads. At first Honorable Young Man resists Miss The Right Thing's entreaties. Cagily he looks around them, fearing the proposed act--its repercussions, its penalties. But eventually he begins to return Miss the Right Thing's fondlings. And gradually then his pleasure rids him of all reluctance. Honorable Young Man erupts into an amorous passion finally. He lifts Miss The Right Thing off the ground and carries her to the tall tree. There, partially obstructed from the view of the audience, the couple begins to simulate sex. Miss The Right Thing bends over and Honorable Young Man enters her from behind. The graffitied tree shields spectators from any contact. Thus, the audience watches an honorable young man do the right thing; but it does not see the most important details.

During this tryst the MP has continued to sweep the flashlight beam slowly and deliberately back and forth across the stage. A few moments after the comic coitus commences the MP shines the flashlight on Miss the Right Thing and Honorable Young Man. Prey he has found!

MP: (Imperatively) Halt! (The MP descends upon the surprised and gasping couple aggressively. Without prelude he handcuffs them both and drags them embarrassed and stumbling before Judge Marshall Court.)

Judge Marshall Court: (Still he leafs through the Playboy. Jadedly, he sighs) Next.

MP: A case of public indecency, your honor.

Judge Marshall Court: (Paging, irritated.) Public indecency!

MP: Yes, sir.

Judge Marshall Court: (He glances from his Playboy to the accused. The beauty and disheveled dress of Miss The Right Thing visibly arouses him. He regains his composure immediately, however. Calculating, he becomes. He demands of the couple, snappishly) What do you have to say for yourselves?

Honorable Young Man: I don't feel like we did anything wrong, your honor. Our embracing seemed only natural. I was afraid at first, but finally I could not deny Miss The Right Thing's beauty and attraction.

MP: Embracing? Your honor I discovered them hiding behind a tree. Miss The Right Thing was touching her toes and Honorable Young Man was doing the twist. I witnessed bare flesh exposed to public view and fresh air.

Honorable Young Man and Miss The Right Thing: (Together) But we love each other.

Judge Marshall Court: (The MP's description has heightened his arousal. He flips the Playboy back a few pages to some detail in particular. His eyebrows rise. He says, lasciviously) Doggie style, huh?

Miss The Right Thing: Your honor, I didn't want to do it in the park but because of our parents there is nowhere else for us to...

Judge Marshall Court: (Interrupting her) Ah ha! You did not want to do it?

Miss The Right Thing: Well, no. Not like that, but...

Judge Marshall Court: (Silencing her conclusively) Ah ha! Well if you did not want to do it, then that's forcible rape!

Miss The Right Thing and Honorable Young Man stand stunned, speechless.

Judge Marshall Court: Officer, uncuff the girl and take away that pervert! Lock him up for say...29 years. No, wait, give him 38 years. Yeah, 38 years is better.

(Several absurdly violent blows of the gavel.)

The MP removes the handcuffs from Miss The Right Thing and then drags a disbelieving Honorable Young Man into the left wings. Miss The Right Thing remains alone, devastated, rubbing her wrists. She begins to cry into her hands.

Judge Marshall Court: (He sniffs callously. Surreptitiously he folds closed his Playboy, hides it away. Watching the girl cry arouses him even further. Finally his expression becomes a sinister leer. He wheedles now to Miss The Right Thing, smarmy) It's okay, honey. Why don't you just come up here and talk to papa. I'll make everything okay for you. That's what I'm here for.

After a moment, cautiously, Miss The Right Thing edges toward Judge Marshall Court. Still she cries.


turn page >>>

John Dishwasher

A Case of Public Indecency