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Drawn from Water: A One-Act Play by Rosebud Ben-Oni

Drawn from Water: A One-Act Play by Rosebud Ben-Oni

Drama, Vol. 5.4, Dec. 2011

Drawn from Water  was first produced by Thespian Productions at The Playhouse Theater at Roy Arias Studios and Theater in New York, NY in Oct 2011. Directed by Bob Teague and staring Ximena Mieles as Alejandra and Maurcio Pita as Zamora.

CAST OF CHARACTERS
ALEJANDRA — Decoy border-crosser, mid-20s but aged before her time
ZAMORA — Mid-ranking jefe in Los Reyes Magos, late 30s

Time:
Present Day,
A hot summer night.

Place:
Mexican border town near the Gulf Coast

FADE IN. CONSUELO’S BODY is on the floor RC stage while ZAMORA, looking flashy in a suit and cowboy boots, sits in a chair UL stage. ALEJANDRA enters shortly, goes straight to the body and examines it.

ZAMORA
Not going to find a thing.

(Alejandra is startled but recovers quickly.)

ALEJANDRA
So do I have the job?

ZAMORA
Little Alejandra, always underfoot, still half-grown…

ALEJANDRA
I’m not underfoot anymore.

(Alejandra begins stripping the body of jewelry and other trinkets, and continues until noted.)

ZAMORA
If it wasn’t for me, you’d still be underwater. Little more than bones on a riverbank.

ALEJANDRA
I could’ve crossed.

ZAMORA
Still ungrateful, after all these years―

ALEJANDRA
Consuelo wasn’t my mother, any more than you were my father.

ZAMORA
(looking at the body)
The old die young so the young can eat from their remains.

ALEJANDRA
More like the young are bred for food.

ZAMORA
And for that, we owed you a gold medal.
(He gestures to the body, and Alejandra rises to her feet.)

ZAMORA
(continuing)
But instead, all we had to do was wait. That was the thing about Consuelo… I knew she had nowhere to go. I knew she’d never cross me.

ALEJANDRA
She wasn’t one to cross anything.

ZAMORA
Just how bad do you want it, querida?

ALEJANDRA
I’m the only one who can do it.

ZAMORA But every Homero would be lost without you

ALEJANDRA
Who?

ZAMORA
Your― customers, querida. I suppose every Homero who comes to cross has a story.

ALEJANDRA
I never ask; I only lead to the crossing.

ZAMORA I’m sure someone has tried to turn to you―

ALEJANDRA
I turn away.

ZAMORA
Every Homero has left five children on his Oaxacan farm, a wife who died halfway in the
Sonoran desert, a sick grandmother still carving five-peso figurines in San Luis Potosí.

ALEJANDRA
It is merely the buzzing of mosquitos on the river. I do not understand what they say.

ZAMORA
But while they make their escape and you’re caught―

ALEJANDRA
I come back without memory.

ZAMORA
Always?

ALEJANDRA
I don’t care about the people I lead, only that they cross. And when I take Consuelo’s job, one of the women who runs for me will take mine.

ZAMORA
But Alejandra, you’re so good at being the lure over the river. The bait and snare.

ALEJANDRA
I’ve already showed others how to do it. I’ve trained them well.

ZAMORA
But who did you belong to before I caught you, querida?

ALEJANDRA
What?

ZAMORA
Where are you from?

ALEJANDRA
You know I don’t remember. I only want to stop running.

ZAMORA
I think more than anything you’d want to keep moving.

ALEJANDRA
Look, Zamora, the bottom line is, I don’t want to run anymore.

ZAMORA
I can’t imagine you’d want to stop running.

ALEJANDRA
I want to run things― from here. Like Consuelo. I’ve found some women already who’d make good decoys.

ZAMORA You’d just want to stay here― for good.

ALEJANDRA
Yes.

(Zamora pulls out some rolled-up files from his jacket and throws them on the ground.)

ZAMORA
(continuing)
You see, my gringo friend over in border patrol keeps a list of everyone they catch. Takes their photos and fingerprints too.

ALEJANDRA
So what?

ZAMORA
So I was under the impression we pay you to get caught.

ALEJANDRA
Are the crossers’ names in there?

ZAMORA
The crossers.

ALEJANDRA
Yes, all the Homeros.

ZAMORA
Who cares about them? Your name, querida. Your name isn’t in there. Not once. Even after you’re detained and searched. You must be quite―lucky.

ALEJANDRA
Should I be?

ZAMORA
What did he promise you, Alejandra?

ALEJANDRA
Wh-what?

ZAMORA
Asylum? A green card? Citizenship?

ALEJANDRA
You’re paranoid, Zamora.

ZAMORA
Did he promise you…marriage?

ALEJANDRA
Stop it!

ZAMORA
So our little Alejandra has a boyfriend in border patrol. The bait and snare, only this time she didn’t let go. No wonder she wants to run the show. Good way to cash in, no?

ALEJANDRA
It’s not about the money―

ZAMORA
He must be quite a valuable asset to you. Though you’re hardly the trophy wife.

ALEJANDRA
I never took money I didn’t earn.

ZAMORA
(whipping out a photo in her face) Because Hank already married one.

ALEJANDRA (after a pause)
Who?

ZAMORA
Didn’t know he was married? Pretty little blonde. And not from a bottle. They sign their cards “xoxo, Hank and Holly.” Did you know he went by Hank? He only uses Henry formally. So where does he take you? One of the Brownsville motels with the putas in the Day-Glo spandex outside? Or maybe he’s a real romantic and pays for a whole night at La Quinta?

ALEJANDRA
It is merely the buzzing of mosquitos on the river.

ZAMORA
(pulling out another photo)
Helen, Heidi, and Heather. Three sweet little girls with blonde cherub faces. And just a few months ago, they finally had Hank Junior. Poor little thing wondering where Hank Senior goes at night. Probably his mommy tells him just how hard his daddy works to get to deport all the Homeros. Hank the Hero.

ALEJANDRA
I don’t get involved; I only lead to the crossing.

ZAMORA
Church-goers too. Celebrated his parents’ 30th wedding anniversary just a few days ago.

ALEJANDRA
Stop it.

ZAMORA
Just where do you accompany him? To the drugstore for beer and condoms? Of course not. He’s a gentleman; he goes beforehand.

ALEJANDRA
STOP it.

ZAMORA
Greasy Chinese takeout on top of a dirty comforter that hasn’t been washed in years. Tepid shower after with half-brown water. He’ll have to shower again, to get the smell off him. The smell of dirty water and dirty women―

ALEJANDRA
You really think I’d fall for some half-literate gringo?

ZAMORA
Seeing as how you want things, and with limited choices―

ALEJANDRA
No one limits my choices.

ZAMORA
So you do want to leave. You’re using him―

ALEJANDRA
But not to get a green card.

ZAMORA
You wouldn’t get one anyway. We’d make sure of that. If I thought you had any sort of chance, querida, I wouldn’t have come.

ALEJANDRA
Look, Zamora, I’m not running guns. Too risky. If I get caught―

ZAMORA
Guns? How little you must think of me.
(Zamora takes out a big envelope stuffed with cash and hands it to Alejandra.)

ZAMORA
(continuing)
You get to keep everything this time.

ALEJANDRA
What’s the catch?

ZAMORA
No catch. It’s just no use wasting money on a woman like Consuelo.

ALEJANDRA
She’s dead.

ZAMORA
I mean she’s been no use for a while. Realized it a week ago. Best to cut the middle man.

ALEJANDRA
What?

ZAMORA
You’re going to do something big.

ALEJANDRA
So I got the job?

ZAMORA
Can’t promote you to her position when we’ve done away with it.

ALEJANDRA
Damn it, you promised me―

(Zamora grabs Alejandra hard and pushes her down in a chair.)

ZAMORA
I was going to make this so easy for you. We need you at 100%.

ALEJANDRA
I’m not accepting the money until I know what you want―

ZAMORA
You’re going to keep running. You can keep your little romance with the gringo in border patrol. But even he can’t get you star treatment. You report directly to us, and there’ll be no more strip-searches, no more detention. One of our cars will come to take you back. How does that sound?

ALEJANDRA
I’m not as young as I used to be.

ZAMORA
You’re the best. Your reputation extends beyond this shithole. And you know how to train the women. Make them into good decoys. How to get them to run and where and when. And who else could do that and also handle the 20 Homeros so they don’t get caught?

ALEJANDRA
Since when do you care if Homeros get caught or not?

ZAMORA
I don’t.

ALEJANDRA
Because if they get caught, it’s their fault. They’re sent back. Then they save up all over again, so it’s win-win for you.

ZAMORA
(after a pause)
I like what you do, Alejandra. A lot.

ALEJANDRA
You don’t give a shit about people. So if it’s not guns, then―

ZAMORA
Ever hear of Levamisole?

ALEJANDRA
Sounds like a drug.

ZAMORA
It’s used to deworm animals.

ALEJANDRA
I don’t understand.

ZAMORA
It’s what we’re cutting our coke with. Heightens the rush, supposedly, so users think they’re getting a real good deal. It’s amazing, really. But the thing is… in a couple of weeks, the Americans who use it will start to see the effects.

ALEJANDRA
Effects…

ZAMORA
It’s something to see. Your skin dies. In patches. Rots off. Pretty cool shit.

ALEJANDRA
Sounds like what’s been happening to this country.

ZAMORA
I thought you had no memory.

ALEJANDRA
I remember that once a border town was a place to pass through―but then I got stuck here.

ZAMORA
Stuck here? You should be grateful. Who would’ve thought years later the power all resides here? In our hands.

ALEJANDRA
Yes, who would’ve thought that the rest of Mexico would look like the colonias? Soon the whole damn thing will be some makeshift hell. You and your rivals carving up what’s left.

ZAMORA
I recall once you said we run the country better than the government.

ALEJANDRA
I was young and stupid then.

ZAMORA
But you were never young, Alejandra.

BEAT

ZAMORA
(continuing)
You know the craziest part? I’m willing to bet even after the gringos hear how their skin will rot, they’ll keep buying the coke. But my bosses aren’t sure about that. So that’s why we got to do a lot of business―and soon.

ALEJANDRA
You want me to run and get caught, so others can carry it over.

ZAMORA
No, others run so you can carry it over.

ALEJANDRA
What?

ZAMORA
So while border patrol is busying arresting a bunch of filthy illegals, thinking it a real coup, that they grabbed so many Homeros, you’re meeting your contact. Like I said, no strip searches, nothing. And we send a car to pick you up. Star treatment.

ALEJANDRA
But if I’m caught―

ZAMORA
No one can run as fast as you.

ALEJANDRA
You’ll give me up and I’ll rot in some prison.

ZAMORA
I’m sure your gringo will erase you from the files. It’s win-win…for you.

ALEJANDRA
So I’m just another drug mule.

ZAMORA
Animals don’t get star treatment.

ALEJANDRA
(looking at the dead body)
It sounds like you’ve been planning this.

ZAMORA
What can I say, luck is also on my side. We have that in common.

ALEJANDRA
We have nothing in common. You’ve hardly had the life I had.

ZAMORA
I’ve had less, and done worse.

ALEJANDRA
Says the man who pays others to break legs so he won’t sully his pretty suit.

ZAMORA
If you knew some of the things I’ve done, you’d have nightmares for years.

ALEJANDRA
I don’t doubt that. It’s that I struggle not to remember―while it’s so easy for you to forget.

ZAMORA
Memory is wasted on the weak.

ALEJANDRA
I’m not talking about remorse.

ZAMORA
Neither am I.

ALEJANDRA
Did you kill her?

ZAMORA
Be ready in an hour. We’ll send a car for you. Star treatment.

ALEJANDRA
Because I don’t think you’d just wait for her to die―

ZAMORA
Do you really care?

ALEJANDRA
I want to know the truth.

ZAMORA
Truth? That weighs too heavy to carry.

BEAT

ALEJANDRA
How much will I have on me?

ZAMORA
Just enough not to slow you down―too much.

ALEJANDRA
That’s vague.

ZAMORA
You’ll see soon enough.

ALEJANDRA
How soon?

ZAMORA
You start tonight.

ALEJANDRA
What?

ZAMORA
Your usual cargo will serve as the decoy this time.

ALEJANDRA
But they paid so they could cross over―

ZAMORA
Like you give a shit about the Homeros any more than I do. Only some will be caught.

ALEJANDRA
How many?

ZAMORA
It doesn’t matter.

ALEJANDRA
It does. I have a reputation―

ZAMORA
Reputation? Yeah, respect from a bunch of nobodies.

ALEJANDRA
It could hurt business. I’m known for getting people across―

ZAMORA
At least half need to be caught.

ALEJANDRA
That’s a lot. I think word will get around. Then no one will want me to take them over.

(There is a pause.)

ZAMORA
At the moment I’m giving serious thought to saying, the hell with it and―

ALEJANDRA
Give me one more run.

ZAMORA
―break those pretty legs of yours…. wait, what?

ALEJANDRA
One more run as a decoy.

ZAMORA
I’m giving you gold and you keep wanting to be a dead animal.

ALEJANDRA
Decoys aren’t dead animals.

ZAMORA
Doesn’t matter in the end, does it?

ALEJANDRA
One more. I have a reputation here for our customers. If a whole bunch get deported back, it will hurt business. Let me make this run tonight and I’ll set something up that’s actually worth it.

ZAMORA
How?

ALEJANDRA
With my… contact on the other side. I’ll get him to help the run… go more smoothly.

ZAMORA
How exactly will you do that?

ALEJANDRA
If I told you, then it wouldn’t be worth much would it?

(There is a pause.)

ZAMORA
Little Alejandra wants to be a player.

ALEJANDRA
Let me set it up, and you won’t even need me to run a few kilos. You could just drive over a truckload if you want.

ZAMORA
I don’t think your little gringo has that much power.

ALEJANDRA
He’s been there for years. His friends, he―takes care of. They are well-taken care of.

ZAMORA
We know that already.

ALEJANDRA
Sounds like power to me.

(Zamora considers her for a moment.)

ZAMORA
(looking at the dead body)
Don’t do anything stupid, Alejandra… This is the last time.

ALEJANDRA
Is that a promise? No surprises?

ZAMORA
I should be asking you that… Do what you have to do to get the deal done, but remember. Don’t do anything stupid. Or you’ll regret it. In ways you don’t want to imagine.

ALEJANDRA
The older I get, the less I imagine.

ZAMORA
The old die young so the young can eat from their remains. I know that as well as you… But you’re not so young anymore and I’m sure as hell not. And we don’t walk on water. Because we both have masters despite our dreams of a leash-free existence. We always leave behind our smell of sewers and brown water… We can only really know each other.

ALEJANDRA
You don’t know me.

ZAMORA
I know that sad, scared little girl caught in the river. She was Homero too. One of five children on an Oaxacan farm, whose mother died halfway in the Sonoran desert, who too left behind a sick grandmother in San Luis Potosí.
(ZAMORA starts to leave.)

ALEJANDRA
And you, Zamora?

ZAMORA
Me?

ALEJANDRA
What of you?

ZAMORA
I know if we pull this off, we’re going to make a shitload of money.

ALEJANDRA
How did you rise up in the ranks?

ZAMORA
You mean, instead of having to break legs, I have men who do it for me? That’s something you should tell your gringo about: how I have men who just break people’s legs!

ALEJANDRA
I share very little with him.

ZAMORA
We’ll see.

(Alejandra picks up the files off the ground and give them to him.)

ZAMORA
(continuing)
Like you, I have no memory, Alejandra… We are more alike than you think.

ZAMORA EXITS

(Alejandra settles over Consuelo’s body.)

ALEJANDRA
I have no master. I have no past. I do not carry anymore what I left behind. I carry only myself as I am now. For years, I have been another’s journey into the unknown. I have led, but still I am nowhere. In the night I have been caught, but still cannot be found…
(She leans over to pray but finds she can’t.)

ALEJANDRA
(continuing)
You taught me never to envy those who crossed, for they now live in the unknown. For me, every sunrise warmed another’s soul. But now I am growing cold.

Cold as you, Consuelo. Cold as you now, cold as you always were. Cold as we could be. But tonight, tonight… I will not come back. I will not return. I will risk the standing line.
(Alejandra arises and begins to walk toward audience.)

ALEJANDRA
(continuing)
And if they catch up to me, I will lead them astray. And if they catch me, I will pull away to charge down the banks of the river. And if they catch me, I will jump from the river’s edge,
I will drown, I will drown them, remain half-grown, with wild hair of river plants.

LIGHTS OUT

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