Shot While Trying to Escape

Gray_bird house_2012-07-31

2013-05-17 – In 1987, I wrote a one-act play called “Shot While Trying to Escape.” The title was based on a standard excuse that the Nazi Gestapo used to explain various political assassinations—or so I had read at the time.

The play was the story of a young Jewish man who had, against the wishes of his family, decided to devote his life to being a Nazi hunter—a difficult occupation, considering that by 1987 any surviving top-level Nazi would be in his eighties or nineties or older by that time.

As the play opens we learn that our Nazi hunter had caught a big one and had invited the FBI to come and take custody. The big one was Adolph Hitler himself and his mistress Eva Braun.

Problem was, the couple he had captured were black.

Not only were they black, but they were apparently in their thirties. Hitler would have been 98. And the man was well over six feet tall and Hitler was 5’8”. The FBI agent was not amused. But in a sense of fairness, he allowed the Nazi hunter to state his case. The physical mismatch, according to the Nazi hunter was simply a diabolically clever disguise. The FBI agent didn’t buy any of it and informed the Nazi hunter that he was under arrest for kidnapping.

The Nazi hunter became distraught. He drew a gun and fired at the black Hitler and began to run. The FBI agent drew his gun and gave chase. A gun is fired offstage. A cry is heard.

This left the black couple on stage alone to attend to the black man’s wound. Up until this point the couple had spoken perfect English, but in distress, they began speaking in German.

Curtain. End of play.

Now. In my mind, if the audience thought the Nazi hunter’s case was delusional, they would have laughed. If they had any doubts, though, I thought they would gasp.

They gasped.

Now, does this mean that the audience was willing to accept any slander of a black man, no matter how ridiculous? The fact that the couple spoke German didn’t make the Nazi hunter’s claim more credible. The man was not Adolph Hitler no matter what he spoke. The physical differences were just too great.

Of course this is fiction. Writers try to get audiences to believe all sorts of things. It was great fun for me to hear how the audience reacted.

It’s now 26 years later, and a similar play is happening—but this time it is playing out for real.

The black man is Barack Obama. And the “tyrant” he is suspected of being is . . . Richard Nixon.

And so the hunters of delusion have cooked up a variety of cases to prove that Barack Obama is a hard ball politician like Richard Nixon. And they want us to believe it.

A hard ball politician?  Really? (I almost wish he had some of that in him.)

Are we going to gasp or laugh?

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