Remembering Uzza

A Black Comedy in Three Acts

(1st draft)

2.2 Apple Juice, Shirley Temples and Burning Logs

Archie: So what will it be; tea, coffee, orange juice … a glass of water, maybe a glass of milk?

Uzza: I think I will have what they're having [pointing to Gerry and Bob who are drinking beer].

Archie: I thought you said you had read the sign?

Uzza: No I didn't!

Archie: Well, if you had, you would not be asking me to serve you a drink containing alcohol.

Uzza: I can't win can I?

Archie: No, I'm sorry.

Uzza: Fine, do you have apple juice?

Archie: Looks a lot like some white wine we serve, or light beer. Are you sure?

Uzza: Of course!

Archie: It's your funeral. It might be safer if I give it to you in a cup.

Uzza: Nobody drinks apple juice from a cup except children.

Archie: Fine, in a water glass then, a small one.

[Archie brings Uzza an apple juice just as the head of a balding bearded man appears at the top of the stairs leading into the pub. Just behind him the outline of a head in a lightly wound hijab. The eyes behind a face-covering-veil, the niqab, move from side to side like a Cylon's as it slowly makes its way up the stair. From the neck down the figure is cloaked in a bulky burka-like covering. Black cloves complete the cloak which, except for the eyes, leave everything to the imagination. The cloaked figure is taller than the short man it is with. Both the balding, bearded man and the impressive form which now towers over him make their way to the bar and stop to survey the range of bottles on shelves in front of a bar-length mirror.]

Archie: Can I pour you a Holy Warrior my friend. [he knows better then to ask the cloaked figure what it wants, and to avoid eye contact even though its eyes, which have quit darting about, are fixated on him]

Balding, bearded man: [looking Archie in the eye and in a punctuated sentence] I, am, not, your, friend!

[After those few words, the bearded balding man and his cloaked companion proceed to the end of the bar where Uzza is sitting.]

Cloaked figure: [leans over, and in hoarse whisper which everyone can hear] Whore! [Uzza ignores it].

[One last look around and both the cloaked figure and the balding bearded man disappear down the stairs.]

Gerry: That was creepy!

Archie: There was nothing to worry about, if they had been packing anything they would not have gotten pass the metal and explosives detector and the bomb-proof doors would not have opened.

Gerry: That is not what I meant.

Archie: It's not like the old days when there was nobody at the door except the occasional doorman on busy nights to check for id.

Gerry: Yeah, and what the hell is a Holy Warrior?

Archie: It’s a mix of ginger, grenadine and orange juice.

Gerry: Isn’t that a Shirley Temple?

Archie: Not anymore, and let’s not mention it again. It’s now a man’s drink, the type of drink that  men who believe that drinking alcohol is a sin drinks, and you do not give a man’s drink a woman’s name where they come from.

Uzza: [sees this as opportunity to join the conversation] Did you know that ginger and grenadine or grenade which is French for pomegranate are mentioned in the Koran as some of the best foods Paradise has to offer.

Gerry: Sorry, what did you just say?

Uzza: [raising her voice] I said that… [but before she has a chance to repeat what she just said, Gerry is next to her]

Gerry: Hi, my name is Gerry, what was your name again.

Uzza: [hesitantly shakes his hand] Uzza.

Gerry: Nice to meet you Uzza. So Allah drinks Shirley Temples... sorry Holy Warriors.

Uzza: Allah does not require food or drink.

Gerry: So how do you know that in Paradise you will have the makings of a Shirley Temple?

Uzza: There is no mention of oranges per se in the Koran, but Allah did reveal in surah 76, ayat 17 “And they are given therein to drink a cup whose mixture is ginger” and in 55:68 he told the Prophet Muhammad (the peace and blessings of God be upon him) that in Paradise there are palm trees and pomegranates.

Gerry: What's a Sir Ah, and what’s a hey-at.

Uzza: Ayat, surah is a chapter of the Koran and ayat means a verse.

Gerry: Beautiful, and can quote verses from the Koran, I’m in love.

[Uzza is slightly embarrassed but finds Gerry’s charm hard to resist.]

Uzza: Muslim children are expected to have read the Koran from cover to cover by the age of seven, and if we attend a madrassa, that is a Muslim school, every day you will at least spend an hour memorizing the Koran. Today, it's much longer since madrassas or no longer subjected to the old provincial educational laws.

Gerry: So Uzza, when did a good looking woman like you become a Muslim?

Uzza: I did not become a Muslim. A child born to Muslim parents is born a Muslim and must remain a Muslim for life.

[Archie, Bob and Johnny have been watching and listening as Gerry does his Sam Malone impression.]

Bob: [shouts to be heard] I heard about that, if you don’t want to be a Muslim anymore they kill you.

[Uzza ignores him. Thinking she did not hear him, he joins them and repeats his comments, this time as a question.]

Bob: So is it true that you could be killed if you decide to quit being a Muslim?

Gerry: [sensing unease in Uzza] Don’t mind him; this is my former friend Bob.

Bob: Hi. [extends his hand but Uzza doesn’t take it]

Archie: [thinking that a joke might be in order, Archie comes over to tell Uzza a joke which he thinks she might appreciate] I got a joke for you. What is the difference between a log and an unbeliever?

Uzza: That is an old joke, and I don’t care to hear it again. [she picks up her apple juice and moves further down the bar close to where Johnny is sipping his scotch]

Gerry: What was that all about?

Archie: I don’t know, I got the joke from a guy that looked a lot like the guy we just saw.

Bob: So what is the difference between a log and an unbeliever?

Archie: When you throw a log into the Fire it doesn’t scream and moan!

Bob: What fire?

Archie: Hell’s Fire. You have to be a believer to appreciate it.

Gerry: No kidding!

Archie: You say that a lot, don't you?

Gerry: No kidding.