(It is the last night in Peking. The President is very, very tired: the lights do not flatter him. The First Lady looks fragile and heavily powdered. Madame Mao is smaller than they had remembered her. And Chou En- lai seems old and quite worn out. Only Chairman Mao appears at his best, full of the joy of youth and the hope of revolution in his picture on the wall. Dr. Kissinger is impatient. He scratches the back of his neck, his nose, and his ear)
KISSINGER Some men you cannot satisfy.
NIXON That's what I tell them.
KISSINGER They can't say you didn't tell them.
NIXON It's no good. All that I say is misconstrued.
Your lipstick's crooked.
PAT Is it? Oh. There isn't much that I can do, is there? Who's seen my handkerchief?
CHOU Please accept mine.
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING I've heard enough. Who chose these numbers?
KISSINGER All of us. Doesn't she like the people's choice?
NIXON Now for a solo on the spoons!
PAT I like it when they play our tunes.
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING This should be better. Hit it, boys!
PAT Oh! California! Hold me close.
MAO I am no one.
CHOU We fight, we die. And if we do not fight we die.
KISSINGER That's how it goes.
MAO I am unknown. Give me a cigarette.
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING Come down. Give me your hand, old man.
MAO Why not?
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING (To Mao) Let's dance.
MAO Give me a cigarette.
(She takes his hand and he climbs out of the portraits' background)
CHOU And to what end? Tell me.
KISSINGER Premier, Please, where's the toilet?
CHOU Through that door.
KISSINGER Excuse me for one moment, please.
(Kissinger exits at the double)
CHOU We saw our parents' nakedness; rivers of blood will be required to cover them. Rivers of blood.
PAT I squeezed your pay check till it screamed, there was the rent, there were those damned slipcovers, and the groceries.
NIXON You made that place a home.
PAT That place was heaven next to this.
(Mao and Chiang Ch'ing begin to dance)
** NIXON You should think positive. Try not to brood.
PAT The trouble was, we moved too much. We should have stayed put, Dick.
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING We'll teach these motherfuckers how to dance!
CHOU It makes me sick. **
MAO We did this once before
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING Oh? When?
MAO It was the time that tasty little starlet came to infiltrate my headquarters.
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING Go on!
PAT I thank my lucky stars I kept those letters that you wrote from the Pacific. Seems like that was the best time of all; you had my picture, and each night I read your mind.
NIXON What an idealist.
CHOU A bankrupt people repossessed the ciphers of its history and not one character could say whether the war was over yet or if they'd written off the debt.
MAO What did she call herself? Lan P'ing?
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING You named me. I was very young.
NIXON There was so much I couldn't tell.
PAT Such as?
MAO You were a little fool.
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING And your best pupil.
CHOU In Yenan we were just boys.
MAO Revolution is a boys' game.
CHOU I have grown old and done no more work than a child.
NIXON Sitting round the radio with the enlisted men, I knew my time had come. The signal cleared transmitting nothing like a word. There was a cross round one guy's neck. I noticed that.
PAT You told me, Dick.
NIXON The corrugated metal roof shook in the rain. The men were safe. I said goodbye to you then, Pat.
PAT Did you?
NIXON Then I began to wait. The rain seeped in under the door. The lights went out.
PAT You told me, dear.
NIXON That was the time I should have died.
MAO Let us examine what you did. we led a quiet life, we grew stronger, we walked behind the plow. And as we worked year after year the yellow dust that filled the air softened the Buddha's well-known face and made him seem like one of us
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING We ate wild apricots.
CHOU The taste is in my mouth. Once we had roast and a light film of dust settled on each plate. Your few subjectivist mistakes ...
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING Small lizards basked among the rocks, warm as your hand.
MAO Only confirm mythology's eternal charm; roused from a state of seeming rest its landscape offers up the ghost, an ancient tactical retreat, retrenched in the inanimate. These things were men.
NIXON When I woke up I dimly realized the Jap bombers had given us a miss...
** It was the weather I suppose **
PAT Thank heaven for that.
NIXON Then I went out already it was meeting hot, a cloud of steam rose from the base just like a Roman sacrifice.
PAT I never doubted you'd come back. I always knew.
NIXON I felt so weak with disappointment and relief everything seemed larger than life.
CHOU I have no offspring. In my dreams the peasants with their hundred names, unnamed children and nameless wives deaden my footsteps like dead leaves; no one I killed, but those I saw starved to death.
MAO Saved from our decay. Admire that perfect skeleton, those veins, that skin like cellophane. Take them and press them in a book. Dare we behave as if the meek will mark the places of the wise?
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING The masses stride ahead of us. We follow.
CHOU Only they can tell how the land lies, where the pitfall was excavated, the mines laid...
MAO The instant before bombs explode intricate struggles coexist within an entity, embraced till they ignite.
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING I can keep still, I can say footing for a while, while the sparks die high in the air the sun moves on. Nothing I fear has ever harmed me, why should you? Marshal your forces, I'll lie low. The drought has made me thin and strong. When they took off their coasts and hung them over branches, and the pick scraped this eroded ground, I shook with pure excitement.
NIXON After that...
PAT A penny for your thoughts.
NIXON The sweat had soaked my uniform,
** my hair dripped down my forehead... **
PAT Did it dear? You've always suffered terribly from nervous perspiration.
NIXON I began to take in all the sights. Picture a thousand coconuts like mandrills' heads or native masks, milk oozing from their broken husks, the flooded rib of a palm frond where several centipedes had drowned, unsanded wood that smelled like meat... Jesus, it grabbed you by the throat.
PAT Wonder what I was doing then? Dressing up as if you'd walk in at any moment. Go on, dear. Don't let me interrupt.
NIXON The war was dislocated. Hold a shell up to your ear. Guadalcanal sounds distant, roughly like the sea.
MAO As they advance we melt away into the underbrush; we strike while they're asleep, a single spark sets them alight. Cast the net wide and draw it in.
CHOU The east is red; as we ride eastwards to Peking preoccupied with our last long triumphant march, the early light embalms each soldier on the route
** MAO Well said! **
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING Peking watches the stars, Nanking slips naked. Murderers stretch out in doorways in Shanghai. Chungking's old-fashioned armory lies undefended. Yenan rests like a wise virgin. All the coasts are clear, and all the oceans still as we ride eastwards.
MAO We recoil from victory and all its works. What do you think of that, Karl Marx? Speak up!
HUNG CHIANG CH'ING We should go underground. The revolution must not end.
MAO As we ride eastwards to Peking I shut my eyes and, listening Hard, hear the old harmonium we left behind, I-I-I dream that shoals of small transparent fish race down a shallow river.
** HUNG CHIANG CH'ING Hush. **
PAT You won at poker.
NIXON I sure did. I had a system. Five-card stud taught me a lot about mankind. Speak softly and don't show your hand became my motto.
PAT Tell me more.
NIXON Well, the Pacific theater was not much to write home about.
PAT Yes, dear. I think you told me that. I read it while I did my hair and put it in my stocking drawer with all the others.
NIXON I was "Nick". I must have told you that.
PAT Yes, Dick.
NIXON Christ, it was beautiful. I swapped spam for hamburger meat and roped in a few men to rig a stand. They called it "Nick's Snack Shack". I found the smell of burgers on the grill made strong men cry. Now, Bougainville was a refuelling stop...
PAT I know. Each fighter pilot that came through got a free burger and a beer.
NIXON Done to a turn: medium - rare, rare, medium, well-done, anything you say. The Customer is King. Sorry we're low on relish. Drinks? This is my way of saying thanks.