See a by-the-book naval officer try to convince a family to evacuate their island home
in this excerpt from the play West of Amchitka Lies the End of the World.
HOWARD: What’s he doing here?
JUDITH: He’s doing his best not to love my lemonade.
MICHAEL: Mr. Thurmin. Miss Thurmin.
MICHAEL: Please, Mr. Thurmin…
HOWARD: Professor. I didn’t teach history for ten years to be called mister.
MICHAEL: Professor Thurmin. You have to understand; I’m only following orders. It’s for your own protection.
HOWARD: Young man, one does not leave a bunker to feel more protected. I swear, what are they teaching at Annapolis these days? Crocheting?
MICHAEL: (pulling out papers and an envelope) These are the papers, Professor. The evacuation instructions. You need to sign them and start packing. There’s nothing more I can do for you.
HOWARD: Nothing more you can do? What exactly is it that you’ve done for us so far?
MICHAEL: The entire US military is waiting for this island, sir. Why do you think they haven’t stormed the beaches?
HOWARD: Johnson doesn’t want to pay overtime?
ANNE: I’ll handle this, Dad. Captain, it’s time to go. Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and hit the road.
MICHAEL: (to JUDITH) Charming?
JUDITH: (taking a sip of lemonade) Call it an acquired taste. Sweet, but sour.
MICHAEL: May I speak to Miss Thurmin? Alone?
HOWARD: You have some nerve –
ANNE: It’s all right, Dad. I can take him.
MICHAEL: I believe you.
JUDITH: Come on, Howard. Let Annie talk to him. Maybe they can work out a compromise.
HOWARD: High and dry, Annie, high and dry, that’s where we leave him, right?
HOWARD and JUDITH exit, exchanging significant glances with ANNE and MICHAEL, respectively.
MICHAEL: Look, Miss Thurmin –
ANNE: Enough. No more beating around the bush. Why am I here? Why are you here? What is it that you want from my family?
MICHAEL: I can’t –
ANNE: And if you tell me you can’t say, I’ll scream.
MICHAEL: (pause) It’s Top Sec–
ANNE opens her mouth to scream.
Okay, no, wait! Look, I… I’ll tell you a little. You were right about this island, what you said before about its importance. Geographically, I mean. It’s situated perfectly between us –
ANNE: And Russia! That’s it, right?
MICHAEL: I must abide by our policy of strategic ambiguity…
ANNE: So what, you need to set up a listening post? To build a base for spy operations against the Reds? To construct a harbour for a secret, underground submarine station?
MICHAEL: Something like that. I’m really not allowed to say anything more.
ANNE: Look, my dad might be a bit stubborn, but he loves military history. Have you told him this? He’ll be the first to say yes. He’d probably build you a ham radio right next to the refrigerator.
MICHAEL: I have asked him, Miss Thurmin. He’s said no. Multiple times. That’s why I brought you here.
ANNE: But that doesn’t make sense. The man I know would jump at this opportunity. To share his island with a secret military installation?
MICHAEL: Well, that’s the problem. The US Navy doesn’t share.
ANNE: That is a terrible compromise.
MICHAEL: The US Navy doesn’t compromise, either.
ANNE: That’s ridiculous! Then we’re saying no!
MICHAEL: The US Navy doesn’t take no for an answer, Miss Thurmin. Your parents will move. They just have to choose the easy way –.
ANNE: Or the hard way. Captain, look around you. Does it seem like my parents have a history of choosing the easy way? Do you think growing up out here was easy?
MICHAEL: I don’t know. I’ve been ordered to evacuate your family, not understand them.
ANNE: Well, we’re not leaving.
ANNE: That’s right. You brought me here, but all you did was make my side stronger.
MICHAEL: Then I guess you’re trapped here.
ANNE: If I want to get to the mainland, I’ll get to the mainland. My father has a boat.
MICHAEL: He does. But I have a fleet.
ANNE: You don’t intimidate me, Captain. This is my home turf. The Japanese built this bunker to withstand invasion.
MICHAEL: And they lost to the US Navy.
ANNE: Get out!
MICHAEL: Miss Thurmin…
ANNE: I said get out! Don’t come back until you learn to share, and maybe not even then!
MICHAEL: Miss Thurmin, you don’t understand. My government is willing to reimburse you for the cost of the island. Their offer is very generous –
ANNE: Mum! Dad! Oh, I understand. You’re trying to buy my home, my whole life. Well, I can’t just sell my childhood, Captain. Would you like that? All my memories, 70% off? That’s not how it works!
HOWARD and JUDITH enter.
JUDITH: What’s going on?
HOWARD: Annie, are you alright?
ANNE: I’m fine. The Captain was just leaving.
HOWARD: That’s my girl.
JUDITH: Oh dear. I’m sorry, Captain.
ANNE: Don’t apologise to him. He’s the enemy! He’s trying to take over the island!
HOWARD: Him and what army?
JUDITH: Literally the strongest army in the world.
HOWARD: Well, they’re no match for this army standing right here! (HOWARD hugs JUDITH and ANNE to his sides)
MICHAEL: Thank God there are only three of you on this rock.
There is a loud thump at the door.
ANNE: What was that?
JUDITH: So much for a deserted island.