Faceless

By Selina Fillinger


Draft: 2/2/17

Ó 2017 Selina Fillinger

CHARACTERS


CLAIRE FATHI (pronounced FAH-Tee): 30. Father Iranian, mother French. Wears a headscarf.


SUSIE GLENN: 18. White. Wears a headscarf. SCOTT BADER: Federal prosecutor.

MARK ARENBERG: Susie’s defense attorney. ALAN GLENN: Susie’s father.

FACELESS MAN: A looming silhouette. Voiced in turn by the three male actors.


SETTING


Chicago. 2016/2017.


NOTE


Ellipses (…) indicate a suppression, a revelation, a charged moment. They signify the only breaks in what should otherwise be rapid-fire dialogue.


A forward slash (/) indicates where the following line overlaps, a dash (—) indicates where a line is cut off.


This world transforms at lightning speed, and in front of our very eyes.



"See, I wanna know if you believe in any god or if you believe in many gods

or better yet

what gods believe in you.

And for all the times that you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself, have the prayers you asked come true?

And if they didn’t, did you feel denied? And if you felt denied,

denied by who?”


- Andrea Gibson

1.


An office. Claire sits across from Federal Prosecutor Scott Bader. They smile tensely at each other.


CLAIRE

Oh my god.


BADER

That a yes?


CLAIRE

I don’t know what to say.


BADER

Say yes.


CLAIRE

You’re the reason I became a prosecutor.


BADER

That’s sweet.


CLAIRE

I wrote about you in my thesis, actually, and all you’ve done to crack down on drug trafficking—


BADER

I don’t work Narcotics anymore—


Breathlessly, without missing a beat:


CLAIRE

And I love that, love how varied your career has been because I don’t want to be pigeonholed either, and you’ve been everywhere: Special Prosecutions, Criminal Prosecutions, Public Integrity—


BADER

I’m anti-terrorism these days.


Unable to spin that one, she attempts joke:


CLAIRE

Aren’t we all!


BADER

No, unfortunately.

CLAIRE

That was a joke, I was kidding—


CLAIRE

Not about being anti-terrorism! I take terrorism very seriously and I want nothing more than to serve my country / but—


BADER

Great. The arraignment’s Wednesday, 8 AM. I’ve notified your superiors you’ll be assisting me full time.


CLAIRE

Oh actually—


BADER

What.


CLAIRE

The thing is—


BADER

What.


CLAIRE (Small)

With all due respect I have to decline. Sir.



BADER

“Decline.”


CLAIRE (Rapidly)

But I heard you’re looking to replace David on the Marvin Keeny prosecution and I think I could be / a valuable—


BADER

I filled the spot yesterday.


CLAIRE

Well maybe the Andrews case then, because I’ve already assisted on a couple other embezzlement—


BADER

They settled this morning. Why don’t you take a few minutes to read through this case file.

CLAIRE

Look, I’m really flattered that you thought of me—


BADER

I didn’t think of you. I didn’t know you existed until 3 hours ago when Barkley—actually Barkley’s secretary suggested you—and the only reason she knew you existed was because, well let’s be honest, you probably stick out a bit in the break room, am I right, Miss…?


CLAIRE

Fathi. It’s actually Fathi. That’s okay, you can just call me Claire.

BADER

Fah-thee? Fattie? Am I saying that right?


BADER

I know I can call you Claire. I was being respectful of our cultural differences and my ex- wife told me that women like it when you ask them questions, but you ruined that nice moment between us. So, Claire, you came into existence 3 hours ago.


CLAIRE

I’ve actually worked here 10 months—


BADER

And I’ve been a federal prosecutor 16 years. Which means I’ve spent my adult life breathing good humans into existence and snuffing bad humans out of existence. And now I find myself in the position of determining what to do with your existence. Are you following me, Claire? Your file says you went to Harvard Law so I assume you’re keeping up.


CLAIRE

I’m keeping up—


BADER

I assume you can read a case file.


CLAIRE

I can read a—


BADER

Good.


He throws the file down in front of Claire.


BADER

Meet Susie Glenn.

Visitation room. Susie sits across from Defense Attorney Mark Arenberg. She wears a prison uniform and a headscarf. She stares at the table.


ARENBERG

You’ll be very sympathetic on the stand. Do you know what that means, kiddo?


SUSIE

I’m not stupid.


ARENBERG

I just want to make sure you know what’s going on—


SUSIE

I know what’s going on.


ARENBERG

Good. Straight-A student, no previous criminal record, cooperating with officials—these are all good things. Your mother’s passing last year—well, that’s not a good thing, but it helps our plea.


SUSIE

That I’m insane.


ARENBERG

That you were unable at the time to fully comprehend the consequences / of your—


SUSIE

Where’s Gary.


ARENBERG

I told you, kiddo, Gary was court appointed. Your father hired me to replace him.


SUSIE

Nobody asked me!


ARENBERG

Kiddo—


Her head snaps up.


SUSIE (Hard)

I’m not your kiddo. I’m not a kid. I’m 18. That makes me an adult.


ARENBERG (Hard)

You’re right, Susie, you are an adult. And you are being charged as such in a federal court.


SUSIE

Gary said they might not have enough to go to trial—


ARENBERG

Gary should wait for his frontal lobe to finish developing before he offers legal counsel. This is going to trial.


SUSIE

How do you know?


ARENBERG

Because the FBI has 8 months of online communication between you and a jihadist, because you were arrested boarding an international flight, and because you are, as you say, an adult. So unless you want to serve an adult’s term in an adult’s prison for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism against the United States of America, you will take my legal counsel as gospel. Or as—whatchamacallit—Qur’an. Whatever puts the fear of God in you.


SUSIE

I am not the one who should be afraid.


Bader’s office. Claire skims the case file.


CLAIRE

She’s white?


BADER

Wonder Bread white. Dad’s a paramedic. Mom was a police officer until she was killed on the job last year.


CLAIRE

White girl, dead mother? She’ll get a year, max.


BADER

We’re asking twenty, no parole.


CLAIRE

That’s crazy.


BADER

Ambitious.

CLAIRE

Unprecedented.


BADER

So is the current political climate. America is enraged. Leniency is no longer an option.


CLAIRE

You go after a girl like that with a sentence like that you will look like a bully.


BADER

I would. You won’t.


Visitation room.


SUSIE

You could be lying! You could be anyone! How does my dad even know you?


ARENBERG

My son was in a car accident a few years ago and your father was one of the paramedics who responded. Saved my boy’s life.


SUSIE

Well are you a good lawyer?


ARENBERG

I’m excellent.


SUSIE

Then we can’t afford you.


ARENBERG

Your dad’s remortgaging the house.



SUSIE

You should cut him a deal.


ARENBERG

I already am—


SUSIE

You could pull some strings.


ARENBERG

I already did

SUSIE

It’s the least you can do for the man / who saved—


ARENBERG

Do you have any idea how many clients we’re gonna lose when it gets out I’m representing a terrorist?


Bader’s office. Claire is working hard to remain sweet. Bader skims her file.


CLAIRE

I’m sure you understand how it could look?


BADER

No.


CLAIRE

The position it puts me in?


BADER

No.


CLAIRE

To get known right out of the gate as the “Muslim lawyer”—


BADER

You are the Muslim lawyer.


CLAIRE

I am Muslim, but that’s not why I was hired here.


BADER

How do you know?


Still smiling, but with the slightest edge to her voice:


CLAIRE

I don’t use my faith to fight my battles: that’s what ISIS does.


BADER

Huh, I use anything I got to fight my battles: that’s what America does—Were you born in the U.S.?


CLAIRE

Yes.

BADER (Reading)

Father Iranian, mother French. You speak French and Arabic?


CLAIRE

French and Farsi—


BADER

What?


CLAIRE

Iranians speak Farsi.


BADER

So you don’t know Arabic.


CLAIRE

I can read the formal Arabic that the Qur’an is written in.


BADER

So you don’t know Arabic. How devout would you say you are?


CLAIRE

Pardon?


BADER

Well you have that thing on your head so you’re obviously practicing, but the rest of you looks pretty normal. I mean, put on some makeup / and you’d be quite—


CLAIRE (Low)

This is inappropriate—


BADER

No, this is trial prep—


She finally snaps:


CLAIRE

No, this is inappropriate. And I would think that a man of your position would want to be extra careful in avoiding any reports of sexual harassment and racial insensitivity in the workplace, particularly these days, since the talk in the break room—which I am privy to, even though I do, as you say, “stick out”—since the talk in the break room is that your ex-wife is fighting for and, as of right now, succeeding in getting complete custody of your kids. So I would guess that your lawyer has advised you to avoid bad press at all costs, and, therefore, I would advise you to listen when a woman says that something you are doing or saying is inappropriate—and while we’re on the subject of “no means no,” let me be clear: I will not take part in the Susie Glenn trial.

CLAIRE

I will not work on this case, I will not be the face of your prosecution, in fact, my face won’t be anywhere near any of this, because you and I both know it’s not my face you’re interested in, right? It’s my hijab.


BADER

Oh my god you’re perfect.


Visitation room.


ARENBERG

We need to talk about your headscarf.


SUSIE

It’s called a hijab.


ARENBERG

It could be detrimental—


SUSIE

I’m not taking it off.


ARENBERG

We need to show that you regret your mistakes.


SUSIE

Converting to Islam was not a mistake.


ARENBERG

And you converted how long ago?


SUSIE

Four months.


ARENBERG

Over Twitter.


SUSIE

Reza said / if I—


ARENBERG

Here on out you may only refer to him as “the ISIS soldier” or “the terrorist” or “that man.” Using his first name implies familiarity—


SUSIE

We were familiar, we were engaged.

ARENBERG

What’d he do—propose over Snapchat?


SUSIE

…Facebook.


Bader’s office. The dust is still settling from Claire’s outburst.


CLAIRE

I should go.


BADER

Just come to the arraignment.


CLAIRE

I need to go.


BADER

Just come to observe.


CLAIRE

It was nice meeting you—


BADER

Just to watch! Just for fun! For education! For educational fun!


As Claire reaches the door:


BADER

Where is your gratitude?


CLAIRE

What?


BADER.

You are the daughter of immigrants. You were given freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to vote, public schooling, you received world-class education from not one, but two universities, and you are currently employed by the U.S. government: We fucking built you. And now you stand in my office and say you are uncomfortable doing everything in your power to protect your country from terrorists? Yeah I find that pretty goddamn ungrateful. So you can decline this case, but you will be at that arraignment. Because if you’re going to let other people fight your fight, the least you can do is show up and watch.


Visitation room.

ARENBERG

I have to go, Susie, but you’re going to be fine.

SUSIE

Wait no, don’t leave me here—


SUSIE

Do you think I’m crazy?



ARENBERG

I’m praying you are.

2.


The night before Susie’s arrest. She chats online with Faceless Man.


SUSIE

and you’ll be there tomorrow right?


FACELESS MAN

Of course smiley face


SUSIE

I mean at the airport? you’ll be at the gate when i land right?


FACELESS MAN

Yes. With my friends.


SUSIE

oh


FACELESS MAN

It’s OK. You can trust them. They will take us from Turkey into Syria.


SUSIE

i just wish that the first time we see each other we could be alone


FACELESS MAN

Alone in an airport haha?


SUSIE

lol you know what i mean


FACELESS MAN

I do. I wish it too.



FACELESS MAN

U there?


SUSIE

sorry i thought i heard my dad but i think he went back into his room. you said I can call him once i get there? to let him know i’m okay?


FACELESS MAN

if you want to.

SUSIE

it’s just as soon as he realizes i’m gone and not at mrs. linden’s or school


FACELESS MAN

You trust me, yes?


SUSIE

of course i’m sorry i’m just nervous i’m just being dumb i’m just excited is all heart heart


FACELESS MAN

I know it is difficult to leave him


SUSIE

No it’s

It is God testing me.


FACELESS MAN

Yes.


SUSIE

My dad refuses to believe.


FACELESS MAN

Yes.


SUSIE

He would never let me be with you.


FACELESS MAN

No.


SUSIE

He holds me back from my rightful path.


FACELESS MAN

He holds you back from God.


SUSIE

well

not after tomorrow


FACELESS MAN

winkie face

3.


Visitation room. Alan and Susie sit across from each other.


ALAN

But Mark’s great, right? Great guy. You liked him, right?


SUSIE

I dunno.


ALAN

Great guy, great lawyer—


SUSIE

He doesn’t like me.


ALAN

Suze…


SUSIE

He doesn’t!


ALAN

He’s just professional—


SUSIE

He called me a terrorist!


ALAN

Yeah, well—


He stops himself but Susie knows what he was going to say.


ALAN

He’s got his own firm, his name’s even on the thing: Arenberg & Associates.


SUSIE

How much is he charging—


ALAN

I don’t remember, Suze, it doesn’t matter. We’re gonna take care of this, it’s going to be good—


Susie scoffs.

ALAN

What. Why are you. What’s / the matter.


SUSIE

Nothing.


ALAN

Can’t you just. You could at least try to—


SUSIE

What?


ALAN

Buck up!


SUSIE

Buck up? Are you seriously doing this right now? / I’m not, like, having a hard time at summer camp here, I’m, like, in prison—


ALAN

These visits are short and they’re not easy for me and you could at least make an effort to—okay, you’re not in prison, you’re in jail


SUSIE

You have no idea what it’s like! I could spend the rest of my life in here—


ALAN

Stop being such a drama queen. / That’s not going to happen—


SUSIE

I’m not—How do you know it’s not going to happen? You can’t know that—


ALAN

Mark’s a great lawyer, he’s really good / at what he does—


SUSIE

STOP SAYING THAT! NOTHING is great and good, EVERYTHING is bad / and I can’t I can’t I can’t—


ALAN

Okay, Suze, take a breath—


SUSIE

You need to get me out of here, I can’t stay in here, / you need to find a way to—

ALAN

They think you’re a flight risk so they’re not—


SUSIE

I can’t stay in here, they’ll kill me!


ALAN

Who will kill you?


SUSIE

The guards!


ALAN

The guards have hurt you?


SUSIE

They’re going to! They’re going to torture me! / They’re going to kill me—


ALAN

That’s ridiculous. You can’t just say stuff like that.


SUSIE

You can’t believe anything you read, Dad! / They lie, they lie about everything


ALAN

Nope no NO! I’m not going to have this conversation again!


SUSIE

Because they’re planning a second Holocaust—


ALAN

This is crazy, you / sound like a crazy person—


SUSIE

A complete obliteration of all Muslims—that’s why they’re bombing and torturing—


ALAN

What do you think ISIS does?


SUSIE

We do what we have to: this is war, it’s a Holy War, it’s a battle for our lives—


ALAN

You are from Chicago, Illinois! There’s no war, there’s no battling for lives—

SUSIE

You think people don’t die in Chicago?


ALAN

Not in the suburbs!


SUSIE

“Not in the suburbs?”


ALAN

You know what I mean! You can’t just go blowing America up because you disagree with—


SUSIE

It’s not like that! I told you, it’s propaganda—we’re not who the newspapers say we are—


Slamming the table:


ALAN

STOP SAYING “WE!”



ALAN

Okay. Okay. We’re both under a lot of stress and we’re both saying things we don’t mean, so let’s just…

Forget what I said. Because that was not—helpful—and what I meant to say was that…The house is very empty.

Without you and without… It’s very empty.

And I...



SUSIE

Oh my God don’t cry. I’m sorry. I didn’t / mean to, Daddy, it’s okay—


ALAN

I’m sorry, I love you I / love you…


SUSIE

I love you I love you I love you…


SUSIE

It’s gonna be okay. Mark is great. He’s a / great lawyer.


ALAN

I’m sorry I yelled, I know it makes you anxious / when I yell...


SUSIE

It’s fine, you were angry.


ALAN

No, I’m just. I was so scared—I mean, when I found your boarding pass I didn’t know what—


SUSIE

What.



SUSIE

You found my boarding pass?



SUSIE

And then what.


ALAN

We don’t need to—


SUSIE

What did you do after you found my boarding pass?



SUSIE

You turned me in. You turned / me in—


ALAN

They had already been following you for months, / they already knew


SUSIE

My own father—


ALAN

I saved your life!

SUSIE

Do you know what they’ve done to me / in here, what they’re going to do to me—


ALAN

They haven’t done ANYTHING to you because this is AMERICA—


SUSIE

I HATE YOU—


ALAN

Susie—


SUSIE

MOM WOULD HAVE DIED BEFORE DOING THIS TO ME—


ALAN

YOUR MOM WOULD HAVE PUT YOU IN CUFFS HERSELF!



ALAN

Suze—


SUSIE

DON’T TOUCH ME!

GET. OUT.

4.


Claire and Susie stand in separate pools of light—eyes closed, palms to the sky.


CLAIRE

Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem


SUSIE

In the Name of God, The Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy


CLAIRE

Al hamdu lillaahi rabbil ‘alameen


SUSIE

Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds


CLAIRE

Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem


SUSIE

The Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy


CLAIRE

Maaliki yaumid Deen


SUSIE

Master of the Day of Judgment


CLAIRE

Iyyaaka na’abudu wa iyyaaka nasta’een


SUSIE

It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help.


CLAIRE

Ihdinas siraatal mustaqeem


SUSIE

Guide us to the straight path


CLAIRE

Siraatal ladheena an ‘amta’ alaihim


SUSIE

The path of those You have blessed

CLAIRE

Ghairil maghduubi’ alaihim


SUSIE

Those who incur no anger


CLAIRE

Waladaaleen


SUSIE

And who have not gone astray.


They turn and face each other. The sound of a gavel…

5.


The courtroom. Bader and Arenberg compete to be heard. Claire and Susie stand behind them, observing each other with sidelong glances.


ARENBERG

Not guilty, Your Honor, and we ask that Miss Glenn be moved out of her solitary confinement—


BADER

She’s not in solitary confinement, she has a private cell, which is as much for her own safety as it is for others’—


Claire watches Susie smile shyly at the press.


ARENBERG

My client has spent the weeks since her arrest in near constant isolation—


BADER

Because she’s a threat to national security! You really want her socializing with other felons? Why not have her hand out pamphlets on / the perks of jihad—


ARENBERG

You’ve always had difficulty comprehending the “innocent until proven guilty” part of our judicial system—


BADER

Your Honor, due to the complexity of the case and the amount of evidence to sift through we ask that the trial be delayed—


Susie sees Claire looking at her and gives a small wave. Startled, Claire averts her eyes. The men continue to argue, oblivious to the women’s interactions.


ARENBERG

Absolutely not. This girl has a history of emotional and psychological instability—


BADER (Scoffing)

Insanity? Really?


Susie tries to mouth something. Claire stares at her, baffled.


ARENBERG

Her time behind bars has already taken an extraordinary toll / on her mental health—


SUSIE (In a whisper) As-salamu alaykum

Claire can’t hear her. She tries to focus on the men.


BADER

You mean the few weeks she’s spent in a warm room receiving 3 meals a day?


ARENBERG

Your Honor, extended time in isolation will do irreparable damage to an already / damaged child!


BADER

Can we stop acting like she’s in Guantanamo, I mean Jesus Christ!


SUSIE (A little louder) As-salamu alaykum


Claire hears it this time, but can’t believe her ears.


CLAIRE (Low)

What?


ARENBERG

I trust that you will refrain from using religious figures as expletives in the trial—


BADER

I’m sorry, was my language too abrasive for the terrorist’s delicate / sensibilities?


ARENBERG

Your Honor!

SUSIE (Louder)

As-salamu alaykum


CLAIRE (Loudly)

Shut your mouth!


Everything goes silent. Everyone looks at Claire.


CLAIRE

I—She—She was talking to me—Did you hear what she said?


BADER

You’re talking. I hear you talking.

ARENBERG

Who are you? Who is she?


CLAIRE

Tell your client she can’t speak to me.


SUSIE (On the edge of tears)

I was being nice!

CLAIRE

If you can’t control your client—


SUSIE

It’s Arabic for “peace be upon you!”


CLAIRE

I know what it means!


BADER

Stop it Claire stop it Claire stop it Claire—


SUSIE

It’s how Muslims are supposed to greet other Muslims!


CLAIRE

Did you read that on Wikipedia? / Or did your ISIS boyfriend tell you that?


BADER

Shut up Claire Shut up Claire Shut up Claire—


SUSIE

He’s my fiancé.

ARENBERG (To Susie)

Don’t answer that!


BADER

Your Honor, / I apologize for my partner’s—


ARENBERG

Your Honor, / this is completely unacceptable—


CLAIRE

Your Honor, I don’t mean to criticize you or your court—


BADER

Then don’t, then DON’T—


CLAIRE

But given the way the media already conflates Islam and terrorism, I think it’s irresponsible of you / to allow this much press at an arraignment—


BADER

No no no no no no no…


CLAIRE

—and completely unacceptable for the defendant to be dressed as she is. She should not be allowed to wear a headscarf in jail.

SUSIE

What? That’s not fair!


CLAIRE

There are real Muslims / currently incarcerated, who have been denied the right to cover.


SUSIE

I am a real Muslim!


ARENBERG

You’re saying we shouldn’t allow Muslims to wear headscarves in jail?


CLAIRE

No!

BADER

Fix it oh my god fix it—


CLAIRE

I’m saying this is yet another example of the judicial system making allowances for a defendant because she’s white—


SUSIE (To Claire)

You could totally pass for white!


A collective wince.


BADER

…Holy shit…

ARENBERG

…Hooooo boy…


SUSIE

What? It’s not like she’s black, / if she didn’t wear a headscarf I probably wouldn’t know that she’s—


ARENBERG

Please don’t. Please stop. Please no.


CLAIRE

Your Honor, I am speechless—


ARENBERG

I doubt that…


CLAIRE (Over him)

Everything about Ms. Glenn is an insult to my identity as a / Muslim, as an Iranian, as a woman—

SUSIE

It was just an observation!


ARENBERG (To Claire)

Make sure you save some indignation for the actual trial—


CLAIRE

We have a room full of reporters and a defendant dressed up like a Muslim Barbie, who you have somehow already compared to St. Joan and Rosa Parks—So let’s not pretend the trial hasn’t begun!


SUSIE

Muslims are not supposed to hurt other Muslims! We’re supposed to be sisters—


CLAIRE

Are you kidding me?


SUSIE

The Qur’an says—


CLAIRE

Don’t you DARE quote the Qur’an to me—


SUSIE

I have just as much of a right to quote the Qur’an as you do—


CLAIRE

NO YOU DON’T, YOU CREEPY LITTLE, SPOILED LITTLE—


A slam of the gavel.

6.


The courthouse bathroom. Claire has taken off her headscarf to splash water on her face.


Bader barges in—Claire dives for her headscarf.


BADER

There you are!

CLAIRE

This is the women’s room!


BADER

You think you can just open fire like that and then disappear on me?


CLAIRE

How could you do that to me?


BADER

I’m sorry—you’re upset at my behavior?


CLAIRE

You set me up. You didn’t tell me there was going to be a room full of press at the

arraignment.


BADER

What do you think “high profile” means—


Someone tries to enter the bathroom.


BADER

—OCCUPIED—


CLAIRE

Now every headline is going to read “Angry Muslim Woman Attacks Little White Girl”—


BADER

Well maybe you shouldn’t have turned into an angry Muslim woman and attacked a little white girl—I SAID OCCUPIED—


CLAIRE

I can’t let it go on record that an ISIS terrorist greeted me in Arabic!


BADER

The girl’s batshit! Of course she’s going to be saying crazy / things—

CLAIRE

No! That girl is not crazy: she is manipulative, she is dangerous, and I’m not going to let her use this trial as a megaphone—OCCUPIED—I’ll do it. I want to win I want her locked up I want to fucking win!



CLAIRE

Can we win?


BADER

Yes.


CLAIRE

Tell me what to do.

7.


Arenberg addresses a noisy crowd of reporters.


ARENBERG

Well I do find it shocking, Steve. To treat an unstable teenage girl like some hardened criminal is a reactionary abuse of our judicial system. This is scapegoating, plain and simple.


Claire addresses a noisy crowd of reporters. Bader hovers over her shoulder.


CLAIRE

Um, yes, um, well, it’s actually quite a simple—


BADER (Low)

Straightforward—


CLAIRE

—straightforward case: this is a woman who was in communication with a member of ISIS for 8 months, and spoke openly on social media in support of terrorism—


BADER

Jihad—


CLAIRE

—in support of violent jihad. The defense is trying to twist this case into something—


BADER

A platform from which they may proselytize / about unrelated—


CLAIRE

—a platform from which they may proselytize about unrelated issues and distract from the real issue—


ARENBERG

The real issue here is a systemic failure to protect and provide for our youth. Online predators target the weak, and if we do not take responsibility for the most vulnerable among us, then who will? Now, as to your second question—


CLAIRE

Are you asking me if I started wearing a hijab specifically for this trial?


ARENBERG

I have yet to meet a prosecutor who isn’t looking for an opportunity to climb—

CLAIRE

A “symbol of oppression?” Do I seem oppressed to you?


ARENBERG

Scott Bader is a WASP from New Hampshire with undisguised political ambitions. He is notorious for his publicity stunts—


CLAIRE

No, I’m not saying all Muslim women should cover, it’s about choice


ARENBERG

My heart goes out to the poor young lawyer he is unabashedly tokenizing—


CLAIRE

Well obviously Mr. Bader knew I was Muslim before he brought me on, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less—


Bader intervenes.


BADER

Ms. Fathi is an invaluable team member: hardworking, egoless, and unwilling to compromise her values. It was these traits, and many others, that earned her a chair at the prosecution table. Of course, I’m sure that a case of this nature brings up a great deal of outrage for Ms. Fathi, who, despite being born and raised right here in Chicago, has fought her whole life for acceptance as a religious and ethnic minority—but you can speak to that better than I, Claire.



CLAIRE

…Thank you…


She takes in the crowd. She attempts a perky and disarming voice:


CLAIRE

Obviously I have experienced my share of racism and prejudice. When you look like I do it’s difficult to fly under the radar.

Actually, when you look like I do it’s difficult to fly anywhere!


Bader laughs loudly. Claire relaxes a little, warming to her new voice.


CLAIRE

The thing is, you can find violence and bigotry all over the world. Hate is not a rarity. You know what is a rarity? Freedom. Equality. Due process. These are the tenets America was built on and they are privileges I do not take for granted.

CLAIRE

So, yes, this case is personal to me, but I am honored to join the fight against those who would warp my faith and harm my country.


Claire looks to Bader, who is trying not to appear too pleased. He nods that she may continue. With new confidence:


CLAIRE

Next question.

8.


Visitation room.


SUSIE

It’s how Muslims are supposed to greet each other! I was wishing her peace—


ARENBERG

You don’t speak unless you are asked to speak.


SUSIE

She was screaming at me! Who even is she?


ARENBERG

She’s a lawyer.


SUSIE

But why is she on their side?


ARENBERG

Because Scott Bader is a highly intelligent shmuck—


SUSIE

I want to talk to her—


ARENBERG

No.


SUSIE

She’s been brainwashed! They’re lying to her! Reza said—


ARENBERG

I don’t care what your ISIS boyfriend—


SUSIE

Fiancé—


ARENBERG

Pedophile—


SUSIE

Don’t call / him that—


ARENBERG

Murderer, terrorist, rapist—

SUSIE

Stop it!


ARENBERG

She’s going to be calling him lots of things, and she’s going to be calling you worse, / so you better—


SUSIE

But they’re lies! She doesn’t know what’s going on—


ARENBERG

You are the only person who doesn’t know what’s going on, Susie!


He slams a thick file folder on the table and shoves a photograph in Susie’s face.


ARENBERG

What do you see?

What do you see?


SUSIE

…A girl holding a baby.


ARENBERG

What is the girl doing?


SUSIE

Looking through—trash or something? Debris.


ARENBERG

Do the girl and the baby look clean? Healthy? How are they dressed?


SUSIE

…They’re dirty. The baby’s naked.


ARENBERG

What do you see in the background?


SUSIE

…Dead bodies—


ARENBERG

What kind of dead bodies—


SUSIE

Kids. Dead kids.

ARENBERG

Dead Muslim kids. You know who bombed them? The quote-unquote “Islamic State”—


SUSIE

This could be photoshopped to make / it look like—


ARENBERG

My neighbor took this photo 4 months ago. Her name’s Stephanie. She’s a doctor. This was a temporary clinic and campsite that was set up for American aid workers and refugees. She arrived 2 days after it was destroyed by an ISIS suicide bomber.


Susie stares at the photograph.


ARENBERG

Stephanie is not pushing a political agenda. She didn’t publish it, she didn’t send it anywhere, she just has it on her iPhone. This is what that man does. He’s probably out there right now, bombing other kids, recruiting other Americans—No, you keep the picture—


SUSIE (Small)

I don’t want it—


ARENBERG

Too bad.

I had an intern in my office put together this folder for you: articles, essays, photographs about ISIS. Who they are. How they work. What they do and who they do it to. It’s not only American sources in here—David’s a great intern, very thorough: you got things from British, African, French, Chinese, Turkish news sources—and all this stuff happened just in the past year.

Everything that man told you was a lie. Everything.

This


He opens the file.


ARENBERG

—is the world we live in. Read up.

9.


Four months before Susie’s arrest. She chats online with Faceless Man.


SUSIE

UGH i am so DONE with high school!!!

i had to meet with some people about a group project for history class Screaming face! Wailing face!

Everyone is just so shallow and stupid and ignorant and self-absorbed

OMG i had to fight so hard to keep my mouth shut when my social studies teacher went off the other day about 9-11

u should have heard her

we get two buildings knocked down and we’re like the WORLD IS ON FIRE

NOBODY is like, Hey you think THAT’S scary? Half the global population is living in fear of being blown up EVERY DAY! And GUESS WHO’S DROPPING THOSE BOMBS??

AMERICA!!!! It’s such HYPOCRISY!!

Weeping cat face!

the whole time she was talking I couldn’t stop thinking about ur sister how is she doing?


FACELESS MAN

We were able to get some morphine for her today. She feels a little better but is not very there in her mind.


SUSIE

i’m so sorry, Reza. i am praying for her


FACELESS MAN

Thank you heart


SUSIE

So i’ve been thinking a lot lately and i think I’m ready to convert

i’ve been doing some research about converting and i know i need two witnesses for it to count so i Googled it and i found this mosque not that far


FACELESS MAN

You went in????


SUSIE

Not yet but i don’t have to babysit tomorrow so i was thinking maybe i could go after school


FACELESS MAN

YOU DO NOT GO IN THERE! What did I tell you!!!

SUSIE

but it’s a mosque! they’re Muslims!


FACELESS MAN

Some Muslims think ISIS is evil. You cannot trust anyone!!!!


SUSIE

i’m sorry


FACELESS MAN

I don’t think ur ready


SUSIE

I AM Reza I’m sorry I’m so sorry I just want to help so badly!

But I will do what you say and if you think I should wait I will wait. It is your decision.


FACELESS MAN

You really want to convert?


SUSIE

i want to be with u in every way



FACELESS MAN OK


SUSIE OK???


FACELESS MAN

Yes


SUSIE

Heart heart heart How??? Who will be my witnesses???


FACELESS MAN

U will do it over Twitter.



SUSIE

wut

FACELESS MAN

Tweet the Testimony of Faith:

“There is no true god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” Anyone following you on Twitter will witness.


SUSIE

i don’t really have a lot of followers


FACELESS MAN

You will once you hashtag ISIS



SUSIE

it’s kinda different from how i pictured it


FACELESS MAN

You don’t have to


SUSIE

No I want to I want to I will do it right now


FACELESS MAN

R u sure?



FACELESS MAN

Susie?...U there?


SUSIE

I did it


FACELESS MAN

Wut?


SUSIE

OMG I just did it HAHHAHA


FACELESS MAN

You did it??


SUSIE AAAAAAAAAH

OMG I have so many followers now!!!!!

I had like 4 people following me and now I have

SUSIE

OMG it’s going up so fast

I have never had so many followers 324

Hahahahhahhahah 350

I’ve never had like more than OMG it just keeps going up 425

I can’t BELIEVE THIS THIS IS INSANE

I HAVE OVER 600 FOLLOWERS


FACELESS MAN

Not followers, Susie. Family.

10.


Bader’s office, late at night. Empty takeout containers and papers everywhere.


CLAIRE

Okay: Susie Glenn. Only child, lonely child, unpopular.


BADER

Anxious, history of panic attacks.


CLAIRE

But no formally diagnosed disorder.


BADER

Talk to me about the guy—


Visitation room.


SUSIE

Reza Hakim.


ARENBERG

Did he tell you his age?


SUSIE 23.


ARENBERG

What did he say about being a soldier?


SUSIE

Not much.


ARENBERG

You didn’t ask?


SUSIE

I wasn’t going to be like, “Hey how many people have you killed?”


ARENBERG

It’s a valid question if you’re planning on marrying the guy.


SUSIE

I wasn’t planning on marrying him when we first met.

ARENBERG

And later on?


SUSIE

It didn’t matter later on! We were planning a future! Not just for us, but for the world. It felt big. It felt holy.


Bader’s office, late at night—a different night. More clutter, more empty takeout containers. With each jump in location, time passes, inching closer to the trial.


CLAIRE

“…omg lol firework bicep”


BADER

Bicep?


CLAIRE

The flexing arm emoji.


BADER

We need to go through and circle any violent emojicon, / anything with potentially harmful connotations—


CLAIRE

Emoticon. It’s called an emoticon.


BADER

Hammer… Dynamite…What’s this one?


CLAIRE

Prayer hands.


BADER

Circle it.


Visitation room.


ARENBERG

So once you got to Syria, what was the plan?


SUSIE

There are programs for the wives so that they can serve the State even if they’re not out fighting. I wanted to be trained as a nurse.


ARENBERG

Did you two ever discuss having children?

SUSIE

Soldiers are discouraged from having children.


ARENBERG

Why?


SUSIE

Fighters with children are less willing to do suicide missions.


Bader’s office.


CLAIRE

If he wanted to keep a low profile why would he have her convert on social media?


BADER

For all we know Reza’s some young, untrained kid who didn’t know what he was doing. How did he initiate contact?


Visitation room.


SUSIE

There was a picture trending on Twitter of a girl covered in burns from an explosion, and the caption was, “Praying for my sister. Another example of America treating us like animals to be slaughtered.” And this girl from school, Bria, retweeted it, saying horrible things like, “WTF if you don’t want to be treated like an animal don’t act like one.” And I didn’t know the guy, but I felt bad. So I tweeted at him that I was sorry for his loss. And then like a week later Reza friend-requested me on Facebook.


Bader’s office.


CLAIRE

There’s no way she just accidentally came into contact with an ISIS Twitter account.


BADER

It’s possible. Girls are preyed upon over cyberspace all the time.


CLAIRE

But how could she not know what ISIS is? All she had to do was pick up a newspaper.


BADER

Did you read the newspaper in high school?


CLAIRE

Of course.

BADER

Oh, see, I got laid in high school.


CLAIRE (Unfazed)

Great. I’m going to go look / through more of the transcripts—


BADER

Come on, I was kidding! I read some newspapers…


Visitation room.


SUSIE

I had heard of ISIS but I didn’t know what the acronym stood for. Why would I?


ARENBERG

No questions. You never watched the news?


SUSIE

Not really.


ARENBERG

No qualifiers. Ever read the newspaper?


SUSIE

Not really—no—I sound stupid!


ARENBERG

You sound sheltered and naïve, which is good.


SUSIE

Can we take a break?


ARENBERG

No.


Bader’s office.


BADER

Let’s go over the mother again.


CLAIRE

Great cop, clean record. Last year, she was called to an apartment for a domestic violence disturbance. The guy owned a gun, there was a scuffle, she was shot in the throat and died on the way to the hospital. Susie was 17 at the time.

BADER

They caught the guy, though.


CLAIRE

Yes, but he brought in crew of hot-shot lawyers who claimed she departed from protocol upon entry, that he fired in self-defense, etc. They finagled the charge down to second- degree and got a minimum sentence. Here’s a photo of Susie coming out of the courthouse after the guy’s verdict.


BADER

Wow. That’s one broken little girl.


CLAIRE

That’s one angry young woman.


Visitation room.


SUSIE

The guy was hurting his girlfriend, did you know that? My mom saved a woman who was being hurt. She’s a hero!


ARENBERG

Good. Can you expand on that?


SUSIE (Patronizingly)

Well, Mark, a hero is someone who does heroic things—


ARENBERG

You know, I have a teenage son so I’m pretty used to sulking and sass, but the difference between you two is that I’m biologically compelled to continue liking him.


SUSIE

I need to take a break!


ARENBERG

No. Who did the eulogy at your mom’s funeral?


SUSIE

The police chief. It was crap.


ARENBERG

Yeah, I read it. They should have asked you.


Susie softens, surprised.

ARENBERG

What would you have said? Susie, look at me. What should have been said about your mom that day?



SUSIE

She was beautiful. Like, too beautiful to be a cop probably. And she had to go through so much to prove herself, being a woman on the force, but she wasn’t bitter about it.

She loved her job. She always said, “It is a privilege to defend the defenseless.” People call it a duty sometimes, but I’ve never heard anyone else call it their privilege, you know? And I was always afraid of a lot of things. But I don’t think I really understood what it meant to be defenseless until my mom wasn’t there to defend me anymore.


ARENBERG

Why don’t we take a break—


SUSIE

No.


With great effort, she pulls herself together.


SUSIE

I’m fine. What’s next.


ARENBERG

Tell me about your dad.

11.


Visitation room. Alan sits across from Susie. She stares at the table.


ALAN

—and Mrs. Linden can’t wait to be a character witness. She’s getting her hair done and everything for it. You got a lot of people rooting for you. Mr. Tarren has agreed to be a witness. Mrs. Gamber, too. Aunt Elle.

Me. Obviously.



ALAN

I’ve started reading the Qur’an.


A flicker of surprise from Susie.


ALAN

Yeah, I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about. It’s actually easier to get through than I thought it would be. Except for when it goes off about cows and stuff. But, uh, anyway, I was reading this part about women? And how they’re supposed to obey the men in their lives—actually, there was one part in particular about marriage and how a daughter needs to ask her father’s consent before agreeing to marriage.

I thought that chapter was interesting.

Because I get that today religious people have to pick and choose what they obey and what they…disregard. And I was thinking how somewhere along the way, you must have decided that one of the things you were going to disregard…was me. And I was wondering when that happened—when exactly you made that decision. To throw me away.

Susie. Look at me. Look at me.

Look at—No, you know what? Fuck this—fuck this! You think you’re defying me? Rejecting me? Well I hate to break it to you, Suze: but this? Right here? You get this from me. Not your mom, your mom was a big old softie. I am not. I hold grudges, I get pissed and I stay pissed, so if you want to play this game we will play this game, but don’t think for one second you’re gonna win, because I made you—NOW LOOK AT ME!


She looks at him—defiant, unyielding. They face off, and for the first time ever, they are equally matched.


Alan collapses back in his chair, beaten.


12.


Bader’s office. The night before the trial. The office is in chaos.


BADER

Claire, you sound like a robot!


CLAIRE

It’s an opening address. I’m outlining the facts.


BADER

Yes, you are literally outlining all the facts.


CLAIRE

What do you want—the religion card? The race card? The gender card?


BADER

Yes!


CLAIRE

The jury will see through that!


BADER

Not if it’s sincere! Listen to me: you have more rage than anyone I know—Oh yeah, you do, and you wear it on your sleeve, which is a total boner killer—Don’t give me that look, it’s a metaphor, we’re discussing a metaphorical boner here that belongs to all mankind and it’s currently dying in your merciless grasp.


CLAIRE

You’re a walking sexual harassment.


BADER

See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about!


CLAIRE

I’m not going to be some soft-spoken, apologetic waif—


BADER

No! Don’t stop raging, just stop doing it all alone on your private mountaintop: invite us to join you. Because rage is a boner killer, but revolution? Revolution is sexy! War?

Even sexier! And you want to know the sexiest war of them all?

The War on Terror!

13.


Claire addresses the jury.


CLAIRE

My parents immigrated to the U.S. in the early ‘80s—my mother from France, my father from Iran. My mom jokes she came here for a Madonna concert and stayed for the McNuggets. My dad—well, he came for the American Dream.

When people hear I have family in France they usually say something like, “Oh I’m so

jealous!”

But when people hear I have family in the Middle East, they always say, “Do you worry about them? Are you scared for them?” And I am. Nobody wants their loved ones to live in war-torn countries.

But in posing the question like that, there are a few assumptions being made, right? There is the assumption that my Iranian relatives are in danger because they are over there, and, conversely, we—you and I—are safe, because we are here.

There is the assumption that as I walk the streets of Chicago, I am not scared for my safety.

There is the assumption that this country is not war-torn.

It’s true that our buildings aren’t going up in flames—not recently, anyway. And it’s true that bombs aren’t falling from our skies—not yet, anyway.

But as of 2015, over 250 U.S. citizens and residents had joined ISIS. That number is growing, it’s growing fast, and it includes brown, black, white men and women—young men and women—boys and girls, practically—lured from our cities and suburbs, coerced to pick up guns and fight for the Islamic State. It may be silent, it may be invisible, it may be happening on our children’s laptops, but it is happening. Whether we are ready or not, ideas are being planted, weapons are being loaded, troops are being amassed.

We are fighting a War on Terror.

Which means we can’t afford to make assumptions anymore. Humans discriminate. Terror does not.

We are all potential victims, we are all potential perpetrators. Big brown men, little white girls—it makes no difference.

A terrorist is a terrorist.

14.


Six months before Susie’s arrest.


SUSIE

reza are you on please be on


FACELESS MAN

Hi smiley face! Ur up late.


SUSIE

i can’t sleep i feel sick


FACELESS MAN

What is the matter


SUSIE

i was lying in bed and i was thinking about my mom and getting these weird flashes of memory from when i was little and then they started coming really fast and repeating and i couldn’t breathe and now i feel like i’m going to throw up


FACELESS MAN

What was the memory?


SUSIE

i’m five or six and i’m standing between my parents and i’m holding on to my mom’s leg and i’m looking up at her and my dad and their heads seem so far away from me, they look like giants, like superheroes. and then i thought

maybe they’re not my parents. maybe there was a mistake. because i will never be like that, i will never be that tall.


FACELESS MAN

How tall are you now?


SUSIE

that’s not the point reza


FACELESS MAN

Frowny face have I said something wrong?


SUSIE

no it’s not your fault, you just don’t get it. ur a soldier, ur strong.


FACELESS MAN

The only difference between a strong person and a weak person is faith.

SUSIE

my mom was the strongest person i know but she was never religious.


FACELESS MAN

Maybe she did not have faith in God but she had faith in something.


SUSIE

she had faith in her partner and the police force and America.


FACELESS MAN

Too bad.


SUSIE

Dot dot dot


FACELESS MAN

Faith should give as much as it takes

If I die, I die protecting my family, my friends, my people

If I die, the Islamic State gives my family money and honor If I die, I go to paradise

What was your mother given for HER death? What were YOU given for her death? She put her faith in a country that does not train the weak to be strong, only leaves the weak behind. She chose to leave you behind.


SUSIE

she didn’t want to leave me. she loved me


FACELESS MAN

She may have loved you. She may have lived for you. But she died for her country.


SUSIE

she thought she was making the country safer for me


FACELESS MAN

Do you feel safe?

15.


Bader’s office, very late at night. Claire and Bader are slumped over piles of papers, exhausted.


CLAIRE (Correctly)

Muslim.


BADER (Incorrectly)

Muslim.


CLAIRE

Muslim.


BADER

Muslim.


CLAIRE

Listen to the sounds coming out of my mouth and then listen to the sounds coming out of your mouth—


BADER

Muslim.


CLAIRE

Is this an ear thing or, like, a brain thing?


BADER

Muslim. / Muslim. Muslim.


CLAIRE

Oh my god, stop. Stop. I don’t even remember what you asked me.


BADER

What’s your favorite thing about being a Muslim, Ms. Fathi?


CLAIRE

I don’t know, Lisa, probably getting to answer such intelligent questions about it!


BADER

Actually, her name is Liza.


CLAIRE

Shut up. I don’t need to be prepped for an interview about my own life! I could be working on the case right now.

BADER

We are working on the case right now. Unfortunately, our success is largely dependent on your likeability.


CLAIRE (Aggressively)

I’m likeable! Lots of people like me! Only idiots read these magazines anyway!


BADER

Less than 40% of all Americans have ever met a Muslim. That means that most people following the news right now are being introduced to Islam through you.


CLAIRE

I can’t be the “face of Islam,” Scott!


BADER

You want Susie to be that face?


CLAIRE (Darkly)

…Go.


BADER

Ms. Fathi, where’d you grow up?


CLAIRE (Still hostile)

Chicago.


BADER

Be more Midwestern about it.


CLAIRE (Aggressively perky)

Chicago, born and bred, Lisa—


BADER

Liza.


CLAIRE

Liza!


BADER

Did you always know you were going to be a lawyer?


CLAIRE No, I—


BADER

Find a way to say yes.

CLAIRE

I always knew I would be a public servant of some kind.


BADER

Is public service a big part of your religion?


CLAIRE

An integral part. Muslims do not believe in a savior. Meaning, we don’t expect someone else to wash away our sins for us; we believe forgiveness must be earned.


BADER

Did you experience discrimination growing up?


CLAIRE

Well I think any minority—


BADER

Get specific—


CLAIRE

Xenophobia—


BADER

It’s a women’s magazine—can you just give me some girl talk?


CLAIRE

I’m a girl. I am talking.


BADER (Wearily)

Claire…


CLAIRE

Okay yes, I experienced discrimination! Of course I did.

But when I was kid I didn’t realize what was going on. Like, there was this girl who told everyone at school that my family rode camels? And I just thought she was an idiot. I didn’t make the link.


BADER

When did you make the link?


CLAIRE

When I was 15 my dad was fired for being Muslim. He’d been there 14 years, worked his way up, everyone thought he’d be running the company one day. And then the CEO caught him praying in the break room. Later that week he was let go. “Downsizing.”

It was 2002. So he ended up unemployed for about 5 years. For an Iranian man—any man, I think—having everything taken away from you and so publically…

CLAIRE

There was no coming back from that.



BADER

What does he do now?


CLAIRE

He’s a cashier at a grocery store.


BADER

Do they let him pray at work?


CLAIRE

He doesn’t pray anywhere anymore.



BADER

Well he must be proud of everything you’ve—


CLAIRE

Yeah, we don’t really talk. He hates that I work here and I hate that he drinks and he hates that I wear a hijab and it’s just easier if we…don’t.



BADER (Gently)

You can’t say all that in the interview.


CLAIRE

I know.

I’ll just deflect and talk about the American Dream.

16.


Arenberg and Claire address their respective crowds of reporters. Claire is polished, comfortable, likeable; Bader watches unobtrusively from the periphery.


ARENBERG

It’s been six months since Susie’s arrest, everyone is tired, and, frankly, the prosecution is needlessly drawing this trial out—


CLAIRE

Given the amount of evidence to present we all knew this trial was going to be a long one from the get-go—


ARENBERG

I’m not criticizing Ms. Fathi’s conduct in court. She seems a fine lawyer—if a little overly ambitious—


CLAIRE

I couldn’t believe they wanted to do a profile on me! We had a blast, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to shed light on issues that Muslim women face every day—


ARENBERG

She’s young, she’s smart, she’s certainly caught the public’s eye. But celebrity is not necessarily an indication of support.


CLAIRE

Of course I’ve seen them, but how can I take those kinds of comments seriously? Grammatically incorrect insults posted online by dead-beat, lonely—


ARENBERG

Susie’s plight has gained the sympathy of Americans from all walks of life—


CLAIRE

—racist, fearful, uneducated—


ARENBERG

Ms. Fathi may dislike their opinions, but she would be foolish to ignore them. Disregarding rage does not make it disappear.


CLAIRE

I don’t have time for hate. I have a country to protect.


ARENBERG

Next question.

CLAIRE

Next question.

17.


Bader’s office. Late at night.


CLAIRE

Why not? Why not test her knowledge of the Qur’an?


BADER

Because if she seems misinformed it only helps their case.


CLAIRE

But I could get her to regurgitate things that Reza told her. She may know intellectually she’s supposed to play the victim, but he hammered into her the importance of defending her faith. Jihad literally means to struggle against the obstacles keeping your soul from God.


BADER

No wonder the Middle East is such a shit show.


CLAIRE

...Is that sarcasm? What is that?


BADER

Maybe if they just calmed the fuck down with all their struggling we might actually get somewhere.


CLAIRE

Okay I need more coffee before I can even begin to unpack that statement…


BADER

Look, I’m not blaming you guys for everything—


CLAIRE (Flatly)

That’s nice. That’s sweet.


BADER

But any religion that has “Holy War” built into its dogma is going to cause problems—


CLAIRE

You know who coined the phrase “Holy War?” The Catholics. To justify taking land from Arab tribes. The expression “Holy War” never appears in the Qur’an—


BADER

Well beating, stoning, and beheading sure do. You can’t deny it’s an intrinsically violent religion!

CLAIRE

Have you read the Bible? The Torah? How about history? The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust—


BADER

Yes, we did a lot of nasty stuff. We raped, we pillaged, we tortured—but then people changed, society progressed, we got civilized


CLAIRE

Whose definition of “civilized” are we working / with here?


BADER

Two young Syrian women were stoned to death in their town square yesterday. Rocks were thrown at their bodies until they were dead. That is some Medieval shit. America’s not perfect, we’ve never been perfect, but it’s 2017 and we don’t communally slaughter our girls in town squares—


CLAIRE

No, we do it on Twitter, because we’re civilized.



CLAIRE

Anyway, my point, before you started vomiting colonialism everywhere, was that I could antagonize Susie into slipping up.


BADER

Alright. Let’s try it. Antagonize me—


CLAIRE (Automatically)

Your ex-wife should have full custody of your kids—


BADER

as if I were Susie! Antagonize me as if I were Susie.


CLAIRE

Oh.


BADER

Jesus. Okay, I’m Susie. I’m on the stand, clutching my tissue, Disney princess eyes brimming with emotion. Got her?


Susie appears.

CLAIRE

Ms. Glenn, the FBI began tracking you after someone reported one of your tweets—do you know which one I’m referring to?


BADER

No.

SUSIE

No.


CLAIRE

On April 14th, an ISIS Twitter account mounted a call for stabbings on college campuses nationwide. Do you mind reading your response to the jury?


SUSIE

“Prayers for my brothers & sisters heeding the call to action. They’ve tried to stop our voices but they won’t be able to stop the blood.”


CLAIRE

Were you aware that your tweet was encouraging followers to stab innocent Americans?


SUSIE

I believed—I was manipulated to believe—that Muslims were being persecuted and that our only hope for survival was to take up arms!


CLAIRE

In that case why didn’t you go out and stab someone?


SUSIE

I guess even when I was my most confused, I could never actually hurt anyone.


CLAIRE

Not even if they were hurting your family?


SUSIE

Well, if they were hurting my family—


CLAIRE

I have here a transcript in which the ISIS recruiting agent referred to your online following as your family.


SUSIE

He was being, you know, metaphorical—


CLAIRE

And you understood that as a metaphor at the time?

SUSIE

Yeah—


CLAIRE

So you were too confused to know that stabbing people is bad, but you had enough clarity to pick up on the nuance of metaphor


BADER HA!


CLAIRE

Can you explain precisely why you are so incapable of hurting anyone?


SUSIE

It’s wrong.


CLAIRE

Why do you think it’s wrong?


SUSIE

It’s illegal—


CLAIRE

Meaning you could get in trouble for doing it.


SUSIE

Yeah—


CLAIRE

So your moral compass isn’t what kept you from stabbing people, your cowardice is?


BADER

You’ll get an objection on that one.


CLAIRE

I’ll withdraw the remark, but I think she’ll—


SUSIE

I am not a coward! I was willing to leave the country, leave my father, leave everything I know and do whatever was asked of me if it was God’s will—


CLAIRE

Even if you were asked to do something dangerous?

SUSIE

Well OBVIOUSLY there would be SOME danger—I mean, I was going to SYRIA / for Pete’s—


CLAIRE

So you knew before leaving exactly what you had agreed to take part in?


SUSIE

Of COURSE I KNEW, I’m not STUPID!


That hangs in the air for a moment. Susie disappears. Playful, full of bravado:


CLAIRE

No further questions, Your Honor.


BADER

Good. Arenberg will never let it get that far, but we’ll keep working it—Here, this was in my mailbox for you.


Claire opens the letter.


BADER

Apparently I’m your secretary now. I’m going to order us some pizza. You in the mood for deep dish or—

…Claire?


She hands him the letter. He gets the gist quickly.


BADER

Have you received others like this?


She shakes her head.


BADER (Gently)

High profile trials always attract crazies. I’ve received death threats, too.


CLAIRE

For this case?


BADER

No. But I’ve gotten them before. We’ll give it to the police. Do you live alone?


CLAIRE

Yeah.

BADER

Maybe you could stay with your parents—


CLAIRE

I can’t, my dad will flip out—


BADER

Well we can make arrangements for a hotel room. Or I’m sure someone who works here has a guestroom.


CLAIRE

That’s okay.


BADER

I’d offer my house, but that might be / inappropriate—


CLAIRE

Inappropriate, yeah.



BADER

Well the offer for the hotel still stands.


CLAIRE

Thank you.


BADER (Into the phone)

Yeah, hi, I’d like to order a pepperoni—


CLAIRE

No—


BADER

Fuck me—cheese pizza. (To Claire) You people eat cheese, right?


18.


Arenberg throws a stack of opened letters on the table in front of Susie.


ARENBERG

Did you really think no one was going to screen your mail?


SUSIE

They’re mine. They’re private.


ARENBERG

What if the prosecution were to find these?


SUSIE

I don’t say anything bad in them. I talk about how I regret / my decision—


ARENBERG (Reading)

“I received your letter and wanted to address a few points you raised”—what is this, Dear Abby?


SUSIE

They were lying! I never made any bombs. I wouldn’t / even know how to!


ARENBERG

Were you really expecting journalistic integrity in a death threat?


SUSIE

I don’t respond to the gross ones, but if there is misinformation—


ARENBERG

Why didn’t you tell me you were getting threats?


SUSIE

I don’t only get threats, you know. I also have fans—


ARENBERG

Fans. You mean the ex con who offered to orchestrate a jailbreak? Or the child pornographer who wants to film you when you get out? I honestly don’t know which are scarier: your enemies or your fans!


SUSIE

I’m not going to hide from them, I’m not a coward—


ARENBERG

Ohhhhh…

SUSIE

…What.


ARENBERG

This is about what happened last week in court. When she called you a coward.


SUSIE

No.


ARENBERG

And you nearly lost it.


SUSIE

I didn’t say anything I wasn’t supposed to.


ARENBERG

Only because I objected.


SUSIE

I am not a coward! I have rejected ISIS, I am facing my sins, I’m doing everything I can and I’m doing it from a cell, so she has no right—


ARENBERG

Is that why you’re spending hours answering hate mail? Some sort of penance for your mistakes—


SUSIE

I will earn my forgiveness! I will take what God sends me and if God sends me death threats I will take those too.


ARENBERG

You want to take responsibility for your actions? Awesome. I will help you find a productive of way of doing that and the jury will eat it up.


ARENBERG

But first I need you to stop opening your mail, I need you to stop giving attitude on the stand, and most of all I need you to stop refusing your dad’s visits—No, Susie, this is non-negotiable. I’m bringing him up as a character witness next week and when I ask him what your relationship is like, he has to be able to answer honestly in the positive.


SUSIE

Don’t put him on the stand. He’s not as strong as he seems. She’ll hurt him.


ARENBERG

I’ve been prepping him for weeks. He’s extremely sympathetic, the jury will love him. He’ll be fine. Now, I’m not going to be here tomorrow, but—


SUSIE

Why not?


ARENBERG

It’s Passover, it’s a Jewish holiday.


She absorbs this and brightens a little.


SUSIE

You’re Jewish?


ARENBERG

Yeah.


SUSIE

Oh.


ARENBERG

What “oh.”


SUSIE

Nothing, that’s just—I’m glad.


ARENBERG

You’re glad?


SUSIE

I thought you were an atheist, but Jews are—I think they’re supposed to be better than nothing!


ARENBERG

What?


SUSIE

The Qur’an says they’re People of the Book—


ARENBERG

Okay I hate everything about this conversation. I’m going to go.


SUSIE

Wait—


ARENBERG

Kiddo, if you start talking about the Torah, the vein in my forehead is going to pop—

SUSIE

I pray for you sometimes.

I pray for you and your family.

(Shy)…Is that…okay?


Arenberg nods, touched.


SUSIE

Do you think—maybe—sometimes—you could pray for me?


ARENBERG

I already do.

19.


Outside of the courthouse. Claire waits tensely, aware of people eyeing her as they pass. Arenberg pushes his way through throngs of policemen and reporters.


ARENBERG

Hey—


CLAIRE

Oh my god!


ARENBERG

Sorry, I didn’t mean / to startle you—


CLAIRE

What do you want.


ARENBERG

What’s going on?


CLAIRE

We’re delayed. There was an incident.


ARENBERG

An incident?


CLAIRE

Graffiti.


ARENBERG

What did it say?


CLAIRE

“Burn the bitch.”


ARENBERG

Lovely.


CLAIRE

It was written in blood.


ARENBERG

Blood?


CLAIRE

Pork blood.

ARENBERG

…They know that for sure?


CLAIRE (Stiffly)

There were some pieces of ham nailed next to the words and given the nature of our case they…made an educated guess. Scott went to get more information from the police.


Arenberg takes in Claire’s discomfort.


ARENBERG

Is it okay if I wait with you?


CLAIRE

Do what you want.



ARENBERG

This your first hate crime? Mazel Tov.



ARENBERG

You should come work for me.



ARENBERG

When this is all over. You should / come work for—


CLAIRE

I don’t know what you’re trying to do right now, but—


ARENBERG

I’m trying to give you a job.


CLAIRE

Why?


ARENBERG

You’re good.


CLAIRE

Don’t you guys represent the Jewish Anti-Defamation League or something? I bet they’d

love it if you hired me—

ARENBERG

Do you defame Jews?


CLAIRE

Of course not.


ARENBERG

Then what’s the problem?


CLAIRE

This is crazy.


ARENBERG

You don’t have to decide now.


CLAIRE

I’m a prosecuting attorney.


ARENBERG

So was I. Eight years. Look, I don’t know you—


CLAIRE

No you don’t.


ARENBERG

But you seem like someone who would rather spend her life fighting for people than against them.


Claire takes this in. Bader returns.


BADER

You poaching my lawyer, Mark?


CLAIRE

No.

ARENBERG

Yup.


BADER

How are you, man?


ARENBERG

Not bad. You missed the pickup game yesterday.


BADER

Yeah, I had the kids—

CLAIRE

Wait, you’re friends? (To Arenberg) You play basketball?


ARENBERG

Why is that surprising?

BADER

He’s not very good.


CLAIRE

Did you talk to the police?


BADER

Yeah, they think they apprehended the guy.


CLAIRE

Who was it?


BADER

Some stupid kid. It’s always just some stupid kid.


CLAIRE (Low to Bader)

But do they know if it was targeting Susie or…?


ARENBERG

They’ll tighten security and limit press from here on out. We’ll be safe.


CLAIRE

Oh will “we.”


ARENBERG

I mean—


CLAIRE

Yeah you guys seemed really anxious chatting about your pickup game.


BADER

Claire—


CLAIRE

Let’s go.

20.


Claire cross examines Alan.


CLAIRE

Mr. Glenn, you said, and I’m quoting, “Susie was always a fragile kid, and when her mom died she spiraled into a very unstable place.” I wasn’t aware paramedics were trained in psychological diagnosis.


ALAN

I wasn’t talking as a paramedic, I was talking as her dad.


CLAIRE

So you have no medical evidence to back that statement up?


ALAN

I don’t need “medical evidence” to know when my daughter is not herself.


CLAIRE

With all due respect, Mr. Glenn, I imagine that in the months following your wife’s death

you were not yourself, and therefore unable to effectively / assess—


ALAN

I can tell from across the room if my girl’s got a fever. I can see her panic attacks coming on before she does—I know my kid. Grief doesn’t change that, nothing could, and if you were a parent you would get that, but you’re not. And with all due respect, Miss Fathi, I don’t think you can imagine how I was feeling in the months following my wife’s death.


That hits Claire hard, but she regroups. Faster, all warmth gone:


CLAIRE

Did you take your daughter to a therapist?


ALAN

No—


CLAIRE

Grief counseling?


ALAN

No—


CLAIRE

Even though she was “unstable?”

ALAN

Well I don’t know if I would have called it that at the time—


CLAIRE

So you’re only calling it “instability” since a lawyer told you to—Withdrawn, Your Honor. Did you do anything to help your daughter?


ALAN

I was trying to give her space to process—


CLAIRE

How much space?


ALAN

What?


CLAIRE

How much did you interact with Ms. Glenn on a daily basis, approximately?


ALAN

Varies, I guess, ‘cause / my job—


CLAIRE

The FBI estimates that Ms. Glenn was clocking about 6 hours of conversation with ISIS per day.


ALAN

That can’t / be right.


CLAIRE

Which would mean that in the past year, Susie spent a total of 1,440 hours on electronic devices communicating with ISIS—were these hours occurring at school or at home, do you think?


ALAN

I couldn’t say.


CLAIRE

Right, because when you were home you were “giving her space.”


ALAN

I was doing everything I could!


CLAIRE

Really?

ALAN

It was impossible! I tell her to take that that thing off her head—she starts packing it in her bag and putting it on as soon as she’s out of the house! I tell her she’ll eat what I serve, no matter what I serve—she goes on a freakin’ hunger strike until I promise not to make pork anymore!


CLAIRE

Your hands were tied.


ALAN

Yes!


CLAIRE

You couldn’t have done anything.


ALAN

No!


CLAIRE

You were just another one of Susie’s victims.


ALAN

Yea—no! It wasn’t her fault—


CLAIRE

Whose fault was it, then?


ALAN

She’s not a criminal!


CLAIRE

You just described your daughter manipulating you, deceiving you, and flouting your authority. Such behavior indicates malice and intent. Either you were too absent to accurately assess the situation—in which case, you are an unreliable witness and a poor parent—


ALAN

How / fucking dare you—


CLAIRE (Drowning him out)

—or your daughter tricked you into thinking she was unstable in order to hide her criminal activity. I pray it’s the former, or Ms. Glenn poses an even greater threat than we previously thought—


BADER

YES! HOT! That was HOT!

Alan disappears. Claire sits in Bader’s office, slumped in a chair.


BADER

Wasn’t perfect, you let him get on his soap box in the beginning there—but you got it back, and could have gone worse, could have been terrible. The guy’s basically an ad for blue collar patriotism—


CLAIRE

Is it okay if I work from home tonight?


BADER

It’s not even 8.


CLAIRE

I’m feeling a little under the weather.


BADER

You’re fine, you just need coffee—

(Shouting off) KAREN! CAFFEINE!

Alright, there have to be more instances of Susie’s disobedience. If we push him on it, I

/ bet we can—


CLAIRE

We got what we needed.


BADER

I think we can go further.


CLAIRE

Arenberg won’t put him back on the stand.


BADER

We can subpoena him.


CLAIRE

We should be / focusing on Susie.


BADER

He’ll be hostile but we can make that work for us—


CLAIRE

We made / our point—


BADER

Get him to show even more temper—

CLAIRE

Of course he was angry! I publically shredded him, I humiliated him in front of his daughter—

BADER

Present Susie as the inevitable product of an unhealthy household, questionable parenting—


CLAIRE

He’s a good dad who got fucked and she’s a little girl who is fucked up and I’m not doing it!



BADER

So you’re refusing to cross examine anyone now? Or just the ones who trigger your daddy issues?


CLAIRE (Low)

Back off, Scott.


BADER

What do you want? You want me to pull you out of court?


CLAIRE

No!


BADER

Then what are / you saying—


CLAIRE

I don’t know! I don’t know.

I’m saying I don’t feel well and I’m going home.


She grabs her things and turns to leave.


BADER

They all have dads. Rapists, murderers, terrorists—they all have moms and dads and sad stories. That doesn’t diminish the good you’re doing, it doesn’t change your job—it just means that some nights it’s harder to fall asleep.

Go home.


She heads to the door.


BADER

Claire.


He holds up the case file. She stares at it, struggling. She takes the file and exits.

21.


Visitation room. The trial and isolation are beginning to take a noticeable toll on Susie—there’s a flatness, an aggression, a fatigue.


SUSIE

I’m not going to talk about my virginity on the stand.


ARENBERG

The more we can present you as the under-aged female victim of an older male predator—


SUSIE

He was 23.


ARENBERG

That’s what he told you but we don’t know that for sure, and neither does the jury. Which means he can be anything we need him to be.


SUSIE

God do you look at everyone that way?


ARENBERG

What way?


SUSIE

Like anyone can be anything you need them to be. Like we’re all just legal tactics.



ARENBERG

I know you’re angry at me for putting your dad on the stand.

It was a bad day. But some of his testimony strengthened your case. I still think it was worth it.


SUSIE (Limply)

I’m not worth it.



ARENBERG

Susie—


Cold again:

SUSIE

I’ll talk about my virginity, I’ll say whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. Go. Next question.


ARENBERG

Were you in love with Reza?


SUSIE

I thought about him all the time.

I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I was willing to die for him.

Is that love?


Caught off guard, uncomfortable:


ARENBERG

One day, when you’re out of here, you’ll have other experiences to compare it to and then you’ll be able to answer that for yourself—


SUSIE

Don’t promise things you can’t promise.



ARENBERG

Was there any kind of sexual…?


SUSIE

No.


ARENBERG

Pictures? Sexting?


SUSIE

It’s weird when people your age say “sexting.”


Arenberg chuckles.


ARENBERG

My son feels similarly.


SUSIE

He’s 17, right?


ARENBERG (Uneasy)

Mm-hm.

SUSIE

Does he want to go to college?


ARENBERG

Yeah.


SUSIE

Does he know which one?


ARENBERG

No.


SUSIE

Is he taking AP tests—


ARENBERG

What are you doing.


SUSIE

…I’ve been trying to keep track of what I’m missing. But I can’t even remember what it was like.


Arenberg considers this. He takes a photo out of his wallet and hands it to her.


ARENBERG

That’s my son and his girlfriend, before homecoming.



SUSIE

There’s so much sun.


She clutches the picture. She starts to cry. Arenberg gently pulls the photo from her hands.


ARENBERG

I’m sorry.



SUSIE

Are they going to find him?


ARENBERG

My son?

SUSIE

Reza. Are they going to find him?


ARENBERG

I don’t know.


SUSIE

If they catch him, what will they do to him?


ARENBERG

I don’t know.



SUSIE

I hope they kill him.

22.


Claire and Susie stand in separate pools of light—eyes closed, palms to the sky. It’s difficult to begin. Finally:


CLAIRE

Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem


SUSIE

In the Name of God, The Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy


CLAIRE

Al hamdu lillaahi rabbil ‘alameen


SUSIE

Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds


CLAIRE

Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem


SUSIE

The Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy


CLAIRE

Maaliki yaumid Deen


SUSIE

Master of the Day of Judgment


CLAIRE

Iyyaaka na’abudu wa iyyaaka nasta’een


SUSIE

It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help.


CLAIRE

Ihdinas siraatal mustaqeem


SUSIE

Guide us to the straight path


CLAIRE

Siraatal ladheena an ‘amta’ alaihim


SUSIE

The path of those You have blessed

CLAIRE

Ghairil maghduubi’ alaihim


As Susie undoes her headscarf:


SUSIE

Those who incur no anger


CLAIRE

Waladaaleen


As Susie pulls the scarf from her head:


SUSIE

And who have not gone astray.


They turn and face each other. The sound of an ambulance…

23.


Late at night. Claire is just leaving the office. Alan comes barreling out of the darkness.


ALAN HEY!

YOU HAPPY NOW—


CLAIRE

Mr. Glenn—


ALAN

It’s not enough to / take away her freedom, her future—


CLAIRE

Get away from me—let go of me


ALAN

—you gotta take her mind, too—her life


CLAIRE

What are you talking about—


ALAN

SUSIE—MY / DAUGHTER SUSIE


CLAIRE

What happened to her? Is she okay—


ALAN

NO SHE’S NOT OKAY SHE TRIED TO KILL HERSELF—


CLAIRE

Oh my God…


ALAN

She tried to hang herself / with her fucking—with that fucking thing on her head—


CLAIRE

Hang herself? Oh my God…oh my God


ALAN

I can’t / I can’t…

CLAIRE

But she’s not—She’s okay?


ALAN

I JUST TOLD YOU—


CLAIRE

But she’s alive! She’s alive? Alan, look at me: Susie’s alive?


ALAN

Do you think you would be if she wasn’t—


CLAIRE

JUST SAY IT—


ALAN

YEAH SHE’S ALIVE!


CLAIRE

Oh my God thank God—


ALAN

NO! You don’t get to do that, you don’t get to thank your God / for my girl’s life—


CLAIRE

Okay! I’m sorry!

…I’m sorry. I’m I’m I’m just glad she’s—That’s what matters, right? That she’s...


Alan sags to the ground.


ALAN (To himself)

…She’s alive…


CLAIRE

Yeah. And that’s a good thing. That’s a bless—that’s lucky. Right?


He holds himself. Claire watches him, helpless.


ALAN

I’ve been a paramedic 15 years. I’ve saved so many lives. But no matter what I do, I can’t save my own daughter.


CLAIRE

People are with her, they’ll watch her very closely—

ALAN

She doesn’t need someone to watch her she needs someone to to to hold her. She’s little.

She needs…her mom. Girls need moms.


CLAIRE

Girls need dads, too.



CLAIRE

Can I call someone / for you—


ALAN

You know, I’ve always been an atheist. I’ve never understood religion. But I was sitting by her hospital bed, watching her sleep, and I thought to myself, she’s going to wake up, and she’s not going to speak, she’s not even going to look at me. I know that, but I’m going to sit with her anyway, just to be near her and hear her breathe.

And I thought, that’s insane! That’s a crazy thing to do. This parent-love thing is completely irrational and masochistic and potentially harmful to everyone but it’s also all I know how to do and also the best thing about me and also the only thing I have anymore.

And then I realized. Oh. This is faith.

This is my faith. Susie is my faith.

…You know what happens when you take away a person’s faith, Miss Fathi?



ALAN

I hope your god’s proud.


He stumbles off. She whips out her phone and dials.


CLAIRE

…Baba? Hi. Can you—


She starts to cry.


CLAIRE

Can you come pick me up?

24.


Susie and Arenberg sit across from Claire and Bader. Susie stares at the table.


SUSIE (Softly)

…No.


BADER

No?


ARENBERG

Susie, we talked about this—

BADER

What the fuck is going on here, Mark—


SUSIE

I’ve been thinking / and I don’t—


BADER

Oh now she starts thinking.


ARENBERG

I’d like a moment with my client.


BADER

No! The girl is facing twenty years! We are offering her three if she pleads guilty right now. You are not going to get a better deal than that!


ARENBERG

Stop pretending we need this deal more than you do. You’ve got death threats, hate- crimes—this is not the great American narrative you were hoping to tell, especially since we all know you’re thinking of running for office next year.


BADER

I know for a fact that you’ve been in hot water with your partners ever since you took this case. I can only imagine what they would do if after all the hours you’ve put in the girl went and died on you.


ARENBERG

She got out of the hospital less than 48 hours ago, Scott! She’s barely slept, she’s confused—


SUSIE

I’m not confused / I’m not crazy I’M NOT TAKING IT—


ARENBERG

Stop it, stop talking, stop talking right now!

BADER

Great, howabout you say that to the jury?

CLAIRE

Are you thirsty, Susie?


BADER

What.

ARENBERG

What.


CLAIRE

Normally they put water out at these things, I don’t know why there isn’t any. Would you like some water?


Susie nods.


CLAIRE

Scott, why don’t you get us some water.


BADER

…Are you having a stroke?


CLAIRE

Get us water and in the meantime, Susie and I can have some…girl talk.


She stares at him until he gets it.


BADER (Darkly)

Would you like a pitcher or—


CLAIRE

A pitcher would be great, thank you.


He exits. Claire turns to Susie.


CLAIRE

Hi Susie—


ARENBERG

You go through me.


CLAIRE

Please relay to your client that if she would like a private conversation with me she is allowed to ask her lawyer to leave at any point.


SUSIE

What?

ARENBERG

What are you doing.


CLAIRE

Please tell Ms. Glenn that I would like to have a private conversation with her—

ARENBERG

That’s enough.


CLAIRE

I understand if she is uncomfortable being alone with me—


SUSIE

I’m not uncomfortable—


ARENBERG

Yes you are! / Yes she is—


SUSIE

I want to talk to her.


ARENBERG

No.


SUSIE

I won’t say anything bad—


ARENBERG

You can’t do this—


SUSIE

Yes, I can—(To Claire) I can?


CLAIRE

Yes.


ARENBERG

Susie—


SUSIE

You are my lawyer and I am telling you to leave.


CLAIRE (To Arenberg)

We all want the same thing here. I swear.


SUSIE

Mark.


Seeing no other option:


ARENBERG

Ten minutes. Door open.

Arenberg exits. The women are left alone.


CLAIRE

Listen, the way a plea bargain works—


SUSIE

I know how it works.


CLAIRE

So you understand that if you take it—


SUSIE

Is this why you wanted to talk to me? The deal?


CLAIRE

What else would we—


SUSIE

I’m a real Muslim.



CLAIRE

Okay.


SUSIE

I know you don’t believe me.


CLAIRE

It doesn’t matter what I believe—


SUSIE

It does to me. You’re the only Muslim I’ve ever met in real life—


CLAIRE

Well I’ve met plenty of ignorant white people so I can’t say this is a first for me.



SUSIE

Call them back.


CLAIRE

Wait. I’m sorry. / Let’s just start over—

SUSIE

I’m not changing my mind about the deal, so if that’s the only thing / you wanted to—


CLAIRE

Just tell me why. Give me one good reason to reject this deal—


SUSIE

I’m leaving it to God.



CLAIRE

Leaving what to God?...The verdict?


SUSIE

If God wants me to go free, then I will go free.


CLAIRE

No, if the jury wants you to go free then you will go free.


SUSIE

If it is God’s will then the jury will find me not guilty.


CLAIRE

And what if the jury finds you guilty? What does that mean?


SUSIE

It means that I will suffer. And I will suffer knowing it is His will that I do.


CLAIRE

God doesn’t want you to suffer.


SUSIE

How do you know?


CLAIRE

Because God doesn’t want anyone to suffer.


SUSIE

Then why do people suffer?


CLAIRE

Because they’re morons and refuse plea bargains!


I was ready to DIE! I had given up on freedom, I had given up on life, I had given up on God! I had no hope, I had no help, strangers were telling me I should be raped and killed and finally it was like, OKAY! You want me to disappear, I will DISAPPEAR.

And then I didn’t. He saved me.



CLAIRE

Okay, look: you went through a huge trauma and you must / be really scared—


SUSIE

Stop it. Stop talking to me like that.


CLAIRE

Like what?


SUSIE

Like you’re on my side—


CLAIRE

Right now everyone just wants what’s best for you—


SUSIE

Bullshit. This deal helps you. I admit my guilt, they put me away, and you don’t have to take any responsibility for destroying my life. You get everything you want.


CLAIRE

I never wanted this, I never wanted you to hurt yourself—


SUSIE

Then what did you want?


CLAIRE (Low)

I wanted there to be consequences for your actions.


SUSIE

Punished for the rest of my life.


CLAIRE

Punished for the duration of a sentence agreed upon by a jury of your peers.


SUSIE

Saying it like that doesn’t make it better—

CLAIRE

It should, considering you could be answering to the Islamic State right now! I’m not going to apologize for defending my country and I’m certainly not going to apologize for defending my faith—


SUSIE

You were defending Islam by persecuting a Muslim?


CLAIRE

I was defending Islam by prosecuting ISIS!


SUSIE

Well did it work?

Is ISIS gone?

Are we safe?



CLAIRE

No.

Not yet.

But I am seen. I am heard. People are listening to me—that is more than anyone ever thought I would get. I was younger than you when I started wearing a hijab. And for the 14 years since, my dad has lived in constant fear that I’m going to get killed. And for 14 years I have disregarded that fear. Because I was set on proving that I could wear a hijab and still be everything I wanted to be. And now I’m a Harvard graduate, a federal prosecutor—I’m apparently living the American Dream—and I don’t even know if I’m going to survive my walk home tonight. I know what it is to want to disappear. But God put me on this earth and I honor His will by choosing to be visible.


Claire pushes the deal towards Susie.


CLAIRE

Real Muslims endure. We start over as many times as we have to. Three years. Get out. Start over.


The women stare at each other uncertainly. Susie drops her gaze to the deal. She pulls it towards her. She looks at it longingly, wavering. Claire holds her breath. Then:


SUSIE

God can forgive me. But America never will. And I’m done fighting.


Susie pushes the deal away from her.

25.


Late at night. Claire sits at her cramped, cluttered desk. Her headscarf has slipped off her head. Bader enters.


BADER

Is this your office?—Sorry.


He turns away while she covers herself.


CLAIRE

I didn’t realize anyone was still in the building.


BADER

Jesus, it smells like sweaty intern down here. I wanted to talk to you about the closing.


CLAIRE

I know, I’m working on it, I just—


BADER

I’m going to deliver it to the jury.



BADER

The closing has to be airtight. It has to be full of conviction.


CLAIRE

Have I done something wrong?


BADER

Not at all. You’ve been an invaluable team-member—


CLAIRE

Team member? What team? I am the face of this case!


BADER

Yes, and what a lovely face it is. Let’s not forget who put it there.


CLAIRE

Is that what this is about? Your ego?


BADER

This is about winning. Arenberg is going to play the father card. I am a father, too—

CLAIRE

You’re a father every other week for 48 hours when your ex-wife is feeling generous.



BADER

We both know you don’t want to deliver the fatal blow.


CLAIRE

I have delivered every other blow and I will take responsibility for the final one—


BADER

You have one responsibility and that’s to the law.

You took this case to protect the ones you care about and I took it to protect mine. Because you’re right: I am a shit father. I don’t make my kids’ lunches, I don’t read them books, sometimes I don’t even like them—but I love them. And I will do everything in my power to keep them safe and the only power I have is the law. So I do what I do and I do it damn well and if a few casualties occur along the way, they won’t be my kids.



BADER

Come up to my office and we’ll go over it together.


He turns to leave.


CLAIRE

No.

I quit.


She exits.

26.


Eight months before Susie’s arrest. The beginning.


FACELESS MAN

Hey


SUSIE

Hey!

sorry do I know you? smiley face


FACELESS MAN

Just over Twitter.


SUSIE

Oh! R u the one who posted the picture of his sister?


FACELESS MAN

Yes


SUSIE

omg i really meant what i tweeted. i can’t believe how awful everyone was being. they’re assholes they have no idea what it’s like


FACELESS MAN

What it is like?


SUSIE

to lose someone

not that your sister is going to die! Sorry OMG i’m so sorry i can’t believe i just said that


FACELESS MAN

No, I know what you mean. Thank you.


SUSIE

sorry, but your profile isn’t in english what’s your name?


FACELESS MAN

Reza. And u r Susie, yes?


SUSIE

That’s me!


FACELESS MAN

I wasn’t sure if you were the right one. The right Susie, I mean

SUSIE

yeah i’m impressed you actually found me

there must be hundreds of other Susie Glenns out there


FACELESS MAN

Thousands, probably winkie face

27.


Susie and Claire stand in separate pools of light. They face each other. Bader addresses the jury.


BADER

Ladies and gentleman of the jury. Your Honor. It is my privilege to stand before you today. I don’t say that for the sake of decorum, I say that as an honest description of my place in this room—in any room: I am privileged. Race, gender, money—I am privileged.

Some are as privileged as I am. Many are not. But even with disparity in the fortunes of American citizens, I think we can all agree that to be an American citizen is a fortune of its own.

Most people feel guilty for their privilege. I don’t. It’s not a dirty word. It’s a contract: The greater my riches, the greater my responsibility to the collective well-being. And contracts are reciprocal, so, conversely, if I am ungenerous, if I cause harm—then my privileges should be taken away. That’s fair. That’s justice.


Arenberg addresses the jury.


ARENBERG

I was reading a New York Times article other day about life in Syria under ISIS. In Raqqa they refer to the Islamic State as Al Tanzeem, which translates to The Organization. It’s a fitting name: Anonymous. Inhuman.

Part of the reason that The Organization has been so successful is that it forces people to report their friends and neighbors for infractions against the State. And even if you don’t accuse anyone, you still do not intervene when they drag your aunt from your house, or when they whip your doctor in the town square. Because if you protest, you meet the same fate. In this way, The Organization divides and isolates people. Citizens become paranoid, then hysterical, then radical.

That’s in Syria, though. That would never happen in America. Right?


BADER

Susie Glenn broke her contract.


ARENBERG

We would never let our fear motivate a hasty accusation. We know better.


BADER

She broke it the second she tweeted at an ISIS Twitter account.


ARENBERG

We would never remain silent if we witnessed an unjust punishment. We know better.


BADER

She broke it when she agreed to marry a terrorist.

ARENBERG

We would never pretend that one girl is somehow the key to taking down “The Organization”—


BADER

When she bought her plane ticket to Turkey, when she offered public support for mass murder—


ARENBERG

That in sacrificing a teenager we will somehow end—what? Terrorism?


BADER

She broke that contract over and over again.


ARENBERG

We know better.


BADER

And now she sits in this courtroom and dares to ask for second chances? For reasonable doubt? Those are American privileges that Ms. Glenn chose to give up.


ARENBERG

A little girl cannot be the face of ISIS.


BADER

And we can’t afford to waste generosity on the ungrateful.


ARENBERG

Terrorism has no face.


BADER

When you think of what is at stake—


ARENBERG

Terrorism has no religion, no country, no continent.


BADER

When you think of the kind of nation you want your children to grow up in—


ARENBERG

Terrorism is nothing more or less than organized hate.


BADER

There is no price too high to pay for that dream.

CLAIRE

Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem


BADER

You 12 know what it means to honor a contract.


SUSIE

In the Name of God, The Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy


ARENBERG

You 12 hold the life of a teenage girl in your hands.


CLAIRE

Al hamdu lillaahi rabbil ‘alameen


SUSIE

Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds


BADER

You have paid your dues.


CLAIRE

Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem


BADER

Susie Glenn has not.


SUSIE

The Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy


ARENBERG

This is a girl who wandered.


CLAIRE

Maaliki yaumid Deen


SUSIE

Master of the Day of Judgment—


BADER

She’s not paid for her privileges, she’s not paid for her sins.


CLAIRE

Iyyaaka na’abudu wa iyyaaka nasta’een

SUSIE

It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help.


ARENBERG

This is a girl who got lost in the dark.


CLAIRE

Ihdinas siraatal mustaqeem


SUSIE

Guide us to the straight path.


BADER

She must pay now.


CLAIRE

Siraatal ladheena an ‘amta’ alaihim


SUSIE

The path of those You have blessed.


ARENBERG

But we will bring her back to the light.


CLAIRE

Ghairil maghduubi’ alaihim


ARENBERG

Because in America—we protect our own.


SUSIE

Those who incur no anger.


CLAIRE

Waladaaleen


SUSIE

And who have not gone astray.


The women turn away from each other and face forward. The sound of a gavel. End of play.