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Act I, Section 7 of Louis Slotin Sonata:


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. . . (Lights out on Slotin.

Lights out on the lab.

Special up on Nurse Dickie.)

DICKIE: During the first 24 hours of care, the patient's hand became increasingly painful. The pain was described as burning in character and was associated with numbness.

(Lights up on Slotin.)

SLOTIN: Kind of like sitting on your hand at the movies for the entire duration of Gone With The Wind.

DICKIE: The swelling of the thumb increased rapidly, and 24 hours after exposure the entire hand and forearm were tensely distended with firm nonpitting edema.

SLOTIN: Blisters.

DICKIE: The cyanosis--

SLOTIN: Blueness.

DICKIE: --of the thumb was more noticeable at this time. There was also a cyanotic tinge to the skin over the markedly distended interphalangeal joints.

SLOTIN: Swollen knuckles.

DICKIE: A slight erythema--

SLOTIN: Redness.

DICKIE: Was noted on the lower, previously non-sunburned portion of the trunk--

SLOTIN: My privates.

(Nurse Dickie draws a dose of morphine into a syringe from a small glass vial.)

DICKIE: The pain in the hands was controlled by ice packs and morphine.

(She gives Slotin the shot.)

SLOTIN: Mmmmmmorphine.

(Morrison enters.)

Ah, Phil. Nurse Dickie was just supplying me some morphine-- lovely stuff by the way. You should try it some time-- in return for which I am supplying her an introduction into quantum mechanics

MORRISON: I see. Well, I suppose that sounds like a fair exchange.

SLOTIN: Quantum mechanics versus God, actually.

MORRISON: Oh?

(Nurse Dickey turns to leave.)

SLOTIN: Annamae, you're leaving?

DICKIE: I do have other patients, Louie. I'll be back.

SLOTIN: All right, all right. It's just as well. I'm rambling. We'll have Phil explain it all later. He's much better at making sense out of all of it anyway.

DICKIE: All right. I'll look forward to that.

(Nurse Dickey exits.)

SLOTIN: Hmmm... Where was I?

MORRISON: Quantum mechanics.

SLOTIN: Ah yes. Quantum mechanics versus God. Mmmm. What was I getting at anyway?

MORRISON: Louie, if you'd like to rest, perhaps I could come back later.

SLOTIN: NO!... No, no. Wait, it'll come back to me. Quantum mechanics versus God. Quantum mechanics versus God.... God does not play dice. Exactly! God versus Quantum Mechanics. Both metaphors-- tools: systems for considering the universe. But as far as I know, only one of these systems can be successfully employed to blow up a city.

(Crossfade from Phil to Israel Slotin downstage.)

ISRAEL SLOTIN: Ah, but what about Gomorrah, says the old man. You never heard a that?

SLOTIN: Dad, it's a story.

ISRAEL SLOTIN: And Hiroshima's not a story?

SLOTIN: It's a true story. Phil can tell you. He was there.

ISRAEL SLOTIN: Phil can tell me Phil can tell me. A story's a story-- Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Sodom and Gomorrah. Personally my favorite part is when Abraham haggles with the Lord.

SLOTIN: Ah, yes. The original Jew.

ISRAEL SLOTIN: Exactly. The Lord says:

(Lights up on The Lord, looking suspiciously like Harry Truman.)

THE LORD: Abraham, it's time you were made aware of my intentions t'ward Sodom and Gomorrah. Fact is there has been a great outcry over these two cities, what with the sin and, well-- sodomizing and such. And quite frankly we are seriously taking it under advisement to consider them targets for annihilation.

ISRAEL SLOTIN: Well, needless to say, this is news to Abraham.

Lord, what are you saying? Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked? I mean, hypothetically speaking, what if there's fifty people down there who are really... really... you know... good? Are you really gonna wipe them out and destroy the city despite fifty truly good and decent people? Lord, that's not like you, to toss out the good with the bad. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?

THE LORD: All right, all right. Just hold on there a minute, Abraham. If I can find fifty righteous folks in Sodom I'll spare the place.

ISRAEL SLOTIN: May I presume, dust and ashes that I am, to ask, what if you found five shy of fifty? You know? I mean, would you destroy the place on account of five bad eggs?

THE LORD: All right, if I find forty-five, I'll spare the darn city.

ISRAEL SLOTIN: What about forty?

THE LORD: For the sake of forty, won't do it.

ISRAEL SLOTIN: Okay now don't get upset... but uh... what if we're talking thirty?

THE LORD: Fine. If I find thirty, won't destroy 'em.

(pause)

ISRAEL SLOTIN: Twenty?

THE LORD: Twenty.

(pause)

ISRAEL SLOTIN: Look, Lord, I'm begging you not to be angry here, but if I could just say... you know... one more thing.

(Pause while the Lord waits indulgently.)

How far is twenty from ten, really? When you're looking at the big picture of things, you know?

THE LORD: For ten's sake, won't do it.

ISRAEL SLOTIN (to audience): And then... what?

(The Lord walks offstage.)

The Lord walks away... .End of scene. No more haggling. And in the very next chapter... ka-boom! Kablooie! No more Sodom and Gomorrah. Apparently the Lord didn't find the ten people he was looking for. Or maybe-- and this is only my humble opinion-- he never for a second seriously considered letting Sodom and Gomorrah off the hook.

Look, think about it. This is the Lord we're talking about. There wasn't gonna be any diplomatic solution. There wasn't going to be any prior warning or ultimatums. There wasn't going to be any serious effort to spare the lives of civilians. The Lord had the bomb and he was gonna use the bomb. Can you blame him? He had the Russians breathing down his throat, not to mention Pearl Harbor to avenge. He had to compare uranium versus plutonium.

SLOTIN: Dad, what the hell are you talking about?

ISRAEL SLOTIN: Hiromorrah and Sodomsaki

(Crossfade back from Israel to Phil.)

MORRISON: Louis, what are you talking about?

SLOTIN: What?

MORRISON: You just mumbled something. Sounded like "hero" something something "saki".

SLOTIN: Hero saki mmmmmorphine.

MORRISON: What?

SLOTIN: They're cities.

MORRISON: Cities?

SLOTIN: Just some cities I'm building in my brain.

MORRISON: You were talking about quantum mechanics.

SLOTIN: Did I sound like I knew what I was talking about?

MORRISON: Of course. Before you drifted off there you were quite lucid on the subject.

SLOTIN: Ah, there's no surer sign of rapidly encroaching dementia than a man who thinks he understands quantum mechanics.

MORRISON: You might have a point there. But then by that logic Oppie, and Fermi, and Teller are more insane than either of us.

SLOTIN: Especially Teller. Herr Superbomb himself.

MORRISON: Oh I think we got a ways to go before we're building anything thermonuclear.

SLOTIN: Ah, Phil, ever the starry-eyed pessimist. Remember when we thought that the fission bomb wouldn't be possible: that nature wouldn't allow such an abomination? But we found out: nature's a whore. And she'll lift her skirt on this fusion bomb, don't you worry. Then we'll be blowing up whole countries. And cities like Hiromorrah and Sodomsaki will look like small potatoes. If it can be done it will be done and therefore should be done. Sieg heil.

God is jealous.

MORRISON: What?

SLOTIN: "For I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous god." When I was a kid I always wondered what that meant. It didn't make any sense. He's God. What could he possibly be jealous of? But now I get it. He wants our superbomb. He's just plain jealous.

(Fade to black.

Special up on Slotin exactly where he lay a moment before.)

SLOTIN: For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God--

(Slotin points out into the darkness. A special comes up on The Lord as played by Harry Truman.)

THE LORD: Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate me.

(Special up on Einstein.)

EINSTEIN: God does not play dice.

THE LORD: Visiting the iniquity of the fathers

EINSTEIN: God does not play nice.

SLOTIN: Upon the children?

EINSTEIN: God does not entice.

THE LORD: Of them that hate me.

EINSTEIN: God does not play twice.

(Lights out on Einstein.

Lights out on the Lord.

Lights out on Slotin.

Special up on Dr. Hempelmann and Nurse Dickie.) . . .

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