Friday, February 4, 2011

Oedipus Renamed

Greetings everyone.  This play goes out to all who have read Greek tragedies.  I got the idea to write a sequel to Oedipus the King from researching the references that Aeschylus makes throughout the play.  As with all Greek drama, there is a great deal of back-story that the audience knew about but we do not.  Thus, the play I wrote was meant to bring in the most relevant parts of the back-story into the foreground while at the same time giving some real resolution to the cycle.  At any rate, if you haven't read Oedipus the King it isn't a very long play (about 1200 lines) and it'll take you around an hour to two hours to do so.  I suggest you read that before you read how I responded to it or you won't get as much out of the experience.

At any rate, here's the play.

Character list (in order of appearance)

Hermes – Dressed in his classic style.  He has a toga, wand, helmet, and winged sandals.  Son of Maia and messenger god of Olympus.

Oedipus – Make-up to look the part of a shade. Wearing bleached out clothes which are also grimy.  The actor may choose to wear some sort of eye-covering to aid the fact that he is “blind”.  The director must put 
 actual shackles on the legs of Oedipus.

Helicon – A taller actor he must have some history in singing in order to keep up the musical tones throughout.  A mountain and god located west of Thebes.

Cithaeron – A shorter actor and able to keep a deep voice and still project his lines.  A mountain and god where the Thebes was built.

Cyllene – Good friend of Hermes and the place of Hermes’ birth.  Wearing a sheepskin and carrying a shepherd’s staff.  A mountain and god located near the western shore of Greece.

Olympus – Need only be grand and noble sounding.  Gold clothes, snowy hair but young looking.  A mountain and god located far to the west and North from Thebes.

Parnassus – Played by an elderly man wearing a drab hooded cloak.  A mountain and god located near Delphi, west of Thebes between Olympus and Helicon.

Scene: the foothills of Mount Cithaeron where the cairn of Oedipus was built for his burial.  It is morning but there is a haze in the sky which casts the land in a pallid shade.

(Manent Hermes and Oedipus a spirit, they rise out of the floor of the stage)

HERMES: Keep hold of me, blind and lame king, we are arriving at the place of your burial.

OEDIPUS: Long years did I dwell in shame and tears, eking out my life upon these hills.  The family of those woeful shepherds, being near to kin, saw to my care in the shadow of Cithaeron.  My cairn views the city of Thebes from the hill nearby.  Why have you, leader of the dead, brought me up from the depths of the underworld to this place? 

HERMES: Lame of foot in life, lamer of hope in death!  Will you continue to despair of any goodness even after you have been dredged out of the waters of the underworld itself?  Quiet your questions and believe the messages that your gods speak for once in your existence.  Do not repeat the mistake you made while king by acting before thinking of what consequences may come.

OEDIPUS: As you say.                                                                             

HERMES: On account of a long string of favors was I able to remove you for a time from the grasp of Hades, for he is loath to release his charges, and return you to the place of your death.  The origin of this plot began with the god, Mount Parnassus.  Parnassus had previously made me privy of certain prophecies of the Delphic oracle that Apollo had meant not to reach other divine ears and in return for that favor Parnassus asked me to ensure that you would be here from sunrise to sunset on this day.  It is he who wishes to speak to you but not he alone... as Parnassus told me of some of his comrades of rock who are also coming.

OEDIPUS: For what purpose has this great mountain called for an audience?

HERMES: An audience with you?  It is you who has an audience with them, shade!  He did not inform me as to the details but said that it was good news to a troubled soul.

OEDIPUS: Few have been the mortals with a more pitiful life than mine.  Now in my death I hold no hope at all of redemption or a better state.  I would rather continue in the loneliness of Persephone’s government than be offered false hope again.  The gods have offered healing before at the cost of my life.

HERMES: You are not hopeless in truth though you may be hopeless in your mind.  Here come some of the other visitors.  Take care to show your respect for these are elder gods birthed of the earth spirit Gaia into great mountains.  Because you are blind take care to remember what their voices sound like, in no other way will you be able to remember them.  Cithaeron is short but strong and wears a laurel crown; his voice is deep and pulls at your ears.  Helicon is tall and has a more musical voice.

(Manent Cithaeron and Helicon)

HELICON: I still can’t believe I was asked to come at the same time as you, Cithaeron!  You still wear the crown you won at my humiliation.

CITHAERON: Stop your incessant complaints, Oh Mountain of muses.  Five hundred seasons have passed since that time

HELICON: If it was so long ago as to forget then why do you persist to wear the symbol of your victory?
CITHAERON: Because you persist to call yourself the musical Mountain.

HERMES: May I remind you, esteemed gods that you are not here to bicker.

OEDIPUS: Yes, please relate to me the purpose of your visit.

HELICON: Ever since Gaia birthed my greatness, I was known as gifted in song.  Over the ages I inspired many poets and even became a home to three of the nine muses!  I was chief among my brothers in this until Cithaeron upstaged me.  It was I who made the challenge to all of my brothers, “best me in song and I will call your mountain greater.”  None but Cithaeron took up the call.  We held the competition and he was declared the victor by votes.  I wouldn’t be vengeful at his triumph if it weren’t for the means by which he secured it.  Many years before I issued the challenge Cithaeron helped Zeus and Hera reunite after one of their petty arguments.  Both Zeus and Hera were present to vote at the singing challenge and Cithaeron won over me by exactly two points. 

CITHAERON: He still maintains I cheated when he has the word of all three gods in question against the fact that it happened.  You must understand Oedipus that ever since he lost Helicon has plotted revenge against me.  At his defeat he dashed a great rock on the ground as evidence of his lingering malice and curse.  But he could never do me direct harm; so when a human who resembled me enough and who was under my protection appeared, he hatched a plot to secure the man’s absolute misery.  Wounds against you were wounds against me.

HELICON: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

CITHAERON: You mean before or after you had five hundred years to change your mind?  (Helicon takes a defiant stance in response)

OEDIPUS (Taking has hand off of Hermes):  I knew it was the hand of some malevolent force which must have orchestrated my downfall!  I had always thought the gods so pure and noble... above such base revenge.  All my life Fate and divinity were plotting my destruction and I, like my legs, were shackled to them.

HELICON: Yes it’s true!  Rage, rage at Fate and curse your birth.  It is only Fate which could have secured Cithaeron’s victory over me.  I am the better singer, the better artist.  I will not bow down and call his mountain greater.

HERMES (Catching Oedipus’ hand): Peace brothers!  Was it your mission to upset your charge?  This shade has suffered enough.

OEDIPUS: No, shepherd’s guard, do not tell them to stop.  Whether or not they set out to torture me they have done so... and it was indeed Fate that twisted their gentleness to pain.  Who would have thought the musical Helicon could hold a grudge so long?  It is beyond the thoughts of even the gods and into the realm of Fate.

HERMES: How many times will I need to tell you to take courage?  Your name is not mistaken, all is known about you now.  Your current state is not like your life when no man knew the nature of your lineage.  But now, you stand here fully known and yet we still say that there is great hope for you.  The Mountains have chosen you for some blessing, now you must endure but a little longer to see what it is.  Now here arrives my birth Mountain to give you his tale, dressed in sheepskin and wielding a staff of guidance.

(Manet Cyllene)

OEDIPUS: I mean no disrespect to you honored gods, but this audience has become tiresome to me.  How long, messenger of the gods, must I gain hope in the face of such a long procession of mountains?

CYLLENE (smiling at Oedipus): I have glad news for your ears to enjoy.  We mountains each have a hand in your downfall, either by direction or inaction.  For this reason we have searched for a remedy to your affliction, to preserve our honor.  Cithaeron and Helicon had nothing to offer but their tale – for they can only sing... never act.  But I have found a possibility of your ascension from Hades.

OEDIPUS (Downcast): Guide me then Cyllene, mountain of shepherds.

CYLLENE: As you well know, there are few places for spirits to call home in the afterlife.  You found your lot with the common in the land of Hades.  But there is a chance that you could seize a better home.  If you were to eat of the Amaranth[1] from the Elysian Fields then you would be granted access to the land which brought forth that divine celery.  Then you would call yourself contented to dwell with the heroes and enjoy the blessing of all the gods in peace.

OEDIPUS: How can I obtain such a sacred plant?  For all of your good will, you have none of the flower never fading to give me to eat.
(There is a moment of silence)

HELICON: It is true, no god but Zeus himself could give to you that plant.  To gain access to the Elysian Fields you must eat of that which you cannot get, to eat you must gain access to where you cannot go.  I find your position even worse than that of Tantalus’, for he at least had tasted of the forbidden substance but you are caught between the water and the tree with no taste of ambrosia on your lips.

HERMES: Let your words be as careful as your songs are divine, Helicon.

CITHAERON: Do not grieve overmuch, Oedipus.  The time of a shade in the house of Hades is not over-burdensome. Despite your blindness and your chains-

OEDIPUS (Interrupting him): Console not me, noble Cithaeron, for you do not know the bare substance of a shade in the hands of the stern caretakers.  Slowly we forget the energy of every joy we experienced in life and the drain of grey upon grey leaches your memories out of us.  One by one we spirits lose all knowledge and sink into sleep at the bottom of the Lethe[2]- never to rise.  Come Hermes, lead on my spirit back to the doom of forgetting and across the black rivers.

HERMES: I cannot do so, my charge, for the sun has yet to set... though the time to evening is not so far away.  There still remain two who might have a good message to carry. Remember the amount of work these mountains did in order to even secure a conversation with you.  They did not come only to satisfy the questions you may have about your life.

CITHAERON: We also have our names at stake by rectifying your own.  Put aside your stubborn doubts and smile on the mere chance of betterment.

(Manent Olympus and Parnassus)

HERMES (Embracing him): Olympus, dear friend, how did you find time to come away with all of the activities of the gods at your peaks?

OLYMPUS: The task itself was simple but required a painful audience with the king of heaven and queen of lives.  Cyllene had told me of his plan to gain the virtuous flower so that the celery would grant its virtue to the shade king.  I grasped their knees and recalled the many favors I had done for them.  I pleaded that they grant this exception to enter the Fields but... Zeus did not for a moment entertain the request.

OEDIPUS (In a weak voice): What was it... that he said?

OLYMPUS: He said that no man can change his fate.  And even if that were possible Zeus himself would forbid any man unworthy of the rank hero to enter the Fields.  Lest he dishonor all dwelt there who had maintained honor and fought for the gods.

OEDIPUS: There is no hope then. Here at last the truth is uncovered from the stones of your stories.  I feel like the man who heard of a great treasure buried underneath the guard of weighty stones and upon uncovering the chamber found only his tomb.

HELICON: You are more right than you know, mortal, the many corpses of shame our channels hold.

OEDIPUS: I thank you for answering the questions that lingered in my mind.  But it is all to no avail for I will still slip into the Lethe and remember nothing.

(He turns towards his grave and begins to sink into the earth)

OLYMPUS (Grabbing his shoulder): You shall remain!  Though you blame fate I tell you the truth, there is no decider of your actions but yourself.  You need not have killed your father at the crossroads for blocking the way.  You assumed that he was a dishonorable man and judged him.  It would have been a small thing to wait a few moments for him to pass.  You could have shown him mercy and left the matter lie.  This had you done so you may have indeed escaped the curse Helicon laid out.  Do not take the easy road to escape your pains.  If indeed you are guilty show more honor now than you did in life and spurn the forgetting waters of Lethe.

OEDIPUS (Weeping): Let it be as you say, great one.

PARNUSSUS: Hermes, psycho-pomp[3], carry him before us.  The sun is not yet to set.
(Hermes picks up the weightless shade and sets him down among the mountains.  They make a semi-circle around him)

PARNASSUS: Before I speak, I must ask you.  Are you content now to accept your lot?

OEDIPUS: It is as Olympus said, I have no right of complaint - no pride or strength.  I the king am now a 
simple shade and only just.

PARNASSUS: It is good.  Much of what I wished to accomplish has come to pass.  When Pan taught Apollo the mystery to prophecy, he did so while upon my mountain.  A single facet from the many is that all prophecies are dependent upon executors and without a vessel to carry forth, the ideas there is no fulfillment.  My first gift to you, Oedipus, is this; prophecy and Fate are only true so far as they are made.

(Oedipus is unable to speak, but clutches his hair in shock)
PARNASSUS: Why is it that you think the gods always tell of the prophecies and then keep a very close watch on the progress of their predictions?  If it were inevitable then they need only speak the prophecy in order to have the desired effect on the faith of their followers.

(Oedipus starts to get up)

HERMES: Stay calm man.

(Oedipus remains on the ground)

PARNASSUS: There is another, greater, gift I would give you... when you are collected.

(A moment passes, Oedipus dries his tears and takes a deep breath – then nods)

PARNASSUS: I began this process because I had the chance to divert your path from slaying your father at my crossroad.  Two out of three of the roads there lead to my mountain by different routes.  One goes first to Delphi and then on to the mountain.  The road to Daulia also winds its way to my mountain.  The prophetic element was meant to trap you on your course to ruin.  I only needed to send a slight impulse along the roads and you would have had visions of what that future held for you.  But, I refrained out of fear of Apollo.

HERMES: These Mountains even now risk much by uncovering the secrets of the gods.  I for one am not in favor of what they do but I swore I would help Parnassus in his need.  It is better for the mortals to continue in fear of what we might be able to do rather than to know how they might act out their own plans.

PARNASSUS: I will not challenge your thoughts beyond this, what good are servants ill educated?  It is better to tell all to those who you would have love you and risk their loss, than to keep them ignorant and secure no love at all.  Listen to me, Oedipus.  Though your very name is about to change, we have decided to bestow upon you the highest honor the Mountains have power to grant.

(The five Mountains take hold of Oedipus)

PARNASSUS: We are going to transport your cairn to an empty place far from the shadows of Olympus.  There, in a foreign land, your burial will find its stones enlarged and multiplied.  We are making you into a Mountain.

(Oedipus is hidden from the sight of the audience by the pressing bodies of the Mountains for a few moments.  When he emerges his sight is restored and the shackles are removed from his legs)

PARNASUS: There you will lie in rest and peace.  Once your Mountain is made your spirit will take on a form more suitable for your newness.  After a great amount of time there will come many artists and travelers to admire and enhance the beauty of your landscape.

OEDIPUS: This is boon beyond my ability to express thanks.

CITHAERON: Thank us as you might but we also will thank you for receiving our gifts and freeing us from our shame.

(Oedipus nods unable to speak once again)

CYLLENE: The sun has come to setting and soon you must return to the place from which Hermes brought you.  Endure your loneliness there for only five more days.  A day for each of us to add to the height and beauty of the Mountain we are making for you.

HELICON: Its form and color shall surely inspire songs and poetry.

OLYMPUS: Its prominence and location shall also lend it more fame.

OEDIPUS: I trust in your hands, ancient Stones, the making of another as you already are.  I find myself 
fortunate to call such as you future brothers – closer than birth can make it.

HERMES: Come now; take my hand.  We must descend again.  And as you go I’ll tell you some of the legends you will make.  But first of all, your new name.  They shall call you Rushmore.

[1] Amaranth is a special species of celery which grows in Greece.  Its flower once plucked does not wilt but will maintain the blossom and color for a long time.  Because of this it is called the never fading flower and was thought to be eaten by the heroes in the Elysian Fields in order to protect their immortality.
[2] One of the five rivers of the underworld, the spirits of the dead drink from it in order to forget their earthly lives.  The others are the Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, and Cocytus.
[3] Greek, meaning “procession of spirits”.  It is one of the many names of Hermes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

And there was Much Rejoicing

Dear all, my laptop has been repaired!  Let the jubilation commence henceforth.  *Jubilates*

Now that we've got that out of the way, allow me to get down to business.  Soon, my friends, I will be returning to the foreign land of education.  All in all I've been satisfied with the amount of time I've been able to spend with each of you but... still it is not enough to make the departure any easier.  I love you all.  I know that I'm not the best with keeping in touch with anyone whilst I apply myself to studies but send me an e-mail and I'll make it a point to turn it around.

*Sigh*  I miss the days of summer as they were when we were young.  Yet, we did not value them much in our youth and squandered many hours with fruitless play or idleness.  Imagine what our forever summer will be like when we are remade...

Let us not be ashamed of the way we have spent the time when we arrive in a place where time is a free commodity.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Of Romance

So many words and a great deal of sweat has been spilled on this topic.  Let's face it, humans are obsessed with romance.  We like to see it in others, we want to experience it ourselves, and just about every great story has a good one in it.  For those of us who have never been in one we have sometimes asked ourselves, "Ok, so what's the big deal anyway?  Yes, happiness apparently results from this sort of thing but still... people completely change because of this?"  And it did really seem incredulous at the time.  But with age and understanding and maybe even a brush with romance itself we come to know the truth.  Romance doesn't change people, love does.

Before I'm assaulted by a screaming horde of women I should define what I'm saying.  "Romance" is good, desirable and necessary in order for a certain love to prosper and continue.  But it is not an end, rather a journey which reaches that end.  Meaning, the purpose of romance isn't more romance.  The purpose of romance is love.  It IS true that love and romance feed each other in a way but that can only confuse the issue, not clarify it.  Let's not kid ourselves into making the two synonymous or even co-dependent.  You love people who have never once given you flowers or chocolate, or done any number of things which may be considered "romantic".

There is obviously a difference in loves, let's call them eros and agape.  I could defend only two names for this complicated subject but I won't go farther than to say that these are more like categories than specifics.  I'll challenge you to deny that all love falls under either "romantic" or "best-seeking".  Each of these loves is specific in that you can't love someone you don't know about.  It's impossible, love requires action and familiarity thus, to love someone you must at least know about them.  For example, I can see someone loving a boy in Kenya who they give money to even if they have never once talked to him or received a letter from him.  If you search the Bible for this kind of love you'd be hard pressed to find it because most people were attached to their community and rarely encountered anyone outside of it.  But we can find the principle of the matter in the book of Ruth, since the two main characters of the book do not even see each other until after the agreement was made.

Agape is adaptable.  It is possible, and we are even commanded, to love everyone you have met.  You can even love people you have only heard about but never met.  That means you can literally love your hostibus, referring to the enemies of the nation, as well as your inimicus (or your fellow citizen enemies).  Agape always acts for the best of its object, the question which you must decide is what best entails.  

For how many things, which for our own sake we should never do, do we perform for the sake of our friends.  Cicero

Agape is specific but eros is unique.  This is what tempts the bards to sing and poets to put pen on paper.  Artists can't get enough of the special.  Since love, in general, is already specific it is special.  Now add special UPON special and you really have a recipe for a song.  Now before I pretend to try and satisfy your curiosity as to what I think of this district of love I'll have to disappoint you by saying - I can't speak of what I haven't tasted.  That's right I'm ignorant in experience even if I have theoretical knowledge.  Eros is unique because it requires full unity in order to blossom.  I don't know what that means because I haven't been there.  Moving on then.

Back to romance.  This is something I am familiar with, to an extent.  In my situation romance must be tempered because it absolutely LEADS to eros and its just to that place I can't go.  So what does it mean to be in the balance?  How can I walk the line between too hot and too cold?  Agape.  Agape enables me to deny the strength of eros, and don't get me wrong I have felt it.  It's that feeling of a sun coming up through your chest into your head, it's the bending of all space to focus on her, it's the pouring of light through your eyes, it's...  But it would not be best, no.  What greater love has man than this?  How many times have I crucified myself to protect her?  Indeed, how many times has she done the same?

Sacrificial love is better than romantic love because it should and must be prior.  Ask yourself this question friends, have I confused my loves?  Have I mixed romance with agape or with eros?  Have I forgotten what is of most importance?  Unity with Christ is prior to unity with one another, unity with one another is ordered according to the loves, therefore order directs love according to unity.  So order your love that Christ is considered first, neighbor then as self (for you are also counted worthy to die for), and for the unique occasion of eros let it be tempered with agape.  In the end, it is a better declaration of love to feel the full weight of romantic love upon you and to deny it for another's sake than to give way to the disordered desire for unity.

If you pursue good with labor, the labor passes away but the good remains; if you pursue evil with pleasure, the pleasure passes away and the evil remains.  Cicero


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Sleep Thief

Greetings friends, I the Stranger am almost a free man.  There is only one, very short, assignment left for me to do and after that... the sweet sweet sound of a not busy type-writer.  At any rate, the newest addition to my "friends" list is a blog that I administrate.  It has been created in light of my fiction writing class.  The idea behind it is a giant, cooperative story in which a very, very large portion of land has been set aside to the sole use of an amusement park.  Not just any amusement park either, this park has sections within which is an independent nation of people who are typed into a specific genre.  These people are, like in the Truman show, without knowledge that they are in fact NOT free.  That's the context, now we just need a story and characters.

This is where some of you can come in.  If you're interested in participating then leave a comment saying which genre of fiction you would like to do.  Example, Science fiction.  Sounds like fun huh?

At any rate, here's a VERSION of a story that I'll be turning into a book sometime.  Enjoy.  It's called 

The Sleep Thief 
 “Your hormone levels are normal, none of the abnormalities that are sometimes present in women, and we’ve run every test we can think of and made up a few others.  There is no abnormal activity in your brain, nor are any of your organs malfunctioning.  From a purely biological standpoint you’re healthy, except of course the lack of sleep.”  Dr. Avignon, his annoying, chipper voice rang in my ears like a tambourine.  Normal, healthy... hah.  “I’m going to recommend you get a psyche evaluation.  I know you’re opposed but... we’ve got to cover all the bases.  If we can’t find anything at all unusual about you then... well we’re going to have to experiment.”
                Please sit down, he said, please have a cookie, he said.  Don’t worry, I’m a professional, he smiled through his hot tea.  Then came the childhood, normal really – except the part where I had to force myself to lie still when I felt my body growing.  After that came the hallucinations, yes I see things – no I don’t listen to the hallucinations... I told you already they’re because I don’t sleep so the dreams just barge right into reality.  You’ve never daydreamed before?  Around and around we go if we’ll stop we don’t know!
                After three months and countless questions the psychiatrist was stumped.  Dr. Ricardo’s smooth Latino voice continued, “Your mental health is phenomenal.  Really, you should be in a corner rocking back and forth giggling like a maniac.  This kind of insomnia is unheard of and theoretically you should be stark raving mad from the sheer pressure of it.  But you aren’t... it goes against everything we know about the human body and our need to rest.  It’s almost as if...”  As if what my dear doctor?  “As if you were made specifically to never sleep.”  I almost slapped him.
                Their spectacled heads floated beside me, talking of just how unique I was, when I decided to continue on the mountain path I was on.  It was a clear night but my tired eyes couldn’t see much of the stars or the blurry road.  Not far in the distance lay city lights.  I had taken a few hours to rest my legs when the hallucinations came again.  “Look!  She’s getting up already.  Marvelous, her stamina is astonishing really!   Dr. Ricardo, don’t you think that any normal girl would have given up already?”  “Why yes Dr. Avignon!  Her tenacity is almost super-human.  I wonder if she’s an alien who’s been engineered to appear human to every test...”  At this point the floating heads turned green and sprouted antennae and they spoke in unison, “It is time Joan.  We have sent you this message to tell you to resume your awesome alien form!”  The two doctors began to cackle as I walked down the mountain slope, happy that I was finally going downhill.
                Briarpatch City was aptly named by the colonial settlers who first discovered the valley.  There was a lazy river the town had grown around which had cultivated a rather belligerent briar bush affectionately referred to as the “border fence” by locals.  The city had evicted most of the prickly pests but a few were kept in a sort of briar garden in the central plaza of the city, as if to say, “We’re stickin’ through this!”  And so, I was a little surprised when I saw no one at all from the time it took me to walk from the city entrance to the center of the city.
                Sky scrapers surrounded me like brooding giants, a statue of a military commander stood amid the briars in the square.  Underneath the nearby City Bank there was a quarter machine for the Briarpatch Thorn, their city newspaper.  I did need information...
This just in from our crack reporter john r. Johnson
The sleep thief has finally done it and pulled the ultimate heist.  Over the past few months there have been 200 reported cases of stolen rest-discs and it has been speculated by authorities during this time that the thief was only able to keep up the rapid pace of burglaries due to the fact that he no longer needed to sleep at all.  We thought that with all the accumulated sleep, estimated at about 40 years, the thief would be satisfied and leave everyone alone.  However, our hopes were too high and this uncanny and nigh prescient burglar did the unthinkable.  He waited until everyone had been panicked enough to deposit their precious rest-disks at the maximum security Bank of Dreams where neither the guards nor the cameras sleep.  Then, when all thought their precious stored hours of sleep safe he managed to disarm the security system of the bank, sneak around the highly trained guards, and make away with every single rest-disc in the city with one pass!  It’s unbelievable but to our horror it is true.  With the amount of rest the black-hearted thief now has he could go 20 lifetimes – 2000 years – without ever needing to sleep.  Now the city will literally sleep, myself included, as everyone is totally bankrupt of their rest-disc and will need to catch up on the sleep they have been taking for granted all these years...
            “I had heard of the mind-boggling technology that the Bank of Dreams had come up with about twelve years ago.”  Commented the voice of my father, “It was a breakthrough for humanity; we could now theoretically live every moment of our lives awake... if we were willing to pay the price.”  His face came into view on top of the newspaper.  “There were two ways to get sleep stored on your personal rest-disc.”  He droned on.  “One was to sleep extra hours when you could and program the machine to siphon that energy from you while you slept so that when you awoke having slept twelve hours of real time you could feel like you do when you sleep seven.”  I began to look for mention of food in the newspaper.  “The other was to buy hours from the Bank of Dreams.  They held a machine that could convert other types of energy into rest-units, but the conversion process is expensive because no one has found a way to make it efficient.”
                One ad said, “Come to Begel’s hometown restaurant where our fresh-made meals will chase your nightmares away!  45 West Market Street.”  I’m sure that the ad was at least being clever, if not downright sarcastic.  Begel’s was anything but homey, the building was tiny and squished like so many downtown businesses are and it looked like a man with the imagination of a box had designed the interior with its cube tables, stools, and salt-shakers.  If this is homey then I had to wonder who the proprietor’s mother was.  Like the rest of the town it was deserted, the door unlocked.  There were two levels, but the upper one had a sign in front of it which said, “Staff only” and the lower one quickly transformed into an open kitchen.
                I rang the service bell, which was the size of a coconut, and a loud dinging resulted.  “What have we here?”  Said an unfamiliar, deep, male voice.  I waited, listening and the door closed.  One, two, three steps louder than the bell sounded on the wooden floor.  He wore nice shoes and I thought he was probably taller than I was.  Four footsteps – they stop and I felt my hackles rise as the sound of fabric moving filled my ears.  I catch the smell of Old Spice and then I ducked, turned sideways, and tackled him at the waist.  “Atta girl!  I knew I taught you how to tackle like a pro!”  Encouraged my father’s floating face.
                For whatever reason, he was wearing an expensive suit.  In his suit jacket’s chest-pocket was a business card, and before he got his breath back I picked it and leaned against a cube-table while he climbed up to his feet again.  “Why on earth did you do that for?”  Irritated voice, cultured city tones, not a threat.  I ignored him, “John R. Johnson” I muttered, “That’s the second time I’ve read that name.”  He looked at me, befuddled.  “John, didn’t you say that everybody was going to be sleeping?  Now why would an honest crack reporter like you be up and about when everyone else - and I mean everyone - is in their house asleep?”  He didn’t answer, blood left the face, lips firm, nostrils wide open.  “Are you the sleep thief?”
                He blinked.  Oh, how telling that blink was.  It was like the blink of a thousand nods.  Slow, inexorable, the lashes descended across his eyes.  I could tell he didn’t want to blink, tried his best not to blink, and was so disappointed when he did blink.  In that space of time I knew beyond doubt that this man could answer all of my questions.  My father’s voice laughed grimly and I smiled a little, cruel smile like the way the moon looks when it’s at its thinnest silver crescent.  “You have no proof.”  There was barely enough air in his voice to warrant a sound, much less a whisper to his words.  I smiled a little bigger than before, leaned forward, and cowed him with my eyes... I the skyscraper and he the briar-patch general.
                A large dull clock droned on and on somewhere hidden on the floor, tick, the sunlight fell in from the west windows, tock, the sound of something sizzling on the stove, tick, water pooled around my glass on the table, tock, and an air vent moaned its pitiful chore.  I sipped the cold, sweet water and listened to the sound of expensive shoes clop around upstairs.  The dining room was separated from the stairs by a living room around the corner, and the stairs wound up with more than half of it out of sight.   “I never would have thought my daughter would sit so calmly in the house of strange man.” Mother’s voice, silken, low, disappointed.  “I really thought I taught you better than that.”  Her voice faded as the shoes came down the stairs.  They stopped halfway; I heard rapid breaths, a muffled click, and a deeper breath.
                I slipped away from the table, leaving the condensation on my glass, and waited at the back of the stairs where a wall covered the guts of the steps.  The shoes began, more quickly this time.  “I have a disc for you to try.”  Said his voice, he tried to mask the fear with a triumphant tone.  He did not even look as he walked directly past me, his gaze so focused on the room around the corner.  He held a bird gun, double barrel, and two shots only.  My shoes matched the sound of his shoes as I shadowed him to the next room.  He stopped in shock when my glass spilled its secret, still crying from the loneliness.  I saw his hackles rise and before he could react further I clobbered him at the back of his neck.
                The expensively dressed potato sack drooled on the floor while I sipped my glass of water, bird gun across my lap.  On the table the promised rest-disc was winking at me with its throbbing lights.  I pressed the button labeled, “take rest” and held it down.  “So this is what it feels like to wake up.”  I said with the wonder of a child.  I felt my eyes relaxing, shoulders falling, breath deepening.  Waking up is like being loved, the body responds with love and the spirit quickens.  The potato sack rolled on its back and the expensive shoes didn’t remember how to get off their sides for a while.  “I really dislike you.”  Said John R. Johnson.
                “Mr. Shoes,” I began, “a few of my more pressing questions have already been answered.  But there are a few more things you will tell me.”  My voice took the edge that men associated with strong women.  “How does this work?”  He didn’t even acknowledge my question.  I aimed the bird gun at his head, the trigger was heavily wound and thereby you could pull it back quite a ways before it actually went off.  I eased the trigger back a bit and watched his face rain with sweat.  “Ask – the Bank.”  He forced it out of his mouth like vomit.  “No one knows but the inventors, I’ve only just been able to start studying them but... so far the only thing I’ve learned is that they are designed to resist curious minds.”  His eyes had the look of someone telling something very close to the truth.  I stood and used the gun’s stock to club his chest.  “Try that again.”  It wasn’t a request.
                He coughed a bit and his lungs took their time getting over the blow.  After his body was over the shock he raised his head and looked at me with terror in his eyes.  “Listen, I don’t know that much about the system.  It absorbs thermal and electric energy in a way natural to the human body.  It’s almost as if these things were tiny people made to swap around our lives... it’s less like a machine than you would think.”  He stunk of fear, eyes were wide and honest, and his breath was paced now.  “Next question.”   He heaved a sigh of relief. “This machine was designed for people who sleep.  They trade times when they are sleeping for times they are awake and vice versa.  If, in theory, there was a person who did not have the ability to sleep would that individual still be able to give rest to the machine as well as take it?  Even to the point where their incapacity was overcome by overwhelming exhaustion?”
                He thought about it.  The clock struck eleven and whatever food had been cooking was long burnt.  I emptied my glass.  “I’m not sure.  The machine would almost certainly be able to take rest from those who can do likewise.  The question is whether or not the person is truly incapable of sleep.  If he simply cannot sleep then the machine would continue to take rest from him until he collapsed.  But he wouldn’t fall asleep, he would just be so exhausted that he might as well be asleep even though his eyes don’t close and he never enters REM.”  This time, I blinked.  “He’s probably right about that.” Chimed in the chipper Dr. Avignon.  “You should just take a bunch of these discs, leave town, and be happy with what rest you have been given.”  “You shouldn’t listen to him!”  My father’s voice, as well as head, flew to my ears.  “Not only did this man do a terrible crime but he tried to kill you!  You should tie him up, go to the police station to figure out where a few of the officers are, and give them some rest discs so they can get this city moving again.”
                I stared at Mr. Potato Johnson.  He studied his expensive shoes.  So many options... but when the clock hit the half-hour I finally said, “Take me to the Bank of Dreams.”
                Perhaps the architect of the Bank had been given strict instructions to keep the building as dignified as possible.  I had expected something other-worldly, science-fiction even.  In the end a bank is still a bank, no matter what currency it holds.  We entered the simple, but elegant, glass doors and his shoes made glorious echoes on the marble floor.  “Which way to the office of the President?”  He pointed to a nearby elevator.  “You’ll need a key card to access that floor.”  He said with laughter behind his voice.  I smiled at him and fingered the barrel of the gun.
                Soon I was at the top floor and the reporter had returned to his potato ways – giving the marble floor on the first level a bath while he remained unconscious.  The President’s office was locked and the card I had didn’t open it.  Fortunately, wood still couldn’t stand up to buck shot.  The door, newly withat a handle, opened to my gentle touch.  There sat the most valuable thing in the whole world, a PC.  Envious, I woke up the sleeping computer and waited for it to get out of bed.  Password protected.  I inspected the office.  There were no pictures of family, no calendars, no books or bookshelves, and all of the drawers in the desk were locked – by different keys.  It was almost like the President intentionally kept his office free of any clues or hints.  I sank back into the only luxury, a plush captain’s chair and suddenly knew where to look.  The chair was constructed so you would normally need to use screwdrivers to pull up the cushion, but the cushion was already loose enough to be moved.  On the underside of the cushion was a factory tag upon which a note in sharpie read, “artificial sleep before my dream.”  Smiling, I entered, “Coffee.”  Success.
                Search-box, C:/Userdoc – search field “rest theory”.  No hits.  “Blueprint”.  No hits.  “My dream” 1 hit.  It was a text document.  I read it like the bloodhound reads the scent of a wounded deer.  The President wanted to take back what the industrial revolution had stolen from the world – our pleasant sleep.  He rambled on with high rhetoric and deep philosophical ideals for a few pages.  Finally, he wrote something of interest.  “After many years of toil and on the verge of insanity through failure and the lack of that which I most sought for...  I found the engineer.  Not just any neo-physicist no, he was truly the smartest man who ever lived.  No puzzle could contain his fervor, no problem withstand his pencil!  Once I told him my dream it also became his, the biggest puzzle since the breaking of the atom.  He had the intelligence, wit, imagination, and energy of the entire Manhattan project rolled into a single man and he solved this enigma in only two years.  His name is Chris Glanco and he now lives as a multi-millionaire in Foxfield, Colorado.  Spending his money on more puzzles to solve and sell.  May he crack a bigger problem yet than the sleep cycle.”
                “Road trip!”  The chorus of disembodied heads swirled around me like a parade as I glowed in the discovery. I was a step closer to meeting the man who could change my life.  “Erik Mantel.”  I tried the name on my tongue and for the first time in my life, I think I had a crush.
To be continued


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Devilish Play

Greetings all.  I'll make sure to get to your comments at another date, as I'm in the throws of much work at the end of the semester.  You should enjoy this play I wrote (and revised, for those who read it before).  It is far from perfect, but it was good enough to get an A.  There's just a lot of potential for more.  Anyway, enjoy.

Characters in order of appearance:
Roger – The main character, a man 58 years of age.  He is wearing a nice but comfortable black outfit, he is of average height.  There are to be no distinguishing attributes about the actor cast for this role.
 Scissortick – An imp, he constantly changes forms throughout the play.  Depending on the circumstances must be played by either gender but the actors must keep in mind to not seem evil.  It is important that all the actors be about the same height.  Main attributes: charismatic, mysterious, friendly, helpful, and innocent.  When he first appears Scissortick looks like a classic imp, short, red, bald head and horns except that he is wearing a pin-striped suit and hat.
Elizabeth – A regular at Roger’s bar she’s 35 and a bit of a flirt.  She’s wearing a lavender blouse, has her hair down (but brought pins and ties) and the longer the actor’s hair the better, and she does not have jewelry on.  Her slacks and shoes must match with the blouse’s color and style, but be sure to choose something that looks nice but is also obviously not high quality.  She’s of average height.
Herald – Another regular at Roger’s bar, he’s 24 and young to be a drunk.  He’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt but make sure he’s taller than the other actors.
Setting: A small but tastefully decorated bar with pictures on the walls, two booths on the stage right and stage left walls near to the front of the stage, 3 tables in the center each with 4 chairs around them, and a U shaped bar with 3 stools on each side of the bar, though the director may alter this setup for ease.  The entrance to the bar comes from the stage-left center and to the left of the bar is the women’s restroom, to the right the men’s.  In the far north-east corner is a jukebox set catty-corner to the center of the room.  Behind the bar are many shelves full of different kinds of liquor, some taps, an ice machine, glasses, towels, and other various things (like advertisement signs) that one normally sees behind the bar. 
Scene – The stage lights are not on, sound of a door opening and the soft patter of footfalls is made.  After a few steps the click of a switch being thrown is heard, but no lights respond.
Roger – Great, the fuse box decided to try and take the day off without even calling in sick.
(He mutters incoherently and the footfalls are louder due to his stomping around.  He bangs into a table and yells in pain.  As Roger tries to open the fuse-box you hear the sound of keys jingling and scraping on metal, after a few moments he succeeds.)
Roger – Now then, none of my employee’s are taking leave today so get back to work! (The lights come on; he walks over to the door, flips the closed sign to open, unlocks it, and goes behind the counter to prepare some of the more popular mixed drinks)
(As soon as he gets behind the counter the door chimes to alert the bartender to a patron.  Scissortick saunters in and stands near to the bar.)
Roger – Hey there (he doesn’t look up at the customer), I just opened up so I don’t have any drinks up yet but you can sit here at the bar and I’ll poor you something straight if you want.
Scissortick – (Try to give him a smooth, city slicker voice) Well, I would thank you for the courtesy, my good man, but I regret to tell you that I really don’t take any pleasure at all from alcohol.
Roger – There’s an ice-cream shop just down the street.
Scissortick – (He smiles with a big grin) You see, I’m here to offer you my services for as long as you need them.
(At this Roger turns to look at him.)
Roger – Now what...  Oh, it’s you.
Scissortick – (He chuckles and puts his hands on his hips) Been a while!
Roger – I’m not exactly thrilled that you came back.  What do you want this time?
Scissortick – Well, I’m not here for myself.  I have come to offer you my must humble services. (He flourishes a bow)
Roger – Uhuh, and you’ll want my soul or something like that in exchange right?
Scissortick – Here’s the deal, I won’t ever ask you for anything.  I won’t ask you for your soul.  The price of my help is completely free, no charge.
Roger – Assuming that I can trust your word, which I don’t, can I also at any time discontinue your services?
Scissortick – When the time comes you’ll understand how to do that.  As for trust, let’s just say that “higher powers” (Hands do quotes for emphasis) will make sure that I don’t go back on my word.
Roger – Alright, fine.  What are you offering?
Scissortick – Well let’s start out with a gift that keeps on giving.  See this cup?  (Scissortick produce a cup from inside his coat and Roger, after a pause, nods)  Well, it’s the legendary never empty wine cup.  But here’s the kick, it’s like a drug.  All your senses will be enhanced in a nice pleasant fashion.
Roger – Oookay... Let’s try it then. (Quaffs, a moment passes - the lights will reflect the effect of the wine by becoming brighter as he speaks for the next few minutes)  Are you sure this works?
Scissortick – Give it a minute to reach full potency, it doesn’t last too long so you don’t have these effects permanently.  Oh, by the way if you need me just say my name, you’re about to get some customers.  You could... you know... share the love.  (Scissortick strolls out the back and whistles the battle hymn of the republic placidly)
Roger – I’ll never understand him.
(Door chimes ring)
Elizabeth – Roger, buddy, I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll stop coming.  That’s not today though; could you whip me up a daiquiri? (She takes a seat at a table, sitting catty-corner to the audience.)
Roger – Anything for you Elizabeth.  (Starts concocting a strawberry daiquiri)  I gotta say you’re looking very bright and winning tonight.
Elizabeth – Funny, I don’t feel bright and winning – (Door chimes again) I’ll take a guess. Is that Herald back there?  (She turns to look, and Roger puts some of the wine into the drink)
Herald – (Genuinely) How’d you know?  Roger... let’s not waste any time give me something off of the top shelf.
Roger – No.
Herald – Oh c’mon!
Roger – No, you can’t hold your liquor.  You can have anything that’s below 20 and that’s it.
Herald – Whatever... (He approaches the table and sits a bit away from Elizabeth)
Roger – Here, try this wine.  Maybe you’ll get a little culture in ya.
Herald – Wine!?                                                   
Roger – That’s right. (He pours from the magic cup into another cup below the counter)
Herald – Alright alright (Drinks), that’s not so bad.
Elizabeth – Hey!  I ordered first!
Roger – Oh yeah, bad move here first one is on the house.
Elizabeth – That’s more like it.  (She begins drinking) Ugh so, I really was going to quit today but then my boyfriend left me for some “feisty minx“ and didn’t even take the courtesy to call and tell me himself. No, instead his new dear love wrote me a letter and slipped is under my door!  As soon as I read it I called his phone, but the line was no longer in service.  Roger (simpering) why does this happen to me?
Roger – It’s life kid.
Elizabeth – Yeah... I guess.  Does this room look brighter to either of you?
Herald – You’re right it does!
Roger – Hey don’t shout!  Great now I did it.
Elizabeth – Roger did you slip something into our drinks?
Roger – Kind of...  That new wine is supposed to have these effects.
Herald – It’s kind of weird but cool. (He starts looking around the room with awe; he gets up and starts feeling the seat cushions)  Even the leather feels more.... leathery!  You know, I want to hear some music with this feeling.
Elizabeth – Yes please!  Make it something smooth...  (He plays “What a wonderful world”)
Roger – Yeah.... Hey I’ll be right back.  (Goes to the hallway of the men’s restroom, the lights in the main room fade and the lights in the hallway brighten)
Scissortick – (When Roger opens the bathroom door Scissortick walks out and closes it behind him.  In his charming imp voice) Really Roger, when are you going to enjoy the gift?
Roger – (Startled, but doesn’t yell) Don’t sneak up on me like that!
Scissortick – I apologize, I just wanted to have a little heart to heart with you.  Don’t you want fresh experiences?
Roger – No not really.  I’m no Doctor Faust, I don’t want carnal experiences, or to know it all, or to be so smart.  I mean, I’ve lived a while now and there just isn’t anything worth it.  I guess you could call me apathetic or pessimistic if you wanted but, life just doesn’t have anything in it that’s actually worth living for.
Scissortick – Nothing at all?  There’s nothing that would help you ‘find the way’ as it were?  I have some gifts of knowledge as well, a thinking cap and a magic 8 ball.
Roger – I don’t have the patience for them, besides I don’t even think I know the right questions to ask.  Where do you start when life doesn’t have any ups or downs?  When there isn’t a keystone or a center piece or a star to revolve around?  (He chokes up)  And then there’s you!  I already thought life was a mystery but you’re just a quirky little unsolvable maze.  How can something like you exist?  Are you just an alien pretending to be an imp and all of this has been some great “experiment”?  Or are you really an evil spirit from hell?  I’m pretty sure I didn’t believe in hell before, and accepting that it’s actually there now will really mess up my paradigm.  (At this point he is white knuckled, and close to crying)  I mean, that’s a definite “down”, if you know what I mean and ain’t nobody who wants to go there.  And another thing!  It’d be just the way this world works if there was a hell but no heaven!  Or, if there was a heaven it stands empty and colder than the black between the stars.  And you thought it was strange that I found work to do or somewhere to be when those two baboons were playing around, I couldn’t stand the implications!  I DON’T KNOW what I prefer, no answers and no hope of them or no answers with elusive threads promising ways out of this labyrinth!  (He pants and looks at the demon with a frenzied glance, so much more is on his heart to say but his passions outran his tongue and he can’t speak)
Scissortick – Well then, I could say, “Oh wow, I never saw it coming that’s a pretty hard nut to crack buddy!”  But I’d be lying about it.  Do you think I just waltzed in here never having seen you before or without knowing what sort of man you were?  That’s not right.  No, I’ve known you your entire life.  When you were 10 you liked bikes more than cars cause you would rather be at the helm than in the back-seat.  When you were 15 you found it strange how the other guys acted around girls your age and it wasn’t till you were 16 that it dawned on you that you were the strange one.  When you were 27, having found your latent passion, you survived your first break-up with a lady named Carmen and you began to think real seriously about the meaning of life and you tried and tried to find the answer to it all.  When you were... are now you finally agree with this strange creature named Scissortick who promises you the world – but you’re not interested.  I am the wine, the ball, the hat, and... this mirror.  (He holds up a hand mirror.  It’s blue and it looks like a normal mirror)
Roger – So that’s your answer!  Another toy!  (He starts to laugh but instead he chokes his tears)
Scissortick – I’m afraid you were the one who wasn’t listening.  I know you, through and through.  You have never had a more faithful companion than me.  Get it?  This mirror is what you really want.
Roger – Oh yeah, and what’s it supposed to do?
Scissortick – It’s a truth window.
Roger – I thought you just called it a mirror, you better explain - I’m in no mood for games.
Scissortick – Yes well, it’s a paradox in a way.  It’s both a mirror AND a window.  Wherever the face is pointing it will reveal on the back side the truth about the scene, or person, or whatever.
Roger – Funny, you say you are the mirror but if it really only tells the truth then how could you wear costumes?
Scissortick – Because all those... skins you could call them are really just another part of me.
Roger – If you say so, I’m used to disappointing answers though so don’t sweat it.  (The demon shrugs)
Scissortick – Why don’t you just try it?  It can’t hurt right?  Go out there and, view the baboons with new eyes.
(Lights dim in the hallway and brighten in the main room)
Elizabeth – Herald I never noticed how strong you look.  I mean, umm... (She blushes)  It’s the wine, definitely the wine.
Herald – I’m sure you’d want it to be... or would you? (He smiles and walks slowly toward Elizabeth)
Elizabeth – (shakily) Now... just stay right over there till this stuff wears off.
Herald – (Sighs) Sure, I wouldn’t want it that way anyhow.  (Elizabeth sighs in relief, they both laugh)  Sorry about your boyfriend.
Elizabeth – It’s alright, but thanks, I guess if he could do that I didn’t want him anyway. (By this time the lights should slowly go back to a normal setting)
Herald – Sure shootin’.  But, at least you had someone.  See me?  It is the wine talking that made you say that cause even though I’m a plumber I don’t look strong enough to appeal.  Never even had a girlfriend (laughs bitterly), it’s all because I couldn’t do well in school.  No matter how hard I tried.
Elizabeth – Herald...  Uhm.  Where’s Roger?
Roger – I’m comin’ I’m comin’.  (He’s holding a pin stripe hat in his right hand, and a magic 8 ball in his left.  A mirror is tucked under his arm)
Elizabeth – There he is!  What is that you’re carrying?
Roger – This (He holds it up) is a hat.
Elizabeth – I can see that, what else?  They wouldn’t happen to be special like the wine now would it?
Roger – Who said the wine was special? (They look at him incredulously)  Ok fine, it was special, happy?  And yes these are too.  The 8 ball is supposed to be able to answer your questions, the hat... well it doesn’t just look smart.
Herald – I like how it looks, lemme put it on.
Roger – Yeah, just call it my thinking cap.
Herald – You mean intellect provocation artifact?  (He looks startled)
Roger – I guess.  I’ve got to get some things from storage; don’t do anything... right well you know.
 Elizabeth – And here I thought the wine was wearing off.
Herald – You are correct, our senses have returned to normal.
Elizabeth - Well I’m not going to waste any time... (She takes the 8-ball)  First let’s start off with basic stuff.  Is my favorite color blue? (Shakes it up vigorously) It says no.
Herald – Is that not the correct answer?  It seems we might have a judicious ball.
Elizabeth – Uhuh, maybe.  Let’s try something harder.  Do I have to only ask yes or no questions?  (She shakes it impulsively)
Herald – It says yes doesn’t it?  (She nods)
Elizabeth – Do I know how to drive stick-shift? (Shake, less emphasis)  It says no, and it’s right again.  I think this might be legit.
Roger – (Panting) Big help you two are, I was calling for you. Didn’t you hear me?
Herald – Negative.
Roger – Yeah, maybe.  Anyway this is a bar so if you are going to hang around you have to drink something.
Elizabeth – Roger that!  Pour us a bunch of shot glasses full of that wine you’ve got.
Roger – Unless you want me to call you Liz don’t use my name as an affirmative missy! (She hisses and Roger looks at her with an amused expression, Herald raises a single eyebrow)
Herald - I have realized that though I do not need to speak with such verbal erudition it brings me great consolation from my previous life.  If it bothers you I can certainly return to the vernacular.
Elizabeth – Please do!  You were starting to live up to your name!  (Roger starts looking at the face of the mirror at objects looks thoughtful and scratches his head at times at what he discovers)
Herald – I’ll see what I can do.  (They both take a shot)  Hey, let me ask a question.  (She hands the ball over to him reluctantly)  Will I ever find my soul-mate?
Elizabeth – Whoa now!  You aren’t messing around are you?  What’s it say?
Herald – It gave a strange response.  (Elizabeth shoots him a withering look)  Right, sorry.  It says, “Ask those with you.”  That’s not a typical response.  Perhaps it means that my soul-mate is in this room...  (He glances wide-eyed at Elizabeth)
Elizabeth – Uhhh... (Afraid and not sure what to say, she takes another shot of the wine)  I don’t know Herald, you are pretty smart with that hat on but that’s not you.
Herald – You’re right, I could never be good enough for you.  (Depressed, he drinks several more shots in quick succession, he is stopped by Elizabeth)
Elizabeth – Take it easy! Roger...  Help!
Roger – Well, I have one more thing that might help.
Elizabeth – What’s that?
Roger – This mirror can help me decide if you two are compatible.
Herald – Use it!  (Elizabeth is uncertain and looks nervously from Herald to Roger, she doesn’t speak but nods slowly)
Roger – Well here goes nothing (He holds the back of the mirror toward Elizabeth. Roger’s face goes through contortions of wonder, concern, anger, sympathy, and finally is left without emotion) 
Elizabeth - You ok there Rick?  (He is speechless)  Did it work?
Roger – Yeah sorry Bethy... that was something else.
Elizabeth – (She snaps at him) Who told you that you could call me that?  (He says nothing)  Sorry, it’s just been ages since anyone called me that, not since Dad...
Herald – Elizabeth...
Elizabeth – Don’t say anything Herald, no matter how smart you are you can’t console a woman sometimes. 
(Both men are stunned as Elizabeth fades and shrinks into her chair, she picks up a shot glass and fiddles with it as memories overwhelm her, the door chimes) 
Roger - We’re closed!                                          
Scissortick – (In the guise of a woman in her 50’s, he’s playing the part of a woman who is desperate for acceptance and even though she can’t pull it off she still wears short-shorts and a tank-top, he speaks in a pouting voice) The sign says you’re open till 2 AM and it’s only midnight!
Roger – Listen lady – (He looks at her closely, and then holds up the mirror, Scissortick ducks into the lady’s room) My my, have we found a silver bullet at last? (Roger follows him to the door)
Scissortick – Easy for you to say!  You haven’t turned the mirror on yourself yet!
Roger – I thought you said you would obey my directions.  Now get out here and let me take a look at you.
Herald – Roger what’s happening? (Roger ignores him)
Scissortick – I’d rather get hit by a lightning bolt.
Roger – Get out here, or I’ll start asking the 8 ball how I should go about exorcising you.  (The door opens slowly and out crawls Scissortick in his original form) I might as well explain to you two that this guy is the reason that we have all these, “gifts”.  Anyhow, I don’t have time to go through all the details cause I’ve about had it with these things.
Scissortick – Roger, didn’t the mirror show you what you’ve always wanted to know?
Roger – It did, but it was not the answer I needed.
Scissortick – Then turn it on yourself and see.
Roger – You first fiend. 
(He turns the mirror on Scissortick and the lights in the room brighten to a blinding level, the director should use all the lighting he has.  Then Roger undergoes violent spasms and soon begins to scream.  At first the scream is weak and then begins to get louder and more haunted, the actor should try to make this scream last as long as they can and that the final last seconds of it should be as chilling as possible, then when Roger has no more breath he will remain frozen in a screaming pose for a few moments before collapsing.  Make the pose he strikes as like the World War II painting, “The Scream” as possible.  When he collapses the lights will go out and come back on slowly as Elizabeth speaks.)
Elizabeth – (Both Herald and Elizabeth get up from their chairs and rush to Roger’s side) Roger!  What have you done to him?
Scissortick – I didn’t do anything.  He was the one who looked at me in the mirror.  Would you go behind the bar, count three shelves to the left, and pick up the first wooden cup you see on that shelf and bring it to me please?  (She hurries to do so)
Herald – How will that help him?
Scissortick – Think of it like jumper cables. (Elizabeth returns with the cup)  Thanks, take a drink you big fool.
Elizabeth – How long will it take to cure him?
Scissortick – An eternity - this won’t cure him.  But it will bring his mind back.
Herald – He can’t take it back can he, no one can.  He’s seen hell through your eyes.
Scissortick – More like he was with me the whole time.  (Scissortick seems contemplative and sad; the other two are completely thunderstruck and seem to be having a paradigm shift, Elizabeth begins to hold her head and moan while Herald paces feverishly – during Scissortick’s speech Elizabeth begins to sob.)
Scissortick – You’d think you would get used to it you know.  I mean, a couple thousand years can make someone get used to anything.  But you don’t.  You see, it’s like you’re always losing yourself to the edge of some voiding sword and it always threatens to bleed your soul on the floor but it never does, no matter how many times it hits you.  At first you rail against it and scream, like he did, but we devils don’t need air to scream so we can do it forever if we wanted.  But after an eon or so you begin to cheer for the sword, it comes in for another hit and you say, “Atta boy!  You swing just a bit harder and you can really cut me this time.”  And that’s when you realize that all those sword swings were really just getting you to want the sword to win... and it starts swinging in at you in new ways that send your soul through levels of torment you couldn’t fathom. And then, you scream. (He chuckles grimly)  But don’t mind me, I’m just an old devil what do I know?
Herald – The same thing Roger knows. (Roger begins to stir and moan)
Elizabeth – Roger, buddy c’mon you can get up.
Roger – (His eyes like fury, and voice that would break the world if it could) Never!
Herald – Roger... you’re still alive and now that you’ve seen hell you’ve got to find a way to get away from it.
Roger – (The strength suddenly gone, he slides into despair) It wouldn’t stop the sword from cutting.  It’s the same sword that is always cutting everybody - we just don’t feel it as much on this side.
Scissortick – Well, you humans don’t anyway.
Roger – (Like an afterthought) Do you really hate us so much?  Giving us gifts that could lead us here...
Scissortick – Yes, I do. You’re the reason I go through this hell of mine, and not to beat a dead Russian horse or leave you clutching straws but – misery loves company.
Roger – Give me the mirror Scissortick.
Scissortick – You say my name!  (He hands him the mirror, Roger takes a looks at himself in it for a moment, laughs bitterly, and smashes it.  As soon as he breaks the mirror Scissortick cries in pain, gets on his belly and crawls like a snake out of the door.  The door chime rings.)
Elizabeth – There goes that freak.
Roger – There goes that tortured spirit.
Herald – And where are you going now?
Roger – I’m going to grab a bottle of scotch, my coat and my car and drive to the nearest cliff.  You can come with me if you want.
Elizabeth – Roger!
Roger – You didn’t see it, that’s all I have to say about that.
Herald – No I didn’t (He takes off the hat).  But I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t get you somewhere safe and try to find a way out.  (He grabs the 8 ball)  Is there a way to escape hell? (He drops the ball, and it lands on Roger’s stomach)  Well Roger?
Roger – It says maybe.
Elizabeth – Well, it’s not “no”.  After what you’ve seen and all this magic and mystery...  You can’t deny that there is hope to go somewhere where there is no sword anymore.
Herald – Yeah, what that thing meant to mess your head up could help you find the way...  Did you see something else?
Roger – Only for a moment (His voice more peaceful now).  A white place, full of music and a sense of being hugged...
Elizabeth – C’mon Rick (Soft and tender voice), let’s try and get to that place.  Maybe there’s a bar up in heaven for you to run.  So people can be... full of the spirit.  (She grins)  Maybe you won’t have to search for long, after all it’s already Sunday morning.

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If you don't already know me, you don't need to know. If you know me then you already know. You will find only my thoughts in this blog, hopefully you will also think.