Art & Literature

Frazee Fine Arts

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CAME INTO BEING

 

A Play in One Act

 

by Teresa Ann Frazee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 © 2017 by Teresa Ann Frazee

 260 High Point Court A

 Boynton Beach, FL 33435

(561) 732-3118

teresafrazee@yahoo.com

 

i

 

CHARACTERS

 

 

ARTIST                                          Woman dressed as an artist with paint on her apron.

                                                        Creator, Mother

 

 

PAINTING                                    Painting on easel. Young woman's voice. Inquisitive, innocent but wise.

                                                        

 

 

NEXT  PAINTING                       Another unfinished painting against wall .  Anxious,  stuttering young  

                                                       male voice.

 

TWO  DELIVERY   PEOPLE      Two delivery people dressed in all white, head to toe, including face and

                                                        hands.

                                                       

                                             

 

                                                             

                                                      

                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ii

 

SETTING

 

 

Fully lit artist studio. Paint jars and tubes, big wooden palette and paint brushes on table. Cover over barely finished painting  approx. 48"x72", on an easel about a 45 degree angle, half turned to audience, only seeing back of painting and easel at angle.  A few unfinished primed white canvases approx. 48"x72" same size as painting on easel are piled on top of each other against wall. Artist Stage Left. Painting Stage Right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME

 

 

Present.                                                                     Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iii

 

SCENE

 

Artist walks into studio. Removes cover from painting on easel. Begins to prepare to paint by pouring and mixing colors of paint on wooden palette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                 Page 1

                                                                                ACT I

 

SCENE 1

 

                                                               (ARTIST walks in well lit studio, uncovers painting on easel

                                                                while painting begins to speak.)

 

 

  PAINTING

                                                               (Anxious, young woman's raised voice)

 

 

Mother, is that you?                                           

                                                                               ARTIST

 

                                                                 (Stands and speaks directly to painting as she mixes paint)

 

Sh!  I am here, don't wake the others.   You must be aware I have other paintings to complete.

 

 

                                                                                PAINTING

 

I presumed I was the only one.

 

ARTIST

 

Don't they all.   

 

                                                                                PAINTING                        

 

Why do you suppose that is?

 

ARTIST

 

Several canvases ago, I had a similar conversation. The fact is, it is perfectly normal at this stage of your development, the ego is being honed and has begun to take hold.

 

                                                                               PAINTING

 

Ego?

 

                                                                               ARTIST

 

This is wonderful that you are so inquisitive, only the closed minded are content with boundaries. But all in good time.

                                                                                                                                  

                                                                               PAINTING                        Page 2

 

 

Well, may I ask what you attribute these thoughts to?

Last night I existed in the stirred sleep of vaporous dreams. In secret triumph I moved my illustrated bones.  My toes touched the ground and with each hushed breath, felt in the heart the wonder of nature and liberation streaming through. I sat beneath a flowering tree on the grounds of my home and it seemed its topaz leaves held their alignment with perfection.  In the haze of the sun the horizon vanished where wisps of light had spun. Then my twitching eye lids were prompted open once more by the flooding white-fiery rush of daybreak.

 

                                                                             ARTIST

 

Oh my dear, I'm certain it wasn't a dream. You can only dream of what you  experience in life. Those are pensive breeding thoughts of what is to be. It most likely was a premonition hatched in the sheltering cradle of consciousness.  In a world of nothing all day, imagining these things to come is quite common during your final trimester.

 

                                                                          

                                                                             PAINTING

 

Well my creator, you know your own sleeping child, such as I am. (BEAT)

Existing in the square footage of a well balanced composition. A half- finished soul, still and vague, hungers for all that is real. Prone on a field of color, daily I reverently pray for your aesthetic touch upon the canvas. Oh to kiss that vital hand which masters my fate.

 

                                                                              ARTIST

 

I am aware you are most anxious to be born. In the trapped speech of sleep, I can hear your midnight, hybrid howl beckoning me to pick up the pace, to speedily relinquish the task of design by networking muscles and arteries. I watch over you as your slumped vertebrae lost in layers of neutrals stretch with a groan. Your torso squirms for release, wanting to take residence in the world and resurrect your own space.

 

                                                                          PAINTING

 

So intimately acquainted with your scent, I  know you watch over me. Like confetti, those warm fragmented sensations litter the haze of space where time stands still. I'm  living on your will and the sense of what is real is put to the test. (BEAT)

Beneath opaque depths of red, bleeds a strange inaudible heart. My undried eyes glazed over, are dimmed of expression. Can sense pooling liquids of pigment fill sunken fissures of bone.  A garland with the hues of a prism, coil slithering around my pulsating throat. Your interpreting brush creates a filigree of cobalt veins. A slow steady procession  consolidates black into white as shades of antique gold ripple as they nuzzle under my feet.  And in a  vortex of seamless opalescent mediums an endangered flow of raw umber struggles to survive.

 

                                                                    

                                                                        ARTIST                                           Page 3

 

In every way it is a challenging task. Step by step, I am granting life by degrees.

 

 

                                                                       PAINTING

 

There is no use speculating on this subject. I dare not even suspect what it is you do. I ask merely for information.  To fully understand the creative process in which I am a vital part.

 

                                                                      ARTIST

 

Well to speak with perfect candor; passion, a kind of madness lies ever waiting in my mind. Into the light of disassembled time, I'm guided, vowing never to abandon the search for inspiration. Imagination is sanity's scapegoat. Reality bows to illusion as visions whirl in an odyssey suspended in the spotlight of spontaneity. With masterful incite, form and shadow are introduced upon an optic stage, in my illusory view.  Like a mirage in heat, they let go, free from their bond with reality. In this creative trance, weariness is not relevant, my prolific hands persist. Doubt is non-existent, fear's left groping in the darkness and hides at the door. The laws of passion govern.  Prussian blue soars bound by luminous strokes of Titanium white that spills on canvas of reinvented space. I am summoned by compulsive artistic potency and my duty is to purity but I too must answer to a higher power.

 

                                                                     PAINTING

 

Yes, I understand now. The more I think about this the more meaning I can see in it.  It appears to me that you take very seriously your skillful role of utilizing the intuitive properties of art. You have gained  a keen visual language which gives your work significance. Enmeshed with tremendous energies within you, they are released with extreme minute detail and used productively.  Humanity is your primary motif. It would be incorrect to access your work on the basis of one contribution to mankind alone. It is important to look across several generations at your body of work as a whole. Art and humanity  are an intense form of individualism. Therein lies their immense value.

 

                                                                     ARTIST

 

                                              (Picks up brushes and wooden palette,  begins to paint on canvas as she speaks

                                               to painting)

 

Ah, yes you are wise! I am a maverick spirit who lives in the reflection of my very own reality. The go-between of society and the divine. Lured by a cerebral brand of immortality. A lightning pulse answers the how, the when, the why. There you are my child, the innermost recesses of my soul are revealed.

 

                                                                    PAINTING

 

 You said I am wise.

 

                                                                     ARTIST                                            Page 4

 

 

Quite so, I have no doubt.

 

                                                              

                                                                    PAINTING

 

Am I perfect?

 

                                                           

                                                                    ARTIST                                           

 

Oh, I should say not.  That would not leave room for you to grow and develop into a fine human being.

 

 

                                                                  PAINTING

 

I was just testing the fact that I now understand what  Ego means and  believe I was trying to be comical. As you well know, I have had very little experience with this myself, until the present.

 

 

                                                                ARTIST

 

Good heavens! I see you have developed a sense of humor as well.

 

                                                          

                                                               PAINTING

 

May I ask, do I resemble you?

 

                                                               ARTIST

 

In all that exists, none has your face. fingerprint or soul. My gift is not mimicry but producing individually, as we discussed.. If I did anything of the kind, I would cease to be an artist.

 

 

                                                            PAINTING

 

Am I to be born to look this way?

 

                                                            ARTIST

 

Oh no, of course not, this will be you, 35 years or so into your life. You will grow into your own beauty and grace.

                                                        

                                                            PAINTING                                           Page 5

 

Well, how long do the oil paints take to dry?

 

 

                                                           ARTIST

 

You see my child, they never really dry. You will adapt as you age and change, so shall the oils.

 

 

                                                            PAINTING                                                         

 

May I ask, how long have you been creating as an artist?

 

                                                            ARTIST

 

Over the sliding sands of the long journey backwards a primordial mist circles its destiny of extinguished days. Timeless brushes paint drenched with pigments of berries, sand, ochres, manganese and flakes of charcoal that ooze through primed canvas. There have been humans created over and over by my own hand.

 

                                                           PAINTING

 

You said there are others here.  Where are the others?

 

                                                           ARTIST

 

Yes, that is so. The others are here among us in the studio. They are works in progress, existing in the split-light of suspended sleep in unknown time.

                                          

 Right there, on those primed canvases.         (Artist  points to other unfinished paintings  piled

                                                                         against the wall.) 

 

Restlessness takes possession and their rigid loitering limbs try to bend but they are so unfinished both visible and unseen like embryonic ghosts fastened to the wall. Half painted images that lie in  incubation, rousing to be materialized. Much like a strewn puzzle with missing pieces, their images strain to survive hour by hour. Teased by their olfactory nerves, fresh paint's pungent mixture renders instant awareness that perhaps they will soon awaken from their drowsy career of sleep. Draped in anticipation, a swirling spectrum of colors stream downward dripping into sockets of cloudy, barely reregistering eyes. In an oily gush of fertility, they share a single vision. You know, if you listen very closely you may hear, so faint their pleas translated into whispers.

                                          

                                                           ( Artist stops painting for a second, jesters to unfinished paintings

                                                            against wall, tries to listen.)

 

They snuggle against their semi-recumbent postures before the canvas cradles their weight and they are absorbed .

                                                                                                                       Page 6

 

                                                         PAINTING

 

 Do you love me ? I know this is my Ego asking but what I really mean is do you love me the most?

 

                                                        

                                                         ARTIST

 

Passionately!  I love all my creations equally. I am a part of you, we are endlessly entwined.  Of course I love you all differently. Avoiding all contests and comparisons, no one receives preferential treatment but honestly, my favorite is always the undeveloped painting before me.

 

                                                     

                                                          PAINTING

 

How do you know when you are finished painting and we have been completed?

 

 

                                                         ARTIST

 

With  aesthetic sensibilities and accuracy of deductive reasoning put into practice, I know. Past curfews of unconventional hours editing Muses, those constant sources of inspiration, critique and assist by cropping precise dimensions from spilling over space. Nowhere in the transgression stages of a painting is most problematic than the final brushstroke.  I don't mind admitting it stirs my emotions because it indicates you, my painting must leave.  (BEAT)

Then like a flame in the dark when the sparks and lightning mingle, the jolt of life ignites .

 

                                                         

                                                        PAINTING

 

 

Do we all leave this place upon completion?

 

 

                                                      ARTIST

 

I regret to say, unfortunately I am not perfect as well and contrary to my efforts sometimes my skills fail me. Incapability to bring creation to its term of completion is the greatest misery to an artist. I rather not dwell into such matters as it brings me deep sorrow.

 

                                                     PAINTING

 

I'm sorry mother, I didn't mean to upset you.

 

                                                 

                                                    ARTIST                                                 Page 7

                                        ( Smiling happily, wiping tears of joy)

  

No, no, you have made me so proud. You have learned compassion, my child.

 

 

                                                  PAINTING

 

Will I  and the others remember you after we leave this place?

 

                                             

                                                  ARTIST

 

I am not supposed to but I confess, I tuck a vague memory into the fold of your hearts not meant to last.

That is why babies cry when they are born. They long for me and are homesick but it soon fades as they mature. Released from my touch, the conscious memory of me will pass or drop drastically behind. And although you will not remember, you will also never really forget as excavated moments struggle, liberated from ones buried debris of consciousness. In a backward glance the present will cease like a giant star into dark collapse. Eventually, I will be a smoldering flame in the salvage of forgotten memories.

 

 

                                                 PAINTING

 

Where I'm going, what do I need to know ?

 

                                              

                                                ARTIST

 

You're the first one to ask the question quite that way, this shows a great deal of  promise. (BEAT)

I will not lie to you.  I give you fair warning, the cost, benefit ratio of the maturing process is complex with a labyrinth of landmarks and passages through life's stages. Losses and gains are an inevitable and necessary part of life. You will have a deeper perspective and maturity as you develop into a full functional human being. The possibilities are rooted in the wilderness of your mind. Words can never be a substitute for experiences in the episodes of life. Some things are serious, some beautifully evocative that will make you grow silent with awe, some intriguing, puzzling and strange. There will be happiness and grief.  At times you may find the truth often too harsh and ask yourself whether delusion isn't more consoling. We can open the door but you must enter alone. There is no remedy  prescribed for non-negotiable mortality, so make every second come alive. Believe me, there is no map or straight road linked to adulthood, it's left to natures mysterious plans of fate. Hopefully your path is long, momentous and the way, exhilarating. I can only offer advise. And in spite of the knowledge, safeguards and policies I am relaying to you, true plans are ultimately fruitless. But do remember this, being awake and alive under the skin gives the most exalted sensation. Celebrate being one with the universe. The point I wish to emphasize is see through eyes not grown stale from routine. These points will serve you well with incalculable value. But I need not dwell on the point and tell you any sooner than necessary.

 

                                              

 

                                                 PAINTING                                                  Page 8

 

With all that in mind, still there's a genuine concern about being alone.

 

                                                ARTIST                                                                    

Think of this, it is necessary to go soon and hoarding worry is a wasteful investment. Do not fear, I will always be with you.  And establishing without question, you will be loved by many people in your life.  Besides, a sister awaits you. You'll see, it will be alright, only those who have experienced love and family will understand. You will not stumble adrift toward anonymity.  These last few brushstrokes have broadened your mental capacity to reason .  Many curious questions will arise which can only be answered by time.

 

                                              

                                                PAINTING

 

So very often I've explored  such matters with maladjusted sight,  through an enabling shroud of confusion  and fear giving reality an identity crisis but now understanding reigns over the darkness.  I have a heightened realization of self.  But could you tell me please, what name shall I go by?

 

                                              ARTIST

 

Those who choose to raise you, will supply you with a fitting name.

 

                                              PAINTING

 

Will I ever see you again?

 

                                              ARTIST

 

Quite honestly, it's up to you. If  all goes well,  probably not for a long time. You'll make your pilgrimage  home again, rooted in a perpetual place.

 

                                                  (Artist makes final brushstroke on painting)

 

There, my supreme purpose is complete. I do not want to overwork you. The seal's set and reserved for natures design. By dusk your world will have spun  to it's rightful place. It is time! (PAUSE)

Goodbye my child.

 

                                             PAINTING

  Goodbye Mother.

                                                 

                                                    (Two delivery people enter studio, remove painting from easel and exit

                                                    studio carrying painting.   

                                                    Artist looking sad, follows shortly, exiting the studio off stage. (PAUSE)

 

                                          

                                                                                                                                         Page 9

 

                                                NEXT PAINTING

 

                                             (Nervously stuttering young male voice from pile of other

                                               painting against the wall)

                                                                           

 

Mother, Mother are you there?

 

                                                

 

                                                     ARTIST  (Artists voice from off stage)

 

I'm coming my child, please be patient.

 

 

 

                                                 (FADE TO BLACK)


 

 

 

                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

 

NOBODY ASKED YOU



A Play in One Act

 

by Teresa Ann Frazee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2017 by Teresa Ann Frazee

260 A High Point Court

Boynton Beach, Florida 33435

(561) 732-3118

teresafrazee@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

i

 

 

CHARACTERS

 

Jesse Young                             Intelligent, manipulative and charming, 19 year old serial killer. Dressed

                                                 with baseball cap, jeans, lightweight jacket and sneakers, usual

                                                 youthful garb, carrying a newspaper.

                               

 

Father Brendan                        25 year old Roman Catholic priest, black attire with white collar,

                                                 holding a brown bag containing old bread to feed the birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOBODY ASKED YOU by Teresa Ann Frazee

 

 

 

 

ii

 

 

SETTING

 

A lone park bench, sitting at approximately, 45 degree angle facing Downstage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME

 

Morning. Present.

Morning . Next day.

Morning. Three months later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOBODY ASKED YOU by Teresa Ann Frazee

 

 

 

 

iii

 

SCENES

 

ACT1

 

 

 

Scene 1                                      A park bench in local park.                       Morning, Present

Scene 2                                      Same park bench                                       Morning, Next day

Scene 3                                      Same park bench                                       Morning, Three months later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOBODY ASKED YOU by Teresa Ann Frazee

 

                                                                        ACT                                                                               Page  1                                  

 

               SCENE 1

                                                                 

                                                                       (Sound of birds chirping. On a park bench Father Brendan sits

                                                                        Downstage feeding the birds from a crumpled brown paper bag,

                                                                        he throw small pieces of old bread towards the ground.  After a  

                                                                        moment Jesse Young enters (Stage Left) sits on far end of the

                                                                        bench. Father Brendan doesn't look up and continues to feed

                                                                        birds. Jesse does not acknowledge the priest as well and begins

                                                                        to read his newspaper)

 

                                                                       (After a few seconds, Jesse abruptly puts the newspaper

                                                                        down on his lap, looks directly at Father Brendan, with an

                                                                        upset tone in his voice.) (Birds stop chirping.)

                                                                  

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (Jesse shaking his head )

 

You can't pick up the newspaper these days without reading about such horrific occurrences. It's just awful. Downright awful.  (BEAT)               

Didn't mean to bother you with my sudden outburst Father but these atrocities, especially cold blooded murder, sicken me. I often wonder, wouldn't it be great to have the power to stop some of this madness?

 

      FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Continues feeding birds without looking at Jesse)

 

Oh yes, I wholeheartedly agree my son. It is simply dreadful, the evil things you hear about, it's enough to keep one up at night.  That is why I avoid reading the newspaper.  I feel pity for those poor souls whose lives are lured away by the darkness. I can only pray they will soon bathe in the undiluted light of the divine, liberated from their restless savage state and be guided home.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

         (Looking at Father Brendan as he speaks)

 

How lucky you are. What must it be like to always be anticipating miracles? To be blessed with the grace of the boundless landscape of heaven. Unleashing innocent daydreams that float freely, not bound by compromising views, incubated in the marrow of illusion, where the truth is as good as a lie. Oh, I envy you. Yet, there's a part of me that can't help but feel, your belief system seems more designed to familiarize the rest of us with the guise of hope, fear and sentiment to which the fooled are always such slaves.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                            Page 2

 

                                                            (Stops feeding the birds and looks at Jesse as he speaks)

 

Excuse me? Why do you say that?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Oh now don't get me wrong Father, I'm absolutely respectful of religion. Oh yeah, I 'm a steadfast believer. Now more than ever. True, I'll admit, I'm no longer confined by doctrine's prescribed cardboard virtues or tricked by ingrain rituals, misled by superstition. I'm just saying, without a doubt, happiness is over-rated in a house of make believe, where the unconditionally content call home. I'm not imprisoned in the shadow cast by the weight of promise, skirting around the unforeseen tripwire of obedience and forgiveness, where fantasy negotiates with real life.

 

        FATHER BRENDON

 

It seems your insensibility twists faith to suit your theories. I am afraid your ideals, you seem so convinced of, have replaced your reasoning.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

I can say the same for you Father.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Shaking his head)

 

What? Unreason is not just morally wrong but a dangerous plunge into the abyss, threatening our most sacred beliefs. (BEAT)

So I really don't see much substance in what you are saying.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

All I'm saying Father, is your deaf  and blind to what's going on in the world, even right here in front of you. It appears your fundamental delusion is to suppose these poor souls don't really exist. Your drowsy career of rest is the enemy of God's will and yet you cling to it as if it were the anchor of all your goodness. Do you get my point?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (In defense of himself)

 

I can sense your animosity, contempt, your indignation. Now then, I can assure you, I'm a reverent beneficiary, schooled in the belief system of my father and his father before him.  Bonded by blood, I'm a  good Christian, I do the best I can----

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                        JESSE                                                                               Page 3   

 

                                                             (Interrupts sarcastically)

 

No, no, Father, I didn't mean to suggest you were just marking time. I'm sure you must serve a purpose.

Especially, for those who are patrons of hypocrisy, trading living for existence, seeking guidance for the path that clearly lies before their feet. For the wide-eyed who dutifully mumble quotes from a bound tome of verses, filling their heads with lies, allowing ignorance and fanaticism to collaborate. Like unmanipulated puppets buried under the rubble of delusion, they wait  for the opportunity to know the inner workings of the heavens as smoke from the smoldering edges of blind faith lead them on to obscurity. In perfect circles they stagger, for only those who know little, master confusion. And after many an unfilled promise, dies the lost spirit of innocence.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Twists around to Jesse)

                                                            (Concerned)

 

 

My son, you sound as if you have lost your faith.  Please, let me help you.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (Breaking into laughter)

 

Are you trying to recruit me? Oh no Father, you don't get it. My life is charged with the grandeur of God's spirit. To say otherwise is to demean my reinforced faith. The fragrant breathe of saints descends upon me. From a bed possessed, I've awoken from my purgatorial sleep. A liberating light drew me back to my senses with banishment of angst and decreased acrimony. Proclaiming truth, without mistaking it for how I've been conditioned truth to be. Like a flaming Baptism I'm cleansed to the bone.  My conscious doesn't plague me, it is totally clear. All worries are now extinguished having an interconnection with the vastness of the universe, encroaching toward a personal epiphany. The seal's set and reserved for nature's design.

 

                                                            (They look at each other)

 

  I sense your confusion, Father. Ah, maybe some things are left to a man and his God.

 

                                                            (Pauses for  a moment)

 

                                                                        JESSE  (Continues)

 

You know, I just love the ocean . So serenely violent. Swimming beneath the crystal waves where illusion knows no bounds. There in the uncertain space between breaths, deep under a watery blanket then rising above the foaming surf, where waves turn into wet shapes then give in to nothingness.

                                                                                JESSE (Continues)                                                   Page  4

 

                                                            (Jesse closes his eyes and reminisces)

 

Through a luminous mist, I can see the clear light of reason hanging in the salty air. (Opens his eyes)

What about you ? Do you like the ocean? Do you like to swim Father?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Calmly starts feeding birds again)

 

Well, that is a strange question but as a matter of fact, I do love the ocean even though I am not at all a good swimmer.  When I was in seminary school, frequently I would walk along the shoreline looking out at the water seeking solace and contemplate.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Contemplate?  About what?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Oh many things, mostly if the priesthood was for me. I mean, was I suited, well, worthy enough for the church.  Praying for answers, I would listen for a sign with the most articulate ear. One day, at the ocean, God sent me a sign. I was certain that I was to do good, to help those in need. But that was about five years back, it's like trampling upon the frozen weeds of consciousness. It was long ago in an uncertain time. It's difficult to be reminded once again of the weight of what was. The past is left on destiny's road down winding paths washed in the under light. Wandering off memories silently nest in fine granules of dust before they fade in a backward glance. Funny though, how we remember those important moments time graciously allows.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                            (Looking at the space in front of him)

 

Hmm! That was quite a confession Father. Wonder what the sign was you received five years ago.  I see you nursed your anxieties at the ocean and you didn't buckle under the pressure. Your answer did come. You obviously became a priest, your true calling. When one cycle comes to an end, gathering momentum, one premiers.  There's no controlling natures blueprint.  (BEAT)

You know Father, we're a lot alike, me and you, yes siree. We are both like dandelions gone to seed, dutiful to our mission. See,  I too had something happen to me five years ago, something vastly profound. (BEAT)

In the uncompromising darkness of my mind where compulsions met, contemplation freely roamed boundless depths while innocence strained its neck from a rusted chain. Desperately I clutched debilitated recycled emotions, having been sequestered in my own manic isolation. Suddenly from God's high command eternal laws aligned. Beneath an ineffable light that bore an ancient heat, I was reborn by the Lords own hand. In the odyssey of a transforming day, I resisted no more letting His ordinance take me. Serendipity realized its moment.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                   Page 5

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                             (Tenderly)

 

You appear as if you have fulfilled a sacred duty. I couldn't be happier for you, I----

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                            (Interrupts Father Brendan.  Preoccupied, Jesse, with newspaper,

                                                              moves about, trying to swat a fly buzzing around his head .)

 

You got that right. Hold your thought Father --- Now leave me in peace you filthy fly. I've had enough of you and your kind. Get away from me, I swear, I'll splatter you!  Die, you -son -of-----.

 

                                                             (Fly lands on bench between Father Brendan and himself and

                                                              Jesse swats and kills it. He takes a deep breath  and looks totally 

                                                              content now)

 

There-- got him.  (BEAT)  Did you know flies tend to fly in a straight line then make a rapid change in direction before continuing on a totally different path. They head off in a brand new direction. They're such tenacious creatures, capable of flying as far as 20 miles in search of something rotten.

He only had about 15 days to live anyway, so who cares.

 

                                                            (Jesse laughs scornfully)

 

Well, not anymore since meeting the business end of my newspaper.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDON

 

                                                            (Shakes his head in disagreement)

 

 The things you say my son.  Don't you realize that every life is so very precious?

 

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Now you see Father, that's where we differ. You mistook me for someone with a kinder heart than mine.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Confused)

 

I beg your pardon?

 

 

                         

                                                                        JESSE                                                             Page 6

 

                                                             (Between his teeth)

 

I bet you do.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDON

 

                                                             (Not understanding)

 

 

Look here, you are making me quite uneasy.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

And so you should be Father.

 

                                                                         FATHER BRENDON

 

                                                             (Reflects for a moment then bursts out suddenly)

 

Who are you?

 

                                                                        JESEE

 

You'll find I am no stranger. But ah, come on, you've already guessed who I am.  I realize even if I confessed my secret, you can't reveal it. The authorities are not your concern. It's the law of God and the sacramental seal. I can come clean with just about anything you would find abhorrent and you must hold that information in a continuous weeping wound, piercing a fold of your heart, as unbearable as it may be, in all the days you are left to fill. And there lies the test of your strength.

 

                                                             (They face each other)

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                             (Desperately)

 

 Please, tell me, who on earth are you?

                                                                               

 

 

 

 

                                                                        JESSE                                                                           Page 7                                                                  

 

                                                             (Stomps his foot, bursts out angrily)

 

Isn't patience one of the virtues you're supposed to possess? (BEAT)

I'm your truant trophy, a curiosity like a rare specimen impaled on a pin. Permanently labeled they say by corruption. In the theater of deception, I'm pre-condemned and sentenced by a peerless jury before they have even taken a seat. Since you don't read the papers, I'll fill you in. I'm the one responsible for all those heinous, so called evil things that would  keep you up at night. The one you go about feeling pity for. Save your pity, Father,  I too had a calling that day at the beach. I was such a good Christian, praying for guidance on the shore for two hours but felt even the angels had left their post. So impatient for eternity, I wanted to wipe myself out of existence, to disqualify myself from the living,  be unborn., to leave this prison of a world. To be extinguished by a numbing aqueous kiss and swallowed with gluttonous vigor, feeling the enveloping silence cradling my limp, sodden posture. Obliterated, treading where nothing ever returns. To expire, lie pooling drifting in crumpled sleep, so tranquil and stirless in my degraded form. An over-diluted occupant of solitude turgidly floating into a gurgling hell where the doomed thrive. Finally, I wanted to be defeated, a garland of bubbles would coil, slithering around my pulsating throat. With my last gasp of breath, seemingly in slow motion, I'd whirl, wriggling as fear would bleed into the burying, covetous waters. The ocean, indifferent, does not distinguish between a good life once lived or trash. I was more than willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, for the sake of humanity, knowing the killing would start soon.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                             (Frightened, he interrupts )

 

What? The killing?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (Aggressively)

 

Yeah, you heard right. Don't play that selective hearing game with me. Let me finish!

Unlike you Father, I'm an excellent swimmer, I practically saved you. I wasn't accidentally drowning, nobody asked you for help, I was trying to commit suicide, to put an end to my madness. Did the rocks in my pockets make any sense to you?  You never even noticed., you were too busy feeding your ego. Finally, the Lord did send me a sign, you and your infinite wisdom saved me.

 

                                                             (Sarcastically)

 

Bravo, my hero! I don't know whether to thank you or curse you.  Every time I kill, I think of you, my savior. See now Father what you could have stopped? You see what happens when you can't tell good from evil? (BEAT)  Then and there God and  I came to an understanding. I am to do His will. I was created in his image. I'm only providing the same service He does. For all the vulnerable mortals, a handsome price they must pay. He takes a life when the numbers add up to His murderous math. (BEAT)  Remember me Father Brendan, the 14 year old boy you assumed was drowning? I'm your sign. I'm Jesse--Jesse Young.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                                  Page 8                                 

 

                                                             (Astonished))

 

Oh my heavens, Jesse! This is inconceivable!  Are you serious?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

You don't see me laughing, do you?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                  

 

 

Sacrilege!  Are you suggesting God is a murderer?

 

                                                                         JESSE

 

Well Father Brendan, look at the evidence.  He lifts no finger to save us, in fact He insists, His children  die, everyday, every hour, every minute and not of their own free will. You must see in this the master work of a mortiferous hand of some higher power.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                      

 

                                                            (Looks directly at Jesse and shakes his head)

 

 

I had no idea,  Jesse.-- you seem so different, you've changed.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

It has been five years. Yes, I've changed. More than you know.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

 What do you mean by coming here this morning? Tell me Jesse, why are you here?

 

                                                                         

                                                                         JESSE

 

                                                            (Looks at Father Brendan than rises, leaves his newspaper

                                                            on bench and walks Downstage)

                                                            (Sternly)

 

Because your interference has led us here.

 

 

                                                                        JESSE (Continues)                                                          Page 9

                                                     

                                                            (Walks back to bench and sits down again, then after a pause)

 

 

So tell me, do you miss your old room mate? You know, your seminary school friend?

 

                                                                       

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                           

 

                                                            (Confused)

 

 Father Vincent, yes. I just saw him a day or so ago.  How do you know him?  Wait, what do you mean miss?

 

                                                                        JESSE

                                                               

I know him alright, besides, you mean the late Father Vincent.

 

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN             

 

                                                            (Horrified, with sudden realization)

 

Oh no! What have you done? You didn't, please tell me you didn't!

 

                                                                         JESSE

 

                                                            (He shrugs his shoulders)

 

No can do, Father. Had to.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

This is devastating! Why him?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (Angrily)

 

Because, I don't have any friends Father. So why should you? I simply won't allow it. (BEAT) Now, we just have each other.

 

                                                                           

 

 

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                                     Page 10

 

                                                            (Father Brendan  looks up to the sky)

 

Oh God! A feeling of dread has taken residence in my soul.

 

                                                             ( Pauses and says despairingly)

 

 How did it happen?

 

                                                                        JESSE                                                         

 

Oh, the usual way. Since you don't read the paper----I broke in his room yesterday, when everyone in the rectory was either away or asleep and I strangled him with my trusty piano wire. They'll find him in the bathtub. You know how I love the ocean. Nice touch don't you think?

 

                                                         

                                                                        FATHER  BRENDAN            

 

Stop it! I don't want to know the details. Besides, how do I know you're not lying just to torture me?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

I never lie. And, you will listen. Before the sun sets, I will snatch the shroud from your eyes. 

Now then, unlike yourself, surely it isn't egotism, I'm not one who embraces idolatry. This isn't self applause but merely a factual record by my own account and nothing more. I do every single deed as if I would never do anything else again. But Father Vincent is my finest work, my true glory, the one that warrants noting, especially to you .

 

 

                                                            (Jesse looks at Father Brendan as the Father makes the sign of the             

                                                            cross then moves his lips in prayer and Jesse says to himself aloud)

 

 

And they say, oh, I -- I'm the lunatic when I talk to myself yet when you do it they call it praying, go figure.

 

                                                      

                                                            (Father Brendan stops praying)    

 

                                                                        JESSE (Continues)                              

 

You've got me all wrong. Oh don't think I'm going to create a raucous scene. I didn't come here to harm you Father. No, no, no quite the contrary, after all, your the one thing that made my life worth living.

 

                                                                        

                                                                        FATHER BRENDON                                                Page 11                                   

 

Are you mad?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

I think not. You'd like to think so, wouldn't you? Then you'd be absolved. (BEAT) Have you concluded who between us is the wrong doer?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

I'm not the one who has done anything wrong, Jesse. You have committed grave sin. You must turn yourself in immediately to the authorities.----  It can't be true! I can not believe this is happening?

                                                                       

                                                                        JESSE                                                            

 

Now don't go on and spoil the one good thing I've done in my life by preaching to me. You are just as responsible, even more. It must be understood, what I do, demands a collaboration between us. So which of us is the guilty party?  Do you feel the hair on the back of your head standing on end Father?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDON

 

                                                               (Aggressively)

 

That's enough Mr. Young.  I'm quite worn out. I can not bear this any longer, I must go.

 

                                                            (Father Brendan gets to his feet about to leave)

 

                                                                        JESSE                                         

 

                                                            (Explosively shouts)

Sit down!

                                                      

                                                            (Father Brendan sits back down and makes no reply)

 

 Now then Father, it wouldn't be the first time someone tried to walk away from me. For most, a fatal mistake. But you father, of all people, not you, you understand, we are one, your pulse is mine. We're documented legends, suspended in the spotlight of celebrity. You caused our names and photos to be blazoned across every local newspaper. Back then you certainly enjoyed playing the big shot. Come now, I know how seriously you took the responsibility of being a hero. Surely, it gave you a chance to get more acquainted with sainthood. It must have added so much to quite a charmless life. Oh to think, how delightfully you gloated,  interiorizing all the reigning wasted attention of that day, as your worshiping audience gasped with admiration. Do you really expect me to deny what has happened? Is this the very best you can offer me?  So you just calm yourself and give me my due.  (BEAT)

 

                                                                            

                                                                         FATHER BRENDAN                                              Page 12

 

                                                             (Defeated)

 

Very well. Go on, tell me, since I can not prevent you.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

As I was saying, I broke in his room. Most of the other priests were either asleep or on a retreat. You heard of those right Father?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (With a weak voice)

 

Yes, we've had retreats in my parish as well.

 

                                                                        JESSE                                               

 

Yeah, anyway, it was quiet with no one in the room adjunct to Father Vincent's. I saw him lying on his side sleeping contently, past the phantasmal space where out lived dreams and weird luck settle. The nightlight lit half his face in darkness and the other in illumination. Entirely absorbed into a false sense of doubt as I looked around at the overpowering religious artifacts adorning his tiny room, I hesitated, which I never do, for just a moment but my restless hands surely stung in their idle restraint. I've killed over and over again but this time was different.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

What do you mean different?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Just amazingly intense. I wasn't troubled with the sense of guilt or remorse. It was all those distractions.

Then, on the dresser I saw a photograph of you two smiling at me.  I remembered why I had gone to Father Vincent's room in the first place. No friend's, remember Father?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Defeated)

 

Yes. I remember.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

 I irradiated all irrelevant thoughts and contradictions simply vaporized. To neglect God's summon would be a sin, so I began to strangle him.  Again, there's something else that makes this episode different.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                          Page 13

 

For heaven's sake, what?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

 

He awoke during the struggle and so faintly, he barely made the slightest sound, but as he looked into my eyes, I thought I heard him say, "I forgive you'". No one ever forgave me for anything . Despite the inevitable defeats my chosen victims are about to suffer, with exhausted breath, they ask, why? As if my answer would make the slightest difference in the outcome but the mere fact of asking the question gives them the illusion of hope and curiosity, the last ditch effort at the core of being human. They often drag their wounded emotions along, before collapsing. A postponement that resolves nothing.

 

                                                  

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN         

 

                                                            (With tears in his voice)

 

 

Tell me, did Father Vincent suffer much?

                                                                        JESSE                                             

 

No. He let go quickly. He crossed the path of tranquility. Disassembled time found its own space and in a perpetual flow, peace replaced chaos and channeled it elsewhere.

 

                                                            (Pauses for a moment)

 

Not to make any noise, ever so slowly, I turned the faucets on in the tub and filled it with water. I submerged Father Vincent in the warm water as it cradled his weight and I watched his limp body slide into the wrinkled arms of oblivion. Vague floating eyes, as if hand painted, refracted in the light, his view expanding darkness. He retired in the immersed bed of liquid sleep, his final domain, the threshold of mortality. For hours or maybe days, he'd be nuzzled against the cold porcelain tub like a brave mariner. Dispersed, lifeless in the dreaded transparent embrace, where the watermarked remain.

 

                                                                        JESSE                 

 

                                                            (Gently)

 

Now, back to my question, Father Brendan, knowing what you now know, is every life precious, as you said before, even mine? What if you could have put a stop to this, would you save me all over again?

 

                                                                   

                                                                          

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                       Page 14                                  

 

                                                             (Long pause)

 

You have mocked the fragile order of His design. Your sporadic tense emotions balance on a high wire with no safety net.  Wrestling with the daily maintenance of choice or chance, your faith is dipped into at will.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (Mimicking Father Brendan)

 

"You have mocked the fragile order of His design".

 

                                                             (Commandingly)

 

Forget that ceremonial mumbo-jumbo. You're staling.  Answer me. I asked you a question. Would you save me knowing what you now know?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDON             

 

                                                             (Hesitating)

 

Yes of course.----- Oh, I don't know ------

 

                                                                        JESSE                                    

 

                                                            (Shouting, goading him on)

 

Come on Father say it. Say it!

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                   

 

                                                            (Worn down)

                                                                        

No, I wouldn't. OK, OK, I've said it. You monster! To think I risked my life to save you!

 

                                                                        JESSE                                                        

 

                                                             (Triumphantly)

 

Aha! And there it is, the duality of man. The state of being  in two qualities. The characteristics of being twofold. Good and evil go hand in hand in all of us, even you Father. Everything merges and becomes endlesly entwined, gradually connected, keeping the fragile balance between beauty and decay. Now you truly understand dualistic thinking. Matters incubated minds are not willing to discuss. Oh to crawl out of the wilderness and walk unyielding. Feel the rapture of being alive?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                       Page 15

 

Why have you thrust this burden on my shoulders? Why now, after five years?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Alright Father, let's play a game, you know, to lighten the mood.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (In a low voice)

 

Not the time for games, Jesse.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                            (Laughing)

 

Come on now, don't you want an answer ? I'll start.

 Is it? :

A. I'm not a monster, and wanted you to have some time to enjoy your new position as a         

     priest.

B. Didn't want to burden you, besides I thought I'd stop killing .

C. Until now, I couldn't find you.

D. None of the above.

 

                                                             (Father Brendan says nothing and looks away)

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                           ( Making believe Father Brendan has said something)

 

Oh, don't want to play?

 

                                                         (Sarcastically, Jesse puts his hand to his ear and gestures

                                                          he hears Father Brendan say something again)

 

What's that?

 

                                                            

That is correct. Congratulations! We have a winner! You've picked D, none of the above.

 

                                                             (Abruptly the laughter fades from his face)

 

You did your good deed five years ago but you never checked on me after. Funny, I thought of you everyday.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                    Page 16

 

I was adapting to my parish. ----I didn't know. How could I?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (After a slight pause)

 

You have the perfect set up. Room and board. Imagine that, meals and lodging.  You probably get health insurance too, people waiting on you hand and foot. I wanted to allow time for you to gain confidence and be entrenched in your position as parish priest. To be bound by the practices of your profession.  Not distracted by the hush of solitude, I've learned to wait.  I left nothing to chance or the toss of the dice. Only then,  I'd  pull the rug from under your pompous feeble notions about helping others.

 

                                                            (Suddenly, fumbling in his inside pocket of his jacket)

 

 

Oh yeah, almost forgot. I have something for you.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Observing him with uneasiness)

 

What is it?

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

                                                            (Hands Father Brendan a small colorfully wrapped gift)

Open it.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                             (Takes gift, opens it then cries out)

 

Dear Lord!

 

                                                                        JESSE



Thought you should have the photograph from Father Vincent's room. Told you, I don't lie.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

What in God's name can I do  to stop you from doing this again?

                                                                       JESSE                                                               Page 17

 

You had your chance five years ago.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Is there anything at all you can say to comfort me?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Comfort you? You sleep dreaming wrapped in the blanket of righteousness. I'm the one who has to bear the brunt of God's will. You have it easy. (BEAT)

I too gave up all worldly possessions. I wander alone, no buddies, no female companionship, living the cloistered life. You may think you know all about the Almighty from some hand-me down family doctrine, where as I know Him personally.

 

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                     

I implore you, with all my heart, give this up, and I will forgive you?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                            (Turning on him sarcastically)

 

How touching!

 

                                                            (After a pause)

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

What happened to you Jesse?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

I suppose you want me to say this is all my mother's fault. Wouldn't that be convenient?

 

                                                            (Thoughtfully)

 

I'll admit, she never turned a favorable eye towards me. As my mother, her purpose seemed obscure. To her, motherhood was a burden, where stagnant disharmony fermented in her blood and discontentment oozed in her bones. Detachment had a way of compensating for her miscarried parenting traits. Her  perpetual expression of pained disappointment became all too frequent, cementing our strained relationship. She spoon-fed me abusive words and sent me hungry to my bed.

                                                                         JESSE (Continues)                                                 Page 18

 

 

Sometimes she pretended I'd never been born. Those were the only times we ever agreed.  I never fit into her pictured world. In between pretence and compromise is where I lived.  My hollow heart splintered with neglect. The innocence of my childhood was never in sight.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

That must have been hard for you.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (Irritated)

 

What of it?

 

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Now please don't get excited again. I  believe that all things must be accounted for. Any episode in childhood can be relevant to any adult event. You simply cannot erase the past that derails a normal life. It helps to clear the air. Go on, tell me more about your mother.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Never you mind about my mother. When push comes to shove, she did alright by me.  Even though she had inadequate parental training and an abnormal coldness of temperament, she was the one who played a decisive part in my religious education. Her faith in the dogmas of the church never wavered.    (BEAT)

I am so acquainted with her scent, which went out of fashion all those years ago, I can remember her dressed as a paper doll from the 50's, her quivering lower lip ever moving in prayer. She was encircled by muted apparitions, night voices trailed behind, and another candle got lit.

 

                                                            (Turning towards Father Brendan)

 

 

So don't go blaming her for anything, besides she had her hands full with him.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Stammering)

 

Is your mother ---still alive? I mean did you----

                                                                        JESSE                                                                Page 19

 

                                                            (Interrupts)

 

Kill my mother?  Geez Father, no way.

              

                                                            (Jesse gestures to his left offstage )

 

She lives over there, in the nursing home. I visit her once a week.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Puzzled and looking left, in the direction Jesse pointed to)

 

That building, over there?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                           (Slightly annoyed, pointing again)

 

Yeah, right there.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Jesse,  I don't know how to tell you this but that is not a nursing home.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

So, whatever you call it .

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

It's a mental health facility.

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

As expounded by Gertrude  Stein, "A rose is a rose is a rose."  I know that better than anyone. I'm painfully conscious of it. I put her there. You know I never lie Father, however, I suppose I trick myself sometimes by tightening the blindfold, just for a second and refuse to look at the truth. I've deceived my mother into believing it's a nursing home and in the process I've convinced myself.  ( A pause) She was  overcome by fear, that was my least favorite of her many personalities. Utterly consumed, she'd sit by her window, the only connection to a real life. A self -appointed sentinel, her phobic eyes darted as she catered to her anxieties. With those secluded ruminations, her gaze was of a stranger staring back at me.  I sensed one of us had lost our footing. In the spirit of family, I had her committed and denial stirred a new kind of sadness.

                                                                      FATHER BRENDAN                                        Page 20

 

You mentioned she had her hands full with him. Who your father?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Now don't get me started on my old man.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Why Jesse? What was it like living with him?

 

                                                                       JESSE



It was always the same, him tearing into me. In my father's house, I was in the way.

Residing within the moment of unrest, where mangled nightmares were kept alive, I was purposely misled, bound to nowhere, living as if in a maze. Entrusted in his patriarchal charge, hidden within the realm of control like a ventriloquist dummy, I'd speak his language and move as he'd have me move. (BEAT)

I've never said this out loud but he had this demonic, haunted disposition. A miserable creature with a prevalent gift of uselessness, who doted on his disease.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

What was wrong with him?

 

                                                                       JESSE



Diabetes.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Oh that is a terrible, damaging disease.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  It wasn't genetic in his case. That, I could feel something for.  His was self induced., you know, adult onset. You see Father, he succumbed to the sin of gluttony. As a sinner. he fully justified himself in his consistency and self-commitment to ruthlessly destroy his health and physical image. So dedicated to his piecemeal method of decomposition, his neuropathic, expired limbs became wheelchair bound. He'd sit there, smelling of sickness, his bloated body puddled in that chair which was parked day and night in front of the blaring TV. Not easy to forget those cloudy eyes veiled with the white haze of blurred sight as he lifted his lungs in laborious breath, barking orders, emitted  from an inarticulate tongue beneath cracked lips. His hands were swallowed up in numbness making him incapable of doing the smallest task for himself.

                                                                        JESSE (Continues)                                        Page 21

 

He had these nagging sores that had been picked on and never healed. It became that he scratched them so much, that they were in a constant state of infection. Watched as father's health habits turned into nurtured neglect. His chronic  pain was revealed in the simmering venom of his speech. I had all to do to keep him calm and redirect his rage. A perfectly rehearsed life hiding different degrees of tolerance.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

Could it have been that bad?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

 Believe you me, my old man was a mess. His indigo veins rolled beneath clammy skin. He had these purple bruises, the size of silver dollars, due to the fact that my mother administered his frequent insulin injections in the same spot day after day. You could tell, even the visiting nurse was grossed out by her undignified duty to trim the thickened yellow nails on his few remaining toes and dress the incessant, ulcerated wounds on his immobile feet. So yeah, it was that bad, Father.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Hesitantly)

 

Did you----

 

                                                                          JESSE

 

                                                            (Interrupts)

 

Father, really? No I didn't kill him., didn't have to. From now on, I'll let you know when the subject of our discussion is a victim of mine. It will save us both a lot of time.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

What do you mean didn't have to?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

The Divine intruder revoked his space.  Diabetes rolled him far away from me. He had a low blood sugar reaction one too many times but this glorious day the EMS was too late. Slumped in his chair he had adopted the expression of a man whose head was filled with straw. Perspiring profusely like a feverish child, he finally succumbed. He was only thirty three but physically well beyond his outlived years. It was as if God became so embarrassed by my father's causeless life, He remedied that by having him removed, as a specialist pulls out an infected tooth. He went down like an exiled lame dog.

 

                                                                        JESSE (Continues)                                              Page 22

 

Ultimately, his soul found an escape exit through the layers of fat and departed to the fiery place angry souls go where histories erase, There was no encore when he took his final bows.  Finally, the world spun back to its rightful place.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

You can't mean what your saying about you're own father!

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Certainly I do.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

But surely, you must remember something good in him.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

If only that were true but no, nothing at all.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Don't Jesse, you mustn't say that.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

But I mean it. I'm quite serious. I assure you it's the case. I've been a witness to such grotesque sights, an eternity could not nullify the pathetic memory I have of him. Long after they hurt no more, there in the wilderness of the half-imagined, those old ghosts lie in waiting vandalizing the present at a rapid pace.

 

                                                            (Father Brendan makes a face of disapproval)

 

                                                                        JESSE (Continues)

 

Oh, cut it out Father, don't make sad faces over him. You weren't there.  Besides, you know better than most--Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you received from God? You  are not your own."  (BEAT)  So stop being a goody-goody.  I have no sympathy at all.

 

                                                                       

 

 

 

                                                                         FATHER BRENDAN                                             Page 23

 

I believe your childhood had an important part to play in the life you chose to lead. Perhaps, you suspect as much but not able to cope with it.. I wonder how could such an intelligence not sense the wrong behind which you hide?

 

                                                                        JESSE

                                              

                                                            (Very irritably, Jesse paces in front of bench)

 

Why must my vocation have a flaw in it. What makes your calling more messianic than mine? You insist on trying to find blame for me having been ordained by the causes of heaven. I bet you any kid who grew up  on this block had the same screwed up if not worse childhood than mine. Quit being a student in the school of Freudian thought, trying to prescribe psychological adjustments to the circumstances.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Now don't get riled again . I'm only trying to help you.

 

                                                                        JESSE

                                 

                                                            (Calmly, sits back down on bench)

 

Well don't. (BEAT)  What about your childhood Father? What  made you chose the priesthood? I mean you go around masquerading, deprived of a sense of being. You sleep  pretending everything's alright with anonymities wasted skill.  By morning, you slip into another of those interchangeable days. A mere spectator in the game of life. Come on now, no one in there right mind would sign up for that. Talk about skeletons in the closet. What happened to you when you were a bed-wetting, little boy? Did your father beat or do something unfathomable to you?  Or wait, I got it, maybe it was that lush of a mother of yours--  it was her fault right?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Severely)

 

How dare you! I have had just about enough!

 

                                                                         JESSE

 

                                                            (Smiling)

 

Ah! I think I hit a nerve.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN                                     Page 24

 

                                                            (More calmly)

 

I only meant-- to learn more about your childhood-- to understand how you coped?

 

 

                                                             (PAUSE)

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Alright then, you want to know how I coped--- what my childhood was really like?  (BEAT)

I was ten, when my father was eliminated.  Smothered under the weight of a thousand indecisions, my mind in chains stumbled from one thought to the next. Imprisoned in the etherized space of past delusion., I took a restless detour from the maze of fate. Everlasting darkness accommodated the contents of my head. You know what they say Father, logic is the sacrifice of the possessed. I had a need to quench my wildest thirst in the wells of midnight. In my bed of oblivion, I faced the same nightmare, tucked away in those lifeless hours between sizzling sheets. Awakened, like a creature with a pathetic pang, my deprived lean belly craved what he's been taught he can not have. For awhile, I went on balancing myself in the pantomime of being a good boy. You certainly understand what that's like, don't you Father?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDON

 

                                                            (After a slight hesitation)

 

I am trying to understand. Before, you said you knew you would kill. How did you know?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

 That's better. Very good question.

 

                                                              (Slowly and clearly)

 

Been nine years since my neighbors dog died before his time. I still remember cats with lopped off tails bleeding in the snow. Behind me, always a trail of mutilation and shattered bones. All the little creatures that fell from my tyrannical hand. Stray victims pinned down battered each more violent than before. Enthralled by the slow kill, each young and easy prey died over and over again. The animals got bigger and bigger. All the while knowing what dreadful secrets burdened my mind I told myself, mustn't mind the waywardness of a growing boy. Maybe, I won't ever do it again but having seen all the signs, I was old enough to know better. It was just a matter of time before I raised the bar to people. I tried to put an end to it.  Now you understand, you set me loose upon the world!

                                                           (Father Brendan stares at the ground)                    Page 25

 

                                                                        JESSE (Continues)                                        

                                                

                                                             (Commandingly)

                                                                   

Don't stare at the ground, Father, look at me!

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Father Brendan's phone rings, he answers the phone, then turns his 

                                                             body  at edge of bench and sits sideways, as if not to let Jesse hear)

                                                            (Pause)  

Yes, this is Father Brendan. (Pause)

I know him well. (Pause)

He's What? There must be some mistake. (Pause)  (Father Brendan fakes the shock of the news).

Murdered!  (Father Brendan rises to his feet)

No Detective, Father Vincent had no enemies. (Pause)

I have no idea. (Pause)

Yes of course, anything you need.(Pause)

 I will. (Father Brendan put his phone away and sits back down)

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN (Continues)

 

                                                            (Slowly and with contempt))

 

They found Father Vincent. I must go now. The authorities will have more questions.

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

Yeah sure. When the faint sun out grows it's season, our time is pulled back, slowly rippling into dark collapse but then for us a brand new life begins.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

                                      

                                                            (Looks at him bewildered)

 

What? What do you mean?

 

                                                                       JESSE

                                                             (Looks back at Father Brendan and says sarcastically)

 

Ours is not to reason why.  Ask me again tomorrow morning Father. I'm sure you'll be here.                        

                                                                    (LIGHTS FADE)

 

                                                                 

                                                                        ACT 1                                                            Page 26

 

 

                                                                        SCENE 11

 

                                                                      (Same setting,  the next morning,  park bench at 45 degree

                                                                       angle, Father Brendan sits Upstage anxiously reading  the

                                                                       morning newspaper as if looking for something. After   a

                                                                       moment Jesse enters (STAGE LEFT) wearing a different

                                                         

                                                                       jacket and cap, holding a loaf of  bread, walks behind  bench

                                                                        to front and sits next to Father Brendan, high up on back

                                                                        of bench, his feet on seat. They do not look at each other.

                                                                        (Birds stop chirping)

                                                            

                                               

                                                                        JESSE

                                    

                                                            (Puts the loaf of bread down on bench and stretches himself) 

 

Aaah! Slept the night through--like a baby. Yep, slept great. How about you Father?

 

                                                             (Father Brendan put newspaper on his lap, looks at Jesse

                                                              and says in a very patronizing way)

 

Oh good! As long as Mr. Jesse Young is feeling rested and happy this morning! Heaven knows we wouldn't want to upset him.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (Breaking into laughter, puts his hands over his heart)

 

Ah, that was aimed right at my heart. Touché Father.

 

                                                             (Opens loaf of bread and starts feeding the birds)

 

                                                                        JESSE (Continues)

 

Is it possible you are the same priest who was here yesterday morning? Only yesterday you were reserved, and no offense Father, rather weak but now--- look at you go. I like it!

 

                                                            (After a pause, looks down at Father Brendan's newspaper)

What you reading there?

 

                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                             Page 27

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                         (Looks at the newspaper on his lap)

 

I was checking--

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

The murders?  Only Father Vincent's, is mine. Those others are done by maniacs. I can't take responsibility for those. Don't you know anything about these things?  I wait and I wait, as long as God wishes to ask me then I am at his mercy.   (BEAT)

You know, I used to work at a piano factory.   My job description consisted of  re-stringing and  restoring each piano with attention to detail, keeping it in the best condition. I took my job very seriously. It became so intense that I needed to take breaks now and again, kind of like a cooling off period.  So you see, that is how I work. I consider myself a well tuned instrument of God.  It continues to be an irrevocable vocation, a supreme necessity, as long as I remain alive. Like the piano, it  must be precise,  otherwise you just have a wooden table that makes noise.

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Says low to himself aloud)

 

So that is where you got the piano wire.

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN (Continues)

 

 

Have you ever seen a professional about what you do?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

I never felt the need, besides I'm telling you now. Aren't you a professional? After what I told you  are you going to need one? How are you going to live the results of your actions?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                              (Slight pause)

 

What you said yesterday--it was the opposite.

 

 

                                                                         JESSE

 

What was?

                                                                      

                                                                          FATHER BRENDAN                                Page 28

 

It was my mother who physically abused me. She was hardly an advocate of spare the rod. My father was the alcoholic. You had it backwards.

 

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                                  (Stops feeding birds, sits down properly on bench)

 

Did I now?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

It occurred to me, that yesterday, I was not always honest with you.  As a young boy I went about asking myself why, why me. My father was a pharmacist, he was surrounded by drugs but ironically his poison of choice was alcohol.  He kept his position until he no longer could get out of bed in the morning because of his late night binges. It was a shame, until that point he loved his position and taught me a lot, so much that I briefly considered following in his footsteps but ultimately, thought I'd rather heal souls than bodies. 

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Well, well.  I knew it. You looked like a bribed defender of a lie. (BEAT) Did you ever tell anyone about your wounded youth and how you tended to the scars of strife ?

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (After careful reflection)

 

Yes, eventually I did--  my pastor.

 

                                                                      JESSE

 

  And what did he say?

 

                                                                      FATHER BRENDAN

 

To be quite frank, he said, "Ours is not to reason why".

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                            (Smiling)

 

 We have never been more united as we are right now!.

 

                                                            (LIGHTS FADE)                                                            

                                                                       

 

 

                                                                        ACT 1                                             Page 29

                                                                   

 

                                                                        SCENE 111

 

                                                             ( Same setting.  Three months later. Snow drifts on ground behind

                                                              bench. Father Brendan sits Upstage wearing his white collar, black 

                                                             coat over black attire and gloves.  A cardboard tray holding two

                                                              hot beverages in Styrofoam cups, with lids,  is next to him on far

                                                              end of bench.  After a moment Jesse enters (Stage Left), wearing a

                                                              heavy jacket and sweater hat and sits next to him)    

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                             (Hugs himself)

 

Hey Father.  It's getting kind of brisk in the mornings lately.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                          

Sure is Jesse.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

But I don't mind.  I've grown to love coming to this park.   So peaceful, it's like the best keep secret.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

I am glad. You seem to finally -- well, have those deeds you are particularly inclined towards, under control. I believe our daily talks have helped immensely, don't you?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

I don't know what you mean by helped. All I know is I need you and you need me to be whole.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

What I mean is you have been much calmer these last three months.

 

                                                                      

                                                                      

 

                                                                         JESSE                                              Page 30

 

                                                              (Jesse starts pacing to and fro, restlessly Downstage)

 

That's because we're are one, that's all there is to it. Case closed. I don't understand why you would raise such a question. Nothing's changed.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                                      (Frowning)

 

Nothing's changed?  I just got finished saying how calm you have become. What is wrong with you ? Why are you so fidgety this morning?

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

I always get like this before--

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

Before what?

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

Figure it out Father . Do I have to spell it out for you--before I take another life .

 

                                                                      FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                                 (Distraught)

 

For God's sake don't say such things again Jesse. I thought we were beyond this.

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

                                                                (Still pacing)

 

Oh, it's going to happen. Consider it done. Who are we to argue heaven's will?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

 Is there anything I can say or do to stop you?  I've been strongly urging you to make resolution and go to the authorities. That is the only way for true peace .

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

No, you should know better.(BEAT) What time is it Father?

 

                                                                    

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN                       Page 31

 

                                                             (Raises his coat sleeve and looks at his watch)

 

Half past ten. Why?

 

 

                                                                        JESSE

 

Good, we still have some time.

 

                                                                         FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                           (Puzzled)

 

For what?

 

                                                                         JESSE

 

Well, if I want to make the deadline for the Early Edition news, then they have to find the body by 4pm. this afternoon.

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

Calm yourself. Just sit for a moment. Will you give me your word, you will not do this until you have spoken with me again tomorrow morning?

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

No Father, how many times do I have to say it, no!

 

                                                                     FATHER BRENDAN

 

You cannot erase remorse completely, it is a permanent stain. You must turn yourself in!  I do not make this request lightly.

 

                                                                    JESSE

 

                                                           (Completely out of control)

 

No! We've been through this, over and over again. I have no remorse, remember?

 

 

                                                                

 

                                                                         FATHER BRENDAN                                        Page 32

 

                                                             ( From the edge of bench Father Brendan takes a cup from the           

                                                              cardboard tray and hands that cup to Jesse. He takes the remaining

                                                              cup for himself)

 

Here, come and sit down Jesse, let's relax. I took the liberty of buying you green tea with honey, just how you like it. You brought me coffee last time, I believe it is my turn.

 

                                                                         JESSE

 

                                                           (Reluctantly sits on bench moving his legs restlessly. He takes

                                                            the Styrofoam cup from Father Brendan and holds it to warm his

                                                             his hands)

 

  Thanks Father.

 

                                                                        JESSE (Continues)

 

                                                           (After a slight pause removes lid and takes a sip from the cup)

 

Aaah!  Hits the spot.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                          (Removes lid and takes a sip from his cup))

                                                          ( Calmly, after a pause)

 

I feel God is being played the fool. Of His whereabouts, even I have lost track.

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

What are you going on about Father?

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

I have been knee deep in denial Jesse. Watched the threads of our tired sanction become tightly wound about the reality of our lives. Yet, I still believed I could make a difference and reform you. All this time, thinking I could turn this whole thing around and you would confess your actions to the proper authorities, face the consequences, do penance and make amends, as a true child of God. How perplexing the past is with all it's errors. Nothing gives more misery than remembering the obituary of passions and affections. By now they're mere shadows dissolving. Gradually all the lines will blur of what is past or what will come.

 

 

 

                                                                      

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN (Continues)                     Page 33

 

                                                           (Pauses then takes a sip from his cup)                          

 

Yesterday you mentioned you were getting the itch and needed to act on it very soon.  I choose to sweep that under the rug. But deep down, I knew all to well, you meant it. I have prayed and prayed to no avail. Everyday I lose a little ore faith. I wrestle with contradictory paths I must cross. So you see  Jesse, your not the only one in a personal hell.

 

                                

                                                                        JESSE                                         

                            

                                                             (Sips from his cup)

 

Sounds like a confession Father. Is it?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

It is. God forgive me. There is no less the devil in my heart than in yours. Now it is too late to change events that were meant to be. Clarity will soon flow towards the light of purity. From the wasteland, finding its realm without pretense, truth came into being. So help me, there is no going back.

 

                                                            (Jesse finishes drinking his green tea, starts to rise from bench but

                                                             feels woozy, drops his empty cup, it falls to ground)

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

                                                    

 Sit down Jesse.

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

                                                            (Jesse, almost falling sits back down closer to Father Brendan)

 

What's happening Father?  I don't feel right.

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (Takes another sip from his cup)

 

 

 We may be free from the habits of the soul but stranded where an angry God waits.

 

              

 

 

                                                                       JESSE                                         Page 34

 

                                                             (Slouching in his seat)

 

What was in that?  Did you put something in my drink?

 

                                                                        FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                             (Finishes his drink, places his cup down on bench)

                                                             (In a low voice)

 

I had to. It was the only way I knew to stop you. I can not allow you to keep doing this and I will not stand by. Forgive me Jesse.

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

                                                            (Shocked, trying to smile)

 

What? This is unbelievable! I would never have killed you Father--but I forgive you.  

                                                          

                                                             (Jesse leans towards Father Brendan and continues)

 

I hope it isn't painful.

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

                                                            (His head down)

 

No. I know what I'm doing.

 

                                                                       JESSE

 

I guess you think I got what I deserve.

 

                                                                       FATHER BRENDAN

 

You mean what we deserve. We shall both leave this world together.

 

                                                                       JESEE

 

 I'm so proud of you right now. You finally get it.

 

                                                            (Jesse and Father Brendan simultaneously slump and fall towards

                                                            one another, their heads touch and they take their last breath)

 

                                                                       (FADE TO BLACK)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                    

 

                                                                      

 

                                                                  

 

                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                  

 

                         

 

 

     

 

                                                                 

 

                                                            

 

                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            

 

                                                                       

 

 

 

                                                          

 

 

 

 

                                                         

 

 

 

 

                                                                       

 

 

             

 

                                                  

                                       

 

 

                                                                                  

 

                                                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                   

 

                                

 

 

                                         

 

 

                                    

                                   

 

                                                        

 

                                                                                     

 

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