monks in trouble
a play by Marc Heiden.
Michael a bored, scheming, generally rather mean monk
Jackson a shrewd but fairly stupid monk
Percy a meek, likable monk
Lorenzo a moody monk
Stephen an optimistic monk, something of a leader
the set is unadorned and is as dark as possible. all characters who are not in a scene stand in a line behind the light. all characters wear brown hooded robes. when a monk steps forward into a scene, the hood comes down; when back in line, the hood goes back up. monks in line are perfectly still.
(the monks begin to sing, slowly)
ALL: Sen-za u-na gabbia
Non abb-i-a-mo vesti-ti
Nel-la vi-si-one del dio.
(without moving, PERCY speaks)
PERCY: The stable disappeared today.
(MICHAEL and STEPHEN step forward into a scene)
STEPHEN: What do you mean, it disappeared?
MICHAEL: I mean it's not there.
STEPHEN: Are you sure you didn't get lost on the way? Make a wrong turn or a...
MICHAEL: I'm sure.
STEPHEN: When you tried to walk into it...
MICHAEL: There was nothing.
STEPHEN: Like a wall?
MICHAEL: A wall is something, you cretin.
STEPHEN: Just thin air?
STEPHEN: But what was on the other side of the door?
MICHAEL: There was nothing.
STEPHEN: How can there be nothing?
MICHAEL: Why don't you go find out?
STEPHEN: Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back.
(STEPHEN walks off. MICHAEL is alone)
MICHAEL: Hurry back, fucknut.
(STEPHEN returns, followed by LORENZO)
LORENZO: (angrily) What did you do, Michael?
MICHAEL: Not much. I think that's the whole point.
LORENZO: Knock it off with this coy shit. I don't have the patience.
MICHAEL: Why? Got somewhere to go? (LORENZO just glares)
STEPHEN: Look, Michael, we don't blame you. We just want to know...
LORENZO: Where the stable went.
MICHAEL: I have no idea.
LORENZO: (terse) Figure it out.
MICHAEL: Figure it out yourself. Have you even looked at it yet?
STEPHEN: No. We wanted to give you another chance to cooperate.
MICHAEL: They're not there. The stables are not there. This isn't a question of cooperation. This is a question of an entire fucking room disappearing. Find your own damn answer.
STEPHEN: There's no need to be difficult. We just want to resolve this.
LORENZO: This isn't a game, Michael. I'm sick of this shit. Tell us...
MICHAEL: What is this good monk/bad monk crap? Alright, boys, my defenses are broken. You got me. I pocketed the stables and sold them on the black market. I'm sick with guilt. Cheers.
(MICHAEL turns to leave. LORENZO stands in his way. tense, both monks
stare at each other. finally MICHAEL brushes past and stalks off)
LORENZO: How can an entire room be gone?
LORENZO: All things are replaced. It's that whole thing about nature not tolerating a vacuum. If I moved a chair...assuming we had a chair...it'd be replaced by air. But nothing? Absolute nothing? It doesn't make any sense.
STEPHEN: No, it does. We have to find the sense. There is a sense.
LORENZO: Are you sure?
(LORENZO leaves. STEPHEN is alone. he looks around the room. slowly he raises his right hand, palm outwards. he pauses. a pensive look comes to his face. he starts to reach outwards and stops. he pauses again and then exits)
LORENZO: (from line) When you open your eyes in the morning, I am here. When you close your eyes at night, I am here. You are in a hundred different places every day and I am in only one. You are outside. I am here. In this house of worship I pray for one thing alone, a moment of absolute crystal silence. Could you hear me? Could you hear my heart beating? Would you know my heart if it were the only sound in the universe? (pauses) Wherever you are, you're not thinking about me. It ended. I understand. I came here because I had nowhere else to go. Nothing could compare. The outside world was full of hollow reflections of you. In time it would have dulled my eyes. The memory of you would fade, the colors washed away by a flood of grey everything out there...(pauses) I came here to preserve the perfect image of you. (pauses) Wherever you are in the world, I am here.
(all of the monks enter)
STEPHEN: Jackson, you jumped on Percy's second beat...
JACKSON: He was flat.
STEPHEN: That's not for you to decide. You need to trust him to correct himself or at least learn from his mistake.
PERCY: I don't think it was a mistake.
MICHAEL: I've heard more melodious goats.
LORENZO: Spend a lot of time listening to goats?
MICHAEL: I was milking them at the time and they still sounded better.
PERCY: I didn't think I was that far off.
STEPHEN: Brothers, please. This bickering isn't helping any. (pauses) Is something bothering you?
PERCY: I think everyone's a little tense right now.
MICHAEL: Hey Percy, could you point out the obvious? I don't know where it is. Is it in the library? (whistles) Here, little obvious. Where are you? Ob-vi-ous?
LORENZO: (ignoring him) Well, what with the stable disappearing and all...some of us want to leave, Stephen. We don't think it's safe here.
STEPHEN: We can't.
LORENZO: Why not?
STEPHEN: It's the middle of winter. Without the stables, we'd have to go on foot and we don't stand a chance of surviving the trip down the mountain on our own.
MICHAEL: And this is somehow preferable?
STEPHEN: We'll be safe here. We're doing God's work.
MICHAEL: So? If history's shown anything, it's that religious conviction is hardly a bullet-proof vest.
LORENZO: You've been waiting for years to use that line, haven't you?
MICHAEL: Oh, you bet.
STEPHEN: Brothers, God will not abandon us. We are never alone but we can't just walk away. What does our devotion mean if we drop it as soon as it becomes inconvenient? In that moment, it all becomes meaningless. In that moment and that moment alone.
LORENZO: Can't we just be devoted somewhere else?
MICHAEL: Like in a hot tub?
STEPHEN: Please. I know this is disturbing but we are only lost if we lose faith. You mustn't believe that there is no sense to this. As monks, we are here to find sense and deliver it to humanity. We are in the house of God. Everything happens for a reason. That is the belief upon which are are founded. We can't surrender that.
(there is a silence as the monks stare at each other)
JACKSON: I'm with Stephen. I don't want to go. How do we know it's any better outside? Maybe it's happening there too.
LORENZO: Fine. I'm in.
PERCY: You are?
LORENZO: Maybe we need to make a stand against whatever this is. It could be starting here, and if we run from it now, it'll get out into the world.
MICHAEL: If no one else is leaving, I'm stuck here too. Can't make the trip down the mountain alone.
PERCY: I didn't say what I'm doing yet.
JACKSON: (ignoring PERCY) Why not?
MICHAEL: No horse, no one to get a piggy-back ride from. I'm not about to walk.
PERCY: I'm willing to walk.
MICHAEL: (ignoring him) Besides, I'm kind of curious what's going on here.
PERCY: I might leave.
LORENZO: (ignoring him) Alright, it's settled. We're all staying.
PERCY: I was thinking about going.
STEPHEN: (ignoring him) Brothers, this is wonderful. We have such an opportunity here...I've never been more proud in my entire life. I really think we have a chance here. God is watching, remember that. We have the chance to come together and show God something amazing.
MICHAEL: Hold still for a second, will you?
MICHAEL: I want to remember you just like that for when the bathroom disappears and we're pooping on the floor.
LORENZO: Let's get back to work, people.
(all the monks exit as PERCY speaks)
PERCY: I'm not going to work because I'm leaving because I think it's scary here and...(notices that everyone is gone) Aw, heck.
MICHAEL: (from line) The entire world outside is aligned against us by its very design. In nature there is no true silence. In a single blade of grass there is a deafening, unending miasma of subatomic screaming. "God is in the details". Hah. Fucking right He is. There are an infinite amount of ordered systems at work in everything you see and to the human mind that lives amongst it, it all adds up to noise. There is no chaos. Order is noise and the mind cannot tune it out. The mind cannot be free. The only uncertainty roots from insufficient knowledge. That's what passes for chaos: being not bright enough to factor in all the elements. A sad little lollipop, the kind that rots your teeth. The taste, the touch, the color and the shape, all of it. It adds up to noise. God is noise. (pauses) Not me. I will not play along. This house of worship for Him is the only sanctum from Him. I will be clear. I will rise.
(STEPHEN and JACKSON step forward into a scene)
STEPHEN: That's great to hear!
JACKSON: Yeah, I was thinking it'd be a good idea.
STEPHEN: Well, your timing couldn't be better. We need to pull together in times like these.
JACKSON: That's what I was thinking too.
STEPHEN: I do wish more of our brothers would take vows. It's such a valuable spiritual focus and it's a great morale booster as well.
JACKSON: Yeah, I pretty much just want to boost morals. And make God happy.
STEPHEN: Alright, well, how long will your vow be?
JACKSON: When does the truth arrive?
STEPHEN: The truth?
JACKSON: Yeah, you know, the epiphany. You've been quiet for a long time and then you hear God talking to you and he tells you what it's all about. How long does that take?
STEPHEN: It's hard to say, Jackson.
JACKSON: Hmm. How about we play it by ear, then?
STEPHEN: That's sort of an unconventional way of going about it...
STEPHEN: Percy! Have you heard the news?
PERCY: About the stables?
STEPHEN: (quickly) No. About Brother Jackson!
PERCY: No, I didn't. What?
STEPHEN: He's taken a vow of silence!
PERCY: He's not talking to anybody?
STEPHEN: You can't talk.
JACKSON: I was just...
STEPHEN: (trying to be sympathetic) I know. The vow starts...now.
PERCY: (after a pause) Huh. Well, best of luck with it.
(PERCY leaves. JACKSON starts to ask a question, but
STEPHEN stops him. MICHAEL enters, angrily)
STEPHEN: Brother Michael! Have you heard the good news?
MICHAEL: Fuck off. (to JACKSON) This is all a ploy, isn't it? You're not going to win.
STEPHEN: What do you...
MICHAEL: Is he excused from choir?
STEPHEN: Well, I would assume so. He can hardly sing if he's taken a vow of silence.
MICHAEL: (to JACKSON) I'm not singing your fucking parts. Do you hear me? (to STEPHEN) I'm not singing his parts. I've got enough to do on my own.
STEPHEN: There's no need to be upset. The music will be divided equally amongst us.
MICHAEL: Like fuck it will. (to JACKSON) This isn't over yet, you bastard.
(MICHAEL leaves. JACKSON and STEPHEN are left alone)
JACKSON: What's his problem?
STEPHEN: (exasperated) Jackson...now. Okay? Now. Complete and total silence, no matter what. Do you understand? (JACKSON nods, STEPHEN sighs in relief) Good.
(STEPHEN exits. JACKSON, alone, mopes. starts to whistle but stops. LORENZO enters)
LORENZO: Jackson, have you seen the spare barrel of ink? I need to get to work painting the garden scene in the Greek translation... (JACKSON shakes his head) Are you sure? It's kind of important. I could really use your help here. (JACKSON shakes his head again) Well, do you have any idea at least? Could you please...(JACKSON leaves) What's his problem?
PERCY: What's the matter?
LORENZO: (suspicious) What makes you think something's wrong?
PERCY: Nothing. You just look bothered, that's all.
LORENZO: Well, I'm not. (pauses) The ink supply is missing.
PERCY: Did you check in...
LORENZO: It's been in the same place for centuries. But it's not there anymore.
PERCY: Are you sure someone didn't move it?
LORENZO: That's what I'm trying to figure out.
PERCY: Why would someone move the ink supply?
LORENZO: I don't know.
PERCY: Do you think it disappeared? Like the stables?
LORENZO: It's odd. That's all I'm saying.
PERCY: Do you think someone...
LORENZO: I don't know. Jackson's been behaving strangely about it, but it could have been anyone.
PERCY: Well, I mean, I didn't...
LORENZO: (not paying attention) I know you didn't, Percy. Run along. Let me know if you hear anything.
PERCY: Okay. Good, uh, luck. Figuring it out.
LORENZO: Mm hmm.
(PERCY meekly slinks off. MICHAEL enters)
LORENZO: Michael, have you seen my ink?
MICHAEL: Not since I drank it and pissed it into the toilet, no. Want to fight about it?
(LORENZO just gives an irritated sigh and exits. MICHAEL is left alone)
MICHAEL: Ink? The ink disappeared? (scowls, then pauses, then slowly looks up to the sky with a reluctantly puzzled look) What are you playing at?
(MICHAEL returns to line)
PERCY: (from line) It's always been hanging over my head. I can't help but think it's my fault, somehow, as if it hasn't come about because I'm just not doing something right. (pauses) I was raised in a monastery. I don't know what gave them the idea...a prophecy, some sign in the clouds...whatever. I was told from a very early age that I am the son of God. One step from the top. It was one of those founding notions in my psyche. Fire is hot. Love is good. I am the second coming. (pauses) I'm sure the monks who raised me meant well. But I'm starting to wonder how sound their reasoning was.
(PERCY steps forward. he thinks for a moment and then tentatively extends his arms, crosses his legs, and lets his head droop slightly to the side. after a moment, STEPHEN comes out and notices him)
STEPHEN: What are you doing?
PERCY: (startled) Oh. Hi, sir.
STEPHEN: Why were you doing that?
PERCY: Just stretching.
STEPHEN: That wasn't stretching. You were...well, you know.
PERCY: Yeah. I was just thinking...maybe I should be more like him, that's all.
STEPHEN: By crucifying yourself?
PERCY: Well, not all the way, of course. But, you know, bodily energies and all. Get in the same position as he was when it, you know, happened. It's sort of like messianic yoga.
STEPHEN: Percy, you really don't...it's not your fault, that it, ah, hasn't worked out.
PERCY: I know. I'm just, you know, doing what I can.
PERCY: Just in case. The little things.
PERCY: (after a pause) Do you have any idea how tall...
PERCY: Because I could wear different shoes. Maybe it's something about, you know, the way he looked at the world.
STEPHEN: With mercy?
PERCY: No. From a couple inches, uh, higher. Than...
STEPHEN: Percy, that's ridiculous.
PERCY: I know. Sorry. (pause) Can I have a dispensation?
STEPHEN: On what?
PERCY: On my...hair?
STEPHEN: You really think...
PERCY: It could be the hair.
PERCY: I know it's not. I mean, probably. But, you know, just to be sure?
STEPHEN: No, Percy.
PERCY: (sighs) Okay.
STEPHEN: Don't you have work to do?
PERCY: I might. I think. I probably do.
STEPHEN: (sympathetic) We all have our place in God's scheme of things, Percy. Some people take longer to find theirs than others. It's nothing to be ashamed of.
PERCY: I know. I'll, ah, get to work.
STEPHEN: God needs scribes just as much as He needs...well...
PERCY: Second comings.
STEPHEN: Peace be with you.
(PERCY leaves. LORENZO enters)
STEPHEN: (mimes displaying a sketch) I've been meaning to talk to you about your initial sketches for the garden scene.
LORENZO: Sure. What about them?
STEPHEN: Well, they're...obviously a lot of effort put into them, but...
LORENZO: But what?
STEPHEN: The woman.
LORENZO: (playing dumb) Yeah?
STEPHEN: I've seen that face before.
STEPHEN: You've painted her before.
LORENZO: What do you mean?
STEPHEN: That's the same woman as the river scene. And the temple scene.
LORENZO: Well, there may have been a similar inspiration...
STEPHEN: And the desert scene. And the mountain scene. (silence) Need I go on?
LORENZO: What do you want me to paint, Stephen? Tell me what to paint and I'll paint it. If you want a blonde woman, I'll paint a blonde woman. If you want a red-head, I'll paint a red-head. Tell me what you want.
STEPHEN: You don't need to be difficult about this.
LORENZO: No, you know what? I want to do it right. Give me that. (takes the sketch) Let me fix it. (makes some sharp pen strokes upon it)
LORENZO: Here you go. (handing it back) Got rid of that nasty muse.
STEPHEN: You drew a big yellow happy face.
LORENZO: Yep. That's the last of the yellow ink. Wanted to get it just right for you.
(LORENZO stalks off. PERCY returns almost simultaneously)
PERCY: I remembered I can't work because almost all the ink is gone.
STEPHEN: (sighs) That's alright.
PERCY: You look pale.
STEPHEN: I'm fine. Working hard.
PERCY: Doing what?
STEPHEN: Researching. Praying. The sense is there somewhere. I just have to find it.
PERCY: You can take your time. It's a long winter.
STEPHEN: No, it's there. It's a matter of looking in the right place and then it'll all seem as apparent as the sun.
PERCY: I haven't seen the sun in months.
STEPHEN: I promised you all that there's a sense and now I've got to find it. Doubt would drive us to madness. We need to trust in the Lord that there's a reason that this is happening.
PERCY: Maybe you should get some sleep, Stephen.
STEPHEN: I'll be fine. These are trying times, but we'll make it.
PERCY: (noticing the sketch) You should probably let Lorenzo do those, Stephen. It's kind of fun, but I don't think that's what God was looking for.
STEPHEN: Uh huh.
(they return to line)
JACKSON: (from line) I ran a chain of fast food restaurants. I had boats, I had cars. I had women. I had art. (shrugs) I also had some fucking immigrants in the kitchen who didn't know how to keep their mouths shut. Yeah, yeah, fine. Low wages and I made a few bucks. Don't tell me about unfair. This world couldn't support fairness. It would collapse upon itself. Now I have nothing and they're back in yet another kitchen. That's justice? There can't be any justice in this world because whatever way you want to look at it, there's still one guy without accountability. God. Go after the bad guys. Send the men in suits running. If you play your cards right, maybe you get some entrepreneur to abandon his business and bail out to a monastery. Congratulations. But God's still sitting there untouchable at the top. God can and does screw anybody God wants for no reason whatsoever. These saps love to write stories about when some jerk gets his, but if you do the math, God goes after a fucking lot more people who haven't done anything at all. If the guy at the top doesn't give a shit about justice, who are you? Who the fuck are you?
(MICHAEL steps forward into a scene. he crouches down to the ground as if
searching for something. JACKSON enters after a couple moments)
MICHAEL: (notices JACKSON but pretends not to) Not a trace. Well, this is mysterious. (gives a quick look to see if he has piqued JACKSON's curiosity, then goes back to searching) Boy, this is huge. People are really going to want to know about this. This is going to change everything. Wow. (pauses, then gives another quick look) Yep, this is the big one alright...(JACKSON taps MICHAEL on the shoulder. reluctantly, MICHAEL stands and turns around) Yes? (JACKSON makes a shrug motion) What? What do you want? (JACKSON points at the ground where MICHAEL had been searching) What are you pointing at? (JACKSON points again) Sorry, I have no idea what you're referring to, you're going to have to find some other way to tell me...(JACKSON points insistently and shrugs) I'd love to help you, Jackson, but we're just not communicating here. (JACKSON sighs and starts to walk away. MICHAEL mutters) He shouldn't be able to sigh. That's not silence. (calls to JACKSON) I think the bathroom disappeared!
JACKSON (startled) Really?
MICHAEL: (smug) Well, it might have. I haven't been there lately, so I don't really know.
JACKSON: (realizes he has blown his vow) Damn it.
MICHAEL: Voice is in top form.
JACKSON: Fuck you. (sighs, thinks) I'll give you twenty dollars not to say anything.
MICHAEL: What's the point? You blew it.
JACKSON: Come on. Twenty dollars.
MICHAEL: Okay, I won't tell. Let's just say you can...owe me a favor.
JACKSON: No. Twenty dollars.
MICHAEL: Ah, what the hell. Sold.
(LORENZO enters, tense)
LORENZO: I just ran into Percy. He says the food stores in the west wing are gone.
JACKSON: They are?
LORENZO: (surprised) Jackson? I thought...
JACKSON: Twenty dollars?
LORENZO: Never mind.
MICHAEL: What kind of gone?
LORENZO: Like you described the stables. A void.
JACKSON: But you can still walk in, right? It's just really dark?
LORENZO: No...it's a void. Nothingness. You can't walk in because it's gone.
MICHAEL: You haven't even looked at them?
JACKSON: Stephen says it isn't a good idea. He says they'll just cause unnecessary doubt and confusion in these trying times. (shrugs) His words. (slow dawning) So wait... Michael, when you said...the bathroom is actually gone? Shit!
(JACKSON takes off running. LORENZO gives MICHAEL a questioning look)
LORENZO: The bathroom's not gone.
MICHAEL: (shrugs) What I said was that the Lord loves us. He must have misheard me.
LORENZO: Whatever. So what are we going to do?
MICHAEL: What are we going to do? Whatever Stephen tells us, of course.
MICHAEL: Wait...soft, though, hark! Do mine ears detect the sprinkling of the seeds of dissension?
LORENZO: I'm not trying to undermine Stephen. He's doing his best. I'm just trying to help out by coming up with...(reluctant sigh) an alternate approach.
MICHAEL: I've got a plan.
LORENZO: You do?
LORENZO: What is it?
MICHAEL: Monastic labor union. We strike until we get a sauna.
LORENZO: I hate you.
MICHAEL: I'm serious! No chants until we get the missing rooms back! And a shorter work day! Let's face it, we're pawns of the ruling class here. They can get their devotion somewhere else until they start treating us right!
LORENZO: I'm leaving.
MICHAEL: Stephen's running us into the ground! Stand up and be counted, brother! Monks Union Local #42!
(LORENZO leaves. PERCY wanders on. MICHAEL immediately gets up in his face)
MICHAEL: And the second thing that the new monastic labor union is going to do is demand that we get a better son of god, because our current one sucks.
(PERCY looks crushed. MICHAEL leaves)
PERCY: (after MICHAEL, but not too loudly) I'm doing the best I can. It's hard.
(PERCY mopes for a moment, and then focuses on the ground, waving
his hands over it. LORENZO suddenly charges in)
LORENZO: This affects all of us! No one's above it! You...(PERCY is startled) Oh. Percy. I'm sorry. I thought you were Michael. (pauses) What were you doing with your hands?
PERCY: Well, you know, what with half of our food disappearing...
PERCY: I was trying to turn the ground into bread.
LORENZO: That's sweet of you.
MICHAEL: (from the line) This is not devotion. Why would God want us to do this? This maze of stone is not nature. We are alone. (pauses) The monk is the ultimate agent against God. We dare to remove ourself from God's creation and in doing so we commit the ultimate rejection. How could anyone think that that's what God was hoping we'd do? It's absurd. Why would a perfect being give you a voice and be pleased when you didn't use it? What end are we working towards? Discipline is not an achievement. It is a tool. A means. So what are we, as monks, working towards by making ourselves independent from God's creation? What are we saying? Hey God, we don't need you. We don't need your food and we don't need the other people you made for us to hang around with. God's supposed to be pleased about this? I don't know why the others are here. I know what I'm doing. I'm waiting for God to come knocking on my door. God's going to be annoyed. God's going to want to know why I didn't eat the food, didn't taste the wine, didn't kiss the girls. God's going to ask "Why?" (pauses) And I'm going to smirk, and not say a word. Then God's going to know how it feels to be us.
(MICHAEL enters and begins calling offstage)
MICHAEL: Come on, Jackson! Quit being an asshole about this! I have to go! If you don't let me shit in there, I'll do it on your bed!
JACKSON: (voice only) How? Our beds disappeared three hours ago!
MICHAEL: They did?
JACKSON: (voice only) Yeah!
MICHAEL: I must not have noticed. (pauses) Now that my cold stone slab is gone, I guess I'm going to have to sleep on the cold stone floor. That sucks. (pauses) Don't make me get creative, fuckhead!
STEPHEN: Who are you talking to?
MICHAEL: Ah, Jackson's holding a vigil in the bathroom and he won't let anyone else in. He's afraid it'll disappear. Make him leave. I have to go.
STEPHEN: Mm. Confining oneself to a bathroom. That's a new vow. I'll have to come up with a name for it. (calls) Good show, Jackson!
MICHAEL: Nice to see you've got your priorities straight. I'll go drop a thank-you present off in your room.
STEPHEN: As long as we're both here, shall we get the monthly haircuts out of the way?
STEPHEN: Discipline even in the face of adversity.
MICHAEL: (shrugs) Fine.
STEPHEN: Great. I'll go get the razor.
(STEPHEN walks offstage and returns after a moment, puzzled)
STEPHEN: It's gone.
MICHAEL: What is?
STEPHEN: The razor. Gone.
MICHAEL: Did someone take it?
STEPHEN: No. There's a...well, there's a void where it was.
MICHAEL: That's fucking weird.
STEPHEN: It certainly is. (sighs) Guess Percy's going to get the dispensation he wanted after all.
MICHAEL: What dispensation?
STEPHEN: You know how Percy is. Feels like he has to be just like...
STEPHEN: Poor child. He's getting desperate. He was convinced it was the hair that was making the difference.
STEPHEN: Be nice to him, Michael. He has it rough.
MICHAEL: He likes it rough? Stephen, I really could have spent my entire life without knowing that.
STEPHEN: I didn't mean...
LORENZO: (from line) I tried to replace you with God but I just can't get you out of my mind. I'm sure I'm damned for this. God took away the ink I used to paint...everything I painted, parables and proverbs, beginnings and ends...the world's religions now bear your face. I'm sure I've damned us all. I tried to forget you but God never showed me a face. It's all mystery. Questions. How do you paint a mystery? The blank white pages upon which we draw already have it. Our devotion is defiance. We violate the mystery by drawing anything on those pages at all. I can't help it. If I brought this upon us then I am sorry beyond words but so help me God, and I am talking to you now if you can hear me, you toyed with me. You play with us every day. This world is a maze to us, designed to test us, sort us, separate us...she showed me her face. So when I close my eyes at night, I think about her. I don't know what else to do. But I will defeat this thing. I will preserve the perfect image of her.
(LORENZO and MICHAEL enter)
LORENZO: I'm telling you that I need your help. I can't do this alone.
MICHAEL: Why me?
LORENZO: You're the only one I trust.
MICHAEL: (bemused) I must be doing something wrong.
LORENZO: You were the first to find out about these disappearances. If it was you doing it, you would have used the stables to your advantage.
MICHAEL: Hnh. I didn't think of that. Is it too late now?
LORENZO: Michael, please.
MICHAEL: Why are you bothering me? Why not go to Stephen?
LORENZO: The man is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He can barely deal with this. I don't think he's slept in a week. If he breaks, then Percy and Jackson will too. He's a hero to them.
MICHAEL: (quietly) He's a fool.
LORENZO: (exasperated) Michael, if you're just going to insult...
MICHAEL: He's looking for sense in this. That's what he spends his time doing. He pores over archaic bible after bible...there is no sense to some things. This is one of them. God wouldn't do this. God wants more, not less. The only sense that comes from something like this is that people aren't very smart. They screw things up and then terrible things happen. That's the sense of it. It has nothing to do with religion.
LORENZO: What if this is the end of the world?
MICHAEL: Then there's nothing to be done. Might as well act as though it's not.
LORENZO: (pauses) You're as sane as everyone else.
MICHAEL: Look around next choir practice and tell me that's a compliment.
LORENZO: Why do you act...
MICHAEL: Like I do?
LORENZO: Like a bastard? Like a raving sociopathic lunatic?
MICHAEL: I'm sick of God's wonderful little ordered systems. I want to fuck them up. I want to be a chaotic element. Out in the real world I could never pull it off. Too many systems restraining my every move.
LORENZO: You make it sound like it's a perfectly ordered, completely sensible utopia out there.
MICHAEL: I didn't say it made sense. I said it happens. Everything is set up. People go mad because a chemical goes wrong. One ordered set initiates another. We just can't see all the systems. God is on top because God knows all the systems.
LORENZO: And it's different in here?
MICHAEL: Stephen operates on the basic assumption that God likes what we do here. He's wrong. God doesn't. God hates it. There's really no more direct offense that we could commit than to hole ourselves up and avoid Creation. Deny the trial. Escape the experiment.
LORENZO: (long pause) Why?
MICHAEL: Why what?
LORENZO: Why do all this?
MICHAEL: It's petty. I know that. But you know what? God is petty. This whole game...and that's what it is, a game...temptation on the left, goodness on the right, make the right choice and get a heaven-shaped food pellet...it's petty. It's fucking infantile. I plan to tell God so. If I have to burn in hell for eternity, so be it. But I will spit in the face of the being that chose to toy with us like this.
LORENZO: (pause) Are you determined to stop this thing that's happening?
LORENZO: Are you willing to do whatever has to be done?
MICHAEL: Yes. Now quid pro quo, Lorenzo. Why do I trust you?
LORENZO: Why do you trust me?
LORENZO: (pauses) You don't. I don't know that I'm not somehow responsible. But this way, you get to keep an eye on me.
MICHAEL: Fine. (pauses) We need a list.
LORENZO: Of everything that's disappeared?
MICHAEL: Started with the stables.
LORENZO: Then the ink.
MICHAEL: All of it?
LORENZO: All but the inkwell that was already in the transcription room. There's a little left in there.
MICHAEL: The west food storage.
LORENZO: Our beds.
MICHAEL: Such as we ever had beds.
LORENZO: The kitchen.
MICHAEL: Just trying to think about the upside to all this. No more of Jackson's quiche.
MICHAEL: What else?
LORENZO: Part of the library.
MICHAEL: Right. Disappeared by section. A...D through G...I through K...M through S...V to Z.
LORENZO: And B. B's gone too.
MICHAEL: Really? I liked B.
LORENZO: You did?
MICHAEL: Eh. It was alright. Better than K.
LORENZO: Clothes, besides these.
MICHAEL: My car.
MICHAEL: Just in case some insurance agent is listening. They'll give me a new one.
LORENZO: You never had one in the first place.
MICHAEL: (shrugs) They won't know any better.
LORENZO: Not a lot that's actually left.
MICHAEL: There's still...Stephen's study. Some of the library. The outlines of our rooms. The fucking choir room, which proves that the force behind this is a sick fucker for leaving it. The bathroom. The east food stores. Anything I'm forgetting?
LORENZO: What does it all add up to?
MICHAEL: Look at who benefits.
LORENZO: How could anyone benefit from this?
MICHAEL: If someone wasn't terribly bright, they might not see the long-term effects. They'd only see the short-term ones and think that those were beneficial.
LORENZO: Like what?
MICHAEL: The stable's gone. No more cold drafts at night.
LORENZO: Hmm. Jackson? That would explain the choir room still being here, because he doesn't care about it...vow of silence and all...
MICHAEL: Yeah, but he loved the kitchen, and he never touched the library or the ink.
LORENZO: Yeah, and there's the quiche.
MICHAEL: Which could implicate any one of us, really.
LORENZO: It's not Jackson.
MICHAEL: There's Stephen.
LORENZO: He's in the worst shape of everyone. Vows of hunger, of insomnia...he's killing himself trying to figure out why his god would do this to us. Hardly the look of an evil mastermind.
MICHAEL: That's true. He could barely walk the last time I saw him. This thing is hurting him the most.
LORENZO: And that only leaves...
MICHAEL: (idea dawning) The razor.
MICHAEL: Percy. He didn't have to get a haircut because there wasn't any razor.
LORENZO: (catching on) The ink. He got out of transcription work. He hates being a scribe.
MICHAEL: Not to mention stable duty.
LORENZO: It all points to him.
MICHAEL: Hnh. I'll show him a few disappearing acts that he didn't even realize parts of his body were capable of.
LORENZO: No. He probably doesn't even know he's doing it.
MICHAEL: But why?
LORENZO: He's probably asking himself that same question...
PERCY: (from line) Where do I go from here? I failed at being the son of god. I blew it. I couldn't pull it off. How do you not let that bother you? How do you take any pride in anything else? I could do something jaw-droppingly amazing tomorrow, some fantastic thing no one was expecting, and hey, nice one, but it's not quite divinity, now is it? Everyone knows my limitation. I dnn't get to spend my life building up to it. I don't get a second chance. It's not even my fault. It was the monks that raised me who jumped the gun...I mean, accuse me of vanity all you like, but they're the ones who just had to have a messiah child as an accessory for their monastery. Why should I feel bad? No one else is the son of god either. (sighs) People need a shadow of a doubt to live. You know, like mortality. It's pretty much definitely going to happen, it happens to everyone else, but maybe...maybe all your little accomplishments add up to something. Maybe you're something special. Who knows? The fact is, everyone does know with me. I'm not something special. The prophecy that didn't turn out. (pauses) What do I do now? Copy religious documents. Not many prophecies announcing the coming of some guy with a pen. I just want this to be over with.
(PERCY and JACKSON enter. JACKSON begins waving for PERCY's attention)
(JACKSON points to PERCY, then behind himself, then to himself, and then mimes eating a big sandwich. PERCY does not understand; JACKSON repeats, each time more frantic)
PERCY: What? ... Oh, right, you're on a vow of silence. Sorry. Didn't mean to, uh, mess with it ... I'm sorry, I don't know what you're saying ... you want to give me a piggy back ride? No? ... uh .... you don't want to eat me, do you? Okay, good ... you have food in the bathroom for me? Is that really the best place to keep it? Wouldn't the kitchen be better? ... I really don't get it, Jackson...
JACKSON: (exasperated whisper) Can you watch the bathroom for me while I get something to eat?
PERCY: (startled) Jackson?
PERCY: What are you doing?
JACKSON: I'm hungry. (PERCY keeps staring) What's your problem?
PERCY: Didn't you take a vow of silence?
PERCY: And doesn't this pretty much, well, end it?
PERCY: Because you're not being silent!
JACKSON: I'm just whispering.
PERCY: But you're generating sounds!
JACKSON: Shh! God will hear you!
PERCY: God can hear everything.
JACKSON: Nuh-uh. There's too much stuff to watch. Way I figure it goes, I figure God checks up with Stephen every once in awhile to see how things are going. So as long as Stephen thinks I'm silent, it's cool.
PERCY: I don't think that's the way it works.
JACKSON: Just keep quiet about this. I'll give you twenty dollars.
PERCY: What would I do with twenty dollars?
JACKSON: Tell you what. Get me a sandwich and when I finish the vow I'll tell you the epiphany I get.
PERCY: Don't worry about it.
JACKSON: (startled) Damn it!
JACKSON: Look! (points)
PERCY: Oh, wow. The bathroom's gone.
JACKSON: (near tears) Aww...damn it. Where am I going to poop now?
PERCY: Geez. I'm really sorry. I know how much time...
JACKSON: Don't start, man. You don't know. (pauses) Damn it.
(JACKSON exits. STEPHEN enters)
STEPHEN: Is something wrong?
PERCY: The bathroom disappeared.
STEPHEN: (sighs) Oh, dear.
PERCY: Are you alright, Stephen?
STEPHEN: Why do you...(trails off) Huh.
PERCY: You don't look well.
STEPHEN: (regaining focus) No time to sleep, you know. Books to consult.
PERCY: Well, you could sleep a little. I mean, some of us could search the books too.
STEPHEN: (quickly) No! (realizing how awkward that sounds, a quick laugh) No. I, ah...this is my burden, Percy. We've all got one.
PERCY: (trying to keep up) Yeah.
STEPHEN: (suddenly) How are you holding up? Do you have a burden? Of course you do. Good luck, Percy. These are trying times.
PERCY: Sir, I really think you should get some sleep.
STEPHEN: Thanks for the input. I'll let you know.
(STEPHEN exits. MICHAEL and LORENZO enter immediately.
they stand on the fringe for a second)
LORENZO: Now if the theory is correct...
MICHAEL: He's mad at Stephen so Stephen's books will disappear, just like with Jackson and the bathroom a moment ago.
(LORENZO rushes forward, MICHAEL right behind him)
LORENZO: Percy! Stop!
PERCY: (startled) I wasn't going anywhere.
LORENZO: No! You've got to stop being mad at Stephen!
PERCY: (bewildered) I'm not mad at Stephen.
MICHAEL: (growls) Like fuck you aren't, you little bastard!
PERCY: I'm kind of mad at Michael right now, but not Stephen...
LORENZO: Percy, it's you who's causing this.
PERCY: No it isn't! You guys yelled at me first!
LORENZO: Not this this. I mean (waving arms around) this.
PERCY: (blank look) Oh. Thanks for clearing that up.
LORENZO: So you understand?
MICHAEL: He was being sarcastic.
PERCY: What are you talking about?
MICHAEL: He means that you're causing the disappearances.
PERCY: (shocked) No I'm not...
LORENZO: Not intentionally.
MICHAEL: We don't know that.
LORENZO: Shut up.
PERCY: How could I...
LORENZO: With your mind. Think about it. Everything that's disappeared has been connected to you in some way.
PERCY: It's been connected to you, too! And all of us!
LORENZO: When something or someone makes you mad, something disappears. Like a moment ago. Jackson was rude to you and you knew he cared about the bathroom so it disappeared. It all adds up.
PERCY: Even if that's true, how could I make things disappear? (LORENZO and MICHAEL give each other a long look) Guys?
LORENZO: (reluctantly) Well, you see...
LORENZO: Don't, ah, let it go to your head, but...
PERCY: What? Let what go to your head?
MICHAEL: (very reluctantly) We think you might be the son of god after all.
PERCY: (pause) Really?
PERCY: (pause, then a look of total joy, leaps into air) Yeah! Yeah! I can't believe it! I am! It's really true! I did it! The prophecy came true! Oh, YEAH! (pauses to collect self, still thrilled) So what do you want me to do?
MICHAEL: We need you to abdicate.
PERCY: (still happy, hasn't yet understood) What?
LORENZO: Step down.
PERCY: (smile now frozen) You want me to stop being the son of god.
LORENZO: It's the only way.
PERCY: You're serious.
LORENZO: You've got to. Before the rest of the monastery disappears.
PERCY: You want me to...
LORENZO: Stop being the son of god.
LORENZO: You have to, or it'll keep happening.
LORENZO: I know you mean well, but you can't help it. It's unconscious. You can't not be bothered by people.
MICHAEL: He's not listening to reason. Let me and my rusty spoon have a go.
PERCY: All my life! My entire life I've been a failure because...bluh! And you think you can just...well...heck no! (hyperventilating) Because...it's not as though...no one! Perfection? Who, huh? Yeah! So we have a problem! Does that mean...damn it!
LORENZO: Percy, I'm sorry. I truly am. I didn't want it to turn out this way.
PERCY: This is all I've ever wanted. Every night of my life, I've gone to bed wanting this.
LORENZO: I know...
PERCY: And now you want me to give it up?
LORENZO: For the entire world's sake. Please.
PERCY: (covers face with hands) Fine.
LORENZO: You'll do it?
PERCY: If that's what I have to do, I guess I'll do it.
LORENZO: You're sure?
PERCY: Well, if I let everyone get killed, I wouldn't be a very good son of god anyway. So I might as well just be some guy.
LORENZO: Thank you, Percy.
PERCY: Let's get this over with.
PERCY: So what do I do? (MICHAEL and LORENZO stare at each other again) How do I stop being the son of god? (silence) Guys, I'm willing to help, but I can't just stop being who I am. So what do you want me to do?
LORENZO: We hadn't really thought that far.
(PERCY throws up his hands in exasperation and leaves)
MICHAEL: My rusty spoon had a few ideas.
LORENZO: He's got a point. I don't know what to do.
MICHAEL: Well, let's see...what are our choices? Maim the whiner or lose the monastery. Tough one.
LORENZO: You couldn't turn yourself off even if you wanted to, could you?
MICHAEL: Where have you been? We were worried sick.
PERCY: (ignoring him, to LORENZO) You'll never guess what's gone now.
MICHAEL: Please say the choir room.
LORENZO: (nods) The entrance.
PERCY: Yeah. We're trapped in here.
LORENZO: I'm really not surprised. The entrance probably disappeared even before the stables did.
PERCY: No, it was still there.
LORENZO: How do you know that?
PERCY: Because I saw it. I said I was going to leave during that one choir practice, remember?
LORENZO: You did?
MICHAEL: I don't remember that.
PERCY: Of course I did. You guys weren't paying attention to me.
LORENZO: Wait a minute. You wanted to leave?
PERCY: Yeah. I've been wanting to leave here for a long time.
LORENZO: They why did the stable disappear? That would have been the best route out.
PERCY: (shrugs) Don't look at me. It's your theory.
MICHAEL: Shit. It doesn't add up like we thought.
PERCY: What do you mean?
LORENZO: I think we might have made an error.
PERCY: What kind of an error?
MICHAEL: Maybe you weren't the son of god after all.
(PERCY punches MICHAEL, knocking him down)
PERCY: I can't believe you! I went through all of that because you guys weren't paying attention to me?!?
LORENZO: Well, we can't keep track of everything...(PERCY advances, ready to hit him) Okay, sorry. Our mistake.
PERCY: I hate you.
MICHAEL: (from the floor) The real son of god wouldn't hate people anyway.
(PERCY kicks MICHAEL in the stomach)
PERCY: I'm getting something to eat.
JACKSON: (from line) I'll do what I have to do. I'll be quiet. Whatever commodity God trades in, I'll find it and hand it over. I'll do anything. I don't want to go to hell. (pauses) I had this worker once...dependable guy. A rock. Been working for me for years. Take any shit you throw his way and use it to heat his house. Worked sixty hours a week because he didn't have the guts to ask me for a raise. Didn't want to risk losing the job. He had this kid. Bright kid. Real firecracker. Had a lot of potential and the dad knew it. Kid had a shot at college but the dad couldn't afford it. The kid's starting to get distracted. Angry that his old man's a working stiff without a dime. The kid's starting to do some bad shit. The old man knows that it's now or never. So he comes into work one day. (pauses) Fucking...(pauses) Fucking douses the entire left half of his body with boiling hot grease. Guy's almost completely paralyzed. Hideous. Unbelievable pain. All that to earn a worker's compensation claim. He'll bring suit against me for negligence, use the proceeds from the case to send the kid to college. Thing is...they get him to the hospital. Finally he comes to consciousness. Opens his eyes, all he wants to see is his son standing there smiling with a school jacket on his back. (pauses) All he does see is his wife. She tells him how their son knifed some guy and then overdosed on heroin. Died in a gutter. (pauses) I know what hell is like. Hell is the look on that guy's face. Hell is how that look never came off that guy's face. Twisted and burnt. Forever. (pauses) I know what's going on here now. I'm not going to hell. No.
(LORENZO, MICHAEL, and PERCY enter and stand in opposition to
JACKSON, who is hysterical and backed against one wall)
JACKSON: Back the fuck up.
JACKSON: Back up! I fucking mean it!
LORENZO: Jackson, we really don't have to do this...
JACKSON: The food stores are mine. The rest of you can sit and wait to die in the choir room. This is where I am. You're not getting in here.
MICHAEL: (steps forward) I can see how I'd have trouble getting in right now, yes. But what's going to keep me out after I remove your liver with my teeth and a rusty spoon?
JACKSON: I've got a gun.
MICHAEL (steps back) That'll do the trick nicely.
LORENZO: Fine, Jackson. The food stores are yours. We're just going to turn around and walk away.
JACKSON: You're not going anywhere.
MICHAEL: Really getting conflicting signals from you here, pal...
JACKSON: Shut up. Shut the fuck up.
MICHAEL: The guy with a vow of silence is telling me to shut up.
LORENZO: Why are you doing this, Jackson?
JACKSON: You don't know the first thing about me. You don't know what I've done.
LORENZO: What, outside? In the past? Jackson, we don't...
JACKSON: I've done a lot of bad things. I hurt a lot of people. (pauses) I'm not going to heaven. I don't want to die. I don't want to starve, and I don't want to disappear. I'm not leaving this monastery until God forgives me for what I did.
LORENZO: No one's trying to make you leave. You can stay. We just...
JACKSON: Fuck you! I'm not fucking stupid! You'll tell Stephen and he'll kick me out!
LORENZO: Tell him what?
JACKSON: That I talked! That I broke the vow!
MICHAEL: We had agreement. You gave me twenty dollars. I don't say a word on the topic. I'm not going to tell.
JACKSON: But he is! (pointing at PERCY)
JACKSON: Him! He'll tell!
LORENZO: No, he won't!
JACKSON: Shut up!
LORENZO: Percy, tell him you won't!
PERCY: I, uh...
JACKSON: He has to die! And then you'll tell Stephen because you'll have to explain how Percy died! And he'll kick me out!
JACKSON: I'm not going to hell! God's going to give me an epiphany for my vow and everything's going to be alright!
LORENZO: Percy's not going to tell. Nobody's going to make you leave. Tell him, Percy.
PERCY: (stepping forward) You're not going to do it.
JACKSON: You don't think I haven't done it before?
PERCY: What matters is that you're not going to do anything now.
JACKSON: You're fucking wrong!
MICHAEL: You're going to get us all killed!
JACKSON: I'll blow your fucking brains out!
PERCY: No you won't.
LORENZO: Percy, don't do this! Back off!
PERCY: No. Because when you reach for that gun...
JACKSON: You're fucking dead!
(JACKSON reaches inside his robe for the gun. LORENZO and MICHAEL dive out of the way. PERCY remains perfectly calm and still. JACKSON comes up empty)
PERCY: I'm pretty confident you'll find there's nothing there.
(LORENZO and MICHAEL slowly rise. JACKSON drops to his knees)
JACKSON: It was there...
MICHAEL: I'm speechless.
JACKSON: The void...I can feel it. Shaped like a gun. And it's so cold...
MICHAEL: How did you know?
JACKSON: (quietly, weeping) So cold...
PERCY: Because that gun was the only other way out of here. Now it's gone.
PERCY: Thanks. If you don't need me anymore, I'm going to go dry my robe where I wet myself.
MICHAEL: No bathrooms, remember?
PERCY: (a look of total exhaustion) Balls.
LORENZO: What did this to him? Jackson wasn't like this. You remember before. He was calm. Something changed. He's never been the brightest star in the night sky, but he was shrewd in his own way. Smarter than this, at least.
MICHAEL: The sympathy train for this jerk left about twenty minutes ago.
LORENZO: I'm not talking about sympathy. Look at him.
JACKSON: (weakly) So cold...
LORENZO: He's got the Fear. He saw something. Look at him.
MICHAEL: None of us are exactly thrilled about this...
LORENZO: That man has the Fear. I'm telling you, he knows something.
JACKSON: (weakly) I don't want to go...
MICHAEL: Well, then, what...
JACKSON: (weakly but clearly) Don't tell him. He'll make me go. Please.
PERCY: (to JACKSON) What did you say?
JACKSON: (cries) He'll make me go!
LORENZO: "He"? But...
(LORENZO stops abruptly. MICHAEL and PERCY stare at him with a look of horror)
LORENZO: Oh my god. Him.
(they return to line. JACKSON does not stand. he huddles on the ground,
holding his knees. his candle is blown out)
STEPHEN: (from line) I was walking home late one night when this woman asked me a question. I know why I answered her. I was being polite. I knew the answer. She wanted to know where some street was. It was two streets away. I told her that. It was the street I lived on. She asked me if I was driving. I told her that I had just parked my car. I crossed the street. I kept walking because I wanted to go home. I wanted to sleep in a warm place. At the first intersection she came over to my side of the street. She asked me the question again and I gave her the answer again. I was being polite. She started asking more questions and I answered them. She wanted to know where I lived and I told her it was nearby. She asked if I had any roomates. I should have asked myself questions. I should have questioned why she needed to know any of this. I didn't. I don't know why. I told her I had a cat. She said she liked kittens. She said she was looking for a place to stay that night. She said she wanted to use my phone. I told her she could use my phone. I don't know why. She had a heavy coat on. She said she was looking for a place to stay. She said she had to make a phone call. I said she could. I don't know why I said that. She asked questions like why did I park so far away from my apartment and I told her but I don't think she understood. She kept on talking. I had lived in a large city for most of my life. I knew there were dangerous people. I knew there could be problems. I don't know why none of those thoughts affected me. I let her into my apartment. I didn't even know her name. She identified herself as "pumpkin" on the phone. She had awakened someone on the other end of the phone. She handed the phone back to me. She said she wanted cab fare. I told her I didn't have any money. (pauses) So she shot me. I don't know why she did that. After I was shot, I still didn't have any money. She took my phone. It didn't work anymore when she tore it out of the wall but she took it anyway. She left. The police were able to find her by checking the records of the numbers dialed from my phone. They arrested her. Weeks later I saw her in court. We passed by each other on the way into the courtroom. There was nothing in her eyes. Nothing. I don't know what I was expecting to see. They put her in prison. I don't know why I expected that to make me feel better. It didn't. I couldn't go back to my apartment. I couldn't walk back and forth anymore like everyone else. I had to know why I was doing whatever I did. (with emphasis) Whatever I did, I had to know why I was doing it. So I came here. I'm serving God. That's what I'm doing. That's what I'm doing.
(STEPHEN is alone onstage. LORENZO enters, backed by MICHAEL)
LORENZO: Oh. Didn't mean to interrupt. Doing God's work, Stephen?
LORENZO: Tell me, Stephen. Because I'm curious. What exactly is God's work?
STEPHEN: What do you mean?
LORENZO: What is it that we do that God can't take care of, needs us for it? And how do we know what God wants done? How does God pass the duty roster along?
STEPHEN: What are you...
LORENZO: Fucking give me some answers, Stephen. You're awful calm. Want to tell me why the fuck you're so calm?
LORENZO: Because it's got me worried, personally. But you don't seem bothered. You seem like you're expecting it.
STEPHEN: Lorenzo, I realize that you're distressed. We are all on edge. But trust...
LORENZO: No! Enough of that shit!
STEPHEN: (quietly) That's quite enough, Lorenzo.
LORENZO: What? "Shit"? You have a problem with the word "shit"?
STEPHEN: Lorenzo, please. You'll regret this later.
LORENZO: No, tell me. What's the matter with the word "shit"?
STEPHEN: Vulgarity does not befit...
LORENZO: The prophets shat, Stephen. It happened. They preached, they ate, and they shat. Shit dropped from their bare asses into toilet bowls and then they went on with their lives.
STEPHEN: Lorenzo, we have standards of conduct...
LORENZO: The only difference between us and them is now we shit into the void because our world is disappearing from around us. How about that? You're so damn focused on what words I'm saying that you're missing the whole problem they describe. How about that?
STEPHEN: (quietly) Lorenzo, I will remind you that you are in the house of God.
LORENZO: Am I, Stephen? Is that whose house that is?
STEPHEN: What do you...
LORENZO: Can I see the lease? I'm starting to wonder if perhaps some changes were made recently.
STEPHEN: (angrily) That is enough, Lorenzo. If you can't trust...
(LORENZO lunges for STEPHEN. MICHAEL rushes in and separates them)
MICHAEL: You're letting him get into your head. Back off.
STEPHEN: Stay away from me, Lorenzo.
LORENZO: You sold us out. You fucking sold us out.
STEPHEN: What were you doing here, Lorenzo? What were any of us doing here? Serving God? How? We never even got the chance. We had it easy. We were soft.
MICHAEL: What did you do, Stephen?
STEPHEN: I made a chance. I got us a shot at the big time.
MICHAEL: You're not making any sense.
STEPHEN: This is a trial, Michael! Our very own trial! The world's disappearing, so we have to deal with it! Discipline in the face of adversity! You thought God wasn't watching? Well, He is now! We've got His attention! Smile and get devoted, because the HeavenCam is pointing right at you!
PERCY: The rest of it's gone.
PERCY: Everything. Just hallways left.
LORENZO: Even Jackson?
LORENZO: (to STEPHEN) Now you're a murderer.
MICHAEL: (rolls eyes) Oh, that tears it. I'm not your friend anymore, Stephen.
PERCY: You've got to stop this.
STEPHEN: I can't.
PERCY: What is it?
STEPHEN: (nervous giggling) We've got a lot of books, guys. An awful lot of books. Or we used to. You know, before, ah...well. History, though. You guys know much about history? People used to store things in monasteries. Lots of things. Read up on it. Barbarians didn't read much. They didn't like books. Burned them. But you know how monasteries are. Good at keeping things out. Lots of things saved because they were stashed here. Everyone just threw their stuff in the basement here and took off. No one knew which bits were the holy ones. They just threw things on in...and the thing is, if you think about it, and you won't need to think much because our present situation is pretty much proof, monasteries are even better at keeping things in. Hah. Yep, wouldn't you say? Things that people don't want to see very much anymore.
LORENZO: (after a silence) You sold your soul.
STEPHEN: My soul? Heck no. Come on, the value of a soul is vastly overrated. Ask yourself, what would you do with a spare soul? No, all I had to do was open the door. That was all it wanted.
PERCY: Open the door?
STEPHEN: Lots of books were down there. Lots of old ones. Very old ones. Hadn't been read in a long, long time.
LORENZO: You let the devil loose on the world.
STEPHEN: I don't know who it was. All I know is that it's hungry.
PERCY: Why can't you stop it?
MICHAEL: Because the pathetic fucker was never in control of it. Whatever it was that he let loose didn't ask for permission.
STEPHEN: What it is is immaterial, people! Look at what it allows for! Don't you think God is impressed? We stood here and faced it down! The void showed up in our living room and, well, pardon my use of the vernacular but I guess we've already crossed that particular threshold...it shat all over the place! It rubbed shit in our faces but we kept them bowed. We are good. In the face of the all-encompassing horror, we kept our eyes on God. Congratulations, brothers. We did it. We fucking well did it. We got our audition, we slam-dunked it, and we're going to Heaven.
LORENZO: You did this to yourself?
PERCY: You're crazy.
MICHAEL: Way to take the obvious and make it your bitch, Percy.
STEPHEN: Saddle up, boys. Time to go home.
LORENZO: What are you talking about?
STEPHEN: We're not done yet. One more thing.
LORENZO: There is no we, Stephen. We're not with you. We never were.
STEPHEN: We've done some pretty impressive stuff but there's one last place to go. The void. Want to really impress God? Let's step right into the void. Show how strong our devotion is. We won't disappear. The void will re-shape itself around us.
LORENZO: Go for it.
STEPHEN: This is going to get us a seat at the throne itself. I can't wait.
LORENZO: Let him go. It's over.
(STEPHEN walks towards offstage as the others look on. he stops when right there)
STEPHEN: Oh my lord, lord, lord, lord....(smiles) I'm coming home.
(STEPHEN steps offstage. an empty monk robe falls where he stood)
PERCY: Is he gone?
MICHAEL: Well, if you believe that the clothes make the man, no.
MICHAEL: Forget it.
PERCY: Do you think it's over?
MICHAEL: The disappearances?
LORENZO: Maybe. It was his pact. His devotion that caused this. Hopefully it went with him. (pauses) I wonder if this is what it was like for the first people who felt rain. Water falling from the sky. It's a pretty strange notion, if you think about it. All those
drops...maybe the world has grown old and tired. Maybe things are just leaving because they're done. With life. Could have had nothing to do with Stephen. He was deluded. I don't know. We're here now, and that's all we've ever really been able to count on.
PERCY: What now?
LORENZO: There are a lot of hallways in here. Some of them haven't been used in centuries. We start walking and hope we find an exit, I guess.
MICHAEL: (to PERCY) You said there's nothing left? Food, water?
PERCY: Nope. But there's this. (pulls paper and a pen from his robe)
LORENZO: You saved the ink?
PERCY: Yes. But the library's gone. Thousands of years of religious thought wiped out.
MICHAEL: (pause, then genuine) Wow.
PERCY: And it's up to us to reconstruct it.
(a pause, and then LORENZO and MICHAEL begin speaking at once. ad lib)
LORENZO: You need the part about the...
MICHAEL: The garden was a good bit...
LORENZO: Sacrifices. Noble sacrifices...
MICHAEL: Resurrections always bring them in...
PERCY: No. (silence) We've only got a little bit of space. We have to choose our words carefully. Remember what happened before? All those other words will just distract people from what we're really trying to say.
LORENZO: Then what?
PERCY: I read a book once that got it pretty well right. There's this man. He runs himself ragged trying to do nice things for people and his family thinks he's strange but he does it anyway. There's this part where he's in a hospital and there are these babies and for some reason he's alone with them. He's trying to come up with one rule for living on this planet. One thing that they have to remember above all other things.
MICHAEL: Which is?
PERCY: (writing as he speaks) "God damn it, you've got to be kind."
(LORENZO and MICHAEL nod. PERCY sets the paper in the middle of the stage)
PERCY: Something to remember us by.
LORENZO: Come on. Let's go for a walk.
monks in trouble by Marc Heiden february 1999