David Swartz "RELIGION WITH AN EDGE"
biblicalfictions.com
Poetry for the Curious across the Religious Spectrum
Off the Record

 

An apartment in Manhattan, the master bedroom, 2033 AD.

 

 

MICHAEL ((((( 33, neurasthenic composer, wealthy, bedridden largely of his own choice

 

DR. RANCE FERVOD ((((( Michael's physician, mentor

SALLY FOREST ((((( Michael's born-again mother

PETER KUNSTLER, ESQ. ((((( Michael's attorney

 

RAPP ((((( Michael's bodyguard and servant

WILMA ((((( Michael's cook

BURT ((((( Michael's bodyguard and servant

 

OTHER SERVANTS, ATTENDANTS, STAFF

 

WILLIAM ((((( a young boy

DR. CRAVEN ((((( William's father

 

OTHER BOYS, THEIR PARENTS

 

A CHORUS OF MORE-OR LESS NOTABLES

 

 

 

ONE ((((((((((((( the bedroom, 9:33 PM

 

 

In a neo-Baroque master bedroom, Michael lies on a canopied bed, enclosed with plastic film, a huge cylinder of oxygen to his left, to his feet a wall-sized video screen bearing images of LORD OF THE FLIES, playing, fast-forwarding, rewind searching, playing, seeking always the juicier sequences of small boys in half-dress gamboling across the island.  In place of the sound track, the frivolous popular music of the late Seventies or the Eighties, Michael Jackson's preferably, muted but insistent as the covers bounce up and down over the supine form of MICHAEL, simply MICHAEL, a composer of great renown.

 

 

UNNNNNNNNGGHHHHHH!!!!  (( MICHAEL

 

(a space of music and video, again . . . )

 

UNNNNNNNNGGHHHHHH!!!!

 

    (gasping, as Michael, winded, tries to bring it off)

 

UNNNGGGHHH.  UNNNGGGHHH.  UNNNGGGHHH.

 

     (the blanket bouncing, as on screen the images of small

      boys continue, the sound track of trivial music)

 

UNNNGGGHHH.  UNNNGGGHHH.  UNNNGGGHHH.

 

 (the blanket bouncing)

 

UUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG

     GGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

UUUUUNNNNNNGGGGGGHHHHH!!!! UNNNGGHH!!!!

UUNNGGHH!!!!  UUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNGGGGGGG

     GGGGGGHHHHHHH . . . JEEEESSUUUSSSSSSS

SSSSS HHHHHHH CCCHHRRRRR . . .

     RANCE.  RANCE.  RANCE.  DR. FERVODDDDDDDD

DDDDDDDDDDD!!!!

 

     (on screen suddenly a tall emaciated man with a skin

      condition and thick lenses, a stethoscope around his neck)

 

DR. FERRRRRRVODDDD!!!!  AAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!

 

WHAT IS IT, MICHAEL?             (( DR. FERVOD

 

 I CANNNN'TTTT GETTTTTT    (( MICHAEL

 

                                                                (wailing)

 

     HAAAAAARRRRRRRDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!

 

                                               CURTAIN

 

 

 

CHORUS (((((((((((((

 

 

What kind of shit?  My God, this play is sick.

What kind of shit?  This shit is thick.

 

I've seen more art in girlie magazines.

And who's this Michael?  Christ he screams.

 

I've seen more art in porno shows.

And who's this Michael?  Christ he groans.

 

And who's this Dr. Fervod guy?

Some mad physician?  Hear him cry?

 

I'll see it through another scene.

And if it's more the same I'LL SCREAM.

 

I'LL scream to have my money back.

But there's the lights, the next attack.

 

At least you'd think the weirdo'd come.

He'll stick some needle in his bum.

 

At least you'd think the weirdo'd shoot.

He'll tame with drugs the little fruit.

 

Bury my mind in slime, this stinks.

Bury it deep in case it thinks.

 

 

 

TWO ((((((((((((( the bedroom, moments later

 

 

Dr. Fervod is on screen.  His voice is orotund, sinister.  On the other hand, Michael has the fussy whine of a four-year-old, petulant, girlish.

 

 

What is it, Michael?                      (( DR. FERVOD

More of the same?

 

I can't get a hard on,                     (( MICHAEL

Dr. Fervod.

No matter how hard I try.

Even with the films and my favorite music.

Rance, I need my friends.

 

There won't be any of that            (( DR. FERVOD

For a while, I'm afraid.

Not till this thing with William's settled.

You know what his father said.

He's one pissed off man, that Dr. Craven.

I don't think you'll get off lightly.

 

But it's not FAIR.                         (( MICHAEL

 

Nothing's fair in this life,              (( DR. FERVOD

You know that.

 

Everything is just terrible.             (( MICHAEL

I miss my little friends.

 

I'm sure they miss you.                 (( DR. FERVOD

 

Can't I just call one?                     (( MICHAEL

Maybe Winfield.

Couldn't I call Winfield?

 

I'm afraid that's out of the            (( DR. FERVOD

Question.

Would you like me to come up?

 

What can YOU do?                       (( MICHAEL

 

Why I can give you an injection.  (( DR. FERVOD

 

Will it make me hard?                   (( MICHAEL

 

Oh no.  It won't do that.                  (( DR. FERVOD

We tried EVERYTHING for that.

 

Will it take my mind off it?             (( MICHAEL

 

It'll do that.                                      (( DR. FERVOD

I can bring you up,

Bring you down,

Or take you sideways.  Would you like to go sideways?

 

I think I'd like that.  Anything        (( MICHAEL

Would be better than this.

 

Michael, you have everything         (( DR. FERVOD

Money

Can buy.

You have constant oxygen,

Countless videos,

Every conceivable fast food,

Bodyguards,

Music.

I hate to say this, but I find you a tad ungrateful.

Michael, think of your blessings.

 

I just could cry.                               (( MICHAEL

 

(sobbing)

 

I AM crying.  I am filled with pain.

I am just a little turd of misery.

 

You want me to come up?               (( DR. FERVOD

 

All right.  Yes.  All right.                (( MICHAEL

 

You want an injection?                   (( DR. FERVOD

 

All right.  Yes.  All right.                (( MICHAEL

 

UP?  DOWN?                                  (( DR. FERVOD

 

ALL THREE.                                  (( MICHAEL

 

Coming up.  I'll be right there.       (( DR. FERVOD

 

 

The screen goes blank.  Returns to the images of LORD OF THE FLIES.  Again the insipid music.  The sound of Michael's weeping.

 

 

                                               CURTAIN

 

 

 

CHORUS (((((((((((((

 

 

I've had enough.  I'll not have more.

You'll take what comes.  He's barred the door.

 

The exit's closed?  Come on.  They'll panic.

I kind of like the way he's manic.

 

Who?  Fervod?  Certainly not his patient.

Yes, Rance.  He's nearly ancient.

 

The year, remember's, 2033.

And most are young.  And all are free.

 

Of age?  I guess that is the case.

But then perhaps it's just his face.

 

His skin is pitted, scabbed, repulsive.

This MD's frightening, odd, compulsive.

 

And what about his patient, Michael'd?

I've had enough.  This play's recycled.

 

This play is lost on my dull wit.

And pretty soon they're eating shit.

 

Some other odium on the tray.

Scabs, pustules, cankers, snot, let's say.

 

I've seen this type of script before.

These days are dim and wit's a whore.

 

 

 

THREE ((((((((((((( 3 AM, the bedroom

 

 

On screen, LORD OF THE FLIES.  Michael asleep.  Wakes. Rubs his eyes, calls out.  A squat colored woman appears on the video.

 

 

What you be wishing, Master       (( WILMA

Michael?

Sometum good to eat, hah?

Maybe a Big Mac?

Some chitterlins?

Maybe a buffalo wing or sometum.

 

Wilma?                                          (( MICHAEL

 

Yah suh?                                       (( WILMA

 

Do you hate me?                           (( MICHAEL

 

Why you be saying stupid?           (( WILMA

I be loving you half to death, Master Michael,

All you done for me

And my chillen.

Why you sends them off to privat schools and such.

And even collage for Rufus, Jr.

You has a heart of gold,

And that all to it.

I loves you, Master Michael.

Why you nearly be God on earth,

Dear Lawd forgives me.

You almost purfact.

 

Wilma, could you send Rapp up   (( MICHAEL

With a nice tray of things?

 

What you be wanting to eat,         (( WILMA

Now,

Master?

Some of the Colonel's stuff?

Some of that with the muffins and gravies?

Some Keentucki Fried cheekan?

 

Just pick out something nice.        (( MICHAEL

You know best.

You always know best, Ms. Wilma.

Oh, I'm just so depressed.

 

You wants me to call the Doc?     (( WILMA

 

Rance is sleeping, Wilma.             (( MICHAEL

The whole world is sleeping but me,

Me and Rapp and you.

Even Burt's asleep.

 

He come on at eight.                       (( WILMA

 

Well you bring up some                  (( MICHAEL

Chitterlins.

And three buffalo wings.

And some of the Colonel's.

And a fish sandwich, like Wendy's.  OK?

 

Shuh thing, suh Michael.                 (( WILMA

 

And you don't hate me?                  (( MICHAEL

 

Listen here, Master Michael.           (( WILMA

What you be doing with those little boys

Be your perrhogative.

Cause I knows in your heart you be kind and good

Even ifs you be white.

You shooh looks black.

Even your hair nappy.

And your skin—why it look nearly black all over.

Brown as Burt.

Brown as Rapp hisself.

 

Thank you, Wilma.                         (( MICHAEL

God bless you.

 

You has plentys to eat in 20           (( WILMA

Minutes,

Master Michael.

You eats yuhself to death.

I be praying you has a good run of luck too,

Master.

I be praying you sells ten million records just this week.

 

Thank you, Wilma.  Good night.    (( MICHAEL

 

 

The screen returns to LORD OF THE FLIES, the sound track to insipid.  The covers shudder as Michael commences to weep.  On the screen small boys gambol over rocks.

 

 

                                               CURTAIN

 

 

 

CHORUS (((((((((((((

 

 

This thing gets racial of a sudden.

I'd rather have him pound his puddin.

 

Pretty soon he turns to Jesus.

I'd rather have him try and please us.

 

Why should someone white be black?

Or choose the rear for his attack?

 

And choose the front for simple parley?

Or ride his mattress like a Harley?

 

This Michael—is he black or white?

Or something neutral—olive? Bwhite?

 

I've seen some hate-mail in my time.

This dialogue turns its face toward slime.

 

And soon will slander Luther King.

Or Gandhi's horse, or wife—something.

 

Suffer such drama rot in hell.

The creep that wrote it starts to smell.

 

And sniffs his farts before it's over.

Or some small boy's beneath the covers.

 

Suffer him shit or settle down,

Not root around in black OR brown.

 

 

 

FOUR ((((( the bedroom, 5:14 AM

 

 

Again, LORD OF THE FLIES and banal music.  Michael, sitting up, stares abstractedly toward the screen, calls out.

 

 

RAPP!!  RAPP, ARE YOU          (( MICHAEL

THERE?

 

What is it, Michael?                      (( RAPP

 

   (beefy type with cartridge belt over his bare chest)

 

What do you need?

 

Ring up London.  Put London      (( MICHAEL

On the link.  I want to talk to my mother.

 

But she's working, Michael.         (( RAPP

She's at the restaurant.

 

I don't care.  She's my mama       (( MICHAEL

And I have to talk to her.

 

Michael . . .                                   (( RAPP

 

Ring her up.                                   (( MICHAEL

 

 

Moments later a woman appears in a waitress uniform.  She is in her late fifties, flaming red hair, rouge, a small gold cross at her neck.

 

 

What is it, Michael?  More            (( SALLY FOREST

Trouble?

More trouble with the boys?

When are you ever going to LEARN?

 

Don't be peevish, Mommy.           (( MICHAEL

 

You shouldn't ring me at work.     (( SALLY FOREST

I've told you not to ring me at work.

 

You don't NEED to work, Mom.   (( MICHAEL

I'VE GOT MILLIONS!!!!

 

Not any more you don't.                (( SALLY FOREST

 

(looking around, right, left)

 

Hell, when they're finished with you, you'll be on the

     Street.  They got you

Where the hair's short, Michael,

And you know it.

They got your little balls in their pocket

And they're not going to let go.

Your nigger friends aren't going to help you this time.

You and your friends!

I told you it was unnatural.

Like goes with like.

White with white.

Colored with colored.

You start mixing them up you're in trouble.

I told you this would happen.

 

Mommmmmieeeee . . .                   (( MICHAEL

 

                                                               (whining)

 

You don't understand.

You simply don't understand.

 

When you started frizzing your      (( SALLY FOREST

Hair,

I knew it was the beginning of the end.

I prayed to Jesus you'd stop

But it got worse and worse.

Then you got the dye for your skin,

And then you flattened out your nose,

And then you

Got your lips bigger,

And now you look just colored, perfectly

Chocolate,

And even God couldn't take you back.

Even Jesus.

There may be time.  There could be time, Michael,

If you'd just pray.

Pray for grace.

Pray to Christ Jeeeesssuussss . . .

 

I TRIED, MOM.  I CAN'T.           (( MICHAEL

 

Well then don't be ringing me        (( SALLY FOREST

Up.  Not at work.

 

YOU DON'T HAVE TO                (( MICHAEL

WORK.

 

I don't want any of that money.     (( SALLY FOREST

I don't want none of your money.

All that money you stole from parents and their kids

  To buy your records.

 

Mommy, I'm a serious artist.          (( MICHAEL

 

(whining)

 

Jeeesus knows what's in your         (( SALLY FOREST

Heart.

And Sally Forest knows what's in your records.

They're the work of the absolute devil.

You've trapped a billion souls

With that horse dung,

That Satan faeces,

And now you'll pay through the nose.

That big flat nigger nose

You had them give you.

Weren't good enough to be white, you had to get in with

     Your betters.

Time was they was lower than whale faeces,

And now they own the earth.

So you had to get in with them.

The coloreds.

You see what it got you.

 

PLEASE, MOM!!!!!                        (( MICHAEL

 

(like a petulant four-year-old)

 

I got to wait on tables now.             (( SALLY FOREST

I got to earn my ten bob.

You pray to Jesus, hear?

 

  (her image darkens; the screen is black)

 

 

MOMMMMMIEEEEEEEE!!!!    (( MICHAEL

 

 (shaking the bed with his spasms)

 

                                             CURTAIN

 

 

 

CHORUS (((((((((((((

 

 

It's turning dark, these lines of wit.

I told you they'd be sucking shit.

 

It's turning black, this awful play.

They act like imbeciles, I'd say.

 

He says he's serious at his art.

Let's hear some, not this mindless fart.

 

I wager we'll never know what notes

Are being buried in their throats.

 

Never know the chords, the pitch.

Nor care to know, his little itch.

 

Nor know his buddies in the sack.

Nor care to know, their little cracks.

 

He's plowed the very bitch of time.

And dyed his skin to look divine.

 

This Sally Forest, then, his mother?

It's certain that he has no brother.

 

Unless he's queer like little Michael.

Our luck this play's some endless cycle.

 

Come on, we'll see the bastard out.

In time perhaps he'll turn devout.

 

 

 

FIVE ((((((((((((( the bedroom, 10:42 AM

 

 

Again, LORD OF THE FLIES, idiot music, which is interrupted by Peter Kunstler, ESQ., a handsome, graying lawyer in a pinstriped suit.

 

 

GOOD MORNING, MICHAEL.  (( KUNSTLER

 

Good morning, Mr. Kunstler.       (( MICHAEL

How are things going?

 

Not good.  Not good.                     (( KUNSTLER

Craven still wants his billion.

 

But I don't have it.  I simply         (( MICHAEL

Don't have it.

 

                                                         (begins weeping)

 

That man is horrible.  I hate him.

 

That's really beside the point.       (( KUNSTLER

He says you sodomized his son.

 

That's a lie.  That's a nasty          (( MICHAEL

Terrible lie.

I could claw his eyes out.

I could tear his skin off.  I hate him.

 

Well he says he has all the              (( KUNSTLER

Evidence

On his side.

 

You mean the photographs             (( MICHAEL

Of my . . . genitals?

 

That's part of it.                               (( KUNSTLER

 

They stormed in here at 2 AM        (( MICHAEL

And pulled me out of bed.  I think it was Friday

                                                              Last week.

They tied up Rapp and Wilma

And Dr. Fervod

And took those nasty pictures.

I cried and cried.

I'll never recover.

Those ugly ugly men.

 

There's a lot more than that,           (( KUNSTLER

Michael.

It's about time you come clean.

 

COME CLEAN?  About what?      (( MICHAEL

 

About the whole thing.                    (( KUNSTLER

After all, I've got to assess this case.

See what we're up against.

Just how far DID you go?  With William.

 

I don't know what you're talking   (( MICHAEL

About.

 

Come now, Michael.  You know    (( KUNSTLER

Damned well what I'm talking about.

Stop living in a fantasy world for once

And tell me what I'm up against

With this Craven.

He claims you went all the way.

Countless times.  Porked him in the ass.

Little William.

He says you're a pedophile, Michael.

He says you're sick.

According to Dr. Craven, his son's damaged goods.

He says you slipped it to him,

And he wants a billion up front

Or you're going to jail.

You know what that means, don't you?

 

I don't know what anything            (( MICHAEL

Means.

 

  (petulant, weeping)

 

You end up in the slammer, the      (( KUNSTLER

Big boys

Going to work on YOU.

They'll be able to drive a five ton truck up your ass,

And I mean it.

This won't be just a case of simple hemorrhoids.

This'll be big time.

They'll pork you till you drop

And go on from there.

Come on, Michael.  COME CLEAN.

 

I just had him over for dinner.         (( MICHAEL

William.  And the Disneys.

We watched the Disneys, the videos, for simply hours.

 

And that was it then?  Come on.   (( KUNSTLER

 

Well, we had a sleep-over.            (( MICHAEL

 

That's what a lot of them claim.   (( KUNSTLER

Totally innocent.  RIGHT?

 

That's the God's sacred truth.       (( MICHAEL

I mean it.

 

YOU GOT TRUTH AND LIES   (( KUNSTLER

ALL

MIXED TOGETHER

In one stinking mess.

All mixed up and festering, and this Craven's got it

Covered.

Come clean, Michael.  COME CLEAN.

What were you wearing at this

Slumber party?

What was your friend William doing?

What did the little guy have on?

 

Briefs.  White clean briefs.           (( MICHAEL

And all I did was stick my fingers

In under the waistband.

That's ALL I did.

Just slipped some fingers in under the band of his briefs

And paddled.

 

PADDLED?  WHAT'S THAT     (( KUNSTLER

SUPPOSED TO MEAN?

 

I mean paddled with the tips         (( MICHAEL

Of my fingers.

That's all.

It was totally innocent.

 

You felt him up then.                    (( KUNSTLER

 

Peter Kunstler, you're a very        (( MICHAEL

Cruel man.

 

What else did you do?                   (( KUNSTLER

 

We took turns farting and stuck    (( MICHAEL

Our heads

Under the covers.

That kind of thing.

 

This gets sicker by the minute.     (( KUNSTLER

Craven claims you porked him, Michael.

Did you go that far?

What else did you do?

 

I kissed him behind the left ear.    (( MICHAEL

 

Craven?  Sorry.  William?            (( KUNSTLER

 

You're getting me all mixed up.   (( MICHAEL

Why, William, Craven's son.

I kissed him and sucked on his earlobe,

And then I took his hand and put it in MY waistband

And had HIM paddle,

And we whispered things

And I gave him something very precious.

 

What was that, Michael?  Your    (( KUNSTLER

Wiener?

 

Wiener?  That's such an ugly         (( MICHAEL

Word, Mr. Kunstler.

 

What do you want me to say,          (( KUNSTLER

PENIS?

 

This is just awful, Mr. Kunstler.     (( MICHAEL

I'm getting a headache.

My head's throbbing, Mr. Kunstler,

And it's all your fault.

 

DID HE GRAB YOUR                  (( KUNSTLER

WIENER?

DID HE FEEL YOU UP?

STOP PUSSY-FOOTING AROUND HERE, MICHAEL.

YOUR WHOLE FUTURE'S AT STAKE.

 

He put his hand there.                     (( MICHAEL

 

WHERE?                                         (( KUNSTLER

 

On my privates.                               (( MICHAEL

 

DID HE JERK YOU OFF?             (( KUNSTLER

 

This is SO SO ugly.                         (( MICHAEL

 

Come on, Michael,                           (( KUNSTLER

DID HE JERK YOU OFF????

 

Well, sort of.                                    (( MICHAEL

And I did him.

 

                                                               (sobbing)

 

It was pure and wonderful, just like the Disneys,

And it was love and trust

And gentle and all the good things on this wicked earth.

You just don't understand.

 

AND HE CAME?                            (( KUNSTLER

 

DON'T SAY THAT!!!!                   (( MICHAEL

 

HOW THE HELL ELSE                 (( KUNSTLER

SHOULD I

PUT IT?

You're a walking euphemism, Michael.

You make Roget look like a piker.

Hell, did the youngster ejaculate or not?

 

He . . . did.                                       (( MICHAEL

As much as he could.  It was a little pearl.

 

I'm getting sick.                              (( KUNSTLER

 

Mr. Kunstler, you're my attorney.  (( MICHAEL

You're not allowed to get sick.

 

I've got my feelings, Michael.        (( KUNSTLER

I've got my OWN son.

Christ, man, this is disgusting . . .

DID YOU PORK HIM????

 

Don't SAY THAT.  DON'T SAY  (( MICHAEL

                                                              THAT!!!!

You're treating me just like Dr. Craven

And the others.

There ARE others, aren't there?

 

Lining up for a piece of the             (( KUNSTLER

Action?

You might say that.

This is serious business, Michael.

You play you pay in this world,

And Dr. Craven's just the tip of the iceberg.

 

There are others then.  Winfield?  (( MICHAEL

 

Winfield's dad.                              (( KUNSTLER

And Arthur's and Arthur's uncle.

He's on Wall Street, you know.

And Morris.  HIS DAD'S IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT.

Michael, your in deep doody.

 

This is HORRIBLE.                      (( MICHAEL

 

I think your slumber parties are    (( KUNSTLER

Over.

FINIS.  KAPUT.

They're going to nail your little ass, son,

And there's not a lot I can do about it.

 

But I can't pay ALL of them        (( MICHAEL

Even if I tried.

Just Dr. Craven, Willy's dad,

Him alone—what makes him so cruel?

A billion U.S. dollars.  Why that's simply absurd.

 

I'm going to see if it'll go             (( KUNSTLER

Down a bit.

See if the good man'll come around.

Something reasonable.

As for the others, we may get lucky.

 

YOU THINK SO?                         (( MICHAEL

 

There is a quantum of hope.          (( KUNSTLER

 

Then you're cautiously                  (( MICHAEL

Optimistic?

 

I wouldn't go that far.                   (( KUNSTLER

But I'm going to try, Michael.

After all, you're my client.

 

Thank you, Mr. Kunstler.             (( MICHAEL

Peter.

 

Pray, Michael.  Say your               (( KUNSTLER

Prayers.

 

I'll do my best.                              (( MICHAEL

 

                                                              (weeping)

 

But no more questions.  Not now.  Not ever.

 

YOU GO TO COURT,                 (( KUNSTLER

THEY'LL BE SHOWING YOUR WHAT'S-IT

     ON THE BIG SCREEN.

I'll do what I can.

I'll pray for you.

 

So long, Mr. Kunstler.                  (( MICHAEL

I LOVE you.

 

I love you, Michael.  Despite        (( KUNSTLER

Myself.

 

 

His image fades.  The room is utterly dark.

 

 

                                               CURTAIN

 

 

 

CHORUS (((((((((((((

 

 

There must be better ways than Kunstler's.

This seems a spin-off from the Munsters.

 

I half believe Mike's innocent, deranged.

Loony as tunes, ein bisschen strange.

 

I'd give a hundred to have seen the session.

With William or the camera?—most depressing.

 

The greatest composer dead or living?

'Tis just his press.  He's not THAT driven.

 

Symphonic poems, concertos, rock?

He'd rather squeeze an infant's cock.

 

I'd find this funny if it weren't so sick.

We're bound to find the going thick.

 

Michael in prison?—spare us the action.

Maybe he'll publish some retraction.

 

He's in the soup, I'm forced to utter.

For milking camels?—Willy's udder.

 

This drama doesn't sing, it stutters.

They sucked this story from the gutters.

 

 

 

SIX ((((((((((((( the bedroom, 3:15 PM

 

 

As the scene opens, Burt, the other bodyguard, is on screen.  He is likewise beefy and wears a cartridge belt over his bare chest.

 

 

MICHAEL?  Are you                     (( BURT

SLEEPING?

 

I must have dozed off.  What is      (( MICHAEL

It, Burt?

 

 (sits up in bed)

 

I got that Dr. Craven on the line.    (( BURT

I told him to go away, but he's pretty stubborn.

Says he wants to talk to you.

 

Put him on.                                      (( MICHAEL

 

 

Craven's image appears on screen.  He is a blond middle-aged man peering over reading glasses.  There are people in the background, parents, sons.

 

 

MICHAEL?                                     (( CRAVEN

Is that you, MICHAEL?

 

     (looks down at a document, then over his lenses)

 

This is Michael.  How can I help    (( MICHAEL

You, sir?

 

I was just getting tired of              (( CRAVEN

Talking

To your stooge.

I got the deposition here.  I'd like you to hear what

I have to say.

My position, so to speak.

Recognize this guy?

 

 (draws William to the screen)

 

HELLO, WILLIAM.  HOW         (( MICHAEL

ARE YOU?

 

Hello, Michael.                             (( WILLIAM

 

     (the voice is strained; he disappears into the

      background, where there is noise and confusion)

 

We're having a party here.            (( CRAVEN

You'd recognize a lot of the faces.

 

Winfield?  Arthur?                        (( MICHAEL

Are the boys there?  My little friends?

 

You could say that.                       (( CRAVEN

There's going to be a suit, you see.

 

I know about that.  You told Mr.  (( MICHAEL

Kunstler you wanted a billion dollars.

I don't have that kind of money, sir.

Even William knows that.

How IS he?

 

That's a strange question from     (( CRAVEN

You.

He's fine.  He's OK.

What's left of him.

 

Is he still my friend?                     (( MICHAEL

 

That's the part I don't quite          (( CRAVEN

Understand.

Yes, Michael.  He insisted on saying hello.

In fact, once we get all this mess

Straightened out he wants to see you.

 

SEE ME?                                       (( MICHAEL

 

That's right.  You have a real        (( CRAVEN

Hold over him.

Over all of them.

 

But what about the billion?           (( MICHAEL

 

You come across we can talk.       (( CRAVEN

We can talk about William's future.

And Winfield's.

And Arthur's.

And Morris's.

And all the other boys.

They're all here, you know.

 

But what about the money?          (( MICHAEL

The billion.

 

Just see that as a down payment.  (( CRAVEN

 

A DOWN PAYMENT?                (( MICHAEL

YOU'RE GOING TO RUIN ME.

 

Oh no, Michael.  We're not          (( CRAVEN

Going

To ruin you.

What's that old story about the goose with the golden

     Eggs?  The chicken?  Some kind of bird.

We're not going to kill the goose.

 

Then what are all those people      (( MICHAEL

There behind you?

Why are you having a party?

 

A class action suit, MICHAEL.      (( CRAVEN

EVER HEAR OF THAT?

 

I don't understand.                          (( MICHAEL

 

For the second BILLION.               (( CRAVEN

 

But this is absurd.                            (( MICHAEL

I'm simply not that wealthy.

You're going to ruin me, you are.

You're a nasty man, you are.

 

MICHAEL, I'M YOUR                  (( CRAVEN

FRIEND.

 

Some friend.                                    (( MICHAEL

 

Just tell your Kunstler stooge          (( CRAVEN

Dr. Craven's your buddy.

He just wants a piece of the action.

As payment for small Willy's cherry.

Let's put it that way.

You come across we'll talk.

We'll talk about your Disneys.

 

My Disneys?                                    (( MICHAEL

 

Oh, William told me                        (( CRAVEN

All about the Disneys.  About the whole thing.

You come across and we'll sit down

For the friendliest

Of conversations.

 

BUT YOU'RE GOING TO            (( MICHAEL

RUIN ME.

 

Fiddlesticks.  That house in            (( CRAVEN

                                                            Malibu alone

Is 20 million.

You're richer than old Bill Gates, you know.

I don't think you have the slightest

Idea how much you're worth.

We have accountants here working on it 24 hours a day.

You have more money than God.

 

THAT'S NOT FAIR.                      (( MICHAEL

IT'S A LIE AND IT'S NOT FAIR.

 

Just talk to Kunstler.  Tell him       (( CRAVEN

To be

Straight with you.

Talk to your accountants.

And call me back.

You have my number.

You call me back.

We're friends, you know.

Unless you back me into a corner.

We're buddies.

TELL YOUR KUNSTLER STOOGE YOU'RE COMING

 ACROSS.

TELL HIM YOU'RE GOOD FOR THE WHOLE

  BUNDLE.

MICHAEL, YOU'RE WORTH TWELVE BILLION!!!!!

 

But DR. CRAVEN . . .                  (( MICHAEL

 

 (sobbing)

 

YOU COME ACROSS.                (( CRAVEN

AND THAT'S FINAL.

 

                                             CURTAIN

 

 

 

CHORUS (((((((((((((

 

 

Every scene another twist.

This Craven's worse than what he kissed.

 

They all have organs, can't you see?

And not used simply just to pee.

 

That guy is giving Mike a fit.

He's got the brains to suit, the flit!

 

And what's his field, and what's the title?

Doctor of arts or math, the BIBLE?

 

Divinity could be his calling.

'Tis Michael's body that he's hauling.

 

Body or corpse, our Mike's in trouble.

With all those others trouble double.

 

They say that virtue can't be bought.

That lost it's worth more than it ought.

 

Tell Mike he'd better come across.

They'll spike his gonads, burn his cross.

 

And what about those other faggots?

Parents?  Uncles?  Sisters?  Maggots?

 

Tell Mike he's nailed and hanging tight.

No way in hell he'll get off light.

 

 

 

SEVEN ((((((((((((( Michael's bedroom, 7:53 PM

 

 

       The scene opens in total darkness.  There is the sound of weeping.  Michael calls out.

 

 

BURT.  BURT?  ARE YOU         (( MICHAEL

THERE?

 

   (Burt appears on screen)

 

What's wrong?  You OK,             (( BURT

Michael?

 

No.  Well yes.  Is Rance here?     (( MICHAEL

 

I can get him on the link.               (( BURT

 

Do that.  Please.                             (( MICHAEL

 

 (moments later Dr. Fervod's image appears)

 

How ARE you, MICHAEL?           (( FERVOD

 

Not good.  They're going to take    (( MICHAEL

Me.

 

What did Mr. Kunstler say?            (( FERVOD

 

I'm sick and tired of Mr.                 (( MICHAEL

Kunstler.

This has nothing to do with him.

He's totally out of the loop.

Craven insists on his billion, and there's a class action

Suit.

I'm better dead than alive.

 

DON'T SAY THAT.                      (( FERVOD

 

Well, it's true.                                 (( MICHAEL

 

                                                              (sobbing)

 

This thing goes through I'll be penniless.

What's going to happen to you?

 

ME?  I'll survive, Michael.             (( FERVOD

I always have.

 

But Wilma.  Burt.  Rapp.                (( MICHAEL

                                                              My mom.

The other servants.  The attendants.  The staff.

They'll be out in the street.

Rance, I'm worth a great deal more dead.

 

You can't LOOK at it that way.     (( FERVOD

 

(firing a cigarette, exhaling fumes)

 

Well, it's true.  When I'm gone      (( MICHAEL

There'll be no one to blackmail.

No one to sue.

They'll never get a dime.

 

Who's they?                                    (( FERVOD

 

Craven.  The others.  The parents,  (( MICHAEL

RANCE.

YOU know the story.  I'm in terrible terrible trouble.

 

Have you made a will?                   (( FERVOD

 

I've made at least twenty wills.      (( MICHAEL

See, you DO think it's hopeless.

RANCE, I want you to put me under.  For good,

  Rance.  I want to die.

 

When?                                             (( FERVOD

 

Right now.  I'm ready for it.           (( MICHAEL

I've prayed for simply everyone.

I've made my peace.

I have to die.  It's the only way.

 

MICHAEL?                                     (( FERVOD

 

Yes, Dr. Fervod.                              (( MICHAEL

 

In the end table to your right is       (( FERVOD

A silver box with twelve tablets.

Got it?

To your right.  There's a plastic bag in there with it.

Got them?

The bag has a tie string.  See it?

 

I'VE GOT IT, RANCE.  I've        (( MICHAEL

Got

The box and the bag.

 

 (rummaging in the drawer, pulling them out)

 

There's water there?  On the         (( FERVOD

Stand.

 

There's water and a glass of         (( MICHAEL

Whole milk.

 

Don't use the milk.  It'll coat        (( FERVOD

Your stomach.

Take out the twelve pills and swallow

Them one at a time with the water.

Can you do that?

Swallow them with the water.

 

I can't open the box.                      (( MICHAEL

I CAN'T OPEN THE BOX, RANCE!!!!

 

Calm down.  There's a catch.        (( FERVOD

See it?

See the catch?

 

I've got it.                                      (( MICHAEL

 

                                 (opening the box and shaking out the pills in his

 trembling hand)

 

Swallow them, one at a time         (( FERVOD

With the WATER.

 

One.  Two.  Three.  Four.             (( MICHAEL

FIVE.  SIX.  SEVEN.  EIGHT . . .

 

                                                         (ceasing to count)

 

OK, RANCE.  THEY'RE ALL DOWN.

 

Now put the plastic bag over        (( FERVOD

Your head

And pull the cord tight,

So that the bag's on snug.

Can you DO THAT?

 

I'VE GOT IT.                               (( MICHAEL

 

  (voice distorted by the bag)

 

Now just lay back.  Lie back         (( FERVOD

And say

Your prayers.

Say your prayers and go to sleep.

 

That's ALL THERE IS?               (( MICHAEL

 

(voice distorted, peculiar)

 

THAT'S IT.  MICHAEL, IT'S    (( FERVOD

BEEN GOOD.

 

Thank you, Dr. Fervod.                 (( MICHAEL

 

(voice like at the end of a long tunnel)

 

I love you.

 

I love you, Michael.  Goodbye.    (( FERVOD

 

 

Michael settles back on the pillow.  Fervod's image turns to black.  LORD OF THE FLIES appears on the screen, small boys cavorting among the rocks.  There is the music, late '70's, or '80's, preferably Michael Jackson's.  Minutes pass.  The door opens, stage rear, and Michael's staff files in, one by one, Wilma, Burt, the others.  They circle the bed and kneel in prayer.  There is the sound of quiet lamentation.  Small boys cavort, fast forward, rewind search, play, on the large blond rocks.

 

 

                                               CURTAIN

 

 

 

CHORUS (((((((((((((

 

 

Sad, I'd say.  I hadn't thought it.

Sad, sad.  I hadn't known it.

 

He sleeps, I guess, or wakes eternal.

No devil there, nothing infernal.

 

Why couldn't we have a happy end?

Something more like the recent trend.

 

He'd marry, raise a family.

Craven'd come down eventually.

 

The other suit—they'd call it off.

He'd live forever.  Wait!  I heard him cough.

 

No, son.  That was a stage hand.

Michael's asleep.  This thing was planned.

 

Or actual?  I doubt if stories are this true.

In life some inmate'd ram him through.

 

Perish the thought.  This thing is quiet.

Gentle.  Kind.  No garish riot.

 

I half believed he'd kill the lot.

Some century his!  The battles fought

 

In a four post bed under plastic film.

We die!  The message is that thin.

 

 

                                               FINIS

 

                                            1997