for Allan Brick
ACT ONE SCENE ONE ((((( a foreign city, perhaps Antioch, 353 BC
An estate somewhat outside the city and near a village; the dining room, a low table, cushions, as Somnis serves, Rath and his two sons addressing their supper.
RATH OF ANTIOCH ((((( the father, 54, flushed, gray hair and beard
JARAS ((((( eldest son, 33, balding, fat, effeminate, red hair, beard, soiled clothing, a flatterer
GONT ((((( second son, 29, slender, nervous, carping, clean-shaven, longish hair, theatrical effeminate clothing
SOMNIS ((((( elderly serving woman, essentially a dull beast, but more observant than one would first surmise; she stands off to the side, hands folded, as the others eat
Indulge yourself with flesh, (( RATH
(at the head of the table, a sword at his knees)
Grilled lamb and sheep?
Somewhere Ordar's eaten
By a sleep,
No sleep of mine,
For he burns in my memory.
And ours, my father. (( JARAS
(speaking with mouth full, gesturing with a bone)
Speak for yourself. I miss him (( GONT
(scarcely touching his food)
Sorry enough this dull time (( RATH
To breed such rancor at the innocent.
Wisely said, my father. (( JARAS
I share your sorrow.
Flatterer. (( GONT
You'd slash his belly for a smile.
And suck his blood
And fatten on the corpse.
What can it matter now? (( RATH
The lad is dead.
Quit of the earth like his mother all these years.
I simply know it.
As well as you know (( GONT
His innocence. You know nothing.
I know he's dead. (( RATH
You know nothing. (( GONT
No word for seven years? (( RATH
Nothing. (( GONT
To have vanished such . . . (( RATH
Not the slightest trace.
At times I can't recall his voice, his stride, his
Hardly a deficit. (( GONT
You hate him so? (( RATH
It's not becoming. (( JARAS
Don't sicken me, my brother. (( GONT
You loathe him with the same rude passion.
A third of our accustomed comfort has him,
Serving the needs of whores
And gamesters here to Galilee,
And you would urge your love?
Had mother been alive she'd
Brought an old man to his senses
Grant a third of his estate
To an adolescent
And grieve him in his absence, even now each
To ruin THIS son's supper
With his whining,
Seven loyal years after the fact.
Loyal, I remind you, Rath, my father,
Even that slug across the table, even Jaras,
(indicating his brother)
More to be minded than an apparition,
Than a boy's deceit.
This whole topic disgusts me.
(pushing aside his plate, standing)
You haven't touched your (( RATH
You'd have me fed, then take (( GONT
Not bray about
Your long lost son.
He's long left off where we've begun.
Come. Sit. (( RATH
We'll have no more of Ordar.
Yes. Sit. (( JARAS
A son obeys his father.
Ass. (( GONT
(regaining his cushion)
I will sit out of respect,
But I will take no food.
My appetite is ruined.
Perhaps a bit of sweets? (( RATH
Somnis, bring in
Something more to the boy's taste.
(Somnis stirs, half hearing; Gont shakes his head)
No candy? Perhaps a girl from out the village?
Is that to suit?
Somnis, the boy would like a wench.
(she stirs again)
And Jaras—look, he licks lips
At the thought.
A blaze of skin,
Bright belly, breasts.
Two bachelors are my sons.
I'd have it otherwise.
Imagine ankles, calves—ascending—thighs.
(lechery in his voice)
Some musk kinship of the flesh.
A darker secret.
Drips when the tongue addresses heat.
(Somnis exits through the curtain)
When fruit's addressed the flesh is sweet.
But listen . . .
What is that sound in the darkness?
(they look about in silence)
I hear nothing. (( GONT
If only he had (( RATH
Sent me his child . . . a son.
He's long left off, what you've (( GONT
All of you breaking my heart. (( RATH
My name is lost . . .
(his voice shatters; Somnis enters with a bowl of fruit)
Such theater! (( GONT
A third of your estate is ALL it cost.
You'd have a chaste son fornicate
To purchase some plump darling for your grip
Or marry prematurely, cup to lip.
Some food you've served us on this plate!
Brother, mind your father. (( JARAS
And my father's business. (( GONT
'Tis enough to turn the tale of some weak scribe
For bitch of sorts to swallow,
This tragedy of Rath
And Ordar, the long lost son.
Perhaps the plot is hard to follow.
A mother dead upon the ingrate's birth.
A mother dead and in the earth.
Such poison I've bred. (( RATH
To live to hear it? Foul.
I bid you cease.
The man needs comfort, not (( JARAS
Then have him love (( GONT
His rightful sons, to please.
No more of cankers and despair.
A third of his estate and not a prayer. And not
Come, Gont, move your bones.
(standing, heading off past Somnis to the exit)
I'll eat the wind for what the wind atones.
And drown in some fair Greek like Sophocles.
And kept YOUR books and slaved
When I was destined for a scholar.
I'll eat the wind and night.
And blind myself on greatness by a taper.
Tomorrow's slavery for a fool
Who dotes on what he's lost.
A third of your estate is what it cost.
Don't mind (( JARAS
(in a wheedling voice)
Your second son. He truly loves you.
I scarcely love myself. (( RATH
Too much of me is dead to even care.
A bit of lamb will sooth your (( JARAS
(raises food to his own lips)
You've never had the problem. (( RATH
Eating as such.
I've lost a son. Lost three. Lost much.
ACT ONE SCENE TWO ((((( further east, a brothel in Kayos
Here in the toilet of the city's brothel, Ordar, the lone attendant, addresses the needs of the local clientele.
ORDAR ((((( Rath's youngest son, the prodigal, 23, bloated, hair falling out in patches, rash over his exposed skin, gravely ill, having the appearance of a man of 50 in extreme dissipation; marked tremors, bitter sarcastic voice, dark hair, features
KOMOS ((((( approximately the same age as the prodigal, handsome, dark, virile, Ordar's double without the effects of dissolution and disease
TWO ANONYMOUS MALES
As the scene opens, Ordar is alone in this dismal setting, attending to his towels, his basins, the open stalls, a trough for urination. Stage right, a curtained exit through which come laughter, music, muffled voices.
Reduced to this at 23 (( ORDAR
(looking upward and outward toward the audience from a bench center stage)
With all my promise.
My body reeks with the same decay
As cloys these toilet stalls,
The trough where old men leak their juice,
Only to fall asleep drunkenly the coming eve
With lawful guts,
Their sanctioned whores, and—worse—far worse,
With tainted innocence, a girl, a wife,
No match for
Sucking lips that tease fierce appetite
Down to the throat
Such is the bargain
Of this street, this house,
Cheap labor in the flesh.
Jagged abscess awaits the spirit.
I am consumed,
Ordar in Kayos,
The youngest son of Rath,
A goodly man
Whose only harm was misplaced generosity
To vest a third of his estate
On callow youth
Who squandered all in seven years of riot,
Only to watch its progress
And lately clean,
All eaten by an itch, sick as the mouth of Satan,
That grips all heart
And spews me here before you, stern Jehovah,
Begging no pity
But an easy end,
Cessation of his torment,
Feeding on despair,
Who slept a time ago on stark white linen
In a rich man's house,
And woke to servants
And a life of ease.
Commute my pain, Maker of all mankind.
My soul's far worse
Than my disease.
I'm crippled by the thought of my own tongue.
Here now I'm base.
To think a father gazed upon this face!
(a male enters, stands at the trough, accepts a basin, towel, drops change in a metal cup)
THANK YOU, SIR.
(another male enters, leaves, depositing a coin)
AND YOU. ALL THANKS.
A loud burst of laughter from the other room, at last silence, complete silence; Ordar, curious, crosses to the exit, parts the curtain, glances outward; sinks suddenly to his knees, gathers up, returns to the bench.
Dear God, an apparition!
There among the crowd a boy to dazzle all their
And sitting at the gaming table.
What fierceness grips me here
In this infected house?
'Tis much as if I eyed my own cleansed visage
In a mirror.
The image of my youth and yet . . .
But this is boundless mystery . . . some seven
And they shouted his name. Yes.
I heard it in the din.
My soul has fled
To some clean wench that mothered
Such a lad, as if she were my own, fairest
Of Antioch, that struggled with my birth
Until they cut her I might live.
Here in this house my double.
Sans scabs and cankers.
Even the hair is right.
Even the hands, the eyes.
Verily my double. If I looked 23, my ACTUAL age.
Is this a curse upon my lot, an anguish?
Must life engender,
Much as Greeks would urge,
Real as my hand,
Some endless duplication?
I burst with dizzy exultation,
As if the strangest fantasy
Were just beyond that curtain, smiling at a whore,
Some mother's innocent
About to be reversed.
Here, I'll look again.
(crosses, parts the curtain)
There, he lifts a glass.
It is my very own gesture.
Some wayward thrust of destiny has brought
Yoked to my own cruel fate.
Will it or not, he's poor enough
To cast his lot with me.
I frame a proposition.
Give the man health and hope,
A cleanly bed
And all I'll do is vanish. Observe from the very
He hastens to my thoughts and purpose,
Stands, begs leave,
And crosses toward this curtain.
Some mad and unknown pattern
Grips our lives.
It seems our seed was wasted,
Yet the seed survives.
Here, chance, you have made us both a winner.
Child at the edge of sin
Would couple with himself, the rankest sinner.
(Komos enters, stands at a mirror, adjusts his gown, and primps, guardedly)
Here, boy, a dracma. (( KOMOS
Give me some notion of this place.
Is there disease?
Sickness of flesh and spirit. (( ORDAR
You'll find more than mischief in these halls.
There's better sport
In your small village
Than you'd find in Kayos.
Would you eye the danger, look
Upon my face.
Perhaps you see your self.
See myself in that rank mask? (( KOMOS
Even your lips are eaten.
Ah yes. But look closely. (( ORDAR
It seems (( KOMOS
(brings his face closer, recoils, startled)
I eye some wreckage of myself.
We seem to know each other by a strange mistake.
You are my double, doubly eaten.
I'll abandon this sick house upon the instant.
There is too much message
A young tradesman, in search of an old whore,
Who turns and remarks
His image in a glass.
Stricken to have it move and speak and vex
His very blood.
'Tis more than odd.
Add 30 years to this today, and I am doubled.
I'll quit this house
And not be troubled.
There is a stink about this man that mimics my
It seems I smell myself
Even in your very gesture.
Rank soul, you speak my voice and eye my glance.
This is a shudder of a dance.
The dancers fester.
(makes to leave)
Wait. (( ORDAR
There is profit to your recognition.
You eye your soul!
I'll speak to your condition.
There is a bond that buries your distaste.
Be to the point. (( KOMOS
I'll speak in haste. (( ORDAR
ACT ONE SCENE THREE ((((( the house of Rath
The dining room, Rath standing at the head of the table, which bears the remains of the morning meal. He reads from a scroll while Somnis stands to his left and front by the table, facing out from center stage, hands folded, a countenance at once dull and long-suffering, the measureless patience and stupidity ascribed, perhaps unfairly, to a woman of her caste and age.
Confusion reigns, (( RATH
(setting his sword on the table)
Not simply in my heart,
But, suddenly, here in my own house.
This day I have my son—ah yes, my body bursts
With fearsome joy,
Drenched with gratitude and tears that Ordar lives.
Somnis, old woman, I can't deny it.
And yet . . . and yet, here
In my very breast there is a serpent.
As if my heart were skewed
Toward vast extreme . . . Witness its open mouth!
He wills he might return
And begs forgiveness.
My cheeks are seared by broad unseemly bliss.
That such a son were dead
And now survives,
And, better, begs to hasten to my house and here
To stay forever!
Somnis, it is here in this brief letter.
But just as well, is something stranger
Than the fate which took him
From me . . . Oh, hideous!
This whelp would set conditions on his love—
Ah God, the very thought!
Speaks of his servant Komos,
A man infected by the venal curse,
The pus and suppuration
Of a life of plunder in a foreign city.
Some foulest whoreson dog
That has him in his debt by loyalty
Of service, so steadfast
Even my darling Ordar
Can't cast him out to founder in the juices of his lot
But means that I might add him to our staff,
At least ensure his livelihood
With some small pension,
Or—here is his greatest hope—assign, his very words,
Some MODEST QUARTERS for this beast
In our own house
Until his sickness wanes
And he can manage on his own . . . or this . . .
Mark this . . .
Tend to our estate WITH ALL HIS WISDOM. Earned,
EARNED through years of suffering
Granting to Rath, the father,
The same sound ministrations
That he rendered to his son
Just at the margin of a terrible misfortune,
Only to profit from a miscreant's advice
And very visage
And recoil to pen this scroll
In guilt and lamentation.
Ordar, my son, who squandered his estate
In breach of piety
And sense, in wasteful ventures, speculation,
Pleading to come on home
With one condition, simply one, a trifle of a kind.
That this same horror abide with us,
This touchstone, recollection,
A man, simply a man,
As Ordar puts it,
That means to have SOME LODGING IN THE HOUSE OF
(shouts the last, tosses the scroll away from him, across the table)
Master, you seem troubled. (( SOMNIS
Troubled . . . (( RATH
(incredulous laughter, punctuated by sobs)
My God, I cannot laugh or weep.
But the purpose is foreign to me. (( SOMNIS
You seem all muddled.
This news . . . is it good or bad?
As bad as good can be. (( RATH
Make some sense of this in your dim psyche.
Should I honor this wretch with some
Or drop him from the earth?
Better . . . What sort of fate is this
For some poor father
To retain his calm at this fierce bastardy?
Better . . . Where does an idiot receive
Come now, Somnis, tend to this, you know me well.
I'd say the lad wants to come (( SOMNIS
THAT simple . . . (( RATH
And wants to bring a friend. (( SOMNIS
His closest advisor.
Advise me then. (( RATH
A wall confronts you, and you note a vista.
Advise me out of the very
Of your profundity.
Duty calls you, my Somnis.
I'd say (( SOMNIS
(she says this ponderously, studying her broad gnarled hands)
Greet him at the door
With some compassion.
And give up the back bedroom for the friend,
For this . . . this . . .
Komos. (( RATH
The back bedroom then . . . hah!
You astound me.
But bring it gently to your (( SOMNIS
They just might be put a bit at sorts
With all their gratitude.
Broach it gentle.
You tend to strain
Their natural resources.
I've often seen you harsher than
Your feelings let.
They love you dearly,
And you're often rude.
What have I got here, wench? (( RATH
(holds up three fingers)
Why, three fingers. (( SOMNIS
'Tis plain enough.
And this? (( RATH
(holds up four)
Why four fingers. (( SOMNIS
'Tis very plain. No more.
Three sons and an old whore. (( RATH
You profane yourself. Don't (( SOMNIS
Woman, you have no children. (( RATH
I know an old man, (( SOMNIS
And I know his sons.
Jaras, who leeches my heart (( RATH
To lie about in sloth
With no addition?
Gont who tends my books and my estate
Bordering on sedition?
Ordar lately writing from a dark sojourn in Kayos,
Mute silence seven years
That wrenched my heart
With fierce contrition.
(gesturing toward the table)
And now . . . what make you truly
Of this strange request?
Come, lady, some sage advice for your poor master.
Open the gates
Of your weighty soul and flood your Rath with light.
If this is morning
I must dread the night.
(she makes to speak)
Wait! Consider that I'm hungry for real thought.
If four is what you've got it (( SOMNIS
To set some quibble
On a plain addition.
Fate offers extras often by tradition.
I know I'll need help
With the chores.
Just write your son and tell this Komos . . .
He needn't bring his whores.
Mercy. (( RATH
You make more sense than purpose.
With wit like that
What might brain purchase? Where's Jaras, Gont?
Come, send for two lads
About to be diseased.
If mine's an ache, then theirs's a squeeze.
ACT ONE SCENE FOUR ((((( the dining room, Rath's house
Here Jaras and Gont begin their argument stage right and move in the course of it to front and center and a resolution. It is late evening.
Here, fatty, (( GONT
(waving the scroll at Jaras's face)
What do you make of this foul news?
It is (( JARAS
My father's bent and not for us to choose.
YOUR father? And where is (( GONT
The man contrived to sire us (( JARAS
And therein lies all honor. (( GONT
Certainly not the message he penned this morning
Hot on the heels of this arrival.
(waving again the scroll; his voice is strident)
DEAR son, my long lost son,
I will embrace you.
And fetch your worthy friend to slumber
In the hinter room.
All is, of course, forgiven.
No further commerce on the subject.
Jaras, your eldest brother, weeps with boundless joy.
And Gont, poor boy, could scarcely be
Come now, fat one with the greasy lips,
You stood to hear it read as well as me.
Never a murmur of protest phrase by phrase,
That quick infection in our hearts.
Where will you be
With all your flattery on the morrow?
Ordar eats our joy and just reward even at a distance.
EVEN with some suppurated whore.
You say you're pleased?
Come, tell me more.
The man did sire us both. (( JARAS
I hang upon his judgment.
Then hang upended like the (( GONT
Such IS his judgment.
(backing Jaras off toward center stage)
This agitation stems (( JARAS
Simply from deception.
You'll speak no word at his reception,
Plant kisses on the bleeder's face,
Finger belly, neck, trace
Each utterance with a smile.
Gont, you'll leech at the fount like me.
Our father's harsh,
Affords in this no contradiction.
You'll bite your lip and bend and kneel
And dote on him and squeal.
The wheel has turned.
And turns again. (( GONT
I know you'll get the feel. (( JARAS
Of all this turning.
Besides, where was your fierce disaffection
At this morning's dotage?
You stood there married to the selfsame art.
With all your carping
At an old man's folly, you know the man
And recognize resolve
And know his bent.
He loves the sender more than what was sent.
And even suckled on the proposition.
Come, be frank.
Ah well, (( GONT
You have me fairly well in focus.
Sad . . . 'tis sad . . .
Gont, mark this coming time (( JARAS
With equal caution.
A third of our estate
In some whore's belly,
And he writes
Such impudence as bring his pimp to eat our supper?
Two thirds remain
For Order to divest.
Come now, I think you see it plain enough.
Marshal what little love
You have for me if not yourself.
It's time we're married to our interests.
Time trickles from our fingers
Toward the very roar of retribution.
We've served him ill.
This dogged enmity is no solution.
Hear this, old scandal,
All that you hate in me could serve you well
And serve to thrust Rath's Ordar into hell.
What a hateful task to love (( GONT
Hate HIM in turn. (( JARAS
And this other thing (( GONT
That attends him, this . . .
Komos? (( JARAS
I think there is education to be mastered there.
A weakness of a sort. (( GONT
In short . . . (( JARAS
The impudence of this prodigal (( GONT
To set conditions
On release from deepest
A wayward past,
Such excess only hinted to his Rath,
To wring from that proud man a place
For abscess in his house,
And nearly equal footing, Komos
With his sons . . .
There is no
To it. And then it calls to mind interrogation,
An itch of curiosity
At such a man
And what would constitute his boundless
Grip on Ordar.
Komos, in fine, a paradox . . . but then . . .
Seven years of absence is a mighty void to fill
With explanation, rightly
In time forthcoming,
To fill the selfsame void in a father's heart.
And if the boy be mute
Why then . . . why then . . .
We pump his Komos . . . (( JARAS
For a father's benefit and ours. (( GONT
Some rank edification (( JARAS
For an old man's brain
Teased by his homage to the purest memory,
His youngest son,
Defiled in truth,
As truth will out from one raw bag of guts,
This curious advisor
Who will settle in our midst
And forfeit at last all caution . . .
By our tender solicitude. (( GONT
And Rath's rude manners (( JARAS
Toward his foul intrusion.
And leave us again, (( GONT
Sitting atop the wheel.
Brother, a brother's kiss. (( JARAS
(they embrace, join lips)
I guess I get the feel. (( GONT
ACT TWO SCENE ONE ((((( the brothel in Kayos, again, the toilet
As the scene opens, Ordar has just received his father's letter. He paces back and forth before the bench and stalls, his face mirroring an extreme range of emotions.
TWO ANONYMOUS MALES
I am caught (( ORDAR
(gesturing with the scroll, pausing now and again to reread)
Between the tines of my own fork.
Here, what I had greatly hoped—
Accedes to a son's demands
And promises a quarters
For the servant, truest son, Ordar by proper name,
In his own house,
While Komos, the counterfeit,
'Tis a mix of vast proportions . . . Rath grudges
His truest son
Lodging and, caught by that son's deceit,
Bestows upon the double his embrace!
Come, make sense
Of this yourself, broad Fate.
Ordar is called on home with a double's pretty face,
The lure toward his father's arms,
KOMOS to be forgiven,
Ordar himself endured.
My heart would leap in some ungainly bliss,
Tears burn anguished cheeks
Transformed by altered circumstance toward broad
Had only I myself been granted
This very grace which Komos reaps
By my deception.
Yes, I will have a house . . . and yet . . .
Perhaps in time some truest honor, home,
When sickness relents
And I can make full known to Rath this strange
Then, having regained to some degree
My former appearance,
Enough, by stealth and wit,
To make him oust the double from his heart
And reclaim his truest heir.
Till then I eat a bitter fruit
Each day I live to see Rath lavish all upon a prayer
That son himself exists.
In truth his Ordar's eaten.
Sharp irony that all must turn on Komos
In the end.
I've cast a shadow of myself in that fair form.
The greatest danger in this life is to be born.
This man is cold, his shadow warm.
I see (( KOMOS
(entering from stage right curtain)
You bear a scroll, some recency of message.
Is it your father's?
I'll take (( ORDAR
This time to measure his resolve.
(then to Komos)
More yours than mine. You see my agitation.
Come. Be more direct. (( KOMOS
What course has taken us?
He'll have you back, (( ORDAR
Ordar, his rightful son.
And Komos? (( KOMOS
(sitting down on the bench; a male enters, stands at the trough, leaves)
What says this Rath of Komos,
The trusted friend?
As our request. I'm in. (( ORDAR
Why then he's bought it. (( KOMOS
True. That much. (( ORDAR
You act distressed. (( KOMOS
The path is clear.
Dear Ordar (( ORDAR
Newly coined in this harsh world,
He'll have me servant, you his son.
These galaxies that whirled above our birth
Are now conjoined,
Each to each other's fate. And yet our task
Has just begun.
You'd be my mask against a father's prying eyes,
You'd know my past, each tangle,
This scroll would frame an angle, no solution.
Short time remains for Ordar, newly bound,
That he might flourish in the house of Rath.
Two brothers eye us for the merest slip.
You have his grace, secure your grip.
Security (( KOMOS
(another male enters, leaves)
You've promised to provide.
At every turn there by my side
To jog a lapse in memory or contrition.
Your father's faith prevails
Against two sons and their sedition.
Real anguish blinds the hungry
When blood's an appetite.
Then pain will promise, seldom slight.
You get my meaning?
We could strut in there with signs
About our necks
And Rath would swoon and wash our feet
And scar his fingertips on God
And find it hardly odd
That up is down and hope despair,
And find you there
Find me, your double, simply Ordar,
A long lost son,
Even a whit more comely for the waiting,
And Komos, BY NAME, the truer son,
Obscene, a necessary evil,
And call me saint
And you the devil, and suffer
Your two brothers' contradictions no more
Than meets our own,
Such as we are,
Surcease of his afflictions,
My flesh, my comely visage,
And find me heir
No matter what their message.
'Tis not the truth but wishing that's on trial.
I'll blind him with a wink,
And simply smile
When sight's in focus.
No eyes see truly from the heart.
The brain is bent. His FEELINGS chart.
Well spoken in the broadest (( ORDAR
Jaras I fear but IN his heart
And Gont in his invention.
Should their natural enmity hold
Against each other,
Brother to brother,
Invention, heart, will cancel in two siblings' strife.
Our bond can't shatter
When their own jealousy is rife and unforgiving.
And hate each other more (( KOMOS
Than that you're living.
Time (( ORDAR
(moving closer to embrace Komos, who backs off)
Changes little in our mortal bent.
If age brings us to wisdom
Then a hearse was sent.
The driver has uncertain teeth
And jagged smiles and no relief
For doddering stiffs who bribe him with the tip.
Time spares us little, man; secure your grip
On fortune's instant, this wriggle here today.
Youth hollers, drools, and then it learns to pray
Sans wit, teeth, breath.
I've guaranteed you warmth, comfort, a bed,
Even honor, and when it's all said
And done, love, a place of substance in the house of Rath,
Bones of two brothers. Navigate the path.
I won't bring myself to touch (( KOMOS
But we're in this together.
Embrace my ITCH. (( ORDAR
Let prophets live forever.
ACT TWO SCENE TWO ((((( a bedroom in Rath's house
Jaras reclines on a cot, half naked, in twilight, pulling shreds from the carcass of a lamb, as Pratel stands, hands astride his hips in girlish fashion, observing at a distance.
PRATEL ((((( a young boy
Come, Pratel, join me on this (( JARAS
I'll make it worth your trouble.
You're doubly (( PRATEL
(his voice still a girl's)
Deceived by a pretty carcass.
And lick your fingers after every
Look at that hole, your mouth,
No comely picture,
More like a leper's scar.
You're an old woman, Jaras,
That you are.
Come now, (( JARAS
(waves him closer with a hand)
Small wench, I'll make you giggle.
What trinkets would you have from me today,
Perhaps a scarf for your gray mother,
Fresh blossoms for a
Or sandals for your brother?
Come, you tempt me
With a twitch.
Come share this lamb and calm my itch.
(gesturing toward his lap)
I saw a bird this morning. (( PRATEL
It was so bright of plumage! I'd hoped
To catch it for my cage
And hear it sing
Each morning when the sun strikes,
And preen and sit upon my shoulder.
It's voice was most peculiar.
Jaras, I'd have a bird.
A bird? (( JARAS
Oh . . . please. (( PRATEL
A bird then. (( JARAS
What terrible extravagance!
(plucking again from the carcass, lifting shreds to his mouth)
I'd say that birds were meant to fly at large
And not be settled
In to chirp for small boys' pleasure.
The cage . . . is large or small?
And dear . . . or cheap?
Perhaps you'll need another.
Small and not dear, (( PRATEL
Perhaps like my own house.
He'd share his quarters with two sisters
Who are simple, unadorned.
Perhaps they'd fight.
Then have them warned. (( JARAS
Come, sit here. Come, sit down. Such pretty lips
To complement your chatter.
Your mother's fairer than the man who had her.
(waving him closer)
What sort of bird would you enjoy?
Lovely of feathers (( PRATEL
With a pretty voice.
A preening thing
That startles when it sings even to such
That hates all joy and laughter.
But makes him pay (( JARAS
For what he's after.
I suppose you feed them . . . (( PRATEL
There is nothing in this world (( JARAS
That doesn't eat.
Here, lad, by my side.
Come, have a seat.
(Pratel sits; Jaras takes his hand)
I swear your skin is browner every day.
Come, show me where it's whiter.
(Pratel extends his legs)
Ah yes, your ankles, thighs.
Even your wrists would torment some cold saint.
What then if MISCHIEF
Gazed upon your eyes?
Uncle, have you a pretty (( PRATEL
Your brother Gont has such
Bracelet? (( JARAS
And four rings. (( PRATEL
Such appetite for a young lad. (( JARAS
A bird and then a cage to suit.
Then in the next breath bracelets, rings.
The price of fruit has risen.
'Tis much the nature of the beast
To decorate his prison.
(the boy withdraws his hand)
And preen before the slaughter.
And bugger his own daughter.
And laugh, and play the wit, and dance
Before all hell erupts.
Nothing disrupts his pleasure, even death.
His last breath will stink
Of wine and garlic.
He'll take that shudder for a frolic
And thank his God for colic
When the judgment's cancer
And hire the digger for a dancer
And chuckle as he rots
And fondle even worms
With his foul greed
And never seem in need or lacking.
Follow him to dust,
We'd still endure his revel with the atoms,
Particles of pleasure,
Taking his lechery at leisure.
Beyond that is afterlife and further riot.
We're given few reports,
And yet we can't be sure it's quiet
Where he's gone
Until we track him.
Four rings. (( PRATEL
(making to stand)
And a bracelet. And a bird.
And a cage. (( JARAS
(pulling him back, fondling his hair)
I'll gild it.
Is a duck a bird? (( PRATEL
A bird by all description. (( JARAS
But it doesn't sing. (( PRATEL
Not with melody.
Pratel, there are birds that (( JARAS
You're teasing. (( PRATEL
Scream as if on fire. (( JARAS
Just listen to the crow.
All manner of birds then. (( PRATEL
Here below. (( JARAS
Like Pratel in his cage.
I sang my heart to death
At your young age, even for a kiss.
'Tis the same gesture—laughter, grief.
Life presses such with gaining years.
We eye our laughter in a glass,
At last our tears.
A smile, a sob—the same spasm.
Between desire and its fulfillment, the natural state,
An empty chasm.
Fulfillment lasts an instant
Toward an itch. Poor man-un-kind,
He rides an ache till aching has him,
All noble thoughts
To the same raw bitch, Pleasure—four rings,
A bracelet, bird, a cage.
Small wonder that the truest thought is rage.
Pratel, you're young, and I'm no sage.
(fondling the small boy's hair)
Here, just for now, (( PRATEL
I'll let you kiss my hand.
(and then withdraws it, bounces to his feet)
PERHAPS a sage would understand
Your awful speeches.
Time leaches past my bed,
And children need their sleep.
Fondle your own disease tonight.
Four rings, a bracelet, cage, THIS bird's in flight.
I'll have my sleep
And you your appetite.
(exits through the curtain)
A willful lad and such a pity. (( JARAS
To think that Ordar left us for the city!
I'm hot for fever, cold for rage.
And gelded by a bird from my own cage.
Pratel will bleed me till I vanquish
The purpose wanders, but the path is straight.
(lifts lamb to eat)
ACT TWO SCENE THREE ((((( on the road
They are both on foot.
We'll rest for now. (( ORDAR
(taking a seat on the earth)
We're nearing Antioch.
I won't complain but I am caught with mixed
This road I traveled once to church
While visiting an aunt in yonder village.
The wench was sullen, hard to please,
And beat me twice
Into submission. I was a proud lad
And prone to tease my elders.
My father WASN'T prone
To spare the rod,
As if the path were more direct to God
When spurred to the task by ripened pain.
I never thought I'd pass
This way again.
(Komos joins him)
Let's see, (( KOMOS
Your oldest brother is Jaras, 33, born
In the early spring.
The youngest's Gont and 29,
Born in the summer.
There is a servant, Somnis, with a maidenhead,
Unless she's dead
Or long gone out to pasture.
And if she's present I should ask her
If her brother's still alive,
Older by a year
And generous to a fault,
Isaac his given name, a weighty Jew in virtue
And in patience,
Whose masonry repaired the great stone arbor
By your mother's grave.
And ask of her father, who was born a slave,
Not that he lives
But that he surely prospers in her heart.
I put the ass before the cart?
Quite straight (( ORDAR
And to the purpose.
And purchase my brother's favor with some tidbits
From the past.
Don't wait for them to ask.
They'll frame some fugitive story,
To spell you out as truly Ordar
If the chance permits.
By taking the early lead you'll spurn such shifts
And earn their trust
If not their love.
The latter is said to dwell above us, Rath's estate,
Where sun bleeds rain and rain breeds crops,
Some 20,000 hectares tops,
And mind that figure well.
Minus the third my father had to sell.
You had such wealth? (( KOMOS
'Tis arid land in truth, young (( ORDAR
But still . . . (( KOMOS
In seven years (( ORDAR
It trickled through my fingers.
A thousand harlots stooped
To snare the dust.
I have had my share of rutting.
Much benefit it served you . . . (( KOMOS
Enough to guide my double (( ORDAR
To his fortune.
(stands, crosses to a wall, and urinates, back to the audience)
My manhood's still intact to serve this function.
Though should I shake it with some vigor
It could well drop off.
God man, you disgust me. (( KOMOS
Rather than trust (( ORDAR
(turning back, adjusting his gown)
A whore, you'd better service yonder tree.
Water a wall
Or piddle in a brook.
'Tis more than manhood that these fingers shook.
I'm rife with every known companion
That the living taste.
My skin's a carpet where the living HIDE.
The hell that greets me better open wide for all
Of servants and advisors.
They say that Satan is in truth a wench
God cast from grace,
Once upon a nasty disposition.
That sinners enter from her lower parts.
If hell's a cut, I'd like to size hers.
I hope you follow that.
Had I not tasted (( KOMOS
Seven months your bile
You'd shocked me yet.
What does it take a wronged man to forget?
Perhaps an hour if his heart (( ORDAR
I've wronged myself,
Am bound eternal to the same great wheel.
It spins so slow I scarcely feel the shift.
You only catch the drift
Of my misfortune.
There is a darkness to my venture greater than all
This face, it fouls the air.
I'd curse God truly,
And he'd take it for a prayer.
There, (( KOMOS
Cease this cavil with an angry fate.
We'll shortly eat.
You'd tempt the plate.
Somewhere someone's praying for your soul,
Perhaps your father.
He prays for you. (( ORDAR
With me, why bother?
'Tis true enough he loves a long lost son.
You match the image
That his brain has spun
Upon a letter,
Guided by an aching heart.
Just mind his sword, the edge is sharp.
This fabric can be sliced
By chance misstep or slip of tongue.
You'd have his dotage
Take him young.
You've said the man is likely (( KOMOS
But stout enough to cut (( ORDAR
Some large uncouth mistake. I cannot vouch
What path HIS wrath
We've got a day, a half a day, to bone up
On our lessons.
Then fill me in again (( KOMOS
On his obsessions.
There's simply one. (( ORDAR
He fears his name might vanish from the earth.
You prey on that, he'll trust your birth.
Stick to the meat that lurks
Between your thighs.
And tried by that, he'll try you on for size.
He'd have an heir. He sired a navel.
Two sons can't get it up, and one was able,
But slain by Cain, his very double.
Rath's all for rutting,
Take the trouble.
In time you'll SIRE your way into his heart.
But mind his sword. The edge is sharp.
'Tis then a swordsmanship (( KOMOS
He'd have his heir as quickly as a wriggle.
We're doubly BLESSED,
The case already settled in the courts.
Come. (( ORDAR
Off to my father's house, his wrath, my order.
Your sentence is a lass.
Forget my past . . .
You'll simply court her.
(they stand and exit stage left; moments later, Ordar reappears)
And court my larger purpose in the end.
I'll have you ousted, friend.
But first all loyalty to cheats
And have Rath leap for joy at our deceits!
ACT TWO SCENE FOUR ((((( Rath's house, the dining room
Here, three are at the table, Rath at the head, Jaras to his left, Gont his right. Somnis stands, hands folded as in Act One Scene One. All enter and exit through the curtain, stage left.
Let Rath's house know (( RATH
(securing his sword to his waist)
That Ordar has its place.
Even now report would have it
They are closing on the village.
Heart leaps with joy, and bliss abounds
On either side,
Frail womanly emotion, tears, that I, as Rath,
Denied some three and twenty years
Since Ordar squalled his first
Upon the earth, since Mercy was cut
To give him birth.
And I, alone, straightforward vowed
Never again to marry.
And such it is with life—
We stride toward grace
Only to bruise our feet upon the path,
By grace itself, distortion.
A son, ah yes, a son!
And yet it seems MISFORTUNE'S just begun.
And yet my heart is still on fire.
Mercy, his mother, dead,
The very death of my desire.
Suckle your misbegotten whelps
On bile and circumstance.
This son was buried
By the same misbegotten dance.
But where is Pratel?
I feel his breath.
It seems my boy is closing in on death.
Such pretty speech, (( JARAS
My father, yet so sad.
But what is this?
Sweet flutter of a small boy's feet, a stir of lad
Upon the earth.
You've had his death. It's Ordar's time for birth.
It seems the hour closes on our past.
We've bought it with our tears. Amen,
They're visible (( PRATEL
(bounding in, short of breath)
Upon the road, Granduncle.
Two men on foot.
I'm sure it's them.
(the three at the table gather up; Rath adjusts his sword and scabbard)
Then, Jaras, out to greet them. (( RATH
Come, boy, propel your lard.
This wait was hard.
No nourishment of thought
Prepares one's soul for the event.
Their path was straight,
Perhaps their courage bent.
Come, fatty, move!
A son arrives, a son is sent. You, Gont,
Frame a truer smile
Upon your lips—I'll have your joy.
You never cared for Ordar.
How fares he now?
Greets them with a yell. This grips.
Somnis, you're TREMBLING like a maiden. Gather
In food for some starved lad,
Too close to tell.
Tomorrow a maid if maid can aid him!
(the curtain parts; Komos enters, strides straight to Rath and kneels to clasp his knees)
Ordar, my long lost son.
(Komos is guided to his feet; they embrace)
Oh, pity on a heart that once was broken.
Grace of our Father mends it.
How long I prayed and gnashed my teeth
That he might send
Your cherished form—and now
He sends it. My joy is fierce! It seems you're
Real, not token.
(they shudder; Komos again kneels)
Father, forgive a prodigal. (( KOMOS
My heart is scarred.
(Rather gathers Komos again to his feet)
My son, you ARE my son, (( RATH
Beauty, nothing marred.
(stares into his face)
Those eyes are newly minted coins,
Radiant as your smile.
Your limbs are sound,
Your gestures manly, pleasing.
I had not expected all as is, so much of you
Father, I have sinned against (( KOMOS
And against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son.
Come, Gont. (( RATH
Bring him his favorite robe
Enough. Come, stand.
(raises Komos up)
On the morrow we will have a proper feast.
(Gont exits, his carriage bent)
This son was dead,
But now my PAIN'S deceased.
Somnis, bring the lad a hearty
Stew of lamb
To set his appetite at rest.
(Somnis exits; Ordar enters, accompanied by Jaras)
Here, Father, is the man Komos. (( JARAS
Foul Fate, you once again damn (( RATH
What death has entered through the curtain?
The face is pain!
Foul Fate, you try me.
I cannot bear to look upon those eyes.
Some darkness sucks
Me toward abyss.
He tries my smile. And tries it on for size.
Father, (( KOMOS
Be not misplaced in your affection.
'Tis my trusted servant, Komos,
A man of parts
And small infection.
As your large heart would open for your son,
Embrace his friend.
'Tis my advisor.
Ordar (( RATH
It seems is seven winters older but no wiser.
I love you beyond myself, (( JARAS
(his voice sweet and ingratiating)
And know your wit
And know its substance . . . and yet . . . and yet
It seems to MY poor wit
You always set too much stock on one's
I'm sure his heart is right,
Even if sequestered . . . in a bag of pus.
Come, make him one of us.
(Gont enters with a robe and sandals)
Here, brother, (( GONT
Clothe yourself in finer linen.
Your father's heart is large
Toward prodigals . . .
And sinning. (( JARAS
Pratel, assist our Somnis (( RATH
With your uncle's supper.
(Pratel exits, skipping)
When belly's full, then faith is upper.
But what do with this . . . this . . .
Komos, sir. I am at your (( ORDAR
Father, (( KOMOS
(dressing himself in the new clothes)
He makes peace with you.
And (( GONT
(aside to Jaras)
What a piece he is!
Hardly of a piece! He's (( JARAS
(pinches his own nose)
Jaras, this man loves me. (( KOMOS
Why then kiss him. (( JARAS
He offered to kiss ME, by faith.
Kiss him goodbye. (( RATH
You promised that man shelter. (( KOMOS
Then let him shelter with (( RATH
In yonder sty.
And don't ask why.
'Tis plain enough.
I'll have this whoreson dog consort with swine
To earn his keep.
Don't raise my anger, lad!
(indicating his sword)
I'll brook no argument in this accursed matter.
This stray you've settled
On our hearth
Has scarcely hair, less teeth,
A mean uncivil cur and foul,
Don't try my wrath, I'll not be squeezed.
(Komos wrings his hands)
Out. Dog! Join your scabrous cousins in the sty.
(Ordar raises up, smiles tightly, exits)
Father, I beg you, (( KOMOS
Treat that man with some compassion.
Enough. (( RATH
Find it enough I didn't take this sword
To him and leak his pus.
I have three sons, two constant,
One lately arriving.
Would you earn our trust, make no mention
Of that carcass.
He'll root about with peers and earn a living
And the right to share their sty.
Again, don't ask me why
Or bargain with this Komos
And an altered circumstance.
WORMS plead his case.
I'd cut his skull to watch their wormy dance.
(Somnis enters with a platter)
Come, sit yourself down to supper
And a benediction.
This day is stranger fact than seen in fiction.
(Komos sits; Rath strokes his hair)
A son has resurrection from the stink of death.
Your scent is clean.
Forget that other's breath.
Your youngest son (( GONT
(bending to kiss Komos's forehead, embrace Rath, and kneel at the latter's feet)
Is comely as a maiden.
If Ordar should broach
That whore again, we'll both dissuade him.
And only serve to serve his better ends
And guide him well to choose his debtors,
Three loyal sons (( JARAS
(kissing Komos's forehead and kneeling by Gont at his father's feet)
Are settled in this house.
No jagged Fate may try our door.
We are a family, by ties of blood secure.
(they stand; Rath strokes their heads)
ACT THREE SCENE ONE ((((( Rath's house, the kitchen
Here, Ordar watches his own homecoming party by stealth from the kitchen.
What brutal irony, (( ORDAR
(staring stage right through a curtain)
To watch this revel!
There Komos reaps the fullest crop from seeds
They treat him like a prince,
In truth a pimp
And I, Rath's rightful son, the whore.
I've sneaked in here to watch by stealth.
My rightful PLACE is in the sty
Their boon companion, a hearty lot and yet . . .
This house of Rath breeds vermin worse than any
This man's caught,
Breeds Rath and Gont, breeds Jaras;
Lately a COMELY rat
With middle teat for them to suckle.
Good God man, listen to that laughter . . .
You'd think it's
Paradise they're after with this feting.
That slut they've settled Komos with . . . look
There's another . . . by God,
I make out three . . . 'tis ORDAR'S wrath
I'd burn that scurvy crew
And gargle on the leavings.
That ONE lean wench is belly up on Satan.
The other looks
As if she ate him.
They can't be clean.
I've seen far better in my time.
Look, the third would sidle up to even Rath
With her infernal wiles.
I've earned the pigs, and that usurper's
Paid in smiles!
(pulls back suddenly, looks again)
But what is this? My brother Gont
And that silly Pratel head this way. I can't be seen.
I fear my father's sword far
Less than that stiff's tongue.
I'll stay to yank it out?
No, hide behind this cupboard . . .
(backs off stage left to conceal himself)
Here, just in time . . . and look at him . . .
(Gont enters, draws Pratel after him)
His very clothes a mockery of taste.
They both seem chased.
But listen . . .
Perhaps there's lesson to be mastered.
He knows his books.
What is he reading in that lad, sly bastard?
Here . . . (( GONT
(pulling the young boy closer, offering him a coin)
Come . . . over to this bench.
I'll kneel to pray at Pratel's feet
And take a blessing.
(his voice strident)
Come, lad . . . here, have another. Take three.
(offers him two more coins)
This wine I've drunk tonight
Has stiffened my resolve
And baked my cause.
I'm bound for some sweet lechery.
Come, son, what are you lately hiding
'Neath that gown?
Your face is pretty with a smile,
Your skin is brown.
Come now, you little whore, be open.
See these four rings? (( PRATEL
(his voice a small bird's)
My uncle Jaras pays for what he buys.
One ring my ankles,
Three my thighs.
This bracelet bought my maidenhead.
You'll buy small bliss
With those few coins . . .
Upon my pretty head.
(giggling, as Gont chases him round the table)
Here in their father's house, (( ORDAR
I've found a wider explanation in this kitchen.
If Rath has sired no sire in turn,
Flesh burns in Gont and Jaras
Nonetheless . . . flesh aches.
They'd couple with a young lad's nether eye.
To think that Ordar's coupled
To a sty . . . and those two magpies
At a small boy's bird—
'Tis more than just a third THEY'VE taken.
Would Rath but know this folly,
Gont there, lisping about, quite jolly,
The very thought of it would break him. Ah, what
Wrings these foulest rags,
To a juice of Pratel's thighs?
One moment I've lost all
And then . . .
Look there, the villain's raising that boy's skirt.
Come now, (( GONT
You little flirt,
I'm out of breath.
This dizzy coyness . . . come now, to the larger
What must I offer Pratel, little wench,
For some hot moments on a bench . . .
(sits down, holding the boy's wrist)
His soul to purchase?
There, I'm exhausted.
Come, I'll bargain for a pearl of leisure.
What price has that small droplet
From the fountainhead?
My own's the very spurt, you'd have it limp,
Here now. Be serious.
There COMES a time in each man's life for negotiations.
'Tis the very bitch of hell, (( ORDAR
To think a stink
Would mock my odor.
He's death itself, the very order.
My wits are fled to chaos
At this foul talk.
Look, the boy relents . . . I'll take a walk.
(exits stage left, knocks over a chair)
Quiet, boy. (( GONT
What voice is that, what noise?
(crosses to stage left exit, looks out)
I THOUGHT I'd smelled a goat.
'Tis simply Komos, attendant to his cousins.
But what has that sty witnessed?
And heard? There's little bliss.
Come, lad, they'll miss us at that party.
Before we're parted
A little kiss.
Go kiss your brother Jaras. (( PRATEL
At least he offered me a bird.
You'd have MY
Why then a third of your estate.
It seems (( GONT
I truly sired an heir.
You're sure your name's not Ordar?
At least he's comely (( PRATEL
And he doesn't stare.
That whoreson Komos. (( GONT
Perhaps I'M better served by prayer.
ACT THREE SCENE TWO ((((( the great arbor
(Jaras, Gont, and Ordar meet by their mother's grave. Jaras stands with Gont, who holds a letter.)
This message that you hold. (( JARAS
(his voice reveals strain)
It came this morning?
Someone dropped it by the (( GONT
I think the thief was Pratel.
Is he party to its contents? (( JARAS
Likely not. The seal was fast. (( GONT
But why here? I hate the place. (( JARAS
Perhaps just chance. (( GONT
I doubt he knows its fix upon our lives.
But here? I shudder. (( JARAS
I wonder (( GONT
That that cur was whelped by mother.
It seems he leaked upon the earth.
Some abortion drooled,
And he was there.
Yes. Likely that. (( JARAS
But what is his intention?
Of that he makes no mention. (( GONT
Simply that he shares our secret.
Mad skies, (( JARAS
You're sure he saw you with the lad?
Quite sure. (( GONT
And overheard? Not everything. (( JARAS
Jaras, (( GONT
He was just a step beyond that fence
And we were fairly shouting.
It is a foul necessity
That grips us.
An indiscretion, no more. (( JARAS
You call buggery an (( GONT
No. Hardly that. (( JARAS
I'm sure you wouldn't broach it (( GONT
To our father.
No. God no. (( JARAS
Then what does the bastard want?
Advancement. 'Tis plain (( GONT
But why not cut his belly (( JARAS
Bag him with some weights
And sink him in yonder pond?
It may just come to that. (( GONT
But listen. Someone approaches.
It seems like he is dragging (( JARAS
My own corpse.
Quiet. I'll do the talking. (( GONT
(Ordar enters, almost regally)
Look at his strut. Come, cut (( JARAS
Quiet, I say. We'll hear him (( GONT
Hardly fair. But not UN-fair. (( ORDAR
I've caught you in a fraud.
Come, no pleasantries.
We'll make it
Short and to the purpose.
Gont, brother, (( JARAS
There is a smell about him.
Silence! (( GONT
Komos, don't mind my brother.
Brother, I mind him well. (( ORDAR
Brother? (( GONT
I AM your brother. We make (( ORDAR
Three brothers by your mother's grave.
She died at THIS son's birth.
They said the grief was harsher for our Rath
Than was the blessing.
You need to know that I'm not guessing.
I'll hear more on that subject. (( GONT
There in yonder pond (( ORDAR
I nearly drowned.
You pulled me out.
Regretted it ever since.
Brother, the man makes too (( JARAS
And you, fat one, (( ORDAR
Regard the arbor—there if you dare look
Upon its face.
Nine months went into its making,
And a lamb was bled upon the crest.
By whom? (( GONT
Rath. (( ORDAR
At what time of day? (( GONT
The story goes 'twas early (( ORDAR
I'd say at somewhat 6
The first drops fell.
One son was taken ill. You'll have me guess?
Enough for me. (( GONT
You've passed the test.
But to what purpose,
That we'd take some bag of guts into our arms?
You have a brother's knowledge,
Not his charms.
Precisely. The counterfeit (( ORDAR
Possessed the latter to extreme.
I found him in a brothel.
But this is awful. (( JARAS
You mean the lad's a fake?
Your wits were often slow (( ORDAR
Upon the take.
Must I wet a finger for your ear?
Gont, it's simply more than I (( JARAS
He'd touch me there
Within the hollow . . .
And you'd scream and holler. (( ORDAR
Now you're poking lads,
Careful. Go slow with that. (( GONT
There's two of us.
But I have knowledge in a bag (( ORDAR
How can I make my purpose clear?
Test me for one. (( GONT
My wits are sharp enough.
Then simply (( ORDAR
That I'd have my proper place.
'Tis a disgrace
To root with swine.
NO better place than thee.
This Komos he calls Ordar has you up a tree.
Look at my face and know
Pays the bills for simple beauty.
That counterfeit destroys his filial duty,
Which is, simply,
To be but one son among three.
He's bought the honored place with perjury.
And if we cut your carcass (( GONT
And seed the pond?
He'll haunt you (( ORDAR
On this earth, what's more, beyond.
That lad's no fool.
He's seen far better scholars cough and drool.
No one can match his beauty
For an education.
Rath studies at that door,
And that's your ration.
Unless . . .
We cast him out. (( JARAS
And rest upon my illness (( ORDAR
Your rightful portion
Of a father's love and warm regard.
He'll take me in, but find the going hard.
And what if we leave it as it (( GONT
Then Rath will hear of sons (( ORDAR
On a small boy's leg.
Rath's eaten pain in this brief life.
He'll eat it once again.
But cast you into hell with his own wrath
And your own order.
Act now before this counterfeit's entrenched
And order's lynched
By further counterfeits to share the wealth that's due
Three rightful sons.
I SAW the revel and the wenches.
He'll pick one out and court her till it wrenches.
How can (( GONT
I bring myself to trust this proposition?
It seems there is no choice.
I've lost my voice.
He speaks to our condition.
(then to Ordar)
Don't make me shake that hand to prove my
Be bartered by a simple fact.
When fact's approved, one acts.
Jaras, you mean the same?
I'm game. (( JARAS
Why then we cast him out. (( GONT
Just don't expect your Rath to shout with bliss.
And don't expect a brother's (( JARAS
And gird yourself, in short. (( GONT
This trial will BE a trial.
Once settled on this path we can't abort . . .
And court an ALTERED Fate. (( JARAS
Then . . . on the morrow? (( GONT
Yes, on the morrow. (( ORDAR
Time turns the wheel.
To joy, not sorrow. (( GONT
But OFTEN back to grief.
And fear for the man who (( ORDAR
Gont and Jaras bow, exit stage left; Ordar is left alone; he strides up and down in front of the arbor, then stabs a finger toward his groin.
How much account in this fierce life
Is faith against a fact?
If God's the judge,
Then Rath's the court.
I have my birthmark AS A LAST RESORT.
ACT THREE SCENE THREE ((((( Rath's house, the dining room
Here, Jaras and Gont argue the case for Ordar, the rightful son.
As the scene opens, Ordar has not yet appeared. Rath is still recovering from the previous night's festivities.
I hesitate (( RATH
To bar my Ordar from this meeting,
To constant sons
Is written large in this man's heart.
Come, Gont, begin.
Where shall I start? (( GONT
'Tis no small task before us,
For I plead the case
Of a man more robbed by Fate
Than his own excess.
He is your son.
You speak of Ordar? (( RATH
Why then I'll call him.
(makes to leave, but Jaras takes his arm)
Please, sir. (( JARAS
Upon my life, don't let the lad
Is he ill? (( RATH
The son we speak of has all (( GONT
Then let me call a priest. (( RATH
You say my Ordar's ill?
Most ill (( GONT
But less of flesh than spirit.
But just an hour back I left (( RATH
That young man's side.
He has said nothing.
Have I wronged him?
Come now, deal not in mystery.
Be to the point.
The point is this—he's dying. (( GONT
(Rath recoils, startled, clutches his heart)
My God, don't mock me thus. (( RATH
'Tis true. (( GONT
Should that lad die on me we'd (( RATH
Foul stars attending on his birth,
I'd suck them from the sky
And bleed the planets.
Come now, you jest.
I am betrayed.
That too. (( GONT
By Ordar? (( RATH
The dear lad's heart is clean.
Out with this tale in full,
'Tis one mad dream!
As I have said, he is sick and (( GONT
And yet you minister
To a counterfeit.
The lesions on his body pale
Against the ache you've given to his soul.
He hides his face from you.
Alas, you've spurned him for a sham.
Sham? What sham? (( RATH
You see ME here and yet I AM. (( GONT
'Tis the natural course of things. (( RATH
You'll make me mad with riddles.
Come, to the point
Or taste this sword.
(grasping the hilt)
I'll not be sport as such when you are bored.
Out with it.
What miscreance is plotted here?
Come, you wind a thread
Throughout my brain.
Foul constancy, you mean to tell me that he's dead?
You must admit (( GONT
You've killed him in your heart.
But he dined last night on (( RATH
And WENCHED his way to heaven.
'Tis Komos wenched (( GONT
And dined and sang your tune.
Your truest son was scratching at the moon.
You can't mean Ordar. (( RATH
Your OTHER boarder. Komos, (( GONT
In truth he is your son,
But roots in yonder sty.
Man, (( RATH
(an explosion of sound)
You try my heart with this foul notion.
'Tis bitter news. (( GONT
I knew you'd take it hard.
But think of his devotion.
Devotion? (( RATH
By faith, I'd skewer that raw dog
For pissing on a stone.
Summon him here.
We'll see if he'll atone for this crazed message.
Summon the beast
That forced you on this errand.
I'll strip him bare and flog his grisly hide.
Come, seek him out on either side.
You summoned me, my (( ORDAR
Blasphemy. (( RATH
(reaching for his sword)
I'll cut the lips that offered that foul oath.
(Jaras steps between them)
Please, father, hear him out. (( JARAS
Unseemly growth. (( RATH
In truth I am your son. (( ORDAR
LATELY son. (( RATH
I'll cut him like a rat.
(struggling with Jaras)
Father, please, have mercy. (( JARAS
The man's a curse. (( RATH
He takes it for a prayer.
But knows this house. (( ORDAR
You think I'd care? (( RATH
Father, he knew the very moment (( JARAS
Blood was spattered
On our mother's rocks. The arbor.
We met him there this morning.
And knew the very moment of his birth.
Knew Somnis virgin,
The urgent beauty of your sister, long deceased.
Knew Isaac that was mason
To our house, knew Garth, the village priest.
Knew each particular
Of all those mentioned
Through no stratagem or raw invention,
In every family tree
From here to cousins twice removed or three.
Knew and saw.
If I could paint I'd draw such proof
From out his teeming brain
It'd startle you to think you took
His servant for your son,
For ORDAR is this KOMOS, and the two are one.
You make brain burn (( RATH
Toward madness and decay.
And why this ruse? And if my son indeed,
Why call some double to assist him
Plant his seed?
By force of his situation. (( GONT
He knew you'd never call this other Ordar
And then suddenly, why air (( RATH
The dirty linen?
You cast me out to root with (( ORDAR
I'M not divine.
These parts have teased the very cut of hell
And smeared their juices
On your heart.
They've plowed the beast and Satan.
And yet I'd never thought you'd hate them.
I simply wanted PASSAGE to your heart.
You stabbed me with a knife (( RATH
And bless the hole.
But no . . .
This is a fabrication wide as the slut
Whose cut has spewed
You from the earth.
(pushing the fat son aside and lunging again at Ordar)
I'll cut this canker. MIND the birth.
(Ordar steps back and then holds his ground as if to accept the blow)
Just as you wish. (( ORDAR
But I will leave you with a memory.
What stratagem is THIS? (( RATH
Simply the mark of my own (( ORDAR
Assures my name.
(raising the hem of his gown)
I'll have it bare.
(Rath lashes the flat of his sword against the offending legs)
As if I'd drop this sword and (( RATH
(swings again, this time with the edge)
More of the same?
With that you only have (( ORDAR
(Rath whirls wildly about with the sword, catching the three sons, who flee
toward the exit)
I'll have the birthmark (( RATH
As I've had the birth.
Ordar, I've sired the soil. It's time you plowed
(brandishes the sword)
ACT THREE SCENE FOUR ((((( Ordar's bedroom, Rath's house
As the scene opens, Komos is lying face down on Ordar's cot and Rath sitting at the edge, a sword across his lap.
Why stir you (( KOMOS
(strain in his voice)
Abroad so late this night
My father with an angry sword?
Just yesterday it seems we reveled
In the early dawn.
Perhaps I've slept.
You carry on.
Carry on well. I bear you a (( RATH
Rather a story than a speech. (( KOMOS
A man of your own age, a lass, (( RATH
Flesh of each other's flesh,
Four lips, two tongues,
A cut, a PROPER sword . . .
With this I shan't be bored. (( KOMOS
'Tis very buggery.
'Tis not the proper TERM. (( RATH
For such as that men burn.
They learn to weep
And gnash their teeth
Until they've had it to the hilt,
And then it lasts a moment,
But the second's fierce beyond relief.
I'd thought you'd speak of (( KOMOS
But you talk of grief.
In truth they're much allied. (( RATH
When woman spreads her parts
Few safely cross
That small divide.
Come now. (( KOMOS
In time you'll call the priest.
Why just last night
You had ME
Feed the beast.
Come, father, when were you not for sluts?
That sword of yours must slide
Before it cuts.
I'll have a story,
Not a sermon.
They'd milk the stars. (( RATH
They're often vermin.
By faith, in time you'll perjure (( KOMOS
My own mother.
Where's Jaras, Gont?
In truth you have no brother. (( RATH
All manner of abuse on (( KOMOS
And now two brothers dead?
You've had too much to drink.
The wine is settled in your head.
A tale in earnest.
Some pretty narrative to put me back in slumber.
Or raise YOUR tail. (( RATH
Ordar, I have the number.
Here. (( KOMOS
(turning face up; Rath grips the sword)
I'm ready for your attack.
All manner of TALE then.
Just as before, but now I'm on my back.
'Tis a fantasy of sorts to prime (( RATH
A lad for proper recreation.
Should the heat be too extreme, dear lad,
We have the wenches of our revels
Such paths can lead to many pretty treasures.
A RIPENED belly only adds to simple pleasures.
You liked the three?
One caught my eye. (( KOMOS
And which was that? (( RATH
The lean. (( KOMOS
I thought you liked the fat. (( GONT
Fat is for comfort, LEAN (( KOMOS
And beauty for the soul. (( RATH
AND plain, alleviation. (( KOMOS
But you promised me a tale.
The hour's late. I'll have you speed me
Toward a sleep.
And proper dreams. (( RATH
Ah yes, begin. (( KOMOS
Let's FRAME the tale. (( RATH
(resting a hand on Komos's thigh)
A touch of metaphysics.
Rude flesh indeed.
Geography of womb and seed.
A maid as lush as ripened fruit,
Her undergarments fragrant
With sweet juice.
Great breasts to comfort manly souls,
As a northern daughter, even to the roots.
A belly alabaster, taut,
And smooth as a wisp of satin lace.
NO man had ever
Looked upon the face.
Rumored to stir all hunger
Simply by the glance,
Lips moist AND fragrant
As their counterparts below,
And buttocks round and white as snow.
Perhaps you've never seen
Just that white, stark white melons
With a taste of motion.
A strange devotion, supple,
Graced by the same blond hair,
And soft as butter
In the sun, a liquid reach and grip . . .
But what is this . . . ?
My tale has just begun.
(both stand; Pratel bursts in, waving his arms)
Granduncle Rath, (( PRATEL
Your sons have slain that Komos.
Knifed him on the road
In broad daylight for the very earth
They butchered the old man like a sacrificial lamb.
Worse—like a pig's carcass.
They say the foul blood
Drenched the very road.
Two soldiers happened on the slaughter.
They'll likely fall
Before the sword.
'Tis terror to behold their looks.
Gont sent me here
To beg you intercede,
Perhaps your oath will stay the execution.
(he is bounding up and down and side to side)
Please, sir, they're hot to have
Their very blood.
Act now, for soon's too late.
Calm yourself, small boy. (( RATH
They'll earn their just deserts.
But 'tis Jaras, Gont. (( PRATEL
They are your sons.
No sons of mine. I cast them (( RATH
Surely this whole event is some (( KOMOS
A fantasy of this lad's brain or mine.
You cast them out?
In fine. (( RATH
Pratel, tell the two to make their peace
Out now. I am caught in business.
But Granduncle . . . have pity. (( PRATEL
(begins to sob, sways back and forth; Rath brandishes his sword)
Out! Vanish! (( RATH
(Pratel shudders, stamps a foot, bolts for the exit)
And now to larger matters.
Here, Ordar, strip that gown
And bare your private parts.
My truest son
Was marked upon his birth.
(brandishing the sword)
Come, I say. Strip!
A welt just at the juncture of his thighs.
Off with it. Even the undergarment.
I'll have a look.
Regard those eyes!
(Komos is in tears, strips, trembling; Rath sits and pulls the young man's genitals
aside, raises to one knee.)
Mercy. (( KOMOS
Ah God, mercy on Ordar's double.
There's nothing there.
Rath takes the edge of the sword against the young man's flank and draws him to his face, kissing naked chest.
Think (( RATH
(his voice is muffled by the chest, but strange, and wheedling)
You thereby my love's diminished?
Those three are dead.
We've just begun.
How can a birthmark stand between a father and his Son?
THE EPILOGUE ((((( Somnis provides a chorus
She stumbles out before the curtain from stage left, bewildered, rubbing her eyes.
This night makes little sense. (( SOMNIS
Two sons are dead by morning, and the living dance.
Even the father reveled till he broke at last to bed.
Some sorrow of the soul with two sons dead!
Ordar remains, and that's a blessing.
He whores up there. Perhaps I'm guessing.
To joy at what is grief in any natural state!
'Tis nearly dawn. I dread its break.
Perhaps some awful passion has unhinged their minds.
I'll tend the clock. PERHAPS it winds.
It seems our purpose is a wind, foul change.
Two sons are dead. A callous son remains.
Perhaps the FATHER'S caught, and yet he sleeps.
There is some awful motion in the dreams he keeps.
But what is that?
It seems I heard my master call.
Rath, sleep. For sleep heals all.
Bury your sword and grieve upon the arbor where their
And sire yourself a son
And find your son a maid.
(exits, a stumble, from the stage)