A short study of a scene for a possible play.
|(A man sits straight, in a chair, on the darkened stage. A light shines behind him, so that his outline is all that is really defined to the audience.)
"So, you want to hear about it."
(He raises his arms, locking his hands behind his head, and stretches his legs out, crossing them at the ankles.)
"It's kinda hard to believe it now, but at the time it seemed to be the only thing I could do. I had gone to St. Michaels all my life. Man, I can't tell you how many times I confessed to things my friends had done, trying to make myself interesting to whoever would listen, and boy oh boy, the priests always listened."
(He shakes his head, laughing low)
"They must have figured I'd have half the girls in town pregnant before I got out of school. Yeah, that was me,..the Player. I'll bet they figured my soul was worthy of every torment of Hell...at least that's what I thought when I was a teenager. As I got older, I learned they were all pretty worldly, and it changed my view of myself a lot. I graduated, went on to college there in town, and just generally tried to make a living like everybody else."
(He places his hands in his lap, bowing his head slightly)
"Of course, I kept going to church, and confessing to all the things I heard about, just as if I was the most evil person there was. I guess I figured if someone was confessing to the sins, they might be forgiven even if it wasn't the one who did 'em that confessed about 'em. I suppose I felt I was taking care of my friends that way. You know, by taking the blame with God. Kinda sad, looking back on it. There I was, thinking I was being noble by taking the rap for everybody. I did all that for years, until that last Friday I confessed. That was when it happened."
(He sits back up straight in the chair, then leans forward, elbows on his knees.)
"It's like it happened yesterday. I dream about it. Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat, and it's a toss-up as to whether I'm laughing or crying when I sit up."
"I'd just confessed to a whole bunch of petty thefts that had happened in the neighborhood, and a couple of peeping-Tom incidents that I'd heard about, when the confessional started to get kinda hot. There was a kind of sulphur smell along with it, and I guess I got a little weirded out. Something in me said the Devil was sitting over there, fixin' to get me. So, I kinda figured that if the Devil could come to get me there in the church, I could get him, too...you know, if he could be here on earth with us, he would be vulnerable, right?"
(He returns to his relaxed pose again as he goes on)
"So, I just figured I'd take care of all the judgement and all the blame all at once. I just reached right through that flimsy grate and grabbed him by the throat, and BOY! What a fight we had! It was glorious, with all the thunder and lightnin' dancing all over the church, and all those folks who'd been waiting to see the padre musta run out, 'cause I heard their feet headed down the aisle towards the doors. He all but drug me through that grate, and we wrestled with the strength of ANGELS! Hallelujah, it was somethin'. I just wish someone coulda been there to catch it for the internet. That woulda been great."
(The light behind the man dims, and the chair slowly revolves to present the man from the side, still backlit. Then, as the light goes out, another light comes up, backlighting another man in a chair, facing the original speaker. He's sitting there quietly, taking notes. He looks up as the first speaker's light goes out, and begins to speak)
"You know, there were witnesses. But the most important witness that was there happens to have been me. I want you to know that you did a really good job confessing all those years. Especially to all the sexual stuff. Of course, the priest had no idea the really twisted stuff actually happened. He thought you'd made it all up, and he just kept on humoring you all those years. Then you had to go and start talking about the peeping-Tom incident with that red-headed lady across the street from the church. The priest knew all about that one, because he knew who'd really done it, and he knew it wasn't you. He came to a sudden 'realization' and his entire sense of focus changed. He'd seen his young associate priest out there looking in that window the night before, and he knew it wasn't you. His reality changed suddenly, and he had an epiphany. I couldn't have that now, could I? That was when I created the illusion in your mind of the heat, and the brimstone."
(The new speaker sits back, obviously happy, relaxing like the first speaker did originally)
"I knew I had you when you reached through that grate and got him by the throat. Yes, indeed, it was a struggle. But I gave you the strength of ten men, and that old padre never stood a chance. So, now it's all mine. I appreciate the help."
(The light softens, and the front stage lights come up, revealing the first speaker in his orange jumpsuit with DOC printed on it, and the second speaker, a red-skinned devil, dressed in the vestments of a priest. The Devil stands, and turns to leave, stopping and turning to deliver his last line)
"It's true what they say, you know. The Devil really is in the details."
(The lights dim as he exits.)