to Greater Anthropology


first performed at the Pumphouse Theatre in Calgary, 1985
(Debbie: Ania Danylo ~ Alex: Katherine Schlemmer ~ John: Brent Piaskoski)

STONES

by Eric Pettifor

[Sunrise at Callanish. The tall standing stones are silhouetted against a purple and red sky that grows brighter and brighter as the sun climbs. With the first light comes the sound of bells ringing the morning Sunday. They fade in volume as the sound of the sea grows and the wind blows the sea spray onto the Island of Lewis. Standing quite still through all this is a young man (JOHN). He blows a single note on his flute and wind and waves grow silent. The first note gives way to a second and a third and soon a song has taken form and is dancing on the air, an ancient sounding song for morning from a time when man was in his first morning before the world was small. The last note fades to where its predecessors have flown, and the man raises his eyes and looks down the path. He calmly rises and hides behind a stone. ALEX quickly wheels her bike on, drops it, and leaps to the centre of the stones. She wears smart biking knickers and her backpack is unadorned.]
DEBBIE(from offstage) Alex, we're late!
[ALEX looks with a disturbed expression in the direction of the voice, but only briefly before she is re-enraptured by the stones. DEBBIE comes on with her bike. She is tired and slower and doesn't want to be there. She wears her pants tucked into her socks and has her clothing and backpack covered with Canadian flags.]
Alex, we are, you know, late. And that last one, in the last town, it was good, good enough, we don't have to go to that, the best, that one you recommended.
ALEXGet some pictures, Deb.
DEBBIEWe're already late for service! We don't have time for this.
ALEXPictures, Debbie! You've got an assignment, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
[DEBBIE sighs and complies. She fumbles in her pack for her camera. It's an old Nikon F series with power winder and it seems more than she can handle. ALEX keeps posing and looking impatiently over at DEBBIE. DEBBIE lifts the camera to her eye and then lowers it. She sits on a stone.]
DEBBIEI'm... I'm out of film.
ALEX (not paying attention) Come on, Debbie, you can rest later. Shoot!
DEBBIEAlex...
ALEX I want a lot of these.
DEBBIEAlex! I... I, uh, I'm out of film.
[ALEX looks at her. She looks like someone who could be out of film.]
ALEXYou are not.
DEBBIEYes, yes, I am. I'm... sorry?
ALEXAre you really out of film?
DEBBIEI'm sorry, Alex, I'm...
ALEXSorry. Yes, you are. Perhaps we can pick some up...
DEBBIEPick some up? Where? Where are we?
ALEXIsle of Lewis. On Sunday. A lifeless planet.
DEBBIEIt's the day of rest. They, they, they take that very seriously here.
ALEX'Convenience store.' 'Convenience store.' A beautful concept I've never fully appreciated until now.
DEBBIEI'm... I really am sorry.
ALEXRight.
DEBBIEWhy don't we just go on to that church, the one you said had the incredible stained glass, more like art Nouveau than 13th century, and the architecture, like Westminster, but more impressive because, because of its location high on a hill with no buildings around it. Is it much further, further to go?
ALEXIt isn't. It doesn't exist.
DEBBIEWhat?
ALEXI needed to see these stones, get some shots. So much for that now.
DEBBIEYou lied to me?
ALEXDebbie, lookit. It's the Isle of Lewis. This article would mean dick without the Callanish Standing Stones, why the hell else would anyone come to this god-forsaken clump of peat.
DEBBIEYou lied to me on the Sabbath.
ALEXI am... Look, I'm really sorry I had to lie to you. I really am.
DEBBIEYah. Alright, forget it. Sorry about the film too.
ALEXYou do realize, however, that you can forget Edinburgh tomorrow.
DEBBIEYou promised!
ALEXI need shots. If I'd brought a real photographer with me I wouldn't have this grief.
DEBBIEI said I'm sorry.
ALEXWednesday, Friday, Saturday, any day but a fucking Sunday. We bought food in advance, secured lodging, got bikes, how come you didn't get more film? You know this place shuts down on Sunday.
DEBBIEI didn't think we'd be taking pictures today. I thought, I mean, you said we could ride out to one of the smaller villages and attend service.
ALEXWith only one day left on the Isle of Lewis? There is only one set of Callanish Standing Stones in the world, but there are a myriad number of churches...
DEBBIEMyriad number of churches! Myriad number of churches! Every church is a unique reflection of... of... (wants to say 'God', but cannot)
ALEXOf the architect.
DEBBIE(resolved) Of God! Not like these stones. Britain is littered with them! And cairns, and barrows, and... and... those little stone towers...
ALEXBrochs.
DEBBIEBrochs, whatever, but Alex, swear to God, each one is just the same as the others. They're just stones.
ALEXAnd your churches? Great cushy colorful stone vaults each one the same, all high ceilings and carven stone saints, monuments to all the gaudy soldiers that killed for a gaudy God. We've seen every single church in England, Wales, and the boonies of Scotland, you are obsessed, you have an obsession, I mean, there's a difference between being a good Christian and being a fanatic, you're obsessive.
DEBBIEYou too, you're more obsessive.
ALEXNot possible.
DEBBIEAnd big deal, so a bunch of people stood a bunch of tall stones in some holes and they haven't fallen over yet. So what?
ALEXThey are more than just stones in holes.
DEBBIEChurches, churches are more than just glass and gold Alex. I'm sorry. I'm sorry if you think I'm obsessive.
ALEXThese stones were already ancient when the question "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" was originally spoken.
DEBBIEThey're, they're before Christ?
ALEXMuch. Much.
[DEBBIE looks around at them with a new respect. ALEX continues with an intensity and purpose ~ to scare DEBBIE.]
I wonder what kind of gods they had back then, eh?

[Pause]
They're like tongues.
DEBBIEWho cares? I don't. I don't care.
ALEXOnce upon a time, on this very spot, long, long, oh so long ago, we sacrificed here, human sacrifice, the blood of children smeared on the stones, each one painted scarlet with life blood.
DEBBIE(quickly) That was a long, very long time ago.
ALEXThe day after the ritual, the blood was always gone.
DEBBIEThey cleaned up after the, after the ceremony. This would be like their, their church and it's wrong to have, to have a messy church.
ALEXThe blood was gone because it had been taken by the stones, swallowed by these tongues which even now stand before us parched and dry and waiting. Do they look thirsty to you, Debbie?
DEBBIEFor goodness sake, Alex, they're just stones!
ALEXI've been reading about the reemergence of secret cults, people failed by your Christianity, they turn to older times, older ways. This town of Callanish... Who's to say that within that sleepy village there isn't some secret cult that even now, in these enlightened 20th century evenings, still perform the ancient rite, using some poor unwanted child.
DEBBIEPeople would know. They'd find out.
ALEXCome morning, the blood is gone.
DEBBIEIf you're trying to scare me, Alex, it won't work, it won't. Just because a primitive bunch of people had some fears or don't know how the universe works they build a bunch of stones and then pretend it's a protection or, to... to... the point is that ultimately there is only God, the Creator, and if they made up some sort of pretend god or whatever then so what. It isn't real and this really is just a meaningless bunch of stones, I don't care how old it is. Besides, besides, I remember, I remember you telling that, uh, that these stone circles were sort of calendars they used to predict the seasons and that certain exact alignments...
ALEXDeb...
DEBBIEAnd that certain alignments...
ALEXDebbie, look at all the stones that make up this place. Don't you think that if you looked long and hard enough you could find anything you wanted from the infinite number of exact alignments here?
DEBBIEPlease don't tell me any more of this crap, okay? Please?
ALEXHave you ever read the New English Bible?
DEBBIEI've read, I've read the Bible twice. And I'm working on a third time.
ALEXThe New English Bible?
DEBBIEThe Authorized King James Version.
ALEXThe New English Bible is a direct translation of the oldest surviving Biblical texts, more reliable, more authentic than the stuff King James' men worked with. And you know what? Genesis refers quite specifically to more than one god.
DEBBIEThe Genesis I've read certainly, certainly doesn't.
ALEXCome on, we both know that the King James version was translated by a poetic pile of Protestants! Vested interest. They weren't accurate either. The coat of many colours? A coat with long sleeves. That's the correct translation, a coat with long sleeves. You know what else they messed up? The accurate translation of Genesis refers quite specifically to 'the gods', plural, the gods, and something about the sons of gods breeding with the daughters of men to produce the Nephilim, the giants in the earth your King James refers to. So there wasn't just one God, but many, and lecherous too. That's from the Bible.
DEBBIEHow come you know so much about the Bible?
ALEXBecause unlike most Christians, I have read it.
DEBBIE(genuinely curious) Why?
ALEXWhat do you mean "why?".
DEBBIEWhy would you read the Bible?
ALEXWhy not? I've read Mein Kempf and Beatrix Potter for no profound reason.
DEBBIEBut the Bible?
ALEXI'm a speed reader.
DEBBIEOh. (Pause) And Genesis really says there's more than one god? Why doesn't my translation mention that?
ALEXMaybe they didn't want you to know.
DEBBIEWhat else didn't they want me to know?
ALEXI'll loan you my copy when we get back. It also talks about the Egyptians and their gods, not false gods, but the gods they worshipped. The Egyptians were building their things about the same time these were put up.
DEBBIETwo thousand years before Christ.
ALEXJesus wasn't even a gleam in his great great great grandmother's eye.
DEBBIEThen who did they... worship.
ALEXWhatever it was, it lives in these stones, just as surely as your churches are the House of your God.

[Pause]
DEBBIEHmm. Yah. Well. Okay. I'm not stupid, you've been trying scare me, yes, yes, you have, and, uh, okay, you've succeeded, alright? You win, okay? So can we go, can we go now? Anywhere, I don't care, just somewhere else now. I want to go.
ALEXNo. And it serves you right for forgetting the film. It serves you right. How could you? Look at these stones. We haven't seen anything like them and we have no film.
DEBBIEAlex, forget the film, just forget it, I want to get out of here, away from...
ALEXDebbie, don't be an idiot. You religious fanatics are so superstitious. I was teasing, just getting you back for being so stupid and forgetting the film.
DEBBIEThat's mean, just... very mean.
ALEXLook, this is just an astro-meteorological calendar, used to predict the various seasons, the summer solstice and the equinox and all that. If these people worshipped anything it was the sun and the moon and the harvest. They were a peaceful agricultural people and if they had gods then the gods were like them and like them died a long, long time ago, okay?
DEBBIEAnd what about the Bible referring to more than one god, you make that up too?
ALEXNo, that much is true.
DEBBIE(laughing) No, you made it up, you made up that story yourself, you did, didn't you.
ALEXNo. I didn't.
DEBBIEReally?
ALEXReally.
DEBBIEOh.
[ALEX looks around at the stones serenely. DEBBIE surveys them nervously.]
Do you think it's too late to check out one of the church services?
ALEXThey wouldn't appreciate us coming in late, especially that lady I said hello to when we were riding through that last town. They looked like something out of a Stephen King story or something. They take this church business very seriously here.
DEBBIEYes. You really did a good job making me nervous of this place.
ALEXI know. I'm sorry. I wish there was something to be afraid of here, that'd make a great story. But, even so, these stones... it's like each one of them possesses some sort of... they're so old.
DEBBIEI think they're... I...
ALEXYou really don't care for them, do you.
DEBBIEYou're so smart, Alex.

[Pause]
ALEXMaybe there's some sort of afternoon service back in Stornoway. Would that make you happier?
DEBBIEWe'd have to skip those brochs if we want to make it and you really wanted to see those, you said they're especially good examples.
ALEXWell, like you said, you seen one broch you've seen them all.
DEBBIEThank you.
ALEXYou've been really good about coming out with me to these silly standing stones. I don't know, I just find them fascinating...
DEBBIEI do too. Really. Especially that they're so old.
ALEXYah, but a week in Orkney before this? I'm surprised you stayed so civil up there in the middle of Orkney in the middle of nowhere.
DEBBIEIt's redundant to say in the middle of Orkney in the middle of nowhere.
ALEXAh, but we still didn't see the half of it.
DEBBIEThat place, and this place, they have a sort of feeling like... I don't know... witchy, like witches. I wouldn't be surprised if a witch just stepped out from behind one of these stones. She'd be surprised to see us, we're the ones that are out of place, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. I'd shit myself, but I wouldn't be surprised.
ALEXThere are witches here.
DEBBIEWhat?
ALEXIf there are witches in the world, this is where they are.
DEBBIEIt gives me the creeps.
ALEXI love it.
DEBBIEWe could have spent more time in London, or Oxford, or , or Stratford, or...
ALEXOr Caernarvon Castle. (Laughs) You were beautiful at Caernarvon Castle.
DEBBIEI don't want to talk about it.
ALEXI took pictures you know.
DEBBIEWhat!?
ALEXI took pictures. I grabbed your camera and photographed the whole thing.
DEBBIEAlex! Those could be used in court! God knows what happened to that fellow. We've got to destroy the film.
ALEXToo late. I sent the negatives home already.
DEBBIEWhat?!
ALEXA one day photofinisher in Inverness did them up.
DEBBIENo. No, tell me you didn't. You didn't.

[ALEX whips a bunch of photos from her pack.]
ALEXHere they are!
DEBBIEGive them to me!
[DEBBIE lunges at ALEX who deftly leaps up on a stone and holds them above her head.]
ALEXNooo! I think you would destroy them!
DEBBIEOf course I will!
ALEXWouldn't do you any good. I'd just have another batch printed up.
[She pulls one from the pack and gives to DEBBIE.]
I'm thinking of having this one blown up to poster size!
DEBBIE(groans)
[ALEX comes down from the rock and takes the photo from DEBBIE's hand. She puts them all into her back pocket.]
ALEXWe'll hide out here in the boonies until the heat cools off.
DEBBIEWhen we get to that church I'm going to, I think I'll plead for sanctuary.

[Pause]
You're not going to put any of those in your article?
ALEXI was thinking of doing a side-bar.
DEBBIENo, I would sue. I would. I'd lose my job.
ALEXWell, you don't seem very happy as a secretary anyway...
DEBBIEPhotographer! I'm the photographer on this assignment, that's, that's...
ALEXSome photographer, forgetting the film.
DEBBIECould you maybe not keep bringing that up? I mean, I know I should have film but I really thought we would spend today relaxing and going to church.
ALEXDeb, real photographers don't make excuses.
DEBBIEYou know what, Alex? You know what?

[Pause]
You're right. You're right, okay? No more excuses, none, no more. A pro would have film all the time. Ed would never have been caught short, would he. You have a crush on him, everybody, everybody... it's so obvious.
ALEXEd? Ed who? Ed Checora? Checks?
DEBBIEI call him Ed.
ALEXI couldn't care less for Checks! The reason I requested him was simply because he's a hell of a good photographer. And you're right, he wouldn't ever be caught without film, he is a pro, and he wouldn't be making excuses.
DEBBIEI, I may as well get used to it. I'm going to be a secretary forever.

[DEBBIE looks very sad. ALEX tries to comfort her.]
ALEXYou're a great secretary, Deb. What's so wrong with that?
DEBBIEAnd ever. And ever. It's like... when you... What do you care. You don't want to know.
ALEXI care. I just don't understand.
DEBBIEHow could you? What do you even know about it? Nobody takes you for granted, god, anyone tried and you'd just turn your beam on them until they stood, just sort of stood stunned in it like a deer in some headlights or something. Then 'wack!', you'd let them have it. I'm in the shadows, in the bushes, behind my desk, right by the phone with all the lines so I can put people on hold, sometimes just for the, the, the pleasure of it, that's all I can do, I can put you on hold and make you wait in some grey limbo listening to god-awful canned music until I'm ready to deal with you.
ALEXYou've never done that to me.
DEBBIEYou sure? "Oh, sorry, Alex, Mr. St. James is on another line and I've got another call coming in. Just hold a sec, okay? Thanks."
ALEXDebbie...
DEBBIEAnd I've got opinions about things, I have a good eye for composition, and sometimes, sometimes I have better ideas for layouts, but that's not, not my place, not in my job description, not what I get paid for, and so I don't say anything, because, because a part of me actually believes that I really am a mindless piece of office furniture. It's stupid, just stupid, and that's what you have to be to be a secretary and that's what I must be because that's what I am.
ALEXYou're not stupid. We depend on you. Where would we be without you?
DEBBIEGetting your own damn coffee!
ALEXI could handle that.
DEBBIEAnswering your own phone, doing your own letters, photocopying, minding the fax..
ALEXI can answer a phone and type and pick pages from a tray.
DEBBIEOh yah? It wouldn't be just your own coffee you'd be getting, you'd be getting everyone else's too. And do you think, who do you think would tidy up after one of your lousy editorial lunch meetings, Mr. St. James? Uh, uh. The janitorial staff? Hah! You would. You'd be getting the coffee and cleaning the cups when they were through.
ALEXI could handle it.
DEBBIEHah!
ALEXI could.
DEBBIEI bet.
ALEXI COULD!

[pause]
DEBBIEOkay. You could.
ALEXNo. I couldn't. I'd hate it.
DEBBIEAlex, could we... Can we... be, still be, friends when I leave?
ALEXAre you seriously thinking of leaving?
DEBBIENever mind.
ALEXNo, tell me. Are you?
DEBBIEI shouldn't, it's not official, and this is just between you and me, okay? But, well, you know I've been sending some of my stuff, that portfolio I put together, around and, nothing official, but... two magazines have expressed interest in my work. Nothing's set or anything, it's not official, I've got a couple of interviews lined up when we get back, I don't know, but... I'm really excited, Alex, I think this could be it, the beginning of an actual career.
ALEXI'd... we'd lose you.
DEBBIEI can't be a secretary forever. I, I... I just can't.
ALEXWhat do you mean 'secretary'? Are you typing right now? Answering phones or filing? Posting proofs?
DEBBIEI'm only here because the usual bunch were busy. If Ed hadn't gone with the pig to Hawaii he would be here and I wouldn't be here, and you'd be having a much better time.
ALEXI would not! Ed is his own icon and I don't have the time to pay him worship.
DEBBIEBut he's certainly more professional than me, and he's a nice guy, I think he's a nice guy, good looking, such a...
ALEXNazi.
DEBBIEProfessional. And you gave the impression, that you regretted, that you would rather have him along, whatever reason, I don't know, I don't care, you'd rather have him along.
ALEX(touching DEBBIE's hair) Not true, Deb. I was just giving you a hard time, really. The truth is that the moment I finished looking at your portfolio I knew I wanted to work with you on an assignment. It was I who got you this job.
DEBBIEReally?
ALEXTruthfully. I could have had Checks, Ed, but he's always coming on to me, and...
DEBBIEEd came on to you?
ALEX... and frankly, I don't think he's that shit hot. In fact, I think his work is... well, boring.
DEBBIEYou just finished saying how professional he is.
ALEXProfessional, sure, but he hasn't got heart. All the professionalism in world... Well, if you can't make a subject come alive, why bother?
DEBBIEThat's it exactly! Photography is an art, but only when the art in the individual is reflected in the work!
ALEXExactly.
DEBBIEThat's why it's so important to me to get one of these positions. So I can do something I really have a feeling for.
ALEXWhat if I could get you some more assignments?
DEBBIEAh... Thank you, but... you couldn't do that, you're just a junior editor.
ALEXWhat do you mean just a junior editor?
DEBBIEYou don't have the pull.
ALEXMore than you might think. I'm on my way up.
DEBBIEI know, I'm sure you are, and thank you, but I'm in a hurry because I can't, I just can't be a secretary anymore because pretty soon, really soon, I will die, not physically maybe, but something inside will just switch off, and I'll go about my secret duties without a thought as to what I'm doing or who I am and there won't be anything inside and I'll just do everything they want and take whatever they give and I will be their perfect secretary. And I, I, I can't let that happen.
ALEXSo you're going to leave.
DEBBIEI have to. I really... just have to.
ALEXBut you're such a good secretary, Debbie!
DEBBIEThank you.
[DEBBIE's eyes fill with tears.]
I'm a good photographer too.
[ALEX perceives her own stupidity and feels very bad. She goes to hug DEBBIE. What was meant to have been a conciliatory squeeze evolves into an embrace.]
ALEXI know... I'll... I'll miss you.
DEBBIEI'll... I... We can still be friends, can't we?... This is ridiculous, we're a whole ocean from work and maybe... maybe I won't go...
ALEXYou will. You better. I'll miss you, though. I really will.
DEBBIEI'll miss you too.
[They kiss. The intention was a friendly kiss, but there is an energy here ever so slightly stronger than the intention. They break, uncertain of what it is, uncomfortable.]
ALEXWell, I think we should have a look at these stones having biked so far.
DEBBIEYou go ahead. I'm... really hungry. You want me to unpack yours too? I could set up a picnic.
ALEXYes, please. And Debbie, I... I'm sorry if I'm a little bitchy sometimes. I don't really mean to be, it's just...
DEBBIEIt's okay, Alex, really. I ... Just call me Dr. Watson.
ALEXNo, I'll be Watson and you be Holmes.
DEBBIEOkay. Watson, I'm going to Edinburgh tomorrow.
ALEXIs it okay if I come with you?
DEBBIEI'll think about it.
ALEXI'll hope and pray.
DEBBIEAnd no more lying. You'll behave yourself.
ALEXThis coming from the terror of Caernarvon Castle!
DEBBIEThat was justified!
ALEXI know. I was proud of you.
DEBBIEI couldn't see that happen and not do anything.
ALEXI wish I could have done the same.
DEBBIEReally?
ALEXI think I'll take my whistle and play a bit.
DEBBIEDon't be gone too long. I don't want to be left here by myself with giants and old gods and all that hanging around.
ALEXDon't worry.
DEBBIEBut do go far enough away I can't hear your playing.
ALEXI'm getting better!
DEBBIEAnd even better with distance. It's too bad you can't play it as well as you play the piano.
ALEXThis is more portable.
DEBBIEI guess I'm just thankful you didn't buy a set of bagpipes, or a kazoo or something. Alex?

Don't be gone long.

ALEXThanks, Deb.
[ALEX takes a tin whistle from her pack and exits. DEBBIE watches her go. When she has left, DEBBIE looks thoughtful as she unzips her pack. ALEX begins to play her whistle offstage. The playing is not superior, but it is also by no means painful to listen to.]
DEBBIEShe's getting better.
[DEBBIE listens to the music a moment. It is a lonely old tune that slightly echoes the song played by JOHN at the opening of the play. DEBBIE goes about spreading a picnic cloth. She sets out two paper plates. She is very nervous about being left alone. Suddenly a flute sounds, not too loudly, but loud enough not to be mistaken by the audience or drowned by the whistle playing. DEBBIE straightens up and looks quickly around. She is brought back to the foreboding nature of the stones.]
(shouting) If you want anything to eat, you'd better hustle or I'll eat it all myself.
ALEX(offstage) I'll be there in a minute!
[The whistle playing continues. DEBBIE goes to her pack and removes a sandwich. She sets it on her plate. She prays.]
DEBBIEThank you, God, for the food we eat,
Thank you, God, for the flowers sweet,
Thank you, God, for the birds in spring,
Thank you, God, for... for everything.

God?

Dear God...

Oh God...

(by rote) Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation,
But... but deliver us from...

God?

This place is scary God... But... the churches here... they have very nice churches, all of them, they're consistently very nice. They're beautiful, but God, God, is Alex right? Just glass and gold and glass and gold and stone?

(Guilty) This is a strange place to be, I, I know, especially on a Sunday, I wish I was in Church, but Alex... But here... They say you're everywhere so even if it is Sunday and I pray to you here and not in church you can still hear me, can't you?

God the Father, God the One God, God of the Christians, and no other gods in the immediate vicinity... Alex was just joking around when she was talking about more than one... god, wasn't she, there's nothing in that, that's just Alex. I know that.

Bless and protect us God the Father of Jesus. Both of us. Alex too. She's not a devout Christian, well, she's not a Christian at all, but she's not a Buddhist either. She reads some books and stuff and meditates, but just for relaxation, that's not prayer and she isn't worshipping false idols, that little jade thing is just for luck, a little superstition, please forgive her for it, but...

Deliver us from evil.

[Flute sounds loudly]
Who's that? Who's there!
[She gets up and cautiously peeks behind the stone where JOHN hid at the top of the show. As she goes behind it, JOHN comes around front and picks up the sandwich. He takes the sandwich and returns back behind the stones just as DEBBIE emerges from behind it by the other side. She doesn't notice the theft of the sandwich. She is nervous. The whistle playing has stopped. She looks up and around the circle but she cannot see ALEX.]
DEBBIEAlex!

[No response]
Alex, where are you!
ALEX(offstage) Here I am!
DEBBIEWell get over here! I'm going to start without you.
ALEX(offstage) In a minute!
DEBBIEHalf a minute!

[ALEX's whistle playing resumes. DEBBIE resumes praying.]
Oh, God, sorry to be interrupted, without closing, I usually close off with an amen as you know since you know everything and being perfect have a perfect memory anyway...

It's not easy to believe in you anymore. I'm trying, Alex thinks we've been to every church here, and, don't tell Alex, God, but I'm getting a little tired of churches. DEBBIE (cont.) You exist. I accept that as a fact. And if I can't feel you, in church, in these stones, wherever, that's just me, because you do exist. I know you do. I just can't feel you any more.

Amen.

[She takes the sandwich from ALEX's pack. She puts it on ALEX's plate and sits before her own. She notices the absence of her sandwich. She looks up and around with an expression on her face which seems to suggest that she very much regrets the loss of her sanity and the possibility of sandwich snitching old gods or giants in the immediate vicinity. ALEX enters.]
My sandwich is gone.
ALEXYou must have been hungry.
DEBBIENo, you don't understand. I didn't finish eating it.
ALEXYou packed it this morning?
DEBBIEOf course I packed it. I mean it was here one moment, then I went to... take a little look around and when I got back it was gone!... I don't think we're alone.
ALEXOh come on, Debbie, everyone's in church up here.
DEBBIENo, not everyone, I think... not... while you were gone, and I was... lost in thought, I heard a sound.
ALEXYou're letting your imagination get away with you.
DEBBIEI don't have imagination! And my imagination didn't take my sandwich.
ALEXThen what did?

[Pause]
DEBBIEA rabbit?
ALEXMaybe you ate it and are angling for some of mine.
DEBBIEI didn't!
ALEXAlright, a rabbit, very possibly a rabbit, a rabbit fond of tinned meat.
DEBBIEIt had lettuce.
ALEXThat they do like.
DEBBIE(reassuring herself) They do. Yes, they do. It must have been a rabbit.
ALEXSo I suppose I should give you half of mine.
DEBBIENo, I'll starve. I can afford to lose a few pounds.
ALEXYou sure? I brought dessert.
DEBBIEDessert?
ALEX(producing them from her pack) Flake bars!
DEBBIEAlex! You must have bought them yesterday!
ALEXSo. Still dieting?
DEBBIEWhen I finish my Flake bar.
ALEXI think I'll start with mine.
DEBBIEBut it's dessert.
ALEXDebbie, my dear friend, I am smart enough to know that should I begin with my sandwich you would be finishing your Flake bar just as I begin mine. Hungry from the rodent theft of your sandwich, you would then look at me in the most pathetic way and consumed with guilt I would be compelled to give you half of my Flake bar.
DEBBIELies!
ALEXWe will eat our Flakes together.

[They unwrap the chocolate bars.]
They're a little bit melted.
DEBBIEWho cares?
ALEXYou can have half my sandwich if you're still hungry.
DEBBIEThanks. They told us it would be raining all the time.
ALEXEspecially Alison. She really thought she got the pick of the assignments drawing Hawaii. Boring.
DEBBIEIf we'd brought our bathing suits this might as well be Hawaii.
ALEXYou know, on my trip here in '89 I visited a place on the coast that has palm trees.
DEBBIEIn Scotland?
ALEXYup. Warmed by the Gulf current or something. People were tanning there.
DEBBIEThis is the last place you'd actually think of bringing suntan oil and a bathing suit.
ALEXTrue.
DEBBIEAside from Fort McMurrary.
ALEXDeb?
DEBBIEAlex?
ALEXDo you want to get naked?
DEBBIE(pause)
ALEXWe could tan. Perfect day for it.
DEBBIENaked?
ALEXWhy not? Nobody's around to see us. Alison would freak if we came back from Northern Britain with fabulous tans.
DEBBIERemember what she said before she left? "I'll be thinking of you poor dears when I bask in the blazing Hawaiian sun."
ALEXSo what do you say?
DEBBIEAre you serious?
ALEXI'm going to. It's such a beautiful day.
DEBBIEIt is. We could.
ALEXYup.
DEBBIEThere's no one around.
ALEXJust us.
DEBBIEOh Alex! This is outrageous! I've never done anything like this before.
ALEXI have. I attended a nudist camp once.
DEBBIEOh Alex!
ALEXWhat do you mean "Oh Alex". There wasn't anything naughty or sexual about it. It was supposed to be the brave new old way of living, a return to nature and radiant health. I got sun burn, sun stroke and heat prostration. Then another time, a couple of years ago, before I got into meditation, I attended this group therapy sort of thing, sort of a licensed orgy, which was supposed to put us in closer touch with ourselves and everything around us. I came away from that with a dose of the clap. And I assume everyone else did too. Then there was that time with that cult of Satan worshippers...
DEBBIEAlex, you'd... you'd better be joking about that one...
ALEXThey weren't the bad kind, their hearts were in the right place, they were praying for an end to the clear-cutting of the world's rain forests. We all watched the papers for awhile, but no developments. They were going to meet again and sacrifice a chicken, but somehow I had the feeling that they could sacrifice an elephant and it wouldn't do any good, so I said my good-byes and they were sorry to see me go and they said they would pray for me. I smiled.
DEBBIEYou didn't have to do anything awful, like drink the blood of a virgin mixed with the semen of a goat?
ALEXNo, I think that's the Christmas ceremony.
DEBBIEThat's terrible, Alex.
ALEXOh, Debbie, dwell not upon my past disappointments. It's as beautiful a day as anyone could wish for, yes?
DEBBIE(feeling the sun on her face) Yes.
ALEXSo what are we going to do with it?
DEBBIE(looking around to see if anyone is there) Tan?
ALEXI couldn't have thought of a better idea myself.
DEBBIEOkay!
[They begin taking off their clothing. ALEX stops, however, after undoing her shirt. She watches DEBBIE as she undresses and talks.]
DEBBIEThis is crazy, Alex. But it's kind of fun. Good to get these socks off. I wore two pair thinking it was going to be cold. I hope we don't sunburn or anything. This is great! It's like owning the place, a big room with no ceiling, just a sky, and no one can see us.
ALEXGod can see you.
[By this point DEBBIE's shirt is off (she wears a bra) and her pants are at half mast. She stops undressing.]
DEBBIEWhat?
ALEXGod can see you. He sees everything.
[DEBBIE is angry and confused and scrambles to put her clothes back on.]
Debbie, there's no one here but us. We're alone.

[DEBBIE slows down a bit in her dressing.]
DEBBIEBut He's everywhere, you're right, He's... But... I... wonder.... Here? Can he see me here?
ALEX(shouting) God sees everything! God is everywhere! Big Father is watching you!
[DEBBIE renews her efforts to get dressed. She succeeds and looks at ALEX.]
I'm going to get naked in front of your god.
DEBBIENo.
ALEXI'm going to lay on this rock, spread my legs, and tell Him to come down and fuck me.
DEBBIEAlex, don't...

[ALEX throws her shirt on a nearby rock.]
Alex, please don't...

[ALEX throws her bra over the same rock.]
Please don't.

[ALEX unzips her fly.]
DON'T!

[ALEX stops, looks at DEBBIE.]
ALEXWhy not?
DEBBIEBecause... I don't know. Just don't. Please. For me?
[ALEX looks at DEBBIE as though seeing her for the first time. She starts to tremble.]
ALEXI'm cold...
[DEBBIE takes ALEX's shirt to her and wraps it around her. She hugs and comforts her.]
I'm not cynical by nature, Deb... I want to believe... in something, anything, like you...
DEBBIEGod exists.
ALEXAre you sure? Really sure?
DEBBIEI believe in God.
ALEXYou believe in God? That doesn't mean a damn thing, Debbie. I believed in Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, not to mention the Boogy-Man, but they didn't exist. You know what existed? Menstruation that was real. About that time the kiddy's fears and fantasies vanished, and Jesus wasn't so friendly like when I talked to him in my head at weddings, funerals, whenever I happened to be in church as a kid. Jesus was just another school teacher demanding absent slips when I skipped class.
DEBBIEAlex...
ALEXUntil I really needed him. Seventeen, I guess. I guess a lot of teenagers feel suicidal sometimes, I'm sure I wasn't special, but... I remembered how much better it was when I was a kid. I was watching a morning church program that said all you needed to do was to accept the Holy Spirit into your heart and you would find God and Jesus, and something nice would happen to me.

So I tried. Mom and Dad were out at the cabin so I took a chance. I got on my knees and I prayed to God and said I accepted the Holy Spirit into my heart. On my knees. In front of the TV. On Sunday morning. I was 17, I wasn't a child anymore. I waited. And waited. And waited.

DEBBIEI'm sorry, Alex.
ALEXHave you ever seen God, Debbie?
DEBBIENo.
ALEXEver seen a real miracle?
DEBBIEThe letters from those magazines saying that they were interested in my work and that I should...
ALEXNo, I mean really.
DEBBIENo.
ALEXDid you ever get the Holy Spirit?
DEBBIEYes. I thought did. It comes and goes.
ALEXYou ever read the Koran?
DEBBIENo.
ALEXThe Bhagavad-gita?
DEBBIEAre you kidding?
ALEXI could loan them to you. Along with some Buddhist stuff.
DEBBIEAlex, faith is not like buying a microwave, it's not something you shop around for.
ALEXMore like love at first sight.
DEBBIESomething like.
ALEXMaybe someday I'll look out across a crowded room, and leaning against the marble mantelpiece will be the god that was meant for me.
DEBBIEAlex, you're being cynical.
ALEXActually, my parents had picked out a god for me, we sort of grew up together, but after we had matured we could both see it wouldn't work out, so we went our separate ways.
DEBBIEWhy don't you finish your sandwich.
ALEXI've offended you. You really believe in that stuff.
DEBBIEIt's better than just wanting to.
ALEXProbably. No doubt. Of course.
[ALEX picks up her whistle and starts to leave. While pretending to be angry she is trying not to cry.]
DEBBIEWhere are you going?
ALEXTo leave you to your fate.
DEBBIEWhat do you mean?
ALEXI like playing my whistle here.
DEBBIEYou like playing your whistle everywhere.
ALEXHere especially.
DEBBIEYou played well.
ALEX(the compliment is unexpected and appreciated) Than you. I didn't know you were listening.
DEBBIEI wasn't. It sort of seeped into me while I wasn't looking, listening, whatever. Can we leave soon?
ALEXIt's like having an audience, these stones. It's like they listen.
DEBBIEI, I get that feeling too, but, um, I, I don't think it's so great. Can we go soon?
ALEX(taking up her sandwich) You want half?
DEBBIENo, I'm not hungry, actually, yes, I am, I am hungry.
ALEXWhich?
DEBBIEI am, I'd like half your sandwich, okay, please?
[ALEX gives her half which she proceeds to cram into her mouth and devour in a matter of seconds.]
(mouth full) I'm... (swallow) I'm finished.

[She hurriedly packs.]
Okay, lets go.
ALEXI'm not finished yet.
DEBBIELeave it for the rabbits.
ALEXI don't want to.
DEBBIEHurry.
ALEXGo without me.
DEBBIEAlex...
[ALEX sighs. She looks at the sandwich and looks around. Looks at the sandwich again. She gets up and throws it high into the air. JOHN enters in time to catch it. He takes a bite. Blackout.]

END OF ACT I

[To Act II]

1989 Eric Pettifor


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