Fiction and Drama
We used to call him ”Satan“
Fau. How comes it then that thou art out of hell?
Meph. Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Marlowe, Dr. Faustus
The actor playing 1 is a man.
The actor playing 2 is a woman.
The following is heard on tape
a girl’s voice
coming from an old tape recorder
playing in the corner of the theater.
These are the rules for the conjuration:
this play must be performed indoors if it is to be effective
perform it exactly as written and
in thirty minutes
you will have summoned the devil out of hell
and bound him in a magic circle
as the audience enters they see:
on a stage as bare as open to the investigative eye as possible:
a candle burning on a little table center stage
the candle is a severed left hand
covered over with an amalgam of virgin wax
and various mixed herbs
there are wicks stuck in the ends of the fingers
a circle is drawn in white chalk on the black floor
in the center of the circle
two bodies lie under a large white sheet
they are motionless
a tape player plays in a corner of the room
mechanical ghost voices
sharp and angry
emanating from the tape player
rapidly overlapping they say:
You want to talk about a tragedy? / Serious though, fuck that little bitch / plays aint that scary I’ve seen worst in life I mean just look at those horror movies they got out today / are you kidding me? are you seriously telling her to rest in peace / I wish people would stop connecting a whole country race with this tragedy / Give me some bullshit about Jesus and forgiveness / that guy coulda died a long time ago / you’re an asshole / that guy was destined to be a killer since birth / delusional, paranoid schizophrenic, homicidal maniacs / we then attribute it to “evil” / you make me sick / His relatives say he was “cold” as a child / she should burn in hell extra crispy / R.I.P. to everyone who died / you can’t help yourself / and for that I am deeply saddened / But like I said, since her creation, this one was not meant to live a happy life / Even though I’m sorry for the deaths / GO suck ur mum u fuckin freak / That is also a fucking tragedy / mercy / a stressful environment . . . basically children away from their mentally abusive parents for the first time / What handful of greedy people or political movement does this benefit / But no one took it seriously / However I do grieve for the family they lost a mother too / What Strange Thing Happened? / condolences to the bereavers / a terrible ordeal, is there any live video footage? / Only Jesus Can Save Us . . . / what was that sound / what is he saying? / ur a fukin cunt have some respect / I wonder what
. . . had experienced or what made . . . became a killer / i wish there was something i could do to fix all of the terrible things that have happened / just think, one person with a ccw could have stopped it all / Let go of fear and spread good like an infection and it will spread / Things tragic like this can happen and its the devils weird way of getting through to people. I dont think that there is any reason to b angry with God. / I’m not religious at all, but if there’s a Hell, she’s surely in it now,
writing more shitty plays
and getting exactly what she deserves.
The lights are out.
The bodies under the sheet begin slowly to move.
They reach, one for the other
and pull each other close.
Their limbs entwine.
A moan from underneath.
One mounts the other.
We cannot see them.
Moaning louder, then:
No that’s —
Wait wait I said wait wait —
Stop I said STOP.
It’s too —
1 screams and 2 screams. They are very different screams.
The sheet rises up lifted and propped by a wooden pole
and we see two girls, Rosie (1) and Lulu (2),
12 years old, sitting together in a white tent in the woods.
Rosie (1) is clearly in charge.
Tell me again about the devil.
The devil has a long scaly green body, like a dinosaur.
He walks on two legs and three heads.
The left head is just like pink-skinned and groggy and asleep and kind of drooling all the time.
The right head is a dragon head. Like a Chinese dragon.
With a mustache?
Exactly. And the middle head?
The middle head? Is horrible to look at.
Describe it to me.
I don’t think you want to know.
It’s going to give you nightmares.
I don’t care. I want nightmares. I like nightmares.
Tell me what he looks like.
The middle head.
As I remember it.
As I remember it.
The middle head has a thick black knotted head of hair.
Except each strand of the hair?
— is a penis.
Yes it is!
Each strand of hair, if you look close, is a bruised, purplish, black and poison penis.
With a black oil liquid leaking out of the end.
Yes. It is.
And his eyes? Are like two black pinheads stuck into a chunk of rotten meat.
They are beady and dark and filled with hunger.
What is the devil hungry for?
. . . Revenge.
Yes. He wants to take revenge on all the people for being stupid all the time and then blaming all their stupid mistakes on him.
I could almost feel for this Devil.
You wouldn’t say that if you saw him.
You know why?
Because all the fingers of his hands?
They are penises too.
And because, not only are his hair and hands a mass of wet poisonous penises,
— his tongue is one too.
It is. As I remember it. It is.
And from the tip of this tongue-penis there comes the nastiest stream of obscenity, the worst most ugly things —
He says them?
No! That’s the thing!
He doesn’t say them.
They are written down.
It comes from the tip of his tongue.
Like a scroll.
Like a fortune cookie.
A hot streaming list of all the worst things written down on this scroll that comes from the end of his penis-tongue.
I told you you didn’t want to know. Don’t blame me when you wake up crying.
When did you see him last?
I only ever saw him that one time. Didn’t I tell you?
Tell me again.
I was born dead.
I came out of my mother and
I wasn’t breathing.
I had been fine. I was strong.
But then? When I hit the air?
And so my father, who is a doctor?
He pulled me out and rushed with me
into the next room —
my little body like some half-inflated red balloon.
So my father, he takes his knife
and he makes this cut in me
here — see?
Rosie (1) shows Lulu (2) a scar underneath her tongue.
He cut open a hole in my throat
underneath my tongue
so I could breathe
and he shoved a little splinter in there
under my tongue
so the hole wouldn’t close
and then he lifted my face to his
put his lips to mine
— and he blew.
Yes. He blew his breath right into me.
And I started crying.
And I lived.
You are so lucky.
Is that when you saw the Devil?
Right when I was dead.
Before I came back.
I got a look at him.
What does your father look like?
As I remember him.
1 & 2 come out of the white tent.
The sheet rises behind them, like a movie screen.
The sound of a film projector and a flickering white light.
1 & 2 change —
1 from Rosie into The Test Subject
and 2 from Lulu into The Scientist.
Both are middle-aged men.
The Test Subject speaks with a flat affect covering some internal struggle.
The Scientist speaks energetically, enthusiastically — a jovial raconteur.
Then they take up positions stage left and stage right
facing the audience as if being interviewed.
They are not aware of each other as they speak.
Swiftly back and forth:
I met him only that once. Jonathan. The Doctor.
Of course I knew him. We were on a team together as grad students at MIT.
This is fifteen — twenty years ago.
I was. I was Troubled. Back then.
Very quiet. Very clean.
Been in and out of homes, did a little time. You know. I did what I needed to —
The rest of us are working on these stupid little things — a blender that goes when you yell at it, a toaster that burns the day’s weather forecast into your bread — high-tech novelty consumer goods.
I did clinical drug testing. Psychological testing.
Sold my semen. Sold my kidney. Sold my blood.
All the normal things people do for money.
But Johnny, he would keep himself locked behind some door, at a distance —
working absolutely silently, you know —
and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere would come this
Stream of obscenity —
just the most horrible chain of invective you could imagine.
So. I was — down on my luck. At this particular time. I hitchhiked cross the country from Salt Lake City, had a couple friends in Boston I was gonna stay with, get back on my feet. Get there, friends are gone, my money’s gone, I know no one and I am fucked.
It was terrifying the first few times it happened.
Pardon my French.
But eventually we grew accustomed to it.
We even kind of liked it, laughed about it.
We actually had this name for him —
So I answer this ad. ’Nother test subject needed. Looking for young American men with criminal records. First time that did me any good. And I am desperate so in I go.
Did anyone tell you this? This is hilarious.
That’s where I met him. John. It was his experiment, his test.
“What’re you gonna do to me?” I asked him.
“I am going to give you life,” he says.
We used to call him
Behind his back, you know. Not to his face.
It was — The Exorcist had just come out and when he went off?
He sounded like that.
I sign some papers. I lie on a table. They put me under.
Like that little possessed girl in The Exorcist.
Sometime later I come out. And I
Like the worst hangover you ever had.
My face feels bruised and swollen
like they disconnected my jaw.
Hurts to talk,
hurts to chew.
End of the semester, it comes time to present our work. And Johnny, he takes us into his little white cube and shows us this tiny white chip. No bigger than a ceramic tile.
“What is it?” we ask —
under my tongue
I can feel there’s this
A mess of stitches there and I can’t help run my tongue over it.
“What is it?” I ask.
1 & 2
“It’s a soul,” he says.
He explains to me. I still don’t understand.
It’s your soul, he says.
There’s a corny acronym — “Subcutaneous Observational something something.”
Basically, of course, what it is — it’s a leash.
It hurt so much. I wanted it out. I got angry and the angrier I got the more it hurt.
It’s a biologically supported surveillance device —
not altogether dissimilar from a house arrest cuff, but you know —
it’s on the inside
and it’s there forever.
I wanted to kill him.
We were all jealous as hell.
In retrospect, I guess, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
But it was hard, you know,
to see that at the time.
Of course it allows for external monitoring of a subject’s whereabouts —
big deal —
the more diabolical application —
the aspect that has the ACLU so irate —
is its employment as an “antisocial impulse deterrent.”
is a prosthetic device.
Which is of course what the government wanted it for.
A synthetic conscience.
Which is how he made his name and fortune.
Most people get a feeling
when they do something wrong
and they stop.
They stop themselves.
for whatever reason
were born without that.
So I made you one. I made you a conscience.
And now you can do no wrong.
It works on the inner ear.
When an “ensouled subject” starts to veer off course —
becomes violent, overly sexually stimulated, even tries to tell a simple lie —
the soul kicks in.
Makes ’em sick as a dog. Can’t move. Knocks them right out.
you can imagine
I was —
I was really angry.
But the anger.
It made me so sick.
Sick all the time.
Wandering around my apartment my head swimming through these greasy waves of nausea.
I had to forgive.
I had to change.
I had to accept the better man that I was becoming.
Johnny would talk to me more than anyone. That’s true.
I had to —
I would ask him about his love life.
“Got a victim?” I asked.
When I finally saw her I kind of felt bad about putting it that way.
I got a job.
I went back to school.
I met a girl.
believing in things again.
This was the Christmas party our second year.
He showed up with Helen on his arm?
A guy like that.
To go out the way he did.
His own flesh and blood.
1 changes into Helen.
The disturbing thing
which I guess we should have seen as a
when Helen arrived at the party
she was wearing a beautiful champagne-colored dress —
just beautiful —
elegant string of pearls —
a deeply stained gauze bandage
covering the left side of her face.
2 changes into John.
Helen sits on a chair facing away from John.
They are in their late twenties.
What’s the matter?
What’s the matter?
Turn to me.
Turn to me please.
Now tell me what’s wrong.
You hurt me.
When did I do that?
you were enjoying it.
I was. At first.
You play rough.
You were my first.
That’s — nice.
I’m sorry if I hurt you.
I like a little of that.
A little rough.
What was it?
You bit me.
. . .
I won’t —
I won’t do it again.
I won’t ever do it again.
No. You see. I want you to. I did like it.
Not so hard.
I have to learn.
I’ve never done this.
My parents you know —
they wouldn’t talk about —
I don’t even know what I like.
You’re very good.
Yes. You’re very very good.
Yes. You’re very very good.
Yes. You’re very very good.
. . .
(A cruel change)
Get the book.
It will come.
GET THE FUCKING BOOK!
2 meekly rushes offstage.
(Matter-of-factly, to the audience.)
The Devil Loves Expulsion.
2 returns with a large script.
2 flips through, finds the next line,
looks nervously to 1,
and they return to character.
(Reading, then remembering.)
I’ve heard that some couples.
Who — play the way we do?
They. They keep a word between them.
It’s a contract.
A word they’ve both agreed on.
So that when things become
one can speak the word
and the other will know
to stop the play
before someone gets hurt.
I like that.
Gets hurt for real.
we should have a word like that.
I thought so.
A magic word.
So I’ll know when to stop.
I love you.
I never want to hurt. You.
I become a lion
when we’re together
I want to devour you.
It feels so deep
I want to crush you under me.
What should our word be?
I don’t know.
How about —
2 dresses as a devil in a wooden mask.
1 dresses as a demon in a wooden mask
I love you.
And I love you.
They kiss in their wooden masks. Clack.