Enough of that philosophical and political mumbo jumbo. It's time for some artsy fartsy crap! Here's a short play I wrote for the people at church. They performed it a few months ago to the questioning faces of tens of people at The Grove, a bi-weekly gathering of young adults at church; young adults who, I am afraid to admit, grow increasingly younger than I. The play is short - very short - so you don't have to worry too terribly much. It isn't Death of a Salesman or anything.
The play is entitled, "The Ghost" and, of course, it is copywritten by me (except for the parts I plagiarized from more talented authors).
A young woman (Ann) walks into work. Her shoulders are slumped. She looks shy and even a little scared. Or maybe she is hiding something. Right next to her is another woman (Ghost), lavishly dressed, who looks as though she believes that she owns the world. There is a pompous and arrogant air about her, and though she believes al of existence is beneath her.
Ann sits at her desk to start her day. She doesn’t want to talk to anybody. Her coworkers mill about, talking about different things. The Ghost sits next to her with her feet up on the desk, her hands behind her head. The Ghost glares at Ann, who tries not to notice for a few seconds, before she turns to The Ghost in frustration and speaks.
Ghost: (sarcastically) Oh, nothing. It’s just that we rode all the way in today and you didn’t say anything nice about my new haircut.
Ann: Oh … it looks nice. (she turns back to her work, barely having looked at Ghost’s hair).
Ghost: And my new jacket? What about that?
Ann: (angrily, without looking at Ghost): It looks nice, too.
Ghost takes her feet off the desk and gives Ann a nasty look
Ghost: Well I’m glad I didn’t come to work dressed in this (she gestures towards what Ann is wearing). I swear. You look worse than usual today.
Ann lowers her head in shame.
Ghost (seeing that this hurts Ann, she leans in closer and speaks slowly, jeeringly) : If that’s even possible.
Ann lowers her head even more and sits at her desk. She doesn’t move. A co-worker, Brian, pops up and says hi. Brian is happy. He is on the edge of laughter. Ghost crosses her arms and sits closely to Ann.
Brian: Hey Ann, what’s goin’ on?
Ann (quickly composing herself) : Oh, hi Brian … nothing … I was just … umm … trying to … catch up on some sleep? (she laughs weakly)
Ghost: (mad) You’re a moron.
Brian (laughing): Don’t I know it! I was up late watching the game. Did you see it?
Ann: Oh, yeah! I saw it too. I was up till 3.
Brian: You did! So you saw…
Ann: In the bottom of the ninth inning …
Brian: When Griffey made that catch against the wall….
Brian and Ann together: …and threw the guy out at home plate.
They laugh together for a second, and then look at each other in silence for a second. Ann smiles. Brian smiles back. They stay this way for a second, then…
Ghost (still mad) : You disgust me. You’re pathetic.
Ann stiffens a bit and lowers her head, looking at the floor She is ashamed. .
Brian: There’s another game this weekend. We could go if you’re interested. I know this guy who works at the park … makes the best hotdog you’ve ever seen! Sound like fun?
Ghost: Oh please. Is HE asking YOU out? (she lets out mean laughter). He must be really desperate.
Brian: I have an extra ticket! …
Ann: Weeeelllll (considerding it, and leaning towards yes)…
Ghost gets right up next to Ann’s ear, speaking quickly and forcibly. As she speaks, Ann shrinks back further and further until she is looking straight at the floor.
Ghost: You can’t go out with him. You have other things to do. You have to clean your house. You have to call your parents. … And he’s not really interested in you. You’re too ugly…too stupid. He’s probably doing it on a dare. I bet his friends put him up to it. See those people laughing over there? That’s them, and they’re laughing at you! He’s not really interested! They hate you. They all hate you. You’re not worth it!
Ann (dejectedly, with her head down) : No … Sorry … I can’t.
Brian (surprised and confused) : Oh, ok. … well, see ya.
Ann: See ya.
Brian walks away shaking his head. Ghost relaxes and assumes a happier demeanor.
Ghost: Can you believe that guy? The nerve of him!
Ann gets up and starts to leave.
Ghost: (with much derision) Where are you going?
Ann stops in her tracks, turns around, and almost shouts.
Ann: Why did you do that? Why do you always do that?
Ghost: (sarcastically surprised) Why did I do what?
Ann: Why do you keep me from meeting people? Why do you keep me from enjoying life? Why do you always tell me that nobody likes me or could possible love me?…Why do you constantly tell me I’m worthless?
Ghost dons a wicked smile, pauses, then speaks.
Ghost: Because you are.
Ann is taken aback. She is shocked. She takes a second to compose herself.
Ann: Well … what if I tell you leave? What it if cut you out of my life? What then?
Ghost: This again? (She laughs) Well go ahead if you like. Give it a shot. See if it works. You’ve tried before, you know. And each time you come crawling back. Each time you’ve begged to come back. You might leave with promises of a new life, a life without me. But the truth is that you can’t live without me. The truth is that I’m right and you know it. I am the secret you tell no one. I’m the only one who loves you, the only one who accepts you as you are: a pathetic and worthless excuse for a woman. You can never leave me. So go ahead. Try if you want to. But take my word for it. You’ll be back.
Ann lowers her head again and starts to walk back towards Ghost. She has finally submitted to the truth she never wanted to believe: that the creature before her (and rest assured it is just that, a creature) is right. She can never leave. She will always bebeholden to it.
But just then another young man approaches from down the hallway. He is wearing white clothing (if we have a spot light, we should shine it on him, but I don’t think we’ll have one). Ann doesn’t recognize him, but Ghost starts to get a bit nervous.
Man: Hello, Ann, how are you?
Ann: (warily) : Fine … do I know you?
Man: Maybe. We’ve met a couple of times, but you probably don’t remember me.
Ann: Oh … I’m fine. How are you doing?
Man: I’m well. I’m well.
Ghost: (more nervous still) Don’t listen to him! He’s no good. He’s a bad man. Turn away from him and come back to me.
Ann (speaking to the man hurriedly) : Oh, that’s nice…well, have a nice day.
Ann turns to leave.
Ann starts to turn back.
Man: You haven’t introduced your friend.
Ann faces the man full on. She is shocked once again. And frightened.
Ann: My friend? What you do mean my friend?
Man: Yes. You’re friend sitting over there by the desk with the sour look on her face. What is its name?
Ann: You mean you can see her?
Man: Yes, dear. I can.
The Ghost comes up to Ann’s ear again and starts speaking into her ear like before. This time, she is frightened. Very frightened.
Ghost (quickly) : He’s lying. He’s trying to trick you. Don’t listen to him. Don’t even look at him. Come back to your desk with me and forget all about him. Come back with me and never think of this, this thing, again.
Ann doesn’t pay attention to the Ghost. She is intrigued by the Man. But she is still skeptical.
Ann: If you can see her, that means …
Man: That means I know your secret. I know the sin you hide in your heart like a locked treasure. I know you, fully and completely.
Ann: But how?
Man: Because you prayed to God for help and he sent me. I am an angel sent by the Lord to free you from your secret, to free you from your sin.
Ghost: What!? I thought I told you to stop that! I thought I told you that God never answered prayers! What have you been doing behind my back!
Angel: You see, my love? It doesn’t know all. It can’t see everything the way God does. All it can do is lie and hurt.
Ghost: Tell him to shut up! Tell him to go away, you maggot. Tell him you don’t want his help. Tell him you’re perfectly happy with your stupid life the way it is. Tell him to tell God to go to Hell!
Ann winces with every word from the Ghost. She can hardly stand it. When it finishes speaking, Ann holds her head as if she is in pain.
Angel: Would you like me to make it quiet?
Ann (looking hopefully): Yes, yes of course!
The Angel moves toward the Ghost
Angel: Then I will kill it.
As the Angel moves closer to Ann, she winces in pain yet again.
Ann: Watch out! You’re burning me … Stay away from me. Stop hurting me!
The Angel stops where he is.
Angel: Don’t you want me to silence it?
Ann: You didn’t say anything about killing? I didn’t want God to do anything as big as that!
Angel: Don’t you see, dear? It’s the only way. May I kill it?
Ann: But I can’t live without it. If you kill it, you will kill me along with it.
Angel (softly, like a parent speaking to a small child): No I won’t, dear. You have listened to lies. It’s time to stop that. God has heard your pleas. He loves you. He has always loved you. … Please, let me kill it.
Ann: Oh, but I can’t tell you to do that! Why are you doing this to me? Why didn’t you just kill it without asking? It would all be over by now if you had.
Angel: I can’t kill it without your permission. It is impossible … May I kill it?
The Angel moves closer to the Ghost. His hands are almost around her neck.
Ghost: ----tirade of swears at Ann---
As the Ghost’s insults fly faster and faster, Ann covers her ears and nearly doubles over in pain. She screams.
The Ghost stops cold.
Ann: Alright. Do it and be done with it. (then, almost whimpering) God help me. God help me.
The Angel wrestles the Ghost to the ground and the Ghost snarls and bites back. He takes the Ghost into the shadows, where we cannot see them, and we hear the Ghost scream as she dies. Ann winces and doubles over in pain. The Angel comes back into the light by himself. He is smiling. He places a hand on Ann’s shoulder and she stands up.
Angel: It is done. Your sin is gone.
Ann looks around to verify that the Ghost is no longer with her. When she realizes the truth, she brightens. She stands up straight, smiling. She hugs the Angel who hugs her back.
Ann: Thank you. Thank you. Tell God how much I love him.
Angel: He knows, dear.
Ann looks around again
Ann: Is it really over?
Angel: Not, quite dear … Look.
Surrounding the stage are many different people, the people Ann works with every day. Each of them is engaged in their normal activities, but at each person’s ear is another Ghostt, spewing hatred and lies. They start off silent and motionless, then, one by one, each group begins talking and we see and hear the Ghosts above all else. The Ghosts vile threats and words of hatred fill the air. Then they are silent as the lights again show only Ann and The Angel.
Angel: Come, my dear. (he motions to the lost souls that surround them) There is much work to do.