The Moon Away by Edward Crosby Wells


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


ACT ONE Scene 1 Ė a bridge in Joeís dream

      AT RISE Ė the stage is in darkness.  A single LIGHT begins to
      fade JOE into view before spreading as it intensifies on the bridge
      fading into view.  The bridge, seemingly, goes nowhere.  There are
      steps leading up to and down from the bridge.




      JOE: (On the bridge, speaking directly to the audience.)  This is the
      dream . . . or nightmare.  You decide.  I am on a bridge.  Suddenly,
      the sun goes down as quickly as if someone had switched the lights
      off.  This sudden shift Ė this darkness Ė does not seem out of the
      ordinary.  I somehow have the knowledge that there is a force with
      specific form that I cannot grasp visually.  Yet, I know it exists. I
      know it has form and shape within its own dimensions . . . dimensions
      for which I have no sense to put them into perspective.  This force
      Ė this inexplicable entity Ė has the power to eclipse the sun by
      sheer will, enfolding me in the shadow of its omnipresence.  Is it
      God?
  I am overwhelmed by the thought of such an entity, so I
      fly.  I fly just above arms beginning to reach up for me, trying to
      pull me down.  Slowly, I descend toward the ground beneath the
      bridge.


      (The TORMENTORS Ė three hooded and cloaked figures Ė ominously
      sinister and ghost-like, appear and move hauntingly through the fog
      and shadows beneath the bridge.  They hiss and, in rasping voices,
      call: ďJoseph, JosephĒ etc.)



      They drag me underground . . .
      into the dark, damp regions of their underworld.  I recognize the
      futility of any effort to resist. Soon, after resigning myself to my
      captors, I try to remember where I was before I fell into their
      clawing, grabbing, clutching hands.  I am horrified.  Horrified at the
      faceless faces of these demons.  Horrified because I cannot remember
      any prior existence beyond suddenly finding myself on that bridge.
      Every attempt to remember causes unbearable pain . . . a savage
      anguish.  I understand it only as a feeling; a sensation of being
      dissolved in the face of infinity when one has come too close to its
      realization Ė that last conscious moment of I am before melting into
      the enigma of the eternal world without end Ė overwhelmed by the
      incomprehensible magnitude of it.  Have you ever felt that?  I
      have.

(The TORMENTORS continue to whisper and hiss.)

The
      shock of that impending oblivion causes me to wakeónot from sleep,
      but rather into another time and once again on that very same
      bridge.

(The TORMENTORS point accusingly at JOE.)
I hear voices
      accusing me of . . . what?  Whatever it is, I feel the weight of its
      guilt.  I think about flying to safety and I wonder about the
      direction to take, but I cannot move under the force of this guilt
      that restrains me from flight.  I come to realize that my very ability
      to flyóthe fact that I am ableóis proof of my guilt. (The
      TORMENTORS continue to whisper and hiss.)

Then, someone
      approaches.  I canít make out his face.  We struggle.  There is one
      thought on my mind. Kill him!  His death will be my absolution.  Kill
      him!  I push him from the bridge.  I watch him fall silently to the
      ground below.

(The TORMENTORS watch the invisible body as it
      falls, pointing to it, surrounding it.)

I think there ought to be
      a thud.  But, there is only silence.  I wonder: What if he isnít
      dead?  There must be no evidence of his ever having existed!  I see a
      large rock on the bridge.  I pick it up, raising it high above my
      head, and aim it at his face before hurling it with all the force that
      I can muster.  Suddenly, he disappears.  The rock strikes the empty
      ground and bounces, soundlessly, out of sight.

(The TORMENTORS
      disappear into the shadows.)

I fly away.  Not very fast.  Not
      very high.  But, I fly just the same.

(JOE descends from the
      bridge and walks downstage.)

Then, I am awake, soaked with sweat
      and feelings mixed with sorrow, guilt and remorseóa painful and
      complete sense of being utterly alone in all of time and space.  And I
      wonder: Can absolution be won through the trials of men in their
      search for Truth?  And I wonder: Was there ever innocence?  Or is
      there, indeed, an original crime for which Man can never be absolved?
      Is there no redemption?

Thatís it.  Thatís the dream . . . or
      the nightmare.  You be the judge.


      End Scene 1

      Scene 2 Ė a visiting room in the city jail

      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: (A thoughtful, pleasant, professional woman who
      appears as if from nowhere while finishing an entry in her notebook.)
      I am not here to judge, Joe.



      JOE: Well, Iím certainly not in any position.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Of course you are.  You know thereís been a
      substantial change.



      JOE: Has there?



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Donít you see it, Joe?



      JOE: Itís always the same.  Nothingís changed.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: What about the man on the bridge?

      JOE: What about him?

      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Any idea who he is . . . whom he
      represents?



      JOE: I told you, I couldnít see his face.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: No, but in the past it was always you who fell from
      the bridge.  (Reading from notebook.) ďI am on a bridge. Someone
      turns the lights out.  Someone approaches.  He grabs me.  We struggle.
      I fall from the bridge.  I wake.Ē (Thumbs through notebook.)  The
      following session: (Reads.) ďI am on a bridge.Ē (Looking through
      notes.)  Here it is.  (Reads.) ďI fall. I see the bridge as I fall.
      I think I am about to hit the ground.  I wonder why I cannot wake.  I
      am on the ground.  I look up and see someone on the bridge looking
      down at me.  He disappears.Ē



      JOE: Thatís right.  Weíve changed places.  What does that
      mean?



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I really canít say.  What do you think it means?
      JOE: I donít know. Itís a struggle with myself, maybe.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Maybe.



      JOE: Why?  Why would I want to hurt myself?  Why should I want to
      destroy myself . . .  so completelyóso finally?



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I donít know.  Why should you?

JOE: Well, I
      donít.


      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Good.  Joe, I want you to start writing down these
      dreams in more detail, along with how you feel about them at the time
      of the dream and then again upon reflection.



      JOE: I canít.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Why is that?

      JOE: Because they donít let me have a pen, paperónothing in
      this place.  I have to ask for my toothbrush every morning.  They
      wonít let me keep it with me.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I wasnít aware of that.

JOE: Yeah . . .
      well, I guess theyíre afraid Iím going to do myself in . . .
      disembowel myself with my multi-tufted Doctor Good-Dental.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Iím certainly glad to see that youíre keeping
      your sense of humor.



      JOE: And my sanity?



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Was there ever any doubt?

JOE: I think . . .
      no, I feel . . . I feel that Iím going to lose it in here.  Oh, God.
      Iím so afraid.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Youíre doing very well, Joe.  Iím proud of
      you.



      JOE: Yeah . . . well . . . I wish I were.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Do you want to talk about it . . . what youíre
      feeling?



      JOE: I hate the kid!  I hate his mother! I hate the whole stinking
      idea of it!



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: What are your thoughts about the boy . . . his
      mother?



      JOE: Iím sorry.  Iím really not up to this.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: All right.  We donít have to if you donít want
      to. But, sooner or later youíll have to deal with it, Joe.


      JOE: I know.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Good.  Any word about when youíre being
      transferred to the county jail?



      JOE: If Conrad canít come up with the bond money . . . in two days,
      I think.  (A pause to control his mounting panic.)  Oh, God.  Iím
      not going to make it, Doctor.  Iím not going to make it.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, you are.  Youíll be just fine.

JOE: No,
      I wonít.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Joe, youíve held together better than should be
      expected of anybody going through what youíve been going through.



      JOE: Iím not through it yet . . . not nearly.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: No, but this is no time to lose control.  (Glances
      at her watch.)  I have an appointment at the hospital. Will you be all right?



      JOE: Yes.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Good. Is there anything I can do?

JOE: Talk to
      Conrad. Tell him to come up with the money.  Rob it, if he has to.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Seriously.



      JOE: Seriously? Seriously, I donít know.  I just donít know.


      
THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Iíll do what I can.



      JOE: I know you will.  Thank you.  (THE PSYCHOLOGIST turns to leave.)
      Wait.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes?



      JOE: No. Nothing.  Just . . . just know that I am innocent.



      THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I believe you, Joe.  (She disappears.)



      End Scene 2

      Scene 3 Ė the same

      CONRAD: (Appearing suddenly.)  I love you, Joe.



      JOE: Then, how can you leave me here?



      CONRAD: Iím doing everything I can.



      JOE: Iím scared.

      CONRAD: I know you are.  Look, in a few days I think we can
      raise the money.



      JOE: How?  You tell me how weíre going to come up with enough money
      to cover a hundred thousand-dollar bond.  Huh?  Tell me, Connie, tell me!



      CONRAD: I donít know yet.  Weíre working on it.

JOE: Working
      on it.  I may be dead in a few days!

CONRAD: Youíre being unreasonable.



      JOE: Go to hell!



      CONRAD: Joe, I canít talk to you when you get like this.



    JOE: Theyíre going to kill me, Connie.

CONRAD: Who?  Whoís going
      to kill you?

JOE: Youíll see.  Youíll see that Iím right.

      CONRAD: No. I wonít.  Youíre just being paranoid.



      JOE: (Mimicking.)  Youíre just being paranoid.  (After a pause.)  You
      donít love me.  You never loved me.



      CONRAD: Stop talking nonsense.



      JOE: Nonsense?  Nonsense is it?  Connie, theyíre shipping me off to
      the county jail in two days.  You should hear what the guys in the
      cells on either side of me have to say about that place.  Last month
      they found a guy hanging.  Hung himself, they said. I mean, he had his
      hands tied behind his back, but he hung himself!  The talk is
      theyíll cut my balls off when they find out what Iím in here for.



      CONRAD: Nobodyís going to cut your balls off.



      JOE: Itís not like here in the city jail.  Up there itís
      different, Connie.  They throw you in with all kinds of criminals.  Do
      you know what they do to child molesters?



      CONRAD: Youíre not a child molester, Joe.



      JOE: I know that.  You know that.  But, do you think they give a
      shit?  Christ.  Wait until they find out Iím a faggot.

CONRAD:
      That has nothing to do with anything.



      JOE: You know, Connie, youíre perfectly stupid sometimes.



      CONRAD: (Obviously hurt.)  Thanks. Thanks a lot, Joe.  Iím sure you
      think I deserve your abuse.  Iím sorry you feel that way.  (Turns to
      leave.)  Maybe when I come back youíll be in a better mood.



      JOE: Donít bother. Just leave me alone.  (After a pause.)  Wait!



      CONRAD: (Turning back Ė tired and drained.)  What?  What, Joe?
      What do you want from me?



      JOE: Understanding.  Patience.  Love.

      CONRAD: Youíve already got that, Joe.  Did it ever occur to
      you that I might want the same?


      JOE: You get it.

      CONRAD: From you?  Thatís a joke.  When you want something maybe.



      JOE: No, not just when I want something.



      CONRAD: It sure seems that way.



      JOE: Well, Iím sorry.



      CONRAD: Yeah . . . me, too.



      JOE: Iím scared, Connie.  Iím scared.

      CONRAD: I know you are.  So am I.



      JOE: But, youíre not the one in jail.



      CONRAD: No. Iím not the one in jail.  Iím the one left to pick up
      the pieces.



      JOE: Oh, poor shat-upon Conrad.



      CONRAD: Look, Joe, Iím doing what I canóall I can.  I canít do
      anymore.



      JOE: You think Iím guilty.

      CONRAD: No.  I donít think youíre guilty.  Iíll do what I
      can to get you out of here as soon as possible.



      JOE: (After a pause.)  I know you will . . . I love you, Connie.

      

CONRAD: And I love you.  Joe, you need to take things
      one day at a time.

JOE: Oh, thanks for the platitude.  (CONRAD
      disappears.)  Donít you think I know that?  I take things one minute
      at a time in here.



      End Scene 3

      Scene 4 Ė the same

      THE LAWYER:  (Appears.  Scribbles throughout scene on a yellow legal
      pad.)  Take it step by step, Joe.



      JOE: Iím trying.  For Godís sakeóIím trying.



      THE LAWYER: All right.  Calm down and get hold of yourself.  (Pause.)
      Are you okay?



      JOE: Yes.



      THE LAWYER: Why did you have the kid naked?



      JOE: I told you.



      THE LAWYER: A twelve-year old boy, Joe, naked?



      JOE: I didnít want to get any oil on his posing-briefs.

      THE LAWYER: Come on, Joe.  Do you expect a jury to buy that?



      JOE: Yes.  Itís true.



      THE LAWYER: Okay, answer me this: Had it been a twelve year old girl
      would you have had her naked?



      JOE: Of course not.



      THE LAWYER: Why not?



      JOE: Obviously . . . because . . . because it wouldnít be right.  I
      mean, a grown man and a twelve-year-old girl.  What do you take me
      for?



      THE LAWYER: But, a boy makes it all right?



      JOE: In hindsight, I guess not.  But at the time . . . yes . . . I
      thought it did.



      THE LAWYER: Even though youíre homosexual?



      JOE: What should that have to do with it?



      THE LAWYER: Come on, Joe.  Who do you think youíre kidding?  It has
      everything to do with it.


      JOE: I told you there was nothing sexual about it.  I didnít think,
      thatís all.


      THE LAWYER: Well, youíd better start thinking now because the
      Assistant D. A. already is.



      JOE: Believe me, Iím not turned-on by little boys.  Thatís not my
      thing. I was thinking about what I had to do to get the job done.  I
      was thinking about poses . . . about lighting and about props, but I
      wasnít thinking about anything sexual with that kid.  I mean, we
      were both males and I didnít see anything wrong with it.  If the kid
      got horny and thought there was something more to it than there was,
      then it was in his headónot mine.

      THE LAWYER: That may well be.  The jury may see it otherwise.



      JOE: Donít you believe me?



      THE LAWYER: Thatís beside the point.



      JOE: That is the point.  If you donít believe me, how can a jury?
      How can you defend me?



      THE LAWYER: Try and understand what Iím going to tell you. You and
      Conrad came out here five years ago from New York.  Right?



      JOE: Yes.  Right.  So what?



      THE LAWYER: This is another world, Joe.  Youíve never really
      understood that.  You came to town and got yourself involved with the
      little theatre, the arts council andó



      JOE: (Interrupts.)  Whatís wrong with that?  I thought I had
      something to offer.



      THE LAWYER: Let me finish.  You did have something to offer.  You and
      Conrad have contributed greatly.  I know that and some of our friends
      know that.  But this is Lea County, New Mexico.  Most of the people
      here look askance on outsiders who blow into town and try to change
      things overnight.



      JOE: Is that how you see it?



      THE LAWYER: It doesnít matter how I see it.  Iím telling you how
      things are.  Three of your photographs were removed last year from an
      exhibition at the public library by the City Manager.



      JOE: There was nothing wrong with them.  Youíve seen them.
      Theyíre hanging in my studio.  Iím a first-rate photographer.
      Itís not my fault if some stupid, narrow-minded people thought they
      were ďtoo suggestive.Ē


      THE LAWYER: No, I suppose it isnít, but that is exactly what Iím
      trying to make you understand.  Your fault or not, it doesnít
      matter.  Are you listening?



      JOE: Iím listening.


      THE LAWYER: That jury will be made up of oil field workers, ranchers,
      farmers, and their wives.  Can you identify with them?  Can you
      understand where theyíre coming from?

      JOE: I wasnít hatched, you know.



      THE LAWYER: Damn it, Joe!  Iím trying to tell you what youíre up
      against.



      JOE: So, if Iím to listen to you, Iím already convicted, arenít I?



      THE LAWYER: Youíre not listening to anybody.  I didnít say that.
      I just want you to understand what it is we are up against hereówith
      what it is we have to deal.



      JOE: Yeah, I get the picture.  These good church-going,
      family-oriented fundamentalist hypocrites are going to bury my
      ass.



      THE LAWYER: (Losing his patience.)  Stop playing the fool.  If we
      have to go to trial, you can be sure the Assistant D. A. is going to
      play up to that jury like the good olí boy he is.  Heís nobodyís
      fool.  Now, tell me: Why did you have the kid naked?



      JOE: Look.  I made a mistakeóa stupid, regrettable mistake.  I
      usually wait in the reception area while my client is changing, but he
      was late.  I had an appointment across town in less than an hour and I
      hadnít set the lights or the backdrop.  So, I told him to go ahead
      and change while I set up.  The next thing I know he was standing
      there naked and I said, ďLetís put the oil on now so we donít
      stain your posing-briefs anymore than we have to.Ē  Thatís it.  It
      was stupid and Iím sorry, but Iím telling you that there was
      nothing sexual whatsoever about it.

      THE LAWYER: Then, you applied baby oil to his body. Correct?



      JOE: Yes.  I told you that already.

      THE LAWYER: Tell me again.



      JOE: Look. I had to cover him with baby oil.  Thatís what his
      mother wanted.  She came to the studio. She said that she
      wantedó



      THE LAWYER: (Stopping him.)  When?  When did she come to the
      studio?



      JOE: A couple days before the shoot.



      THE LAWYER: Go on.



      JOE: She came to the studio.  She said that she was entering her son
      in a photogenic contest and wanted me to take the pictures.  She said
      she wanted . . .

      End Scene 4

[end of extract]



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