Gillian is asleep, her arm curved round a trimly tapered waist, her hand caressing idly a semi-flaccid penis... which stirs... its accordion folds extending in a hopeful yawn. Her fingers tighten; but this is merely a reflex—Michael's phallus lifts a moment, stiffens with expectation, then wilts in a waning throb as the hand goes limp...

... caressed again, the penis being fondled is dissimilar... still responsive... still swelling under pressure... but proportions are unique. The fingers, too, have undergone a subtle transformation—feminine turned to masculine; Morgan disavows their hold, pretends their furtive grasp belongs to... 

... hips adjusted, Michael is perceptibly re-aroused. Gillian, on her side, has drooled a puddle of saliva that collects within the crook of her naked arm below her curls. Her gooey lips, their sideways pucker, prompt the member's owner to infringe... intrude... invade... to disregard her shocked expression (he has jolted her awake), to overrule her look of abject panic... indignation... disappointment... mock acceptance. Thrusts continue, quicken, surge...

... an urgent spurt of semen arcs and plops on Morgan's belly; the hand that has induced it ceases rubbing—save to squeeze, to milk a heavy dollop of the squandered seed, then slacken... acknowledging its last-resort complicity.

 

RICHARD

          "Sssssssssssex."

JACOB

          "Depending upon the stage of development, detachment from the uterine wall can be accomplished with a simple..."

LAURA

          "Mother, father, mater, pater, mother, father, mater, pater..."

MONICA

          "Mother!"

Silence fills a sudden pause. Monica is standing downstage (left) on a disk set flush to the floorboards. It revolves... slowly... almost imperceptibly. A spotlight isolates her body. Elsewhere, the stage goes dark. Monica gathers her flowing skirt in fistfuls. The synthesizer, simulating a music box, plucks a variation of "Rock-a-bye Baby." Richard adds a counter theme, reciting verse and scripture from the Bible.

RICHARD

          "And Irad begot Mehujael; and Mehujael begot Methushael; and Methushael begot Lamech..."
He moves until eclipsed by Monica's turning shadow.
          "... and Adah bore Jabal; and Zillah bore Tubalcain..."

The rigid figure in front of him revolves. Jacob positions himself down (right); Laura moves down (left), with specials cued to highlight their respective monologues:

JACOB

          "Planned Parenthood, among other contemporary concepts, has made us Doctor Frankensteins. Life need not be accidental; life can be intentional—though few of us can claim to have been consciously conceived..."

LAURA

          "Babies are a special gift that women give society. Society cannot force such giving; force is never right. Women ought to be in charge of what their bodies generate. Laws are not required; especially laws made up by men—who don't know what it is to be with child..."

JACOB

          "... life begins on purpose, is the prospect—parents' purpose. The Will of God has been replaced by the will of mortal men. God is off the hook; if we screw up, the blame is ours..."

LAURA

          "You can argue till the cows come home; it won't make any difference. Half the people are always going to call abortion..."

MONICA

          "Murder!"

LAURA

          "... and half the people are always going to claim that..."

MONICA

          "It's okay!"

Monica's revolutions are accelerating. The rhythmic chant is likewise gaining speed; it keeps apace. The synthesizer swells and shrinks and swells in apposition. Lights flash on and off like blinding strobes.

RICHARD

          "Sssssssssssex is..."

LAURA

          "Mother."

JACOB

          "Father."

MONICA

          "Murder."

RICHARD

          "Sssssssssssex is..."

LAURA

          "Mater."

JACOB

          "Pater."

MONICA

          "It's okay."

RICHARD

          "Begat."

LAURA

          "Begot."

JACOB

          "Begotten."

MONICA

          "Murder."

RICHARD

          "Sssssssssssex is..."

LAURA

          "Mater."

JACOB

          "Pater."

MONICA

          "Murder."

RICHARD

          "Sssssssssssex is..."

LAURA

          "Mother."

JACOB

          "Father."

MONICA

          "Murder."

RICHARD

          "Sssssssssssex is..."

MONICA

          "Murder."

LAURA

          "Sex is."

MONICA

          "Murder."

JACOB

          "Sex is."

MONICA

          "STOP!"

The revolve halts... as does the music... as do the actors—each of whom stands fixed, unnaturally still... while Monica, in a strained slow-motion, elevates her arms... her dress, thereby, uplifted... naked ankles... calves... now knees are, inch by inch, exposed... until she lets the hemline drop—at which point she escapes the scathing spotlight.

MONICA

          "It's okay."

The stage returns to normal. A stutter-step of clapping breaks out nervously, insecurely. The crowd, at length, erupts with thunderous applause... stopping the show... making the actors wait... and wait...

 

 

"I hate it when they do that!"

"Why? They loved us."

"It's unnerving. One more second's bravo, and I think I might have screamed."

"That's sick."

"Stop telling me I'm sick! I'm sick to death of people saying I'm ill!"

"Okay, relax."

Paul and Gillian occupy a corner nook at 'Speare's, having plowed their way through a crush of post-show well-wishers. The drinks they long-ago ordered, at last arrive.

"Wanna run a tab tonight?"

Gillian nods. Paul answers.

"You'll need a ticker tape for me."

The waitress smiles, departs.

"You drink too much."

"And you can't stand applause; we all bear crosses." Paul imbibes, with satisfaction, the first of his Black Russians. More are sure to follow, in celebration. "They stood for one minute and fourteen seconds, after curtain."

"You timed them?"

"Sure. Why not? That's what it's all about."

"I thought 'dollars' was the name of the game."

"That, too. Big bucks are made by big ovations."

"May I quote you?"

"Scoff, my Sweet. They loved us, nevertheless."

Paul downs his drink and signals for another.

Gillian sips her gin in brooding moderation.

Paul regards 'the star' with mute contempt.

Gillian loudly burps; Paul pats her back remedially.

"Still burning it at both ends, dear?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Your candle. Your amour la wick?" She bites her tongue... "Nice work, if you can get it." ...regretting having mentioned her affair... "Borrowing from Peter to pay..."

"ENOUGH! I didn't agree to have this drink to field your stock of platitudes. If you can't say anything original, Paul, please spare me."

"Well, isn't that the pot calling the kettle black..." (Gillian sighs) "...you, a fellow regurgitator of someone else's lines; original? Actors are a playwright's props and mannequins, nothing more. We're puppets, you and I—move here, move there—controlled by strings. We're mynah birds repeating words by rote, on cue, ad nauseam, night after night after night after tedious night."

"Plays must be performed to bring their author's words to life. Only kindred spirits have the wherewithal for that. Audiences can feel, can understand, can draw conclusions, but not before a given writer's work is recreated—with skill and sensitivity and most-of-all talent. Therein lies your discontent, Paul; art is more than craftsmanship. Art, if it's original, is an outcome...."

"'Art' again! My aching sphincter muscle, you are painfully consistent. Tripe, I say! By artist, you mean self-indulgent whore! An artist is a human being, no better for seeming gifted, who represents our foibles with his chisel, brush, or pen because he shares Mankind's predicament; he is surely not above it. If anything, his insights come from sloshing through the mire—alongside every other schmuck in Creation—all of whom, my Sweet, have feet of clay."

"Is there a Roget's Clich�s you've memorized or something? Knock it off."

"My point remains."

"And is ill-taken."

"Prove it. Whoa, you'd better wait. Your lovers twain have just arrived—in tandem." Morgan, sighting Gillian (as she glances back) heads toward her; Michael, sighting Morgan, veers toward the bar. "Our resident laureate; how timely. Join us, Morgan. Save us. Deliver us from our reverence, our obsequious regard for those too few whose visions are transcendent. (Morgan sits) Lowly are we thespians, in comparison to you poets. Ours is humble deference to your commerce with the clouds, your heady heights reducing us to specks of adoration. Makes me want to fly, myself, but, look; I have no wings. I trust that makes you suitably sympathetic?"

Morgan, normally taciturn in the company of the company, ventures a succinct (if red-faced) reply.

"I'll defer to Icarus."

"Who forgot about the sun, reminding him—and us—of Man's limitations."

Paul depletes his drink by way of punctuation.

Morgan turns to Gillian.

"Things go well, tonight?"

She shrugs. Their waitress interrupts. Morgan orders an orange juice.

"Ah, you put us all to shame, my boy, so pure, so true, so innocent. Wondrous, it must be, indeed, to dwell in the Land of Oz." Paul grins a cryptic grin. "Things did go well tonight; the madding crowd stood!"

"Again?"

"Couldn't help themselves; Hurst hot-wired all the seats."

Gillian guffaws.

"I wouldn't put it past him."

"Desperate man, is Gerald Hurst—calm as peptic ulcers." Paul flags down their passing waitress. "Refill, dear heart. Gillian?"

"Another gimlet. Up, please."

"And don't forget that OJ, will you?" Paul, with crude panache, inhales as the barmaid takes her leave. "Do I detect a whiff of sex? Methinks that skirt..." He eyes it. "...harbors, underneath its modest weave, a lustful woof." He sniffs the air again. "Betrayed by pheromones almost palpable. Rumor has it that gal's charms are equal fore and aft. If that's not talent, what else is; to satisfy two, concurrently? Wouldn't you agree, my boy?"

Gillian interrupts.

"Paul is in his cups."

"And who asked you? I'm addressing Morgan?" Paul inclines his head, in a woozy arc, from her to him. "Wouldn't you say a female who can service two at once ought qualify for the lofty title 'artist'?"

Gillian, getting edgy, can foresee how innuendo might turn to outright accusation. Why did she confide? Auspiciously, a fan approaches Paul.

"Excuse me. Aren't you Mister Hewitt? I thought you were marvelous tonight! I know that doesn't mean much coming from a perfect stranger but..."

"No, no; you're mistaken. I can see you're not the average theatre-goer. You look closely at things. You're uncommonly perceptive."

"Now you're making fun. I won't bother you any..."

"I am not making fun. Morgan, Gillian, defend me. Am I making fun of this lovely young lady?"

"He's serious, honey. Stroke him; you'll never find a glutton for compliments more sincere." Gillian turns to Morgan. "Ready?"

He nods. She stands.

"Excuse us?"

She leads him by the hand through a throng of overcrowded tables (steering clear of the bar); they slip outside.

 

 

There is a large...

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