A Play in One Act

Cast Spell

By G. L. Horton
copyright © 1985 Geralyn Horton


PAULA: the stage manager

MICKEY:teenage assistant stage mgr,

BECKY FARRELMicky's mother, a retired movie actress.

VERNAthe leading woman

GREG the show's composer

RICH the show's leading man.

ELAINE: a cast member

Time/Place/Scene: The setting is the bare stage of the tiny run down theater where GREG's original small-cast musical, THE HEART TRIED BY SORROW, has been playing for the past three weekends. Strike is about over, and the majority of the cast and crew have slipped away, too depressed by the negative review that came out in the morning paper to want to stay for the planned closing night party in the theater space. There are some atmospheric props and costumes scattered around, including a number of copies of the musical's poster, which features the familiar Tarot card design of a heart pierced by three swords.
PAULA, the sturdy no-nonsense stage manager, is hard at work clearing the last of the set away.
MICKY, an intense and awkward young woman of high-school age, enters, carrying a red shawl and a poster.

MICKY: Paula? Is this a costume?

PAULA: I think it's Verna's personal. I'll ask her.
(BECKY FARRELL, Micky's mother, enters. She is elegantly dressed and still quite beautiful)

BECKY: Micky?

MICKY: Mother? When did you get here? Did you see the show?

BECKY: Of course I saw it! (applauds) Ben and I flew in from Paris this morning. You should've known we wouldn't miss it-- not for the world. (hugs MICKY)

MICKY: You missed graduation.

BECKY: Well, I didn't miss this. I loved it! I want to meet all these talented young friends of yours--

MICKY: Mother, we flopped. The paper hated us. I don't want to be embarrassed by -

PAULA: Mick! A little help?
(PAULA is struggling with a piece of scenery. MICKY hands the shawl to BECKY, rushes to help PAULA. Behind the next bit of dialogue, the other cast members are bustling about, crossing the stage with "stuff". RICH hangs up a dart board with a blown-up picture of the local drama critic as the target. As GREG and ELAINE notice what RICH is doing, they join him. )

PAULA: Thanks.

BECKY: Micky? Will you introduce me to this strong person?

MICKY: You've met Paula, mother. The stage manager. When you were waiting for me that time, she read palms for you and Ben. You were shocked, because--
(PAULA wipes her hand on her jeans, shakes hands. )

PAULA: Don't remind her! I'm Paula Lubek, Mrs. Farrell.

BECKY: Of course. Paula the Palmist.

PAULA: I hope you didn't take that stuff seriously--

BECKY: But you were so good! Never mind. I'm just so pleased to see you again. This show has been such a good influence on our Micaela, I can't say how grateful we are. Ben and I --,
(MICKY snatches the shawl from her mother, runs toward
VERNA, who is entering.)

MICKY: Verna? Is this shawl yours?

VERNA: Thanks. I planned to wear it for the party.

MICKY: I was afraid you wouldn't stay for it.

(VERNA smiles, holds the shawl up as a veil. The background dart game that is in progress gets louder. Cast members are cheering RICH on while he is throwing darts at it the Critic.)

RICH: Take that! Right in the eye, Rafferty!
(Dart hits target.)

GREG & ELAINE: All right! Yea!

BECKY: What's that?

PAULA: The target's the critic at the News. Ralph Rafferty.

BECKY: Oh! Don't worry about him, my dears. Nobody reads the local critics. They're idiots. I mean, if this Rafferty person could see THE HEART TRIED BY SORROW and not fall in love with the leading lady--,

MICKY: You mean Verna.

BECKY: Yes, Verna. What's the point of a dart in the eye for a man who is blind already? Your Verna is mesmerizing. She'll have a career. I'm not a fortune-teller, but I predict. Mesmerizing!

GREG: Poor Rafferty. Blind, and now the guy's crippled, too -- from our theater's hard seats.

ELAINE: Get him! What kind of a jerk reviews seats!
(another dart hits target.)

RICH: That kind!
VERNA: I wasn't mesmerizing on Friday night. The power just wasn't there.

GREG: I guess we have to face reality. I wrote this SORROW thing, and with your help I put it on, and over the three weeks of the run maybe a thousand people came to see it. Our friends and relatives told us we were great, they really liked it--

ELAINE: They all liked it! Not just our friends!
(MICKY joins the group.)

GREG: What do they know? A lousy thousand! This morning one million people opened the newspaper and found out that we stank. The critic says so.

ELAINE: The show was way down Friday, Greg. It's too bad that's the night Rafferty came to see it. But that doesn't change--

MICKY: It's not fair! Why print a bad review closing night?

RICH: A critic's got to earn a living. Clever insults are what sells newspapers.

ELAINE: Look at John Simon.

MICKY: I think it's evil. Rafferty ought to be punished.

RICH: Should I challenge him to a duel?
(flourishes dart as a sword)

ELAINE: We ought to put a hex on him. Get some nail parings, or a lock of his hair.

RICH: That's a job for you, Greg. I hear he's partial to boys.

VERNA: The picture is enough. You could hurt him with that picture. (RICH's dart hits picture)

RICH: Take that, asshole! Are you a witch, Verna? Up on curses?

VERNA: I'm Creole. It's in the culture.

MICKY : Voodoo?

RICH: Why didn't you whip up some spells before the opening?

VERNA: I did. I should say, we did it together.

PAULA: We did what?

VERNA: Mesmerizing, like Mrs. Farrell said. The concentration exercises we do to warm up-- that's a kind of magic spell. We raise a cone of power, we project our power out into the audience--.
PAULA: That's a spooky way of thinking about it.

VERNA: It works. Sarah Bernhardt could move people to tears, reading the telephone book. What was that, but a magic spell? The Divine Sarah wasn't reciting a printed list of names and numbers, but telepathically, with image and emotion, taking control of her audience--.

RICH: So what went wrong? Why didn't we hypnotize Rafferty?

VERNA: The transmission is delicate. A receptor may put up barriers--

RICH: That's Rafferty, all right!

VERNA: Or the problem may be with the people on stage. An actor with critic-night nerves, or a powerful member of the stage crew sending out malign vibrations--

ELAINE: What is it about this cast? Micky always on about horoscopes, Paula reading palms--.

GREG: That reminds me: Paula, you promised to read palms for the rest of us once we were past opening night.

PAULA: I was hoping you'd forget.

RICH: Not fair. You promised.

PAULA: All right, as soon as I'm cleared away here--

RICH: I trace our troubles to the day Micky tried her hand at press agent-ing. If she hadn't called the News and dropped the names of all her stepfather's connections--

MICKY: You said it's "who you know". I thought--

GREG: We were hexed long before that.

ELAINE: I told you not to whistle in the dressing room!

RICH: A hex named Steve. The Great director!

PAULA: You thought he was a genius when he cast you.

BECKY: Don't be discouraged, children. I've seen many of these Off-Off things in New York, and you're as good as they are.

PAULA: Good or bad, it's over. So how about some help here? If you clean up your own stuff, I'll be free to do some serious partying. Or some silly palmistry--

VERNA: I'll read your palm for you if you like, Greg. Since Paula's so busy--.
(ELAINE and MICKY begin to help PAULA sort through the leftover items. BECKY follows MICKY.)

RICH: Two fortune tellers. Crawling with clairvoyants. I want dibs on Paula, as soon as she's done managing. OK, Paul?

PAULA: Sure.

ELAINE: Join us for the party, Mrs. Farrell. We've got plenty.

PAULA: If this is all that's coming, we have a serious surplus. We may have to call in the Salvation Army.

MICKY: Failures have no friends.

RICH: We haven't sunk so far that it's the Salvation Army already! (sings) "Nobody knows you, when you're down and out"

BECKY: I'm afraid I'm getting too old for promising young parties, my dears. Now, Micky--

MICKY: Whatever. Stay, if you want.

PAULA: I understand that you used to be in the movies, Mrs. Farrell.

BECKY: In a very minor way. If I had one or two lines it was a breakthrough. My most famous scene, all I did was get out of a swimming pool and walk to the lockers.

MICKY: With the camera and every eye focused on her rear end.

RICH: "Cabot's Reach"! That's where I've seen you!

ELAINE: The polka dot bathing suit.

RICH: Wow.

PAULA: I bet you've got a slew of stories we'd all love to hear.

MICKY: I've already heard them.

BECKY: Not all of them, darling.

RICH: All right! Sit right here, Mrs. Farrell.

BECKY: Becky. But my lips are sealed. Micky's right. There's nothing more boring than warmed over has-been gossip.

ELAINE: It's not boring to us.

PAULA: Not to wannabees.

BECKY: Sorry. I'm not going to spoil my daughter's debut with a lot of embarrassing name-dropping. It's Micky's night.
MICKY: I had six lines, Mother. In a flop.

BECKY: Micky!

MICKY: Sorry. Greg--

PAULA: Shh! (GREG turns from VERNA at the sound of his name)

GREG: What?

MICKY: No, really. I loved the show. I really believed in it--

RICH: (crosses to GREG and VERNA) Don't hog Verna, Greg. I want her to tell my fortune, too. Get a second opinion.

GREG: I wouldn't if I were you.

RICH: Bad news?

GREG: I've got Spatulate fingers.

RICH: Is that a social disease?

PAULA: Not at all. It's a good shape for a musician.

RICH: Yeah? What should be an actor's?

PAULA: A bulbous Apollo.

GREG: Sounds fatal.

RICH: But what a way to go! Have I got it?
(PAULA looks at RICH'S hand)

PAULA: Fraid not.

RICH: Come on. Look closer.

PAULA : Don't feel bad. I've read for dozens of actors, and the only bulbous Apollo I've ever seen was on a postal clerk.

RICH: Any of those actor guys stars? Have you held hands with a star?

PAULA: Not yet.

VERNA: You might be surprised.

RICH: Aha! This may be a first. Look carefully there, at least on one side there's a bulge--

VERNA: Many signs have more than one interpretation--

GREG: Didn't you read your reviews, Rich? You haven't got it!
RICH: Look who's talking! Maestro "Vapid"!

GREG: "Vapid" and "tinkling"! Please!

VERNA: If you concentrate on the whole, on the energy flow--

RICH: When you disagree, will you and Paula shoot fireballs at each other? I always loved that part!

ELAINE: Gather round, everybody.

RICH: Get out of here. I want privacy to hear what Paula has to say about my love life-

ELAINE: Time for the cake!
(brings in heart shaped cake with candle,lit)

MICKY: Make a wish!

GREG: Don't tempt me! Who wants a piece?

ELAINE: I'm on a diet, but this is a special occasion.

BECKY: No cake for me. If I can believe what Paula said when she read my palm, I may need to fit into something in the near future.

MICKY: I'll take a piece. Later, though. I think the cake should just sit there and be admired for a while.

BECKY: What an amazing creation! Who did it?

ELAINE: I did. Greg bought the ingredients. Applause, please. If I could sing as well as I cook-

GREG: Or as well as you dance-

BECKY: It seems a shame to cut it.

GREG: What will I do with it? What will I do with all of this? I could feed the cast of OKLAHOMA on our leftovers.

ELAINE: Not many people have an appetite at a wake.

GREG: Wasn't there some kind of sauce stuff to go with this?

ELAINE: I think there was. Maybe it was left at the box office.
(ELAINE exits)

BECKY: Whose turn is it for a reading?

RICH: Just a minute. Paula's told me I'll have two wives, at least one of them rich--.
BECKY: She told me six! I don't know how to break it to Ben that he's not going to be my final husband--

MICKY: But Ben's number four.

BECKY: Number five, actually. Number two only lasted three weeks. I don't usually bring him up, but it's not a secret.
You were too young to remember, but I must have mentioned him-

RICH: Now I want to hear how I'm gonna die-

BECKY: No, you don't.

PAULA: Of syphilis.

RICH: Jesus! Where'da ya get that?

PAULA: Not off toilet seats.

MICKY: Read my palm now, Paula.

BECKY: I don't think she should, Micky dear. What Paula said about Ben upset you.

MICKY: It just surprised me, mother. I'd forgotten Ben was an orphan.

BECKY : I think most of the time he forgets it himself. The Farrells raised him, he thinks of them as his parents. But they're cousins, actually.

MICKY: Paula knew! If she reads for me--

PAULA: Not now, Micky. I'm tired. After 11 pm, all the hands begin to look alike.

MICKY: Please! I have a premonition.

PAULA: I'm not up to it. I can see it's complicated-

MICKY: It's bad, isn't it? So you won't tell me.

BECKY: Don't be a pest.

PAULA: Not bad, just complicated. I'll do it another time, I promise.

MICKY: There won't be another time! When would I see you, now that the show's over? You heard what Greg said: while a turkey's running it's us against the world. But once it closes, nobody wants to be reminded. You'll avoid us-

VERNA: I'll read your palm, Micaela. You'll see me.

PAULA: I wanted to ask you, Verna-- What method do you use? Cheiro? Have you ever seen a mark like this?
(PAULA holds up her own hand)

BECKY: Are you going to hold a convention?

PAULA: I tried to look it up--

VERNA: That's not how I do it.


VERNA: I don't use any book. I hold the hand, and I know.

BECKY: You mean you're clairvoyant?

VERNA: Like Paula.

PAULA: Not me! I just tell people what the book says, and advise taking it with a grain of salt-

VERNA: You knew that Mr. Farrell's an orphan.

PAULA: His life line was-- well, I guess I guessed.

VERNA: The truth. Very often, the truth.

MICKY: What can you tell me, Verna?
(MICKY holds up her hand. VERNA takes it)

VERNA: Now? Not much. You like to have your hand held. You are drawn to the unseen. (MICKY'S hand shakes)

MICKY: Look!- It's shaking. My hand knows you know-

VERNA: Silly.

PAULA: Everybody loves a reading. Finally, somebody's interested in the subject that's always fascinated them- themselves.

VERNA: So why do you do it?

PAULA: The hands. They're so different from faces. And when you say what you see, perfect strangers will tell you things that even their best friends don't know.

BECKY: What if you saw a murder?

MICKY: Can you tell a person's sign?

PAULA: I don't know much astrology.

VERNA: I can.

PAULA: From hands?
MICKY: I bet you just sense it.

VERNA: Your mother's a Leo, Micky. And you're Pisces. Greg, there, is a Virgo.

GREG: You're right!

BECKY: How do you do that?


MICKY: I dream about things before they happen, sometimes. I had a dream about you, Verna. With a star on your forehead. All around you there were spirits-

BECKY: You mean ghosts?

MICKY: Not ghosts. I've seen ghosts, too, but-

BECKY: In your dreams? Or awake? I saw a ghost once. Or at least I thought I did. I'm cursed with a vivid imagination.

MICKY: You never told me.

PAULA: Tell us all! Gather round, everybody. It's a ghost story!
I love ghost stories, I collect them.

ELAINE: I can't find the sauce.

GREG: Never mind. Sit down. Mrs. Farrell's telling a ghost story.

MICKY: How'd you know it was a ghost, Mom?

GREG: What'd it look like?

BECKY: He looked like his pictures. This was a rather famous ghost, which is why I can't be sure -- Anyway, he was Charlie the stunt man, killed in a fall. Charlie was supposed to haunt the studio where he died, and show up sometimes in the rushes. One of the crew showed me, this kind of transparent gunman--,

RICH: Is that all? Trick photography? I thought you'd had an experience--

BECKY: I did. I was late changing, most of the lights were out, and on the way to the exit I walked past a man in costume, standing in the shadow, familiar but-- Then I realized where I'd seen him. Charlie. I stopped dead, I couldn't move; I swear my hair stood straight up on my head. Of course, by the time I'd recovered enough to turn around, there was nothing there.

MICKY: Why did he come to you? Did he have a message?

BECKY: If he did, he didn't deliver it.
PAULA: Did you feel threatened?

BECKY: Not personally. It was just eerie. Uncanny. I never thought I was in physical danger.

RICH: Boy. I did!

ELAINE: Another ghost?

PAULA: Tell it.

RICH: Do I have to? You'll just laugh.

GREG: How many promise not to laugh?
(they raise hands)

VERNA: It's not a shame. To be visited, you must be in some way a special person. I'll bet for all her collecting, Paula's never seen a ghost. Have you?

PAULA: No. But it's not for lack of trying. Haunted houses, graveyards, you name it. But if I'm there, the most dependable ghost pulls a no-show. I've collected a journal full of first-person stories though --

VERNA: We're not interested in hearsay. Not when we have eyewitnesses.

BECKY: I told mine, Rich.

RICH: All right. I was just a kid. Staying at my cousin Didi's. Her mom believed in all that stuff. The family had charms and rhymes and gizmos to ward off the spooks. But they didn't work, cause I woke up in her attic room with something pulling off my bed covers. I jerked them back up, and this thing pulled them back down again. We played tug-o-war till I let go to scream and the covers went flying. And then my whole family ran up.

BECKY: Did they see anything?

RICH: Nah. I didn't either. Just a shape.

BECKY: But it moved the covers. It had material-- power?

GREG: I saw one like that too!

VERNA: You see? Talent and sensitivity to the paranormal usually go together.

ELAINE: What was it like, Greg?

GREG: Like Rich's. It could move things.

BECKY: What'd he do?
GREG: She. It was a she. But she wasn't really my ghost. She belonged to a friend of mine. I warn you--it's a long story.
(BECKY rises to leave)

BECKY: It's late. Ben may begin to worry.
(RICH pulls BECKY down)

RICH: Don't you want to hear this? Stick around, Becky.

BECKY: I'm getting scared, like a kid.
(RICH puts his arm around BECKY)

RICH : Don't worry. You're in good hands.

PAULA: So what happened?

GREG: Well... About three years ago I went up to new Hampshire to stay with this friend of mine, William Deems. When he picked me up at the bus station Will looked kinda funny, like there was something wrong but he didn't want to tell me. I thought maybe his girlfriend had showed up and he wanted to get rid of me. But when I asked him, Will just laughed and said he didn't know how to explain it, but there was something weird about his cabin.

MICKY: It was haunted!

GREG: Right. It'd belonged to this little old lady, maybe 85. She lived out there all alone, doing the chores all herself, right up to the winter she died. After that, she seemed to stick around the place. Dick'd go out in the morning and come back to find a fire lit in the stove, or the lamp on if he got home after dark. After a while he just got used to it. Granny'd do up the dishes, or leave out a cup of hot tea for him. He'd be reading or working while the old lady's rocker would go gently back and forth like she was sitting there knitting. But if he made a mess, or left his gear around, she'd bang drawers at or clash the pots and pans.

ELAINE: So did you ever see her?

GREG: Well, when we got there, sure enough, there was a teakettle whistling, and the rocker going back and forth. Will gave a funny look at me, and said to the rocker, "Granny, this is my friend, Greg. Don't you play your tricks and frighten him, now." And the rocker stopped.

MICKY: Was that all?

ELAINE: That's enough!

GREG: Right before I was to get the bus back, Will made us a last pot of coffee, poured the cups on the stove and started drinking his. I said, "hey, where's mine?" And then I saw that other coffee cup lift itself up off the counter and sail slowly through the air, to plop right down next to my hand.
RICH: No shit. You saw that?

GREG: I sure thought I did.

BECKY: Brrr. I'm going home while I'm still brave enough. I think I'll wake Ben up before I crawl in. Coming, Micky?

MICKY: Not yet.

RICH: Hey, wait! Mrs. Farrell--Becky. I promised myself I'd get a dance with you before you go.

BECKY: Fraid you'll have to disappoint yourself.

RICH: Oh, no! That kind of rumba move you did in Cabot's Reach. I've got to see it in the flesh.

BECKY; (demonstrates) You mean this?

RICH: Wow! Let me try. (demonstrates)

MICKY: It loses something without the polka dots.

BECKY: And with the ten extra pounds.

RICH: All right! Music, Greg--

BECKY: No. That's as far as I go. I'm off to my suburban bed. Don't stay too late, Micky. You've got school tomorrow.

GREG: Rich, did you give her the wallet?

RICH: Jeeze, I forgot. Here.
(hands BECKY a man's wallet.)

BECKY: What's this?

RICH: Isn't it your husband's?

GREG: It was left on the box office counter. He must've set it down when he chipped in for the wine.

BECKY: Oh my.

MICKY: What are you looking at?

BECKY: Our wedding picture.

MICKY: Ben had a lot of hair, for just five years ago.

BECKY: Here you are, Micky. Isn't that sweet, Ben carries a picture of you.

MICKY: That's Gypsy. I didn't know Ben had this. The only dog I ever had --. Gypsy was just a puppy when a car ran over him.

BECKY: Micky cried for three weeks.

MICKY: Pictures make me want to cry, too.

BECKY: This one does.

RICH: Who's that? Is that you? The hair's different.

BECKY: I was dying it.

RICH: Well, you still look terrific, but-

BECKY: I decided I'd better outgrow that blatant sexiness.

RICH: Do people outgrow sex?

GREG: Don't worry, Rich, you'll never outgrow anything.

BECKY: I'd better go. If Ben isn't missing me, he may be missing his wallet.

RICH: I'll walk you to your car.

BECKY: I told you, young man: I've outgrown it! Bye, all. Micky? You have got your key?

MICKY: Right here. (BECKY exits)

RICH: Wow. Your mother's some woman.

VERNA: She has fascination.

MICKY: You think so, Verna?
(MICKY pours herself a glass of vodka)

RICH : On your own now, kid.

MICKY: Greg, can I turn the stereo on?
(music up)

ELAINE: I'd like to try that move of Becky's, Rich--

RICH: Later, Elaine. I'm about to make the move on Verna right now. (to VERNA) Do you dance for real, or just onstage?

VERNA: What do you think? (they dance)

ELAINE: Can I have some, too, or are you going to drink it all?
(gets bottle from MICKY

GREG: I'll dance with you, Elaine.

ELAINE: Forget it, Greg. You're a very nice man, but you're not helping.

GREG: Want to dance, Paula?

PAULA: No thanks.

GREG: I guess I'm not much of a partner.

PAULA: It's not you. I just don't feel very festive.

GREG: I'm the one should be depressed. It's my show.

PAULA: But it's my life.

GREG: Where's your friend Tom?

PAULA: Off to New York.

GREG: Just like that?

PAULA: Uhhuh.

GREG: What'd you expect? An actor.

PAULA: A dedicated actor.

GREG: Won't you go too? You can't be a famous director around here.

PAULA: I'm not qualified to be a director. No megalomania.

GREG: Don't let your experience with Steve get you down.

PAULA: I was impressed! We all were. I don't want to be like that, and I don't want to be married to that: driven, self- important, insecure--! Sorry. You're not one of them.

GREG: Probably why I'm nowhere.
(VERNA whirls, goes to get wine)

MICKY: Don't stop, Verna! God, I love to watch her dance!

PAULA: I noticed. During the show.

GREG: I'm about ready to learn computers. Something where I could have a family- or at least support myself.

RICH: Come on, Greg. Art can't pay the rent. We need a patron, a rich widow, a genii of the lamp-

PAULA: A foundation grant.

RICH: Those are going the way of the dinosaurs. But even a grant's not good enough. A grant won't tell you you're great when the critics hate you. Won't give you back rubs. But a genii-
MICKY: I feel strange. a wonderful kind of strange.

RICH: Why not, with the vodka you've put away? You'd better hope your family doesn't wait up for you.

MICKY: Feel the vibrations in this room! Something wonderful's just waiting to happen!

RICH: Funny thing it waited till your Mom went home.

MICKY: I'm charged with energy. Feel it. Join hands and you'll all feel it, flowing through us.
(ELAINE touches MICKY)

ELAINE: Ouch! You're positively electric!

MICKY: We ought to have a seance. Or-?
(VERNA takes off her necklace)

VERNA: The pendulum?

MICKY: Oh, yes. Like this, right, Verna? Spirits, are you here? Yes! (pendulum swings)

RICH: You're doing that! Hold still!

MICKY: Hold it yourself.

GREG: I'll do it. Spirits, are you here?

ELAINE: There it goes.

RICH: It's the rotation of the earth, or something.

VERNA: Then try it the other way.

GREG: What?

VERNA: Ask the spirit to turn it the other way to mean yes.

GREG; OK, spirit. Left for yes. Counterclockwise. Are you there?

ELAINE; There it goes the other way!

GREG; I really am trying to hold it still.

MICKY; I knew there were spirits in this room! We should turn out the lights, use a candle. See if there's a message.

ELAINE; Here. Use this.
(Brings cake with candle, lights candle)

GREG; Now what?
VERNA; You should focus our minds.

GREG; All right, now. Everybody concentrate on this pendulum.
Is there a message for someone here? (swings)
Yes. Is it for me? Elaine? Micky? Paula?

MICKY; It swung for me! I know it's for me!

GREG; What do I do now?

MICKY; Question it!

VERNA; Don't lose concentration.

MICKY; It may be about my dream.

GREG; This message? Is it from someone who's ..uh..crossed over?
(it is motionless)
Does it have to do with Micky's plans, something she should do?
(it spins back and forth)
Now what?

RICH; Ask if it's animal or mineral.

GREG: Shut up, Rich. Everybody focus, OK? If I can, I'll ask career advice. For all of us. But first we've got to settle down. Don't we, Verna?

VERNA: Concentrate. Try a low hummm, just a quiet vocalization of your breath. (All hummm, staring at the pendulum)

MICKY; The spiral.


GREG: Hush!

MICKY: It's drawing me. Round and around on the starpath.

ELAINE: Look at her. She's in some kind of trance.

GREG; Hey, Micky! Micky, come out of it!

MICKY; Floating away, on the wind and the northern lights! Like a rainbow. I see all your auras, but far. Seven turns of the astral spiral. Dizzy, I'm so dizzy. Dark and bright in ringing waves. Verna! Tell them! Your old friends, the ancient souls. Hooded eyes, hawks eyes, huge red eyes burning in the dark!
PAULA; Shake her.

MICKY; I'm not ready, I'm afraid!

(GREG shakes her)
GREG; Micky, open your eyes!
MICKY; They want me to wear the hood, and the twisted burning cross. To step into the spiral.
(MICKY'S eyes are closed. She weaves spasmodically

RICH; Now what are we going to do?

MICKY; Verna! Help me! Help me across!

VERNA; I'm here, Micky.
(VERNA puts her arms around MICKY)

MICKY; I'm all numb. I'm ice, ice, ice. My body's gone! Lost!

VERNA; Micky, Micaela, I 'm holding you here, can't you feel me?

RICH; Let me take her. Give her a pinch.

MICKY; No! Don't touch, don't let him touch me! The dark smell- Verna! My breasts are melting!

PAULA; I'm going to call her mother.
(goes toward offstage telephone )

RICH; Wait a minute! How're we going to explain this?
(follows PAULA to door)

PAULA; Let Micky explain it!

ELAINE; You hear that, Micky? You better wake up before we get your mother back here!

MICKY; No! Hide me! Help!
(PAULA walks up, slaps her)

PAULA; Now. Are you in your body?
(MICKY opens her eyes)

MICKY; Verna?

VERNA; I'm here. (MICKY begins to weep)

MICKY; Why'd you let her?

PAULA; Sorry, Mick. You were hysterical. Can you get her a tissue, Greg?

VERNA; I'll take her.

MICKY; She wants to drag everybody down. She doesn't understand, does she, Verna? Not one of them understands.

RICH; We're supposed to just let her carry on?

MICKY; Something beautiful, something important, waiting for me-The first step toward my destiny.

GREG; Out of tissues. Can you use toilet paper?

VERNA; There, now. You weren't ready.

PAULA; The alcohol, the let down-- . We had a group wish for something spectacular, and Micky responded to it.

MICKY; You think I'm sick? Or a fake?

PAULA; I don't know. I just asked why.

MICKY; Do the rest of you think that?

GREG; Paula may be on the right track-

MICKY; She loves to be the one behind the scenes! Not in the audience, under the spell. Not onstage, and risking! Well, this isn't a show, whether you believe it or not! Spirits are real, they're out there, and once they're really with you you'll never have to feel lonely again.

RICH; especially when they tell you to cuddle up! "Hold my breasts, Verna honey, I'm flying away!"

ELAINE; Leave her alone, Rich.

RICH; So she wants to get it on with Verna! Me, too. So what? Is that any reason to thrash around like a piece of spastic ectoplasm?

MICKY; Verna?

VERNA; It's all right, Micaela.

RICH; Witchy-bitchy. You girls give me the creeps. Why are woman so goddamned devious?

ELAINE; Because men have all the power!

VERNA; In Cajun country men are kings, little kings. Women learn the hard way what to use. In Moon Grove there was a girl, a girl just my age. Her Granny was a conjure woman, but the girl never had any truck with conjuring till the boy she loved ran off to New Orleans, and left her carrying his baby. Every night in her bed she'd moan and say his name. She didn't eat, but even so she began to swell. She went to her Granny and got some medicine, and then she went out in the Bayou under the full moon and moaned and moaned until that baby came out of her, dead. Now she hated that boy, and she was crazy for vengeance. She took the baby's cord, and she knotted it round a wax doll, and she dipped that doll in her blood and she held it over fire, crying on the power of the moon! And it came down to her.

MICKY: How did it come?

VERNA: That boy in New Orleans, he couldn't make love to his new woman. Every night the girl would come to him naked in his dreams, and curse and taunt him. One day the boy came home to Moon Grove. He wasn't big and handsome then-- his flesh had just melted away. He begged the girl to make him a man again, and when she laughed he tried to beat her. But he couldn't. He just shook, he was so weak. When he called his old dog to him, it whimpered and cringed.

MICKY; What happened to him?

GREG; What do you mean, what happened to him?

VERNA; He took his gun and went hunting. He never came back, in the flesh. But his ghost walks there, moaning at the moon.

RICH; You're some story teller.

VERNA; My Granny taught me.

RICH; Did she teach you conjuring?

VERNA; Some.

RICH; What's your specialty? Love potions?

VERNA; Is that what you want?

RICH; I'd rather be a star.

PAULA; So you can summon spirits from the vasty deep?

VERNA; Spirits!
(there is a sudden "answer"--perhaps a loud rapping)

ELAINE; Did you do that?

GREG; I don't believe it.
(A dish crashes to the floor, breaks)

VERNA; Try. Try to let the possibility enter your mind. Do you want to see more? Concentrate on the star around my neck. If you're afraid, that's good. Send that energy into the star. That's right, I can feel your power--
(a pale shape swoops across the room)

MICKY; Yaaek! It's alive!

GREG; Turn on the lights!
(PAULA turns on the lights)

PAULA; Look.
(a person-sized plastic bag of white costumes on the floor)
MICKY; What is it? Is it dead--?

PAULA; It's just costumes, a drycleaner's bag of costumes!

MICKY; Costumes?

ELAINE; It looked real!
(GREG picks up the bag)

GREG; Costumes. I thought it was a ghost. I really did.

RICH; Maybe it's just clothes- but it flew in here! How?

VERNA; With your energy. You're all psychic. I drew on that.

PAULA; I'm not! Nothing like this-

VERNA; No? You felt it onstage from the first rehearsal. And it filled you with fear and envy.

ELAINE: The only other time I've felt power like that was when I saw Christopher Walken as Iago. There was that psychic charge in the audience, like he'd cast a spell over us.

VERNA; Very likely he did.

RICH: Then why didn't you save our show? The Heart Tried By Sorrow could have been the making of us. You, or I, or Greg--. If we'd tapped into that kind of magic, we'd have been on our way, there'd be no stopping us.

VERNA; Not necessarily. With your help-- your unconscious help-- I was able to cast a spell over what we were doing out there.

ELAINE: We knew, we all felt it.

RICH: The audience was in our power.

VERNA: You were all feeding into it, with every ounce of your concentration. But then on Friday something went wrong.

PAULA: What are you saying?

VERNA: Friday, a powerful counterforce was watching the stage with hostile eyes, stripping off the glamour.

RICH: One lousy critic? Rafferty can do that?

GREG: You're saying that all these years Rafferty hasn't just been writing that our local shows are bad, but using some kind of hoodoo to make them bad?

VERNA: Not exactly. It is true that sometimes a single opposing mind can interfere with psychic communication--.
GREG: Why would he do that?

VERNA: Why does Paula go ghost hunting? On Friday, they were able to combine forces--

GREG: They? You mean Rafferty and--

MICKY: How could you. Paula? When it meant so much to us?

PAULA; You've crazy! I'm not in some kind of conspiracy with Ralph Rafferty. I've never even met him.

GREG: I thought you were my friend.

PAULA: I am.

MICKY; You won't let her get away with it, will you, Verna?

VERNA; She's very strong, Micky. She has more psychic power than the rest of you put together. Almost as much as I have--

PAULA: I don't have psychic power. Nobody does, it's wishful thinking. Even if it did exist, I wouldn't use it to hurt people.

GREG; Paula, if you thought that there was something going on, something that amounted to dabbling with the supernatural, would you let it happen? Or would you set up some kind of an experiment, to prove that it wasn't?

PAULA; Greg, what are you talking about?

ELAINE; If you think it's dangerous?

PAULA; It is dangerous!

RICH; Christ's sake, Paula. All you had to do was just get out of the way. (PAULA exits to go to the telephone)

VERNA; Wherever she's going is too far or not far enough.
(PAULA'S VOICE on the telephone)

PAULA; I'd like a cab at 51 Hanno St. Right away. Thanks.

MICKY; Suppose she goes to my house?

VERNA; She must be stripped of her power to block me. It's not too late for us to get back what we had. We can all call on it again, use it at auditions and performances, once she stops blocking and we have her help.

PAULA; (at door) I can't help you. Not if I think it's wrong.

VERNA; People do it all the time. Or is it that you're afraid you won't be the one who is in control?
PAULA; I'll wait for my cab on the porch.

VERNA: We can't allow that. We are going to try you, Paula. Test the truth of your traitor's heart.

GREG: I don't think--

VERNA: Then think now! Why are you always the one who isn't valued, Greg? The one passed over? Think! A year's hard work, or two, or three, made small and lifeless by the cold eye of a friend who is not a friend, by her jealousy --

PAULA: Why are you listening to this? What she's suggesting isn't even possible. The woman is deranged--

VERNA: Am I? Then we all are. Look at us. Look at our eyes. Your hidden heart has been seen and judged. All that's left now is to execute the sentence--
(VERNA picks up the cake knife, raises it over her head and plunges it into the heart shaped cake. PAULA, who has been watching in horror, clutches at her chest and crumples to the floor. The others are frozen for an instant, and then GREG kneels beside PAULA.)

GREG: Paula! Paula, what happened? Are you all right?

RICH: What is it? Is she--?

GREG: She's unconscious. Maybe--

RICH: Do something! We can't have--

ELAINE: A doctor. An ambulance. I'll call for an ambulance.
(ELAINE exits towards the telephone)
(VERNA runs her finger across the top of the cake, and licks off the blob of icing. She grins at MICKY, offers her a lick of icing, too, and then makes a mark on MICKY's forehead with her sticky finger.)

GREG; The mark of Cain.

VERNA; More of a birthmark. My dear little Micaela.
(VERNA takes off her red shawl, wraps it around MICKY and then kisses her forehead.

MICKY; Is it a birthmark, Verna? Am I reborn? Will you be my sister, my mother?
(MICKY twirls and dances with the shawl, smiling Verna's delighted smile. They begin to laugh together, and as their laughter grows in volume it is joined by the sound of a distant siren, growing closer and louder) LIGHTS FADE



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