A Full Length Play
THE PROPHET FREEMAN
By G. L. Horton
copyright © 1990,
There is rage in the American Heartland, as the farmers and small
business people who consider themselves the "real" Americans,
the Keepers Of The Dream, see their way of life slipping away
from them. Their land is being taken over by bankers and multinationals,
their freedom threatened by taxes, red tape, and the stormtroopers
of the ATF. Ready to lead the dispossessed from rage to action
is a figure of militance and mystery: The Prophet Freeman.
Merilee and Frank Tibbetts, like most of their neighbors in the
rural Midwest, are deep in debt and working at outside jobs in
order to keep the family farm. Frank's leg was injured in a farm
accident a few years back, and the strain of being on his feet
all day and on night shift at the factory too means that he is
living with a lot of pain. Merilee does a large share of the chores,
since her day job doesn't pay much: she writes the "Tid-bits"
column for the local weekly paper. Saramae, Merilee's editor,
sees a story in a supermarket tabloid about cult leader J. Freeman
Conners, known as the Prophet Freeman, who is operating not far
from their town. Saramae assigns Merilee to do a feature on the
Prophet and his followers-- Saramae believes that the rise of
leaders like Freeman is a response to the area's economic distress,
and that exposing the cult will draw attention to the problems
and get people interested in finding more rational solutions.
Also, it may make her little newspaper famous, and boost circulation
so that it breaks even once again.
When Merilee tells her husband about her "investigative reporting"
assignment, Frank reveals that he knows quite a bit about the
Prophet already, and implies that some of Merilee's friends and
neighbors are members of the Prophet's group. Frank warns his
wife that she must be very careful if she writes about the Prophet.
He has preached against "the media", and although the Prophet
himself is bound to recognize that Merilee isn't an enemy, some
of his followers aren't so reasonable "They'd as soon shoot you
as look at you".
After some negotiation, Marilee is allowed to attend one of
the Prophet's preachings, where she discovers that her closest
friend Carrie Wheeler and her husband Okley are believers. Marilee
is impressed by the preacher's eloquence, but unsure of exactly
what he means when he promises "salvation" and a "better day".
When she is invited to a private prayer session, she hears Carrie
testify that the Prophet's laying on of hands has cured her of
barreness, and that she is happily pregnant at last. The Prophet
prays for Franks leg to be healed -- he says it will be healed,
if Frank can only believe in the power. At the end of act one,
Frank, converted, throws down his cane and waltzes Merilee around
In act two, Frank and Okley are hard at work, carrying out some
mysterious construction project that the Prophet says will supply
the group with "power". The Tibbitts farm seems to have become
a sub-headquarters for the Prophet's followers -- and those followers,
at least the men among them, seem to be arming and organizing
a militia. Now that Okley is working for the Prophet and their
financial problems are solved, Carrie is glowing with happiness,
and sewing robes for a mystical marriage ceremony based on the
Song of Songs. She is urging Marilee to become an initiate too,
a Bride-- but Marilee has discovered that there is a cache of
illegal arms stored in her cellar. She secretly telephones Saramae
to report this, and Saramae tells her that she suspects a connection
between the activities of the cult and a recent bank robbery--
from the description, the fugitive perpetrator sounds a lot like
the Prophet's henchman Woodrow, an ex-con. Saramae alerts the
sheriff, and drives out to the Tibbetts farm to get the story.
WOODROW: has indeed been wounded in a bungled attempt to supply
the movement with funds. He comes to the Prophet expecting to
be healed and hidden, but the Prophet dresses him down for acting
like a thug. The whole organization is imperiled by Woodrow's
stupidity. Woodrow brandishes his gun, and sends the others to
the cellar to arm themselves. The sheriff and deputies are outside
now, calling for the group to come out one at a time.. Will they
try to escape, using Saramae as a hostage? Surrender? Or take
a stand and fight the forces of Mammon, trusting in the power
of the Prophet?
Characters THE PROPHET FREEMAN
MARILEE: Tibbetts, 30’s, strong and confident, with a genial sense of humor. Marilee worked as a typist in a Clarksville office for a few years after high school, before marrying Frank. She writes the "Tibbets' Tid-Bits" column and an occasional feature story for the local Weekly Bugle.
FRANK: Tibbetts, 30’s, Marilee's husband. Frank never wanted anything other than to farm his own land and raise a family, just like his great-grandfather. He couldn't believe his luck when by age 26 he had his own place and had married the girl he'd admired in high school. Two years ago Frank injured his leg at work, and he walks with the help of a cane.
CARRIE: Wheeler, 30’s. Right after graduating from high school Carrie married Okley Wheeler, Frank's childhood best friend. Carrie is sweet, enthusiastic and pretty: radiant once she's pregnant with her first child.
OKLEY: Wheeler, 30’s, wears a cowboy hat and boots. He was class clown; a good athlete, popular with girls even though he was kept back a grade. Nothing's gone right for him lately.
SARAMAE: Mollenhaur, 50’s, editor of The Weekly Bugle, which she took over when her husband died suddenly.
WOODROW: Wilkins, a big tough-looking man, he wears heavy Native American Indian jewelry, and his dark beard has a white streak.
J. Freeman Conners, of uncertain age-- sometimes he looks ancient, sometimes a vigorous forty. The Prophet affects a humble folksy manner, but there's no question but that he knows he knows some important things hidden from most people.
The principle set indicates the kitchen of the Tibbetts' farmhouse. Other locations are the Bugle office, Okley's place, the Grange Hall -- none of these locations need to be detailed. A practical "cellar door" is required because the Tibbetts' dark cellar functions as a hiding place. The time is the present.
(On the street, OKLEY is crossing to meet WOODROW, but sees MARILEE coming and ducks out of sight until she passes. Then OKLEY approaches WOODROW.)
OKLEY: You got something for me?
WOODROW: Yeah. (pause) Who was that?
OKLEY: Friend of mine.
WOODROW: You looked real friendly.
OKLEY: A nosy friend. You want me to introduce you?
WOODROW: Maybe this ain’t the time. (WOODROW passes a file folder and A brown paper envelope to OKLEY.)
OKLEY: Thursday night usual?
WOODROW: Webster place.
OKLEY: (waves envelope) Thanks!
SCENE TWO Bugle Office
SARAMAE: So, can you come up with a few more Tibbits’ Tid-Bits?
MARILEE: I suppose I can. Long as they don't have to be funny. I think I've been funny as often as I can manage this week.
SARAMAE: Just do what you can. Hochman pulled his ad, says he's probably bankrupt. Leaves me with a little hole in this week's edition and another little hole in the operating budget.
MARILEE: Means you owe me extra.
SARAMAE: You know I'd pay if I could, Marilee. Rate the paper's losing--.
MARILEE: What you can do for me, Saramae-- what I'd like for you to do-- is let me write a piece on the Militia. Investigative piece, long as I want: you run it as a feature.
SARAMAE: I'm not printing any piece that makes us out to be right-wing loonies, here. Some of the most respected citizens--
MARILEE: Let me do it and show you. That's all I'm asking, Saramae.
SARAMAE: To you and me, maybe, the militia looks ridiculous. Little boys playing soldier, marching around making noise. But if you want to make fun-
MARILEE: They're dangerous! Guns and more guns, and kids no bigger than ten thinking they should be in on it---
SARAMAE: Our people know how to handle guns, Marilee. I've got a twenty-two, myself, and Frank's got -- what--?
MARILEE: For possum! Not for threatening the sheriff's deputies--
SARAMAE: You know as well as I do that was a stunt. Worked, didn't it? Ralph Pratt's buddies bought him some time. Forced the bank to reconsider.
MARILEE: So now the militia's all fired up, convinced they can win--
SARAMAE: More power to ‘em! Situation bad as this is--!
MARILEE: You gonna print that?
SARAMAE: Incite riot? Course not. The Bugle will die quietly, doing its duty. Responsible citizens of this soon to be Ghost Town.
MARILEE: It’s that bad?
SARAMAE: Look at Main Street.
MARILEE: Everybody can see Main Street. I thought you might have access to inside information.
SARAMAE: I might— if I had the heart to think about it. What we need in these despressing times is distraction, Marilee. Tidbits about our neighbors. Our own local episode out of the X files.
MARILEE: I aim to please.
SARAMAE: You want to be my prize reporter? Get me a follow-up on the story in this week's Star: Says there's a kook off of a flying saucer landed right here in Lucas County.
MARILEE: (looks through purse for tabloid) There's what?! Wait: I got a copy when I was in the check out: didn't look at it careful, though.
SARAMAE: (corrects her) Careful-ly.
MARILEE: (corrects herself) "Careful-ly." Hold on. (looks through a pile of papers) Yeah, here it is. (reads headline) "UFO beams down salvation, prophet says!!" You're right. This J. Freeman's preaching less than 30 miles from here.
SARAMAE: How'd you like to get that story?
MARILEE: Sounds a tad ambitious for the Bugle.
SARAMAE: Advertising's down 62 percent. Got to get more ambitious or just fold up. You chase this down?
MARILEE: You bet!
SARAMAE: Beat the Journal to him? There may be something in our files--
MARILEE: Well, you dig up anything you can, and I'll get right onto it.
SARAMAE: Whoa, there! First things first. Finish writing your Tid-Bits column, I'm holding the issue. Then be a star reporter.
(WHEELERS’ PORCH, CARRIE SITTING ON A ROCKER. CARRIE has a hymn playing on a portable machine and is humming along with it, as she knits.)
MARILEE: Frank says that people will guess who it was and her feelings'll be hurt. But if I don't use it, what am I going to put in my column? You hear any good stories lately?
CARRIE: (shakes her head) Uh uh.
MARILEE: Carrie, are you listening to me?
MARILEE: What did I say?
CARRIE: You said Frank advised you not to write up about Evelyn's divorce. What you want me to say is that it's all right, go ahead.
MARILEE: Or suggest something else.
CARRIE: You're going to do what you want, Marilee. You'll find reasons without asking me.
MARILEE: I can't believe you haven't a scrap of gossip.
CARRIE: Does it have to be current? What about that time Irwin Macteague's prize hog ate the petunias? Oh-- and my cousin Helen's going to have a new baby.
MARILEE: Is that who you're knitting for?
CARRIE: (smiles, shakes her head.) Uhuh.
MARILEE: Carrie, yours? Oh--! I'm sorry. I swore I'd never bring it up unless you did.
CARRIE: It's all right! I'm over it. Whether or not I can ever have children, I'm going to fuss over them. My nephews. Nelly Ann.
MARILEE: Nelly Ann'd be tickled. She says "Daddy too busy?"
CARRIE: I'd like to take Nelly Ann with me next week, to see Vida's puppies.
MARILEE: She'd love that, Carrie. I know she would. You're being--
CARRIE: Being what? Now Marilee, you stop that, now! (hits her with yarn)
CARRIE: "What" what? Being careful! Marilee Tibbits, we've been friends since we were knee high, you can say anything you want to me! I won't break. I acted like a fool-- Well, like I said, I'm over it. And I can't help believing I'd've been over it a lot sooner if you'd pointed it out to me.
CARRIE: If not my best friend, who, then? Reverend Brimmer?
MARILEE: That may have been what I was thinking.
CARRIE: Uh huh. You like this sweater pattern?
MARILEE: Uh--Unusual. Where'd you get the yarn?
CARRIE: Made it. Spun it myself from Allister's shearings.
MARILEE: Spun it! Even my grandmother didn't do that!
CARRIE: Look here, feel this! Stuff you buy in the store these days is full of pesticide.
MARILEE: Feels- uh-- (CARRIE giggles) Why the effort? You running short on work?
CARRIE: I wish I could trust you, that I could tell you anything --
MARILEE: Try me.
CARRIE: And have it come out in the paper? No thank you!
MARILEE: You’re not even going to tell me who this little garment is for.
CARRIE: Cause maybe the parents don't want the whole town to know until it's actually born!
MARILEE: You can't keep a secret, Carrie. Fifteen minutes uninterrupted I can worm it out of you, so you might as well--
OKLEY: (rushes in, excited) Carrie! Good news! You got the robes ready? We're on for Thursday --! (sees MARILEE) Marilee! What are you doing here?
MARILEE: That's a fine way to greet a friend. You drop the jack on your foot, again?
OKLEY: Where'd you park? I didn't see your truck.
CARRIE: Marilee came over to invite us to the movies.
MARILEE: My mother says I ought to get out of the house, stop fretting about the bills and the mortgage. Offered to baby sit while I go over to Clarksville to the pictures.
OKLEY: What does Frank think of that, you stepping out without him?
MARILEE: He won't notice, he'll be at work.
OKLEY: Don't sound good.
MARILEE: Since when were you all that concerned with good, Okley Wheeler? You've been saved? That it, Carrie? Reverend Brimmer got him, finally? (awkward pause) You know Frank better than that, Okley. He's glad I can get out once in a while. What do you say?
OKLEY: I'm a busy man.
MARILEE: Well, I beg your pardon. Next time I'll leave my calling card with your butler.
OKLEY: Might be able to get away if they're showing an X-rated. You got in mind an X-rated?
CARRIE: Okley, behave.
OKLEY: Sorry, Marilee. We just don't have a minute, lately. Must've been, what? January-- the last time we saw a movie.
MARILEE: Well, I'd like to get together. I missed you at the church potluck, Nelly Ann had a tooth--
CARRIE: We didn't go, either.
OKLEY: Like I said, we've been busy. In fact, we're due somewheres in about an hour, so we can't really chat, now.
MARILEE: I was just going. I've got... Bye, Carrie. I'll call you later in the week. I'm glad about -- what you told me. (exits)
OKLEY: What'd you tell her?
CARRIE: Nothing, really. That I was through moping about the baby.
OKLEY: Well, I should hope! That's good, though, that was the right thing to say. But I wouldn't go farther. When she calls, you make excuses. Be on your guard.
SCENE FOUR --- TIBBETS KITCHEN
MARILEE: When did you get back?
FRANK: Where've you been?
MARILEE: Bugle Office. It's Friday morning, Frank: deadline. Did you forget? You weren't home by nine thirty, so I had to drop Nelly Ann off at Mom's, and pick her up on the way back. She fell asleep in the car, thank God.
FRANK: I was worried. Couldn't you have called from in town?
MARILEE: (unpacks tabloid) I tried once. Line was busy. I'm sorry if you were worried. When you didn't get home for breakfast I didn't know whether to go ahead and do your chores or figure you'll walk in any minute. Did you find something to eat?
FRANK: Ate at work. Did you get the chickens?
MARILEE: Fed and watered is all.
FRANK: I'll get onto it.
MARILEE: (massages FRANK's leg) You need a nap. You're so worn out your leg is shaking. Put it up.
FRANK: Nap's no good. Tried to nap yesterday, couldn't, and then I didn't get to sleep when I was supposed to.
MARILEE: Nobody's supposed to sleep from five to eleven. It's not natural.
FRANK: I've been doing it for a year and a half--
MARILEE: Fifteen months-
FRANK: Anyways, I couldn't do it last night.
MARILEE: Nelly Ann making too much noise?
FRANK: Wasn't that.
MARILEE: I had the radio way down.
FRANK: It's all right.
MARILEE: (puts her arms around him) Wish I'd known you weren't asleep. I'd have come and crawled in with you.
FRANK: (smiles) You can always wake me up.
MARILEE: Sure, If I want a grizzly bear.
FRANK: This is no way to live, one night and one day. Married people should sleep together.
MARILEE: If we'd sell the land-- ( FRANK glares, silent) Your Pa says that every egg from his chickens costs him pret'near two bits apiece: they're a dollar fifteen a dozen at the store.
FRANK: (pulls his leg away, ) Leave it, will you?
MARILEE: How long can you hold up, never getting enough sleep?
FRANK: (cleaning gun) I'm lucky to have a job. Okley and Jim've been laid off.
MARILEE: Oh my God. When?
FRANK: Starting the end of the week. Okley turned down night shift so's he could be home to milk: remember? And now he's out.
MARILEE: Poor Carrie.
FRANK: Don't run right over there to help her out, all right? Be a hell of a thing if he hasn't told her yet.
MARILEE: After he's told you?
FRANK: Didn't. I heard.
MARILEE: Well, I hope he tells Carrie soon. Not do like Luke Frye, go off like he's going to work and drink till quitting time.
FRANK: Okley's quit drinking.
MARILEE: Mrs. Frye never guessed till the sheriff came with the eviction.
FRANK: So maybe I can't be home to milk. But at least maybe I'll get to keep the home I got. (begins to read tabloid)
MARILEE: The home, probably. If we're careful. But how are we going to keep the farm, Frank? I did the milking with Nelly Ann strapped to my back again. You'd think by the time she weighs a ton she'd be able to sleep through till at least six, but she won't. I did half your chores too, since you were so late, --
FRANK: I'll make it up.
MARILEE: How? You've got to sleep, sometime. Frank, you're as good a farmer as any man can be, but you can't farm and work night shift at the same time. I know you don't want to hear this, but reading the paper while I'm talking is -- Oh, is that the article about the UFO nut?
FRANK: You read this?
MARILEE: About three times, now.
FRANK: What do you make of it?
MARILEE: Make of it? A good story. This old geezer is preaching right near here. If I can track him down and do a feature for the Bugle, before the News or the Journal gets to him--
FRANK: What kind of a "feature"? What's Saramae want you to write?
MARILEE: You know the kind. Human interest. If you can call it that, when you're talking about extraterrestrials! (laughs) Like: Where'd this J. Freeman Conners come from, what's his angle, who's crazy enough to believe in him?
FRANK: (crumples tabloid) This is garbage!
MARILEE: (recovers paper) Mine'll be good!
FRANK: Makes us sound like a bunch of yokels! Like in those cute little "tidbits" things
MARILEE: Frank, that's not how I'd write it! I see it like the Dempsey's Mill closing: I want to make people understand. This Prophet, nobody would have paid any attention to him five, ten years ago. But when a body’s family is going under --
FRANK: How you going to find him? You can't just drive on up, you know.
MARILEE: (laughs) Why not? He's in Lucas. It's not that big. Somebody'll know.
FRANK: I don't think it's a good idea.
MARILEE: (refers to tabloid) He sounds harmless.
FRANK: (warning) He's not.
MARILEE: How do you know?
FRANK: He didn't just drop in out of the blue --
MARILEE: (giggles, waves hands) Off of a saucer, isn't that how?
FRANK: He never said he came from a saucer. He's from Idaho. And he's been here three-four months, real quiet, setting up his operation.
MARILEE: I can't believe it! If you know about him, how come I never?
FRANK: Because you write a gossip column! It'd be just like you to make some kind of stupid joke out of it. Have his whole church out for your blood!
MARILEE: He's got a church, around here? People we know? When did you-?
FRANK: (slams table) Danmation! You never let up!
FRANK: I don't feature making enemies out of my old friends.
MARILEE: Come on! I ‘m your wife.
FRANK: Yeah. But you think like a Goddam reporter!
MARILEE: (teases and tickles him) I won't say a word, cross my heart! Who? Who's joined up that we know? Clyde Baxter? No. Friends? Close friends? Like, Carrie?
FRANK: Carrie goes to meetings.
MARILEE: Carrie! I thought she's up to something! And Okley?
FRANK: That's right.
MARILEE: (laughs) Okley! I suppose that makes sense.
FRANK: What'n hell does that mean? You think Okley's a nut? Damnation! (slams stuff around, hurts his leg)
MARILEE: Are you all right?
FRANK: I'm fine. Leave it alone.
MARILEE: Come on, then! You were telling me about the prophet and Okley.
FRANK: Not if you're gonna laugh.
MARILEE: I like Okley.
FRANK: But he's gullible. That right? Not smart, like Saramae, or that pointy-head professor whose book you've been typing--
MARILEE: That's a job!
FRANK: Okley's just a dumb hick.
MARILEE: I wouldn't call him that, exactly. Romantic, maybe.
FRANK: Romantic! Okley? (laughs)
MARILEE: He thinks he's one of the knights of old. Doesn't he? Comes tearing up here on his horse-- how many farmers you know got a horse? --a white horse, yet! And guns: he must have near on to a dozen guns, fancy ones. And when he peels out our driveway, he squeals his tires! The man's thirty-four years old!
FRANK: (chuckles, conceding) Remember the time he hauled Lemmel Scoggs' chicken coop up on the roof of the American Legion? The bubble soap in the band instruments?! I laughed so hard --! You know, he never said, but I think he did that for me.
MARILEE: For you?
FRANK: Cause Johannson kicked me out of band practice.
MARILEE: Uhhuh. Knight on horseback. I bet he's in the militia, too, isn't he? (FRANK glares) I'm not running him down, Frank. Lord knows, we can use a little more romance. Least, I could. (puts her arms around FRANK) How about you?
FRANK: (kisses her) This's not how I planned.
MARILEE: We got each other. Even if we lose the farm--
FRANK: (shakes her) Don't talk like that! Our families've been here four generations. My kids are going to work alongside me like I did my Dad, and -- (looks out window, then startled, yells:) Damnation! ( picking up his shotgun, rushes out the door.)
MARILEE: Frank, don't! You'll wake the baby. (she goes off to check. Pause. Two shots are fired. FRANK comes back in, reloads. Marilee returns.) Did you get him?
FRANK: Naw. Damn possum eats more out of that garden than we do. Didn't wake Nellie Ann, though, did I?
MARILEE: She just twitched. Good thing, cause I got to get on the phone and start to track down my story.
FRANK: (sits her down, confiding) Now, wait. You mustn't say a word about this to anybody: you promise? (MARILEE nods) The Prophet's healing Carrie.
MARILEE: I didn't know she was sick.
FRANK: Ten years she's been trying to have a baby. Went to the clinic in Clarksville, even. Now Freeman's doing a laying on of hands. It worked for Eunice Prescott, so Carrie's got her hopes up.
MARILEE: Maybe it will. You hear stories about people who have one of their own just as soon as they decide to adopt-
FRANK: Well, Okley believes.
MARILEE: I suppose they pay for it, this healing business. The way Allie Vickers sent all her insurance money off to that TV Evangelist? That kind of business makes me so mad,--
FRANK: The Prophet's no fraud. He may be preaching nonsense. But once you've got close to him, felt the man's power, you won't be in such a hurry to call Okley a fool.
MARILEE: (nods) That's the first thing. I got to get close. You know where he is?
FRANK: I can ask around. But if you get in, you've got to promise to be careful. I think you can just talk natural to the Prophet himself. He's not likely to take offense. Some of his followers, they're real touchy. Anything you say they don't approve of --.
MARILEE: You're trying to scare me.
FRANK: If you can't do what the Prophet wants, then you have to keep quiet. Not even let on that you saw him. Cause I'll tell you, honey, and I'm serious: there's men around Freeman don't trust nobody much, and they'd just as soon -- (sound of two shots. FRANK picks up his gun, runs to the door)
MARILEE: Frank? Have these Prophet people threatened you?
FRANK: I've got nothing more to say. Not till I've checked it out.
SCENE FIVE -- The Bugle.
SARAMAE: Marilee, I thought you said serious: (reads) "Melda Caffrey's incubator overheated, and instead of ducklings she had baked eggs. She claims she deviled them up and sold them to the new gourmet grocery in Willow Creek.” I love that. You make it up?
MARILEE: Not entirely.
SARAMAE: It’ll do.
MARILEE: It's the other one I'm worried about.
SARAMAE: The panty hose used replace a fan belt? It's a good story.
MARILEE: Too good to be true, maybe. Lissa Butterfield told me it happened to a friend
SARAMAE: I wouldn't worry about it.
MARILEE: I got this funny feeling it was in Reader's Digest. I was going to check-- SARAMAE: Afraid they'll sue?
MARILEE: Don't want to look like a fool.
SARAMAE: Wait’ll you do the UFOs.
MARILEE: You find out any more?
SARAMAE: Item from the Journal: three weeks ago. Sheriff got a call saying there were cars pulled up overlooking the gypsum quarry around 2:00 am, all blinking their lights like they had some kind of code. Time the sheriff got up there they were gone.
MARILEE: Signaling for a landing?
SARAMAE: Over in Lucas about two months ago some campers saw what looked like white sheets and pointed hats. Ghosts or Klan or what--? I got the number of an office in Atlanta keeps track of extremists. Call and describe this prophet fella
SCENE SIX - Tibbits Kitchen
OKLEY: So it turns out the best place for it is the south corner of your near-hand pasture. This side the creek.
FRANK: I don't know, Oke.
OKLEY: It's not like anybody's going to see it. It'll be built low to the ground.
FRANK: What's this thing supposed to do?
OKLEY: I can only tell you in the most general kind of way -- and you've got to keep it absolutely secret.
FRANK: Sure, sure. But I don't --
OKLEY: You can imagine what the multinationals would do to get at this. So not a word.
FRANK: But why in my cellar?
OKLEY: Your cellar, your pasture. Besides, I told them you're trustworthy. Don't have to believe, don't have to have an interest. If Frank Tibbets gives his word, he'll keep it.
FRANK: Well of course I will--
OKLEY: No of course about it. Not with millions at stake. But we'll trust you, and maybe Marilee.
FREEMAN: Y' see, my friends, in the garden, ---- that is, before the Sons of Cain got a tiny bit smart and cut themselves out from the other animals---- there was no problem. Adam picked a little fruit, stole some eggs, maybe got a rabbit if it wasn't fast enough. Hundred thousand years or so, Cain Jr. figured out that if he piled up a big bunch of nuts, there'd be days he wouldn't have to go out and chase rabbits. Now for a squirrel with nuts, this's not a dangerous discovery. But Satanic man! Before you can say Sodom and Babylonia, All the Cains are piling it on, piling it up. Under the influence of usury, Cain's boy has got his fences and his chattel, and he's looking at his neighbor with covetousness, wanting to add him and his to the pile.
(FREEMAN arranges objects on the lectern for a show & tell illustration of his points)
Now the universal design so far had been for synergy. Input-output: a stable system. But that's not enough. The sons of Cain want it so's it's all output, and Man won't have to give back. Not even his used up old dead carcass. Plus, once he's learned to save, he figures he needs to BE saved: live safe and live forever! From Pharaoh on down, everybody got to scratch just to keep from being turned into the next fella's commodity. Grab onto that water, that energy! Sweat. Slaves. Gunpowder. Oil. Nuclear. And the condensed kind of energy the bankers call money: the false coin of Caesar/Mammon.
(FREEMAN takes a handful of $100 bills out of his pocket, crumples and squeezes it, it vanishes)
The usurers squeezed that life-energy into paper money, and that's how they put the squeeze on you. Bankers and politicians, taxes and interest, hucksters with their hands. Drain the life-blood right out of the farmer, the carpenter, the honest businessman. Get their hooks into oil and gas, too: what’s a poor man's got left when the bloodsuckers tap off all that God-given energy! For awhile the bloodsuckers fool you, hire liars like our State Rep. Busick, there: try to look like they're on your side. Make you pretty speeches about how you're the backbone, you're the breadbasket. Sell you fertilizer, sell you pesticides. On credit. You get a big crop: three times the size the crop your grandpop had! But all along the soil's wearing out, the pollution's getting stronger. Where you gonna sell that big crop, anyways? The sons of Cain own the dealers, government--. What can you get for it?
(the $100 bills reappear. FREEMAN tears them into little pieces and throws them into the air)
Don't worry, my friends-- that was a trick. Nothing of value there: just blank paper. I mean "bank" paper. Worse'n toilet paper. Contracts not worth the printing! See, a real contract, a covenant like God made with Abraham, is a promise to give value. On both sides. Your bankers, your tyrant oligarch governments-- They never intend to give value. If you could see through their tricks, you'd tear that so-called loan up and throw it away.
Like I just did. It's a trick to take away your land. And yours. And yours. when they get it all, what do you think'll be the price of bread then? By the time the government's done, there won't be a real farm left! Be one big farm-factory. Maybe two. Republican and Democrat. They got experts on the payroll, tell you it's nobody's fault. Economic forces. But economics isn't a force of nature, like gravity. It's a force of Man, like a gun. Somebody loads it. Somebody aims it. Somebody like you? Well, so far the law will let you protect yourself--- you could give them one hell of a fight. You see, friends, we were put here to prove ourselves fit. Fit to survive, fit to inherit the earth and all its abundance, fit for the galaxies in all their glory. We failed before the time of the flood, when we went whoring after false gods.
We failed in the Old Countries, when we bowed our heads to tyrants.
But the Power that watches never gave up on us. We were shown the way out, shown how to sail to this promised land, land of the second chance. Land of the free. Home of the brave. Last best hope of mankind. Once America is purified, once we show that we can live together as family, in liberty and law, then the sky's the limit! Children, we've got a home beyond the stars.
SCENE EIGHT --- after the preaching
CARRIE: Marilee, wait up!
OKLEY: Slow down! You hear a tornado warning?
CARRIE: Isn't the prophet wonderful?
MARILEE: Gives you a lot to think about.
OKLEY: So--- what do you think?
MARILEE: I don't know, exactly. What he says seems so --
CARRIE: I don't really understand most of it yet, myself. But we're doing so much better now, Okely and me. I feel that if I can just have patience it'll all come clear. I've been busting to tell you about it, but Okley said we'd better not.
MARILEE: Lots of the people there I recognized. I felt a little like the only kid in third grade didn't get a valentine.
OKLEY: Except now its been delivered to you, red satin and lace and saying "be mine". So what are you going to do about it?
MARILEE: Do? Just like that?
CARRIE: Emma Baxter joined! The very first time she heard him! She's smart. Ahead of you, even, in chemistry class.
OKLEY: Merilee's not easy to convince. You remember the time she refused to believe that mixing that white powder into soda water it would explode?
MARILEE: Okley, you switched the labels.
OKLEY: Four Eyed Folger was furious. Like to had an attack! You know Folger was the one kept me off the baseball team? Talk about holding a grudge!
MARILEE: Mr. Folger just died. Did you hear that? Moved to Seattle to be near his daughter after her husband lost the farm, but he lasted less than a year there.
OKLEY: I 'm told it's very wet out there. Guy I knew in the army said he dated a girl from Seattle. Nice girl, but she had webbed toes.
WOODROW: (catches up) Okley? Mrs. Wheeler--
CARRIE: Evening, Woodrow. This is Marilee Tibbetts. She was at the meeting.
OKLEY: Marilee and Frank've been friends since we were kids.
CARRIE: They live right down the road, pasture's next to ours.
OKLEY: Same latitude.
WOODROW: That so? Okley, I need to talk to you for a bit.
OKLEY: Uh,oh. Excuse me, ladies, I just remembered I have an urgent appointment . (pats Marilee on the back, attaching a label with a silly saying on it to her blouse, exits.)
MARILEE: Strange friend you've got there.
CARRIE: I guess Woodrow doesn't want you to know he's with the Prophet. But I don't see how that's possible, if you're going to talk to him, hear him preach. Woodrow'll be there.
MARILEE: You've been going to the prophet instead of Bible study?
MARILEE: And choir? Reverend Brimmer stopped me after church last Sunday to ask if I knew why you've been out of choir. He said he's missed your alto.
CARRIE: And my money in the collection plate. Mealy- mouthed hypocrite! "the Lord taketh away"!
MARILEE: But you used to be in his church four times a week, sat right down front --
CARRIE: I was a fool! Now that I've seen the real thing--! That Alvin Brimmer, he had me convinced that he could pray me a baby. When I think of the waste, the humiliation--. Well, you were right about that, all along.
MARILEE: It seemed a real turn-around, the Reverend asking me about you! Course, I've been twice this month. That's about double my usual. My mother even showed up, Sunday.
CARRIE: Bet Brimmer had to check the calendar to be sure it wasn't Christmas.
MARILEE: I was afraid Ethel Windishman would be mad at me about that Tid-Bit making fun of her terrible coffee, but all the church ladies were grateful. Seems Vandine Cleary read it and donated the machine he'd been using for his lunch counter!
CARRIE: It's a shame about Cleary's.
MARILEE: Half the business on Main St's gone, and the rest are all in trouble. This place is turning into a ghost town.
CARRIE: Okley's got work. He's starting a new job.
MARILEE: Carrie, that's wonderful! Frank was saying the only way to make some cash around here is to rob banks!
CARRIE: The banks around here have already been robbed-- by those insiders! An honest farmer can't get a loan, but skim off millions for the politicians, you can take all you want.
MARILEE: What'll Okley be doing?
CARRIE: Okley's got a job with the Prophet. He's like a deacon, except he'll be paid. I'm glad you've heard the preaching, Marilee. I'd like you to tell me honestly what you think. Your impression.
MARILEE: Of Freeman Conners?
CARRIE: He's been so good for us. Okley was miserable, and once he started drinking-- you remember I told you we decided to replace the partition in the dining room? We didn't "decide". Okley went wild one night, kept kicking and kicking until it was all holes! I thought I might have to leave him. But he's well, now, and I'm going to have a baby.
MARILEE: I'm really happy for you.
CARRIE: I'm sure the prophet could help you, too. But if you set out to write about him, take that high falooting tone you do sometimes, Marilee--
MARILEE: If the prophet's for real, I'd think he'd want people to know.
CARRIE: Prophet Freeman's got a theory about how the press can't ever tell the truth about him. It's not allowed. Something to do with-- initials -- LBJ? JD- L?
MARILEE: Junior Debs? Jewish Defense?
CARRIE: Whatever. But he won't talk to reporters---. If you came to him as a seeker-- Oh, I don't mean lie. You'd never get away with it!
MARILEE: You know me better than--
CARRIE: Freeman's got a bull detector: he knows my doubts. But doubts are OK, in a seeker. As long as we're open to the truth.
MARILEE: I should get home. (as she picks up her bags, she reveals the silly button that Okley stuck on her back earlier.)
CARRIE: Where'd this come from?
MARILEE: Okley! I thought he's reformed.
CARRIE: (laughing) Not that much.
MARILEE: But you're happy? I don't mean to pry.
CARRIE: You're not prying, we're friends!
(OKLEY is carrying a big wooden box, which he dumps into FRANK's reluctant arms.)
OKLEY: Here. Get it out of sight.
FRANK: Now, wait a minute.
OKLEY: (leaving, calls back) Go on, we got more in the truck. (FRANK shrugs, puts the box down and drags it toward the cellar door. He can't carry it because of his weak leg. About the time he reaches the door, OKLEY pushes past him followed by Woodrow carrying another box.)
Coming through! This here's Woodrow, Frank.
FRANK: Oke, I can't take any more of this.
OKLEY: Forgot about your leg. Take it easy. We'll get it. ( carries the other boxes down into the cellar, noisily.)
FRANK: (calls down) Anywhere you put them, Marilee's bound to notice.
WOODROW: (suddenly angry) Thought you said this place'd be all right.
OKLEY: Well, there are some problems--.
WOODROW: (exiting for more boxes) What problems, exactly? Okley, you better fix this. If we're not secure--
FRANK: Who is this guy, Oke? Why does he think he can talk to me like that? In my own house.
OKLEY: Calm down. Woodrow's one of the deacons, Frank. Sort of like the prophet's bodyguard. It's his job to be suspicious.
FRANK: I thought I was doing you a personal favor.
OKLEY: We appreciate it. Just understand that Woodrow has to be careful.
FRANK: (as Woodrow reenters) Marilee knows you're with the Prophet. I told her about Carrie's healing.
WOODROW: That's all? You're sure?
FRANK: Hell, man, that's all I know!
OKLEY: After next week it shouldn't matter.
FRANK: Marilee may still be trying to write about him--
OKLEY: I don't see why that's such a problem, myself. Like I told Woodrow, even that crazy story in the Star, we got people trying to track the Prophet down and join up. Print something, anything, in the paper, they'll come.
WOODROW: Crazies. And maybe the FBI.
OKLEY: Prophet says that's not supposed to happen. "The seed must be scattered only where the soil is prepared." But I say, the crazier the better--that's my thinking. (WOODROW exits)
FRANK: What'd'ya mean?
OKLEY: Government won't take the prophet serious if it sounds like he's a hoax.
FRANK: You ever think-- maybe he is?
OKLEY: I thought you were on our side.
FRANK: I'm not on anybody's side! You're my friend. But I got relatives Baptist, Catholic, even Jehovah's Witness. I get along with all of them.
OKLEY: That's not how it looked to me the other night. Could've sworn the Prophet got you.
FRANK: Freeman makes sense, some. At the time, anyways. But then I don't know how I can go along with the Ark, for instance. Seems to me we don't have the technology.
OKLEY: I got ideas of my own about that. (WOODROW reenters) But I'm taking my place in the Kingdom. You will too, Frank. You wait and see.
WOODROW: Better not wait too long.
OKLEY: Won't be long, till we've got all that energy. Power without combustion, Frank, the key to saving our old planet earth.
WOODROW: Right! (exit)
OKLEY: It starts in your field, Frank, but its going to be stored on my land. My land, Frank. Stands to reason, then, the Prophet and his people aren't ever going to let it be sold off.
FRANK: You behind?
OKLEY: Who isn't? Unless Freeman comes through, I'm about six weeks away from auction.
FRANK: I suppose you're keeping that from Carrie too.
OKLEY: I'm hoping she'll never know what a close shave we had.
FRANK: Course not.
OKLEY: What about Marilee? You going to "share" with her? Maybe she should put it in the paper, share it all around.
FRANK: It's happening to everybody. It ain't news. But it's nobody's business. Still: how do you explain why you don't have a paycheck?
OKLEY: I don't have to. I got this (pulls some bills out of his pocket)
FRANK: Those are hundreds! New hundreds! Where'd you get them?
OKLEY: From the Prophet. I'm working for him.
FRANK: I thought he was poor. He always says he's poor--
OKLEY: Blessed be the poor-- He took these out of a pile about yea high.
FRANK: If you got any extra, I'd be grateful. I'm only about three steps ahead of foreclosure myself. ( WOODROW returns)
OKLEY: This here's consecrated money. It flows through me because I use it for his purposes. He'll probably want to compensate you too, though. He didn't make an offer, cause he doesn't want to trust anybody'd do a thing just for the money. But since we've got to buy us more materials, and it'd look better if the amounts are small---
FRANK: What kind of materials?
OKLEY: Electrical, mostly. And some fertilizer.
WOODROW: Got to harness that energy the Prophet showed us.
FRANK: How, exactly?
WOODROW: I can't tell you, exactly. You understand? Top secret. But you can think of it as a kind of transducer. We tap onto the force field, line it up with the cosmic flow, run it into generators. (exits with supplies)
FRANK: (looking at WOODROW's exiting back) That'll work?
OKLEY: Don't ask me. Theology, electronics, cosmic whatsis: it's all Greek to me. But everything the man's said has tested out so far.
(WOODROW joins FREEMAN.)
SCENE TEN (FRANK and MARILEE walk together to visit the prophet)
MARILEE: Frank, you can't believe in that nonsense! UFO's!
FRANK: Hundreds of people have seen them! Air force has a file!
MARILEE: Have you seen them?
MARILEE: Little green men sent down to the end of Okley's driveway, performing miracles.
FRANK: The prophet didn't say that! Those are lies, lies to sell newspapers. But whether any UFO's exist or not, or where they come from if they do, I sure as hell don't rule them out because a bunch of generals and their so-called scientists tell me it's impossible. My cousin in Colorado--
MARILEE: You mean the one had the radiation.
FRANK: Impossible, they said, when his sheep died. Then his wife died, and his son got the tumors, but to this day---
MARILEE: Covering up an accident is one thing, but something as big as aliens --
FRANK: I expect you'll show me, won't you? Where my ideas don't measure up to your what-do-you-call-it? After all, you've been to college.
MARILEE: Uh huh. Three semesters. About the same as you.
FRANK: If you're planning on making a fool of me-
MARILEE: We're all fools! You, me, Pa, the whole county-- nobody needs farmers! We're in so deep! Three hundred thirty thousand dollars, Frank! Has Freeman got a cure for that?
FREEMAN: (comes in, chuckling) Right on time, Frank! (shakes hands) So, this is your lady who writes for the paper- (takes MARILEE 's hand) Pleased to meet you.
MARILEE: Uh-- me too, Mr. Conners.
FREEMAN: Don't say "mister". Never could think of myself as a mister.
MARILEE: What should I call you?
FREEMAN: My enemies call me all sorts of names, but my friends call me Freeman. If they want to be formal, it's Prophet Freeman, kind of like a title. But that only applies if you go along with it.-- And you're Marilee. Pretty name.
MARILEE: Thank you. For making time for me like this.
FREEMAN: Time! (laughs) Don't you worry about that, little lady. Ol'J. Freeman's got all the time in the world!
MARILEE: (smiles) Is that a joke, or are you meaning that you're not mortal like the rest of us?
FREEMAN: Not right off-- It's not the easiest thing to explain. But I'm ready to begin.
MARILEE: You mind if I tape record?
WOODROW: (takes recorder) We mind.
FREEMAN: You see, I don't give interviews. I don't offer comments. I'm willing to talk to you, on the say-so of these good people, cause they claim that you're honest. Then if you listen to me, really listen, give what I say honest consideration, you won't be writing any story.
MARILEE: (indicates notebook) I take notes. But I'm not fast, I'll get some of it wrong--
FREEMAN: The more you write, the more you get wrong. That's the nature of it. Knowledge goes from soul to soul, but words! You a Christian woman?
MARILEE: (shrugs) I guess so. I go to church. Not regular, but more than Christmas and Easter.
FREEMAN: You believe that your Redeemer liveth? That though worms destroy this body, yet in your flesh you shall see God?
MARILEE: Well, I- hope so.
FREEMAN: That's what Christian means. Isn't it?
MARILEE: I try to live the best I can, and take the rest on faith.
FREEMAN: Yeah. Well, the priests and reverends are big on Faith. They want you to go ahead and swallow their mumbo-jumbo, put your money in the plate, put your money in the mail, turn off your God-given common sense. But the twelve apostles, the original Christ-followers, they didn't need faith. Cause they saw with their own eyes what the Son of Man was and what he could do.
MARILEE: You claim to do miracles?
FREEMAN: I don't "claim". That's words. Words are cheap. Woodrow, here, tells me you made a trip to the library, checking up on me. (chuckles) Oh, I'm an easy target. Old, ugly, poor. Dirt behind my ears and under my fingernails. Only went to school to sixth grade. But hell, Jesus was a carpenter. Gave the scribes and Pharisees fits, that did!
MARILEE: You're like Jesus? Like The Second Coming?
FREEMAN: (smiling) As I said, it's complicated. The message, not the messenger.
MARILEE: This message: 's some reason why you don't want to have Saramae print it in the paper?
FREEMAN: If only it were that easy! I'd like to say, just spread the news! That's gospel, sweetheart: even bad news is good news! But as an experiment-- (takes some index cards out of his pocket) All right. We're coming up onto the millennium. These are crisis times. Crisis times, right, Woodrow?
WOODROW: Signs are all around, if you know your prophecy. John, and Daniel---
FREEMAN: All of them! The divine is always trying to get through to pig headed men! Course, it's not entirely sinfulness. There's the language barrier.
MARILEE: What language does the divine speak?
FREEMAN: None of em. Speaks to me as was spoke of old, in symbols and flashes of light. And then I have to turn around and translate : (points to card) for myself, you see, as well as those potato heads out there in Disneyland.
MARILEE: That's what's on those cards? Divine writing? (FREEMAN grins, hands her the cards)
FREEMAN: Revelations. This mind that's inside me, it's no more like the human mind that J. Freeman Conners was born with than a computer is. But the divine -- all they got to work with here is the mind and body of old J. Freeman Conners: which is no great shakes-- you can ask anybody who went to school with him. Or knew him in the days when he was worse'n the lowest bum in the gutter, wrecked and wretched in body and soul! But if the divine wants to snatch such a brand from the burning -- like Woodrow, isn't that so, Woodrow?
WOODROW: True as Gospel. Amen.
FREEMAN: Then, in the circumstance that's given unto me, I do the best I can. Like the Prophets of old. Which is a hell of a lot better than the damn politicians and Pharisees can do with all their high I Q!
WOODROW: They want us to leave ourselves naked before our enemies.
FREEMAN: It comes through me, the power and the glory, --distorted by this envelope I wear, of course. But worse if it goes into writing. Or television! That's the very worst! Those tablets of Sinai, they were a terrible mistake, but nothing to what happens when they're read out over the Christian Cable! Jesus, Socrates, the Buddha, they never wrote down a thing. Wouldn't let anybody draw their picture, make a graven image. The Post, the Times, the Network news, they aren't knowledge. They're corporate instruments of mind control. It all fits in, everything that happens, one damn thing after another. Follow the sports to the funnies through the ads to the stocks and the real text: m-o-n-e-y. Only section of the paper that gets bigger.
MARILEE: (nods) There's something to that.
FREEMAN: What's the human use of a newspaper? To hold in front of you while you're sitting on the bus, so's you won't have to look at a naked soul! Train your puppy. Wrap your garbage. Screen between a man and wife at breakfast.. So-called objective reporters--they know not what they do. You understand what I'm saying? Haven't you experienced this, hasn't your husband tried to warn you where that that path is leading?
MARILEE: I'm not sure...
FREEMAN: Good! The beginning of wisdom. When you're not sure of what you used to think you had all figured out. Next thing, you may find you've had a revelation. But don't pin it down. Don't turn it into lying words. The letter killeth, the spirit giveth life.
MARILEE: These revelations --they're from heaven?
FREEMAN: Heaven, the Upper World: whatever. Not a place, has no name and no dimension. You catching a glimpse of it?
MARILEE: Maybe... but-- even if I did, I haven't a clue how to write about it
(FREEMAN roars with laughter. Marilee smiles)
OKLEY: (bursting in) Prophet - - we got us a problem.
FREEMAN: Gently, son, gently.
OKLEY: I don't know how I should--
FREEMAN: (WOODROW rises) Nothing to worry about. Woodrow will take care of it. Maybe with Frank's help?
FRANK: You want me to--?
FREEMAN: Go along and give them a hand. (the men exit. As I was saying, Marilee: the essence of communication is soul to soul. Words, and sometimes thoughts, they just get in the way.
(BUGLE OFFICE. MARILEE is standing at SARAMAE's desk, arguing.)
SARAMAE: What are you trying to tell me? He's either a loony, or he's the second coming. Now, which is it?
MARILEE: Come on, when you run a story on the Baptists, you don't try to settle whether they're right or the Methodists are.
SARAMAE: Not the same.
MARILEE: All I know is what I saw and what he told me.
SARAMAE: Not enough. I want us to be able to take a stand
MARILEE: How can I, when I don't know what I think?
SARAMAE: If you swallowed this, I'd say you don't think at all!
MARILEE: You weren't there. You didn't hear him.
SARAMAE: Black and white, the guy's too loopy to be running loose! That's our story: not the peculiar quirks in his prophetic doctrine, but the fact that he's running loose! I don't mean to hurt your feelings, with your friends and all...
MARILEE: If I were sure myself, I'd say go ahead and make them laughingstocks , shame them out of it--.
SARAMAE: About twice a year I take communion. Body and blood of Christ? Maybe not. But I feel something--. Connected, I guess. To my grandparents, to millions of other people, over two thousand years. Who needs a new religion?
MARILEE: Unless it's true.
SARAMAE: Maybe they're all true! Marilee, you've got ahold of a great story here. But it's got to be an expose. I suppose I should turn it over to Brad, now-- I'm tempted to dig in myself-
MARILEE: Don't give it to Brad! I don't mind if you work on it, Saramae. In fact, I wish you would. I'd like to compare notes. But you'd never get in, without someone to vouch for you. After you run a story, especially a negative, we'd never-
SARAMAE: All right. I'll wait. You act like maybe you're going to convert, you might get close enough to find out what's really going on.
MARILEE: I don't know if I can fool my friends.
SARAMAE: It's for their own good! Unless you want to drop it and run. Get clean away: go to your mother's and tell Frank and his buddy you'll get back together when they've come to their senses.
MARILEE: You don't think Frank's one of them?
SARAMAE: Isn't he? I'm not going to argue. I'd rather for the Bugle's sake you were right in the thick of it all, taking notes. But I've got to warn you. I don't think the Prophet's a harmless old fool anymore, or even a two-bit con man. He's armed and dangerous, and he ought to be stopped.
MARILEE: I wish I could explain-- didn't any of it come through in what I wrote? There is a kind of danger around him, it's true. But it's --bigness. The world is a bigger, more mysterious place once you've met him. And it's wide open! Frank and I, we've never even been to Chicago: and suddenly, we've been touched by greatness.
SARAMAE: You're touched, all right.
MARILEE: (grabs her pages) Give it to Brad!
SARAMAE: (stops her, takes pages) No, wait! I trust you. You'll keep on till you get at the explanation.
MARILEE: Even if there isn't one?
SARAMAE: Trust me. There is.
SCENE THIRTEEN -- prayer & healing service
WOODROW: The prophet draws on the faith of all of us for his healing power.
OKLEY: You don't have to be a disciple, not everyone has the gift. But you've got to be a willing channel for the power to flow.
WOODROW: You can't see it, except by its working, but you can sure feel it.
FRANK: I think I've felt it.
MARILEE: You have?
FRANK: Last week, when he was doing Carrie.
CARRIE: Oh, it's something, Marilee. You can't even imagine!
FREEMAN: (enters, poses, arms raised) Gather round, friends. Be at peace, be quiet, and put your minds onto meditation. I am sent to you a living vessel of the power beyond the stars. Look here, Marilee: stretch forth your hand.
MARILEE: (hesitant) My hand? FRANK Go ahead.
CARRIE: He won't hurt you.
(MARILEE puts out her hand, and FREEMAN, majestically, touches fingertips to fingertips. MARILEE gives a little shriek, and giggles)
MARILEE: Oh! It tickles.
CARRIE: Curls you right down to your toes, doesn't it?
FREEMAN: Energy. Just waiting to flow down to you.
MARILEE: This power is something like electricity?
FREEMAN: Can be. If that's the form we use it. It's come before. In the wilderness, when it was sent to the Children of Israel, they called it manna.
OKLEY: That's right. See, if they'd sent the Israelites electricity, what would they have done with it? So it can be food, can be electricity, can be healing or money or gasoline. Frank's beginning to see!
MARILEE: You are?
WOODROW: She's a hard one!
OKLEY: Won't fit with what's in your head before.
CARRIE: If you bring out your Bible, Marilee, the prophet can show you chapter and verse, how it's all been foretold!
MARILEE: I don't think that'd help us much--- do you, Frank?
FRANK: Honey. There's something to this.
FREEMAN: So. How is it you know you're not crazy? When you see the same things your neighbor sees, think the same things. Up till the point where one of you sees something new. Something you knows is real that just won't fit. A whole civilization can be crazy, you know. In fact, study history, you'll see they were, every one of em. Living out a fantasy, a nightmare made real by the neighbors of some nut who told stories out of his head; but told them so well, made it sound so righteous, his neighbors went along with him. To hell, sometimes. To war, mostly.
MARILEE: Are you telling me that I'm crazy, or you are?
FREEMAN: Let's leave you and me out of it, and consider Carrie. Now Carrie is a woman seemed to be happy in her old ways. Singing like an angel in the choir. When she first came to me she didn't want knowlege. My truth would only mess up her head, she thought. What she wanted was for me to use the power to heal her, so that like a natural woman she could bear the fruit of her womb. But even as her womb opened, so has her heart, and her eyes. Carrie, I tell you now that the spirit has entered you, and you have concieved. Do you know this?
CARRIE: Oh, yes. I know it. Last night I had the same dream, and this time the baby held out his arms and let me take him up and hold him.
OKLEY: Hallelujah! (hugs and greetings and congratulations)
FREEMAN: Rejoice. Rejoice and let the power flow, for the spirit is with us tonight. There's no end to miracles. They flow unto the brethren, and even unto the those who are not yet joined with us. As long as they are willing to say in their heart, "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief." Now let us consider Frank. I wouldn't be in any hurry to try to fool a man like Frank, would you? A natural wise man. He's strong and kind and calm: least he was before these tribulations came upon him. Respects his wife. His dog won't whine and hide under the table when he comes in the door. So. What's in your heart, Frank? You think you can believe in us?
FRANK: (nods) I think maybe I can.
FREEMAN: Believe that I've an almighty power.
FRANK: I feel something.
OKLEY: We've all seen it, and felt it.
FREEMAN: Faith like ours, it moves mountains. Doesn't it, Carrie?
CARRIE: Oh yes. Amen.
FREEMAN: All of you are with us, calling it down. Grace, grace be on us, and make us all strong and whole, especially our brother Frank-
CARRIE: There's such a power of faith in this room. All around us, flowing through. I feel the spirit here, just waiting to give miracles abounding--!
FREEMAN: All unworthy, I was made a vessel for the living power, and you can be too--
FRANK: I think we can. If we believe.
FREEMAN: Now, Marilee, you aren't set against this out of self-will, are you? You aren't a daughter of destruction, on the side of Cain and his master Satan?
OKLEY: Course she's not. She's just a little short on faith.
FREEMAN: But you'd like to have faith? Wouldn't you?
CARRIE: Course she would!
MARILEE: Well, I would if--
FREEMAN: Then you will! Faith will be given to you. You won't need to walk in darkness, even to your doubts the light is coming--
CARRIE: It's coming, it is coming.
FREEMAN: -- Don't hold back now, come forth to meet it, a--men (the rest joining in) --there is power of healing in this room now, coming down, coming to us (CARRIE "come o come") -- a--men The lost sheep is found. Join hands now, take hands--
(they join hands, FRANK too,eyes closed, MARILEE stays on the other side of the room near the door.)
FREEMAN: (stretches his hand toward MARILEE) Give us your hand! (CARRIE goes smiling to MARILEE, who allows CARRIE to join her hand to FREEMAN's. Someone is going to be healed, I feel it, (CARRIE "O yes") The mighty hand is reaching down, (CARRIE "reaching down") brushing away the pain and sorrow. (CARRIE "O thank you!) Yes! Give thanks, give thanks and praise, Marilee, that we this day are vouchsafed--! Praise be! (ALL Praise be. Amen!)
FREEMAN: Hallelujah! It is done, the power has won! Give thanks. Be filled with rejoicing. Frank! I say to you, Frank, you are healed. Show forth your salvation! Throw down your cane and walk! Walk, I tell you! (FRANK drops his cane, tests his leg) Dance! Go up to your woman and take her in your arms! (runs) Whirl her like the seraphim in heaven! (FRANK whirls MARILEE in the air, sashays across the room laughing and singing along with FREEMAN. FREEMAN hugs and whirls CARRIE , and then pulls MARILEE away from FRANK and dances around the room with her while the others look on, amazed. )
END OF ACT ONE
THE PROPHET FREEMAN ACT TWO
(music on radio. FRANK turns it up and begins dancing with MARILEE, who is trying to fold diapers)
MARILEE: I've got to finish!
FRANK: Let it wait. (dances) Smooth move, huh? It's all coming back. I can't tell you how I've missed this. Bet you thought I went along dancing just to please you, like the rest of the guys did? Uhuh. I always wanted to dance -- with you. In high school I used to watch you running through those cheer leading routines. You looked so fine. Healthy, happy. I said to myself, I'm going to get in on that. I'm going to learn to dance, so's I can put my arms around her. Move along with her, just the way I want.
MARILEE: Shouldn't you be careful? When you get tired--
FRANK: I don't get tired, Marilee! I'm more than just healed! Haven't felt this good since-- oh, way before the accident. Year I won both 4-H and my letter, year we got engaged. I don't need sleep.
MARILEE: Everybody needs sleep! You mustn't overdo, Frank, you---
FRANK: Those crown things may look silly, but they work, Marilee. You should try one. I can feel the energy poring in. Little nap's all it takes, and I'm raring to go.
MARILEE: You sure are. (kiss)
FRANK: I think we should start another baby. Nellie Ann's a good age, she'd be 2 1/2 by the time it came along.
MARILEE: You know I want to. If my uncle Fred comes through with a loan--
FRANK: Stop worrying! And tell your uncle Fred we don't need his money. You've taken on too much, sweetheart. It'll be all right, now . You can relax and let me lead. (they dance)
FREEMAN'S RECORDED VOICE "Who else remembers? In our blood we know that we are true sons of the earth, brothers to the animals. You see, the Upper Ones may be far above us, but we're not like bacteria, not like bugs to them--"
CARRIE: (enters, calls to FRANK) Frank!
(OKLEY enters behind CARRIE, bringing a helmet which has a tape player or radio in it. FREEMAN's VOICE is playing. As his speech continues, OKLEY fits FRANK with the helmet. WOODROW enters. As soon as the "crown" is adjusted, FRANK takes it off)
VOICE FROM HELMET: " The ancient Egyptians, when they got a message from the upper beings, pictured that as come from a beast. Or a beast head, on a human body. Sure! That's how we are to each other, mixed but not corrupted, and the farmer is the one kind of man who remembers. You tell the financier who runs agribusiness that the cow is sacred, like unto the divine, he thinks you're loony. A cow's just a machine for turning grass into milk. Not even grass anymore. Silage. Wood pulp. The ground up brains and guts of other cows, and pigs, and sheep, putrid with the disease of forced cannibalism --"
OKLEY: (adjusting so part of speech fades out and in) That's setting one. Setting two is the Cosmic, and three is telepathy. They all working?
VOICE: (trails off as FRANK changes the setting) -- only a man who remembers can fight them. The farmer's a man of peace, until he is pushed off the land and cut off from beasts and from God. Then angels are ranged at his side. The meek can't just lay down and expect to inherit the earth. Not any more. Not at this time of crisis. For the sake of all creation, we got to study war.....
FRANK: (taking it off) Seems as if it is.
WOODROW: Why are you taking it off, then.
FRANK: Got some chores to do.
WOODROW: If you haven't heard this, you ought to. Explains how the Sons of Cain link up in their planning. They got the money, they got the firepower. Got the sheriff and the law.
OKLEY: But if we pull together, we can field an irresistible force.
FRANK: Force like magnetism, or force like an army? The Star says you got a army.
WOODROW: Where'd you get that?
FRANK: (shows him) Right here. Issue of May 26th.
WOODROW: (laughs) Why would the Prophet want a army? Jackbooted bullies, marching in step to wipe out what they can't understand. Flying in on their black helicopters, loaded with plague--
OKLEY: All the prophet needs is some temporary protection.
WOODROW: Given to him by free men.
OKLEY: And he's going to get it! Once everybody wakes up to realize what we stand for!
CARRIE: We're the Promised Land, Frank. Flowing milk and honey. The power is going to purify the soil, cast out all those years of chemicals, and then like my womb it will bring forth plenty.
WOODROW: Not the cities, they're under the sign of the Great Whore of Babylon. But here we're inheritors of the Covenant.
OKLEY: And it's happening on our land, Frank. Yours and mine.
CARRIE: The latitude and longitude.
OKLEY: We lay it out, see? A massive natural transducer. By the time the storm troopers figure out what's going on, we'll have enough men to defend ourselves.
FRANK: Men like who?
OKLEY: (nods) Neighbors. They'll come. Michigan, Colorado, they'll join us, too.
WOODROW: The bosses who own the factories and chemical plants, they're scared. Them troopers, too. They're shaking in their jackboots.
CARRIE: There's more coming in every day, Frank. We're growing.
FRANK: How many?
WOODROW: That's classified information.
SCENE SIXTEEN Bugle office
MARILEE: I can't write anything, now! You don't understand. Tuesday some man I'd never seen before came to my kitchen door and told me the Prophet and his people won't take kindly to being misrepresented.
SARAMAE: But I thought you said he liked you.
MARILEE: I think he does. But -- the Prophet is so strong against the media, as they call it. You and me and the Bugle, we're "media"! They say, "the word is not in the word". Whatever that means.
SARAMAE: I had the impression you'd got in thick with them. Hasn't the Prophet been staying out at your house?
MARILEE: He has. But I haven't really seen him. It's location. Our place and the Wheelers' are on some kind of force lines, Carrie says. That's why the prophet comes there. To get inspired, on in contact, or some such thing. But he doesn't visit.
SARAMAE: What does he do?
MARILEE: He comes with his -- people, his deacons they call them, and he goes into the back bedroom and stays there maybe an hour till he leaves again. (pause) Maybe Brad could write something--
SARAMAE: Brad's quit. Moved to Cleveland.
MARILEE: Since when?
SARAMAE: Since you been mooning around the Messiah, out there.
MARILEE: How will you manage?
SARAMAE: Sam and I wrote the whole paper, when we started out twenty-six years ago. I can do it again. Hope you'll keep your column coming. Can you do that?
MARILEE: I don't know. I don't get to league or garden club any more. Library's closed except Mondays. Where'll I hear-- ?
SARAMAE: From your mother. Or make it all up, if you have to. Circulation goes down any more I may try to throw in with the Lucas Gazette,'s hurting almost as bad as we are. Or maybe you can talk to the Prophet, see if he'd like to take me over. The Moonies have a paper.
MARILEE: Like I said, prophet doesn't believe in publicity. You should hear him on about television! Freeman says if Jesus came back and heard Jimmy Swaggart preaching the old ladies out of their pensions in his name, he'd slink off to hell for pure embarrassment.
SARAMAE: So how's Freeman different? Where's his money come from?
MARILEE: I wish I knew.
SARAMAE: His followers sell up their goods? Tithe? Beg in the street? Run dope, like the Hari Krishnas?
MARILEE: Not that I can see.
SARAMAE: Freeman's hired out the Grange, bought trucks. All sorts of stuff is shipped in, electronics, Walter's complaining down at the Post Office. Can't all that much come in off the plate.
MARILEE: He doesn't take up a collection.
SARAMAE: So where's it come from? I sure would like to know. Anyways, you keep your eyes open. I know you can't write anything now, but if the time comes--.
MARILEE: You're so certain he's a fraud?
SARAMAE: O, well, you can't go by me. I'm an old-fashioned cracker-barrel skeptic. If fourteen angels flew in here and pointed out the escalator to heaven, and all I had to do was step on to ride up, just waving as I went on by, I'd say, "Angels? I don't see any angels". And get on with my work.
( FRANK and OKLEY are assembling a piece of electronic equipment. Wires, boards and mysterious parts are spread all over)
OKLEY: Frank? I'm supposed to attach this to something labeled 132b. Frank! Wake up.
FRANK: Just resting my eyes. This crown gives me a headache.
OKLEY: Me too. You got anything labeled 132B?
FRANK: I don't think so. Nope.
OKLEY: Me neither. Last number I can find is 94E.
FRANK: I'm not surprised.
OKLEY: What've you got?
FRANK: Damned if I know.
OKLEY: I think these directions are in Japanese. Where's Freeman?
FRANK: He should be here soon. He said he was going to lead us in a meditation to get our strength back.
OKLEY: Bet you even money he broadcasts a tape instead. Carrie! (bangs on door) Carrie!
CARRIE: (off) Coming. (enters) What now?
OKLEY: Is the Prophet in there?
CARRIE: He's meditating.
OKLEY: Would you see if you can get him out here?
CARRIE: I don't know. When he meditates, sometimes he's in contact. It'd be dangerous to break in on it.
OKLEY: Never mind, I'll get him myself-- (begins to untangle himself from the gear)
CARRIE: No! I'll go. If it's important.
FRANK: We're stuck, here.
CARRIE: You were stuck an hour ago. You lose a sheet of directions?
FRANK: We got em all, now. Still no good. We got to talk to Woodrow, or one of the engineers. If we could phone up-- (front doorbell rings)
OKLEY: You expecting anybody?
FRANK: Nope. But Roger won't let anybody up the driveway unless they're cleared. (ring)
CARRIE: I'll get it.
OKLEY: Once we get this put together, we're supposed to hook it up?
FRANK: It doesn't say. Look at this: do you understand this?
OKLEY: Hell no-- you're the one can read the diagrams.
WOODROW: (enters) Afternoon, Frank. Okley.
FRANK: You come over to give us a hand?
WOODROW: Sorry. Not my line of work.
OKLEY: But you told me about that electronic target-gizmo.
WOODROW: My brother built that. All I had to do was hook up the batteries.
FRANK: Your brother. He live anywhere round here?
OKLEY: Guess he can't run right over here and translate this into English.
WOODROW: Not for another two years. Unless the governor commutes him. You want to point me to the gray box where this key fits the padlock? I come for some supplies.
FRANK: (gets flashlight) Down the cellar, left of the stairs, behind the canned goods. I'll take you down--
WOODROW: That's all right. You stay here.
FRANK: (gives flashlight to him) You'll need the flashlight.
WOODROW: (exits to cellar) Thanks.
OKLEY: But no thanks.
FRANK: Back to the battle plan.
OKLEY: We're fine up to 94E.
CARRIE: The prophet says to bring him the problem, he's got an expert on the phone. Who's going to talk to him?
OKLEY: Can you wake up enough, or do you want me to?
FRANK: You better. (Okley exits)
CARRIE: (holds out robe) Can you hold this for a minute?
FRANK: My hands are dirty.
CARRIE: (drapes it across FRANK's wrists) It's OK. Just don't touch the material.
FRANK: Like this? (WOODROW comes up from the cellar, carrying heavy objects wrapped in sacking.)
FRANK: (to WOODROW) Find what you were looking for?
WOODROW: Yeah. Real beauties.
CARRIE: Shouldn't you and Okley be wearing your soul crowns, Frank?
FRANK: I don't know. Ask the Prophet. (OKLEY returns) What do we do next?
OKLEY: For now, leave off and go down to here and build this part.
FRANK: But why?
OKLEY: Because the prophet says the first priority is to secure the perimeter. The main transducer has to wait until we come up with some necessary funds.
WOODROW: That's what I've come to talk to the Prophet about. Fundraising.
FREEMAN: (enters) Glad to hear that, son. I got my earth, air and water: now comes my fire, my son of thunder. So, Frank: what you got so far, it's time to test it out, before you take it out to the pasture and hook it up.
FRANK: (doubtful) O.K.
MARILEE: (at door, carrying groceries) Somebody open the door for me?
FREEMAN: (does, gallantly) A pleasure.
MARILEE: Thanks. What's going on here?
FRANK: We're building the transducer.
MARILEE: In my kitchen?
OKLEY: Only just this unit. Soon's we got it assembled, we'll move it on out.
MARILEE: I've got work to do, and I can't even get to the cupboard. This place is Grand Central station.
CARRIE: How would you know? You never been there.
OKLEY: Pay no attention to us. Cept-- watch out! We're cosmic charged. One touch and you're fried! (reaches a hand to her bottom, there's a "buzz", MARILEE jumps and screams. FRANK tackles OKLEY, who buzzes him,too, laughing wildly.) Cosmic zap, Frankie! You're done for! (FRANK twists his arm, forcing OKLEY to show the buzz device) Ouch; it's a buzzer, you fool, didn't you ever see one? It's a joke.
MARILEE: Very funny. It's a miracle we haven't woken up Nelly Ann.
FRANK: Someday somebody'll break your neck.
MARILEE: Not today, I guess. How many'll be here to eat?
FRANK: Woodrow? You staying?
WOODROW: I've got some business. Don't know when I'll be back.
FRANK: Prophet? How many of us'll there be for dinner?
CARRIE: You'll all be working in the pasture till near dark.
FRANK: Too late for Carrie and Oke to go home and cook.
MARILEE: So you want a late dinner, for three extra.
CARRIE: Four if Woodrow gets back.
OKLEY: Six with Roger and Herb.
FREEMAN: Never mind Roger.
WOODROW: Herb's going with me, but he's not coming back.
OKLEY: But Roger said--
FREEMAN: Whatever Roger said, he won't be coming.
MARILEE: So four extra.
WOODROW: (exits with gear) Much obliged.
FREEMAN: I appreciate this, Marilee. I know it's not easy, having us underfoot. Top of that, looks like we're eating you out of house and home.
MARILEE: If you don't mind chicken stew again, I don't mind cooking.
FREEMAN: This bread that you cast upon the waters shall be returned unto you sevenfold-- yea, seventy times seven.
MARILEE: That's all very well about bread, prophet, but when's Frank going to get some rest? Look at him, he's asleep in the chair, there.
OKLEY: (shakes FRANK ) Pass the solder, will you?
FRANK: Here. (pushes the can towards Okley, but his aim is erratic and the solder falls on the floor.)
OKLEY: Goddammit Frank, watch what you're doing!
CARRIE: You don't have to cuss. Front of the Prophet.
FREEMAN: (to Marilee) One of the gifts of the spirit is a state of meditation so perfect that it restores all the body's strength, purges it of toxins.
MARILEE: Frank doesn't look purged to me.
FREEMAN: I'll take that under advisement. Frank. Okley. Pause in what you're doing and I'll put on a meditation. Wear your crowns and close your eyes.
OKLEY: We've almost got this figured.
FRANK: Ten minutes.
FREEMAN: It'll go faster once you've drained out your poisons. I'll start it right up. Sit back and relax. Carrie, Marilee, join me in the parlor.
(FREEMAN and CARRIE exit. MARILEE starts for the cellar door)
MARILEE: Be with you in a minute.
OKLEY: Where you going?
MARILEE: I'm taking the paint remover down the cellar.
FRANK: I'll do it.
MARILEE: Save your strength.
FRANK: But the bulb's out. You don't want to hurt yourself. Oke and me've been stashing parts and stuff, you might trip over the boxes. In the dark.
MARILEE: I can put in a light bulb.
FRANK: I'll do it.
OKLEY: I'll help.
MARILEE: This a joke? How many Tibbets does it take to screw in a light bulb?!
FRANK: One. So you stay here. (takes can from MARILEE, exits)
MARILEE: (to OKE) What’re you staring at? You never see us make fools of ourselves before? ( a loud crash from the cellar.)
FRANK: (off) Damnation!
OKLEY: You all right? FRANK (off) I'm fine. I'm just great! Keep her up there!
OKLEY: (holds her at door) Marilee.
MARILEE: Of all the silliness-- (looking with flashlight) Frank, what is all this?
FRANK: (limps up) Equipment.
MARILEE: (noticing) Your leg!
FRANK: I'm fine! Forget about it!
MARILEE: So, what's all that "equipment" for?
FRANK: Forget about that, too!
OKLEY: For the transducer.
MARILEE: My God, how big is it going to be?
MARILEE: In my kitchen?
FRANK: It's my kitchen too, isn't it? This is something we have to do.
MARILEE: How long is this going to go on?
FRANK: Two days.
OKLEY: (at the same time) Three months.
MARILEE: Which is it?
OKLEY: We'll have this load of stuff out of your kitchen by late afternoon, Marilee. But all that's in the cellar, that's different projects, going on at different times.
FRANK: So you mustn't go down there.
MARILEE: You mean like it'll break down or blow up or something if I get near it?
MARILEE: Funny. It didn't when you crashed into it just now.
OKLEY: You know the way it feels when the Prophet hits you with a jolt of his cosmic energy, don't ya? Well, in this thing he's got stored, it's sort of a battery-- We ought to put up a sign, "danger, high voltage".
MARILEE: I don't believe you.
OKLEY: (exaggerated fear) My God, she's guessed! Swear you won't tell, Marilee. Never breathe a word about them bodies.
MARILEE: Bodies? (he nods) Dead bodies?
OKLEY: Dead as they can get. Mummies. One or two may be daddies--
MARILEE: (swats him with dish towel) You cut that out!
OKLEY: Your husband asked you nice, now, not to poke around down cellar. That such a big favor?
MARILEE: If it was just us, Frank--. Frank, your leg! You're limping again!
FRANK: I banged it.
MARILEE: But you're healed.
FRANK: That's right. I banged it, that's all. It'll get better.
MARILEE: What if you need another miracle?
CARRIE: (enters, picks up Psychic Crowns ) Why aren't you two tuned in? The Prophet's waiting.
OKLEY: (holds out Crown for FRANK) Getting right to it. (OKLEY and FRANK sit with closed eyes, completely absorbed in the voice that is coming through the Crowns and from a speaker in the room)
FREEMAN'S VOICE: (slowly, leading to trance) My friends, brothers and sisters in the light, this is the holy time....
CARRIE: Marilee? The prophet's expecting you.
MARILEE: Unless he's planning to repeat the loaves and the fishes, I've got to start on dinner.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: to be together and quiet your hearts.
CARRIE: It's not a good idea to keep him waiting.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: Let your spirits soar and be still, floating away from the bustle of the world
MARILEE: You go on in. I'll join you, soon as I can. Ask the prophet can he pray over Frank's leg.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: ......from all the daily round that wears you down (Carrie exits. MARILEE dials the phone. Lights come up on SARAMAE 's desk phone)
FREEMAN'S VOICE: ... and let the peace which you can imagine as a golden light streaming to you from on high enter and calm you, enter and fill you now. A-men.
MARILEE: Saramae, I can't talk, but I think there's a big story in my cellar. They've got electronics, and guns, and a wooden box big as grandma's trunk, full of hundred dollar bills!-- (straining as if to hear a noise she hangs up, slams the meat in the refrigerator, and runs towards the parlor. the hypnotic speech of the Prophet continues under the on-stage action of the next scene)
SCENE EIGHTEEN (CARRIE is basting trim on a pale blue robe)
FREEMAN'S VOICE: This is the peace that passes understanding, this is the life-flow that emanates from the crystal heavens, yea, even to all corners of the universe. Amen.
MARILEE: (indicates sewing) This sacred stuff too?
CARRIE: My robe.
MARILEE: Everybody's going to wear robes, now? Silly hats aren't enough?
FREEMAN'S VOICE: ...Wherever it enters the spirit is lifted, is light, so even now your weariness and sin is dropping away and gladness fills you, gladness fills your soul. A-
CARRIE: Not everybody. Just the special ones. You may be one, too. Have you been looking for the signs?
MARILEE: Signs!? (pause) I don't want to argue. He healed Frank, and I'm grateful.
CARRIE: There's spiritual exercises make your body like transparent, to the light. The crown does it, too. Lightens your spirit till you're almost glowing.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: ... Blessing falls on you, blessing pours over you like healing waters, like sweet white apple blossoms from the tree of life, clean and pure, clean and pure...
MARILEE: Seems to work for you. You look like a girl again.
CARRIE: I do, don't I? I was getting so old, Marilee. Ready to shrivel up and blow away.
MARILEE: You're thirty -what?
CARRIE: Sarah was ninety!
FREEMAN'S VOICE: ..Gently, gently settling over you, light and healing.
MARILEE: Sarah who? (FREEMAN enters)
CARRIE: Abraham's Sarah.
MARILEE: You can't expect me to know!
CARRIE: You always were such a heathen.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: Your spirit is strong now, strong as a leopard, but peaceful and rested, rested and set free. You can work perfectly now, you will wake and do miracles. Wake, children. Wake.
MARILEE: You weren't always such a saint yourself. If I ever wanted to blackmail you for the times I told your mom you were sleeping over to my house--
CARRIE: Okley and I got married!
MARILEE: You didn't marry Tom Niehouse, or Dwayne Macfee!
CARRIE: They weren't serious! (At FREEMAN's "Wake", OKLEY and FRANK stir, open their eyes, and begin to work on the electronic equipment again.)
MARILEE: Neither were you! You remember the time you put on a wig and about ten pounds of make-up and we had Okley believing you were your cousin Allie from Sioux Falls?
(FREEMAN laughs, and the women notice him)
CARRIE: (smiling shyly at FREEMAN) Okley almost broke up with me.
MARILEE: Which is so unfair, all the tricks he's pulled!
FREEMAN: (admiring CARRIE's work on the robe) "We will make thee borders of gold, with studs of silver." Why don't you put it on?
CARRIE: I don't know---
FREEMAN: "O dove that art in the clefts of the rock, thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies."
CARRIE: (exits with robe) Wait right here.
MARILEE: What is all this? Playing dress-up?
FREEMAN: (charming, confides--) One time the sons of God came down, and lay with the daughters of men, seeing that they were exceeding fair. So's they could take up habitation. And then at that time there were giants in the earth! But that particular experiment didn't work out too well, so's they left us alone for awhile.....
OKLEY: (in other room) You got the needle nose?
FREEMAN: ...Eon or two. But then the Word takes on flesh. That's a difficult concept.
MARILEE: That's Jesus. But you said you're not.
FREEMAN How could I be? He's still around!
FRANK: (hands pliers) Here.
FREEMAN: Your composite can be said to die with the host body. But the born ones, the pures, they can move between the planes. See, I'm in contact with Jesus the Christ. Can't say he's the most impressive of the bunch, but he's about the most lovable. Him and the Buddha. No wonder Mary Magdalen and those other gals were falling all over themselves to be his brides.
MARILEE: They were? Brides?
FREEMAN: Wanted to. But if you consider your hybrid, it's like a cross between a horse and a donkey. Sterile as a mule. Most of them don't mate, don't see the point to it. Now, the Upper Ones, they've tried all sorts of experiments. In the nunneries--
MARILEE: With nuns?
FREEMAN: (nods) Brides of Christ. But it was no protection. The priests burnt em. Same thing with the incubi. Set the schedule back to the millennium. See, one voice like me in the wilderness is not sufficient. Rattling round in this decrepit human skin--
(enter CARRIE, in her robe. OKLEY cuts his hand on one of the tools, and the reaction to this runs simultaneously with the CARRIE scene dialog)
FRANK: What's the matter?
OKLEY: Cut myself.
FREEMAN: There: " threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. But my dove is the choice one, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners!"
CARRIE: "My beloved is white and ruddy. His cheeks are as a -- as a --
FREEMAN: "..bed of spices, "
FRANK: Looks nasty. I'll get the kit.
OKLEY: It's nothing.
FRANK: Only take a minute.
CARRIE: "Dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. His--"
FREEMAN: His legs--
CARRIE: "His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold. His countenance--"
MARILEE: (laughing uncontrollably) Ah...sorry! But "sockets!"
CARRIE: (giggles) Like for light bulbs!
MARILEE: How many brides does it take to screw in --? (laughter)
FREEMAN: I thought you were a Seeker. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe you'll be at home in the land of Mammon. Your heart will leap up and call it "freedom", when this farm is sold and paved over. A condo in Chicago, fancy clothes, sleeping with strangers--
FRANK: Can't seem to find the kit.
OKLEY: Just let it go. Only a scratch.
FRANK: (moves toward the door) Marilee must have moved it. (knocks, calls) Marilee!
OKLEY: Forget it.
FRANK: You could get blood poisoning.
MARILEE: (at door) Frank?
OKLEY: Never mind, I said!
FRANK: (to MARILEE) Never mind. (FRANK and OKLEY resume work)
OKLEY: It gets infected, the prophet'll take care of it.
CARRIE: (recovers, takes FREEMAN's hand) "His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. Yea, This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
(CARRIE and FREEMAN look at MARILEE, challenging)
MARILEE: (dumbfounded) What do you want me to say?
FREEMAN: The same as Carrie.
MARILEE: (laughs) Me? I'd never keep my face straight!
CARRIE: Your doubt and derision: that's what's keeping Frank crippled.
MARILEE: He had a ripped tendon--
CARRIE: And why's it coming back? You see, the joke's on you! You're the one's really crippled, afraid to let yourself see or feel the thing that could change your life.
FREEMAN: Change the whole world.
CARRIE: Come on, can't you just say the words?
(CARRIE puts her outer robe over MARILEE's shoulders, and her PPC on MARILEE's head. They seat MARILEE, and CARRIE places her hands on MARILEE's shoulders. FREEMAN reaches up heavenward with one hand and takes MARILEE's hand in his other)
FREEMAN: Now, feel the power flowing through you as you say: "My beloved."
MARILEE: But I don't believe--
CARRIE: Neither did I, at first. I felt like a perfect fool. But you say it, and you'll see. Close your eyes now. "My beloved is white and ruddy--"
MARILEE: (eyes closed) "White and ruddy."
CARRIE "His head is as the most fine gold."
MARILEE: "-- head is as the most fine gold." (loud pounding on the front door) Who's that?
Let me go, will you? So I can get the door? (takes off robe and Crown as she goes. CARRIE follows MARILEE to the kitchen, FREEMAN hesitates)
FRANK: (at door) Woodrow?
WOODROW: (off) Get the Prophet.
MARILEE: He's in here. (WOODROW staggers in, bleeding from his shoulder)
CARRIE: Woodrow, what have you done?
WOODROW: Prophet, you got to heal me. (FREEMAN crosses to him)
MARILEE: What happened?
CARRIE: (picks up the phone) Looks like a gunshot wound. I'll call for an ambulance.)
WOODROW: No! No ambulance. The prophet will fix me up.
OKLEY: (takes phone from CARRIE) Did anyone recognize you?
WOODROW: Hell, yes.
OKLEY: I'd better call Herb.
WOODROW: (grabs phone away from OKLEY) No! You want every fucking cop in the county? Shit, this hurts.
OKLEY: We can't just sit here and wait for the storm troops. We get Herb, Herb'll muster the militia--- (FREEMAN goes to CARRIE's sewing basket, gets a clean cloth)
WOODROW: I got Herb. Called him from my truck. Shit! Somebody's got to get to my truck, quick. Bring my gear in and then drive it out of sight. Any room in the barn?
CARRIE: (picks up shotgun, tucks up her under robe) I'll do it..
WOODROW: If there's no room, you'll have to ditch it in the quarry. Need a car and two drivers. Prophet-? Shit!
FREEMAN: (examining shoulder wound) Hold still.
WOODROW: That hurt.
FREEMAN: Hand me Carrie's needle, there, Marilee. Got thread on it?
MARILEE: About a foot.
FREEMAN: (takes it) That'll do.
WOODROW: You going to sew me? Why don't you heal it?
FREEMAN: You're not in any mood for a healing, Woodrow. Hold on. Okley, you and Frank go down and bring up a couple of duffel bags from the cellar. Marilee, you got cotton and alcohol?
WOODROW: Now wait a minute. I brought you what you wanted! You owe me.
FREEMAN: Son, that's not how grace works. You got the faith?
WOODROW: Sure I do!
FREEMAN: No, sir. Wrong. Or you wouldn't have this. I can take care of this in a worldly way, for the time being. But you'd better get your spirit under control. Not act like some criminal. (indicates wound, stitching it)
WOODROW: I'm not a criminal. No more. I'm not going back to prison, not for doing for you!
FREEMAN: Greater love hath no man.
WOODROW: Carrie? Did she get my stuff? Gym bag, suitcase, two guns in the back and one under the driver's seat--
FREEMAN: Calm down, Woodrow.
WOODROW: You promised there'd be no problems.
FREEMAN: If you followed the plan. And kept your head right. But you were thinking in the old way, weren't you? The sheriff must have smelled you. Smelled your greed, and your fear. His nose is going lead him here.
MARILEE: (looking out) They're coming now. No, wait; it’s not a squad car.
WOODROW: Well, who the hell is it?
MARILEE: I think it's Saramae.
WOODROW: Saramae who? One of us?
MARILEE: Mrs. Mollenhauer's my boss. My editor. On the Bugle.
WOODROW: Holy shit.
MARILEE: She won't stay. (doorbell rings)
WOODROW: I'll have to hide. Prophet?
MARILEE: (at cellar) Down the cellar?
WOODROW: (takes gun to next room) In here. Where I can listen to you get rid of her. (doorbell)
MARILEE: (at door, calls) Saramae. I'm in the kitchen.
WOODROW: Get rid of her.
SARAMAE: (enters) Marilee? Where are they all?
SARAMAE: The Freeman Men. Alienites. Whatever they're called.
MARILEE: Frank and Okley and Carrie are out to the pasture. I expect them all back here for dinner. The Prophet himself was here earlier--
SARAMAE: You mean I missed him?
MARILEE: He might be back. So I don't think you should be here. He doesn't like strangers.
SARAMAE: I bet. OK, so quick show me the stuff in the basement.
MARILEE: There isn't any. That was a mistake.
SARAMAE: But you said --
MARILEE: It's nothing! I imagined it. All's down in the cellar is electronics. Frank's building some kind of a whatsis, to pull in a message from space.
SARAMAE: You poor thing. Well, since I've come all this ways you better show it to me.
MARILEE: There's nothing to see. It's been moved to the pasture.
SARAMAE: No guns?
MARILEE: Never was.
SARAMAE: Funny thing. Cause the sheriff's looking for some cult people cleaned out the National Guard two weeks ago. Today they held up a Brink's.
MARILEE: Not our people! You know Frank. Can you imagine him going in with something like that?
SARAMAE: Easier than a flying saucer! Well, maybe not. But how many of them've you seen? See a big burly fella, wears a lot of turquoise jewelry? Belt buckle, bracelets? Got a beard with a white streak through it.
MARILEE: No, nobody like that.
SARAMAE: Marilee Tibbets, you are a terrible liar.
MARILEE: I don't know what you mean.
(CARRIE enters, carrying Shotgun, suitcase and gym bag)
CARRIE: They're coming up the drive. Prophet?
FREEMAN: (emerges, takes CARRIE's gear.) Right here, child.
MARILEE: This is my editor, Saramae Mollenhauer.
FREEMAN: (puts down gear, takes SARAMAE's hand) Pleased to meet you, Ma'am.
FREEMAN: Marilee speaks highly of you.
SARAMAE: Of you, too.
FRANK: (enters with duffel bags, checks windows) They're out there, parked. Talking.
SARAMAE: I take it this is not a good time for an interview.
FREEMAN: Time's all the same to me. For some who are tried and found wanting, time's pretty near run out.
SARAMAE: This is some kind of a test?
FREEMAN: You see, you can't send anybody to hell without going there yourself. Even in the cause of righteousness, even to punish evil, or put an end to suffering. Bible says Jesus went to hell, right after he was crucified. Can't hardly blame him, that was a mighty injustice, and a cruel pain. But Jesus only stayed three days. If you pass through hell on your way to death, you may keep right on, unto eternal life.
SARAMAE: Fella shot the deputy- he one of the righteous? (FREEMAN chuckles)
FRANK: What's she talking about?
OKLEY: Shut up.
SARAMAE: Anybody who knows where he is better turn him in. Otherwise you're accessories.
FRANK: Carrie, didn't you say--?-- ow! (OKLEY kicks him)
OKLEY: Shut up!
SARAMAE: Well, if nobody wants to talk to me, guess I'll go back to town.
WOODROW: (enters, with gun) I don't think you better do that.
OKLEY: Son of a bitch.
WOODROW: I think we need ourselves a hostage.
FREEMAN: Children, are you ready to be persecuted for my sake? Comes the time of testing.
SARAMAE: The sheriff knows I'm here. He tried to stop me coming out to investigate.
OKLEY: For once you could tell the truth. Tell the people we got them back their money. Punished the loan sharks, the liars and false witnesses--
SARAMAE: What about the deputy? What was he punished for?
CARRIE: What are they doing out there, Frank?
FRANK: Nothing. They're all behind some kind of cover, looking down their guns.
MARILEE: Carrie, if Woodrow's shot somebody--
WOODROW: I'm not surrendering.
OKLEY: This is the Kingdom! We've got to finish the transducer, prepare for the landing!
FREEMAN: Can you stand against ten thousand, children?
CARRIE: If you're with us.
FREEMAN: I'm with you always. Whenever two or three are gathered in my name.
OKLEY: They'll have tear gas. First thing to do is close the shutters. Carrie-- (CARRIE goes to close shutters) Start loading some more weapons, as many as--
MARILEE: You can't mean to fight them!
FRANK: Come on, Marilee. Help me---. (the phone rings)
MARILEE: Should I answer?
SARAMAE: At least find out what they want.
MARILEE: Hello? Yes, she's here. Saramae. (gives her phone)
SARAMAE: Yes, I'm here. Plus there's two women and a baby. Well, we've been talking about that, sheriff. Maybe if they knew exactly what you have to offer --
FREEMAN: (rips out the phone) No more words! Satan has set his snare, and only the purest act will escape his toils. You see out there the naked power that hides behind words. They've prepared their trap, fed the media tomorrow's headlines. Their way labels people criminals and fools, fit to be put in a cage for the rest of your lives. Or you can choose the Eternal. The martyr's crown of glory--
SARAMAE: Don't any of you have common sense any more?
WOODROW: Me? Lady, what have I got to lose?
FREEMAN: Remember, the threat is only to your mortal part. J. Freeman's got a mortal part, too -- and it may be that he'll have to shed it here with you. Or maybe the Upper Ones, if it is their will, shall take this cup from me, snatch me up and suffer me to live out my fullness of years, on this plane or on another. Whatever happens, if your faith is firm, I will come again. Greet you at the gate of paradise, or join you behind bars--
LOUDSPEAKER: Tibbets, Wheeler. Pick up the phone, please. All we want is to talk to you.
OKLEY: (hurls the phone out the window) Sorry. Wrong number.. (FREEMAN exits)
LOUDSPEAKER: Wheeler? There's no reason for anybody to get hurt. We know the women weren't involved. Why don't you send Tibbet's little girl out, with the women? Nice and easy, maybe explain to us--
CARRIE: Go to hell! This is a free country, we've seceded, so your phony laws don't apply!
MARILEE: Carrie! Frank, Nellie Ann's so young. I want her to grow up.
FRANK: Without a father? Everybody telling her her dad was a criminal? What kind of a life is that?
MARILEE: It's better than nothing.
FRANK: Not to me. If you think like that, you should go on out. Probably they won't charge you--
MARILEE: What if Saramae went? Took Nellie Ann?
WOODROW: Oh, no. Saramae stays. You all stay. United we stand.
SARAMAE: (to OKLEY) What do you say about it? Don't you care about your wife and baby?
OKLEY: We aren't alone. All over this country, the sons of Freeman are rising up in arms, taking back what's ours from the sons of Cain. If we can stand them off for a few hours, reinforcements are on the way. By tomorrow there'll be thousands--!
SARAMAE: Sure there will. Come on over neighbor, join the shoot out.
LOUDSPEAKER: Send somebody out to talk this over, Why don't you? Mrs. Tibbets. Or Mrs. Mollenhauer.
WOODROW: How many guns have we got?
OKLEY: Plenty. Guns aren't the problem.
WOODROW: There's not enough of us. Prophet!
CARRIE: I can shoot.
FREEMAN'S RECORDED VOICE: "When you think about it, friends, you'll recognize that people haven't always thought of the divine as a kind of big boss, with a petty personality and a set of piss ant rules..."
MARILEE: Carrie, you've got to talk them out of this.
CARRIE: If the Prophet wants it, we've got to take a stand.
MARILEE: Why would he want us all dead?
CARRIE: We've got to trust in him.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: "Always ready to fire you, or to pass out a fat bonus. The ancient Egyptians, when they got a message from the upper beings, pictured that as come from a beast...."
SARAMAE: Tell him to call his saucer. Fly you all out of here.
OKLEY: Maybe he will.
FRANK: If we prove our faith.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: "Or a beast head, on a human body. Sure! That's how we are to each other, mixed but not corrupted, and the farmer is the one kind of man who still remembers. "
MARILEE: Look at how you're standing, Frank. Look at your leg. Ask the Prophet how much more faith it takes to undo bullets. Better yet-- where is he? I want to ask him myself.
FRANK: He must be meditating. (exits)
FREEMAN'S VOICE: "You tell the financier who runs agribusiness that the cow is sacred, like unto the divine, he thinks you're loony. A cow's just a machine for turning grass into milk....”
CARRIE: God required it of Abraham, that he kill even Isaac his son.
LOUDSPEAKER: We've been about as patient as we ought to be. You tell that prophet of yours that unless somebody comes out real slow to talk to us, in about two minutes we're going to use the tear gas. It's supposed to be the kind's OK to use on kids, but you can never be sure.
OKLEY: And His legions slew the Canaanites in their thousands.
WOODROW: What's keeping him? Prophet!
FRANK: (off) I don't see him down here. Prophet!
FREEMAN'S VOICE: "Not even grass anymore. Silage. Wood pulp. The ground up brains and guts of other cows, and pigs, and sheep, putrid with the disease of forced cannibalism --"
MARILEE: Maybe we didn't see him come up. I'll look in the bedrooms-
WOODROW: (motions with gun) You stay here. Okley, you go.
SARAMAE: I bet he's run out on you.
CARRIE: He's here! I know he's here. I can feel him!
FRANK: (returns) He's nowhere down there.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: "-- only a man who remembers can fight them. The farmer's a man of peace, until he is pushed off the land and cut off from beasts and from God. Then angels are ranged at his side."
WOODROW: The money's gone too, isn't it?
FRANK: Let me check. (goes back downstairs)
OKLEY: He's not upstairs.
WOODROW: (laughs) Well, it's a cruel world, isn't it? Not like the kingdom come?
FRANK: (returns with suitcase, bag) This what you meant?
FREEMAN'S VOICE: "..The meek can't just lay down and expect to inherit the earth. Not any more. Not at this time of crisis. For the sake of all creation, we got to study war, study it better than God's enemies....."
WOODROW: Open em. (FRANK opens them. Both are filled with greenbacks) I'll take charge of this. (WOODROW motions Frank away )
OKLEY: But if the prophet's gone--
WOODROW: Okley, I'd be obliged for the keys to your truck.
OKLEY: My truck?
WOODROW: They got a description of mine.
LOUDSPEAKER: "This is your last warning. You have sixty seconds to surrender.
FREEMAN'S VOICE: "Because we are on the watchtower. The whole universe is waiting for us to pass over, pass out of our greed and our selfishness...."
OKLEY: Uh--sure. (gives keys)
WOODROW: (rips out FREEMAN's speaker) Shut up, you lying turd! (to SARAMAE) Missus, you come along with me.
FRANK: You can't do that. Just take the money.
WOODROW: (waves gun) Move on out of the way.
SARAMAE: I'm not going with you.
WOODROW: I told you, I got nothing to lose.
SARAMAE: Well, I got my pride. Today's just not a day I'm willing to go with you.
MARILEE: I'll go. If you got to take somebody.
MARILEE: I feel like it's my fault. I got her into this.
SARAMAE: Wait a minute: I changed my mind. Story of a lifetime!
LOUDSPEAKER: Time's up. Here we go.
WOODROW: (to MARILEE) OK, you want to be a hero, come on! You carry the suitcase. (motions MARILEE toward the door. A tear gas shell breaks a window and begins releasing gas.)
FRANK: Let go! (FRANK attacks WOODROW, pushing Marilee out of the way as he charges. Marilee heads for the baby's room, yelling..)
MARILEE: Nellie Ann! (The suitcase bursts open, and bills spill out.
WOODROW: fires at FRANK to stop his charge. NELLIE ANN begins to cry. Return fire comes from the officers outside)
WOODROW: Damn fools! (FRANK falls, hit in the leg.
WOODROW: runs out grabbing up the suitcase as he goes. We hear gunfire, shouts and curses, the truck driving off. MARILEE returns with her crying baby, and looks at Frank )
SARAMAE: (runs to the window) Don't shoot! For God's sakes, don't shoot.
CARRIE: (kneels beside FRANK) We'll be all right, Marilee. The Prophet will descend in a cloud of glory and take us up with him, out of all this to Eternity. You'll see. You'll see.
SLOW FADE - CURTAIN