DELUSION – Play by Robert Patrick and Billy Houck

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[a richly-illustrated version of this play is available from rbrtptrck@aol.com]

“DELUSION”

an adaptation for the stage of an original screenplay

by

Robert Patrick

Adapted with

Billy Houck

c 2004

ROBERT PATRICK

#211

1837 N. Alexandria Ave.

L.A. CA 90027

Tel: (323) 360-1469

rbrtptrck@aol.com

CAST OF “DELUSION” (in order of appearance)

Retired Man

Blue, his dog (not necessary)

Connie Escher, an attractive teacher of thirty

Macro Students, male and female, thirteen to fifteen

Corey, a disturbed student, fifteen

Kelly, a beautiful female student, fifteen

Garrison, a handsome male student, fifteen

The History Class (the reincarnated students), a dozen bright students, fifteen

Teachers Lounge Attendant, an innocuous older person (an “old soul”)

Ms. Phipps, a nervous older teacher

Teachers Two and Three, innocuous

Teacher Four, the art teacher, snide and bitter (an “old soul”)

Radio announcer (V.O. )

Mrs. Decatur (mail-room lady)

The Hartley’s Butler

Mrs. Hartley (murdered student’s parent), blank and shallow

Townies (passersby)

Looney Hippie, a street-speaker

Street Gang Members (passersby)

Floyd Carter, a nervous student, fifteen

Doctor Simms, music professor

Coach

Science Teacher

School Psychiatrist

Mrs. Carter, Floyd’s mother, below the Macro average socially

Mr. Carter, Floyd’s father, the same

Lee Summit, psychiatrist, Connie’s former lover, strong and sensitive

Country Western Singer

College Students

Slum School Students

Murdered Student

Slum Gang Members (in car, passersby)

Black Woman at slum school

Macro Principal, stuffy

Mr. and Mrs. Lindstrom (Kelly’s parents), blank and shallow

The Hardwicks’ Maid, blank and shallow

Mrs. Fiedler, blank and shallow

Mrs. Larramie., blank and shallow

PRESENTATION OF”DELUSION”:

“Delusion” requires many settings. Mister William Houck, director of the premiere production at Eagle High School, Arroyo Grande, California, on Oct. 21, 2004, used a broad arrangement of multi-leveled platforms and a number of plain black cubes to suggest them all.

He also employed many SLIDES and MOVIES, as indicated in the script.

DELUSION

INDIAN CLIFFS – EARLY MORNING

ONSCREEN

A circle of great standing stones, an ancient Indian monument. The circle of standing stones surrounds a natural sunken amphitheater.

Early morning fog hangs like a shroud.

A MAN, a retiree in jogging suit, takes a morning walk with his well-groomed DOG.

The man tosses a stick and the dog takes off after it like a shot, disappearing into the fog.

A beat as the man waits for the dog to return. He cocks his head — old Blue never takes this long.

MAN: Blue? Here, boy…

Nothing.

MAN: Blue?

The man starts into the fog.

WE HEAR a – SLURPING SOUND.

MAN: Blue! What the –Oh my God, Blue! Quit eating that! Her! Quit eating her! Quit eating that little girl!

ON SCREEN:

HEADLINE — “MACRO STUDENT DIES.” There is a memorable photo of Jennifer Hartley, a pretty, intense young girl lying smashed on the rocks, twisted unnaturally and dressed in a school uniform..

THE COURTYARD OF THE MACRO SCHOOL

The Macro School, a facility for well-to-do intellectual Junior High School-age students, from thirteen to fifteen years old.

STUDENTS, male and female, are en route, some rapidly, some at leisure, to their first classes across a large courtyard. ALL STUDENTS, male and female, wear a distinctive blazer and shorts, high socks and brogans like Jennifer’s.

One student, COREY, youngish and very frazzled-looking, has set up a card table with many brochures and placards. The placards are for international causes. Corey waves a placard and shouts:

COREY: We have to make this planet a better world! Save the planet! End aggression! Stop war! End hunger! Outlaw pollution! We have to make this planet a better world!

Suddenly a GROUP of students, male and female, including KELLY and GARRISON, the best-looking girl and boy at school, charges Corey and shatters and scatters his display, yelling:

GROUP: End freaks! Stop freaks! Outlaw freaks! End freaks! Stop freaks! Outlaw freaks!

The Group flees and is instantly lost in the similarly-dressed crowd.

Corey sits desolate and crying in the rubble of his display.

CONNIE ESCHER, a young teacher in her thirties, comes around a corner and sees Corey.

Connie runs to kneel by Corey. She wipes his face with a handkerchief and prods him to test for damage.

CONNIE: Corey, what’s wrong? Are you all right?

COREY: Yes. Yes. I’m all right. Thank you, Ms. Escher.

CONNIE: What happened here?

COREY: It was – it was tough town-kids. Nobody from here.

CONNIE: Why would they do this to you?

COREY: Oh, those street-gangs beat up anyone who fights for social causes. (a beat) It was kids from town. Not Macro students.

Connie shakes her head and starts to try to straighten up the mess. Corey helps her.

CONNIE: Well, how on earth would town kids get inside the walls around Macro? I never understand people. All of you children here at Macro are so devoted to so many social causes, and the very people you’re trying to help harass you.

Corey and Connie are both crouched down, cleaning up, nearly nose-to-nose.

CONNIE: It’s like Nazi Germany.

At this, Corey stops and stares at Connie. Connie is startled by the intensity of his stare.

COREY: Were you there?

Connie manages an uneasy smile.

CONNIE: No, Corey. I’m not quite that old. But I’ve seen terrible things. (a beat) Well, you better go get yourself to the school nurse. If she thinks you should go home or to the hospital, you do so.

COREY: Oh, no, Ms. Escher. I can’t miss history class.

CONNIE: I’ll take that as a compliment. The custodian will clean up this wreckage. You get going.

With a curious look at Connie, Corey dashes away.

Connie looks at a surviving placard which reads, “We Must Make This Planet A Better Place.”

She drops it reluctantly and walks away.

From the shadow of an arcade, the Group that harassed Corey stands watching, to all appearances quiet kids.

Kelly and Garrison watch with special interest.

GARRISON: Why is she so interested in us?

KELLY: I don’t know. I’ve wondered about that, too.

GARRISON: She was interested in Jennifer Hartley.

THE FACULTY LOUNGE

BAROQUE MUSIC. The faculty lounge is fairly luxurious, constant coffee-service with an ATTENDANT, groups of chairs and sofas (not junky) around coffee-tables, a couple of desks in corners for those seeking solitude.

A number of TEACHERS are present, all older than Connie. One group, including MS. PHIPPS, a nervous older woman, is seated around a table examining a newspaper with consternation.

Connie enters and goes directly to the coffee-service. The ATTENDANT smiles, holds up a finger, and begins preparing a coffee-to-go for Connie, clearly a favorite. Connie nods in appreciation and checks her watch.

MS. PHIPPS, carrying newspaper, leaves her group and approaches Connie.

PHIPPS: Connie, Connie, did you hear?

CONNIE: Yes, some town children just beat up Corey Henry.

PHIPPS: No, no, look here! (brandishes newspaper) That pretty little Jennifer Hartley committed suicide!

ON SCREEN:

the front page of the newspaper. The headline reads: “MACRO STUDENT DIES.” There is a memorable photo of Jennifer Hartley..

Connie take the paper and reads it, shocked.

CONNIE: But she was so bright! And she had a fascinating idea for her term-paper! All about Spanish convent life in the 15th century!

PHIPPS: We had two suicides last year.

CONNIE: But why? These children have everything! “Macro School for the Gifted Student.” And they’re all from such rich-educated backgrounds. What drives them to this?

PHIPPS: We thought maybe you could tell us.

TEACHER TWO: With all your experience in those awful slum schools.

TEACHER THREE: All those awful gang-murders.

CONNIE: I never understood that, either. I couldn’t take iot any longer. I thought things would be better here.

TEACHER FOUR: (snidely) Well, I’m sure our coffee’s better.

The Attendant is at Connie’s side with her coffee-to-go.

ATTENDANT: Weren’t you in a hurry, Ms. Escher?

CONNIE: (takes coffee) Oh, yes, thank you. I’ve got an appointment. Kelly Lindstrom. She’s falling ridiculously behind in her grades –

TEACHER FOUR: (takes paper from Connie) We must move on.

CONNIE: Dear Lord, we have to try.

Connie leaves.

PHIPPS: Oh, dear, I hoped she could explain. She’s so fresh and bright.

Attendant and Teacher Four exchange worried looks.

CONNIE’S OFFICE

A well-furnished small room, desk, shelves, a chair for visitors. Conspicuous on the desk is a framed photo of a younger Connie, with LEE, a handsome, bright-looking man a little older, posing by bicycles. Connie is sipping her coffee, leafing through Kelly’s file, listening to a RADIO.

RADIO (V.O.): –heartbreaking news that fourteen- year-old Macro student Jennifer Hartley took her own life by leaping from Indian Cliff. Jennifer’s parents, wealthy philanthropists, were unable to comment today in their grief…

A KNOCK surprises Connie. She turns off the radio as she turns to see Kelly, pretty and cold of manner, standing in the open office door.

CONNIE: Kelly! Good morning. Have a seat.

Connie opens Kelly’s file. Kelly sits, slouched and sullen.

CONNIE: And how are you feeling? Well, I guess you know why we asked you in today.

KELLY: (suspicious) We?

CONNIE: Well, I. But there is concern among the entire faculty about your grades.

KELLY: The faculty. Is that who you meant by “we?”

CONNIE: Well, of course, Kelly. When a student with your I.Q. and your grade average suddenly slumps, we’re all concerned. I thought perhaps — that you might want to — that you might have some thing, or things, you wanted to discuss. We’ve all been adolescents, you know. We weren’t always grown-ups. We’ve been through all the storms and earthquakes you’re going through.

KELLY: Hah!

CONNIE: Are there – perhaps — things you don’t understand about the maturing process you’re undergoing? A child as bright as you – some people think you know everything. Possibly even your parents don’t know you need guidance.

KELLY: My parents are perfect.

CONNIE: Yes, I’ve read your file. But I do know something about how lonely an exceptionally intelligent child can be.

KELLY: Are you new?

CONNIE: I beg your pardon? Yes, this is my first term here. I worked for several years in slum schools in depressed areas.

KELLY: Never mind.

CONNIE: But there are universal problems that come with puberty –

KELLY: Are you thinking I’m pregnant? Don’t worry. I’m never going to be pregnant. Young people of my social class are reproducing less and less, hadn’t you noticed? Can I go now?

CONNIE: Kelly, please. I don’t mean to sound coy or suspicious. Look, I see I can be frank with you. If I sound careful or tentative, it’s largely because of your manner. You seem sullen, angry, and disappointed. Naturally, that would make anyone cautious. Does that make you feel better? Put that ball in your court? Make you feel more in command?

KELLY: Oh, I’m in command, Teach. My class constitutes only five percent of the people in the world, but we control ninety-five-percent of the wealth, and all of the power. The future is in our hands.

CONNIE: Do you think because of that wealth and power it isn’t necessary to achieve anything on your own? You’re wrong, Kelly.

Kelly looks away, disinterested.

CONNIE: It may make you feel confident to know you can live on your trust-fund, but believe me, when you leave school you’ll find that your power carries with it a load of responsibility. When you see the homeless here and the starving abroad, the cities deteriorating and the environment polluted, and crime and revolution multiplying, you’ll have to choose whether you’re going to do something about it or live in terror behind locked doors and hired guards. I worked like a dog on scholarships to get myself out of a worse environment than you can even imagine, so I know. Now, is that plain enough speaking for you?

KELLY: Bravo, teacher. You sure know where the nerves are. Who told you?

Kelly rises and turns for the door.

CONNIE: What do you mean? Please sit down.

Kelly pauses at the door for a beat, her back to Connie. Finally she turns back and sighs.

KELLY: Oh, I’m, sorry. I don’t have time to figure you out. Or rather, I do. So I don’t have to do it now. I’m going. Unless you’re going to make a big thing out of it.

CONNIE: Kelly, I apologize. I spoke too harshly.

KELLY: No, no, you didn’t. I was rude. I’m sorry. I don’t have any cause to make you suffer. Your life is too short.

CONNIE: I’m not sure I understand that.

KELLY: Probably you don’t. Probably this was all your idea. Probably you care. Probably I’m crazy. So long, teacher.

Kelly goes to the door.

KELLY: Look, you don’t have to worry about me. I’ll be all right.

Kelly exits. Connie sits looking quite stunned. Connie looks down at —

– the photo on her desk.

ON SCREEN:

Portrait of Connie and Lee.

She picks up the phone and dials a number, then hangs up. She sits at her desk, quite disturbed.

A CLASS BELL RINGS. She looks at her watch, collects herself, stands and takes her briefcase and leaves.

SCHOOL HALLWAY

A hallway with student book lockers. Students rushing to classes. Kelly at her locker.

Garrison approaches Kelly. To all appearances, he is merely a handsome boy bird-dogging a pretty girl.

GARRISON: Hey, Kelly.

KELLY: Goof off, Garrison.

GARRISON: Hey, nothing suspicious about the handsomest boy in school cornering the prettiest girl.

KELLY: Hello, Ms. Escher!

Connie, passing, nods curtly at Kelly and walks on.

GARRISON: See you in class, Ms. Escher.

Kelly walks away, Garrison detains her.

GARRISON: Hey, let me walk with you.

KELLY: Along life’s shadowed highway?

GARRISON: That’s good. Prettiest girl in school. Snotty. Arrogant. Were you always the prettiest girl?

KELLY: No questions about the past, snoopy.

GARRISON: Look, don’t make me get tough.

KELLY: Why, how could a little girl like me make a big strong man like you do anything?

GARRISON: Listen, what did that zero in there want with you?

KELLY: She hypnotized me and drew all our terrible secrets out of me.

GARRISON: Don’t kid me. What did you tell her?

KELLY: I didn’t tell her anything. Why overload a harmless little computer like her?

GARRISON: You’re not telling me everything.

KELLY: That’s my plan.

They stop at a window marked MAIL ROOM. The MAIL LADY (MS. DECATUR) appears.

KELLY: Anything for me, Ms. Decatur?

MS. DECATUR: Oh, yes, Kelly. More of those special order videotapes.

Ms. Decatur disappears.

KELLY: Look, she wanted to know about my term-paper, all right?

GARRISON: Why, is it full of obscure references references you can’t quote published sources for?

Kelly is puzzled by his question.

MS. DECATUR (reappears with packages): These are all for you, Kelly. Movies, movies, movies.

KELLY: (drops packages in book-bag) Thank you, Ms. Decatur.

Kelly goes on down hall. Garrison tags along.

KELLY: Who appointed you guardian of term- papers, anyway? Was there an all-male high council meeting?

GARRISON: She’s dangerous. She’s smart.

KELLY: She’ll be dead in fifty years. Forever.

GARRISON: (really cornering her) Look, Kell, just tell me what happened.

KELLY: Oh, slime-ball, she thinks the onset of feminine maturity has me disoriented in my ultra-advantaged social infrastructure. I played sullen and uncaring and she’ll probably prescribe a feminine analgesic. Answer your questions? (a beat) Now answer mine: Did you hear Jennifer Hartley — (makes ironic ‘in quotes ‘ marks with her fingers) — ‘committed suicide’ yesterday?

Garrison freezes, looks left and right quickly.

KELLY: You knew.

She starts away; he stops her.

GARRISON: She knew more about fifteenth century convents in Spain than most fourteen year old girls do. Escher ask you about that?

KELLY: Are you crazy?

GARRISON: That isn’t polite.

KELLY: It’s not polite accusing people of treason, either.

GARRISON: I didn’t accuse you.

KELLY: Just remember, anyone can accuse anyone before the Council.

GARRISON: This isn’t like you. Or is this the real you?

KELLY: Maybe it’s History Class. All those intrigues of the Byzantine emperors. History is so educational, don’t you find?

Kelly starts to enter a door. Garrison grabs her arm. She looks down at his hand disdainfully, then straight into his face.

KELLY: We don’t want to call attention to ourselves, do we? (a beat) Like Jennifer Hartley did?

He releases her arm and she enters the room, slams the door in his face. The door reads VIDEO EDITING LAB. Garrison kicks it and moves on.

VIDEO EDITING LAB

Kelly laughs as Garrison kicks door, then opens her book-bag and takes out tapes. Her smile fades.

ON SCREEN:

Out of the book-bag, Kelly’s hand takes a package. She rips it open and takes out three tapes, titled, DISASTERS!, MASSACRES!, HOLOCAUST!

CONNIE’S CLASSROOM

Pleasant room with many posters and pictures of historical events and figures.

Just over a dozen uniformed students in seats, including Corey, Kelly and Garrison.

The blackboard features an impressive chart of names from Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, and Jewish medieval history.

CONNIE: …so we will learn this semester that medieval history reflects principally the gigantic attempts of three great religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, to deal with their own internal conflicts, their conflicts with each other, and recurrent onslaughts of barbarian forces from the North –

GARRISON: The people from the North didn’t consider themselves barbarians. They believed in their gods.

COREY: And the three faiths called each other barbarians, too. They all felt surrounded by barbarians.

CONNIE: Not always. The Islamic nations regarded both Jews and Christians as natural allies because they shared some holy books. And many Christian rulers taught tolerance for the Jews. And Jewish leaders often counseled peaceful co-existence. People can cooperate.

BOY ONE: They only got together when they had common enemies.

GIRL ONE: And some of those enemies were really common.

KELLY: So what happened?

CONNIE: I beg your pardon?

KELLY: Why was there always war?

CONNIE: That’s the eternal question, the one we all must work to solve.

BOY TWO: The Mongols and the Vikings, why weren’t their faiths – “great faiths?”

GIRL TWO: Because they couldn’t write.

GARRISON: Cut it out.

CONNIE: No, these are important questions!

GIRL THREE: And in the Americas, Incas and Aztecs and Amerindians –

BOY THREE: – and Eskimos!

GIRL THREE: – and Eskimos, sure, they had their own faiths! Why don’t we study them?

BOY FOUR: And Africans!

GIRL FOUR: And Polynesians

CONNIE: Only because Western Europeans weren’t yet in touch with them.

Boys and Girls Two, Three, and Four ad lib exasperated disgust: “Right?” “See?” “That’s the story,” etc.

GIRL ONE: And Persians and Indians and Chinese!

GARRISON: Yeah, and Zoroastrianism and Buddhism and Shintoism and Confucianism were all in full swing! Why not study them all?

BOY FIVE: The classical Greeks and the ancient Earth religions, why don’t we study those?

BOY ONE: Because we don’t care!

GIRL TWO: Because we have enough to study.

GARRISON: Because they’re historically irrelevant!

COREY: (almost a shriek) Because it was always the same story everywhere! Because it’s always intolerance and murder! (indicating the classroom) Because it’s just like this!

GARRISON: (stands, takes charge) Hey, leave Ms. Escher alone. She’s been assigned to teach us the facts of one era in one geographical and cultural context. That’s what she’s hired to do for us. She does as she’s told. I think she’s an example to us all, and I think we should give her a great big hand.

Garrison leads the class in applause for Connie. She is confused but flattered.

CONNIE: Why, thank you. Thank you, Garrison, But every question you’ve all asked are good ones. Great ones. I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to work with students so intelligent and so inquiring. I’m not sure I’m adequate to answer all your questions. If I can only encourage you all to keep seeking the answers, I’ll feel that my move here was justified.

GIRL FIVE: Gee, she sounds like Buddha.

BOY SIX: Buddha was a pest.

KELLY: So in his honor they named a city Budapest!

A BELL RINGS.

CONNIE: There’s the bell. I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

Students start filing out, slowly, whispering to one another.

Connie turns her back to erase the blackboard. Kelly lingers.

When Garrison notices this, he lingers, too.

Corey lingers at the door, looking upset, tortured really. Connie notices.

CONNIE: What’s the matter, Corey?

COREY: Those bells. They always remind me of the bells at Auschwitz.

Garrison and Kelly react to this.

CONNIE: Are you interested in that period, Corey? Perhaps you’ll write about it for your term paper.

COREY: (with a glance at Kelly and Garrison) No. No. I’m writing about the Pilgrim Fathers.

KELLY: And mothers, of course!

CONNIE: Of course you can choose your own subject, but I wonder why all of you pick such tame topics, especially after these wonderful discussions in class –

Kelly and Garrison and Corey all react to this by assuming flat, dead expressions.

CONNIE: (not noticing their reaction) – except that poor little Jennifer Hartley, she had such imagination.

COREY: I gotta go.

And he exits.

Kelly and Garrison start after him, but Connie stops them with:

CONNIE: Kelly, Garrison, thank you for starting such a stimulating discussion.

KELLY: (with a glance at Garrison) I just — I just wanted to show you that I intend to do better.

CONNIE: I appreciate it. I’ve been meaning to ask you, have you picked your term-paper topic?

Garrison reacts to this. Kelly notices.

KELLY: No, I’m still thinking and reading.

She pats her bulging book-bag.

GARRISON: (aware of Connie watching) Don’t think too hard. It’ll wrinkle your perm. Come on. I’ll buy you lunch.

KELLY: (similarly aware) No, you won’t.

She starts out, he follows, Connie watches.

GARRISON: Sure I will. It’s been decided.

KELLY: By higher powers?

GARRISON: You’re nuts!

Kelly steps back to let him exit first.

KELLY: After yours.

He fumes out, Kelly winks at Connie, Connie smiles.

HALLWAY

Garrison and Kelly emerge from classroom. His manner changes abruptly.

GARRISON: Look, stupid, get your grades up, all right? But don’t give a zero any clues they can’t handle.

KELLY: Don’t call her that. Did you see the tears in her eyes?

GARRISON: Asthma.

KELLY: I’m not sure she’s a zero.

GARRISON: She’s at least thirty. If she was one of us, she’d know by now.

KELLY: That’s not always true. She came from an ignorant background. She might not have remembered things early from reading, like we all did. Besides, maybe she’s in hiding, too. Maybe she’s scared – like us.

GARRISON: Sometimes it’s smart to be scared.

KELLY: Is that a threat? What is this lunch about?

GARRISON: Don’t tremble. I want to talk to you about Corey.

KELLY: What about Corey?

GARRISON: I think he’s slipping. I’m worried about his term paper.

KELLY: How worried?

GARRISON: Bad worried.

KELLY: As worried as you were about Jennifer Hartley?

GARRISON: Don’t say that name.

KELLY: Jennifer Hartley, Jennifer Hartley, Jennifer Hartley —

Garrison clearly is about to strike Kelly. He sees Connie approaching down the hall. He presses Kelly against the wall and shuts her up by kissing her, hard.

Connie passes, with an expression compounded of faculty disapproval and sympathetic amusement.

Kelly slaps Garrison. WE SEE Connie’s reaction to this only from the back as she hurries away.

KELLY: Don’t make me do that again.

GARRISON: It’s human nature. My, my, teacher saw us. Now she won’t think your hormonal changes are disorienting you.

KELLY: Don’t worry about her.

GARRISON: Why do you care?

KELLY: Come here.

She pulls him to her for a real kiss. She releases him.

KELLY: Now don’t worry about her, okay?

GARRISON: You’re taking advantage of my hormonal changes.

KELLY: Will it get me lunch?

GARRISON: It might get you a throne.

They start walking toward the courtyard.

GARRI SON: It’s damned sure you weren’t a nun in your last life.

She kicks him. He laughs. They continue into the courtyard.

COURTYARD

Kelly and Garrison enter the courtyard to find Corey, with his mended card-table and patched signs, back at his original stand.

COREY: Stop war! End hunger! Outlaw pollution! Reduce population! It’s up to us! Our generation can do it

The History Class stands in the huddle, regarding Corey. One Boy starts toward him, but a Girl plucks his sleeve and directs their attention to Connie, in the arcade across the courtyard, watching Corey. The Boy returns to the group.

GARRISON: See? You never know who’s watching.

Garrison looks back toward Corey with real distaste.

GARRISON: He’s losing it. We’ve got to do something about him.

KELLY: I agree. If we have to. (indicates Connie) But not her, okay?

Garrison looks at her, Connie, the Group, Corey, back at Kelly.

GARRISON: We’ll see.

Connie stands on one side of the courtyard, looking thoughtful and troubled, the History Class and Kelly and Garrison on the other, and Corey at the center, still shouting:

COREY: Save the human race! Save the Earth Our generation must do it! We have to make this world a better place! (With increasing desperation) We have to! We have to!

ON SCREEN

EXT. THE HARTLEY HOME – NIGHT

An obviously expensive home in a spacious neighborhood. Connie’s car is in the driveway. She walks to the door, rings the bell. A mourning wreath is on the door.

A BUTLER opens the door.

THE HARTLEY HOME

Connie, still in her coat, stands waiting, looking a bit intimidated by the surroundings. Her gaze is drawn to a mantel and a photograph of Jennifer Hartley, looking little like a girl who would kill herself. Connie is shaken from her spell as:

MRS. HARTLEY (O.S.): Yes, I’m Ione Hartley?

Connie stiffens slightly as MRS. HARTLEY, a slightly-older matron in unadorned black, enters and comes to her.

CONNIE: Mrs. Hartley, I’m Connie Escher; I was Jennifer’s history teacher. May I talk with you?

MRS. HARTLEY: Of course. Won’t you sit down?

They sit.

CONNIE: I know it’s very soon after your tragedy, but I wanted to pay my respects and tell you how sorry I am. Jennifer was a wonderful girl.

MRS. HARTLEY: Thank you. That’s very good to hear.

CONNIE: Mrs. Hartley, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Last year, they tell me, two Macro students ended their own lives. And it isn’t just here. Nationwide, bright, advantaged students are doing what Jennifer did. And no one knows why. There’s seldom anything to indicate that they were using drugs or that their homes were anything but harmonious.

MRS. HARTLEY: I don’t think it can have been anything like that. We had a list of the eight signs of drug use and the ten signs of depression, and she never showed any of them.

CONNIE: If we can find some cause, some reason, for these tragedies, we might be able to find these troubled children and help them. It would be a sort of memorial to your daughter. Can you give me any hint that would even lead to a reason, a cause?

MRS. HARTLEY: Jennifer was so adult, so focused, so sure of her road in life.

CONNIE: Had there been any change in her behavior, anything at all?

MRS. HARTLEY: She had begun staying in more often, seeing her friends a little less, but that was only because she was so involved in a term-paper. Why, it was for you, I believe.

CONNIE: Yes. She had chosen a very promising topic. She was hard-working, ambitious. Did she — I hope this isn’t indelicate of me – did you find her term paper in her room?

MRS. HARTLEY: No. Nothing like that. She may have had it with her. She just didn’t come home one night, you see.

CONNIE: It’s brutal of me to question you like this.

MRS. HARTLEY: No, it shows that you care. And teachers should, shouldn’t they? I mean, that’s good, isn’t it?

CONNIE: I hope so.

Connie stands.

CONNIE: I’m sure you want to be alone.

MRS. HARTLEY: Actually, we’re going out. We’re on the board of a committee to send food to Central Asian refugees. You don’t think it’s awful, our going out?

CONNIE: Of course not. It’s very fine of you. It’s a worthy cause.

MRS. HARTLEY: It’s because of Jennifer. She urged us to go into it. She cared so much for making this world a better place.

Connie cocks her head at this echo of Corey.

HIPPIE (Offstage): We have to make this world a better place!

CITY STREET

a LOONEY HIPPIE on a milk-crate is preaching, waving a placard.. Connie appears carrying a bag of groceries and her car keys. STREET GANG walks by. Connie observes, frightened for the Hippie. The Street Gangs walk by without incident.

ONJ SCREEN

Corey appears. Connie remembers him saying-

COREY: It was – it was tough town-kids. Those street-gangs beat up anyone who fights for social causes.

HIPPIE: .Alien forces are here! They are present even as I speak! Evil has taken over human civilization! Vast international conspiracies rule our lives! Awaken to the threat of insidious domination! On every side the forces of evil gather! Mind- controlling drugs are in your food, your water, in the very air we breathe! Hostile armies hypnotized by flying saucers are massed at our very borders! Secret coded messages from your television are warping your perceptions! The churches are infiltrated with robot agents!

The Street Gang slows down to watch the HIPPIE, but continues on off-stage. remembers

ON SCREEN

COREY: It was – it was tough town-kids. Those street-gangs beat up anyone who fights for social causes.

ON SCREEN

Headline: “FOURTH MACRO STUDENT KILLS SELF!” There is Corey’s photograph.

CONNIE’S CLASSROOM

The history class (except of course, for Corey) are all present. Connie, visibly tense, is at the blackboard, just ending the class.

CONNIE: …the merchant guilds became more powerful as popes and kings waged war on one another. However, the merchants’ profits depended on freedom for international trade, and as they organized, wars became shorter and less frequent. With the triumph of trade, the Middle Ages ended and Renaissance began.

She sighs and surveys the quiet class.

CONNIE: It may not be my place to say this, but I know you all must be disturbed by the terrible tragedies that have befallen two of your classmates. It’s — a rough world out there, and even in your protected position, the anxieties and horrors of the larger world reach in and cause you fear and stress. I just want to say that, although I know you all have fine parents and caring councilors, if any of you should ever need to talk, I — and I’m sure all your teachers — am– are — always available to you.

The Class watches quietly, politely.

CONNIE: (back to business) I’ve received term-paper topics from most of you. Those who haven’t yet turned them in, well, you know who you are.

The BELL RINGS. Class quietly starts filing out. Kelly passes Connie’s desk.

CONNIE: Kelly, how are you?

KELLY: What? Me? Oh, I’m fine, Ms. Escher. Everything is fine.

CONNIE: How’s that term-paper?

KELLY: (pats book bag) Oh, fine. Just fine.

Kelly exits, quickly.

Garrison stands with others from The Group, watching Kelly leave but not following. Connie notes this, gathers her materials, and leaves.

As soon as Connie goes, The Group starts a heated discussion.

A GIRL: Okay, what’s up? What did Ms. Escher mean, “if we need to talk?”

A BOY: She didn’t mean anything. She’s a zero.

GARRISON: I’m not so sure.

A GIRL: You think she’s an Old One?

A BOY: Maybe a spy for an Old One.

GARRISON: More like a Solitary.

A BOY: This isn’t anything to be discussing on the campus.

A GIRL: We can’t have a meeting. We’re having too many.

A BOY: Even my folks are getting suspicious.

GARRISON: We need to have a meeting. A major one.

A GIRL: What’s with Kelly, Garrison?

GARRISON: Kelly’s cool.

A BOY: Tell it to the Void. Something’s up.

GARRISON: Nothing’s up.

A GIRL: Ms. Escher keeps singling her out. She was showing interest in Corey, too.

GARRISON: What were you – an Indian mystic?

A BOY: No cracks about the past. You know that.

A GIRL: Our generation has to erase the past.

GARRISON: That’s what Hitler said.

It just hangs there for a beat. Frozen looks from the others.

GARRISON: I read it in history.

A GIRL: History is bunk.

A BOY: Who said that?

THE GIRL: How should I know? I’m a heedless, uncaring, indifferent modern youth.

A BOY: Somebody should look into Escher.

GARRISON: Everybody should stay away from Escher.

A GIRL: But that means ‘everybody,’ including Kelly.

GARRISON: I’ll talk to Kelly.

A BOY: Kelly’ s dangerous.

GARRISON: Everybody’ s dangerous.

A GIRL: What’s Kelly’s term-paper about?

GARRISON: Betsy Ross.

A BOY: You know that?

GARRISON: I’ll see to it.

A GIRL: It’s suspicious, every suicide being from History Class. It’s the only class we’re all in together.

GARRISON: So what are you saying?

THE GIRL: What are you hearing?

GARRISON: We need a suicide that isn’t from the History Class?

A BOY: Another suicide will attract more attention.

GARRISON: The right suicide would distract attention. What’s the problem? All we’d be doing would be subtracting a zero.

A GIRL: You sound like some Renaissance politician making plots.

GARRISON: You sound like an unfortunately disturbed upper-class teenager. –

A BOY: Don’t make threats.

GARRISON: Don’t get paranoid.

A GIRL: Don’t get bossy.

GARRISON: Don’t tell me what to do.

A BOY: Don’t be late.

GARRISON: For what?

THE BOY: For the meeting tonight.

A GIRL: I think it’s a bad idea.

GARRISON: What’s the matter? Can’t keep your parents busy? Find another worthwhile charity. You should never have trouble handling your parents. Remember, the Arabs found that calculation became much easier with the discovery of the zero…

FACULTY LOUNGE

Busy as usual. Numerous Teachers present, including Ms. Phipps and several other nervous older Teachers around one table.

Connie enters and stands inside the door. The Attendant waves and holds up a paper cup. Connie smiles and indicates, “No,” and points at the older Teachers’ table.

The Attendant frowns slightly in disapproval, but picks up a china cup and saucer.

Connie takes a deep breath and heads for the Teachers’ table, with:

CONNIE: Hi, guys!

They smile at her, except for Teacher Four.

CONNIE: I’d like to talk about the students—

PHIPPS: Oh, dear—must we?

ON SCREEN

A clock moves about a half an hour.

Connie is deep in conversation with Phipps and the other Teachers, her saucer and empty coffee-cup in her hand.

CONNIE: .Yes, I agree, they’re not the usual kind of children at all, but, well, I guess I didn’t put it very clearly, but what I was trying to say was that I –

The Attendant takes Connie’s cup from her hand and replaces it with a full one.

CONNIE: – oh! Thank you.

The Attendant salutes and goes.

CONNIE: Where was I? Yes, what I’m really trying to find out is if any of you have noticed any clear degree of change in the kind of odd behavior among your students?

PHIPPS: Oh, but, Connie, I told you, they’re all odd.

TEACHER TWO: Some more odd than others. Some less.

TEACHER THREE: They’re exceptional.

TEACHER FOUR: They’re spoiled brats.

PHIPPS: Oh, no. Well, yes. Not all of them.

TEACHER TWO: Some of them are perfect.

TEACHER THREE: Anything unusually unusual? Is that what you mean?

CONNIE: Yes, exactly, that’s it.

TEACHER FOUR: Well, two of them committed suicide — that’s not exactly regulation behavior.

PHIPPS: Oh, that’s mean.

TEACHER THREE: Our Macro students are unusually well-behaved, unusually intelligent, unusually focused, unusually interested in societal betterment.

CONNIE: Yes. Poor little Corey was.

PHIPPS: Oh, dear.

CONNIE: Hardly any drugs, hardly any pregnancies.

TEACHER TWO: The only interest some of them show in sex is in their passion to legalize abortion.

TEACHER THREE: Oh, no, some of them, are adamantly against abortion.

PHIPPS: But they’re all interested in population control. One way or another.

TEACHER TWO: Some of them are fanatics about that.

TEACHER FOUR: And pollution and hunger and global warming, it’s all fads. Next year it’ll be back to purple hair and free love. You’re a history teacher — don’t these things go in fads?

CONNIE: You read history?

TEACHER FOUR: No. It gives me nightmares.

PHIPPS: Nurse says some of them suffer from nightmares.

TEACHER TWO: I read that it’s additives in the junk food that does that to them.

CONNIE: I never see any of them eating junk food. They seem to be fanatical about physical health.

PHIPPS: You’d have to ask Coach about that.

TEACHER THREE: I think this is the only school in America that has a vegetarian buffet in its lunchroom.

PHIPPS: Yes, that sweet Corey was – what do they say? – ‘hipped’ about that.

TEACHER TWO: And that poor Jennifer, too.

TEACHER FOUR: Maybe eating vegetables drove them nuts!

PHIPPS: Oh, you! But – doesn’t mental illness among the young always come from problems in the home? Didn’t I read that?

CONNIE: Do you ever hear any of them complain about their parents?

TEACHER FOUR: Perish the thought!

TEACHER TWO: There are hardly any problems at home for a lot of them.

CONNIE: Do the parents ever confide in any of you?

TEACHER THREE: Almost never.

TEACHER FOUR: These parents? Most of them are out every night dealing with their charities. Global consciousness to the max.

PHIPPS: Well, that’s good, isn’t it?

CONNIE: Do you think their parents neglect them for these noble interests?

TEACHER TWO: They seem so proud of their parents.

TEACHER THREE: And their parents seem so proud of them.

TEACHER FOUR: Perfect homes, perfect parents, perfect bodies, perfect minds, perfect teeth, perfect people.

CONNIE: Perfect… –

Again, Attendant and Teacher Four exchange concerned looks over Connie’s head.

VIDEOTAPE EDITING LAB

A state-of-the-art facility. Kelly sits at multi-screen editing console, surrounded by tapes.

ON SCREEN:

On console screens, images of war and disaster flicker. Kelly punches buttons expertly, editing a sequence.

Door opens, letting in HALL NOISES. Kelly turns, startled. Garrison stands in doorway. He glances at screens. They all show early atomic bomb explosions.

GARRISON: We build better bombs now.

Kelly quickly hits switches, turning console off.

KELLY: What are you after? Got a porn tape to cram on?

GARRISON (enters, closes door): You’re edgy. Schoolgirl secrets?

He reaches for console switch. Kelly grabs his hand.

KELLY: Why don’t you go torture stray cats? I’m working.

GARRISON: You’re all work and no play lately.

He fondles some videotapes. Kelly takes them from him.

GARRISON: It’s not good to have secrets. Makes people nervous.

KELY: I don’t’ want to know your secrets. I’m sure they’re disgusting.

Garrison looks at videotape titles.

GARRISON: Bible spectacles. Historical epics. Term-paper stuff?

KELLY: Yeah, I’m doing the Golden Age of Movies. Tame enough for you?

GARRISON: Be careful not to reveal any secret history you can’t quote any published references for.

Kelly sneers at him and clicks a switch.

ON SCREEN:

On all the screens, a romantic dance sequence like Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse “dancing in the dark” comes on all console screens.

KELLY: What about harmless Hollywood gossip?

Kelly takes Garrison’s hands from her tapes. She places his hands on her breasts. He gasps. She smiles.

GARRISON: You could have been Marilyn Monroe.

KELLY: (with a tempting smile) Well, you could have been Clark Gable any day.

GARRISON: Frankly, Scarlett, I do give a damn.

Kelly kisses Garrison as dancers swirl in background.

KELLY: Now go away and let a girl work.

GARRISON: It’s hard…

Kelly gives him a disdainful look for his pun.

GARRISON: …but I must pull myself away. So your’e gonna be locked up in here for a while?

KELLY: A couple of hours.

GARRISON: Good. You can’t cause any trouble as long as you’re kept in the dark.

Garrison takes his hands from Kelly’s breasts, makes a “military turn,” and exits.

Kelly, more shaken by the kiss than she’d like, sighs and returns to the console. She punches some buttons.

ON SCREEN

The dancers disappear to be replaced by war, disaster, saints burning at stakes.

HALLWAY

Garrison exits editing room with lipstick on his face. Several history class members stand waiting for him. He gives them a high sign, “Everything’s all right.” Most disperse. Two girls remain. He heads down hall. They follow behind him.

Garrison wipes Kelly’s lipstick from his mouth as he walks purposefully down the hall.

CONNIE’S OFFICE

Connie is reading a book

ON SCREEN:

Cover of book “Teenage Suicide.”

KNOCK at her door. She looks up.

CONNIE: Yes?

HALLWAY OUTSIDE CONNIE’S OFFICE

Garrison and the two girls stand there.

GARRISON: It’s Garrison, Ms. Escher.

CONNIE: Oh. Come in, Garrison.

Garrison waves the two girls to step aside. He opens the door.

Garrison enters and stands watching her for a beat, then speaks:

GARRISON: Ms. Escher?

CONNIE: Hello, Garrison. You’ve caught me at a difficult time….

GARRISON: I’m sorry. It’s just – there’s something on my mind, and you said we could talk to you.

CONNIE: Of course. Come in.

GARRISON: If you’re too busy for me…

CONNIE: Never too busy for you – for any of you. Garrison.

GARRISON: (he sits) That’s what I thought. You’re sympathetic. I knew you were the one.

CONNIE: I hope I can help.

GARRISON: There’s a kid I’m worried about.

CONNIE: Kelly?

GARRISON: Oh, no, you fixed Kelly up just swell. Look at the way she’s working in class now. No, there’s nothing wrong with Kelly – it’s Floyd Carter.

CONNIE: (reaching for files) Floyd Carter?

GARRISON: He’s not in any of your classes. I don’t think.

CONNIE: No. No, I don’t have him.

GARRISON: That’s what I thought. See, he’s in my Music Appreciation Class with Doctor Simms.

CONNIE: Yes?

GARRISON: And, well, he’s been acting awful funny.

CONNIE: In what way?

GARRISON: Well, he’s moody and nervous and he says weird things.

CONNIE: Have you recommended that he go to the school psychiatrist?

GARRISON: Gee, I tried, but, well, when you say anything like that to him, he gets awful spooky.

CONNIE: Do you mean, “afraid,” “paranoid?”

GARRISON: I don’t know. I’m just a kid. And he’s not part of – of the bunch I pal around with. But a lot of kids have noticed it.

CONNIE: I don’t know the boy at all. Perhaps I should talk with his parents?

GARRISON: Would you? That’d be great. But will you promise me…

CONNIE: Promise you what, Garrison?

GARRISON: See, you know, the guys all tease any guy that gets nosy or acts, you know…

CONNIE: Sensitive? Vulnerable?

GARRISON: That’s it.

CONNIE: Even among you sophisticated, high I.Q. types?

GARRISON: I guess kids are all the same, huh?

CONNIE: What was it you wanted me to promise, Garrison?

GARRISON: Please don’t tell anybody it was me who told you. Please? It would ruin me. And I’m hoping to be voted Class President.

CONNIE: Of course. I’m proud that you trust me.

GARRISON: I knew you would be. You’re the greatest, Ms. Escher. I knew I could count on you to do everything right. You won’t tell, then?

CONNIE: No, I can’t see that there would be any need for me to. Whether the boy turns out to need help or not.

GARRISON: You know, when you say that, it makes me feel I really can trust adults.

CONNIE: Garrison – don’t you feel you can trust your parents?

GARRISON: Oh, no, I never meant anything like that. My folks are sensational. couldn’t ask for better. Hey, they’re —

CONNIE: Perfect?

GARRISON: Well, that’s how they seem to me. But what would I know? I’m just a kid. You promise?

CONNIE: I promise, Garrison.

GARRISON: Cross your heart and hope to die?

CONNIE: I promised, Garrison.

GARRISON: I believe in you.

Garrison rises and exits.

Connie looks after him thoughtfully. Then she turns to her computer and punches up a file, “Carter, Floyd.”

ON SCREEN

WE SEE Floyd Carter’s file on the screen, including a good, clear head-shot of a pleasant, average boy.

HALLWAY

Outside Connie’s office. The two girls wait. Garrison silently shushes them. He presses his ear to the door.

CONNIE’S OFFICE

Connie intent on computer monitor screen.

ON SCREEN

Floyd’s records. The cursor moves down a line of TEACHER’S COMMENTS.

“Good boy.” “Upper-middle class.” “Interest in music.” “High-B average.” “No unusual childhood diseases.” “No record of behavioral problems.” “No citations for tardiness.” “No unusual absences.”

CONNIE (mouths): “No, no, no. no.”

HALLWAY

Garrison signals the two girls. They move closer to the door.

ON SCREEN:

Two girls’ shadows fall on the clouded-glass panel.

CONNIE’S OFFICE

Connie at computer. WE HEAR with her:

GIRL ONE: I just feel so bad about Floyd.

GIRL TWO: He was always so nice before.

GIRL ONE: I just can’t understand the change in him.

GIRL TWO: And such a sudden change, too.

GIRL ONE: It makes me sad.

GIRL TWO: And it’s so inexplicable…

Connie rises and goes to the door, opens it just as A BELL RINGS.

Connie opens the door.

The two girls are lost as the hallway fills with scurrying student forms.

Connie just stands there for a beat.

COURTYARD

FLOYD CARTER. is sitting studying. Other figures in school uniforms start to move toward him..

Connie enters the courtyard and sees Floyd.

Several students, all members of the History Class, including Garrison, but not including Kelly, approach Floyd in the friendliest way, slapping him on the back chummily, offering him an apple, showing him a book, etc..

Garrison, all smiles and friendliness, talks closely with Floyd.

Floyd leaps up and runs away, past Connie. The History Class stand where they were, all expressing wonderment, bewilderment, hurt. One girl sits and cries. Another comforts her. One boy walks away in exasperation, Garrison trying to argue with him. Garrison turns and sees Connie, and shrugs regretfully.

Connie stands there, musing to herself, a look of resolve forming on her face.

MUSIC ROOM

Connie is talking with DOCTOR SIMMS, music professor, older.

DOCTOR SIMMS: Floyd Carter? Oh, I never had any trouble with him. Well, until just lately.

CONNIE: What kind of trouble, Doctor Simms?

DOCTOR SIMMS: Well, nothing really, but it was just unusual. He didn’t turn in his homework.

CONNIE: Is that all?

DOCTOR SIMMS: But he got so angry. He swore somebody had stolen it. That isn’t like him.

GYM

Connie is talking with COACH, grizzled.

COACH: I was wondering the same thing myself. He got in a fight in gym- class. Said they wouldn’t leave him alone,

CONNIE: Who wouldn’t?

COACH: Bunch of my best boys. Never have any trouble with those boys. No razzing, no bullying. Perfect kids. They said they just tried to choose him for their team. He broke out crying. Floyd’s no champion, but he’s no sissy. (a beat) It’s not like him.

SCIENCE ROOM

Connie is talking with SCIENCE TEACHER, a distracted type.

SCIENCE TEACHER: Well, I wouldn’t want to spread gossip about such a nice, normal boy.

CONNIE: Please, anything would be helpful.

SCIENCE TEACHER: I never had any trouble with him, you understand, I pride myself on never allowing trouble with any of my pupils.

CONNIE: Yes, of course, you should pride yourself on that. But, you said — something recently?

SCIENCE TEACHER: Well, not me, directly, but one of the girls asked to be seated elsewhere because she said Floyd was whispering – obscene things to her. I didn’t know what to do, so I moved her and put a boy there. Is something wrong?

CONNIE: I don’t know.

ART TEACHER’S OFFICE

Connie talks to the Art Teacher (“Fourth Teacher” from Faculty Lounge)

ART TEACHER: Well, it’s hardly in my area, after all. I just look at their work in class and try to teach them to do better. I certainly haven’t observed anything unusual in Floyd’s behavior—and I don’t imagine you have either…have you?

CONNIE: Well, no. I haven’t even met him—

ART TEACHER: And he’s not in any of your classes, is he?

CONNIE: No, no, he’s not, but—

ART TEACHER: I can’t really understand why you’re so interested—

CONNIE: Well, I—

ART TEACHER: Can you?

CONNIE: Not really.

ART TEACHER: Perhaps you really ought to butt out.

CONNIE: I can’t.

SCHOOL PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE

Connie talks the well-upholstered school PSYCHIATRIST.

PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, I saw Floyd on your recommendation. He’s very upset. He seems to think the whole school is persecuting him.

CONNIE: What does he think he’s being persecuted for?

PSYCHIATRIST: He won’t say. Of course. He just seems to think everyone’s turned against him. It’s in the normal range. Perfectly normal. Do you think I should notify his parents?

CONNIE: It’s not my place to suggest that. You’re the authority. All I know is history. (a beat) Yes, yes, doctor, I do.

CONNIE’S OFFICE

Connie is at her desk, one hand holding Floyd Carter’s file, the other the photograph of her and Lee. She shoves both aside and leans back in her chair.

A small couple, MR. and MRS. CARTER, in their forties, step shyly into the office.

MRS. CARTER: Miss Escher?

CONNIE: Yes?

MRS. CARTER: We’re Floyd Carter’s parents.

CONNIE: (rises) Oh, I’m so pleased to meet you. I’ve been debating whether to call you.

She gestures and the Carters sit. Connie sits on her desk.

MRS. CARTER: We understand you’ve taken a special interest in Floyd’s case.

CONNIE: Case? (a beat) I don’t know that it’s a “case.”

MRS. CARTER: Miss Escher, until now Floyd’s never been a bit of trouble. He’s so bright, and so healthy, and he always seemed so positive and forward- looking. We consider ourselves blessed to have a gifted child and we read all the books on how to handle him.

MR. CARTER: (with humor) Hell, he read all the books on how to handle him!

MRS. CARTER: And even though we’re not as rich or as socially-connected as the other parents here, we wanted to do the right thing —

MR. CARTER: But we never bullied him.

MRS. CARTER: We never had to.

MR. CARTER: Studying was always his greatest joy.

MRS. CARTER: And he won his scholarship here.

MR. CARTER: And he’s been tops in everything.

MRS. CARTER: Or very nearly.

MR. CARTER: Hell, near the top here is the top anywhere else. We never drove him.

MRS. CARTER: And he’s been so happy.

MR. CARTER: And we were proud, I don’t deny it.

CONNIE: You should be. You should be.

MRS. CARTER: And now it’s all of a sudden like he’s gone crazy –

MR. CARTER: Don’t, Becky.

MRS. CARTER: I don’t know what else to call it. The school psychologist says it’s not our fault —

CONNIE: No, no, I’m sure it’s not.

MR. CARTER: But Floyd doesn’t want to come to school.

MRS. CARTER: It’s like he’s gone crazy.

Mr. Carter comforts Mrs. Carter. She contains herself and speaks again:

MRS. CARTER: And the school Psychiatrist said you had been concerned about him.

MR. CARTER: Becky thought you might be able to help us understand.

CONNIE: Mr. Carter, Mrs. Carter. I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know your son.

MRS. CARTER: But they said you had been responsible for discovering how bad off he is?

MR. CARTER: You must have noticed something?

Suddenly, Floyd appears, clearly distraught, but not wild.

FLOYD: Mom! Dad! What are you doing here?

MRS. CARTER: Floyd, darling.

The Science Teacher enters; clearly Floyd got away from him.

FLOYD: (to Connie) Did you call them here? Are you behind this?

MR. CARTER: Floyd! Manners!

FLOYD: (indicating Science Teacher) He took me out of class. To the principal. He found out you were here. (of Connie) Why are you seeing her? What’s going on?

CONNIE: Floyd, I’m Connie Escher. Please…

FLOYD: I don’t know you! I never did anything to you! I never did anything to anyone! Why are you doing this?!

The adults stand paralyzed. Floyd turns and flees past the Science Teacher.

The Carters run after him, shouting:

MRS. CARTER: Floyd, baby, come back!

MR. CARTER: Floyd! Stop this! Wait!

CONNIE: (to Science Teacher) What happened?

SCIENCE TEACHER: I had to take him to the Principal. I had to. You know I told you I had to move Kelly because he insulted her?

CONNIE: No, I didn’t know it was – yes, you told me.

SCIENCE TEACHER: Well, today I had to move Garrison, because Floyd insulted him – the same way!

Mrs. Carter appears in the doorway, crying. Connie comforts her. OFF SCREEN WE HEAR:

MR. CARTER: (O. S.) Floyd, what’s wrong with you? Nobody is trying to hurt you!

FLOYD: Why have you all turned against me? Why doesn’t anyone believe me?

A BELL RINGS.

MRS. CARTER: Oh, please, please, what’s happened to my boy?

Students pour past Connie’s door. Garrison pokes his head in.

He and Connie exchange a look, then Garrison runs with the crowd to see the ruckus between Floyd and Mr. Carter.

HALLWAY

Some Students are racing past the ruckus without a glance, but most are standing watching.

Mr. Carter is trying to restrain Floyd, who is fighting him frantically.

FLOYD: Let go! Let go of me! All of you go away! Go away! What are you all trying to do to me? Leave me alone! Just leave me alone! –

The School Psychiatrist shoves through the crowd and helps Mr. Carter to drag Floyd away.

FLOYD: You’re treating me like I’m crazy! How did they get you to do this to me? Where are you taking me? What have I done? What are you going to do to me?

The History Class stands more or less together in the mob. Teachers come through, dispersing the crowd.

TEACHERS: (variously) All right. Move on. Please. Get to your class. We don’t gawk at Macro.

Connie watches from her door, still holding Mrs. Carter. Science Teacher joins the Teachers dispersing the crowd.

The History Class disperses itself, every one in it moving in a different direction.

Connie embraces the wailing Mrs. Carter and leads her away.

The Teachers’ Lounge Attendant and 4th teacher are left onstage alone. They watch Connie lead Mrs. Carter off, then slowly turn to look at each other.

(NOTE: HERE ACT 1 ENDED IN THE PREMIERE PRODUCTION.)

ON SCREEN

EXT. CONNIE’S HOME – NIGHT

CLASSICAL MUSIC faintly heard.

CONNIE’S HOME

The inside is as simple and tasteful as the outside.

All around is evidence of Connie love for history, from prints to well-used books.

Classical MUSIC drifts gently around from the stereo.

Connie, dressed comfortably, sits in an over-stuffed chair, sipping a glass of wine and going over Floyd’s files for the hundredth time.

Frustrated and bleary-eyed, Connie tosses the file aside.

She stands and crosses to the open kitchen counter and pours herself more wine.

She starts back for her chair, but pauses at the stereo.

She reaches down and changes the station from the classical to a

COUNTRY WESTERN station.

The sad strains of a bluesy country western song begin —

COUNTRY-WESTERN SINGER (ON RADIO)

“Don’t know who hurt you.

I know it wasn’t me.

I long to see us livin’ happily.

I’m takin’ the fall

For someone else’s shadow on the wall.”.

Connie takes a sip of wine, sits back and melts into her overstuffed chair. She shuts her eyes.

Now the MUSIC COMES UP more, along with other SOUNDS, the SOUNDS of a CROWDED BAR –

ON SCREEN–MOVIE

MID WEST COLLEGE DIVE

A COUNTRY WESTERN SINGER continues the SONG from the previous scene.

The words: “FOURTEEN YEARS EARLIER”

COUNTRY WESTERN SINGER

“Somebody hurt you,

And here’s the consequence:

You’ve punished everyone that’s loved you since

In total recall

Of someone else’s shadow on the wall.

I do somethin’ small

That makes you recall

The pain of it all.

Love, what can I do?”.

A country western bar catering to college students. The crowd is young and raucous — beer drinkers, mostly couples.

COUNTRY WESTERN SINGER:

“Someday you’ll hurt me,

And then you’ll set me free

To hurt someone the way that you’ve hurt me.

We’re just one and all

Just someone else’s shadow on the wall.“

Connie, fourteen years younger, sits at a table with LEE. They are enjoying a cognac as they listen to the sad song.

COUNTRY WESTERN SINGER:

It’s hard to recall

We’re not here at all.

We’re all just someone else’s shadow on the wall.”

The crowd applauds. The singer goes into another song.

CONNIE: Is life really going to be that sad?

LEE: Not with you, little one.

He kisses her.

COLLEGE CAMPUS.

Connie, wearing a biking helmet, sits waiting on her bike. She sees Lee approaching, similarly attired, on another bicycle, smiling.

She pushes off and rides in place beside him.

Connie and Lee pedal joyously on a road through farmland.

They pull to a halt, hop off their bikes, and begin kissing frantically.

CONNIE: I’m going to teach in the slums in the big city. I’m going to discover under-privileged geniuses. I’m going to be the Mother Teresa of American education.

LEE: I’m going to treat troubled children.

CONNIE: Were you a troubled child?

LEE: I had nightmares.

They run deep into the woods.

A DORM ROOM

Lee’s dorm room. Connie and Lee lie asleep in one bed, cuddled after making love. Lee begins to groan, toss, whimper. Connie wakes.

CONNIE: Lee? Darling?

Lee sits up in bed with a SHOUT, striking out at Connie.

CONNIE: Lee, Lee!

Though still in panic, Lee realizes where he is and clutches her to him.

CONNIE: There, there, there. . .Baby.

At the word “baby,” Lee shoves her away, his face a mask of horror.

LEE: Baby! No, no.

He rises and jams his pants on and leaves, carrying his other clothes.

CONNIE: Lee, Lee!

THE DORM ROOM

Connie sits on the edge of the bed, disconsolate. The door opens, Lee comes in. He looks a wreck.

LEE: Teach me history.

Connie rises and they fall into one another’s arms. He disengages and picks up a book.

LEE: Teach me! Tech me history!

Through her tears, Connie smiles and opens the book as they sit side-by-side on the bed.

COLLEGE CAMPUS

Connie and Lee sit on the grass, in the midst of an argument.

LEE: You’re a fool to waste yourself in the slums.

CONNIE: Rut that’s where help is needed.

LEE: Help? No one can help. Don’t you understand? (gazes at her) No, you don’t – do you?

CONNIE: No. No I don’t.

LEE: Quiz kid. Whiz kid, youngest kid in college. Never had a rough life in your life.

CONNIE: I resent that. You know I came from a dirt farm, I’ve worked for what I’ve got. And I mean to make it easier for other deprived kids.

LEE: You don’t know anything about kids. I hate kids. I would never bring a kid into a life like this.

CONNIE: (after silence) Well–e’re going to.

LEE: (after rising) No. No we’re not. I won’t. No.

Lee flees across the campus.

METRO SLUM SCHOOL – CLASSROOM

Connie is screaming, trying to quiet down the din of noisy SLUM KIDS

THE SAME CLASSROOM-LATER

A neglected dirty room with broken windows, desks, and blackboard. From outside WE HEAR the SOUNDS of an undisciplined school yard and a noisy city street.

Lee and Connie are arguing.

LEE: Drugs, vandalism, rape, murder, haven’t you seen the light yet?

CONNIE: Lee, we’re needed here. These children are tortured, terrified. What will happen to them if we don’t help?

LEE: The same thing over and over. (a beat) They’ll die.

CONNIE: We killed our child before it was born. We can’t desert these children. No matter how hopeless it seems.

LEE: Connie, ask yourself why, with all the history we know, why does humanity keep repeating the same patterns, like dumb animals? With all our science, why is half the world hungry? With all the horror, why do people keep breeding? Why don’t more people kill themselves?

CONNIE: I don’t know. I’ve never known.

LEE: You never will.

CONNIE: But we can’t just walk out,

LEE: (going to door) I can. And you will too.

Lee exits.

SLUM SCHOOL – PLAYGROUND

A horrible area of cracked concrete with a mangled cyclone fence and broken basket ball goals. Connie kneels with the broken, bleeding body of a BLACK CHILD across her lap, screaming:

CONNIE: Why? Why did you all kill him? He was the best, the brightest, why did you hate him? Why? Why? Why?

SLOW MOTION

as Connie’s CRIES reverberate, WE SEE a battered sedan, carrying a group of GANG KIDS.

As the car glides dreamlike toward us, a glint of metal is distinguishable, emerging from the passenger window. Now it’s all too clear as the gun comes up. Just beyond the barrel are the cold, lifeless eyes of the gunman, then – BLAMM!

Connie screams as the shot hits near her. She drags the body with her as she seeks shelter. SHOTS continue, mixed with sounds of YOUNG MALE LAUGHTER.

The car circles the playground, shots firing, hitting a window, a basketball hoop, a garbage can, as

Connie, wailing, drags the body behind her to a doorway. It’s a nightmare.

SLUM SCHOOL – OFFICE

Connie is talking with a sad, wise BLACK WOMAN:

BLACK WOMAN: Connie, you have to follow your own conscience…but you know how you’re needed here.

CONNIE: I can’t. Don’t hate me. I can’t take it anymore. I have to go somewhere where things like this can never happen to children.

END MOVIE

CONNIE’S HOME

Connie sits up with a start, spilling wine all over herself. She is breathing hard, reliving the terrible moment.

ONSCREEN

The Carter Home, modest, only a couple of lights on.

THE CARTER HOME – FLOYD’S ROOM

A more modest home than the Hartley’s. Floyd sits in his tidy room at his tidy desk, reading. This is a quiet house, considering a teenager lives here.

Mrs. Carter,. in her nightgown, pokes her head in the door.

MRS. CARTER: Floyd, honey?

Floyd looks up from his reading.

MRS. CARTER: Daddy and I are going to go to bed now, sweetie. Is there anything you need?

FLOYD: No, mom.

MRS. CARTER: Goodnight, honey.

She starts to retreat, Floyd stops her with:

FLOYD: Mom?

MRS. CARTER: Yes, honey?

He looks at her with affection; an affection that is compounded by her obvious concern.

FLOYD: Nothing. Goodnight.

Mrs. Carter retreats. Floyd goes back to his reading. He looks up at a SOUND, quick, light footsteps in the hall. He listens for a beat, nothing, then goes back to his book.

Again, the quick, light steps. Floyd, tense, rises and moves to the bedroom door. He looks out into the hall –

Nothing in hall, but down at the other end he can see into his parents’ bedroom. His father is already in bed and his mother is closing the door as she turns to join the father.

BACK TO

Floyd goes back into his room. He sits on the edge of the bed, questioning his senses. He looks around.

A ladder appears at his window.

Floyd is shocked.

Suddenly:

VOICES: (whispering, from nowhere) Floyd! Floyd! Hey, zero! (et cetera)

Floyd springs up from the bed, terrified. He looks back at the window.

The window—the ladder is gone..

Floyd races to the window, which is open, he strains looking out into the pitch night.

Behind him, members of the History Class tear a book in half, put his chair on his desk and disappear.

Floyd whirls back around and gasps — His chair is now on top of the desk. He crosses to the desk and picks up the halves of his book, horrified.

The VOICES come again, this time tittering, gleeful LAUGHTER. Floyd spins around, trying to pinpoint the source of the phantom voices.

VOICES: Hey, Floyd! Floydfloydfloyd.

His breath comes in fast, hyper spurts. His eyes are wide. He wants to scream. Then, right behind him, in a clear, flat tone:

GARRISON (O. S.) Floyd.

Floyd nearly hits the ceiling. He turns and there’s the grinning, icy Garrison standing there.

GARRISON: Hi ya, zero.

Floyd screams and runs into

THE HALL

Mr. Carter comes tearing out of his bedroom, and – wham! Runs right into a wild-eyed Floyd.

MR. CARTER: Jesus God, Floyd! What’s going on?

Floyd pulls free of his father.

FLOYD: Let me go! Please! They’re here! They’re going to kill me!

Floyd tries to flee, but Mr. Carter detains him.

MR. CARTER: Nobody’s here, Floyd! Nobody’s going to hurt you!

FLOYD: Dad! Let me go! You have to let me go!

MR. CARTER: No! Now, damn it, son, this nonsense has got to stop!

Mrs. Carter appears behind Mr. Carter.

MRS. CARTER: Floyd, honey, we want to help you…

Suddenly, Floyd rears back and – SMASH! – catches his father with a surprise right cross.

Mr. Carter, more stunned than damaged, draws back. Floyd tears off down the stairs.

Mrs. Carter reaches out to her husband, at the same time calling:

MRS. CARTER: Floyd, honey! Come back!

MR. CARTER: Becky, call the police. Call the police..

CHASE SEQUENCE

Downstage Floyd sits on a single cube and drives like crazy.

Upstage, Garrison and History Class Members sit on a car made of four cubes, pursuing him.

ONSCREEN

Crazy images of car lights, police roof light, et cetera, as called-for in action.

Floyd drives like a bat out of hell, terrified and glassy-eyed. HEADLIGHTS in his rearview mirror, getting closer. Floyd pounds the gas — so does the car behind him.

Suddenly, the car behind him explodes with COLORED LIGHT — it’s a police car. Floyd sighs, relieved.

COP: (V.O.) (amplified) Pull over to the side of the road!

Floyd considers what to do. He veers over to the shoulder, slowing. Finally he comes to a stop. He sits there, waiting to be arrested, ticketed, saved.

Footsteps and a dark figure approaching him. Floyd manages a smile, feeling a little stupid now that he’s safe. He turns to the cop —

— Garrison appears at his window.

GARRISON: Hey, zero.

Floyd starts and looks behind himself –

— the car that sits there is not a police car. A detachable police light spins on the top of the car.

Panicked, Floyd goes for the ignition switch. Garrison reaches into the window. They struggle. Floyd manages to get the car started. He starts to pull away.

Garrison manages to pull free of the car. He runs back to the other car, where members of the history class wait, looking like a car load of cruising teenagers. Garrison is laughing as he slams back into the car. They take off after Floyd.

The History Class hang out of Garrison’s car, HOOTING and LAUGHING, calling Floyd’s name and ‘zero’.

Garrison cranks the wheel hard — WHAM!

Floyd tries desperately to keep control. Again Garrison swipes up against Floyd’s car — WHAM!

Floyd loses control of the car. Be looks to his right –

ONSCREEN

— a sheer drop off a cliff.

Floyd screams, the History class members hoot and holler. Lights go black and there is a TREMENDOUS EXPLOSIVE SOUND.

CONNIE’S OFFICE

Connie sits reading a newspaper.

ON SCREEN

A NEWSPAPER HEADLINE: “CURSE OF MACRO. STUDENT SUICIDE !”

A RAP at the door.

Garrison, looking scared to death, stands in the doorway.

Connie puts the paper down.

GARRISON: Ms. Escher.

CONNIE: Garrison. Have you heard?

Garrison enters, and closing door, sits.

GARRISON: Ms. Escher, I don’t know what to do.

CONNIE: Do you want me to call the nurse?

GARRISON: No. Please. I just had to talk to somebody. You know last night?

CONNIE: What about last night?

GARRISON: Last night Floyd came to my house. And he gave me all his syllabus records. He said he was sorry he’d been mean to me and that he was trying to make up for it. I thought that meant he was all right. And then he went and did this. Should I have known? Should I have called someone?

CONNIE: No. No, Garrison. You couldn’t have known. How could you? None of us could have known.

GARRISON: And a lot of the other kids say he did the same thing with them. Came by and gave away all his stuff. They all thought he was fine, too. Should we tell?

CONNIE: I’m sure there’ll be an investigation. You just tell the police what you told me.

GARRISON: It’s such a mystery. Isn’t it?

CONNIE: Yes, Garrison.

He nods somberly, then exits. Connie just stares at the empty doorway.

CONNIE: (to herself) A perfect mystery…

THE PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE

The Psychiatrist is talking to Connie.

PSYCHIATRIST: It’s a classic case. Young man in early adolescence becomes despondent, paranoid, violent. Gives away all his possessions. It’s a textbook case – a perfect textbook case.

CONNIE: Perfect……

THE MACRO SCHOOL – ASSEMBLY HALL

The assembly hall holds the whole student body.

The PRINCIPAL stands at a lectern draped in black. Behind him on easels are large photos of Jennifer Hartley, Corey, and Floyd.

In the packed house, Connie sits in a row with students, just behind Kelly and Garrison and some others of the History Class.

PRINCIPAL: I know that any of you students or faculty who saw a student in trouble would inform the proper authorities. I know that is the sort of people we are here at Macro. But we all know that the signs of this kind of trouble are often so small and misleading. Little things. Little things no one could know. No one is in blame. No one at Macro is responsible. A troubled soul has gone to its reward. A sweet and troubled soul.

Garrison and Kelly sit with other members of the History Class, Connie behind them.

At the second mention of the.word ‘soul,’ Garrison cannot stifle a laugh. He puts his hands over his mouth. Kelly, worried, shoves her elbow in his ribs, but it doesn’t help. He is bent over almost double, his shoulders heaving with suppressed merriment. His friends look worried.

Connie sees his heaving shoulders and her face fills with pity. She reaches instinctively to touch his shoulder.

Garrison turns.

CONNIE: Oh, Garrison, please don’t cry—(She sees his face)—You’re laughing! Why are you laughing?

Everyone looks at Coonie.

KELLY: It’s all right, Garrison. There’s nothing unmanly about crying.

A BOY BESIDE GARRISON: (a worried look at Connie) Right. You just let go, Gare.

Kelly and Connie look at each other. The other members of the History Class take Garrison away.

Kelly and Connie stand looking at each other. The History Class and Garrison stop almost offstage and look back.

Kelly follows them off.

Connie stands alone.

LEE’S HOME

ON SCREEN

A sign on the door reads: “LEE SUMMIT, PSYCHIATRIC COUNSELOR.”

Connie’s hand knocks on the door.

LEE (O. S.) Who is it?

CONNIE: I’m nobody. Who are you?

The door opens on the face of LEE, older but still handsome and warm, though he does not look happy to see her.

LEE: Come in, little one.

Lee’s home is warm, full of comfortable furniture, real wood, teal fabrics, and shelves of much-used books. There is a fire going in the fireplace. Lee stands holding the door. Connie, her coat buttoned to the collar, stands, not knowing what to do.

Lee glances outside, closes the door, comes behind her, reaches around and unbuttons her coat, takes it from her. She still continues to stand as if cold.

LEE: (disposing of coat) You’ve changed your hair.

She walks farther into the room, away from him.

LEE: You’ve changed your manner, too. (walking to sideboard-bar) Have you changed your drink?

CONNIE: Cognac will do just fine.

Connie wanders around the familiar room while Lee pours cognac. She touches remembered objects, lets herself smile a bit. She touches a photo of her and him much younger.

CONNIE: Nothing has changed here.

LEE: (offering cognac) Nothing, Connie. Nothing ever will. (a beat) Well, maybe your reflexes. Once a line like that would have had you in my arms and me spilling cognac all over.

She falls into his arms, clutching him like a rock.

CONNIE: Oh, Lee.

LEE: (laughing, protecting drinks) I lost a lot of good cognac that way.

She disengages, takes a drink, sips, crying as if from relief.

LEE: Come on, sit down, little one.

He guides her to a soft rug before the fire.

CONNIE: Lee, I don’t know where to start.

LEE: Hush.

He reaches behind him and turns on an answering machine. In CONNIE’S VOICE, it says:

CONNIE: (V.O.) Lee? Lee, if you’re there, please pick up. Lee, it’s Connie. I know I promised not to phone, but Lee, this isn’t personal. It’s professional. (sobbing by now) Lee, I think I’m going crazy. I think I killed a child. I think children are going to kill me. Lee, I’m coming to Boston, I’m coming apart. Please be there.

LEE: I’m here.

She slips into his arms.

LEE: You shouldn’t be.

But he caresses her. It is clearly deeply painful for him.

LEE: This isn’t some projected political guilt, is it? You’re not taking responsibility for the starving millions of Asia? You’re not afraid the military-industrial complex is poisoning your health food?

CONNIE: (disengages, daubs eyes, with humor) No, Lee. I know we are all responsible for the masses, and I know industry is poisoning us all. It’s good of you to try to joke me around — (looks up with honest terror) — but I’m not joking.

LEE: Okay. Who did you kill, and who’s out to kill you?

CONNIE: I killed — I helped kill — a fourteen-year-old boy. And other fourteen-and-fifteen-year-olds may kill me.

LEE: I told you to stay out of secondary schools. You belong in primary schools. Or off writing history books. (a beat) Right here with me, writing history books. Teenagers would drive anyone crazy.

CONNIE: Lee, I’m serious.

LEE: You sure are, little one. You always were. That’s a dangerous thing to be. All right, sip your cognac. Tell the doctor all about it.

ON SCREEN

A clock’s hands turn.

Lee is now sitting on the couch. Connie still sits on the rug with her head on

his lap, finishing her story.
CONNIE: …and they sat there in the assembly, looking at me. Me and Kelly.
LEE: After the principal said something about the dead children’s souls.
CONNIE: Yes. And I swear, Lee, Garrison was laughing.
LEE: You’re so bright. I should never have been involved with a woman as bright as you. I never have been again.
CONNIE: Lee, what should I do?
LEE: You were never one to rely on authority. You always made up your own mind.
CONNIE: I’m bright enough to know that what I’m thinking can’t possibly be true. I’m bright enough to know when my own mind has gone out of control. I’m bright enough to recognize clinical paranoia when I experience it. I’m bright enough to seek help for it. But I’m not bright enough to stop it. I know what I saw! No other explanation makes sense!
LEE: Listen to me, Connie. Are you bright enough to get out of there, never to go back there, never to involve yourself with kids that age again?
CONNIE: Lee, if we’d had our child, it would have been that age now!
LEE: Connie, do you trust me?
CONNIE: I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.
LEE: All right. I hate to tell you this. You are in serious danger. But not from anyone else. What’s happening to you is exactly this: You are guilty because we didn’t have our child. You hate the happy bright children around you. You didn’t kill that boy; you only wanted to. Those children aren’t threatening you; you’re looking for an excuse to kill them. You do see that, don’t you?
CONNIE: I’d almost rather believe that. I’ve never experienced anything like this before.
LEE: No, little one, no. You’ve never experienced anything before. Now get out of here. Go directly home. Pack only the things you can’t live without. Get all your money you can get tonight. Leave the rest to rot. Go to another town, another state. Take a job under another name. Forget history. Forget teaching. Don’t make waves. Be a zero.
CONNIE: Lee, you’re telling me to disappear.
LEE: I’m just joking, little one. Cruel of me. But get out of there tonight. And never go back.
CONNIE: Lee, can I come here?
LEE: No. No, little one. It wouldn’t work any better this time. I’m telling you this to save you from – from madness. Get to another town. Start another life. Don’t tell anyone where you’re going. Don’t tell anyone where you came from.
CONNIE: I’ll write you.
LEE: No. Once you’re settled, call me and just leave a message that you’re all right. Call from a pay phone. I don’t want to know where you are. Don’t make me sit there again listening to you begging me to pick up the phone.
CONNIE: (getting her coat) Yes. I don’t understand. If I understood, I suppose I wouldn’t need to trust you. I’ll call you — once.
She is at the door, ready to go. She reaches for the door handle.
LEE: (stops her) Connie —
CONNIE: (hopefully) Yes?
LEE: Were you — did you have any delusion that you were followed here?
CONNIE: Followed? No.
LEE: You wouldn’t know it if you were. Goodbye, little one.
He kisses her forehead and opens the door.
Connie leaves. WE HEAR her car pull away..
Lee looks up and down at the street.
ONSCREEN
Connie’s car pulls away.
Lee closes his door.
ONSCREEN
A car parked in the shadows revs up and follows Connie with its lights off.
CONNIE’S HOME
The living room. Connie, changed for travel, and toting bags, sets them with a small pile by the door.
She goes to a desk with a small empty bag and begins looking at papers; throwing some away, stuffing others in the bag. Her manner is icy and disciplined.
Connie stuffs the last papers into her briefcase and picks up a photo of her and Lee. She debates mentally whether to take it.
Kelly approaches Connie’s door. She lays a package (videotape size) at the door, knocks, and runs
Connie drops her bag and gasps. She didn’t know how scared she was. She goes slowly to the door. She picks up the envelope, scans the street. She closes the door. She opens the envelope and takes out a videotape. Curiously, she inserts it in a player. She sits and watches.

ONSCREEN
KELLY’S TERM PAPER SEQUENCE
The term paper is read aloud in KELLY’S VOICE. Throughout, we INTERCUT and MONTAGE among:
(1) Kelly’s face, speaking the lines.
(2) Illustrations of the material, consisting of:
a. Familiar prints and paintings.
b. New animation.
c. Where possible, footage from newsreels, educational films, and old features bringing historical data to life.
KELLY’S VOICE
Hello, Ms. Escher. The period I have chosen to report on is — Eternity.
The night sky, filled with stars.
In the beginning, there was nothing in the universe —
The stars disappear.
Nothing — but a great single light of living consciousness.
The Godhead appears, a beautiful, luminous globe.
Then something happened to the universe, something scientists call the Big Bang.
Blackness, then an explosion of blinding light that spews out shimmering galaxies.
Suddenly there was matter in the universe. The Godhead was curious. It sent bits of itself out to explore matter.
Spermlike flecks of light shoot out of the Godhead. They dive through clouds to penetrate the raw matter of lifeless Earth.
And they created life.
Shots of single cells, amoebas, early plants and worms, fishes.
But the bits of the Godhead were trapped in the living things – until the living things died.
Shot of a fish gasping and dying on a beach. A fleck of Godhead light flies out of it and into space.
When an animal died, the bit of the Godhead in it could always return to the Godhead.
Streaks of light shoot through space and bury themselves in the Godhead.
But the Godhead felt sorry for the living things it had created. It chose to return again and again, to help life grow stronger and more conscious.
The Godhead. Streaks of light fly out from it. Others fly back to it. Animals evolve, ever larger, ever stronger.
Life was hard and ugly and cruel. But we could bear it, because we knew it would eventually become more intelligent – and because we could always return to the beautiful, peaceful, eternal Godhead.
Scenes of animal struggle between dinosaurs, then early mammals, and then later ones, climaxing in battling apes.
At last we thought we had succeeded. We developed human beings.
Apes develop into hominids, Neanderthals, and at last a tall, commanding true homo sapiens head.
But two mistakes had been made. First, the human beings still had too much of the animal in them —
Pull back from the proud human head to show that the true man holds a spear in one hand and the head of an enemy in the other.
– and the human brain had so much ego and imagination that it drowned out our memories of the Godhead. Everyone remembered the Godhead, but they remembered it in ways colored by their human ego and imagination.
Primitive gods of all cultures.
They depicted it in different ways. They remembered their desire to return to it, so they threw one another into flames —
Images of human sacrifice.
They fought over whose Godhead was the true one. They remembered the bliss and happiness of the Godhead and blamed each other because they had lost it. They enslaved one another in crazy schemes to reach it.
Hordes of slaves building pyramids, ziggurats, Stonehenge, temples, cathedrals.
The Godhead kept sending us back to help people learn –
The Godhead, emitting a steady stream of light aimed at the Earth.
We were born and reborn over and over again. We didn’t remember the Godhead anymore We only remembered the other lives we had lived already. We were born with all the fears and hatreds of our past lives still raging in us. Wars grew larger and larger.
Pictures of ancient battles, hideous slaughters.
The intelligence of the Godhead that was in us all was just used to make more and more horrible weapons, to conquer more territory, as every culture tried to force its distorted vision of reality on others.
Weapons: rocks become clubs become spears become bows and arrows become a whole line-up of developing guns become bombs, climaxing in an atomic bomb explosion.
Human beings conquered so much territory, developed so much science and technology, that they became the most numerous mammal on Earth.
Cities: Caves become huts become towns become castles, climaxing in huge, crowded, smoggy, crowded modern cities.
More and more souls were needed.
The Godhead, becoming smaller and smaller as it spews out souls.
Finally there were so many people that all the Godhead had been used up.
The last twinkling bit of the Godhead dissolves, sending last bits of light out. Now there is nothing but the stars.
So when we died and went back out into space looking for the blessed peace and reassurance of the Godhead, we found nothing, nothing —
A soul flies from Earth and swims crazily about in empty space.
Souls were faced with only two options: Spin in space alone forever, or return over and over to horrible human life on Earth. A few remembered the Godhead and tried to remind people of it. They were always killed by the mobs —
Socrates, Christ, other martyrs.
Most just forgot it and lived empty meaningless lives, punishing each other for their hideous loneliness —
A mother beating her children; a fight in a bar; a concentration camp.
Some decided we would never escape and tried to make life better –
Inventors, including Leonardo da Vinci, the Wright Brothers, and Einstein.
But others who remembered decided to try to rule and make the world what they wanted it to be –
Caesar, Genghis Than, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mao.
And all this time, humanity kept increasing. At last there came a time when there are more people than there are souls!
Terrified close-up of Kelly, saying-
Most people now are born without souls!
Mobs, in teeming city streets, wandering as refugees, in riots in cities all over the world.
Life became soulless, art became soulless, politics became soulless. Cities turned back into jungles.
Shots of marching mobs, street conflicts with police, heavy metal rock bands, robberies,, murders, Andy Warhol paintings, violent movie posters, homeless beggars, newspaper and magazine headlines of war, war, war, newsreels of war, war, war
A few people with souls were lucky enough to be born rich and get educated.
Shots of Macro students, just groups, not individuals.
We remember the past. We remember the Godhead. We live among soulless mobs. Some of us want to help them. Some of us want to rule them. But all of us are afraid. We think there are evil insane old souls who’d punish us if they found us, but we don’t know.
We’re born into an insane world. We’re afraid we’re insane. We’re afraid to do good. We’re afraid to do evil. We’re afraid to be alone. We’re afraid to be discovered. We do horrible things —
Headlines of Macro student deaths.
And we don’t know if there’s anyone we can trust.
Kelly’s young, frightened face.
END OF TERM PAPER SEQUENCE–END OF MOVIE
Connie sits on the floor, the remote in her hand, stunned.
LIGHTS DOWN

LIGHTS UP
Connie stands with a list in her hand.
ON SCREEN
The list.
CONNIE: (reading from list) Hardwick, Hartley, Henry, James, Knight, ah! Lindstrom!
She opens a city-map.
ON SCREEN
City map.
Connie circles the Lindstrom home in lipstick on the map.
ON SCREEN
Lindstrom Home.
LINDSTROM HOME
MR. AND MRS. LINDSTROM, well-dressed zeros, are leaving their home.
Connie runs up to catch the Lindstroms.
CONNIE: Mrs. Lindstrom, forgive my bothering you.

MRS. LINDSTROM: You did startle me.
CONNIE: I’m Connie Escher. Kelly’s history teacher.
MRS. LINDSTROM: Why, yes, she loves you. You’ll forgive us, we’re off to a concert to save the Amazon rain forest.
CONNIE: Is Kelly in? It’s about her term-paper.
MRS. LINDSTROM: (to her husband) Dear, is Kelly in? Oh, I don’t think so. I believe she’s off to study with that wonderful Garrison Hardwick. Such a nice boy. I always know I can trust Kelly with him –
But Connie has dashed to her car.
ON SCREEN
Map, Kelly’s home crossed off in lipstick, another circled
ON SCREEN
Hardwick home
HARDWICK HOME
Connie at the door. A MAID opens it.
CONNIE: Are the Hardwicks in?
MAID: No, they ain’t in. They’re at some political rally.
CONNIE: Is Garrison here? I’m his teacher.
MAID: No. I think Garrison off with his friend Tommy Carson.
CONNIE: (leafing through list) Tommy Carson. Thank you.
She walks away, already unfolding city map.
ON SCREEN
Map—several shots, each with another house circled and then crossed out in lipstick.
ON SCREEN
Fiedler house
FIEDLER HOUSE
Connie is at the door talking to MRS. FIEDLER, a matron dressed for dining-in formally.
MRS. FIEDLER: Well, actually, no, Cynthia is always busy evenings with her study-group.
CONNIE: Mrs. Fiedler, do you know where they meet? It could be important.
MRS. FIEDLER: Why, yes, at Tanya Larramie’s home. They always meet there.
CONNIE: Yes, I’m sure. Thank you.
MRS. FIEDLER: You’ll forgive me? We’re having a fund-raiser about ozone-depletion.
She closes the door.
ON SCREEN
Larramie Mansion
LARRAMIE MANSION
MR. LARRAMIE at door, talking to Connie.
MR. LARRANIE: Why, yes, of course; they all meet at the house of another student. (calls) Elsa, where is Tanya’s study-group?
ELSA: (O. S.) The Lindstrom home.
MR. LARRAMIE: Of course, yes, that’s right. At the Lindstrom home. With her friend
Kelly.
CONNIE: Of course. With Kelly. Of course.
Connie crosses off the Larramie home. She crumples the list and discards it. She looks down at the map.
ON SCREEN
Map. A dozen or so circled and canceled homes all form a semi-circle. In the exact focus of the semi-circle is –
— INDIAN CLIFFS.
ON SCREEN
INDIAN CLIFFS
A Stonhenge-like arrangement of huge stones. Same shot we saw at the top of the show, but at night. Half-dozen expensive cars parked just outside it.
INDIAN CLIFFS
A campfire in the center of the cup-shaped pit. Around the campfire, in flickering, ominous firelight, the whole History Class is present, for the first time seen out of the school uniform. They are normally-dressed for modern teenagers, but their clothes incorporate individual touches that suggest other times.
Only Kelly’s and Garrison’s speeches will be differentiated. The other students will simply be referred to as “A STUDENT.”
Garrison is more or less running the meeting. He stands in a commanding position. The others stand or sit around the campfire.
We are coming in on the middle of a concerted argument.
A STUDENT: All right! All right! I say it was a big mistake. All it’s done is cause more hassle.
GARRISON: And what do you suggest we do about it?
KELLY: Were going to stop it now.
GARRISON: Okay, everybody agree not to commit suicide, right? (indicates Kelly) Joan of Arc here orders none of us can get desperate or crazy.
A STUDENT: Easy to say.
KELLY: I’m not ordering anybody to do or not do anything. I’m just saying we have to look out for each other.
GARRISON: Spy on each other, you mean?
KELLY: No, there’s been too much of that!
GARRISON: What were you in your last life, a flower-child? What did you do, O.D. at a Love-In? Came back pretty fast, didn’t you? Maybe you’re an Old Soul!
Connie tiptoes to a spot behind a standing rock and looks down on the meeting.
A STUDENT: That kind of talk is out of order.
A STUDENT: This whole meeting is out of order. If our parents find out we’re all gone at once —
GARRISON: Dream on! That bunch of zeros. We make ‘em rich with our stock tips, and run ‘em ragged with social service. They haven’t got a clue!
A STUDENT: They will if we kill anymore.
GARRISON: We didn’t kill anyone!
KELLY: Jennifer! Corey! Floyd!
GARRISON: Jennifer was ambitious. She was going to do her term-paper on a sixteenth century nun, full of stuff nobody knows about. She would have attracted attention. That wasn’t a killing, it was an execution! And Corey was backflashing on Nazi Germany!
A STUDENT: And Floyd was just a zero.
KELLY: You don’t know that!
A STUDENT: Then what was he?
A STUDENT: He wasn’t one of us!
A STUDENT: Garrison’s right. If some Old Soul read that stuff, they’d crash down on us.
A STUDENT: Nobody with souls reads history! The smart ones only read money-market newsletters.
A STUDENT: Or else they live in secret communes.
A STUDENT: We don’t know that!
A STUDENT: Oh, you think the hippies were all wise souls!
KELLY: They may have been. There must be some good, kind old souls. We can’t assume they’re all evil. If that’s so, what are we all going to be in a few more lives?
A STUDENT: I think Kelly has a point.
A STUDENT: Yes, there might be some kind old ones out there who could advise us.
GARRISON: The ones that aren’t sadistic dictators are all crazy serial- killers. Go find ‘em! You’ll wind up on a milk-carton!
A STUDENT: I don’t believe that’s necessarily true.
A STUDENT: Yes, why do we have to go crazy or evil? I think we can stay good.
A STUDENT: We could use our money to travel all over hunting for other lost souls.
GARRISON: Cheesh, what were you last time, an African missionary?
A STUDENT: Stop that! You can’t make people tell you what they were!
GARRISON: Only because you’re afraid we’ll fight our old fights all over again.
A STUDENT: That’s a good enough reason.
GARRISON: And what were you, a blessed peace maker? Bobby Kennedy or someone?
KELLY: Well, I think I know what you were! I think you were a Nazi and you were in such a rush to kill Corey because he was a Jew in one of your prison- camps!
A STUDENT: That’s a horrible thing to• say!
GARRISON: Hey, what if I was? It’s not our fault what we’re born as, then or now.
A STUDENT: Maybe it is. Maybe the Eastern religions are true. maybe we pick up bad karma in one life and pay for it in another.
A STUDENT: Maybe we should all go into religion.
KELLY: Yes, it’s our responsibility to make life better —
GARRISON: The best way to do that would be to kill all the sheep!
KELLY: Like you killed Floyd?
GARRISON: Like we all killed Floyd!
KELLY: Well, he’s the last one!
GARRISON: Oh, what’s all this static about killing? What difference does it make? We’re all coming back over and over. What difference does it make how long you live in any one particular life? Murder’s the one crime that doesn’t do any permanent harm!
A STUDENT: We can work out ways to prolong life.
A STUDENT: For what? To live in this stinking world?
KELLY: To make it better. To find new souls!
A STUDENT: Oh, Kelly.
A STUDENT: No, I think she might be right.
GARRISON: (to Kelly) You’re crazy!
A STUDENT: Never tell anyone that!
GARRISON: She is! That’s got to be crazy! There aren’t any new souls.
KELLY: I think there are! I think there can be! There are people that are kind and think for themselves and don’t seem to have any fear or grudge against the world. I think they’re new souls.
GARRISON: Like your precious Ms. Escher?
KELLY: Don’t mention her!
A STUDENT: What about her?
A STUDENT: What about Ms. Escher?
GARRISON: Kelly’s been seeing her. I think she’s told her about us!
A STUDENT: Garrison, that’s a terrible accusation to make.
KELLY: I think she’s one of them.
A STUDENT: An Old Soul?
KELLY: No. I think she’s a New Soul. I think she’s good!
GARRISON: More likely she’s a spy for some Council of Old Souls!
A STUDENT: We don’t even know if they have a council.
A STUDENT: We don’t even know if they exist!
GARRISON: How else could the world have gotten so awful?
KELLY: Maybe from people like you!
A STUDENT: Look, this is all getting out of hand. When we first got together, all we were going to do was to fight overpopulation and pollution.
A STUDENT: Yes, there’s no reason we can’t forget all this and just, when we grow up, form a foundation or a political party —
GARRISON: Yeah, and look what happened to everybody that tried, from Socrates right down to the Sixties Socialists. Shot down! I tell you, that’s a trap!
A STUDENT: Why don’t we all just live together somewhere quietly and slowly, gradually take over bit by bit?
KELLY: We could endow schools all over the world that you can only get into if you know some simple password.
A STUDENT: Yes, then when we come back we could go into them, and over the centuries attract more and more of us.
GARRISON: And what if you’re born somewhere the hell out in a desert in a stinking mob of starving refugees? How would you ever learn the password?
KELLY: We’ve got to try! It’s not hopeless. The new souls are being born all the time. Eventually everyone will have a soul again!
GARRISON: You’re crazy!
A STUDENT: Stop calling people crazy! That’s scary.
A STUDENT: Has anybody ever thought that we might all be crazy?
GARRISON: I’ll tell you, I’m not. And I can prove it. Kelly, where’s your term- paper?
KELLY: Oh, leave me alone about my term-paper.
GARRISON: Where’s your book-bag, Kelly?
KELLY: (moving to it) What do you want with my book-bag? You’re nuts.
GARRISON: Here it is!
He grabs the book-bag, opens it, and holds it over the fire. A pencil falls out, nothing else, into the fire,
GARRISON: Anybody here got any doubts where her term-paper is? Or what it is?
KELLY: Yes, I wrote it, I wrote the whole truth and I gave it to her! This has all gone too far. We’re just kids! We need adult guidance.
GARRISON: The only adult guidance the Old Souls will give us is shock therapy!
KELLY: I think she’s new! I think she’s good! I think she can help us!
Ad lib consternation among the Students.
GARRISON: And I’ll tell you all something else. This isn’t the first time she’s done this. I’m not afraid to tell you. She was an officer in Hitler’s highest ranks, and she used a bag just like this to deliver the bomb That almost killed Hitler!
ANOTHER STUDENT: Garrison, you’re out f line!
KELLY: No. He’s right, I did. I was proud of it! I hated what Hitler was after! And I’d do it again! I won’t stand by while anyone tries to take over and run other people’s lives!
GARRISON: You took part in everything we’ve done!
KELLY: Yes, and it was the same in Germany. We all believed in him and helped him and then we realized what a monster he was. Just like you are! We have to make things better! For everyone! Because we might come back as anyone!
GARRISON: No. We don’t have to. And I can tell you all why.
ANOTHER STUDENT: Garrison, I think you’ve flipped.
GARRISON: Think what you like. Just listen. Believe me, I know what Hitler was trying to do. He was trying to kill enough people to form a new Godhead, so we could all see it and leave Earth forever.
KELLY: He was a monster!
GARRISON: No, he was crazy! he was a tool of a lot of evil Old Souls who’d been crazy for a thousand lives. He tortured people before he killed them! Instead of educating them! So they died crazy with pain and couldn’t get together to make the new Godhead! But if a group of souls who knew what they were doing died all at once, and stayed together out there, then we would never have to be born again.
A STUDENT: Kelly’s right. You’re crazy!
GARRISON: Well, whether I’m crazy or not, we all have one problem. Kelly gave our secret to Ms. Escher, and we have to do something!
A STUDENT: He’s right about that.
A STUDENT: That’s true.
STUDENTS: (variously) Come on, Kelly. Where is it? Where is she? Where’s the paper? Tell us, Kelly?
GARRISON: You left it at her office, didn’t you?
KELLY: Yes. I left it at her office. She won’t get it until tomorrow.
GARRISON: Everybody has to get over there and destroy it.
A STUDENT: Why everybody?
GARRISON: Because then you’ll all know it’s done. It’s the only way you can trust each other.
A STUDENT: God, are things that bad?
A STUDENT: I guess they are.
A STUDENT: What about Escher?
GARRISON: She has to go.
KELLY: No!
A STUDENT: What about Kelly?
GARRISON: I’ll stay here and take care of Kelly.
A STUDENT: Not another suicide!
GARRISON: No. Just another unsolved slasher murder.
A STUDENT: He’s right. Let’s get out of here.
A STUDENT: But this is the last murder.
GARRISON: Except Escher.
A STUDENT: All right, but that’s the last one.
GARRISON: Sure.
The History Class scuttle over rocks and to their cars.
GARRISON: Stick together now!
A STUDENT: He’s right. Stay close together!
Connie conceals herself.
The Students run for their cars. We hear car doors SLAM, motors REV, horns HONK.
Garrison takes a small box from his pocket, clicks a switch that lights a small red bulb on the box, and presses a button —
– KER-BOOM! The Students’ cars explode, all at once, in a tremendous burst of flame and smoke and noise.
Connie, in hiding, would scream, but a hand clamps over her mouth and a strong arm pinions her. We do not see who is holding her.
GARRISON: Bon voyage! (to Kelly) I told you, we make better bombs, now.
KELLY: You’re crazy!
GARRISON: That’s the last time you’ll say that to me. (he draws a knife) In this life, anyway.
KELLY: (looks for escape) You’ll pay for this in life after life!
GARRISON: (blocking her) There won’t be any more lives! (Waves knife indicating the flaming cars) They’ll make a new Godhead that we can find, you and I together! (grabbing her) Come on, Kelly. I’ll make it fast. Don’t be a sissy. You’ve died before.
Connie struggles to break free, but cannot break her assailant’s grip.
Garrison continues to grasp Kelly. He looks at her, almost lovingly as his hand comes up with a knife.
GARRISON: See you in Heaven. –
Garrison cuts Kelly’s throat while kissing her. Her eyes bulge as roll to the whites as her throat opens into a glistening red. She slumps to the ground.
Connie gets her face free from the hand and SCREAMS.
Garrison turns, interested. He looks up and sees her. Joy lights up his face.
GARRISON: Oh, boy. Lesbian schoolteacher slays student – then self!
He starts up at her, leaping like a goat. Connie watches in horror as he gets closer, closer, closer. Suddenly —
– two stones topple over on him, one from either side. He is trapped, bleeding at the mouth.
GARRISON: (dying) See you later…
Connie is in Lee’s embrace.
The Fourth Teacher and the teacher’s lounge Attendant stand on either side, dusting their hands off after having pushed the rocks over.
CONNIE: Lee!
LEE: You can’t even tell when you’re really being followed.
FOURTH TEACHER: Like you can?
LEE: (to Fourth Teacher and Attendant) Who are you?
FOURTH TEACHER Don’t be nosy. I’m an art teacher; here’s excellent new handmade passports and I.D. for both of you. Disappear.
ATTENDANT: (offering a small box) Here. I packed lunch.

CONNIE: (of Garrison) You killed him!
FOURTH TEACHER: I killed him. He killed her. They killed them. What are we, conjugating verbs? Get out of my face. You might get yourselves new ones.
ATTENDANT: It’s best, really.
LEE: Tell us who you are.
ATTENDANT: That would take forever.
FOURTH TEACHER: And hark! I hear sirens.
CONNIE: I have to get Kelly’s tape.
ATTENDANT: There is no tape.
FOURTH TEACHER: There never was.
ATTENDANT: (to Connie) Your bags are in your car.
FOURTH TEACHER: (to Lee) Yours, too.
The Attendant and Fourth Teacher disappear into the darkness and WE HEAR SOUNDS of a CAR STARTING and DRIVING AWAY.
Connie grabs Lee’s hand and they run to their cars.
ON SCREEN
A big billboard whose message we can’t read..
BEHIND BILLBOARD
Connie’s car is parked behind a billboard. We do not see the billboard yet. Lee’s station wagon is by the roadside.
Lee is transferring Connie’s luggage to his wagon. Connie is screwing new license plates into place.
LEE: They even gave us credit cards. –
CONNIE: They thought of everything.
LEE: (placing luggage) They’ve probably had practice.
CONNIE: (finishes and stands) Where are we going?
LEE: I hoped you knew.
CONNIE: I don’t know anything.
LEE: We all have to learn, little one.
CONNIE: I don’t even know what I am.
LEE: You’re new.
CONNIE: You knew that?
LEE: I knew that much.
CONNIE: How could you know?
LEE: I was a little kid once in Viet Nam. That’s all… I’m one life ahead of you.
She stands looking at him, trying to drink in her strange new knowledge.
LEE: (holds her close) “I’m nobody. Who are you? Are you nobody, too?
CONNIE: “Then there’s a pair of us. Don’t tell. They’d banish us, you know.”
They look at each other.
LEE: Emily Dickinson must have been new.
CONNIE: If any of this is true, we’ll look her up and ask her.
They get into one car.
LEE: What will we do?
CONNIE: I want to find the communes.
LEE: I don’t think that will be easy.
CONNIE: Easy? Of course it won’t. (she laughs) What were you, born yesterday?
The billboard revolves as WE HEAR them driving off.
The billboard reads: “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.”
CURTAIN

One Response to “DELUSION – Play by Robert Patrick and Billy Houck”

  1. RESUME/Links to Online Works « Robert Patrick's Personal Blog Says:

    […] stage from my 1993 screenplay with Billy Houck, 2004. Large cast including many high-schoolers.) https://robertpatrickpersonal.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/delusion-play-by-robert-patrick-and-billy-houc…    HOLLYWOOD AT SUNSET (My last play, 1994. Two young men.) […]

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