This Little Light of Ours

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Long ago, flower and vegetable farms existed at the base of South Mountain, south of the city of Phoenix proper, at least at the time. The fields were owned and carefully tended and watered by Japanese farmers, before and after their internment during the war. The farms are gone now, and the people have mostly moved on as the city has closed in around. The mountain remains as do the flowers growing on one solitary old farm tended by an old man and a small family of itinerants, just a Mother and her teenage son with no place to go. The old man took them in earlier in the year. They help him in return.

Characters                             

Rudy: Middle schooler. Farm boy. Chores, morning and
     evening. Ruddy cheeked. Innocent or insolent? 

Koji: Farmer. Quiet, hardworking, curious.Old man,
     lean, steely posture, grayish hair.

Mother: Single Mom. Hard working,just getting by.

HB1: Hummingbird. High energy,serene. Effervescent,sentient.

HB2: Similar, younger, less experienced in the ways of the world.

Father Ben: Elderly priest, well-meaning, well-spoken, kindly affect.

Jailer: Regular guard. Follows orders, passes it down.

Gordon: Security director, retired military, obsequious.

CEO: Reads the room, writes the script, or thinks he/she does.

Boardmember(s): Diligent, severe and servile, gray, blue suits, 
lean in toward power.                                  

Setting: Two story ramshackle farmhouse on a weatherworn
         flower farm. Flowers. In the city, but not in the city.
         Shed and chicken coop out back. Bedrooms upstairs. Kitchen
         downstairs.

Time:    Before the first frost.

(At Rise: Koji is sitting cross-legged, meditating as the sun rises on fields of flowers. Dragonflies hover on his shoulders.  A Hummingbird alights upon his knee. All look glorious as the morning sun glints off their wings’ kaleidoscopic colors. Koji slowly opens first one eye and then the other, careful not to disturb the peaceful silence. Tears stream down his face. He is beaming, light.)

  • Scene 1

KOJI

Good morning JuJu my friend. All my friends, good morning. Peace. Beautiful light.

Splendid day. Together, we are. It is so. I am happy, this day.

(Buzzing and whirring, in contrast to Koji’s deliberate, thoughtful speaking style, the creatures are excitement personified.)

HB1

Oh Koji our friend, I hope this day is wonderful for you too. Joyful, as your tears. Sweet too.

Good bye, good day, we will be back. We are happy to be with you, even more so, you are with us. Your special light.

  • Scene 2

(Kitchen table, lunchtime. Koji and Rudy wash up and sit down to at the table as Mother dishes food on their plates. They are hungry, they have been working.)

MOTHER

Eat up. Hard work means a big appetite. Ya’ll eat up now. What you working at?

KOJI

Thank you. Mrs. Mother. I eat very well since you stay here. Thank you.

                             MOTHER

You are very generous and even more, you are good to us Mr. Koji. It’s lucky, I guess, that we met you.

     KOJI

It is good. (pausing between bites) Mr. Rudy, I see jars and boxes everywhere in the shed, you got nets too? These last few months, what do you work on? What are you doing? Need help?

RUDY

Ahh, Koji don’t worry. You wouldn’t like it. Just fishin. (Evasively.) Just fishin.

KOJI

Fishing? Fishing. (Excitedly.) I know fishing. The canals used to be full of fish. So many fish to net. Maybe you/ could show me! Fish!

MOTHER

Rudy, you should take Mr. Koji fishing? Yes, let’s do that. He would love it.

KOJI

Yes. Yes, for the flowers too. We fish, flowers bloom, beautiful light, after Winter, comes Spring.

(Rudy and Mother exchange puzzled looks with each other.)

RUDY

Ok then. I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about? It’s just fishin. I hardly expected you to take an interest in that. It’s messy, I warned ya.

                                                            MOTHER

Just take Mr. Koji, son. He is good to us. You can thank him.

  • Scene 3

(Rudy is demonstrating, with a fishing rod, some fishing line and a fish hook. He has a hook in his hand.)

RUDY

Can you grab a worm for me, from that coffee can over there. A big fat one!

(Koji, delicately picks a worm out of the can between his index finger and his thumb. He carefully, gently hands the worm to Rudy.)

KOJI

This one Mr. Rudy? This Ok?

(Rudy swipes the worm out of Koji’s fingers, squeezes it tightly. It oozes as he threads the worm.)

RUDY

Just like this Mr. Koji, poke the hook through, and just slide it on. Slide into it like a poncho. Keep on trying until it’s on. (Shrugs his shoulders, matter-of-factly.)

(Beat.)

(A look of terror and horror crosses Koji’s face as he gets the game. He lets out a gasp, a wimper really, before losing all control, he begins to sob, hiding his head in his hands.)

KOJI

Nets! Why not nets? No, no. (Crying out.) Please. No. Stop. We cannot, I do not want this.

Not, anymore. Ever!

(Rudy looks at him, puzzled, mystified.)

RUDY

What’s wrong? We haven’t even started. I thought you wanted to go fishing? You feeling ok?

KOJI

No, please, go home. Mistake. Feel sick. I am wrong. Very wrong.

RUDY

Nah, we just got here. You wait in the truck if you want, I’m staying. Look at these worms a-wriggling, I got one on the hook. (Rudy begins to thread another worm on another hook.) I’m sure they’re bitin. Perfect morning for fishin.

(Koji grimaces, and shakes his head beginning to back away and move to the truck, backing up as he goes.)

Ok, suit yourself. Ya want me to bait your hook too? We got plenty worms.

(Koji keeps walking, shaking his head violently at Rudy’s suggestion, starts to run the several yards back to the truck. He continues to cry.

Rudy, shakes his head at the same time and casts his rod, the baited hook and rig plop in the canal. He pulls the line taut and sets his rod in the cradle. Talks to himself.)

I might as well use Koji’s rod too? What’s up with him, damned I can figure? He said he liked to fish?

(Fishes another worm out of the can and starts to string it on the hook he had just rigged on Koji’s rod minutes ago.)

Well, a person can still fish with two rods. Might as well. I didn’t get up at 4 in the morning to sit in the truck.

(He looks back to the truck and gestures for Koji to come back and join him.)

Come on, you’re all set. Better hurry, they’ll be biting before you know it.

(Koji, doesn’t seem to hear as his back is to Rudy, sitting in the back of the truck. Is he praying? His head is buried in his hands.)

Boy I wonder what’s up with him.

(Before he can answer, his rod bends sharply, then bounces back as the line starts to zing off the reel.)

I got one, hey Koji we got one.

(And then another, and then another. Rudy exclaims carelessly with each fish he tosses in the bucket. The morning passes.)

  • Scene 3

(Hummingbird, flying, zooming high above, spies the glittering jewel on Koji’s hand, watches him caress his JuJu, a gift from his Father, now soothing him with the call of his home. Slowly finding composure after the pain of Rudy’s ‘fishing’, he waits, resting and dreaming on the tailgate of the truck. Koji suddenly is aware his hummingbird friend has joined him. He looks in rapt awe at the ruby gilded feathers sparkling in the sunlight, on the end of his knee, his favorite spot, nearly matching the brilliant green of his JuJu. The hummingbird gazes into his eyes, still nervously buzzing his wings intermittently. Silence, then the hummingbird speaks,)

HB1

Do not be sad Mr. Koji. We are here. For you. I am here. Perhaps the light, it sent me to tell you, ‘Do not be sad Mr. Koji.’

KOJI

(Overwhelmed with emotion. Stunned. Careful not to disrupt the moment.) Hello, little one. How you are, my friend? I am so lucky. You are beautiful. How you shine in the light? How fast you can fly?

HB1

As I am honest, it is your shining jewel speaks to me! Its sparkle is a special light of magic and peace – yes, quiet and peaceful as are you. I do not know you, yet I know you? I know how you live. I know your thoughts? Your magic called the light, called me, told me what I must know.

KOJI

I do not know my own thoughts? I do not know who I am? How is it that you can know me?

HB1

Your sparkling light, tells me. Your jewel reflects your light. Life, love, light, just as you. Its love follows you wherever you go. Do not be afraid.

KOJI

What can you mean? This sparkling jewel? It is my JuJu, given me by my Father and to him by his own, and so it goes as far as I can know. It gives me peace. Though how? I do not know.

HB1

How? It is not for us to know. We just do. Just as we are. Be glad for your JuJu and let it shine. It is light.

KOJI

 (Thoughtfully, admires the creature before him. Considers his words.)

How can I share? It is my Father’s and his before him. It is ancient JuJu to us, now just me. I wonder if it brings me to you? Or you to me? Does it call you?

HB1

Perhaps it does. We cannot know. Though here we are to greet, and ponder the reason we meet.

(Beat, pause continues, then proceeding gravely in a serious hummingbird voice.)

Do you know about Rudy? His deeds? His heart? Do you know?

KOJI

I cannot speak of Rudy right now. I am sad. He said he is fishing, but, oh, I cannot think of it. It is cruel. He tortures his worms, oh I can feel their agony. I feel it. It cannot be.

HB1

(Somberly.) It is not just worms. So many more. There is so much more.

  KOJI

What? I do not understand?

HB1

When we go home, I will show you. Look for me. Remember, peace. The warm sunshine. Its light, beautiful. Look for the light to return. Look for me.

  • Scene 4

(Dinner time. Dinner bell. Sun is low. Rudy is hungry. Koji is not.)

MOTHER

So how was fishin? Looks like you caught a bunch. Rudy you best be cleaning the mess up after dinner.  Freezem. Save some for tomorrow’s dinner. Don’t expect me to do it. I got my own work, ‘stead cleaning up after you.

(Beat)

Don’t you dare make Mr. Koji do it. Hear me?

RUDY

(Mouth full.) Will, I will. I don’t think Mr. Koji’s gonna help me no matter what. He’s acting/

(Koji abruptly rises and walks purposefully out the door.)

KOJI

Excuse me Mrs. Mother. I am not hungry. Going outside.

(Koji exits.)

  RUDY

Strange, I don’t know what’s up with him. One minute, I’m putting a worm on his hook this morning, next thing I know I look up he’s cryin, bawling his head off, running for the truck. Didn’t see him all morning. He’s weird. Strange / he’s light in the head.

MOTHER

Rudy, stop. He’s our friend. He’s the only light we got right now. Without him? Where would we be?

(Looks askance at Rudy, sternly.)

Answer me that?

RUDY

Aww Ma, come on.

MOTHER

Shush, you heard me.

  • Scene 5

(In the dying light of a setting sun, the doors to the shed are open wide. Koji is kneeling, weeping at the sight of the collection of myriad creatures hanging on the wall, stacked in boxes, enclosed in jars, stuck on pins, birds, snakes in cages, insects, creatures of all types. Koji busily, frantically tries to rescue the creatures still alive, trapped, suffocating, in the empty air of 100’s of sealed jars. As he is working to unscrew them one at a time, the hummingbird arrives.)

HB1

So you know? You found, him? You found Rudy’s darkness, his secret?

(Koji looks up, surprised, though with relief.)

  KOJI

Oh, it’s you. Friend hello. Did not expect you. I am glad you are here. It is late. The light is dying. Help me. Help us. Hurry.

HB1

So it is. The sun is setting on this day. We will make a new day, together. Let me show you. I, we, yes we will help you.

(Koji is puzzled, pauses his work, before hurrying to empty the collection of creatures sealed in Rudy’s shed.)

  • Scene 6

(The boxes jingle with the sound of glass, shuffling and jangling. Koji is carrying boxes balancing carefully up the steep wooden stairs. He is tiptoeing up the stairs in the pre-dawn darkness balancing large boxes and bags. Only a few more steps, and then across the threshold, he quietly opens the door to Rudy’s room.)

KOJI

(Whispering.) Soon my friends, we’re almost free. Here we are.

(The orange glow through the window foretells dawn’s light is near.)

Here we are. (He whispers.) Why am I whispering? Why am I whispering to you?

(In Rudy’s room now, he opens the boxes, first one, then another, magically he is able to unscrew each jar and they are all opened. You can hear the buzzing excitement. There are dozens of dozens of jars. Each one contains cockroaches, crickets, spiders, even flies, too many to name, or even count. Some big, some small. And lizards. They twitch in every direction.  There is a buzzing, a low vibration is everywhere.)

RUDY

(Stirring fitfully from his sleep, rubbing his eyes, awakens in a daze.)

Hey, what’s going on? Ma is that you? Who is it?

  HB1

(Buzzing the spell of mesmerizingly slow 2am, REM sleep.)

It is nothing, just a dream, back to your sleep you go. Fly, fly away, to sleep.

  RUDY

Oh, so tired. (Drifts off to sleep again, snoring gently.)

  KOJI

                              (Returning his attention to his friend in the jar, joyfully.)

Shhh. That was close. Yes, remember? You remember the light?

(He tips the jar on its side and watches as a cockroach crawls slowly out. Then skitters away, into the dark.)

Come on my friend. Hurry, hurry it’s almost light. You are free again. Breathe, free.

(He repeats the process, again and again and again. So many.)

Oh my friend, I am too late for you?

(One cockroach tumbles out, rattling across the glass, dry and dead.)

Oh my friend. I am sorry. I pray for you.

(Beat, then under his breath.)

Pray for me too?

HB1

Come my friend. The sun is near. It is almost light. We must go.

(Koji tiptoes down the stairs with the HB1 hovering behind. Two iridescent, transcendent figures/glows descend the stairs out the front door of the farmhouse.)

  • Scene 7

(Dreaming he is being attacked, Rudy awakens restlessly in the pre-dawn, scratching and slapping his skin. There is a low-level buzzing in the room.)

RUDY

Hey Ma, you leave the windows open? Come on! I’m getting eaten alive. Hey, (startled), what are all these boxes? My room? /Mom, my bugs? Did you dump them in my room!

(He’s yelling, panicking as he finishes his question?)

MOTHER

What honey? Get down here. You’re late. Again! You got chores. I don’t want you to be late, again. Come on we leave, what less than an hour!

  RUDY

But Ma, where’s my bugs? The empty jars, boxes, my zoo, it’s upstairs. Empty / And there’s bugs everywhere. My bugs!

(Mother’s eyes go big, round as saucers, as she spies a giant spider on the ceiling above the kitchen table. As she moves for the broom a cockroach skitters across the clean floor of her kitchen.)

MOTHER

Rudy, get down here, now. (Screaming.) When I get my hands on you, I’m gonna smash you like a bug. Don’t talk to me about bugs, what are they doing in the house, tell me, tell me, you…

RUDY

What are you talking about? Why are my bugs in here? You?

MOTHER

Get down here. They’re everywhere. (Screaming and running wildly, vainly with the broom.)

RUDY

My bugs? Why are they in the house? Did you do this, Ma? You crazy? Don’t touch my stuff.

MOTHER

What are they doing in the house? Our house! Can’t believe you’re my kid? I told you, it’s either them or me. Gettem outta here! Now! (Screams) There’s a cockroach. Eeeie, there’s another spider on the wall. There’s flies buzzing everywhere. Damn you, you’re no son of mine. Get them outta here. Good riddance.

You know I hate you keeping those things. Your zoo! (Reproachfully) When you finish your chores get yourself back here, help me clean these things outta here.

(Continuing in a lecture.)

This is our home now, boy. You hear me. This is all we got.

(Shakes her head, thoughtfully continues wistfully yet reproachfully as her voice trails off.)

If your dad was still alive.

  • Scene 8

(Rudy sits on his bed with his boots. He frowns, closes his eyes, grits his teeth in concentration. He is oblivious to all else. Then, grumbling he pulls his boots on and heads for the door and his chores, complaining.)

RUDY

Ma, if you did something with my bugs, dammit/I’m gonna, I’m gonna, (sputtering as he heads outside)

    MOTHER

Keep your mouth shut or I’m gonna get the soap, now get to them chickens. Now.

(Muttering to herself as Rudy is out of earshot by the end of her threat. Rudy heads to the barn, still grumbling.)

RUDY

(To himself.) But they’re mine. Nobody touches my stuff. Those bugs, they’re mine, nobody tells me what to do. Whoever did this is scum.

(He vents his anger slamming the kitchen door shut. Arriving at the shed he realizes the doors are wide open. The chickens are scattered and gone, but they’ll be back. Inside though, his zoo, his collection of bugs and animals, a menagerie/a prison is in disarray, jailbreak really, with boxes strewn everywhere, open jars laying haphazardly around the shed. His collection has been trashed. It’s chaos.)

Mommmmmm! (He screams, bewildered.) You better come quick. Call somebody, Ma, Ma. We been broke into. Thieves, scum.

(Screaming, he collapses to his knees in the open door to the shed.)

  • Scene 9

(Mom arrives breathlessly, impatiently after hurrying out of the kitchen to the shed.)

MOTHER

What is it? What is it now? We got bugs to kill.

(She sees the mess and shakes her head.)

Whatever did you do? I should never have let you spend so much time alone out here. What have you done boy?

  RUDY

It’s not me Ma. Somebody trashed my stuff. Mine. We been robbed? They must have hauled all my bugs into the house, into my room, how could they do that? Why would someone do this to us? To me? Would take hours, and I didn’t even wake up. Where’s Koji? Is he in the house?!

(Rudy disappears, in the direction of the house. Mother gasps as she spies a glowing. Something is lighting the hay right in front of where they are standing.)

What is this? This? Is it Koji’s JuJu? It’s Koji’s? It’s Koji. Where’s Koji? What is happening? What is happening!?

(She begins to cry. She is alone. Rudy has gone back to the house. Chaos.  Two luminous figures float above and out of the barn, into the morning light. There is the smell of smoke, looking behind she sees the house in flames, in the pre-dawn darkness.)

  • Scene 10

(Later, high on the broken twig of a tree overlooking fields of flowers at sunrise sit two hummingbirds, glowing and buzzing, happy with their perch.)

 KOJI

I always wanted to fly. Sometimes I dream I am flying.

  HB1

You fly now. You always have. You always shall. Peace. Beautiful light.

(Pauses, looking at Koji.)

Is that a tear Koji? Don’t cry friend.

KOJI

(Smiling.)

I am happy.

————————————————————————————————-

————————————————————————————————-

  • Scene 11

(Years later, seated in an elegant dining room, white linen, waiters in formal serving attire, and an impeccably serviced table with perfect ‘Thanksgiving dishes’ before them, Mother has aged in a dignified fashion, Rudy is doing very well, dressed formally, they finish a prayer, and toast.)

  MOTHER

Praise be. The Lord has blessed us son. I so enjoy our early Thanksgiving dinners, I don’t see you much anymore. You’re so busy, and/

RUDY

Oh, Mother, looks who’s talking. You flew in from El Paso last night, before that you were in Florida a month, Phoenix mosta summer. You should slow down. Really, you should?

MOTHER

I know, but our work is important. Think of the children, their Mothers, don’t start me crying. You’ve been so generous though.

RUDY

Still, Mother. It’s taken a toll on you, these protests, mobs of people, the weather, and it’s dangerous. I worry.

MOTHER

Thank you, thank you, that’s all I can say. I’ll be ok.

                         (Beat.)

By the way, I know Father Ben thanks you too. He asks about you all the time? He’s known you since you were a baby. Can’t I tell him? He would want to thank you.

RUDY

No, I’d rather just you and I know, about my offerings. Let’s keep it secret. I must insist Mother, you know that right? Money would just complicate things.

MOTHER

It’s so much money though. All our travel, lodging, signs, the food kitchens, you’ve made it all possible. With your tithes we haven’t wanted for anything. Before, we’d sleep in our cars, and we’d starve, nothing compared to those kids locked up, but still/

RUDY

Mother, just promise me you will cut back, stay safe, hell stay home! You can still organize and still contribute from home. You’re too old to be protesting on the street.

MOTHER

Don’t curse, I will try. We are all trying to be smarter. Our protests. We’re learning. We’re going right to the Devil hisself now. When the contractors have their board meetings? We know where they meet? The Devil thinks he can hide, but God is on our side. God will win out, his light will shine.

RUDY

(Under his breath)

If there is a God.

(Beat.)

How you talk Mother. This is the way life has always been. There’s always been power and there’s always been money, that’s all, that’s if you got it. If you don’t, well, you’re trapped, you give up your freedom. You’re just a worm, you’re nothin really. Like we used to be. Remember? How could you forget? I never will. We didn’t even have money for a turkey, living on that flower farm, that fire trap?

(Voice trails off, he’s dreaming of more difficult times. He closes his eyes, grimaces briefly, then returns his attention to his Mother.)

We were trapped, nowhere to go. Then, that was then. Now’s different. I’m in control.

MOTHER

Thanks God, Koji saved us. And the church. After the fire, after Koji died, what happened to him, those days still scare me. Remember that night? The fire? That morning is a fog really, it’s like a dream, a nightmare really.

(Frowning)

RUDY

And? And?

(Impatiently. Preening.)

And now? Look at us? Me? I’ve done ok?

MOTHER

Yes, yes of course the church scholarship, your business degree. You made it. I’m so proud of you. Father Ben, he asks? (She clutches her beads.) You know, the church scholarship, I never could have paid for college! Come back and visit? Please?

RUDY

Mother, we talked. You know I can’t. My work. Promise me you will take it easy next year? Promise? I’ll double my contributions, (hesitates) my tithes, but you promise you’ll cut back? Stay home. I bought you that house, but you’re never there. Let others protest? So stupid (under his breath) bastards, enlightened protest my ass, they’re scum.

MOTHER

I heard that. Don’t swear, it’s Thanksgiving. I’m glad — you call it tithing. It’s in the bible you know. Do you really think you could? You have no idea, what it would mean. Dear God, (she clasps her beads) That would be almost our entire budget, Lord knows what we could do, oh Rudy, my boy, I love you. My dear boy. (Reaches across the table to clasp his hands.)

RUDY

Yeah Mom, just promise me.

(Exasperated, seeing he is getting nowhere.)

Ok, say hello then. But promise me Mother, you’ll keep me out of this, my money’s a secret, just between us? Promise? Secret. No exceptions. Tell me so or I swear, I’ll cut you off. And that church. The damn church too. I’m serious.

MOTHER

 (Nods her head, does the sign of the cross, closes her eyes in prayer, her beads, fearfully. Rudy looks first at her, then away coldly, or numbly, calculating?)

 Rudy, don’t ruin it, talk like that. Please.

  • Scene 12

(Board Room, dark wood paneling, brass fixtures, silver coffee service, secretaries quietly tending to 4 or 5 gentlemen in dark blue suits, seated around a table, comfortable chairs, looking aged, greedy and affecting wisdom. Rudy is presenting. Affected southern drawls are presumed? Especially by Rudy.) 

RUDY

We are excited to share our proposal, Operation Preservation, with you today. Our country is under threat and accordingly our mission must be to eliminate and contain this threat in order to preserve our country for the future. This is Xenothon’s opportunity. So, let’s talk turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way. (Discreet chortles.) Speed, gentlemen. We must act fast to transform our assets into force multipliers, for the country, and for our shareholders. What do I mean?

I’m glad you asked. Ha. Currently, as you know, our ‘private room policy’ is holding us back. Liberal nonsense like this has us trapped in a cage. We need to think outta the box. Here’s our proposal! We convert our storage facilities to dormitory style. Instead of 1 or 2 to a room, this is a force multiplier transforming our ability to realize the full potential of our investment, quintupling, maybe even more, the number of, ahem, ‘clients’ from 1 or 2 to as many as 20 clients per room. This is an enormous force multiplier. Xenothon will dominate in our industry AND we’ll be saving the country! Preserving it for the future. Our future. Ours. For Xenothon.

I know you have questions, of course you do. Allow me to anticipate some of them. First, capital, yes of course we will need to invest, to tear down walls, convert fancy private rooms to dorm rooms, that sort of thing. Repurpose the big boxes to protection facilities. But this is a one-time cost that will keep paying us back for generations.

It’s all in your briefing books:

  • The payback? Hardly be six months.
  • The rate of return? Through the roof.
  • Our revenues will scale, of course. And,
  • Our profits! Well that’s the sweet spot! It’s all ours.

We protect the country AND we lock up an almost unimaginable future for Xenothon.

By the way, with cost controls we can do even better. You have my word. It’s exciting. After barely a half millennium in America, look who we done?

                            (Beat.)

Talking turkey boys just between us of course, but the key to keeping America safe? (pause) Keep the enemy, the others, out. If not out, then down. Right, gentlemens? I ask your support.

BOARDMEMBER

Excuse me. Rudy, time for a question?

RUDY

Certainly, fire away.

BOARDMEMBER

That capital investment, that’s a lot of money. Will our client, the government, (Gubmint) reimburse us for that? I mean for the good of the country, of course.

RUDY

Absolutely. We’re all over that. We will recoup our full capital investment, 100%, with the sale of Patriot Bonds. It will take a year or two, but we’ll come out without having spent a cent. Meanwhile, we make billions for as far as the eye can see. We call it Operation Preservation, right? Our own, as much as anyone’s.

CEO

Thank you, Rudy. Thank you very much. I know there will more questions, there’ll be time, it does sound almost too good to true, taking all this empty warehouse and big box space, buying it up cheap, turning it into shelter space for these, for these, for our ‘clients’, their care and protection, their security of course. With a guaranteed profit and revenue stream accruing to Xenothon’s future, our shareholders of course, far into the future and beyond.

(Remembering.)

Oh, and the country too.  But we must act fast. Anyway, Rudy, I know I speak for the board as well, when we promoted you to CFO and Comptroller we were locked in the past. But you’ve found us the key. Who knows? The sky is the limit now.

(Applause)

So let’s take 30 minutes, take care of business, and then come back with questions. I know we’ll get your approval. Thank you.

(Break – milling round, pats on the back, chortling, talk of First Class versus private jet service, etc., when suddenly there is a visitor, in a cheap blue suit and a too tight tie and collar, looking for the CEO. Gordon, Director of Security enters whispering to the CEO.)

CEO

Rudy, excuse me but could you join us over here for a minute? Please? Thanks, Gordon informs me his guards have had a scuffle with the protesters downstairs, seems they were blocking egress, or some such. Anyway, Gordon, what did you need from us?

GORDON

All copasetic, sir. We’re workin with the locals, our people greasin their people, you know, we got a pretty good relationship with the local PD here. Anyway, we had to hold a few of the protesters, some of the unruly ones. Troublemakers, you know the type.

RUDY

Gordon, hi there, excuse me but what’s the problem?

GORDON

Hi boss, I really didn’t want to bother you with this, but (hesitates) one of the ladies says you’re her son?

RUDY

Gordon. Gordon, remember you work for me, right? Can we cut to the chase here? Oh, and Gordon, I’m telling you this better be good.

GORDON

Sorry sir, I really am. But we’re interviewing the detainees, the protesters, getting their information, next of kin, that sort of thing, it’s an emergency of course. One of them pops off sayin you’re her son? Says she’s your Mother! She’s hysterical. So, my guard asks her name, and whatdya know it’s the same, as yours of course, same name, and you know it ain’t public. We’re private.

(Beat)

And I am so sorry sir, so sorry, guard mentions you, your name, you work here. He was outta line. But she hears it, your name and she faints. She just heard your name Rudy, that’s all. We caught her as she fell. She’s with medics now. But I thought you should know, she swears. She swears. I swear she does.

RUDY

Gordon, cut the shit, what did she say, your point, what’d she say?

GORDON

Sir, she swears you’re her son Rudy, she swore it up and down, the doctor is talking to her, my guards are hearing it. You should know.

(Shaking his head, blustering, confident, determined, yet frustrated.)

RUDY

Nonsense. My Mother’s back home, she’s miles away from here. It’s a common enough name, it’s a mix up I’m sure of it. Coincidence, light’s playing tricks, ridiculous. Ha.

(Convincing himself as he speaks, still he comes across as confident and unflustered, if frustrated.)

GORDON

Sir, though, if you have a minute sir, perhaps, maybe you could come with us. Get a look at her, sir? I’d feel better for my men, knowing what they heard. We won’t embarrass you, we’ll be discreet, but if you could, if you could just, if you could see her? Have a look.

CEO

Of course, Gordon, of course, Rudy will be happy to. I’ll stay here and cover with the board for you, Rudy. Great job. Take your time, plenty of time, you already won. The board.

(Grabs his shoulder and pats his back.)

All they want to know is where to sign, but you go with Gordon. Won’t take long. I’m sure. We got this.

  • Scene 13

(Gregg and Rudy enter a small space with, a doctor/nurse, security guard, attending to Mother.)

MOTHER

Rudy, Rudy?

(Delirium collides with lucidity, recognition.)

Oh, Rudy. You’ve come to save me. These men, so rough. I’m not young.

(Beat)

Rudy, how are you here? That suit? Cost you thousands? Rudy? Rudy?

(The dark realization, dawns on her, perhaps she suspected, though now it is manifest. She continues.)

How did you get here? So, so fast?

Rudy, this is Xenothon? You? Rudy, it is you? How could this be? This shame is you? Your company? You! You? Those families? Those kids? Just little babies.

NO Rudy, no, it can’t be. My son.

(Mother collapses. Rudy makes no attempt to reach out. Remains impassive, confident, pretends shock and puzzlement, embarrassment. Shakes his head, disgusted, his most genuine emotion.)

RUDY

Well, Gordon. Carry on. Don’t believe her. You’re right, she’s not all here. You know what to do. Lock her up. Lockem all up. Can’t be making exceptions for this nonsense. It’s business, and these people have no business standing in our way. Give me a day, I’ll decide whether to file charges. The protestors they hire nowadays? Hollywood should be proud. I’ll head back now. Thanks, y’did the right thing, now get these lawbreakers outta here. Let me know you need anything. Anything. Give my best to the wife and kids?

GORDON

Yessir. Sorry to bother you sir. We’ll send her downtown. Again, so sorry sir. The nerve of that woman, accusing you. Imagine that, you being her son. The balls. We’ll tell the boys downtown, they’ll take care of her. Lawbreakers, protestors, scum.

            (Shakes his head. Spits.)

————————————————————————————————-

————————————————————————————————-

  • Scene 14

RUDY

Hello Father Ben, thank you for meeting me like this.

FATHER BEN  

No problem my son, I was surprised to hear from you. It’s been so long. Coffee? I alreadyordered a pot. Black?

RUDY

Sure, thanks. Black is fine. Yes it has/

Been 25 years give or take. At least.

FATHER BEN 

At least indeed. Since those days, oh it’s been so long ago when your Mother came to us, and you too. She was a blessing. Your Mother, she truly blessed us.

(Beat)

And you too? Are you doing well. You look well?

(Catches himself, admiring Rudy’s expensive suit.)

So sad to see your Mother pass over. Such a wonderful woman, a visionary really, surely to our church. You must be proud.

RUDY

 Yes. I am. Of course. I miss her. Who knows, she’s still with us Father, don’t you think?

(Pauses, sips his coffee.)

Thank you for the kind words at her service. You are very generous.

FATHER BEN 

What’s this? You were there?

RUDY

Yes, I sat in the back, came in late, left early. I had to pay my respects, I didn’t want to cause a fuss. Been so long.

FATHER BEN 

Why the mystery?

RUDY

No mystery, I just thought/ didn’t want to be conspicuous.

FATHER BEN 

You know, she was never quite the same after the visit to that company, their headquarters. What’s it called, starts with an “X”. Odd how evil gets named? What they did in that jail, who knows? When she got back home, I visited her maybe a week later, only last month, and she looked so pale, so fragile. She couldn’t even stand? She was just, I shouldn’t say, but she seemed broken. An angel still, but so frail. Flickering like a candle.

RUDY

You don’t know? Really, she never told you what happened?

FATHER BEN 

Oh, I have my suspicions. We’ve seen how cruel these officers are to migrants, firsthand, lord only knows they won’t treat us protesters any better, maybe worse? Their attitude is how dare we? Right? We’re criminals too, just because we want to take care of people in need? Is that so wrong?

                                   (Beat.)                                                

Such a good woman. What did they do to her?  What will the church do? What will we do without her. We’ll pray. We’ll have to pray.

RUDY

 (Quiet long, pregnant silence, as both men reflect.)

Father, there’s something I need to tell you. I am not sure I should though, (hesitates) after what happened to Mother.

FATHER BEN 

Whatever can you mean, “what happened to Mother”. What do you know? Of course, we know they humiliated her, crushed her spirit, her spirit Rudy, she lived her spirit and they crushed it. Those guards they destroyed it, they might as well have killed her themselves, right there.

(Beat, sips coffee.)

But wait. What’s this, you didn’t you want to be seen, in church for her funeral, your Mother’s funeral, you said you didn’t want to be conspicuous? I don’t think anyone, not even me would have recognized you? Why so bashful? Secret even? Why? What aren’t you telling me?

RUDY

(Reflecting and pausing.) I never forgot that night. The flower farm. The place went up in flames. Did they ever find the cause? Spontaneous combustion? Culprit more likely? Did Koji ever come back?

FATHER BEN 

No, I don’t know that they did. Nobody tried too hard of course. No, never heard from Koji either, that I know. You say he ran off. Some say he burned up in the fire. We never found him.  Just a mystery, the fire, Koji’s disappearance. Left an odd glow over the town for a long time.

RUDY

I think he burned it down himself. He was acting strange, for awhile there, even before that night, the fire. It left Mom a wreck though, until you saved us. Can’t imagine what would have happened. I nearly starved. Then you found us. The food kitchen was paradise, especially that first few weeks.

FATHER BEN 

Well, your Mother had a lot to do with that, special lady. She took our tiny church, turned it into a peace train — for the poor, the needy, under-privileged, and now look at the force for justice our church has become. We’re in every western state! All because of your Mother.

(Sees Rudy looking down into his hands. Beat.)

You do know the story don’t you, about your Father? She never forgave herself.

RUDY

What do you mean? You knew my Father? You know about him? Tell me, you have to tell me. What do you know? This has been a mystery to me Father?

FATHER BEN 

You don’t know do you? I think she would want you to know now. It’s sad though. So sad. She never forgave herself.

RUDY

Tell me, Father, you must. I had no idea. How long have you known? Tell me.

FATHER BEN 

It nearly killed your Mother, it was way back, you were a baby, not even a year old? She told me, she was in one of her states, there at the end, maybe delirious? But she seemed lucid, even though she was somewhere else, after they released her from jail I mean?

                             (Pause, pensive, apprehensive, decides to continue.)

You were just a baby. Your Mother had to decide between you and your Father.  They got stopped while driving, didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t even know how they got together, but your Mother had to decide between you or your Father. He didn’t have papers. Imagine that? She had to choose? Yet she had no choice. Must have been terror of that night, forced to decide. Who knows what one would do? What one could do? Cruel really. Cruel. Yes.

(Beat, drifting off. )

It was him or you, she had to decide. Deport with him, leave you behind. Or. Stay behind with you. Pray. Somehow. One day. You will all be reunited?

(Beat.)

It wasn’t to be though. After they were separated, your Father came up dead, who knows how, or who? Nothing. She got a call. Someone, maybe la migra found her number on the back of a picture? Her picture! In his wallet when he died. After he passed. All I know. All she, your Mother told me.

RUDY

She never spoke of my Father, ever, even when I asked. Quite a lot I asked when I was younger. She’d tell me she didn’t know, and change the subject.

FATHER BEN 

She never forgave herself. I’m sure of it. She never spoke of it with me either, just this last week was the only time, after they let her out of jail. Such a heavy burden for her.

(Beat.)

Somehow she found salvation through her work in the church. She was a living sacrifice for the voiceless, especially the travelers, with no place. Those on the edge, she was like their light?

                         (Beat.)

And if you helped, if you were somehow her light? Well, God bless. God bless you Rudy.

 RUDY

(Nods, then a long, pensive silence.)

Yes, her work. Her work. So, you’re telling me she did this, all of these protests, this social justice work, with the church? (Hesitates, a light is dawning.) For my Father?

FATHER BEN 

Who can read a heart, her spirit was as pure as there is. Maybe she did it, she sacrificed, maybe to make amends. Somehow. Who knows.

(Beat)

It’s not right though, she had no choice, not her fault there’s evil. I am sure she wanted to make things over, better, somehow. Now they’re reunited.

(Beat)

Now you remain behind. Who knows, maybe to continue her good work? No, I’m sorry Rudy, that’s for you to decide.

RUDY

(Again, a silent pause.)

Father, I think I have a confession for you.

FATHER BEN 

Please my son. Your heart must be heavy.

RUDY

No, not like that. Not at all like that. I came to tell you that I am the one. It’s me. The one who has been her benefactor. So the church’s too, then. I never cared what she was doing with the money. She was occupied, it seemed she took satisfaction from it, if money helped, hey it’s a small price to pay, your Mom’s happy, right? I was glad to do it.

(Beat.)

Now, Mother is gone, I know her Will gave everything to the church. After that’s gone Father, well I hadn’t planned on continuing. I did it for her, not the church. My plan was to be honest, tell you now, today.  I miss her, so do you. We all will.

(Beat.)

It’s good to know you feel so positive about what she, and the church of course, were able to accomplish. But she is gone now, so you’ll need to find someone new. A new honeypot.

FATHER BEN 

Oh Rudy, that’s devastating to hear. I am praying you will reconsider. At least for awhile as we come to terms with this, with your decision. Your Mother was a fine woman, an icon of charity in the congregation. She was like God’s light on this earth. She really was. I am sure she’d be disappointed. And she’s say so.

(Beat.)

Wait though, I’m curious Rudy. Maybe you can tell me, what was she speaking of? When she came back from the protest, after her arrest, she was so sick. She was not right in the mind. She was telling people she had seen you there? She was maybe, not coherent, not all there, confused, we never understood her. At that company’s board meeting, why would she say she’d seen you? She said, she saw you? Saw you there, at the board meeting. Xenothon. That’s the name.

(Shudders.)

RUDY

(Long pause.) Xenothon is my company. Yes, she saw me. It was me she saw. It’s true. She and her gang of protesters, that scum, were heckling our people, my board. I told the police, take them away. I can’t be making exceptions, especially when our company is based on the rule of law.

(Looks down as the memory and the realization dawns, becomes distraught yet somehow retains control, clenches his jaw, before he blurts out, in a shriek.)

I denied her. I denied even knowing her. My Mother. I turned away, I sent her away, I jailed my Mother. Father, I put my own Mother in jail!

(Beat.)

This. This is my confession. Really, this is my confession, Father. My Mother thinks she killed my Father? She Did. Not. God bless her. But me? (Sobs, shrieks.)

(Beat.)

I killed my Mother. I did, I did. I killed my Mother. I denied her, I sent her to jail and I killed her. My own Mother.

  • Scene 15

(A month earlier, in a jail cell, a small holding cell, a very cold cell.)

JAILER

There’s someone here for you lady.

(Startled, stops weeping.)

MOTHER

Who could it be? Who? For me?

(Light footsteps, approaching, Mother looking around bewildered, tear-stained face. In walks, or floats, Koji, in casual dress, perhaps a robe, with an emerald seeming to glow on the finger of one hand.)

Koji, is that you? Gasps, why I thought you were dead? Since the fire? Where have you been? Oh, forgive me,

(Collapsing to her knees again.)

Am I blind? What is this? Who is this I see? What is happening to me?

KOJI

Oh Mrs. Mother, do not be afraid. Do not be sad. I come to take you away. Take you to the light. Back to the light. It’s almost morning.

(He takes her hand, together they walk serenely into the light, and out of the jail.)

It is well. It is well Mrs. Mother. I have much to share. Someone else too. Someone else needs to see you. We must hurry.

(He smiles. Mother’s face begins, slowly, to lighten.)

  • Scene 16

(After leaving Father Ben, Rudy walks down a busy street. He is buried by guilt, lost in his thoughts. His eyes are almost closed in gritty concentration. He tries to will forth a rational explanation, a business solution, now confronted with long hidden truths. He bumps into another person on the busy sidewalk.)

RUDY

Hey look out. Sorry, hey, watch where you’re going?

(Spies a park bench in a garden on a side street, an escape from his thoughts, traffic, sits down on the bench. Gritty, almost panicky concentration. Then. He is suddenly overcome with a sense of déjà vu as Koji appears.)

What is happening to me?

KOJI

Hello Rudy.

RUDY

(Unbelieving, refusing to comprehend, Rudy closes his eyes, grits his teeth, and grimaces into his business thinking, his reptilian mode.)

What is happening to me?

KOJI

Hello Rudy. Why do you resist me? I have someone who wants to talk to you?

RUDY

You’re dead. Or I’m crazy, and that’s possible. But, you burned yourself and our farm up back then.

KOJI

Rudy, we both know I did not burn up. I did not even start the fire.

(Pause.)

Did I Rudy? Oh, and it was my farm, no?

RUDY

 (Astonishment) Then it is you? Where am I? What is happening to me?

(Enters Mother, she is dressed plainly, her face a mix of tears and joy.)

MOTHER

Rudy, do not be afraid. What is happening is the light is happening. Open your eyes? Why must you retreat into yourself, into darkness. We can see the black clouds on your closed-eye face?

RUDY

Mother? Mother? Is it you? But you’re gone. Your funeral. (Preening.) I was there?

MOTHER

You can see so much more, with your eyes open.

(Beat. Mother does not take her eyes off Rudy even as he struggles to sustain his gaze.)

Rudy, I love you.

RUDY

Oh Mother. I am so sorry. (Breaks down in tears.) Can you forgive me? Ever? I don’t, don’t deserve it. What was I thinking? What happened to me?

MOTHER

Nothing to forgive. My Rudy. You are my only son, my family, we’re together now, you know. Your dark will awaken to the light.

KOJI

Rudy, do you remember? I always wonder? Why you close your eyes and growl frown? When you are thinking it seems? Does it hurt? Do you hurt?

RUDY

I feel light right now, like a weight lifted. I close my eyes, to hide. My doubt. I make it disappear from me? If I try, I can convince myself. I can do anything, solve anything, protect myself from anything. Just me, all by myself. No one else to help me. That’s what I learned in business. Get a lawyer and an accountant and just concentrate, on the bottom line. Of course. (More preening.) Hey, I was #2 at the biggest private prison company in the world. We created an industry Mother!

(Looks around, at Koji, and then gazes long at his Mother. They do not respond. They are unconvinced.)

It doesn’t always work though, does it?  Look at what I have done, how I have failed, at what’s important, the only things that matter, for my Mother, my Father too, the church, and you Koji? You know what I have done, don’t you? You know better than I.

(Beat.)

Can you ever forgive me? Mother?

MOTHER

 I know. I know. Of course. Come here.

 (They embrace, for the first time in years, a real embrace.)

RUDY

Oh Mother. I didn’t know. You didn’t tell me. About Dad. Why couldn’t you tell me?

MOTHER

Now you know. His light was never in a bottle though Rudy? He’s always been with me, us?

(Suddenly, a thousand lights illuminate like fireflies, in the sky, in the ocean, even the ground.)

KOJI

Rudy, do you see the light?

RUDY

Do I? How could I not see?

KOJI

Lo, these many years, with your eyes closed, somehow you managed?

RUDY

But how? What makes the light?

MOTHER

Your heart. The light is in your heart.

KOJI

Remember the Flower Farm? Remember the light across the fields of flowers? It remains in my heart always. It is your heart too, son.

RUDY

 (Looks puzzled.) But how? In my heart?

KOJI

You try. It is there for you, the light. Feel the light.

RUDY

(Closes his eyes, grits his teeth, and concentrates. It goes dark.)

KOJI

No Rudy, not like that. Keep your eyes open. Now think,

(Pause.)

No, feel with your heart. With your heart you can light the world.

RUDY

(Opens his eyes, looks at Koji and his Mother, slowly a smile comes to his face. And slowly, the lights begin to flicker again, surrounding them in a warm glow. A loving glow.)

KOJI

With your heart you can feel. And if you feel, you can light the world.

  • Scene 17

(HB1 and HB2 resting on a perch overlooking pristine desert, snowcapped mountains, pure blue skies, and the not yet visible glint in the dark gray blue of the pre-dawn minutes. Edward Abby Desert Solitude stuff, red rocks.)

HB 2

(Impatiently.) What are we doing? What are you doing? Why are we here?

HB 1

Hi there? Good morning. Of course, it’s been a long time? Hasn’t it? Why, naturally, we are waiting for the light, the sun to rise.

HB 2

Really? Seems like I’ve been here before?

HB 1

You have been here before. Of course, you have. The light always returns. And so do we, if we are lucky.

HB 2

How can you be so sure, I mean the light will return? It’s chilly in this darkness.

HB 1

Patience. Keep your eyes open, and your heart smiling. Together, we will light the world.

HB 2

I admire your confidence. I wish I could be so certain.

HB 1

You have been gone for awhile. Sometimes the light loses us, misplaces us. And then in a drop of dew we are caught in its sparkle, its shine glows right through us and the light we once misplaced returns. Or is it the light misplaced us and somehow we are found?

HB 2

Beautiful. Makes me smile. My heart is warm when you talk like this.

(The sun peeps over the horizon, illuminating everything in its path.)

HB 1

Look at that sunrise. You can feel it. The world is changing. The light is changing the world.

The End



—————————————————————————————————————————————–

 This Little Light of Ours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Stoeckmann

One Act Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Stoeckmann

One Act Play

This Little Light of Ours

 

Characters                            

Rudy                                      Middle schooler. Farm boy. Chores, morning and                       evening. Ruddy cheeked. Innocent or insolent?

Koji                                         Farmworker. Quiet, hardworking, curious. Old man, lean, steely posture, grayish hair.

Mother                                   Single Mom. Hard working, just getting by.

HB1                                        Hummingbird. High energy, serene. Effervescent, sentient.

HB2*                                      Similar, younger, less experienced in the ways of the world.

Father Ben                             Elderly priest, well-meaning, well-spoken, kindly affect.

Jailer*                                     Regular guard. Follows orders, passes it down.

Gordon                                   Security director, retired military, obsequious.

CEO                                       Reads the room, writes the script, or thinks he/she does.

Boardmember(s)*                Diligent, severe and servile, gray, blue suits, leaning toward power.

                                                *limited

 

Setting                                                Two story ramshackle farmhouse on a weatherworn flower farm. Flowers. In the city, but not in the city. Shed and chicken coop out back. Bedrooms upstairs. Kitchen downstairs.

 

 

 

 

 Time                                                  Before the first frost.

 

 

 

 

James Stoeckmann

One Act Play

This Little Light of Ours

(Long ago flower and vegetable farms existed at the base of South Mountain, south of the city Phoenix proper, at least at the time. The fields were owned and lovingly tended and watered by Japanese families of farmers, before and after their internment during the war. The farms are gone now, and the people have mostly moved on as the city has closed in around. The mountain remains as do the flowers growing on one solitary old farm tended by an old man and a small family of itinerants, just a Mother and her teenage son with no place to go. The old man took them in earlier in the year. They help him in return.

At Rise: Koji is sitting cross-legged, meditating as the sun rises on fields of flowers. Dragonflies hover on his shoulders.  A Hummingbird alights upon his knee. All look glorious as the morning sun glints off their wings’ kaleidoscopic colors. Koji slowly opens first one eye and then the other, careful not to disturb the peaceful silence. Tears stream down his face. He is beaming, light.)

  • Scene 1

KOJI

Good morning JuJu my friend. All my friends, good morning. Peace. Beautiful light.

Splendid day. Together, we are. It is so. I am happy, this day.

(Buzzing and whirring, in contrast to Koji’s deliberate, thoughtful speaking style, the creatures are excitement personified.)

HB1

Oh Koji our friend, I hope this day is wonderful for you too. Joyful, as your tears. Sweet too.

Good bye, good day, we will be back. We are happy to be with you, even more so, you are with

  1. Your light is special.
  • Scene 2

(Kitchen table, lunchtime. Koji and Rudy wash up and sit down to at the table as Mother dishes food on their plates. They are hungry, they have been working.)

MOTHER

Eat up. Hard work means a big appetite. Ya’ll eat up now. What you working at?

KOJI

Thank you. Mrs. Mother. I eat very well since you stay here. Thank you.

MOTHER

You are very generous and even more, you are good to us Mr. Koji. It’s lucky, I guess, that we

met you.

KOJI

It is good. (pausing between bites) Mr. Rudy, I see jars and boxes everywhere in the shed, you got nets too? These last few months, what do you work on? What are you doing? Need help?

RUDY

Ahh, Koji don’t worry. You wouldn’t like it. Just fishin. (Evasively.) Just fishin.

KOJI

Fishing? Fishing. (Excitedly.) I know fishing. The canals used to be full of fish. So many fish to net. Maybe you/ could show me! Fish!

MOTHER

Rudy, you should take Mr. Koji fishing? Yes, let’s do that. He would love it.

KOJI

Yes. Yes, for the flowers too. We fish, flowers bloom, beautiful light, after Winter, comes

Spring.

(Rudy and Mother exchange puzzled looks with each other.)

RUDY

Ok then. I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about? It’s just fishin. I hardly expected you to take an interest in that. It’s messy, I warned ya.

                                                            MOTHER

Just take Mr. Koji, son. He is good to us. You can thank him.

  • Scene 3

(Rudy is demonstrating, with a fishing rod, some fishing line and a fish hook. He has a hook in his hand.)

RUDY

Can you grab a worm for me, from that coffee can over there. A big fat one!

(Koji, delicately picks a worm out of the can between his index finger and his thumb. He carefully, gently hands the worm to Rudy.)

KOJI

This one Mr. Rudy? This Ok?

(He swipes the worm out of Koji’s fingers, squeezes it tightly. It oozes as he threads the worm.)

RUDY

Just like this Mr. Koji, poke the hook through, and just slide it on. Slide into it like a poncho.

Keep on trying until it’s on. (Shrugs his shoulders, matter-of-factly.)

Beat

(A look of terror and horror crosses Koji’s face as gets the game. He lets out a gasp, a wimper really, before losing all control, he begins to sob, hiding his head in his hands.)

KOJI

Nets! Why not nets? No, no. (Crying out.) Please. No. Stop. We cannot, I do not want this.

Not, anymore. Ever!

(Rudy looks at him, puzzled, mystified.)

RUDY

What’s wrong? We haven’t even started. I thought you wanted to go fishing? You feeling ok?

KOJI

No, please, go home. Mistake. Feel sick. I am wrong. Very wrong.

RUDY

Nah, we just got here. You wait in the truck if you want, I’m staying. Look at these worms a-

wriggling, I got one on the hook. (Rudy begins to thread another worm on another hook.) I’m

sure they’re bitin. Perfect morning for fishin.

(Koji grimaces, and shakes his head beginning to back away and move to the truck, backing up as he goes.)

Ok, suit yourself. Ya want me to bait your hook too? We got plenty worms.

(Koji keeps walking, shaking his head violently at Rudy’s suggestion, starts to run the several yards back to the truck. He continues to cry.

Rudy, shakes his head at the same time and casts his rod, the baited hook and rig plop in the canal. He pulls the line taut and sets his rod in the cradle. Talks to himself.)

I might as well use Koji’s rod too? What’s up with him, damned I can figure? He said he liked to fish?

(Fishes another worm out of the can and starts to string it on the hook he had just rigged on Koji’s rod minutes ago.)

Well, a person can still fish with two rods. Might as well. I didn’t get up at 4 in the morning to sit in the truck. (He looks back to the truck and gestures for Koji to come back and join him.)

Come on, you’re all set. Better hurry, they’ll be biting before you know it.

(Koji, doesn’t seem to hear as his back is to Rudy, sitting in the back of the truck. Is he praying? His head is buried in his hands.)

Boy I wonder what’s up with him.

(Before he can answer, his rod bends sharply, then bounces back as the line starts to zing off the reel.)

I got one, hey Koji we got one.

(And then another, and then another. Rudy exclaims carelessly with each fish he tosses in the bucket. The morning passes.)

  • Scene 3

(Hummingbird, flying, zooming high above, spies the glittering jewel on Koji’s hand, watches him caress his JuJu, a gift from his Father, now soothing him with the call of his home. Slowly finding composure after the pain of Rudy’s ‘fishing’, he waits, resting and dreaming on the tailgate of the truck. Koji suddenly is aware his hummingbird friend has joined him. He looks in rapt awe at the ruby gilded feathers sparkling in the sunlight, on the end of his knee, his favorite spot, nearly matching the brilliant green of his JuJu. The hummingbird gazes into his eyes, still nervously buzzing his wings intermittently. Silence, then the hummingbird speaks,)

HB1

Do not be sad Mr. Koji. We are here. For you. I am here. Perhaps the light, it sent me to tell you, ‘Do not be sad Mr. Koji.’

KOJI

(Overwhelmed with emotion. Stunned. Careful not to disrupt the moment.) Hello, little one. How

you are, my friend? I am so lucky. You are beautiful. How you shine in the light? How fast you

can fly?

HB1

As I am honest, it is your shining jewel speaks to me! Its sparkle is a special light of magic and peace – yes, quiet and peaceful as are you. I do not know you, yet I know you? I know how you live. I know your thoughts? Your magic called the light, called me, told me what I must know.

KOJI

I do not know my own thoughts? I do not know who I am? How is it that you can know me?

HB1

Your sparkling light, told me. Your jewel reflects your light. Life, love, light, just as you. Its love follows you wherever you go. Do not be afraid.

KOJI

What can you mean? This sparkling jewel? It is my JuJu, given me by my Father and to him by his own, and so it goes as far as I can know. It gives me peace. Though how? I do not know.

HB1

How? It is not for us to know. We just do. Just as we are. Be glad for your JuJu and let it

shine. It is light.

KOJI

(Thoughtfully, admires the creature before him. Considers                                                  his words.)

How can I share? It is my Father’s and his before him. It is ancient JuJu to us, now just me. I wonder if it brings me to you? Or you to me? Does it call you?

HB1

Perhaps it does. We cannot know. Though here we are to greet, and ponder the reason we meet.

(Beat, pause continues, then proceeding gravely in a serious hummingbird voice.)

Do you know about Rudy? His deeds? His heart? Do you know?

KOJI

I cannot speak of Rudy right now. I am sad. He said he is fishing, but, oh, I cannot think of it. It is cruel. He tortures his worms, oh I can feel their agony. I feel it. It cannot be.

HB1

(Somberly.) It is not just worms. So many more. There is so much more.

KOJI

What? I do not understand?

HB1

When we go home, I will show you. Look for me. Remember, peace. The warm sunshine. Its light, beautiful. Look for the light will return. Look for me.

  • Scene 4

(Dinner time. Dinner bell. Sun is low. Rudy is hungry. Koji is not.)

                                                            MOTHER

So how was fishin? Looks like you caught a bunch. Rudy you best be cleaning the mess up after dinner.  Freezem. Save some for tomorrow’s dinner. Don’t expect me to do it. I got my own work, ‘stead cleaning up after you.

(Beat)

Don’t you dare make Mr. Koji do it. Hear me?

RUDY

(Mouth full.) Will, I will. I don’t think Mr. Koji’s gonna help me no matter what. He’s acting/

(Koji abruptly rises and walks purposefully out the door.)

                                                            KOJI

Excuse me Mrs. Mother. I am not hungry. Going outside.

(Koji exits.)

RUDY

Strange, I don’t know what’s up with him. One minute, I’m putting a worm on his hook this morning, next thing I know I look up he’s cryin, bawling his head off, running for the truck. Didn’t see him all morning. He’s weird. Strange / he’s light in the head.

MOTHER

Rudy, stop. He’s our friend. He’s the only light we got right now. Without him? Where would

we be?

(Looks askance at Rudy, sternly.)

Answer me that?

RUDY

Aww Ma, come on.

MOTHER

Shush, you heard me.

  • Scene 5

(In the dying light of a setting sun, the doors to the shed are open wide. Koji is kneeling, weeping at the sight of the collection of myriad creatures hanging on the wall, stacked in boxes, enclosed in jars, stuck on pins, birds, snakes in cages, insects, creatures of all types. Koji busily, frantically tries to rescue the creatures still alive, trapped, suffocating, in the empty air of 100’s of sealed jars. As he is working to unscrew them one at a time, the hummingbird arrives.)

HB1

So you know? You found, him? You found Rudy’s darkness, his secret?

(Koji looks up, surprised, though with relief.)

KOJI

Oh, it’s you. Friend hello. Did not expect you. I am glad you are here. It is late. The light is dying. Help me. Help us. Hurry.

HB1

So it is. The sun is setting on this day. We will make a new day, together. Let me show you. I, we, yes we will help you.

(Koji is puzzled, pauses his work, before hurrying to empty Rudy’s shed.)

  • Scene 6

(The boxes jingle with the sound of glass, shuffling and jangling. Koji is carrying boxes balancing carefully up the steep wooden stairs. He is tiptoeing up the stairs in the pre-dawn darkness balancing large boxes and bags. Only a few more steps, and then across the threshold, he quietly opens the door to Rudy’s room.)

KOJI

(Whispering.) Soon my friends, we’re almost free. Here we are.

(The orange glow through the window foretells dawn’s light is near.)

Here we are. (He whispers.) Why am I whispering? Why am I whispering to you?

(In Rudy’s room now, he opens the boxes, first one, then another, magically he is able to unscrew each jar and they are all opened. You can hear the buzzing excitement. There are dozens of dozens of jars. Each one contains cockroaches, crickets, spiders, even flies, too many to name, or even count. Some big, some small. And lizards. They twitch in every direction.  There is a buzzing, a low vibration is everywhere.)

RUDY

(Stirring fitfully from his sleep, rubbing his eyes, awakens in a daze.)

Hey, what’s going on? Ma is that you? Who is it?

                                                            HB1

(Buzzing the spell of mesmerizingly slow 2am, REM sleep.)

It is nothing, just a dream, back to your sleep you go. Fly, fly away, to sleep.

                                                            RUDY

Oh, so tired. (Drifts off to sleep again, snoring gently.)

                                                            KOJI

                                                            (Returning his attention to his friend in the jar, joyfully.)

Shhh. That was close. Yes, remember? You remember the light?

(He tips the jar on its side and watches as a cockroach crawls slowly out. Then skitters away, into the dark.)

Come on my friend. Hurry, hurry it’s almost light. You are free again. Breathe, free.

(He repeats the process, again and again and again. So many.)

Oh my friend, I am too late for you?

(One cockroach tumbles out, rattling across the glass, dry and dead.)

Oh my friend. I am sorry. I pray for you.

(Beat, then under his breath.)

Pray for me too?

HB1

Come my friend. The sun is near. It is almost light. We must go.

(Koji tiptoes down the stairs with the HB1 hovering behind. Two iridescent, transcendent figures/glows descend the stairs out the front door of the farmhouse.)

  • Scene 7

(Dreaming he is being attacked, Rudy awakens restlessly in the pre-dawn, scratching and slapping his skin. There is a low-level buzzing in the room.)

RUDY

Hey Ma, you leave the windows open? Come on! I’m getting eaten alive. Hey, (startled), what are all these boxes? My room? /Mom, my bugs? Did you dump them in my room!

(He’s yelling, panicking as he finishes his question?)

MOTHER

What honey? Get down here. You’re late. Again! You got chores. I don’t want you to be late, again. Come on we leave, what less than an hour!

RUDY

But Ma, where’s my bugs? The empty jars, boxes, my zoo, it’s upstairs. Empty / And there’s

bugs everywhere. My bugs!

(Mother’s eyes go big, round as saucers, as she spies a giant spider on the ceiling above the kitchen table. As she moves for the broom a cockroach skitters across the clean floor of her kitchen.)

MOTHER

Rudy, get down here, now. (Screaming.) When I get my hands on you, I’m gonna smash you like

a bug. Don’t talk to me about bugs, what are they doing in the house, tell me, tell me, you…

RUDY

What are you talking about? Why are my bugs in here? You?

MOTHER

Get down here. They’re everywhere. (Screaming and running wildly, vainly with the broom.)

RUDY

My bugs? Why are they in the house? Did you do this, Ma? You crazy? Don’t touch my stuff.

MOTHER

What are they doing in the house? Our house! Can’t believe you’re my kid? I told you, it’s either them or me. Gettem outta here! Now! (Screams) There’s a cockroach. Eeeie, there’s another spider on the wall. There’s flies buzzing everywhere. Damn you, you’re no son of mine. Get them outta here. Good riddance.

You know I hate you keeping those things. Your zoo! (Reproachfully) When you finish your chores get yourself back here, help me clean these things outta here.

(Continuing in a lecture.)

This is our home now, boy. You hear me. This is all we got.

(Shakes her head, thoughtfully continues wistfully yet reproachfully as her voice trails off.)

If your dad was still alive.

  • Scene 8

(Rudy sits on his bed with his boots. He frowns, closes his eyes, grits his teeth in concentration. He is oblivious to all else. Then, grumbling he pulls his boots on and heads for the door and his chores, complaining.)

RUDY

Ma, if you did something with my bugs, dammit/I’m gonna, I’m gonna, (sputtering as he heads outside)

                                                            MOTHER

Keep your mouth shut or I’m gonna get the soap, now get to them chickens. Now.

(Muttering to herself as Rudy is out of earshot by the end of her threat. Rudy heads to the barn, still grumbling.)

RUDY

(To himself.) But they’re mine. Nobody touches my stuff. Those bugs, they’re mine,

nobody tells me what to do. Whoever did this is scum.

(He vents his anger slamming the kitchen door shut. Arriving at the shed he realizes the doors are wide open. The chickens are scattered and gone, but they’ll be back. Inside though, his zoo, his collection of bugs and animals, a menagerie/a prison is in disarray, jailbreak really, with boxes strewn everywhere, open jars laying haphazardly around the shed. His collection has been trashed. It’s chaos.)

Mommmmmm! (He screams, bewildered.) You better come quick. Call somebody, Ma, Ma. We been broke

into. Thieves, scum.

(Screaming, he collapses to his knees in the open door to the shed.)

  • Scene 9

(Mom arrives breathlessly, impatiently after hurrying out to the shed.)

MOTHER

What is it? What is it now? We got bugs to kill.

(She sees the mess and shakes her head.)

Whatever did you do? I should never have let you spend so much time alone out here. What have

you done boy?

                                                            RUDY

It’s not me Ma. Somebody trashed my stuff. Mine. We been robbed? They must have hauled all my bugs into the house, into my room, how could they do that? Why would someone do this to us? To me? Would take hours, and I didn’t even wake up. Where’s Koji? Is he in the house?!

(Rudy disappears, in the direction of the house. Mother gasps as she spies a glowing. Something is lighting the hay right in front of where they are standing.)

What is this? This? Is it Koji’s JuJu? It’s Koji’s? It’s Koji. Where’s Koji? What is happening? What is happening!?

(She begins to cry. She is alone. Rudy has gone back to the house. Chaos.  Two luminous figures float above and out of the barn, into the morning light. There is the smell of smoke, looking behind she sees the house in flames, in the pre-dawn darkness.)

  • Scene 10

(Much later, high on the broken twig of a tree overlooking fields of flowers at sunrise sit two hummingbirds, glowing and buzzing, happy with their perch.)

                                                            KOJI

I always wanted to fly. Sometimes I dream I am flying.

HB1

You fly now. You always have. You always shall. Peace. Beautiful light.

(Pauses, looking at Koji.)

Is that a tear Koji? Don’t cry friend.

KOJI

(Smiling.)

I am happy.

————————————————————————————————-

 

 

————————————————————————————————-

 

  • Scene 11

(Years later, seated in an elegant dining room, white linen, waiters in formal serving attire, and an impeccably serviced table with perfect ‘Thanksgiving dishes’ before them, Mother has aged in a dignified fashion, Rudy is doing very well, dressed formally, they finish a prayer, and they toast.)

 

MOTHER

Praise be. The Lord has blessed us son. I so enjoy our early Thanksgiving dinners, I don’t see you much anymore. You’re so busy, and/

RUDY

Oh, Mother, looks who’s talking. You flew in from El Paso last night, before that you were in Florida a month, Phoenix mosta summer. You should slow down. Really, you should?

MOTHER

I know, but our work is important. Think of the children, their Mothers, don’t start me crying. You’ve been so generous though.

RUDY

Still, Mother. It’s taken a toll on you, these protests, mobs of people, the weather, and it’s dangerous. I worry.

MOTHER

Thank you, thank you, that’s all I can say. I’ll be ok.

Beat

By the way, I know Father Ben thanks you too. He asks about you all the time? He’s known you since you were a baby. Can’t I tell him? He would want to thank you.

RUDY

No, I’d rather just you and I know, about my offerings. Let’s keep it secret. I must insist Mother, you know that right? Money would just complicate things.

MOTHER

It’s so much money though. All our travel, lodging, signs, the food kitchens, you’ve made it all possible. With your tithes we haven’t wanted for anything. Before, we’d sleep in our cars, and we’d starve, nothing compared to those kids locked up, but still/

RUDY

Mother, just promise me you will cut back, stay safe, hell stay home! You can still organize and still contribute from home. You’re too old to be protesting on the street.

MOTHER

Don’t curse, I will try. We are all trying to be smarter. Our protests. We’re learning. We’re going right to the Devil hisself now. When the contractors have their board meetings? We know where they meet? The Devil thinks he can hide, but God is on our side. God will win out, his light will shine.

RUDY

 

(Under his breath)

If there is a God.

(Beat.)

How you talk Mother. This is the way life has always been. There’s always been power and there’s always been money, that’s all, that’s if you got it. If you don’t, well, you’re trapped, you give up your freedom. You’re just a worm, you’re nothin really. Like we used to be. Remember? How could you forget. I never will. We didn’t even have money for a turkey, living on that flower farm, that fire trap?

(Voice trails off, he’s dreaming of more difficult times. He closes his eyes, grimaces briefly, then returns his attention to his Mother.)

 

We were trapped, nowhere to go. Then, that was then. Now’s different. I’m in control.

 

MOTHER

Thanks God, Koji saved us. And the church. After the fire, after Koji died, what happened to him, those days still scare me. Remember that night? The fire? That morning is a fog really, it’s like a dream, a nightmare.

(Frowning)

RUDY

 

And? And?

(Impatiently. Preening.)

And now? Look at us? Me? I’ve done ok?

 

MOTHER

Yes, yes of course the church scholarship, your business degree. You made it. I’m so proud of you. Father Ben, he asks? (She clutches her beads.) You know, the church scholarship, I never could have paid for college! Come back and visit? Please?

RUDY

Mother, we talked. You know I can’t. My work. Promise me you will take it easy next year? Promise? I’ll double my contributions, (hesitates) my tithes, but you promise you’ll cut back? Stay home. I bought you that house, but you’re never there. Let others protest? So stupid (under his breath) bastards, enlightened protest my ass, they’re scum.

MOTHER

I heard that. Don’t swear, it’s Thanksgiving. I’m glad — you call it tithing. It’s in the bible you know. Do you really think you could? You have no idea, what it would mean. Dear God, (she clasps her beads) That would be almost our entire budget, Lord knows what we could do, oh Rudy, my boy, I love you. My dear boy. (Reaches across the table to clasp his hands.)

RUDY

Yeah Mom, just promise me.

 

(Exasperated, seeing he is getting nowhere.)

Ok, say hello then. But promise me Mother, you’ll keep me and my money in this secret, just between us? Promise? Secret. No exceptions. Tell me so or I swear, I’ll cut you off. And that church. The damn church too. I’m serious.

MOTHER

 (Nods her head, does the sign of the cross, closes her eyes in prayer, her beads, fearfully. Rudy looks first at her, then away coldly, or numbly, calculating?)

 

Rudy, don’t ruin it, talk like that. Please.

 

  • Scene 12

(Board Room, dark wood paneling, brass fixtures, silver coffee service, secretaries quietly tending to 4 or 5 gentlemen in dark blue suits, seated around a table, comfortable chairs, looking aged, greedy and affecting wisdom. Rudy is presenting. Affected southern drawls are presumed? Especially by Rudy.)

 

RUDY

We are excited to share our proposal, Operation Preservation, with you today. Our country is under threat and accordingly our mission must be to eliminate and contain this threat in order to preserve our country for the future. This is Xenothon’s opportunity. So, let’s talk turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way. (Discreet chortles.) Speed, gentlemen. We must act fast to transform our assets into force multipliers, for the country, and for our shareholders. What do I mean?

I’m glad you asked. Ha. Currently, as you know, our ‘private room policy’ is holding us back. Liberal nonsense like this has us trapped in a cage. We need to think outta the box. Here’s our proposal! We convert our storage facilities to dormitory style. Instead of 1 or 2 to a room, this is a force multiplier transforming our ability to realize the full potential of our investment, quintupling, maybe even more, the number of, ahem, ‘clients’ from 1 or 2 to as many as 20 clients per room. This is an enormous force multiplier. Xenothon will dominate in our industry AND we’ll be saving the country! Preserving it for the future. Our future. Ours. For Xenothon.

I know you have questions, of course you do. Allow me to anticipate some of them. First, Capital, yes of course we will need to invest, to tear down walls, convert fancy private rooms to dorm rooms, that sort of thing. Repurpose the big boxes to protection facilities. But this is a one-time cost that will keep paying us back for generations.

It’s all in your briefing books:

The payback? Hardly be six months.

The rate of return? Through the roof.

Our revenues will scale, of course. And,

Our profits! Well that’s the sweet spot! It’s all ours.

We protect the country AND we lock up an almost unimaginable future for Xenothon.

By the way, with cost controls we can do even better. You have my word. It’s exciting. After barely a half millennium in America, look who we done?

(Beat.)

Talking turkey boys just between us of course, but the key to keeping America safe? (pause) Keep the enemy, the others, out. If not out, then down. Right, gentlemens? I ask your support.

BOARDMEMBER

Excuse me. Rudy, time for a question?

RUDY

Certainly, fire away.

BOARDMEMBER

That capital investment, that’s a lot of money. Will our client, the government, (Gubmint) reimburse us for that? I mean for the good of the country, of course.

RUDY

Absolutely. We’re all over that. We will recoup our full capital investment, 100%, with the sale of Patriot Bonds. It will take a year or two, but we’ll come out without having spent a cent. Meanwhile, we make billions for as far as the eye can see. We call it Operation Preservation, right? Our own, as much as anyone’s.

CEO

Thank you, Rudy. Thank you very much. I know there will more questions, there’ll be time, it does sound almost too good to true, taking all this empty warehouse and big box space, buying it up cheap, turning it into shelter space for these, for these, for our ‘clients’, their care and protection, their security of course. With a guaranteed profit and revenue stream accruing to Xenothon’s future, our shareholders of course, far into the future and beyond.

(Remembering.)

Oh, and the country too.  But we must act fast. Anyway, Rudy, I know I speak for the board as well, when we promoted you to CFO and Comptroller we were locked in the past. But you’ve found us the key. Who knows? The sky is the limit now.

(Applause)

So let’s take 30 minutes, take care of business, and then come back with questions. I know we’ll get your approval. Thank you.

(Break – milling round, pats on the back, chortling, talk of First Class versus private jet service, etc., when suddenly there is a visitor, in a cheap blue suit and a too tight tie and collar, looking for the CEO. Gordon, Director of Security enters whispering to the CEO.)

 

CEO

Rudy, excuse me but could you join us over here for a minute? Please? Thanks, Gordon informs me his guards have had a scuffle with the protesters downstairs, seems they were blocking egress, or some such. Anyway, Gordon, what did you need from us?

GORDON

All copasetic, sir. We’re workin with the locals, our people greasin their people, you know, we got a pretty good relationship with the local PD here. Anyway, we had to hold a few of the protesters, some of the unruly ones. Troublemakers, you know the type.

RUDY

Gordon, hi there, excuse me but what’s the problem? Can we cut to the chase?

 

GORDON

Hi boss, I really didn’t want to bother you with this, but (hesitates) one of the ladies says you’re her son?

 

RUDY

Gordon. Gordon, remember you work for me, right? Gordon, I’m telling you this better be good.

 

GORDON

Sorry sir, I really am. But we’re interviewing the detainees, the protesters, getting their information, next of kin, that sort of thing, it’s an emergency of course. One of them pops off sayin you’re her son? Says she’s your Mother! She’s hysterical. So, my guard asks her name, and whatdya know it’s the same, as yours of course, same name, and you know it ain’t public. We’re private.

(Beat)

And I am so sorry sir, so sorry, guard mentions you, your name, you work here. He was outta line. But she hears it, your name and she faints. She just heard your name Rudy, that’s all. We caught her as she fell. She’s with medics now. But I thought you should know, she swears. She swears. I swear she does.

RUDY

Gordon, cut the shit, what did she say, your point, what’d she say?

 

GORDON

Sir, she swears you’re her son Rudy, she swore it up and down, the doctor is talking to her, my guards are hearing it. You should know.

(Shaking his head, blustering, confident, determined, yet frustrated.)

RUDY

Nonsense. My Mother’s back home, she’s miles away from here. It’s a common enough name, it’s a mix up I’m sure of it. Coincidence, light’s playing tricks, ridiculous. Ha.

(Convincing himself as he speaks, still he comes across as confidant and unflustered, if frustrated.)

GORDON

Sir, though, if you have a minute sir, perhaps, maybe you could come with us. Get a look at her, sir? I’d feel better for my men, knowing what they heard. We won’t embarrass you, we’ll be discreet, but if you could, if you could just, if you could see her? Have a look.

CEO

Of course, Gordon, of course, Rudy will be happy to. I’ll stay here and cover with the board for you, Rudy. Great job. Take your time, plenty of time, you already won. The board.

(Grabs his shoulder and pats his back.)

All they want to know is where to sign, but you go with Gordon. Won’t take long. I’m sure. We got this.

  • Scene 13

 

(Gregg and Rudy enter a small space with, a doctor/nurse, security guard, attending to Mother.)

MOTHER

Rudy, Rudy?

(Delirium collides with lucidity, recognition.)

Oh, Rudy. You’ve come to save me. These men, so rough. I’m not young.

(Beat)

Rudy, how are you here? That suit? Cost you thousands? Rudy? Rudy?

(The dark realization, dawns on her, perhaps she suspected, though now it is manifest. She continues.)

How did you get here? So, so fast?

 

Rudy, Xenothon? You? Rudy, it is you? How could this be? This shame is you? Your company? You! You? Those families? The kids?

NO Rudy, no, it can’t be. My son.

(Mother collapses.

Rudy makes no attempt to reach out. Remains impassive, confident, pretends shock and puzzle, embarrassment. Shakes his head, disgusted, his most genuine emotion.)

RUDY

Well, Gordon. Carry on. Don’t believe her. You’re right, she’s not all here. You know what to do. Lock her up. Lockem all up. Can’t be making exceptions for this nonsense. It’s business, and these people have no business standing in our way. Give me a day, I’ll decide whether to file charges. The protestors they hire nowadays? Hollywood should be proud. I’ll head back now. Thanks, y’did the right thing, now get these lawbreakers outta here. Let me know you need anything. Anything. Give my best to the wife and kids?

GORDON

Yessir. Sorry to bother you sir. We’ll send her downtown. Again, so sorry sir. The nerve of that woman, accusing you. Imagine that, you being her son. The balls. We’ll tell the boys downtown, they’ll take care of her. Lawbreakers, protestors, scum.

            (Shakes his head. Spits.)

————————————————————————————————-

 

 

 

————————————————————————————————-

 

  • Scene 14

 

RUDY

Hello Father Ben, thank you for meeting me like this.

 

FATHER BEN  

No problem my son, I was surprised to hear from you. It’s been so long. Coffee? I already

 

ordered a pot. Black?

RUDY

Sure, thanks. Black is fine. Yes it has/

 

Been 25 years give or take. At least.

FATHER BEN 

At least indeed. Since those days, oh it’s been so long ago when your Mother came to us, and you too. She was a blessing. Your Mother, she truly blessed us.

(Beat)

And you too? Are you doing well. You look well?

(Catches himself, admiring Rudy’s expensive suit.)

So sad to see your Mother pass over. Such a wonderful woman, a visionary really, surely to our church. You must be proud.

RUDY

Yes. I am. Of course. I miss her. Who knows, she’s still with us Father, don’t you think?

 

(Pauses, sips his coffee.)

Thank you for the kind words at her service. You are very generous.

 

FATHER BEN 

What’s this? You were there?

 

RUDY

Yes, I sat in the back, came in late, left early. I had to pay my respects, I didn’t want to cause a fuss. Been so long.

FATHER BEN 

Why the mystery?

 

RUDY

No mystery, I just thought/ didn’t want to be conspicuous.

 

FATHER BEN 

You know, she was never quite the same after the visit to that company, their headquarters. What’s it called, starts with an “X”. Odd how evil gets named? What they did in that jail, who knows? When she got back home, I visited her maybe a week later, only last month, and she looked so pale, so fragile. She couldn’t even stand? She was just, I shouldn’t say, but she seemed broken. An angel still, but so frail. Flickering like a candle.

RUDY

You don’t know? Really, she never told you what happened?

 

FATHER BEN 

Oh, I have my suspicions. We’ve seen how cruel these officers are to migrants, firsthand, lord only knows they won’t treat us protesters any better, maybe worse? Their attitude is how dare we? Right? We’re criminals too, just because we want to take care of people in need? Is that so wrong?

(Beat.)                                                

Such a good woman. What did they do to her?  What will the church do? What will we do without her. We’ll pray. We’ll have to pray.

RUDY

 (Quiet long, pregnant silence, as both men reflect.)

 Father, there’s something I need to tell you. I am not sure I should though, (hesitates) after what happened to Mother.

FATHER BEN 

Whatever can you mean, “what happened to Mother”. What do you know? Of course, we know they humiliated her, crushed her spirit, her spirit Rudy, she lived her spirit and they crushed it. Those guards they destroyed it, they might as well have killed her themselves, right there.

(Beat, coffee)

But wait. What’s this, you didn’t you want to be seen, in church for her funeral, your Mother’s funeral, you said you didn’t want to be conspicuous? I don’t think anyone, not even me would have recognized you? Why so bashful? Secret even? Why? What aren’t you telling me?

RUDY

(Reflecting and pausing.) I never forgot that night. The flower farm. The place went up in flames. Did they ever find the cause? Spontaneous combustion? Culprit more likely? Did Koji ever come back?

FATHER BEN 

No, I don’t know that they did. Nobody tried too hard of course. No, never heard from Koji either, that I know. You say he ran off. Some say he burned up in the fire. We never found him.  Just a mystery, the fire, Koji’s disappearance. Left an odd glow over the town for a long time.

RUDY

I think he burned it down himself. He was acting strange, for awhile there, even before that night, the fire. It left Mom a wreck though, until you saved us. Can’t imagine what would have happened. I nearly starved. Then you found us. The food kitchen was paradise, especially that first few weeks.

FATHER BEN 

Well, your Mother had a lot to do with that, special lady. She took our tiny church, turned it into a peace train — for the poor, the needy, under-privileged, and now look at the force for justice our church has become. We’re in every western state! All because of your Mother.

(Sees Rudy looking down into his hands. Beat.)

You do know the story don’t you, about your Father? She never forgave herself.

 

RUDY

What do you mean? You knew my Father? You know about him? Tell me, you have to tell me. What do you know? This has been a mystery to me Father?

FATHER BEN 

You don’t know do you? I think she would want you to know now. It’s sad though. So sad. She

never forgave herself.

 

RUDY

Tell me, Father, you must. I had no idea. How long have you known? Tell me.

 

FATHER BEN 

It nearly killed your Mother, it was way back, you were a baby, not even a year old? She told me, she was in one of her states, there at the end, maybe delirious? But she seemed lucid, even though she was somewhere else, after they released her from jail I mean?

(Pause, pensive, apprehensive, decides to continue.)

You were just a baby. Your Mother had to decide between you and your Father.  They got stopped while driving, didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t even know how they got together, but your Mother had to decide between you or your Father. He didn’t have papers. Imagine that? She had to choose? Yet she had no choice. Must have been terror of that night, forced to decide. Who knows what one would do? What one could do? Cruel really. Cruel. Yes.

(Beat, drifting off. )

It was him or you, she had to decide. Deport with him, leave you behind. Or. Stay behind with you. Pray. Somehow. One day. You will all be reunited?

(Beat)

It wasn’t to be though. After they were separated, your Father came up dead, who knows how, or who? Nothing. She got a call. Someone, maybe la migra found her number on the back of a picture? Her picture! In his wallet when he died. After he passed. All I know. All she, your Mother told me.

RUDY

She never spoke of my Father, ever, even when I asked. Quite a lot I asked when I was younger. She’d tell me she didn’t know, and change the subject.

FATHER BEN 

She never forgave herself. I’m sure of it. She never spoke of it with me either, just this last week was the only time, after they let her out of jail. Such a heavy burden for her.

(Beat)

Somehow she found salvation through her work in the church. She was a living sacrifice for the voiceless, especially the travelers, with no place. Those on the edge, she was like their light?

(Beat)

And if you helped, if you were somehow her light? Well, God bless. God bless you Rudy.

 

RUDY

(Nods, then a long, pensive silence.)

Yes, her work. Her work. So, you’re telling me she did this, all of these protests, this social

 

justice work, with the church? (Hesitates, a light is dawning.) For my Father?

 

FATHER BEN 

Who can read a heart, her spirit was as pure as there is. Maybe she did it, she sacrificed, maybe to make amends. Somehow. Who knows.

(Beat)

It’s not right though, she had no choice, not her fault there’s evil. I am sure she wanted to make

things over, better, somehow. Now they’re reunited.

(Beat)

Now you remain behind. Who knows, maybe to continue her good work? No, I’m sorry Rudy, that’s for you to decide.

RUDY

(Again, a silent pause.)

Father, I think I have a confession for you.

 

FATHER BEN 

Please my son. Your heart must be heavy.

 

RUDY

No, not like that. Not at all like that. I came to tell you that I am the one. It’s me. The one who has been her benefactor. So the church’s too, then. I never cared what she was doing with the money. She was occupied, it seemed she took satisfaction from it, if money helped, hey it’s a small price to pay, your Mom’s happy, right? I was glad to do it.

(Beat)

Now, Mother is gone, I know her Will gave everything to the church. After that’s gone Father, well I hadn’t planned on continuing. I did it for her, not the church. My plan was to be honest, tell you now, today.  I miss her, so do you. We all will.

(Beat)

It’s good to know you feel so positive about what she, and the church of course, were able to accomplish. But she is gone now, so you’ll need to find someone new. A new honeypot.

FATHER BEN 

Oh Rudy, that’s devastating to hear. I am praying you will reconsider. At least for awhile as we come to terms with this, with your decision. Your Mother was a fine woman, an icon of charity in the congregation. She was like God’s light on this earth. She really was. I am sure she’d be disappointed. And she’s say so.

(Beat)

Wait though, I’m curious Rudy. Maybe you can tell me, what was she speaking of? When she came back from the protest, after her arrest, she was so sick. She was not right in the mind. She was telling people she had seen you there? She was maybe, not coherent, not all there, confused, we never understood her. At that company’s board meeting, why would she say she’d seen you? She said, she saw you? Saw you there, at the board meeting. Xenothon. That’s the name.

(Shudders.)

RUDY

(Long pause.) Xenothon is my company. Yes, she saw me. It was me she saw. It’s true. She and her gang of protesters, that scum, were heckling our people, my board. I told the police, take them away. I can’t be making exceptions, especially when our company is based on the rule of law.

(Looks down as the memory and the realization dawns, becomes distraught yet somehow still retains control, clenches his jaw, before he blurts out, in a shriek.)

I denied her. I denied even knowing her. My Mother. I turned away, I sent her away, I jailed my Mother. Father, I put my own Mother in jail!

Beat

This. This is my confession. Really, this is my confession, Father. My Mother thinks she killed my Father? She Did. Not. God bless her. But me? (Sobs, shrieks.)

Beat

I killed my Mother. I did, I did. I killed my Mother. I denied her, I sent her to jail and I killed

 

her. My own Mother.

 

  • Scene 15

 

(A month earlier, in a jail cell, a small holding cell, a very cold cell.)

JAILER

There’s someone here for you lady.

 

(Startled, stops weeping.)

MOTHER

Who could it be? Who? For me?

 

(Light footsteps, approaching, Mother looking around bewildered, tear-stained face. In walks, or floats, Koji, in casual dress, perhaps a robe, with an emerald seeming to glow on the finger of one hand.)

Koji, is that you? Gasps, why I thought you were dead? Since the fire? Where have you been? Oh, forgive me,

(Collapsing to her knees again.)

Am I blind? What is this? Who is this I see? What is happening to me?

 

KOJI

Oh Mrs. Mother, do not be afraid. Do not be sad. I come to take you away. Take you to the light. Back to the light. It’s almost morning.

(He takes her hand, together they walk serenely into the light, and out of the jail.)

It is well. It is well Mrs. Mother. I have much to share. Someone else too. Someone else needs to see you. We must hurry.

(He smiles. Mother’s face begins, slowly, to lighten.)

 

  • Scene 16

(After leaving Father Ben, Rudy walks down a busy street. He is buried by guilt, lost in his thoughts. His eyes are almost closed in gritty concentration. He tries to will forth a rational explanation, a business solution, now confronted with long hidden truths. He bumps into another person on the busy sidewalk.)

RUDY

Hey look out. Sorry, hey, watch where you’re going?

 

(Spies a park bench in a garden on a side street, an escape from his thoughts, traffic, sits down on the bench. Gritty, almost panicky concentration. Then. He is suddenly overcome with a sense of déjà vu as Koji appears.)

What is happening to me?

 

KOJI

Hello Rudy.

 

RUDY

 

(Unbelieving, refusing to comprehend, Rudy closes his eyes, grits his teeth, and grimaces into his business thinking, his reptilian mode.)

What is happening to me?

 

KOJI

Hello Rudy. Why do you resist me? I have someone who wants to talk to you?

 

RUDY

You’re dead. Or I’m crazy, and that’s possible. But, you burned yourself and our farm up back then.

KOJI

Rudy, we both know I did not burn up. I did not even start the fire.

(Pause.)

Did I Rudy? Oh, and it was my farm, no?

RUDY

(Astonishment) Then it is you? Where am I? What is happening to me?

 

(Enters Mother, she is dressed plainly, her face a mix of tears and joy.)

MOTHER

Rudy, do not be afraid. What is happening is the light is happening. Open your eyes? Why must

 

you retreat into yourself, into darkness. We can see the black clouds on your closed-eye face?

 

RUDY

Mother? Mother? Is it you? But you’re gone. Your funeral. (Preening.) I was there?

 

MOTHER

You can see so much more, with your eyes open.

 

(Beat. Mother does not take her eyes off Rudy even as he struggles to sustain his gaze.)

Rudy, I love you.

 

RUDY

Oh Mother. I am so sorry. (Breaks down in tears.) Can you forgive me? Ever? I don’t, don’t deserve it. What was I thinking? What happened to me?

MOTHER

Nothing to forgive. My Rudy. You are my only son, my family, we’re together now, you know. Your dark will awaken to the light.

KOJI

Rudy, do you remember? I always wonder? Why you close your eyes and growl frown? When you are thinking it seems? Does it hurt? Do you hurt?

RUDY

I feel light right now, like a weight lifted. I close my eyes, to hide. My doubt. I make it disappear from me? If I try, I can convince myself. I can do anything, solve anything, protect myself from anything. Just me, all by myself. No one else to help me. That’s what I learned in business. Get a lawyer and an accountant and just concentrate, on the bottom line. Of course. (More preening.) Hey, I was #2 at the biggest private prison company in the world. We created an industry Mother!

(Looks around, at Koji, and then gazes long at his Mother. They do not respond. They are unconvinced.)

 

It doesn’t always work though, does it?  Look at what I have done, how I have failed, at what’s important, the only things that matter, for my Mother, my Father too, the church, and you Koji? You know what I have done, don’t you? You know better than I.

(Beat.)

Can you ever forgive me? Mother?

MOTHER

I know. I know. Of course. Come here.

 

(They embrace, for the first time in years, a real embrace.)

 

RUDY

Oh Mother. I didn’t know. You didn’t tell me. About Dad. Why couldn’t you tell me?

 

MOTHER

Now you know. His light was never in a bottle though Rudy? He’s always been with me, us?

 

(Suddenly, a thousand lights illuminate like fireflies, in the sky, in the ocean, even the ground.)

KOJI

Rudy, do you see the light?

 

RUDY

Do I? How could I not see?

 

KOJI

Lo, these many years, with your eyes closed, somehow you managed?

 

RUDY

But how? What makes the light?

 

MOTHER

Your heart. The light is in your heart.

 

KOJI

Remember the Flower Farm? Remember the light across the fields of flowers? It is in my heart.

 

It is your heart too, son.

 

RUDY

 (Looks puzzled.) But how? In my heart?

 

KOJI

You try. It is there for you, the light. Feel the light.

 

RUDY

(Closes his eyes, grits his teeth, and concentrates. It goes dark.)

 

KOJI

No Rudy, not like that. Keep your eyes open. Now think,

(Pause)

No, feel with your heart. With your heart you can light the world.

RUDY

(Opens his eyes, looks at Koji and his Mother, slowly a smile comes to his face. And slowly, the lights begin to flicker again, surrounding them in a warm glow. A loving glow.)

 

KOJI

With your heart you can feel. And if you feel, you can light the world.

 

  • Scene 17

(HB1 and HB2 resting on a perch overlooking pristine desert, snowcapped mountains, pure blue skies, and the not yet visible glint in the dark gray blue of the pre-dawn minutes. Edward Abby Desert Solitude stuff, red rocks.)

 

HB 2

(Impatiently.) What are we doing? What are you doing? Why are we here?

 

HB 1

Hi there? Good morning. Of course, it’s been a long time? Hasn’t it? Why, naturally, we are waiting for the light, the sun to rise.

HB 2

Really? Seems like I’ve been here before?

 

HB 1

You have been here before. Of course, you have. The light always returns. And so do we, if we are lucky.

HB 2

How can you be so sure, I mean the light will return? It’s chilly in this darkness.

 

HB 1

Patience. Keep your eyes open, and your heart smiling. Together, we will light the world.

 

HB 2

I admire your confidence. I wish I could be so certain.

 

HB 1

You have been gone for awhile. Sometimes the light loses us, misplaces us. And then in a drop of dew we are caught in its sparkle, its shine glows right through us and the light we once misplaced returns. Or is it the light misplaced us and somehow we are found?

HB 2

Beautiful. Makes me smile. My heart is warm when you talk like this.

 

(The sun peeps over the horizon, illuminating everything in its path.)

HB 1

Look at that sunrise. You can feel it. The world is changing. The light is changing the world.

 

The End

 

————————————————————————————————-

 

000 This Little Light of Ours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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