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Peter Lobdell

Location: Belchertown, MA
Email: ptlobdell@amherst.edu
Published in: Stirring V2:E2, Duct Tape Press, and in July an essay in a collection titled, "Method Acting Re-considered" by St. Albans Press.


A NIGHTCAP FOR REDCAP

JEFF (in his 40ís) and MARY(in her 30ís) stand in front of a large (free standing) glass sliding door upstage left. Lighting effects can be thrown upon the glass. Behind them a simple living room with a sofa, chairs, and coffee table oriented on an angle. The space is small. Surrounded by black. There is space upstage in the black that can be used with the proper lighting to create the "black magic" poltergeist effect at the end of the play. The set has at least two foci ó the slider upstage and the food and drink downstage. The characters move about almost continuously. They are drinking wine. In the course of the play they become wonderfully and extraordinarily intoxicated ó a transcendent physical and emotional place of great freedom and expression. No slurring or stumbling that is not caught and transformed.

JEFF

What a beautiful night.

MARY

Yes.

JEFF

More wine? Encore du vin?

MARY

Yes.

JEFF

Here, love. Itís so bright tonight. Whereís the moon? Oh, there. Nearly full. Well, a toast to the moon ó to mania, to paradox, to cool warmth, and to light in the middle of the night.

MARY

Youíre getting just a bit tipsy, my dear. How about to the moon. Just the moon. Our moon on our snow in our backyard through our trees.

JEFF

Right.

(They drink and he refills their glasses)

JEFF

On moonlit nights like this the woods seem inhabited to me. You know fairies, goblins, trolls, elves ó the little people.

MARY

Dear, on moonlit nights like this you tend to get lit.

JEFF

Donít trample upon my fancy. Iím shocked at your lack of poetry. More wine?

MARY

Iím fine.

JEFF

Look over there. At the stupid mound.

MARY

Oh, how beautiful --- how strange. Why is the mound glowing like that? Nothing else is glowing.

JEFF

Except me, according to you.

MARY

Maybe me too. Look. Isnít it weird? Itís glowing. Itís hot. Lightís shining from it. Itís like somethingís happening.

JEFF

Well put.

MARY

Whatever. Look, goddamit!

JEFF

Ok. Iím looking.

MARY

Well?

JEFF

The moonís glistening off the snow and ice covering our idiotic mound of topsoil. Maybe one day we will get it bulldozed into a garden.

MARY

Ok. Then why isnít the rest of the snow glowing. Moon light everywhere. But itís only glowing there. Why, Mr. Wine Man?

JEFF

Why? Why, itís the angle of the moonlight. Itís the nature of the ice on the mound. Itís the refraction of the window. Itís ...

MARY

The poverty of your sense of wonder, my darling. That mound glows with a fairy party. A celebration of the full moon by timeless sprites who will dance and carouse and sing ignorant of your scientific ramblings. Just what is refraction?

JEFF

When light is deflected from its normal straight path when passing obliquely from one medium like air through another like glass or in this case maybe ice because the velocity of the light is different in the different media. Okay?

MARY

Light bends as it slows down?

JEFF

Sort of.

MARY

Sort of?

JEFF

Yeah.

MARY

Iím going out there. See if I can catch a bent ray of light ó or a fairy. Coming?

JEFF

Youíre joking.

MARY

No. Come on. Letís peek inside the mound. Check out the inhabitants.

JEFF

Letís have a glass of wine first. You hungry?

MARY

Iím curious.

JEFF

Curiosity ...

MARY

Donít you dare say it.

JEFF

"Four be the things Iíd been better without: Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt."

MARY

You donít have freckles. And not an hour ago you made me feel very much loved so whatís this crap?

JEFF

Itís Dorothy Parker. A wiseass for all occasions.

MARY

Are you going to come out there with me?

JEFF

I very much doubt it.

MARY

Why?

JEFF

I have this chardonnay. I have our cozy house. Iím just feeling comfortable.

MARY

Come on.

JEFF

No.

MARY

Letís get naked and then bundle up and go out there. Naked in boots and big coats. We can have a huge naked hug on the magic mound and catch moonlight on our pubes.

JEFF

And slip and break our bare butts on an icy rock.

MARY

Iím serious.

JEFF

So am I.

MARY

You have no sense of adventure.

JEFF

I have no sense of balance.

MARY

Youíre not that drunk.

JEFF

Oh yeah? Just watch.

(Jeff opens another wine bottle and fills his glass. The two get progressively high ó not slurring drunk, but increasingly vocal, imaginative, emotionally labile, and physically expansive.)

MARY

How manyís that?

JEFF

Iím not counting. You?

MARY

I donít want to drink wine with anyone who wonít play with me naked on a fairy mound in the moonlight.

JEFF

Suit yourself.

MARY

Please, Jeff. Humor me. I donít know why I want to go out there except that moundís glowing and look, we donít have to get naked, but ...

JEFF

I canít hold my glass properly with mittens.

MARY

Then leave it here. Weíre just going out for a second.

JEFF

Iím staying right here, Mary. Love, Iím scared of the damn thing.

MARY

What?

JEFF

Iím scared of that glowing thing out there. It doesnít make any sense. It shouldnít glow like that. Nothing else is glowing. Not the slope, not the snow in the woods, not the walk. Just the damn mound.

MARY

So letís go take a peek.

JEFF

Mary, itís an ice cocoon for a troll spider. We go out there and the mound will crack and a hairy arachnid claw will sweep us inside. Weíll be hung upside down in the glowing depths of that mound. Weíll stare and gibber and drool in the unnatural heat of the cocoon. Weíll sweat and drool and the spider will drink from our puddles. Then it will suck our juices very slowly. Weíll shrivel and shrink, but we wonít die. The spider will lay a single egg on your tongue and one on mine. The taste will make us gag. When the eggs hatch we will feel the little hairy spiders pull themselves down our throats leg over leg.

MARY

You really are silly. Itís not horrible. Itís a skylight to an underground villa belonging to a fairy fashion designer. She has a gala ball every thousand years in show off her new line of snowflakes. She invites the entire population of New England sprites, pixies, elves, gnomes, banshees, boggarts, bogeys, henkies, lubbard fiends, goblins, mermaids in wheel chairs, seal maidens, seelies, selkies, tatter foals, yarthkins, will oí the whisps, and wilkies. Very occasionally, perhaps, once every thousand thousand years she invites a mortal couple. But only if this mortal couple have just made love and still, even if ever so slightly, stink. A wiff of sex secures the invitation. So if we shuck our clothes, bundle up, and visit, the mound will open wide and the fairy laughter will embrace us. We will be taken in and bathed in a chrystalline pool with polished copper pipes. We will be wrapped in fairy furs, wined, dined, and have elven poetry read

in our honor. You see, the water we bathed in will be distilled for our scent. The gallons and gallons of water will be reduced to one drop of pure essence of our love. The fairy queen will arrive just as this drop is caught in a diamond dish. She will grant us eternal joy and drink the drop to ensure the immortality of the

realm. We will be forever blessed and the fairy kingdom will be renewed for another thousand millennia.

JEFF

Mary, look at the mound now. The glow is pulsing. Isnít it? Am I drunk or is the light moving?

MARY

Youíre nicely plastered, darling and the moundís . . .

JEFF

The glow is moving.

MARY

Itís moving.

(She goes around the room turning off lights the better to see the glow from the mound. The glow pulses on the large glass slider upstage.)

JEFF

Weíve become infected by the glow. Weíre having visions.

MARY

Enchantment.

JEFF

Iím terrified of spiders and youíve read way too much Yeats. We suffering moon mound glow fancies.

MARY

Glamour.

JEFF

What?

MARY

When the faires cast a spell. Before fashion got the word, glamour meant the enchantment of fairies on humans.

JEFF

Thatís most helpful.

MARY

The light is moving in that mound, I swear. Iím beginning to be scared too.

JEFF

(takes the bottle, drinks two quick glasses, and opens another)

This is a experiment.

MARY

Another?

JEFF

I prying open my mind. Iím casting off my moorings. Bacchus against Puck. Avoid panic and fortify my senses.

MARY

Jeff, itís blinking!

JEFF

One if by land and two if by sea.

MARY

Jeff, quick!

JEFF

(He joins her at the window and they are lit by a slowly pulsing light through the slider.)

Holy shit.

MARY

(She begins to sing in a wavering voice of fear.)

"Holy, holy, holy

Merciful and mighty

dum de dum de dum dum dum"

JEFF

(pulling her away from the slider)

Mary?

MARY

(still singing)

Hymns, holy songs of protection!

"Only thou art holy"

JEFF

"We three Kings of Orient Are

dum de dum we travel so far

Field and mountain

MARY and JEFF

"Silent night, holy night

All is calm

All is bright ... "

(At that line the light in the window becomes blinding and they both yell and run to hide downstage the sofa. The light suddenly goes out. The stage is black.)

JEFF

Wow.

MARY

Wow.

JEFF

When I was about five years old I used to believe there were monsters under my bed. I had to sleep with my face to the wall ó real close, nose to wall close ó or they would get me. That went on for some time. One night I woke up and I had shifted in bed and I was lying on my back. There was a light coming from under my bed. I was terrified. I couldnít move. I could see the ceiling in the light. Shadows.

MARY

Jeff, do you feel a draft?

JEFF

Yeah, I think so. Let me get a light.

MARY

Careful.

JEFF

Iím fine

(A crash as he knocks over a tray.)

Damn.

(He turns on the standing lamp. The slider is wide open. The curtains are blowing in a wind through the slider.)

MARY

Shut that damn thing, Jeff.

(She moves very cautiously about, looking for signs of an intruder. She gets one wine bottle, gives it to Jeff, and opens another. She swigs from the bottle.)

JEFF

(He shuts the slider.)

Why me? What are you doing?

MARY

What you said ó avoiding panic. Weíll bash it or toast it. Weíll pour it a libation. Sacrifice our Latour to it, or shove a bottle up its nose.

JEFF

Wherever. Look, Mary, this is ridiculous. Thereís nothing out there. Just the light on the snow on the mound. And that slider ó it slid. In the wind. A gust, I guess.

MARY

Jeff, please.

(She has gone up to the slider and takes a long swig from the bottle as the pulsing light begins to shine once again.)

Itís in the house.

JEFF

Whatís in the house?

MARY

Donít, just donít get stupid and logical. Itís in ó a gnome, or a boggart, maybe a bogey, a henkie, or God forbid, a lubbard fiend.

(Bottles at the ready they stand back to back and slowly search the room, always touching ó in tight orbit.)

MARY

Have you ever heard of a Boobachod? Heís a bogey. Can be dangerous. Hates teetotallers ...

JEFF

Weíre safe there.

MARY

And ministers. Maybe the hymns werenít such a good idea. A Boobachod took a dislike to a Baptist preacher ó I read it in Campbell ó it jerked away his stool when he prayed, rattled the fire tongs, grinned in at the window, and finally scared the preacher out of town by appearing as his double.

JEFF

That would get me packing ó to meet another you. What are we looking for?

MARY

A Bogey.

JEFF

A bogey?

MARY

Right. Or maybe a Bogle.

JEFF

Here Humphrey. Humphrey Bogey. Here Bogey, Bogey.

(She drops her bottle of wine and becomes rigid. Her physicality is changed, but not into some Frankenstein or monster. Cooly rigid and unobtainable.)

JEFF

Hey, darling, watch it! That thereís the fourth to the last bottle. Mary? Mary? Whatís the matter. Are you alright? Mary. Okay, jokeís over. Let me get you a glass of wine ó from the rescued bottle. Here.

(She takes the wine and very deliberately and simply pours it over Jeffís head)

JEFF

What the hell? Oh thatís very funny, Mary. Whatís got into you?

(Jeff grabs her by the shoulders. With a sudden, precise blow of her forearms, Mary knocks his arms away. She walks to the slider and opens it wide. The wind blows the curtain and the light from the mound gets brighter. She reaches out towards the light.)

JEFF

Youíre scaring me, Mary. Letís close the slider and call it a night.

MARY

(out into the light)

Tianoch, glee nai foganoth. Tianoch, Boobachod nai sli foganoth. Lep glee heathu. Rangi glep gee thuhea. Boobachod gee pel nothga.

JEFF

Holy shit.

MARY

Rapture.

(Jeff staggers back and finds a bottle which he upends swallowing a mighty daught. She closes the slider and the light subsides. As she turns she is completely herself. The possession is suspended. She sits in a chair.)

MARY

God, Jeff, arenít you taking this casting your moorings experiment a bit far? Oafish excess is not stylish.

JEFF

Mary? Whatís going on? Mary? You were just at the open door chanting some ó I donít know ó incantation. You poured wine on me and you hit me and ...

MARY

What are you talking about? Iíve been sitting here watching you drink.

JEFF

What about Humphrey Bogey? What about the slider and the light from the mound?

MARY

Come on, Jeff! You get sloppy drunk and babble about troll spiders in the mound and pour wine all over yourself and Iím supposed to find that fun?

JEFF

Wait a minute here ó letís just pause a moment ó letís take a little time out here. Youíre playing a joke on me. A complicated, devious joke. Getting me back for setting fire to the driveway last summer. You got me. Fairís fair. You got me good. I was terrified. Either you had lost your mind, or I had lost mine, or we were invaded by the wee people from the mound and I was too drunk to know which. Still am. Hooooooooo! You got me good.

(He laughs and within the laughter watches Mary intently ó although clearly heís seeing her double ó to determine if heís got the right read. Mary is quiet.)

JEFF

Hooooooeeeeee. I bet I looked a sight. That was genius! When you were calling out to the mound! Wow! "Tiamfeltburger, flopdoodle, bang." I nearly passed out. I did pee my pants. I did.

(Mary rises and goes upstage of the couch as he is speaking. She stiffens again ó possessed in the same fashion. Slowly, without any effort she rises up behind the couch. She is levitating, growing larger and larger as the light from the slider shines on her again. Jeff is terrified. He stands. She reaches out one arm towards him. A fireball erupts from her hand directly at him. Jeff faints or passes out. He drops like a stone. Mary drops her pose and falls over onto the couch laughing. She is possessed with triumphant laughter. She canít stop. Her lines are spoken through the laughter whenever she can get a breath.)

MARY

Oh Jeff, look at you. My God! Oh sweet Jesus. Are you all right? Oh, poor baby, youíre breathing. My darling Boobachod, I got you good! Yes, oh yes, oh, baby. GOOD! Here you go, baby Boobachod.

(She places a pillow under his head, still erupting in laughter. She wonít get over her triumph until the blackout. She covers him up with a blanket.)

MARY

Nighty night, little Boobachod. Donít let the bogles bite.

BLACKOUT

(The scene is the same. Jeff is curled up on the floor, covered with an afghan from the couch. Mary is off. As the scene opens she comes in through the slider coiling a long electric cord. She brings in a large lighting unit. It is clear she has created the moundís light. She is humming "Silent Night".)

MARY

Lover? Jeff, dear, wake up, Boobachod. Time to climb to bed. Come on, Jeff. Thatís it. Hey ó

JEFF

Whoa, God, what time is it?

MARY

Late, darling. About 3.

JEFF

Wow ó Iíve had such a dream. Oh, God, 3 am ó damn early for a hangover.

MARY

Baby, Iím sorry

(She begins to laugh.)

MARY

You went for the entire onion, the whole ticket, hook. line, and sinker. Iím sorry. I never thought. I .... Boobachod!

JEFF

Yeah! Yeah! That was the name in the dream ó Boobachod ó holy shit.

MARY

Holy shit. Oh, Jeff. Are you all right. Headache? Numb tongue?

JEFF

Iím ok. Got to get some wine.

MARY

Wait Jeff, weíve had enough. Weíve had too much enough. Letís go up. Come on, baby.

JEFF

No, Mary, Iíve got to put some wine out.

MARY

Out of the bottle and into your belly, donít you mean?

(Jeff staggers up and moves about the space eccentrically. Heís reliving parts of his dream, checking out spots where the fairies of this dream played with him. Where they told him secrets, revealed possible futures, and made him make promises.)

JEFF

Come on, Jeff! Youíre out of your mind. Beddy Bye! Follow me. Just one foot then the other. Just like this. Here, boy.

JEFF

Whooops. I remember you laughing. You were laughing at me. That wasnít part of the dream. That was on the way there. Mary.

MARY

Yes.

JEFF

Tonight. The first part.

MARY

What was the first part?

JEFF

Where the mound was glowing. We were drinking in a civilized fashion. Then you goofed on me. You set me up and pulled the lever and you dropped me into the shit.

MARY

Oh my beeeautiful Boobachod,

JEFF

Donít call me that. Shhhh. Donít even breathe that name for a bit. Please.

MARY

OK. Now are we to bed or .......

JEFF

We have to talk.

MARY

I was afraid of that. But please, Jeff, no more wine.

JEFF

Oh yes, more wine. Itís been ordered.

MARY

Not by me.

JEFF

By Redcap.

MARY

By a redcap? No, Jeff, weíre to bed. Have a drink on the train in your sleep.

JEFF

I just did ó in my dream. And Iíve got to buy a round tonight. For Redcap. Before first light.

MARY

Whatís a redcap? Another Jeffism for nightcap?

JEFF

Redcap is a good fellow, but he is also a sort of reformed, maybe retired, border goblin. He re-dyes his cap in human blood. Thatís bad. But he seems pretty ok just now.

MARY

Now?

JEFF

Let me just get everything sorted out. You played a joke tonight?

MARY

(dissolving into laughter)

Didnít I? Oh, baby, if I had only videotaped it.

JEFF

Sure tops the driveway.

MARY

You bastard.

JEFF

Come on. You just got me back big time. At least I controlled the fire. Never came close to your car.

MARY

What do you mean, Jeff?

JEFF

Fairies are real. You woke them up. What was it? Some sort of lighting rig out there?

MARY

Yes, and Jeff, Iím serious. We are going to bed. I am anyhow.

JEFF

And rising up over the couch?

MARY

Electric lift and goodnight. Iím going to bed.

JEFF

Mary. Please. Give me five minutes. We need to talk.

MARY

Donít be poor loser. I got you. But youíve gotten me before. Letís sleep it off.

JEFF

The time you had me arrested for smuggling.

MARY

Searched and detained. But you raised such a fuss. How about the time you blew up in the restaurant?

JEFF

And I made a terrrific segue into "Happy Birthday"? Mary, this isnít altogether such a good joke.

MARY

Whimp.

JEFF

After the fireball ó by the way how did you do that?

MARY

Flashpaper.

JEFF

Nice. I passed out.

MARY

You sure did.

JEFF

I fell into Faery. The fancies are real. The mound is inhabited. You just woke them up. I have had about a week there. God, my hangover is from Faery, not from here. That explains the timing.

MARY

Youíre serious?

JEFF

Yes.

MARY

Whoís Redcap?

JEFF

Heís the guy I hung out with. He took me to all the haunts. They are mostly after- hours-clubs-like fairy hangouts.

MARY

I thought you said I woke them up.

JEFF

To us. They had forgotten. We forgot them. They forgot us. For them it seems the world is just as amusing without people.

MARY

And now.

JEFF

They remember the old ways.

MARY

And Redcap?

JEFF

In his time he has been a particulary nasty brownie. A goblin actually. God, can he drink! Heís not so bad now. His cap is pink.

MARY

Describe him.

JEFF

Heís a short, thickset old man. A belly. Ass crack as he bends over. He has skinny arms, but very nasty claws for nails. Big teeth. Some broken, some missing, all discolored. Scary teeth. Bristly beard and bad eyes ó very red. Lots of hair. And can he ever drink.

MARY

Nice try. Youíre just taking me for a ride and dosing your hangover with our Latour.

JEFF

I have to put a glass out before dawn.

MARY

And naturally it has to be the last glass.

JEFF

Precisely.

MARY

Iím going to bed.

(The mound begins to pulse with light again.)

JEFF

Mary, darling, look.

(She looks, turns back to him incredulously and bursts into laughter.)

MARY

YOU CRAZY SON OF A BITCH! How did you work it? Wait! My stuff.

(She runs to where she has stashed her effects. She drags them out. Turns to the window again.)

MARY

Hats off.

JEFF

I wish I could take credit. This is your doing.

MARY

Enough already. Jeff, I surrender. You are the master. I thought I really got you, but you have gracefully recouped. Touché. How did you do it?

JEFF

Redcap. Heís reminding me I owe him a round.

MARY

I give up. I surrender absolutely and unconditionally. Jeff, turn off the light, please.

JEFF

I canít, Mary. Redcap is real. Boobachod (whispered) is real. Faery is real.

MARY

You played so perfectly tonight. You made me laugh. You wouldnít come out the mound naked with me, you stinker, but what a night! Please donít push now. Iím too tired to play. Tell me in the morning about the light. Iím so tired you can see through me.

JEFF

Alright, Mary.

MARY

Are you coming?

JEFF

Soon. Iíve got to put out the glass.

MARY

I love you, you maniac.

JEFF

You mean lunatic.

MARY

Whatever. (exits)

(Jeff goes over to the slider and opens it. The wind blows the curtains. The light gets brighter and brighter. Mary enters like a crazed pinball machine ó exasperation, exhaustion gone ballistic, deep fear. Sheís seeking shelter and sheís pissed.)

MARY

The whole damn forest is lit. You are lit. Stop it. Enough. Jeff, Jeff, I canít. Jeff. Please, damn you. Enough. The lightís too much. Iím scared. Stop it. Make it stop.

JEFF

I canít, love. I canít. I told you. Redcap and the gang are partying.

MARY

OK. Jeff. Prove it!

(He goes into "INCOMING" mode. He grabs Mary as objects begin to fly about the space. He upturns the coffe table and they take cover between the table and the sofa. These poltergiest effects must not swing. The object moves on a flat or rising trajectory. Itís scarey. Black magic effects are used upstage to have certain objects hover, revolve, and behave impossibly.)

JEFF

Oops.

MARY

You mean ....

JEFF

What I said.

MARY

Wow. So?

JEFF

Well, at dawn everybody crashes.

MARY

All the sprites, elves, gnomes, banshees, boggarts, bogeys, henkies, lubbard fiends, goblins, mermaids in their seaweedy wheel chairs, selkies, tatter foals, yarthkins, and wilkies?

JEFF

And Redcap and (whispering) Boobachod. Butís thatís bad.

MARY

Bad.

JEFF

Redcapís drink. I havenít put it out.

MARY

Thatís important.

JEFF

Oh yes.

MARY

And . . .

JEFF

I was there a week. I ran up some tabs. Redcap and I, well, we became buddies. He told me that centuries ago he made friends with a human. Redcap had various bogles take care of that guy and his family. They all lived together. Faires in and out. All the housework was done by the bogles. All the repairs by the brownies, and those folks were lucky. Real lucky. Today lottery wins would be regular events for those folks ó prize wagons every month. They were fairy-blessed.

MARY

And . . .

JEFF

I ran up some tabs.

MARY

And . . .

JEFF

This Redcap can be nasty. I mean, that cap of his really stinks. His relationship with that human those centuries ago didnít work out. The old man who was Redcapsís friend thought he was dying. He waited up late next to the alcohol left out for Redcap. Redcap arrived and said "Howdy" in that way of his and the old man said, "I"m dying. I want to thank you." Redcap killed him in that instant. Faires donít take well to empty words like that. The old man knew it. But he didnít expect it.

MARY

Holy shit.

JEFF

Yeah. I ran up some tabs.

MARY

Cut to the chase.

JEFF

Redcap bet me that I would forget to leave a glass of the Latour I was bragging about out for him tonight. This very night. Before first light. And I bet him I wouldnít forget and if I did leave the wine out I would win the wager and . . .

MARY

And?

JEFF

He would become my friend..

MARY

If you forgot?

JEFF

Donít ask. Anyway he looked me in the eye with such a red look. He took his cap off. He spit on it. He lifted it to my face and said, "Bet ya. Hit that spot with your spittle. I did and the deal was made.

MARY

Looks like the all clearís sounded.

JEFF

Care for a drink?

MARY

Of course.

JEFF

What time is it?

MARY

Weíre still OK.

JEFF

A toast.

MARY

To ó

JEFF

Never saying "Thank You"

MARY

Amen.

(They toast and fill a glass. They take it to the slider open the slider and are bathed in light. They put the glass out and the light goes out. They are in black.)

MARY

Amen.

JEFF

Iím curious.

MARY

Curiosity killed the cat.

JEFF

You wouldnít let me say it.

MARY

Let me turn on a light. What are you doing?

JEFF

Seeing if Latour is suitable goblin-quaff for my good friend Redcap.

(Returns with an empty glass ó he throws the glass triumphantly to the floor.)

JEFF

Hallelujah!

 

FADE TO BLACK