The Wafer | Arthur Meiselamn | Scene4 Magazine - August 2016

Arthur Meiselman

The time... anytime.
The place... anywhere.

Scene 1.The Haunting

(There is darkness. A shaft of light outlines the top of a jagged, high wall. A man appears, walking slowly along the wall. He stops at the center and leans against it . )

VOICE:  (whispering) Turn around! Turn around!

OTHER VOICES:  Turn around!

(The crowd of voices repeat the phrase over and over each time more loudly. Suddenly, there is a scream. The whispers continue. Other screams are heard in the distance. The man does not move. A dull, mournful chant begins behind the incessant whispers. The piercing scream again, followed by sobbing. As the clamor builds, the man turns his face into the wall.)

VOICE:  (sharply) Turn around Juan Castia!

(The crowd voices stop. The man straightens up. As he slowly turns his head, a bright shaft of light covers him. He raises his hand in front of his eyes.)

VOICE:  Turn around!

(He drops his hand, turns to face the light,  and squints at its glare. He begins to sway, rolling his head. The chanting begins again.)

VOICE:  We are waiting.

MAN:  Waiting? Who are you?

VOICE:  What are your words?

MAN:  Words? What words?

(The chanting becomes louder.)

VOICE:  Have you nothing more to say... to the people?

MAN:  People? I don't see any people... I can't see anyone.

(He tries to step forward.)

Wait! Who are you?

OTHER VOICES:  (whispering repeatedly) Words...Words...Words!

VOICE:  Speak quickly, Juan Castia, the people are impatient.

MAN:  The people? The people?

SECOND VOICE:  Say the truth!

MAN:  Yes...The truth.

THIRD VOICE:  Say guilty!

MAN: (quietly) Yes... guilty.

(There are shouts and cheers.)

MAN: (angrily) WAIT!

VOICE:  You say, guilty, Juan Castia, to all the charges?

MAN:  Guilty to the charges? Guilty? I don't know what the charges are.

(There is jeering laughter from the crowd.)

OTHER VOICES:  The wall!  The wall!

(He feels behind him, turns frantically, runs his hands along the wall, turns back.)

MAN:  Why am I here?

VOICE:  You say you are guilty?

MAN:  Guilty?

(He tries to peer into the darkness.)

Of what?

VOICE:  Robbery, guilty! Rape, guilty! Murder... Guilty!

MAN:  No... No!

OTHER VOICES:  Say the truth. Say the truth.

MAN:  The truth, yes... I am guilty... No, not of those things.

(The crowd hoots and jeers.) 

WAIT! I've never murdered anyone. I'm guilty of murder, but I've never murdered anyone. I'm guilty of rape, but I've never raped anyone. Don't you understand? I've done nothing against the people, my crimes are...

VOICE:  We've heard your confession, Juan Castia.


VOICE:  We've heard your confession... of... treason!

MAN:  What? How can you say treason...

OTHER VOICES:  Treason! Guilty! Treason!

MAN:  I am Juan Castia.

VOICE:  You are a traitor!

MAN:  I am Juan Castia... they love me... I am their hope...

OTHER VOICES:  (whispering) Traitor! Guilty traitor! Traitor!

MAN:  (screaming) I AM NOT A TRAITOR!

(He searches the darkness desperately, trapped by the light and the confines of the wall.) 

MAN:  I'm guilty, yes, but not of any crimes, not of treas... I have given my life to give the people their lives.

VOICE:  The pride of a murderer.

MAN:  (angrily) I AM THE PEOPLE...(quickly) and they are me!

(The chanting is heard again.) 

VOICE:  You and the people are one? Is that your defense? Then listen to them, listen to yourself.

(The voices of the chanting crowd grow louder, more violent. Words are layered on top of each other"guilty, pain, robbery, murder, traitor". Suddenly it stops.)

MAN:  (quietly)Yes.(The crowd hoots and yells.)

VOICE:  Your words, Juan Castia, your last words.

(The MAN holds up his hands, opens his mouth wide and flaps his jaw, but cannot speak  to the laughter and delight of the crowd.

VOICE:  Where is your courage when faced with your guilt? Are you also a coward?

OTHER VOICES:  (whispering) Say anything! Say anything.

MAN:  Yes, I will say anything...

(He pushes himself forward)

Only... from the wall, take me away from the wall.

VOICE:  Are you also a coward?

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August 2016

Volume 17, Issue 3

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