Baltimore Writer
                                                    Waiting for Will

                                                              by Gerard Marconi  

An image slowly forms in Sam’s conscious mind: a large triangle floating in space with a chair at each corner. In his late sixties, dressed in slacks and a turtle neck, Sam sits at one corner of the triangle holding a book. Helen sits at another corner gazing at a hand held mirror. She is in her thirties, strikingly beautiful, and clad in a diaphanous gown. There is the loud sound of a heavy metallic door slamming shut and Will is thrown backward onto the triangle toward the empty chair opposite Sam. Will is in his late forties, slightly bald, with a moustache and goatee. Sam turns to look at him and notices that he is wearing tights and a doublet.

SAM: Bravo! A breech birth!

WILL:  Bloody hell! (He gets up and brushes the dust from his clothes). A man is born but once. (He looks at Sam). What are you staring at?

SAM: Just trying to deduce from your clothing where you’re from.

WILL: London, if you must know, but I grew up in a small town in Warwickshire. And you?

SAM: Paris. I’m a Frenchman now, though I came from Ireland.

WILL: Both hated equally by my countrymen. Why did you leave Ireland for France?

SAM: Wouldn’t you, with all that dreary weather and Catholic guilt?

WILL: (He considers this). Right. My name is Will.

SAM: I’m Sam.

WILL: (Gesturing toward Helen). And who might that be?

SAM: You’ll find out soon enough.

WILL: Does she speak?

SAM: She did once, long ago, but it was Greek to me. Mostly all she does is primp.

WILL: (As Helen stares at her reflection). And hold the mirror up to nature. (Looking around). What is this place?

SAM: The dark backward abyss of time.

WILL: (He considers this). Right. How long have you been here?

SAM: Eons, it seems, with no end in sight. You might as well get used to it. We’re going to be here for a very long time. Apparently I was wrong.

WILL: About what?

SAM: Waiting. It’s much worse than I thought.

WILL: What or whom are we waiting for? God?

SAM: No, his substitute.

WILL: I don’t understand.

SAM: Neither do I.

WILL: (Gazing at Helen, who smiles at him). What about her? Pleasure could make the wait more tolerable.

SAM: Even that would get boring after a while.

WILL: We could pretend she’s Cleopatra.

SAM: (Puts down his book). I hadn’t thought of that.

WILL: What are you reading?

SAM: I’ve no idea. I can’t read without my spectacles. What’s that in your hand?

WILL: A pen. I always carry a pen to make notes on what I see and hear. (He searches in his pockets). But I have no ink or paper. (He gives up and gazes longingly at Helen). Age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety.

SAM: (Recognizing the quote). Where did you say you were born?

WILL: A small town no one’s ever heard of called Stratford-Upon-Avon.

SAM: The glove maker’s son! Things just got more interesting. (He approaches Will). May I ask you something?

WILL: Ask away. It seems I’ve nowhere else to go.

SAM: How did you…? (He pauses). Did you really…? (He shrugs). I don’t know where to begin.

 WILL: Nor do I. It’s never easy but I often have help.

SAM: (Shocked). Really?

WILL: Of course. How else could I write about kings and queens or distant countries? I’ve never travelled beyond London and certainly never moved in royal circles. Are you a playwright?

SAM: (He nods). I once tried writing a play like this but someone else beat me to it.

WILL: Like this? If this were played upon a stage, I would condemn it as improbable fiction. There’s no plot. No love or poetry or spectacle. No murders or madness!

SAM: Yes. I learned too late that no one wants gloom and doom.

WILL: What you really need are things like incest, mistaken identity, and cross-dressing.

(Hearing this, Helen rises from her chair. She rearranges her clothing and glances at Will, who smiles at her).

WILL: Who ever loved that loved not at first sight? Her beauty is unsurpassed, beyond imagining.

SAM: Like a goddess.

HELEN: (She glares at them). I am not one of those spiteful immortals! (Looking into her mirror) Though I was once judged to be more beautiful than Aphrodite herself.

WILL: (He looks at Sam). Could she possibly be…?

SAM: The one that Homer and other poets wrote about?

HELEN: (She comes toward them). Those babbling twits! All they do is shout their verses around the campfire while everyone howls their approval, too stupid or too drunk to understand any of it. Their tales are all lies. Except, of course, the ones about my beauty.

WILL: How fortunate that you still have a looking glass.

HELEN: Ha! No such luck (She shows them the empty frame).

SAM: Very interesting. I have no spectacles to read with. You have no paper to write on. And she has no glass in the mirror to admire her beauty. It must be part of the plan.

WILL: What plan?

SAM: Fate. Fortune. Life’s cruel joke. Whatever you want to call it.

HELEN: The gods fucking with us again!

WILL: (He nods). As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.

SAM: (To Will). But why were you the last to arrive? You should have come after her and before me. Perhaps Einstein was right. Time is not a continuum but is curved in upon itself. I’ll have to rethink the whole notion of what happens after death. (He sits and broods).

WILL: (Trying to impress Helen). A man can die but once. Like the waves that rush toward the pebbled shore, so our minutes hasten to their end.

SAM: Will you stop with the quotes while I’m trying to think!

HELEN: (She smirks). Touchy, isn’t he?

SAM: She couldn’t possibly know about Homer because he came later.

WILL: On this great stage of fools there’s a blind poet in every age.

HELEN: You’re right. Where I come from poets and scribes are servants who know their place. If not, we blind them or cut off their balls.

WILL: (Covering his crotch). Ouch!

SAM: Sounds like Ireland, where I spent my youth listening to darkness, silence, and the dead.

WILL: Methinks you are too much given to melancholy and brooding.

SAM: It’s all an illusion. We try to look beyond our existence but can see nothing.

WILL: (With sudden awareness). Is that where we are? Is this it? The be all and end all, the consummation devoutly to be wished for?

SAM: I’m afraid so.

WILL: But I have immortal longings in me. (With enthusiasm) And we can escape from this dreary place. I know we can! (To Helen) I feel it in my heart. Will you come with me?

HELEN: I’ve had enough of sailing across the wine dark sea. It makes me sick.

WILL: (To Sam). What about you?

SAM: There is no exit from the void. You’re dreaming.

WILL: We are such stuff as dreams are made of.

SAM: No. We are a speck of dust condemned to know we are a speck of dust.

WILL: But I will dare what others fear. (He looks from one to the other). I wish you well. Love all. Trust few. Do wrong to none. And so I take my leave. (He embraces each of them and leaves. The other two stare after him for a moment until he returns). I pray you know me when we meet again. (He rushes off).

HELEN: What a strange fellow.

SAM: Yes. There was still much I wanted to ask of him.

HELEN: Then why don’t you go after him?

SAM: Because there is no exit from this place. And because he may not be who or what he claims to be.

HELEN: None of us are. (She returns to her chair). But if you’re right, he’ll be back.

SAM: (He sits in his chair and tries to read the book, but then gives up and broods). If I was wrong about death and the end of consciousness, what else did I get wrong?  Was I sleeping before? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I awake, or think I do, what shall I say about today? One day we were born. One day we shall die. The same day. The same second. The light gleams for an instant and then its night once more.

A heavy metallic door slams shut and Will is thrown backwards toward the empty chair.

HELEN: Time to begin again. (She lowers the mirror and glares at Sam). Speak to him.

Sam turns to face Will, who stares at Helen as blackness envelopes them.

 

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