THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT


An Excerpt From Eldritch

a play

by by Sam Alper

Everyone is a wizard, except for Father Levit, who is a priest.Wizards wear beautiful capes.
They hold lengths of wood.
Gabriel and Zelda are a couple in wizard college.
Grizzelda and Raistlin are Zelda’s parents.
Zelda has just died. She’s died before, but she’s come back like in a videogame. This time she’s not coming back.
This is the end of the play.

//

[Three witches (1, 2 and 3) in bikinis hot-tubbing in a bubbling cauldron singing “Do you Believe in Magic” by the Lovin’ Spoonfuls. 1 sings lyrics while the others sing wordless harmony.]

2
The art that surrounds games of fantasy has three defining traits. It is romantic, sexist, and obsessed with details.

[1 and 2 dry themselves off and leave. 3 stands facing
the audience, towel-less, dripping, still.]

//


[A confessional booth. FATHER LEVIT sits on one side. GRIZZELDA on the other.]

GRIZZELDA
Immediately after leaving here I will sin.

FATHER LEVIT
I have sinned. I will sin again. Our lives are full on either side of these things.

GRIZZELDA
Five minutes ago I was standing outside wondering, ‘should I go in?’ A thousand years ago wizards weren’t allowed in churches. In a thousand more it may be that way again.


FATHER LEVIT
In a moment you’re going to tell me why you’ve come. You’ll say, ‘Father Levit, I’ve come to confess.’

GRIZZELDA
Father Levit, I’ve come to confess. For the past two years I’ve been committing adultery. About once a month in the bathroom of a Starbucks. It’s been two years since my daughter died. That’s my excuse. I know there’s no excuse for what I’ve done but that is mine. He’s young and confident. I don’t know his real name. He tells me to call him Magic. I can’t take the name seriously in regular conversation. My aunt had a dog named Magic, a black poodle. But as a name to moan it does fine. It does better than Burt. Or Morton.

FATHER LEVIT
In the very furthest future sex will be so enjoyable that moaning words will be impossible. Thought will be impossible. It will be all consuming. As a priest I know this through divination.

GRIZZELDA
In the ancient past people had names like “Magic.” Names like “River” or “Schoolbus” or “Catydid.”

FATHER LEVIT
Moments ago we were speaking of adultery. I’d like to go back to moments ago.

GRIZZELDA
I’m going to go home and tell my husband. We’ve been speaking the same language together for too long. We understand each other too well. I’m going to go home and be strange to him and say, “I am a completely different person now. You have to get to know me all over again.” If he says he wants to, I’ll stay. That’s how marriages should be saved, I think. Becoming strangers again. Working from there.

FATHER LEVIT
I too will go home to my wife. What I will say though...She hates my thinning hair. She hates that we have failed to create children and yet all day people call me “Father.” She hates so many things. Though maybe she doesn’t anymore, I haven’t asked in a while. It’s a common misconception that priests aren’t allowed to marry. The truth is we aren’t allowed to marry happily. This is not an abstraction, it’s in the scriptures.

[Pause. A slight buzzing.]

GRIZZELDA
I feel lost.

FATHER LEVIT
Five hail—

GRIZZELDA
No, not yet.

FATHER LEVIT
Hmm. The last two restaurants I’ve been to I’ve eaten all the dinner rolls. I haven’t ordered entrees. Three hail—

GRIZZELDA
No.

FATHER LEVIT
How many do you want to do?

GRIZZELDA
I like hearing you talk.

FATHER LEVIT
Really?

GRIZZELDA
Yes.

[Pause.]

FATHER LEVIT
Say it again.

GRIZZELDA
I like hearing you talk. I like hearing you through the wall. Your voice has a richness to it.

FATHER LEVIT
Thank you. I almost started to cry. Thank you.

GRIZZELDA
Tell me something. From your personal past.

FATHER LEVIT
I was in divinity school. She was in my healing class. We had to practice with a partner. The laying on of hands. We would cut ourselves with a kitchen knife, on the palms like for a blood oath. Then the partners would heal each other. She had the most beautiful green eyes. I don’t use the word verdant much and really mean it. I say, in sermons, “the verdant fields of Eden,” but the word doesn’t feel like anything. Her eyes were verdant, lush. You could tell she saw everything as if by the light of a full moon after a light rain. Everything had that stillness and clarity for her. I was awful. I left her with scars on her hands and the teacher would have to make them go away. She always healed me perfectly, and right away. I could tell she didn’t like seeing anyone in pain, she would start before the teacher would tell her. She either died or dropped out. There were rumors both ways.

//

[Three women in cloaks are standing on a hill. In front of them is a cauldron with a board laid over the top. On the board is ZELDA’s outstretched body.]

[1 sprinkles some powder over her.]

2
[Still.]

3
A park after light rain. A full moon. Hitachi maybe. Old schoolyard walls, painted over and over. That stillness and clarity. Not the sickness that comes with Doritos and dreaming but real watching out. The idea of having presence. Internal and external and the ternal between.

[RAISTLIN enters, still armored. He takes off his helmet and kneels.]

[The three witches sing the wordless harmonies to “Do you Believe in Magic” earnestly.]

[The hill is also a living room. GRIZZELDA sits on a couch holding a Starbucks coffee cup. She crumples it in her fist. The sounds of a front door being unlocked. FATHER LEVIT enters.]

FATHER LEVIT
I’m home.

GRIZZELDA
Hi, darling.

FATHER LEVIT
Oh. It’s you. What happened to my wife?

GRIZZELDA
I am a completely different person now. You have to get to know me all over again.

FATHER LEVIT
Oh. I want to get to know you.

GRIZZELDA
I can tell you right now: I have brown eyes. They’re not verdant. They look like dirt.

FATHER LEVIT
That’s fine. I am incapable of having children.

GRIZZELDA
I don’t want them.

FATHER LEVIT
My hair is thinning.

GRIZZELDA
It’s nice. I can tell you’re not hiding anything in it.

[They can suddenly hear the witches singing.]

FATHER LEVIT
Want to make this our song?

GRIZZELDA
Yes. I like it better like they’re doing it now. Without the words.

[They dance, slowly, with great precision and sentimentality.]

[GABRIEL enters, holding a length of wood.]

GABRIEL
I won’t waste any time on context. I feel I can speak freely now. I was seeing this woman in a Starbucks bathroom and we had a game where she called me “Magic.” I feel as I’ve been living in games for a very long time. I don’t know if you’re dead for real, or if it’s just that you’ve finally stopped loving me. You can look back at our time together and find great stretches of time when I didn’t treat you well, when I took you for granted. Blame it on a history with games of fantasy, but I’ve always felt I would have as many chances to start over as I needed.

[GABRIEL places his wand on the board next to ZELDA.]

3
A park after light rain. A full moon. Hitachi maybe. That stillness and clarity. Not the dream of ourselves we form in waiting. Not the 10 million ways we trick ourselves. The ways we’ll never know we did. Not the sickness that comes with Doritos and dreaming. But real watching out. What is a spell but an amount of time, usually brief?

The end.