“Woe of the World,” a Future Drama by Rachel Joseph

Goat
Chorus of Sufferers
Medea
Antigone
Susan
Molly
Lizzie
Orestes
Gary
Rodolfo
Ted

At rise: A ritual. Sunrise to sunset.

 

 

 

SUFFERERS

OH, THE WOE OF THE world is upon us.
Oh, the woe of the world is upon.

GOAT

Do not feast upon my body, no, feast upon my gaze.
It’s wicked.
It’s selective.
It closes the world from itself, it closes the world.

Remember my body roasting on a spit after the feast.
The feast upon your gaze.
The feast upon you vision.
Your wonder.
Your hopelessness.
Your refusals.

And when you see the sunset, don’t turn to me.
And when you see my death, don’t whisper laments.
And when you see her birth, forget me not, but forget.

And this is the goat that eats your bread, your daily news, your ridiculous self, your tin cans and sundries.

And this is the goat for sacrifice that eats from your hand, your fainting drool.

And this the goat that some say sings, but it isn’t the same as anything else. Isn’t the same as yesteryear.

It is what it is.
Is what it is.

SUFFERERS

Remember what is is.

GOAT

Recall my song and eat me whole. Eat my hole. Eat me with paprika sprinkled just so.

MEDEA

I am Medea and I murdered my babes. I am Medea—um, taxi?

GOAT

Your chariot awaits. Deus ex machina, anyone, anyone.

MATH SUFFERER

When I teach math to the nitwits in first, in second, in 12th grade, I didn’t make a fuss.
Pistol whipped. I do now.
Fuss. Whipping up a fuss.

GOAT

Tired songs of singing. Eat me or drink me or don’t—leave me on the sacrificial shelf.

MEDEA

I am Medea and I murdered my babes, a dress of poison, a lick of revenge.

SUFFERERS

She went too far by far.

MEDEA

And by far I went too far. That’s obvious.

PROSECUTOR SUFFERER

Remembering you with all the women that drowned children like kittens in a bag filled with stones and dropped to the bottom of the river, the creek, the ocean, that lake. Her name was Susan and she killed all four, or was it five?

Rolled backwards into the lake the pond the waterway and she didn’t blink as she watched them pummel the window that can never break or seldom breaks or gives only to a rock or boulder or gun shooting as if a range.

Remembering the bathtubs and she drowned all five or was it four and laid them out to dry on the grass. She laid them out to dry though they never breathed.

MADEA

Your honor, let’s kill ‘em dead, these women, kill ‘em dead.

GOAT

Order, order. We don’t do trials except when we do.

PROSECUTOR SUFFERER

If it please the court, she merely killed ‘em before you killed ‘em. See they were going to die, see? They were always going to die already and forever. And that gun that knife that car that growth that cough already got ‘em. She was saving time and resources. Think of the food not eaten the fuel not used the soccer games averted. For the good of us all.

MEDEA

And shouldn’t we really have a sacrifice once a year.

GOAT

Of who?

MEDEA

Oh, a little babe, a little innocent and we throw into the volcano, the rupture, the highway, her trembling mass, her little limbs and once we do that all is well for the rest. The rest rest now.

PROSECUTOR SUFFERER

I rest my case.

MEDEA

Exactly.

GOAT

I see. That makes everything filmy from bright, yet it seems to be almost true. I grant you reprieve.

MEDEA

Reprieve!

SUFFERERS

Shall we dance.

GOAT

This is how we dance. And don’t forget to bleat. Bleating is a forgotten art.

SUSAN

I am Susan and I drowned ‘em dead. All is forgiven.

SUFFERERS

You saw Medea.

SUSAN

Jump into a car to the heavens bucking and such all the way up to the sun.

SUFFERERS

So?

SUSAN

I’m not Medea.

SUFFERERS

You are. We celebrate you. Thank you for disposing of them so neatly. Medea was less … thoughtful.

SUSAN

Brains are hard to clean.
As is bile and mucus and bone and gristle.
Thank you for noticing. I keep a clean house.

SUFFERERS

Thank you for coming now leave from whence you came.

SUSAN

Through the river?

SUFFERERS

Wait!

GOAT

There’s Antigone, rising up from its depths.

ANTIGONE

I am Antigone and I’m not in a cave. I’m not pelted by rocks. I’ve buried the dead. I’ve gone this way and that. I’ve never given in and never said yes.

GOAT

Antigone and the no!

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

The no! The no! The no!
Medea and the cleanse!
Antigone and the no!
Susan and the slaughter.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

Thanks. I am myth.

GOAT

You are, my sweet honey, you are.

ANTIGONE

I am Antigone and I bury my dead. Where’s those kids?

SUSAN

The one’s I killed?

ANTIGONE

Exactly.

SUSAN

Oh, they’re at the bottom.

ANTIGONE

Tally-ho!

GOAT

Antigone dives to the bottom, pulls them up and begins to shovel dirt with her fingers. She buries them one by one as we watch. One by one and watched.

ANTIGONE

Your honor, remember how you said and then I said no and remember how you said more and I said no and remember how I resist and remember how I said I’ll go all dead before I say yes to the likes of you and I’ll dump the corpses in the mass graves, shovel the limestone, then lock up in my cave where I may hang myself or not. I may have broken my neck and it wouldn’t matter.

GOAT

You are what we say you are.

ANTIGONE

No.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

You are what we imagine.

ANTIGONE

No.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

Then, pray tell, what should we do?

ANTIGONE

Kill ‘em all. Line ‘em up. Kill ‘em.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

Like the wild, wild west.

ANTIGONE

Exactly.
I’m a good shot.
I’ve a pistol

SUSAN

I’ve a remembrance.
This remembrance is strange and seems to have Guts. Gutted and all.
Like cat guts.
Those kittens in a well, in your freezer, that you smashed.

MEDEA

Gutted.

ORESTES

I’m Orestes and I could kill you for that.

MEDEA

Forget it. You’re kinda ineffectual. Kinda on the lam.

ORESTES

I’ll sick my sicko sister on you.

MEDEA

And how.

ORESTES

Hey! This is serious.

GOAT

Don’t devolve. Let’s visit Gary.

GARY

I’m Gary. I’m in shorts a t-shirt with victorious printed on it with bullet holes. I’m watching TV and eating Cheetos. My fingers are orange. I’m ineffectual to the point that it’s endearing. You don’t know any of this.

My wife, Molly. Feeds me, feeds the dog the cat the reptile the gerbil and uh, oh, the kids.

MOLLY

Don’t worry. I won’t kill ‘em. Yet.

GARY

Don’t worry. She won’t kill ‘em. Until she maybe does.

MOLLY

Or not.

GARY

She’s a can-do. A can-do spirit.
She loves ol’ Gary with the orange hands like a “tiger, tiger burning bright.” She eats a Cheetos and swoons so she doesn’t eat one.

One must keep her wits about her. That’s me. Some have called me witless (Mr. President, Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Man, Mr. Big-Shot)

She’s witless.

MOLLY

Hardly. He doesn’t know I’ve dusted those Cheetos with death.

GARY

Hell, I’ve eaten death and now I’m ….

MOLLY

Dead.

SUFFERERS

She fought the law and the—

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

—bitch won.

GOAT

Gary is dead and now he floats around taking care of household chores.

MOLLY

So helpful.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

So dreamy.

MOLLY

Gary, don’t forget to take out the trash.

GARY

I’m all done dead but sure sweetie my corpse can take care of that.

MOLLY

Just a spoonful of sugar for these little sweets.

SUFFERERS

Your children.

MOLLY

Not these chocolates, they need more sugar.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

For the children.

MOLLY

For Gary. The dead run on sugar not on air or rotting or any other ghostly rumors.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

Ah.

GOAT

Tell me my song.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

Here it goes: You are the goat and you’ve been in some plays. You’ve worked all day and night and aren’t seen in the dark and for some reason people want to sacrifice you to the wolves who have their own thing and all.

Molly, kill.

MOLLY

Oh, sure.
Come here babies, let me wrap this dead chicken round your neck. Then I can feel sorry for not killing.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

Then what?

MOLLY

Then you can suck your thumb for comfort or remembering and all that.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

Then what?

MOLLY

Then you can come to Mommy and get your brains bashed in.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

Ouchy.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

You said it now me.
Kill, mommy. Kill.
I’ll send you along to get killed at school eventually, so why not now.
Make a myth.
A pocketful of myth will fill your empty tummies.

MOLLY

My hair is on fire.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

A bonus.

ANTIGONE

I am Antigone—let me bury your dead.

MOLLY

Oh, sure. Remember Lizzie and all those thwacks? Well, I’ve outdone her by four thwacks. Four!

ANTIGONE

Fantastic.

MOLLY

Text Rodolfo and tell him the good news. (Rodolfo is my lover.)

RODOLFO

I’m Rodolfo and I’m her lover. I’m her reason without a rhyme.

GOAT

Tell us.

RODOLFO

Unlike Orestes, I just want to fuck and lick pussy. And that’s what I’ll do until Antigone buries me good.

MOLLY

Nice lover.

RODOLFO

Thanks Mol.

And let’s make love and by that I mean to have you enter me like a burglar that bungles.

MOLLY

And that’s what I’ll do.

RODOLFO

Oh, oh.
Did Gary ever know?

MOLLY

Hell sure
Yes, siree.
He participated when I asked him to film.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

Revenge porn.

MOLLY

Nah. Just the facts Jack.

RODOLFO

I am Rodolfo star of stage and screen.

MOLLY

And star of my pussy.
Star of my breasts.
Star of the nighttime and daytime too.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

Oh, Rodolfo can you fuck us all too?

RODOLFO

Howdy, all. If I can be a cowboy for a day, I can do that.

GOAT

Surely.

RODOLFO

Howdy. Okey dokey.

GOAT

We digress.
This is what goes on between the high points like all the deaths and gloom and sobbing.
It’s all over till the weeping. Someone said, “It’ll end in tears.” And it did.

BAD SINGER SUFFERER

And I said, “American Idol” and it came true.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

Fame?
Fortune?

BAD SINGER SUFFERER

My humiliation. My walking out the wrong door. My wrong note. That scowl. That lack of ticket, that no way no how.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

So, sad.

BAD SINGER SUFFERER

Yeah. And that is life no looming glory. It’s all just sucked dry and sinking.

GOAT

Did you censor?

BAD SINGER SUFFERER

Yeah.

GOAT

What?

BAD SINGER SUFFERER

It will remain buried here.

GOAT

Forever.

SUFFERERS

And ever.

MEDEA

And this is where I open up my eyes—I am Medea—where is Jason that whore?

JASON/GARY

I’m Jason and I’ve been pretending to be Gary.

MOLLY

Well, where’s Gary?

ANTIGONE/GARY

I’m Gary, even though I’m Antigone. I’m fluid and without borders.

MOLLY

Fantastic, I applaud.

GOAT AND SUFFERERS

The bravery.
The honesty.
The situation.
Gary.
And her the great burier of the centuries past.

ANTIGONE

Gary couldn’t thank you all enough. Antigone wishes you to fuck right off and die so she can dig a lame and shallow grave.

TED

Speaking of shallow graves …

GOAT

Oh, here’s good ‘ol Ted.

TED

Speaking of unspeakables …

GOAT

Charmin’ Ted.

TED

Biting nipples from east to west.

GOAT

That’s Ted.

TED

Howdy, folks!

MOLLY

You didn’t kill me.

TED

Wink, wink. I will yet—just give me time to break out of jail out of death out of sight out of mind and I’ll bungle you dead all right. I’ll bungle you dead.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN

What’s he doing here?

GOAT

Tragedy—some say. Others say good riddance. Others study up for future funny games

TED

Which bitch, I say. Which bitch is which?

SUSAN

I’m Susan, I killed four or was it five kids.

TED

Fuck you. I don’t want to kill no kid killer.

MEDEA

But I’m Medea. Ripe to kill.

TED

Forget it, even though your hair is blonde or brown or auburn.
Pummel those school girls into submission.
With a branch from a tree.
With a knife from the handy store.
With a bucket from the beach.
With a weapon from a toy.
These are kill joys each and every.

ANTIGONE

Listen up! I’m Antigone.

MEDEA

And I’m Medea.

ORESTES

And don’t forget about Orestes.

ANTIGONE/GARY

And don’t forget about Gary.

MOLLY

Or Molly.

TED

Or Ted—I’ll take you all out, every last motherfucking one of you.

SUFFERERS

Oh, sing. Sing. Prepare for the slaughter and sing a little tune to welcome the blows. The bludgeoning, etc.

LIZZIE

I’m Lizzie, but I’m overexposed.

TED

Go kill your folks somewhere else.

LIZZIE

Okay.

TED

Okay. Okey dokey. Where are the scum?

SUSAN

The flotsam on the lake.
The boat.

GOAT

But isn’t it time to hear from them …
From the babes.
From the innocents.

SUFFERERS

What will they say?

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

Bleat bleat. Here’s the beating of my heart that isn’t thumping along no more. Mommy drowned us all. Mommy beat us all. Mommy suffocated my sister, my brother, my everything. My lungs have burst I’m done dead.

GOAT

Do you have a lesson?

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

Like in school?

GOAT

Sure.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

Yes. Don’t say no, do. Don’t say yes and you’ll still die. Don’t say yummy, don’t say fun, and you’ll still go and die. Don’t say anything and yet say something and still you’re dead. Don’t wear blue or gold or red or sparkles and you’re dead, or do? If you sing you’re dead and you’re shot you’re dead or you might get beat up or triumph or not. It’s okay, little one, to not do what she says or do it still and then you might just trip or not or kiss or not or fuck or not and you shouldn’t do so when you are little or not but you’re still all done and dead. Ablaze.

MEDEA

Set the little ones ablaze.

GOAT

‘Member?

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

Can we all go through a maze first.

GOAT

Sure, but don’t escape.

SUFFERERS

Run from death. Run from death. Where’s he been? Where’s she been? Just curl up and burst forth and run.

GOAT

You can’t outrun if I can’t—my throat slit roasted on a spit thrust to gods.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

I’ll run despite myself despite losing a shoe and a prince chasing and all that I’ll run past old age and shit and cancer and shit and guns and shit and nuclear holocaust and shit and I’ll run and moonwalk past all the celebrity graves. I’ll try to go underwater and hold my breath. “I’ll bury you,” says Antigone.

ANTIGONE

Yes, yes, I will.

MEDEA

That’ll do it.

SUSAN

Cheat death.

MOLLY

Yeah. You live and bury and then live again.

LIZZIE

Oh, boy.

ANTIGONE

That’s right “mister death” as someone once intoned. A tomb for all!

GOAT

Burying them all brings them back alive and that’s how we’ll leave it with the children winning and singing underground. You can’t come back, but you can sing underground. Keep singing!

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

Flowers grow and flowers die and they poke through my eye as they reach for the sky

SUFFERERS

Go! Go! Go! Kids go.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

Drowned dead.

GOAT

Or not.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

We’ll all play in the dirt without anyone getting wise.

GOAT

Fun.

SUFFERERS

What about the flames?

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

Cinder often talks. Often. It floats and that’ll be what you do.

LIZZIE

Susan killed me but now I’m chatting on the phone and texting Billy.

SUFFERERS

Fantastic!

GOAT

So slit my throat now so I can go breathe underground. Bleat and such.
Kill me and this is dead.
Talking to the flowers is all dead.

MEDEA, ANTIGONE, SUSAN, MOLLY, LIZZIE

No one knows but you no one knows but you. I’ll kill you. Now return the favor. Return me to the stones.

SUFFERERS

Now we have to slit you, Ted? Lizzie? Medea?

TED

Slit you or not—I’ll see you real soon.

SUFFERERS

Oh, the woe of the world is upon us. Oh, the woe of the world is upon.

(A frenzied dance. The Chorus of Sufferers slit everyone’s throats. Bleeding, Goat sinks underground.)

GOAT

Hear me dead, hear me. Let’s wake up and sing!
Wake up and sing! Wake up and sing the woe.
The woe of the world falling, appearing, edging before us.

Now we will swallow the dirt and roast on the spit with you my audience bleating away with your bleeding hearts exposed.

We rustle with rocks as we lament our fate, our world stocked as it is with evil.
And the children can’t run and don’t want to grin but can only gaze at me split ear to ear with fakedead merriment.

There we go, there we go … Woe, oh woe …
Here goes the world, here goes the world.
There it goes as it goes gone away, away!

(Woe of the world upon us.)

 

 

(The sunset fades then in a sudden flash extinguishes. Darkness.)

 

 

***

Rachel Joseph’s short stories and plays are published or are forthcoming in a range of journals ranging from North American Review and Kenyon Review Online to The Coachella Review, After the Pause, Gone Lawn, and The Brooklyn Review. She was a shortlisted finalist for the 2017 William Faulkner-William Wisdom novella competition. Additionally, she was a finalist for the 2017 Arts & Letters Drama Prize and a finalist for the 2017 Black Lawrence Press Hudson Prize. She is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Trinity University.

Image: “Demons Series – Lamia from Drag Me to Hell,” colemunrochitty, deviantart.com

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