It's All in You're Head

January 2, 2013
Scene 1
Spencer Deas’s Living room. Spencer is asleep on the couch, stage right. There is a desk, next to the couch, cluttered with papers and other materials. While Spencer is sleeping, the lights go up, and Jennifer walks in slowly. She organizes the desk, picks up a paper, and begins to read.
Jennifer (Reading.): “The colors of war paint the broken canvass of the ground. I hear red, I see screams, I taste the smell of congealed blood in my mouth. Stumbling, falling, I inch my way towards the nurse’s tent, twenty feet away, and yet, a mile. I reach for the flap; the sear of molten lead in my thigh, and I keel over, falling to the ground. Falling, falling, falling… (Enter Actor)
Actor: Help me…help me please…I’m…I’m dying…
Jennifer as Nurse: My God! Somebody, help this man!
Actor: Help me…please…
Spencer (Sitting up rapidly.): Help me!
Scene 2
Law Office of Deas and Braster. Spencer is working in his office. The desk is cluttered and there are papers everywhere. A knock on the door and Doris walks in. She is carrying a folder, stuffed with papers. Spencer looks up wearily and nods to her. The Secretary crosses over to center stage, where his desk is, and puts the folder down on his desk. He looks up, nods, and goes back to work. She stays standing there.
Spencer: Can I help you? (No answer.) Look, is there something I can do for you? I’m kind of busy here.
Secretary (snapping out of it): Uh...yes. Yes! There is something. Umm…Mr. Braster would like to see you. Now. Right now, before right now. (Spencer goes back to work. Pause) Umm. I’m sorry. Right now. Mr. Braster. He would like to talk to you. Um…
Spencer: Tell your boss that I will talk to him later. I’m busy.
Secretary: Umm…umm….no. (Spencer looks up, bemused.) I’m sorry! Really, umm…he won’t like that. At all. He really won’t like that. (Voice raising gradually) Please just go, Mr. Deas. He…he will yell at me. And I don’t like being yelled at. I don’t like any confrontation. I don’t like it one bit. So, Mr. Deas, will you please go over and see Mr. Braster RIGHT NOW!!!
Spencer (bemused): You can remind Mr. Braster who the senior partner of this law firm is. (The Secretary looks like she’s about to cry. Pause.) Okay, fine. I’ll come.
Secretary: Oh, thank you, Mr. Deas, thank you. Right this way, sir.
Spencer: I know. It’s my office.
Secretary: Oh, right. Sorry sir. Umm….sorry. I guess I’ll just go back to work now.
Spencer: Good idea.
(Enter Braster, furious. Secretary gasps, and slinks out of the room. Exit Secretary.)
Braster: Deas, what is the meaning of this?!
Spencer (relaxing in armchair.): I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Braster: Ah, like hell you don’t! See these files? (crosses over to desk, picks up folder, throws it at Spencer, who catches it with ease.)
Spencer: What’s to see? They’re files, I read them, and our client is obviously guilty.
Braster: That’s the problem! Right there! What, just because he’s guilty you’re not gonna’ represent him in court? How many guilty people have you defended, Spencer? How many? (Pause; Spencer is silent.) And now you’re balking on one little case? Do you know how much money we can get off this guy? Do you know how much? (Spencer doesn’t answer) He’s rolling in it, Spencer, and I don’t mean money. He’s going to go to jail no matter what. But we can still make A LOT of cash. Come on, Deas. Be sensible. (Pause.) This guy is screwed. Why won’t you just take the easy money? (Takes out a bill from his wallet, dangles it in front of Spencer’s face.) Go on, take it! Take the money! Eaaaaaasy money!
Spencer: You disgust me.
Braster: What?
Spencer: You heard me. You disgust me.
Braster: Why, of all the goddam nerve! Do you forget who got you this job, Spence? Do you forget who put with all your enviro-crap and “do good for the people” bull? Do you forget who made you a freakin’ lawyer? Huh?
Spencer: Get out.
Braster: What?
Spencer: I said get out. Get out of my office. Now. (Braster stomps out, slamming the door behind him. Spencer walks over to chair and sits down.) Christ…what am I supposed to do? I can’t quit. Everything will go to Braster, that bastard, and well…This whole place will fall around his ears. I can’t do that…and yet… (Spencer sits, silent, in his chair. Sound of e-mail.) “Studies show that stress in the home, work, or social life can be combated with a number of fun and creative activities… art, theatre, boating… many find to be helpful…”hmm. Writing. Now that’s an idea. Vent. No one will be able to talk back, tell me not to worry, give advice…just venting. Writing. That could work. (Spencer hunches over computer, sound of typing begins. Light’s go down, on Spencer’s silhouette, sound of typing still going. Smooth jazz starts playing, then overlapping the sound of gunshots, and thunder. Typing goes on. During this whole sequence, shifts bring in living room set.)
Scene 3
Spencer’s living room. Messy, etc. Hunched over computer. Typing through this whole scene. Telephone rings several times, then voicemail.
Mom on Voicemail: Spencer? Honey? Are you home? Hello? Hello? Oh. Voicemail. Okay. Spencer honey, are you okay? Jennifer told me you haven’t been out for days. Honey? Are you there? Oh. Still voicemail. Haha, silly me. Sweetie, have you been looking for jobs lately? Jennifer tells me all you’ve been doing is writing. Are you all right? We’re worried about you… (Beep. Telephone rings several times, voicemail.)
Jennifer on Voicemail: Hey Spence, it’s Jen. Are you all right? I never see you anymore…you tell me you’re busy with writing, but I don’t know what you’re doing in there. Is this because of your job? Let me help you, Spence. Let me in. I can’t help you if you keep shutting me out like this. (Pause.) Okay. Umm…I love you. I really do. Please be okay. (Beeps. Door opens, enter Actor.)
The Actor: Are you going to keep doing this, Spencer? You’re hurting yourself, you know. You’re hurting them. No? I’m not real, you know. You’re crazy. Absolutely bonkers. Did you know that about yourself? Bet you didn’t. (Laughs, then looks over to Spencer.) Wanna know what it’s all about? Wanna know how the story ends? (Spencer looks up, and nods.) You won’t like it.
Spencer (voice hoarse): I don’t care.
The Actor: Really?
Spencer: Tell me.
The Actor: Well how should I know? I’m a part of you. Did you know that? I’m just a hallucination? (Spencer shakes his head.)
Spencer: Why are you here?
( Actor laughs.)
The Actor: Why am I here? I don’t know…why is anyone crazy? I’m your comforter, I guess. Moses had Joshua, Jonah had the whale, Job had Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. I’m your wake up call, Spencer. WAKE UP!!! (Lights flashing, red and blue and yellow. Exit Actor. Screams, gunshots, people crying, all overlapping eachother. Sound of alarm, piercing through.)
Spencer (sitting up rapidly): Help me! (Jennifer comes running into the room, sees Spencer screaming. Runs over to him.)
Jennifer: What’s wrong?! Are you okay? (Grabs Spencer by shoulders, looks into his eyes.) Are you okay?
Spencer (breaking out into sobs): No…no…I’m not. Jen, I…I’m scared, Jen. I keep seeing things, hearing things…things I don’t want. Things I’m not supposed to see. And they won’t stop, Jen. They won’t stop. Why? Is this all I have? Is it all I’m going to get? (Pause) I can’t stop writing Jen. I can’t. And you know what? I don’t think they could live if I stopped writing. (Jen looks puzzled.) The characters. They’re alive, Jen. I see them. I was on the bus the other day…and I saw her. Kristin. The woman in my book. She was right there on the bus! She sat right next to me! And…and that’s not all. I’ve seen others. Alive, thriving in the habitat of New York City. It’s wrong! An abomination! (Jumps up and grabs the papers, starts ripping them to shreds. Jen watches on, horrified.) I’ve got to stop it! It’s wrong! It’s all wrong! Wrong!’s wrong. (Slowly slinks back into chair, sobbing quietly.)

Jennifer: Spencer, sweetie… that wasn’t Kristin you saw on the bus. It was me. (Spencer looks up at her.) Me. Not Kristin. I was there, Spencer; with you, on that bus. They’re just visions, little hallucinations. I was with you. Don’t you remember? (To Spencer.) Sweetie…I think not having a job has taken its toll on you. I… I want you to go see a therapist. (Spencer startled.) Just a stress therapist, nothing big; but I want you to go to him. For me. Please? (Exit Jennifer.)
Spencer: Just visions. Little hallucinations. (rapidly, angrily.) Bulls---! (calming down.) I just need to take it easy. Rest a little, have a drink, maybe write a paragraph or two…No! No writing. I’ve got to move on now. No…no more writing. (Lights dim, Spencer hunches down at desk. Sound of typing while Spencer is asleep at desk. Then high, maniacal laughter, and alarm, overlapping. Enter Actor.)
The Actor: Awake yet? (Spencer looks up rapidly, and sounds stop.) No? She couldn’t convince you?
Spencer: But I stopped…I stopped!
The Actor: Really? What’s this? (Waves papers in front of Spencer.) “Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn't the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.” Mike Royoko. Terrific guy. He knew what he was talking about. Now you; you have no idea what you’re talking about. Is your ego so big that you think you can create human life just by writing it?
Spencer: No…I…no! It’s not my fault, it’s just…it’s just happening! I want to stop it!
The Actor: Really? Do you?
Spencer: Yes! I…yes. I do. (Actor smiles, bemused.) Don’t I?
The Actor (getting up): How should I know? (Exit Actor)
Spencer: How do I know…?
Scene 4
Office of Dr. Znalost. Spencer is lying on a couch, while the Doctor is sitting in an armchair, taking notes.
Spencer: They’re real, Doctor. I know they are. I can see them…and I can hear them. I can hear them calling me, doctor! What’s going on? Why do they run away?
Dr. Znalost: Hmm. How long has it been since you were…
Spencer: Fired?
Dr. Znalost (frowning): Yes. Fired. How long has it been?
Spencer: Six weeks, four days, and seventy-two minutes. (pause) Seventy-three.
Dr. Znalost: Hmm…okay. And how long have you been writing, Mr. Deas?
Spencer: How long…about the same amount. Maybe a little longer. I don’t understand-
Dr. Znalost: Would it be safe to say, Mr. Deas, that your dismissal from the law firm you previously worked at and your sudden…interest in writing are correlated?
Spencer: I…I suppose so. But it’s not their fault!
Dr. Znalost: No, Mr. Deas, of course not. However…I believe that it would prudent to have you visit a rehabilitation facility, in order to draw you away from writing.
Spencer: Rehab? Why? I’m not doing drugs, or alcohol, or… (Pause.) Crazy! You think I’m crazy!
Dr. Znalost: No, Mr. Deas, not at all, it’s just that-
Spencer: Crazy?! I’m not crazy! You’re the crazy one! You’re ALL the crazy ones! (runs out into the audience, grabs one by the shirt) You’re crazy! Not me! They’re real, I swear they are! I see them, hear them, every day; beckoning, reaching out towards me. They need me! Don’t you understand? They need me! I can’t leave them! (screaming at the sky) Is this it? Is this all I get? Screw you! They’re mine, mine, mine! I made them! You can’t take it away from me! You can’t! (suddenly lunging towards the doctor) Why are you trying to take it away? Why? They’re all I have! They NEED me! (punches doctor in the face, gets behind him and starts choking him.) I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you! (Security officers burst in, grab Spencer and drag him away, kicking and screaming. Dr. Znalost staggers off after them. Enter the Actor.)
The Actor: Do you understand why I’m here, Spencer? I’m here because you need me. Everyone has their daemon familiar, their shoulder angels and devils. All who are guilty have comforters. I’m your Samuel, Spencer. Your Solomon. I’m every man who has ever helped one in pain. (Chuckles at something we can’t here.) Why would I be here if you didn’t want me? I’m a figment of your imagination, Spencer. (Pause) I can go away if you like. (Pause) No? All right. I’ll stay here. (Lights dim, and we see the Actor’s silhouette sitting in the chair. He slowly gets up and moves down into the pit. Stands there for a few moments, looks around, and then pulls out a gun from his jacket.)

The Actor: Now that’s the best part of it all. Because, you see, the difference between you and me, Spencer, is that I’m not going to feel the bullet. (He puts a gun to his head, looks up at audience, smiles, and- blackout.)
End Act One

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metrowoman said...
Jan. 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm
well worth reading.  I was really different.
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