The Playwrights Forum Home 
 

SEARCH STAGEPLAYS.COM
THE WORLD'S LARGEST PLAY DATABASE

  STAGEPLAYS BOOKSHOP NEW CYBERPRESS PLAYS PLAYWRIGHTING BOOKS PUBLISH MY PLAY AFFILIATE PROGRAM THE THEATRE BANNER EXCHANGE  
The Playwrights Forum > The Art & Craft of Writing > The Playwrights' Gym - Feedback > Opening Scene

* STAGEPLAYS WANTS TO PUBLISH YOUR PLAY *
click here for details

 Moderated by: Paddy, Edd
New Topic Reply Printer Friendly
Opening Scene  Rate Topic 
AuthorPost
 Posted: Tue Jan 20th, 2009 10:42 pm
  PM Quote Reply
1st Post
uglyones
Member
 

Joined: Sun Feb 24th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 19
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 
 

 

 

 


Lucifer’s Folly


 

 

 


 



 



Scene I


 

     (Opening begins with a darkened stage. SOUND

of a car horn and tires screeching, followed

by a loud, satanic laugh. 

     As the lights slowly come up, GEORGE, in black

     robe and sandals, enters, walking erratically,

     looking around in a confused manner. He stops

     and examines his robe, pulls the bottom up and

checks his sandals, then stares at a sign that announces “Welcome To Hell -- Land Of Eternal

Sunshine,” with an arrow pointing off toward

“City Hall.”

     LOUIS, in a three piece suit and tie, and

carrying a briefcase, walks by in the direction

of city hall)

 

                        GEORGE

I beg your pardon. Is this Hell, Texas?

                       

                        LOUIS

Texas? What were you looking for?

 

                        GEORGE

The airport. It should be around here someplace.

                                                         

                        LOUIS

Excuse me?

 

                        GEORGE

I’m flying a freight liner to Honolulu tonight. I have to take off in two hours.

 

                        LOUIS

Not tonight you’re not. You don’t know what happened to you?

 

 

                        GEORGE

Well I . . . I’m not sure. I remember a car coming right at me . . . and all of a sudden I was up in the air . . . then I was falling.

 

                        LOUIS

You fell all right. A whole lot farther than Texas, I’m afraid. Or Honolulu.

 

                        GEORGE

What is this place? It looks like a movie set.

                                                         

                        LOUIS

It’s Hell. What else?

 

                        GEORGE

Are you in the cast?

 

                        LOUIS

Okay. I tried to tell you.

    

     (LOUIS starts to leave. GEORGE grabs him by

      the arm)

 

                        GEORGE

Who’s in charge around here? The joke’s gone on long enough, okay? I need to get to the airport. And I need my uniform back. What’d you guys do with my bag, and all my personal stuff? Tell me where I am!

 

                        LOUIS

You’re serious?

 

                        GEORGE

     (takes LOUIS by the lapels)

Do I look serious to you?

 

                        LOUIS

All right! Just calm down, okay?

     (eases GEORGE away)

How odd. Most people know exactly where they are and

why. But evidently, in your case . . . Look. I know it must be tough to accept at first, but you are in Hell, just like the sign says.

 

 

                                                           

                        GEORGE

You mean . . . like with the devil. The Hell?

                                                         

                        LOUIS

This is The Hell, yes sir.

 

                        GEORGE

Then . . . that wasn’t a nightmare. That car. It killed me. I’m . . . dead?

 

                        LOUIS

Well, that depends. If you mean in Earth terms, yes sir, you are dead.

    

     (LOUIS pats GEORGE on the shoulder)

 

                        LOUIS (Cont’d)

Sorry. I know it’s a shock. But you’ll get used to it. All that emotional baggage will dissipate in time and you’ll settle right in.

 

                        GEORGE

That’s crazy. Look at me. I’m here. I’m not a ghost. Feel me. I’m solid.

 

     (GEORGE takes LOUIS’S hand, holds it to his arm.

     LOUIS pulls his hand back)

 

                        GEORGE (Cont’d)

I can’t be dead. I’ve got too much to do. All my plans. People to see. Friends. Relatives.

     (pause)

I can’t even say goodbye?

 

     (LOUIS shakes his head)

 

                        GEORGE (Cont’d)

That’s pretty final isn’t it. Just all of a sudden. And there’s . . . no hope . . . of going back?

 

     (LOUIS again shakes his head)

 

                        GEORGE (Cont’d)

     (pause)

I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and they’ll show me a video of this, I just know it. Only I’m not smiling for the

 

camera this time. Come on now. Tell me this is all a far out joke.

 

                        LOUIS

Well if it is, no one here is laughing.

 

                        GEORGE

And you’re sure. You’re absolutely positive, this is Hell.

 

                        LOUIS

Is there something else I can help you with?

 

                        GEORGE

Wait a minute. If this is Hell, where’s the fire? Where’s the heat?

                                                           

                        LOUIS

Feel the ground.

 

     (GEORGE feels the ground, quickly pulls back)

 

                        LOUIS (Cont’d)

You don’t want to sit down on it very long. But that’s radiated heat. The fire itself is down on the third level.

 

                        GEORGE

Third level of what?

                                                         

                        LOUIS

Hell. Right here. Third level down.

                                                         

                        GEORGE

There’s more than one level in Hell.

 

                        LOUIS

You can’t have an equitable system where everyone is treated the same, can you? It’s sort of like on Earth. Some

people have nothing, some have a little, and some have everything.

 

                        GEORGE

Some people in Hell have everything.

 

                        LOUIS

Right. There are some really bad characters down on the third level where the fire and pain are – - they have

 

nothing. Then some pretty bad on the second level where the sweat and toil are – - they have a little. Then a few not so bad here on the first level – - they have everything.

You happen to have landed on the not so bad first level. Consider yourself lucky, my friend.

 

                        GEORGE

You just said, The not so bad here on the first level have everything. You’re talking about me.

 

                        LOUIS

Yes sir.

 

                        GEORGE

     (looks around)

Okay. I have everything of what? There’s nothing here.

                                                         

                        LOUIS

Yes, in reality that’s true, you do have less. Less fire and pain, less sweat and toil. You’re free from the daily suffering of those on the second and third levels. So, in effect, you have more.

 

                        GEORGE

     (pause)

But it’s still Hell. Everybody here . . . they’re here for good. Forever, right?

 

                        LOUIS

Actually, they’re here for eternity. That’s even longer than forever.

                                                           

                        GEORGE

Boy. Talk about strict standards. You’d think they’d tell you before it’s too late. At least give you a chance. What did I do wrong? I lived a good, decent life. Don’t honor and integrity count for anything?

                                                           

                        LOUIS

Apparently not enough in your case.

 

                        GEORGE

This is all cockeyed. It’s a huge miscarriage. How do I go about getting this mess straightened out?

 

 

                                                         

                        LOUIS

Easier said than done, my friend. You’re talking about a very difficult and involved legal process.

 

                        GEORGE

Legal process in Hell. You’re kidding. How do I go about that?

 

                        LOUIS

You need a lawyer.

 

                        GEORGE

I need a lawyer to get me out of Hell.

 

                        LOUIS

Yes sir.

                                                                  

                        GEORGE

I’m here because of somebody else’s mistake, then I have to hire a lawyer, of all people, to correct that mistake. That’s like double jeopardy.

                                                         

                        LOUIS

M-m-m-m. I’ve never thought of it in those terms.

 

                        GEORGE

I despise lawyers. Talk about a pack of crooks and liars and leeches. All right, I’ll play your game. How do I go about finding a lawyer in Hell?

 

                        LOUIS

How do you do. My name is Louis Fuller. You can call me Louis.

 

                        GEORGE

You’re a lawyer?

                                                           

                        LOUIS

At your service. And you are . . . ?

    

                        GEORGE

George. George Franklin.

 

     (They shake hands)

 

 

 

                        LOUIS

Good to meet you, Mister Franklin. I take it you just arrived.

 

                        GEORGE

How would I know? I have no idea when I arrived. Or even if I’m here. If this is for real, then I really do need help.

 

                        LOUIS

All right, bear with me just a bit. Tell you what. I was on my way to check on another case, but it’ll only take a few minutes to explain things for you, settle your mind a bit. Why don’t we step into my office and talk this over.

 

     (LOUIS holds up a finger as if hailing a cab.

      Black robed figures bring on a small table

      and two chairs, then exit, taking the “Welcome”

      sign with them. As they do so, they expose the

      back side of the sign to the audience. It says,

      “Abandon All Hope.”                                

      Lights down on rest of stage)

                       

                        LOUIS (Cont’d)

Have a seat, Mister Franklin. Now. What form of evil did you commit in your life that condemned you to Hell?

 

                        GEORGE

Wait just a minute now. That’s a typical lawyer trick. You’re assuming I’m guilty. What form of evil did I commit. How would I know? Explain evil in Hell’s terms.

 

                        LOUIS

Did you murder anyone?

 

                        GEORGE

Of course not. I led a decent life. Served my country. Was good to children and animals.

 

                        LOUIS

Never committed a heinous crime?

                                                           

                        GEORGE

Absolutely not.

                                                           

                        LOUIS

How did you serve your country?

                                                           

                        GEORGE

I flew a plane in the war.

                                                           

                        LOUIS

Flew a plane in the war. M-m-m-m.

 

                        GEORGE

Something wrong with that?

 

                        LOUIS

Uh-h-h, maybe not. We’ll come back to that later. Now, I need to make sure, since you claim you’re here by mistake  - - and that is what you claim, correct?

 

                        GEORGE

Not what I claim. It’s a fact.

 

                        LOUIS

And rather than going for just a step up to Purgatory, you won’t accept anything less than all the way up to Heaven.

 

                        GEORGE

You bet. Nothing less.

 

                        LOUIS

     (shakes his head)

If you insist. But that makes it tough. Real tough. I’ve got the best win rate in the business, with a number of successful Purgatories to my credit. But it’s been eons since I’ve had anyone make it all the way up. They’re just so few and far between.

 

                        GEORGE

So what’s with Heaven, they only have popes and saints up there?

 

                        LOUIS

All right then, here it is in a nutshell. There’s a Court Of Appeals that will hear your case. At that hearing you’ll be before a judge who’s appointed by God. 

 

                        GEORGE

God you say. So there is a God.

                                                           

                        LOUIS

You didn’t think so?

                                                         

                        GEORGE

I did at one time. But He sure wasn’t around when I really needed Him.

 

                        LOUIS                             

When was this?

 

                        GEORGE

Is it important?

 

                        LOUIS

Yes sir, it could be very important.

 

                        GEORGE

Could be you say. Then for right now let’s move on, okay? What you’re telling me is, I’ll be before a judge appointed by God.

                                                           

                        LOUIS

Yes you will.

 

                        GEORGE

And where, pray tell, will you be?

 

                        LOUIS

If you hire me as your attorney, I’ll be there with you.

 

                        GEORGE

So the two of us will be dealing with God.

 

                        LOUIS

Indirectly, yes. Of course God Himself won’t be there in person, but rest assured He’ll be there. And on the other

side there’s Lucifer. We will be dealing directly with Lucifer.

 

                        GEORGE

And there’s a real Lucifer.

 

                        LOUIS

Just like your mother warned you.

                                                           

                        GEORGE

God and Lucifer. Heavy hitters. Just for me.

 

 

 

                        LOUIS

Just for you. And let me tell you, it can get pretty hairy when you get in between those two. You’re in for a fight, my friend.     

 

                        GEORGE

What’s Lucifer got to do with it? Why would he get involved?

 

                        LOUIS

He has to. It’s his territory.

 

                        GEORGE

I thought he was cast down to Hell by God just like all the other bad guys.

                                                           

                        LOUIS

He was. But he was also the first one here, so God put him in charge. He’s also in charge of all the souls down here.

                                                           

                        GEORGE

You’re telling me Lucifer has my soul.

                                                           

                        LOUIS

Evidently he does. You’re here.

 

                        GEORGE

How the hell did he get it?

 

                        LOUIS

That’s exactly the point. That’s what we’ll have to determine. How Lucifer got your soul, and why. And whether or not he’s entitled to it. And it won’t be pretty. Your life, from the day you were born to the day you died, is going to be dissected and analyzed like you can’t imagine.

 

                        GEORGE

You’ll know everything about me. Everything I did in my life?

 

                        LOUIS

Pretty much. And what kind of character you really were.   And not only me. Everyone involved with the process will know as well.

 

 

 

                        GEORGE

How wonderful.

 

                        LOUIS

All your dirty laundry on parade. I assume that’s why most of the inmates here don’t bother to fight the system. They cling to their secrets, even when there’s no longer a reason. That’s all they have left.

                                                         

                        GEORGE

     (rubs his forehead)

That’s all they have left. Boy. So what are my chances of beating this thing and getting out of here?

 

                        LOUIS

     (shakes his head)

You never know.

 

                        GEORGE

That’s the best you can give me?

 

                        LOUIS

You do want the truth.

                       

                        GEORGE

     (pause)

You know what I think? I think I want a second opinion.

 

                        LOUIS

Fair enough.

                                                          

     (LOUIS starts to rise. GEORGE grabs his arm)

                                                           

                        GEORGE

Hang on now.

 

                        LOUIS

You can find another lawyer right over there at city hall.

 

                        GEORGE

Dammit! Just calm down a minute. I don’t know what’s going on around here yet. All I know is, I need help.

 

                        LOUIS

But you do want to appeal.

 

 

                        GEORGE

If that’s the only way out of here. What else is there?

 

                        LOUIS

That’s it.

                                                                    

                        GEORGE

Then you bet I’m gonna appeal. My family and friends who passed over are all in Heaven. They have to be. I wanta see them again. I wouldn’t know anyone in Hell.

 

                        LOUIS

Don’t be too sure about that. Many people are quite surprised, and delighted I might add, to see a familiar face or two down here.

 

                        GEORGE

Then that’s their problem. If you think I’m gonna just tuck my tail and roll over while I’m being shanghaied, you’re nuts.

                                                           

                        LOUIS

All right, then let’s talk about the next step. Your first real hurdle will be a big one. You must realize, by taking the appeals route, that you’re inferring a mistake was made. But God does not make mistakes.

 

                        GEORGE

Never?                                                   

 

                        LOUIS

All the accountants and Vegas odds makers down here agree that the odds against such an occurrence are about eleven billion to one.

                                                           

                        GEORGE

Eleven . . . ?

 

                        LOUIS

Billion to one.

                         

                        GEORGE

Okay. One chance in eleven billion. That means it does happen.

 

 

 

                        LOUIS

And then, even if you do get a hearing, it can take the equivalence of years for the process to work itself out. But, the good news is, we’re talking about eternity here. There’s no such thing as running out of time.

 

                        GEORGE

Then why are we worried about time?

 

                        LOUIS

You still insist on seeing this through.

 

                        GEORGE

Whatever it takes. By the way. I guess I don’t have any money to pay you. How do I go about that?

 

                        LOUIS

Money means nothing here. But I will need some good character references.

 

                        GEORGE  

You think I’m gonna run out on you?

                                                          

                        LOUIS

We might need them at the hearing. Just give me some names, living or dead. We’ll track them down and check them out.

 

                        GEORGE

So I could be stuck in this hole for who knows how long while you check out my references.

 

                        LOUIS   

You just agreed time is no problem.

                                                                  

                        GEORGE

Sure, but you snuck that references business in on me.

 

                        LOUIS

If that bothers you, then during the interim you can go wait in Purgatory if you like.

 

                        GEORGE

Purgatory.

 

 

 

                                                         

                        LOUIS   

It’s quite a peaceful place. Sure beats the heck out of Hell.

                                                           

                        GEORGE  

But now you’re giving me the run around again. That’s not where I should be. And what happens in Purgatory?

 

                        LOUIS

Nothing, really. You’re in a holding pattern. Sort of like a long sleep.

 

                        GEORGE  

No no, I mean . . . what’s the advantage to being there?

                                                         

                        LOUIS

It’s not Hell. And in Purgatory you’re beyond sin -- you can’t lose any more points.

 

                        GEORGE

You can lose points even after you die? I never heard that before. How come you know so much about Purgatory?

                                                           

                        LOUIS

I’m on loan from there.

 

                        GEORGE

Why?

 

                        LOUIS

For people like you. You don’t want just another lawyer from Hell, they’re not allowed to win any of their cases.

      

                        GEORGE

Not allowed . . . ? Then . . . why would anyone hire a lawyer from Hell?

 

                        LOUIS

Lucifer allows the practice. It’s sort of a pacifier he uses to keep the lawyers in line. They can get pretty mean

and surly if they’re not working a case. So when an appeals case comes along with merit, they assign one of us from the Purgatory pool. Keep it out of the hands of the locals.

 

 

 

 

                        GEORGE

But still . . . If you operate out of a pool, how do you know you’ll get assigned to my case?

    

                        LOUIS

I have seniority. And they owe me one. I traded a child molester for a case to be named later. And I get to name the case. With their approval, of course.

                                                           

                        GEORGE

Three cheers for me. I beat out a child molester. So you must think I have a good case.

 

                        LOUIS

I like you Mister Franklin. In my experience of dealing with these cases I’ve learned to spot a phony and a liar a mile off. And you don’t come across as either.

 

                        GEORGE

Well, thank you. You seem like a pretty straight shooter yourself. So what’d you do to get sent to Purgatory?

 

                        LOUIS

I, uh . . . borrowed some money from a pension fund. Unfortunately, it left some elderly pensioners destitute.

 

                        GEORGE

You mean you stole money from old people.

 

                        LOUIS

I had every intention of paying it back, but one of them shot me before I had a chance. Listen, we all make mistakes, right? I was the one got you this far, don’t lose faith in me now.

      

                        GEORGE  

Got me this far, all right. I’m sitting in a chair out in the middle of nowhere that you call your office, then I find out you’re a common thief on loan from another world.

 

                        LOUIS

Please. Not just a common thief.

                                                           

                        GEORGE

Like I said, a bunch of crooks.

 

 

                        LOUIS

Biting the hand that’s trying to feed you is not a winning strategy, my friend. With an attitude like yours, no wonder you ended up down here.

     (pause)

Well, Mister Franklin?

 

                        GEORGE

Calm down, will you? Just calm down. My whole future is riding on this. Geez, you can’t escape business as usual even when you’re dead.

     (pause)

Boy, the choices around here are slim and bleak. I guess I’ll have to take my chances with you. At least you sound like you know what you’re talking about.     

                                                           

                        LOUIS

Congratulations, Mister Franklin, you made a great choice, if I do say so myself. I feel good things are about to happen for you.

    

     (LOUIS pulls paper and pen from his briefcase

      and hands them to GEORGE)

 

                        LOUIS (Cont’d)

Need to have you fill out this form for me please.

 

                        GEORGE

What’s this?

 

                        LOUIS

Your vital statistics.

     (points to the page)

Don’t forget your middle name right there.

 

                        GEORGE

     (starts writing)

Date Of Birth. What’s this Date Of Death?

 

                        LOUIS

You don’t remember?

 

                        GEORGE

You’re saying there was more than one George Franklin died on this date?

 

                                                         

                        LOUIS

You never know. It’s very embarrassing to get the wrong one.

 

                        GEORGE

This feels like I’m applying for credit to buy my own casket.

 

                        LOUIS

Too late for that now. A-a-a-nd your mother’s maiden name right there. O-kay. That should do it.

 

     (LOUIS puts the page in his briefcase, then

      pulls out another page and puts it in front

      of GEORGE)

 

                        LOUIS (Cont’d)

Just fill out your references here and I’ll pick them up later if you don’t mind. I need to run.

                                                         

     (GEORGE & LOUIS stand)

 

                        GEORGE

So you’ll begin work on my case right away?

                                                         

                        LOUIS

Soon as I can. They know me at city hall, so it won’t take long to file the paperwork, and that’ll set the wheels in

motion. They usually jump right on these fraud cases for me.

 

                        GEORGE

Fraud.

 

                        LOUIS

We’ll be suing this guy for fraud, you bet.

                                                           

                        GEORGE

What guy?

 

                        LOUIS

Lucifer.

 

                        GEORGE

Oh yeah. Lucifer. How come fraud?

    

 

                        LOUIS

We always sue Lucifer for fraud on these special cases. That’s how he operates, by engaging in fraud. Then I think we should throw in trickery, and probably deception as well. Sounds good, don’t you think? We’ll keep in touch, Mister Franklin. Keep your powder dry.

 

                        GEORGE

Wait a minute. You’re not leaving me here. All by myself?

 

                        LOUIS

Solitude is part of the climate down here. Best get used to it as soon as you can.

 

     (LOUIS pats GEORGE on the shoulder and exits.

      GEORGE slumps down into the chair and begins

      writing as

                                                            

      lights dim out)

 

Back To Top PM Quote Reply  

Current time is 08:36 am  
The Playwrights Forum > The Art & Craft of Writing > The Playwrights' Gym - Feedback > Opening Scene Top




UltraBB 1.17 Copyright © 2007-2011 Data 1 Systems
Page processed in 0.1537 seconds (10% database + 90% PHP). 27 queries executed.