BY K. BRIAN NEEL
RIDLEY OF THE RED MEADOW
Scene 1: PROLOGUE
NARRATOR Ezekiel was a priest whose ministry to his fellow exiles extended from 593 to perhaps 563 B.C. The capture and destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. was a decisive factor in Ezekiel’s ministry.
There was no other prophet whose works and actions expressed a personality so distinctive as Ezekiel’s. In his vision reports, such as that of the throne chariot of the Lord or of the abominations in the temple of Jerusalem, his use of language and symbolism is peculiar. His symbolic actions, such as eating a scroll, seem bizarre. His long allegories are repellent. But there is no way to know whether the strange modes of presentation that he employed were due to his double role as both priest and prophet, or whether Ezekiel’s personality was confounded by the disorienting experience of being exiled to Babylon. Ezekiel laid the groundwork for the symbolic universe of apocalypticism. But he made it clear that no matter how specific his description of godly matters was, there was no human language that could do them justice.
In Ezekiel we have an unparalleled synthesis of the terrestrial and celestial.
Scene 2: NIGEL’S POWERS
NIGEL I have a secret. I am two years old. I am. I know I look to be in my early thirties, but I’m not. I remember my birth. It was in a bathtub, one of those huge porcelain bathtubs with the claw feet, you know, the paws holding it up. I was lying in the tub, looking up through the water and I could see myself. At first I thought it was my reflection in the water. But I don’t know if that is even possible to have a reverse reflection; also, I thought, how can I know that’s me, that that is my face. Since I was just born, how can I have that recognition. So I sat up in the water, breathing air for the first time, and got a better look at him. He was me. And I was him. He was my dopleganger. We didn’t say anything to each other. You know, the whole time I had dealings with my dopleganger, we never talked. Anyway, I could tell that he was upset because he was distressed. His face was full of anxiety. But I felt relaxed, you know, I was just great sitting in this bathtub. So I smiled at him as a gesture that everything’s allright. But he ignored me. He went to a table next to the sink that and picked up a bag and a glass jar and went into the living room. There were some other men in there that I hadn’t noticed before and they were not happy. They were arguing and screaming. I was afraid. But I knew if I stayed in the bathroom I’d be safe cause they didn’t know I was in here. Eventually the men left and it was quiet. Then I came back into the bathroom and he was crying and shaking. We stood there and looked at each other for a long time. Long time. We wanted to give each other a hug but we thought that might cause an explosion or something. So we just stared at each other. I’ve never looked at anyone as long as I looked at my dopleganger.
It was at this point that I remembered his memories. I remembered everything. His first memory, of playing with big old metal dump trucks, Tonka trucks, by a big ditch next to his grandmother’s house. I remember years of schooling, studying in biochemical engineering in college, and eventually working for Lyonell Corporation for eight years, from which I was eventually fired. I remembered renting this apartment from a fancy-looking Jewish slum lord, and setting up the lab in the bathroom. I remembered everything up to the moment when we were standing there looking at each other. I remembered it like I had read it in a book or something. And I knew that a change was taking place, a transformation was occurring. He broke contact and stepped into the bathtub, the bathtub that I’d just been born in and he sat down and closed his eyes. And I knew what he wanted, I knew it. I wanted it too. I reached over and held his head under until he died. He didn’t struggle. It wasn’t violent. It was very peaceful, just some bubbles came up and he passed away. Later I added some acid to the water and the body disintegrated and drained out with the water. I thought that would be best.
And there I was. The umbilical was broken. I was set to take over his life. To become him. We had the same finger prints and retinal scans, there was really nothing else for me to do but take his place in the world. But I didn’t like his place in the world, didn’t like the life he was leading. So I made some changes. I got rid of his research, his notes on genetic engineering and all the chemicals on the table. I contacted the authorities about the men he had been selling drugs to, because that just had to stop. I was not going to have a part of that. Then I admitted myself to the mental hospital, here, because eventually this would be where I’d end up anyway. Plus I was safe here. I called his parents and told them their son had died. Peacefully. And said it might be a appropriate to hold a service or something, but that I didn’t want to be invited. No thank you. They thought I was joking at first, but when they realized I was serious they became very upset. His mother started crying hysterically, father got angry and yelled at me for upsetting her. So I hung up. But they keep visiting me here at the hospital and try to convince me that I’m their son. They think that I am their son. But I don’t have any feelings for these people. I’ve told them to leave me alone, go on with their lives. They don’t have to go out of their way to come here every week, make conversation, tell me that they care. I don’t need that. I don’t have a history with these people. I remember the things they used to do. The trip to New York when I was eleven, being whipped when I snuck out at night and got caught; I remember both good and bad things. I mean, they are nice people. Very nice. And I’m nice to them too, they deserve that. Sometimes I think I should put up this facade, and play the role of son, but I just can’t do that. It wouldn’t be honest. I don’t want to have any part of them.
And that’s hard on me. Not having a family. I’ve made friends here at the mental hospital. Some of them scare me, and others are just incredible. The first person I met here, even before the doctor, was little Webster. I’d just been admitted by the attendant, but no one had come to check on me yet, and this skinny little guy comes into my room without even knocking and looks up at me with these big brown eyes, this little retarded guy, and says, “You have special powers.” And I thought, oh man, he’s crazy. I thought, Oh yeah, I’m in a mental hospital, I’m gonna have to put up with lots of freaky crazy people. But after time it’s become clear to me that these are truly special people.
And he was right. I do have special powers. I’m not a saint. I don’t believe that my creator, my dopleganger, my father was God, by any means. He was just a scientist. A really smart guy. But I have become an angel, a genetically engineered angel with superpowers. I’m here to save the innocent, good people of the Earth. I have super strength. I’m able to lift incredibly heavy things. Sometimes I go out past the courtyard and lift large objects like huge cement blocks. I can change the writing in books with my mind, so that it says what I want it to say. And I can control things with my mind, change the atomic makeup of everyday things, change chairs into tables and vice versa. Levitate things with my mental energy. I was in the red meadow when the executioner slaughtered those people. I saved the innocent by stopping the bullets from hitting them with my mind. I didn’t get hurt because bullets bounce off me. I have levitated this entire building and all it’s people. In the day while everyone was going about their business. No one knew what was going on at first, it was very smooth. I raised it just a few feet off the Earth left it there for a few seconds and then let it down. It caused a bit of a shake when it touched down. Everyone thought it was an earthquake. But it wasn’t an earthquake, it was the building hitting the ground, settling back after I had levitated it. I can levitate people. I can levitate myself. Let me show you. I’m not doing this to show off. I don’t need to prove myself. But the world needs to know what is happening.
NIGEL, eyes wide open, concentrates inward. Faint choral music rises in the background. As the chanting gathers momentum and volume, NIGEL’s arms slowly raise up, up, up, until they are above his head. The music peaks. He is floating above the ground! Exhausted, he falls backward to the ground.
Scene 3: IGASHO’S JOURNEY
IGASHO awakens, his back to the audience. He stretches, moving gently, feeling his way around. His eyes are closed and remain that way the entire scene. As he acts out these events, turning this way and that, he does not always face the audience.
IGASHO I am in a small enclosed room. It is completely dark. There are no windows. It is dusty and humid. The walls are made of adobe. I do not know how I got here or who sealed me in here. I find what must have been the doorway, a freshly bricked rectangle where the mortar is still wet.
He pushes his way out through the brick, guarding his eyes from the bright sun.
Once my eyes acclimate, I can see I am standing on the south side of a great circular courtyard. There are many such rooms as the one I have just emerged from, each surrounding the center, open area. A few paces in front of my cell, there is a small pit dug in the ground. It is wet. It’s where they mixed the mortar to seal my cell. There is an archway on the west end of the courtyard. I walk to it and peer through to a thin alley, with very tall buildings extending on either side. The buildings are decrepit, falling apart. The windows are charred and burned. The alley opens to a great city center. Large buildings of all shapes. I move to the middle of the dirt street. It is quiet except for the wind. There once must have been a bustling market here. The remains of wagons and wooden tent posts, now fallen and black and decaying, are strewn about. I sit on a circular adobe bench and remember... blood! Blood soaking into the dirt. Flowing through the streets like veins. Converging into ever enlarging lakes of dark brown red. People are being killed. Struck down. They are human. Suffering. Screaming. The city is aflame. People are burning and being chopped to pieces. There is a shadow tottering on the ground around me. It is the shadow of a woman on the edge of a balcony. She is pregnant, dressed in dripping rags. She finally falls, meeting her shadow.
It is now that I realize dawn is approaching. Time is running backwards. It is now dark. The blue hour when everything is perfectly quiet. The calm before the siege. Everyone is sleeping, unaware of what is about to happen. The full moon rests just over a large domed building, down at the end of the main street. I make my way down the corridors of this city. It takes me several hours to reach the edge of town. Here the homes are made of sticks and mud with pitched reed roofs. I see light coming from around the corner. It is a fire. There are two women and a man roasting flesh on sticks. They cook the meat just enough to char the exterior, leaving the inside raw. They eat it. Blood drips down their chins and onto their clothes. They see me and wave me to join them. I do not move. The shadows on their faces flicker from the fire contorting and demonizing them. I feel for a second that the flesh they are eating is human. I quickly turn and run. I want to get away from this place. Eventually I reach the entrance to a forest. I run into the forest and make my way around many obstacles, following no set path, instinctively moving toward something I don’t know. When the moon is zenith in the sky, I have come to a shallow river. It runs quick and white.
He drinks of the water.
I am hungry. There is a plant I have never seen before and without knowing if it is poison, pull a large leaf from its stalk. The tendril ribs of the leaf are dark and look like writing, and it tastes like sweet rice paper. I become aware of the sound of a distant waterfall. Making my way downstream, eventually I come to the edge of a huge cliff. The water runs to it’s edge and sends out into the chasm of the valley. I suddenly become aware that I am completely naked. It’s very freeing standing naked over a vast valley. There’s a shooting star. No, it’s not a star. It’s moving nearer. I’ve seen it before. That’s right. It is the ship that brought me here. It’s getting closer. There are openings surrounding its exterior like eyes. The ground rumbles. It stops directly above me. A large glowing crystal, brighter than the sun. Light surrounds me. It is incredibly bright, yet It doesn’t hurt to look directly at it. Three... no, four beings appear from the crystal. They are skinny with big heads. Each one rides a glowing wheel that can move in any direction. I am paralyzed. They reach for me and together we float into the crystal down a vast corridor. For a moment I am aware of everything. Why they have let me off here to witness the siege of that city. The crystal is translucent, moving above the planet into space, and I am part of it. I come in and out of awareness of myself as an individual. I’m part of a greater knowledge. A cell in this hive. Then I realize my body is lying on a cold slab. A tube is forced down my throat. One of the beings is standing above me with what looks like a sword, but with wires and liquid flowing to and from it. He lowers it to my head and shaves off all of my hair.
IGASHO opens his eyes.
Next thing I know I’m here at the hospital. The attendants said they found me in the courtyard early in the morning, unconscious from another seizure. But I don’t remember going out there in the first place. What a dream, huh? Weird.
Scene 4: NEMO
A gunshot is heard. Then another. Then another, this one distorted and slow. Another, the sound is warped beyond recognition. NEMO grabs his head, squeezes and lets out a painful scream.
NEMO What’s going on? What’s that sound? Jesus! People are freaking out. Falling. Running. My heart is too fast. I’m having a heart attack. Oh, Jesus. It’s all over the grass. Meadow. A red meadow. Red chess pieces. Blood.
He frantically claws at his arms and chest, then down to his stomach and lap.
Her head. Hair. Oh, Jesus. I’m stroking her hair. I don’t know her. I’ve never seen her before. Oh, Jesus. Wet. Soaking my pants. Jesus, she’s in my lap. Lady, get out of my lap. Your hair. Hair is wet. I’m wet. Soaking. Did I just pee in my pants. It’s warm. Jesus Christ. Oh shit. Oh shit. What’s going on? Stop running! He’s not running. This guy. There he is. I see him. He’s the one. Oh Jesus. He looked at me. Right at me. He didn’t shoot me. Why? Why didn’t he shoot me? What did I do? I don’t know him. He’s just a normal guy. I’m just a normal guy, no different from him, no different from these people. Just a normal guy. He looked so normal. Not evil or demented looking. He should have killed me. I should be dead. I wouldn’t remember if I were dead. I don’t want to remember. I’ll always remember. Everything reminds me. Grass reminds me. Hair reminds me. Chess. One think I’d like is for them to get rid of the chess game in the day room. Is that too much to ask? I just wanna lead a normal life. It’s like I’m a puzzle. All the pieces went up and came down all shuffled and they gotta get put back together, but they don’t fit any more. I can’t piece it together. All I want is to not have to remember it anymore. Am I gonna get better? I just want to get better. Better.
Scene 5: LEM’S SERMON
Whispering is heard. FATHER LEM mumbles to an imaginary individual, responding as if having a full conversation.
LEM ...Are you sure? If you believe they are ready. Well, we should gently. Allright. Ladies and gentleman of the Apple County Psychiatric Center, I would like to introduce you to my hallucination. Please do not rise, my sons and daughters. Continue your business of reading or watching television or playing chess or drooling in your chair, as the case may be sir.
Turns to hallucination and motions at him.
Step forward. Ladies and gentleman, the Prophet Ezekiel. As I am the only privileged individual to actually see him, let me describe him to you. Hmm? Well, I thought it would be beneficial to them. He stands a mere three inches shorter than I, dark brown hair, blue eyes, tan complexion. He is sixteen years old, but looks thirteen. At the moment he is in the process of sewing his own hair into his linen robe. A ritual the lord divined unto him. Yes, history. That’s right. Good, good. You may be curious to know when first this vision did appear. The Lord sent him to me on a beautiful Sunday last Spring during a morning service. I was preaching to my parish from 1 Corinthians 2:9 the true wisdom of God: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” These words flowed from my lips and I saw him, sittin’ amongst my flock as you sit now. He appeared to me again after service in my antechamber. He spoke an unfamiliar language, yet I understood. He fell at my feet and wept, then raised his head unto me, red and wet with emotion. At that moment he purged the pain from my weary spirit. Cleansed me of the torment I’d carried for years. The torment in leading such a sinful flock. The torment of having taken to drink. The torment of having a son taken from me by the devil himself. Ezekiel lifted these burdens from me, and it was clear that I was blessed with a vision of salvation. The Lord sent my son back to me. And he is a prophet. We live in peace together again. Yes, my son. Yes. You have repented. It is time. They will understand. There is some news that must be delivered unto you, ladies and gentleman. Here, as we look among you, we can see the pain you feel. It is a hopeless place in which we lie, but know this, my children. There is hope. You have been blessed. Ezekiel has informed me that the Lord has chosen us for a special purpose. We have been chosen to have a connection to God. Ezekiel is pointing at you now. He is telling me who you are. It is not who you think you are. Confusion abounds but do not be unhappy for you are saved. You are the angels, and the prophets, and the disciples of God. What I have to say is this: listen to your insanity! It is the truth. Do not let these false idols sway you from your course. Let it not be their place to judge us. It is they who shall be judged. The lord says they devour us. He says, ‘I will take you and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean. From false idols I will cleanse you.’
LEM’s arms are grabbed by invisible guards. He is pulled back. Time for some meds.
Unhand me, false idols! Ladies and gentleman, these are not hallucinations. Be clean, my children. Be clean. Clean...
Scene 6: WEBSTER’S WISDOM
The vigorous manhandling of LEM transforms into the physical contortion that is WEBSTER.
WEBSTER Clean clean white clothes are white here here we are here here here here now now here now here nowhere now here nowhere nowhere now here at the hospital crazy hospital where Webster is crazy Webster in the crazy hospital a hospital hospital is a prison prison cast iron prison prison cast iron prison is Jerusalem in another time in the world the phenominal world we are trapped in the world world world word word of God God man God man God man man is God man is God is man man is God God God God God damn damn damn it all to hell damn it all to hell hell is evil evil hell purgatory purgatory’s bad bad bad bad is not good and good and bad good bad we are in between the good and the evil to protect the good from the bad good is white bad is black good is white black moving white becomes black becomes white this creates the illusion of time moving forward but it’s an illusion inside our imaginations imaginations imagination not real figment of your imagination figment figment on screen TV screen TV programs on channels on channels turn channel can’t turn channel can’t turn channel turn around turn around turn around turn around turn around and face the audience face the facts only the facts maam only the facts maam only the facts I will tell you only the facts tell you the truth cannot access the truth in our reality reality in between the good and evil we cannot access truth cannot access like a computer cannot access the computer going beep beep beep beep beep beep beep warning warning danger danger Will Robinson danger danger danger scares me like a bad dream this is not a dream not a dream dream dream dreaming dreaming slows down time in a bubble inside a bubble is slow time time time circles over and over again this is not our real time real time happened a long time ago in bible time before history before history hisory history history books read the books history books don’t tell the truth don’t tell the truth is not truth is not truth truth and lie truth and lie lie lies lies siren comes ambulences people are hurt take them to the hospital real hospital hurt people hospital where there is pain at the hurt people’s hospital it hurts a lot it hurts hurts like death people were killed many people were killed mass murder mass murder murder in the meadow there was murder in the meadow in the red meadow red meadow red meadow Ridley of the red meadow killed them killed them thought it was good to kill the people into many pieces pieces pieces chess pieces chess pieces chess pieces...
Scene 7: RIDLEY OF THE RED MEADOW
RIDLEY ... Chess pieces. In the park they were playing chess, with the black and white pieces. White always goes first and when you win you’re in first place. A place, a where not a when. When is time. Everyone has a watch or a clock and none of them have the same time. They all say something different. But which one is the true time. Sun is true time. Sundials are true clocks. Sundials are on the ground. They’re round like holes dug into the crust of the earth. Deep holes digging for something rich. Oil wells. Oil wells spray black into the sky and get you all slippery and black, usually in Texas or a desert somewhere. Black against the sky. Against white clouds. Cumulous. Cirrus. Cumulo-nimbus clouds that cause rain. Not that you can predict rain. Not in the future. In five minutes I can say it’s going to be cloudy, because it’s cloudy now; maybe in ten minutes too. But in thirty minutes, an hour, a day, two days... you can’t predict that rain falling on the people who need accurate weather forecasts. But it’s going to be night tonight. You can predict that because it was night last night and the night before. That’s the only reason you know. But what if night isn’t tonight, like in Alaska or the Arctic. It can happen theoretically. Then you know what would happen? People wouldn’t be able to go to work in the morning. They wouldn’t know the time to go to work because there wasn’t dawn to wake them up. And they have to go to work every businesses day, walking in their suits downtown. With briefcases full of papers. All sorts of papers that someone gave them that they never read, but paper can cut them. It’s dangerous. Slicing the skin, which is our protection. It protects us like a shield, a metal shield, pounded from molten steel. Hot in the fire it gets red hot and burns. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. I can’t yell fire because the people will panic and they won’t be one person anymore, they’ll be a crowd of many people. Doing the same thing like a single organism, because that’s normal. Normal people do the same things as each other. They run away together. Scream as one. But each one is different. A different hundreds of people. One of them is a nice being, one is a bully. He’s mean and you don’t know which one he is because it’s crowded. But you’ve seen bullies before. They have beat you up before, and there are more of them. So you have to protect yourself. But you can’t protect yourself with skin. Skin bruises. Round purple bruises. Blue and purple and black and white, like the world is on your body, like the earth looks from space. Rotating around so that gravity can keep you in one place. One place at a time. You can only be in one place at a time. Unless you’re a person who can channel into another place, but then your body is in one place and your spirit in another, so your still in only one place. Like cutting off your arm. Looking at it on the coffee table. Separate from you. It doesn’t move any more. You can’t control it any more. But it looks like it could cause it used to. So you have to toss it away. Into the world of other arms swinging at their sides, holding their cases and not looking at you or anyone else. Even the people they walk with, they don’t look at. Except for asses and breasts. They stare at asses and breasts. Asses and breasts. But those aren’t cut off from their bodies on the coffee table. They could be. They might as well be. They don’t grab things like a hand can. Hands can grab because of the opposable thumbs. Clutch things. Rocks and sticks and guns. Protections. Because you can’t open your hands out like a shield. They aren’t metal. Bullies can tear through skin. Cut your hands right off. But guns are protection too. A good defense is a great offense. The bullies are offensive and they are invisible. Invisible that they look defensive, but they are really offensive. They are in with the other people. Looking alike with them. But they’ve done bad things. Rape and murder and abominations. And they go to trial, but if they know the system or they’re rich or they are lawyers themselves, it doesn’t work. They don’t pay for their crimes. I made them pay. I executed them. I will execute more bullies. They shall put on sackcloth, horror shall cover them. Shame shall be on all faces... They shall fling their silver into the streets, their gold shall be treated as unclean. Gold. Money. Green back dollars. Green and black and white. Green like a meadow and trees and bushes in a park. Black and white like chess pieces. Chess pieces. Chess pieces. Chess pieces...
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