The Evils Without…
Jebediah Cross/Dr. Sane
Lights rise over the impossibly dark stage, revealing the first five characters mentioned above in that order from right to left, their bodies lit like the horror storyteller at a campfire. Spencer, 24, is beautiful from head to toe. Radiant. Kathleen, 33, has a dark allure to her, a mix of intense danger and interminable sadness. Whisper ,(???), is hunched and draped in a black hooded cloak, leaving no clues as to age, sex, height or weight. The Baron, 56, is a thin but imposing man dressed to old-school perfection and sporting a monocle and permanent frown. Jebediah, (_), is a tough and disheveled man with the sort of grin that could topple an orphanage. Each one is in a deep state of personal soul-searching, unaware of nothing but the words they say, which are low, suppressed, acting as barriers between what you see and their true selves. Your instincts tell you that there’s something ‘off’ about these people, but you quickly brush that aside as you are eager to hear what intriguing, heartfelt and relatable things they have to say.
Spencer: I was five at the time- or was it-? No. No. It was six. I know it was six because that’s how old I was when my dad disappeared. Fucking douche. Anyway, I was six (takes a breath) at Wilhem Park, trying to fit in…
Kathleen: Teenagers think they know everything. I know I did. I thought it was my right to break curfew every chance I could get. I thought I was smarter than every gray-haired teacher that St. Anne’s Academy for Girls threw my way. I thought I was beautiful, complex, quick-witted, invincible…I thought I was in love…
Whisper: (raises its head as if to speak, then lowers it in sadness or shame)
The Baron: (in a light German accent) I find more often than not that a man’s weakness often lies in his constant dwelling on the past. Reliving repeatedly the savory tales of yesteryear, piling one on top of the other on top of the other until their crushing agony reduces them to a mere shell without substance, existing without living until the inevitable moment some harsh word or stray breeze crushes them beneath their own psychological weight…
Jebediah: I want to marry all the Backstreet Boys…
Spencer: My mom didn’t give two shits about me. I was always the thing that got in the way of her being the alcoholism coke-riddled tramp she so strove to be. Despite all that my stupid ass tried so hard to get her to pay attention to me, to like me. To love me. I’d make her Mother’s Day cards and birthday cards and get good grades, but…So, I was at the park. Billy Stewart started throwing handfuls of sand at me while his lackeys laughed it up from behind him…
Kathleen: His name was Dave and he was everything I ever wanted: tall, handsome, star quarterback of the football team at the public high school. I was sixteen. A sophomore. He was a senior. A senior, can you believe it?! I was sixteen and I was ready to give myself to him, all of myself. So we hopped in his little blue Saab and blazed off into the sunset. I asked where we were going. He said his parent’s house. They were on vacation. We would be alone.
Whisper: (seems even more eager to speak, but collapses under its doubt)
The Baron: My brother was one such weakling. He was three years my elder, but you would never know it, the way he would whimper and whine over life’s inescapable circumstance. Our parents were lost to us, murdered before our eyes for housing a family of Jews in our barn during what you all call the ‘Holocaust’. Dietfried and I were orphaned in a land ravaged by war and depression. War and depression were all I knew…
Jebediah: We’d all have matching tuxedos and *NSync would be soooo jealous of us…
Spencer: I wasn’t what you would call a tough kid. I know, hard to believe, right? Well, I was a skinny little nothing and Billy and his friends scared the shit out of me. I remember shaking, my teeth chattering and shit. Ha. Pathetic. So fight or flight kicks in, and for me it was pretty much flight or flight and I jumped up on my spindly-ass legs and started to run away when- Boom! I ran right into Jacob Dempsey, the only kid nerdier than me, and I knocked him to the ground. I felt bad, I think, at first. Then I heard the familiar laughing. Billy and friends getting hard off my pain. And then I realized. They were laughing at Jacob. Not me. They weren’t laughing at me…
Kathleen: We pulled up to the football field. I don’t think I even thought to ask him why we were stopping there. ‘Come on’, he said, his every word causing my heart to sing, my insides to flutter, my life to be worthwhile. I followed eagerly through the huge empty parking lot, over the fence and to the bleachers where a bunch of his friends I’d recognized from the team were sitting in a circle, in folding chairs, empty beer cans all around them. They were so happy to see me. I was so happy to be there. Dave sat me down on his lap. We drank a few. And then world began to spin…
Whisper: (shrugs, defeated, shaking its head)
The Baron: We found odd jobs, working under the stinging whip and harsh hands of the starving farmers for a few scraps of food and a bed of hay to sleep on. Eventually we escaped to Dusseldorf where we begged for food until we found a job at a factory where the conditions were brutal, the earnings meager. Deitfried had grown lifeless, defeated from our journey as I became hard as diamond, not letting anyone or anything in that brutal world destroy me. My brother was fortunate to find a woman willing to put up with his weakness one Spring. They married and produced a son. Having shown an aptitude for hard work and commanding obedience I was made manager of the factory. And from the whispers of the city folk came word of a wall being built in Berlin…
Jebediah: We’d have our honeymoon in Atlantic City and we’ll all make sweet, sloppy love and although all of us have done it like a billion times before- except Nick -it’ll be like we’re doing it for the very first time…
Spencer: Maybe they thought I did it on purpose. Maybe- it didn’t matter. They weren’t laughing at me. They were laughing at stupid little Jacob Dempsey. I was free, if only for a moment. No. It would be far more than a moment. So before he could climb to his feet. Before he could reach for those ridiculous glasses that made his eyes look ten times too big for his face, I kicked him as hard as I could in his stomach. Billy and his gang gasped for a second and then the laughter started again. Bigger this time. They were cheering me on. Me! So I kicked him again. And again. And again and again and I was on top of him punching and kicking and punching and punching and the laughter, the cheering was so beautiful, so compelling and it was mine. Mine! I was under its spell. Acceptance. Reverence. Fame. Punching, kicking, punching, kicking so lost in it all that I couldn’t feel the blood on my hands, couldn’t see the horrified expression on Billy’s face…or hear Jacob’s last earthly breaths…
Kathleen: The first thing I remember was the look in their eyes. Even though everything was swirling so fast around me and my vision was blurring and I felt like I hadn’t slept for days, the look in their eyes was unmistakably…carnivorous. Their laughter echoed in the chambers of my head left untouched by their poison. I could feel the cool breeze on my flesh as they ripped the clothes from my body. Then the blinding pain as they penetrated me, thrusting their powerful hips against my small body, the laughter and the grunting grew more demonic in my head. I couldn’t breathe. They just kept going. Different voices. The cheering. One after the other. Three at a time. I was covered in them. In their excretions. The agony…I remember wanting to die. Begging that I would die. Praying to God that He kill me. But he didn’t. No man ever would again…
Whisper: (sits, as if thinking)
The Baron: There was a general disquiet throughout West Germany as if all the wounds healing from the Second World War had been torn open with a searing knife…but I had my job. My workers. And Deitfried had his Beata and little Manfried. There was peace amongst us for a while. And then, as is the way of the world, tragedy struck. My brother returned from a long day’s work to learn that his wife and son had been casualties of a van-bombing, a demonstration by the German terrorist Baader-Meinhoff Group. He was inconsolable after that. I tried to make him strong enough to continue living, reminding him of the horrors our parents had witnessed in their lives and managed to remain strong people. But it was no use. I was not four feet away from him when he drew out the gun and planted a bullet in his head, spattering me with blood and chunks of bone and brain matter. Standing there, in a pool of Dietrich’s fluids, I thought of the world. How my parent’s generosity was repaid with death. How true leaps of human progress have are the seeds of chaos, destruction and pain. How feelings and attachment to anything other than yourself can lead to ultimate weakness the day that those things are torn away. From that moment forward I swore that I would not become a victim of the world. No. I would make a victim of it…
Jebediah: And then I cut open their hairless little bellies and choked them to death with their frilly little intestines. The end.
Spencer: And that’s when…
Kathleen: And that’s how…
Whisper: (faces the audience with raising of the head)
The Baron: And that’s why…
Jebediah: And that’s one of the many daydreams I’ve had…
Spencer: …I became…
Kathleen: …I became…
Whisper: (stands, suddenly confident, terrifying)
The Baron: …I became…
Jebediah: …because I’ve always been…
Spencer, Kathleen, The Baron and Jebediah: …evil!
The five characters fade back into the darkness of the stage. There is an eerie silence. A single light comes from above, revealing Dan McCarthy, 31, a man with a ‘bring home to mom’ look who happens to be in his pajamas, knocked out and tied securely to a wooden chair with a small metal device around his neck. There is another chair as well and a small table somewhere on stage. From the darkness whence they’d gone, the five characters from the beginning emerge, surrounding Dan and looking absolutely sinister while staying true to their varied personalities. Whisper looks especially ominous and Hotshot (they are now mostly going to be referred to by their Aliases) is too pleased with himself to keep the sinister guise on for too long.
Hotshot: This- THIS- This is too cool!
Hotshot: AHHH yeah!
Dr. Sane: Can’t we just kill him already? Torture him a little…?
The Baron: No, you idiot! This…this must be done right.
Hotshot: Oh my God, I can’t believe that- this! Us! This is-!
Seductress: Shut up, Hotshot, before I make you.
Hotshot: (startled) Right. Sorry.
Seductress: So, who’s going to do the honors?
The Baron: Obviously, that particular honor should belong to me-
Dr. Sane and Hotshot: What?!
The Baron: I have been his most worthy opponent.
Dr. Sane: Give any ornery old fart a multi-billion dollar empire and an army of minions and of course you’re worthy, but me…I kept him on his toes. Never saw me coming. Filthy little punk always stopped me though (getting himself riled) every time (losing compsure) always tried to STOP ME! (draws a knife and tries to pounce on Dan. Hotshot and The Baron try to stop him…)
Seductress: BACK UP! (…but it is Seductress’ words that makes Dr. Sane rethink his actions and calm himself) I was closer to him than any of you sociopathic neanderthals. I’ll look into his helpless eyes and revel in his tears has he slits his own throat.
The Baron: Infantile.
Hotshot: I’ll rev up the ol’ power gloves and fricassee him!
The Baron: Pedestrian.
Dr. Sane: Why don’t we just force razors down his esophagus and wash it down with battery acid. Worked wonders on my ex-wife.
The Baron: Grotesque. I vote we seek the suggestion of the one who made this night possible. (all face Whisper, who says nothing)
Seductress: Silent as a grave. As always.
The Baron: Hm. (suffering from a sudden change of thought) Perhaps we should think on this dilemma and reconvene in a few hours, having had time to truly bask in the finality of-
Hotshot: Fuck you, man! (putting on a fiery-colored glove while shoving The Baron to the side) I’m getting this over with! I’ve got-
The Baron: (drawing a futuristic-looking weapon to Hotshot’s face) You DARE push me aside, BOY?!
Dr. Sane: (pulls out a pair of knives) Finally!
Seductress: (she raises her arms, aiming one at The Baron and the other at Dr. Sane) Enough! All of you!
The Baron: No one orders me around…
Seductress: Whatever, Baron. Pull the stick out of your ass so you can see I agree with you. (Baron lowers his weapon from Hotshot’s face) We’ll think about this. He’s been a big part of all of our lives and he deserves to die properly. We will keep watch, one at a time, that way we can have some time to say what we want to say to him individually before we come together and figure out a way to kill him that pleases EVERYONE…Jeb.
Dr. Sane: The name’s Dr. Sane. Doctor. Sane.
Dr. Sane: Something funny, Twinkie?
Hotshot: Nope. (laughs under his breath)
The Baron: It’s settled then. Hotshot, you will take the first watch. If he attempts escape call and we will be here to stop him instantly. Now let us part ways so that we can create our own personal masterpieces…
Lights down. Lights come up and Hotshot is sitting in the extra chair at the table, looking at some magazine filled to the brim with sexy women, reacting to each titillating page while drinking from a wine cup. Then boredom begins to set in. He looks from his magazine to Dan and back again. Finally fed up with the lack of action he marches over to Dan and smacks him in the face.
Hotshot: Hey! Hey man, wake up! (smacks him again) Come on! I’m bored off my ass here, man! (pushes him) Ugh! (he stomps to the table, grabs his wine glass and launches its contents into Dan’s face)
Dan: (comes to, coughing)
Hotshot: Thaaat’s better.
Dan: (disoriented) Wha? W-where am I? (notices the other) Hot…Hotshot, is that you?
Hotshot: (overcome with pride in himself) Yup. It’s me.
Dan: What’re you-? I’m- I’m tied up. What did you do to me?
Hotshot: Caught you, duh. (Dan struggles to break free) Oh, and don’t even think you can break free. (gestures at the device around Dan’s neck) Champ Mechanical whipped up this cool power dampener thing so you’re not gonna be super heroing your way out of this jam, man. The Champ sends his regards, by the way.
Dan: This…this isn’t…how did you…?
Hotshot: Never underestimate the power of Hotshot. He’s not just dangerously good-looking ladies, he is also brilliant enough to single-handedly capture Nexus City’s premiere superhero!
Dan: Ha. Single-handedly…with the help of Champ Mechanical. (sniffs the air) And is that…it is…Seductress’ perfume. Who else is in on this?
Hotshot: Dude! Fine! Whatever! Who cares if every villain in the tri-state area is hiding in that closet over there?! The fact is, you’re going to die…and I’m going to be one of the people responsible. Heck, the only person responsible once I threaten the media. Ha! Picture it. Super-Villain Extraordinaire Hotshot Sends Dan- Exemplar -McCarthy Up In Flames! Haha! Woo!
Dan: You won’t get away with this!
Hotshot: (mockingly) Okay…
Dan: Let me out of here!
Hotshot: (slight pause) Seriously?!
Dan: (searches for the right words to say, but instead blurts out:) Dammit, Hotshot, murder?! That’s not your style. You’re a bully, a thief, an idiot kid…
Hotshot: Not helping your case there, skippy.
Dan: What I’m saying is that you’re not like the Seductress or any of these other guys-
Hotshot: Like Dr. Sane?
Dan: (stops in his tracks) Sane’s here?
Hotshot: Yup. And he’s as crazy as ever. Look, Dan, I don’t have anything against you really. I’m sure you’re a great guy and I appreciate your concern for my moral fiber but this is what’s going to put me on the map. Killing Exemplar. The television interviews. The magazine covers. The ladies. Evil is in, my friend. Evil. Is in.
Dan: No. It’s not-
Hotshot: Besides I’m not as clean-cut as you think, guy. I had quite the violent streak when I was a kid so…don’t pretend to know me, ‘kay?
Hotshot: You know that I wanted to be just like you when I was younger. I mean, after all the psychiatry and junk I was a pretty functional guy, you know? Class-clown, always out for a laugh or attention, attract the girlies, see. So I was feeling kind of empty, like ‘Hey, maybe there’s more to life than being the center of attention and partying and fucking and stuff’- all the popular kids go through this sort of shit and hide it by being an utter asshole to ugly people- Anyway, I was kinda down and I see you on the news. “Exemplar, Nexus City’s first super hero, debuts in a big way,” the foxy cougar news lady said. Jake the Quake was shaking things up in the financial district and the old bank was collapsing. The firemen were clearing out, but you just ran right in there and saved one-hundred and forty-eight people. It was a miracle. Only one casualty. Only one.
Dan: Only one…
Hotshot: Jesus, man, they loved you! You were a real hero. The first any of us had ever seen. An instant success. Fame beyond belief. All that attention. It was just what I needed. More! So I had my P.A. Champ rig me up a pair of gloves and Hotshot was born. I was going to be a hero just like you! And I tried, I really did, stopping robbers and helping old ladies across the street…but it was hard. And they never appreciated it. I’d save some old bitch from being mugged and she slaps me for setting her purse on fire! They didn’t care that we had to maintain real jobs and real lives while giving our all for them with every spare second. And no matter what you did and how much you did it there were always more problems, more evils unleashed into the world! It was…it was too much. It was infuriating. I…this is so much easier.
Dan: Of course it is. But I bet you, despite all that stolen money and all those one night stands, you still look in the mirror and feel empty because you took your problem and tried to solve it by swelling it up so large in your head that their wasn’t enough room for anything else! You wanted to be a hero for all the wrong reasons. Let me out of here and you have my word that I will help you fill the void in you life. It’s never too late and you have so much potential, Hotshot. Spencer.
Hotshot: (lost in his thoughts) When they cheered your name it felt great, didn’t it? You were never unwanted. Never shunned. Always loved. And you deserved it. (to Dan) Thanks for the chat, dude, but this is the closest thing to love I’ll ever have. You understand, right?
Lights out. Lights go up. Hotshot is no longer there. Seductress enters, amused and intrigued by the situation. She seems far sexier than she did before, as if putting on a show for Dan. He sees her upon arrival.
Seductress: Aw, you know I hate it when you call me that, Daniel.
Dan: (coldly) Well, it’s who you chose to be. Take the name and everything that comes with it.
Seductress: We’re going to kill you.
Dan: So I’ve heard.
Seductress: Really, darling, this is serious. Not the usual ‘break out at the last minute’ thing you’re used to. There’s no escaping this time. Hotshot, Dr. Sane, The Baron (Dan’s eyes open wide at the mentioning of ‘The Baron’), Whisper and myself.
Seductress: Yes, yes, you’ll meet that enigmatic thing soon enough I suppose. But until then…is there anything you’d like to say to me before you are whisked away from this world?
Seductress: An apology…?
Dan: An- You ruined my marriage!
Seductress: You ruined your marriage. You broke my heart!
Dan: You broke mine!
Dan: I lost everything for you.
Seductress: You were the only man who ever loved me…by choice. I was the only woman who really understood you. Why you did the things you did. Your wife pretended to understand, but-
Dan: Don’t bring her into this.
Seductress: That’s not my name!
Dan: Yes it is.
Seductress: Say my name!
Seductress: (raises her hands as if to enchant him) Say it!
Dan: Your spells don’t work on me…
Seductress: That may have been true when you were at full power, but not so much the case today. So…SAY IT! (she reaches her arms to him as if casting a spell, concentrating intensely on him) Sayitsayitsayitsayit…
Dan: (becoming increasingly enchanted by her power) K-K-K-K-K-KATHLEEN! (he chokes on the words)
Seductress: That’s better. (pause) Do you remember our first date, Daniel? I certainly do. That Italian restaurant by the river. The starry sky. Oh, it was perfect. Just. Perfect. You were the only man who I ever really felt safe with. I mean, a date? Me?! Really? Ah, I almost couldn’t believe it myself. But it happened. I remember it perfectly. It went something like this… (she pulls the table center stage, pushes Dan up to it and sits herself down across from him and smiles longingly) You were so nervous. After a few seconds passed I asked, “What are you thinking?” and you said… (she forces her spell on him)
Dan: (trying to fight it, but failing ultimately) You look beautiful.
Seductress: “Thank you,” I replied with a shy smile. (forces her powers on him again)
Dan: (almost in pain) So…
Seductress: You began, lost in my eyes as I was yours. (enchants)
Dan: (struggles) How was your day?
Seductress: “Oh…” I batted my lashes seductively. “It was nothing special…until now.” And you blushed. Isn’t this fun?
Dan: You twisted b- (she waves a hand at him and he goes silent)
Seductress: We ordered our food. You got the lobster, me a half-portion of veal with light marinara. I can almost smell it. “This is so nice. I haven’t felt like this for another human being in a long time…” I got myself all worked up then and then…and then…I can’t seem to remember what happens next…
Dan: That’s because it was the moment I suddenly lost my appetite because I got sick- sick over the fact that I was a married man…and a father…on a date.
Seductress: You loved me!
Dan: I was confused! But…but that was no excuse. I loved Carol. I love Carol. I just up and threw it all away for…for…
Seductress: You. Loved. Me.
Dan: I was an idiot!
Seductress: She never could have made you happy!
Dan: You don’t know that.
Seductress: Of course I do. She wasn’t like us…
Dan: I’m nothing like you.
Dan: Just go.
Seductress: No. No. You may be willing to give up on us, but I will not! We had our differences…
Dan: You were a murderer! You forced men to fall in love with you and you took all their things and you killed them!
Seductress: And they deserved it! They were scum. Filthy perverse animals propagating evil and lust and sex upon the earth. It was justice. I am a hero, like you!
Dan: You’re sick! Told told me about…when you were a kid, remember? I wanted to help you and I still do.
Seductress: (stops, centers herself) And I want to help you, Daniel. To escape. To get out of here. I used my gifts to set up these little one-on-one sessions for that purpose. So we could be alone and talk about our future together.
Seductress: I will free you if you promise to give yourself to me and only me for the rest of our lives. This nightmare will end if you just tell me you love me. (Dan stares hard into her eyes, silent) Tell me you love me. (more silence is his response) TELL ME! (she puts her all into enchanting him this time. Her strain causes Dan immense levels of agony as he fights it with all his will)
Seductress: Yes? Yes?
Dan: …would rather die than spend another second with you. (she stops trying, and he collapses, breathing heavy as if having been choked)
Seductress: (unexpectedly composed) Fair enough. Just know, that in a few hours, when we kill you, it will be your fault. Like your wife leaving you. Like the fact that you only see your beloved child for a few hours every other weekend. Like any chance at a pleasant future, with a loving family that you traded for a pair of tights and that ridiculous cape. I guess the only thing a true hero lacks the strength and sense to save is himself.
Lights go down as Seductress leaves. Lights come up. Dan is struggling to break free as The Baron enters, nose raised at the other.
The Baron: It seems as though the tables have turned, Exemplar.
Baron: Right you are. It is I, your most worthy opponent. We both knew this day would come, the day that one of us would emerge the victor. Ah, the battles we had. Masterful plans, years in the making, foiled by you in a matter of hours. I’ve come up against countless factors of competition over the years, political, religious, militaristic, other so-called heroes, but none like you. Ever since you arrived on the city’s stage, having saved all those people in the collapse.
Dan: All but one.
The Baron: (brushing his comment aside) Yes, yes. Ever-vigilant you were. Ever-willing to place yourself between my lust for power and the blind sheep that make up the majority of the human race, occasionally with that irksome sidekick of yours. I disagreed with your code, but had nothing but respect for the vigor with which you executed it. An era is truly ending tonight.
Dan: But why, Baron? Why like this? You are the greatest villain of them all and you’re okay with sharing credit with these other guys, with Hotshot, for killing me? That’s hardly your style.
The Baron: (laughs in spite of himself) That feeble attempt at deterring me from the task at hand will yield no fruit for you. Over the years I would go as far to say that we understand quite a bit of each other. How could we not? But whereas your goal is to protect the world from myself and people like me who would wish it harm, mine was always to rule it. Never for a moment was it to kill you. You, dear Exemplar, were merely a hindrance and this opportunity was a quick fix to the one factor keeping me from my destiny. It is a common misconception amongst the heroing community that villains would be lost without their counterparts, but that could not be more wrong. It is you heroes who need us, to validate your desire to leap around in bright colors and tight clothing, to always be in the spotlight. We villains know what we want and we know what needs to be eliminated in order to achieve it. Would I rather have killed you on my own? Yes. But this world is not in the habit of giving us what we want. It is a matter of taking what it gives you and bending it to your will. For example, I now find myself in a secret lair with my greatest opposer and four people who simply do not fit into my plans for a better world. What I have prepared for this upcoming event will be nothing short of magnificence, I assure you. (He’s lost in thought for a moment) When you are gone I will at last be free. Ta. (exits)
Lights go down. When they come back up Dr. Sane is sitting in the extra chair, playing with some random object, sitting behind Dan so that the other cannot see him until he leans forward and sings into his ear…
Dr. Sane: (singing) You are my fire. My one desire. Believe when I say. I want it that way…
Dr. Sane: I beg to differ. Heeheehee…
Dan: (his bravado weaker than before) I heard you were here. Strange. You’re even less of a team player than The Baron.
Dr. Sane: What can I say? I’m a sucker for a party and full to the brim with surprises.
Dr. Sane: So…what?
Dan: So what do you have to say to me? Everyone else marched in here with their standard monologues. What do you have for me?
Dr. Sane: Oh, Danny-boy, you know me better than that. I am a psycho of few words. I prefer my fine cutlery to do my talking for me. (draws out a gun) And sometimes old Betsy here.
Dr. Sane: But since you asked…(becomes very theatrical) I’m gonna miss ya, buddy. I really am, honest and true. You’re pretty much the only nemesis I haven’t slowly killed in my Den of Infinite Mutilations. And, for, well, surviving our relationship, I thought I’d give you a parting gift of sorts. Just so you know how much I care. Stay right there I’ll be right back. (he exits then quickly returns from behind Dan, carrying a balled up piece of yellow fabric. He throws it over Dan’s head so that it unfolds in the air, landing on the floor in front of the other, a blood-stained cape) Ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…
Dan: (in disbelief, then horror) No…
Dr. Sane: Yes.
Dan: You didn’t…
Dr. Sane: I did!
Dr. Sane: Billy Ramirez, aka Kid Maximus! (faking ignorance) Oh… Oh! Oh my! He was- He was your sidekick a few years ago, wasn’t he? You and him were pretty close…right? You, like, fought crime and stuff? Best friends, if I recall. Then he went solo or something… I forget. I forget.
Dan: You…you monster.
Dr. Sane: Tell me something I don’t know. Come on. I dare you. I know a lot.
Dan: He was just a kid…
Dr. Sane: They grow up so fast…
Dr. Sane: You already said that. And settle down, Spanky, he’s not dead. Idiot. He’s hanging by a pair of meat hooks in my basement. (a side thought) I wonder if the dogs got to him yet. Hm. (returns his attention to Dan with wild intensity) But that’s neither here nor there. Just a means to the ends, really. You see, Seductress was the one who gave up your secret identity…you two musta been close, huh? Hotshot (makes the universal blow-job gesture) convinced his pal Champ Mechanical to come out of hiding and make that power-sucking thingamajig. The Baron was nice enough to lend us one of his lairs. Whisper brought us all together…I was beginning to feel a little left out. Useless. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. Maximus wasn’t all that hard to track down. Once a sidekick… It also wasn’t all that hard to coax a few tidbits of information out of him…
Dan: What are you talking-?
Dr. Sane: Ah, ah, ah, daddy’s talking. (signals for Dan to wait a minute as he reaches into his pocket) Wait for it… (pulls out a ring) Surprise! (Examines it for a while, then is blindsided by the realization of its significance) That’s right, sport.
Dan: Carol…that’s her wedding ring…
Dr. Sane: Yeah, she still wore it, isn’t that crazy?
Dan: What did you-
Dr. Sane: (truly outwardly cold, evil, for the first time) I killed her. I snuck into her room while she was sleeping, that peaceful, beautiful thing, and my passion made her scream, louder and louder and louder until your little boy walked in the room, too young to understand. Too innocent. So I finished under the backdrop of his whiny little ‘Stop! Stop! You’re hurting mommy!” adding to the overall ambiance of it all. Ha, pain. He had never experienced real pain in his life. Until I took his mommy and I broke her bones in front of him. I took her by that long blond hair and I cut and I cut and I cut her to little itty bitty pieces and he watched the whole thing and now there’s no way he’s going to be like you because he’ll be too FUCKED up. He’ll be me. Now not only will you be dead, but so will your legacy. And now I’m satisfied. Because I finally contributed. (his eyes are quietly fixed on Dan) It’s funny, because when the gang gets back together and finally do you in, they’ll think themselves champions, victors. But they won’t understand that you’re already dead…on the inside. Courtesy of Dr. Sane. HAHAHAA…(exits, cackling)
Dan: (falling gradually into a frantic mindless fit) You’re lying, Sane! You’re…you’re fucking lying! Maximus is too smart for you! He…he would n-never- NEVER -tell you where Carol and…DJ…YOU’RE LYING! You’re…you’re… (sits in silence until the tears begin to swell. A gentle sob erupts into an agonizing, nearly inhuman wail that echoes within our insides, as he thrashes in his chair, eventually causing it to fall on its side. He barely notices) No…NO! NOOOO! NO! Carol… No. Fuck. Fuck…fuck…DJ…No…NO! NO! NOOO! NO! FUCK! NO, GOD! God…no. (He eventually collaspes under his own grief and when he is entirely quiet, Whisper enters like a wraith, outside of Dan’s field of vision. It creeps nearer and nearer to Dan, leaning toward him, its cloak almost touching his face. Dan feels Whisper’s presence, but it is out of sight when he lifts his head to see) Wha? (After some more curious observation, Whisper makes itself noticeable, crouching down beside Dan) (still an emotional wreck) What…? Who…? You’re Whisper, aren’t you? You did all of this, didn’t you? You brought all these fucked up people together? (Silence) But…why? (Silence) Why? (Silence) All I ever wanted was to be a hero. I slipped up sometimes, I’m human, I…Carol…Oh God…DJ. Did you know he killed my wife? Did you know what he did?! (pause) Kill me. Please just kill me… No. DJ…I have to… (Whisper reaches into its cloak and pulls out a torn rectangle of newspaper. It holds the paper in front of Dan’s face) What are you doing?! I don’t care about- (pause) Is that…? Keith Nielson. What does this have to do with-? (she points to something on the paper) “…fell victim to a super villain attack…” I know this! I know how he died! I tried to save them all! I was so close, I thought I had everyone… (Whisper points again, this time more aggressively) What does this have to do with anything?! (Whisper shoves the paper in Dan’s face) “He was a widower! Survived only by his beloved daughter…” (As he reads the name, Whisper removes its hood, revealing a girl who couldn’t be much more than fifteen years old) “…Veronica, aged eight…” You… (Whisper nods) This is why you put me through all of this? Because I couldn’t save your dad?! This is what I deserve?! A dead wife and a son who- (can’t drive himself to speak further) Oh God… (Whisper exits)
Lights down. Lights up as Hotshot and Dr. Sane sit Dan upright. Dan is passed out, a direct factor of his grief. Seductress, The Baron and Whisper (her identity concealed) are there as well.
Hotshot: Geez, he’s heavy!
Dr. Sane: You’re just not used to any real labor, Snowflake.
The Baron: Well, here we are. I suppose you’ve been given ample time to say your goodbyes and formulate the most effective manner in which to end Exemplar’s life.
Seductress: His name is Daniel.
The Baron: Not to me.
Hotshot: I don’t care how he dies. Let’s just get this over with. I gotta take a few pics and text ’em to the all the papers before the morning.
Seductress: I agree with the boy. Let’s just get this over with. I’m over it.
The Baron: Dr. Sane?
Dr. Sane: Shot to the head. I’m sick of you jerks…besides, I’ve got a nice new heir to play with back at the lair. His son. Teehee. I’m such a rascal.
(pause. Whisper is subtely effected by Sane’s statement)
The Baron: Hm. Well, after much thought on my own part, and in part due to the conversation I shared with Exemplar here, I have put aside my thoughts of a magnificent spectacle of a death as it is but a means to a far greater end for all of us. A ticket to possibility. A weight lifted indefinitely. (to The Baron) Fire away.
Dr. Sane: With pleasure. (shoots the gun. Dan’s body jolts a little, but otherwise there is no effect aside from the face that he groans as if reaching an obnoxious roadblock in an otherwise wonderful dream) Did I load this thing this morning? (Shoots him again, to the same effect) Hm. (Shoots him over and over and over, until…)
Seductress: Stop that, you moron!
Hotshot: Oh shit…
The Baron: His powers…
Hotshot: Ohhh shit…
The Baron: They have returned to him.
Seductress: The device must have broken when he fell over.
Dr. Sane: And here I thought this was gonna be booooring…
Hotshot: Shit! Fuck! (thinks) I know! I know! I’ll call Champ! He’ll know what to do! (pulls out his cell phone and exits)
Dan: (waking up…) Wha…
Dr. Sane: Whoa boy.
Seductress: I’ll try to keep him sleeping…
The Baron: His skin is near-invulnerable. Aim for his brain, through the eye, the second he opens it.
Dr. Sane: (pulls out his gun and starts for Dan) Heh. Heh. Heh. (Whisper draws a knife from Dr. Sane’s belt and holds it up to his neck, standing between him and Dan. She then quickly lifts her hood) What in the-?
Whisper: You weren’t supposed to hurt his family…
Dr. Sane: You ain’t my boss, girly…
The Baron: Seductress, stop her…
Seductress: (strained) I-I…can’t…taking everything I have…to keep him…down…
The Baron: (Draws out his weapon, aiming it at Whisper) Move.
Whisper: No. No! This was supposed to be fast! It was supposed to be easy! He was supposed to pay for what he, for what he failed to do. All the- all the newspapers and the- and everyone, he was such a hero. They loved him and everywhere I looked there he was, always, always so perfect. So perfect, but he wasn’t perfect. He let my dad die. He saved everyone else…why’d he have to let my dad die…
Dr. Sane: Oh, boo hoo.
Whisper: Shut up! But this- I gave you all a chance to be free…for me to get my vengeance…
Whisper: …but you just let all your childish, personal shit get in the way and now look at us! His family was innocent! Now look where we- (Dr. Sane shoots her, Whisper drops to the ground. The unexpectedness of the event causes Seductress to break concentration and Dan’s eyes snap open)
Dr. Sane: Oh shit.
Dan moves slowly, as if allowing his dormant power to return to him fully. There is a darkness to him that cannot be denied. Seductress continues to use her failing powers on him. Dan looks to Whisper, at his feet. She is just barely clinging on to life.
Whisper: I’m sorry…I’m so sorry… (dies)
Dan stands, breaking easily out of the ropes that bound him. In a lightning-quick move, he grabs Seductress by the neck.
Seductress: Daniel…please…I-I tried to set you free…r-remember…?
Dan: Stop. Talking.
Seductress: P-please, Daniel, no one…will ever…love you like… (notices Dr. Sane starting to sneak out) Dr. Sane…escaping…
Dan looks to Dr. Sane, who freezes in place with a weak smile flickering on his face. Seductress breaks free of Dan’s grip and exits, eyes never leaving her love as she does. Dr. Sane exits quickly. Dan is right behind him, but stops just short of exiting at the sound of The Baron’s voice.
The Baron: Your son’s safe.
The Baron: He’s safe.
Dan: How…how would you-
The Baron: Because fancies your DJ some sort of heir to his throne, nestled in his lair. That, and the fact that Dr. Sane will be dead before he leaves these grounds. Upon suggesting this lair be your deathplace, I had my minions construct a number of high-powered weapons about its perimeter, trained to seek and destroy anything that does not exhibit my exact DNA the moment they step outside. I activated the system when the others were speaking with you. As we speak the doctor is breathing his last breaths on the yard as all manner of bullets and lasers and whatnot make a fine puree of his body. The same rings true for the Seductress and, judging by his extended absence, Hotshot before them. I do despise competition.
The Baron: It seems as though our little dance continues, Exemplar.
Dan: No. It’s over. It’s all over.
Lights go down and come up as they were in the beginning, to Spencer, Kathleen, Veronica, The Baron and Jebediah standing on stage, staring blankly into the distance.
Spencer: My name is Spencer Wade. Hotshot.
Kathleen: My name is Kathleen Michaels. Seductress.
Veronica: My name is Veronica Nielson. Whisper.
The Baron: My name is…Deitfried Strauss. The Baron.
Jebediah: My name is Jebediah Cross. Dr. Sane.
Spencer: And these are…
Kathleen: And these are…
Veronica: And these are…
The Baron: And these are…
Jebediah: And these are…
Spencer: …my last thoughts…
Kathleen: …my last thoughts…
Veronica: …my last thoughts…
The Baron: …my last thoughts…
Jebediah: …my last thoughts…
All: …before I died.
Spencer: I’m sorry, Jacob. God dammit, look at my life…You died for nothing. (Backs away into the darkness upstage and exits)
Kathleen: Pain? This isn’t pain. Pain is everything that lead up to this. Don’t forget me, my love. (Backs away into the darkness upstage and exits)
Veronica: We’re going to be together again, daddy. I’m coming. I’m coming. (Backs away into the darkness upstage and exits)
The Baron: I have failed. It seems the world will never be tamed. (Backs away into the darkness upstage and exits)
Jebediah: Th-th-th-th-th-th-that’s all, folks. (Backs away into the darkness upstage and exits)
Dan enters from the darkness, stepping forward into the light, hands in his pockets to start. He is wearing dark street clothing, a pair of sunglasses resting on his head. There is pain in his eyes that seeps into the depths of everything he does, but a contentment beyond explanation. There is something wrong about this that the audience senses clearly, but can’t quite put their finger on. When he speaks it is directly to the audience.
Dan: There’s a kind of darkness in me now that- I -It feels like it’s been there forever, but I know that’s not the case. I know that, once upon a time, life was…good? No, that’s not fair. It’s good now. It really is. And I know I could spend the rest of my life wondering ‘what if’ this, ‘what if’ that, but where’s the solace there? Where’s the progress in that? I maintain tiny fragments of the memory of my family. The three of us, our relationship inflated to some impossible fantasy, but I don’t dwell…I don’t. Forward, always forward. The years that followed the incident were hard- hell, they’re still hard some times, a lot of temptation to deal with, a lot of evil out there and I’m screwed up enough for some of it to seem like a real good idea, but when I’m really down, when I start to feel that raging, howling beast tearing and pulling at the insides of my psyche…I think about my father. He was a real hero. Superhuman strength and flight and everything. You know he once saved one hundred and forty-eight people from a collapsing building all by himself? Everybody loved him. Even if mom pretended she didn’t…she loved him. He was just that kind of guy I guess. (pauses) No one really knows what happened that night. Just that five super-villains were found dead, four of them shot to death and the fifth, he was called The Baron, was inside, his head was twisted the whole way around, a look of agony plastered on his face. A couple hundred miles north was where they found my dad, his body lying beside the mess of blood and skin that was my mother, his wife. He had taken one of the bed posts, the police say, and just kind of- rammed it through his chest. (he goes quiet for a time) The past. (Another pause, this one ends with a light smile) I’m getting married soon. Four months, three days and (checks his watch) five hours. Her name is Melanie and she is absolutely wonderful. She puts up with my screwedupedness and I love her more than words and breath and life. One day we’ll have a little boy, or girl, and it’ll be perfect. Life is good. It’s all good.