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Archive for February 10th, 2020

At the Inn

Scene 2

Interior of an inn.

In the vicinity of Bethlehem

(Through two open windows the barren landscape can be seen. At the rear where the doorway is, runs a rutted dirt road. A mule tethered to a pole partly visible. At a diagonal the broad way to Egypt is the only raison d’etre for this rundown inn. It is occupied and babel of sounds offstage. The innkeeper without looking at the figure who has just come in, cheerily, “No lodging! For tippling pull up a chair.”

The stranger who comes in: “Hola! I bring in custom.” He looks around and groans, ‘Such sorry stuff!’(He stops and is about to leave)

Publican:

“Master, this is a public house! Stay!

I refuse no shepherds who have cash to spare.

I welcome aliens, minstrels, vagabonds.”

The publican draws near:

(In confidence)

“There is something strange

A royal birth I hear,

The king is as clueless

As I am a publican

A little bird tells me

A little of this and of that gossip

Faults of our constitution,

E’en though cast iron,

Require some polish now and then;

And I tease you with this trifle.

(A guffaw in response. Inn keeper wheedles,)

Pull up a stool and make our

Prattle cheer you, my good sire

With your order add some fare

As we can serve on the side.

 

The Newcomer:

“Cut out the cackle, I send custom

And you take it amiss

Their devilry is how you and I differ.

In their gossip you frown and

Treat it as sorry stuff.

Some shepherds just went in

So did three charlatans,

Almanac trotting prattlers

They have not yet seen me

But I have some dispute with them

So set my order in their midst.

While I palaver, hide if you will

I raise Cain, throw chaff,- and it serves me

If their pate is straight I shall addle a little

But diddle them all for a lark.

 

Innkeeper (quaking):

“ Have mercy sir, I run a business

Strictly on the good side of law.

My name is not in the register

Of the Royal Prison Warder.

Not entirely spotless but I dread

What you are up to…

(The Newcomer dismisses it with a wave)

(Laughter)

 

The Newcomer:

I see no prison ahead for you.

But I came to give a new direction

A lesson to take in the world of uncertainties

Peace and Prosperity shall have your shop closed:

You nod in your smug comfort,

And someone would do you in.

I am the Lord of the flies.

If it is bedlam you seek

My presence simply would

Make your gorge rise yet, but

Cerberus like you watch

Lest you should miss a trick

And you save your neck by it.

Peace and Prosperity

Bah, Chutzpah! Such is the world

These smart Alec deal with duds

To get their light-fingers

Cut your purse.

I am the Lord of the flies,

Go and do as I bid,

A table right in midst

Of shepherds and the Magi.

Revels are to my account.

(Innkeeper hastily retreats while the customer strikes a lordly stance.)

 

Scene-3

Another part of the inn.

(Through the window three horses before a trough can be seen. There is a enclosed courtyard part of the property intended for the horses of lodgers and for the innkeepers household. Shepherds are finishing their noon meal, At the other end three magi have their sheaves of scrolls spread over the table. In the middle Lord of the Flies has kept his feet over the table.)

Lolling on his chair he rocks his crossed feet to and fro, and stares at the ceiling, idly muttering a ditty:

“Jump the frogs, so fly gnats/ through air

Flail my right, roll up sleeve

What have we, double six or what?”

Lord of the Flies puts his feet down sits straight and in a trice cups his hands and shakes.

(This brings all eyes to him. Ceremoniously he opens his hands to show a grasshopper.)

“It is time you attended me. Bohu!”

(At this the three Magi look at each other)

Balshazzar.

“Bohu, said he!”

Melchior the other Magi:

“He is a Chaldean Soothsayer. Tohu wabohu makes sense. But in this case?

 

The Lord of the Flies

“Pardon, sirs. Did I by any chance interrupt your cogitation? Why should one call a grasshopper? If I can materialize him merely by wishing, what is in a name?

Pshaw! Mere play of words.. (To the insect) Shoo, go away!

(He looks at the trio and smiles broadly.) Half rising:

You venture forth seeking some celestial confirmation.

Stars above are in flux:

The cauldron is all full

A-whirl all brightness /like a whirligig

Round and round it spins

Spill them out ? No sirs, all stay put!

Just the same

A cauldron thrown face down!

(Standing up he declaims)

All that starlight roiling pulsating

Gnats from some pond hop

Chirp; and there goes

whirring cicadas

Firespitting critters in celestial miasma!

But they are reigned in

Just the same

What is the idea I ask you sirs?

Why not make the day last eternity?

No no, the cauldron is all full

A-whirl all brightness

But not enough to let

Night its well-earned rest?

Doesn’t it occur it to you, sirs

Methinks

The Man upstairs has goofed?”

 

Magi Gaspar:

If I dispute with you, I earn your displeasure. If I agree the gods over there

must surely dismiss me

For an arrant fool!

Why I for the pleasure of winning

your good graces deny the truth?

 

Lord of the Flies:

What is truth, friend? .

(He sits down with the three.)

“Will you give me the pleasure of your company?

(He takes out a wineskin on the sly. He winks)

I never travel without my comforter.

(The three magi stand up in horror. Pack up their scrolls and close their baggage.)

We run on King Herod’s errand. Pardon if we refuse the clear wine, cooled

It is man’s art

Done to perfection.

 

Melchior:

In Shirz, wine is heaven’s pleasure

But to delay time is sin unpardonable. We will leave.

 

The Lord of the Flies:

But not before having answered a single civil question?

It is as unpardonable as wine in excess.

Is it not?

Balshazzar:

What is the question?

 

The Lord of the Flies:

Your scholarship at the king’s disposal

Shall cause such stink. I foresee it.

A bloodbath hangs at the end.   What shall take blame in such case-

Your scholarship or the Royal authority?

 

The Three Wise Men:

We scan the heavens, we write charts and

Point to the Morrow

From today’s case.

But what a question you ask?

To be in the shoes of Future

And take blame for it now

No man can,

Gods don’t why should we then? (They hastily leave. )

 

 

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