The Rite of Luna by Sor. H.P., 2005

The Rite of Luna

Scene 1

Lights low; Pan seated on stage R, one chair opposite him, a desk or table between the chairs. On stage Luna, several chairs set at random, some upended. Space in front of stage for action also. Audience seating cabaret-style. 12-fold Certitude.

Music: "Bowl of Sky" - Nuit

Pan

It always starts with a dame. And not just any dame; it's gotta be a high-class dame, a toney dame, conservatively dressed, not a hair out of place — always twisting a handkerchief in her white-gloved hands. Coz she's always a dame in trouble.

Luna (Cynthia) enters silently.

Pan

And the dame who stole into my office that night, after I'd sent Friday home and was just getting ready to lock up and head home myself? She was no different, though I first noticed she was there by a smell of unusual perfume — jasmine, I think it was. She never spoke, just looked at me with deep, pleading eyes.

Lights up a little. Pan continues, to L.

Pan

Look, Lady, I dunno how I'm sposeta help you if you won't even answer a simple "Who are you and whad'ya want?"

Luna rises, exits; Pan continues over that action.

Pan

She got up without a word and slipped out the door, silent and furtive as a ghost. Hell, it must be getting bad with me; seeing phantom dames now. Still, easier on the eyes than pink elephants anyway.

Pan rises, continuing.

Pan

I was just about to walk out the door myself, when my eye corner caught a white flash on the chair where my un-blythe spirit had been. So, she wasn't a ghost after all. A matchbook.

Pan picks it up; business with it.

Pan

Totally blank outside. Inside? Nine matches left, in the back row — and behind them, on the inside cover, a series of numbers and words, pretty random-looking.

I hate puzzles.

Pan crosses to left, continuing.

Pan

I hated this one worse when I got home and found it looking like the running of the bulls at Pamplona had taken a detour through my apartment. Not long past, either. The beer in the icebox was still cold. Guess bulls don't like beer. I do. I popped one open while I had a look around and a think.

Was there a connection? Well, if my mystery lady hadn't wasted a half hour of my time at the office playing hard-to-get, I might've been home when this happened — wasn't sure whether I should be cheesed off at her for that or grateful.

No telling how many there'd been. They'd turned everything out, all the drawers and closets, razored open my sofa — never liked the damn thing anyway, came with the apartment, great excuse to get the landlady to have it removed.

They'd been looking for something. But what? Nothing obvious was missing — they'd turned out my spare change onto the bedroom floor, followed by the bowl it'd been sitting in, but they hadn't taken it. They weren't here simply to rob me, though clearly they'd wanted to take something they thought I had.

I considered the icebox; the only thing that appealed was another beer, so I took it. At least they hadn't ripped up the mattress, just turned it over onto the floor. I tried wrestling it back onto the bed, but I was tired and it beat me two falls out of three, so on the second fall I turned the tables on it and pinned it to the floor while I slept on it. I'd cope tomorrow.

Pan lies down on the floor; lights down.

Libation #1 distributed by Friday.

Music: Round Midnight — Ella Fitzgerald

Scene 2

Cancer (Granchi) and Taurus (Toro) move into the action space on the floor in front of the stage, Cancer from R, Taurus from L. They tensely deliver these lines as though it's a code.

Cancer

What is the hour?

Taurus

Moonrise.

Cancer

What is the place?

Taurus

The Chapel of the Holy Graal.

Cancer

What is my office?

Taurus

Warden of the Graal.

Cancer

What is my robe?

Taurus

Chastity.

Cancer

What is my weapon?

Taurus

Vigilance.

Cancer

Whom do we serve?

Taurus

The Lady Artemis.

They both relax.

Cancer

Well? Find it?

Taurus

No. It wasn't there.

Cancer

Damn. Could we have been wrong?

Taurus

Not a chance. I know he's got it somewhere, and I'm gonna find it.

Cancer

Well, maybe we should squeeze it out of him.

They share a glance, go offstage together.
Lights up on stage proper.
There's a phone next to Pan now.

Pan

"Tomorrow" came too early, after a fitful night spent tossing on the mattress, which turned out unwilling to submit after all. I was trying to get out of a dream about a woman in white — I hate clichés, I was living one already, I didn't need 'em in my dreams. Wasn't having much luck; she was in front of me everywhere I turned, I was like in a hall of mirrors with her as my reflection. It was starting to look bad, until the mirrors all suddenly shattered with a noise like a ringing phone.

FX: phone rings.

Pan picks it up, holds it away from his ear as though the other party is shouting.

Pan

It was Friday, nearly hysterical.

Calm down, sweetheart, calm down. C'mon, take a couple deep breaths. Okay, okay, I'll be right over. Showers are overrated, right?

Pan hangs up, rises, straightens his suit & crosses to R.

Pan

I knew before I hung up what I would find at the office when I got there. What I really wanted to know was who'd taken a dislike to my furniture — apart from myself. Actually, I'd rather liked my desk chair — it tipped back just right when I wanted to put my feet on the desk. They'd managed to break it, and I'd thought it was gibraltar-solid. Now I was getting really mad.

I got Friday calmed down enough to tell me nothing I hadn't already figured out for myself, namely that it'd been like this when she got here. Hey sweetheart, at least you hadn't been here and gotten yourself locked in the armoire like Marie Wilson in that Bette Davis movie with the Horn of Roland in it.

But that got me to thinking, and I decided to sit down with that puzzle.

Sweetheart, see if you can rustle me up some coffee from somewhere, will ya?

It got to be late. I sent Friday home. What was it about this dame? What was driving me to solve this? She hadn't offered me a retainer; hell, she hadn't offered me so much as a syllable. Well, no, she'd given me several of those, and some numbers. But they weren't doing me any good.

That was when the two goons came in.

Cancer knocks 3-3-3 then enters with Taurus without further preliminaries.
Pan slips the matchbook in his pocket.

Pan

Well, boys, what can I do for you?

Cancer

I really detest violence, I must have you know, so I hope you'll be reasonable.

Pan

I'm a reasonable man, not too fond of violence myself. What are you afraid I'm gonna be unreasonable about?

Cancer

We represent Miss Cynthia Thessarou, and we must ask you to proceed no further in your current investigation.

Pan

Oh I see. And just what is Miss ... Thessarou's interest in my not proceeding?

Cancer

These are matters you need not concern yourself with. Not every secret needs to be headline news.

Pan

Well, my client's paying me to proceed, whad'ya say to that? I wouldn't have much of a job if I went around dropping my clients just because someone else says I oughta.

Taurus

(threatening)

You won't have much of a life if you don't do what we say!

Cancer

Easy, there, Toro. Please forgive my associate, he spoke out of turn — and out of concern for our employer as well, I assure you. We are prepared to offer you three hundred thirty dollars to cease and desist.

Pan

Offer me a drink on top of that, and I'll negotiate.

Cancer

(smiling broadly)

Done. Won't you take us to your preferred drinking establishment, please?

Pan

I knew I'd at least get a free drink out of the deal, so I went with them.

They exit. Cancer quietly takes papers off the desk on the way out. Friday distributes Libation #2.

Music: Scotch and Soda — Giacomo Gates

Stage cleared of chairs. Lights up.

Scene 3

Pan

What I didn't know was that the drink wasn't gonna be free. They seemed to be trying to get something out of me, find out what I knew. Since I knew jack, they were bound to be disappointed. I found out after we left the bar what that disappointment meant.

Taurus, walking behind Pan, suddenly grabs him in a nelson; Cancer whirls round and sucker punches him.

Cancer

As I said, I detest violence; my associate, however, delights in it as any craftsman skilled in his art. Toro, enjoy yourself.

[Need to work on the choreography here, but it'll be LBRP as a physical fight where Pan gets the worst of it.]

(ed. note) Seriously, that's what the script says at this point.

Taurus

Dammit! He blacked out on me!

Cancer

Tsk. You overdid it. Well, pick him up and come along. We'll try my way now.

Lights down. Friday distributes Libation #3.

Music: What A Little Moonlight Can Do — Diane Reeves

Scene 4

Lights up. One chair on stage, Pan sits in it as if bound, groggy. Cancer, wearing a white lab coat and carrying an oversized needle, crosses to Pan, shoots him up with it.

Cancer

Yes. Now relax inside.

Where did all this begin?

Pan

(beginning to go under)

With a dame, same as always.

Cancer

Who was she?

Pan

My mother, who else? Everybody starts at their mother.

Cancer

(patiently)

Maybe a little nearer in time than that. What came after?

Pan

She died. At least, I guess so. I haven't heard from her in years.

Cancer

(exasperated)

I'm sure you were a devoted son. But let's talk about a nearer time still.

Tell me about the white lady.

Pan

(sleepier)

Beautiful. Unapproachable. Silent. Powerful; but somehow anxious.

Cancer

How did she make you feel?

Pan

Confused. Out of control. Frustrated.

Cancer

Angry?

Pan

Yes.

Cancer

Everything you thought you had is gone.

Pan

(really tranced out)

Yes.

Cancer

You want revenge.

Pan doesn't answer.

Cancer

(more insistent)

You want revenge.

Pan

No. I want to redeem myself.

Cancer

Why do you want to redeem yourself?

Pan

I think I disappointed her somehow.

Cancer

How do you think you did that?

Pan

I — don't — know. It just seemed like it.

Cancer

And how do you plan to redeem yourself?

Pan

(muttered)

More light.

Cancer

What?

Pan

(louder)

More light.

Cancer

What?

Pan

(coming out of trance)

MORE LIGHT!

Cancer

(to the lighting tech)

More light!!

Tight spot on Pan's face.

Cancer

I! Am! Out! of patience! Where did you hide it?

Pan

I don't know what it is!

Cancer

What do you know about the lady?

Pan

She's very unhappy!

Cancer

Whose side are you on?

Pan

Whoever's paying!

Cancer

Why do you continually defy me??

Pan

It makes me stronger!!

Cancer

(slaps Pan forehand)

Lout!

Pan

Fop!

Cancer

(slaps Pan backhand)

Ex-convict!

Pan

LACKEY!

Cancer

(slaps Pan forehand again)

VAGRANT!

Pan

ECCENTRIC!

Cancer

(grabs Pan by the neck and shakes him)

ANSWER ME!!!!

Pan

(going under)

So bright we could not look! But behold! a blood-red rose upon a rood of glowing gold!

Cancer is choking Pan but Pan doesn't seem to know or care;

Taurus

(stepping in and giving Cancer a slap himself)

Granchi! He ain't no good to us dead!

Cancer visibly collects himself; straightens his tie, etc, but gives Taurus no acknowledgment or thanks other than a brief nod.
Pan snorts once as in sleep.

Taurus

D'ya think maybe he actually doesn't know?

Cancer

Not conceivable. We know she came to him; he must know. Well, let him go, but have him followed. If he thinks he's safe, he may do something revealing.

Lights down. Friday distributes Libation #4.

Music: Moonlight Serenade — Glenn Miller

Chair offstage.

Scene 5

Lights up. Pan lying down; Satyr visible in the wings but not obtrusive.

Pan

I wasn't sure, when I woke up, what exactly had happened last night. I remembered going out for a drink with Miss Thessarou's hired hands, and after that everything got kinda confused. I seemed to remember some kind of interrogation — it was all like a dream. But I had real enough bruises, which meant that having had the living hell beat out of me by that Toro guy was probably also real enough.

But why did they offer to buy me off if they were just going to beat me senseless, unless it was to throw me off my guard? Hell, the whole situation had me thrown from the get-go. There had to be something in the puzzle that would get me further, and I was damwell going to find it, goons or no goons. But when I got back to my desk, I found that they'd taken my papers. I was back to square one — worse, because now I had nothing to go on.

I stopped by the bar on the way from the office — partly for a little hair of the dog, but mostly to quiz the barkeep and see if he knew the two characters or had seen them again.

Pan walks off the stage to the cabaret tables & sits.
Friday distributes Libation #5.

Music: Lush Life — Hartman & Coltrane

Pan

Course he didn't and hadn't. And to top it off, I suspected they'd set a tail on me. I knew how to find out for certain. I'd been in front of the old Regina House when I glimpsed him, so I left it, walking along University. Nobody knows the streets like I do, and if anybody was still with me when I got done, I'd know he was my shadow.

When I got to the Ephesus Foundation, I shook the dust off my feet and started really moving. I turned left and headed uptown, and reached the big Monkey-Puzzle tree on the square pretty soon, thinking hard the whole time about everything that'd happened so far. I was caught up in this fabric of lies like a fish in a net, and I was feeling used, abused and confused. I let my frustration ramp up; I was going to need it, need that adrenaline to motivate me away from thinking too hard about this.

I was so caught up in my feelings by the time I rounded the VE Day Memorial that I slammed into some lady and she swore at me in a most unladylike fashion. Yeah, I had to keep from thinking too hard, but I also had to keep from getting carried away. I paused in front of a beauty parlor, and looked at my reflection in the window on the pretext of straightening my tie; he was reflected there too. He was still with me, and he wasn't hiding it too well — something about holding the racing form upside-down will give it away every time.

I had come to a point of relative balance. It was time to either shake this guy or shake him down. I took off, faster. I passed the Hall of Justice, Mercy Hospital — what a pair of misnomers. I was my own agent now, didn't need either of 'em.

I was sure I'd lose him on three turns around Queen Lake, that he'd guess I was onto him and would at least hang back, but if anything, he hung even closer as I left Gray Cross behind. When I got to the Crown Tavern, it was time.

Pan whirls around, grabs Satyr by the lapels with one hand and gives him a cross to the jaw with the other.

Pan

Alright, you, who are you, and why've you been following me around all day?

Satyr

(sputtering, swinging wildly and ineffectually)

Why, you, I oughta...

Pan

(gives him another few slaps)

Now look, kid, are you gonna play nice, or am I gonna have to get serious?

Satyr breaks away, sulking.

Satyr

I got powerful friends, you. You wanna be careful, real careful.

Pan

I can guess who your friends are. In fact, I think we've already met. So, did they send you, or are you having a little stroll for your health?

Satyr looks around furtively.

Satyr

I can't talk about it here. But there's a safer place. Meet me, here. In an hour.

Satyr hands Pan a business card, flees offstage.

Pan

Great. Just what I need, to walk into another ambush. This was getting better by the minute.

Pan looks at card.

Pan

"The Shrine," huh? Some kind of nightclub or something?

(Flips the card over)

Another meaningless set of letters and numbers. Hey, wait a minute!

(Digs the matchbook out of his pocket)

Not the same. But maybe one's a key to the other.

But what connection did the gunsel have to this, apart from being my two sometime friends' pretty useless agent? Whose side was he really on, anyway? The longer I hung onto this, the murkier it got. What I needed was to simplify. Handle one thing at a time. I had an hour. I sat down with my two scraps.

Lights down onstage.
Friday distributes Libation #6.

Music: How High The Moon — Jim Gibson

Pan and Satyr sit down at one of the cabaret tables in the down front action space.

Scene 6

Pan

Now that the shrine is perfectly guarded, supposing you tell me what this is all about. I haven't gotten far with this puzzle from you and the mystery dame, but I've gotten far enough to know that there's some kind of treasure involved. I've been beaten, I've been drugged, and my home and business have been ransacked. I've been more than patient. Now spill, before I get really annoyed.

Satyr laughs, then grows serious. He's clearly more self-confident than he let on earlier.

Satyr

Yes, you've been patient, and it's only fair to tell you. It's about a pearl. A pearl as big as a man's fist, they say, stolen years ago and hidden. It's gotta be worth a king's ransom. That's what Granchi and Toro are after. They think you know about it. And they'll stop at nothing to get it.

Pan

How the hell would I know about it? I never heard of it before! And for that matter, if you're just their hired snitch, how the hell do you know about it? There's something you're not telling me.

Satyr

(nonchalantly)

Oh, you know, they talk about it.

Pan

Bullshit! They wouldn't tell me what they were looking for, and they thought I had it. Why would they talk to you about it? They made some cockamamie story about my needing to quit this job because their boss wanted me to. This stinks, gunsel, like week-old halibut, and I'm not buying. Come clean with me or I'm gonna get violent.

Satyr

Shh! People are staring! Uh, waiter, another libation please.

Friday distributes Libation #7.

Music: This Bitter Earth — Dinah Washington

Satyr

Okay, you're right. I work for the lady who came to see you. Granchi and Toro don't know that. My mistress and I are looking for the pearl too. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for them to sign me on to tail you.

Pan

(drily)

Highly convenient.

Satyr

(honest and oblivious to the sarcasm)

Oh, completely! My mistress says there are no accidents.

Pan

Your mistress doesn't say much, and that's a fact. So, supposing I decide to help you people find this fabulous thing — what's in it for me, anyway?

Satyr

What, didn't she talk to you about that?

Pan

Kid, she didn't talk to me at all. She sat in my office looking soulfully at me for the better part of half an hour until she decided to get up and leave.

Satyr

Oh dear. Oh dear. It's worse than she thought. Uh, I can't talk to you about that, then.

Pan

Kid, I'm gonna get my dander up.

Satyr

I'm sorry, really I am, but I just can't. I'm gonna have to go ask her about what to do next.

Pan

(rising angrily)

Fine! You can tell her to find another gumshoe then! I may not get a straight answer from those other guys, but at least I know where they stand.

Pan stamps out.

Satyr

But do you know, gumshoe? Do you really know?

Satyr rises & exits. Libation #8,

Music: But Not for Me — Ella Fitzgerald & Andre Previn

Scene 7

Lights up onstage;
desk now at Luna, Cancer seated at it,
Taurus behind and upstage of him,
Pan standing in front of the desk.

Cancer

I must say, I find your presence here both disturbing and strangely encouraging.

Pan

Yeah, well, when I want something, I go find it. But first I have to know what I want.

Cancer

Ah. And do you know what you want?

Pan

Answers. You seemed to think I knew something I didn't. You beat me up and tortured me and set your inept bloodhound on me because you thought I had something I didn't. Now, you tell me what you know about this pearl, and tell me what it's worth to you, and maybe I'll help you find it as easily as I found you.

Cancer

And if we refuse?

Pan draws a gun.

Pan

Then the only thing you'll be able to do with your mythical treasure is snuggle it while you take the dirt nap.

Cancer

Oh dear me. How very gauche.

Pan

Shall I start by blowing off your associate's kneecaps?

Taurus

(starts for Pan)

Why you —

Pan

(swivels aim to Taurus's kneecaps)

My ribs still remind me of your tender ministrations every time I breathe, darling. Maybe I'll aim a couple feet higher instead.

Pan does so. Cocks the hammer or something similar, depending on the gun.

Cancer

That won't be necessary. I'm sure we can come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

Pan

33% of your profits.

Taurus

(aghast)

What??

Cancer

15.

Pan

25, and that's my final offer. Take it or leave it.

Cancer

Done. Be still, Toro! So, what do you know about the pearl.

Pan

25% and I ask the questions, fancy man. You've done all the asking you're entitled to.

Taurus

Sez who?

Pan

Says my associates, Mister Smith and Mister Wesson. Now, you tell me what you know, or the deal's off.

Cancer

Of course, of course. You can't very well find it in the absence of information, can you.

Taurus

(very agitated)

Granchi!!

Cancer

Dammit, Toro! Pardon us for a moment, will you?

Pan

Of course.

Cancer

(pulls Taurus aside; in a stage whisper)

Will you kindly shut up and let me handle this! Of course I'm going to tell him what we know. Suppose he doesn't already know; then he'll have learned more, and will be able to lead us to the pearl. Suppose he does know; then he'll have gotten from us what he asked for, and will lead us to the pearl.

Taurus

But what if he double-crosses us?

Cancer

He's not clever enough. That's our job. And when we have the pearl, then you can do away with him, if you're so desperate to have the extra twelve percent. Now if you can't be quiet, then be absent!

They return to their places; Pan has put his gun away in the meantime.

Cancer

I do apologize. Where were we?

Pan

The pearl.

Cancer

Of course, of course. The pearl is supposed to be as big as a man's fist; a legendary treasure of the ancient world — another land, another time. Stolen innumerable times, its trail as convolute as a serpent's coils.

Pan

Yeah, fine, all very epic, I'm sure. And now you're going to steal it — but you won't get a lot of profit from a myth — and without some hard fact, that's all I'll be able to find for you.

Cancer

What more do you want?

Pan

You could start by giving me back the papers you kiped from my office.

Cancer

(laughs lightly)

What makes you think we have them?

Pan

What made you think I had your treasure, fancy man?

(grabs Cancer)

What made you think I had it?! You miserable highbrow with your cock and bull story about this broad you're working for and how it's her who wants me off the case, how the hell did you even know I was on a case?

Cancer

(flustered)

My dear fellow, this unseemly display is hardly conducive to a sound partnership.

Pan

Don't you "dear fellow" me, you lousy —

(light dawns)

wait a minute. The only way you could've known I was on a case was if your boss told you; and the only way she could've known was if she was the same broad who hired me in the first place!

Cancer

You have us fair and square on that. Alright, I'll come clean with you, since your colossal ignorance makes it necessary.

(extricates himself from Pan's grip, smoothes his lapels)

Yes, Miss Thessarou is our employer, and yours. And she wants the pearl. But she wants it in order to destroy it.

Pan

So what difference does that make, if she's paying you?

Cancer

It makes all the difference. She doesn't really want it; she wants it destroyed. My associate and I, on the other hand, think that to destroy it would be a tremendous waste; therefore, we plan to find it, dissemble to our employer that we've destroyed it, then sell it ourselves.

Pan

Ahah. And it won't matter then if she fires you for double-crossing her, since you probably won't need the money after you sell it, will you.

Cancer

Precisely.

Pan

I'm beginning to see the light. Fine. You give me back my papers, and I'll see if I can't rescue this thing for you.

Cancer

We don't have them.

Pan

Don't start again with me!

Taurus

We don't have 'em, gumshoe! We destroyed 'em!

Cancer

More to the point, my associate (glares) destroyed them, lest they fall into other hands.

Pan

He didn't trust you either, eh? So much for honor among thieves. Never mind. I have a damn good idea already where it is, now that I've had a little think-time. Get us a car. We're going to 27 Crescent.

Taurus

But that's —!

Taurus shuts up quickly.

Cancer

Miss Thessarou's. Yes. Very clever, sir. And what do you propose to do there?

Pan

You get me past the front gate; let me worry about what happens next.

Lights down onstage. Friday distributes Libation #9.

Music: Fools Rush In — Etta Jones

Onstage, set up the 9 images and the pearl, stage L; be sure that side of the stage stays dark until noted. In the lower action space, set up 4 chairs as in a car.
Taurus in driver's seat, Cancer & Pan in the back. Continue at end of music.

Scene 8

Pan

We got there. It was on the outskirts of town; you could just glimpse bits of it through the maze of nine-foot hedges surrounding the place, like a flash of white thigh through a skirt slit. Once we got in plain view of the thing, I was plenty impressed.

Cancer

Welcome to the Mansions of the Moon.

Pan

Charmed, I'm sure.

I looked up at the place as we drove toward it; there she was, silhouetted in a third-floor window. She knew we were coming — she knew I was coming. And what, indeed, was I going to do next? I had jumped in on impulse, acting on nothing but a hunch. I was having not just second, but third and fourth thoughts about this. But I did the only thing I could do — since I started down this road on impulse, I let impulse keep the motor running.

They get up and climb the stage stairs R, knock on the proscenium 3-3-3 as though it's a door.
Satyr "opens".

Satyr

(To Pan)

You!

Taurus & Cancer

(simultaneously, to Satyr)

You!

Pan

While you boys enjoy this little high school reunion, stand outta my way.

Satyr

You can't come in here!

Pan

Who's gonna stop me, kid, you?

Satyr

You don't know what you're doing!

Pan

No, I'm making it up as I go, and the more you people yap at me, the more likely I am to make up something you won't like!

They all move onto the stage and walk in place for the next bit.

Pan

Something was drawing me, not upstairs where I'd seen her, but down, into the cellars — it was instinct, like an animal's homing sense, and the same instinct that told me I'd find what I was looking for also told me that something would be guarding it. Something unfriendly. The others followed me, arguing in whispers; they might've known their employer's house upstairs, but whatever was down here was something they were whispering not to disturb — and something they'd also pulled out heat against.

Pan pulls out a flashlight.

Pan

It was dark, of course. The place even smelled murky. We couldn't've been more than 50 feet down, but it felt like we were in the bowels of the earth. Some kind of currents were meeting here, churning like a meeting of many waters, but I wasn't feeling physically buffeted, i was feeling my spirit tossed on that confluence like a cork. What the hell had she built her house on top of?

And then the light gave out.

(it does, and the stage light too)

Pan

Damn cheap batteries.

Taurus

What the hell you playing at, gumshoe? Turn the damn light back on!

Pan

I'd love to, but it seems the light has other ideas. Anybody got a light? No?

I fished around in my pockets. The lady's matchbook.

Dunno how long nine matches will last us, boys. Long enough to get back out, maybe.

Cancer

No! We've come to far to let a silly thing like equipment failure stop us.

Pan

Suppose we don't find it? Hell, suppose we do, fat lot of good it'll do us stuck down here.

Cancer

You've led us up to this point without much in the way of visible guidance. Do you even know where we are? Does it matter whether or not you can see?

Pan

A fair question. I'm less worried about where I'm going than I am about who's going with me, but I guess none of you can hit what you can't see. Long as none of you yo-yos shoot me by accident...

These catacombs seemed to go on a lot longer than the house on top of them. I dunno how long we walked; the corridor turned and switched back on itself again and again, but there was only one path, no branchings. I went carefully, listening and feeling. I didn't know what we were walking into.

Eventually, the others quit even speaking, and the only sound was four pairs of shoes in the close, thick darkness. And then I got another of those instinct twitches, and stopped short — the others plowed into me.

Shh!

We'd come into a room, I could tell by how the sound opened out; and someone — or something — was already here to meet us. I took the matchbook out of my pocket again, pulled one of the precious matches and lit it.

Pan does so.

Close spot on scary image of Hecate.
All give a shout of terror,
Pan drops the match;
light immediately out.

FX: gunshot

Cancer

Toro, you lummox, put that damned thing away before you kill us all.

Pan lights second match; spot on image of Diana of Ephesus. Same business, but this time we see Cancer grab Taurus's gun hand and point it up before it goes off.

FX: gunshot

Pan

Stop it! You morons, it's only a statue!

Satyr

(softly)

And the hunter who had looked on her nakedness tried to call to his dogs, to get them to realize he was their master, but no sound came from his throat but a stag's belling; and his own hounds tore him to pieces while she calmly finished her bath.

Pan lights 3rd match; tight spot on image a Frazetta valkyrie type. Gasps again, but no shots this time, and
Pan calmly shakes the match out. Spot out.

Cancer

What in the name of all that's holy did you do that for?

Pan

It's the key, Granchi, and if you don't understand that, then you're not as smart as you think you are.

Pan lights 4th match; this time the image is of Kurukulle.
Pan shakes the match out; spot out.

Satyr

Homage and praise to her who stands in the dancing pose haughty wih furious rage, who bears a tiger skin, I pay homage to the red one, baring her fangs, whose body is frightful. who is adrorned with the five signs of ferocity, whose necklace is half a hundred human heads, who is the conqueress of Mara.

Pan lights 5th match, and the image is a Sheela na Gig.

Taurus

You're crazy! You're wasting those and we'll never get out of here! Gimme that!

Pan

(shakes the match out; spot out)

Find me. You can't hit what you can't see.

Taurus

I don't need to see, I c'n hear you breathin. Now gimme the damn matches!

Pan

Tell you what.

Pan strikes 6th, tight spot up on image of Medusa.
Pan hands the matchbook to Cancer.

Pan

Why don't you take charge of these. Do you want the pearl or not? Ow, dammit.

Match and spot out.

Taurus

Get us outta this, Granchi.

Cancer

I see. Very clever indeed. Yes, I believe you're right.

Cancer lights 7th match; spot on image of Baba Yaga.

Pan

(leans over and blows match out; spot out)

Not that one.

Satyr

How will we know?

Pan

I'll know. There're just enough matches for this. Light another, fancy man.

Cancer does so. Spot up on a black dragon statue with the pearl in its claws.
All gasp but Pan, who blows the match out.
Spot out.

Cancer

You idiot! That was it! What have you done? Are you mad?

Pan

There's just one left. Do you dare? Do you think you'll see what you want? Or do you think you have it in you to go feel in the dark for it? Do you believe in dragons, mister scientist?

Cancer

You are mad.

Pan

We're all mad here. I'm mad; you're mad. I am walking in an asylum; all the men and women about me are insane. Oh madness! madness! madness! desirable art thou! Light the last match, man, or let me do it.

Satyr

No, I'll take that.

There's a little scuffle, then striking the last match;
we see that Satyr has it, and Cancer has drawn a gun.
The dragon is still there.
Pan crosses to it and gently draws the pearl from the claws;
the dragon falls as a veil and Luna is behind it.
Match out;
dim light now, the pearl either glowing from inside or with a follow spot on it.

Cancer

(points gun, other hand out)

Thank you, I'll take that now.

Satyr

(pulls a gun himself)

No!

Taurus

I've been waiting all night for this.

Pan

Back off, all of you!

At this point,
Pan's gun is pointing at Taurus,
Taurus's at Pan,
Satyr's at Cancer,
and Cancer's at Pan.

Satyr

(to Cancer)

You greedy bastard, don't you understand? The treasure isn't the pearl, the treasure's inside it!

(to Pan)

Look, a pearl grows around an irritation in an oyster, right? This one's no different. But the thing inside, this time, is actually more fantastic and valuable than the pearl itself!

Pan

What could be worth more than a pearl this big?

Satyr

Nobody knows! It could be all kinds of things. Some say it's the magical seal ring of King Solomon, the one he used to conjure and bind the Ifrits with. The point is, nobody can know without destroying the pearl.

Pan

And nobody's been willing to destroy it up to now, is that it? Because they're too willing to go for the easy money. But I don't care, do I? That's the point, isn't it, that I'm not connected to any of this, I'm just a hired gun.

(angrily, to Luna)

You needed me, didn't you, you needed me to do your dirty work for you, to get past whatever the hell thing that is living in your basement. You built your damn mansion over it, and when you couldn't get at it with the goons you had, you went after it with one you had to buy.

And now you need me to destroy it for you, because none of you can bring yourselves to do it.

(to Taurus & Cancer)

You two were counting on me to be greedy, just like you, to want to keep it whole, sell it for the money.

(to Luna & Satyr)

You two are counting on me to be reckless and angry, to smash the thing in a rage without thinking; not one of you has given me credit for the brains that got me here, the strength that saw me through all this, the damn stubbornness that kept me going. All of you had your plan for me; not one of you has realized that maybe I just might have my own damn agenda that doesn't include cooperating with any of you.

Whatever's inside this thing, it won't matter one way or another to you, because possession is nine tenths of the law, and I'm feeling pretty possessed just now. Whatever's inside this belongs to me.

Cancer

Don't be a fool. You'll never get out of this alive without our help. Give me the pearl.

Taurus

You can only shoot one of us, gumshoe, and the other one'll drop you.

Pan

Sez who?

Taurus

That's stupid. You only got one gun.

Pan

(quietly)

Catch.

Pan throws the pearl straight up, everyone's eyes follow it;
he pulls out a second gun and shoots both Taurus and Cancer;
Taurus falls clutching his shoulder, Cancer his stomach.
Satyr is totally focussed on the pearl; it falls and smashes.
Satyr dives for it, scrabbling in the shards.

Satyr

There's nothing! Nothing!

Pan, still quiet, pockets his two guns. Starts to chuckle, softly.

Pan

Story of my life. What belongs to me? Nothing.

Pan walks up to Luna, seizes her hand and kisses it, then draws her into a romantic Astaire/Rogers kind of dance.

Music: Blue Moon - Mel Torme

Curtain.

In Oakland CA, it is
Fri, 28 Apr 2017 12:13 AM.
 

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