the Expert

The Expert

-Ratty Scurvics

Cast

The Expert

Mother

Father

The Poltergeist

Stage consists of a kitchen with table/chairs (stage right), the concept of a hallway and a bathroom with toilet, sink and tub (stage left). The front door can be offstage right. Lighting shifts between the kitchen and the bathroom. An orange special is always behind the Poltergeist.

Scene 1

Lights up Kitchen

The Expert arrives and is let in by Mother. She is brought to the kitchen table and offered a chair, she accepts after setting her briefcase down. Father is already in the kitchen leaning on a counter. Mother sits across from the Expert.

Expert: Lovely home. Have you been here long?

Father: Not very. We bought the house right after our daughter was born. Less than a year.

E: Did you know the former tenants? Did the agent suggest the house had any sort of troubling history?

Mother: We were told the former resident had a break in and felt unsafe so sold. When we moved in we installed new security, although that doesn’t seem to matter.

E: So the break-ins persist?

F: Nothing broke in. The damn thing was already here!

M: Your mouth.

F: No burglaries. A lot of other problems, but no burglaries.

M: (Moves to take the seat beside the Expert and draws in close) Our baby is using profanities. She hasn’t even said “mama” yet, but she calls me a whore.

E: Does she hear profanity at home?

M: Absolutely not.

E: TV ? Babysitter? I’m sympathetic but also skeptical that this is a paranormal issue.

F: Listen to this. I made a recording. (Produces a baby monitor.)

Poltergeist: (Voice on recorder. His delivery is articulate with the tinge of a Latin teacher’s condescension)
Fuck. Fuck you. Fuck her. Fuck him. Fuck this. Fuck them. Fuck it. Fuck – (Mother abruptly turns off the machine, clearly discomforted.)

E: Whoever is caring for your daughter is deranged. I’d fire him immediately – maybe even call the police. That’s the best help I can give you.

F: That was recorded in her nursery in the middle of the night. She was alone.

E: Someone hacked the signal then. Call the police. (Reaches for her briefcase)

F: The police won’t come anymore. The first time it happened I ran to her nursery with my handgun drawn – no one was with her. We moved her crib to our room, that didn’t stop him. We unplugged it, we even put it away but it ended up next to her crib again. That horrible voice won’t stop. It’s not hacked. He’s not an intruder or a babysitter, we are haunted. I don’t believe in ghosts but we have one! Now she’s starting to speak like that, she’s learning from him. Whatever it is that you do will you please do it?

E: It’s not normal behavior for a ghost. They’re usually more subtle, suggestive. I can try to a get a feel. If it is paranormal I will help you. If this is something in my field, which I’m not certain yet if it is, then there are methods to banish the entity. Show me the nursery.

M: You don’t know what it would mean to me for my baby to stop calling me a whore. But, it doesn’t live in the nursery.

E. Where then? Basement?

F. No, the bathroom. I’ll show you.

Light shift to BathroomFather and Mother lead the Expert down an unassuming hallway to a simple bathroom door.

E: (The expert takes pause before the door) I see, yes I see. Something is definitely in that room. (She touches the handle) It is strong, very strong and… bitter. A sulfur smell. An unusual presence in an unusual place. I’ve never encountered a bathroom dweller. (She strokes a talisman pendant around her neck and briefly clutches it with her eyes tightly closed in concentration) I’m going in.

M: Be careful, it’s mean.

E: I’ll be fine. (She turns the knob and enters)

P: (The Poltergeist is an old man siting on the toilet, surrounded by levitating items, paper rolls, shampoo bottles, hair curlers…. He yells) What in the fuck is wrong with you? Can’t you see I’m taking a shit?E: (Stands in the doorway, stunned)P: Well, you stupid bitch?

E: (Closes the door and remains looking at it momentarily) It is best to give the entity a moment. It must be shocked by my presence here. Do you have any cokes?The sound of crashing and breaking is heard behind the bathroom door

M: Yes. In the kitchen.

E: I believe I can help you.

Scene 2

Light shift to KitchenAll seated at the table

F: That’s him. Do you believe us now? M: He’s so awful!

E: He’s a poltergeist. Only they can use such force with physical objects. This is a more complex situation than a wayward spirit suggestive to guidance to move on. I’ll need time with him.

M: Anything. You wanted a coke?

E: Thank you. (Mother retrieves a can from the refrigerator, hands it to the Expert. Sits back down. The Expert cracks it and sips in contemplative silence. Mother and Father are also silent, waiting to hear what she’ll say) It’s very important not to let him feel powerful, he’s clearly an aggressive spirit, however, to treat him respectfully may inspire respect in turn. Before I employ incantations it’s my method to attempt reasonableness. He doesn’t belong here and must be made to understand that.

F: You mean kick him out? I’d love that. You think I haven’t tried? Everything short of tacking an eviction notice on the damn –

M: Your mouth.

F: On the bathroom door.

E: Not a command, a convincing is what he needs. I’ll approach him again. (She stands from the table with resolve and goes to the bathroom)

Light shift to Bathroom

The Expert enters the bathroom and closes the door behind her. Objects are levitating. The Poltergeist is shaving. It’s very close quarters with both in there. She addresses his direction but without looking directly at him.

E: I sense you near me, entity. I sense you’re lost. It’s not your fault that you became confused when your soul moved beyond the body. I’m here to help you find your way through the light to your destiny.

P: Will you please shut up?

E: Yes, I hear you. I hear you communicating. What do you want me to call you, entity?

P: You can call me mister. I don’t know you well enough to tell you my name. (Shifts to change angles with his razor and bumps her with his elbow) What in the Hell are you even doing in here? Can’t a ghost shave? For fucks sake!

E: I felt you. I know you are here. You are strong.

The Poltergeist wills a levitating bar of soap to hit her forehead.

E: (Rubbing her forehead and collecting herself she looks directly at him for the first time) It is enough for now that we are in contact. We will speak again soon. (Pause) I won’t abandon you.

The Poltergeist wills the door open so suddenly that it knocks the Expert off her balance. She holds herself up with it and exits. The door slams behind her. More crashing from inside.

Light shift to Kitchen

She returns to the kitchen. Does not sit but gathers her briefcase to leave.

M: Well? Is he reasonable?

E: I’ll need more time.

F: Are you all right? Your head?

E: Soap. Only soap.

Father walks her to the door. He returns to the table.

F: That was your “expert”?

Black out

Scene 3

Lights up Kitchen

Father and the Expert are seated at the kitchen table. Mother is fiddling around.

F: Any new ideas? My daughter learned the word “piss” last night.

M: Your mouth.

E: Yes, a few. Finding out something about who he was when he was alive and what motivates him to linger in this world would be very helpful. Does he at all resemble a person you may have known? A grandfather? Maybe even a relative who died before you were born? Spirits have been known to latch onto people they have a connection with.

M: My goodness, no. Not from my side, not him.

F: My family keeps albums; there are generations of them. no resemblances here.

E: Did the former resident leave any photos behind? From what you told me they may have been in a rush to move out.

M: (Joins them at the table) The house was completely empty. I’m sorry.

E: And neither of you have had an experience like this before anywhere else?

M: When I was little a few of my dogs disappeared. That’s the strangest thing I can come up with. You? (To Father)

F: Nothing.

E: Then, I believe, that narrows it down to him. I’ll have to find out about him from himself.

F: Let me know if you get anything annoying. A pet peeve. I’d love to have my moment.

E: It’s natural. You’re being violated by a stranger in your own home, but revenge is not an effective route to peace. I’ll speak with him.

Light shift to Bathroom

The Expert rises from the table, goes to the bathroom and gently enters to find the Poltergeist in a bubble bath. He has lather in his hair, he is scrubbing his feet.

P: I already know you’re too rude a person to give somebody privacy so, whatever you see is on you, jerk. Take it in.

E: I’d like to ask you where you came from. Was there some great pain there that you allowed to trap you on this plane? Was it violent? Was it love? Was it a duty you weren’t able to honor?

P: My daddy spanked me. (Pause) Oh, get off it bitch.

E: To ask questions about your childhood would not be helpful because what made you happened much later. It began when the truth that fairness doesn’t exist sunk in; when you went to your first friend’s funeral; the first palpable success and the doubt it came with that you may never know it again. The child in you had to die for you to become a human – not everyone has the courage to let that happen. Near-humans don’t achieve that goal. You found the child-killing wisdom to avoid becoming one of those eerie people-shaped beings, which means I may speak with you as an entity with a fully formed mind. Find the courage to kill this child you are now. There is a light behind you, it is always there and it is your release. Don’t you understand your destiny is to leave this bathroom and re-form in happiness wherever it leads?

P: I was a good man. I didn’t act on my awful ideas. The ghost in front of you was true to his wife, only killed when the government told me to, only drank on holidays, only fought men when they deserved it. I was good and that took effort. When I passed and got wise I was furious! That light you harp on which is supposed to hold peace for my soul – I peeped in once, stuck my head in and took a look. It’s the gateway to Hell! Anyone fool enough to walk in is trapped. All nature of evil and hurt is in that light despite what you’ve been told. Notice how it’s fiery orange? Like the sun? That’s because it’s fucking hot. What you’re looking at is the narrow end of a bull horn that opens up into rage. When I looked inside I said to myself, “Is this Hell? Why am I offered Hell after striving to be a good man for more years than were useful to me? You go into the damn light! I’m going to roam this ball of yarn until it unravels and burns up. If what is in that light is the future I have to look forward to then I am having my fun right here, right up until the end. All the men I should’ve socked – cracked jaws around; all the drink I didn’t imbibe -tavern is open; and why was I faithful to my mean ugly wife when my days were decorated with pretty skirts? I’m liberal with my cock now – why not? Nope, good and evil don’t argue; the pimp and the senator smoke the same brand of cigar. Priests robbed me by keeping me in penance while I had a body to sin with – but I found out death doesn’t have to stop you.

E: What is the purpose of existing for spite? Can it be to waste everyone’s time? You can’t have an agenda, you’re already dead and, by being dead, the most you can hope to achieve is an echo of a deed. Any other endeavors would be ineffectual because you cannot affect the living world. At the worst, you are a nuisance, at the best, experiential evidence there are things that we, the living, don’t understand – a tepid and mundane supposition. Is it regret that motivates you? That is a hollow animus, you’re dead – it’s too late to change your life. Gratification? How much of your satisfaction is in your mind and how much is derived from a penis you don’t actually possess? Explain to me, what is it that you get from being an odor that won’t wash away?

P: I’m not one of your persuadable phantoms smart-ass. I don’t care about reuniting with my kin under a gilded roof or being serenaded by castrati in a never-ending afternoon, if such bullshit exists. Grasp your goddamn place and keep to it. Stopping me is going to take something more than you. I’ll throw glass because I like the sound of it breaking. I’ll whisper profanities to infants in their cribs because your first word should be a good one. I’ll make up for the joys I denied. If death didn’t stop me what makes you think you can? I’ve had enough of your bullshit. Get out of here or I’ll hit you with soap again.

E: Denial only extends the –

He wills a wave of bubble-bath water to fly across the room onto her and a bar of soap to strike her on her forehead

E: Asshole!

P: Now you’re talking like the bitch you are. Come back with more of that and I might even tell you my name. (He wills the door open, stubbing her toe. She limps out, soaking wet, holding her head)

Light shift to Kitchen

She goes to the front door without speaking with Mother and Father who chase after her asking for an update. She ignores them and yells “SOAP” to Father who almost gets to ask if she is okay.

Blackout

Scene 4

Lights Up Kitchen

Father walks the Expert to the kitchen. Mother is already seated.

M: I hope you’re not hurt. Yesterday you had a limp when you left. And angry.

E: My vocation has challenges. I’m willing to face them. (She sits)

F: Thank you for coming back. Nothing has changed but something is being done and I’m grateful.

M: I agree. Thank you for coming back.

E: Your faith is a great enabler. We will banish the spirit from this home and your family will continue on its happy course. I have come to realize the entity is very strong and determined. Resorting to what I am about to do today is a difficult and strenuous decision, but I dreamed on it and know it’s necessary. He may become violent.

F: (Alarmed) Violent, how violent? Are we in danger?

E: You are not, but he will believe he is. I will threaten him with the worse thing he can imagine. If I do my part well he will leave on the very mention of what I threaten.

M: But, what are you going to threaten him with?

The Expert stands facing away from them down the hallway.

E: Life.

Light shift to Bathroom

She goes to the bathroom leaving Mother and Father bewildered. She enters. The Poltergeist is on the closed toilet reading a newspaper.

P: (Doesn’t look up from the newspaper) Ok. Go on.

E: Are you familiar with the Jewish traditions?

P: Look at me. Does it matter?

E: Rabbis, Jewish holy men, believe one part of the body never crumbles to dust with the rest and on judgment day it will be the source from which the person is resurrected. That part is a small bone at the bottom of the spine –

P: You mean the ass?

E: It is a small bone at the base of the spine called the luz and –

P: (Now looks up at her) The ass-bone. Just say it.

E: – and a person can be resurrected from it at anytime, not just on judgment day if one has the knowledge. I have that knowledge.

P: What people come up with? So, you know how to bring people back to life with their ass-bones?

E: With their luz, yes I do. And I have yours.

P: You what? You grave robbing slut. Put it back!

E: If you do not leave this house I will be forced to resurrect you and you will face-

P: You dug around in my grave and stole my ass-bone? You’re a bigger bitch than I thought!

E: Leave this home or I will resurrect you and you will have to face worldly consequences for the liberties you take.

P: Now listen here you cunt, that soap shit was my sense of humor because you smell like an old log, but if you don’t get out of here right now and put my ass-bone back in my grave I know a trick or two with a razor that’ll leave you shorter.

The Expert withdraws a small book, opens it and begins to read Hebrew out loud.

P: Show it to me. No, what in the Hell am I saying? Out! Now!

Several disposable razors begin to levitate, aimed at the Expert. Their protective caps are still on. She continues reading.

P: I said now!

The door wings open and razors attack the Expert like a swarm of bees. She is forced out and the door slams in her face. Crashing inside ensues.

Light shift to Kitchen

She lets herself out without engaging Mother and Father at all.

M: At least she wasn’t limping. What do you think she said to him?

Blackout

Scene 5

Lights up Kitchen

The Expert arrives to find the Poltergeist sitting with the family at the kitchen table. Everything about that seems ordinary to the family, but the Expert is visibly shocked.

P: Come on. This grave robbing slut again?

M: Your mouth.

P: I don’t think she’s good people.

F: She’s our guest and welcome. (To the Expert) Coke?

E: No. (The Expert remains standing, flabbergasted) I see you left the bathroom.

P: How would you like to live in a bathroom?

E: I wouldn’t. Ever. I would never live in a bathroom. How did…

M: Whatever you said to him did something to his manners.

P: Don’t make me feel like a bullshi-

M: Your mouth.

P: In front of this cun-

M: Your mouth. He left the bathroom on his own after you did and calmly asked me to drive him to his grave because – I’m going to laugh, excuse me. (Lets out a good laugh) He thought you dug him up and stole his tailbone. Did you tell him that? Wait, I’ll finish. Once he saw his grave was fine he told me a few nice stories about what his life had been like… and also some things that got him angry…. While we were looking at his tombstone he remembered himself.

P: She doesn’t have to know all that. Not that woman.

M: Cool it. (to the Expert) I guess you are the expert.

F: Coke to go?

E: No.

F: Stay for lunch?

E: No.

P: Then leave you ungrateful bit-

M: Your mouth.

Black Out