J: A solitary inmate at the (Jail name). An experiment on the effects of solitary confinement on the minds of healthy and law-abiding individuals. Or maybe a joke. Played but the executioner assigned to the case. Just to see what happens after five months. Maybe. A helpless Romantic with a flair for bad poetry and misused Shakespearean English. A slightly affected accent from years abroad. He waits for the day of his death, being kept alone indefinitely, receiving meals through a small slot under the door. With a troubled past, he has begun to block out the reality of his situation. It is his belief that every night, by some miracle, he sneaks out through a small barred window and visits the Opera with Thomas, a mysterious young man that he met his first night. During the day, in isolation, he writes letters to T (with a nonexistent writing set). Slowly, he falls in love and watches the outside world that he once knew fall apart.

A note on monologues: Generally, the next word after a period is read with the sentence before it. There is a pause after the first word in a sentence, not before it, except for emphasis during more emotional bits.

THE LIGHTS MAKE AN ENTRANCE ON A YOUNG MAN SITTING AT A DESK PERPENDICULAR TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE WITH A SMALL INK WELL, DIP PEN, AND OLD YELLOWING STACK OF PAPER. HIS RIGHT ARM (AWAY FROM AUDIENCE) LOOKS AS IF IT IS CHAINED TO THE ARM OF THE CHAIR. THE REST OF THE STAGE IS EMPTY ASIDE FROM A SMALL WASTE BASKET NEXT TO THE DESK.

Thomas,

It was a pleasure to meet your acquaintance sennight past. It is from my deepest heart that I apologize for fleeing an hour prior to morn. I am tied to this place like dog to post, it was towards midnight I felt threads of obligation around my throat. I could not wait another moment to speak to you again. Each word you uttered, purposeful or otherwise remains like a song in my brain. Absent of intention, you have brought about the transformation of everything I thought I knew. You are then, in a sense, a spinner of sorts, pulling from innocence, spinning my delicate strands into manageable thread. You pry my eyes open while the brainwashing numbness of Opera washes over me. In a sense, perhaps this truly just having a friend, for better or worse. The optimum environment for creativity is isolation, you know this, though of course question it, for that is just your genius. You have ruined me to creativity, exposed me to quite a tempting world, not just in opera. No doubt, you have grasped this note, taken it from my mind as everything else, and are pouring through this letter as I write, but let it be, I guess, as no words I have written are not intended for your eyes in the most literal sense. You see, perhaps creativity is overrated, if it costs me the price of ignorance (and, may I add, what a high price it is). Your influence is as unavoidable as truth, for your influence is the only truth, and I will know nothing of ignorance again.

STANDS UP, FLINGS ARMS INTO AIR. BREATHES IN QUICKLY/ GASPS.

I mustn't let myself grow in your shadow, for it has stunted me. Each day I see in you my reflection. Of words, of thoughts, though I can not seem let you go. You know this, how easy to slip into your rhythm, the mysterious way you remain still through it all. The calm in a storm, the eye of the hurricane, the rock at the bottom of a turbulent ocean. You haven't changed since I've met you. Not at all. Thank goodness for that.

TURNS TO WRITE MORE, BUT DECIDES NOT TO, SIGHS. DIPS PEN INTO INK WELL AGAIN.

Cordially yours,

Joseph Pryor

PUTS LETTER INTO ENVELOPE FROM DESK DRAWER AND SLIDES THE LETTER UNDER THE DOOR.

QUICK BLACKOUT

Thomas,

Whatever you say has become true, without seriousness nor choice, perhaps it is of tone, for I have embarrassed myself a great deal for you. It is an easy acceptance, you see, that I crave with every living bone. A gradual nod at even friendship makes me giddy with excitement. Now, everything must be a joke, for your eyes chastise me. I tread carefully, guiltily knowing that you do not. Of course I would love to say my enemies are not a choice, I am sought after by many, but you know how I chase after great conflict. You let me play the victim, though blatantly obvious that I am not, I thank you.

GETS DOWN ON HANDS AND KNEES. NEXT PART IS SAID WITHOUT BEING WRITTEN, MORE LIKE A PRAYER, FACING THE SKY

(Perhaps I am the victim, your scheme has entrenched me, you know how I worship you so. I have no words, as you have stolen them from my lips, how I wish just for you I could be of pleasant demeanor or kindly in face. You tear down the walls to my soul even as I build them stone by stone. My, friend, why, perhaps you are an angel!

those feathered lips would likely do wrong to touch my face, though I dare not speak those words. You.

You that fill my nights with pleasantries, surf my waking hours, how has this change come about so quickly now? You have quenched my supposition, and made me to live in a fools paradise. Though, this too will pass in time to come as all good things must. How can it be that a being like you could grace this humble earth?! LOUDLY: For now, forgive me my sins, forgive my trespass unto holly land, forgive my attempt at amends, forgive my conceited wanting, for pleading, for...)

SADDLY RETURNS TO SEAT AND CONTINUES WRITING

Tonight there is a poem written upon my chest, I have let it enter me, and can not put the notion aside that it means something, perhaps to you, for you;

I know this place,

I've wandered it's halls,

Thats snow sprinkled lashes,

That shake when it falls.

An anger for blood,

Is a pulsing red glow,

He's back, he is back,

But how could I know?

She whispers to my tired face,

Which makes me think perhaps we tried that

They say its not a race

Then tell me, tell why you keep on winning

The beast is a creature of certain demise

He is the one who plants the ideas

A similar friend that may only speak lies

What really the challenge

Is finding what's true

It grew like a seed

It sprouted in you,

So tell me your secrets,

I know that they're there,

Or sweep it away, see if I care

Yours,

J

QUICK BLACKOUT

Dear Thomas

Two fortnights have passed since I was yet graced with your sight. How dare thee take a leave of absence. Has epic change come hither so quickly? Let it not be. Be it not so! Dare I whisper thrice the words of admiration. No, be it not. Thou must know of my loyalty! I shall die if you are gone one more moment! Rescue me my prince! I will remain ever in your debt, if you would grant me with the taste of your lips, just once, if you wake me with your velvet touch, and like a tale my eyes flutter to see thine flaming face before me.

SHAKES HEAD AND CROSSES OUT LAST LINE

It is now you that builds walls. Builds creaky gates and locks with keys long gone. The words of winter have grasped the town with icy fingers. The turning of the seasons is so horrid. A canary from my soul emerged. It whispered the following:

You mustn't hate the ineffable.

The ineffable is not as the great unknown, no, it is perhaps the most known thing in this universe.

It is all beauty.

It is all things shrouded in darkness.

It is the beating heart inside your chest.

Mystery is the least curious of all things.

The ineffable is the tangible.

The true secrets lie within what we see, not beyond it, yet is very few that learn to love the strings, not the puppeteer.

Perhaps you know something of it.

Forever Yours,

J

QUICK BLACKOUT

CRYING:

Thomas,

How can you bear the weight of all apologies I have yet for you? How can you take the burden of my flooding tears? How can you smile through the stone and watch me grow wrinkles of sadness and joy at your sight each night? My gratefulness is infinite, it is my only hope that you know truly. If you think I am talking about you, you're right, you always are you always had to be. A sight of rebellion, in shape, my escape in body, go I am forever in your debt. A last glance at the other side. If only you could join me, no, no, you will live forever, you must. I will watch over you. Of course you mustn't tell me you don't need it. Read this well. Hear this well. Respond in mind. Why, do I never hear from you? Why not a word of my letters when we meet? Blood on my hand, blood on my soul, you're handprint, it can't be any other. Not easy, not easy, only as easy as you let me enter your heart. I am worried I am going crazy. Been a week since I've seen the light of day. Been a week since I've heard the sound of a human voice. Been a week since I've heard a break of silence from the pounding in my heart. The throbbing in my brain. The light is nearer now, you helped me to it. I can't remember your face. Why can't I remember your face! I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

WEEPING

DOSN'T SIGN NAME, PUTS IN ENVELOPE TO SEND

QUICK BLACKOUT

Dearest Thomas,

What to say to you? The whisper of pleasure has blended to happiness that is only found with you. It is fleeting, never closer than the corner of mine eye, yet like the opium of thine voice. Thou represent for me an immunity to pain, an immunity to heartbreak. Oh! Must thou leave my side? A day without you is a day without sun, nay, without air! Ah, thou art the air of my life. Your scent is rejuvenation you make me live once again. How sorry now, that I must die so soon. How little years are granted to my feeble soul. Each day I live is one day less to spend in your's. How long? How long I must wait? I love you, I love you. I love you my angle! No not mine. Your are far too handsome for mine eye. Your are your own, and I could never deprive God of YOUR DIVINITY, no, no, I daren't)

Yours,

...

SPINS AROUND HOLDING THE LETTER. SIGHS. CRUMPLES UP PAPER AND THROWS IT TO THE CORNER OF THE ROOM. SLUMPS DOWN IN CHAIR AND PULLS OUT A NEW SHEET.

I once knew a place of fog. I once new life so clear and simple. So productive. Compartmentalized. So easy to fall to a broken system, to sing the song of freedom. I hate the man I once was for his ignorance. I hate that man for believing that things couldn't change. I hate him for a stubborn adherence to rebellion and a damned need for attention. I hate him for his secrets. We all have them, you know. But particularly him. Particularly me. I beg forgiveness of you. I beg you to sit complacent with all that you don't know. We pity those who don't know all that is kept in the dark. It is far better that way. No knowledge can teach you to sore on angel's wings. It can't teach you the ridiculousness of the universe. It can't teach you to sit still and let life wash over you. It can't teach you, love. I owe you for this. For everything. For teaching me to love life in my last...

No.

I won't.

For now.

In truth,

J

QUICK BLACKOUT

Thomas,

I heard a cry from outside my window, maybe midday.

RUNS TO WINDOW AND RESTS HIS ARM ON THE SILL HEAD IN OTHER PALM

It was the song of sadness spread its wings, bred of disdain for reality.

LOOKS BACK AT AUDIENCE, AS IF IN RESIGNATION.

Hope is the enemy. Always has been. We cry at expectation not met. Goals that rest only in our hearts, like an iron demon. It is not a pleasant thing, to hope. It is the worst of all evils, truly. There is no cure for love. Perhaps one day, in some version of our world. Like a plague, it will sweep all knowledge under the rug and we can be happy again. The weight of expectation rests on my head.

HOLDS HEAD IN HANDS

It is a burden I can no longer bear. The fault is mine, really, to think that things could change. That my conciseness was owed to a higher power, perhaps it is.

LOOKS UP AT SKY, BEGGING

You have deprived me of control. I have no choice in the matter. You are my puppeteer, yet I turn to God for answers that don't exist. I watch my misfortune. I pray for forgiveness for an act I am half sure I didn't commit. Though perhaps I did. Lucky they have kept me here as long as they have. Didn't think I would even have a chance, I don't, I mean, but those sly bastards kept me alive. Those assholes made me watch my life dissolve. Maybe I did. Do it, I mean. Sure seems like they want me to have. It makes sense, right place, right time, right age and build. It is no wonder that it often our own body to betray us, not a witness. Frail, mortal, human form. Confinement, no excuse. No alibi.

GETS DOWN ON HANDS AND KNEES (NO CLUTCHING HANDS TOGETHER) DESPERATE

Tell me I didn't. I want to know I am innocent! Tell me. tell me! I am beginning to lose faith even in myself. You don't write back. I am fairly certain I have never even seen your face. I can not picture it in my head. Tell me it's real. For heaven's sake. Tell me you are real. That I see you each night. I open the window and we watch the show at the theatre. Tell me it wasn't a lie. My angel, tell me that you hear me. Or else...

FACE GOES BLANK

What have I to live for? Is it better to have loved and been lost than to never have learned at all?

I mustn't pretend. Not now.

SLUMPS AGAINST WALL AND STARTS ROCKING. CLOSES EYES. LIGHTS FADES OUT/ scenery changes OPENS EYES. IT IS A JAIL CELL. TWO MEN OPENS DOOR. J DOSN'T LOOK UP. THEY ESCORT HIM OT OF THE ROOM AS HE PULLS AT THE PAINT ON THE FLOOR WITH HIS FINGERNAILS. HE DOSN'T STRUGGLE.

A SHOT IS HEARD FROM OFF STAGE.