(Abel's office. Abel and Lilith are hard at work getting the scaffold ready for Eulalia's execution. Abel leans intently over the unrolled Scroll evidently reading the instructions abd researching some measurements and then going over to the scaffold and measuring the length of the rope which has the noose at the end. Lilith stands arms akimbo, her face showing her dismay)

LILITH: How long are you going to keep measuring that rope? I've been keeping track of the time you've been fussing with it…believe it or not you have been at it for two hours. There's a limit, Abel, even if it is your mother.

ABEL: You don't understand, the length of the drop is all important. If it's too long she'll fall to the ground and only maybe break a leg instead of her neck,.and that wouldn't be too brilliant on the World of Work broadcast. And if it's too short, her neck won't break and she'll have a slow, very painful death by strangulation…and that would also be a very bad thing for the World of Work broadcast. Either way, my very last chance to prove my greatness will be one more failure. And on top of that I'll waste my mother's ultimate sacrifice.

LILITH: (Relenting) Of course, you're under dreadful strain. I know that Abel. And it's only natural. But the truth is that I know you've covered every possible thing that could go wrong…and you'll be fine. And that vicious little interviewer at the World of Work will have to take back that insult. You'll show that your are an executioner that CAN and does…execute. But you've got to find someway to calm down. You're fully prepared. Say it.

ABEL: You're right. I am fully prepared.

LILITH: Here they come!

(Chief Judge comes on stage leading Eulalia to the scaffold, and hands her over to Abel)

CHIEF JUDGE: (To Eulalia) I shall always remember this moment my dear.

EULALIA: Goodbye, Herman. You've been gloriously considerate about all this. Do take care of yourself and of our son.

ABEL: (Very serious and intent) Mother please come and stand here so I can adjust the knot precisely.

EULALIA: Oh, how nice. You did what I asked and chose hanging after all.

ABEL: (Very sententious) It wasn't only to oblige you, mother. As a professional, I studied the choices and it turned out to be the best one for you, after all. See. all the measurements demonstrate it (Points to the text in the scroll and hands it to her.(

EULALIA: (Sees Lilith) I'm so glad to see you here, Lilith. I was hoping that you would be here so that I could return to you that Permanent Pass you presented to me a while back. (Hands Lilith the Scroll)

LILITH: Oh Eulalia you're so sweet and so thoughtful. Thank you. (They exchange air kisses)

EULALIA: (To Lilith) I want you to know that I can go on with this death of mine with serenity knowing that you will be watching over my son, making sure that he sticks to his aim for greatness at all times. Promise that you will do that.

LILITH: (Bows her head) I promise.

ABEL: Mother, I don't want to cut your farewells short, but I have to have your cooperation right now. Please hold still for just a minute so I can get the knot positioned correctly. (Abel tries to work the knot into place, but Eulalia keeps moving her head and nodding to people and talking)

EULALIA: Now Abel, can't you get anything done? Why so much fussing over little details…I think you're just trying to show that you are all important. That isn't the way to greatness. You have to study, study…the theory and then the practical details.. .practice, practice, unending practice. Then when you are called upon to perform you won't be nervous. You won't know how to be nervous. You will do what needs to be done without hesitation. You'll do it…just do it as if it were part of your genetic makeup, your natural gift. Look at him fumble, Lilith, he can't get a simple hangman's knot adjusted.

ABEL: (Exploding) Mother, I implore you…just keep still for half a minute and I'll be ready to pull the drop. And I have to put this hood over your head. Just hold still will you…NOW!

EULALIA: That's right blame me. Blame me for every one of your failures. You've played that tune so often that you might as well do it now. (Glancing at the TV camera) Look there's that little red light glowing on that camera. Are we on the air? That's just fine. Let the whole world see this performance of yours.

ABEL: Yes, mine and yours, too. (Fiddles with knot) Now, one little adjustment. There. We're ready now, Mr. Chief Judge.

CHIEF JUDGE: Now, madam condemned, tradition says that you are allowed a last word.

EULALIA: Thank you, Chief Judge. There is just one thing I'd like to talk about, and that concerns the idea of Greatness. Greatness is all that's worth having in this world. Achieving it may demand the fullest price…even death, even if that highest price has to be paid. Anybody who doesn't know that may as well be dead. I'm proud to say that my son, Abel, the Chief Executioner, was dedicated to that principle from his infancy on.


What's happening? Can't I say my farewell to life without rude interruptions.

CHIEF JUDGE: (To Lilith) Go and see what the fuss is about.

EULALIA: I know it's going to be bad news…they're going to find some way to prevent Abel from achieving greatness.

CHIEF JUDGE: Don't fret…it's probably just some late comers hoping to get in for the event.

EULALIA: How rude! You'd think they would try to be on time.

LILITH: (Has returned holding up the Scroll) It's a message that says the execution has to be stopped!

EULALIA: Where is the messenger? I'll bet I know who it is! (Malachi comes on stage, smiling and holding up his cap in triumph) I knew it. What have you been up to? What mischief have you done to deprive Abel of his chance at greatness.

MALACHI: Just doing my Messenger work, Eulalia. I've been sent by the Qualifying Board.

CHIEF JUDGE; They don't have jurisdiction over an Official Execution.

MALACHI: Yes, they do when they find it necessary to rescind an earlier decision. (To Lilith) Please let me have the text of the of the special message from the Qualifying Board. (Unrolls Scroll and reads) In view of the new evidence we have received regarding the appearance of the Cain at the Qualifying Board, the Board has voted to confer on Eulalia Cain the title of Mother of the Milennium, and this MOM award. We have created this title in admiration of her devotion to conferred on Eulalia Cain. In belated recognition of her dedicated unwavering efforts on behalf of her son's greatness. We demand that the Execution order be declared null and void--

EULALIA: (Interrupting)--Malachi, you're responsible for this, and I think it's unforgivable. You've succeeded in spoiling Abel's last chance-

MALACHI: Please let me finish. (continues reading) and in view of her willingness to die on her son's behalf, we have reversed or qualified rejection and now confer on Abel Cain a fully qualified declaration of his greatness. We salute them both, Eulalia Cain and Abel, Cain. The Qualifying Board.

EULALIA: Malachi, you did this.

MALACHI: Yes, I was so unaccustomed to keeping secrets, that I just couldn't do it. And so I told the Qualifying Board the whole story. That Hermann Cain was the Chief Judge, and that you were claiming to have murdered him and so on.The Board was so impressed that they felt they had to fulfill the lifelong efforts of you and your son. And of course, they insisted that I bring you the award in person. And of course in doing what I did I have once again had to give up my career as a Messenger. Messengers must not reveal other people's secrets.

EULALIA: It so ironic, Abel, if you had been more efficient, the execution would have been over before Malachi arrived, and I would be dead. This way, I am here to enjoy your ultimate achievement of greatness. (To Malachi) I presume that the execution will have to be called off.

MALACHI: Oh I think so. The Qualifying Board is holding a reception in your honor and they expect you to be there. (Hands her the Scroll) This is your special invitation as the Guest of Honor

EULALIA: There's no help for it. Undo the noose. Abel. (After a bit of fumbling he does so) Hermann, take my arm. Malachi are you coming (He nods) And you Lilith?

LILITH: With pleasure.

EULALIA: What about you, Abel, are you coming?

ABEL: I wish I could, but I've got a lot of things to take care of here. Go on ahead without me. I'll try to get there later if I can.

EULALIA: Very well, if you're sure. Here take this in just in case.

ABEL: (Takes scroll, unrolling it) Thanks. There may be something in it for me.

EULALIA: Yes, the ultimate secret of greatness.


ABEL: Perhaps greatness arrives by Messenger after all.


Scene 11 - Coda-after the reception




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