(Curtain rises on an office scene. George Caseman is at a desk in the foreground, bent over the papers on his desk. He is professionally bland, easy in manner. Behind him is a door with a big sign that says Option A.
There is a knocking at a door at stage left. Caseman rises from his desk and makes a shushing gesture to the door with the lettering on it. Goes to the stage left door and opens it as Abel -all by himself comes through still knocking at the now open door.)

CASEMAN: Welcome to the League of Options. My name is George Caseman.

ABEL: And I am Abel Cain, here to earn a chance to achieve greatness.

CASEMAN: We've been expecting you. The Options are ready (Makes a gesture toward the door with the lettering on it) I see you have the Voucher. (Takes it from his hand) I get paid on the basis of these Vouchers. Now to the business at hand. Let's go to the first Option. (Leads him to the door with the lettering on it)
ABEL: What happens now?

CASEMAN: (Falls into a studied "professional" demeanor)You will learn how to accept and to be accepted. This is a reciprocal learning process which be be taken step by step aided by the theoretical understanding of the roles required along with the experience that provides an underlying reality level. As the case manager I will be here to help you through the exchanges you will have with the successive options you will encounter. You can be sure that the options all will bring you the effective help that they can provide from their extensive professional academic study as well as the varied field experience they all have had. You understand?

ABEL: I'm not sure…can you explain a little more.

CASEMAN: (with a visible effort) I'll try. (He proceeds to repeat word for word what he said before…after which he says) Now do you understand?

ABEL: (Desperate) Yes, I think so.

CASEMAN: If you're not sure, I can try to explain still further,

ABEL: (Vigorously shakes his head up and down) I do understand.

CASEMAN: Fine. I'm sure that after the first steps it will all be much clearer to you. After all it is a learning situation for all of us. Ready?

ABEL: (Eagerly) Yes, oh yes. I'm ready.

CASEMAN: We're going to try the first of your options on the road to earning greatness. If you're accepted, you'll find that the path to greatness will open to you. (Leads him to the door with the lettering) Knock at the door…give it a real rat-a-tat knock.

ABEL: Like this? (Knocks hard)

OPTION A: (From behind the door comes a honeyed voice) Who's there?

CASEMAN: It's me Caseman and Abel Cain.

OPTION A: (It is of course the same actress who plays Eulalia) Ooooh! He's really here! And he looks so goooo-d. (Chucks Abel under the chin) And how is ooooo ittle Abel-Dabel? And why have you come here?

ABEL: To earn a chance for greatness.

CASEMAN: You see, he is ready for the next step.

OPTION A: I'm not sure. I first have to make a careful study of the matter.

CASEMAN: I don't see why. After all, he's come to us with the Voucher. And he is clear in his ambition. Aren't you?

ABEL: (Vigorously) Yes.

OPTION A: Before we go any further, I have to make a careful study of an important aspect of this applicant's potential. (To Abel) Let me see your right hand. (Lifts it up and then drops it. Then looks at it very closely. And then puts it down)

CASEMAN: Now let's get on with it. I'll get the papers…as you know they have to be notarized.

OPTION A: No, don't bother. I won't sign them.

CASEMAN: But you have to. It's required.

OPTION A: You don't understand. I can't accept him.

CASEMAN: But he's got all the requirements. Intelligent. Good looking. Ambitious.

OPTION A: Yes, all that's true…but he has a very serious defect.

CASEMAN: Is it something you saw in his hand?

OPTION A: Yes, but the ethical rules prevent me from telling you what it was.

CASEMAN: I can waive the rules in this case. You have to tell what it was.

OPTION A: (Very reluctantly) Very well, if you insist. (Portentously) This candidate, Abel Cain, is going to die.

ABEL: (Frightened) Going to die?

CASEMAN: Are you sure?

OPTION A: I'm really sorry…but I am sure.

CASEMAN: When? Tell us when!

OPTION A: That isn't the point. I can tell that he will die. What difference does it make if it is tomorrow…or fifty years later. I can't accept someone who is going to die. Someone whose ways I would learn. Someone who would be as close to me as my own breath…and then have him die. No, I can't accept him. That's final. (goes through door and slams it behind her)

ABEL: She rejected me!

CASEMAN: You mustn't be discouraged. It wasn't as if it was arbitrary. That's why I'm here to help you understand what is happening. And we'll go on to the next option. Are you ready?

ABEL: (Hesitant) Yes, I think I am.

CASEMAN: Fine, We'll go on to Option B. (Caseman goes to the door and flips the label so that it says B) Please knock.

ABEL: Allright (Knocks)

OPTION B (From behind closed door comes a vigorous and resonant shout) Stop that banging like a cop. Who's there?

CASEMAN: It's me, Caseman, and I've brought Abel, the prodigy.:

OPTION B: (Comes from behind the door-as before it is the same actress as Eulalia-shakes Abel's hand with a very strong grip-so hard that Abel winces) Howarya!

ABEL: {Rubbing hand) Fine. Fine thanks.

OPTION B: Do you keep in shape? Let's see your tongue. Say Aaaaah (Looks into his open mouth.) Have a bowel movement every day? Are the stools a good medium brown color. Attaboy. (Hits him on back and Abel falls into a coughing fit as a result. ) Ummm. Do you have a lot of trouble with coughing fits. I've got to get a good look at your gums-pull your lips apart. (Stares at the gums) Look kind of swollen. Got to make sure you aren't spavined…pull up your pants leg. (Stares at the revealed ankle) Got the heaves? (She hits him on the back and he falls into a fit of coughing. She turns to Caseman) Doesn't sound good to me.

CASEMAN: He's in fine health. Time to get the notary and sign the papers.

OPTION B: Not yet. (To Abel) How much dya weigh, son?

ABEL: About a hundred and seventy pounds, fully clothed.

OPTION B: Too bad.

CASEMAN:What's the matter?

OPTION B; He weighs too much.

CASEMAN: He isn't fat.

OPTION B: Exactly. If he weighs a hundred and seventy pounds now, just think what he's weigh when he's fully grown. Why he might scale up to three or four times that much. It would be like having a horse on my hands. And you know very well that there isn't that kind of room back there (pointing to the doorway) I'd be black and blue all the time from bumping into him. No. No. It just wouldn't work. (Runs through door and slams door behind her)

ABEL: I don't understand!

CASEMAN: I know it's hard to take a rejection like that right now. But in a little while you'll see that it's all for the best. If she'd accepted you, every time you took a bite of food it would have been a strain for both of you…her anxiety and your dread. Every pound you gained would have added to a deadly burden. No, it's all for the best. Believe me. My trained understanding tells me that.

ABEL: But everything keeps going wrong.

CASEMAN: I know how it looks to you. But you'll see that the next one will be better. Just keep trying. On to Option C. (He flips the card on the door) C'mom. Knock.

ABEL: Here goes (knocks)

OPTION C: (From behind closed door) Is that Abel at my door?

ABEL: (To the closed door) Yes. Have you heard of me?

OPTION B: (As she appears through doorway, she puts on a scarf, babushka style) Have I heard of you? Yes, indeed. And it's a thrill to meet you. I'm a fan, Abel. May I call you that? Mr. Cain, or Master Cain sounds so formal and distant. And we don't want any distance between us, do we? (She has been sldling closer and closer to him and he has been involuntarily shying away) Here put this on (She hands him a scarf like the one she is wearing)

ABEL: Like this? (He dons the scarf in the babushka style, as well)

OPTION C: Great! Isn't he a heart breaker! Caseman it was naughty of you not to tell me.

CASEMAN: Professional ethics. And now, let's get the papers signed.

OPTION C: Not so fast. You know I have to get the full picture.

CASEMAN: I can fill you in on all the details afterward'

OPTION C: Surely you know what I mean. The picture, I have to get the picture first (Disappears behind doorway for a moment, reappears with a large hand mirror) Careful study is required. (First examines her own image in mirror and then Abel's)

CASEMAN: A good resemblance!

OPTION C: I'm not at all sure. I concede that the forehead is alright, but the eyebrows are too full, and then as we go down to the nose the difficulties become greater, and so does the nose. The mouth is really much too wide, and the jaw-look at the line from the tip straight to the back of the neck. You can't tell me that is the way it's supposed to be! A heavy jawline like that.If it weren't for the scarf anybody could see at firs glance that there isn't the faintest resemblance between his image and the prototype. (Snatches scarf from Abel's head) Tim you learned , you can't trick me (Runs back through doorway, and slas door behind her)

CASEMAN: You have to remember, Abel, that this a learning experience and that means that these setbacks are bound to happen.

ABEL: But it only gets worse.

CASEMAN: You're not looking at it as a learning experience. Let's go on to Option D. I know you're expected.

ABEL: Alright. (Knocks)

OPTION D: (From behind closed door) I'm in the tub.


ABEL: But she's in the tub.

CASEMAN: That's perfect. (Pushes Abel through door, then peeks through the slight open space that remains) I think she's interested! She's showing him what's required. He's trying to follow instruction. Don't be too hasty. Gently. That's it. Slow and steady. You have to maintain a good grip. Not so fast, Abel.
Oooh, you're spoiling it all. Watch out-what a fool. Here he comes! (Abel comes rushing headlong out the door with an enema bag and the tube wound around his neck)

ABEL: (Flat on the floor) How did I go wrong?

CASEMAN: Too fast, the cardinal mistake. Get up, the next one is going to be the one.

ABEL: (Disconsolate) How do you know that?

CASEMAN: It's the last one! Knock, Abel.

ABEL: Here goes. (Knocks. They wait. There is no answer)

CASEMAN: Can't understand it. I'll try the door.

(Caseman pulls door open and reveals Malachi standing in doorway with the Messenger cap on his head)

CASEMAN: What's this! What have you done with Option C?

MALACHI: I'm here on a special mission, so she let me use her place, since she had to go somewhere anyway.

ABEL: So good to see you Malachi!

CASEMAN: You know him?

ABEL: Of course. It's Malachi, my stepfather. You look happy, Malachi.

MALACHI: I am happy. I'm back to delivering messages, but they are special ones…and I feel pride in delivering them.

ABEL: Congratulations!

MALACHI: And congratulations to you, Abel. This comes directly from the Chamber of Degrees. (Hands Abel the Scroll) It's a Subpoena.

CASEMAN: (Takes the Scroll from Abel's hands, and reads it) This is a great honor, Abel.

ABEL: How is a subpoena a great honor?

MALACHI: It came directly from the Chief Judge himself. He said that he has had you in mind for a long time.

ABEL: The Chamber of Degrees? What is it?

CASEMAN: It's the place of swift, certain, unambiguous answers to all questions.

MALACHI: Not only that. The Chief Judge told me that he wants to make you part of the Chamber.

ABEL: As a chair or a desk?

MALACHI; (Laughing) No, something much more interesting. Something that would lead to greatness.

CASEMAN: See that! You should never give up hope!

ABEL: Where is the Chamber of Degrees, and how will I get there?

MALACHI: Don't worry about that, they'll find you and take you there.

ABEL: But what if they don't find me.

MALACHI: Well, there is a punishment for not showing up. But if they don't find you they can't punish you. Anyway just make sure you hang on to the Subpoena and everything will turn out fine.

ABEL: (To Caseman) Isn't there another Option I can try instead?

CASEMAN; Sorry, there are no other Options, but the Chamber of Degrees will give you a better chance for greatness. I am sure of it.

ABEL: I hope you're right. (Takes back the scroll from Caseman )

MALACHI: Good luck! And don't lose the Subpoena.

ABEL: Thanks Malachi. Thanks Caseman. On to the Chamber of Degrees! (Flourishes the Scroll)


Scene 4 - Chamber of Degrees








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