(As the stage lights come up The Qualifying Board presents a busy picture. Mr Dark and Mr. Light are seated at desks on which are placed ice water pitchers and double pen desk sets. They are at opposite ends of the stage area, and between them exactly at the center is the Examiner, a woman she is the androgynous career woman, severely dressed in a tailored suit and of course, horn rimmed glasses.)
(The speeches of the three members of the Qualifying Board are simultaneous they are talking very fast and we can't really follow what they are saying)
MR. DARK: (into his cell phone) but Chief but Chief you can't expect me to send the quota if they don't qualify(Pause) I know you don't have the minimum number (Pause) oh that's no trick! Anybody can lower standards (Pause} But look don't remember that I had to talk an oath to uphold standards. All right Send him. I don't care. (Slams down phone)
EXAMINER: (Speaking into recorder) Applicant was then asked to supply resume of academic career, but upon checking the whole career was seen to be fictitious, and the documents all forgeries. This along with other untruths should have evoked an Unqualified Rejection, but after consultation it seemed to be so bold an effort that it was deemed mitigating
MR LIGHT: (into phone) ..yes, in April there were 5,624 applicants did you get that? Very good. That means that in the first four months we had a net decrease of fifty applicants compared to the year before. And of the total number applicants there was an increase of ten percent in Unqualified Rejections. That's very serious
(All three simultaneously stop speaking when they note the arrival of Eulalia, Abel and Malachi)
EXAMINER: (Standing up to greet them) How do you do. I am the Examiner for the Qualifying Board and these two men are the executives in charge. Mr. Light (turns to her right and points to him. Mr. Light stands and bows) and Mr. Dark on my left (points to him and Mr. Dark also stands and bows)On behalf of the Board I welcome you and wish you a successful appearance. Do you have your Certificate?
EULALIA: Here you are. (Hands over Scroll)
EXAMINER: (Unrolls scroll and scrutinizes) Oh, it's Abel Cain! (Nods to both Mr. Dark and Mr. Light)
EULALIA He's here to Qualify for Greatness.
EXAMINER: Of course. Now to businees. I'd like to explain the procedure.
EULALIA: We know about them. We've talked to people.
EULALIA: What a relief! Then we don't have to fear a dreadful punishment for an unqualified rejection.
EXAMINER: Oh, I should have said MOSTLY lies. The penalty for an Unqualified Rejection is I'm sorry to say rather severe.
MALACHI: What is the penalty?
EXAMINER: A fate worse than death.
MALACHI: (Puzzled) But..but.. that's what is supposed to happen to young girls
EXAMINER: (Laughing) No no I should have used more precise language. The truth is that an Unqualified Rejection means that you are made absent. As if you had never been. You become non-entities.
MALACHI: Oh, that is indeed a fate worse than death. And it's unfair. All any of us really have is our existence. And in my case, without ever having had a secret of my own I don't even have that. It's a cruel and unusual punishment. It's unconstitutional. And I bet it's illegal.
I can see why you feel that way. But you should understand that we don't
mean to be cruel. It's just that we have to provide a really severe
penalty or we would be overwhelmed by a flood of applicants. That limits
the ones who do come here to those who really want to achieve greatness.
And despite that we have more applicants than we can handle.
EXAMINER: We're not sure. We have the impression that they complain, but since they don't exist it's hard to tell if they have feelings or if they're just sore losers.
MALACHI: (To Abel) You'll have to protect our very existence.
ABEL: You can count on me, have no fear.
EULALIA: That's the spirit!
EXAMINER: Now about the procedures. They're scientific. Can you guess why?
EULALIA: To get to the truth?
EXAMINER: (Condescendingly) No.No.No.Because they were designed by scientists. By the way, you'll find that we are always explaining things here. Again, can you guess why?
EULALIA: Because that's part of being scientific.
Again, no. It's because we have found that if we provide explanations
we get fewer complaints. And that's important to us. Can you understand
No, no, no. It's because we don't like to hear complaints. So you see,
it's not the way the non-entities have so often claimed
can't define our standards. Our requirements are perfectly clear. We
ask only for perfection. Nothing less, and nothing more. Is that clear?
Then we are ready for the presentation. Go ahead and address your application
to Mr. Light.
EXAMINER: I must warn you, we don't allow efforts to persuade you must present evidence, compelling evidence.
EULALIA; I'd like to tell about the time when Abel--
EXAMINER: First the concept-THEN the instances. Right Mr. Light?
MR. LIGHT: Yes and the concept must have something to do with pure greatness.
EULALIA: Would that be the greatness that comes from the greatest purity?
MR. LIGHT: It might.
EXAMINER; (To Mr. Light) You know you're not supposed to give any hints.
MR. LIGHT: You're right. Sorry,
EULALIA; (In a reverie) Purity is the immaculate center of his life. No mother has ever had a purer validation of an offspring's purity.
EXAMINER: She is using persuasion.
MR. LIGHT: Yes, I see that. (To Eulalia) We must have evidence.
EULALIA: Evidence! Only look at him.The evidence is right there in his face. It shows the radiance of unbounded talent. With his endowment he should have been by now at the very apex of greatness..but because the purity of his motives wouldn't allow him to be sufficiently self seeking, he didn't make the ultimate effort THAT is a level of purity that should be regarded as the ultimate level of greatness.
MR. LIGHT: It does sound good.
EXAMINER: It only sounds good. (Picking up a sheaf of notes and reading) according to this preliminary file Abel has striven-and failed-to become in turn the finest poet of his time, the greatest mathematician, the most successful salesman (voice drops off) and the list goes on and on. I don't think I need to point out that the evidence presented has no merit. He was not the purity driven person that is claimed.
MALACHI: I knew it we're going to be made absent.
EULALIA: Oh, be quiet. (To Mr. Light) Here is proof of purity. From his birth onward, Abel has been devoted to purity. He was unwilling to soil the world! (Speaking with frenzy) It puzzled me and dumbfounded the doctors.Abel didn't want to pollute the world and if you want proof, nobody in our household ever had to wash one of his diapers.
(Laughing hard) Oh what desperation can do to people. (Opens folder
and reads ) This report indicates that a certain truck reading Diaper
Service on it sides would drive up to the Cain household every other
morning for some months thirty years ago. So much for wordplay.
(EULALIA, MALACHI AND ABEL are in visible despair and look pleadingly at the EXAMINER)
EXAMINER: You have one more chance. Address the application to MR. DARK
EULALIA (Speaking to Mr. Dark her manner becomes fierce and solemn she is going to speak of "dark matters") What I have to relate is beyond any measuring scale. In the darkness of the work there is nothing dark as Abel's dark greatness.
MR. DARK: As a beginning it's a little too dim, madam
EULALIA: (Sardonically) Shall I bring in some light, Mr. Dark.
MR. DARK: (Tolerant of the wisecrack) No, just be a little less dim, and more specific.
EULALIA: Oh, very well,. Abel has specifically human traits, but to special degree. To such a degree that in his passion he rises beyond the human level, Abel must be described as possessed of a passion that is super humanly human.
I think all of our best candidates have been like that. But the passion
you speak of
what specifically is it.
Anyone looking superficially at Abel will not see anything remarkable.
He sits there very much like an ordinary person. But within him there
rages an appetite so great that were there any way to cut it up into
chewable pieces he would devour the world. Failing that, I can only
submit from a distant but insistent memory
that his father
Cain, my late first husband used to say to me that he was sure that
Abel would try to find a way to first devour him-his father-and then
go on to try to devour the whole
(struggling to take hold of herself)
And I believe that is why my late husband left us
and the world.
As you say
if true. She is shamelessly playing to your natural
inclinations. But regrettably, it is a fraud. Let me ask her second
husband, Malachi, if he remembers delivering that suicide not from her
first husband ten years ago.
MALACHI: Yes, of course, every word. (Again he puts on the uniform cap and the stage lights go dim except for the spotlight on his face) It said: "My dearest, it is hard to say goodbye after so many years, but lately I've come to feel that you do not care for me as you once did. That you prefer our son, Abel, to me. Since I cannot bear the thought of standing between the two of you in your devotion to each other, I have decided to leave forever. You will find this letter along with my clothes at the riverbank if you need them for my successor. Don't mourn for me. Farewell forever, Herman.
EXAMINER: So you see, Mr. Dark, the document says nothing about devouring him or the world. Your hopes were unwarranted.
MR. DARK: Yes, too bad. (To Eulalia) A shame that Herman didn't provide the evidence for what you claimed since he was going to commit suicide anyway, he could have put in something to support your memory of what he feared. Alas, it's typical, so few men tese days are willing to give their sons the support they need. But, in fairness, he had no way of then knowing that you would need such evidence. Reluctantly, I have to assert that the application is rejected.
MALACHI: I knew it. I knew it. We're going to get an Unqualified Rejection. We'll be made absent.
EULALIA: (To Examiner) Please don't reject us. We did the best we could and we don't deserve to be made into non-entities. Is there no other option?
(For the first time relenting from the severity of her manner) It's
remarkable that you should ask that. (Takes from her desk the scroll
and holds it out to Eulalia) This is your Voucher with which you will
go to the League of Options.
EXAMINER: (Now openly smiling) No, yours is not exactly an Unqualfied Rejection. We have designated yours as a Qualified Rejection, and therefore the Board can offer you another chance to achieve greatness-at the League of Options.
MALACHI: We're saved! We're saved! There is mercy after all.
EXAMINER: Actually, it's not mercy. Your efforts were so sincere that we feel you're entitled to one more chance to earn greatness.
EULALIA: I would like to know a little more about the League of Options. Can Abel earn real greatness there? Is it at the same level as you offer at the Qualifying Board?
EXAMINER: Not quite the same. But it is a very good kind of greatness. You may be sure that the Board would never send Abel there if we had no respect for the League of Options.
EULALIA: I still have misgivings. Options, options sounds so vague.
Nothing to fear. I myself have never had the chance to go there, but
some of the staff have visited and brought back very good reports. And
we get good feedback from previous applicants as to the the way the
doors open to them there. However, if you are still reluctant, we can
revoke the Voucher
and of course can issue an Unqualified Rejection,
if that is your choice.
EULALIA: We accept. (Puts out her hand for the Scroll and holds it up high)
ABEL: Now that we've risked our very existence, and come through safely, I know that I will be great someday, somehow, somewhere.
EXAMINER: The Board extends it best wishes for your success.
MR. DARK AND MR. LIGHT: Yes, our very best wishes.
MALACHI: And we thank you for this chance to earn greatness, don't we Eulalia (Nudging her to agree)
EULALIA: As long as it's a chance for real greatness.
THE BOARD: It is, it is.
EXAMINER: One final word. Abel has to go to the League of Options all by himself-that's the rule there. He can't come with any family baggage. It's important that you follow that rule.
ABEL: (To Eulalia) It's time I stepped forward to my destiny. I won't let you down.
EULALIA: I know you will fulfill our hopes. (She hands the Scroll to Abel)
EULALIA MALACHI AND ABEL: On to the League of Options.
(Abel holds the scroll aloft. The march offstage together.