|A screen for a slide show sits at the front
of the church. A podium and a chair sit center stage. A plain wooden cross
Sarah, a twenty-eight year old woman, sits in a swivel chair eating carrots, next to a screen. She is mid-bite and in mid-presentation of her slide show. Shy, she hides behind her food.
SARAH: We just received a tape recording from a missionary in China telling us of some unusual practices. I mean, abortion is one thing. No, I donít mean that. (Quickly) Abortion is a horrible, murderous thing.
(She chews a carrot quickly.)
But the Chinese do other things. Such as, such asÖ
(Sarah stops herself. She canít say it. Blade, a man in his early twenties, stands in the audience. He is dressed in a suit and tie.)
BLADE: Spit it out.
SARAH: I have some pictures here I think you should see.
BLADE: Eating fetuses. Thatís what they do. When they abort the babies, and they abort so many thousands of children everyday, thereís no room left in those over-filled dumpsters for all that rotting human flesh, so they take itÖ they take it and theyó
SARAH: This missionary in China says itís true. There really is no room left in those dumpsters for all those babies. And, and worst of all, on a hot summer day, well, it isnít the Garden of Eden.
(Sarah laughs an uncomfortable laugh. Lights down on Sarah. Maggie, a woman missionary in her mid-twenties sits to the side in a separate space. Itís a hall in China. A light comes up on her. There may be the shadow of a Chinese dragon behind her head. She holds a microphone as she records into a tape recorder. Sheís eating red licorice feverishly.)
MAGGIE: Their babies rot. And smell. And the people have no consciences. Iím looking at a filled up dumpster right now and Iím crying.
(Lights down on Maggie, up on Sarah. Sarah holds a slide counter.)
SARAH: These are slides of where children are at in different stages of human development. For example, here we see the beginnings of tiny little hands andÖ
BLADE: I grew up on those bloody baby pictures. My Ma used to show me those at bedtime. Why donít you tell these people the truth? They heat up their stoves and their woks, and whip out their chopsticks after theyíve hacked their babies up with Ginsu knives. It takes three or four just to feed a family. They take those chopped up babies and marinate them in soy sauce and sugar.
(Lights up on Maggie.)
(Lights down on Maggie.)
(Lights up on Maggie.)
(Maggie blows Reverend Roy a kiss. Lights down on Maggie.)
(Sarah flips the slide projector off. A beat as the crowd disperses. Roy, a man in his late twenties who acts much older, approaches Sarah.)
ROY: You really lost it up there.
SARAH: Iím sorry, Reverend, itís just tható
ROY: I know itís gravely disturbing information. But you know those people in China have never known the Lord. They have no history of knowing him, and thatís what happens. Itís Sodom and Gonorrhea all over again.
SARAH: I believe thatís Gomorrah.
ROY: Whichever. God knows what I mean. (Roy gives God a wink.) Donít you, God?
SARAH: I have a problem.
ROY: I know youíre shy but youíll get over it.
SARAH: Iím not really shy. I am, but thatís not my problem.
ROY: No shame there. The Lord says, ďThe meek shall inherit the earth.Ē
SARAH: I feeló
ROY: Iím sure you do.
SARAH: I feel I could benefit from joining Toastmasters.
ROY: Is that a spiritual organization?
SARAH: No, public speaking. They get together and talk, butÖ but
ROY: Yes, but does it edify the Lord?
SARAH: I have a problem.
ROY: Thatís what you said. I heard you.
SARAH: (Blurting) My problem is that I doubt the veracity of the report.
ROY: In plain English?
SARAH: (Blurting) I think the report might not be true.
ROY: Now, that report came from a good sourceóan excellent sourceóone of our sister churchís missionaries whoís spent the last three weeks in China. In Peking. Inspectiní the practices of the hospital clinic cafeteria.
SARAH: (Backing down) Yes, I know, but I find the report difficultÖ to grasp.
ROY: Sarah, how dare you question it?
SARAH: Iíve neverÖ
SARAH: Questioned anything. Itís just when Maggie sent the tape.
ROY: Yes, Iím listeniní. Iím open-minded. Not so open-minded as Iíd let my brain fall out, but open-minded enough to hear when one of my flock is struggliní with a question of discernment, and is ready to step away from the shepherd, so he might need to call a dog on her.
SARAH: Iím concerned that when Maggie made the reportó
ROY: You speak as if you know her.
SARAH: Letís stick to the report.
SARAH: My concern is that Maggie has a problem with the truth.
ROY: And why do you assume this about someone who has so tirelessly done the Lordís work? That woman has been all over the world spreadiní the gospel.
SARAH: Is that what she told you? God bless her, but she lies sometimes, not always. (Quickly) Itís not that I donít believe sheís a righteous person in Godís eyes.
ROY: How do you know Maggie?
SARAH: I met her a long time ago.
ROY: Did you?
SARAH: Itís been quite awhile. She stole the last boyfriend I ever had. At high school Bible camp. (Under her breath) The floozy.
ROY: So, you wouldnít be surprised to learn that Maggie recommitted her life to the Lord two years ago?
SARAH: I didnít know that, sir.
ROY: And, in fact, has admitted that in the past she had some trouble telliní the truth.
SARAH: I see, so you know about her problem?
ROY: Sometimes even a compulsive liar has to be believed when she comes forth with vital information regarding our Lordís work here on this earth.
SARAH: Yes, I see, IÖ do you know Maggie, Reverend?
ROY: Yes, and I trust every word that spills from her pretty little lips.
SARAH: I see. Her pretty little lips.
ROY: Yes, I, before I married Regina, I had a small time that I spent with Maggie, and her family. It was all above board and I grew to respect her.
SARAH: But Reverend youíve been married to Regina foróhow manyófive years, and it was just two years ago that Maggie recommitted her life to the Lord? Thatís what you said.
ROY: A holiday meal, a little conversation last year, that was all we shared.
SARAH: (Holding back) A holiday meal. Last year. Sounds wonderful.
ROY: Thank God for turkey thatís what I always say.
SARAH: (Beat) I donít always eat, sir. (Silence) I do not always have food.
ROY: Sarah. That canít be true. Surely, the ladies of the cooking ministryÖ
SARAH: The cooking ministry brings food to old people, to families, and the sick. Not the young and single like me. Last April they begrudged me a can of chicken soup for Easter dinner.
ROY: I shall talk to them.
SARAH: Iíve told them that because of my ministry to the people of First Wild Baptist Churchóseventy hours a weekóI am unable to hold a full-time job. But the ladies feel I should provide for myself.
ROY: Well, the ladies are confused, and I shall talk to them.
SARAH: You and your church have no obligation to me.
ROY: Weíre a church family, Sarah.
SARAH: Well, Iím considering putting myself up for adoption.
ROY: Now, Sarah. Where would the sheep be without the gentle proddiní of the shepherdís staff?
(Roy puts his arm around Sarah. His hand drops to her breast.)
(Sarah triumphantly walks past a stunned Roy.)