Aphelion Issue 281, Volume 27
March 2023
 
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The Abduction

by E.A. Moore




A Short Play in Eight Scenes



SETTING

Minimal unit set. Two stools some distance apart, a coat tree with costume change items hanging from its hooks, a tall step ladder, a section of a kitchen counter with cabinets or shelves beneath, a large doll house with a low stool (milking stool height) next to it. The arrangement of these set pieces is up to the director and set designer, except for the following.

A guide wire is attached to the stage floor behind the dollhouse and stretches upward at an angle, its other end disappearing in the flies above the stage. Another "pull" wire follows the same path. The use of these wires is explained in later stage directions. It does not matter if the wires are visible to the audience.

CHARACTERS

Two actors, one male, one female, play four roles. In order of appearance, they are:

BELLE, perhaps a young girl, perhaps the daughter of

VIRGIL ADAMS, a mature man, husband of.

VERA ADAMS, a mature woman, mother of

NICK ADAMS, a teenage boy.


The actors enter in black or equivalent neutral attire. PERHAPS BELLE crosses to and climbs the stepladder. VIRGIL/NICK goes to one of the coat trees and puts on bib overalls, then crosses to sit on one of the stools and watch the following scene.

PROLOGUE:

PERHAPS BELLE: A spot fades up on PERHAPS BELLE atop the ladder; the rest of the stage dims. During the following, she puts on a kind of headband, her halo. This is a circle of clear plastic tubing containing chasing lights that go 'round and 'round, like a Christmas lighting effect.

PERHAPS BELLE: (Speaking directly to the audience) The year is 1957. A small town in Ohio called Canal Fulton. Perhaps my name is Belle, first name. My last name might then be Adams. A question for you to ponder. Do I actually exist? If Belle Adams did ever exist, then -- ? Well, here's another one. Did the event we are about to enact ever really happen? (pause, bemused) And another. Are all of you absolutely sure you've never seen an alien spacecraft? I mean, absolutely sure about that? Think about it.

She activates her halo. The spot on her fades. Now we see mainly the circling lights, maybe her dimly lit face. She exercises her neck, tilting her head this way and that, looks upward for a moment, then down at VIRGIL in the kitchen area.

SCENE 1:

VIRGIL Light up on VIRGIL in bib overalls. He stands at the kitchen counter putting things in his lunch bucket.

VIRGIL I've seen 'em. UFOs. (He pronounces it "youfoes") Oh yes. More than once. I'm Virgil Adams. (He looks up at the circling lights) They're up there, for sure. Damn right. I know it. But I never reported any of my sightings. I got more sense than that. Let the others be thought of as nuts. Chances are they never saw anything real anyway. (He fills his thermos from the coffee pot) I do wonder what they're up to, though. (Looks up at the circling lights again) What do they want? We may never know. Maybe nothin'. Maybe – (shakes his head) – maybe it don't matter. They're just there. Up there, watching. Who knows for what? It don't pay to worry about it. Me? I just believe. (The circling lights go out. He nods pensively, puts the thermos in and closes the lunch bucket) Y'got to believe in things, right? Otherwise – (snaps the latches on the lunch bucket lid) – otherwise life hurts more'n it needs to. Y'gotta have faith. Period. (Looks at his watch) Well, I got to get on to work. Early shift. I work at the Hoover Sweeper Company in Canton. Tool and die maker. (Turns and takes a few steps as if to exit the kitchen, pauses, turns back to audience) Y'know, it's a curious thing. The sound they make. Oh yes, I've heard 'em too, sometimes. (musingly) They sound almost like the Deluxe model Hoover Upright doing deep pile carpet. But off in the distance like, y'know?

Light fades in kitchen area as VIRGIL goes to the coat tree, hangs the lunch bucket on a hook. During the following he takes off the bib overalls and puts on a cardigan style "letter" sweater with a big "F" on a side pocket.

PERHAPS BELLE descends, leaving the halo at the top of the ladder. She goes to the coat tree, acknowledges NICK with a nod and smile, takes an apron from the coat tree and puts it on. NICK, now wearing his high school sweater, goes to one of the stools and sits.

SCENE 2:

VERA: VERA crosses to the kitchen area as the light comes up there. She busies herself tidying up things left out by VIRGIL when he packed his lunch.

VERA: He's crazy as a crabapple, of course. Dear Virgil. But he's a good man. A good provider. And I love him. (Glances toward NICK, dimly seen on the stool) We love him. (NICK nods) The dear man gets up every night of the week in the wee hours to go off to work. Maybe that's why he claims he sees things in the sky. Always out there in the dark every night. It's a pretty long drive over to Canton. Not many other cars on the road that time of night. Too much time to be looking up into the night sky – (she makes a sour face and shakes her head) – dreaming, thinking up nonsense. But he's a good man. I'm Vera Adams, by the way. Wife of that dear loony man. Well, who knows? Me, I've never seen anything like what he's described to me. I tell him to call the authorities, the police, the Air Force, someone. He won't do it. Which is probably just as well. They might lock him up – (glances at Nick again) – and then where would we be? (NICK shakes his head) No, better to just jolly him along – not upset him too much. I try not to worry. But I do. It's not just the lights in the sky, see. It's about the other thing he imagines. That's what worries me most. He just won't let that go. (Pause) Let her go. (Pauses, gazes off, up toward the top of the ladder) Belle. Heaven only knows she haunts me too. But with him it's – well, it's not good for him. How can something like that be good for anyone? No, I wish – well, never mind. (Turns away from ladder, energetically finishes wiping kitchen counter) Wishes don't get the chores done. Dear loony man.

Light dims on the kitchen area. VERA goes to a stool and sits.

SCENE 3:

NICK

Light up on NICK on a stool.

It's not easy being me. I'm Nick Adams. The nut's long suffering son. I keep telling mom we need to do something about it. About all Pop's craziness. This thing about Belle, for instance. It's messing up my life. I love the nut, but he's messing up my life. (Moves down, closer to the audience) See, I'm just an ordinary kid in high school. I'm nothing special. I like sports – play on the Fulton basketball and football teams. So I don't get good grades all the time. So what? I get by. I don't need him always telling me and everyone else how Belle's the smart one. It's not fair. Just not fair! How can I be something – someone he – when she's not – when he – (Grimaces, groans angrily, paces) And him and his UFOs – (also pronounces it "youfoes.") That's getting to be even harder to take. It's gotten around. He must've talked about 'em to people in town – maybe at the hardware store or the filling station. So everyone at school knows. So I'm the butt of all their jokes about little green men. Does my dad invite 'em in to have dinner with us? Haw haw haw! Stupid craziness. (Crosses to the ladder, looks up at its top) Well, something has to be done about it. (shouts) ABOUT YOU! (Paces away, crosses to kitchen area as light comes up there) I don't know what, but somebody's got to do something. Or I'll go crazy too. I just want to be a normal kid. (to audience) Is that asking too much? I mean, geez – !!

VERA crosses to kitchen area as light comes up there.

SCENE 4: NICK AND VERA

NICK: (Turns to her, frustrated, pleading) I mean, geez, Mom!

VERA: I know, I know, honey. It bothers me too. But what can we do? What can anyone do?

NICK: It's just not fair.

VERA: No, it isn't. Not to anyone. Not even to – well, you know..

NICK: Aw Mom. Don't tell me you're -- ! Criminy, not you, too!

VERA: No, dear. It's not that. I mean, to her memory.

NICK: Why's everything got to be about HER?

VERA: Nicky, you have to understand. She was – she was everything to him – to both of us.

NICK: It's not fair. I don't care. What about me?

VERA: Honey, it'll work itself out. Somehow. Maybe --

NICK: Sometimes I could – I wish I could --

VERA: He's a good man, Nicky.

NICK: If she wasn't already – I swear I really could –

VERA: A good man –

NICK: And those Goddamn UFOs too!!

VERA: Nickolas! You watch your language!

NICK: Well, sorry, but it's all over school now! Everyone's making fun of me.

VERA: That's no reason to –

NICK: What can I do? It's so unfair!

VERA: Nicky – (reaches out to him; he jerks away) Oh, Nicky –

NICK: Something's got to give, Mom. (Abruptly, totally losing it) I could KILL her!!!

VERA: Oh, Nicky, don't say that!

NICK: I could! I would, if it was only possible!

VERA: Oh, Nicky, how can you even think that? Your own sister --

NICK: But she's not!! I can't!! She's not -- !! (Pounds on the kitchen counter, storms away)

VERA is shaken by the outburst. Lights dim on kitchen area. NICK goes to coat tree, takes off sweater, puts on bib overalls. VERA goes to ladder, rests a hand on a step, looks up toward the top, shakes her head helplessly.

Lighting effect – several pulsating flickers, perhaps heat lightning, perhaps something else, emanating from high above.

VERA snatches her hand away from the ladder, as if burned.

NICK/VIRGIL, half way through his costume change, looks up, reacting to the light pulses, which recur at random intervals as he and VERA change costumes.

VERA crosses to coat tree, takes off the apron and puts on a young girl's pinafore that matches the costume on the Raggedy Ann doll which will appear in the next scene.

She and NICK/VIRGIL exchange wondering looks in reaction to another light pulse.

SCENE 5: VIRGIL AND BELLE: VIRGIL takes his lunch bucket from the coat tree and crosses to the kitchen where he proceeds to fix his lunch for work again. BELLE goes to the doll house, perches on the low stool and reaches in to rearrange the miniature furniture.

During the following scene, VIRGIL and BELLE never look or speak directly at each other.

VIRGIL So – how's my sweetheart this morning?

BELLE: I'm good, Daddy.

VIRGIL That's good.

BELLE: How is my Daddy?

VIRGIL Good – I'm good, sweetie. Everything's --

Light flicker. VIRGIL flinches.

VIRGIL Everything's good. You're a good girl. Do you like the doll house I got for you?

BELLE: It's wonderful, Daddy.

VIRGIL That's good. You're my little –

Light flicker. VIRGIL flinches.

VIRGIL You're my little doll. Always will be.

BELLE: That's good, Daddy.

Light flicker. VIRGIL flinches. He bangs his lunch bucket on the counter.

VIRGIL Yes! Yes! It's good! I'm okay! Time to get off to work.

BELLE: Is it time to go, Daddy?

VIRGIL Yes. No, wait. Not yet.

BELLE: Time to go, Daddy.

Light flicker. VIRGIL whirls around, looking searchingly, but not in the direction of the doll house.

VIRGIL No, sweetie! Wait! What do they want?!

BELLE: Bye bye, Daddy.

Light flicker.

VIRGIL Wait! Not yet, Sweetheart!

BELLE: Bye bye, Daddy.

BELLE gets up, skips to the ladder, begins to climb it. The light pulses come more and more frequently during the following.

VIRGIL Not yet! Please. What do they want? Why are they doing this?

BELLE: Time to go.

VIRGIL If we knew that, it might – no, wait, not you, sweetheart!

BELLE: Bye bye, Daddy.

VIRGIL No-o-o-o-o!!

BELLE reaches the top of the ladder. She puts on her halo and activates it.

BELLE: Bye bye, Daddy.

VIRGIL What do they want? If I only knew that! Don't take my little sweetheart! Not her!!

The light pulses come faster and faster.

VIRGIL Not my dear little sweetheart! Please -- !!

SCENE 6: THE ABDUCTION

A throbbing-humming-whistling sound fades up (Deluxe Model Hoover Upright doing deep pile?). The light pulses cease and a very harsh bright beam of light flashes on from above, searches, then zeros in on the doll house. The light beam holds steady at the same angle as the two wires. The weird sound grows louder.

VIRGIL tries to look up into the light but is blinded by it.

VIRGIL (Bellowing) What do you want!! What do you want!!

The light beam switches to a strobe effect. A Raggedy Ann doll appears, slowly rising from behind the doll house. The "pull" wire is attached to its navel area so that the doll appears to be helplessly and relentlessly drawn upward in the flashing strobe light beam.

As the doll's slow ascent holds the audience's attention, BELLE descends from the ladder, goes to the coat tree and changes costumes. VIRGIL also crosses to the coat tree and puts on the letter sweater over the bib overalls.

The doll is drawn on out of view above. The strobe effect ceases, leaving only the steady harsh beam of light. A beat, then this winks out. Blackout as the weird sound fades.

EPILOGUE: NICK/VIRGIL AND VERA:

Light fades up on NICK/VIRGIL on one of the stools.

NICK/VIRGIL (As NICK) She's gone, Pop.

NICK/VIRGIL (As VIRGIL) What do they want with her?

Light fades up on VERA on the other stool.

VERA: Have they taken her away, Virgil?

NICK/VIRGIL (As VIRGIL) What do they want? Why?

NICK/VIRGIL (As NICK) She's just gone, Pop. That's all.

NICK/VIRGIL (As VIRGIL) But why? (Turns to VERA) Did you see? Did you see what happened?

VERA: I may have seen something. I don't know. I was asleep. There was a flickering light. Maybe it was heat lightning –

NICK/VIRGIL (As NICK) She's just gone, Pop. Can't you accept that?

NICK/VIRGIL (As VIRGIL) She'll be okay. She'll show them. She's the smart one.

VERA: Oh, Virgil –

NICK/VIRGIL (As NICK) What's the use!

Light shift – dimming on the stools, rising closer to the audience.

NICK/VIRGIL gets off the stool, moves down and speaks to the audience.

NICK/VIRGIL (As NICK) Did I see something? Maybe. Like mom said, there was this flickering light. A lot of heat lightning, but who knows? (Frowns, lost in thought for a moment) Well, one good thing -- maybe. Belle was gone. Dad must've thought – well, who knows what he thought? Or what he thinks now. (Pause. He paces, lost in thought) Who knows what to think about any of it. But at least he doesn't talk about it – her – them – anymore. (Pause) Did I see a UFO? (shrugs, then to audience) Did you? (Makes a quizzical face and gesture at audience, then turns away, pauses, turns back to audience) Well, one thing's for sure anyway. I never saw one after that. (To audience) And – well – if I had, would I be likely to be tellin' you about it?

Fade to black, except for BELLE'S halo hanging from the top of the ladder which lights up, its lights going 'round and 'round. After a moment these also wink out.


THE END


2015 E.A. Moore

Bio: Mr. Moore is a retired architectural designer.  He worked for many years as a facilities maintenance specialist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, a high energy physics laboratory at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He has written for radio and television, is a published and regularly produced award-winning playwright, and has had poetry and a number of stories published in literary journals and science fiction magazines. His most recent Aphelion appearance was I Car: A Conjecture in our August 2014 issue.

E-mail: E.A. Moore

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