Excerpt from Goddess of Cancer and Other Plays by Gabriel Constans.
Goddess of Cancer – Scene 4
GODDESS: Multi-cultural woman of no particular age. Face painted a variety of flesh tones. Hair a mixture of blond, brown, red, black and gray. Long rainbow-colored robe. Changes persona frequently.
VICKI: Asian-American woman in her twenties. Casual dress. Animated. Angry. Anxious. Scared.
WENDY: European-American woman in her thirties. Conservative dress. Quiet. Shy. Fearful.
JENNIFER: African-American woman in her forties. Business suit (beeper). Intellectual. In control. Avoids emotion.
LENNIE: Mexican-American woman in her fifties. Flowing skirt, flowery blouse. Insightful. Compassionate.
BARBARA: Arab-American woman in her sixties. Gray skirt and sweater (wearing a cross). Strong. Survivor. Dogmatic. Angry. Tired.
CHANTALL: Jewish-American woman in her seventies. Slacks and blouse (gray wig, in wheelchair). Humerous. Matter of fact. Sarcastic. Worried.
Living room. White couch center stage facing audience. White chair next to couch, stage left and black coffee table in front of couch. Large green plant on floor between couch and chair. Flowers in a vase on table. White door stage left. Three large pictures with red frames on wall behind couch. One picture is of the Grim Reaper, one is of an angel and the other an hourglass. Black bar facing audience stage right, with potted plant on its corner. A light switch is on the wall by the bar. Closed cupboard behind bar is full of cigarettes.
A slide-projector (with a color slide of each actor’s face shown at beginning of each scene) is placed on one end of the bar for the Goddess to operate or in front of the stage and controlled by a stage member.
Time: Afternoon or early evening. Present.
(Picture of Lennie appears on screen.)
GODDESS: Lennie. Fifty-six. Poet. Divorced. Children and grandchildren. Terminal lung cancer.
(Goddess turns project off and lights on. There is a knock at the door.)
GODDESS: Come on in Lennie. It’s open.
LENNIE: Hey, how you doing Goddess?
(Goddess walks up and gives Lennie a hug. They both stand back holding one another at arms length.)
GODDESS: Can’t complain . . . life, death, fear, hope . . . living on the edge like usual. You’re looking quite beautiful, even sexy I might add, considering your condition and all.
LENNIE: You’re so sweet. I try. People look up to me, you know. I can’t let them down.
(Goddess walks with her arm around Lennie to couch.)
GODDESS: Let me get you some Ginseng tea. It’s supposed to help your immune system stop me from spreading.
(Goddess walks over to the bar and brings back a cup of tea, hands it to Lennie and sits down next to her.)
GODDESS (continued): People look up to you? Why?
LENNIE: I don’t know. I guess I’m a good listener and they know I really care. I try to love people for who they are and show compassion for all living things.
(Lennie looks at flowers and plants.)
LENNIE: (continued) What beautiful flowers!
GODDESS: Thanks. I love being surrounded by life. (Pause.) When you said you love people, did you mean your family and friends?
GODDESS: Do you feel the same towards strangers?
LENNIE: I guess so. Yesterday, I was waiting for the bus when a lady said I had ‘kind eyes’ and started telling me all about her family and how it was falling apart.
GODDESS: Could you love anybody then, even me?
LENNIE: (Surprised. She takes Goddess’s hand.) Of course! It’s not your fault you act the way you do. It’s your nature. I know it’s nothing personal. You’re a biological abnormality that can’t sit still. Blaming you would be like yelling at the sun to not rise. It’s your karma.
GODDESS: And it’s your karma to die?
LENNIE: Of course. I deserve it.
GODDESS: You deserve it?! I thought everyone loved you.
LENNIE: They do, but . . . something happened once . . . I’ve never told my kids. I’m sure it’s why you came.
(Lennie sadly turns away from Goddess)
GODDESS: Tell me. Please.
LENNIE: I can’t. It’s disgusting. I’ll take it to my grave before I tell anyone.
GODDESS: (Laughs) Hey . . . that’s not a problem. I’m going with you, remember?!
LENNIE: (Looks around and sighs deeply.) Oh yeah. Well . . . how do I start? (Pause.) My father died suddenly from a heart attack when I was thirty. I hadn’t seen him for twelve years. The day I turned eighteen I left home and never turned back. He was a real Jekyl and Hyde. People in town thought he was a saint or something, but when he got home from work and started drinking . . . If my brother or I tried to stop him from hitting Mama he’d slam us against the wall and call us foul names, especially my brother. I don’t see how he survived. He ran away when he was seventeen. (Pause) We’ve never talked about it.
GODDESS: You’ve never told anyone?
LENNIE: No. We were taught to keep things in the family and he swore he’d kill us if we didn’t. But that’s not the worst.
GODDESS: What could be worse?
LENNIE: What I . . . I did . . . in front of his family.
LENNIE: I didn’t know I was going to do it. (Pause) You sure you want to hear this?
GODDESS: I’m dying to hear!
LENNIE: Well . . . everyone gathered at the graveside for my Dad’s funeral, with the family up front, you know how it is. (Goddess nods with understanding.) I was standing between my mother and brother, with my grandparents next to them. The priest was praying and everyone had their heads bowed. Suddenly, I felt a burning in my belly. It worked its way up my gut, got stuck in my throat, then spewed out of my mouth in a guttural scream, ‘I hate you! You bastard. I hate you! You’re a filthy Jack ass! Thank God you’re dead!’ (Pause) Then I leaned forward and spit on his grave. (Pause)
GODDESS: That’s it?! You think that is why I came?! (Goddess starts laughing.) Lennie Lennie Lennie. Listen. I had no idea. I didn’t know anything about it. How could I be your karma?
LENNIE: I just figured . . .
GODDESS:You just figured that since you’re so sweet, compassionate and understanding that you weren’t capable of such hatred. It doesn’t fit your self-image, does it?
LENNIE: No. I spit on his grave . . . in front of the priest . . . his parents!
GODDESS: Honey, that’s nothing. Sounds like you could have killed him yourself and it would have been justifiable homicide! He put you and your family through a living hell and believe me, that’s far worse than dying.
LENNIE: But he was my father!
GODDESS: I don’t care if he was the Pope. Nobody has the right to treat another human being like that, let alone his own daughter.(Pause) How about practicing some of that love and compassion on yourself, or don’t you think you’re worthy?
LENNIE: (Crying) I guess so, but . . .
GODDESS: Shhhhh. No buts about it. You are creative, beautiful, a talented poet, caring mother and extraordinary human being. The feelings towards your father are just as real and valid as your compassion.
LENNIE: OK OK. It’s useless to argue with someone who is killing me.
GODDESS: There you go. Now get out of here. You don’t have much time.
(Whispering to herself.) Damn. Now they’ve got me saying that time thing!
(Goddess turns back to Lennie and gives her a hug.)
LENNIE: Thanks. I hope I don’t see you for awhile.
(Lennie waves as she closes the door.)
GODDESS: (Crosses her arms and shakes her head side to side.) Sometimes this job stinks. But hey . . . it’s my karma.
(Goddess turns off lights and starts singing to way to the projector the tune of “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely” from My Fair Lady.)
GODDESS: All I want is a body somewhere, far away from the mammogram’s stare, with one lump here and one lump there, oh wouldn’t it be lovely. Lots of cells for me to eat, lots of tissue for me to meet. Warm hands, warm face, warm feet, oh wouldn’t it be lovely.
(Goddess turns off projector with picture of Lennie.)
Goddess of Cancer Continued – Tomorrow Scene 5