The Harlan House A Play in One Act by Mack W. Mani Based on a Story by Mack W. Mani & Sam Macy
This work is in the public domain. You are free to read, download, distribute, and perform this piece for commercial and noncommercial purposes. The author requests that any performance, in whole or in part: 1. Make the authors aware of said performance via E-Mail (MWMani@gmail.com) 2. Credit the authors of the work on any and all promotional material or programs in the form of the credits: “by Mack W. Mani” as well as “Based on a story by Mack W. Mani & Sam Macy”
Characters: Darla Kane.....(34) A Woman Samuel Kane.....(37) Her Husband David Harlan.....(40) Her Brother Elizabeth Harlan.....(36) Her Sister-in-Law Benjamin Harlan.....(17) Her Nephew Father Franklin Thomas.....(53) A Priest
Setting: Rural Kansas 1933. The parlor room of the Harlan house, an aging family farm. The place has become worn and faded with years of use. The landscape is an arid, windy dustbowl. There is a dust storm brewing it picks up as the play continues.
Featured Songs: O, Death written by Unknown Goodnight, Irene written by Huddie Ledbetter The Battle Hymn of the Republic written by Julia Ward
Curtain. The interior of the house is a mess. As though it has been hastily cleaned up after it was torn apart. Steps are heard approaching the front door. There is a brief knock, the door opens, DARLA pokes her head in before entering, following behind her is her husband SAM, he stretches after their long car ride. Darla: Hello? David? Is there anybody home? Sam: (coughing) God, it's nice to be inside. Man's libel to get blown away. Darla: I'll hold onto you. Tell me what you think. Sam: It's...a bit worse for the wear, truth be told. Darla: They have kids, Sam. You know, those things loving couples make? (She strokes his cheek) Sam: Point taken, and dismissed. Darla: Don't be sarcastic. Sam: Two days driving a car'll make a cynic out of a saint. Darla: We're here for a reason, Sam. Sam: I know, I know...where is your brother anyway? Darla: Could be out in the barn, or the fields. Eliza's probably stalking around here somewhere, certainly isn't keeping the house. (She picks up a family photo) Ben and Sarah must be in school. Sam: That or getting into trouble somewhere. Darla: It does run in the family. Sam: Boy trouble? Darla: (remembering, she laughs) Well, I had my share of that, but let's not be too hasty, Sarah can't be more than ten. Sam: That's about when my girl trouble started. Darla: I'm sure you and Benny will have lots to talk about. Oh, look! The old phonograph! David and I used to sit around this thing for hours. David knew all the songs. I could never remember well enough. (DARLA begins flipping through the records) Well...What happened to all the records? They're all broken, look. Sam: Huh, what about the last played?
Darla: Oh, it's...Charlie Monroe. Mama used to play this every Sunday. DARLA starts the record player and lowers the needle. Charlie Monroe's version of O, Death begins to play. Darla: Never liked this first one too much, still, it has charm. Say, why don't we retire in a old place like this? BENJAMIN enters silently from the backyard, he's wary. . Sam: Because you love the city. Darla: You could learn to love the country... Sam: This place, is a ghost town. Darla: It's a farming community, Sam, when the crops failBEN stops the record with a scratch. Darla jumps. Darla: Oh, my. Ben: Can I help you folks? Darla: Yes, I beg your pardon. We're here to see David. David Harlan? He sizes them up for a moment. Ben: (To SAM) You ain't from the bank are ya? Sam: (Chuckles) I'm from a bank. Ben: Mama said, tell anybody from the bank, they ain't welcome here. Darla: I'm Darla, David's sister, and this is my husband, Samuel. Sam: It's a pleasure. SAM offers his hand, BEN just glares. Ben: (To DARLA) David's my Pa. Darla: You're Benjamin Harlan? I didn't even recognize you! How old are you now? Ben: 18...This Winter. Darla: The last time I saw you, you were just a little boy! Do you remember your Aunt Darla? Ben: A little, I think. I's pretty young.
Darla: (Reaching out to him) I see it now, you look just your father. BEN reacts coldly. Darla: What's wrong? Ben: Things, they ain't been right lately. Darla: We know, they're...they're taking the farm, aren't they? Ben: Here in a few weeks... Sam: (Cheery) Well, we'll see what we can do about that, (slaps him on the shoulder) we just might be able to help you folks out. Ben: The farm ain't all. Darla: What is it, baby? Ben: You mean...you don't know nothing about it? Darla: Has something happened to Davy? Ben: ...Maybe you'd better wait and talk to Mama. Darla: Is he...alright? Ben: (Reluctantly) He's...fighting. Darla: Can we see him? Ben: ...Why'd you say you come here again? Darla: We got a phone call, from Father Thomas, do you know who that is? Ben: Yes, ma'am, local minister. Darla: He called us, two days ago, said to get here as soon as we could. Some kind of trouble, we figured...Sam's a real estate banker back in Chicago, see? When we heard about trouble on the farm- ...You, didn't know we were coming, did you? Ben: No, ma'am. Darla: Why don't you go fetch your Ma for us, I'm sure she'll be ableA series of loud pounds come from behind the bedroom door, they end suddenly. Darla: What was that?
SAM steps towards the door. Ben: I wouldn't do that! -sir. Sam: Why not? Ben: I...ain't supposed to say. And it's locked besides. SAM tries the door, locked. Darla: What is going on here Benjamin Harlan? Ben: (shaking his head) Mama said... Darla: I don't care what your mother said, tell me what's locked up in that room! He looks down at his feet. He wants to speak, but something is stopping him. Ben: Well...see...I'm not supposed to talk about it. SAM approaches, puts a hand on Ben's shoulder. Sam: Now look! You're going to tell me just what's going on here. Starting, with what is in that room! Ben: (Reluctantly) My pa. Darla: What? The bedroom door unlocks and opens to reveal ELIZABETH, key in hand. Eliza: That...is my son you've laid your hands on. ELIZA shuts the door behind her, locks it. Ben: It's alright, Mama, I justEliza: Is that firewood done, Benny? Ben: No m'am, I's about done when I heard them pulling up.. Eliza: Then, be a good boy, go finish it up. He hesitates, looking at DARLA. Eliza: Go on now! He exits.
Eliza: I'm very sorry, but we can not help you. Darla: I don't understand. Eliza: You'll have to keep moving. Whatever it is you're looking for, it's not here. We've nothing to spare. Hardly enough for our own. Darla: We're not passing through Elizabeth. Eliza: I'm sorry? Well...my lord. Darla Harlan, back from the dead. Darla: It's Kane now, this is my husband, Samuel. Sam: Elizabeth. SAM offers his hand, ELIZABETH ignores it. Eliza: I apologize, we see a lot of drifters, Oakies, they come by wanting food, water, a place to sleep, vagrants mostly. But what is it you want, Darla Kane? Darla: We've just come avery long way, and we'd like to know what's going on with my brother. Eliza: (Hesitates) What have you heard. Sam: We heard a noise. Eliza: A crucifix, in the bedroom. It has the habit of falling down. Darla: And my brother? Eliza: Gone to town. Won't be back 'til late. Darla: Ben says he's locked up in that room. Eliza: ...Has he been telling tales outside of school? Boy has an imagination. Darla: When I spoke to Father Thomas he told me thatEliza: Father Thomas...should have known better. I am sorry you two came all this way, but I assure you everything is under control, this is a family affair, andDarla: We are family. Eliza: Yes, well. You see, Mr. and Mrs. Kane, David is sickly, and he needs to get well. Not to have nosy visitors poking around his bedside, uninvited. Darla: So, now he's sick? Is that true, Eliza? Or, have you been telling tales, too? Eliza: You abandoned your family, Darla, but I have the good sense to know how to take care of mine.
Darla: You're a real piece of work, you know that? Let me ask you a questionSam: Darla, please... Darla: No, tell me Eliza, how far have you come in your life, huh? 'bout twenty miles down the road? We passed the old Buckner place on our way up, looked a bit rundown... Eliza: I see you still have a big mouth. Darla: Then I'll be blunt. You can either tell me what's going on, or hand me that key. Eliza: I think you had better go. Darla: Unlock this door. Eliza: Not for you. And not today. They stare at each other. DARLA goes to the bedroom door. Darla: David? David, can you hear me?! Eliza: Get away from there! Darla: David! It's your sister! Eliza: That is enough! Darla: Davy! You tell your damned wife, to open up this doorELIZA slaps her, hard, SAM steps forward immediately, close to ELIZA. Sam: Now look here, woman! A loud knocking comes from the front door. Eliza holds her ground, glaring at Sam. Beat. Another series of knocks. Sam: Don't (beat) lay hands on my wife. SAM lets go, ELIZA composes herself, and goes to the front door. FATHER THOMAS enters, followed by Eliza. He is holding a small leather case and a bible, he sets the case down as he enters. Eliza: (with an edge) The magnanimous, Father Thomas. Thomas: My apologies, I meant to be here when you arrived. I was meeting with the Bishop in Hayesville this morning, and I hit the storm coming back up. Samuel. Darla, it's nice to meet you. He shakes their hands.
Sam: A pleasure, it's a real tosser out there. Darla: We were hoping to get some answers here, father. Eliza: All of us. Thomas: I'm sorry I could not be more forthcoming with you all but, we are dealing with a very sensitive matter. Eliza: Yes, we are dealing with it. (To Thomas) I told you I don't want any outsiders here. Thomas: Elizabeth, we need Darla to be here with us in this difficult time. Darla: Is he sick? Is it the...tuberculosis? We read about it in the papers. They...quarantine them. Thomas: I think, you'd better sit down. Beth, why don't you go and fix us a cup of that tea you make? The sisters have no talent for such things. And I'm sure your guests would appreciate the drink as well. Darla: (restrained) Please. ELIZA lingers. Eliza: Alright. (Moves to exit) Thomas: I'd have the key from you as well. ELIZA stares for a moment, hands over the key reluctantly, then exits to the kitchen. Darla: What's the matter here father? Thomas: (Sighs) Quite a bit...First, to answer your earlier question, Mrs. Kane, your brother is sick. Very ill. There is a high chance that without intervention, he will die. Sam: He needs to see a doctor, our car is outsideThomas: That won't be necessary. I don't believe that modern medicine would aid your brother. This...is difficult to hear, but, what's been happening at this farm of late is...nothing natural. (He stands) You've seen the crops in the area? Sam: The papers back east call it, The Dustbowl. Thomas: It's desolation. The land has dried up beneath us, the soil we live on. Farms and ranches are closing all across the West. The bank takes this very house on the first of the month. Most are out of work, many out of house and home. It puts certain...pressures on a man. Many succumb to liquor or other vices of the devil. Tell me Darla, Did you ever know your brother to be a violent man? Darla: No, I mean he'd get into fights when he was younger but, he was a good man. He wouldn't hurt anybody...unless he had to.
Thomas: That's what began to worry Eliza so. This spring he began to act...distant. In June, he stopped attending mass entirely. Lost his appetite almost completely, and spent increasingly less time with his family. Darla: Well...he'd get like that sometimes, since the war. He'd just, go inside himself...just for a day or two. Thomas: Ah, the War. A truly human tragedy, were you involved, Mr. Kane? Sam: Not exactly, I object to war, and...my numbers never came up. Lucky I guess. Thomas: I was a medic in Brussels myself. They say that boys go to war, and that they come come back as men. David was on the front lines, yes? Darla: Yes, he saw some...terrible things. Thomas: As it happens, I came up one morning, at Elizabeth's request, to speak with David. I found him standing outside over the old well. They tell me he spent a lot of time out there, just staring. Does that mean anything to you? Darla: I don't know. That was where our father...See, he used to drink. He'd go out in the fields with a bottle and one night, he didn't come home, or the next morning...It was David that found him. He'd ended up in that well. Nobody'd heard him. He hit his head somehow on the way down. Kinda shocked everybody. Sam moves close, comforting her. Thomas: I'm sorry for your loss, may God be with you. Darla: (Wiping away the beginnings of tears) That's been 30 years now, nothing to get upset about. Tell me about my brother. Thomas: We didn't speak for long, but he did seem depressed, distant. He told me that he missed you Darla, that he'd been thinking of you. Did he ever write you that letter? Darla: I haven't heard from my brother in...some time. Thomas: (Nodding gravely) I advised him to rely on those close to him, and to appeal himself to Christ our Lord. I often think that if I had been able to offer him better council...It wasn't too long after that, the animals started dying. Sam: The 'desolation' you talked about? Thomas: Every Farm has suffered. Lost cattle or horses, but this, was different. One by one they had been..torn up, the pieces, strewn about. Sam: Some animal, surely. Thomas: There were parts missing, yes, but nothing eaten. I don't know any animal to act like that.
Darla: I don't like what you're insinuating, father. Thomas: Nor do I, but the matter remains and furthermore, the pieces, they were arranged, in such a way, as to imply (lowering his voice) ritual. Darla: You think Davis did this? Thomas: I know he did. It was Eliza that found him, in the cellar, he had their hearts and he was digging. Six holes. Six hearts. It was then that Eliza came to me again, very afraid for her husband, and her children. Sam: Did you call the police? Thomas: It is not crime to kill your own animals, disturbing as the events were, I could offer nothing but my council. After thatDarla: He started hurting them, didn't he? Thomas: He did. Darla: I saw it. I saw it on Ben's face. He looks just like his father did at that age, sad...and guilty, a wounded boy. Thomas: I came by once again, after I saw Eliza in town, with a new scar on her face (He traces it on his own cheek) At first she wouldn't even speak, she just sat there, shaking. We prayed, and finally she told me what he'd been doing. To her and to this family. There's nothing wrong with keeping a strict house but, this was abuse. And sadly, man's laws don't always match his morals, I tried to intervene, but what could I do? I came over and David greeted me out front with a shotgun. He looked me in the eyes, and said: â€œNot today, preacher. Not today.â€? Sam: So, you've locked him up, in that room. Thomas: No. That is not David. After the abuse started, he became increasingly erratic, one day he wouldn't get out of bed, next he'd run off into the fields, not come home 'til after dark, his hands covered in dirt. He'd wake up in the night screaming, clawing at his neck or speaking in tongues he couldn't know. Darla: Has he been to seen a doctor? Some professional? Thomas: There is no medicine for your brother's affliction. He is suffering from a plague of the spirit, not of the body. Sam: It's a disease of the mind, Father. He's disturbed, and it's not safe to keep him here. He needs help. Thomas: No, Mr. Kane, it is we who need help. Based on all that I have heard and witnessed, I have come to believe that the soul of David Harlan...is possessed.
Darla: Possessed? What do you mean, possessed? Thomas: I know this is difficult to hear, but a demon now resides inside of your brother. Sam: And on what authority did you make this diagnosis? Thomas: The authority of the Catholic church. Sam: We aren't Catholic. Thomas: I have been informed, at great length, of Mrs. Kane's conversion, but the Lord watches over all, even those who do not accept they are among his flock. Sam: He needs help, from a professional! Thomas: I am an ordained priest, and secular or not, you must see the danger inherent in this. Darla: Oh, I think we've seen enough. (Stands) I should like to see my brother now. Thomas: In time, but you must understand, he is a danger to himself and others. Darla: You are swimming in very deep water here, he is a human being, and he needs help.The key, father. Thomas: My judgement hereDarla: Is in very serious question, you and my brother's wife have endangered everyone in this house. Now are you going to show me to my brother? Thomas: No, not at this point in time. I cannot risk him getting loose from the restraints. Sam: Restraints? You've got him tied up and locked away? For how long? Thomas: A necessary precaution, every measureDarla: How long, Father, has he been tied up in that room? Thomas: (Reluctantly) Today will be the fifth day. Darla: (In disbelief) You've had him tied up for five days? Thomas: Be watchful, for the devil prowls like a lion, seeking to devour. Darla: Enough, father. If you don't unlock that door we'll...we'll... Sam: We'll break it down. Eliza enters from the kitchen with a tray of coffee.
Thomas: I cannot allow you to take your brother out of here! Darla: It's not your decision Father! Eliza: (She slams the tray down on a table, the coffee sloshing.) No, it is mine, and he will stay in that room until I see fit to release him! Sam: This has gone on long enough, give me the key, Father. Thomas: I won't resort to violence. Eliza: Give me that! (ELIZA snatches the key) And go fetch my son. THOMAS nods and exits to kitchen. Darla: Give us the key Elizabeth, for David. Eliza: You've no idea what you're playing at. Darla: This is your last chance, let me save your husband. Elizabeth: You never should have come here. Darla: Sam? Break it down. SAM crosses to the door, gives it a shove, but it doesn't budge, he rears up again. Eliza: You don't know what's in there! SAM slams against the door. Darla: My brother is in that room, locked up like some animal. Eliza: That's what he has become, a beast. Slam. Darla: You're the dangerous one, exposing your children to this! It's the 20th century, for god's sake! Eliza: Don't you question me! Slam Darla: You've probably got Sarah locked up in the fruit cellar! Slam, door begins to give. Eliza: Sarah, is dead! He killed her.
Darla: What? Eliza: Sarah...(breaks) She's...gone. SAM stands back. Eliza: Four days ago. HeBEN enters, axe in hand, crosses to Eliza. THOMAS enters a moment later, staying in the doorway. Ben: Mama...Mama, they hurt you? Eliza: It's alright Ben, put that thing down now. Darla: ...I'm sorry, I didn't know. Sam: He took his own daughter's life? A silence. Darla: How?...How did this happen? (No one answers) Somebody? (silence, more upset) Someone please...tell me how my niece died! Ben: (Reluctantly, stepping forward) He'd been gone all day. Out in the fields, I guess. He'd do that sometimes, just leave. Better than when he was around. I was out by the barn, 'bout dark, he came back. He had his head down, walking slow, like he's worrying. I said something to him like, “Hey Pop, where you been?” He looked up at me, like I'd scared him, and said, “Had to see a man about a horse.” He grinned at that, started walking down around the house, whistling this tune. In about a minute, Sarah come running out the door, smiling, big glass of water, “Where's Daddy? I seen him coming home.” I told her he's out back, not to bother him. She got all sad, threw her hair to the side...you know how she does? “But he looks thirsty.” She forgave him every time. I could handle him hitting on me, but he'd start in on Mama or-Eliza: Don't talk about that. Don't talk about any of it. Ben: I'm sorry, Mama. Darla: Finish it, please... BEN looks to ELIZA, she nods. Ben: I told her we'd go give it to him together. A-course he's out there by the old well, but this time he's laying into it, grabbing those old planks with his hands, throwing 'em off, down the well, he was...mad, his hands bleeding. Scared Sarah so bad, she dropped the glass, it broke. He stopped right where he was. Looked at her a minute, and started singing that song he always played. Broke all the other records. (Oh, Death plays, low) I took her inside, got her ready for bed...Dad stayed outside, we all retired. It was early. Before dawn. I woke up to a screaming, something fierce. At first, I thought it was just Dad. Something in his dreams. But, it wasn't him screaming. It took me a minute to realize that. I should of started running right then. I...I just woke up, I didn't know. (Pause) By the time I got out here
all I seen was the door. Opened up to the night. Heard her scream again, it started fading. I got outside, it was dark, darker than it should of been. Cold. I looked around for her, called out, but all I seen was him, it, standing above the well. I asked him...I said “What did you do with her, Dad?” And he kinda laughed, and said, “I am not your father, though he is one of my faces.” Wouldn't say another word after that, but I knew what he'd done. He put her down there. Eliza: That's enough, Benny, that's enough. Sam: (After a moment's silence) She drowned? Darla: That wells been dry for twenty years. Sam: Jesus... Thomas: And the dragon stood before the woman, so that when she bore her child, he might devour it. Sam: We have to call the police. Eliza: Ain't got no phone. We don't need anymore outsiders here, besides. Darla: (Weakly) I'm here to help. Sam: What exactly are you proposing we do, Father? Thomas: I plan to perform an exorcism. Sam: You're joking! That can't be legal! Thomas: The Bishop in Hayesville approved my request this morning, we need only Darla's permission to continue. Eliza: Father, Benjamin is nearly old enough! Darla: What are you talking about? Thomas: Bishop Smith has agreed to the exorcism, under the condition that at least one blood relative, of age, consents on David's behalf. Your sworn testimony, along with Eliza's, will be enough to satisfy the church. I have the papers, here, we can begin as soon as they are signed. Sam: This is...preposterous, the man is ill! You're his family and you've tied him up and locked him away, and now to ask his sisterDarla: Sam. Sam: -to consent to some archaic ritualDarla: Sam! Please. Please just, stop. Honey, I need you step outside. Sam: But I-
Darla: You too, Father, Benjamin. Elizabeth and I, need to talk. Ben: Mama? Eliza: It's alright, you boys go into the kitchen, see if there's still some of that apple pie left in the icebox. BEN and THOMAS exit. Sam: Are you sure? Darla: Yeah. SAM and DARLA kiss. He exits. Eliza: Are we supposed to have some heart to heart? Darla: No, but I have questions. Will you tell me the truth? Eliza: I have no reasons to lie. Darla: We'll see. Number one, you believe all of this? About the devil inside? Eliza: With all my heart. Darla: You believe the exorcism will save him? Eliza: It is a last resort. If it fails, so do we all. Pause. Darla: What's he like now? I heard from the priest, but... Eliza: You didn't believe it. He is...not the man that he was. Darla: And if he's just sickEliza: Sick? Sick people lay in beds, Darla, they die. They don't cut up your face, or murder little girls. That, is the work of the Devil. Darla: And if it's not, what then? Eliza: Then God help us. If a man's darkness outreaches the devil's, then the balance of His grace is askew. David saw the war. He...participated in it, and came back, a man of God. So what could shatter his faith so? What could turn him into such a monster? Darla: Do you remember Dolly Weaver's mother? They thought the devil was in her too.
Eliza: (uncomfortable) I seem to recall, it was an unfortunate incident. Darla: She died, Eliza. They beat her for hours. Eliza: You weren't there. Darla: She drowned, in a baptism pool three feet deep. Eliza: It won't be like that this time. Darla: Do you want him to die? Or worse, get loose and hurt someone else? David needs care, can't you see that? Eliza: I do... Darla: He must be in pain. Eliza: You should hear him scream, it wakes you up in the middle of the night, saying things I don't understand...Sometimes I wish that he'd just go and- never mind...never mind. Darla: I know that you think this is the answer, but no one here is equipped to help him. Eliza: And who is? Darla: Samuel knows a man, he works in Kansas City, a specialist. Eliza: A specialist? Darla: A doctor. We think, -I think, he could help David. Eliza: ...How? Darla: He runs a facilityEliza: An asylum? Darla: A hospital. Eliza: I will not lock my husband away to be studied. Darla: It's too dangerous to keep him here! Eliza: Then we will remove the danger. Darla: Okay...then when Thomas is done praying and David is still mad, what then? Eliza: Then, David would be gone for good. And the world I know, the world of Christ, would be gone, too. And I do not welcome what comes after.
Darla: What will you do? Eliza: The Lord's work. Darla: I need to see my brother, alone. Eliza: Out of the question. Darla: If he's changed, become something different, I need to see it. Eliza: I'll have to be there with you. Darla: No. Alone. I need to hear his side. Eliza: The only sides are good and evil. Darla: Then, let me see for myself, and if what you say is true, I'll sign whatever the Father needs. ...David can't wait until this Winter for a decision....Let me see my brother. Eliza: ...You shouldn't go in alone. Darla: With Sam, then. Eliza: He's not your brother anymore, you remember that. Darla: Go and fetch my husband. Eliza: (Goes to exit, turns back) Thank you. (exits) DARLA moves about nervously, for a moment. Darla: God help me. Sam enters. Sam: Darla. Darla: Sam. How would you like to meet my brother? Sam: What's the plan? Darla: We'll see him...and help him, however we can. Sam: Even if that means taking him out of here? Darla: They won't let go if him easily. I'm worried about what Elizabeth will do if theTHOMAS and BEN enter.
Sam: Father. BEN picks up the axe. Thomas: You're doing the right thing, Darla. Darla: We'll see about that. Ben: If you're going in there, be careful. Darla: I will. You're doing a good job here, Benji. Ben: If you need us, just holler. Darla: Thank you. Eliza enters with a glass of water, hands it to Darla. Eliza: Give him this will you? He needs to drink. Darla: Of course. (To Sam) Are you ready? SAM nods. Eliza: We'll be right outside. Thomas: I should like to say a prayer, first, if you would all gather around. ALL gather, hold hands. As THOMAS speaks the lights go down, the players exit and the set changes to the bedroom. Towards the end of his speech, the door unlocks, opens, and by the end SAM and DARLA are inside, the door shut, and locked, behind them. Father: Our Lord in heaven, deliver us from this evil, in our hour of darkness. (Lights dim) Give David the strength to hold on, and Darla the wisdom to make her decision, grant Sam and Benjamin the courage to watch over their loved ones in their despair, and bless Elizabeth, your daughter, who has bared all of this upon her shoulders. And may all of us be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. For we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and authority, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the forces of evil in heavenly places. And having done all, may we have the strength -to stand. Lights up. DAVID is strapped to the bed, he looks asleep. SAM and DARLA approach. Darla: David? Davy? David: (hoarse) Who's there? Darla: It's you're sister. David: (relieved) Darla...
Darla: Yes. I...came to help. David: Help...me? Darla: Yes. -Are you thirsty? DAVID nods. DARLA brings the glass to his lips, he drinks. David: I...heard your voice. He said you'd come, but I didn't think...It's been a long time. Darla: I know, too long. David: Heard you got married. Darla: Three years now, this is my husband, Samuel. SAM approaches, but not as close as DARLA. Sam: I've...heard a lot about you. David: I apologize, for not getting up. Darla: It's alright, you're sick. David: Is that what they told you? Darla: They told me a lot of things. About you, and Sarah. David: That I killed her. Darla: Is it true? David: Yes, of course. Did you see my son, how is he? Darla: He's -he's fine. David: He won't see me. Not like this. Darla: He's taking good care of your wife. David: (Chuckles) Eliza...you never did like her. You remember the time we all ran out to the briar patch? Darla: I remember, you, me, Curtis Latrobe and all four of those Buckner girls. David: We got to the top, and I told you she was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen. And you got so mad, you pushed me down that hill.
Darla: I thought I was a damn sight more pretty than Elizabeth Buckner. She used to have that boil... (He laughs again, it turns into a cough) Darla: Hey, hey, take it easy... David: Is it raining yet? I hear the wind but... Darla: No darling...It's still dry. All around. David: The farm...how's it? Darla: Not how I left it. David: It's been too long. When was it you come by last? Darla: Christmas. About...ten years ago. David: Right...just after Sarah was born. Darla: That's right. David? Can you tell me what happened to her? David: We threw her in the well. Sam: God... DARLA sits down close to the bed. Darla: Shh, David, David, why did you do that to her? David: I didn't want to. And in the end, I didn't really have to. But why? Because, sometimes the earth, it needs...sacrifices. A sin offering, expiation from trespasses forgotten. Darla: Who told this to you? David: Parts of it are in the Bible. The rest I learned from him. The man with two faces. I speak for him, you know? He who lives under houses and in the fields, behind your eyes when they close...and at the bottom of the wells. Darla: He told you to...to do what you did? David: I didn't do it, not really. He did all the...heavy lifting, he puts me on like that sometimes. Darla: How did this happen? David: I would have moved mountains for this farm. This land, was God's, and I worshipped him, and loved him, and I prayed for his rain. All the while, yearning for the time when God still spoke to man. But, it was not Him who answered. And now with the blood, this land belongs to man once more. (He smiles) Are you sure it's not raining? I swear I can hear it.
Darla: No, Davy, it's still dry. David: There's still time...Lord, how there's time. SAM pulls DARLA aside. Sam: I don't think we can do much for him here. Darla: I know...and if the exorcism failsSam: When it fails. Darla: I don't know what Eliza will do. The things she was saying...it scared me, Sam. David: No reason to be scared, Darla, I'm here. Darla: David, I need you to listen to me, Eliza and Thomas, they think that you're being controlled by a demon. David: Good 'ole Thomas, never did get things quite right. You remember the timeDarla: No! David, they want to perform an exorcism. David: Ah, let the kids have their fun. Darla: Doesn't any of this worry you? Don't you feel, any guilt? He thinks. David: No. No, I don't. Who would judge me, but man? Myself? No, no guilt. And besides, the farm...the farm is saved, and I think Sarah would have liked that. Darla: She died screaming! David: Many have died screaming. She was my daughter and I loved her, but she paid a price for me. This land's mine now, no matter whose name is on the deed, you seeDarla: Stop! Just stop. You can't justify this. For god's sake, David, I'm trying to help you. David: I don't need help. Sam: You're tied to a bed. David: The ropes? Little man, we can leave here whenever we like. Darla: Do you know what she'll do to you when the exorcism fails to shut out this mania? She'll kill you! David? David, are you listening to me?
David: (Singing) Sometimes I live in the country, Sometimes I live in the town, Sometimes I have a great notion... To jump in the river and drown. DARLA slaps him. Darla: Enough! David: Ah, you still got some fight in you. I bet he likes that. Darla: You know what it's like to see you like this? David: Like how? It's like we used to talk about, all the heroes and sinners from the Bible? Well, I'm one of them now, I see the truth. About the farm, the work, the prayer, the wife. It's a vain goal for, what? I belong to something bigger: It's the myth, how the West was won, and I am the first of the many. Darla: David, what you're saying doesn't make sense. David: (Agitated, then excited) Woman! Listen to me. I am not possessed. I made a deal, and it was a bargain. The devil inside me has no power that I did not give him. A new testament is being written, can't you see that Darla, in blood, all across the American waste, and if you don't take your part, it will consume you. And I want you, Darla, I want you to be with me! Darla: ...I want to be with you, Davy. DAVID calms. David: It's beautiful here. Once the rain starts, you'll see...you'll see. Darla (To SAM) We need to get him out of here. Sam: By ourselves? DAVID begins humming a tune, low and haunting. Darla: No, he's too dangerous...you'll need to go and get help. Sam: You're coming with me. Darla: I'm not leaving him alone, besides he's...restrained. Sam: It's not him I'm worried about. Darla: I can take care of myself, I'll stall them for as long as I can. Hopefully the storm will die down. SAM thinks.
Sam: Where do I go? Darla: Hayesville, do remember the fork in the road? It's about 30 miles. Just find the sheriff, tell him everything. Sam: He might not believe me. Darla: Tell him to look in the well. I don't know how long I'll be able to cover for you, you'll need to go now. They can't perform the exorcism withoutDAVID is having a seizure. Sam: Oh god! Darla: What's happening? Sam: He's having a seizure! Out of the way. (Sam crosses to the bed) I was worried about this. Darla: What? Sam: (Distracted) Seizures are often mistaken in instances of possession, but they didn't say anything about -damn it! I don't think he can breathe, we need to get him on his side, help me undo these straps, -the top ones! Darla: But, he'sSam: Your brother is dying. Darla hesitates, before crossing to the bed. Sam: HereDarla: It's gonna be okay, David, you'll see, you just need some helpOnce his upper-half is loose, DAVID stops seizing and pulls SAM to him, biting his neck. Blood flows onto the bed. SAM starts screaming. Darla: No! God! Stop it! (Ad lib, etc.) DARLA tries to wrestle SAM away, in vain. DAVID has SAM by the throat, he flails. David: (Singing) My eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the lord! Darla: Help! Help! Stop it! Why?! Someone is trying to open the door.
David: He is trampling out the vineyard where the grapes of wrath are stored! Darla: (Crying) Let him go! Oh, God... David: He's loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible, swift sword! Darla: [Incoherent cries] David: The truth is marching on! The door bursts open, ELIZABETH steps aside. THOMAS and BEN enter. THOMAS moves right to the bed, brandishing a crucifix, pushing DARLA behind him. BEN holds the axe, on the other side of the bed. The key is in the lock. Thomas: Stop, beast! Transgressor! Seducer! For we believe in God, the almighty father, and in Jesus Christ, His sonDavid: Judas! Jacob! Lilith! Cain! Hell! Hell! HELL! Come on, Father! No prayer's gonna save him! DAVID pushes SAM off of the bed, he falls to the floor motionless. THOMAS steps back, DAVID immediately begins unfastening the remaining straps. Darla: Sam? Thomas: No! THOMAS and DAVID grapple. David: It's more than a demon, Franklin, you're fighting a man! Thomas: God still loves you, David! David: God is dead! BEN hits DAVID with the butt of the axe, he's knocked out. Silence. DARLA sobs, THOMAS is panting. BEN lets the axe drop. After a moment THOMAS speaks. Thomas: Benjamin...help me restrain him. (BEN just stares at SAM) Benjamin! BEN and THOMAS do the straps, while ELIZA comes to the door, surveying the carnage. Darla: Oh, God...Sam... Thomas: (To DARLA, gently) Darla? Let me see him. DARLA moves aside.
Darla: Is he dead? Thomas: (Checking SAM) I don't know...you need to apply pressure to the wound...He's still breathing! (To ELIZA) Go and get my bag, by the door, hurry! Darla: He needs a hospital. Thomas: There's none close enough. (To BEN) Come on, help me move him to the sofa. They carry him to the couch. BEN retreats to the door, stunned. DARLA stands by, craning over THOMAS, who tries to save his life. Darla: Ohmygod, ohmygod. Thomas: It will be alright Darla, just, be strong. Darla: I don't know how...how it happened. Thomas: The Devil walks a crooked path. Sam! Sam, can you hear me? Damn it! Darla: How does he look? Thomas: The bite's deep but, we may be able to stop the bleeding. Darla: Is he gonna be alright? Thomas: If God is with us, yes. Darla: What are you doing? Thomas: Trying to save him! Please, if you want to help your husband...pray for him. DARLA backs up. Darla: (Under her breathe) Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, uh...and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. ELIZA returns with the bag, THOMAS grabs it from her, pulling out bandages, beginning to administer to SAM. Darla: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earthEliza: It's a God-awful affair. Darla: As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those...who trespass against us; and lead us...lead us not into...Jesus.
Eliza: It is tragedy. Darla: ...He was just trying to help him. Eliza: And I thank him. Darla: You can tell him that, when this is all over. Eliza: I will. He is in my prayers. Darla: ...Thank you. Eliza: I know a thing or two about damaged husbands...Mine is fighting for his life too. Darla: He attacked my husband. (Pause) I didn't believe you, that he could -that he was capable... Eliza: It is no longer him. It's the beast inside. Darla: I don't know...I don't know anymore. Eliza: He needs help, you said it yourself, now look what he's done! Darla: He's still my brother. Eliza: He's a monster, and you know it! Darla: ...Maybe. Eliza: Look in your soul, Darla, and ask yourself: (Almost a whisper, in her ear) â€œCould David Harlan do that to my husband?â€? Darla: No. Not the David I knew. Eliza: He's changed. Darla: But I don't know what to. Eliza: Yes. You do. You've seen it now, his side. Do you believe me, now? Pause. Darla: Why didn't you come? Eliza: I beg your pardon? Darla: I cried out, when he attacked...I screamed. Eliza: What? I didn't-
Darla: You said, you'd be right outside, in case anything went wrong! Eliza: We didn't- These walls are thick. Darla: David said, he could heard me talking. Eliza: And you believe him? Darla: Maybe...more than you. Eliza: This house is old, Darla, you know that, the locks and doors are rusty, sometimes theyDarla: Don't give me that! Eliza: You think I let this happen? I am not the villain here! Darla: No. You're just the bitch. Eliza slaps her. Eliza: I have given everything for this family! You just got here, thinking you can waltz in and pick up the pieces? This is my life! I live this everyday! Darla: You lied to us. Eliza: I tried to protect you from the truth. And look where the truth got you. You had fair warning, you knew the dangers coming in here. Darla: The devil? Eliza: At his most dangerous game. Do you still believe he's just sick? That all he needs is some time alone with a doctor? Darla: I don't know! Eliza: Well, I do! And I have the solution. This is the end of an era, Darla. This land will never be the same but, for now, it's ours. Darkness threatens our very lives! Darla: The exorcism, if it fails, you'll...you'llEliza: If it fails, the world is over, goodness unravelled, and the kingdom come. Nothing will be sacred. That which is dead will never die And all that is lost can never be found. The demon will be expunged, or his vessel destroyed. Darla: That's... THOMAS stands and turns, slowly. Thomas: Darla, I...
Darla: Father? Why aren't you...(THOMAS shakes his head) Oh. But... Thomas: There was...nothing I could've done. DARLA moves to her husband, kneeling. Darla: Oh, Sam... Oh, God... DARLA begins to cry, holding SAM's head to her to her. BEN comes through the door, looking on with regret. Ben: Darla...I- I'm sorry. Thomas: Excuse us, please, both of you. ELIZA lingers for a moment. Eliza: Think about what I said, Darla. (She exits) Thomas: Would you like me to say a prayer, for his soul? Darla: ...Yes. Thomas: God our Father, your power brings us to birth, and by your command, we return to dust. Lord, those who die still live in your presence, their lives do not end. I pray in hope for the soul you have taken, now, in company with Christ, he who died and now lives. May the soul of this man rejoice in your kingdom, where all is washed away. Look over him and those left behind. And may your love unite us together, again, in one family, so that we may persevere and overcome this darkness. Amen. Darla: Amen...thank you Father. Pause Thomas: Darla? Darla: Yes? Thomas: I know that you suffer but, Samuel wanted to help your brother, didn't he? Darla: That's all he wanted. Thomas: He died trying, but you can still save your brother. Darla: You need me to sign. Thomas: It's not just a signature. It's your approval, if you offer it. Darla: To exorcise the evil?
Thomas: Yes. Darla: Have you ever done this before? Thomas: Once...during the war. There was a child. Darla: Did it work? Thomas: No, she- we were too late to save her soul. But for David there is still time, I know it. Darla: I wish I could be so sure. Thomas: You've been through a lot. Darla: Too much. Thomas: I...I'm sorry. I'll give you some time. He comforts her and slowly crosses to the bed, checking David's restraints, he lingers a moment looking to Darla, before moving to exit the room, Darla watches him go, he moves his hand towards the lock, with the key still in it. Darla: Wait! Wait. (She steadies herself) I'll sign. ...just- get the papers...I'll sign. Thomas: Oh, of- of course. Darla...you're making the right decision. Just, one moment. He exits. Darla looks to her husband, wiping away her tears. Darla: I'm so sorry, Sam. We never should have come here. She lays her husband down gently, and crosses to the door. She looks out, then down to the lock, she pulls out the key, closes the door and locks it. She crosses to the bedside. Darla: David? David, are you awake? She touches his shoulder, he turns to her. David: Darla...(He smiles) How's your husband? Darla: ...He died. David: Oh, good. I was worried, he seemed to be having some trouble breathing. Darla: Why did you do that to him? David: Hard to say, the Lord work's in mysterious ways. Darla: Tell me the truth.
David: Don't get much more true than that...Ah, I guess he just pissed me off. He was a coward. A draft-dodger, who couldn't mind his own. Darla: That is my husband. David: Was. Pause. Darla: Do you know why I left? After the war? David: Elizabeth. Darla: No...no we could of got along, this is a big house, after all. And Lord knows you could of used the help with the children. No, I left because of you, David. A knock at the door. David: Are you gonna get that? DARLA shakes her head. Darla: No. I'm gonna tell you a story, and if you're a good boy, and you keep real quiet, when I'm done, I'll let you go. Would you like that? David: Yes. Darla: (Brushing his hair) I always did want to take care of you. Even when I pushed you down those briars, I couldn't stop apologizing, even after we'd patched you up. I guess I should say I'm sorry now, for everything. Cause Daddy never hit on me, like he did you. Cause I should have been the one to fetch the water that morning you found him. Cause I shoulda wrote you more during the war, I just sent the one letter, when Mama died...It was you and me against the world, you remember that? David: I remember. More knocking, muffled voices from the other side. Darla: I liked playing the mother, trying to help you, however I could. She wasn't there for us, not really, not after dad died. He was the real son of a bitch. Remember how he'd get drunk and go stumbling around the farm? He was a tough man, real strong, you know that. He used to love picking me up, putting me on his knee, almost as much he loved the sauce...more than he loved mama. He drank himself into a such stupor, that sometimes...sometimes....even a child could have pushed him over. Banging from the other side. Darla: It was a good few years after that...but after you came home from the war, and you saw me, it was different. Wasn't in anything you'd said or done. No, it was in your eyes. This country sent you off
to become a killer, and when you got back you saw that you'd been living with one your whole life. And I wish you would of said something! Screamed or yelled, hit me, trow me out, hell, thanked me! Anything but that stare. The stare that said, â€œI know what you are, and it disgusts me.â€? You need help, David. More than Father Thomas can offer. ( She lifts a strap, sliding it through her fingers. Muffled cries are heard through the door, they are trying to break it down) Do you want me to take you out of here, David? David: Yes, please, sister, let me go. Darla: Alright, David. I love you. David: I love you, tooShe snatches up a pillow, pressing it down on DAVID's face, he struggles to no avail. She holds it there until he stops moving, the pillow falls aside and she sits looking at her brother. After a moment, the door finally gives, BEN spilling into the room, the others after him. Thomas covers his mouth, retreating to the corner. Thomas: The Lord have mercy... Eliza steps forward, after a moment: Eliza: What have you done? Jesus, what did you do?! Darla: I let him go. (Sighs) I let us all go. ELIZA goes to her husband's body. DARLA sits on the edge of the bed, running her fingers through David's hair. She begins to sing. Darla: 'O, death' someone should pray, 'Could you wait to call me another day?' The children prayed, the preacher preached... Time and mercy is out of your reach. Goodbye, David. Lights fade to black, leaving us with just the sound of the storm.
Mack W. Mani is a Forward Prize nominated poet, playwright, and author. He was born in rural Washington State and currently lives in Portland, OR. His work has appeared in various literary magazines including Neon, NewMyths, and The Pedestal Magazine. His poem â€œAnd then the stars...â€? was featured in the 2016 Rhysling Anthology. Sam A. Macy is an Oregon based artist, wizard, and comedian. He has performed in numerous showcases, venues, and competitions. He was born in rural Montana and currently lives with his fiance in Portland, OR.
The Harlan House is a horror stage play in one act. Darla Kane hasn't been home in years, but when she returns to her aging family farmhou...
Published on Mar 20, 2016
The Harlan House is a horror stage play in one act. Darla Kane hasn't been home in years, but when she returns to her aging family farmhou...