The Moon Away by Edward Crosby Wells


This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

ACT ONE Scene 1 a bridge in Joe's dream

AT RISE the stage is in darkness. A single LIGHT begins to
fade JOE into view before spreading as it intensifies on the bridge
fading into view. The bridge, seemingly, goes nowhere. There are
steps leading up to and down from the bridge.

JOE: (On the bridge, speaking directly to the audience.) This is the
dream . . . or nightmare. You decide. I am on a bridge. Suddenly,
the sun goes down as quickly as if someone had switched the lights
off. This sudden shift this darkness does not seem out of the
ordinary. I somehow have the knowledge that there is a force with
specific form that I cannot grasp visually. Yet, I know it exists. I
know it has form and shape within its own dimensions . . . dimensions
for which I have no sense to put them into perspective. This force
this inexplicable entity has the power to eclipse the sun by
sheer will, enfolding me in the shadow of its omnipresence. Is it
 I am overwhelmed by the thought of such an entity, so I
fly. I fly just above arms beginning to reach up for me, trying to
pull me down. Slowly, I descend toward the ground beneath the

(The TORMENTORS three hooded and cloaked figures ominously
sinister and ghost-like, appear and move hauntingly through the fog
and shadows beneath the bridge. They hiss and, in rasping voices,
call: "Joseph, Joseph" etc.)

They drag me underground . . .
into the dark, damp regions of their underworld. I recognize the
futility of any effort to resist. Soon, after resigning myself to my
captors, I try to remember where I was before I fell into their
clawing, grabbing, clutching hands. I am horrified. Horrified at the
faceless faces of these demons. Horrified because I cannot remember
any prior existence beyond suddenly finding myself on that bridge.
Every attempt to remember causes unbearable pain . . . a savage
anguish. I understand it only as a feeling; a sensation of being
dissolved in the face of infinity when one has come too close to its
realization that last conscious moment of I am before melting into
the enigma of the eternal world without end overwhelmed by the
incomprehensible magnitude of it. Have you ever felt that? I

(The TORMENTORS continue to whisper and hiss.)

shock of that impending oblivion causes me to wake-not from sleep,
but rather into another time and once again on that very same

(The TORMENTORS point accusingly at JOE.)
I hear voices
accusing me of . . . what? Whatever it is, I feel the weight of its
guilt. I think about flying to safety and I wonder about the
direction to take, but I cannot move under the force of this guilt
that restrains me from flight. I come to realize that my very ability
to fly-the fact that I am able-is proof of my guilt. (The
TORMENTORS continue to whisper and hiss.)

Then, someone
approaches. I can't make out his face. We struggle. There is one
thought on my mind. Kill him! His death will be my absolution. Kill
him! I push him from the bridge. I watch him fall silently to the
ground below.

(The TORMENTORS watch the invisible body as it
falls, pointing to it, surrounding it.)

I think there ought to be
a thud. But, there is only silence. I wonder: What if he isn't
dead? There must be no evidence of his ever having existed! I see a
large rock on the bridge. I pick it up, raising it high above my
head, and aim it at his face before hurling it with all the force that
I can muster. Suddenly, he disappears. The rock strikes the empty
ground and bounces, soundlessly, out of sight.

disappear into the shadows.)

I fly away. Not very fast. Not
very high. But, I fly just the same.

(JOE descends from the
bridge and walks downstage.)

Then, I am awake, soaked with sweat
and feelings mixed with sorrow, guilt and remorse-a painful and
complete sense of being utterly alone in all of time and space. And I
wonder: Can absolution be won through the trials of men in their
search for Truth? And I wonder: Was there ever innocence? Or is
there, indeed, an original crime for which Man can never be absolved?
Is there no redemption?

That's it. That's the dream . . . or
the nightmare. You be the judge.

End Scene 1

Scene 2 a visiting room in the city jail

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: (A thoughtful, pleasant, professional woman who
appears as if from nowhere while finishing an entry in her notebook.)
I am not here to judge, Joe.

JOE: Well, I'm certainly not in any position.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Of course you are. You know there's been a
substantial change.

JOE: Has there?

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Don't you see it, Joe?

JOE: It's always the same. Nothing's changed.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: What about the man on the bridge?

JOE: What about him?

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Any idea who he is . . . whom he

JOE: I told you, I couldn't see his face.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: No, but in the past it was always you who fell from
the bridge. (Reading from notebook.) "I am on a bridge. Someone
turns the lights out. Someone approaches. He grabs me. We struggle.
I fall from the bridge. I wake." (Thumbs through notebook.) The
following session: (Reads.) "I am on a bridge." (Looking through
notes.) Here it is. (Reads.) "I fall. I see the bridge as I fall.
I think I am about to hit the ground. I wonder why I cannot wake. I
am on the ground. I look up and see someone on the bridge looking
down at me. He disappears."

JOE: That's right. We've changed places. What does that

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I really can't say. What do you think it means?
JOE: I don't know. It's a struggle with myself, maybe.


JOE: Why? Why would I want to hurt myself? Why should I want to
destroy myself . . . so completely-so finally?

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I don't know. Why should you?

JOE: Well, I

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Good. Joe, I want you to start writing down these
dreams in more detail, along with how you feel about them at the time
of the dream and then again upon reflection.

JOE: I can't.


JOE: Because they don't let me have a pen, paper-nothing in
this place. I have to ask for my toothbrush every morning. They
won't let me keep it with me.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I wasn't aware of that.

JOE: Yeah . . .
well, I guess they're afraid I'm going to do myself in . . .
disembowel myself with my multi-tufted Doctor Good-Dental.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I'm certainly glad to see that you're keeping
your sense of humor.

JOE: And my sanity?

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Was there ever any doubt?

JOE: I think . . .
no, I feel . . . I feel that I'm going to lose it in here. Oh, God.
I'm so afraid.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: You're doing very well, Joe. I'm proud of

JOE: Yeah . . . well . . . I wish I were.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Do you want to talk about it . . . what you're

JOE: I hate the kid! I hate his mother! I hate the whole stinking
idea of it!

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: What are your thoughts about the boy . . . his

JOE: I'm sorry. I'm really not up to this.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: All right. We don't have to if you don't want
to. But, sooner or later you'll have to deal with it, Joe.

JOE: I know.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Good. Any word about when you're being
transferred to the county jail?

JOE: If Conrad can't come up with the bond money . . . in two days,
I think. (A pause to control his mounting panic.) Oh, God. I'm
not going to make it, Doctor. I'm not going to make it.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, you are. You'll be just fine.

JOE: No,
I won't.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Joe, you've held together better than should be
expected of anybody going through what you've been going through.

JOE: I'm not through it yet . . . not nearly.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: No, but this is no time to lose control. (Glances
at her watch.) I have an appointment at the hospital. Will you be all right?

JOE: Yes.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: Good. Is there anything I can do?

JOE: Talk to
Conrad. Tell him to come up with the money. Rob it, if he has to.


JOE: Seriously? Seriously, I don't know. I just don't know.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I'll do what I can.

JOE: I know you will. Thank you. (THE PSYCHOLOGIST turns to leave.)


JOE: No. Nothing. Just . . . just know that I am innocent.

THE PSYCHOLOGIST: I believe you, Joe. (She disappears.)

End Scene 2

Scene 3 the same

CONRAD: (Appearing suddenly.) I love you, Joe.

JOE: Then, how can you leave me here?

CONRAD: I'm doing everything I can.

JOE: I'm scared.

CONRAD: I know you are. Look, in a few days I think we can
raise the money.

JOE: How? You tell me how we're going to come up with enough money
to cover a hundred thousand-dollar bond. Huh? Tell me, Connie, tell me!

CONRAD: I don't know yet. We're working on it.

JOE: Working
on it. I may be dead in a few days!

CONRAD: You're being unreasonable.

JOE: Go to hell!

CONRAD: Joe, I can't talk to you when you get like this.

JOE: They're going to kill me, Connie.

CONRAD: Who? Who's going
to kill you?

JOE: You'll see. You'll see that I'm right.

CONRAD: No. I won't. You're just being paranoid.

JOE: (Mimicking.) You're just being paranoid. (After a pause.) You
don't love me. You never loved me.

CONRAD: Stop talking nonsense.

JOE: Nonsense? Nonsense is it? Connie, they're shipping me off to
the county jail in two days. You should hear what the guys in the
cells on either side of me have to say about that place. Last month
they found a guy hanging. Hung himself, they said. I mean, he had his
hands tied behind his back, but he hung himself! The talk is
they'll cut my balls off when they find out what I'm in here for.

CONRAD: Nobody's going to cut your balls off.

JOE: It's not like here in the city jail. Up there it's
different, Connie. They throw you in with all kinds of criminals. Do
you know what they do to child molesters?

CONRAD: You're not a child molester, Joe.

JOE: I know that. You know that. But, do you think they give a
shit? Christ. Wait until they find out I'm a faggot.

That has nothing to do with anything.

JOE: You know, Connie, you're perfectly stupid sometimes.

CONRAD: (Obviously hurt.) Thanks. Thanks a lot, Joe. I'm sure you
think I deserve your abuse. I'm sorry you feel that way. (Turns to
leave.) Maybe when I come back you'll be in a better mood.

JOE: Don't bother. Just leave me alone. (After a pause.) Wait!

CONRAD: (Turning back tired and drained.) What? What, Joe?
What do you want from me?

JOE: Understanding. Patience. Love.

CONRAD: You've already got that, Joe. Did it ever occur to
you that I might want the same?

JOE: You get it.

CONRAD: From you? That's a joke. When you want something maybe.

JOE: No, not just when I want something.

CONRAD: It sure seems that way.

JOE: Well, I'm sorry.

CONRAD: Yeah . . . me, too.

JOE: I'm scared, Connie. I'm scared.

CONRAD: I know you are. So am I.

JOE: But, you're not the one in jail.

CONRAD: No. I'm not the one in jail. I'm the one left to pick up
the pieces.

JOE: Oh, poor shat-upon Conrad.

CONRAD: Look, Joe, I'm doing what I can-all I can. I can't do

JOE: You think I'm guilty.

CONRAD: No. I don't think you're guilty. I'll do what I
can to get you out of here as soon as possible.

JOE: (After a pause.) I know you will . . . I love you, Connie.

CONRAD: And I love you. Joe, you need to take things
one day at a time.

JOE: Oh, thanks for the platitude. (CONRAD
disappears.) Don't you think I know that? I take things one minute
at a time in here.

End Scene 3

Scene 4 the same

THE LAWYER: (Appears. Scribbles throughout scene on a yellow legal
pad.) Take it step by step, Joe.

JOE: I'm trying. For God's sake-I'm trying.

THE LAWYER: All right. Calm down and get hold of yourself. (Pause.)
Are you okay?

JOE: Yes.

THE LAWYER: Why did you have the kid naked?

JOE: I told you.

THE LAWYER: A twelve-year old boy, Joe, naked?

JOE: I didn't want to get any oil on his posing-briefs.

THE LAWYER: Come on, Joe. Do you expect a jury to buy that?

JOE: Yes. It's true.

THE LAWYER: Okay, answer me this: Had it been a twelve year old girl
would you have had her naked?

JOE: Of course not.

THE LAWYER: Why not?

JOE: Obviously . . . because . . . because it wouldn't be right. I
mean, a grown man and a twelve-year-old girl. What do you take me

THE LAWYER: But, a boy makes it all right?

JOE: In hindsight, I guess not. But at the time . . . yes . . . I
thought it did.

THE LAWYER: Even though you're homosexual?

JOE: What should that have to do with it?

THE LAWYER: Come on, Joe. Who do you think you're kidding? It has
everything to do with it.

JOE: I told you there was nothing sexual about it. I didn't think,
that's all.

THE LAWYER: Well, you'd better start thinking now because the
Assistant D. A. already is.

JOE: Believe me, I'm not turned-on by little boys. That's not my
thing. I was thinking about what I had to do to get the job done. I
was thinking about poses . . . about lighting and about props, but I
wasn't thinking about anything sexual with that kid. I mean, we
were both males and I didn't see anything wrong with it. If the kid
got horny and thought there was something more to it than there was,
then it was in his head-not mine.

THE LAWYER: That may well be. The jury may see it otherwise.

JOE: Don't you believe me?

THE LAWYER: That's beside the point.

JOE: That is the point. If you don't believe me, how can a jury?
How can you defend me?

THE LAWYER: Try and understand what I'm going to tell you. You and
Conrad came out here five years ago from New York. Right?

JOE: Yes. Right. So what?

THE LAWYER: This is another world, Joe. You've never really
understood that. You came to town and got yourself involved with the
little theatre, the arts council and-

JOE: (Interrupts.) What's wrong with that? I thought I had
something to offer.

THE LAWYER: Let me finish. You did have something to offer. You and
Conrad have contributed greatly. I know that and some of our friends
know that. But this is Lea County, New Mexico. Most of the people
here look askance on outsiders who blow into town and try to change
things overnight.

JOE: Is that how you see it?

THE LAWYER: It doesn't matter how I see it. I'm telling you how
things are. Three of your photographs were removed last year from an
exhibition at the public library by the City Manager.

JOE: There was nothing wrong with them. You've seen them.
They're hanging in my studio. I'm a first-rate photographer.
It's not my fault if some stupid, narrow-minded people thought they
were "too suggestive."

THE LAWYER: No, I suppose it isn't, but that is exactly what I'm
trying to make you understand. Your fault or not, it doesn't
matter. Are you listening?

JOE: I'm listening.

THE LAWYER: That jury will be made up of oil field workers, ranchers,
farmers, and their wives. Can you identify with them? Can you
understand where they're coming from?

JOE: I wasn't hatched, you know.

THE LAWYER: Damn it, Joe! I'm trying to tell you what you're up

JOE: So, if I'm to listen to you, I'm already convicted, aren't I?

THE LAWYER: You're not listening to anybody. I didn't say that.
I just want you to understand what it is we are up against here-with
what it is we have to deal.

JOE: Yeah, I get the picture. These good church-going,
family-oriented fundamentalist hypocrites are going to bury my

THE LAWYER: (Losing his patience.) Stop playing the fool. If we
have to go to trial, you can be sure the Assistant D. A. is going to
play up to that jury like the good ol' boy he is. He's nobody's
fool. Now, tell me: Why did you have the kid naked?

JOE: Look. I made a mistake-a stupid, regrettable mistake. I
usually wait in the reception area while my client is changing, but he
was late. I had an appointment across town in less than an hour and I
hadn't set the lights or the backdrop. So, I told him to go ahead
and change while I set up. The next thing I know he was standing
there naked and I said, "Let's put the oil on now so we don't
stain your posing-briefs anymore than we have to." That's it. It
was stupid and I'm sorry, but I'm telling you that there was
nothing sexual whatsoever about it.

THE LAWYER: Then, you applied baby oil to his body. Correct?

JOE: Yes. I told you that already.

THE LAWYER: Tell me again.

JOE: Look. I had to cover him with baby oil. That's what his
mother wanted. She came to the studio. She said that she

THE LAWYER: (Stopping him.) When? When did she come to the

JOE: A couple days before the shoot.


JOE: She came to the studio. She said that she was entering her son
in a photogenic contest and wanted me to take the pictures. She said
she wanted . . .

End Scene 4

[end of extract]


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