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End Times (An Armageddon Comedy): Sample Scene
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ACT I  SCENE 7

SETTING:   The Pope's Chamber at the Vatican.

AT RISE:   The new Pope, the former Cardinal Lukash, is admiring himself in the mirror.

LUKASH

(Singing, imitating ZZ Top)

...Cuz every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed pope!

(He adjusts the hat)

Now THAT'S one HELL of a HAT!  It just SCREAMS, "Outta the way!  Here comes 'da POPE!"

(He's interrupted by the new Papal Nuncio.)

NUNCIO

Your Holiness.  The Secretary General of the United Nations is here to see you.

LUKASH

(Without turning around.)

Gimme just a second, willya?  Gotta make myself presentable.  Need to set the scene, if you will

(The Papal Nuncio shrugs and exits.)

LUKASH

.

(Talking to himself in the mirror again.)

LOVE the hat!

(He makes kissy noises to himself. Then turns and walks to his chair.  Once seated, he shouts towards the door.)

Send in the Secretary General of the United Nations.

(Moloch enters the room and bows.)

MOLOCH

Your Holiness.  You are looking well.

(Lukash extends his right hand with the prominent Papal Ring.)

LUKASH

The ring.

MOLOCH

The WHAT?

LUKASH

The ring.  The Pope's Ring.  You gotta kiss the ring.  It's protocol.

MOLOCH

(Remembering.)

Oh yeah, right.  Of course.  Protocol must be observed, after all.

(He steps towards the Pope and, with obviously false reverence, takes his hand and kisses the ring.  Lukash recoils in pain.)

LUKASH

Son of a GUN!

MOLOCH

What?  Did I pinch?

LUKASH

(Rubbing his hand.)

No.  It was like a bolt of electricity up my arm when your lips touched the ring.  You been shuffling your feet on the rug?

MOLOCH

(Looking around.)

I see no rug, your holiness.

LUKASH

Well, then, that makes it more bizarre!  It's almost like there was a sudden rush of, oh, I don't know, EVIL when you kissed the ring.

MOLOCH

(Amused.)

Yes. Well.  Fancy that.

LUKASH

(Gathering himself.)

Well.  Never mind.  Here.  Come in.  Seat yourself.  Be comfortable.

(Moloch sits.)

There, are you comfortable?  Do you need a beverage?

MOLOCH

No, thank you your Holiness.

LUKASH

A blanket perhaps?  It just suddenly got cold in here.  Did you notice?  The moment you walked into the room, it's like the temperature dropped 30 degrees.  I'm freezing my pointy hat off here.  They could put ear flaps on these things, you know?

MOLOCH

No, Holiness.  I am fine.  I am comfortable.  Shall we talk?

LUKASH

Yes.  Talk we shall.  We shall talk.  I assume you want to know the Church's standpoint on the disappearances.

(Rubbing his hands together.)

Boy, I'm freezing in here.  Did we pay the fuel oil bill this month?

MOLOCH

Yes, Your Holiness.  It's one of the reasons I am here today.  I am curious to know what the Church will say about the disappearances.

LUKASH

What is there to say?  I think the President of the United States explained it pretty well, don't you?  I mean, I don't believe him for a minute, nor does anyone with half a brain, but who wants to stir up trouble these days?  Not this pope, I can tell you.

MOLOCH

So, the Church is not going to officially classify this as The Rapture?

LUKASH

Rapture.  Look, Joshua.  I don't know how much you remember from your Sunday catechism...

MOLOCH

Actually, Holiness, I was raised as a Jew.

LUKASH

(Taken aback.)

Seriously?  A Jew?

(He leans toward Moloch.)

Did you have any trouble getting in here today?  Some of the old timers and their grudges.  Don't get me started about the old timers.

MOLOCH

No trouble at all, Holiness.

LUKASH

Good.  No trouble.  That's what I like to hear.  That's the kind of Vatican I want to have around here.  An all-inclusive Holy See is the Holy See for me!

MOLOCH

I'm happy to hear that, Holiness.  If ever there was a time for inclusiveness, that time has arrived.

LUKASH

So, never mind about the catechism then.  Things have changed, Joshua.  And with a name like Joshua, I should have figured out your Hebrewness before you told me, right?  I'm not as quick on the uptake as I once was.  No offense?

MOLOCH

None taken, Holiness.

LUKASH

Good.  Anyway, this isn't your father's Catholic church anymore

(Correcting himself before Moloch can.)

Understanding, of course, that your father was about as Catholic as you are and ... Well, I digress.  Anyway, we're a lot less stodgy about things these days.  We're not so quick to slap the "hand of God" label on to things we don't understand.  Back in the old days, someone acts a little nutty, we called the exorcist.  Today we call the psychiatrist.  Same drill, but it takes a little longer, right?  It certainly costs more.  You could give the exorcist a chicken and call the deal square.  Try giving a chicken to a psychiatrist!  You can't!  They won't take it!  Anyway, were more disposed these days to accept secular reasons for things that happen.  In fact, I plan to issue a Papal Bull in the next day or two.  Want to know what it's about?

MOLOCH

(Enduring.)

I can't wait.

LUKASH

Good.  Starting next month, the official Catholic standpoint will be that God lives in all of us, not in an imaginary heaven!  And since God lives in all of us, that makes us all a part of God.  So we should be nice to each other, right?  Makes sense, don't you think?  Sort of puts us all on the same page.  Gets everyone in the same boat.

MOLOCH

Precisely the way I feel.  And it's just what I was hoping you'd say.

LUKASH

Of course, I had to write it all up, stretch the thing out so that it runs 600-something pages.  One thing I learned coming up through the ranks.  You issue a Papal Bull of less than 500 pages, no one takes it seriously.

(He smiles.)

So, you wanted to see me?  Something more than the disappearance thing?

MOLOCH

Yes, now that you mention it.  As you know, the election for President of the United States of Europe is next week...

LUKASH

Thank you, but no.  I'm not interested.  No time for such things.

(He holds up his Papal ring.)

Too busy being Pope, you know...

MOLOCH

Oh, no.  You misunderstand...

LUKASH

Because otherwise, you know, call me!  I'm ready to go!  Always there to lend a hand to the cause of a unified Europe.

MOLOCH

Of course you are, Holiness.  What I...

LUKASH

And besides, when I became the Pope, that officially made me like King of the Vatican or something like that...

MOLOCH

Understood, Holiness.  Actually, I am interested in the job.

LUKASH

Of Pope?  The job's taken, Sonny Boy!  And the day that a Jewish boy becomes Pope, well...

MOLOCH

Jesus was a Jew, was he not?

LUKASH

Well, yes.  At first...

MOLOCH

Holiness, I wish to be President of Europe.  This will be just the beginning of a wonderful new world.  I need a strong man at my side, spreading the gospel that you, yourself, just so eloquently expressed moments ago!

LUKASH

The Pope backing a Jewish boy to rule the...

MOLOCH

(Rises, speaking powerfully)

A Pope of a NEW world, standing right... at... my... side.  WITH me.  Not a weak figurehead, trembling with fear at the changes to come, but a Pope for the AGES!  A prophet for that which must pass.

LUKASH

(Nearly pissing his robes in fear)

But ... but do you think the world is ready for...

MOLOCH

...Someone who is at my side, rather than under my heel.

(There is a brief pause.  Moloch sits.)

LUKASH

(Slapping his thigh in delight, then leaping to his feet.)

Well, that is the most sensible thing I've heard all day.  However I may be of assistance, you only have to ask!

MOLOCH

Actually, Holiness, a kind word from you at the press conference tomorrow would start things off nicely...

LUKASH

Consider it done!

(Lukash and Moloch shake hands.  At the touch of Moloch's hand, Lukash is in pain again.  He sinks to one knee as Moloch rises.  Lukash attempts to recover, rubbing his hand as he speaks.)

LUKASH

(shakily)

You're a nice boy, Joshua.  I think we will work well together.

MOLOCH

I couldn't agree more, Holiness.

(They move towards the door together.)

LUKASH

Jewish, eh?  Are you happy with that?  I can pull some strings, you know.  I'm the pope.

(They exit.)