By Sheila Liljeqvist
A young man is in hospital following a brain haemorrhage. On the verge of death, he discovers that his neglect of his Christian walk has imperilled his salvation.
Richard Stark (the patient)
Judy Laidlaw (a friend)
(The lights are out. The audience hears an ambulance siren that segues into hospital noises. Lights come up on the ICU (intensive care unit) in a hospital. There is a patient on the bed being busied over by nurses and hooked up to a bleeping ECG machine. Two doctors are having coffee in a staff area.)
DR. ABLE: So she's standing on the window sill in her hospital gown, screaming for all she's worth, the intern's turned a pale shade of green, her husband is threatening mob connections and is trying to get her transferred to a private hospital and Jonesey and the midwife are frantically trying to get her down before the baby comes.
DR. YOUNG: Ha! What an introduction for Jonesey.
DR. ABLE: He's put in for gereactrics now.
DR. YOUNG: What did she deliver?
DR. ABLE: Bouncing baby boy- 10lbs 3oz- the image of his daddy. Proud pappa has been handing out cigars to the entire ward.
DR. YOUNG: (laughs).
(Nurse 1enters with CT scans and hands them to Dr. Young and exits. The Dr.s examine them and continue to chat without sound. At the reception desk, Nurse 2 is on the phone. Two patients are sitting in chairs. Judy waits at the desk for attention.)
Nurse 2: Don't you have a record of the participants? I see..no, all the ambulance officers were able to get was his name. Yes... Richard Stark... ... I don't know..S.T.A.R.K. I guess, he didn't have any identification on him... Well, the lady sitting next to him gave us his name... .No, she look, isn't there someone there who could get a hold of his registration?... I know it's late, but it's important that we get the information... ..Thank you... .Yes, yes, as soon as you can please... Thank you.
(Nurse 2 hangs up and turns her attention to Judy)
JUDY: Excuse me, but I'm from the conference. I was wondering about Mr Stark.
NURSE 2: Richard Stark? From the sales conference at the Hilton?
JUDY: Yes. How is he? Would it be possible for me to see him?
NURSE 2: Are you a relative?
JUDY: No, just a friend.
NURSE 2: Oh, maybe you can help. Have you got a home address for Mr Stark? We're trying to contact his family.
JUDY: I'm afraid I only just met him tonight..at the conference..we didn't exchange addresses, but he's from Melbourne. He mentioned that... and he doesn't have any family or friends up here. That's why I'm here. I was wondering if I could see him for just a few minutes.
NURSE 2: I don't think that's possible just now, but if you'd like to wait, I'll check with the doctor in charge.
JUDY: Oh, yes... thank you.
(She sits. Nurse 2 gets back on the phone. The Devil, dressed as a bag woman, has been sitting with the partients)
DEVIL: I wouldn't bother if I were you. I saw them take him in there and he won't be seeing anyone tonight, specially since you're not a relative. They're strict around here about that. Best to come back tomorrow, visiting hours. No-one allowed in except in visiting hours, unless you're a relative of course.
(Nurse 2 leaves the desk to tell Dr.s Richard is in ICU)
DR. YOUNG: Seriously, the prognosis is bleak. I'm just not making progress. I tried to slice right down the middle, but it just went wild.
DR. ABLE: Happens to the best of us- you just need practice.
DR. YOUNG: Yeah, but I'm running out of patience.
DR ABLE: Look, you want some advice? It's all in the hips.
DR. YOUNG: There's nothing wrong with my hips.
(Nurse enters briskly )
NURSE 2: Doctor, the cerebral Haemorrhage has moved to ICU. They're ready for you now.
DR. ABLE Thank you. (to Dr. Young . Nurse 2 returns to the reception desk where she receives a call informing her of Richards brother)
DR. ABLE: Do you want to come along?
DR. YOUNG: Sure.
DR. ABLE: No really - you should get some professional advice.
DR. YOUNG: Don't you trust my natural talents?
DR. ABLE: Look, I was playing off 12, now I'm down to 6 after just five lessons. A couple of sessions with a golf pro- and you won't know yourself.
(The doctors enter the ICU ward where a nurse is working on the patient)
NURSE 3: He's cardio vascularly stable. BP (blood pressure) is 130 over 80.
(The Doctors examine the charts as the spirit of Richard rises from his body)
RICHARD: What's happening... what is this? Where am I?
DR. ABLE: Well, there's not much more we can do now.
RICHARD: (to the doctors. They don't respond) Who are you? (sees himself) What- That's me! What am I doing there?
DR. YOUNG: (to Dr. Able) Check out the ICP. ( the intra cranial pressure Monitor)
DR. ABLE: Hmmm.
RICHARD: What do you mean "Hmmm"?
DR. ABLE: (to nurse) Any relatives? Have they been notified?
RICHARD: Notified? Notified of what? What happened?
NURSE 3: We're still checking on that. He was attending a sales conference at the Hilton- openning ceremonies- He collapsed in his cheese soufle. No one really knew him.
DR. ABLE: Don't they have a register? A home address?
NURSE 3: Yes. They're trying to reach someone now.
DR. YOUNG: Well they'd better be quick. He hasn't got much time.
RICHARD: What are you talking about? Listen to me! What is this?... Am I dead? ( Dr. Able puts the chart back on the end of the bed. Richard follows to the other side of the bed) No, I can't be... the machine is still going... I don't feel dead. I don't even look dead.
DR. ABLE: How old do you think he is?
RICHARD: 26. I'm 26!
DR. YOUNG: Late 20's , early 30's.
NURSE 2: (enters) We've found a brother, doctor, but he's in Melbourne.
DR. ABLE: Tell him his brother's suffered a massive Brain Haemorrhage. And we don't expect him to survive the night.
DR. ABLE: He's unconscious- not in any pain- not likely to regain consciousness- you know, the usual stuff.
RICHARD: What do you mean, "the usual stuff"?
NURSE 2: Yes doctor. (exits)
DR. ABLE: (to nurse) Keep me posted. (she nods) (to Dr. Young) So, any way..the tournament's on tomorrow and we'll go to the club after. Mike's coming and Jonesey..but he's on call. You free? They're have a special Easter 'do'. You know, Easter bunnies and all that stuff.
Dr. YOUNG: I'm always free for a golf tournament. I got some things on, but I can shift 'em.
(Dr.s exit and Nurse 3 settles down to 'observe' with a Cleo magazine.)
RICHARD: Golf? Golf? (to Nurse 3) What are you doing? You just going to sit there? What is this? Isn't anybody going to do anything? I'm 26! I don't even smoke! I can't believe this is happening... no-one dies at 26! ..My suit is at the cleaners..Who's going to pick it up? What about my dog? God- this isn't fair. I've only just started to live. The conference..I've paid for it..the room..the Hilton..What are they going to say at work? Oh God..I haven't got time for this..I've got so much to do. I've only just started to live. I haven't..I haven't..done anything yet.
DEVIL: (has entered during the last speech, unseen) Well, that's certainly true.
RICHARD: What! (sees her) Who are you?
DEVIL: Don't you know? You and I go back a long way. We're going to be spending a lot of time together- you and I.
RICHARD: I don't remember you. I don't see how I could forget you. Hey! How come you can see me?
DEVIL: I've always been able to see you. It's you who hasn't been able to see me. (She touches him and he jumps away in fright.)
RICHARD: Is this a dream? That's right..I'm in a coma and this is a dream. Must be the drugs they're pumping in there.
DEVIL: Well, you just keep right on dreaming Ricky boy, and come with me. (She leads him towards Hell-lights, smoke etc)
RICHARD: Wait a minute- wait a minute- that's- you're- this isn't a- I'm-
DEVIL: You really have a way with words, Richard.
RICHARD: No. No. I'm not going with you- I'm not going there! I'm a Christian. I don't have to go with you.
DEVIL: Oh, really?
RICHARD: Yes. I am a christian!
DEVIL: That's news to me.
RICHARD: I am. I went out the front at a rally when I was 16 years old.
DEVIL: So you're one of the 'once saved, always saved' mob.
RICHARD: Well, I went out the front..they said it was enough..you just had to believe... and make a public declaration..and... they said it was enough.
DEVIL: Well, that might have done it, at the time, I mean, if you'd died right then and there you might have made it. But, surely you don't believe your 'declaration' would mean anything if you went out and murdered someone the next day... and the next day... .and the next day.
RICHARD: I didn't. I'm not a murderer.
DEVIL: (quotes from a book) "he who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement" It's as good as murder.
RICHARD: Well, everyone gets angry now and again.
DEVIL: Anyone who says "you fool" will be in danger of the fire of hell.
RICHARD: Yeah, well..
DEVIL: Now, what was it you called that receptionist the other day?
RICHARD: Wait a minute-
DEVIL: Murder. (she writes it down in her book like a shopping list) Now, how about lust? You look like a healthy male.
RICHARD: Oh, now look, I don't have any of those books.
DEVIL: "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultary with her in his heart"
RICHARD: Well,... we're all human... I mean, no one can help that.
DEVIL: "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. You seem to have both your eyes?
RICHARD: No one takes that literally.
DEVIL: (writes) Lust.
DEVIL: Relax Ricky boy, I don't want you to take it literally. Think of the chaos that would cause. Ooooh... it won't be long now. Tsk, tsk, doesn't look good. (she checks the ECG) We're going to get along fine you and I.
RICHARD: No. No. That's not fair.
DEVIL: Fair? Who cares about fair? It's in the contract.
RICHARD: What contract?
DEVIL: This contract. (she holds up a bible)
RICHARD: The bible?
DEVIL: Yes of course. It's all in there. You've read it haven't you? Your end. His end. You keep your end, He'll keep his end. HE'S very particular about that kind of thing. Now, let's see... Murder, Lust, Lies.
DEVIL: Would you like to go over last year's income tax with me?
RICHARD: Uh, no. That's OK.
DEVIL: Murder, lust, lies, stealing. Shall I continue? No? Well, let's see..according to the contract, that adds up to death for you, my friend. You're mine. Says so right here. (points to the bible)
RICHARD: No. No. That's not the way it is. (Judy enters) Judy!
JUDY: (to Nurse 3) Excuse me, my name is Judy Laidlaw.. I was wondering if I could see Mr Stark?
NURSE 3: (professionally concilatory) Are you a relative?
JUDY: No. I was at the conference with Mr. Stark when he collapsed. The doctor said it would be alright for me to see him.
NURSE 3: I see. Well, here he is, but I'm afraid he won't know you're here. He's had a massive brain haemorrhage and the damage has been severe.
JUDY: I know. The doctor explained, but I'd still like to see him for a bit. If that's OK.
NURSE 3: Sure. Go ahead.
JUDY: Thanks. (she sits down next to him) Ah... .Richard... I don't know if you can hear me or not-
RICHARD: I can. I'm here... well, sort of..
JUDY: But my name is Judy Laidlaw, and... I don't know if you remember me or not- I was sitting next to you at the conference..at dinner... and I thought that your family might not be able to get here for a while and... well... I'm a Christian and I thought... I felt... well, I'd like to pray for you..um, I don't know if you're a Christian or not-
RICHARD: I am!
JUDY: So, I hope you don't mind..-
RICHARD: Not at all.
JUDY: Um..I'm kind of new at this... um ..Jesus, I know that you're here and that you love Richard and that you're in control. I pray that you'd be with Richard now, fight for him Lord. Heal him in the name of Jesus..(she continues to pray quietly.)
DEVIL: (covers her ears and screams. The angel appears as light)
RICHARD: Look, I know I wasn't perfect- no one was. No one can be. That's the point, the whole reason why God sent his son to die for us- to die for our sins. Because we all sin, and, yes, the penalty is death, but Jesus paid the penalty for us. He died in our place, and so-
DEVIL: Ooooh, so you're the great disciple now are you? You hid that little secret well didn't you? So well, that we didn't even notice it. What was your ministry?
RICHARD: My ministry? I wasn't a minister. We couldn't all be pastors.
DEVIL: Well, my dear boy, you claim to be a part of the body of Christ don't you? We, every part has to have a function. A body can't have any inactive parts now can it. So what was your function? Were you an apostle?
RICHARD: I'm not sure exactly what an apostle does...
DEVIL: A prophet?
RICHARD: There is a guy in our church who gives prophesies, but-
RICHARD: Well no, I'm not a teacher. I'm in sales- and I never went to uni. I-
DEVIL: Worker of miracles?
DEVIL: Healing? Helps?
RICHARD: I helped out, whenever I could. I'm on the road a lot. Look, I'm not a professional in the church or anything like that. I'm just a member of the congregation. We can't all be full time workers in the church. Some one has to earn the money to pay for it all. I pay my tithes. I don't have any special 'gifts'. I'm just a regular person, but I do what I can, when I can.
ANGEL: No special gifts?
RICHARD: Yaargh! Who are you?
ANGEL: A friend.
RICHARD: I wish you guys could give a bit of warning before you pop in.
DEVIL: What are you doing here? Go away!
ANGEL: I was invited.
DEVIL: Then un-invite yourself. He's mine.
ANGEL: He's not dead yet.
DEVIL: A matter of perspective, wouldn't you say.
ANGEL: You have no special gifts?
RICHARD: Well no. I'm alright in sales... but not any of those other things.
DEVIL: See? He has no idea. He thinks that sitting in a pew and paying a professional to live out his Christianity for him will earn him a ticket to heaven.
RICHARD: I didn't say that, but not everyone could be a pastor or heal or do miracles. I didn't meet too many miracle workers.
ANGEL: What is your gift Richard?
RICHARD: I don't have one. Not like that... Look, I prayed for people... I prayed for my grandmother... when she was dying from..it didn't... I just don't have the gift, that's all... but I paid my tithe. I went to church. I worshiped God. That's all most people did.
DEVIL: How many souls did you save?
RICHARD: I gave money for missionary work and, and special offerings for evangelists that came to our church...
DEVIL: Paying the professionals again, eh Ricky?
RICHARD: I wasn't an evangelist.
DEVIL: No souls eh? Tisk, Tisk. "The unfruitful branch shall be lopped off and thrown into the fire!"
RICHARD: No one ever asked me to preach.
ANGEL: You were asked to help out at youth church.
RICHARD: I'm not a teacher.
ANGEL: You're good with kids. They like you.
RICHARD: Well... yeah... but look..I've been really busy, and I've got this new venture opening up. That's why I had to get to this conference, because I'm entering into new areas and- look, I've built up my business from nothing. That's not easy in these economic conditions, and my capital is tied up in it... I don't have time for any more commitments. I just don't have time.
DEVIL: You sure don't. Tick, tock, tick, tock.
RICHARD: You mean, you're saying that that's my ministry? Kids?..Well, I guess I could have cut back a bit... but I don't have any training in that kind of thing.
DEVIL: And it was never offered to you, right? Good one Ricky.
RICHARD: But, how are you supposed to know what you ministry is? I mean, I just never thought about it.
DEVIL: Seek and ye shall find.
RICHARD: I didn't think it was necessary. No one ever told me I had to- Doesn't it say somewhere in the bible, that all those things are as nothing? You just have to... .love? Love God, love your neighbour? You know.
ANGEL: All works and ministries are but the outpouring, the out working of God's love through us. Without God's love, God's spirit, all our attempts at ministry are as nothing.
RICHARD: Yeah. So, if we just love-
DEVIL: Oh, you did really great in that department.
RICHARD: I love God.
DEVIL: Oh really? "He who says he loves God, but hates his brother is a liar" Liars are mine.
RICHARD: I don't hate my brother- I-
DEVIL: Always patient are we? What about- ah yes, just yesterday when the telephonist couldn't put your call through.
RICHARD: That was a very important call.
DEVIL: And your driving, ..well..
RICHARD: Well, we all have areas to work on.
DEVIL: Love is kind? Doesn't envy, doesn't boast, isn't proud- ah pride. That's my favourite, and you seem to have quite a full file here on that one.
RICHARD: What do you mean?
DEVIL: Like the time when your pastor was preaching on forgiveness, and you know you should have gone out the front, but were too embarrassed.
RICHARD: Well, I-
DEVIL: Or the time-
RICHARD: Ok, OK (angry)
DEVIL: Love is not easily angered.
RICHARD: Ok, so I'm not a saint.
DEVIL: ah ha! He admits it! Told you. He's mine! He's mine! He's mine!
RICHARD: No. I mean- (to angel) aren't you going to help me?
ANGEL: How can I help you?
RICHARD: Well, say something! I wasn't all bad.
ANGEL: Is near enough, good enough?
RICHARD: Well no... but then, nobody did any better- except maybe the fulltime ministers..but they're able to..it's their job. I mean, there wouldn't be too many in heaven if only the prifessionals were allowed in.
ANGEL: The way is narrow.
RICHARD: But, I'm not a heathen. I go to church. I'm a Christian!
ANGEL: Many will call Lord, Lord.
DEVIL: Ha Ha, got you there Ricky. Won't be long now.
RICHARD: (desperately) Please.
ANGEL: Richard, are you claiming salvation under the old covenant, through your own righteousness?
RICHARD: The old covenant? You mean the law?
DEVIL: Jeasus didn't come to abolish the law. It still stands. Every last jot and tittle. HE said so.
RICHARD: Yes, but Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins. I don't have to be perfect. I can't be.
ANGEL: His grace is sufficient for you. His strength is made perfect in your weakness.
RICHARD: Because He died. Because He died for me... I'm forgiven!
DEVIL: If you had loved Him, you'd have kept his commandments. Your life has been worthless.
RICHARD: You're right. I wish- Oh God, I'm sorry. It was all there..and I just didn't bother to seek. I didn't want to listen. I didn't want to step out. God... those kids! I'm sorry. I'll do better. Give me another chance, Lord. I'll do better this time. I'll cut back my hours and take on youth church. There's time isn't there? I can try again,..can't I? Can't I?... It's too late?... Oh God, I really blew it.
ANGEL: His grace is sufficient for you. His mercy is limitless.
RICHARD: How can I face him?
DEVIL: Forget it. You won't have to- you don't have a chance.
RICHARD: No. No, I do. I do because God said I do. I may have stuffed up my life- but Christ died for me- That I would have eternal life with Him. He died for my sins..and not just the ones I committed before ... before my..I gave my life to Him. I wish I'd done it differently, but I know He forgives, that He has forgiven me... for everything. In the Name of Jesus, get out!
DEVIL: (leaves protesting loudly into Hell, red smoke and sulphur)
RICHARD: What happens now?
ANGEL: He's waiting for you.
(They exit into paradise- lights, music, fog. Patient on the bed dies. Nurse and doctors rush in and try to resuscitate Richard but fail. Judy stands to the side watching during the process. Finally Dr. Able calls the time of death and he and Dr Young leave chatting while the Nurse detatches Richard from the various machines etc and then leaves Judy alone with Richard.)
DR. ABLE: Did I tell you I finally got my new putter? My Wilson model Double 8 one three?
DR. YOUNG: You're kidding. How much did that set you back?
DR. ABLE: $2,000.00
DR. YOUNG: (whistles)
DR. ABLE: The price of exclusivity my friend. You want the best, you gotta pay for it.
JUDY: Oh God, God- why did this happen? Why didn't you heal him? He was so young... He had his whole life ahead of him. I don't understand Lord. I was so sure you wanted me to come and pray for him. I was so sure I heard your voice... no... I did. If I didn't hear you on this, I haven't heard you on anything. Did I do something wrong? Oh God- I'm sorry. It's you that heals. not me. What happened Lord?
(As she prays silently throughout song, the angel returns and gently places his hand on her shoulder.)
I don't understand this Lord, but you are Lord. Your Ways are above my ways..and I trust you. You are faithful! I guess there are somethings you just can't explain to us..like trying to explain calculus to a cat eh?... I don't know why, but I feel that there has been a victory here somehow... Thank you Lord.
(She strokes Richard's forehead gently.)
Good bye Richard. God bless you.
© Sheila Liljeqvist
All rights reserved. NO changes may be made to this script without the express approval of the author.
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. She may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org