HE WHO LAUGHS

Al and Zach have been driving up to The Spot where they go every Saturday to pray.  In this scene, Al finally tells Zach that God has commanded him to sacrifice him as a burnt offering.

AL

He spoke to me again.

ZACH

What?

 

AL

He spoke to me again.  The Lord.  He came to me at work.

ZACH

For real?

AL

Yes.  For the first time in years.

ZACH

Wow.

AL

I was on the loading dock.  And His voice is so… it comes from outside of you and then reverberates inside of you—

ZACH

Awesome.

AL

I was shaking.

ZACH

Dad.

AL

I fell to my knees and cried.  I couldn’t stop.

ZACH

That’s gotta be the meds, dad.  Come on!  God spoke to you!  I wish He’d talk to me!

(Al is silent.)

So what’d He say?

(A short beat.)

Dad?

AL

He told me that He wanted you.

ZACH

Me?

AL

Yes.

ZACH

Are you kidding?

AL

No.

ZACH

I knew it!  I felt it!  So today is the day!  What does He want me to do?

AL

He just said that He wants you.  I don’t know why.

ZACH

Why d’ya hafta be—?

AL

What?

ZACH

—like that?  Is it so impossible—

AL

I—

ZACH

—that God could want me for something?  Am I so useless?

AL

I didn’t mean it that way, Zach.

ZACH

Yeah.  Sure.

(Short pause.)

I wonder what He wants me for?  Well, whatever it is, I bet it’s cool.  He can just come and get me, right?  Send an angel down.  Maybe even come Himself?  Waddaya think?

AL

He wants me to give you to Him.

ZACH

Give me?  How are you gonna do that?  Have me beamed-up?

AL

Zach.

ZACH

Call Fedex?  Next day delivery?

AL

You don’t—

ZACH

Or Priority Mail from the Postal Service?  Flat Rate!  Stuff me in one of those pre-paid envelopes—

 

 

AL

Zach.

ZACH

—my legs stickin out!  “Hey!  Watch it, buddy!  That’s my favorite foot!”  Or I could always go Parcel Post!  Of course, by the time I get there—

AL

Why do you—?

ZACH

—I’ll be a hundred and fifty years old!

AL

Please!

ZACH

You don’t hafta get so mad.

AL

I’m not mad.  I’m—

ZACH

You sound pretty mad—

AL

I’m not!  I’m…

ZACH

What?  What?

AL

You’re not listening!

(Silence.  Pause.  Carefully—)

I’m to give you to Him as a burnt offering.

ZACH

A what?

AL

A burnt offering.

ZACH

I’m not gettin this.

AL

He wants me to… sacrifice you.

ZACH

Sacrifice me?  For what?

AL

For Him.

ZACH

You mean, like a human sacrifice?

AL

Yes.

ZACH

Oh.

(Pause.)

Like, you’re gonna… uhmmm, like… kill me and burn me?

AL

It’s not like that.

ZACH

Yes, it is.

(A short beat.)

So, He doesn’t want me to do anything?  Just… die?

AL

No.  No.  He wants you with Him.  In His Kingdom.

ZACH

For what?

AL

It’s a new beginning, Zach.  A new life with Him.

ZACH

A new life?

AL

(Short pause.)

I’m very proud of you.

ZACH

Why?  I didn’t do anything.

AL

He chose you.  He loves you very much.

ZACH

You always say that.  “He loves you, He loves you, He loves you.”  You don’t have to tell me every second.  Startin to sound a little weird.

(Short pause.)

And that’s where we’re going now?

AL

Yes.

ZACH

To our Spot?

AL

Yes.

ZACH

To do it?

AL

Yes.

ZACH

That’s what you think.

AL

It’s the Lord’s Will.

ZACH

That’s why you were so nice to me— thanking me and everything.  All along you were planning—

AL

I wasn’t planning anything Zach.

ZACH

Right.

AL

I was only trying to—

ZACH

It doesn’t matter, I’m gonna be dead soon anyway.  Right?

(A short beat.)

Did you ask Him why?

(Silence.)

Hello?  Did you ask Him why?

(Silence.)

Are you kidding me?  You didn’t even ask Him?

AL

I did.  He didn’t answer.

 

ZACH

Guess He was busy doing something important.

(A short beat.  Taunting his father—)

Big fighter.  Al Wells!  Leader of the Community!  Fighting for everyone!  But when it comes to me or mom…

AL

Zach—

ZACH

(Mimicking a “weasel”—)

He didn’t answer.

(An outburst.)

You didn’t even ask Him!  You’re the worst father ever!  Big Man of God!  God Is His Friend!  He Walks with God!  Well, while you’re out walkin with Him, put in a good word for your son!

AL

Zach.  The Lord asked for you.  Do you know what that means?

ZACH

No.  He didn’t ask me nothin!

(To the Heavens—)

Hey!  Dontcha wanna know how I feel about being a burnt offering?  Don’t I count for anything?

(Zach waits for an answer.)

Not a word.  Ever.  Nice guy.

(To the Heavens—)

Well, guess what?  It ain’t happenin!  I didn’t do anything!  It’s not fair!  I don’t even have a girlfriend yet!  Lemme outa the car!

AL

I can’t!  We’re in the middle of—

ZACH

Stop the freakin’ car!

(He repeatedly punches his father on the shoulder.)

No!  No!  No!  No!

AL

Zach.  Stop.  Stop it!

ZACH

How could you do this to me?

AL

Zach, I don’t want to do this.  I love you—

ZACH

Sure.

 

AL

—but I can’t break a vow to God.  You know that better than anyone!

ZACH

I don’t care about your stupid vow!

AL

You don’t mean that.

ZACH

Yes, I do.  Sooner or later you’re gonna have to stop, and I’ll get outa this car and you’ll never see me again!

(A beat.)

So, how did you think you were gonna accomplish this?  Slip me some drugs or somethin?

AL

Of course not.  I’m to do it, and you’re to submit to it.

ZACH

Submit?

AL

Yes.  Peacefully.  No.  Willingly.

ZACH

So, I’m just supposed to accept all this?

AL

Yes.

ZACH

Why would I?  It’s crazy!

AL

You would because you love and trust in The Lord.

ZACH

What if I don’t?

AL

You don’t?  I hear you’re a bigger fanatic than me.

(A short beat.)

ZACH

No.  I’m not doing it.

AL

You’re sure?

 

ZACH

I’m sure.

AL

You realize we’re disobeying The Lord’s Command?

ZACH

I realize it.  I realize it.

AL

Just so long as you understand that—

ZACH

I understand it!  It’s not so difficult to understand!  I’m not stupid!

AL

No one said you were stupid.

(Short pause.)

Okay, then.  It’s settled.  We won’t do it.

ZACH

Good!

(A short beat.)

Do you think He’ll be mad?

AL

What do you think?

(Silence.)

ZACH

Is this cause I get headaches and don’t play sports and stuff?

AL

Of course not.

ZACH

He thinks I’m weak, right?

AL

The Lord doesn’t think you’re weak.

ZACH

He does.  Sickly.  Like you do.

AL

I don’t think you’re sickly.

ZACH

Cause I was only four and a half pounds, right?

AL

Zach.  No.

ZACH

How about when you told mom my headaches were psychosomatic?

AL

I was upset, Zach.

ZACH

So, not only am I sickly, I’m crazy, too.

AL

I just… didn’t want to believe that you were really sick.  That’s all.  You’re my boy.

(Short pause.)

ZACH

Migraines isn’t “really sick.”

(Short pause.)

You hate everything I do.  My games.  My shows.  My music.  Star Wars.

AL

I don’t hate—

ZACH

Everything I say is wrong—

AL

No.

ZACH

You hate me.

AL

Zach, do you honestly think that?

ZACH

Seems what I think isn’t very important.

(Silence.  We hear the sound of a train approaching as they reach a railroad crossing.  The sound of the train grows louder.  The barrier goes down.  They stop.  The train passes in front of them.)

End of Excerpt

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