|Romance Script posted May 23, 2021||Chapters:||...4 5 -6- 7...|
Sacrifice to the King
A chapter in the book Genius in Love
Genius in Love, Scene 6
by Jay Squires
Thumbnail sketch of the last scene: Cornelius is being bullied on the basketball court during recess. Cililla watches it all several yards away but oddly doesn’t intercede or instruct him. A young girl student, Jenny Jax, stands near but is not a part of the klatch of bullies that circle Cornelius, jabbing at him. Bully leader, Delaney, is called to the office and the circle dissolves. Recess is over. Cililla explains to Cornelius the new rules of engagement and afterward a hesitant Jenny leads Cornelius to class.
[NOTE: Please read Author Notes.]
Cornelius Plumb: An autistic, musical genius child, age 12. Stunningly attractive, His mother dresses him fashionably and impeccably.
Cililla Queez: An apparent product of Cornelius’ mind, a replacement for his imaginary childhood mentor, Pidely-Poo; she is here to transition him through puberty and adolescence. She is shapelier than most of the girls and her demeanor is rather racy.
Jennie Jax: Attracted to Cornelius. A classmate, physically not yet blossomed. Kind-hearted, but still a child and swayable.
Mr. Hiney: 8th-grade teacher. Battling his demons, his wandering eyes reveal to the alert observer, a keen interest in what’s going on beneath the young girls’ desks. The students generally have figured out in a confused, intuitive way, what’s happening and occasionally some of the girls test their theories.
General Class Students: Only one rises occasionally above the surface, James Delaney’s friend, Hector Jones, and a girl named Susan do so today. All the girls wear skirts below the knees, which contrast greatly with Cililla's mini-skirt.
SETTING: An early 1950s 8th-grade classroom. A prominence of charts and pictures of branches of government, portraits of presidents, and historical figures populate the walls. A large teacher’s desk, metal-skirted on the sides and front, sits CENTERSTAGE, right, and faces left. Neat stacks of books and papers are on the desk. Traditional 1950s students’ desks with lift-up tops and book storage compartments beneath, are in the usual rows facing the teacher’s desk and extend back to stage left. The exit door is UPSTAGE right. An oversized clock is above the door. [Remember this is from the actors’ perspective, not the audience’s. To the latter, what’s given as left is right, upstage is, to them, downstage. That’s “theater” tradition.]
AT RISE: A few minutes after recess. The desk formerly occupied by JAMES DELANEY is conspicuously vacant. MR. HINEY leans the weight of his buttocks against the edge of his desk-front in a power-posture, arms crossed, legs straightened and crossed at the ankles. He scans the faces of his students until all eyes, except for CORNELIUS’S are fixed on his. CORNELIUS sits stiffly at his desk, located in the middle of the row, farthest from the exit door. In the row, just across from him, sitting on JENNY JAX’S desktop, CILILLA QUEEZ tugs her miniskirt to mid-thigh, then giving up on that, performs the balancing act of crossing her legs while gripping either side of the desktop. JENNY JAX, is unaware of CILILLA, of course.
~ ~ ~
Well. Well, well, well.
(with a nod and a knowing smile toward JAMES DELANEY’S vacant desk.):
Looks like someone didn’t return from recess.
(One of JAMES DELANEY’S friends sitting near the empty desk, speaks up, timidly)
They called him to the office, Mr. Hiney.
I’m fully aware of that, Mr. Jones.
(After a long, breathy sigh, in a voice brimming with dramatic weariness):
I Just don’t know about you people. I’ve been teaching here as long as any of you have been alive. You’d think things would change, but they don’t. You don’t change. Not what’s going on up here.
(Taps his temple)
Always the same up here.
(Then, while tracing a large circle starting under the chin, descending the body to the upper thighs, then across and up the other side to the chin … performing several rotations as he speaks)
Now, down here, that’s a different matter. Down here, all kinds of changes are taking place. You all know what I’m talking about. Ah-ha, don’t deny it. I see it in some of your faces. Science tells us that your little bodies are concocting and delivering to your bloodstream different hormone cocktails based on whether you are a budding girl ...
(Eyes flitting from one girl to another, zigzagging now and again, from face to below desktop, then back to face.)
…or boy. But down here …
(tapping his chest with his forefinger)
you know more than those silly scientists know.
[The classroom is beginning to feel uneasy, squirming, casting furtive glances at one another. JENNIE takes a moment away from the drama to peek over at CORNELIUS who is fidgeting and blinking straight ahead, but just then grazes with his fingertips the cheek she had kissed earlier. CILILLA nods, knowingly, then smiles down at JENNIE. The rest of the classroom, so absorbed by MR. HINEY’S drama, don’t notice anything else.]
MR. HINEY (Continues):
Eyes up here, ladies. Eyes front, gentlemen. So … here you are. You’ve just about reached the end of the lower level of your education. Eighth-grade. For elementary education, you’re kings and queens of the hill. And despite all the battlegrounds of confusion going on inside your … your ripening bodies—Oh, yes, you know what I’m saying—here at the end of your elementary school, here in the eighth grade, you’re kings and queens of the hill. But … there’s alllwaaays one in every eighth-grade class …
(releasing another well-timed weary sigh as he lets his eyes rove to JAMES DELANEY’S vacant chair, and some others of the students follow his eyes.)
… alllwaaays one who is not content to be king of the hill. He must be emperor of the hill. And all the little kings bow down to him.
(raising a slightly trembling hand and awaiting MR. HINEY’S annoyed nod):
Mr.—Mr. Hiney. When is … is James coming back?
We’ll not worry about the fate of Mr. Delaney. Each one of your highnesses has enough to worry about with yourselves. In not too many months, most of you—assuming you pass our little constitution test—will find yourselves facing a much, much bigger, steeper hill when you go to high school.
[At this point, we reach a kind of interlude where MR. HINEY pauses for dramatic effect, stands, and begins strolling back and forth in front of the desks, his hands clasped behind his back, while the students’ eyes are wide, following him, their mouths agape. CILILLA QUEEZ, during this short interlude, pushes off the desktop and faces CORNELIUS. As she speaks, stage lighting remains normal, and action is not frozen for the rest of the actors, though no one, but CORNELIUS, can see or hear her.]
(Throwing up her hands)
Here it comes! Sweet Jesus, here it comes! The prophet has descended from his cave, and now he is preparing to enlighten the world with his high school doomsday prophecies!
[CORNELIUS is startled by her words, shoots a glance at the pacing MR. HINEY and makes little jerking movements of his head toward his classmates who seem to be hanging on their teacher’s every move.]
CILILLA (Continues, concerned, to CORNELIUS):
Oh, Sweet Cornelius, I'm trying to prepare you. I know what's coming and I know you can feel it, too—it’s building in you like a thundercloud, isn’t it Sweetie. Oh, Ahhhhhhhhhhmmmmm! Ahhhhhhhhhhmmmmm! Why must that asshole—I'm sorry Sweetie—but why must Hiney drag the innocent into his perverse fixations? Ohhh, don't let it happen, Cornie. Don't let him get to you!
[As MR. HINEY stops his pacing and resumes his power-posture at the front edge of his desk and begins again speaking, CILILLA, a frantic expression on her face, darts about the classroom, never too far removed from MR. HINEY.]
And … as you stand before that new hill, looming above you, you find you’re no longer king of the hill. You are now peasants. Wait, did I say peasants?
[With his scream (which should be theatrically amplified and echoed for its almost painful effect), CILILLA, her open palm thrust toward MR. HINEY in the gesture signifying “STOP”, suddenly withdraws it and covers her ears, pain etched on her face. (It's important that none of the other students are physically reacting to the loudness.) Simultaneously, CORNELIUS covers his own ears, and he whips his head from side to side.]
MR. HINEY (Continues):
(She stumbles over in front of him, frantically waving her arms, and screaming, but he can neither see nor hear her.)
Shut up! Shut up, you shithead!
(without a missed beat.)
NOOOOOO, not peasants. Less than peasants. You will be the sacrificial animals the peasants use to appease their king. LAAAMBS and OXEN to the slaughter.
(Clambering noisily to his feet, extricating himself from his desk as though it had been an unwelcomed part of him. Palms that had covered his ears now become fists he pounds against his head as he plods to the front of his row. MR. HINEY takes a step toward him and stops. The students, some now standing, gawk at CORNELIUS.)
CORNELIUS (Continues): NO … NO … NOOOOOO …
(He turns to lumber down the row, continuing to slam his fists into his head.)
LAAAMBS …. OXEN …
… TO SLAUGHTER …
[CILILLA races over to CORNELIUS, tries to soothe him as she walks beside, but without touching him. JENNY, standing beside her desk now, her entire body trembling, her fingers webbed over the top of her head like she’s holding it together. Her body, her eyes, mirror her indecision. She is being torn in different directions—ripped apart. shredded by everything. She should be holding him till it stops. Let the others talk. Let them all laugh. Mr. Hiney! Oh, God, I can’t. Cornelius! Please, don’t Cornelius!]
Big-ger hill … No, no, no. NOOOOOOO!
Now, Cornelius. Just relax now. Just re—Susan…
(Turning, addressing girl at the front desk nearest the door)
Susan … I need you to go to Mr. Hallows office. Now. Immediately. Ask him please to come to this class. Bring someone with him. Go!
END OF SCENE 6
Those of you who read scene one, have FanStory's BILL SCHOTT to thank for the change in the SETTING for this and subsequent classroom scenes. As he sagely pointed out, the way I'd had scene one set up, the audience could only see the backs of the students' heads and, facing them, a much smaller Mr. Hiney and his desk, being clear to the back of the stage. Thanks to you, BILL, I've spun the stage 90 degrees counter-clockwise.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
Much gratitude for the photo by Daniel on Upsplash.
© Copyright 2022. Jay Squires All rights reserved.
Jay Squires has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.