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38 Years
by Jonathan Boustead
05/17/10
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THIRTY EIGHT YEARS

NARRATOR How comfortable can you get, in your own state? How easy is it to accept our problems as a part of who we are, and fail to see when Jesus gives us a way out? Sickness can be more than a physical ailment. It can be a state of mind: An attitude, an addiction, a force of habit...These sicknesses can start to determine who we are, if we let them...and if we harbour them for so long, how easy is it then, to let go? What if this reluctant attitude was more prominent in the Gospels...

There is a sick man on the ground. He's feeling sorry for himself....

MAN Thirty eight years. If only I could get to the pool...there's no hope for me here. I may as well lay here...alone...thirty eight years, what's thirty eight more?

A passer by comes to help.

STRANGER Can I help, sir?

MAN Huh?

STRANGER Can I help you?

MAN Oh, no, son. You carry on. Get in that water.

STRANGER Well I can wait, you look like you need it more than me.

MAN Honestly son, I'll get there
eventually.

STRANGER But, sir. I can take you there
now -

MAN (full of self-pity) No.
Honestly, it's fine. I'll get there eventually.

STRANGER But sir -

MAN Leave me be.



Beat.



STRANGER Very well.



The passer by leaves.



MAN Thirty eight years...thirty
eight lonely, sick, dreadful years...



Jesus enters.



MAN It's a never ending cycle of despair and -

JESUS Friend.

MAN (looking down) Oh don't mind me.
Am I in your way?

JESUS Look at me.

MAN I'd move, but I'm sick.

JESUS Look at me.

MAN All right, I am sick, you know.
(He looks up) Thirty eight years I've been like
this...Eh, hang on a minute, are you that fella?



A look.




Jesus! Yes, Jesus! That's His Name. You are,
aren't you? Jesus Christ, Nazereth. You're Him,
aren't you? You're all they're talking about
round here, you know. Eh, I hear you're good at
calming down lunatics? Well there's this one
guy -

JESUS Will you be healed?

MAN and he's just absolutely - (he
looks up)...what?

JESUS Do you want to be healed?



Pause.



MAN What do you mean?

JESUS Do you want to be healed of your
illness?

MAN Well, of course I do. I'm at the
pool, aren't I? This is where you go if you want
to be healed.

JESUS Very well then.

Man I mean, I'm not just here for
the fun of it. Thirty eight years, I've been
like this! Thirty eight years! It's practically
half a century...

JESUS Today you can take up your bed,
and walk.

MAN You'd think I'd be what?



Beat.



JESUS You wanted healing?

MAN Well that's why I'm here. I'm
trying to get to the pool, but every time I take
a step forward, someone else gets in first.
There's no justice in that. None whatsoever. We
need some kind of queuing system.

JESUS You don't have to queue. You can
be made whole now.

MAN Haven't you seen the sign?



He points.



'First come, first serve'. That's all very well
and good but not if you're frail and sick like
me. I can't move. Not very fast anyway. You
should see some of them. Here every season, they
are...some have come two or three times since I
got here! There's no hope for someone like me,
I'll tell you that much.

Jesus Friend, I can heal you today.



Pause. The man laughs.



MAN ...you're not joking?



Jesus looks. The man starts to look
uncomfortable.



Right, well er...I think I should probably wait
my turn.

JESUS Take up your bed, and walk.

MAN No, no it's OK. I'm quite
content, thank you.

JESUS Have faith, and walk.

MAN Thank you very much, but I'm
quite happy.

JESUS But you've just been complaining
about your -

MAN Listen, I've been like this for
thirty eight years.

JESUS Yes, you said.

MAN If I've lasted that long, I
think I can last the time it'll take to reach
that water's edge.

JESUS If you would just have faith in
me today, then today you can be made whole.
There's no need for you to wait before you reach
the pool.

MAN No need to wait?

JESUS No, none.



Pause. The man thinks.



MAN Well I-I-I think I should. It's
only fair.

JESUS But I have come so you don't
have to.

MAN Well I'm sorry but other people
have waited, and so will I. I don't want to
tread on anybody's toes.

JESUS No, of course. You'd rather wait
until they carry you to the pool?

MAN Yes. Exactly, that's
(realising) oh very clever.

JESUS Why won't you trust me?

MAN Let me explain to you how this
works...There is a system. And that system says
I need to get to the water, if I want to be
healed. I will be carried there, by people,
because I can't possibly do it alone, and when I
get there I shall wait my turn. That's how I
will get healed. That's the way it works. First
come, first serve. End of.

JESUS Why won't you let me help you?

MAN I didn't ask for your help.

JESUS You've been crying for help for
thirty eight years.

MAN Yes, and it's on it's way! All I
need is people to carry me to the water and take
me there before anyone else gets in.

JESUS You don't need to be carried.

MAN How else will I get there?

JESUS I have said, you can take up
your bed and walk.

MAN 'Take up my bed and
walk'?...have you seen the state of me? No
offence but I'm OK, I don't need you're help. I
am quite happy to wait here for a miracle, thank
you very much. The angel will come, the water
will be stirred, and one day it will be my turn
to step in.

JESUS If you won't let go of your
crutch now, when I am here, then what makes you
think you will let go when you're at the water's
edge?

MAN Excuse me?

JESUS I've offered you healing today.

MAN How dare you!



Jewish authorities enter. One is clearly in
training...



JEW 1 Oi, oi.

JEW 2 Oi, oi.



Beat.



JEW 1 Now then.

JEW 2 Now then.

JEW 1 No, you're supposed to say
something different to me. Otherwise you make us
both look stupid.

JEW 2 Oh, I see...Ay, up.

JEW 1 What's going on here then?

JEW 2 What's going on...over here now?



Pause.



JEW 1 Just leave it to me. You make
notes.

JEW 2 Right, sorry boss.



Jew 2 starts frantically writing notes as he
follows the conversation.



JEW 1 This man bothering you, is he
sir?

MAN He wants me to carry my bed.

JEW 1 Oh, does he now?

MAN Yes, and I-I told him, I'm sick.

JESUS He can be free.

JEW 1 Oh, He has a voice. (To Jesus)
Think you're above the law now do you sir?

JESUS Above the law?

JEW 1 Trying to make this poor,
defenceless man carry his bed.

JEW 2 And on the Sabbath as well.

JEW 1 Yes, all right, thank you...and
on the Sabbath as well.

JEW 2 (making a note) Breaking.
Sanctity. Of. Sabbath.



The two Jews tut, and shake their heads.



MAN I couldn't do it if I tried.

JEW 1 Do what, Sir?

JEW 2 (muttering to Jew 1) Is he all
right?

MAN (answering) Carry my bed.

JEW 1 Oh I see. (To Jew 2) Yes. (To
Man) No, course you can't, look at you, you're a
cripple. (to Jew 2) Yes, he's fine. Just never
wants to leave is all. He's harmless, though.
I'll just tell him what he wants to hear and we
can go.

JESUS I've made it possible for him.

JEW 1 One at a time, please. Right.
What was that?

JESUS I have made it possible for him.

JEW 1 ...to what?

JESUS To take his bed, and walk.



Jew 1 looks at the man in disbelief and starts
to laugh. Jew 2 nervously laughs along.



JEW 1 (to Jew 2) We get all sorts
round here. (Patronising the man) It's OK, we're
sorting it now, sir. (To Jew 2) Note that
down, 'Making a mockery of the crippled'

JEW 2 (making a note) Making. Mockery.
Of. Physically. Handicapped?

JEW 1 Right yes, same difference,
whatever. (To Jesus) So, not doing too well
today, are we Jesus?

JEW 2 Not at all, if I may add.

JEW 1 You may not add, thank you, I
have this one...(to Jesus) thought you'd upset
the locals, did you Jesus?

JESUS I came to his aid, when he
called for help.

MAN I did nothing of the sort.

JEW 1 The man denies it.

JESUS He lives in denial.

JEW 1 So you're calling him a liar?

JEW 2 (muttering, making notes) Pants.
On. Fire.

MAN I'm a sick man...

JEW 1 This man told you, he is
perfectly comfortable in his crippled state. He
doesn't need you pushing you're way in.

JESUS I'm not forcing anything. I'm
not going to force him.

JEW 1 He will receive his healing when
he is ready.

JESUS He's ready now.

JEW 1 And there will be none of your
unlawful intervention necessary. Good day.

JEW 2 TTFN.

JEW 1 What?

JEW 2 Ta Ta For Now...?

JEW 1 How did I get stuck with you?.



They go to leave.



...it's like working with a dense parrot.



They leave, muttering as they exit. Jesus turns
to leave. He looks back at the man.



JESUS You know, you cannot expect to
be free, if you won't even let me in to help.



Jonathan Boustead 2010





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