Short Dramas and Plays
THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (Act I Scene 1b plus)
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Christine: Finney, are you all right?
Phineas: Christine! I canít believe youíre here!
Christine: I got a pass under the Humane Act for prisoners. At least thereís some sense left in this world.
Phineas: Christine! I canít believe theyó(suddenly stops) How timely that the Academia of Bureaucracy should see fit your visitation
Christine: Finney, what are you talking about?
Phineas: You expect me to believe you just filled out a form and someone waved their magic wand and you get visitation?
Christine: Finney? Whatís gotten into you? Of course it wasnít that easy, Iíve been waiting for months to get clearance. I had to engage an Advocate of my own just to cut through all the red tape. Youíre not an easy person to get access to, Phineas Galen.
Phineas: My point exactly!
Christine: Finney! This is your wife! You can be paranoid about everyone else, and with good reason I suspect, But youíll not train a suspicious eye on me, Phineas Galen. Not after what Iíve gone through to get here. I thought youíd be happy to see me, but this is not the sort of reception I was expecting for all my efforts.
Phineas: ChristineÖIím, Iím sorry. Forgive me. That was, unforgivable.
Christine: What have they done to you, Finney?
Phineas: Iím not at liberty to talk about proceedings, for your sake, honey. ButÖ I just had a ďvisitationĒ from Walt.
Christine: Walter Darby?
Phineas: Yes, poor soul.
Christine: What happened to Walter?
Phineas: Heís just a victim of circumstance and his own bad judgment, thatís all. He signed on to work for the Court, and pretended to talk to me as a ďdear old friendĒ
Christine: Walter? That weasel!
Phineas: He feels bad enough about it, honey. I sniffed him out when I first laid eyes on him. Heís a terrible snitch. Maybe he could justify it in his conscience because he KNEW heíd do so poorly at it. Or maybe thatís WHY he did so poorly at it, for conscience, and friendship sake. Donít judge him too harshly.
Christine: I suppose youíre right. I guess youíve had more opportunity to think about it.
Phineas: Thinking is the ONLY thing I can do hin here that isnít possibly hazardous to my well being. And it wonít be long until what I THINK will become evidence, too, I should suspect.
Christine: No wonder you thought Ió
Phineas: I only thought that because Iíve had time enough to think about worst case scenarios and nothing else. My wife abandoning me, my four and five year old kids disowning me, my wife working for the Court just to spite me for all Iíve done to her. Itís all I can do to keep from wrapping a noose around my own neck.
Christine: Oh, Finney.
Phineas; (pause) I donít suppose your Humane Act allows you to be on the other side of this wall?
Christine: No, Iím afraid not.
Phineas: (bitterly) Itís hardly ďhumaneĒ, then. But at least I get to see you and hear you. Thatís something, I guess.
Christine: Itíll have to do for now. Well, if you canít tell me whatís going on with you, at least I can let you know about whatís going on out here. Belinda and Justinne are doing just fine, though they miss their daddy very much.
Phineas: What did you tell them?
Christine: I told them the truth, Phineas, as much as they can understand. Daddy has to answer to some very important people about something extraordinary that happened to him, though for our protection, daddy canít tell us exactly what it was that happened to him, though I donít know why he canít tell his own wife from which he never kept a secret before, and what could be so important that a whole Court of strangers can hear about but I canít!
Phineas: (pause) You, uh, youíve been holding on to that for some time, havenít you?
Christine. Yes. Iím sorry, but itís hard Finney.
Phineas: Iím sorry, too, Christine. If there were any other way that I could make sure you and especially the kids werenít dragged into this, I would.
Christine: Canít I be used as a character witness to help clear your name? Something? Isnít there anything I can do?
Phineas: Christine, the moment you are used to defend me, is the moment they can use you against me. And youíll hate yourself for the things youíd have to say. Iíve seen the Inquirer at work, honey. Truth as you and I see it take on a whole new face when itís in the hands of these experts at manipulating words and meanings. I have to use all of my wits just to make sure they donít make it look like was planning all along to use my career as a soapbox to spread misinformation and cloud the Accepted Models. I simply acknowledg my name in Court and I get chills that Iíve given them something to use against me. My nerves areÖ I get so tiredÖ one slip and Iíve lost you and the girls foreverÖ
Christine: Finney, is it that serious?
Phineas: They want to put me away, Christine. I can feel it. Itís like theyíve hand picked the Academia seated at the Court of Trials to reside over this specific Inquiry, just for me. It may only be my paranoia, but nothing about these proceedings seem at all like it appears to be. Even my Advocateó
Christine: Best you not say anything more, then. For while Iím not wired for sound, you know these walls have ears, and they just may want to use me so that you will let your guard down.
Phineas: (chuckles) Now whoís being paranoid?
Christine: I just want my husband back in one piece so we can live our life the way we always have, again.
Phineas: (sighs) I fear those days are long over, Chris. I donít think weíll ever be the same again.
Christine: Then weíll take stock of our situation, gather ourselves up, and move forward, Phineas Galen. You, me and our kids.
Phineas: Youíre a rock, Christine. No, seeing you doesnít make my guard come down. It only strengthens my resolve to get through this, because Iíve got a life waiting for me when it is all done and over with. I think thatís why they sent Walt. I donít think they couldíve held up your visit any longer, and so they tried a last ditch effort to catch me at my lowest before sending in the cavalry. I can live again now. Iíve got a renewed perspective -- Iím a husband and a father, not just a Subject of some crazy, sordid Inquiry.
Christine: We miss you , Finn. The girls. Me too.
Phineas: And all this time its been tearing me up inside wondering how youíve been, the girls, and I canít be there, and what I would trade to get out of hereó
Christine: Seeing you has helped me, too Finney. But be careful when you start thinking of bargaining. I wonít have my husband back at the cost of his soul, or his integrity. Thatís what I love about you. You were brave enough to speak your mind, not to deny what you went through, whatever it was, and Iíll not stand by and have you trade all that just because youíve been unfairly sequestered for this Inquiry. Do you hear me, Phineas Galen?
Phineas: (laughs) Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.
Christine: Thatís the Phineas Galen I know. Stubborn, obstinate, forthright, and submissive all at once.
Phineas: ďYes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.Ē How I LOVE saying that after so many months of ďI cannot say, InquirerĒ or ďTo the best of my knowledge, AcademiaĒ. ďYes, dear, WHATEVER you say, dearÖĒ
Christine: Hmm. I might have to get you into Inquiries more often, then.
Phineas: Donít you even jest! Iíd tickle you if not for this invisible wall.
Christine: I knowó
Officer: Visitation time has been cancelled.
Christine: What? Weíve only just started! I have a writ that allowsó
Officer: All activity has been cancelled pending the arrival of the High Academia of Theology.
Christine: The High Academia? I protest in the strongest possible--
Officer: You may file for another extension through the registrars office and your Advocate, but my orders are to clear the Subject for the High Academia of Theology.
Phineas: More scheduling maneuvers, Iím sure.
Christine: One more minute, then. Please!
Officer: My orders are firm. You are to vacate now or face action against yourself.
Phineas: Go, Chris! Donít mess with these people.
Christine: But Finney!
Phineas: My love to the kids. Go! Now!
Christine: You come back in one piece, Phineas Galen, promise me.
Phineas: I promise.
Officer: This way, please, maíam.
Christine: And Iíll come back to see you,
Finney. That I promise. Next time with the kids or someone will pay--
Officer: Now, Mrs. Galen.
(exit OFFICER & CHRISTINE)
Phineas: (quietly) Christine.
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