(Opening Scene. A young girl letís out a cry in terror. The following dialogue is offstage, heard over the sound system)
LITTLE GIRL: No, Dad. (Crying) Daddy? No, no, no. (Sobbing) Mom, mom do something.
(An older womanís voice is now heard. She is also incredibly upset.)
WOMEN: Stop that man! Someone stop him! No. (Sobbing) Noooooooooooo!
(Police sirens are heard in the distance. Lights come up slowly on a court scene. On stage left sits a little girl. She is clearly visible to the audience. She is sitting with a group of observers. Sheís sitting in the first row beside two other people. She sits directly behind the prosecuting attorney and the women sitting beside the prosecuting lawyer, her mother. They are the people to the voices heard before. Theyíre look very distraught. On center stage sits the defendant and his lawyer. The defendant is a bitter, mean looking man. Heís scruffy and un kept. His face shows no remorse. An official looking man, representing the jury enters and walks to the judgeís seat.)
JUDGE: (to man) Has the jury reached a verdict?
JURY OFFICIAL: They have your honor.
(The man hands over a piece of paper to the judge. The judge reads it over. The judge looks up and looks towards the defendant.)
JUDGE: Will the defendant please rise.
(The handcuffed defendant pushes himself up and stands proudly.)
JUDGE: On the charges of rioting the members of the jury find the defendant guilty. (Prosecutor smiles an encouraging smile towards his client, the woman)
On the charges of first-degree murder the members of the jury find the defendant (pause) guilty. (An out cry of rejoicing is heard throughout the courtroom from the crowd and the prosecuting table.)The jury herby sentences the defendant to punishment by death.
(Prosecuting attorney shakes hands with his very thankful client, the women. The women and her daughter embrace in a hug. Guards come up and get the defendant. The defendant gives a ďlookĒ towards the daughter. A creepy slow smile spreads across his face. He leave with the guards .)
Lights out. Every one exits. Lights come up on stage right. Lights are dim, you see a lone prisoner in a prison cell, lying on a bed, an ugly tattered cot. Thereís another cot beside him. The prisoner looks extremely unkempt and angry. You hear the sound of two sets of footsteps, walking down a hall. Theyíre getting closer and closer. The footsteps stop as two figure walk on stage right. Itís a guard with the defendant who was sent to jail. They approach the cell and the guard pushes him in.
GUARD: Welcome home. (looks inside the cell). Sorry thereís no welcoming party. (The cell mate looks up and looks over at the defendant. The defendant stumbles in and the guard uncuffs him. The defendant goes over to his cot, he sits down looking lost as he looks around at his new home. Thereís a long uncomfortable pause. The cell mate has lain back down once again.)
DEFENDANT: (mustering up the courage to speak. Putting on a ďtoughĒ exterior) So, what do you do for fun in here?
CELL MATE: (Pause. He speaks very slowly, eerily and with no expression) I lie here in a cold, dark cell and watch as my life passes before my eyes, with nothing I can do to stop the meaningless hours tick away my life.
DEFENDANT: (unsure) Oh. Thatís deep (he says with a smirk) So, why are you in here? (No answer. He speaks with a little more force) Did you hear me? I asked you ifÖ
CELL MATE: I heard you! (pause, threatening) You watch how you speak to me! (resuming control) I donít believe in answering pointless questions. The only reason you want to know what my crime is, is so you can brag about what you did and how it was the most daring crime ever committed by mankind. Iím really not into pointless chatter, as it is just another reminder of how worthless my life has really become.
DEFENDANT: Man, what is wrong with you. (pause, looks around.) These bars really got to your head?
CELL MATE: No answer
DEFENDANT: (pause) I should be the one depressed. Iím the one who has to endure this place for years. Get beat, whipped and spat on until they finally decide to execute me. At least you have some hope.
CELL MATE: Right. (smirks) Hope. That word doesnít exist in my vocabulary.
DEFENDANT: (pause) Do you think itís too late to ask if I can switch rooms with someone a little moreÖupbeat.
CELL MATE: Ah, donít worry. Todayís my last day here.
DEFENDANT: Then why are you so upset. I would kill to get where you are. Funny how that works. Killed to get in, would kill to get out. (He laughs at his own joke.)
CELL MATE: (looks disgusted by him) Youíre sick.
DEFENDANT: Well, obviously Iím not the only ďsickĒ one or I would be all alone in this cell, isnít that right?
CELL MATE: Congratulations on your incredibly keen observation.
DEFENDANT: (pause) So, what are you going to do when you get out.
CELL MATE: I donna know. What does it matter?
DEFENDANT: Freedom doesnít matter?
CELL MATE: Look where I am. Freedom canít come after this. Iíll still have the memories, the scars, and the people who have lived for the single reason, to see me die. No prisoner is ever free, they just donít where handcuffs anymore.
DEFENDANT: I donít get you at all. Youíre walking out those prison doors today. How much more freer can you possible be? You get to enjoy life, maybe even for the first time?!
CELL MATE: Who cares though? Whatís the point? You live here for a while. Make mistakes and then die. Really, whatís the point? Why not just skip this whole part where we live and go straight to death. Life, it just Öseems so pointless.
DEFENENT: (sarcastically) What. Trying to figure out the meaning of life before youíre entrance into the world?
CELL MATE: I guess you could say that.
DEFENDANT: (confidently) I figure itís like this. Weíre born and live a few years. How weíre treated and what we experience usually dictates how and what weíll do with the rest of our lives. So, if weíre dished out good things and have a happy childhood with parents who donít beat the living tar out of you. Friends who arenít druggies and live in a nice part of town, youíll end up pretty much O.K. Basically, we just kind of pass through life and do whatever comes our way. It doesnít really matter what it is. All that matters is that you live.
CELL MATE. You sound just like I did twenty years ago.
DEFENENT: You losing your spunk?
CELL MATE: (angrily) Iím not losing anything! Iíve just grown up. Before I came in here, I saw people live lives that made were happy and good and with what they came from it shouldíve have happened to them.
(Thereís an uncomfortable pause between the two. Both look away from each other. Both are angry. All of a sudden a slow smile creeps across defendant's face)
DEFENTENT: Oh, man. You shouldíve seen the look on that motherís face when I blew her yappyís husband life away. I donít think youíre theory of ďpeople can live even though theyíve had it toughĒ will work on her.
CELL MATE: (disgusted) Youíre sick.
DEFENENT: (shrugs his shoulders) Maybe.
CELL MATE: (Heís upset.) Youíve wrecked your life to prove your theory. Thatís really wise.
DEFENTENT: Whatís to wreck? (laughing) It wasnít worth that much anyway.
CELL MATE: If life isnít worth much and if what we do really doesnít matter, then why do guys like us end up here? Thereís got to be some reason for life or people wouldnít try so hard to protect it.
DEFENTETN: That, my friend, is only a matter of opinion.
CEWLL MATE: Iím not your friend.
DEFENDANT: Loosen up.
CELL MATE: I just want to know what they know. I canít believe that Iíve lived on this earth for 45 years and have never felt like Iíve figured anything out.
DEFENDANT: Oh come-on. Robbing the rich is what gives the rest of us inspiration.
CELL MATE: Donít say that.
DEFENDANT: Itís true.
CELL MATE: I know. (soberly) Just donít remind me.
DEFENDANT: Man, you sound like youíre going to die. Youíre going to be free in a couple of hours. Be thankful that you can have a life. (depressingly) Mineís gone.
CELL MATE: A life? Donít you listen to anything? Thereís no such thing as having a life. (pause) Itís allÖ meaningless.
DEFENDANT: Well, I agree with that, but I at least gave my life some sort of meaning by accomplishing what I set out to do.
CELL MATE: What was that?
DEFENDANT: To turn crowds of people against the rulers who force conformity on everyone and...
CELL MATE: (looks at him like the guyís crazy) Are you talking about trying to overthrow the government?
DEFENTENT: If thatís what you call rioting. (pause) And second thing I set out to do was to never let anyone get in the way of anything I wanted.
CELL MATE: What do you call jail then? Home free? Doesnít this come in the way of your ďlife goals?Ē
DEFENDANT: No. This situation Iím in now is just the results of me achieving my goals. Some get medals and schools named after them. I get jail. But you just wait. People will remember my names for centuries to come.
CELL MATE: How can those be life goals when they caused you to end your life early?
DEFENDANT: Sometimes you just got to sacrifice for stuff you really want.
CELL MATE: Was it worth it? Giving up your freedom, your life?
DEFENDANT: When you want something, no one else will help you get there. Itís all up to you. If you wonít get yourself to that ideal place in life and accomplish your dreams, you wonít get there. In this world you canít trust anyone. So, in answer to your question. Itís not only worth giving up my freedom, but I have to do it to survive. Like I said, youíre in this life by yourself.
CELL MATE: Why does it have to be that way?
DEFENDANT: Thatís what lifeís all about.
CELL MATE: (dumbfounded) Living day to day, with no one to help you, no one to encourage you. Just fight Ďtil death?
DEFENDANT: Yep. Iím not about to give control of any part of my life to some incompetent person or job.
CELL MATE: So, how is it that when I get the most ďcontrolĒ of my life it leads me to here?
DEFENDANT: Itís the price to pay for freedom.
CELL MATE: This isnít living. This isnít freedom.
DEFENDANT: (No answer)
CELL MATE: (quietly) I want freedom more than anything.
DEFENDANT: Only, a little while longer.
CELL MATE: (looking off into the distance) Yeah. (pause) Do you think itís possible for someone to be committed to another human here on this earth? To be there for you, during everything you face in life.
DEFENDANT: I think thatís wishful thinking.
CELL MATE: Before I die I want to experience one moment of freedom.
DEFENDANT: Whatís freedom to you?
CELL MATE: To live with meaning. Without constantly failing. Not having to face all my problems. Find love. Find hope, if it exists. (pause) Freedom to live in peace. (longingly) I want it so bad.
DEFENDANT: Donít we all. We all suffer from having that mythical notion that somehow itíll be all right. That something will happen to make us all better and then weíll get to live everyday surrounded by happiness and contentment, but it doesnít exist. Especially with guys like us.
CELL MATE: Why?
DEFENDANT: Because weíre selfish. We donít deserve it.
CELL MATE: (resigns) Thatís the thing that I always come back to. Always wishing it wasnít true.
DEFENDANT: You come back to it because it is true. Face it. Weíre living out the consequences of what we did. Lifeís never going to be good or happy or wonderful for us. We donít deserve it. Final
CELL MATE: (Turing away from Defendant) What do you know.
DEFENDANT: Enough to know that Iím not going to waste my life, what little I have left, wishing for some miracle to happen. Waiting for my ďsecond chanceĒ at life.
CELL MATE: So thatís it? Lifeís over. Nothing more. We messed up, game over.
DEFENDANT: This whole thing called ďlifeĒ is practically game over the moment weíre born.
(Pause. Both start to do their own things)
CELL MATE: If thereís no point, then why are we here? Why are we serving some sentence if it all means nothing? Why canít we just do whatever and go on with life, without consequences?
DEFENENT: (resigned) I donít know.
CELL MATE: I didnít start off like this. All angry at the world.
DEFENDANT: Whatís your story?
CELL MATE: I got stepped on, burned by friends, rejected by my family. I didnít have a chance at living a normal life after my teen age years.
DEFENDANT: (nodding in agreement) I know it.
CELL MATE: Whatís the use of always living by someone elseís ideals when youíll never reach their unrealistic expectations. Then when youíve worked your butt off trying to gain their respect, theyíll chew you up and spit you out. Leave you to the dogs. (pause) So I gave up. I figured thereís no hope. Everyoneís a born failure doomed to mess up.
DEFENDANT: (grinning wickedly) At least you messed up with style.
CELL MATE: (emotionless) I had no style. (pause) Iím not proud about what Iíve done.
DEFENDANT: But you said yourself. Guys like us never had a chance to live a normal life.
CELL MATE: Then how do some make it in this life?
DEFENDANT: What do you mean?
CELL MATE: How do people go on, in living this life? Living with a smile on their faces. (pause. Gets confused look on his face) Itís like they had some sort of hope for being here.
DEFENDANT: Youíre talking about something that doesnít exist.
CELL MATE: (angrily) Donít tell me it doesnít exist. Iíve seen it in others.
DEFENENT: (insulted) Sorry.
(pause. Both get back doing their own things.)
DEFENDANT: I donít know why youíre upset. You get a chance to find (sarcastically) the ďtrue meaning of life and happiness and hopeĒ in just a short time.
CELL MATE: Stop reminding me.
DEFENDANT: (angrily) At least you get another chance at life. Iím condemned. My life is over how I once knew it. My future is this: A death display available for view, in front of countless bystanders. Be thankful you get another chance.
CELL MATE: You donít get it, do you? Once youíve been in here, itís a death sentence. No matter what I do, what Iíve done will never be erased. My past wonít ever go away. My life will forever be a prison. Iím in bondage with the very thing that I thought would bring me freedom. And now, here I am wanting something more than I ever have wanted before in my life and itís unattainable.
DEFENDANT: (confused) A happy life?
CELL MATE: No, a life of purpose, of hope. Something that will give my life meaning.
DEFENDANT: Stop dreaming.
CELL MATE: Donít you want that?
DEFENDANT: I learned a long time ago that first; You canít trust anyone Ďcause theyíre no good. Second, dreams never come true. I wanted a good life too. I wanted to have a wife who loved me and respected me. I wanted a dad who actually told me I mattered to him to some degree. A friend who didnít cheat me every time he was given the chance, because I was too naÔve to think that people really were completely selfish. I wanted a good job which gave my life some sense of importance and satisfaction. But people fail you and life never goes the way you planned and hoped and wished. Then you finally give out what has been dished to you and what do you get? A death sentence. No second chances. And the way I look at it that death sentence has been over me ever since I was born. That purposeful, meaningful life where someone cares about you doesnít exist.
CELL MATE: So, what youíre saying is you think itís too late.
DEFENDANT: Whatís too late?
CELL MATE: The chance to live.
(A GUARD ENTERS THE STAGE AND APPROACHES THE CELL. HE POINTS AT CELL MATE.)
GUARD: Itís time to come with me.
CELL MATE: (Looks at defendant) I guess this is it. Nice knowing yaí.
GUARD: (looking at defendant) Youíre going to have to come with me as well.
GUARD: Youíve been released.
DEFENDANT: (Shocked) What?
GUARD: I have orders to let you go. Get up.
DEFENDANT: Why are you dong this?
GUARD: Itís not me. A man named Jesus of Nazareth is going to take your place. Hurry up Barrabus and get outta here. Why weíre letting a murderer out on the loose isnít something Iíd ever think of doing. Youíre a lucky guy. (to cell mate) Come on. Youíre timeís up.
(Lights out. During lights out you hear sounds of nails being pounded into wood. You hear scoffing shouts of ďYouíre the King of Jews?Ē He saved others. Why canít he save himself? You hear the sound of the Guardsí voice that gave Barabus freedom. The Guard says ďWant a drink? You thirsty? Iíll give you a drink. You hear water (vinegar) being thrown. Lights now come on. In the center of the stage is Jesus hanging from the cross. Two thieves are hanging beside Him. One on the left and the other on the right. The thief on stage left is the Cell Mate.)
THEIF: (angrily and weakly) Arenít you the Christ? If you really are Him why donít you save yourself and us?
CELL MATE: (angrily and weakly) Donít speak to Him like that. Me and you deserve what weíre getting, but Heís innocent. Heís taking the punishment for something He didnít do. (to Jesus) Please. I know itís probably too late, but when you go to your kingdom will you let me come there too?
JESUS: Weíll be together today, I promise. (Cell Mate looks down as Jesus says the words to him. He feels overwhelmed)
CELL MATE: (almost to tears. Slowly lifts his head to face Jesus.) Thank you (Turns to face the audience, bows his head and dies.)
VOICE OFF STAGE: ďÖwhen we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodlyÖ.God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Ē Romans 5:6b&5:8