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The Spiceman Cometh
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(Besides injecting humour into the episode, the piece aims to give some biblical instruction about what led up to this point. What is meant to come over above all else are two things: God keeps his promise - if after some delays - and the old couple love each other very much indeed)
ABE -- Sarah! Sarah! They’re here! I mean, HE’s here, I’m sure of it!
SAR -- But he’s not due till next week - tell him I’m not ready!
ABE -- Who? What? What are talking about, woman?
SAR -- The spiceman, he comes next week.
ABE -- The spiceman? I keep telling you, you piece of tent rag, that God is not a spiceman, he’s an almighty, invisible being.
SAR -- I know who God is, Abe. And who you calling a piece of tent rag?
ABE -- I'm sorry, love, I'm just so excited!
SAR -- Why, who’s come then?
ABE -- Who’s come?
SAR -- Who’s out there if it’s not the spice man?
ABE -- How should I know?
SAR -- Well go and find out! (exit Abe)
(to audience) He’s all right really, is old Abe. He’s just getting on a bit. He’s older than he looks you know. No, really, how old would you say he is? What? 60? No way! 70? Not even close. Next year, he’ll notch up his century. It doesn’t bear thinking about - and dear dear, what does that make me? I dread to think! We’ve been past it so long, me and Abe, we’ve forgotten what it is we’re supposed to have passed!
ABE -- (rushes in just like at the start) Sarah! They’re here - I mean HE’s here!
SAR -- Abe, sit down here and get your breath.
ABE -- Prepare the finest meal, the finest, d’you hear? And the finest liquor. Get me that locust gin we’ve been saving, it should be exquisite by now. Nothing but the best will do for these guests - for HIM! (she brings him a bottle of liquor and beakers on a tray. He grabs the bottle and takes a vast gulp.) Aaaahhh, that’s a fine, fine bit of locust! (takes another) - I thought we were saving this? What’s the occasion?
SAR -- It’s for your special guests.
ABE -- And who might THEY be?
SAR -- You’d better go and see, hadn’t you? (exit Abe)
SAR -- (to audience) Abe’s always been the same: he gets excited and then he starts forgetting things. I wonder who these folks are? I’ve not seen Abe this worked up since .. well, it’s been 12 or 13 years now. What am I saying, it’s got to be 14 years cos Ishmael has turned 13. Abe was getting very depressed about having no son to inherit. Without a son, you see, all our wealth would have passed to one of our workers. Well, call me a snob but I didn’t like that idea. And so we got Ishmael 13 years ago. His mother is Hagar, one of my slave girls. And his father, well, his father is dear old Abraham. Strange custom, you may think, but it is OUR custom and at least he got the heir he needed.
ABE -- (rushing in) It’s the LORD, it really is the LORD God Almighty!
SAR -- What, out there? Outside our tent? Can I look? (goes and peeks outside)
ABE -- Well, what do you see?
SAR -- I see two travellers sitting under the tree, having their feet washed. But where’s the Lord God almighty?
ABE -- (strides over and looks out) Can't you see, you twisted old tent pole? He’s standing by the tree ... well, he’s not really standing, he’s just .. THERE by the tree - can’t you see his glory dripping like gold off the branches?
SAR -- I can see the glaring sun - and who you calling a twisted old tent pole?
ABE -- I'm sorry, but He’s got the most aMAZing news for us! Good news - REALLY good news. Really, really good news. (pause)
SAR -- You’ve forgotten it haven’t you?
ABE -- Well of course I have - can’t you see how excited I am, you piece of second- hand turban cloth?
SAR -- Well go and FETCH your aMAZing good news (Abe exits - shouts after him:)
And who you calling second-hand turban cloth? (back to the audience) It’s the heat that’s doing it, I reckon - making him so excited, I mean. It’s not natural. I blame the spicemen ... anyway, you probably think I’m awful, not taking it more seriously, but I think you’ll understand when I fill you in. 25 years ago, you see, me and Abe were really settled in a place called Haran. Abe’s father had died there, so we had roots. But then the Lord God started talking to Abe. Abe had just turned 75 at this point, but when the Lord said he’d got to move, that was it. Our household, our livestock, our possessions, everything, we had to pack it all up and move. You see, God promised to bless Abraham and make him into a great nation. Well, I ask you. But Abe swallowed it whole. Canaan was the place, the Promised Land, and -
ABE -- (rushes in) Sarah, the wine, I forgot the wine (goes to rush out, rushes back) Oh, I think this is it, this really is IT! (rushes out)
SAR -- Well Canaan was all right until the famine, and then we had to move again, down to Egypt. Years later when we returned to Canaan, God started up with his promises again. Canaan would all be Abraham’s, well at least it would belong to his descendants, descendants who would be as countless as the grains of dust in the earth. To a couple as ancient as us who were childless, I thought this was a bit much. But not for Abe, he believed it.
ABE -- Sarah! Make some of your fabulous bread - use the finest flour! And kill the fattest calf! (grabs a second bottle of locust gin) Such news! Such news! (exit)
SAR -- (shouts) Your guests will have the finest supper this side of the Chaldeans! (to audience) And then came the war. And Abe surprised us all. He whipped the combined armies of 4 tribal kings. He won the war, but it didn’t win him a son, just another promise! God promised him THIS time descendants as countless as the stars in the sky. And Abe believed him again. I didn’t say anything, like that was the fourth promise in 12 years and we weren’t getting any younger! No, I said nothing, but that was when I had a word with my slave-girl Hagar, so at least Abe has Ishmael. And now, 25 years since God moved us all out of Haran, it looks like promise number five is on the way. I’m 90 now, Abe’s 99 - can you picture us having a child? If it weren’t so tragic it’d be hilarious! (stifles her laughter)
ABE -- (suddenly appears at the door) You LAUGHED!
SAR -- No I didn’t!
ABE -- Yes you did - God heard you laughing inSIDE, so now we’ve got to call our son Isaac!
SAR -- Instead of Abraham I suppose? Well, that's fine by me. Much as I love you, I think one Abraham in this family is enough thank you!
ABE -- Why you - you -
SAR -- Yes? What am I this time?!
ABE -- You - you are the best wife a man could ever have. Come here! (she goes to him and they embrace).
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