Ultra

 [Plays], Ultra  Comments Off on Ultra
Jul 082020
 
Racy adaptation/theft of Sophocles' lightning-lit play 'Electra.'

 A VERSE TRAGEDY

 SCOLDING SOPHOKLES' ELECTRA

 TO A NEWNESS



       ULTRA

       renewed by

       GREGG GLORY


People spend their lives trying to exercise control
  over others, or trying to give up control of themselves.

No philosopher eats his metaphysics.

All material education consists of learning how to manipulate this or that:
Hands On.
All spiritual instruction can be said to consist of the injunction: Hands off!


 KLYTIE       the Old Bitch
 AEGIE        the Lover Boy
 CHRYS        the Bullshitter
 ULTRA        the Whiner
 ORESTES      the Young Bastard
 TEACH        the Old Fuck



Top^


ULTRA'S FIRST STATEMENT TO THE AUDIENCE

ULTRA I stand naked in front of you. I can't lie to you for one second. This is my story you will see. I see it as one of redemption, Justice. But how you will see it, my thousand eyes transfixing this darkness, I do not know, and I cannot say. I only know that you have entered it, my story. You will feel it in my blood as I feel it. I do not accept that any distance can exist between us. Not any distance in space. Not any distance in culture. Not any distance in time. Not any distance in language. Not in blood. Not in hope. You are me, in this. Who you will be afterward even you do not know. I stand naked in front of you. I can't lie to you for one second. Oh, my thousand eyes, my thousand eyes.... Top^

SCENE ONE

[ORESTES and TEACH among high rocks.] ORESTES Vision is tested at these rocks. Visibility nil. Anxious air. A mist hazarding the white peaks, all blasted and devoid of any flourishing touch of nature. Seems to have been for all time, this bareness, this timelessness. Was it always like this, Teach? TEACH Long as grown boys have attempted to repeat the careful words their fathers tried to tell them while they crawled; a long time, maybe. ORESTES Dawn's obscured. Night's infiltrations linger. Tell me: at daybreak, when christened by the uninterrupted glory of the sun, how is it then, this land beneath me? Doesn't burn then like the visioned Justice? TEACH Nope. Stays bleak like it is now. Same bleakness held in front of men's eyes. ORESTES No change from shade to sunlight? What a parable on inconstancy these changeless rocks reveal. Hold still, heart, and let a steady purpose roll you to a rock that may run these mazes unamazed and find the finish you imagined at the start. Say, that marketplace over there, in that ditch of rock, resembles what you told me about the Lukeum; but is that it? Is that the Lukeum, Teach? TEACH Used to be. The wolf-god Apollo charmed the spot, but the spell's faded. Only traders and merchantmen bare their canines to each other there now. ORESTES That's right. And that big temple on the left, what's that? Got to be Hera's holy place, right? TEACH Right. Everybody's heard of that place. The wife of Zeus, and she can bitch your fate if you're not careful. Jealous of her rites and due praises, she is. Like any wife. ORESTES Then we must be near where my father landed home from the war. Is that scythe of beach it? TEACH Damn, but you've licked up your learning. That's it. ORESTES And down below this curve of earth I see busy Mycenae, a trade capitol, barterers for all things gold; whatever human ingenuity deems transposable, there is bought and sold. A wind's chasing up from the enfolding ocean; it steals the soft mist from the hillside. TEACH Salt tang in the sniffing air here, very full, very full. Salt preservative keeps meats eatable, and many things past disuse. These grievances we carry, salted by our care, come to an appropriate port. ORESTES Now it stands clear in glittery miniature, there, in a thin wrinkle of the mountain, white as any bone, Pelops' palace, my home. I was born in that fleck of light. TEACH That's where I picked you off your dad's bloody body. Had you straight from your sister's hands, you know, and packed us into exile. ORESTES Yes. That's where the murder was done. A dirty story. TEACH Time's helped us circle back to your Dad's wet footsteps, from Trojan blood-sweats to this cliff; war-exhausted, war-driven, war-enduring, he limped here, thinking only of home and his sweet wife. ORESTES Damn her. TEACH And she's still your mother. Nothing simple in looking at her and putting the knife through. Braver than you have gone weak, a failed hand spatting away tears and not mopping up blood-stain; so swallow hard before you start. This business requires a finish, not a botch. ORESTES Let her maternity rot with her stinking bones in eternity. TEACH All the rites must be obeyed. ORESTES Kill her! TEACH Prayer insures good luck and success. ORESTES Fuck her! TEACH First, go to your Dad's tomb, pray, get the gods on our side. ORESTES I'll bury her! TEACH Give over with the proper libations and all that. ORESTES Dawn has come in blood-floods. Enough clear light to see my mother's face by. [TEACH hands ORESTES a dagger.] TEACH Here's a mirror for that face. A gift from a loving son to a mother beloved. ORESTES She will see herself in this. TEACH Fifteen years walking here, and this your last chance to wrestle back thy primacy of place, get the glory your Dad intended should be yours. Fifteen years the length of wait imposed by law, remember, before contested kingships cement to certainties. ORESTES These hourglass laws shape our acts, each sand grain ticking us forward to what's next. TEACH The process, the process, all things change but that, the way learned things get stuck in your head and stay there, make you do what you've got to, the process always staying the same, men performing acts boys get spanked for, seen it forever, women growing into their mothers, same belt cinched about fresh hips, Fate binding all things close that'd fray and rot otherwise. No forgetfulness in nature baby acorn rising into an oak, and not otherwise, flimsy birch seeding-out like offspring, spacious grapes shooting out tendril after tendril and every vintage tasting the same, or near enough, same stock same result. Vengeance dawns, and a human day grows up; wrap your man-sized sinews in veined revenge around the killer's throat! All the things I've seen, I've taken to nursing hatred, see the sense of getting even, nursed a solid hatred in your tenderness, boy, since from your father's peaceful garden you were bodily ripped. I thumbed the seed of your selfhood in new dirt, but loved it with the old blood, the old stories raining down day and night to bloom in dreams as evilly as nightshade. Sweet the scent! Baleful moon, nacreous sun, loom over all our plans, our hopes! [ULTRA wails or shrieks.] TEACH What high wailing was that? ORESTES A shrieking ghost. TEACH Restless dead. We came for them, and for the living also, settle the old scores, right things up in the gods' eyes, make some sense out of the fate we're doled. Some unquiet shade may be about. ORESTES Let's find out. TEACH No, no. Due sacrifice first, first business for you to go out on. Hike on over to your Dad's spot, pour the libation, quiet things down on the other side. I have to go into town and deceive the slaughterers. Nobody'll be looking for you if they're convinced you're dead. ORESTES All right. Top^

SCENE TWO

[ULTRA, at palace steps] ULTRA Sorrow! Sorrow hard-bitten and unending; grief's mountains do not yield to sun's kiss, all heavenly redemption in living love's cancelled, gentle rains by bitterness are gripped each tear turned to frost-nail, increasing the unendurable mountain, dark weight added to blackness; the grief, the grief! O father, o father, fallen between the still pillars of our miserable house; you, who raised them up crumpled like trash at their feet, wild with weeping, war-stoniness gone out of you, screeching for mercy, your man's voice out of register, hysterical through your gray beard, thinking to end your days in kingly peace. But, see, Aegisthus stands fast above you, ax across his shoulders brass-sharp as sunlight, inevitable as nightfall, in his grin no tinder of mercy, only lust-sparks burning for the rose-hipped bed, the sex of your wife! Your bed, your bed defiled! How many times? I conceived there, and my brother also, soft words in the house when we were growing up, how many caresses saw I and Orestes, saw us flow between you and your caroling wife, father and mother harmonious as sun and moon all the days of our childhood, bringing us up to love the gods and accept what's given. Ah God! Ah me! Grief! Grief! Night after night tearing my heart out, each star a rip in my skin, forcing light where I can barely abide midnight. Father, you are with me; the stars hurt us, I cannot look within any longer, all there is devastation, coal-black ruin, loving memories sharpened to tortures, blank space where a million joys had resided. [Pause.] And down whirled the ax. I saw it fall a thousand times before it fell. A million times every hour since that hour. Brains spattered everywhere, and a body on the flat stone, the life gone elsewhere, just a body there, a human body, a ruined thing disastered on the pavers; all life flown. And nobody else in this house seems to mind. [ ULTRA goes very near the entrance unseen. CHRYS is arranging flowers on a table in the palace.] KLYTIE How wonderful. What wonderful flowers now grow here. Thank you, Chrys. Don't you think they're wonderful, Aegisthius? Wonderful, wonderful. CHRYS You'll make me blush. ULTRA [Aside.] Ought to blush, in shame, damn shame, living with your father's slayers this way, bringin' 'em flowers, doing small chores, small things, keeping things fresh over the gravesite, while our father rots in Hell. O neglected shade, rise up, with all the earth gowned about you! All the air shall take up your vengeful measure and cry with your cry in a single heave: Death to Klytemnestra and Aegisthus or else in this hard world there is no Justice. CHRYS I grew them myself from dry discards. I gathered at tranquil dawn from rock sills dew-drops to water 'em every day. It's not impossible to keep any place looking new, no matter how it's used. Nothing's impossible with the right attitude. ULTRA O sisters' blood, that flowing from such opposite hearts can find no common good! I must find my father's grave, and interr my spirit there for some time of meditation and plain quiet. [Exit. Sits down near steps.] KLYTIE Don't you think they're wonderful, Aegisthus? AEGIE It's an absolute miracle, my dear. KLYTIE Wonderful, wonderful. CHRYS See you at dinner. KLYTIE Thank you, my daughter. [Takes off earrings and hands them to CHRYS.] And here, take these, a little gift, a silver thank you. It's a bull calf and a pregnant ewe, sacrificial stock, and handcrafted too. Silence. Enjoy them. [CHRYS dawdles unseen near the door.] KLYTIE Chrys is such a nice girl. AEGIE Not like that Ultra. KLYTIE She's a scratcher, that one of mine. AEGIE She doesn't seem fully enclosed by her own skin, itching at everything like that, feeling everybody's hurt worse than they do themselves. KLYTIE It's all just slights against her, the way she sees it, whole world against her. AEGIE And now the lovers are alone in the room. KLYTIE And to think, a little deed of death and all this was made over to us. AEGIE Come to bed. KLYTIE Here's the marriage altar so recently soaked. AEGIE His blood warms us. KLYTIE My Agamemnon's blood! Who knew how much there was, how much there could be, running to the bed-edge in waves of blood, getting between the cracks in the masonry, making every sure footstep slipshod. AEGIE I remember the act. I put the ax squarely through his brains and don't regret it. KLYTIE Oh Aegie, you wicked wicked darling, to do all that for me. AEGIE I'd do it again and again. [They kiss.] AEGIE One last round of negotiations with our neighboring states and all shall accept our rule of Mycenae as legal. KLYTIE But what about Ultra? She throws her voice as if she had arisen bearded from the grave, crying out to every visiting dignitary: "My father! my father! You trade with his killers! Can't you trade in justice just this once?" It makes their consciences almost as heavy as their purses. AEGIE We're in the clear, the fifteen year moratorium expires today. They've heard her claims,-- who hasn't?-- but if they were going actually do anything about them, about her snipping out, they'd have done it by now. And once they are finally assured that business, all business, will proceed as usual, with a little extra thrown in maybe here and there, the ghost of Agamemnon, and all of his old mercantile ties, will have been severed. Then we shall be able to settle down to a prosperous reign. KLYTIE Oh Aegie, it's just that... that.... AEGIE What is it, dear-heart? Come and tell. KLYTIE A vision has interrupted my night each night these last seven nights. Nightmare or hallucination, I don't know which to call it. All I know is I feel insubstantial when I wake, as if I were the imaginary thing, and not this horror imposing itself on me. Only in your arms am I myself again, gelled together enough to allow my throat to speak what my dreaming eye has seen-- the dread continent my drowsy heart has undertaken to visit. First time, that night of absolute silence, I could hear my heart telling lies in the silence. My blood coverlet was soaked when I woke. The quiet windows looked in on me, howling. Never thought I'd close my eyes again, clutching the amphora. And you so quiet next to me, a solemn air of vigorous detachment, breathing to breath, with no thoughts or fear about you; I, shaken with apprehension, touching the cold stone floor with my cheek as if fevered, your hand a normal warmness when I climbed back into the bed. That was the night after the big storm that took out part of the fig grove, and the dream-- well, I don't remember any of it. But that fear, a heart-hammer, that was something else. Two more nights I woke up like that, straining to orient myself on starlight, see the constellations, make sure I was in the same universe I had departed at bedtime. Fourth and fifth night I didn't sleep at all, trying to make the best of my fear, going over all of our doings with hard thought, retraced our steps with a clear head, arrived at the same conclusion as before. Still, each night, a trembling washed over my frame, like moving through a sheet of icicles and leaving skin behind on the points. We had to kill Agamemnon, had to, killing my girl that way for a whore, and our love so new, so real, giving me a human hope. The sixth night was a hellraiser, I'll never erase it from my mind, its in there, boiling away as furiously now as when it first erupted in my sight. I dreamed I stood alone in pure sunlight, a cross-breeze from the sea at my feet and all the land about me drenched in light. And the scepter of power was there, golden, in my hand, holding forth from my fist like a second sun and I tell you I felt at peace right then, seeing everything beneath me peaceful and prosperous. I was as white as Artemis, and nothing could touch me. Then it came-- ooooo-- that feeling chiming my ribs and turning my heart molten; I felt fever-weak, and the sunlight didn't abate, what I wouldn't give for a cool drink, my arms like a scarecrow's without the straw. I rolled my eyes every which way to see what was sneaking up on me-- but there was nothing, nothing! And all this time dread whining in my ears like a spool of wire being zipped out at top speed. I took the scepter in both hands and whipped it around in the emptiness, slashing at air until I stumbled, touching the dust with my open palms. And that's when I saw it --ooooo --that hem unmistakeable in sunlight, the cresting pattern handstitched in gold, wave on wave circling around to swish at my face abject in the dust. I didn't want to look up, but my eyes lifted of their own volition, and in truth I saw a resurrected Agamemnon standing, hands on hips, above me. And my heart failed, and black tears blotted him out. Then last night, after wine, my eyes failed and sleep entered me. There he was against the sky, same as before, grim as before, impossibly real. But now my idle hands gripped, as pulsing worms will curl and uncurl in the dirt. Idle hands discovered the discarded scepter, gripping it, arising to my knees with an airless scream, for no sound issued at my mouth, but all was most secret, most silent, and most still, even as when the murder had been done that threw Agamemnon revivified to my dreams. With the strength of ten living Agamemnon's did his apparition appall. My heart condensed, a strychnine of fear sealing it shut against all feeling operation. I hunched back from his terrifying face, eyes all fire in the unnatural face. Silent accuser! I was thrown to my confused essences, and I spat back! The scepter hissed into his chest, his face-- that I had kissed how many times!-- crushed itself into lines of astonished agony and as the scepter sunk to mid-chest, as I shoved its golden node through a heart I remembered had emboldened a thousand acts of courage, that face became transparent as an acid bath will show clear the skull within the corpse. He tottered at the shock. And every tottering emboldened my resolve, and I shoved, and I shoved, till he on his knees was placed, till he flung spattering with his last gasp to earth, and sunlight strong as truth over all. I stood back from the ghastly exhibition, smilingly alive, the thunder in my chest a drum of victory, and him all asprawl. The scepter, as you know who bears it most often, is delicately made, fine leaves and vines entwining a solid rod, as a sign of fruitfulness, a mellow hope encoded for the glory of the state. In this dream-light each leaf had glittered sharply, stood from its next nearest leaf in prim distinction, sharp as light, each goldenly alone. These leaves then, as I had noted, so sharp, so bright, turned all dull at once and lost themselves in a new profusion of that single stem. The rod increased in girth, branches and arms of long wood shot out from a tree suddenly grown tall out of the hole in Agamemnon my determination had created. Before two thuds of my heart had gathered together and gone, this tree covered all of Mycenae, and shaded dry valleys with sweet fresh globes of some golden fruit an infant could reach and pluck for sucking. AEGIE These vague makings of hallucination bear no force of fear for us. Dear, dear, wind your mind like a tightended bow bent to the final target, and now, even now, our destiny will fly to its center mark without obstruction. KLYTIE Oh Aegie, it's just that... that... AEGIE What? Do you believe in gods and ghosts and all-that-kinda-shit? Because I don't. Never have, never will. They ain't what got us here, honey. You know that. You know that. Whatever we did is whatever got us wherever we are. And right now that wherever's a not too disappointing status quo. KLYTIE I know. It's just that.... AEGIE The reading of your dream is simple: Out of Agamemnon's death, we shall flourish. Time's come nearly past due for our fifteen year's attendance to this orchard to bear some fruit that we can eat. KLYTIE Oh Aegie, it's just that... that... AEGIE What? That Ultra? Once we produce an heir she'll be considered as nothing more than the minor annoyance she always was. KLYTIE Yes, but until then.... The amount of talk that pours through that girl! And every raving cry a call that "just one act of Justice be done." AEGIE Once I have the sworn understanding from Athens and Sparta that our rule is legitimate, fixed in the common sight of law, as this fifteen years expired will make it we can have her exiled to some no-account town where she may wail to her heart's content. KLYTIE And no one's dignity's offended. Well and good. O Aegisthus! You are wonderful! AEGIE We must sort a life out of all this chaos we have courted, or else what will have been the point of any of it? [AEGISTHUS crosses to door.] AEGIE And make a libation, that should put off the gods. [CHRYS races past ULTRA, who is a bundle of rags.] KLYTIE Is it impossible to want as much as I want? Does desire, which shapes us, mar our faces? Do two lovers rut snarling, like dogs? Have I been undone by accepting the reality of my own feelings and wishes? I thought what I thought, and wanted what I wanted. Infinite came those final feelings, infinite that wish that provoked them in my heart! ULTRA [Aside.] Your heart? Excrement! KLYTIE Such fresh air! Subtle mist, buff of pewters blunting the rockspar, obscuring, curing such harshness. I have my grand house, and I rule it. I have my young fuck in the old bed, my father's betrothal gift, satin sheets and all, and I rule him too. No ghost, no guilts! [Laughs.] And the birds come to freshen my doorstep with the clarity of their singing, my only judges, as if I'd made a better place for singing than their blue-varnished heaven! No. No songbirds this morning. [Notices ULTRA.] I might have known. Damn you, Ultra, out here shitting on the stoop again? Talking to the birds? Chased away by your caw I've no doubt. God how you grate! "Killed, killed, killed! Doesn't the world know how my father's brains were spilled right here where I keen, blue turds all over the walkway? And injustice smells worse than death...." Blah, blah, blah. And you condemn me with a spitting mouth to the hissing gossips of the neighborhood; you make complaints upon my virtue who are the first issue of it breechment! Is not a woman born to be loved? And am I not a woman, mated and in her house, obeying all the proprieties of the town, circumspect in everything, in nothing overzealous or unseemly, but chaste of face when a calm front is called for, making sweet oblations to the dear dead? Even now you see me walking with my wine headed for your father's hellacious rockpile, and after all the wrongs he done me! Leaving me alone so young, a widow in all but name, chafing myself at home, nothing to do but keep things tidy until he got back from that stupid war. Going across the seas for another woman, as if there weren't cause enough at home for him to lift his sword. A paltry relique it was when he came back with it, dangling between his leathery old grieves. A bolt of rust and not much else, I'll tell you! Hmm, well, enough of that. I'll start sounding like you-- in another year or two, if I keep it up. And you know I had just cause in killing your father. Who I did kill, I'll admit. ULTRA Yes. Who you did kill, you'll admit. KLYTIE Oh, Justice was at my back, Justice held my blade hand steady. O how I did prompt my new lover's manliness to the task! Nothing but righteousness could shell his heart with hard enough a determination to perform so ugly an act in light. And I had cause enough, oh I had cause! ULTRA Cause enough to kill. KLYTIE Remember little Ipphy, your sister, the other, the younger, setting sail to war? Gods in a whirlwind came down to the deck demanding her sacrifice in lightning, or else no Helen for Menelaus, uncle Menelaus who'd take used goods and send ten thousand to their deaths to get 'em, too. And your father, the great war leader, sweating before the cloud-face, not facing his men; clean in his conscience to kill her, to kill your very sister! Ah God, God, what bloody hours I groaned on her birth night to get the little wriggler out of me! Your father sighed and fell asleep when she was concieved. Made on this same wine I'm bringing to his ditch today, to spill. If out of the raving madness of the sea your dead sister could manage a voice, what would she say about him? Your Dada? Not as you cry would her aggrieved ghost cry, nor would render your father's sad accounts on my overburdened back. I'm too old to live with such cruelties anymore. Let your hard words harp against the dead, and let the living live. Put the blame where it belongs. ULTRA [Aside.] My tongue is a knife, and will part your heart soon enough. [Aloud.] I notice the cunning escape-work in the way you talk, letting onto truth by implication, and sideways, but directly saying nothing at all. Yes you killed him, but there was no justice in splitting that noble man like a hamhock, no respect, and him the founder of our lineage; can't have offshoots if the roots are plucked up. No blossom in the dry air, damp earth sweating to conceive to no purpose, the firm white seed removed by evil hands; I can't hang crucified in the air and have you sound me out like a treetrunk. Ain't gonna happen. My new roots require blood. KLYTIE Split him to the spine, and still not enough blood? Revenge ain't no way to justice, no how. ULTRA Lust-sweat won't help you skid to a steady stop, and that's all the reason you killed Dad anyway. KLYTIE Shut your whore-mouth. Shut it now. ULTRA Ain't gonna happen. You asked me to talk, so I'll rumble my bellyfull. Ain't often I get a chance to say what's eating me and have you do anything besides curse and walk away. KLYTIE All right then, all right. ULTRA [Misperceiving for another 'shut-up!'] No! No, you listen to me. You listen. If you'll make my dead sister stand witness to your crimes as reqium, then I'll gladly prosecute. Ten thousand men, you numbered them were locked airless between Illium and Troy, no way to stir the breakers in their direction, endless flats of water, tedium endless, grey-green and no let up in sight, 1o,ooo terrified, waiting for scurvy or starvation, not knowin', and not a breath of god-sent wind to puff them onward. Then the word came down from the gods: a sacrifice.... and that's what she was-- holy holy holy-- a sacrifice. Saved ten thousand men by her blood-let. A tough situation and a brave resolution, no less. What were they going to do, blow themselves to Troy? KLYTIE Agamemnon had enough wind for it. ULTRA So you don't agree with the way I see things? Our histories miss each other, each sailing off to separate destinations, distinct Troys; only sea's chaos the same, similar journeying, specks of thinking light lost in the greyness. KLYTIE Histories. Well, at least I know what I've done, the why of it not escaping me neither. And, no, I don't agree with you. Nobody does. You're on your own. ULTRA I wonder if that's because there's no sense in what I'm saying, or no profit in my being right. KLYTIE No profit? That's a nice thing to say to your mother. I've talked to everybody, and nobody's got your view except you. Folks know what's what, which heads hold up through storms, which banners can float undamaged. And nobody bothers to remember your father anyway, his ghost's just so much dust to us living folk, a fragment of folklore even the slaves won't sing anymore; dusts and ghosts of dust, nothing. ULTRA Can't you put a little remembered divinity in your looks, a spatter of real prayer against those yellow old teeth? Hissing and spitting against Dad like he was still here getting under your skin more than ever. KLYTIE Why you little bitch! ULTRA If I'm a bitch, I inherited it; no bark but I learned to crank it out from you, performing on your hind legs like that, paws jiggling, and another innocence slaughtered; you hopping through the right hoops in proper sequence. KLYTIE You're insane! ULTRA What's sanity? KLYTIE You can't go against the whole world, girl. Nobody has that kind of strength. ULTRA I don't need strength. I've got what's right right in front of me, no swivelling eyes abject to dirt, or saintly to mountaintop necessary just a straight look and a steady pace, get me where I need to go. KLYTIE But you don't obey what's right. Off on your own clamoring and throwing dust on yourself, practically speaking tongues to that pile of rocks that's got your dad under 'em. Hysterical screechings off every which way going on about justice and injustice looking every day dirtier and less like my daughter, less human, and taking no concern over it neither. It ain't right. You don't follow the way things go. You're a perpetual annoyance, and not just to myself. Nobody likes you. There's not even anything pretty left in your face. You're older than your own mother, Apollo knows! ULTRA What do any of these things matter? I build myself up out of my thoughts, no flesh about me, not the real me; built the house, live in it, my sound tower, can't see it from the outside while residenced within. KLYTIE You stick your neck out too far, somebody'll cut it off for you. I don't care what you think its made of. ULTRA Things you say, surfaces and meaningless frictions, no more, no less. What's right is right. Go on. KLYTIE Apollo knows I tried to rear you the best way I knew how, considering everything, terrible years, you and Aegisthus my only bright spots, and the obedience of the people was a blessing. They know how things are supposed to go, which way order comes down from the top and best obey it, that way's prosperity. The best way I knew how, considering everything, I can't be responsible for that shiv of tongue, though. That's all your own pure invention. ULTRA Apollo knows. KLYTIE You've got to pray for what's expected, dear, follow the rules, listen to consensus on things, see which way the cards fall, then play your hand, how else are you going to know what to do? What's permissible and what's not? ULTRA Strange advice, coming from you, you with all your murderous history, ignoring every force that would've stopped you, holiness and horror both. KLYTIE You do what I say. I know what's best. Experience hurts; and I've learned from the beating. Can't go on what you feel all the time, that's just chaos. ULTRA And Justice isn't to be expected? KLYTIE Apollo, No! If there was any justice, do you think your father would have abandoned me the way he did? Cruel as a tapeworm, the way that ate at me. But you have to take what's given, accept the lot as it falls out, deal with the contingencies, be flexible, pursue opportunites by scent, see when they pass by, not rush it. And don't go outside the acceptable, it's as simple as that. ULTRA And that's sanity? KLYTIE Yes, yes. It's what's normal, for god's sake. ULTRA Follow the rules. Like a circle of dogs going nose to ass, nose to ass, following themselves nowhere everywhere. Follow the rules, don't break the chain. Or else, how am I going to know what to do...? KLYTIE Yes, yes. ULTRA Follow the rules. What's permissible and what's not...? KLYTIE Exactly. ULTRA Exactly. KLYTIE Well, I have to go and make my libation now. ULTRA I'll follow you and make sure everything's done straight. KLYTIE God don't work save by letting what's to be, be, child. You'll see. Top^

SCENE THREE

[KLYTIE, making her sacrifice at the grave. ULTRA has followed her. Continuous with previous scene.] KLYTIE Drowned by all this circumstance: ungrateful children in a grinding land, no longer may my body dance that was wild under Agamemnon's hand. I've had my full load of suffering and no more may I take, I gave all I got of love and then that fountain found its brake. Dearly do I love thee, Apollo who handles the sun like a song; blood and wine in the libation ditch, oh I have prayed for long and long. Spare me if you can, Apollo, hard words that knive from this bitch--- One killing doesn't make me a killer. I live with a gentle fellow; though old, I'm no murderous witch. ULTRA Now I could get her with one of these rocks, kill her, throw her down with Dad. KLYTIE Hard words can knot the virtuous whether they've some truth, or none, come lick this libation, virtuous, obeying your laws every one. O Apollo Lykeios, decide! Your decisions must fall as a dream: if lucky, that dream shall I ride out of this narrow nexus, a stream carrying me to wider skies. [KLYTIE begins to exit.] KLYTIE [Aside.] But if some stream of evil should flow from your mouth to mine, I'll drown my enemies in evil and bob with what lightness I find. My cash shan't float from my pocket, obscure all cheaters' eyes! This house that I rule, now lock it, this scepter that I stole shall be mine! O Phoebus Apollo, you hear me now give me all that I ask; friends that I've got, bear near me;--- stay near me, my children, I ask: all bitterness in your dark breast refute, for we are strangers in such gloom; that spite in your eyes-- confute,-- it strikes my wild heart with wild doom. [Exit.] ULTRA I feel like Philomela, raped by the death-dealers unable to tell a soul my troubles, helpless to revenge myself or seek justice, filling my spendthrift days with curses and no hope of satisfaction on the horizon. Still, pushed to the limit, stampeded into the obscurest corners of howling night I don't need to stay silent for any reason. If time wants to shine on murder and grief and keep on shining, let it at least see the real thing. Can't stop the nightengale sighing interminably over her terminal young; can't stop me from sighing, right on the front steps of the place, making strangers stop and stare at my insanity, and hearing my cause. Let all the world become an ear, and I'll shout my grievance past hearing's capacity. O deep Hell, and drab Persephone who goes mooning about among the dead waiting for enchanting spring to free thee, if prayers or petitions, or any cause of right has ever followed the breeze of its intent and made itself heard to you, then let mine enter your ear but once, for I have with hurricaning bellows blown it down below: OO Queen of Avenging, O Vengeance! Hear me! You who see blood spilt, see murder, see tyranny, see promised beds flung adulterous to another, Hear me! Hear me and curse! O god-creating Furies of doom and revenge fly from the burning ground of these hot graves---- aid and defend the innocent with fires of wrath, flaming swords and daggers turn inward on the guilty hearts of killers. Avenge, avenge! Abide not my father's death, give meaning to hope, kill all.... [Giving up.] and send me my brother. I can do no more on my own: This grief is too heavy. [Enter CHRYS.] CHRYS Still wailing to the skies about Daddy's dying? ULTRA Tired of my fly-buzz chatter around your dungpile? CHRYS Well, yes. Yes, if you want to know. Don't you ever get tired of being so right all the time? ULTRA What's right is right. I didn't make it that way, but I'm not going to forget that it's right, either. CHRYS Oh look, an olive tree. ULTRA Full, dull green, heavy and ready. CHRYS Remember what a stripling it was? Planted that year Dad died, shivering so skinney against the wind. ULTRA Same age as Orestes. CHRYS Now it shadows me, and I'm a tall woman. ULTRA Yes. It's fat with dusty olives. Let each one be pulled and pitted with hot pimentos, then spiked in Klytie's gorge, and I will call it a tree fit for picnicing under. CHRYS That's horrible! ULTRA A grave feast, and a serious eating. Look closely, the fruit almost breaks the bough. CHRYS Another winter, and this tree will kill itself. ULTRA Perhaps the tree will find some comfort hacked up, the chosen wood for some death blaze, the funeral pyre of some pious woman about to die. CHRYS You sure have a cruel way of saying things. ULTRA Can't you see, if we let Dad go unavenged to oblivion, let things fall as they fall, no human opposition defining and raising us against the blankness, a shadow out of shadows, at least that, that we're nothing ourselves? CHRYS I just see how agitated you get over what seems like nothing. Been talking like this for years, now, bewildering years. ULTRA And through the straights we need to navigate will you take it, buffet upon buffet, roughed up by the circumstances, crashed in the rapids, a screaming skull moving ninety toward a waterfall, mother kicking me, and father gone to hell, you yourself pried out of your inheritance, washing dishes for the usurpers, smile if you feel like, smile if you don't, dishonest in action even if honest in heart-- will you take it, so much, will you take it, so much death, and such unknowingness? CHRYS Maybe its better not knowing anything. Accept things as they are, shove on. ULTRA A lesson. Dogs and death. No lonely howl of mourning; they bark and aggrivate the earth with their short claws awhile, and go on. The briefness of their grieving teaches me to cry longer. CHRYS A wolf will mate a wolf for life. Does that teach people to get divorced? ULTRA If it does, at least it doesn't demand that the parting laws get carved with axes on the husband's heart. CHRYS A dove whose mate is shot from the sky will coo long evenings with sorrow and not drink a drop of mercy or eat a crumb of kindness until she dies too. ULTRA Did the female dove construct the bow wait titivatting in blinds and twang the arrow onward with her beak? CHRYS Of course not. ULTRA Ah, how I long to have wings that adore the air! I would tangle myself in Klytemesta's grey hair like an evil bat, shitting and shrieking, shrieking and shitting, and lever out her eyes like rare eggs, eating the sight out of each as they stared at my eating teeth. CHRYS Ultra! She's still our mother! Say a kind thing, temper yourself, we hatched at her nest, not elsewhere. ULTRA Then let her discover what a cuckoo she fed. I will live for my revenge. CHRYS You are dangerously insane. Can't kill mom no matter what she's done. No beast eats its dam. ULTRA No, only heroes can manage that. Sniff out Justice, my dreams tell me, however faint the scent, and this my father's corpse stands a mountain of murder to scout out some Justice from its rotting peaks. It fairly stinks to heaven. CHRYS So, you're gonna sniff like a dog, scout about like a vulture, wive a corpse like a maggot and meditate murder like a psychopath. Ultra, my sister, stop, and think, even a dog, a bird, an insect, a psycho knows enough not to go up against the people in power. And Aegisthus rules here, Klytie is his instrument of state; this is where we live, this is our home, and its only staying that way because they'll allow it. They meet the executioner's payroll, not you and me. Dad and Sis are dead, isn't that enough for you? Do you have to send this whole family to hell? Use your head to think, and not just your mouth to howl, keen, snip, yawp, and wail: revenge! ULTRA I would rather be any zoo of creatures that could still remember Justice than a daughter that could teach herself to forget her father. CHRYS We're one sister short of a condemning quorum, can't jump the outcome, can't pole-vault to a narrow winning by just one truth, and that your own; reality's sandpit, just lying flat, will take your measure, your heels' imprint landing in a stiff spray among a million contestants', scattershot footsteps leading off in every direction, confusion of intentions, no mark deeper than another. ULTRA One sister short.... CHRYS You ever feel that way, missing little Ipphy, her delicate heart excited about everything, trusting Dad more than the sun, laughing on his shoulders, more expecting the dawn to blow out than Dad not rise everyday and love her. ULTRA Can't change what's happened. Don't expect me to start forgetting it out of venal convenience; Dad and Ipphy, well, what's between them's buried. Mom's another matter-- and I ain't DONE nothing yet; convey the facts, line up the truth, that's my point of view, then let judgement stalk the territory. CHRYS Ipphy knew how to talk to you, access your sweetness, touch you; to me you're a mystery, troubled, troubled, the past glowing harder in your eyes than today's plainness. ULTRA And the future comes up sharp against me too don't forget, a razor focus, drawing days near, getting things clear out of the present fuzziness. CHRYS Ultra, there's something I've got to tell you. ULTRA Uh-huh. Say it out then; we can say anything to each other. CHRYS Well, you know that the fifteen years' wait before the grant of legitimacy to Aegie's reign is over this year; this year he gets the crown, and everybody'll smile about it too. ULTRA Fifteen years; a long time to live with murderers, inside or outside of the house. I'm just glad he's not around today; one less hassle. CHRYS Well, you don't know this, but when Aegisthus gets back they're going to nail you shut in a closet. No eyehole for eyes, no slot for your supper. ULTRA Really? What do you mean? CHRYS Mom had a vision. Scared her, I can tell you, and it doesn't bring you any good news either. ULTRA Spit it out. But to one side, please; I don't think I want you touching me. CHRYS Aegisthus was leaving to sew up their position in Athens and Sparta, make sure that any feeling that you'd been slighted by their power-grab was dead, that commerce and trade talks could go on as usual, jabber and cash transactions as usual, all the ships in their slips. ULTRA Good, good. I see. CHRYS Good? I don't think so. Cutting us out it sounds like. But anyway, mom came out telling this dream; and her face was a mask of sheer terror! But anyway, I think she dreamed that Agamemnon's back. ULTRA And that scared her. CHRYS You should have seen her eyes, pried gigantic at a cloud that dragged as Agamemnon's beard had dragged. ULTRA Let her eyes roll out like dice, her age rake trenches for her false tears to boil down her face in heated rivets. Let her spinster's finger gesture hexes-- I don't care! Let her hair out-shriek an apocalypse of ravens, my indifference remains. CHRYS Your coldness scalds my skin. But her face-- her lips, her blue ruined lips if only you could have seen them you'd have cried, twisting and jerking in pain to give her noiseless nightmare even the substance of a syllable. ULTRA Her lips! Let them jerk and tear and twist, grimace and implore, shake straightness from their meeting, resign an infinity of smiles to a tragic, imploring gulp-- let them! For now she is on the hook, Agamemnon's ghost has gaffed her. Jerk and grin your little blood mouthfuls while you can O Mother, O Klytemnestra-- the wire of God's will still reels you by your skinned heels to Hell. CHRYS Bitterness, bitterness.... ULTRA This bitterness betters me, This senseless hating hates not to hate; un-hate is my only enemy, only lack of passion is a crime. In this, my mother and I consummate, sparring flares of hideousness, she and I. Our spasms and passions, alike as excised aortas. CHRYS To live and to kill, is that it? Stabbing and gasping, and stabbing and gasping what kind of life is that? ULTRA Life is where all the real killing happens. Look at me: I ache and subside. CHRYS But you'll recover yourself, and kill. ULTRA Yes. Yes, I'm a huntress. And mom is an absolute bitch, a pure whore lifting her skirts to Dad's attacker, rubbing her white cunt in the blood. CHRYS God! Can you really think that? You are a monster, a catastrophe, fed on the bled bone of an eyeless justice. How can you see any rightness in suffering? Ultra, Ultra, sister, sweet sister, show some pity! For your own sweet sake! ULTRA Pity is no part of divinity. CHRYS Even a cat will bite the head off of a fish first, before eating the heart of the carcass. ULTRA This is our millionth winter of living here, under the stone house white and alone the stone portico sloping over the wreckage. Mom's god-eyes enlarge and shark at us: we swirl under her, white, small, vulnerable as pebbles. She is an old stone Gorgon fishing for stone fish with her petrifying glance. I am trapped. I cannot shrink again to the necessary slenderness of escape. I cannot go minnow-thin and disappear again under her exploded nova stare. Can you? CHRYS You look at me too much. That righteous stalking stare demands bibles. My faith is small and personal. I don't have any spirit to spare. Your quest's inquisitive ripples backwash my silk silts to ashes. [ULTRA begins to protest.] CHRYS My altar is subtle, a dim thing, quiet velvet comforting a minor god. An incendiary substance, your 'Justice', pushes me towards sulfer, a raucous avalanche of religious lights and bonfires; your cause and my cause burn clean together. We are sisters of a single slaughter, of a single murdered deity, the twin daughters. But I cannot flare and brighten as you do: you are my sun, my sister, gigantic, I am a dwindled candle, dully lumed. I cannot wake in a dawn of pure injustice and increase myself to avenging horizons, a sheer bloom of dooming illuminations. My gown doesn't shout itself to starlight, my dark heart doesn't ache for rightness. What is justice to me-- sister, listen!-- What is justice to me who cannot hear the wind's grace when my new earrings mingle their silvers? ULTRA Add your little light to mine and how much greater we shall shine! ....And when Orestes gets here, CHRYS Well he's not back yet, is he? ULTRA You should just see how mom goes all pale and trembly when I start shouting that Orestes'll come back and fix her wagon. CHRYS Oh what's the use of talking trash: "Orestes'll this, and Orestes'll that you wait till Orestes shows up and then you'll see..."? ULTRA But he will come. And dread and holy will be his coming. No holds on Justice then. What's right'll come out. You wait and see if it don't. CHRYS There you go again. [Pause] ULTRA When Daddy died, I slept and dreamed on his grave, called him up, all the things I love that get ripped away from me, my hands a girls', my love unforged by grief, by harshness but getting the anvil all the same, hit, hit, hit, getting put through it, and no choice about it as if all that harm wouldn't change things forever. But I kept to my dream, seeing things my way, steady, trying to rescue heaven by the way I think about it, keep meaning in the stars, our touches, not letting that fade and wander fixing it in memory and attaching it in act so that my decaying substance might accomplish one thing, one thing against the eternities. CHRYS Language strains, can't carry the load experience gives it, breaking our thoughts when it fails. ULTRA I've tried it, stuffed the sun and moon in my mouth, a saved heaven, and every star still shining, all the loved things communing together, and it doesn't work; failed, failed. Tongue's no replacement for the things it speaks of. The weight, the heaviness of this life, burden unbearable and no groan to unload it; ferry ourselves to escapeless death we must, grinding all our livliness to the one dust. [CHRYS tries to hug ULTRA.] CHRYS Damn it, why won't you let me hug you? ULTRA Nearness is difficult... there's a death between us. If I find it too hard to touch whatever it is that surrounds me now, for a kindness, say it's because I touched bottom as close as drowning once. CHRYS If Orestes comes back, it'll be in poverty, and alone; he won't come marching with an army at his back. I'm sorry, this truth isn't meant to hurt you, but your chances of finding 'Justice,' spying out what's right, discerning the circumstances, knowing fog from danger, and doing right when you see it, with this family the way it is, won't be any better then than now. ULTRA Oh no. No. There you're wrong, and I know it. When death hatched spitting and attacked Papa, swerving Mom's warped skull like a snakehead, Orestes was nursing on a new, venomed egg; his teeth grew points and he raped its innards, sucked down vengeance and remembrance in the same ragged gulp as his existence. Then he sucked harder on his human thumb, dumb rememberer, and chose, like a lion, or an angry crow to grow and kill. And now he'll come, bloody and bloodied, an embryo gone wrong, stalking ashes in the chalky womb that once upon a time had burned and made him. Oh and then-- what a chloroform halo he will cast! His glance will strip her to the viscera, his fingers transfix to the knuckles in her undressed chest, feeling and stabbing for the cancerous worm of her absent heart. God, what a death! And he will come. He will come. And dread and holy will be his coming. CHRYS Something's happening back at the house. Let's check it out. [Exit CHRIS] ULTRA Come to me my justice, young man with a straight look, straight eyes screwed into a face unafraid to look, look and see things they way they really are. Come to me my Justice, ratchet back the skin that veils the hidden heart, shut out self-seekers from your clarity arrive with a stance of pride, and leave prideful head snapped straight up on young shoulders walking into the mix of things and not quailing or looking back in dark doubt. Come to me my Justice my Orestes risen and beatified my Orestes unmolested by years or by hours the tall sun still sharp in your glance no moan in your demeanor, no mope, but quick truth firmly grasped, thought strong and right-minded, action following as the incredulous lion follows the lion-tamer, as water follows the waterfall-- how could it not? action well-disciplined and reasonable, a strange thing on these acres these days everything flowing out from the center, truth established in principle and the tenets laid out plain. O Orestes, my handsome Justice! come to me and wash out these crimes see that the evil gets pent back up in Hell and free creatures can talk in daylight greeny asphodel under no shadow night and day spliced back together in peace not as daymare and nightmare rudely chained but as a joyous circut linking light and its lessening never the utter black again as now, ichorous eclipse at siesta, noon run out of the sky drabbled in filth.... Maybe then I could sleep some at night no more screams at moonrise. And come soon, come soon my brother I am in such need of thee. Top^

SCENE FOUR

[ULTRA goes to join CHRYS near the palace. They overhear TEACH's story. Continuous with previous scene.] KLYTIE Tell us your story, strange man. ULTRA [Aside to CHRYS.] Listen sharp! and tell me if you can hear any truth in his words. TEACH Didn't shill my story to strangers, await the kin, they told me, and I waited. Now here we are. Takes a stranger to tell a strange tale. Divination not my intention but straight truth unwatered. Come close. Orestes came into the city like a whirlwind, anxious for fame, never seen the like, dust up to his eyeballs, and a desperate glance, but dignity withal, he had it, dignity unshorn, and him with all his troubles, and an exile to boot. Came dirty and road-weary, came afoot many miles in a luckless condition, came with a grim determination to win all, reverse his losses, change his luck, "I come here for the Delphic prize, no less," he says, his eyes white out of the dirt-smear, and no friend to bathe his head or get his legs in shape for the race. So I done it. Clipped him short, washed him, put his name in the lists like any friend would do; and when the herald called the first race, a baritone and a herald, a low note over the fresh-raked track, and the runners came loping out, easy in their stride, I swear I could only see Orestes shining out as the sun clipped the stadium edge, god-fate shining through him, more than his share, conquering the moment, a dawn embodied, so high above his fellows was he, and the crowd wild with admiration that had been yawning and making chit-chat before, and the judges too, staring down, and he won the first prize, first race, like that, without panting. Never saw the like, wearing the crown of victory like an afterthought, an emanation of that prize face chosen for winning before they thought to scrape the track, before the judges thought to judge or the people gather to witness. His body followed the runner's form and perfected it, finished up before he started, no room for error or gracelessness. I can't tell all of it. Some things are too subtle for old eyes, some things not. But he took all five first prizes, faultless, like the general would've, spirit of Agamemon racing through young Orestes there. All saw it; judges slapping each other on the back, trading stories from before the war. KLYTIE Spirit of Agamemnon! ULTRA My Orestes! Now you'll come running home for sure. TEACH But the gods are not moved by mortal shows and keep a constant divinity in their wills, unmoved by our doings as by our wishes. Who would kill the unkindness of the skies that gods in wayward tyranny rain down on men must slay with prayers. [A SLAVE GIRL gives TEACH a drink as he recites the tragic events without really disturbing the flow of the story.] Next day was the chariot race; first on foot then high astride, that's the rule. They dragged out the regulation chariots. Little boys up before sunrise, giving them a spit-shine, putting all in order. And the horses were combed to a sheen, dawn burnished by the flanks a-tremble with strength, shimmer greater than on the chariot-works. Orestes got a white horse, a fine Aneian responsive to his whip hand, calm eye and a stiff pace, raring to go. And the bronze horn went off while I was fiddling with something, and I didn't like that: inauspicious. I looked up and saw nothing but a fumble of dust as high as the stands, all heads peering into the confusion, and the trumpet put to silence by the racket of the race, hooves and harnasses loud as Hades. Then a blinding wind came in, clearing out the skirmish, threw dirt against the far side of the stadium but I could see. Orestes leading on the inside track, not sparing the whip, but laying it on to get the job done, and I was glad to see it. Out of chaos came came his strong arm, sinew light and shapely, strong as stone, or like the pull of a vine toward sunlight, that living tension; him white, face all yeowl above that horse of blurr-blancheness. Then that man from Naxos came up on him, sudden, and a whole band of out-lyers jimmying him into the pillars, shove of axle against the ungiving pillar, sparks in the dust-bank, explosions of light under colorlessness, unruly light, and my heart jammed against my breastbone, but he steadied it, Orestes steadied his horse, hung back for a turn, watched it out like a trained hunter, too smart to lose all. No berserker, but a human being at the reins, thinking, thinking, quiet under the thunder. Then he saw his chance, the pack had spaced, the center still crowded, but on the inside a space appeared, where a skilled hand could dart in quick, regain the lead. Alot of any race is iffy, but skill makes chance favor itself. And he worked himself in there, steady, steady, himself between the pillar and the pack again, and the white horse shy from the first go-round keeping more to the other horses than before, swift in a squadron of swiftnesses, and then they were on the leeward side of the track and the dust offended their nostrils and the other fella's horse shimmied into Orestes and he took the flaw hard; brown dust was hollowed by his body's whiteness, flagrant against dark, and the blood dark, appearing from nowhere, head and legs airward at once, horses' legs and men's legs pointing up streamed with wetness, a simple wetness, dust not yet solemn over it, a black wet not yet obscured to road-dullness. And everything was a tangle and nothing was clear. And my eyes stopped looking, but the wails penetrated my senses. Awful, awful. A god in the dirt. And a team of athletes was sent, laurelled and not a loser among them, to carry the disastered body out and bring back the ashes. And here they are, in an urn too little to hold the shed tears. KLYTIE Orestes has been hacked out of my terrors; Aegisthus, come home soon. TEACH I won't give him an elegy, me, who's overdue for one himself. It was an awful thing to see. Nothing worse. And that's my story. KLYTIE Bring me the ashes. I need to touch him, somehow. Oh I don't know just what I feel! A mother first, and not a queen, you understand? So many sorrows come with a birth and no end to trouble. TEACH If I have given my thinking over to the grave forgive me, for I am old, and yet still see no hint of splendid consummation in my finishing. I am old, old. KLYTIE I'm still seeking some sign of sense myself in the undecipered texts the gods let fall to us. Top^

SCENE FIVE

[CHRYS and ULTRA walk toward the gravesite area. ORESTES arrives at the grave, and quietly offers his libation while CHRYS and ULTRA chant. Continuous with previous scene.] CHRYS God gazes on. ULTRA Eon after eon proceeds. CHRYS Stars drop like gnats against sand. ULTRA And the absolute zero of God's slashed face becomes a traffic-pattern of wheel-ruts, CHRYS each dark char a star-mark. ULTRA Meteors hack a passage down his august cheek. CHRYS Oh, Orestes! ULTRA Agamemnon and Orestes scale the lunar cliffs of his brow, a black ant and a red ant. CHRYS One carries a lit candle, one a snuffer. ULTRA God can't see us from his snowfield of heaven. CHRYS All things good, all things evil crawl along his eyelid like slugs, ULTRA sliming, humping, sliming, CHRYS on their irretrievable way. ULTRA God spits, and a sea occurs. CHRYS God smiles, and the earth sweats summer. ULTRA God winks, and infinite horizons snap shut. CHRYS God breathes, and the planets start their dance. ULTRA God pisses, and my heart fills with acid. CHRYS God cries, and a million spiders web and display the tears. ULTRA God kneels, and the outraged rise in complaint. CHRYS God barely concentrates, for a moment, and every soft calf stumbles to sacrifice itself. ULTRA Another moment, and all life storms the altars, every face goes lightless. CHRYS God shuts his fist, and annihilation is created. ULTRA God laughs, and justice is crushed in a horse-race. CHRYS Death, says God, and we all fall down. ULTRA You do understand! Are you with me? Everything'll only come out right by your action and my action, not otherwise. CHRYS I'd better go finish my chores now. [Exit CHRIS.] ULTRA God stutters, and words shake off the page. Mother and sister both against me, no way out. I cling to empty space. O God, O Vengeance, why have you abandoned me? Orestes, dear, you're buried deeper for every racing, rising hope I had. ORESTES No, I'm not. ULTRA But, but.... ORESTES Hush. ULTRA Now all that was drear is transformed to something dear, fear, not emnity, forgot; fictive fate forgives the harrassing dreams I've got, forgives them, Argives, nay, redeems the lot! Vengeance is Justice when Ultra has her day! Out of cold mind's dismissal a saving voice arrives, a missive from plundered hopes to one who thought all undone; Oh, my blessed Orestes, is it you who've truly come? Vengeance is Justice when Ultra has her day! If joy shall not break my ear, sustaining hope did never hear this living voice that voids all distress and leaves my happy heart a wilderness. Ahh, yes, yes, Orestes, it is you, I'd say. ORESTES ...Vengeance is Justice when Ultra has her day. Stay hushed, my Ultra. Truth doesn't need a gong. And even a just death requires stealth. ULTRA How much louder shall we crow and bay over Klytemnestra's grave, than today we may say. ORESTES Brother and sister then may kiss. ULTRA And howl! ORESTES Oh how much moreso then than now! ULTRA I've got a plan.... ORESTES That old fella who just told that whopper, that's Teach, brought me up in exile, my only friend. ULTRA Never saw such a beautiful old head, raising up a flat lie to serve what's noble. ORESTES Kept me informed about your sorrows too, every diplomat coming back with a sad story, every year something worse, travesty after travesty, and nobody giving a damn, not one hand extended down in mercy, or holding fast in solace, because it was against the will of the murderers in power, the killing elite. ULTRA A cabal of blood, running over my rights every which way, day after day, as if I'd inherited nothing. But I've got a plan to fix that.... ORESTES Nope. No time for that. Got to get on with it while the lie's still holding up, giving us a clear chance, an unfair plus. Is she in the palace? ULTRA [Nods.] Crying up a storm of fake tears. ORESTES Back over this way, isn't it? ULTRA Um. Yes, it is. ORESTES [Gripping dagger.] That's the way he taught me. ULTRA Father, I won't be back without Mom's body to stove up next to yours in the family plot. [Exit.] Top^

SCENE SIX

[Before the Palace. Continuous with previous scene.] ORESTES She's in there. I hear her stone step. ULTRA Oh, what should we do? What should we do? I can't tell which things are happening outside of me, which within. My head's spinning. ORESTES Do you know how many hard asses she's got working for her? We screw up, it's our asses going to Hades, Ultra. Straight sleighride to the shithouse. No reprieve from the reaper. Fuckin' A, she just senses I'm here she'll grind my ass into oblivion. ULTRA No backing out now, every tremble moving us forward. ORESTES I'm going in. She might smell trouble if she knows you're here. Stay outside, play lookout, that's safest. She won't be expecting me, thinks I'm dead, don't want to ruin the surprise. [ORESTES enters the palace.] KLYTIE So, you would kill me? Is this justice? ORESTES I am the word made flesh. KLYTIE Pity your mother! ORESTES Prepare to die. KLYTIE I am that which made you. No less. ORESTES Get ready to walk the hellground, bitch. KLYTIE If you kill me, you kill motherhood. ORESTES If all mothers were as you are, I would slay them all. KLYTIE Is there no justice in mercy? ORESTES Life is unjust. Only in death can there be perfection. All endings are sacred, or possibly so. But I think maybe you forgot I'm your son. Did you forget than I'm your son, Mommy? You forget that? KLYTIE I didn't. I didn't. I swear I didn't forget. ORESTES Yeah. I think your dumb ass forgot who's ass you was fucking; I do believe you are ignorant as to the issue of your loins, mother. KLYTIE No. No. You're my son. See? I remember. ORESTES Yeah, I see. But maybe you're just saying that to try and save your miserable self. How am I to know if you really remember or you're just trying to save your miserable ass? KLYTIE I remember. I remember. We... We.... [Outside palace.] ULTRA Aegisthus! That rising dust can't mean anything else! Got his whole gang with him too. Shit. Back to the disaster scene, and at a bad time. [Inside palace.] KLYTIE Who shall endure to bring forth children again? I have carried my executioners to term. ORESTES In my birth your death was inexorably encoded. KLYTIE My nipples weep to have fed you. ORESTES The terror of life has rushed me to this hideous reckoning. I betray myself if I let you live. I must destroy you, my source, in flames of justice to be able to continue to exist one more minute. If you made me, and I am some sick continuation of yourself, then I cannot live with that terrible knowledge. And to prove that surmise untrue, I'll kill you. KLYTIE But we are one flesh, one being. Cut me off and yourself shall suffer. Kill your mother and you have no origin on earth. Untouched, unwept for, no orison of history to make your own. O my unowned young man! Circumstance and fate are harder knots to untie than this. ORESTES I am a worm that seeks your flesh a maggot of death that your squalid life imprisions, and though I must husk your torso a thousand times in nightmare from this second on, each raving detail complete and bloody enough to augur madness in a saint, I'll do it. This knot of my life I shall not unknot; no, I'll do it. I will kill. I'll do it. KLYTIE Every drop you take shall be your own, for you are a weak stream of my mightiness, and shall cease as I lessen. Nature's inexorable source corses through me. ORESTES I was formed to live by forces of which you are an ill-tempered instrument, nothing more. Your pouch of womb carried a seed of fire and not some ruined homunculus of yourself. KLYTIE Your words attack me; my ears are filled with daggers. ORESTES With axes. KLYTIE Oh, my son! ORESTES Get over to the bed. Lie down on it. [Pause.] Now that I'm here, on the point of it, I can't kill you. My arm rebels, my limbs flimsy. Where's my cruelty, my determination? Is Dad's wet death evaporated by your hot face? I'd have thought such murder engraved for eons; and death was new on that blade, the cut unforgetable. Did Aegisthus' ax sit so gingerly-lightly in Dad's awed-open skull? Ah Mom, Mom, I don't know what to do! Is revenge no portion of justice? Do handless gods look down from their white ward and groan, having given me hands to be their instrument? God's a paraplegic. I am his thought brought living. Come. On the bed. Lie down and die. KLYTIE I grow a new inward eye for every word you speak. And they all see red. ORESTES This isn't what I was trained to see. Her new eyes, like poisonous orchids, float free in this scarring hurricane and infest my sight, teaching me how to see. Teach, did you serve me or yourself when you fed my childhood with all those angry words? KLYTIE I am praying now to die. My heart murmurs a death-prayer, and my own lips echo it. ORESTES What's this that lies beneath me? An old woman curled on the bed. That is all. No more, no less. What is Justice to this? A body barely breathing. No more, no less. The world must come unhinged in rioting bloods if I kill her now. Lying there, meekly submitting. Her killer's conscience examples me, the she-wolf learning the lamb how to bleat; can't beat human nature for surprises, revenge comes thick in my throat, a gross word full of heart-melt, spring ice flowing up by pity from a store of swallowed tears. I go rudderless in these bewildering waters, all my world one chaos, flux on flux human heads indecipherable from beasts shadow tangling shadow and the light of justice scrambled that had settled it. A waterspout, all wildness, knows more of its own way now than I do. A second birth I owe to you, dear lady, though you know it not. Be born again yourself by my mercy. [ORESTES exits, dropping knife on floor.] ULTRA Is she dead? Is the bitch ready to stick in the dirt yet? Orestes, speak! [ORESTES collapses to steps, head in hands.] [ENTER ULTRA, howling.] ULTRA Death, death, death, death, death! [ULTRA runs in, picks up discarded blade, and starts slashing wildly. KLYTIE is still on the bed; the bed cover gets ruined by ULTRA'S stabs and slashes. Then ULTRA scores a hit on KLYTIE. Both women stand silent, ULTRA panting. It is the first real blood of the play.] ULTRA There is a constancy of ecstasy in this tension. KLYTIE Ecstasy in death? In the engineering of a killing? ULTRA Can't you feel it? These ministering excitements of deep terror! The true lure of comitting some one final thing? KLYTIE Coldly I do eye you. Stranger, I'll call you, spawn of another's blood, not this. [KLYTIE indicates her wound.] ULTRA Ha, ha. Can't crawl away from this accusation: everything I learned, I learned by watching you. KLYTIE Kill, kill. I regret the blood I reveled in. ULTRA Would you spare me the same regret? A kindness is in that thought. As you have spared me the stolen comfort of lecherous gold, monies of the house brought by Dad home from Troy? As you have spared me the shelter of my ancestral house, gory now in heavy memory? As you have spared me even in the spiteful mouths of hypocrite neighbors, who pliantly tongue the coarse and filched authority you and Aegisthus wrenched from murdered Dad's scepter-hand. And how should I for this spare remembrance give thanks? Sparingly? I who have been made strong and determinate, decided as well as decided against, homeless in sight of my house, wandering, wandering pinched feet wandering days on unforgiving rock talking to sparring crows as to brothers. Do you love them too, as you love me? We sheltered equally well in your care, caw to caw in equal syllable. Here I stand no longer spare, nor sparing. KLYTIE When I go out of this world, what horrors will come walking in? ULTRA Justice, maybe. What's right is right. Can't bend that, Mom. Can't bend it for you even. KLYTIE Oh Ultra. Come and kiss me. One last one. ULTRA I am inexorable as God or a waterfall. Kissing you won't change that. KLYTIE Come, come. We must kiss. What else? We are mother and daughter. [They kiss.] Do you forgive me? ULTRA I pray every day that I won't. [Outside Palace. Enter AEGISTHUS and his lieutenant.] AEGIE Consider Ultra exiled. Or dead. Maybe I'll exile her corpse. Let her bones yatter on about her Dad, at least my ears won't have to listen to it. ORESTES Hearing the way some people really are, worst part about being born. AEGISTHUS [Sees ORESTES.] And who are you? ORESTES Someone I had not expected to meet. AEGIE I am Aegisthus, carrying urgent news from Athens for Queen Klytemnestra. Stand aside. ORESTES So this is what Aegisthus looks like, can't stand aside for that, not me, like a man fixing dinner for the one who'll rob him. Your news will wait a long time before it's heard. AEGISTHUS Klytemnestra's queen by universal declaration now, words catching up to the irreversible facts, and I'm no longer a royal consort carrying out dicta from behind royal skirts but a king beside her, engraved in name. ORESTES And Ultra your inked successor. AEGISTHUS No, she's a thing erased from the lists. ORESTES Erasing people born into the rulership game can get kind of sticky. AEGISTHUS I shall be the seed of new kings and queens for my Mycenae. So it is written. ORESTES Not as easy as supposed, x-ing out the living to make way for some hypothesis. AEGISTHUS Stand aside. ORESTES Afraid I can't do that. The queen is busy, taking a very important and long overdue conference with her daughter, Ultra. AEGISTHUS What's Ultra doing in there? She hasn't seen the inside of that place in fifteen years. [Pause.] Get out of the way. I won't ask again. [Inside the Palace.] KLYTIE I am ashes. Ashes. ULTRA I am ashes too. KLYTIE How can I die? I am too miserable to die. ULTRA Why can't the knowledge come clear, no obstruction, justice pure and simple, a slapped hand, and the right one applauded, not this intractable mess, my head full of thoughts? KLYTIE The heart requires an archeologist its sins are so old. ULTRA But you and me, here, we're clear, we're in the clear, aren't we? You're the killer who must be killed. KLYTIE I'm the killer who must be killed. ---This anguish is too strong to ever cease! ULTRA All things keep rolling. Death is death. KLYTIE Honey, I love you. ULTRA I love you, too. [ULTRA stabs KLYTIE to death.] ULTRA Now there is a fixation of horrors in my breast. I have added to their sum. Orestes, outside, you see nothing of the wretchedness that lies within. [ULTRA comes out of palace, sees ORESTES and AEGISTHUS.] ULTRA Now I feel true sadness, who sought true Justice, one act born right out of all this imperfect death. What we come to know about what we have come to do, well, its less than a candle in the vastness; I curse such decisionless dark, and stab at it, blindness, blindness, beating our way forward with a stick. [ORESTES grabs knife from ULTRA.] ULTRA No no. Orestes. ORESTES We can't go on killing. One death outweighs a million if its on your hands, slaughter sinking into the skin and not the righteous excuse for doing it. People need to change but can't manage it, fighting an interior tide, compulsive thoughts blacking out the thin ray of a decison cleanly come by. ULTRA But what's doing right going to mean if you can't trust yourself not to be flotsam, skittering everywhere according to this force or that, heaved back and forth by this desire and that willfulness, decisions unpredictable as guesses and no surety in the outcome: blood on hands laced for prayer death coming harsh to the meek victory seeking out wrong-doers marriage kisses exchanged with your killer hands clasping magnetized on what was to be avoided. ORESTES Nothing I was taught to be have I become. Blessed or blasted, I can't tell yet. [AEGISTHUS removes a hidden dagger from his clothing, dashes at ORESTES.] ORESTES [Killing AEGISTHUS.] When are you gonna learn the dead don't die! [Pause.] I look you in the face as you die. [AEGISTHUS' guardsmen enter, en masse.] TEACH The usurpers are dead. You respected murderous force before, that put them on the throne; you must respect it now. All hail Queen Ultra. All hail. ALL All hail Queen Ultra. TEACH Everything that happens has God's sanction. ULTRA Well, I have tried, I have tired. I beg my dreaming eyes to murder the race of man. END. for the little darling lord Top^