Dissociated States - Play Excerpt
Scott Patrick Wagner
SPECIAL up on JOSH--handsome,
charismatic, early 40s--at a pulpit,
speaking to an audience.
Now, if there's anything we've been talking about for the
four years I've been your spiritual advisor, it's that we are
not defined by our bodies. So what exactly is a goodbye? My
body will be leaving, and I won't be seeing your bodies
anymore. But if I've made any difference in your lives, that
had nothing to do with the space suit, and everything to do
with us connecting on the soul level. And on that level,
dear friends, we are not saying goodbye. My heart is loaded
full with the spirits of all of you...but it doesn't make my
heart heavier. Violating all laws of conventional wisdom, it
makes my heart lighter to carry you all around with me. I
hope you can joyously support Kevin and me in fulfilling this
deepest dream--which is the only reason I could ever leave
here. As long as there are loving and gentle souls like you
here, I know there's hope for this country. But we have to
be someplace where it's not just the congregation that's
inclusive, but also the laws. And so, I trade the physical
presence of all of you for the possibility of a little soul
running around wreaking havoc and swinging from
chandeliers...one that I have the right to adopt and raise in
love and light. God bless you all. And goodbye.
Wiping a tear from his eye, he exits
the pulpit. He is joined by KEVIN-
30s, handsome, sharp-edged--with
suitcases, and they walk to a border,
where they hand a CUSTOMS AGENT their
Welcome, citizens, to the Blue States of America. We are
proud to have you in this country, and support you in your
desire for liberty and freedom. Have you made any
arrangements for housing?
Uh, yes. We're part of the Parallel Swap program.
Yes...with a couple who want to emigrate to Nevada, now that
it's part of the Red States--
The Fire and Brimstone States of America...
Well, be that as it may--
Funny what they decided to do with Las Vegas, huh?
I know! Once they covered up the naked titties, God said it
was okay to keep on drinking, gambling, and whoring.
But they made prostitution illegal again, right?
Yeah, so now they pay more for it. I think they call that
foreplay, bless their souls.
(tersely to Kevin)
Yes. Why don't we?
(to Customs Agent)
Meet my partner--soon-to-be husband now that we can get
married--Saint Joshua...who even prays for those who hate us.
Well, let me personally welcome you both to a country where
nobody hates you or discriminates. Where the divorce lawyers
charge the gay couples just as much as the straight ones.
Well...maybe they'll let us be married for a while first.
I apologize, sir. Just my bent sense of humor.
I get ya, sister. No offense taken.
Relax, honey. Everyone's bent in the Blue States of America!
The Customs Agents stamps their
passports and hands them back.
You're all set. Have a wonderful life!
CROSS FADE TO
MALCOLM, 30s, standing at the far end
of the stage, on a cell phone. He is
good-looking, a bit light in the
loafers, and somewhat agitated.
...Yes, I understand that Reverend Josh and his partner Kevin
have gone to California. My question is, when will they be
back?...What do you mean, they won't--?...Yes, I'm sorry. I
just didn't realize it was a permanent move. Okay, thank you.
Malcolm hangs up and his hands suddenly
go up to his temples, apparently having
a searing headache. A few seconds
later, he drops his hands, and his body
language is entirely different, much
more stiff and masculine. He is now
Hank walks off stage.
LIGHTS UP on an upper middle class
home. There are tea cups on the coffee
JOSH and KEVIN sit on one couch, and
WILEY and MARGARET, 50s--he is rigid,
she is demure--sit on the other. There
is an uncomfortable silence from all.
It's a lovely home.
It's been good to us. We didn't realize that the couple we
were exchanging with--
Don't worry. We'll take good care of it.
We're homosexuals. We're noted for our neatness.
Kevin, please try not to be contentious.
It's just a bit of a shock, is all. And what with my husband
being a man of the cloth, and all.
Mine too, dear.
Perhaps that's part of the reason the Parallel Swap program
thought we'd be a good match...a shared spirituality.
I don't have a "spirituality," mister. I have a religion.
And I have a sling that took me hours to unscrew from the
bedroom you'll be moving into. I hope these ceilings have
That's the lord's name!
No, it's mine! I'm half Latin. Y'know, "Jesus-Kevin"...with
Kevin, please stop--
If I had known these were the kind of people they were having
us trade with--
Oh don't worry, Reverend! The house you're getting has just
as much market value as this one...and it's decorated!
The house is less of a concern to me than what's been going
on inside it!
He's talking about the sodomy now, isn't he? You're talking
about the sodomy now, huh? Fear not, honey. A couple sprays
of "Fag-Be-Gone" and the place'll be pure as new!
Oh my goodness...
I think this isn't going very well.
Josh hands Wiley a set of keys.
Here are your keys. The bottom lock sometimes sticks a bit,
but a little oil--
--is good for so many things!
Wiley pockets the keys and picks up
We should be on our way.
Yes, it's a long drive.
God speed to you.
(under his breath)
The lord's name...
No. I do not say it in vain.
Josh stares at Wiley in earnest. Wiley
doesn't know what to make of it. He
and Margaret exit quickly.
Kevin stares back at him, then shrugs
his shoulders and exits with a
LIGHTS DOWN to a SPECIAL on Josh.
He's not always like that. But uprooting your life isn't an
easy thing. I think he'll have an easier time getting
established here than I will, though. Nurses are a desired
commodity in every city. Nondenominational spiritual
lecturer-counselors, on the other hand, are more of a niche
market. I don't just get transferred to another church, like
I'm sure Mr. Red-State-Lord's-Name-in-Vain did. I have to
set up my own one-man-show...well...God has to set it up, if
you want to get technical. Though I suspect Reverend Name-in
Vain would debate whether we're talking about the same God.
Mine's the one you're not supposed to be afraid of getting
smote by. Have a nice day.
CROSS FADE to another SPECIAL, where
MALCOLM stands, once again on a cell
phone. (He is back to the slightly
mannered gestures he used when we first
Yes, this is Malcolm Dupree. I'll be your new
pharmacological rep...Yes, they've expanded my zone further
west to include your hospital. Say, by any chance, has a
friend of mine transferred onto your nursing staff?...His
name is Kevin Blair...Yes, I appreciate your looking. I'll
LIGHTS DOWN on Malcolm.
In a parallel sequence, WILEY and
MARGARET stand in line waiting for a
RED STATES CUSTOMS AGENT.
Wiley reads from a newspaper.
(Margaret's demeanor reveals a wry
Damn! Why they insisted on us splitting the military with
them! I don't know what those liberal queers and hippies
need with a military...they were always trying to dismantle
it when we were one country. And now each of us only gets
half a military!
Well, maybe it's for the best...
It's for the best that the one remaining superpower is now
two laughable half-pints?
I'm just not sure it was ever a good idea to have only one
superpower in the world.
It was us, Margaret! We were the superpower...the righteous
inheritors of God's power.
Well, Wiley, I guess if God considers us his righteous
inheritors, he'll bequeath some more to us, now that we're
all in one place.
The RED STATE CUSTOMS AGENT calls out a
RED STATE CUSTOMS AGENT
That's us, Margaret.
They approach the Customs Agent,
handing their passports.
RED STATE CUSTOMS AGENT
Welcome to the Red States of America, in the name of Jesus
Thank you! His name be praised.
RED STATE CUSTOMS AGENT
Are you emigrating to our country, Reverend and Mrs. Goodson?
RED STATE CUSTOMS AGENT
Praise God. Have you made arrangements for housing?
Yes, sir. We're participating in the Parallel Swap program.
Unfortunately, our new house belonged to homosexuals.
Dear, you can let it go.
RED STATE CUSTOMS AGENT
Luckily, Reverend, a coat of paint can change all that...and
now there's a few less homosexuals in our country.
Amen to that.
RED STATE CUSTOMS AGENT
Love the home, hate the sinners.
Wiley and the Customs Agent have a bit
of a laugh together. The Customs Agent
stamps their passports and hands them
RED STATE CUSTOMS AGENT
You good folks are all set. And welcome home. God is
jubilant that you are here.
A nurse's station of a hospital. KEVIN
is on the phone.
Right...Yes, I did get my signed contract back. I think
we're all set...Yeah, I'm the only one on the floor tonight,
but it seems like it'll be slow...Right, huh, they put the
new kid out there alone?...No, I'll be fine. This isn't my
first shift, or my first hospital...Yeah, thanks...'Kay, bye.
Kevin hangs up and begins typing
something into the computer. MALCOLM
Oh my god...Malcolm. What are...?
Is the question, What are you doing here? Or, How did I find
This hospital is part of my new region. Funny coincidence
that you also happen to be working here, huh? The really
funny thing, to me, though, is why you took a permanent job
here...when you told me you were just coming to California
for a visit. I bet you've got a whole new Blue States
Malcolm, I'm sorry if I misled you--
I feel like a fucking stalker, tracking you down like this,
you know? I'm not a stalker, Kevin. But I had to find out
why I hadn't gotten the memo that we were over. That is what
all this means, right? We're over?
Malcolm, we can't do this here. This is a hospital.
I'm aware this is a hospital, Kevin. I make my living
selling freaking drugs to hospitals. I met your sorry but
beautiful ass in a hospital. I've even had that ass in a
hospital. You didn't forget that along with the change-of
address forms, did you Kevin?
I haven't forgotten anything about you, Malcolm. The
excitement, the intensity...the night you threatened to tell
Josh about us.
I was frustrated.
You were Glenn Close about to boil a bunny! It scared the
fuck out of me.
(caressing Kevin gently)
And I only want the fuck going into you...
(stopping Malcolm's hand)
I never led you on. This was always going to be a casual
No reason it can't keep on being that...
If you're gonna go all psycho on me again...
I'll save the intensity for the empty bed in the private room
down the hall. The rest of the time I'll be meek as a
Kevin looks at him with a mix of
apprehension and heat.
WILEY and MARGARET are looking around
their new home, along with SALLY-
somewhere between pretty and plain,
I think this house should do you fine, Father Goodson.
As soon as we get some of the queerness out of here. What is
that in the fireplace?
I think it's a candelabra, dear.
Well, logs belong in a fireplace. Unless you're Liberace.
Why isn't my son here, Sally?
He had to go out of town to deal with a book shipment, Father
Goodson. He wasn't sure how long he'd be gone.
It's a wife's job to give her husband a reason to come back
Yes, Father Goodson. Mother Goodson, can I make you a cup of
That would be lovely, dear.
She's a dutiful wife, Wiley. You can't blame her if Hank's
work takes him out of town so often.
If he were in town a little more, maybe we'd have some
grandchildren by now.
God's will, dear.
As I recall, God only did the impregnating once. Since then,
it's been up to husbands.
Yes, dear. Will that be part of your first sermon this
LIGHTS DOWN on house, SPECIAL UP on
Wiley at a pulpit.
God's will is clear. It's all in the Book. And the more we
are willing to take our chosen roles in His plan, the more he
smiles down upon us and gives us his blessings. If you
choose to ignore his instructions, and lead a life of
debauchery and fornication and homosexuality...Well, we had
New Orleans as a testament to what God's response will be,
didn't we? "God-fearing" is not an idle expression. Be very
clear: If you do not follow His Word, you will incur His
wrath. Now let us pray.
LIGHTS SHIFT to after the service, with
Wiley and Margaret greeting
parishioners. Sally approaches them
with HANK (the same actor as Malcolm).
Wonderful sermon, Father Goodson.
Yes, Dad. And your very first one at the new church.
Thank you, children. It's good that you made it back from
your business trip in time, Hank.
Yes, honey. It wouldn't have been the same without you.
I'm glad it worked out, Mom. You make us all proud to be God
fearing Christians, Dad.
Christ be with you. We'll see you later for Sunday supper.
Now go spend some quality time with your wife.
(a bit nonplussed)
Good morning, Reverend.
Sally and Hank exit to another spot on
the stage. LIGHTS OUT on Wiley and
What did he mean by that, Sally?
"Quality time with my wife." What have you been telling him?
Noth--nothing. He just started in again the other night
about wanting grandchildren. I didn't say anything.
There isn't anything to say...is there?
No, Hank...of course not.
Hank crosses off. Lights down to a
SPECIAL on Sally.
I was taught to turn to God in my hour of need. But I
started having so many hours of need, I realized that it
might be best never to turn away from God. That's when I
accepted Jesus. I guess what I find most comforting is that
Jesus likes me more than I do. I'm not particularly
smart...or pretty...or fascinating. And I worry that I'm not
enough for my husband, or that I'm a disappointment to Mother
Goodson and the Reverend. But Jesus--it seems to me--loves
me as I am. And I love me better when I'm loving Him. I
don't think I'm going to accomplish great and brilliant
things in this life. I've set the bar much lower than that.
I'd be happy if Jesus just took away most of the hours of
CROSS FADE to JOSH and KEVIN, putting
together an Ikea bookcase, which is
strewn in pieces before them.
Do you see lug nut "B" anywhere?
Man, we're so butch we're almost lesbians.
Lesbians would've cut their own wood.
Only because they don't pop wood of their own. Here.
Kevin hands him a metal piece.
That's a joist, not a lug nut. Yes, you're very butch.
Well, this isn't my field. I can tell a rectal thermometer
from an oral one.
You weren't making much of a distinction between rectal and
oral last night, young man.
(moving in romantically)
That wasn't a thermometer.
They kiss, and Josh lets go of the
piece of wood he's holding, which drops
on his thumb and makes him pull away.
Ow! Son of a--!
Josh holds his thumb with his other
hand, closes his eyes, and tries to
This pain isn't real. This body isn't real. Relieve me of
Kevin, frustrated, stands by and
MATTHEW SHEPARD--early 20s, blond and
delicate-featured--enters silently and
stands behind Kevin (in Josh's line of
Josh eventually opens his eyes.
That Fred creep is coming to California.
Kevin, unsure, turns to look behind
himself and sees nothing.
Y'know, the Fred creep...the jerk who calls himself a
Reverend, and boycotts all the AIDS funerals.
Including Matthew Shepard's...
Yeah. I can't believe the old fucker is still alive.
Matthew gets up and silently exits.
You'd think there'd be some people denied entry to this
He'll be spreading his hate two hours from here. I think we
should go boycott the boycotters.
He's not my enemy. Hating him is my enemy.
(under his breath)
CROSS FADE to Wiley, Margaret, Sally
and Hank sitting around the television
set in the living room, after dinner.
Does someone from a Blue State owe you money? Have you heard
how impossible it is to collect on that debt, now that
they're a separate country? Well, let the law offices of
Hector Wingate pursue that deadbeat for you--
Wiley clicks the remote at the TV.
God bless the mute button.
That was a fine meal, Mom.
Yes, Mother Goodson. But I wish you had let me help you
clean up afterward.
That's very sweet, dear. But I know how everything's
supposed to be.
Wiley turns the sound back on.
NEWS ANCHOR (V.O.)
Our top story tonight, a new scandal as a minister stands
accused of the sexual molestation of his young parishioners.
(rapt attention, to the screen)
Red or Blue...Red or Blue...?
NEWS ANCHOR (V.O.)
Red States pastor Maurice Beauregard of Atlanta is under
Wiley mutes the sound again.
Margaret's demeanor moves to avoidance.
(under his breath)
I have to say, I think the newscasters dress better here than
in the Blue States.
Dad, if it makes you feel any better, I just read that a Blue
States man was arrested for molesting his two children.
...With more polish and decorum.
Why would that make your father feel better?
Well...it evens up the score. Maybe even gives the Red States
a point up, since molesting your own kid is worse than
Television seems better in general here.
I'm sure those Blue State heathens are committing far more
atrocities than the Red States...they just own their media,
and nobody hears about it.
I'm sure you're right.
I appreciate Red State cable not including that Jon Stewart
program. I find him insolent.
Why is one molestation better than another?
Everyone's getting sodomized in the new Sodom and Gommorah.
I would think that being molested by your connection to the
Holy Father might be as bad as--
For the love of God, why are we having this conversation?!
JOSH sits at his desk in the home
office, idly playing with a desk toy.
My first counseling client in this New Land called me this
morning. He asked if perhaps I had a window open in my
schedule for today. I said yes...I didn't launch into how
I'm all windows right now. But I have to remember to have
faith about it. The Universe abhors a vacuum, and all that.
Life junctures like this--when I find myself with a lot of
unstructured time--I have the blessed opportunity to see just
how much dirt I've let accumulate under the carpet I call my
psyche. Y'see, I'm great helping a room full of open
hearted souls process a tragedy, and they're cleaned out on
the other side of it. But me? Well...not necessarily. Two
"big jolts" are still impacted...well, they bring me to my
knees when I let myself think about them. One is 9/11. The
other is Matthew Shepard. I know that some people in the Old
Country probably think it's sacrilege to speak of those two
in the same thought: How could the death of one gay boy mean
as much as the deaths of thousands of Amurricans at the hands
of the entire Arab world. But, y'know, Matthew Shepard is
actually harder for me to deal with. I can abstract the
concept of "thousands of deaths"...but the image of that one,
terrified, angelic-looking blond boy...God, I even thought I
hallucinated him the other day...
Josh looks up and sees MATTHEW sitting
across from him in a chair.
Oh, my G--...You're not real, right?
Matthew gives him a bit of a shrug.
Beat. Josh bursts into tears.
(trying to stop crying)
Y'see? I just haven't dealt with it...with...
Josh stares at Matthew again.
I'm so sorry...for all of us.
Josh begins to cry again. Matthew gets
up from the chair and crosses to Josh,
gently and comfortingly caressing his
cheek, with a sympathetic look on his
Then Matthew begins to move away,
crossing toward the door. O.S. we hear
a male voice.
(to himself, pulling himself
Matthew gives Josh one last kind look,
then exits and crosses paths with ADAM
(the same actor playing Malcolm and
Hank) as he enters.
No, no. Sorry. You're Mr. Brady?
Very well, Adam. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable.
I was a bit surprised to get your phone call for an
appointment. I haven't been in town very long to get the
Actually, your reputation precedes you. I heard about your
work in Nevada, and when I learned you'd be moving here--
How did you find out, Adam? I don't even think the ad is in
the paper yet.
Josh, I've heard some of your tapes and read your book. We
could certainly devote our attention to details like how I
found out you were here, but don't you like to say there's a
whole level of life more important than the minutia?
Point taken, Adam. What have you come to see me about today?
Do you know what D.I.D. is?
Dissociative disorder? You mean like multiple personalities?
So you are familiar with it?
Well, it was part of my course of counseling studies, but I
couldn't say I'm an authority.
People don't come to see you because you're a medical
authority, do they Reverend?
No, Adam. They come to see me for a spiritual perspective on
their issues. Is that why you've come?
Well...is this an issue for you? Do you dissociate?
I don't, but he does.
Adam laughs softly at his own joke, but
Was that too subtle?
No, I got it. From what I recall of D.I.D, there is a base
personality and one or more alters. May I ask if you are--
I've always found that to be a very simplistic paradigm,
Josh. What if one of the so-called "alters" is more balanced
and socialized than the so-called "base personality"?
Well, I suppose that it would still depend on who created
You mean like God?
I beg your pardon?
I remember this in your book also. "The only difference
between us and God, ultimately, is that God created us and we
didn't create Him."
Well, I can't really take credit for that. It's a paraphrase
"A Course in Miracles," yes, I know.
You seem extremely intelligent, Adam.
My capacities are practically god-like...if only I'd created
Is...that your way of telling me that you're the alter?
"The" alter...that's rather presumptuous, don't you think?
Assuming that I'm the whole show? Sybil had eighteen. Am I
not cuter than Sybil?
Then I should assume there are--
Three. A total of three personalities. One god and two
alters. And beware of which god you put on your altars, Rev.
You have a way with words, Adam.
Gosh. Like, thanks.
Since I think I can assume you weren't named by parents, I
wonder about the derivation of your name: Adam Brady.
That's a pretty sharp line of questioning for someone who
isn't a medical guy. You channeling some Higher Source for
I've been working with people a long time...and with a Higher
Source even longer. I think I can figure out the Adam part--
Foundational man, made from twigs and leaves...pretty basic
But I wonder about the Brady part...
(singing a line from the "Brady
"Till the one day when the lady met this fellow..."
I don't get it.
Well, you're not getting everything on the first date, Josh.
Not even if you buy me dinner.
Are you gay, Adam?
No, but your boyfriend is.
That's certainly true.
What do I owe you for this session?
Are you done? It doesn't seem like we've addressed whatever
it was that brought you to--
Do you need specific help, Adam? Should I be concerned about
your base personali--?
Do I seem incapable, Josh? I realize I'm not the founding
father in this little triad I call my mind, but I've been
keeping things copacetic.
Is there someone I should contact? The base personality's
No, thanks. But you have met some of them...
And you're only one degree of separation from the other
That is a bit discomfiting, Adam.
Discomfort would pertain to fear, Reverend. And wouldn't you
suggest choosing love over fear?
Who in my life are you saying that your alter is close to?
Adam opens the door to leave.
Thank you for seeing me, Josh. May I call you for another
appointment when I'm in town? And then you could tell me how
much I owe you for your services...I can embezzle it from one
of the alter boys. Bye now.
Adam exits, leaving Josh uncertain.
[END OF EXCERPT]