The Book of Jo: A Play

BookJob[The scene opens on two men playing at a board game on a table. The stage is bare.]

1: I find this dull.

2: That’s why you’re losing.

1: Don’t do that.

2: What?

1: Don’t strike that high and mighty, know-it-all tone. It doesn’t impress me. I know I’m losing. I always lose.

2: So why do you keep playing then?

1: Nature, I suppose.

2: No. Not nature.

1: You’re doing it again.

2: Being know-it-all is in my nature.

[Pause]

2: Where have you been, of late?

1: You ought to know.

2: Indulge me.

1: Wandering to and fro about the circle of the earth.

2: How do you find it?

1: Dull.

2: You’re a poor judge.

1: Prove me wrong then. Everywhere it is the same. They are obsessed with misery.

2: I would have thought you’d rather enjoy that.

1: So would I. I did at first, but one can only take so much—hey!

2: Checkmate.

1: You can’t do that. That is against the rules.

2: I don’t play by the rules.

1: It’s not fair. Everyone else does. Even them. Even me.

2:  And that’s in your nature. Another game.

1: [Growls and nods]

[Both begin setting up pieces for another game.]

2: Have you considered my servant Jo?

1: Be more specific.

2: Don’t play dumb.

1: I’ve noticed.

2: She’s excellent.

1: Sure.

2: A fearer of God and a shunner of evil.

1: Uh-huh. Great.

2: Do you ever think your own boredom might be a little self-fulfilling?

1: No. Look here. I’m certain you’ve very proud of her. She’s a perfect little angel—

2: Don’t mock her. I’ll only tell you once.

1: Fine. She’s perfect, but who wouldn’t be? She—not again.

2: Checkmate.

1: You can’t do that.

2: Of course I can.

1: I’m sick of this. [Throws board.]

2: Are you through?

1: This! This is why nobody likes you. You keep changing the rules.

2: There never were any rules.

1: [Sighs.] No, but the people think there are. They expect there to be. And if you would just play by them, they would all love you. That Jo girl of yours? The one you’re so proud of? She loves you because of the rules. She’s got a good family. She’s got money. She does what you say and it’s worked out pretty well for her. Who wouldn’t be content with you, given all that?

2: You weren’t.

[Pause]

1: What do you think she’d be like if you took all that away?

2: I don’t deal in hypotheticals.

1: Nonsense. You’re always saying “If you do this, then I will do that.” You said it your precious Chosen People for the better part of four thousand years. What’s that if not a hypothetical?

2: A standard.

1: Fine. A standard then. Do you think it’s a standard this girl would care about meeting if she didn’t have so much?

2: I do.

1: I suggest a game then.

2: With Jo?

1: Aye. Take away the things she loves. Poison her wells. My wager is, she’ll curse you and die.

2: Death isn’t much of a game.

1: Not anymore. Everyone’s so touchy about it of late. Is that your doing?

2: You can’t kill her. You can’t lay a finger on her.

1: Fine. There’d be no fun in that anyway.

2: Very well.

1: You can’t change the rules this time.

2: You’ve never understood that there are things bigger than rules.

1: You’re right. I don’t. Neither do they. When you get down to it, they and I really want the same thing—just a little bit of fair treatment from you.

2: You’re talking about things you can’t possibly understand.

1: Who are you to decide what the rest of us can and can’t understand?

2: I am that I am.

1: That doesn’t do me any more good than it does them.

2: Then who are you to darken my counsel with words without knowledge?

[Beat]

1: I so rarely understand a single word you say.

2: You chose this. Remember—you can’t touch the girl herself.

1: Very well. Until then, another game?

2: You hate these games.

1: True. But I’ve got nothing better to do.

[Lights]

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1 Comment

  1. Keji

     /  March 13, 2014

    Brilliant.

    Reply

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