The Rite of Luna by Nitnorth, 2002

Officers

Herr Krebs. Immigrant German Jew.

Sgt Beauregard Vine. American soldier.

Jacob Panos. Reporter.

Phil DiCaprio. American Socialist, younger man.

Lucy. Waitress at the bar, working mother.

Luna. The bartender.

Inside a New York bar, the evening of 7 Dec 1941. That morning, Japan bombed Pearl harbor. News reached New York shortly after 4 pm, and by 6 pm the nation was expecting attacks on the mainland at any moment. Panic ran high.

Our characters are acquaintances who know each other only through being customers at this bar, but they have been drinking together for some months.
Krebs and Vine both do not want war, each for their own reasons: they want to maintain the isolationist stance the US has followed up to this point.
Panos does want war, thinking that the changes this will bring will make the world more interesting and exciting.
DiCaprio also wants war, for the more idealistic reason that he expects this to advance Moscow's cause and hasten the coming workers' republic.

The bar is furnished with a radio to one side of the room.
A jazz band is set up and playing quietly in another part of the room.
Through a window along one wall, there is a view of the harbor looking out to the Statue of Liberty and the New Jersey shoreline.

Luna stands behind the bar.
Seated at the bar, Krebs is to her right and Vine to her left.
DiCaprio occupies a seat at a table near the bar, to one side.
Lucy works mostly to the other side of the room.

NOTE about Krebs: Through the first part, up to Panos's entrance, Krebs knocks once at the beginning of each of his lines, indicated by [1]. This is significant in the original rite that this script parallels. Treat these as emphatic gestures, slapping the bar, setting a glass down firmly, anything that seems in character. He also has other places where he knocks 9 times in 3 groups of 3, indicated by [333-333-333]. Do these as knocks on the bar, claps, again anything that fits the action and seems in character.

The Rite of Luna

[Introduction: Over the radio in the bar, a voice is heard reciting the Twelvefold Certitude of God from Liber 963.]

Krebs

[1] Are we at war yet?

Vine

What, again!? Boy, how many times are you going to ask that question?

Krebs

[1] Nine. Ninety-nine. Nine hundred and ninety-nine. Until I hear that we have been sensible, and remain at peace.

Vine

And when are you going to see that kind of sense just is not possible? Out there, they're seeing slanty-eyed, bomb-throwing lunatics under every bush and up every tree! Going home tonight, they'll be looking for spies in bed with their wives! With all this fuss, a man would think the Japs had bombed New York Harbor, not Pearl Harbor. We will go to war.

Krebs

[1] How can we go to war? We have no navy, no air force — they are gone! Destroyed! Yourself, you heard this not four hours ago!

Vine

How can we not go to war? Yes, yes, it's true we're kind of missing a few battleships, and maybe we lost an airplane or two. And no, we sure can't afford to build more — money's scarce, too many folks got no jobs, all this morning's problems are still with us this evening. And yet, listen to the talk: the people want revenge, want action — want war.

Krebs

[1] Then they must be brought to reason!

Vine

And who's going to accomplish this miracle? You? More likely you'll end up hanged for treason! There's no reasoning with people once they get the bit between their teeth.

Krebs

[1] We are the people, and we are not this way! Have we not the sword of reason?

Vine

You are just plain wrongheaded about how the common man thinks. Listen: how reasonable were those fellas in Germany back in '38? If folks can reason, they're still generally none too sharp; and that sword they're waving around out there, now that's a different manner of thing altogether.

Krebs

[1] Such crudity! Surely the Lady Liberty blushes to hear such talk from her sworn defender.

Vine

She'll be hearing a lot worse than that before all this gets done, I can promise you that. If she was any kind of a maiden this morning, I figure she is not that way right now.

Krebs

[1] It is not so! Are we not the wardens of her purity?

Vine

(mocking)

Oh, yes indeedy! Her noble warriors, sworn to protect her innoncence!

Krebs

[1] Yes, yes, the defenders of her chastity!

Vine

Upholders of her virgin honor!

Krebs

[1] Guardians of her virtue!

Vine

Keepers of the Holy Grail!

Panos

(slams open the door)

So! Seen any infiltrators around here?

DiCaprio

(lifts his glass toward Panos)

Only me. Watch carefully as I infiltrate Manhattan.

Krebs

Ah, Herr Panos, ever the reprobate. Have you no appreciation for the gravity of our position? Here we sit upon the very eve of destruction, and —

Vine

(interrupting)

—And without a doubt we must therefore eat, drink, and be merry. I do believe our young Socialist friend has the right of it. Bartender! Drinks for everybody!

Libations round 1 (sol: mead)

Krebs

(rapping to get attention)

[333-333-333]
So, Herr Panos, what news do you bring us on this night of nights?

Panos

(gesturing broadly)

Ah, what's the news? But, what is not the news? The dragon stirs, and raises up its head, and spews forth fire to burn away the night! A bloody sun has risen in the East, and now the light of heaven is transformed: a light that seemed at once inscrutable and as remote as any distant star has come to earth to touch us with its rays, to strike us blind, afraid and wondering.

(recites Yeats' Second Coming:)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer; things fall apart, the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out when a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert a shape with lion body and the head of a man, a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, is moving its slow thighs, while all about it reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know that twenty centuries of stony sleep were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, and what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Vine

Well now, if you aren't just feeling your oats this evening! But have a look out there in the harbor: all is calm, all is well. The lamp still burns. Lady Liberty is not moved.

Krebs

Indeed, she is not! Let come what may, she is tranquil, she is still.

Panos

And is her calm so unshakable that she cannot be stirred to act?

Krebs

Surely not by a thing such as this, an attack half a world away.

Vine

Hear, hear! Bartender! Another round for our friends!

Libations round 2 (mercury: OJ/choline)

Krebs

(rapping impatiently, disturbed)

[333-333-333]

(speaking to himself)

We must seal up our borders.

(louder, to Vine)

These are treacherous times, a dangerous hour.

Vine

Strange days indeed! A rising sun rains down fire on the sea, and raises up a storm that shakes the whole earth. How are we supposed to protect ourselves against a thing like that?

All actors except Vine freeze in place.

Vine

[this is a variant of LBRP]

(begin at the center of the room, facing east, i.e., toward Luna)

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, amen.

(to the east)

Just the idea of Liberty, what a blessed thing!

(to the north)

My Lord! That Liberty lives in me, what a glorious thing!

(to the west)

That I am, we are free, what an amazing thought!

(to the south)

That Liberty should never vanish from the earth, what a vision!

(at the center, facing east, arms extended)

I am her body and her blood, hers is the will that moves my hand. Liberty is in me, and I in her, and from this place we will not be moved.

(lower arms)

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, amen.

(return to seat)

Motion resumes.

Vine

I fear I am too sober for these dire events. Bartender! Drinks for everyone!

Libations round 3 (venus: damiana)

Krebs

[333-333-333]
Such a miserable thing! It is as though the planets are somehow aligned against us. Away, vile things!

All actors except Krebs freeze in place.

Krebs

[this is a variant of LBRH]

(Facing east, hands together at chest)

Berashith bara Elohim et ha-sh'mayim v'et ha-aretz!

(In the beginning, Elohim created the heaven and the earth.)

(Extend the arms as a cross)

Oh mein Gott! Eins ist Dein Anfang! Eins ist Dein Geist, und Deine Vertauschung ist Eins!

(Oh my God! One is Thy Beginning! One is Thy Spirit, and Thy Permutation One!)

(Right arm up, left down, look left and down)

Nun, dann sah ich diese Dinge verkehrt und böse; und sie waren nicht, ebenso wie Du Nicht bist.

(Now, then I saw these things averse and evil; and they were not, even as Thou art Not.)

(Raise both arms, look up)

Sage Du, dass Er Gott eins ist; Gott ist der Ewige.

(Say thou that He God is one; God is the Everlasting One.)

(Cross arms across chest, bow head)

Am Ende ist alles Eins.

(At the end, it is all one.)

(Facing east, hands together at chest)

V'aihi tzerev v'aihi bokeir, yom achad.

(and there was evening and there was morning, day one.)

Motion resumes.

Krebs

Ach, such thoughts leave me parched. Bartender! Let this round be mine.

Libations round 4 (luna: belladonna beer)

Panos

(With a touch of sarcasm)

Surely heaven itself must take a part in this! If we are to insulate ourselves, must we not banish the very aether, that the Lady's calm not be disturbed?

All actors except Panos freeze in place.

Panos

How might we even contemplate a thing as strange as this, to insulate ourselves from even that wild thought that crafted us, to banish Thought itself? Away with it! I exorcise this kingdom of the flesh, I cast it loose to drift among the tides, unfocused, no foundation at its base, and wrap a cloud around it for a veil that even heaven's glory can't dispel! Beyond the reach of that benevolence for prayer of help or hope or victory, past form and substance, held within that Void wherein may come no beauty, no desire, I set the night as warden, that the Light should find no strength against austerity. All hope abandon, ye who enter here! Severity and mercy put aside: let both those names be spoken as a curse, and understanding fallen by the way. I will them not: I will not mind, not thought, not wisdom, intuition, anything. And thus ... the ultimate, true anarchy: the Crown confounded, stymied at its source! And with the hosts of heaven held at bay, the Limitless negated, impotent, the world becomes a vessel into which I pour myself, to fashion as I will.

Motion resumes.

Panos

(to himself)

I am drunk, drunk with possibilities.

(louder)

—But not drunk enough! Bartender, another round!

Libations round 5 (mars: bloody mary)

Krebs

(applauds)

[333-333-333]
Bravo! With all this warding, surely our Lady Liberty is well-guarded.

Vine

Hear, hear! Our lily-white Lady Liberty is perfectly guarded!

DiCaprio

Oh, yes, I can hear it now, the frustrated buzzing of a million Japanese mosquitoes banging their blood-sucking noses against our invisible psychic screen!

Vine

Perhaps they should test their bite against your Comrade Stalin.

DiCaprio

Perhaps they should. Moscow would not be slow to defend itself.

Panos

Or, who knows, perhaps these Japanese are bees and not mosquitoes; and having exhausted their sting, can now do nothing but die.

DiCaprio

Yes, of course, that must be it.

(to Vine)

You see? We have defended ourselves without ever firing a shot!

Panos

See how well our shrine is guarded!

Vine

I swear, butter wouldn't melt in your mouths. Mark my words, when we do declare war, you're the first two I'll have taken out and shot.

Panos

War? What war!? There's no need — we've been to war, it's done, we won!

DiCaprio

A drink, to celbrate our victory! Bartender! I believe it must be my turn to buy a round.

Libations round 6 (jupiter: pinot noir)

Panos

(recites Kubla Khan, part I:)

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree: where Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea. So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round: And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! A savage place! as holy and enchanted as e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted by woman wailing for her demon-lover! And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, as if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, a mighty fountain momently was forced: amid whose swift half-intermitted burst huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail: and 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever it flung up momently the sacred river. Five miles meandering with a mazy motion through wood and dale the sacred river ran, then reached the caverns measureless to man, and sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean: and 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far ancestral voices prophesying war!

Krebs

Riboyne shel'Olem!

Vine

May that spirit never be awakened!

Panos

Ah, you unimaginative dullards!

Panos grabs Lucy for a short impromptu dance.
While they are dancing, he begins to recite Kubla Khan, part II.

Panos

A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw: it was an Abyssinian maid, and on her dulcimer she played, singing of Mount Abora. Could I revive within me Her symphony and song, To such a deep delight 'twould win me, That with music loud and long, I would build that dome in air, That sunny dome! those caves of ice!

Panos releases Lucy, continues speaking as he makes his way back to his seat.
Lucy continues dancing for a short while, bemusedly.

Panos

And all who heard should see them there, And all should cry, Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread, For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise.

(collapsing in his chair)

Of what use is gold in the mine?

Krebs

(annoyed)

I'm sure that's quite enough of that sort of talk. —But, our glasses have all run dry.

Lucy

This round is on the house.

Libations round 7 (saturn: dark stout)

Panos

(recites Elizabeth Bishop's The Imaginary Iceberg:)

We'd rather have the iceberg than the ship, although it meant the end of travel. Although it stood stock still like cloudy rock and all the seas were moving marble. We'd rather have the iceberg than the ship; we'd rather own this breathing plain of snow though the ship's sails were laid upon the sea as the snow lies undissolved upon the water. O solemn, floating field, are you aware an iceberg takes repose with you, and when it wakes may pasture on your snows?

This is a scene a sailor'd give his eyes for. The ship's ignored. The iceberg rises and sinks again; its glassy pinnacles correct elliptics in the sky. This is a scene where he who treads the boards is artlessly rhetorical. The curtain is light enough to rise on finest ropes that airy twists of snow provide. The wits of these white peaks spar with the sun. Its weight the iceberg dares upon a shifting stage and stands and stares.

This iceberg cuts its facets from within. Like jewelry from a grave it saves itself perpetually and adorns only itself, perhaps the snows which so surprise us lying on the sea. Goodbye, we say, goodbye, the ship steers off where waves give in to one another's waves and clouds run in a warmer sky. Icebergs behoove the soul (both being self-made from elements least visible) to see them so: fleshed, fair, erected indivisible.

Vine

What on earth...? Son, I do believe you have taken complete leave of your senses. What the hell is that supposed to mean?

DiCaprio

It means, sit there on your iceberg and wave bye-bye, the ship's leaving.

Vine

What, off to war? You climb on the damn ship if you're so hot to fight! Maybe catching a few bullets might even teach you a thing or two.

Panos

Dying is easy. Learning to live, now, that's not so easy.

Vine

Sir, I pride myself on being a reasonable man, and just at this moment I'm reasonable sure that I'm standing in the way of an insult.

DiCaprio

Insult? Us? Never!

Krebs

Gentlemen! Enough! Let the fighting be outside — ours must be a peaceable kingdom. We must put aside our differences and have another drink.

Libations round 8 (uranus: "strange brew")

Krebs

And so, peace is restored.

Vine

I should say peace is by God not restored.

(to Panos)

I want to know just exactly what it was you were spouting, all those horse apples about the iceberg.

Panos

It's a poem by Elizabeth Bishop, The Invisible Iceberg. It seemed apropos.

Krebs

Preposterous! Apropos of what?

Panos

Us, here tonight, trying to wish the world away. What are we doing except sitting on our iceberg? The world moves on, whether we will or no. Change happens — it's inevitable. You can try to sit on the iceberg, —

DiCaprio

Except that then the iceberg melts.

Panos

— Or you can get on the boat, which is going somewhere. If you're lucky enough, or pushy enough, you even get to help steer. But either way, at least the scenery changes.

Vine

Yes, and then the boat springs a damn leak and there's sharks in the water. I am not interested in going where this particular ship is headed, straight to hell by the straightest possible course. Mama Vine didn't raise no fools, nor any martyrs either. What we need to do is to turn that tide.

Panos

This is not a finger-in-the-dike moment. You can't plug a tiny hole and hold back the sea. The levee is going to break.

Vine

You won't find me hanging around just waiting to drown. I'll be out there filling sandbags to stuff up the cracks.

DiCaprio

And be standing right in front of it when it all lets go? Better learn to swim. Or walk on water.

Vine

Boy, I have had just about all a man can take of you and your attitude.

DiCaprio

MY attitude? Look at you there in your soldier suit, trying like hell to run away from a fight!

Vine

Run away...! The hell, boy: is that what you think this is? Bless me if you aren't just about as smart as your average plow horse. My JOB is not about dying for my damn country, it's about deFENDing her and everything she stands for — including the right for you to shoot your damn fool mouth off when you can hardly muster up the smarts to spell your own name. I am derelict in my duty if I don't do everything I can to keep my country out of this war that we can not win.

DiCaprio

So you propose to defend liberty by keeping it locked in a box.

Vine

That's the only way. We can't win a war — we haven't the resources. It'd be pig-headed to try. Our best course is to wait it out.

DiCaprio

What happens when the Axis has conquered everything else and we're all that's left? If we can't beat three countries, how will we beat an entire world?

Vine

Why would the whole world be fighting us? Thing is, "conquered" and "converted" are not the same thing. All those countries they invade, they have to keep troops in 'em to make 'em stay conquered. They do that, it spreads 'em out, weakens 'em. Meantimes, we're building back up. If and when they do come here, it's a whole different war.

DiCaprio

Uh huh. And while we're sitting here on our backsides, all fat and comfortable, what about him?

(indicating Krebs)

Krebs

Me? What about me? What about me?

DiCaprio

You came here because the Germans burned you out. You said so: you came here so they couldn't kill you. What about your family, your friends, your town?

(turning back to Vine)

Did the Huns think hey, we kicked their butts, taught them a lesson, we can stop now? Or did they round them up and start shipping them off to God knows where? How are we supposed to sit around and watch while they get carted off someplace to be tortured and killed? How is that defending liberty?

Vine

I am not the whole world's daddy, and neither is the U.S. of A. We have a country to guard, our own country, and a duty to protect what we have before we go haring off trying to see that the rest of the world has it too.

DiCaprio

So you'll just sit back and let his family die, because they're not part of us?

Vine

I did NOT say that. What I said was, we have to pick our battles, take 'em in the correct order, so as to be sure we can win.

DiCaprio

And how much different is that from letting somebody die?

Vine

It's ... well ... not much, I guess, if you're standing in line for the hot seat. Not too much at all. And it's kind of scant comfort, knowing it's the difference between some folks dying and everybody dying, if you're the "some folks".

Panos

Living, dying, how different are they if you do all your living hiding in the dark hoping not to die?

Vine

You ever try dying, to where you'd know?

Panos

No, but I've tried a fair amount of living. To live cooped up in a cave, waiting for something bigger and meaner than you to storm in and take over ... do enough of that, and somehow dying doesn't seem so bad.

Vine

Alive in a cave, at least there's a way out. Don't see too many folks climbing back up out of a grave.

Panos

But that's the point: it isn't a way out unless you take it. Any door might as well be a brick wall until you open it up and walk through it.

Vine

Maybe so, but you don't just rush through every door you see.

(gesturing at the bar door)

Through that particular door, you got a kind of inside-out nut house: all the inmates are outside, running around looking for little yellow men who aren't there. Some doors, it's plumb foolish to walk through.

Panos

Ah, them. Pathetic, isn't it? They're all stuck in a different kind of prison. The worst part is, their prison doesn't even have a door, nor walls either — they're imagining it. In their own way, they're all busy dying.

Vine

Long as they don't try to take me with 'em when they go, is all I'm trying to say.

Panos

It isn't about living versus dying. Living, dying, it's all pretty much immaterial — unless you've figured out immortality, dying kind of comes with the territory. What matters is how you live while you live.

Luna rings the last call bell.

Krebs

Last call. It would appear that our remaining time is limited.

Vine

Yes, but we'll for damn sure go down fighting. Another round!

Libations round 9 (neptune: water)

Panos

There will be war. It's inevitable.

Vine

I know.

Panos

So, where will you be? Sitting on the iceberg, or steering the ship?

Vine

Not to worry, son: they can't hardly start the war without me. Wouldn't be proper.

Panos

It's not just that. War or not, tomorrow's world is going to be different than yesterday's. Whatever that world is, it's waiting for you to help build it.

Vine

Well now, is that so? Then I guess I'd best go grab me a hammer.

(To Krebs)

How about it, mein Herr: shall we go build us a brave new world?

Vine and Krebs leave the bar.

[ Somewhere during the course of the next conversation,
Lucy should leave the audience area of the bar. ]

DiCaprio

(to Panos)

Weird day, huh?

Panos

Perhaps. Or maybe it's just one more day like every other day, only this time it happened to us.

DiCaprio

Wow. I hope I never get to where this feels normal.

Panos

Did you ever learn to dance?

DiCaprio

What?

Panos

I asked, did you ever learn to dance?

DiCaprio

Dance!? Uh ... no, not really. No. Why?

Panos

Eh, just a thought. Those two ... at a guess, I'd say der Herr Professor did, but promptly forgot how; and soldier boy did because that's what a gentleman does, not because he understood why he should.

DiCaprio

What? Why "should" one learn to dance?

Panos

No reason. None at all. In fact, one shouldn't learn to dance. It's a complete waste of time.

DiCaprio

What? Then why did you ask if I knew how?

Panos

Because it's fun. It's frivolous, good for absolutely nothing, and it's fun. Dancing is a lot like laughing: you do it because it makes you feel good, not because you're supposed to.

DiCaprio

I'm sorry, I don't get it.

Panos

I can tell. Don't worry about it. I'm just muttering, doesn't mean anything.

DiCaprio

Uh. Right. Um ... don't you have, a, a deadline or something? I thought reporters always had deadlines.

Panos

No, that's editors. Editors have deadlines. Reporters just have editors. Anyway, it's not a problem.

(tapping his head)

I have all tomorrow's stories already, right here. And you?

DiCaprio

Um. Just home. Thought it might be about time to go home, you know? Tomorrow being a working day, and all.

Panos

Indeed, indeed. Well, take care. Don't get yourself blown up or anything.

DiCaprio

I'll, I'll try. Uh, see you.

DiCaprio leaves.

Panos

(After DiCaprio is gone)

And learn to dance!

(Turning toward Luna)

They don't get it.

Luna

(shrugs, smiles.)

Panos

Everything that happened, everything they heard and saw, and all they got was drunk. They just don't get it.

(turning away)

Probably never will ... probably never can. Ah, well. See you tomorrow.

Panos leaves.

After Panos has gone, Luna comes out from behind the bar, takes off her jacket and sets it on the bar, loosens her tie.
Band begins playing a slow version of Cabaret.
Luna sings.

Luna

What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play. Come to the cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret.

Put down your knitting, your book and your broom, come have a holiday. Life is a cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret.

Come taste the wine, come hear the band, come blow your horn, start celebrating, right this way, your table's waiting.

No use permitting some prophet of gloom to wipe every smile away. Come to the cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret.

Start by admitting that cradle to tomb, it isn't that long a stay. Life is a cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret.

In Oakland CA, it is
Thu, 19 Oct 2017 2:9 PM.
 

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