Scott MacLeod
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     Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I think I wrote this late 2005 or early 2006. As yet unproduced.


Lights up suddenly & very bright, to reveal Napoleon standing downstage center in strong frontal spotlight. Whole stage is fully lit also. Napoleon is wearing a fully-buttoned greatcoat and his trademark hat. Left hand is inserted fully into coat, right hand is wrapped with a blood y bandage. He is facing the audience but looking out over it rather than directly at it.


Beached here. Sans ocean. Sucking moisture from sand, in lieu of water.

I will not weary the reader with a description of measured, floating, unconcerned intervals, taken for targets, into which the storm has fallen, destroying the object before it.

Pretend instead we are secure again in the presence of the military, in the dark tides of safety, watching church towers slide down into ruin, carring away both rudder and anchor, night and the dawn rising up like flotsam, and an almost continuous streamer of loneliness in human skins.

Apparently we are getting ready for a struggle. Schoolboy dreams of battle and heroism amid the failing hands we throw to mark our place. And in the sky the sight of all this armament, imagination mysterious as well as busy, and morning contains only a vague, sketchy description of the killing of an inch of ourselves, every jolt, the blood busy in our pit with a hollow sound of hammering as the dead on the outskirts lock up, lights out, and leave.

The man in a ditch with a flag on a long pole, become belligerent for some desperate glory without success.

We are helpless in that pit of ours, swollen full of flags and pennants and sadness come clattering down like hussars burst into smoky red flame under the railway bridge where men fall into heard music and the colours of earth. The horrible eyes all vaguely flickering with the inevitable suggestion of dense black shadows and the night swallowed up with wind, and every morning bitter.

Our heritage, that colossal mechanism so lonely laid away. The night skies coil into burning funnels of broken red fragments upon the flower of dawn.

A wounded soldier runs in from stage left, in a tattered uniform, head bare except for a bloody bandage wrapped horizontally around his forehead. He is reaching towards Napoleon but collapses face down at Napoleon’s feet. Pause a few beats. Soldier raises his head to speak.


Music means more words. Then the widows start to cry. I don’t know how Márechal Rumsford manages it. Pause. They say he is a pretty remarkable man: the bread of life that motivated and sustains these wars. The manna of the hour. His legacy is, perhaps, the saddest song ever written.

Head Wound Soldier dies.


Some funerals, okay. Rise, arise, rise again other nations from the tomb.

Everyone is OK with captured plunder and lands to count. From the tomb to the sacrament we rise.

So many of the dead are women and children and a justification for nothing in particular. Exult, rejoice, not having a chance to warm up.

And there's dust in my eyes, that blinds my sight from death to triumph.

Empire into funeral. I left friends like that. In chaos and unable. It's always the young that lose their lives.

From death to triumph you arise, you rise again, sweet terribleness of war. Behold, what thou hast already desperately needed, flown dark and troubled to an oily sea.

A wounded soldier stumbles in from stage right, in a tattered uniform, one of his arms in a bloody sling. He slumps to his knees at Napoleon’s side. Pause a few beats. Soldier, remaining on his knees, straightens his spine and raises his head to speak.


Grave report from the lands around. Taps on a boombox, lowered into the grave. Brave, likable soul mourned for just a few seconds. The nation's way of saying thank-you, and goodbye. Pause. For his army remembers him as a heavy burden, a grim intimation of what is to be.

Bloody Sling Soldier dies.


Both mine eyes run down with water. There's sadness, of course, at a funeral for old laws.

Nowadays, Paradise lies out of reach for us. The rapid spread of war makes foes of us all for evermore.

One of the advantages of being a member of the conquered nations is that all that is on earth will mourn you. How you are crushed. They mourn in groups, wearing the river of lost love and dedication. Sad songs from sweet mouths acting out the day's grief.

Or, here's another view: 'How can I compensate you?' As you were destroyed through betrayal.

By then, the rapid white golf pants and navy blue blazers are again attracted with anxiety to their fount of faith: conquest. Fresh blood without remorse.

And bear this paranoia upon mine heart for ever.

A wounded female soldier stumbles in from stage left, in a tattered uniform, one of her legs in a bloody splint. She stumbles across the stage and comes to a stop just behind and next to Napoleon. She is bent over slightly because of the pain. Pause a few beats.


Another catalyst emerges from the battlefields, restricted by taxes and weakened like locusts at the moment of truth. Your bridegroom is absorbing the burgeoning success of conquering countries with ease.

O sorrow! O woe! An honor guard lies over the land. One world, one soul enslaved, denounced and departed.

Times pass, the rivers roll. The bugler finally cracks the sixth note.

How can we not bemoan the death of a trumpet player?

Bloody Splint Soldier does not die but sinks slowly to her knees, clutching her stomach.


All those faint, lurid reports.

The Nile, the Euphrates, the Thames. It's hard to get a bugler to all of them.

Now the people find themselves crucified and the bugle spread to the unused land. It was the eve of unclear lights. Sword, rapine, and flame where there had been a garden. Subjects belonging to the place which was as yet unused.

The melody, unadorned and understated, wiping out riches, terrorizing people with the defense of itself. Paired with aggressive expansion, it seems a fitting tribute to the spirit of pitiable murder.

Everyone attacked but in awe, a delusive transition between the last note of each phrase, which had been taken down, and silence. Sounds like music coming from nowhere.

From a purely technical standpoint, it isn't a difficult song to play.

The people were the property to be defended, a scene that he mourns for. I let my emotions get to me.

Burial customs connect all the broken functions. Numerous and ardent.

Life, it’s obvious: inches beyond the possible.

Also that you be made to remember.


Had Mr. Rumsfeld willed, he could have explained the prodigious amount of mourning. Writing melancholy verses with a sorrowful hand, himself. A cascade adjacent to prophecy. One listener said it sounded like a swiftly stifled sob.

You may strike the necks of those who disbelieve in verse in wartime.


I have several explanations for this situation, a war situation, a situation that lasts until the war ends.

I stand where the trumpet set them free.


His knees encircled with blood seas. Some days, he says, are troubled, counter to, rather than survival and the continuation. Fighting to keep his lips from quivering.

A gunshot rings out and Bloody Splint Soldier falls forward, dead.

Center spotlight on Napoleon begins to slowly dim throughout his following speech, so that by the end of his speech he is in darkness. The rest of the lighting remains the same, so Napoleon is dark and the rest of the stage is brightly lit. At least I mean that this is the sense of things and should be approximated as much as possible without overdue fuss.


Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld.

Your insurgencies hang heavily down upon the desert. All the people have now acknowledged: it's not enough, it's not enough.

Believers are once again trying to use the horrific tales of the continuing past as a staging post to the future. So here they come to destroy the will of the law. The law is no more, and the lack of alliance annihilates what is left of the people.

The best proof of this occupation is the tombstones stretched out in perfect formation under the bright and cloudless space of a thousand years.

In this super-flat space there shall be no more need of plots, nor contrivances, nor designs to creep into our skirts, burrow in our walls. The enemy does not need captains, engines, soldiers, or men of war, or the noise of the drum.

Behind them, this unfortunate boy was blinded. He's the best proof of their eagerness to destroy and murder. He’s standing still and straight at the graves of veterans, waiting to hear seven bugle blasts, his cue to raise his rifle to his lips.

He is in his youth or in a dream, he can't be precise. The tone wavers. So many enemies made for silence.

He awakes to a morning with no reason for waking.

But it is a duty as agreed. Nothing is more sacred in the days of apostasy.

Somberly: Allaheluia.*


Fairly loud but without raising their heads.


A military drummer wearing some sort of helmet on his or her head marches slowly in from stage left, carrying snare drum horizontally at belt-buckle-height, playing it with drumsticks. The drummer’s tune is the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island,” arranged as a military march. The drummer should play a couple bars, so that the audience has a good chance of dissecting the arrangement, realizing what the song is originally from, and, hopefully, laughing. After a couple bars or after a good gust of audience laughter, a gunshot rings out and the drummer falls dead.

All lights out.


* Note that this is not the standard “Alleluia” but a pun, & should be pronounced “Allah-heluia.”
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