Art Pact 226 - Answers about love


[SCENE: AN EMPTY ROOM. No AND Yes SIT ON A BENCH. BESIDE THE BENCH IS A SMALL COFFEE TABLE ON WHICH AN EMPTY VASE SITS]

No: Ah, well - there's nothing more we could do about that. But let me ask you a question. Have you ever been in love? I mean, not the sort of in love where you say you're in love, but the sort where you really are.

Yes: That sounds like- I mean, I resent the implication. You're calling me a liar. The worst kind of liar.

No: The worst kind of liar? That seems a little presumptuous. Let me tell you a story. When I was younger I asked my vicar whether such-and-such a person was going to hell.

Yes: Who is this such-and-such? That sounds like a foreign name.

No: Again I must disabuse you.

Yes: I prefer it to the alternative, which brings to mind your point. Continue with your story about a priest.

No: A vicar, I said. Let us say that my enemy was Mr. N. E. Body.

Yes: That matches what I know of you. Quite plausible! Continue.

No: This person, N. E. Body, was a thief - and, I knew to my cost, a seducer of the wives of others.

Yes: To your cost? When you said "younger" I imagined you a child at this juncture. Were you then old enough to be married? Or were you married at a young age. Mmmm, mmmm, I understand - you were promised in marriage to a woman older than you, and before you could grow enough to service her womanly needs, she was swept away by this old so-and-so.

No: Such-and-such, I said.

Yes: I stand corrected.

No: Not corrected enough, for neither was I married nor was it my own wife seduced by this excuse for a Christian. He was the man who drove a wedge between my mother and my father.

Yes: They must have been very close.

No: Certainly before, though not after. Once there was space between them, he occupied it.

Yes: In the formation of a menage-a-trois?

No: You are far too literal, in addition to your incorrect assumptions about my marriages.

Yes: You have been married more than once? Good lord, the things I do not know.

No: There have been many attempts to enumerate such, I believe they are commonly referred to as libraries. But this is all beside the point. I want you to remember only that such-and-such...

Yes: AKA so-and-so...

No: AKA N. E. Body...

Yes: Yes, yes. We understand.

No: That this person to whom we have devoted so much of our brief lives referring was a scoundrel of the highest order, and that if there were ever a more deserving case for hell's admission policy living in our village, I could not name him.

Yes: I believe that. Indeed, your principal skill appears to be in the not-naming of people.

No: I asked, therefore, our vicar - that is to say, the vicar of the church which stood on the outskirts of our village, because it was clear that he belonged not to us, but to the church itself - whether this person would be bound for hell - as I believed to be the case, or wished to be the case for the sake of my nascent understanding of extra-corporeal justice.

Yes: A belief which you still hold?

No: If I did, I should certainly not say so here, not where it might be used against me. These walls have ears, you know.

[NO LOOKS NERVOUSLY INTO THE AUDIENCE]

Yes: Common or garden paranoia. When you have come to your senses again, perhaps you would enlighten us as to the reply your vicar gave you.

No: Us?

Yes: I mean me.

No: But you said us.

Yes: No, I said me.

No: You said us, but you meant me - that is to say, you.

Yes: I both said and meant myself. Go on.

[NO LOOKS AT HIM SUSPICIOUSLY]

No: Alright. Well listen then.

Yes: We are.

No: ...

Yes: That was a joke.

No: Keep them to yourself in future. There's no room here for humour. There are special rooms where the jokes happen. Here is what he said.

Yes: Proceed.

No: He said that he believed that no-one truly went to hell, with the exception of Judas Iscariot.

Yes: Judas Iscariot?

No: Yes. Do you see what I'm getting at here?

Yes: Yes! [HE THINKS FOR A MOMENT] No.

No: Who is the worst person you can think of?

Yes: Hitler, I suppose. Can I say Hitler?

No: I should have been surprised if you had said any other. Now, imagine you are in charge of hell.

Yes: Fortunately whenever we converse, it becomes easy to imagine.

No: Two people come to you, and you have to decide who to take into hell and who to reject.

Yes: I see. I choose the one on the right.

No: Don't be so quick off the mark. There's more.

Yes: I was afraid of that.

No: One of these people-

Yes: Is it the one on the right?

No: Ignore that. One of these people sold out a friend in a moment of weakness. He regretted it so much that he killed himself.

Yes: That's bad.

No: Quite. But the other person had millions of people killed. He did not regret it.

Yes: That sounds worse. He's on the right, too. I let him in.

No: Right! Yes! Thank you! Wait a minute. Are you letting him in because of what he did, or just because he's on the right?

Yes: Yes.

No: No, I meant, which one?

Yes: The one on the right - I mean, because of his many crimes. His many, many crimes.

No: Exactly. If there's room in hell for Judas Iscariot, there's room in there for Hitler. If there's only room for one person, Hitler it is. You see my point?

Yes: Yes. I mean, no.

No: That's what I was afraid of.

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