The Excursions of Mr. Emmanuel
A One Act Christmas Play
Dr. Lester CN Simon-Hazlewood
Scene: The porch of a small guest house in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda.
Jonathan: “It has become that time of evening.”
Mizpah: “When people sit on their porches.”
Jonathan: “Rocking gently and talking gently”
Mizpah: “And watching the street.”
Joseph: To see who will take in the non-national girl; big, big with child; and her Antiguan boyfriend.
Jonathan: “And the standing up into their sphere of possession of the trees…”
Joseph: You can ignore me and carry on reciting your poem. Even trees are better off than these poor folks.
Jonathan: “People go by; things go by”. Talking casually, I hear he is not the real boyfriend at all. Truth to tell, I hear he cannot have children. Dry; dry. Like an Antiguan drought.
Mizpah: You are always hearing something. You must be a radio station.
Jonathan: No my dear. You are the radio station. I am the listener, the observer.
Joseph: I would take her in, if I had my way in this guest house. She might be a non-national here, but she is a national of somewhere. The man can go and look after himself.
Jonathan: Yes, she is a national of the whole, wide, web of the Caribbean. You and Mizpah and all the rest of you think Caribbean people are going to wake up one morning and start to sing in harmony, “One Love. Let’s get together and feel alright”?
Mizpah: Why not. We are all one people.
Jonathan: For the same reason I cannot take in this wandering couple: It is not in my self-interest. Self-interest is what drives the world. The father of economics, Adam Smith, said so. Part of the money our foolish governments spent on the Caribbean Court of Justice should have been spent buying a few ferries; so that Caribbean people, including your wandering friends out on the street, can travel cheaply up and down the Caribbean and do business. You won’t have to sell Caribbean unity to people. They will be selling it to each other. Self-interest brings simple interest and compound interest, if you can understand my arithmetic. The drug people are way ahead of us.
Mizpah: I understand arithmetic. I am not a judge in an election petition case. The same father of economics also talked about moral sentiments. And why were you so upset with the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago for talking the truth, the same self-interest truth you are now talking about?
Jonathan: Because my dear Mizpah, some thoughts must remain thoughts and become deeds without talk.
Mizpah: The same way you have been dropping hints at me since you turn manager and part owner of this little guest house.
Joseph: Jonathan, I know Mizpah well; very well. If you really like her and have plans for her, you are going to have to wet your hand and wait.
Mizpah: Well put Jo. I could not have said it better myself. But if I were to augment: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”, ….with emphasis, I hasten to add, on the indefinite article before wife becoming the definite article, if I may so articulate myself.
Joseph: This brings me back to the pregnant woman. Maybe we should get them to go to the hospital, since we are not that hospitable here; I hasten to add.
Jonathan: Let then go ahead. Everybody wants to go up to the hospital. Some people go there just to watch television.
Mizpah: What if the baby turns out to be a genius, a Mr. Somebody Important?
Joseph: Yes, suppose he grows up to be Mr. Emmanuel?
Jonathan: Then God be with us. And then we will haul him through the streets (over all the pot holes), string him up on a tree, dig him in his side and give him vinegar to drink. What kind of life is that?
Mizpah: Some people have to die so others may live.
Jonathan: Be careful with that kind of talk. It reminds me of what you said the other day about some people having to be gay so others can say they are straight.
Mizpah: It’s not me who say that. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man….that people are defined by the other.
Joseph: Every time talk about gay and straight comes up, I get confused. Everybody fighting for rights; black people, gay people.
Mizpah: Don’t confuse sex with race. As gay or as straight as you are, you can abstain, even for a day, or an hour. Try abstaining from being black…although some try to.
Jonathan: It’s really confusing. Take all those vicious, male, anti-gay bashers. Many of them are very abusive of women too.
Mizpah: You hit the nail “right in me head”, as an old, idiosyncratic, carpenter used to say. That is why these same men who wantonly abuse women will also abuse passive, gay men who behave like women, have sex with them and still fight against them in public; because they see them as women and therefore objects to be abused. They do not see them as men, like them, at all.
Jonathan: So all that round about talk, all that excursion, is telling me that I have to define myself by the way I treat others, even the ones I don’t like.
Mizpah: Yes. You are known by the company you keep.
Joseph: And by the company you publicly say you don’t want to keep, but are yet keeping, in private.
Jonathan: So I must take in this pregnant stranger, for nothing, just to show how kind I am?
Mizpah: That, my dear Jonathan, is your immaculate perception.
Joseph: I thought it was immaculate conception. But it’s all words. They can mean what you want them to mean. You can make them up.
Mizpah: Like when you were tipsy the other night and asked what you call a man who writes plays under a pear tree and shakes up the literary world? Shakespeare!
Jonathan: And the name of the man who was so happy to win the election petition he started to bawl? Baldwin!
Mizpah: And if more big than big, is bigger, then more less than less, is what? Lester!
Jonathan: And don’t forget the one who talks a lot of sense but sometimes it’s a ton a gas.
Joseph: Alright then. Here’s a new one. So when the whole mass of people in the Caribbean get over the bad-play on the Caribs and Arawaks, the false mathematics of the Federation and come to understand this regional excursion, this wandering and welcoming of the outsider, and take in the other, like that poor, pregnant woman outside; take in people like Christ himself would; what do we, the mass of Caribbean people have?
Mizpah and Jonathan: Christmas! Christmas!
(And they all sang, “drink a rum and a punch a crema, drink a rum”)