Inquest - Index   |  chapter 5   |  chapter 7

Chapter 6
(var. Annabelle)

Annabelle offers a more succinct take in one - two - three scenes
until she finds she has enough and offers a few ideas, before closing with a final thought.


A. BELLE:   T.
    No, nothing to be done -- Tancred.
TANCRED:  So be it then. What's in a name anyway, eh ?
A. BELLE:  Bothersome, though. These appellations.
PAPA:  Both ... bothe ... bother ...
A. BELLE:  Poor Papa. Perhaps if you pat him on the back the words will sputter forth a bit more freely.
TANCRED:  I'd rather not. God knows what he'll cough up.
PAPA:  Tancred !
TANCRED:  Yes, father, I've accepted it.
A. BELLE:  This naming business ... well, I suppose it allows him to see himself as creator. Our progenitor. I name thee, I make thee.
TANCRED:  You, 'Belle, you don't have quite the same burden.
A. BELLE:  'Belle ? It's sickly-sweet and soft and melts away on the tongue. It's barely a description, much less a name. Tancred at least has solidity to it, an echo of history and seriousness.
TANCRED:  Do you want to switch ?
A. BELLE:  Would it matter ?

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MAMA:  Look, yonder. A morning star, it rises over the horizon.
PAPA:  Hallelujah, and praise be.
THE MORNING STAR:  From darkness to light.
PAPA:  But I see nothing. There is no illumination.
THE MORNING STAR:  Illumination comes from within. But let me light the way.
MAMA:  Balfour, it's clearly obvious. We don't need more than this dot in the sky. Celestial -- and mundane -- constructions should be easy enough to build around it.
PAPA:  But the girders ... considering tensile strength, weight distribution. Steel ? Wrought iron ? And the foundations -- how deep should we dig ? The door, should it face north, or is a southern exposure preferable ?
MAMA:  Children ?
TANCRED:  A geo-physical/graphical/metrical survey of the site suggests that there are no clear answers -- or questions -- at this time.
A. BELLE:  But if we try a different language ..... Polish ? Latvian ?
TANCRED:  Without the proper resources -- to wit: the necessary tomes of reference -- the undertaking will be fruitless and shallow.
THE MORNING STAR:  Go as you are bidden. Cash will be provided, along with the requisite comforts and consorts. It will be a delight. You, in turn, will contort to my concept. The end result will be, in the end, the result.
PAPA:  I am a knot ...
MAMA:  With loose ends nonetheless ...
THE MORNING STAR:  So be it, or so. Satisfaction can't be guaranteed but seems likely.

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MAMA:  To Rystwycz !
PAPA:  To which which ?
TANCRED:  To what where ?
A. BELLE:  To there, to there !
MAMA:  Yes, there, where the Morning Star sets. I'm off.
TANCRED:  And us ?
MAMA:  I go for all.
A. BELLE:  I could as well ...
MAMA:  Not quite as well. And there's always tomorrow.
TANCRED:  Paragraph 17, subsection 23.b, of Appendix C-II in the third volume of the contract requires that, come tomorrow, we all venture Rystwycz-ward.
MAMA:  Tomorrow is another day. Today -- only I venture there.
A. BELLE:  Adieu !
PAPA:  Farewell !
MAMA:  I'll do my damnedest !
TANCRED:  Hurrah ! Hurrah !

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       ENOUGH !
       ENOUGH !
       ENOUGH !
       Enough already, agreed ?
       Entertainment is all well and good, but this ... but this ... but this ....
       What does it mean to be ?
       Who are these people ? What, "Father", have you made of us ?
       Tancred ? Annabelle ? Soraya, even ?
       Make of yourself what you will -- "Balfour" -- but why do this to us ?

       You begin, regressively, making babes of us. "Tancred" and I children ? And yours and "Soraya"'s at that ? Why have we been infantalicized, dwarfed, cut down to size ? Why have you taken possession of us ?
       Is this the power you need ? Do you have to make us small and yours to control us on the page ? To send us off to bed when you tire of us ?
       Even for fictional, or dramatic purposes, I don't understand it. Really: is there any place for the precocious child here (or in any fiction) ? Why bother ? Why not leave us real ? Or have we aged so unbearably that this is the only way you can make use of us ?

       It's all like a mirror-hall in a fun house, the figures (and facts) distorted so that they are barely recognizable -- though they shimmer brightly, ever shiftingly on the silvery surfaces.
       "Mother" as publishing executive, a triumph of academic sensibility in the rough and tumble market world ? You as the tweedy standard bearer ? My god ! why ?
       Truth isn't lesser. And truth deserves to be recorded -- recorded first. It has priority. Play with as many variations as you want, but get it right the first time. (Though I admit I like the mock-seriousness with which you pretend to try to do your duty: nice subversiveness there.)

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       The Morgenstern-documents are not without interest. They deserve our attention, and perhaps the story of our enterprise is worth telling But surely a direct approach is called for. The artificial distance, this need for foreignness (so foreign you can't even assign it a language yet, or situate it with any precision) and exoticism, strains credulity -- and credulity wouldn't be easy to come by here anyway.
       The word ... the words are the key. You got that right, at least -- or at least I can feel it is intimated (or is it that I am just reading this (wishfully) into it ?). Focus on that, and you may get it right yet.
       The dangers remain. You are losing yourself in an abstraction. Lose yourself in the reality instead. It should easily prove as interesting and as satisfying.

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       PAPA sitting, with A.BELLE apparently sleeping in his lap.

PAPA:  (intoning a lullaby) Hush little baby ...
       (He can't remember the words; he tries again:) Hush ... hush, little.
       Little ... little ... little little little
MAMA:  (enters; gazes adoringly) Looks like you've already got her to sleep.
PAPA:  Yes, well ...
MAMA:  (reaching over and running her hand over A.BELLE's hair) Dear, she seems to have quite a bump there ...        
PAPA:  I had to whack her pretty good.
MAMA:  Oh ... oh dear.
PAPA:  Sometimes, you know, it's only brute force that'll get things done.
       (Gets up, tossing A.BELLE aside) Now let's go find Tancred.


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