The Spiceman Cometh
by geoff anderson

(SARAH is seated downstage doing something domestic like sewing. ABRAHAM comes rushing in. It's important that there is a contrast between Sarah's calmness, which is touched by slight cynicism, and Abraham's excitement, which must be like a child's in its tendency to make his mind a blank. His name calling is not nastiness but a sign of his love for Sarah.)

ABE -- (rushes in) Sarah! Sarah! Theyíre here! I mean, HEís here, Iím sure of it!

SAR -- But heís not due till next week - tell him Iím not ready!

ABE -- Who? What? What are you talking about, woman?

SAR -- The spiceman, he comes next week.

ABE -- The spiceman? I keep telling you, you piece of tent rag, that God is not a spiceman, heís an almighty, invisible being. 

SAR -- I know who God is, Abe. And who you calling a piece of tent rag? 

ABE -- I'm sorry, love, I'm just so excited!

SAR -- Why, whoís come then? 

ABE -- Whoís come?

SAR -- Whoís out there if itís not the spice man?

ABE -- How should I know? 

SAR -- Well go and find out! (exit Abe)
(to audience) Heís all right really, is old Abe. Heís just getting on a bit. Heís older than he looks you know. No, really, how old would you say he is? 60? No way! 70? Not even close. Next year, heíll notch up his century. It doesnít bear thinking about - and dear dear, what does that make me? I dread to think! Weíve been past it so long, me and Abe, weíve forgotten what it is weíre supposed to have passed! 

ABE -- (rushes in just like at the start) Sarah! Theyíre here - I mean HEís here! 

SAR -- Abe, sit down here and get your breath. 

ABE -- Prepare the finest meal, the finest, díyou hear? And the finest liquor. Get me that locust gin weíve been saving, it should be exquisite by now. Nothing but the best will do for these guests - for HIM! (she brings him a bottle of liquor and beakers on a tray. He grabs the bottle and takes a vast gulp.) Aaaahhh, thatís a fine, fine bit of locust! (takes another) - I thought we were saving this? Whatís the occasion?

SAR -- Itís for your special guests.

ABE -- And who might THEY be? 

SAR -- Youíd better go and see, hadnít you? (exit Abe)

SAR -- (to audience) Abeís always been the same: he gets excited and then he starts forgetting things. I wonder who these folks are? Iíve not seen Abe this worked up since .. well, itís been 12 or 13 years now. What am I saying, itís got to be 14 years cos Ishmael has turned 13. Abe was getting very depressed about having no son to inherit. Without a son, you see, all our wealth would have passed to one of our workers. Well, call me a snob but I didnít like that idea. And so we got Ishmael 13 years ago. His mother is Hagar, one of my slave girls. And his father, well, his father is dear old Abraham. Strange custom, you may think, but it is OUR custom and at least he got the heir he needed.

ABE -- (rushing in) Itís the LORD, it really is the LORD God Almighty!

SAR -- What, out there? Outside our tent? Can I look? (goes and peeks outside)

ABE -- Well, what do you see?

SAR -- I see two travellers sitting under the tree, having their feet washed. But whereís the Lord God almighty? 

ABE -- (strides over and looks out) Can't you see, you twisted old tent pole? Heís standing by the tree ... well, heís not really standing, heís just .. THERE by the tree - canít you see his glory dripping like gold off the branches?

SAR -- I can see the glaring sun - and who you calling a twisted old tent pole?

ABE -- I'm sorry, but Heís got the most aMAZing news for us! Good news - REALLY good news. Really, really good news. (pause)

SAR -- Youíve forgotten it havenít you?

ABE -- Well of course I have - canít you see how excited I am, you piece of second-hand turban cloth?

SAR -- Well go and FETCH your aMAZing good news (Abe exits - she shouts after him:) 
And who you calling second-hand turban cloth? (back to the audience) Itís the heat thatís doing it, I reckon - making him so excited, I mean. Itís not natural. I blame the spicemen ... anyway, you probably think Iím awful, not taking it more seriously, but I think youíll understand when I fill you in. 25 years ago, you see, me and Abe were settled in a place called Haran. Abeís father had died there, so we had roots. But then the Lord God started talking to Abe. Abe had just turned 75 at this point, but when the Lord said weíd got to move, that was it. Our household, our livestock, our possessions, everything, we had to pack it all up and move. You see, God promised to bless Abraham and make him into a great nation. Well, I ask you. But Abe swallowed it whole. Canaan was the place, the Promised Land, and -

ABE -- (rushes in) Sarah, the wine, I forgot the wine (goes to rush out, rushes back) Oh, I think this is it, this really is IT! (rushes out)

SAR -- Well Canaan was all right until the famine, and then we had to move again, down to Egypt. Years later when we returned to Canaan, God started up with his promises again. All of Canaan would be Abrahamís - well at least it would belong to his descendants, descendants who would be as countless as the grains of dust in the earth. To a couple as ancient as us, who were childless, I thought this was a bit much. But not for Abe, he believed it.

ABE -- (rushes in) Sarah! Make some of your fabulous bread - use the finest flour! And kill the fattest calf! (grabs a second bottle of locust gin) Such news! Such news! (exit)

SAR -- (shouts) Your guests will have the finest supper this side of the Chaldeans! (to audience) And then came the war. And Abe surprised us all. He whipped the combined armies of 4 tribal kings. He won the war, but it didnít win him a son, just another promise! God promised him THIS time descendants as countless as the stars in the sky. And Abe believed him again. 
I didnít say anything, like this was the fourth promise in 12 years and we werenít getting any younger! No, I said nothing, but that was when I had a word with my slave-girl Hagar, so at least Abe has Ishmael. And now, 25 years since God moved us all out of Haran, it looks like promise number five is on the way. Iím 90 now, Abeís 99 - can you picture us having a child? If it werenít so tragic itíd be hilarious! (stifles her laughter)

ABE -- (suddenly appears at the door) You LAUGHED! 

SAR -- No I didnít!

ABE -- Yes you did - God heard you laughing inSIDE, so now weíve got to call our son Isaac!

SAR -- Instead of Abraham I suppose? Well, that's fine by me. Much as I love you, I think one Abraham in this family is enough thank you!

ABE -- Why you - you - 

SAR -- Yes? What am I this time?!

ABE -- You - you are the best wife a man could ever have. Come here! (she goes to him and they embrace).

END.


English. Masters in French. Retired parish priest. Associate Writer with Redemptorist Publications (Anglican Dept). Also published in Church Times and BBC 'Book of the Future'. UK tour manager of Russian Orthodox 6-person choir. Works copyright of Geoff Anderson in perpetuity. Contact ga@priest.com.

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