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copyright 1999, Gripper Products

Order of the Virgin Mothers

 

This play may be performed royalty-free if you are charging no admission fee. Please send a videotape of your performance. If other arrangements are necessary, please write.

 

CAST

Sister Carmen, founder and leader of the Order of Virgin Mothers, pregnant with four implants
Sister Gloria, virgin mother, currently not pregnant
Patricia, reporter
Reen, female Christchild candidate, age 10
Izzy, male Christchild candidate, age 12
Delivery Man, Sick Person, Izzy's father
12 off-stage children's voices

 

Set Design: The set is divided -- the left third is Sister Carmen's office with a computer and printer, a desk and three chairs. The desk has a blotting pad, a nameplate reading Sister Carmen, a telephone, an appointment calendar, a box of kleenex and two glasses of water but is otherwise neat. On the wall is a picture of Jesus. The right two-thirds is a playground/park with a small lake or wading pool at the back right.

Time: the late 1990's or early 21st century, Spring

Act I

Scene One

Scene: Sister Carmen's office. Sister Carmen wears a habit constructed in primary colors (red, yellow, blue) so that she looks like a cross between a nun and a guest on Romper Room. Her desk is a large light-colored oak formica. All the furniture, except the computer and printer, in this orphanage is old junky stuff from the 50's, such as would be donated in the 1990's. Background noises are of children playing, babies crying, students reciting lessons, and a woman panting in labor. Sister Carmen is noticeably pregnant.

Time: Mid-morning, Tuesday, in Spring.

[Sister Carmen is on her knees praying to the picture on the wall.]

Sister Carmen

And please, God, bring us more implants. Sister Beth is almost ready to deliver her triplets, and Sister Helen is in labor now with twins. Give them both healthy births, and quick recoveries so they will soon be ready for more implants. With faith, I await your Second Coming. I know you have already made your decision, but please God, let it be a girl this time. It would only be fair...

[Sister Carmen is interrupted by Patricia Turner, reporter from the Bugle, and Delivery man, carrying a frost-covered insulated ice bucket, who enter the office abruptly. Patricia's high heels make staccato noises against the wooden floor, while the delivery man plods. Both are breathing heavily from rushing. Patricia is dressed in the latest dress-for-success outfit. The delivery man wears a dark uniform with the Lone Star Delivery company insignia (a big yellow star) on the shoulder.]

Delivery Man

Fresh frozen fetuses, from WomanCare Labs. Sorry they're late, and a bit soggy. The truck broke down. The doc said they were important, so I got here as fast as I could with this nosy reporter nagging at me all the way.

Patricia

(brusquely) Sister Carmen, I'm Patricia Turner, police reporter from the Bugle. I heard the message on the police report -truck broken down, carrying frozen fetuses. For our readers, can you tell me what this is about?

Sister Carmen

(charmingly) I've seen you on television. You're the reporter who broke that story about water being added to children's milk in the schools...

[Delivery man, holds out the insulated bucket, coated with frost.]

Delivery Man
[insistent]

Here's the latest, fresh frozen from the clinic. Where should I put them?

[Sister Carmen stands to face the delivery man.]

Sister Carmen

Couldn't the clinic keep them in the deep freeze until we have an empty womb? Sister Gloria won't be ready until next week, and she can only take two because her pelvis is narrow.

Delivery man

Don't ask me. I just deliver them.

Patricia

Did you say triplets and twins?

Sister Carmen

Multiple births are more efficient.

Patricia
[touching the bucket]

Are these the frozen aborted fetuses?

Delivery man

Yes, Ma'am.

Patricia

(to Sister Carmen) As I was saying, the police report said the truck was carrying frozen fetuses, and I've followed this man here. Have you ever tried to run in high heels? Now, please tell me what this is about!

Sister Carmen

You know, some people think that just because this is an orphanage, that the children here are public property. And that everything we do here is public information.

Patricia

I expected you'd want to set the record straight. And, an interview would be a big step toward clarifying your position in the public mind.

Sister Carmen

That so?

Patricia

Your orphanage does depend on the generous donations of the reading public for its continuing existence. And you must admit, frozen fetuses sound peculiar.

Sister Carmen

(with a sense of humor) We don't mind that the public sees us as religious nuts. It is much easier to be thought an eccentric than to be understood...

[Delivery man holding out a clipboard]

Delivery man

Sister, would you please sign for the delivery, so I can be on my way? Other people have packages on that broken down truck, too.

Patricia

I think I understand you all right. You are a religious order, and you're doing something secretive with frozen fetuses. If you won't talk, I'll go to the truck company, the doctors, the mothers of these frozen popsicles. This will be the expose of the decade, and your donations will plummet.

Sister Carmen

You say you are a reporter, and you don't know about the Order of the Virgin Mothers?

[Delivery man shoves clipboard towards Sister Carmen repeatedly from various angles, and walks around her to approach her from the other side.]

Patricia

(firmly) No, I don't. Are you new in town?

Sister Carmen

We're a Right-to-Life group. We've been implanting aborted fetuses for fifteen years. We have a special court order authorizing us to implant any unclaimed aborted fetus. This order makes implantation equivalent to adoption in the eyes of the law.

Patricia

But once the babies are born, you give them up for adoption, right?

Sister Carmen

Oh, no! We keep all of them.

Patricia

(surprised) What? With all the demand for babies to adopt? I thought Right-to-Lifers were mainly opposed to abortion because they wanted the babies to be adopted instead of aborted. How do you justify keeping them?

Sister Carmen

It is a tenet of our Order that one of these children will be the Second Coming of Christ. We are keeping them, so we can discover which child He is.

Patricia

How are you going to tell which one He is? He wouldn't be born with stigmata on His hands and feet, would He?

Delivery Man

Put your signature by the X. Here's a pen.

Sister Carmen

(amused) No, we aren't expecting anything like that. In fact, I'm hoping that this time, He will be a She.

Patricia

So, how will you recognize Him, or Her?

Sister Carmen

We have just begun the Search. We are looking for a child who can perform the miracles He performed last time. We even have a special computer program to determine which child He is. All we have to do is enter a complete record of the miracles each child performs.

Patricia

What if you don't find a child who can perform miracles?

Sister Carmen

All the Sisters will continue to love the children we have, and we will continue to accept more implants.

Patricia

Then, if you do find the Christ Child, you'll stop taking implants?

Sister Carmen

(emphatically) Never! As long as I am able, I will use my womb to rescue aborted babies! And so will all the other Sisters. We have pledged our lives to this.

Patricia

I think you're being too optimistic. I'm a reporter. I've seen human nature.

Sister Carmen

(as if she knows better) Uh huh.

Patricia

This organization will fall apart the instant you declare a Christ Child. If you really want to save all the aborted fetuses, you'll make sure you never find Him.

Sister Carmen

You, dear, obviously do not know the religious mind. Finding the Christ is a bonus in the cause of Life.

Delivery man

Just sign it.

[Sister Carmen takes her time about signing this during Patricia's next speech. Then she clutches the clipboard to her despite Delivery man's attempts to reclaim it.]

Patricia

Suppose, for example, that one or two of the children can perform miracles, say healings -- lots of people claim to be healers -that wouldn't necessarily make the children Christs, would it?

Sister Carmen

(sincerely) You're a fine skeptic. And that's good. God told us to question all things. For example...

[As she says "example" she gestures with her arm which holds the clipboard, and the delivery man grabs it, while still holding the bucket in one arm.]

Patricia

May I see them? I've never seen a frozen fetus before.

Delivery man

(to Sister Carmen) It's up to you, ma'am. They're your property, now.

Sister Carmen

(lifting the lid, and allowing Patricia to peer inside) I always like to check them out myself. Aren't they just adorable?

Patricia

Not really. They remind me of the frogs I had to dissect in biology. (pause) These women who have the abortions...do they come to you (looking at Sister Carmen) and ask you to continue their pregnancies?

Sister Carmen

Sometimes. But more often, they sign a consent form at the doctor's when they have their abortions.

Patricia

(as if she knows better) Uh huh.

Sister Carmen

Ours is a Right-to-Life organization. We believe in putting our bodies where our mouths are. We want all fetuses to be born, so we give aborted fetuses the wombs they need. (pause)

[She replaces the lid on the bucket]

Delivery man

Where would you like this?

Patricia

(pause, the next sentence is said craftily.) Do you save all of the abortions?

Sister Carmen

Unfortunately no. Some of the fetuses come out damaged -- the doctors say they look as if they were about to miscarry naturally.

Patricia

(rather sickly) Uh huh.

Sister Carmen

If we ever have a surplus of Sisters, I'd like to try implanting some of them, but we do save all the fetuses the doctors say are viable, even the retarded and deformed.

Patricia

(Trying to end the conversation) I see. What I really want is the story of what you do with the children after they are born. That is what would interest my readers.

Sister Carmen

Thanks to the new wider removal tube. that came into use fifteen years ago, almost all babies aborted before 10 weeks can be saved and implanted.

Patricia

(said squeamishly) Thank you for that clarification.

Sister Carmen

You're welcome.

Patricia

But after they are born...

Delivery Man

This is my first day on this job, and my truck broke down, and I've got lots of packages to deliver...I really must be going, Sister. Where should I put this?

Patricia

(disgustedly) Do these mothers know that you think one of their children will be the Second Coming of ...?

(Patricia is interrupted by Reen and Izzy who run into Sister Carmen's office. Reen bumps into the Delivery man, who in turn jostles the bucket on which Sister Carmen has just replaced the lid. He fumbles the bucket and nearly drops it. Reen is clutching a cup of red koolaid, which is now smashed against her chest. Izzy holds another cup of koolaid, which is not smashed. During this next scene Patricia follows Carmen around taking notes.)

Izzy

Reen's been giving the kids koolaid, and Sister Paula says we're not supposed to drink sugary stuff.

Reen

I can't help it. I was just using the drinking fountain, and the water just turned to koolaid.

Izzy

Drinking fountains don't make koolaid!

[Izzy's flailing arms jostle the bucket with the fetuses as he speaks.]

Sister Carmen

(to Reen and Izzy) Those are your brothers and sisters in there. You must be more careful.

(to Patricia) These are two of our older children, Reen and Izzy.

Patricia

They seem to squabble like any other children. Is this how you raise them?

Izzy

(nastily) I'm older than Reen, and I'm in charge on the playground. I have to stop the little kids when they break the rules.

Sister Carmen

Izzy, dear, you're supposed to watch out for the children's safety -- not report to me about every broken rule.

Delivery man

(exasperated) Where do you want me to put this? (the bucket)

Izzy

Aren't you going to punish her?

Sister Carmen

In the kitchen -- Have Sister Gloria put them in the minus 80 freezer.

Delivery Man

Where's the kitchen?

Reen

(eagerly) I'll show him. The freezer is right by the great big oven -- the one that's big enough to cook the witch from Hansel and Gretel in.

Izzy

Don't let her out of your sight -- she's getting that koolaid from somewhere.

Sister Carmen

Leave it on my desk. I'll take it to the kitchen, later.

[Delivery man puts bucket on the desk.]

Delivery man
I'll be on my way.

[Delivery man exits.]

Sister Carmen
(calls after him) God Speed!

Reen

I'll take it to the kitchen.

Sister Carmen

That won't be necessary, Reen. They're in liquid nitrogen, so they'll keep for several hours.

[Sister Carmen seats herself at the desk. Patricia hovers over her, taking notes.]

Izzy

Ask her where she's getting the koolaid. And tell her to stop it!

Reen

I didn't do it on purpose.

Sister Carmen

Both of you, stop arguing. Reen, you say you just turned on the fountain, and out came koolaid?

Reen

Yes ma'am.

Sister Carmen

Cherry koolaid, I hope. That was always my favorite.

Reen

Yes, ma'am. It's cherry.

Izzy

Aren't you going to punish her?

Sister Carmen

Here's a glass of water. Can you turn this into koolaid? Cherry koolaid?

Reen

(stepping toward Sister Carmen) I didn't do it on purpose.

Izzy

(to Reen) You little faker. Go ahead pick up the glass. Show Sister Carmen how koolaid just happens.

Reen

I didn't do it on purpose!

Sister Carmen

Go ahead, Reen. I'd like some cherry koolaid.

(Reen picks up the glass, and the sound of a spoon hitting a crystal bowl is heard. Instantly the water turns red.)

Sister Carmen

(picks up the glass and sips) This is good. Better than I remember koolaid as a child. Be polite now, make another for our guest.

[Reen touches the second glass, again the sound of a spoon hitting a crystal bowl is heard, and the water in the second glass turns red.]

Patricia
[tastes the koolaid]

This is good. Is this the kind of miracle you were looking for?

Izzy

Aren't you going to punish her?

Sister Carmen

Izzy, you are needed on the playground. Go outside and resume guarding the children.

Izzy
[walking to the door] (to Reen) You're going to get it! [Izzy exits]

Sister Carmen

Reen, has anything like this ever happened before?

Reen

Last week, I found a hurt puppy in the street. I picked him up and carried him to the grass, and when I put him down he was all better.

Sister Carmen

That was a good thing to do, a Christ-like thing to do.

Reen

You and the other Sisters are always telling us to act Christ-like.

Sister Carmen

Yes, we are. Do you remember why we want you to act Christ-like?

Reen

Because one of us children is the Second Coming of Christ.

Patricia

(to Reen) Aren't you a bit young to be Christ? He was twelve last time before He did anything special.

Reen

Girls mature more quickly than boys, and I'm ten, already.

Patricia

(smiles briefly, amused) Sister Carmen, (indicating the glass of koolaid) is this the sort of miracle you were hoping for?

Sister Carmen

Not exactly. But I'll enter it in the computer and see what the program thinks. (She taps on computer keyboard.)

Patricia

If she'd made wine instead of koolaid, would you like that better?

Sister Carmen

(lightly) No, this is a perfectly good miracle.

Reen

Can I go outside and finish my hopscotch now?

Sister Carmen

(goes over to Reen and hugs her) Honey, you've performed a miracle! Of course you may finish your hopscotch.

(Reen dashes off, then stops at the door.)

Reen

And can I have some more koolaid?

Sister Carmen

Of course -- you must never waste a miracle.

Reen

Thank you. (Reen exits.)

Patricia

(to Carmen) If she had been lying -- if she'd sneaked koolaid powder into her glass, how would you have punished her?

Sister Carmen

We never punish the children. None of the Sisters wants to be the first one to spank Christ.

Patricia

(takes another sip of koolaid) This is really good. By the way,-- what Reen said about the puppy -- do you suppose she's a healer, too?

Sister Carmen

That would be a Christ-like miracle, too. Let's see what the computer says. [She taps keyboard again.]

Patricia

Is this going to take long? [As she finishes, the printer taps briefly and spits out a sheet of paper.] xxxx

Sister Carmen

Here's our answer now. (She grabs the paper, reads.) Insufficient data at this time.

Patricia

Now what will you do?

Sister Carmen

I wonder if any of the other children can heal?

Scene Two

(Stage darkens. Scene Two opens in the park. The delivery man, now dressed in a leather jacket, sporting a gash on his cheek, pulls a cardboard line of sick people after him as he enters the park from stage right. Reen, Izzy, and several other cardboard children stand clustered about Sister Carmen (pregnant), and Sister Gloria (not pregnant), who is stage front right ladling chicken soup from a tureen on a picnic table beside a small pond or wading pool.

(babies' cries are heard off stage)

Sister Carmen

(to Sister Gloria) I hope this doesn't take long. It sounds like they need help in the nursery.

[no response]

Sister Carmen

Sister Gloria, did you hear me?!

Reen

She can't answer you. She's having a day of silence.

Sister Carmen

Reen, get ready now, say your prayer, and heal the next sick person.

Patricia

[recoiling from the sight of all the sick people) (to Reen]

That's horrible! Do you actually have to touch these people?

Sister Carmen

[stepping between Reen and Patricia]

Don't bother the children. Of course they have to touch the sick people. How else can they heal them?

Patricia

[goes over to Sister Gloria, holding up newspaper article ``Local Orphanage Filled with Abortions''

I'm Patricia Turner, with the Bugle. I'd like to interview you about the healings.

Reen

[tugs on Patricia's skirt]

You can't. Sister Gloria is having a day of silence. She says sacrifices like that on her part will help us reveal our Christhood.

Sister Carmen

Reen, your turn. Say a prayer and heal the next person in line.

Reen

Dear God, please heal this man.

[Reen approaches the leather-jacketed, tattooed man with a bloody gash on his face.]

Reen

God, I am ...

Sick Person

[grabs Reen

Get on with it! Heal me!

[A ping is heard -- the sound of a spoon hitting a crystal bowl. The man's gash is gone.]

 

Oh baby, baby!

[Man pulls Reen to him, kisses her on the face]

Reen

Help! Help!

Sick Person

I'm healed! Hallelujah! Oh, baby!

Girls' voices off stage

Healing is what women know! Go Reen! Go! Go! Go!

Sister Carmen

[walks up to Reen and separates her from the biker]

Reen, it's time for you to heal another one.

Girls' voices off stage

Healing is what women know! Go Reen! Go! Go! Go!

[Reen walks up to the next sick person in line, a cardboard one. This one looks purple. She touches him. Nothing happens.]

Sister Carmen

(to cardboard sick person) Are you healed?

(silence)

[Sister Carmen hugs Reen]

Reen

I tried. I really did!

Sister Carmen

I know you did.

Izzy

I'll show you how it's done. Prepare to be healed.

[Izzy walks up to the cardboard man, touches him on the forehead, and the purple coloring goes away.]

[Izzy raises his hands together over his head and pumps them several times in a fighter's victory pose]

Izzy

He is healed. Praise the Lord!

Sister Carmen

It's time for both of you to have a bowl of chicken soup.

[Indicates pond and Sister Gloria. Reen and sick person go over to Sister Gloria.]

Izzy continues to heal cardboard people.

Boys' voices off stage

Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten! Who is Christ come again? Izzy! Izzy! Yea, Izzy!

Scene Three

(Stage darkens. Scene Three opens back at the pond. Sick person is sitting at the picnic table sloppily eating his soup.

[Patricia approaches Sick Person]

Patricia

What disease did you have?

Sick Person

A stab wound -- I got in a street fight.

[He indicates his cheek.]

Look -- not even a scar! I am cured!

Patricia

(not convinced) Thank you for showing me that. But, since I didn't inspect your wound before Reen touched you, how can I believe?

Sick Person

(in a preacher-type voice) It is a sick generation that asks for a sign. (then calming) Hey, doubt if you want. But this is for real!

[Sick person lifts soup bowl to his mouth and drains the dregs noisily, then walks off stage]

Patricia

[approaching Reen closely] How does it feel to heal a man like that?

Reen

I wish he wouldn't grab me, and he smells bad.

[Izzy walks over and joins them.]

Izzy

I won the healing contest. Now let's see who can walk on water the longest. Sister Gloria -- you get in the pond and check.

(Sister Gloria steps into the pond.)

Izzy

(to Reen) Don't you just want to step on her toes on her silent days -- to see if she'll scream?

Reen

Yeah! But not in front of the sickies. They might not donate if they hear her scream.

Izzy

She won't scream. She's tough. Come on!

Reen

We'd better not.

Izzy

Spoil sport. Well, here we are. You first.

Reen

No. You healed five -- you go first.

Izzy

You just want to see how it's done, so you can copy me. You have to find your own way to do it. (pause) Sissy! You can't do it anyway, so watch and weep!

[Izzy steps into the water and sinks. The sick person steps up closer to watch.]

Sister Carmen approaches the crowd.]

Sister Carmen

What's going on here?

Reen

We're trying to walk on water. Sister Gloria is the judge.

Sister Carmen

Sister Gloria, I've put you on third sleep shift for tonight. Sister Angela's triplets will need your extra care.

[Sister Gloria nods.]

[Reen steps into the water, slips and splashes full length into the water. The front of Sister Gloria's habit is splashed.]

Izzy

Hey, look at that! Sister Gloria looks like a real lady under all those clothes.

[He splashes more water onto Sister Gloria.]

Sister Carmen

Izzy, Reen, I'd like to see you in my office, at once.

Izzy

You can't punish us. We're the top two Christ Child contenders.

Sister Carmen

I said, I'd like to see you in my office, at once.

Scene Four

[Izzy, Reen, and Patricia follow Sister Carmen to the office.]

Sister Carmen

I am truly disappointed in both of you -- you are both blessed by God with the gift of healing, and even as you use that gift, you make a mockery of our religious order! I expect apologies from both of you, and I expect better behavior in the future.

Izzy

(approaching the desk) I'm better at walking on water than she is. And I healed more people.

(Sister Carmen ignores Izzy, and leads the way into her office. She seats herself at the computer keyboard and taps a few notes. The printer prints a line. A piece of paper comes out of the printer. Sister Carmen takes it.)

Sister Carmen

(Looking at paper from printer she mutters) Still insufficient data. (Turning to Patricia, Reen and Izzy) Be seated, all of you. (gestures to the three chairs) I've been reviewing the files on both our healers. And I found something unusual about Reen. (She presses a button to create a printout of Reen's records)

(Reen sticks her tongue out at Izzy.)

Sister Carmen

(tears off the printout and holds it up to read aloud.)

According to our records, Reen's mother was not a virgin.

(Izzy sticks his tongue out at Reen.)

Izzy

Then I'm the Christ Child, right?

Sister Carmen

Not so fast.

Reen

You've always said that all us orphans were rescued abortions, who were grown in virgin sisters -- kind of like a fine wine. (shocked) Am I just born of a bio-mother? (said as if this is a dirty idea)

Izzy

If she's not an abortion, then I am!

Sister Carmen

No, Izzy. You are both abortions. The whole idea of the Order of Virgin Mothers is that Christ is the stone rejected by the builders. And you are the babies rejected by your bio-mothers, who are the true builders of our society. In fact, Reen is a double reject. (to Reen) The embryo you grew from was rejected by the Sisterhood implant program.

Izzy

(to Reen) Nyah Nyah!

Sister Carmen

(to Reen) Our doctors thought you wouldn't grow normally, that you had been damaged in the extraction process, and might die or miscarry if you were implanted. Your birth-mother, Anna, had you illegally implanted after you were rejected by our program. So, you're a double reject.

Izzy

(in a sing-song voice) Reen is a reject! Reen is a reject!

Sister Carmen

Since Anna, her birth-mother, was separated from her husband, she couldn't have a legal implant. Only virgin sisters, and married women whose husbands give permission, are allowed to have implants. God brought your birth-mother, Anna, to our doorstep when she was in labor, and we took her in.

Reen

Well that wasn't as dirty as I thought it might be. Do you still think I might be the Christ Child?

Sister Carmen

I don't know what to think.

Patricia

(reaching for the printout) I'd like to see the files.

(Sister Carmen ignores her.)

Izzy

I think it's obvious. You've been wasting my time with this contest. Christ wouldn't break the law, so He can't possibly be Reen!

Sister Carmen

(sternly) This isn't a contest -- it's a search. We all win when we find the Christ Child. (sadly) Oh, Izzy!

Izzy

Don't take my name in vain, you know!

Patricia

Do you mean that you have no records on Reen's natural parents?

Sister Carmen

Just her birth-mother, Anna's statement, that she was an illegal implant. But remember, the first time, Christ was an implant, too. Neither Joseph, nor Mary were his biological parents. Mary was his birth-mother. We are following in her tradition.

Patricia

You mean you are a bunch of women with a Virgin Mary complex?

Act II

Scene One

(Sisters Carmen and Gloria are in Sister Carmen's office. Sister Carmen at the desk, Sister Gloria in the opposite chair is nursing a baby. The printer is silent. One page protrudes from the printer.)

Sister Carmen

This is it! The computer says we now have sufficient data to determine which of the children is the Christ child.

Sister Gloria

Computers make mistakes. Remember our phone bill?

Sister Carmen

The programmer who wrote this for us has considered both miracle quantity and miracle quality. The data bank includes every recorded miracle in the Bible. And there is a supplementary file listing His undocumented miracles. Each of our children has been compared to the entire data bank. The computer is ready. Shall we pray?

Sister Gloria and Sister Carmen

(both fall to knees on floor and pray together) Hallelujah! Unto us a child is born! Christ is returned!

Sister Gloria

Are you sure you want to push that button?

Sister Carmen

Why in heaven's name wouldn't I want to push it?

Sister Gloria

Once we name the Christ child, young girls will see no reason to preserve their virginity and join our order.

Sister Carmen

We're supposed to forgive sinners, you know. Please let's not argue. This is a blessed moment. Our Savior is here!

Sister Gloria

I wish to go on record, stating that this is a mistake.

Sister Carmen

So noted.

(She taps away on computer keys, recording Gloria's words)

Are there any other comments before I push the button?

Sister Gloria

Yes, Carmen, I've been meaning to ask -- how many do you have in there (pointing at Carmen's belly) this time? You look really huge!

Sister Carmen

Four. (pause while Gloria's mouth drops) I'm forty-six. This may be my last pregnancy. I wanted to go out with a bang.

Sister Gloria

What zeal! But if we do have a Christ child, aren't you stressing your body for nothing?

Sister Carmen

These are four rescued souls. Rescuing souls is never for nothing! But, I want to get on with this momentous event. I want to push the button!

Sister Gloria

Remember what "push the button" meant in the '70's! This is just as dangerous as a bomb. How can we single out one of our children as better than all the rest? We've worked so hard at treating them all equally.

Sister Carmen

We give gifted education to the gifted and remedial education to the ones who need remediation. Now we will give religious training to the One who will rule over us all. To deny the Christ child extra attention would be like denying the Christ child himself!

Sister Gloria

(voice raised) And to name a false Christ would endanger our souls! And possibly the souls of all the children here -including the ones in there (pointing to Sister Carmen's belly.)

Sister Carmen

We won't name a false Christ. We aren't depending on the fallibility of men -- we're depending on an impartial computer.

Sister Gloria

I suppose the computer has successfully picked a Christ Child before?

Sister Carmen

You're just upset because none of your babies did well at miracles.

Sister Gloria

[pauses to put baby on the other breast]

I just don't think we're ready...

Sister Carmen

I want to thank God that I have lived to see this day!

Sister Gloria

(voice raised) If you go through with this rash act, we'll all wish to God we'd never seen this day!

Sister Carmen

I founded this Order in order to find the Christ Child. You and the other sisters have followed my plan, and God has treated us well. Now, when He gives us our ultimate reward, you must not let your faith fail you.

[She reaches a hand out to Sister Gloria.]

Sister Gloria

I hope we can protect this one -- so he won't be crucified! (pause) And the other children, too!

Sister Carmen

Sister Gloria, have you anything else to add?

Sister Gloria

God bless us one and all!

Sister Carmen

I'm so excited! In the name of Christ, I push this button!

[The computer prints, a sheet of paper advances out of the printer]

Sister Gloria

[grabs the paper]

He's a girl! Amen!

Sister Carmen

Amen!

Patricia enters the orphanage, removes her cellular phone from her purse.

Patricia
[dials phone, speaks into it She is holding newspaper article headlined, ``Healing Fraud Suspected at Orphanage'']

Patricia

Yes, I'll remember.

[Patricia closes phone, places it into her purse, and enters the office just as the cheers end.]

Sisters Carmen and Gloria

Yeah! Yeah! Healing is what women know! Go Reen! Go! Go! Go!

Sister Carmen

Seven, eight, nine, ten Who is Christ born again? Reen! Reen! Yeah, Reen!

voices from off stage

One, two, three... Yeah, Reen!

(Sister Carmen looks meaningfully at Gloria)

Gloria

(half-heartedly) Yeah, Reen.

(Patricia enters -- note, she has not heard the decision about the Christ child.)

Sister Carmen

(said supportively) Ah, our reporter. You're just in time -our computer has selected the Christ Child.

Patricia

(obviously taken aback) Oh, I thought...but...Yes, that is a good story.

Sister Gloria

Let's go tell Reen!

[Sister Gloria, still nursing the baby, runs out of the office.]

Sister Carmen

You came here for a different reason? We've got the story of the millennium, and you are interested in something else? What could be more important?

Patricia

(angrily) I'm still researching my story on your orphanage as a fraud and rip-off.

Sister Carmen

Often, if we look at what we don't like -- what we really get angry and upset about -- that's really an aspect of ourselves that we haven't yet accepted. I knew when you came here that you did not approve of our Christ Child Search. But your anger told me this search was important to you -- that it would benefit you in some way.

(During this speech, Patricia regains her composure.)

Patricia

(slightly distractedly) Look, I think this Christ child contest is wrong. Possibly the most terrible thing you have done. Your other frauds have taken money from gullible sick people. You've conned healthy young women into becoming mindless brood-sows in some kind of religious cult. But at least you were fooling adults. This contest -- this Christ Child Search as you call it-- hurts the children -- the ones you say you are trying to save!

Sister Carmen

That's not what is really bothering you. You were going to say something else.

Patricia

Yes. ... I still have a question.

Sister Carmen

(impatiently) Yes?

Patricia

... about Reen...

Sister Carmen

(impatiently) Yes?

Patricia

Her birth-mother must have had real guts!

Sister Carmen

I like to think that all mothers have real guts. Why hers in particular?

Patricia

You said Reen was rejected by your Order because the doctors thought she would die or miscarry if she was implanted.

Sister Carmen

Yes.

Patricia

Well, when I was ten, my parents brought my sister Emily home from the hospital. My sister had spina bifida, a hereditary disease. For three years, they told me she was okay, she was getting better. Then she died. Ever since then, I've been afraid to have a baby. There is a fifty-percent chance that I carry the gene that killed Emily. (pause) And Reen's birth-mother wanted to have Reen even though she was almost sure to have something wrong with her.

Sister Carmen

I see what you mean. That is a special kind of guts. But Anna was a very spiritual lady. She might have had a vision about Reen -- a vision can often provide the guts for very brave deeds.

Patricia

Was? She's dead?

Sister Carmen

Our Order is forbidden to ever reveal the name of the living birth-mother to any child under eighteen years old.

Patricia

How did she die?

Sister Carmen

She died in childbirth. I talked to Dr. Miller, the doctor who did the implant. He said he warned her she could die, but she was determined.

Patricia

Tell me, since your doctor does illegal implants -- does he ever implant fetuses from mothers who did not sign consent forms?

Sister Carmen

No consent form is needed.

Patricia

(upset and angry) Of course it's needed. Why else do they offer them at the clinics?

Sister Carmen

We take the consent-form fetuses first, but we usually have room for more, so then we take the others. We brought a lawsuit, claiming guardianship of the aborted fetuses, and now all aborted fetuses are considered wards of the state. The implantation process is equivalent to adoption. So, members of our Order may request implantation without the bio-mother's consent.

Patricia

And then, do you tell the mother -- the woman who had the abortion -- that her fetus has been implanted?

Sister Carmen

Absolutely not!

Patricia

There's a lot of guilt that goes with an abortion.

Sister Carmen

If they are going to feel guilty -- that's their problem.

Patricia

Knowing her baby was all right might help a woman feel better.

Sister Carmen

We don't want bio-mothers coming around here checking on their children. They gave up all rights to those children when they had abortions.

Patricia

(looking slightly sick and changing the subject) Ooh. (pause) Reen's birth-mother was definitely one gutsy lady. (pause) And, I know this sounds strange coming from me, but maybe she was right about Reen. I don't mean Reen is the Second Coming -- I don't believe in that sort of thing. But Reen is a really special child.

Sister Carmen

They all are. But for an outsider -- noticing one is an excellent start. Our computer has selected Reen as well. She is the second coming of Christ.

Patricia

(shocked and angry) You can't! You can't make her the Christ child!

Sister Carmen

Why do you think you can make this decision better than our computer?

Patricia

Uh. This is kind of hard to say.

Sister Carmen

Go on.

Patricia

(pause) A child tried to come to me eleven years ago.

Sister Carmen

Go on.

Patricia

(pause) But I had an abortion.

Sister Carmen

Uh huh. (like she's heard it all before)

Patricia

(pause) And when you said that some of your implants are from bio-mothers who didn't sign consent forms -- well, I thought that the child who tried to come to me might be Reen, and here she was trying again.

Sister Carmen

So you're here to take her away. That's the story you're really after -- you're not interested in our Christ Child search at all. You're not even interested in your fraud story. You're just trying to make up for guilt you've felt over an abortion.

Patricia

Isn't that what religion is about -- helping people deal with guilt? When did you turn from being a religious sister into an avenging monster?

Sister Carmen

You're the one who had the abortion -- not me!

Patricia

And you think it was wrong to have an abortion!

Sister Carmen

You can have all the abortions you want. Just don't come crying to me to get the babies back again when you change your mind.

Patricia

That's a monstrous thing to say!

Sister Carmen

So now I'm a monster -- because I won't just give you a child you've taken a fancy to? Is that what you think my faith and my life have been about? Depriving mothers of their children?

Patricia

I don't want to turn her away a second time. I mean, she's the right age, and everything. Dr. Miller is the one who did my abortion...

Sister Carmen

(as a mild joke) So, you think finding Reen is kind of your own personal Second Coming?

Patricia

Yeah, kind of. (relaxing, then tensing)

Sister Carmen

You're just the first of many. Now that she's the Christ Child, hundreds of women who've had abortions, and even some who haven't will be here trying to claim her.

Patricia

If she is my child, would you let me adopt her? I mean keep her? After all, I didn't sign a consent form, and her birth mother is dead. Your legal claim on her is weak. And I've heard her say she never wanted to be the Christ Child.

Sister Carmen

How long was never when you were ten years old?

Patricia

(pause -- then weakly) I see what you mean -- never just meant not now, not soon. (desperately) But being the Christ Child is different!

Sister Carmen

And when you had your abortion, you were saying that you didn't want that child -- not ever -- never. (pause) Was your never the same as a ten-year-old's never?

Patricia

When my sister Emily died -- I vowed that I would never have a baby -- never let a child die like that! It was horrible! And when I got pregnant, I kept seeing Emily dying over and over again in my dreams.

Sister Carmen

Uh huh.

Patricia

It took my sister three years to die. She was so sick, and in such pain. I didn't sign a consent form because I didn't want anyone to go through watching my baby die.

Sister Carmen

So, why are you changing your mind? Reen could catch a terrible disease and die slowly with pain. None of us have any guarantees. Reen's birth-mother died giving birth to her.

Patricia

It's just that I've met Reen.

Sister Carmen

And you're still feeling guilty about your abortion? And you think somehow, through Reen, you can make it all better?

Patricia

(near tears) Yes! I'm here to demand a blood test to prove that she's mine. No child of mine is going to be the Christ Child!

Sister Carmen

When did you stop being a hard-hitting reporter and turn into a silly goose crying over an aborted baby?

[Reen runs into the office carrying a basket of rolls. She is followed by Sister Gloria. Those cardboard dodecahedrons that are flat but that pop open with a rubber band would be useful here. Reen hands a roll to each of the Sisters and to Patricia, while the basket remains full. Crystal bells ring constantly but low from now on, in any scene whenever Reen appears.]

[Sister Carmen takes a bite of her roll -- she has a real one.]

Patricia

Why is she doing vaudeville tricks? This is no way to raise a child!

Sister Carmen

This is even better than the koolaid. May I see your basket?

[Reen hands her the basket.]

There are only five rolls in this basket, and it's full. But you just gave us each a roll. How did you do it?

Reen

I picked them up with my hands and I gave them to you. I don't know why the basket is still full.

Patricia

Reen, do you want to be the Christ Child?

Reen

I want to be an astronaut.

Patricia

(to Sister Carmen) See, she doesn't want to be the Christ Child.

Sister Carmen

Neither did the last one. I don't think anybody wants to be the Christ Child.

Patricia

Reen, would you like to come live with me and be my daughter?

Reen

I like it here with my friends.

Sister Carmen

See, she doesn't want to go live with you.

Reen

Why are you talking about me as if I'm not here?

Patricia

(smiles) Because we're adults.

Sister Carmen

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are adults of God.

Patricia

Just what I need -- platitudes when I'm fighting for my daughter's life.

Sister Carmen

There is a lot of truth in platitudes.

Patricia

The issue here is the kind of life Reen will lead. I want to take her home with me and raise her as my daughter.

Sister Carmen

And I want to prepare her for her role in the coming millennium. Reen, the computer has declared that you are the Second Coming of Christ. Have you been keeping up with your prayers?

Reen

I did pray for a miracle on the history test. But it didn't work.

Patricia

(said sympathetically) Of course not, dear. Only studying will help you pass a test.

Sister Carmen

I was hoping you would pray about the Christ Child. (beckoning Reen to her side) Come on! Pray with me, now. We mustn't keep God waiting.

Reen

Why?

Sister Carmen

We are celebrating!

Reen

Okay.

Sister Carmen and Reen

(on their knees, together) Thank you God for all your blessings.

Sister Carmen

Now, tell me Reen, how do you feel?

Reen

Fine. But it's not going to help me with tomorrow's spelling test. And I'll never make it if I have to do more healings tonight.

Sister Carmen

The healings will continue only if you want them to, on whatever schedule you say, Lord.

Patricia

Don't talk to her like that! You'll give her a swelled head.

Sister Carmen

It's the truth, so she may as well get used to it.

Reen

(briefly taken aback by being called Lord) Good. I need to catch up on my studies.

Sister Carmen

I agree. You need a break.

Sister Gloria

Aren't you excited about being the Christ Child?

Reen

What for? The Christ Child has to study religion all the time and do healings on gross yucky sick people.

Patricia

See what I mean? That's no way to raise a child!

Sister Gloria

I'll make sure you have time to play and be a normal child.

Reen

Can I go outside and play jump rope, right now?

Sister Carmen

Yes, right now. But be back in time for dinner. And be sure You study tonight. I expect You to get an A on Your spelling test tomorrow -- not by a miracle -- but because You learned the words.

Reen

Yes, ma'am.

(Reen exits)

Scene Two

[Reen runs out onto the playground and continues handing out rolls to cardboard children who are playing jacks and jumping rope. From off-stage is heard chanting: "Teddy bear, teddy bear, go up stairs. Teddy Bear, teddy bear, say your prayers." Reen picks up a rope and jumps to this rhyme.]

Scene Three

Patricia

This is an outrage! My child is doing vaudeville magic tricks and you all act like it's a miracle.

Sister Gloria

(claps her hands loudly once) The rolls in the basket are another Christlike miracle. Be sure you log it into the computer!

(Sister Carmen taps briefly on the keyboard of her computer.)

Patricia

The sooner we have the blood test the sooner we can end this charade. I don't want my daughter touching all those sick people at your healings. I don't want her handing out bread or koolaid, as if the world were a big feeding line. She deserves a normal life.

Sister Carmen

Is that why you had her aborted?

Patricia

I've already explained to you why I had her aborted! Let's get beyond the past, and look at the future -- Reen's future!

(Meanwhile, Izzy enters the office, also carrying a basket of rolls. His basket is deeper than Reen's. He hands a roll to each sister and to Patricia. He reaches deep into his basket to get the rolls. His basket, also, remains full.)

Izzy

Look, I can make bread -- just like Reen. And my rolls are bigger.

Sister Carmen

May I see your basket?

(She grabs the basket from Izzy and probes its depths with her arm.)

(Sadly) Izzy dear, the computer has determined that Reen is the Christ Child. You didn't have to waste your time putting a false bottom in this basket to hide the extra rolls. You can go back to being a normal child, now.

Izzy

The rolls may be fake -- but the healings were real! I healed more sick people than Reen did! The computer isn't fair! I demand to check its programming!

(Izzy walks around to stand beside Sister Carmen and look at the computer screen)

Izzy

What's that on the screen?

Sister Carmen

Those are the files we keep on each of you -- your grades, your miracles, your biological history...

(she clicks a few keys)

See, you have a very impressive list of miracles -- all recorded in the computer.

Izzy

The computer is prejudiced, 'cause I'm a boy. I'll bet my list is longer than Reen's.

Sister Carmen

The computer's decision is final.

(Izzy runs angrily out of the office, onto the playground. Truck sound effects. As Izzy leaves, the Delivery Man arrives in his truck, with another frost-covered bucket of fetuses.)

Scene Four

Izzy

(to Delivery Man)

The contest is over -- lousy little Reen is it -- she's ruined it for all of us! They probably won't want to see you any more either.

[Izzy throws down his basket, and a dozen or more rolls spill on the ground.]

[Reen is jumping rope with easy shallow swings.]

Reen

Blue bells, cockle shells, eevie, ivy, over.

(She swings a few normal speed rounds. Then she chants)

Mabel Mabel set the table. Salt, Vinegar, Silverware... Don't forget the Red Hot Peppers!

[She spins the rope faster and faster until she trips and is out.]

Izzy

Some Christ Child -- can't even do red hot peppers! I'm a better healer than you are, too. You cheated somehow.

[He hits Reen, knocking her to the ground. Then continues pummeling her.]

(shouting) You ruined it for all of us! You're not even born of a virgin!

[Reen cries.]

Scene Five

[during this scene, chants are heard off stage]

"not born of a virgin, not born of a virgin" The cardboard children surround Reen. Izzy pokes at her, and tears off her sweater, as he joins in the chanting.

Delivery Man

[enters Sister Carmen's office]

Here's some more -- fresh frozen from the WomanCare lab.

Sister Carmen

We still haven't placed the last batch you brought us. Can't you ask them to hold these until have some empty wombs?

Delivery Man

I just deliver 'em.

Sister Gloria

We should have lots of new recruits soon. We just found the Christ child. Everybody wants to join a winner.

Delivery Man

Just sign this form, take the bucket, and let me get on with my route.

Patricia

I demand a blood test. If she's my child, I won't let her be the Christ Child.

Delivery Man

Please sign for these so I can get going.

(He holds the clipboard in front of Sister Carmen)

Sister Carmen

(signing clipboard)

Okay. Take them to the kitchen and put them in the freezer.

Delivery Man

Which way is the kitchen?

Sister Gloria

I'll show him.

Sister Carmen

Don't any of you leave now. (to Delivery man) Just put them on the desk.

[he puts down the bucket on the desktop, and exits, then drives away in his truck.]

[The off-stage children chant, "One potato, two potato, three potato, four...five potato, six potato, seven potato, more...]

[Sister Carmen picks up the lid and peers inside.]

They're just adorable.

[Sister Gloria and Patricia lean in to get a closer look.]

Patricia

There's a whole army of them in there this time!

Sister Gloria

Think of the publicity! Everybody wants to join a winner!

Patricia

I demand a blood test to prove that Reen is my child. I've made an appointment at the clinic for 4 pm tomorrow. I expect her to be there. She is my child, and the blood test will prove it.

Sister Carmen

What if I allow the blood test, and she isn't your child? Will you still want her? Will you still try to rescue her from what you see as the terrible fate of being the Christ Child?

Patricia

(obviously having doubts) Would you let me have her if the tests say she isn't mine?

Sister Carmen

Let me tell you a story.

Patricia

What have I got to lose?

Sister Carmen

[clears throat to get attention]

I have noticed that cause and effect are not always simple to figure out. For the first two weeks, when I was in fifth grade, the lights went out whenever I left the classroom. I was one of the heaviest children in the class, so I thought my weight was triggering the light. I tried walking to the left of the doorway and then to the right. I tried jumping over the tiles, so I couldn't trigger the light switch. I even tried going out the back door of the classroom. But still the lights went out whenever I left the room. Then, one day, I looked over at the teacher, as I approached the door. There he was standing by the switch, ready to push it when I walked through the doorway. Ever since, I've looked for the man by the light switch. None of us are as powerful as we think we are.

Patricia

Is the point of that story that you don't think Reen is my child?

Sister Carmen

I leave her parentage in God's hands, where it has always been. I do not think He will take the Christ Child from us.

Scene Six

[On the playground outside, Izzy is pummeling Reen. He is shouting. Reen is crying. The cardboard children are watching, and cheering as if at a sporting event. "Hit her again, hit her again, harder, harder." The noise attracts the Sisters and Patricia. Sister Gloria is the most alert, and makes fastest progress toward the children who are taunting Reen. As the Sisters and Patricia come outside, Izzy sneaks back inside and is seen working at the computer, making printouts.]

Sister Gloria

(excitedly) Oh look, they're trying to crucify her, just like last time!

Sister Carmen

People don't change, do they? But this time we can stop them.

Sister Gloria

Reen is truly the Christ Child!

Patricia

[rushing to rescue Reen]

They're beating her up! Help me!

Sister Gloria

I can't wait for the millennium! Everything will be so wonderful!

Sister Carmen

All thanks to Reen!

[during this conversation, Sister Gloria is lifting Reen into her arms. Reen is crying, and her clothes are torn. The children continue to chant, "Not born of a virgin!...Not born of a virgin!"]

Sister Gloria

Now children, the Christ child is just that -- a child. We have to take special care of her, so she will grow up and rule the world...

[Izzy, now finished at the computer and clutching a stack of printouts, comes out on the playground.]

Izzy

Come and get it! I've got the names of your bio-mothers!

[Izzy begins passing papers to the children on the playground.]

Offstage voices:

Oh, Goody! I've dreamed of finding my bio-mother. I'll make her pay for aborting me! I'll make her suffer!

I just want to know what mine is like. What she was doing that was more important than taking care of me?

Maybe mine is nice. Maybe she'll give me money.

Let's call them and invite them over. After we meet them we can decide what to do to them!

[Izzy sneaks Patricia's cellular phone out of her purse, dials the phone]

Izzy

Remember that abortion you had twelve years ago? Well it's me!

Izzy's bio-mother (off stage
)

You nasty little boy. You should be ashamed of yourself, playing pranks with the telephone.

Izzy

I'm not a prank. I'm real, and I'm really yours!

Izzy's bio-mother (off stage
)

(happily) Are you calling from the Order of Virgin Mothers? Are you all right?

[Sick Person enters]

Sick Person

I've come to worship Izzy! I've brought gold and jewels, fit for a king.

Izzy

Yes, I am!

Izzy's bio-mother

I've been praying you'd call!

Act III

Scene One

(As the scene opens, Sister Gloria, followed by cardboard children of the Orphanage, is parading around the playground, pulling Reen in a manger-shaped basket on a wagon, singing "When the Saints Come Marching In." She is joined by off-stage voices. Carmen is not in the parade. She is in her office, explaining the results of the blood test to Patricia. Patricia's car is parked outside the Orphanage.)

Sister Carmen

According to the lab, you and Reen share most of the major histocompatibility complexes, and several minor ones as well. But the data are not conclusive. You both have very common blood types. (pause) There is only a 50% chance that you are Reen's mother.

Patricia

(said as if selecting fish at the market) That's good enough for me. I'll take her home this afternoon.

Sister Carmen

The Christ Child is not up for adoption.

Patricia

My child is no Christ Child! And, I will not let my child be sacrificed to your religion!

Sister Carmen

(calmly) You made that choice eleven years ago when you had your abortion.

Patricia

[standing to give her words my impact]

That's ridiculous! Give me my child!

Sister Carmen

If we were to give any of our children to their bio-mothers, we would become nothing more than the brood-sows you accused us of being. If you have your way, we might as well hang out a sign -Is Your Pregnancy Inconvenient? Let a Virgin Sister grow your baby for you -- and then -- when it is convenient -- if you like your child -- come and get him or her any time you like. (pause) That would be ridiculous!

Patricia

I didn't tell you to start your religion. You didn't even ask my opinion.

Sister Carmen

And if I had, your child would not exist, and we wouldn't be here arguing. So, what is it you really want?

(Sister Gloria enters)

Sister Gloria

The other Sisters and I have spoken. If you declare Reen to be the Christ Child, we see no reason to stay in the Order of Virgin Mothers any longer.

Sister Carmen

Why is that?

Sister Gloria

We're asking you to choose -- which do you want more: The Order or the Christ Child. You cannot have both! The Order existed to find the Christ Child. If she has been found, we don't need to live here and remain virgins any longer.

Sister Carmen

We have all worked for the Coming of the Christ Child. The Christ Child and the Order are one.

Sister Gloria

But, if Reen truly is the Christ Child, why should I maintain my virginity? Why should I not marry and have children of my own?

Sister Carmen

You swore your life to Christ -- it is not up to me to choose for you. My conscience impels me to choose the truth! I cannot deny the Second Coming of Christ! If you leave, I will find others to help me raise the children.

Sister Gloria

But, consider if you are wrong -- if Reen is not the Christ Child. Reen is truly a miraculous child, but she isn't as good a healer as Izzy. She makes koolaid instead of wine, and rolls instead of loaves. I don't think she is the Christ. If you choose her over the Order, and then discover you are wrong, you will have lost all chance of finding Him in your lifetime. Do you want to take such a risk?

Sister Carmen

I am sorry your faith is so weak. If I deny my Savior, just to keep my Order together, I am no better than Judas.

Sister Gloria

You could wait. You could give Reen to this reporter, here. Let her grow up in a normal life, like Jesus did. And then, when she is an adult, if she continues to behave like Christ, there will be plenty of time to acknowledge her. And, meanwhile, we can continue accepting implants, and continue our Search.

Sister Carmen

I have found the Christ Child. Do what you will. But, ask God's Guidance before you act.

Sister Gloria

You are a foolish vain old woman!

(Further conversation between Carmen and Gloria is interrupted by the Izzy's father who barges into Sister Carmen's office.)

Izzy's bio-father

I won't have my child worshiping that scrawny wimp in the basket! What sort of joint do you run here?

Sister Carmen

This joint is the religious establishment of the Order of the Virgin Mothers, and we...

Izzy's bio-father

The contest was a fraud. Anyone can see that my Izzy is more wonderful than that Reen girl! I demand a recount!

Sister Carmen

I'm sure this can all be settled reasonably.

Patricia

(to Izzy's bio-father)

Watch what you say about my child!

Izzy's bio-father

She's your child? Then this is all your fault!

Sister Carmen

Who are you, and why are you in my office, criticizing my children?

[Patricia is busily taking notes during all this.]

Patricia

Please spell your name so I'll have it right for my story.

Sister Carmen

You never asked if he wants to be in the newspaper.

Izzy's bio-father

It can't hurt. Public outrage will help us get our children out of this dump.

Sister Carmen

Many of the bio-mothers never told anyone they had abortions. They might not want their stories told.

Izzy's bio-father

Oh, grow up!

Sister Carmen

Nowhere is it written that we are grown-ups of God.

Izzy's bio-father

Just what we need -- platitudes when we are trying to get our children back!

Sister Carmen

You gave up your rights to these children when you had them aborted. I have your consent forms on file in our safety deposit box. I can arrange an appointment for you with our lawyer, so you can see them, if you have forgotten.

Patricia

You don't have my consent form on file --because I never signed one.

Izzy's bio-father

My wife signed under duress -- she was pregnant and scared. I was a kid. That agreement can't be valid in a court of law.

[Izzy's bio-father, Patricia, and Sister Gloria, readying for another onslaught. Carmen keys something into her keyboard.]

Sister Gloria

The children belong to their birth-mothers -- who saved them from certain death. Give the sisters the birth certificates and computer records of their children.

Patricia

What about my child? What about Reen?

Izzy's bio-father

The children belong to their bio-parents. Give us their birth certificates and computer records.

(There is a knock at the door. Izzy's bio-father steps outside to answer. We hear the delivery man's voice off stage

Here's some more, fresh-frozen from the lab.

[Izzy's bio-father enters with the clipboard.]

Sister Carmen

I still haven't placed the last batch. Couldn't the clinic hold them until I have some wombs ready?

Izzy's bio-father

He just delivers them. Sign here.

[He offers the clipboard to Sister Carmen, by reaching between Sister Gloria and Patricia. She takes the clipboard and Izzy's bio-father goes back to the door and swaps the clipboard for the frost-covered bucket. With one hand on the lid handle, he asks:]

May I see them? I've never seen an aborted fetus.

Sister Carmen

If you look, you have to take one.

[No one moves toward the bucket. Izzy's bio-father's hand remains still.]

Izzy's bio-father

I can't just hold them forever. Where should I put them?

[Before Sister Carmen can answer, Sister Gloria speaks.]

Sister Gloria

Put them back in their bio-mothers. I've got ten children already, and two more on the way. I don't want any more.

[This next sequence of monologues is said as if it is a round or chorus]

Patricia

What about Reen?

Izzy's bio-mother

I won't have my child worshiping that scrawny wimp in a basket.

Sister Gloria

The millennium is here!

Sister Carmen

50% chance

Izzy's bio-father

[pointing at the clipboard on Sister Carmen's desk]

Sign here.

Patricia

I never signed.

Izzy's bio-father

My wife signed under duress.

Patricia

I never signed at all.

Sister Carmen

No where is it written that we are adults of God.

Patricia

This is ridiculous!

Izzy's bio-father

She was young and scared!

Izzy's bio-father wearing Delivery Man's Hat

Fresh frozen from the WomanCare lab.

Patricia

That's good enough for me!

Sister Gloria

Give us the records.

Izzy's bio-father

Can't be valid in a court of law!

Patricia

What about Reen?

Sister Gloria

Thank God, the millennium is here!

(end chorus)

[Reen enters on a clear plastic walkway -- so it appears she is walking on air. She holds a magician's hat, out of which she is pulling doves. The last dove turns out to be a rabbit. All are silent and turn to Reen.]

Sister Carmen

(to Reen) I realize that Christ was in his thirties last time before he was called on to make difficult moral choices, but I need your advice now.

Reen

I'll try. But I'm just a kid, and you did promise me a normal childhood.

Sister Carmen

(to Reen) That is true. But now we seek your advice. (pause) What should be the future of our Order?

Sister Gloria

(to Sister Carmen)

The Order has no future if you insist that she is the Christ Child!

Patricia

I certainly don't agree that she is my Lord. She is a child, and should be treated like a child.

Izzy's bio-father

I'll say she's a child -- and a naughty one at that. If she were mine, I'd spank her!

[Patricia steps in between Reen and Izzy's bio-father]

Patricia

Sister Carmen, surely you don't mean to trust all our fates to this ten-year-old child? This should be handled in a court of law.

Sister Carmen

For me, and my order, God's law is beyond man's law. Reen is God, and I will abide by Her decree, even if it lands me in jail. I know that you and your unbelieving multitudes will take this to court if you do not like Reen's decision, and if you don't like the first judge's opinion, you'll appeal that, too. For me there is only one judge. And all I ask is that we hear Her out.

Patricia

Okay, I'll listen -- but I'm not expecting any Solomon.

Izzy's bio-father

Why are you women all such softies for children? I won't listen to anything this wimp has to say!

Sister Carmen

Sisters, are we agreed that we will do the bidding of our Lord?

Sister Gloria

Perhaps I was hasty. I will abide by my Lord's wishes. Forgive me, Reen.

Reen

Let us pray together.

(The Sisters and Reen kneeled together on the floor. When their backs were turned, a rabbit jumped out of the magician's hat, but neither Patricia nor Izzy's bio-father dared to giggle.)

Sister Carmen, Sister Gloria and Reen

Thank you God for all your blessings.

Reen

Sister Carmen, you taught me that the Order was created to find the Christ Child. You did it. Now it's time for the Sisters to resume normal lives.

Sister Gloria

That's what I said!

Sister Carmen

(recovering from Reen's pronouncement)

Does it surprise you to hear your judgment confirmed by the Christ Child?

Sister Gloria

[hesitates, then defensively]

No. I knew I was right. (To Reen) May we take our children with us (pause) Lord?

Reen

[her voice carrying unusual confidence for one so young, she stands facing Sister Gloria]

The children you have borne are yours -- that is the law of the land. The Order has served its purpose -- it has saved the Christchild. So, you and your children can live where ever you want. Your vows are fulfilled. (pause) But I do not know how you will like life without a cause controlling every minute.

Izzy's bio-father

What about us? Must we watch our flesh and blood be sacrificed to religious nuts whose only purpose was to find you?

Reen

(facing Izzy's bio-father)

The Sisters taught us that you sacrificed your children to God when you had your abortions. And now, thanks to Izzy and the computer, you have been given an extra blessing. You know your children survived their abortions and are loved. Perhaps, if God is willing, the Sisters will let you visit them.

Izzy's bio-father

(His hands balled into fists as he faces Reen)

You're no Christ Child. You're just doing what the Sisters taught you. You're a puppet -- nothing more! You can't stop me from taking Izzy home this very day!

Reen

That's true. I cannot stop you from breaking the law. The Sisters taught me that the freedom to break the law is as important as the freedom to keep it. Without that freedom, we are all enslaved.

Izzy's bio-father

[picking up the frozen fetus bucket, and then having second thoughts]

Will somebody take this bucket? Before I throw it at her?

Sister Carmen

[holding out her hands for the bucket]

I'll take it. And, if no one will help me, I'll grow them all myself.

Patricia

Reen, will you come to live with me and be my daughter? The blood tests say there is a 50% chance you are my flesh and blood.

Reen

Last time, Christ was raised by his birth-mother. He was an implant, too, you know. My birth-mother is dead. Sister Carmen is the closest thing I have to a birth-mother. I'll stay with her.

(Reen climbs into Sister Carmen's lap and hugs her. Sister Carmen returns the hug.

Patricia

(to Sister Carmen)

I can sue for her in a court of law.

Reen

If you go to court, the judge will ask what I want before he decides. And I'll tell him I want to stay with Sister Carmen.

Patricia

If the judge said you had to live with me, would you do so?

Reen
God won't make me make that choice!

Patricia

But you are my child. I want you to be part of my life.

Reen

(snuggling into Sister Carmen's lap)

You can come visit me in my new home.

Sister Carmen

(lifts the lid on frozen fetus bucket and displays the contents to Patricia and Izzy's bio-father, as if offering hors d'oeuvres)

Would you like one of these?

[Patricia looks at the fetuses, over at Reen, and back at the fetuses.]

Reen

Take one. They are my flesh and blood.

[Curtain down.]