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Scene 1. Sounds of WAR offstage, gunfire, bomb explosions. QATHAFI is discovered onstage, on a land telephone, in helmet and olive drag flak jacket and military fatigues, with a pistol in a holster at his waist. QATHAFI Don’t worry about that, General. I’m on a safe land-line. The NATO Comsats can’t pick us up. I’m on my way to Nalut, you just make sure you hold the Tunisian border for me at Dahlbah. Yeah. We’re bringing reinforcements - gunfire gets closer and louderand more ferocious, he ducks down, fires his pistol off. DRIBRAHIM enters, also in helmet and uniform, with an AK-47, and fires off in the same direction. DRIBRAHIM Al’Qaeda snipers! Q I know. DRIBRAHIM Colonel, you have to take cover -Q Call in the Grads, missiles, over there! DRIBRAHIM (running back off) Yes Sir! Q (still on phone) General, you still there? Okay. I’m all right. Go go go! As he hangs up, huge explosions suddenly blast nearby, and he falls to the ground. We hear the sound of MISSILES screaming overhead, and exploding off. DRIBRAHIM re-enters, with SAMINA and the 2 GUARDS also in battle fatigues and with weapons. SAMINA Enemy hit, with Grads and the new Scuds from China!
Q Positions? DRIBRAHIM Taken out! 1st GUARD Direct hit! They’re blown to bits! 2nd GUARD The Barkers are running like dogs - 1st GUARD Those who aren’t dead - SAMINA Wounded? Q Yeah. Round ‘em up. The Special Forces will take care of them -SAMINA (louder guns incoming) More incoming, though. Mop-up remnants, are all. Q - - at their prisons. DRIBRAHIM Which the Euro media blames you for. Q We got nothing to do with them. SAMINA Special Forces? DRIBRAHIM Classified, Captain. Get to our wounded and casualties first. SAMINA Yes Sir. Boys. She and the 2 GUARDS run off again. Q
Let’s get to Nalut. I want to see Tunisia. That’s the key, and our whole western border with Algeria and Mali. Dribrahim, call in the tanks, it’s almost morning, time for our aerial European visitors. DRIBRAHIM Reports are even coming in from the east at Benghazi of night-time bombing raids. Q I know. Cowards, who can’t even come on the ground and fight like men. The underground bunkers are safe at Ras Lanuf and Ajdabiya. DRIBRAHIM Those towns are deserted, destroyed, and all the oilfields, pipelines, and refineries. We’ve lost Benghazi. Q We never had it. Rommel always went around it, south, anyway. Before there were any oilfields, Libya was still the key to the fate of the whole Mediterranean. Get the tanks under cover, and missile launchers. Let’s go. They exit, one way. The 2 GUARDS come running in frantically and covered in sand from the other way immediately. 1st GUARD I had to get out of there. 2nd GUARD (huge explosions, they fall down) Allah, oh, that was close. 1st GUARD They’re bombing in daylight now. It almost hit the hospital. 2nd GUARD Full of our men. 1st GUARD Blood. I never saw so much. Did you see that leg by the ambulance? 2nd GUARD Brother, calm down. We’re okay. Another bomb much closer. 1st GUARD (screaming, in panic) Allahu akbar!
2nd GUARD Cool it Hamed! Get down! 1st Guard No! Mother! He stands up, and a blast throws him backward off his feet, killing him, but without any blood. 2nd GUARD God! Help me. Help me. Hamed, my little baby brother. Oh god, oh no, what am I gonna tell Papa? Mama? Enter JIBRA’IL, in shining otherworldly armor and helmet out of classical times, but with modern head-phones on, and a big RPG. JIBRA’IL Coordinates? Clear! She fires a huge fiery rocket off and up in the air. 2nd GUARD hasn’t really seen her, only the blast of the rocket. 2nd GUARD Holy Mother of Heaven! JIBRA’IL (lays protectively on top of his back) Get down! 2nd GUARD (explosions) Allah, Allahu akbar, oh, oh, you got it, a German F-16, or - - JIBRA’IL British. I don’t know what it is. You okay? 2nd GUARD (jumping up) Yeah. Oh! Look at it go! Allahu akbar. JIBRA’IL (kneels at 1st GUARD’s dead body) You are at peace now, my child. 2nd GUARD (kneels too at the body) Oh Hamed, we got ‘em. We got ‘em. The jet bomber. It’s a miracle, with an RPG. Rocket propelled grenade, is all.
JIBRA’IL Hamed is his name? 2nd GUARD Yes. Who are you? My baby, kid brother, only seventeen. A good boy. A really good boy. He always wanted to be a warrior, though, like in the X-Box-360. SAMINA runs on. SAMINA God almighty, who shot that?! You? 2nd GUARD (Sam has pointed at him, but he points at JIBRA’IL) She did. SAMINA (doesn’t see JIBRA’IL) Who? 2nd GUARD I saw it, but I don’t believe it. SAMINA (picks up the empty RPG) You’ll get a medal for this. An American F -2nd GUARD (kneeling at 1st GUARD still) Hamed. SAMINA How -- ? 2nd GUARD A concussion from a bomb. SAMINA A thousand pounder at least. How are we going to stand up to those? We’re losing twenty tanks a day to the Europeans, and all our anti-aircraft artillery is taken out, radar, communications - - 2nd Guard God will help us. He has sent us Angels. She is -- who are you? Are you from Saudi Arabia?
JIBRA’IL Give me a hand with Hamed. You are a man of faith. Are your prayers sincere? 2nd GUARD My prayers? JIBRA’IL Yes. 2nd GUARD Yes. SAMINA His whole . . . the concussions rupture a man’s whole body internally, turning everything inside to pieces. And only a pale … a delicacy . . . of it to show on the body outside, like he is not hurt at all. JIBRA’IL Pray with me Brother. What is your name? 2nd GUARD Mobruk. SAMINA What? JIBRA’IL Hold his hand. I can tell you love him. 2nd GUARD With all my heart. Like my whole life. JIBRA’IL I will hold his other hand. Do you believe in God? Mobruk? 2nd GUARD Yes? JIBRA’IL Do you believe in God?
2nd GUARD I don’t know how to answer an Angel. For I am a simple little Libyan. I have been a big fool all my life. I don’t understand hardly anything. QATHAFI and DRIBRAHIM enter off to a side, and watch. JIBRA’IL Hamed? Hamed, why are you sleeping so long, all day? Your brother Mobruk is here waiting for you, to come back from God’s good black world of the universe, where I know you don’t want to leave. Nobody ever does. And why would they, to come back to this noisy green planet of troubles and a foolish goddess of the desert like me. I, who betrayed god, Lord Osiris, as a stupid girl once. Can you believe that? I ran off with a clever older man, like the Brother Colonel Set, the jackal, anteater Qathafi. But only that stern Dark Voice in the sky, Father Nature, father of Osiris, can heal you of your death wounds and bring you back to us, alive and well, and only if you want. God won’t heal you if you’d rather be dead. Don’t worry, he’s not angry with you. I promise. As long as you obey his orders, you’ll have no problems. That’s all I do too.
Pause, as everyone waits, not really knowing why. Then the 1st GUARD opens his eyes slowly, and squints painfully. 1st GUARD Uh . . . JIBRA’IL Yes. How do you feel? 1st GUARD The light . . . hurts . . . JIBRA’IL Yes, it does. 2nd GUARD Hamed? Hamed? 2nd GUARD embraces him, and 1st GUARD sits up a little. DRIBRAHIM
What’s going on here? SAMINA He was dead. I will swear to it. Massive internal injuries. JIBRA’IL (stands, and speaks to QATHAFI) Don’t be scared.
She exits. They all pause, still uncertain. Fade out.
Enter MICHAEL as before in glorious classical, shining white armor and helmet, with an M-16; and ZEID, without an helmet or flak jacket, in his same old plain clothes, and an M-16. They are shooting offstage in the direction towards QATHAFI in the last scene. ZEID Damn! MICHAEL Exactly. ZEID (not sure if he’s talking to anybody there) They’re too far away. Heavy weapons. MICHAEL Yeah. ZEID (waving behind him) Cease-fire, men. Save your ammo. (but gunfire continues behind him) Goddamnit, cease-fire, stop firing in the air like little boys! This isn’t an army. I’ve never seen such idiots. No self-discipline at all. I don’t know which way to shoot. Obey your orders! Allahu almighty, help me.
MICHAEL Maybe. ZEID Who said that? Ah, they’ve stopped. Thank god. Now they’re smoking cigarettes. Jesus. MICHAEL Yeah. ZEID (sees him) Well, you’re a lot of help. MICHAEL Thanks. ZEID I was being facetious. MICHAEL I know. ZEID Don’t say much, do you? MICHAEL No. ZEID Makes up for me, doing all the talking all the time? MICHAEL General. ZEID General? That’s a joke. You need an army to be a general. We used to have an army in the old days. You were on the other side, as I remember then, back in the ‘73 War. Now that was a war. I remember you. You guys, Michael was it? Israeli, Christian, right hand of Jehovah or something? MICHAEL Yahweh.
ZEID Adonai, or whatever. Elohim. House of El David. Those were the days. We broke the Bar-Lev Line on the Suez Canal. MICHAEL They said it couldn’t be done. ZEID They said it couldn’t be done. MICHAEL But we did it for you. I couldn’ve been on your side, you don’t know. An army needs a general. ZEID A general needs an army. MICHAEL To do all the talking. ZEID You’re a wise ass, you know that.
Enter JIBRA’IL again, as before, aiming a re-loaded RPG at them. JIBRA’IL Without a doubt. ZEID (freaks out) Holy goddamn! He falls backward and shoots wildly in the air) MICHAEL You got that right. Salaam. JIBRA’IL Shalom. ZEID
I’m blinded, I can’t see! JIBRA’IL (lowers her cannon) Lay still Zeid, you’ll just hurt yourself. MICHAEL (lowers his gun too) Blinded by too much light? Or total darkness? ZEID Huh? JIBRA’IL Lay still. That’s good. Breathe. Breathe. Better? ZEID Yes. Thank you. Who’s there? I still can’t see. JIBRA’IL It’ll come back to you. Take a nap. I need to talk to your boy. ZEID instantly falls asleep and snores comically. MICHAEL Long time, Isis. How’s your boy, Set, of the Desert? JIBRA’IL Neutralized. Trivialized. MICHAEL Still lethal as the jackal, ghibli sandstorm. JIBRA’IL Always. Have you decided which side you’re on, Horus? Pharaoh, of the hawk? MICHAEL Always. With Osiris. Unlike you. Let’s see, today, are you mother, sister, lover? ZEID (suddenly sits up) My boy came home between wars. 1970 I guess it was. Peace time.
Enter MUHAMMAD, in his mid-20s, longer hair a little, casual clothes, with BROTHER GAIUS in his long black traditional robes and Christian Brother white book-collar, a little older.
MUHAMMAD You’ll love the Trilithons on Jebel Nafusa, Brother Gaius. ZEID He brought an infidel monk with him from Rome, but that was okay. I was so glad to see him. GAIUS (shaking ZEID’s hand) Christian Brother, Gaius Phil.i.pater, F.S.C. ZEID F.S. huh? GAIUS Fratres Scholarum Christianorum. We’re not monks, Emir Zeid, hiding from the world. ZEID I’m glad to hear it. Fratres, you’re welcome to Africa, the cradle of everything. We have crazy hermits praying in the caves too. Some of them even become politicians. A certain young Lieutenant al-Qathafi - was that his name, how do you spell that? - has just taken over the Country from his own particular cave, where the Angel Gabriel also haunted another holy prophet out somewhere east of Eden. JIBRA’Il Mecca, I think it was. MICHAEL What was the prophet’s name? JIBRA’IL No idea. I wasn’t there. I’m innocent I tell you. MICHAEL That’s the last thing you are. You weren’t there? JIBRA’IL No. Was that you in the burning bush with Moses?
MICHAEL Who? MUHAMMAD is listening reticently to them, the only one who really sees and hears them both. JIBRA’IL Ramses the Second, Pharaoh. MUHAMMAD (realization, to himself) Moses is Ramses II? JIBRA’IL Ra-mosis, son of Ra. MICHAEL No. JIBRA’IL No, what? MUHAMMAD (starts to fall down, dizzy) Ah . . . oh . . . ZEID Muhammad -MUHAMMAD starts to fall, and ZEID catches him, as they both fall to the floor. MUHAMMAD Dad - GAIUS What? ZEID His epilepsy. GAIUS What - - ?
MUHAMMAD It’s not bad, Brother. Not a ‘grand mal’, not really. ZEID Only since he was twenty, in 1967, after the 6-Day War. MUHAMMAD I’m okay. ZEID Give him some water. JIBRA’IL (starts to give him her canteen) Here. MUHAMMAD (rudely refuses her) No. Michael.
Rudely rejected. JIBRA’IL sadly exits. MICHAEL gives him a drink from his canteen.
MICHAEL There. Better? MUHAMMAD Is she gone? ZEID Son? GAIUS Epilepsy? MICHAEL (answering them all) Sort of.
MICHAEL exits. ZEID Things happen fast in war. MUHAMMAD And slow in peace. It’s good to be home, father. ZEID Yes it is. I’m sorry if we quarrelled. MUHAMMAD So am I. If we did. GAIUS Always the philosopher. MUHAMMAD Never, doctor. ZEID Poet. GAIUS You could’ve fooled me. MUHAMMAD That’s not hard. ZEID Well, what brings you back to the Holy Land? MUHAMMAD I promised Brother Gaius a tour of the megaliths and trilithons of Jebel Nefusa, Mount Nysa where Dionysos and Demeter and Athene were born and raised. Right over here, Gaius. GAIUS This is where you grew up? ZEID
The sands of Leptis Magna, and Homs. GAIUS How far is Tripoli from here? ZEID Only about eighty kilometers that way. GAIUS West? MUHAMMAD Oea, one of the cities of Regio Tripolitana, built on a very ancient, sacred promontory, as the center, probably, of the legendary “Hill of Graces” that Herodotus described so well in 500 b.c.e. All this, indeed, is where the Voyageur Gods and Goddesses arrived on Earth in the Palladium spaceships. The Pallas twin of Athene. GAIUS The Vestal Virgins kept the Palladium in Rome, when Aeneas brought it there. MUHAMMAD From Libya, yes. It had been stolen by the Trojan Turks, and that was the real object of the Trojan Wars, and ‘The Iliad’. Helen of Troy, well, let’s just say she was the deceitful equivalent of Gabriel, Jibra’il, who stole Athene’s power for herself. GAIUS Venus, Isis. Yes, I’ve heard of that theory. MUHAMMAD No theory. Why do you think Virgil and Augustus Caesar were so keen to have a Roman update of ‘The Odyssey’ in ‘The Aeneid’? Or why Jason and the Argonauts also came to Libya in the beginning of their caelestial voyage. The beginning of ‘The Argonautika’ in outer space, not the end of it. GAIUS And you’re saying, Muhammad, that - ZEID Italy is not the beginning or the end of hardly anything. MUHAMMAD
Caesar knew that. It’s why he came to Libya as a teenager, and many times in war. Not to mention Cleopatra, and their son Caesarion, his true heir. GAIUS Maybe yes, maybe no. But why do you say Gabriel, uh . . . what are you saying? MUHAMMAD She is Isis who betrayed Osiris. Sold out Egypt. Caesar knew that. And so did Cleopatra. She wanted to rectify the eternal mistake. ZEID But down here, over south of Leptis Magna, Italian priest. . . are the senams of ancient ancient Stone Age monuments nobody but us knows about, or cares about. Why don’t you have Jebel Nefusa in your Bible? It’s all wrong. GAIUS I’m not a priest. ZEID See, look, subterranean Trablus el-Gharb, was really the oldest name of Tripoli, as part of the entire Jebel mountain range. It used to be on the Coast. Now the temples are underwater, out there too. MUHAMMAD Burj bu-lelah, where you can hear the sucking and gurgling of waves all around, the whispers and sighs of Triton and water nymphs. ZEID You must forgive my pagan son, he always has nymphs on the brain. He is an apostate from holy Islam and the respectful suras of Qu’ran. We are a Muslim Nation. GAIUS Then why are you proud of these barbarian old heathen temples everywhere? ZEID What? MUHAMMAD Heathen? GAIUS
Barbary Pirates, weren’t they what you were called? MUHAMMAD Brother Gaius, why are you saying this? GAIUS You say the Bible is . . . what are you saying? I don’t get it. I’m not an arrogant priest. I came here in good faith. MUHAMMAD And I invited you here in good faith, as a colleague and friend. GAIUS (pointing at Zeid) He is not acting in good hospitality. Insulting my Country and Church. ZEID I’m just saying what everyone knows. Your church that rapes little altar boys. The Vatican is a scandal and everybody knows it. Shame on you, Christian! GAIUS Shame on you Moslem, and terrorist bombers in Jerusalem! MUHAMMAD All right, all right, please --ZEID I’m not listening to this shit.
ZEID exits angrily.
MUHAMMAD Well, that went well. GAIUS Jesus. It’s not funny. MUHAMMAD Sorry. Do you want to continue the tour? There are amazing ruins, and we haven’t even seen Sabratha yet. Incredible Greek and Phoenician - - -
GAIUS No, we have more than enough beautiful old cities in Pompeii and Rome, and all over the Empire. I’ve seen enough. God, Muhammad, that was unnerving. I hope you don’t agree with your father? MUHAMMAD About Islam, no. You know that. Mahomet the merchant-soldier of Mecca destroyed pricelss sculptures and temples, calling them evil Egyptian “idols”. No fucking way. But it’s all these people have. It’s at least their own, an Arabic language as a religion. And they are my people, you have to allow me that. Everyone needs their . . . land . . . or whatever. GAIUS Holy Land? I don’t think so. MUHAMMAD What do you mean? GAIUS Holy Land? C’mon Muhammad. Let’s catch a plane back to Rome. I wish Libya and Libyans all the best, I really do. They deserve a break. Mussolini was a monster, I don’t argue with that. I can respect your father and all the others who suffered under the damned Il Duce. Yes. Absolutely. I’d have fought the Fascists too if they attacked my home, and put hundreds of thousands in concentration camps, like he did here. And then Rommel and the Afrika Corps after that. You’ve been at the shitty end of history every time. I need a drink. They don’t even allow alcohol around here. MUHAMMAD Who we are has been buried, blessedly, from your easy view of history, Fratres Scholarum Christianorum. GAIUS What do you mean? You’re not going on about Caesarion again, are you? MUHAMMAD That’s just one part of it. There are subterranean temples all over the Sahara Desert. I don’t even have to point out the Pyramids and Luxor. All of Rome could fit inside one avenue of Karnak, and all the Greek temples inside Abydos and Memphis with room to spare. Caesar knew it.
GAIUS Okay, okay. Let’s get out of here. MUHAMMAD No, I don’t think so. You go on back to the pollution and crime of Europe. Ciao Baby.
MUHAMMAD exits. GAIUS Jesus.
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