Dr. Holderman – Holderman is an old man in his late seventies, he walks with a slight limp and talks in a very slow careful manner. He is very intelligent and though the years have not been kind to his body, his mind is still very sharp and he is able to express himself well. He dresses in archaic clothing and a pair of glasses with a thin frame.
William – William is a young man of about 16-19 years of age. He dresses in modern clothing but always-fashionable garb. He is fairly tall and walks perfectly erect. He has a normal speaking pattern for someone his age but a large vocabulary and love to flaunt his mastery of the English language. Though he is normally shy he moves about today with confidence and grace.
A quaint living room and kitchen area. The place is filled with antique patterns and furniture. The place is meticulously clean though, not a wrinkle in the sofa or in the chair covers, everything is as strait and as neat as one could possibly make it. In walks Dr. Holderman, an old man in his late seventies, he sits upon the sofa and turns on his old-style television and begins to watch an old war movie. He has just settled into his chair when a knocking comes at the door. Dr. Holderman gets up to answer it and finds William on the other side.
William: Dr. Holderman I presume?
Holderman: Yes, I am Holderman. And you are?
William: The name is William (offers a handshake to Holderman but Holderman ignores it) I live just down the street from you.
Holderman: I see, and what brings you here… William
William: I wanted to talk with you for a bit, mind if I come in sir? If you’re not to busy. (Holderman thinks about it for a moment nervous to let a stranger into his house but finally motions for him to come in)
Holderman: Have a seat… William (William sits down on one of the chairs and Holderman sits on the couch) (somewhat irritated) What brings you here?
William: I wanted to talk a bit about your past if I could.
Holderman: (sits back and rubs his chin like he’s trying to think) My past?
William: Yes, your past. I know who you are, or rather who you were.
Holderman: Oh, and who was I?
William: The famous poet Marcel Mudall. The best known poet in the years following World War II. According to my records you published five volumes of poetry between the years of 1947-1954 and three of those made it to the best sellers list. You were an icon of poetry for nearly eight years and then you vanished into thin air. Since Marcel was just your pen name no one knew who you were, until I started working for your former publisher and saw the record. I was shocked to find you lived so close, the coincidence is amazing…
Holderman: I’m sorry, but you are mistaken.
William: I am… I checked the records and everything I can’t be mistaken, it was all there in black and…
Holderman: It was SIX volumes of poetry between the years of 1945 and 1954. The first was with another company, under another name. Yes, I am Marcel Mudall, or I was. Now I’m just an old man waiting for death like an lost relative.
William: So it is you… (Holderman nods) (excited) Well, why did you disappear? What have you been doing? You were a God among men. I love your work. There are so many things I want to say and do…
Holderman: (calmly) Why did you come here?
William: (pauses, unsure of what to say) I-I-I wanted you to help me write. I wanted you to help me learn how to write well, how to write like you, how to be good how to be… (Holderman raises his hand to silence William)
Holderman: (still calm) Write about what might I ask?
William: (nervous) My feelings, my emotions, my thoughts, my dreams, my… my… what’s inside of me. You know? Me. I want to write about me.
Holderman: What are you feeling?
William: Anger, hate, love, happiness, sadness, all of the things you wrote about and then some you see…
Holderman: (loudly) No! What are you feeling right now?
Holderman: (normally) Yes, right now.
William: I’m r-r-r-rather nervous, you are kind of scaring me some.
William: Yeah, I guess so.
Holderman: (loudly) There is no fear in poetry! There is to be no fear, there will be no fear and there canNOT be any fear. You see, to be a poet is to have a mental disease. Poet’s have the compulsive need to spill their guts to the world in it’s purest form. (quietly)Some day psychologists will make a little pill (pretends to hold a pill between his thumb and index finger and shoves it in William’s face) that will wipe out all of poet-kind. It’s a sick need to hide nothing and give everything. But to complete that process there can be no fear. Fear is the constricting emotion, fear causes people to hold back not only in action but in words. There is no great poem about fear because to write about fear it to automatically hold back. Sadness, despair, happiness, love, joy, these are emotions that are both completely consuming and freeing at the same time. (loudly) If you are afraid you should leave now and not come near this place again. (Sits back down on the couch and loosely crosses his legs)
William: (There is a long awkward pause as William thinks things over) (Meekly) Does this mean, you’ll teach me?
Holderman: Aye, I’ll teach you. If that’s what you still want.
William: I don’t understand why though, you don’t seem to care much for me and I’m not sure…
Holderman: (Interrupting loudly) You’re right, I don’t like you. In fact I despise you. However, I am an old man in ill health. I have left the world nothing save a handful of now forgotten books of poetry. But maybe through you I can live on in some small way, there is hope for you, I see it in your eyes, but it will take a lot of work, on your part and mine.
William: Well, I’ll come back tomorrow and we can begin my lessons then, Dr. Holderman, thank you very much. (Gets up to leave, begins to walk to the door)
Holderman: (Shouting) You will not leave this place until I say you are ready. (William turns to face him) It is warm outside, that means it’s summer and you, being a school-aged fellow have nothing important to do today. So sit (points to chair) and we shall get started. (William nervously inches his way back to his seat and eases back into the chair)
William: Ok… (A long pause)
Holderman: So tell me, what are you ashamed of?
Holderman: (more loudly and succinctly) What are you ashamed of?
William: I don’t understand.
Holderman: To be a writer is to be human, to be human is to have regrets, shames and so forth. What are YOU ashamed of… William?
William: (Nervous chuckle) I’m not going to tell you that… You’re crazy..
Holderman: (outburst of anger) If you can not tell me, than how will you ever tell the world?
William: I-I-I-I don’t know…
Holderman: If you ever hope to be a writer you must learn to be open and not the least big afraid of everything that makes you up. If you have the slightest hesitation, then there is no hope for you.
William: (nervous) ok…
Holderman: So…. (calming down) What are you ashamed of?
William: Well… (thinking) when I was twelve my friend and I decided to have a little fun. He got himself some small firecrackers and there was a little stray black cat that roamed the neighborhood. He grabbed the cat and had me hold it down while he tied the firecracker to its head he lit the fuse. I let go at the cat ran off behind a house and we heard the explosion (heavy sigh). He went and looked, but-but I never did. I still can’t believe what I did. You asked… I told. (He looks up scornfully at the old man).
Holderman: You are upset because you had a small part in killing a cat?
William: Yes… (nodding his head slightly)
Holderman: First of all, if what you said is true, you did not kill that cat. Your friend, provided he hasn’t grown out of it should seek help for his destructive behavior. However, you, you were just being a stupid kid as we all were at age twelve.
William: I don’t think you understand this is something that…
Holderman: I understand you feel guilty for not helping that animal and while I pity that poor creature you must learn that guilt and shame are two different emotions and guilt can be absolved by others but shame you must face yourself.
William: (very angry, yelling) Well, what are you ashamed of? You’re asking me all these questions, watch me spill my guts and you nail them to the table. What about you? I want you to go first then.
Holderman: You want to know what I am ashamed of?
William: Yeah, since you are pushing me, yes I want to know.
Holderman: You killed a cat. I killed people. Five of them in fact, two of them were under the age of fourteen.
William: (Skeptical) When?
Holderman: World War 2. That’s when.
William: You weren’t IN World War 2. I checked your biography. Your brother was in the war, but you were too young.
Holderman: I lied.
Holderman: My brother was drafted in the closing months of the war. However he was a pacifist with bad lungs. He never would have survived basic training much less an actual battle. Being stronger but too young I went down to the army office with all of my brothers information and pretended to be him. Since we looked alike it wasn’t a challenge. They just wanted soldiers, they didn’t care that there were a year shy of drafting age.
William: Ok, so you went to war and killed people, big deal, millions of others did.
Holderman: I made it just in time to help the armies siege Berlin. As we got closer to the city limits the younger the soldiers got. Hitler was getting desperate and he was giving guns to little boys. Twelve, thirteen, it didn’t matter. He gave them rifles and sent them against tanks, artillery and hundreds of well-trained troops.
William: I didn’t know this…
Holderman: (interrupting) I meant to shoot one of them in the leg, he was coming toward me clumsily and I didn’t wish to kill him. I shot at his feet but when I started firing he hit the ground and on the way down took a bullet square in his brain killing him instantly. Another time, my unit was in a suburb of Berlin and we came under fire from a gunner behind a small brick wall. We were pinned down pretty good but I saw his head stick up over the wall for just a second and I fired, and blew his entire skull out from the ear up. I was ecstatic at first, wondering what medal I would get, but when we went over there and saw it was a young man of just twelve, I broke down and cried. THAT is shame, not guilt.
Holderman: Yeah, wow… That’s what shame does, wow people. It’s soul-bearing, eye-opening and awe-inspiring. People spit on guilt, but are struck hard by shame. (long pause) So let’s try this again, what are you ASHAMED of?
William: (sighs heavily and pauses to think, he’s visibly worried about saying anything). Shortly after I was born… my parents divorced. I lived with my mother for many years but when I was about five she re-married. My stepfather didn’t care much for me. He seemed to think that I stood between him and my mom. As a result, he would hit me at the drop of a hat. I recall one time, I spilled my soda on the carpet and he hit me right across the chin chipping my bottom tooth. He told my mother that I fell down the stairs, she bought it but a week later she saw him toss me to the ground as hard as he could and we ran out on him. We spent several months in a shelter after that… (long pause)
Holderman: (happily) Excellent, now you have something to write about.
William: Write about it! I can barely tell anyone about it! How the hell am I going to write about this and let the whole world see it! You must be crazy!
Holderman: You don’t write about it and tell the story. You write about it by using it. Use the emotions, the pain, the hatred, the fear, use them to write about whatever subject comes to mind. Write about the night but include the fear you felt when your stepfather raised his hand. Write about a thorn but use the pain of the blows you took to help you. Emotions are more powerful than events, always have been, always will be.
William: I see…
Holderman: Yes, you do see. You have your first assignment before you now. You are to go home and write something and impress me with it. Bring it here the same time tomorrow that you arrived today and I will read it. Use what you have learned and we will see where you stand. Now go…
William: Ok, same time tomorrow you said? (Holderman nods, William gets up and begins to walk to the door)
Holderman: Another thing… (William turns around) If you should show up tomorrow and I seriously doubt you will. You will be on your way to being a writer. It will be but the first step in a journey of many miles.
William: I’ll be here…
Holderman: We’ll see…
(exit William, Curtain falls)