Pause. The pressure is now, obviously, on JOB to come up with a winner.
JOB: Someone who loves you.ZOPHAR halts, thinks.
BILDAD: Umm … what’s that like?
ZOPHAR: Does this person also give good backrubs?
ZOPHAR: I’m kinda stumped there.
ZOPHAR sits back down.
JOB: The point is … I’m not going to believe that there is no God.
BILDAD: Well… (thinks) What if there’s a God, but he’s shorter than you think?
JOB: How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?
BILDAD: Well, excuse me, Shakespeare. Sheesh.ELIPHAZ gets up and does whatever he does to signify it’s ‘his turn.’
ELIPHAZ: The answer to all this is simple. You must have sinned. Otherwise God wouldn’t have punished you so.
JOB: No, I didn’t! I was a perfect and upright man … who feared God and eschewedeth evil!
ELIPHAZ: Come on, admit it.
JOB: Admit what?
ZOPHAR: Is “eschewedeth” a word?
ELIPHAZ: Look, my child … everyone has sinned. (thinks) Have you ever cheated on your taxes?
ELIPHAZ: Have you ever taken more ketchup packets from McDonald’s than you needed?
JOB: No. That’s one of my better points.
ELIPHAZ: Did you take the Lord’s name in vain?
JOB: No. I wouldn’t even go see the movie Oh, God! Book Two because I thought it was sacreligious.
ELIPHAZ: Yes, John Denver’s performance was particularly heinous in the eyes of the Lord. (pause) Did you ever watch Cinemax after two a.m.?
ELIPHAZ: Have you coveted your neighbor’s wife?
JOB: My neighbor is gay. His (makes finger quotes) “wife” is 6’4″.
ELIPHAZ: Ever covet him?
ELIPHAZ: I’m just saying, you must have done something.
JOB: No, but I’m thinking about killing you right now.
ELIPHAZ: Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? Where were the righteous cut off?Pause.
JOB: What the Hell are you talking about?
ELIPHAZ shrugs and sits down. Now all three comforters are again sitting across from JOB for the relatively rapid-fire exchange that follows.
ZOPHAR: (taking a different tack) Remember what the Bible says. So no one told you life was going to be this way. Your job’s a joke; you’re broke; your love life’s D.O.A….
JOB: That’s not the Bible. That’s the theme song to ‘Friends.’
ELIPHAZ: (trying to cheer things up) You know, it seems like this story should be adapted into a musical.
ZOPHAR: I’m just trying to help. I’m not just giving you a guilt trip because you’re Jewish.
JOB: It’s Palestine in 2,000 B. C.. We’re all Jewish.Pause while this sinks in to all of them.
ZOPHAR: Well, then it’s definitely not because you’re Jewish.
ELIPHAZ: This is surprising? (pause) And what kind of a Jewish name is “Zophar?”
BILDAD: (still slightly incredulous) Are you sure I’m Jewish?
ELIPHAZ: (looking askance at BILDAD) I take that all back. This would make a rotten musical.
BILDAD: I mean, I don’t even look Jewish.
JOB: No doubt ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with ye! But … why are you here? And why have you given me such counsel … and (changes tone) Rabbi, why are you the only one of us with a comical Yiddish accent?
ELIPHAZ: It’s a theatrical convention.
BILDAD: Look, we’re just trying to help.
JOB: Look … please … leave me alone now.
BILDAD: Well, it’s been real. Real … something. (searching for an acceptable excuse to leave) Look, I gotta go. You’re sooooo depressing. I’m leaving before I shoot myself.
ZOPHAR: (indicating BILDAD) I’m leaving before I shoot him.
ELIPHAZ: I have tickets to a Sammy Davis, Jr. concert.
All three COMFORTERS stand around JOB and look at him sadly, one last time.
ELIPHAZ: I’m sorry we couldn’t be of more help.
ZOPHAR: Yes. We tried our best.
The COMFORTERS leave slowly. JOB puts his head down on the table in despair. BILDAD reappears around the edge of the offstage.
BILDAD: Yeah. (beat) If you change your mind about suing the Big Guy, here’s my card…
JOB: Get out.
BILDAD: Okay, but if you get injured in a car crash…
JOB: Leave! (pause) Please. (beat) I need to be alone. The words of Job are ended.BILDAD disappears, and JOB rises, staring above the audience, to ask questions of GOD.
JOB: OH, GOD! WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME? (pause) All I demand of you … is the right to ask a question! I just want to know … Why me? Why? What did I do wrong? How did I deserve this?
Is picking your nose really that bad? Why? Why? WHY?
Well … I guess that’s more than one question.
Having finally exhausted the last of his strength, JOB crumples to the floor and sobs. Moments later, SATAN, wearing horns this time and holding a microphone, appears by whatever means you have the budget for. Cheesy intro/outro music.
SATAN: Hi! I’m Satan! This part of the play gets pretty boring. Lots of gnashing of teeth and wearing of sackcloth and blah blah blah. You know? In the meantime, as a public service announcement, we’re going to demonstrate what Hell is like — for those of you who started to think that Hell was a cool place full of girls like me. To start with, we’ll play some easy listening music while the stagehands will begin selling Velveeta and I bring a volunteer up from the audience to play ‘The $50,000,000 Pyramid’ with an exceptionally stupid demon.Over the PA system, Patrick Swayze’s ‘She’s Like the Wind’ or Michael Bolton’s perfectly dreadful cover of ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’starts playing. All of the stage crew appears around the audience, with handbaskets like old-time cigarette girls, full of single wrapped slices of Velveeta™ Processed Cheese Food Product. A female volunteer from the audience is selected by SATAN and invited up on stage. The music turns down a little when SATAN begins to speak again.
SATAN: Hi. What’s your name?
Volunteer gives their name.
SATAN: That’s great, (name). I hate that name. It makes me want to vomit. (pause) Anway, if you win, we promise to let you out of Hell if you ever go there. (looks at Volunteer) That seems pretty likely, considering what you’re wearing. Please meet Melchior, third Under-Demon of Beelzebub!MELCHIOR runs out, hunched over, with big, stupid-looking horns on her head, and outrageously large fangs. She should affect the mannerisms of Igor from ‘Young Frankenstein.’
SATAN: Okay, (name), all you have to do to get a permanent ‘Get Out of Hell Free’ card is to get this demon to guess the word ‘fish’ … without saying the word. Ready?By this point, the stagehands are actively (and rather bad-naturedly) throwing Velveeta at the audience. Sometimes, the music turns up really loud when the Volunteer tries to speak, drowning them out, then going down again for MELCHIOR so she can be heard. The Volunteer will obviously try to give some clues. MELCHIOR’s responses should be the same, regardless of what they are.
MELCHIOR: Um … things that are minty?
MELCHIOR: Things that improve gas mileage?
MELCHIOR: ‘Doonesbury?’ Ernest Borgnine? Things that have nipples?
MELCHIOR: Are you doing the ‘Safety Dance?’
MELCHIOR: Oh! I know! Nitrogen? Wait! Spam?
MELCHIOR: Is it ‘The Pointer Sisters?’
A very obnoxious buzzer sounds. SATAN interrupts, ending the game and putting her arm around the VOLUNTEER.
SATAN: I’m so sorry … You lose! (pause) Bet you’re used to that.
MELCHIOR: Ooh! Ooh! Was it things that you can’t put in the microwave?
SATAN: As a consolation prize … we promise not to send you to Hell immediately … although we probably should. Go away now. Now, who wants to play me in a game of Yahtzee for their soul? (pause, looking at JOB, who starts to stand up now) Oops. Looks like we’ve got to get back to the play now…The easy listening music fades out, the stagehands recede, MELCHIOR lopes back offstage, and SATAN prepares to depart. The sound of wind begins to rise in the background.
SATAN: Thank you! That’s all our time for tonight! Thank you very much! Remember to smoke lots, listen to ‘Van Halen’ with Sammy Hagar, and don’t use your turn signals … and I’ll see you soon! Goodnight! You’ve been a very special audience.SATAN and her accoutrements disappear from the stage, revealing JOB, who has stood up by now, and is listening to the sound of the strongly blowing wind.
JOB: I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard; I cry aloud but there is no judgement.The wind grows louder.
JOB: Out of the south cometh the whirlwind; and cold out of the north.The wind grows increasingly loud, then softer before GOD speaks. JOB hides under the table.
GOD: Who is this that darkeneth counsel without knowledge?JOB looks up, frightened. The sound of wind blowing is scary now.
GOD: Gird up thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.JOB, first pointing at himself in a ‘Who, me?’ gesture, then trembling, emerges. GOD appears on the platform above, in full view of the audience for the first time.
GOD: Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Where wast thou when all the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Hast thou walked the sea in search of its depths?
Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?
Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?
Canst thou number the clouds in heaven?
Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom? ; Doth the eagle mount up at thy command?
Shall he that contendeth with the almighty instruct Him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.
JOB: What shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
GOD: Gird up thy loins like a man; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
Hath thou an arm like God? Or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him?
Did you build the mountains, stone by stone? Did you write the UNIX operating system?
JOB: That was you?
GOD: Oh, yeah. (beat) Anyway. Did you invent fire? The automatic transmission? The CD player with six-disc changer? Were you the last person in the American League to hit .400?
JOB: I thought that was Ted Williams.
GOD: (very intimidating now) Yeah, look, whatever. The point is…
JOB: (sheepishly) You’re kind of a celestial bad-ass.
GOD: Yes! Exactly! (pause) Although I wouldn’t use the word “ass.”
JOB: But what about me?
GOD: What about you?
JOB: Well, uh, um, I … it’s … um…
GOD: You’re kind of a terrestrial dumb-ass.
JOB: No, that wasn’t it….
GOD: No, I mean it. You’ve got the nerve to call me — and I’m missing ‘Melrose Place’ right now — and you get the Creator of the Universe one-on-one … and you can’t even think of what to say.
JOB: But…. look. Well … you know … I’ve always been a good guy, you know … and now I’m poor and my children are dead and my wife left me … and I have braces and I think one of my rubber bands just snapped…
JOB: Well … you know … I guess … I just … I … I … I…
GOD: You want me to cure your stutter. I can recommend a good speech therapist…
JOB: No! No! (finally gets it out) I have so many questions!
GOD: You get one.Long pause.
JOB: The question is … Why?Long pause.
JOB: Because why?
GOD: Because because.
JOB: (getting upset now) Why times three!
GOD: (very calm) Because times five.
JOB: Why times a million!
GOD: Because times a bajillion.
JOB: Why times infinity!
GOD: Because infinity … plus one.
JOB: (screaming) WHY DO YOU KEEP SAYING ‘BECAUSE’?!?Pause.
GOD: Because you don’t get answers from God!
A long, serious pause.
At very best, you get some hints … which usually lead to more questions. And humanity has gotten all the hints it’s going to get for quite some time.
I … am … everything. Everwhere. For all time. For all creation. And I don’t owe you a report card. I am the world. So you either accept this world or you don’t.Pause.
GOD: So which is it going to be?
JOB: (sinking to his knees) I know that thou canst do everything … and that no thought can be with-holden from thee … I have uttered that I understood not … things too great for me, which I knew not. … I have hear of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee….Anguished pause.
JOB: Wherefore I abhor myself … and repent in dust and ashes.Long pause.
GOD: (clearly uncomfortable with JOB’s misery) Whatever. (pause) Look … oh, get up … look … I gotta go. Stay out of trouble.GOD’s light begins to fade, and GOD steps out of sight. Then, just before the light dims….
GOD: And one more thing!
JOB: (suddenly hopeful for an answer to his question) Yes?
GOD: Drink more milk!
GOD’s light fades completely, leaving JOB alone. He crumples into a heap onstage. Then a voice is heard; out of the light but unmistakably GOD’s.
GOD: Aww … Goddamnit. (pause, angry now at SATAN and Himself for having let this go on so long) That’s enough of this! That’s it! It’s over.Sound of a thunderclap. A light dawns offstage and illuminates from behind WIFE, who walks back onstage, then tenderly puts her hand on JOB’s shoulder.
JOB: Who? … Go away.
WIFE: Job, it’s me.
JOB: Forget it. I don’t want to sue anybody. And I don’t want to switch to “MCI Friends & Family.”
WIFE: Job, it’s me!
JOB turns to see her for the first time, and realizes it’s her.
JOB: Oh. (goes toward her, then stops) Why … why are you back?
JOB: Not this again.
WIFE: Because … because I have hope. I may not have faith, but I have hope. (pause) And I love you.Long pause.
JOB: (just realizing) I … I can see you. And I can hear you. … I’m … cured.JOB is overjoyed, and he moves toward WIFE and holds her close for a minute.
JOB: Will you stay with me?
WIFE: I’ll never leave you again.
They kiss. Then, after a tender moment…
WIFE: When did you get braces?
Lights come up on the platforms of GOD and SATAN; then the lights on the stage go down, with JOB and WIFE holding each other.
GOD: So … that’s it.
SATAN: You were right.
GOD: (very smug) I always am.
SATAN: Except that time you bet me on the Super Bowl…
GOD: Look, one: that doesn’t count, and two: I think you possessed the referee.
SATAN: Okay, okay … so how does Job make out on all this?
GOD: Oh, the usual … his wife is back, and that’s the important thing. He’ll get his money back … I’ll make it a lottery ticket or something. He’ll get a new business, a new house … and this one will have hardwood floors and an attractive brick exterior.
SATAN: (genuinely impressed) Ooh.
GOD: He’ll get new kids, and they won’t be such slackers so they’ll get college scholarships and he can finally afford a Jet Ski.
SATAN: What about the braces?
GOD: Oops. (pause) Well, in six months, he’ll have a better smile.
SATAN: And the wicked?
GOD: Oh, the three comforters won’t get it too bad … they were trying to help, after all … (pause, thinks) Oh, well, you can have the lawyer.
SATAN: So everything ends the way it should.
GOD: Yes … (pause) you know, with all this stuff about second chances and whatnot… (long pause) do you remember our great falling out?Long pause again, painful almost.
GOD: And do you … do you still feel the same way?
SATAN: Yeah … I’m still a die-hard Macintosh user. That Windows 95 stuff you use is garbage. And, y’know, I have a much bigger office now than you ever gave me. (pause, then slightly sadly) I think it’s all for the best.
GOD: Yes … yes, I think so.
SATAN: You want to go out for a beer?
GOD: Hmm … perhaps. I think so.
SATAN: Come on.
GOD and SATAN walk towards each other on the overhead platform, and meet up by an exit.
SATAN: We’ve got a lot of old times to talk about.
GOD: Yes … I can order a non-alcoholic one where we’re going, can’t I?
SATAN: Sure. I’m still getting malt liquor. I know a place in ancient Mesopotamia…
GOD and SATAN walk out, side by side, still chatting, although the words cannot be heard. As they exit, the lights dim out. END.
Recommended curtain call music: “Sympathy for the Devil,” by the Rolling Stones.