Only We Who Guard The Mystery Shall Be Unhappy
And because it's genius literature of the first rank, and not some magazine article, your eyes sometimes reblur all over again as you're reading the twisty words, and all of a sudden you don't agree with the Inquisitor, he's the devil again, talking talking, but suddenly something has happened and it's not the people you are used to thinking of as evil totalitarian people who are the evil totalitarian people who are the pals of the Inquisitor and, well, the devil! You think wait a minute, isn't this Grand Inquisitor starting to sound like (whispers) John Ashcroft, who just between us--(she shudders violently) Cuh-REEPy. You lose track of who is who, your compass is gone all screwy, you started out knowing for sure, and you end up adrift, and the more you think on it the more the clarity of the argument sort of melts like people in 900-degree Fahrenheit heat, and all you can see anymore is pain, pain and more pain, like it's not about ideas anymore, it's just about raw naked SUFFERING, and...
And I know, because, because I have suffered. I mean, he was right, the Grand Inquisitor was right, let's be honest. It's too hard, the choice between good and evil, it's too hard. Knowing it's yours. Yours to make. You know all those times you betrayed God, you drank and smoked and hated your folks or your kids and you make a stupid little nothing mistake like everyone else makes and gets away with but you don't, blammo! All the perfumes of Araby can't wash the blood from your poor little hand, who cares if everyone else makes this mistake, GOD DOESN'T CARE, you are BUSTED forever! Only, only a a a shitty person, pardon my French, only a really shitty, shitty person who isn't a real person but only seems to be but is actually an animal forgives themselves for...
The death of children.
But for those of us who aren't like that, we must be punished.
Just between us.
And Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky understood this, he wasn't snowy old high-toned Count Tolstoy, no, he's down there in the shit with you, froth on his lips and his thick tongue stiff, stiff and distended, dear Fyodor Mikhailovich, the smell of cigar smoke clinging to the coarse nubbly wool of his cheap black suit and his foul epileptic's breath, and sometimes, when, when I must suffer the touch of, of HIM. The Dread Spirit in his newest disguise. Sometimes when his hands are on me I say to my lonesome self, "Laura Welch, this is not The Dread Spirit who is touching you, it's just dear, dear Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky," and he puts his whiskery mouth close to my ear and he hisses, "Sinner!" He knows, he's the only one who knows what that word means! SINNER! I like children! I really, really do! 600,000? Jesus Christ. A year from now, in what pit of hell will I awake!? I was a Democrat when I was a girl! This is what great literature can do! He weeps as he rattles me. I never shall be chaste except he ravish me. And I am rattled till my screws come loose, I am rattled like, like...the way, when I am in a mood, I attack and scour a sooty pot.
(She demonstrates this: A wild, wild, savage assault with a steel-wool pad on a large grimy greasy skillet, one hand gripping the skillet like a vise, the other arm working like a steam piston; growling, tears.
The children stare.
Laura Bush slumps.
Children, could you make that sound again for me?
(They stand and comply. She listens.)
Great! Thank you children. You are beautiful. I should start to read. May I kiss them first?
(The angel considers the request.)
At the end of "The Grand Inquisitor" Christ kisses the Inquisitor on the lips. And the Inquisitor lets him go. Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky lets this pass without comment. We call this ambiguity. Is it a Judas kiss? Is it a kiss of approval? Forgiveness? Sexual lust? After we are done, perhaps you will tell me, in this wonderful bird music of yours.
(She gets up, goes to the children, kisses each child on the forehead, returns to the armchair, picks up her book. She looks down, opens it, then looks up.)
Thank you, children. The kiss glows in my heart. That's from The Brothers Karamazov.
"In His infinite mercy He came once more among men in that human shape in which He walked among men for three years fifteen centuries ago."
In fact, now that I think of it, it's something Ivan says about the Grand Inquisitor.
(She finds the page:) Here it is. "The kiss glowed in his heart. But the old man adhered to his ideas."
(She closes the book. She looks troubled. She smiles at the children. They smile at her.)
: The kiss glows in my heart.
I adhere to my ideas.
End of Scene.