Althea Conroy, a botanist, and Dr. Luiz Gutierrez, a physician in Cuernavaca, take a drug made from an ancient Aztec plant, hidden for 500 years, that allows a form of mind reading through shared dreams….
Luiz: Aztecs believed there was nothing in the end, but they didn’t fear death.
Althea: I’m sorry. My mind, I got tangled up. Aztec artifacts. Museum cases. Saints’ relics in shrines. All jumping around. Then I thought, it’s almost Halloween.
Luiz: Trick or treat.
They both get the giggles. Althea turns on the tape recorder.
Althea: [Reads time off watch.] Well, shit. I think it’s taking effect. (She laughs.) Kind of blurring. Haziness. Perceptual distortion around the edge of the vision. Like four martinis at once. But not drunk. No. A loosening. Feel it in the spine, the bones spreading out. The eyes closed….
Luiz: Eyes closed.
Althea: Fogginess, coming and going. Comfortable. Warm down in the belly. Like waiting on your lover.
Luiz: Still there?
Althea: I think. Thousand memories. Warm bath. Rubbed down with a soft towel. Hugged close. Wrapped in a big coat. Head against cool car window. City lights. Passing. Rotating like a lighted wheel.
Althea: Stars stationary, but you’re turning. Lying on your back. Rowboat. Drifting. Night above, you in motion. Marvelous. Marvelous.
Althea sets the tape recorder down.
Luiz: Almost there.
Luiz: Almost down. I’ll be there. Remember.
Althea: Remember what?
Luiz: Reach out. You’ll find me.
Althea: Can’t even find myself. All the days, so sure of tomorrow. Head on the pillow. Stars father painted on the ceiling. One. By one. Wink. Out. Pray the Lord. Keep my soul, Lord. You can have it. I’ll sleep. Shut up. Why are you talking? Althea? Are you talking?
Lights are out now. Sound of water droplets, falling one by one, onto water.
Althea: Do you hear…?
Althea: Just to the left…. Left? No left. No right. No down or up. Reach out. Feel for…. Nothing. I can’t feel…can’t even feel my hands. Oh God! Can’t feel my hands! Can’t feel my body! I’m here, but my body’s…. Oh, Jesus, the wind of knives! It’s killed me, and I’ve died! Oh Jesus, oh Jesus, or I’m paralyzed and—can’t breathe! There no me to breathe here!
Sound of dripping water.
Althea: The sound. Focus on the sound. Feel it. The drug. It’s the drug. Not a dream. Concentrate, concentrate…fuck! Jumble! Can’t get an image to hold onto, hold on, hold on—
Creaking, turning, immense and loud, like a great wheel turning, followed by howling winds. Althea vocalizes pure terror. Suddenly: silence.
Althea: Not the courtyard. Don’t know where I am, but not where I was before. Can’t even tell—
Althea voice switches to recorded voice-over.
Althea (VO): –where my voice is coming from. Familiar, familiar, where your mind resides. Your thoughts. Your voice.
Soft, organic sounds begin, recorded or live. Rustling, scraping, ringing, dripping. Forming shifting rhythmic patterns. Soft turquoise light on Althea, standing alone on stage. She looks down at herself. Raises her hands.
Althea (VO): The body moves. I don’t. Memories. Can’t tell then from now. All the same time. Child’s body. Breasts budding to life. Sun etching lines around closed eyes. Hair gray, falling out. Gravity’s weight on skin, ligament. Body melting. Spreading. Evaporate.
Light fades out. Sound of footsteps.
Althea: (VO) Footsteps? Another? Not alone. Thank you, God. But where? No direction. Footsteps without source. Luiz? Is that Luiz?
Thunderclap. Flash of lighting illuminates XOCHI, with machete, wearing skull mask.
Althea: (VO) (Anguished) Who the hell’s here? Trust! Trust, trust, trust, trust….
Turquoise light, as though coaxed, slowly pools on Althea. Luiz gradually enters the edge of the light, his hand outstretched, moving in a circle around her. Sound of wind.
Althea (VO): Luiz? Is that you? I’m all alone here. Help me. There’s something else here. Something moving around. Dear God—
Luiz catches her hand and the light shifts, sparkling effects and golden highlights. As their voices play, Luiz and Althea, hands gripped, move in a circle that grows tighter and faster until it ends in an embrace.
Luiz (VO): Althea?
Althea (VO): You’re here?
Luiz (VO): Move toward me.
Althea (VO): Where are you? There’s no way to move.
Luiz (VO): Feel toward me.
Althea (VO): No, I…. Yes. It’s not motion.
Luiz (VO): Don’t think. Feel.
Althea (VO): Frightened.
Luiz (VO): Illusion.
Althea (VO): Moving. Yes!
Luiz (VO): I feel you.
Althea (VO): Luiz!
Althea (VO): What’s happening? Where are we? What is this?
Luiz (VO): No questions. Answers come when you listen.
Wind rises to a howl as lights fade. Abrupt silence. Sound of twisting gourd. Lights rise on Althea and Luiz opposite each other. They hold masks in front of their faces, masks fashioned to look like their own faces. During voice-over dialog exchange, they extend the masks toward each other, as though their masks are their faces. With their actual faces, they mirror the emotions they feel. The masks near, then are fluidly exchanged and drawn back, so that by the end of the sequence, Althea’s mask covers Luiz’s face and Luiz’s mask covers Althea’s.
Luiz (VO): Standing on the shore. Desert lake. Smooth water. Laughter echoes from the other shore.
Althea (VO): Cupping my hand ‘round a silver bowl. Snowflakes light on the rim. Melt, flow to the bottom.
Luiz (VO): Buoy dipping in waves.
Althea (VO): Collecting in silvered bowl.
Luiz (VO): Geese reflected on silvered surface.
Althea (VO): Mirror of the sky.
Luiz (VO): Geese a-wing ‘cross bottom of the bowl.
Althea (VO): Though the stars beyond.
Luiz (VO): Snow falling silently from desert night.
Althea (VO): Laughter silver as wings rise to the stars.
Light fades out. Sound of gourd is drowned out by sound of wind that grows and grows to an immense volume, a high, ringing sound, like a wet finger run along the top of a crystal goblet but amplified many times. Suddenly the sound of glass shattering followed by the echoing peal of a man’s and woman’s laughter. The laughter echoes as it fades.
Althea (V.O.): Who is listening right now? What ears hear? At this at just this very instant?
Lights rise. No one on stage. Lights fade. Distorted sounds twist, echo, pan, in and out of the soundscape. Light rises. RAPHAEL faces away from audience. He is dressed in traditional Mexican revolutionary costume. Slowly, he turns his head to look at the audience. His eyes are closed. His eyelids and eye sockets have been blackened with makeup. He abruptly opens his eyes. Blackout.
Electronic sounds continue, changing modulation. Another light rises. ISABELLA in upper-class Mexican 19th century dress and broad “Senora Catrina” hat, stands facing away from audience. She slowly turns, Covering her face with a fan. Fluttering the fan, she slowly lowers it. Her eyes are closed and painted like RAPHAEL’s. Abruptly, she cocks her head and bares her teeth. Blackout.
Electronic sounds bassy and ominous. Another light rises. ZACHARY, bottle in hand, staggering. He wears black tie, though no socks, and sunglasses. Unsteadily, he sets the bottle down and begins, with difficulty, to remove his tie, his jacket. Sounds rise in volume, cresting as ZACHARY unbuttons his shirt and reveals a bloody, cross-shape on his chest. Blackout.
Electronic sounds fade out. Thunder. Flash of lightning briefly revealing ANGELINA on stage. Thunder. Bizarre, rippling lights rise on ANGELINA. Thunder rumbles throughout. ANGELINA is dressed in her typical costume. She wears an ANGELINA mask. Smoothly, she removes her clothes. Underneath, she wears a bodysuit patterned with foliage (or her body has been painted as foliage). Finally, ANGELINA removes her mask. Lightning flickers. Her entire face is painted black, eyes closed. A void.
A long roll of thunder starts low and builds to a tremendous thunderclap. Blackout. Thunder rumbles into the distance and is gone.
End of ACT II