Saturday, May 08, 2010

Guy on a Cross

Recently, my friend, Diane Poe, asked me to read a draft of Guy on a Cross. I found reading it to be powerful and riveting, and its impact lingered in my mind for some time after wards. Now I want to share it with you.

* * *

Guy on a Cross

We hear a hammer hitting wood.
Guy is hanging on a cross, his friends just finishing up the job. They pick up their tools, getting ready to leave.

Friend 1: You OK up there, Guy? You need anything. Water?

Guy: No. I’m fine. Thanks. This is great, guys, I owe you. See you later.

Friend 2: Right, then. Well, we’re off. Hey you guys, want to get a beer, or something?

All: Yeah, great, let’s go.

Guy: So long, guys. Thanks again!

They go. One friend hangs back.

Pete: Say, Guy, can I ask you a question?

Guy: Sure, Pete. What’s up?

Pete: I’m sorry, Guy. I know you’ve explained it already; but I still don’t get it. Could you go over it one more time? For the dummies?

Guy: OK, here goes. The abridged version: I’m a sinner, right? I’m scum. I’m no good. Trash. Jesus was perfect, the Holy Son of God. He died for me. The only way I can show my love and appreciation for Him is to go through the same thing He did. I want to be perfect like He was, so I have to do what he did. Punishing myself is the only way I can get rid of my guilt. Expiate. Justify. There. Have I made myself clear?

Pete: Well, that’s the same thing you’ve been saying for the past few days. I understand the words, but I still don’t get it.

Guy: You will one day.

Pete: I guess. How long are you gonna be up there?

Guy: I don’t know. I’ll know when the time is right, though.

Pete turns to leave. Another friend enters.

Friend 3: I forgot my hammer. There it is. Hey, Pete. You coming with us?

Pete: Hey, can I ask you a question? Come over here.

They move to where Guy can’t hear them.

Pete: Do you get this? I mean, we didn’t actually nail him there, did we? We were just pretending, weren’t we?

Friend: Sure. You know Guy. He loves his drama. He’s fine. He’ll hang up there until he decided it’s time to get off. It’s up to him. I, for one, don’t want to stand here and watch him. Let’s go.

They leave.

Guy wriggles around a bit to get comfortable. Finds a position that is what he thinks is more comfortable. Looks up.
Guy: Wow. This isn’t too bad. Why didn’t I think of this before? It’s almost morning. It’s going to be a beautiful day. This is great.


Sun coming up. A cap is on the ground below him. Guy has dozed off. His body slumped down, head to one side. He wakes up.

Guy: Wow. Must have dozed off. Hmm. Sun’s coming up. This is going to be great…..

There it is! Oh man this is unbelievable. …

Wow is it bright. (squints) Right in my eyes. (Tries to avoid the sun). Guess I should have thought this out a bit more. Maybe faced south east .. Oh, man. Should have asked for a cap or something.

Looks down. Sees the cap.

Guy: Hmmm. How did that get there??

A lot of good that does me, down there on the ground. (pause)

Looks like it’s going to be a hot one. Bet I get a hell of a burn. Just my luck. Those stupid guys should have put me under a tree where at least I could get a little shade.

((looks around)

There’s a tree right over there! Why can’t I be over there? Hey! There’s another guy under that tree. Damn it! Some guys have all the luck. What’s that? Why is there a chair under his cross? Does he get to sit in that chair? Why does HE get to sit in a chair??? Damn it! (listens) And he has music!? DAMN IT!”


It’s hot, and Guy is sweating and has a sunburn.

Guy: Oh, God, is it hot! (he squirms a bit) Ouch! Man! I look like a lobster! I can’t get comfortable with this sunburn.

(looks around)

Hey, Mr. Cross under a Tree is gone! That’s not fair! He could have at least left me his chair.

God, is it hot! A breeze would be nice. (a breeze kicks up. He lifts his head to catch it, then flinches) Damn! That wind is blowing sand in my eyes. It’s stinging my sunburn! DAMN! (turns head to avoid the breeze. It stops)

Now I’ve got sand in my eyes. Thanks a lot!! And in my mouth! I NEED A DRINK OF WATER!!!!!

The sky darkens, and it begins to rain. It’s gentle, almost caressing him, washing away the sand. He enjoys it. He opens his mouth, gets a mouthful and spits it out to rid it of the sand. Then he takes a long drink. He makes happy sounds

Hey, that was great. This isn’t so bad after all.


Mid afternoon. A chair and small table are at the foot of the cross. There is food and drink on the table. The cap hangs on the chair.
Guy wakes up from his nap.

Huh?? Oh. Must have been dreaming. (yawns) Afternoon nap (a little laugh) I guess it wasn’t too bad considering I’m hanging on a cross in the middle of the desert with no food or water in sight. Hey, what’s that down there? Did someone….? (looks around) Is that for me? (looks at it suspiciously) Looks OK. I AM hungry. Haven’t had a drink all day. Well, except for the rain, if you can count that. It was more of a storm, if you ask me, and it left me cold and wet, and now my muscles are cramping!

JESUS!! I hate this!!! I never get anything I want! All I ask for is a little food, a drink of water…..hmmm.(looks down at the table, considers getting down, but a stubborn look comes over his face. Looks away)

I wonder what time it is.



Guy: It’s almost dark. At least with the sun down it won’t be so hot. And it might rain again. I could use another drink.

I thought the guys might come by. Get some pictures at least. Guess they’re too busy having a good time. All they seem to think about is doing what makes them happy. What a bunch of losers. At least I’m doing something with my life. (straightens himself on the cross, sighs)

I wonder where that other Guy went. He just upped and left. How’d he do that? What do you do? Just get tired of hanging on this stupid cross and get off? I mean, he’s nailed there just like I am, isn’t he?

(looks at his hands. He‘s holding on to the cross) Where’d the nails go? I told those guys to NAIL ME TO THIS CROSS, DAMN IT!! CAN’T ANYBODY DO ANYTHING RIGHT AROUND HERE??? I could have fallen off!!

(He sneezes, and moves his hand to rub his nose. He looks at his hand now in front of his face, surprised. He looks at his other hand, still holding onto the cross, and slowly moves it. He looks at both hands. Then, wondering, he looks down at his feet. He’s standing on a platform. He picks up one foot, looks at it, and puts it down. Repeats with the other. He looks around to see if anyone is watching. He looks at the table to see if the food is still there. It is. Cautiously he climbs down. He picks up the water and takes a long drink. He notices a blanket on the chair and wraps it around himself. Then he sits down at the table. He pulls the food toward him and picks up a piece of bread. He tears it apart. He stops. Looks back at the cross. He’s not sure what to do. He looks at the bread. Looks around him.)

Guy: (quietly) Thank you. .

Begins to eat.

Guy is on the cross, humming a little tune. Is wearing his hat. The blanket is draped over the cross piece. The table and chair is set up below him, food and drink on a clean white tablecloth. A shade tree is nearby
Guy’s friends walk by, laughing and talking. They call and wave to him as they pass. One stops to talk.

Friend 4: Hey, Guy. We’re going to a movie. Want to come along? It’s a good one. Got two thumbs way up.

Guy: No thanks, guys. I’m going to be up here for another couple of hours.

Friend 5: You sure? You’ve been on that cross a lot lately. What’s going on, anyway?

Guy: Oh, nothing, really. It’s just something I have to do. Guilt, you know. Shame.

Friend 6: Oh, sure. I get it. (doesn’t) Well, hang in there. I mean, good luck!

Guy: Thanks.


Same guys come by from the other direction, laughing and talking about the movie. They stop to talk to Guy.

Friend 7: Hey, Guy, you missed a really great movie. It was right up your alley.

They all have comments about the movie.

Friend 8: We’re going to get a drink, Guy. Want to come along? You don’t have to stay there, do you?

Guy: Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. I need to stay here for a bit longer. You all go ahead. Have a good time.

Friend 9: Hey, Guy. I feel bad that you’re up there on that cross while we’re down here going to movies, laughing and having a good time. You sure you’re ok?
Guy: I’m fine. Don’t worry. This is something I have to do.

Friend 10: You mean, like, you think God told you to do this?

Guy: (as the others stop their conversation and listen) Yeah. Yeah. That’s it. God told me to do this.

Friend 10: OK, Guy. Well, we’ll see you later.

Guy: Later.


Guy is sitting at the foot of his cross, having a snack, maybe listening to an iPod. Suddenly he looks off as though he hears someone coming. He quickly hides his food and drink, puts away the iPod and gets back on the cross


Guy is on the cross. He is watching his friends playing cards below. They are comfortable with him and no longer think him out of the ordinary. They occasionally ask him if he wants to sit in on the next hand. Or they ask him if he wants a drink. He almost agrees, but then refuses

Guy: No, I’d better not.


Guy is on the cross. A group comes in from off right, excitedly talking.

Guy: Hey, what’s going on?

Voice: It’s Jesus! He’s coming!. Guy straightens up, getting ready for an audience with Jesus. He looks off left, expectantly.
Jesus comes in, talking to the crowd. Guy tries to catch his eye. He writhes and moans. Jesus is busy with the others. Finally Guy gets off his cross, picks it up and joins the crowd behind Jesus, still trying to get his attention. Unsuccessful, he tries to make his way in front of Jesus. Finally he throws himself and his cross on the ground in front of Jesus.

Jesus: (looking at Guy) Hey, Guy, you ought to let go of that thing.

Guy: What?

Jesus: You ought to let go of that thing!

Guy: What?


Guy: What? (It’s not that he doesn’t hear. The entire idea is incomprehensible to him. He really has no idea what Jesus is saying.)

Jesus: “LET GO OF IT!!”
Guy, still not understanding, picks up his cross and takes it back to its place. He gets back on it. Jesus and the crowd leave.


Guy is on the cross, feeling lonely. A group comes in, arguing about something. They decide to ask Guy for advice. He gives them an answer and they leave happily. Guy straightens up a bit and is proud of what he has done. More guys come in to ask questions. Soon they are sitting at his feet, listening, asking questions. They think he is very wise. They praise him. Some bring gifts to put at his feet.


Guy is talking to the crowd from his cross. A small group comes in and criticizes him, asking what he thinks he’s doing. Why is he on that cross? What is his teaching? Why aren’t these people working? Guy has no answer. “His” group defend him at first, then become confused and begin listening to the newcomers. As the newcomers leave, Guy’s crowd follows, listening intently. One comes back to pick up his offering and takes it with him. Guy is dumbfounded.



Guy is on his cross. Jesus comes in and looks at him. Guy looks at Jesus.

Guy: What?

Jesus laughs softly.

Guy: WHAT?

Jesus: That’s really not what I had in mind, you know.

Guy: What?


Guy is on the cross. Jesus stands far to the right, looking at him. Guy looks at Jesus. Jesus holds out his hand, inviting Guy to join him. Guy hesitates, shrinking back, clutching at the cross. Jesus smiles at him. Guy gets off the cross slowly and takes a few steps as Jesus watches. Guy slowly gets closer, reluctantly; he stops, looking back at the cross. He’s undecided. He looks longingly at his cross, then at Jesus. This goes on for a few moments, with Guy becoming increasingly upset. Slowly he first leans toward the cross, then takes a small step toward it. Still looking at Jesus, then, he backs up to the cross, feeling for it as he gets closer. He touches it, wraps his arms around it, clings to it, increasingly more and more upset. Weeping openly now, he totally embraces the cross, looking at Jesus, who is still smiling at him.

The Last Scene
A bunch of guys are sitting or lying around a low fire. It’s just coals, really, and it’s cold. They are quietly talking and laughing. Maybe they’re camping.

One bends over the fire to blow on it, hoping to stir up a flame. He puts in a few sticks.

Friend 1: Hey, the fire’s almost gone out. We need more wood. It’s going to get cold tonight.

Friend 2: We’ve already used all we brought with us, and we’ve already searched for more on the ground.

Friend 3: Any ideas, anybody?

Guy: (He‘s been sitting among the others and we don‘t realize who he is until he stands up)
Anybody got an axe?
Guy walks over to his cross, which is leaning against their equipment, and drags it out.

Guy: Somebody help me with this.

One hands Guy the axe while others help him take it apart and throw it into the fire.

We hear the sound of an axe hitting the wood, and see the fire grow larger as the others crowd around it appreciatively.

One starts to laugh, quietly. Others join in; the laughter grows. Finally everyone is laughing with joy. It grows quiet, then one cackles, and it starts again.