COUNTRY WEALTH

Act II

Scene.--The living room of the Oxleys. It is late afternoon. It is a spacious, richly decorated room. There is an expensive couch, matching love seat, and wooden coffee table in the room. There are also several comfortable looking chairs. All the seats are directed towards a very large television set. Dr. Leonard Oxley and his wife are seated on the couch watching television. The couple is dressed extravagantly with clothes that are very expensive. Their son, Grant, enters the room and sits down on the love seat.

Dr. Oxley (agitated). Where have you been, boy? You better not get dirty in those clothes. They cost me a fortune.

Grant (softly). I’ve been out in the forest.

Mrs. Oxley. Do be careful, son. There could be wild animals out there. You never know what might be out there.

Dr. Oxley. So, what have you been doing? I don’t want any trouble around here. I had to move from my old neighborhood to get away from all the filth and I don’t want to move again. Although my pay at the university is great and the royalties from the history books I’ve written is substantial, our funds are not unlimited so we can’t continually move.

Grant. I have been talking to a couple of boys that live down the road.

Mrs. Oxley (smiling). That’s good Grant. I hope you can make friends here. We don’t have to worry about having our house vandalized or getting attacked anymore. It sure seems like a nice place, doesn’t it, Leonard?

Dr. Oxley. Not really. It is better than that cesspool we left behind but there are too many hillbillies out here. They can’t even add or subtract. It is so revolting that we have to be around such trash. How stupid were those boys you met, Grant?

Grant. Well, they were both pretty smart actually. Gustave was smarter than Bruno though.

Dr. Oxley (mockingly). Is that so? What makes them so smart? It wouldn’t look too good if you, the Professor’s son, was outdone by simple country folk. So, surely you jest.

[Grant mumbles incoherently.]

Dr. Oxley. Speak up! How many times do I have to tell you that I can’t hear you when you talk so low.

Mrs. Oxley (to Dr. Oxley). Don’t be so hard on our son. He is just a poor, fragile boy.

Dr. Oxley (to Mrs. Oxley). Come on, Crystal. You pamper the boy too much. He will be a man soon and needs to make his presence known. (To Grant.) Now, why are these lads so special?

Grant. They learn a lot. They know many things I don’t. They said they studied something called geometry but I have never heard of that.

Dr. Oxley. Son, you can’t be so gullible. Most of the adults around here haven’t ever learned geometry, let alone any kids. How old are these kids?

Grant. They are both 12 years old. Their parents school them and they learn more. I believe them. They didn’t sound like they were lying.

Dr. Oxley. Ha! Just as I expected. They don’t even go to school. How much do you think these boys can learn from parents who live around here? If the parents are stupid then there is no way for them to teach their children well. Why, with all the incest going around out here, those boys are probably retarded.

Mrs. Oxley (shocked). Leonard! How can you say such a thing? The people out here might not be as smart as we are but I don’t really think they all commit incest.

Dr. Oxley. They aren’t as intelligent and are more like wild animals. It makes perfect sense to me.

Grant. Dad, please stop. They are nice White people like us.

Dr. Oxley. What was that? White people? (A thought flashes across his mind and angers him.) That old hag that goes by the name of Smith mentioned some racists living around here. Don’t tell me those boys were racists! You are in deep trouble, boy!

Mrs. Oxley (shocked). Leonard! You must be joking. Our son would never associate with such people. Tell him, Grant. We are a respectable family and would never be around racists.

Grant (turning red). Well...

Mrs. Oxley (interrupts, and is outraged). My God! This cannot be!

Dr. Oxley (angry, to Mrs. Oxley). Keep your damn silly spook out of this! We have enough to think about without you dragging that superstitious bologna into this! (Turning to enraged stare towards Grant.) Now, for you. Answer my question and don’t even think about lying to me!

Grant (slightly sobbing). Well....yes, they were racist but..

Dr. Oxley (interrupts). What have I told you about the vile racists!? They are ruining this country for us Whites. They are always killing people and terrorizing decent, upstanding citizens. You are going to be punished but we need to talk. You are going to have to learn how to avoid such corrupting forces. First, stop sobbing like a little girl!

Grant (slows his sobbing but tears still flow down his face). Y, yes, father.

Mrs. Oxley. Corruption! Yes, that’s it! Listen to your father before they corrupt you further and you try to kill your own, loving parents.

[Grant tries to speak but Dr. Oxley silences him.]

Dr. Oxley (to Grant.). What do you think your punishment for such a vile act should be?

Grant. I don’t think I should be punished at all. They were nice.

Dr. Oxley (furiously). Such impertinence! Do not disrespect your father! Of course, they appear nice. They want you to trust them and then betray you. You are my son and should be smart. How can you not realize how they deceive you!?

Grant. I’m sorry, father. They seemed really nice though. I would be smarter if they taught us more at school.

Dr. Oxley. I have some learning for you then. I know how ineffective those public schools are but that isn’t what we are discussing right now. You certainly need to be enlightened about this matter so tell me about your conversation with these boys. Your punishment hangs in the balance so choose your words carefully.

Grant (thinking before he speaks). Well, we talked about a lot of things really. I got really scared when I found out they were racist.

Dr. Oxley. See? You know that such villainy is wrong. Do proceed with your grimy tale.

Grant. I thought they were going to hurt me but they didn’t turn out like those bad guys on TV. They were nice and helped me up when I fell.

Dr. Oxley. Fell? What did they do to you!?

Grant. Oh no father! It wasn’t like that. They scared me when they admitted to being racist. I fell down and they were kind to me. They weren’t like those people at school who kicked me.

Dr. Oxley. It’s good that we are away from those damn little devils! They destroyed our property and hurt my boy. But what good is it if we go from one filth to another!

Grant. The people who did all that bad stuff before were black and these boys were White.

Dr. Oxley. You just can’t say that nowadays! We have to destroy racism today. It was a disease of the past and is on its way out! We can’t succumb to such ideas or we will end up in the gutter.

Grant. Isn’t it true though, dad?

Dr. Oxley. Even if it were true, we have oppressed the blacks for many years. They have a right to happiness after such horrible persecution. Do you understand that, boy?

Grant. I don’t understand, father. I accepted what everyone said before but these friends I met have made me think about things.

Dr. Oxley. Friends!? You must be joking. That is absurd. My son will not be known as a racist! Do you understand me!?

Grant (bashfully). Yes, father but shouldn’t we question things?

Dr. Oxley. Of course we should! There are many scams going on in this dreaded planet. How else are you supposed to learn of them without questioning? For instance, the whole Christian myth is purely a scam to rob people of their money. The pope hoards billions of dollars while millions of Christians are poor. What a scam! Are these boys some moronic cult of fanatical Christians?

[Mrs. Oxley storms out of the room.]

Grant. No, I don’t think so. I don’t think they believe in god at all. They mentioned believing in science.

Dr. Oxley. Science, eh? Such country bumpkins are surely lying to you. It is surprising they even know the word. They seem quite tricky though, so you must be careful around such people. They are surely hiding things from you. I suppose these dolts will even say that Whites are superior too, right?

Grant. Yes, they did. They mentioned some people that were racists in the past too.

Dr. Oxley. Oh, like who? Perhaps Hitler, Ha! He certainly was and look what he did to his country!

Grant. No, people like Ben Franklin and George Washington.

Dr. Oxley. What nonsense! Those two great men are early builders of the United States. They weren’t racist at all. Can you see how they deceive you?

Grant. I suppose so. They didn’t want me take their word for it though.

Dr. Oxley. Then what did they want you to do? Take a time machine and go ask them? Ha!

Grant. I think they meant to read books about it.

Dr. Oxley. I have a library! I have many history books as you should know. Read one; read them all! You certainly need some learning of the world around us. I don’t want my boy getting scammed and perverted by such asinine ideas. What are they teaching you at school anyway?

Grant. Not much really. All the blacks can’t understand so I get bored. I was hoping to learn with the boys I met.

Dr. Oxley. Absolutely not! Aren’t you listening to me? I am not going to let you get poisoned by their teachings. This new school should teach you more than the old school.

Grant. Why is that?

Dr. Oxley. It is a better area even though it isn’t better by much.

Grant. Do you mean it is because there aren’t any blacks here?

Dr. Oxley (squirms). Boy! You can’t say things like that! Do you want me to lose my job? Is that what you want? We would all be bums, bums!

Grant. Why is that though? Couldn’t this whole deal be another scam like you are always saying?

Dr. Oxley (calms down and thinks for a moment before responding). As a scholar, I must say that it is possible, but highly unlikely. I would need a lot of hard evidence to believe that racists were somehow not the scum that they appear to be. It would have to make perfect sense and I don’t see you with any proof so we have no need to talk of such outrageous claims!

Grant (softly). Don’t you want to know the truth though?

Dr. Oxley. Where might I find this truth!? I have stacks of books in the library and I haven’t gleamed anything of the sort that these people mention. Don’t you know how intelligent your father is? If something was there, then I would have seen it!

Grant. You are very smart, dad. I think the boys I met would have the evidence you want. They mentioned some books to me.

Dr. Oxley. Is that so? Let me hear of these great books.

Grant. I think they were called Nature’s Eternal Religion and the White Man’s Bible.

Dr. Oxley. Stay there, boy. I will look into this matter. (Goes into his study to work on his computer.)

[Mrs. Oxley enters the living room and sits lovingly beside Grant.]

Mrs. Oxley. My precious son! Do not despair. Your father means well but he can be a hard man. We both love you very much but we have to put this matter behind us. My poor boy can’t be subjected to such racist teachings. We are all God’s children.

Grant. Mom, I don’t believe in God either. I just want to do what is right. Dad says I should learn and to believe in things that make sense so I want to know what is really going on.

Mrs. Oxley. This isn’t like you at all! We just want to live in peace out here and have a new beginning. What have those satanic children been telling you to make you like this!? Oh heavens, you could be sacrificed to their evil devil!

Grant (as he speaks, Dr. Oxley returns). Mom, you are being ridiculous! They don’t believe in any gods. I am not going to be sacrificed!

Dr. Oxley. Now, that is my boy! (To Mrs. Oxley.) You mustn’t treat our son so fragilely! Do you wish him to become a raging homosexual?

Mrs. Oxley. Certainly not, Leonard! He has been hurt so much though and he needs his mother. I simply can’t have him harmed.

Dr. Oxley. With such a pampering attitude, he will never be tough enough to do anything! I want to see some fire in my boy! He is very wrong in this case but he is showing some progress. (To Grant.) Now, about those books you mentioned. I looked them up on the database on the university’s library but they weren’t even there. So, I looked over the internet and found them. They have been declared hate books and are hard to come by.

Grant (looking gloomy). Well, I guess that’s it then.

Dr. Oxley (angrily). Oh come on! Where did that spirit go? I don’t want to have a miserable wretch for a son! Don’t give up so easily. Guess who declared the books hateful?

Grant. I don’t know. Who?

Dr. Oxley. The Jews! It seems obvious that since racists don’t like Jews, that the Jews would label their books as hateful. I’ve seen some pretty sneaky Jews at the university and it makes me wonder. Everyone is trying to rip someone else off so I wonder if the Jews are as well. Did these boys ask you for your money like those thugs at your old school?

Grant. No, not at all. They did mention the Jews controlling the media though.

Dr. Oxley. Bah! There aren’t that many Jews around to have the power to control our media. Besides, like they would even to stick together. They are so spread across the world that they couldn’t possibly affect much. They have been so persecuted throughout history that it is amazing that they are even alive today. I’m sure they are running their own little racket like most people do, but nothing major like controlling our entire media.

Mrs. Oxley (distraught). Leonard! How can you say that? That is a racist comment. What is happening to my family?

Dr. Oxley. What? What are you talking about, woman? You are quite hysterical. I mean that everyone is out backstabbing one another. This whole world is a giant toilet and I don’t need your incessant ravings!

Mrs. Oxley. Oh, I understand now. This world is pretty gloomy especially when my precious boy is subjected to racist ideas. (To Dr. Oxley.) When will we have happiness, dear? We have suffered for so long.

Dr. Oxley. Happiness in this world? Ha! I don’t see that for us anytime soon, if ever. Life goes on though. (To Grant.) Do you have anything else to say before I sentence you?

Grant (looking downtrodden but with a faint fire in his eyes). I’m not sure what to believe. I need to learn more before I can decide what to believe.

Dr. Oxley (bellowing). There will be no more racist discussion in this house unless I say so! Do you understand me!?

Grant. Yes, father.

Dr. Oxley (calms down). Good. You have shown a little spirit today, which is good, but these racist ideas are not healthy. We have no evidence to the contrary as of yet. I may look into the matter myself but you are not to. Now, you are hereby barred from watching any television and playing video games for a week. (Grant attempts to speak but is quickly silenced by the angry stare of Dr. Oxley.) Go to your room.

Grant. Yes, father. (Exits the living room and enters his room where he shuts the door.)

Mrs. Oxley. Don’t you think you were too hard on him? He is only a little boy.

Dr. Oxley. No, actually I thought I was very lenient on the boy. (Smiles.) Did you see the faint glow in his eye, darling? He may not be as pathetic as I thought he was. His learning is behind though. This school better educate him better. I have my doubts though with all the farmers out here.

Mrs. Oxley. Do you think you could help him? He could benefit from you teaching him.

Dr. Oxley. When might I do that? Hmm? I labor away at the university during the week trying to teach the dolts about history and have only the weekends to enjoy. Would you have me give up my weekends?

Mrs. Oxley. It would help our son. Maybe a couple hours on the weekend. What do you think?

Dr. Oxley. I would rather not but the boy is rather dull. He could certainly use some knowledge to fill up that empty head of his. I will talk to him later about it. He needs some time to think over all that we’ve talked about. It will take him some time with that slow brain of his.

Mrs. Oxley. He isn’t going to do well if you constantly tell him that he is worthless.

Dr. Oxley (enraged). He is supposed to prove me wrong! Do you think I want a pitiful son? Of course not! I’m toughening him up. Speaking of worthless, though, we agreed long ago not to poison his mind with your Christian nonsense so I don’t want to hear it mentioned again!

Mrs. Oxley. Ok, dear. I am sorry. Did you hear something outside?

[The door bell chimes and Grant comes out of his room.]

Dr. Oxley (to Grant). Go back in your room, boy! (Grant goes back in his room). I will take care of this.

[Dr. Oxley goes to the door where he finds the jovial twins, Bruno and Gustave.]

Dr. Oxley (to the boys). Yes, what it is?

Bruno. Hello, sir. We are your neighbors down the road and our parents wanted to welcome you to the area and invite you over tomorrow night. Here is a note our mother wrote. (Hands him a note.) Will you be able to make it?

Dr. Oxley. We shall see but don’t get your hopes up. I’m not a peasant like the rest of the people around here. Where do you live anyway?

Bruno. Just down the road. The address is 570 Country Road. The information is on the note. Drop by if you can. We would like to see you and your family.

Mrs. Oxley (crossing the room to the door). Aren’t you charming little boys! (To Dr. Oxley.) Oh, we must go, Leonard. Especially after such a horrible day. Maybe we really can find some happiness here.

Bruno. What should I tell my parents, sir?

Dr. Oxley. Tell them we might be there. No guarantees.

Bruno. Ok. Have a nice evening!

Gustave. Take care!

[The boys leave and the Oxleys return to sit on the couch.]

Mrs. Oxley (happily). They were adorable little boys! They were so happy and full of confidence. I really think that Grant would benefit from being around such children. Their parents are probably like them as well. Oh, wasn’t it grand?

Dr. Oxley. So, they weren’t quite as repugnant as the typical commoner. So what? Don’t you think they seemed a little too happy? How can you be so happy when the world is so full of garbage?

Mrs. Oxley. That’s true but I would rather be happy than sad. What does it say in that note anyway?

Dr. Oxley (opens the note and reads). "Dear friends: We in the Stahl family warmly welcome you to our area. It is a pleasure to have a new family in the neighborhood. We would be most thankful and appreciative if you could come by for a visit tomorrow around 8 PM. We look forward to meeting you. Yours truly, Monique Stahl. 570 Country Road."

Mrs. Oxley. What a wonderful letter! We absolutely must visit these kind people after such a warm invitation! Don’t you think so, Leonard?

Dr. Oxley. It looks like this might be the best this area has to offer so I am inclined to accept their invitation. The woman who wrote this even managed to spell everything correctly. It is certainly a notch above the norm in this area. Of course, everyone should be able to spell correctly though.

Mrs. Oxley. This is wonderful! Those boys who were just here would certainly make better friends for our son than those nasty boys he met. Don’t you think so?

Dr. Oxley. Perhaps, but who can say? Who knows what dark secrets those seemingly blissful rugrats hold? It could all be a facade in the hopes of destroying us.

Mrs. Oxley. Oh, Leonard! They are just little kids. I don’t think they are up to any evil.

Dr. Oxley. You aren’t a historian. You haven’t seen all the misery, deception, and betrayal in the world throughout the ages. Most of the time people are out for themselves and up to no good.

Mrs. Oxley. But you have to admit they seemed like charming little children, right?

Dr. Oxley. They didn’t look like there were out to kill us but looks can be deceiving.

Mrs. Oxley. It’s ok for Grant to go, right? I think this will be good for him even though he has been rather naughty today.

Dr. Oxley. We might as well take him along. These kids we met look more acceptable than those vile scum where we used to live. By the way, did you catch the names of those two boys?

Mrs. Oxley (thinking for a moment). No, I don’t think they mentioned their names. We can find that out later. Oh, what should I wear, darling? We haven’t been here a week and already we have been invited somewhere.

Dr. Oxley. Who would want to be invited anywhere from the collection of refuse that used to surround us. My old neighborhood was much better than it is today.

Mrs. Oxley. Yes, I know, honey. You’ve mentioned it many times. All I know is it was a very bad place to live when we left. What do you think I should wear though?

Dr. Oxley. Just like a woman! Ha! Fretting over what to wear all the time as you do. By the simple dress of those boys, I’d say anything you wear would make you look like royalty in the presence of them.

Mrs. Oxley. I hadn’t thought of that. I suppose I can just dress casually.

Dr. Oxley. That is a fault that you share with virtually the whole world! People simply don’t think enough. So many errors could be avoided if people simply stopped to think! But, no! They bumble along from one bad decision to the next like village idiots!

Mrs. Oxley. Thinking is difficult for many people. It is easier to just do something without thinking about it.

Dr. Oxley. Ha! That was entertaining my dear Crystal! Isn’t it ironic that you thought about not thinking! Ha! Perhaps there is hope for you!

Mrs. Oxley. Do you really think so, Leonard?

Dr. Oxley. No, of course not. It was a joke! Ha!

Mrs. Oxley (shrugging it off). Oh, Leonard. When are you going to tell Grant the good news?

Dr. Oxley. I’ll do it now. (Bellows loudly.) Grant! Get out here, right now! We have to talk!

[Grant comes out of his room and into the living room. He seats himself.]

Grant. Yes, father?

Dr. Oxley. We had visitors a little bit ago, as I am sure you are aware. A couple of deceptive youths were here and invited us over to their house tomorrow. Do you think you can behave yourself and come along?

Grant. I believe so.

Mrs. Oxley. Don’t let your father fool you. These children will make great friends for you. They were happy and confident and I’m sure you will like them. They were so unlike most children these days. I can’t recall seeing more polite children then they were.

Dr. Oxley. Don’t listen to her whatsoever. I know those rascals are hiding something. I’m not sure what yet but I’ll find out. I am a Doctor, after all! I am (rises to his feet and spreads his arms out majestically) DR. OXLEY!

Mrs. Oxley (to Dr. Oxley). Leonard! Please sit down dear. (Dr. Oxley sits down.) We don’t need our boy having a heart attack, now do we? You will terrify the boy with such theatrics.

Dr. Oxley (to Mrs. Oxley). There you go again. You make it sound like our boy is a little infant who needs to be constantly suckled. I’ll make our boy strong!

Mrs. Oxley. As long as my boy doesn’t get hurt, I am happy. (To Grant.) Are you excited about meeting these twins?

Grant. Twins? Boys?

Mrs. Oxley. Yes, they are boys. I don’t recall their names though. You will just have to find out when we get there.

Grant. Were those boys rather tanned with blond hair?

Mrs. Oxley. Why yes, they were. How did you know that?

Grant. I know them.

Dr. Oxley (rises excitedly and talks quickly). Ha! I knew something was amiss. Didn’t I say so? The Doctor has much wisdom, I do! Now, I can study these vermin up close! What a splendid opportunity!

Mrs. Oxley (rather befuddled, speaks to Dr. Oxley). Wha, what are you talking about dear? I don’t understand...

Dr. Oxley. For some reason, that doesn’t surprise me, woman! Ha! Don’t you see what lies before your face? How could our son have known those boys that came here unless..

Mrs. Oxley (anxiously). Unless what?

Dr. Oxley. No wonder our boy is such a dolt! It certainly wasn’t my genes! The twin boys that were here and the racist boys our son met earlier are one and the same. What a coincidence. Ha!

Mrs. Oxley (dazed). No, this can’t be. Those sweet little boys couldn’t possibly be racist. It simply isn’t possible.

Dr. Oxley. It is possible and, furthermore, it is so! (To Grant.)Tell your mother what you know, boy!

Grant. The boys are named Bruno and Gustave. They are twins. I met them earlier today and they are racist.

Mrs. Oxley (unsure). It was never mentioned that they were twins before. There must be some kind of mistake, a trick. This is all a joke, right Leonard?

Dr. Oxley. It sure is funny but it isn’t a joke! I can study these people first hand and see how they behave. Of course, no one must talk of this to anyone! Like one who has a fascination with death, I now have a burning desire to learn of these foul people!

Mrs. Oxley (starting to cry). This is horrible! How could those seemingly innocent children be so cursed? We simply can’t go to there house now, Leonard!

Dr. Oxley. Yes, we must! Grant cannot come but my wife must be at my side!

Mrs. Oxley. Please Leonard, no! What has come over you? If people find out that we went to their house, then we would lose everything. Please, reconsider!

Dr. Oxley (To Mrs. Oxley). My wife will be at my side and this discussion is over! There will be no debate with you! (Dr. Oxley slams his fist down on the coffee table to accentuate his point.)

[Mrs. Oxley runs into her room, crying profusely.]

Grant. What about me, father? Can’t I come too?

Dr. Oxley (calms down and seats himself). So, you still have an interest in this matter? I suppose it is to be expected. Children are always poking their little heads into improper places, like ovens. Ha!

Grant. Well, mom has to go but I have to stay here?

Dr. Oxley. Wow, my boy! I thought you were stupid but not now! Ha! You have it correct. A young mind like yours is very malleable and can be easily influenced by outside sources. In but a few hours, you have brought home a dread influence. Only those that can observe and study these matters without falling in, should undertake such ventures. I, of course, am such a man but you are not.

Grant. You will be there with me, though. Don’t you think it is good for me to learn?

Dr. Oxley. Indeed, learn you shall! I will investigate the matter myself and I will allow you to hear of it. If I were to allow you to accompany us then who knows what trouble those boys would coerce you into doing. They totally fooled your mother, but not I! Not I!

Grant. Shouldn’t I experience things for myself though? It could be a learning experience for me.

Dr. Oxley. You are using the same argument and I tire of it. My decision is final. Now go to your room.

Grant. But, father!

Dr. Oxley (rises angrily). The debate is over! Now go to your room!

[Grant goes to his room amid tears.]

Dr. Oxley (bombastically). What a day! With a morbid curiosity, I must find out about these racist creatures! The knowledge will soon be mine! I am DR. OXLEY! HA!

Act III