5X5: Denier

DENIER
by Brett Steven Abelman
for Theater J Either Or 5×5

(A labyrinthine space, or a labyrinthine pattern projected on the wall. A GRANDCHILD, dressed for sitting shiva.)

GRANDCHILD
I kept thinking, get a tape recorder. But, no… What was I, scared? Embarrassed? Maybe it was too close to admitting the whole “dying” thing…
  (pause)
Maybe I thought I knew everything already. Figured I could just read Night again. Watch Schindler’s List.
  (pause)
At least I was brave enough to disobey the nurses and sneak Grams in one last Rueben from Decker’s. A coward would’ve said, “We gotta keep you on the prescribed diet so you can get healthy!” At least that was something, right? Right?
  (pause)
Yeah. Keep telling yourself that…

(Exit GRANDCHILD. Enter a RABBINICAL STUDENT.)

STUDENT
It’s always been my experience that the less people want you to believe something, the more likely it is true. People get protective of their sacred little lies. Like dragons guarding their treasure: The medieval Church and the flat earth. Communist governments and their corrupt policies. My parents and their constant anti-Semitism.
  (pause)
So because they were so anti-Semitic, I converted to Judaism. ….I thought, a religion that appreciates getting good and drunk is the one for me. Just kidding. Though there is something to be said for trusting your Chosen People enough to handle alcohol responsibly.
  (pause)
I believe taking things lightly is a serious business. You must keep your soul open or you will become trapped in your own stubborn belief. So after I converted and got into a Conservative rabbinical school, I asked questions. I was encouraged to do so… except in one thing. I asked, and was immediately silenced. …I was opposed so harshly the only reasonable thing I could do was become a Holocaust denier.

(A bench. Enter a GOY, who sits. The Goy reads a newspaper. The STUDENT and GRANDCHILD sit beside.)

GOY
Man. Oh man. That crazy ffff… See that?
  (showing the paper to the other two)
What’s-his-name said some shit. Celebrities think they can get away with anything. I swear people are insane. Holocaust denial? Oh, but they call it “revisionism.”

(The Grandchild and Student perk up.)

GRANDCHILD
What? Oh, those people.

GOY
People should be dragged out and shot.

GRANDCHILD
…That would be missing the lesson of the Holocaust…

GOY
Come on, rid the gene pool a these racist sons-of-.

STUDENT
So now it’s a crime to deny the Holocaust?

GOY
In Germany, yeah.

GRANDCHILD
And who would know better than the Germans, huh?

GOY
Right.

STUDENT
I would think the Jews would know better. Yet strangely, there are a small number of learned Jews who deny.

GOY
Aw, seriously? Yeah, it says right here- Seriously? That’s sick. That’s like self-racism or something.

STUDENT
I take offense to that.

GRANDCHILD
Take offense-? Wait- What, do you deny it too?

STUDENT
Yes. You going to take me out and shoot me?

GOY
You’re one of those anti-Semitic-

STUDENT
Hey! I defy anti-Semitism. I’m a rabbinical student.

GOY
You look Muslim to me.

STUDENT
I was. Until I discovered knish.

GRANDCHILD
Why?

STUDENT
Why knish? Kidding. I converted to defy anti-Semitism.

GRANDCHILD
No, why do you deny it? After converting?!

GOY
Trying to spread lies from the inside?

STUDENT
See, you dismiss it as a lie before I even- Like all the bearded old Simon Wiesenthalites threatening to strip me of my tzitzit for asking questions. Makes a reasonable person wonder. You would question, too, if I told you all the evidence I-

GOY
Evidence? Hell, you’d just make shit up.

STUDENT
There is much information about the war years. Some of it contradicts. History is deep. What do you believe?

GOY
You’re nuts. So what if you can “find shit?” I can make shit up and you can find it.

STUDENT
I only seek the truth.

GOY
Oh sure, you’re all, “Oh, I’m looking for the truth,” but it’s like we’re in some big maze in a cornfield, trying to lead everyone through to the exit, and you just keep going “Look, here’s a dead end! We can’t get out! The exit is a lie,” but we’re not stupid, just cause you can find dead ends doesn’t change that if you’d look from way up high you’d see there’s like six million ways to get through.

STUDENT
…If you’re such a believer, why don’t you convert, goy?

GOY
You know what? Screw you. I ain’t gotta listen to this.

(The goy exits.)

GRANDCHILD
…It happens my Grams was liberated from Buchenwald.

STUDENT
Oh. I see. ”Grams” is incapable of lying or forgetting?

GRANDCHILD
…How dare- I can assure you my Grams lived through it!

STUDENT
Were you there to see it?

GRANDCHILD
So basically, he and every other survivor was a liar.

STUDENT
Not liars, per se. I don’t deny there were murders. But there were also exaggerations, propaganda, contradictions…

GRANDCHILD
Have you ever read We Are Witnesses?

STUDENT
Yes. Ever read Rassinier? Even witnesses make mistakes.

GRANDCHILD
Well, hell, if you just want to dismiss any evidence contrary to your position.

STUDENT
Funny, I’d accuse my ravs of the same thing.

GRANDCHILD
When you and your loved ones have gone through it, you don’t much care for quibbles from a child.

STUDENT
My arguments are not quibbles. And I’m all growed up.

GRANDCHILD
This disaster was so huge no one can see the whole thing.

STUDENT
I’d expect for the details to be clearer. What exactly did your “Grams” tell you?

GRANDCHILD
…Don’t blame Grams for being reticent.

STUDENT
I’m sure you didn’t want to pry.

GRANDCHILD
I wasn’t looking to open old wounds…

STUDENT
That’s how it perpetuates, see? It’s like a chastity belt around the survivor’s stories. It’s “indecent” to so much as come near, let alone broach-

GRANDCHILD
-There are plenty of other survivor accounts, I was not responsible for-!

STUDENT
Okay, relax! You’re getting angry, which weakens your argument, and you seem an intelligent person.

GRANDCHILD
So do you and that makes me sick, frankly.

STUDENT
Sorry to hear that. -Oh, I mustn’t miss this bus. Speak to your Grams, and maybe next time you can give a better-

GRANDCHILD
My Grams died recently!

STUDENT
Ah. I did not mean to open your wound. But if a purported survivor has left us, and left us without much more than the name of their prison camp during the war years, than I can’t help but feel that’s one more notch for my side.

GRANDCHILD
That’s not fair.

STUDENT
I only say this because I’m boarding now, but if your Grams was so concerned about this “tragedy” being forgotten, he or she shouldn’t have gone to the grave so quietly.

(The student boards and leaves.)

GRANDCHILD
  (trying not to weep)
Don’t let it get to you… Don’t let yourself be led astray… It’s not your fault, don’t blame yourself! Besides, can’t help that there’s wackos. There aren’t that many deniers.
  (pause)
Good job, buddy. Deny the deniers. That’s the way to honor Gram’s memory. The memory you lost! The wall you let close. One more path shut in the labyrinth. One step closer to-
  (pause)
Stop it! Stop whining… Do something. Do, do, do something. Yes. Do it. Fix it…

(Long pause. A bus comes.)

GRANDCHILD
Um, excuse me, driver? Does this bus go to the Hebrew Home?

(End.)