5X5: The Devil’s Sweet Water

We start performances of PANGS OF THE MESSIAH again tomorrow. All week we’ll be sharing the 5X5: Playwrights Respond to Pangs of the Messiah plays that were performed on July 22, 2007.

The Devil’s Sweet Water

by Jacqueline E. Lawton

“And yet they, who passed away long ago,
still exist in us, as predisposition,
as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood,
and as gesture that rise from the depths of time.”

Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Marie Rilke

Characters (in this excerpt):

Woman (late 20’s) – Black, passionate, discerning, and lovely.
Man (mid-20’s) – drove the truck into the headquarters of a Marine battalion in Beirut.
Israeli Combatant – descendent of Isaac, claims Holy Land.
American Politician – supports the Jews in their fight against the Muslims.
Hezbollah Militant – descendent of Ishmael, claims Holy Land.
Syrian Politician – supports the Muslims in their fight against the Jews.

First, a song.
Then, a flashback to 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon.
Finally, a dream … after all hope is gone.


There is a beautiful home. There is a Cedar of Lebanon and an olive grove in the background.

At Rise:

A woman enters holding a child in her arms.
They are as happy as humanly possible.
They have everything they could possibly need.
It’s the kind of happiness found, when there is no hope anything better.
Mother sings a sad lullaby to the tune of “Hush Little Baby.”

O, little one I love you so.
Forever by your side, you’ll always know,
Mother loves you and holds you dear,
Father loves you, though he’s not here.
He died at war, for our dear sake,
Hush now love no need to wake.
The war will end soon, though we’re alone.
You’ll always have a home to call your own.

The Child cries.
The Woman quiets the child.
A man enters.

In my life, I suffered.
All I knew was suffering.
Those I loved … they suffered.
Many, so many, were killed.
I lost hope.
When that happened, I relieved my suffering through pain.
The Spanish poet, Juan Valera, he knew my mind.
He wrote:
“If in the end I should conquer,
Glorious will be the victory;
But I shall owe it to the Queen of Angels,
Under whose protection I place myself.
She is my refuge and my defense;
The cedar of Lebanon,
Which puts the serpent to flight.”
Those were the last words I ever spoke in life.
They were uttered just after 6:20am on the 23rd of October in 1983.
After the yellow Mercedes-Benz stake-bed truck I drove made its way to the Beirut International Airport.
After I turned onto an access road:
A road leading to where the 1st Battalion 8th Marines, under the U.S. 2nd Marine Division of the United States Marine Corps, had set up its local headquarters.
After I circled the parking lot, for a second time, then accelerated.
After I crashed the truck through a wire barricade.
After I passed between two sentry posts.
After I rammed through a gate.
After I barreled into the lobby of the Marine headquarters.
And in the time it took the two sentries to lock, load, and shoulder their weapons,
I found peace.
My name is Imalal Ascari.
I know that you will not understand.
I know this and yet I know now that my actions were necessary to regain hope.
For in hope, there is freedom.
Freedom, I think, you will understand.
The Spanish poet, Juan Valera, he knew my mind.

The man exits.
An Israeli Combatant and a Hezbollah Militant enter.
They fight.
An American Politician enters.
She passes an assault rifle to the Israeli Combatant.
The Israeli Combatant takes the weapon to fight the Hezbollah Militant.
A Syrian Politician enters.
He passes an assault rifle to Hezbollah Militant.
The Hezbollah Militant takes the weapon to fight the Israeli Combatant.
They fight.
After a moment, there is a bright light and a loud explosion is heard.
Everyone is gone.
There is silence … then darkness.
And finally, the sound of …

Peace will come now, peace will come.

End of play.

No part of this script may be copied/documented or performed without written permission from Jacqueline E. Lawton.Caution: professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that The Devil’s Sweet Water is subject to a royalty and is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the international copyright union, the pan-American copyright convention, and the universal copyright convention. 

All rights are strictly reserved. 

Particular emphasis is laid on the question of readings, permission for which must be secured in writing. 

All inquiries for amateur and professional performance rights must be addressed to: dulcia25@yahoo.com