Deal With The Devil

Deals With The Devil

ACT I
Scene 1
Mr. Splitfoot comes on stage. He is tall and handsome, but he has a dead smile and black eyes. He has a pale face and is wearing all black. He looks about 20 years old. He has perfect posture, and addresses the audience as if they were part of the play, but does not interact too much. He mostly paces and looks up at the audience a few times. The audience plays his ghosts (AKA his ghosties)

MR. SPLITFOOT
My ghosties, my darling ghosties… I come to you today with dreadful news. I have been mocked! And this time, it is not a relatively respectable mocking, but a few little girls, pretending to be me! They do not believe I am real! They pop their joints and crack their bones and have convinced their mother and their neighbors and soon, I fear, their whole town will think that those noises are my voice, and that those little girls can understand me. So now, I plot my revenge. Those three brats are not going to get away with this. I do not speak with humans. I do not interact with humans until the last moments of their life… when I take them. These girls will be punished for ruining my image. They will be punished for making people think that I am but a clicking noise. They will be punished for making people stop fearing me. And I begin… with becoming acquainted.

ACT I
Scene 2
Flashback- Lights slowly come up to a regular level. The year is 1847. Set is a room that looks like an attic. The walls, ceiling, and floor are all wooden. There is a circular window at the far end of the room. There are 3 beds, two on one wall, both with bedside tables and stitched blankets and one slightly smaller one on the other wall with no bedside table and a plain white sheet. Despite the difference in size and décor, all the beds have rickety metal frames and lousy mattresses. Kate is on the smaller bed, and Margaret and Leah are each sitting on one of the bigger beds. A man (Mr. Splitfoot) stands in the corner, watching the girls with a look of dislike upon his face. The girls cannot see him. Kate is moving her hands in a strange way and staring at them. Margaret is looking up at Kate, then down at her hands and doing the same thing. Every time either Kate or Margaret moves her hands a cracking sound is heard. Leah is reading a book.

MARGARET
(Smiles mischievously) Leah, look at what I can do.

Margaret moves her hands and a shockingly loud cracking sound is heard. Leah covers her ears.

LEAH
Oh, that’s what that dreadful noise is. Ugh. I was about to ask if you knew what was making that cracking sound, but I suppose it was you. Can you stop, please? I am trying to read.

MARGARET
Read somewhere else, Leah. Mother thinks the noise is a ghost. (Laughs) She’s over at the neighbors’ right now, telling them that her daughters can talk to the Devil.

LEAH
(Shocked) Margaret! How cruel of you! You know how gullible mother is. Every prank you’ve pulled, she has believed you. Even that completely idiotic one about the toad living in your stomach!

Kate giggles and Margaret gives a hearty laugh.

LEAH
What is it now?

MARGARET
(Giggling) That trick was funny.

LEAH
(Angry) No, Margaret, it wasn’t! It was mean-spirited! And none of your stupid pranks work out for you anyway. Shall I remind you of poor Tommy Jackson?

MARGARET
(Flustered and guilty) No, Leah. Leave me alone. This is more than just a prank.

Leah rolls her eyes.

LEAH
What is it then, Margie dear?

MARGARET
(Bratty) You called me Margie, and now I shall not tell you.

Leah rolls her eyes again and turns to Kate.

LEAH
Kate, will you be a dear and tell me what your insane sister is going on about?

Kate glances over at Margaret for approval, but she is staring at her hands again.

KATE
Well, Leah, Margaret thinks that people will pay to see us speak to the Devil. She thinks that people will believe we can speak to their passed loved ones… She said we could all become rich and famous.

LEAH
(Angry) That is ridiculous, Kate! Do you not realize that pretending to be mediums is a crime? You could be sh-

Kate interrupts Leah

KATE
What are mediums, Leah?

LEAH
(Sighs, exasperated) Mediums are people who can talk to spirits. Now don’t interrupt me again. As I was saying, lying to people like that is a crime. I don’t know why you came up with this foolish “Mr. Splitfoot” idea, but we don’t need to be rich or famous. Don’t you know that we’re girls? No one will ever take us seriously anyway, silly girl.

KATE
But, Leah, it wasn’t my idea-

Mother enters the girls’ room, dragging Mr. and Mrs. Johnston (their neighbors) behind her. Kate stops talking abruptly.

MOTHER
Hello, my darlings. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston were fascinated by my description of your amazing talent- that you can talk to spirits and the Devil! (turns to the Johnstons) They call him Mr. Splitfoot. (continues talking to the sisters) so, my dears, do you think you could show them?

MARGARET
(Hops up from her bed) Of course, Mother!

Margaret pauses for a moment to brush her dress off and clear her throat. Leah looks on with interest.

Mr. Splitfoot, do as I do!

Margaret stomps her foot three times on the floor. A few seconds later Kate subtly clenches and unclenches her fist three times and three cracks are heard. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston gasp.

MRS. JOHNSTON
Well, girls, you obviously have a gift! We must tell the rest of the town about this amazing talent of yours! My husband wanted to speak with his deceased sister (beckons to Mr. Johnston)… we’ll pay you five dollars to help him communicate with her.

LEAH
(Shocked) Mrs. Johnston… that would be wonderful… (Looks at Margaret mischievously) I suppose… my sisters and I could help you.

Margret smiles a little evilly, and Kate raises her eyebrows.

ACT I
Scene 3

Very low lighting- Mr. Splitfoot visits Kate in a dream back in present tense. He has a very creepy manner. The girls are becoming successful in their mediums business, and the dream leads Kate to believe that Mr. Splitfoot is real. Most of the scene is Kate’s dream. She is in her bed. Her sisters are sleeping in their own beds.

MR. SPLITFOOT
Katie… (shakes Kate a little) Kate, my darling, wake up… (smiles creepily)

KATE
Who… who’s there?

Kate rubs her eyes groggily and looks up at Mr. Splitfoot. She gasps.

Who are you?!

MR. SPLITFOOT
I am Mr. Splitfoot, my darling Katie.

Kate scoots back from him on her bed. Her eyes widen.

Oh, no, dear, don’t be frightened. I am here because want to help you make your little ‘mediums’ business…become successful.

KATE
(Shyly) Oh, you should talk to Leah about that, Mister. She is the head of the establishment…

MR. SPLITFOOT
No, no Katie. (chuckles) I came to you for a reason. I do believe your sisters have been quite unfair to you from the very beginning, when you came up with the “Mr. Splitfoot” idea. Your sister Margaret saw you cracking your knuckles. She imitated you, and then Leah got paid for ‘speaking’ to Mr. Johnston’s sister. They always underestimate you, they never let you speak, and this ‘business’ of yours was your idea in the first place.

KATE
(Looks up at Mr. Splitfoot innocently) That may be true, Mr. Splitfoot, sir, but what is your point?

MR. SPLITFOOT
(Leans in) Kate, I want to assist you in taking over this job you and your sisters have. Removing Leah and Margaret from the equation completely could help your own future greatly. I could help your future greatly. If you kept your spiritualist business up, you wouldn’t even be forced to lie to get the money you need. I could whisper in your ear, tell you what to say to your clients…

KATE
Oh, no, Mr. Splitfoot, I could never betray my dear sisters! Why did you choose me to work with?

MR. SPLITFOOT
Your dear sisters? Kate, darling, your sisters have not only ignored every important thing you have had to say for the eleven years that they have known you, but they have forced you to take the blame for their foolish pranks again and again. Even… even what happened to Tommy. (Mock-dramatically) OH, that was dreadful. You thought it would be quite funny to dump a harmless bucket of hay on him from his own barn to get him back for calling you strange at school, but Margaret wanted to take it further. She wanted to flood the bar-

KATE
(Loudly, covering her ears) Stop!

MR. SPLITFOOT
I’m very sorry, Kate. I did not mean to upset you. I only wanted to show you that you have gotten punished far too many times for pranks you haven’t pulled, tricks you haven’t played, and words you never said. I wanted to make you realize that you don’t need your sisters by your side, because they have never respected you as an intelligent human with feelings. I wanted to let you know that I chose to work with you, instead of bratty Margaret or bossy Leah because you have such wonderful ideas, and you have potential to create a very successful business with me.

KATE
I… I….

MR. SPLITFOOT
Please, dear, consider it. Being rid of your disrespectful sisters and making a lot of money is definitely worth working with the Devil. And anyway, just because I am the dreaded Devil, does not mean I am completely evil. (Smiles creepily) Goodnight, Kate, darling. Sweet awakenings.

Mr. Splitfoot kisses Kate on the forehead and disappears into the shadows. Kate lightly touches the spot where he kissed her and suddenly, the lights switch on to normal level and Kate jolts more upward. She is now awake for real.

KATE
Margaret! Wake up! I must tell you something!

Margret is still.

(Says louder) I had a dream! Please, Margaret! It’s important! Mr. Splitfoot…he…he….

MARGARET
(Sits up groggily) Kate? What could you possibly want at this hour of the night?

KATE
I just had the strangest dream!

MARGARET
(mutters, annoyed) Well, you didn’t have to wake me up… you know I must see Ms. Jerald tomorrow so she can talk to her dead husband, and she ever so picky about the way I look. I cannot be bothered by your childish dreams.

KATE
I am truly sorry, Margaret but… I dreamed that Mr. Splitfoot was real! He actually spoke to me… he said… he said… well, I would rather not repeat it, but he is alive… in my dream at least. And he wants to help me- I mean us…. with the medium business.

MARGARET
(Snaps) That’s ridiculous, Kate. Why ever would you dream of something so foolish?! Have you lost that narrow mind of yours? You know Mr. Splitfoot isn’t real. He is but a nickname for the devil, and nothing more. Our clients like it better when we speak to ghosts, anyway, so you needn’t even worry about Mr. Splitfoot. Though, if I ever have to remind you again that Mr. Splitfoot is only you, Leah and I cracking our joints, I shall strike you. There is always the possibility that… (starts to whisper) we could get caught, for pretending to be able to speak to a supposed spirit. You know what would happen, then, don’t you, Katie? You, Leah and I would be shunned, abandoned! I am sure that pretending to be able to speak to ghosts, cheating all of these people out of their money, taking advantage of their grief…It’s a terrible crime. But it is working. We have become richer and more popular than ever before, which is what we wanted, remember? Everyone in Hydesville has forgiven us for… what happened to Tommy. That prank didn’t work out, but as you have witnessed, Kate, this one has. If you are to say anything that may hint that Mr. Splitfoot is not, indeed, real, then everyone will know that he really isn’t, and we shall be worse off than before.

KATE
But, Margret, I said he is real! And it isn’t my fault if I dreamed it-

Kate stops talking abruptly as Margret rolls her eyes, lies back down, and starts to snore. Kate sighs, then looks angrily down at Margaret.

ACT I
Scene 4

The next morning: Kate, Margret, Leah and Mother sit around a breakfast table. They are eating breakfast. Mother is eating quickly.

MOTHER
(finishes up breakfast) Oh, I’m so sorry girls, but I must get to my loom. I will see you at lunch, my darlings.

LEAH
But mother, with all of our work as mediums (gestures to Kate and Margret), do you really need to spend so much time weaving? You don’t really need to sell your tapestries anymore. Margret already has five clients today, and just one good session could bring in twice the amount of money as one of your tapestries does.

MOTHER
(sad and regretful) Well… I don’t know, Leah, dear. I’m not sure if this ‘mediums’ business will last long… What man would marry a girl that can communicate with ghosts? And anyway… I must keep myself occupied with….your father gone. Sometimes I wish you girls hadn’t gotten this whole spiritualism establishment started in the first place. It is quite frightening, and you girls are growing up too fast now that you have a paying job.

LEAH
Hmm… (looks sternly at her sisters) well, when we first… ah… discovered we could talk to ghosts, I didn’t think we should make a business out of it either. I still think it will die down soon enough. I think that maybe I should get another job. (prissy and stuck-up) Being the oldest and most sophisticated, I will need to support myself once this spiritualism movement dies out.

MARGARET and KATE
(in unison, shocked) WHAT?

MOTHER
(winces and covers her ears) Dears, not so loud. You have given me a headache. I must go up to bed. (Mutters) And now I cannot finish my tapestry….

Mother exits before the girls can apologize.

MARGARET
(angry) Leah, you can’t leave the business! If you do, the public will think Kate and I did something wrong, and people will no longer come to us for spiritual advice!

LEAH
(Stifles laughter) Public? What do you mean, public? Nobody knows that we can (uses hand quotes) – talk to spirits- through (uses hand quotes again) –Mr. Splitfoot- besides half the people in this small town!

MARGARET
Leah, no one knows about our duplicity, so we can expand! Imagine it- the world’s youngest mediums. We could travel the globe! Meet famous people! Be famous people! Everyone would come to us to talk to dead relatives- or even just to see us speak to the Devil! We could be rich!

LEAH
Are you deranged, Margret? We’re women. No- we’re little girls. No one would take us seriously. And anyway, we are lying. Someone will find out eventually if we don’t quit! I don’t know what your obsession with being famous is about, but it will never happen for us!

KATE
(Quietly) But, Leah dear, what if we didn’t have to lie?

LEAH
(irritated) Kate, there is no possible way we could continue being mediums and not lie. Please, if you don’t have anything reasonable to say, don’t say anything at all. (rolls eyes)

KATE
(a little abashed) Yes, Leah, there is! Last night, a man who claimed he was Mr. Splitfoot came to me in my dreams.

Margret rolls her eyes

KATE
He said he wanted to help me take over the business. He said that I-

MARGARET
(snotty) Didn’t Leah just say if you don’t have anything reasonable to say, don’t say anything at all? (addresses Leah) She was going on about this last night, Leah. She’s being foolish. As if anyone would think that she could take over the business. But I do think we could get along with lying about being mediums.

LEAH
(astonished, completely disbelieving, addresses Kate) Kate, why would you say such a horrifying and foolish thing?! (very upset) Mr. Splitfoot is most certainly not real, and the more I think about it, the worse I feel about lying to people. They have lost family members and friends, and we make them pay for us to crack our joints and tell them what they want to hear! It’s dreadfully selfish, and I do believe we should confess this instant.

Mr. Splitfoot glides in. It seems as if only Kate can hear him speak.

MR. SPLITFOOT
(creepy calm) Girls, girls, calm down. (chuckles quietly)

Mr. Splitfoot leans down to Kate and whispers in her ear. It becomes obvious only Kate can hear him now

MR. SPLITFOOT
(creepy) Katie, darling. Hello again. Now you can see that I am, indeed, real. Have you thought about my offer? I believe your little conversation with your sisters you just had may have…. Brought my point into light, mm?

Kate seems to be contemplating her sisters. She is looking back and forth between them.

LEAH
Kate, what are you….?

Kate shakes her head, then addresses Mr.Splitfoot.

KATE
You were right. You understand me.

MR. SPLITFOOT
Wonderful, darling. I will visit you in the night again. I think we can agree that is the easiest way to go about things.

Mr. Splitfoot puts a hand on Kate’s shoulder and looks into her eyes. He seems to be hypnotizing her.

KATE
Yes…. (an insane smile spreads across her face) I agree

MARGARET
Kate, you foolish girl, who are you talking to!?

KATE
Don’t call me ‘foolish girl’ Margaret.

Mr. Splitfoot chuckles evilly.

MR. SPLITFOOT
(quietly, to no one in particular) Stealing my identity….Mocking me… All of you will pay.

Mr. Splitfoot whisks away.

MARGARET
(addresses Kate) I shall call you whatever I please! You look like such an idiot, talking to yourself.

KATE
(Angry, something seems to have come over her) Don’t. Call me. An idiot. I wouldn’t cross me, Margie. I have the Devil on my side.

LEAH
Kate, you truly are acting stupid. You don’t seem to know what you’re saying. How about you go up to bed and take a nap?

KATE
(Very angry) I don’t feel like going to sleep on my tiny, rickety bed! Mother favors you two for no reason! You’re both brats, and you both misbehave more than I do! I don’t want to deal with you two blaming me for everything anymore! I am finished with you underestimating me and bringing me down! You’ll both pay!

Kate storms upstairs, leaving Leah and Margaret in confusion.

ACT I
Scene 5

Mr. Splitfoot comes onstage alone again. The lights are low and his face is shadowy.

MR. SPLITFOOT
Hello again, my darlings. That short argument alone can finish up my work here. I have succeeded in possessing Kate, and soon enough, I believe, she will murder her sisters. She might even kill herself, but, (chuckles) after Leah and Margaret are dead, I may be too excited to wait for that…. I will show those three sisters that you should not mess with the Devil… (chuckles)

ACT I
Scene 6

In Margret, Leah and Kate’s room- low light. It is later that evening. Kate sits on her bed and Mr. Splitfoot sits across from her, his legs crossed at the knee. He is staring very intensely into her eyes.

MR. SPLITFOOT
Kate, my dear, I am so glad we could come to a final agreement.

KATE
Indeed, Mr. Splitfoot, sir. I shall kill my sisters tonight. It surprised me how little it took for me to see that you are right. They hardly listen to a word I say, and even when they do, they contradict me right away. I shall be glad when I am finally rid of them and starting up my own business with you.

MR. SPLITFOOT
(smirks) As am I, Katie darling. I am desperate to know, what will be your method for your sisters’ murder?

KATE
(insanely) A kitchen knife in the chest will do (insane smile)

MR. SPLITFOOT
Lovely, lovely…. it is near bedtime. Shall I leave you to it?

KATE
Thank you, Mr. Splitfoot (strange half-smile)

ACT I
Scene 7

Kate is in the same spot as before, but now Leah and Margaret are in their beds, reading. One of Kate’s arms hangs off the side of her bed. In that hand she holds a medium-sized kitchen knife. She is skilled at moving it between her fingers. Her sisters do not see the knife. Leah glances up from her book to speak to Kate, who seems to be doing nothing but sitting there with an insane smile on her face.

LEAH
Kate, what are you doing?

KATE
That’s none of your business, Leah. Read your book.

LEAH
(draws back) And since when did you get so disrespectful?

KATE
I do not have to respect you if you don’t respect me.

LEAH
What do you mean, we don’t respect you? Margaret, do you hear what little Katie is going on about? (chuckles lightly) There is no need to be upset, Kate.

Kate, infuriated, jumps out of her bed and wields her knife. Leah’s eyes widen as she realizes what Kate is holding. Kate advances on her and holds the knife to her throat before she can scramble out of bed.

MARGARET
(takes a moment to process what is going on) Oh, god…KATE! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING!?

Leah gags, but Kate does not remove the knife. Margaret struggles to scramble out of bed to lock the door, but Mr. Splitfoot, only visible to the audience, beats her to it and locks the door. He then goes and stands near Kate’s bed, and smiles evilly, watching for the rest of the fight. Margaret jiggles the knob in panic.

MARGARET
(Panicked) Leah! She locked it! (stern, starts to approach Kate) Kate. I don’t know what you are trying to do, but I need you to put the knife down. If we had known you felt this strongly about Mr. Splitfoot being real…

KATE
(hysterical) No, Margaret, I am not going to put the knife down. You have underestimated me my whole life. You have been favored by mother, and it got to your heads. You think that you’re more important than me, but I…. (crazy laugh) I have the power now!

LEAH
(whimpers) Kate… please… you’re only… eleven…

KATE
(snaps) Shut up, Leah. I am eleven. I’m an eleven-year-old with a knife.

Kate thrusts the knife into Leah’s throat. Leah slumps against her bed, dead. There is blood everywhere. Margaret is screaming and crying hysterically. She backs up.

MARGARET
KATE! KATE, PLEASE DON’T KILL ME! I DO BELIEVE MR. SPLITFOOT IS REAL! I BELIEVE YOU KATE! (Quiets, choking on her words) please, Kate, I’m sorry… I’m so sorry….

Kate starts to advance on Margaret. There is blood all over her clothes and her face.

KATE
(wonders out loud, still insane) You know… I wonder… where Mother is…. To save you, favorite child….

Margaret is now curled up in a ball in the corner. Kate keeps moving toward her.

MARGARET
(desperate) Please… please Kate. I didn’t mean to be Mother’s favorite child…. (sobbing) I only made fun of you b-because that is what sisters do! (squeaks) Please don’t hurt me!

KATE
Oh, stop crying. Sisters don’t make sisters take the blame for everything they ever did wrong. Sisters don’t kill little boys, and then say that it was their sister’s fault. But this, Margie, this, is where you fall. I have never seen you so scared.

Kate laughs and runs her knife down the side of Margaret’s face. Suddenly, Mother is banging and screaming at the door.

MOTHER
(offstage, outside girls’ bedroom door) LET ME IN! LET ME IN RIGHT NOW, KATE! LEAH? MARGARET? WHAT IS GOING ON IN THERE?!

MARGARET
MOTHE-

Kate stabs Margaret in the heart before she can say what she has to say. Mother finally stumbles into the room. She sees Kate standing with the bloody knife, Margret dead on the floor, and Leah sprawled out on the bed, also dead, with a huge pool of blood around her.

MOTHER
Kate Fox… what in the name of God did you do?

Mother faints. Her head hits the floor very hard. She is dead. Mr. Splitfoot steps out from behind Kate’s bed, smirking. He also has a small dagger in his hand. Kate does not see it.

MR. SPLITFOOT
Come here, my dear.

Kate, who does not seem to be thinking, steps over Margaret’s body and goes up to Mr. Splitfoot

MR. SPLITFOOT
You see, my darling, this-

Mr. Splitfoot stabs his dagger into Kate’s heart. As she falls, he speaks again.

-Is why you don’t make deals with the Devil.

Mr. Splitfoot drops his dagger, looks around the room, smiles, steps over the bodies of Kate, Margaret, and her Mother, and calmly exits, shutting the bedroom door behind him.

END OF PLAY

Maeve Mollaghan, Age 12, Grade 7, MS 51, Silver Key

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