Helen!

A Musical Comedy

<©>1995-2011 Katherine Anne Harris. All rights reserved.



ACT IV, Scene One

Dawn. Palace has fewer ornaments. Some are tagged "sold" and A SLAVE tagged "for sale" hoes garden by "War Fund Donations" box. At sounds of factory whistle and spewing firehose, smoke on apron clears to show a wall upstage with entrance to a burial barrow. "Closed" sign is on Akhilles' HQ. Coughing SLAVE GIRLS punch time-clock. ARGIVES in fireman gear ENTER with hose and wet baskets of bones and, as assembly line with GIRLS, wrap bones in cloth, put them in urns and stow urns in barrow while singing...

Nine Years at Camp Troy

ARGIVES: Nine years at Camp Troy -- the reasons grow vague
when y'lose half your buddies to battles and plague!
We'd rather be sailin or home on our thrones
-- not burnin and buryin bones!

AGAMEMNON & ODYSSEUS (singing as they ENTER by emerging from main HQ):
We've heard enougha your moans!

ARGIVE 1 (to ODYSSEUS): Dontcha miss Ithaca?
Damn aren't you sicka this town?

ARGIVE 2 (to AGAMEMNON): Dontcha miss Mykenae?
Why are we dickin around?

AGAMEMNON: Gold abounds!

ODYSSEUS: Nine years at Camp Troy
-- such prizes you've won!
Admit it, Cowboys, this gig has been fun
-- and it's all thanks to King Agamemnon!

AGAMEMNON: The best part's still pending
-- the ultimate sack.
Men, give us one more attack!
...Aw c'mon, form up n'hack.

(Only ODYSSEUS and old KING NESTOR do so.)

ARGIVES: You dreamed we'd triumph yesterday!

AGAMEMNON: So Nestor's spectre came to say --

NESTOR: Perhaps I meant today.

ODYSSEUS: Sure, timeframes in a dream can drift a little offbeam.

(On terrace above, TROJANS ENTER and take posts, singing)

TROJANS: Nine years pullin sentry on Troy's fair heights,
defendin our gentry from Dorian blight!
Occasionally chargin, displayin the might of our forces --

TROJAN 1: Lettin them steal our horses.

TROJAN 2: Now the blockade's so tight even crabs can't get by.

TROJAN 1: This you miss; why?

TROJAN 2 (wailing): I miss freedom. And I don't wanna die!

TROJANS: Nine years on these ramparts!

ARGIVES: Nine years on this shore!

TROJANS/ARGIVES: It's all come to stalemate
-- this siege is a bore.

TROJANS: Nine years on these ramparts!

ARGIVES: Nine years on this sand!

TROJANS/ARGIVES: Candidly, we need an Immortal hand!
Not a lot more can we mere mortals take.
Gods, won't you give us a break?

(Light hits ZEUS and HERA above, hand to ear. Action freezes.)

ZEUS: Suppose we could patch things up, have 'em agree
to let bygones be bygones? Of course for a fee.
State your terms, Hon -- you're ace at demanding.

HERA: For no price will I leave Troy standing!

(As TROJANS/ARGIVES resume action, HEKTOR ENTERS.)

TROJANS: Nine years on these ramparts!

ARGIVES: Nine years on this silt!

TROJANS/ARGIVES: Livin our lives 'round these walls the gods built,
we've had it up to the hilt!

TROJANS: Nine years on these ramparts!


TROJANS/ARGIVES: Givin our lives so the classics they'll teach,
we've had it way past our best reach!

HEKTOR (spoken): Then thinka today as a stretch, Mates...(Chasing TROJANS off with warcries) Y'sorry buncha lightweights -- man those gates!

ARGIVES (cringing at warcries as HEKTOR and TROJANS EXIT):
Nine years at Camp Troy, we gave our best shot.
Let's split now -- ahoy!-- 'fore the ship timbers rot.
O Aggie, release us, we're weepin for peace.
Even in Tolstoi, the war had to cease!

HERA (spoken): Tolstoi, oy vey. I'll send down some Hemingway.

(HERA tosses books; SLAVE GIRLS menace A.G. and ODYSSEUS.)

SLAVE GIRL 1: So tell us what's in it for our dudes to stay!
Not anytime lately was anyone paid!
(pointing to palace) The only stuff left is up there
-- towards which we're gettin nowhere.

AGAMEMNON: They'll either support me or go on report
and nevermore darken the door of my court.

SLAVE GIRL 2: But they've already looted all local resorts.
No wonder our consorts are feelin distraught.
And, Gentlemen, we're sports but frankly
we're gettin cranky.

SLAVE GIRL 3: Nine years at Camp Troy and we're still unwed!
When they stole us and slew all our kinfolk they said
they disrupted our lives to make us Greek wives.
So take us to Greece for the feast!
Haven't we long enough tarried?

ODYSSEUS (spoken): Kids, mosta these fellas are married.

HERA: Nine years watching Troy! Still warcries resound!
Now that's entertainment -- best value downtown.

ATHENA: And sooner or later, those walls hit the ground:
one vast steaming funeral mound -- Dad!

APHRODITE: Zeusy, your daughter is bad news!

ATHENA (pointing to HELEN): Yeah, and she's payin' her dues!

APOLLO: Lo but you know she meant you!

(IMMORTALS scuffle as SLAVE GIRLS chase ARGIVES into barrow.)

HELEN (aside, consulting newspaper scroll): Wonder what's going on in my horoscope today...Standard propaganda for all signs -- a good day to die. ...(Calling over uproar) Hey, Pop, there's s'posed to be a truce on!

(Fleeing GIRLS' blows, ARGIVES emerge from barrow. GIRLS stay within as ZEUS thunders, freezing ALL but GODS and HELEN.)

ZEUS (singing): Nine years screwing Troy, what haven't we had?
Plague, duels, pitched battles, romances and laughs.
Now I've heard their prayer for an end to this blast
and we're gonna wrap things up fast!
(To Goddesses) You gals got us into town, you move us out.
I know how you revel in showing your clout
so make this a day we'll remember in heaven.
Go for it -- points will be given.

HELEN (spoken): But Pop, our culture's way too competitive! I mean it; this is unhealthy. What about just giving me crowsfeet or a little boob-droop? It's time.

ZEUS (to APHRODITE, spoken): You can shut her up, too.

(APHRODITE freezes HELEN as ZEUS nods to HERA, who cues AGAMEMNON; he approaches recalcitrant ARGIVES, singing)

AGAMEMNON: Remember the omen, the birds that snake ate:
Number nine was the last one. Fight on, trust in fate!

HERA (as zilch happens): Our eye's on the sparrow but who appreciates?

(ZEUS forms "O" with fingers, refreezes AGAMEMNON and cues ATHENA. She cues ODYSSEUS, who does a slick song-and-dance.)

ODYSSEUS: Our losses are acceptable! Our leadership's impeccable!
The target is quite wreckable -- you know I never lie!

(As ARGIVES groan) So we lost Akhilles? Big deal! I'll persuade the guy!
What more do you need? Agreed, the darts of Herakles;
I can score these -- for me it's a breeze!
Y'want the Palladium? I'll sneak into Ilium.
Me n'Diomedes'll brave the Trojans' wrath;
it's a chance for a bath.
All I ask in return is your affection
and no further defections.
So bust out and kick ass!

ZEUS (freezing ODYSSEUS and scoring "1" with upraised finger): For originality.

(ZEUS cues APHRODITE. Zombied HELEN moves to rampart as FAUX-HELENS emerge from barrow with weapons, singing sirenlike in a new key. Entranced ARGIVES gladly accept weapons from them.)

FAUX- HELENS: Nine years at Camp Troy; where else should you be?
Re-arm and enjoy -- you're vying for me!
You're battling for what you adore!
(Returning to barrow) Whatever that is, you want more!

ARGIVES (looking up as HELEN comes in view on rampart, blowing kisses): Helen!!

(Music fades and HELEN rouses with a "how'd I get here?" look.)

HELEN (aside, over cries of "Helen!"): You'd think I'd be used to this by now but --

HELEN: For nine years this has gone on; y'did catch that? Why won't the freakin Greeks give up?...(As GODS add to din when she tries to write) Ga-ahds, who can concentrate around here? (Stomping out for bullhorn) Shut-u-ut up!

(ARGIVES EXIT, chased by SLAVE GIRLS. AGAMEMNON vanishes into HQ with ODYSSEUS, NESTOR and MENELAUS.)

HELEN (to GODS) You, too; you're all behaving like holy terrors! Uh --

APHRODITE: What else?...Waltzed right into that one, Darlin...Eeeek!!!

(A mighty roar sounds, off, and a wave of sea water splashes GODS)

ZEUS: What's your gripe, Poseidon?...(Over roars) Yeah, I see a wall by the ships...Trench n' stakes, too. Argives've been busy...Hm, day late with your construction sacrifice, too.

HERA (shouting, off): So proper offerings they didn't make, you'll knock the thing down when they sail...(As ZEUS thunders along with another splash and roar) Oh, both of you, get over it! (To ATHENA as warcries sound, off) Time we go.

ZEUS (as HERA, ATHENA, APOLLO and APHRODITE make for exit): In your tracks! Any of ya move 'til I say so, I'll hurl ya deeper'n Hades!...(As ATHENA sits in his lap to appeal) They gotta fight their own battles sometime, Little Athena.

ATHENA: Please, Daddy!...(As he softens) How 'bout we just go in as advisors?

ZEUS: We-ell...(Thundering as OTHERS move to go) Nuthin but suggestions.

(OTHER GODS EXIT. ZEUS takes golden scales from under throne.)

HELEN (over warcries, off): So which side's whose?

ZEUS: You pick.

HELEN: It isn't rigged?

ZEUS: Not by me.

(HELEN picks a side; it's favored as ZEUS raises and drops balance)

HELEN (wincing): You don't hafta tell Hector.

ZEUS (moving to exit, twirling lightning bolt): Sorry, Kid. Fate's withya.

HELEN (over thunder, trumpeting and warcries, off): Pop, y'gotta be kidding.

Black.


Scene Two

Dusk. WOUNDED TROJANS and ARGIVES, most unseen under covers, writhe and moan "Helen!" at clinics in megaron and on apron. MORE TROJANS straggle up ramp to be served by medics HEKUBA and PRIAM; KASSANDRA sharpening spears on terrace; HELEN pouring wine nearby; and WOMEN frying birds and animals in cauldrons marked "Fondue." On apron SLAVE GIRLS clean wounds with oil and wine, and AGAMEMNON PEEKS out door of HQ hut with wine amphora, weeping to MENELAUS, ODYSSEUS at taverna table.

AGAMEMNON: Friends, Captains and Counsellors -- you, too, Menelaus -- cruel Zeus has destroyed half our army and now bids us retreat in disgrace. Never shall Troy fall to us. Aboard the ships, I say!

MENELAUS (shoving him back inside hut): Oh, s-sleep it off.

(As MENELAUS returns to table, WOMEN light torches on both levels. HERA ENTERS above to light candles on table, then EXITS.)

AGAMEMNON (again at door, showing amphora upended): Where's that waiter?

(ATHENA ENTERS above in armor, slams down plates, then EXITS.)

ODYSSEUS (glancing above): We'll call take-out (Shouting, off) Company Alpha, take out the nearest taverna. Grab whatever's on fire and all the wine.

(AGAMEMNON goes into hut. TROJAN 1 (NASTES) reaches terrace, holding his side; he gives KASSANDRA his spear to sharpen.)

TROJAN 1: If light'd held, we'da charged agin n'torched them ships. Got mighty close. But A.G. got the idea t'come out preachin, "For shame, Argives!"

(HERA in prissy apron ENTERS theologeion, pushing food on trolley.)

HELEN (glancing above): Wonder how he came by a notion like that.

HERA: Ideas we can freely supply -- those are the regs.

TROJAN 1/NASTES: Then Aggie prayed about all he'd sacrificed to Zeus n'begged for their lives. Durned if an eagle didn't nip by n'drop a fawn smack-dab on th'altar! That got 'em goin agin, specially Teucer and Diomedes --

HELEN (pouring wine for TROJAN 1): Suckers for any trite miracle.

TROJAN 1: Diomedes lit inta me once he ran outa Trojans close by. 'Scuse me, Ma'am, oughta said I'm an outatown ally. No wonder they call us Carians uncouth....(Offering his hand) King Nastes. I'm a big fan.

(Blood spews from side as he shakes her hand, then he grips side and takes wine with other hand, refusing HELEN's bar towel.)

TROJAN 1: No thankya. Sometimes I hurt m'self near as bad shavin.

HELEN (after a doubletake, generally inquiring): Anybody heard about Paris?

KASSANDRA: If he got hurt, I'd feel it.

TROJAN 1 (returning to KASSANDRA for spear with lewd look at HELEN): Y'feel ever'thing your twin feels, I wish we wuz triplets.

KASSANDRA (handing over sharpened spear point-first): Don't get nasty, Nastes...(Taking spear of TROJAN 2, next in line) Polites! Yo, Bro...(To HELEN's look of surprise) You never met my babiest brother?

HELEN: I'd have remembered the name...(Aside, noting in diary from pocket) Gotta log those two for posterity, though they'll never believe it.


KASSANDRA: Felt a pang at lunchtime. Knew it was either a bad fig or Gorgythion...(Aside) We weren't all that close.

HELEN: Another son gone -- poor Hekuba!

KASSANDRA (as HERA clucks disapproval): He wasn't Ma's.

TROJAN 2: Hear how arrows kept flying straight at Hektor and then hit his charioteer? He lost at least three drivers this afternoon. Wrung his heart.

HELEN (unconvinced): For sure.

TROJAN 2 (as HELEN makes notes): Was Eniopeus who fell to Diomedes; next Teucer hit Archeptolemus, I think. Then -- I forget; they don't last long enough to make much impression...(To KASSANDRA) Gotta take back some food for my troops now. Can you scare me up a sheep to go?

KASSANDRA: I live to serve. (Taking from cage a toy sheep, bashing it with an amphora and handing it over on a spear) Shit, I should be fighting withya.

TROJAN 2: Absolutely...(To HELEN) She punched me out a lot when we were kids...(To KASSANDRA) Better brace for a buncha take-out orders.

HELEN: The guys aren't coming home tonight?

TROJAN 2: Only the injured and us caterers. We're holing up for a dawn attack...Say, how do you cook one of these things, anyway?


HELEN (to KASSANDRA as TROJANS 1 and 2 EXIT via ramp): How'd Apollo swing all that arrow-deflection for Hektor under Pop's new deal?

KASSANDRA: Told me Zeus sent him down to do it...(As HERA stamps gold shoe furiously) What's that noise?

HELEN: Y'don't wanna -- (Following KASSANDRA's gaze) Oh, from over there --

CAULDRON SQUAD WOMAN 1 (saluting KASSANDRA): Reporting customers without reservations.

ARGIVE,OFF (hands clutching wall edge at left with a rapturous wail): Helen!

CAULDRON SQUAD WOMAN 1 (Peering over wall): Dined yet, Sir? (Upending cauldron as ARGIVES' hands flail and drop) How about some Trojan hospitality?

ARGIVE, OFF (falling, shrieking) Helen!

(After heavy thud comes whimpering, off. HERA groans.)

CAULDRON SQUAD WOMAN 2 (shouting down: You other Spidermen hungry?

HELEN (as KASSANDRA beams): Not entertaining evil visions this evening?

KASSANDRA: This does kinda take my mind off 'em...(To her troops) Gals, we'll need a bunch more wood for these cauldrons tonight -- more torches, too...(Shouting into megaron) Dad, call out the Reserves; better post extra sentries.

(WOMEN and PRIAM EXIT obediently as ZEUS ENTERS above with ATHENA, APHRODITE and EROS -- a line of well-scrubbed kiddies.)

HERA: From my latest opus, Another Thousand Ways with Nectar and Ambrosia.

ZEUS (taking his throne): Cozy when y'focus on wife-duty, Ox-Eyed Hera.

HERA: Well, also I've been thinkin -- of some dinner entertainment.

ZEUS (grandiose in approval): Sure!...(As MUSES ENTER on apron playing Who's Sorry Now?) Oh, y'mean down there.

(Hearing song, HERA and ATHENA grin; TROJANS peer down, worried; and AGAMEMNON emerges from HQ hut, sobbing.)

ODYSSEUS (over music, making list): It'll take gold, A.G...(As AGAMEMNON sobs more loudly) Also copper, bronze and let's say twelve race-horses, seven tripods and seven chicks plus the main babe. That oughta cover your apology...As incentives, we tack on the twenty best babes we get outa Troy, seven of your coast towns and his pick of your daughters.

MENELAUS (as AGAMEMNON hesitates): I'll th-throw in the d-daughter.

ODYSSEUS: So let's wash up and pray and I'll go.

ZEUS: Great shot, Hera, but he's gonna say no.

Black.


Scene Three

Day. HELEN in sunglasses pushes twin-sized pram on terrace while BYNOMOS plays nearby. Warcries sound, off, and USUAL GODS (ZEUS, HERA, APHRODITE, APOLLO, ATHENA, ARES) cheer and boo above as KASSANDRA ENTERS on ramp.

KASSANDRA (calling BYNOMOS) Come see Daddy leading a charge on the beach!

BYNOMOS: My daddy? That doesn't sound a bit like Daddy.

(KASSANDRA races up steps with BYNOMOS. HELEN slowly follows.)

APHRODITE: Slaughter the fiends, Paris! Stomp 'em!

APOLLO: Haste, tarry not!...(Softly as he sees KASSANDRA) Faint not, nor fail --

APHRODITE: How I thrill to see a master-motivator spurring on our forces as you do...Yay, Paris offed an Argive!...Move it, Helen; he just shot another!

BYNOMOS (as HERA and ATHENA cheer) Yuck, they got one of ours.

DYING WARRIOR, OFF (as HELEN on rampart sheds glasses to look): Helen!

HELEN (backing off and ducking down): Not that again!

APHRODITE (to APOLLO, eying KASSANDRA) So what's up with Artemis? ...Ms. "Have Bow, Will Travel." Your favorite hired gun when you want a ladyfriend iced. Don't think I don't know what you did to Coronis...Yoo-hoo, stoa light's on but nobody's home...Apollo, I'm inquiring about your twin sis, the huntress.

APOLLO (still riveted by KASSANDRA): Lo, she desists from wrath.

APHRODITE: Hey, first she gives those creeps fair winds to Troy, then she shows up to help heal my Aeneas. Where's she coming from, anyway?

ARES: Juste a casual interest, Dollface. Ain't no virgins involved in this case.

APOLLO (his gaze remaining on KASSANDRA): Aye, one there is, unsinning, pure.

APHRODITE: Uh-oh, somebody's slipping.

ARES: Poseidon and Hermes still waffling, Ma?

HERA: Paralyzed by conflicting grudges...What's your stand, Dionysos?

ATHENA (over giggles behind thrones): Only stand he's got sells retsina...(as if reading sign) "Happy Hour All Day."

HERA: Heph I can't get through to, either. He'll arm any shmuck with a drach --

BYNOMOS: Wow, look't the dust from our chariots!

ATHENA: Dust isn't black, Dope.

BYNOMOS: So what is it, Genius?

ATHENA: Somebody roofing downwind? Smells like tar smoke --

HERA (grabbing binocs): Braziers they've got aboard;they're gonna torch the fleet!

BYNOMOS: Crisp 'em! Daddy's getting close -- so's Uncle Hektor. Look, Mom!

WARRIORS, OFF (a roar of thousands as HELEN peeks): Helen!!!

ATHENA (as HELEN hides again): Yikes! They're almost in range of the ships!

HERA (rising): So what're we waiting for? Hustle!

ARES (rising, too): I ain't sittin this one out, neither.

ZEUS (with an evil grin as GODS rise): All leavin, eh?...Fine. Go to your rooms!

(GODS moan ON EXIT; APOLLO waves 'bye to BYNOMOS.)

BYNOMOS: Two more a'my uncles down! Isus and Antiphus --

HELEN (a question this time): Poor Hekuba?

BYNOMOS: Uncle Antiphus is hers...Sheesh, Hektor just lost another driver! Grandpa, I thought we were favored.

ZEUS (over horrid cries, off): Can't make it too easy.

HELEN (still cowering below rampart wall): I don't like the sound of this.

ZEUS (looking away from battle): Think I like the sight?

HELEN: Pop, you can't look away!

ZEUS (rising, gaze still off battle): This show's under control. I need a holiday.

BYNOMOS: Grandpa, no!

ZEUS: Don't worry, Kid. They wouldn't dare.

(ZEUS EXITS. ATHENA peeks on, then ENTERS followed by HERA.)

ATHENA (beckoning HERA): Daddy's not here...(Looking down) Step-Mom, this is killing me -- Argives dropping left n'right; fires breaking out all over the plain!

HERA (looking through binocs): Gettin shaky, their wall...(Shouting down) You assaulting that Argive wall, Poseidon?...Guy's waving a staff. Now he's reviving Argives with it. Looks like Kalchas.

ATHENA (shouting down) That you possessing Kalchas, Uncle Earthshaker?

HERA: He's waving again. Suddenly he's on our side? Such a schiz, Poseidon.(Shouting down sweetly) O noblest brother, sovereign of the seas, did you happen to notice which way he --?....(Swinging binoculars sharply right) Ah, atop Mount Ida of the many springs, he's kicked back to enjoy the landscape.

ATHENA (grabbing binoculars as more warcries sound): They've breached the wall! I'm going down...(PEEKING ON after EXIT) You're not?

HERA: Got business...(To sky after ATHENA EXITS) Hera to Lemnos -- Sweet Sleep I need to talk to...Master of All the Gods n'All Mankind, does Hera have a deal for you. Y'get a throne by Heph to meet me on top of Mount Ida in -- hm, takes him about -- make it as quick as y'can. Of course the mark's my husband ...Okay, y'also get your favorite Grace...(Calling sweetly) Oh, Aphrodite, Dear!

(APHRODITE ENTERS wearing "huh? look and Band-Aid on wrist.)

HERA (with unctuous smile): A teensy favor the Queen of Heaven needs from you: Love and Desire on loan. My step-mom and her spouse, years they been sleeping separate. While we're not so busy here, I could patch it that up. Gotta go to the ends of the earth, of course --

APHRODITE (taking embroidered bag from her bosom): Gosh, we'll miss you.

(HERA snatches bag and EXITS at a trot, followed by APHRODITE.)

BYNOMOS: She shouldn't have done that...(Looking down as warcries surge) They're mowing down our guys already!...(To sky) Grandpa, stop Athena! She's not in her room!...This is Bynomos, Grandpa -- listen to me! (In tears) Listen!...(Over screams of dying WARRIORS, OFF) Mama, what can we --?

HELEN (holding him): Not a goddamn thing.

(HELEN and BYNOMOS freeze in Pieta pose as light pales and colors to streaky sunset. Shattered, HERA ENTERS above on ATHENA's arm.)

HERA: Never has such love, such sweet desire, he says, flooded and overwhelmed my heart -- not for goddess or woman. This is great, right. Then he says not even when I loved Ixion's wife, the mother of Peirithous -- or Dionysos' ma, Semele. Or Danae of the slim ankles, mother of Acristus, grandma of the hero Perseus. Or incomparable Leto, who gave t'him Apollo and Artemis -- or -Alcmene in Thebes -- or Helen's ma, Leda, or my sis Demeter of the Lovely Locks or the daughter of Phoenix or -- or, or! Alla this I hadta hear n'go through with it.

ATHENA (as HERA kicks Zeus' throne): You're a holy martyr, Gold-Shod Hera.

ZEUS, OFF (as HERA and ATHENA share "uh-oh" look): Outa my way, Poseidon!...(Over roar) Hey, Apollo, detention's over! Y'gotta rally these Trojans quick.

ATHENA (looking down at battlefield): Damn, he healed Hektor.

ZEUS, OFF: Kick the wall in now, stamp it smooth and charge those ships!

HERA (calling down): Shoot the charioteers!...A table Teucer shot, what's this?

HERA AND ATHENA (together): One-way fog!

ZEUS, OFF (as GODDESSES blow): Who's messing with my unnatural mist?

(ATHENA and HERA scoot to thrones as ZEUS ENTERS.)

ZEUS (wrenching GODDESSES up): Y'wanna see, see! They're goin hand-to-hand. Sand's black with blood.

(Hideous warcries sound as ARES ENTERS and takes a look.)

ARES: This is great stuff!

ZEUS (pointing for him to go): Anybody say you could come out?

HERA AND ATHENA (shouting down as ARES EXITS): Akhilles! Save the ships!

ZEUS: Y'never pay attention. It's torch a ship first,then Patroklus fights. When Pat dies, then Akhilles fights...Besides givin me a good time, all you n'Poseidon did today was set back the schedule. Argives coulda been winnin already.

HERA (to ZEUS with a grin): Now a sail I spot burning.

ATHENA: Hey, somethin's ass-backward. Akhilles is comin out early.

ZEUS (nodding, not looking down): It's Pat -- he borrowed the armor.

ATHENA: And a couple-hundred Myrmidons!...Trojans think it's Akhilles!

ZEUS (still not looking down): So they're all running. Except Sarpedon...Maybe I'll scoop him up n' set him down home in Lycia. When I thinka his mom --

HERA: Don't.

ATHENA (chasing as ZEUS moves off): You'll just open a can a'worms, Dad. Lotsa semi-divines down there -- everybody'll start grabbin 'em.

(To thunder and warcries, off, ZEUS EXITS followed by ATHENA and HERA, yelling protests. Lightning shows HELEN still sitting on rampart as before. BYNOMOS is with her; both register fall of rain.)

BYNOMOS (holding hands out to catch rain): Yuck, Grandpa's saving the ships.

HELEN (with a smile): And your uncle Sarpedon, okay? They'll hafta call a rainout.

BYNOMOS (as lightning stops and red sunset blazes): So why's it stopping?

HELEN (seeing BYNOMOS' hands) This is blood!...(With a sob) Y'really let it happen! Your own son -- how couldya?

BYNOMOS (getting it and bursting into tears): Uncle Sarpedon!

HELEN: Pop, I'll never trust you again...(As APHRODITE ENTERS above, hair in a new style) Not you, either!

APHRODITE (over warcries and screams): "Not me, either" what?...Like the hairdo?

WARRIOR, OFF (a dying wail in agony): Helen!

APHRODITE:Hey, Helen! Like the hairdo?

BYNOMOS: Guys are dying with Mom's name on their lips n'you think about hair.

APHRODITE (as BYNOMOS stomps into palace and EXITS): Selfish me... (Tapping cheeks) Slap-slap...(Over more cries of "Helen," off) Thrilling, isn't it?

HELEN: Thrilling? Those stupid dudes -- dying for someone who wouldn't know half of 'em if they came up and chewed on me.

APHRODITE: Mostly mere troops, I know, but ennobled by their love for you. And en route to the Elysian Fields -- never had it so good...(Tapping floor) Got that, Hades? Customers! V.I.P.'s, though some won't look it...(Over more dying wails of "Helen," off) You could stand a restyle, too. I'm talking to you, Helen!

(Ignoring APHRODITE, who EXITS, HELEN rises and in last blaze of sunset faces battlefield and raises her arms.)

WARRIORS, OFF (building to tumult of thousands): It's Helen! Helen! Helen!!

HELEN (aside, facing front as music rises): Like what do they mean by that?...

(She reflects, remembers, sings as sky darkens and stars appear.)

What Do They Cry when They Cry "Helen"?

They've been screaming for me ever since I was ten:
When I danced at the temple, it packed the crowds in;
when I wrestled the boys, folks cheered me to win. I had fans!
(Spoken aside) I was naked, of course; it's our custom.

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If I were still ten, I would be tellin' ya' 'Love'
-- but in innocent days of dispassionate praise, I see now
crying 'Helen' means 'Wow!'

Rather suddenly I gained Panhellenic fame:
All the nobles of Athens were lauding my name;
so much for my purely provincial acclaim -- and Purity...
(Aside) Life could never be even remotely the same after Theseus swiped me.

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If I were eleven, I would be tellin' ya' 'Love'
--but when heroes past fifty extol their nifty new toys
sure, they lay it on thick, but it's not for the chick;
it's about looking good to the boys!

When my brothers sailed boldly and hauled me back home
we child-stars could've filled an immense hippodrome!
Applauding my beauty became a syndrome -- via scandal.
(Aside) 'Did they or didn't they?' Everyone wondered.

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If I were thirteen I would be tellin' ya' 'Love'
--sure, folks howled for a peek at the Kiddo Unique:
mortal girlchild of God. They meant 'Odd.'
So I vowed my abductor got nothing but kisses --
securing my status as Prize among Princesses.
Sweet Princes tasted a conqueror's blisses on my lips.
(Aside) 'Yummy,' they told me. 'Better'n bubblegum.'

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If I were fourteen, I would be tellin' ya' 'Love'
--but when lovesongs are sung by the painfully young
you're a dope if you miss this means 'Hope.'

Having found an ideal, guys grew ready to kneel
and proposals were spieled; it was 'let's make a deal.'
All real feelings got lost in the zeal of Big Wheels;
in the urgent appeals for my troth.
(Aside) And let's not omit my crown.

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If I were sixteen, I would be tellin' ya' 'Love'
--but when royals are fond of a ravishing blonde
who'll be queen, motives aren't sqeaky-clean.
It's a cynical scene.
By such principles bred, by them likewise I wed:
duly noting which side butter's spread on the bread
--yet still welcoming suitable suitors in bed.
We were discreet.
(Aside) Whatcha stand to lose, you want so much.

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If I were eighteen, I would be tellin' ya' 'Love'
-- but they had their own lives, split to find other wives.
We stayed close, more or less, through the ghosts.

I had somehow shed phantoms as serpents shed skin
or like cards from a deck stacked so some cheat can win
-- and I reckon I know who this cheat mighta been.
Having dealt out these spirit-gals to my main men,
I was pretty much friendless.
(Aside) Thanks to One of Power Endless.

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If I were nineteen, I would be tellin' ya' 'Love'
--but the ace in the hole on which they were sold
was Lady-Luck: Goddess of Mind-F**ks.

Because there's so little for idols to do, Man
(besides which this idol was desperately human)
when Paris came proferring Fun and a new land
-- well, I went for it.
(Aside) Felt right. I needed a change.
Okay, it wasn't so breezy.

What did he cry when he cried 'Helen'?
Stage-managed Above, it felt compellin' as Love.
And when passion is shared, it's not just an affair;
it's as deep as despair; you feel driven and scared
and you don't have a prayer -- 'til you dare.
(Aside) Like the gods had me over a barrel; I even had to ditch my daughter, dammit.
She was only a baby, but she couldn't leave her job.

When guys swore to protect my first choice, my ex
-- heck, I reckoned I could change my mind; who'd object,
a few smart-alecks?
Yet they're risking their necks! Who could ever project
kindly vows the Gods blessed would cause this kind of mess?
But look at the side-effects
-- only Zeus knows what's next!
(Aside) Ruin's the expert guess.

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If I were twenty, I would be tellin' ya' 'Love'
-- but spectral encouragement, passing for sentiment
urged War instead. Guys are dead.

After more than three thousand, we're counting the dawns
and the death-toll of kings and the long one of pawns;
they continue their bashing, they brag on their brawn
and bawl "Helen!"
(Aside) Like I'm impressed. Better they should try showing the IQ of eggplant.

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
Let's face it and cut to the chase: What they're yellin' is 'Waste!
It costs tears, years, careers, and no altar's served here
--this war stinks; it's an energy sink.

What I truly can't grasp is they're having a blast
playing Save Helen's Ass. My enslavement's the task!
And why cling to the past?...'Cause the longer this lasts
the more glory's amassed? Are they that frigging crass
and rashly self-serving?
(Aside) Do I need to ask?

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
Let's get this simplified and try spellin' it 'Pride!
For a bird outa hand, a line in the sand got marked
-- we are not playin' hearts.

As a matter of pride, royals chase errant brides
--building reps, meanwhile growing quite rich on the side
-- and how princely, convincing their subjects to die in my name!
(Aside) Effect wouldn't be nearly the same without it.
But strangers, calling for you as they die -- can you even imagine it?

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
If you cut to the meat, could it be what they're sellin' is 'Greed'?
On both sides of battle, my name's the death-rattle
while leaders score chattels: gold, women and cattle!
Then they prattle of love
-- they can shove it!

What do they cry when they cry 'Helen'?
I'm loath to agree but, indeed, all they're sellin' is 'Greed!'
Though I hate to declare it, there it is bare and it's "Greed!'
I should sue it's so rude, and I fume to conclude
that for these dudes I'm only crude 'Greed!'
Uniformed for a fight, I am Property Rights;
I'm passion for nation, costumed for predation!

(HELEN concludes song with growing horror, while ZEUS ENTERS above, revealing himself in darkness by lighting a cigar)

...and set in the net of Necessity;
I'm prime -- live -- bait!
Just what Somebody set out to make:
the Beauty nobody escapes
-- not even me.

ZEUS (as music fades): Kid, you're too hard on yourself. They love ya; it's all connected: admiration, fascination, infatuation, hope, lust, attachment. Some greed, yeah...(Doing trick with lightning bolt) A little magic --

HELEN: And teleology.

ZEUS: You n'your fifty-drach words. Let's say Destiny.

HELEN: Too hermetic. And Fate, that's everybody's copout.

ZEUS: How about Providence?

HELEN: Pop, you've never been Provident in your life! You're not that kinda god...Maybe we need one. Demeter tries, but she's a wheat sheaf short of a bundle...What I'm talkin about's a little different -- inexorable historical progression.

ZEUS: Another time we'll split hairs.

HELEN (after a beat): Y'do realize you're not just taking out heroes?

ZEUS: Unavoidable fallout. Single combat hasn't proved practical. My colleagues keep pulling fast ones. Whenever their proteges are in trouble, whoosh, deus ex machina! Blows get directed and deflected, or night falls like an anvil while they whisk off a victim -- or they bring in bright clouds -- or you n'Aphrodite stage another tittyshow...This shit can't go on, Kid, it's not fair.

HELEN: But the basic war is?

ZEUS: I don't like it. S'why I'm not booking the global tour.

HELEN: With this newfound Greek unity, who knows what the army'd try next?

ZEUS: Guess who?

HELEN: Gotcha...Like I know we have a major hubris problem, but it's because you guys spoiled us -- immortals in our shape, wowee-zowee -- not even cats'ears and rams' horns, and y'all act like us, too...No worse, Pop, but no better. You've been our playpals 'til lately, slayed monsters with us, come to our parties, come to our beds...Pretty co', really...So when did we start to bore ya?

ZEUS: There's a certain predictability, like reading my own mind, but the issue's mostly internal. Down to wood nymphs, I got partisans with axes to grind, causes to peddle. Pet heroes, cities. No teamwork, no respect for authority.

HELEN: So it's bring down the heroes, topple the system. Personal power play.

ZEUS: Centralization.

HELEN: Tyranny!

ZEUS: Monotheism...(At HELEN's gasp) Won't happen overnight, but it'll catch on ...One prayer instead of ten; no nagging worries about sacrificing to the wrong god.

HELEN: Common human experience, granted, but then there's no place to appeal.

HERA, OFF: O Dread Son of Kronos, Marshaller of Clouds, Lord of the Lightning Flash, here's a flash for you -- it's past bedtime!

ZEUS: (moving to exit): Cut me slack, Kid, I'll try to iron out the kinks...(A stage whisper ON EXIT) This is the only way I'll ever get shut of Hera.

DYING WARRIOR, OFF (as lights fade): Helen!

Black.


Scene Four

On moonlit theologeion, APHRODITE poses wearing Band-Aid on wrist and little else in "Venus Vietrix" stance: one foot on helmet. ARES hands her a shield which she raises with both arms, groaning. On torchlit apron, where black wreath hangs on Akhilles' HQ, XANTHUS poses for sculptor EPEIOS (another role for disguised MENELAUS), at work on huge horse parts. HAROLD stands sentinel at palace, where torches and cauldron fires burn. Smoking pyres are suggested in distance.

ARES: Give us the love-conquers-all look. That's it, Dollface. ..(Shouting off, as APHRODITE tries to smile)...Vision comin through okay, Epeios?

APHRODITE (as EPEIOS starts carving new block): Kindly instruct him to hurry!

ARES: Tell 'im yourself.

APHRODITE: We aren't acquainted. I don't feel positive about inspiring an Argive.

ARES: They make sacrifices, too. Besides, this guy's noncombatant.

APHRODITE: We-ell, as long as he's not sculpting Hera and Athena.

ARES: Just a horse. That un's gonna be a big mother.

(XANTHUS, watching EPIEOS at work, now sees he's no longer the subject, snorts and EXITS.)

APHRODITE: Where's your pal getting so much marble? Their supply ships are always slosh-fulla wine.

ARES: He's working in wood.

APHRODITE: I won't be modelled in anything so temporal as timber. I'm putting my foot down. (Stepping off helmet and dropping shield) And that damn thing!

(Clang scares EPEIOS, who EXITS. SENTINELS draw weapons as MORE GODS ENTER above. HERA's hair is in rollers, ATHENA wears face cream and men's pj's and ZEUS, in nightwear matching HERA's, bitches out IRIS in rainbow T-shirt.)

ZEUS (waving program): Some messenger! Funeral truce extended, y'tell us. Nothin scheduled but bones outa th'fire, inta th'urns, then a banquet at Priam's. Ho-hum day, y'say, have a lie-in!

ATHENA (rushing at IRIS with spear): All-Seeing Zeus has his rep to consider, and you know we hate missing a kickoff! It's not like we ask mucha you; I mean, I do warrior-goddess duty, dispense wisdom, handle architecture, spinning, weaving, sculpture. Even protect oxen and horses!

APHRODITE: Sculpture. And horses...Hm --something's not copasetic.

ATHENA (raging on): Do I have to do everything, Iris, your mindless little errands, too?

ARES: (To ATHENA): Who died n'made you Queen a'Heaven?...(To HERA) No offense, Ma, y'should live forever...Haul it over here, Iris, quick!

ATHENA (pursuing IRIS): Incompetent idiot can't get anything right!

APRODITE (as IRIS ducks behind ARES): She's divine at "quick," actually.

IRIS (behind ARES): Gosh, Your Adorability, thanks. You, too, Your Ferocity.

(With torch HELEN ENTERS in mourning black and goes to desk.)

ATHENA: Lemme at her!!!

APHRODITE(donning helmet, lifting shield): I shall protect you, Iris...(Waving to HELEN, while fending off ATHENA) Hey, Helen, look at me, look at me! I'm fighting the bad guys again!

ATHENA: Outa the way, Slut, or it'll be curtains for Aeneas n'his kid!

APHRODITE: Zeusy won't let you touch my descendants; he swore on Styx water!

ATHENA and HERA (together): You didn't!

ZEUS: Get a whiffa that stuff, you'll say anything.

ATHENA (leaving fight to plead): Then y'gotta spare Odysseus for me!...Say yeah, Daddy. C'mon, I wanna see ya nod.

(ZEUS nods and lightning flashes, thunder cracks.)

HERA: Now me y'gotta promise...(mumbling fast, trying to get it by ZEUS) the swift n'excellent Akhilles.

ZEUS: Y'know the Fates settled his hash.

HERA (backing off as ZEUS aims thunderbolt): I thought one teensy word more --

THETIS (an eerie cry, off): Spare my Akhilles, Almighty Zeus! My darling child!

ZEUS (shouting, off): Thetis of the Silver Feet, for the last time drop it! He coulda had long life; he chose t'cover himself in glory. Eternally he'll be remembered for conquering brave Hektor, as was decreed by Heaven.

HELEN (aside): Like that made it really tough.

HERA: A magnificent show it was; any mom'd be proud!...(Over another eerie cry) Don't be a noodge, Thetis!...(To ZEUS) Make mine Menelaus.

ZEUS (with a nod that creates more thunder and lightning): Done.

APHRODITE: Since Big Daddy's cutting deals, who'll you save, Ares?

ARES (in "dumb jock" mode): Aw, I dunno, uh --

HELEN (shouting but getting no attention): Paris! Pick Paris!

APHRODITE (over HELEN's yell): He picks Anchises.

ARES (as ZEUS nods with more sound/light effects): Your old lover, no way!

ZEUS (as HELEN howls): Too late, I approved it.

APHRODITE: "Old" is the operative word, Darlin. I asked only because Aeneas dotes on his father.

ARES (menacing stage whisper): Better not spot you near him.

APHRODITE (aside, shielding eyes): Just once I'd like to see him grubbed out.

APOLLO (politely to ARES): Methought combat commenced, Brazen War-god.

ARES: Nobody missed nuthin, Sun Lord. Dollface dropped a shield...(Ogling APHRODITE) Let's all go back to bed.

(OTHER GODS EXIT, but APHRODITE calls IRIS back. Lights fade above. In megaron, SLAVES tagged "For Sale" ENTER. Working around HELEN, who writes, they hang "Farewell, Beloved Hektor and Troilus" banner, set urn stands beneath it and arrange floral tributes.)

HELEN (aside): A blind man coulda seen this part coming: Hektor nails Patroklus; Akhilles goes ballistic n'nails Hektor...But nobody reckoned on Akhilles dragging Hektor's body round the city walls. Behind a chariot. By a leather strap through his heels...The guys fought trying to get him back n'Hekuba lost another son, Troilus. Akhilles kept draggin Hektor for days. Freakin grisly. Even the gods got sick n'made Thetis tell him he had to take ransom, so we finally got the bod.

(Looking like a Banana Republic tyrant in medal-studded uniform, DEIPHOBOS ENTERS, strutting up ramp with several TROJANS whom he leavs on terrace while he goes in megaron.)

DEIPHOBOS (bellowing): Need more purple stuff to wrap the bones!

HELEN (rising warily): Paris said he sent down plenty.

DEIPHOBOS: Guess Hektor had more bones than Paris does. Like a backbone.

(As DEIPHOBOS nears HELEN, PARIS ENTERS megaron -- attired like his brother but wearing insignia of command.)

HELEN (aside): Their new commander-doll suits, don'tcha hate 'em?

PARIS (coldly to DEIPHOBOS): I'll ask the service staff to bring extra fabric....(To SLAVES) Will you please come with me?

DEIPHOBOS (as PARIS and SLAVES EXIT to palace) Can't even command slaves! He asks! Worst general left and Pa makes him CINC! I oughta be --

HELEN: Like what mega-stupendous things would you do in his place?...(As he grabs her) Lemme go, Deiphobos.

DEIPHOBOS (kissing HELEN, who fights): Y'love it, admit it.

(A SLAVE not seen before -- a hideous crone in long raggy robes -- ENTERS tottering under a bolt of purple fabric and, pretending to lose contol, rams DEIPHOBOS. Fabric flies outside with him.)

DEIPHOBOS (to TROJANS, furious): Kill the slave! Kill her!

HELEN (barring megaron entry and straining not to laugh): Accidents happen.

(HELEN bursts into laughter as DEIPHOBOS and TROJANS EXIT with fabric. SLAVE reveals herself as APHRODITE -- first by laughing, then by stripping off fright wig and fake nose.)

APHRODITE (as HELEN stops laughing and glares): I know I've been -- a little distant lately, Darlin...(Giving HELEN a present) I wanna make it up to you.

HELEN (unwrapping gift, an urn): The school yearbook!...There's Hermione in a laurel crown -- what'd she win? Music? Dance? Poetry? Best hair?

APHRODITE: Physics. But I'll get her whipped into shape...(Snapping fingers to summon IRIS, who ENTERS in slave disguise with costume trunk) Now help me decide what to wear.

HELEN (getting it as IRIS opens trunk): You just came to cruise the funeral feast.

APHRODITE: I can't miss Hektor's burial, can I?...Damn I was good -- driving the dogs away and keeping him all fresh for the pyre...(Ignored as HELEN sets new urn with family pictures) Wasn't I good?...Well, wasn't I? Everybody said so. Except Hera and Athena, of course; they wanted him putrid. Far as they cared, Akhilles could still be dragging Hektor. Resta us, though -- who says gods are unfeeling? We were throwing up...What're you wearing tonight?

HELEN: A bag over my head...No, now that Paris is Commander-in-Chief, people'll hafta be polite again...(Growly) I can't believe you didn't make Ares pick Paris.

APHRODITE: Darlin, I'm sure he'll be fine.

HELEN: Really sure?...(As IRIS lays out costumes): Planning another episode of Aeneas and the Mystery Mom, huh?

IRIS: How come you won't let him see you, Your Almost Unendurable Radiance?

APHRODITE: You just answered your own question!

HELEN (writing while APHRODITE dons bunnysuit): I still think it's duh.

APHRODITE: S'pose you could check up on your kids without getting caught?

HELEN (looking up as APHRODITE adds floppy ears): Snooping works best if you don't make yourself obvious.

APHRODITE (shedding bunnysuit as IRIS shows gorilla mask): He knows that one.

(As APHRODITE tries various disguise bits, PARIS ENTERS.)

HELEN (warning):We have company...(To APHRODITE) Wanna see what he thinks?

(APHRODITE in Groucho glasses makes herself visible.)

PARIS (trying not to laugh): Uh, the Lady is most fair in all her guises.

APHRODITE (taking in PARIS' general-suit): Maybe something sorta military...(Seizing sexy drum majorette suit shown by IRIS) Oh that is sweet!

HELEN (as APHRODITE puts it on): And in a zillion years he'll never guess it's you.

PARIS (as APHRODITE spins to show off): Hot look for you, Pretty One.

HELEN: Remind me to dig out my old drill team tunic.

PARIS (still admiring): Cute. Precious.

HELEN (sarcastic): And in a zillion years no one will guess it's you.

IRIS: Back to the hag outfit, Your Cute Preciousness?

APHRODITE (reluctantly putting slave gear back on): Do I really need the wig and nose? I mean, Aeneas' daddy'll be there. Anchises was my second-fave, after Adonis. I presume he's aged like fine wine, sublime cheese --

HELEN: Like cooked pasta.

PARIS: We could recommend another mortal if you're in that sorta mood...(TOGETHER with HELEN) Mr. Grabby!

APHRODITE: Sold!...(Donning fright wig and nose) You will present me to him as The Fairest?

PARIS: Beyond compare.

Black.


Scene Five

Night. MUSES play Danny Boy as, in torchlit megaron, TROJANS and WOMEN banquet at black-clad tables. Urn and gold chest rest under "Farewell, Beloved Hektor and Troilus" banner. Dim light on terrace reveals AMOROUS DUOS: APOLLO and KASSANDRA on steps and APHRODITE and DEIPHOBOS sinking below rampart edge as he whoops, waving hag-wig.

TROJAN 2/POLITES (unsteadily rising to toast): He was the bravest of us all. All hail lion-hearted Hektor! Twice.

TROJANS AND WOMEN: Hail lion-hearted Hektor! Hail, lion-hearted Hektor!

TROJAN2 (hand to heart): In his honor, The Heroic Code...(Joined by ALL inreciting) Strive to be godlike. Always aim to win first-place. Kill or at least humble all foes. Preserve honor, particularly in the format you can spend.

WOMAN 1 (sniffling as HEKUBA wails and sobs): Like don't forget sweet little Prince Troilus, also taken from us by Akhilles.

TROJAN1/NASTES: Demon chariot-driver, that kid.

TROJANS AND WOMEN: Hail sweet little Troilus, hell on wheels!

TROJAN 1 (rising): Best feast we've had here in years, too. Wine full strength n'real bread -- no ground-acorn blobs. Hail mag-na-na-inamimous Priam!

TROJANS AND WOMEN: Down with acorns! Damn the blockade! Host speech!

(AS TROJANS cry for him to speak, PRIAM slowly rises, struggling to regain composure and straighten his crown.)

APOLLO (coming onto KASSANDRA): Lo I shall never desert you, Kassandra.

KASSANDRA: Easy to say, Sun Lord...(Dodging a kiss) My snake's gone f***in wild...(Taking upset snake from robe as APOLLO draws back) Down, Slinky.

APOLLO (as KASSANDRA tosses snake into snake pot) Where were we?

KASSANDRA (over raucous laughter from rampart): We're not going there...(Leading APOLLO toward megaron) C'mon, let's listen to Dad.

PRIAM: Trojans and Allies, Queen Hekuba and I are deeply consoled by your --

HEKUBA (shoving PRIAM aside): No we aren't! We're old royals used to having our own way, fifty sons and plenty of real pita. We're goddamned inconsolable!

(As HEKUBA and PRIAM weep in each other's arms, HELEN and PARIS ENTER via ramp, their arms entwined.)

PRIAM: All my best sons gone! Hektor, Troilus, Mestor, Antiphus, Democo÷n, Cebriones, Isus, Gorgythion, Doryelus -- who else?...Just nine left outa fifty. Help me out here, Hekuba.

HEKUBA: They weren't all mine.

PRIAM: I want sympathy!

HEKUBA: No you don't. We want vengeance!

HEKUBA, KASSANDRA and OTHERS (pounding tables): Vengeance! Vengeance!

APOLLO: Is there anything I can do?

KASSANDRA (with HELEN in earshot): F***in-A, you can do Akhilles.

HELEN (air-kissing APOLLO) Hot perm, "golden fleece" effect. Met Paris yet, Bro?

PARIS (not seeing or hearing APOLLO, but offering handshake as HELEN indicates where he is): A great honor, Sir -- Sir --

(Accompanying fresh sobs from PRIAM and HEKUBA, MUSES strike up It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To. TROJANS dance.)

PARIS (still offering hand): Sir?

APOLLO (to KASSANDRA): Sayest then, be-est he a fair bowman?

KASSANDRA (as HELEN signals "say no, say no"): Just about fair-ish.

APOLLO (extending hand to shake as with other he reveals himself by grand gesture to awed PARIS): Thy talon, then, O Plausible Avenger!...(Leading PARIS aside): Paris my good man, fancy doing some business with me?

PARIS: Your Silver Bowedness, Your Glowingness!

APOLLO (wrapping an arm around PARIS' shoulders): My friends call me Dead-Eye.

HELEN: Not him -- puh-leeze no! He doesn't need any more hero karma!...(To PARIS) Like leading that Argive ship assault was bad enough, Hon.

PARIS: But this is my chance to break into the big-time...Uh, Your Dazzlingness --I mean, Dead-Eye, just how big would this project be?

APOLLO: As big as they come. You get to take out Akhilles!

HELEN: And then what?

PARIS: Finally I'll get some respect around here. They'll never call me chicken again; they'll never call me Pretty Boy!

APOLLO: Lo, do I know what that's like.

HELEN (as PARIS strides toward megaron): Think, Paris! Think!...(Aside as he ignores her and goes in) "Think" was never his best thing.

PARIS (shouting over music and chatter in megaron): Akhilles will die at my hand!...I mean it!...Guys, pay attention. Attention! (Pleading) Attention!

KASSANDRA (brusquely halting MUSES): All he wants is a little attention!

TROJAN 2 (over groans): Tell us something we don't know.

KASSANDRA (helping PARIS onto chair as music fades): Listen up! A God's heard your cries for vengeance.

HEKUBA: She has good news for once, our daughter?

PARIS: Excuse me, it's my news -- about revenge on that insolent lunatic Akhilles.

WOMAN 1: What's your idea of revenge, zits or a bad hair day?

PARIS: Dead meat by weekend...(As OTHERS groan and rise to go) He will be! A god revealed it -- honest, Apollo's on the terrace right now!

TROJANS AND WOMEN (farewelling PRIAM and HEKUBA): Sleep it off, Paris...Party for the annals!... Your boar recipe I gotta have...'Night, Sweeties. Kissy.

PARIS (climbing off chair while shouting): Okay, be that way! You wait and see!

(TROJANS and WOMEN crossing terrace to ramp don't see APOLLO.)

TROJAN 1 (looking down ramp): For the lova'Zeus, where's my chariot?

WOMAN 2: You always lose the chariot.

PARIS (shouting wildly): You'll see -- I'm gonna kill Akhilles -- I'm gonna!

WOMAN 1 (to HELEN): Your husband's a maniac, Darling. Too cute, though. You won't let him mix it up with that bully, willya?

TROJAN 2: Where's that god we're supposed to see out here?

WOMAN 2 (EXITING with TROJANS and WOMAN 1): Maybe he took the chariots.

HELEN (taking APOLLO aside): Give this contract to Deiphobos, I'm begging you!

APOLLO (eyes on KASSANDRA): Lo t'is a no-brainer. Akhilles is fated to die.

HELEN: But they love him upstairs -- heaven only knows why -- so whoever makes the hit goes top a'the shit list...(Seeing APOLLO's gaze on KASSANDRA) You did reason this through, didn't you -- Dead-Eye?...Gahds, Bro, you're billed as the rational one!...(Reacting to rowdiness on rampart, she turns and sees snake pot wobbling) Your snakes, Kassie -- like they're havin some kinda spas-attack!

KASSANDRA (shoving snakes back in pot): Apollo, help! We can't run your temple without serpents. Last time they escaped, I hadta schlep all the damn way to Kolchis for more; that was when -- oh, f**k, another big quake's coming!...(Shoving pot at APOLLO, who backs away) Hey, you slew the monster Python --

APOLLO: That was only one snake.

HELEN (signifying "teensy," then taking pot and slapping down snake heads): And snake legends, Kass, they're like fish stories.

APOLLO (to HELEN): Did you have to say that?

KASSANDRA (calling inside): Gonna be a tremor -- everybody sleep out tonight!

PRIAM: Wanna play Girl Scout, Kass, you're on your own...(Aside) We've got mosquitoes big enough to ride.

HEKUBA (to PRIAM): Your daughter is completely psychotic.

KASSANDRA (calling down ramp): Hey, don't sleep inside -- roof could cave in!

TROJANS AND WOMEN, OFF: Sky could fall, too...Her and her visions!

KASSANDRA (EXITING down ramp, shouting): I'm not talking visions, I'm talking serpent-lore! Serpents are seismic-award, Dickheads! At least move the kids!

HELEN (to APOLLO, who winks ON EXIT): Earth gonna move, Bro?... (To APHRODITE on rampart, fastening robe) Uncle Earthshaker looking crabby?

APHRODITE (checking): Bit of a surf but friendly enough at the mo'...(Descending from rampart, miffed by pot HELEN holds) Hmph. Apparently I missed party-favors...(As HELEN sweetly gives pot to her and snakes peek) Eek, horrid, vile!

(APHRODITE'S squeals segue to rumblings, shrieks, sirens. Lights flicker out long enough to topple some columns and set a camp tent down center. When steady light returns, days have passed. SLAVES are doing repairs in background and HELEN sits on a fallen pillar, dirty and expressionless -- beyond grief. By her are an amphora, from which she drinks, and badly broken toys. Above, HERA and ATHENA ENTER.)

HERA (gleefully rubbing her hands): Some mess it is in the suburbs!

ATHENA: Makes a start.

HELEN (ignoring GODS): It wasn't the Big One Kassie keeps predicting -- just a little quake. Those houses downhill, they're not so well-built as our citadel...Our outer walls stood -- and these. Only one room fell at the palace, the one where my kids slept...I shoulda moved them out no matter what everybody said . -- I coulda. So it wasn't a Fate thing. Or even personal against me. Others lost people, too -- down there...I've been through this and through this in my mind, as you can imagine. I can't find a god in it anywhere.

HERA (bellowing outrage): Well I never!

HELEN (aside, still ignoring GODS): Nobody had to die. We were warned.

HERA: And who blinded them? Who stopped their ears?...Nice work, Athena.

ATHENA: Uh. Not me...Maybe Uncle Earthshaker?

HERA: Doesn't know the meaning of commitment. First with Poseidon it's get the Trojans 'cause they never paid him n'Apollo for the walls. Besides which he backs the Atreides 'cause he once loved Pelops...But next thing it's get the Argives 'cause Akhilles slew his son Cygnus -- never mind the boy sprouted feathers n'flew south. Then Hektor shoots his grandson n'he hates Troy again.

ATHENA: How'd y'get the putz to show a sense of purpose?

HERA: That question I was about to put to you.

ATHENA: So there was no plan, no strategy? He was just -- blowing off steam?

HERA (horrified at the realization): Like a force a'nature!

ATHENA (calling, off): Daddy, Uncle Poseidon's gonna give us all a bad name!

HELEN (finally acknowledging GODS): Can I get a word in?... (Aside) Point is, if I'm bein punished, if Troy is, this time we created it ourselves. Outa stupidity.

HERA: Just the once -- I promise it's a one-off.

HELEN (grimly after another gulp of wine): Fine, Hera. That'd be just fine with me.

(Tipsy, HELEN tries without music to sing as ZEUS and APHRODITE ENTER above and HERA and ATHENA laugh.)

HELEN (clumsily dancing): Sure I'd rather blame them!
Castigate n'shame them!
Lay this at their feet!
Moan my cruel mistreatment!
Implore them to be kind
-- exonerate all mankind!
(choking up, collapsing) And mostly little me --

ZEUS (quietly): I know how y'feel, Kid.

HELEN (thick-tongued): I seriously doubt that.

APHRODITE: Darlin, we've seen a lot more loved ones come n'go in our time.

HELEN: You've seen a lot more come n'go in an afternoon!

ZEUS: Immortality's not all it's cracked up to be.

HELEN: But y'got a few millennia on me -- for developing equanimity. N'you were never in my position to start with. So there!

APHRODITE (as HELEN gulps more wine): You'll perk up when Akhilles dies.

(Choking on wine, HELEN gives GODS an "I can't believe you" look. AKHILLES ENTERS below, shouting.)

AKHILLES: Come out n'fight!. Truce has lasted long enough for barbarian rugrats!

HELEN (a cold aside as she rises to look down): Maybe I will feel better, actually.

(As AKHILLES turns to exit, MENELAUS ENTERS furious.)

MENELAUS (shoving AKHILLES back): You didn't have to say that.

HELEN (aside, as AKHILLES and GODS look equally amazed): Did I hear right?

MENELAUS (punching AKHILLES): This is for Helen.

HELEN (moving downstage as fight rages below): No stutter.

HERA (to ATHENA): At such a moment for diplomacy, your Odysseus, where's he?

ATHENA (evasively after sharing a knowing look with ZEUS): Errands.

AGAMEMNON (ENTERING over trumpet blasts, off): Save it for the battlefield.

MENELAUS (continuing to beat AKHILLES): This is personal.

(Warcries sound, off, and KASSANDRA emerges from camp tent to see PARIS ENTER megaron, switching pj top for general-jac.)

KASSANDRA (calling into tent as PARIS grabs bow and arrows, but not armor): What is it with you hunks? You're all slugs...Apollo!

HELEN (looking at rampart as PARIS nears): Guess y'want me to show my face.

PARIS (as APHRODITE signals "no"): I think we can pass on that today.

HELEN (over warcries, off): Passing up armor, too?

KASSANDRA: The Force is with him.

PARIS (seeking Apollo) Uh, exactly where? (To HELEN as KASSANDRA finds tent empty and shrugs) Sweetheart, I hate to leave you like this.

(APOLLO ENTERS above and, with APRODITE, shakes his head.)

APOLLO: Not a pretty picture.

(Making himself visible to PARIS, APOLLO swaps "V' signs with him.)

HELEN (viewing fight below as PARIS pecks her cheek): Do whatcha gotta do.

Black.


Scene Six

Night. On torchlit apron, horse parts are partially assembled atop wheeled platform. XANTHUS sobs and ARGIVES under "Farewell Boldest Akhilles" banner watch AJAX and TEUCER grab for shiny armor and arms. ODYSSEUS quietly ENTERS with young NEOPTOLEMUS (Akhilles' son and image) and a big sack. ODYSSEUS remains unseen until he speaks.

AJAX (pounding tall bullhide shield full of holes): Akhilles' arms are mine by right. Didn't I save the ships? Fought off them Trojans singlehanded. N'nobody else dared face Hektor in single combat. I'm Akhilles' cousin, too.

TEUCER: I'm as big a war hero as you, Lord of the Shield? And I'm a cousin --

AJAX (slipping arm around TEUCER's neck to put knife against his throat): But you're backing my claim -- right, Bro?

NEOPTOLEMUS: Hey, Cousin Ajax -- Cousin Teucer -- what about me?

AJAX (still threatening TEUCER with knife): He don't deserve.

TEUCER (agreeing from fear): You just got here, Neoptolelmus.

NEOPTOLEMUS: But I'm Akhilles' son!

AJAX: I'm a grandson of Zeus!

ODYSSEUS (stepping forward): That distinction I can also claim.

ARGIVES (surprised): Odysseus!...Huh? Where'd he come from?

ODYSSEUS: I was saying: From Zeus on Dad's side and Hermes on Mom's. And, as some of you know, I've also come from top-secret duty -- with...(opening sack) the arrows of Herakles! (As ARGIVES cheer) Can't take Troy without 'em.

AGAMEMNON (striking out item on list): What about Pelops' shoulderblade?

ODYSSEUS: Recovered the whole skeleton...(Silencing ARGIVE cheers) Unfortuately that ship sank...(Silencing ARGIVE moans) Can't be mandatory anymore.

AGAMEMNON (striking it out): Don't see how. (Reaching for arrows) I'll take those.

ODYSSEUS (indicating Akhilles' arms while keeping arrows): And I'll take these.

AJAX: You can't even lift Akhilles' arms!

ODYSSEUS: Who carried 'em back to camp -- on his corpse?

AJAX: So you can haul the gear in a pinch, you'll never use it. You just sneak around spying and playing tricks!

TEUCER (with AJAX's knife still at his throat): Wear his gold helmet on your kinda mission and you're a sitting duck, Odysseus of the Many Schemes.

AJAX: Ever need a shield, use yours; it's barely broke in...(Pounding hole-riddled shield again) But looka mine: seven layers a'bullhide shot to Swiss cheese!

NEOPTOLEMUS (playing to AGAMEMNON): I heard he was a draft-dodger --

ODYSSEUS: So was your pa. Had to round him up myself.

NEOPTOLEMUS: Then he really wouldn't want you to have his stuff -- it's mine.

AGAMEMNON: Arms must be earned, but none disputes your claim to his loot. Gold, slaves...(To MENELAUS) Hermione a life entitlement or bequeathable?

MENELAUS: He seems like a nice kid. He can have her if you're still throwing in the coast towns...(As AGAMEMNON shakes his head) You're not?

AGAMEMNON: Town deal sticks; it's just I can't get over you without the stammer!

MENELAUS (to NEOPTOLEMUS): So gold, slaves, towns, my daughter. Satisfied?

ODYSSEUS (quietly as NEOPTOLEMUS backs off): Regarding brides, A.G., you recall how your Iphigenia sailed to wed Akhilles? Without my conning her mama, we wouldn't even be here. Y'owe me...(Loudly to ALL) I, too, have slain foes...(Showing scar on chest) And shed blood, unlike the unscarred Ajax...As for his saving our fleet, Patroklus in the guise of Akhilles drove the Trojans back. As for his duel, he didn't exactly wipe the mat with Hektor and the job was his by lot; he was ninth to volunteer!...And when a false dream told you to give up the war, who stopped you? Me! Who was ready to flee? Ajax! Further, he's a dolt! On this shield he wants, a gift from heaven, can he explain the engravings?

AJAX: I recognize the Big Dipper...(At a whisper from TEUCER) And the square shape's -- y'say Orion?

ODYSSEUS: Try something easier.

(ODYSSEUS offers AJAX some horse parts. AJAX moves knife from TEUCER's throat and forces parts together weirdly.)

ODYSSEUS: Brawn has its place, sure, but it's outclassed by wisdom. Does Ajax advise you when to fight, A.G.? Has he captured Trojan spies? Did he learn from the seer Prince Helenus what the Fates require for destruction of Troy?

AGAMEMNON: Ah, yes, we were speaking of the shoulderblade.

ODYSSEUS: Nix that.

AGAMEMNON: So it's Herakles' arrows, present...(As ODYSSEUS takes bow from sack) And the bow. You didn't off Philoctetes for these?

ODYSSEUS: Aboard the hospital ship. Not a pleasant patient, but he's here.

TEUCER (trying to fit horse parts with AJAX, who's screaming with frustration): You made us abandon him!

ODYSSEUS: Who could take the screaming?

AGAMEMON (after checking list again): We still need the Palladium.

ODYSSEUS: Just my sorta show. Won't be easy, but from the midst of the foe...(pointing to Troy) from Athena's temple on farthest height, beyond the citadel, I'll get her image all right...(Staring at AJAX) Unless you'd rather go.

(AJAX howls and flings down horse parts, then throws himself on his spear and dies. TEUCER shrugs and, at a sign from AGAMEMNON, ODYSSEUS gathers armor and weapons into his sack and gives sack to NEOPTOLEMUS, who effuses thanks.)

ODYSSEUS: Arms are yours, m'boy. Just remember how you came by 'em...(Giving arrows to AGAMEMNON) Don't prick yourself, A.G. With those things, any wound's fatal.

Black.


Scene Seven

Two days later. Arms clash and warcries sound, off, as KASSANDRA helps PARIS up ramp to terrace, where formerly toppled columns are upright and camp tent remains in place with small cauldron simmering at entry. His arm bandaged, PARIS looks ill. In megaron, HELEN slowly wakes on chaise, abduction bag beside her.

KASSANDRA: Why'd you go out today, Dumbshit?

PARIS: Thing barely grazed me -- KASSANDRA (feeling his forehead): You're blazing...(Taking first aid kit from tent and digging through it as herbs fly out) Maybe a dose of this.

PARIS (with a glance at HELEN): Think I'll have what she's having. Just a taste, though -- I'll be okay if I sleep a few hours.

KASSANDRA (brewing tea): While you crash, I'm going for Oenone...(As PARIS shakes his head) You never told Helen?

HELEN (rousing): Who's -- Oenone?

PARIS (evasively as he goes to HELEN in megaron): Herb specialist.

HELEN (groggily): Don't want any more herbs. I had the worst dream...(Seeing awful truth in PARIS' eyes) Not?...(As PARIS holds her) Oh, you're so hot --

PARIS (forcing a smile): Glad you still think so.

(KASSANDRA brings tea and unwraps the arm -- streaky and swollen.)

KASSANDRA: Infection's set in -- you shoulda shown me this yesterday, Dufus!

HELEN: I've been crashed a whole day!...(As over battle noise PARIS lifts two fingers) Sleeping through that?...(Seeing PARIS' arm) And this?...(Looking around) Out here in public?

PARIS: Our room, you said you couldn't face -- where you were when the quake -- I can't stand the sight of it, either.

HELEN (alert, rising): Lie here...(To KASSANDRA as they ease PARIS onto chaise): You'll bring this herb-person?

KASSANDRA: Fountain nymph.

HELEN: Oh, better! They're fabu at healing magic.

PARIS (getting dozey): She -- won't -- come.

HELEN: Why in Pop's name not? As a water sprite, she's related to Poseidon, who was kin to Akhilles on his mama's side but really peeved at him about that Cygnus matter. Keeps switching sides, but he n' Apollo's music built these walls! And Apollo's his favorite nephew besides your stepbro-in law n'tight with Kass. And I'm Poseidon's niece, so this nymph and I are some sorta cousins.

KASSANDRA (after a beat to take all this in): I wish it were that simple.

HELEN: Like she's bound to help him out -- they're cousins by marriage.

KASSANDRA: Closer'n that.

PARIS: Who says the kid's mine?

KASSANDRA (putting on hiking boots): You did when you moved her in.

HELEN: She was living at the palace?!

KASSANDRA: When you got here, he walked right by 'em at the dock; not a word.

PARIS (groggy): Hey, Aphrodite blinded me -- I didn't do it on purpose.

HELEN: So you apologized later? You're paying child support?

PARIS (on the verge of sleep): It's ancient history.

HELEN (hopefully to KASSANDRA): If they loved each other once, that's a plus --

KASSANDRA (ON EXIT): Can't tell. Not Apollo's department, evidently.

HELEN (turning to PARIS): You mighta mentioned you'd been married before.

PARIS: Not officially....(Trying to sit, weakly falling back) I shoulda told you the truth -- but I was afraid -- I'd lose you.

HELEN (over warcries): Gahds, you're silly sometimes. Like I don't have a past?...(Kissing him) All that wine n'oil doctorin your arm, y'smell like salad!

PARIS (faintly as he falls asleep): You smell -- like heaven.

HELEN (looking around suspiciously): I haven't even washed my hair in ages.

(Rising from behind chaise, APHRODITE hands HELEN a bottle.)

APHRODITE: Divine fragrance, no? I brought you more "Fracas." Your anniversary.

HELEN: Oooh, Paris!...(Seeing he's asleep) He'll be so pleased.

APHRODITE (with a tense smile): Ah, ten years! Long run for a relationship.

(HELEN happily spritzes herself, then the air, then gazes lovingly at PARIS as at APHRODITE's cue MUSES and GRACES ENTER above. As MUSES play, HELEN sings with APHRODITE and GRACES...)

A Husband Perfect as Mine

HELEN: His looks are superhuman;
he's deeply into grooming;
he even loves to shop.
He is no rocket-scientist
but there's a blastoff in his kiss
that no one's ever topped.

APHRODITE: A connoisseur of pretty faces,
he has all the graces!

GRACES: Not lately, M'am; we stopped.
Like her he ditched a spouse and child;
fidelity was not their style
-- 'til this time down the aisle.

HELEN: Though he's not much good in battle,
a bit too fond of cattle
I'm proud to be his wife.
He chose to be an artiste,
not a murderous foul war-beast.
He's an ornament to life!

APHRODITE: When those two sailed from Sparta,
we all knew who was smarter
but talented he is.

GRACES: He can be forceful in attack;
that's when y'meet him in the sack --

MUSES: And lyre-wise, he's a whiz!

GRACES AND MUSES: Some may deem him vain and lazy
or unmotivated, hazy
yet he always aims to please.

APHRODITE: So he's a sweet marshmallow;
an encomium to Shallow?
It's done so becomingly.

HELEN: The whole wide world will call okay
whatever is your metier;
your faults they'll vilify.
But when you're feelin real affection,
don'tcha just love imperfection
in the apple of your eye?

The qualities that aren't so grand
can add up to the ideal man
who finds your flaws sublime;
adores you in entirety
n'lives with you in amity:
a husband perfect as mine!

(Waving GRACES and MUSES off, APHRODITE scoots a chair near chaise for HELEN.)

HELEN (aside): A goddess bringing me a chair...(As she sits and takes PARIS' hand, to APHRODITE) Y'did say he'd be okay -- so Oenone's coming?

APHRODITE: It was a really lousy breakup...(Opening abduction bag to remove mirror and cosmetics) Let's get you fluffed. You'll be remarried by sunset.

HELEN: I quit!...(Shoving bag at APHRODITE) You can hang this up with your retirees' "follow-me" sandals!

APHRODITE: Not so fast. Consider what you can accomplish all alone with Deiphobos -- and then there's always Menelaus to fall back on.

PARIS (a dying gasp): Helen!

HELEN ( a stricken wail): You betrayed us!

APHRODITE: You'd expect what else from love?

(As wailing HELEN embraces PARIS, DEIPHOBOS ENTERS via ramp with HAROLD and TROJANS bearing stretcher. Each adds another black band to arm as HAROLD plays Taps. DEIPHOBOS rips off his brother's command insignia. HEKUBA and PRIAM ENTER from palace and EXIT with TROJANS and corpse via ramp -- leaving DEIPHOBOS with APHRODITE, who reveals herself by putting on fright wig. In fear, he EXITS, running down ramp...Wedding bells peal; TROJANS and SLAVES (ALL but Odysseus, a Grace and two Argives) ENTER in party mode, female mourners in Little Black Dresses. SLAVES serve cake and grill sacrifices. Sliding Helen's bag into tent, APHRODITE EXITS.)

HERA (angry as light rises above): Decent period a'mourning he oughta allow her.

ATHENA (cheerfully): Got the resta her life to mourn...(Rising with a sniff) Move downwind a'me, Stepmom -- they're burnin your sacrifices.

HERA: For your generous gesture thanks, but a marriage made in heaven this isn't.

ATHENA (quietly): Don't be so sure.

(DEIPHOBOS ENTERS beaming via ramp with PRIAM, HEKUBA,KASSANDRA and HELEN, carrying wedding bouquet and funeral urn.)

PRIAM (raising fist): It's a disgrace!

HEKUBA: You put him in charge.

PRIAM: Who was left?

KASSANDRA: Me!

ATHENA: Under different circumstances, I could get to like that gal.

HERA: About this milk-a-kindness mood y'seem to be in --

DEIPHIOBOS (greeting FAMILY): Did somebody die? ...(Leading OTHERS to dance- floor as MUSES strike up Fever, but telling HELEN) You save your strength.

HELEN (aside): Like impeccable taste to choose that tune...(At a hissing from tent, to KASSANDRA who doesn't hear) Your snakes are having another hissy-fit!

ODYSSEUS (PEEKING from tent with a hiss to catch her eye): My condolences.

HELEN: How'd you get in here? Never mind; just get me out -- oh, thank --

ODYSSEUS: Athena.

HERA (to ATHENA as HELEN looks up and salutes her): Aren't you the sly one?

HELEN (as ODYSSEUS emerges with cloak that reads "I'm Invisible and You're Not"): She loaned you her cloak!...(As he swirls it around himself) Where'd you go?...(As he peeks out, beckoning) I can't just walk out on my reception.

FAUX-HELEN 1 (emerging from tent with abduction bag): Gotcha covered.

HELEN (darting under cloak with profound relief): Take me home!

ODYSSEUS: Little chore first. Athena wants her Palladium.

HELEN: Strictly no guys allowed at her temple...(Getting it) Okay, I owe her one.

ODYSSEUS (showing statue of Athena): Brought a copy you can switch. Then we'll scoot down to the ships.

FAUX-HELEN 1 (nodding): I'll signal when your horse comes in.

HELEN (rushed to exit as ATHENA signs "hush" to FAUX-HELEN): Who's racing?

FAUX-HELEN 1: I'll take care a'this urn and your bag...Later, Master of Schemes!

HELEN (to ODYSSEUS): We're coming back?

FAUX-HELEN 1: To attack! They'll be hiding behind the island.

HELEN (ON EXIT): But I'm leaving -- they win -- what's to attack for?

FAUX-HELEN 1 (aside): Is kinda strange, Girlfriend.

ATHENA (shouting down): Just play th'script!

(FAUX-HELEN 1 slips gold dagger into bag. As ARGIVES ENTER below, she calls TROJANS to see them removing all but horse.)

FAUX-HELEN 1: Hey, Guys! War's over!

DEIPHOBOS: They're high-tailin it -- scared shitless now that I'm CINC!

FAUX-HELEN 1 (taking his arm as removal continues): I'm sure you're right, Dear.

TROJANS and WOMEN: It's over! It's finally over!

(TROJANS AND WOMEN sing as MUSES play a hymn...)

Tonight's Our Night

TROJANS AND WOMEN (singing): Tonight's our night;
we've lived to see
an end of all our misery.
We'll sow our fields;
we'll eat real bread;
we'll sleep all night in fragrant beds.

TROJANS: No more invaders on our soil!

WOMEN: And no more wasting salad oil!
At last we're safe from Argive raids --

TROJANS: And we can trade without blockades!

WOMEN (kneeling at altar): Due thankfulness
we now declare
to all the Gods
who heard our prayers.

ZEUS (spoken as OTHER GODS fidget, too): Uh, little embarrassing.

TROJANS (also kneeling): Tonight's our night; we're finally free;
we humbly credit this to Thee.

TROJANS AND WOMEN: With grateful hearts, we turn from strife
to the simplicities of life
and we shall bless each dawn's fair light;
the sweet serenity of night;
the measured seasons of the weather;
loving hearts of those we treasure;
and the Gods, who ended our woes.
We need no more fallen heroes.
Grant us comfort in our sorrow;
make us worthy of tomorrow.

ZEUS (spoken as TROJANS AND WOMEN rise): Makes y'feel scuzzy.

HEKUBA (raising a toast): Tonight's our night; our dream's come true!

DEIPHOBOS (toasting FAUX-HELEN): We got our victory and I got you!

PRIAM (toasting): Let there be peace and liberty in our kingdom by the sea!

TROJANS AND WOMEN (toasting): Let there be peace forevermore
in our kingdom by the shore!

(Music fades and ARGIVES raise wooden horse upright on apron.)

ATHENA (calling down): Don't forget th'gift card!

FAUX-HELEN 1 (as ARGIVES tie card to horse and EXIT): Not an Argive in sight -- just a big pressie!

Black


Scene Eight

MUSES play OFF or ON. HERA and ATHENA unroll scroll, following script, as ZEUS, ARES, APOLLO, APHRODITE and EROS watch HELEN ENTER with torch. She leads FAUX-HELENS, robed and veiled in white, up ramp to rampart. Bringing horse, PRIAM, HEKUBA, HAROLD and AENEAS ENTER. WOMEN and TROJANS (everyone not already on) cheer. KASSANDRA is by tent calming snakes. On ram-part DEIPHOBOS poses as King of the World. Urn and bag remain on terrace.

THE HELENS (singing): Whose the triumph? Whose the glory?
Who're the heroes of this story?
Who can boast we made the Greeks capitulate?
Who deserves a huge ovation -- honor, tribute, adulation?
Who can brag our team's the greatest of the great?
Who must royals tip their crowns to?
Who should even gods bow down to?
Who can gloat our will is stronger than the Fates?

(GODS except HERA, ATHENA and ZEUS gasp at such pride -- until HELEN, arms raised grandly atop rampart, speaks.)

HELEN: Not us -- we got lucky.

ATHENA (shouting down): Cut!... (To HERA as ALL MORTALS freeze but HELEN) Stepmom, give her the line.

HERA (shouting down): "That's us!" you're s'posed to say; it's Poseidon's cue!...(Aside) Mortal pride he can't abide -- won't even let a sandcastle stand.

ATHENA (shouting down): Y'forgot the torch signal, too. Take it again, Phantom!

HELEN AND FAUX-HELENS (together, all lifting veils): Oh, just give us a minute.

ZEUS (amused but firm): Troy's gotta fall, Kid.

HELEN: Can't it fall just as well no matter who's home?

ZEUS (with a shrug, as APHRODITE laughs): Technically speaking.

HERA: It's a doublecross!

(FAUX-HELENS veil faces and TROJANS unfreeze.)

HELEN: Who feels like a holiday? Been cooped up a long time.

APHRODITE (calling down): Go for it, Aeneas! Pack your duds and little Julius and some relics -- like your daddy. Has Mummy got plans for you in Rome!

HELEN (giving altar idols to AENEAS): Everyone for Italy, form up behind godlike Aeneas. Isn't spontaneity fun? ...(To TROJANS left as MUSES EXIT behind AENEAS) For those who'd prefer an outing closer to home, we've got a moonlight hike up Mount Ida; sleep among cool pines! The Royal Family will escort --

DEIPHOBOS: We're not going anywhere but bed.

HELEN (sweetly): I didn't mean us two...Looking to PRIAM and HEKUBA) Ma, Pa?

PRIAM: It'd be like old times.

HEKUBA: Nah, let's just have a good night's rest, then a picnic.

KASSANDRA (as HEKUBA and PRIAM head indoors): Not in there!...(To OTHERS moving to exit) Tonight's the night, I'm sure of it. Birds haven't sung a note all day n'one a'my favorite snakes bit me. Don't anybody sleep inside.

HELEN: Y'want the gang outdoors, take 'em on the nature walk.

KASSANDRA (gloomily resigned): My fate is here.

HELEN (shouting up): Apollo, reason with her!

APOLLO (shouting down): Lo, thou flee far and with unfaltering speed...(Ignored) Thou shalt be shepherded; I am thy guard...(Still ignored) Don't be a drag, Kass.

HELEN (aside as KASSANDRA peers in horse's mouth): Y'knew she'd hafta do that.

KASSANDRA: I smell garlic.

PRIAM (examining label on horse seam): Fire-retardant. Says it's non-flammable.

KASSANDRA: So we'll hurl the goddamned thing off the cliff.

HEKUBA: Snooks, it's a gift!...(Reading card) "For your temple of Poseidon, a good luck token; no hard feelings this end. Fond wishes, your friends."

PRIAM (as HEKUBA places garland on horse): Supposed to protect us from quakes.

KASSANDRA (as OTHERS lurch and crouch): So why's everything shaking?

HERA (as tremor stops): Impatient he's growing for his cue.

ZEUS: You've put off this signal business long enough, Helen.

HELEN (to remaining TROJANS): Willya please kindly for Pete's sake take the hike?

DEIPHOBOS (fiercely, drivng KASSANDRA into tent while OTHERS EXIT via ramp or into palace): Get lost! We want some privacy!

(Only FAUX-HELENS remain at palace level as DEIPHOBOS seizes HELEN into a kiss, during which she waves torch behind him. HERA and ATHENA sigh relief, but kiss continues. GODS grow tense.)

ATHENA (finally ready to burst): Somebody pick it up at "who can gloat our will is stronger than the Fates?" n' finish it up right -- "That's us!"

FAUX-HELEN 1: She's as good as home once th'Greeks get back. Who needs walls to fall; who needs more bloodshed?...Believe I'll catch up with godlike Aeneas.

FAUX-HELEN 2 (EXITING via ramp with #1 as APHRODITE laughs): Hm, hot idea!

FAUX-HELEN 3 (EXITING via megaron) I got things t'do inside.

ATHENA (as FAUX-HELENS vanish): Daddy, make Helen deliver the line!

HELEN (wrenching free): I won't do it!...(Chased by DEIPHOBUS as she runs down and grabs abduction bag off table) Kassie, y'gotta clear off or it'll be too late!

KASSANDRA (shoving out "Prepare to Meet Thy Doom" sign): Like I already know.

HELEN (with wry smile at sign as DEIPHOBOS grabs her): Like we've already met.

KASSANDRA (seeing DEIPHOBOS toss HELEN): For God's sake, not there!

HELEN (carried inside by DEIPHOBOS): Want quakes, Pop, place your own order!

(HELEN and DEIPHOBOS EXIT into palace; KASSANDRA EXITS via ramp.)

APOLLO (calling after KASSANDRA): At mine holy shrine I shall greet thee!

ATHENA (as APOLLO EXITS): Take her on up t'my temple, Bro -- it'll be safer. And if y'got any new visions for th'chick, maybe she'd rather not know.

ZEUS (calling, off): Nectar neat, Ganymede -- double. This parta my job I hate.

GANYMEDE (ENTERING with drink): You hate? Priam's my brother.

ZEUS (with an admiring look): I keep forgetting that. Immortality agrees with ya.

GANYMEDE: First y'do me this personal favor, then treat me like hired help; Zeusy, what'd I do?...(Weeping) Just as my niece foresaw of Paris -- I, too, am impaled upon a heavenly shaft!

(APHRODITE giggles. HERA and ARES wince. Below, MENELAUS and NEOPTOLEMUS drop from horse by rope and EXIT via ramp.)

GANYMEDE: If ever you loved me, Lord of the Lightning Bolt, spare my hometown It's where we met!...(Sobbing) What do you see in those long-haired Akhians?

APHRODITE (escorting GANYMEDE off): It's just about the jock surplus, Darlin --

GANYMEDE (sniffing at ZEUS): Too many heroes, too little time! You're an animal!

ARES (rising): At least let me wake the Trojans, Dad.

ZEUS: Poseidon'll handle it...(Thundering) Okay, take out th'gate; give us th'quake! ...(After huge roar, over sounds of walls tumbling and warcries) Now y'can go.

(As HERA and ATHENA rise to exit, ARES trips them and swings down to join HAROLD, who's run from palace to fight ARGIVES coming up ramp (NIREUS and DIOMEDES) EROS slides down and kicks ARGIVES' shins. ATHENA and HERA EXIT and RE-ENTER below, fighting. ARES drives ATHENA down ramp; as they EXIT, APOLLO RE-ENTERS theologeion, firing arrows. HAROLD, stabbed and thrown over wall at right, screams. A new quake roars and rampart rocks wildly; horse also falls. WOMEN ENTER, running from palace and are captured as they cling to and kiss columns, doors, altar. As screams of WOMEN, OFF, ring from Temple Hill, APOLLO EXITS. PRIAM, uselessly donning armor, is led by HECUBA to altar for safety -- but NEOPTOLEMUS (quick change for ARES) ENTERS with ODYSSEUS and ATHENA under cloak of invisibility and stabs the old king. EROS, rushing at NEOPTOLEMUS, is tripped by HERA and held by ear. As battle din, off, subsides, ARGIVES ENTER to loot and take everything but fallen urn. ODYSSEUS throws off cloak to seek Helen.)

ODYSSEUS: Helen!

TROJAN WOMEN (held at spearpoint and mad): Helen!

APHRODITE (PEEKING ON above through fingers): Is the gory part over?

ATHENA: There'll be Deiphobos' last stand; his suite's an arsenal...Oops.

(Seeing ODYSSEUS EXIT into palace, ATHENA EXITS after him.)

EROS (as APHRODITE winks): Coulda redecorated.

(HERA wears a puzzled look as AGAMEMNON ENTERS up ramp and ODYSSEUS, unscathed, RE-ENTERS with ATHENA.)

AGAMEMNON (seeing only's PRIAM's corpse): Took care of Deiphobos inside?

ODYSSEUS: Didn't get a chance.

ATHENA (with a grin): He's tellin th'truth for once.

ODYSSEUS (nauseous): Hands sliced off, ears, nose --

ATHENA (applauding as HELEN ENTERS from palace with bag): She had the balls!

HERA: Them, too?...(Looking to ZEUS, who shrugs) A phantom, this could be.

ODYSSEUS (as HELEN sees HEKUBA among WOMEN enslaved): I'll take Hekuba.

ATHENA (as MENELAUS ENTERS with KASS): No fair grabbin ass up at my place!

ODYSSEUS (as AGAMEMNON grabs KASSANDRA): A.G's set on having her.

HELEN (as APOLLO RE-ENTERS above): She's gonna be a char for Kay?!

APOLLO: I don't believe that's quite the idea.

(APOLLO aims arrow at AGAMEMNON. ZEUS snatches it.)

KASSANDRA (ON EXIT with AGAMEMNON hauling her off): Grope me while you can, Fucker -- you're marked; you're a dead man!

HELEN (calling, off): At least we'll be neighbors, Kassie...(Aside): Unless Aggie kills her. Or Menelaus kills me.

(APOLLO EXITS above, bummed out. TWO ARGIVES EXIT into palace to finish looting while DIOMEDES, NIREUS and MENELAUS EXIT via ramp with WOMEN and loot.)

WOMEN (ON EXIT): We're gonna get you, B***h! You're gonna die like our guys!

HELEN: Hey, Girlfriends, I lost kids and a husband!

WOMEN: Two husbands and she still had a spare...She's made widows all over the Med; we should organize! I'll form a Delos branch...Count me in for Corinth!

(ODYSSEUS gallantly offers an arm to HEKUBA, leaving HELEN on shadowy bare stage with GODS, corpse of PRIAM; Paris' urn, by which she kneels. In the bag she opens, nestled among pink diaries is a gold dagger -- bloody -- which she lifts out.)

HELEN (aiming blade at her chest while peeking up at ZEUS): I'd really rather.

(As ZEUS shakes head, HELEN drops knife in bag, removes makeup, touches up and recloses bag. After drawing a fingertip through spilled ashes from urn, she writes on its lid: "TROY." As MENELAUS ENTERS with torch and drawn sword, to which HELEN bares and bows her neck, ZEUS shakes his head at HERA.)

HERA (freezing MENELAUS with a fingersnap): It was fun but it's over.

(HERA and ATHENA EXIT, let-down, then EROS fires a tiny arrow at MENELAUS, whose fury alters to awe. Sheathing sword, he raises HELEN as with armloads of amphorae ARGIVES ENTER from palace.)

HELEN (over whoops of ARGIVES): Oh, that's just plonk; don't even bother.

(ARGIVES drop wine and EXIT; MENELAUS tosses torch into its pool, which flames. Lights fade to firelight.)

HELEN: So, Menelaus Fave of Heaven, s'pose we take a nice long cruise while alla this blows over. Second honeymoon...Well, third -- fourth if y'count Deiphobos but we didn't take a trip.

MENELAUS: What about Bravest Theseus?

HELEN (taking his arm as they move to exit): Okay, fifth plus short holidays...Anyhow, we've got a story we can dine out on for years!

MENELAUS: And think of all the great guest-gifts!

HELEN: Gahds, you sound like Aggie...(A flash) You aren't stuttering, either.

Black.

Curtain Falls.

Interlude

Earthquake and storm noises rage intermittently during interlude, played outside curtain on moonlit apron. Frantically HERA runs on with binculars.

HERA: Off-course the ships are all blowin! Who's messin with my Argives? And this earthquake to-do, it's spread -- in Pylos they're losin lives!

(ATHENA ENTERS and grabs binocs. HERA places a hand to her ear.)

HERA: Now the fall a'more walls I am hearin --

ATHENA (looking through binocs) Oops, there went Tiryns...(Calling, off) Y'gotta rein in Poseidon, Dad -- he's gone goatf***ing mad!

HERA (grabbing binocs back): Now the monster is roarin toward Crete -- y'know I love Knossos!...(Aside) Got modern plumbing.

ZEUS (coldly on entrance): Stopper the pathos.

HERA: Minoan culture's goin down the drain!

ZEUS (twirling his thunderbolt): Expect more a'the same; it's due soon.

ATHENA (aghast): Civilization's doomed?

ZEUS (as ATHENA and HERA react with growing horror): To a Dark Age, yes. Your Greeks'll regress in a few lifespans to -- Primitive Man. No more palaces -- squalor. Disorder. Illiteracy...Thanks to jealousy...(Moving to exit but turning back as quake sounds resurge) Gals, it's fair to say you've seen your heyday.

HERA (calling after ZEUS EXITS): This I'll buy never!...(Drawing ATHENA close to confide) We'll show him "clever"...At sea they'll be fine; we're playin for time.

ATHENA (aside): Actually I'm not wild about what they pulled at my shrine.

Black.



Final curtain's rising!